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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Some disassembly required

I checked the video. The transcript was correct--aWol actually said "It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations -- by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth."

Gee, someone was nice enough to give the idiot that word-of-the-day toilet paper, and when his big chance comes he not only blows it, but decides to lecture the press to further impress them with his ignorance.

It just is

Idiot-in-chief answers Amnesty International, from the White House web site's transcription of his news conference today:
THE PRESIDENT: I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd. It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that is -- promotes freedom around the world. When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd allegation.

In terms of the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees. It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations -- by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report. It just is.
So many Bushisms in two paragraphs! I guess my favorite for taking a quote slightly out of context, which is the only way to keep Bush from "disassemble"-ing (!), would be
The United States is a country that is -- promotes freedom around the world. When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd allegation.
Actually, two.

And I'm sure the world will be relieved to learn (probably falsely) that the Bushies have investigated every single complaint against the detainees! And "we've had thousands of people detained." How many of those have you accused of crimes, George? How many convicted? Even if Gitmo was the Paris Hilton (the hotel) with immaculate, climate-controlled cells and ornate arrows pointing towards Mecca on every floor and sparkling Korans carefully hand-delivered by each detainee's imam of choice--it is still a crime to grab people and take them to the other side of the world and hold them for three years without legal rights or representation. Even Bush thinks that it's wrong to throw people in jail without a trial--here's what he said today about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oil oligarch who was arrested in 2003 and sentenced today:
I expressed my concerns about the case to President Putin because, as I explained to him, here you're innocent until proven guilty, and it appeared to us, or at least people in my administration, that it looked like he had been judged guilty prior to having a fair trial. In other words, he was put in prison, and then was tried.
Two words, idiot--Jose Padilla.

I'm sure there's plenty of other outrages in aWol's press conference, but I have neither the time nor the stomach to look for more. It is already obvious to me that he's an evil idiot; it just is.

Veep from the Deep Emerges

Chris Floyd reviews Useless Dick's liefest on Larry King last night. Excerpt:
That's our Dick: lies, elisions, misdirection, false analogies -- the same stew he served up before the Iraq War, when he was the leading dispenser of iron certitude about the imminent threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. In fact, the Bush Regime has done us all a favor by unleashing Dick to bark and belch on the subject of American torture. For Cheney is a pole star by which we can all plot our course on the roiling sea of spin and propaganda: whatever he says -- anything, on any subject -- is 100 percent guaranteed to be a lie. If you want to know the truth, simply look to the opposite of Cheney's assertions. If he says Iraq has WMD -- it doesn't. If he says the Bush Regime is not engaged in wholesale torture -- it is.

From Mike Keefe.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Go Cheney yourself, Cheney

Just in this administration, we've liberated 50 million people from the Taliban in Afghanistan and from Saddam Hussein in Iraq, two terribly repressive regimes that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of their own people.
-- Dick "Dick" Cheney
The U.S. military nearly set off a sectarian crisis Monday by mistakenly arresting the leader of Iraq's top Sunni Muslim political party...
Few details were available on why the Americans arrested the Sunni leader, but it appeared to be related to the ongoing Sunni-led insurgency and fears of a broader sectarian conflict starting up.

The U.S. military acknowledged it had made a "mistake" by detaining Abdul-Hamid.

"Following the interview, it was determined that he was detained by mistake and should be released," the military said. "Coalition forces regret any inconvenience and acknowledge (Abdul-Hamid's) cooperation in resolving this matter."

Iraqi authorities suggested someone had planted "lies" against him in a bid to stir up "sectarian sedition."

Abdul-Hamid himself said U.S. forces questioned him about the "current situation," an apparent reference to the wave of attacks.

Following his release, Abdul-Hamid told reporters how "U.S. special forces" blew open the doors to his home "and dragged (his sons and guards) outside like sheep."

"They forced me to lay on the ground along with my sons and guards and one of the soldiers put his foot on my neck for 20 minutes," he told Al-Jazeera TV.

Soldiers later put him into a helicopter and flew him to an unknown location for more questioning, he said. He said he did not know the whereabouts of his sons and guards.

"At the time when the Americans say they are keen on real Sunni participation, they are now arresting the head of the only Sunni party that calls for a peaceful solution and have participated in the political process," said Iraqi Islamic Party Secretary-General Ayad al-Samarei.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, expressed "surprise and discontent" over the arrest.

"This way of dealing with such a distinguished political figure is unacceptable," he said.

When a foreign occupier arrests and humiliates your leading politicians at will, whatever you've got, it ain't freedom. Cheney's BS came in an interview with Larry King, in which our insane VP lied, lied, took a breath, and then lied some more.
"Guantanamo's been operated, I think, in a very sane and sound fashion by the U.S. military. ... I think these people have been well treated, treated humanely and decently," Cheney said.
If there's any justice anywhere in the world, Cheney will someday get to experience Gitmo hospitality for himself, and for the rest of his miserable life.

A friendly article about Hugo Chavez

From England's Guardian, of course.
The Chávez government, for its part, has forged ahead with various spectacular social projects, assisted by the huge jump in oil prices, from $10 to $50 a barrel over the past six years. Instead of gushing into the coffers of the already wealthy, the oil pipelines have been picked up and directed into the shanty towns, funding health, education and cheap food. Foreign leaders from Spain and Brazil, Chile and Cuba, have come on pilgrimage to Caracas to establish links with the man now perceived as the leader of new emerging forces in Latin America, with popularity ratings to match. This extensive external support has stymied the plans of the US government to rally the countries of Latin America against Venezuela. They are not listening, and Washington is left without a policy.

Chávez himself, a youthful former army colonel of 51, is now perceived in Latin America as the most unusual and original political figure to have emerged since Fidel Castro broke on to the scene nearly 50 years ago. With huge charm and charisma, he has an infinite capacity to relate to the poor and marginal population of the continent. A largely self-educated intellectual, the ideology of his Bolivarian revolution is based on the writings and actions of a handful of exemplary figures from the 19th century, most notably Simón Bolívar, the man who liberated most of South America from Spanish rule. Chávez offers a cultural as well as a political alternative to the prevailing US-inspired model that dominates Latin America.

So, what does his Bolivarian revolution consist of? He is friendly with Castro - indeed, they are close allies - yet he is no out-of-fashion state socialist. Capitalism is alive and well in Venezuela - and secure. There have been no illegal land seizures, no nationalizations of private companies. Chávez seeks to curb the excesses of what he terms "savage neo-liberalism", and he wants the state to play an intelligent and enabling role in the economy, but he has no desire to crush small businesses, as has happened in Cuba. International oil companies have fallen over themselves to provide fresh investment, even after the government increased the royalties that they have to pay. Venezuela remains a golden goose that cannot be ignored.

What is undoubtedly old fashioned about Chávez is his ability to talk about race and class, subjects once fashionable that have long been taboo, and to discuss them in the context of poverty. In much of Latin America, particularly in the countries of the Andes, the long-suppressed native peoples have begun to organize and make political demands for the first time since the 18th century, and Chávez is the first president in the continent to have picked up their banner and made it his own.
I can vouch for his charisma and the fervency of his supporters (and detractors). Low oil prices in the late 1990's made it possible for him to take power, and the high oil prices of 2005 have given him a great chance to succeed. Chavez seems to be up to the task, although it is a formidable one.

Those Whacky Neocons

From a recent speech to AIPAC, Israel's lobbying group in Washington which has apparently been spying on the US:
Any progress on the Roadmap for Peace must be based on real change on the ground, as evidenced by the establishment of an accountable, and reconstituted Palestinian security force that prevents terrorism, not promotes it.

Fortunately, Palestinian Authority President Abbas is no Yasir Arafat. He has condemned terrorism in Arabic, stating that it prolongs the day that the Palestinian goal of statehood can be achieved, and, at least as significant, stating that terrorism is immoral. He has begun to restructure the security services. All that is commendable.

But he has not removed Arafat's corrupt cronies from positions of power, nor has he moved to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. That is, I am sorry to say, cause for concern. President Abbas has said his goal is to establish the rule of law, but he has done nowhere near enough to realize that vision...
There are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is absolute nonsense. In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist.

The greatest threat to Israel's right to exist, with the prospect of devastating violence, now comes from Iran. For too long, leaders of both political parties in the United States have not done nearly enough to confront the Russians and the Chinese, who have supplied Iran as it has plowed ahead with its nuclear and missile technology.
The people of Israel long for peace and are willing to make the sacrifices to achieve it. We hope that peace and security come soon - and that this moment of opportunity is not lost. As Israel continues to take risks for peace, she will have no friend more steadfast that the United States.

In the words of Isaiah, we will make ourselves to Israel 'as hiding places from the winds and shelters from the tempests; as rivers of water in dry places; as shadows of a great rock in a weary land.'

The United States will stand with Israel now and forever. Now and forever.
So which neocon whack-job said all this Sharon's-giant-butt-kissing BS? John Bolton? Paul Wolfowitz?

Nope. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Tel Aviv).

If you think at least the Democrats have learned a lesson from Iraq and will be an opposition party when it comes to war with Iran, read those sentences about Iran again and weep.

If the AIPAC spying charges are true, Pelosi should have felt particularly at home at AIPAC. She herself is a mole. Liberals cheered when this supposedly liberal woman from California took over as minority leader in 2002. But the chads on that selection hadn't stopped hanging before she was selling out, vowing to support the president in advance for an illegal, unilateral invasion of Iraq, and then saluting the president "for the goal of removing weapons of mass destruction" when it was becoming clear that there weren't any WMD's to be found. Just last week, Pelosi refused to join fellow Californian Lynne Woolsey in trying to get aWol to make a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

Things have changed in recent months. Last year, we had no opposition parties. Now that the majority of Americans are opposed to the war in Iraq, we have TWO opposition parties, with both Repugs and Dumbos opposing the American public.

Unseen pilot visits unknown soldier

At the tomb of the soldier known but to God, the pilot known but to Jack Daniels shows up for a little PR.

The EU Constitution voted down in France

The vote was quite significant, and will have many ramifications over the next several years. Unfortunately, I'm not totally clear as to what they are. Therefore, I turn you over to WIIIAI, who knows more, and links to folks who may know even more than WIIIAI.

Shorter WIIIAI--failure of EU constitution in France is a good thing, even if it failed for bad reasons.

US and Britain increased bombing in 2002 to goad Saddam

From the London Sunday Times:
THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.

The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.
A Tiny Revolution has more.

As far as I can recall, Saddam didn't give them any satisfaction at all. He let the inspectors in, didn't launch any missiles at US bases in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. The only thing he didn't do was bring his WMD's out to a parking lot for all to see like Bush kept demanding. Of course, if he'd been able to do that and actually done it, Bush would have demanded that Saddam recite Hamlet backwards in Swedish while riding a unicycle and juggling three burning Hummers, with Bush all the while insisting that war is the last option.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, I hope that people will remember that they DID die in vain--the troops who died in Vietnam and Granada and Panama and Somalia and Iraq and Afghanistan and Haiti. They died because their "leaders" lied. Paradoxically, if people would remember that they died in vain, it would be the only way to make it so they didn't. But if we continue to support the lie that they died to protect our country or "freedom," we guarantee that many, many more will die in vain.

Remember THIS on Memorial Day: War sucks, and those who start wars are the worst criminals in the world.

Holey Crap!

Ahnuld created potholes in San Jose so he could fill them.

They don't belong to you, Scotty!

WIIIAI makes a good point:
The White House is determined to distance itself from any attempts at bipartisanship, refusing to hand documents over to the Senate which the D’s say bear on John Bolton’s fitness to serve as ambassador to the UN. Sez Scotty McClellan, “The Democrats who are clamoring for this have already voted against John Bolton. This is about partisan politics, not documents. They have the information they need.” What Scotty is forgetting is that the Senate is supposed to be a deliberative body, in which decisions arise out of open discussion and debate: the “clamoring” D’s may have made up their own minds, but they still have a perfectly legitimate need for information they can use to try to convince others to reconsider. That would be how it would work in a truly deliberative body where decisions weren’t based on party label, where congressional members of the president’s party are not expected to support his every decision mindlessly and automatically.
I guess since the White House prefers to make decisions based on inadequate information, they think everyone else should too.

Nonsense abounds

The most effective step you can take to cut oil dependence and decrease global warming.
That's from the envelope of a letter I received from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Fearful yet intrigued, I opened the envelope, hoping to see that they actually had found or were at least supporting a truly effective way to cut fuel consumption. Instead, my fears were confirmed. This is what it says in the letter:
You also probably know that the simplest, most cost-effective way to reduce our consumption of oil in the United States is to increase the fuel economy of motor vehicles.
(emphasis in original)

This sort of arrogant, "of course you know" presumption is just as annoying to me coming from supposedly lefty non-profits as it is coming from the Bush administration. I agree that improving fuel economy is a good thing, and that technologies exist to do it. That doesn't necessarily make it a simple task. Neither does blythely claiming that it is a cost-effective, much less the MOST cost-effective, way to reduce oil consumption make it so.

Improving fuel economy in the US auto fleet requires replacing millions of vehicles with new ones, a task that will use huge amounts of energy in manufacturing, distribution, and disposal of the older vehicles. Even getting to the point where this happens will require a change in the mind-set of the automakers, Congress, the misadministration, and millions of Americans. Possible? Certainly. Simple? Not on your life.

And cost-effective? Tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in retooling costs, and people buying new cars before their old ones have worn out?

I won't be so rash as to claim that I know what the simplest and most cost-effective way to reduce oil consumption is. But I can certainly suggest a way that is more cost-effective than what the Union of Concerned Scientists is suggesting--DRIVE LESS! It's very simple, saves you money, and saves oil. If you replace your car trips with bus or bike trips, you will be helping to provide the critical mass needed to make these modes of transportation attractive to many more people.

If you think that you've got any chance of getting this Congress to pass any positive legislation at all, after you get your head examined you should probably push for an increase in the gasoline tax instead. It probably has the same chance of passing as raising the CAFE standards (zero), but would be a better solution if somehow it did get passed.

Okay, enough picking on the nonsense of lefties. The pResident left lots of low-hanging nonsense fruit in his commencement address at the Naval Academy on Friday. For example:
When I spoke to the Class of 2001, none of us imagined that a few months later we would suffer a devastating surprise attack on our homeland, or that our nation would be plunged into a global war unlike any we had known before. Today, we face brutal and determined enemies -- men who celebrate murder, incite suicide, and thirst for absolute power. These enemies will not be stopped by negotiations, or concessions, or appeals to reason.
Of course they won't, because none of those things will ever be tried. And "none of us imagined?" Ever hear of John O'Neill, or Richard Clarke, or Chalmers Johnson? And the nation "would be plunged into a global war?" The 9/11 hijackers didn't do that, idiot--you did. And these sentences seem to be pretty conclusive evidence that W is still doing cocaine:
Thanks to the men and women of the United States military, our strategy is working -- we are winning the war on terror. Since September 11, 2001, we've removed brutal regimes in Kabul and Baghdad that supported and harbored terrorists. We helped launch Afghanistan and Iraq on the path to lasting freedom by liberating over 50 million people.
The best way to protect our citizens is to stay on the offensive. In the last few weeks, we've dealt the enemy a series of powerful blows. In Afghanistan, we brought to justice scores of terrorists and insurgents. In Pakistan, one of Osama Bin Laden's senior terrorist leaders, a man named al-Libbi, was brought to justice. In Iraq, we captured two senior operatives of the terrorist Zarqawi. And in recent days, our forces have killed or captured hundreds of terrorists and insurgents in Baghdad and Western Iraq and near the Syrian border. Across the world, our military is standing directly between the American people and the worst dangers in the world, and Americans are grateful to have such brave defenders.
As Jonathan Schwartz said, you just have to hope he knows he's lying. Because if he believes his own BS we're in even deeper than we thought.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Friedman's good column of the year

Not perfect, of course, but flat-world Tom has got the gist right this time--Shut Guantanamo Bay DOWN.
Shut it down. Just shut it down.

I am talking about the war-on-terrorism P.O.W. camp at Guantánamo Bay. Just shut it down and then plow it under. It has become worse than an embarrassment. I am convinced that more Americans are dying and will die if we keep the Gitmo prison open than if we shut it down. So, please, Mr. President, just shut it down.

If you want to appreciate how corrosive Guantánamo has become for America's standing abroad, don't read the Arab press. Don't read the Pakistani press. Don't read the Afghan press. Hop over here to London or go online and just read the British press! See what our closest allies are saying about Gitmo. And when you get done with that, read the Australian press and the Canadian press and the German press.
[I]t is now obvious from reports in my own paper and others that the abuse at Guantánamo and within the whole U.S. military prison system dealing with terrorism is out of control. Tell me, how is it that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody so far? Heart attacks? This is not just deeply immoral, it is strategically dangerous.
Guantánamo Bay is becoming the anti-Statue of Liberty. If we have a case to be made against any of the 500 or so inmates still in Guantánamo, then it is high time we put them on trial, convict as many possible (which will not be easy because of bungled interrogations) and then simply let the rest go home or to a third country. Sure, a few may come back to haunt us. But at least they won't be able to take advantage of Guantánamo as an engine of recruitment to enlist thousands more. I would rather have a few more bad guys roaming the world than a whole new generation.
Gee, Tom, would have been your best paragraph ever, except for the last five words. A new generation disliking America because of the crimes of Gitmo wouldn't make them "bad guys." The last sentence should have read "I would rather have a few more bad guys roaming the world than have a whole new generation despise us for totally unnecessary crimes."

Still, considering the source, an outstanding column.

What she said

Jeanne d'Arc, one of the new team of bloggers at This Modern World, writes about the latest Pentagon spin on the royal flush:
Here's the disturbing spin: The Pentagon isn't simply denying the allegations and leaving it at that. It's doing an interesting, and revealing bit of explanation:

Di Rita, the chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, said that U.S. military officials at Guantanamo Bay had recently found a separate record of the same allegation by the same detainee, and he was re-interviewed on May 14. "He did not corroborate his own allegation," Di Rita said.

Asked why he felt certain that this detainee did not affirm his allegation out of fear of retaliation, Di Rita said, "It's a judgment call, and I trust the judgment of the commanders more than I trust the judgment of Al Qaeda."

That snarky response plays well in a media that, as I was talking about a few days ago, doesn't accept anything until it comes from an official source, and gives those sources far more deference than they have earned. What kind of monster, after all, takes the word of a terrorist over that of America's finest and bravest?

The problem is, Di Rita's spin to cover up the original lie contains a new lie. Let's set aside, for a moment, the fact that some of our commanders have a few credibility issues, and just focus on the last part of Di Rita's statement. Does he have any real reason to believe the prisoner who charged that the Koran was abused was a member of Al Qaeda? Many of the "terrorists" America has seized in recent years have turned out to be innocent bystanders and even victims of vendettas. Some, like Dilawar, the young man who was beaten to death at Bagram in Afghanistan, were imprisoned for crimes that may have been committed by the people who turned them in. Others -- Omar Deghayes and Khaled el-Masri, for instance -- were victims of mistaken identity.
Obviously, di Rita has decided that, now that the story has been corroborated by the Red Cross, the FBI, and other news organizations besides Newsweek, the only audience he can possibly hope to convince is the domestic wingnuts and their enablers in Congress and the media. Pitting it as our glorious heroes in uniform against those smelly al Qaeda terrorists who caused 9/11 could only sell to those who really want to be deceived.

When you commit the monstrous crime of arresting hundreds of people, transporting them to the other side of the world, and holding them for years, mostly in secret, without representation and without charging them with anything, it is reasonable that people will believe that bad things are going on there. Probably the only reason this Koran-flushing allegation hasn't been proven is because of tighter controls on digital cameras at Gitmo than they had at Abu Ghraib.

The government continues to encroach on our personal privacy, figuring that if we aren't up to something bad than we have nothing to fear from them peaking in the windows. But this same government takes great offense when anyone suggests THEY may be up to something bad when they're hiding behind multiple layers of secrecy. It's all backwards--our privacy should at worst only be violated in the most extraordinary circumstances, while the government shouldn't have any privacy except in the most extraordinary circumstances, because they work for us.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Be an idiot first, ask questions later

Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) was the genius behind having french fries renamed "freedom fries" in Capitol cafeterias back in those days in 2003 when anyone who questioned our idiot president was ridiculed. Over two years later, and too late, he has finally figured out that he was lied to:
Although he voted for the war, he has since become one of its most vociferous opponents on Capitol Hill, where the hallway outside his office is lined with photographs of the "faces of the fallen".

"If we were given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration, to commit the authority to send boys, and in some instances girls, to go into Iraq, that is wrong," he told the newspaper. "Congress must be told the truth."
Don't stop there, "Frenchy" Jones. The word is "impeach." Call it "freedompeach" if you want. Just do it.

Actually, we shouldn't be too harsh on Jones. His meaningless grandstanding about "freedom fries" was basically that--meaningless. He was one of only four Republicans to vote for Rep. Lynne Woolsey's amendment to the latest defense boondoggle bill calling for Bush to submit a plan for US troop withdrawal from Iraq. My own rep, John Dingell, voted against it. What the Cheney is that about???

From David Horsey.

Time for Newsweek to retract its retraction

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, alleged in 2002 that guards mistreated the Quran, according to some of the hundreds of FBI documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU obtained the documents from the FBI through a federal court order in a lawsuit based on a Freedom of Information Act request. Most of them are records of detainee interviews with FBI agents.

According to the documents, released Wednesday by the ACLU, a detainee interviewed in August 2002 said guards had flushed a copy of the Quran in a toilet.
So, in the past two weeks, we've learned that a) the riots in Afghanistan had little to do with the Newsweek story--just one more sign and chant at the protests, and b) the story was almost certainly true in the basic facts--Koran abuse including throwing it in the toilet.

On the other hand, maybe the FBI hates America.

I'd say that Newsweek has lost much more credibility by not standing by its story than it did by running it. Meanwhile, the Bushies and their supporters haven't lost any credibility--because they had none to begin with.

In case you missed it, the Pat Tillman story--ex-NFL star shot down while heroically storming a hill in Afghanistan to rid the world of terrorists--is a total fabrication created by the Pentagon. Tillman was accidentally shot by his fellow Rangers, and the military immediately decided to spin the story another way, just like they did with Jessica Lynch:
The latest military investigation, exposed by the Post earlier this month, "showed that soldiers in Afghanistan knew almost immediately that they had killed Tillman by mistake in what they believed was a firefight with enemies on a tight canyon road. The investigation also revealed that soldiers later burned Tillman's uniform and body armor."

Patrick Tillman Sr., the father -- a lawyer, as it happens -- said he blames high-ranking Army officers for presenting "outright lies" to the family and to the public. "After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this," he told the Post. "They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."

"Maybe lying's not a big deal anymore," he said. "Pat's dead, and this isn't going to bring him back. But these guys should have been held up to scrutiny, right up the chain of command, and no one has."

Mary Tillman, the mother, complained to the Post that the government used her son for weeks after his death. She said she was particularly offended when President Bush offered a taped memorial message to Tillman at a Cardinals football game shortly before the presidential election last fall.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Oil's back over $50 a barrel.

Any port in a storm

From Bob Harris:
The trio of extremist judges who will now dance right into lifetime appointments are all walking travesties, but it turns out all three are headed for courts that are already stacked with scary right-wingers. So in the near-term, at least, the GOP's biggest win here actually affects little.

I take a moment to note that I'm seeking consolation in the fact that many of our circuit courts are already controlled by lunatics.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

25 Percent!

According to an article in the People's Food Coop's newsletter (not online), 25% of the world's biomass is, get this, mold. Over 100,000 species of mold, 25% of the biomass.

And mold can be very bad for you (maybe you knew this--I didn't). According to the article:
It's dangerous, with multiple ill health effects such as mental confusion and brain dysfunction, fatigue and weakness, muscle and joint pain, sinus infection, headache, gastrointestinal problems, shortness of breath, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, skin rashes, heart palpitations, numbness/tingling, laryngitis.
Wow, there are a few prescription drugs on the market with fewer side effects than that.
Some of the species are now being linked to cancer, diabetes, immune system dysfunction, reproductive system dysfunction, and some can even destroy the cornea of the eye.
Anyway, that's why I cleaned my shower curtain tonight! I'm investigating how this can be blamed on Bush.

From Emad Hajjaj.

Puppet Show

WIIIAI did an excellent job of covering yesterday's Bush-Karzai meeting.

WIIIAI also has some great comments on the filibuster. For example:
The R’s have agreed to allow the D’s to keep the right to filibuster, unless they actually try to use it.
Although R’s have been complaining about a minority of senators trying to dictate to the majority, this deal was arranged by 14 senators. Including Joseph Lieberman, which is the Suckiness Seal of Approval.
Extortion, I think, is the word for it.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Moon over Montgomery?

I lived in Montgomery, Alabama for 7 1/2 years. So I paid a little extra attention to what was happening three years ago when one of the poorest states in the nation gave a huge Korean company massive "incentives" (aka bribes) to locate a factory there. From my pre-Blogger blog, April 29, 2002:
This nonsense has got to stop! The state of Ohio has offered Ford an $83 million incentive package to build Mercury SUV's at its Avon Lake Assembly Plant near Cleveland. GM recently threatened to move assembly of its silly Chevrolet SSR (V8 powered two-seat roadster pickup mutant) unless Lansing, Michigan agreed to lower pollution standards. Politicians in Montgomery, Alabama were ecstatic that Hyundai agreed to build a 2000-job assembly plant there for only $133 million in state and local bribe money. That's $66,500 per job! Corporations have pitted city against city, state against state, and with NAFTA and WTO, country against country in a bidding war for jobs. Ralph Nader, in his book Crashing the Party, describes a recent case where Daimler-Chrysler squeezed millions out of Toledo and Ohio to locate a Jeep plant in Toledo. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed to build the plant, and an economic downturn resulted in far fewer jobs being created than were promised. I don't know all the answers, but it sure seems like corporations should be paying states substantial fees for the privilege of doing business within their borders, not the other way around. There is now more real competition between Michigan, Alabama and Mexico than there is between Ford, GM, and Daimler-Chrysler. This benefits the shareholders and executives of the corporations to the detriment of the citizens of the states and countries. We need to realize that we have more than enough stuff and that economic activity and jobs aren't the necessities--food, clothing and shelter are.
Well, I was watching "Desperate Housewives" last night, and a commercial comes on saying that Hyundai's new US manufacturing plant is now open. The grand opening was last Friday, featuring Hyundai Chairman Mong-Koo Chung and Alabama Governor Bob Riley. And there was, apparently, a surprise visitor--former president George H.W. Poppy Ready My Lips Bush 41:

Imagine. Bush Sr. showing up at the opening of a Korean auto plant. What does Poppy know about Korea? Oh yeah! He's friends with this guy:

Second from the right is renowned Korean multibillionaire and pervert the Rev. Sun Yung Moon, who has had far more control over the Presidents Bush than any 100 million Americans. I wrote about Moon last year:
Connect the dots: Nazi Klaus Barbie, Bolivia's Cocaine Coup, weird sex rituals, George H.W. Bush. Okay, a few more hints: The Washington Times, Korea, mass weddings, Capitol Hill coronations, the title of this post. Now, if you worked for the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, you'd come up with the same answer you always did: Saddam Hussein. Otherwise, you probably guessed, correctly, that the dots are connected by the extremely strange person named Sun Myung Moon.
That post was based on Robert Parry's book Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. That book has lots on Rev. Moon, including this delightful passage:
"History will make the position of Reverend Moon clear, and his enemies, the American population and government will bow down to him," Moon said, speaking of himself in the third person. "That is Father's tactic, the natural subjugation of the American government and population."
No wonder Poppy is such a pal of his--their families have the same goal.

Interestingly, however, this article suggests that Moon and Hyundai founder Chung Ju Yung are rivals in trying to open up North Korea, where both were born, to investment. Given the claws that Moon has always had into the Bushies, I'm guessing the rivalry can't be very bitter if Poppy is showing up at Hyundai grand openings. Beyond that, I can't begin to conjecture what this all means.

[Update] It was getting late when I was researching this last night. It turns out that Hyundai found Chung Ju Yung died in 2001 at the age of 85 or 86.

America is coming to its senses...

But is it too late? Poll: Bush approval mark nears low
Forty-six percent of 1,006 adults polled over the weekend said they approved of the overall job Bush is doing, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.
Then again, what the Cheney can the 46% find to approve of?

Bush--the real "enemy combatant"

Mike Whitney writes about how US citizen Jose Padilla has now been locked up for over three years without due process of law--a clear violation of the Constitution.
Jose Padilla represents the crowning achievement in the war on terror. As the situation in Haiti and Afghanistan steadily deteriorates, and as America's 8 divisions continue to bog-down in the Iraqi quagmire; the administration's one unassailable accomplishment is the death-blow it has delivered to the Bill of Rights. Padilla now faces his 4th year of captivity without any formal charges filed against him and without any reasonable expectation of defending himself in a court of law.

Happy anniversary, Jose.

The government defends its detention of Padilla on the grounds that he is an "enemy combatant". The term "enemy combatant" means "presumed guilty" and its application to US citizens or foreign nationals allows the state to operate outside the confines of international human rights law and the Bill of Rights. Simply put, it is the end of the rule of law in America and a rejection of a legal tradition that dates back 800 years.

From Tom Toles.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The double standard for double standards

From CNN:
In Washington, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said U.S. President George W. Bush was "alarmed by the reports of prisoner abuse," and wants them thoroughly investigated. Duffy said seven people were being investigated about reported abuse at Bagram.
Hey morons! The NY Times story on Friday was based on a 2000-page from the Army's criminal investigation into the case. Investigating again will be seen, correctly, as a delaying and whitewashing tactic. What is needed now is to make sure that the torture stops, that the victims be freed, and that everyone in the chain of command who facilitated the torture, whether by omission or commission, be fired and/or prosecuted. The cowardly system of private and corporal punishment, prosecuting only those at the bottom of the totem pole who actually performed the torture, is a sham, and the whole world knows it. As long as master criminals like Rumsfeld, Myers, Sanchez, Gonzales and Bush retain their jobs and their freedom, the world will know that Americans are the biggest hypocrites in the world.

Compare the way the Bushies treated America's Abu Ghraib scandal to how they treated Iraq's Abu Ghraib scandal. America' scandal was strictly the fault of Private Lynndie England, Specialist Charles Graner, and a few others at the base of the pyramid (so to speak). Higher ups were simply shocked! shocked! to learn what these bad apples had been up to. When Iraq was running Abu Ghraib, however, every bit of torture, rape or murder that happened there was entirely the responsibility of Saddam Hussein--his minions could not be faulted, according to the Bushies. Heck, they even go so far as to tell the current Iraqi puppet government that they need to keep these low-level Baathists around--if they weren't in the deck of cards, you can't discard them.

Same with 9/11--the Bushies could have just blamed it on the actual perpetrators, the 19 hijackers. (I'm temporarily pretending to believe the official story on 9/11.) Instead they insisted on going after Osama (okay, probably), the Taliban (questionable), and start a "global war on terror" (insane). They clearly weren't buying (or even contemplating the possibility) that the crimes of 9/11 were caused by a few bad apples. But they continue to insist that the multitude of crimes they've committed since 9/11 were.

From Jack Ohman.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Trouble in Puppetdise

Footnotes (from NY Times headlines today):
1. Karzai Demands Custody of All Afghan Prisoners
2. U.S. Memo Faults Afghan Leader on Heroin Fight

The second article states that the memo was sent by cable from the US embassy in Kabul to Condiliar on May 13, over a week ago. The Times says it was shown to them "by an American official alarmed at the slow pace of poppy eradication." The Times doesn't say when they were shown the memo, leaving it for us to figure out if the timing of the article came from the Times (either because of caution in light of the Newsweek fiasco or some other reason) or from the administration as payback for Karzai's complaints. This would be very interesting to know. Did the Times find out about the memo eight days ago and sit on it out of caution and/or malice, or did they just get a call today about it and run it immediately?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Whoa! Lake Be Gone!

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian village was left baffled Thursday after its lake disappeared overnight.

NTV television showed pictures of a giant muddy hole bathed in summer sun, while fishermen from the village of Bolotnikovo looked on disconsolately.

"It is very dangerous. If a person had been in this disaster, he would have had almost no chance of survival. The trees flew downwards, under the ground," said Dmitry Zaitsev, a local Emergencies Ministry official interviewed by the channel.

Officials in Nizhegorodskaya region, on the Volga river east of Moscow, said water in the lake might have been sucked down into an underground water-course or cave system, but some villagers had more sinister explanations.

"I am thinking, well, America has finally got to us," said one old woman, as she sat on the ground outside her house.

Commander Cookoo Bananas

In last Sunday's Simpsons episode, Marge and Homer are chewing out Bart for getting expelled from school:
Marge: Oh, now we'll have to find a new school for you.

Homer: Yeah, and if you get kicked out of that one, you're going straight in the army, where you'll get sent to America's latest military quagmire. Where will it be? North Korea? Iran? Anything's possible with Commander Cookoo Bananas in charge.
Fox pushes the envelope in so many directions at once it's hard to track. The Simpsons and Arrested Development take wonderful shots at the misadministration and the right-wing noise machine (Arrested Development had one hilarious episode ridiculing the search for WMD's in Iraq and Fox News' coverage of it). Meanwhile Fox News has its team of windbags telling wingnuts how to think.

And then there's 24, which I've watched religiously since it first came on. The show is a non-stop thrill ride with some great characters, and until this season it seemed not to have been too over-the-top jingo-ey with all the anti-terrorism going on.

On the other hand, this season much more than previous ones seems to have been explicitly written to support the Bush agenda. Let's see what we've learned from 24 so far this season:
a.. Middle-eastern terrorist types are everywhere.
b.. Riding on trains is dangerous, while SUV's are wicked cool.
c.. Long-hair types can't be trusted, even if they're sons of defense secretaries.
d.. Torture works.
e.. Middle-eastern terrorist types are everywhere.
f.. Any law, local, state, national, or international, can and should be broken if needed to combat terrorism. Knock over a gas station? No problem. Steal cars? No problem. Break? Enter? Shoot? Kill? Lie? Lie to the president? Invade consulates? The War Against Terrorism (TWAT) justifies all.
g.. Torture works.
h.. The law is a hindrance to law enforcement.
i.. Sleep, food and potty breaks are completely unnecessary (okay, we learned that in previous seasons).
j.. The government can look or listen in on you at any time.
k.. Middle-eastern terrorist types are everywhere.
l.. The CTU clinic can handle major trauma surgery, but can't deal with two patients at once. (Okay, I'm not sure how that relates to the Bush agenda.)
m.. Only kick-butt presidents will do in a time of crisis.
n.. Torture works.
o.. International NGO's like "Amnesty Global" serve at the beck and call of terrorists, ready any time of the day or night to interfere with counterterror operations with their extensive teams of well-paid bulldog lawyers.
p.. We'll never, ever have enough surveillance cameras.
q.. There's no need for mass transit in LA, because anyone except for helicopter-equipped cops can get from anyplace to anyplace else in 15 minutes or less.
r.. Dismantling nuclear weapons is obviously a bad idea, because that requires moving them around the country in the dead of night, making them vulnerable to theft, because we all know that
s.. Middle-eastern terrorist types are everywhere.
t.. Not only are middle-eastern terrorist types everywhere, but they'll kill their own wives and children to get what they want.
u.. You can only pull so much wool over the eyes of the Chinese before they start making underwear out of it and selling it at Wal-Mart.
v.. Oh, and, by the way, torture works.

So who knows what Rupert Murdoch is up to? Hip liberal comedies sell. Right-wing blather "news" sells. And ultra-violence sells. I guess he's just making money. And I'm just about ready to forgive him for that list of 24 lessons AND Sean Hannity AND Bill O'Reilly, all because of "Commander Cookoo Bananas."

Kudos to the NY Times

Daring the Bushies and the right-wing noise machine to "Newsweek" them, the Times' lead story today is a lengthy article by Tim Golden detailing the deaths of two Afghan prisoners killed by US soldiers, as well as other atrocities committed.
Although incidents of prisoner abuse at Bagram in 2002, including some details of the two men's deaths, have been previously reported, American officials have characterized them as isolated problems that were thoroughly investigated. And many of the officers and soldiers interviewed in the Dilawar investigation said the large majority of detainees at Bagram were compliant and reasonably well treated.

"What we have learned through the course of all these investigations is that there were people who clearly violated anyone's standard for humane treatment," said the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Larry Di Rita. "We're finding some cases that were not close calls."

Yet the Bagram file includes ample testimony that harsh treatment by some interrogators was routine and that guards could strike shackled detainees with virtual impunity. Prisoners considered important or troublesome were also handcuffed and chained to the ceilings and doors of their cells, sometimes for long periods, an action Army prosecutors recently classified as criminal assault.
The war in Afghanistan has been totally FUBAR since it began. Ignoring the facts that the main perpertrators of 9/11 were ALREADY DEAD, that none were Afgans (or Iraqis, for that matter), and that a brutal war was going to do nothing to bring back the lives lost on 9/11 or to make anyone safer, the bombs started falling on one of the poorest, most frequently brutalized nations on earth in October 2001. The previous puppet Taliban regime, backed by the Pakistanis, the Saudis, and occasionally the US, was tossed aside and a new one installed, killing thousands in the process. Opium production resumed, chaos returned, and Afghans continued to die horrible deaths at a high rate. And the US military began exploring the various ways available to raise the ire of the Muslim world.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Same Article, Same Paper, Different Headline

Eli at Left I on the News catches the San Jose Mercury News running the same story two consecutive days--but with different headlines. From the M-N search page:
1. Core prices hold steady
By Jeannine Aversa / Associated Press
Big jumps in energy and food costs pushed consumer prices higher in April, but many other prices calmed down, easing fears about a broad outbreak of inflation.
Thursday, May 19, 2005 (

2. Energy, food costs boost consumer prices
JEANNINE AVERSA / Associated Press
Big jumps in energy and food costs pushed consumer prices higher in April, but many other prices calmed down, easing fears about a broad outbreak of inflation. That sparked a rally on Wall Street. ... economists and investors, though, was that "core" prices - excluding volatile ...
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
So, for you Wednesday readers, it's runaway inflation. For Thursday readers, inflation is under control. Blog readers already know that newspaper headlines mean nothing.

The "constitutional" option

That's what catkiller Frist has taken to calling the so-called "nuclear option" to eliminate filibusters in the Senate--the "constitutional" option, based on the oft-repeated Repug lie that the Constitution requires an up-or-down vote on every presidential nominee. Josh Marshall explains what this means:
Just to be crystal clear, what the senate is about to do is not changing their rules. They are about to find that their existing rules are unconstitutional, thus getting around the established procedures by which senate rules can be changed.
. . .
For that to be true stands not only the simple logic of the constitution, but two hundred years of our constitutional history, on its head. You don't even need to go into the fact that other judicial nominations have been filibustered, or that many others have been prevented from coming to a vote by invocation of various other senate rules, both formal and informal, or that almost countless numbers of presidential nominees of all kinds have simply never made it out of committee. Indeed, the whole senate committee system probably cannot withstand this novel and outlandish interpretation of the constitution, since one of its main functions is to review presidential appointees before passing them on to the full senate.

Quite simply, the senate is empowered by the constitution to enact its own rules.

You can think the filibuster is a terrible idea. And you may think that it should be abolished, as indeed it can be through the rules of the senate. And there are decent arguments to made on that count. But to assert that it is unconstitutional because each judge does not get an up or down vote by the entire senate you have to hold that the United States senate has been in more or less constant violation of the constitution for more than two centuries.

Meme of the week

"We're screwed."

Bill Moyers:
In Orwell’s 1984, the character Syme, one of the writers of that totalitarian society’s dictionary, explains to the protagonist Winston, “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only on partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda, is less inclined to put up a fight, to ask questions and be skeptical. That kind of orthodoxy can kill a democracy — or worse.

A Tiny Revolution:
Life in the United States now is like being trapped on a jet piloted by people who keep claiming there's a huge secret tunnel through the Rockies—and they're going to use it to fly us all through to the other side. You just have to pray to god they know they're lying.

Bob Harris:
When I was a kid, I remember reading about how democracies ended. What surprised me was how often it was a peaceful takeover. Fascists took power in many places not through force, but through rigged elections, broken rules, and consolidation of power, all hidden behind flags and God and promises of glory.

Today, the fanatics who have seized the GOP are beginning their attempt to flagrantly break a half-dozen Senate rules which have existed for generations in order to install federal judges more interested in ideology than precedent.

If this "nuclear option" works, they will very likely soon begin stacking the Supreme Court as they wish... The very laws of our nation itself could soon be under the fundamentalists' control.

It's happening right now.
Man. I never thought things would get so bad I'd be thinking of Arlen Specter and John Sununu as possible lights in the darkness.

I think they broke me. They just overloaded my systems, and now I just don’t have enough contempt, sarcasm and outrage with which to respond to this. I thought it was bad last week when Tom DeLay accused the Democrats of having no class, but now I’m just broken. I may have to watch Teletubbies for the next few hours; if I see Bush’s face or hear his voice I’ll just have nothing left. So cold. So cold.

Under The Same Sun:
I'm not sure I'm in the mood to see a movie where the punch line is forces of evil consolidating into a fascist empire spread across the galaxy.

Paul Craig Roberts:
George W. Bush and his gang of neocon warmongers have destroyed America's reputation. It is likely to stay destroyed, because at this point the only way to restore America's reputation would be to impeach and convict President Bush for intentionally deceiving Congress and the American people in order to start a war of aggression against a country that posed no threat to the US. America can redeem itself only by holding Bush accountable.
America's reputation is so damaged that not even our puppets can stand the heat.

James Howard Kunstler:
One thing that I'm predicting is that there will be a vigorous and futile defense of suburbia and all its entitlements, no matter what reality is telling us to do. And this will translate into a lot of political mischief. You can quote me: Americans will vote for cornpone Nazis before they will give up their entitlements to a McHouse and a McCar.

And Billmon's comment on Kunstler:
Of course, one could argue that they already have voted for cornpone Nazis.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Quote du Jour

From Jonathan Schwarz:
Life in the United States now is like being trapped on a jet piloted by people who keep claiming there's a huge secret tunnel through the Rockies—and they're going to use it to fly us all through to the other side. You just have to pray to god they know they're lying.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

So much insanity, so little time...

One of my favorite bloggers, WIIIAI, is reaching the breaking point:
I think they broke me. They just overloaded my systems, and now I just don’t have enough contempt, sarcasm and outrage with which to respond to this. I thought it was bad last week when Tom DeLay accused the Democrats of having no class, but now I’m just broken. I may have to watch Teletubbies for the next few hours; if I see Bush’s face or hear his voice I’ll just have nothing left. So cold. So cold.
This great cartoon from Jen Sorensen a couple of weeks ago sums up the situation:

And that cartoon was before the Uzbekistan massacres, the 100-0 Senate vote for flushing more money and lives down the Afghan and Iraqi toilets WHILE stripping us of even more liberties, Condiliar's bizarre ravings in Iraq, the Newsweek setup, a senate committee approving another $441.6 billion for the Pentagon, or this lovely headline currently on top at the NY Times web site: Air Force Seeks Bush's Approval for Space Arms. You've gotta think that by the time Ashcroft gets put on the Supreme Court, most of us will be too numb to notice.

I've never watched Teletubbies. Maybe it's time to start.

Posada Carriles Arrested

The US government finally decided to track down fugitive terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, convicted in Panama of plotting to kill Fidel Castro and others there. He is suspected of being behind the bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight in 1976 which killed 73. He admitted to the New York Times a few years ago to fatal attacks on hotels in Havana. Venezuela has formally requested extradition, but the Gestapo Department of Homeland Security hasn't said what they'll do with this scumbag. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans, including Castro himself, marched on the US mission in Havana demanding Posada's detention and extradition.

The news articles suggest that Posada has put the Bushies in a tough position, forced to choose between extraditing Posada and risking the rath of their rabid right-wing Cuban exile supporters in Miami, or appearing to be blatantly hypocritcal in their gibberish about terrorists and the states which harbor them at all. My money's on hypocrisy; they've done it time and time again with basically no negative consequences to themselves.

I find it increasingly difficult to believe that Congress cares one whit about what any of us think, and even if they do they won't or can't do anything about it. However, if you're a bit less cynical than I, has a letter you can send your congresscritters demanding Posada's extradition.

The good George

Britain's George Galloway appeared before a Senate committee today and told our worthless senators off--big time.
On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his.

"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.
"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."
There's video too.

Quote du Jour

"I think that the government has successfully proved that any service member has reasonable cause to believe that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal."
-- Lt. Cmdr. Robert Klant, presiding at Pablo Paredes' court-martial.

Marjorie Cohn explains:
I testified during the sentencing hearing at Pablo's court-martial as a defense expert on the legality of the war in Iraq, and the commission of war crimes by US forces. My testimony corroborated the reasonableness of Pablo's beliefs. I told the judge that the war violates the United Nations Charter, which forbids the use of force, unless carried out in self-defense or with the approval of the Security Council, neither of which obtained before Bush invaded Iraq. I also said that torture and inhuman treatment, which have been documented in Iraqi prisons, constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and are considered war crimes under the US War Crimes Statute. The United States has ratified both the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions, making them part of the supreme law of the land under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

I noted that the Uniform Code of Military Justice requires that all military personnel obey lawful orders. Article 92 of the UCMJ says, "A general order or regulation is lawful unless it is contrary to the Constitution, the laws of the United States...." Both the Nuremberg Principles and the Army Field Manual create a duty to disobey unlawful orders. Article 509 of Field Manual 27-10, codifying another Nuremberg Principle, specifies that "following superior orders" is not a defense to the commission of war crimes, unless the accused "did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know that the act ordered was unlawful."

I concluded that the Iraq war is illegal. US troops who participate in the war are put in a position to commit war crimes. By boarding that ship and delivering Marines to Iraq - to fight in an illegal war, and possibly to commit war crimes - Pablo would have been complicit in those crimes. Therefore, orders to board that ship were illegal, and Pablo had a duty to disobey them.

On cross-examination, Navy prosecutor Lt. Jonathan Freeman elicited testimony from me that the US wars in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan also violated the UN Charter, as neither was conducted in self-defense or with the blessing of the Security Council. Upon the conclusion of my testimony, the judge said, "I think that the government has successfully proved that any service member has reasonable cause to believe that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal."
Of course, the judge could have thrown in Vietnam, Granada, Panama, Haiti once or twice or thrice, and probably a dozen others, not to mention the ones the Bushies are planning now.


Paul Craig Roberts, again

From his latest column:
As intent as Republicans were to impeach President Clinton for lying about a sexual affair, they have a blind eye for President Bush's far more serious lies. Bush's lies have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people, injured and maimed tens of thousands more, devastated a country, destroyed America's reputation, caused one billion Muslims to hate America, ruined our alliances with Europe, created a police state at home, and squandered $300 billion dollars and counting.

America's reputation is so damaged that not even our puppets can stand the heat. Anti-American riots, which have left Afghan cities and towns in flames and hospitals overflowing with casualties, have forced Bush's Afghan puppet, "president" Hamid Karzai, to assert his independence from his US overlords. In a belated act of sovereignty, Karzai asserted authority over heavy-handed US troops whose brutal and stupid ways sparked the devastating riots. Karzai demanded control of US military activities in Afghanistan and called for the return of the Afghan detainees who are being held at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Today, they danced on its grave

A graphic I first ran two years ago:

The right wing noise machine forced Newsweek into utter capitulation on its flushing the Koran in the toilet story. The "administration" blamed the magazine for all of the violence attributed to the story, not missing the opportunity to repress and gloat at the same time:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the flap was a reminder that people "need to be very careful about what they say."

"People are dead, and that's unfortunate," Rumsfeld told reporters. "People need to be very careful about what they say just as people need to be careful about what they do."
"People have said, 'My goodness, why does it take so long for someone to come back with and have the actual facts?'" Rumsfeld said. "Well, it takes a long time to be truthful, to be responsible."
In fact, in my case, added Rummy, I've never once done it in all of my 137 years.
"We'll deal with it the same way we have been dealing with it -- by being transparent, up front and open about our policies and what our soldiers do," Boucher said.
What an obnoxious, lying douchebag. It's bad enough that they are completely opaque and close-mouthed about everything they do, but to just come out and claim the exact's SO in character for this lying piece of filth of an administration.

BTW, Newsweek wasn't the first to report on Koran desecration and toilet tossing.

Digging Deeper

From James Howard Kunstler:
I was in Tallahassee, Florida, last week talking to a large room full of planning officials. My message was pretty straightforward: every new housing subdivision, every new strip mall, every parking lagoon and big box chain-store pod that you issue approvals for from this point on will lead your country deeper into tragedy.

The response was apathetic, as though I were giving a class in Chinese algebra.

Florida is one of the multiple epicenters of a hypertrophic suburban growth machine that has taken the place of the US economy. Reforming it is unimaginable because without the business generated by a cancer-like replication of car infrastructure, the economy would consist of little besides hair cutting, fried chicken, and open heart surgery. In places like Florida (and California, and northern Virginia, and Las Vegas, and Dallas), all citizens are complicit in the drive toward tragedy because all want business-as-usual to continue. The idea that any set of circumstances might put a stop to it is laughable to them. What can you do for such a people determined to commit civilizational suicide?
Kunstler's blog features plenty of posts about the coming peak-oil apocalypse, with lots of good discussion in the comments. I like his blog because it makes me seem like an optimist.

Obviously, they got it wrong, right?

Today's headlines:
"Newsweek backs off Quran desecration story" -- CNN

"Newsweek Apologizes for Report of Koran Insult" -- NY Times

"Newsweek Apologizes" -- Washington Post

"Newsweek Issues Apology for Quran Story" -- Fox News

"Newsweek: Regret over errors" -- MSNBC

Actually, if you read the NY Times article, it's a lot less clear than that:
"We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Mark Whitaker, Newsweek's editor, wrote in the issue of the magazine that goes on sale at newsstands today. In an accompanying article, the magazine wrote that its reporters had relied on an American government official, whom it has not identified, who had incomplete knowledge of the situation.

But Mr. Whitaker said in an interview later: "We're not retracting anything. We don't know what the ultimate facts are."
Of course, the Bushies are all huffy about the story and the "tepid and qualified" retraction/apology/whatever:
In a statement, Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said: "Newsweek hid behind anonymous sources, which by their own admission do not withstand scrutiny. Unfortunately, they cannot retract the damage they have done to this nation or those that were viciously attacked by those false allegations."
Change the subject to the war on Iraq, and "Newsweek" to "The Bush administration" and the statement becomes much truer.

Given that the original anonymous source was apparently an administration official, and that the article was run by a "senior Pentagon official" before it ran in Newsweek, it sounds like Newsweek may have been set up, Dan Rather style. There is very little free press left in this country; the Bush administration's goal is to eliminate all of it.

Given all the nasty stuff they've done in the past three years, I'd guess that the Koran story is probably true. It is depressing that reaction in Afghanistan and elsewhere to Koran abuse seems stronger than it has for people abuse, but that would be the case in this country as well. Flag-burners are more despised by a large percentage of the population than are muggers, rapists, sadistic cops, or George Bush. Go figure.

PS: Juan Cole has a lot more.

Include Baathists, Exclude Democrats

Condiliar, quoted in the Washington Post:
We talked about how the political process should be inclusive -- and the government is an inclusive government -- and the need for the constitutional writing process to be inclusive.
Meanwhile, back home, cat-killer Frist and the other neanderthal Repugs threaten to invoke the "nuclear option," guaranteeing that the Senate becomes exclusive of minority influence.

And we on the left can call the sham elections in Iraq last January "sham elections" all we want, but nothing says "sham election" better than having the puppetmasters drop in and tell the puppets that winning the election didn't mean they won the election.

Bush considers a razor-thin, fraud-marred margin over a worthless opponent a "mandate" to repeal the 20th century, but the Shiites and Kurds landslide in January is supposed to represent a triumph for democracy, not BE one.


More than just shaking hands with Uzbekistan's brutal dictator Islam Karimov, the Bushies have been actively supporting his regime. The WSWS has the details:
The Bush administration’s “global war on terrorism” has recorded one of its bloodiest victories yet with the slaughter of several hundred men, women and children in the Uzbekistan city of Andijan.

This brutal massacre was carried out by the regime of President Islam Karimov, one of the Bush administration’s closest allies in Central Asia. His military forces that executed the mass killings have been trained, supplied and aided by the Pentagon.

Citing the testimony of a doctor in the city, the Associated Press reported that 500 bodies have been laid out in front of a local school waiting to be identified by relatives. Another 2,000 people were wounded when the troops opened fire on a mass demonstration in the city’s central square Friday, the doctor reported.
Washington’s concern for “democracy” and the struggle against “tyranny” in the former Soviet Union and internationally extends only to those countries where it seeks to overturn existing regimes and impose new ones committed to US geopolitical aims. In Uzbekistan, it already has a client state. Karimov may be a murderous dictator, the Bush administration reasons, but he’s ours.

This is a regime that imprisons over 6,000 political dissidents, systematically uses torture and has been known to boil its opponents alive. It is among the most corrupt dictatorships on the face of the planet.

Yet from even before the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington and the subsequent war in Afghanistan, it has enjoyed the closest ties with the United States government.

After 9/11, the US Congress granted Karimov’s regime $25 million in loans to buy US weapons and equipment, another $40.5 million in economic and law enforcement aid and $18 million in “anti-terrorism funding.” This aid has increased steadily every year since.

By 2003, the aid had grown to $86 million. The following year, the State Department announced a largely symbolic cut of $18 million based on a 2002 Congressional decision tying aid to Uzbekistan’s human rights record and political reforms. The Karimov regime was non-plussed, and officials said that the funding would find its way to the country in any case on a piecemeal basis.
And, by the way, our government "renders" people to Uzbekistan to be tortured.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Imagine there is justice...

Billmon recounts the Ango-American War Crimes Trial of 2010, held at The Hague under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The photo shows the defendants during the trial.

The cycle of death

Following up on my earlier post on Uzbekistan:

From A Tiny Revolution.

I hate that woman

Condiliar, that is. Now she's the ultimate revisionist historian, stringing one lie after another to justify the illegal, immoral war on Iraq. From CNN:
"I want you to keep focused on what you are doing here," Rice told the diplomats and troops who gathered in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. "This war came to us, not the other way around."

"The United States, along with the rest of the free world, believed somehow for a number of years that people in this region didn't care about freedom," she said. "We cared about stability. And what we got was neither. We got a malignancy that was growing that came to haunt us on the fine September day" in 2001.
Remember, no ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. No Iraqi hijackers. No BS about freedom before the war--only lies about WMD's and terrorism.

Actually, this could easily be read as one of those "blame America first" excuses the right-wing nutjobs are always crying about--because we didn't care about freedom, 9/11 happened. But it won't, since Condi said it.

What a despicable excuse for a human being Condiliar is. "This war came to us," she says from one of Saddam's palaces, AFTER the 9/11 Commission report indicating no ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, after the Duelfer report saying that Iraq had no WMD's or programs for years, after the Downing Sreet memo. What does it take for a black woman to reach the top ranks of government? Unfortunately, Condiliar Rice demonstrates exactly what it takes. Of course, they're the same requirements for white men, as well--no conscience, no respect for the truth, utter ruthlessness.

Runaway scandals

Those readers who haven't had their memories wiped clean by too much Michael Jackson and runaway bride may recall that the FBI was investigating the likelihood that Israel has been spying on the US, using insiders at the Pentagon to feed them classified information, and most likely feeding these same insiders bogus "intelligence" about Iraq, Iran, and Syria. So far the only fish they've caught is a guy named Larry Franklin. It's hard to keep track of this story, because the media pays approximately as much attention to it as they do to that torrid investigation into the White House leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame almost TWO YEARS AGO--that is, practically none.

But, if you're interested, a blog called Xymphora regularly discusses the ins and outs of the Israel-spying-on-the-US case. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether Xymphora is onto something or not. Here's a sample:
Why would supposed American ally Israel want to help the insurgency, or at least part of it? Based on the ideas of Oded Yinon, the plan is to break Iraq up into small, unthreatening mini-states. The Israelis are trying to start an Iraqi civil war. To this end, the Israelis are hoping to pin the Americans in Iraq for as long as possible in a vain attempt to prevent this war. The Americans will only pull out when civil war is inevitable, which will be another huge embarrassment for the Pentagon. On top of that, the slow American defeat in Iraq, based on the perfidity of the Israelis in supporting the insurgency and undermining American counterintelligence in Iraq, is gradually destroying the American military (although no one in the Bush Administration will admit it). This effort means the Israelis are effectively currently engaged in war operations against the United States. This undeclared war by the greatest ingrate in the world, Israel - hundreds of billions of dollars in aid from American taxpayers to Israel, and this is the thanks they get! - has made the paleocons furious, and explains why the neocons have been unable to stop the AIPAC investigation.

Operation Matador

WIIIAI reads the media reports about Operation Matador, the Marines' recent bomb-fest in western Iraq, and concludes that it was basically a demonstration--any insurgents wanting to live to fight another day were apparently given plenty of opportunity to do so.
The idea behind Operation Matador was that this distant part of western Iraq was the new Fallujah, a gathering point for insurgents, so there was a need, according to the colonel in charge of the operation, for “proving that they don’t have any safe havens.” Note the verb: Matador is about proving something rather than accomplishing something. The Marines went to the Ramana region to pee on it to mark their territory; the goal was psychological rather than strictly military. And the proof of this is that, while the military claims to have “neutralized this sanctuary,” they’re not actually planning to occupy the area, and are now in the process of leaving; the insurgents will be back in days. The Marines are claiming victory, but the jihadis are probably claiming the same thing, with at least as much justification.

The purple finger of death

From Hannah Allam of Knight Ridder via Juan Cole (emphasis added):
"Two weeks of intense insurgent violence have made it crystal clear that Iraq's parliamentary elections, hailed in late January as a triumph for democracy, haven't helped to heal the country's deep divisions. They may have made them worse. The historic election sheared off a thin facade of wartime national unity and reinforced ethnic and sectarian tensions that have plagued Iraq for centuries. Iraqis immediately began playing the roles the election results delivered to them: victorious Shiite Muslim, assertive Kurd, disaffected Sunni Arab. Within those groups lies a mosaic of other splits, especially between secularists and Islamists vying for Iraq's soul."
Hey! We've got something in common with Iraq! Our elections made things worse, too!

Democracy is much more than elections. Without an informed electorate, sincere and qualified candidates, the lack of corrupting influences like money and violence, and a widespread respect for and insistence on fairness and impartiality in conducting elections, votes like November 2 and January 30 are just smokescreens. The Iraqi sham election may have been just one more disaster to hit that country; the US sham election was a huge disaster for the entire world.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

What if they had a war and nobody came?

From Rob Rogers.

From Matt Davies.

From Steve Benson.

Destined to repeat it

The current US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were ostensibly intended to get rid of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein. There was certainly some merit to these goals, if those had indeed been the real goals. Al Qaeda had apparently attacked the US several times. The Taliban was a brutal and repressive regime. Saddam was a brutal dictator who did some very nasty things in fighting a war with Iran and in repressing opposition within Iraq. I don't think these things alone justified these brutal wars, but I can understand to some degree why some people do.

Then, you consider that al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein all developed with assistance from the US government. (Probably the Taliban the least of the three, but there is evidence that US oil interests, aka the US government, decided that the Taliban was the best chance they had for the stability in Afghanistan they needed to build pipelines across it.) The more thoughtful of the war supporters (those that have one or two thoughts a week), may concede this point, but will insist that just because we made "mistakes" in the past doesn't mean we shouldn't stop these tyrants. Well, maybe. If you mistakenly set your house on fire, you should probably try to put the fire out.

But then you note that while we are supposedly putting out the fire in the living room, we're starting new ones in the bedrooms. As part of the so-called "war on terror," the Bush administration has cozied up to some awful regimes, like Uribe's in Colombia and Musharref's in Pakistan (as well as continuing support for the Saudis, Egyptians and Israelis). But perhaps the most blatant case is our new friendship with the Stalinist torturer Karimov in Uzbekistan. Billmon has a rundown of that sorry page of history.

Boiled people alive! Let me shake your hand!

So don't tell me that you're intending to rid the world of brutal dictators and regimes while you continue to support them. The US has supported tyrants for decades, and continues to do so. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were planned long before 9/11, and had nothing to do with terrorism or weapons of mass destruction, or freedom for that matter.

The sanest response to 9/11 would have been to do NOTHING, an option that was rejected out of hand by our jingoist media and politicians. Instead, Bush and his idiot cabal let the terrorists win, giving them the clash of civilizations they desired, adding hundreds of thousands of deaths to the 3000 or so killed on 9/11. In the process, they have guaranteed many future 9/11's and strife throughout the world for decades to come.

(I've said this before: I realize that doing nothing would likely have cost Bush any chance at re-selection. That was a risk I was certainly willing to take!)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Torture as Terrorism

It seems to be generally accepted, at least publicly, that torture is an ineffective method of interogation. However, Naomi Klein writes that getting information is not what torture is about. Torture is intimidation as a means of social control.
This is torture’s true purpose: to terrorize—not only the people in Guantánamo’s cages and Syria’s isolation cells but also, and more important, the broader community that hears about these abuses. Torture is a machine designed to break the will to resist—the individual prisoner’s will and the collective will.
Klein discusses the effects that the threat of arrest, deportation and possible torture have had right here in Ann Arbor:
“Obviously, intelligence agents have an incentive to hide the use of unlawful methods,” says the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer. “On the other hand, when they use rendition and torture as a threat, it’s undeniable that they benefit, in some sense, from the fact that people know that intelligence agents are willing to act unlawfully. They benefit from the fact that people understand the threat and believe it to be credible.”

And the threats have been received. In an affidavit filed with an ACLU court challenge to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Nazih Hassan, president of the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor, Michigan, describes this new climate. Membership and attendance are down, donations are way down, board members have resigned—Hassan says his members fear doing anything that could get their names on lists. One member testified anonymously that he has “stopped speaking out on political and social issues” because he doesn’t want to draw attention to himself.
I've met Nazih a few times--a very nice guy with a great sense of humor. He was joking around with Congressman John Dingell at our last anti-war march in March.

Klein is right--the only place torture works to get information is on Fox's show "24." But that's not why it's done.

Option One is to Lie--Always

I just put together a big post on Scottie McLellan's lies about the Cessna/White House incident, only to have Blogger trash it. I'll just refer you to the White House press briefing transcript, Scottie's later addendum where he corrects his lies without admitting how blatantly he'd lied earlier, and Left I's post on the subject. From Scottie's "answers" it would appear that the Cessna could have flown right into the West Wing without anyone ever having authority to shoot it down, because the pResident's bike ride couldn't be disturbed.

WMD facilities to be closed

After not finding any weapons of mass destruction or WMD facilities in Iraq, Dumsfeld is finally going to close down some WMD plants. Among the list of base closings recommended by the DoD today are the Deseret Chemical Depot in Utah and the Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana. According to its web site Deseret is home to more than 40% of America's chemical weapons, some of which are apparently being dismantled. Newport housed some 1,269 tons of the deadly nerve agent VX, which is in the process of being neutralized.

The good news, according to local reports from Utah and Indiana, is that DoD won't close these bases until the destruction of the chemical weapons is complete.

As Michigan's economy falls apart

A couple of weeks ago, the big news was S&P's lowering the bond ratings for GM and Ford to "junk" status. Now, a couple of big auto suppliers are in big trouble--Visteon and Delphi.

This state makes a lot of things that people won't be able to afford soon. On the other hand, it is well-supplied with things that people desperately need--water and the ability to grow food. How this state survives and transforms in the next twenty years will undoubtedly be interesting, but hopefully not too terrifying.

Newt and Hillary, sittin' in a tree

Could there be any clearer indication that we need a second party in this country than the recent collaboration between Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton? Of course, the NY Times is there to grease the skids of America's slide towards fascism:
As it turns out, Mr. Gingrich and Mrs. Clinton have a lot more in common now that they have left behind the politics of the 1990's, when she was a symbol of the liberal excesses of the Clinton White House and he was a fiery spokesman for a resurgent conservative movement in Washington.
Right. The "liberal excesses" of the Clinton White House. Welfare "reform." NAFTA and and the WTO, selling out American jobs and sovereignty. The brutal assault at Waco. Bombing Iraq, Sudan, Serbia. The "anti-terrorism" act of 1996, every bit as bad as the Patriot Act. Massive consolidation of the media and corporate America in general. I guess the occasional environmental protection, the appointment of a few people who actually did their jobs instead of the exact opposite, and balancing the budget qualify as "liberal excesses" by today's standards.

Hillary voted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and (I think) all of the funding bills for these crimes. She voted for the Patriot Act. As far as I can tell without a lot of research, probably only Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller have been less liberal "Democratic" senators than Hillary during her four-plus years in office. She would be a terrible president.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

How many deaths will it take til you know?

From a commenter named Michael Miller on the Left I On The News blog:
Anyone who supports this abominable crime of mass murder and gargantuan theft should go over there.

This war is wrong, first. That alone should be sufficient, but doesn't seem to matter to many.

It is absolutely unwinnable, second. That is something people refuse to accept. Use enough force and you can pacify anyone, they say. Wrong. You cannot force people to your will. You can break them, spindle them, mutilate them, and bury them in mass graves, but you cannot win the war. Period.

When people finally realize this, they will do what they did last time: blame it on the people who told them so.
Eli at Left I had suggested that not only the right-wingnuts who supported this insane war from the beginning, but also those supposedly liberal folks who say we can't leave now, should get their own and/or their families' butts down to the recruiting office tomorrow and jump right in to the Mess-o-potamia. To paraphrase our worst president--If you're not against this war then you're for it, and if you're for it you should be over there fighting it.

Michael Miller is right--those of us who have been correctly against the war all along will be the ones blamed for its utter failure.

This world is really starting to suck, y'know?

Yet another thing completely insane about our new law

From Robert Shull:
In passing the Iraq War Supplemental yesterday, the Senate also gave the Secretary of Homeland Security the power to waive any and all law in the course of building roads and barriers along the U.S. borders -- without limit and with no checks and balances. The measure is part of the "REAL ID Act of 2005," the controversial immigration bill attached by the House as a rider to the Iraq war supplemental.

The consequence of this decision is that Congress has given one man a license to waive any law, for any reason or for no reason at all. Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security, now has the power to simply waive away laws that protect the environment, safeguard public health, ensure consumer and workplace safety, prevent unfair business practices, and ban discrimination -- at his sole and unreviewable discretion.
It's about 32 miles from here to the closest point on the border with Canada. And Michael Chertoff, our very own Gestapo director, can break any laws he wants in the name of protecting the border.

I'm coming to the conclusion that the government just out-and-out hates us.

Department of Injustice

You may remember the case a couple of years ago where the "Justice" Department took four Detroit-area men to trial on terrorism charges. The men were convicted, but it later was determined that the "Justice" department withheld documents which would have exonerated the defendants, and the convictions were overturned.

Well, it turns out that the "Justice" Department (my quote key is getting warn out by this "administration") knew that their case was weak, so they developed a contingency--a charge of insurance fraud against the same defendants based on an allegedly fraudulent accident claim. AP has quotes from e-mails which indicate that "Justice" was considering using the fraud charges in case the terror case collapsed. The author of the e-mail knew that the fraud charges were puny (the $15000 claim may not have been fraudulent and was never paid), and that pursuing them would appear vindictive.

Nevertheless, after the terror case fell apart, they decided to go ahead with it. One of the defendants plea-bargained, accepting deportation to Morocco:
A second defendant, Ahmed Hannan, recently pleaded guilty in the fraud case and is being deported to Morocco. His lawyer, James Thomas, said he too didn't know about the memos but that it wouldn't change his client's guilty plea.

"He took the position he was not going to fight any longer and he pleaded guilty to his role in the fraud," Thomas said.
The other man charged will stand trial:
''We always felt that he did three years (in prison) on a terrorism case that turned out not to be true. And we are preparing to go to trial on this case and I'll be happy when this is behind him, said James Gerometta, a federal defender representing Koubriti.
"Justice" may not be blind, but it sure is mean.

Goliath, meet David

Flowers, stones, what's the difference?

Iraqis throw stones at a US tank in Baghdad today.

Palestinian boy throws a rock at an Israeli tank in the West Bank, 2002.

Strangely enough, the "leaders" of both Israel and the US pay lip service to their religions which see David as the good guy. But that was 3000 years ago; 9/11 changed everything--or something.

Here's the larger photo from the NY Times:

There were big anti-American protests in Afghanistan yesterday, too. Thanks to all 100 senators, these situations can just get worse and worse for another year and more.

Now THAT's a cartoon!

From Paul Conrad.

If you live in America, you've got two scumbag senators

Because EVERY SINGLE BLOODY ONE OF THEM voted to waste $82 billion more on the criminal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to further restrict our civil liberties besides.

Here's the message I sent to Senators Levin and Stabenow:
I am appalled that you and every other senator voted for the $82 billion to continue the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is NOT supporting the troops--bringing them home immediately is the support they need.

Even worse, the bill contained odious 1984-like provisions leading to a national ID card and deportation of immigrants for the flimsiest of reasons.

Any one of these provisions should have been a deal-killer for this monstrosity. I am truly ashamed of you, the senate, and my country.

From Larry Wright. Wright is a right-wing cartoonist for the Detroit News; I'm always glad to see the occasional areas of agreement pop up.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Circular Firing Squad

LA sheriff's deputies fired 120 rounds after cornering an unarmed man on Sunday. He had been joyriding around the neighborhood in his SUV, apparently on drugs. The cops started chasing him, but he wouldn't stop. When they finally cornered him, they started shooting. He was hit four times, and one of the deputies was hit by the crossfire as well. This was all on a narrow residential street in Compton--bullets went through windows and into walls. Amazingly, no one else was hurt.

I guess they're asking the questions now.


The Senate's vote on the Iraq-war-funding/Real-ID/border-fence bill. I guess if you put enough rotten ideas into one bill, you can get EVERY senator to vote for it.

What the $%^&#@** are they thinking??
Kennedy said "the so-called Real ID immigration provisions" are "highly controversial, harmful and unnecessary."

But the legislation still passed with a 100-0 vote.

"While this bill is imperfect, it has many important provisions that our soldiers cannot be denied," Kennedy said.
Bush is a bully, Teddy. Stop feeding him money for his wars--that's the most important provision for the soldiers. And if you'd vote against it, there's a chance it might be rewritten as a better bill!

What a sick country this is.

Airline employees screwed again

From the Washington Post:
A bankruptcy judge last night approved United Airlines' request to terminate its pension plans, clearing the way for the largest corporate pension default in history and setting the stage for a possible strike by the airline's flight attendants.
Last July, Joseph Kay at the World Socialist Web Site wrote a good article about this mess. The gist of it is that, as usual, the working people are getting screwed while the rich people are getting richer. Because of United's bankruptcy, many of its long-time employees will probably end up trying to file for bankruptcy, only to find out that Congress has closed that door to sub-millionaires.

At least the Washington Post covers this story, which has a major and immediate financial impact on tens of thousands of current and former United employees, as well as some 44 million Americans currently covered by defined-benefit pension plans. Other airlines and massive corporations like General Motors may soon follow suit.

Combined with the bankruptcy bill and the assault on social security, it appears that it is now official government policy that there be millions of old people starving on the streets of America by 2020.

REAL IDiotic

Congratulations, Amerika! We are one big step closer to being a police state. Yesterday the Senate passed a bill giving aWol $82 billion MORE to continue the destruction of Iraq. What's worse, attached to the bill was the "REAL ID" act. (The Village Voice explains the many things wrong with this huge step towards a national ID card.) What's even worse, our Congress is so spineless that they refused to oppose the bill BECAUSE it was attached to the $82 billion Iraq boondoggle.

One possibility raised by "REAL ID" is that states will go to using RFID chips in driver's licenses. This would make your location trackable anyplace that has an RFID reader and when you're carrying your driver's license. Welcome to Oceania, Mr. Smith.

Stay out of small planes AND away from open windows

And maybe send signed photos of you holding the latest newspaper every day to all of your friends and the media, with a note saying that you love life and have no intention of ever killing yourself. If you think you're in any way a possible threat to the ruling powers, you'd be wise to make it as difficult as possible to blame your death on you, because there seems to be a lot of that going on.

Michelle is linking the stories of three "suicides" in the past couple of years. The most recent one was Edward von Kloberg III, who fell to his death from a castle in Rome on May 1.
A legend of sorts in public relations circles, he counted as clients Saddam Hussein of Iraq; Samuel Doe of Liberia; Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania; and Guatemalan businessmen who supported the country's murderous, military-backed government.
Von Kloberg expressed no ethical concerns about his work, saying people such as Hussein were U.S. allies at the time.
According to Rigorous Intuition, "the CIA's declassified assassination manual advises that 'the most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface.'"

The other "suicides" occurred in late 2003. State Department official John Kokal, who was found dead in a window well beneath the State Department building. According to Wayne Madsden, Kokal "was involved in the analysis of intelligence about Iraq prior to and during the war against Saddam Hussein." And a few weeks later, a former neocon colleague of Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz named Gus Weiss, fell to his death at the Watergate complex. He had apparently turned against his old pals and opposed the Iraq war.

Yes, accidents and suicides happen. And many people who have embarrassed our "leaders" or blown whistles on their crimes--Scott Ritter, Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, Michael Moore, etc. are very much alive and free. Of course, their deaths would make headlines, while those of Kokal, Weiss and von Kloberg didn't--at least not big ones. Like Gary Webb, they had a combination of incriminating inside information and relative obscurity that has frequently proven to be deadly.

Holy Toledo!

Not to be out-stupided by the faithful in Chicago and their Underpass Virgin Mary, a couple in Toledo claims to see Jesus in an in-utero ultrasound image:

I dunno. I think it's Jerry Garcia:

Just a clue for the clueless--the bible, as originally written, was NOT illustrated. (It's also not really a book, but a heavily-edited compilation of books, but that's a much bigger post.) Nobody knows what Jesus or Mary looked like.

(via Bob Harris)

My tutor in Togo

Last summer, I was looking for a Spanish tutor. I found an ad in the Ann Arbor Observer, and was soon meeting twice a week with Shayna Liston, a woman from Saline and recent graduate of the University of San Diego. Shayna is very nice and intelligent, and an excellent tutor. Unfortunately for me, she had signed up for the Peace Corps, and left for the West-African nation of Togo after only a couple of months of lessons. She put me on her e-mail list, so I got occasional updates from Togo. But I haven't heard from her since the coup in Togo in February, which has been followed by unrest and some violence. So I decided it was time to find out how she's doing--I googled her.

So I find out from a February 24 article in the Saline newspaper that the coup had little impact on the remote village where Shayna is, and she was doing well. Another article linked by the Peace Corps seems to indicate that Peace Corps volunteers are pretty safe. I hope so!

Here's the picture of Shayna playing her guitar in Togo that was in the Saline paper:

[Update] The WSWS has an article today about the recent election and associated violence in Togo.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


As a followup on my last post, the AFL-CIO's Working Families network has an easy way to tell your congresscritters to oppose CAFTA.

Cheap Labor! Get yer cheap labor here!!!

Three Central American slave traders, posing as presidents of their countries, showed up in Miami Monday to push for DR-CAFTA, the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement. Like NAFTA and the WTO, DR-CAFTA would be a race to the bottom, pitting American workers against destitute Latin-American workers who have no labor or environmental protections to speak of. American corporations would be freer than ever to exploit the resources and labor of this region of the world that they've been raping for over 100 years already. Years of financial and military meddling by the US government have resulted in these slave-trading "leaders" who came to visit Jeb Bush yesterday--Guatemalan President Oscar Berger, Ricardo Maduro of Honduras and Enrique Bolaños of Nicaragua.
Chuck Cobb, chairman of Florida FTAA, Inc., which is lobbying to have Miami named as the headquarters of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, called CAFTA approval critical to that effort.

"There will not be an FTAA and there will not be a headquarters in Miami if CAFTA does not pass," Cobb told the luncheon, which included many supporters of the FTAA effort.
Two excellent reasons to oppose it! There is plenty of opposition to CAFTA in Congress; contact your Congresscritters and tell them that NAFTA sucks, CAFTA would suck worse, and FTAA would be a black hole of suckiness.

Or put it in your own words.

Thanks, Dena, for the link!

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Greenway

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours on a walking tour hosted by the folks pushing for an Ann Arbor Greenway. I've been generally supportive of the effort to build a continuous park and path alongside the Ann Arbor Railroad right-of-way which runs north-south through town, passing about three blocks west of the heart of downtown. We looked at several of the city-owned lots which would become a part of the greenway--a parking lot and two maintenance yards for city vehicles, which are already scheduled to be abandoned for that use in a year or two.

Mayor John Hieftje, who as far as I can tell is sort of a fence-sitter on this subject, joined the group for the walk. The Mayor is a very friendly, soft-spoken guy who seems to really enjoy being mayor, and who knows a lot about the city. His comments on the greenway and the properties being considered were interesting, but I was particularly interested in several comments of a more general nature that he made. I wasn't taking notes, so these quotes aren't exactly verbatim, but I think I remember the gist of them well enough to quote him:
  • On the state of funding in coming years: "There will be very little state or federal money available for a long time, probably twenty years." He suggested to one of the greenway proponents that they get a particular grant application in to the feds "before Bush figures out those grants are there."
  • On making Ann Arbor a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly city: "If we could get the level of biking and walking that they've got in Boulder and Madison, we could save having to build three or four parking structures."
  • When someone on the tour suggested that the greenway might become a magnet for homeless people, the mayor said "We don't want to kick anyone out of the parks." He tempered that a bit by stating that the city will continue to enforce a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol in parks, but it was good to hear him speak of homelessness as a problem to be solved, not to be gotten rid of.
  • He suggested to the greenway organizers that they be more flexible about the uses of the city properties, since they are currently asking that all three properties become strictly park land. Since two of the properties have buildings which may be usable and desirable, demolishing them for more parks in a city which already has many might not be the best answer. He mentioned that the Kiwanis Club was interested in one of the buildings on one of the maintenance lots. The Kiwanis holds a big second-hand sale every Saturday morning which raises thousands of dollars for local charities. This particular building would double their floor space, and greatly increase how much stuff they could sell. (I've had them turn away my donations a couple of times because they don't have enough space.)
  • The mayor is also a big proponent of rail, suggesting that a tighter energy future will bring railroads back into demand. The greenway proposal doesn't really call for tearing up the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks, but it seems to be looking towards a future where they might be gone. The mayor suggested, instead, that the tracks could well serve as a commuter line for the thousands of people in the Whitmore Lake and Brighton areas who come into Ann Arbor every day. He mentioned how stupid it was for a billion dollars to be spent adding on to Detroit Metropolitan Airport without incorporating any rail lines to get people to and from the airport.
I hear complaints about Mayor Hieftje from time to time, but he seems to have his heart mostly in the right place and to be quite competent at his job. I see him around town frequently, at the grocery store, the gym, or just on the street.

Just so you know I don't hate EVERY politician!

Who is seen more places than Jesse Jackson?

A whole bunch of folks who make Terri Schiavo's brain waves seem like a tsunami, even now after her death, think this underpass stain in Chicago looks like the Virgin Mary.

Maybe a closeup will help you see it:

Sometimes I think my life is a bit dull--but how dull must your life be to hang out in an underpass?

Actually, I think it looks more like that guy:

Some quotes from the brain-dead:
"It's a miracle. It's an image of something ... you can't describe it."

"I asked her, 'Please help me with school because I'm having my finals,' but I felt like she was like, 'If you can come to me, I'm going to go to you.'"

"If this is something that is going to help someone have faith, then that's great."

"When you come down here -- that's why I wanted to come down here and see for myself -- when you come down here and you see it, it's real." "It is beautiful."
Wouldn't the Virgin Mary be a bit insulted to be compared to an underpass stain? Bush's re-selection makes more sense now--we're a nation of idiots.

What is Bush's trip really about?

Alexander Cockburn quotes Robert Manning, professor of history at Boston College, who offers a logical explanation:
For Russians, Belorussians, Ukrainians and many Caucasians and Central Asians, like the Jews, World War II was a Holocaust, given the magnitude of the sheer human sacrifice now estimated to range for the former USSR anywhere from 28-35 million war dead. If Israel can mourn the loss of six million of people without having anyone throwing the ongoing plight of the Palestinians in their face, surely Russia and the Soviet successor states have the right to do the same.

There is no Putin problem. The problem is Bush, whose advisors finally realized that it is easier to divide the EU over anti-Russianism than over Iraq. Dividing the EU over Russia is essential to the global strategy of the Republican Party's increasingly powerful and ever more totalitarian Neo-Conservative-Born-Again Ideologues who openly espouse US-Evangelical domination of the world and its resources in the 21st Century. A unified EU that develops close ties to a democratic Russia would prove a potent obstacle to these plans. The real problem of the world today is to manage America's decline while dealing with an ideologically driven US leadership that lives in a world of fantasy and cannot deal with the rise of China and India much less a real European Union no longer under its political control. We should remember that United States never once criticized Yeltsin's dictatorship.

Teaching Tyrants a Lesson

Who knows which way these idiots are going to turn?

WIIIAI hits on the theme I was ranting about on Saturday:
Naturally, [Bush] tried once again to equate the struggle with fascism with the fight against Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. Evidently, they’re both about freedom: "The world’s tyrants learned a lesson: There is no power like the power of freedom and no soldier as strong as a soldier who fights for that freedom." Then, to celebrate the power of freedom properly, he went to Russia, whose Red Army killed 3/4 of the Germans killed during World War II, under the leadership of Josef Stalin.

Harboring Terrorists

Th NY Times puts the Luis Posada Carriles story on its main web page. Posada was pardoned last year by the outgoing president of Panama along with three others who had been convicted in 2000 of plotting to explode a bomb at an international conference in Panama which Fidel Castro was attending. Posada has long been suspected (I thought he had been convicted, but not according to the Times article) of blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976, killing 73. He is also suspected in a bombing in Washington in 1976 which killed a Chilean diplomat and his American aide; Posada has also bragged directly to the Times about bombing a Cuban hotel.

So where is this dangerous terrorist hiding out? Right here in Florida, according to his lawyer. He apparently will request political asylum. If granted, he certainly won't be the first terrorist harbored in Florida--the Times describes the case of Orlando Bosch, who was about to be deported by Bush 41's Justice Department before Poppy himself intervened:
Orlando Bosch, the most prominent face of the violent anti-Castro wing in Florida, said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday in Miami that he had spoken by telephone with Mr. Posada, who, "as everybody knows, is here."

Mr. Bosch, a longtime ally of Mr. Posada's, presented a similar problem for the United States in 1989, when the Justice Department moved to deport him despite resistance from Miami's Cuban-Americans.

The Justice Department called Mr. Bosch "a terrorist, unfettered by laws or human decency, threatening and inflicting violence without regard to the identity of his victims," in the words of Joe D. Whitley, then an associate United States attorney general. Mr. Whitley added: "The United States cannot tolerate the inherent inhumanity of terrorism as a way of settling disputes. Appeasement of those who would use force will only breed more terrorists. We must look on terrorism as a universal evil, even if it is directed toward those with whom we have no political sympathy."

The first Bush administration overruled the deportation in 1990; Mr. Bosch remained in Florida. Mr. Whitley, now general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, declined to comment on the Posada case.
(See this post for more on Herr Bosch.

So while the Bushies continue to claim successes in the "war on terror" because they've arrested some very-high-up guy in al Qaeda or Zarqawi's operation, whom amazingly enough we've never heard of and wasn't on the FBI's most-wanted list, they continue to harbor terrorists of their own in Florida. The entire Bush administration serves as the textbook illustration for the phrase "the pot calling the kettle black." And the "war on terror" is the biggest kettle of BS to come along in a very long time--an all-purpose excuse to start wars, steal our rights, and raid the treasury.

[Update, 10 AM] Eli at Left I on the News has more about Posada and the NY Times' treatment of the story.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

From Andy Singer.

From Bruce Plante.

You want him to go away, but it's so embarrassing when he does

Some quotes from today's NY Times article on Bush's visit to a hotel on Baltic Avenue:
"Look, I fully understand there is a lot of anger and frustration involved in the three Baltics countries about the occupation," Bush said. "I've expressed that to President Putin, but he didn't need me to tell him. He fully understands there's a lot of frustrations and anger about what took place. My hope is that we will be able to move on past that phase of history, the phase that is embracing democracy and free societies."
Of course, I'm completely clueless about the frustration and anger of the Palestinians and the Iraqis about those occupations.
"The American people will never forget the occupation and communist oppression of the people of the Baltics," Bush said.
It would be interesting to see a poll of Americans on that question. My guess at the results? Haven't forgotten the occupation and communist oppression: 2%. Have forgotten: 5%. What are the Baltics? 93% (including Bush, at least until yesterday).

Of course, aWol didn't keep the inanities all to himself:
Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, went further with reporters on Air Force One, saying that the only "true narrative" of World War II is "ours" and that what the Russians "don't like to remember is what they were doing from 1939 to 1941."
You mean supporting the Nazis, like Bush's grandfather did, and not just until 1941? You mean occupying other countries on false pretenses against their will? And ours is the only true narrative of WWII? That the war started with Pearl Harbor, and the war in Europe started with D-Day and ended when US troops liberated the concentration camps? (For the record, the war in Asia started in 1937 or even earlier, depending on how you define it, and the war in Europe started in 1939. The biggest concentration camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka were "liberated" by Russian troops, not Americans.) Russians were killed by the millions and their country ravaged by war for three years, and we're the only ones who know about it? (Actually, we're probably about the only ones who don't.)

We've probably all run across slightly crazy Abe-Simpson-like old men who tell us amazing stories, based partly on things that actually happened to them, partly on things they saw in movies, and partly on pure imagination. That's got to be what our "leaders" seem like to much of the world. The only difference is that the Abe Simpsons are basically harmless, while these maniacs control the most powerful military in the history of the world.

Friday, May 06, 2005

When he's wrong

He's really wrong.
The more democracies on the border of a country, the more peaceful a country will be.
That's from our idiot president.

In the 1930's, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark were all more or less democratic, in terms of having elections and parliaments and so forth. So was their common neighbor, Germany.

Mongolia borders Russia and China, neither renowned for democracy, yet I'm unaware of any wars started by Mongolia in the last century. Jamaica, Barbados, Tahiti, Iceland--they have no countries on their borders at all, democratic or otherwise, yet they manage to make it through one decade after another without feeling the need for pre-emptive strikes.

Does aWol have ANY evidence whatsoever for this claim? Is he suggesting that Mexico and Canada aren't democratic enough, and that's why we keep starting wars?

Really, a person should have at least one percent of a clue before any party considers nominating him for president. That the U.S. is supposedly a democracy (actually many Bush supporters prefer to insist that it's a republic), and aWol is president, is about the worst PR democracy could ever have. (If that's what you get, we'll just hope for better luck from the next coup, thank you!)

Student suspended for talking to Mom in Iraq

COLUMBUS, Georgia (AP) -- A high school student was suspended for 10 days for refusing to end a cell phone call with his mother, a soldier serving in Iraq, school officials said.

The 10-day suspension was issued because Kevin Francois was "defiant and disorderly" and was imposed in lieu of an arrest, Spencer High School assistant principal Alfred Parham said.

The confrontation Wednesday began after the 17-year-old junior got a call at lunchtime from his mother, Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, who left in January for a one-year tour with the 203rd Forward Support Battalion.

Cell phones are allowed on campus but may not be used during school hours. When a teacher told him to hang up, he refused. He said he told the teacher, "This is my mom in Iraq. I'm not about to hang up on my mom."
There's not one single good reason that Monique Bates is in Iraq, and there's not one single good reason why her son shouldn't be able to talk to her whenever she gets a chance (which probably isn't often). What the Cheney is wrong with this country???

Speaking Truth to Power

The father of a British MP killed in Iraq ran against Tony Bliar in his home constituency, and got 10% of the vote. After Bliar's victory in the constituency was declared, the father gave a speech. WIIIAI says that Bliar himself was present to hear it. Here are some excerpts:
Fighting this campaign has not been an easy task for me, but I had to do it for my son Thomas... who was sent to war under extremely controversial circumstances.

If this war had been justified by international law I would have grieved but not campaigned. If weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, again I would have grieved but not campaigned.
I do not claim to be a professional politician, fighting this campaign has not been an easy task for me but I had to do it for my son, Thomas Keys, Royal military policeman, killed in Iraq four days short of his 21st birthday. Sent to war under extremely controversial circumstances.

Tonight there are lessons to be learnt. I have it in my heart that one day the Prime Minister may be able to say sorry. That one day he will say sorry to the families of the bereaved and one say the Prime Minister might be able to visit wounded soldiers in hospital.

Then our campaign will not be in vain and all the people who have given me their vote tonight have sent a clear and resounding message about the Iraq war. Thank you for all the people that voted for me tonight.
I've read several predictions that Bliar will soon be tossed by the Labor Party, which in the parliamentary system is enough to remove him from being prime minister. Let's hope so.

Supporting the Troops

Last week, the Supreme Court denied the appeal of 17 former Gulf War POW's who had sued Iraq because they were tortured when held there as prisoners in 1991. The Bush administration argued that the new Iraqi regime (i.e., the US government) isn't liable for Saddam's crimes.

They got screwed by Bush Sr. by being sent to fight the first criminal Gulf War; then they got screwed by long-time US ally Saddam; and finally they got screwed by Bush Jr.

Oh well. I believe it's part of boot camp for trainee soldiers to respond to the drill sergeants, "Thank you sir! May I have another?" They're trained to take crap because they're going to be fed so much of it.

Been There, Done That

Some MIT students are having a time-traveler convention tomorrow night. I went; it wasn't very good.

Liberation and Subjugation

"If Bush gets out of this, he'll be Houdini."
-- An unnamed administration official, via the NY Times.

Well, he managed to get re-selected after what was probably the most disastrous first term in office of any president since Lincoln, so he apparently has some magical powers. But he continues to push his luck. What the administration official quoted above is referring to is aWol's upcoming trip to Russia, Latvia and Georgia. In Moscow, he will celebrate the 60th anniversary of V-E day, the day when the Russians, assisted by US, British, French, Polish and other forces, defeated Nazi Germany. (I have great respect for my father and the many others who fought the Nazis on the western front from June 1944 through May 1945, but the scale of the fighting on the eastern front dwarfed anything that happened in the west. Some 20 million Russians died in WWII, compared to some 400,000 Americans.)

The problem with this celebration, of course, is that as the Soviet Union "liberated" eastern Europe from Nazi oppression, it immediately re-subjugated those war-torn countries under its own iron fist. Stalin was probably an even bigger bastard than Hitler, if not as aggressive internationally (the USSR held tightly and roughly on to its satellite nations, but didn't aggressively invade distant nations like Hitler and the Bushes did). And both Georgia and Latvia were very reluctant members of the USSR, to say the least: the Soviets occupied Georgia in 1921; Latvia, independent since 1918, was annexed by the Soviet Union in accordance to the Soviet-Nazi agreement (Ribbentrop-Molotov pact) of 1939, when Hitler and Stalin were allies. So celebrating Russia's victory in the "Great Patriotic War" isn't something most Georgians or Latvians are excited about. Since both countries are part of Rummy's "New Europe," aWol doesn't want to offend them by just attending the Red Square celebration, so he's stopping in for his big-bubble visits to both countries. This, of course, may offend Putin and the Russians, who are tired of American encroachments on their territory.

All in all, aWol would probably be better to stay home--this would be a difficult trick for even a good president to pull off.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

From Chris Britt.

From John Deering.

From Andy Singer.

From Jack Ohman.

So maybe they have editors, after all

When I first read the CNN story about the explosions at the British consulate in New York about two hours ago, it included a sentence pretty much like this:
The consulate is on Third Avenue, between 51st and 52nd streets, police said.
Police said??? You've got a photographer and reporters, you've got the Internet--why do you have to report the consulate's location as just something alleged by the cops?

Well, I was too much in a hurry to rant about this then, and I'm somewhat relieved to see that someone has done a little research in the past couple of hours. The sentence now reads:
The consulate is on the 9th and 10th floors of the building at 845 Third Avenue, between 51st and 52nd streets.
Of course, that raises another question about CNN's reporting--their headline states "Blasts at UK Consulate in NYC," not "Blasts at building housing UK Consulate and other offices." While probably the most likely target, given that today is election day in Britain, Mayor Bloomberg's take on it has some merit:
"It is true the British Consulate is in that building, but I don't think anybody should jump to conclusions," Bloomberg told reporters at the scene in midtown Manhattan.
These years of blogging have definitely taught me not to trust the media, especially the headlines. CNN was ridiculously cautious about presenting an easily verifiable fact way down in the body of the article, but their headline screams clearly something which isn't exactly right. From the headline, I was picturing a stately mansion with iron gates and stiff guards and a brass plaque, not a multi-use high-rise office building with the consulate offices nine stories up. But I'll bet that the headline version is all that most people will get today.

CNN's main web page adds to the hype, since there is a smaller headline saying "Other strikes on UK diplomatic posts." My initial reaction was "oh, it's part of one of those al-Qaeda like multiple attacks." But that article only refers to attacks on British embassies and consulates in recent years, not today. So, from what I can gather so far, CNN's headline should be more like what the NY Times has on its main web page: "Two small explosives shattered glass but caused no injuries early this morning at the building housing the British Consulate on Third Avenue."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Kucinich Tells Off Dean

You'd think that with the incredible mess Bush has created in Iraq that Democrats would all be calling for immediate withdrawal of US forces. And they would, if they were indeed an opposition party. Unfortunately, their "leadership," which now includes one-time supposedly anti-war candidate Howard Dean, won't call for withdrawal. But Dennis Kucinich is, and he tells off the Doctor in an open letter:
We can draw no clearer distinction with the President than over this war. He cannot right a wrong (unjustified war) by perpetuating a military occupation. Military victory there is not possible. General Tommy Franks concedes that. The war will end when we say it's over. The Democratic leadership should be pressing for quick withdrawal of all troops from Iraq.

That's what most Democrats want, too. Your performance in the early stages of the primary, and your recent chairmanship of the party, were made possible by many, many progressive and liberal Democrats. It was their hope and expectation that you would prevent the party from repeating its past drift to the Republican-lite center. They hoped that this time the party would not abandon them or its core beliefs again.

Yet you say that you hope the President succeeds. With no pressure exerted from the leadership of the Democratic Party, the past threatens to repeat itself in 2006. We may not leave Iraq or our minority status in Washington for a long time to come.

The Fall Girl

Zeynep at Under the Same Sun has three interesting posts about Lynndie England's plea bargain. It looks as though Miss West Virginia's coaches had to take a timeout to get her to say the right thing to the judge, keeping her sentence short in exchange for not implicating the higher-ups in the chain of command. Boyfriend and fellow torture modeler Charles Graner apparently has thrown a monkey wrench into the military's carefully crafted whitewash.

Warmongering Republicans and the Democrats who support them

John Walsh rips into Al Franken and Air Apologia:
Franken certainly knows that one of the most insidious forms of prevarication is lying by omission. And on the subject of rapid and total withdrawal from Iraq, that is precisely what Franken and most of the rest of Air America Radio do day in and day out:­ omit any mention of the topic. Their attitude to grass roots opposition to the war is the same - bury it. And compared to Franken's favorite topics, that is the ones sanctioned by the Democratic establishment, for example, the corrupt practices of Tom DeLay, the war in Iraq which is laying waste an entire country and claiming tens of thousands of lives, takes a back seat--far, far back.
Air America has turned out to be little more than a mouthpiece for the DNC and one more way to divert the anti-war movement to DNC-approved "issues"­ like DeLay, Bolton and the other trivia that are like so many straws in the wind compared to the carnage in Iraq.

At its heart the war on Iraq is the most carefully and ingeniously orchestrated propaganda effort on record. In this Franken and his ilk play a key role, going just far enough to maintain credibility among the "liberals" they must reach, while diverting attention from the criminal nature of the war and the option of ending it.
Xymphora, in his lengthy discussion of Tony Bliar and the British election, included this sentence:
A Conservative victory as a result of Blair's lies would be a disaster for Britain, and it must be noted that the Conservatives were more in favor of war than was Labour (the Conservatives are simply idiots for turning down such a solid gold election issue).
Sure sounds familiar! I wonder if the Tories and our Democrats have been sharing notes. It took over two years for 57% of Americans to finally realize that the war was a mistake (putting it very mildly). Sellouts like Franken, Kerry and the Clintons are responsible in very large part. With proper opposition, we might have gotten rid of this festering boil of an administration last November.

Tony Bliar--in detail

Blogger Xymphora provides lots of detail about how Tony Blair got the Brits into the war, including the severe arm-twisting performed on Attorney General Lord Goldsmith in order to get an opinion of "legality" for the crime we hanged Nazis for after WWII. Here's one part of it:
In the February 2003 American woodshedding of Goldsmith, he met with no fewer than five Bush Administration lawyers: Alberto Gonzales, then Bush's chief legal adviser; William Taft IV, chief legal adviser to the then Secretary of State Colin Powell; Jim Haynes, chief legal adviser to Donald Rumsfeld; John Bellinger, chief legal adviser to Condoleezza Rice; and then U. S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft. Wow! No wonder he was walking funny when he came back to London. Despite all the free legal advice, he still wasn't able to deliver the clean legal opinion that Blair wanted and the British military insisted upon, which is why he was sent off to be worked over by Lord Falconer and Baroness Morgan (who were then kind enough to write his opinion for him).
Here's my guess at how that visit to Washington went:

Goldsmith: I appreciate the sincerity of you Yanks, but British law isn't the same as U.S. law. Our law is bloody explicit about this; going to war against Iraq is quite out of the question.

Gonzales: Electrodes! Electrodes!

Taft: Slow down, Al. Lord Goldsmith is our ally, after all.

Haynes: Not if he won't support our war, he isn't.

Goldsmith: Oh, bollocks.

Bellinger: I could get Condi to put on her stiletto heels and walk on his genitals.

Gonzales: Yeah! Yeah! Stilettos!

Goldsmith: Bloody hell. I'm not signing.

Ashcroft: Alright, everybody settle down. Say, Lord Goldsmith, would you like to hear my new song? Because you're an ally, I'll sing you the full, uncut version. (Sings) Let the eagle soooooooooar...

Goldsmith: Aaargh! I'll sign! I'll sign!

Gonzales: Can we still do the stilettos?

When the President Talks to God

From one of the listservs I'm on, I just got this video clip of singer Bright Eyes' performance on Monday night's Tonight Show.

More, including the lyrics, from DailyKos.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Bit Slow....

Americans, that is, after decades of assault on our educational system. But it is finally sinking in that spending hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives invading a country on the other side of the world for no apparent reason might not be the best idea: [CNN] Poll: Most in U.S. say Iraq war not worthwhile
Fifty-seven percent of those polled said they did not believe it was worth going to war, versus 41 percent who said it was, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,006 adults.

That was a drop in support from February, when 48 percent said it was worth going to war and half said it was not.
I still feel ill when I think of the macho, gung-ho so-called patriotic BS that was spouted by millions back in 2002 and 2003 supporting aWol's crime. And I still feel a bit woozy to think that, after over two years of being proven completely wrong, 41% are still drinking the Kool-Aid. What is the matter with these people?

Social Security is already trashed

Yesterday, I suggested that worrying about social security may not be worth fighting over because the immense short-term financial problems this country is facing are almost certain to overwhelm any long-term plans. I see that Billmon was thinking the same thing:
For weeks I’ve been shying away from writing about Shrub’s Social Security reform obsession – not because I don’t think it’s important or haven’t been following it, but because the whole thing seems so damned unreal.

Surreal might be the better word. I mean, the discussion is rational as long as it’s kept within the framework of the arcane details of federal entitlement policy. But when you pull back and put it in the context of the global financial situation – and the economic train wreck that I think lies just a little further down the tracks – the whole debate starts to seem about as pointless as a bunch of Austro-Hungarian politicians arguing about the future of the Hapsburg monarchy – circa June of 1914.

In other words, once America finally maxes out on its Asian Express Card, and can no longer borrow 80-90% of the world’s available capital flows on concessionary terms, eliminating the Social Security deficit in the year 2041 is going to go from ranking 4th on Brad DeLong’s list of big macroeconomic problems to about 40th. Whether we will even have a Social Security system could be on the table then – a few decades ahead of the GOP schedule.
Okay, Billmon thought it first, and at greater length, and more coherently. But I didn't know that until AFTER my post.

The whole thing reminds me of the sad story about the mentally-impaired guy who was about to be executed in Arkansas or Texas or somewhere. He asked the guards if he could save some of his last meal for later.

You and what army?

From Juan Cole:
The LA Times makes it more clear than the NYT that the army being tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan has made it impossible for the Bush administration to get up any more wars, against, say, Iran or Syria. Given the perfect mess they have made of Iraq (and Afghanistan has its problems, too), I'd say it is better for everyone that Bush not have an army to dispose of. And maybe his successor will be less of a warmongerer.

Anyway, I think he's found about the only positive there is in being stuck in a quagmire--you're pretty much incapable of getting stuck in another at the same time.

The LA Times story, BTW, is based on an analysis presented by Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The strains imposed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made it far more difficult for the U.S. military to beat back new acts of aggression, launch a pre-emptive strike or prevent conflict in another part of the world, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded in a classified analysis presented to Congress today.

In a sober assessment of the Pentagon's ability to deal with global threats, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers concluded that the American military is at greater risk this year than last year of being unable to properly execute the missions for which it must prepare around the globe.
"It must prepare." What arrogance. The US military has almost never been used defensively--it is usually off "defending" corporate interests by bombing the crap out of people. The rare chances it has had to actually defend this country it has come up short--Pearl Harbor, 9/11. The only real threats the US faces today are because of its "around the globe" mentality. If we would leave other countries and people in peace, they would leave us in peace. It works for Canada, it works for Sweden--they can afford universal health care because they're not paying for quagmires.

From Bruce Plante.

From David Horsey.

Holding Hands

Slate has a big collection of cartoons about W's sucking up to the Saudi's last week. Here's one I didn't see before:
From Clay Jones.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Tony Blair will take the fall for Bush on anything

Headline from the Washington Post: England Pleads Guilty In Abu Ghraib Abuse

So Lynndie goes to jail, while the real crooks, Rummy, Gonzo and aWol, keep running the show into the ground.

So many scandals, so little time...

Between a busy time at work, the start of the soccer season, the solar project, and a couple of minor medical problems, I haven't been able to rant with my usual consistency lately. But rest assured, the world is still falling apart. I'm going to resort to a little meta-blogging here--linking you to a few articles that I've at least read parts of on the latest troubles and scandals.

The endless and growing violence in Iraq: Juan Cole, of course, who also compares 2005 America to pre-civil-war (1991) Algeria in a lengthy post about the Repugs attack on the filibuster.

Ecuador: Michelle links to a Greg Palast article.

Social Security: I'm not really convinced this one is worth fighting over, since I think those promised dollars are likely to be worthless anyway, and no matter what gets changed this year can and probably will be changed again, for better or likely worse, many more times before 2042 or 2075. Still, Paul Krugman points out the sham behind aWol's supposed "progressive" proposal.

Coalition of the Willing: Aznar's already out, Berlusconi's in big trouble, and Brits appear to be actually concerned that Blair clearly lied to them about Iraq. Bob Harris points out that documents have surfaced in the Blair scandal which strongly implicate Bush in out-and-out lying, or would if anyone in the US was paying attention. (Runaway bride, anyone?)

Jeff Gannon: Michelle links to a titillating article about how reporter/prostitute Gannon/Guckert only spent the night at the White House when aWol was at home, that G/G is HIV positive, and that there may be a video out there somewhere documenting what really went on. Sad, really, that rumors of a little gay sex are far more likely to bring the house of Bush crashing down than are allowing the worst terror attack in our history, starting two pointless wars based on lies, bankrupting the treasury, or trashing the Constitution.

Finally, Jerri sends me some links to some articles which suggest that Rummy secretly met with Saddam during his last trip to Iraq, and offered Saddam his freedom in exile in exchange for his making a televised request to the insurgency begging them to stop fighting. This was my response to Jerri:
I kind of doubt that it's true; I'm not sure Rummy is THAT stupid. From a practical standpoint in Iraq, it would just make things worse. I think the insurgency, even the Sunni part, is a lot more about getting the US out than it is about getting Saddam back (or freed into exile). The resistance leaders probably see themselves in charge in the future--not Saddam. And the Shiites would be furious to lose the only good thing they see having come from the invasion.

And from a domestic standpoint? About the only "success" W can claim is "The brutal tyrant is no longer in power." Adding "He's soaking up the rays and counting his oil-for-food money in Barbados" might not go over very well with W's base (although they seem to have an infinite capacity to rationalize anything he says or does). Of course, it would give President Jeb or Frist his own group of Iraqi exiles to feed him lies about the "mullahs" in Baghdad five years from now.

It seems as though all of these articles are based on one source, which may be simply wrong or else deliberate disinformation, perhaps from the resistance. Like I said, suggesting that the US is going soft on Saddam would lose the occupation whatever little support it currently has in Iraq, so this could be just a clever ploy by the "insurgents."

I'll have to check Juan Cole--he'll probably have a good feel for this.
To which I'll add two things: One, Juan Cole doesn't have anything on this, at least yet. And two, I don't think Rummy is THAT stupid, but Bush and Condi are, so maybe they told him to make the offer. Still, it seems like a strategic rumor which was probably placed by the resistance.

Quagmires Accomplished

Two years ago yesterday, aWol strutted about on the USS Abraham Lincoln declaring the war in Iraq over. In fact, the mayhem had hardly begun. Dozens (probably hundreds more if you count the rarely-reported casualties from US guns and bombs) were killed in Iraq this weekend, and people continue to die by the dozens in Afghanistan as well.

Aside from lining the pockets of corporate criminals and getting the idiot-in-chief re-elected, not one thing has been accomplished by either war.