Bob's Links and Rants
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.
Two more soldiers killed, another wounded
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 Doug Marlette.

From Steve Benson.

From Mike Thompson.
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.
Coalition of the Bugging Out
Spain is withdrawing much of its diplomatic staff from Iraq.
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!):

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?

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