Bob's Links and Rants
Saturday, March 13, 2004
It's all my fault
When a butterfly sneezes and all that. Last summer at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, I was manning the Kucinich booth in the non-profit section. We were selling "Regime Change 2004" T-shirts with a picture of smirky Bush and a big circle and line through it. The Dean and Kerry booths were selling the same shirt. The guy at the Kerry booth ran out of larges, and came down to trade two smalls for two of our larges. I agreed to it, instead of telling him to send the buyers down to our booth. The Kerry campaign got $10 (we were making about $5 profit per shirt), the Kucinich campaign got $0 (I don't think we ever sold the smalls), and now we're faced with a battle between the incumbent hawk and the challenger hawk.
I am profoundly sorry.
The carnage continues
From Nicholas Kristof:
Here's a pop quiz. Rank the following in order of the number of American lives they claim in a typical year: food, guns, terrorists, flu and cars.
Ready? The most deadly are automobiles, which kill 117 Americans a day, or nearly 43,000 a year. Then comes flu, which (along with pneumonia, its associated disease) kills 36,000 people. Third is guns: 26,000 deaths. Fourth, food-borne illness: 5,000. And finally, terrorism, which in a typical year claims virtually no U.S. lives — with horrific exceptions like 2001. But antiterrorism efforts get most of the attention and the resources.
That's right. More people killed in a typical month of car accidents than in pretty much the whole history of U.S. terrorist attacks, including 9/11 and Oklahoma City. And by keeping gasoline prices artificially low and the highways crowded, the various battles being fought in the name of the "war on terror" would probably still be causing more Americans to die even if they were legitimately going after terrorists. (Did that make any sense?)
Full disclosure: I work for a transportation research institute, where we do contract studies for GM, Chrysler and others on new automotive safety devices. And while some of these devices will help save lives, eventually, far greater savings will be achieved when the total miles driven drops dramatically. And 100 years from now the total miles driven will be far below what it is today, because most of the oil will be gone. The real question is how horrible and bloody the century will be, and what will be the condition of the planet. By conserving now we can reduce the bloodshed both on the highways and on the battlefields, and hopefully give the planet enough breathing space to recover from the threat of global warming.
Meanwhile in Iraq
Two more soldiers were killed and five wounded this morning in Tikrit. Two others were killed on Thursday. And in Afghanistan, Operation Mountain Storm begins tomorrow after weeks of warning to Osama bin Laden.
My latest article...
is now up at the Daily News Online, here. Actually, if you've been reading this blog for a long time, you'll recognize it as an old post (December 26, 2002) updated.
Friday, March 12, 2004
From Kirk Walters of the Toledo Blade.
Like I said a few days ago, the Davis-Bessie nuclear power plant is only about sixty miles from here. Two years ago, it may have been only months away from a nuclear catastrophe. It is now being reopened by the same corrupt corporation, FirstEnergy, that owned it then, and is still being overseen by the same corrupt government agency, the NRC. The threats already within our borders, whether they materialize because of terrorist activity or just greed and incompetence, are far greater than any threats from overseas.
From Ed Stein.
From Steve Greenberg.
Unfortunately for Mars, the Deimoscratic party kept chasing the Rephoboscans to the right and failed to call attention to the Martian warming problem until all hope was lost. The Deimoscrats tried to show that they were more Marsiotic than the Zoxg dynasty by being even more warlike, Mars being the god of war, after all.
From Jim Morin.
From Kirk Anderson.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
We've got 9/11
Spain has 3/11. Two and a half years to the day later. I spent a few days in Madrid in 1993. Nice city, great public transportation. My condolences to all.
No time to paraphrase...
So just go check out Michelle's posts on Venezuela: here, here and here.
In a month, I'll be in Venezuela with the Global Exchange tour. Hopefully, I'll gain some insights about Chavez and his Bolivarian revolution and be able to share them. For now, I'm operating on the principle that George W. Bush is ALWAYS wrong, so Chavez must be okay.
BTW, one of those articles quotes U.S. ambassador to Brazil Donna Hrinak as saying "It's difficult to understand Brazil's silence given the recent abuses of human rights in Cuba." Surprisingly, I agree with her. I think everyone should speak out about the human rights abuses going on at Guantanamo Bay.
From a Sean Gonsalves article, via Michelle, who has lots of interesting posts on Haiti. I've reorganized the quotes in Gonsalves' article to make my own points (i.e., value adding!).
Question: Who in the U.S. government coordinated the overthrow of Aristide?
Answer: Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen also points to something studiously ignored in the "liberal" media; namely the policymakers behind the scenes.
"They include the State Department's Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega (a one-time staffer for Sen. Jesse Helms and promoter of El Salvador death squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson), U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte (a promoter of Honduran death squads while he was ambassador to Honduras), Iran-contra felon Elliott Abrams (who is now at the National Security Council), and Otto Reich, Noriega's predecessor who was not confirmed by the Senate and who organized a similar coup in April 2002 against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias."
Comment: Oh. Criminals.
Question: So who's running Haiti now?
Answer: According to Brian Concannon Jr., a human rights lawyer with the International Lawyers' Office, "Guy Philippe, the U.S.-trained self-proclaimed new army chief, (has been) implicated in running drugs, executing suspected gang members, attacking the National Palace and trying to blow up a hydro dam, even before he started killing his former police colleagues."
Then there's Louis Jodel Chamblain, co-founder of Haiti's brutal FRAPH death squad who was convicted for atrocities committed during Haiti's last dictatorship (1991-1994). Both are now living up to their reputations as world-class thugs, hunting down and executing government supporters, emptying the jails, and spraying whole neighborhoods with gunfire."
Comment: Oh. Terrorists.
Britain frees all five former Gitmo "detainees"
I hope they find some way to sue the smirk off of Bush's face. He took two years of their lives away from them which they'll never get back.
Robert Lizar, the lawyer for al-Harith, who was released Tuesday at the air base, said his client wanted the U.S. authorities "to answer for the injustice which he has suffered."
"He has been detained as an innocent person for a period of two years. He has been treated in a cruel, inhumane and degrading manner, he wants the authorities to answer for that," Lizar added. -- USA Today
I want the authorities to answer for that, too. We've all seen Bush in a flight suit he had no right wearing. One of my fondest dreams is to see him in an orange jumpsuit of his own at Gitmo. And then let those still being held there decide on Bush's punishment.
Bush selects outsourcer for manufacturing czar post
Six months after promising to create an office to help the nation's struggling manufacturers, President Bush settled on someone to head it, but the nomination was being reconsidered last night after Democrats revealed that his candidate had opened a factory in China.
But Kerry's campaign, tipped off about the impending nomination several hours earlier, hastened to distribute news reports that Raimondo's firm, Behlen Manufacturing Co. of Columbus, Neb., had laid off 75 U.S. workers in 2002, four months after announcing plans for a $3 million factory in northwest Beijing. -- Washington Post
No matter what they try to call themselves, "free traders" or whatever, cheap-labor conservatives remain cheap-labor conservatives. Bush doesn't KNOW anyone who hasn't been involved in screwing American workers. That's why it took him six months to pick someone for this post he announced last Labor Day, and he still couldn't get it right.
Some politicians in Washington see this new challenge, yet want to respond in old ways. Their agenda is to increase federal taxes, to build a wall around this country and to isolate America from the rest of the world. They never get around to explaining how higher taxes would help create a single job in America, except maybe at the IRS. -- George Worthless Bush, speaking to a group of "small businesswomen" in Cleveland.
I don't think I have to cite examples from specific politicians: Increased taxes can a) be used to hire more teachers, cops, firefighters, and yes, IRS workers to chase down Bush's tax-cheat friends; b) Provide unemployment and food stamp benefits to the poorest Americans, who will spend the money almost immediately, providing jobs at grocery stores and the like; c) Pay for highways and other infrastructure, providing further jobs.
The difference is that this explanation of increased taxes increasing jobs has a substantial history of success (see Roosevelt, F. D.; Johnson, L. B.; and Clinton, W. J.). Bush's plan of cutting taxes has a growing history of failure (see Reagan, R. W.; Bush, G. W.; Bush, G. W.; and Bush, G. W.)
Furthermore, Bush and his unilateral-preemptive-war-against-whoever-for-no-apparent-reason policy has isolated America far more than any tariff or other "protectionist" measure ever has. Isn't it ironic that someone who claims, with no basis in fact, that he has "protected" America from terrorist attacks, uses the word "protectionist" as if it were a swear word?
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
I saw this in the Globe and Mail: McCain won't rule out running with Kerry.
"John Kerry is a close friend of mine. We have been friends for years," Mr. McCain said Wednesday when pressed to squelch speculation about a Kerry-McCain ticket. "Obviously I would entertain it."
But Mr. McCain emphasized how unlikely the whole idea was.
"It's impossible to imagine the Democratic party seeking a pro-life, free-trading, non-protectionist, deficit hawk," the Arizona senator told ABC's Good Morning America during an interview about illegal steroid use. "They'd have to be taking some steroids, I think, in order to let that happen."
I'm still in shock at the Dems choosing a "free-trading" war hawk as their presidential nominee. If McCain would consider running against Bush and Cheney, he should have done it as a Republican. I'm really appalled that a party could have an incumbent be as bad as Bush and not even consider seriously replacing him.
Assuming that Kucinich and Dean are out of the question as Kerry's running mate, I hope he picks Bob Graham. Graham would be a knowledgeable voice of moderation on foreign policy, which Kerry badly needs, and would also help win in Florida, which just might be important.
For it's One, Two, Three, What Are We Fighting For?
It's human rights violation reporting day at the World Socialist Web Site. First, a story about a recent Human Rights Watch report detailing the mistreatment, including torture, of prisoners held by Americans and U.S.-backed Afghans in Afghanistan.
Next, a report about Iraqis being tortured and killed by British troops. Also, a report on how those Guantanamo Bay "detainees" lucky enough to be released may face another arrest and/or surveillance. And finally, Australia is giving their attorney general wide authority to declare organizations to be terrorist, hence making any one who supports these organizations intentionally or unintentionally liable to arrest.
Destroying the free, democratic village in order to save it.
From Mike Keefe.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Women's rights in Afghanistan
"Please, my dear brothers, let your wives and sisters go to the voter registration process," [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai told a gathering to mark International Women's Day. "Later, you can control who she votes for, but please, let her go." -- Toronto Star
Yeah, he'll protect the children!
John Ramsey, father of slain child pageant star JonBenet, is seriously considering a run for the Michigan House of Representatives.
Ramsey has established residency in Charlevoix, where he has long vacationed, and has indicated he wants to succeed term-limited state Rep. Ken Bradstreet, R-Gaylord, said Matt Resch, spokesman for House Speaker Rick Johnson.
Ramsey is being urged to run by local Republican officials in Charlevoix, according to a report in Monday's edition of the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics. -- Detroit Free Press
A wealthy businessman with name recognition. Hey, it almost worked for the Republicans in the 2000 presidential race, so why not try again? Charlevoix is up in the Republican northwest part of Michigan.
This highlights one of the most serious flaws in our system. The cynical Repugs in Charlevoix realize that Ramsey's name recognition gets him in the game, and then the whole campaign will revolve around the JonBenet story. The Repugs will ask, "Should baseless allegations of criminality, for which there have been no convictions, disqualify someone from running for office?" And lots of people will say, like I do, "Of course not." Unfortunately, most of those people will see that as the only issue, and having decided not to vote against Ramsey because of JonBenet suspicions, they will decide to vote for him. The lack of qualifications other than name recognition and sympathy for having lost his daughter will be ignored; Ramsey will be tried in the court of public opinion for the murder of his daughter. If the jury finds him not guilty, he's in the Michigan House of Representatives.
Any reasonable process for selecting a president of the most powerful nation on Earth would have eliminated George W. Bush from consideration almost immediately. Our system, on the other hand, will, for the second time in four years, present Bush as an either-or proposition. Either you think he's the most god-awful sucky excuse for a leader you've ever seen (that is, you are right), or you don't. Unfortunately, most of those in the second category will vote for him. They would also vote for someone substantially better (John McCain comes to mind) if offered the choice. But they aren't offered the choice. You're either with Bush or against him. And a lot of people will be figuratively flipping a coin on it. A reasonable system wouldn't have Bush's ugly mug on either side of that coin. Nor would it have Ramsey's.
I taught high school for a year back when the "New Kids on the Block" were popular. For many ninth-grade girls that year, whether you liked New Kids or not was THE most important question. How she answered it defined who a girl was. I couldn't figure out why in this mega-multi-choice world that so many people focused on a fairly meaningless yes-no question. But no matter how ridiculous the question, if it gets framed in either-or, yes-no, true-false, with-us-or-against-us terms, you can be sure that there will be a significant number of people on both sides. We really should be working to keep questions from being framed that way.
Tax Cuts for the Rich don't Work
And the lying liars who claim they do need to read Krugman's column today, which features this chart:
Monday, March 08, 2004
I'll probably be safer in Venezuela
The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo, about 60 miles from here, is due to reopen. It will still be operated by FirstEnergy, the corporation which nearly allowed it to have a catastrophic failure. FirstEnergy was also to blame for last summer's blackout. I always picture Burns and Smithers running the show at FirstEnergy, with Homer Simpson in charge of safety.
Phantom Loads and Dehumidifiers
My preparations for installing a solar-power system have uncovered some watt-sapping suspects. Even though I don't use air conditioning, my summer electric bills have been way higher than my winter bills. I have gas heat, but still I should be using less light and less in general during the summer, since I am home and inside less. The prime suspect? The dehumidifier. I bought a small humidity meter the other day so I'll be able to track my need for dehumidifying better this summer. I've also read that "phantom loads," appliances and electronics that are on even when they're off, like TV's, VCR's and other devices with remotes and microwave ovens with clocks, use substantial amounts of energy. I've ordered a watt meter so I can get a better idea of where the power is going, but I've already made a preemptive strike on several phantom loads, putting my computer and entertainment systems on power strips and making sure to turn those off when I'm done using the equipment.
I'm excited about having the solar system, but I suspect that my biggest energy savings (and definitely the biggest dollar savings) will come from these conservation efforts, not from the solar panels. I certainly suggest that you look at your utility bills and get your hands on a watt meter to track down your biggest energy guzzlers. We don't pay much for electricity in this country, but it isn't cheap. We can save a lot of energy (and cut down on the associated pollution and wars) by making a few simple changes which will have only minimal impact on our lifestyles. If we are willing to change our lifestyles more substantially, much more is possible.
And that's your sermon for the day!
The Bush Ads
Defending his 9/11-exploiting TV commercials, aWol replied:
First of all, I will continue to speak about the effects of 9/11 on our country and my presidency. How this administration handled that day, as well as the war on terror, is worthy of discussion. And I look forward to discussing that with the American people.
The World Socialist Web Site (along with several 9/11 family members quoted there), Josh Marshall, and I'm sure many others quickly pointed out the contradiction between this statement and Bush's 2 1/2 year obstruction of all investigations into "how this administration handled that day."
Quote du Jour
"I would vote for Saddam Hussein before I would vote for Bush.” -- Ron Willett, whose 29-year-old son John Charles was killed at the World Trade Center (from WSWS).
To which I respond, "Is he running?" Actually, it demonstrates how ridiculously low the "anybody-but-Bush" standard is. Out of some 6 billion people on the planet, some 5,999,999,400 or so would be better presidents than George W. Bush. The remaining 600 are either in his administration, in his family, in Congress, or work for Fox News (or all of the above).
As usual, Michelle is keeping better track of what's going on over our oil than I am. As far as I know, Michelle is the only reader of my blog who took me up on the invitation to join in on the Global Exchange tour to Venezuela in April. We're both hoping that events don't prevent us from going.
From Mike Thompson.
Bush Ads and 9/11
I saw some of the Bush ads on TV yesterday. Your head would have to be quite deep in the sand, or far up somewhere else, for the ads to sway you towards Bush. The words "cognitive disconnect" come to mind. But I guess I'd have to say that if Bush wants to remind everyone that he presided over the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, well, bring 'em on! The claims about "calm leadership" and reviving the economy are so laughable it would take years of Fox News viewing to desensitize oneself against them.
Too bad the Dems don't have someone really good who could bash Bush over the head with this crap!
Sunday, March 07, 2004
The Republican Mafia
Republican Mike Murphy decided to run for Congress, challenging 80-year-old Republican incumbent Ralph Hall for the party's spot on the ballot in Texas' fourth district. And he started getting phone calls:
"Just consider what you're doing now. You don't want to have the freakin' president of the United States mad at you for the rest of your life." That came from Larry Telford, the National Republican Congressional Committee's "incumbent retention director." Another Republican mafioso, New York Congressman Tom Reynolds, suggested that Karl Rove and Tom DeLay had been notified and were not pleased with Murphy's candidacy. The NRCC tried to deny the namedropping threats, but Murphy had his tape recorder running.
Now, Murphy seems to be running because Hall is a recent party-switcher, having been a Democrat until January. So it seems unlikely that I would agree with Murphy on much. But shouldn't the people of Texas' fourth district, EVEN the Republicans, have the right to choose their own representative to Congress without threats and bribes from the RNCC and the White House? (Hint: Yes.)
I recall that early in 2002 similar pressure was put on Minnesota Republican Tim Pawlenty when he wanted to run against Paul Wellstone for his Senate seat. Pawlenty got a call from Dick Cheney, who told him that the national party preferred Norm Coleman, so why doesn't Pawlenty run for governor instead? Pawlenty gave in (and is now Minnesota's governor), but apparently Murphy won't. Even though I probably disagree with him on most things, I'm tempted to send him a donation. Of course, I shouldn't be deciding who represents Texas' fourth district any more than Rove or DeLay or Bush should.
A week late, a holler short
The "good" news: John Kerry says he would have stepped in to keep Aristide in Haiti.
"I would have been prepared to send troops immediately, period," Mr. Kerry said on Friday, expressing astonishment that President Bush, who talks of supporting democratically elected leaders, withheld any aid and then helped spirit Mr. Aristide into exile after saying the United States could not protect him.
"Look, Aristide was no picnic, and did a lot of things wrong," Mr. Kerry said. But Washington "had understandings in the region about the right of a democratic regime to ask for help. And we contravened all of that. I think it's a terrible message to the region, democracies, and it's shortsighted."-- NY Times, which throws its own gratuitous comment into the article by referring to Aristide as "Haiti's widely disliked elected leader," in the first paragraph, no less. (Of course, we all know who the most widely disliked world leader is. But he wasn't elected.)
Of course, if anyone is tempted to believe Kerry, I would suggest that you re-read Mr. Kerry's disgusting little foreign policy speech from a week ago Friday, less than two days before Aristide was kidnapped by Americans and exiled to Africa. Try to find any reference to Haiti or Aristide. Not there. No recommendations from the leading Democratic presidential candidate for dealing with an immediate crisis; not until a week too late. Oh well, at least he's disagreeing with Bush on this one.
And then there's this from the Times article:
But the core of Mr. Kerry's argument in the interview was that divisions within Mr. Bush's foreign policy team have frozen the art of preventative diplomacy and kept Secretary of State Colin L. Powell from doing his job.
"I think simply Powell, who I know, like and admire, has been never permitted to be fully a secretary of state in the way that I envision the secretary of state," he said, describing how he believes that Mr. Powell has been regularly undercut by the administration's more hawkish members, led by Vice President Dick Cheney. "I think Powell — I'm not sure they didn't lock the keys to the airplane up sometimes."
Two years ago Kerry would have had some sympathy for that position from me. But Powell has proved, again and again, that he is willing to do anything for Bush, including lie repeatedly. Others have offered him the out that Kerry did, but he has repeatedly refused to take it, instead vigorously defending his lies and those of the rest of the Bushies. I hoped for months that Powell would take a principled stand and resign in a huff, until I realized that he is a lying Bushie through and through. He has no principles on which to take a stand. And if Kerry still likes and admires Powell, then Kerry has no standards either.
One other thing: While complaining, a week too late, about Bush's Haitian policy of supporting the overthrow of a democratically-elected government, Kerry says nothing about Bush's support for similar efforts in Venezuela to overthrow Hugo Chavez. There's nothing in the NY Times article. The only references to Chavez on Kerry's web site are to UFW founder Cesar Chavez, and Venezuela only appears as a country choice on the contribution page! (Hmm...I didn't think Venezuelans could contribute to U.S. political campaigns.) Kerry should take a stand, NOW. Stop by Washington, if he remembers where it is, and introduce a resolution in the Senate opposing U.S. meddling in Venezuela, before the National Endowment for Democracy, which he admired so much in his speech, overthrows another demcratic government.