Bob's Links and Rants
Saturday, January 10, 2004
O'Neill tells all!
Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill says that President Bush was so disengaged in cabinet meetings that he "was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people." He also states that war in Iraq was on the table from the very beginning of the Bush administration:

The Bush Administration began laying plans for an invasion of Iraq, including the use of American troops, within days of President Bush's inauguration in January of 2001 -- not eight months later after the 9/11 attacks as has been previously reported.

That's what former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill says in his first interview about his time as a White House insider. O'Neill talks to Correspondent Lesley Stahl in the interview, to be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," he tells Stahl. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do is a really huge leap."
In the book, O'Neill is quoted as saying he was surprised that no one in a National Security Council meeting questioned why Iraq should be invaded. "It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this,'" says O'Neill in the book ["The Price of Loyalty," by Ron Suskind, coming out soon].

So 60 Minutes should be extra special tomorrow. Unfortunately, the Packers at Eagles NFL playoff game doesn't start until 4:45 EST, and it's on Fox, so it will probably run right over 60 Minutes. If the late game were on CBS, it would get a lot more viewers.

Still, I hope this gets lots of coverage. It should make it especially difficult for those in the administration, including William Safire, to keep trying to push the ephemeral Saddam-9/11 link now that the WMD story has been shown to be complete bunk. If Iraq was attacked because of ties to 9/11, and the invasion plans were made before 9/11, that means the Bushies knew about 9/11 before it happened. Which many of us have suspected all along. But even the servile White House press corps might raise this point now if McLellan or any other Bushie tries to raise the Saddam-9/11 story again.

Read the whole CBS story; there's more good stuff in there.
Friday, January 09, 2004
Supremes to hear Hamdi case
The Supreme Court stepped squarely into a momentous debate over national security and personal liberty today by agreeing to consider the case of a man who has been held without charges by the United States military since he was captured in the fighting in Afghanistan.

The justices agreed to hear the appeal of the captive, Yaser Esam Hamdi, who is believed to hold both American and Saudi citizenship and who is in a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C.

The Bush administration had urged the Supreme Court not to hear the Hamdi case, so the announcement today represented a sharp rebuff to the president, Attorney General John Ashcroft and other architects of administration policy.
-- NY Times

Recent Supreme Court decisions, including this one, seem to suggest that the two somewhat non-whacko Reagan appointees who in turn helped appoint aWol have been having buyer's remorse. Kennedy and O'Connor have been voting for things like affirmative action, repealing sodomy laws, and campaign finance reform lately. Hopefully they'll stand tall on this issue and toss Bush, Ashcroft and Ted Olson out on their fascist ears.

One thing that intrigues me is the reports that we heard after the 2000 election fiasco that Sandra Day O'Connor wanted Bush to win so that she could retire from the court knowing that her replacement would be appointed by a Republican. Well, she's still there, and I'm wondering if maybe now she's hoping to outlast Bush. Conservative is one thing; fascist is another. There's no hope for Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas, but with O'Connor and Kennedy there may be, even though they gave us our worst president ever.

Yet another take on the Bush undocumented-worker plan:
Along with currying favor with Hispanics, the president's move is a bid to further ingratiate himself with the business sector. It's this simple:

Boss man drives up to work site in his new Cadillac Escalade, steps out and calls work crew to come listen up.

"Your foreman tells me you guys aren't satisfied with the 2 percent pay raise you got last year, don't like all the overtime and want medical benefits, so you're talking to some (expletive deleted) union S.O.B. I'm only going to say this once, so you better get it the first time. You make one move to unionize and I'm laying off the whole bunch of you. Then I'm going to the government, to tell them I want to hire a crew of Mexicans. You can bet your butts they won't be talking to any union S.O.B."
-- From Oh!pinion

When you consider the problem with compassion and an open mind, it's very difficult. But for cheap labor conservatives like Bush, it's simple: ALWAYS make sure there's a substantial supply of people willing to work hard for little money with little freedom, and the people who own the land and the factories can just keep getting richer and richer.
Borders' workers ratify contract
From the Ann Arbor News:
Highlights of the agreement:

Beginning in April, 25-cent increase in starting pay. Cashiers will receive $6.75 per hour, booksellers $7.25. Workers had asked $7.95 per hour starting pay, reaching $9.95 after two years, with $10 per hour for starting supervisors.

Also beginning in April, merit raises of 3 percent. Workers had asked for an annual increase of 4.5 percent.

In lieu of $360 worth of store credit each year, Borders will add 11 cents to hourly wages. According to the company, it adds about $200 to each worker's paycheck annually.

Old Blue Eyes pays tribute to Old Black Mustache
A Bushflash tribute to the relationship between the U.S. and Saddam Hussein, which concludes: "Ladies and Gentlemen, we've always had him."
The outrage we should see everywhere...
Can be found in an editorial from yesterday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Along with replaying the usual list of lies from Bush, Cheney, Powell and others and comparing them with what has actually been found (Hint: NOTHING), the Post-Dispatch offers this story which I hadn't read before:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told British troops last month that Mr. Kay's group had produced "massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories, (and) workings by scientists." But when a British reporter read Mr. Blair's assessment to L. Paul Bremer - minus Mr. Blair's name - the U.S. administrator in Baghdad said, "I don't know where those words come from, but that is not what David Kay has said." After Mr. Bremer was told the source of the quote, he added in embarrassment, "There is actually a lot of evidence."

The Post-Dispatch's conclusion?
Altogether, the distortions and exaggerations amount to a major misuse of intelligence. The nation needs a tough, nonpartisan investigation to get to the bottom of this failure in order to guard against a president again leading the nation into war based on seriously flawed information and hype.

Followed by impeachment. I'm outraged, and I never believed that Iraq was a serious threat (although I thought, like just about everyone else, that they at least had a barrel or two of mustard gas or something somewhere). I think that if I had drunk fully from the Kool-Aid and believed all of lies, I'd be absolutely furious, albeit extremely embarrassed. Those of us who opposed the war should be outraged; those who supported it more so.
Bush to seek manned flights to Moon, Mars
"We're running out of room for detainees at Guantanamo Bay," he explained. He promised to pay for the new programs through more tax cuts and wars. He said that his program wouldn't be as expensive as Apollo, since all of the scientists and engineers will be graduates of faith-based education. "If they believe hard enough, we'll get there." The first contract in the program was awarded last week: $200 billion for Halliburton for building barracks and dining halls on Mars. Bush added: "We choose to go to the Moon and Mars, not because it is easy, but because it is an enormous opportunity to give taxpayer money to campaign contributors. Almost as good as war."
Attack of the Cheap Labor Conservatives
Billmon completely restores my lack of faith in aWol regarding his "compassionate" plan to "legalize" undocumented workers. He quotes former Clinton staffer Maria Echaveste as follows:

The president's proposal is, at best, an empty promise and, at worst, a cynical political ploy to attract Hispanic votes. The proposal would essentially have undocumented persons in this country sign up for second-class status, only to be removed once their temporary tags expire.

Billmon also recalls the "bracero" program which existed in this country before 1964. That program, like Bush's, allowed immigrants to be "legal" only at the whim of an employer, giving the employer pretty much master-slave control over the worker. The workers' only real recourse was to accept deportation, and that seems to be the gist of Bush's plan as well.

And while some Republicans have already complained about Bush's plan giving "amnesty" to undocumented workers, I have yet to see one complain about it giving amnesty to the corporations that have hired them.
Thursday, January 08, 2004
The Fallout from NAFTA
By YVES ENGLER (from Counterpunch)

As Mexican President Fox plays host to President Bush next week, one wonders if the two leaders have any honest, frank discussions. If they did, here is how a conversation about the 10th anniversary of NAFTA might go:

"So George, did you know that when NAFTA was signed there were 2.4 million undocumented Mexicans in the U.S., yet now that number has more than doubled to 4.81 million. (1) The total number of Mexican-born people in the U.S. also doubled to about 9 million from 1990 to 2000. (2)"

"That's true Vicente, because your hard-working people were attracted by all the wonderful jobs we created in the late 1990s."

"But then George how do you explain that as the U.S economy shed millions of jobs in 2001 and 2002, these two years were the biggest ever for illegal migration with more than 600, 000 Mexicans going north in 2002 alone (3)."

"We're trying to stop them illegals, Vicente. Since the implementation of Operation Gatekeeper the number of U.S. border patrol agents has jumped from just over 3000 in 1993 to some 9000 in 2002. (4) Heck, we even built a huge fence all across southern California."

"I know George, but that only forced migrants into the Arizona desert. This year during the hot summer months about 200 people died trying to cross it (5). Some say it is the worst border in the western world and the deadliest across land anywhere. And another thing, your increased clampdown has made it even more profitable for the so-called "coyotes" who help migrants across the border. The money available in the "coyote" trade has spurred an increasingly violent network of organized crime that has some comparing the border control situation to the futile war on drugs."

"Well Vicente, I'm not sure what to say, except that this whole NAFTA thing hasn't worked so well for us either." Then President Bush could go on to tell his Mexican counterpart that in the early 1990s, 10 years after Mexico's 1982 peso devaluation and the beginning of the country's neoliberal economic restructuring, the flow of "illegal" migrants had become a political issue in the U.S.. So, before Mexico entered NAFTA proponents of the accord proclaimed that its growth inducing properties would curb the flow of northbound migration. The argument put forth was that NAFTA would boost Mexican growth, which would create jobs and with more jobs Mexicans wouldn't need to seek work in the U.S.

NAFTA did create hundreds of thousands of (Maquiladora) jobs, mostly in the north of the country. By 2000 some 700 000 Maquiladora jobs were the result of NAFTA but by 2003 300 000 of those jobs had disappeared due to the downturn in the U.S economy and more importantly Chinese competition (6).

The reasons for migration then probably lie in the effects NAFTA and its economic liberalization agenda have on the country's economy. Let's be clear NAFTA has benefited some. Mexico has had a major increase in billionaires. Large segments of the country's business elite and professional classes have done well. And certainly a few multi-nationals aren't complaining. Unfortunately, most Mexicans aren't members of these sectors of society.

Compared to Maquiladora job creation NAFTA's first decade saw some 2.5 million Mexican farmers driven from their land by a flood of subsidized U.S. food and reductions in their own subsidies. (7). Also, since the agreement took effect, real wages for Mexican manufacturing workers have dropped 13.5% (8) Mexico's economy has done so well that money sent home (remittances) from the U.S. has surpassed tourism and foreign direct investment as the second biggest source of foreign currency to the country after the oil sector. Over 1 billion a month was being remitted in the first half of 2003, nearly 30% more than 2002. (9)

To put this number into perspective lets add the likely combined wages of all 700,000 Maquiladora jobs created during the first seven years of NAFTA. Assuming 700,000 workers work 50 hours a week for 52 weeks a year at $1.47 per hour the total amount brought into the Mexican economy is $2.68 billion. So the growth of remittances in fact dwarfs the increase in wages from the Maquiladora sector.

After a decade of NAFTA the remittances from increased economic migration, which NAFTA was supposed to curb, are what's keeping the Mexican economy afloat. "So George can we talk about re-working that agreement."

[My value adding contribution follows]
Bush responds: "Well, Vicente, of course we can't talk about re-working NAFTA. Those multinationals that aren't complaining give millions to my campaign coffers, as those Mexican billionaires do to yours. They like cheap labor, no matter which side of the border it's on. Thank God for Clinton (don't tell anyone I ever said THAT); he convinced millions in my country that NAFTA would actually be good for them. So now all I have to do is mutter 'free trade good; protectionism bad' and everybody agrees. You're not REALLY concerned about those poor shlubs dying in the desert, now are you? Because, you know, we do regime changes."
ABC makes nice with Kucinich
There was a nice profile of Dennis Kucinich on the ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings this evening. You can see it, or read about it, on the ABC web site. No mention was made of Ted Koppel, the debate last month, or the ABC reporter being pulled from the Kucinich campaign. While the profile showed Kucinich in a fairly good light, it didn't discuss the issues at all.
Q: What's harder to find than WMD's in Iraq?
A: The last remaining shreds of Colin Powell's credibility. Our Secretary of Misstate continues to defend the indefensible. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released a report today that found Iraq had ended its programs by the mid-1990s and did not pose an immediate threat to the United States before the 2003 war. Powell replied with the same old tired lies, saying "This game is still unfolding."

Powell noted that Iraq used chemical weapons in the Iraq-Iran war and on the Kurds in the 1980s and had the chance to come clean about its programs to the international community through the '90s.

"It's a fact," he said.

He said there was a "solid case" from U.N. inspectors and other officials that the Saddam Hussein regime "was a danger we had to worry about."

These supposed concerns of Powell's conflict with statements made by a senior administration official back in 2001:

We had a good discussion, the Foreign Minister and I and the President and I, had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions -- the fact that the sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.

And which official said that? Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a press conference of Egypt, which amazingly enough is still available on the State Department web site.

I still remember in early December 2000, before the Supreme Court selected aWol to be president, how Bush paraded Powell as his choice for Secretary of State. Many people were convinced that aWol's obvious lack of competence in foreign policy would be largely compensated for by having Powell on the team. Instead, Powell's undeserved reputation was used to enable Bush to enact the most criminal of enterprises: unprovoked war. If there's anyone on the planet more despicable than Bush, it's Colin Powell.

On the plus side, it's great to see this as the lead story on CNN; the war on Iraq is the crime of the century (having surpassed 9/11 10 or 20 thousand deaths ago), and the American people need to get that through their heads. And go vote in the online poll!
Online Poll
CNN asks "Was the war in Iraq justified if Iraq was not pursuing a weapons of mass destruction program?" Go to the CNN main web page; the poll is near the bottom on the right.
Michigan Readers!
If you haven't already, please sign up to vote in the February 7 Democratic caucus!
What Happened to Peace of Earth?
Cyndy has an MP3 version of Willie Nelson's new song, with a short Kucinich blurb at the end.
Bechtel's punishment...
...for shoddy work in painting and repairing schools in Iraq? Another huge contract ($1.8 billion). This is what the war was all about: Taking our money and Iraq's oil and giving it to Republicans. It's one giant Republican welfare program.
Budget and Trade Deficits Threaten World Economy
According to the International Monetary Fund. The IMF is usually just one of Washington's tools of corporate globalization, but even they are alarmed at the insanity of Bush's don't tax and spend policies.
The Carnage Continues
Black Hawk down, killing all eight onboard.
Mortar attack kills one, wounds 34.
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Semper Fi
Billmon has a great post about the "hearts and minds" approach that US Marines intend to take as they move in to occupy a portion of Iraq, and how it contrasts with the "shoot and ask" (as in "shoot first and ask questions later") approach that the Army has been using. Some Marine officers are apparently quite critical of the Army approach, and even some Army officers think the Marine approach will work better. Billmon points out that it's a difference in methods dating back to Vietnam, where the Army approach failed and the Marine approach wasn't given much of a chance.
So when's the impeachment?
From the front page of today's Washington Post:
Investigators have found no support for the two main fears expressed in London and Washington before the war: that Iraq had a hidden arsenal of old weapons and built advanced programs for new ones. In public statements and unauthorized interviews, investigators said they have discovered no work on former germ-warfare agents such as anthrax bacteria, and no work on a new designer pathogen -- combining pox virus and snake venom -- that led U.S. scientists on a highly classified hunt for several months. The investigators assess that Iraq did not, as charged in London and Washington, resume production of its most lethal nerve agent, VX, or learn to make it last longer in storage. And they have found the former nuclear weapons program, described as a "grave and gathering danger" by President Bush and a "mortal threat" by Vice President Cheney, in much the same shattered state left by U.N. inspectors in the 1990s.

I suggest that Congress make Bush take a "truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth" oath before reading his next state of the union address later this month. That sick twit lied, lied, took a vacation, and then lied some more to get this bloody, horrible war. Worst excuse for a human being ever, except for possibly his brothers. Oh, and I don't like him much, either.

I just finished watching "The Truman Show," the Jim Carrey movie where he is raised from birth inside a giant movie set, his whole life experience staged for him while the whole world watches. AWol's life has been a lot like that, except that, unlike Truman Burbank in the movie, Bush is WAY too stupid to ever figure out that it all has been staged for him. As Jim Hightower says, he was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.

From Boondocks.
Gotta love Big, Left, Outside Al!
Al Giordano gives us Kucitizens some hope to counter the media's focus on Deanevitability:

Dennis Kucinich, who, in last Sunday's debate, masterfully set a trap for Dean by standing alone for immediate pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq, forcing Dean to make the same mistake that still haunts Kerry: ending up on the pro-war side of the coin when your supporters believe in you because they thought you were anti-war.

It was, so far, the top political play of 2004. At that Iowa televised debate, Kucinich forced Dean to state, in clear terms, that he is against pulling out of Iraq. (That is precisely why Dean's numbers have peaked and are starting to slip. Watching that debate, I could hear the sound of a million jaws dropping in disillusion with the man who told them he was the anti-war candidate.) The Kucinich supporters are going to the Iowa Caucuses, and they're going to engage in hand-to-hand combat educating Dean supporters who thought they were going to the caucus to vote against the war. I can't wait to see the flyer that the Kucinich people hand to all the Dean people at those caucuses. "Dude! Where's my anti-war candidate?" Where the Kucinich supporters, and the disillusioned anti-war Dean supporters, go on the second ballot in each Iowa precinct could prove historic.

Dean opposed the Iraq war; Kucinich opposes it. Big difference.

More on the Undocumented Workers Plan
Josh Marshall posted a long transcript of a press conference between unnamed reporters and "senior administration officials" which took place last night and discussed the details of aWol's new temporary worker visa program. Josh doesn't summarize it much, except with this:

Here's a question: how many people actually think the president expects to or even wants this 'policy' to pass?

One point that I can make based on my limited knowledge of the subject: The bill would require that aliens be sponsored by an employer. And although the bill claims to grant these workers labor protections such as minimum wages, it seems as though they would still be pretty much at the mercy of the employer, with the only real recourse to ill treatment at work being to accept deportation, which the bill would make easier because the worker is "in the system."
Where's the catch?
Looking at the headlines on, I see two items which suggest, against all odds and precedent, that a wave of compassionate reasonableness has descended upon the Bush White House. They are planning on releasing hundreds of prisoners held in Iraq, and planning on giving a sort of amnesty (while not calling it that) to millions of undocumented workers here in the U.S. Of course, they've lied about everything before, so I'll try to keep an eye out for the hidden agendas in these proposals.
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Don't get your hopes up too high...

Bush: "I had sexual intercourse with perhaps three or four, I don't remember the exact number, women, at different times. In Thailand once, I have a pretty clear recollection that there was one time in Thailand and in Hong Kong."

Brown: "And you were married to Mrs. Bush?"

Bush: "Yes."

Brown: "Is that where you caught the venereal diseases?"

...because that's aWol's little brother, Neil, being questioned by his (ex-)wife's divorce attorney, Marshall Davis Brown. And because in America it's better to be a genocidal liar than a bank-robbing adulterous sex addict. And Barbara Bush, mother of both (and Jeb too), had the gall to call the Democratic presidential candidates a "sorry group."

(From MediaWhoresOnline)
Jenny throws the (good) book at the Republitrons
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is taking flak from Republicans for remarks she made on a Michigan Public TV show:

"Off the Record" host Tim Skubick and Gov. Jennifer Granholm were talking about budget cuts when Skubick asked whether the governor thought it was "interesting" that some of the people calling for the cuts were "so-called Christians."

Granholm: "Yeah, I do and I'll tell you why. What I think is so interesting about this is that people come from very, very different places and yet we all want to do what is best for the state. Often those who cloak themselves in a cape of religiosity happen to be some who are the biggest cutters. Now, some of that can balance out. But when you get to cutting the services for the least of these -- in the 25th chapter of Matthew in the 37th verse, the Lord says, 'Whatsoever you do to the least of these, so also you do unto me,' -- that's when I question whether somebody is really living out the faith that they profess."

Air Traffic Constraints. Right.
The U.S. Air Force in western Europe is likely to shift to bases farther east and south where pilots can train with fewer air traffic constraints, a top Air Force commander in Europe said Tuesday.

"South and east is a reasonable assumption for us to make right now,'' said Gen. Robert H. Foglesong, who is chief of all U.S. as well as North Atlantic Treaty Organization air forces in Europe.
"We're looking south and east. That makes sense to us, to posture our forces in positions (where) they could be employed quicker'' for military operations outside NATO's European borders, Foglesong added.

Folgesong did not mention which countries in eastern or southern Europe might agree to host U.S. air forces, but he noted that Poland recently hosted a large-scale NATO air exercise.
-- AP

In other words, France and Germany are farther down the list of countries to threaten than are Syria, Iran, and the countries in the oil-rich Caspian area. Also, take the economic benefit away from the cheese-eating chocolate makers of western Europe and give it to Coalition of the Billing members Italy and Poland.

Saddam's Secret Police Force is mostly gone
But here comes George's!

The Bush Administration will fund the agency in its latest bid to root out the Baathist loyalists behind the insurgency in parts of Iraq. The force will cost up to $US3 billion ($A4 billion) over the next three years.

Its ranks will comprise Iraqi exile groups, Kurdish and Shiite forces - and former agents who are now working for the Americans. CIA officers in Baghdad will play a leading role in directing their operations.

A former US intelligence officer said: "If successfully set up, the group would work in tandem with American forces but would have its own structure and relative independence. It could be expected to be fairly ruthless in dealing with the remnants of Saddam."

How to screw your workers...
A helpful service of the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Labor Department is giving employers tips on how to avoid paying overtime to some of the 1.3 million low-income workers who would become eligible under new rules expected to be finalized early this year.

The department's advice comes even as it touts the $895 million in increased wages that it says those workers would be guaranteed from the reforms.

Among the options for employers: cut workers' hourly wages and add the overtime to equal the original salary, or raise salaries to the new $22,100 annual threshold, making them ineligible.

Left I comments:

CNN's Aaron Brown, who tipped me to this item in his "Tomorrow's Headlines Tonight" segment, commented that he was perplexed because he thought the "Labor" Department was actually supposed to be working on behalf of labor, i.e., workers.

Aaron apparently doesn't know that the Bush administration has secretly changed the names of several departments. The new names are:

The Department of Cheap Labor
The Department of Empire (previously Defense)
The Department of Raiding the Treasury
The Department of Destroying Education
The Environmental Destruction Agency
The Department of Wasting Energy to Benefit Campaign Contributors
The Department of Genetically-Modified Agribusiness
The Department of Colored Alerts, aka Homeland Senility, aka Gestapo
One way for the soldiers to come home
Three soldiers have been discharged from the US army for mistreating Iraqi prisoners of war. They were found guilty of beating and harassing detainees at a detention camp in the south of the country.

An internal inquiry found soldiers had thrown prisoners down and kicked them in the head, groin and abdomen in an incident at Camp Bucca last May.

The three soldiers, a woman and two men who said they acted in self-defence, have all returned to the United States.
The senior officer, Master Sergeant Lisa Marie Girman, 35, knocked a prisoner to the ground, "repeatedly kicking him in the groin, abdomen, and head, and encouraging her subordinate soldiers to do the same", according to military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Vic Harris.

She received what the army calls an "other-than-honourable conditions" discharge from her immediate commander.
-- BBC

This is the type of stuff that Saddam's thugs did, and for which many will be punished. The Army is sending all sorts of wrong messages here: 1) Beating prisoners isn't a serious offense; 2) In fact, it's a good way to get out of the hellhole of the occupation of Iraq; and 3) Dear Iraqis--We don't care about your hearts, your minds, or your balls.

And the reward for those soldiers who survive their deployments relatively intact? When they get back, they can't get out of the Army! According to Reuters:

The Army will prohibit troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan from retiring or leaving the service for other reasons for up to 90 days after arriving at their home bases, military officials said Monday.

So much for the volunteer Army.
Monday, January 05, 2004
Kucinich quote from yesterday's debate:
We have to break the hold that the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies have on our health care system. You know, hundreds of years ago, they used to treat patients by bleeding them with leeches. Well, you know, the insurance companies do that very well today. (APPLAUSE)

Bush in Thirty Seconds
MoveOn has posted the top fifteen "Bush in Thirty Seconds" ads for your viewing enjoyment. They're all pretty good, but the mother-on-the-park-bench one unfortunately isn't among them. It appears to be no longer available for viewing online. It featured this young mother sitting on a park bench, telling us why we have to get rid of Bush. I'll paraphrase what I recall from the ad:

It's not that he's rolled back environmental standards, or that he's done nothing to improve energy efficiency. It's not that three million jobs have been lost while he gave tax cuts to the rich, nor that he's gutting our civil liberties. (Be careful, Billy!) It's not that his deficits are forcing cutbacks in health care, schools, and other things we need. It's not even that he lied, repeatedly, to get us into an unnecessary war. No. It's that he's so g**d*** f***ing stupid! That's why we have to get rid of Bush.

Bush In Two Words
William Rivers Pitt offers the two little words that need to be said to add aWol to the unemployment lines: Bush Knew.

Defending the Doctor
Left I and Daily Kos point out an egregious error in the AP story on yesterday's debate. The story quotes Howard Dean as saying "I opposed the Iraq war when everyone else up here was for it," when in fact the transcript quotes him as saying "I have two big policy differences with almost everybody up here. I opposed the Iraq war; with the exception of Dennis and Carol, everybody else supported it." (Al Sharpton and Wesley Clark weren't at the debate.)

As Kos suggests, AP deserves a ton of grief for this. He suggests contacting AP and any news outlet (paper, web site, TV station, etc.) that runs it and asking them to get their facts straight:

Don't just focus on the AP. If your local paper runs either of these two stories, call them up and complain. You can believe that if their member papers (who pay the AP's bills) complain about the quality of AP's stories, the AP will get the message better than we can deliver it directly.

Another Update: [AP writer] Nedra [Pickler]'s contact info:

Phone: 202.776.9421
And don't forget to cc' the AP's main email address:

Just so you don't think I'm going soft on Dean, I will point out that, according to the transcript, Dean said "I opposed the Iraq war." I believe that Kucinich is the only one who can honestly say that he "opposes" the Iraq war, since he offers a plan for getting out quickly.

Where's the beef?
A beef distributor in San Jose, CA sold beef from the herd in which mad cow disease was discovered to a grocery store and six restaurants. Health officials named the store (Maxim Market), but said that federal rules prevent them from identifying the restaurants. Always looking out for us, those feds. (Via Left I)

From Jen Sorensen.
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Happy New Year!
Okay, I'm a little late. I flew back home from California yesterday, getting home about 12:30 AM. If you'd like to see pictures from my trip, go here. For my registered voter readers in Michigan, the most important thing you can do RIGHT NOW is SIGN UP TO VOTE in the Michigan Democratic caucus. Then, as soon as you receive your ballot in the mail, cast your vote for Dennis Kucinich!!!

Here's the truck belonging to somebody who hates Bush almost as much as I do:

Click on truck for larger picture.

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