Bob's Links and Rants
Saturday, January 24, 2004
Colin Powell is Satan
Any reasonable thinking person could see that Bush was an idiot and Cheney a ghoul. But lots of people thought that Colin Powell was serious and sober and intelligent. And he was. He also possessed absolutely no scruples whatsoever, and still doesn't.

Powell was asked about comments last week by David Kay, the outgoing leader of a U.S. weapons search team in Iraq, that he did not believe Iraq had large quantities of chemical or biological weapons.

"The answer to that question is, we don't know yet," Powell told reporters as he traveled to this former Soviet republic to attend the inauguration Sunday of President-elect Mikhail Saakashvili.

Powell acknowledged that the United States thought deposed leader Saddam Hussein had banned weapons but added, "We had questions that needed to be answered.

"What was it?" he asked. "One hundred tons, 500 tons or zero tons? Was it so many liters of anthrax, 10 times that amount or nothing?"
-- LA Times

That would be zero tons, zero liters, Colin, you scum of the earth. The question had been answered for you by Scott Ritter, by Hussein Kamel, by Saddam Hussein, and by Hans Blix. But they didn't give you the answer you wanted, so you "asked" using our own "shock and awe" WMD's--which is exactly what the various brutal bombs in the US arsenal are. Ten months later, nothing has been found, the guy (Kay) that you placed your trust in says they won't be found, and you and Cheney are still pretending your war was justified. You needed questions answered? They were. They'd be preparing a special place in Hell for you, Colin, if you didn't already run the place.

BTW, Colin is in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, extorting more of the world's oil to be burned in huge American SUV's. Please don't send him back!
The only thing we have to Bush himself
The New York Times tells us: The President Makes Danger His Campaign Theme.
Five more soldiers killed, six wounded
Four more Iraqi civilians were killed as well. CNN

All because of dozens of alleged weapons of mass destruction program related activities.
Friday, January 23, 2004
Michael Moore takes on Peter Jennings
As you may recall, at the debate last night Jennings asked Wesley Clark about Michael Moore's suggestion, in Clark's presence, that George W. Bush (better known here as aWol), was a deserter from the Air National Guard. Moore provides the links to back it up here.
No WMD's, says Kay
Of course this news comes out late on Friday afternoon.

"I don't think they existed," Kay said. "What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last (1991) Gulf War, and I don't think there was a large-scale production program in the nineties," he said.
"I think we have found probably 85 percent of what we're going to find," he said. "I think the best evidence is that they did not resume large-scale production and that's what we're really talking about."
-- Chief US Weapons Inspector David Kay

Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, told them there were no WMD's. Former Marine and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter told them there were no WMD's. Hans Blix and company looked everywhere they told them to, and found no WMD's. And now, after seven months of searching, David Kay says "no WMD's."

Today, no nation can possibly claim that Iraq has disarmed. -- The Liar in Chief, March 17, 2003.

Impeach, prosecute, Guantanamo. Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld and Rice. Traitors.
LA passes anti-Patriot Act resolution
Welcome to the club! Here in Ann Arbor, we've passed TWO of them!
January 15, 2004 -- STEVEN Brill had a summit meeting of TV anchormen and their bosses over dinner at his Fifth Avenue apartment on Tuesday night with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to discuss how they'll cover the next terrorist attack. Brill, whose book "After" detailed the response to 9/11, spearheads the America Prepared Campaign to educate the public. Joining Brill, his wife Cynthia and two of their three kids for dinner were Fox News Channel boss Roger Ailes, ABC News prexie David Westin, CBS News chief Andrew Heyward, CNN anchor Aaron Brown, plus Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw. -- from the New York Post.

I'm sure Brezhnev used to do this with the Pravda staff, although the food probably wasn't as good. I wonder if Ridge told the state-run media when they might expect the attack, where to put their cameras, what to say about how this will affect the election. Maybe he provided them with video tapes of Bush's "strong and determined" statements about the attack, and guidance as to which country would be bombed in response.

Thanks to Michelle for the link.
Boots on the ground
The American Friends Service Committee placed 500 pairs of empty boots in the Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago on Wednesday:

Our local Veterans for Peace group is planning a similar display, "Arlington Midwest," in conjunction with our March 20 peace march in Ann Arbor. Their plan is based on the Arlington West project that VFP did in Santa Barbara:

Who needs insurance? Health care is what is needed.
This is a point Kucinich makes whenever he talks about universal health care. Dean and Kerry (and others) talk about providing "health insurance" for more people. But that leaves them tied to an insurance company which sets deductibles and copays, regulates access to doctors, and decides what is covered and what isn't. Kucinich says that we need to provide health care, not insurance.

The level of stupidity in this game can be seen in this paragraph from Bob Herbert's latest fine column:

I wrote a story last week about the tens of thousands of low-income youngsters in Florida who are eligible for a children's health insurance program but are being put on waiting lists. State officials say they can't afford to insure the kids now. In California, an estimated 300,000 eligible children are being shunted to similar waiting lists. No one knows when they might get coverage.

A waiting list for insurance? Why not just give them access to doctors when they are sick, and pay those bills? Instead, Florida and California (I'm sure with the full support of their wonderful governors) insist that the insurance companies get their money before the kids get care. And care is what they need; not coverage. And not all of them need care. It sounds like when the states find some money, they'll INSURE 50,000 kids based on their order on the list. Most of these kids will be relatively healthy for the next year or two. But there will be a few thousand farther down the list who will have serious illnesses or injuries, but they won't get adequate treatment because they're not insured. Screw the insurance companies; take care of the kids.
Third world, here we come!
The definitions aren't exactly clear, but this chart shows that the sectors of the US economy that are growing (I'm assuming retail, services, outsourcing consulting) pay substantially less in wages than the sectors that are contracting (manufacturing, high tech?). Nationwide the average wage in contracting industries is $44,570, while the average in growing industries is $35,410. (Via MaxSpeak.)

The Cheap-Labor Conservatives are winning.
Levin and Stabenow voted against the spending bill
Good for them. The bill contained nasty Republican provisions cutting overtime pay, allowing even more media consolidation, and delaying requirements that country-of-origin labels be placed on meat and produce in supermarkets. AP tries to make it sound like they let down Michigan because the bill contains some 200 pork projects for the state. Fortunately, they were willing to stand up against these evil Republican bribes and defend workers' rights and a free press. Unfortunately, few of their Senate colleagues were similarly principled.
More Republican Dirty Tricks
Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.

The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already launched an investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos showed up in the pages of the conservative-leaning newspapers and were posted to a website last November.
-- From the Boston Globe.
The price of freedom fries
CARQUEFOU, FRANCE--Why do they hate us? And where do they get their hatred from?

These questions haunted me and three other American visitors as we studied a huge display of cartoons drawn by local schoolchildren assigned to convey their impressions of the United States. Panel after grisly panel depicted the United States, George Bush and those ubiquitous symbols of American commercial culture--McDonald's and Coke--as murderous, predatory and gleefully vicious. Obese Uncle Sams chopping up Iraqi children with a knife, their blood gushing across construction paper. A leering Statue of Liberty holding a hamburger in one hand while firing missiles at dying Afghan civilians across the ocean. The American flag, its bars transformed into prisons for the child inmates of Guantánamo. A baseball bat painted red, white and blue poised to smash a ball--which is a globe. The juxtaposition between the artwork's ferociously angry imagery and the childish drawing styles of the third graders would disturb the most jaded reader.

I didn't see a single positive portrayal of the U.S.
-- Opening paragraphs of Ted Rall's latest column.

Thursday, January 22, 2004
Kucinich explains the Iowa Edwards deal
Now, with respect to what happened in Iowa, let me state this: that if I was looking for someone to pair up with under the Iowa caucus system based on who I agreed with, I wouldn't have had anyone to agree with...


... because the fact of the matter is, I've had a really great difference of opinion, having been the only one on this stage who voted against the war and the Patriot Act.

But John Edwards and I are friends. And one thing we agreed on in Iowa is that we both wanted more delegates. That's what we agreed on.
-- from tonight's debate.

Do you ever have deja vu, Mrs. Lancaster?
I don't think so, but I can check with the kitchen.

One of the great lines from "Groundhog Day," the movie where Bill Murray relives Groundhog Day over and over and over. I just watched it for the first time yesterday (although maybe it's the thousandth time I've watched it in somebody else's endless deja vu). After he tries numerous times and numerous ways to break out of the cycle, he decides to take advantage of the situation. The movie has been out for ten years now, and I doubt if I can come up with any original thoughts on it. It's chock full of easy morals: live every day to the fullest, be nice to people, seize the moment, etc. Still, it's about the most enjoyable and interesting movie I've seen. (I watched "The Truman Show" a couple of weeks ago, and it is quite similar in many ways. "Groundhog Day" is more fun, though.) The Ann Arbor Library is great; they've got lots of wonderful movies on DVD and VHS.
In two weeks, I will send you a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than 4 percent. This will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending and be wise with the people's money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years. -- State of the Union Address

Senate Approves Huge Spending Bill After Democrats' Delay

The Senate gave President Bush and his Republican allies a victory today by approving an $820 billion spending bill covering more than a dozen federal departments and agencies in the fiscal year that began almost four months ago.

It gets worse.
Democrats objected to provisions they said will allow the Bush administration to threaten the overtime pay of millions of workers; relax media ownership rules; and delay a requirement that supermarket meat and produce carry labels identifying them by country of origin.

Not enough Democrats, apparently. A filibuster against the bill was voted down 65 to 28. So millions of Americans will be working long hours without pay, at least until the mad cow sets in. The state-run media will never let them know what hit them.
I'm so famous...
My letter to the editor ran in yesterday's Ann Arbor News:

I hope that Ann Arbor area Democrats will consider voting for the one presidential candidate who offers a real change from business as usual: Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich not only opposed the war in Iraq: He still does, and offers a plan to get the UN in and the U.S. out within 90 days. He proposes a Department of Peace to put the U.S. back on a more peaceful basis with the rest of the world. He promises to repeal NAFTA and the WTO, which together have cost many thousands of manufacturing jobs in Michigan. Kucinich proposes a single-payer universal health care plan, similar to what Canada has, which will free citizens from an enormous worry, free business from an enormous burden, and also save money overall.

He strongly defends workers' rights, and was the only candidate to join the picket line during the strike against Borders. Learn more about Dennis Kucinich at, and register to vote in the Feb. 7 Democratic caucus at (before Jan. 31). Vote for a better, more peaceful future. Vote for Kucinich!

Two more soldiers killed, one wounded...
More victims of aWol's illegal war.

From Matt Davies.
No signs of intelligent life forms here...

From the always brilliant Lalo Alcarez.
Okay, Dean was a little exuberant...
I'm probably one of the last people in America to see the video of Howard Dean's speech on Monday night. Some seem to think it may have killed off his campaign, and maybe it did, but I don't really see why. I saw a much more ridiculous speech on Tuesday night. Candidates always try to give rousing speeches, and that's what Dean was doing. He didn't say anything wrong or especially stupid. Screw the media, and Leno and Letterman, if the demeanor of a candidate in one speech, given while he's dead tired and disappointed yet still trying to rally the troops, is seen as a reason for ridicule and rejection. I think there are plenty of reasons why Dean isn't the best candidate, but his little Iowa speech isn't one of them.
Who knows what Saddam could have done with those dozens of activities?
Tom Tomorrow reminds us of this fabulous line from the State of the Union address:

Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.

Already! Imagine that! That line got quite a laugh from the three hundred or so of us watching at the Residential College Tuesday night.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Zapatistas: Ten Year Anniversary
A collection of articles is here.
State of the Union
I watched the Liar in Chief spout his nonsense with about 300 people last evening at the UM's Residential College, courtesy of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace. We were watching CBS; hopefully everyone got to see Ted Kennedy's reactions. Here are some other responses:

Dennis Kucinich
The "Democrats"
Stephen Zunes
Ten-year-old interested in flying software
Massachusetts goes on Red Alert.

Michelle links to an article about cops snooping around a woman's house in Massachusetts because she and her ten-year-old son had discussed the possibility of purchasing Microsoft Flight Simulator with the clerk at their local Staples store. Apparently the clerk took the orange alert nonsense a little too seriously and reported them to the FBI.

I don't know if we should be happy or sad about this, but the Freepers seem to feel pretty much the same way as I do about this story. ("Freepers" are the Bush-loving wingnuts who hang out at I googled around for a more complete article on the story, and came up with this one:

The comments from the mother, the Air Force Reserve Pilot, in the article are pretty scary:

"At first, I felt a little angry and violated" about someone telling authorities about her inquiry, said Julie Olearcek, a 15-year Air Force Reserve pilot. "But now that time has gone by, I realize it may take someone like that, who's a little nervous, who may save the day." Olearcek's husband, Henry, is also a flier, currently on active duty, and frequently away from home these days.

About a week before Christmas, Olearcek said the couple's 10-year-old son, who has flight simulation software and is keenly interested in learning to fly like his parents, commented that he'd have to wait until his dad retired to learn to fly by instruments. She went to Staples soon after and took her son to the office supply store, where he looked through the available software.

"He was disappointed because there was military stuff, but it was all fighting stuff, so I asked the clerk, and he was alarmed by us asking how to fly airplanes and said that was against the law," Olearcek said. "I said I couldn't imagine that, but, because (the clerk) was a little on edge ... I left." But "what saves us, is people are paying attention," she said.

Olearcek said she and her husband both were well aware that the Office of Homeland Security had raised the threat level during the holiday and of the generally increased terrorism alert following the Sept. 11 plane attacks.

"And rightly so, this puts people on edge," she said.

That article, which originally came from the Greenfield, MA Recorder newspaper, had been posted on the Free Republic web site. Check out some of the Freepers' comments:

  • "he was alarmed by us asking how to fly airplanes and said that was against the law" -- Jaw dropping stupidity. How does such a person even get through the day?
  • "he was alarmed by us asking how to fly airplanes and said that was against the law" -- Seems a little Gestapo like to me!
  • "At first I felt like, 'Wait a minute, this is America.' But we also have to understand... It isn't, anymore. Score one for the alliance of international terrorists and home-grown power-hungry police."

The Plaid Adder weighs in on this silly concept. Excerpt:
Now you can say that within the context of a primary fight, the focus on 'electability' is purely strategic - what after all is the good of picking a candidate that Bush will beat? What I am arguing is that if we are determining electability based on perceptions created by the mainstream media - as we inevitably are - then we are essentially allowing the corporations to pick our candidate for us. Money is what the media are loyal to; and my friends, money does not want a Democrat in the White House. You know that, I know that. We know that money does not have our best interests at heart. So when money tells us who's electable, why do we listen? Why is it so hard for us to remember that yes, money talks, but it does not tell the truth?
Story from the Iowa caucuses
Cyndy links to this story about what happened in one Iowa caucus.
Tom Tomorrow sums up the State of the Union address:

Actually, that cartoon is from last year, and is a reprise from a cartoon TT did in 1992 featuring Bush Sr.
Health Savings Accounts
And starting this year, millions of Americans will be able to save money, tax-free, for their medical expenses in a health savings account. -- from aWol's State of the Union Address.

Bush's health care "plan" could be called the "Leave No Corporation Behind" plan. While leaving millions of Americans with an expensive, hit-or-miss system of health care, it GUARANTEES that the HMO's, insurance companies, and big Pharm will get their billions. I certainly don't know the ins and outs of all of it, but I am familiar with Health Savings Accounts (HSA's), since I've had one the last two years. In an HSA, you put a portion of your paycheck (automatically withdrawn in most cases) into the HSA. Then, whenever you have a qualified health-related expenditure not covered by your health insurance (if you've got it, which I do), such as deductibles, co-pays, non-prescription drugs, orthotics, crutches, eyeglasses, etc., you fill out a form, send in the receipts, and the company managing the HSA sends you a reimbursement check (from your own money). The benefit? All the money you put into the HSA is tax deductible. The catches? First, you don't have use of your money until you make a claim. Worse, if your qualified expenditures don't match what you've put in (or you forget to file, lose receipts, etc.), the company managing the HSA keeps the money.

I'm ashamed to admit that I fell for the scam. Two years ago, I signed up. "Fortunately," I was ill a couple of times and diligently pursued optional expenses to make sure I got my money back. Last year, I had almost no expenses, lost the receipts on those I did, and the HSA walked away with $180. This year I wised up and didn't sign up. I've always thought that most insurance was a scam; you give some corporation lots of money over the years, then if something bad happens to you AND you can prove you weren't to blame AND you complete all the paperwork, the less-unscrupulous of the insurance companies will give you some of your money back. They will of course raise your rates to recoup the money. But HSA's may take the cake. They get the interest on your money regardless, and they get to keep it all if you don't get sick or you forget to do the paperwork.

Like everything in Bush's speech, HSA's are a way to take money from those who have little and give it to those who have much. And they offer no benefits at all to low-income people. The deductibility is on the federal INCOME tax, and as the right-wingers love to point out, those "lucky duckies" who are poor pay little or no income tax. They do, however, pay sales taxes and payroll taxes, and HSA's offer no relief from these. So aWol's call for HSA's is mostly a benefit to the companies that run HSA's, with a moderate benefit for the wealthy who get sick and conscientiously file the forms.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
What it's all about:
The Bush years are a study in deliberately wasted effort: Repeal of the estate tax. Tax exemption for stock dividends. Ballistic Missile Defense. The USA PATRIOT Act. The war on Iraq. Each of these initiatives has a clientele. None of them seriously aims to achieve its stated goal, be that economic recovery or homeland security or national security writ large.

The method is clear to any who choose to study closely: It is a method of subterfuge and deception. It is the systematic and relentless pursuit of partly hidden agendas, sold to the public with slogans. The tax cuts were not aimed to produce recovery and jobs; they were a reward to the rich. The war on Iraq was not waged to help the war on terror; it was about getting Saddam, as we have now had confirmed by Paul O'Neill's report on the Iraq agenda Bush carried from the beginning. Missile defense is not about North Korea, and still less about Iran or any other "rogue state"; it's about the contracts. In all these cases, the decision on what to do came first -- then the circumstances of the day were arranged to suit.

So it is today on the economy. What does Bush want? He wants a growth rate high enough to get him through the election. That's obvious. After that, he doesn't care. His clientele -- the military contractors, oil companies, pharmaceutical firms and big media that control this government -- make their money on patents, contracts and the exercise of monopoly power. (Case in point: Bush is pressuring impoverished Central Americans, in trade negotiations, to add 10 years to the length of drug patents.) These people have no interest in full employment. They like unemployment, weak labor, low wages and a government that bullies on their behalf. And after the election, if Bush wins, that is what they will get for four more years.
-- From James K. Galbraith in Salon (subscription or free day pass required)

Should be a short speech
Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern suggests that the Bushies are trying to keep lies out of tonight's State of the Union address while still claiming the war in Iraq was justified. McGovern cites the Carnegie study and Paul O'Neill's revelations, and then adds:

But the most damaging revelation came from an internal Iraqi document -- this time, happily, not a forged one -- confirming that a high-level order to destroy all chemical and biological weapons was carried out in the summer of 1991 (there were no nuclear weapons). U.S. officials learned of this in mid-1995 from what intelligence officers would call ''a reliable source with excellent access.'' Everything else he told us has checked out.

That source was none other than the person in charge of Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs: Saddam Hussein's son-in-law Hussein Kamel -- the one who gave the order to destroy those weapons. Kamel defected in August 1995.

Documentary corroboration that Kamel's order was carried out surfaced this month in a handwritten letter obtained by Barton Gelman of The Washington Post. The letter was written by Hossam Amin, director of the Iraqi office overseeing U.N. inspectors, five days after Kamel's defection. It confirms that Iraq had in fact destroyed its entire inventory of biological weapons during the summer of 1991, before U.N. inspectors even knew of their existence.

Does this mean that Kamel's testimony had been known in Washington and London more than seven years before Bush's address last January, and that during that entire period no evidence had come to light poking holes in the information he provided? Yes.

Well, maybe they didn't tell the president. If that is true, ''they'' should be fired.

There is, I suppose, a chance that Bush's advisors missed the information from Kamel's debriefing -- or forgot it. But Newsweek on Feb. 24, 2003, reported Kamel's assertion that the weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed. That was more than three weeks before our troops were sent into Iraq, ostensibly to ''disarm'' Iraq of those same weapons.

Both Bush and Vice President Cheney have accorded Kamel fulsome praise as defector par excellence, emphasizing his revelations about the Iraqi biological and chemical weapons but not mentioning that Kamel also said that those same weapons were destroyed at his order in 1991. This brings the practice of ''cherry-picking'' intelligence information to new heights -- or lows.


From Jen Sorensen.

From Boondocks.
Iowans like guys named John.
Best explanation I can come up with for the caucus results. According to preliminary e-mails I've gotten from the Kucinich campaign, Edwards' strong second place may have been due in large part to the Kucinich alliance. Reports from Kucinich supporters say that they were just short of 15% in many caucuses, and went over to Edwards as part of the deal. Sounds like a tough sell, though, with the results showing Kucinich at 1% with zero delegates, while Gephardt drops out with 11%, and Dean being said to have been dealt a severe blow at 18%. If it can be sold, though, it leaves Kucinich as the only candidate with a strong pro-labor (anti-NAFTA) position.

I'm just depressed about this. I really want to work on a campaign this year to get rid of Bush, and I'd like to be excited about it. Imagine passing out leaflets for Kerry:

Voter: Why should I vote for Kerry?
Me: Because Bush started two illegal wars.
Voter: But didn't Kerry vote for both?
Me: Well, yeah. But Bush passed that awful Patriot Act!
Voter: But didn't Kerry vote for that too?
Me: Well, yeah. But Bush supports even more "free trade" agreements which benefit the wealthy few at the expense of working people in all countries!
Voter: But doesn't Kerry support them also?
Me: Well, yeah. But Kerry's better than Bush on the environment.
Voter: Okay, but so is ExxonMobil. How can someone support illegal wars, which pollute like nobody's business, and trade agreements which undercut environmental regulations and still claim to be pro-environment? Don't you need a higher bar than "better than Bush?"
Me: John Kerry is not George W. Bush.
Voter: Okay, I'm sold, but that's the best you can come up with?

Monday, January 19, 2004
Pardon my abbreviations, but WTF?? Kerry compensates for taking bad positions on the issues, especially Iraq and trade, by being extremely dull. Apparently that plays well in Iowa. Of the Democratic candidates, only Lieberman do I like less than Kerry. At least Dean won't walk away with the nomination, but this could be much worse. I think, aside from Lieberman, that Kerry would be the least improvement over Bush, and have the worst chance of beating him. Kerry could put Al Gore to sleep. Let's hope somebody else wins in New Hampshire. Sheesh!
In case you're wondering...
Wolf Blitzer explains the Iowa caucus system.

There are 1,933 caucus sites around the state.

At 7:30 p.m. ET, 6:30 p.m. CT, people gather in schools, community centers, church basements and even private homes.

By 8:00 p.m., they're asked to divide themselves up initially into various corners of the room -- Kerry supporters in one corner, Gephardt supporters in another, etc.

There will be a separate grouping for people who are not committed to any one candidate.

Supporters of candidates who don't receive a minimum of 15 percent of the caucus-goers in the room -- will then have to make a decision: support a different candidate or go over to the uncommitted corner.

Other attendees will be lobbying the supporters of the unviable candidates, the ones with less than 15 percent of caucus-goers in their corner, to chose another candidate and join their group.

This process could last for a few minutes or even an hour or longer.

Eventually, the debating and horse-trading will end, with each person at the caucus in a specific group -- either a candidate group or the uncommitted group. At that point, the caucus precinct leader will call Democratic Party headquarters in Des Moines with word of the tally.

So, that makes it relatively clear, to me at least, what the Edwards-Kucinich deal is about. If a particular caucus has 100 voters, and the initial division has 11 Kucinich supporters and 9 for Edwards, the Edwards supporters are being encouraged to go to the Kucinich corner, giving one of the two "viability," meaning having over 15%. If the situation is reversed in another caucus, then Edwards would get the Kucinich supporters.

Wolf didn't explain exactly what the "tally" is; is it just the number of voters in each "viable" corner, or one delegate for each 15%? Also, I wonder what Wolf means by "horse trading." Without the quid pro quo implied by the Kucinich-Edwards deal, made before any caucuses start, and without the actual candidates present, I don't see what viable corners could offer to the unviable ones. Could Dean supporters offer guarantees to the tiny Lieberman corner about supporting Israel? Could Kerry fans offer Sharpton supporters that Kerry would take a real position on something? I'm assuming that offers of cash are prohibited, but I can't see what else there would be to trade. Will cell phones be allowed, so voters can arrange deals between caucus sites? Should I have asked these questions earlier?

[Update] The Washington Post's explanation.

Press release on Kucinich-Edwards Deal
is here.
Kucinich and Edwards team up for Iowa
Can you say "Hmmmm?"
Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich have struck a deal to support each other should one candidate fail to draw the minimum support needed to compete in Monday night's Iowa caucuses, Edwards campaign sources said.

The decision could give Edwards, a U.S. senator from North Carolina, a boost in the convoluted caucuses, the first major Democratic contest of the election year. An Iowa poll published over the weekend shows Edwards is in a tight race with the four front-runners. The same poll has Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, drawing the support of just 3 percent of likely caucus-goers.

"Both of us believe in a lot of the same things, and we like each other very much," Edwards said. "But both of us also recognize at the end of the day, caucus-goers will have to make their own decisions about this."
Edwards and Kucinich have agreed that in any Iowa precinct where either candidate fails to garner the minimum needed to survive the first round, their supporters are urged to line up for the other candidate, Kucinich spokesman David Swanson said.

"They both have a positive approach, and they both have an optimistic vision," Swanson said. "Where we need 15 percent, we've got 9 and he's got 6, they'll come to us, and where he's got 9 and we've got 6, we'll go to him."
-- That's from CNN.

The e-mail I got from our local Kucinich coordinator including the following information, apparently from a press release:

1. Neither campaign is ending nor endorsing the other. This is only because of the unique nature of the Iowa caucuses where you have to have 15% in each and every caucus room to be a viable group. It applies to no other state, no other night.

2. This is not a "strategic compromise." Rather it is a deal that works toward the long-term goal of keeping the race tight and keeping Dennis in it ALL THE WAY TO THE CONVENTION. We never expected to win Iowa, but to get delegates in enough states so that the Kucinich platform is decisive AT THE CONVENTION. Please remember that the Kucinich campaign would have to end if one person (i.e. Dean) coasted to wins in Iowa and New Hampshire.

In other words, it's not a statewide deal, but a caucus-by-caucus deal.

My initial impressions:

I received an e-mail with the following three articles about Dr. Martin Luther King:

Martin Luther King's Radical Legacy
By John C. McMillian, In These Times
10 February 1999
Ernest Hemingway once wrote that "the dignity ... of an iceberg is due to only one eighth of it being above water," while the rest remains submerged, unavailable to the naked eye. Something of the same might be said for Martin Luther King Jr. Though there are a number of reasons why we should all be grateful for the federal holiday each January honoring the birth of King, we should also recognize that this event helps to promote a shallow understanding of his true intellectual legacy, leading to a misconstrued image of King that he scarcely could have endorsed himself.

The scores of politicians who spoke on Jan. 18 about the pressing need to fulfill King's "Dream," for example, were generally
endorsing a simplified, static portrait of King. Meanwhile, we have been bombarded with a steady stream of television commercials, advertisements and newspaper articles that imply King was merely a liberal reformer, whose sole preoccupation was civil rights. Where was the discussion of King's plans to transform the structures of power and privilege in society? Who remembered King's call for a "radical revolution" of American values? As historian Vincent Harding has remarked, "It appears as if the price for the first national holiday honoring a black man is the development of a massive case of national amnesia."

Even before the advent of his public career, King pondered fundamental economic changes in American society. "I imagine you
already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic," a 23-year-old King wrote in a 1952 letter to Coretta Scott. If most Americans don't know this, the federal govemment certainly did. Because of his alleged ties to Communism, the FBI launched an extended campaign to smear King, tapping his phones, sending him threatening mail and trying to discredit him among journalists and potential donors and supporters. Following King's famous speech at the 1963 March on Washington, FBI Assistant Director Louis Sullivan charged that King had become (in a curious pair of adjectives), "The most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country."

We further need to be reminded that King demanded a total restructuring of our foreign policies, and-unlike Jesse Jackson and
many other "leftists" of our era-he would have had nothing but scorn for President Clinton's criminal bombings of Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, King began speaking out against U.S. militarism as early as 1965. Most symptomatic of this, of course, was the "nightmarish conflict" in Vietnam, which he said was "one of the most unjust wars that has ever been fought in the history of the world."

In the last years of his life, King also began to focus greater attention on entrenched patterns of exploitation. In these terms,
integration did not simply mean mixed lunch counters or diverse neighborhoods, but rather a meaningful sharing of power and
responsibility in all aspects of society. Though it is true that King pined for a nation where people would be judged "not by the
color of their skin, but by the content of their character," few things are more deliberately cynical than the conjecture of
conservatives- from Ward Connerly to David Horowitz-who claim that King would have opposed present-day affirmative action programs. In fact, the opposite is true. In his 1964 book, Why We Can't Wait, King argued that "among the vital jobs to be done, the nation ... must incorporate into its planning some compensatory consideration for the handicaps [the Negro] has inherited from the past."

Elsewhere, he cited both the federal Gl Bill and India's program of "preferences" for the "untouchables" as worthy efforts to make up for disadvantages that certain groups had faced. King also spoke publicly against "systemic rather than superficial
flaws" in our economic system, questioning the basic tenets of capitalism and calling for full employment, national health care and a guaranteed annual wage. As a means to these ends, he envisioned a massive escalation of nonviolent civil disobedience. Whereas much of his early work in the South simply sought a recognition of general principles mirrored in the Constitution, King planned for subsequent campaigns to be waged in confrontation with the federal government.

Nonviolence, he argued, "must be adapted to urban conditions and urban moods.... There must be more than a statement to the larger society, a force that interrupts its functioning at some key point." But above all, King called for a revolutionary re-examination of America's character: a point that was lost on virtually all of the joumalists and politicians who commemorated King this year.

Obviously, we should continue to honor King's greatness on the third Monday of each January. But in the future, we need to demand that these celebrations look beyond the popular, sanitized images of King that are spooned out to us annually. As Stanford historian Clayborne Carson has pointed out, "The historical King was far too interesting to be encased in simple, didactic legends designed to offend no one."

Remaking King
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
8 February 2000
On the day I received the kind invitation from SCLC Board/King Planning Committee Member, Maureen Flynn-Hart, the news media announced that the Catholic church hierarchy was considering naming the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist, Protestant minister, as a Christian Martyr; an extraordinary honor to a non-Catholic. As I thought of this honor, I was also reminded of how political conservatives have appropriated the name, image, and selected texts of the late Dr. King to further their right-wing, white supremacist agenda. A prime example, of course, is the anti-affirmative-action initiatives that have been placed on the ballot in California and other places, actions that would've sickened the heart of King if he was among the living.

It is the nature of the state to co-opt movements to further their own interests. That's the nature of capitalism, isn't it? A deep reading of King, however, shows, not so much Christian Martyr as Social Reformer - someone deeply concerned about economic and social justice, as well as American militarism. Consider this: When Dr. King was cruelly martyred, was he assassinated while working for the church, or while working for a decent wage and dignity for striking garbage workers in Memphis?

It's easy for us, the living, to forge Dr. King into an icon; it's safe. It's much harder to do the work that Dr. King would be doing
today. How would he look at a president like Clinton's dark, pragmatic embrace of the death penalty? What would he say about two million people in prison? How would he address homelessness in the richest nation on earth? What would be his response to injustice in the so-called halls of justice? I hazard a prediction that, health permitting, the good Rev. Dr.
would be passionately protesting these, and other, injustices -- just as we should do!

Dr. King Was Not a "Dreamer"
By Paul Rockwell, In Motion Magazine
10 May 1999
Every year, millions of Americans pay tribute to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King. We often forget, however, that King was the object of derision when he was alive. At key moments in his quest for civil rights and world peace, the corporate media treated King with hostility. Dr. King's march for open housing in Chicago, when the civil rights movement entered the North, caused a negative, you've-gone-too-far reaction in the Northern press. And Dr. King's stand on peace and international law, especially his support for the self-determination of third world peoples, caused an outcry and backlash in the predominantly white press.

In his prophetic anti-war speech at Riverside Church in 1967 (recorded and filmed for posterity but rarely quoted in today's
press, King emphasized four points: 1) that American militarism would destroy the war on poverty, 2) that American jingoism breeds violence, despair, and contempt for law within the United States, 3) the use of people of color to fight against people of color abroad is a "cruel manipulation of the poor," 4) human rights should be measured by one yardstick everywhere. The Washington Post denounced King's anti-war position, and said King was "irresponsible." In an editorial entitled "Dr. King's
error," The New York Times chastised King for going beyond the allotted domain of black leaders -- civil rights. TIME called King's anti-war stand "demogogic slander...a script for Radio Hanoi." The media responses to Dr. King's calls for peace were so venomous that King's two recent biographers - Stephen Oates and David Garrow - devoted whole chapters to the media blitz against King's internationalism.

Dr. King may be an icon within the media today, but there is still something upsetting about the way his birthday is observed. Four words - "I have a dream" - are often parrotted out of context every January 15th. King, however, was not a dreamer - at least not the teary-eyed, mystic projected in the media. True, he was a visionary, but he specialized in applied ethics. He even called himself "a drum major for justice," and his mission, as he described it, was, "to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed." In fact, the oft-quoted "I have a dream" speech was not about far-off visions. In his speech in Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963, Dr. King confronted the poverty, injustice, and "nightmare conditions" of American cities. In its totality, the "I have a dream" speech was about the right of oppressed and poor Americans to cash their promissary note in our time. It was a call to action.

In 1986, Jesse Jackson wrote an essay on how Americans can protect the legacy of Dr. King. Jackson's essay on the trivialization, distortion, the emasculation of King's memory, is one of the clearest, most relevant appreciations in print of Dr. King's work. Jackson wrote: "We must resist this the media's weak and anemic memory of a great man. To think of Dr. King only as a dreamer is to do injustice to his memory and to the dream itself. Why is it that so many politicians today want to emphasize that King was a dreamer? Is it because they want us to believe that his dreams have become reality, and that therefore, we should celebrate rather than continue to fight? There is a struggle today to preserve the substance and the integrity of Dr. King's legacy."

Today, the media often ignores the range and breadth of King's teachings. His speeches -- on economic justice, on our potential to end poverty, on the power of organized mass action, his criticism of the hostile media, his opposition to U.S. imperialism (a word he dared to use) - are rarely quoted, much less discussed with understanding. In fact, successors to Dr. King who raise the same concerns today are again treated with sneers, and their "ulterior motives" are questioned. A genuine appreciation of Dr. King requires respect for the totality of his work and an ongoing commitment to struggle for peace and justice today.

Shouldn't we ask the Martians first?
Letter-writers to the Detroit Free Press seem pretty united; Spaceman George's Mars plan is an election-year gimmick. This one was my favorite:

I just wanted President George W. Bush to know that as a taxpayer I have no problem with his grand plans for space trips, as long as he promises to bring back food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, jobs for the unemployed and medical care for the uninsured. Hope he has a nice trip.

Joan C. Brown Clinton Township

Another letter suggests:

No space program could unify us better than having an astronaut team composed of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Karl Rove and Tom DeLay on a one-way trip to the Red Planet.

Hey! Don't forget Ashcroft and Rice!
Nolo Contendre
The only Democrat running for the House seat of retiring Republican Nick Smith (of Medicare bribery fame) has dropped out of the race. Several Republicans, including Smith's son Brad, are seeking the Republican nomination, which apparently will be the same as being elected. My nephew, his wife, and other left-leaning seventh-district voters will end up with probably NO voice in choosing their next representative in Congress.

Somebody please tell me what in the world a winner-take-all two-party system has to do with democracy. I can't see the connection.
Students walk out on Jeb
About a dozen students walked out Monday before Gov. Jeb Bush gave a Martin Luther King Jr. day address at historically black Florida A&M University.

The group, identified only as "students of FAMU," handed out a one-page statement describing Bush's holiday visit as disrespectful to King's legacy and black students.

Georgia and the Caucusus
No, nothing to do with "The Doctor went down to Georgia" to worship with a former president non-story. No, this is about the OTHER Georgia, the one where the cold war continues, strategically located between Caspian oil and the Black Sea or Mediterranean links to Western SUV's.

Richard Miles, the U.S. ambassador to Georgia, announced on Saturday that U.S. soldiers who arrived in the country in early 2002 to help train Georgian units in counterterrorism would stay indefinitely. The more than 200 troops, stationed at a former Red Army base near Tbilisi, were to leave in March.

"The Cold War is over and we will not give up our independence. Russia cannot treat us as their former colony," Mr. Saakashvili told the BBC. "We are friends with the Americans because they helped us."
-- Globe and Mail

Of course, by "we," Saakashvili means "I," just like the kings of yore. The questionable election of his Russia-connected predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze, was overturned, apparently with American assistance, and Mr. S. "elected" to replace him, also apparently with American assistance.

Washington promised expanded aid to Georgia -- the country already receives the second-highest amount of U.S. aid per capita after Israel -- in the wake of Mr. Saakashvili's election, and highlighted Georgia's potential to become a member of NATO.

The latest step comes amid heightened tensions between Moscow and its former satellite over the two bases that Russia still maintains in the country from the Soviet era. After his election this month, Mr. Saakashvili made it clear that having Russia swiftly withdraw its units would be one of his priorities.

Bush lied, people died, most Americans couldn't care less
From Ted Rall:

Nearly 500 American servicemen have been killed in the war against Iraq. At least 2,400 more have been wounded. We've killed so many Iraqis--tens of thousands, certainly--that the Pentagon can't keep count. We've borrowed more than $160 billion to pay for this extravaganza, with many more hundreds of billions to follow. And what was the point of this waste of life and treasure? "To disarm Iraq," Bush told us.

But Iraq, as everyone from the CIA to Hans Blix to Saddam told us beforehand, didn't have any arms to dis.

Calling off the WMD hunt is Bush's tacit admission that he lied about the reasons for war. It's hard to think of anything worse that a president can do. It's even harder to imagine the American people, so cynically accepting of deception, holding him accountable.

War on Afghan children continues
A U.S. helicopter attacked a house in a village in southern Afghanistan, killing 11 people, four of them children, Afghan officials said Monday. -- USA Today

There's a frequently-used and abused word for this: Terrorism.
Is Bush Doomed?
Paul Craig Roberts is a right-wing columnist for the Washington Times. Here's a column he wrote recently, in its entirety, via

Is Bush Doomed?

by Paul Craig Roberts
Fear must be coursing through President Bush's veins as he realizes the Iraqi trap in which the neocons have placed him. Bush is caught between an Iraqi civil war and a wider insurgency. Desperate to extricate himself from the weekly carnage well before the November election, Bush can neither deliver on his promise of democracy via direct elections nor impose his plan for an Iraqi assembly elected indirectly by caucuses.

If Bush delivers on his democracy promise, the Shi'ites with 60% of the population will be elected, and the country will break out in civil war. If he tries to water down Shi'ite representation with his plan for an assembly elected indirectly by caucuses, the so far peaceful Shi'ites are likely to join the violence.

If the Shi'ites become violent, the insurgency would be too large to be contained by our present occupying force. Moreover, the outbreak of a general rebellion in Iraq would spill over throughout the Middle East where unpopular secular rulers are sitting on a smoldering Islam. Our puppet in Pakistan would likely bite the dust. Israel would then face countervailing Muslim nukes.

If you think more US troops are needed now in Iraq, imagine how many more would be required to deal with a wider conflagration. Where would they come from? The US military is already so thinly stretched that soon 40% of the occupying troops will be drawn from the National Guard and reservists, resulting in tremendous disruption in the affairs of tens of thousands of families.

Pilots and troops are shunning the cash bonuses offered for reenlistments. The troops recognize a quagmire even if their neocon overlords cannot. The only source of troops is the draft.

A Shi'ite insurgency that brought back the draft would deprive Bush of reelection. A civil war with the prospect of a Kurdish state would bring in the Turks. On January 14 Turkish prime minister Erdogan said that Turkey will intervene in the event of Iraq's disintegration.

The Shi'ites and the Turks are forming an alliance as both have the same interest in maintaining the geographical integrity of the Iraqi state. The US could come dangerously close to military conflict with a NATO ally.

All of this was perfectly clear well in advance of the ill-considered invasion. If Bush wasn't smart enough to see it, why didn't his National Security Advisor or his Secretary of State? How did a handful of neocon ideologues hijack US foreign policy?

Bush did not campaign on a neocon policy of conquest in the Middle East. There was no public debate over this policy. The invasion of Iraq was the private agenda of the neocons.

Why have the neocons not been held responsible for their treason in abusing their presidential appointments to substitute their personal agenda for America's agenda?

Bush has been the neocon's puppet for so long that he is now stuck with responsibility for their horrible mistake. With no way of his own to get out of his trap, his arrogance toward the "irrelevant" UN and our doubting allies has disappeared. Come bail me out, he pleads.

Bush, desperate to be extricated before doom strikes him is experiencing a reality totally different from the chest-thumping of neocon megalomaniacs, such as Charles Krauthammer, who declared the US so powerful as to be able to "reshape, indeed remake, reality on its own."

Bush now knows that he lacks the power to deal with the reality of Iraq. Indeed, Bush cannot even deal with his own appointees.

So: Bad News--It looks like there will be a major regional war in the Middle East, killing tens of thousands, including thousands of Americans, many of whom will be drafted.

Good News--We may be able to excrete the Dimwit-in-Chief and the neocon dimwits who started it all.

Really Bad News: Roberts may be being optimistic. He's probably spot on about the war expanding and the draft coming back, but the American public is at present so stupid that aWol may be re-selected before they realize what is happening, if they ever do.

The half of Iraq that certainly won't be better off now that Saddam is gone...
is the female half. The Iraqi woman who writes Baghdad Burning complains about the proposal that Islamic Sharia law is being endorsed by the Iraqi Governing Council (the US-backed puppet government) as the basis for an Iraqi constitution. While she points out that Sharia isn't necessarily a bad thing--she's a practicing Muslim and believes it to be a religion of great benefit to women--it has been abused by clerics and used to oppress women (think Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Taliban). She's got a long post on the subject; here's her conclusion:

During the sanctions and all the instability, we used to hear fantastic stories about certain Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar, to name a few. We heard about their luxurious lifestyles- the high monthly wages, the elegant cars, sprawling homes and malls… and while I always wanted to visit, I never once remember yearning to live there or even feeling envy. When I analyzed my feelings, it always led back to the fact that I cherished the rights I had as an Iraqi Muslim woman. During the hard times, it was always a comfort that I could drive, learn, work for equal pay, dress the way I wanted and practice Islam according to my values and beliefs, without worrying whether I was too devout or not devout enough.

I usually ignore the emails I receive telling me to 'embrace' my new-found freedom and be happy that the circumstances of all Iraqi women are going to 'improve drastically' from what we had before. They quote Bush (which in itself speaks volumes) saying things about how repressed the Iraqi women were and how, now, they are going to be able to live free lives.

The people who write those emails often lob Iraq together with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan and I shake my head at their ignorance but think to myself, "Well, they really need to believe their country has the best of intentions- I won't burst their bubble." But I'm telling everyone now- if I get any more emails about how free and liberated the Iraqi women are *now* thanks to America, they can expect a very nasty answer.

Or maybe it was just manufacturing lies for the Bush administration...
An around-the-clock operation, to be sure. From the Suskind/O'Neill book, via the San Jose Mercury News via Left I:

"Tenet pulled out a long scroll, the size of an architectural blueprint, and flattened it on the table.

"It was a grainy photograph of a factory. Tenet said that surveillance planes had just taken this photo. The CIA believed the building might be 'a plant that produces either chemical or biological materials for weapons manufacture.'

"Soon, everyone was leaning over the photo. Tenet had a pointer. 'Here are the railroad tracks coming are the trucks lined up over here...They're bringing it in here and bringing it out there...'

"[Vice President Dick] Cheney motioned to the deputies, the backbenchers, lining the wall. 'Come on up,' he said with uncharacteristic excitement, waving his arm. 'You have to take a look at this.'

"...After a moment, O'Neill interjected, 'I've seen a lot of factories around the world that look a lot like this one. What makes us suspect that this one is producing chemical or biological agents for weapons?'

"Tenet mentioned a few items of circumstantial evidence -- such as the round-the-clock rhythm of shipments in and out of the plant -- but said there was 'no confirming intelligence' as to the materials being produced."

Hmmm...We used to have "weapons" factories just like that here in Michigan, but most of them have closed down and moved to Texas or Mexico or Japan or China. Railroad tracks, trucks, things going in and out, just imagine... Hey world! If you've got an economy, the Bushies can find an excuse to invade you! Wait...think... Afghanistan, Somalia...Hey world! Whether or not you have an economy, the Bushies can find an excuse to invade you!
9/11 Panel won't get extension
The White House has stonewalled them for months, making their job nearly impossible, but insists that they finish in May.

I'm having trouble finding a specific quote, but I recall that one of the few excuses the Bushies have left for invading Iraq is that Saddam was concealing evidence from weapons inspectors. Well, those same Bushies have been concealing evidence about 9/11 since, well, 9/11 (or earlier?). They already knew that they were going to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, so what difference did it make who actually did 9/11? (Especially if it made them, the Bushies, look bad, which it most assuredly would.)
Shorter Washington Post
Lying may have consequences.

Unfortunately, only the people of the well-informed world, that is, the non-US, seem to think that blatantly lying repeatedly damages one's credibility.
Smoking Gun
The Bushies and Blairoids have done so many sleazy, crass, underhanded, deceitful, illegal and unconstitutional things in the past two years that it is hard to keep track of them all. One of these was spying on the UN delegations of several countries last winter in an attempt to get them to vote for a Security Council resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq. (Yes, some of us actually thought that might matter to these criminals, but that's another story.) Like the vast majority of the criminal activity of the Bush administration, this particular crime would probably have gone undetected if not for the heroism of one British woman--Katharine Gun. She released documents related to this illegal spying to a London newspaper. Of course it was the Bush administration who was committing the crimes, and it is Katharine Gun who will be punished.

More from Bob Herbert and Michelle.
Sunday, January 18, 2004
Giant Sucking Sound
Turning down a $182.6 million bribe, Electrolux Corporation announced that it will close its Greenville, Michigan plant next year, moving the 2700 west Michigan jobs to Mexico.

The company estimates wages in Mexico are 10 times less expensive than the $13 to $15 an hour plus benefits it pays its Greenville workers.

The Free Press found some MIT economist to spout the usual cheap-labor-conservative line:

MIT economist Michael Greenstone said traditional manufacturing job skills won't be able to support a family in the future.

"The employment growth and the wage growth is not going to be there," Greenstone said. "If you step back from it, this particular plant reflects what are very broad forces that are difficult to reverse unless people are willing to work for wages that won't support their families. No one is willing to do that."

There are ways to reverse those "broad forces." Boycotts. Tariffs. Tearing up destructive "free trade" agreements like NAFTA and the WTO, and not signing any new ones. Make the economy local, diverse, and broad. The wealthy of the world have taken advantage of instant communication, (artificially and temporarily) cheap transit costs, and abundant corrupt politicians to put all of the world's people into a bitter and unnecessary competition with each other. It has cost them their economic independence.

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