Bob's Links and Rants

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Friday, October 31, 2003

A couple of days ago CNN had an interview with a defector from North Korea who suggested that Kim Jong Il is a far greater threat to the US than Osama or Saddam ever were. The sign above is a reminder as to why the Bushies pay so much less attention to North Korea.
Powell's Credibility Moves Deep Into Negative Territory
Money "was misused to buy weapons," Powell charged. "It was misused to enrich the elite of the regime. It was not used to restore the infrastructure." -- CNN.

Of course he's talking about Saddam Hussein, who bought weapons that no one can find, but it applies to an even greater degree to his own boss, aWol himself. And Mr. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Gulf War I knows intimately how that infrastructure was destroyed, and that the sanctions imposed made it difficult for Iraq to buy what was needed to repair it, even if they could have afforded it.

More than ever, the general lie-detection test applies across the board to everyone in the Bush administration: If their lips are moving, they're lying.
Good call, dimwits
The Bush administration took six months to evaluate Gov. Gray Davis' emergency request last spring for $430 million to clear dead trees from fire-prone areas of Southern California.

The request was finally denied Oct. 24, only hours before wildfires roared out of control in what has become the largest fire disaster in California history.
-- LA Times
My fifteen minutes!
I e-mailed the schoolgirl vigilante story (immediately below) to Philly-resident Atrios, and he posted it with a link back to here. Atrios pretty much agrees with me, while His commenters seem to be about evenly divided on the issue.

[Update] Other articles on this story. I haven't seen any that discuss whether the police had been notified before, which would to me affect the validity of the girls' actions. If the cops hadn't done their jobs, go get 'em, girls! If they hadn't been given a chance, different story.

The Philly Inquirer article quotes somebody saying the guy tried to pull a knife. Didn't seem to bother the father of one of the girls:

Thomas Simone, Kelly's father, said he was proud of his daughter and her classmates.

"They beat the crap out of him," he said, laughing.

"I'm glad they did it for themselves and that they didn't let this guy go," Thomas Simone said.

"You know what's funny? They got their own revenge. The girls got him without the police."

City of Brotherly Love
A man described by authorities as a known sexual predator was chased through the streets of South Philadelphia by an angry crowd of Catholic high school girls, who kicked and punched him after he was tackled by neighbors, police said Friday.

Rudy Susanto, 25, who had exposed himself to teen-age girls on as many as seven occasions outside St. Maria Goretti School, struck again on Thursday just as students were being dismissed, police said.

But this time, a group of girls in school uniforms angrily confronted Susanto with help from some neighbors, police said.

When Susanto tried to run, more than 20 girls chased him down the block. Two men from the neighborhood caught him and the girls took their revenge.

"The girls came and started kicking him and punching him, so I wasn't going to stop them," neighbor Robert Lemons told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Susanto was later treated for injuries at a local hospital. Police said he would be charged with 14 criminal counts including harassment, disorderly conduct, open lewdness and corrupting the morals of a minor.
-- CNN

I'm a member of the ACLU, so I'm familiar with taking the unpopular side of some issues. I don't condone lewdness. But imagine a 25-year-old woman showing her breasts to a bunch of teenage boys. Black teenage boys. White woman. They chase her down the street, where neighbors tackle her so the boys can beat her up. Who gets arrested? (The article doesn't mention the race of any of those involved.)

Of course, NOT ONE of those 20 girls could POSSIBLY have had a cell phone (you never see teenage girls with cell phones, do you?) to call the cops and have Susanto arrested properly. No. In America, you chase the guy down the street and beat him up, with the help of some thoughtful neighbors. In America, non-violent sex offenses are worse than gang beatings. And consensual sex with interns is impeachable, but starting two wars on no evidence is not.
Nuggets of Insight from Juan Cole
So far the CPA plan for Iraq appears to be to just let businessmen and wealthy landlords run wild, with all the risks of repeating the disastrous errors made in post-Soviet Russia.
I'd say that one could forgive the Iraqis if they conclude that the American system in Iraq is a form of state socialism, with Bremer playing the Politburo, giving orders and exercising a veto even though no one elected him to office, and Halliburton and Bechtel playing state-supported industries. Perhaps it looks more like Cuba so far than like capitalist democracy.
(more here)

I was glad finally to see some experts in international law raise questions about the American shock therapy plan for Iraq, which involves selling off state owned enterprises and allowing foreign firms to buy 100% of them and then immediately to export the profits out the country. It also deregulates all finance and banking. The Financial Times says questions were raised at a recent conference in London about whether for the Occupying authorities to take this step was legal under the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention (I have argued that it is not). (more here)

Compare and Contrast
Compare and contrast Israeli army officers' questioning of Sharon's brutal occupation methods with the ongoing infighting in Washington--between the CIA and the White House, or Rummy and the generals.

Never mind, you don't have to. Billmon already has.
Might as well give him a target shirt...
The Pentagon won't allow media coverage of the flag-draped coffins of US soldiers when they arrive in Dover, Delaware, but they'll allow AP to take pictures like this, which then get published in the NY Times and posted online:

The caption reads: An Iraqi pointed out his home in Uja today to U.S. troops who sealed off the village where Saddam Hussein was born.

If the guy is smart, he'll never go anywhere near his home again. (Of course, if he were smart, he would have insisted on no pictures.) Collaborators are usually about as popular as that Cubs fan was a few weeks ago, and now the "enemy" knows what he looks like and pretty much where he lives (he's pointing to it!). I mean, you hear that crap from Bush about protecting future presidents by concealing what he knew prior to 9/11, and this is how they treat Iraqis who are trying to help them.
I don't know enough about economics to say much about the supposedly huge growth in GDP in the third quarter. But Paul Krugman does:

To put it more bluntly: it would be quite a trick to run the biggest budget deficit in the history of the planet, and still end a presidential term with fewer jobs than when you started. And despite yesterday's good news, that's a trick President Bush still seems likely to pull off.
The Good Rush
Congressman Rush Holt has introduced The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003 which would require a verifiable paper trail be produced by all voting machines. You can add your endorsement here. As usual, Lisa at Ruminate This provides plenty of inspiration to do something!
Senate rejects greenhouse gas cap
John McCain's a good guy on this one:

Sens. John McCain, a Republican, and Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat, introduced legislation which would limit carbon dioxide emitted by coal-fired electric plants, factories, and vehicles. Many scientists say such gases prevent heat from escaping the Earth's atmosphere: the "greenhouse" effect.

Despite the rejection, wringing a vote on the bill was a victory of sorts for its sponsors, given the strong Republican opposition. It was Congress' first vote on a global warming measure.
McCain said the evidence of rising Earth temperatures is irrefutable, displaying NASA photographs shot from outer space that show a melting Arctic ice cap.

"You can believe me or you can believe your lying eyes," McCain said. "These are facts."

Arsonist Burns Peace Activists' Home
Nickels says the final sign they had on their porch read:

"8,109 Iraqi civilians.
6,000-plus U.S. wounded.
345 U.S. and British soldiers."

At 4:50 a.m. on October 20, Hunter and Nickels were asleep. So were their three children, ages 7, 8, and 11. And so was Adama Sow, a 30-year-old refugee from Mauritania, who was living upstairs.

"Our smoke alarm went off, and my husband I got out of bed and saw smoke and got the kids out and our roommate out," Hunter says. "It was immediately clear to me that the sign had burned because the only fire you could see was on the right front of the house where the sign used to be."

The fire department, from the very beginning, investigated it as a case of arson. "The sign had somewhat of a political message on it," Harrisonburg Fire Chief Larry Shifflett told the Daily News-Record. "It appears somebody may have set that sign on fire."

Link from Michelle.
It's everybody else's fault, as always

"I'm clueless, but I'll keep talking anyway."

It is now undeniable that the terrorists declared war on America and on the civilized world many years before Sept. 11, 2001. The attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, the hijacking of the Achille Lauro in 1985, the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988, the World Trade Center in 1993, the attacks on American installations in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000: These and other atrocities were part of a sustained, systematic campaign to spread devastation and chaos. Yet until Sept. 11, the terrorists faced no sustained, systematic and global response. -- Condiloser Rice

NY Times reporter David Sanger correctly notes: Ms. Rice's comments make no reference to what the Bush administration itself did between Mr. Bush's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2001, and the Sept. 11 attacks.

Sanger does a good job of refuting pretty much everything that Condi had to say last night. He points out that while it is customary for Bushies to blame Clinton for the terrorism problem (very unjustifiably--see Conason and Franken, for example), it is unusual for them to also blame Reagan and Bush I. I think they're getting desperate.

I would add that the cases she cited indicate that she's unclear on the concept of terrorism. Of course we all are, since no one in the administration wants to define it clearly. They don't really want people to use Encarta's definition of terrorism: violence or the threat of violence, especially bombing, kidnapping, and assassination, carried out for political purposes. By this definition, the Bushies have been engaged in terrorism towards Iraq ever since Bush first mentioned the possibility of forcible regime change last year (threat of violence, especially bombing...for political purposes). Usually, although I didn't find it mentioned in three online dictionaries, terrorism is thought to be about attacks on civilians. When a Palestinian suicide bomber destroys an Israeli bus filled with civilians in Haifa, that's terrorism. But when an American non-suicide bomber destroys a Syrian bus filled with civilians in Iraq, that's not terrorism. The civilian part of terrorism also eliminates many of the examples Condi cites: The Marine barracks, the attacks in Saudi Arabia, and the attack on the Cole, as well as the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. It's also baffling that she failed to mention the 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which both fall pretty clearly under anyone's definition of terrorism, and which had pretty solid links to Osama and al Qaeda.

Condi also shows either an incredible lack of knowledge about history, or else is trusting that the American public is stupid enough to believe whatever she says. The real disconnect is here: The attacks in the '80's occurred WHILE the Reagan/Bush administrations were backing both Osama bin Laden (fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan) and Saddam Hussein (fighting the Iranians). She's saying that Reagan, Bush I, Powell, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and everybody else involved in those corrupt administrations was actively supporting people who had already declared war on America. That is, she's saying they're all traitors.

It wasn't until the first Gulf War that either Osama or Saddam had any interest in attacking America (and there's still no evidence that Saddam ever attacked America--before 1990 he had no reason, after 1990 he had no means); the previous attacks were the work of different organizations for different reasons. I just think Rice is either incredibly stupid or incredibly deceitful (maybe both?), and our national security could hardly be in worse hands.

I pity da fool that answers Huey and Caesar's personal ad.
Okay, this is scary...
The Memory Hole is a web site which tracks changing stories, particularly on web sites. When the White House changes a past story to match current spin, the Memory Hole, named for the place where 1984 character Winston Smith tossed no-longer-operative stories, is there to track the changes for us.

Well, for the second day in a row, I can't get to the Memory Hole on the web. Can you?

From Don Wright.
The Washington Post didn't run the first week of Boondocks cartoons (Oct. 13-18) which dealt with the boys' attempts to find Condi a man, but they've run this week's series on the same subject.

From Tom Toles.
Worst of Both Worlds
The world is safer today because Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are gone. -- Bush in Tuesday's press conference.

I have to infer you'd be happier if Saddam Hussein was still in power. -- Paul Wolfowitz, responding to hecklers at Georgetown University on Thursday

Saddam Hussein may be playing a significant role in coordinating and directing attacks by his loyalists against American forces in Iraq, senior American officials said Thursday. -- NY Times, today.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, UN
All bugging out. One item from the article that grabbed my attention:

One leaflet on the streets, purporting to be from Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, called for a general strike Saturday through Monday "to prove to our enemy that we are united people."

I watched the 1967 movie "Battle of Algiers" last night, about Algeria's fight for independence from French colonial rule which took place in the late 1950's and early '60's. At one point, as the UN was deliberating intervening in the Algerian situation, the resistance staged an eight-day general strike to demonstrate their size, unity and resolve to the world.
Why is this legal?
President Bush, who put Campaign 2004 fund-raising on hold for travel to Asia and Australia, crisscrossed the country Thursday to build up a re-election bank account already worth more than $84 million.

Bush traveled to Columbus, Ohio, for a fund-raiser that brought in $1.4 million. It was Bush's 13th presidential visit to Ohio, a a critical battleground for 2004 that Bush wants to win again.

Then he was racing back to Texas for a second fund-raiser in San Antonio. Bush also dispatched the first lady to Tyler, Texas, for another campaign fund-raiser that collected $275,000; Vice President Dick Cheney headlined a fund-raiser in Washington on Wednesday night that brought in $475,000.

These money events opened a new phase of heavy fund raising for Bush's re-election. Bush plans another money event in Birmingham, Ala., next Monday.
-- AP

This is just flat-out bribery, and it pays off immensely for the bribers. These new fundraisers should bring aWol's total to about $87 million, or 1/10 of 1 percent of the $87 billion he's giving to Halliburton and Bechtel that's going to get hundreds of more soldiers killed. You'd think with returns like that that Halliburton could at least afford to pay some taxes.
Jobless Claims Drop to Same Level as Last Week
How things can get better every week without ever getting any better.

(Lego Escher from A. Lipson: Check it out full size, and how it was made!)
Person with Gun in House Office Building
Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee, said that at about 1:20 p.m. EST an individual went through the metal detector and put a bag that looked like a bookbag on the conveyor belt at the security checkpoint.

Ney said police saw an object that looked like a revolver in the bag, but before they could stop the suspect grabbed the bag and ran.
Initially, Capitol police advised people to stay in their offices. A few minutes later, the building was evacuated. Staffers and congressmen poured out of the building, and dozens lingered on the building’s steps.
NY Daily News

One Republican Congressman to another: "Hey, there's a guy with a gun inside the building! Let's linger on the steps!"

Other Republican Congressman: "Sounds like a good idea to me! Of course, I voted for the Patriot Act, both wars, all those tax cuts, AND the $87 billion because they sounded like good ideas, too. Y'know, if we back up a little, we might be able to see the gunman through the windows!"

(I'm picturing the legendary Zach Wamp of Tennessee as one of these congressmen.)
Ted Rall on the Repugs holding their 2004 convention in New York

At the risk of coming off like those who warned that President Clinton risked his life every time he appeared before audiences of well-armed soldiers on Southern military bases, let me say, as a New Yorker: this is a very bad idea.

"Next year in New York" is already the rallying cry of more than 150 groups planning to protest Bush's coronation. United for Peace and Justice, which organized some of the biggest demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq, has applied for a 250,000-person permit to march past Madison Square Garden, where the convention is being held, on the event's first full day.
Riots would make everyone look bad--New York, the GOP and the demonstrators. The resulting property damage could exceed the cost that would be involved in moving the convention to another city--a price that the well-funded Bush campaign can easily afford. The Bushies would be better off today if they had taken my advice on Afghanistan, Iraq, and the economy. They've haven't listened yet--but that's no reason not to start now.

I have something to say to that: "Start spreading the news, I'm leaving today, I want to be a part of it, New York, New York!"
Are we safe yet?
"No." -- Ted Rall. I check his cartoons daily, but I often forget to check his columns. I didn't say anything about the student who smuggled boxcutters and other assorted pseudo-weaponry onto airliners before, because, well, I didn't have much to say. But Rall does:

Should Osama wish to choreograph a sequel to his fall 2001 blockbuster, all he needs is a new cast to replace the original 19.
Trading civil liberties for increased security would be a bad deal, but we've given away our freedoms for nothing. "The bottom line is, America is safer, more secure, and better prepared than we were on Sept. 11, 2001," says White House flack Scott McClellan, but nothing could be further from the truth. The man we blame for 9/11, Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), is still loose; Bush's "dead or alive" pledge has devolved to, as of Oct. 21, "We believe [Pakistani President Musharraf] will help us, if in fact [bin Laden] happens to be in Pakistan...Who knows where he is?" The U.S. invasions of Afghanistan (news - web sites) and Iraq (news - web sites), coupled with Bush's support for Ariel Sharon (news - web sites)'s aggressive attacks on Palestine, have increased the supply of anti-American militants willing to die as long as they take a bunch of us with them. The only reason we haven't suffered the next big attack is because They Who Hate Us are still planning it.

Rall says the kid should be given a medal instead of ten years. I think he's right.
Of course Alabama didn't need to raise taxes...
Look at all the books they've got in their school libraries!

Via War Liberal.

I lived in Montgomery for seven years. The public library there seemed to have only books that had been donated. In about 1990, I typed a paper for a junior-high student because she didn't have access to a typewriter or computer. Her paper about Robert Frost concluded by saying that Frost was currently living in Maine or Vermont or somewhere. I told her "I'm pretty sure that Frost is dead." I looked it up (a bit more work in those pre-web days) and found out that Frost had died in 1961. The encyclopedia she was using from her school was published in 1958.
Here's a shocker
Companies that have gotten big contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan were big contributors to aWol's campaign. Hard to believe, I know.
I just don't get the guy or his appeal. How can he say something like this?

"It's possible that I am the only Democrat who can get elected," he said. "And let me tell you why: Every other Democrat in this race believes that the way to beat George Bush is to be like George Bush. I believe the way to beat George Bush is to bring a lot of new people into this process." -- NY Times

You'd be right, Howie, if Joe Lieberman was the only other candidate in the race. And even he has a much better record on the environment, and other issues, than aWol. But to suggest that Kucinich or any of the other candidates is trying to be like Bush is not only completely wrong, it is highly insulting. Certainly Carol Moseley Braun wasn't trying to be like Bush when she said in the debate:

It is time for another direction. I'm the clearest alternative to George Bush. I don't look like him, I don't talk like him, I don't act like him, I don't think like him. And I can put this country on the right track as president of the United States.

So jeez, Howie, by saying ridiculous stuff without any basis in fact, aren't you being just like George Bush?

Thanks to Jason for the link!
Enroll in Rummy's Writing Course!

From Boondocks.
Privatizing the War
We already knew that Halliburton and others have been given big contracts to do things in Iraq that in the past were done by soldiers, like logistics and supply. According to this article, private contractors are involved in many aspects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--including combat:

In Iraq, private contractors do just about everything a soldier would do. They sling Spam in mess tents. They tote guns along base perimeters. They shoot. They get shot. Sometimes they get killed. And it's not just in Iraq, but around the world - in conflict zones from Liberia to Kosovo to Afghanistan - that the United States is putting hired help behind the front lines to ease the burden of its overworked armed forces.

By paying civilians to handle military tasks, the Bush administration is freeing up U.S. troops to fight. But the use of contractors also hides the true costs of war.

Their dead aren't added to official body counts. Their duties - and profits - are hidden by close-mouthed executives who won't give details to Congress. And as their coffers and roles swell, companies are funneling earnings into political campaigns and gaining influence over military policy - even getting paid to recommend themselves for lucrative contracts.

I found this part incredible:

The machine-gun toting guards who shadow Afghan President Hamid Karzai and L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, are private-sector workers, as are those who built and operate the cavernous white mess tent on the base of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad.

There, a $3 million contract with Kellogg, Brown & Root [division of Halliburton] paid for the tent's construction and the Bangladeshi and Indian cooks who feed 4,000 troops daily. One soldier breakfasting inside the tent, a nine-year veteran, said she's been sent to patrol Baghdad since contractors took her job as a cook.

So Cheney's company gets these huge contracts to "rebuild Iraq," but it imports the cheapest labor on earth from India and Bangladesh to a country with 60% unemployment so that a trained and experienced Army cook can get herself blown up doing police work, for which she isn't trained, in the most dangerous city in the world.

Why in the friggin' world would you be importing cheap labor into Iraq? (Oh right; profits.)

Bush and Cheney are completely and utterly contemptible.
Water Bomber
According to an e-mail I got from the Sacred Earth Society, Russia has huge fire-fighting planes that could be a great help in dousing the Southern California fires. Apparently, all that's needed is for aWol to ask Pooty Poot.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Yes on B!
I don't think I have all that many Ann Arbor readers, but if you're here, don't forget to vote next Tuesday for the Greenbelt/Parks proposal! Or take the next step and volunteer to help with the campaign:

Phone: 734.213.2174

Find out more about Prop B here.

Kucinich: Mr. President, You Are Flat Wrong
The assertion by the President that daily attacks on US troops and innocent Iraqi civilians is 'progress' is ridiculous and just as false and misleading as his prewar statements about the threat posed to the United States by Iraq.

Mr. President, 353 dead American troops is not progress. Thousands of American soldiers injured is not progress. And, the daily attacks on U.S. troops and innocent Iraqi civilians is not progress.

Today, at his press conference, the President had a chance to clarify his earlier remarks. Instead of taking advantage of the opportunity, the President did nothing more than continue his Administration's spin.
-- From
Republitron Thought Processes
Shorter Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN, and yes, that's really his name): "Screw the American people, but only after guaranteeing that you've screwed the French, Germans and Russians first, and only if the president tells you to."

Rep. Wamp had proposed a loan amendment to the $87 billion Halliburton sweepstakes. Here's an excerpt from the longer version:

My justifications for the amendment included improving accountability for the money being spent, securing the American taxpayer's investment, strengthening the President's hand in negotiations with other counties and above all ensuring that countries such as France, Germany and Russia are not paid back on their loans to Saddam Hussein if the U.S. taxpayers are not paid back first.

By late afternoon, I was sitting in the Roosevelt Room in the White House presenting these priorities to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolton and President George W. Bush.

The President and I agree the money is necessary to "win the peace" and to "win the war." We both desire a debt free Iraq and passionately agree that we cannot afford to fail and must finish what we have started. Our single disagreement was on HOW we would appropriate the money. He clearly told me that all of the money needed to be a grant and that if any of the appropriation was in the form of a loan it would be problematic to our efforts to build global support.

After everyone made their presentations at the White House, I asked the President directly, "Do you believe in your heart that if my amendment was adopted it would jeopardize our chances for success in Iraq?" He looked me square in the eye and said, "I am afraid that I do!"

After I left the White House I called my wife Kim and repeated the entire story to her and asked for her usual wise counsel. We agreed that since the President has been in negotiations with the G-7 nations and in constant communication with the Arab countries as well, I should give him and his Administration the benefit of the doubt and defer to his judgment on this critical decision.

So when the $87 billion package came before the Appropriations Committee on Thursday, I offered my amendment, made my best presentation, asked the tough questions and then respectfully withdrew the amendment from consideration for two reasons:

First, I did not have the votes to pass it and secondly, because the President of the United States looked me in the eye and advised me that it was NOT in our best national interest to press for a vote.
Compare and Contrast
Last winter, a Republican senator lost his leadership post for making the following remark:
"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

This week, a Republican senator suggested this approach to dealing with Bush's "success" in Iraq:
“Honestly, it’s a little tougher than I thought it was going to be. If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You’re dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out.”

Don't you think he deserves at least equal punishment for a remark that suggests that the way to liberate Iraqis is to kill them? Well, he can't be removed from his senate leadership post for it, because he doesn't have it anymore. In fact, the remark was made by the same Dippy from Mississippi, Trent Lott.

I tell you, folks, we're dealing with insane Republicans who are getting our people killed, and we need to be very aggressive in voting them out.

From Tony Auth.
Tempered Sympathy
Polizeros points out that the destruction of many of the homes in California by the raging fires was entirely predictable.

In "Ecology of Fear", [author Mike] Davis details how people, usually well off financially, build homes in dangerous fire-prone areas, then get low interest loans to rebuild when the homes burn. He rightfully says this is a tax subsidy for the wealthy paid by the rest of us. There are other costs too, like maintaining expensive fire departments, roads, sewage, electricity, etc. in canyon areas.

Most controversial, and the article touched on this when it mentioned controlled burns, is the insistence of homeowners that property be protected first, even at the expense of fighting the fire. Thus, fire crews sometimes are forced to leave an area where they have a chance of stopping the fire to, say, go to an evacuated housing development to protect houses. This is backwards, as it puts protecting individual property above that of protecting the general populace.

If a house in a canyon burns, it is lunacy to give low cost loans to rebuild in the same spot, yet this happens all the time.

These letters to the LA Times echo the point. Having lived in LA for a year, I have to add that the whole place is extremely over-developed, not just the hills and canyons. Without the massive dams, aqueducts and reservoirs which supply the city with water and were built at enormous expense, much of it federal, the LA area probably couldn't support 1% of its current population. It's a desert, mostly unsuitable for human habitation. Cities like LA, Phoenix and Las Vegas are monuments to American arrogance, greed, and stupidity, and have done enormous damage to ecosystems at enormous costs to taxpayers.

Sorry to hit you when you're down, guys, but don't you dare go rebuilding in the same spots! And those of you living on the hills that are going to wash away in the rains next February, maybe you ought to move out, too.

Two more killed, one more wounded
Just another day in Iraq.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Stupid is as stupid does
The Bushies begged Turkey to send troops to help out in Iraq without consulting their own puppet government there. Turkey's parliament voted to send the troops, risking the ire of the vast majority of the voting public, only to have the US un-request the troops due to objections from the governing council. From Yahoo News:

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul charged that the United States had been inept in handling a request for Turkish troops to be sent to neighbouring Iraq to help its forces there, Anatolia news agency reported.

"Of course, there is ineptitude here. First they came, very enthusiastic, and said 'please do not be late' and then they saw that there are many different issues. They have many hesitations themselves," Gul was quoted as telling reporters.

Faced with mounting casualties in postwar Iraq, Washington asked Ankara for military help, but then appeared to back-pedal on the idea in the face of unabating opposition from Iraq's interim leadership.

The Ankara government, in the meantime, won parliamentary approval for its plans to dispatch troops, braving the ire of public opinion which is overwhelmingly opposed to extending military help to the United States in Iraq.

Two CIA agents dead in Afghanistan,
and another soldier killed in Iraq.

Military officials in Baghdad said Tuesday that one U.S. soldier was killed and six others were wounded Monday in a rocket-propelled grenade attack, Reuters reported. The soldiers were from the Army's 1st Armored Division and had been destroying makeshift bombs when they came under attack, according to a military spokesman. Earlier, military officials announced that four other U.S. soldiers were injured in attacks near the northern city of Mosul.
Cheney. Berlusconi. Niger. Italy. Yellowcake. Forgery.
Josh Marshall is connecting the dots.
Best Bushism Yet
The vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice. -- from Slate.
Press Conference
AWol actually "answered" some questions today. I'm reading through the transcript, and I'll note my observations as I, well, observe them.

  • I noted below that although the extent of "foreign terrorist" involvement in the bombings in Iraq seems pretty much unknown to the Bushies, pretty much speculation, they don't hesitate to blame Syria and Iran for this, but not Iraq's other neighbors: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and Jordan. Of course, the so-called liberal media plays write RIGHT [Aargh! I catch my spelling error two days later!] into this:

    Q Mr. President, if there are foreign terrorists involved, why aren't Syria and Iran being held accountable?


  • At least one member of the press asked a pertinent question. And aWol immediately resorted to Dubyatalk:

    Q Mr. President, thank you. As you know, the Chairman of the commission investigating the September 11th attacks wants documents from the White House, and said this week that he might have to use subpoena power. You have said there's some national security concerns about turning over some of those documents to people outside of the Executive Branch. Will you turn them over, or can you at least outline for the American people what you think is a reasonable compromise so that the commission learns what it needs to know, and you protect national security, if you think it's that important?

    THE PRESIDENT: Yes. It is important for me to protect national security. You're talking about the presidential daily brief. It's important for the writers of the presidential daily brief to feel comfortable that the documents will never be politicized and/or unnecessarily exposed for public purview. I -- and so, therefore, the kind of the first statements out of this administration were very protective of the presidential prerogatives of the past and to protect the right for other presidents, future presidents, to have a good presidential daily brief.

    Now, having said that, I am -- we want to work with Chairman Kean and Vice-Chairman Hamilton. And I believe we can reach a proper accord to protect the integrity of the daily brief process and, at the same time, allow them a chance to take a look and see what was in the -- certain -- the daily briefs that they would like to see.

    While I'm encouraged that King George admits that there will be future presidents, he's using the same BS that Nixon used. The only president he is protecting by refusing to release these documents is himself.

  • Q Mr. President, if I may take you back to May 1st when you stood on the USS Lincoln under a huge banner that said, "Mission Accomplished." At that time you declared major combat operations were over, but since that time there have been over 1,000 wounded, many of them amputees who are recovering at Walter Reed, 217 killed in action since that date. Will you acknowledge now that you were premature in making those remarks?

    THE PRESIDENT: Nora, I think you ought to look at my speech. I said, Iraq is a dangerous place and we've still got hard work to do, there's still more to be done. And we had just come off a very successful military operation. I was there to thank the troops.

    The "Mission Accomplished" sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished.

    Okay, I looked it up. And whille he said "we still have difficult work to do," he also pretty directly said that the mission was accomplished:
    In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world. Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment -- yet, it is you, the members of the United States military, who achieved it. Your courage, your willingness to face danger for your country and for each other, made this day possible. Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.

  • Probably the nicest thing anybody ever said about Condi: "She's an unsticker." (aWol)

The rest is just a repetition of the same old lies. Worst president ever.
Under Fire Instead of Putting Out Fires
Firefighting equipment and personnel were stretched thin, and some homeowners were angered to watch their homes burn without a firefighter in sight. -- LA Times

I wonder how many Southern California firefighters are now getting shot at as part of the reserves in Iraq instead of fighting these fires?

Meanwhile, fire department staffing shortages have been exacerbated by the war in Iraq. The IAFF [International Association of Fire Fighters] estimates 26,000 of its members are in the military reserves. Many have been called up and many more are likely to get the call soon. -- from an article in the Washington State Labor Council Online in April. (Best answer I could find with a quick Google search.)

Note: In my googling, I found this link to Senator Bob Graham's web site for his since aborted presidential campaign:

As I'm anxiously watching as Hurricane Isabel batters eastern North Carolina and Virginia, I am increasingly concerned that the numbers of National Guard and first responders such as fire, EMT's and police officers will be greatly reduced in the aftermath of this devastation.

Many National Guard troops have been ordered to Iraq by the Bush administration. The Homeland Security budget is woefully and deliberately underfunded by the Bush administration, leaving shrinking support for these critical emergency responders in a crisis. The state's budget, like many others, is in jeopardy as it tries to do more and more with less and less.

This is deeply angering to many, many people in North Carolina and Virginia right now, who are at risk of losing their homes and their lives in this hurricane. Right now, they are trying to survive without bodily injury, but when the storm passes, they will emerge to devastation of homes, businesses and infrastructure.

They will wonder why help is slow in coming to them to prevent crime, to restore electricity and water and to clear the streets. Many will need emergency medical attention during and after the storm.

But George W. Bush sent away many National Guard troops. He cut the budget for first responders. It is disturbingly evident where his priorities lie. It's not for ordinary Americans.

Mr. Bush hurried off early to Camp David to outrun Isabel.

Mr. Bush will not escape the wrath of The People.

I hope Graham becomes somebody's running mate. I like him, and he'd help the Democrats win in Florida.
Par for the course
Ruminate This presents the Air Force chronology of the last flight of golfer Payne Stewart in 1999, and compares it to the almost total lack of information about the Air Force's response to the last flights of four airliners on 9/11.

Less than an hour after take-off, the plane lost contact with aircraft controllers. That's when two military jets were ordered to intercept the flight, pursuing it on a bizarre course that was televised nationally. Those jets and a series of others followed Stewart's plane until it ultimately nose-dived into South Dakota swampland. Payne Stewart and his entourage were killed in that crash. It was a big story and a sad day for the world of golf.

Compare and contrast:

On September 11, 2001, four commercial jets took flight and soon thereafter, air traffic controllers lost contact with each plane. Today, more than two years later, Americans have yet to learn the FAA's chronology of those flights. We have yet to discover why Air Force jets were not ordered to intercept these planes, even as tower after tower of innocents fell.

Ruminate This has another post just added which encourages us to call Congress and ask them to apply pressure to the White House, the FAA, and other executive branch agencies which are stonewalling the 9/11 investigation:

The deal is this: we need cooperation, and we need to fix whatever was broken on that day. Someone screwed up on 9/11. Come on - this is bigger than a blowjob - more than 3,000 people died as a combined result of terrorist action and American inaction. I'm still waiting for heads to roll. How about you?

After you've pondered that one for half a's about dialing up the congressional toll-free number at 800-839-5276, and asking your Senators and Representatives the same thing. Do they, or do they not want answers? Will they, or will they not support a subpoena directing the White House to cooperate with the commission established to investigate the circumstances of 9/11?

I bet the survivors of those 3,000+ would sure appreciate it.

Lisa English at Ruminate This does a great job of inciting us to DO SOMETHING. If you feel like doing something, but aren't sure what, and I've failed to provide you with any direction lately, go check out Ruminate This. You can also use the little "Contact Congress" box at the right, or go to MoveOn and get up with whatever they're involved with at the moment. Now, if you'll excuse me for a moment, I have some calls to make! (800-839-5276)

Kachoong! Kachoong! Kachoong!
As a dedicated lefty, I should probably despise an ultra-violent show which raises the fear of terrorism and is shown on Rupert Murdoch's Fox network. But no! My favorite TV show is 24, and season three starts tonight, 9 PM on Fox. Jack and Kim will have the third longest day of their lives, one hour at a time. President Palmer will again exert strong, principled leadership, despite his unfortunate tendency to resort to torture (but only of traitorous, lying scumbags like that worm Rogers Stanton) and the meddling of his ex-wife (played by the same actress who played Condi in the recent Showtime farce about Bush and 9/11). And Palmer did everything he could to avoid a war in the Middle East, unlike another fictional president we're all familiar with.

So strap yourself in and have your medication handy, because 24 starts tonight!

Consistency is over-rated. I know of at least two other lefties who are hooked on the show.
Balancing Act
From the NY Times:
President Bush's aides debated the trade-off between locking down Baghdad and demonstrating to Iraqis that they now live in an open society, where they are free to shop, go to work or even protest the American-led occupation.
It is a balancing act, one senior administration official said during Mr. Bush's trip to Asia, that is being made all the more difficult by the absence of vocal support from the rest of the Arab world.

There has been no outcry, he noted, from "neighboring states — our allies — as the attacks on Americans have mounted. No outcry at all. Which has got to embolden the terror groups."

Mr. Bush is also increasingly concerned about the infiltration of foreign fighters from the Iranian and Syrian borders. Measuring their numbers is nearly impossible, American officials say. But the concern is that they are a source of continuing funds, technology and strength for the pro-Hussein forces.

A few comments:
Maybe I'm sticking too much to left-wing sites, but I don't see a lot of evidence that Iraqis are living in an "open" society. Tanks rolling down the streets, checkpoints all over, no work to go to; doesn't seem all that open to me.

No outcry from "neighboring states — our allies?" Those same allies whose opinions we ignored when we decided to start this illegal war in the first place?

Notice how they always focus on foreign fighters infiltrating from Iran and Syria, even though they apparently have no idea how many there are. Certainly some are infiltrating from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan as well? But those countries are farther down the PNAC invasion list; best not to scare them too much yet. And what about those 200,000 foreign fighters who invaded Iraq from Kuwait last March? That's the biggest problem in Iraq right now. I swear, if Bush owns a mirror, he's gone through it.

From Tom Toles.
Quote du Jour
Those are very sensitive documents. -- aWol, referring to 9/11-related documents requested by the commission investigating the events of that day.

I suspect they are sensitive in the "grounds for impeachment" category. The ongoing coverup of what really happened on 9/11 is inexcusable, and should really be taken as evidence of wrong-doing.

The 9/11 commission, in my fantasy world, says: "Fine, Mr. Bush. You won't give us the documents, we'll just assume the worst--that Osama bin Laden was a member of Cheney's energy task force and that they planned 9/11 together so you'd have an excuse to invade Afghanistan for the pipeline and Iraq for the oil. It kind of makes sense, since you've covered up what went on in Cheney's task force as well. Are you SURE you don't want to share those documents now?"


How to become president
Become governor of a state. Do favors for energy companies. Get them to back your campaign.

It worked for George W. Bush; maybe it will work for Howard Dean. The blog Big, Left, Outside has a post about how one of Dean's supporters is Robert Crandall of HALLIBURTON, and a link to an article describing Dean's ties to energy companies in New England.

Guilt-trip update: I don't mean to be dissing Dean TOO much. While he could return Crandall's $2000, it would be difficult to prevent contributions or endorsements from all unsavory sources. Who knows--maybe Crandall wants to change Halliburton's direction and sincerely supports Dean. I read some attacks on Clark a couple of months ago based on nice things said about him by General Barry McCaffery, who is alleged by many to be a war criminal. McCaffery may be every bit as bad as alleged, but his praising Clark should then just be ignored. The opinions of the criminally insane shouldn't matter, one way or the other. And if Dean somehow attracts supporters from evil corporations, that shouldn't reflect negatively on Dean UNLESS he is influenced by them in some way.

Of course, just one year's interest on the $87 billion thrown away by Congress could fund ALL presidential candidates at Bushian levels. And the victor would owe his/her election to the United States government and people, not just the select few who could afford to bribe him or her sufficiently.

From Ted Rall. Bush supporters continue to try to compare the occupation of Iraq to the Marshall Plan, when in reality it is much closer to the Field Marshal Plan.
Under Bush, Uncle Sam is Ailing, and Auntie Trust is Dead
Two of the nations largest banks, Bank of America and FleetBoston Financial, are planning to merge. Both control far too much of the consumer banking business already. This will, of course, lead to layoffs of "redundant" workers, and one fewer choice for banking and credit cards. I've got a Fleet Visa, and I was pretty shocked to discover, after years of paying my bill on time, that they charge $35 if your payment is a day or two late (in addition to hitting you with interest charges). The added leverage of this new behemoth will enable them to either buy up or force out of business a lot of the remaining smaller banks, and the late fees will probably go even higher.

One-hundred years ago, Congress passed, and President Theodore Roosevelt signed, anti-trust legislation designed to prevent this sort of anti-competitive merger. (I don't have time to look it all up, but I think that's basically correct.) In the past twenty years, Republicans and Democrats alike have done nothing to enforce these laws, mostly because these huge conglomerates make huge campaign contributions. As long as I'm expected to have a job in order to survive in this country, I'm opposed to all mergers designed to increase efficiency and productivity. They're just one more way for the already rich to take even more money from the already poor.

Monday, October 27, 2003


Bush's massive criminal screw-up is getting the negative attention it deserves. The Newsweek article quotes Senator John McCain comparing Iraq to Vietnam:

“This is the first time that I have seen a parallel to Vietnam,” McCain declared, “in terms of information that the administration is putting out versus the actual situation on the ground. I’m not saying the situation in Iraq now is as bad as Vietnam. But we have a problem in the Sunni Triangle and we should face up to it and tell the American people about it.” Also reminiscent of Vietnam, McCain said, was the administration’s reluctance to deploy forces with the urgency required for the quickest victory. “I think we can be OK, but time is not on our side... If we don’t succeed more rapidly, the challenges grow greater.”

I'm still fairly convinced that Republicans are the ones who will do Bush in, not the wimpy Democrats. McCain, Lugar, Hagel, Shelby, Chaffee, Snowe, Collins--these senators have shown a willingness to speak out against the administration on a few issues. I think Bush has to be a huge embarrassment to them, and a threat to their own re-elections if the troops and the jobs aren't back next year at this time.

Democrats, even Michigan's own Carl Levin, have been much too supportive of the whole Iraq mess. Someone on our e-mail list sent a copy of the reply he received from Levin to his letter about the $87 billion. Excerpt:

The $87 billion request included approximately $67 billion for the Department of Defense to continue military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The remaining $20 billion under President Bush's request would go for grants for the reconstruction of Iraq.

During the Senate's debate on this measure, I strongly supported the funding necessary to support the courageous members of our nation's armed forces in carrying out their ongoing mission to bring stability to Iraq. This included the $67 billion requested by President Bush for the Department of Defense, as well as $5 billion of the $20 billion for Iraq reconstruction programs which will go toward training Iraqi security forces to replace U.S.
troops performing routine police and protection duties.

Here was my response on the e-mail list:

I'm disgusted that he only really addresses the $20 billion for reconstruction, and addresses the rest as unquestionable. We spent more than $20 billion destroying the country; we should be willing to pay something to fix it. And instead of quibbling about loans, which strikes me as incredibly cheap, he should have insisted that Halliburton, Bechtel and MCI's contracts be revoked and all reconstruction be handled through Iraqi contractors (which would do much more to rebuild their economy as they would hire local subcontractors and suppliers).

But the even bigger crime is the $67 billion for continuing the occupation. Levin says "I strongly supported the funding necessary to support the courageous members of our nation's armed forces in carrying out their ongoing mission to bring stability to Iraq." (Check today's news to see how well that's working out.)

There are about 130,000 US troops in Iraq. If a one-way ticket home costs about $1000, it would cost $130 million to bring them all home. (Less than 0.2% of $87 billion. One five-hundredth.) That's the support they want and deserve. And it leaves plenty for substantial veterans benefits!

What is Levin's real angle on this? It's not a popular vote. He opposed the war last year. Does he just get his kicks flushing our money down the toilet, at the cost of hundreds of more American lives, and probably thousands of Iraqi lives?

Okay, I've drifted a bit. The good news is that Newsweek has a negative cover story about aWol's war, and that another Republican is openly questioning at least the conduct of it.
Some regrets, some not...
Looking at the pictures of the peace marches in Washington and San Francisco, I kind of wish that I had gotten on the bus to DC Friday night. I went to two marches in DC last winter, in January and March, and while the all-night bus rides were tedious, the marches were exhilarating.

On the other hand, after watching the debate and reading some reviews, I don't think I missed much by not going to Detroit last night.

From Yahoo.
A Miserable Failure

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a good editorial about a bad Secretary of State.
In case there was any doubt...
The Southern California fires are serious. Here's the view from orbit. And a website with lots of photos. I lived in LA (Van Nuys, San Fernando Valley) for a year.

From a good story about soldiers' families who participated in the peace march on Saturday in Washington.
Meanwhile, in Russia,
The richest Russian just got arrested. Do I know what's going on? Not a clue. But this guy seems to have one.

From Dwane Powell.

From Jim Morin.

From Clay Bennett.

From Mike Lane.
Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
As usual, Liberal Oasis watches those shows so I don't have to. Powell and Bremer went to all of the shows. Their plan was to explain how wonderful things are in Iraq, but the downing of a Black Hawk helicopter and the rocket attack on the hotel where Wolfie was staying made their task difficult (the car bombings this morning wouldn't have helped them much, either). The duplicitous duo were left spouting lame excuses:

We certainly had a bad day and as I have stressed all along we’re going to have good days and bad days. Fortunately, the good days do outnumber the bad days. This was a particularly unfortunate one. (Bremer)

LO also highlights several quotes critical of the administration and their rush to get into this mess in the first place from formerly supportive senators, including Democrats John Edwards, Joe Lieberman and Jay Rockefeller and Republicans Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel.

I mentioned to Michelle at You Will Anyway last week that I don't quite understand where Hagel is coming from. He is frequently quoted being critical of the Bushies; even over a year ago he was advising caution in the approach to Iraq. (See my 2002 archive and look at my August 16 entry.) But he voted for the war, and just recently voted for the $87 billion extension of it. Sort of a Republican Dick Gephardt, I guess.
Wolfowitz's trip was an unadulterated disaster. His announcement that he was sleeping in Tikrit was clearly a dig at Saddam and the Baathists; but then a Blackhawk was downed there while he was at the US base in Tikrit (one US soldier was wounded). And then his hotel was struck in Baghdad, with a US colonel killed and 17 other persons wounded, several of them military. Wolfowitz was visibly shaken, his voice quavering, immediately after the attack. US personnel were forced out of the hotel, perhaps permanently. The colonel was probably the highest ranking officer killed in Iraq so far.
The problem with Wolfowitz's trips to Iraq is that they are clearly political, requiring visits to touchy places such as Najaf and Tikrit, to make political points about US dominance of the country. But the Deputy Secretary of Defense should only be visiting Iraq for military reasons, and his visits should be conducted secretly so he can see military commanders and troops. If Wolfowitz goes on campaigning to be mayor of Tikrit, he is liable to get himself killed.

Even short of that, every time he goes he makes himself look clownish, and makes the US look like fools. Wolfowitz is the one who wanted 7 wars and kept talking patronizingly about the ability of the US to reshape Iraq and the Middle East, and he can't even get a good night's sleep when he is there.
-- Juan Cole.
Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century
written by Bev Harris, is now available free online.
One city where the Baghdad bombings are not the lead story...
is Los Angeles. The fires are massive and are destroying lives and property. Temperatures continue above 100 degrees.

Polizeros has ongoing reports from his vantage point in the San Fernando Valley, including pictures.
La la la la la la ...
"The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity that's available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become," Bush told reporters at the White House. He said those who are continuing to engage in violence "can't stand the thought of a free society. They hate freedom. They love terror. They love to try to create fear and chaos." -- NY Times

Love terror? Does aWol have any evidence, anywhere, for this? And what does a brutal occupation have to do with a free society? Don't forget this quote:

"We're so busy raiding houses and kicking down doors in the middle of the night." -- US soldier Adrian Miller
Three more US soldiers killed on Monday...
...and it's not the main story out of Baghdad. Suicide bombers attacked Red Cross headquarters and four police stations, killing about 40 people.

Fair and balanced report: In Krapskwat, Iraq some kids went to school, while in Helholja the power was on for three hours. See George? No filter.
And the winner of the debate is...Huel Perkins!
I chickened out and decided not to go to tonight's debate in Detroit. I would have had to get there THREE hours early for some reason, and I had too much else going on. I did TiVo it, and just finished watching it. FoxNews has the transcript online, so I can now review it.

The debate got off to a roaring start with some great Bush-bashing; unfortunately, Kucinich didn't get a chance to take part in that, being the last candidate given a chance to speak. Still, it was a good start. For example:

Dean: I don't think service men and women do view my position as short of supporting the troops. I've made it very clear that we need to support our troops, unlike President Bush, who tried to cut their combat pay after they'd been over there and he'd doubled their tour of duty, unlike President Bush who tried to cut -- who successfully cut 164,000 veterans off their health-care benefits.

I'd say all of us up here support our troops a great deal more than the president of the United States does.

Kerry: This president has done it wrong every step of the way. He promised that he would have a real coalition. He has a fraudulent coalition. He promised he would go through the United Nations and honor the inspections process. He did not. He promised he would go to war as a last resort, words that mean something to me as a veteran. He did not.

He broke every promise. He's done it wrong.

Sharpton: You cannot get right out of wrong. Bush was wrong to go in in the first place.


To delay coming out is not going to make it right. We cannot continue to play Bush roulette -- it used to be Russian roulette, now it's Bush roulette...


... with the lives of American troops seeing every day, with no real exit strategy, what's going to happen, are you going to make it or not. We need to not get into another Vietnam, talking about withdrawing with honor. Mr. Bush put the honor of this nation aside when he deceived the public by putting us in harm's way with no weapons of mass destruction.


We need to go to the U.N., we need to say that we are working a multilateral commitment. And we need to show that we really love the troops by bringing the troops home.

Clark: Right after 9/11, this administration determined to do bait and switch on the American public. President Bush said he was going to get Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. Instead, he went after Saddam Hussein. He doesn't have either one of them today.


I've been against this war from the beginning. I was against it last summer, I was against it in the fall, I was against it in the winter, I was against it in the spring. And I'm against it now. It was an unnecessary war. There was no imminent threat.

Edwards: Then the president of the United States comes to us and says, "I want $87 billion, trust me on this, I'll be back next year to ask for more and more money." Here's my view, Joe: For me to vote yes on that would be to give this president a blank check, and I am not willing to give George Bush a blank check.


And I will never give George Bush a blank check.

The debate kind of degenerated after that, in my opinion. After this, the best lines came from Fox2 Detroit news anchor Huel Perkins:

Asking the right question of the right candidate:
PERKINS: Senator Lieberman, in light of that, there are many who believe that peace in the world is impossible without some resolution of the Palestinian issue.


How far are you willing to go? How much are you willing to do to win the trust of the Palestinian people?

Perkins also gave Edwards the most hittable hanging slider of the evening:
PERKINS: Senator Edwards, I don't know if you've had a chance to see the city of Detroit, but this city is a symbol of the promise and the problems facing this nation.

And the people here realize that foreign issues are very important, but they also want to know how is it that Washington -- the president and Congress -- can find $87 billion to rebuild Iraq...
... and not find enough money to rebuild American cities?

(I'll bet Gephardt and Lieberman, who voted for the $87 billion, were glad he didn't address that question to them.)

Perkins also addressed the drug issue better than any of the candidates:
PERKINS: Senator Lieberman, a famous talk-show host admits his addiction to prescription drugs.
He goes off for treatment. There are addicts who have also admitted that they have a problem. They're behind bars right now. There seems to be a disparity...
... real or perceived, a disparity. But it seems that if you're rich and famous, you go to rehab, but if you're poor and unknown, you go to jail.
How will you change the perceived mistreatment, or real mistreatment, of people in the medical and legal fields?

In the last year or so in which I've been active in the anti-war movement, I've been surprised that among local TV stations, Fox2 Detroit has provided the best coverage (sometimes the only coverage) of our protests and other events. I rarely watch the TV news on any channel, but I've seen their cameras at our marches, our press conferences, and at the Kucinich campaign kickoff event in Detroit. Perkins was so good, better than the candidates, really, in presenting the progressive point of view with his questions, I'm somewhat concerned that the "fair and balanced" crew at the national Fox News network will take note and rein Fox2 Detroit in a bit.

Anyhow, I declare Huel Perkins to be the winner of the debate! For better or worse, he even caught Kucinich in a mis-statement. While I agree with Dennis on basically all of the issues, I question his debate strategy. Maybe to win the nomination he has to attack Dean, but I think he would come across a lot better just hammering Bush and sticking to his main issues. Universal health care and repealing NAFTA and the WTO should be huge sellers here in Michigan. Both Sharpton and Moseley-Braun successfully deflected questions on jobs with answers about about universal health care; Kucinich should do the same. Of course, he still doesn't get as many questions to answer; Fox wasn't as scrupulous in their time-keeping as they were in the first debate they did in Baltimore.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Wolfie's Wake-up Call Gets Another Soldier Killed
Anti-American guerrillas blasted the Baghdad hotel where U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying with a barrage of rockets on Sunday, but the No. 2 Pentagon official survived unharmed, U.S. officials said.

The brazen attack killed a U.S. soldier but a defiant Wolfowitz vowed that the United States would not be cowed into abandoning Iraq.
-- Reuters.

Right, Wolfie. We'll abandon international law. We'll abandon any hope for the future. But we won't abandon what we stole.

What a pig.
No nuclear threat
From Iraq since 1991, according to this Washington Post article.

According to records made available to The Washington Post and interviews with arms investigators from the United States, Britain and Australia, it did not require a comprehensive survey to find the central assertions of the Bush administration's prewar nuclear case to be insubstantial or untrue. Although Hussein did not relinquish his nuclear ambitions or technical records, investigators said, it is now clear he had no active program to build a weapon, produce its key materials or obtain the technology he needed for either.

Among the closely held internal judgments of the Iraq Survey Group, overseen by David Kay as special representative of CIA Director George J. Tenet, are that Iraq's nuclear weapons scientists did no significant arms-related work after 1991, that facilities with suspicious new construction proved benign, and that equipment of potential use to a nuclear program remained under seal or in civilian industrial use.

David is spending a great deal of time learning the truth. And the truth -- we'll find out the truth. (aWol, from his interview with Brit Hume on September 24.)

And we have: Bush lied, people died.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Protests in Washington, San Francisco
I didn't go this time, but I'm glad they were there. I did take part in a small protest in downtown Ann Arbor and then an anti-war tailgate party organized by the U of M anti-war group. I'll be going to the debate in Detroit tomorrow, providing support for Kucinich.

I'm hoping the Marlins hold onto this lead (2-0 after six) so I won't be missing game seven! Go fish!
Bushies are stonewalling the 9/11 commission
Okay, that's not really news, but it sounds like the commission is serious:

The chairman of the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks says that the White House is continuing to withhold several highly classified intelligence documents from the panel and that he is prepared to subpoena the documents if they are not turned over within weeks.

The chairman, Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, also said in an interview on Friday that he believed the bipartisan 10-member commission would soon be forced to issue subpoenas to other executive branch agencies because of continuing delays by the Bush administration in providing documents and other evidence needed by the panel.

"Any document that has to do with this investigation cannot be beyond our reach," Mr. Kean said on Friday in his first explicit public warning to the White House that it risked a subpoena and a politically damaging courtroom showdown with the commission over access to the documents, including Oval Office intelligence reports that reached President Bush's desk in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I will not stand for it," Mr. Kean said in the interview in his offices here at Drew University, where he has been president since 1990.

"That means that we will use every tool at our command to get hold of every document."

He said that while he had not directly threatened a subpoena in his recent conversations with the White House legal counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, "it's always on the table, because they know that Congress in their wisdom gave us the power to subpoena, to use it if necessary."

A White House spokeswoman, Ashley Snee, said that the White House believed it was being fully cooperative with the commission, which is known formally as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. She said that it hoped to meet all of the panel's demands for documents.

Mr. Kean suggested that he understood the concerns of the White House about the sensitivity of the documents at issue, saying that they were the sort of Oval Office intelligence reports that were so sensitive and highly classified that they had never been provided to Congress or to other outside investigators.

"These are documents that only two or three people would normally have access to," he said. "To make those available to an outside group is something that no other president has done in our history.

"But I've argued very strongly with the White House that we are unique, that we are not the Congress, that these arguments about presidential privilege do not apply in the case of our commission," he said.

"Anything that has to do with 9/11, we have to see it — anything. There are a lot of theories about 9/11, and as long as there is any document out there that bears on any of those theories, we're going to leave questions unanswered. And we cannot leave questions unanswered."

While Mr. Kean said he was barred by an agreement with the White House from describing the Oval Office documents at issue in any detail — he said the White House was "quite nervous" about any public hint at their contents — other commission officials said they included the detailed daily intelligence reports that were provided to Mr. Bush in the weeks leading up to Sept. 11. The reports are known within the White House as the Presidential Daily Briefing.
-- NY Times

Kean's comments are pretty strong, but a Democratic member of the commission, former Georgia senator Max Cleland, was even more forceful:

Mr. Kean's comments on Friday came as another member of the commission, Max Cleland, the former Democratic senator from Georgia, became the first panel member to say publicly that the commission could not complete its work by its May 2004 deadline and the first to accuse the White House of withholding classified information from the panel for purely political reasons.

"It's obvious that the White House wants to run out the clock here," he said in an interview in Washington. "It's Halloween, and we're still in negotiations with some assistant White House counsel about getting these documents — it's disgusting."

He said that the White House and President Bush's re-election campaign had reason to fear what the commission was uncovering in its investigation of intelligence and law enforcement failures before Sept. 11. "As each day goes by, we learn that this government knew a whole lot more about these terrorists before Sept. 11 than it has ever admitted."

Go get 'em, Max!
$2 A Day
Is what some of the Wal-Mart cleaning crew members were being paid. Body and Soul has a good rant about that:

It's like being robbed, and then having the police arrest you rather than the robber, because they discover you have an unpaid parking ticket.

And don't miss the obvious connections. The race to the bottom threatens American citizens as surely as it does the undocumented. If we're not in this together, we all lose.

Army responds at Fort Stewart
Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee has acknowledged poor conditions for sick and wounded soldiers at Fort Stewart in Georgia, as described by UPI last week.

"Those in medical status, they should be in the improved level of billets, those that are air conditioned and have some of the other improvements, like indoor latrines," Brownlee said. "We're going to move to make those improvements."

The Bushies support the troops? Only when the spotlight is finally pointed in their direction. But good for Brownlee. He promised to investigate the situation at other bases:

He also promised to examine other mobilization sites, to see if similar conditions existed elsewhere. If they do, he said, "We'll take appropriate action."

"I want to emphasize that what happened here at Fort Stewart is not just a Fort Stewart issue," Brownlee added. "It's an Army issue. The people at Fort Stewart did what they could with what they had, but the Army has more assets and we'll focus those assets to solve any problems we've found here."

Of course, much of the problem could be avoided by just bringing the troops home.
Black Hawk Down
A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter went down east of Tikrit on Saturday evening and the crew was fired on by attackers with rocket propelled grenades once it was on the ground, a coalition military spokesman said.

Five people were injured and evacuated safely, the spokesman said, adding that he did not know the severity of the injuries. It was not known whether the troops were hurt when the helicopter went down, or in the grenade attack, he said.
-- CNN
Kucinich demands that Dean ads be pulled
The effort to limit the terms of debate continues, and Howard Dean is a big part of it. Of course he'd be a better president than Bush. I can't think of anyone, Mark Furman and Mike Tyson and Brittney Spears included, who wouldn't be a better president than Bush. But it's pretty obvious to me that there's this loose conspiracy between the press, DLC Democrats, some Republicans, and Dean himself, to cast him as the "liberal" in the race, thereby closing off the best and most reasonable positions on many issues. Dean is, with good reason, acceptable to the corporations. Placing him as the left-most acceptable candidate shuts off the possibility of universal health care, of true fair trade instead of "free trade," of reducing the incredibly bloated pentagon budget, of seriously attacking the enormous wealth disparity in this country.

Dean's ad attempts to differentiate him from his "opponents" on the Iraq war:

"One hundred thirty thousand troops in Iraq, no end in sight and a price tag that goes up daily, and the best my opponents can do is ask questions today that they should have asked before they supported the war," Dean says in the ad. (source)

Kucinich, of course, opposed the war all along, asking questions long before Dean jumped in. Dean's implied message is, of course, that his only "serious" opponents are those who supported the war: Lieberman, Edwards, Gephardt and Kerry. That alone is enough to show that Dean believes that the corporate money backing those candidates is worthy of more respect than the progressive ideas, even the anti-war ideas he shares, of Kucinich, Sharpton and Moseley-Braun (or even Clark). He's basically saying "Look. I'm different on one issue from the other big-money guys. Of course, a big-money guy has to get elected."

What a crock. Corporate rule is the heart of the problem, and Dean is not the solution.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Atrios Watch
I try to come up with different, sometimes even original stuff. But other times I just have to steal from Atrios. This happens to be one of those times. He's got some jaw-dropping stories over there right now! Here's a couple:
  • A story which links Grover "drown government in the bathtub" Norquist with his buddy Karl Rove, their old friend Newt Gingrich, and a couple of alleged Saudi-backed terrorists. Atrios quotes from Keith Olbermann's show on MSNBC where they were discussing all of this. Frankly, I don't understand all of the implications, but it seems like it could be huge, blowing the few remaining shreds of the Bushies' "war on terror" farce out of the water.
  • A tale of two soldiers, both women, both wounded in Iraq and held as prisoners. One gets 80% disability pay, not to mention book and movie deals. You've no doubt heard of her. The other gets 30% disability pay, and no book or movie deals. One is white, one is black. One is Jessica Lynch, one isn't.
World spurns US appeal for $30bn to rebuild Iraq -- the Independent (UK)

Donors Make Offers for Iraq -- Washington Post

Iraq pledges top $14 billion -- CNN

Donors Promise $33B for Iraq Reconstruction -- Fox News

Donors promise $40 billion in Iraq aid, loans -- Detroit Free Press

Same story, different headlines. In case you are wondering, YOU are one of the donors in Fox's $33 billion. They have included the $20 billion that Congress voted for last week (in addition to the $67 billion to continue the occupation). The higher estimates include loans and promised donations for 2005 or later. The actual haul that Halliburton will take out of Madrid will be substantially less than what Fox and many others will report.
Lies, lies, lies. A couple of half-truths, some meaningless hype, some total fantasy-land spin, and then a lot more lies. God Bless America.

Sorry. The latest speech out of aWol's mouth, given in Hawaii last night, reminded me of this Tom Tomorrow cartoon, which is a remake of one he did during the reign of George the First.

Some people take lemons and make lemonade. Bush takes raw, disease-ridden sewage and attempts to make champagne. And his Republican donors are apparently willing to drink it.
Senate Republicans Trying to Shift Blame to CIA
For the "intelligence" that convinced these same dimwits to vote us into IraqWagmire. But Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) says the Democrats won't let the Repugs get away with it:

"We're going to get this one way or the other," Rockefeller said yesterday. "If the majority declines to put the executive branch at risk, then they are going to have a very difficult minority to deal with."
Hari Kerry
The Senator from Massachusetts, who is liberal on everything except the issues, is having trouble explaining his vote for the Iraq war.

"My position could not be more clear." -- Kerry

"His biggest problem is Iraq — that he can't explain his position in two sentences," said Dan Caligari, a longtime New Hampshire campaign organizer who is backing Mr. Kerry.

I see Kucinich as the best on the issues. Clark is probably the most electable. As far as I can tell, Kerry has nothing going for him.
Update: Make that 3 Dead, 4 Wounded in Iraq Today
Back when I was a kid...
People used to talk about people someday walking on the moon and flying across the ocean at supersonic speeds. Well, no one has walked on the moon in thirty years, and the last Concorde to cross the Atlantic flew today. For better or worse, much of the future is now in the past.

(Okay, I don't really have a point on this one.)
Kucinich opposes FTAA
He was in Miami yesterday, and released a statement opposing the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Excerpts:

NAFTA has been a preview of the damage that the FTAA could do to jobs, workers' rights, and the environment. NAFTA has spurred a $418 billion trade deficit, costing 525,000 U.S. jobs, most of them in manufacturing. This is called free trade. But where is freedom when jobs are lost, wages are cut, and the right to bargain collectively is crushed? NAFTA has attacked federal laws meant to protect workers' rights, human rights, and environmental quality principles.

Since NAFTA was enacted 10 years ago, the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and Canada has ballooned. Companies have used the threat of moving jobs to Mexico to place downward pressure on wages and benefits for American workers. Meanwhile, the labor side agreement to NAFTA has proven to be totally ineffective. The real value of wages for Mexican workers has declined since NAFTA was enacted, and not a single company has been cited for violations of worker rights or labor standards.
The FTAA would export the destructive effects of NAFTA throughout our hemisphere by expanding it to include all countries in the Americas. And it would accelerate the privatization of municipal services, including water. Water must be a human right, not a privilege for those who can pay the going rate. This is a matter of life and death. I support South Floridians for Fair Trade and Global Justice in their effort to prevent the damage that would be done to this nation and this hemisphere by the establishment of the FTAA.

As president, I will oppose the FTAA, and I will make my first act in office the repeal of NAFTA and withdrawal from the WTO. I will replace these corporate trade agreements with fair bilateral trade agreements conditioned on workers' rights, human rights, and environmental protections.

When I was in Chiapas this past spring, one of the workers at CIEPAC, an NGO, gave us pretty detailed overview of the various agreements which have made it difficult or in some cases impossible for indigenous communities to survive. NAFTA was one, and the proposed FTAA was another. I'm hoping to join the protesters in Miami next month; the FTAA must be stopped!

(ALCA is the Spanish acronym for FTAA)
If you REALLY don't like Rush Limbaugh...
...then you really will like this flash animation! Thanks to Michelle for finding that!
Bush Sr. Resigns from Carlyle Group
The evil multinational investment group, of which Poppy and the bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia were key early members, has been leveraging its political influence for sixteen years.
Where has all the money gone?
A leading British charity has accused American and British administrators in Iraq of failing to account for $4 billion in oil revenue. Christian Aid has produced a report, Iraq: The Missing Billions, to coincide with a US-led international conference in Madrid aimed at securing money to rebuild the country. -- Aljazeera

Billmon has much more on this.

Senate votes to end Cuba travel ban
Good for them. We'll find out if Bush cares more about the right-wing Cuban exile community in Miami more than he cares about the rest of us if he carries out his veto threat. Chances are he does.

From Clay Bennett.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Wal-Mart busted for hiring illegals
Let's hope the brunt of any punishment falls on the corporation, not the workers. Wal-Mart watch has lots of interesting info on Wal-Mart and why you shouldn't shop there.
Whoppers got them there, Whoppers keep them going
There's a Burger King at the Baghdad airport which is popular with GI's. Unfortunately, most soldiers are too busy to visit often:

Adrian Miller, 19, of Bascom, Ohio, a platoon leader with the 82nd Airborne Division, is stationed in a southwest section of Baghdad, where guerrillas continue to fight U.S. forces. But a trip to the airport to pick up soldiers returning from leave in Qatar brought him to Burger King.

"We're lucky if we can get over here once a month, we're so busy raiding houses and kicking down doors in the middle of the night," said Miller, who bought $84 worth of food. "When we get free time and no one is using the trucks, then we come out here."

Ah, the sweet taste of freedom. Thanks to Jake at LMB for pointing me to that quote.

SecState and the Viceroy of Iraq are at a beggars' conference in Madrid.
Faces of the fallen
Another soldier was killed in Iraq today. The Washington Post has an interactive KIA list, with pictures and short bios. And, unlike what they typically include in their stories, the list includes all deaths, not just combat deaths or those since May 1.
Sunday's Debate in Detroit
is the subject of a Detroit Free Press article today. As with many newspaper articles, it is a hodgepodge of useful information, confused logic, and missed opportunites.

An example of the confused logic comes in the title and subtitle: Democrats vie for state's favor: But most watchers likely won't vote in Michigan February caucus. That strikes me as true but largely irrelevant. First, since the debate will be carried nationally by Fox News, most watchers will likely not be from Michigan. Since the article then goes on to say that ratings for the debate are likely to be low (especially if there's a World Series game seven on the main Fox network channel), the point I think they were trying to make was about the lack of interest among most Americans at this point. They didn't explore the issue, but I think it would be more accurate and relevant to say that many or most of those who will vote in the caucus will be watching.

The article then discusses the relative merits of party-run caucuses versus state-run primaries, and closed versus open primaries. I was most dismayed by this quote about the need to identify yourself as a Democrat in order to vote in the caucus:

"It's a caucus, so you know what you're getting into," said Wendy Waggenheim, spokeswoman for the ACLU of Michigan. "If you're not a Democrat, why are you going?"

I'm an ACLU member, but this strikes me as exactly the wrong attitude. Wendy is suggesting that if you're not a Democrat, you don't have a right to any preference except choosing between aWol and whoever may emerge from the Democratic race. I'm not a Republican, but I voted in the 2000 Republican presidential primary. I knew then (although not nearly to the degree that I know now) that Bush was far and away the worst possible choice. I didn't vote for McCain in order to screw the Republican party; I did it in the interest of the country. I probably was helping the Republicans, come to think of it. McCain would have been a much better candidate than Bush, and probably could have actually won the election against Gore. Frankly, as long as we have the corrupt two-party system, I think everyone should have the right to vote in BOTH primaries.

Personally, I think the two-party system is anathema to democracy, and needs to be abolished. It's criminal that someone can be as bad a president as Bush is and end up with only one challenge to his rule, in November. On a practical note, I'm still disappointed that Wesley Clark didn't declare himself to be a Republican and challenge Bush for the nomination. I'd love to see Clark on the ballot in 2004--as the worst choice, not the best.
Cyndy at MouseMusings...
...has a great rant about Kucinich. Why are so many people who agree with him on most or all positions wasting their time supporting lesser candidates like Dean, Clark or Kerry? Kucinich has a clear vision of a safer, saner, cleaner, friendlier, more peaceful world, and he has great ideas on how to get there. It's a real shame that instant runoff voting isn't in place, because the only reason that millions of people are saying that Kucinich doesn't have a chance is, well, that millions of people are saying that Kucinich doesn't have a chance. So all of these progressives are holding their noses and campaigning for one of the corporate centrists. But let people vote for their true first choice without having to worry about "throwing away their votes," and Kucinich would become instantly electable.

Which candidate supports workers instead of corporations? A picture is worth a thousand words:

aWol heckled in Aussie Parliament

Thousands of demonstrators banged drums and shouted outside the Parliament building while a separate group of protesters jostled with security officials outside the U.S. embassy compound where Bush stayed overnight.

During Bush's speech, two Green Party senators jumped to their feet and shouted war protests at Bush. They were ordered removed from the chamber but sat and refused to leave. One of them, Sen. Bob Brown, shouted "we are not a sheriff,'' a reference to Bush's recent description of Howard.

"I love free speech,'' Bush said to laughter.

Several other lawmakers wore white arm bands to protest the Iraq war but remained silent.
-- NY Times.

I hope that was derisive laughter. Bush loves free speech like frogs love flies. Remember the Nazi-style crowd control used when aWol spoke at Ohio State's graduation last year:

Ohio State fascism - What happened today

As I sit here before you, I must admit I am truly exhausted from a full day. I've read the thread about Ohio State on LBN, and I am here to tell you it is true...and then some. I'll try to hit all the details.

And what happened to us is truly unbelieveable.

We arrived at Ohio Stadium at 6am. A rally was scheduled at the Jesse Owens memorial site for that time, and the graduates were to be at their places by 630am. Family and friends were permitted to enter at that time as well.

I didn't get close enough to the 6am rally, but in my search for an organizer of Turn Your Back On Bush, I did indeed hear the announcement. Graduating students were told that they would be expelled and arrested if they turned their backs. they were alerted that dozens of staff members and police officers would be watching the stands, as well as the Secret Service. A few students asked for the definition of expulsion....did it mean removal from the stadium or refusal of their diplomas, or both? One of the persons at the front said "Both. And what will your parents do when they are paged from the crowd to bail out their son?" I do not know if this person had an official capacity with the Ohio State University or any police department.

I must say, I did not hear that exchange. I was informed of it later when I found outside the stadium protesting. To tell these ADULTS that after 4 years and 80,000 dollars that they would be tossed aside if they didn't face a certain direction?????

I began to wonder how many of those students went to find their friends who were graduating pre-law.....

We entered the stadium later with family and friends, and similar statements swirled around the crowd. "Please make sure you stand and loudly cheer our President. Our graduates have been requested to do the same, and have agreed to give a loud cheer for Mr. Bush", etc.....

Once inside, we decided that it might not be a good idea to be too close to the front. We saw the lines of people waiting to get in the stadium.....and yes, we saw the yellow buses that carted them all in. I asked one of them where they were from. The woman replied "Upper Arlington". However, she could not provide a zip code when I asked her for it (the main zip code for VA is 43221). Figuring on the masses of bussed-in people, we knew it might not be wise to be up front.

We went behind the graduates and looked for peace signs on the mortar boards (a sign that was meant to ID the Turn-Your-Backers). It was really difficult to get an accurate count, but there were a LOT of peace signs. I was sure that we weren't the only ones counting peace signs.

It didn't take long for our stomachs to turn....the first speaker (I believe the OSU President) began spouting about how proud they were to have Bush there. He said "We have a long tradition of inviting great men and women to speak at our commencements." I quickly responded "but since we couldn't get one, here's Georgie".

That got the attention of the state trooper in front of us. His eyes were on me the rest of the time.

The speech continued to mention that Chimpy was "a tireless worker in the field of education" and "a man who unified this country after the terrible events of 9/11". It was interesting to note that it took a LONG time for the 9/11 applause to turn into a standing ovation....they held out for that one, not continuing the speech intentionally.

About 10 minutes later, Shrub was introduced to speak. Before he even got to the stage, we did our about-face. I looked over my shoulder to see how many graduates were doing the same. However, everybody was standing at that point, and in pure black robes, it was impossible to see who was facing what direction. Furthermore, over that same shoulder, I saw one of Columbus' Finest heading our way.

We never got to see how many students participated. We were being led out of Ohio Stadium. To the officers' credit, he realized there was a 3-year-old in my arms and was not at all hostile. I asked him if I was under arrest, and he did not answer me. When we reached the exit, I asked the SS man why we had been ejected, and he told me we were being charged with disturbing the peace. If we chose to leave, the charges would be dropped immediately.

With our daughter in mind, we chose not to fight it. I am sure we will regret it someday when Bush's fabulous economy strikes us and we need a few million in a lawsuit. But our daughter did not need any more irritation on this day.

On this day, June 14th, 2002, I came to the realization that we no longer live in a free society. This is rapidly heading in the same way Nazi Germany headed. Questioning our leaders is no longer the most outrageous crime you can be charged with. Not paying attention to them is.

As you take in this message I give to you, I would like to add a footnote. Next time, I will not leave quietly. Next time, I will not allow you to intimidate my fellow Americans who wish to speak out. Next time I will not be so blind when I confront you. Next time we meet, I will have more people with me to oppose you. Next time, I will have brought voter registration cards for people whose eyes I will open to your oppression.

And next time, I will have a babysitter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Take Back Your Time Day
is Friday. This relates closely to two earlier rants today--the one about shopping and the one about the Brooklyn mother whose children died in a fire while she was working her new job as an assistant manager at McDonald's.

I don't know the answer, but I'm pretty sure that keeping the economy growing isn't the right one. This is a rich country; we should be able to do a lot better than working long hours for low pay to buy crap we don't need while children are left unattended.
Rummy on the war on terror:
Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?

Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions.

Do we need a new organization?

How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools?

Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"?

It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.
-- from a memo from Rummy to his top staff, as reported byUSA Today.

In their article about the memo, USA Today notes that the memo "diverges sharply from Rumsfeld's mostly positive public comments." But frankly, it actually makes me respect the old warhawk a little. I think the "war on terror" is a ridiculous idea that was never intended to eliminate terrorism. I'd guess from this memo that Rummy may not be in on the secret that the WOT is just another means to repress and exploit the world's poor to benefit the world's rich. But still, it's encouraging to see that at least one Bushie has actual doubts about what they are doing, and that he sees deterring and dissuading as actual alternatives to capturing or killing, an impression you never get when you listen to aWol.

(Full disclosure: I still despise Rumsfeld. Just ever so slightly less than before.)

Home Alone
I'm not a parent, but stories like this get to me:

Last Sunday, as her night shift neared, Kim Brathwaite faced a hard choice. Her baby sitter had not shown up, and to miss work might end her new position as assistant manager at a McDonald's in downtown Brooklyn.

So she left her two children, 9 and 1, alone, trying to stay in touch by phone.

It turned out to be a disastrous decision. Someone, it seems, deliberately set fire to her apartment. Her children died. And within hours, Ms. Brathwaite was under arrest, charged with recklessly endangering her children.

The article is rightly quite sympathetic to the plight of the mother. What sort of crummy society do we have where a mother has to go to work to feed her family, but gets prosecuted when tragedy strikes? Good daycare is expensive in any case, and this mother worked a variety of shifts at McDonald's, making it almost impossible to find steady daycare even if she could afford it. The article also points out that most states have no laws defining when it is "neglect" to leave children home alone. The basic rule seems to be that if they're under 18 and something bad happens, it's neglect. Also, all over the world children nine and younger frequently have child-care responsibilities. I think the atomization of our society is the main culprit here. Those weren't our kids, they were hers, so their well-being, and their deaths, is all her responsibility. In the poorer countries I've been in (Jamaica, Costa Rica, Mexico), child care seems to be a community responsibility. While some adults may be off at jobs or shopping or whatever, there are always others around (neighbors, siblings, grandparents) who are watching the kids, usually with the help of the older kids. In this case in Brooklyn, it looks as though the mother's support system consisted solely of one other adult. When that adult didn't show, she was left with a difficult choice. And now, she's not only crushed by the loss of her two children, but she's being prosecuted for it. All because in this country around the clock junk-food availability is more important than caring for children.

(via Through the Looking Glass)
Just change a few words...
Terrorists who claim Islam as their inspiration defile one of the great faiths. Murder has no place in any religious tradition. It must find no home in Indonesia. -- aWol today in Indonesia.

Warmongering politicians who claim Christianity as their inspiration defile one of the great faiths. Murder has no place in any religious tradition, and war, especially pre-emptive lie-based war, is clearly murder. It must find no home in America or anywhere else in the world. -- Me, just now.

From Steve Greenberg.

[Warning: Comic-inspired soapbox rant!]
Adjusting your shopping to save the world isn't always easy in America. I have tried to adjust my habits over the past two years so that as little of my money as possible goes to the forces of darkness. I joined the People's Food Coop and shop there when I can, but I think it defeats the purpose somewhat if I make a special trip there instead of just stopping in at the drug store on my way home from work (by bus or bike, usually). I won't shop at Wal-Mart for several reasons (sweat shop products, terrible labor practices, the relentless push for lower prices regardless of whom it hurts, it's a long drive for me, and it's basically a crowded, narrow-aisle, long-line miserable shopping experience, or it was two years ago when I last shopped there). I avoid Kroger because of their Kroger Plus discount card (go here to find out why grocery cards should be avoided). I try to buy less, buy local, and buy used if possible. But I still make a couple of trips a month out to Meijers, a huge combination grocery and department store chain headquartered in Michigan, to stock up on pop, cat food, and a few other things which are either unavailable or very expensive at the Coop. Meijers is non-union (and has fought to stay that way), and is very difficult to get to without using a car.

So I can't claim sainthood on the shopping angle, but I do think that it's important to consider what effect your purchases have on the rest of the world. If you need to save money, do it by shopping at a nearby store, even if it costs more, rather than driving 20 miles to some discount center. I'm always amazed when I hear people talk about driving 50 miles to some "outlet mall" so they can buy jeans or whatever for a little less than they could get them at the local K-Mart, but still for a lot more than they'd pay at the local thrift shop.

I probably need to read it again, but I highly recommend the book Affluenza as a great introduction to why and how people should both reduce and direct their shopping. As much as the advertisers would like you to believe it, having a huge house stuffed full of crap, with two or three new SUV's in the garage, will not improve the quality of your life. It does, however, have a negative impact on the lives of millions of others.

[End of comic-inspired soapbox rant.]
Bush has too much leeway
According to Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NB).

"When the security of this nation is threatened, Congress and the American people give the president great latitude," he said. "We probably have given this president more flexibility, more latitude, more range, unquestioned, than any president since Franklin Roosevelt -- probably too much. The Congress, in my opinion, really abrogated much of its responsibility."

Pessimistic Response:
You're absolutely right, Senator. So why did you vote FOR the Patriot Act, FOR the Iraq War, and FOR the $87 billion? You chose the party line over the national interest. Of course, you don't have to worry, since you OWN the voting machines!

Optimistic Response:
When Republicans turn against Bush, it's the beginning of the end for him.

Pessimistic Counter-response:
Yeah, but Hagel has been criticizing Bush for over a year now. For example, in August 2002 Hagel was among [the]earliest voices to question Bush's approach to Iraq, [and] claim[ed that the] CIA has 'absolutely no evidence' that Iraq possesses or will soon possess nuclear weapons, and suggested to leading neocon Richard Perle that "Maybe Mr. Perle would like to be in the first wave of those who go into Baghdad." (NY Times) He also has been critical about the 9/11 investigation. But nothing serious has resulted from his comments. When it comes to votes in the Senate, he might as well be Trent Lott or Mitch McConnell, no matter how much he talks like Robert Byrd.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Ask for the ridiculous...
...get almost all of it, then threaten to veto if they don't give you all of it. That's right, the Bushies are threatening to veto the $87 billion boondoggle they requested if the Senate provision requiring that a small portion be treated as loans is included in the bill sent to the White House. I thought the loan stuff, championed by Michigan's own Carl Levin, was just pipsqueak opposition when options like "$15 billion total" and "not another dime" should have been offered. But there is no limit to the arrogance of this White House. They are prototypical bullies; if you give them everything they ask for, they just ask for more.
Some soldiers not returning from leave
At least 28 soldiers have failed to report for flights back to Iraq after two weeks of leave in the United States or to call ahead with an explanation, US military spokesmen said. -- AFP

A soldier will be carried on the roster as AWOL for 30 days before he or she is classified as a deserter.

Or, in certain cases, that can be extended to over 30 years.
It looks like I may get to go to the Democratic presidential debate in Detroit this Sunday. The Congressional Black Caucus and Fox News were much more scrupulous than was CNN in getting the candidates equal time when they sponsored an earlier debate in Baltimore, and the CBC and Fox will be doing this debate as well. At the CNN debate in Arizona earlier this month, here's the amount of time each candidate was able to speak:
  1. Howard Dean - 14 minutes, 7 seconds.
  2. John Kerry - 12 minutes, 31 seconds.
  3. Wesley Clark - 10 minutes, 36 seconds.
  4. Richard Gephardt - 10 minutes, 2 seconds.
  5. Joe Lieberman - 9 minutes, 26 seconds.
  6. Carol Moseley Braun - 8 minutes, 39 seconds.
  7. Al Sharpton - 8 minutes, 28 seconds.
  8. John Edwards - 8 minutes, 0 seconds.
  9. Dennis Kucinich - 5 minutes, 9 seconds.
Six-hundred people in aWol's Asian entourage...
...and the White House won't tell us who they are.

From the article:

Regardless of party, when an American head of state visits a foreign country, the American public has a vested interest in knowing who goes with him. I am not referring to the Secret Service and other security personnel. The public has a legitimate inquiry as to which Cabinet members, trade officials, and presidential relatives are visiting these nations with our head of state, and for what reason. Bear in mind that Seymour Hersh wrote after the first Gulf War that Bush relatives cruised the Middle East generating contracts for themselves; that Bush’s close relatives are among the individuals making money off the “war on terrorism” and the Iraq war; and that some of these contracts jibe oddly, or not at all, with the administration’s stated policies. Indeed, a US military contractor where Bush uncle William H. T. Bush is a director has generated contracts with Japan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and the U.A.E. among other foreign entities:
Blogroll Updated!
I hated removing Conceptual Guerilla, but the bane of "cheap-labor conservatives" everywhere hasn't posted since August. I've added A Changin' Times, Juan Cole, Opinions You Should Have, Talking Points Memo, and You Will Anyway.

I remain committed, nonetheless, to having a half-fast blogroll that doesn't require a lot of attention. Many of the blogs listed have much better blogrolls, so I don't need to!
Scandal of the Week!
The scandal of the week is that none of the totally unresolved ongoing scandals involving the corrupt and criminal Bush administration seem to be getting any attention. Congress gave Bush another blank check to fund Halliburton stockholders and arms merchants across the country, so they figure their work is done. WMD lies? Wilson/Plame crimes? September 11 coverups? Insane "my God is bigger than your God" generals? Daily death and mayhem in Iraq?

No, it's Kobe and the World Series, the snipers and the Pope and Mother Teresa. Along with a bunch of BS about a supposed economic recovery.

We've got the most criminal and disastrous administration in US history, and neither the press nor Congress can be bothered to do anything about it.

And that's your scandal of the week. Maybe century.
Hey! If this guy survived going over Niagara Falls...
...maybe this country can survive the Bush administration! However, in neither case would I suggest pushing the luck by doing it again.

Niagara Falls...Slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch...
Give Democracy a Foothold
Here in the US! Join the Lincoln Call for public financing of elections. Our government of the dollar, by the dollar and for the dollar needs to perish from the face of the Earth!

Monday, October 20, 2003

Israel attacks Gaza
Eleven dead, 90 wounded. Things are getting very ugly very fast. American made (and probably financed) F-16's were involved.
Gotta like those Bare Naked Ladies!
Random thoughts: 1.Why does even the left-wing media say things like: “Howard Dean is the most progressive option for the Democrats (besides Kucinich)”? This occurs in both the Progressive and the Nation’s current issues. It’s time to take Dennis Kucinich out of the brackets and treat him as the viable and believable candidate he is. I’m sick to death of progressives settling for right-leaning centrists as some kind of “electable” compromise. We just did the same thing in Ontario, by electing an overwhelming Liberal majority government, simply as a way to oust the Conservatives of the last 8 years. In the process, we’ve screwed ourselves out of a progressive voice, and into a stagnant, US-style two party system. The left needs to remind people that they reflect the values of the community, as opposed to the values of the boards of directors. -- From the Bare Naked Ladies blog. Thanks to Cyndy for finding that!
Update Update
Okay, there's a whole bunch of scary stuff going on that I haven't mentioned. And Michelle seems to have most of it covered! Private military companies, plague, genetically-targeted North Korean bioweapons, nuclear waste rolling through Michigan, where you're $87 billion is going, war crimes in Vietnam...

Pretty impressive for a rookie blogger!
There are a couple of scandals going out there that I haven't mentioned, but worthy of your attention:
Just another day in Iraq...
One U.S. soldier was killed and five were wounded in an attack on a patrol in the flashpoint Iraqi town of Falluja Monday, the U.S. military said.
The U.S. military reported 43 attacks across Iraq Sunday.
-- Reuters
Ted Kennedy's Senate Speech
last week on the $87 billion question:
The trumped up reasons for going to war have collapsed. All the Administration's rationalizations as we prepared to go to war now stand revealed as "double-talk." The American people were told Saddam Hussein was building nuclear weapons. He was not. We were told he had stockpiles of other weapons of mass destruction. He did not. We were told he was involved in 9/11. He was not. We were told Iraq was attracting terrorists from Al Qaeda. It was not. We were told our soldiers would be viewed as liberators. They are not. We were told Iraq could pay for its own reconstruction. It cannot. We were told the war would make America safer. It has not.

Before the war, week after week after week after week, we were told lie after lie after lie after lie.

It's just outrageous that only eleven other senators voted with him to deny the money to Bush, which in a very real sense is why he went to war. Steal from the poor to give to the rich--Ayn Rand would be proud.

By the way, unless you live in Massachusetts or outside of the US, you have at least one US senator who deserves a very nasty phone call today. Call the Capitol switchboard, 800-839-5276, and ask for the office(s) of your senator(s). Tell the staffer that you are outraged that Senator Sellout voted to spend $87 billion to continue a brutal and illegal occupation. Give your representative in the House a call as well. If your senator or Congressperson voted against the appropriation, call them and thank them for trying. You can check on the House vote here. In the Senate, the twelve voting no were Boxer, Byrd, Edwards, Graham (FL), Harkin, Hollings, Jeffords, Kennedy, Kerry, Lautenberg, Leahy and Sarbanes. Alexander of Tennessee didn't vote. All others voted yes.

[Update] My bad. In addition to Massachusetts (Kennedy and Kerry), Vermont also had two senators vote against the funding: Leahy and Jeffords. Bob's Links and Rants regrets the error.
The Kucinich Exit Strategy
UN in, US out, with lots of details.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Two More Dead, Another Wounded
Thanks to Congress, this can go on indefinitely. Reading the article, it sounds like there may have been many more casualties in other attacks around Iraq.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Sick and Wounded Reserves Being Ignored
While living in squalor in Georgia. The report comes from the Moonie-owned UPI, which is usually about as right-wing as they come. Thanks to Billmon for the link.

Soldiers here estimate that nearly 40 percent of the personnel now in medical hold were deployed to Iraq. Of those who went, many described clusters of strange ailments, like heart and lung problems, among previously healthy troops. They said the Army has tried to refuse them benefits, claiming the injuries and illnesses were due to a "pre-existing condition," prior to military service.

Most soldiers in medical hold at Fort Stewart stay in rows of rectangular, gray, single-story cinder block barracks without bathrooms or air conditioning. They are dark and sweltering in the southern Georgia heat and humidity. Around 60 soldiers cram in the bunk beds in each barrack.

Soldiers make their way by walking or using crutches through the sandy dirt to a communal bathroom, where they have propped office partitions between otherwise open toilets for privacy. A row of leaky sinks sits on an opposite wall. The latrine smells of urine and is full of bugs, because many windows have no screens. Showering is in a communal, cinder block room. Soldiers say they have to buy their own toilet paper.

Another Friday Night Massacre
I just realized that Congress stole a play from the Bushies' playbook; release bad news late on Friday so it gets less attention in the news. I'm still in shock; $87 BILLION is a huge amount of money, that we don't have, going to get more soldiers killed and to increase the world's hatred of America. Good job, Congress, or should I say People's Council of Deputies, who always bend to the will of the Politburo.

Friday, October 17, 2003

And what happened with Senator Lindsey Graham?
I quoted the South Carolina Republican Senator earlier saying "You can't take $10 billion of taxpayer money, [while] people are losing their jobs, to buy your way out of a great lie."

Well, apparently he was concerned about the $10 billion, but not the other $77 billion. He, along with 86 other senators, voted for the appropriation.

I still haven't seen any further context for his quote so I can know for sure what "great lie" he was referring to. His web site is worthless; the "news" goes all the way through last April.
Levin & Stabenow voted yes on the $87 billion
Swine. The twelve voting no in the Senate were Boxer, Byrd, Edwards, Graham (FL), Harkin, Hollings, Jeffords, Kennedy, Kerry, Lautenberg, Leahy and Sarbanes, all Democrats except Jeffords, who is an independent.

There were 125 no votes in the House, including Dingell, Conyers, and Kucinich. Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman were the only presidential candidates to vote for the funding.
What a stupid, worthless bunch
Congress is. They'd probably even approve spending an ungodly amount of money to continue the most illegal of wars for the most immoral of purposes at the cost of hundreds or thousands of lives, just because our unelected idiot president asked them to. In fact, I'm sure of it, because they just did. And their idea of being tough and independent is quibbling over turning twelve percent of the most defensible part of the spending into loans, while passing the bulk of the money going towards more death and destruction without a whimper. I'll bet Bush wishes he'd asked for $213 billion or something now; they'd have given him that, too. Not that they have $213 billion, or $87 billion, or even an extra dollar lying around to give. Mortgage the future in order to destroy it. What a bunch of criminals.

I'm taking suggestions for nice countries to move to.
CNN Gets Answers to the Question About Media Coverage of Iraq...
...but it doesn't like them, so it ignores them. Read all about it at Billmon.
Fairly Unbalanced
Tom Tomorrow has the lowlights of an interview done recently on Fox News. People actually watch this crap?
A veteran writes fan mail to KB Toys. Excerpt:

For heaven’s sake, why aren’t you putting this product in KB Toys stores? It’s only to be ordered from your website? This patriotic made-in-China spectacle missing from shelves makes it seem “AWOL” -- just like its inspiration was for his tour of duty in the Air National Guard during that annoying Vietnam War. Don’t be chicken(hawk), Michael Glazer! Provide the Dubya Action Figure in your stores for the consuming masses! So what if veterans and other insistent truth-tellers are disgusted and thousands of less patriotic Americans than you and me sign the online petition to boycott you at
Good news, sort of, bad news, for sure
The good news is that most news sites are reporting the Senate's vote to make half of the $20 billion Iraq reconstruction appropriation into a loan instead of a grant as a defeat for Bush. The bad news is, it looks like they'll pass the rest of the $87 billion package, including the $67 billion for continuing the illegal war, just as requested. Maybe Bush doesn't come out a winner in this, but the American and the Iraqi people sure end up as the losers. It's really pretty obscene that all of the debate is about the rebuilding money rather than the much larger and less justifiable occupation money.
Senator uses the L-word
And a Republican at that!

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said no amount of money is going to change the minds of those who believe the administration invaded for Iraq's oil.

"I don't want to give in to a great lie. You can't buy your way out of this problem," said Graham, one of the five Republican co-authors of the Senate's loan provision. "You can't take $10 billion of taxpayer money, [while] people are losing their jobs, to buy your way out of a great lie. It would be terrible if the people of this country who have sacrificed so much wound up not getting a dime back."

The Washington Post doesn't give a lot of context for that quote, but if southern Republican senators are calling the war in Iraq "a great lie," impeachment should be right around the corner. I'll check some other web sites for more detail on that quote.
How many more?
Four more soldiers killed in Iraq. Both the Post and the Times continue to report only the number killed in combat since May 1, and even that is now in triple figures. I think the actual total is up to 330 now, counting those who died before May 1 and those killed from causes other than direct fire.

From Steve Benson.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

CBS's 60 Minutes II Report on Powell's Lies
is here. I got caught up watching baseball and forgot to watch the program, but CBS has provided plenty of details from the report, including Powell's rebuttal (shorter Colin Powell: More lies.).
Not a half a brain between them
(there's an airsickness bag in the pocket in the seat in front of you)

What a screwed-up country.
Psst--Don't show this to W!
Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used. -- Philadelphia Inquirer, also via Atrios.
Who would have thought that a bad Austrian artist who's obsessed with the human physical ideal could assemble such a rabid political following? -- from the Onion, via Atrios.
Latin America
The people are rioting in Bolivia against their U.S.-backed president. I know this has been going on for a while, but I've just started reading about it. So rather than say something stupid I won't say much at all (memo to Bushies--take note). One thing I can make a reasonable guess about--the meeting in Miami November 19-21 concerning the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) will be contentious, to say the least. I am seriously considering heading down there to join thousands of protesters; maybe some readers would like to join me? You can find out more about the protests at the Global Exchange web site.
Stars and Stripes Poll Finds Troops are Dissatisfied

A broad survey of U.S. troops in Iraq by a Pentagon-funded newspaper found that half of those questioned described their unit's morale as low and their training as insufficient, and said they do not plan to reenlist.
What's up with that?
The NY Times reports that at least 30 businesses and individuals in the United States sold military technology to Iraq before the war. The rest of the article then focuses on only one of these, a San Diego business accused of selling gunboats. What about the other 29? The story said they were identified, but doesn't provide a list or any other information at all.

From Boondocks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Fox2 News reporter blasts the media, and Bush's criticism of it:
President Bush and company are blaming the media for distorting the situation in Iraq. The daily deaths, routine assassinations, suicide bombings, chaos, riots, lack of medical care, lack of electricity and sewage facilities, failure to get the oil flowing, general civil unrest and the $4 billion-a-month bill for the American taxpayers -- those things just don't tell the true story of the great "progress" being made in Iraq.

The supreme irony in all of this whining is the Bush crowd blaming the media that helped make the war possible in the first place. They charge the media with undermining public support for the bloody occupation and enormous task of attempting to govern a conquered people and rebuild a war-ravaged nation, which has become a magnet for Islamist terrorists.

(read the rest!)
Bush won't ask his staff to tell who outed a CIA agent...
...but neighbors were apparently more than willing to rat on the Cubs fan who interfered with the foul ball last night. From what I read, a neighbor who recognized the guy on TV and claims to like him actually called the paper and told them who he was. On the astronomically small chance that my blog might lead to some irate lunatic going after the poor guy, I won't post a link.

But jeez! I think that the verbal abuse that he took from the Wrigley Field crowd and the probability that he'll never feel safe going there again was more than enough punishment for doing what most baseball fans would do. Now the guy's going to have to go into some sort of witness protection program. I guess he could move to Detroit--no need to worry about being responsible for keeping the Tigers out of the World Series; they're quite capable of doing that all by themselves.
Ann Arbor reservist returns home, briefly

Yes, he is serving his country. But he says what's going on over there is not only discouraging and demoralizing, but a waste of time for a whole lot of homesick American soldiers.

Yes, he is happy to finally be reunited with Joanna, his wife of less than a year who is now in her seventh month of pregnancy. But he'll be back in Iraq when his son is born in early December.

While the U.S. involvement in Iraq is no longer given as much attention by most Americans as it was during and shortly after the invasion, the military operation is the central theme of the Blatoses' short time as husband and wife.

Blaise Blastos, 36, tries to keep things in perspective, but it's difficult given all that has happened to him and his wife since the first of the year. He looks forward to the day next spring when he'll be sent home for good, but then he thinks of the best man at his March wedding who was killed by a grenade in Iraq in July.

"They already had their homecoming," he said of the man's family. "But they brought a coffin home."
"It's good to see him alive," said his mother, Joan Blastos, of Pittsburg, where he grew up. She said her husband turns on the radio at 5 a.m. every day to hear whether there were any American casualties in Iraq overnight.

Blastos, a supply sergeant who quickly replaced his Army fatigues with blue jeans and a white oxford shirt when he got home Saturday, shakes his head when asked to describe the military duties in Iraq. He sums it up in a word: terrible.

"Every day we ask ourselves what we're doing there," he said. "We can't come up with a good answer."

Back in May, he and other reservists helped build two pontoon bridges. Since then, he and about 175 others have had far less to do in their station in Ba'qubah near Baghdad. At most, they work three hours a day, which leaves a lot of free time to commiserate among themselves. Nobody feels proud of what they're doing there, he said.

At first, the Iraqis were happy the Americans were there, but that sentiment has changed to resentment, he said.

Although he voted for George Bush, he says he won't do so again.

"All the reasons for going to war were based on miscalculations, errors and plain untruths," he said. "I can't justify all these people spending a year of their lives based on politicians' untruths."
Blastos said those in active duty don't support the reserve units, which are provided little money for basics. "We get what they don't want, or what's left over," he said, noting that he has to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to make a phone call home because there's just one phone for 175 people. They were issued two uniforms eight months ago, but nothing since. Some reservists have no boots. His wife mailed him gloves to use when he was sent on a mission to pick up trash on the streets.

Joanna Blastos is also no fan of Bush, who recently extended the service of all the reservists another six to nine months. While her husband should have been coming home for good this month, he'll likely still be there until sometime next spring.

"I try not to watch the news much anymore because it was throwing me into quite a depression, and my blood pressure wasn't too hot for a while there," she said. "Every day, you wait for that knock on the door."
-- from the Ann Arbor News, amazingly enough. If the Cubs win the World Series, maybe the News will even write an editorial about it.

Mike Thompson goes after Fearmaster Cheney
George W. Bush, al Qaeda Recruiter
War in Iraq has swollen the ranks of al Qaeda and galvanized the Islamic militant group's will, the International Institute for Strategic Studies says in its annual report.

The 2003-04 edition of the British-based think tank's annual bible for defense analysts, "The Military Balance," said Washington's assertions after the Iraq conflict that it had turned the corner in the war on terror were "over-confident."

The report, widely considered an authoritative text on the military capabilities of states and militant groups worldwide, could prove fodder for critics of the U.S.-British invasion and of the reconstruction effort that has followed in Iraq.


I'm sure Condi will say that no one could possibly have imagined this happening, so I'll send her a pre-emptive reminder:

Some Arab leaders friendly to the United States say a protracted war would be a powerful recruiting tool for extremist groups. "If there is one bin Laden now, there will be 100 bin Ladens afterward," Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek said in a recent speech, referring to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Condolences to Cub fans
Powerful forces are afoot to see that a Cubs-Red Sox World Series never happens.
Threatening to leave Texas in the dust...
There's a drive now in California for mid-decade redistricting, just like in Texas. Combined with Gov. Gropengrabber, California may be pulling into the lead for the craziest state award. I've heard that Texas' governor is a nutcase too, although not as bad as their previous governor. Meanwhile, Florida still gets lots of points for sleaze and corruption, but it's less entertaining. When Jeb says "I'll be back," his staff probably responds "Take your time."

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Impeach Bush now
Unmasking a CIA agent is bad, lying to Congress worse. With each U.S. death in Iraq, the case against the President grows stronger, says JOHN MacARTHUR.

We already knew that...
But it's good to know that Colin Powell’s former chief of intelligence, Greg Thielmann, will be on 60 Minutes II tomorrow night telling the world that Powell lied in his speech to the UN last February.

Greg Thielmann tells Correspondent Scott Pelley that at the time of Powell’s speech, Iraq didn’t pose an imminent threat to anyone – not even its own neighbors. “…I think my conclusion [about Powell’s speech] now is that it’s probably one of the low points in his long distinguished service to the nation,” says Thielmann.

Pelley’s report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes II, Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Thielmann also tells Pelley that he believes the decision to go to war was made first and then the intelligence was interpreted to fit that conclusion. “…The main problem was that the senior administration officials have what I call faith-based intelligence,” says Thielmann.
“They knew what they wanted the intelligence to show. They were really blind and deaf to any kind of countervailing information the intelligence community would produce. I would assign some blame to the intelligence community and most of the blame to the senior administration officials.”
Daschle, Edwards and Kerry indicate possible "no" votes on $87 billion
About time! Still, they appear mostly to be quibbling over the $20 billion for reconstruction instead of the $67 billion for the occupation:

But the reconstruction part of the package has become the object of fierce debate. Late last week, the Bush administration succeeded in pushing the reconstruction plan through the House Appropriations Committee — but not before the amount to be spent on rebuilding Iraq was cut to $18.6 billion from $20.3 billion at the direction of the chairman, Representative Bill Young, Republican of Florida. -- NY Times

There is certainly plenty to quibble about in the $20 billion, which is probably mostly pork which will end up in the pockets of Halliburton and Bechtel, minus a small kickback (relatively speaking) to the Bush re-selection campaign. Nevertheless, I think money for reconstruction is in theory justifiable; after all, we destroyed their country, we should help them rebuild it. But the invasion was a crime, so the occupation is a crime; and so is funding it.

Republicans and Democrats alike have said the military-spending part of the package, roughly $66 billion, should be approved so that Americans in uniform get all the help they need to accomplish their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The help they need is one-way tickets home and a generously-funded apology from the administration for sending them to hell based on lies. Support our troops--bring them home!
Twelve years of diplomacy, more than a dozen Security Council resolutions, hundreds of U.N. weapons inspectors, thousands of flights to enforce the no-fly zones and even strikes and against military targets in Iraq, all of these measures were tried to compel Saddam Hussein's compliance with the terms of the 1991 Gulf War cease-fire. All of these measures failed. -- Fearmaster Cheney to the Heritage Foundation last week.

It's true. None of these measures kept Bush from having his war, even though they did completely eliminate Iraq's WMD's. But maybe Cheney should have talked to SECSTATE before making the speech:

We had a good discussion, the [Egyptian] Foreign Minister and I and the [Egyptian] President and I, had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions -- the fact that the sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. -- Secretary of State Colin Powell, February 24, 2001.

Of course, that was before Powell had completely learned to love Big Brother. Here's what he said a few weeks ago:
Even with that gap in coverage, Powell said to assume that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction "defies the logic of the situation over the years and what we know about this regime."

We may never know for sure if Saddam actually had WMD's at the beginning of the year. Maybe they were all looted by Osama back in April. But one thing we know for absolute certain: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice are all serial liars, and will say anything, no matter how much it "defies the logic of the situation," to get their wars.

I was directed to the Cheney quote by this Newsday op-ed, to which I was directed by Atrios.

Hey Michelle! Do what you will anyway.
Michelle is a new blogger from Columbia, Missouri. She credits/blames me for suggesting that she take up blogging. So, go check out her blog and say "Hi!"
The Ann Arbor News is neither
Someone brought a sign with that brilliant observation to our "Honk for Peace" event outside the News' offices a few days before the Iraq war started, and just a day after the News ran an editorial supporting the war. Most of my readers are probably aware that Ann Arbor is famous (or infamous) as a liberal town, with not one but TWO anti-Patriot Act resolutions, plus a nice anti-war resolution last December. Blue "No War" and "Peace" signs can be seen all over town, and we get big turnouts for events by Jim Hightower and Michael Moore.

But we've got a newspaper whose viewpoint makes the Crawford Fascist-Republican seem like the Havana Communist by comparison. The News' pro-war editorial was awful. And now, they are berating our two Democratic senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, for helping to stop the fascification of the federal courts. Hey Ann Arbor News: If you don't like it here, go back to Nazi Germany!

(Full disclosure: To my knowledge, there is no paper called the Crawford Fascist-Republican. Or the Havana Communist.)
The Soviet Republic of Texas
Excellent editorial from the Washington Post. Excerpt:

You might think America's rigged system of congressional elections couldn't get much worse. Self-serving redistricting schemes nationwide already have left an overwhelming number of seats in the House of Representatives so uncompetitive that election results are practically as preordained as in the old Soviet Union. In the last election, for example, 98 percent of incumbents were reelected, and the average winning candidate got more than 70 percent of the vote. More candidates ran without any major-party opposition than won by a margin of less than 20 percent. Yet even given this record, the just-completed Texas congressional redistricting plan represents a new low.
Redistricting -- quite the inverse of elections -- is a process in which politicians get to choose their voters. It is a process that a healthy democracy would seek to reform.

And it definitely needs major reform. As you might guess, I have some ideas! Check out this post from July.
I like me, I like me, I'm the pres'dent, tee hee hee...
You bet he was a gathering threat and America did the right thing by getting rid of him. I absolutely made the right decision at the right time. There's no doubt in my mind that the world is better off without him in power. --aWol, yesterday.

There's never any doubt in his tiny little mind, and there's no doubt in my mind that the world will be better off without him in power. Let's make it quick! Our next president should be named Dennis--either Kucinich when he is nominated in January 2005, or Hastert after Bush and Cheney are impeached. (The speaker of the house is next in line of presidential succession after the vice president.)

LA Times defends its Arnold stories

As the Schwarzenegger story came into focus, these were our choices:
  • Publish it late in the campaign. Given the passions of the election, this would touch off an outcry against the newspaper. We had no illusion that it would be warmly received.
  • Hold it and publish after the election. This would prompt anger among citizens who expect the newspaper to treat them like adults and give them all the information it has before they cast their votes.
  • Never publish it. This could be justified only if the story were untrue or insignificant.

We, of course, chose the first option. Regrets? Not one.

When the story was published, Schwarzenegger admitted that he had "behaved badly" in the past and offered a general apology to any women he had offended. At another point, he said, "I have never grabbed anyone and pulled up their shirt and grabbed their breasts and stuff like that." But when asked whether he was denying all the stories about grabbing, he said, "No, not all." At still another point, he questioned the credibility of some of the women.

But the facts in the Times stories have not been seriously challenged.
Okay Arnold, Get to Work!
Bus and rail workers in LA are striking. The main issue is how much the Metropolitan Transit Authority contributes to the union's heath care plan. The working poor all over the LA area will be affected by the strike, with many having no reasonable way to get to work. Why is health care tied to work? It isn't in the civilized countries like Canada.

Health care is also one of the issues in another strike in California--that of grocery store workers.

The supermarkets are proposing a wage freeze and cuts to health and pension benefits for current UFCW members and a substantially lower wage and benefit package for new hires. They say they must win those concessions to compete with emerging rivals, including discounter Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which is nonunion.

I HOPE that none of you out there in readerland shop at Wal-Mart! That yellow smiley face is the face of wage slavery.

Update: Polizeros has more on the strikes.
Israel has nuclear-armed submarines
According to unnamed high-level officials in Washington interviewed by the [LA] Times, Israel has modified several US-supplied Harpoon missiles to enable them to carry nuclear weapons. The missiles—originally designed for conventional use—will be placed on three diesel-powered submarines that Israel purchased from Germany in 1999 and 2000. -- WSWS

The Times quotes a senior American official as saying, “We tolerate nuclear weapons in Israel for the same reason we tolerate them in Britain and France. We don’t regard Israel as a threat.” In other words, because Israel is an ally to the United States, it is free to develop whatever nuclear capacity it wishes, capacity that can be used against its neighbors.

From Boondocks. The Washington Post has decided not to run this week's Boondocks, so I guess the fun is just beginning! I have changed the Boondocks link on my cartoons page in case the Post continues to think that criticizing one of the most despicable characters in American history is off limits.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Three more soldiers killed
Bush says it's better there than we think. I say he still owes the country a year of military service.
Great editorial from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
via Bartcop. Excerpt:

Bush, by his apparent indifference, sends the disturbing message to his staff that such behavior is no big deal. That reveals more about his administration than all the investigators in the world ever could.
Kucinich formally announces candidacy
I'm not sure exactly what these formal announcements mean for candidates that have been running for months, but at least it gives you an article in the Washington Post. We had a good turnout in Detroit, part of a whirlwind two-day tour that Kucinich is making. He focused on his universal health care and repeal NAFTA positions. Long-time Detroit Congressman John Conyers introduced Kucinich and gave him a glowing endorsement.

Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers
Is there any point?
To the many accusations of hypocrisy flying around now? I get occasional nasty e-mails suggesting that I'm a hypocrite because I rag on the Bushies for their numerous crimes, but give/gave Clinton a free pass on his. (In fact, I was fairly apolitical before 9/11; I knew our presidents sucked, but none of them ever scared me like aWol. I currently pretty much subscribe to the Tom Tomorrow/Michael Moore/Jim Hightower line that Clinton sucked, A LOT, as did Reagan and Bush I, but that Bush II has achieved hitherto unknown heights of suckiness.) Still, maybe a valid point is in there somewhere--why have I reacted so negatively to Bush, when I pretty much ignored the bombing of Serbia and welfare reform and NAFTA and all the other stuff that went on under Clinton? I'm not going to answer for all of this now, just using it as an example.

Many other issues are receiving the same treatment. Liberals saying "Hey conservatives, where's your outrage at Rush's drug use?" while conservatives say "Hey liberals, where's your vaunted compassion?" Conservatives saying that if Clinton's White House had outed a CIA agent, the "liberal" media would have ignored it, while liberals say the "so-called liberal" media would have crucified him. Both sides comparing Arnold's alleged sexual assaults to Clinton's, saying the other side is being hypocritical in playing them up/down.

In many cases, like mine, the attacks are on straw men. As I said, I was neither a strong supporter nor attacker of Clinton's. Attacking me for being hypocritical because I didn't rant about Clinton may be legitimate, but to say that I staunchly defended him isn't true. You see these straw men being attacked all the time in political cartoons.

I guess, for the most part, we should not criticize Bush because others attacked Clinton for less. We should criticize him for the awful things he has done. Pointing out his hypocrisy by comparing his current statements with his past statements is fair game, as it is with Rush. But generically assuming that everyone who supports Bush was involved in attacking Clinton, or that everyone who criticizes Bush supported Clinton, is silly and pointless. And I'm probably being hypocritical in saying that.

Kucinich Official Launches Candidacy!
I'll be going to one of the kickoff events in Detroit this afternoon. Details at 11!
Billmon emerges from Deanial
Billmon is one of the best bloggers out there, and I usually agree with everything he says. Then one day, Dean says the US shouldn't take sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict (something Kucinich had said before), and Billmon jumps on the Dean bandwagon.

Well, yesterday Billmon had a Damascus Road experience: Dean expressed support for Israel's attack on Syria, and Billmon jumped off the doctor's wagon. He's not endorsing Kucinich, but at least he has realized that Dean is just playing politics.
Quote du Jour
That's capitalism's fatal flaw. Their desire to make money off of me exceeds their desire to shut me up. -- Michael Moore, speaking in Ann Arbor last night. He was asked whether he had as much trouble getting his new book, Dude, Where's My Country? published as he did Stupid White Men. He said "No," and provided the explanation above.


From Steve Breen.
The Statue Falls...

From Jeff Parker.
At Ford, the race to the bottom is job one
Last week, I linked to a story about how Ford was going to send more production to its Hermosillo, Mexico plant. Today, I read that Ford and Mazda are going to invest $540 million in a plant in Thailand.

Ford noted that Thailand offers tax incentives, relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions, policy and economic stability.

In other words, Thailand's wealthy leaders were willing to offer their cheap labor to Ford cheaper than were Indonesia, or the Phillipines, or China, or Vietnam. Those workers in Mexico should take note--any attempt to get decent wages or working conditions and Ford will be fleeing to Bangladesh or Afghanistan. Giant corporations have pitted state against state, country against country, and workers against workers, with the net effect that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. There are some benefits to having multinational corporations, but almost all of those benefits go to the very few people at the top.
Collective Punishment
According to this article from the Independent, US forces have destroyed orchards in central Iraq because their owners wouldn't give information about guerrillas attacking US troops.

The destruction of the fruit trees took place in the second half of last month but, like much which happens in rural Iraq, word of what occurred has only slowly filtered out. The destruction of crops took place along a kilometre-long stretch of road just after it passes over a bridge.

Farmers say that 50 families lost their livelihoods, but a petition addressed to the coalition forces in Dhuluaya pleading in erratic English for compensation, lists only 32 people. The petition says: "Tens of poor families depend completely on earning their life on these orchards and now they became very poor and have nothing and waiting for hunger and death."

This is completely despicable. Our troops have placed Iraqi people in an impossible situation. Forcing people to choose between losing their livelihoods or becoming collaborators (aka traitors) is something worthy of Nazis, not a supposedly free and democratic nation. This sort of behavior would violate the Geneva conventions even if the invasion were in any way justified. The US needs to get completely out of Iraq ASAP.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

I guess it depends on what your definition of "normal" is:
Yesterday: Bush says life is getting back to normal in Iraq

Today: Car Bonb Explodes Outside Hotel in Central Baghdad, killing at least six. Also, three more US soldiers wounded.
Pat Robertson is a terrorist
He suggested that a nuclear device should be used to wipe out the State Department. As Polizeros suggests:

If a Muslim said the State Dept. should be blown up, the Bushies would immediately have him arrested. Yet they are completely silent when a demented, extremist "Christian" says the same thing.

A one way ticket to Guantanamo Bay for that whacko.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

You go, Hugo!
Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez says that Columbus shouldn't be honored. If you've ever read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, you'll know he's right. CNN has an online poll on the issue.
Two Civilized Men Among the Barbarians

Measured by the most minimal standards of the modern, industrial world, only two of ten Democratic candidates for President passed civilized muster at the September 25 debate in New York City: Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Rev. Al Sharpton. The rest of the field, to varying degrees, fail to even comprehend modern assumptions of what it is to be human, living among other humans.

Read the whole thing!

Friday, October 10, 2003

Arnold's Plan: Get the rest of us to pay
The Republican said he told Bush he needs the federal government "to come in and really help us straighten out California."

"Alone we can't do it," Schwarzenegger said. "We need the help of the federal government."
Fox News to cover next Democratic debate
on October 26 in Detroit, whose cable system doesn't carry Fox News. This will be the second debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus and shown on Fox News. As Molly Ivins said, it's a season of irony.
Aren't there enough crazy ideas floating around these days that need to be shot down...
without bringing up the idea of immigrants being eligible to run for president? The Washington Post doesn't think so. In theory, some of the arguments make sense. But that Arnold Gropengrabber should be the reason for all this new interest in this 214-year-old topic is bizarre. Are they worried that if our candidate pool is restricted to natural US citizens that it will be impossible to come up with a worse president than the one we currently have?

Here's a deal I'll offer these nutcases: You convince Arnold to run against Bush for the Republican nomination in 2004, and I'll support your amendment. Because NOBODY is worse than Bush.
Fearmaster Cheney

From CNN, who has made Useless Dick, the Veep from the Deep, the main story on its web site for his "single day of horror" speech. And that's why I have bestowed on him a third nickname: Fearmaster Cheney.

I wonder if aWol has a nickname for Fearmaster Cheney. Dickey Boy? My angry little Dick? The lump in my undisclosed location? The sneer for my smirk?

But seriously, folks, this is real 1984 stuff. When things look bad politically, just ratchet up the fear. And I don't doubt that Cheney is afraid--if it ever really sinks in with the public that the whole Iraq war really was a fraud, FC's Halliburton profits may suffer. That's why he continues to babble about mushroom clouds and hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Fearmaster Cheney, aka Useless Dick, aka the Veep from the Deep, is a VERY BAD MAN. He probably even resorts to childish namecalling from time to time.
Irony Abounds
A great column by Molly Ivins.


All those folks who had conniption fits over Bill Clinton's affair are now pooh-poohing Arnold Schwarzenegger's sexual misconduct -- and vice versa. The right-wingers who are always griping about Hollywood stars who express political opinions -- "Shut Up and Sing" -- suddenly find an actor perfectly fit for high political office based on his experience as The Terminator.

Professional patriots who would have been screaming with horror had the Clinton White House ever leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent now struggle to justify or minimize such a thing.

President Bush has spent $300 million trying to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and come up with zip, so now he wants to spend $600 million more. And let's mention the president's interesting theory that NOT finding any weapons of mass destruction means the Iraq war was fully justified.
I've got to get out more!
Out of the limited view of the US media, that is. Check out some of the headlines from the BBC:

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go read these articles! You'll know I'm done if you see longer posts about them above this one.
NY Times Columnists Deliver a Good Double-Whammy to the Bushies
Bob Herbert: Selling a misguided war is a lot like selling cigarettes. You can never tell the tragic truth about your product.

Paul Krugman: Still, some would say that criticism should focus only on Mr. Bush's policies, not on his person. But no administration in memory has made paeans to the president's character — his "honor and integrity" — so central to its political strategy. Nor has any previous administration been so determined to portray the president as a hero, going so far as to pose him in line with the heads on Mount Rushmore, or arrange that landing on the aircraft carrier. Surely, then, Mr. Bush's critics have the right to point out that the life story of the man inside the flight suit isn't particularly heroic — that he has never taken a risk or made a sacrifice for the sake of his country, and that his business career is a story of murky deals and insider privilege.

In the months after 9/11, a shocked nation wanted to believe the best of its leader, and Mr. Bush was treated with reverence. But he abused the trust placed in him, pushing a partisan agenda that has left the nation weakened and divided. Yes, I know that's a rude thing to say. But it's also the truth.

Get back in your hole, Useless Dick!
The Veep from the Deep spoke to the Heritage Foundation today. Like Rice and Bush, he seems also not to have paid any attention to David Kay's report that Iraq had NOTHING with which to threaten us.

"We could not accept the grave danger of Saddam Hussein and his allies turning weapons of mass destruction against us or our friends and allies," Cheney told the conservative Heritage Foundation on Friday.

Cheney struck back at criticism of the Iraq war that has built over the months since Bush declared major combat over on May 1. His speech picked up where President Bush left off a day earlier, when the president told listeners in Portsmouth, N.H., "The challenges we face today cannot be met with timid actions or bitter words."

The vice president said, "The ultimate nightmare could bring devastation to our country on as scale we have never experienced."

"Instead of losing thousands of lives, we might lose tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands in a single day of war," Cheney said.

"Remember what we saw on the morning of 9-11. And knowing the nature of these enemies, we have as clear a responsibility as could ever fall to government," Cheney said. "We must do everything in our power to keep terrorists from ever acquiring weapons of mass destruction."

Attacking a country which doesn't have any WMD's does this how? We've got to do everything in our power to get these maniacs out of office.
Debate Review
I missed last night's Democratic debate, but I'm digging through the transcript now. The official spin seems to be that the other eight candidates ganged up on Clark, especially over his supposed statement that he would have voted for the Iraq war resolution last year. Clark answered this, as best as I can read it, by saying he was asked a hypothetical question: "Would you have voted for a resolution asking Bush to go to the UN?" Here's Clark's line from the debate:

CLARK: I had a discussion with a newspaper reporter that -- when I said what I was trying to say, I took an answer. The answer is very clear. The answer is, I would have voted for a resolution that took the problem to the United Nations. I would not have voted for a resolution that would have taken us to war. It's that simple.

I'll try to track that down. Surely he deserves a pass on this one if his supposed support was for a different hypothetical resolution than the one that actually passed in Congress.

Meanwhile, Kerry seems to be trying to run against Democrats who didn't take a strong stance against Bush. Like himself, for instance:

I think there has been a problem in the last election certainly. And part of it was not of the making of the party. It was the cleverness of the Republican administration and Karl Rove in exploiting national security. They brought the Iraq issue in September for a purpose. Andrew Card said you don't introduce a new product in August. And they introduced their product, and they wiped other choices off the stage. But that's one of the reasons why it's so important to have a nominee of our party who will have the ability to stand toe to toe with them.

Kerry is truly despicable. Those choices were wiped off the stage because wimpy Democrats like Kerry and Tom Daschle refused to take a stand against Bush's new product. I'm not a Dean fan, but if it comes down to Dean versus Kerry, the doctor will definitely be in with me.

Okay, Edwards is losing me, too. I"ve really liked him in the other debates, but here's his response to criticism from Kucinich and Dean of those, including Edwards, who voted for the war:

I disagree so strongly with what he just said. I have stood up to this president over and over and over, including back in 2001 when some on this stage had hope for President Bush. I did not have hope for President Bush.

How did you vote on the war, Senator? The Patriot Act? Get out of here.

Well, I finished reading the transcript. It seems as though Clark, Kerry and Lieberman got the most time to talk, while Kucinich, Sharpton and Gephardt got the least. CNN seems to have done a much worse job of balancing the candidates' time than did previous debate hosts. The debate didn't seem to be nearly as delightful a Bush-bash as the one last month.

From Ted Rall.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Movin' On...
I was one of maybe 40 people who showed up at Senator Carl Levin's office in Detroit today to protest aWol's insane request for four-score-and-seven BILLION dollars to flush down the Iraqi toilet, aka Halliburton and friends. We had a good chat with the staff woman who welcomed us. Some there complained about the $20 billion supposed going to rebuild Iraq; I said that I had a lot bigger problem with the $67 billion for maintaining the occupation. If your kid broke into a bank and was caught in a shootout with the guards, would you send in more ammunition? If you are decent and honest, you'd say that he has no right to be there and do everything you could to get him out before he got killed.

Anyway, I hope people showed up at the offices of all 100 senators, especially those of war hawks like Trent Lott, Orrin Hatch, Tom Daschle, and Hillary Clinton. These people were accessories to the crime because they voted to give Bush the go ahead on the war one year ago. Levin and our other senator, Debbie Stabenow, voted against that, and we are grateful. We told Levin's staffer that we were there to support and encourage, not complain.
What are the odds?
President's bid to rally public happens to fall on a day of intense violence. -- Washington Post (actually from a teaser for that article on the main web page).
Quote du jour
Why do they hate us so much? Why do they hate us so much? Dennis Miller. -- Elton John, responding to the obnoxious former comedian's tasteless tirade at Andre Agassi's benefit for children.

Miller ranted at the Democratic presidential candidates, those who didn't support the war in Iraq and the French. "I would call the French scumbags but that would be a disservice to bags filled with scum," he said.

The first lady obviously disagrees with you, Denny, you unfunny twit:


Ted Rall writes the speech aWol should give
On behalf of my Administration and the people of the United States, I am truly sorry. If I could go back to March of this year, I would. I wish I could bring back the 300 American servicemen and the thousands of Iraqis who died as the result of our horrible mistake. But what's done is done. No one can change history.
Finally, those who wage war before attempting to resolve conflicts through diplomatic means must face personal responsibility for their actions. Therefore, I will immediately turn myself, my vice president, the officials of my cabinet and certain members of Congress over to the international tribunal at The Hague (news - web sites) for prosecution for war crimes in connection with our illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan (news - web sites). In accordance with this decision, I hereby resign the office of President of the United States, and respectfully await instructions from Secretary Annan as to where to present myself for surrender.

Read the whole thing!
Spin This, Scott
"If you looked at some of the media here, you wouldn't know about some of the great progress that we are making in Iraq," presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said Wednesday. "There's some important progress that we are making, and it's the responsibility of this administration to keep the American people informed about those successes." -- AP

Spanish Diplomat shot, suicide bomb kills eight, another US soldier killed.
"It is undeniable that Saddam was a deceiver and a danger," Bush said. "The Security Council was right to demand that Saddam disarm and America was right to enforce that demand." -- AP

"I was not about to leave the security of the American people in the hands of a madman. I was not going to stand by and wait and trust the sanity and restraint of Mr. Saddam Hussein," he said. "America did the right thing."

Repeatedly denying the obvious is one sign of insanity. The security of the American people IS in the hands of a madman, and has been since January 20, 2001.
The new Governator, groping in the dark for a way to balance the state's budget, calls for a tax cut.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The Australian senate has censured Prime Minister John Howard for misleading the people of Australia over the reasons for going to war with Iraq.

Senator Brown said Mr Howard was involved in an unprecedented deceit of the nation and deserved censure.

He said Mr Howard had declared that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and support of international terrorism threatened Australia and its people.

"It was under those those circumstances of imminent, direct, undeniable and lethal threat to the Australian people that Prime Minister Howard asked our defence forces to take part in the invasion of Iraq," he said.

"It has become abundantly clear that the prime minister was not just a bit wrong. He was totally wrong."

You're not supposed to be allowed to lie this brazenly!
Condoleezza Rice told a foreign policy forum in Chicago that the team led by chief U.S. weapons hunter David Kay "is finding proof that Iraq never disarmed and never complied with U.N. inspectors." -- AP

Of course, we already know that Condi doesn't read reports. It's a very scary thought that someone this stupid and this dishonest is in charge of national security. Maybe she's just W in drag.
Bush brags about the economy, so why not...
White House to Tout Successes in Iraq -- Washington Post.

As Billmon pointed out yesterday, in 1984 you can brag about anything. Doesn't have to be true.
My condolences to California
I guess you'll be groping in the dark just to survive the next few years. I understand that Gray Davis is going to make a movie now. (Hey, it's no more ridiculous than Arnold being governor!)

What's really scary is the Arnold apparently got 48% of the vote. That means the "Recall Arnold" people probably will have to wait for him to really screw up as governor before that recall will have a decent chance. On the bright(?) side, they probably won't have to wait long. Keep those Doonesbury recall forms handy!

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

LA Times readers are on Bush
like Arnold on breasts. Here's one of several comments on their "Medieval Presidency" op-ed from Sunday:

How can anyone continue to use the word "intelligence" and Bush in the same sentence? Bush's information on weapons of mass destruction was way off. His information on "yellowcake" in Niger was fantasy. His information from British Prime Minister Tony Blair regarding Iraq's nuclear capacity was wildly off target. The estimates regarding the Iraqi oil industry were seriously in error. Bush's intelligence quotient is somewhere around zero. As it turns out, you can't possibly misunderestimate this guy.

Maren Henderson

Los Angeles
Star-Tribune Outs the PNAC
The conclusion of another excellent editorial from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

As is clear now, Clinton's policy of containment had worked pretty well.

As is clear now, the American people were sold a bill of goods by a small cadre of PNAC ideologues, bent on attacking Iraq, who latched onto the opportunity provided by Osama bin Laden and his crew of suicidal, airplane-hijacking terrorists. The price? Scores of billions of dollars, hundreds of young American lives, the standing of the United States in the world, plus the credibility of President Bush and his neocon cronies.

From Ed Stein.

From Rob Rogers.
Giant sucking sound
Hasta la vista, jobs.
Ford Motor Co. plans to invest $1 billion to develop its next generation of midsize vehicles and to start building them at its Hermosillo, Mexico, complex, the company announced Monday.

Production of up to 300,000 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models based on the Mazda6 midsize sedan will begin in 2005 with the 2006 Ford Futura in Mexico.
-- Detroit Free Press.

Analysts are terribly worried about the job losses--not:

For an efficient, high-quality plant -- in a low-wage country -- that is a lost opportunity that Ford aims to fix in a hurry, said Michael Schnall, a managing partner at the Planning Edge. "Nothing is worse than wasting capacity at Hermosillo," he said.

Hey Michael: Go stand in a Michigan unemployment line and say that!

Full disclosure: I drive (when I drive) a 1994 Ford Escort, which I bought used (with 267,000 miles on it) from my nephew. I don't think making cars is a solution to any problem. But sending production to Mexico to take advantage of low wages, low benefits, and weak environmental regulations is criminal.
Detroit's Republican newspaper...
is the Detroit News. While the Free Press has the brilliant Mike Thompson, the News has two atrocious cartoonists. Here is Henry Payne's latest offering:

That one is so bad that I sent him an e-mail:

You've got to be kidding. From Harken to the election to Enron to 9/11 to the lies that got us into the Iraq war and the sweetheart deals for Halliburton and Bechtel, the Bush administration is nothing but scandals. The real scandal is that it took so long for the press to notice. Your cartoon is so far out in la-la land, you ought to be in the administration.

Novak: Serial Leakee
Dating back to at least 1975.
Billmon does a brilliant job comparing recent job news with some passages from 1984.
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose

Three more US soldiers dead, huge demonstrations in Baghdad.
It was about the oil
But they've even screwed that up. Robert Fisk reports that sabotage of pipelines in northern Iraq has slowed the flow of oil out of the country to about a fourth of what it was before the war.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator here, is "sexing up" the figures to a point where even the oilmen are shaking their heads. Take Kirkuk. Only when the television cameras capture a blown pipe, flames billowing from its wounds, do the occupation powers report sabotage.

This they did, for example, on Aug. 18. But the same Turkish pipeline has been hit before and since. It was blown up again on Sept. 17 and four times again the following day. U.S. patrols and helicopters now move along the pipeline but, in the huge ravines and tribal areas through which it passes, long sections are indefensible.

Pentagon selling bioweapon equipment
Cheap! Well, they were, over the Internet, until the GAO caught them.

"Many items needed to establish a laboratory for making biological warfare agents were being sold on the Internet to the public from DoD's excess property inventory for pennies on the dollar, making them both easy and economical to obtain," the GAO draft report said.

"As requested, GAO established a fictitious company and purchased over the Internet key excess DoD biological equipment items and related protective clothing necessary to produce and disseminate biological warfare agents."

Somehow, I'm sure that Bush will say that this justified the war. Here, I'll write the speech for him:

"We know, and the previous administration knew, that the Iraqi dictator had obtained equipment, information, and even 'starter germs' from a large country in North America over the past twenty years. This country has a long history of supplying weapons of terror to countries all over the globe. And now we find out that this same country has continued to sell equipment, at bargain prices, which can be used to make mushroom clouds of bioweapons. Over the Internet. And we have hinted all along that Iraq had ties to terrorists. Some of our friends in Europe, and even in Congress, think we should have waited for the Iraqi dictator to forward the URL of this "shopping mall of death" to these terrorists. But 9/11 changed everything. In the light of 9/11, and the brutal attacks upon this great nation of ours, I could not stand by. The Iraqi regime, which gassed its own people, will never again forward the URL's of arms merchants to terrorists. God bless America."

Monday, October 06, 2003

Bush's Bed to get a Lumpectomy
According to Opinions You Should Have.

(Note: Please come back! I know those stories are hilarious! Just remember who told you! -- Bob)
Don't mess with Texas...
They're making enough of a mess on their own. The Democrats returned from New Mexico a while back, but the Republicans can't decide on which illegal redistricting plan to go with. A deadline is approaching fast, and they may come up with nothing. Some Republitrons are now hoping the Democrats will help them out of an embarrassing situation:

Republican infighting had Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, longing for a fresh exodus. "We're just praying the Democrats will leave again, to take the heat off of us," Smithee said.

The midieval presidency
Incuriosity seems characteristic of the entire Bush administration. More, it seems central to its very operation. The administration seems indifferent to data, impervious to competing viewpoints and ideas. Policy is not adjusted to facts; facts are adjusted to policy. The result is what may be the nation's first medieval presidency — one in which reality is ignored for the administration's own prevailing vision. And just as in medieval days, this willful ignorance can lead to terrible consequences. -- From an LA Times op-ed.

I was flabbergasted that aWol could claim that David Kay's WMD report actually justified his criminal war. Even the press didn't buy it! But this is somebody who has cultivated ignorance, who revels in it. No wonder he likes Condi so much!

Read the whole op-ed; it's excellent!
George W. Bush is Kim Jong II with better hair.
Paul Begala, via BartCop.

The whole quote:

The Bush operation reminds me of North Korea. You have a group of insanely loyal, fiercely committed lunatics, devoting their lives to slavish devotion of a moron whose only claim to power is that his father used to run the country. George W. Bush is Kim Jong II with better hair.
"They're turning into a banana republic just like we are."
Argentines are experts on changing their leaders, and they suspect that California's recall election is a mistake:

"Do they really think they can solve their problems just by changing leaders? We tried that. Believe me, it didn't work," said Carlos Goleri, an insurance salesman, as he read the newspaper in a downtown Buenos Aires cafe. -- Reuters, via Polizeros.

Of course, if you get a really bad leader, things can get much worse very quickly. We know all about that.
Rice in charge? But she doesn't know anything!
Just ask her!

President Bush asserted more direct White House control over the Pentagon-run reconstruction of Iraq today, announcing that he has put national security adviser Condoleezza Rice in charge of a new authority designed to alleviate mounting criticism of the administration's postwar progress. -- Washington Post.

Judging by her public statements, Condi Rice is the stupidest of the Bushies, outside of the moron in chief himself. So this is good news and bad news. It's bad news because it reduces the already tiny probability of real success (by any reasonable standard) in Iraq. It's good news because it increases the already high probability that Bush will be tossed out of the White House next year, if not sooner.
A Kay-O Punch Delivered
to David Kay's innuendo-filled but fact-vacant WMD report by Billmon.
Congressman Conyers Calls for Special Prosecutor
Sorely missing in the myriad of public debate concerning the need for a special counsel to investigate the leaked name of a CIA operative is one simple fact: It's required by the law.

Although the independent counsel law expired in 1999, the Justice Department promulgated regulations that require the appointment of a special counsel under specified circumstances. Under the regulations, the attorney general is required to appoint a special counsel when (1) a "criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted," (2) the investigation "would present a conflict of interest for the Department" and (3) "it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside special counsel to assume responsibility."

All three factors are present here.
-- Read the rest!

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Excrement is hitting the air circulator...
with the latest suicide bombing and Israel's attack on Syria.
Charging Ashcroft with contempt...
... is like charging Jeff Gordon with speeding. But Ashcroft may actually be charged! Couldn't happen to a meaner guy. Bring 'em on!

From Jeff Stahler.

From Kevin Siers.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Another day, another lie
Wolfowitz and Cheney claimed that Iraq's oil could pay for Iraq's rebuilding, and soon. But the Pentagon knew better.
The New York Times is a WMD
Today's editorial starts off just as it should, pointing out that David Kay's report on Iraq's supposed weapons found nothing worthy of losing a minute's sleep over, much less starting a war over:

The most striking findings in David Kay's interim report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq are his revelations about the backward state of Iraq's chemical and nuclear programs. Based on the evidence gathered so far in three months of searching, it seems clear that these programs barely existed and posed no immediate threat to the global community. To the contrary, it looks as if international inspectors succeeded in reducing or eliminating Iraq's arsenals and dedicated production capacity.

It goes on in much the same vein, pointing out details from the findings that refute W's pre-war claims. So does the Times conclude by calling for a full investigation leading to impeachment and turning the whole criminal Bush gang over to the International Criminal Court? Of course not. They suggest going back and looking again, but getting the UN to do it, and pay for it. Why? To preserve Bush's popularity and to keep open the option for the next pre-emptive war:

Before approving that substantial sum, Congress may want to consider bringing back the U.N. inspectors, whose costs would be paid by the international community. The inspectors clearly did an effective job and have an immense store of data and experience. Their findings would look more credible in the eyes of the world. Still, the important thing is to finish this search, no matter who does it. There is always a chance that there really are some unconventional weapons tucked away somewhere. President Bush's job approval ratings, now plummeting in the polls, may depend in part on whether any weapons are ultimately found. More important, the nation needs to know whether its intelligence was way off the mark, making any further attempts at pre-emptive war problematic.

So to the Times, when the president has been shown to be a liar, and that he lied in order to break international law in order to get thousands of people killed, the most important thing to do is to try to cover for him so that he can break the law again.

All together now:


Of course, the Times may just be covering for their own. Judith Miller channelled for Ahmed Chalabi for months, repeating lie after unconfirmed lie about supposed stashes of WMD's all over Iraq. And William Safire insisted on repeating the story about hijacker Mohammed Atta meeting with an Iraqi agent in Prague long after the FBI and the Czechs had said that it probably never happened.

No, the course of action now is not still more inspections in order to save Bush's reputation and make another war possible. Here's the course of action that should be followed:
  1. Full withdrawal of all "coalition" forces from Iraq, beginning immediately and finishing by Christmas.
  2. Immediate investigation of the Bush administration leading to impeachment and criminal charges.
  3. Cancellation of all contracts with Halliburton, Bechtel and other war profiteers.
  4. Any further policing or assistance to Iraq to be handled strictly through the UN, with the US providing monetary assistance only.

If the cops raid your house based on false evidence, you would expect them to leave immediately as soon as the evidence was shown to be false. They have no right to stick around to see if maybe you'll beat your wife (or if she'll beat you), or if your daughter is downloading copyrighted music. They lied to get in--they should get out now. Even more so if they were private cops who had no jurisdiction over your house or neighborhood to begin with.

Iraq will still have problems, but with the U.S. gone they'll have one less. The same can be said for the U.S.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Why do blue-collar white men support Bush so strongly?
Arlie Hochschild has an interesting and quite convincing argument. Excerpt:

For anyone who stakes his pride on earning an honest day's pay, this economic fall is, unsurprisingly enough, hard to bear. How, then, do these blue-collar men feel about it? Ed Landry said he felt "numb." Others are anxious, humiliated and, as who wouldn't be, fearful. But in cultural terms, Nascar Dad isn't supposed to feel afraid. What he can feel though is angry. As Susan Faludi has described so well in her book Stiffed, that is what many such men feel. As a friend who works in a Maine lumber mill among blue-collar Republicans explained about his co-workers, "They felt that everyone else -- women, kids, minorities -- were all moving up, and they felt like they were moving down. Even the spotted owl seemed like it was on its way up, while he and his job, were on the way down. And he's angry."

But is that anger directed downward -- at "welfare cheats," women, gays, blacks, and immigrants -- or is it aimed up at job exporters and rich tax dodgers? Or out at alien enemies? The answer is likely to depend on the political turn of the screw. The Republicans are clearly doing all they can to aim that anger down or out, but in any case away from the rich beneficiaries of Bush's tax cut. Unhinging the personal from the political, playing on identity politics, Republican strategists have offered the blue-collar voter a Faustian bargain: We'll lift your self-respect by putting down women, minorities, immigrants, even those spotted owls. We'll honor the manly fortitude you've shown in taking bad news. But (and this is implicit) don't ask us to do anything to change that bad news. Instead of Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake," we have -- and this is Bush's twist on the old Nixonian strategy -- "let them eat war."

Happy Birthday, Jimmy Carter!
I'm watching the Braves-Cubs game on ESPN, and the announcer wishes JC a belated happy birthday (it was Wednesday). The announcer mentioned the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

I guess ESPN is trying to make up for having Rush Limbaugh on their payroll for four weeks.
Ira Chemus wonders why some things become scandals, and others don't. He points out that the Wilson-Plame affair is overshadowing the much more important debate over spending $87 billion so that Americans and Iraqis can continue to die. Even in that now-obscured debate, the argument over the $20 billion to rebuild Iraq is getting more attention than the $67 billion to keep the stupid war going. And meanwhile, the military is planning to put nukes in space, and there's no apparent scandal at all.
Sweet Home Alabama
As a former resident of Montgomery, I like to check up on what's happening in the "Heart of Dixie" from time to time. Well, things ain't good, y'all, and they're fixin' to get worse. Atrios directed me to War Liberal's Alabama page, which is busy reporting all of the cuts being made since voters turned down Republican Gov. Bob Riley's tax increase on September 9. Not to worry, there's still money for everything except schools, prisons, police, fire fighters, and everything else.

Meanwhile, the Army is burning chemical weapons in Anniston and is planning to check the effect on air quality in a couple of months. And the University of Alabama-Birmingham is busy developing biological weapons (okay, the cover story is that they're studying how to defend against bioweapons). Anyhow, you can read it and weep at War Liberal's Alabama page.
Some good local news
Bicycling options in my area have improved in recent months. The busy street that I take to go downtown, Pontiac Trail, has had bike lanes added. A new paved bike path has been constructed in Bandemer Park just across the river, and will be extended down to the Argo Dam. The top of the dam itself is being modified so it can be used (legally) as a pedestrian and bike bridge across the river. And paved shoulders have been added to Whitmore Lake Road, a pleasant country road heading north out of Ann Arbor. In addition, the city and neighboring townships have proposed a greenbelt initiative which will involve PDR's--the purchase of development rights. By buying the right to develop their land as subdivisions or shopping centers or whatever from farmers, PDR's guarantee that the land will remain undeveloped. The amount of development in Washtenaw County in the past several years has been frightening, and the traffic on formerly country roads has increased dramatically. Hopefully this will stem the tide. If you're in Ann Arbor, be sure to vote for the greenbelt in November!

We return you now to your regularly scheduled programming.
Just say something ridiculous, and the Times will change the headline
That's the lesson Bush has learned. David Kay's report pretty much cut the last remaining flamingo leg on W's lame excuses for his war of choice. But aWol goes out and lies louder, claiming the report actually vindicates him, and the NY Times gives it the headline: Bush Cites Parts of Arms Report to Justify U.S. Action in Iraq.
There goes my membership in the Bob's club...
My friend Jerri just sent me this e-mail:

Bob .... We need to get Bob Novak fired. Did you just hear him on CNN (Inside Politics) continuing to slander (right word?) Wilson and his wife with aspersions of dishonesty and extreme partisanship. We need a huge writing/calling campaign to CNN: Novak has contradicted himself re how he was given the info on Plame and he has gone on a mission to discredit Wilson and his wife. He should be permitted on CNN as a rightwing pundit only, certainly not a 'journalist' and a credible commentator.

Bob .... you know lots of people and do such a good job of getting me and others motivated. You can do it!!!! I'll help ... let's get him fired, or at least do our best.

I get almost all of my news from the Internet and only watch TV news once a month or so, and then only to see how they're covering a story, not to learn about the story. So I can't comment much on Bob Novak--but Jerri can! Here's a copy of the e-mail she sent to CNN:

Bob Novak does not belong on a credible news station. He has become an arm of the cover-up for and by this administration. His comments on tonight's "Inside Edition" were way beyond what might pass for credible commentary. He is on a mission to discredit Joe Wilson and his wife; if you must continue to use him, he should only be used as a rightwing pundit and not a 'journalist' or objective commentator.

In addition, his story has changed re how he learned about Wilson's wife's employment. Initially he spoke/wrote about being cold-called but recently he has changed his story and tried to suggest that he got the info in response to a question of his.

This will all come out eventually and Novak and CNN will not be the better for having hidden the truth.

Why not join Jerri in trying to get Novak fired? Tell 'em you want Rove, and Rummy and Rice and Dummy fired too!
What sort of question is that?
CNN has an online poll asking this question: "Do the allegations that surfaced this week about Arnold Schwarzenegger change your opinion of him?"

Not really. I thought he was a big sexist dummy all along.
Hitting Rush while he's down
In a compassionate society, people respect one another and they take responsibility for the decisions they make. The culture of America is changing from one that has said, if it feels good, just go ahead and do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else, to a new culture, in which each of us understands that we are responsible for the decisions we make in life. -- aWol in his ridiculous fundraising speech in Wisconsin today.

Here's some more quotes which demonstrate that Bush's advisors never tell him...the REST of the story:

Fifty-million people, fifty-million people in those two countries once lived under tyranny, and, today, they live in freedom.

No, dimwit. Occupied nations are never free, even if the occupiers are doing a good job.

Two-and-a-half years ago, we inherited an economy in recession. And then we had the attacks on our country, coupled with the march to war, and corporate scandals. All of those events affected the confidence of the American people. But we acted. We passed tough laws to hold corporate criminals to account. And to get the economy going, I have twice led the United States Congress to pass historic tax relief for the American people. We believe and know that when people have more money in their pocket, more money to spend, to save, or invest, the whole economy grows, and someone is more likely to find a job.

Notice the slight-of-hand: he mentions tax cuts, and then suggests that when people have more money in their pocket the economy grows. Just like Iraq and al Qaeda, suggesting a connection where none exists. Most people have less money in their pocket than they did two-and-a-half years ago, and it's harder to find a job.

We passed, with the Congress, much needed spending discipline. We passed budget agreements to help hold the line on spending.

Does he believe any of this crap? He wants $87 billion to "rebuild" Iraq after spending $75 billion to destroy it, using no-bid cost-plus contracts given to major Republican donors. This is discipline?

We need to focus on results, not politics. And those are the kind of people I've surrounded myself with in Washington. I've put together a fantastic administration for the American people.

So where are they?


From Doonesbury.
Stupid is as stupid watches


Bob's Links and Rants readers didn't make the chart, since they all know both statements are false.
So what's that briefcase all about, aWol?
"Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction." -- aWol this morning, according to Atrios.

So let's see: A recent report from David Kay indicates that Iraq had no WMD's. This finding is supported by four months of UN inspections. Meanwhile, the US possesses thousands of nuclear warheads and the missiles to deliver them, as well as tons of chemical weapons, and most likely plenty of biological weapons. Not only that, the Bush administration has openly pushed for developing new nuclear weapons.

Only possible conclusion based on W's statement: While Iraq under Saddam might possibly have been a free nation, the US definitely is not.
Failure on all fronts
I'm still irked anytime I read anybody giving Bush credit for ANYTHING, even if they're being generally critical. As far as I'm concerned, he deserves blame, and lots of it, for 9/11 and how he responded to it. He basically reacted to the killing of thousands of innocent people by killing thousands of innocent people, and spreading fear around the globe. He is a complete and total failure. Fortunately, this is gradually becoming a fairly common opinion. Two columnists at the NY Times have been excellent in making the case, and they do so again today:

Iraq is proving to be a bonanza for the Bush administration's corporate cronies even as it is threatening to become a sinkhole for the aspirations of ordinary Americans.

The vicious release to news organizations of the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer could serve as a case study of the character of this administration. The Bush II crowd is arrogant, venal, mean-spirited and contemptuous of law and custom.
Americans are increasingly asking what went wrong. How could so much have gone sour in such a short period of time? Was it incompetence? Bad faith? Loud warnings were ignored for the longest time. Now, finally, the truth is becoming more and more difficult to avoid.
-- Bob Herbert.

But the true test of patriotism isn't whether you are willing to wave the flag, or agree with whatever the president says. It's whether you are willing to take risks and make sacrifices, including political sacrifices, for the sake of your country. This episode is a test for Mr. Bush and his inner circle: a true patriot wouldn't hesitate about doing the right thing in the Plame affair, whatever the political costs.

Mr. Bush is failing that test.
-- Paul Krugman.

I'm hoping the reaction against the venality and stupidity of the Bushies will extend to the corporate-run system that made them possible. Hopefully the public will start to see that the corporate policies of Clinton helped to make Bush II possible, and that we need to go past Clinton-like candidates whose main claim to rationality is having sort-of opposed an extremely stupid and illegal war (I speak of Dean and Clark). Getting rid of Bush will be a great thing, but fixing the system that made Bush possible is critical if we're to have any real hope for the future besides Jeb 2008. Dean and Clark want to work with (for) the corporations; Kucinich wants to reign them in and get them out of places they don't belong, like health care and Iraq. He supports instant-runoff voting, which will mean we could vote for our favorite candidate without worrying about helping our least favorite.
Don't confuse me with the facts...
Bush continues to defend his Iraq war.
Christmas for Liberals!
As Billmon says. Wilsongate is taking off. Rush Limbaugh resigned from ESPN's football show and is now in trouble for alleged drug use. Arnold is apologizing for being a sexist pig, without mentioning that he's also a Nazi sympathizer. And nobody seems to trust Bush anymore!

I love the smell of impeachment in the morning.
Surprise! No WMD's!
David Kay finally gave a report to Congress on his search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He found NO WEAPONS (hint to David--check the US armories for cluster bombs, depleted uranium, napalm, etc.). This was the lead story for a while last night on the CNN web site, but now it's just a minor headline, having been overshadowed by the Gropinator. CNN seems to be attempting to go along with Kay in downplaying what should be the main point here, which is that THERE WERE NO WEAPONS and Bush and his minions were lying up a storm.

The New York Times gives a more appropriate spin:

The preliminary report delivered on Thursday by the chief arms inspector in Iraq forces the Bush administration to come face to face with this reality: that Saddam Hussein's armory appears to have been stuffed with precursors, potential weapons and bluffs, but that nothing found so far backs up administration claims that Mr. Hussein posed an imminent threat to the world.

In public, President Bush says that is not the issue. What should make a difference to Americans, and to the world, he says, is that Mr. Hussein is gone and Iraq is free. "One thing is for certain," Mr. Bush argued last month at a fund-raiser, using a line he repeats often these days. "Terrorist groups will not ever be able to get weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because Saddam Hussein is no more."

But in private, Mr. Bush's political aides concede that it does matter, and it may matter more as the politics of running for president collide with the realities of containing the chaos in occupied Iraq.

Of course, the Times persists in hypocrisy:

In retrospect, warning signs were evident well before the war began.

The Times knew this, but they continued to publish the lies of reporter Judith Miller which helped convince the public that Iraq did possess weapons.

The Washington Post similarly spins the story as bad news for Bush, including these quotes from Senators:

"I'm not pleased by what I heard today," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who has been supportive of the administration and the CIA. Roberts said he believes some of the raw intelligence did not support the administration's prewar statements about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and called some of the claims "sloppy."

"There's enough . . . to make me believe our intelligence was badly flawed," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said as she exited the three-hour meeting.

(BTW, that "D" after Feinstein's name is clearly a mistake. She voted for the Iraq war, and expressed no doubt in her reasoning: "I could not escape the fact that Hussein possesses and manufactures biological and chemical weapons, has used those chemical weapons, and, unless stopped, will most certainly use them again." And Hillary Clinton was just as bad: "The only way to change this is for Saddam Hussein to disarm, and I don't think he will. We are in a very difficult position right now. I'd love to agree with you, but I can't.")

In any case, a very interesting development. While I'm sure most people reading this have believed for quite a while that there were no significant WMD's in Iraq, Kay's report now seems to give the go ahead for congress and the press to say so.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

From Kevin Siers.
Can you think of a better way to spend $87 billion?
U.S. troops are suffering an average of three to six deaths and 40 wounded every week, the commander of American forces in Iraq said Thursday. -- Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of American forces in Iraq.

Don't worry, troops, Congress is about to okay the funding to keep you there even longer, so you can stop wondering when you'll ever come home. You won't.
Ashcroft favors a special prosecutor...
or at least he did back in 1997. Of course back then he supported protecting civil liberties, too.
Fear, Debt and War...
is a positive issue agenda? Republicans are frigging insane:

In a memorandum distributed Wednesday to Republicans on Capitol Hill, the Republican National Committee suggested that the party strike back at Democrats. "Lacking a positive issue agenda to offer the American people, the Democratic Party now returns to what they have long seen as their best opportunity to defeat President Bush and Republicans — scandalmongering," the memo said. House Republicans distributed white paper bags with the label "Leak hyperventilation bag," saying they might come in handy for Democrats who were having trouble catching their breath over the subject. -- NY Times

To steal a line from Tom Tomorrow: I think that Republicans are now objectively pro-treason.

Bush wants to spend another $600 million...
looking for phantoms of lost weaponry.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

This is what editorials are supposed to look like:

The Justice Department has responded affirmatively to Tenet's request for an investigation. But get this: When Justice informed the White House of the investigation Monday evening, it said it would be all right if the staff was notified Tuesday morning to safeguard all material that related to the case. The staff had all night to get rid of anything incriminating.

That incredible tidbit supports calls by Democrats and a slew of others for Attorney General John Ashcroft to appoint a special counsel to investigate this case. They're right: Ashcroft has no credibility in this, and neither does the White House, given its habitual effort to spin information, mislead the American people and smear anyone who disagrees with it. This developing scandal ultimately goes to the even more serious question of administration manipulation of intelligence on Iraq, where American soldiers continue to die almost every day in a campaign that looks increasingly like a bad mistake.
-- conclusion of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's editorial today.

Another soldier killed...
And the NY Times continues to low-ball the death count:
The death of the woman, whose name was withheld, brought to 88 the number of American soldiers killed by hostile fire since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations May 1.

The actual death toll among US soldiers is now well over 300, but the Times just reports those killed by hostile fire since May 1. Many have been killed in accidents which are attributable to driving too fast in order to avoid hostile fire. All 300 plus, along with the 1500 or so wounded, were relatively young, healthy people when they left on this criminal mission. Their deaths and wounds, ALL OF THEM, are on George Bush's already bloody hands.
Israel to expand wall
The wall will move well into the West Bank to include the Israeli settlement of Ariel. Stealing more land is NOT the answer to security for Israel.
A reminder
The supposed existence of weapons of mass destruction was the MAIN reason given in the Congressional resolution on use of force in October 2002. Here's one paragraph from that resolution:

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations.

Pretty much everything in this paragraph is now known to have been false at the time it was written. Furthermore, there were people in the administration who knew that it was false (Colin Powell, for example). Most of the other paragraphs in the resolution cite WMD's as well. These weren't mistakes or oversights; these were lies told intentionally to take us to war, and they have led to thousands (probably tens of thousands) of deaths. It looks like it's going to bankrupt this country for decades, and offers only the remotest possibility of ever improving things in Iraq.

The outrageous request for $87 billion ADDITIONAL funding for this ongoing crime included $100 million for "five hundred experts, at $200,000 each, to investigate crimes against humanity."

Send them to the White House, to the Pentagon, and to Congress. That's where the crimes against humanity were committed.
Quote du jour
As you may have heard, the U.S. is putting together a constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? Think about it -- it was written by very smart people, it's served us well for over two hundred years, and
besides, we're not using it anymore.
-- Jay Leno


Another law they've broken
The military was supposed to do pre-deployment medical screenings of all troops sent to the Gulf. For the most part, they didn't.

This is very important to the troops. If they had had the pre-deployment screenings and then come back, like a couple of hundred thousand did from Gulf War I, with mysterious illnesses, they could have used the screenings to prove that the illnesses were likely a result of the deployment, thereby qualifying them for compensation from the government for medical expenses and the like.

I swear, no one supports the troops LESS than do the Bushies.
Maybe Bush should be glad this scandal came up...
Since FOUR US soldiers died yesterday--one in Afghanistan and three in Iraq. The one in Afghanistan is the only one I saw headlines for on the major news web sites (NY Times, Washington Post and CNN are the ones I look at regularly).

Four dead in Bushistan: How many more?

Doonesbury finally gets off his Dean kick, and picks up with Clark. C'mon, Gary--you know Kucinich is the best!

Still, I like this one!