Bob's Links and Rants
Saturday, March 06, 2004
Ministry of Truth, Washington Division
Eli at Left I dissects a hideous Washington Post editorial (but I repeat myself) from Friday. Hugo Chavez, the democratically-elected president of Venezuela, presided over amendments to that nation's constitution. One of the amendments was a recall provision, which the wealthy opposition in Venezuela is trying to use against Chavez. The commission appointed to validate the signatures on the petitions ruled that many were invalid. The Post considers this to be a "coup," and suggests that our unelected autocratic mentiroso-in-chief step in and overthrow Chavez like, well, like he's doing all over the world. Of course, this is just what aWol wants to hear; he and the editors at the Post work for the same people. Hint: It ain't you, it ain't me, and it certainly isn't the vast majority of the people in Venezuela.
Still Here!
Just busy, tired, uninspired
Hazy, lazy, somewhat crazy
Furious, curious, somewhat self-injurious
Tellin' hokey little jokey, singin' silly Kerry-oke
Bit more joggin', bit less bloggin', maybe straighten out my noggin'.
Back tomorrow? Probably! Please log on to check and see!
Friday, March 05, 2004
Oh, horrors!
Gasoline prices may rise this summer. May I suggest something like excommunication for the first Democrat who suggests that something must be done to bring prices down, such as tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? Low gasoline prices have kept us from moving towards energy independence, have polluted our air and blotted our landscape, and contribute to the 40,000 annual highway fatalities. Both Iraq wars were fought in large part to keep gasoline prices low, and the Bushies are trying to overthrow Venezuela's democratically-elected president for the same reason.

I don't want any oil execs or Saudi sheiks getting any richer than they already are, but higher gasoline prices would be one of the quickest ways to restore this country to sanity and to protect what's left of our environment. I was going to vote for Gore in 2000 until he called for tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which demonstrated to me that all his talk about protecting the environment was just that--talk. If the Democrats are concerned about shortages, they should demand an increase in gasoline taxes, not further destructive measures (drilling and wars) to increase supplies.

By both world and historical standards, gasoline is cheap. Given the ultimate limits on the world supply of oil and the damage caused by extracting, refining and burning it, gasoline is being wrecklessly given away. Any politician who adds lower gasoline prices to his platform is not to be trusted, or voted for. I suggested to someone last week that I'd like to see the true cost of gasoline passed directly to the consumer. How about a sign on the pump like this:

87 Octane: $11.99.9 per gallon, plus one week on the front lines in Tikrit.

Things would get better in a big hurry.
What's less than nothing?
The Bush administration's claim that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaida - one of the administration's central arguments for a pre-emptive war - appears to have been based on even less solid intelligence than the administration's claims that Iraq had hidden stocks of chemical and biological weapons. -- from a Knight-Ridder report, which Juan Cole boils down to its essence:

1. Although it is true that Abdul Rahman Yasin, a suspect in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was attempting to hide out in Iraq, Saddam offered to turn him over to the FBI in 1998 in return for US
acknowledgment that Iraq was not involved in that incident. The Clinton administration declined the deal. Cheney cited the continued "harboring" by Iraq of Yasin as one "proof" of an Iraq-al-Qaeda connection. Yeah, Saddam and Yasin were obviously really tight.

2. Bin Laden is said to have refused an offer in 1998 to go to Iraq, made by Iraqi intelligence officer Farouk Hijazi. A report made available to the CIA, however, said that Bin Laden declined the offer because he did not want to have Saddam's agenda dictated to him. The Knight-Ridder team does not point this out, but if you read this item in conjunction with # 1 above, it seems entirely possible that Saddam thought the US wouldn't deal for Yasin because he wasn't a big enough fish, and went looking for a more important terrorist to trade them for the US favors he wanted.

3. Cheney tried to tie Saddam to Abu Mus`ab Zarqawi. Such ties haven't been proven, but even if they were, it seems clear from the Zarqawi letter that he was not part of Bin Laden's group and only lately tried to get money from Bin Laden.

4. The US charged that Saddam was training terrorists at Salman Pak. The US military has found no evidence of such a training facility at Salman Pak,
according to Seymour Hersh
. There certainly were no chemical weapons there.

5. Then there was the canard about Iraqi intelligence offical al-Ani meeting with Muhammad Atta in Prague. CIA director George Tenet has flatly denied this report, and the FBI discounted it long ago.

6. Bin Laden/Iraq contacts in Sudan in the early 1990s, even if they did occur, led to no operational cooperation whatsoever.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Democratic candidate for president could actually make a big deal out of the total illegality of the war in Iraq? But the only way to get accomplices to turn on crime bosses is to threaten them with prosecution and offer a deal for testimony. Unfortunately, there's no court in the world that can do that to Kerry.
If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all
Ashcroft Hospitalized With Pancreatitis

Attorney General John Ashcroft has been hospitalized in an intensive care unit for a severe case of gallstone pancreatitis, his chief spokesman said Friday.
Symptoms include sudden, severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and fever.

Thursday, March 04, 2004
The Best Bush-Bash Book...
...that I've read, by far, is Kevin Phillips American Dynasty, which I just finished. I'm trying to remember some of the other books I've read: Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country?, Scott Ritter's Frontier Justice, and a couple of others. Most were interesting in some respects and provided me with a few new bits of information, but for the most part they pretty much told the same stories that are recounted in this blog. That is, I already knew about most of them.

And I knew many of the things Phillips said, as well, but he makes a convincing and fairly new-to-me case of the corruption and danger posed by the Bush family dynasty. When George H. W. Bush said that Saddam Hussein was "worse than Hitler," it was more than just rhetorical hyperbole. Bush Sr. knew all about Saddam Hussein and his weapons, because he had been instrumental in supplying those weapons to Saddam through most of the 1980's, and even well into 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. And he may well have known about Hitler from conversations with his father, whose finance firm helped to bankroll Nazi Germany's military buildup in the 1930's and into the early years of World War II.

Phillips recounts the three major foreign-policy scandals connected to G. H. W. Bush during his years as vice president and president: the October Surprise, Iran-Contra, and "Iraqgate." Here is Phillips' description of Iraqgate:

The third scandal, Iraqgate, was also the most prejudicial to the public's high-flying early-1991 perception of Bush as a successful Persian Gulf war leader. Discussion of Bush's prewar aid to Iraq had grown intense--witness the remarks which a grave Ted Koppel had opened ABC News Nightline on June 9, 1992: "It is becoming increasingly clear that George Bush, operating largely behind the scenes through the 1980's, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence and military help that built Saddam's Iraq into the aggressive power that the United States ultimately had to destroy."

Basically, the clear impression you get from reading Phillips' book is that the Bushes are probably THE greatest crime family in history. Hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps millions, have died, legitimate governments overthrown, dictators installed and armed, money stolen, laws galore broken, all so this huge genetic defect can grab and hold power. Recalling that Bush Sr. crashed his plane in the Pacific in World War II and was rescued by a Navy boat, I'll offer again my paraphrase of Trent Lott's tribute to Strom Thurmond: If the Navy hadn't pulled George H. W. Bush out of the Pacific, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years.

And frankly, I think all Bushes should be barred from ever holding office again (well, except maybe cellblock captain). And the same applies to any secret-society buddies of his.
Ted Rall has been removed from the NY Times web site
The New Pravda, as Billmon calls it, moves even further to the right.

From Dwane Powell.

From Milt Priggee.
Am I missing something?
Or is this cartoon suggesting that we all need assault rifles because Osama is going to raid our refrigerators?

From John Deering.
The November 3 Movement
As those of you still reading this blog after my increasingly bitter posts of the past few days are undoubtedly aware, I'm not a fan of John Forbes Kerry. I've been thrashing about, wondering what I might do next. I certainly don't want four more years of Bush. I don't want four years of Kerry either. And I'm a bit exhausted from fighting the losing battle for a candidate I really like, so I can't get excited about jumping off the Kucinich bandwagon onto Nader's when both wagons seem to have four flat tires, and the parade is on another planet anyway. About the best I could come up with was that I could support candidates that I really like, like Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and my local mayor John Hieftje and councilwoman Kim Groome. If that brings out the vote for Kerry, I can live with that. I just don't think I can ASK people to vote for Kerry. But that was all the plan I had--until I read Sam Smith's latest.

Smith's article is titled The Election is Over; We Lost. Here's how it starts:

The winner is a supporter of three of the worst government decisions of our time: the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, and the Bush education law.

He is a Yale graduate and a member of a secret society of dubious values and influence. He is arrogant with the sense of self-entitlement of the fully privileged yet has done little in life to justify this self esteem. And he is a tenured and servile member of an establishment that has trashed the Constitution, badly weakened the economy, made us hated around the world, and effectively brought to the end of the First American Republic.

To be sure there will be a consolation runoff in which we get to decide who we would rather do battle against for the next four years. This choice of battleground is not an insignificant matter but neither is it what a democratic election is supposed to be about. It is more like a cancer patient choosing between surgery and chemotherapy. We don't have to wait for Katherine Harris; this election has already been fixed.

In other words, Smith sees Kerry the same way I do. But he offers a decent option: The November 3 Movement. November 3 is the day after the election. Smith suggests that progressives should start organizing now to be the opposition to whoever wins on November 2. Smith's one rule is for organizing is that election 2004 strategy is not open for discussion. Those supporting Kerry can't criticize the Naderites, and vice versa. Agree on the progressive agenda without destroying the progressive movement over election tactics.

Smith has lots of good ideas in his article, but in my current bitter mood my favorite was this:

There are many who might vote for Kerry but who would never include themselves among his 'supporters.' If those preaching so loudly about getting rid of Bush would quiet down for a minute, they might discover that the best way to achieve their end might be to hand out airplane barf bags with the inscription, "Vote for Kerry."


From Mike Thompson.

I know, I should be a good little Bush-hater and rally behind JFK, no matter how awful he is. But if there's any lesson for me to learn from the past two years, it is this: What I say doesn't matter. So I'll just add on to Thompson's list:

I'm still pissed at that MoveOn comment: "We're all ready to put aside our small differences." War, no war. NAFTA, no NAFTA. These are real, life and death issues, not "small differences." Bush and Kerry are on the wrong side of them. I am not ready to put that aside. I don't know what I'm ready to do, but supporting Kerry isn't it.
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
MoveOn sells out
I saw this coming, but it's still disappointing.

And after a race that Republicans hoped would be deeply divisive, our unity is even more clear. We're all ready to put aside our small differences and focus on the big goal: a new President. -- from a MoveOn e-mail I just got.

I'm sorry, guys, but anti-war versus pro-war is not a "small difference," and I'm not ready to put it aside. I resent MoveOn's claiming we're all ready to do so. They claim to be anti-war, but in reality they're just Democrats, and wimpy ones at that. My big goal is a more peaceful world, and right now I can't see how a Kerry presidency contributes to that.
Still in Mourning
I can't get into blogging today. What's the point in further pointing out the crimes of Bush when the Democratic candidate was an accomplice in many of them, and appears to have no desire to make an issue of them? Karl Rove must be smiling right now. All those cartoons and op-eds about how excited the Repugs were about facing Dean were run for this very purpose. While vulnerable on every front, Bush is most vulnerable because of his lying us into war. That flank has now been covered.

But, in case anyone is relying on me as a news source, here are the headlines:

Haiti's a mess;
Venezuelan panel decides against recall, saying many of the petitions were fraudulent; (BTW, in Kerry's speech he berated Bush for not funding the National Endowment for Democracy sufficiently--the NED has been spending its endowment funding the coup leaders against the democratically-elected president in Haiti and the opposition against the democratically-elected president of Venezuela).
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
A very sad day for America
Demand nothing, and that's what you get. It looks like Kerry will win nine of the ten primaries and lock up the Democratic nomination. This is bad news for those of us who have been out protesting against the Bush wars for over two years. If you think that Kerry would be better than Bush on foreign policy, read his speech from Friday. I think Paul Wolfowitz wrote it for him.

And the Republicans have him boxed in a corner. Bush has done horrible things in every way, and the only clear case Kerry is going to make is for raising taxes! The war is the worst Bush crime, and Kerry not only wasn't a critic, he was and is an accomplice.

In the past, I bemoaned the awful choices the two parties gave us for president, and in the last three elections I rejected both. But I was never anywhere near as well-informed and involved as I am now. I've marched in anti-war marches, passed out fliers, hung door tags in South Bend at 4 am, even made those awful phone calls, all in hopes that we'd have a real choice in 2004. In the first Democratic debate last May, there were five candidates who were at least nominally anti-war: Kucinich, Dean, Graham, Sharpton, and Mosely-Braun. Wesley Clark joined the race later. Any one of them could have faced George W. Bush in a debate and said "You took us to war illegally and for no apparent reason. Hundreds of Americans and thousands of others are dead, many more wounded, and the cost to the taxpayers is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Iraq posed no danger that demanded an attack, and there certainly was no need to hurry while the inspections were going on. You violated the highest trust of your office, and you don't deserve another minute in office."

Kerry's just going to muddle around about tactics, and his telling blow will be "Let's raise taxes."

I think the tax cuts were a huge mistake and need to be rescinded, but how Democrats can think that Kerry is going to be more electable than an anti-war candidate is beyond my comprehension. Well, maybe not. The Republican media has been telling them for two months that Kerry is electable, and they believed the media over their own eyes and ears. In September, the same media will tell them that Kerry is not electable.

I kind of enjoy the politicking (except the phone calls), but I will NOT be working for Kerry. Maybe I'll help Feingold, and I'll help our mayor and city councilwoman get re-elected. I'll help with voter registration, which will probably help Kerry indirectly. But I won't work for Kerry, because I can't come up with a good reason why people should vote for him. If you think I'm over-reacting, go read his stupid speech again. If you don't like war, you can't like Kerry.
Sixty Minutes
Is the longest that Karl Rove thinks that W can manage to stonewall the 9/11 commission without giving away the game. And not the whole commission, either. Just the Republican chairman and the neo-Republican co-chairman. The Center for American Progress makes a few interesting points:

See Uggabugga for a dramatic display of Bush's commitment to the truth.
NAFTA...ugh...What is it good for?
Absolutely nuthin'.

Ten years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement was sold to the people of the United States, Mexico and Canada as a simple treaty eliminating tariffs on goods crossing the three countries' borders. But NAFTA is much more: It is the constitution of an emerging continental economy that recognizes one citizen -- the business corporation. It gives corporations extraordinary protections from government policies that might limit future profits, and extraordinary rights to force the privatization of virtually all civilian public services. Disputes are settled by secret tribunals of experts, many of whom are employed privately as corporate lawyers and consultants. At the same time, NAFTA excludes protections for workers, the environment and the public that are part of the social contract established through long political struggle in each of the countries.

As Jorge Casta?eda, Mexico's recent foreign secretary, observed, NAFTA was "an accord among magnates and potentates: an agreement for the rich and powerful...effectively excluding ordinary people in all three societies." Thus was NAFTA a model for the neoliberal governance of the global economy.
As soon as the ink was dry on NAFTA, US factories began to shift production to maquiladora factories along the border, where the Mexican government assures a docile labor force and virtually no environmental restrictions. The US trade surplus with Mexico quickly turned into a deficit, and since then at least a half-million jobs have been lost, many of them in small towns and rural areas where there are no job alternatives.

Meanwhile, Mexico's overall growth rate has been half of what it needs to be just to generate enough jobs for its growing labor force. The NAFTA-inspired strategy of export-led growth undermined Mexican industries that sold to the domestic market as well as the sixty-year-old social bargain in which workers and peasant farmers shared the benefits of growth in exchange for their support for a privileged oligarchy. NAFTA provided the oligarchs with new partners -- the multinational corporations -- allowing them to abandon their obligations to their fellow Mexicans. Average real wages in Mexican manufacturing are actually lower than they were ten years ago. Two and a half million farmers and their families have been driven out of their local markets and off their land by heavily subsidized US and Canadian agribusiness. For most Mexicans, half of whom live in poverty, basic food has gotten even more expensive: Today the Mexican minimum wage buys less than half the tortillas it bought in 1994. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans continue to risk their lives crossing the border to get low-wage jobs in the United States.
-- from the Economic Policy Institute

My suggestion to the Nader haters
Stop paying attention to Ralph. Start paying attention to what he says. If you want me to vote for the Democrat instead of Ralph, have him say some of the things Ralph says. If you want me to vote for Ralph, keep insulting him. It just further demonstrates that you don't have any valid answers to his questions.

I got an e-mail from the "Council for a Liveable World" asking me to send Ralph a letter asking him to drop out. I told them they should instead ask Kerry to drop out, and then removed my name from their e-mail list. I remember they were raising money for Democratic congressional candidates in 2002, using opposition to war in Iraq as the main selling point. But after the October 11 vote, CLW continued to raise money for Kerry and the other phoneys, without even mentioning their despicable votes.
Ultra-Conservative model with compassionate disguise. Not designed for poor people. Guaranteed to increase carbon dioxide emissions. Use carefully around national debt.

Note: Bushocchio is not a real Naval Aviator. Some of our competitors have been marketing Presidential Action Figures that give this impression, but really the guy is an AWOL chickenhawk. Do not be fooled by imitations.

Last-minute plea!
If you live in California or Ohio or New York or any other state having a primary today, and you haven't voted yet, and you prefer peace to war--PLEASE read John Kerry's speech from last Friday. US domestic policy would probably improve under Kerry, but it sounds like foreign policy will get even worse. ABBOK, I say! (Anybody but Bush or Kerry.)

This war isn't just a manhunt-- a checklist of names from a deck of cards. In it, we do not face just one man or one terrorist group. We face a global jihadist movement of many groups, from different sources, with separate agendas, but all committed to assaulting the United States and free and open societies around the globe.

As CIA Director George Tenet recently testified: "They are not all creatures of bin Laden, and so their fate is not tied to his. They have autonomous leadership, they pick their own targets, they plan their own attacks."

At the core of this conflict is a fundamental struggle of ideas. Of democracy and tolerance against those who would use any means and attack any target to impose their narrow views.

The War on Terror is not a clash of civilizations. It is a clash of civilization against chaos; of the best hopes of humanity against dogmatic fears of progress and the future.

I'm sick of having a president who spouts this kind of racist BS, and I sure don't want another one. The US doesn't face a global jihadist movement--it is one, and Kerry's a part of it.

Much more on Haiti
And on the news coverage from CNN (yay!) and the NY Times and Washington Post (boo!) comes from Billmon, including several more links. I called my senators yesterday to complain about this latest U.S.-backed coup. I respectfully suggest that you do the same. With Bush's popularity and credibility low, and at least some of the mainstream media raising at least a few questions about this latest American coup, a few hundred phone calls might put enough spine in a few congresscritters to make a real stink about this. All members of Congress can be reached toll-free through the capitol switchboard: 800-839-5276.
Whose side is the New York Times on?
You need look no farther than their headlines:
Not "Opposition's Plan to Recall Chavez Faces Setback in Venezuela." No, the plan belongs to Venezuelans, apparently all of them, including the 80% or so who voted for Chavez, according to the Times. And not "Aristide describes U.S.-led Coup." No, he's just a bitter old nut.

Even CNN, hardly a progressive source, has headlines that are a lot less biased:
Sunday, Billmon got in touch with his inner Ann Coulter by expressing disappointment that the global-warming tidal wave in the upcoming movie "The Day After Tomorrow" probably wouldn't reach the Times building in Manhattan. I'm starting to agree with him (as long as Krugman and Herbert are safe).
Quote du Jour
Mr. Greenspan pushed through an increase in taxes on working Americans, generating a Social Security surplus. Then he used that surplus to argue for tax cuts that deliver very little relief to most people, but are worth a lot to those making more than $300,000 a year. And now that those tax cuts have contributed to a soaring deficit, he wants to cut Social Security benefits. -- Paul Krugman
A couple of articles on Haiti from my e-mail:
Haitians in Haiti are being slaughtered
The Cocaine Coup & The CIA Connection
It happened on American Idol:

When it came down to the big, bear-like black guy against the skinny white guy.

Wouldn't it be great...

If the same thing happened again? (Although I'd rather have the white guy win this time.)

Sorry! I fear that what little is left of my Kucinich dream will be shattered by this evening. Californians and New Yorkers and the rest will largely vote for whom they are told to vote, not for whom they want nor for whom would actually provide real hope for change. I think I'll go hide in the corner for a while.
Gestapo's Birthday
Today is the first anniversary of the founding of the Department of Homeland Security (Gestapo). This Orwellian mishmash of lucrative contract awards and color-coded alerts was the brain fart of Senator Joe Lieberman. It was co-opted by George Worthless Bush in 2002 after he had opposed it for many months as a way to distract attention from his multitude of failings which enabled the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Exceedingly expensive, poorly coordinated, and apparently still pretty much unclear about what the heck it is doing, DHS is, like most items in Bush's (and Kerry's) platforms, politics at its worst.

Here's a little DHS-related passage from Kevin Phillips' book, American Dynasty:

The defense business, soon fleshed out by companies providing homeland security services, was one of the few to flourish through the bear market.

Homeland security became a cornucopia as the new Homeland Security Departments's annual budget hit $40 billion, and hundreds of Secretary Tom Ridge's former aides and other insiders registered to lobby for companies seeking a slice of the pie. "Homeland Security appears to be viewed by the lobbying firms as a huge honeypot," complained Fred Wertheimer, president of the public interest group Democracy 21.

Those better connected than former Ridge aides had found the pot of gold within months of 9/11. Marvin Bush, the brother of George W. Bush, was a large shareholder--through his Winston Partners investment firm--in Sybase, which marketed a "Sybase PATRIOT Compliance Solution" to put companies and banks in compliance with the anti-money-laundering provisions of the 2001 USA Patriot Act. Clients included the People's Bank of China and Sumitomo Mitsubishi Bank. Former CIA director James Woolsey, a leading neoconservative, was a principal of the Paladin Capital Group, a private firm investing in companies that defended against terrorist attacks; Richard Perle had a stake in the Autonomy Corporation, a supplier of eavesdropping equipment to intelligence agencies.

L. Paul Bremer III, the antiterrorist expert named by Bush to govern Iraq in May 2003, was profiled this way by The Nation a month later: "On October 11, 2001, just one month after the terror attacks in New York and Washington, [Bremer,] once Ronald Reagan's Ambassador at Large for counter-terrorism, launched a company designed to capitalize on the new atmosphere of fear in U.S. corporate boardrooms. Crisis Consulting Practice, a division of insurance giant Marsh and McLennan, specializes in helping multinationals come up with 'integrated and comprehensive crisis solutions' for everything from terror attacks to accounting fraud."
-- Kevin Phillips, American Dynasty, pp. 273-274.

It goes on and on and on. For decades, the Bush family and their capitalist cronies have had enormous stakes in world instability and war. They got rich off of Vietnam; they got rich off the Iran-Iraq war; they got rich from Nicaragua and El Salvador and Panama; and they're still getting rich from 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti. They have no interest in world peace; exactly the opposite is the case.

So happy birthday, Homeland Security! Here's hoping it's your last!
Over 100 killed in Iraq bombings
More blood on the hands of our miserable failure of a pResident.
Monday, March 01, 2004
My upcoming trip to Venezuela just got more interesting
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez just called Bush an 'asshole' for, he said, supporting a short-lived coup in 2002 that briefly toppled him. -- Reuters

"Mr. Bush must know that if he gets the mad idea of trying to blockade Venezuela, or, even worse, of invading Venezuela, if that happened, the people of the United States should know that not a drop of oil would reach them from Venezuela, not a drop more," Chavez told tens of thousands of cheering supporters.

Now where would Chavez get the idea that the U.S. might invade Venezuela? (I say as the Marines are landing in Haiti.)
Grocery Workers Ratify Agreement
The 20-week strike was the longest in U.S. grocery history.
Aristide kidnapped by U.S. troops?
From the NarcoNews:

A man who said he was a caretaker for the now exiled president told France's RTL radio station the troops forced Aristide out.

"The American army came to take him away at two in the morning," the man said.

"The Americans forced him out with weapons.

"It was American soldiers. They came with a helicopter and they took the security guards.

"(Aristide) was not happy. He did not want to be taken away. He did not want to leave. He was not able to fight against the Americans..."

Put down the chalupa!
United Students Against Sweatshops is organizing a boycott and protest against Taco Bell because of the slave wages paid to the workers who grow and pick their tomatoes. Go here to register your protest with Taco Bell brass.
C'mon California: Kerry?
From an article by Stephen Dinan:

With current polls showing John Kerry leading at 60% for the California primary next Tuesday, I begin to wonder if our culture of innovation, independence and frontier adventure is beginning to fade.

C'mon California: Kerry?

Two months ago, Kerry hardly registered on the radar here. Most thought him too patrician, too dull, or at least too conservative on issues from the Iraq war to NAFTA to gay marriage. Few people in California contributed to his campaign. Top honors went to Dean and Kucinich in terms of donors and number of volunteers. Both have revolutionary fire and some shoot-from-the-hip West Coast attitude. They are bold, authentic, and willing to rattle conventional opinion. They give speeches straight from the heart and aren't afraid to go off script.

Kerry is safe. He is the frightened man's bet for the race against Bush. He's the compromise candidate, a man about whom we will say, "I suppose that's the best we could hope for." He has the pedigree, the power broker network, the height, and the moderate positions on everything. When many people I know talk about voting for Kerry, it is with a sigh of resignation rather than the hurrah of freedom.

It does not have to be this way.

Californians have been seduced by the media trance that has ordained Kerry the winner. However, we in California are supposed to CREATE the spell of the media rather than be seduced by it. We make the magic of movies and push the frontiers of technology. We innovate, pioneer, and explore. We don?t march to the beat of the establishment drum.

Next Tuesday, I would like to see some spunk in the California vote, some fire to send to the convention. Let's tell the party that we want substantial change. We want a rainbow of color rather than shades of gray. We want nectar of the gods rather than stale bread. We want a Democratic Party that doesn?t feel like it has had the lifeblood sucked from it.
So send a positive change message to the Democratic establishment by voting for Dennis next week. Neither Kerry nor Edwards sends a meaningful message for change now. They are the safe candidates. If you want to play it safe and scale down on your dreams, they are your guys. If you want to go boldly towards the future, Dennis is your man.

In March 1968, Democratic president Lyndon Johnson was under so much political pressure because of the Vietnam war that he decided not to even seek his party's nomination for re-election. And while the Vietnam war in 1968 was certainly bloodier in both American and overall terms than the Iraq war is currently, the reasons for the Vietnam war had not yet been discredited (the Pentagon papers were disclosed in 1971). Unlike Bush, Johnson had been elected in a landslide in 1964. And, certainly unlike Bush, Johnson had some real achievements to point to from his White House tenure: civil rights legislation and medicare. Still, dissatisfaction with the war had risen to such a level that Johnson felt compelled to drop out of the race.

This time around, we've got a president from Texas who bungled the nation's security so badly that the worst terrorist attack in American history happened on his watch. He has started two bloody wars with little justification; all reasons given for the second war are already thoroughly discredited, while they've blocked and delayed all attempts to find out why the first one was justified. The deficit is huge and jobs are disappearing. The outrage should be so big that Republicans should be scrambling to find a replacement. If Californians and New Yorkers and Ohioans vote for Kucinich tomorrow, it might be a sign that the opposition to Bush and his wars is real. If they vote for Kerry, who supported the wars and the Patriot Act, and who thinks that Bush "has done too little" in the "war on terror," the Republicans can sit back and relax with Bush as their candidate. Win or lose, they win.

From R. J. Matson.
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!

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