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 30, 2003

Check out the website for the Coalition Provisional Authority
"Coalition Provisional Authority" is the official name of the US-British occupation of Iraq, headed by Paul Bremer. Although you might be confused, since the graphic at the top of the page says it's the "Coalition Provincial Authority."

Just in case they eventually get their heads out of their Ashcrofts long enough to correct this, I'll post a copy of how it looks now:

Billmon apparently discovered this. Check out his comments and those of his readers.

One more thing. I sometimes worry that this website doesn't look professional enough. I know that frames are so 1998, and I'm using one of the standard Blogger templates so this blog looks like dozens of other blogs. But now I realize that I'm just doing my patriotic duty by not making the incredibly amateurish web site of one of the Bushies' imperialistic adventures look incredibly amateurish in comparison to this one. Just quite amateurish.

BTW, Billmon, aka "Whiskey Bar," has a great blog. He actually seems to have an understanding of what's going on in Iraq, which pretty much guarantees that he's not working for the Bush administration. I think maybe I'll replace "Seeing the Forest," who I'm still mad at for his senseless attack on Kucinich, with Billmon on my blogroll!

There! Done!

Revisionist Historians
Rice and Rummy, that is. Slate's Daniel Benjamin demolishes their pitiful attempts to claim that the serious, ongoing and increasing problems of the Iraq occupation are similar to what happened in Germany in 1945-47.

"There is an understandable tendency to look back on America's experience in postwar Germany and see only the successes," [Rice] told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in San Antonio, Texas, on Aug. 25. "But as some of you here today surely remember, the road we traveled was very difficult. 1945 through 1947 was an especially challenging period. Germany was not immediately stable or prosperous. SS officers—called 'werewolves'—engaged in sabotage and attacked both coalition forces and those locals cooperating with them—much like today's Baathist and Fedayeen remnants."
According to America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq, a new study by former Ambassador James Dobbins, who had a lead role in the Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo reconstruction efforts, and a team of RAND Corporation researchers, the total number of post-conflict American combat casualties in Germany—and Japan, Haiti, and the two Balkan cases—was zero.

I think the number of post-conflict American combat casualties in Iraq is currently around 70 dead, hundreds wounded. And, as Condi has pointed out recently, we're just getting started.

Nah. Not even going to bother...
The NY Times web page shows two new columns:

• Dowd: Who's Losing Iraq?
• Friedman: Worrying About Iraq.

I've read most of the columns these two babblers have written in the past two years. I've got better things to do. I'm sure you do too. (Links omitted intentionally.)

Friday, August 29, 2003

This can't be good
Over 90 killed in Najaf. What can I say? That's at least 90 more people, and their surviving family members, who aren't better off than they were under Saddam.

Dave Barry on the California Recall:

How did California get into this mess? Everybody agrees that the root cause is a person named ''Gray'' Davis, who has the warm personal charm of a sea urchin. Incredibly, Californians elected him governor twice. It's still not clear how this happened. Apparently, from time to time the entire California electorate goes to a bar and chugs industrial quantities of margaritas, and it gets late, and one thing leads to another, and the next morning the electorate wakes up in a dingy motel room, and there, snoring next to it, is: Gray.

To make matters worse, Gray lost the state budget surplus. California had this gigantic surplus, billions and billions of dollars, and now it's gone. They've looked everywhere, but nobody can find it. It is the Weapon of Mass Destruction of budget surpluses.

So now Gray is spectacularly unpopular. Everybody despises him. When he tries to get into the governor's house, his own dog attacks him. When he calls for his security personnel, they side with the dog.

Of course California is not the first state to find itself being led by a known bonehead. Many other states have gone through this ordeal, and the way they have traditionally handled it is to pretend that the bonehead is competent and popular, thus causing him to be so impressed with himself that he resigns from the governorship and runs for president of the United States.

Go Dana!
Dana Milbank is one of the Washington Post reporters who has really been getting on Bush's case lately. Much of it has been pretty serious stuff: lies and deception about WMD's in Iraq, for instance. On Tuesday, Milbank wrote an article on some fluffier, but illegal stuff that W has been up to: desecrating the flag and using the publicly-funded White House web site to promote his political speeches.

They got Al Capone on tax evasion. It would be delightfully ironic if George W. Bush were impeached for flag desecration.

If you had to pick just one person for the mess we're in...
Katherine Harris would be a good choice. Check out this flash animation!

Can you say "Conflict of interest?"
The head of a company vying to sell voting machines in Ohio told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

The Aug. 14 letter from Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc. - who has become active in the re-election effort of President Bush - prompted Democrats this week to question the propriety of allowing O'Dell's company to calculate votes in the 2004 presidential election.
-- Cleveland Plain Dealer

I knew that you could! This country is under attack by Republicans who are trying to do away with all semblance of democracy. These hackable, opaque, no-paper-trail voting machines are a key front in the attack. And the leading maker of these things is committed to delivering electoral votes for Bush.

One more soldier dead, three wounded
North of Baghdad. Still no good explanation for what they, or any other US soldiers, were doing in Iraq in the first place.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

United We Stand: Me and Republicans from Idaho... our dislike of the world's scariest attorney general:

"It's pretty reckless to say that 309 members of Congress want to tip off terrorists," said [Idaho Republican Rep. C.L. "Butch"] Otter, who noted that more than a third of the votes cast for his amendment came from Republicans. "Instead of hitting the campaign trail, the attorney general should be listening to the concerns that many Americans have about some portions of the act." -- WaPo.

Sweet Home Alabama
Not! You're probably thinking I'm finally going to rant about Judge Roy Moore and his graven image of the ten commandments.
Not! Again. Longtime readers may have guessed that I'm going to rant about the WMD's in Anniston.

That is correct! The army is about to burn 800 gallons of the deadly nerve gas sarin in Anniston. About 35,000 people live within nine miles of the incinerator, and Birmingham and Atlanta aren't far away. CNN reports that there are seven other known chemical weapons storage sites in the US (compared to, lets see, ZERO in Iraq): Tooele, Utah; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Umatilla, Oregon; Pueblo, Colorado; Bluegrass, Kentucky; Newport, Indiana; and Aberdeen, Maryland.

We invade a country 6000 miles away because we think they might possibly have chemical or biological weapons. Meanwhile, we've got tons of the crap just sitting around here.

Power goes out in London.

Halliburton is making a ton of money from the war in Iraq...
And that's all that really matters, isn't it, Dick?

Halliburton, the company formerly headed by Vice President Cheney, has won contracts worth more than $1.7 billion under Operation Iraqi Freedom and stands to make hundreds of millions more dollars under a no-bid contract awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to newly available documents.

Independent experts estimate that as much as one-third of the monthly $3.9 billion cost of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is going to independent contractors.
-- WaPo.

Ted Rall on the "Stay or Get Out" Issue:

The ad hoc Iraqi resistance is comprised of indigenous fighters ranging from secular ex-Republican Guards to radical Islamist Shiites, as well as foreign Arab volunteers waging the same brand of come-one-come-all jihad that the mujahedeen fought against Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan. While one can dismiss foreign jihadis as naïve adventurers, honest Americans should call native Iraqi resistance fighters by a more fitting name: Iraqi patriots.
Under George W. Bush, truth and justice are no longer the American way. The U.S. occupation of Iraq is misguided, evil and doomed to failure. The sooner we accept this difficult truth, the sooner we decide to stop being the bad guys, the sooner we'll withdraw our troops. The bloodshed may continue after we leave--and we'll be partly to blame for that. But until we pull out, the carnage is all ours.

Great Kucinich Quotes
I didn't get many quotes out of Dennis Kucinich's appearance here in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, but Cyndy of MouseMusings (who was also there) found an excellent article from a Minnesota paper filled with lots of Kucinich gems:

“First, you have to understand what Bush’s presidency is about: accelerating wealth upward. Its about putting the nation’s wealth into fewer and fewer hands,” Kucinich said in a KFAI interview in July, pointing to post-9/11 bailouts that gave airlines billions while their employees got massive layoffs. “The Bush economy is driven by the interests of a few at the expense of the many. That’s what the war and the tax cuts are about.”

Kucinich joined the anti-World Trade Organization (WTO) battle in Seattle. He’ll use Executive Orders to withdraw from the WTO and repeal the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that’s exported millions of American jobs to Mexican sweatshops.

“Labels like liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican don’t mean much when you look at these trade agreements. The real issue is: WHOOSE side are you on? Are you on the side of multinational corporations driving down wages, knocking out benefits, breaking unions and crushing communities when they move jobs out?” Kucinich gains momentum, not allowed in CSPAN 60-second sound-bites. “Or are you on the side of people struggling for workers’ rights, human rights and environmental principles?”

“We’re ALREADY PAYING for universal healthcare. We’re just NOT GETTING IT,” Kucinich goes to the heart of the 2004 campaign’s “banner issue”: healthcare. Current U.S. spending is 14 percent of GNP on healthcare, Kucinich explained, projected to rise to 18 percent within 10 years—even without expanding access. “Insurance keeps going up. What do insurance companies do? They make money by EXCLUDING coverage. Everyone knows this. More deductibles, higher co-pays, less access. This is the trend. The ONLY way to freeze costs is for a single-payer system that cares for everyone. Take the profits out so these companies don’t have their hands on your wallet!”
While other Democrats tinker with cosmetic changes, Kucinich is the only candidate proposing universal, single-payer healthcare, including dental, vision-care, mental health and long-term care. JAMA’s study announced last week that 8,000 doctors agree that Kucinich’s plan is the only solution for both containing costs and alarming health disparities. One doctor disagrees: Howard Dean says “it can’t pass,” and his plan leaves healthcare under corporate control.

“Those saying ‘it won’t pass’ are conceding that this system is so corrupt that we’re all captive to it!” Kucinich retorts. “I’ll challenge the insurance and drug companies to do what’s right for the American people. WE don’t exist for them. THEY exist for us.”

“This Administration, cycling fear, created pretexts for war. They became more powerful as they did that. With lies and manipulations, now, they seek to totally destroy the social agenda of our nation with a military build up: $400 billion budget, 13 percent increase. We’re rapidly coming to the point where we spend more on the Pentagon than all other countries COMBINED spend on their defense! What implication does this have for our democracy?”

As he pauses, I realize no other candidates mention military budgets.

“This continued military build up will be the DEATH-knell for our democracy. They’re SUCKING OUT THE OXYGEN that’s needed for the economy!” he concluded. Kucinich is ranking Democrat on the National Security Committee. Vowing to cut military spending, “I’ll correct this direction. We’ll have a strong defense, but we ALREADY had that before 9/11. My concern is that we understand that education is part of national defense, Healthcare is national defense. Having good jobs and full employment is national defense. Making sure veterans have the full benefits we promised them when they said they’d serve is national defense. This is a moment for fundamental and deep change and my candidacy represents that.”

Meanwhile, back in the air we breathe...
The Bushies have decided to ease power plant pollution rules.

Environmental and public health groups argue the new rule will allow old, coal-fired power plants and refineries to emit more air pollutants in some cases.

Saddam suckered us into destroying his country
That's the latest spin, anyway, according to this LA Times article.

Frustrated at the failure to find Saddam Hussein's suspected stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have launched a major effort to determine if they were victims of bogus Iraqi defectors who planted disinformation to mislead the West before the war.

The goal, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, "is to see if false information was put out there and got into legitimate channels and we were totally duped on it." He added, "We're reinterviewing all our sources of information on this. This is the entire intelligence community, not just the U.S."
Although senior CIA officials insist that defectors were only partly responsible for the intelligence that triggered the decision to invade Iraq in March, other intelligence officials now fear that key portions of the prewar information may have been flawed. The issue raises fresh doubts as to whether illicit weapons will be found in Iraq.

As evidence, officials say former Iraqi operatives have confirmed since the war that Hussein's regime sent "double agents" disguised as defectors to the West to plant fabricated intelligence. In other cases, Baghdad apparently tricked legitimate defectors into funneling phony tips about weapons production and storage sites.

"They were shown bits of information and led to believe there was an active weapons program, only to be turned loose to make their way to Western intelligence sources," said the senior intelligence official. "Then, because they believe it, they pass polygraph tests ... and the planted information becomes true to the West, even if it was all made up to deceive us."

Recall the chihuahua!
Taco Bell is selling votes in the California election.

Arnold is the Beef Crunchy Taco.

Gray Davis is the Chicken Soft Taco.

Why I'm still considering leaving this country:
63% of Americans say the war in Iraq was worth fighting, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows.

Fifty-seven percent say they believe the war in Iraq is part of the overall war on terrorism.

This is one STUPID country.

Iraq: Stay in or get out?
A discussion has started on our local peace e-mail list about the relative merits of "fish or cut bait" with regards to Iraq: Send in more troops in an attempt to stabilize the situation, or get out ASAP. An article by Dr. Mohammed T. Al-Rasheed suggests:

It is useless harping on what should have been done. If we take the American claims and intentions at face value, we should try and find a solution that would satisfy all. The first thing to do is for America to drop the pretense that it is not an occupying power. By accepting the fact, it gives itself more public leeway in managing the affairs of the country.The Iraqis are not ready to rule themselves yet, for two reasons. The first is that they have lived under tyranny for so long that any viable alternative to Saddam is now residing in a mass grave. The second reason is that the country is divided internally into tiny puzzle pieces that need time and effort to gel together.

The Americans should fire the council of morons and hand over Ahmed Chalabi to their allies the Jordanians to serve out his jail term. This will give them credibility and get rid of a liability that is embarrassing them and angering the locals. They should put an American at the head of every vital ministry and start distributing contracts to American firms to build up the infrastructure of Iraq. They will be criticized for that, but if done properly, the results will speak for themselves. People in need of food and medication will appreciate the service more than the rhetoric.

They should divide Iraq into voting districts and announce a date for general elections. The elections will result in a temporary Parliament whose job is to draft a constitution. I guess this is already on the table, but America is eating with two hands. You can’t try to be “legitimate” and tackle the massive tasks ahead. Let us drop the pretense of the first and push ahead for the second.

I disagree. After conducting two brutal wars and enforcing murderous sanctions on Iraq, the US is the last country (except maybe North Korea) that should be running Iraq's affairs. That goes triple while Bush is in charge. This is Vietnam 1964. If we pull out, at worst a bloody civil war erupts, killing tens of thousands of people. If we stay, the brutal occupation continues, eventually killing many more while bankrupting the US. Sending more troops just means more will die, and will solidify the hatred against this country. There is no legitimate basis for believing that it will benefit Iraqis at all.

Also: "If we take the American claims and intentions at face value," as Al-Rasheed suggests, then we are idiots. Bush has no interest in democracy in Iraq, or in the US for that matter. It IS about oil and imperialism and controlling the world's resources. Putting more troops there just furthers these goals, not the fairy-tale of democracy and prosperity for Iraqis. Wolfowitz is probably foaming at the mouth (even more than usual) at the thought of Democrats calling for MORE troops to be sent to Iraq. Not only does it solidify US control over Iraqi oil, it also gives someone to share the blame with when the inevitable thousands of GI's die.

[Warning: Following paragraph based on unresearched speculation! Feel free to (gently) set me straight if I'm wrong!] I hear references to the Marshall plan and the reconstructions of Germany and Japan. But they were the aggressive, imperial nations. Okay, Great Britain, France, the US, the Soviet Union, and some of the other nations were more or less imperial as well, but in the immediate 1937-41 sense Germany and Japan were definitely the aggressors. They had attacked other countries and were eventually defeated. Any good treatment that they received was probably better than they expected. The more accurate comparison, instead of the Marshall plan, would be to any rebuilding of France or Poland that Nazi Germany may have done during WWII and how gratefully it was probably received. The hated conqueror will not be the one to successfully bring prosperity and democracy to Iraq.

We should get out gracefully if we can, but not the four-year Nixonian version. Four months, maybe, tops. Try to get help from the UN. The US has no right to be there--there is no legitimacy to the occupation at all. We may leave a mess behind, but staying will not make it any better, and will likely make it much worse.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Going out in style!
Memorials in her honor can be made to any organization working for the removal of President Bush. -- From the obituary for Sally Baron of Staughton, Wisconsin, who died last week.

"She thought he was a liar," Baron's daughter, Maureen Bettilyon, said. "I think his personality, just standing there with that smirk on his face, and acting like he's this holy Christian, that's what really got her."
"She'd always watch CNN, C-SPAN, and you know, she'd just swear at the TV and say 'Oh, Bush, he's such a whistle ass!' She'd just get so mad," Bettilyon said.

So--Make a donation today to the Kucinich campaign in the name of Sally Baron! Or make a donation to the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace so they can run the "Misleader" ad in the Ann Arbor Observer or Ann Arbor News ( That Sally's death not be in vain.

Enough already with the "send more troops and money" crap!
If the best politicians can do as far as complaining about the quagmires Bush has gotten us into is to suggest that we need to get in even deeper, I respectfully suggest that they just SHUT UP! (Yeah, that means you, Howie.)

The WSWS agrees with me:
While this criminal scheme was intended to enrich a thin layer at the top, it is American working people who are being forced to pay the price, both in terms of the steady stream of young American soldiers losing their lives in Iraq and in the growing deficits and economic dislocation at home. The demands now being made for a massive buildup of military forces and increased economic expenditures to rescue the US neo-colonial projects in both Iraq and Afghanistan can only be realized through a drastic intensification of the attacks on social conditions in the US itself.

The claim that such buildups would aid the people of these countries is a lie. Their purpose would be solely to suppress the legitimate resistance of both Iraqis and Afghans to foreign occupation and to secure the profit interests of the US-based corporations.

Against the drive to escalate the repression in Iraq, the demand must be raised for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US, British and other occupation forces. At the same time, an independent investigation into the methods used to promote this criminal war must be held to assure that those responsible are held accountable.

Once again, a Byrd in the Senate is worth any number of George Bushes:

The administration's reconstruction effort is costing the American people $1 billion a week. It is costing the lives of American soldiers and of civilians from many nations. Only an entirely closed mind could fail to grasp the need for a change in course. Close cooperation with the international community might yet yield a plan for peace and security for the people of Iraq. Haughty statements and unilateral actions will not advance our cause. We must work with other countries to forge what we cannot achieve alone: a lasting peace for Iraq and, in fact, for the Middle East region as a whole.

A hallmark of true leadership is the ability to admit when one is wrong and to learn from errors. Candidate George W. Bush spoke about the need for humility from a great and powerful nation. He said, "Let us reject the blinders of isolationism, just as we refuse the crown of empire. Let us not dominate others with our power -- or betray them with our indifference. And let us have an American foreign policy that reflects American character. The modesty of true strength. The humility of real greatness." It is time for the Bush administration to swallow its false pride and return to that philosophy of humility before it is too late.
-- Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), from a piece in Tuesday's WaPo.

From Signe Wilkinson.

From Chris Britt.

From Mike Keefe.

Two more dead, three more wounded
Meanwhile, the Idiot-in-Chief was babbling the same old nonsense at the American Legion convention yesterday. I think his speech calls for a good (partial) fisking.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, all. Thanks for that warm welcome. It is great to be here in St. Louis, Missouri, at the 85th Annual Convention of the American Legion. I wonder if I'm the only member here today from Post 77, in Houston, Texas.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: No. (Laughter.)

Gee, W, if you'd actually served in the military, or at least attended one of those Post 77 meetings, you might have recognized the guy.

The security of this nation and our friends requires decisive action. And with a broad coalition, we're taking that action around the globe. We are on the offensive against terror, and we will stay on the offensive against terror.

George, to most of the world, you ARE terror.

Because of our military, catastrophic weapons will no longer be in the hands of a reckless, unstable dictator.

Not true, George. We haven't impeached you yet.

Because of our military, Middle Eastern countries no longer fear subversion and attack by Saddam Hussein. Because of our military, Iraq will no longer be a source of funding for suicide bombers in the Middle East.

No George, they fear you. And that's a bad thing.

Because of our men and women in uniform, the torture chambers in Iraq are closed, the prison cells for children are empty and the people who speak their minds need not fear execution.

Oh really? "But in recent weeks there have been increasing reports of Iraqi men, women and even children being dragged from their homes at night by American patrols, or snatched off the streets and taken, hooded and manacled, to prison camps around the capital. Children as young as 11 are claimed to be among those locked up for 24 hours a day in rooms with no light, or held in overcrowded tents in temperatures approaching 50C (122F). On the edge of Baghdad International Airport, US military commanders have built a tent city that human rights groups are comparing to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Remarkably, the Americans have also set up another detention camp in the grounds of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad. Many thousands of Iraqis were taken there during the Saddam years and never seen again." (from Common Dreams.)

Bush continues:

The work of our coalition in Iraq goes on because that country is now a point of testing in the war on terror. The remnants of Saddam's regime are still dangerous, and terrorists are gathering in Iraq to undermine the advance of freedom. Al Qaeda and the other global terror networks recognize that the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime is a defeat for them. They know that a democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East would be a further defeat for their ideology of terror. They know that the spread of peace and hope in the Middle East would undermine the appeal of bitterness, resentment, and violence. And the more progress we make in Iraq, the more desperate the terrorists will become. Freedom is a threat to their way of life.

I'm sorry, but this is just pure crap. Bitterness, resentment and violence are not appealing. They are the result of people being dumped upon, repeatedly. The US has been dumping on Iraq for 13 years because, supposedly, they had a brutal dictator. Who was installed and maintained in power by the US. And now the US has invaded Iraq, and improved nothing while killing thousands. That's where bitterness, resentment and violence come from. Well, that and you, George.

And as we help the Iraqi people establish security, we are working through that famous deck of cards. So far, of the 55 most wanted Iraqi leaders, 42 have been captured or killed. Heck, some, like "Chemical Ali," have been both captured AND killed!

Murderers will not determine the future of Iraq, and they will not determine the future of the Middle East.

So you ARE pulling out?

He concludes with this Hitleresque bluster:

Our Armed Forces are doing the work they are called to do. They're taking the fight to the enemy so that America and our friends can live in peace. The war on terror is a test of our strength. It is a test of our perseverance, our patience, and our will. This nation has been tested before -- by the character of men and women like you, we've come through every trial.

And so it is today. Our course is set. Our purpose is firm. No act of terrorists will weaken our resolve or alter their fate. Our only goal, our only option, is total victory in the war on terror. And this nation will press on to victory.

Even if it kills us all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

I just got back from our local Kucinich appearance. I didn't get any good pictures, don't have an accurate headcount (120 maybe?), but it was a very impressive performance. The man knows what he's talking about, and he cares.

My friend Henry, who was in Palestine last December, asked Dennis some tough questions about the US support for Israel. While Dennis clearly didn't give the solid answers that Henry was looking for, he did demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the situation and an understanding of the plight of the Palestinians. He wouldn't commit to cutting aid to Israel, but he did say that we should absolutely be providing aid to the Palestinians. As with when I heard Kucinich speak last October, he was always impressive, but probably most impressive when answering tough questions. It seems that that is a skill that should serve very well in tough negotiations, whether with Congress, the UN, North Korea, or whomever.

Please, if you get a chance to hear Kucinich speak, don't miss it!

MaxSpeak offers some sound advice to Dean...
... and other Democrats who seem to think that now that we're stuck in Iraq, we should get even more stuck.

Max says: If the Iraq/Afghan occupation turns into a continuing debacle, the goal of Democrats and the left should not be to contest for ownership of it.

Quote du Jour
At the end of the day, it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words. -- Joseph Wilson, the diplomat who wrote the piece in the NY Times back in June that officially started Yellowcakegate (although public knowledge that the Niger uranium documents were forgeries goes back to March). Then, on July 14 conservative columnist Robert Novak said that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA agent. Novak cited information from "senior administration officials." If senior administration officials did tell Novak that, and it's true, then it constitutes a felony (outing a CIA agent). If false, it is certainly malicious slander (not because there is necessarily something wrong with being a CIA agent, but because of the effect that her being thought to be one would have on all of Plame's personal and business relationships).

Until now, there has been only speculation, usually well below the major-media level, about who gave Novak the information about Plame. Wilson has now pointed a finger at chief Bush political strategist Karl Rove. Go here for lots more on this.

This seems right, unfortunately
Polizeros quotes Slavoj Zizek:

A will to ignorance suggests a troubled conscience: if our government kills and improverishes people to maintain a global hierarchy, Americans don't want to hear about it because it hurts.

It's not just a matter of getting the facts out there. The will to ignorance is too tenacious for that, and there's no master key in existence that will unlock it. But the first step in devising such a key is to admit one is needed. Facts alone won't do the trick.

It's true. Lots of people like being ignorant. They're proud of it. They probably like Bush because he's one of them.

Welcome to BushWorld, Private!

The military expects us to be happy out here. I'm very happy serving my country, but not when the government fails to take care of you.
We volunteered our lives to be out here and we get treated worse than people in prison.
There is no real reason for us to be out here!!!!, We're protecting the oil is all, and as far as the supposed war ending, it hasn't. Not when everyday soldiers are still getting mines placed in front of convoys. Rocket propelled grenades thrown at us.
-- Army PFC Mary Yahne of Bonney Lake, Washington, stuck somewhere in Iraq.

Meanwhile, aWol keeps working on his golf game and taking $2000 donations from people who claim to "support our troops."

From Boondocks.

Compassionate Conservative is Neither
"After three years, he's failed the test," said one prominent early supporter, the Rev. Jim Wallis, leader of Call to Renewal, a network of churches that fights poverty.

Mr. Wallis said Mr. Bush had told him as president-elect that "I don't understand how poor people think," and appealed to him for help by calling himself "a white Republican guy who doesn't get it, but I'd like to." Now, Mr. Wallis said, "his policy has not come even close to matching his words."
-- from a NY Times article on W's failure to live up to his promises.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Deja Vu All Over Again
Remember back in February and March when we had hope that the UN would deny Bush his war by voting down his second resolution? Bush was bribing and threatening countries on the security council--even spying on their UN delegations. But France stood firm with its veto threat, Russia, China and Germany stood with them, and eventually it appeared that Bush might not get more than about four of the fifteen security council votes. So he just scrapped the whole thing and had his war anyway. Well, its happening again:

US may drop effort at UN resolution. The Bushies continue to show the maturity of a kid who threatens to take his ball and go home if the others won't play by his rules.

What it means is that whatever oil they can get out of sabotaged pipelines will go down as the most expensive cheap oil in history. As Senator Hagel said the other day, it may well be $300 to $400 BILLION over three to five years. $400 billion over 4 years would be $100 billion per year, which works out to $343 for each of 291 million Americans. If each American is allocated 5000 vehicle-miles at 20 miles per gallon, that works out to an additional $1.37 for each gallon of gas. But they're not being asked to pay it directly--the bill goes directly to the future: income taxes needed to pay the interest on the huge debt, and money that will be taken out of social security, medicare, and other government programs.

The war is about cheap oil, no matter how much it costs. But the Bushies will do everything possible to prevent the public from realizing the cost at the place it belongs--the gas pump.

Iraqi Freedom
NEVER again did families in Baghdad imagine that they need fear the midnight knock at the door.

But in recent weeks there have been increasing reports of Iraqi men, women and even children being dragged from their homes at night by American patrols, or snatched off the streets and taken, hooded and manacled, to prison camps around the capital.

Children as young as 11 are claimed to be among those locked up for 24 hours a day in rooms with no light, or held in overcrowded tents in temperatures approaching 50C (122F).

On the edge of Baghdad International Airport, US military commanders have built a tent city that human rights groups are comparing to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Remarkably, the Americans have also set up another detention camp in the grounds of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad. Many thousands of Iraqis were taken there during the Saddam years and never seen again.
-- from Common Dreams

AK-47: The GI's weapon of choice
American soldiers are using confiscated Russian-designed AK-47 automatic rifles:

"We just do not have enough rifles to equip all of our soldiers. So in certain circumstances we allow soldiers to have an AK-47. They have to demonstrate some proficiency with the weapon ... demonstrate an ability to use it," said Lt. Col. Mark Young, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. (AP)

What did you expect for a billion dollars a week? That every soldier would get his own weapon?

Kucinich is coming to town!
Tomorrow! Tuesday! Dennis will be here in Ann Arbor from 8:45 to 10:30pm at Clonlara School, 1289 Jewett (between Packard and South Industrial, about a 1/2 mile south of Stadium). If you're anywhere near here, please stop by and show your support for the best candidate for president!

No Evidence
I've been involved in an ongoing discussion with a friend who supports Dean about an article in the WaPo about Dean. The article mentions that Dean supported the first Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan. I've been trying to convince my friend that this should be reason enough not to support Howie. Bush's reaction to 9/11, including the attack on Afghanistan, was the main reason I became this ranting left-wing blogger in the first place. I never trusted him or his explanations, and just as with Iraq (and as with his Daddy in 1990-91) war seemed to be Bush's first and only choice. In the middle of this discussion, I came across a link to this article from a German author on BartCop.

The article reminds us that while none of knows the true story of 9/11, the "official" story is demonstrably false, and is in fact one of the more ridiculous of the "conspiracy theories" out there. The author reminds us, as I did a couple of times on my blog last year, that FBI director Mueller stated publicly that they never found any evidence in the US or Afghanistan which mentioned the 9/11 plot:

"In our investigation, we have not uncovered a single piece of paper – either here in the U.S. or in the treasure trove of information that has turned up in Afghanistan and elsewhere – that mentioned any aspect of the September 11th plot. The hijackers had no computers, no laptops, no storage media of any kind."

The author of the article also describes how many of the supposed suicide hijackers are alive and well today, and he doesn't mean Moussaui (sp?). Still, the official story is, without any evidence whatsoever, and in spite of direct evidence to the contrary, that these 19 guys with names and pictures and biographies were the perps.

I suggest that you read his whole article--lots of interesting stuff there. In light of this, I seriously question Dean and anyone else who says that the Afghan war was a good thing.

From BartCop.

Dynastic Regimes
From a NY Times editorial:

Earlier this month, President Heydar Aliyev, who has ruled Azerbaijan almost continuously since 1969, installed his son, Ilham, as prime minister. President Aliyev, who has no vice president, is now ill. So Ilham, whose reputation has been mainly that of an international playboy, is first in line to succeed his father and is likely to win the presidency in October if his father does not run.

Azerbaijan is not a monarchy — at least not formally. But its ruler is now joining a sizable list of nominally democratic presidents who engineer a deathbed transfer of power to a son. Such successions promise short-term continuity. But the damage they do to democratic institutions creates long-term instability.

Imagine the horror of living in a country where somebody becomes president mostly because his father used to be president. The damage it does to democratic institutions!

An Unpatriotic Act
The NY Times has joined me in protesting Fascroft's Patriot Act road show.

Bush Poll Numbers Down!
Against this backdrop, President George W. Bush’s approval ratings continue to decline. His current approval rating of 53 percent is down 18 percent from April. And for the first time since the question was initially asked last fall, more registered voters say they would not like to see him re-elected to another term as president (49 percent) than re-elected. Forty-four percent would favor giving Bush a second term; in April, 52 percent backed Bush for a second term and 38 percent did not. -- Newsweek

Still, it's awfully scary to be living in a country where the worst president ever still gets an approval rating of 53 percent. What is the matter with those people? Smirky has obviously and repeatedly lied about everything, and there is basically nothing that he has done, ever, that can be honestly said to be good. He's the worst thing that's ever happened to this country, and possibly the world, and 53% still approve?

Extremists from Outside
I saw Paul Bremer, Viceroy or whatever he's called of Iraq, talking with Wolf Blitzer on CNN yesterday. He said, with a straight face:

Well, I have spoken quite frequently about my concerns about Iranian activities here. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are present in Iraq. The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence is present here. And we think that Iraqis do not appreciate interference in their affairs. I certainly have found no Iraqis who think that Iran should be playing around in Iraq's domestic affairs. And I think that's the view of most Iraqis.

Bremer also said:

But it's pretty clear that we do have problems with foreign terrorists coming across some of the borders that Iraq has, shares with its neighbors. And we have called upon Iraq's neighbors to do a better job of controlling those borders.

Like maybe Kuwait should have stopped those 200,000 or so coalition forces from crossing into Iraq back in March? This article from the Mirror explains things clearly:

In 1921, Lieutenant-General Sir Stanley Maude said in Baghdad: "Our armies do not come as conquerors, but as liberators."

Within three years 10,000 had died in an uprising against the British, who gassed and bombed the "terrorists".

Nothing has changed, only the names and the fine print of the lies.

As for the "extremists from outside", simply turn the meaning around and you have a succinct description of the current occupiers who, unprovoked, attacked a defenceless sovereign country, defying the United Nations and the opposition of most of humanity.

That is, the So-Called Liberal Dean. Daniel P. Welch has written a good article about not only why Dean isn't a liberal, which has already been well documented, but why pretending that he is one is dangerous.

The Democratic Leadership Council, the right wing of the Democrats, until recently touted Dean as "just the kind of centrist, New Democratic governor" needed to reform the party (i.e., move it, in Young's turn of phrase, 'so far into the orbit of its rival as to render itself meaningless'). This is, of course, anathema to the left wing of the party, such as it is, not to mention the left in general. But far from being the man of the moment to rescue the country from this asphyxiating me-tooism, Dean is instead the very epitome of it-every bit as much as the bulk of his rivals for the nomination. By trying to portray his agenda as more "left" than it actually is, Dean is delegitimizing exactly the kind of challenge from the left that might revive anti-Bush forces. While the press is generally focused on Dean's "anger at Bush," or his willingness to "take on Bush," few delve more deeply.

Dean's faux-left image is dangerous, and, despite his supporters almost fanatic belief to the contrary, is actually a hindrance to building a coalition that will "take back America." Go ahead and be 'tough on crime' if you are deluded enough to think it can buy a few (white) votes in Texas (or worse, if you really think the problem with the greatest Prison Nation on earth is that we are somehow incarcerating too few people). Just don't pretend it's something it's not. Try to keep in mind, though, that we live in an age where the extremist cabal in Washington stole the election, in part, by exploiting the disenfranchisement of ex-felons, real and imagined, to get where they are. Scrubbing these disproportionately minority voters is a key element of stealing and keeping power in the GOP grand strategy-in Florida it alchemized a loss into a win, and casts the same, long racist shadow over much of the Old Confederacy. With more black men in prison than in college, "tough on crime" has long been establishment code for institutionalized racism.

This reminds me of the video about Noam Chomsky called "Manufacturing Consent." Chomsky argues that by having the New York Times, Dan Rather, Sam Donaldson and the like labeled as "liberal," the debate has been safely locked in a box where no outcome will be truly objectionable to the corporate powers. Progressive ideas like universal health care and cutting the defense budget are never mentioned in the mainstream media, and people who suggest such things are written off as radical whackos (or "non-viable candidates"). The technique worked like a charm with Bill Clinton. By boxing him in from the left (actually the center-right) by constantly attacking him and his wife as liberals, the right was able to get NAFTA, the WTO, welfare reform, a continued powerful military, unfettered corporate and media consolidation, and something they could never get on their own--a balanced budget. They also had the pleasure of continually picking on the guy who was doing everything they wanted and who did much to set the stage for the neocon takeover.

Dean as president would stop some of the worst excesses of the neocons, but he would do little to change the system in such a way that another neocon takeover in four or eight years wouldn't be possible.