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, September 13, 2003

The Devil Went Down to Georgia...
to spout childish BS to the just-returned soldiers of the third infantry. Many weren't buying it:

Pvt. Kenneth Henry, 21, a radar operator with a field artillery unit, said the response was muted by the pervasive knowledge among the soldiers and their families that they will likely have to return to Iraq soon.

"How could you make these people feel better when you just said you're putting $87 billion into sending them back?" Henry asked.

Henry spent about six months in Iraq, traveling from Kuwait over the border to Nasiriyah and through the Karbala Gap before helping to take the Baghdad airport. He said he lost about 10 members of his unit, the Alpha 1-39 Field Artillery, and he's not eager to go back.

"What I heard him say was, 'You went there. You took names. Came home. Now you're going back,' " Henry said. "He likes war. He should go fight in a war for two days and see how he likes it."
-- LA Times.

Ain't gonna pay for war no more...
Newsweek poll: 51% of Americans OPPOSE giving Bush $87 billion more to burn in Iraq. So why were only 11% of the Democratic presidential candidates willing to express their opposition? Thanks, Dennis!

From Kevin Kallaugher.

From Mike Lane.

From Anne Telnaes.

From Ed Stein.

From Drew Sheneman.

From Ted Rall.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Which side are we again?
Bush said Powell will "carry a message: No free nation can be neutral in the fight between civilization and chaos." -- WaPo

The same stupid "with us or against us" crap he said two years ago. And the terms he uses! Iraq has been termed the "cradle of civilization" because of the cultures that developed there thousands of years ago. Saddam's government was brutal and repressive, but life in pre-war Iraq was not, by most accounts I've seen, chaotic. The chaos was brought into Iraq by the foreigners who crossed Iraq's poorly-defended borders in March and early April. Looting, car bombings, cop shootings--all made possible by the illegal US-British invasion.

Depressing Quote du Jour
In a world where a sub-sentient, fratboy can be successfully marketed as a strong, decisive leader to a significant number of independents and Democrats, I think it’s obvious that the Republicans are on to something. -- Digby

Sad, Isn't It?
I'm learning more about Johnny Cash now that he's dead than I ever did before.

MaxSpeak links to Cash's Ballad of Ira Hayes, about a Pima Indian who fought in the battle for Iwo Jima, but returned home to an America that offered him nothing. And Tom Tomorrow posts the lyrics of Cash's Man in Black:

Well you wonder why I always dress in black
Why you never see bright colors on my back
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone
Well there's a reason for the things that I have on
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Livin' in the hopeless hungry side of town
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime
But is there because he's a victim of the times

Johnny Cash, 1932-2003.

Well, Abe wasn't officially a Republican yet...
Maxspeak posted this letter from Abraham Lincoln to his law partner William H. Herndon. Aside from copying it verbatim here, I have added value by highlighting key parts. You're welcome.

The second paragraph refers to the US annexation of Mexican territory in 1846, which Lincoln opposed.

Washington, Feb. 18, 1848

Dear William:

Your letter of the 29th Jany. was received last night. Being exclusively a constitutional argument, I wish to submit some reflections upon it in the same spirit of kindness that I know actuates you. Let me first state what I understand to be your position. It is, that if it shall become necessary, to repel invasion, the President may, without violation of the Constitution, cross the line, and invade the territory of another country; and that whether such necessity exists in any given case, the President is to be the sole judge.

Before going further, consider well whether this is, or is not your position. If it is, it is a position that neither the President himself, nor any friend of his, so far as I know, has ever taken. Their only positions are first, that the soil was ours where hostilities commenced, and second, whether it was rightfully ours or not, Congress had annexed it, and the President, for that reason was bound to defend it, both of which are as clearly proved to be false in fact, as you can prove your house is not mine. The soil was not ours; and Congress did not annex or attempt to annex it.

But to return to your position: Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose - and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, "I see no probability of the British invading us," but he will say to you, "Be silent; I see it, if you don't."

The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.

Write soon again.

Yours truly,

A. Lincoln

SOURCE: Abraham Lincoln: A Documentary Portrait Through His Speeches and Writings, edited and with an introduction by Don E. Fehrenbacher; New American Library, 1964.

So many possibilities...
But this by itself demands impeachment and life imprisonment for the entire Bush administration:

The burning ruins of the World Trade Center spewed toxic gases "like a chemical factory" for at least six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks despite government assurances the air was safe, according to a study released on Wednesday.
The White House "convinced the EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones," Tinsley said. Among the information withheld was the potential health hazards of breathing asbestos, lead, concrete and pulverized glass, the report said.

Read what August Pollack, who was living about a mile away at the time, has to say about this. Personally, I think that failing to warn your own people when you know they are being gassed amounts to pretty much the same thing as "gassing your own people."

Best Review of a TV Movie EVER!!!
Kristen Breitweiser, a 9/11 widow, reviews the Bush propaganda film "DC 9/11." (Her review is on Salon, and requires viewing a 15-second AOL ad before you can read the whole thing--definitely worth it!)

She starts out:
The film "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis," which premiered Sunday night on Showtime, is a mind-numbingly boring, revisionist, two-hour-long wish list of how 9/11 might have gone if we had real leaders in the current administration. This film is rated half of a fighter jet -- since that is about what we got for our nation's defense on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

Then she starts to get a little critical:

It also confuses me that the filmmakers would allot so much time to the war posturing in Afghanistan because that, too, has been a failure. President Bush is quoted in the fictional drama as saying he will take Osama bin Laden "dead or alive." But, I'm sorry, have we captured him? And why so much time spent on this war plan anyway? I thought there was a copy of it on the president's desk the day before 9/11?

After a totally called-for attack on Condi Rice, Breitweiser continues:

It's also interesting to watch the fictional versions of Ari Fleischer and Karen Hughes "strategizing" and "orchestrating" to make President Bush look like a strong leader. Who knew that it was such hard work to frame the president as an empathetic, strong and competent leader in the face of the nation's worst tragedy? Forgive my naiveté, but I never knew how meticulously planned the president's every single word and movement were. And if his words are that carefully and painfully chosen, just how did those 16 words get into his State of the Union address anyway? But I digress.

What is so "off" about the film is that it is too slow, too methodical, too calm. There are no suit jackets hanging over chairs, no 5 o'clock shadows, no empty coffee cups strewn about, no shirt-sleeves rolled up, no people pulling all-nighters. No tempers flaring. No panic. No raw emotion. Nothing but a lot of talking, walking and more talking, and the occasional workout session by the president -- who knew he could bench-press so much weight?

The whole thing's good, and I don't want to deprive AOL of their fifteen seconds of fame (or get sued for doing so), so just get yourself over to Salon, pay homage to AOL, and enjoy the best movie review of the year!

They Noticed!
On page 23, of course:

Since the fall of Baghdad five months ago, senior administration officials from President Bush downward have been reinventing the rationale for war. -- Washington Post

"I don't think [Wolfowitz and other administration officials] are being forthright," said [Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln] Chafee, the sole Republican senator to vote against the war. "They are using whatever argument is most marketable at any given time."

Cheerful words from Paul Krugman:
If you thought the last two years were bad, just wait: it's about to get worse. A lot worse.

More Hearts and Minds Stuff
This AP report says that US soldiers mistakenly opened fire on Iraqi police in Fallujah who were chasing highway bandits. At least eight of the cops were killed. Many of these Iraqi cops have already been killed by members of the resistance, rightly or wrongly, for collaborating with the occupation. Now they're getting shot by the occupiers. This will do wonders for the efforts to turn security over to Iraqis. Suicide bombers probably have longer life expectancies than Iraqi police do right now.

The same article also says that two more US soldiers were killed and seven wounded last night. Rarely have so many suffered for so long so that so few could get so rich.

Dual-use Comments
I got involved in a comment thread at the Hamster about whether the war in Afghanistan was justified. Just like Howard Dean does, it is easy for many to claim that the Afghan war was an appropriate response to 9/11. I disagree. Here are the comments that I made there, slightly edited to make a little more sense (since I'm not posting the comments of the others in the thread).

We'll never know for sure if there was any real justification for the war in Afghanistan since Bush has blocked or hindered every attempt to investigate what really happened on 9/11 and who was responsible. From what we seem to know about the hijackers, where they lived, where they came from, and where they got their money from, attacks on Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Germany and Florida seem to be as justifiable as the attack on Afghanistan. (Florida not only harbored Atta and other hijackers, it also harbors terrorists who blew up a Cuban airliner in the '70's.)

And while the leaders of the Taliban were nutcases, many of their soldiers that we killed or detained were simply teenagers drafted at gunpoint.

Three-thousand mostly innocent civilians were killed in the US on 9/11. Our response was to kill thousands of people almost none of whom could possibly have been involved in 9/11. (I say "mostly innocent civilians" because some in the Pentagon were not civilians, and former FBI agent John O'Neill was working in the WTC that day. He had spent most of the previous decade tracking Osama. I'm not saying he shouldn't have, or that he deserved to die for it, but he was an avowed enemy of al Qaeda. If OBL applied Bush's warped logic, which is certainly possible, he could claim that O'Neill was his target and the rest were just regrettable collateral damage.)

Congress and the president should have an almost overwhelming bias against war. Unfortunately, since 9/11, it has been just the opposite. The first Gulf War came back to haunt us through OBL, Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and John Alan Mohammed. These two new Bush wars will almost certainly have similar blowback. And what's really scary is that I think Bush welcomes it. Bring 'em on.


Just before the bombing started and for a short while after that, the Taliban did make offers to turn over OBL through a third country if Bush presented them with evidence of his involvement. W said stuff about not negotiating with terrorists (although they had been courting the Taliban about the pipeline before 9/11, even though they "harbored" OBL then and he had been blamed for the attacks on the embassies and the Cole), and went ahead with his war.

The war wasn't a just one because the number of people killed, wounded and captured who had nothing to do with 9/11 far outnumbered those who did. I'm still not convinced that anyone outside the 19 hijackers was actually involved in the planning of 9/11. Atta seems to have been quite bright and perfectly capable of coming up with the scheme mostly on his own. They certainly had outside support in terms of funding, probably from Saudi Arabia. But seriously, except in the most general way (go do something nasty to America), the actual planning for 9/11 could not have been done in the mountains of Afghanistan. No internet, no phones, probably days to get a message out. It was planned in apartments in Germany and Florida and New Jersey and San Diego. And almost all of the people involved in the planning died in the execution, IMHO.

Destroying the Taliban was gratuitous and unnecessary (not to mention unsuccessful, judging by recent news reports). Our troops still seem to have a license to kill anyone who was ever affiliated with the Taliban, even as just a lowly foot soldier. Just as in Iraq, lots of boys and men in Afghanistan have lost brothers and fathers (and sisters and mothers and so on) due to this excessive and brutal US response. I'm sure many of them have already dedicated their lives to getting revenge.


One other thing: the idea that the Taliban was "harboring" OBL. It took the most sophisticated military in the history of the world months to clear al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, and we're still not sure it's a done deal. How could one of the least sophisticated militaries, the Taliban, have possibly accomplished kicking al Qaeda out using Nissan pickups and AK-47's? Al Qaeda was there because they couldn't be kicked out easily, if at all. The Taliban had no choice but to tolerate OBL, at a minimum. Since they were in a struggle against the also brutal "Northern Alliance," they chose to court OBL rather than offend him. They probably wanted to--my point is they had little choice. Bush's "make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them" was the problem. Assuming the common assumptions are correct (though there's really no evidence supporting it, as FBI Director Mueller said in a speech last year), OBL and al Qaeda deserved to be punished for 9/11. The Taliban, brutal as they were (are), did not, especially the soldiers. Bush could have said "Taliban, get out of our way, we're taking out Osama." Instead, he just lumped them all together and started killing al Qaeda and Taliban and civilians. And Osama seems to still be running around.

Killing thousands of Taliban soldiers and holding thousands of others prisoner because their leaders didn't do something they were probably incapable of doing (expelling OBL) seems pretty unjust to me.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Bush's resignation speech
Look, in my speech this past Sunday, I used the word "democracy" about 11 times when talking about Iraq. It's democracy Florida-style, I suppose. Except we're not fixing the vote this time … we aren't letting these people vote at all. "Iraqis aren't prepared for democracy." That's what Dick Cheney and Saddam Hussein told me.
When I arrived, the last guy left me $4 trillion and said, "Be careful with all that cash in this neighborhood." Well, I have to level with you, America: it's all gone. The cupboard's bare and this year alone we blew half a trillion more dollars than we have in our bank account. Man, I can't believe I went through all that dough stone sober.
And what did we get for it? A Fatherland Security Department that's trying to read the labels on everyone's underpants. Think about it, all this Total Information Awareness KGB stuff: two years ago Americans were the victims - but my government has made Americans the suspects. I don't know about you, but this guy Ashcroft scares the bejeezus out of me.
Hey, I can take a hint. OK, I'm over my head on this one. I look back over these last years, and what have I got to show you for it: two years of bloodshed, economic devastation, and spreading fear in America and abroad.
-- unfortunately, from Greg Palast via Jim Hightower, not smirky.

Arrest Ashcroft for Contempt!
The Justice Department yesterday for a second time defied the federal judge overseeing the case of accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, saying it would not comply with her order to turn over two top al Qaeda detainees for interviews by Moussaoui and his legal team.
"These unprecedented depositions of . . . enemy combatants would needlessly jeopardize national security at a time of war with an enemy who has already murdered thousands of our citizens," said the filing, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Spencer, the lead prosecutor.
The stakes are high for not only the Moussaoui case but also for further prosecutions of major terrorism cases in civilian courts. If the higher courts order the government to produce the three al Qaeda operatives, officials have said that they probably will move the Moussaoui prosecution to a military tribunal.
-- WaPo

This crap has to stop. Once Moussaoui disappears into enemy-combatant-land, we'll never know what if any involvement he had with 9/11. And this constant threat to remove defendants from our already seriously-flawed criminal justice system into never-never land threatens us all.

From Boondocks.

Osama bin Remembered?

Anyone else think those two stories go together? Buzzflash does.

Lies and the Lying Liars...
"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that," [Rumsfeld] said. -- BBC, Nov. 15, 2002

The war officially began on March 19--Five months, three weeks and two days ago. Of course, Rummy fully admits his error:

JIM LEHRER: Rightly or wrongly, Mr. Secretary, I went back and checked the record today, the impression that was given in public statements and all that sort of thing was that when this war ended, this war was going to end, that when Saddam Hussein and his regime, you know, fell, then the rest of it was going to be kind of a mop-up. And I'm just --

-- PBS, yesterday.

The American Gulag
The United States wants to hold most of the suspected terrorists at a prison camp in Cuba for the duration of the war on terrorism instead of trying them before military tribunals, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

Rumsfeld said the 660 or so men held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base are imprisoned not as punishment but "to keep them from going back and fighting again and killing people." He said most would be held until the global war on terrorism is over - a fight that Rumsfeld has said could last years, if not decades.

The defense secretary said he expects some suspects to be tried before military tribunals but prefers that most continue to be imprisoned indefinitely.

"Our interest is in not trying them and letting them out," he said in a question-and-answer session after a speech to the National Press Club. "Our interest is in - during this global war on terror - keeping them off the streets, and so that's what's taking place."
-- AP

A couple of one-liners:
Jay Leno: "Rumsfeld said we shouldn't criticize the President. In other words, Americans shouldn't criticize our government for attempting to give the people in Iraq the right to criticize their government."

David Letterman: "President Bush, to help stabilize the situation in Iraq, wants $87 billion. Why is he asking us? He can get this in one Republican fundraiser."

Dumb and Dumber
Sounds like a coalition of the willing to me:
Wolfowitz said the Iraqi government was recruiting volunteers from other countries to battle U.S. troops "from the very early stages of the war," and displayed what he said were the passports of "foreign terrorists" killed or captured in Iraq during the U.S.-led invasion.

Get your Condi Rice Visa card:
Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told international reporters Tuesday that "a stable and prosperous Iraq is going to be the centerpiece of a more stable Middle East."

"The price tag may be very high," Rice said. "However, freedom is priceless. Security is priceless."

Both of those quotes are from CNN.

Then, there's Dumbest:
"The $87 billion, it's important to spend that money. It's in our national interest that we spend it," Bush said following a White House meeting with Kuwait's prime minister.

"A free and peaceful Iraq will save this country money in the long term. It's important to get it done now."

"I heard somebody say, well, what we need to do is have a tax increase to pay for this. That's an absurd notion," Bush told reporters.

"You don't raise taxes when an economy is recovering. Matter of fact, lower taxes will help enhance economic recovery.

"We want our people going back to work. We've got good momentum now in our economy; we don't want to destroy that momentum. But the $87 billion is worth it and I look forward to working with Congress to get that number completed and get the job done. "

Worst president ever--by far. (Sorry, George H. W., for taking away your title. At least it's still in the family.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I don't think I can improve on Digby's analysis of some really slimey MSNBC propaganda, so I'll let you read it for yourself!

Wrong Again
The attacks you have heard and read about in the last few weeks have occurred predominantly in the central region of Iraq, between Baghdad and Tikrit -- Saddam Hussein's former stronghold. The north of Iraq is generally stable and is moving forward with reconstruction and self-government. -- aWol, Sunday night.

ERBIL, Iraq, Sept. 10 — A suicide bomber driving a sport utility vehicle attacked a building used by Americans in this northern city, killing a local child and wounding about 50 people, 15 seriously, witnesses said today. -- NY Times, today.

Debate: The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly

Here's the detailed review of quotes from the debate that I promised last night. Wanting to end on a positive note, I'll start on a negative note.

The three dumbest quotes of the night. It should be no surprise that two come from Lieberman.

1. LIEBERMAN: This is a very important answer for the 140,000 Americans who are in Iraq and the military today and their families here in America, a disproportionate number of whom are African American. I would be prepared as president to send American troops in there to protect the 140,000 who are there today, because international peacekeepers may not be there for months to come.

In other words, protect our troops by putting even more in harm's way. Brilliant, Joe.

2. DEAN: First of all, let me just address Juan's question. I have never said that African American cities need gun control and white states don't. I have never said that. What I have said is that rural states -- and this includes places like Tennessee, perhaps, that have low homicide rates -- don't need the same gun laws that urban states do.

And if urban states want to have lots of gun control, let them have it, but just don't impose the same gun laws that you have in New York City or New Jersey or California on states like Vermont, which have a very low homicide rate.

To paraphrase Dean: I've never said what I'm about to say--here it is.

3. LIEBERMAN: In 2000, Al Gore and I went all around this country and warned the American people about George W. Bush. We said he would squander our surplus. We said he would compromise civil rights, he would abandon the middle class and he would turn his back on the poor. Let's be honest about this, the presidency of Bush has been a worse nightmare than even Al and I warned America about.

Funny thing is, Joe, about all I remember from you and Gore in 2000 is prescription drug plans and lock boxes. Let's be honest about this, if you said anything about Bush squandering the surplus and compromising civil rights, you didn't say it very loud or very often. Maybe you could have told us that he's a warmongering maniac, too. You could have told us about PNAC. No surprise that Bush has been a worse nightmare than you warned us about--you hardly warned us at all.


Okay, on to the in-between stuff. This started with Gephardt describing conversations he had with Bush last year:

GEPHARDT: [Bush] said, "I need your help. If I'm going to get the U.N., I got to show that I've got Congress behind me."

I said, "Fine, but I want language in the resolution that says you're going to exhaust the process at the U.N. and you'll have a plan."

He never had the plan and, incredibly, four, five months after the war is ended, he does not have the help that we need. It is an abomination that he has not gotten our country and our troops the help that we need.

To which Kucinich replied: Dick -- who is a good friend of mine -- Dick, I just want to say that when you were standing there in the Rose Garden with the president and you were giving him advice, I wish that you would have told him no, because as our Democratic leader, your position...


As our Democratic leader, your position helped to inform mightily the direction of the war. And I believe -- I am glad -- and I share your passion now about the direction the administration is taking this country.

And Sharpton added later, citing Gephardt's applause line: And what bothers me is that some in the Congress that supported the president should have asked him before they gave him entrance what the exit was. I've never heard of people acting like they didn't know we needed an exit when they gave him the entrance. That is a miserable failure, for us to allow this president to play these kinds of games.


Finally, on to the good stuff! These are just in the order they appeared in the debate, since I don't have time to rate them:

SHARPTON: So I think that what we all need to do on September 11th is say to George Bush, promises made were not kept. We still have bin Laden at large. Newsweek magazine can find him, video and audio coverage can find him. This guys has out more videos than a rock star, but George Bush's intelligence agencies can't find him.

KUCINICH: I think we have to understand that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, nor with Al Qaida's attack, nor did they have anything to do with the anthrax attack. I think Senator Kerry described well the direction we should be going in. I only wish that he had joined with me in an effort to organize Congress to vote against the war.

GRAHAM: I will support whatever is required to protect our brave men and women in Iraq. I will not support a dime to protect the profits of Halliburton in Iraq.

GRAHAM: Let me read to you what the resolution was that most members of Congress on this podium voted for, Congressman Kucinich and I voted against. The president's resolution said, "The president is authorized to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate." My friends, those who voted for that gave the president a blank trust, a blank check. We cannot trust this president with a blank check.

GRAHAM: Ed, the president knew or should have known that there was no relationship between 9/11, there was no relationship between Osama been forgotten and Saddam Hussein.

MOSELEY BRAUN: This administration will not work with others, will not ask directions.

EDWARDS: These very liberties, this privacy, these constitutional rights -- that's what's at stake in this fight. And we cannot let people like John Ashcroft take them away in an effort to protect ourselves.

GEPHARDT: Well, first, I think we've got to ask a question and that is how many Americans have to lose their jobs before George Bush loses his?

DEAN: Well, if the percent of minorities that's in your state has anything to do with how you can connect with African American voters, then Trent Lott would be Martin Luther King.

LIEBERMAN: George Bush is the most fiscally irresponsible president in the history of the United States of America.

EDWARDS: Here's what we ought to do, we ought to go over to the White House and hang a big warning sign on the door of the White House that says, "This president is hazardous to your health."

MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, you know, a generation ago, the president of the United States told the American people that all we had to fear was fear itself. This administration, on the other hand, has pandered to fear and frightened the American people at every turn. And the PATRIOT Act is just part of that.

KERRY: Well, I'm glad the president finally found an economic development program. I'm just sad that it's only in Baghdad.

GEPHARDT: Like father, like son, four years and he's done. We're going to get rid of George Bush.

GRAHAM: For instance, there is an excellent governor of Michigan who would be an outstanding candidate for president of the United States. She is denied that opportunity because she happened to have been born in Canada.

SHARPTON: My favorite song is James Brown's song on the Republican Party, "Talking Loud, Saying Nothing."

KUCINICH: John Lennon, "Imagine," as in imagine a new America.

KUCINICH: I am going to vote no because I believe the best way to protect our troops is to bring them home.

SHARPTON: I'm also running because a lot is at stake. We are witnessing a nonmilitary civil war. It started with the recount in Florida, it went to the redistricting in Texas, now it's the recount in California. From the recounting of the votes to the redistricting to the recall, it's a rejection of the American people. We need to fight back. I'm a man of action. And unlike Schwarzenegger, I never had a stunt man do my hard work.

And all of this was on Fox News in Bill O'Reilly's time slot! I must be dreaming.

Gotta get their cheap shot in...
The NY Times lead editorial today starts out this way:

The world's attention should be focused on the World Trade Organization's meeting at Cancun this week for reasons having nothing to do with the anti-globalization protests. The protesters will be trying to be as colorful and disruptive as they were when the W.T.O. met in Seattle in 1999, but their role is marginal.

Surprisingly, the article then goes on to make one of the same arguments that the protesters will be making: that subsidies for agriculture in the US and Europe are destroying the ability of farmers in third-world countries to survive. And that's really what so-called "free trade" is all about--it's really "free exploitation" of the poor by the rich. And I think that the protesters in Seattle played a major, not marginal, role in raising the public consciousness about the issue to the point where the "newspaper of record" is willing to attack a criminal policy which has been pushed by both the Bush and the Clinton administrations. Why the Times feels it has to literally marginalize the Cancun protesters in the editorial is beyond my understanding.

Show them the meaning of American justice
Erick Williams wrote an excellent op-ed in the Lansing State Journal today. His conclusion:

As a result, innocent prisoners arrested for no good cause languished in prison because they were innocent.

No one knows how many Arabs and Muslims were rounded up. The Justice Department stopped counting after 1,200. The numbers are difficult to reconstruct because most prisoners were not released. They were deported.

Those innocent ex-prisoners are now in Pakistan, Egypt and other places, spreading the news about American justice.

Let the Protests Begin!
CNN reports that some 15,000 protesters are expected in Cancun this week as the Wicked Tyrants Organization meets there to discuss how to squeeze even more money out of the billions of poor people to benefit the rich. Please join in one or more protests in your area; I'll be outside Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn on Saturday. United for Peace & Justice has an extensive listing of planned protests.

The debate was excellent!
Most of the candidates had great one-liners attacking Bush. That the debate was shown on Fox News during O'Reilly's time slot was perfect. There was probably more anti-Republican rhetoric in that hour and a half than in the previous seven years of Fox News' existence. I'll try to find a transcript and highlight the zingers from the candidates tomorrow.

I see the debate doesn't get any notice on the NY Times main web page, but the Washington Post makes it the main headline. So does Fox News, which is almost as surprising as them carrying it in the first place. Their lengthy article seems likely to please most readers, giving us people on the right side of the issues (the left, that is) lots of good quotes to cheer, while giving the freepers something to jeer. It opens with:

The Democratic presidential candidates took President Bush to task Tuesday, chiding him for creating, among other things, a quagmire in Iraq, a police state at home, a disenfranchised Florida and a health care crisis in America.

The depiction of the president as the root of all evil began at the top of Tuesday night's debate, in which the candidates complained that Bush's rush to war in Iraq had distracted America from the real threat of terrorism.

CNN has a decent article.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Two excerpts from great articles:
Thanks to Tatiana for finding these! She needs to get her own blog!

President Bush seems to think the people speaking out against this disaster are only a minor nuisance who can safely be ignored. When he decided it was time for our children to start dying for foreign oil, the press said almost 80% of the American people supported the war. But only 33% of the American people vote. So why do we care about what the other 50% say?

The answer is that in this democracy what the voters want, and what the truth is, gets carefully manipulated by the corporate media, the pollsters and the politicians, who all share the same agenda. Your children have become "acceptable losses." Disagreeing with the current regime has become "unpatriotic."

And Jessica Lynch is a "war hero." When the media and the government are done exploiting her, making a movie full of lies and half-truths, she will be forgotten as quickly as the soldiers who died that day.

America is looking less and less like a democracy every day. When 66% of the American people don't bother to vote and American foreign policy is decided by the shameless hucksters of pseudo-patriotism we are truly in a desperate situation.

You see, we don't deserve a democracy; no one does. It has to be earned. Just like medals are supposed to be, in order to have any real value. So all you proud Americans with your bumper stickers and yellow ribbons who don't vote, all you armchair patriots who never fought in a war but want someone else's kid to be sent to Iraq to die, all you shallow consumers of red, white, and blue propaganda, you are the real enemy of democracy. And by looking no further than the six o'clock follies and the Presidents propaganda machine your ignorance is doing more to destroy America than Saddam Hussein ever did.
-- Richard J. Ducey

Bush's approval rating was hovering around 50 percent on the morning of September 11. Indeed, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have done so much for Bush's presidency one might reasonably suspect they're being held in a witness protection program. -- J. Hoberman, in an article about Showtime's propaganda film "DC 9/11."

The friendly skies
Most people will be coded green and sail through. But up to 8 percent of passengers who board the nation's 26,000 daily flights will be coded "yellow" and will undergo additional screening at the checkpoint, according to people familiar with the program. An estimated 1 to 2 percent will be labeled "red" and will be prohibited from boarding. These passengers also will face police questioning and may be arrested. -- Washington Post

So, on most flights at least one, and maybe as many as eight, passengers will not be allowed to board and may be arrested. Still sound like a free country to you? I think the terrorists have won.

Go Carl! Go Chuck!
"Sunday night, the president finally came forward with the amount that he will ask in a supplemental appropriation request for fiscal year 2004 for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan: $87 billion," Mr. Levin said.

Mr. Levin called that sum "a bitter pill for the American people to swallow," since some of the money may have to be subtracted from spending on domestic needs.

"And, Mr. Wolfowitz, you told Congress in March that, quote, `We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon,' close quote. Talk about rosy scenarios!"

The criticism by Mr. Levin and other Democrats was not surprising. But some Republicans were beginning to join in it today, with Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska complaining that the administration had done "a miserable job of planning the post-Saddam Iraq."

"They treated many in the Congress, most of the Congress, like a nuisance," Mr. Hagel said in an interview on the CBS "Early Show" this morning.

Unfortunately, I don't see anything suggesting that Bush won't get the $87 billion. And unlike the Times, I'm probably more surprised at Levin's comments than Hagel's. Hagel seems to be distancing himself from the administration, something I hope more Republicans will do, and soon. Maybe if things get worse, Hagel will challenge Bush for the Republican nomination. He's got the voting machines to win!

Bush speech gets Zunes'ed
President George W. Bush’s nationally-broadcast speech Sunday evening once again was designed to mislead Congress and the American public into supporting his administration’s policies in Iraq. Despite record deficits and draconian cutbacks in government support for health care, housing, education, the environment and public transportation, the president is asking the American taxpayer to spend an additional $87 billion to support his invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Read the whole article by Stephen Zunes.

I guess I'm a "limousine liberal"

I'm the 51,803,565 richest person on earth!

Discover how rich you are! >>

Okay, that web site is greatly simplified, going strictly by annual income. But it puts me in the top 1% worldwide. I guess I'll make some donations today... Sigh. A few years ago, this might have made me happy! Soooo conflicted.

$87 billion, and what do you get?
Another tax cut and a trillion in debt
Bush has made us bankrupt and he ain't done yet
He sold our land to Republican whores...

Do us all a favor...
Please call your senators and congressperson and tell them not to give W the $87 billion he's requesting. Tell them that if they think we owe it to the Iraqi people to "see it through," it certainly shouldn't be seen through by the same criminals who got us in there in the first place. I don't think there's any hope for a decent resolution of the Iraq situation as long as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Rice are in charge.

Impeach first, fund later. Otherwise, bring the troops home and hope for the best--the occupation offers only one hope to the Iraqi people: that it will end.

Capitol switchboard: 800-839-5276

From Jeff Stahler.

From Steve Benson.

From Jen Sorensen.


From Mike Thompson.

Ramsey Clark Answers Bush's speech:
Sunday night, September 7, President Bush told the American public and the world to expect more of the same from his administration. More crimes against peace and humanity, more deaths and destruction, more debts and poverty. He wants everyone to help.
That means more wars of aggression. More summary execution and assassinations. More arbitrary arrests, more illegal detentions and disappearances. Guantanamo is a symbol to the world of President Bush's contempt for human rights: torture, suicides, secret detention, military trials, an execution chamber waiting. Guantanamo should be returned to Cuba now -- a century late.

U.S. forces must be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan. These must be our last foreign military interventions. U.S. companies must be barred from profiting from contracts for "rebuilding Iraq" which the U.S. destroyed. Ten percent of the U.S. military budget at the 2003 level should be paid into a U.N. fund for the next decade to compensate Iraq and Afghanistan for U.S. crimes against them, to be used as they choose.

We are virtually guaranteed more of the same unless President Bush is impeached for his high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

To take back the Constitution and save our country Vote to Impeach now. This vote is an unmistakable message from the American people. The world and the present Administration will understand this message. It means we do not accept the crimes President Bush has committed in our name and will not permit their repetition.
-- Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

Clark has been calling for Bush's impeachment for many months now. Go to and join in!

Oops, she did it again
Honestly, I think we should just trust our President in every decision that he makes, and we should just support that. (war in Iraq) --Britney Spears

Now we know why Madonna kissed her--she was trying to keep Britney from saying something stupid. Didn't work. What a moron! I've lost all the respect I never had for that girl.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Hearts & Minds
I just watched the 1974 documentary Hearts & Minds. It is an amazing look at the Vietnam war and the people that it affected. It features war footage, interviews with soldiers and pilots, generals, Vietnamese villagers, and politicians. The best insights come from Daniel Ellsberg.

Director Peter Davis makes several telling points just by letting the film run on for a while. In one scene, a funeral of a South Vietnamese soldier is shown. His son holds a picture of him and wails pitifully, on and on. The soldier's mother tries to get in the grave with the coffin, but is pulled out. She cries. The son continues to cry. Soldiers shovel dirt on the coffin. The son kisses the picture, then wails some more. This goes on for minutes. When Davis finally leaves this scene, he goes to a clip of General William Westmoreland, who was commander of US forces in Vietnam for several years. Westmoreland is saying that Orientals don't see life the same way we do--that life is cheap, that they don't hold it dear.

Highly recommended, and extremely relevant to what's going on today. The statements from Westmoreland, Johnson, Nixon and others sound so similar to what we hear from Bush, Rumsfeld and Powell today.

While the war itself was awful, I think the so-called "Vietnam syndrome" which followed may have been one of the best things to ever happen to this country. Ronald Reagan and especially the two George Bushes deserve eternal condemnation for "overcoming" it. A humble America terrified of getting into another insane war was exactly the America that the world, and Americans, needed. May the "Iraq syndrome" last forever.

The war itself was the mistake--all the rest mere details:
From Jonathan Schell:

The practical problem of Iraq's future remains. The Iraqi state has been forcibly removed. That state was a horrible one; yet a nation needs a state. The children must go to school; the trains must run; the museums must open; murderers must be put in jail. But the United States, precisely because it is a single foreign state, which like all states has a highly self-interested agenda of its own, is incapable of providing Iraq with a government that serves its own people. The United States therefore must, to begin with, surrender control of the operation to an international force.

It will not suffice to provide "UN cover" for an American operation, as the administration now seems to propose. The United States should announce a staged withdrawal of its forces in favor of and in conjunction with whatever international forces can be cobbled together. It should also (but surely will not) provide that force with about a hundred billion or so dollars to do its work – a low estimate of what is needed to rebuild Iraq.

Biden says we must win the war. This is precisely wrong. The United States must learn to lose this war – a harder task, in many ways, than winning, for it requires admitting mistakes and relinquishing attractive fantasies. This is the true moral mission of our time (well, of the next few years, anyway).

Opportunity Cost
What the president did not mention in his speech is that the $87 billion more he seeks to fund his occupations abroad could pay for 1.4 million new teachers at home. It could help 11 million low-income families meet housing needs. It could provide health care coverage for 30 million children.

For Wisconsinites and residents of other states that are struggling to maintain state and local services in the face of economic doldrums, the $87 billion would balance every state budget.

Overseas, the United States should begin to address the conditions that create the frustration and resentments that lead to terrorism. The president's $87 billion could, according to UNICEF, meet the basic human needs of every impoverished person on Earth.
-- Madison Capital Times

What regime poses the greatest WMD threat to the US?
Clearly, the Bush administration:

It now appears that the only place in the world where labs similar to those described by Powell actually exist is here, in the United States. Worse, according to the New York Times, the scientist responsible for the design and construction of the U.S. mobile biological lab is under suspicion by the FBI of using this technology to produce the dry powder anthrax used in the October 2001 letter attack that killed seven Americans. This same scientist was allegedly behind similar "defensive" research that identified anthrax- impregnated letters as an ideal platform for delivering the deadly biological agent.

So, when it comes to the only major biological attack conducted against the United States, the available information points to the likelihood that the attack originated in the United States, using technology and techniques developed as part of a defensive biological weapons program that was a product of bad intelligence about Iraq's biological weapons program.
-- Scott Ritter

From Ted Rall.

Rummy: It's the critics fault!
We know for a fact that terrorists studied Somalia, and they studied instances that the United States was dealt a blow and tucked in, and persuaded themselves that they could in fact cause us to acquiesce in whatever it is they wanted to do.

The United States is not going to do that; President Bush is not going to do that.

To the extent that terrorists are given reason to believe he might, or, if he is not going to, that the opponents might prevail in some way, and they take heart in that, and that leads to more money going into these activities, or that leads to more recruits, or that leads to more encouragement, or that leads to more staying power, obviously that does make our task more difficult.
-- Donald Rumsfeld, quoted in the NY Times.

This argument was used during Vietnam; it was used by Ashcroft in December 2001. It sucked then, it sucks now. Against all reason, logic and evidence, Bush, Rummy and the gang have gotten themselves into an impossible situation. Now they want to blame us for noticing. Does he really think we'd be better off if we'd had 50,000 troops in Somalia for the past ten years? If you want peace and security (which I'm pretty sure are two things the Bushies have no interest in), leave the rest of the world alone. Pay the market price for oil, whatever it turns out to be. If that means we have to restructure our economy and landscape in response to expensive oil, so much the better.

Great Minds
Last week, I quoted Paul Wolfowitz: "To those who think the battle in Iraq is a distraction from the global war against terrorism . . . tell that to our troops." I suggested that his logic would lead to a never-ending war which would eventually be fought on the streets of this country:

"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..."

Billmon suggests that a statement in W's Big Lie last night leads to the same thing:


2002: "We are fighting that enemy in Afghanistan so that we do not meet him again on our streets, in our own cities."

2003: "We are fighting that enemy in Afghanistan and Iraq so that we do not meet him again on our streets, in our own cities."

2004: "We are fighting that enemy in Afghanistan and Iraq and Saudi Arabia so that we do not meet him again on our streets, in our own cities."

2005: "We are fighting that enemy in Afghanistan and Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Syria and Lebanon and Yemen and Algeria and the West Bank, so that we do not meet him again on our streets, in our own cities."

2006: "We are fighting that enemy in the streets of America, in our own cities."

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Still Lying
Is it possible that George W. Bush still believes the crap he says?

We have exposed terrorist front groups, seized terrorist accounts, taken new measures to protect our homeland and uncovered sleeper cells inside the United States.

And we acted in Iraq, where the former regime sponsored terror, possessed and used weapons of mass destruction, and for 12 years defied the clear demands of the United Nations Security Council.

Our coalition enforced these international demands in one of the swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history.
-- Some of the many lies and half truths from his propaganda tonight.

It ain't over, George. It wasn't swift or humane. The sponsoring terror and possessing and using WMD's all occurred more than 12 years ago, like when you're daddy was supporting Saddam. You, like your daddy, are a miserable liar, George. Do the world a favor and resign--now!

Bush approval rating at 45%...
in latest Zogby poll.

One-sided Roundtable
I don't usually watch the Sunday talk shows, preferring just to read Liberal Oasis' rundown of the lowlights. But I did watch quite a bit of ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" today. I saw Colin Powell putting a shine on the excrement that is the Bush Iraq "strategy," and Ted Kennedy giving a tepid response. They then went to a "roundtable" with George Will, Michel Martin of ABC and Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal. They provided a lively debate trying to outdo each other as to why Powell was right and Kennedy was wrong. And, from what I've gathered, this is the most reasonable of the talk shows.

I think, if an honest history is ever written, that Colin Powell will go down as one of the most evil men in history. Bush doesn't know any better--he's an idiot. Cheney and Rumsfeld were born evil--they've never really had a choice. But Powell is an intelligent, articulate man from humble origins. He had a clear choice between serving wealth and death or serving humanity and life, and chose the former. You don't get much more despicable than that.

The Occupation Gets Fisked

How arrogant was the path to war. As President Bush now desperately tries to cajole the old UN donkey to rescue him from Iraq – he who warned us that the UN was in danger of turning into a League of Nations "talking shop" if it declined him legitimacy for his invasion – we are supposed to believe that no one in Washington could have guessed the future. -- Robert Fisk.

The "War on Terrorism" is Bogus
Is the conclusion reached by former British member of parliament Michael Meacher:

The conclusion of all this analysis must surely be that the "global war on terrorism" has the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way for a wholly different agenda - the US goal of world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies required to drive the whole project. Is collusion in this myth and junior participation in this project really a proper aspiration for British foreign policy? If there was ever need to justify a more objective British stance, driven by our own independent goals, this whole depressing saga surely provides all the evidence needed for a radical change of course.

That's his conclusion; the rest of the article describes the PNAC and the rest of the neoconjob which has led to two bloody and pointless wars--so far.