Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Playing with fire, aren't you, Colin?

Powell, in Bosnia, urges war crimes arrests
From My Lai to Panama to two brutal attacks on Iraq, with Afghanistan and Haiti thrown in, Powell is one of the world's most experienced war criminals.

Pension Headache

Corporations suck big time. The WSWS explains what is likely to happen if United Airlines goes ahead with its plans to default on its pension obligations. A hint: if anyone suffers, it will be the people who worked for decades for United, not the corporate swindlers who crashed it into bankruptcy. If anyone pays to reduce this suffering, it will be you and me and the next generation, not the corporate swindlers who got rich crashing the company.

The Scarlet Letter

The woman drove off without paying for $4.52 worth of gas. Possibly a cruel or unusual punishment, but one I guess I'd take over a week in jail. It certainly suggests a punishment for the Bushies, although it will take more than one sandwich board, and maybe twenty years instead of an afternoon:


Love Actually

If you like romantic comedies, you'll love "Love Actually." If you like this blog, you'll love this particular part of the movie:

The U.S. president, who seems to be a composite of the arrogant cowboy Bush and the flirty know-it-all Clinton, comes to London to meet with the new Prime Minister (played by Hugh Grant). They give a press conference after their meeting:

Prez: We got what we came for, and our special relationship is still very special.
Q: And Prime Minister?
PM: I love that word "relationship." Covers all manner of sins, doesn't it? I fear that this has become a bad relationship. A relationship based on the president taking exactly what he wants and casually ignoring all those things that really matter to, um, Britain. We may be a small country, but we're a great one too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter, David Beckham's right foot. David Beckham's left foot, come to that. And a friend who bullies us is no longer a friend. And since bullies only respond to strength, from now onward, I will be prepared to be much stronger. And the president should be prepared for that.

The reporters and PM's staff get all excited, while the president looks on in disbelief.

Hugh Grant showing Tony Blair how it's done.

Who are you going to believe? An al Qaeda terrorist or an ex-Marine?

If you're George W. Bush or Dick Cheney, it's a no-brainer (literally). You pick the one who tells you what you want to hear. Former Marine and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter spent most of 2002 telling anyone who would listen that Iraq had no credible weapons with which to threaten us. Meanwhile, a captured al Qaeda operative rotting in a cell somewhere was saying that Iraq helped to train al Qaeda terrorists. Shut up, Marine, ye of impeccable credentials! The terrorist has something to say! From the NY Times:
A senior leader of Al Qaeda who was captured in Pakistan several months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was the main source for intelligence, since discredited, that Iraq had provided training in chemical and biological weapons to members of the organization, according to American intelligence officials.

Intelligence officials say the detainee, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a member of Osama bin Laden's inner circle, recanted the claims sometime last year, but not before they had become the basis of statements by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and others about links between Iraq and Al Qaeda that involved poisons, gases and other illicit weapons.

Mr. Libi, who was captured in Pakistan in December 2001, is still being held by the Central Intelligence Agency at a secret interrogation center, and American officials say his now-recanted claims raise new questions about the value of the information obtained from such detainees.
"New" questions? Assuming Libi actually was an al Qaeda agent, wouldn't any intelligence officer take anything he said to be highly dubious? If his will hasn't been broken by torture or "abuse," what he says would likely still be calculated to further al Qaeda's causes. If he was broken, his statements would most likely be whatever he thought his interrogators wanted to hear. My guess would be that the proper assumption to make with statements made by such prisoners would be that everything they say is false, or at best worthless, until it has been corroborated by several other sources. Even then you would have to consider whether the sources may have agreed on a story. Of course, to use logic like this you can't be a bloodthirsty ghoul like Cheney or an idiot like Bush.
Intelligence officials declined to say precisely when Mr. Libi changed his account, and they cautioned that they still did not know for sure which account was correct. They said they would not speculate as to whether he might have been seeking to deceive his interrogators or to please them by telling them what he thought they wanted to hear.
Given aWol's public belligerence against Iraq, starting with the "axis of evil" speech in early 2002, Libi would have realized that there was no conflict between deceiving his interrogators (or at least their bosses) and telling them what they wanted to hear. Since both the US and Saddam were enemies of al Qaeda, deceiving the interrogators by telling them what they wanted to hear--that is, that Iraq had supported al Qaeda--was both the smartest and simplest thing Libi could have done. Not only did he possibly make things better for himself, at least temporarily, but he furthered al Qaeda's cause. Saddam is out of power, and the US is bogged down in a bloody and pointless occupation which has earned it the hatred of almost the entire Muslim world.

If this type of "information" from captured al Qaeda operatives was what convinced gullible Americans in power, like Powell, Rice and Kerry*, that we needed to go to war in Iraq, we would have been far better off never to have captured a single al Qaeda member. While the total number of American dead from the war in Iraq hasn't yet reached the total from 9/11, it seems likely that it will. But it seems certain that the long-term damage and cost to the nation of the war greatly exceeds that of 9/11.

(*I'm giving all three probably undeserved benefit of the doubt for being gullible rather than being craven warmongering beasts like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. And I pick on Kerry out of the hundreds of members of Congress who voted for the war for obvious reasons.)

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Syllogism Falls Apart

As far as I can tell, the reason a formerly liberal anti-war guy from Massachusetts would vote for the war in Iraq, NAFTA, welfare "reform," and the rest is because of the lessons "learned" by comparing the "failure" of liberal Michael Dukakis with the "success" of "new Democrat" Bill Clinton. The syllogism is:

Dukakis was liberal, Clinton was "moderate."
Dukakis lost, Clinton won.
Therefore, Democrats need to be more moderate and less liberal to win.

Sam Smith debunks this logic, and surprisingly by attacking the middle argument:
Bill Clinton got 43.9% of the vote in 1992, while Michael Dukakis - the victim of another myth as the purportedly worst possible sort of candidate - got 45%. True, Clinton was up against Ross Perot who got 19% as well as Bush, but Clinton might well have lost were it not for Perot, in which case he would have joined Michael Dukakis in the hall of shame.

Clinton won a majority in only two state-like entities: Arkansas and DC. In only 12 other states was he able to get ever 45%. Dukakis, meanwhile, got over 50% in 11 states and got over 45% in 12 others.

Here's what happened to the Democrats under Clinton, based on our latest figures:

GOP seats gained in House after Clinton became president: 48

GOP seats gained in Senate after Clinton became president: 8

GOP governorships gained after Clinton became president: 11

GOP state legislative seats gained since Clinton became president: 1,254 as of 1998

State legislatures taken over by GOP after Clinton became president: 9

Democrat officeholders who have become Republicans since Clinton became president: 439 as of 1998 Republican officeholders who became Democrats: 3

Those Don't Tax and Spend Republicans

From AP:
The White House projected Friday that this year's deficit will hit a record $445 billion, further fueling a campaign-season dispute over President Bush's handling of the economy.

The figure easily surpassed last year's $375 billion, making it the largest-ever in dollar terms. That gave ammunition to Democrats who say Bush's tax cuts and failure to prevent a loss of jobs during his term have worsened the outlook for the budget and the economy.

But in a political plus for Republicans, the new projection was also an improvement over forecasters' expectations of earlier this year. In February, the administration projected a $521 billion shortfall for 2004, while the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated a month earlier that the deficit would be $477 billion.
So they planned ahead and predicted the deficit would be even larger, and now the largest deficit in history is a "political plus." Of course, the $445 billion itself is just a projection, and probably a substantially fudged one at that.

It's Friday afternoon--the Bushies don't really think this is good news, or they would have released it during the convention.

From Jim Morin.

From Steve Kelley.

From Jeff Parker.

Once a "filthy, obscene memory;" Vietnam is now a Kerry bragging point

From the WSWS:
The protest, in which some 1,100 veterans participated, took place the week of April 20 in Washington. Kerry, as a representative of the group, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, 1971.

There he reported on the findings of a recent VVAW conference on war atrocities. In one of the most oft-quoted sections of his remarks, Kerry told the Senate committee: "They [Vietnam veterans] told the stories of times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam, in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."

Kerry continued: "We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum. We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals."

In concluding his remarks, Kerry declared: "We wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of that service as easily as this administration has wiped their memories of us. But all that they have done and all that they can do by this denial is to make more clear than ever our own determination to undertake one last mission, to search out and destroy the last vestige of this barbaric war, to pacify our own hearts, to conquer the hate and the fear that have driven this country these last 10 years and more, and so when, in 30 years from now, our brothers go down the street without a leg, without an arm, or a face, and small boys ask why, we will be able to say 'Vietnam' and not mean a desert, not a filthy obscene memory, but mean instead the place where America finally turned and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning."
How depressing. Soldiers like Kerry did help in the turning. And politicians like Kerry have helped in the turning back.

As I've said before, the World Socialist Web Site offers some of the best commentary available. This article was so good that I'm tempted to quote it in its entirety, but I'll just give you the link and a recommendation.

Additional comments:
  • I agree with Greg Palast that Bush is worse by a long shot, although I'm still not convinced on foreign policy, since they both suck so bad.
  • I admire Kerry's courage, if not his judgment, for having volunteered to go to Vietnam.
  • I admire Kerry's courage AND judgment for having spoken out against the war when he came back.
  • What the Cheney happened to him since then? I mean, if you replaced the words "Vietnam" with "Iraq," "My Lai" with "Fallujah" or "Abu Ghraib," and "Orientals" with "Arabs," wouldn't his statements from back then be fully relevant now?
  • If you want a courageous president, vote for Kerry. If you want a smart president, vote for Kerry. If you want a president who won't sell out deeply-held beliefs to serve corporate masters, write-in your grandmother or somebody.

Sympathy Hostage Taking?

From the Guardian:
More than 20 British tourists are now "safe and well" after being held hostage in a village in northern India, the Foreign Office said today.

They were among a group of 37 people travelling in two buses that were stopped last night near Santoshgarh, in Una district. Local people seized the group in protest at the kidnapping of three Indian truck drivers in Iraq.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but could it be a hint that people around the world are starting to think that they can expect nothing from their governments, that direct action against imperial interests is their only way to make a statement?

Two Krugman PS's

From today's column:
P.S.: Another story you may not see on TV: Jeb Bush insists that electronic voting machines are perfectly reliable, but The St. Petersburg Times says the Republican Party of Florida has sent out a flier urging supporters to use absentee ballots because the machines lack a paper trail and cannot "verify your vote."

P.P.S.: Three weeks ago, The New Republic reported that the Bush administration was pressuring Pakistan to announce a major terrorist capture during the Democratic convention. Hours before Mr. Kerry's acceptance speech, Pakistan announced, several days after the fact, that it had apprehended an important Al Qaeda operative.

Bush Campaign--Just Say "Yes!" to Drugs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A campaign worker for President Bush (news - web sites) said on Thursday American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs should find new ones -- or pop a Prozac to make themselves feel better.

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?" said Susan Sheybani, an assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt.
Compassionate Conservatism at its finest.

Let Me Decide, Google

As I was writing my previous post, I wanted to find articles about CNN going open-mike on the balloon guy last night. I went to Google News and entered "CNN balloons" in the search box. Google immediately changed it to "source:CNN balloons," and only came up with three articles, all on the CNN web site, and none about last night. I didn't expect CNN to post a big article about their at-best stupidity--I wanted articles from other sources about CNN's coverage of the balloons. I tried switching to "balloons CNN," but Google still treated CNN as a source, not a topic. I finally settled for "balloons convention," which got me quite a few articles about the incident, but several irrelevant articles as well.

How do I find articles using Google News that are ABOUT CNN (or FoxNews or ABC or the New York Times or whatever)? I just tried the advanced search, but it does the same thing. Well, I did find one solution--Yahoo! They give the results I wanted.

More on the morons at CNN

Several articles this morning mention what I described at the end of my previous post (below) about CNN putting the convention director's instructions on the air, but only one I've found so far even hints that it was inappropriate for CNN to do so:
Mischer's stage instructions were available to all major media -- for their guidance, not for broadcast. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer apologized to the audience "if you heard a bad word."
An old habit dating back to Gulf War I, I guess--when I want to watch a news event I turn on CNN. But jeez, they are awful!! They've got that stupid crawl going along the bottom all the time, and Wolf, Judy and Jeff seemed to be in serious competition as to who could make the most inane and trivial comments. Never a word about whether something a speaker said was accurate--only crap about how the message would play to certain voters, and even dumber stuff than that. And it's hard to imagine anything they could have done to pop Kerry's balloon, so to speak, than to put the Cheney-esque balloon guy on open mike for several minutes right after the speech.

Kerry On

Expectations make a difference. I expected a great, rousing speech from Edwards, and was mildly disappointed (I'm sure his cold or whatever it was had an effect). I expected a dry, dull drone from Kerry, and was pleasantly surprised. He was more direct and clear than I'd ever heard him before, and he had more attacks on the Bush administration than I had expected. (I assume all the talk earlier in the week about laying off the attacks was a setup just so he could pleasantly surprise the delegates with his speech--expectations.) He even said the words I really wanted him to say: "Bring our troops home."

Unfortunately, it wasn't as simple as that. His full statement was:
I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a president who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, and reduce the risk to American soldiers. That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.
No. Having kids from Leipzig and Marseilles and Cairo getting killed to save the lives of kids from Lansing and Memphis and Compton, using yen and euros instead of dollars, is not how you correct something that was both a terrible crime and a mistake. Expecting the French to go along just because you drink their wine instead of pouring it down the drain, and because you speak two languages instead of none, seems naive. Our "allies" knew that the war was a terrible idea, and neither Bush nor Kerry listened to them. Kerry mentioned several times about not sending troops to war unless it was absolutely necessary. I just can't see how that reconciles with his October 2002 vote to give an idiot clearly intent on starting a war the authorization to do so.

There were plenty of other good-sounding ideas in Kerry's speech which just do not jibe with his voting record. Greg Palast spells them out. His conclusion:
Yesterday, my buddy Michael Moore and I held a press conference in Boston. Some joker of a reporter asked Mr. Fahrenheit about Kerry's gung-ho keep'm-in-Baghdad position. Michael fudged and fidgeted. I felt bad for him as he faked the answer, "President Kerry would not have sent us to war." But as Senator, Kerry did.

I've got an easier job than Michael: as a journalist I don't have to defend any candidate. Nevertheless, I know that my Democratic Party friends will want to ship me to Guantanamo for asking, "You believe in Kerry, but does he believe in you?"

Remember, comrades, I'm only asking questions, here. I'm sorry if the answers make you uncomfortable about your favorite rich guy.

I know what you're going to say. "Isn't Bush worse?"

By a long shot. But asking if Kerry is as bad as Bush is like asking if a slap in the face is as painful as a brick to the skull.

But don't you get tired of being slapped around by privileged politicos on hypocrisy hyper-drive -- then having to applaud? It can't be pleasant, no matter how many pretty balloons they drop on your head.

PS: Speaking of those pretty balloons. I was watching the speech on CNN. When it was over, CNN inexplicably connected to the microphone warn by the guy running the effects. I figured it was a mistake, but they let it run for several minutes, even at one point putting a graphic on-screen identifying him ("voice of Joe Blow"). You heard him say "Go balloons!" And then "Where are the balloons? We need balloons now!" Then he starts swearing at the crew--he wanted the hall flooded with balloons, and was only getting a trickle. CNN kept this playing until shortly after he used the Cheney word. Judy Woodruff then explained who it was that we were listening to, but gave no explanation as to why. If they really want us to get some insight, they ought to play the CNN internal communications playing in their ears: "Wolf--say something snarky about that picture of Kerry at Cape Canaveral. Judy--mention 'Shove it' a few more times in the next few minutes. Jeff--can you make your face look even more sour?"

While I'm generally opposed to the new censorship, I hope the FCC fines CNN $1 million for the balloon-guy stunt. He had used milder profanity several times before the Cheney word came out, but they kept his mike on. And there was absolutely no excuse for them eavesdropping on that communication in the first place.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


Kerry's big speech is tonight. Pakistan announces capture of al Qaeda kid (that's what he looks like in the photos, anyway). They say he was captured "a few days back."

Coincidence? We report, you decide.

Bush War I Also A Failure

Afghanistan could implode
A British parliamentary committee has warned that Afghanistan is likely to "implode, with terrible consequences" unless more troops and resources are sent to calm the country.

The all-party Foreign Affairs Select Committee, in a report released Thursday, said warlord violence and the struggle between U.S.-led troops and insurgents continues to be a threat to security in Afghanistan.

The wide-ranging report on the war against terrorism also said raised concerns over the failure of the UK government and its allies to limit the production of opium in Afghanistan.
Medecines Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) decided to pull out of Quagmiristan yesterday. I saw several blog comments suggesting that MSF is usually the first NGO in and the last one out; when they leave things are already several levels below sucking horribly.

I'm sure that three years ago there were people in the Taliban's Afghanistan and Saddam's sanctioned Iraq who thought that things couldn't possibly get any worse. I'm afraid they misunderestimated the incredible belligerency and incompetence of George W. Bush.


Canadian Lawrence Martin on the terror "threat:"
In his speech at the Democratic convention, Jimmy Carter noted how the Bush administration had willfully generated public panic over terrorism. Statistics show that, last year, acts of terrorism killed 300 to 400 people, ranking it so far down the list of dangers to livelihood that it is barely visible. The threat of terrorism certainly shouldn't be minimized; but it also shouldn't be exaggerated by a cowed media to fit the White House agenda. For anyone who looks at some of history's worst threats -- the German military machine that killed tens of millions, the Soviet Union with a nuclear arsenal that could have turned this continent into rubble -- the terrorism of today, though George Bush has seeded so much more of it in Iraq, isn't anywhere close.

But how often does the media carry this context? The toll from weapons of mass destruction, which played no part in 9/11, has been trifling over the past decade, but the White House, playing the media as puppets, has made WMD a momentous issue of our times.

If it weren't so politically useful to Mr. Bush -- check the midterm elections -- and media buttons weren't so easy to push, it's safe a bet that the terrorism threat wouldn't get half the air time.
Of course, the Democrats have had plenty of free air time this week to bring some perspective to this issue, but did they? From their platform:
Today, we face three great challenges above all others – first, to win the global war against terror; second, to stop the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; and third, to promote democracy and freedom around the world, starting with a peaceful and stable Iraq.
Of course, John Edwards maintained perspective last night:
And we will have one clear unmistakable message for al Qaida and the rest of these terrorists. You cannot run. You cannot hide. And we will destroy you.
More people die on our highways in an average month than have died in all terror attacks in the U.S. in the past 12 years? (Over 3400 on the highways each month, compared with slightly under 3000 on 9/11, 159? in Oklahoma City, 6 in the first WTC bombing, a few others here and there.) Way more American soldiers have been killed in the past year in Iraq than by terrorist attacks on Americans in any year except 2001.

The "war on terror" is a scam pushed by both major parties to keep the military-industrial complex, and its campaign contributions, humming. Osama needs George, and George needs Osama. After he's elected, Kerry will need Osama.

Moore and O'Reilly Duke It Out

Drudge has the transcript.

Defend Lynndie England!

A defense fund has been set up. Funny, those aren't the pictures I've seen.

Polizeros says he won't be donating, and I probably won't either. Then again, with Johnny Cochran or F. Lee Bailey (is he still around?) as her lawyer, her defense might go right up the chain of command and snag a Sanchez or a Rummy.

New Poll Shows Chavez Will Win in Recall

Caracas, Venezuela, July 27 ( A new poll of Venezuelan voters finds that, if the election were held today, the recall referendum on President Hugo Chavez would fail.

The survey shows the referendum losing by eight percentage points, with forty one percent (41%) of all voters in favor of recalling President Chavez and forty nine percent (49%) opposed to recalling the President.

Among likely voters -- those who tell interviewers that they are certain to vote -- the prospects for recall proponents are even worse, with forty three percent (43%) favoring the recall and fifty one percent (51%) opposing it. Even if the pro-recall base turned out ten percent higher than the anti-recall base, the no vote would still prevail with fifty one percent (51%) of the vote.
And even if a plurality or even a majority of voters vote to recall Chavez, they would still have to exceed the 3.76 million votes by which he was elected for him to actually be recalled, according to the Bolivarian Constitution of 1999.

Not that the Times was any better...

But the NY Times has a good editorial today asking John Kerry to clarify his position on the war in Iraq:
hen he accepts the Democratic presidential nomination tonight, John Kerry needs to give the nation a clearer idea of how his choices would have differed from President Bush's - particularly when it comes to the war in Iraq. The nation deserves to be told whether Mr. Kerry would have voted to authorize the invasion if he had known that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Kerry, as the world already knows, is not a black-and-white kind of thinker, especially when it comes to foreign policy. That's good - it should give voters a real sense of choice this fall, given George Bush's tendency to view the world in absolutes. But it's not an excuse for fudging every issue. Mr. Kerry's history on the critical Iraq question has been impossibly opaque.
Bush still insists that he was right to invade. He says the war was justified because of Mr. Hussein's military ambitions and because Iraq is better off without him.

Voters need to know whether Mr. Kerry agrees.
Back in February, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter also demanded answers of Kerry:
Two years later, in the buildup toward war that took place in the summer of 2002, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which Kerry sits, convened a hearing on Iraq. At that hearing a parade of witnesses appeared, testifying to the existence of WMD in Iraq. Featured prominently was Khidir Hamza, the self-proclaimed "bombmaker to Saddam," who gave stirring first-hand testimony to the existence of not only nuclear weapons capability, but also chemical and biological weapons as well. Every word of Hamza's testimony has since been proved false. Despite receiving thousands of phone calls, letters and e-mails demanding that dissenting expert opinion, including my own, be aired at the hearing, Sen. Kerry apparently did nothing, allowing a sham hearing to conclude with the finding that there was "no doubt" Saddam Hussein had WMD.

Sen. Kerry followed up this performance in October 2002 by voting for the war in Iraq. Today he justifies that vote by noting that he only approved the "threat of war," and that the blame for Iraq rests with President George W. Bush, who failed to assemble adequate international support for the war. But this explanation rings hollow in the face of David Kay's findings that there are no WMD in Iraq. With the stated casus belli shown to be false, John Kerry needs to better explain his role not only in propelling our nation into a war that is rapidly devolving into a quagmire, but more importantly, his perpetuation of the falsehoods that got us there to begin with.

President Bush should rightly be held accountable for what increasingly appears to be deliberately misleading statements made by him and members of his administration regarding the threat posed by Iraq's WMD. If such deception took place, then Bush no longer deserves the trust and confidence of the American people.

But John Kerry seems to share in this culpability, and if he wants to be the next president of the United States, he must first convince the American people that his actions somehow differ from those of the man he seeks to replace.
He hasn't done so so far, in my opinion.

Double Dicking

Juan Cole goes after Fearmaster Cheney again.
"Cheney said terrorists are as determined to destroy America as the 'Axis powers' of Germany, Italy and Japan during World War II."
Although it may be true that al-Qaeda is as determined to destroy the US as the Axis Powers were in World War II, this observation is a Himalayan exaggeration if it is meant to suggest a parallel. Al-Qaeda is a few thousand fanatics mainly distributed in a handful of countries. If Zacharias Moussaoui and Richard Reid are any indication, a lot of them are one step away from from collecting old soda cans on the street in their grocery carts while mumbling about the radios the government implanted in their asses.

So while their determination may be impressive (or just creepy), they are not comparable to the might of three industrialized dictatorships with populations in the tens of millions. Some 13 million men served in the German army (Heer) alone between 1935 and 1945. (And WW II killed 55 million persons, not 3 thousand).
Juan goes on to point out how Cheney and Bush have been uniters, not dividers--Muslims in the Middle East now almost uniformly hate us. (Of course John Edwards' "We will destroy you" will be sure to calm their feelings.)

Juan goes on to clearly explain what is going on:
Cheney is lying again. Iraq is obviously a much greater priority for him than is fighting al-Qaeda. All the country's military resources are being sunk into Iraq. Silly decisions are made on macho grounds like deciding to besiege Fallujah or arrest Muqtada al-Sadr (from both endeavors Cheney had to slink away with his tail between his legs, because political considerations got in the way of mere application of massive force).

Why is Iraq a bigger priority for Cheney than is fighting al-Qaeda? Because there are corporate profits to be made in Iraq. There are virtually none in Afghanistan or the Pakistani tribal regions. Cheney wants to crucify the Bill of Rights on the cross of "national security," but has avoided doing the one thing that would make us both free and safe. That is developing a serious counter-insurgency plan for the Middle East that wins hearts and minds and deals effectively with asymmetrical threats. All his emphasis has been on dealing with governments, like that of Iraq, which can be defeated militarily, and the defeat of which unlocks national resources for American companies to exploit. The problem is that those governments do not pose a threat to the US mainland. To the extent that there is a threat, it comes from a shadowy network of radical Islamist guerrillas. Cheney is doing virtually nothing about them.

Medea Benjamin thrown out of convention

For speaking truth to power. From Left I:
On Flashpoints tonight, ubiquitous activist Medea Benjamin recounts the story of how she pulled out an antiwar banner while Teresa Heinz Kerry was on the podium saying:

"And that is why as president my husband will not fear disagreement or dissent. He believes that our voices -- yours and mine -- must be the voices of freedom. And if we do not speak, neither does she.

"In America the true patriots are those who dare speak truth through power."

To which Benjamin called out, "When will he bring the troops home?" and was then immediately surrounded by police (police! not security guards employed by the Democrats, police!), pulled off the floor of the convention (for which she had a valid pass), and was interrogated by police and Secret Service agents for a half an hour.
Isn't it awful that the Repugs actually have candidates that are WORSE than Kerry and Edwards?

Dream On

The CIA's man in Baghdad, Iyad Allawi, "called on Muslim nations Thursday to join a proposed force of Islamic troops in Iraq which the United States said might help protect the United Nations." (Reuters)

Actually, it seems likely that eventually some Muslim nations will get involved--but not on the US-Allawi side. The occupation is a disaster headed for a catastrophe, or maybe the other way around. Any leader of a Muslim nation who sends troops to support it would have to be considered a "suicider."

Reuters at least provides some realism to Allawi's acid trip:
Analysts said the proposal has little chance of success given that Arab and Muslim leaders, facing public opposition over pro-U.S. policies, have declined so far fearing unrest and that their troops would be dragged into Iraq's quagmire.
Reuters, while not mentioning any unmentionable motives for last year's invasion (oil, imperialism), no longer gives credence to any good motives (eliminate WMD's, humanitarian concerns), and blandly points out the lack of planning on the part of the Bushies. From the article:
The United States invaded Iraq last year to topple former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and it now has about 140,000 troops battling a deadly insurgency it did not anticipate.
On a brighter note, postal service in Iraq is apparently improving. Good thing there wasn't any anthrax there, huh?

I won't say it

I'm guessing that I'm not the only one who noticed that John Edwards older daughter Cate, on the left, looks kind of like someone else. But it would be really rude to say who.

I think Paul Conrad has been reading Paul Krugman!

From R.J. Matson.

Internet Flash Media Makes the Big Time!

From Jeff Stahler. If you're one of the three people who hasn't seen the cartoon yet--check it out!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Juan Cole takes on the Veep from the Deep

Here. Shorter Juan Cole: Dick Cheney is a liar.

Who makes the crap they sell in a Chinese Wal-Mart?

I just saw this picture on the NY Times and had to wonder--if Americans' wages are so low they have to shop at Wal-Mart because they can only afford stuff made for Chinese wages, what are they paying the people who make the crap for Chinese Wal-Marts?

We are all born liberals. We have to be trained to be conservatives.

That is Dave Pollard's conclusion to a longish post on his How to Save the World blog. He explains, in ways scarily reminiscent of what I've heard from the Democrats the last two days, how people become conservatives:
Conservatives, believers in a world of danger and weakness, must have experienced first hand, through their senses and bodies, violence, the threat of violence, abuse, neglect, repression, deprivation, uncertainty, morally atrocity, and/or moral 'failure'. We learn from what we see and what we are shown, not what we're told, which would explain why children of conservatives who live very comfortable lives tend to be more liberal, why children who are abused tend to be both conservative and abusive, and why liberals, as they get older and experience more violence, tend to get more conservative. It would also explain why liberalism peaked in the late 1960s, a time of unprecedented comfort and peace (so that, unlike the Iraq War, most saw the Vietnam War for what it was -- ideological aggression -- not for what the conservative government portrayed it as -- protection). By contrast, conservatism has peaked in depression, wartime and post-war times, when there is more physical evidence of violence, deprivation, danger and the other factors that promote a conservative worldview.
I say it reminds me of what the Democrats were saying because they all seemed to mention something about the triumph of hope over fear, while at the same time trying to out-Bush Bush in scaring us about terrorism. Pollard goes on to explain that the "war on terrorism" is really a war between conservatives:
What is particularly surprising to me is that the conservatives who are trying to make the world 'safe from terrorism' don't realize that terrorism is, in most forms, an innately (if extreme) conservative act. Bush can bluster about terrorists "hating freedom" and "being evil" but the truth is that most terrorists are not anarchists who blow things up for a lark out of self-indulgence, but rather devout, conservative fanatics who are acting out of moral outrage against what they see as evil, and who kill others as acts of retribution that they see as profoundly moral. Very much as the American neocons saw their hysterical and immensely-costly destruction of two Arab nations as profoundly moral acts of retribution for 9/11. In this sense, conservatism is self-perpetuating and self-reinforcing, and what we have seen in the last three years is different sects of aggrieved conservatives attacking each other with increasing savagery and calling each other 'evil', while we liberals sit on the sidelines saying 'huh?'

But my view of all this is, of course, a liberal one. Both the American neocons and the Arab fundamentalists would be outraged by the above paragraph, because their bodies and their personal experiences have taught them to know who is moral and who is evil, and to them, liberals just don't get it and are therefore morally weak and 'evil' as well. If you're not on the side of America/Allah/God/Whoever, you're on the side of terrorism/our enemy/Satan/evil. If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
Pollard concludes:
I could be a pessimist and confess that the conservatives are bound to win, because as the world gets more crowded and hence more violent, dangerous and filled with catastrophe this will breed more conservatives (and because conservatives are now breeding, on average, much larger families than liberals). But as a liberal, I can't be too pessimistic. As a liberal I believe that all humans are born and remain inherently 'good', or at least start out undamaged. We are all born liberals. We have to be trained to be conservatives.

War on Drugs--War on Pleasure?

In a case of the cure being worse than the disease, the British government is apparently considering giving babies innoculations that "would block the euphoric effects of drugs later in life, rendering useless narcotics such as heroin and cocaine."

I'm not a fan or user of recreational drugs, but I think the Brits should serious consider the following questions before going ahead with this:
  • Do they think the real problem with the Nazis was that they didn't go far enough?
  • Why don't they work half as hard at improving their own happiness as they do at preventing others from being happy?
  • Have they seriously considered where the CIA is supposed to get alternative funding if their drug-running operations dry up? And, of course,
  • What the Cheney?

One Month of "Sovereignty"

Day of violence claims at least 112 lives. One month ago today a puppet terrorist named Allawi was given the blue book of sovereignty by a colonial terrorist named Bremer. Iraq's decline into chaos and violence has continued unabated.

US Soldier Writes Kerry's Speech

Actually, it's probably a lot better than the one Kerry will actually give. Al Giordano had a contest, and soldier Rafael Noboa (no rank mentioned), serving in Iraq, won. Read his speech--it's pretty good: By Their Deeds, You Shall Know Them.

One John Who Speaks Out!

The New York Times has a good editorial about the stupidity of our electoral system being reflected in the Boston convention.
The great rule of this convention is that nobody should say anything to upset the swing voters. The environmentalists have refrained from complaining that their party platform contains an ode to Americans' God-given right to own S.U.V.'s. Discussions of foreign affairs are so heavy on talk about working with people of other lands that you expect the Fleet Center to burst into "It's a Small World After All.'' More unpleasant topics, like Americans torturing Iraqi prisoners or nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, get shorter shrift. The Kerry people have spread the word that negativism is out.

It would have been interesting to report on a convention in which a party preparing to run against an incumbent administration actually limited itself to positive comments. The prime-time speakers would have wound up doing charades. The organizers have had enormous success in emptying out Boston's normal population. Take away the Democrats' right to talk trash about the Bush-Cheney ticket and the place would resemble the silent morning-after scene in one of those zombie movies.

Fortunately, not everybody is paying attention. "This is America versus the panderers. This is America versus the rascals," said Representative John Dingell at the environment rally. Mr. Dingell even failed to say that this was the most important election in his lifetime, settling for an announcement that "I've had three and a half years of these scoundrels and it's all of them I can take."
That's MY congressman, readers! Read it and be jealous. On the other hand, doesn't that make ME pretty irrelevant? On most things I don't even want to change Dingell's positions--he voted against the Patriot Act and the Iraq war. On the things I disagree with--his undying support for the auto companies, especially--I have no chance of swaying him. Dingell has been in Congress WAY longer than Bush has been sober, and the Big Three have had a lot to do with that.

The editorial has an interesting conclusion:
We are stuck with a federal election system designed by people who did not want to leave the future of slavery to majority rule, and the modern technology of polling allows candidates to pinpoint the swing voters in the swing states - star pupils in the Electoral College.

To make things still weirder, the parties organize their primaries so that the nominees are chosen by only a few lucky states. Democratic voters in early primary states selected John Kerry as the presidential nominee because they thought he would appeal to people in places like Florida. But something happened in the long months between the Iowa caucus and the Boston convention. Despite the fact that Mr. Kerry's great selling point was being a winner, the Democrats now regard him as, at best, a non-loser who can, with great effort, possibly be dragged across the finish line ahead of the other guy. If everybody is very careful not to tick off the six people in Ohio and Pennsylvania [who Dems seem to believe will decide the election].

Good News in Ann Arbor!

Beginning Sunday, all University of Michigan students, faculty and staff will have unlimited free rides on Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) buses. As a staff member, I have had the option (which I chose) of getting a free bus pass instead of buying a parking pass. But the University always made it an all-or-nothing deal--to get the free bus pass you had to give up the parking pass. This kept most people from even trying the bus. Under the new setup, anyone with a University ID can ride any AATA bus at any time, parking pass or not.

For as long as I can remember, and I grew up here, the University has operated its own campus bus system. The system connects the main and north campuses, as well as providing service to commuter parking lots and some far-flung housing areas. The buses run often, and they've always been free to everyone (my friends and I used to ride them downtown when we were kids). But while the U buses run close to where I work, they don't go anywhere near where I live. So they're really only of use to me when I need to go directly from work to downtown.

Hopefully, the new agreement between the University and AATA will greatly increase the ridership on the AATA buses. I don't expect too many more where I work, where the parking passes are relatively cheap and spaces easy to find. But main campus workers have to pay a lot for their parking passes, and still have to hunt and scramble for spaces. Many of them may opt for the bus now. And hopefully lots of students will find that keeping a car on campus isn't worth the cost and hassle when they can get anywhere in town for free on the bus. If this works out, increased ridership may lead to the buses running more frequently. Most routes run every half hour on weekdays and every hour nights and weekends now. That's way too long to wait if you don't know the bus schedule and just show up at a stop, especially in bad weather.

I was impressed last year when I went to Lansing-East Lansing last year for an anti-war march. Michigan State University's bus system merged with the Capitol Area Transportation Authority years ago, and the main lines in the merged system were running every ten minutes--on Saturday! That's the type of schedule which can convince people that riding the bus is an improvement over the hassle and expense of driving and parking. Hopefully this UM-AATA agreement will have a similar effect here.

Support mass transit--ride the bus!

Freedom's Just Another Word

From Michelle, quoting a (unlinked) Time magazine article:
They have a saying in Baghdad these days about their new American-delivered freedom: the terrorists are free to kill us, and we are free to stay in our homes.

Dozens Killed in Baquba

From the NY Times:
A car bomb exploded in a town north of Baghdad today, killing at least 51 people, according to the health ministry, in the worst such attack in Iraq since the United States-led coalition handed over formal sovereignty to the Iraqi government.

The Iraqi health ministry also said that 40 people were wounded and the death toll could rise. A statement from the United States military said the attack took place at a commercial district in the town of Baquba.

The attacker drove a car packed with explosives up to a crowd of people who had gathered outside of a police recruiting center and detonated it, said Gen Walid al-Azawi, chief of police in Diyala Province, according to The Associated Press.

Also in Iraq, 35 fighters, described by the military as "anti-Iraqi" fighters, were killed in a battle with American-led troops and Iraqi government forces. Seven Iraqi Force members were killed and 10 were injured during the operation in Suwayrah, the American military said in a statement.
Lives continue to be lost in service of a lie. The lie is no longer the one about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction; that one was totally exposed about a year ago. If that was why we went, then we should have pulled out immediately, leaving huge apologies and billions of dollars in reparation money behind, and the killing would have subsided. The lie that people are dying for now is the one that the invasion was about democracy. US troops continue to battle "insurgents" in the streets, bomb "safe houses" in Fallujah (an oxymoron if ever there was one), and try to recruit Iraqis as soldiers and cops in service to Allawi's corrupt puppet regime.

But neither Bush nor Kerry will admit, at least until after the election, that the war wasn't about weapons or democracy. If they would admit, now, that the goal was to steal Iraq's oil, they could dispense with all the puppetry and street patrols. Station all of the troops in impregnable fortresses in the oil fields, with constant and massive patrols along the pipelines and at the docks. Far fewer Iraqis would be killed, and "coalition" casualties would drop precipitously. The oil fields would be better protected, and could start producing at near capacity. Perhaps some of the funds could actually go to rebuild Iraq, as the neocons pretended in the first place.

Myself, I see some problems with this strategy--mainly that it would permit Americans another few years of denial about the eventual decline of the oil economy, and another few years of possibly irrevocable damage to the planet. But those are not the reasons why Bush and Kerry won't adopt this life-saving strategy, at least not yet. Leaving the cities and non-oil-producing countryside of Iraq to the Iraqis and building a fortress around the oil fields would make clear to Americans what has been clear to most of the world all along--the war in Iraq was simply naked aggression to steal oil. And Bush and Kerry have to maintain the lie that it wasn't, no matter how many lives it costs.

On a more practical note, can't they figure out a safer way to recruit cops in Iraq? Having everyone stand waiting in a big crowd doesn't seem to work very well for anyone except the car bombers. Maybe passing out tickets with appointment times on them, so recruits can come back just in time for their interview and not just stand around waiting to get bombed?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


HAVANA (Reuters) - Drilling of an exploratory well in Cuba's virgin Gulf of Mexico waters that could make the Communist nation an oil exporter and undermine the U.S. embargo has been completed, a senior official said.
Expect the anti-Castro rhetoric to go into overdrive now--from both Bush and Kerry.

O'Reilly and Moore!

I didn't get a transcript of their parking lot discussion, but Michael Moore will be Bill O'Reilly's "guest" tonight in the "No-spin Zone." I'm guessing O'Reilly will have Moore's Mike-rophone set to "auto-shutup."

[Update 12:39 PM] I DO have a transcript, Moore or less. From Tom Tomorrow's blog:
We head back to the Fleet Center and as we are getting out of the Town Car, Bill O'Reilly is across the street getting out of his limo. "Hey Moore, when ya gonna come on my show?" he shouts. Michael responds, "When you see the rest of my movie." (O'Reilly walked out of the premiere halfway through.) He claims to have gone back and seen the whole thing, but when pressed for specifics, hems and haws. Nonetheless, Michael takes him at his word and they stand there out on the street negotiating the terms of the appearance as various Guardsmen and law enforcement types gawk and snap photos. They finally settle on a format: they will take turns asking each other questions. O'Reilly agrees not to edit the segment, and to explain in the intro that Michael has only been boycotting him because he walked out of the premiere. (It should air tonight. We'll see if he keeps the last part of that promise.)

More on the Kurds

An interesting article from the LA Times. It raises an issue that I don't think gets mentioned enough--why this absurd devotion to keeping Iraq as a single nation? There seems to be plenty of evidence that post-World War I British mapmakers did an atrocious job of breaking up the Middle East; why carry these mistakes into the new century? I understand that the Turks want to keep repressing and killing the Kurds in Turkey, but why is that a reason for preventing an independent Kurdistan?

I'm sure the breakup of Yugoslavia will be used as a justification for keeping ethnically and/or religiously diverse countries like Afghanistan and Iraq intact, but is the case there clear-cut? While a war between Serbia (Yugoslavia) and Croatia was the first result, the violence in Bosnia seems to have been as much a civil war between Bosnians as a war between Serbia and Bosnia, although Serbia certainly played a major role. And Kosovo was not separated from Serbia. So maybe it wasn't that Yugoslavia was broken up, but that it wasn't broken up enough, that was the problem.

I don't know enough about what happened (and is still happening) there, but I would suggest that no clear lesson about whether countries should be kept intact or broken up can be drawn from Yugoslavia. I think one lesson that might be reached is that when ethnic differences are large, only dictatorships can control a country with minimal violence. It seems to me that there are good reasons for having a multiplicity of countries, and that democracy stands a much better chance of success in countries where there are not large opposing groups with irreconcilable differences or long-standing hatreds.

Why not break Iraq into Shiistan, Sunnistan, and Kurdistan? Could it be worse than what they've had for thirty years, or what they have now?

Venezuela's Oil, Part Two

Venezuelanalysis has an interesting review of the same NY Times article that I reviewed on Saturday.

Charlie Brownistan

Jonathan at Tiny Revolution wonders if the Kurds understand yet that betraying them is an American pastime with a long history:
I hate to make jokes about this, because Kurds have had, to put it mildly, a hard time of it. But...


By my count, we're now working on our sixth betrayal of the Kurds since World War I. Yet they keep coming back for more. The Kurds have really become the Charlie Brown of international relations, always believing that Lucy, in the form of the US, is finally going to let them kick the football.

1000+ Killed in Floods

I Want a Transcript!

Photo from Tom Tomorrow's web site.

Monday, July 26, 2004


I just watched Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic Convention, introduced by his wife. He did the best job I've seen yet of attacking the tax cuts, making them seem unappealing, even unpatriotic in a way that must have gotten through even to some Repugs. How? He pointed out that he's now one of those millionaires in the top 1% who benefitted the most from the tax cuts! Take that, Repugs! Your tax cuts went to Bill and Hillary, and Barbara Streisand and Linda Ronstadt and the Dixie Chicks and Michael Moore and John and Teresa Kerry, when the money could have gone to veterans and firefighters and leaving fewer children behind and increasing port security. Clinton also described where the money for the tax cuts came from: out of Social Security and by borrowing from the Japanese and Chinese. He also did a nice job of framing Kerry's Vietnam service by saying that not only Bush and Cheney, but he himself found ways to stay out of Vietnam, while Kerry went.

Jimmy Carter went after Bush pretty strongly:
"Our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America -- based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world," Carter said.

Carter said the primary issue in November is whether "America will provide global leadership that springs from unity and integrity" at home, "or whether extremist doctrines and manipulation of the truth will define America's role in the world."

Carter said at stake in the election "is nothing less than our nation's soul."
Before the Clintons spoke, CNN reminded me why I almost never watch CNN. Wolf Blitzer, Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield (?) had a ridiculous discussion about whether Kerry being photographed in a clean-room outfit at Cape Canaveral was his Dukakis moment. The level of stupidity was just astounding.

BTW, here's a page full of photos of the "free-speech zone" near the Fleet Center. If John Kerry really wants to make a statement about America, he should take his secret service and some cops, and maybe a nice big pair of bolt cutters, and step outside the Fleet Center and go dismantle that abomination. Show America that he respects the right of free speech and is not afraid to see and hear his critics, unlike the current pResident.

Another Miami Terrorist

Venezuelan opposition leader, and two time president Carlos Andres Perez (CAP), made a series of statements calling for violence and hinting at an eventual dictatorial period that the Venezuelan opposition must implement if current President Hugo Chavez is to be removed from office.

"I am working to remove Chavez [from power]. Violence will allow us to remove him. That's the only way we have," said CAP in an interview published Sunday in El Nacional, one of Venezuela's main daily newspapers.

CAP, who was speaking from Miami, denied being involved in a plot to assassinate Chávez, but said Chavez "must die like a dog, because he deserves it."

There are two words that describe those who seek the violent overthrow of democratically-elected governments: terrorist, and Bushie.

Beware the F words

A letter to the editor from yesterday's Ann Arbor News:
An attention-craving vulgarian and a sensitive institution have given the amusingly notorious F-word remarkable attention locally. My position on the F-word is tolerantly neutral while favoring the view that real pain comes from sticks and stones, not words. I can respect the little obscenity's fight over centuries to get in dictionaries and out of public speech. In the Navy, I had a wartime captain who used a version of the F-word to modify practically every noun he spoke. He was a terrific skipper. My personal stand is that the word is harmless and also that it is adolescently boorish, bullying and exhibitionist to use it publicly where it isn't wanted.

This brouhaha has reminded me of two F-words that do great harm and matter much more than the tiny outlawed verb. Fascism as a description of anti-democratic, totalitarian brutality is the F-word that still merits maximum opprobrium and relentless resistance.

The other F-word, fool, which snugly fits so many who can't question authority or face the truth, may do even more damage at voting booths and elsewhere.

These F-words I fear fit many contemporary Americans. Fascist or fool will apply to those in the coming election who vote to let an illegal president installed by a right-wing cabal continue in office to abuse power and insult good sense. Let's avoid those F-words, restore the nation's sanity with a regime change, and reconnoiter again with a nice little F-word, fun.

Roy E. Meador, Ann Arbor

"You’re going to think you’re looking at a Republican convention"

I don't know if I'm really a socialist--I find Soviet-style communism and American imperial capitalism approximately equally repellant. But I do find the World Socialist Web Site to have some of the best commentary and most informative articles available on the web. Here are some excerpts from their latest on the extravajohnza which begins in Boston today:
The Democratic National Convention, which opened Monday in Boston, is the culmination of a drive by the most powerful forces in the Democratic Party, the media and the US ruling elite as whole to banish from the November presidential election any debate on the most critical issue facing the American people—the war in Iraq.

The impending coronation of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as the Democratic presidential candidate is the result of a concerted effort during the Democratic primaries to undermine the campaign of then-front-runner Howard Dean, whose bid to win the nomination became a rallying point for mass antiwar sentiment among Democratic voters and in the population at large. The aim was to silence and suppress that sentiment.

This process of political disenfranchisement is to be completed with the official endorsement of Kerry and his running mate, North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Both are multimillionaire representatives of the US ruling elite. Both voted in October of 2002 for the congressional resolution authorizing Bush to attack Iraq, and both voted in favor of the Patriot Act. That measure, under the guise of fighting the so-called “war on terror,” gives the CIA, FBI and other police agencies unprecedented powers to spy on the American people and override constitutionally protected civil liberties.
The contempt of the party hierarchy for the sentiments of Democratic voters and the squelching of any democratic discussion were underscored by a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Sunday showing that nine out of ten of the convention delegates thought the United States should not have gone to war in Iraq.

In the run-up to the convention, Kerry has gone out of his way to stress his support for the occupation of Iraq and the crushing of the anti-US insurgency, mainly criticizing Bush for not deploying more troops and, in general, botching the colonial enterprise. He has repeatedly proclaimed his support for the “war on terror” and the doctrine of preemptive war, which is the centerpiece of the Bush administration’s policy of using military force to topple unwanted governments and seize the land and resources of foreign peoples.
The further turn to the right represented by the convention is underscored by cautions from Kerry and other Democratic officials against any outright political attacks on the Bush administration. “This is not going to be about attacking George Bush,” Terry McAuliffe, the national Democratic chairman, declared over the weekend.
What is planned is an orgy of flag-waving patriotism, in which Kerry’s Vietnam War record will take center stage. An unnamed “senior Democrat” told the New York Times, “You’re going to see more veterans, more patriotism, more talk about protecting our country. You’re going to think you’re looking at a Republican convention.”
The New York Times, in its convention-eve editorial, felt obliged to pose the question: what is the point of the whole affair? Acknowledging that the convention was a political coronation, that the Democratic platform refused to even take a position on the invasion of Iraq, and that no real debate would be permitted, the newspaper said it could not argue with the decision of the broadcast networks to limit prime-time coverage to one hour a night.
There is no longer any room within a capitalist system awash in insoluble contradictions for a party of social reform. Instead, the people are confronted with two right-wing parties which, no matter how sharp and even explosive the partisan conflicts, are united in their commitment to a strategy of US global hegemony abroad and social reaction at home.

State of siege

Perhaps the starkest manifestation of the underlying social and political crisis is the extraordinary and unprecedented security surrounding the Democratic convention. This event, supposedly a showcase of American democracy in action, is being held under conditions of a virtual state of siege. Entire sections of Boston have been closed down. Steel barriers have been erected. Ordinary people are being excluded from the convention’s environs. Thousands of police, security personnel and plainclothes federal agents have descended on the city. Police are randomly searching the belongings of people riding the subways.

Demonstrators are prohibited from assembling anywhere near the convention site. They are being herded into fenced-off, isolated “free speech zones”—an Orwellian term if ever there was one—where no one can hear what they have to say.

Meanwhile, behind the barricades and phalanxes of armed police, the politicians and corporate fat cats are indulging themselves in corporate-sponsored bashes.

U.S. 'Correctional Population' Hits New High

From the NY Times:
The report found that there were 691,301 people in local and county jails and 1,387,269 in state and federal prisons last year, for a total of 2,078,570. That was an increase of 3.9 percent in the jail population and 2.3 percent in the prison population.

At the same time, the report said, there were 4,073,987 Americans on probation at the end of last year, an increase of 1.2 percent from the end of 2002, and 774,588 on parole, up 3.1 percent.
That's 6.9 million, or 3.2 percent of the population. This is the system the Bushies thinks should be exported. Not only is it controlling these 6.9 million, but it serves as a reminder to the rest of us how easy it is for the cops to plant drugs in your car. Meanwhile, the real criminals like Bush and Cheney, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands, not only go unpunished but are actually rewarded.

Violence, Kidnappings Continue in Iraq

Story. The 9/11 report and Lance and the Democratic convention may be stealing the headlines, but people are being killed just as dead as ever in the war that Bush started and Kerry approved.

Get out now!

Scott Ritter puts it bluntly--things may be bad if US troops leave Iraq, but they'll be worse if they stay.
Regardless of the number of troops the United States puts on the ground or how long they stay there, Allawi's government is doomed to fail. The more it fails, the more it will have to rely on the United States to prop it up. The more the United States props up Allawi, the more discredited he will become in the eyes of the Iraqi people - all of which creates yet more opportunities for the Iraqi resistance to exploit.

We will suffer a decade-long nightmare that will lead to the deaths of thousands more Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis. We will witness the creation of a viable and dangerous anti-American movement in Iraq that will one day watch as American troops unilaterally withdraw from Iraq every bit as ignominiously as Israel did from Lebanon.

The calculus is quite simple: the sooner we bring our forces home, the weaker this movement will be. And, of course, the obverse is true: the longer we stay, the stronger and more enduring this byproduct of Bush's elective war on Iraq will be.

There is no elegant solution to our Iraqi debacle. It is no longer a question of winning but rather of mitigating defeat.
You know Bush won't listen to Ritter--by why won't Kerry? Not only would it be the right thing to do, it would be popular! Aren't there a lot of 18 to 20 year olds out there who might actually decide to vote if there was a candidate who might keep them from getting drafted?

Free Speech--RIP

John Boys don't want to hear none of yer bellyachin' about them supportin' no wars or no NAFTA or no welfare reform. If y'all are still fixin' to carry yer fool signs and yell yer fool slogans, you can just do it from the holding pens (which a protester called an "internment camp," a description a federal judge agreed with).

From Jen Sorensen.

Ours is not to question why...

From Ted Rall.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

A grievous oversight

I has been brought to my attention that I have not paid sufficient homage to the 40th and 44th presidents of the United States. While I feel that history may well judge Ronald Reagan and John Kerry as two of the worst presidents ever, exceeded in awfulness only by the two Bushes George, it is still rude of me to treat our chief executives in this fashion. So, when I was in the grocery store the other day, I saw how I could make amends for only 99 cents (on sale)!

That's right! I bought a Reagan vegetable, proceeds going to make John Kerry's wife even richer!

I feel better already.


If there are unanswered questions, Mr. Kean said, it is mostly because "the people who were at the heart of the plot are dead."
--NY Times

I bought a copy of the 9/11 Commission report yesterday, and have just started reading it (starting with Chapter 8, which someone on Atrios suggested does a pretty good job of pointing the finger at Bush and Rice). I figure, given that the Commission was half Republican plus the Quisling Democrat co-chairman Lee Hamilton, and that Bush has already praised their work, that pretty much everything in the report critical of the Bushies is probably mostly true, and also just the tip of the iceberg. So I'll try to read most of it--it actually seems much more readable than I expected. (The full report is available online, as well as in bookstores for $7.)

But before I got far reading the report, I glanced at the NY Times online and saw an article attempting to explain the report, so I read that first. I came across the quote from Chairman Kean--"the people who were at the heart of the plot are dead." Now, while I would take issue with his contention that there are unanswered questions because of this (surely, the intelligence "failures" which allowed 9/11 to happen and opened the door for W's crusade in Iraq, along with lots of stonewalling and covering up and disinformation campaigns, have contributed mightily to keeping the full truth from coming out), I think Kean is spot on when he says that the people at the heart of the plot are dead.

I was actually surprised by how many people thought that the 9/11 attacks were brilliant, requiring some super-intelligent diabolical mastermind to direct them. Despite what Condi Rice may have thought, the idea of flying airplanes into buildings was not new, and neither was hijacking. I can easily imagine Mohammed Atta and his friends sitting in their Hamburg apartment several years ago, discussing Tom Clancy's novel "Debt of Honor," which ends with a 747 being intentionally crashed into the U.S. Capitol while the President is speaking to Congress. They wonder how they could ever get a real airline pilot to intentionally crash a plane into an occupied target building, and realize that, especially once the pilot realized that death was imminent anyway, he or she would almost certainly choose to crash in a location causing the fewest casualties (the Hudson River, say, instead of the WTC towers). They would quick come to the conclusion that they couldn't rely on commercial airline pilots to steer their planes into buildings--the hijackers would have to take over the controls themselves. "But we don't know how to fly airliners!", would be the objection. "So we'll learn," would be the reply. And the plot was born.

Assuming they had a few hundred thousand dollars available to rent apartments in the US and take flying lessons, the rest of the plot really wasn't that ingenious. It seems as though these guys were flying all over the world regularly, so they were probably well-acquainted with online reservation systems. Finding four flights leaving at about the same time would be easy; even finding ones that were mostly empty wouldn't be hard (fewer passengers meant less potential trouble).

No, the main problem the hijackers faced wasn't coming up with a devastating multi-pronged attack. The main problem would have been keeping it secret. To this end, I have to believe that there were very few people anywhere, maybe even nobody aside from the hijackers, who knew the details of their plan. Osama and his al Qaeda minnions may have provided Atta and the others with funding and connected them with the "muscle" for the job, but I doubt if even they knew when or where the attack would happen.

I forget how many supposed "masterminds" of 9/11 the Bushies claim to have captured or killed in the past nearly three years, whether in Afghanistan or Pakistan or the Yemeni desert. But I'm pretty sure that the real masterminds of 9/11 all died on 9/11, and that of the tens of thousands of people who have been killed in the "war on terror" since October 2001, probably only one or two hundred had any real connection to it (training or funding the hijackers), and probably at most ten (likely much less, including maybe zero) actually knew about the plan or took part in it. The U.S. reacted to the killing of innocent civilians by killing innocent civilians; the perpetrators of the crime killed themselves.

Of course, maybe I should read a little more of the report! But it is interesting to see Kean suggest that the hijackers themselves planned the mission.

Stupid is as stupid does

Bush dominates the Stupidity Awards, beating tough competition like Britney Spears and Saddam Hussein. Did he pay tribute to Michael Moore in his acceptance speech?

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Venezuela's Oil

The NY Times has an article about PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company. Reading the article, you'll learn that Venezuela is pumping huge amounts of crude oil, except it isn't. You'll learn that the Chavez government is unwilling to negotiate with foreign oil interests, except they are. You'll learn that oil production is suffering because of the firing of the oil executives who caused oil production to suffer, even though their replacements are capable. All of these contradictions are within the article itself, not based on something I've learned elsewhere about Venezuela's oil industry.

Nevertheless, it seems to be the best article about Venezuela I've seen in an American paper since I was in Venezuela in April. It even commits the heresy of suggesting that Chavez might win the recall referendum on August 15. Of course, the anti-Chavez bias still slips through:
Mr. Chávez's public pronouncements have done little to assuage industry concerns. He has railed against the Bush administration, accusing it of coveting Venezuela's resources, and in March he even threatened to withhold oil if the Bush administration tried an invasion.
The gall of that man, suggesting that he might not sell oil to the country that's invading his! And the Times apparently considers an embargo to be a threat, while an invasion is just part of the natural order. And what could possibly be more important than assuaging industry concerns?

Friday, July 23, 2004

Sorry I Missed the Anniversary

The 25th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night, that is. I was watching the Detroit Tigers' pregame show (they're in Chicago playing the White Sox), and they did a segment on the night that ended boogie nights for ever. There's even a commemorative web site! So what happened on Disco Demolition Night?
On July 12, 1979, while music was blaring at the legendary Studio 54 in New York City and “Saturday Night Fever” records were being played in homes across the country, another movement was taking place; thousands of people gathered on the South Side of Chicago chanting “Disco Sucks.” The night was orchestrated by then 24-year-old DJ Steve Dahl, and became known forever after as the Disco Demolition.

What began as an effort to sell seats at a White Sox/Detroit Tigers double-header turned into a mass anti-disco movement that would later be credited as the official “day that disco died.” Fans were encouraged to show up with an admission of $0.98 and a disco record that would be blown up at center field between the games; chaos ensued when an estimated 90,000 baseball fans and listeners crammed the ballpark, the surrounding neighborhood streets and the Dan Ryan expressway, creating traffic jams for miles.
Click here and you'll know--the REST of the story! (Actually, I kind of like disco, especially since I learned to dance the hustle a few years ago.)

Art Fair!

Once again, Ann Arbor has been taken over by the art fairs, four of them, I think, extending all the way from Main Street to the eastern part of the main campus. I spent a couple of hours down there last night, and about four hours today. While I looked at a lot of the art, much of it really good stuff, I spent the majority of my time in the non-profit area along Liberty Street (appropriately enough). I was collecting petition signatures to have instant runoff voting (IRV) placed on the November ballot here in Ann Arbor. I went from booth to booth, ACLU to Amnesty International to Democracy for America to NOW to Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace to Veterans for Peace to Sierra Club to Libertarians to Department of Peace, and probably a few others. People working booths like to sign petitions! It is amazing how few people, even activists, have ever heard of IRV. Almost everybody loves it once they understand it.

I also had lots of interesting discussions about the war, Kerry, and politics in general. Out in the artists area, I came across the booth of Steve Shephard of Gautier, Mississippi. His art is delightfully partisan, as you can see below:


Click on each of these items to goto larger view.
If you're in the area and going to the fair tomorrow, Steve's booth is located on Washington Street right in front of the Rackham Building. He and his wife will be delighted to talk politics with you!

They did try

From Tom Toles.

Are They Serious?

D) The History Channel

Thursday, July 22, 2004

How Kerry will really win

The Dow is back below 10,000. Repugs everywhere are losing their 37th million in paper value, eating into their gains from the Bush tax cuts. They won't be happy, and they'll let their pals in the media know. The media will start to do what it can to make Kerry look like the earlier JFK, and finally allow Bush to look like Bush. Bush gets toasted, Democrats rejoice, the wars continue, the market recovers.

9/11 Report

The U.S. government was ill-prepared to detect mistakes by al-Qaida plotters and stop the worst terror attacks in American history, the Sept. 11 commission said Wednesday in a final report that recommends sweeping overhaul of the nation's intelligence services to disrupt future attacks.
Bush thanked them for a "really good job" and said the panel makes "very solid, sound recommendations about how to move forward."

"I assured them that where the government needs to act we will," Bush said.
Ummm--how about resigning?
Less than four months before the presidential election, the commission's work already has ignited partisan debate over whether Bush took sufficient steps to deal with terrorism in the first year of his administration. Republicans have argued that Bush had just eight months to deal with the terror threat while Clinton's administration had eight years.
Have they argued that Clinton tried to deal with it, with some success, in those eight years, while the Bushies used their eight months to ignore the issue, cut the funding, and when the threat got really serious go on vacation?
Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar in the Clinton and Bush administrations and now an ABC consultant, said on the network's "Good Morning America" the commission avoided controversy. "To get unanimity they didn't talk about a number of things, like what effect is the war in Iraq having on our battle against terrorism. Did the president pay any attention to terrorism during the first nine months of his administration? The controversial things, the controversial criticisms of the Clinton administration as well as the Bush administration just aren't there."

"What they didn't do is say that the country is actually not safer now than it was then because of the rise in terrorism after our invasion in Iraq."

The Lesson of 9/11 is ...

From what Bush says, the lesson of 9/11 is that we must eliminate threats before they fully materialize. From what Bush does, I'd say that the lesson Bush actually "learned" is that we can forget about all of the lessons of the past. From a comment over at Left I on the News:
Let's see what we learned from Viet Nam. You fly a helicopter over a population that you abuse daily, you blow up their homes, you torture their fathers, violate their women, and destroy their economy. Guess what - they will shoot at you and try to kill you before you kill them.

Any questions? This post dedicated to CW2 Anthony DeSantis, helicopter pilot KIA 9/12/1969, Binh Dinh, RVN. Tony's dead - WHAT DID HE DIE FOR? Panel 18w, row 74. People who support this war are INSANE!

Flipping Bergers

The WSWS thinks the Berger affair has been blown way out of proportion, with the willing help of the Kerry campaign:
Despite the flimsiness of the charges against Berger and the obviously concocted character of the Republican-manufactured scandal, the Kerry campaign responded within hours with capitulation. Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer rejected Republican charges that Berger had provided the campaign with unauthorized classified information, calling this "a partisan attempt to divert attention away from the 9/11 commission report." But in less than a day, Berger resigned "voluntarily" as the campaign’s principal national security consultant, and Kerry issued a perfunctory statement accepting his resignation "until this matter is resolved objectively and fairly."

This speedy surrender to a right-wing provocation underscores a central political fact about the Kerry campaign. The Democrats fight ferociously to suppress any challenge from the left—witness their shamelessly antidemocratic attacks on the Ralph Nader presidential campaign, on Socialist Equality Party candidate Tom Mackaman in Illinois, and on Green Party candidates in many states. But they are prostrate in the face of attacks from the Republican right, just as they were throughout the Clinton impeachment fiasco and the stolen 2000 election in Florida.

Marines Kill 25 in Ramadi

Capture 25 more. How much more sovereignty can Iraq take?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Ted Rall picks up on my lead

Rall suggested a couple of weeks ago that Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and William Rehnquist have a serious case of "buyer's remorse" for having appointed Bush back in December 2000. I suggested the same thing, for O'Connor at least, back in January and June. Stories back in 2000 suggested that both wanted to retire with a Repug in the White House so their replacements would be of similar ideology; but over three years have passed and their both still on the Court. Several of their rulings have gone against the extreme wishes of the Bushies.

Sorry for the bragging, if that's what it is when you're talking about coming up with the same ideas as someone who gets constant death threats.


From the Scotsman:
David Kay, the former head of the Iraq Survey Group, said the reports of the Butler Inquiry and the Senate Intelligence Committee in America, together painted a picture of a "broken" system for intelligence gathering and assessment.

"I think they are a scathing indictment," he said in an interview for ITV1’s Jonathan Dimbleby programme.

"I think they are a picture of a broken system on both sides of the Atlantic, for collecting intelligence, for analysing it and finally for sending it forward to policy makers and to the public.

Mr Kay, who was hand-picked by the CIA to head the Iraq Survey Group, said that because US and UK policy on Iraq was based on WMD, analysts had been too ready to accept evidence that Iraq had banned weapons while being over-critical of evidence which suggested that they did not.

"What really happened for the analysts is they had two levels of evidence," he said.

"Anything that would confirm WMD in Iraq – very little scrutiny. Anything that showed Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, had a much higher gate to pass because if it were true, all of US policy towards Iraq would have fallen asunder.

"I think what you have in both the Senate Report and in the Butler Commission Report is a disturbing merger of the lines between intelligence, whose real role was to speak truth to power, and power whose real role is to influence the public to do the course of action that they’ve decided upon.

"That line blurred and blurred on both sides of the Atlantic with regard to Iraq."

He said that Mr Blair and Mr Bush should both have realised that the intelligence they were being presented with did not support the claims that Iraq actually had weapons.

"I think the Prime Minister as I would say the US President should have been able to tell before the war that the evidence did not exit for drawing the conclusion that Iraq presented a clear, present and imminent threat on the basis of existing weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"That was not something that required a war and inspectors like myself going in if you’d fairly interpreted the evidence that existed."

He said that the two leaders may not have been sufficiently critical of the intelligence because they had a “multitude” of other reasons for going to war.

"WMD was only one and I think in their mind, not really the most important one. And so the doubts about the evidence on weapons of mass destruction was not as serious to them as it seemed to be to the rest of the world," he said.
I remember last year, in a press conference or something, Bush told the press that we'd learn the truth about WMD's when Kay had finished his investigation. But I searched the White House web site and my own archives for the quote, and couldn't find it. If you have a link, please e-mail it to me.

It will be interesting to see Safire and the other Bush apologists try to spin THIS Kay statement like they have all the others. He is rejecting the argument that the Brits knew more, rejecting the argument that it's all the fault of the CIA, rejecting the argument that Bush still has a leg to stand on.

The one thing missing--he failed to note that Congress, as well, including Senators Kerry and Edwards, "should both have realised that the intelligence they were being presented with did not support the claims that Iraq actually had weapons." Of course, judging by the statements Kay made when he started his search for the end of the WMD rainbow, he believed the same "intelligence." But I can't really be critical of Kay. I myself never believed that he would be anywhere near this blunt in his assessment, no matter how much he didn't find. He was given a job to do, knew what results were expected, but decided to actually do the job and tell the truth about it anyway.

What little hope I have left is based on the shaky belief that there are several honorable Republicans still in the Bush administration, as well as a few in the Senate (and maybe one or two in the House), who will finally blow a whistle big enough and loud enough to stop their game.

[Update 3:46 pm] Al Giordano tells a story about one of the Republicans in the House who is calling it quits--maybe he'll blow the whistle a bit on his way out.

Russian to their doom

Win-win for aWol and Pooty-Poot. Lose-lose-lose for American and Russian soldiers and Iraq. From Pravda:
Moscow and Washington conduct negotiation to dispatch up to 40,000 Russian military men to Iraq in return to economic concessions. The Bush's administration addressed to the Russian government with a proposal to dispatch Russian military men to Iraq or Afghanistan, the US analytical information agency Stratfor reported with reference to Russian sources. It reportedly goes about 40,000 military men, including three infantry divisions and an airborne brigade.

The agency's sources close to the Russian Security Council said, President Putin "theoretically agreed" to meet the White House's wishes. It was said Putin ordered the General Headquarters to develop the plan of the operation by the end of July. Supposedly, Russian military units will be deployed on the entire territory of the country.

However, Washington would prefer to concentrate Russian troops in the area of the so-called 'Sunnite triangle,' where anti-American sentiments are exercised most. Russian soldiers will have to restrain the Iraqi resistance to give Americans more liberties to solve strategic goals in the region.

Moscow counts for certain concessions in return. Putin ordered the Ministry for Industry and Energy to prepare the list of counterclaims. The list will particularly include Washington's agreement for Russian companies to return to Iraq. In addition, Moscow would like Washington to turn down objections against Russia's membership in the WTO.
"Give Americans more liberties to solve strategic goals in the region." Hmmm...with Pooty's 40,000 and Kerry's 40,000, they'll have "liberties" to invade another country or two.

Imagine the reaction twenty years ago if Pravda had reported that 40,000 Russian soldiers might be heading to Iraq. Now Bush is begging, and may let Russia into the WTO resource-and-labor-looting club to get them there.

Explaining Free Speech

We've come a long way--now Pravda is reminding us what free speech is about.

Fortunately (I guess), the wingnuts are too ignorant...

To notice that Linda Ronstadt may have just compared Bush to Hitler, or at least the neocons to the Nazis:
"We have to stick together," she said. "I just think we can't take this lying down. It's like the Weimar Republic… these [neo-conservative] people are taking over the government. People are sound asleep and I don't think this is the time to back down."
Unlike most of the media, the LA Times gave Linda plenty of column-inches to say her peace (as it were).
What the singer said just before the final encore in Las Vegas was the same stage line she has been using to introduce the song "Desperado" around the country since she saw the Moore documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11": "I'll say, I think there's this guy who is a great patriot and I think he loves his country deeply and that he's trying to get the truth out . . . then I say his name is Michael Moore and I've just been to see his fine movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11."
"At first there's just silence, then there's "Yeah!" and then there's 'Boo!" and then the audience starts fighting with each other," she recalled. "You know how they say we are just polarized down the middle? I've done this all across the country and I'm telling you, it's like my independent poll. I have never seen a reaction like this, in all my years of touring."
A uniter, not a divider.

I wonder if the wingnuts ever stop to consider that the reason that so many celebrities are against wars is that they've been all over the world and find it hard to despise people they've met and places they've been to.

Of course not. What was I thinking?

I will say that Linda has improved her schtick with "Desperado." Many years ago, I saw her in concert at the Forum in Los Angeles (actually Inglewood). For her second or third encore, it was just her and the piano player. He plays the intro to "Desperado," then she starts singing "De-e-esperado...oops...embarrassed giggle...oh, I seem to forgotten the words!" The audience gives a sigh of sympathy, with comments like "how cute" or "it's amazing how they remember so many words anyway." Linda looks off-stage, then starts again and sings it without a hitch.

Fast forward about ten months. I'm living in Champaign, Illinois, and some friends go to hear Linda sing at the U of I Assembly Hall. When they get back, I ask them how the concert was. They said "Pretty good. It was kinda cute at the end--she forgot the words to 'Desperado.'"

All is forgiven, Linda. Speak truth to power!


Ben Cohen suggests that the pResident may be less than truthful.

Bush's response? See the next post below.

True Patriots

From the jiveturky blog:
A friendly Kerry supporter named Mr. Shenk let us use his front yard to display our banners. Now comes the good part. After waiting around for about 45 minutes, the motorcade passed by us again. A few police cars, followed by a van or two, drove by. Then, a Bush/Cheney bus passed, followed by a second one going slower. At the front of this second bus was The W himself, waving cheerily at his supporters on the other side of the highway. Adam, Brendan, and I rose our banner (the More Trees, Less Bush one) and he turned to wave to our side of the road. His smile faded, and he raised his left arm in our direction. And then, George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States of America, extended his middle finger.

Read that last sentence again.
I got flipped off by George W. Bush.

A ponytailed man standing next to us confirmed the event, saying, "I do believe the President of the U.S. just gave you boys the finger." We laughed probably for the next half hour, and promptly told everyone we knew. Brendan actually snapped a picture of Bushy in action, but the glare and the tint of the bus windows make it difficult to see him at all. Nonetheless, it was the best possible reaction.

We pissed George W. Bush off. We are true patriots.
If anyone out there is really good with PhotoShop, or if you happen to be a pissed-off photo analyst at the CIA, the picture below reportedly shows the President of the United States giving the finger to two fine Americans. It would be nice to get that cleared up. I've cropped it to keep the size down, but not changed the sampling. Jiveturky's original is here.

Jiveturky calls it "The Greatest Single Event of My Life." Thanks to achangintimes for that.

You Go Hugo!!

Venezuelan President Chavez rejected Bush's remarks saying the U.S. President's lacks the moral authority to lecture Venezuela with regard to elections. "They said they will continue to pressure to guarantee that the recall process be transparent, can you tell me which transparent process allowed Mr. Bush to win the U.S. presidential elections?... With what moral authority is he trying to lecture us?," Chavez asked during a speech.
-- Venezuelanalysis

Quote du Jour

There are allegations that Iran is connected to 9/11. President Bush says he doesn't want to go to war against them yet, he wants to wait until all the facts are in. Looks like he's trying a new strategy.
- Jay Leno, via Left I


How are you at treading water?

From the Guardian:
There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than for 55m years, enough to melt all the ice on the planet and submerge cities like London, New York and New Orleans, Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser has warned.
He said that the realisation of the scale of the crisis was what prompted him to say in January that climate change was a bigger threat than global terrorism. "We are moving from a warm period into the first hot period that man has ever experienced since he walked on the planet."

He said the heatwave of last summer in which 25,000 Europeans died had killed more people than terrorism, yet had not been given anything like the same level of attention.

The prime minister had charged him with talking to governments ahead of the G8 summit to convince them of the urgency of action on climate change, of research and development of renewables. He warned of the slow response of the climate system and said we were already doomed to 30 or 40 years of climate heating because of the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, hence the need to multiply effective flood defences such as the Thames barrier.



Say yes to paper-trail voting! You can too!

It's like being stuck in the airport with a bunch of zealous Christian missionaries

Being a progressive right now, that is. "Just accept Kerry into your heart, and your troubles will disappear. Satan Nader will tempt you with peace and health care and economic justice and fair trade, but that's how the devil works. Give yourself to John, and have faith."

I'm referring to MoveOn, Michael Moore, Barbara Ehrenreich, and others, including, sadly, Dennis Kucinich.

An independent from Pennsylvania answers Ehrenreich's It's Over Ralph op-ed with his own: It's Over Barb. Excerpt:
It's a sad day when one of the best-known liberals in America shills for a billionaire war hawk. It's sadder still when she writes a well-regarded book on poverty then turns around to skewer a man fighting for the living wage and universal healthcare on behalf of a man who voted for No Child Left Behind and welfare "reform."

You Want Freedom Fries with that Berger?

The Repugs apparently decided to leak the Berger story in preference to another terror scare or announcing the capture of Osama. (Do you really think they would actually have to capture him to say they did? They've announced the capture of people they announced they had killed months earlier--and how many body doubles was Saddam supposed to have?) Berger's crime, such as it is, happened last November and has been under investigation since then. Berger was apparently incredibly stupid, more fitting of the current administration than the last one, and perhaps there is some nefarious traitorous behavior involved here.

Still, the guy was National Security Advisor, with full access to basically every secret our government has. The documents he took were from the time he was in office, so he already had a good idea of what was in them. If he sold them to Osama, he should be prosecuted and shipped off to Gitmo. But that's not what the Repugs are worried about--they're worried that he shared them with the Kerry campaign!
Republicans were in an uproar over news of the investigation. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay called it "absolutely shocking," while one leading GOP senator, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, demanded that the Kerry campaign divulge whether Berger had provided it with classified information.
Wouldn't, SHOULDN'T, a U.S. Senator already have access to that information? And is it Chambliss' goal to accuse every Vietnam veteran of treason? If you've read my blog for more than a few nanoseconds, you know that I'm no fan of Kerry's, to put it mildly. But the Repugs seem to think that there could be no worse crime than giving classified information to a man who already has access to it, and should, since he may well be our next president. And Tom DeLay's very existence on the planet is "absolutely shocking" as far as I'm concerned.

Some day, we'll see a list of Karl Rove's headline makers for 2004--Indict some "terrorists," orange alert, some real or made-up story of a Kerry sexual dalliance, unspecified terror warning, tough talk against Iran or Cuba, orange alert, announce Osama's capture--and make the Berger investigation a big story.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Reagans Against Bush

Nancy supports stem-cell research. Son Ron will speak at the Democratic convention. And here's what the Gipper's daughter Patti Davis has to say:
What’s important is, when [Michael Moore] stood in the kitchen with a mother from Flint, Mich., whose son had just been sent to Iraq and he agreed with her that America is a great country, I believed him. I think a lot of people did. I think my friend would too, if she ever sees the movie. That’s what I mean about his love for America—it comes through even if you don’t like his style.

President Bush, on the other hand, says that he loves this country and, giving him the benefit of the doubt, I assume he does love his conceptualized idea of America. But I don’t think he loves us—the people who make up this land. The huddled masses. The millions of citizens who just want a peaceful, safe life. Those who want to put their kids through school and see them grow up; who want to take vacations to other countries without fearing for their lives because so much of the world hates us.

I don’t think you lie to people you love. I don’t think you send them off into dangerous situations on the basis of murky, cobbled-together information that isn’t really information at all. I don’t think you keep them scared all the time. I don’t think you respond to horrors like public beheadings with cowboy slogans that sound like they came from old John Wayne movies [or Ronald Reagan movies? - ed; sorry Patti]. And I think if someone masterminds an attack on people you love and murders thousands of them, you go after that person until you find him.
Of course, son Michael Reagan is a right-wing blowhard who probably thinks Dad was a wimp, and the late daughter Maureen was also an ardent Repug, although who knows what she might have had to say about Bush now.

Suggestion for a Nader-Kerry compromise

Friend Jerri asked me what I thought about Kucinich's capitulation to the Democratic (read Kerry) platform. In my response, I came up with an idea that might help both address the issues and bridge the gap. Here's what I said:
I know. Just one more thing to be depressed about. If you read Kucinich's interview with Amy Goodman, you'd see that he's depressed about it, too. But Dennis is officially a Democrat; I'm not. For details of my reacton to Dennis' capitulation, see my blog entry here.

I wonder if Kerry might support Nader being in the debates if Nader dropped his candidacy. Given Nader's chances, I would support that. Kerry could point out that since Republicans have been so excited about getting Nader on the ballot, they certainly should have no objections to him being in the debates! Maybe let him moderate one or more of the debates.

Congratulations to the Philippines!

For getting ALL of their people out of Iraq. Too bad we're not that smart.

So I'm not an Ambassador

The NY Times didn't see fit to publish my rebuttal to their one-sided anti-Chavez article, but they did publish this one from Venezuela's ambassador:
To the Editor:

Re "Moved by Homeland's Political Strife, Venezuelans Sign Up to Vote" (news article, July 12):

The Aug. 15 presidential referendum should be understood as a vote on whether to go back to the past — when Venezuela's oil wealth benefited a small number of well-connected individuals — or whether it should be invested in health care and education for everyone.

President Hugo Chávez has twice been elected president of Venezuela by large majorities in multiparty elections. Both elections were judged free and fair by international observers. Mr. Chávez's opposition has been determined to overthrow him by whatever means necessary.

Mr. Chávez survived a military coup in 2002 and an illegal, management-led work stoppage at our state oil company in 2003.

Despite all of this, both government and opposition polls show the president well positioned to win the August recall vote.

Ambassador of Venezuela
Washington, July 13, 2004

I was hoping to post my letter here with a link showing it in the Times, but that didn't happen. So, for the record, here's the letter I sent:
Editor, NY Times:
The harsh anti-Chavez tone of Mary Spicuzza’s July 12 article on Venezuelans voting in New York would suggest that the Times hasn’t learned from the Ahmed Chalabi-Judith Miller fiasco: embittered exiles aren’t always the most trustworthy sources. I have been to Venezuela. President Chavez was democratically elected by large majorities in 1998 and 2000. While he has done some things that are questionable, the charge of “dictator” is laughable. The opposition controls most of the media and stages large rallies regularly, and actively works to undermine the Venezuelan economy in order to discredit Chavez. Chavez is and will remain president only because he has the support of the majority of Venezuelans. It is scary watching the power structure in this country—Bush, Kerry, the Washington Post, and now the Times—line up so readily against Chavez and the people who elected him.
Here's the original Times article that Alvarez and I were referencing.

Random thoughts on my previous Iran post

  • Since some have suggested that the killing of 5000 by chemical weapons in Halabja may have been the doing of Iran and not Iraq, is it possible that the victims of a war between two countries, both being supplied by the US, could be used as reasons for the US starting wars with both of those countries?
  • Do the Ayatollahs still have Ollie North's phone number? If Iran puts up a good fight using some new American-made weaponry, imagine the war profit potential! It's what Republicans call "win-win."
  • If you're not scared enough yet, how about this: The Sunday Times reports that Israel is prepared to bomb Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power station if Russia goes ahead with plans to supply it with fuel. Can you say "World War III?"
  • I think maybe the neocons are fully aware that the world is pretty much at peak oil time, meaning that there will be less oil available from now on. But rather than coming to the conclusion that Richard Heinberg (author of The Party's Over) and I have come to--that we need to conserve big time, starting last year--the neonuts have decided that they're going to do everything they can to ensure that their children can live excessive, wasteful SUV lives. The 5.8 or so billion non-Americans and the environment are completely expendable for this purpose. And the grandkids are on their own.

Repugs help the peace candidate get on the ballot; Dems help the war pResident get on the ballot

Republicans get Nader on Michigan ballot; Dems get Bush on Illinois ballot. Democrats control both houses of the legislature and the governorship in Illinois, but they think it's fine to change their filing law so the Repugs can hold their convention late enough to exploit 9/11 one more time.
The new law, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson (R-Greenville) and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego), goes into effect immediately. Without the legislation, President Bush would be prohibited from appearing on the ballot in Illinois.

With the Republican nominating convention being held this year in September, without the bill, Illinois state law would not allow for his nomination to be certified within the statutorily required 67-day period before the general election.

"Illinois citizens should be able to vote for the sitting President if they choose, and this technical change will make sure that they have that option in November," said Governor Blagojevich. "I appreciate the nearly unanimous consent of the General Assembly on this matter."
Jeez, Gov, there's no one in the world who has been more thoroughly proven to be unfit for the job than the "sitting pResident;" even his daddy and that Clinton chap don't come close. Thanks to Eli for catching that. Maybe the Illinois Democrats will be kind enough to delay the vote for senator long enough so the Repugs can find a viable candidate.

From Steve Benson.

He's gotten ahead on failure all his life

The one guy who seems sure to win in November

Double Ouch

From Bruce Plante.

From Steve Kelley.

Send Barbara Too

From Mike Lane.

The Arabian Candidate

In a column sure to quiet his right-wing detractors, Paul Krugman suggests that Bush might be an al Qaeda mole. Well, at the very end of the column he says he doesn't really mean it, although the way he says it suggests that he does:
President Bush isn't actually an Al Qaeda mole, with Dick Cheney his controller. Mr. Bush's "war on terror" has, however, played with eerie perfection into Osama bin Laden's hands - while Mr. Bush's supporters, impressed by his tough talk, see him as America's champion against the evildoers.

Last week, Republican officials in Kentucky applauded bumper stickers distributed at G.O.P. offices that read, "Kerry is bin Laden's man/Bush is mine." Administration officials haven't gone that far, but when Tom Ridge offered a specifics-free warning about a terrorist attack timed to "disrupt our democratic process," many people thought he was implying that Al Qaeda wants George Bush to lose. In reality, all infidels probably look alike to the terrorists, but if they do have a preference, nothing in Mr. Bush's record would make them unhappy at the prospect of four more years.
Given that the wars on terror and Iraq are lining Republican pockets across the nation, and that Kerry won't change much about either one, I'd suggest that a more honest bumper sticker for Kentucky Repugs would say: "Bush and Kerry are bin Laden's men/And mine."

Instead of getting fired on in Baghdad...

...The "two-weeks-a-year" folks could be putting out fires, running cities, guarding prisoners, and more back home. The governors, even some Repugs, are getting restless. I wonder if they're reassured that Bush intends to keep the National Guard troops in Iraq indefinitely, and Kerry thinks he'll keep them there longer than Bush?
Much of the concern has focused on wildfires, which have started to destroy vast sections of forests in several Western states. The governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat, said in an interview after meetings here Monday that the troop deployment had left his National Guard with half the usual number of firefighters because about 400 of them were overseas while a hot, dry summer was already producing significant fires in his state.

"We're praying a lot that a major fire does not break out," he said. "It has been dry out here, the snow pack's gone because of an extremely warm May and June and the fire season came earlier."

He added, "You're just going to have fires and if you do not have the personnel to put them out, they can grow very quickly into ultimately catastrophic fires.''

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, a Republican of Idaho and departing chairman of the National Governors Association, also said through a spokesman that he was worried about the deployment of 2,000 members, or 62 percent of his National Guard, who are now training in Texas for a mission in Iraq.

"In the past we've been able to call on the National Guard," said Mark Snider, a spokesman for the governor. "We may not be able to call on these soldiers for firefighting capabilities."

Monday, July 19, 2004

Was it just a spelling mistake?

AWol is now starting to bang the war drums against Iran. Apparently the 9/11 commission will say that eight to ten of the 9/11 hijackers passed through Iran in late 2000 or early 2001. Of course they spent months or more here in the US, and most were from Saudi Arabia, and apparently had gotten assistance from Pakistan, and had lived in Germany and Spain and Indonesia. But these countries are not in the axis of evil, which means they are farther down the neocon list.

Does Iran have anything to worry about? Aren't we out of soldiers right now? Well, we're out of soldiers only in the sense that they practically have Iran surrounded:

(CIA factbook--probably bears some semblance to reality, but who knows?)

Let's see: Some 135,000 American troops to the west in Iraq, more in the southwest in Kuwait, the Persian Gulf to the south crawling with cruise-missile-equipped US warships, with bases right across the Gulf in Qatar and Bahrain. Another 12,000 or so US soldiers to the east in Afghanistan, a nuclear-equipped US ally in Pakistan to the southeast, and a few new Hallibases in the Stans to the north.

The motive? Iran's oil resources no longer compare to those in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and probably not to those in the Caspian region to the north either. But, as the CIA factbook points out, Iran has a "strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport."

One thing missing for George and his scary band of warmakers is a recognizable name for the two-minute hate. Neither Ayatollah Khamanei nor President Khatami are household names, and the Bushies haven't even begun propaganda about rape rooms, mass graves, or whatever other real or imagined crimes they might come up with for these characters. They have made a lot of noise about nukes, but you have to wonder how much of that is disinformation on the part of the Iranians. If Iraq and North Korea have taught the world anything, it's that a country that has nukes is less likely to get invaded.

Back in the USA

Go Linda! From CNN:
Singer Linda Ronstadt was thrown out of the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas on the weekend after dedicating a song to liberal film maker Michael Moore and his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11," a casino spokeswoman said Monday.

Ronstadt, who had been hired for a one-show engagement Saturday night at the Las Vegas Strip casino, dedicated a performance of "Desperado" to Moore and his controversial documentary, which criticizes President Bush and the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

That dedication angered some Aladdin guests who spilled drinks, tore down posters and demanded their money back, said casino spokeswoman Sara Gorgon.

"We had quite a scene at the box office," she said.
Exactly the type of crowd I'd expect in Vegas. I've never been there, but I despise the total wastefulness of the place. No water, a hellish climate fought by untold gigawatts to chill the flashy, noisy casinos down to 68 degrees. The NBC Nightly News had a segment on Vegas' water shortage a couple of weeks ago; it will probably be the first of many western cities to become a ghost town in the next 30-50 years, followed quickly by Phoenix and LA. Still, people who've just moved there (and there are thousands of those) continue to waste precious water on their stupid grass lawns.

I've been, briefly, in the noisy, ugly, smokey casinos in Tahoe, and imagine the Vegas casinos as being just noisier, uglier and smokier. People fly and drive their SUV's thousands of miles to act like idiots, willingly giving their money to gangsters. It sounds like Linda is sick of the place too--she probably knew her praise of Moore would piss off the mostly Repug crowd:
Before her concert, Ronstadt had laughingly told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she hoped that the casino performance would be her last.

"I keep hoping that if I'm annoying enough to them, they won't hire me back," she was quoted as telling the newspaper.
I used to be Ronstadt fan; I think I am again!

God Bless Rupert Murdoch

I know, he's polluted the world with sleazy tabloids, Fox News, Cops and the Simple Life, but 24 and especially the Simpsons make up for all. Here's some dialog from last night's Simpsons. Bart has just inadvertently mooned the American flag during the national anthem:
Principal Skinner: Your child's behavior appalls me, not just as a principal, but as a veteran of America's only losing war.

Homer: To date! (with a smile and raising a finger)
Any comments, Bill O'Reilly?

Philadelphia Freedom

Elton John attacks censorship in US.
Elton John has said stars are scared to speak out against war in Iraq because of "bullying tactics" used by the US government to hinder free speech.

"There's an atmosphere of fear in America right now that is deadly. Everyone is too career-conscious," he told New York magazine, Interview.

Sir Elton said performers could be "frightened by the current administration's bullying tactics".

The singer likened the current "fear factor" to McCarthyism in the 1950s.

"There was a moment about a year ago when you couldn't say a word about anything in this country for fear of your career being shot down by people saying you are un-American," he told the magazine.

The singer said things were different in the 1960s.

"People like Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, The Beatles and Pete Seeger were constantly writing and talking about what was going on.

"That's not happening now. As of this spring, there have been virtually no anti-war concerts - or anti-war songs that catch on, for that matter," he said.

Solar Power Update

I'm sick and tired of all this Kerry bashing, so I'm going to stop doing it for a few minutes. With help from my brother Rich and my friend Steve, I've got some semblance of a production solar system going. Rich gave me a funny little cart on rollers, and Steve built a frame for my one solar panel and attached it to the cart with hinges. This way, I can roll the cart around the back yard and tilt the panel for maximum solar exposure. I place two batteries connected in parallel inside the cart, and it takes the sun several hours to charge them. I haul the batteries inside, where I can either run my 12-volt car fan to keep me cool, or hook them to my Radio Shack inverter and watch TV for an hour or two. Unfortunately, one 55-watt solar panel isn't enough to do too much more, but I'm definitely getting a feel for the process. And it's pretty cool to see it actually work.

Later this week, I'll be adding a Bob-powered generator to the system. I'll probably connect it through a battery to the inverter and the TV, and it should extend my viewing time by approximately how long I peddle. The TV-home theater combo uses a little over 100 watts, which is supposedly a reasonable output to expect from a human on a bike. I guess I'll find out!

My long-range plan, for now, is to put 200-300 square feet of solar shingles on the south side of my roof, buy some more batteries and a fancy charge controller and inverter, and have it all connected to my house current. It won't be cheap, but probably substantially less costly than buying a new car. At current electricity prices it's not really a wise decision from an economic point of view, but that may change soon, and it's something I want to do.

If anyone in the Ann Arbor area could recommend a good roofer or electrician, I would greatly appreciate it!

896 US Dead and counting

All Aboard the Gravy Train

General Dynamics Wins Billion-Dollar Deal
A team led by General Dynamics Corp. (GD.N) has won a big contract to design and develop new hand-held radios for U.S. troops, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

U.S. Army officials in Washington gave no details, but said they briefed lawmakers on the contract on Friday and planned a news release later on Monday.

The sources told Reuters the contract to supply the new software-programmable radios to the U.S. military could be worth $5 billion to $10 billion in the longer-term.
Do you know how many politicians you could buy with $10 billion? All of them.

Who'd a thunk it?

Tony Blair lies.
Downing Street has admitted to The Observer that repeated claims by Tony Blair that '400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves' is untrue, and only about 5,000 corpses have so far been uncovered.

The claims by Blair in November and December of last year, were given widespread credence, quoted by MPs and widely published, including in the introduction to a US government pamphlet on Iraq's mass graves.

In that publication - Iraq's Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves produced by USAID, the US government aid distribution agency, Blair is quoted from 20 November last year: 'We've already discovered, just so far, the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves.'

On 14 December Blair repeated the claim in a statement issued by Downing Street in response to the arrest of Saddam Hussein and posted on the Labour party website that: 'The remains of 400,000 human beings [have] already [been] found in mass graves.'

The admission that the figure has been hugely inflated follows a week in which Blair accepted responsibility for charges in the Butler report over the way in which Downing Street pushed intelligence reports 'to the outer limits' in the case for the threat posed by Iraq.
Eli at Left I explains what this means.

Four More Years!

As Sam Smith said, The Election is Over; We Lost. From the World Socialist Web Site:
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry declared that, if he were elected, US troops would remain in Iraq throughout his first term in office—to the end of 2008. The Democratic candidate also suggested that the Bush administration was more likely to withdraw troops quickly than a Kerry administration.

Both the content of the interview and the choice of publication—the Journal has been the most vehement media advocate of the war in Iraq and is one of the chief editorial voices of the extreme right within the American political establishment—are politically calculated to send a message. Kerry is reassuring the US ruling elite, including the far-right elements who now back Bush, that he can be trusted to carry forward the US conquest and occupation of Iraq.
Kerry represents that section of the US ruling elite that wants to set aside Bush’s doubletalk about democratization. This was necessary for gulling the American people during the run-up to the war, they concede, but now it is time to get on with their real business, by establishing the security conditions in which American capital can extract profits from Iraq’s huge oil reserves and from lucrative contracts with the US-controlled puppet regime in Baghdad.

As the Journal summed up the interview, "Mr. Kerry is determined to present himself as a leader of strength, one who would more effectively pursue the same goals Mr. Bush has established for progress in Iraq and the broader anti-terror war."
Kerry and his running mate Edwards took a similarly noncommittal position on the decision to invade Iraq in joint interviews last week with several newspapers and on the CBS News program “60 Minutes.” Both were asked whether they regretted their votes to authorize the war, in light of the Senate Intelligence Committee report that the Bush administration's grounds for war with Iraq—possession of weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorists—were false.

The Democrats refused to give a straight answer on whether they would have voted for the war, knowing what they know now. Edwards summed up the position by declaring: "trying to go back and reevaluate what we would have done, had we had, hypothetically, had this information or that information, is not useful to us now."

Adding arrogance to evasion, Kerry told the New York Times, "Look, the vote is not today and that's it. I agree completely with Senator Edwards. It's a waste of time. It's not what this is about. We voted the way we voted based on the information in front of us, based on that moment in time. And it was the right vote at that time based on that information. Period."
Sounds like they're ready to take over. Edwards sounds exactly like Donald Rumsfeld and Kerry sounds very much like Bush in those quotes. The Bushies made a huge error and won't admit it. The Johns made the same huge error and won't admit it.

The whole thing is totally CHUBAR*.

(*CHUBAR--Cheneyed up beyond all recognition)

Newsweek picks up on Allawi shooting story

Soon after the June 28 handover of sovereignty to his regime, Allawi's government assumed martial-law powers -- though it has yet to use them. The government also agreed to reinstate capital punishment. "We need sanctions that are up to the scale of the crimes," Allawi says. Yet no one has been executed so far. "He was so clear to us about his commitment to democracy," says a former U.S. Coalition official. "I don't think anybody thought he was going to be a strongman."
Of course not. America would never back someone like that.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Reasons to vote for Bush and Kerry

Vote for Bush because he has already committed the high crimes and misdemeanors needed to impeach him, whereas with Kerry we'd have to wait a month or two.

Vote for Kerry because with a Republican Congress he'll be easier to impeach.

Skull & Bones: Running America into the ground for 100 years.

Any War You Can Start, I Can Start Better...

Kerry on, my wayward nation. Johnny get your gun! Ketchup boy has declared pre-emptive war against anyone who thinks his foreign policy will be any saner than Bush's.

From Rahul Mahajan's Empire Notes blog:
Kerry's at it again. He's not satisfied with calling for an increase of 40,000 in the number of U.S. troops (presumably some of the extras to be sent to Iraq). Now he wants to double the number of spooks we send abroad as well.

Although he does a bit of caviling about reconstruction contracts, entertaining the bizarre illusion that opening up bidding to the French and Germans will induce them to send their soldiers to die in Iraq, almost the entirety of Kerry's criticism of what's going on in Iraq is of the "I'm tougher than Bush" variety.

Rumsfeld authorizes an increase of 30,000 troops -- Kerry wants 40,000. The CIA says they need a 30 to 35% increase in the number of operatives abroad, and Kerry wants it to be over 100%.

It's hard to judge Kerry's political intelligence. If he thinks this kind of dick-waving is going to make people think he's tougher, more manly, and more warlike than Bush, he's a fool. If he's just trying to cover his ass while events in Iraq continue to torpedo Bush's popularity and while Bush seems unable to come up with a decent campaign ad, he's a political coward, but the results aren't in on whether it's foolish or not.

Personally, I think if Bush has a strategy left, it's crucifying Kerry in their foreign policy debate. In the second debate last time, Gore, so worried about not appearing too cerebral, managed the remarkable feat of appearing dumber than Bush. This time, Kerry, terrified of saying anything meaningful about foreign policy, could well manage the feat of appearing less substantive than Bush.

As far as policy, rather than politics, I wouldn't read too much into these statements. I don't think Kerry is actually more of a warmonger than Bush, nor that he's more gung-ho about the occupation. It's just that there's virtually nothing to choose between the two.
How can you ask someone to be the last person to die for a totally corrupt political system?


If sovereignty means anything, it seems as though it should mean that other countries are not bombing the crap out of one of your cities.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. launched airstrikes on the city of Fallujah Sunday, according to a military spokesman, which an Iraqi official said left 14 people dead and three wounded.
The "insurgents," who with different people writing the news would be called "patriots" or even "freedom fighters," are only a threat to the Americans who are illegally occupying the "sovereign" nation. And with every bomb dropped on Fallujah, that threat grows. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Get the Cheney out of Iraq--NOW!

Saturday, July 17, 2004

What is "Because he supports the war?"

From Kirk Walters.

Goebbels Was Right

From Dan Wasserman.

(In case anyone thinks I am endorsing a Nazi nutcase, I am referring specifically to Goebbels', or maybe it was Hitler's, statement that big lies are easier to get away with than small ones.)


From David Horsey.

They owe us?

Chuck Asay (It's tempting, but I won't Cheney up his name). This cartoon was of such breathtaking stupidity that I had to send Chuck an e-mail:

After the U.S. killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos a hundred years ago in a brutal colonial war, then suported the brutal Marcos for thirty years, you think they owe us the "loyalty" of supporting our illegal and incompetent occupation of Iraq. And don't forget when it was that MacArthur said "I shall return." It was when he was departing.

One thing about you Bush supporters--you never let the facts get in the way.

From Steve Benson.

I'll take my chances, thank you

From Clay Bennett.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Right on the ball

From an AP story:
The Associated Press asked a federal judge Friday to order the Pentagon to quickly turn over a full copy of President Bush's military service record.
Well, good for them.
AP first sought the Texas records in March, and sued the Pentagon in April over the allegedly slow response.
The Pentagon should definitely get its five sides moving on this one, for sure. But how about AP and the rest of the media? George H. W. Bush was head of the CIA back in the '70's, became Vice President in 1981 and President in 1989. George W. Bush worked for some of his campaigns, and even being the son or daughter of a candidate has often led to press investigations (I remember some questions about whether Gerald Ford's son had used marijuana, for example). W ran and was elected governor of Texas in 1994 and 1998, and ran for and was appointed president in 2000. So the AP finally asks the Pentagon for his military records in March 2004, and tells the Pentagon to step on it, finally deciding, as the article says, that "The public has an intense and legitimate interest in knowing the facts concerning the president's military service. Reviewing the microfilm copy of the personnel file at the Texas Records center could well answer the questions that have been raised?"

At least it fits into my personal conspiracy theory--that the powers that be (such as AP) protected Bush as much as possible until about the time that an acceptable alternative, Kerry, was put in place. Since then, we've seen Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, Abu Ghraib, the Senate Intelligence Committee, great reviews of "F-911" (even on Fox News) and now the AP deciding that the public has an "intense" interest in a decades-old story. I think that the powers that be may have decided that Bush has been so reckless and stupid in promoting the American imperial agenda that he has actually become a threat to it. They'll continue to manipulate the news to keep the election close (and let the Repugs keep hold of Congress) just in case the old liberal anti-war Kerry gets any crazy ideas about actually changing anything. They pulled Clinton's strings for eight years to keep him inline--NAFTA, welfare "reform," massive military budgets, continuing attacks on Iraq--and they feel confident that they can do the same with Kerry.

Some Recovery

Meet the New Boss, part 23

Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi killed six suspected insurgents just days before he was handed power, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The report cites two witnesses to the killing who say Allawi fatally shot the prisoners, who were handcuffed, blindfolded and lined up against a wall in a courtyard near the maximum-security facility at al-Amariyah security centre near Baghdad. They quoted Allawi as saying the men "deserved worse than death" because each had killed some 50 Iraqis.

The newspaper added the killings were seen by about a dozen Iraqi police and four Americans from Allawi's security team. Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib, another alleged witness, is said to have congratulated Allawi.
According to Holden over at Atrios' blog, the Washington (aka Moonie) Times was the first US news source to pick up on this story, which as it states was first reported in the Sydney Morning Herald. Just a couple of days ago Allawi was promising to annihilate the insurgents, and a few weeks ago we found out that he's a terrorist himself. When the CIA and US imperialists are involved, don't ever think that "regime change" means "regime improvement."


I watched the documentary Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War yesterday. Not as entertaining as "Fahrenheit 911," but a pretty thorough case is made. If you've been following this blog or similar sources, there's not much new there, but it is presented fairly coherently. It is mostly film clips of various Bush administration officials lying interspersed with explanations about how they are lying. The explanations come from former CIA agents, weapons inspectors, administration officials and others--Scott Ritter, Joseph Wilson, Ray McGovern, Karen Kwiatowski, Rand Beers, Hans Blix, John Dean, and several more.

If you're in the Ann Arbor area and have Comcast Cable, "Uncovered" will be shown on community access channel 17 at the following times:

July - 7/15 3 pm, 7/18 10 pm, 7/31 4 pm

August - 8/3 10 am, 8/13 11 pm, 8/18 3 pm, 8/30 9 pm

September - 9/2 12 noon, 9/15 11 am, 9/26 10 pm

October - 10/6 6 pm, 10/15 3 pm, 10/20 8 pm, 10/25 5 pm, 10/30 5:05 pm

November - 11/1 9 pm

Probably just a coincidence, but yesterday's showing was immediately preceded by a commercial for the Michigan Republican Party.

If you just read headlines, you know nothing

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (Republican), gave a speech in Washington on Wednesday. Here are some of the headlines about it:
  • Romney on Kerry: `Too conflicted' to be prez--Boston Herald
  • Romney: Intelligence is key to security--UPI
  • Romney sharply attacks administration--MSNBC
  • Mass. Governor criticizes Kerry--USA Today
  • Mass. Gov. Romney criticizes GOP administration, Kerry--Tacoma News Tribune, from an AP story

Same speech!! For the record, here is what the last article said:
Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney criticized the Bush administration on Wednesday, saying the government engages in wasteful spending and often gives money to ensure Republican votes.

The government doles out money "based on who will vote for us or for our party: in effect, we buy votes," Romney said in remarks prepared for delivery. "We fund programs that don't work. We tolerate abuse and cheating in the multiples of billions of dollars."
Romney also criticized Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, arguing that his ties to trial lawyers and labor unions make the Democratic candidate "too conflicted to be president."

The GOP governor said it is difficult for the four-term Massachusetts senator to take clear positions on issues such as health care and education based on his connections to unions.

"He wants a leaner government, but he can't face down the public employee unions. He is quick to point out the obvious flaws in the Iraq military campaign, but slow to tell us what he would do from here, for he wishes to appease as long as possible both those in his party who want to walk away and those who want to finish the job," Romney said.

House of Bush, House of Saud, House of Representatives

House Votes to Block Aid for Saudi Arabia
Lawmakers cheered as the House of Representatives voted on Thursday to strip financial assistance for Saudi Arabia from a foreign aid bill because of criticism that the country has not been sufficiently cooperative in the U.S. war on terror.

The vote was a stinging defeat for the Bush Administration which had strongly opposed the measure saying it would "severely undermine" counterterrorism cooperation with Saudi Arabia and U.S. efforts for peace in the Middle East.

The House voted 217-191 to remove $25,000 in the $19.4 billion 2005 foreign aid bill earmarked for Saudi Arabia.

The funds were designated for military training but approval would have triggered millions of dollars in discounts on hardware and other military training, lawmakers said.

"I don't want my taxpayer dollars going to the Saudis and I don't want anyone else's to," said Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley.
I'm surprised Tom DeLay didn't hold the vote open until his goons had a chance to kill Berkley and 26 others so Bandar Bush could win.

House of Ill-Repute

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives censured Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) after a shouting match on the House floor Thursday evening.

The argument started during a debate over HR-4818. The bill would provide international monitoring of the November presidential election. Congress has been considering an outside monitor due to all the confusion over the last election, and the "hanging chads" in Florida.

Representative Brown said, "I come from Florida, where you and others participated in what I call the United States coup d'etat. We need to make sure that it doesn't happen again. Over and over again after the election when you stole the election, you came back here and said get over it. No we're not going to get over it and we want verification from the world."

Those comments drew an immediate objection from Republican members of the House. Leaders moved to strike her comments from the record. The House also censured Brown which kept her from talking on the House floor for the rest of the day.

Congresswoman Brown responded to the matter in a statement late Thursday night. Congresswoman Brown wrote, "Striking my words from the House floor is just one more example of the Republican Party's attempt to try and cover up what happened during the 2000 election."

Brown also wrote, "When the words of Corrine Brown are stricken from the floor, so is the voice of her 600,000 constituents in Florida's 3rd Congressional District."

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Iraqi leader pledges to 'annihilate' insurgents

From CNN. I wonder if he'll be burying them in mass graves? Imagine the irony.

Watch This! Now!

You'll be glad you did!

Click here.

Of course then you'll realize it's all true.

It's Dump on the CIA Week!

Rarely have so many dumped so much on so many who are so guilty, and today the Washington Post editorial board joins the crowd stomping on Langley. This time, it's about the CIA's own prisoner scandal, where alleged terrorists have disappeared without rights or contacts, for years in some cases. The Post does a good job of pointing out what is wrong with all of this, and suggests that "Congress, or the courts, must step in to correct what appears to be a systematic violation of international law -- and fundamental American values."

No argument there. Just don't forget that the CIA's money is approved by Congress, and their orders generally come from the White House. The CIA is guilty of numerous crimes over the past half century or more, with perhaps millions of deaths on its hands. But if the press and the public lets Bush and Congress off the hook by changing the agency's name to CYA, it will be just one more hideous crime.

[update: I originally meant "half century or more" but typed "half decade or more." Which wasn't wrong, mind you! The non-error has now been corrected.]

The whole thing is Rigged

From the Washington Post:
Riggs Bank courted business from former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and helped him hide millions of dollars in assets from international prosecutors while he was under house arrest in Britain, according to a report by Senate investigators.

The report also says the top federal bank examiner in charge of supervising the District's largest bank kept details about Riggs's relationship with Pinochet out of the Riggs case file. That happened a few months before the examiner retired from the government and joined Riggs as a senior executive. The examiner, R. Ashley Lee, denied the allegations to Senate investigators.

The Senate report also said Lee recommended, while still working for the government, that the bank not be punished for failing to take steps designed to prevent money laundering.
In addition to its account of Riggs's relationship with Pinochet, who was held in Britain after an indictment in Spain on charges of "crimes against humanity," the Senate report provides new details about Riggs's dealings with Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the dictator of Equatorial Guinea.

"It's a sordid story of a bank with a prestigious name that blatantly ignored its obligations under anti-money-laundering laws," said Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), the ranking minority member of the subcommittee whose staff oversaw the investigation. "And it took our regulators five years to act in any substantive way. . . . They tolerated Riggs failures and tolerated their dysfunctional AML [anti-money-laundering] program."
Go Carl! And way down, in the last paragraph of the article, is this:
In addition to the Pinochet and Equatorial Guinea accounts, the subcommittee found others "equally troubling," including more than 150 Saudia Arabian accounts. The full Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, as part of a larger look into terrorist funding, is probing those accounts and has subpoenaed records from both the OCC and from Riggs.
So Riggs hid money for Pinochet and Nguema, and may have been laundering Saudi terrorist money as well. Meanwhile, the Post hides one important little detail: Uncle John Bush is an executive for Riggs. And don't forget, like the Post did, that aWol tried to appoint Henry Kissinger, the man who put Pinochet in power and condemned Chile to 17 years of horrible dictatorship, to head the 9/11 commission. Not to mention that Kissinger STILL ISN'T IN JAIL! The rest of the world must just laugh with contempt when Bush (or Clinton or Kerry for that matter) talk about the US spreading justice and democracy.

Online Poll

CNN asks "Should the Philippines be withdrawing its troops from Iraq?" Yes needs some help. By the way, the White House apparently has another color-code system:
To track commitments, the Bush administration keeps a color-coded chart of coalition members: red for countries withdrawing, yellow for nations considering a pullout and green for countries staying.
Is this just to confuse us? We want the US to be red on this chart, but not red in November.

In any case: Get the Cheney out of Iraq--NOW!!

Fool me once...

Billmon's got a great post about black-box voting, chad-hanging, ineligible-Democrat-listing (not to mention terrorist-harboring) State of Florida and its governor. His conclusion?
But by now you really have to wonder: How long Jeb Bush would be able to stay off the Florida felon list himself if he wasn't the brother of the president and a member of one of the most powerful political dynasties the country has ever seen. I mean, when your kid tells you the dog ate his homework once, you might not believe it, but you might give him/her the benefit of the doubt. But twice?

How many times does the Bush family have to steal a Florida election before they finally get it right?

From John Sherffius.

It's 5-0 in the first inning!

From Dan Wasserman.
By my count, Cheney's got at least a five-run lead in this department, although Edwards deserves a run or two for having supported at least the last three. Pointless, poorly-planned wars on Cheney's account include the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the Gulf War of 1991 when he was Secretary of Defense, and Afghanistan, Iraq and the invasion of Haiti as VP. He also gets some runners on base for profitting so gloriously as Halliburton CEO from Clinton's Kosovo war.

From Dick Locher.

From John Deering.

Now that's funny

From J.D. Crowe.
What is George doing back there, anyway?

Short answer: Very

From Bruce Plante.

Part of the Skull & Bones Hazing, I Guess

From Steve Kelley. Of all the things that infuriate me, the fact that the Democrats are not running a strong anti-war campaign may be the most infuriating. At this point, it appears that protecting the iron triangle, aka the military-industrial complex, is even more important to them than winning the election.

From Larry Wright. I post that one because Larry Wright is one of two normally atrocious cartoonists for Detroit's Republican paper, the Detroit News. It's interesting to see him do a cartoon that's even mildly critical of Bush.

From Mike Lane.

Gotta Take All Factors Into Account

From Boondocks.

From Doonesbury.

I'm guessing that Cheney will debate Edwards right after he releases the energy task force documents, which will be shortly after Bush admits he was wrong to invade Iraq, which will be long after hell freezes over. In a Bush-Kerry debate, most people will have a lot of trouble figuring out what either of them is saying, and probably just hear what they want to hear. Cheney-Edwards, on the other hand, would be a rematch of the Devil and Daniel Webster. Edwards managed to shine against his much less scary opponents in the Democratic debates last year. The contrast with the Veep from the Deep would be huge, even if neither one said anything substantive (which is very likely, of course). There's already talk of the Repugs dumping Cheney; if Useless Dick insists on debating Edwards, you can be sure that Karl Rove will insist on dumping him.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Rogue State

In my already foul mood, I probably shouldn't be reading William Blum's Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower. If you want page after page after page of answers to the question "Why do they hate us?" then this is your book. Here are a couple of choice sections:
"What we're doing in Vietnam is using the black man to kill the yellow man so the white man can keep the land he took from the red man."--Dick Gregory

The slippery slope began with the US siding with the French, the former colonists, and with collaborators with the Japanese, against Ho Chi Minh and his followers, who had worked closely with the Allied war effort and admired all things American. Ho Chi Minh was, after all, some kind of "communist" (one of those bad-for-you label warnings). He had written numerous letters to President Truman and the State Department asking for America's help in winning Vietnamese independence from the French and finding a peaceful solution for his country. All his entreaties were ignored. For he was some kind of communist. Ho Chi Minh modeled the new Vietnamese declaration of independence on the American, beginning it with "All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with..." But this would count for nothing in Washington. Ho Chi Minh was some kind of communist.

More than twenty years and more than a million dead later, the United States withdrew its military forces from Vietnam. Most people believe that the US lost the war. But by destroying Vietnam to its core, by poisoning the earth, the water and the gene pool for generations, Washington had in fact achieved its primary purpose: preventing what might have been the rise of a good development option for Asia. Ho Chi Minh was, after all, some kind of communist.
In the introduction, Blum explains the goals of American foreign policy:
  1. making the world open and hospitable for--in current terminology--globalization, particularly American-based transnational corporations
  2. enhancing the financial statements of defense contractors at home who have contributed generously to members of Congress and residents of the White House
  3. preventing the rise of any society that might serve as a successful example of an alternative to the capitalist model
  4. extending political, economic and military hegemony over as much of the globe as possible, to prevent the rise of any regional power that might challenge American supremacy, and to create a world order in America's image, as befits the world's only superpower.

By the way, the book was written BEFORE George W. Bush was appointed pResident.

Peak Oil: The Details

Richard Heinberg's The Party's Over has a list of the peak oil years for various countries and groups of countries. The years listed are when that nation's oil production was or will be at its maximum. You'll notice that an awful lot of these years exist in that part of time commonly known as "the past."

  • US 1970, Canada 2006, Mexico 2005, Total North America 1983
  • Argentina 1997, Brazil 2003, Colombia 2004, Ecuador 1997, Peru 1979, Trinidad & Tobago 1977, Venezuela 1970, Total South & Central America 2006
  • Denmark 2004, Italy 1997, Norway 2004, Romania 1976, UK 2000, Total Europe 2006
  • Former Soviet Union 1987
  • Iran 1976, Iraq 2009, Kuwait 2010, Oman 2005, Qatar 2004, Saudi Arabia 2017, Syria 1995, UA Emirates 2009, Yemen 2005, Total Middle East 2009
  • Algeria 2006, Angola 2002, Cameroon 1985, Congo 2004, Egypt 1993, Equatorial Guinea 2003, Gabon 2004, Libya 1969, Nigeria 2007, Tunisia 1981, Total Africa 2006
  • Australia 2005, Brunei 1979, China 2007, India 2004, Indonesia 1977, Malaysia 2003, Papua New Guinea 1993, Thailand 2004, Vietnam 2004, Total Asia-Pacific 2004
  • Total World Peak 2006
(pp 103-104)
What this means is that by the time you need to start making payments on that furniture you bought last week the planet will be unable to produce oil any faster. But there is no letup in sight for demand as people keep driving huge vehicles long miles here, while others get off of their bikes and into cars by the millions in China and elsewhere. This means shortages, big time. The real nutcase conspiracy theorists are the ones who believe that the war in Iraq was about UN resolutions or weapons of mass destruction or ties to terrorists or mass graves; it was and is all about the oil. Our completely broken political system prevents this country from facing this oncoming catastrophe with even a tiny bit of sense; both Bush and Kerry would prefer to keep fighting wars to telling the American people that they need to conserve and raise the gas tax to $5 a gallon (at a minimum). Our whole economy, including the growing and delivering of food, is based on cheap oil. And very soon there will be no such thing.

CNN Poll

Asks "Do the Bush twins help the president's re-election campaign?" I said no, which currently has a big lead, but I really wanted to say "Not unless they enlist."

Florida is simply a joke that just isn't funny any longer.

A good op-ed from the Miami Herald about the "felon" list.

It Didn't Seem Possible...

But they've finally beaten Dennis Kucinich into his "good little Democrat" box. Excerpts from a depressing interview with Amy Goodman:
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, I still consider the withdrawal from Iraq as being central not only to America's security, but to peace in the world. However, we didn't have the votes to be successful in a platform fight. You know, we barely had enough to start the discussion. I've carried this campaign in challenging the war for two and a half years. But there comes a point where we have to realize, whether we have the votes or not, to be able to prevail in insisting on our point of view, or if we're going to create a rupture that would make it impossible for a Democrat to be elected president. You know, I think what we were able to do was get some recognition from the Party, of the urgency of not maintaining a long-term commitment to Iraq, and it's a step in the right direction. It is not everything we wanted by any means. But it manages to do two things.
AMY GOODMAN: We just saw a posting at, that's headlined "Democrats Drop Anti-war Pretensions." It's by Caleb Ewing, and he describes what happened at the platform debate discussion and he said, "so it went, amendment after amendment, all unseen, none debated. Forgotten for now is justice in Palestine, department of peace, a scaled back military, the prescription of pre-emptive war, the legitimacy and primacy of international law, etc., etc. We are die-hard Democrats and even though some of us felt stretched to the breaking point by the sustained cold shoulder of the Democratic Party power elite, our progressive caucus leadership quickly scrambled to put a positive spin on the process, to wit, 'even though we were all but marginalized and ignored in the platform, and even though we got practically nothing in the end, the fact that we took part in the process and formally accepted nothing is evidence of a working relationship with the Kerry camp that will bode well for us once Kerry is elected.'" He ends by saying, "I don't know if I believe that. If the upcoming election proves to be a referendum on the war, and I think it might be, then Democrats have not sufficiently differentiated themselves from Republicans for Kerry to win."

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well you know, the same article in the New York Times that talked about the Platform Committee, on the front page of that newspaper, was a story that showed Senator Kerry and Edwards beginning to challenge the Bush administration on the war in Iraq. I think that we-- I think that they are going to continue to come a distance and it may not be exactly what I want, which is a withdrawal, and I'm going to keep continuing to speak for withdrawal. But Amy, the people who are in the Platform Committee were people who were elected, the overwhelming majority, Kerry delegates. And, you know, what does that -- so the platform does reflect the choice of Democrats from around the country. Now it may have been the choice that was made months ago, and it may not be where many Democrats are right now who are going to be voting in November. And that's why, you know, I think that I still maintain a legitimacy within the party by continuing to insist on a new direction while recognizing that we didn't have the votes to be able to put an end to a party platform. You know, I still have every intention of continuing this effort to challenge the war. You know, I started that effort and continue to do it, and to challenge the kind of policies that took us into war. So, you know it was disappointing.

Yes it was.

Too Bad They Didn't Fact-Check Chalabi Like This

Shortly before 2 p.m. on Monday, a handful of President Bush's campaign aides huddled around two small speakers in a room that, with its shades drawn, was lit by the glow of 15 television monitors. They were listening to the voice of Senator John Kerry.

None of the networks were carrying Mr. Kerry's entire speech to a group of financial donors, mostly women, in Boston that day. But Mr. Bush's operatives had somehow arranged for their own audio feed, they refused to say how, and were listening intently, ready to pounce on any opening for attack.

After sitting impatiently through what seemed to be a typical stump speech, they found one: Mr. Kerry said he was "proud" of votes by him and his running mate, Senator John Edwards, last fall against the president's requested $87 billion appropriation for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a vote that Republicans have used to make a case that Mr. Kerry has been failing to support the troops after voting to authorize the war.
-- NY Times
The central tenet of Mr. Bush's communications operation is on a sign on the office door of Nicolle Devenish, Mr. Bush's campaign communications director, which says: "It's the Hypocrisy, Stupid," a play on the famous sign in Mr. Clinton's 1992 war room, "It's the Economy, Stupid."
Q: So Mr. Bush--how do you feel about Senator Lieberman's proposal for a Department of Homeland Security? Should the UN get involved in Iraq? And what was that war all about, anyway?

Bush: Um...What year is it?

For the Hypocrite-in-Chief to accuse the Hypocrite-in-Waiting of being hypocritical is, well, the height of hypocrisy.

Peak Oil Reaches Houston

Oil prices are high, but Houston's economy isn't.
There are several reasons Houston is not enjoying a return to the days of the 1970's, when it was the nation's fastest-growing metropolitan area, flush with oil money and a backdrop for stories about roughnecks in the big city. A leading reason is the evolution in the oil business in Texas and around the world that has concentrated deal making and specialized research in Houston while large, labor-intensive exploration projects moved elsewhere.

The prolific oil wells of Texas, especially the East Texas gushers that were the basis for Houston's emergence as an oil center a century ago, have been steadily depleted over the last 25 years. Daily production statewide is now about 360,000 barrels a day, or nearly a third of what it was in 1978, the last year output surpassed a million barrels a day, according to the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the oil and gas industry in the state.
The same thing is happening or will soon happen in oil wells around the world, even as SUV's from Boise to Beijing are ready to kill for their next fix. If we're not there already, it will happen very soon, the dreaded event that politicians dare not mention: peak oil, the year when the earth is drained of more petroleum than it ever has been before, or ever will be again. Peak oil in the U.S. was reached in 1970, and no amount of despoiling of the ANWR or even the entire American West will change that fact. Doing so might actually use more energy than it finds, in any case.

If it weren't for the government taking out huge loans from China, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the names of the next generation to funnel money to Halliburton and other oil-economy corporations by starting wars under false pretenses, Houston would have been flushed into the Gulf already. The oil is running out. We can either get out of the SUV and approach the wall carefully, looking for ways to lessen the damage and maybe a way through to the other side, or we can just continue putting the pedal to the metal and crash our industrial society into the energy wall in a spectacular crash filled with wars, pestilence, and starvation. I'm starting to think those end-timers are right; what worries me is that they seem to be excited about the prospect.

(Most of what I just said is the gist of a book I read recently: The Party's Over by Richard Heinberg. If you prefer knowing what's happening to blissful ignorance, I highly recommend it.)

Does the Left Have to Be as Nasty as the Right?

George W. Bush and his cronies will clearly do anything to get their way: Lie, cheat, steal, bribe, threaten, deceive, and so forth. They are always willing to highlight crimes, real or imagined, committed by their opponents, yet they conceal their own. They will abandon stated principles to get what they want. While their intentions are generally awful, I would suggest that this ruthlessness in pursuing them may be just as bad.

So it really pisses me off to see liberals doing the same crap. PR Watch, a group I normally have a high opinion of, sent this message today as part of their "weekly spin" newsletter:
"Citizens for a Sound Economy, a national organization led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R., Texas), is widening its efforts to help presidential candidate Ralph Nader get on the ballot in pivotal states. A recent news release from the corporate-backed group says it plans to pursue those efforts 'in key battleground states like Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.' John Stauber, founder and executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, said today: 'The Republican machine is mobilizing for Nader. Major Republican funders are sending checks to Nader, and a far-right industry-funded front group, Citizens for a Sound Economy, is organizing to get Ralph on the November ballot in a number of swing states. Nader, the sworn enemy of corporate power and influence, has become its not-so-secret weapon for the November election.'"
Of course Armey's effort is a cynical abuse of the campaign financing system, but so is EVERY political contribution. Our elections should not be for sale, and few people have ever made that case longer or stronger than Ralph Nader. But even more infuriating, to me anyway, than the Republican support for Nader is the liberal opposition to him. Stauber, rather than pointing the finger at the totally corrupt political system, blames Nader. Why not blame Kerry, who most definitely is NOT the sworn enemy of corporate power and influence, and in fact has benefited greatly from it? The name-calling and other anti-Ralph activities being perpetrated by the Kerry supporters are every bit as cynical and undemocratic as the Republican support for Ralph. Neither has the slightest interest in advancing democracy. They just want their guy (their corporate elitist skull-and-bones pro-war pro-patriot-act pro-NAFTA guy) to win, principles be damned. The Democrats want to woo progressives by aggressively denying them a choice. Very democratic.

I see the same thing in the outraged reactions to the discussion on postponing elections. People who were and are up in arms, and rightly so, about voters being wrongly purged from voter lists in 2000 are now insisting that the election start and end on one day, no matter how many voters might be prevented from voting because of a terrorist attack or other disaster. This apparently because the issue was brought up by a Bush appointee. (The inner cynic inside my outer cynic suggests that this knee-jerk reaction is just what the Bushies were hoping for. The attack happens election morning in heavily-Democratic areas in Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Detroit, keeping thousands in each city from voting and turning each state red. Can't postpone the election, though.)

I saw it in MoveOn and Council for a livable World and other so-called peace organizations, who basically stopped talking about stopping the war as soon as Kerry had the nomination sewn up. It's pitiful, disgusting, and gives Kerry a free pass to keep moving farther and farther to the right.

A Tale of Two Countries

Medea Benjamin compares the kid-glove treatment given by the Bushies to profoundly undemocratic and terror-supporting Saudi Arabia to the constant bashing and regime-change rhetoric directed at very democratic Venezuela. Here's how it starts:
This is a tale of two countries.

The first is Saudi Arabia, a fundamentalist theocracy that, according to the U.S. State Department, whips and beheads political dissidents; doesn't allow women to vote; squashes political protest; amputates the hands of thieves; regularly censors the press; and has been linked by numerous reports to the Al Qaeda terrorist network that was behind the 9/11 attacks.

The second is Venezuela, a republican democracy where elections are hotly contested and closely scrutinized by international observers; political rallies regularly draw hundreds of thousands of partisans into the street; an independent press routinely criticizes top government officials; and a presidential recall referendum will take place on August 15.

Both are major oil exporters to the United States. One is being singled out for criticism and the other is being shielded from it by the Bush administration. Can you guess which is which?

In the nearly three years since the 9/11, attacks the Bush administration has been criticized for failing to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the support provided by wealthy Saudi families to Al Qaeda and madrassas -- the schools that train Saudi youth to hate America.

During that same period, the Bush administration stepped up its verbal attacks on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Moreover, the Bush administration's involvement in removing democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti earlier this year heightened fears in Venezuela that President Bush will try to intervene in Venezuela -- after all, the Bush administration was the only government in the hemisphere that approved of the 2002 coup.
Here's how it ends.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

True Conservatives Aren't So Bad

It's the war humping, bible thumping, toxin dumping, freedom jumping scumbags currently in power who are the real problem. I find myself agreeing with libertarians on many of their positions, and can at least respect their opinions on others. Libertarian Jesse Walker has a great list of "Ten Reasons to Fire George W. Bush, and nine reasons why Kerry won't be much better." Like Michelle, I think I like his tenth reason to fire Bush the best:
10. He's making me root for John Kerry. I haven't voted for a major party's presidential candidate since 1988, and I have no plans to revert to the habit this year. The Democrats have nominated a senator who—just sticking to the points listed above—voted for the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, McCain-Feingold, and the TSA; who endorses the assault on "indecency"; who thinks the government should be spending even more than it is now. I didn't have room in my top ten for the terrible No Child Left Behind Act, which further centralized control of the country's public schools—but for the record, Kerry voted for that one too. It's far from clear that he'd be any less protectionist than Bush is, and he's also got problems that Bush doesn't have, like his support for stricter gun controls. True, Kerry doesn't owe anything to the religious right, and you can't blame him for the torture at Abu Ghraib. Other than that, he's not much of an improvement.

Yet I find myself hoping the guy wins. Not because I'm sure he'll be better than the current executive, but because the incumbent so richly deserves to be punished at the polls. Making me root for a sanctimonious statist blowhard like Kerry isn't the worst thing Bush has done to the country. But it's the offense that I take most personally.

Getting there...

From Liberal Oasis' Sunday talkshow breakdown:
Q: But, Senator, if you went to the Senate in October of 2002 and said: "We're not sure about weapons of mass destruction and the relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda operation is murky, but he is a bad guy and there are mass graves, we have to go to war."

Would you have voted for war?

A: I don't know if I would have or not.
The question came from Tim Russert on Meet the Press. The answer came from Republican Senator Pat Roberts. Anyone know if Senators Kerry and Edwards have been asked that question, and how they answered it if so? I still think their votes were pathetic, if not criminal, and raise serious questions as to whether they could or should be trusted to lead the nation. Obviously Bush can't, but it's hard to see how the Johns can be trusted not to get us into stupid, illegal wars when they voted for one.


Takes on Tom DeLay. Stay out of small planes, Paul.

Why is Rummy Still Here?

A few good apples, at most:
The abuses took place, the files show, in a chaotic and dangerous environment made even more so by the constant pressure from Washington to squeeze intelligence from detainees. Riots, prisoner escapes, shootings, corrupt Iraqi guards, unsanitary conditions, rampant sexual misbehavior, bug-infested food, prisoner beatings and humiliations, and almost-daily mortar shellings from Iraqi insurgents--according to the annex to General Taguba's report, that pretty much sums up life at Abu Ghraib.
That's from U.S. News and World Report, which I believe has generally been considered well to the right of its more successful competitors, Time and Newsweek. A friend in high school always referred to it as "Useless News and World Distort." So while the source is probably less likely to be trustworthy than, say, Michael Moore, it is a lot easier to deflect criticism from the right when quoting sources like these. Besides, the article is based mostly on 106 annexes to General Taguba's report, so the information basically comes from the Pentagon. Anyway, more from the article:
It was an environment for which not just Reese's reservists but many regular Army troops were singularly unprepared. Col. Henry Nelson, an Air Force psychiatrist who prepared a report for Taguba on Abu Ghraib, described it as a "new psychological battlefield" and detailed the nature of the challenge faced by the Americans working in the overcrowded prison. "These detainees are male and female, young and old," Nelson wrote; "they may be innocent, may have high intelligence value, or may be terrorists or criminals. No matter who they are, if they are at Abu Ghraib, they are remanded in deplorable, dangerous living conditions, as are the soldiers."
Weak leadership in the prison meant soldiers couldn't accomplish basic tasks, like feeding their detainees. Without a clear chain of command, especially after Sanchez informed Karpinski that military intelligence authorities would assume responsibility for running a key area of Abu Ghraib where Iraqis were detained for interrogation, some soldiers just ran wild. "One of the tower guards was shooting prisoners with lead balls and a slingshot," a company commander testified. Karpinski, in her interview with Taguba, said some soldiers likened the place to "the wild, wild West." Soldiers ran around in civilian clothes and covered latrines with so much graffiti a commander had them painted black. An Army captain photographed female subordinates showering in outside stalls while private contractors smuggled beer into the prison.
Abu Ghraib wasn't the only prison where abuses took place. The problems there, the newly available documents show, had their roots months earlier at another U.S.-run detention center in southern Iraq called Camp Bucca. Evidence showed that MP s viciously attacked prisoners there, including one who had his nose smashed in. Four soldiers were given less than honorable discharges but were not prosecuted. "I'm convinced that what happened [at Abu Ghraib] would never have happened if" the Camp Bucca cases had been prosecuted, Maj. Michael Sheridan, who worked at Abu Ghraib, told General Taguba.
But at the same time, soldiers complained in testimony, there seemed little interest from the top brass in providing the prison facility with what it needed to get the job done. None of the top commanders wanted to hear about the lack of prison guards, lack of guns for MP s or floodlights to bathe the compounds at night and prevent escapes, almost a constant threat at Abu Ghraib. Soldiers complained that there weren't enough of them to properly man guard towers or patrol perimeters. The detainees were often separated from freedom by little more than a few strands of wire and were always on edge because of the dismal living conditions and the shortage of edible food.
Another classified annex reported that the prison complex was seriously overcrowded, with detainees often held for months without ever being interrogated. Detainees walked around in knee-deep mud, "defecating and urinating all over the compounds," said Capt. James Jones, commander of the 229th MP Company. "I don't know how there's not rioting every day," he testified.

Among the more shocking exchanges revealed in the Taguba classified annexes are a series of E-mails sent by Maj. David Dinenna of the 320th MP Battalion. The E-mails, sent in October and November to Maj. William Green of the 800th MP Brigade and copied to the higher chain of command, show a frantic attempt to simply get the detainees at Abu Ghraib edible food. Dinenna pressed repeatedly for food that wouldn't make prisoners vomit. He criticized the private food contractor for shorting the facility on hundreds of meals a day and for providing food containing bugs, rats, and dirt. "As each day goes by, tension within the prison population increases," Dinenna wrote. " . . . Simple fixes, food, would help tremendously." Instead of getting help, Major Green scolded him. "Who is making the charges that there is dirt, bugs, or whatever in the food?" Major Green replied in an E-mail. "If it is the prisoners, I would take that with a grain of salt." Dinenna shot back: "Our MP s, medics, and field surgeon can easily identify bugs, rats, and dirt, and they did." Ultimately, the food contract was not renewed, an Army spokeswoman says, although the company holds other contracts with the military.
Whatever battles there were between the top generals, many soldiers felt abandoned by their chain of command. In testimony, they complained about the lack of toilet facilities, unsanitary conditions, and their unnecessary vulnerability to frequent mortar attacks when they slept out in the compounds. "If you are talking about soldier life support, it's been horrible," Capt. Mark Hale, an MP at Abu Ghraib, told Taguba's staff last February. He added: "The only guidance my guys got was the guidance I gave them. . . . When you tried to go up, you basically got blown off."

From John Deering.

From Bruce Plante.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Bush Finally Finds Weapons of Mass Destruction Related Program Activities

These ones have been around for some sixty years, have been used to make thousands of bombs, including one which was used on an inhabited city, killing tens of thousands. Where? Oak Ridge, Tennessee, of course.

"So that's what real WMD development looks like!"

Oak Ridge was originally developed in the Manhattan Project as a massive uranium-enrichment facility. One of the two bombs dropped on Japan, I think the one on Hiroshima, was an enriched-uranium gun-style nuke. The other bomb was completely different, using plutonium extracted from reactor piles in Hanford, Washington. It used the implosion method for attaining critical mass, and was basically identical to the first nuclear bomb ever made, which was detonated at Trinity site in the New Mexico desert. (I'm writing this from memory based on the book The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, which I've read or listened to on tape two or three times. Fascinating reading if you like history, physics, or organizational theory, and you're not too squeamish reading about that topic. The book serves very well as a popular history of physics in the first half of the twentieth century. And as terrible as the product turned out to be, the Manhattan Project was still an amazing accomplishment of applied physics and teamwork. Many of the scientists involved had escaped from Hitler-controlled Europe and were driven by the fear that Hitler would get the bomb first. Some of them wanted to drop the project immediately when Germany fell in April/May 1945, but most were persuaded to continue on, and the first three bombs were ready that summer.)

No word yet as to whether Bush intends to invade eastern Tennessee.

Online Poll

On their main web page, CNN asks "Do you feel America is safer from terror because of the war in Iraq?" Currently it's 26% yes, 74% no. Let's give "no" a boost, shall we? (The poll is in the lower right of the main CNN web page.)

A Marine Figures It Out

For nearly 12 years, Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey was a hard-core, some say gung-ho, Marine. For three years he trained fellow Marines in one of the most grueling indoctrination rituals in military life - Marine boot camp.

The Iraq war changed Massey. The brutality, the sheer carnage of the U.S. invasion, touched his conscience and transformed him forever. He was honorably discharged with full severance last Dec. 31 and is now back in his hometown, Waynsville, N.C.

When I talked with Massey last week, he expressed his remorse at the civilian loss of life in incidents in which he himself was involved.
Read the rest. It's compelling, maddening and sad.

One of the Known Knowns...

...Is that Donald Rumsfeld is a total hypocrite. Steve Weissman compares the Rummy of March 2003 with the Rummy of today:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, when host Tim Russert told him that the Iraqis had announced the capture and would soon show their American POWs. Secretary Rumsfeld responded without missing a beat.

"You know," he said, "under the Geneva Convention, it's illegal to do things with prisoners of war that are humiliating to those individuals."
All that week, Pentagon officials continued to cite the Geneva Conventions, and Rumsfeld drove them home again with an explicit message to Iraqi government officials.

"The coalition POWs that you are holding must be treated according to the Geneva Conventions," he warned. "And any Iraqi officials involved in their mistreatment, humiliation or execution will pay a severe price."
Why do they hate us? Because we make the rules and then break them at will.

All the News That's Fit to Come Out of the Mouths of Embittered Exiles

That's my suggestion for the new motto for the New York Times. Judith Miller was the official scribe for Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress liars about Iraq's fabled WMD's. Now Mary Spicuzza is providing the same service for embittered exiles from Venezuela.
Some were excited, others nervous. All were rushing to fill out their voter registration forms at the Consulate General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on East 51st Street in Manhattan before it was too late. Venezuelans who had not registered by Saturday afternoon will have lost their chance to participate in one of their country's most heated votes, the Aug. 15 referendum that will decide whether President Hugo Chávez, a radical left-wing politician who has been accused of corruption and electoral fraud, will be ousted.
(For comparison's sake, here's how the Times starts another article in today's paper: "President Bush vigorously defended his strategy against terrorism today..." Note that it is not "President Bush, a radical right-wing politician who has been accused of corruption and electoral fraud and illegally taking his nation to war and various other crimes, vigorously defended his strategy against terrorism today..." Going out on a limb here, but I'd guess that every president of any country since George Washington, and probably even him, has been accused of corruption and/or electoral fraud at some point.) The Times really has no shame:
President Chávez has for years inspired a mixture of fanatical support and hatred. Mr. Chávez, who helped stage an unsuccessful coup in 1992, has earned many enemies with his radical politics and policies, which some call dictatorial. After campaigning on an anticorruption platform, he took office in 1999, but was later charged with electoral fraud stemming from a 2000 election.

Venezuelans have since witnessed a faltering economy, strikes, demonstrations and violence. Unemployment rose to about 20 percent in 2003, according to official statistics, but some say the true number is much higher.
Oooh! "Some call dictatorial." "Some say the true number is much higher." Solid reporting there. It sounds like the order has come down from on high (Bush-Kerry headquarters) that the NY Times had better start catching up with the Washington Post in its Chavez bashing or there would be serious consequences (listening to Ann Coulter's suggestion*, maybe?). More likely, the Times' reporters, like most of the mainstream media, are just a bunch of imperial fascists, and this crap comes naturally to them.

(* "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building." (Ann Coulter in a New York Observer interview, 8/20/2002), from AntiCoulter)

Election Planning, Take Three

I just finished reading way too many comments on an Atrios post about the discussion of postponing the election in the event of a terrorist attack. The vast majority of the comments there seemed to believe that even considering the issue was the absolute worst thing the Bushies have done yet. One guy, Ted Smith, who appears to be on the right side of the political spectrum, raised pretty much the same points that I raised (and Billmon as well). That main point being--isn't it better to consider the possibilities and plan for them now, rather than wait for the recriminations and lawsuits afterwards? I mean, if the Bushies are planning to use a terror attack to steal the election, they'd want those plans buried deeper than Cheney's energy task force records.

But the very FLEXIBLE Atrios commenters were ready to shoot down any and every argument that Ted Smith raised, no matter how reasonable. He described elections in the past (including a primary election on September 11, 2001 in New York) that were postponed with no obvious negative consequences. One after another, the commenters indicated that they'd get to the polls as long as they could crawl there, unconcerned apparently about fellow voters who might be unable to crawl to a polling place that might not be there (or more likely would not have power for its electronic voting machines). Personally, I think that if the information about the "felon" list in Florida had been known the day before the election, it would have been completely proper to delay the election, at least in Florida, until that was resolved. And if we have a 24-hour blackout here in Michigan on election day like the one we had last summer, one that incidentally hit mainly the Democratic stronghold areas of southeast Michigan while leaving the rest of the state unaffected, it could seriously affect the vote here and quite likely would turn this blue state red.

A few of the commenters went so far as to say that having guidelines would be an invitation to terrorists. I suggest that NOT having guidelines is a gold-plated invitation to the Bushies to do whatever the Cheney they want. I agree with Billmon that it's hard to see anybody we could trust to make the final call on postponing an election. But for me, the one thing that's scarier now than talking about having the election postponed is NOT talking about it. DeForest Soaries may be a Republican Baptist Minister who lost an election a couple of years ago and was appointed by Bush to a strange new commission, but he is doing democracy a favor by raising this issue, and I'm guessing that the people who appointed him are not happy about him raising it now. Trying to stifle this discussion plays right into Bush's hands.

FWIW--Here's a simple guideline that I would suggest: If any eligible voter is unable to get to the polling place on election day for any reason beyond his or her control, he or she is given a chance to vote as soon as it is possible, and that vote will be counted, even if it changes the outcome of an already-certified election. This would apply for voters who are injured or otherwise blocked by terrorist attacks, man-made or natural disasters, or, for example, being improperly placed on a list of felons. If the event materially affects the choices available to the voters (for example, a candidate is killed), the entire election can and should be rescheduled (One of the comments on Atrios said there were some 100,000 write-in votes for Wellstone in 2002, and these voters were not allowed a chance to vote again after Wellstone died).

Time to Exterminate the Exterminator

DeLay's Corporate Fundraising Investigated. If you're thinking that there couldn't possibly be politicians more vile and corrupt than Bush and Cheney, then you are not familiar with Tom DeLay (R-Hades). I can't remember which book it was that I read a couple of years ago which had a whole chapter on DeLay: his near total control over campaign financing for Repugs running for Congress, his sweatshop operations in the Marianas, and other scandals (Stupid White Men maybe? Or Trust Us, We're Experts? If anyone knows the book I'm talking about, please e-mail me.)

And if you have any doubt about the connections between the Hammer and Enron, just remember that in French or Spanish, "DeLay" means "of Lay." (Hey, that's better evidence than anything Bush had about Saddam's WMD's!)

Planning for the Election

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed a news story which said that a federal election commission was trying to come up with a plan for dealing with a terrorist attack close to the November election--should the election be postponed in that case, and what procedures should be followed to decide that? Most lefty bloggers and e-mailers on our local listserv suggested that this was a clear step towards stealing another election. But, contrarian that I am sometimes, I defended the commission chairman DeForest Soaries for having the guts to raise the question now. He said that he had asked for input from Tom Ridge and Condoleezza Rice, but hadn't gotten any. My feeling was and is that it's far better to raise the questions now--shine a light on it. If the Bushies are planning on stealing the election, they certainly can't be happy about one of their appointees raising the issue now.

Still I felt a bit alone in my own desolate corner of left field for defending Soaries. Fortunately, a much more widely read and well-respected blogger, Billmon, makes similar comments and expounds on them. He suggests a scenario where Democrats might be begging for the election to be postponed. Unfortunately, he says, it is hard to see any way that any decision about postponing or extending the election will be placed in the hands of someone impartial, given the Repugs control of the White House, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, I believe that the best thing we can do is make sure that the issue is discussed, and we should do whatever we can to encourage Soaries in developing guidelines, publicly, that will give us the best chance of having a fair election. Because if we don't, the Bushies will just make them up on the fly, and you KNOW they won't be impartial.


From Jimmy Margulies.
I dunno, since most of our presidents have been war criminals, Cheney does seem exceptionally well qualified.

What Motivates Recruiters

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Four more Marines Killed in Iraq

Four more Lila Lipscombs.
Four U.S. Marines were killed while conducting security operations in an area of western Iraq that has been a hotbed of anti-American resistance, the U.S. command said Sunday.

The Marines were killed Saturday in Anbar, a Sunni-dominated area west of the Iraqi capital that includes the cities of Fallujah, Ramadi and Qaim on the Syrian border.
--">Washington Post.

Osama's Political Ad

From Doonesbury.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

From Doonesbury.

Shorter George W. Bush

I was right, no matter how wrong I was. From CNN:

Bush said the United States was "right to go into Iraq. America is safer today because we did," he told a cheering crowd of supporters in Pennsylvania.

"We removed a declared enemy of America, who had the capability of producing weapons of mass destruction, and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them."
"My administration looked at the intelligence, and we saw a threat. Members of Congress looked at the intelligence, and they saw a threat.

The United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence, and it saw a threat. The previous administration and Congress looked at the intelligence -- and made regime change in Iraq the policy of our country," the president said.

When Saddam Hussein refused to heed U.N. resolutions, the United States had no choice but to make good on its promise of action, Bush said.

"We had a choice to make: Either take the word of a madman, or take action to defend America. Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time."

"Because we acted, its dictator is now in a prison cell, and will receive the justice he denied so many for so long," Bush added.
All this after the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report saying that basically all of the prewar "intelligence" was wrong. And most of what Bush says here is at best 51% correct, and at worst 99% meaningless. The Security Council approved sending inspectors back into Iraq; that's true. But based on what they were learning from those inspectors, they weren't about to approve the invasion, even though the Bushies used bribes, threats and espionage to try and get them to do so. In other words, they thought they saw a threat, but were willing to their eyes open. Bush saw a war, and wasn't going to let any facts get in his way.

And Colin? Time to quit your day job, you lying piece of Cheney:
Regarding Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 5, 2003, speech to the United Nations -- in which he presented the U.S. case for war -- the report said that "much of the information" included in the speech from the CIA "was overstated, misleading or incorrect."
Colin, I think, deserves his own very special corner of hell. Not only is he smart enough to have known better, he actually did know better, stating in 2001 that Saddam was not a threat to the U.S. or his neighbors and didn't have WMD's (see my post here or "Fahrenheit 911"). Time for Colin to be the nightclub act at Gitmo:

Friday, July 09, 2004

The Donald Fires Bush


A failure of intelligence, to be sure

Michelle has a long post on the Senate Intelligence Committee's report blasting pre-war intelligence on Iraq. The first part, that is, the part that blames the now even more rudderless CIA. The second part, blaming the Bush administration, is due to come out after it's too late to do anything about it.

Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) held a press conference this morning discussing what's in the report. Read Michelle's post if you want to see a good parsing of their comments.

There are a couple of things I want to add. First, it is a good thing to have a prominent Republican senator like Roberts clearly state that the reasons given for the war were wrong, even if he hedges on the complicity of the administration and leaves open the possibility that the war was somehow an "honest" mistake. David Kay and Richard Clarke should have been more than enough, but a quote from a Republican red-state senator which states clearly that Saddam was not a threat is powerful ammunition in arguments with people who still defend Bush.

Second, the debate seems to be over whether the CIA misled Bush, or Bush (Cheney/Feith) forced the CIA to deliver crappy intelligence, or maybe the CIA gave Bush great intelligence and he ignored it. While the last two conclusions make Bush even guiltier, the first one in no way gets him off the hook, even if you accept the dubious argument that he bears no responsibility for how the CIA works (he'd been president for nearly two years at the time in question). The reason Bush is still Cheneying guilty as sin is because UN inspectors went into Iraq for four months, looked everywhere they were asked to look, and found nothing. Perhaps not conclusive enough to acquit Saddam immediately of WMD possession, but surely plenty to raise questions about the quality of the intelligence and suggest that maybe the war be put off. I don't recall either Roberts or Rockefeller raising these questions back in February and March of 2003 when they could have made a difference: "Um, Mr. President, our intelligence is looking a little shaky here. Perhaps we should investigate further before sending thousands to their deaths?" No, only Rockefeller's fellow West Virginian Robert Byrd, Dennis Kucinich, and a very few others in Congress troubled themselves to ask that question. Two weeks before the war officially started, Nancy Pelosi suggested it was too late to do anything about it. Well, it is now, Nancy. Tell it to Lila Lipscomb.

The Third Intifada

Iraqis in Sadr City are now throwing rocks at American troops. The troops are throwing rocks back:
Preparing for a morning patrol, Sgt. Adam Brantley surveyed his perch in the gunner's nest of an armored Humvee. In front of him was a machine gun mounted on a swivel. His M-4 rifle lay on the roof next to it.

Brantley stepped down and stooped in the dust, searching for rocks the size of baseballs. He collected a few handfuls and piled them next to his rifle. His convoy pulled into the smoky streets of Sadr City.

"I don't throw unless thrown upon," said Brantley, 24, who would have cause to do so in the next few hours as rocks thrown from side streets banged against the Humvee.
Get a clue, people. The Iraqis don't want you there. We don't want you there. Only a few numbskulls in Washington and the flag-waving putriots want you to stay there getting blown up, shot at, and thrown at.

World Court Rules Against Israel's Wall

From the Washington Post. The vote was 14-1. The "1" was an American. Of course.

Yahoo slide show with lots of pix of the wall.

Why just learn a skill and get an education...

When you can get shot at or blown up, too? The army "will soon begin aggressively recruiting thousands of sailors and airmen who are otherwise scheduled to leave the Navy and Air Force because of cutbacks," according to the NY Times. I mean, since World War II, unless you were unlucky enough to be stationed on the Mayaguez or the Stark or the Iowa or the Cole, and assuming you also weren't a woman or a homosexual, the Navy and Air Force have probably by and large lived up to their recruiting ads: Give us a few years, and we'll give you a marketable skill and money for college. Aside from sending off a few cruise missiles and the like now and then, you probably won't be on either the sending or receiving end of lethal violence. Chances are very good that you won't be killed or wounded, that none of your buddies will be killed or wounded. Chances are you may not see anyone, friend or foe, get killed or wounded. You'll come back home with four limbs, a skill, a college fund, and the ability to get to sleep at night.

Meanwhile, Army and Marine recruiters have had to be at the very least highly optimistic in their promises, as shown in "F-9/11." (Sure, you can be a rap star like Snoop or a basketball player like David Robinson; heck, the Marines will help you get there!) Much more likely, of course, that you'll get blown up by a car bomb in Samarra or killed by friendly fire like Pat Tillman, but no, you'll probably just get sent to Korea.

Lori Piestawa and Jessica Lynch signed up for a supply unit in the army. Lori's dead and Jessica has permanent injuries which will be with her for the rest of her life. But you sailors don't need to worry about all that--just sign here.

Oops! They did it again!

Missing records of Bush missing military service. I've said before that I don't think the aWol thing is that big an issue--not participating in the brutal imperialist war in Vietnam was a smarter choice than Kerry's choice in signing up, and it's hypocritical for peace people to fault Bush (and Clinton, and Cheney, and Rove, and Limbaugh, and Quayle, and so on) for finding a way out. (Heck, maybe he heard Vietnam Veterans Against the War Leader John Kerry speak, and it convinced him to find a way out. Wouldn't that be ironic?) But it is fair to ask why he is now so willing to send young Americans into another brutal imperialist war (actually a fair question for Kerry as well). And I would certainly rather see the Johns take Bush on on his pitiful military record than by trying to prove that they're going to be even better at fighting Bush's stupid wars.

Venezuelan Opposition Vows to Serve Its Constituency--In Washington

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters)
Venezuela will restore friendly ties with its main oil client, the United States, and scale back relations with Cuba if opponents of President Hugo Chavez win a referendum on his rule and elections, an opposition leader said Thursday.

Alejandro Armas said the opposition, if elected to govern following a defeat for left-winger Chavez in the August 15 recall vote, would reshape his foreign policy, which has distanced Venezuela from the United States.

"Our political relations with the United States cannot be at odds with our economic relations," Armas told Reuters.

The opposition's blueprint for a post-Chavez government will be formally presented Friday. It calls for a foreign policy that "helps to restore confidence in Venezuela as a democratic nation and as a political and commercial partner."
Armas said the contradiction between Chavez's "absurd confrontation" with Washington and Venezuela's role as a strategic U.S. energy supplier should be resolved.
The Bushies backed the 2002 coup against Chavez and were quick to recognize the "legitimacy" of the fascist coup leaders (they had to be quick, since a popular uprising put Chavez back in power two days later). The US just overthrew the government of a country which had never attacked it, or even threatened to attack it, but that's not absurd because it's the U.S.? But for Chavez to call the U.S. imperialist and Bush "a jerk" just because they tried to overthrow his democratically-elected government--now that's absurd!

It looks as though the wealthy opposition in Venezuela is starting to understand that they're not going to regain control of the oil money through a popular vote; their best chance is to encourage Bush-and-Kerry-supported U.S. intervention, covert or overt, before or after the referendum. That's the one thing they're right about.

New sign

The Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace has been using "Jobs Not War in 2004" as its message for this year, as shown in this yard sign:

After seeing "Fahrenheit 9/11," I came up with a new idea (with apologies to Michael Moore--I ain't no GQ guy myself):

"Insurgency" bigger than thought

Guess what? There are huge numbers of people in the "insurgency" in Iraq (doesn't that word somehow suggest that they don't belong there, as if US troops had any right to be there?), and most of them are Iraqis.
"We're not at the forefront of a jihadist war here," said a U.S. military official in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The military official, who has logged thousands of miles driving around Iraq to meet with insurgents or their representatives, said a skillful Iraqi government could co-opt some of the guerrillas and reconcile with the leaders instead of fighting them.

"I generally like a lot of these guys," he said. "We know who the key people are in all the different cities, and generally how they operate. The problem is getting actionable information so you can either attack them, arrest them or engage them."
Hmmm. Engagement, the last option. Still, it's surprising that a U.S. military official would say he likes a lot of the insurgents. Not surprising that he spoke on condition of anonymity.

And there's this from the article:
in April alone, U.S. forces killed as many as 4,000 people, the military official said, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militiamen fighting under the banner of a radical cleric.
That makes my conjecture of 50,000 Iraqis killed in the war seem believable, especially counting the practically defenseless soldiers killed by bombing at the start of the war. Has anybody dug up those mass graves yet?

More from the article:
Most of the insurgents are fighting for a bigger role in a secular society, not a Taliban-like Islamic state, the military official said. Almost all the guerrillas are Iraqis, even those launching some of the devastating car bombings normally blamed on foreigners -- usually al-Zarqawi.

The official said many car bombings bore the "tradecraft" of Saddam's former secret police and were aimed at intimidating Iraq's new security services.

Many in the U.S. intelligence community have been making similar points, but have encountered political opposition from the Bush administration, a State Department official in Washington said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

Civilian analysts generally agreed, saying U.S. and Iraqi officials have long overemphasized the roles of foreign fighters and Muslim extremists.

Such positions support the Bush administration's view that the insurgency is linked to the war on terror. A closer examination paints most insurgents as secular Iraqis angry at the presence of U.S. and other foreign troops.

"Too much U.S. analysis is fixated on terms like 'jihadist,' just as it almost mindlessly tries to tie everything to (Osama) bin Laden," Cordesman said. "Every public opinion poll in Iraq ... supports the nationalist character of what is happening."
It has been suspected by many lefty bloggers (Michelle in particular) that Zarqawi, having lost a leg in Afghanistan and quite possibly being dead, is just being used as a distraction--a way to fire up the freepers, someone to blame the failures on, an excuse for continuing to bomb the crap out of Fallujah. Even though the probably-late Zarqawi's ties to Osama and especially Saddam are shaky, it doesn't matter to Cheney and the freepers. They were told that Zarqawi beheaded Nick Berg, and they're willing to okay any number of atrocities as retribution for that allegation.

Bad experience is worse than no experience

From R. J. Matson.

From Steve Benson.


From Doonesbury.

One Thousand

Coalition dead in the Iraq war, that is. Kudos to CNN for making that the lead story on their web site; things must be slow in the Peterson trial. Of course there were no headlines when Iraqi deaths passed 1000, or 10000, or 20000, or 50000, because nobody knows when or if these milestones were passed. (Not counting "enemy" dead is itself a violation of the Geneva conventions, although maybe they don't apply when you're "liberating" the "enemy.")

Thursday, July 08, 2004

An Outrage!

What do you think is behind the latest terror warning?
New intelligence: 3% (174 votes)
Ongoing threat: 4% (238 votes)
Playing politics: 94% (5934 votes)

So why am I outraged? There are actually 7% of the people voting in Lou Dobbs CNN poll who don't realize that Bush-Cheney-Ridge-Ashcroft are playing politics! Incredible! Go vote and make me feel better.

Twin Parties of the War Machine

ANSWER calls for protests at both the Republican AND Democratic conventions. They make a good case.

You know things are bad...

...when one Marine not killed gets bigger headlines than five soldiers killed.

John and Teresa on Larry King Tonight

9 PM. Tomorrow, Larry has a psychic who talks to the dead on for a whole hour. Should have combined the two. Teresa could have used the psychic to talk to her Republican first husband, and Larry could have used her to talk to John. (Stop it! Bad Bob! Leave the poor rich Democrat alone!)

They must like their kids better

Italian schools going organic.
Italian school food laws passed in 2002 are now coming into effect. Before 2005, 100% of foods served in schools to children age 3-10 must be organic. For students in advanced schools, 35% of cafeteria foods must be organic. Eventually 100% of the nation's school fare will be
Here in this country, school lunches not only aren't organic, they're not feces-free. Mmm-mmm.

Two Johns, 3 1/2 Years Late

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and running mate John Edwards sought to rally voters in Florida on Thursday by recalling the recount dispute in 2000 that tipped the election to George W. Bush.

"I got news for you. In 2004, not only does every vote in Florida count, but every vote is going to be counted," Kerry said during a sweltering rally inside an airport hanger. "They fix those machines, we'll fix America."
-- NY Times

If you've seen "Fahrenheit 911," you're already aware of this story:
At a joint session of the US Congress January 6 [2001] to count the Electoral College vote in the 2000 election, Democratic leaders of the House and Senate officially submitted to the hijacking of the presidency by the Republican Party and the US Supreme Court and the installation of George W. Bush in the White House.

Although 20 Democratic congressmen, mainly members of the Congressional Black Caucus, formally objected to the awarding of Florida's 25 electoral votes to Bush, not one of the 50 Democratic senators would join in the objection, as required by an 1887 law governing the counting of the electoral vote.

If even a single Democratic senator had signed an objection, the joint session would have adjourned and the House and Senate would have convened separately to vote, with a majority of both Houses required to sustain the objection. The Democrats control the Senate temporarily, since it is divided 50-50 with Vice President Al Gore holding the tie-breaking vote until January 20, but the Republicans hold a narrow majority in the House.

Such a procedure would have been politically damaging to the incoming Bush administration, underscoring the fragility and illegitimacy of the Republican victory. But Senate Democrats refused to back any objection, insisting that the presidential election contest had been ended by the US Supreme Court decision of December 12 halting hand recounts in Florida, and Gore's concession the next day.
So if only half of the 2004 Democratic ticket (or half of the 2000 ticket, for that matter, since Lieberman was a senator) had offered to support the Congressional Black Caucus, we could at the very least have highlighted the illegitimacy of the Bushies. Of course, counting the black vote may be more important to the Johns now that they are the ones likely to benefit.

When the choices are reduced to two guys who supported the two imperialist wars and the Patriot Act (and stood by while blacks were disenfranchised in Florida), and the Bush administration, you've got to wonder why anyone would think that American democracy is something worth exporting.

Just to be clear, I think the two Johns will be better than the Bushies. I just don't think they'll be good for the country or the world--just slightly less bad than Bush/@#$*&! The world in 2008 is very likely to be a worse place than it is now; how much worse is the only question to be decided in this election.

From Pat Oliphant.

Mr. Sharon, Tear Down This Wall!

Yahoo has a slide show with lots of pictures of the wall and other goings-on in Israel-Palestine.

Le chien ne parle pas anglais

From Reuters:
A blind Quebec student, who was denied entry to English classes at a Canadian university because his guide dog responds only to French commands, will be allowed to attend class, the school said on Wednesday.

Yvan Tessier was turned away from an English immersion course at the University of New Brunswick because he would be forced to give his dog, Pavot, instructions in French.
When asked by reporters Pavot said "I understand English very well. But I only respond to French. Excuse moi, s'il vous plait! Oueff!"

Israeli Interrogators in Iraq

Jane's is confirming what General Karpinski was saying recently--that the U.S. was using Israeli's to interrogate captured Iraqis.

One has to think that enraging Iraqis is one of the main GOALS of the brutality and humiliation being used in the occupation. Actually getting information seems to be far down the list. While information in more competent and well-intentioned hands might actually be useful in reducing the level of violence in Iraq, the methods being employed seem not only to incite more violence, but would seem to be their purpose. Just as Israel uses the suicide bombings to justify their continuing subjugation and humiliation of Palestinians (which of course is what leads to the bombings), the U.S. is using the "insurgent" attacks to justify the continued occupation of a supposedly "sovereign" country. As long as they figure out how to get the oil out, they don't care how many Iraqis are killed or humiliated--those deaths and humiliations seem to be serving their purpose, which is to stay.


I wonder if Hitler had it this good:
A worker with the Federal Emergency Management Agency who wore an anti-Bush T-shirt at the president’s July Fourth rally in Charleston has been sent home to Texas.

Nicole Rank, who was working for FEMA in West Virginia, and her husband, Jeff, were removed from the Capitol grounds in handcuffs shortly before Bush’s speech. The pair wore T-shirts with the message “Love America, Hate Bush.”

The Ranks were ticketed for trespassing and released. They have been given summonses to appear in court, Charleston Police Lt. C.A. Vincent said Wednesday.
The White House coordinated the president’s visit to the state Capitol. Organizers described it as a presidential visit, not a political rally. State and federal funds were used to pay for the presidential visit.

Dozens of people who attended Sunday’s event wore pro-Bush T-shirts and Bush-Cheney campaign buttons, some of which were sold on the Capitol grounds outside the security screening stations.
Since Bush doesn't read the papers and probably has never seen a protester because of crap like this, I wonder if he actually believes that he is a popular president?

[Update 12:32 PM] A commenter on Atrios linked to this article:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A couple from Texas was taken out of a speech given by President Bush in West Virginia Sunday.

Police placed Nicole and Jeffery Rank of Corpus Christi in restraints after they entered the event with a ticket and then removed their clothes to reveal anti-Bush T-shirts, according to the acting director of the Capitol police in Charleston.

He said the two were asked to go out to the designated protest area, but refused.

Bush came to West Virginia on the nation's 228th birthday to honor the country's veterans and garner support for invading Iraq.

About 6,500 people packed into the Capitol's north courtyard to hear him.

As police rushed her out, Nicole Rank shouted that they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing anti-Bush shirts.

Police say the two were issued citations for trespassing and released.
The previous article wasn't clear about where they had tickets (they did) and whether they were inside or out of the area where tickets were required (inside). This makes it clear that they were arrested SOLELY because of their T-shirts. Friggin' Fascist Bushies!

Nicole Rank for President!!!

Be Afwaid! Be Vewwy Afwaid!

Ridge Warns of 'Large-Scale Attack' Plan
There's no indication in the article that Gestapo Commandant Ridge has bothered to answer the questions raised by voting commission chairman DeForest B. Soaries about what will happen if a terror attack occurs very close to the election. Soaries suggested that there should be guidelines for whether the election would be postponed in such a case. I think he's right, and those guidelines need to be debated and decided on well before election day. That Ridge and Condiloser Rice hadn't responded to Soaries, and apparently haven't yet, suggests that the administration wants to have the flexibility to decide the matter in their own favor when the time comes. They kept the voting on the Medicare scam bill open for three hours, as opposed to the normal 15 minutes in the House, so they could twist enough arms and offer enough bribes and threats to change the vote. Who's to say they won't decide to keep the polls open another day or two if the early returns show a Kerry victory? They need guidelines, and they need to be public.

Those Democrats are Blocking Judges

Except they aren't. From yesterday's Ask the White House with White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales (spelling/grammar copied directly from the original):
hasan, from boulder writes:
why is the nomination of these judges so contraversal?

Alberto Gonzales
A great majority of the President's nominees are not controversial. To date, the Senate has confirmed 88% of the President's nominees. Even the few judges who are being filibustered have the support of a majority of Senators and would be confirmed if given an up-or-down vote. It is important to note that 99 percent of the President's nominees have been rated "well-qualified" or "qualified" by the American Bar Association, and based on a recent non-partisan study, this President's nominees are considered, based on a review of ABA ratings, the the most qualified of any recent Administration.
But earlier, Gonzales answered this question:
Neil, from Pennsylvania writes:
Are present federal judges having to do more because the federal government cannot agree on who to appoint and confirm for the many judicial vacancies across the country?

Alberto Gonzales
Right now, more than one-third (11) of the President's pending nominees (25) are waiting to fill vacancies that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has designated as "judicial emergencies." These "judicial emergencies" generally indicate that the vacancies are placing additional burdens on judges who are already carrying full case loads. The fact that these vacancies remain open can mean that cases are not resolved in a timely manner. A continuing judicial vacancy is a disservice to the American public.
So, Alberto, since the Senate has shown that it is willing to approve 88% of the boy-king's nominations, why not just nominate a few more like them to address these "emergencies" rather than picking right-wing idiotlogues and then complaining when the Democratic senators do their job?

At least there are a few people awake out there:
Thomas, from Charlotte, North Carolina writes:
Judge Gonzales, How many names has President Bush submitted in nomination for a seat on the federal bench, (all courts) since taking office and, of those, how many have been confirmed and how many are still pending?

Thank you, sir.

Alberto Gonzales
The President has nominated 225 men and women to the federal bench; 198 have been confirmed, and 25 remain pending.
Ron, from Columbus, Ohio writes:
I watched President Bush speak in North Carolina today during my lunch hour. He complained that the Senator Edwards (NC) was unfairly obstructing the President's placement of a Federal Judge from North Carlina. Why is this it considered "obstructing" when Senator Edwards does but isn't when Senator Helms did the same to Clinton nominees to Judgeships? Or, was Senator Helms also obstructing progress as well? I need to be educated on how this process works.Thank you,

Columbus, Ohio

Alberto Gonzales
President Bush has said that the judicial confirmation is broken and has been so for some time. It is unfair for any Senator to block a judicial nominee -- all deserve timely up-or-down votes. To fix the broken confirmation process, the President has proposed a plan for timely consideration of judicial nominees that would apply no matter who is President or which party controls Congress.
Chaz, from Tacoma WA writes:
Can you explain why President Bush continues to state that the democrats in the Senate are using "obstructionist tactics" to block judicial nominees when in fact only three nominees have been blocked, and Clinton by comparison had 20 nominees blocked?

Please note that the Senate has confirmed 198 judges... a rate of confirmation higher than Clinton experienced (with 377 judges confirmed during his 8 years in office).

Alberto Gonzales
As I noted, six qualifed appeals court nominees who have the support of a majority of Senators and would be confirmed if given a vote, have been filibustered. This is unprecedented in the history of the Senate. In this Presidency, more appeals court nominees have had to wait longer than a year for a hearing than in the last fifty years combined.
So what is "unprecedented" is the use of the filibuster, which is about the only thing protecting us from a total Republican trampling of the Constitution. They had the nerve to suggest that Max Cleland was buddies with Osama because he wasn't patriotic enough to lose a FOURTH limb in Vietnam, and then rigged the election in Georgia just to be sure that they gained control of the Senate. Now they want to make sure that they control every last court in America so that no one can successfully appeal the next stolen election, coming this November.

Iraqi Sovereignty and Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza

Both sick jokes.
At least eight killed in Gaza
Israeli tanks and helicopters in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire on Palestinian snipers in an intense early morning battle Thursday that killed at least eight Palestinians, including a 35-year-old woman, and injured one Israeli soldier, according to an Israeli military spokeswoman and Palestinian security officials.
At Least 3 U.S. Soldiers, 1 Iraqi Guardsman Killed
Insurgents fired mortar rounds at a headquarters used by U.S. troops and Iraqi forces in the city of Samarra on Thursday, destroying the building and killing at least three U.S. soldiers, the U.S. military said.

An Iraqi guardsman was also killed and a fourth U.S. soldier was unaccounted for. Twenty other U.S. soldiers were wounded in the 10:30 a.m. attack, said Maj. Neal O'Brien, the spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division. U.S. troops secured the area around the collapsed building.

American soldiers responded to the attack 25 minutes later, after radar determined where the mortar rounds were fired from. Soldiers counter-fired four 120 mm mortars in response.
(emphasis added)

Occupations suck. Always have, always will. The more powerful occupiers always claim that there are just a few "trouble makers," but no matter how how many they kill or torture there are always more. The brutal tactics of the occupiers guarantee it. The occupiers insist that they can't back down, that losing is not an option, until finally a few years and hundreds of thousands of deaths later the people back home get so sick of it that they finally back down and "lose," and everyone is finally better off.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

On the Road Again

Willie Nelson is alright! First he endorses Dennis Kucinich for president

and now he's driving a Mercedes powered by biodiesel!

Willie came out with a song several months ago which was a big hit at Kucinich gatherings: Whatever Happened to peace on Earth?
There's so many things going on in the world
Babies dying
Mothers crying
How much oil is one human life worth
And what ever happened to peace on earth

Hell they won't lie to me
Not on my own damn TV
But how much is a liar's word worth
And whatever happened to peace on earth

So I guess it's just
Do unto others before they do it to you
Let's just kill em' all and let God sort em' out
Is this what God wants us to do

(Repeat Bridge)
And the bewildered herd is still believing
Everything we've been told from our birth
Hell they won't lie to me
Not on my own damn TV
But how much is a liar's word worth
And whatever happened to peace on earth

Now you probably won't hear this on your radio
Probably not on your local TV
But if there's a time, and if you're ever so inclined
You can always hear it from me
How much is one picker's word worth
And whatever happened to peace on earth

But don't confuse caring for weakness
You can't put that label on me
The truth is my weapon of mass protection
And I believe truth sets you free

And the bewildered herd is still believing
Everything we've been told from our birth
Hell they won't lie to me
Not on my own damn TV
But how much is a liar's word worth
And whatever happened to peace on earth
I'm afraid it got Bushwhacked and Kerry'd away, Willie.

For what it's worth, other celebrities using biodiesel include Bonnie Raitt, Woody Harrelson, Dennis Weaver, Daryl Hannah, and the Indigo Girls.

Passing It On

So much stuff going on, I can't come close to keeping track of it all. But I'll do a little derivative blogging here, relying on some of my favorite blogs to lead you to enlightenment on some stories that may not have made it to your news source:
  • Seven U.S. carrier groups heading for "exercises" near China this month. (Polizeros)
  • Thousands of eligible voters on Florida "felons" list (that's what gave aWol the election in 2000; Polizeros)
  • Tony "The Poodle" Blair is finally yapping about stuff he should have yapped about long ago. (You Will Anyway)
  • The Army has confirmed that the pulling down of the Saddam statue in Baghdad in April 2003 was entirely an Army psyops stunt. (You Will Anyway)
  • The Bushies have ordered Pakistan to capture a high-value al Qaeda target during the Democratic convention. (Josh Marshall)
  • Genocide in Sudan. (Bob Harris)

He has been for 3 1/2 years

And been a miserable failure at it:
When a questioner in Raleigh noted that Mr. Edwards had been described as charming and a "nimble campaigner" and asked Mr. Bush to compare the one-term senator to Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Bush snapped back: "Dick Cheney can be president. Next?"
-- NY Times

That the unelected knucklehead would even invite a comparison of qualifications just shows how really stupid he is. I've seen several bloggers drooling over an Edwards-Cheney debate; I'd love for them to arrange an Edwards-Bush debate. It would be a TKO in the first round.

It's about time!

Kenny Boy gets indicted!
Former Enron Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay has been indicted by a grand jury in Houston, a person close to the investigation told CNNfn Wednesday.

But the person said that the indictment remains under seal. An announcement could come Thursday. The Justice Department declined to comment.
Now we just need those indictments for Bush and Cheney, and we'll be on our way to taking the country back.

Children in Iraqi Prisons

According to reports on German TV. Sadly, No! has the details.

SUV-Driving Urban Warriors Are Winning

Soon planet Earth will be defeated. A good article from George Monbiot in London.
But perhaps there's more to it than ennui and insecurity. George Marshall, of the climate change network Rising Tide, suggests that the people who buy these cars in the face of both a developing global climate crisis and an impending global oil crisis are engaging in "reactive denial". By showing that it's possible to consume vast quantities of fossil fuel without an immediately discernable adverse effect, 4x4 drivers prove to themselves that there cannot be a problem.

If this is the case, then the only sensible response is to demonstrate that there are immediately discernable adverse effects, by stinging these people with a vast tax bill, or simply by banning their anti-social behavior. It isn't hard to do: the government could set a minimum average mpg for all new cars: say 30 to begin with, rising by a couple every year. This would shut the big 4x4s out of the market immediately (there could be a temporary exemption for farmers).

The alternative is to do as the government is doing now: leave the world to be destroyed, in the name of that marvelous excuse for an absence of leadership: freedom of choice. There's a simple and cost-effective means for Tony Blair to prove that he's serious about climate change: drive these dangerous baubles off the road.
(With apologies to my one (small) SUV-driving reader who actually needs the thing for her work.)


From CNN, in an article talking about Iraq's new emergency powers law (martial law):
U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Tuesday that the Energy and Defense departments have removed from Iraq radiological and nuclear materials that could potentially be used in weapons. In the operation, Department of Energy teams packaged 1.77 metric tons of low-enriched uranium and roughly 1,000 highly radioactive sources from a former Iraq nuclear research facility.
Now they're in the hands of the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons against human targets. The world is a safer place?

Putting a Price on Canadians

From the Washington Post:
Carlson ruled that Schmidt "flagrantly" disregarded a direct order to hold his fire, displayed a lack of flight discipline and ignored the rules of engagement.

"Your actions indicate that you used your self-defense declaration as a pretext to strike a target, which you rashly decided was an enemy firing position, and about which you had exhausted your patience in waiting for clearance from the Combined Air Operations Center to engage," Carlson wrote. "You used the inherent right of self-defense as an excuse to wage your own war."
So, according to the commander of the Eighth Air Force (Carlson), Major Schmidt waged his own war, killing four Canadians and wounding eight. His punishment? A fine of $5,672, or $1418 per Canadian life. Or maybe it was $1000 per life, with $209 for each of the wounded? No jail time. Is it any wonder that Bush had trouble getting participants for his "coalition of the willing" when our own military is allowed to kill allied soldiers basically with impugnity?

There were other issues involved in this April 2002 terrorist attack on Canadians in Afghanistan. Schmidt and other pilots were flying long missions, and were popping amphetamines under orders. Not to mention the sheer pointlessness of having deadly jets flying around-the-clock missions over the poorest country in the world, just looking to shoot or be shot at. Schmidt is clearly being made a bargain-basement scapegoat for an entire rotten policy. But that the only punishments being administered for four dead and eight wounded Canadians is a $5672 fine will surely be seen as a travesty in Canada.

Chalmers Johnson, in his book Blowback, describes several incidents where the U.S. military has kept its personnel from receiving any serious discipline for very serious crimes. Marine pilots killed 20 Italians by flying too low and slicing through a cable supporting a gondola at a ski resort. Soldiers raped a 12-year-old girl in Okinawa. And others (I don't have the book in my hand anymore!). And people wonder why they hate us.

If Bush ever read anything...

Yeah, but he actually did stuff!

From John Deering.

Slick vs. Dick

From Daryl Cagle.

July in a Nutshell

The month starts out with millions of Americans seeing Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911," causing them to think about the real reasons for the "war on terror" and the war in Iraq. They'll be discussing it, searching the web, reading books and magazines, and asking questions. Michael Moore told America to wake up, and it has.

The month will end with John Kerry's acceptance speech in Boston. He'll tell America that the "war on terror" is our number one priority. He will tell America that it was not wrong that Lila Lipscomb's son was sent to Iraq, only that even more sons and daughters should have been sent, including 40,000 more Americans, as well as Renee Giroux' son from Marseille and Marta Kleinberg's daughter from Munich. While he'll nip at the tactics, he will basically affirm everything that George Bush has been saying and refute what Michael Moore has said. He'll in effect tell America to go back to sleep, and his speech will surely help them to do so.

Impeach in February! No matter who "wins."

The Veep from the Deep is a Liar

The 9/11 Commission says so, more or less. Hey Dick! You know what to do!

Quote du Jour

"I wonder how long it will be before America learns that judging Islam by the actions of terrorists is like judging Christianity on the basis of Abu Ghraib." -- Bob Harris at This Modern World.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Kerry is a Sleazebag

I try to like the guy, reconcile myself to him being our next president, an improvement over the current usurper. But then he goes attacking Venezuela's president just to curry favor with a few slimy rich Cubans in Miami:
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is sharpening his criticism of Hugo Chavez, suggesting the Venezuelan president risks becoming an "outlaw" if he doesn't ensure that next month's recall referendum on his presidency is conducted fairly.

The comments come as Kerry attempts to portray himself as "deeply involved" with Latin America, at the same time accusing the White House of failing to promote democratic reform in Venezuela and elsewhere.

Strategists have suggested the Chavez critique can help Kerry curry support among Cuban-American voters in Florida, who view Chavez as an ally of Fidel Castro. Democrats believe they have an opportunity this year to peel off some reliably Republican Cuban-American voters incensed by the president's recent crackdown on travel and aid to Cuba.

In a televised interview that will air Wednesday in 19 Latin America countries, Kerry called the upcoming referendum in Venezuela "a real challenge to the entire hemisphere" and said that "as president," he would "work with the international community to bring pressure in the interest of democracy.

"Global transparency, accountability of government, democracy, I think is critical everywhere, but particularly to our hemisphere," Kerry said in the interview with Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer for the TV program Oppenheimer Presenta. "If Chavez does not respect that process, then he makes himself an outlaw with respect to those values and those interests."
It's pretty clear by now that the only way that Chavez can prove his commitment to democracy to the likes of Kerry and Bush is by losing the August referendum, which he is currently favored to win. And don't forget that Kerry was one of the 100 non-black senators who refused to support a challenge to the disenfranchisement of thousands of black voters in Florida in 2000 (as shown in F-911). He's the one who voted for giving the usurper the power to go to war, a power which the Constitution says should remain in the hands of Congress, and he did so against the wishes of a majority of his constituents. He's the one who shamelessly accepted the manipulations of the media which made him the Democratic nominee--ignore Kucinich, belittle Edwards, lynch Dean ("Yeah!!!!"). Chavez has empowered millions who felt powerless just ten years ago. Kerry is doing the exact opposite, yet he has the chutzpah to accuse Chavez of being undemocratic.

What a horrible, horrible choice. At this point, I believe that Kerry would promise to nominate John Ashcroft to the Supreme Court if his pollsters told him it would gain him a few percentage points in some swing states. The man has no discernible principles that he wouldn't sell out for a few votes.

That should be interesting...

From Time's article on Fahrenheit 911:
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which books films to be shown on military bases around the world, has contacted Fahrenheit's distributor to book the film.

Michael Moore's Time Has Come

Meanwhile, in the Sovereign Nation of Iraq...

Violence continues to be perpetrated by and on the "guest" military who seem to be living and buzzing about all over the place, despite not "occupying" it. Three more Marines were killed today, and a car bomb in Khalis killed 13 people attending the wake of two people killed there yesterday.

And yesterday,
U.S.-led coalition forces, who have been targeting al-Zarqawi, launched an air strike in the restive city of Fallujah on a suspected safe house used by his followers. The attack reportedly killed 15 people, a dozen of them children, witnesses said.
Yasser Abed, 17, said 15 members of his family, including 12 children, were killed in the air strike. Abed, his father and a brother were out of the house at the time of the attack, he said. Hospital officials said at least 10 people were killed. Previous U.S. air strikes in Fallujah have killed dozens.

Sorrows of Empire

Good interview with Chalmers Johnson from LA Weekly.
By an American empire I mean 725 military bases in 138 foreign countries circling the globe from Greenland to Asia, from Japan to Latin America. This is a sort of base world — a secret, enclosed, separate world where our half-million troops, contractors and spies live quite comfortably around the world. I think that’s an empire. Granted, the unit of European imperialism was the colony. The unit of American imperialism is the military base.

These American bases are an outgrowth of U.S. containment policy from the Cold War. What’s their role now? Are they just pork? Or are they there to defend U.S. investment?

What they don’t do is defend U.S. security. They just grew, whether or not they had or have strategic value. We have 101 bases today in Korea even though the war has been over for 50 years. Once created, the military is endlessly creative in finding new functions for them, long after their real value has evaporated. This base world becomes part of the vested interest we associate not with security but with militarism, the danger of the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned against.

The Party's Over

A few quotes from the book I'm reading: The Party's Over, by Richard Heinberg. (Heinberg was one of the speakers at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair that I attended a couple of weeks ago.)

From the introduction:
The [retired and independent] petroleum geologists have nothing but contempt for economists who, by reducing all resources to dollar prices, effectively obscure real and important physical distinctions. According to the petroleum geologists, this is arrant and dangerous nonsense. Petroleum will run out. Moreover, it will do so much sooner than the economists assume--and substitutes will not be easy to find. The environmentalists, who for the most part accept economists' estimates of petroleum reserves, are, according to the geologists, both right and wrong: we should indeed be switching to renewable alternatives, but because the renewables cannot fully replicate the energy characteristics of fossil fuels and because decades will be required for their full development, a Golden Age of plentiful energy from renewable sources is simply not in the cards. Society must engage in a crash program of truly radical conservation if we are to avoid economic and humanitarian catastrophe as industrialism comes to its inevitable end.
Quoting some quotes from later in the book:
Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. -- Kenneth Boulding (ca. 1980)

If we consume the world until there's no more to consume, then there's going to come a day, sure as hell, when our children or their children or their children's children are going to look back on us--on you and me--and say to themselves, "My God, what kind of monsters were these people?" -- Daniel Quinn (2000)

We need an energy bill that encourages consumption. -- George W. Bush (2002)
The gist of Heinberg's book (and talk) is that the world is very near, or possibly already at, the limit of its ability to produce oil. The easy oil is gone, and what is left will be harder to find and more expensive to drill. The average amount of energy needed to extract a barrel of oil from the ground has been steadily increasing for a century, and will eventually exceed the amount of energy contained in that barrel. As Heinberg points out, oil ceases to be an energy source at that point. Another major point that Heinberg makes is that oil is about as close to a perfect fuel as we'll ever have--high energy density, easy to transport, relatively safe and clean (compared to coal and nuclear, for example). And while coal helped to get the industrial revolution started, the massive networks of industry and transportation that circle the globe today were only possible because of the cheap and easy availability of oil. Once oil has peaked, those networks will inevitably have to slow down or shut down. How this is done should be the key question of our time, not some "war on terror" or how to "jump-start" our economy.

One-Party State

Today, we face three great challenges above all others — first, to win the global war against terror; second, to stop the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; and third, to promote democracy and freedom around the world, starting with a peaceful and stable Iraq.
Draft of the Democratic Party platform.

I'm sorry. I agree that George W. Bush's methods suck. But his goals and values are the real problem. And the Dumbocrats are parroting those goals and values almost verbatim. The "global war against terror" is a corporate Republican creation to keep the arms sales up, the people down, and the oil flowing. That the "opposition" party is unwilling to challenge this Orwellian propaganda is disgusting.

And Eli at Left I on the News remarks:
No, the "great challenges" we face above all others are to create a world where people, including Americans, have health care, water, food, housing, jobs, and peace.
the platform emphasizes that Democrats will not abandon Baghdad.

Having "gone to war, we cannot afford to fail at peace," it says. "We cannot allow a failed state in Iraq that inevitably would become a haven for terrorists and a destabilizing force in the Middle East."
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. You don't fix a mistake (or a crime, to be more accurate) by continuing to make it. You apologize and get the Cheney out of Dodge as fast as you can. Every indication is that we are failing miserably at peace, because we are continuing to fight a war. Continuing to fight that war is what we cannot afford.

The Least-Worst Choice

I had a feeling, supported by all the press reports, that John Kerry wouldn't choose an actual anti-war VP candidate to balance that absurd part of his platform. Kucinich, of course not. Kerry, in conjunction with mainstream Democrats and with the help of all major media did everything they could to make sure that Dennis' messages on peace, health care, and fair trade were completely ignored. Even more conventional Democrats who opposed the war--Dean, Graham, Clark--weren't given much of a chance. Can't have anyone out there campaigning who was right on the most important issue of the campaign when Kerry was (and is) wrong.

Given that Kerry was going to choose a pro-war candidate, I must say I'm thrilled with his choice of John Edwards. Of all the candidates in the debates, Edwards generally came across as the most impressive--especially intelligent and nice. He actually answered some questions. He also seems to actually understand the endless corporate search for cheap labor and why it's necessary to stop it. And even Kucinich likes Edwards, even though they disagree on some very important issues.

Edwards also, pretty obviously to me, gives Kerry the best chance to win. People will flock to hear him speak, while they'd be running away from having to listen to Dick Gephardt. And if Kerry wins, this automatically puts Edwards at the head of the list for 2012, where his charm will give him a huge head start over Jeb or Frist or whatever scumbag what's left of the Repuglican party tries to run then (assuming the Dems can fend off four more years of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh etc.).

Now if the two Johns could just trade places, I could almost suppress my disgust with the Democratic platform and support them. (Yeah, I'll probably end up voting for them, but...yecch!)

Monday, July 05, 2004


Bombs away. The U.S. Air Force celebrates Iraqi sovereignty by once again bombing the crap out of a house in Fallujah, killing as many as fifteen. Zarqawi almost certainly wasn't there, since he's probably dead already and if he isn't he knows that "safe" houses in Fallujah aren't safe. Even if they did kill him, they wouldn't say so, because then they'd have to go to all the trouble of making up another excuse for bombing the crap out of Fallujah.

Karpinski Points Finger at Rumsfeld and Israel

Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, recently suspended from her duties as commanding officer of the 800th MP Brigade due to the Abu Ghraib atrocities, says that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld explicitly authorized several harsh torture methods for use at Abu Ghraib. She also says that she met an Israeli who was involved in interrogating prisoners, something Israel denies.

Since Karpinski apparently had no clue as to what the soldiers in her command were doing (or worse, that she did and didn't stop it), and is now being disciplined, it seems prudent to take what she says now as potentially self-serving and not necessarily true. However, nothing that I know about Rummy suggests that he wouldn't give such orders. I can also easily imagine Bush suggesting at a cabinet meeting that maybe it'd be a good idea to use Israelis to interrogate prisoners, with none of the sycophants in his cabinet pointing out the many reasons why it wasn't a good idea.

Browser Switch

I've started using the Mozilla web browser instead of Microsoft's Internet Explorer due to still more security concerns. Mozilla is an easy and free download, and includes some neat features like pop-up blockers.


From Doonesbury.

Weapon of Mass Embarrassment

Let's see. There was the fireman, the policeman, the Indian chief, and...the Secretary of State?

Colin Powell wasn't embarrassed telling lie after lie to the UN in February 2003, even though he had said two years earlier about Saddam: "He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction." (I was thrilled to see that quote used in F-911.) He wasn't embarrassed back in Vietnam when he was covering up My Lai. He wasn't embarrassed talking to Kurdish survivors of the 1988 gassing of Halabja last fall, even though he had been Reagan's national security advisor at the time, AND they knew that Saddam was using chemical weapons, AND they were supporting him. He wasn't embarrassed for saying "It's really not a number I'm terribly interested in" when he was asked how many Iraqis had been killed in the 1991 Gulf War. So why should we be surprised to find that he's not embarrassed to dress up like a member of the Village People and commit war crimes against music and dance?

And if you've got a really strong stomach, here's the video.

William Safire

The only person in the world more convinced of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection than Dick Cheney is NY Times columnist and former Nixon speechwriter William Safire. He has grasped at every straw and empty warhead in Iraq as evidence that Saddam had WMD's. But when it comes to civil liberties, he's got it right. He just wrote another good column on the subject, trying to remind conservatives that libertarianism used to be a core element of their philosophy, not Aschroftian fearmongering.

I just wish Safire would make the connection that Orwell made--that war and suspension of civil liberties almost always go together. If you truly believe in individual rights, you should oppose wars, especially optional ones.

Safire even seems to concede some ground on his Saddam-al Qaeda and WMD stubbornness with his concluding sentence: "It's uncool to say I told you so, but I have not had many chances to say it lately."

I think there are a lot of libertarian types out there, and any sober reflection of what Bush and Ashcroft have done in the past years should convince them that this administration is not for them. Just keeping the second amendment shouldn't be enough for a true libertarian--she's going to want the whole Bill of Rights.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Fahrenheit 911

I finally saw the movie tonight! Excellent work by Michael Moore. I occasionally wonder what I could best say to someone to convince them of the crimes of Bush, and now I think I know: "Go see Fahrenheit 911!" I was sitting with some fairly knowledgeable people, but many of them seemed surprised by many of the disclosures in the film. I think the one thing I hadn't heard before, except maybe in some of the reviews of the movie, was the part about the joint session of Congress to contest the 2000 election. One after another the black members of the House came to ask for an investigation, and Al Gore, who was presiding in the session, would ask them if they had a member of the Senate supporting the call. Not one of the 100 senators--not Ted Kennedy, not Paul Wellstone, certainly not John Kerry--would stand up for the voting rights of African-Americans in Florida.

I saw the film at a special showing at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor sponsored by the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace. Lila Lipscomb, the woman from Flint whose son was killed in Iraq and was featured in the movie, was the special guest. She answered questions for about half an hour after the film ended. Since she is a faithful Christian, one of the questions, my favorite, was:
Q: How can we convince conservative Christians not to vote for Bush?

Lila: Tell them to read their bible.
It's something I've wondered about for a while.

In any case, get everyone you know to see the movie. As long as Michael Moore waits until after the election to do his Kerry movie, Bush shouldn't have a chance!

Independence Day

Throwing off the bonds of repression. Much of this applies directly to the US today; other parts make more sense in terms of the oppressed people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and others who are subjugated or threatened to be subjugated by the American empire. I have emphasized certain passages, and added a few parenthetical comments.
The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. (Kyoto global warming protocols, International Criminal Court)

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. (Welcome to the District of Columbia!)

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. (Voting on the Medicare Bill started at 3 AM and continued until 6 AM)

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. (Elections in Afghanistan and Iraq have been postponed, and who knows what may happen here in November)

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.(Ladies and Gentlemen! The Department of Homeland Security! And TIPS! And CAPPS II! And all the ones we won't hear about until they arrest us!)

(I think that the people of Afghanistan and Iraq could relate to the following nine paragraphs)
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: (If they are tried at all. George II has extended this protection to contractors as well.)

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:(Sanctions, followed by no-bid contracts.)

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:(Welcome to Guantanamo Bay. Checkout time is never.)

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. (That's what regime change is all about.)

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. (Let's get NATO involved!)

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. (The new Iraqi army!)

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. (Bring 'em on!)

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Ask the White House

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage must be on crack. From today's Ask the White House (emphasis added in all cases):
Wendy, from Riverside, CA writes:
Mr. Richard Armitage,After all your international experiences - are you able to justify the blatant disregard of U.S. foreign policy for the majority world's right to self-determination? Do you not detect that "terrorism" is the new "communism" - euphemisms to excuse the growing overtly imperialistic tendancies of the U.S. government?

And if you are on the side of justice - what can you do to change it?

Richard Armitage
Thank you for your comment. No nation in the world ever gives up their right of self defense. This President was not going to wait while a storm gathered and attacked us considering the horror our citizens felt after 9/11.

Terrorism is not the new communism, it is worse.

Regarding imperialism, it is interesting to note -- as far as I know -- in all of the military activities that the United States has taken part in, in over a century, we never asked for more land of any country than the six feet necessary to bury our dead. Period.

Without even looking it up, I can name a bunch of land that the U.S. has grabbed and kept for lengthy periods of time, many of which continue, and which are not exclusively or even mostly cemeteries: Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany. Clark and Subic bases in the Philippines (held from WWII until 1992). The whole Philippines (approx. 1900 until 1941). Guantanamo Bay. Some fifty bases on Okinawa, plus others in Japan. Bagram base in Afghanistan. The Green Zone in Iraq, plus several bases currently occupied or under construction. Bases in Panama and Haiti. And many more military installations. Not to mention the oil rigs, mines, plantations and thousands of other "private" American imperial outposts around the world that all of those military bases protect.

And terrorism worse than communism? That's all in how you define them, I suppose; I'd probably feel safer going to a private meeting with Fidel Castro than with Osama bin Laden. And terrible things were done by supposed communists like Stalin and Mao, each of whom killed millions. But the U.S. fought two bloody wars in Asia, killing millions and losing over 100,000 dead, and sponsored the killing of hundreds of thousands more people all around the world in the name of fighting communism, and Armitage thinks terrorism is worse? That is only conceivable if he includes those same American-sponsored killings in Latin America and Burma and Palestine and East Timor and Africa and Haiti and so on as terrorism, and you know that Armitage doesn't. His definition of terrorism is probably mostly Muslim/Arab attacks on the U.S. and Israel, along with maybe a few Chechyns and Japanese and Colombians. With that restricted definition, he'd be hard pressed to come up with total fatalities from terrorism which would match a bad month in Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's China, or in Guatemala.

And there's this: "This President was not going to wait while a storm gathered." Of course not. He might have had to wait until long after he'd been voted out of office, so he went out and created the storm himself.

And a later question:
Mark, from Santa Fe writes:
So many current and former BushReaganCheney adminstration staff profit from war. What do you think of that? Isn't it in their interest to promote war instead of peace?

Richard Armitage
I don't know how they can profit from war. If you are speaking about investments, stock ownings in previous companies when they were in the private sector, most of us have to give up our stocks before we enter government. We have to sell them, so there is no way we can profit

No one profits from war except those who are free from subjugation.
Does he actually believe that? Or did he time his crack just for that question? At least it's evident that the natives are starting to get restless. Here are two more questions:
Bruce, from Connecticut writes:
Why do the people of Iraq have so much hate for the Americans and nothing is said about Saddam Hussain? Are we wrong about how terrible he treated them?

Richard Armitage
I think the people of Iraq had no patience for occupiers. And although initially we were greeted as liberators, we rapidly became seen as occupiers. That situation changed three days ago when the government of the new Iraq took sovereign control of their country.

It is very difficult to imagine that the Iraqi people will ever again in large numbers express an affection for Saddam Hussein. He treated them terribly, at least those who were not in a favored ethnic group.

Don, from Denver writes:
Why did you, and the rest of the administration, lie to the American people about the reasons for the war with Iraq? Do you, or any of your close friends, have children serving in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Richard Armitage
I have children, not serving in the military. Many of my friends do. I have served in Vietnam for six years. We went to war with Iraq, first of all, as a matter of self defense. Second of all to make a region safer and more stable. Third of all, to make sure that a man who had a WMD program, who had the expertise to develop them, and who had money would not own those weapons. Not now or not ever.

Why Trust Kerry?

I know I'm sounding like a broken record (or for those of you between 20 and 30 who don't know what a broken record sounds like, I'm sounding like a skipping CD. For those under 20 whose CD players have always had skip protection? I'm sounding like Scott McLellan.) I've heard all the arguments ad nauseum, the gist of which is this: Only two people have a chance to be president, and George W. Bush is one of them. So why am I not fawning over John Kerry like so many others?

Well, consider October 2002. Bush has been hinting at going to war with Iraq for a year, and actively selling it for a month. He had presented practically no evidence, and what he did present seemed shaky at the time (and has since been shown to be worse than that). Knowledgeable people like Scott Ritter were telling anyone who would listen that whatever WMD's Iraq might possess were in no way a threat to America. John Kerry was the junior senator from alledgedly the most liberal state in the union. His constituents opposed going to war with Iraq. Kerry is definitely smart enough, and had access to enough inside information, to know that Iraq was not a serious threat. He had fought in a war, and knew firsthand how horrible all wars are. He certainly had ample evidence of the questionable decision-making abilities of Bush.

Here in Michigan, probably a less liberal state than Massachusetts, two senators generally thought to be less liberal than Kerry (I think they are anyway; Stabenow for sure), both voted against giving the reckless cowboy from Texas authorization to start a needless war. But Kerry voted for that authorization. I have never understood his rationalizations for that vote, and I believe that they are simply coverups for this: he thought that supporting the war gave him a better chance of becoming president. In other words, just like Bush, he was willing to trade American and Iraqi lives in order to get elected. It was a crass, immoral decision. And why anyone thinks he would be less crass and immoral in picking Supreme Court justices or anything else than he was in his Iraq vote is beyond me. (And if that's not enough, consider his vote on the Patriot Act.)

Being better than Bush is not just lowering the bar; it's not having a bar at all.

Disappointment of the Week

There were rumors flying last week that there might be big news this week out of the Valerie Plame investigation, including possibly indictments of high-ranking White House scum (but I repeat myself). The foul moods of Cheney in the Senate chamber and Bush with Irish TV were seen as possible confirmations of this. But, so far, nothing. Then again, this is the Friday before a long weekend. It would be standard operating procedure for the news to be release around 6 pm tonight, perhaps coupled with some terribly important new development in the Peterson or Bryant trials. Remember when Harvey Pitt was finally fired? About 7 pm on election night.

Sea Change

Cyndy links to a BBC article about the shrinking Aral Sea and the devastating effects it is having on the people of Uzbekistan, all to serve the demands of the global economy for cotton.

We asked him whether it was wise to continue growing cotton, given the way it soaks up all the water that used to flow into the Aral Sea and the new evidence of health risks from the chemicals sprayed on the crops.

His response was defiant: cotton is Uzbekistan's biggest export earner.

Mr Hamraev said that stopping the growing of cotton would make public health worse and leave stomachs empty. "There's no alternative," he said.

So the cotton fields are busy, the sea shrinks and the hospitals struggle to cope.

Rusting boat grounded kilometers from the sea

Okay, they're getting the list

From CNN:
A state court judge in Florida ordered Thursday that the board of elections immediately release a list of nearly 50,000 suspected felons to CNN and other news organizations that last month sued the state for access to copies of the list.

The list is used to determine who will be eligible to vote in November's presidential election in the state.
So if we now go ask all of those people who were on the list "in error" (voting while black) who they would have voted for in 2000, and more than 537 more say Gore than Bush, can we get our remedial inauguration on Sunday? Now THAT would be a way to celebrate the Fourth of July!

Planning for November

I've seen several lefty bloggers and listserv e-mailers react with knowing horror to this story:
The government needs to establish guidelines for canceling or rescheduling elections if terrorists strike the United States again, says the chairman of a new federal voting commission.

Such guidelines do not currently exist, said DeForest B. Soaries, head of the voting panel.
Given what happened in 2000, concerns that Bush and the Repugs might use a terrorist attack as an excuse to cancel the election are well founded, and the lefties I noted before saw this story as a scary step in that direction. But I would suggest that Mr. Soaries is doing us a great service by bringing it up now, forcing the Bushies to publicly address the issue. This part of the article I hadn't seen quoted much:
Soaries was appointed to the federal Election Assistance Commission last year by President Bush. Soaries said he wrote to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in April to raise the concerns.

"I am still awaiting their response," he said. "Thus far we have not begun any meaningful discussion." Spokesmen for Rice and Ridge did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Soaries noted that Sept. 11, 2001, fell on Election Day in New York City -- and he said officials there had no rules to follow in making the decision to cancel the election and hold it later.

Events in Spain, where a terrorist attack shortly before the March election possibly influenced its outcome, show the need for a process to deal with terrorists threatening or interrupting the Nov. 2 presidential election in America, he said.

"Look at the possibilities. If the federal government were to cancel an election or suspend an election, it has tremendous political implications. If the federal government chose not to suspend an election it has political implications," said Soaries, a Republican and former secretary of state of New Jersey.

"Who makes the call, under what circumstances is the call made, what are the constitutional implications?" he said. "I think we have to err on the side of transparency to protect the voting rights of the country."
I'd say he's exactly right. By bringing up the possibility now, I think that not only has he lessened the possibility of a terrorist attack being used to steal the election, he may even have lowered the probability of the attack itself. Let's have our "Fahrenheit 9/11" on the stolen election of 2004 BEFORE it happens.

A later story seems to reinforce the idea that Soaries is okay, despite being a Republican Bush appointee. He appears to be taking a serious look at the reliability and integrity of electronic voting machines.

The slightly less depressed economy

Was supposedly giving aWol a boost. Looks like even that isn't working out so well. At least he's still got his core platform planks intact: lies, lies, and more lies.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Quote du Jour

I remember after the attacks of September 11, as mayor of the city, I was very, very worried about al-Qaida and still am. But I'm even more worried about the actions and inactions of the Bush administration.
-- Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Monday. The right-wing attack machine is of course after O'Malley:
Franklin's appearance on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor resulted in about three minutes of O'Malley bashing with host Bill O'Reilly.

"So he is more worried about Bush than al-Qaida. I haven't seen Bush behead anybody lately, but maybe I missed that. Is this guy [O'Malley] just insane or what?" O'Reilly said on the show.

"He's a bit nutty. This is our mayor," Franklin replied.
For the record, Bill, there was an Iraqi child beheaded in the attack on a wedding party back in May. Of the probably tens of thousands of Iraqis killed in Bush's illegal invasion, that girl was probably not the only one beheaded. And Bush deserves at least some of the blame for the beheadings of Nicholas Berg and the Korean translator, since they probably would not have been there without the invasion, and might have been better protected if Bush hadn't botched the occupation. But then, O'Reilly misses a lot.


Scottie Gets Zinged!

From yesterday's White House press briefing:
Q Is it your policy to ask for questions in advance?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, it is not my policy. In fact, if reporters would give me their questions, this press briefing would be a whole lot easier, I'm sure. But that's not my policy.

Q Sometimes you might answer them. (Laughter.)
I wish they'd list the names of the reporters, instead of just "Q," so we'd have an easier time explaining the bodies found floating in the Potomac.

Go MoDo!

I'm not a big fan of NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd. I get the feeling that when confronted with the choice between saying something meaningful and saying something cutesy, she'll usually choose cutesy. (That I may do the same is irrelevant to this discussion.) But I think she was spot on with today's column, which concludes:
Mr. Bremer put the best foot forward. Noting that the ex-proconsul was standing on the White House lawn still in the boots he wore with suits in Iraq, Charlie Gibson of ABC asked the escapee how he felt.

"Well, it's like having a rather large weight lifted off my shoulders," he said. "I'm delighted to be back."

If only our soldiers could say the same.

Lies and the Lying Liar Who Tells Them

The Poor Man wasn't pleased that NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof was whining yesterday about people calling Bush a liar. Poor Man reminds Kristof and us that Bush is a liar, and it's a lie to say he isn't:
He has lied about his time in the National Guard, and lied about his criminal history. He lied about his relationship with Ken Lay, he lied about who would benefit from his tax cuts, and he lied about stem cells. He lied about his visit to Bob Jones University, he lied about why he wouldn't meet with Log Cabin Republicans, and he lied about reading the EPA report on global warming. He lied about blaming the Clinton administration for the second intifada, he lies constantly about how he pays no attention to polls, he lied about how he loves New York, and he lied about moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. He lied about finding WMD in Iraq, he lied about making his decision to go to war, he lied about the CIA's dismissal of the yellowcake rumors, and he lied about the IAEA's assessment of Iraq's nuclear program. He lied about funding the fight against AIDS in Africa, he lied about when the recession started, and he lied about seeing the first plane hit the WTC. He lied about supporting the Patient Protection Act, and he lied about his deficit spending, and now my wrist hurts.

Civics 911

From Boondocks.

Did they actually listen to someone?

Bob Harris posted this on Tom Tomorrow's web site, and it seems pretty interesting. In the June 25 editon of Ask the White House, featuring the Wolfman, there was the following exchange (typos and spelling errors included):
jon, from huntington beach, ca writes:
I realize that Iraq is in control of a great deal of the government but why dont you catch the insurgents off-guard and turn full control over to Iraq now. What difference does a few days make? I have the feeling that they are planning some big attack on the 30th. Remove the significance of June 30th.

Let the Iraq deel with the insurgents starting right now.

Paul Wolfowitz
That’s an interesting idea. The terrorists work by surprising us and we need to think about what we can do to throw them off balance.
And, as we know, the little blue notebook of sovereignty was handed over on June 28 in a secret ceremony, removing the significance of June 30 (as if there were any significance to begin with). Condoloser Rice was scheduled to be on Ask the White House yesterday, but apparently June 30 lost all of its significance and they haven't posted the transcript of that session.

Some Perspective

This came in an e-mail on our local peace listserv:
From December 1987 through June 2004:
--Israelis have killed 3,429 Palestinian adults and 819 Palestinian children; "more than fifty percent of the Palestinians killed" by Israelis through 2003 were unarmed.
--Palestinians have killed 1,203 Israeli adults and 112 Israeli children.
--88.0% of all children killed have been Palestinians; 12.0% have been Israelis.
--In 2002, the worst year for the killing of children on both sides, Israelis killed 153 Palestinian children; Palestinians killed 37 Israeli children.
Source: Data from the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem
B'Tselem has the statistics broken down many ways. These numbers would probably come as a complete surprise to most Americans, since the suicide bombings always make big headlines on the front pages, while the shootings and missile strikes against Palestinians are hidden in the back pages, if they make the papers at all.