Bob's Links and Rants
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 Gary Markstein.

From Rob Rogers.

From Chris Britt.

From Jeff Danziger.

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.

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