Bob's Links and Rants
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 John Sherffius.

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:

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.

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