Bob's Links and Rants
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:
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)
Another day, another dead soldier
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.]


From Kirk Anderson.
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.

From Gary Markstein.

From Jeff Danziger.
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.

Powered by Blogger