Bob's Links and Rants
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.

From Mike Thompson.
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.”

Tell Congress:
Vote NO on the $87 billion!
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.

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