Bob's Links and Rants
Saturday, January 17, 2004
Preparing his insanity defense, apparently:
No President has ever done more for human rights than I have. -- George W. Bush, in a New Yorker interview.

Billmon found a baker's dozen's worth of presidents who clearly did more for human rights than aWol.

How could he possibly make such a statement? Is he just ignorant, or arrogant, or a compulsive liar, or completely delusional? Yes. Does he really think that taking Afghans from the oppressive order of the Taliban back to the oppressive disorder of the warlords, killing thousands in the process, is progress in human rights? Or that replacing the brutal old American-installed regime in Iraq with a brutal new American-installed regime, killing thousands in the process, is his ticket to immortality? Or maybe it's locking up people for years without charges, and without the right to a lawyer, or to answer the charges, or to a speedy trial? Brutally repressing demonstrations and setting up "free-speech" zones so he won't have to hear how wrong he is?

Don't miss Billmon's post on this.
While Congress is away...
AWol appoints racist judge to federal appeals court. We are getting very close to a monarchy here, and the king is an idiot.
U.S. Soldiers killed in Iraq, counting the three killed today. If you or I did something that was stupid, reckless and illegal that caused even one person to die, we'd be facing long prison terms, and civil actions as well if we had any money. AWol does something incredibly stupid, outrageously reckless and completely illegal, killing 500 Americans, thousands of others, plus wounding untold thousands, and he's strutting around at million-dollar fundraisers. I won't deny it--I HATE Bush.
Friday, January 16, 2004

From John Cole.
Another thought on CBS and MoveOn
CBS said on Thursday that advocacy advertisements were out of bounds on professional football's biggest day. -- From the article on CBS's decision not to air MoveOn's "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad, as well as an ad from PETA.

Partially in defense of CBS, and mostly to contradict them, I'll mention that I watched the NFL playoff games on CBS last Saturday and Sunday. On both, they ran ads for 60 Minutes featuring the quote from Paul O'Neill saying that Bush "was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people." But according to the Reuters article:

In a letter, CBS told PETA that it would not run advertisements on "controversial issues of public importance."

So, we can't say that CBS has been blindly supporting Bush, since they did run (and advertise) the 60 Minutes segment. But they're not being consistent with their stated ad policy when they ran ads for their own show that were on "controversial issues of public importance."
Quote du Jour
I have noticed a troubling pattern that characterizes the Bush-Cheney administration's approach to almost all issues. In almost every policy area, the administration's consistent goal has been to eliminate any constraints on their exercise of raw power, whether by law, regulation, alliance or treaty. And in the process, they have in each case caused America to be seen by the other nations of the world as showing disdain for the international community. -- President Al Gore, quoted in Bob Herbert's column today.
This will really help the peace movement

CBS says they won't run the MoveOn ad
Liberal group, known for its Internet funding power, told members this week that it hoped to have the first political Super Bowl ad.

But its hopes were dashed when CBS said the spot, which asks "Guess who's going to pay off President Bush's $1 trillion deficit?" was an issue piece and could not run.

As you're probably aware, MoveOn had a big contest, "Bush in 30 Seconds," for TV ads against Bush. You can watch the winner here.

Let CBS know that they need to stop covering for Bush. There's a feedback link at the bottom of CBS's home page.
Trouble in Mexico
The Mexican government is cracking down on an indigenous community in the state or Morelos. Via Big, Left, Outside.

I don't know the details of this particular situation except what is in the article--one "dissident" killed, five wounded as the state government forcefully reinstated a mayor, who was apparently elected fraudulently, according to the dissidents. But from what I learned from my Chiapas trip last spring, the issue is a very important one. Many Mexican communities are still relatively autonomous, at least in terms of their economy. Much of what the people eat is grown locally, and much of the rest of the economy is within the community as well. "Globalization" threatens this system: Large agribusinesses, mostly U.S. based, start selling food for less than it can be produced locally. As locals buy this food, local farmers go broke. Many will end up trying to find work, without luck, in Mexico City, and then inevitably head north. They'll sneak across the border, and end up working in the fields for the same agribusinesses which chased them off their land in the first place. Meanwhile, that corporation or others like it will be buying up that very land in Mexico.

Oversimplified to be sure, but that's a large part of what is going on around the world. It has already happened in this country, with very few people here having any sort of control over their food security. With the passage of NAFTA in 1993, the Zapatistas realized that the end of local control and food security for millions was near unless drastic action was taken. They rose up on January 1, 1994, the day NAFTA took effect, and have been demonstrating on behalf of local control and autonomous communities ever since. The big multinationals want abundant cheap labor and unfettered access to all of the world's resources; the vast majority of the people in the world want to be able to survive. I side with the majority on this one.
I just voted in the Michigan caucus!
For Dennis Kucinich, of course! Registered Michigan voters can apply to vote online or by mail here. You don't have to be an official member of the Democratic Party, and it doesn't cost anything.
Correspondent Bob Harris reports from Kiwi Hobbit land
Author, radio guy and Jeopardy champion Bob Harris has been travelling the world. He has been sharing his fascinating experiences and observations with us. Bob's latest stop is New Zealand. I'll let you read his descriptions of the other land down under for yourself; I'll just pick out, as usual, the political stuff which puts aWol in a bad light! So, here it is:

I don't know how to convey the depth of public disdain for Bush down here. It's casual; it's assumed; it's like being against poverty, ignorance, intestinal worms, or potato blight.

And while I have yet to see even a hint of anti-Americanism directed at myself -- most folks everywhere seem to understand intuitively that I am not my government, a consideration I suspect the people of Iraq might have appreciated from us -- this next is fairly mind-blowing.

A recent study published in the Sunday Star-Times asked Australians and New Zealanders which country they would like to visit, but would not, because they consider it too dangerous. Here are the results:

1. United States (14%)
2. Iraq (13%)
3. Indonesia (11%)
4. Israel (7%)

and so on.

I kid you not; I can't find a link online, but I've got a hard copy of the paper in my bag. All in all, 28% of New Zealanders want to visit America. Fully half of them won't.

The Aussie numbers are almost identical. America is consciously avoided in numbers down here exceeding even countries in open internal armed conflict.

I was spun around by those numbers myself. Looking again at the phrasing of the question, you'd think America's number is obviously amped by the large number of people who want to visit in the first place.

But the poll also asked which countries Kiwis wanted to visit, safety aside. The whole civilized world shows up at the top of that list -- the UK, Canada, Italy, France, etc. The U.S. is the only industrialized country on the entire considered-too-dangerous list.

Think about it... half the people down here who want to see the U.S. think it's too dangerous to be worth an actual visit.


Why? Not exactly hard to guess, thanks to the steady stream of orange alerts, not to mention our rate of violent crime, obsession with firearms (widely seen as ludicrous), and lack of national health care that might help a visitor taken ill. Also, seven percent of those polled in both countries wouldn't visit the US simply on ethical and political grounds, and another seven percent would not visit the US because they believed there was too much corruption.

That's what we look like here, folks. And it fits with what I hear from talking with people in cafes and on buses and whatnot.

Thursday, January 15, 2004
Bush combines new proposals into one big proposal
At the State of the Union address next week, AWol will unveil his BIG NEW PROPOSAL:
(Drum roll, please....)

The Defense of Immigrant Marriage on Mars With Immense Tax cuts Act of 2004, better known as the DIMMWIT Act.

Look. I LOVE space exploration. John Glenn orbited the Earth on my fourth birthday, and I was watching on TV. I went to a parade for Gemini spacewalkers James McDivitt and Ed White in Ann Arbor in 1966. I watched Neil Armstrong step on the moon. I've watched Tom Hanks' documentary series From the Earth to the Moon twice, and will probably watch it again. But I don't believe W has any interest in space exploration. Karl Rove told him it would get a few votes and funnel more money to campaign contributors, so Bush says Mars.
Yee Haw! Into the abyss...
Big engines are back, according to auto-industry-promoter-disguised-as-Detroit-Free-Press-journalist Mark Phelan:

Fueled by inexpensive gasoline, surging truck sales and improving energy efficiency, U.S. buyers' demand for V8s has risen every year since 1994, according to Ward's data.

Who can blame them? Gasoline prices vary, but don't seem to affect V8 sales, and fuel economy is rising.
GM and DaimlerChrysler could build as many as 3 million vehicles with these V8s annually. That means displacement on demand could reduce U.S. fuel consumption far more than selling a few thousand chic hyper-efficient gasoline-electric hybrids would.

You might ask, why not just build more four-cylinder engines in the first place? They cost less, and burn less fuel.

The answer is that you can't give a four-cylinder away in a big pickup, SUV or large car. That's why V8 demand has grown more than 50 percent since bottoming out at 19.2 percent in 1993.

"We expect V8 sales to continue to grow," Purcell said. "The customer likes them. You can do a lot of things with that much power under the hood."

Inexpensive gasoline? What does this moron think the $166 billion and 500 soldiers' lives (and counting on both) on the Iraq invasion was for? Democracy? Bridge for sale, Mark.

It's getting really hard to keep liking this country.
First Gem from the Dave Pollard Site:

That's from a post Pollard calls the Wal-Mart dilemma. The basic idea is that we're stuck in the red cycle, with low wages forcing low prices forcing the exporting of jobs overseas. Pollard says the way to move from the red to the green cycle, where wages, prices and quality are high, is to impose duties and other regulations to protect domestic producers if a product can reasonably be produced domestically. In the green cycle, a country has mild inflation, which Pollard says is the most painless way to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. In other words, the green cycle benefits most people; the red cycle benefits only those at the very top of the economic pyramid. We're stuck in the red right now, thanks to Bush and Clinton and all the other so-called "free-traders" out there. Importing stuff you can make yourself is BAD for your economy.
How to save the World
Cyndy gave me a quick response to the request at the end of my previous post, suggesting Dave Pollard's blog, How to Save the World. I've only looked at his roadmap so far; I'll keep looking through the blog and share any nuggets I find with you. It looks promising! Thanks, Cyndy!
Auntie Trust is already dead...
...but the big corporations continue to dance on her grave. Bank One and J.P. Morgan Chase plan to merge, and you can bet that the Bushies won't take any anti-trust action to stop them. Your real options for getting a mortgage, checking account or credit card will be reduced further, and the merger will be used as an excuse for "downsizing" staff at both corporations. (Chances are many will be replaced by Indians working for one-fifth as much.) Excess corporate executives will be given multi-million dollar golden parachutes. In other words, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer as their number gets larger, and the fascist state advances.

I've got a Bank One Visa card which supposedly helps support Amnesty International (I got the offer from AI). Is the pittance going to AI worth more to the future of the world than withdrawing my patronage of this soon-to-be-even-larger multinational corporation would be? Has AI sold out just by offering the card?

I've been thinking about writing a major rant about boycotts and how progressives should spend their money in general, but I'm not sure that I can come up with much of value to say. I'm certainly holier than some in this area, but I've got lots of contradictions--that Diet Pepsi I'm drinking right now, for instance. If anyone out there knows of a good article or web site to help guide us in our purchasing decisions so they help to create a better world, please send me a link!

Ted Kennedy's Speech
The full text of yesterday's speech is available at Kennedy's web site. If you are looking for a solid summary of the case against the Iraq war, this speech is it. I disagree with Kennedy about the war in Afghanistan being justified (at least in the brutal way it was fought), especially since the administration has resisted all attempts to determine what really happened on 9/11, and since none of the hijackers were from Afghanistan. But Kennedy provides a solid summary of the history of the buildup to the Iraq war, the political purposes behind it, and the illegal nature of it. While there are a few choice quotes in the speech, the whole thing is worth reading. Here are some extended excerpts to whet your appetite:

In his [2002] State of the Union Address, President Bush broadened his policy on Afghanistan to other terrorist regimes. He unveiled the "Axis of Evil"-Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Those three words forged the lock-step linkage between the Bush Administration's top political advisers and the Big Three of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz. We lost our previous clear focus on the most imminent threat to our national security-Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

What did President Bush say about bin Laden in the State of the Union Address that day? Nothing.

What did the President say about Al Qaeda? One fleeting mention.

What did he say about the Taliban? Nothing.

Nothing about bin Laden. One fleeting mention of Al Qaeda. Nothing about the Taliban in that State of the Union Address.

Barely four months had passed since the worst terrorist atrocity in American history. Five bin Laden videotapes had been broadcast since September 11th, including one that was aired after bin Laden escaped at the battle of Tora Bora. President Bush devoted 12 paragraphs in his State of the Union Address to Afghanistan, and 29 paragraphs to the global war on terrorism. But he had nothing to say about Bin Laden and only one single fleeting mention of Al Qaeda.

Why not more? Because of an extraordinary policy coup. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz-the Axis of War-had prevailed. The President was changing the subject to Iraq.
In all these ways, we are reaping the poison fruit of our misguided and arrogant foreign policy. The Administration capitalized on the fear created by 9/11 and put a spin on the intelligence and a spin on the truth to justify a war that could well become one of the worst blunders in more than two centuries of American foreign policy. We did not have to go to war. Alternatives were working. War must be a last resort. And this war never should have happened.
The Administration is breathtakingly arrogant. Its leaders are convinced they know what is in America's interest, but they refuse to debate it honestly. After repeatedly linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in his justification for war, the President now admits there was no such link. Paul Wolfowitz admitted in an interview that the Administration settled for "bureaucratic reasons" on weapons of mass destruction because it was "the one reason everyone could agree on."

The Administration is vindictive and mean-spirited. When Ambassador Joseph Wilson publicly challenged the Administration for wrongly claiming that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger for its nuclear weapons program, the Administration retaliated against his wife, potentially endangering her life and her career.
President Bush said it all when a television reporter asked him whether Saddam actually had weapons of mass destruction, or whether there was only the possibility that he might acquire them. President Bush answered, "So what's the difference?" The difference, Mr. President, is whether you go to war or not.

Colin's Cancer
I'm not speaking of the one he was recently operated on for, but his total lack of honesty. How this man managed to maintain an image of sober integrity for as long as he did is a mystery. But there is no doubt that that integrity is now in complete tatters, at least to sentient life forms. Derrick Z. Jackson effectively cremates the remains of said integrity in an op-ed from yesterday's Boston Globe (via Common Dreams via Left I). Highlights:

Then came the presentation on Feb. 5. Powell said: "We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program. On the contrary, we have more than a decade of proof that he remains determined to acquire nuclear weapons. . . . Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb. He is so determined that he has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries, even after inspections resumed. . . . We also have intelligence from multiple sources that Iraq is attempting to acquire magnets and high-speed balancing machines . . . to enrich uranium."

Powell also said, "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets. Even the low end of 100 tons of agent would enable Saddam Hussein to cause mass casualties across more than 100 square miles of territory, an area nearly five times the size of Manhattan. . . . When will we see the rest of the submerged iceberg? Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons."

Powell said: "One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq's biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents. . . . We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails. . . . We know that Iraq has at least seven of these mobile biological agents factories. . . . Saddam Hussein has investigated dozens of biological agents causing diseases such as gas gangrene, plague, typhus, tetanus, cholera, camelpox, and hemorrhagic fever. And he also has the wherewithal to develop smallpox. . . . There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more."

At one point Powell said: "This is evidence, not conjecture. This is true. This is all well documented."

But no stockpiles of either chemical or biological weapons have been found. There was no effective nuclear program. The United States still invaded Iraq.

This is Nuremburg-quality documentation. Powell, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, and maybe a few others, should be tried for war crimes. No secret evidence or shaky eyewitnesses are needed. Their convictions are in their public statements. They lied; thousands die. This is evidence, not conjecture. THIS is true. This is all well documented.
Pointing his bird in the wrong direction
An American Airlines pilot has been arrested in Brazil for "making what Federal Police officers described as an obscene gesture." He and his crew apparently objected to Brazil's new policy of treating American travelers exactly the same way as the U.S. is now treating Brazilian travelers--with fingerprinting and mug shots.

At a conference of Western Hemisphere heads of government on Monday, Brazil's president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, personally asked President Bush that Brazilians be exempted from the requirements. He followed that on Tuesday with public criticism of the United States procedures, saying to reporters that "if the problem is to fight terrorism, this measure makes no sense" because "we have no culture of terrorism" in Brazil.

Mindless arrogance has its price. Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, and probably several other Latin American countries are now realizing that they'd better stand up to the Washington bullies now if they're to have any chance of retaining (or regaining) their economic and political independence.

Michelle is keeping track of events in Venezuela. Most of the recent bluster about Cuba has likely been aimed at Venezuela, its president Hugo Chavez (who is too friendly with Castro for aWol's liking), and especially its oil. The U.S. has a long and sordid history of messing with Latin America, and what the Bushies are doing now is at least as sordid as any of it. Leaders like Lula and Chavez are playing a dangerous game by standing up to Bush, but backing down would probably be even more dangerous for them and their countries.

From Ted Rall.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Suskind's book is out!
Buy it at your local independent bookstore, or even Borders, now that the strike is over.

For a teaser, check out Michelle's highlights here and here.

The big problem here, of course, is that those of us who already know that Bush is an ignorant, uncaring sociopath are going to be the only ones to read the book. Jesus Christ himself could tell the ignorant masses the truth about Bush, and they would listen instead to Rush and O'Reilly and Coulter, defend Bush, and re-crucify Jesus. They ignored Scott Ritter, Pat Buchanan, and now they'll ignore Paul O'Neill, even though these people are clearly not liberals or Clintonites or anything else they've been taught to hate. It's truly scary that so many people are loyal to an awful scumbag like George W. Bush.
Go Teddy! Go Teddy!
Ted Kennedy gave a "blistering" speech today blasting the Bushies for the war. CNN only has a brief summary and I'm short on time; I'm assuming I'll be able to find the whole speech later on Common Dreams or Kennedy's web site. Here are a couple of quotes from the CNN article:

The administration and the majority in Congress have put the state of our union at risk, and they do not deserve another term in the White House or in control of Congress.
By far the most serious consequence of the unjustified and unnecessary war in Iraq is that it made the war on terrorism harder to win.
The administration is vindictive and mean-spirited ... The administration is breathtakingly arrogant.

Administration lackies immediately fired back with their usual inanities:

"He just needs to be reminded that the president worked with Congress. The president worked with the U.N. as he continued to work through the issue of whether or not we went to war in Iraq," said Commerce Secretary Don Evans.

Sorry, Donny Boy. "Lying to" is not the same as "working with."

At a briefing Wednesday, Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters, "Let me remind you that the world is safer and better because of the action that we took to remove a brutal regime from power in Iraq."

Sorry, Scottie Boy. It is inappropriate to "remind" someone of something isn't true, and never was.

Anyway, way to go Teddy!
Ahhh! A day at the beach!
From the webcam in South Haven, on balmy Lake Michigan:

The webcam at Michigan Stadium here in Ann Arbor is currently inoperative. If it were working, the picture would look something like this:

Yup. It's snowing polar bears and penguins here.
On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, about seven hours after the twin towers of the World Trade Center had collapsed, the 45-story WTC 7 building across the street collapsed. Some debris from the collapsing towers had fallen on the building, and there were some fires inside. Neither seems to come close to explaining the building's collapse, according to this article. Perhaps the tenant list provides some clues:

Besides the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and New York?s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) were all tenants.

The article doesn't offer answers, just questions, especially: Why so little attention paid to the collapse of a fire-protected steel-framed building? According to the article, and the FEMA study that it cites, such buildings have rarely, if ever, collapsed due to fire. (The twin towers did, but they may also have been affected by the impact of the planes. There was no significant impact on WTC 7.)
Time to plan another march!
A March march, that is. The Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace is going to sponsor a peace march on March 20, the one year anniversary of Iraq's Pearl Harbor.
"Jobs Not War in 2004" is this year's theme for the AAACP, and for this march. The first planning session is tonight: If anyone out there in readerland has suggestions for cool things we might do, please e-mail me!

As locals and long-time readers will recall, our march last February 8 featured "The World's Largest Human Peace Sign," which we formed on the University of Michigan Diag and had photographed from an airplane:

Click on picture for large view.

I've already talked to a pilot friend of mine (last year's pilot/photographer turned out to be a Bush supporter, even though he did a pretty good job for us) about this year's march, so I'll think we'll be able to do something similar. Hopefully even cooler! I'm thinking maybe more than one pose, or even animation--sort of a marching band for peace! (Six members of my family, including myself, were in marching bands in high school and/or college.) Maybe some effects during the march as well--ribbons or reflective stuff that would show up in an aerial photo or movie. I think a flag-draped coffin brigade--one coffin for each US soldier killed in Iraq--would be very effective. Any suggestions on how to do that inexpensively?

Anyway--let me know of any cool ideas you have!
Late Night
I'm playing in an indoor soccer league. Last night our game STARTED at midnight. Trying to catch up on the outrages du jour. Michelle's got a bunch of them, if you're in a hurry.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
This is not, repeat not, satire:
MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) - President Bush acted Monday to bar people involved in corruption from the United States, a move that coincides with one of his goals at a summit meeting of 34 Western Hemisphere nations.

Corruption of public institutions hampers U.S. efforts to promote security and strengthen democratic institutions and free-market systems, Bush said in a proclamation the White House released at the two-day summit, which began Monday.

He said the United States is acting to restrict international travel and prevent entry into the country of people who have committed, participated in or benefited from corruption conducted while performing public functions.

The restrictions apply, he said, when corruption has had a "serious adverse'' effect on the international activity of U.S. business, U.S. foreign aid goals, the security of the United States against transnational crime and terrorism or the stability of democratic nations and institutions.

"We think that fighting corruption is a good way to strengthen democracy,'' said Sean McCormack, a national security spokesman at the White House. "It's an important part of our discussion down here.''

That's exactly how it appears in the Guardian, and probably hundreds of other papers and web sites around the world, being an AP report. Let's just hope they mean it, and that Bush, Rice, Powell and whatever other corrupt officials they've got with them are barred re-entry into the U.S. Because $200 million in campaign contributions, aka bribes, and no-bid contracts to Republican-connected firms, and so on, and so on, and so on, IS corruption.

From Encarta:

Corruption: dishonest exploitation of power for personal gain.

That IS the Bush administration.

Where has all the money gone?
In addition to the $100 billion or so that has already been spent on the illegal and unnecessary invasion and occupation of Iraq, billions have been given to Halliburton, Bechtel and other Bush cronies for "rebuilding" Iraq. What are they doing with it? According to Maria Tomchick, practically nothing:

The picture is clear: U.S. taxpayer funds spent on Iraqi reconstruction are lining the pockets of George Bush's corporate associates, while U.S. taxpayers, who should expect that money to be spent for a good purpose, are being cheated. Meanwhile, Iraqi citizens, who've been promised help but not received any, are left to twist in the wind, while U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq are forced to manage an increasingly dangerous situation.
Of course they will!
Like me, Billmon had joked about aWol's Moon-Mars Extravaganza being another way to send tax money to Halliburton. It turns out, unsurprisingly, to be no joke. Billmon quotes from the Petroleum News:

Dr. Geoffrey Briggs, director, Center for Mars Exploration at the NASA Ames Center, told “Meet Alaska” that NASA is looking at ways to drill on Mars to look for water — and the life it might contain. Briggs said NASA has been working with Halliburton, Shell, Baker-Hughes and the Los Alamos National Laboratory to identify drilling technologies that might work on Mars...

Halliburton and Baker-Hughes are working on some very advanced systems, Briggs said, some so advanced they aren’t willing to talk much about them. He said the NASA Ames Center relies on working with people in the industry who “really understand the problems and make us face up to the realities …

Billmon and his commenters have lots of interesting things to say about it.
Revisionist Historians
Tom Tomorrow has an interesting post about the variety of spin excreting from the right wing in reaction to Paul O'Neill's claim that the Bushies were discussing invading Iraq from the very start of their misadministration. AWol yesterday seemed to take two different approaches. First, we were always for regime change, just like Clinton:

The stated policy of my administration toward Saddam Hussein was very clear. Like the previous administration, we were for regime change.

But then it's the old "9/11 changed everything" line:

And in the initial stages of the administration, as you might remember, we were dealing with desert badger or fly-overs and fly-betweens and looks, and so we were fashioning policy along those lines. And then all of a sudden September the 11th hit.

As TT points out, back in January aWol was pushing the second line:

Actually, prior to September the 11th, we were discussing smart sanctions. We were trying to fashion a sanction [regimen] that would make it more likely to be able to contain somebody like Saddam Hussein. After September the 11th, the doctrine of containment just doesn't hold any water, as far as I'm concerned.

Of course, when he was running for president, Bush was against all of this nonsense:

If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road. I'm going to prevent that. -- From aWol's debate with Al Gore, October 3, 2000.

So there you have it. October 3, 2000. The last time George W. Bush was right on anything. Because we've sure got a serious problem now.
Monday, January 12, 2004
The infinitely pliable American corporation
Subway restaurants have spent several years worth of advertising turning Jared Fogle into the second most famous nobody in America (the first is here). Jared has been their poster boy for low-fat dining, since Jared lost over 200 pounds on a low-fat diet featuring Subway sandwiches. Subway's web site still features lots of information on the benefits of a low-fat diet, and while they've always had plenty of stuff on the menu that isn't low fat, I think most people would agree that low-fat offerings have been the key feature of Subway's advertising over the last five years. So they must believe in it, right?

Nah. They're now offering two "Atkins-friendly" sandwiches, the Turkey and Bacon Melt and the Chicken Bacon Ranch. I've met some actual people who've lost some weight on Atkins, but it sure sounds like suicide to me. I used to eat crap like that, and I don't remember it being any easier to lose weight then. If I exercise A LOT, I lose weight; otherwise I don't, even on my vegetarian diet. Of course, I've always liked cookies.
More Commie Libruls Attack Fearless Leader
From the Washington Post:
A scathing new report published by the Army War College broadly criticizes the Bush administration's handling of the war on terrorism, accusing it of taking a detour into an "unnecessary" war in Iraq and pursuing an "unrealistic" quest against terrorism that may lead to U.S. wars with states that pose no serious threat.

The report, by Jeffrey Record, a visiting professor at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, warns that as a result of those mistakes, the Army is "near the breaking point."

It recommends, among other things, scaling back the scope of the "global war on terrorism" and instead focusing on the narrower threat posed by the al Qaeda terrorist network.

"[T]he global war on terrorism as currently defined and waged is dangerously indiscriminate and ambitious, and accordingly . . . its parameters should be readjusted," Record writes. Currently, he adds, the anti-terrorism campaign "is strategically unfocused, promises more than it can deliver, and threatens to dissipate U.S. military resources in an endless and hopeless search for absolute security."

So folks in the Army are opposed to Bush. Real (i.e. non "neo") conservatives are opposed to Bush. Progressives are opposed to Bush. Only the ignorant, knaves, and ignorant knaves still support aWol. If you know what he's done, you can't support him.

US Death Toll in Iraq at 496
After one more killed, two wounded today. Three more counts on the indictment of war criminal George W. Bush.
9/11 Commission to ask Bush, Cheney, Clinton and Gore to testify
According to the NY Daily News.
The American Conservative
We believe conservatism to be the most natural political tendency, rooted in man's taste for the familiar, for family, for faith in God. We believe that true conservatism has a predisposition for the institutions and mores that exist. So much of what passes for contemporary conservatism is wedded to a kind of radicalism: fantasies of global hegemony, the hubristic notion of America as a universal nation for all the world's peoples, a hyperglobal economy. In combination with an increasingly unveiled contempt for America's long-standing allies, this is more a recipe for disaster.

Against it, we take our stand.

That's from the mission statement at the Buchananite American Conservative magazine. While I certainly don't agree with a lot of what they say, I do wish that these people represented the opposition instead of the neomorons of the Bush administration. These people have real principles and are willing to debate them logically. The Kwiatkowski article below is from American Conservative.

Neocon job
From retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski:
War is generally crafted and pursued for political reasons, but the reasons given to Congress and the American people for this one were so inaccurate and misleading as to be false. Certainly, the neoconservatives never bothered to sell the rest of the country on the real reasons for occupation of Iraq?more bases from which to flex U.S. muscle with Syria and Iran, better positioning for the inevitable fall of the regional sheikdoms, maintaining OPEC on a dollar track, and fulfilling a half-baked imperial vision. These more accurate reasons could have been argued on their merits, and the American people might indeed have supported the war. But we never got a chance to debate it.

My personal experience leaning precariously toward the neoconservative maw showed me that their philosophy remains remarkably untouched by respect for real liberty, justice, and American values. My years of military service taught me that values and ideas matter, but these most important aspects of our great nation cannot be defended adequately by those in uniform. This time, salvaging our honor will require a conscious, thoughtful, and stubborn commitment from each and every one of us, and though I no longer wear the uniform, I have not given up the fight.

Bush in 41.2 seconds
A too much, too late, too spot-on ad from Liberal Oasis.
For it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?
The "footballs are round" half of the Blair-Bush Project is having his doubts about the fabled WMD's in Iraq:
Tony Blair yesterday signalled that weapons of mass destruction may never be found in Iraq, in his first admission of fallibility over the central justification he gave for going to war with Iraq.
In his most downbeat assessment of the contentious issue so far, the prime minister said he did not know whether WMD would be unearthed, and conceded that this flew in the face of widespread initial expectations.

"I do not know is the answer," he admitted. "I believe that we will but I agree there were many people who thought we were going to find this in the course of the actual operation ... We just have to wait and see".
Mr Blair's uncharacteristically flat response, in an interview in which he was bullish about top-up fees and the Hutton inquiry, spoke volumes about his diminishing certainty that WMD would be found. He pointedly failed to refer to the weekend discovery of 36 shells containing chemical agents in the Iraq desert north of Basra, believed to be remnants from the Iran-Iraq war.
-- Guardian.

Bush (probably) and Blair (possibly) were mostly lying, although there may have been some failures by intelligence agencies which led them to believe that Iraq actually had a few weapons. Whatever it was, we should never forget that inspectors had returned to Iraq and were scouring the country--and finding nothing. Whatever the intelligence may have indicated in October 2002, it was largely refuted by March 2003. But Bush and Blair started the war anyway, and both should be prosecuted for it, just like the Nazi war criminals were at Nuremburg.

From Randy Bish.

From Jeff Danziger.

From Bruce Plante.

From Ted Rall.
O'Neill on 60 Minutes
A transcript, of sorts, is available on the CBS web site.

"It's a huge meeting. You got Dick Cheney from the, you know, secure location on the video. The President is there," says Suskind, who was given a nearly verbatim transcript by someone who attended the meeting.

He says everyone expected Mr. Bush to rubber stamp the plan under discussion: a big new tax cut. But, according to Suskind, the president was perhaps having second thoughts about cutting taxes again, and was uncharacteristically engaged.

"He asks, 'Haven't we already given money to rich people? This second tax cut's gonna do it again,'" says Suskind.

"He says, 'Didn’t we already, why are we doing it again?' Now, his advisers, they say, 'Well Mr. President, the upper class, they're the entrepreneurs. That's the standard response.' And the president kind of goes, 'OK.' That's their response. And then, he comes back to it again. 'Well, shouldn't we be giving money to the middle, won't people be able to say, 'You did it once, and then you did it twice, and what was it good for?'"

But according to the transcript, White House political advisor Karl Rove jumped in.

"Karl Rove is saying to the president, a kind of mantra. 'Stick to principle. Stick to principle.' He says it over and over again," says Suskind. "Don’t waver."

Michigan Readers!
If you haven't already, please sign up to vote in the February 7 Democratic caucus! You don't need to be a registered Democrat; just a registered voter. This will be your only chance to officially vote until November, so don't miss it! And vote Kucinich!

Online Presidential Poll
From TruthOut. Vote here! When I voted, Dean and Kucinich were neck-and-neck.
Sunday, January 11, 2004
I just watched former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl. Pretty interesting. You'd think that a guy who served in the Nixon and Ford White Houses and was CEO of Alcoa wouldn't come off as a babe in the woods infested by the likes of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, but that's pretty much what happened. O'Neill concludes, "I can't imagine that I'll be attacked for telling the truth." Well Paul, tomorrow you won't have to imagine it. It will be reality.

Still, I hope everyone in America saw it, although I know they didn't. Third quarter Packers-Eagles, y'know.
Well, one person is happy
But only because no one else is. There are ten letters to the Detroit Free Press today regarding aWol's recent proposal regarding undocumented workers in this country. All but one denounces it: some from the right (taking jobs away from Americans and legitimizing lawbreaking); some from the left (unfair treatment of immigrant workers); and a few from both (unfair to ALL workers--need to raise the minimum wage, etc.)

Then there's this genius:
President Bush's Medicare prescription drug coverage bill passed last year, and his proposal to allow foreigners to obtain work permits easily have something interesting in common: They are both opposed by the political left and the political right. Those on the left say the programs do not go far enough, while those on the right say they go too far. Typically, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, which would mean these programs are just right.

Troy Ontko, Manchester

That may end up being aWol's campaign strategy: Everybody hates me, so I must be doing something right.

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