Bob's Links and Rants
Saturday, November 01, 2003
 
39 New Wal-Marts
Just another example that crime pays. Wal-Mart opened 29 "supercenters" and ten of its regular "discount" stores on Wednesday.

Wal-Mart has bent or broken every rule and principle of fair play in order to provide dirt-cheap prices, not to mention a lot of laws. People who shop there are supporting sweat-shop labor, the destruction of labor unions, the destruction of downtowns, and the destruction of local business. Wal-Marts generally have a negative impact on jobs as well, since the stores they put out of business with their ill-gotten low prices generally employed more workers than Wal-Mart does.
 
Two more soldiers killed
 
Bloomberg Proposes Non-Partisan Elections
New York's Democrat-turned-Republican mayor is pushing (even funding) a proposal to replace party primaries with a two-tiered election scheme: A September primary open to all candidates, with the top two vote-getters facing off in the November election. The NY Times discusses the history of the party system (mostly Democratic) in New York, but doesn't bother to mention what races would be affected. I'm guessing that mayoral, city council, and maybe some other city-wide elected posts would fall under this; the city probably doesn't have jurisdiction over state legislature or US congressional elections.

This may just be an attempt by Bloomberg to dismantle the powerful Democratic party apparatus in New York, but in theory it seems like a big step in the right direction. If they would incorporate instant runoff voting in the September primary it would bring the city much closer to true representative government. I can certainly see the chance for abuse in the way it is currently described: two well-funded Republicans (Bloomberg and Giuliani, say) could claim the top two spots in the primary, guaranteeing a Republican victory.
 

From Steve Sack.
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.
 
Growth?
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.
 

From Kirk Anderson.
 
Interesting
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.
 
Dean?
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!
Here.
 

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
Email: a2openspace@provide.net

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 kucinich.us.

 
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.



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.)

[Update]
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 second...how'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
 
Finally!


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.

 
Neo-clown
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.

(APPLAUSE)

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...

(LAUGHTER)

... 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.

(APPLAUSE)

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.

(APPLAUSE)

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.

(APPLAUSE)

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.

(APPLAUSE)

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...
(APPLAUSE)
... 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.
(LAUGHTER)
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...
(APPLAUSE)
... 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.
(APPLAUSE)
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.

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