Bob's Links and Rants
Saturday, April 24, 2004
Feelings of Foreboding
Anybody else have the feeling that the upcoming Battle of Fallujah is going to be a bloody, horrible mess, and that the U.S. military isn't the only group preparing for it?
Five more soldiers killed, six wounded
Plus 15 Iraqis killed.

The deaths of the five soldiers in Baghdad and the Marine brought to 107 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the beginning of April. Since March 2003, 715 servicemembers have died in this country.

The Pentagon announced Friday that 595 U.S. soldiers have been wounded in the past two weeks, raising the total number of troops wounded in combat to 3,864 since the start of the conflict.

All for nothing. Making us all less safe. George W. Bush is a war criminal of the first magnitude.
I'm afraid there will lots more of this
Army sergeant charged in wife's death

"This has devastated me," Pitts' father, also named James, told KIRO-TV of Seattle. "My son called and said, 'I just killed my wife.' ... He's not my son anymore. I feel my son is still in Iraq. You can thank George W. Bush for this."
Friday, April 23, 2004
Speaking the truth is madness
According to Marcela Sanchez of the Washington Post, anyway:

Indeed for some, Chavez is one of the most charismatic and politically savvy individuals around. Yet, there are lapses when he genuinely sounds mad.

In the course of a few days last week, Chavez sided with Iraqi insurgents, accused President Bush of financing “wars of domination” and said that if Jesus were alive he “would be confronting the U.S. Empire.” He repeated threats to stop selling oil to the United States, and called for sanctions against Bush for anti-democratic practices against U.S. citizens. He also accused Colombian politicians of prodding the United States to invade Venezuela.

Let's look at what Sanchez thinks is evidence of Chavez' insanity:

Siding with Iraqi insurgents? Well, they are defending their country against foreign invaders, something usually referred to as patriotism.

Bush financing "wars of domination?" What else would you call it? Two countries invaded in three years, many more threatened, full support of the brutal Israeli occupation in Palestine. There's no secret about U.S. plans for global domination. It's in the Project for a New American Century, it was in Bush's West Point speech of June 2002 ("America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge"), and in the National Security Strategy of September 2002.

Jesus confronting the U.S. Empire? Well, I think he would, as I wrote last year.

Stop selling oil to the U.S? The Bush administration supported the coup of two years ago and hastily recognized the fascist coup leaders. Chavez certainly isn't crazy to think that the Bushies are his enemies, and oil is the only real weapon he has against them.

Calling for sanctions against the U.S? Well, Chavez should probably butt out of U.S. internal affairs, but the U.S. has never butted out of Venezuela, which is probably the point he is trying to make.

I haven't read enough about the Colombian politicians, but it certainly doesn't seem far-fetched.

This whole column, which Sanchez titled "Venezuelan Follies," relies on Americans being totally ignorant of all of these issues, an ignorance about which the Post and Sanchez are doing little to dispel. It is despicable that Sanchez is labelling Chavez as insane based on his speaking truths of which most Americans are willfully ignorant.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Idiot Quote of the Day
As Repuglicans go, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) seems to be better than most. I mean, I know he's got an interest in those election-stealing paperless voting machines, but at least he comes out every two months or so and blasts the administration on something. But now he's calling for a draft, and he asks this outrageous rhetorical question:

Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?

Well, we're already paying a price in our tax dollars, our deficit, and the greatly increased risk of terrorist attacks which has resulted from the criminal war in Iraq. Many soldiers have been killed and wounded, profoundly affecting them and their families. As for responsibility, I and millions of others have done everything we legally could to try to stop the war, but our opinions were entirely ignored by the administration and a large majority of Congress. Frankly, if you want to really deal with the responsibility question, I think that the entire Bush administration and every member of Congress who voted for the war, including Hagel, Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and the rest, should all be tried for war crimes. They knew that the Bushies were lying for the express purpose of going to war, and did not exercise their duty to stop him. And certainly those 18-year-olds out there, poor or rich, bear no responsibility for the war.

Suggested contrition for members of Congress who voted for the war: Apologize, impeach Bush, demand that the Republican party donate contributions for his campaign to the families of killed and wounded soldiers, demand an immediate withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and resign. We'll try you later.

It makes me sick beyond belief that most people in Congress seem to feel that the only way out of this horrible hole they have dug is to dig deeper. And my hatred of John Kerry is rapidly approaching that which I hold for George Bush. They are both utterly despicable.
Photos from Venezuela
This link should take you to the photos of my trip. If you can't see them, send me an e-mail and I'll send you an invitation.

Here I am doing my Rocky imitation WAY up in the Andes:

A Grudge Too Far

As you may have guessed, one of my main pleasures in blogging is trying to come up with creative headlines. Billmon cites a quote from Col. John Warden, one of the architects of the air campaign in the first Gulf War, talking before the invasion of Iraq last year:

The plan is probably one of the most risky in our history as it launches us off into terra incognita for the U.S.: our first preemptive or preventive war; our first attempt to democratize an Islamic state; and establishment of a very narrow beachhead in the midst of a billion undefeated Muslims.

Billmon uses the map above to show the physical reality: the coalition of the willing has intentionally gotten itself surrounded. Billmon compares it to Barbarossa, Hitler's 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. I think another comparison might be the Allies unsuccessful Market Garden campaign in 1944, involving parachute drops far behind Nazi lines, which was documented in the book and movie "A Bridge Too Far," as well as in one segment of the Tom Hanks/HBO miniseries, "Band of Brothers."

The "coalition" has managed to get itself surrounded for no good reason except for aWol's grudge against Saddam. Hence, "A Grudge Too Far."

(Sorry, I think I had something better to say, but I got interrupted and can't remember what it was! Be sure to read Billmon's post though.)

From Bill Schorr.
Bombs going off in Basra and Riyadh, various members of the Bush administration lying to various members of Congress and the press, many other things happening around the world. So what is the banner headline at Michael Jackson Indicted.

It has changed a little, but last night two of the other prominent stories were about Kobe Bryant and Princess Diana. Celebrities: The hallucinogen of the masses.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Shove it, Hillary
No, I don't regret giving the president authority because at the time it was in the context of weapons of mass destruction, grave threats to the United States, and clearly, Saddam Hussein had been a real problem for the international community for more than a decade. -- Hillary Bombbomb Clinton

The Bush family has been a much bigger problem for the international community for many decades, Shillary. By not exercising your authority to rein in the real madman, you have guaranteed that Iraq will cause problems for the world for decades to come.
Heightism is a disease
As a vertically-challenged member of society, I see pictures like this and wonder:

From the New York Times.
The two men on the right are from the south, sure to be a key battleground in November's election. The man on the right, Bob Graham, has far and away the most enlightened foreign policy of the three--he opposed the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Aristide in Haiti. The man in the middle is an eloquent speaker, comes from a modest background, and appeals to most people as being both very intelligent and very nice. The man on the left is neither enlightened nor eloquent, but he is the tallest of the three. You know who won the nomination, and in what order the other two were eliminated. Note also that none of the other eliminated candidates would ever be mistaken for NBA stars, and the one with the best positions on everything, Dennis Kucinich, was probably the shortest.

I remember reading about a poll taken in 1992 when Bush Sr. was running against Clinton. They asked people both who they were going to vote for and who they thought was the tallest. The two responses were strongly correlated. Those voting for Bush thought he was taller; those voting for Clinton thought he was taller. I don't know why the Dems settled for Kerry when Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are available!
Back Home
Yesterday I flew from Merida to Caracas in the morning, and then from Caracas to Miami in the late afternoon/early evening. I flew from Miami to Detroit this morning. Why don't they have Internet cafes in airports?

Anyway, I'm catching up on all the bad news from around the world. I'm posting all of my photos on right now; they should be available for viewing in an hour or two. Meanwhile, here's a brief taste of what Chavez is up against:

On Easter Sunday, the opposition held a rally in Caracas. They have a tradition there of "burning a Judas," usually a political opponent. For the opposition, of course, Chavez is THE political opponent. This particular "Judas" has three heads: Castro, Chavez, and Osama.
Monday, April 19, 2004
Sittin' on Top of the World
Well, I was pretty close earlier today. My guide Carlos led me WAY up into the Andes--close to 4000 meters in altitude (You do the math--I'm in a noisy internet cafe in Merida with children crawing around by my feet). Very beautiful. Though the mountains are as tall as the Sierras in California, the tropical latitude means that there are plants growing way up there. The predominant plant looks like some sort of super pineapple; a few were in bloom with pretty yellow flowers. Carlos is a Chavista who said he spent most of the night before dancing and the rest of it screwing. Still, he was ready to go at 8:30, climbing miles into the Andes.

They only charged 50,000 Bolivares (about $17) for eight hours of Carlos' services (not the type he was giving last night). The price included a Jeep ride to the trailhead and a public bus ride back down. I gave Carlos a $20 tip.
I'm guessing that the Iraqis have learned
The last time Iraq disarmed in response to US demands, they were invaded anyway. Now, the US is promising not to invade Fallujah if only the Iraqis there will disarm themselves. My guess is that the only way they'll disarm themselves this time is by firing every weapon they have at the American troops.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Greetings from Mérida!
I´m pretty much on my own now, but what a place! I flew from Caracas to Mérida this afternoon. I quickly found a ¨Posada,¨or guest house, charging the outrageous sum of 40,000 bolivares for two nights. (That´s about $13, or $7 per night) It is right across from the Plaza Bolivar (every city in Venezuela has at least one of those), and close to the teleferico, which is the gondola ride which goes 7 miles and 15000+ feet up into the Andes. I plan on riding it tomorrow.

*UPDATE* The teleferico is closed until Wednesday. I signed up for a hike in the mountains instead. I won't get to 15,000 feet, but it should be spectacular anyway!*END UPDATE*

It is very pleasant here--much cooler and quieter than Caracas. I´ve found an internet cafe which is bright and airy--not the usual dark cave which was common in Caracas and Chiapas. I´m not going to write much more now--got to get out and enjoy this beautiful city!

I see that the Iraq memorial now has 700 names on it, and the fighting is all over Iraq. Way to go, George! (Hugo Chavez calls him Jayorge Doobleyou Boosh.)

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