Bob's Links and Rants
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
We met with this guy!

If my memory is working properly, Tarek William Saab is a poet serving in the National Assembly. When our Global Exchange group toured the National Assembly building, Saab was one of a few Chavista assemblymen who came and talked to us. Here, he tells it likes it is about America's leading crime family, the Bushes:
VENPRES' Veronica Sosa reports: To Tarek William Saab, president of the Permanent Foreign Policy Commission of the National Assembly (AN), statements released by Florida governor Jeb Bush ... younger brother of the US president ... reveal that mental retardation runs in this family.

The MVR deputy characterized George Bush Sr., as well as the two sons George W. and Jeb, as "a decadent family group that thinks that they can, on their whim, not only direct the destiny of an empire like the US, but also intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela in their false belief that Venezuela is a part of their empire."

On the basis of statements made by governor Jeb Bush to the newspaper El Nuevo Herald, which characterize Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as "a crazy guy," Saab said that the presidential family is stunned by the defeat they suffered in Venezuela.

"This is a family who has connections to the petroleum industry, and evidently, they want to control Venezuelan oil, and they know that the way to do that is to remove President Chavez Frias from power."

On the other hand, the National Assemblyman recalled that the state of Florida, governed by Jeb Bush, is home to Venezuelan terrorists like Carlos Fernandez and the two military personnel sought by Interpol for their participation in bombings at the Spanish Embassy and the Colombian Consulate.

Saab urged the Florida governor to turn over "those Venezuelan criminals and not harbor them as he has been doing. The state of Florida, where he is governor, is the center of operations for terrorism against Venezuela."
Thanks to Michelle for finding that.

The "Chavez is crazy" talking point seems to be making the rounds in US right-wing circles: Jeb, the Washington Post, John Kerry. I've seen Chavez in person and on numerous videos. I certainly wouldn't rule out "calculating," or maybe even "ruthless" on occasion. But crazy he ain't.
It's news when WE decide that it's news
The Washington Post appears to have decided to get back into the reporting business. After a couple of years of mostly just repeating George Bush/Scott McLellan/John Kerry BS, they're now back into going out in the world and finding out what's going on. One of their main stories today has this headline:
Secret World of U.S. Interrogation: Long History of Tactics in Overseas Prisons Is Coming to Light
A selection:
In Afghanistan, the CIA's secret U.S. interrogation center in Kabul is known as "The Pit," named for its despairing conditions. In Iraq, the most important prisoners are kept in a huge hangar near the runway at Baghdad International Airport, say U.S. government officials, counterterrorism experts and others. In Qatar, U.S. forces have been ferrying some Iraqi prisoners to a remote jail on the gigantic U.S. air base in the desert.

The Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where a unit of U.S. soldiers abused prisoners, is just the largest and suddenly most notorious in a worldwide constellation of detention centers -- many of them secret and all off-limits to public scrutiny -- that the U.S. military and CIA have operated in the name of counterterrorism or counterinsurgency operations since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
I've been reading the World Socialist Web Site for over two years--they've been covering all of this stuff all along, as has much of the foreign press. It's only "coming to light" in Washington now, probably because the powers that be have decided that George Worthless Bush has outlived his usefulness.

It's the War, Stupid
What little economic recovery there is comes from the military-industrial complex
:"For us, the economy is great," said Allen, senior vice president and general manager of Armor Holdings Inc.'s Mobile Security Division. "It's a sad situation, but . . . " His voice trailed off, then he added, "I don't think anyone here is thinking about it that way."

In this corner of a critical presidential-election battleground state [Ohio], the economy is surging with the urgency of a boom. But it wasn't President Bush's tax cuts, Federal Reserve interest rate policies or even a general economic turnaround that did the trick. It was war.
-- Washington Post.

America. A country so stupid that the only way it can keep itself running is to kill people.


From Rob Rogers.

From Nick Anderson.
A "gross, ghastly error which has become a serious catastrophe that is heading for a disaster of galactic proportions"
Democracy can't be imposed by invasion; our best (only) course now is to cut and run. So says former US Chief of Mission in Iraq, Edward Peck.
Peck was stridently pessimistic about American prospects in Iraq and the region. America must abandon the agenda set forth by the Project for the New American Century and its plan to coerce democracy. On the subject of Iraq specifically, he characterized the current situation as a “gross, ghastly error which has become a serious catastrophe that is heading for a disaster of galactic proportions.” Even passing the situation to the UN would do little to improve American standing, as many Iraqis remain resentful over the aborted invasion in 1991 and UN sanctions.

Monday, May 10, 2004
Good News, Bad News
The good news is that aWol's approval rating is at a new low. The bad news is that 46% of Americans still approve of his job performance. Like the Egyptian farmer in the flood, they're in denial.

And for all those Democrats who decided Kerry was the most "electable?" Well, he still trails Bush, 48 to 47 percent, even with Nader not being considered.You've got the worst president in history, the public is finally realizing it, and the Dems have a candidate so bad that he still trails.

The whole primary campaign remains a huge disappointment to me. Of the non-Republicans (that is, those without Joe-mentum), Kerry was clearly the least appealing candidate in the debates. Kucinich had great positions, Dean had fire, Graham had knowledge and experience, Edwards was articulate and likeable. Kerry had nothing. But the media told the Dems that Kerry was electable, and they bought it.
Bush is in trouble; Call in the Saudis!
DUBAI (Reuters) - Leading OPEC producer Saudi Arabia Monday called on the oil cartel to raise supply limits by at least 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), just over 6 percent, to prevent high crude prices from derailing global economic growth.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi issued a statement saying that an increase in output by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was ``essential'' to balance global supply and demand after prices spiked to $40 a barrel last week.
If you were wondering why, back in late 2001 when the Bushies were arresting everyone with a tan, they let a bunch of bin Laden relatives and other assorted Saudis fly out of the US unquestioned, and why those 28 pages about the Saudis were redacted from the Congressional 9/11 report, well, this is why. American consumers are willing to stick their grandkids with a $200 billion bill for a stupid war on terrorism, but they'll turn around and vote for the candidate who keeps gasoline under $2 a gallon. Bush delivered for the Saudis; the Saudis are delivering for Bush. Quid. Pro. Quo.

What's Really Up With Bush's Hydrogen Fuel Cells Program?
I think most skeptics believe that it is just a gift to the Big Three, allowing them to continue to do practically nothing about fuel economy for the next ten years. But Mother Jones suggests that there may be more than that:

The Bush administration is high on hydrogen. The president's proposed 2005 budget includes $228 million to help businesses develop better hydrogen fuel cells, triple the assistance the federal government provided in 2001. What's left unsaid in his speeches about America's potential to "lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles" is that the initiative holds out a massive windfall for Bush insiders and well-connected lobbyists, not to mention a Russian oligarch with a history of shady dealings and environmental destruction.

The source of this prospective fortune is the Montana-based Stillwater Mining Co., which is the only domestic producer of two platinum group metals (PGM) -- platinum and palladium. Last year Vladimir Potanin, a Russian billionaire whose empire already includes vast PGM reserves in Siberia, took control of Stillwater. Regulators from the Treasury Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) quickly approved the deal even though it gave Potanin greater power over metals that could be critical to the nation's future.

To understand what this has to do with hydrogen and why there's so much money at stake, begin with this fact: Fuel cells will use platinum or palladium as a catalyst. The metals speed the process by which hydrogen combines with oxygen, releasing energy that could power a vehicle. The metals also could be used in storing hydrogen and are already used in catalytic converters. If the market for fuel cells booms, so too will demand for palladium and platinum. There are only a few locations in the world that mine platinum metals, and the largest producer of palladium and the second largest of platinum is the Potanin-owned Norilsk Nickel Mining Co. on the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia.
Much more in the article, including a mention that former Michigan Senator and Keating Five alum Don Riegle is on the board of Stillwater. It also appears that the axis of evil, aka the Carlyle Group, is linked. If you're not familiar with Carlyle, you probably should be. George H.W. Bush (aka Bush 41, Bush Sr., Poppy, the Wimp) and Osama bin Laden's father were both early investors. And check out who's involved in senior management.
Go for it, Andy!
Regular readers of other, more popular blogs like Atrios and Tom Tomorrow are probably familiar with some of the rantings of Andrew Sullivan, a journalist/blogger who supported the war in Iraq. For a long time, he seemed to have gone through the same looking glass as the Bush administration. But recent events seem to have smacked Andy upside the head, bringing an uncomfortable clarity to his vision. Here's a selection from a recent post:
To have humiliated the United States by presenting false and misleading intelligence and then to have allowed something like Abu Ghraib to happen - after a year of other, compounded errors - is unforgivable. By refusing to hold anyone accountable, the president has also shown he is not really in control. We are at war; and our war leaders have given the enemy their biggest propaganda coup imaginable, while refusing to acknowledge their own palpable errors and misjudgments. They have, alas, scant credibility left and must be called to account. Shock has now led - and should lead - to anger. And those of us who support the war should, in many ways, be angrier than those who opposed it.
Even George Will is seeing the light now. And a bunch of other right-wingers.

Where does it all lead? My cherished hope is that the Repugs decide that it's time to dump Bush and Cheney and put someone else on the ticket, probably John McCain. I would probably choose McCain over Kerry--they're both war hawks, but McCain understands our electoral mess and has actually done something about it. He also gets global warming, probably on a more sincere basis than Kerry does. Actually, freed from the worry of four more years of Bush, I would probably vote for Nader or maybe the socialist guy and let the rest of the people decide between McCain and Kerry.

I doubt if the millions of Bush lovers out there will turn against him fast enough, but the rich folks who design the polls might. If they skewed a new poll to show Bush 15% behind Kerry, the Repugs might all of a sudden find some principles and call for Bush to get off the ticket.
The one scandal that will finish Bush off

If his wealthy investors lose a few million here or there in the stock market, they'll toss him aside for the other Yalie millionaire in a Skull & Bones minute.
The "War on Terror" -- It Keeps on Killing
SKOPJE, Macedonia -- Macedonian police gunned down seven innocent immigrants in an ambush two years ago and claimed the immigrants were terrorists to show that the police were participating in the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, authorities said Friday.
She described a meticulous plan to promote Macedonia as a player in the fight against global terrorism that involved smuggling the Pakistanis into Macedonia from Bulgaria, housing them and then gunning them down.

The action was carried out in March 2002 by special Macedonian police who claimed to have eliminated a terrorist group allegedly plotting to attack embassies and other foreign representatives in Macedonia. Konteska said the Pakistanis were illegal immigrants who were lured into Macedonia by promises that they would be transferred to Western Europe.

The "war on terror" is just like James Bond's "007" number--a license to kill. Countries like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and apparently Macedonia kill some dark-skinned people every now and then get rewards from the neonuts in Washington, while those same neonuts continue to berate and threaten Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, and other countries for not playing their murderous game.

A strange note: I first read about this story this morning at home before I left for work on the NY Times web site, but I can't find it anywhere there now. The above quote came from the Washington Post from a week ago.

[Update 2: 22 PM] The story is back up on the main page of the NY Times web site.

From Boondocks.
Sunday, May 09, 2004
New template!
Blogger gave me a bunch of new choices, so I picked one. They're also providing comments now, which I'll turn on only so long as y'all are nice out there! For starters, let me know what you think of the new template!
Bush and Kerry: Like Apples and Apples
The Washington Post notices that we have two Republican candidates for president. I know, Kerry is better than Bush. That's similar to the current wingnut argument that American prisoner abuse in Iraq isn't as bad as Saddam's was. I really don't consider either one acceptable.

I'm sticking to my plan to do whatever I can to help knock Bush down so far that I can vote for a good candidate in November without worrying about giving aWol four more years to complete the destruction of the planet. Those who have jumped on board with Kerry already are just validating Bush's policies on things like sending more troops to Iraq and destroying Latin America (and American jobs) through the FTAA.

If it's going down to the wire in November, and Kerry hasn't gotten even worse by then, I'll make an election-day decision. Until then, I'll do whatever I can to discredit Bush and hold out hope that I can vote for the best candidate.
What's in a name?
The head of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib is Colonel Foster Payne. Really. From the Guardian, spotted by Atrios.
Five sides to the issue
The brass is NOT happy:
A senior general at the Pentagon said he believes the United States is already on the road to defeat. "It is doubtful we can go on much longer like this," he said. "The American people may not stand for it -- and they should not."

Asked who was to blame, this general pointed directly at Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz. "I do not believe we had a clearly defined war strategy, end state and exit strategy before we commenced our invasion," he said.


From Steve Sack.

From Steve Kelley.
The view from Iraq
Iraqi blogger Riverbend tells us exactly what the Abu Ghraib atrocity means. The whole post is compelling; here's about half of it as a sample:

People are seething with anger- the pictures of Abu Ghraib and the Brits in Basrah are everywhere. Every newspaper you pick up in Baghdad has pictures of some American or British atrocity or another. It's like a nightmare that has come to life.

Everyone knew this was happening in Abu Ghraib and other places… seeing the pictures simply made it all more real and tangible somehow. American and British politicians have the audacity to come on television with words like, "True the people in Abu Ghraib are criminals, but…" Everyone here in Iraq knows that there are thousands of innocent people detained. Some were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, while others were detained 'under suspicion'. In the New Iraq, it's "guilty until proven innocent by some miracle of God".

People are so angry. There’s no way to explain the reactions- even pro-occupation Iraqis find themselves silenced by this latest horror. I can’t explain how people feel- or even how I personally feel. Somehow, pictures of dead Iraqis are easier to bear than this grotesque show of American military technique. People would rather be dead than sexually abused and degraded by the animals running Abu Ghraib prison.

There was a time when people here felt sorry for the troops. No matter what one's attitude was towards the occupation, there were moments of pity towards the troops, regardless of their nationality. We would see them suffering the Iraqi sun, obviously wishing they were somewhere else and somehow, that vulnerability made them seem less monstrous and more human. That time has passed. People look at troops now and see the pictures of Abu Ghraib… and we burn with shame and anger and frustration at not being able to do something. Now that the world knows that the torture has been going on since the very beginning, do people finally understand what happened in Falloojeh?
[Bush] is claiming it's a "stain on our country's honor"... I think not. The stain on your country's honor, Bush dear, was the one on the infamous blue dress that made headlines while Clinton was in the White House... this isn't a 'stain' this is a catastrophe. Your credibility was gone the moment you stepped into Iraq and couldn't find the WMD... your reputation never existed.

So are the atrocities being committed in Abu Ghraib really not characteristic of the American army? What about the atrocities committed by Americans in Guantanamo? And Afghanistan? I won't bother bringing up the sordid past, let's just focus on the present. It seems that torture and humiliation are common techniques used in countries blessed with the American presence. The most pathetic excuse I heard so far was that the American troops weren't taught the fundamentals of human rights mentioned in the Geneva Convention… Right- morals, values and compassion have to be taught.
I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while you can- while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? We’ll take our chances- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go.

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