Bob's Links and Rants
Saturday, November 29, 2003
It's the end of the world as we know it
Global warming will melt glaciers and deny billions access to fresh water. Meanwhile, the moron-in-chief continues to fight wars so he can control the world's remaining fossil fuels so his friends can burn them and guarantee that the global warming happens.
Support Striking Borders Workers!
United Students Against Sweatshops makes it easy.
Seven Spanish Spies Killed in Iraq
I'll bet they're really glad they joined the Coalition of the Dying now.
Dear George:
Regarding what you said in your weekly radio address: "I'm pleased to report back from the front lines that our troops are strong, morale is high and our military is confident we will prevail."

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

With the utmost disrespect and scorn, yours truly,

Get a life, people!

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

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

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

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

Yeah? What the heck were you and your sister doing there, Ms. Ellzey? By shopping at Wal-Mart, you were helping it to trample its own workers, downtowns, sweatshop workers, and every other retail store in the country. Still, people are willing to line up at 5 am and trample other customers, just to feed the beast. Learn more about the Beast of Bentonville at Wal-Mart Watch.

Evidence indicates that Wellstone crash was no accident
From an op-ed in the Duluth News Tribune by Jim Fetzer, via Cyndy at MouseMusings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There's a double problem with having had so many Democrats support so much of the insane Bush agenda. Not only are we stuck with the wars, tax cuts, Patriot Acts and so on, but those same Democrats are reluctant to point out the failures because of their complicity in them. Somehow we need to so discredit the Iraq war in the minds of the vast majority of the public that NO ONE, in Congress or the White House, who voted for that war has any chance for re-election (or promotion, in the case of Lieberman, Edwards, Kerry and Gephardt). It sure would be nice if the war could be discredited based on the abundant evidence that it was based on lies, rather than on the deaths of hundreds or thousands of more soldiers.
In your dreams, aWol
Juan Cole compares how the neoconvicts must have envisioned aWol's triumphant entry into Baghdad with the fly-by-night reality.
Friday, November 28, 2003
Book Review
I just finished reading an incredible book: Greener Than You Think, by Ward Moore. I read a review somewhere (can't find it now) which compares it to Vonnegut. I'd add in quite a bit of George Orwell. It was written around the same time as 1984 (published 1947), and is pretty hard to find. Neither the Ann Arbor nor UM libraries have it, but I was able to get it from the Ecorse(!) Michigan library via the Michigan Interlibrary Exchange. Used copies were also available at several used-book stores around the country. The copy I got from Ecorse was a 1985 edition, published as part of a "Classics of Modern Science Fiction" collection. It looked as though it had never been checked out before.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, MacKinnon doesn't even attempt to reconcile the apparent discrepancy between his two reports. Was Soros working with the same Bushies he's trying to run out of office? Or was the first article simply incorrect? I did a quick Google search trying to find further explanation, without luck so far. Let me know if you see something interesting related to this.

From Mike Thompson.
Bush sneaks in, sneaks out, but soldiers keep dying
AWol's two-and-a-half hour stealth visit to Iraq is over, but for many Americans currently in Iraq, they only get to come home in "transfer tubes." Another one got his ticket in Mosul today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kucinich coming to Ann Arbor

Will join picket line at Borders.
Dennis Kucinich is tentatively scheduled to be in Ann Arbor next Thursday, December 4, from 12 to 1 pm. The plan at the moment is to start with a rally, hopefully on the Diag, and then proceed to Liberty Street to join the picket line at Borders. Please tell everyone in the Ann Arbor area to come out and show support for the best presidential candidate and the striking workers.

Don't Forget! Today is:

(Hopefully you haven't already been out storming doors since 6 am. If so, stop listening to your TV's!)
Thursday, November 27, 2003
A Note of Clarification
Elayne Riggs of Pen-Elayne was concerned that I only added her to my blogroll as a temporary replacement for Atrios. While the same issue, the Borders strike (Atrios ignoring the issue while continuing to link to Amazon; Elayne supporting my complaints about it), precipitated my actions, I have assured her that her blog deserves to be on the roll and will remain there.

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

From Robert Ariail.

From Matt Davies.

From Ann Telnaes.

From Mike Thompson.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
The U.S. military on Wednesday arrested a wife and a daughter of a top Saddam Hussein deputy suspected of leading the anti-American insurgency.
MacDonald gave no details on why the wife and daughter were seized, but American forces have frequently arrested relatives of fugitives to interrogate them on their family member's whereabouts and as a way of putting pressure on the wanted men to surrender.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2003
The Georgian Coup
Sounds a lot like the US-inspired plot to overthrow Mossadegh and re-install the Shah in Iran in 1953.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone, including Mr. Karimov, is advised to consider the following picture as they make their plans for the future:

Dr. Laura
Is an obnoxious bigot.

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

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

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

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

So, unless you're old, or planning to be some day, you can rejoice today that the Cheney crime bill won't pass this year.
The University and the City
Rob has a good post about how the University can expand in ways that improve the city rather than destroy it.
Monday, November 24, 2003
Torture Atrios!
Not really. Atrios is a fine blogger. But he's encouraging people to buy books from Amazon through his web site. I don't think he knows that Amazon is teamed with Borders, and that Borders workers here in Ann Arbor are on strike for unfair labor practices. (Well, he may know now, since I just posted a comment about it on his site.) Why don't you encourage him to take down those links while the strike is going on? Here's the post: just leave a comment. If you see Amazon links at other lefty web sites, you might want to contact them as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"This was the basis upon which the war was sold and justified and today I think no one would say Iraq constituted a danger in the spring of 2003," said the 75-year-old Swede.
-- Reuters

Michigan's Senior Senator
Is supposed to be a Democrat. So why is he attending the $401 billion giveaway to the Pentagon, and WHY IS HE CLAPPING?

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

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

Would somebody PLEASE buy him a mirror? Okay, it's true that Bush doesn't measure his progress by the innocent lives he destroys--he doesn't even bother to count them. But chaos and fear? AWol has pretty much spread these everywhere.

Free the FTAA Protesters!
Send a fax now to Miami's mayor. You can also help pay bail for the protesters.
$87 billion more for war in Iraq
and the Michigan Army National Guard is still having to beg like a charity to get stuff that the troops need, and to get it there:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

But Thanksgiving is coming up, so many of us will be facing Bush-supporting relatives across the table who will actually believe this crap after Rush and Sean and Bill dumb it down for them. They've got no evidence, no proof, except the proof based on experience that they can get their way through lies.
Sunday, November 23, 2003
I noted earlier that three more US soldiers were killed on Sunday. Here is how two of them died:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Powered by Blogger