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Wednesday, June 30, 2004


From Tom Toles.

A Bronx Cheer For the Veep from the Deep

Take him out of the ballgame...
Cheney, who visited both clubhouses after batting practice, watched part of the game from the box of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and part from a first-row seat next to the Yankees dugout, where he sat between New York Gov. George Pataki and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (news - web sites). Cheney was booed when he was shown on the right-field videoboard during the seventh-inning stretch.
All is forgiven, Yankee fans! You're alright!
I ranted earlier about the nonsense in the press about the occupation being ended by handing over a piece of paper. Daily Kos has started a collection:
Washington Post: "Despite the end of the occupation …"

Knight Ridder: "Iraqis see hope in end of U.S.-led occupation"

Los Angeles Times: "…end of a deeply divisive American-led occupation…"

San Francisco Chronicle: "the U.S.-led military occupation had formally ended…"

Miami Herald: "…ended its occupation of Iraq…"

Associated Press: "…the end of the American occupation …"

Arizona Republic:: "…the 160,000 foreign troops in Iraq were transformed from occupiers into guests of a U.S.-backed government."
One of the comments on Kos' post quotes Jon Stewart from the Daily Show as saying "Our soldiers are no longer occupying Iraq, they're just tourists with guns."

It reminds me of a joke I heard that was attributed to Abraham Lincoln:
Q: If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?
A: Um, five?
Q: No, four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.
And calling terrorists freedom fighters or vice versa doesn't change the reality of what they are, or aren't.

What You Gonna Do with YOUR Sovereignty?

As Michelle says, this story is totally FUBAR. According to the Guardian, the Iraqi Interior Ministry was apparently using its new sovereignty to "abuse" recently captured prisoners when American MP's raided the building and told them to stop. Some choice excerpts from the article:
The raid appeared to be a violation of the country's new sovereignty, leading to angry scenes inside the ministry between Iraqi policemen and US soldiers.

The military police, who had been told of abuse, seized an area known as the Guesthouse just outside the ministry's main building. They disarmed the Iraqi policemen and at one stage threatened to set free prisoners whose handcuffs they removed, according to Iraqi officials.
The men were captured in the first big Iraqi-led anti-crime and anti-terrorism operation, which took place a few days before the transfer of power, with US military police in support and using US satellite images.

Senior Iraqi officers described those captured as "first class murderers, kidnappers and terrorists with links to al-Ansar" - a militant group in the former Kurdish no-fly zone - who had all admitted to "at least 20 crimes while being questioned".
Nashwan Ali - who said his nickname was Big Man - said: "A US MP asked me this morning what police division I was in. I said I was in criminal intelligence.

"The American asked me why we had beaten the prisoners. I said we beat the prisoners because they are all bad people. But I told him we didn't strip them naked, photograph them or f*** them like you did."
One western police adviser said he had no idea that the ministry itself was being used for questioning suspects. "It sounds rather like the bad old days," he said.
I get the feeling that Allawi and the other officials of the "New Iraq" didn't agree to put big targets on their own backs by being American puppets out of the goodness of their hearts. They did it so they could get retribution on old enemies. I wonder if this story will get any play in the American media. Are they ready to let us know that a) Those people we gave "sovereignty" to aren't very nice, and b) We didn't really give them sovereignty anyway?

Let's just say that if reports of prisoner abuse like this were coming out of Venezuela, say, it would be a major story in the Washington Post, regardless of whether it was true or not.

It's the Stupid War, Stupid!

Via Cyndy, I came across this review of "Fahrenheit 9/11" from a self-proclaimed "ultra conservative." Like Cyndy, I think these two paragraphs are the most interesting:
An interesting encounter immediately after seeing the film underscores its fundamentally non-partisan nature. Some poor schlep had positioned himself outside the theater with a clipboard soliciting signatures on a nominating position for a would-be Democrat congressional candidate. A couple of people seized the petition and started to sign. Impertinent sort that I am, I asked, "What's this fellow's position on the war?"

The scribbling stopped, and several sets of eyes focused intently on the hapless volunteer. "Well, um, ah, he thinks we should do something," he began, stammeringly. "Ah, he just thinks we should be more careful." On hearing this, a lady looked at her husband, who had signed the petition, and snapped, "Scratch off your name." I told the volunteer that I'm what most people would regard as an "ultra-conservative – not just a `conservative' – but if your guy came out against the war I'd vote for him, and knock on doors." "Well, I can't really address all the details of his positions," the increasingly flustered guy responded. "Just let him know what I said," I suggested, telling him that there are a lot of people who have the same point of view.
I think it's long past time for John Kerry to flip-flop one more time and suggest that all American forces should be removed from Iraq with the same alacrity with which Paul Bremer left. If he does that, I'll click on one of his bazillion online ads asking for $50, and I'll knock on doors, too.

I've been disillusioned many times in my life, but the selection of Kerry as the Democratic nominee was one of the most disillusioning experiences ever. The election should have been a referendum on the war, but now to get rid of Bush we're supposed to support the guy calling for more troops and more allies so we can more quickly move along to the next war? Of course the Bushies have badly mismanaged the occupation, and they should be criticized for that. But their biggest crime, and the one easiest to explain to voters, was starting the war itself. Apparently, people seeing F 9/11 get it. John Kerry should, too. Unless he really intends to try to get elected by running against tax cuts.

Israeli Court Orders Changes to Barrier in West Bank

Sharon obviously wouldn't do it, and neither Bush nor Kerry would ever tell him to. (Mr. Sharon, tear down this wall!) But the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that Israel can't continue building its massive wall which has been separating West Bank Palestinians from farm fields, jobs, and each other. From AP:
In a precedent-setting decision, Israel's Supreme Court ordered the government Wednesday to change a large section of its West Bank separation barrier, saying the current route violates the human rights of the local Palestinian population.

The government said it would honor the ruling -- the first major ruling on the barrier -- which will likely effect other sections of the contentious wall.

The decision signaled the court would reject other parts of the fence that separate Palestinians from their lands, cut villages off from each other or prevent people from reaching population centers.

The Occupation ISN'T Over

No matter what AP says:
The attack came only days after the U.S. coalition authorities handed over sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government. Despite the end of the occupation, about 160,000 foreign troops -- most of them Americans -- remain in Iraq to provide security and train Iraq's new security services.
(emphasis added)

I could hold a secret ceremony at 3 in the morning declaring my cats to be king and queen of the universe, and it would have more meaning than Paul Bremer giving Allawi some pretty papers. The end of the occupation will come when there are about ZERO foreign troops in Iraq, and not before.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The ongoing war on freedom and justice in Latin America

Frankly, I think that $5 a gallon gasoline and reduced profits for American megacorporations is a price worth paying so that people in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America can have adequate food, housing, education, and healthcare. Unfortunately, neither George W. Bush nor John F. Kerry agrees.

From Alexander Cockburn at CounterPunch:
You can set your watch by it. The minute some halfway decent government in Latin America begins to reverse the order of things and give the have-nots a break from the grind of poverty and wretchedness, the usual suspects in El Norte rouse themselves from the slumber of indifference and start barking furiously about democratic norms. It happened in 1973 in Chile; we saw it again in Nicaragua in the 1980s; and here’s the same show on summer rerun in Venezuela, pending the August 15 recall referendum of President Hugo Chávez.

Chávez is the best thing that has happened to Venezuela’s poor in a very long time. His government has actually delivered on some of its promises, with improved literacy rates and more students getting school meals. Public spending has quadrupled on education and tripled on healthcare, and infant mortality has declined. The government is promoting one of the most ambitious land-reform programs seen in Latin America in decades.

Most of this has been done under conditions of economic sabotage. Oil strikes, a coup attempt and capital flight have resulted in about a 4 percent decline in GDP for the five years that Chávez has been in office. But the economy is growing at close to 12 percent this year, and with world oil prices near $40 a barrel, the government has extra billions that it’s using for social programs. So naturally the United States wants him out, just as the rich in Venezuela do. Chávez was re-elected in 2000 for a six-year term. A US-backed coup against him was badly botched in 2002.

Must Flee TV

Vice President Cheney and his wife, Lynne, and Democratic Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia will speak on the third evening [of the Repug convention].

I hope Useless Dick tells everyone there to, well, you know.

Paul Bremer Leaves Baghdad

So much has changed

Oppose the war by opposing the anti-war candidate!

The Repugs don't have a monopoly on Orwellian nonsense.

From Boondocks.

The Nader bashing has picked up again on our local "peace" e-mail list. And they don't stop with bashing Ralph; they want to bash anyone who might even think about voting for him. One person, Brandon, suggested, since there was some evidence that Republicans were aiding Nader's campaign in Arizona and elsewhere, that the Repugs were our "new friends." Here is how I replied:
I never feel more like voting for Kerry than when I see the ridiculous anti-Kerry ads that the Bushies put out. And I never feel more like voting for Nader than when I read the ridiculous attacks on him from the Kerry supporters. I think both are done largely for the same reason--their own candidate is mostly indefensible. And why anyone thinks that insulting progressives is the best way to get them to vote for Kerry is beyond me.

And, do you really think Kerry would have gotten the Democratic nomination without the support of Republicans, especially those who control the media? I watched many of the debates last year, and Kerry was consistently in the bottom two, whether you were talking issues or likeability or clarity or whatever. But the media used the Dean campaign to co-opt the anti-war movement (away from the true anti-war candidate, Kucinich), and then popped his bubble with idiotic debates about electability. They administered their coup-de-grace with the "Dean scream," as absurd a political non-event as there has ever been. So we were stuck with an awkward pro-war, pro-Patriot Act dullard (I imply boring, not stupid) because the right-wing media said he was electable.

Also, has anyone noticed how most of the Bush scandals were put on hold until after Kerry had the nomination sewn up? First Paul O'Neill, then David Kay, then the AWOL stuff, then Richard Clarke, then Abu Ghraib. All of this stuff was either known or strongly suggested way back into last year or before, but the press did their best to suppress it until a pro-war, pro-globalization, ACCEPTABLE Democrat was in place.

They knew that Kerry couldn't attack them on their greatest weakness, the illegal and insane decision to go to war, since he voted for it. They knew that they could use the silly "Massachusetts Liberal" crap to attack Kerry. And they knew that even if none of that worked that the corporate imperialist agenda would still be in safe hands (probably safer, actually).

A recent poll said that 54% of Americans now think the war in Iraq was a mistake, but Democrats are insulting us for even considering an anti-war candidate, telling us we should shut up and like it. Well I don't, and I think Kerry will likely be our third worst president ever, and the worst not named Bush. I'll see what happens before November, but for now I'm still hoping for a good alternative.

And Brandon--that "new friends" argument is completely out of line. It's the same argument Bush used last week to "link" Saddam and al Qaeda--"they both hate America." I can't control what the Repugs do. I'm against the war, and so is Pat Buchanan. It doesn't mean I'm buddies with Pat.
Michelle has more interesting thoughts on the Nader question.

My suggestion to Kerry supporters? IGNORE Ralph. Don't insult him or his supporters. Look at how well the right-wing attacks on "Fahrenheit 9/11" worked. Top-grossing movie of the weekend. Your attacks on Ralph will only cause more people to compare him to Kerry, a comparison in which your man clearly comes out a distant second.

More than just a sham...

A vile, cynical sham.

From the World Socialist Web Site:
The interim government enjoys no popular legitimacy. The US-installed prime minister, Ayad Allawi, has no base of support outside of Washington and London and is widely seen—with ample justification—as a US agent. A former Baathist who broke with the Saddam Hussein regime in the 1970s, he became an “asset” first of British intelligence, and then of the US Central Intelligence Agency. According to CIA officials interviewed by the New York Times, his organization, the Iraqi National Accord, worked with the agency in the 1990s, organizing car bombings in Baghdad in a bid to destabilize Iraq.

Placing Allawi at the head of what is essentially a powerless puppet regime appears to serve two purposes for Washington. It will put an Iraqi face on an escalation of counterinsurgency operations aimed at crushing popular resistance to the US occupation. At the same time, as an ex-Baathist, Allawi is expected to reach out to remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime in an attempt to reconstruct its secret police apparatus.

This project was signaled in an opinion piece by Allawi published in the Washington Post June 27, in which he announced that his regime was intent on “building counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities,” and added that “the honor of decent Iraqi ex-officials including military and police should be restored.”

The New York Times Monday reported that Bush administration officials had confidence in Allawi “because they regard him as a battle-hardened, politically adept and perhaps even ruthless politician who understands the meaning of force in Iraq’s rough terrain.”

There is little to distinguish this appraisal from those made by the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations of Saddam Hussein in the years before the ousted leader seized Kuwait’s oil fields and fell afoul of US interests.

At his press conference in Turkey Monday, George W. Bush described Allawi and his cohorts as “gutsy” and “as we say in Texas, stand-up guys.” For an administration based on criminality, the attraction of Allawi is entirely understandable.

Meet the New Boss

American officials say that the United States will mobilize all its state-of-the-art television equipment on projecting images of Dr. Allawi around the country, and do its best to publicize his actions and provide secure transportation.
--NY Times

Gee, maybe they can make larger-than-life murals of Allawi and put them on the sides of buildings everywhere! Maybe giant statues in plazas! Iraqis loved it when the last US-installed puppet dictator did that. Allawi would be well advised to recall what happened to that last puppet when he started to deviate even slightly from Washington's plans.

Army Plans Involuntary Callups

5600 members of the Individual Ready Reserve.
The official said the last time the Individual Ready Reserve, mainly made up of soldiers who have completed their active duty obligations, was mobilized in any significant numbers was during the 1991 Gulf War.

Three Marines Killed, Two Wounded

From AP:
A roadside bomb rocked a military convoy in southeast Baghdad on Tuesday, killing three U.S. Marines and wounding two others in the first fatal attack on American forces since they transferred political authority to an interim Iraqi government.
If Iraq actually had sovereignty, this wouldn't have happened. Because if they actually had sovereignty, there wouldn't be any U.S. Marines in Iraq (well, okay, maybe a few at the embassy).

I believe that brings the total number of U.S. military fatalities in Iraq to about 860. Quagmire accomplished.

Monday, June 28, 2004

42 Percent Approval Rating

The lowest of Bush's residency. I guess that's good, but you've still got to worry that 42% of Americans can be this dense. What is there they can possibly approve of?

Bremer Ran for his Life

From Juan Cole:
Paul Bremer suddenly left Iraq on Monday, having "transferred sovereignty" to the caretaker Iraqi government two days early.

It is hard to interpret this move as anything but a precipitous flight. It is just speculation on my part, but I suspect that the Americans must have developed intelligence that there might be a major strike on the Coalition Provisional Headquarters on Wednesday if a formal ceremony were held to mark a transfer of sovereignty. Since the US military is so weak in Iraq and appears to have poor intelligence on the guerrilla insurgency, the Bush administration could not take the chance that a major bombing or other attack would mar the ceremony.

Quote du Jour

A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens.
-- Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

With that statement, I'd suggest that the American people regained a lot more sovereignty today than the Iraqi people did.

Read more about the Supremes' decisions today here.


So Who Won?

From reading the details in the articles, it would appear that things have improved for Yassar Hamdi, Jose Padilla, and the 600 or so "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay because of today's Supreme Court ruling. Reading the headlines, it isn't quite so clear. CNN's headline:
A mixed verdict on the terror war
Rulings offer partial wins for White House, civil rights activists
The Washington Post puts a more positive spin on it:
Enemy Combatants Can Challenge Detentions: Supreme Court rules for U.S. citizens captured abroad in the war on terror.
Detainees Can Use Courts: Supreme Court says Guantanamo detainees picked up abroad can use U.S. courts.
The NY Times headline is similar:
Supreme Court Affirms Detainees' Right to Use Courts
I think I like MSNBC's the best:
Detainees win rights: Supreme Court says U.S. citizens and foreigners held on terrorism charges may challenge their captivity in American courts, a defeat for President Bush.
And good for Sandra Day O'Connor:
"We have no reason to doubt that courts faced with these sensitive matters will pay proper heed both to the matters of national security that might arise in an individual case and to the constitutional limitations safeguarding essential liberties that remain vibrant even in times of security concerns," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the court.

O'Connor said that Hamdi "unquestionably has the right to access to counsel."
I wonder if that old fascist Ted Olson was given a heads-up on these rulings so his resignation wouldn't seem to be directly tied to them. And it's probably just wishful thinking, but it seems as though O'Connor may be having buyer's remorse. She was one of the five who installed aWol in the presidency in December 2000, and it was rumored that she wanted to retire from the court while a Repug was president so she would be replace by another conservative. Over three years later and she's still there; maybe she's now waiting for anybody-but-Bush?

US Out of Iraq Now

Scott Ritter says it's the only way:
"The longer we stay in Iraq the more [likely] it is we are going to create an Iraqi Hezbollah -- an amalgamation of Islamic fundamentalism and Iraqi nationalism -- that will defeat us," he said.

But if the United States just withdrew, "whatever comes out of that will be less of a threat to us than this future Hezbollah," he said.
The U.S. State Department has said that Ritter's assertions are inaccurate, misleading and only helpful to the enemy.
The so-called "enemy" didn't even exist before the invasion. It is basically the Iraqi people we claimed we were liberating, the vast majority of whom would agree with Ritter--US out now.

How to Lose Friends and Aggravate People

Dale Carnegie he ain't. Bush may pardon a turkey every Thanksgiving, but Turkey won't be forgiving him soon for shutting down much of Istanbul for three days. Juan Cole got an e-mail from a friend visiting Istanbul:

There are 15 million people in Istanbul who [are extremely hostile to] Bush. So that he could get a private tour of Topkapi and the rest of Istanbul during this NATO summit, they have closed the following for THREE DAYS: coast road from the airport to Dolmabahce, Galata Bridge, Taksim Square, Besiktas stadium valley, Sirkeci ferry terminals, and the first Bosphorus bridge. Last night we couldn't cross the coast road to view the sunrise from the Marmara. Today we can't get to the islands, because the ferry terminals are closed. Surreal. I'm trying to figure out how to leave my Sultanahmet hotel to get over to Beyoglu for the next couple of days. They recommended before the summit that everyone just leave town, and yesterday everyone I tried to contact was on their way to their summer holiday on the beach. It was like Thanksgiving Wednesday in the US.

Anyone who knows Istanbul knows that such a closure literally turns the city into an open-air prison. There are snipers posted on the next building to our hotel, constant military helicopters buzzing around, and naval craft cruising offshore. If only for sacrificing three days of their life for Bush's secure comfort, people here are furious. The trend in the past couple of years has been to hold such summits in remote locations. What brainchild decided to hold this summit smack in the center of one of the world's largest cities, with hostility running so high?
Bob Harris comments on how the whole world is being told how boorish the American pResident is--the whole world except for America, of course.

Great Moments in Free Speech

Bob Harris has a nice list.

Yeah, right

From the NY Times:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 28 - In a surprise, secret ceremony that was hastily convened to decrease the chances of more violence, United States officials today handed over sovereignty to Iraqi leaders, formally ending the American occupation two days earlier than scheduled.

From Encarta:
sov·er·eign·ty -- noun
  1. top authority: supreme authority, especially over a state;
  2. independence: freedom from outside interference and the right to self-government;
  3. independent state: a politically independent state.
I was going to make this post mostly a rant about the servility of the New York Times, but it seems that even they have developed a conscience in the last hour. When I first read this article an hour ago, there were no quotation marks around "full sovereignty" in the following section:
Although Mr. Allawi's government will have "full sovereignty," according to a United Nations Security Council resolution earlier this month, there will be limits.

The new Iraqi government, consisting of many wealthy exiles who spent years away from Iraq, is barred from making long-term policy decisions and will not control the 160,000 foreign troops remaining in the country. The government has the right to ask them to leave - but has made clear it has no intention of doing so. The government also cannot reverse any of the laws passed by American administrators during the occupation.
So at least the Times recognized the ridiculousness of the claim that Iraq has "full sovereignty." At least there's still CNN to restore my lack of faith in our media:
Members of Iraq's interim government took an oath of office Monday just hours after the United States returned the nation's sovereignty.
No quotes there! In any case, I think this picture adequately defines the new meaning of sovereignty:

That's right! Sovereignty is a blue portfolio! Here's the caption for that photo from the NY Times:
L. Paul Bremer, right, the outgoing U.S. ambassador, handed over sovereignty to Midhat Mahmoud, left, the head of the Iraqi Supreme Court, as Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, center, and other government officials, watched.
It's going great, so far:
Already today security forces, responding to today's announcement, were locking down sections of the capital. Several hotels refused to let guests go in or out, thousands of police stepped into the streets and American fighter jets cut arcs in the sky over Baghdad. Both American and Iraqi officials said they were expecting the handover to be marred by significant terrorist attacks.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

BTW: Afghanistan is still a mess, too

From the Reuters:
Taliban guerrillas kidnapped and then killed 16 people in an Afghan province after finding them with voter registration cards for the country's September elections, a district official said Sunday.

The guerrillas stopped a bus carrying 17 civilians through the district Friday, said Haji Obaidullah, chief of Khas Uruzgan district in the central province of Uruzgan.

The guerrillas took the passengers to the neighboring province of Zabul and killed all but one of them when they found they were carrying voter cards, he quoted the lone survivor as saying.

"They were apparently killed because they were carrying the registration cards," he said.
Jeepers. Even Jeb didn't go that far to keep people from voting. And I thought Georgie said we'd gotten rid of the Taliban. The Afghan war was really just as criminal as the Iraq war (and the Haiti war), and just as messed up. Two marines and two election workers were killed there earlier in the week.

Aren't Two Bloody, Pointless Wars...

Which killed tens of thousands of Muslims and Arabs, most of them innocent of any crimes against the U.S., more than enough retribution for the idiot yahoos in this country? Of course not. Two Americans are allegedly beheaded, one in Iraq and one in Saudi Arabia, and these nutcases want to take it out on every Arab or Muslim or people who vaguely look Arab or Muslim. Thirty years of dumbing down the media, add in a touch of Rush and FoxNews, and you've got maybe the stupidest, most reactionary populace on the planet. Two examples:
"I believe the time is coming when Muslims will not be safe inside the U.S. borders," one man wrote to the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. "I see nothing wrong with us doing the same things to them that they are doing to innocent people."

"It is high time you people wake up and smell the blood," another man wrote to Assaf's group in New Jersey. "Turn in the terrorists. They are your relatives, in a lot of cases. Cousin Omar. Uncle Mohammad. You know what I mean. Until you come forward to help us stamp out this vermin, you are as bad as they."

Saturday, June 26, 2004

F***ing Good Idea, Juan!

Unlike most lefty bloggers, who believe that Veep from the Deep Cheney should just take his own advice (he told Senator Leahy to go f*** himself), Juan Cole thinks he should be fined $275,000 for using profanity in a public space.

Maybe He's on to Something

People join terrorist organizations because there's no hope and there's no chance to raise their families in a peaceful world...
-- George W. Bush, yesterday.

[Jessica] Lynch had joined the army because she couldn't find a decent job in her hometown, Palestine, West Virginia. She had been turned down for a position at Wal-Mart.
In that same interview with Irish TV, AWol showed that he has the doublethink* thing down perfectly:
"There [have] been bombings since then, not because of my response to Iraq. There were bombings in Madrid. There were bombings in Istanbul. There were bombings in Bali. There were killings in Pakistan."
"I do believe the world is a safer place and becoming a safer place."

*Doublethink: The ability to hold two contradictory thoughts in your mind simultaneously and believe both of them. From George Orwell's 1984:

His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself -- that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word "doublethink" involved the use of doublethink.

Friday, June 25, 2004

My Solar Experiment Begins!

I bought a 55-watt solar panel at the Renewable Energy Fair last weekend, and I hooked it up for the first time this evening. The panel was putting out about 19.5 volts. In about 2 1/2 hours of evening sun I used it to charge one of my nine sealed lead-acid batteries. It raised the battery's voltage from about 12.8 to 13.4 volts. It will take another few hours probably to get the battery to its recommended charge level of 14.4 volts.

But you already knew that...

From Tom Toles.

Bombers continue to play Whack-a-Mole

From AP:
The U.S. military launched its third airstrike in a week Friday in Fallujah, using precision weapons to destroy a suspected safehouse for Abu Musab Zarqawi's terror network.
Probably the same sort of "precision" weapons that killed hundreds of people, none of them the intended targets, early in the war. Or the ones that ended a wedding party in western Iraq. Zarqawi is the convenient excuse now for the military to continue bombing the crap out of Fallujah. He's "foreign" (Jordanian), so they can continue to blame "foreign" insurgents, he has alleged links to Osama, so they can claim that this bloody state-sponsored terrorism is somehow fighting terrorism, and he's probably already dead, so they needn't worry about having to cut the bombing campaign short because they've inconveniently killed him.

Exposing Private Ryan

AP reports that Republican candidate for the US in Illinois, Jack Ryan, will abandon his bid because he's a lying kinky pervert. I have no idea why that disqualifies him from being a Republican candidate, but there you go. Ryan can now return to being the fictional president in Tom Clancy novels.

Where was this Al Gore guy in 2000?

This vigorously outspoken member of the opposition has the same name as the wussy Democratic candidate who won the presidency in 2000, but refused to fight for it. I could sure vote for him now! Will it take another stolen election and a couple of years growing a beard for John Kerry to finally grow a spine? Anyhow, here is an excerpt from the new Al Gore's speech from yesterday:
A little over a year ago, when we launched the war against this second country, Iraq, President Bush repeatedly gave our people the clear impression that Iraq was an ally and partner to the terrorist group that attacked us, al-Qaida, and not only provided a geographic base for them but was also close to providing them weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear bombs. But now the extensive independent investigation by the bipartisan commission formed to study the 9/11 attacks has just reported that there was no meaningful relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida of any kind. And, of course, over the course of this past year we had previously found out that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So now, the president and the vice president are arguing with this commission, and they are insisting that the commission is wrong and they are right, and that there actually was a working cooperation between Iraq and al-Qaida.

The problem for the president is that he doesn't have any credible evidence to support his claim, and yet, in spite of that, he persists in making that claim vigorously. So I would like to pause for a moment to address the curious question of why President Bush continues to make this claim that most people know is wrong. And I think it's particularly important because it is closely connected to the questions of constitutional power with which I began this speech, and will profoundly affect how that power is distributed among our three branches of government.

To begin with, our founders wouldn't be the least bit surprised at what the modern public opinion polls all tell us about why it's so important particularly for President Bush to keep the American people from discovering that what he told them about the linkage between Iraq and al-Qaida isn't true. Among these Americans who still believe there is a linkage, there remains very strong support for the president's decision to invade Iraq. But among those who accept the commission's detailed finding that there is no connection, support for the war in Iraq dries up pretty quickly.

And that's understandable, because if Iraq had nothing to do with the attack or the organization that attacked us, then that means the president took us to war when he didn't have to. Almost 900 of our soldiers have been killed, and almost 5,000 have been wounded.

Thus, for all these reasons, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have decided to fight to the rhetorical death over whether or not there's a meaningful connection between Iraq and al-Qaida. They think that if they lose that argument and people see the truth, then they'll not only lose support for the controversial decision to go to war, but also lose some of the new power they've picked up from the Congress and the courts, and face harsh political consequences at the hands of the American people. As a result, President Bush is now intentionally misleading the American people by continuing to aggressively and brazenly assert a linkage between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein.

If he is not lying, if they genuinely believe that, that makes them unfit in battle with al-Qaida. If they believe these flimsy scraps, then who would want them in charge? Are they too dishonest or too gullible? Take your pick.

Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

From Rex Babin.

The Wal-Mart Way

The Invasion Continues

U.S. could send more troops to Iraq.
U.S. military planners are preparing to send possibly as many as 15,000 additional ground troops to Iraq if the level of violence increases, CNN has learned.
Some sovereignty they're going to have there. And talk about throwing good money after bad. Just give up and get out. It may be bad if we leave, but it will be worse if we stay.

Worst President Ever.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Good Riddance

Solicitor General Ted Olson resigns. The constitution is safer already. Olson gives lawyers everywhere a bad name. He argued the case for giving the 2000 election to George Worthless Bush, for which action alone he should rot in hell for all eternity. To this he has added numerous cases as solicitor general where he has consistently argued in favor of reducing civil rights. He has argued for the indefinite detention of "detainees" and "enemy combatants" without hearings, lawyers, or due process. He has argued in favor of "coercive interrogation." Olson would have fit in very well with the Nazis in Germany, and it is a very good thing that he's leaving.

PS: I don't like the guy much.

Whatever you do...

The Eleventh Commandment was not Inherited

Ronald Reagan's youngest son Ron was on Larry King last night, and he had some interesting things to say:
I mean, we've had all these awful pictures from the prison in Iraq and these sort of memos floating around about justifying torture, all this kind of stuff. And it makes you want to take a shower, you know?
No, no, no, no, the stuff about the religion. I thought, ha, funny, you then everybody thought I was talking about George W. Bush. And then I heard -- everybody thought I was talking about George -- but people connected with George W. Bush thought I was talking about George W. Bush. And then I began to think, maybe I was, I just didn't know it.

KING: Do you think he wears his religion on his sleeve? He certainly refers to it more than your father ever did.

REAGAN: Well, you know, there was that answer he gave to the question about, did you talk to your father about going into Iraq? No, I talked to a higher father, you know, the almighty. When you hear somebody justifying a war by citing the almighty, God, I get a little worried, frankly. The other guys do that a lot. Osama bin Laden's always talking about Allah, what Allah wants, that he's on his side. I think that's uncomfortable.

KING: Do you have thoughts on the war?

REAGAN: Sure, I have thoughts on the war.

KING: And what do you think?

REAGAN: And I think we lied our way into the war.

KING: You think it's a mistake?

REAGAN: Absolutely, a terrible mistake. Terrible foreign policy error. We didn't have to do it. It was optional. And we were lied to. The American public was lied to about WMD, the connection between Osama bin Laden and Saddam, which is virtually nonexistent except for fleeting contacts. But they're still trying to pull that one off now, Cheney and all are out there flogging that.

KING: Can I gather from that, that you will not support this president?

REAGAN: No, I won't.

KING: Will you support his opponent?

REAGAN: I will vote for whoever the viable candidate is who can defeat George W. Bush, yes.

KING: So, you might vote for Ralph Nader?

REAGAN: If he were a viable candidate I might.

KING: So the obviously you're going to vote -- what did you think your father would say, if he were here and listening to this?

REAGAN: I don't think he would have gone into Iraq. I think he would have been much more interested in going after Osama bin Laden, who after all planned the 9/11 transactions.

KING: Would he be mad at you for saying, I'm not going to vote for this Republican?

REAGAN: I can't imagine he would be. So long as I was telling the truth he'd be okay with that. And I am. So -- no, I don't think he'd be upset. Again, these are just my personal feelings you've asked, so I'll answer.

KING: You've answered.

REAGAN: I just think it's a terrible mistake. Terrible mistake.
The ball's in your court, wingnuts. Your beloved dead president's son just compared Bush to Osama. And I love this one:
KING: Do you ever think of running for office?


KING: You've got a pretty good name going in.

REAGAN: It seems to work for some people.

And more:
I mean, it says something awfully good about people, I think, that they would, you know, be willing to put up with that kind of thing. Waiting in the heat for hours and all that, really for just two minutes walking around a wooden box. But I think it speaks volumes of both his character, and how that was perceived by people. And again, what they have to compare it with now. I think people have -- just feel like something's not right here in this country right now. You know, I hate to keep going back to the pictures of Abu Ghraib, but they're just, you know, they're emblematic of this, there's something wrong. And that the people in there right now are not like this guy we had then. This was a standup guy. This was an honorable guy. This is not a guy who would put the end run of the Geneva Convention so he could dunk somebody in the water until they thought they were drowning. You know, that's just -- yuck. You know, you really you just want to wash yourself off when you think of that. You didn't get that feeling with him.


I agree with Juan Cole's opinion on the beheadings:
I don't think a lot of press attention should be given to the capture and killing of a single hostage, since the whole point of the captors is to generate such attention. I think the big stories on Tuesday were the killing of 2 more US troops near Balad and the airstrike on Fallujah. The beheading creates a lurid interest, but it doesn't matter to a dead person how he was killed. And, no, beheading has nothing special to do with Islam, it is just grisly and a good tool for terrorists.
The Bill O'Reillys and Senators Inhofe of the wingnut right seem to think that the beheadings justify all manner of bombing and torture on our part. But as Juan said, it has nothing special to do with Islam; in fact, there have been at least three beheadings here in the U.S. in the same time period: A New Jersey man beheaded his grandmother and ex-girlfriend on June 8, and on June 13 a 91-year-old screenwriter was beheaded in Los Angeles, allegedly by a 27-year-old homeless man.

Beheadings are in our popular culture as well. In the movie "Crazy in Alabama" Melanie Griffith's character beheads her husband, and in the Fox TV show "24" hero Jack Bauer beheads a low-life crook, who was going to squeal on his criminal accomplices, so that he (Jack) can infiltrate those same accomplices. (I'll confess that I'm a big fan of both "Crazy in Alabama" and "24.") Americans do whacked-out brutal stuff to each other all the time, both in reality and in fiction; pretending that those Ay-rabs are barbarians because a few have chosen beheading as a way to get attention is hypocritical in the extreme.

Multiple attacks rock Iraqi cities

From the Freeway Blogger

Here. I'll write Scott McLellan's lines for him for today's White House press briefing--

Q: Scott, don't these massive coordinated attacks in Iraq indicate that our policy there is failing?
McLellan: Helen, the President has said all along that there would be an increase of violence in Iraq as the June 30 handover date approached, and that is what we're seeing today. It is not unexpected, and will not shake our resolve to stay the course.
Q: But Scott, if you saw it coming, why couldn't you stop it?
McLellan: Tom, the President has said all along that there would be an increase of violence in Iraq as the June 30 handover date approached, and that is what we're seeing today. It is not unexpected, and will not shake our resolve to stay the course.
Q: Scott, the price of milk seems to have gone up. Does the President intend to take any action to bring milk prices back down?
McLellan: Judy, the President has said all along that there would be an increase of violence in Iraq as the June 30 handover date approached, and that is what we're seeing today. It is not unexpected, and will not shake our resolve to stay the course.

I swear, all the macho talk about staying the course, not being intimidated, not negotiating with terrorists, not showing weakness, and so on, has killed more people than just about anything. If there were a moral basis for our being there it might be a somewhat admirable position, but since the whole screwed-up operation was based on lies, it's just childish and criminal. The course may end up killing us all, George. Get off it!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

INS Raids

Keep the fear up and the help down; it's standard Repug policy. From Polizeros:
In the past week or so, the INS has been staging lightning fast raids in heavily Latino areas, swooping in, setting up roadblocks, demanding papers, then immediately deporting anyone with out papers. These traps are always in Latino areas, and frequently at swap meets, supermarkets and even outside churches on Sunday.

Organizers estimate that at least 7,000 have been deported recently in these raids, which have mainly been in SoCal, but also in northern California and Detroit. No one knows why they are happening. Maybe Bush is throwing red meat to his right flank, trying to energize them to vote in November. The INS says no raids are happening, as they continue to stage more of them.

What is clear is that that the raids are racist. I mean, I'm not hearing of INS roadblocks outside the English and Irish bars in Santa Monica, and lots of people in those bars don't have papers either. Plus the raids target the absolute poorest and the least able to defend themselves.

One Korean gets killed; the US kills 20 "foreign" fighters

From the NY Times:
Up to 20 foreign fighters were killed overnight during an American military strike on a house in the city of Falluja, a senior military official said today.
"They want us to cower in the face of their brutal killings," [Bush] said, "and the United States will not be intimidated by these people."
In other words, Bush wants "them" to cower in the face of "our" brutal killings.

Bush is just so stupid, although he's ably assisted in this by Congress, the media, and huge numbers of Americans. The three people allegedly beheaded in the last month are just three dead among hundreds: Iraqi civilians, police, politicians, American and other allied soldiers, contractors, and so on. Those people are just as dead as Berg and Johnson and Kim. But by reacting to the beheadings (and the mutilations in Fallujah in April) with much more vehemence and violent response than he does to any of the other deaths, Bush is playing right into the hands of those doing the beheadings. I read somewhere recently that the real purpose of terrorist atrocities is to provoke a brutal reaction, and Bush is always happy to oblige. Bombing a house and killing 20 people in Fallujah is not only not the way to stop the violence; it is a big (the biggest?) part of the violence. And believing that Bush is just too stupid to get it is actually the optimistic viewpoint. Maybe he actually does understand that his only hope for re-selection lies in keeping the beheadings coming, with maybe a side of terrorist attack on the homeland. And if he doesn't, I'm pretty sure that Cheney and Rove do.

Say No to GMO's!

Mendocino County in California banned genetically-engineered crops back in March. Butte County, also in California, now has enough petition signatures to put a similar measure on the ballot in November.

Campaigns to block GMO's are growing up across the country and around the world. Read what the Biodemocracy Alliance has to say, and maybe make a donation!

GMO defenders (mainly Monsanto and their bought-off politicians) usually try to frame the argument in terms of whether GMO's are safe to eat. Given that most of us have already been eating them for years, there seems to be a reasonable possibility that most GMO's are not directly bad for you when eaten. But the much more serious issue AND threat to your health comes from the threat to biodiversity. By introducing crops with decidedly un-natural selection advantages into an ecosystem, the GMO growers are threatening the native plants in the region, and the animals which live off of them. GMO's may or may not harm you if you eat them, but they are a serious threat to life on earth. And that includes you!

Always Low Wages. Always.

From Steve Sack.

Bush Claimed Right to Waive Torture Laws

ABC News put the proper headline on this AP story: "Bush Claimed Right to Waive Torture Laws."
Bush's previously secret Feb. 7, 2002, order also agrees with Justice and Pentagon lawyers that a president can ignore U.S. law and treaties.

"I accept the legal conclusion of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice that I have the authority to suspend Geneva (conventions) as between the United States and Afghanistan," Bush wrote. "I reserve the right to exercise this authority in this or future conflicts."
CNN's headline is "Bush: 'I have never ordered torture'," and while the article mentions the 2/7/02 order, it doesn't mention Bush's claim of authority to suspend the Geneva conventions. The NY Times continues to serve as one of Bush's chief propaganda tools. Their headline is White House Says Prisoner Policy Set Humane Tone, and the article doesn't mention the 2/7/02 order at all.

Here's a quick reminder of what it means when a president decides on his own that he can violate treaties that the nation is has entered into:
Article 6, US Constitution: This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution...

Article 2, Section 4, US Constitution: The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
Bush broke the "supreme law of the land," something which at the very least constitutes a "high crime," and is probably treason.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Reagan: Screwing Workers from Beyond the Grave

LABOR – STAFFERS PAY FOR THEIR FORCED HOLIDAY: Guest Services, Inc., the company which operates the cafeteria for the House of Representatives, refused to pay its employees for the recent mandatory federal holiday to commemorate Ronald Reagan on June 11. Instead, the contractor is insisting employees take a vacation day or sick leave. Now, Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Max Sandlin (D-TX) are "stepping up the pressure on contractor Guest Services, Inc. to reverse its decision," with a letter signed by many of their colleagues. "This company is using this national day of mourning to extract compensation from its workforce," Kucinich asserted. "This is just a question of fairness. They are the lowest paid workers on Capitol Hill. ... Why should they be punished?"
Way to go, Dennis! That story is from the Progress Report, which also reports that one of the higher-ups in the Gestapo Homeland Security Department failed to report his ties to a money-launderer for terrorists, but kept his job because he's buddies with government assassin Grover Norquist. (That is, Norquist assassinates governments, not that he's an assassin who works for the government. There's still some doubt about that.) Michelle has more on this story.

Not that they'll listen, but...

My e-mail to Senators Levin and Stabenow, based on last week's vote authorizing 20,000 more troops for the Army:
Dear Senator XXX:
I was disappointed to read that you had voted in favor of adding 20,000 more troops to the Army. George W. Bush has already shown that he does not respect American soldiers. He has also shown a callous willingness to use them in wars of choice. What we need is not more soldiers, but fewer wars. By supplying Bush with more troops, you are enabling him to maintain the illegal occupation of Iraq, and possibly to consider other illegal wars.

From last week's article on the vote:
Voting against the Reed amendment were Republicans Gordon Smith of Oregon, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Larry Craig of Idaho and Craig Thomas of Wyoming. Not voting were Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Republicans Robert Bennett of Utah and James Inhofe of Oklahoma.
Not usually the crowd I would agree with. These clowns voted against it because they were actually stupid enough to believe that Bush doesn't really want more troops (here's a clue for the man-on-dog Repugs--Bush wants more troops, he just doesn't want to have to ask for them).

So every American citizen (well, every citizen of one of the fifty states, anyway) has at least one slimeball senator who decided to buy the drunk another drink. Please contact your own slimeballs and let them know that you don't approve.

Go Get 'Em!

Judge Certifies Suit Accusing Wal-Mart of Sex Discrimination
From Reuters. Actually, Wal-Mart discriminates against people in general. They routinely violate labor laws and anti-trust laws. That this horrible world-destroying corporation is allowed to continue to exist is an abomination. Please don't shop at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club; don't feed the beast!

Check out Wal-Mart Watch for more reasons why you shouldn't shop there, and other actions you can take to stop the Beast of Bentonville.

Evangelicals--Born Again Again?

From the LA Times:
The National Assn. of Evangelicals is circulating a draft of a groundbreaking framework for political action that strongly endorses social and economic justice and warns against close alignment with any political party.

Steeped in biblical morality and evangelical scholarship, the framework for public engagement could change how the estimated 30 million evangelicals in this country are viewed by liberals and conservatives alike.
"When social structures result in such gross disparities and suffering, the Bible writers envision structural solutions, such as periodic land redistribution so that everyone can have access to productive resources and be dignified members of their community," the draft states.
I suspect that most of the so-called evangelicals in America will stick to the Bush-Rush-Fox party line, no matter what the biblical scholars and clergy leading the National Association of Evangelicals may write. But it is encouraging to read that there are some in that movement who are recognizing that the Republican agenda is vastly different, and in most ways actually the opposite of, what a truly Christian agenda would be. If the Repugs add "periodic land redistribution" to their platform, maybe I'll vote for them. But the repeal of the estate tax is pretty much diametrically opposite to land redistribution.

High levels of ignorance are required to keep so-called Christians from realizing that Jesus was a socialist.

Finally a good one, Henry!

From Henry Payne of the Detroit News, usually one of my least-favorite cartoonists.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Guest Commentary

I've hardly seen any news or commentary in the last three days. Brother Jim poses some interesting questions about the Saudis, and I'll share them with you:
Does it seem possible that the Saudis killed 4 "gunmen" immediately after the "gunmen" killed Paul Johnson, the New Jersey helicopter builder, to try to staunch an exodus of expatriates? I mean, what would you do, if you were a rich guy and these expatriates were important to your cash flow? Maybe give them something to wonder about, something to stick around for and see what pans out? If so, I'm just glad I'm not one of the gunmen those Saudis found convenient for the role. And
I'm glad I'm not (nor wasn't) Mr. Johnson, convenient leverage to help the rich guys' enemies to get those expats packing. And no puns on role and roll, please.

So am I to believe that the Saudis could not stop the killing of Mr. Johnson, and now cannot locate any pieces of Mr. Johnson, but knew exactly who and where the perpetrators were, enough to go in shooting?

Trying to discern what is really going on, knowing (or at least strongly suspecting) most information we get is being cranked out by unscrupulous spin-writers who probably don't much of know the truth either, is like trying to write out equations for string-theory.

Why are the Israelis training Kurdish guerrillas? The alliances here are strange -- Turkey/Kurd fighting is picking up, Israel is helping the Kurds -- good timing for the Summer Games? And ceding sovereignty to those wacky Iraqis.


Back in the Saddle

I attended the last day of the Midwest Regional Energy Fair on Sunday. I bought a 55-watt Evergreen solar panel and a basic charge controller, so I'll be able to start experimenting with solar power, maybe this weekend!

Author Richard Heinberg gave a very interesting talk about peak oil, suggesting that we may already be there. (Peak oil is the time when the maximum production of world oil is reached.) Heinberg suggests that several recent developments indicate that, try as they might, the world's oil producers cannot extract oil any faster than they are right now. All of the easy oil has been found, and most of that has already been extracted. What oil is extracted in the future will be harder and more expensive to get.

I think going to the Fair was worth it more from a motivational angle than from an educational one. The workshops weren't personal enough to get any real hands-on know how or to really question the presenters until I could understand; I think I learn the stuff faster by reading about it in books or on the Internet. But being there with some 15,000 people who are really into renewable energy was pretty cool.

I left the fair Sunday about 3:30 in the afternoon. I took the scenic route home, going through Green Bay and then up through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I spent last night in Manistique on the north shore of Lake Michigan. This morning, I drove northeast to Tahquamenon Falls, the biggest waterfall in Michigan. Very pretty country up there. I then got a quick glimpse of Lake Superior and turned south, crossing the Mackinaw Bridge around noon. I arrived back in Ann Arbor around 4:30.

I went about 580 miles on my tank of biodiesel before I had to refuel, approximately 45 miles per gallon. I had to use ordinary diesel coming back, since the rumors of there being biodiesel for sale at the fair proved to be false. I haven't fully refilled the tank yet, but I went about 630 miles on the ordinary diesel (Bear Creek, Wisconsin to Whitmore Lake, Michigan). The VW ran great all the way!

Saturday, June 19, 2004

What has

Amy Goodman, John Stauber, dozens of experts and vendors, solar panels, wind turbines, charge controllers, inverters, 15000 attendees, and me? It's the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin! I drove all night last night to get here, including nearly two hours on the Dan Ryan parking lot in Chicago--a midnight traffic jam! Neither Amy nor John had a lot to say about renewable energy, but their Bush- and media-bashing speeches were well received nonetheless.

I'm typing this on a horrible Internet kiosk in the lobby of the Holiday Inn in Stevens Point while some sleazy lounge band warms up for a wedding reception in the background. The kiosk claims, falsely, to support WiFi access. If it had, I could have posted the much more brilliant post that I had prepared on my laptop instead of this meager effort--and more besides! Probably not much more posting from me until Monday night; try to hold the world together in the meantime!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Putin Joins the Liar Brigade

Of course, he's probably a charter member. Nevertheless, here are some excerpts from an article from the Irish Times, March 21, 2003, by Dan McLaughlin and Derek Scally (sorry, there doesn't seem to be a direct link to the article; I got it through the University of Michigan Library):
Russian President Mr Vladimir Putin cast aside his customary reticence yesterday and ripped into the US over Iraq. He said Washington's attack on Baghdad was unjustified, it undermined global stability and could lead to humanitarian and ecological disaster.
"If the rule of might replaces the rule of law then no country can feel safe," he said. "That is exactly why Russia insists on the swift termination of military action.

"There are already victims and destruction. The whole region is threatened by a major humanitarian and ecological catastrophe," Mr Putin said, denouncing the war as "contrary to global public opinion, the principles and norms of international law and the United Nations Charter". The Russian leader told Washington that he had seen no evidence to support US allegations that Iraq was linked to international terror groups, and said the White House's declared intention of removing President Saddam was illegal.

"What's more, up until the start of [military] operation, Iraq did not represent any danger to its neighbours, or to other countries or regions of the world," he said, while commending UN arms inspectors on their abortive search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and urging Washington to return the crisis to UN control.
So what does Pooty Poot say today?
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in comments sure to help President Bush, declared Friday that Russia knew Iraq's Saddam Hussein had planned terror attacks on U.S. soil and had warned Washington.

Putin said Russian intelligence had been told on several occasions that Saddam's special forces were preparing to attack U.S. targets inside and outside the United States.

"After the events of September 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services several times received information that the official services of the Saddam regime were preparing 'terrorist acts' on the United States and beyond its borders," he told reporters.

"This information was passed on to our American colleagues," he said. He added, however, that Russian intelligence had no proof that Saddam's agents had been involved in any particular attack.
While technically, I guess, Pooty could claim that he didn't contradict himself, since the "official services of the Saddam regime" probably doesn't qualify as an "international terror group." However, he did say last year that "Iraq did not represent any danger to its neighbours, or to other countries or regions of the world," so either these plans were meaningless musings on napkins, or more likely Putin is lying.

And the incredibly useless press claims that Pooty's comments are "sure to help President Bush." Billmon and his commentators offer many possible reasons as to why Putin has become Bush's liar-du-jour.

Defying Bush--Yeah, right

From AP:
Defying the Bush administration, the Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to add 20,000 troops to an Army stretched thin by the war in Iraq and other commitments around the world.
The administration's supposed opposition to more troops was a combination of two things: Their usual refusal to admit they were wrong when they said they had enough troops, and the hope of avoiding talk of a draft until after re-selection in November. The slimeball Senate votes 93-4 to bail aWol out of facing that dilemma. EVERY Democrat present voted for the increase (the only one absent, like he was on the latest Star Wars vote, was John Kerry, but we know how he would have voted--make it 94). Why isn't any of these swine saying that the situation could be improved in a much more efficient way by subtracting at least one war instead of adding 20,000 more troops? This is like buying another drink for a drunk who claims he doesn't want one (almost literally).

Or a more lengthy analogy: You're walking along the street, and you see a guy breaking into a house. You ask, "What are you doing?" He replies that there are all sorts of guns and bombs and stuff in that house, and it's a threat to the neighborhood. A few neighbors come by and say no, there aren't any guns or bombs in there. So the guy says that there are folks tied up in there, and he's going to free them. But when he breaks through the outer door, you can see the people inside moving around freely, telling him to get out. He keeps trying to break in, even though it's now obvious that he's a crook who's been lying all along just so he can break into a house. As he struggles to open the inner door, do you try to stop him, or do you look around for a big stick you can offer him so he can complete his crime? If you chose the second answer, then you too can be a United States Senator.

And for AP to claim that this was "defying" Bush is so completely outrageous that I can't even come up with an analogy for it.

But how?

From Boondocks.

Question of the Day

From yesterday's White House press briefing:
Q As a follow-up on my colleagues over here, do you think that if this was March 1, 2003, and the 9/11 report had come out, and we knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction, do you think the American people would have supported us going to war?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's a complete hypothetical.
The Bush administration blocked the creation of the 9/11 commission for over a year, without which their report (or at the least the interim reports like we're seeing now) might well have been released by March 1, 2003. The Bush administration also told the UN inspectors to leave Iraq, when with a few more months and a lot less bloodshed, they could have arrived at the same conclusion that David Kay did this past January--no WMD's. So that it's a complete hypothetical is entirely the fault of the Bush administration.

Who said this?

If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see farther into the future.
If it weren't for the five-syllable word, I would have guessed W himself. In fact, it was Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, defending the use of cruise missiles against Iraq in February 1998.

I've almost finished Chalmers Johnson's book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, written in 1999. Reading it further confirms my suspicion that the current Bush administration is but the worst symptom so far of the ultimately terminal disease called American Imperialism. And with the brief exception of his anti-war activities in the early 1970's, John Kerry has been a "Kerrier" of that disease all his life, as have been the Clintons (did you see that Hillary voted for more Star Wars crap yesterday?). The Republicratic war party really needs to go, for the good of us all.

Arrogant, Delusional, Lying SOB

Feel free to add your own adjectives to my description of the Veep from the Deep, Fearmaster Useless Dick Cheney. From CNN:
"There clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming," Cheney said in an interview with CNBC's "Capitol Report."

"It goes back to the early '90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts with Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials."

"The press, with all due respect, (is) often times lazy, often times simply reports what somebody else in the press said without doing their homework."

Members of 9/11 commission found "no credible evidence" that Iraq was involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks carried out by al Qaeda hijackers, and they concluded that there was "no collaborative relationship" between Iraq and Osama bin Laden, the network's leader, according to details of its findings disclosed Wednesday at a public hearing.
What Useless Dick will never admit is that the so-called relationship ENDED pretty much at the same time it began--in the early '90's. Somebody arranged a meeting between a representative of Saddam and Osama in the Sudan. They talked, decided they still hated each other, and went their separate ways. To this day, the strongest, and pretty much only, ties between al Qaeda and Iraq can be found in Washington. Without massive support from the Reagan and Bush I administrations (including Cheney), it is unlikely that either Saddam or Osama would have even been minor players on the world scene by the '90's.

And then there's this:
Asked if he knows information that the 9/11 commission does not know, Cheney replied, "Probably."
Given that the commission interviewed Cheney and has repeatedly asked for all of the information that the White House has, that answer in itself should be sufficient grounds for impeachment of Cheney.

Sue Bush for Malpractice

Shorter Bob Herbert: The system worked. So of course Bush wants to change it.
To bolster his argument Mr. Bush introduced a local doctor, Compton Girdharry, to an audience at Youngstown State University. Dr. Girdharry, an obstetrician/gynecologist, said he had been driven from a practice of 21 years by the high cost of malpractice insurance.

The president praised Dr. Girdharry and thanked him for his "compassion."
When you read the rest of Herbert's column, you'll see that it was a very good thing that Girdharry was forced to abandon his bloody practice. A greedy capitalist system like ours needs pushy rich lawyers to keep the rich doctors and rich insurance companies from taking all the money with total impunity.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Let's Hope It Finally Sinks In

That this president is a miserable failure. From the NY Times:
Now, in 17 preliminary staff reports, that panel has called into question nearly every aspect of the administration's response to terror, including the idea that Iraq and Al Qaeda were somehow the same foe.

Far from a bolt from the blue, the commission has demonstrated over the last 19 months that the Sept. 11 attacks were foreseen, at least in general terms, and might well have been prevented, had it not been for misjudgments, mistakes and glitches, some within the White House.

In the face of those findings, Mr. Bush stood firm, disputing the particular finding in a staff report that there was no "collaborative relationship" between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist organization. "There was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda," Mr. Bush declared.

Such assertions, attributed by the White House until now to "intelligence reports," may now be perceived by Americans as having less credibility than they did before the commission's staff began in January to rewrite the history of Sept. 11, in one extraordinarily detailed report after another.
Will the Repugs finally call for getting Bush and Cheney off of the ballot? Will the Dems finally call for impeaching the whole lot of scumbags? Will enough people finally see that the whole "war on terrorism" is a crock, and that imperialist scumbags like Bush and Kerry (whose "opposition" to Bush's policies and actions has been mostly nonexistent, and the rest of the time pitiful) shouldn't even be considered for president?

The Only Choice is the War Party

Kurt Nimmo reminds us how much like the Repugs the Democrats, including Kerry and both Clintons, really are.
Democrats, of course, are attacking Bush because they want John Kerry in the White House next year. Kerry says he will continue Bush's failed policy in Iraq with the notable exception that he would "internationalize" the mess and ask Europeans to help out in the murder of Iraqi freedom fighters and innocent civilians.

Turn Democrats upside down and they look like Republicans. Most of them voted for Bush's invasion. Most of them believe killing Iraqis will return the sort of results the neocons had in mind when they lied their way into the invasion. Most of them are responsible for war crimes. Most of them should be standing alongside Bush and his neocons rabble in the docket at the Hague.

How soon we forget.

Clinton attacked Yugoslavia. He ordered the bombing of civilian targets -- homes, roads, farms, factories, hospitals, bridges, churches, monasteries, columns of refugees, TV stations, office buildings -- and killed a "few thousand random civilians for good measure, and thus weakening the will of the population to resist, so that they would submit to NATO occupation," as David Ramsay Steele summarizes. By attacking Yugoslavia Clinton and the Democrats basically laid the groundwork for Bush and the neocons: For Clinton and the Democrats, it is perfectly acceptable to attack other nations -- this is not a Republican proclivity -- even if they pose no threat to the United States or anybody else. The United Nations does not need to be consulted.
The whole article is here.

Fahrenheit 9/11

The neanderthals at Move America Forward are attempting to stop theaters from showing F 9/11. They have conveniently supplied the e-mail addresses for many theaters that are showing it or considering doing so. I'm currently working my way through the first list, sending the following message:
Subject: Thanks for showing Fahrenheit 9/11!

I understand from the fascists at "Move America Forward" that you will be showing Michael Moore's F 9/11 at your theaters. Congratulations, and thank you for truly standing up for America!

Bush Still Running on Osama's Endorsement

From William Rivers Pitt:
[I]magine an America today had September 11 not happened.

Would we tolerate a President who drove us to war on the basis of lies and exaggeration? Would we tolerate a President who used fear against his own people to get what he wanted? Would we tolerate a President whose people destroyed deep-cover CIA agents as a means of exacting political revenge? Would we tolerate a President who gave away billions of our tax dollars to his closest corporate friends, under the cover of the aforementioned lies and exaggerations? Would we tolerate a President who made the torture of fellow human beings an accepted policy, whose advisors and attorneys concocted twisted arguments to defend such torture, who came to the conclusion that the President is absolutely, totally and without exception above the law?

Put another way, would we have tolerated any of this had it happened during the Clinton administration? Certainly not. Had Clinton done even one of these things, he would have been impeached and removed from office, deservedly so, and none of us would have been required to hear about stained dresses and thong underwear.

That was then, and this is now.

The time has come, bluntly, to get over September 11, to move beyond it, to extract ourselves from this bunker mentality which blinds us while placing us in mortal peril. It happened, and it will never be forgotten, but we have reached a place where fear and obeisance can no longer be tolerated.

Zarqawi Never Sleeps

From CNN:
Iraq's interim interior minister said that he believes insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi could be behind the deadly car bombing.
The one-legged and quite possibly dead Zarqawi is amazing--sending off desperate e-mails to Osama one day, beheading an American the next, setting off car bombs the next, all conveniently timed to distract attention from the latest evidence of Bushian war crimes. Now proudly wearing the Emmanuel Goldstein mantle of anti-American supervillainy, taking over for Saddam and Osama and Khaddafi and Noriega and Castro and others: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!

And don't forget that Zarqawi only lives, if indeed he does, at the pleasure of the Bush administration, who didn't "take him out" in 2002 when he was apparently running terrorist camps in US/Kurd controlled northern Iraq because Zarqawi was the only link they could find between Osama and Sadaam-a. Never mind that the link with Osama is tenuous and with Saddam non-existent. Bush is still pushing Zarqawi as the link.

PS: Isn't "interim interior minister" redundant in Iraq?

Don't Believe Everything You Read

Eli correctly points out that the "details" of the planning for 9/11 being reported in the last couple of days need to be taken with a large grain of salt. If you can believe the media, and the 9/11 Commission, and the CIA (three big ifs), most of the info seems to have come from interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. So even if you buy that the US has someone named Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in custody at the Kandahar Hilton or wherever, and that he really was Osama's right-hand man involved in plotting 9/11, you've really got to ask "Is he telling the truth?" He could be supplying disinformation, or more likely just making stuff up to evade further torture.

Eli's point isn't that the information is all wrong, but that most of the mainstream media is presenting it as fact, even though it's clearly based on a very shaky house of cards. Every link, from the mouth of a supposed terrorist to the CIA to the Bush administration to the 9/11 Commission to the front page of the NY Times, is of questionable reliability.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Burn Those Bridges!

The usually brilliant Billmon is being brilliant--as usual. He notes the following story:
Coalition officials said they would hand over the civilian part of Baghdad International Airport to Iraqi authorities about July 1 and the military side by mid-August, a senior coalition official said.
The preceding paragraph in the story?
An Iraqi police officer was killed and five Iraqi civilians were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near a U.S. convoy in Ramadi. U.S. Marines arrested seven Iraqis, including six members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Force, for alleged involvement in the attack, military officials said. (emphasis added)
Billmon suggests that the CPA would be a lot smarter to turn over Saddam and keep the airport, since it's likely to be their only way out of Dodge when the Iraqis REALLY claim their sovereignty.

Good Riddance

One of the many criminals working in the Bush administration, Otto J. Reich, has resigned. I don't have the time to dig up all the sorry details about this guy right now, but I know I read some horrible things about him a couple of years ago which I believe were true, including links to a terrorist who blew up a Cuban airliner. Maybe in the morning I'll have time to find more--probably some other blogger is doing it right now.

How Stupid Are They at the NY Times?

In David Stout's article on the report that al Qaeda may have originally had ten targets instead of just four, there is this paragraph:
Mr. Atta said he thought the White House would be too difficult a target, though it was not clear why. Better to hit the Capitol, Mr. Atta reportedly argued. "Atta selected a date after the first week of September so that the United States Congress would be in session," the report states.
Anybody who has ever visited Washington, or seen pictures, should know why the White House would be a much more difficult target than the Capitol (or the Pentagon or especially the WTC)--It is a much smaller building. It is surrounded by trees. There are much taller buildings on three sides of it. The only relatively open approach for a jet plane would be from the angle shown in this photograph

(Click here for larger image)

But that photo was taken from the top of the Washington Monument, meaning the hijacking pilot would have to maneuver around a 550-foot building and aim right down the middle between rows of trees to have any hope of doing more damage than just setting the Rose Garden on fire. In contrast, the Capitol is much larger, sits on a hill, is much farther from the Washington Monument, and the National Mall provides all the approach guidance any suicide hijacker could hope for:

(Click here for larger image)

Anyone who has ever played with a flight simulator program knows that precisely controlling altitude is much more difficult than steering left and right--if you don't know exactly how to balance the use of the throttle with the aerodynamic controls, you can easily overshoot or undershoot your intended landing point by a half-mile or more in a big jet. A target that sticks up well above its surroundings, like the Capitol or especially the WTC would be much easier to hit.

Really. A reporter who can't figure this stuff out has no business writing for the Crawford Republican, much less the New York Times.

Why do they hate US?

This site has the answers (via Michelle).

Pushing the Envelope

Israel's Likud Party knows how to play the game. By having some hardliners push for Israeli occupation of Gaza until the end of time (coming shortly, according to American evangelicals), they've managed to get terrorist and mass murderer Ariel Sharon cast as somewhat of a moderate in the press for his supposed policy of withdrawing from Gaza by the end of 2005 (after flattening it first, of course).

I'd love to be wrong, but it seems to be pretty much a certainty that Sharon will use his new "moderate" label for political advantage (it may have already worked with the dropping of bribery charges against him), and continue to demolish homes in Gaza and assassinate Palestinians. After a while, inevitably another bus will blow up in Haifa and Sharon will have his excuse to re-invade Gaza.

Earth to Dick Cheney and William Safire

No al Qaeda cooperation with Iraq, according to the 9/11 commission. Bush has repeatedly admitted that no evidence points to Iraqi ties to 9/11, but Useless Dick Cheney, the Veep from the Deep, continues to insist on Saddam-al Qaeda ties, and Bush is backing him up.
''At various times Al Qaeda people came through Baghdad and in some cases resided there," said David Kay, former head of the CIA's Iraq Survey Group, which searched for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorism. "But we simply did not find any evidence of extensive links with Al Qaeda, or for that matter any real links at all."

"Cheney's speech is evidence-free," Kay said. It is an assertion, but doesn't say why we should be believe this now."

"Mr. David Kay reported to the nation. I want to thank him for his good work. He is a thoughtful man." -- George W. Bush, October 3, 2003.

Fahrenheit 9/11: "A really brilliant piece of work"

That's the opinion of critic Roger Friedman on Fox News!
But once "F9/11" gets to audiences beyond screenings, it won't be dependent on celebrities for approbation. It turns out to be a really brilliant piece of work, and a film that members of all political parties should see without fail.

As much as some might try to marginalize this film as a screed against President George Bush, "F9/11" — as we saw last night — is a tribute to patriotism, to the American sense of duty — and at the same time a indictment of stupidity and avarice.
But, really, in the end, not seeing "F9/11" would be like allowing your First Amendment rights to be abrogated, no matter whether you're a Republican or a Democrat.

The film does Bush no favors, that's for sure, but it also finds an unexpectedly poignant and universal groove in the story of Lila Lipscombe, a Flint, Mich., mother who sends her kids into the Army for the opportunities it can provide — just like the commercials say — and lives to regret it.

Lipscombe's story is so powerful, and so completely middle-American, that I think it will take Moore's critics by surprise. She will certainly move to tears everyone who encounters her.
On the other hand, there are more than enough moments that seemed to resonate with the huge Ziegfeld audience.

The most indelible is Bush's reaction to hearing on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, that the first plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Bush was reading to a grade-school class in Florida at that moment. Instead of jumping up and leaving, he instead sat in front of the class, with an unfortunate look of confusion, for nearly 11 minutes.

Moore obtained the footage from a teacher at the school who videotaped the morning program. There Bush sits, with no access to his advisers, while New York is being viciously attacked. I guarantee you that no one who sees this film forgets this episode.
Cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, along with numerous lesser lights like Al Franken, Bill O'Reilly, Tom Brokaw, Al Sharpton, Kurt Vonnegut and Martha Stewart, attended the premier. The film got a standing ovation, although Franken reports that O'Reilly left early.

BTW, Lila Lipscombe will attend the F911 screening for our local peaceniks on July 4!

The All-Purpose Terrorist

Invasion problems? Need someone to blame your troubles on, someone to write a letter saying you're winning when you're not, someone to behead someone just in time to distract attention from your own scandals? Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is your man! Though he has a poorly-fitting prosthetic leg and is probably long dead, Zarqawi can still send letters to Osama:
A leader of militants in Iraq has purportedly written to Osama bin Laden saying his fighters are being squeezed by U.S.-led coalition troops, according to a statement posted Monday on Islamic Web sites.

It was not possible to authenticate the statement allegedly from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian whose insurgent group claimed responsibility for the videotaped beheading of American Nicholas Berg.
As Michelle points out, a similar "Zarqawi" letter was conveniently discovered back in March.

Geez, George, why not blame him for the trade deficit and that ridiculous Medicare "reform" bill? Zarqawi is nothing if not versatile!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Exterminate the Exterminator

Put the hammer to the hammer! Congressman Chris Bell (D-TX) has filed ethics charges against Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Hades).
"It's my opinion Mr. DeLay is the most corrupt politician in America today," Rep. Chris Bell of Texas said after filing the complaint, which stretches to 187 pages, including copies of tax forms, newspaper articles and other supporting material.
From what I've read about DeLay, Bell is seriously understating the case. DeLay is the most corrupt person in the world ever--even aWol himself is less corrupt than DeLay. Go get 'im, Chris!

Torture--Then and Now

Digby compares the "Justice" Department-approved torture methods to those used in the Hanoi Hilton 35 years ago. Guess what? Pretty much the same.

Biodiesel Looking Better All the Time

Remember when Wolfowitz was claiming that Iraq's oil could pay for Iraq's reconstruction? It looks now like oil revenues may not be enough to pay for the reconstruction of the pipelines.

From Reuters:
Saboteurs have struck a new blow to Iraq's vital oil industry, cutting exports to a third of their previous level, shippers said on Tuesday.

Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban confirmed blasts at a pipeline feeding storage tanks at Basra oil terminal in the Gulf.

"There were two sabotage cases. We are assessing the situation now," he told Reuters.

Shippers in the region said export rates had fallen below 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) from about 1.7 million. Some later said exports from Basra were at a complete halt. An Iraqi industry official said repairs could take seven to 10 days.
I'm guessing that the Saudi's recent increase in oil production, clearly a Bush campaign stunt, won't keep gasoline prices from resuming their climb very soon. Three dollars a gallon nationwide by Labor Day!

The Times They Are a Changin'

New York Times' reporters are now correcting their own lies in the same article in which they appear. Here's the opening sentence from yesterday's article about the supposed "shopping mall bomber:"
A Somali citizen living in Ohio has been charged in an alleged plot by Al Qaeda to bomb an unidentified shopping mall in Columbus, according to an indictment unsealed on Monday by federal prosecutors.
And here's the ninth paragraph (emphasis added):
The indictment against Mr. Abdi makes no mention of the alleged plot to blow up a shopping mall. That reference was contained in the motion filed by prosecutors to keep Mr. Abdi in custody. The government's motion said that Mr. Abdi, Mr. Faris and other co-conspirators "initiated a plot to blow up a Columbus area shopping mall, and accepted bomb-making instructions from one of those co-conspirators."
Krugman notes that Ashcroft's announcement of the indictment came a day after the "Justice" Department's torture memo was made public. As Eli points out, Abdi was arrested in November. There's a pattern here, as Krugman notes:
For an example of changing the subject, consider the origins of the Jose Padilla case. There was no publicity when Mr. Padilla was arrested in May 2002. But on June 6, 2002, Coleen Rowley gave devastating Congressional testimony about failures at the F.B.I. (which reports to Mr. Ashcroft) before 9/11. Four days later, Mr. Ashcroft held a dramatic press conference and announced that Mr. Padilla was involved in a terrifying plot. Instead of featuring Ms. Rowley, news magazine covers ended up featuring the "dirty bomber" who Mr. Ashcroft said was plotting to kill thousands with deadly radiation.
But the SCLM (so-called liberal media) posts big headlines every time Chicken-Little Ashcroft screams that the sky is falling.


From Rex Babin.

From Jim Morin.

Hmm...Maybe they were right, Mr. Stantis?

Scott Stantis is a conservative cartoonist for the Birmingham (AL) News. While I disagree with most of his cartoons, they rarely tick me off like some of the other knuckle-draggers out there (Chuck Asay, Henry Payne, Michael Ramirez, for example). But it's interesting to compare his cartoon from January 2001, when not enough Democrats were putting up resistance to John Ashcroft's nomination as Attorney General, with his latest cartoon:

January 12, 2001

June 14, 2004

I guess I could accuse Stantis of being a "flip-flopper," but I prefer to congratulate him on finally seeing the light about Ashcroft. I hope the hoods are finally coming off the heads of some other Republicans, and they're finally seeing exactly what sort of sadistic morons are actually running this country.

BTW, Paul Krugman has a good column today about Ashcroft. The first sentence?
John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history.
It's good, but still pretty mild compared to the in-his-ugly-face tongue-lashing that Senator Leahy gave Ashcrotch last week.

Pointing the Finger

Teflon for Criticism, Velcro for Praise

No Comment

My problem with posting yesterday was because I had once again run out of web space, even though I bought an extra 20 MB just a few weeks ago. The reason my space has been disappearing is something called "post pages," which is where each post I make gets its own separate web page and url. When these are turned on, blogger creates post pages for every single post I've ever made, in addition to the regular monthly archive pages. So my web space disappears quickly.

Unfortunately, I can't use comments unless I use post pages, so I've had to remove comments from the blog. You can always send me your feedback via e-mail:

Seals the Deal

From Steve Sack.

Monday, June 14, 2004

In Venezuela, the Opposition Controls the Media

Including the Washington Post. Michelle, who was on the same Global Exchange trip to Venezuela in April that I was, explains the distortions and lies in the Post's editorial. It's really quite scary to see how a fairly well-respected newspaper is so willing to lie in the service of American imperialism. Chavez has opposes the FTAA, and he has our oil. The Bushies and the Post will tell whatever lies they feel are necessary to remove him.

The stuff about "quasi-authoritarian rule" is absolute nonsense. Chavez faces a wealthy opposition which controls most of the media and much of the economy in Venezuela, and which is backed overtly and covertly by Washington-based meddlers. His power rests solely on the strong support of a large portion of the population. The "quasi-authoritarian rule" that the Post should be concerned about is right down the street, where the pResident's lawyers have been telling him that he has the inherent right to break any law he sees fit. Venezuela is a paragon of democracy compared to this country.

Posting Problems

If and when this gets posted, so will the seven or eight posts below it. Blogger has been giving me errors all afternoon and evening.

The End is Near

For the Bushies, according to Michael Ruppert. He says that the resignations of George Tenet and his CIA underling James Pavitt were part of a carefully orchestrated CIA plot to overthrow the Bush administration.

As wingnut heads explode...

The years have done a lot to clarify the strengths of this man. As a candidate for any office, whether it be the state attorney general or the President, Bill Clinton showed incredible energy and great personal appeal. As chief executive, he showed a deep and far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need, and the forward-looking spirit the Americans like in a President. Bill Clinton could always see a better day ahead -- and Americans knew he was working hard to bring that day closer.

Over eight years, it was clear that Bill Clinton loved the job of the presidency.
He's a man of enthusiasm and warmth, who could make a compelling case and effectively advance the causes that drew him to public service.
Who said that? Why, none other than George W. Bush, today. And a double whammy--look at what he says about Hillary:
Mr. Rodham did have the joy of seeing his only daughter become America's First Lady. And I know he would not be surprised to see her as she is today, an elected United States Senator, and a woman greatly admired in our country. From the earliest days of her youth in Park Ridge, Illinois, Hillary Rodham impressed her family and friends as a person of great ability and serious purpose. At Maine Township High School South, at Wellesley College, and at Yale Law School, classmates saw her not just an achiever, but as a role model and as a leader. She inspires respect and loyalty from those who know her, and it was a good day in both their lives when they met at the library at Yale Law School Library.

Hillary's commitment to public service continued when she left this house. Listen, New York politics is a serious business -- (laughter) -- it's rough business. It takes an extraordinary person to campaign and win the United States Senate. She has proven herself more equal to the challenge. And she takes an interesting spot on American history today, for she is the only sitting senator whose portrait hangs in the White House.
So last week, he's shmoozing with Chirac, and today he's praising Slick Willie and Hillary. The ball's in your court, Rush, but it sounds like a trifecta to me.

Fourth of July: Fahrenheit 9/11, AAACP & Lila!

From the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace:
The AAACP will be the beneficiary of a special screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 on the Fourth of July!

And here's the really special part: Lila Lipscomb, from Flint, will address the audience after the movie.

Featured prominently in the film, Lila is the mother of a U.S. soldier who was killed in Iraq last year. Her story is the movie's emotional centerpiece. See below for more information about Lila and Fahrenheit 9/11.

The low-down:

Fahrenheit 9/11: Benefit showing for Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace
Movie followed by discussion with Lila Lipscomb: military mom who lost her son in the Iraq war, featured prominently in the film.

Sunday July 4
6 pm
Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty
Tickets: $10 at the door.
We're working on a plan for advance sales and will keep you posted.

Devote this Fourth of July to peace! March along with our peace float that morning in the downtown Ann Arbor parade. Gather between 9:30 and 10 am near William and Maynard -- details forthcoming. Then come back downtown for the film at 6 pm.

Links & info. on Lila and Fahrenheit 9/11

Flint woman spotlighted in Moore's latest movie
Detroit Free Press, 5/29/04

Lila Lipscomb used to hate antiwar protesters.

This summer, though, she is likely to be embraced by them, thanks to the key roles she and her late son -- who died serving in with the Army in Iraq -- play in Michael Moore's new movie.

Lipscomb, 49, is the latest ordinary person from Michigan plucked by Moore to star in one of his films. His documentary "Farenheit 9/11" is a scathing attack on President George W. Bush and the war against terrorism....

Lipscomb is onscreen for 20 minutes of the 110-minute film. She recounts the death of her 26-year-old son, Sgt. Michael Pedersen, a crew chief on a Black Hawk helicopter that crashed in Iraq on April 2, 2003. She talks about her grief, her evolving views on war and her disdain for Bush.

In the movie, she stands in front of the White House, declaring, "I finally have a place to put all my pain and anger."

She also reads her son's last letter, in which he describes his own rage at Bush and his questions about U.S. policy.

"He got us out here for nothing whatsoever. I am so furious right now, Mama," the letter says.

Riyadh and Weep

From the Dreyfuss Report:
The weekend’s events in Iraq make it clear that the buzz of supposedly good news that mesmerized press and pundits after the UN vote and the G8 meeting has evaporated. Two deputy ministers killed in two days, a wave of car bombings, more dead Americans, and Muqtada Sadr forming a political party, right out in the open—not a pretty picture.

So let’s turn our attention to Iraq’s two neighbors, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Before the war in Iraq, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Akins, told me that by invading Iraq the Bush administration would accelerate the spread of Al Qaeda-style movements in Saudi Arabia, and it’s happening. The country is said to be in a state of incipient civil war, and the royal family is apparently unable to stem the spread of the bin Ladenite poison. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States has called on the kingdom to conduct an all-out war against the terrorists, but it could be too little, too late. Make no mistake, however: if Saudi Arabia falls to radicals, U.S. forces will occupy that country’s oil fields faster than you can say "imperialism." And if that happens, it will be Phase 2 of the neocons’ expanded plans for the Middle East: first topple Saddam and “flatten Iraq,” as another former ambassador to Saudi Arabia described the essence of the neocon Iraq strategy, and then move on to Saudi Arabia.

“I’ve stopped warning that bin Laden might take over Saudi Arabia,” Akins told me last year. “I think that’s exactly what they want.” And then American forces would move in. No U.S. government could tolerate the collapse of Saudi Arabia. Oil experts are already pointing out that sources of oil outside Saudi Arabia and Iraq are rapidly being drained, meaning that those two countries are basically the only two sources of expanded future supply. Period.

I'll take Hugo

From Agence France Presse:
"Hugo Chavez and George W. Bush will face off in the August 15 referendum," Chavez told supporters. "That is the real confrontation."

He said Venezuela's political battle would play out between the US president, "who wants to take over this country, and myself, who is prepared to do whatever is necessary to defend the country.

"The fight is not between Chavez and" the opposition," he said. "It's between Chavez and Bush. That's the choice."

The latest torture memo

dissected. While a serious, in-depth look into the unconstitutional depravities into which the Bushies have fallen, it concludes with this quote from Jay Leno:
According to the “New York Times”, last year White House lawyers concluded that President Bush could legally order interrogators to torture and even kill people in the interest of national security - so if that’s legal, what the hell are we charging Saddam Hussein with?

Puppet Government Objects to Contractor Immunity

The Bushies have apparently asked the latest Iraqi puppet government to extend the immunity for U.S. military forces from criminal prosecution provided in the recent U.N. resolution to include immunity for the thousands of private contractors (read "mercenaries") infesting the country. These soldiers of fortune working for Dyncorp and Titan and CACI and Halliburton and Blackwater do the dirtiest of dirty work and are basically responsible to nobody, except maybe the mobs of Fallujah.

Apparently believing the lie that they have any autonomy or sovereignty whatsoever, the new "government" is objecting:
In that light, the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority has asked Allawi to grant the contractors immunity from prosecution in Iraq similar to that granted soldiers, said George Sada, Allawi's spokesman. "They have made that demand," Sada said. "We think it is a bit too much. It is under discussion."
Good luck, fellas. If the insurgents don't get you with a car bomb, those contractors will.

Torture Tied to White House

The Washington Post has the transcript of an August 2002 memo from the "Justice" Department to the White House, which, like the "Defense" Department memo of March 2003 which was disclosed by the Wall Street Journal last week, basically okays torture under almost all conditions.

Hopefully, now that Reagan is FINALLY buried, the press and Congress can FINALLY get around to their jobs of getting rid of our fascist administration.

Shorter Dr. Frank: Bush is Nuts

From Juan Cole:
Dr. Frank: The Cure for Bush's Neuroses: Get him Out of Office

Psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank puts George W. Bush on the couch and comes up with disturbing findings.

The findings:

1. Sadism: ' the President has a ""lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions ... [and] pumping his fist gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad." '

2. Megalomania: ' The President suffers from "character pathology," including "grandiosity" and "megalomania" -- viewing himself, America and God as interchangeable. '

3. Paranoia ' says President George W. Bush is a "paranoid meglomaniac" '

Dr. Frank reports that after long observations of Bush, he felt "he was disturbed."

' "I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote, and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed," Dr. Frank told Leiby. Bush, he said, "fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated." Dr. Frank's expert recommendation? ""Our sole treatment option -- for his benefit and for ours -- is to remove President Bush from office . . . before it is too late." '

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Days of Lyin' and Roses Are Over

Colin Powell says the State Department report which said that terrorism was down was a "big mistake.":
It's a numbers error. It's not a political judgment that said, "Let's see if we can cook the books." We can't get away with that now. Nobody was out to cook the books. Errors crept in.
"We can't get away with that now."Not like the good old days of February, 2003, when you told one whopper after another to the UN, eh, Colin?

The View from the Civilized Country to our North

The Canadian Globe & Mail reflects on the meaning of the Bushies' torture memo:
"The right to self-defence, even when it involves deadly force, is deeply embedded in our law, both as to individuals and as to the nation as a whole," a team of lawyers at the Pentagon said in a 56-page memo to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in March of 2002.

These justifications represent a break from the post-Second-World-War consensus of the civilized world. This is a watershed moment, not only for the United States but for the rule of law worldwide.

The United Nations Convention Against Torture ("no exceptional circumstances whatsoever . . . may be invoked as a justification of torture"), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -- these are the very anchors of the postwar determination to protect the inherent dignity of the individual. They may now be treated as obsolete.

What would the world look like without these anchors? Abu Ghraib provides one example. The U.S.-run prison on the outskirts of Baghdad, formerly Saddam Hussein's favourite torture chamber, featured sexual humiliation, beatings and threats of imminent death. "This is not America," President George Bush said at the time.

Yet if U.S. law now justifies torture, Abu Ghraib is America. And there is no reason to believe this version of America ends at Abu Ghraib.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Hijack Field Training Exercise on 9/11

From Michael Ruppert:
I have obtained an on-the-record statement from someone in NORAD, which confirmed that on the day of 9/11 The Joint Chiefs (Myers) and NORAD were conducting a joint, live-fly, hijack Field Training Exercise (FTX) which involved at least one (and almost certainly many more) aircraft under US control that was posing as a hijacked airliner.
Michelle asks "How nice a cover might that be for what actually took place?" I ask: "What if those FTX planes were the ones that did hit the WTC towers and the Pentagon?" It is well within U.S. technological capabilities to hijack planes by remote control. This would also explain the reports that many of the 19 supposed hijackers are alive and living in north Africa.

The extent of the coverup and misdirection used by the Bushies to prevent us from finding out what really happened on 9/11, and the subsequent documentation of how readily they will lie about anything, makes even the most implausible of conspiracy theories seem possible. These people used lies, dirty tricks, and outright theft to gain the White House. They distribute huge amounts of taxpayer money to their cronies in secret. They've started two wars on false pretenses (three if you count Haiti), killing thousands in the process. They've taken steps in advance to protect themselves from being prosecuted for war crimes which they subsequently committed. They have systematically violated the Constitution they swore to uphold. There really is no basis for believing that there are certain things so awful that they are not capable of doing them. They are criminals. Criminals commit crimes, and try not to get caught.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

It's past time to just assume that everything the Bushies say is a lie, and everything they do is for an evil purpose. Maybe they occasionally tell the truth and do something good, but those occasions are so few and far between that Congress and the rest of us would be much better off to just assume the worst and force the Bushies to prove their case on every issue.

Reader Rick sends the following about Michael Powell's latest attempt to screw us all:
Let me talk a minute about another front in their propaganda war, one that concerns me personally as a Ham radio operator:
For the past year or so, Michael Powell (Yes, Colin's son.) as chairman of the FCC, has been attempting to railroad thru a relaxation of the Part 15 rules on 'unintentional radiation by unlicensed services' to facilitate the deployment of Broadband over Power Lines technology. The
administration is touting it as a means to bring broadband internet connections to the entire country, by utilizing the existing Power distribution lines as the communication medium.

For several technical reasons, this simply does not work:
1) Power transmission lines are optimized for the transmission of energy at 60Hz. There are good technical reasons why an engineer would choose coaxial cable, twisted pair, or fiber over widely-spaced parallel transmission lines for signals in the 2-80Mhz range where they are proposing to modulate the data signals. At those frequencies, the power transmission lines don't contain the energy, they act like an antenna!
2) A radiator works in both directions. If energy is leaking out of a system, it is also susceptible to radiation leaking in. Thus, if the BPL signals are radiating out to the neighborhood, a legitimate, Ham radio, CB, Public service, Pager, or other Licensed service (which has priority over unlicensed services per the Communications Act of 1934) can also leak in and disrupt the data signals.
3) The claim that BPL will bring broadband internet technology to anyone that has a power plug is patently false. Because of the losses described above, the data signals can only traverse a few miles on the power lines before they are too weak to be deciphered, so 'repeaters' must be installed. In practice, the implementers are running separate fiber optic cables out to the neighborhoods, then using BPL only for the 'last mile' to the house. This need for a separate pure-digital backbone network is NO DIFFERENT than existing ISDN, cable-modem or DSL technology, and thus the cost of delivering high-speed broadband to sparsely populates rural areas will be just as prohibitive as the current technologies.

The end result appears to me that the administration is pushing this for two reasons: First, it's an opportunity to funnel large 'Research' grants to their business friends, so that they can develop technologies that will make them even more money. And second, it in effect implements via a 'back door', a nationwide distributed short-wave jamming transmitter network, so that when they don't want the people to have access to outside news sources, they can easily block it. The 'Project for a new American Century' seems to be hell-bent on re-creating the Iron Curtain of the Fifties.

If you're interested in more detailed technical explanations of BPL and its effects, I can direct you to several resources on the ARRL web page (
Rick is right. Back-channel communications, like Ham radios, are crucial to maintaining democracy. During the April 2002 coup in Venezuela, the coup leaders, who controlled all of the mainstream media, instituted a virtual media blackout. While the coup leaders were making fascist proclamations and holding the twice-elected president hostage, their TV stations were showing nature films. Only by using back-channel communications, in particular the Internet and cell phones, were the huge masses of Chavez supporters able to find out what had actually happened. When they did, they marched on the palace and chased the golpistas away.

BTW, I love getting e-mails like that. They give me the opportunity to provide useful information on the blog, and not just copies of the days headlines with my own little slant added. Thanks, Rick!

Bury 'Em All

From Dwane Powell.

Indefinite Detentions

The Color of Money

From Jeff Stahler.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Our First Woman President?

From the Complete Bushisms:
"I want to thank my friend, Sen. Bill Frist, for joining us today. … He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. (Laughter.) Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me."—Nashville, Tenn., May 27, 2004

Puppet Show

Coming this fall to Fox, the most hilarious puppet show since the Muppets!

Apartment W
George and his five Middle-Eastern "Friends" share an upscale Washington apartment. Combining elements of "The Odd Couple" and "Survivor," the show features a wicked twist. George's five friends are all puppets! Not only that--George is a puppet himself! The laughs never end on "Apartment W." Fridays this fall between "Cops" and "The World's Most Dangerous Governments." Check your local listings.

NY Times Expresses Outrage About Electronic Voting Machines

Only in Venezuela, of course.
One solution, electoral and computer experts say, is the use of manual audits of the receipts the machines produce for every vote cast.

"That is the most normal thing in an electoral process, and that they would deny it is absurd," said a diplomat in Caracas who has closely monitored elections here and in other Latin countries. "What serious electoral board would not permit an observation, as is done everywhere?"
The diplomat has apparently never heard of Georgia and the stealections of Saxby Chambliss as senator and Sonny Perdue as governor in 2002.

I'm sure that there's plenty of misdirection and outright misstatement of facts in this article, as with practically every mainstream U.S. press story about Venezuela. The National Election Commission IS independent, and is allowing the recall referendum to proceed.

Maybe Chavez is looking at the bigger picture here. The only way Bush gets re-selected is by fraudulently using electronic voting machines. The biggest threat to Venezuela is certainly not Chavez, and it's not the opposition either. It's George W. Bush. Chavez knows that the only way that the American SCLM (so-called liberal media) will cover electoral fraud is if it's his (Chavez's) electoral fraud. So to protect his country, Chavez blatantly uses electronic voting machines to try to steal the election, hoping that will turn Americans against electronic voting and cause Bush to lose. Dude is smart!

There Are Terrorists in Iraq

The new prime minister, for example:
Iyad Allawi, now the designated prime minister of Iraq, ran an exile organization intent on deposing Saddam Hussein that sent agents into Baghdad in the early 1990's to plant bombs and sabotage government facilities under the direction of the C.I.A., several former intelligence officials say.

Dr. Allawi's group, the Iraqi National Accord, used car bombs and other explosive devices smuggled into Baghdad from northern Iraq, the officials said. Evaluations of the effectiveness of the bombing campaign varied, although the former officials interviewed agreed that it never threatened Saddam Hussein's rule.
The Iraqi government at the time claimed that the bombs, including one it said exploded in a movie theater, resulted in many civilian casualties. But whether the bombings actually killed any civilians could not be confirmed because, as a former C.I.A. official said, the United States had no significant intelligence sources in Iraq then.
It's long past time for people to realize that "terrorism" is just a form of warfare, no more or less justified than any other form. It has been used for decades by socialists, capitalists, fascists, anarchists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and atheists, generally when they faced an enemy that had far superior military power. The U.S. has probably supported more terrorists than it has opposed, and many, like Osama bin Laden, have been both supported and opposed by the U.S. Bombs dropped from airplanes or carried by missiles are just as lethal (usually more so) than car bombs or suicide bombs. All have been used on civilians; all have been used for political purposes. A real "war on terrorism" would be a determined effort to stop all wars, not a ridiculous effort to selectively attack one particular military tactic.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

I Wonder How Much They Were Being Paid

The "war on terror" continues to be a miserable failure. An attack on a military convoy in Pakistan killed 11 and wounded several others, and at least 11 Chinese road workers were killed in northern Afghanistan. The men were among 100 Chinese engineers and construction workers who had recently arrived in Afghanistan to work on a World Bank road project on a road running north from Kabul to its northern border with Tajikistan.

Chinese laborers were extensively employed in building U.S. railroads and in the construction of the Panama Canal, both under conditions approaching slave labor. My guess would be that most of these workers were not being paid much, and I'm guessing they didn't have a good medical plan or vacations, either.

WMD's Found! To Be Destroyed!

In Indiana, that is. I ranted about American WMD's months ago.
After years of controversy, workers will begin chemically neutralizing 1,269 tons of the ultra-deadly nerve agent VX this summer as part of a plan to eliminate the nation's chemical weapons stockpile.

Residents near the Newport Chemical Depot are ready to see the VX go. So are activists who keep tabs on the nation's cache of weapons of mass destruction.

"One drop the size of George Washington's eye on a quarter is enough to kill a healthy, 180-pound male. It's the most lethal chemical on the planet," said Craig Williams, director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group, a Kentucky-based watchdog organization.

The neutralization process will create thousands of gallons of less-toxic material (similar to liquid drain cleaner, according to the article), and of course no one wants that crap spilled in their back yard (I know I don't!).

Why Did the Iraqi Chicken Cross the Road?

Why Did the Chicken cross the Road?

Juan Cole has the answers (to which I've added a few):
Coalition Provisional Authority: The fact that the Iraqi chicken crossed the road affirmatively demonstrates that decision-making authority has been transferred to the chicken well in advance of the scheduled June 30th transition of power. From now on the chicken is responsible for its own decisions.

Halliburton: We were asked to help the chicken cross the road. Given the inherent risk of road crossing and the rarity of chickens, this operation will only cost the US government $326,004.

Muqtada al-Sadr: The chicken was a tool of the evil Coalition and will be killed.

US Army Military Police: We were directed to prepare the chicken to cross the road. As part of these preparations, individual soldiers ran over the chicken repeatedly and then plucked the chicken. We deeply regret the occurrence of any chicken rights violations.

Peshmerga: The chicken crossed the road, and will continue to cross the road, to show its independence and to transport the weapons it needs to defend itself. However, in future, to avoid problems, the chicken will be called a duck, and will wear a plastic bill.

1st Cav: The chicken was not authorized to cross the road without displaying two forms of picture identification. Thus, the chicken was appropriately
detained and searched in accordance with current SOP's. We apologize for any embarrassment to the chicken. As a result of this unfortunate incident, the command has instituted a gender sensitivity training program and all future chicken searches will be conducted by female soldiers.

Al Jazeera: The chicken was forced to cross the road multiple times at gunpoint by a large group of occupation soldiers, according to eye-witnesses. The chicken was then fired upon intentionally, in yet another example of the abuse of innocent Iraqi chickens.

Blackwater: We cannot confirm any involvement in the chicken-road-crossing incident.

Translators: Chicken he cross street because bad she tangle regulation. Future chicken table against my request.

U.S. Marine Corps: The chicken is dead.
My additions:

Donald Rumsfeld: There are known chickens and unknown chickens. Did the chicken intend to cross the road? Heavens, yes! Was it her intention to cross it in the manner that she did cross it? Perhaps not.

Scott McLellan: As I said before, what the president said earlier about the chicken incident is still operative. If I receive further information I will of course be glad to share it with you.

John Ashcroft: The chicken was possessed by Satan and deserved everything that happened to him. National security prohibits me from saying more.

Condoleezza Rice: No one could have possibly forseen that that chicken would try to cross that road to get to that side.

John Kerry: While I cannot say that I do not fully support the president's actions in the chicken-road incident, it is certainly not my intention to state that, in conjunction with our long-time friends and allies, I would not have done it better.

Dick Cheney: The press is using the chicken incident to divert attention from the fact that Saddam had nuclear weapons and was going to use them on us.

Colin Powell: These satellite photos conclusively show that there was, indeed, a road there. That the chicken had the intention of crossing this road is made clear from this recording made the night before in the chicken coop...

Up Is Down

That's the very essence of the Bush administration. On any issue, there are only two choices for them: conceal or lie. The State Department released a report on April 29 which featured the following:
Among the original report's highlights: The annual number of terrorist attacks had dropped to its lowest level in 34 years, declining by 45% since 2001. Overall, fewer people were being killed, injured and kidnapped, and the U.S.-led global coalition had taken the fight to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with great success.

Minor terrorism events — typically those in which nobody dies — had almost disappeared, declining by more than 90% from 231 incidents in 2001 to 21 in 2003, the report said.

The Bushies crowed over the report as evidence that the "war on terror" is working:
"Indeed, you will find in these pages clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight" against global terrorism, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage said during a celebratory rollout of the report.
Thing is, the report was wrong:
But on Tuesday, State Department officials said they underreported the number of terrorist attacks in the tally for 2003, and added that they expected to release an updated version soon.

Several U.S. officials and terrorism experts familiar with that revision effort said the new report will show that the number of significant terrorist incidents increased last year, perhaps to its highest level in 20 years.

"It will change the numbers," said one State Department official who declined to comment further or be identified by name. "The incidents will go up, but I don't know by how many."
Daily Kos asks
So will Armitage call a new press conference to announce that "you will find in these pages clear evidence that we are losing the fight" against global terrorism?
Heck, these clowns have opened a gigantic al Qaeda recruitment center in Iraq.

The Butchers of Baghdad

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Reagan lies in state

He used to lie in the oval office.

Quote du Jour

Michelle is not a fan of religion:
When I get to Hell, I'm going to lobby to sit right beside whoever it was that thought up religion in the first place and make the son-of-a-bitch sorry he ever died.


Senator Leahy is a God

Here's how Senator Patrick Leahy greeted Insanity General Ashcrotch to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday:
Mr. Attorney General, welcome. It's been, I believe, about 15 months to pass since your last very brief appearance in March last year. Your testimony here comes today about 1,000 days after the September 11th attacks, and the subsequent launch of your efforts against terrorism.

As National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice acknowledged in her testimony before the 9/11 commission, the terrorist threat to our nation did not begin in September 2001. But the preliminary findings of the 9/11 commission suggest that counterterrorism simply was not a priority of your Justice Department prior to September 11th.

Problems ranged in your department from an understaffed foreign translation program, woefully inadequate information systems, cultural attitudes that frustrated information sharing across agencies. Just one day before the attacks, on September 10th, you rejected the FBIs request to include more money for counterterrorism in your budget proposal.

And while you have recently been critical of the so-called wall between criminal investigators and intelligence agencies, you did nothing to lower it during your first seven full months in office.

In fact, you put up exactly the same wall in your administration.

The president is fond of saying that September 11th changed everything, as if to wipe out all missteps and misplaced priorities of the first year of this administration. After the attacks, you promised a stunned nation that its government would expend every effort and devote all necessary resources to bring the people responsible for these crimes to justice. Certainly the American people would expect no less.

So a thousand days later and it is time to ask for the fulfillment of the promise you made.

Mr. Attorney General, your statement lists accomplishments of the Department of Justice since 9/11, but you leave out a number of things.

For example, of course the obvious, Osama bin Laden remains at large.

At least three senior Al Qaida operatives who helped plan the 9/11 attacks are in U.S. custody, but there has been no attempt to bring them to justice.

The Moussaoui prosecution has bogged down before any trial.

A German court acquitted two 9/11 co-conspirators, in part because the U.S. government and Justice Department and others refused to provide evidence to them.

Three defendants who you said had knowledge of the 9/11 attacks did not have such knowledge. The department retracted your statement and then you had to apologize to the court because you violated a gag order in the case.

The man you claimed was about to explode a dirty bomb in the U.S. had no such intention or capability, and because he's been held for two years without access to counsel, any crimes he did commit might never be prosecuted.

Terrorist attacks on Capitol Hill and elsewhere involving the deadly bioterror agent anthrax have yet to be solved, and the department is defending itself in a civil rights action brought by a man who you probably identified as a person of interest in the anthrax investigation.

U.S. citizens with no connection to terrorism have been in prison as material witnesses for chunks of time, and then, "Oops, I'm sorry," when what the Justice Department announced was a 100 percent positive fingerprint match turned out to be 100 percent wrong.

Non-citizens with no connection to terrorism have been rounded up seemingly on the basis of their religion or ethnicity, held for months without charges, and in some cases physically abused.

Interrogation techniques approved by the Department of Justice have led to abuses that have tarnished our nation's reputation and driven hundreds, if not thousands, of new recruits to our enemies to terrorism.

Your department turned a Canadian citizen over to Syria to be tortured. And then your department deported another individual to Syria over the objection of experienced prosecutors and agents who thought he was a terrorist and wanted to prosecute him.

And one of the most amazing things, your department, under your direction, has worked to deny compensation to American victims of terrorism, including former POWs tortured by Saddam Hussein's regime. You have tried to stop former POWs tortured by Saddam Hussein -- Americans -- you tried to stop them from getting compensation.

And documents have been classified, unclassified, reclassified, to score political points rather than for legitimate national security reasons.

Statistics have been manipulated to exaggerate the department's success in fighting terrorism. The threat of another attack on U.S. soil remains high, although how high depends primarily on who within the administration is talking.

Mr. Attorney General, you spent much of the past two years increasing secrecy, lessening accountability and touting the government's intelligence-gathering powers.

The threshold issue, of course, is -- and I believe you would agree with me on this -- what good is having intelligence if we can't use it intelligently. Identifying suspected terrorist is only a first step. To be safer we have to follow through.

Instead of declining tough prosecutions, we need to bring the people who are seeking to harm us to justice. That's how our system works. Instead, your practices seem to be built on secret detentions and overblown press releases.

Our country is made no safer through the self-congratulatory press conferences when we're facing serious security threats.

The government agency that bears the name of justice has yet to deliver the justice for the victims of the worst mass murder in this nation's history.

The 9/11 commission is working hard to answer important questions about the attacks and how the vulnerabilities in our system that allowed them to occur, but it can't mete out justice to those involved. Neither the 9/11 commission nor this committee can do the work of your Department of Justice.

Mr. Attorney General, since September 11th, you blamed former administration officials for intelligence failures that happened on your watch. You've used a tar brush to attack the patriotism of the Americans who dared to express legitimate concerns about constitutional freedoms. You refused to acknowledge serious problems, even after the Justice Department's own inspector general exposed widespread violations of the civil liberties of immigrants caught up in your post-September 11th dragnets.

Secretary Rumsfeld recently went before the Armed Services Committee to say that he, he Secretary Rumsfeld, should be held responsible for the abuses of Iraqi prisoners on his watch.

Director Tenet is resigning from the Central Intelligence Agency. Richard Clark went before the 9/11 commission and began with his admission of the failure that this administration bears for the tragedy that consumed us on 9/11.

And I'm reminded this week, as we mourn the passing of President Reagan, that one of the acts for which he will be remembered is that he conceded, that while his heart told him that the weapons for hostages and unlawful funding of insurgent forces in Nicaragua should not have been acts of his administration, his head convinced him that they were, and he took personal responsibility.

We need checks and balances. As much as gone wrong that you stubbornly refuse to admit. For this democratic republic to work, we need openness and accountability.

Now, Mr. Attorney General, your style is often to come to attack. You came before this committee shortly after 9/11 to question our patriotism when we sought to conduct a congressional oversight and ask questions.

You went before the 9/11 commission to attack a commissioner by brandishing a conveniently declassified memo and so unfairly slanted a presentation that President Bush himself disavowed your actions.

So I challenge you today to abandon any such plans for the session. Begin it instead by doing that which you have yet to do: talk plainly with us and with the American people, about not only what's going right in the war on terrorism -- and there are those things that are going right -- but also about the growing list of things that are going wrong, so we can work together to fix them.

Let's get about the business of working together to do our job, a better job of protecting the American people and making sure that the wrongdoers are brought to justice, are brought to trial and are given the justice that this country can mete out.
Thanks to Michelle for spotting that! She notes that even with such a scathing challenge, Ashcroft proceeded to dodge questions and responsibility.

Rummy only SHOOK hands with Saddam

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), supporting the Iraq war resolution in October, 2002:
I support this resolution because the threat posed by the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein is real, immediate, and growing.

The threat is real because Saddam possesses conventional, chemical and biological weapons. He is doing everything in his power to acquire the means to construct and field nuclear weapons.

The threat is real because Saddam has used his conventional and chemical weapons to attack his neighbors and his own people.
So tell me, Senator, why were you holding hands with Saddam just three months after his chemical attack on Halabja?

That photo is from Joseph Wilson's The Politics of Truth. Ever the joker, Saddam challenges Wilson to pull his finger.

Lovers' quarrels can be so nasty.

Making Iraq's Weapons Capability Available to the World

Apparently, whatever apparatus Iraq had for making WMD's and missiles was in much better hands when Saddam was in charge than it has been since. UN inspectors report that much of what was in Iraq in March 2003 is not there now. Some has shown up in strange places around the world, and some hasn't--yet.

George W. Bush--he can't even do something wrong right.

Partners in Crime

The Blair-Bush Project

Your Turn, Senator McCain

The Washington Post has a scathing editorial today about the Bushies' torture memo.

The memo should end any doubts that far from being just the work of a few bad apples like Lynndie England at Abu Ghraib, the use of torture was approved and encouraged as policy of the entire Bush administration. Not a single high-ranking official in the administration should still be working in the government by next week, and most of them should be arrested.

Republican Senators Graham, Warner, and especially McCain, who had his own experiences with torture while a POW in Vietnam, have spoken eloquently in condemnation of the despicable treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Now that the evidence is clear that torture was, and presumably still is, the policy of the misadministration, it behooves these gentlemen to stick with their principles and demand the resignation or impeachment of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others.

The Shining City on the Hill

And the endless slums in the valley. Along with Billmon, the World Socialist Web Site is one of my favorite sites for fairly lengthy and coherent analysis of the news. That the last paragraph of most articles includes something like "the only true solution is for the working classes around the world to unite against international imperialism" in no way detracts from the quality of their writing (at least for me!).
The aim of this unrelenting propaganda is not only to mislead and confuse, but also to intimidate public opinion, that is, to foster a sense of political and social isolation among countless Americans who despised Reagan and everything he represented, to create in their minds, if not doubt about their own judgment, then at least a sense of futility about the prospects for dissenting views in the United States.
These tributes to Reagan are, in essence, a celebration of the services he rendered to the rich. The overriding goal of his administration was the removal of all legal restraints on the accumulation of personal wealth. The motto of the Reagan administration, like that of the notoriously corrupt government of King Louis-Philippe in 19th century France, was “Enrich yourself.” The slashing of tax rate for the wealthy—from 70 percent to 28 percent—earned for the president the boundless affection of the grateful rich.
The typical Reagan speech was a mixture of hokum, bunkum, flapdoodle and balderdash of the type dished out daily by motivational speakers, along with mashed potatoes and turgid chicken breasts, at countless business luncheons in the Marriotts, Hyatts and Hiltons of America.
The critical test of the Reagan administration—and, more significantly, the turning point in class relations in the United States—came with the strike of nearly 12,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Union (PATCO) in August 1981. Ironically, PATCO had endorsed the election of Reagan the previous year, after being told privately that a Republican administration would respond favorably to the union’s demands for improved wages and working conditions. However, in accordance with plans that had actually been drawn up during the Carter administration, Reagan announced that he would fire all controllers who did not return to work within 48 hours. There is ample reason to believe that the Reagan administration received assurances from the AFL-CIO that the labor federation would take no action in support of PATCO. There was widespread sentiment among rank-and-file trade unionists for solidarity action to prevent the destruction of PATCO. Had the AFL-CIO ordered industrial action in support of the air traffic controllers, the Reagan administration would have been forced to retreat, thereby suffering a devastating defeat early in its first term.
By the time Reagan left office in 1989, the American trade union movement, thanks to the betrayals of the AFL-CIO, had ceased to exist as a social movement.
The increasingly frantic and illegal methods employed by the Reagan administration to suppress popular insurgencies in Central America—all in the name of the global struggle against communism—culminated in the eruption of the Iran-Contra scandal in late 1986. The exposure of criminal operations organized by rogue operatives inside the White House, carried out in defiance of laws passed by Congress, left the Reagan administration shaken and bewildered. Reagan’s sole defense against criminal charges was that he did not know what was going on in his own administration. In this instance, the claim of ignorance was entirely believable.
Having made these points, it is not our intention to suggest that Reagan achieved nothing as president, that he left no legacy.

That is not at all the case. Though Reagan has departed this world, the accomplishments of his administration live on and are observable everywhere: in the staggering growth of social inequality in the United States, in the grotesque concentration of wealth in the hands of a small segment of American society, in the shocking decline of literacy and the general level of culture, in the utter putrefaction of the institutions of American democracy, and, finally, in the murderous eruption of American militarism.

That is the legacy of Reaganism.
(Editor's note--That was the final paragraph! No "workers of the world unite!")

All-purpose Reagan Cartoon

From Rex Babin.
He left out the one showing Reagan at the gates of heaven saying "St. Peter, tear down this wall." Throw that in, and you've got about 90% of the Reagan cartoons I've seen this week.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

It's a Start

I've quoted so many of the atrocious things that have come out of the mouth of Insanity General Ashcroft. In the interest of fairness, I must report that I'm relieved to read this
:"I condemn torture. ... I don't think it's productive, let alone justified," Ashcroft responded.
Ashcroft was being questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee about the March 2003 Pentagon memo justifying torture.

Wish I was there!

Two months ago today I arrived in Caracas, Venezuela, and stayed for ten days. I've been on the street shown in the photo, which is of a rally held Sunday in support of President Hugo Chavez. After an arduous "repair" process, the National Election Commission has determined that there were barely enough valid signatures on petitions to force a recall referendum on Chavez under the terms of the 1999 constitution. Chavez has accepted the determination and expects to win in the referendum to be held in early August.

One thing you can be sure of about the crowd in the photo--they were having fun. Both the Chavistas and the opposition take to the streets regularly and express loud and exhuberant support for their positions. Democracy seems to be doing just fine in Venezuela. The next time John Kerry worries that "the disturbing trend towards establishment of an authoritarian regime must be reversed now," I hope he's talking about the U.S. and not Venezuela. Because we're the ones with the authoritarian regime.


I remember hearing that the Chinese symbol for crisis combines those for danger and opportunity. And that's where we are now. The totalitarian tendencies of the Bushies will either lead us to the Fourth Reich, or they will lead us to impeachment and/or replacement of the criminals in charge. Danger. Opportunity.

I haven't been scaring you enough sufficiently, although there's plenty to be scared about. I don't mean the terrorists the White House gang is always talking about; I mean the terrorists who ARE the White House gang. Apparently Rummy and the five-sided boys got a legal opinion last year before the Iraq war started which basically said the torture is okay as long as the pResident says so. The document was apparently quoted at length in yesterday's Wall Street Journal; what I know of it comes from Billmon. He explains it in more detail than I have time for, but here are the choice excerpts:
The president, despite domestic and international laws constraining the use of torture, has the authority as commander in chief to approve almost any physical or psychological actions during interrogation, up to and including torture, the report argued...
The working-group report elaborated the Bush administration's view that the president has virtually unlimited power to wage war as he sees fit, and neither Congress, the courts nor international law can interfere...

Citing confidential Justice Department opinions drafted after Sept. 11, 2001, the report advised that the executive branch of the government had "sweeping" powers to act as it sees fit because "national security decisions require the unity of purpose and energy in action that characterize the presidency rather than Congress"...
...To protect subordinates should they be charged with torture, the memo advised that Mr. Bush issue a "presidential directive or other writing" that could serve as evidence, since authority to set aside the laws is "inherent in the president." (emphasis added)
The Washington Post and NY Times both have headlines on this today, although both present it (at least in the headlines) as a technical legal issue, not a simple "Bush Administration Okayed Torture."

From Rex Babin.

Remembering Reagan

From Kirk Anderson.
But I'll stand by my previous assessment that he was better than Bush. Bush is Reagan in the cartoon--without the "buts." Paul Krugman makes a similar point:
We're also sure to hear that Mr. Reagan presided over an unmatched economic boom. Again, not true: the economy grew slightly faster under President Clinton, and, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the after-tax income of a typical family, adjusted for inflation, rose more than twice as much from 1992 to 2000 as it did from 1980 to 1988.

But Ronald Reagan does hold a special place in the annals of tax policy, and not just as the patron saint of tax cuts. To his credit, he was more pragmatic and responsible than that; he followed his huge 1981 tax cut with two large tax increases. In fact, no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people. This is not a criticism: the tale of those increases tells you a lot about what was right with President Reagan's leadership, and what's wrong with the leadership of George W. Bush.

The first Reagan tax increase came in 1982. By then it was clear that the budget projections used to justify the 1981 tax cut were wildly optimistic. In response, Mr. Reagan agreed to a sharp rollback of corporate tax cuts, and a smaller rollback of individual income tax cuts. Over all, the 1982 tax increase undid about a third of the 1981 cut; as a share of G.D.P., the increase was substantially larger than Mr. Clinton's 1993 tax increase.

The contrast with President Bush is obvious. President Reagan, confronted with evidence that his tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, changed course. President Bush, confronted with similar evidence, has pushed for even more tax cuts.
So here's to the Gipper--no longer the worst president in American history.

Washington Post Cheers as UN Sells Out Iraqi Sovereignty

The Washington Post doesn't even try to conceal its cheerleading for the latest UN resolution pushed for by Bush and Blair (emphasis added):
In a major push to win international backing before the Group of Eight summit begins, the United States made several last-minute concessions to incorporate French and Russian demands in a proposed United Nations resolution on Iraq. It should win unanimous support in a Security Council vote today, U.N. diplomats predicted.

Passage would be a pivotal victory for the Bush administration as it ends a 14-month occupation of Iraq -- and be a stark contrast to the divisions and diplomatic disarray at the world body when the United States failed last year to win U.N. backing for a resolution authorizing military intervention in Iraq.

The resolution is critical for Iraq, because it bestows international legitimacy on the new government 22 days before the occupation ends. With the U.N. vote today, U.S. Ambassador John D. Negroponte said, Iraq will soon begin "a new phase in the political history, the full restoration of sovereignty and authority over Iraq's own affairs."
Farther down, we read how much sovereignty Iraq will really have:
At the same time, however, the draft allows the multinational force to take "all necessary measures" to provide security and reserves the right to detain Iraqis viewed as a security threat. The latter remains a sensitive issue because of prisoner abuse by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi prisons.
Sorry, but George Worthless Bush can decide which of your citizens gets arrested in your own country, you do not have sovereignty.

Basically, the French, Germans, Russians and others who pretended to defend international law last year by pretending to oppose the war in Iraq have sold the Iraqi people down both the Tigris and the Euphrates, in the hope that they've given the new puppet regime enough authority to throw a few contracts their way. And the Post is doing everything it can to cover up for Bush's massive failures.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Only Four Ex-Presidents Left

Carter, Bush I, Clinton and Gore. Poppy's the only remaining Repug. Will he sacrifice himself for aWol's campaign? Reagan's death seems to have chased all of the scandals to the back pages or out of the papers entirely; Kerry is quieting his campaign for a week (will anyone notice?). But the Iraqi "government" will collapse, more soldiers will be killed, the investigation into the Plame leak will progress, Fahrenheit 9/11 and the 9/11 commission report will come out. Only another presidential funeral could possibly chase all that out of the news. Will Poppy make the ultimate sacrifice?

[Update, 10 PM--Sorry, I forgot about Gerald Ford, our first appointed pResident, rumored to still be alive. Then again, who hasn't forgotten Gerald Ford? Although I have less of an excuse than most, having driven by his presidential library about two hours ago.]


From Boondocks.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Looking for Work

Reagan Again

Okay, I like Billmon's eulogy better than mine.

Kudos to Toshiba

My new Toshiba laptop got hit with a spyware program last night which blocked me from doing much of anything for a couple of hours this morning. In desperation, I called the Toshiba 800 number. I was talking to a tech support guy within about two minutes, and he helped me for maybe half an hour in finding and eliminating the problem. It seems to have worked, and I'm back in business!

I expected to on hold for at least an hour, and then told that I'd have to pay a bunch of money if I wanted any help at all. Didn't happen that way! So let me give credit where it's due--Toshiba does a superb job of customer support.

Never Forget

Never forget:
  • That on September 11, 2001, 19 hijackers flew airplanes into American buildings, killing approximately 2900 people.
  • That these hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, all of which were and are U.S. allies.
  • That none of these hijackers came from either Afghanistan or Iraq (or Iran or Syria or North Korea or Cuba or Venezuela, for that matter).
  • That the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq were both planned long before 9/11.
  • That George W. Bush continued reading to school children after he learned that the country was under attack, endangering both himself and the children.
  • That Bush expected the Taliban, armed with their Nissan pickups and AK-47's, to expel Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda from Afghanistan within a period of about two weeks, whereas the U.S. military, with its planes, helicopters, Hummers, Predators, satellite photos, and so on, in two-and-a-half years has yet to capture Osama or completely remove al Qaeda.
  • That the Taliban and Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime in Iraq were brutal and totalitarian.
  • That the same can be said for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and dozens of other countries around the world, including many U.S. allies.
  • That Afghanistan lies between the huge oil and natural gas reserves in the Caspian region and the ports of Pakistan, and that American companies had been trying to negotiate with the Taliban to build pipelines through the country for years.
  • That without the war on terror, George W. Bush would be just like his father--a failure.
  • That with the war on terror, George W. Bush is a MASSIVE failure, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in various parts of the world, an enormous deficit, the destruction of decades of development of international law, and the erosion of civil liberties in this country.

So--Never forget.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

From Rick McKee.

From Matt Davies.

Ronald Reagan

I may be naive, and I may get kicked out of the progressives' club, but I have to admit that I never disliked Ronald Reagan. I know now, much more than I did when he was president, about some of the terrible things that were done during his presidency: the arming of the Contras, of Saddam Hussein, and of the mujahaddin in Afghanistan, which became the core of al Qaeda, and the invasion of Grenada. I suspect that he was probably our second least-curious president, second only to the current pResident. I know that he was an actor, and maybe the thing that he was best at portraying was sincerity. But I never had the impression that he was intentionally lying to us, and I never had the impression that he was mean. I doubt if he blew up frogs as a kid like W did.

Reagan had some atrocious advisors--James Baker, James Watt, William Casey, Oliver North, John Poindexter, Donald Rumsfeld, and George H. W. Bush, to name a few. These were/are men of few scruples who easily gained the trust of someone who seemed to trust people in general, at least face-to-face. (For example, his anti-Soviet rhetoric was bombastic, but he seemed to have very cordial relations with Soviet leaders.) And, again granting that I may be naive, I believe that these sleazy advisors convinced Reagan to do many of the terrible things that were done in his administration. But when he became aware that one of his policies or decisions was wrong, he was willing to make changes and even to admit that he had been wrong. When 241 Marines were killed in Beirut, he had the rest pulled out of there in short order. When it became clear that his administration had traded arms for hostages, he went on national TV and said so.

And I don't think anyone really knows when the Alzheimer's started to cloud his thinking, which may never have been completely clear (but whose is?). But I didn't have the Internet back then, nor was I nearly as suspicious as I am now. And I never heard a Reagan speech that frightened and disgusted me the way that W's "with us or with the terrorists" speech of 2001 did.

So while I don't think Reagan deserves the honor of being called a great or even good president, I also don't think he deserves the extreme dishonor of having our current pResident speak at his funeral. I hope that doesn't happen. Because however bad Reagan may have been, George W. Bush is far, far worse.

Friday, June 04, 2004

"War on Terror:" Insane, Political, Deadly

William Greider points out many of the things that are so wrong about the "war on terror." Excerpt:
Why have most people submitted so willingly to a new political order organized around fear? Other nations have confronted terrorism of a more sustained nature without coming thoroughly unhinged. I remember living in London briefly in the 1970s, when IRA bombings were a frequent occurrence. Daily life continued with stiff-upper-lip reserve (police searched ladies' handbags at restaurants, but did not pat down the gentlemen). We can only speculate on answers. Was it the uniquely horrific quality of the 9/11 attacks? Or the fact that, unlike Europe, the continental United States has never been bombed? For modern Americans, war's destruction is a foreign experience, though the United States has participated in many conflicts on foreign soil. Despite the patriotic breast-beating, are we closet wimps? America's exaggerated expressions of fear may look to others like a surprising revelation of weakness.

Why Can Bush Hire a Lawyer

when he wouldn't let Jose Padilla have one for two years? Apparently the prosecution and grand jury in the Valerie Plame case is circling in for the kill, and Bush and/or Cheney may be targets. Bush hired a private lawyer rather than use one of the many government lawyers at his disposal, a delicious bit of blowback from the Clinton witchhunt days. John Dean explains the implications of Bush hiring a private lawyer:
Suffice it to say that whatever the meaning of Bush's decision to talk with private counsel about the Valerie Plame leak, the matter has taken a more ominous turn with Bush's action. It has only become more portentous because now Dick Cheney has also hired a lawyer for himself, suggesting both men may have known more than they let on. Clearly, the investigation is heading toward a culmination of some sort. And it should be interesting.

What's the Catch?

It appears that the Bush administration actually intends to significantly reduce the US stockpile of nuclear weapons. From the NY Times:
The United States will reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons by nearly half over the next eight years, the Energy Department said Thursday.

The Bush administration made the decision last month and informed Congress on Tuesday in a classified report.

Linton F. Brooks, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is part of the Energy Department, said in a conference call with reporters that the reductions would leave the nation with "the smallest nuclear-weapons stockpile we've had in several decades." He called the decision historic.

Mr. Brooks would not discuss specific numbers for the cuts. "The numbers I'm prepared to use are 'almost in half' and 'smallest in several decades,' " he said.
Aside from the very real possibility that they're just flat-out lying, where's the catch? Would Bush actually do something to make the world safer?

Meet the New Stooge; Same as the Old Stooge

From the NY Times:
In his first address to the Iraqi people, the country's new prime minister today defended the presence of American and British forces on Iraqi soil and warned that their departure would amount to a "major disaster" for the country.

Ayad Alawi, appearing in a televised address three days after being chosen prime minister, said his countrymen could "never accept" foreign occupation, and he vowed to reclaim the country's full sovereignty on June 30. But his speech amounted to a vigorous defense of the continued presence of American troops at a time when public opinion polls have reported that most Iraqis want the foreign troops to leave immediately.
Dr. Alawi, a secular Shiite, was chosen earlier this week in a United Nations-sponsored selection process to lead the government that will take over when sovereignty is restored here June 30. His government, which includes 32 other senior leaders, is supposed to guide the country toward democratic elections, which officials say will most likely be held in January of next year.

He is known for his association with the Central Intelligence Agency, which supported the efforts of him and his group, the Iraqi National Accord, to topple Saddam Hussein in the 1990's.
He got the job BECAUSE he promised he would say that the troops should stay. If he changes the story, Bremer or Negroponte will see that he is replaced. If he doesn't, some Iraqi will see that his term is a short one.

Right out of 24

From the Scotsman:
Saudi authorities gave safe passage to three al-Qaida gunmen after the they killed 10 of the hostages they were holding at a hotel in the oil hub of Khobar, a senior security official said.

The Saudi official said upon hearing hostages had been killed, US officials advised the Saudis that letting the militants go would avert a bigger catastrophe.

The US embassy in Riyadh did not have immediate comment on the Saudi official’s account, which dovetailed with witness accounts.

Four Soldiers Killed, Five Wounded in Baghdad

From the Washington Post:
"Four U.S. soldiers were killed and five wounded by an explosion near their vehicle in eastern Baghdad," said a U.S. military spokesman. "The cause of the explosion is still under investigation."

Flames and smoke engulfed the wreckage of a Humvee vehicle as other U.S. troops cordoned off the scene and evacuated the wounded, said Reuters reporters at the scene.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Recall Referendum Will Occur in Venezuela

Contrary to what I posted earlier today, Venezuelanalysis is reporting that the opposition did get enough signatures validated to force a recall referendum on President Hugo Chavez later this summer. According to the article, Chavistas are divided as to whether to further challenge this result. Some suspect foul play in the petitioning and repair process, while others believe that Chavez will easily win in the referendum and thereby relegitimize his government. (Of course, those two opinions need not be mutually exclusive.) For Chavez actually to be recalled, the opposition will have to muster at least 3.75 million votes, 1.35 million more than the 2.4 million signatures gathered. They also will need to surpass the number of votes of those who want Chavez to stay.

Update From Venezuela

Antonio, one of the guides on the Global Exchange tour that I went on in April, sent the following:
By the way, looks like the opposition is not going to make it...we are expecting something desperate from them and the Bush administration. Hope everything is going to be fine..but imagine their disappointment when realizing they don't have the signatures for calling the referendum.
I haven't seen any official news reports on the results of the past weekend's "repair" process on the recall petitions, but Antonio is suggesting that there won't be enough signatures to trigger a presidential recall referendum in August.

Fortunately for Venezuela, it looks like the Bushies may be too preoccupied with saving their own skins to meddle too much in Caracas this summer. Besides, they and their shills at the Washington Post and in the Kerry campaign have barely gotten started demonizing Hugo Chavez. I'd guess that 98-99% of Americans wouldn't recognize the name. And I think that without major US meddling, Chavez and Venezuela will survive relatively intact, referendum or not. Which is a good thing!

So Why Did Tenet Resign?

Because President Gore said he should!
George Tenet should also resign. I want to offer a special word about George Tenet, because he is a personal friend and I know him to be a good and decent man. It is especially painful to call for his resignation, but I have regretfully concluded that it is extremely important that our country have new leadership at the CIA immediately.
The others that Gore asked to resign--Rumsfeld, Feith, Cambone, Wolfowitz and Rice--are guilty of insubordination.

Well-oiled Machine

From Josh Marshall:
Beside the possibility that the White House's favored Iraqi exile was an Iranian agent, that the spy chief just got canned, that the OSD is wired to polygraphs, and that the president has had to retain outside counsel in the investigation into which members of his staff burned one of the country's own spies, I'd say the place is being run like a pretty well-oiled machine.

Bush Lite

The Washington Post may have turned against Bush. The World Socialist Web Site explains why:
The Post has played a key role in the course of the current election campaign, leading the charge against the former Democratic frontrunner, Howard Dean, declaring that any suggestion of a US withdrawal from Iraq would put a candidate out of the “mainstream.” The newspaper promoted Kerry as a pro-war alternative to Dean, and now seems prepared to back him against Bush on the grounds that a change of administration may be needed to regain public and international support for the US occupation.

Bush Quagmire I

Maybe the whole point of invading Iraq was to distract attention from the mess the Bushies have made in Afghanistan. The Doctors Without Borders aid organization is pulling out of the "country" after five of its workers were killed in an ambush in northern Afghanistan on Wednesday. CNN adds:
Afghanistan, which is grappling with a growing drug trade and sporadic violence, is a key security concern for the West two years after a U.S.-led coalition toppled the militant Islamic Taliban regime for harboring Osama bin Laden.

Almost half of Afghanistan is still not safe, with warlords yet to be disarmed and a stubborn Taliban and al Qaeda insurgency persisting in the south and east.

George Resigns! Oops, wrong George

I hope George Tenet's 60 Minute segment and book come out before the election. Tenet and the CIA have been a measure of how scary the Bushies are--liberals, including me, have actually been defending the CIA on occasion against charges from the neonuts.

Bush gave Tenet a glowing review
:"He told me he was resigning for personal reasons," Bush said. "I told him I'm sorry he's leaving. He's done a superb job on behalf of the American people."

Tenet will serve until mid-July. Bush said that deputy, John McLaughlin, will temporarily lead America's premier spy agency until a successor is found. Among possible successors is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss, R-Fla., a former CIA agent and McLaughlin.

"He's been a strong and able leader at the agency. and I will miss him."
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Tom DeLay) wasn't so sure:
On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said: "He served his country a long time. History will tell what the implications of his tenure were."

"I think history will tell," the Illinois Republican said when asked how Tenet's performance would be judged. "It's too early to make that snap judgment."

"I think history will either vindicate him or say, 'Hey there was a problem there'," Hastert said.
On the other hand, there's little question how history will treat Hastert--there was definitely a problem there.

Finally an Explanation that Makes Sense

Yesterday, I pointed out that "Iran is run by a bunch of religious zealots who seem to want to make nuclear weapons...pretty much like the US." And though he now denies it, Bush has been seen and photographed with a suspected Iranian spy:

Matthew Yglesias comes up with the explanation that finally makes sense: Bush is an Iranian agent!

The Source Isn't Exactly Trustworthy

But wouldn't it be cool if this were true?
Witnesses told a federal grand jury President George W. Bush knew about, and took no action to stop, the release of a covert CIA operative's name to a journalist in an attempt to discredit her husband, a critic of administration policy in Iraq.

Their damning testimony has prompted Bush to contact an outside lawyer for legal advice because evidence increasingly points to his involvement in the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to syndicated columnist Robert Novak.
Unfortunately, the source is Capitol Hill Blue, a rag which got me all excited for nothing several times last year, including the episode where they quoted a phoney White House insider who said that Bush was told that the uranium from Niger crap was crap. CHB also suggested in March 2003 that aWol was looking for an "exit strategy" from his march to war. So I guess I'll believe this when Bush is subpoenaed or indicted. (The part about him retaining a lawyer seems true enough, but the part about the grand jury testimony is suspect.)


Nail. Head.

From Mike Keefe.

Bye Bye, Constitution. It's Been a Good Run...

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate agrees with me on the "Justice" Department's insane announcement on Jose Padilla:
The U.S. Constitution didn't simply hatch out of an egg one morning. Like the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights was largely conceived to correct for failures of earlier systems. In 1603 Sir Walter Raleigh was tried for treason and not permitted to cross-examine his accuser. This, it turns out, engendered unreliable evidence. The Sixth Amendment's confrontation clause was the constitutional remedy for this problem. Unremitting and unwanted prosecutorial interrogation could lead to false confessions. This made for unreliable evidence. The Fifth Amendment was, in part, the constitutional remedy for this. Years of delay prior to trials degraded evidence. The Sixth Amendment's right to a speedy trial was the constitutional remedy for this. Indefinite government detention without charges led to innocent men languishing in prison without recourse. The right to habeas corpus is thus codified in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution to remedy this. We sometimes forget that the purpose of these and other constitutional protections is not only to let guilty guys roam free (attractive though that prospect may seem), the purpose is also to protect the quality of the evidence used in criminal trials. A conviction based on a tortured confession isn't justice. It's theater.
No one at the DOJ seems even to have pondered whether the public would credulously accept the truth of a document that—by its own admission—is a product of secret government interrogations. The lesson of Abu Ghraib was that we no longer trust what happens in dark dungeons, where the rule of law has been cast aside. To reassure us, the Justice Department responds with the assurance that no one there trusts what happens in the bright light of a constitutional democracy.
Unfortunately, I think the DOJ did ponder it, and decided, probably correctly, that most of the public would accept it as long as Rush and Fox News told them to.

No Blood for Wind

Jen Sorensen is hilarious!

The Khmer Vert: Live Green or Die!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Catching a Code

Michelle shudders to realize that she agrees with the Prince of Darkness, Richard Perle, on this one point:
Richard Perle, a former Pentagon adviser now with the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, said he finds it inconceivable that Iran's top intelligence official in Baghdad would have used a compromised channel to tell Tehran that the United States was reading its communications, as has been reported. U.S. intelligence reportedly intercepted that message, which indicated Chalabi had provided the information.

"The idea that the Iranians, having been informed that their codes were broken, would then use their broken codes back to Iran is absurd," Perle said.
Now, Michelle is usually right on everything, and Perle is usually wrong, so I'm going to have to make a judgment call on this one. My guess is that Perle and Michelle are both wrong on this one (well, Michelle is mistaken while Perle is lying). Here is Michelle's explanation:
CBS seems to have the same story, doesn't quite fit, does it? I mean, if Chalabi told the Iranians that the U.S. had broken their code, why would they be sending information through that same compromised channel, knowing it could be decoded? Perhaps the messages were simply, hey this is no longer a secure line. But wouldn't it have made more sense to pretend they didn't know the code had been broken and just start sending disinformation across that line while creating a new code for the real information? I mean, that would seem like a great opportunity.
And here are several reasons why I think Michelle and the P of D are wrong:
  • Assuming that the Iranians were using the code for important messages, not all of them relating to screwing with the coalition in Iraq, using it for disinformation would mess up their own people more than it would ours (especially since ours seem to be already pretty messed up).
  • Our spooks would probably have realized that the Iranians knew we had their code when they changed it anyway
  • Chalabi supposedly got the info from a drunk administration official; who's to say he didn't give it to a drunk Iranian official? (My understanding is that liquor is a lot easier to get in Iraq than in Iran)
  • Iran is run by a bunch of religious zealots who seem to want to make nuclear weapons. In other words, pretty much like the US. Why should we expect their zealots to be smarter than ours? If you were an Iranian spy in Baghdad with cars blowing up all over and stuff, and somebody tells you that the Americans have broken your code, what's the first thing you do? You send the message back to Tehran.
So I'd suggest that letting us know that they knew that we knew wasn't exactly a major disaster for Iran. They may even have seen some value in embarrassing the US and/or Chalabi by letting us find out that they knew. I could buy the story that Scooter Libby, after telling Robert Novak about Valerie Plame, hung up, took another drink, and called Chalabi to tell him about the codes.

Outsourced With Job Security

When James Baker tries to steal another election for Bush this fall, he'll be doing everything he can to keep those military absentee ballots from being counted. From the NY Times:
The Army announced Wednesday that it would require soldiers to extend their active duty tours if their units were bound for Iraq and Afghanistan, a move that could keep thousands of troops in the service for months longer than they expected over the next several years.
This has to send morale even lower for the tens of thousands of soldiers who have been counting the days until they can get out of the cesspool of Iraq. Support our troops--fire Bush.

Cutting Down on Power Consumption

DTE, my electricity and gas provider, has a nice web site where I can track my energy usage year to year. Here's my most recent summary:


The January number is a freak; I think they overbilled me in December 2003 (that 715 KWH seems excessive) and made up for it in January. But you can see that I've substantially cut my electricity consumption from the previous two years. (Last year's April and May numbers were higher because my furnace was out and it was unseasonably cold, so I was using space heaters a lot.) Compact fluorescent lightbulbs, putting phantom loads on switchable power strips, and keeping the refrigerator full (ice in the freezer, water in the fridge) seem to be the main reasons for the drop. I also recently bought a laptop as my main computer which draws about 1/4 the power of the combination desktop/monitor I was using before.

All leading up, hopefully, to the purchase and installation of some solar panels and the necessary support equipment--charge controller, inverter, switches. I've already bought some batteries, but I may need more. I'll be going to the Midwest Regional Energy Fair in Wisconsin in a couple of weeks to learn more and maybe buy some equipment.

Crankin' Up the Fear

Yesterday, the "Justice" department announced a bunch of crap about Jose Padilla that he did or didn't tell them under two years of illegal interrogation. Today, the FBI is "very concerned" about two stolen propane trucks, and John Kerry is joining the fun by warning about nuclear security. Combined with last week's Ashcroft silliness, there seems to be a concerted effort to ratchet up the fear.

While the Iraq debacle has almost certainly increased the likelihood of terrorist attacks against the US, I suspect this has more to do with stifling dissent at the political conventions and the upcoming G8 conference in Georgia than it does with any real concern for preventing an attack.

Herseth Wins in South Dakota!

Democrat Stephanie Herseth has won the House seat vacated by convicted Repug Bill Janklow. Combined with an earlier special-election win in Kentucky, it leaves Democrats only 11 seats short of regaining control of the House.

Stephanie Herseth

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Uh Oh! The Supreme Court May Require Us to Follow the Constitution!

So thinks the Justice Department. So they release a bunch of allegations about two-year "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla to poison any chance for a fair trial once the Supremes order that he finally get one.
"Padilla and the accomplice were to locate as many as three high-rise apartment buildings which had natural gas supplied to the floors," the government summary of interrogations revealed.

"They would rent two apartments in each building, seal all the openings, turn on the gas, and set timers to detonate the buildings simultaneously at a later time," the papers alleged.
So, after two years of secret interrogations without access to a lawyer, Padilla the "dirty bomber" apparently confesses to being a "clean" bomber (natural gas--can't get much cleaner than that!). Since he was denied a lawyer, it seems as though any such confession would be inadmissable in any court except the kangaroo variety. And given the length of time he has been held and the possibility that he may have been tortured, any such confession, even if he actually made it, would be suspect.

Leaving John Ashcroft to protect American Justice is like leaving George W. Bush to guard the beer.

[Update 4:13 PM] From the updated CNN article:
At a Tuesday news conference, Deputy Attorney General James Comey called the chronicle of Padilla's plotting "remarkable for its scope, its clarity and its candor.

"We have decided to release this information to help people understand why we are doing what we are doing in the war on terror and to help people understand the nature of the threat we face," he said.

Comey asserted that if Padilla had been handled by the more conventional criminal justice system, he could have stayed silent and "would likely have ended up a free man."
I understand the nature of the threat we face from a "Justice" department that doesn't believe in "innocent until proven guilty" and that fears that someone might remain silent and end up a free man. That threat is called "Fascism."

Ashcroft, Ted Olsen and lackeys like Comey are American fascists. We need them out of our government NOW.

Two-Minute Hate Cancels Winston Smith Show

A less informative headline for this article, to be sure, but one which captures the truly Orwellian nature of it. The actual headline of the article is:

SF gallery owner becomes target after showcasing painting of Iraqi prisoner abuse

A San Francisco art gallery owner was threatened and then actually beaten, apparently because she displayed a painting titled "Abuse," by Berkeley artist Guy Colwell, which depicts the abuse of Iraqis by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib. The owner has closed the gallery. The further Orwellian connection?
In closing the gallery, Haigh was forced to cancel an upcoming show featuring counterculture artist Winston Smith.
If you haven't read 1984 recently, I'll remind you: Winston Smith is the name of the protagonist of that dystopian novel whose job it is to rewrite history to match current politics.

At a Post Office Near You

Stay the Course

The Kiss of Death

The Bushies' fave for Iraqi president turned down the offer:
"This position is an honorary position, and the Iraqi people need someone in this office who has the most public support," Mr. Pachachi said.

The news media had portrayed him in the last several days as receiving great support from the Americans, he said, and that ruined his credibility among the people of Iraq. As a result, he added, he felt he might be viewed as illegitimate by the Iraqi people if he were to take office.

"The fact that I was portrayed as having been nominated by the Americans made me look less patriotic than the others," he said.
Being appointed as the American favorite would also probably reduce his life expectancy to time served. And you've got to think that Dick and Don's repellent adventure is truly and irrevocably a failure when pro-American Iraqis recognize that being pro-American is unpatriotic.

Since they've now dissolved the US-appointed puppet government (the IGC), it seems as though these Iraqi politicians aren't going to wait for a June 30 handover of fake sovereignty; they're going to demand actual sovereignty right now. If both the new Prime Minister Iyad Alawi and new President Ghazi al-Yawar demand publicly that US forces leave Iraq within a month, how will the Bushies respond?

A Multi-purpose Casualty

Michelle has a great post about the military propaganda machine. Here's the gist:

Sgt. Donald Walters of Kansas City apparently died in Iraq sometime last year. He was in the same unit as Jessica Lynch and involved in the same incident which caused her to be wounded and captured. At first, Walters' story was obscured by the Lynch story, with its hype about Jessica emptying her clip defending her comrades and such. But when Jessica started to set the record straight last summer, the military PR people, now short a hero, apparently decided that it was Walters, not Lynch, who was seen fighting courageously until he was killed in the battle and left behind. Now, after more and more revelations about the US torturing prisoners in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, the PR machine has apparently decided that Walters was captured, tortured and executed. And Walters' family apparently believes every story the Army tells them.


Why Gas Prices Are Too Low

A good column from David Ignatius in the Washington Post. Excerpt:
The people who make America's gas guzzlers know exactly what would force the country to deal with the energy crunch: higher gasoline taxes. A recent article by Danny Hakim in the New York Times had some astonishing quotes from auto executives. Ford chief executive William Clay Ford Jr. explained: "Every place else we operate, fuel prices are very high relative to here and customers get used to it, but they get used to it by having a smaller vehicle, a more efficient vehicle." GM's chief executive, Rick Wagoner, agreed: "If you want people to consume something less, the simplest thing to do is price it more dearly."

The European market illustrates how higher taxes push greater efficiency. Last week, premium gas prices in Europe were averaging more than double the U.S. level of $2.24 a gallon -- with prices at the pump averaging $5.07 a gallon in France, $5.36 in Germany and $5.59 in Britain. European consumers inevitably have demanded more efficient cars. According to Hakim, overall oil consumption has fallen in Germany and Britain since the 1970s.
I only rant about this topic about three times a week. Substantially higher gasoline taxes would address so many of our problems all at once:
  • Reduce dependence on foreign oil, thereby reducing the need for oil wars and the terrorism that inevitably result, and their associated costs in people, money, and yes, energy (armored Hummers get even fewer miles per gallon than our domestic monstrosities), and tanks, helicopters and jet fighters are even worse;
  • Reduced pollution and greenhouse gases;
  • Turn urban sprawl around--40-mile commutes would be very expensive;
  • Encourage conservation, alternative fuels, mass transit;
  • Provide tax revenues to pay off the Bush debt;
  • Reduce traffic and its carnage (over 40,000 Americans killed per year).

Venezuela's Signature Repair Process--No Major Problems, Lots of Minor Ones

According to this article, the process to verify recall petition signatures went fairly smoothly this past weekend. There were numerous accusations of attempted fraud and intimidation, but apparently not on a large scale. As the counting takes place, both sides are of course claiming victory.