Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Be sure to check out my Post 9/11 website for links to lots of stuff I care about. I have put all of my 2002 rants into a single file.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

What the Iraq war is about, take seventeen
From the increasingly bizarre Thomas Friedman:

We are attracting all these opponents to Iraq because they understand this war is The Big One. They don't believe their own propaganda. They know this is not a war for oil. They know this is a war over ideas and values and governance. They know this war is about Western powers, helped by the U.N., coming into the heart of their world to promote more decent, open, tolerant, women-friendly, pluralistic governments by starting with Iraq — a country that contains all the main strands of the region: Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

Yeah, Tom--that's exactly what AWOL said in the state of the union, what Powell told the UN. Bush pushing for "pluralistic governments" in the Middle East, while doing everything possible to destroy the ones we have here (Texas and California, for example). You're a funny man, Mr. Friedman. The war IS about oil. It's about empire. It's about repression.

Friedman tries to atone for this nonsense by ripping the Bushies on their methods:

We may fail, but not because we have attracted terrorists who understand what's at stake in Iraq. We may fail because of the utter incompetence with which the Pentagon leadership has handled the postwar. (We don't even have enough translators there, let alone M.P.'s, and the media network we've set up there to talk to Iraqis is so bad we'd be better off buying ads on Al Jazeera.) We may fail because the Bush team thinks it can fight The Big One in the Middle East — while cutting taxes at home, shrinking the U.S. Army, changing the tax code to encourage Americans to buy gas-guzzling cars that make us more dependent on Mideast oil and by gratuitously alienating allies.

We may fail because to win The Big One, we need an American public, and allies, ready to pay any price and bear any burden, but we have a president unable or unwilling to summon either.

If I actually believed that the war was justified for some reason, I don't think I'd be terribly critical of the way it has been run, except for the giveaways to Halliburton, Bechtel and the like. Occupying a country like Iraq is bound to be difficult, and people will die. If the occupation were justified, I'd certainly give them the benefit of the doubt. I point out the failures of the occupation not to point out every flaw in its execution, but to call attention to the insanity that caused it to happen. The maniacs who did this must not be allowed to do it again. And Friedman is certainly believing his own propaganda if he thinks the Bushies for one minute considered bringing "pluralistic governments" to Iraq or anywhere else.

[Update] Someone else realized that not only has Friedman gone off the deep end again, but in a different spot from last time:

The "real reason" for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. -- Thomas Friedman, June 4, 2003.

From Steve Greenberg.

I'm so sick of this childish rhetoric!
From Bush's radio address:

From Afghanistan to Iraq, to the Philippines and elsewhere, we are waging a campaign against the terrorists and their allies, wherever they gather, wherever they plan, and wherever they act. This campaign requires sacrifice, determination and resolve, and we will see it through. Iraq is an essential front in this war. Now we're fighting terrorists and remnants of that regime who have everything to lose from the advance of freedom in the heart of the Middle East.

And then there's this line: We're determined, as well, not to let murderers decide the future of the Middle East. What a frigging hypocrite! A mass murderer like Bush saying crap like that.

Par for the course
As of yesterday, 22 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq while the President vacationed.

Does Bush seem just a tad callous, or what?

It took him four hours to bring himself to speak to the nation after the Blackout began, and then he could do so only on tape. (Drunk or stupid? We report -- you decide.) After this week's bombing that killed at least 20 UN workers, Bush's keepers managed to get him off the golf course, into a suit and tie, and in front of cameras a bit faster. The keepers are learning, it seems.
-- From a great rant on the Mahablog; I couldn't find a permalink to that specific post--it's from August 21.

The cartoonist who drew this cartoon...

was fired. Go here to see the rest of the cartoons that led to his firing by a New Zealand newspaper.

Bush: On the wrong side of every dam issue!
W was out in eastern Washington state yesterday praising the many boondoggle hydroelectric dams which are killing off the salmon populations and have been messing with the ecosystem for decades since their enormously expensive construction. I highly recommend the book Cadillac Desert as a great introduction to America's ridiculous obsession with dams.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Senator Hagel's Comments
I mentioned earlier that I saw Senator Hagel talking to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Here's an excerpt from the transcript of the show. I've highlighted the parts that I think are particularly interesting coming from a Republican senator.

BLITZER: Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary-general, says the U.N.members, they're ready to play a greater role, they want to have more responsibilities, but they want to be involved in the decision- making process and not simply defer to the United States. What's wrong with his line of thinking?

HAGEL: Well, I don't think there's anything wrong with that line of thinking. And that is where we are trying to drive our resolution, with language acceptable to all of our friends and our partners and the United Nations.

BLITZER: But it would give up some of the control that Ambassador Bremer, for example, has right now in attempting to reconstruct Iraq, if he has to share responsibility with other members of the U.N.

HAGEL: Well, I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with that. I don't think the United States wants to be in a position -- and I think when you look at what's happened over in Iraq the last 30 days, an increase in military incidents and violence and more deaths and more injuries and more wounded, with a hundred and -- now -- what? -- 145, 000 American troops in there, an area the size of California.

We can't maintain that burden alone. There is no way the United States can sustain the number of troops that we're going to need and the financial commitment that it's going to require to secure Iraq and stabilize it.

BLITZER: So why does Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration -- are they resisting what you clearly want together with Senator Biden and so many others?

HAGEL: Well, there's a bit of schizophrenia there as far as I'm concerned. On one hand my understanding of what Secretary Rumsfeld is saying, we are want more help. We want the French and the Germans and the Pakistanis and the Indians and others -- and the Turks -- but we don't want to put any more of our troops in. But we do need more help, we need more troops. So there's an acknowledgement on one hand in the administration that in fact we do need more help.

Well, in fact, if we do need more help, then we're going to have to find a formula that works so that these nations don't just put troops and money in and say to America, OK, you're in charge, you do whatever you want. There's a political dynamic here.

BLITZER: Bottom line, how much is it going to cost and how long are U.S. troops going to be stuck there?

HAGEL: Well, we keep asking the administration for that answer, and the administration has not given us an answer. Jerry Bremer said the other day $100 billion. The study out a few days ago said 300 to $400 billion over five years, over three years, four years. Senator Lugar has said, Senator Biden has said, I agree with, that we're probably there five years. Maybe that's four years.

But the fact is we know it's going to require hundreds of thousands of troops. It's going to require hundreds of billions of dollars. We know that.

BLITZER: It's a sobering thought. Senator Hagel, thanks very much.

HAGEL: Wolf, thank you.

So a Republican senator is saying on a popular cable news show that the administration is stonewalling, and lowballing the real amount of time and money needed to do whatever the heck we're doing in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of troops (read "draft"). Hundreds of billions of dollars taken out of the country (read "job losses", except for the poor shmucks who get drafted).


FoxNews loses, Franken and free speech win!!!

Saying "This is an easy case," a federal judge ruled Friday against Fox News in its lawsuit asserting that a book by liberal satirist Al Franken violates its trademarked slogan, "fair and balanced."

Fox was seeking an injunction to halt distribution of "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, after listening to about half an hour of oral arguments, said the lawsuit was "wholly without merit, both factually and legally."

Go Hagel!
Our problems come from the Republicans; it looks like our solutions may also. I just saw Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Hagel and Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) just wrote a letter to Bush calling for them to pursue increased UN involvement in Iraq. Hagel was quite critical of the Bush administration and Rumsfeld in particular. He basically said they can't ask other countries to send troops to Iraq without giving them some say in how it is run.

Wolf has one of his online polls going: "Should the United States ask for international peacekeepers to help secure Iraq?" Vote! (Currently 93% yes)

Come join us in the quagmire!
We'll tell you EXACTLY what to do!

The Bushies are wondering why the rest of the world isn't jumping at this invitation.

Stop the new Patriot Act!
Ruminate This has the details. Go here to send faxes to Congress. Now!!! This is Germany 1935, with better weapons. Herr Ashcroft won't stop until you have a single right left (second amendment). In an administration filled with really creepy people (Rumsfeld, Perle, Cheney, etc.), Ashcroft is probably the creepiest.

I used to be a baseball fan...

Now I'm a blogger. The green is the Detroit Tigers--looks like Enron 2001, doesn't it? The straight line at the end is the Tigers current 9-game losing streak, aimed straight at the 1962 NY Mets all-time worst record of 120 losses. The Tigers are currently 31-95, 35 games out of first place. They're trying their best to make the Lions look good. And now, back to blogging!

A Uniter, not a Divider
Bush falsely presented ties between Iraq and Islamic terror groups like al Qaeda as a reason for the war on Iraq. Instead, those ties may be a result of the war:

Tuesday's deadly assault on the United Nations' headquarters in Baghdad and the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy earlier this month have marked the arrival of large-scale terrorist tactics in the Iraqi capital. U.S. suspicions have centered on loyalists of Saddam Hussein's government as the perpetrators of the U.N. attack, but foreign terrorists have not been ruled out, and Abizaid cited signs of growing links between the loyalists and non-Iraqi terrorists entering Iraq.

"I wouldn't say they have become allies per se, but I believe that there are some indications of cooperation in specific areas," [US General John] Abizaid said. "Of course, ideologically they are not at all compatible. But, on the other hand, you sometimes cooperate against what you consider a common enemy."

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March, senior Bush administration officials sought to bolster their case for war by suggesting that connections existed between Hussein's government and the al Qaeda terrorist network. The CIA found no substantive links and warned instead that a war could actually end up driving Hussein's supporters and terrorist groups together -- a prediction that Abizaid's remarks yesterday suggested may be coming true.
-- Washington Post

Coalition of the Grilling

Buddy and Spot (Tony Blair and Aussie PM John Howard).

While George Worthless Bush continues to get much too much of a free ride on his gross lies and distortions which have resulted in enormous death and destruction, his allies in Britain and now Australia are in serious trouble. A couple of unintended regime changes?

How Many More?
Two more US soldiers killed, six wounded today. (Update: Possibly two captured, also.)

Body and Soul has a good rant about the mess in Iraq as it now stands: Is this going to be one tragedy after another that no one can do anything about? Bloodshed if we stay, bloodshed if we go?

Probably. One thing we can do, however, is change the regime in this country before Bush & Co. bring their unique brand of death and destruction to yet another country.

Gary Hart's got a blog
Here's his latest post:

When was the last time you heard political leaders discussing poor people or the system of poverty in America? And would that silence have anything to do with the fact that poor people don’t vote—let alone contribute money? The last national candidate to link the fate of blue and pink collar working people with the plight of the poor was Robert Kennedy, and he is remembered as both a tough politician and saintly hero for doing so.
The subject comes to mind when “leaders” say: “I’m a fiscal conservative but a social liberal.” The only way that shibboleth makes any sense at all is if you define “social” as abortion, gun control, and prayer in schools. But we used to define “social” as the problems of our society—poverty, hunger, illiteracy, homelessness, joblessness, the lonely aged, and on and on. If you use the word “social” in this sense, the sense in which it traditionally is used, you cannot be “a fiscal conservative and a social liberal” for the very obvious reason that it costs some money to help those in need.
The political spectrum is pretty well defined by the orthodox Right on one end and “centrist” Democrats on the other. “Centrists” are particularly fond of the “fiscal conservative but social liberal” formula because it conveniently permits you to work both sides of the street without defining what you are for beyond “work, family, and responsibility.” (I’m still looking for someone against those things.)
So what does it say about early 21st century America when the boom of the 1990s created great wealth, the tax cuts of the 1980s and early 21st century concentrate more wealth at the top, the middle class is stagnant in terms of real wages and incomes, and 20% of America’s children are in or very near poverty? Makes you proud of your country, doesn’t it?
Since most of the Democratic Congressional candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, I guess no one will ask the obvious question: How many of our fellow Americans could we have helped with the $200 to $400 billion Iraq will cost us? How much better a country could we have been? Most importantly, What is it about the Iraqi people that makes them so much more deserving of help than poor Americans? Why are conservatives eager to rebuild Iraq and not to rebuild America?
This is not an isolationist point of view. This is not a “liberal” point of view. This is a common sense point of view.
I sure would like to hear Robert Kennedy on this issue.

(Great post, Gary, but you could have mentioned which candidates voted which way: Lieberman, Edwards, Kerry and Gephardt for the war, Kucinich and Graham against. And both Kucinich and Graham are asking the obvious question. (Graham's quote. ))

Heil Be Back?

From Polizeros.

Actually, from what I've read Arnold doesn't seem to be a fascist. A sexist pig, to be sure, but not a Nazi. I suspect that pretty soon he'll realize the following:

  • He's got a much better job now,
  • He's getting even more unwanted attention as a candidate than as an actor, and
  • his state would be a lot better off if he just made a movie about an Austrian body-builder being governor than if it actually happened for real.

From Steve Sack.

Go WaPo!
"WaPo" being blogger shorthand for "The Washington Post." WaPo has a nice long article today about how "national security" may not be a selling point for Bush in 2004, and he may have to fall back on campaigning on huge deficits, high unemployment, and environmental destruction.

Both Republican and Democratic strategists have begun adjusting their plans for what they once viewed as unthinkable: that Bush's handling of national security in general, and the war in Iraq in particular, could become a vulnerability rather than an asset in his reelection race.

Even the Democrat with probably the pinkest of tutus (BartCop calls wimpy Dems "pink tutu Democrats") is starting to get it:

In one of the new Democratic charges, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), ranking minority member on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the images from Iraq are making it ever plainer to the public that Bush's plan for a more peaceful world "has clearly not occurred." On the contrary, he said, "the world is more apprehensive about our leadership."

Of course, the only thing to fear is fear itself--the thing that gave Bush the high approval ratings in the first place. Some Republicans recognize this:

"We should not try to convince people that things are getting better," said former Reagan official Kenneth Adelman, who is close to several Bush officials. "Rather, we should convince people that ours is the age of terrorism."

The Prince of Darkness chimes in:

Foreign policy expert Richard N. Perle, who has close ties to the administration, recommended that Bush caution Americans about the lengthy commitment. "It may be a very long time before we've so substantially eliminated the source of terror that we can pronounce that we are safe," he said.

Unfortunately, the Post nearly undoes the whole article with this whopper:

Of course, a failed foreign policy would undo Bush as surely as it did President Jimmy Carter during the Iranian hostage crisis, one adviser said. But Bush is a long way from that -- and his allies still believe that Democrats challenge his foreign policy performance at their peril.

Bush is a long way PAST Carter in the failed foreign policy department. Without looking it up, I think the Iranian hostage crisis cost about ten American lives: one or two killed when the embassy was taken over and eight soldiers who died in the botched rescue effort. Other than that, all of the hostages eventually returned home safely. (They might have returned sooner if not for some alleged intervention by the Reagan-Bush Sr. campaign to keep the hostages in Iran until after the election.) Carter also brought peace between Israel and Egypt. Double-digit inflation and interest rates combined with his own excessive obsession with the hostages were what brought Carter down.

W, on the other hand, has started two wars which have killed over 300 Americans and thousands of others. He has backed out of numerous important treaties, and has made the US despised and distrusted throughout the world. THAT's what a "failed foreign policy" really looks like.

It took awhile, but here's a photo of me protesting Ashcroft in Detroit yesterday:

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Chemical Ali Captured...
...after having been killed four months ago.

Poll Shows Support for Bush Slipping
52% Approval rating. It still boggles my mind that ANYONE supports the lame-brain liar.

Protesting Ashcroft
I was in Detroit this morning outside Cobo Hall, where Ashcrotch was defending his horrible Patriot Act and trying to sell his even worse Victory Act to cops. There were over 50 protesters there--it was a weekday morning and we had short notice. I took some pictures, but won't be able to post them until later.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Quote of the Week:
Liberal policies made America the freest, wealthiest, most successful and most powerful nation in human history. Conservatism in power always threatens to undo that national progress, and is almost always frustrated by the innate decency and democratic instincts of the American people...If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights -- you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable -- you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family -- you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn't black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green -- you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society -- you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances. The country we know and love today was built by those victories for liberalism -- with the support of the American people. -- Joe Conason

Quote du Jour
Bush and Rumsfeld care for soldiers like Tyson Foods cares for chickens. -- Stan Goff, 26-year Army veteran and member of Veterans for Peace, quoted in Stars and Stripes, the military's newspaper. The article describes the "Bring Them Home Now" campaign that VFP and Military Families Speak Out have started.

Republicans Continue the War on Democracy
According to the Washington Post, Republicans in Ohio are considering following the Texas lead by trying to re-re-district a few more Democrats out of the US House of Representatives. Let me be the first to offer my spare bedroom to any Ohio Democratic state legislator who needs to leave the state to break quorum.

Seriously, this is a very serious threat to what is left of our democracy. It's starting to remind me of playing Monopoly with my brother when I was a kid. If he got the first monopoly, he'd stack it with houses, and pretty soon his small advantage turned into a larger one, and after that I'd just suffer through another half hour of mortgaging my properties and trying to quit. The Republicans are doing everything possible to make any temporary advantage they have permanent, through redistricting, recalls, and right-wing judges.

To me, the best answer to the redistricting fiascos is to do away with congressional districts entirely. Michigan has fifteen seats in the House--let's use some form of preferential voting to vote for all of them statewide. Maybe each voter gets five equally-weighted votes, or gets to cast weighted votes from 15 down to 1. Top 15 vote getters are our congressional delegation. It would destroy the two-party system. Good riddance.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Them Again?
CNN offers up some experts who say that Iraq has become a "magnet" for al Qaeda and other terrorists. And guess where they say most of them are coming from?

In the past two months, about 3,000 Saudis have gone to fight coalition troops in Iraq, said Dr. Saad al-Faqih, a leading Saudi dissident based in London who has long been a reliable source of information about al Qaeda.

Still, when the Bushies complain about "foreigners" messing around with Iraq's wonderful reconstruction, they focus on Syria and Iran. But as for nations that were responsible for 9/11 and funding and staffing al Qaeda, it certainly appears that Saudi Arabia was clearly most involved. Afghanistan may have harbored OBL and some of his cronies for a few years, probably without a lot of choice, but the Taliban's contribution to 9/11 appears to have been small compared to that of the Saudi government. Iraq had nothing at all to do with it; they're just paying the price.

The key, of course, is the long-time connections between the Bush family and the Saudis. Bush Sr., Neil, W--they've all got Saudi oil under their fingernails.

No Thanks!
President Bush's campaign will unveil a Web site today that allows proprietors of online journals -- Blogs or Web logs -- to "get the latest campaign headlines and inside scoop posted instantly to your site through a live news feed from!" -- Washington Post

Lame-brain reacts to the bombing of UN HQ in Baghdad.

I'm not going to post any quotes--I might never be able to get the stains out.


US dead from Iraq war. Plus 45 Brits. Thousands of Iraqis. (from Reuters)

Plus thousands of wounded.

Ashcroft: A Plague On America
Helen Thomas rants about Ashcrotch's push for longer prison sentences.

New TV Show
One of my favorite TV shows is "Whose Line is it Anyway?" starring Drew Carey, Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie and Ryan Styles. They do great improv comedy, especially Colin. Which leads us to another Colin, and an idea for a spin-off show:

Whose Oil Is It Anyway!

Good evening everyone! Welcome to “Whose Oil Is It Anyway!”

On tonight’s show: “Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence,” Donald Rumsfeld!
“No one could have predicted they’d fly planes into buildings,” Condi Rice!
“A convenient reason we could all agree upon,” Paul Wolfowitz!
And “No comment,” Dick Cheney!

My name is Colin Powell—come on down, let’s have some war!

Welcome to “Whose Oil Is It Anyway!”, the show where the evidence is made up and the deaths don’t matter. That’s right, the deaths are just like the United Nations—they just don’t matter. (Laughter)

(I carried this silliness even further here)

Truck Bomb hits Hotel housing UN in Baghdad
From CNN.

Bremer, Bush and the rest can try to blame "remnants of Saddam's regime" all they want, but the blame for turning Baghdad into Beirut East lies squarely with them. Bush chose to lie about the evidence and start the war--war was not "forced upon us" as he liked to claim beforehand.

[Update] A comment on Atrios:

On Fox News they're covering the blast and the reporter (dont know her name) had the balls to say this, "While we don't know who is the cause of this, as no one has claimed responsibility yet, this kind of attack must be carefully coordinated. Could this be part of some pre-war agreement between Saddam Hussein and Usama bin Laden?"

Fox News inhabits a different reality from that of intelligent people.

Bush Continues to Lie, People Continue to Die
At least the Washington Post is paying attention:

Asked about U.S. force presence in Afghanistan, Bush said the U.S. presence is being "gradually replaced" by other troops.

"We've got about 10,000 troops there, which is down from, obviously, major combat operations," he said. "And they're there to provide security and they're there to provide reconstruction help. But both those functions are being gradually replaced by other troops. Germany, for example, is now providing the troops for ISAF [International Security Assistance Force], which is the security force for Afghanistan, under NATO control. In other words, more and more coalition forces and friends are beginning to carry a lot of the burden in Afghanistan."

In fact, the 10,000 troops in Afghanistan represent the highest number of U.S. soldiers in the country since the war there began. By the time the Taliban government had been vanquished in December 2001, U.S. troops numbered fewer than 3,000 in Afghanistan. And three months later, in March 2002, when the last major battle against remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda took place in eastern Afghanistan, about 5,000 U.S. troops were in the country.

Obviously, DimBulb, you don't know what you're talking about.

Bush's Poodle in Trouble
Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief of staff warned that the British intelligence dossier used to justify war against Iraq failed to provide evidence that President Saddam Hussein posed a military threat, a government inquiry was told today. -- Washington Post (page 12, of course)

While our sleazy president and complicit Congress vacation and accept bribes, Britain's parliament is sticking Blair's nose in the huge booboo he left on the carpet.

How to Prepare for a Blackout:
First, bribe the president. Repeat as needed.

Executives of FirstEnergy Corp., currently the prime suspect in the blackout of 2003, have been major contributors to smirky's campaigns, including a $600,000 fundraiser in late June.

Monday, August 18, 2003

In claiming trademark violation, Fox sets a noble example for standing firm against whatever. -- Paul Newman

Bush Lies, People Die
Just trying to get back on focus here...

Neither Arnold, nor Kobe, nor gloom of blackout
Shall keep us from our appointed task...

Of getting Bush and his neo-conmen out of office!

Bush Outsources Fundraising Jobs
The Republican Party has hired HCL eServe of INDIA to do telephone fund raising.

Why do they hate America?

Latin America Update
Fidel Castro gave a speech in Paraguay, and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez did his weekly talk show from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Meanwhile, there have been attacks on villages, sabotage on oil wells, and kidnappings in Colombia, as usual.

"War on Terror" "progresses" through arrests
It doesn't really matter who gets arrested:

Over the past nearly two years, approximately 10,000 people, invariably branded as al-Qaeda suspects, have been rounded up all over the world in the name of the "war on terror". The most high profile of these are being held at the US base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Clearly, it is in the interests of the world's intelligence communities to talk up their captures, although some of the descriptions of detainees could have come right out of 1,001 Arabian Nights.

Asia Times Online spoke to a Pakistani field official associated with an intelligence agency who has personally handled the arrest of 10 Arabs in Karachi. "I will tell you the modus operandi. For instance, once the FBI [US Federal Bureau of Investigation] gives us a mobile number we track conversations, during which we learn the whereabouts of the callers. Then eventually we make a raid. That's how we arrested the first alleged al-Qaeda operator in Karachi, whose last name was Alavi. He was arrested from the posh district of Clifton, Karachi. At the time of the raid he was sleeping, and when we arrested him he did not have a weapon."

The officer claims that in most cases the people they were pointed to by the FBI had simply fled from Afghanistan en route to their home countries, but they were arrested and branded as dangerous al-Qaeda operators set on making Pakistan their "playing field for terror".
-- Asia Times

Congressman Tells Off Greenspan:
But today you have reached a new low, I think, by suggesting that manufacturing in America doesn't matter. It doesn't matter where the product is produced. We've lost 2 million manufacturing jobs in the last two years alone; 10 percent of our workforce. Wal-Mart has replaced General Motors as the major employer in America, paying people starvation wages rather than living wages, and all of that does not matter to you - doesn't matter.

"If it's produced in China where workers are making 30 cents an hour, or produced in Vermont where workers can make 20 bucks an hour, it doesn't matter. You have told the American people that you support a trade policy which is selling them out, only working for the CEOs who can take our plants to China, Mexico and India.
-- Representative Bernard Sanders (Independent, VT), quoted by Henry C K Liu in an very long article in the Asia Times which provides a lot of clues to what's really going on.

Thanks to Mary in Fort Worth for sending the article. I wish I understood economics better so that I could explain the article better! Here's another choice quote:

Neo-imperialism works by making the world's poor finance the high living of the world's rich. It transcends the Marxist notion of class struggle and surplus value. In neo-liberal globalization, not just labor but even capital comes from the exploited.

Quote du Jour
The suspicion that the blackout was a karma payoff for the failure to restore electrical service in Iraq may have a more than metaphorical truth to it. Occupied Iraq begins to look like a blueprint for the future of occupied North America under the auspices of "Neo-con Edison" and faith-based transmission systems. From the Sandwichman on Maxspeak.

From a comment on Atrios:
Am I the only foreigner who has a hard time understanding what a leader of a nation is doing going around fundraising while he should be working? If the Danish PM did that, he would be kicked out of office so fast that he wouldn't have time to make excuses.

The Power Companies Screwed Up--And YOU'RE Gonna Pay!
Ratepayers, obviously, will pay the bill because they're the ones who benefit. -- Secretary for Promoting to Interests of Sleazy Energy Companies Spencer Abraham, on Face the Nation yesterday. Liberal Oasis does a good job of analyzing Abraham's comments on the various talk shows, as well as those of former energy secretary Bill Richardson.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

IraQuagmire Continues
Two oil pipelines and a water pipeline damaged. Six Iraqis, a Danish soldier and a Reuters cameraman dead. Two more US soldiers wounded.

Why are they there? Oh right--all those LIES Bush told.

Kucinich on the blackout
DK rips FirstEnergy and the whole utility deregulation scam.

Quote du Jour
We applaud tax relief for the poor. You'll find most Alabamians have got a charitable heart; they want to do that. They just don't want it coming out of their pocket. -- Christian Coalition of Alabama President John Giles, quoted in today's Washington Post.

Long-time blog readers (thanks to both of you!) know that I pay a little more attention to Alabama than I do to most of the red states. I lived in Montgomery for 7 1/2 years. So when the Army decides to burn chemical weapons in Anniston, or Montgomery brags about giving Hyundai a $126 million bribe to locate a factory there, I pay attention.

Right now the big story in Alabama is a statewide referendum to change the state's extremely regressive tax code. I'll let Republican Party Chairman Marty Connors explain:

We've got a conservative, evangelical Christian, Republican governor trying to get a massive turnout of black voters to pass a tax increase so he can raise taxes on Republican constituents.

You see, somewhere along the line Governor Bob Riley decided that being a Christian, in the good sense of the word, was more important than being a Republican. He observed that the tax code was asking more from those who had little, relatively speaking, than from those with much.

The plan would raise the tax threshold from $4,600 to $20,000 for a family of four, and raise the exemption per child from $300 to $2,200, which Riley says would cut or leave income taxes unchanged for two-thirds of the state's taxpayers. The top third of earners would pay more, as would corporations and large land and timber holders. Alabama's lowest-in-the-nation property taxes would rise on average to $490 a year on a $100,000 home (a $136 increase) and to $1,540 on a $250,000 home (a $536 increase), according to the governor's figures.

Amazingly, Republicans may end up leading the way to the "kinder, gentler nation" that Bush Sr. pretended to want. Illinois' Republican Governor George Ryan may have done more than anyone else towards the eventual elimination of the death penalty in this country when he commuted all death row sentences to life imprisonment last January. Alabama's Riley is hopefully striking a key blow for progressive taxation, as well as showing people that being Republican and being Christian are completely different things. And as for getting the neocon fanatics out of the White House, I have at least as much faith in Republicans like John McCain, Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe and Richard Shelby as I do in Democrats like Tom Daschle, Joe Biden, Diane Feinstein, or Hillary Clinton.

Another Big Terrorist Attack Likely
According to a report from a London-based research company. Only Colombia, Israel and Pakistan are ranked as being more at risk than the US.

"Another Sept. 11-style terrorist attack in the United States is highly likely," the report states. "Networks of militant Islamist groups are less extensive in the U.S. than they are in Western Europe, but U.S.-led military action in Afghanistan and Iraq has exacerbated anti-U.S. sentiment."

Aghanistan ranked seventh, Iraq ninth: "Iraq was actually in the bottom 10 before the war," Mr. Dunn said. "But now with a political vacuum existing, and heavily armed factions, the climate is ripe for terrorism."
Britain is ranked 10th, the highest of any European country. "Motivation for such an attack among Islamic extremist groups is very high owing to the U.K.'s close alliance with the U.S.," the analysts wrote, "while sophisticated militant networks are known to be present within the country."

In 186th place, is North Korea. "Despite being a member of the so-called Axis of Evil," Mr. Dunn said, "North Korea's repressive state has basically made it impossible for terrorists to function."

So, to summarize the "war on terror" so far: The two countries spearheading the insanity now rank in the top ten as far as risk of terrorist attack is concerned. So do the two countries which have been attacked supposedly as part of the "war on terror." The top three countries are all major military clients of the US. The only possible sense that can be made out of the "war on terror" so far is that it is an attempt to turn the entire world into North Korea: repressive and nuclear.

Time to replay one of my rants from July, 2002:

Okay, let's look at the numbers:

World Trade Center attack: about 2800 people killed.
Pentagon: About 190 killed.
Anthrax attacks: 5 people killed.
American Airlines 587, November 2001: 270 killed (government says it probably wasn't terrorism, but who knows?)
July 4 shootout at LAX: 3 killed (government claims it wasn't terrorism either, but that certainly begs the question they refuse to answer: What is terrorism, anyway?).
Total deaths in US from terrorism in last year: about 3,300 [that's July 2001 to July 2002].

Total deaths in US from gun violence (homicides, suicides, accidents) in 2001: over 30,000.

Total deaths in US from auto accidents in 2001: 41,730.

The response: Tens of billions of additional dollars for the military for the "War on Terrorism," restrictions on many of our civil liberties, with the notable exception of our gun rights, and official government encouragement to buy cars to keep America rolling. We can debate whether the response to 9/11 was due to the emotional and spectacular nature of the attacks, the fact that foreigners were more to blame than Americans, or whether it was cynical opportunism on the part of the Bushies to do what they wanted to do all along (my guess). What seems beyond debate to me, however, is that the response is completely out of proportion to the real threat to America from terrorism when compared to the other, more mundane threats that we live with (or die with) all of the time. The "War on Terrorism" is political grandstanding of the worst and most criminal type. Well, maybe not quite the worst. There was a provocation, and Osama was apparently in Afghanistan at some point, so maybe there was the slightest excuse for pulverizing that poor country one more time if you were willing to ignore the less violent and probably more successful approaches available.
(Bob's Links and Rants, July 14, 2002)

And, as I've said before, a nice hefty gasoline tax ($5 to $10 a gallon) would solve a whole lot of problems. No need to steal anyone else's oil--the oil still in this country would be worth pumping again. Much more incentive for mass transit, reduced sprawl, and hence less traffic and less traffic accidents. Correct for decades of the government keeping gasoline prices artificially low by making them artificially high.