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.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni gave a speech to a bunch of military officers and defense contractors. He was sharply critical of Bush's scary band of neoconmen. The speech was apparently very well received, since the article says that many Marines lined up to shake his hand afterwards, and many in the audience bought $15 CD's of the speech.

There's an online poll at the link as well, asking "How would you rate the job the U.S. is doing to reconstruct Iraq?" Currently the score is

Excellent: 10.48%

Good: 24.08%

Fair: 22.11%

Poor: 43.33%.

Why the US invaded Iraq, take 23
Undersecretary of State John Bolton, one of the scariest neocons around, now says that having WMD's wasn't the issue. Even having WMD programs wasn't the issue. No, the issue was that Iraq sought WMD programs, and that justified the invasion.

In an interview with The Associated Press, John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control, said that whether Saddam's regime actually possessed weapons of mass destruction "isn't really the issue."

"The issue I think has been the capability that Iraq sought to have ... WMD programs," Bolton said at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

And while the brutality of Saddam's regime is the most common excuse heard in the last few months, Bolton seems to suggest that Saddam didn't kill enough people:

Bolton said that Saddam kept "a coterie" of scientists he was preserving for the day when he could build nuclear weapons unhindered by international constraints.

That fact, combined with Iraq's history of deceiving U.N. inspectors, showed that Saddam could not be trusted to abandon his ambition to develop unconventional weapons, Bolton said.

"Whether he possessed them today or four years ago isn't really the issue," he said. "As long as that regime was in power, it was determined to get nuclear, chemical and biological weapons one way or another."

You've seen all the quotes -- these liars justified their war on the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Lots of them. Every type. Now Bolton says that they had some scientists who knew how to make weapons, and that was good enough. People of this sort can, and will, justify anything.

WTO Protests
Please join in one or more WTO protests next weekend! There should be thousands of protesters outside the WTO meetings in Cancun from September 10-14, and hopefully they'll be getting a lot of attention. Let's show America that lots of people care about this issue! United for Peace and Justice is organizing protests across the country. Here in Michigan, there will be a "labor fest" at Ford Field in Detroit from 11 to 2 on September 13 and a picket line at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn at noon on the same day. I'm trying to organize Kucinich volunteers for those events--please join us if you're nearby!

Seems to be a common theme here:
The two cartoons below are just a small sample of those currently available in the "Bush goes crawling back to the UN" genre. Check out Slate's collection to see a lot more.

From Mike Thompson.

From Steve Benson.

From Mike Thompson.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Quote du Jour Number Two
This president is a miserable failure! -- Dick Gephardt. Really!

Go Texas Democrats!
They continue their fight against Tom DeLay and his jerrymanderers. Here's their press release from today:

Texas Democratic Senators
Washington, D.C. Press Conference
September 4, 2003


We come here today with an urgent message for Americans. Our Democracy is imperiled.

President Bush and his administration have undertaken the greatest assault on minority voting rights since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. It is a sad fact that the latest President from Texas is attempting to subvert one of the greatest accomplishments of another President from Texas, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Let us be specific. The Republican redistricting plan would silence the voices of 1.4 million Hispanic and African-American Texans. They would either be moved into districts so heavily Republican that their votes won't matter, or would be packed into districts that guarantees them permanent political minority status with little hope of affecting policy decisions in Congress.

Our circumstances have been extreme. To block this effort, we broke the quorum in the Senate and have been encamped in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for more than a month. With other Democrats and some help from Republicans, we have kept the redistricting agenda at bay for nine months.

We will not falter, and we will not quit. The stakes could not be greater. When one political party can erase long-standing parliamentary procedures and constitutional protections to enhance its own power, none of our cherished democratic institutions can be considered safe.

>From the Florida election of 2000 to redistricting efforts in Colorado, Ohio and Texas, to the California recall, many Americans have watched in horror as Karl Rove, Tom DeLay and their henchmen have subverted democratic institutions at every turn. Their actions must be seen for what they are: This is not politics as usual. This is Democracy on the brink of catastrophe.

President Bush has tried to distance himself publicly from the assault on minority voting rights. But as he claims to be reaching out to American minority voters, his administration is attacking the constitutional protections of minorities' very right to vote.

This is unconscionable. President Bush can halt this assault on minority voting rights immediately. We call on him to do so.

He cannot pretend that this is a "state" issue, a "Texas" issue. What is more important in a Democracy than the inviolable right to vote--and for the vote to make a difference?

With all due respect, President Bush no longer can hide his Administration's complicity in this unprecedented and immoral assault on Democracy.

Mr. President, do what is right for all Americans. When the voting rights of a single Texan, a single American, are under assault, the voting rights of all Americans are in jeopardy.

We ask you to tell your employees Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Governor Rick Perry and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst to end this madness.

Your integrity is on the line. The eyes of Texas are upon you, as are the eyes of America.

Chalk one up for the good guys!
Miguel Estrada has withdrawn his nomination to federal appellate court, after Democratic senators filibustered it for nearly two years.

Rummy's in Baghdad
Am I glad he's there? Heavens yes! Do I hope he doesn't come back? Absolutely! (No, I'm not hoping he gets killed. I just think he should stay until everything he screwed up gets straightened out over there.)

None of the above...
is the runaway leader in the Taco Bell California election. While it seemed pretty rigged with Arnold being the "crunchy beef" taco while Gray Davis is the "chicken soft" taco, both Davis and Lt. Gov. Cruz "Chalupa" Bustamante have substantial 9% margins over Arnold. Apparently Arnold has been the worst thing ever to happen to sales of crunchy beef tacos--it looks like none have been sold since the poll started! The other 133 candidates, represented by the Grilled Stuft Burrito, are currently leading with 82% of the votes.

I'm sure hackers had nothing at all to do with this.

Quote du Jour
America is dumb, it's like a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you, aggressive. -- Johnny Depp

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Court blocks FCC rules
Take that Michael Powell!

Two comments on Billmon:
What's the chances of France, Germany and Russia pulling a 'Iran hostages' move and stalling any move on rescuing the U.S. in Iraq until after the '04 elections? It could be a wise move on their part. Clearly, any democratic administration that takes over after a Bush loss would be more willing to mend fences by conceding more than the neo-cons.

Why should Europe bail out the U.S. in Iraq when it goes against their best interests? Look if our troops get freed up between now and Nov'04 Bush will start another war. Either with NK or invade another country in the ME like Syria or Iran. And worse our people will support it. Doubt me? Bush has 65% approval ratings and with a citizenry this stupid and passive. Most will believe anything Bush says. In short helping Bush is like aiding a serial killer.

From Steve Benson.

From Matt Davies.

From Kal.

From Steve Sack.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Back to UN We Go!
I'm not sure it offers much hope for improving much of anything, but I'm very curious how Rush, O'Reilly and the other UN-haters will spin this one. Of course, if it weren't for our veto, the UN could just decide to do what it did the last time a country in the Gulf region was illegally invaded--bomb the crap out of us for a month, force us to withdraw, then sanction us for twelve years.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office says the Pentagon will have to reduce the size of our forces in Iraq, no matter what.

I keep thinking of the current situation in terms of chess. What really matters at any point in time is the reality on the board, not what grand or less-than-grand schemes led to that reality. You may still be pursuing checkmate using a killer knight fork five moves after your opponent took your last knight. Your friend, who hasn't been following the game, walks in and says "Dude--you've got nothing! You're beat! Give it up!" But not only have you been devoted to your grand strategy during the course of this game, but for twelve years previously. You've dreamed and drooled over the possibility of facing this opponent, thought about little else. You've cheated and lied to get the opportunity. And for a while there things seemed to be going well. So ignoring the reality on the board, which is bad and getting worse by the minute, you cling to your pathetic hopes.

And I won't pretend to be some phony patriot hoping this all comes out well for Bush. To me, his humiliation is absolutely necessary for the future good of the US and the world. I hope it is accomplished with a minimum of bloodshed, but if Bush isn't humiliated, and soon, there will be no end to the bloodshed until the last of us has died. I want Bush humiliated so badly that when President Kucinich turns him over to the International Criminal Court in 2005 we'll have 99% of Americans approving. :-)

Hopefully, this crawling back to the UN is a start on that humiliation.

Bush Tax Cuts Having Their Intended Effect
Census Shows Ranks of Poor Rose by 1.3 Million.

Great Kucinich Website!
With Links to videos and audios.

It's not terrorism when we do it!
Stephen Zunes points out the blatant hypocrisy in the so-called "war on terror."

There must be decisive action by the international community to stop such attacks, both through challenging policies that breed terrorism -- such as military occupations and support for dictatorial regimes -- as well as through improved intelligence, interdiction and, where necessary, well-targeted paramilitary operations aimed at the terrorists themselves.

At the same time, the refusal by the U.S. government and media to acknowledge the U.S. role in international terrorism raises serious questions as to whether the United States really is waging a “war on terrorism” or a war limited only to terrorism that does not support U.S. strategic objectives. Until the U.S. government is willing to come out categorically against all terrorism, it will be difficult to find the international cooperation necessary to rid the world from this very real threat.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

The Iron Triangle
I think that's what William Greider called the unholy alliance between the Pentagon, Congress, and military contractors in his 1997 book Fortress America. Eisenhower called it the military-industrial complex. Greider suggested that the iron triangle shuddered in panic when the Soviet Union collapsed--would the gravy train come to an end? Not to worry. Using some obtuse language, two George Bushes have reinvigorated militarism to set everything right with the triangle. And Paul Wolfowitz makes the connection pretty explicit in his op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal:

Just as in the Cold War, holding the line in Berlin and Korea was not just about those places alone. It was about the resolve of the free world. Once that resolve was made clear to the Soviets, communism eventually collapsed. The same thing will happen to terrorism--and to all those who have attempted to hijack Islam and threaten America and the rest of the free world, which now includes Iraq. They will see our resolve and the resolve of the free world. Then they, too, will take their place on the ash heap of history.

The free world now includes Iraq? Military checkpoints everywhere, arrests by the hundreds, gunfire, explosions, no power, no water--I guess Janis Joplin was right: Freedom's just another word for "nothin' left to lose."

Wolfowitz's point, such as it is, of his op-ed is summarized in the concluding sentence:

To those who think the battle in Iraq is a distraction from the global war against terrorism . . . tell that to our troops.

He seems to be signalling a shift for who to blame for the occupation's immense problems from Saddam loyalists to foreign terrorists. I'm afraid that if his logic is followed to its terrifying conclusion, in a few years he'll be ending his columns with:

To those who think the battle in Colombia is a distraction from the global war against terrorism...

and not too much longer after that:

To those who think the battle in Kentucky is a distraction from the global war against terrorism...

I guess the most infuriating part is his assumption that there could be anyone in the world with LESS right to be in Iraq than the US military. Imagine if Iraq had attacked the US (admittedly a completely ridiculous idea given how far away it is, its lack of a navy or air force or any serious offensive weaponry capability at all, not to mention that it had never attacked or even threatened us). Even if they freed us from the horrible government of George W. Bush, I don't think many Americans would rest until every last Iraqi invader had been either chased from our shores or killed. Why should we expect Iraqis to react differently to a bloody invasion?

Kucinich Video
An excellent campaign video is now available online.

I've been reading Al Franken's book...
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. I've been planning on posting selections here--I'll guess I'll start with the one Atrios chose:

"[M]ainly it was Coleman’s proxies who played it dirty," Al Franken writes. "The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) ran an ad called ‘Pork’ that hit the hypocrisy jackpot. It savaged Wellstone for voting ‘to spend thousands of dollars to control seaweed in Maui,’ claiming that he prioritized seaweed control over national defense. In fact, Wellstone did vote for S.1216, as did Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott and 84 other senators. That bill did appropriate the seaweed control spending—but it also provided $21 billion for veterans’ health care, $27 billion for veterans’ compensation and pensions, and block grants to assist New York City’s recovery from 9/11. The NRSC was chaired that year by Bill Frist, who later replaced Lott as Senate majority leader. Before the memorial, Frist spoke with the Wellstones’ older son, David, who later recounted the conversation to me.

"‘I’m sorry about your parents and your sister,’ Frist told David.

"‘Did you authorize the seaweed ad against my dad?’ David asked.

"‘Yes,’ said Frist.

"‘And did you vote for the seaweed bill?’

"There was a pause. They both knew that the answer was yes. Finally, Frist said, ‘It wasn’t personal.’

"‘My dad took it personal,’ David said. ‘Thanks for coming to my family’s memorial.’"

Remember that when someone attacks a politician for his or her vote on some bill.

I wish I'd said that!
Naomi Klein writes in the Guardian about how the "war on terror" is being used to repress opposition around the world:

Many have argued that the War on Terror is the US government's thinly veiled excuse for constructing a classic empire, in the model of Rome or Britain. Two years into the crusade, it's clear this is a mistake: the Bush gang doesn't have the stick-to-it-ness to successfully occupy one country, let alone a dozen. Bush and the gang do, however, have the hustle of good marketers, and they know how to contract out. What Bush has created in the WoT is less a "doctrine" for world domination than an easy-to-assemble toolkit for any mini-empire looking to get rid of the opposition and expand its power.

The War on Terror was never a war in the traditional sense. It is, instead, a kind of brand, an idea that can be easily franchised by any government in the market for an all-purpose opposition cleanser. We already know that the WoT works on domestic groups that use terrorist tactics such as Hamas or the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (Farc). But that's only its most basic application. WoT can be used on any liberation or opposition movement. It can also be applied liberally on unwanted immigrants, pesky human rights activists and even on hard-to-get-out investigative journalists.

Not to brag (too much), but I've been saying this for over a year (see last year's archive page for context on these quotes):

(Addressed to Bush) [Russia and India] clearly have their own agendas and are happy to use your "war on terrorism" nonsense to support the suppression of rebels within their borders, but you are playing with serious fire if you ignore what these countries have to say. (12/4/02)

An even worse idea was extending the "War on Terrorism" so that the Pakistanis, Filipinos, Russians, Chinese, Indonesians, etc. could use the it as cover for squelching domestic dissent, sometimes with US military help. (9/27/02)

Arrests are being made for political purposes around the world, all in the name of the frigging "War on Terrorism." Has a better tool for the suppression of liberty and democracy ever been invented? (9/16/02)

Under the guise of "defending freedom," the "war on terrorism" is actively suppressing liberation movements around the globe. (8/27/02)

Besides increasing the frequency and violence of wars around the world, the US role as arms merchant to the world is clearly anti-democratic since it gives additional deadly power to those already in power, making it easier for them to suppress any opposition. As if that weren't enough, Bush has offered to assist governments in "fighting terror," which they are pretty much free to define any way they want. (6/10/02)

Bush declared a general "war on terrorism" which is little more than an offer to repressive regimes to assist them in repressing. (5/15/02)

From Mike Thompson.

qWagmire Continues
Two MP's killed, one wounded in Baghdad.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Bush's Resume

If you're like me, you've probably received "Dubya's Resume" about fifty times in the past few months. But is it all true? Could any one man be that incompetent? Well, someone has been busy providing links to back up every item on the resume. Anybody doesn't believe how bad Bush is, send 'em there.

Liberal Oasis on Kerry...
...and his continued defense of the indefensible--his vote on the Iraq war:

Yesterday (on Meet the Press), Kerry gave a defense full of holes and contradictions. It's spin that makes your head spin.

He said:

"The bottom line is that we voted on the basis of information that was given to us, that has since then been proven to be incorrect."

OK then, you got had. Not your fault. Perhaps we shouldn’t have gone to war and you should retract your original position.

But Kerry won’t go there:

"…it was right to hold Saddam Hussein accountable, absolutely correct.

And anybody who doesn't believe it wasn't correct ought to go dig around in those graves or even make a judgment about what would happen if you left Saddam Hussein alone to do this."

Alone to do what exactly, if the info on WMD was incorrect?

And Saddam’s cruelty towards his own people wasn’t Kerry’s rationale going in. In his own words yesterday:

"I didn't base it on the nuclear, but the most important and compelling rationale were the lack of inspections and the non-compliance of Saddam Hussein.

Even Hans Blix at the United Nations said he is not in compliance."

Essentially, chem and bio weapons it would seem was Kerry's concern (that was Blix’s jurisdiction). Not mass graves. Not nukes.

But hold on again. Just before that answer, Russert aired a clip of Kerry's Oct. ’02 Senate floor speech explaining his position then:

"According to the CIA's report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that they are seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop them."

It’s just a mess. He’s talked himself into a hole that now he can’t get out of.

He should have either taken the Joe Lieberman route, somewhat downplaying the Bush lies, as Lieberman did on CBS’ Face The Nation yesterday:

"…the president and the administration, I'm afraid, did overstate the case in some ways.

And what bothers me about that is that it wasn't necessary. [It] has threatened to give a bad name to what I'm convinced was a just war."

Or, you can take the claim that you were given “incorrect” info to its logical conclusion and renounce your vote.

Of course, the Lieberman route would pull Kerry farther to the Right than he wants to be.

And to renounce the war completely would peg him an “anti-war” candidate (and, perhaps more unfairly, a “flip-flopper”).

That’s not part of the Kerry game plan.

So Kerry’s made his bed, and he’s chosen to lie in it, messy as the bed may be.

[Update] BartCop wasn't impressed with Kerry either.

Chalabi: The problem, not the solution.
The Washington Post wasted valuable column-inches yesterday posting a op-ed by one of Donald Rumsfeld's favorite criminals, Ahmad Chalabi. While putting in several plugs for handing power over to his group of necon exiles, the Iraqi National Congress, he pays lip service to ending the US occupation:

An extended occupation under the coalition leading to a popular resistance provides the political power to Hussein's plan and plays into his hands. The politics of occupation is well practiced in the Middle East -- the coalition would be wise to avoid it.

And how does he propose to end the occupation? Using the same enlightened methods that Hitler used in Poland and Stalin used in the Ukraine:

There are other steps the United States needs to take immediately to combat the Hussein network and improve security:

• Crack down on Saddam supporters at large in the country. Coalition forces need to move quickly to arrest and question thousands of people: Baathists, Saddam Fedayeen and former members of the security services and the military, as well as their brothers, sons, nephews and cousins. The Iraqi National Congress and other pro-coalition groups can provide lists and locations of these people and assist in their interrogations.

How thoughtful of him to provide lists of thousands of people, as well as their relatives, and offer to assist in their interrogations. The guy's a crook and a fraud just trying to get the US to coronate him. Sort of like Saddam in the '70's? Hmmm...

Maybe I don't need to fix my furnace after all
Just trying to find a silver lining in this report which says that the Earth is warmer now than at any time in the previous 2000 years.

Prof Philip Jones, a director of the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit and one of the authors of the research, said: "You can't explain this rapid warming of the late 20th century in any other way. It's a response to a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Got any outrage left? Read this:

A definite bombshell from Time magazine:

The article quotes extensively from a book by Gerald Posner. It describes the US interrogation of al Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah in Afghanistan. According to Time, the story reported by Posner comes from two government sources, one high in the Bush administration and the other in the CIA. And the story is:

Zubaydah revealed numerous links between Osama bin Laden and the Pakistani and (especially) the Saudi governments. He revealed this because the interrogators led him to believe that he had been extradited to Saudi Arabia, thinking he would fear torture. Instead, he told the fake Saudis to call his contacts in the government, and he gave them phone numbers of some Saudi princes. According to Posner, these phone numbers checked out.

Posner also claims that Zubaydah said that high Saudi and Pakistani officials knew that there would be a big terrorist attack on the US on September 11, but that they didn't know the details.

One more thing: all of this stuff was reportedly revealed by Zubaydah in April 2002. So how did the Bushies react to evidence that two so-called allies helped to fund, and knew in advance about, September 11:

The Bush Administration, writes Posner, decided that "creating an international incident and straining relations with those regional allies when they were critical to the war in Afghanistan and the buildup for possible war with Iraq, was out of the question."

In other words, maintain alliances with the two countries most directly involved in 9/11 in order to attack a country which was peripherally involved (Afghanistan) and one which had no connection to it at all (Iraq).

US out, Neocons in
Now there's a solution! From William S. Lind in Counterpunch. Excerpt:

Here we encounter the essence of the problem, and of the American failure: those in Washington who brought about this war sought to destroy a regime, but they ended up destroying the Iraqi state. In an era when the most powerful international fact of life is the decline of the state, recreating a state is very difficult. It is not surprising that American efforts to recreate a state in Iraq have thus far failed. Iraqi efforts may also fail, leaving the region in a permanent state of chaos similar to what we find in places like West Africa. Again, by staying longer in Iraq the U.S. does not diminish this possibility, it increases it.

That is my basic answer to the question of what is to be done: promise to have every American soldier out of Iraq by Christmas, and do it. Between now and then, our focus needs to be on keeping the troops who are still in Iraq alive and generally diminishing our role there. We should pull the troops out of cities wherever possible, garrisoning them where they will have little interaction with Iraqis. We should turn every function in Iraq over to any Iraqis who will take it, starting with the puppet Governing Council we set up. The Council will not survive after we are gone, but it can provide some useful cover as we get out. We should welcome the U.N., the Arab League, and anyone else who is willing to come into Iraq as we get out. Leaving someone else holding the bag is what is called skillful diplomacy.

Leaving Iraq will not be a defeat for America, because America never had any interests at stake in Iraq in the first place. There were no weapons of mass destruction, Saddam and Bin Laden hated each other's guts and the notion that Iraq constituted a threat to American security was pure invention. Genuine threats to American security may arise in a post-state Mesopotamia, but we have already created that monster and we will have to live with it. Folly has its consequences.

An American withdrawal from Iraq will be a defeat for the neocon clique that started the war in the first place. To that I say, "Hurrah!" The sooner the neocons are defeated and driven from power, the less the chance that American soldiers will be sent to die in more unnecessary and strategically counterproductive wars. In fact, to make the punishment fit the crime, we ought to round up every neocon in Washington and make them all "Special Representatives" to Iraq, with orders to get on the next plane to Baghdad and only come back on the last plane out. Then, we should forget to send that last plane.
(Emphasis added.)