Bob's Links and Rants

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Sunday, February 29, 2004

The free press is back!!!
The question of the millenium, so far, was asked of White House press secretary Scott McLellan on Friday:

In every speech he gives, President Bush invokes the atrocities of 9/11 and he talks about how that event has impressed on him a determination to always honor the victims of those atrocities in his daily conduct of his office. And I wonder if you could explain with some serious Texan straight talk here, Scott, how it is honoring the victims of 9/11 to restrict the questioning of the President on this subject to one hour? (via Josh Marshall)
British Generals Almost Refused to Attack Iraq
Britain's Army chiefs refused to go to war in Iraq amid fears over its legality just days before the British and American bombing campaign was launched, The Observer can today reveal.
The explosive new details about military doubts over the legality of the invasion are detailed in unpublished legal documents in the case of Katharine Gun, the intelligence officer dramatically freed last week after Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, dropped charges against her of breaking the Official Secrets Act.

The disclosure came as it also emerged that Goldsmith was forced hastily to redraft his legal advice to Tony Blair to give an 'unequivocal' assurance to the armed forces that the conflict would not be illegal.

Refusing to commit troops already stationed in Kuwait, senior military leaders were adamant that war could not begin until they were satisfied that neither they nor their men could be tried. Some 10 days later, Britain and America began the campaign.

Thanks to Eli at Left I for finding that article from the Observer. Eli also found this from the Scotland Sunday Herald:

The [UK] attorney general initially told Tony Blair that an invasion of Iraq would be illegal without a new resolution from the United Nations and only overturned his advice when Washington ordered Downing Street to find legal advice which would justify the war.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of Brits weren't real happy about Blair teaming up with the idiot cowboy from the colonies; I'm quite sure they won't be pleased that he's been taking orders. Let's hope this brings Bush's poodle crashing down!
Another Regime Change for Bush
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide stepped down Sunday at dawn, resigning under intense pressure from the United States, according to Haitian and American officials.

Mr. Aristide was Haiti's first democratically elected president in the island’s 200 years of independence. But his presidency crumbled as armed rebels seized Haiti’s north this month and Washington adopted their position of “Aristide must go” this weekend.

Bloody protests in Haiti, and the Bushies insist that the democratically-elected government step down. Bloody protests in Iraq, and the Bushies insist that the illegal invading occupiers will not be intimidated into leaving. Can you say "bloody hypocrites?" I knew that you could!

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Required Reading
Cyndy found a two-part article from the Long Island press about the 9/11 commission, and about what some other people have been finding out about 9/11. The first part of the article is good, highlighting many of the flaws in the commission and the stonewalling it has gotten from the Bushies. But the second part is dynamite! Here's a sample:

Last March, on the first day of the 9/11 Commission hearings, commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste opened his remarks with sharp criticism of the current White House and the delays in processing the commissioners' security clearances. Ben-Veniste, who first came to prominence as a Watergate special prosecutor from 1973 to 1975, was counsel for the Democratic minority on the Senate Whitewater committee. Today he is a major attorney with a top firm in D.C.

But what makes Ben-Veniste such an intriguing player on the 9/11 Commission (The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States) is his experience with rogue drug-running CIA operatives. Ben-Veniste defended Barry Seal, the notorious smuggler who flew C-123 military cargo planes filled with cocaine into Mena, Arkansas on behalf of the contras.

Al Qaeda's lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohamed Atta, was allegedly partying with CIA-connected pilots while he got his flight training in fall/winter 2000 at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Fla., where two of the other 9/11 hijacker pilots trained. Atta wasn't acting much like a holy martyr: He wore jeans and sneakers, played video games, bought himself a red Pontiac and was said to be a hedonist. The Press posed the question to Ben-Veniste: If Atta belonged to the fundamentalist Muslim group, why was he snorting cocaine and frequenting strip bars?

"You know," said Ben-Veniste, as he smiled a little. "That's a heck of a question."

Kevin Phillips' book American Dynasty focuses a lot on the long-time connection between the Bush family and the CIA (and also between Skull and Bones and the CIA). The Long Island Press article hints at the possibility that Mohammed Atta and some of the other alleged 9/11 hijacker/pilots were involved with running heroin from Afghanistan to the U.S., possibly under CIA auspices. No frigging wonder the Bushies have tried to block the investigation, or that Tenet still has a job!
Washington Post Rips Bush's Tax-cut Rhetoric

Mr. Bush isn't one to let the facts get in the way of a good political argument. In fact, neither of his chief Democratic opponents wants to "take away" the tax cuts. Sens. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and John Edwards (N.C.) would both keep in place the parts of the Bush tax cuts that the president most likes to tout: the $1,000 child tax credit, marriage penalty relief, the new 10 percent tax bracket. Rather, they would undo the parts of the Bush tax cut that go to taxpayers earning more than $200,000. This group amounts to the wealthiest 2 percent, but it stands to reap 28 percent of the benefit of the tax cut this year.

When Mr. Bush trots out citizen-props to champion making the tax cuts permanent, his examples don't feature those upper-bracket types. It's hard to imagine Mr. Bush featuring a $1 million-a-year investment banker who would save close to $40,000 in taxes and talking about how the tax cuts "make it easier for families to raise their children and to realize their dreams." But it's those taxpayers who epitomize the chief difference between Mr. Bush and his Democratic rivals.
-- Washington Post (read the whole article; it's all good!)

From Ted Rall.
What about a "none of the above" vote?
If "none of the above" beats both major party candidates, they both have to go back and pick better nominees. I keep having thoughts like these whenever I read Kerry quotes like this one:

"I don't fault George Bush for doing too much on the war on terror," Kerry told an audience at the University of California at Los Angeles. "I believe he's done too little. Where's he's acted, his doctrine of unilateral pre-emption has driven away our allies and cost us the support and critical cooperation of other nations. Iraq is in disarray with American troops still bogged down with no exit in sight." --CNN

This guy is supposed to give us hope for the future? That's exactly what I've been saying to everyone: you know, we need MORE of this ridiculous, corrupt, illegal and immoral war on terror! Is this John Kerry any relation to the John Kerry who protested against the Vietnam war?

I have no doubt that Kerry would be better than Bush, but I'm not sure he'd be better than nothing. I'm sorry, but I'm absolutely furious that it doesn't appear that the Democrats are going to nominate an antiwar candidate. Chances are pretty high that things will get much worse in Iraq later this year, and Dean or Kucinich could rip Bush to shreds with it. Kerry will only be able to make excuses for his vote.

I'm keeping my vote in my pocket until the last minute on this one. If Kerry wants it, he'd better start working to earn it.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Two senators push for 9/11 Commission Extension
No, it's not Kerry and Edwards. It's John McCain and Joe Lieberman, who plan to attach the commission extension to a highway funding bill, making it difficult for Bush/DeLay puppet Speaker of the House Hastert to block it like he said he would do.

[Update] Hastert backs down; Commission apparently will get the two-month extension.
Deal Reached in California Grocery Strike
Negotiators reached a deal Thursday night that could end the California supermarket strike and lockout, a bitter fight that highlighted the national debate over how much companies should pay for workers' healthcare coverage.

After 16 straight days of bargaining, the deal was struck in a conference room at a hotel in Orange County. Neither side would provide details.

People close to the talks said the supermarkets scored victories in their bid to cut labor costs and curtail spending on health benefits ? in large part through a two-tier system under which new hires would earn less per hour and receive skimpier health benefits than veterans ? but the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said the proposed contract "preserves affordable healthcare" and job security for its members.
-- LA Times
Haiti in ten minutes
MADRE has prepared a useful fact sheet about what's happening in Haiti.

Of course, the Bushies are way deep in this:

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell distanced himself Thursday from Haiti's president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, saying the embattled leader needs to make a "careful examination" of whether he should step down.

No Colin, he doesn't. Aristide was democratically elected. Your boss, who wasn't, needs to make a "careful examination" of whether he should step down--and then step down. And you too, you humongous hypocrite!
Bike to Work Day!!!
For me, anyway! Most of the snow and ice is gone, the sun is out, the temperature is around 30...So I pumped up the tires and rode the old bike into work for the first time in a couple of months. I usually ride the bus in the winter, but the bike is a nice change of pace.

From Don Wright.
Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

From Mike Keefe.

Before I got diverted onto the Nader tangent by the ridiculous attacks on Ralph, I was suggesting that the pursuit of Bush's AWOL-ness had gone far enough. There wasn't anything criminal there, the National Guard didn't seem to care where he was, and tracking down a few more majors and colonels who don't recall ever seeing Bush doesn't really get us any closer to getting rid of him. Besides, I think the point has been made. That point, that Bush wasn't exactly gung ho to serve in the military, is best used by being recalled whenever Bush suggests sending more troops somewhere. This cartoon is an excellent example!

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Two more soldiers killed in Iraq
Two more counts on Bush's indictment.
Senator Graham on Haiti
I'm not sure I agree with his recommendations, but Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) is at least paying attention to Haiti. He opens his op-ed in today's Washington Post as follows:

The nation of Haiti now faces the collapse or violent overthrow of its democratically elected government, and with no clear governmental structure to take its place. This situation, combined with a looming humanitarian catastrophe, demands the attention of the United States.

He goes on to point out the seriousness of the situation, and the worthlessness of the Bushies:

Despite these developments, there has been little or no contact between federal agencies and state and local authorities to prepare for the potential influx of refugees. The principal agencies of the federal government have limited capacity to handle an immigration crisis. And it does not help that the Bush administration is approaching the problem in Haiti as a political crisis. Until the paltry and late-starting diplomatic efforts run their course, the administration maintains there is no basis for dealing with the humanitarian crisis.

Watching the early presidential debates last year, Graham was frequently my second favorite after Kucinich. He voted against the war in Iraq, giving him a few-zillion point lead over Kerry and Edwards in my opinion. He also knows where a lot of the Republican bodies are buried, since he was on the congressional committee which investigated 9/11. He would be a far better candidate than Kerry, IMHO. He has been elected both governor and senator from Florida, a state which people might remember played a rather significant role in the election in 2000. If Kerry gets the nomination, Graham would be an excellent vice president (let Edwards be attorney general).
One more pro-Nader screed
From the World Socialist Web Site:

Democratic officials plan to do more than simply denounce Nader. Whatever their pro-forma statements acknowledging Nader's democratic right to run, they intend, according to the New York Times (February 23), to mount a bucket of court challenges to keep him off state ballots.

Why are these forces so incensed?

In the eyes of the US ruling elite, Nader's intervention threatens to raise disturbing questions that it had hoped to suppress with the quashing of Howard Dean's bid for the Democratic nomination--first and foremost, the war in Iraq. Nader is calling for the rapid withdrawal of US troops and their replacement by UN forces, and has accused Bush of impeachable offenses in connection with his lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Iraq-Al Qaeda connections.

With the Democratic race narrowed down to two candidates, John Kerry and John Edwards, both of whom voted to give Bush authorization to invade Iraq, the political and corporate establishment, Democratic as well as Republican, are looking to engineer an election in which the massive popular opposition to the war will be all but ignored, and potentially explosive issues such as corporate corruption and the widening gap between the financial elite and the working masses will be pushed to the side. Thus the Wall Street Journal, in an editorial gloating over the Democrats' dismay at Nader's intervention, declared: "We agree with the Democrats on at least one point"--namely, that Nader should be excluded from the presidential debates.

For the Democratic Party establishment, the prospect of a Nader campaign, even if limited in terms of ballot status, cuts across a campaign strategy aimed at preempting any serious mobilization of popular outrage against Bush's foreign and domestic policies. The party leadership wants, once the nomination has been locked up, to shift the campaign further to the right. It would like to gain the presidency by winning the imprimatur of the ruling elite, and avoid needlessly raising expectations as to what a Democratic administration would do once in power.

My expectations right now are mighty low. I expect that a Kerry administration would be preferable to the Bushies in the following ways:
  • Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement on the Supreme Court would be a slightly more liberal pro-corporate judge
  • The EPA might actually go back to protecting the environment, at least when it wasn't stepping on too many corporate toes
  • The next couple of wars will be better managed
  • We'll have a different attorney general
  • The rate of loss of jobs overseas will decline imperceptibly.

Does the threat of four more years of Bush scare us so much we dare not ask for more? Aren't we better off to raise the issues that Nader raises, and make it clearer to everyone how truly corrupt Bush is in every way? There will be a lot more hope for all of us if it is clear that Kerry or whoever beat Bush because of significant differences. We need not only to beat Bush, but to thoroughly discredit him and those in Congress who supported him.
Global Warming, or to Ralph or not to Ralph?
The Pentagon's gloomy global-warming scenario finally made it to the NY Times today; the Times article reinforces what I've read on a couple of other blogs but forgot to report here--the report is more the examination of a worst-case scenario than a prediction. Also, consider the source! Someone on our local peace e-mail list was wondering why Ralph Nader was getting so much attention on the list while this report wasn't; here is my reply:

As the NY Times article mentions, the Pentagon report was a scenario, not necessarily a prediction. For better or worse (probably some of both), the Pentagon plans for a wide variety of possible scenarios, some more likely than others. What if the Saudi oil fields are crippled by "terrorists?" What if China invades Russia, or vice versa? What if things heat up again between India and Pakistan? And so on. I've read on several blogs which I consider both highly liberal and highly reputable that this global warming report was one of these scenarios. It wasn't necessarily predicting that Britain would turn into Siberia by 2020; it was guessing at what might follow if this worst-case global-warming scenario happens. It's of some significance in that by preparing it at all the Pentagon is admitting the possibility of global warming, but it isn't correct to read it as the Pentagon predicting the scenario. Besides, since when did we start believing the Pentagon?

That said, I believe that global warming is a critical issue that needs to be seriously addressed, and now. I think that Kucinich and Nader address the problem as a critical issue; Kerry has a good voting record, but I haven't seen the environment as a key element of his platform (Anybody know what the key elements of his platform ARE?). Here's some choice Kerry-speak from his web site:

John Kerry has the vision to create a new Manhattan Project to make America independent of Middle East oil in 10 years by creating alternative fuels like ethanol and making cars more efficient. We?ll create half a million new jobs here at home at the same time - and we?ll never have to send our sons and daughters to war for Mideast oil.

Okay, upfront I'll admit that we could probably find two sentences from any candidate's web site to rip to shreds; we could probably even find two sentences from Bush's web site to make him sound palatable. But still, look at what Kerry says.

First, why a "Manhattan Project?" Why couldn't he just endorse the Apollo Alliance, which has somewhat the same goals, and named itself after a big program that was at least somewhat more peaceful? Second, ethanol is a crock, just a ploy to get electoral votes from those states that have more senators than voters. Using modern American farming methods, it takes more energy to produce ethanol than it contains. Making cars more efficient has a very limited potential, especially if people continue to drive more and more. Addressing sprawl, zoning, poor public transportation, and the other factors that contribute to more miles being driven is at least as important as fuel economy.

And then "We'll never have to send or sons and daughters to war for Mideast oil." What a complete utter totally contemptible admission coming from someone who voted for the war. He is admitting that he sent soldiers to Iraq to fight for oil, rather than let the price of oil rise and thereby solve many of our environmental and social problems. (Americans who died in terror attacks in the past decade--about 3200; Americans who died in auto accidents in the past decade--about 400,000.)

As far as I'm concerned, Nader is running because the leading Democrats are unwilling to take stands any stronger than Kerry's two sentences above. If Kerry doesn't, the Pentagon's worst-case scenario becomes more likely, no matter who wins in November. If we want to avoid global warming, we need a president who will take it seriously. George Bush obviously won't, Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader obviously would. John Kerry seems to be trying to find out which way the political wind is blowing, and we need to let him know that the planet has a sizeable constituency, even in this country. Awarding him our votes without a fight isn't the way to do it. Maybe I'll determine that I owe it to my country to vote for Kerry in November; I certainly also owe it to my country to make him sweat for it!

Which Skull & Bones guy do you prefer?

The new papers of reincorporation that erased the century-old Russell Trust Association were filed at 10:15 A.M. on April 14, 1961. Two hours later, at noon on that day, the orders went out to begin the Bay of Pigs operations--the covert CIA-financed invasion of Castro's Cuba, a bloody fiasco that still haunts us four decades later. Coincidence? Probably. But then it's also true that one of the CIA's masterminds for the Bay of Pigs operation was a man named Richard Drain, Skull and Bones '43. And the White House planner of the Bay of Pigs operation was McGeorge Bundy, Skull and Bones '40. And the State Department liason for the Bay of Pigs Operation was his brother William P. Bundy, Skull and Bones '39. And the man who filed the reincorporation papers that erased the Russell Trust Association on the day of the Bay of Pigs was Howard Weaver, Skull and Bones '45W (George [H. W.] Bush's class), who retired from the CIA in 1959. All of which might lead one to suspect that the Skull and Bones corporate shell had been used as a clandestine conduit for the Bay of Pigs, and then erased from existence to cover up the connection as the invasion got under way. -- Ron Rosenbaum in the New York Observer, July 17, 2000, cited by Kevin Phillips in his book American Dynasty, page 206.

Phillips continues:

Yes, it must be a coincidence; it has to be a coincidence.

It is fair to say that by December 1975, when White House chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld was working to derail George H. W. Bush's presidential ambitions by slotting him as CIA director, three generations of the Bush and Walker families already had some six decades of intelligence-related activity and experience under their belts. However, there is still one more connection to mention: the Pemex-Pennzoil-CIA money line coincidentally or otherwise exposed in 1972 after funds it provided through Mexican banks were found in the hands of the Watergate burglars. Of those men, a solid majority--Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, Eugenio Martinez, Virgilio Gonzalez, and Bernard Barker--had been involved in the abortive Bay of Pigs episode.

So Skull and Bones folks were linked to most of the leading American scandals of the past half-century: the Bay of Pigs, Watergate, the October surprise, Iran-Contra, the invasion of Panama, both illegal wars against Iraq, and probably many more. And the Democrats seem perfectly satisfied to offer up yet another member of this secret society as their nominee. Shouldn't we be looking elsewhere for our presidents?
Haiti Crimes
The Bushies are supporting the overthrow of Aristide's democratically-elected government (jealousy?), and are denying refuge to Haitians fleeing the violence this has caused.

The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted two boats carrying 140 Haitian refugees Wednesday and was eyeing several other boats suspected to be carrying 250 more people.

The incidents took place just hours after President Bush warned Haitians not to try to escape the political turmoil and violence in their country by sailing to the United States.

Bush said any Haitians doing so would be turned back.

Compassionate conservatism.

I'm kind of hoping that voodoo works right now, because I'm guessing that there are more than a few Flyboy George action-figure dolls looking like porcupines about now. (My apologies--I know little about Haiti, less about voodoo, and even less than that about the connection between the two. Far be it for a resident of a country which includes Texas to accuse any other country of being primitive or religiously backward. I just like the mental image of people sticking needles into Bush dolls.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Repugs--you can't trust 'em
Hastert to block 9/11 commission extension. I wondered why the White House had suddenly been so agreeable a couple of weeks ago about extending the deadline by two months. They already had one of their hatchet men in place.
Kerry goes out on a limb
Companies will no longer be able to surprise their workers with a pink slip instead of a paycheck -- they will be required to give workers three months notice if their jobs are being exported offshore. -- Senator John Kerry.

Oooh! Companies will be shaking in their boots at that one, John! If next January Dennis Kucinich were inaugurated as president, U.S. participation in NAFTA and the WTO would be history, protecting and maybe restoring millions of jobs. If/when Kerry gets inaugurated, workers all over the country will get their three-months notice. I mean, why wouldn't companies do that? They could always stay put after eeking lots of concessions and unpaid overtime out of their desperate employees. THAT will get you off to a great start with your agenda, Mr. Kerry. Oh, sorry, I forgot. You don't have one. You're not George Bush. That's enough. At least that's what I'm told.

This reminds me of Senator Debbie Stabenow's pathetic "A Month for America" plan, which I wrote about back in November. While Stabenow fully supported the $67 billion to keep our troops in harm's way for no apparent reason in Iraq, she objected to spending $20 billion to rebuild that country which we have destroyed--repeatedly. Since the occupation is costing approximately $5 billion a month, she had offered an amendment called "A Month for America," $5 billion for spending "to improve our roads and bridges, build new schools, and provide quality health care to our veterans and working families who do not have health insurance." Her amendment was defeated, as I'm sure she knew it would be. Just a pathetic something to offer to constituents who wonder why she'd support spending $87 billion to continue an illegal war that she had opposed the year before.

Both "A Month for America" and the "Three-Month Warning" are such miserably pathetic offerings that Stabenow and Kerry would be better off saying absolutely nothing on the respective subjects. You see Sonny blown away by hundreds of machine-gun bullets in the Godfather, and you offer him a band-aid. Like that.
Florida is still a slave state
Report: Slavery Alive and Well in Florida
Modern-day slavery is alive and well in Florida, the head of a human rights center said Tuesday as it released a report on people forced to work as prostitutes, farmworkers and maids across the state.

Human traffickers bring thousands of people into the United States each year and Florida is believed to be one of the top three destinations, along with New York and Texas, according to the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University.
"All you have to do is look where cheap labor is required and where there is a potential for labor exploitation, which pretty much can put you anywhere in our state," Thompson said.
Following the Nader-haters argument to its logical conclusion
Democrats Nominate Hitler, by Ran Prieur

BOSTON. After switching their allegiance from anarcho-communist Howard Dean to ultra-liberal John Kerry, and then to liberal John Edwards, on the final day of their convention Democrats switched one last time to extreme moderate Adolf Hitler, convinced that he's the man who has the best chance of beating Bush.

"This election has never been about issues," said Democratic Party spokesman Heinrich Himmler. "It's not about whether we go to war, about military spending, or taxes, or the federal budget, or the environment, or civil liberties, or even abortion. That's the kind of starry-eyed idealism that killed us in '72. This election is about one thing -- getting that bastard Bush out of there, that lying, draft-dodging, coke-snorting, beady-eyed, stupid, bad, bad person. Hate him! Hate him! Hate him!"

Stop Fearmaster Dick's Energy Bill of Evil!
From MoveOn:
The Bush-Cheney energy bill is back, and it could come up for a vote at any moment. Republicans have signaled that they'll give as little as 24 hours' notice. We've got to get out ahead of it.

Please call your Senators now! They can be reached toll-free at the capitol switchboard: 800-839-5276. MoveOn asks that you request that they filibuster the bill.
Online Poll
CNNMoney asks: What would be the best way to deal with the swelling federal budget deficit?

(BTW, I suggest option 1, "Allow some recent tax cuts to expire.")

Greenspan was telling Congress today that cutting Social Security benefits was the solution to Bush deficits. Hopefully voters will start to make the connection that those FICA dollars on their pay stubs may end up going to fund Bush's endless wars instead of their retirements, and decide that it's time for Bush to retire instead.
Kucinich comes in second in Hawaii
It was Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio who came in second in Hawaii's caucuses, with 30 percent of the vote, with nearly all precincts reporting. Kerry secured 46 percent, Edwards, who is campaigning in California on Wednesday, came in third with 13 percent, while 9 percent went to former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who suspended his campaign last week. -- CNN

OF COURSE, you've seen that second-place showing plastered all over the news, just like Edwards' in Wisconsin, haven't you? Cyndy is justifiably pissed about the media slant.
Tenet must have TONS of dirt on Bush!
If his still having his job after being offered as a scapegoat by every Bush apologist on the planet isn't enough evidence of that, how about Tenet going before the Senate and telling them that Bush is all wet when he claims that the world is safer with Saddam gone:

George J. Tenet, director of central intelligence, said Tuesday that the world was at least as "fraught with dangers for American interests" as it was a year ago, despite the toppling of Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq and successes in dismantling the leadership of Al Qaeda.

Most worrying, Mr. Tenet said, the radical anti-American sentiments and destructive expertise used by Al Qaeda have spread to other Sunni Muslim extremists who are behind a "next wave" of terrorism that will endure "for the foreseeable future with or without Al Qaeda in the picture."

"People who say that this is exaggerated don't look at the same world that I look at," Mr. Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee as he presented a stark annual report on the threats that face the United States around the world. The broader terrorist threat, he said, "is not going away any time soon."

In his State of the Union address last month, President Bush described the world as having become "a better and safer place," since American forces overthrew Mr. Hussein last year.
-- NY Times

Rare kudos to the Times for including that last paragraph actually pointing out one of the many bogus claims that Bush has made.

I wonder what dirt Tenet has on Bush. Maybe when he wasn't with the National Guard he was in Massachusetts running an abortion clinic, engaging in homosexual acts, and volunteering for the McGovern campaign? I mean, his core supporters obviously don't really care about his military record or lack thereof, but, ohmygod! Massachusetts? Say it ain't so, George!
#@!$% Democrats!
I was all prepared to ignore Nader this year, and hold my nose and vote for Kerry (or slightly preferable, IMHO, Edwards). But these ridiculous attacks on Nader only make me think (even) less of the Democrats. The two-party system is what gave us Bush and the rubber-stamp Congress which approved the wars and the Patriot Act, and it has to go.

I'm anti-Bush, but I'm even more anti-war. If enough people would reject the two-party stranglehold, Bush and Kerry would split the pro-war vote, and Nader would win in a landslide! (Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?) But given the (awful) reality of the situation, I WANT the smug, character-assassin Democrats to worry about how I'm going to vote. I want them to try to earn my vote. I'm still befuddled that Kerry somehow has come out ahead; Kucinich had the best positions on everything (and probably would have kept Nader out of the race), Dean and Sharpton had the best rhetoric, and Edwards had the best style. In all my months campaigning for Kucinich, I ran into a lot of Dean and Clark supporters, and of course lots of Bush supporters. But except for the one guy at the farmers' market, I almost never met any Kerry supporters. (I know, look at the vote totals, but still, why? And who?) Kerry's vote for the Iraq war was a complete sellout--I just don't see why anyone who opposes war should be supporting him, at least until he fully repudiates that vote by taking a strong anti-war position. Being better than Bush is a VERY low bar, and shame on the Democrats for not pushing it higher. The war in Iraq was brought to you by the Republicans AND the Democrats, and John Kerry was a part of it.

So, the first thing Democrats can do if they really want Bush to lose is to stop attacking the candidate with the best positions. The next thing they can do is to adopt some of those positions. I don't think Ralph is wrong to run, and he sure is right on just about everything else!

It's amazing that the media machine, in addition to the Democrats, is playing Nader's announcement up so much. I just did my review of Slate's political cartoon page (where I find most of the cartoons that I post here), and there are many about Nader's announcement. There seem to be three types: Those that just simply insult Nader, those that show Democrats horrified by his announcement, and those that show dancing Republicans. Only this one,

from David Horsey, and this one,

from Kirk Anderson, begin to actually address and respect the issues that Nader raises. Nader is right--the two-party system sucks, big time, and BOTH parties are run by the corporations. Democrats should be addressing those issues, not attacking Ralph for raising them. And in response to the second cartoon above, Nader did express support for Kucinich last year, saying that he would be less likely to run if the Dems chose Dennis. Only when it became certain that that wasn't going to happen did Nader decide to run.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Still behind the curve on Haiti
But what's happening there ain't good, and our dear Bushies are up to their earlobes in it. The Black Commentator has lots more.
A great article on the insanity of SUV's.

Most of us think that S.U.V.s are much safer than sports cars. If you asked the young parents of America whether they would rather strap their infant child in the back seat of the TrailBlazer or the passenger seat of the Boxster, they would choose the TrailBlazer. We feel that way because in the TrailBlazer our chances of surviving a collision with a hypothetical tractor-trailer in the other lane are greater than they are in the Porsche. What we forget, though, is that in the TrailBlazer you're also much more likely to hit the tractor-trailer because you can't get out of the way in time. In the parlance of the automobile world, the TrailBlazer is better at "passive safety." The Boxster is better when it comes to "active safety," which is every bit as important.
Jettas are safe because they make their drivers feel unsafe. S.U.V.s are unsafe because they make their drivers feel safe. That feeling of safety isn't the solution; it's the problem.

Pardon my French. Xymphora has a rundown of the ongoing crime that is our VICE president.
Who violated UN Resolution 1441?

The Security Council...Requests all Member States to give full support to UNMOVIC and the IAEA in the discharge of their mandates, including by providing any information related to prohibited programmes or other aspects of their mandates, including on Iraqi attempts since 1998 to acquire prohibited items, and by recommending sites to be inspected, persons to be interviewed, conditions of such interviews, and data to be collected, the results of which shall be reported to the Council by UNMOVIC and the IAEA; (from UN Security Council Resolution 1441)

Well, thanks to the senior senator from Michigan, we now know of one member of the coalition of the bloodthirsty who was in clear violation of 1441:

The Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged that it did not provide the United Nations with information about 21 of the 105 sites in Iraq singled out by American intelligence before the war as the most highly suspected of housing illicit weapons.

The acknowledgment, in a Jan. 20 letter to Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, contradicts public statements before the war by top Bush administration officials.

Both George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said the United States had briefed United Nations inspectors on all of the sites identified as "high value and moderate value" in the weapons hunt.
-- NY Times

Go Carl! Heads should definitely roll on this one, especially that of that most incompetent of National Security Advisors:

Senior administration officials said Friday night that Ms. Rice had relied on information provided by intelligence agencies when she assured Senator Levin, in a letter on March 6, 2003, that "United Nations inspectors have been briefed on every high or medium priority weapons of mass destruction, missile and U.A.V.-related site the U.S. intelligence community has identified."

Whether Rice, Tenet, or Ralph Nader is to blame, this clearly constitutes a "high crime." According to the Constitution,

...all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land... (Article 6, clause 2)

The U.S. is a charter member of the UN, and the UN charter can clearly be seen as a treaty. By violating Resolution 1441, a resolution sponsored by the U.S., the Bush administration has violated the "supreme Law of the Land." Rice and Tenet should both go, as should el mentiroso en la casa blanca (the liar in the White House).
The parable of the hitchhiker
I'm hitchhiking, and I get picked up by a car with some college kids in it. Within the first mile, I realize the driver is drunk. Not only that, he doesn't know it, and he's running other cars off the road and has hit a few pedestrians. I'm in the back seat with this nerdy guy, who tells me that the big-haired guy in the front passenger seat wants to drive, but he won't force the issue because he's in the same frat as the driver. In fact, the nerd (who is VERY sober) tells me that big hair actually let the driver have the keys even after he knew he was drunk! While big hair is clearly not as drunk as the driver, I have my doubts about his judgment; he's not doing anything to stop the drunk from running over the pedestrians! I'm seriously questioning how long we have until we all get killed in a wreck.

Since I've never driven a car like this, I ask nerd-boy if he will take over driving. He says he'd love to, but the frat boys won't let anyone not in the frat drive one of their cars. I say, c'mon, that's ridiculous! I can tell right now that you'd be a far better driver than either of those guys! So I ask the driver, "Hey driver! Why don't you let nerd-boy back here drive!" Big hair turns around and says "There's no way we're ever letting nerd-boy drive. You've got to be in the club. If you keep asking, I'll never be able to get my friend out from behind the wheel, and we'll all die. So tell nerd-boy to shut up!"

In the end, I'll probably try to get big hair behind the wheel, because anything is better than the drunk. But I'd feel a lot better with nerd-boy, and if nerd-boy's nagging improves big hair's driving, we'll all be better off! In the meantime, I tell nerd-boy that I sure am glad that the car has seatbelts, and he says, "You're welcome!"

Monday, February 23, 2004

All Out War
That's what the Asia Times is calling the latest U.S.-led operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Your call to tech support
Will be ignored in the order that it was received. Ever imagine what things are like at computer tech support? They're worse; much worse.
Steve Rosenthal wrote in December 2000:
Well, if Nader hadn't been in the race, Gore probably would have picked up enough of Nader's 2.7 million votes to beat Bush.

And, if some six million registered Democrats hadn't voted for Bush, Gore would have won.

And, if Gore had inspired a few of the 50 million eligible voters who did not vote, Gore would have won.

And, if Gore and his "new" Democrat friends hadn't supported the war on drugs, the prison construction boom, and the disenfranchisement of over four million citizens, disproportionately black and poor, at least enough of them would have voted Democratic to put Gore in the White House.

And, if Democrats hadn't joined Republicans in refusing to spend money to update election machines in poorer counties, fewer ballots would have been thrown out, and Gore would have won.

And, if Democrats hadn't traditionally agreed with Republicans that immigrants, documented and undocumented, are not eligible to vote, Gore would surely have gained enough Latino and Asian votes to win the election.

And, if Democrats hadn't joined with Republicans in preventing U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico from being eligible to vote for president, Gore no doubt would have picked up enough votes to win.

And, if Democrats had refused to confirm Clarence Thomas or one of the other racist pro-Bush majority on the Supremely Racist Court, maybe the court would not have helped Bush steal the election.

And Rosenthal doesn't even mention that if Gore had fought to claim the election he won, he would have won. But why fight, when you can blame it all on Ralph?

Mike Lukovich, via BartCop.
You're so vain...
You probably think the election's about you, don't you?

It's his personal vanity, because he has no movement, nobody's backing him. The Greens aren't backing him. His friends urge him not to do it. It's all about himself. -- New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson

Let me tell you something, Bill. The last time we had a president who wasn't vain was, well, we've never had one. And if you're not vain, thinking that you're at least comparable to sliced bread if not decidedly superior, you won't even think ONCE about running for president. Unless you've got a plus-size ego to feed, it just isn't worth it. If you eliminate all of the vain candidates, you'd have to start completely over; not really a bad idea, but...

On February 6, the night before the Michigan caucus, a group of us drove into Detroit to see Dennis Kucinich. He arrived about twenty minutes late. His plane out of Spokane, Washington had been fogged in, and his travel plans had been completely screwed up. He arrived in Kalamazoo forty minutes late for his 12:30 pm rally, the first of six scheduled in Michigan that day encompassing the entire width of the state. Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Greenville, Flint, Pontiac, and finally Detroit. Press, crowds of supporters, long car rides, little time to eat or rest after his all-night travel odyssey. But he showed up in Detroit and the crowd gave him a rousing ovation. He lit up, and went into an interesting and animated variation on his usual stump speech.

Of course I believe that Kucinich is sincere in his desire to improve the world. But he is vain. Even if he doesn't comb his hair enough, he is vain. He has to be to put up with a schedule like that, especially when the polls and lots of people who should be supporting him are telling him he doesn't have a chance. You could see him light up when the crowd greeted him, and you could tell that that was what made it all worth it. If you don't have a hungry ego demanding to be fed, there's no way that you'll put up with that type of schedule. While I'm sure he's vain to some fairly large degree, I suspect that Wesley Clark's fairly weak run and quick withdrawal may have been because he wasn't vain enough.

So calling Nader vain doesn't distinguish him from any other presidential candidate, past or present. Heck, John Kerry is married to half a billion dollars, and doesn't seem to have any clear agenda for changing the world, at least none that he can articulate clearly. Why would he go through all this nonsense if he didn't have an enormous ego? He could summer on Martha's Vineyard and winter in the Caribbean forever with the money he's got.

Calling Ralph names won't cut it. Democrats need to deal with Ralph by dealing with him; talk to him, and incorporate some of his platform into theirs. Then they and their vain candidate will become truly worthy of my support.
Go for it, Ahmad!
As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants. -- Embezzler Liar Ahmad Chalabi, Cheney's favorite "Iraqi."

Geez. A proud liar. And this is what he calls "entirely successful?" No wonder Bush and Cheney like this guy so much; he's a dirty rotten filthy worthless stinking putrid scumbag worm-swine, just like them.

See Billmon's post for more.

[Update] From Josh Marshall:
We funded Chalabi's pre-war intelligence operation in Iraq -- thus placing ourselves in the pathbreaking position of bankrolling a disinformation campaign against ourselves. (Much of his other money came from Iran. But we can get into that later.) And amazingly, we're still funding it.

According to this KnightRidder article from late last week the Pentagon has set aside between $3 and $4 million to fund Chalabi's Information Collection Program through 2004. So we want to keep buying Chalabi's prized intel for at least the next ten months?

Or as Fleetwood Mac put it: "Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies..."

From Bruce Plante.

From Clay Bennett.

From Mike Keefe.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

And so it goes
Renato Redentor Constantino recalls the sordid history of America's excuses for war, in particular, the Philippines.

For an empire perennially weighed down by the necessity of justifying aggression, triggers for war are providentially everywhere, to be pulled expediently whether real or not. In the spring of 2003, it was weapons of mass destruction in Never-Never Land or al-Qaeda connections. In 1964 in Vietnam, it was an attack by North Vietnamese gunboats. In 1899, it was "savages attacking our boys." Anything will do.

Harry Truman used to say that the only new thing in the world is the history you don't know. And Harry was one of my favorites, despite the atom bombs, until I read this from Kevin Phillips' book on the Bush dynasty:

By way of backdrop, Missouri senator Harry Truman had argued in 1941 [before Pearl Harbor] that as between the warring Russians and Germans, "if we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and in that way, let them kill as many as possible."

Henry Kissinger expressed a similar sentiment about the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's. In that war the U.S. did, in fact, support both sides.
A cheery thought for a Sunday

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.
-- This according to the Pentagon, according to the Observer, according to the Guardian.

You crap all over your own spaceship long enough and it's bound to come back and bite you. This Pentagon report is apparently so secret they didn't bother to tell El Presidente.
Nader is running again
I'm not going to support him, but I'm sure not going to oppose him. The Democrats need to come up with something besides Ralph bashing this time around; LISTENING to him wouldn't hurt. Support instant runoff voting, support serious campaign finance reform, take a prinicpled stand against U.S. militarism. But Nader and Kucinich stand for what I believe in; not Kerry or Edwards. Attack Ralph, and you're attacking me. If you want him to go away, give him something!

This WSWS article echoes much of what I've said about Kerry being the choice of the corporate interests who really run the show, now that Bush has proven to be so awful that even they can't stand him, no matter how many tax cuts he gave them:

Over the past month there has been a remarkable transformation. A candidate widely dismissed as an also-ran and has-been has become the likely Democratic Party nominee, and the favorite, if the election were held this month, to be the next president of the United States, according to public opinion polls.

This turnabout has little to do with Kerry’s skills as a candidate or his ability to “connect”—as the American media jargon puts it—with average voters. The privileged son of a US diplomat, educated at a Swiss boarding school and Yale University, Kerry’s social background is similar to that of George W. Bush. They even share membership in the Yale secret society Skull and Bones.

While undoubtedly more intelligent and articulate than the current occupant of the White House—a random drawing from the phone book would suffice for that—Kerry is otherwise a run-of-the-mill bourgeois politician and representative of the American ruling elite, with a leaden speaking style and a tendency to pontificate and equivocate.

I got an e-mail from a friend who was all excited about starting a "BushNader2004" web site. I told him that I wanted no part of it. If Kerry wants the progressive vote, he should have to earn it. So far he hasn't. The anybody-but-Bushers indicated early that they had no standards for the Democratic candidate, and a non-entity is what they're getting.

If you want some other viewpoints on the Nader announcement, check out Tom Tomorrow, Politics in the Zeros, and You Will Anyway.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Bush supporters abandoning the s(t)inking ship

While sharing a sandwich at the stylish Beachwood Mall in this Cleveland suburb, one older couple — a judge and a teacher — reluctantly divulged their secret: though they are stalwarts in the local Republican Party, they are planning to vote Democratic this year.

"I feel like a complete traitor, and if you'd asked me four months ago, the answer would have been different," said the judge, after assurances of anonymity. "But we are really disgusted. It's the lies, the war, the economy. We have very good friends who are staunch Republicans, who don't even want to hear the name George Bush anymore."
-- NY Times

The article continues:
A nationwide CBS News poll released Feb. 16 found that 11 percent of people who voted for Mr. Bush in 2000 now say they will vote for the Democratic candidate this fall. But there was some falloff among those who voted against him as well. Five percent of people who said they voted for Mr. Gore in 2000 say this time they will back Mr. Bush.

On individual issues, the poll found some discontent among Republicans but substantial discontent among independents. For instance, on handling the nation's economy, 19 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of independents said they disapproved of the job Mr. Bush was doing.

"As the president's job rating has fallen, his Democratic supporters have pulled away first, then the independents and now we're starting to see a bit of erosion among the Republicans, who used to support him pretty unanimously," said Evans Witt, the chief executive of Princeton Survey Research Associates. "If 10 to 15 percent of Republicans do not support him anymore, that is not trivial for Bush's re-election."

Poor Delusional William Safire
His main partner in conversation is the late Richard Nixon, and his most cherished belief that there were ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden keeps getting smashed by the facts. A week and a half ago, Safire was claiming that a supsiciously convenient CD discovered in Iraq showed ties between a Saddam-connected group called Ansar al-Islam and al Qaeda. Well, according to the NY Times, "senior American officials" are saying that al Qaeda rebuffed requests for assistance from Ansar al-Islam.

While Safire consoles himself by having another long chat with Nixon, I'm starting to feel sorry for him. In fact, I'm going to give him what he has been craving for so long--the link between Saddam and Osama. Here it is, Bill: Check out the names Ronald Reagan, Donald Rumsfeld, George H. W. Bush, and Colin Powell. I think you'll find the connections you are looking for. You're welcome, and say "Hi!" to Dick!

Friday, February 20, 2004

Defining our way out of a recession
Courtesy of Big Brother YOUR government!

Is cooking a hamburger patty and inserting the meat, lettuce and ketchup inside a bun a manufacturing job, like assembling automobiles?

That question is posed in the new Economic Report of the President, a thick annual compendium of observations and statistics on the health of the United States economy.

The latest edition, sent to Congress last week, questions whether fast-food restaurants should continue to be counted as part of the service sector or should be reclassified as manufacturers. No answers were offered.
-- NY Times

Notify the UAW--let's get those Big Macufacturers unionized right away! While we're at it, we might as well classify the whole Bush administration as manufacturers as well. What they've done in the past three years certainly isn't a service, and doesn't qualify as governing either, but they've done quite a bit of manufacturing: lies, wars, hatred. And don't forget their economists, manufacturing definitions of manufacturing so we won't lose manufacturing jobs. But if all the burger flippers are now in manufacturing, how will they explain the declining service sector?
So what happens to state security thugs when a racist government gets overthrown?
They get hired by our government to help with racist oppression elsewhere:

In its effort to relieve overstretched U.S. troops in Iraq, the Bush administration has hired a private security company staffed with former henchmen of South Africa's apartheid regime.

The reliance on apartheid enforcers was highlighted by an attack in Iraq last month that killed one South African security officer and wounded another who worked for the subsidiary of a firm called Erinys International. Both men once served in South African paramilitary units dedicated to the violent repression of apartheid opponents.
-- from Billmon, who has a lot more on the subject.
Chavez points his finger at Washington
The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, yesterday angrily accused the United States of being behind a 2002 coup and of helping continuing opposition attempts to overthrow him. -- from the Daily News Online
Meanwhile, back in the Western Hemisphere
The world would be better off if Saddam Hussein were still in power. W claims that "the world is a safer and better place as a result of Saddam Hussein not being in power." I disagree. The world was in a better situation one year ago than it is today. Certainly it is hard to claim that Iraq is better off, with tens of thousands having been killed and many more wounded, with their infrastructure apparently in even worse disarray than before, with bombings and shootouts occurring daily. The US certainly isn't better off, having lost 540-some soldiers, with thousands more wounded, and having spent over $100 billion we don't have to steal somebody's oil.

One place that may be better off, however, is Venezuela. Bush detests democratically-elected Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. There is evidence that the Bushies were supporting the failed coup against Chavez in 2002, and are backing current attempts to oust him. Fortunately for Chavez and the people of Venezuela, most of the available US military might is bogged down in Iraq, unable to seriously threaten to invade Venezuela and take ITS oil. So Chavez and Brazil's Lula have a little breathing room to stand up against the Washington monster, fight against the FTAA, and generally stake a claim to controlling their own destinies.

I'll be going to Venezuela in April on a Global Exchange tour, so I should know a lot more about what's going on there after that. Michelle at You Will Anyway has been keeping much better track of the Venezuelan goings-on than I have, and has a fine collection of Venezuela links. She is also going on the Global Exchange tour, which according to the web site still has spaces available. Come join us in sunny Caracas! (Or cloudy Caracas--I haven't checked the weather there--should be warm, though!)

And then there's Haiti. All sorts of crap going on down there, but I'm just starting to read about it. It sounds like the the Bushies are once again supporting the opposition against a democratically-elected president. They overthrew Gore, they tried to overthrow Chavez, and now Aristide. Why does George W. Bush hate democracy?
NOW trade is an issue!
In the original ten candidates running for the Democratic nomination, only two took strong fair trade, as opposed to so-called "free trade," positions: Dick Gephardt and Dennis Kucinich. If the media had focused on plant closings and outsourcing last fall, Gephardt would probably still be in the race and Kucinich would have much more respectable numbers. Instead, they wait until the field is effectively narrowed to two candidates before seriously raising the issue. Today's NY Times main web page (and I assume the paper's front page) has two articles on the issue: One a piece about how Edwards is now the fair-trade candidate, and the other another fine Bob Herbert column. Keep it up folks, but why did you wait until now?

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Kerry and Edwards both leading Bush solidly in polls
Like everyone, I think, I hate polls, except when they show good news! Although I think that everything going on lately is just further confirmation of my suspicion that the powers that be waited until all of the anti-war candidates were effectively eliminated before turning the harsh media spotlight on Bush, three years too late, but better late than never. Unless, of course, you were one of the hundreds killed or thousands wounded in Iraq, or knew someone who was.
Bush's Nascar support is slipping
From The American Prospect, reporting from the Daytona 500:

Overhead, Lee Greenwood sang "God Bless the USA." The crowd started chanting obscenities.

After LeAnn Rimes sang the national anthem, the crowd above the grandstands started cheering; those below booed.

Then Bush's motorcade drove by. One middle finger went up in the crowd, then another, and soon they were everywhere.

As the crowd scattered to their seats, one of the few black fans I spotted at the racetrack ran by and saw me scribbling in my notepad. "Writing for a newspaper?" she asked. Before I could respond, she shouted, "Tell them Bush sucks!" Then she disappeared back into the fray.

Okay, "Free Trade" is good for somebody
Wal-Mart Profit Up for Fourth Quarter

Americans continue to buy themselves out of jobs.

[Wal-mart] sales rose to $75.2 billion for the quarter from $66.9 billion a year ago. (three months ending Jan. 31)
Support the troops--fire Bush now!
Many of the soldiers killed and wounded in Iraq were riding in Humvees when they were attacked; many of these Hummers were inadequately armored. And the Bushies are taking their own sweet time about correcting the situation.

From Clay Bennett.

From Doonesbury.
Too late for Valentine's Day...
But you can still give Ebola as a birthday present!

The Ebola plush doll, that is.

The carnage continues
Two soldiers and one Iraqi killed, one soldier wounded in Iraq today. (AP)

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Fun with Photos!
Michelle tells us that the Guardian is having a fake photo contest. Here are a couple of ideas:

Dean is out
Working those many months, I resented Howard Dean and his legions of supporters who thought they were supporting a progressive candidate. The media effectively built him up as the left edge of the party because real change is not welcome to the powers that be. Then they dashed him to pieces in Iowa, and now he's out. And I'm sad about it! Because we're left with the two leading candidates having both voted for the war, having voted for the Patriot Act, and whose only real qualifications as far as I'm concerned are that they aren't George W. Bush. As I said below, I like Edwards much better than Kerry, so I'm semi-endorsing him, as if it mattered.

I didn't explain myself fully in my Edwards post because I had a meeting to go to. So I'll try to catch up now. I don't like Edwards for most of his positions. Not only did he vote for the Iraq war, according to his web site, he actually co-sponsored the resolution. He voted for the Patriot Act. So I'm gagging already. But Kerry voted for both, as well. However, I think Edwards' "two Americas" speech is the right approach to winning the election; bring on the class warfare, I say! The rich have been fighting the battle for 25 years--it's time to fight back. And it sounds like he'll do more to fix "free trade" than Kerry; Edwards claims that he would have voted against NAFTA if he had been in the Senate in 1993. If he would just endorse Kucinich's promise to withdraw from NAFTA and the WTO, I'd have one firm issue on which to prefer Edwards over Kerry. And although they differ widely on the issues, Kucinich seems to genuinely like Edwards, and vice versa. Edwards also stood up for Kucinich, Sharpton and Moseley-Braun when debate moderators were short-changing them on time.

I think we can compare Edwards and Kerry to Clinton and Gore. Edwards, like Clinton, is highly articulate and works well in impromptu question-and-answer sessions. He also seems to have few hard-and-fast principles, and seems willing to change them to suit the political winds. Kerry, like Gore, is stiff and awkward, and not good in impromptu sessions (I thought he was just terrible in all of the debates I watched). He seems to be willing to take some strong stands, like his anti-war position in the '70's (and like Gore's position on the environment), but he's also willing to abandon them when the political winds are blowing the other way (his vote for the Iraq war, and Gore's calling for opening up the strategic oil reserve to keep gas prices low shortly before the 2000 election).

I don't think either approach is particularly appealing--somebody who doesn't take strong stands, or someone who does but then abandons them under political pressure. But if Kucinich or someone else can get Edwards to adopt a few good positions on some issues (like NAFTA), he'll do a much better job of selling them than Kerry could. And while I think the "electability" issue sucks, I think Edwards would do a better job of selling himself to the voters than Kerry, at least to both the swing voters and the previous nonvoters, if not the core Democrats who have consistently voted for Kerry in the primaries so far. So, with Dean out and reluctantly feeling that Kucinich and Sharpton no longer have a chance, I'll support Edwards over Kerry.
Taking back the House, one seat at a time
Democrat Ben Chandler easily won a seat in the US House of Representatives yesterday in a special election in Kentucky. His Republican opponent "based her campaign in large part on her support of President Bush," according to AP.

There will be another special election for an open House seat on June 1. Democrat Stephanie Herseth currently leads her Republican opponent in the polls in South Dakota. Maybe you could throw a few bucks her way?

Stephanie Herseth
Auf Wiedersehen, Arbeiten!
German company Siemens will move most of the 15,000 software programming jobs from its offices in the United States and Western Europe to locations such as India, China and Eastern Europe, a company official has said. -- The Straits Times

I used to work for Siemens in Novi, Michigan, developing mail-sorting systems for the US Postal Service. That operation got bought out and closed down about a year after I left, leaving many of the employees out of work. I do recall going to Johnson City, Tennessee for training in how to program Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC's). Siemens had bought that operation from Texas Instruments a few years earlier. They made the PLC's there, but there were also probably hundreds of programmers at that facility. I'm guessing that Johnson City will be hit with a sizeable loss of jobs that it can't really handle right now. But chances are that there will be no repercussions for Siemens on the contracting side. The USPS, the Pentagon, and numerous other government agencies will continue to buy from Siemens, with an even larger extent of the proceeds going into the pockets of the wealthy shareholders.

The race to the bottom continues.
Off the deep end
Nicholas Kristof is one of the more liberal columnists at the New York Times, which unfortunately isn't saying much. Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert definitely are. William Safire and David Brooks definitely aren't (Safire could personally witness Saddam and Osama kill each other in a knife fight and would still believe they were working together). Thomas Friedman is supposedly a liberal, unless you consider his positions on the issues, especially Iraq. Maureen Dowd is the cutesy liberal--everything is a silly turn of phrase in her columns. If there's something important to say that she can't figure out how to say in a cutesy fashion, she won't say it.

Kristof, to his credit, usually provides some useful information in his columns. But his conclusions are frequently befuddling, and sometimes just completely absurd. Today's column, for instance (you knew I had a point coming sooner or later here!). Kristof argues that snowmobiles should be allowed in Yellowstone National Park:

President Bush's policy toward the environment has been to drill, mine and pave it, so it's understandable that environmentalists shriek when he pulls out a whetstone and announces grand plans for Yellowstone National Park.

Yet in the battle over snowmobiling in Yellowstone, it's Mr. Bush who is right. And, to me at least, the dispute raises a larger philosophical question: should we be trying to save nature for its own sake or for human enjoyment? Forgive my anthropocentrism, but I think humans trump the bison and moose.
Putting human interests first doesn't mean that we should despoil Yellowstone, or that we should drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or that we should allow global warming. We have a strong human interest in preserving our planet. But we should also allow ourselves to enjoy this natural world around us — including the grandeur of Yellowstone in winter — instead of protecting nature so thoroughly that it can be seen only on television specials.

Nick--we used to have nature all around us, and didn't need to go to Yellowstone or watch TV specials to see it. Human "enjoyment" has already trumped the bison and moose almost everywhere on the planet. Places like Yellowstone where wildlife has a fighting chance are few and far between. If people want to experience it, let them do so on nature's terms--on foot. Leave the friggin' snowmobiles out of there, even the cleaner, quieter four-cylinder models. We've overrun most of the planet; let the other species have something.
Tyson loses
Not Mike Tyson, the ear-biting rapist boxer, but Tyson Foods, whose crimes are on a much larger scale. The leading meat packer in the country, Tyson has used anti-competitive practices which restrict independent ranchers access to markets in order to hold down the prices Tyson pays for cattle. Since neither the Clinton nor the Bush Jr. administration was willing to enforce the antitrust laws, six independent ranchers filed a civil action against Tyson. Yesterday, a jury in Montgomery, Alabama awarded the ranchers a $1.28 billion judgment against Tyson.

Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, as I recall (it has been about two years since I read it), had quite a bit about Tyson's practices. Like Wal-Mart, Tyson is based in Arkansas, and like Wal-Mart, they are willing to resort to just about anything to dominate their industry.
Half-hearted semi-endorsement
I have been fairly despondent about presidential politics since Kucinich's 3% showing here in Michigan. Others tried to build some excitement around his 15% in Maine, but it was still just third place, and, no offense to downeasters, but it was just Maine. Maybe he'll have a similar showing in California, but it won't get him the nomination, and it won't get him much leverage at the convention unless the race somehow gets close.

Well, the press at least seems to be playing up John Edwards' strong second in Wisconsin as big news. Edwards now seems to be the only obstacle to John Kerry getting the nomination, and try as I might, I have been able to generate zero enthusiasm for Kerry. I watched several of the debates, and I was not once impressed by Kerry. Ranking the candidates on the issues, I would always have Kucinich at the top, and Kerry at the bottom, only ahead of Lieberman. Ranking the candidates on style, I had Edwards on top and Kerry in a dead heat for last with Lieberman.

Edwards is very smooth and thinks well on his feet. He answers questions clearly. I still think that the Democrats' best hope for winning in November is to bring in millions of people who didn't vote in the last election. Kucinich and Dean offered the best hopes for doing that, but it doesn't look like they'll make it. Between Edwards and Kerry, I think Edwards offers far more appeal to the former non-voters, and he is also much more likely to pry a few southern states out of Bush's grasp. So I'm offering Bob's Links and Rants half-hearted semi-endorsement to Senator John Edwards.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Fear the Mouse!
George Monbiot sees a silver lining in Comcast's attempt to take over Disney--maybe Disney's hold on the minds of children is weakening:

Walt Disney's characters are sinister because they encourage us... to promote the hegemony of the corporations even when we have no intention of doing so. He captured a deep stream of human consciousness, branded it and, when we were too young to understand the implications, sold it back to us. Comcast's hostile takeover bid suggests that the power of his company to seize our imaginations is declining. A giant media corporation may be about to become even bigger, but if the attack means that Disney is losing its ability to shape the minds of the world's children, this is something we should celebrate.
Don't forget those voting machines!
Jack at Ruminate This has a list of electronic voting machine screw-ups which couldn't be fixed because there was no paper trail. He suggests that we inundate local election officials with requests to provide verifiable voting methods, and if they won't, we inundate them with absentee ballots.

I will add that we shouldn't reject electronic voting machines entirely. They have the potential for making voting simpler, and eliminating overvotes and unintended undervotes. They also will be almost required if we are ever to implement instant-runoff voting in a large way. What we need to do is require that each machine produce two identical pieces of paper which document how the voter voted. The voter could review these, and if they were satisfactory then she would give one to an election official and keep one for herself. She could keep this copy private, or she could share it with party officials, journalists, or anyone else interested in verifying the election. If an error was found, she could ask for another opportunity to vote by machine, or request a hand-countable paper ballot.

Touchscreen voting should be viewed as a means to simplify and error-proof voting, not primarily as a way to more quickly count the votes. Perhaps the touchscreen machines should not even be directly connected to tallying computers--they could simply produce paper ballots which are both human- and machine-readable, and error free. These ballots would be run through scanners, and the scanners would be spot checked for accuracy.
Quote du Jour number two
This is the arsonist in your house telling you that stranger outside with the hose can't be trusted. -- Josh Marshall, referring to yesterday's CNN headline: "Bush says Democrats would threaten fiscal health."


But that is its purpose!
The United States' "war on terror" has been "extremely damaging" for human rights, and has been used as an excuse by totalitarian regimes to impose oppressive laws, a leading think tank said yesterday.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), traditionally viewed as an establishment body, concluded in a report that issues such as Guantanamo Bay mean that Washington can no longer "assume a high moral position".

Countries such as Pakistan and Uzbekistan have brought in so-called anti-terrorist laws insisting that they are not much different to the Patriot Act enacted by the Bush administration, said the report's author, Professor Rosemary Foot.
-- from Common Dreams

The wealthy few require endless supplies of cheap labor and natural resources to maintain their status. Corrupt dictatorships supply these more readily than do liberal democracies. The "war on terror" favors the former over the latter.

Quote du Jour
We cannot buy into the proposition that the elected president must be forced out of office by thugs and those who do not respect the law. -- Colin Powell. He's talking about Haiti. Too bad he didn't/doesn't have the same scruples when applied to Venezuela, or the U.S. for that matter. Wouldn't you agree, President Gore?


Daily News Online
I just posted a new commentary on the Daily News Online. Stop by and leave a comment!
National Guard, shmational guard
George W. Bush has committed real crimes in his three stolen years in the White House. South Knox Bubba provides a pretty thorough list of the miserable failure that is the 43rd pResident.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Letter to the editor
From Friday's Ann Arbor News:

We have wasted 500-plus American lives, 10,000-plus Iraqi civilian lives, 3,000-plus wounded Americans, and who knows how many Iraqi wounded and more than $100 billion. For what? George W. Bush said there were stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Now that it is clear there were not, he says, "Oh, well, it doesn't matter." Doesn't matter? He claims absolutely no responsibility, doesn't even issue an apology. What arrogance! What total lack of compassion!

Our president is as much of a coward as Saddam Hussein except his "spider hole" is the White House. Where is the outrage? Will the true patriots please speak out?

Ed W. Saunders, Chelsea

I hope Ed will be joining us in Ann Arbor on March 20 as "The World Still Says No to War!" You, too!
Soldiers, children killed in Iraq
Two Iraqi children and two U.S. soldiers died in three separate explosions Monday in Iraq, coalition and Iraqi officials said. -- From CNN.

From Doonesbury.
Reading backwards
All of my earlier posts today (the six below) are based on last night's debate in Milwaukee. I wrote them while reading through the transcript, so they are kind of in reverse order. You'll figure it out, I'm sure!

And isn't it curious that the two candidates who are given no chance of winning the nomination are the only ones who get any applause? There sure are a lot more people voting for Kerry than there are people who like him!

[Update] I just did a search through the debate transcript. Not counting going to commercials, the audience in Milwaukee applauded only seven times during the debate: five times for Sharpton and twice for Kucinich.
You go, Al!
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I think that if he did know he was lying and was lying, that's even worse.


Clearly, he lied. Now if he is an unconscious liar, and doesn't realize when he's lying, then we're really in trouble.


Because, absolutely, it was a lie. They said they knew the weapons were there. He had members of the administration say they knew where the weapons were. So we're not just talking about something passing here. We're talking about 500 lives. We're talking about billions of dollars.

So I hope he knew he was lying, because if he didn't, and just went in some kind of crazy, psychological breakdown, then we are really in trouble.

Getting to the point!
KUCINICH: The president lied to the American people.
The core reason why I don't like Kerry
He's still defending his vote for the Iraq war:

GILBERT: Let me turn to you, Senator Kerry, because you said your vote wasn't a vote for what the president ultimately did. But you did vote to give him the authority, so do you feel any degree, any degree of responsibility for the war and its costs and casualties?

KERRY: This is one of the reasons why I am so intent on beating George Bush and why I believe I will beat George Bush, because one of the lessons that I learned -- when I was an instrument of American foreign policy, I was that cutting-edge instrument. I carried that M- 16.

I know what it's like to try to choose between friend and foe in a foreign country when you're carrying out the policy of your nation.

KERRY: And I know what it's like when you lose the consent and the legitimacy of that war. And that is why I said specifically on the floor of the Senate that what I was voting for was the process the president promised.

There was a right way to do this and there was a wrong way to do it. And the president chose the wrong way because he turned his back on his own pledge to build a legitimate international coalition, to exhaust the remedies of the United Nations in the inspections and to go to war as a matter of last resort.

Last resort means something to me. Obviously, it doesn't mean something to this president. I think it means something to the American people.

And the great burden of the commander in chief is to be able to look into the eyes of any parent or loved one and say to them, "I did everything in my power to prevent the loss of your son and daughter, but we had to do what we had to do because of the imminency of the threat and the nature of our security. "

I don't think the president passes that test.

GILBERT: But what about you? I mean, let me repeat the question. Do you have any degree of responsibility having voted to give him the authority to go to war?

KERRY: The president had the authority to do what he was going to do without the vote of the United States Congress. President Clinton went to Kosovo without the Congress. President Clinton went to Haiti without the Congress.

That's why we have a War Powers Act. What we did was vote with one voice of the United States Congress for a process. And remember, until the Congress asserted itself, this president wasn't intending to go to the United Nations. In fact, it was Jim Baker and Brent Scowcroft and others and the Congress who got him to agree to a specific process. The process was to build a legitimate international coalition, go through the inspections process and go to war as a last resort.

He didn't do it. My regret is not the vote. It was appropriate to stand up to Saddam Hussein. There was a right way to do it, a wrong way to do it.

My regret is this president chose the wrong way, rushed to war, is now spending billions of American taxpayers' dollars that we didn't need to spend this way had he built a legitimate coalition, and has put our troops at greater risk.

I'm sorry, Senator, but if you weren't aware in October 2002 that Bush was going to chose the "wrong way" and rush to war, you really aren't qualified to be a senator, much less president. And the reason we a have the unconstitutional War Powers Act is because of wussy senators like you. Sir.
The best answer on trade
Usually comes from Kucinich, but last night it came from Rev. Al Sharpton:

But let me say this: Not only would I cancel NAFTA, I've participated in those movements that opposed NAFTA in the beginning when Democrats were passing it and we raised the issue then that human rights was not part of what was being globalized.

So not only would I rescind NAFTA and the WTO, we were against it and had rallied against it in the beginning.

And the argument used that if you protect American workers it's protectionism, but if you protect American corporations it's patriotism -- I think it's patriotism to protect American workers.

And I think that it is some kind of jaded proposition to say, "Should Americans want to pay more to not get products at a K-Mart from cheap labor, or even in some cases, slave labor abroad? "

That's, to me, as a descendent of slaves, like saying, "Well, let's not end slavery because the product will be where we can afford it better. " It is immoral it is against our interests it is outright indecent to work people around the world at those wages to justify K-Mart prices.


HOLT: But back to my original question: Can you bring those jobs back, and can you be specific as how you would bring them back beyond canceling NAFTA?

SHARPTON: I think we bring the jobs back, one, by canceling NAFTA two, by creating manufacturing jobs three -- which would save those corporations where they can begin hiring people back -- three, by creating jobs.

SHARPTON: I've proposed throughout this campaign a $250 billion- a-year infrastructure redevelopment plan: Rebuild highways, roadways, bridges, tunnels in the name of homeland security. Rebuild the ports.

I think if you create jobs, if you cut off these trade agreements and you bring these manufacturing companies back, you can bring some of those workers back. But I think you cannot do it without an unequivocal end to these free trade agreements that have exported American jobs and that have put laborers around the world at below human rights standards.

Hey! I found something Kerry said that I like!!
I will not sign a trade agreement like the Central American Free Trade Agreement or the Free Trade of Americas Act that does not now embrace enforceable labor and environment standards. -- From last night's debate.

If Kerry will be willing to run against large parts of his voting record--NAFTA, Patriot Act, Iraq war--I could support him. And if the US president joined Chavez in Venezuela and Lula in Brazil in opposing FTAA, that fetid piece of proposed organized crime would be truly dead.

Of course, he's still John Kerry. The followup question asked him if he had any regrets about his votes in favor of NAFTA and China's entry into the WTO. His response:

I regret the way that they haven't been enforced, sure. I think...

Of course, we all remember Senator Kerry's fiery speeches in the late '90's attacking President Clinton and Vice President Gore for their failure to enforce NAFTA, don't we? How he mounted a challege to Gore for the nomination in 2000 because Gore had failed to see that NAFTA was enforced after he had sold it to the American people? Heck, Ken Starr and the Monica story could hardly get a minute's time on the evening news because of all those great Kerry speeches! John "Fair Trade" Kerry, we all called him. Remember?
Is Kucinich reading my blog?
Or do great minds just think alike? I wrote the post below (Some perspective, please?) at 4:37 PM EST, and the debate in Milwaukee started at 5:30 EST.

In the debate, Dennis Kucinich was asked about the likely tone of the political debate. Here is part of his response:

I want to say further that if the debate ends up being about the president's service record, you know, we should be worried about the National Guardsmen and Guardswomen who are in Iraq right now, who shouldn't be there.

We should be worried about bringing them home, not worrying about what the president did or didn't do 30 years ago. We have to be concerned about what he's doing now. He sent those men and women there on a lie, and we have to bring them home.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Some perspective, please?
What Bush did or didn't do in 1972 and 1973 is a lot less important than what he did in 2002 and 2003. Whether or not he showed up here or there in Alabama or Texas on such and such a date really doesn't matter. Of course the wealthy and connected got breaks that the poor didn't; if anything, Bush's AWOL-ness is an indictment of the system more than it is of him. But the National Guard obviously didn't care much whether he showed up or not, or they would have tracked him down.

And whether or not John Kerry was hanging around with "Hanoi" Jane Fonda means a lot less about his ability to be president than does Bush's continuing to hang around with "Baghdad" Don:

Bush presented false evidence to Congress, then proceeded with his war even after that evidence had been clearly demonstrated to be false. And Kerry supported him. Bush should be impeached and Kerry rejected for these crimes of the past two years, not for whatever they did in the early seventies. I mean, jeesh! Why is the trivia overwhelming the substance? Are there no standards of judgment and common sense out there? Unfortunately, I'm afraid I already know the answer.

From Daryl Cagle.
He's toast!
Bush's Campaign to Intensify, With Emphasis on His Record -- NY Times

Bush running on his record. That's as smart as...
  • The 2003 Detroit Tigers running on their winning percentage
  • Bill Clinton running on his marital fidelity
  • Saddam Hussein running on his popularity
  • Britney Spears running on her intelligence
  • Michael Jackson running as an ordinary Joe
  • Bill Buckner trying to get into baseball's Hall of Fame on his fielding in the World Series
  • etc.

Let's take a quick look at that record shall we? Oh, it's a record, alright.

A record number of Americans killed in a single terrorist attack just a few days after the pResident set a pResidential record for the longest vacation.

A record number of wars started, two, using one terrorist attack as justification, with no evidence that either war brought anyone connected with the attacks to justice (I'm sorry, but killing six people with a missile from an unmanned aircraft in the middle of the Yemeni desert isn't "bringing them to justice," it's terrorism), and no evidence that another attack is any less likely because of those wars.

A record deficit. A record number of jobs lost. A record number of treaties and international agreements broken. A record trade deficit. A record number of protesters before a war. A record-tying low number of valid reasons, zero, for starting that war.

Yeah, dimWit. Run on your record. You'll be back in Crawford in no time!

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Bastille Day in Iraq
Guerrillas shouting "God is great" staged a brazen assault on the main police station here on Saturday, blasting their way inside, killing at least 15 police officers and freeing dozens of prisoners. -- NY Times
Were they waiting for Kerry to be in...
Before throwing Bush out? It sure seems that way to me. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want (I won't deny it!), but the whole Kerry thing seems completely orchestrated to me. Somewhere there's a smoke-filled room with a bunch of rich guys sitting around. They've made their list, checked it twice, and have decided what they want in a president:
  1. Ivy League;
  2. Skull and Bones;
  3. Expressed ambivalence about Vietnam, either by ducking out while supporting it, or fighting in it and opposing it;
  4. Supported the Patriot Act to keep a lid on dissent;
  5. Supported war against Iraq;
  6. Keeps Americans and the rest of the world scared;
  7. But not so much that it hurts business.

They thought they had their boy in W, but he has botched things up so much that he is starting to fail on the last one. So the powers that be have orchestrated a suitable replacement: John Kerry. Kerry meets the requirements, and he doesn't scare anyone except for those of us who think the status quo needs serious changing. They arranged Kerry's coronation by first building up Howard Dean because he is fiery and energetic, then destroying Dean because he's fiery and energetic (they destroyed Kucinich's chances by simply ignoring him). Once you clear the sky of the stars and comets and supernovas, all that is left is the background noise--John Kerry.

So now that they've pretty much handed Kerry, someone they are completely comfortable with, the nomination, Bush is fair game. Scandals that have been lying there for months (no WMD's, Valerie Plame) and years (AWOL) are now fair game for the media. No politician, whether decent (Carter), devious (Nixon), slick (Clinton), or mean and clueless (W) can keep his ratings up once the media is unleashed to go after him. It wouldn't surprise me if even the stolen 2000 election finally becomes an issue used to skewer Bush. The backup is in place; the monkey can safely be run out of town.

Last summer I spent many hours passing out Kucinich flyers at Ann Arbor's Farmers' Market. Some people would ask me why I thought Kucinich had a chance, when most people had never heard of him. I would reply that over time the truth would become known about Iraq, while more soldiers died, and the jobs kept disappearing, and so on. As people started to realize the multiple disasters that Bush's policies had wrought, they would seek out candidates who had opposed those policies. They would see that there was a candidate who had opposed almost every element of the Bush agenda--he had voted against it and spoken out against it. The Bush disaster would be so thorough that people would finally be looking for real change.

But the powers that be delayed the media onslaught on Bush until after Kerry was safely on his way to the nomination. By this summer, Bush may well be fully discredited, with ratings similar to those his father had in 1992. And a lot of people will be looking for real change. But the only real option they'll have is John Kerry. How sad.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Law? We Don't Need No Stinkin' law!
We are the law! We're the United States of America, founded on military rule and the idea that a person is guilty until proven innocent, and we're not going to give him much of a chance of proving that! We'll invade countries, round up hundreds, drag them to the other side of the world, and let them rot. USA! USA!

Cuba Detentions May Last Years
Responsible Shopper
Wondering about the effects your purchases may be having on people around the world? (Well, you should!) The Center for a New American Dream web site has added several cool new features since I last explored it many months ago. One is the Responsible Shopper, where you can search through lots of manufacturers and retailers to see how well they respect human rights, labor, the environment, and so on. Check it out!
Valentine's Day
A little over a year ago, I posted this pithy little note:

"Honey, I paid to have a woman's hands chopped off in Sierra Leone so you could put this diamond on your hand." "Oh, darling, how wonderful of you!" Diamonds are Forever, and so are the deaths they finance.

Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I'll do a little soapbox preaching. Don't let commercials and guilt about some stupid holiday cause you to show your love for someone by buying something that will make things worse for oppressed people in other parts of the world. The Center for a New American Dream tells us why gold, chocolate and diamonds can be extremely callous gifts to give (and may lead to unintended results if your loved one knows where these things come from).

Buy less. Buy used. Buy local. Stop buying! Starve the corporate beasts!
Pretty Amazing
Bush seems to be catching more heat for not participating in a brutal war based on lies, which seems like a pretty rational response to me, than he has for starting one of his own. John Kerry is lauded for his participation in Vietnam, catching flak only for opposing it later on. And voters in state after state keep voting for him, even though he voted for W's insane war (when he already had plenty of evidence of the vile intentions of the Bushies). War good, peace bad. Patriotism good, thought bad. What the #%$@!& is wrong with this country?

From Rob Rogers.

From Chris Britt.

From Steve Sack.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Accountability my Ashcroft
Republicans are supposedly big on responsibility and accountability. People should get a job and take care of themselves, not rely on the guvmint to give them food stamps and welfare. Schools should bring students up to standard or be closed.

But George aWol Bush has a massive screwup on his hands in Iraq, and he's not holding anyone accountable. Howard Fineman suggests that he'd better start soon or he'll be held accountable himself

I keep waiting for the bloodletting to begin, the ritual slaughter of careers that comes with controversy in the capital. George W. Bush is a loyal man ? and loyalty is a good thing ? but I don't see how he can survive the searing politics of Iraq (if, indeed, survival is possible at all) without the dramatic departure of some people, maybe even Vice President Dick Cheney.

"WMD" stands for "weapons of mass destruction," of course, but the acronym also could be short for "war means defeat" if the president, as they used to say in various administrations, fails to "get out ahead of the story."

Rather than do that, so far, he's done everything he can to play sitting duck by not blaming anyone for the fact that we went to war in Iraq on what turned out to be (and what some argued at the time was) bogus information about the imminence of the threat.

Durn tootin'!
Minority students not applying to U of M because of affirmative action stand?
That seems to be the bizarre gist of this article in the Ann Arbor News. The evidence presented in the article seems confused and mostly anecdotal, but I wonder if there could be any truth to it, and why.

In case you have been vacationing on Mars for the last five years, the University of Michigan defended its affirmative-action admissions policies all the way to the US Supreme Court, where they won a partial victory last year.
Daily News Online
My first article is up and running on Daily News Online!
Drudge going after Kerry
The Drudge Report, a favorite of right-wingnuts, is claiming that John Kerry had some sort of extra-marital affair recently.

It's amazing how the petty issues rise to the top, while the important issues get ignored. George W. Bush started an illegal war based on lies, and John Kerry voted for it. That should be enough to disqualify both of them from high office. But Bush is getting the most heat for skipping out on the Vietnam war, which to me seems to have been a more logical choice than Kerry's choice was. And Kerry may take shots for alleged sexual indiscretions. Substance means nothing; the petty rules!

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

This can't happen
Cable giant Comcast is trying to buy media giant Disney. As far as I know, anti-trust laws are still on the books. Why aren't they enforced? (Oh right, the rich few are running the country now.) My cable TV and Internet connection come from Comcast. If they own Disney (and ABC and ESPN and so on), will they decide that ABC News is good enough for me--why should I need the New York Times or the Guardian or the Globe & Mail or Common Dreams or Daily News Online? Why are the supposedly free-market conservatives so intent on destroying the free market?
Ridiculous Quote du Jour
It's amazing that the one guy defending the country, President Bush, is under assault. -- Rush Limbaugh, referring to the questions about aWol's AWOL-ness.

Gee Rush, I thought those 130,000 troops in Iraq were supposed to be defending the country. I mean, I don't really see how, but they are most definitely under assault, put in harm's way by a rich Texas brat who couldn't even fulfill the minimum service required to keep himself from being under assault in a previous Texan's stupid war. But being rich and connected enough, he skated anyway.


Occupations Kill
A car bomb ripped through an army recruiting center in Baghdad early Wednesday morning, killing at least 36 Iraqis applying for jobs as soldiers, Iraqi officials said.
Casualty figures varied. Maj. John Frisbie of the 1st Armored Division's 2nd Brigade, said 36 people were killed and 50 wounded. While Iraq's deputy interior minister, Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim, said 47 people were killed and 50 wounded.
Wednesday morning's blast followed a truck bombing Tuesday in the city of Iskandariyah, about 30 miles south of the capital. That attack killed at least 50 Iraqis as they waited to be interviewed for jobs on the police force there.
-- Washington Post

Israeli soldiers in tanks and armored personnel carriers killed at least 13 Palestinians and injured about 50 during incursions into the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning, according to Palestinian security and medical officials. -- Washington Post

From Kevin Siers.

From Mike Keefe.

From Doonesbury.
The pResident can't explain himself
But the wingnut columnists at the New York Times are there to do it for him. Tuesday, it was David Brooks putting words in the smirky little mouth. Today, William Safire is off on another of his Saddam is/was Osama flights of lunacy.

Safire cites Dexter Filkins' February 9 article in the Times as a "smoking gun" on ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. But Filkins' article refers to a document recently obtained by US intelligence officials which supposedly is from a suspected al Qaeda muckety-muck to al Qaeda leadership (OBL?) in Afghanistan or wherever. The letter asks for help in fighting against the coalition occupiers.

While Safire claims the letter proves "that a clear link existed between world terror and Saddam," Filkins says explicitly in his article:

The document would also constitute the strongest evidence to date of contacts between extremists in Iraq and Al Qaeda. But it does not speak to the debate about whether there was a Qaeda presence in Iraq during the Saddam Hussein era, nor is there any mention of a collaboration with Hussein loyalists.

Safire suggests that

...the messages' authenticity was best attested by the amazed U.S. official who told Reuters, "We couldn't make this up if we tried."

I don't think that official is giving the Bush administration enough credit. They've made up all sorts of stuff.

Safire's conclusion? That the war was justified. Why?

Of the liberation's three casus belli, one was to stop mass murder, bloodier than in Kosovo; we are finding horrific mass graves in Iraq. Another was informed suspicion that a clear link existed between world terror and Saddam; this terrorist plea for Qaeda reinforcements to kill Iraqi democracy is the smoking gun proving that. The third was a reasoned judgment that Saddam had a bioweapon that could wipe out a city; in time, we are likely to find a buried suitcase containing that, too.

Wrong (see Human Rights Watch). Wrong (see above). And wrong (see David Kay). Bill, it's time for you to go back to channeling Nixon full time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

O'Reilly keeps his promise--finally!
Popular conservative television news anchor Bill O'Reilly, usually an outspoken Bush loyalist, said on Tuesday he was now skeptical about the Bush administration and apologized to viewers for supporting prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

"I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all and I think all Americans should be concerned about this," O'Reilly said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America."
-- Reuters

You're either with Bush or you're against him. With O'Reilly and Rush now complaining about him, who's left? Can we start the impeachment now?
Would this man lie to you?

Has he ever done anything else?

There's one in every crowd
I don't really believe that, but there was one in the crowd at the Kucinich rally last Friday in Detroit. A guy sitting at the end of the row said:

"I agree with Kucinich on just about everything except this peace nonsense. As long as you've got a world filled with foreign aliens, you're going to have war."

Did you know that the world is filled with foreign aliens? Alert Tom Ridge!
So many scandals, so little time
Calpundit is doing a much better job of keeping you informed about the Bush scandals (AWOL, Plame, etc.) than I have been. Until now, that is, because I'm linking you to Calpundit! He's got lots of interesting stuff on aWol's supposed "service."
Name that pundit
Who said this?
OK, let me put this gently here. Is he [Bush] out of his mind? The minor reforms to Medicare are indeed welcome in providing more choice and some accountability in the program. But the major impact of his Medicare reform is literally trillions of dollars in new spending for the foreseeable future. He has enacted one of the biggest new entitlements since Richard Nixon; he has attached it to a population that is growing fast in numbers; and the entitlement is to products, prescription drugs, whose prices are rising faster than almost everything else in the economy. Despite all this, the president believes it will "help the fiscal situation of our long-term projection"? Who does he think he's kidding? It's like a man who earns $50,000 per year getting a mortgage for a $5 million house and bragging that he got a good interest rate.

Paul Krugman? Molly Ivins? Arianna Huffington? Nope.

Andrew Sullivan, who has been claiming aWol to be far superior to sliced bread for the past three years. Better late than never, Andy!

More from Andy:
We have a few options here: The president doesn't know what he's talking about, or he's lying, or he trusts people telling him lies. But it is undeniable that this president is not on top of the most damaging part of his legacy--the catastrophe he is inflicting on our future fiscal health.

No need to choose, Andy--this president doesn't know what he's talking about, he is lying, AND he trusts people telling him lies. Andy still believes the lies about Iraq, but maybe that will change too.
Don't let the facts get in the way, Greg
Outsourcing is the latest manifestation of the forces of free trade and increasing international specialization in production. We are all used to goods being produced abroad and transported here on ships or planes. We are less used to services being produced abroad and being transported here over telephone lines or the Internet. But the basic economic forces are the same.

An open world trading system is generally a positive contribution to economic prosperity. It increases living standards both at home and abroad. That is the reason the President has actively pursued trade agreements to open up markets abroad.

At the same time that we pursue a more open trading system around the world, we have to acknowledge that any economic change, including those that come from trade, can cause painful dislocations for some workers and their families. The goal of policy should be not to stop change but to ease the transition of workers into new, growing industries. The President's initiative to support education at community colleges is one example.

That's from Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Greg Mankiw in an "Ask the White House" chat session yesterday.

Mankiw provides no evidence for his absurd claim that "free trade" increases living standards at home and abroad. Go to Flint and say that. Or Juarez, for that matter. "Free trade" increases the wealth of the wealthy few and increases the poverty of the poor, and is murder on the environment. It's scary to think that this clown wrote one of the most-used college economics textbooks.
Too bad most people don't read
According to Michelle citing Maru quoting Digby (gotta get that blog-chain right), Richard Clarke, who served in the National Security Council as a counterterrorism expert under Clinton and both Bushes (leaving last year), is publishing a tell-all book.

Word is that Rove is very afraid of what Clarke has to say -- particularly because Clarke was the August 6 2001 briefer of Bush, and there is a good deal about how he got told never to raise such matters again with Bush. Book will get big play. Richard Clarke knows where all the bodies are buried.

The close collaborator with Richard Clarke -- going back to Bush I at NSC was Rand Beers -- who quit last summer in disgust, and walked down the street and volunteered his services to Kerry , where he has been ever since. Beers eventually drew Joe Wilson into the Kerry camp... To put it mildly, Kerry is not going into battle unarmed and with pacifist intents. If Bin Laden's been warehoused for use in October -- these are the guys who know it, and know who else knows.

John Kerry--If you take this stuff and discredit the Bushies and everyone who supports them so thoroughly that we'll have an Iraq syndrome that lasts a hundred years (as opposed to that wimpy Vietnam syndrome that the Repugs unfortunately destroyed within 20), you might be worth supporting. I just wish you hadn't been so supportive of the Bushies so far!

Anyhow, I look forward to seeing what's in that book! Also, I kind of hope that if Kerry wins the nomination that he'll pick Florida Senator Bob Graham as his running mate. Graham also knows where the bodies are buried. (Although I think John Edwards would be a far more effective running mate on the campaign trail if Kerry were to go with a southerner.)
I go see Hugo!
I just signed up for a Global Exchange tour to Venezuela in April. You might wonder if I'm a bit worried about being in a place crawling with drug runners, spies, and armed government agents who might lock me up indefinitely without charges on a whim. But I'll only be in the Miami airport for a couple of hours, so don't worry.

I'm pretty excited about the trip. Global Exchange is going to take us around to meet representatives of the government, the opposition, the oil industry, and leaders of the poor and dispossessed. You can read more about the tour here, even sign up and come along if you want! (Although be sure to call Global Exchange today, since the deadline for the tour is this week.) For $1150, Global Exchange provides your hotel, two meals a day, and transportation around the country. By playing around with Travelocity, I found I can get to Caracas in two easy three-hour flights, with the round trip from Detroit costing $618. When I entered Detroit to Caracas as my trip, the best deal Travelocity could come up with was about $1000. But by entering Detroit-Miami ($306) and Miami-Caracas ($312) separately, I got the better deal. I'll also be in Venezuela a little sooner this way, since the Miami-Caracas flight will be on Aeropostal, a Venezuelan airline!

Monday, February 09, 2004

President Gore speaks out!
Al Gore, who lost the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000, assailed Bush, accusing him of betraying the nation by invading Iraq. "He took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure, dangerous to our troops, that was preordained and planned before 9-11," Gore told Tennessee Democrats at a party event Sunday.

The former vice president said that he, like millions of others, had put partisanship aside after the September 11 terrorist attacks and wanted Bush to lead the nation. Instead, Gore shouted to the crowd, Bush "betrayed us."
-- CNN
I feel for the Deaniacs out there. I was never much of a fan of the Doctor's. I don't like his positions on a lot of issues, and I find him to be a bit abrasive. But he definitely brought attention to the anti-war position, and he excited a lot of people. His rise and fall seems to be a clear case of the mighty few having much greater power in deciding who our next president is than even a huge number of ordinary voters. David Podvin suggests that Dean's downfall began with this statement to Chris Matthews on December 1: "We're going to break up the giant media enterprises." Podvin says that the media immediately began pushing the "Dean is unelectable" mantra on the public, and many Iowa voters seemed to have swallowed that sucker whole by the time of their caucuses.

I suggested last week that the media's playing of Dean went back to the beginning--they built him up to near inevitable status (who knows what they threatened Al Gore with to get him to endorse Dean). He was on the cover of Time and Newsweek, had weeks on weeks of Doonesbury devoted to him, and had a full hour on Meet the Press. Then, as Podvin describes, within the course of about three weeks the media reduced him to an also ran, knocking the life out his campaign and his legion of supporters.

I worked on the Kucinich campaign for about nine months. We never got anywhere near the boost that Dean got, even though our candidate actually was what a lot of Dean supporters mistakenly thought the doctor was. We ran on hope and on the theory that by buying the idea that Kucinich didn't have a chance that we would actually be validating it. If everyone who liked Dennis and his platform had supported him, we probably would have outnumbered the Deaniacs. But Dean got the attention, we didn't. We sent in our Publishers' Clearing House sweepstakes forms, hoping that just maybe Ed McMahon would show up on our doorstep and tell us that Dennis won the nomination. But I think most of us knew that it was unlikely, so as reality sets in we're dealing with some disappointment, but no shock.

The Deaniacs, on the other hand, were looking out the window expecting the sweepstake van to come. And the van came, and Ed McMahon got out with his camera crew, walked up the sidewalk, and knocked on the door. The Deaniacs answered excitedly, and Ed said "Can you tell me how to get to John Kerry's house?" Now that's disappointment!

Like I said, I wasn't a big Dean fan, and I don't think he deserved the front-runner status he enjoyed in December. But neither did he do anything that should have caused him to fall so fast. The "scream" was a non-event as far as I'm concerned--every candidate, and certainly the incumbent, does several things every day that wouldn't look flattering if they were played over and over and over again on every TV show. Big media wanted to take Dean down, and they took him down. The nation of the people, by the people and for the people appears to be perishing from the earth.
Just a guess...
I'm guessing that White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan didn't get much sleep last night. I'm sure that Karl Rove and company have been prepping him for today's 12:30 press briefing:

Q: Scott, yesterday on Meet the Press the President said [ridiculous bald-faced lie]. How do you reconcile that statement with what he said last [pick a date], that [another ridiculous lie which contradicts the other one]?
A: Now [reporter's name], the President's position on this has been clear on this all along. What he meant when he said [yesterday's lie] was [brand new bald-faced lie which contradicts both previous lies and all concepts of logic and decency], which is what he has been saying all along. And, don't ever forget, Saddam had weapons, he had used weapons, and the world is a safer place without Saddam Hussein. The President has no doubt of this, and he did what was necessary to protect America in light of the terrible terrorist attacks of September 11.

Poor Scotty has to remember his lines to cover probably 100 or so wrong and/or stupid things aWol said yesterday. It wouldn't surprise me if the Bushies are offering Ari Fleischer huge amounts of money, ambassadorships for his family, etc. if he'll come back to the White House. He was so much better at lying than Scott is.
It's back
The Committee on Un-American Activities, that is. In a return to the bad old days of McCarthyism and Cointelpro, protesters are being hauled before a grand jury:

DES MOINES, Iowa - In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists. In addition to the subpoena of Drake University, subpoenas were served this past week on four of the activists who attended a Nov. 15 forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury Tuesday, the protesters said. AP

How bad is that, you ask?

The proceeding will be behind closed doors. We may not have an attorney present. We have the right to plead the Fifth Amendment, refusing the answer questions that might incriminate us. The government, then, can offer us immunity from prosecution, in which case we will obliged to answer under threat of contempt of court and could be imprisoned for the length of the Grand Jury session, 18 months, should we continue to refuse to answer. This immunity would be limited to our own testimony and anything any of us say could be used against the others. --from Brian Terrell, Executive Director, Catholic Peace Ministry, one of the activists who was subpoened (via Tom Tomorrow).

I wonder what Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has to say about all this. I remember reading his "Gulag Archipelago" about the Soviet Union in Stalin's time: The 3 am arrests, the interrogations, the turning of neighbor against neighbor, family member against family member. It's how police states do things.
Daily News Online!
Tom Ball from Manhattan has been working like crazy to get a new progressive news web site up and running. Today is the debut! I'll be one of the contributors. Check out the DNO today!
Fiskings Galore!
The Center for American Progress and the DNC have thoroughly fisked aWol's Meet the Press fiasco.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

You need a program to figure this one out
Imagine, if you will, that you are an Islamic nation run by a dictator. Imagine that a country on the other side of the planet says that it suspects that your country has so-called weapons of mass destruction and worries that you might share them with the terrorists they fear. Never mind that you don't have those weapons and that even if you did you'd never share them with those terrorists, because they'd be at least as likely to use them against your country as against that country across the oceans. What happens? You get invaded, of course!

Now, imagine that you're an Islamic nation run by a dictator. Your country has weapons of mass destruction, especially the REAL WMD's--nuclear bombs. Your country has shared information on nuclear weapon construction with several other countries that the country across the oceans fears. Your country has a long record of supporting the terrorists who attacked that country. What happens? The country across the oceans supports you every step of the way, even when you pardon the person who shared those nuclear secrets.

I don't support attacking Pakistan. I don't support attacking Saudi Arabia. But anyone who believes aWol's explanations for why he attacked Iraq and doesn't question his kid-glove treatment of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has his head way up his Ashcroft. Rumsfeld, Cheney and Powell knew who Saddam was in the '80's when they were supporting him. They know who Musharref and the Saudi royal family are now. The Bushies are vile lying hypocrites of the first order.

In case you are having trouble understanding aWol's foreign policy, this little conversation which I got in my e-mail tonight (although I remember seeing it months ago as well), should clarify things for you:

Q: Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?
A: Because they had weapons of mass destruction, honey.
Q: But the inspectors didn't find any weapons of mass destruction.
A: That's because the Iraqis were hiding them.
Q: And that's why we invaded Iraq?
A: Yep. Invasions always work better than inspections.
Q: But after we invaded them, we STILL didn't find any weapons of mass destruction, did we?
A: That's because the weapons are so well hidden. Don't worry, we'll find something, probably right before the 2004 election.
Q: Why did Iraq want all those weapons of mass destruction?
A: To use them in a war, silly.
Q: I'm confused. If they had all those weapons that they planned to use in a war, then why didn't they use any of those weapons when we went to war with them?
A: Well, obviously they didn't want anyone to know they had those weapons, so they chose to die by the thousands rather than defend themselves.
Q: That doesn't make sense Daddy. Why would they choose to die if they had all those big weapons to fight us back with?
A: It's a different culture. It's not supposed to make sense.
Q: I don 't know about you, but I don't think they had any of those weapons our government said they did.
A: Well, you know, it doesn't matter whether or not they had those weapons. We had another good reason to invade them anyway.
Q: And what was that?
A: Even if Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, which is another good reason to invade another country.
Q: Why? What does a cruel dictator do that makes it OK to invade his country?
A: Well, for one thing, he tortured his own people.
Q: Kind of like what they do in China?
A: Don't go comparing China to Iraq. China is a good economic competitor, where millions of people work for slave wages in sweatshops to make U.S. corporations richer.
Q: So if a country lets its people be exploited for American corporate gain, it's a good country, even if that country tortures people?
A: Right.
Q: Why were people in Iraq being tortured?
A: For political crimes, mostly, like criticizing the government.
People who criticized the government in Iraq were sent to prison and tortured.
Q: Isn't that exactly what happens in China?
A: I told you, China is different.
Q: What's the difference between China and Iraq?
A: Well, for one thing, Iraq was ruled by the Ba'ath party, while China is Communist.
Q: Didn't you once tell me Communists were bad?
A: No, just Cuban Communists are bad.
Q: How are the Cuban Communists bad?
A: Well, for one thing, people who criticize the government in Cuba are sent to prison and tortured.
Q: Like in Iraq?
A: Exactly.
Q: And like in China, too?
A: I told you, China's a good economic competitor. Cuba, on the other hand, is not.
Q: How come Cuba isn't a good economic competitor?
A: Well, you see, back in the early 1960s, our government passed some Laws that made it illegal for Americans to trade or do any business with Cuba until they stopped being Communists and started being
capitalists like us.
Q: But if we got rid of those laws, opened up trade with Cuba, and started doing business with them, wouldn't that help the Cubans become capitalists?
A: Don't be a smart-ass.
Q: I didn't think I was being one.
A: Well, anyway, they also don't have freedom of religion in Cuba.
Q: Kind of like China and the Falun Gong movement?
A: I told you, stop saying bad things about China. Anyway, Saddam Hussein came to power through a military coup, so he's not really a legitimate leader anyway.
Q: What's a military coup?
A: That's when a military general takes over the government of a country By force, instead of holding free elections like we do in the United States.
Q: Didn't the ruler of Pakistan come to power by a military coup?
A: You mean General Pervez Musharraf? Uh, yeah, he did, but Pakistan is our friend.
Q: Why is Pakistan our friend if their leader is illegitimate?
A: I never said Pervez Musharraf was illegitimate.
Q: Didn't you just say a military general who comes to power by forcibly overthrowing the legitimate government of a Nation is an Illegitimate leader?
A: Only Saddam Hussein. Pervez Musharraf is our friend, because he helped us invade Afghanistan.
Q: Why did we invade Afghanistan?
A: Because of what they did to us on September 11th.
Q: What did Afghanistan do to us on September 11th?
A: Well, on September 11th, nineteen men, fifteen of them Saudi Arabians, hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings, killing over 3,000 Americans.
Q: So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?
A: Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of the Taliban.
Q: But I thought you said 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia.
A: Yes, but they trained in Afghanistan.
Q: Who trained them?
A: A very bad man named Osama bin Laden.
Q: Was he from Afghanistan?
A: Uh, no, he was from Saudi Arabia too.
Q: I seem to recall he was our friend once.
A: Only when we helped him and the Mujahadeen repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s.
Q: Who are the Soviets? Was that the Evil Communist Empire Ronald Reagan talked about?
A: There are no more Soviets. The Soviet Union broke up in 1990 or thereabouts, and now they have elections and capitalism like us. We call them Russians now.
Q: So the Soviets - I mean, the Russians - are now our friends?
A: Well, not really. You see, they were our friends for many years after they stopped being Soviets, but then they decided not to support our invasion of Iraq, so we're mad at them now. We're also mad at the French and the Germans because they didn't help us invade Iraq either.
Q: So the French and Germans are evil, too?
A: Not exactly evil, but just bad enough that we had to rename French Fries and French toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast.
Q: Do we always rename foods whenever another country doesn't do what We want them to do?
A: No, we just do that to our friends. Our enemies, we invade.
Q: But wasn't Iraq one of our friends back in ! the 1980s?
A: Well, yeah. For a while.
Q: Was Saddam Hussein ruler of Iraq back then?
A: Yes, but at the time he was fighting against Iran, which made him our friend, temporarily.
Q: Why did that make him our friend?
A: Because at that time, Iran was our enemy.
Q: Isn't that when he gassed the Kurds?
A: Yeah, but since he was fighting against Iran at the time, we looked the other way, to show him we were his friend.
Q: So anyone who fights against one of our enemies automatically becomes our friend?
A: Most of the time, yes.
Q: And anyone who fights against one of our friends is automatically an enemy?
A: Sometimes that's true, too. However, if American corporations can profit by selling weapons to both sides at the same time, all the better.
Q: Why?
A: Because war is good for the economy, which means war is good for America. Also, since God is on America's side, anyone who opposes war is a Godless un-American Communist. Do you understand now why we
attacked Iraq?
Q: I think so. We attacked them because God wanted us to, right?
A: Yes.
Q: But how did we know God wanted us to attack Iraq?
A: Well, you see, God personally speaks to George W. Bush and tells him what to do.
Q: So basically, what you're saying is that we attacked Iraq because George W. Bush hears voices in his head?
A: Yes! You finally understand how the world works. Now close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, and go to sleep. Good night.
Q: Good night, Daddy.
Meet the Less
Michelle has a lengthy commentary on aWol's chat with Tim Russert. She's disappointed Russert didn't follow through on as much as he could have; I'm glad he asked as much as he did. He got Bush to say he'd release his military records--that should be interesting.

In case you've been asleep for the past three years, our pResident is an idiot.
Wal-Mart continues to drive down wages
In China. Those sweatshop workers have been wallowing in wealth for far too long.
Being Bush means never having to say you're sorry
Even Reagan finally said he was sorry. And I'm going to apologize because I'm just not up to fully ripping aWol's Meet the Press interview to shreds. I'm sure Liberal Oasis and many of the other fine blogs in my blogroll will do a fine job of that.

But I read these two paragraphs from CNN:

"Saddam Hussein was dangerous, and I'm not just going to leave him in power and trust a madman," Bush said in a taped interview that aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "He's a dangerous man. He had the ability to make weapons at the very minimum."

"For the parents of the soldiers who have fallen who are listening, David Kay, the weapons inspector, came back and said, in many ways Iraq was more dangerous than we thought," Bush said. "We are in a war against these terrorists who could bring great harm to America, and I've asked these young ones to sacrifice for that."

We CANNOT accept this. It is NOT Bush's call to make, even after the Congress sold us out and authorized the war. But that resolution stated the following:

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

This and several other of the "Whereas" clauses have been shown to have been false premises, premises which were supplied to Congress by the White House. Since the premises were wrong, and there is good reason to believe that the White House knew they were wrong (if not in October 2002, then certainly by March 2003), then Congress did not, in fact, authorize the war. Which, under the Constitution, they must do if we're going to go to war. If Bush still wanted his war, he was required by his oath to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution to go back to Congress and say "Saddam is a threat because, well, he just is." Even Hillary Clinton and John Kerry might have changed their votes after that.

As it is, Bush is claiming the right to decide, by his stupid little self, when the United States goes to war. This violates his oath of office, is a crime of the highest order, and he should be impeached and then prosecuted further. If he isn't, this is no longer a constitutional form of government. It is a imperial dictatorship. And the emperor has no brains.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Five Three friggin' percent
I swear, the whole system is designed to crush your spirit. We've got a state that has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs because of NAFTA. The chairman of our most famous corporation has called for a national solution to the problem of health care costs so his company can compete internationally. Both U.S. Senators voted against the Iraq war. There is a strong environmental movement here. And for once we had a candidate for president who offered real solutions to these problems, who should have run away with the Michigan vote. Hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers spread the word about the ideal candidate for Michigan voters, and he visited the state several times. But the media and the "mainstream" politicians shut him out, most voters never heard of him, and he got five friggin' percent of the vote here. People listened to their TV's and heard that Kerry was going to win. And Kerry won. And the state, the country, and the world will be the worse off for it.

A voter today asked the Kerry folks about his health care "plan." They didn't seem to really know what it was, and what they did know sounded awfully complicated, and certainly not something that's going to fire up a lot of people. From what I've read and heard, you could say pretty much the same thing about all of Kerry's platform. Tweak NAFTA. Tweak health care. Tweak friggin' Iraq. These are major crises threatening to destroy this country (a lot more than Saddam ever did or could), and the media has convinced people that a tweaker is the solution.

My head hurts.

[Update] Make that THREE percent.
The results are in!
For my area, anyhow. For those who voted in person, that is. Internet (like my Kucinich vote) or by-mail votes weren't included in these totals. Without further adieu:

Kerry 207, Dean 164, Edwards 71, Kucinich 70, Clark 46, Sharpton 32, Moseley-Braun 2, Gephardt 1, Lieberman 0, Uncommitted 3. Kerry, Dean, Kucinich and Clark were well represented by volunteers at the polling place.

The Dean people seemed a bit edgy today. Some were upset with Kerry--one of the Deanies brought a sign that said "A vote for Kerry is a vote for Bush." I'm no fan of Kerry's, but that's a bit over the top, I'd say. Another Dean volunteer was unhappy with Dean's decision not to campaign in Michigan yesterday, after she had called a bunch of people telling them about his planned visit to Ann Arbor. He cancelled pretty much at the last minute.

The Kerry folks were nice enough, but seemed a bit too smug. We Kucinich folks were, as usual, the most informed, interesting, and attractive volunteers there. We answered the early Dean cookie offerings with cookies of our own.

I guess the official results will be out soon; we gave it a good shot for Kucinich here in Michigan, and hopefully we'll get some results that mean something. It's been many months since I've gone a couple of weeks without passing out any flyers, but I don't plan to do any of that for a month or so. I'll probably put up some signs for our March 20 peace march in a few weeks, but that's it for a while.

By the way, I'll be contributing to a new online progressive news and opinion web site known as the Daily News Online, which will be making its debut on Monday. Be sure to check it out on Monday!
Caucus Day
Michigan's presidential caucus is today. I was at one of the voting sites this morning with my Kucinich shirt on, passing out literature and trying to sway a few last voters. Approximately 50,000 people have already voted online or by mail.

Last evening, I went with a group of seven to the Kucinich rally in Detroit. Rep. John Conyers gave a stirring introduction. Kucinich seemed more relaxed and was more animated and funny than I had seen him in previous appearances. Someone in our group counted about 400 people in the crowd, and apparently there were similar turnouts earlier in the day in Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Greenville, Flint and Pontiac. Kucinich's flight from Spokane, Washington was fogged in, and he apparently arrived in Kalamazoo at 1:15 for his scheduled 12:30 appearance. I'm somewhat mentally exhausted from helping with the campaign for all these months; how hard must it be on the candidates?

Kucinich speaks in Detroit.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Young voters' interest fizzles
According to the Detroit News.

Hopes for a youth voter boom in 2004 are fading with the campaign of former Democratic front-runner Howard Dean. The legions of young voters inspired by his Internet-focused campaign are dropping out of the process rather than switch their allegiance to another candidate, according to Michigan pollsters.

Not to mention the Kucinich supporters, who of course the News DIDN'T mention.

This may explain the whole Dean bubble and burst phenomenon. The Rovian machine saw the possibility of a large, active youth movement that could threaten their dynasty in 2004. So they fed them a fiery candidate to get them excited, built him up in the news, made sure he got plenty of donations. Students signed up in big numbers, and were excited about "their" candidate. Then the powers that be turned on Dean, and practically destroyed his candidacy in about a week. (If Bush's "Fool me once..." babble were replayed as often as Dean's "Yeah!", he'd be toast too.) Of course, those who supported Kucinich or Clark are feeling a similar discouragement, even if their bubble never got quite as big. So now, the most enthusiastic young people who might have led the regime-change charge are disillusioned. And they've been fed the alternative of John Kerry, which has to just disillusion them further.

From Milt Priggee.

From Bill Day.
He was a C-minus student at Yale, and he probably cheated to get those grades, but he claims that he has learned the proper lesson from 9/11, without having studied it:

"September the 11th, 2001, was a lesson for America -- a lesson I will never forget, and a lesson this nation must never forget," Bush said. "We cannot wait to confront the threats of the world, the threats of terror networks and terror states, until those threats arrive in our own cities." -- Washington Post reporting on aWol's speech from yesterday.

This pompous dimwit has done everything possible to make sure that no lessons were learned from 9/11. He also clearly failed to learn the lesson from his daddy's war--that attacking countries on the other side of the world is the surest way to guarantee that you will have 9/11's. Every major terrorist attack on the US in the past 12 years can be traced to the Gulf War: The first WTC bombing, Oklahoma City (McVeigh and Nichols were Gulf War vets), and the alleged al Qaeda operations: bombings in Saudi Arabia, embassy bombings in Africa, the attack on the Cole, and 9/11. If you do everything possible to piss people off, it is to be expected that some of them will be pissed off. And it has been a long time since anyone pissed off as many people as has George W. Bush.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Quote du Jour
Obviously, he?ll be caught between now and the election. -- Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

It has already been suggested that Karl Rove has the announcement of Osama bin Laden's capture planned for some propitious moment in the campaign. Some are suggesting July 4 or September 11. The facts could be that he was killed two years ago, that he is already captured, or that they won't ever capture him. None of these will stop the Bushies from claiming his capture before the election, as Grassley apparently knows. Surely there are a few Repugs who know how to use PhotoShop.

One thing I think Rove has seriously screwed up on in his evil plan is the extended non-mentioning of Osama. When they do finally announce his capture, 50% of Americans will say "Who's that?", 40% will say "Didn't we find him in a hole back in December?", and those of you who read this blog regularly will say "Yeah, right." The networks will have to run nonstop videos of 9/11 to remind the masses who this guy is (or is supposed to be).


Uh-oh. I agree with Michael Powell on something.
Apparently the spawn of Satan who runs the FCC has a TiVo and loves it. Me too. But I no longer subscribe to their service. I'll confess that I did it mostly to save money--not only did I drop the $12.99 per month TiVo fee, but I was able to cancel my landline phone service entirely, saving me another $22 a month. But from an Orwellian perspective, there's a very good reason not to subscribe to the TiVo service: They use it to spy on you. CNN reports that the Janet Jackson thing during the Super Bowl was the most replayed event in the history of TiVo, something TiVo knows because the machines send information to the service. TiVo's have a built-in modem which you connect to a landline jack. They phone home every night to download the latest program information. But they also upload information about what you're watching, and apparently even how often you replayed it.

If you have or are considering getting a TiVo, you should know that you don't need the service to get most of the benefits from the machine. If you want to record every episode of 24, for example, you just have to set it to record Fox every Tuesday at 9, as opposed to just picking 24 from the listings as you would do if you had subscribed to the service. But you can still pause live TV, replay, fast forward, etc., and record any channel at any time. And if you would prefer to watch what you like instead of what's on, and would rather not watch commercials, a TiVo or other digital video recorder is fantastic. They are much easier to use (no tapes) and more flexible than VCR's. But they should really stop trying to spy on us!
I'm not quite sure who is obfuscating here, CIA Director George Tenet or the AP. But this article about Tenet's speech this morning has me all confused (no big accomplishment, really). Whether Tenet is defending the CIA against charges of over-hyping WMD evidence, as David Kay and some Repugs have suggested, or is defending the Bushies' WMD case as presented by Colin Powell to the UN, is left completely unclear in the article. It seems to be a little of one, a little of the other. I'll have to wait for a full transcript, I guess.

Still, the whole CIA issue is a smokescreen. Powell presented a crapload of stuff to the UN last year that was the Bushies' best case for going to war. UN inspectors found none of the stuff Powell claimed they had. At this point (late February/early March 2003) they knew for certain that their "intelligence" was badly flawed, wherever it came from. Proceeding with the war anyway was a crime of the highest order.

[Update] The transcript of Tenet's speech is appearing now. It looks like Karl Rove wrote it for him--he's repeating the same old crap about unmanned aerial vehicles, scribbled rocket drawings, and so forth.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Bring down the curtain, the Joe's over
William Saletan writes the definitive Joebituary.
aWol approves 9/11 commission time extension
The Rovian political computer must have gotten some new inputs that caused it to determine that giving the commission more time would have less negative political fallout than continuing to stonewall them and insisting that they wrap things up. Some other blogger will probably dig up the facts--I'm guessing that maybe several Republican congresscritters were starting to think the same things as Bob Graham, and privately told the White House that they'd be joining Graham in making a 9/11 stink if they didn't extend the time.

The decision, of course, didn't prevent the White House from being completely hypocritical:

"The president is pleased to support the commission's request, and we urge Congress to act quickly to extend the timetable for an additional 60 days for the commission to complete its work,'' McClellan said. The administration changed course because it became convinced the panel needed the extra time, he said.

At the same time, he urged the panel to act quickly. "If the commission has information that can help prevent another catastrophic terrorist attack on America soil, we need to have that information as soon as possible,'' McClellan said.

Right, Scotty Boy. That's why you delayed the commission's start for over a year, and have done everything possible to block its investigation since then. Here's the information you need to prevent another terrorist attack: Your boss is an incompetent, criminal greedhead and needs to go.

And here's an interesting point:
If Congress accepts Bush's recommendation, the report would arrive at the end of August, just as the presidential campaign is entering the post-Labor Day final stretch.

The end of August is when the Republican convention will be held in New York City. It's hard to imagine that the Repugs want this report to come out just as the convention is being held, unless...

Ohmygod...Unless there's another terrorist attack coming between May and August. The Bushies could then blame it on the inability of the Commission to complete the report on time, they'd get their boost in the polls from the flag-waving idiots, and no one would ever know how complicit they'd really been in 9/11.
Washington Post returns from being AWOL about aWol
Yesterday, the Post finally posted an article about Bush's highly dubious military record. The Boston Globe ran pretty much the same article back in 2000. While some of the facts are inconclusive, it appears to be irrefutable that Bush 1) got into the Texas Air National Guard through political favoritism; 2) He was none too diligent in his duties in Texas; 3) He transferred to Alabama and didn't exactly do much, if anything, for the ANG there; 4) Missed a key physical which caused him to lose his flying status, something the military frowns upon given the cost of training a pilot; and 5) Left the Guard altogether, albeit with permission, before his time was up.

But as our appointed pResident, this clown likes to dress up as a real flyboy. I don't blame Bush, or Clinton, or Dan Quayle, or my relatives who did whatever they could to avoid being sentenced to a year or two in the jungles of Vietnam. It was a stupid, pointless war. But for this strutting moron to turn around and sentence tens of thousands of others to participating in a similar quagmire based on similar lies--well, he deserves all of the ridicule he can get. And if he violated the terms of his National Guard duty, he should be punished like anyone else would have been. Impeachment would be a good start!
Hate the war, miss your job? Don't just sit there, vote for Bob!
No, I'm not running for anything. That was the campaign slogan of Florida Senator Bob Graham, who campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination for a few months last year. He was always at least close to being my second choice--he had the Senate thing going like Kerry and Edwards, the former governor thing like Dean, the southern thing like Edwards and Clark, and the voted-against-the-war thing like Kucinich. He also was on the Congressional committee that investigated 9/11, and had some scathing things to say about the multitude of failures that is the Bush administration.

Well, he's still saying them! Michelle linked to a speech Graham gave in the Senate on Monday. Unfortunately, most Americans will never hear nor read the speech. I'm lucky that Michelle found it, and I hope you're feeling lucky that I'm linking to it here! Here are some of the things Graham said:

From New York City and the Pentagon to a field in rural Pennsylvania, 9-11 demonstrated the vulnerabilities of our free society.

But in my view, and after the careful review of the Intelligence Committees, the most tragic aspect of this day never to be forgotten is that it could have been prevented. Had our intelligence agencies been better organized and more focused on the problem of international terrorism--particularly Osama bin Laden--September 11th would have been prevented.

I also have concluded that, had the President and the Congress initiated the reforms that our joint inquiry recommended, we might well have avoided the embarrassment of the flawed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction--or the misleading use of that intelligence--which formed the basis of our war against Iraq. Surely, the people of America would be safer today had these reforms been undertaken.
The fact that we conducted this bipartisan, bicameral inquiry and submitted recommendations creates a new heightened level of congressional responsibility. If the terrorists are successful in another attack in the United States, the American people will demand to know what the institutions of government learned from 9-11, and how the intelligence agencies, the White House, and the Congress used that knowledge to harden the United States against future terrorist attacks. Congress was largely able to avoid accountability for 9-11. Mark my words: There will be no avoidance of responsibility for the next attack.

There will be no avoiding responsibility for the President. September 11, 2001, was a wake up call--it told us we had severe deficiencies in our intelligence community. If 9-11 was a wake up call, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a report card on how far we have come since 9-11 in correcting the problems in our intelligence community. The grade we received on that report card is F. The President and Congress have failed to initiate the reforms recommended by a series of review panels and our bipartisan, bicameral joint committee of inquiry.
What troubles me more than the President's unwillingness to make the necessary changes is his unwillingness to even admit that our Nation has a problem. Just last week, the President responded to questions about the inaccuracies of his statements about Iraq's WMD capability by saying he has "great confidence in our intelligence community.'' How can he have great confidence in our intelligence community after it has been proven confused before September 11 and completely wrong on the threat posed by Iraq?
The intelligence component of the Department of Homeland Security was envisioned to be the one place where our domestic vulnerabilities are evaluated and mapped against all threats to the homeland. The idea was that the threats could come from a variety of sources, not just terrorists, and one agency needed to be responsible for having the entire picture on its radar screen. Unfortunately, the administration has chosen to gut the intelligence function at the Department of Homeland Security. The position of director of intelligence for the new department has been vacant for much of the time the Department has been in existence. This is indicative of the lack of attention and significance it is given. The staff is totally inadequate for the mission outlined in the legislation that established the department.
Significant evidence of foreign government involvement in the 9-11 attacks was uncovered by the joint inquiry.

It is incomprehensible why this administration has refused to aggressively pursue the leads that our inquiry developed. One example of the failure to pursue leads that point to foreign government involvement is the refusal of the FBI to aggressively follow the money trail that flowed from officials of a foreign government to at least some of the terrorists. In spite of being provided evidence by our committee, the FBI and the administration refused to use all the law enforcement tools at their disposal to follow the money trail. Why would the administration not use all of its available powers to track
this money? In addition, the question of whether other terrorists were getting similar support was not pursued. Therefore the extent of the
involvement of the foreign government has never been fully investigated. Recent press reports indicate that there is even more suspicious activity than was known at the time we issued our report.
I wish I could be more specific in discussing the involvement of foreign governments in the 9-11 plot. Unfortunately, the administration will not allow me to do so. After 7 months of effort to de-classify the report that we filed on December 20, 2002, the CIA, the FBI and other agencies decided to keep significant portions secret. In particular, there are 27 pages that were virtually completely censored. These are pages 396 through 422 from Part Four of the report, which is entitled, "Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters.''
What this indicates is that in the months following the release of our recommendation that the administration "aggressively'' address the foreign government involvement in 9-11, the Bush administration not only failed to pursue and investigate foreign government involvement, the administration misused the classification process to protect the foreign governments that may have been involved in 9-11. There is no reason for the Bush administration to continue to shield make-believe allies who are supporting, either directly or indirectly, terrorists who want to kill Americans.

Not quite right there, Senator. The truth is that there is no VALID reason for the Bushies to conceal make-believe allies. Oil kickbacks are not valid reasons, but they are reasons.

Anyhow, great speech, Senator Graham! In think Graham is considered a likely vice-presidential candidate, especially if a northerner wins the nomination. He would be an excellent choice, IMHO.
Bad news, Good news
The incredibly bad news is that Joe Lieberman was apparently right when he said last July:
I don't believe the American people are going to elect for president in 2004, post 9/11, in an unsettled world, a candidate who has been opposed to the use of military power against a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein.

The good news, such as it is, is that it won't be Lieberman.

The whole process just makes me ill. The Republican media has played the Democrats masterfully. By pretending that Dean was a liberal and giving him front-runner status (magazine covers, etc.), they pulled a lot of supporters away from the truly progressive anti-war candidate, Kucinich. In the process, they also marginalized Kucinich, suggesting that Dean was as far left as the Dems could go and still have a chance (how pathetic is that?). Then, after building Dean up to inevitable status, they squashed him like a bug. In his place we have the pro-war, dull, stands-for-nothing Kerry, from whom corporate America has nothing to fear.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Revisionist Historians
The Bushies and their apologists are now trying to blame the CIA for suggesting that Iraq had WMD's. A year ago, these same people were trying to blame the CIA for suggesting that Iraq didn't have WMD's. Slacktivist presents a basic chronology of their arguments:

Sept. 2002: The CIA is underrepresenting the threat posed by Iraq.

Oct. 2002: The CIA needs to stop claiming that the White House is overstating the threat posed by Iraq.

Early 2003: In the battle between the White House and the CIA, the White House is right and the CIA is wrong: Iraq poses a far more serious threat than the CIA will admit.

Late 2003: Everyone agreed all along about the nature of the threat posed by Iraq. There never was a battle over the intelligence between the CIA and the White House.

Early 2004: The CIA overrepresented the threat posed by Iraq, overwhelming the White House in the battle over the intelligence.

I've read most of Slacktivist's links and searched for evidence documenting this progression (most comes from an idiot columnist at the Washington Post). My googling so far is coming up a little short. I'm hoping Billmon will come up with the definitive quote collection, as he usually does.
Bush writes his own epitaph
"We know he was a danger. And he was not only a danger to people in the free world, he was a danger to his own people. He slaughtered thousands of people, imprisoned people." (Quoted in the Guardian)
Mr. Rumsfeld, meet Mr. Blair
Why don't you two just double-talk each other to death?

"What is true about David Kay's evidence, and this is something I have to accept as one of the reasons why I think we now need a further inquiry ...we have not found stockpiles of actual weapons," Mr. Blair told the legislators [Tuesday].

"What is untrue is to say that he is saying that there was no weapons of mass destruction program or capability, and that Saddam was not a threat."
-- Globe and Mail

As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know. -- Donald Rumsfeld, February 12, 2002

Janet Jackson exposes a boob.
Why has this man not been arrested?
Asked if he would have recommended an invasion knowing Iraq had no prohibited weapons, Powell replied: "I don't know, because it was the stockpile that presented the final little piece that made it more of a real and present danger and threat to the region and to the world." He said the "absence of a stockpile changes the political calculus; it changes the answer you get." -- Colin Liar Powell, in an interview with the Washington Post.

If there had been any real evidence of weapons, the UN inspectors would have found them. Powell was the one most responsible for convincing people that there were weapons, and now he's saying that the absence of a stockpile changes the answer you get. That is, no shock, no awe, no hundreds of Americans killed, thousands wounded, and many times those numbers of Iraqi killed and wounded. As I've said about a dozen times in the past week, the UN inspections may not have proved that weapons didn't exist, but they did prove that Powell's "evidence" was crap. Absolutely no excuse for going to war.

Monday, February 02, 2004

President Bush is calling for an investigation into why Janet Jackson's left breast wasn't uncovered as well.
Bush, Blair, Hitler, Milosevic
All nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Oh well; Menachim Begin, Yasser Arafat and Henry Kissinger have Nobel Peace Prizes. So why not? A Golden Globe award means more. (Sorry, Jimmy Carter!)
Halliburton--a real WMD
Body and Soul reports, based on a Wall Street Journal article that I don't have access to, that our friends at Halliburton charged us $16 million for 4 million meals NOT served to troops in Kuwait over a seven-month period last year.

We really need a corporate death penalty; Halliburton's charter should be revoked, and its shareholders and execs forced to pay back the millions, probably billions, that they have bilked from us over the decades. And I agree with many who suggest that Dick Cheney should be the first "man" on Mars.
Bushism of the decade?
What we don't know yet is what we thought... -- aWol today, in a White House Photo Op
Tigers decide not to go for the record
Last summer, the Detroit Tigers fell one loss short of the major-league record for losses in a season, winning five of their last six to finish at 43 wins and 119 losses. Rather than trying to build on this, they've ruined it all by going out and getting some good players, topped by today's signing of catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, who led the Florida Marlins to the World Series championship last year.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled political rants.
Congressman calls for investigation into Smith bribery allegations
About friggin' time! (Rep. Nick Smith, R-MI, stated after the Medicare vote in November that offers of $100,000 for his son's 2004 campaign were made, contingent on Smith's voting for the Medicare bill. Smith refused the bribe and voted against the bill.)
We'll take our Bush-bashing wherever we can find it
Today it comes from the Ann Arbor News business section:
Each year the president of the United States picks a cabinet member to sit out the State of the Union address in a secret location in case the Capitol is bombed.
This year President Bush chose his old Texas oil-drillin' buddy, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, to be a scud missile away from the presidency when he gave his address on Jan. 20. That selection must have scared the bejabbers out of Michigan's beleaguered manufacturers.

Evans has been about as helpful to them as the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce in keeping jobs and manufacturing work in America.
While Evans has taken the brunt of criticism from manufacturers, the buck ultimately stops at Bush.

Nevertheless, Evans, who's chairing Bush's re-election campaign, is the administration's public face on those policies. And it's a face that many manufacturers find unsettling, to say the least.

Unfortunately, the candidate who would probably do the most for these manufacturers, Dennis Kucinich, has been so marginalized by the media that most of them have probably never heard of him. NAFTA and the WTO have put these manufacturers in direct competition with factories in Mexico and Asia where wages are just a tiny fraction of even our minimum wage, unions don't exist, and neither do environmental laws. Kucinich would cancel these economy-destroying treaties as his first act as president.
Patriot Acts
Kudos to Michigan alums Tom Brady and Ty Law, and their teammates, on their second Super Bowl victory in three years. Shame on some of their fans, especially the moron who ran over four people with his SUV, killing one.

From the always-brilliant Jen Sorensen.

From Ted Rall.
Bob to Bush: SHUT UP!
"Our nation remains at war," Bush said in his budget message. "This nation has committed itself to the long war against terror. And we will see that war to its inevitable conclusion: the destruction of the terrorists."
President Bush sent Congress a $2.4 trillion election-year budget on Monday featuring big increases for defense and homeland security but also a record $521 billion deficit.
Bush would boost military spending by 7 percent in 2005, but that does not include the money needed to keep troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Officials said a supplemental request for these funds will be sent to Congress but not until after the November elections. Congress last year approved an $87.5 billion wartime supplemental for the current budget year.
To battle the soaring deficits, Bush proposed squeezing scores of government programs and sought outright spending cuts in seven of 16 Cabinet-level agencies. The Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency were targeted for the biggest reductions.
-- Washington Post

What a vile, miserable excuse for a human being Bush is. We're only "at war" because of him, and he intends to bankrupt the nation. We really need to impeach the bastard; 11 1/2 months is too long to leave him with his hands on the buttons.
They'll show horses farting and Janet Jackson's breast...
but CBS wouldn't show MoveOn's Bush in 30 seconds ad.

I TiVo'd through most of the ads and the halftime, so I missed some of the excitement until I read about it this morning. I suspect things were kind of like this right before Rome fell.
PLEASE not Kerry!
In my judgment, the Security Council should authorize a strong U.N. military response that will materially damage, if not totally destroy, as much as possible of the suspected infrastructure for developing and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, as well as key military command and control nodes. Saddam Hussein should pay a grave price, in a currency that he understands and values, for his unacceptable behavior.

This should not be a strike consisting only of a handful of cruise missiles hitting isolated targets primarily of presumed symbolic value. But how long this military action might continue and how it may escalate should Saddam remain intransigent and how extensive would be its reach are for the Security Council and our allies to know and for Saddam Hussein ultimately to find out.

George W. Bush, 2002? Nope. John Kerry, 1997.

Kucinich has all the right positions, and would be a great president. Dean at least opposed the war, and Clark or Edwards would blow Bush away in a debate. Kerry is a Gore-dull "free-trade" hawk. The powers that be, including the media, have decided that he's the guy. They're not worried that he might beat Bush; they win either way. I was very disappointed to hear Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm endorse Kerry. Coming at this late date in the process, it is clearly a case of cynical bandwagon-jumping. The right-wing media (aka the media) knew that Kerry was too dull to survive front-runner status through all of 2003, so they built up Dean, giving him full hours on Sunday talk shows and magazine covers galore. Then they started to portray him as angry and volatile, finishing him off in a quick week surrounding the Iowa caucuses. They suggested that his "volatility" made him unelectable, meaning that Democrats should resort to "electable" Mr. Dull just like in 2000.

So please, please don't vote for Kerry if you've still got a vote to give in a caucus or primary. He's better than Bush, just not by enough.
It's Groundhog Day, 2004
Probably the first time through for most of you, but I'm on number 917, with no sign yet that I'm getting it right. D'oh!

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Scott Ritter supports Kucinich
A Kucinich rally was held at the Capitol (Santa Fe, NM) on Friday and featured former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter, an early critic of the war in Iraq.

Ritter, a former U.S. Marine, was a weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. He has been a vocal critical of the Bush administration's policy on Iraq.

Ritter said he is a registered Republican who voted for Bush in 2000, but he won't this year "because I feel so strongly about holding him accountable for what he's done in our name."

Ritter called Iraq "the defining issue of our time" and said Kucinich is the only Democratic candidate with a plan to get the United States out of Iraq.

Kucinich might not end up the party's nominee, Ritter acknowledged. But his proposal for a Department of Peace to ensure the United States doesn't head down a path of destruction is "something that every single Democratic candidate must embrace if we are to survive as a nation."

Cyndy at MouseMusings reminds us of the antebellum days when Ritter, Kucinich and Hans Blix were being abused by the Republitrons and the media (but I repeat myself) for saying that Iraq didn't have WMD's. Cyndy says:

David Kay said "We were all wrong". Perhaps it's time to acknowledge Dennis Kucinich and Scott Ritter were right.

They still are. I went to a Kucinich rally at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing yesterday. We're hoping for a great result next Saturday, but it is discouraging. If half of the people who say "I love Dennis, but he doesn't have a chance" would vote for him, he'd have a great chance. I don't understand this argument at all at this point. You're not going to cause Bush to be re-elected because you vote for somebody you like in February. There will be plenty of time to jump on the "anybody but Bush" bandwagon (and Kerry certainly fits that description) later if necessary. But if you really care about peace, universal health care, and fair trade, voting for Kucinich is the best way to say that.
Twin bombings in Northern Iraq kill at least 56
Two suicide bombers struck the offices of two U.S.-backed Kurdish parties in near-simultaneous attacks Sunday as hundreds of Iraqis gathered to celebrate a Muslim holiday. At least 56 people were killed and more than 235 were wounded, officials said.

One Kurdish minister said the death toll could exceed 100. The U.S. command in Baghdad put the casualty toll at 56 dead and more than 200 were injured. Kurdish officials said 57 were dead and the count could go higher.
-- AP

From R. J. Matson.
Polling the cartoonists
Regular blog readers know that I enjoy browsing the political cartoons. I generally do this by going to Slate's political cartoon page. They've got twelve pages of cartoons from all over the political spectrum. I decided to do my own informal poll of the cartoons displayed there today that relate to David Kay's statements about there being no WMD's in Iraq. I found 23 such cartoons, and was very pleased to see that no one attempted to promote the Bush line that the invasion was worth it despite no weapons being found (the hardest core wingnut cartoonists took the opportunity to poke fun at Kerry or Dean or something). All 23 cartoons basically agreed that there was a massive failure here; the main disagreement was whether to blame the CIA or Bush. (Whatever happened to "The buck stops here?") Anyway, here are my informal results: Ten cartoons blame the CIA, nine blame Bush, and four seem to pretty much blame both, or just recognize that something was screwed up badly without assigning blame. I think the best of the whole bunch, which comes from the "blame Bush" category, was this one:

From Doug Marlette.

Here are the ten cartoons that blame the CIA:
Steve Sack
Bill Day
Henry Payne
John Deering
Chris Britt
Matt Davies
Jack Ohman
Vic Harville
Kirk Walters
Larry Wright

Here are the nine that blame Bush:
Mark Streeter
Doug Marlette
Corky Trinidad
Drew Sheneman
Gary Markstein
Steve Breen
Kirk Anderson
Nick Anderson
Mike Keefe

Here are the four that seemed more or less neutral as to whom to blame:
Jimmy Margulies
Marshall Ramsey
Bruce Beattie
Mike Lester

Sorry to make you click so much to see them all, but I probably push the "fair use" clause of copyright law to the limit as is, and the loading time for this page would be pretty long if I displayed all those cartoons directly.

From Mike Keefe.
The Rummy Speaks!

The whole strip is here.