Bob's Links and Rants
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
Great slide show!
From a protest of an aWol fundraiser in Oregon. Thanks, Michelle!

From Drew Sheneman.

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

From Clay Bennett.

From Slowpoke.

From Mike Thompson.
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.
Another Soldier Killed

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.

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