Bob's Links and Rants

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Sunday, November 30, 2003

Bloodbath in Samarra
The BBC reports that several innocent bystanders were shot by US tanks responding to an attempted ambush of their convoy.

The US military has reported killing 46 militants and wounding 18 in clashes in the central Iraqi city of Samarra. Five US soldiers and a civilian were wounded in the fighting which raged as militants made a series of attacks on convoys in the city on Sunday.

But witnesses said a US tank had fired indiscriminately during the fighting, killing at least two factory-workers.
Frightened witnesses in Samarra told a correspondent for the French news agency AFP who managed to enter the city that US forces had repeatedly come under attack on Sunday.

However, they added that, in the aftermath of one attack at about 1255 (0955 GMT), an American tank had opened fire on workers leaving a factory at the end of their shift, killing two and wounding "many".

"We're sending a clear message that anyone who attempts to attack our convoys will pay the price," the [US military] spokesman said.

Actually, it sounds like the military has decided to go with Trent Lott's suggestion from October: “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.”

November saw the most coalition casualties of any month in the war, and today was apparently the deadliest single for Iraqis since "major combat operations" ended. I'm afraid that December will break both records. The article reports that there were seven Spaniards, two Japanese, two South Koreans and a Colombian killed in Iraq this weekend.

[Update] The Washington Post doesn't mention the factory workers, only that
American military officials said they had no information about any possible Iraqi civilian casualties.
Quote du Jour
He's just as much of an ass in Baghdad as he is in Washington. -- from Baghdad Burning.


New Kucinich poster from George Lois

Read more about it here.
Good Doonesbury today
And Mr. President? It was the Marlins over the Yankees in six.
Two more killed, one more wounded
I saw several headlines yesterday saying "deadliest month comes to an end" and kept thinking they were being a bit premature. Unfortunately, I was right.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

It's the end of the world as we know it
Global warming will melt glaciers and deny billions access to fresh water. Meanwhile, the moron-in-chief continues to fight wars so he can control the world's remaining fossil fuels so his friends can burn them and guarantee that the global warming happens.
Support Striking Borders Workers!
United Students Against Sweatshops makes it easy.
Seven Spanish Spies Killed in Iraq
I'll bet they're really glad they joined the Coalition of the Dying now.
Dear George:
Regarding what you said in your weekly radio address: "I'm pleased to report back from the front lines that our troops are strong, morale is high and our military is confident we will prevail."

Baghdad Airport is NOT the front lines, especially when you sneak in and out under cover of darkness. Hop into a Humvee and take a trip through Tikrit and on to Mosul, taking a Black Hawk to Fallujah and Ramadi on the way back, if you make it that far. Then maybe you can talk about front lines and troop morale. Go on. We won't miss you.

With the utmost disrespect and scorn, yours truly,

Get a life, people!

Okay, this is my second Wal-Mart diatribe of the day, prompted by this article:

A mob of shoppers rushing for a sale on DVD players trampled the first woman in line and knocked her unconscious as they scrambled for the shelves at a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Patricia VanLester had her eye on a $29 DVD player, but when the siren blared at 6 a.m. Friday announcing the start to the post-Thanksgiving sale, the 41-year-old was knocked to the ground by the frenzy of shoppers behind her.

"She got pushed down, and they walked over her like a herd of elephants," said VanLester's sister, Linda Ellzey. "I told them, 'Stop stepping on my sister! She's on the ground!"' Ellzey said some shoppers tried to help VanLester, and one employee helped Ellzey reach her sister, but most people just continued their rush for deals.

"All they cared about was a stupid DVD player," she said Saturday.

Yeah? What the heck were you and your sister doing there, Ms. Ellzey? By shopping at Wal-Mart, you were helping it to trample its own workers, downtowns, sweatshop workers, and every other retail store in the country. Still, people are willing to line up at 5 am and trample other customers, just to feed the beast. Learn more about the Beast of Bentonville at Wal-Mart Watch.
Evidence indicates that Wellstone crash was no accident
From an op-ed in the Duluth News Tribune by Jim Fetzer, via Cyndy at MouseMusings.

For nearly a year now, evidence has been accumulating about the event that ended the life of this magnificent human being. Whatever caused the crash was not the plane, the pilots or the weather. In spite of what you may have heard, the plane was exceptional, the pilots well-qualified and the weather posed no significant problems. Even the National Transportation Safety Board's own simulations of the plane, the pilots and the weather were unable to bring the plane down.

This means we have to consider other, less palatable, alternatives, such as small bombs, gas canisters or electromagnetic pulse, radio frequency or High Energy Radio Frequency weapons designed to overwhelm electrical circuitry with an intense electromagnetic field
The politics of the situation were astonishing. The senator was pulling away from the hand-picked candidate of the Bush machine. Its opportunity to seize control of the U.S. Senate was slipping from its grasp. Its vaunted "invincibility" was being challenged by an outspoken critic of its most basic values. Targeted for elimination, he was going to survive. Here's one man's opinion: Under such conditions, the temptation to take him out may have been irresistible.

I had my suspicions immediately after the crash, and what I've learned about the government investigation hasn't allayed them in the least. For the second time in two years, a Democratic senatorial candidate, ahead in the polls, died in a mysterious plane crash shortly before the election. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush have shown again and again that they have no scruples whatsoever; why would they stop short of murder?
You're Killing Us, People
Wal-Mart: Black Friday sales hit record. Stupid consumers vote for low wages, sweatshops, and the race to the bottom. Wal-Mart is a much bigger threat to our future than Osama or Saddam ever were. But people don't care, as long as there's lots of crap under the tree, much of it (the packaging) heading straight for a strained landfill near you, while the rest will get there soon.

How utterly depressing.
Apparently the Democrats won't serve as an opposition party... the right will have to do it themselves. The interventionist foreign policy and big-spending, intrusive domestic policy already have libertarians looking for someplace to go (browse around at the Cato Institute's web site for a taste of the libertarian viewpoint). And cracks are starting to appear within the gospel of neoconservatism. Note this fine article from the Weekly Standard about the stupid "We'd rather fight terrorists in Tikrit than in Topeka" line:

The first, is that we're not altogether sure we are fighting terrorists, in the al-Qaeda sense of the word. As Newsweek recently reported in a piece entitled "War In the Dark," "what the Americans don't know is who, exactly, they're fighting." In a week in which four suicide-bombing attacks in Baghdad killed more than 30 people, one general told reporters "that the attacks were the work of 'foreign fighters.' Yet just 24 hours earlier his division commander . . . told a news conference that he had not seen 'any infusion of foreign fighters in Baghdad.'" A recent Washington Post story reported that at one Baghdad briefing, the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, in the dark himself as to the identity of the guerillas, said that 90 percent of the fighters the U.S. had killed or captured were Hussein loyalists or Iraqi religious militants--and only 10 percent were freelancers from abroad. Meaning that, according to his calculations, there's a decent chance that if we weren't fighting these particular terrorists in Babylon, we wouldn't be fighting them in Bakersfield.

The second thing to remember, for most of the people declaring where they'd rather fight the terrorists, is that they are not personally doing much of the fighting. Who's to say if you were coming up on the 11th month of your deployment in a hostile country where the natives, instead of showing gratitude, showed you the business-end of an RPG-launcher, that you might not enjoy fighting the terrorists in a place where you could claim home-field advantage, have a warm bed, a cold beer, and the occasional conjugal visit from a woman whose name you could pronounce.

For it is the luxury of those who talk about fighting, rather than of those who fight, to dispense smiley faces and silver linings. In the November 24th New Yorker, in a piece entitled "War After the War--What Washington Doesn't See in Iraq," George Packer writes in a painful reminder from Baghdad, "All the soldiers suffer from the stress of heat, long days, lack of sleep, homesickness, the constant threat of attack . . . and the simple fact that there are nowhere near enough of them to do the tasks they've been given."

Not to mention the fact that nearly 200 of them have been killed since major combat operations ended. Fight the terrorists where you will. But it's probably best to avoid diminishing the sacrifice of soldiers, by burying them with respectful silence, rather than with idiotic clichés.

The Weekly Standard is one of the core neocon publications, and even they're getting antsy about their handiwork. The right is ripe for being picked apart; we shouldn't settle for Democrats who agrees with 60 or 75% of their agenda. Neocon policies like endless war, environmental destruction, "free" trade and repressive government don't need to be tweaked or modified--they need to be eliminated and replaced with policies which protect the planet and the living things on it.

There's a double problem with having had so many Democrats support so much of the insane Bush agenda. Not only are we stuck with the wars, tax cuts, Patriot Acts and so on, but those same Democrats are reluctant to point out the failures because of their complicity in them. Somehow we need to so discredit the Iraq war in the minds of the vast majority of the public that NO ONE, in Congress or the White House, who voted for that war has any chance for re-election (or promotion, in the case of Lieberman, Edwards, Kerry and Gephardt). It sure would be nice if the war could be discredited based on the abundant evidence that it was based on lies, rather than on the deaths of hundreds or thousands of more soldiers.
In your dreams, aWol
Juan Cole compares how the neoconvicts must have envisioned aWol's triumphant entry into Baghdad with the fly-by-night reality.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Book Review
I just finished reading an incredible book: Greener Than You Think, by Ward Moore. I read a review somewhere (can't find it now) which compares it to Vonnegut. I'd add in quite a bit of George Orwell. It was written around the same time as 1984 (published 1947), and is pretty hard to find. Neither the Ann Arbor nor UM libraries have it, but I was able to get it from the Ecorse(!) Michigan library via the Michigan Interlibrary Exchange. Used copies were also available at several used-book stores around the country. The copy I got from Ecorse was a 1985 edition, published as part of a "Classics of Modern Science Fiction" collection. It looked as though it had never been checked out before.

In any case, the book is amazing. I'll try to tell you about it without ruining it for you. The book is written in the first person, that person being one Albert Weener, a none-too-successful salesman who has a tendency to overestimate his limited skills. He answers an ad in the paper from a woman looking for a sales representative for her not-quite-perfected miracle plant-growth product. Since she hopes the product, which appears to do some sort of genetic engineering, will vastly improve the yields of grass-family food crops such as corn and wheat, she asks Weener to try and sell it to some farmers in the San Fernando Valley. Lacking bus fare to get there, Weener instead tries to sell the stuff door-to-door in Hollywood as a lawn fertilizer. Finally making a sale, he ignores the instructions for the application of the miracle product. By the next day, a nearly dead Bermuda grass lawn has become a lush, impenetrable jungle. Defeating all attempts to mow it, poison it, or burn it, the lawn grows completely out of control, taking over most of Hollywood within a few weeks.

Anyway, that's just the first 40 pages or so; the story goes WAY beyond that. The most interesting part, I guess, is the weird insight into the character of Albert Weener. Though a hodge-podge of faults, he almost universally sees himself as faultless and in no way responsible for the many calamaties he causes. (Remind you of someone?) The book gets pretty self-referential at times, especially when Weener is describing what a fine writer he is, using a particularly awful sample as an example. (A little inconsistent, because the text, supposedly written by Weener himself--his writing of it is described near the end--is much better-written than the sample he presents.) In any case, you could easily see the book as an "unwitting" indictment of arrogant American capitalist types. I say "unwitting" in terms of supposed author Albert Weener, who never has a harsh word for himself. Real author Ward Moore of course knew he was writing an indictment of sorts, but he anticipated my easy identification of the defendant and refutes it. Right at the start of the first chapter, before the story starts, he put this note:

Neither the vegetation or people in this book are entirely fictitious. But, reader, no person pictured here is you. With one exception. You, Sir, Miss, or Madam--whatever your country or station--are Albert Weener. As I am Albert Weener.

Okay, you're probably totally confused now. Read the book! You can probably get it one way or another through your local library or used book shop. Just don't get it through Amazon until the Borders' strike is settled.

You may be wondering what possessed me to go hunting for a 56-year-old sci-fi book in the first place. Greener Than You Think was given a rave review in another fine book: Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster by Mike Davis. I started reading that book when the LA fires were going on. Very interesting stuff. And that book is easy to find.
Holiday Crapathon Starts in Earnest

Unfortunately, many people chose not to observe Buy Nothing Day. The planet mourns.
Georgia on my mind
On Wednesday, I discussed the recent regime change in the former Soviet republic of Georgia (not to confused with the former Confederate state of Georgia, except for comic effect). I quoted at length from a Monday article by Mark MacKinnon in the Canadian paper the Globe and Mail. The gist of the article was that the replacement of Eduard Shevardnadze's regime with that of Mikhail Saakashvili had lots of Bush empire fingerprints on it, including those of the master of the coup, James Baker.

But on Wednesday, MacKinnon reported that billionaire financier George Soros may have been the driving force behind the coup or whatever it was. Soros recently made headlines by making a $5 million contribution to and vowing to contribute substantially more of his huge fortune to the defeat of aWol in 2004.

Unfortunately, MacKinnon doesn't even attempt to reconcile the apparent discrepancy between his two reports. Was Soros working with the same Bushies he's trying to run out of office? Or was the first article simply incorrect? I did a quick Google search trying to find further explanation, without luck so far. Let me know if you see something interesting related to this.
Bush sneaks in, sneaks out, but soldiers keep dying
AWol's two-and-a-half hour stealth visit to Iraq is over, but for many Americans currently in Iraq, they only get to come home in "transfer tubes." Another one got his ticket in Mosul today.

And here's a big surprise: aWol says his visit was "the right thing to do."

"This was the best way to thank them," he said.

NO, moron. The best way to thank them would have been for you to stay there, and let the troops fly home on Air Force One. From aWol's comments in the article, it sounds like the trip made him even more insufferably smug than ever, if that was possible.

In case you think he may have done this out of the goodness of his heart (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!), consider these quotes:

[Bush] said he "was the biggest skeptic of all" about the trip, but "our planners worked hard to answer all the questions -- and I had a lot of questions."

"I think Americans understand that we have a bunch of kids in harm's way, and that a president -- if it can be done safely -- owes an explanation of thanks and thanksgiving to these kids," he said.
"I understood the consequences and risks. And over time, I was assured by our planners and, as importantly, our military people and the pilot here of this airplane that the risk could be minimized if we kept the trip quiet," he said.

"I was fully prepared to turn this plane around."

In other words, Karl Rove told him he had to go if he wanted to keep his re-selection hopes alive, but Bush still had to be absolutely convinced that he himself was not in harm's way. And "owes an explanation of thanks and thanksgiving?" Did the idiot-in-chief mean, maybe, an "expression of thanks" instead? I mean, he certainly owes them an explanation, but not the usual BS about pilgrims and Indians. (See Pen-Elayne's post which links to several good articles about the real story of the pilgrims and the Native Americans.)

Kucinich coming to Ann Arbor

Will join picket line at Borders.
Dennis Kucinich is tentatively scheduled to be in Ann Arbor next Thursday, December 4, from 12 to 1 pm. The plan at the moment is to start with a rally, hopefully on the Diag, and then proceed to Liberty Street to join the picket line at Borders. Please tell everyone in the Ann Arbor area to come out and show support for the best presidential candidate and the striking workers.
Don't Forget! Today is:

(Hopefully you haven't already been out storming doors since 6 am. If so, stop listening to your TV's!)

Thursday, November 27, 2003

A Note of Clarification
Elayne Riggs of Pen-Elayne was concerned that I only added her to my blogroll as a temporary replacement for Atrios. While the same issue, the Borders strike (Atrios ignoring the issue while continuing to link to Amazon; Elayne supporting my complaints about it), precipitated my actions, I have assured her that her blog deserves to be on the roll and will remain there.

From Chuck Asay. I don't know if Asay is turning liberal or what. He has drawn some of the most obnoxious pro-Bush, pro-war cartoons I've seen since I've started browsing Slate's cartoon pages. But a couple of weeks ago he actually blasted Republicans for their big-spending ways, and now he's blasting US immigration policy with this cartoon. Could he be a wingnut with integrity?

From Matt Davies.

From Ann Telnaes.

From Mike Thompson.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The U.S. military on Wednesday arrested a wife and a daughter of a top Saddam Hussein deputy suspected of leading the anti-American insurgency.
MacDonald gave no details on why the wife and daughter were seized, but American forces have frequently arrested relatives of fugitives to interrogate them on their family member's whereabouts and as a way of putting pressure on the wanted men to surrender.

The media director of the Amnesty International USA, Alistair Hodgett, questioned the tactic, saying if the women were arrested to pressure al-Douri to turn himself in, they were being used as "bargaining chips.''
-- AP

Billmon points out:
Would it have killed the AP to maybe just mention -- suitably buried somewhere down near the end of the story -- that taking hostages is, technically speaking, forbidden by the Geneva Convention?

The whole business really bothers me--a lot. If you've ever read some of the history of World War II, you know that millions of people in Europe (and elsewhere) were caught between armies and loyalties. The Ukraine, for instance, had experienced some of the most brutal of Stalin's purges during the 1930's. When the Germans and their axis allies invaded in 1941, many Ukrainians greeted them as liberators, while others remained loyal to the Soviet Union and resisted. Probably the majority of the population had little use for either Nazis or Soviets, just wishing to be left alone. Unfortunately, both sides tended to think like Bush does: you're either for us or against us. Being loyal to whoever controlled your territory for the moment could buy you some little bit of security, although you could still be killed by those who considered you a traitor or collaborator. This all could change daily with the fortunes of war, and it did in some areas. To me, this is one of the cruelest things war does to people: it requires them to choose sides, even to the point of turning on their own friends or relatives, and either when neither side is entitled to their loyalty (as is pretty clearly the case in Iraq; the moral high ground stays unoccupied while the Saddamists and the Bushists are wallowing in the evil mud).

I was rewatching Band of Brothers, the HBO/Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg production about the experiences of the Airborne Easy Company from D-Day through VE day in 1944-45. One segment shows the troops liberating a town in Holland. While most of the townsfolk are celebrating and welcoming the American soldiers, others are dragging out women who had slept with the Germans and shaving their heads in order to humiliate them. I'm sure many families were faced with shortages and potential starvation under German occupation, and many of these women slept with the Germans in order to get additional rations for their families. War forces people into impossible choices, even worse, in my opinion, than does a simple totalitarian system. To me, that is why anyone who starts a war by choice is probably the worst type of criminal there is. Perhaps George W. Bush should have his head shaved and be forced to walk the streets of Iraq, and face the jeers of those whose lives he has ruined.
Yet another Bush failing his way to wealth and power
Neil Bush, brother of aWol and veteran of many scandals, is going through a messy divorce. Just as aWol got richer as the companies he was involved with got broker, thanks to his daddy being vice president and then president, Neil seems to be cashing in on having a brother in the White House.

According to legal documents disclosed today, Sharon Bush's lawyers questioned Neil Bush closely about the deals, especially a contract with Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., a firm backed by Jiang Mianheng, the son of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, that would pay him $2 million in stock over five years.

Marshall Davis Brown, lawyer for Sharon Bush, expressed bewilderment at why Grace would want Bush and at such a high price since he knew little about the semiconductor business.

"You have absolutely no educational background in semiconductors do you?" asked Brown in the March 4 deposition, which was seen by Reuters.

"That's correct," Bush, 48, responded.

"And you have absolutely over the last 10, 15, 20 years not a lot of demonstrable business experience that would bring about a company investing $2 million in you?"

"I personally would object to the assumption that they're investing $2 million in me," said Bush, who went on to explain that he knew a lot about business and had been working in Asia for years.
Bush said he was co-chairman of Crest Investment Corporation, but worked only an average of three to four hours a week. For that, he received $15,000 every three months. Bush said he provided Crest "miscellaneous consulting services."
-- Houston Chronicle

So, At least $288 an hour for being the president's brother. The Bushes are America's leading crime family, and they're stealing from all of us.
Just like Florida 2000
The voting isn't over until the Bushies say it's over. From the WSWS:

Members of the House rejected the Medicare bill on a roll call vote by a margin of 218-216. However, the Republican House leadership, working in tandem with the White House, refused to close voting, even though, according to House rules, roll call votes are supposed to last only 15 minutes.

Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay used their leadership powers to hold open the vote for two hours and fifty-one minutes. It took that long to strong-arm right-wing Republican House members who had voted against the bill—considering it insufficiently reactionary—and convince them to switch to the “yes” column.

The House Republican leaders were directly aided by President George W. Bush, who was flying back from London on Air Force One and telephoned recalcitrant congressmen from his plane. Karl Rove, Bush’s chief political adviser, also worked the phones, while Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson went to Capitol Hill to twist arms.

The Republicans had forced a vote on the bill, whose final version was drafted in a closed House-Senate conference, just one day after the full text became available. Voting began at 3 am, and the Republican leadership came up two votes short. Finally, at about 6 am, the vote was closed and the rigged result was recorded as 220-215 in favor.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Georgian Coup
Sounds a lot like the US-inspired plot to overthrow Mossadegh and re-install the Shah in Iran in 1953.

From the Canadian Globe and Mail:
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow and Washington have been jockeying to control the route that will eventually take these enormous resources more rapidly to market in the West. Georgia and neighbouring Azerbaijan, which borders the Caspian, quickly came to be seen not just as newly independent countries, but as part of an "energy corridor."
When these plans were made, Mr. Shevardnadze was seen as an asset by both Western investors and the U.S. government. His reputation as the man who helped end the Cold War gave investors a sense of confidence in the country, and his stated intention to move Georgia out of Russia's orbit and into Western institutions such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union played well at the U.S. State Department.

The United States quickly moved to embrace Georgia, opening a military base in the country two years ago to give Georgian soldiers "anti-terrorist" training. They were the first U.S. troops to set up in a former Soviet republic.

But somewhere along the line, Mr. Shevardnadze reversed course and decided to once more embrace Russia. This summer, Georgia signed a secret 25-year deal to make the Russian energy giant Gazprom its sole supplier of gas. Then it effectively sold the electricity grid to another Russian firm, cutting out AES, the company that the U.S. administration had backed to win the deal. Mr. Shevardnadze attacked AES as "liars and cheats." Both deals dramatically increased Russian influence in Tbilisi.

Washington's reaction was swift. Within weeks, U.S. President George W. Bush had sent senior adviser Stephen Mann to Tbilisi with a warning: "Georgia should not do anything that undercuts the powerful promise of an East-West energy corridor," he said.

After the energy deals with Russia went ahead anyway, Mr. Mann was followed by former U.S. secretary of state James Baker, ostensibly an old friend of Mr. Shevardnadze, who warned the Georgian leader of the need for a free, fair parliamentary election on Nov. 2.
[Sunday], Mr. Shevardnadze went. The U.S.-backed candidate for president, Mr. Saakashvili, won the day. And Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, after telling Mr. Shevardnadze there was nothing more Moscow could do for him, flew from Tbilisi to the coastal resort town of Batumi in the autonomous republic of Adzharia to stir up new opposition.

And who is Saakashvili, the leader of the party now in charge?
Saakashvili attended Columbia University. He is a frequent visitor to Washington and boasts of numerous contacts in Congress, the White House and the National Security Agency. -- San Jose Mercury News

Both links are from Left I On the News. Since the "revolution" is supposedly bloodless, I guess Georgia now has the inside track on Afghanistan and Iraq (and DC and Puerto Rico as well) on becoming the 51st state. Is it constitutionally allowed to have two states with the same name? Should we expect that, in the long run, the Georgians will be as happy with their US-installed government as the Iranians were with theirs?

And congratulations to James Baker of the Carlyle Group for another successful coup. You'll remember that he led the Bushies' assault on Democracy in Florida in 2000; that he sent Saddam Hussein a message through Ambassador April Glaspie in July 1990 that "Arab-Arab" issues, such as Iraq's complaints with Kuwait, were of no concern to the US; that he may have been involved in the so-called "October Surprise" in which the Reagan-Bush campaign is alleged to have negotiated with Iran behind the scenes to delay the release of the hostages until after Carter had been defeated in the election; and I'm sure a few more I've forgotten and some we'll never hear about.

In the regime change category, Baker is the gold medalist.
Support the Workers, Atrios!
Several of us bloggers, specifically Rob Goodspeed, Elayne Riggs, and myself, have been trying to get Atrios to stop linking to Amazon while the Borders strike is on (Borders and Amazon are affiliated). Atrios' response was to post a huge Amazon link to the new Eric Alterman book. My response, in addition to continuing to complain in Atrios' comments, is to delink Atrios, reluctantly. I have taken him off my blogroll and replaced him with Elayne Riggs. A small, petty gesture, but what else can I do?

If you want to help, I'm sure you can find Atrios some other way, and add your voice either through comments or e-mail. If you stop being a progressive when it starts costing you money, you're not really a progressive at all.
Deadline Iraq
The CBC documentary shown on Sunday night is available in web site form.
Quote du Jour
George W Bush is a one man Wizard of Oz movie - with no heart, no courage and certainly no brain. -- BartCop

Well, he has followed the goldbrick road all his life.


It's 24 Time!
Another fine Tuesday is upon us, as is another 3600 seconds of cold-turkey hell for John Fitzgerald Bauer. Having broken his worst enemy out of jail, assaulting his daughter's boyfriend and releasing hundreds of hardened criminals in the process, he still doesn't know where his next fix is coming from. Will Kyle Singer and his scantily-clad attractive girlfriend break free from their containment pod, threatening to release the virus? 65% chance. Will Kim discover the mole at CTU, only to be taken hostage by him? 98% chance--she wouldn't be Kim Bauer otherwise. Will whatever resolutions to last week's crises are found only lead to even greater troubles? (100% chance; heck, we've still got 20 hours to go!)

Join Peaceniks for Violent Television! Watch 24 tonight! (Don't buy any of the stuff advertised, though--don't want any money going to Rupert Murdoch.)
What a relief!
There is a limit to Governor Gropengrabber's budget cutting:

I am only going to make cuts to a certain point. I'm not going to cut dog food for blind people. -- LA Times

[Update] Okay, I'll give Herr S. credit for not taking away blind people's dog food. But why is he trying to sell cars in a state that already has way too many of them?

"Go out there," Schwarzenegger implored. "Buy cars. Buy new cars. Buy used cars. Go out there and pay a reduced vehicle license fee. That's what we're celebrating here today."
Miami Police State Update
Michelle has two posts concerning the brutal repression of the FTAA/SOA protests in Miami and Columbus, GA. The first is a letter from the United Steel Workers to Congressional leaders, copied to the appropriate thugs who ran the operation, including Jeb Bush. The lowlights include:

When the wife of a retired Steelworker from Grantsville, Utah, verbally protested what she considered the abusive treatment of a student activist at the entrance of the AFL-CIO rally on Friday, November 21, she was slammed to the ground face down by police and a gun was aimed point blank at the back of her head. A Steelworker who witnessed the violent repression reported that she was so terrified that her entire body was literally vibrating.

In a case of blatant entrapment, a secretary in our International Headquarters in Pittsburgh, and a local Steelworker activist from Wisconsin who had worked all day as a parade marshal and was wearing a bright orange marshal's vest emblazoned with the words "AFL-CIO Peace Keeper," were returning to their hotel, when they were directed by armed police to abandon the sidewalk and to proceed down a set of trolley tracks. Once on the tracks, they were immediately pounced upon by armed riot police, handcuffed and arrested. They were forced to remain in cuffs for hours on end, even when visiting the washroom.

Michelle's second post has stories from a variety of sources about police atrocities at both venues.
Ford has a better idea!
William Clay Ford, Jr., that is, CEO of Ford Motor Company:

"Health care is just out of control," he said. "It's a system that's broke. It really scares me enormously."

Noting that the United States is the only major industrialized country with an employer-based health care system, Ford said the ever-rising costs of health care put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage.

The Free Press article doesn't quote him as specifically calling for single-payer universal health care, but it comes close:

Ford called for a national debate and a national solution to the problem of health costs. Without such a solution, Ford Motor Co. will be unable to compete in the global marketplace, he said.

Meanwhile, Atrios reports that Ford, Jr. did call for some form of national health care in an interview on NPR.

Also meanwhile, Atrios hasn't responded to my comment about his links to Amazon while the strike is going on, but I've found several supporters among his readers.
All Aboard the Magic Bus!
Authorities in the DC metropolitan area are looking at a variety of ways to make riding the bus more appealing: better information at bus stops, dedicated lanes, traffic lights which stay or turn green when a bus approaches, and so on. I know we'll have to pry the steering wheels out of the cold, dead hands of many drivers, but reasonable mass transit is critical to saving our cities. Most bus systems face a classic chicken-and-egg situation: they need more riders to pay for increasing the frequency of the buses, but they have trouble attracting riders when the bus only comes every half hour or hour. Getting back on my soapbox again, let me encourage everyone to ride city buses whenever you can. Find out what the schedules are and give the bus a chance.
Anybody who believes the crap
about "liberating" the Iraqis and "bringing democracy" being actual reasons for the invasion needs to learn something about Uzbekistan. This WSWS article is a good place to start:

The sordid episode started when [British Ambassador Craig] Murray gave a speech in October last year that embarrassed and contradicted the American ambassador, John Herbst, and the Uzbek government. Murray described Uzbekistan as a country that “is not a functioning democracy, nor does it appear to be moving in the direction of democracy. The major political parties are banned; parliament is not subject to democratic elections and checks and balances on the authority of the executive are lacking.”

He went on to note that there are between 7,000 and 10,000 political and/or religious prisoners, who in many cases have been falsely convicted of crimes. He said that the use of torture by the police and security services is rampant, citing the case of Muzafar Avazov and Husnidin Alimov, who were tortured to death by the use of boiling water. Murray commented, “But all of us know that this is not an isolated incident. Brutality is inherent in a system where convictions habitually rely on signed confessions rather than on forensic or material evidence. In the Uzbek criminal justice system the conviction rate is almost 100 percent. It is difficult not to conclude that once accused by the Procurator there is no effective possibility of fair trial in the sense we understand it.”

And how have the Bushies dealt with dictator and person-boiler Islam Karimov? Two pictures are worth 2000 words:

According to the WSWS,
The US government acknowledges that Uzbekistan’s secret police “use torture as a routine investigation technique,” but it still funds the organisation to the tune of $80 million. Uzbekistan has great geo-strategic significance and is seen as an important ally of the US in the so-called war on terror. American aid to Uzbekistan tripled to $500 million last year. The country allowed the US military to use its airbases for its occupation of Afghanistan and later agreed to the building of a US military base at Khanabad where hundreds of US troops are now stationed.

One can only assume that the Bushies are happier that the brutal dictator is still in power.

Everyone, including Mr. Karimov, is advised to consider the following picture as they make their plans for the future:
Dr. Laura
Is an obnoxious bigot.

A mother who asked whether her 16-year-old daughter should take part in a Catholic High School class field trip to a local mosque. The purpose of the field trip was to have the students in a "moral themes" class learn how "Muslims are treated" in America.

Schlessinger said in her response: "This is a class on morals. What is the point of going to a mosque?...You're joking of course? How many Americans have tortured and murdered Muslims? I think you ought to stand up against this class and this teacher. This is despicable. You tell him you are willing to go to the mosque only if it is one that has done its best to route out terrorists in its midst? Instead of complaining? I am horrified that you would let her go. I am so sick and tired of all the Arab-American groups whining and complaining about some kind of treatment. What culture and what religion were all the murderers of 9/11? They murdered us. That's the culture you want your daughter to learn about?"

CAIR has more info and some suggested responses.
Throw enough manure at the wall...
and some is bound to stick. That's the successful (in the worst sense of the word) strategy behind the Bush legislative agenda. I guess we should be rejoicing that Cheney's crime bill (actually called an energy bill, but it's passage would certainly be a crime) won't get passed this year. But it now appears that the OTHER huge gift to the corporations at the expense of the rest of us, aka the Medicare bill, will pass. This huge barrel of pork sent to the drug companies and HMO's will be touted as a "prescription drug benefit" for seniors, although its benefits will apparently go mostly to those seniors who least need it, and its overall effect will be to damage Medicare.

BTW, you readers in California REALLY need to get rid of Senator Diane Feinstein. She's sold out so many times you'd think she's a PlayStation Two. The Dems also need a new senate leader. On so many of these issues, the so-called opposition is allowing the Bushies to completely define the terms of the debate. When aWol asked for $87 billion to continue his illegal wars, where were the Democrats suggesting, say $30 billion instead? Most people have no idea how big either amount of money is, but by getting a much lower number out there, there would have been a debate, which might have led to some sort of compromise at, say $50 billion. Instead, the best they can come up with is Levin's "make some of the reconstruction money a loan" and Stabenow's ridiculous "month for America." In the end, they gave aWol $87.5 billion, with none of it a loan and no "month for America:" some compromise.

So, unless you're old, or planning to be some day, you can rejoice today that the Cheney crime bill won't pass this year.
The University and the City
Rob has a good post about how the University can expand in ways that improve the city rather than destroy it.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Torture Atrios!
Not really. Atrios is a fine blogger. But he's encouraging people to buy books from Amazon through his web site. I don't think he knows that Amazon is teamed with Borders, and that Borders workers here in Ann Arbor are on strike for unfair labor practices. (Well, he may know now, since I just posted a comment about it on his site.) Why don't you encourage him to take down those links while the strike is going on? Here's the post: just leave a comment. If you see Amazon links at other lefty web sites, you might want to contact them as well.

It turned quite cold today. I stopped by at Borders around 10 pm and joined the four picketers there for a while. Anybody in the area who can stop by and join the picket line for half an hour or so would be appreciated. If you can't stop, please honk when you drive by. The strike started on November 8, and without outside support it's just 50-some workers against a huge corporation. If you're not near Ann Arbor and would like to help, you can print out some flyers and pass them out outside your local Borders. Or just contribute to the strike fund.
aWol is a royal pain in the butt
From the Sunday Mirror:
THE Queen is furious with President George W. Bush after his state visit caused thousands of pounds of damage to her gardens at Buckingham Palace.

Royal officials are now in touch with the Queen's insurers and Prime Minister Tony Blair to find out who will pick up the massive repair bill. Palace staff said they had never seen the Queen so angry as when she saw how her perfectly-mantained lawns had been churned up after being turned into helipads with three giant H landing markings for the Bush visit.

The rotors of the President's Marine Force One helicopter and two support Black Hawks damaged trees and shrubs that had survived since Queen Victoria's reign.

Nation-building unsuitable to combat terrorism
The libertarian CATO Institute's web site has an op-ed today about the futility of "nation-building" as a means of stopping terrorism:

President Bush said that "it's in the interest of long-term peace in the world that we work for a free and secure and peaceful Iraq" shortly before he signed a bill that includes $20 billion to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. But the nation-building experiment in Iraq has only served to help recruit large numbers of Muslims to join a renewed global jihad. The violence has spread beyond Iraq, as evidenced by the synagogue bombings in Istanbul and repeated suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia.

The prospects for peace in the world or security in the U.S. homeland are not good.
Nation-building is thus grossly unsuitable as a tool to combat terrorism, or the religious fundamentalism that drives it. An America that takes on the task of rebuilding the many failed or failing nations around the world will drive itself into bankruptcy and will find itself struggling against the same insecurity and combating the same forces that it encountered on 9/11.

The war against global terrorism entails the elimination of genuine threats that are lurking around the world today. This war will be most effective when it is based on sound intelligence collected in collaboration with other nations. Meanwhile, the war against the underlying religious fervor that fuels terrorism is not going to be won through nation-building or by the continued expansion of America's imperial footprint that engenders global resentment. It will be won through the patient building of a global consensus against hateful, nihilistic ideologies.

Actually, we saw something pretty close to a global consensus against a hateful ideology last February.

Libertarians are the kind of conservatives I can tolerate. The CATO Institute's slogan (at least on the web site) is "Individual Liberty, Limited Government, Free Markets and Peace."
He told you so
"There's a hatred against the United States and you have 130,000 American troops sitting there as a big target," said Hans Blix as he leaned forward to make his point about the future of Iraq and its military occupation.

"The borders, although guarded, are not watertight. Weapons of mass destruction may not be there but conventional weapons are and the U.S. does not have the capacity to guard it all," Blix added. "The outlook is bad."

His time over as chief U.N. weapons inspector, he has a bone to pick with those who took the United States and Britain to war with Iraq on claims that Baghdad could wage quick and terrible destruction.

"This was the basis upon which the war was sold and justified and today I think no one would say Iraq constituted a danger in the spring of 2003," said the 75-year-old Swede.
-- Reuters
Michigan's Senior Senator
Is supposed to be a Democrat. So why is he attending the $401 billion giveaway to the Pentagon, and WHY IS HE CLAPPING?

Only friggin' Democrat there. Shame on you, Carl Levin.
Another $401 Billion For the Pentagon.
Jeez, being a belligerent, blood-thirsty, our-way-or-the-bombay nation sure is expensive!

"The stakes for our country could not be higher," the president said at a Pentagon ceremony. "We face enemies that measure their progress by the chaos they inflict, the fear they spread and the innocent lives they destroy."

Would somebody PLEASE buy him a mirror? Okay, it's true that Bush doesn't measure his progress by the innocent lives he destroys--he doesn't even bother to count them. But chaos and fear? AWol has pretty much spread these everywhere.
Free the FTAA Protesters!
Send a fax now to Miami's mayor. You can also help pay bail for the protesters.
$87 billion more for war in Iraq
and the Michigan Army National Guard is still having to beg like a charity to get stuff that the troops need, and to get it there:

Boxes of goods for American troops in Iraq have been piling up lately at the Michigan Army National Guard Armory in Ypsilanti.

That's because the National Guard does not have funding to pay the postage to send them, said Sgt. Brenda Harris.
Harris also emphasized that it's better to send small, light items, and said some goods are more needed than others. For instance, nutritious foods such as dried fruit or soy nuts are better than candy. Some other much-needed items include black or white, one-size-fits-all cotton socks, duct tape, tie-string type camouflage bags for carrying personal hygiene items, bulbs for Mag-Lite flashlights, AA size batteries, underwear, over-the-counter medications such as remedies for rashes and sore muscles, and disinfectants so long as they are not in aerosol containers.
-- Ann Arbor News

Jeez. If the Pentagon isn't feeding or clothing the soldiers, why is it costing so much? The deep pockets get deeper, I guess, while the grunts get dumped on, as usual.
That does it! I'm buying another CD.
"I think people were misled and I think people are fighting a war that they didn't know they were going to be fighting," [Dixie Chick Natalie] Maines said Friday on NBC's "Today" show. "And I think they were misled by people who should have been asking questions and weren't." -- CNN
Want to run a brutal occupation?
Consult the experts!

Facing a bloody insurgency by guerrillas who label it an "occupier," the U.S. military has quietly turned to an ally experienced with occupation and uprisings: Israel.

In the last six months, U.S. Army commanders, Pentagon officials and military trainers have sought advice from Israeli intelligence and security officials on everything from how to set up roadblocks to the best way to bomb suspected guerrilla hide-outs in an urban area.

It sure has worked out well in Israel, hasn't it? And consulting with the Israelis will sure help put to rest those rumors of the whole invasion being a Zionist plot, won't it?
MATRIX: TIA Reloaded
How did I miss this from last month?

“Congress killed the Pentagon’s ‘Total Information Awareness’ data mining program, but now the federal government is trying to build up a state-run equivalent,” said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program.

“In essence, the government is replacing an unpopular Big Brother initiative with a lot of Little Brothers,” he added, noting that the program is receiving $12 million from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. “What does it take for the message to get through that government spying on the activities of innocent Americans will not be tolerated?”
-- From the ACLU.

And Michigan is one of the states participating. Thanks to another fine Ann Arbor blog, The Bunker, for pointing me to that one!

BTW, Rob Goodspeed has a pretty good list of area blogs, although he inexplicably fails to include Cyndy's MouseMusings.
Strange Death Update
From Cyndy at MouseMusings. Bush rape accuser, State Department employee, soldier suicides: Cyndy has the latest.
Oh No, Canada!
How utterly depressing. Our cool neighbor to the north has a new prime minister, and he apparently suffers from neocon tendencies. Or more accurately, his country may soon suffer from his neocon tendencies, and so might the many sane Americans who see Canada as a potential refuge from fortress USA.

[New PM Paul] Martin has made building a closer personal relationship with President Bush a high priority. A few days after meeting with U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci in April, he announced his intention to lead Canada into NMD, increase military spending to build a more aggressive combat force and even break with the United Nations and go to war if necessary.

By signing on with the Americans' security priorities, Martin seems to be siding with Canada's corporate community, which is anxious to more closely integrate the Canadian and U.S. economies through greater military and security cooperation.
(More from the article)
Soldier frisks a schoolgirl in Iraq.Soldier frisks a four-year-old in Afghanistan.

Major Mitchell, a US marine and spokesman for US Central Command, added: "The troops on the ground in Afghanistan will respond accordingly to whatever threat in that environment exists.

"Maybe they received intelligence that children were carrying explosives and that the children could be used against coalition forces.

"Coalition forces will do whatever it is they need to do to protect themselves. In times of conflict their personal security comes before hearts and minds.

"If someone is offended because a four-year-old is being searched they should know that the security of forces will always come first."
-- aljazeera.

Which of course is pure BS. If the security of forces came first, they would bring them home--NOW. And if they're going to stay, continually offending the population is no way to provide for their security. Here's what one father had to say about the frisking of his daughter:

This humiliation has got to end now. I refuse to live like this. I’d rather die and I’ll take a few soldiers with me – and that’s a promise, not a threat.

Pretty much a microcosm of the whole situation in both countries, I'd say.

From Matt Davies.
Safire Won't Give It Up
A neocon magazine, the Weekly Standard, writes an article based on a memo from one of the core neocon crazies, Douglas Feith, and William Safire treats it as proof of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection. And the New York Times prints it.

Even the dissembler-in-chief has denied a link between Iraq and 9/11, although he of course tried to imply it about a zillion times. If they had any evidence at all of Saddam being linked to 9/11, they would have used that instead of all the lies about WMD's and liberating Iraq. They don't; Feith is reaching for straws, while Safire is desperate to justify this brutally unjustifiable war.

But Thanksgiving is coming up, so many of us will be facing Bush-supporting relatives across the table who will actually believe this crap after Rush and Sean and Bill dumb it down for them. They've got no evidence, no proof, except the proof based on experience that they can get their way through lies.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

I noted earlier that three more US soldiers were killed on Sunday. Here is how two of them died:

Witnesses to the Mosul attack said gunmen shot two soldiers driving through the city center, sending their vehicle crashing into a wall. The 101st Airborne Division said the soldiers were driving to another garrison.

About a dozen swarming teenagers dragged the soldiers' bodies out of the wreckage and beat them with concrete blocks, the witnesses said.

"They lifted a block and hit them with it on the face," Younis Mahmoud, 19, said.
-- AP

Meanwhile, back in Bush Quagmire I
Five U.S. soldiers were killed and seven injured when their helicopter crashed Sunday near the American military headquarters north of the Afghan capital, U.S. Central Command said.-- Washington Post.

Does anyone remember why we still have troops there? Oh right, to get Osama. Of course, he's rumored to be in Pakistan, and we already gave him what he was really after to begin with--pulling our troops out of Saudi Arabia. In fact, if we'd just done that, instead of invading and occupying two additional countries (plus establishing or increasing our military presence in several others: Uzbekistan, Krygyzstan, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Djibouti, Phillipines, etc.), Osama wouldn't have much of a beef with us.

Has anything been accomplished? Well, in a few tiny parts of Afghanistan, the surviving women are better off than they were under the Taliban (while in other parts of Afghanistan women are once again under the Taliban). Meanwhile, in Iraq, things have apparently gotten worse for women.

Dick Gephardt doesn't get many things right, but he hit the nail on the head when he said, about 400 times, "This president is a miserable failure." Gephardt wouldn't say it, I'm sure, but what Bush has done in Afghanistan is also a miserable failure, hidden only by the even more spectacular failure in Iraq.
Lucky Georgia
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has resigned after meeting the opposition and Russia's foreign minister, the president's spokesman told CNN.
The resignation comes after three weeks of growing protests complaining of fraud in the November 2 elections.

Actually, I know pretty much nothing about Shevardnadze and the issues being dealt with in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, but I'm jealous. They have a crooked election, people protest, the president resigns. Why can't we do that?
Disgraceful Police State Tactics in Miami
Jeb and his minions were outrageously brutal in stifling the FTAA demonstrations.
Three more soldiers killed
and two wounded in Iraq. In addition, three Kellogg Brown & Root (i.e. Halliburton) employees were wounded.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Central Front in the Battle for Labor Rights
Is in your neighborhood. Everything that workers have won over 100+ years of organizing--decent working conditions, overtime pay, weekends, vacations, health care, decent wages--is currently being attacked by the corporations and their bought-and-paid-for politicians in the White House, the Congress, and in state and local governments. Here in Ann Arbor, workers are striking against the original Borders store for unfair labor practices. In California, grocery-store workers are striking against Kroger Co.'s Ralphs, Albertsons Inc. and Safeway Inc.'s Vons and Pavilions. Unless you are a Republican politician and/or you get most of your income from investments, their battle is your battle.

If you're happy with a world where you and your children and grandchildren face a job market where they either take a crummy, low-pay, no-benefit job or they join the army to get wounded or killed in the next Bush war, then just go on with business at usual. But if you think something better is possible, it is crucial that the anti-labor tide in this country be turned back. We need to put serious financial pressure on corporations to deal fairly with their workers.

As a first step, boycott all of these stores that are being picketed: Borders, Krogers, Albertsons, Vons, Ralph's, Safeway, Pavilion. The grocery stores are colluding with each other to put down the strike; we need to collude to support it. To take it a step further, you can support the strikers financially. You can support the Borders' strike fund here--there's a donation button on the left. To support the grocery workers in California, make a donation here. A third step would be to actually get out and join the picket line. Help beef up the line, provide some moral support, bring 'em some donuts. If you can't stay, at least drive by and honk your horn in support.

Why not plan on cutting back on Christmas shopping this year, and instead use your money to help win these crucial fights for labor rights? If the corporate Republicans have their way, the top 2% will be living in luxury in gated subdivisions, while 50% of us work for $3 an hour, 70 hours a week, and the rest just starve. That's where we're headed if we don't stop it now.

If you haven't read Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed yet, now would be a good time. Read it if you have any illusions about people being able to get by on minimum wage in this country.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Gen. Franks Doubts Constitution Will Survive WMD Attack
A cheery thought for a Friday night, from the wingnuts at Newsmax:
Discussing the hypothetical dangers posed to the U.S. in the wake of Sept. 11, Franks said that “the worst thing that could happen” is if terrorists acquire and then use a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon that inflicts heavy casualties.

If that happens, Franks said, “... the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy.”

Well, that explains why the Bushies are doing everything possible to provoke an attack, while refusing to protect our ports and sending thousands of our supposed defenders to get shot at in the deserts of Iraq.

Franks then offered “in a practical sense” what he thinks would happen in the aftermath of such an attack.

“It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.”

Actually, I'd say that happened with the last terrorist attack.

But don't worry; Franks is crazy. To prove it, here's what he said about aWol:

As I look at President Bush, I think he will ultimately be judged as a man of extremely high character. A very thoughtful man, not having been appraised properly by those who would say he’s not very smart. I find the contrary. I think he’s very, very bright. And I suspect that he’ll be judged as a man who led this country through a crease in history effectively. Probably we’ll think of him in years to come as an American hero.

Anyone who thinks Bush is "very, very bright" is very, very stupid.

And if you ever had any doubts that the Bushies even considered analyzing what happened on 9/11, Franks puts that notion to rest:

Franks said that within hours of the attacks, he was given orders to prepare to root out the Taliban in Afghanistan and to capture bin Laden.

Somebody must have gotten to him before Rumsfeld, because Rummy would have told him to prepare the attack on Iraq.

The whole gang of Bushies is insane. At least this dimwitted yahoo has retired.

Franks ended his interview with a less-than-optimistic note. “It’s not in the history of civilization for peace ever to reign. Never has in the history of man. ... I doubt that we’ll ever have a time when the world will actually be at peace.”

Not as long as morons like you and aWol are running things, General. Iraq wasn't threatening anybody, and you attacked anyway.
Energy Bill Defeated!
For now. Keep the pressure on your senators, because you know Frist and Cheney will. Capitol switchboard: 800-839-5276.
One Week to Go!
Until Buy Nothing Day, that is. Typically the busiest shopping day of the year, the Friday after Thanksgiving has become an orgy of consumption. This takes a serious toll on our planet, our society, ourselves. Join in! Buy nothing!

Buy Nothing Day

Here in Ann Arbor, I suggest celebrating Buy Nothing Day by specifically buying nothing at Borders. Join the picketers and encourage everyone to support living wages AND reduced consumption.
Oh no. Another front.
Is aWol a little too eager to get involved in Turkey?

On the last day of a state visit to Britain, Bush called the Turkish leader from Air Force One while flying toward British Prime Minister Tony Blair's parliamentary district here in northern England. Bush offered his condolences for Thursday's attack on two British buildings in Istanbul that killed at least 27, only days after synagogue bombings in that city killed 23.

"I told him our prayers are with his people. I told him that we will work with him to defeat terror, and that the terrorists have decided to use Turkey as a front," Bush said. Asked whether Turkey was a new front, Bush said: "It sure is. Two major explosions. And Iraq is a front, Turkey is a front, anywhere the terrorists think they can strike is a front."

Repeating Thursday's vow that there would be no letup in his efforts against terrorists, Bush said: "Yesterday's attack in Turkey reminded us that we haven't completed our job yet."
-- Washington Post

First, dimwit, it was FOUR major explosions: Two at synogogues on Saturday, and two on British targets yesterday. Second, your criminal and insane "war on terror" is the greatest danger to the world since the third reich. Third, George, you are a lying, cheating, stupid, ignorant, arrogant prick. I'll get to your bad points later.

General Mayhem
Billmon has a great post comparing what a US Army general said yesterday with the news about the latest rocket attacks on the oil ministry and two hotels in Baghdad.

From Matt Davies.
Stop the Energy Bill!
CALL NOW! Congressional switchboard: 800-839-5276. Call BOTH of your senators. The vote is scheduled for 10 AM today.
Foggy Death at Foggy Bottom
Cyndy of MouseMusings, who told me about Kucinich's posting of the Diebold memos (below), links to a scary From the Wilderness article about a State Department official who fell to his death from the State Department building in Washington on November 7. It seems unclear whether he jumped or was forced out a window or from the roof.

FTW says that after a brief report on Fox News, the suspicious death has been ignored by the media. And, BTW, it appears that the official, John J. Kokal, was involved in the analysis of intelligence about Iraq prior to and during the war against Saddam Hussein.

Michelle has links to more articles on this, as well as some interesting commentary.
Kucinich Posts Diebold Memos
Electronic voting-machine maker Diebold has been threatening various web sites with legal action for posting incriminating Diebold memos which demonstrate that the company's own employees have little faith in either the integrity or reliability of their voting machines. Well, now they'll have to go after a US congressman and presidential candidate as well. Dennis Kucinich has posted some of the memos on his congressional web site.

I hope they do--it will call attention to two things the American public really needs to know about--paperless electronic voting machines (bad) and Dennis Kucinich (great!).

Thursday, November 20, 2003

The president ought to be ashamed
So says former senator and 9/11 commission member Max Cleland, in this Salon interview.
FTAA Derailed?
An ugly and bloodier ending to the Miami FTAA meeting was averted by a sudden decision tonight to end the closed official events one day early. FTAA co-chairs from the US and Brazil both described the summit as a step forward though it was widely understood that the agreement was far less than the American business community and the White House originally hoped for.-- AlterNet

Outside, according to that article, the cops were over-reacting at every chance, using pepper spray, rubber bullets and arrests for no reason. The local "news" media was embedded with the cops, in more ways than one. AlterNet reports:

So began a day that could be explained as a planned overreaction by the City of Miami, the Governor of Florida and his supportive brother in the White House. Within a few hours, the massive police force was firing pepper gas and rubber bullets at 120 miles an hour against a small crowd of surrounded resisters who could have been easily contained.

In any case, let's hope that Lula and other South American leaders have really stood up to Bush and the multinationals and derailed this most recent reverse-Robinhood scheme. The FTAA, like NAFTA, is a "trickle-up" scheme: take what little the poor have left and jam it into the already over-stuffed pockets of the wealthy.
Another soldier killed, two more wounded
From CNN.
About Time!

aWol Toppled in Trafalgar Square.
Mission Accomplished
I was reading blog comments, I think on Atrios, and somebody suggested that the bombings in Istanbul would move Michael Jackson out of the lead story for about an hour. Take a look at CNN now. There's a picture of a private jet halfway into a hanger in Santa Barbara. Supposedly it belongs to Jackson. The Jackson story dominates the friggin' web page. A tiny link on the side says "27 killed, hundreds wounded in Istanbul blasts."
Indymedia's FTAA Protest site
Thanks to Michelle for finding it for me!
What do these two have in common?

Lew Rockwell has the answer.

(Shorter Lew Rockwell: Bush and the Pointy-Haired Boss have a lot in common.)

From Doonesbury.
Iraq war was illegal
Of course, you all knew that. But did you know that Richard Perle also knew that, and admits it?

Mr Perle told an audience in London: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."

President George Bush has consistently argued that the war was legal either because of existing UN security council resolutions on Iraq - also the British government's publicly stated view - or as an act of self-defence permitted by international law.

But Mr Perle, a key member of the defence policy board, which advises the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that "international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone", and this would have been morally unacceptable.

French intransigence, he added, meant there had been "no practical mechanism consistent with the rules of the UN for dealing with Saddam Hussein".

Tear gas, concussion grenades, rubber bullets
Forcing through something as awful as the FTAA requires extreme measures:

Police fired a concussion grenade and several cannisters of tear gas shortly before 10 a.m. this morning as large numbers of demonstrators, many wearing black clothing and some with bandannas across their faces, streamed through Miami streets.

Several protesters suffered bloody noses and bruised ribs during pushing and shoving matches with police. No significant acts of vandalism were reported. No disruptions erupted in outlying areas.

Officers used the tear gas and a concussion grenade during a brief skirmish with protesters on Biscayne Boulevard and Flagler Street, near the Hotel Inter-Continental, site of ongoing talks to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

One protester apparently was shot in the thigh with a rubber bullet. She was treated by medics associated with the protest groups....
''I think it's ridiculous,'' said Brendan Hoffman, 23, a protester affiliated with a non-profit group called Essential Action.

''This is all meant to prevent the public from interacting with public officials who are going to decide the future of the western hemisphere,'' he said. ``They think they can tell us what we want. It's not about bringing democracy, it's about freedom for large corporations to do whatever they want.''

From Global Exchange:
Negotiated behind closed doors, with little citizen input but plenty of suggestions from corporations, the FTAA is yet another example of the kind of free-market fundamentalism that has created a global race to the bottom that erodes environmental protection, workers' livelihoods, and human rights. If you think NAFTA has been a disaster for working families and the environment in the US, Canada, and Mexico, this will be far worse.

I'm feeling guilty right now because I'm not in Miami. Please help me out by doing something today to register your protest of the FTAA: Call Congress, write a letter to the editor, post something on your own blog, start your own little protest somewhere, give some money to Kucinich. I was in Chiapas last spring, and I know what NAFTA has done there. I live in Michigan, and I know what it has done here. Unless you're a filthy-rich greedy capitalist scumbag, NAFTA and the FTAA are bad for you, wherever you are.

You can read what Kucinich has to say about the FTAA here.

Don't let aWol and his poodle and Jacko and Scott and Kobe and the terrorists win by letting this issue slip by (that is, don't be like the major media). It's important to people throughout the hemisphere, including you!
"War on Terror" a Stunning Success
The attacks that followed -- on Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Bombay, Mombassa, Najaf, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Baghdad, and Istanbul -- were not dreams. -- aWol, yesterday

No, dimwit, they are evidence that the so-called "war on terror" is a spectacular failure. (BTW, which attacks on Baghdad are you talking about--those recent ones by car bombers that killed dozens, or the ones by air bombers sent by you and your daddy that killed thousands?)

And if your speech were tonight, you could add in another bombing in Istanbul and one in Kirkuk as well.

Egyptian president Mubarek said before the war that "If there is one (Osama) bin Laden now, there will be 100 bin Ladens afterward." A commentary on Murphy's Law (Anything that can go wrong will go wrong) said that "Murphy was an optimist." I'm afraid the same might be said about Mubarek.

Is it really more important that we never be seen as giving in to terrorists than it is to actually address the root causes of terrorism? Bush says yes, I say no. Pre-emptive military strikes and brutal occupations will always anger tens of millions, and among those there will always be hundreds or thousands willing to fight back by any means necessary. Continuing to ignore the wishes and rights of the tens of millions so as to avoid the appearance of appeasing the hundreds or thousands is foolish and deadly.
Senate Debates Energy Bill
Fearmaster Cheney's prize creation, created in secret consultations with Ken Lay and Osama bin Laden (for all we know), is dangerously close to passage. All that stands between our current miserable energy policy and one that is much worse is a few key senators of questionable vertabral strength. At least six Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, have joined most Democrats in opposing the bill. Gregg described the bill as a "grab bag of special interest projects directed at benefiting one segment of the economy or one segment of the population at the expense of other segments of the population." Unfortunately, several Democrats whose states may get some benefit appear to be willing to sacrifice the good of the nation, while others just don't seem to have any spine left.

That's where you come in. Provide your senators with a spine by calling them today. You can use the toll-free Capitol switchboard at 800-839-5276, ask for your senator, and tell the staffer that you oppose the energy bill.

It's already too late for the House, whose Republican majority rubber stamps anything aWol and the Fearmaster want. But my congressman, John Dingell, did make an excellent statement opposing the bill; you may want to mention some of his arguments when you call your senators:




November 18, 2003

This conference report is a partisan product, written in secret and kept from the light of day until the last possible minute. The result speaks for itself -- like a garbage can with its lid off, there is a strong stench from special interest provisions. There are, of course, some worthy items in various titles. But the report needlessly endangers the environment, hurts consumers, and provides unaffordable subsidies and tax breaks to selected industries.

This conference report does include the consensus electric reliability provisions that Democrats have supported. But the report may handcuff the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s ability to prevent future blackouts, it repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 with its consumer and investor protections, it favors certain utilities, and it preempts states and local authorities on transmission line siting decisions.

The conference report shortchanges our rivers, as well, tilting relicensing process in favor of utilities by giving them special rights and procedures that are not afforded to other parties who have an interest in the use of public resources, like states, Indian tribes, sportsmen, or conservationists.

One of the more troubling aspects of this report is its direct assault on the Nation’s safe drinking water supply. It weakens the Safe Drinking Water Act, forces state and local taxpayers to pay billions of dollars to clean up the MTBE manufacturers’ mess, and requires taxpayers, not polluters, to pay for cleanup of contamination caused by leaking underground storage tanks even when the responsible party can afford to pay.

The bill contains a number of provisions which were not included in either bill and on which there is no legislative record at all, including some significant Clean Air Act rollbacks. The conference agreement includes even worse provisions outside the jurisdiction of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. For example, we are told that the tax subsidies alone will cost at least $22 billion -- compared to the President’s request of $8 billion, but I hear no complaints from an Administration that regularly objects to far lesser amounts for education, health care, and our Nation’s veterans.

This bill suffered from a secret, one-sided process -- and the many flawed provisions are the result. I must oppose it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Back in the saddle again!
My home Internet connection is back up to speed! I'll give credit to Comcast for excellent customer service. I called on Monday, got through right away (and they're available 24/7) and they were able to query the cable modem while I was talking to them. They determined that there was a problem with the modem or connection (i.e., not my computer), and said they could have a technician at my house Tuesday afternoon between 2 and 5, or Wednesday between 5:30 and 7:30. I went with Wednesday, and they were waiting for me tonight after I took the bus home. They thoroughly checked everything out, decided my cable modem was worn out and obsolete (that's right--a cable modem is obsolete), and replaced it. Everything is purring right along now. So good job, Comcast!
Borders' Strike Continues
Keep up with the latest developments at the Borders Readers United web site. If you're in the Ann Arbor area, come join the picket line for a while. They're there day and evening. They're planning on making a lot of noise before and after the big OSU-UM football game this Saturday. If you'd like to help but aren't in the area, you can donate to the strike fund at the web site, and of course by not shopping at Borders, Waldenbooks, or Amazon.
aWol's Speech in Britain
He started out with some references to John Locke, Adam Smith, Lord Shaftesbury, Wilberforce, Tyndale, Wesley, and William Booth. I sure hope someone quizzes him about who these folks were.

Most of his speech was the usual log-in-the-eye stuff; we're good because we say we are--when we kill innocents it's always for a good cause, when THEY kill innocents it's evil terrorism. Here's a start:

The League of Nations, lacking both credibility and will, collapsed at the first challenge of the dictators. Free nations failed to recognize, much less confront, the aggressive evil in plain sight. And so dictators went about their business, feeding resentments and anti-Semitism, bringing death to innocent people in this city and across the world, and filling the last century with violence and genocide.
America and Great Britain have done, and will do, all in their power to prevent the United Nations from solemnly choosing its own irrelevance and inviting the fate of the League of Nations. It's not enough to meet the dangers of the world with resolutions; we must meet those dangers with resolve.

In other words, the UN lacked credibility and will, and collapsed at the first challenge of dictators: Blair and Bush.

Our first choice, and our constant practice, is to work with other responsible governments. We understand, as well, that the success of multilateralism is not measured by adherence to forms alone, the tidiness of the process, but by the results we achieve to keep our nations secure.

Responsible governments like Pakistan, Uzbekistan. And, of course, FOR US, the end always justifies the means, no matter how horrible the end or brutal the means.

The second pillar of peace and security in our world is the willingness of free nations, when the last resort arrives, to retain* {sic} aggression and evil by force. There are principled objections to the use of force in every generation, and I credit the good motives behind these views.

Those in authority, however, are not judged only by good motivations. The people have given us the duty to defend them. And that duty sometimes requires the violent restraint of violent men. In some cases, the measured use of force is all that protects us from a chaotic world ruled by force.

AWOL, you have introduced more chaos into the world than anyone since Hitler.

In Iraq, year after year, the dictator was given the chance to account for his weapons programs, and end the nightmare for his people. Now the resolutions he defied have been enforced.

And who will say that Iraq was better off when Saddam Hussein was strutting and killing, or that the world was safer when he held power? Who doubts that Afghanistan is a more just society and less dangerous without Mullah Omar playing host to terrorists from around the world.

ME! I WILL! I DO! (Can Smirky Flightsuit actually be accusing someone else of "strutting?")

In democratic and successful societies, men and women do not swear allegiance to malcontents and murderers; they turn their hearts and labor to building better lives. And democratic governments do not shelter terrorist camps or attack their peaceful neighbors; they honor the aspirations and dignity of their own people. In our conflict with terror and tyranny, we have an unmatched advantage, a power that cannot be resisted, and that is the appeal of freedom to all mankind.

And you're apparently willing to kill them all to prove it.

Perhaps the most helpful change we can make is to change in our own thinking. In the West, there's been a certain skepticism about the capacity or even the desire of Middle Eastern peoples for self-government. We're told that Islam is somehow inconsistent with a democratic culture. Yet more than half of the world's Muslims are today contributing citizens in democratic societies. It is suggested that the poor, in their daily struggles, care little for self-government. Yet the poor, especially, need the power of democracy to defend themselves against corrupt elites.

Gosh, George, you had a good paragraph going until that last sentence! Actually, it's a great sentence. Why don't you go sit in a corner for the next two years and repeat it until you believe it. Elites don't get any more corrupt than you.

We must shake off decades of failed policy in the Middle East. Your nation and mine, in the past, have been willing to make a bargain, to tolerate oppression for the sake of stability. Longstanding ties often led us to overlook the faults of local elites. Yet this bargain did not bring stability or make us safe. It merely bought time, while problems festered and ideologies of violence took hold.

As recent history has shown, we cannot turn a blind eye to oppression just because the oppression is not in our own backyard. No longer should we think tyranny is benign because it is temporarily convenient. Tyranny is never benign to its victims, and our great democracies should oppose tyranny wherever it is found.

Like at Guantanamo Bay?

Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, who tolerate and profit from corruption and maintain their ties to terrorist groups. These are the methods of the old elites, who time and again had put their own self-interest above the interest of the people they claim to serve.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

And then some joker stuck this sentence in, apparently playing a joke on W. He probably still doesn't know he said it, and won't until Ariel calls him tonight:

Israel should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people, and not prejudice final negotiations with the placements of walls and fences.

Unfortunately, the joker left out the part about withholding the massive US military support for Israel which fuels the occupation until Israel complies. Of course, he'd get fired for that.

From Jeff Koterba.

I don't think that cartoon is particularly funny, rather tasteless, actually. But it's interesting that it comes from the same cartoonist who drew what I consider to be one of the most offensive cartoons of the year--this one from April 15:

The father in the cartoon had NOTHING to be ashamed of, except for being ashamed. He was right. If aWol had listened to our focus group, no Black Hawks would have been shot down (although they would probably continue to fall out of the sky on their own three or four times a year).

From Red Meat, which isn't usually discernibly political.
Nothing like bombs to stop bombing
A pair of 2,000-pound satellite-guided bombs were dropped late Tuesday near Baqouba, 30 miles northeast of Baghdad, on "camps suspected to have been used for bomb-making," said Maj. Gordon Tate, a spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division. -- AP

Get out now. Now! Iraq may turn into another Bosnia if we leave. Maybe not. It has already turned into another Vietnam, and will continue to get worse the longer we stay. We leave now, we don't know what will happen. We stay, we do know, and it's terrible. Take the first choice.

The special relationship.

Photo from this Yahoo! slide show.

Buy the whole "aWol goes to London" doll set for only $98.99!

Photo from this Yahoo! slide show.

aWol: "You look ridiculous in that hat!"
Queen: "You look ridiculous, period!"

Photo from this Yahoo! slide show.

Speak truth to power.

Photo from this Yahoo! slide show.

This statue is suitable for toppling.

Photo from this Yahoo! slide show.

Yeah, you should look worried.

Photo from this Yahoo! slide show.

"Hey Colin! Can you believe they fell for that crap about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?" (The worm on the left is Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw)

Photo from this Yahoo! slide show.
Georgie visits the Cat in the Hat

while the abandoned poodle looks on forlornly.

Photo from this Yahoo! slide show. (I stole the main caption, from Michelle)
Leading in the race to the bottom
Wal-Mart no longer has any real rivals. It does more business than Target, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Safeway, and Kroger combined.

This Fast Company article describes how the world's largest company's ruthless cost-cutting has put suppliers into no-win situations. They can't afford not to do business with Wal-Mart, but in the end they can't afford to do business with them either. The almost universal response is to move manufacturing overseas.

In my opinion, it's fine for a company to be as efficient, and even as hard-nosed, as Wal-Mart is. It's not fine for a company to be so big that it dominates practically all markets for consumer goods, not to mention putting inexorable downward pressure on wages. We need to dig Auntie Trust out of her grave, pump her full of fair-trade coffee, and put her to work dismembering the Wal-Mart monster. You can help the old girl by never shopping at the Beast of Bentonville.

Thanks to Cyndy for the link!
One politician who gets it
London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, said: "I think that Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction."

In an interview with the Ecologist magazine, Mr Livingstone, who will be the keynote speaker at a "peace conference" at the city hall tomorrow, added: "I don't formally recognise George Bush because he was not officially elected. We are organising an alternative reception for everyone who is not George Bush... We are trying to get Michael Moore over as our guest as the alternative voice of the US."
-- Guardian
The view from Iraq
They've been bombing houses in Tikrit and other areas! Unbelievable… I'm so angry it makes me want to break something!!!! What the hell is going on?! What do the Americans think Tikrit is?! Some sort of city of monsters or beasts? The people there are simple people. Most of them make a living off of their land and their livestock- the rest are teachers, professors and merchants- they have lives and families… Tikrit is nothing more than a bunch of low buildings and a palace that was as inaccessible to the Tikritis as it was to everyone else!

People in Al Awja suffered as much as anyone, if not more- they weren't all related to Saddam and even those who were, suffered under his direct relatives. Granted, his bodyguards and others close to him were from Tikrit, but they aren't currently in Tikrit- the majority have struck up deals with the CPA and are bargaining for their safety and the safety of their families with information. The people currently in Tikrit are just ordinary people whose homes and children are as precious to them as American homes and children are precious to Americans! This is contemptible and everyone thinks so- Sunnis and Shi'a alike are shaking their heads incredulously.

And NO- I'm not Tikriti- I'm not even from the 'triangle'- but I know simple, decent people who ARE from there and just the thought that this is being done is so outrageous it makes me want to scream. How can that ass of a president say things are getting better in Iraq when his troops have stooped to destroying homes?! Is that a sign that things are getting better? When you destroy someone's home and detain their family, why would they want to go on with life? Why wouldn't they want to lob a bomb at some 19-year-old soldier from Missouri?!
-- from the blog Baghdad Burning
Morning News Shows
My internet connection at home is still screwed up, so I turned on the TV at 7 this morning hoping to find out what's going on. The top two stories on ABC, NBC and CBS? Michael Jackson and Laci Peterson. The idiot pResident is making a fool of himself (no trick there) in England, being protested by 100,000 people while turning London into an armed camp. Meanwhile, the war on houses and trees continues, with our military applying the same sort of collective punishment measures that made the Nazis so popular in World War II and that the Israelis have used with such stunning success in Palestine. (Insert sarcasticon here.)

Michael Jackson and Laci Peterson are more important than all that?

[Update] Atrios is with me on this. Okay, he beat me to it, but I hadn't seen his post before I made mine.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Wellstone crash blamed on pilot error
The twin-propeller King Air A100 stalled when the flight crew slowed it too quickly while approaching Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport in northern Minnesota on Oct. 25, 2002, investigators told the National Transportation Safety Board. The plane lost altitude, veered sharply, sheared off treetops and crashed 2 1/2 miles short of the runway.
John Clark, the NTSB's director of aviation safety, said Conry and Guess were flying too high and too fast as they began their approach. They slowed down too much as they tried to make up for the mistake, he said. The plane went from 190 mph to 87 mph in the final 90 seconds of the flight.

No mechanical problems were found, so investigators concluded inattention by the pilots most likely was to blame.
-- AP

TWO pilots. Both inattentive. No mayday call. The NTSB said last year that how the pilots died did not affect the investigation. The pilots are dead; easy to blame them. But what if they were dead or incapacitated BEFORE the crash? I discussed several possibilities last year, and I don't see much in the NTSB conclusions that rules out pilot error BECAUSE THEY WERE ALREADY DEAD.

Without the Wellstone crash, the Democrats would have maintained control of the Senate. He was the second Democratic senatorial candidate ahead in the polls to die in a plane crash in two years (Mel Carnahan of Missouri, running against John Ashcroft, was killed in a plane crash in October of 2000--he won the election anyway). The Republican-led media frenzy about the Wellstone memorial service was despicable as well (see Al Franken's book for lots of details on that).

Darn right I don't trust the Republitrons. They will do, and have done, ANYTHING to get their way.
aWol loses the Druid vote
The US military has expanded its attacks from just the two-legged fauna and architecture of Iraq into attacking the flora as well. They've already used napalm; can agent orange be far behind?
Good Riddance
Don't come back.
The Doctor has a new commercial
And his respect for the truth seems to match his respect for public financing of elections:

The commercial goes on to note that Gephardt supported Bush's recent $87 billion spending request for Iraq and Afghanistan. Dean tells viewers that he opposed both the war resolution and the spending bill, adding, "our party and our country need new leadership." -- CNN

From the September 25 debate:
WILLIAMS: Is that an up or down, yes or no, on the $87 billion per se?

DEAN: On the $87 billion for Iraq?


DEAN: We have no choice, but it has to be financed by getting rid of all the president's tax cuts.

Dean is 100% pure unadulterated politician. He will say whatever it takes to get elected. Replacing Bush with Dean would be like leaving the Titanic for a lifeboat with a leak in it. Maybe we'll survive until something better comes along, or maybe we'll just drown slower. C'mon, progressives! Emerge from Deanial and support a candidate for real change: Kucinich 2004!
Ain't that America
CNN asks "Should John Allen Muhammad get the death penalty in the sniper case?" The current tally is 88% yes, 12% no. Why don't you go vote "no" and try to send a message to Howard Dean and other death-penalty supporters?
No, It's Not Krugman

Are we being spun on jobs by the White House and the rah-rah Bush media like we are being spun on Iraq? Make up your own mind after considering the following.

Only a few of the 116,000 private-sector jobs created in October provide good incomes: 6,000 new positions in legal services and accounting — activities that reflect corporations gearing up to protect their top executives from Sarbanes-Oxley.

The remainder of the 116,000 new jobs consist of temps, retail trade, telephone marketing and fund raising, administrative and waste services, and private education and health services.
Jobs capable of producing tradable goods and services continue to be lost rapidly. In the last three months, the U.S. lost 91,000 manufacturing jobs.
A country that substitutes foreign labor for its own domestic labor via outsourcing, offshore production and Internet hiring, a country that transfers its wealth to foreigners to pay for imports, a country that fills up with welfare-dependent multitudes while it squanders $200 billion in Iraq, is a country headed for Third World status.

Some industry experts argue that the U.S. has lost so much of its core industrial capability that advanced manufacturing skills are disappearing in the U.S. The U.S. lacks mass production ability in critical areas of high-tech manufacturing.

The U.S. assembles parts made elsewhere. Knowledge- and capital-demanding activities, such as charge-coupled devices, industrial robotics, numerically controlled machine tools, laser diodes and carbon fibers, are passing out of U.S. hands.

A service economy has less to export than a manufacturing economy. What will the U.S. sell abroad to pay for its energy and manufacturing imports?

We currently pay for our imports by giving up ownership of our companies, real estate and corporate and government bonds. Once the U.S. has spent its wealth, we will have no way to pay for the energy and manufactured goods on which we have become import-dependent.

While the once fabulous U.S. economy erodes, the hapless Bush administration thinks its most important goal is to waste American lives and massive sums of money to force "democracy" on Middle Eastern peoples who do not want it.

Discerning readers might sense that the writer isn't Krugman or another reader because of the anti-immigrant slant. The author of the column excerpted above is Paul Craig Roberts, writing in the Washington Times. The Washington Times is also frequently referred to as the Moonie Times, since it was founded and owned by the Rev. Sun Yung Moon. The paper has been a major supporter of the Reagan and Bush administrations, and right-wing causes in general, since its founding. It appears that even this right-wing paper is no longer believing the lies oozing from the "hapless Bush administration."

I have hesitated to post doubts about the recently reported revival of the economy, not wanting to squeeze the sour grapes when I don't really know for sure what the truth is. But I'm glad to share with you this opinion coming from the right. And for what it's worth, I've had at least four people ask me for help finding jobs in the last few months, something that has rarely happened in the past.
Home computer update
The problem with my home computer, that being that my Internet access is down to near zero, appears to be Comcast's fault, either through the cable modem they provided or somewhere else down the line. They're sending a technician out tomorrow evening to fix it. So my blogging will remain somewhat hampered until then.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Bushies tell US corporations to pull out of Britain
According to the Evening Standard, US firms have been told to close down UK operations and bring jobs to the US. This apparently in retaliation for the WTO ruling against US steel tariffs.

US-based multinationals have been told they will receive compensation from American trade authorities if they cancel contracts in Britain and take jobs home, according to CBI director-general Digby Jones.

The allegations come only a day before Bush arrives in London for his controversial State visit and escalate the storm of protest he has already caused by slapping big protectionist tariffs on European steel imports.

Speaking at the CBI's annual conference in Birmingham, Jones said: 'Three chief executives of American companies investing in Britain have told me to my face that they have been told to close down, bring their stuff home and make it in the US.'

He said the companies were major employers in defence or manufacturing.

I've already warned Tony Blair once that there is no upside to being a friend of the Bushies--ask Manuel Noriega or Saddam Hussein. He'll turn on Blair in a Crawford minute if he thinks it will get him electoral votes in Pennsylvania or Ohio. AWol's trip across the pond should be VERY interesting; Michelle is following it closely.
Israeli warplanes buzz Lebanon
All of it:
As Israeli eyes were riveted on the appalling effects of the synagogue bomb attacks in Istanbul on Saturday, November 15, their air force executed a stunning demonstration of might over Lebanon lasting several hours Sunday, November 16. DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal exclusively that 30-40 Israeli fighter-bombers zipped through the length and breadth of Lebanon – from the northern regions and Tripoli, across to the Lebanese-Syrian border, the Beqaa Valley and Syrian bases, through Djebel Druze in the center, to Beirut and down to the south. The aircraft made low passes in quartets, buzzing key points. There was no response from the ground.

From DEBKAfile, an Israeli web site, via Michelle.
Two more dead, two more wounded
In Iraq, that is. After seventeen die in a helicopter crash, the headlines get smaller and smaller for "just two" fatalities. While I've seen other news web sites start to report the total fatalities from George's big crime (about 420 now, I think), the Post is still using the lowball number, with an added twist:

The attacks brought to 162 the number of U.S. soldiers killed in guerrilla attacks in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1.

That figure does not include the 17 soldiers who were killed when two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters collided and crashed in the northern city of Mosul Saturday night. The U.S. military says it is still investigating the incident.

By the Post's reckoning, a soldier's death only counts if it happened in a guerilla attack since May 1 and the military is done investigating it.
Kids' bikes selling at record pace...
...but are not being ridden. According to the Washington Post, 20.4 million children in the United States rode a bicycle six or more times a year in 1991, and 16.8 million did so last year.

Six times a year is hardly riding at all. But wait, there's a dark side to the dark side here:

At the same time, more children's bicycles are being sold. That is partly because they are cheaper than ever, according to Matt Wiebe of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News magazine. Wiebe said more than 80 percent of sales are made at Wal-Mart, where bikes can be found for a little as $30.

So despite the fact that fearful parents won't allow their kids to ride their bikes anywhere useful (the article suggests that some parents in some neighborhoods tell their kids not to leave the DRIVEWAY), or maybe that the kids have gotten lazy, expecting a minivan ride to the video store every day, money keeps pouring in to Wal-Mart shareholders and their sweatshop suppliers.

Sprawl is a total disaster for kids. Not only is their freedom restricted because of the danger from traffic (or their parents fear of it), and by the fact that there probably aren't any fun places to ride to anyway (Hey look! The Smith's have a well-manicured non-descript one-acre backyard just like us!), they are being conditioned to accept this lazy ugly consumptive blandness as the only possible reality. Of all the possible Americas that could have been chosen over the past 100 years, we seem to have made a very bad choice.
Follow through on greenbelt
Two weeks ago, Ann Arbor voters overwhelmingly approved Proposal B, allowing the city to purchase property and development rights in surrounding townships, hoping to maintain some open space and cut down on the traffic and pollution caused by sprawl. Two UM professors argue that the city should follow through and encourage higher density within the city. I think they're right. Here's an excerpt:

The first principle of the Smart Growth movement is that regional problems require regional solutions. Now that Ann Arbor voters have approved the greenbelt proposal, city leaders and local environmentalists must promote the agenda of affordable housing, infill development and higher urban density with as much passion as they have demonstrated in the battle to contain suburban sprawl.

Many of the commuters who are clogging city streets and polluting our air and water are working-class and middle-income people who cannot afford to live in Ann Arbor but nevertheless make up the service economy that in turn sustains our lifestyles. Graduate students at U-M are increasingly forced to live outside the city, in locations where rental prices are lower but mass transit is inadequate
Trying to prevent sprawl on the suburban fringe while maintaining Ann Arbor's low-density residential landscape is incompatible with a sustainable development approach to the metropolitan region. Refusing to accept any changes to the "character of our neighborhoods" is ultimately a short-sighted and self-defeating strategy that will accelerate the quality-of-life decline caused by traffic jams and pollution of the air and water.
(whole article)
Auntie Trust is already dead, but now she's rolling around in her grave
Two Insurance Giants to Combine in $16 billion deal. I've always thought insurance was mostly a scam--buy a piece of paper on the installment plan, and hope the seller is able and willing to give you some of the money back when something bad happens to you. But it's a scam most of us have to participate in. You need insurance to get a license plate for your car; you need insurance to get a mortgage. With lots of little companies, you at least had a chance of finding one that would sell you a policy you could afford. But as the companies combine, your right to drive or buy a house is now owned by these giant corporations. If they don't like you--no car, no house.

And then there's health insurance: We'll sell you some if you can land a good job with a large company, and you guarantee you'll never be sick. Take it or leave it.
Stop the Energy Bill
Most of my readers are probably already MoveOn members, so you probably already got an e-mail about the energy bill. Whether you did or not, I urge you to call your senators today and ask them to do anything they can, such as filibuster, to stop Dick Cheney's latest gift to the oil and power industries. All senators can be reached toll-free through the Capitol switchboard, 800-839-5276. Call now!
No George. YOU are the security risk.
In a blunt message to protesters threatening to gridlock London during his visit, he said: “I would tell the sceptics that I have a job to protect the security of the United States of America — that Saddam Hussein was a security risk.” -- From aWol's interview with the Murdoch-owned Sun.

The Sun features naked women on page 3, but this interview is surely the most obscene thing they've ever run. As with Murdoch's NY Post and Fox News, they don't even pretend impartiality. Here's a cholce quote from the story:

In what appeared to be a swipe at France and Germany, who deserted the Allies in the run-up to war in Iraq, [Bush] said:

Deserted the Allies? Bush and Blair propose an insane, criminal, totally unjustified war, and objecting to it ever so slightly is "desertion?" The Sun should really be more careful using the word "deserted" when talking with Mr. Deserter himself.

(Gag warning--don't read the rest of this post on a full stomach.)

The article about the interview concluded thusly:

I then asked President Bush the question asked recently by thousands of Sun readers: Is the world a safer place since the war in Iraq? He replied: “Yes, much safer. The free world has recognised the threat.

“In order to make the world safe, you’ve got to see reality.

And the reality is that there are cold-blooded killers who are trying to intimidate, create fear and shape the will of the civilised world.

“They are killers capable of hiding in societies. They are patient, they are lethal, they pop up and they will destroy. They don’t care who they destroy. They will kill children just as soon as they’ll kill somebody in a military uniform.”

In Friday’s exclusive interview, the President said coalition forces ended Saddam’s tyranny, smashed the grip of al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan and forced the United Nations to stop turning its back on terror.

But America would act again, alone if necessary, for the long-term safety of the world. And he told how the US had learned not to rely on handwringing do-gooders.

He said: “One of my vows to the American people is, I won’t forget the lessons of September 11, 2001.

“I was at Ground Zero after the attacks. I remember this haze and the smells and the death and destruction. I’ll always remember that.

“I made up my mind right then. We were at war and we were going to win the war. And I still feel that determination today that I did then.

“Presidents and Prime Ministers should never worry about how they are viewed in short-term history. I think in terms of long-term history.

“I set big goals. And I know what we’re doing is going to have a positive effect on this world.”

It's just amazing that anybody can be this stupid, or so unaware that he IS the evil he claims to deplore.

From Ted Rall .
Unspeakably stupid, callous, evil, criminal...
That's our appointed president:
Returning Sunday to the White House from Camp David, Bush told reporters "the loss of life is sad" and that he had "spent some time in prayer for our servicemen and women who are in harm's way.

"The sacrifices that our folks are making in Iraq will be in our nation's interest in the short-term and the long-term," he said. "It's best to defeat the terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to defeat them here."
-- CNN

I'm sorry, but the hypocrisy is too much. In the '80's, the Reagan administration, including several current Bush administration criminals, supported the mujahadeen in Afghanistan. Many of them, including Osama bin Laden, were in fact foreigners to Afghanistan. They attacked the Soviet invaders of that country, including shooting down helicopters. The Reaganites called them "freedom fighters." Now, Iraqis attacking helicopters belonging to the American invaders are termed "terrorists." And while the adminstration tries to blame the resistance on "foreign terrorists" (who could be more foreign in Iraq than Americans?), their actions and statements suggest that they know that's a lie, at least for the most part:

Strikes in the town of Ad Dwar, north of Tikrit, destroyed several buildings, including houses of individuals believed to be involved in the shooting down of a U.S. helicopter on November 7. Also targeted by U.S artillery was an abandoned summer palace belonging to Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, an official in the deposed regime who is No. 6 on the list of 55 most wanted Iraqis.

A military source said the offensive is designed "to let the Iraqis know that the attacks on the coalition will not be tolerated."

My guess is that the people who have houses in Tikrit are probably Iraqis, and that if you're sending a message to Iraqis it's because you think they're involved.

These brutal retributions and building demolitions are almost sure to have the same result as they've had in Israel--by attacking people defending their country and calling them terrorists, you pretty much guarantee that you're going to be hit by real terrorists. Let's replace our own idiot version of Sharon before the bombs start going off with regularity here.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Home computer behaving like CRAP
I'm having a great deal of difficulty getting to web sites, including blogger. Hopefully everything will get worked out. Check out the other blogs over there --> to keep up to date on things. I'll be able to post some from my work computer, and I'll get this fixed, one way or another.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Borders Strike Continues
I've gone down to join the picket line several times. Last night about 5:30 there were some 75 people in the picket line, and a similar number this afternoon at 1. Help support the workers by not shopping at Borders, Amazon, or Waldenbooks until the strike is resolved--in the workers' favor!
Focus on the Positive
Several Black Hawk helicopters flew in Iraq today which didn't crash and kill a dozen soldiers while wounding nine more.

From Ted Rall.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Dream on...
"This is good for everyone," said Ahmad Chalabi, a council member who saw Mr. Bremer on Friday night. "We will have the U.S. forces here, but they will change from occupiers to a force that is here at the invitation of the Iraqi government." -- NY Times

Right. The US invades Iraq. The US appoints a "governing council," which is not exactly representative or devoted to its work (read Michelle's post about this). A year later, the US will pretend to let governing council govern, and their first act will be to invite the invaders who have been occupying the country for 15 months by then.

Yeah, Chalabi, you giant embezzling fraud. That's going to make both the council AND the US troops instantly popular. Are you on Ambien too?

Anyone remember back in 1974, after Nixon made Gerald Ford his vice president, and then resigned, making Ford the president? A few weeks later, Ford pardoned Nixon, instantly making both of them very popular--NOT. The only way something like this can be pulled off is if you completely control the media and have a docile and ignorant public. (Think 2000, when Bush Sr.-appointed Justice Clarence Thomas casts vote to give election to Bush Jr. I don't think the Iraqi public is as ignorant as ours, and I know they're not as docile.)

The Times article answers my earlier question in a discouraging way:

"And that includes finding those two?" the reporters asked, referring to Mr. Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

"Yes, that's part of it," [Bush] said. "But an even bigger is a free and democratic society. That is the mission."

So capturing Saddam is necessary but not sufficient for leaving Iraq. The nearly impossible is also required. This is very bad news for everyone currently in Iraq, Iraqis and occupiers alike. The only silver lining is that it may well lead to regime change in the US, which will finally offer some hope--a year from now. The truth is, I'm afraid, that aWol has no intention of ever really withdrawing from Iraq.
Be careful which charities you give money to...
They may be fundraisers for Republican conventions. Seriously.

From the NY Times:

It is an unusual charity brochure: a 13-page document, complete with pictures of fireworks and a golf course, that invites potential donors to give as much as $500,000 to spend time with Tom DeLay during the Republican convention in New York City next summer — and to have part of the money go to help abused and neglected children.

Representative DeLay, who has both done work for troubled children and drawn criticism for his aggressive political fund-raising in his career in Congress, said through his staff that the entire effort was fundamentally intended to help children. But aides to Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader from Texas, acknowledged that part of the money would go to pay for late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush's speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises.

via Bob Harris
Is this an exit strategy or a no-exit strategy?
The White House said Friday that U.S. troops would remain in Iraq until Saddam Hussein is killed or captured. -- CNN

They don't address the converse--will the troops leave when Saddam is found, if he is? My brother and others have wondered whether US troops may have captured Saddam long ago, holding him to be officially captured or killed at some propitious moment, such as three days before the election next year. Have they finally lowered the bar for success from the fantasyland glorious democracy which does their bidding without question to something that's actually possible (or already accomplished)? If so, they'll of course claim that capturing/killing Saddam was the goal all along, not democracy or finding WMD's or retribution for non-existent links to 9/11, or even oil. (If they give up on controlling most of the country and just settle for a huge air base in the desert, how will they protect the pipelines?)

Does this suggest that they're planning on announcing the death or capture of Saddam soon, declaring victory and coming home? Or is this just a ploy to buy time for their neocon vision of controlling world oil prices while preparing for the next attacks on Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia?

Inquiring minds want to know.
Carlyle Group
My personal axis of evil. Cyndy directed me to this video about this key element of what BartCop calls the BFEE (Bush Family Evil Empire). She also points out that Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oil billionaire recently arrested by Putin, is a Carlyle adviser. The thit plockens.
Scott Ritter
On the nature of the Iraqi resistance.

Though the Bush administration consistently characterizes the nature of the enemy in Iraq as "terrorist," and identifies the leading culprits as "foreign fighters," the notion of Al Qaeda or Al Ansar al Islam using Baghdad (or any urban area in Iraq) as an independent base of operations is far-fetched. To the extent that foreigners appear at all in Baghdad, it is likely only under the careful control of the pro-Hussein resistance, and even then, only to be used as an expendable weapon in the same way one would use a rocket-propelled grenade or IED.
For political reasons, the Bush administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) haven't honestly confronted this reality for fear of admitting that they totally bungled their prewar assessments about what conditions they would face in postwar occupied Iraq.

The failure to realistically assess the anti-American resistance in Iraq means that "solutions" the US and CPA develop have minimal chance of success because they're derived from an inaccurate identification of the problem.

White House Continues to Stonewall 9/11
The commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks said on Thursday that its deal with the White House for access to highly classified Oval Office intelligence reports would let the White House edit the documents before they were released to the commission's representatives. -- NY Times

A Democrat on the panel who has criticized the accord, former Representative Timothy J. Roemer of Indiana, said in an interview that he believed that the panel had agreed to terms that would let the White House edit the reports to remove the contexts in which the intelligence was presented and to hide any "smoking guns."

"The President's Daily Brief can run 9 to 12 pages long," Mr. Roemer said. "But under this agreement, the commission will be allowed to see only specific articles or paragraphs within the P.D.B.'s. Our members may see only two or three paragraphs out of a nine-page report."

He said the commission should have insisted on access to the full reports, because "you need the context of how the P.D.B. was presented to the president in order to determine whether or not there were smoking guns."

The other Democratic critic on the panel, former Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, has described the agreement as unconscionable.

They've clearly got something to hide, probably something absolutely awful. September 11 has been their excuse for their whole miserable "war on terrorism," but we still don't know what really happened. The most depressing thing in the world is that there are still so many Americans who defend our criminal pResident.
Two more soldiers killed...
plus an American civilian contractor and a whole mess of Iraqis. From AP.
Meanwhile, out in the free world...
At the opening ceremonies [of the Rugby World Cup] a few weeks ago, Aussie Prime Minister John Howard, recently censured for lying about Iraq, stepped out to declare the games officially open -- and the entire stadium of cheering fans suddenly unleashed a cathartic chorus of boos. Howard looked humiliated, and didn't even speak for about ten solid seconds. Dishonesty actually being treated as dishonorable -- a national leader actually being held accountable, face-to-face, by the public -- oh man, that was something to see. -- Bob Harris

Of course, our un-elected misleader has squads of brownshirts dedicated to keeping this from happening to him, whether in London, Asia, or Columbus.

I wonder if we've been looking at the "free-speech zone" issue the wrong way. That's where the cops direct protesters to little traffic islands or whatever half a mile or more from where aWol is being bribed. Maybe we need to station our protesters everywhere in town not specifically banned by the cops, thereby making the point that the only place in town which isn't a "free-speech zone" is the place where a bunch of Republitrons have paid $2000 each to hear a bad speech.

For the record, my personal experiences with "free-speech zones" haven't been so onerous. I went to protest a Bush fund-raiser in July in Dearborn, and our "free-speech" zone was right across the driveway from where aWol was speaking. We of course didn't see the horrible man directly, but his slimy supporters had to walk right by us to go into the hall. And when I went to protest Ashcroft at Cobo Hall in Detroit, we were right outside the entrance.

From Chuck Asay.

I posted that cartoon because of all of the cartoonists I regularly review at Slate's political cartoon review, Asay is probably the most obnoxious Bush lover. He constantly attacks liberal straw men for hypocrisy, ignoring the flagrant hypocrisy of the Republicans. Until now, that is! If Asay is running an anti-Republican cartoon, the Repugs are in trouble. I hope, anyway!

From Jeff Stahler.

From Bruce Plante.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Bush gets Gored again!
This time it's not President Gore, but author Gore Vidal:

Gore Vidal: All of this is in the USA PATRIOT Act. The Founding Fathers would have found this to be despotism in spades. And they would have hanged anybody who tried to get this through the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Hanged.

Marc Cooper: So if George W. Bush or John Ashcroft had been around in the early days of the republic, they would have been indicted and then hanged by the Founders?

Gore Vidal: No. It would have been better and worse. [Laughs.] Bush and Ashcroft would have been considered so disreputable as to not belong in this country at all. They might be invited to go down to Bolivia or Paraguay and take part in the military administration of some Spanish colony, where they would feel so much more at home. They would not be called Americans — most Americans would not think of them as citizens.
-- LA Weekly, via Blah3.

This explains a lot!
"So do you use sleeping tablets to organize yourself?" Al-Rashed asked.

"Yes. Well, I wouldn't call them that," [Secretary of State Colin] Powell said. "They're a wonderful medication -- not medication. How would you call it? They're called Ambien, which is very good. You don't use Ambien? Everybody here uses Ambien."
-- Washington Post

Comments from Bob Harris, substituting for Tom Tomorrow at This Modern World:
As Blah3 writes:

Everybody where, Colin?

Ambien's common side effects include daytime drowsiness, dizziness, and changes in thinking and behavior. Less common but reported side effects include confusion, emotional instability, and an exaggerated feeling of well-being.

Ambien addiction is also more likely among people who have been dependent on alcohol and can cause amnesia.

Gee. Sound like anybody we know?

And can you freakin' imagine the firestorm if somebody in the Clinton administration had gushed about a drug like this in the middle of a war?

BTW: This Modern World is a cool blog when cartoonist Tom Tomorrow is writing it. It is an absolutely AWESOME blog when his friend Bob Harris takes over for awhile, like he's doing right now.
Not sticking yet, but starting to come down pretty good. Actually, it's going largely sideways due to the high winds. Parts of Ann Arbor were blacked out last evening, which cancelled my indoor soccer.

[Update--Fifteen Minutes Later] Stopped snowing. Sun's out. Welcome to Michigan!

[Update--Nine Minutes Later] Sun gone. Snowing again.
Screw it. Make up your own headline.
A 19-year-old Mexican who used a false residence permit to enlist in the US army and fight in Iraq may be kicked out of the force and even be deported, his lawyer, military and immigration officials said Wednesday. -- AFP

He was brought into the US at age four by his parents. While this story just screams hypocrisy on the part of the government, I know I'd much rather go to Mexico than Iraq right now. But his home is in Seattle; he should be able to return there when his army tour is over, hopefully alive and intact.
Rummy must have missed the memo...
About emphasizing the positive. Asked about the increasing violence in Iraq today, he responded:

"It's been a violent country for a long time and it very likely will be for a long time. Certainly people need to participate there with their eyes open," he told reporters Thursday while travelling during a flight to Guam. -- AFP.

Sure sounds like he's optimistic about Iraq's future, doesn't it? Rummy and Wolfowitz are misguided and insane, but they don't seem to be consistent liars like Bush and Cheney. Their bits of truth-telling may be the greatest threat to the Bushies; I suggest that somebody get them drunk and roll the cameras.
The view from the Resistance
Presented by Ted Rall.
No, that wasn't terrorists...

We made that hole.

US launches "Operation Iron Hammer." (A real hearts-and-minds kind of name, there.)

"The destruction of this structure will deny enemy forces any use of it in the future," a written statement put out by the 1st Armored Division said. "The facility is a known meeting, planning, storage, and rendezvous point for belligerent elements currently conducting attacks on coalition forces and infrastructure."

Destroy the village in order to save it. Then pay Bechtel billions to rebuild it.

Planet Earth: The central front in the war on Republicanism.
Crime Pays
Wal-Mart Posts $2.03 Billion Earnings in 3rd Quarter. When you've got people working for $2 a day, it's easy to make money.

Read the Fine Print

The headlines:
White House to let 9/11 panel review briefings -- CNN
9/11 Panel Reaches Deal On Access To Papers -- Washington Post
Panel Reaches Deal on Access to 9/11 Papers -- NY Times

Here's the fine print from the Times' story:
Commission officials said that under the accord two members of the 10-member commission would have access to the full library of daily briefings prepared in the Bush and Clinton administrations and that two other members would be allowed to read just the copies of the briefings that the White House deemed relevant to the inquiry.
Although the agreement appeared to have the support of most of the commissioners, it was denounced by a Democrat on the panel, former Representative Timothy J. Roemer of Indiana. Mr. Roemer said in an interview that the White House was continuing to place unacceptable limits on access to the briefings.

"In paraphrasing Churchill, never have so few commissioners reviewed such important documents with so many restrictions," said Mr. Roemer, who was a member of the joint Congressional committee that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks. "I am not happy with this agreement, and I will not support it."

The accord was also criticized by family members of victims of the attacks. The relatives have said all 10 commissioners should have access to the intelligence reports.

"Our understanding is that this is an unacceptable agreement," said Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband was killed in the attacks and who is now a spokeswoman for the Family Steering Committee, which represents many of the victims' families. "The details haven't been shared with us. But we understand that this access will be highly limited."

The White House...had originally wanted to determine which commissioners would conduct the review.

It looks to me like the White House is trying to avoid even the appearance of innocence on this. The only conceivable reason for doing it this way is just to stall further. Fewer eyes reading the documents means it will take longer to find the smoking gun. And since the documents will remain classified, we, the supposed owners of this corrupt government, still won't know what Bush knew. If it ever does make it to the papers, you can be sure that it will be relegated to the back pages by either W's re-election or the war in Syria.

But most people, if they notice at all, will just notice the headlines saying that the White House is letting the commission see the papers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

TALLAHASSEE -- A group of 30 military veterans critical of the war in Iraq hoped to use Tuesday's Veterans Day parade to call attention to the increasingly deadly conflict but instead found themselves fighting for something much more fundamental.

Members of Veterans For Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War were yanked off a downtown Tallahassee street, directly in front of the Old Capitol, while marching in the holiday parade they had legitimately registered in.
-- Florida Times-Union

At least the reporter comes down pretty clearly on the side of VFP and VVAW. But jeez! This used to be America, even in Florida!
Winston Smith, call your office:
insurgent (noun)
1. rebel: somebody who rebels against authority or leadership, especially somebody belonging to a group involved in an uprising against the government or ruler of a country.
-- Encarta

Resistance (noun)
Secret nationalist force fighting occupation: an illegal secret organization that fights for national freedom against an occupying power, especially one that fought in France, the Netherlands, Denmark, or Italy during World War II.
also Encarta

Obviously, both types of groups are active in Iraq. The insurgents are clearly the American-led "coalition": I mean what is regime change if it isn't an uprising against the government or ruler of a country? The Iraqis attacking US soldiers are clearly a "resistance," since they are fighting an occupying power.

The CIA and AP still have the terminology right, at least as far as the resistance goes; but NBC and CNN have followed the lead of the LA Times and started calling the resistance "insurgents" or "militants," in addition to the all-purpose "terrorists." Tom Brokaw must have said "insurgents" ten times tonight. The term grants illegitimate authority to the invaders.
Online Polls
Senate majority leader Frist wants to know: Should the President's nominees to the federal bench be allowed an up or down vote on confirmation as specified in the Constitution? (Hint--that's not what's specified in the constitution. Hint 2: The correct answer is NO) Vote!

[Update] Once the voting started going our way, Dr. Frist started screwing with the poll, changing the wording, and even the general meaning of "Yes" and "No". Atrios is following this closely.

CNN wants to know if Paul Bremer is doing a good job in Iraq. Your answer will depend on your feelings about death, destruction, and mayhem, I guess. Vote!
Foreign Elements Definitely Involved in This One
U.S. Forces Launch Operation in Central Baghdad: U.S.-led coalition forces launched a military operation in Baghdad late Wednesday, setting off a series of explosions that rumbled through the center of the Iraqi capital. In Washington, a Pentagon official confirmed the operation but gave no details about exact location or reason. Up to a dozen detonations were heard about 9:15 p.m., apparently centered away from the heart of the city.

I'd be pretty concerned if I were Tony Blair right now
The US supported Saddam Hussein for a dozen years of so, not counting US support which helped the Baath party come into power in the first place.

We supported Osama bin Laden and his Mujahadin allies for nine years or so when they were "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan. (Some of them are still trying to chase foreign invaders out of the country, using the same methods, but we call them "terrorists" now.)

We supported Noriega in Panama for several years before turning on him.

Well, aWol operates on an accelerated schedule:

July: Iraqi Governing Council appointed.

Monday: US 'wants Iraq council scrapped'

Wednesday (today): U.S. troops opened fire accidentally on a car carrying a member of the Iraqi Governing Council

Of course, he was lucky (The council member escaped injury but his driver was hurt). On Sunday, US forces killed a US-appointed local leader in Iraq.
Those Don't Tax and Spend (A Lot) Republicans
Federal discretionary spending expanded by 12.5 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, capping a two-year bulge that saw the government grow by more than 27 percent, according to preliminary spending figures from congressional budget panels. -- Washington Post
Bushies want to ban protests in London
Anti-war protesters claim that US authorities have demanded a rolling "exclusion zone" around President George Bush during his visit, as well as a ban on marches in parts of central London. -- the Independent

The Stop The War Coalition said yesterday that it had been told by the police that it would not be allowed to demonstrate in Parliament Square and Whitehall next Thursday - a ban it said it was determined to resist. The coalition says that it has also been told by British officials that American officials want a distance kept between Mr Bush and protesters, for security reasons and to prevent their appearance in the same television shots.

Imagine the nerve of those uppity colonists across the pond, daring to show disrespect to the idiot emperor.

It is reported that Mr Bush's entourage will number around 500 with up to 200 members of the security service. The Americans are also said to be bringing a US Marine Corps Sea King helicopter, a Black Hawk helicopter and 15 sniffer dogs.

Jeez, another invasion.

Maybe he should go to Rome, instead. They've got to love him there after today's truck bombing in Nasiriya that killed at least 15 Italians. He might not be too welcome back here, either--two more soldiers were killed today, bringing the total, I believe, to 400.

How about exile on Elba?

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

From Drew Sheneman.

My mind remains boggled that Bush got away with that callous, near-treasonous remark.

From Clay Bennett.

From Slowpoke.
More on the Borders strike
From the WSWS. Also, Rob has posted this letter to the Michigan Daily from a strike opponent:

When I was a teenager, I used to drive to downtown Ann Arbor to buy books that I could not get at home. There was no or Barnes and Noble. Nowadays the retail book environment is extremely competitive. Customers are very price conscious and expect discounts. Borders's net income is only 3.2 percent of sales and was only 2.6 percent the year before.

Employees should realize that a union cannot negotiate away competitive realities. If Borders were to let its cost structure get out of line with its industry they will become uncompetitive and eventually fail. We have all watched favorite independent stores evaporate. They disappeared because you and I preferred the discounts the larger chains and online sellers were able to offer. It is our buying habits that decide which stores survive and which do not. These are market realities that every retail company must face or they must die. The cost of labor is one of those realities.

Frankly, I have done work with Borders and know for a fact that it is most concerned with giving a voice to their employees. I know it has worked very hard to learn what matters most to every employee and to create a compensation package and a work environment that is optimal for the employees within the competitive realities of the marketplace. Borders works to continue to improve its offering.

We should all want to keep this great Ann Arbor institution competitive and growing.

Rob questions the provenance of the letter writer, thinking it may be a Borders management plant. I think it is more important to focus on the highlighted paragraph (my highlighting). This is a clear example of the thinking of what Conceptual Guerilla calls "cheap-labor conservatives." The argument is that if workers refuse to continually bend over and take it, there will be no more business. My concern is that in today's America, many (most?) people accept the highlighted argument as correct. Stores MUST screw their employees, or die. It's the race to the bottom, and all workers everywhere are now in competition with each other. I don't know the answer, but I know that the answer in the letter means that not only retail companies, but real people, will die if we don't change the current system. Extending the living wage requirements to all companies doing business in Ann Arbor would be a start. We really should fix this before the US is just one more dirt-poor third-world country.
Explosions Rock Baghdad
U.S. military officials said three or four mortars hit Tuesday night within the Iraqi capital's "Green Zone," the center of most of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority's activities.

Several explosions were heard as smoke was seen rising from the heavily fortified area in Baghdad.
-- CNN

Give 'em time?
The administration and their faithful admirers frequently suggest that it will take time for the grand and glorious democratic free-market everybody-happy Iraq to emerge, even though they were pretty optimistic about quick change just a few months ago (Billmon's got a list of quotes). So, even if you're willing to ignore all indications to the contrary and believe that the Bushies are making progress in Iraq, how do you explain Afghanistan after two years?

I'll stand by a statement that I've made before: George W. Bush has done absolutely NOTHING right since being appointed president (or before, for that matter). It's one of the reasons I'm not a Howard Dean fan--he still gives Bush credit for the stupid and pointless war in Afghanistan. I don't think Bush has either an honest or a competent bone in his body, and with the help of the ideological nutcases surrounding him, he's destroying the world. George Soros is right (see below).
You're either Soros or you're against us
Well, not really. But we've got a billionaire on our side, George Soros, who just gave $5 million to

George Soros, one of the world's richest men, has given away nearly $5 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet bloc, Africa and Asia. Now he has a new project: defeating President Bush.

"It is the central focus of my life," Soros said, his blue eyes settled on an unseen target. The 2004 presidential race, he said in an interview, is "a matter of life and death."
Overnight, Soros, 74, has become the major financial player of the left. He has elicited cries of foul play from the right. And with a tight nod, he pledged: "If necessary, I would give more money."

"America, under Bush, is a danger to the world," Soros said. Then he smiled: "And I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is."

You can join Soros in donating to MoveOn here. I've had my complaints about MoveOn, but they're doing a great job of drawing attention to the many failings of aWol, and now they're doing a great job of fundraising as well.
Wal-Mart Faces Class-Action Suit
"This case is about the most powerful and richest company in the world taking obscene advantage of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world," said a lawyer filing the suit yesterday, James L. Linsey. -- NY Times

Linsey is attempting to represent the cleaning workers, many allegedly illegal immigrants, in filing the class-action lawsuit. By taking on Wal-Mart, he's representing many more "of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world" as well.

Homer: Ya know Mr. Burns, you're the richest guy I know - way richer than Lenny.
Mr. Burns: Yes, but I'd trade it all for a little more.

Last Letters Home
From soldiers killed in Iraq, in today's NY Times.
Hey Fellow Bloggers!
Join the growing list of Borders Workers' Solidarity Bloggers by sending an e-mail to Rob Goodspeed.
New Blogroll Entry Day!
I've added Goodspeed Update to the blogroll. Rob does a great job of tracking local Ann Arbor issues, including the Borders strike, affordable housing, police issues, and others. Non-Ann Arborites should find it interesting as well.
Veteran's Day Letter
From a fellow Kucinich supporter:

Today is Veterans' Day

But there won't be any in the most are either sick or dying in the hospitals or they have been called up to serve in Iraq...

And you won't see them very happy when they many will find out that Bush's miracle job creation turnaround was due to employers filling all those jobs that were held by servicemen and women...permanently...

Then there is the new way Bush and company honors our dead comrades in arms...the true numbers are not allowed to be revealed...and flag draped caskets are not allowed to be if by concealing the evidence...the truth will not be known...don't get me wrong...he'll probably go to Arlington so he doesn't get confronted by the growing numbers of live Veterans and returning troops who are fed up with his lies...

Because when Bush lies...our troops die...innocents civilians die and thanks to depleted uranium, biological and chemical agents sold to Saddam by Junior's Poppy...the troops will continue to die for many years after they come home from the war zone...and their illnesses will be ignored...their budget this so-called military friendly administration filled with Chickenhawks, pardoned criminals and foreign policy theorists who have made a fortune doing business with the same thugs we now must hunt down...

Don't forget to fly your flag to honor Veterans today...that Chinese made flag produced by one of the many companies which have shut down plants here at home and moved overseas to hired children, avoid taxes and to do business with newer and more deadlier thugs...

Let us do them proud by demanding that they come home...and by replacing this illegitimate, licentious and dangerous regime right here at home...

I will be backing Kucinich for President because of his committment to Veterans, the troops and their families in Congress...supporting the issues which are important to us and fighting against the arrogant and often secretive actions of Bush and company...

Mike Price
Disabled Navy Veteran 1968-76 IC3

WTO Rules Against US on Steel
Trade war expected with Europe. Apparently the "free-traders" in Washington gave Europe just enough power in the WTO, in order to get them to go along with it, that they can actually stand up to the US. The poorer countries of the world stood up to the US at Cancun. Hopefully the whole thing collapses into a fetid heap.

Monday, November 10, 2003

One Focus Group Bush Will Pay Attention To...
Is the multinational corporations. According to the Financial Times, many are getting very worried.
Free and Happy

Rabih Haddad is the Ann Arbor Islamic cleric who was arrested in December 2001 and held, without charges, until July 2003, when he was deported to Lebanon. His wife and children have joined him, and they are now living happily in Beirut. The treatment of these fine people by the Bush administration was completely shameful.
Online Poll
CNN asks "Should U.S. courts be able to intervene in U.S. military detentions on foreign soil?"

In other words, should the "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay have any rights at all? I think "YES" is the proper answer, but "NO" currently leads 57% to 43%.

Actually, that was my presumption all along...
Many of us felt there had to be something there ... If this had been another country, one would have written a convincing analysis that this guy is lying through his teeth, that there are no weapons in Iraq. But people thought, the President can't say he knows something if he doesn't. That was persuasive, in a way.

Now we know that no other President of the United States has ever lied so baldly and so often and so demonstrably ... The presumption now has to be that he's lying any time that he's saying anything.
-- Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern

Quote du Jour
Bush needs Osama. Bush would be at 30 percent without Osama. -- BartCop


Don't worry, son. After this, you'll have plenty of company.

President George W. Bush speaks with Pvt. 1st Class Phillip Ramsey after signing The Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense and for The Reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan [$87 billion] in the East Room Thursday, Nov. 6, 2003. White House photo by Susan Sterner
(from the White House web site)
President Gore Speaks Out!
It makes no more sense to launch an assault on our civil liberties as the best way to get at terrorists than it did to launch an invasion of Iraq as the best way to get at Osama bin Laden. Or to concede an election that you won, for that matter. But that's all raging, destructive, genocidal water under the bridge at this point.

Gore said the Bush administration has sought "to rule by secrecy and unquestioned authority," and he accused Republicans in Congress of aiding the White House by threatening to shut down investigations over political disputes.

"They have taken us much farther down the road toward an intrusive, Big Brother-style government -- toward the dangers prophesied by George Orwell in his book '1984' -- than anyone ever thought would be possible in the United States of America," Gore said.

You're not giving Karl Rove and John Ashcroft enough credit there, Al.
Resistance Fighters?
We don't see no stinkin' resistance fighters! -- LA Times

Gonna Find Out Who's Naughty and Nice...
Paul Krugman is coming to town!

Tuesday, Nov. 11, 7 pm, Ann Arbor District Library.
Wednesday, Nov. 12, 8 pm, Schorling Auditorium, School of Education, University of Michigan
Yet another reason to hate Wal-Mart
Some consumer products companies will have to invest millions of dollars to comply with Wal-Mart's drive to have every carton and palette it receives carry a radio identification tag, according to a report to be released today by A. T. Kearney, a consulting firm. -- NY Times

While that intro suggests that only "every carton and palette" would have a tag, other parts of the article suggest that Wal-Mart is pushing for every item to be tagged. This would have enormous personal privacy issues, as Katherine Albrecht of CASPIAN continues to point out:

Unlike the bar code, however, the EPC (electronic product code) goes beyond identifying product categories--it actually assigns a unique number to every single item that rolls off a manufacturing line. 8 For example, each pack of cigarettes, individual can of soda, light bulb or package of razor blades produced would be uniquely identifiable through its own EPC number.

So, if you buy a pen or a paperback novel or a sweater at Wal-Mart and charge it to your credit card, that item will be linked to you. Conceivably, you could then be identified wherever you went just by the items on your back or in your pockets. Venture into the airport, the drug store, or another Wal-Mart, and they'll know who you are (By they, I mean Admiral Poindexter and John Ashcroft). Big Brother on steroids.
It was just a matter of time
Two University of Michigan students were killed by a pickup truck while crossing Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor last night. The students were apparently returning from the Islamic Center on the north side of Plymouth to their student housing on the south side. The road is a complete free-for-all at that point, with cars from both directions regularly exceeding the already excessive 40 mph speed limit. The cops give the same reaction that I've seen to concerns about the dangers of right-on-red to pedestrians and cyclists:

Lt. Michael Logghe said that the police department is aware of the concerns about the intersection, but that police have not seen a disproportionate number of accidents there.

That people have been literally running for their lives doesn't seem to matter until one or two of them fail. There are only two reasons that there aren't even more pedestrians and cyclists killed on our roads: Most Americans won't even risk walking or riding anymore, and those of us that do proceed with the heightened awareness of an Army patrol in Fallujah. And don't forget that the death toll on our highways EVERY MONTH exceeds that of 9/11.
More on Private Lynch
In my review of last night's TV movie below, I failed to mention the pukiest moment. When the Rangers finally found Jessica, they told her "We're American soldiers!" She replied "I'm an American soldier, too!" And the Ranger said "Yes you are" (or something similar) in his best tuck-the-three-year-old-into-bed voice. I wonder if Jessica remembers it that way.

Billmon has some great private thoughts, including these:

Interestingly enough, Lynch -- who was never more than a passive participant in her capture and rescue -- suddenly has taken an active role in that bigger story. In her interview with Sawyer, Lynch supposedly says she believes she was manipulated and exploited by the military to build support for the war.

This immediately poses a problem for the people who did the manipulating and the exploiting -- and for the people who believed them. Having a pretty blonde soldier (GI Barbie) to dress up as a war hero is one thing. But having a talking Barbie, and one that doesn't just repeat the little catch phrases burned onto her chip, is another.

So now Private Lynch has to be lynched, a job which the vast right-wing conspiracy has taken up with gusto. A reader wrote in yesterday to tell me that attacking Lynch has suddenly become the topic de jour on conservative talk radio:

One guy just called in and said "Lynch is a disgrace and proof that women shouldn't be in the military."

One caller says he "wanted to punch her teeth out."

Caller just said "She ain't no hero."

It seems our true-blue hawks, who only a few months ago were insisting Jessica Lynch was an American hero, and that anyone who doubted her story was a stinking terrorist lover, are now telling us that Lynch is a national disgrace, and that anyone who believes her is a stinking terrorist lover.

Time to send in the Liberal Rangers to save her, I guess!

Billmon has more on the Freeway Blogger.

From Doonesbury.
Saving Jessica Lynch
I'll confess, I watched NBC's docudrama last night. I haven't followed all of the twists and turns of the story, so I can't pretend to vouch for its veracity. Of the stories that have already been discredited by Lynch or others, the only one that I noticed that actually made it into the movie was the one about her being slapped while in the hospital. Even then, they only showed one slap, and did nothing to suggest that she was being regularly abused or tortured.

They tried to bring as much drama as they could to what turns out to be a pretty boring story, focusing on the Iraqi lawyer who told the Americans where Lynch was being held. Other than that, the story is: Due to a truck getting caught in a sinkhole, several supply vehicles are left behind by a large convoy. After extracting the truck, they try to catch up but get lost. The CO makes a terrible decision to go into Nasiriya (sp?) before it has been conquered by other US troops. Since they were a maintenance/supply unit, their only weaponry was their rifles. Once in Nasiriya ("so much for cheering crowds," says Jessica as they enter the town to sullen looks), they get trapped by roadblocks and fired on with guns and RPG's. While Lynch helps to keep other soldiers in the back of her vehicle supplied with ammo, she doesn't fire her rifle. Eventually, in the panic and confusion, her friend Lori Piestawa rear-ends the truck in front of them, killing several in the vehicle and wounding the rest, including Lynch. Clearly outnumbered and running out of ammo, the surviving Americans surrender.

The rescue mission was portrayed as neither heroic or botched. The hospital had no armed defense; according to the film "Fedayeen" fighters had left the building shortly before to take part in a near-by battle. They found Jessica, put her on a chopper, and then found the graves of the Americans, including Piestawa, who didn't survive. Frankly, the overall story was pretty boring, lacking much in the way of drama. It certainly didn't glamorize the war, and didn't really glamorize Jessica or the rescue, either. Apparently there really never was a lot of a story here, and NBC showed that last night. Chances are the film will rarely get shown again.
Corporate Welfare
There's a good article in today's NY Times about a huge aircraft maintenance facility built for United in Indianapolis, using $320 million of state and local tax money, which now stands empty, providing neither jobs nor tax revenues for the area. There was a similar article in Mother Jones a couple of years ago about a shipyard renovated in Philadelphia for a Norwegian shipbuilder, at a cost of $429 million to the taxpayers. Alabama has offered $126 million in incentives to Hyundai to build cars in Montgomery.

I was going to write a long rant on this, but I already did, back in May. I'll just update a little: the Borders strike and the Wal-Mart issues and the war are all part of the same struggle to get money and power out of the hands of people and into the hands of corporations.

The Constitution says:

The Congress shall have Power ...To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States.

That Congress has allowed this unbridled ruinous competition between states to go on for decades, destroying communities, unions and the environment, when they have full constitutional authority to regulate or even stop it altogether, is one of the clearest signs of who they actually work for (hint--if you're not a millionaire, it's not you).

Atrios asks why the cities and states don't have smart lawyers who require the corporations to assume more of the risk when they receive this corporate welfare? Short answer, IMHO: There's always another state, or country, willing to offer them the same deal with making them assume the risk.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Boycott Borders and Amazon
Borders employees here in Ann Arbor are striking against the store. I just came back from joining the picketers for an hour. Please help them by not shopping at Borders,, or Waldenbooks until the strike is settled and the workers get the benefits they deserve.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

How Utterly Depressing
I know I'm supposed to be a good little anybody-but-Bush soldier and congratulate Howard Dean on his success at convincing a lot of people that he is the best candidate to beat Bush, but I can't do it. He is the front-runner for the nomination, getting millions in campaign donations and tons of free publicity--Time and Newsweek covers, full hours on Meet the Press, lots of press coverage whenever he says something smart or stupid, and there have been plenty of both--because the powers that be are allowing him to be the front-runner. He opposed the war when it couldn't be stopped and supports it now when it could; he's friendly to the corporations, keeping the Pentagon money flowing and keeping the insurance companies' profits safe with his health care plan; and he supports the death penalty, capital's ultimate lever on labor. He'd rather appeal to southern rednecks than northern liberals, but lots of northern liberals support him anyway, for some reason. And now he's breaking a promise he made eight months ago:

March 7, 2003:

"Howard Dean committed Friday to taking taxpayer dollars to finance his presidential campaign.... He promised to make it an issue in the Democratic primaries if any of his rivals decide to skip public financing, as President Bush did en route to winning the Republican nomination in 2000. 'It will be a huge issue,' Dean said. 'I think most Democrats believe in campaign finance reform.'"

November 8, 2003:

Front-Runner Howard Dean became on Saturday the first Democratic presidential candidate ever to reject taxpayer money and avoid the accompanying spending limits, saying he had to act to compete against President Bush's cash-rich campaign. "We have supported public financing, but the unabashed actions of this president to undercut our Democratic process with floods of special interest money have forced us to abandon a broken system,'' the former Vermont governor said at a news conference.
-- from Big, Left, Outside

Of course Dean would be better than Bush--any object on the planet, animate or inanimate, would be better than Bush. But we need to change the system so that no more Bushes are possible. Bill Clinton obviously wasn't the one to do it, and neither is Howard Dean, with this latest capitulation to corporate interests as the clearest evidence. Kucinich, Sharpton, and maybe Mosely Braun offer a chance for real change, and with a lot of wishful thinking I can see some hope for Clark, Edwards, or maybe even Kerry. But Dean is for sale, and is all about coming up with a strategy to beat Bush and Rove at their own game, playing on their field by their rules. Even if he wins, he will have taken so much corporate money to do so that we won't see any big improvements, only a slowing in the rate of decline. And Jeb will be there waiting for him in 2008 with $500 million in the bank.
Winning the War on Terror
Headlines from CNN's main web page this morning:
Terror threat prompts closure of U.S. Embassy in Riyadh
Terrorists might use cargo planes in U.S. attack
Red Cross closing offices in Baghdad, Basra
Blowback: Afghanistan on the brink

Meanwhile, back home:
Police defend guns-drawn drug raid at school
Millions not getting school breakfasts
Some schools moving to four-day week

AWol will of course say that they said from the start that the "war on terror" would be long and hard, ignoring the fact that everything he has done since stealing office, and especially since 9/11, has worked to make it longer and harder. But it seems clear to me that this is exactly what he wanted. Money flows out of school breakfasts into Halliburton boardrooms and on to Republican fundraisers, allowing the cycle to continue. Bush is a crock, the war on terror is a crock, Congress is a crock, our current system of "government" is a crock.

Land of the Free?
This letter was forwarded to me through the Kucinich campaign. You may find it interesting.

This is from Frank Amrose and Marie Mason of Sweetwater Alliance, those who have received the subpeonas for the grand jury. This was about a protest at Ford on Friday, Nov. 7 from 4:00-6:00 PM in Dearborn. Kucinich folks, were you there? If so, please tell what happened in the protest.

Protesting is illegal in Dearborn, MI according to the police. We (Marie, Andrei, and myself) showed up at Village Ford this evening (friday) to have a peaceful picket as part of the national day of action at Ford. We did not even have our 3 foot by 4 foot banner unfurled when a police car came screeching up the sidewalk and nearly hit Marie. It scared her and caused her to drop her camera. The cop jumped out and yelled at us to leave now or be arrested. He said we could not protest here. I said, "where, in America?" He did not respond. He asked for our ID's aggressively, which we refused to give him. In the US, you are not required to have or show an ID on your person or show ID while walking on the sidewalk, no matter how gruffly the request is made. In the meantime, Marie called our attorney, Buck Davis. While he was on the line, the cop tried to illegally search me. I told him that I did not consent to a search and unless I was under arrest, he did not have that right. He told me he did. Marie told him that he should talk to our attorney, as there have been supreme court cases guaranteeing the right to not be unreasonably searched.

We ended up leaving, as we did not want to get arrested. We figured the grand jury subpoenas and Marie's court cases were enough to deal with for one week. As we were trying to drive away, they pulled us over. Again the police tried to get all of our ID's, but everyone but Andrei (who was driving) refused, as is our right. The cop said that he wanted our ID's as a part of an investigation. We told him that unless we were under arrest, then we would not identify ourselves or show our ID's.

We still had our attorney on the line, and offered again to the officers to talk to Buck. They said they did not want to talk to him. We then told him that we wanted to leave because we didnt have anything to say to them regarding their investigation of the attempted picket at the Ford Dealership. He then took the drivers info down and gave Andrei his license back and told us we were free to go. They followed us until we left Dearborn.

It is a pretty surreal experience to be run out of town. It just goes to show who really calls the shots in Dearborn--Ford. We are not sure if others tried to come to the protest and were similarly run out, but hopefully not.

Since Village Ford would not let us talk to the public for the hour we planned to picket, we are encouraging people to call Village Ford at 313-565-3900 (they are closed on the weekend). Please tell them to stop selling gas guzzling cars and trucks and start selling fuel efficient hybrids. Also tell them to respect people's first amendment rights. It is reprehensible for them to call the gestapo out to prevent a peaceful protest.

Frank and Marie and Andrei

Massasauga Earth First!
PO Box 44173
Detroit, MI 48244

Friday, November 07, 2003

The Three Stooges Admire Their Handiwork

Iraqi Focus Group

Iraqi men protest in the center of Baghdad, Friday, Nov 7, 2003. About 500 people marched toward coalition headquarters to protest the arrest of 36 clerics over the past couple of months. They chanted Islamic slogans including 'America's army will be wiped out,' and 'America is the enemy of God.' (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Losing Feith?
Asia Times reports that Wolfowitz underling and neocon extraordinaire may be about to take the fall, deservedly so, for the Iraq mess.
Being irresponsible can be the only responsible thing to do
From Ted Rall:
It's high time that victorious Democrats stop being suckered by reckless Republicans into cleaning up their messes. Walking behind the elephant with a pail and a smelly broom might be the right thing to do, but it doesn't earn you any respect after the parade. All Democrats worthy of the name ought to sign a pledge to ignore problems caused by Republican administrations and leave them to their Republican successors. Let the GOP deficit ride, and pass socialized medicine while you're at it. Keep the bloated HomeSec bureaucracy on the payroll, and change its mission to something useful, like making a serious attempt to guard our borders. Run up the deficit like there's no tomorrow. Withdraw our troops; when the Iraqi civil war spreads throughout the region, some smart future Republican president will figure it out.

I can hear you grumbling: but that's irresponsible! Yes. It. Is. But playing the sap to Republican fait accomplis is like paying off your drunken kid's gambling debts. It makes you an enabler of destructive behavior--and that's even worse than throwing your hands up in the air and walking away. Let's give the GOP some tough love.

Billmon reviews Bush's speech
I think I like his review better than mine. An excerpt from his:

But the really amusing thing was what happened when Shrub finally got around to talking about the Middle East. Suddenly, we discovered that all those regimes we thought were corrupt feudal autocracies are actually vibrant democracies, or at least well on their way towards becoming ones:

Governments across the Middle East and North Africa are beginning to see the need for change. Morocco has a diverse new parliament; King Mohammed has urged it to extend the rights to women...
In Bahrain last year, citizens elected their own parliament for the first time in nearly three decades. Oman has extended the vote to all adult citizens; Qatar has a new constitution; Yemen has a multiparty political system; Kuwait has a directly elected national assembly; and Jordan held historic elections this summer.

Even the House of Saud -- that bizarre product of Wahhabi absolutism, mind-boggling corruption and Scotch whiskey -- is finally coming around, according to Shrub:

The Saudi government is taking first steps toward reform, including a plan for gradual introduction of elections. By giving the Saudi people a greater role in their own society, the Saudi government can demonstrate true leadership in the region.
And so, deux ex machina, the Arab world's democracy deficit has been corrected-- at least in those countries that fall within the U.S. orbit. We don't need to push the Saudis to reform, because they're already reforming! Oman may be an absolute monarchy in which all power rests with an aging, illiterate tribal sheikh, but hey, at least everybody has the theoretical right to vote!

The point of Shrub's "revolution" seems to be this: Get yourself a token parliament, hold a few rigged elections, make a few noises about rights for women, and you, too, can be in good graces with Uncle Sam and Big Oil. Playing host to a few American military bases doesn't hurt, either.

But of course, there are still a few hold outs amid this rising tide of U.S. approved democracy:

The regime in Teheran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy.
Even for Shrub, this is hutzpah. For all its obvious flaws, Iran is a hell of a lot more democratic than any of the feudal oil kingdoms Bush cited in his speech. It has a real parliament, with substantive budgetary and oversight powers, holds real elections, and has a president who can stake a stronger claim to a popular mandate than having the votes of five Supreme Court justices.

Whose Government Is It?
The Bush White House, irritated by pesky questions from congressional Democrats about how the administration is using taxpayer money, has developed an efficient solution: It will not entertain any more questions from opposition lawmakers.
The director of the White House Office of Administration, Timothy A. Campen, sent an e-mail titled "congressional questions" to majority and minority staff on the House and Senate Appropriations panels. Expressing "the need to add a bit of structure to the Q&A process," he wrote: "Given the increase in the number and types of requests we are beginning to receive from the House and Senate, and in deference to the various committee chairmen and our desire to better coordinate these requests, I am asking that all requests for information and materials be coordinated through the committee chairmen and be put in writing from the committee."
-- Washington Post

Since by the profoundly undemocratic rules in Congress that all committee chairmen come from the majority party, this means that Republicans can screen any requests for information from the administration coming from Congressional Democrats and independents. Let's hope that Congress makes a huge stink about this, including some Republicans who still remember when they used to have principles.
While Auntie Trust is dead, Aunt Thrax may still be sending us letters:

Nearly a dozen area post offices remained closed Friday while authorities tried to determine whether anthrax was found at a Navy facility that handles mail for federal agencies. -- AP

It's been two years since anthrax killed several people around the country. No one has been identified as responsible, although one person has been harrassed nearly to death.
Jessica Lynch, Heroine
She's a heroine now because she's denying the false tales of heroism that the military has been peddling:

Asked by the ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer if the military's portrayal of the rescue bothered her, Ms. Lynch said: "Yeah, it does. It does that they used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. Yeah, it's wrong," according to a partial transcript of the interview to be broadcast on Tuesday.
Asked how she felt about the reports of her heroism, Ms. Lynch told Ms. Sawyer, "It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about. Only I would have been able to know that, because the other four people on my vehicle aren't here to tell the story. So I would have been the only one able to say, yeah, I went down shooting. But I didn't."

Maybe Shoshana Johnson will get her fifteen minutes now.
Seven more soldiers killed
Six in a Blackhawk crash. Six more wounded as well.

At least the NY Times is now reporting all of the deaths caused by aWol:

Those deaths brought to 382 the number of American soldiers who have died in Iraq or Kuwait since the United States invaded Iraq on March 19.

In most previous reports, they have just given the deaths from hostile fire since May 1, which is about 1/3 of that number. I guess they finally realized that those who died in accidents, or from illness, or suicide, or whatever, or who died before May1, are just as dead, and their families grieve just as much (and their president cares just as little).
Go Michelle!
A month ago, I suggested to reader Michelle from Missouri that maybe she should start her own blog. She said at first that she wouldn't, saying she could never keep it up. Well, she changed her mind, and now I have trouble keeping up with her! Lots of great stuff on her blog!

Two of my favorite bloggers, Tom Tomorrow and Atrios, became my favorite bloggers because they would link to interesting stuff that you'd miss if you just checked the standard news sites. While they're still great bloggers, I think they spend WAY too much blog space responding to the inanities of wingnuts like Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds, and Donald Luskin. I have only the vaguest notion who these people are, and don't really care much. So I've been looking for some other blogs to help me find the really cool or outrageous stories that we really need to know about. Michelle seems to have stepped right in and delivered! Thanks Michelle!

And if you catch me spending my time whining about Andy or Glenn or Donald, please let me know, and go read Michelle's blog until I've recovered.

But do what you will anyway.TM

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Leading in the race to the bottom. The Washington Post has an article about the ruthless cost-cutter from Arkansas and its impact on labor. It never once mentions anti-trust. The article includes this argument:

Some economists argue that the Wal-Martization of the American workforce is simply the free-market system functioning as it should. Gary Stibel, founder and principal of the New England Consulting Group, said Wal-Mart has saved consumers more than $20 billion through its discount pricing. Figuring in Wal-Mart's pressure on other retailers to lower prices, savings top $100 billion, he said.

"In this day and age, the United States needs more companies like Wal-Mart to create jobs, even if not at the highest pay," Stibel said. "The company that makes its mark by taking the cost of manufacturing products and services up will lose, and the country that promotes that will lose."

Lord knows you need discount prices when your wage-earning possibilities are being constantly attacked by Wal-Mart. Stibel, of course, doesn't mention how many billions of dollars have been cut from paychecks due to Wal-Mart's influence. No corporation should be allowed to have anywhere near the amount of power that Wal-Mart now yields. Cutting costs means taking money out of somebody's pocket. A huge multi-national like Wal-Mart takes money out of the pockets of its employees, as well as those working for competitors, and puts it in the hands of their shareholders and corporate officers. We're indoctrinated from an early age in this country to believe in the free-market system, as Stibel does. It has obviously won out over "love thy neighbor" or "we're all in this together" as our guiding philosophy. And the vast majority of us are worse off for that.
Bush's Speech
Is now on the White House web site. It's better than you would expect, I guess. I think it's basically a throwaway speech with all the right platitudes, like the speech he gave in Senegal last summer about slavery. And while he directs his complaints mainly at Syria and Iran, he does mention that neither Egypt nor Saudi Arabia has a democratic government. He says it in a complimentary way, though:

The Saudi government is taking first steps toward reform, including a plan for gradual introduction of elections. By giving the Saudi people a greater role in their own society, the Saudi government can demonstrate true leadership in the region.

The great and proud nation of Egypt has shown the way toward peace in the Middle East, and now should show the way toward democracy in the Middle East.

And, of course, he uses democracy as an excuse for his brutal misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq:

These vital principles are being applies in the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq. With the steady leadership of President Karzai, the people of Afghanistan are building a modern and peaceful government. Next month, 500 delegates will convene a national assembly in Kabul to approve a new Afghan constitution. The proposed draft would establish a bicameral parliament, set national elections next year, and recognize Afghanistan's Muslim identity, while protecting the rights of all citizens. Afghanistan faces continuing economic and security challenges -- it will face those challenges as a free and stable democracy. (Applause.)

In Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council are also working together to build a democracy -- and after three decades of tyranny, this work is not easy. The former dictator ruled by terror and treachery, and left deeply ingrained habits of fear and distrust. Remnants of his regime, joined by foreign terrorists, continue their battle against order and against civilization. Our coalition is responding to recent attacks with precision raids, guided by intelligence provided by the Iraqis, themselves. And we're working closely with Iraqi citizens as they prepare a constitution, as they move toward free elections and take increasing responsibility for their own affairs. As in the defense of Greece in 1947, and later in the Berlin Airlift, the strength and will of free peoples are now being tested before a watching world. And we will meet this test.

At least it doesn't sound like a call to another war. It was a fairly nice speech written for him, and he read it. I'm fairly sure that he would fail a test on it. (Mr. President, name five of the countries that you said, in your speech, have made recent progress towards democracy? (He mentioned Morocco, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Kuwait and Jordan.) Mr. President, can you give me a brief summary of what actually DID happen in Greece in 1947, like who was fighting whom, which side the US backed, what the result was? Can you even tell us who the US president was at the time?)
Hack! Cough!
EPA to drop pollution cases.

A change in enforcement policy will lead the Environmental Protection Agency to drop investigations into 50 power plants for past violations of the Clean Air Act, lawyers at the agency who were briefed on the decision this week said.

The lawyers said in interviews on Wednesday that the decision meant the cases would be judged under new, less stringent rules set to take effect next month, rather than the stricter rules in effect at the time the investigations began.

I would hazard a guess that you and I run a much greater risk of premature death from air pollution than we do of dying in a terrorist attack. The Bush administration is actively increasing the odds of both, however. Heck, if you live in lower Manhattan, you can do both at the same time!
So what's this about?
Bush calls for Democratic Reforms in the Middle East. The article describes a speech that aWol gave this morning, and is a mix of direct quotes and paraphrases, like this:

He said the United States and other nations shared blame for the lack of democratic freedoms in the Middle East.

"Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe because in the long run stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty,'' Bush said.

The White House web site doesn't have the speech posted yet, so it's hard to tell exactly what he said. If he's really discussing the un-Democratic regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and so on, in addition to his usual bogeymen Syria and Iran, and he's admitting that US policy has played a role in all of this, it certainly is interesting. Interesting good or interesting scary, it's hard to tell. Judging by his track record, I'm guessing scary. Connected to those warplanes over Scotland? Who knows?

From Steve Benson.
Two more soldiers killed
and two wounded in two incidents.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Blending In

Tony Blair has pre-shredded this dodgy dossier for convenience, and seems rather sexed up about it.
We do more before 9 AM...

A soldier from 1-22, 4ID, uses a pocket knife to scratch an anti-american poster bearing the face of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) off a lamp post in the streets of Hussein's hometown Tikrit. (AFP/Roberto Schmidt) From a Yahoo! slide show.
See? They're going to school!

That "Fair and Balanced" up there isn't just empty rhetoric!
Hard to keep track
This article seems to indicate ten more US soldiers wounded today in various attacks, along with numerous Iraqis.

Stole this from Michelle, who says it's from Alan Brisbort. Thanks Michelle, Alan!
Quote du Jour
Any democratically elected Iraqi government is unlikely to be secular, and unlikely to be pro-Israel. And frankly, moderately unlikely to be pro-American. -- Dr. Noah Feldman, a leading American expert in Islamic law, who served as senior constitutional adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority, working closely with Paul Bremer.


Too Nothing, Too Never
A few weeks ago, I sent Senator Debbie Stabenow (DLC-MI) an e-mail asking her to support Senator Kennedy in opposing the $87 billion "keep those flag-draped coffins coming" legislation. Here's her response, which I just received today (after she's already sold us and the troops down the river):

November 5, 2003

Mr. Bob Goodsell

Thank you . . .

. . for contacting me with your concerns about the Iraq-Afghanistan emergency supplemental appropriations bill that is on its way to the President for his signature. I share many of your concerns about this legislation.

While it is critical to fully support our troops during this dangerous time in Iraq and Afghanistan, I strongly opposed providing $20 billion for Iraqi reconstruction without a requirement that Iraqis repay at least a portion of this back in the future. During Senate consideration of this legislation, I supported an amendment, which passed by a vote of 51 to 47, that would have required half of the reconstruction funds to be given in the form of a loan. Unfortunately, at the insistence of the Bush administration and leaders of the House of Representatives, this loan provision was dropped in the final bill.

However, this is not the end of this matter. My colleagues and I intend to revisit this issue in the future because U.S. taxpayers should not simply give away billions of dollars to a country like Iraq with significant oil reserves and the capacity to fund its own reconstruction. Other countries have agreed to provide loans, not grants, to Iraq and there is no reason why the United States should not do the same.

You should also know that during Senate consideration of this legislation, I offered an amendment that would have delayed $5 billion of funds for Iraqi reconstruction until next year and used this money to create jobs and provide health care for the our citizens here at home. Administration officials have clearly indicated that only $8 billion, of the $20 billion total, could actually be spent in the next year in Iraq.

My legislation, called "A Month for America", which represents the approximate amount we spend in Iraq per month, would have provided $5 billion to improve our roads and bridges, build new schools, and provide quality health care to our veterans and working families who do not have health insurance. While my amendment was defeated, I will continue to fight for Michiganians who are struggling to make ends meet in these troubled economic times. I believe the Administration and the Congress should have the same sense of urgency about our needs here at home as they do about the needs in Iraq.

Thank you again for contacting my office. Please feel free to do so again in the future whenever I can be of assistance to you and your family.

Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator

So it's a "Month for America" and a decade for Halliburton. Sorry, Deb, but that's a completely insipid response. So cheap about helping to rebuild a country that we, in large part, destroyed, yet so generous in providing the billions to keep our soldiers in harm's way. Who exactly are you representing with this frankly criminal vote? What cause are you furthering? Bring the troops home, now, and stop caving in to the criminals in the White House.

Proposal B Wins By 2-1 Margin
Article from the Ann Arbor News.
Reality slowly dawning on Americans
A Washington Post/ABC poll shows that "only one in seven Americans agrees with President Bush's assertion that the conflict in Iraq is the most important fight in the war on terrorism."
Profile in Cowardice
$87.5 Billion, and only SIX senators bothered to show up for the vote.

Few had the guts to oppose Halliburton's Christmas present, and only one showed up to vote no: Sen. Robert Byrd. A voice vote was used so nobody's vote was officially recorded.
Scandal Update
Just a sample: (sorry, Blogger doesn't seem to like tables--it's down there somewhere!)

Scandal Status Firings, Arrests, Impeachments, etc.

Florida 2000 Election Fraud
George W. Bush continues to occupy the White House Katherine Harris is now in Congress; Jeb Bush was re-elected as Florida governor last year.
Cheney Energy Task Force The energy bill is still under consideration by Congress, including the ANWR drilling. None.
9/11: What Bush Knew and When He Knew It The administration continues to stonewall the 9/11 commission. Yeah, right.
Enron/Bush manipulation of California energy prices The state was flat broke even before the recent fires Davis out, Schwarzeneggar in.
Wellstone Crash (At least I think it's a scandal) Still no
on the suspicious crash
 Republicans now control the Senate
Lies and Lying Liars on WMD's Still nothing found; WMD hunters may be reassigned as security forces involved in fighting the war the lies about WMD's started. If only.
Detainees at Guantanamo Bay Hundreds still held, some for nearly two years, with no legal rights. Several military personnel arrested, probably for having sympathy for the "detainees."
Enemy Combatants Two or three US citizens detained indefinitely without charges or legal representation. Ashcrotch seeking Patriot Act II.
Wilson/Plame Affair Professionals at Justice Department professionally dragging their professional feet. Expect report after 2004 election or hell freezing over, whichever comes last. Plame's career is ruined, and her life and those of her CIA contacts are now in danger.
Big Republican Donor Corporations given Huge Contracts Business as usual. Congress just approved $87 billion more for Halliburton's bottom line.

Billmon is a genius

CBS Vows to Block Bush Expose

Apr 1, 2010 -- CBS says it agrees with Department of Homeland Security censors that a purported video about the seven-year-long conflict in Iraq should be banned from the U.S. airwaves.

Conservatives say the show -- allegedly being produced by underground subversives -- unfairly blames former President George W. Bush for pushing America into an unwinnable war in a deeply fragmented Third World country.

Government informants have told the DHS (which in turn has told the New York Times) that the film will portray Bush as an ignorant but arrogant man convinced the Lord God chose him to bring peace to the Middle East.

Supposedly, the documentary also alleges that Saddam Hussein's regime did not possess weapons of mass destruction before the U.S. invasion.

Conservative critics say the search for WMD in Iraq continues to make good progress. Suggesting otherwise, they note, is strictly prohibited by the VICTORY III Act, the Official Secrets Act of 2005, and the Sedition Act of 2007.

CBS says that if copies of the alleged video surface, they will be aired at a public show trial, and then immediately burnt.
-- That's just one of many views into the future that Billmon gives us.

Iraq the Vote!
I watched the first half or so of the "Rock the Vote" debate last night. I thought it was strange that they would hold a "Rock the Vote" debate while polls were open across the country. It started at 7 EST, 4 PST. I wonder how many of the young voters they were supposedly targeting stayed home watching the debate instead of voting in their local elections? Actually, probably not that many. The vast majority most likely stayed home and didn't watch the debate.

John Kerry got off to a rip-roaringly bad start, IMHO, by completely missing the point of his first question, and capping it with a flawed punch line:

Q: You're the manager of the Boston Red Sox. It's game seven of the ALCS versus the New York Yankees. Your starting pitcher appears to be tiring. You know it's best for the team to replace him, but the star asks to stay in. Do you make an executive decision and take him out? Or do you listen to your star and let him, the person who you hired in that role, and let him finish that job?

Kerry responds with a bunch of tired "long-suffering Red Sox fans" jokes in the process of not answering the question. He seemed to completely miss the metaphor, as I read it. To me the meaning of the question was, "When you are president, will you put loyalty to the people in your administration ahead of loyalty to the country?" This was certainly a key issue in the Nixon and Reagan administrations, where those presidents refused to fire cabinet members and others who were clearly doing wrong and harming the country. Currently, both Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice have exhibited both substantial incompetence and substantial dishonesty, but aWol won't fire them (I think he respects those qualities).

Even if the guy who asked the question didn't intend the metaphor, it was clearly an opportunity for Kerry to discuss an important topic. He didn't even answer the question straight until moderator Anderson Cooper pushed him on it in the end.

Kerry's flawed punch line? Every single one of us ought to celebrate the Marlins beating the Yankees. And the reason it's extra special is that's the first legitimate victory out of Florida since 2000.

Um, John? Don't you mean 1998 or '96? I don't recall the 2000 election being legitimate.

Okay, I'm bored with this for now. I'll come back to reviewing the debate later (i.e. ABOVE this post), or not.

Russian Limbaugh
Okay, that title doesn't really make sense, but it got your attention! This article by Matt Taibbi examines what's happening in Russia with Putin's arrest of a multi-billionaire tycoon, and why the US press seems to be siding with the tycoon. Excerpt:

Many of us who spent the 90s in Russia became aware over time that the aim of the United States was to create a rump state that would allow economic interests to strip assets at will. The population in this scheme was to be good for consuming foreign goods produced abroad with Russia’s own cheaply sold raw materials. The aim was a castrated state, anarchy, a vast, confused territory of captive consumers, cheap labor and unguarded oil and aluminum.

Some of us who came home after seeing this began to realize that the same process is underway in the United States: the erosion of the tax base, the gradual appropriation of the tools of government by economic interests, a massive, disorganized population useless to everybody except as shoppers. That is their revolution: smashing states everywhere and creating a scattered global nation of villas and tax shelters, as inaccessible as Olympus, forbidding entry even to mighty dictators.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Prop B Wins!
I spent several hours over the past week working on the campaign, and Ann Arbor's greenbelt proposal has passed! A victory over sprawl.
Coming after headquarters
Four Coalition Provisional Authority personnel were wounded Tuesday night when three large explosions shook central Baghdad, the Pentagon said.

Projectiles landed in the heavily secure "Green Zone" that includes a former palace of ousted leader Saddam Hussein where the U.S. occupation headquarters are situated. The projectiles did not land on palace grounds, officials said.
-- CNN
Yes on B!
One last request! Polls in Ann Arbor close at 8. Vote for parks and open space!
Warplanes on the warpath?
Be afraid. Be very afraid:

Since Saturday, people in the Highlands of Scotland have been witnessing large movements of US warplanes overhead. Experienced observers say the large numbers are reminiscent of those that preceded the bombing of Iraq in 1998 and military strikes on Libyai in the1980’s as well as the first Gulf War.

At the weekend warplanes were flying over at a rate of roughly one every 15 minutes. As well as watching them from the ground the plane spotters have also been able to overhear pilots talking by listening to their radio frequencies.

It is thought that the planes have flown on a route from the US over the north pole to bases in Europe and the Mediterranean. The size and scale of the movement suggests that the US may be preparing to strike at a country in the Middle East in the next week to ten days.
-- Indymedia via Michelle.

aWol to get unroyal welcome in England
Anti-war campaigners will prop grinning effigies of George Bush on to pyres around the country, hoping to stoke up opposition to his state visit to Britain this month.

The gesture is an apt one, for the US president can expect pyrotechnics when he arrives on November 19. Protesters angered by the invitation hope it will backfire on the government; George Galloway MP has described it as "sheer political madness".

Activists say it is galvanizing opposition to the occupation of Iraq, and demonstrators will travel from across Europe to join the protests in London.
-- Guardian
Brits lose one, too
Another British serviceman has been killed in Iraq, Downing Street said today. Royal Marine Corporal Ian Plank, 31, was killed by hostile fire, the Ministry of Defence said. -- Independent

Coalition of the Dying?

Meanwhile, BQ I continues
That's Bush Quagmire I, aka Afghanistan:

The deaths of six villagers in what Afghan officials said was a U.S. airstrike embarrassed President Hamid Karzai's government Monday as it tried to rally support for a draft constitution that is key to reuniting this war-ravaged country. The attack Friday night destroyed two houses in the village of Warez in the eastern province of Nuristan, killing four children, a woman and a young man, Deputy Governor Abdul Haleem Nooristani said in a telephone interview. -- NY Times.

The bombed houses belong to central government supporters Maulvi Ismail Khan and Maulvi Ghulam Rabani, the former governor of Kunar province, Nooristani said.

Rabani's 16-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter were among the dead, added Nooristani, who said American troops had ignored warnings to check with provincial authorities before launching attacks, to avoid being misled by Afghan guides who use U.S. forces to settle local scores.

I've had the frequently-confirmed suspicion that Air Force jets have been flying over Afghanistan for two years, dropping bombs occasionally on the flimsiest of rumors, often as tools of warring factions. They've probably gotten the occasional Taliban or al Qaeda leader, along with several wedding parties, government supporters, Canadians, and even Americans. Once, they almost got Karzai himself. All to get revenge on 19 people who are already dead. (Karl: "There's nothing like revenge for gettin' back at people." Lenny: "I dunno. Vengeance is pretty sweet, too.")

(BTW, spellcheck suggests that "Maulvi Ghulam Rabani" be spelled "Malibu Giuliani Rabin.")
Kucinich Online Chat at Post now finished
Excellent answers, I dare say!
One more killed, two more wounded
-- NY Times
Kucinich Online at the Post
Why do Cheney and Bush hate America?
I think that the proposition of going to Baghdad is also fallacious. I think if we were going to remove Saddam Hussein we would have had to go all the way to Baghdad, we would have to commit a lot of force because I do not believe he would wait in the Presidential Palace for us to arrive. I think we'd have had to hunt him down. And once we'd done that and we'd gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and his government, then we'd have had to put another government in its place.

What kind of government? Should it be a Sunni government or Shi'i government or a Kurdish government or Ba'athist regime? Or maybe we want to bring in some of the Islamic fundamentalists? How long would we have had to stay in Baghdad to keep that government in place? What would happen to the government once U.S. forces withdrew? How many casualties should the United States accept in that effort to try to create clarity and stability in a situation that is inherently unstable?

I think it is vitally important for a President to know when to use military force. I think it is also very important for him to know when not to commit U.S. military force. And it's my view that the President got it right both times, that it would have been a mistake for us to get bogged down in the quagmire inside Iraq.
-- Dick Cheney, April 29, 1991.

If we had kept going, we would have gone beyond what we said we intended to do, beyond what our coalition partners agreed to, beyond what the UN Security Council signed up to, and beyond what the Congress and the American people approved. We entered the war with clear-cut military objectives.

We certainly had the military capability to go on to Baghdad, but for what purpose? To get Saddam Hussein? I doubt that he would have waited at his palace for us to drive up and get him. So we would have needed to send a very large force and might well have faced intensive combat inside the city. The artillery, tanks, and air power that performed so well for us in the open desert would not have been very useful inside a major city. That would have cost us dearly in terms of additional casualties. And I'm not sure what we would have done with Baghdad, once we had it.

But once we had prevailed and had toppled Saddam Hussein's government, we presumably would have had to stay there and put another government in place. And what would that have been: a Suni government, a Shia government, a Kurdish government, or another Bathist regime? How long would US forces have been required to say in to prop the government up? And how effective could it have been if the government we put in had been perceived as a puppet of the US military?

My guess is that if we had gone to Baghdad, we'd still have US forces there today. And to involve American forces in a civil war inside Iraq would have been a quagmire, because we would have gone in there with no clear-cut military objective. It's just as important to know when not to use force as it is to know when to use it. And we got it right both times.
-- President George H. W. Poppy Read My Lips Bush the 41st, March 30, 1992.

I'd say they were happier when Saddam was still in power! Thanks to Atrios for finding the Cheney quote and bringing it to our attention.

From Boondocks.

Answer to Caesar's question: Yes! (I love double-entendres, and this is a way-cool one. This is, I think, the third week that Boondocks has dealt with the "Find Condi a man so she'll stop destroying the world" them. The Washington Post refused to run the first week, but have run the rest.)
Shorter David Brooks1
Let us become the violence we deplore.2 Please.

From his column in today's NY Times:
The real doubts come when we see ourselves inflicting them. What will happen to the national mood when the news programs start broadcasting images of the brutal measures our own troops will have to adopt? Inevitably, there will be atrocities that will cause many good-hearted people to defect from the cause. They will be tempted to have us retreat into the paradise of our own innocence.

Somehow, over the next six months, until the Iraqis are capable of their own defense, the Bush administration is going to have to remind us again and again that Iraq is the Battle of Midway in the war on terror, the crucial turning point where either we will crush the terrorists' spirit or they will crush ours.

Brooks is trying to make the case that Saddam was SO bad that we are justified in killing tens of thousands of Iraqis, at the cost of thousands more American casualties, no matter how we do it. And even he doesn't seem completely convinced, since he has to throw in the bogus "war on terror" argument. As with all of these wingnuts, he fails miserably. Another thing: Brooks suggests incorrectly that the brutal measures from our troops are all in the future. He's unfortunately pretty much right to suggest that news programs haven't started broadcasting images of them.

  1. The "shorter" concept comes from the blog Busy Busy Busy.
  2. Based on the quote from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) when she cast the ONLY vote in Congress opposing the war in Afghanistan.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Getting There...
OK, I'll spell it out: George W. Bush and his entire senior administration lied, and continue to lie, flagrantly, openly, knowingly, with full intent, about the need to drive this nation into a brutal and unwinnable and fiscally debilitating war, one that protects no one and inhibits no terrorism and defends nothing but BushCo's own petrochemical cronies and political stratagems. -- Mark Morford in SF Gate.
Iraq War Memorial
I wonder if anyone has started an Iraq War Memorial similar to the Vietnam Memorial. Maybe just a blank wall on the side of some building in Washington, with the names carved into it.
Dennis Kucinich in Washington Post online interview
Tomorrow, Tuesday, 11 am. Jason, a local Kucinich campaign leader, encourages us to get involved, and tells us how:

1. Go to
2. A screen may pop-up where you enter age, gender and zipcode.
3. In the righthand column there should be a link to the forum.
4. After clicking on this link, you should be able to see the candidate's questions and answers; scroll down to click on "get new responses" or "submit question."

Please feel free to ask Dennis some tough questions--he's good with those, and will surprise a lot of people who are used to the usual crap coming from politicians, or the especially stinky crap coming from the administration.

Then again, you might want to toss Kucinich a few hanging curveballs that he can hit out of the park. Here are some suggestions (and feel free to e-mail me with others!):
  • Representative Kucinich, your positions on the issues seem to be excellent, and tens of millions of Americans agree with you--on NAFTA, on the war, on universal health care. Why are numbskulls like Bush and Lieberman considered mainstream while you're supposed to be the radical? I think everybody's got it all backwards.
  • Mr. Kucinich: I REALLY want to vote for you, but I just have to be sure of one thing. The first Bush administration pardoned several of the criminals who were involved in the Iran-Contra scandal while they worked in the Reagan administration. Some of them are now "serving" in the current Bush administration. When you are president, you're not planning on pardoning any of the criminals in the current administration, are you?
  • Representative Kucinich: When you're elected, will you appoint Al Sharpton as your press secretary? I mean, you're the better candidate and all, but I really like hearing him talk!
  • Mr. Kucinich: There seems to be some debate as to whether Bush pursues his insane policies because he's stupid or because he's evil. Where do you stand on this?
  • President Kucinich? Do you mind if I call you President Kucinich? It makes me feel so good. Um...that was my question.

Death, mayhem, profits

(Cue John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John singing "They go together...")
Clinton blamed for booming economy
From a letter to the Ann Arbor News:
Both my husband and I were strong Democrats, until the Clinton years. We decided we didn't want anything more to do with a party that would condone his actions, and then lie and cheat the American public as they have done. This included inflating the economy, so most of us have lost thousands of dollars on our retirement funds, then blaming the Republicans coming into office.

Even Ann Arbor has its share of wingnut morons.
Ann Arbor News Endorses Yes on Proposition B
Here. I was out yesterday putting leaflets in doors. Prop B will give the city the right to purchase the development rights on rural land surrounding the city, giving farmers and other landowners a financial alternative to selling out to developers. Hopefully, it will stop or at least slow the outrageous sprawl we've seen for the past decade, along with the increase in traffic and pollution. I still think the best cure for sprawl is a hefty (I'm talking dollars) increase in the gasoline tax, but schemes like Prop B have a much better chance of passing and should do some good.

It may have a positive impact for those of you not in the Ann Arbor area, as well. The opposition to B campaign is being heavily funded by national homebuilder associations, who are afraid that passage will further a "domino effect" around the country. We can only hope!
Won't shake our resolve to keep committing the crime
American imperialism is prepared to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of Americans—and tens of thousands of Iraqis—to achieve its goal of securing control of the oil resources of Iraq and a key strategic position from which to dominate the Middle East. -- from a good article at WSWS.
Quote du Jour
People like Bush have been fanning distrust of government spending and complaining about welfare queens for years, but now those chickens are coming home to roost. Iraq looks like one big welfare queen from Peoria, and Bush looks like her no-good absentee husband. -- Fellow Ann Arborite Juan Cole.


From Ted Rall.
William Safire
Still demonstrating the kind of thinking he used back when he worked for Nixon, that added another 100 feet to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. From today's Safire op-ed in the NY Times:

Although such a retreat under fire would be euphemized as an "accelerated exit strategy," consider the consequences to U.S. security of premature departure:

Set aside the loss of U.S. prestige or America's credibility in dealing with other rogue nations acquiring nuclear weapons. Iraq itself would likely split apart. Shiites in the south would resist a return of repression by Saddam's Sunnis and set up a nation under the protection of Iran. Kurds in the north, fearing the return of Saddamism, would break away into an independent Kurdistan; that would induce Turkey, worried about separatism among its own Kurds, to seize the Iraqi oil fields of Kirkuk.

One result could well be a re-Saddamed Sunni triangle. Baghdad would then become the arsenal of terrorism, importer and exporter of nukes, bioweapons and missiles. There is no way we can let that happen. Either we stay in Baghdad until Iraq becomes a unified democratic beacon of freedom to the Arab world — or we pull out too soon, thereby allowing terrorism to establish its main world sanctuary and its agents to come and get us.

My rebuttal:
First, U.S. prestige is very low in the world right now, and continuing to decline as the brutal path of imperialism continues to be pursued. Second, how you gain credibility with "rogue nations acquiring nuclear weapons" by attacking a nation that had none escapes me. If anything, the effect has been to increase proliferation. The "axis of evil" example seems clear to me: North Korea has a nuclear program, and claims to be capable of producing weapons. They don't get attacked. Iran has nuclear power capability, although it denies a weapons program. Iraq had no nuclear capability at all, and it gets bombed and invaded. There's a lesson there, and it certainly isn't one likely to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Second: Why is Iraq splitting apart such a bad thing? It seems to me that allowing the Shiites and the Kurds to organize themselves as they would like would be the best way to demonstrate our interest in democracy. Forcing them to remain a part of the same country as "Saddam's Sunnis" seems to be cruel and unusual punishment for people who have already suffered plenty of it. And heaven forbid the Turks seize the oil fields--they belong to us!

Third: "Baghdad would then become the arsenal of terrorism, importer and exporter of nukes, bioweapons and missiles." Safire provides no basis for this claim; Baghdad has no nuclear or bioweapons capability, and would be hard-pressed to develop one. And the place was not a hotbed of terrorism until W and his flypaper strategy "brought 'em on." And if "we stay in Baghdad until Iraq becomes a unified democratic beacon of freedom to the Arab world," we'll be there forever. Which, of course, was the whole point for the Bushies. We had troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for over ten years, and democracy didn't even start to break out. If democracy comes to Iraq, it will be over our dead bodies--thousands upon thousands of them.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

(Thanks to Michelle for that nickname)

Amazingly enough, answering questions at Georgetown University on Thursday, THIS was NOT the most outrageous thing he said:

Wolfowitz: Obviously there's a great deal that has to change on both sides. You cited some things that Israelis have to change and you could make a longer list. You could have talked about settlements, for example. The President has talked about settlements, he's talked about the wall, he's talked about the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. There's no question that the President is prepared to put pressure on the Israelis to change. There also has to be change on the Palestinian side.

And I really do believe that the single greatest obstacle is terrorism. If the Palestinians would adopt the ways of Ghandhi, I think they could in fact make enormous change very, very quickly. I believe the power of individuals demonstrating peacefully is enormous.
(Oh really?)

How convenient for those using the methods of British imperialists and Hitler to encourage the Palestinians to adopt the methods of Ghandhi. Now if Bush, Blair and Sharon would adopt the methods of Ghandhi, we'd have world peace.

But, as I said, that wasn't the most outrageous thing Wolf the Unbearable said.

Q: Hi, Mr. Wolfowitz. My name is Ruthy Coffman. I think I speak for many of us here when I say that your policies are deplorable. They're responsible for the deaths of innocents and the disintegration of American civil liberties. [Applause] We are tired, Secretary Wolfowitz, of being feared and hated by the world. We are tired of watching Americans and Iraqis die, and international institutions cry out in anger against us. We are simply tired of your policies. We hate them, and we will never stop opposing them. We will never tire or falter in our search for justice. And in the name of this ideal and the ideal of freedom, we assembled a message for you that was taken away from us and that message says that the killing of innocents is not the solution, but rather the problem. Thank you. [Applause and jeers]

Wolfowitz: I have to infer from that that you would be happier if Saddam Hussein were still in power.

No, even that wasn't the most outrageous thing he said. This was:

Q: I'd just like to say that people like Ruthy and myself have always opposed Saddam Hussein, especially when Saddam Hussein was being funded by the United States throughout the '80s. And -- [Applause] And after the killings of the Kurds when the United States increased aid to Iraq. We were there opposing him as well. People like us were there. We are for democracy. And I have a question. What do you plan to do when Bush is defeated in 2004 and you will no longer have the power to push forward the project for New American Century's policy of American military and economic dominance over the people of the world? [Applause]

Wolfowitz: I don't know if it was just Freudian or you intended to say it that way, but you said you opposed Saddam Hussein especially when the United States supported him. It seems to me that the north star of your comment is that you dislike this country and its policies. [Applause] And it seems to me a time to have supported the United States and to push the United States harder was in 1991 when Saddam Hussein was slaughtering those innocents so viciously.

Shorter Wolfowitless: Opposing the morons in the government equals hating the country. And you should only hate Saddam when I tell you to.
Well, at least progress is being made in Afghanistan
Of course, it's being made by the Taliban.

At least 14 more soldiers killed today

A Chinook helicopter, carrying some 35 soldiers to an R and R break, was shot down by a missile. At least 13 were killed and 20 wounded; another soldier was killed in a separate attack.

And, from the NY Times, the "hearts and minds" thing doesn't seem to be going well:

Some Iraqis were jubilant. "The Americans are pigs. We will hold a celebration because this helicopter went down -- a big celebration," said wheat farmer Saadoun Jaralla near the crash site. "The Americans are enemies of mankind."

Well, at least the schools are reopening, right, George?

Many fearful parents kept their children out of schools in the capital for the second day in a row, and some of the pupils who did show up for class seemed terrified.

Outside the Baghdad Middle School for Girls, one of three armed guards said some pupils had wept when dropped off by their parents. The deputy headmistress, who declined to give her name, said only about a fifth of her 750 pupils had turned up.

"They're staying away because they're afraid of explosions. We've tried to assure parents that it's safe," she said.

I guess the positive news that Bush will want reported is that one of two helicopters didn't get shot down, and 20% of schoolchildren are making it to class.

Reagan gets Dingelled
As you may be aware, the Republican National Committee wants to review (read: censor) the CBS miniseries "The Reagans" before it airs, concerned that it might inaccurately depict the Contranator and his positions. My congressman, John Dingell, who has been in Congress since the time when Reagan was making bad movies, is also concerned. So he wrote CBS a letter:

Mr. Leslie Moonves President and CEO CBS Television 51 West 52nd Street New York, NY 10019

Dear Mr. Moonves:

I write to you with regard to your upcoming mini-series "The Reagans." I share the concerns expressed by others that it may not present an accurate depiction of the Reagan administration and America during the 1980s. I trust that CBS will not be a party to a distorted presentation of American history, and that the mini-series will present a fair and balanced portrayal of the Reagans, the 1980s and their legacy.

As someone who served with President Reagan, and in the interest of historical accuracy,please allow me to share with you some of my recollections of the Reagan years that I hope will make it into the final cut of the mini-series:

$640 Pentagon toilets seats; ketchup as a vegetable;union busting; firing striking air traffic controllers; Iran-Contra; selling arms to terrorist nations;trading arms for hostages; retreating from terrorists in Beirut; lying to Congress; financing an illegal war in Nicaragua; visiting Bitburg cemetery; a cozy relationship with Saddam Hussein;shredding documents; Ed Meese; Fawn Hall; Oliver North; James Watt; apartheid apologia; the savings and loan scandal; voodoo economics; record budget deficits; double digit unemployment; farm bankruptcies; trade deficits; astrologers in the White House; Star Wars; and influence peddling.

I hope you find these facts useful in accurately depicting President Reagan's time in office.

With every good wish,

John Dingell, Member of Congress

Is YOUR congresscritter that cool?

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.
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.