Bob's Links and Rants

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Monday, October 31, 2005

So now experience matters

Harriet's life has been characterized by service to others, and she will bring that same passion for service to the Supreme Court of the United States. I've given a lot of thought to the kind of people who should serve on the federal judiciary. I've come to agree with the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who wrote about the importance of having judges who are drawn from a wide diversity of professional backgrounds. Justice Rehnquist himself came to the Supreme Court without prior experience on the bench, as did more than 35 other men, including Byron White. And I'm proud to nominate an outstanding woman who brings a similar record of achievement in private practice and public service.
--aWol, October 3

Judge Alito has served with distinction on that court for 15 years and now has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years.
-- aWol, today

Unfortunately, Scalito appears to be a dream choice for W's far-wrong base. He's the type the Democrats should definitely filibuster, but you just know that the DINO's like Biden, Lieberman and Clinton won't be willing to put up a fight.

War on terror won--ten years ago

The war on terror will not be won until Iraq is completely and verifiably deprived of weapons of mass destruction.
-- Dick Cheney, December 2, 2002

That's from a long list of quotes Tom Tomorrow compiled documenting the primacy of the WMD argument in the misadministration's buildup to the Iraq war, regardless of what the wingnut revisionist historians try to tell us now.

The Duelfer report, released over a year ago now, confirmed that Iraq had no WMD's since 1995 or even earlier. So why don't we just celebrate VTWAT Day (Victory in the War against Terror) and bring all of the troops home?

Eli's got it

An Administration (and, I might add, a media) really interested in the truth would have launched an investigation not into Wilson, or his wife, but would have instead sent more people to Niger to try to find evidence that they felt Wilson had missed that would prove their case. They would have sent people to Italy to investigate the famous documents, and tried to prove that although they might seem to have been forgeries on their face, they were actually genuine documents. They didn't do any of that, of course, because they knew very well the documents were forgeries and that Wilson was telling the truth, and that there were not just "doubts about the underlying intelligence," in Rice's words, but that for all intents and purposes there was no underlying intelligence.
-- Eli at Left I on the News

Quote du jour

"As long as they're American citizens, they're not going to be forced to go to Arkansas." -- Renee Wizig-Barrios, lead organizer of the Metropolitan Organization, a group helping to organize hurricane victims to protect their rights. (NY Times)


2000 in the rearview mirror

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

I think I loaned out my DVD of that documentary about Hugo Chavez and the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela, and it may have been to someone who reads this blog. If it was you, please let me know ASAP and return the DVD when you get a chance. A woman teaching a course at Wayne State would like to show it to her students. Thanks.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

What they said

Two of the most knowledgeable members of the reality-based community are Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter. They got together for a chat on October 19. A partial transcript was published online on October 26, and I just found out about it today. The whole transcript is definitely worth reading, but I'll tease you with a few quotes:
Hersh: "[M]y own personal view is we have two options in Iraq. Option A, we can get all our troops out by midnight tonight, and option B, we can get them all out by tomorrow night at midnight."
Ritter: "I view that Iraq is a nation that's on fire. There's a horrific problem that faces not only the people of Iraq but the United States and the entire world. And the fuel that feeds that fire is the presence of American and British troops. This is widely acknowledged by the very generals that are in charge of the military action in Iraq. So the best way to put out the fire is to separate the fuel from the flame. So I'm a big proponent of bringing the troops home as soon as possible.

Today's the best day we're going to have in Iraq. Tomorrow's going to be worse, and the day after that's going to be even worse."
Ritter: "[T]he fact of the matter is the United States was never interested in disarming Iraq. The whole Security Council resolution that created the UN weapons inspections and called upon Iraq to disarm was focused on one thing and one thing only, and that is a vehicle for the maintenance of economic sanctions that were imposed in August 1990 linked to the liberation of Kuwait."
Ritter: "[D]isarmament was only useful insofar as it contained through the maintenance of sanctions and facilitated regime change. It was never about disarmament, it was never about getting rid of weapons of mass destruction. It started with George Herbert Walker Bush, and it was a policy continued through eight years of the Clinton presidency, and then brought us to this current disastrous course of action under the current Bush Administration."
Ritter: "I want to highlight that point that Clinton wasn't so good. You know, there's a lot of talk today in the Democratically controlled judiciary committee about going after the Bush Administration for crimes, for lying to Congress, and etc. And I'm all in favor of that, bring on the indictments, but don't stop at the Bush Administration. If you want to have a truly bipartisan indictment, you indict Madeleine Albright, you indict Sandy Berger, you indict every person on the Clinton Administration that committed the exact same crime that the Bush Administration has committed today. Lying during the course of your official duty: That's a felony, that's a high crime and misdemeanor. That's language in the Constitution that triggers certain events like impeachment. So let's not just simply turn this into a Bush-bashing event. This is about a failure of not only the Bush Administration but of the United States of America, and we have to look in the mirror and recognize that, well, all the Bush Administration did is take advantage of a systemic failure on the part of the United States as a whole, a failure that not only involves the executive, but it involves the legislative branch, Congress.

Congress has abrogated its responsibilities under the Constitution, and they've abrogated it for years. Then there's the media, and, yes, we can turn this into a media-bashing event. But you know what? The media only feeds the American people the poison they're willing to swallow. And we the people of the United States of America seem to want our news in no more than three-minute chunks with sound bites of thirty seconds or less, and it can't be too complicated. So what we did is allowed ourselves during the decade of the 1990s to be pre-programmed into accepting at face value without question anything that was negative about Saddam Hussein's regime, and this made selling the war on Iraq on the basis of a lie the easiest task ever faced by the Bush Administration."
Ritter: "Why don't we vote out of Congress everybody who voted in favor of this war?"
Ritter: " Ladies and gentlemen, there's not going to be an elegant solution in Iraq. There's no magic wand that can be waved to solve this problem. If we get out and we have a plan, you know, it's still going to cost 30,000 Iraqi lives. Let's understand that, there's going to be blood shed in Iraq. They're going to kill each other, and we're not going to stop it.

If we continue to stay the course, however, that 30,000 number may become 60,000 or 90,000. At the end of the day, we've created a nightmare scenario in Iraq, and the best we can do is mitigate failure. And that's what I'm talking, and, unfortunately, that's a politically unacceptable answer. People say, no, we have to win, we have to persevere, there has to be victory. There's not going to be victory."
The interview was based on Ritter's new book, Iraq Confidential : The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein. Sounds like a must-read to me!

Friday, October 28, 2005

From Steve Sack.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


NY Times:
Harriet E. Miers withdrew her nomination for the Supreme Court this morning after her selection by President Bush led to criticism from both conservatives and liberals.
We can probably expect aWol to nominate someone sure to please the wingnuts, like Janice Rogers Brown. Then again, he is a petulant little twit, and the right just dissed his surrogate mother (if Barbara Bush were your real mother, you'd be looking for a surrogate too). So maybe he'll nominate someone who will REALLY piss them off. Here's my short list: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Anita Hill, or Dan Rather. Now THAT would be fun!

I got the idea for that graphic from this cartoon by Mark Streeter:

From Pat Bagley.

She's Smithers!

From Jeff Stahler.

From Rob Rogers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Constitution Shmonstitution

Not the Iraqi blueprint for civil war; our own, which is still a fine document, but no longer functions because our government, especially the criminals in the executive branch, ignore it at every opportunity. Ted Rall explains:
Unfortunately for my friend and the United States, impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. Nixon and Clinton faced Congresses controlled by the other party. Because Bush belongs to the same party as the majorities in the House and Senate, nothing he does can get him impeached.
Another Constitutional breakdown, concerning the separation of powers, occurred in June 2004. More than a year after the Supreme Court decided in Rasul v. Bush that the nearly 600 Muslim men and young boys being held incommunicado at Guantánamo Bay were entitled to have their cases heard by U.S. courts, they remain in cold storage--no lawyers, no court dates. The Bush Administration simply ignored the ruling.

"[Bush's] Justice Department," Dahlia Lithwick wrote in Slate, "sees [the ruling] through the sophisticated legal prism known as the Toddler Worldview: Anything one doesn't wish to accept simply isn't true." Because the Founding Fathers never anticipated the possibility that the nation's chief executive would treat its final judgments with the respect due an out-of-state parking ticket issued to a rental car, the Supreme Court has been rendered as toothless as a gummy bear.

The more you look, the more you'll find that our Constitution has been subverted to the point of virtual irrelevance. The legislative branch has abdicated its exclusive right to declare war to the president, who was appointed by a federal court that undermined the states' constitutional right to manage and settle election disputes. Individuals' protection against unreasonable searches have been trashed, habeas corpus is a joke, and double jeopardy has become routine as those exonerated by criminal court face second trials in civil court. Our system of checks and balances has collapsed, the victim of a citizenry more interested in entertaining distraction than eternal vigilance.

Racism alive and well

Lamb and Lynx Gaede, 13-year-old twin white supremacists.
Prussian Blue, a "white power" band now recording its second album, is described as a sinister version of the Olsen Twins, the squeaky clean child actresses of the 1990s. It is attracting more and more fans among young white nationalists.

Lamb and Lynx Gaede, blonde, blue-eyed 13-year-olds from Bakersfield, California, have been entertaining all-white crowds with their music since the age of nine. Lamb plays the guitar and Lynx the violin.

Their songs have titles such as Sacrifice, a tribute to Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, that praises him as a "man of peace who wouldn't give up".

Performing for such groups as the neo-Nazi National Alliance at Holocaust-denial events and festivals entitled Folk the System, the girls execute Sieg Heil salutes while belting out lyrics such as "Strike force! White survival. Strike force! Yeah."

"We are proud of being white," Lynx told ABC News. "We want our people to stay white…we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race."
The twins' first album featured songs called Road to Valhalla and Aryan Man, Awake. They depict a world "where freedom exists for only those with darker skin" and encourage the Aryan man to awake and "turn that fear to hate".

The twins recently came under fire for stipulating that money they donated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina should go to whites only. In a recent interview with the magazine Viceland, they were asked what was the "most important social issue facing the white race right now". They replied: "Not having enough white babies born to replace ourselves and generally not having good quality white people being born."
Smiley-face Hitler T-shirts: the sign of good quality white people everywhere.

Easier than adding actual nutrition to their food, I guess


I had the wrong musical. If you're looking for Fitzmas presents (aka indictments), this is now the song for you:
The sun'll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!

Just thinkin' about
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!

When I'm stuck a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,

The sun'll come out
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya Tomorrow!
You're always
A day
A way!
-- Martin Charnin, Annie

Hurricane Relief

Last week, I posted photos and some info from Keith, an Ann Arborite who spent 18 days recently in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast region. Keith just sent me a more detailed account of his trip, as well as how we all can help. Here is his account in its entirety:
Hello everyone.

Recently I was in the Gulf Coast trying to help the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As some of you know I’m currently unemployed and didn’t have a good reason not to go down and do what I could. I spent 18 days working with a couple of different grassroots organizations (Veterans For Peace and Saving Our Selves (S.O.S.)). As tough as it was to make the decision to make the trip, it is even more difficult to return to the comforts of home knowing there are so many lives still devastated (and will be for years). Some of these people literally sit outside their destroyed homes all day and wait for help from FEMA or the Red Cross (this was over a month after Katrina). They do not have family (as many of us are fortunate to have) to stay with in an unaffected area. Most of their family also lives in the area as well. These people worked for local companies or a family owned business and no longer are employed. What is worse is they have no possibility of finding gainful employment as all local commerce was destroyed. Many of these people were poor and already struggling before the hurricane hit. However, there were many middle class citizens affected as well. The families that made a decent living but lived paycheck to paycheck, they too no longer have any way to not just make a living, but to feed their children. This is the middle class that has viable skills and has put them to use never needing a hand out from the government or anyone else, for that matter.

Now they have nothing. Time to start over. Time to start over in an area (assuming they make the decision to move) they are unfamiliar with and don’t have the friends and family that normally surround them. Local employers may be sympathetic to their plight but have no knowledge of them as a person (as their now defunct community once did) and with the economy the way it is, may not be hiring to begin with. This hurricane didn’t just affect those working at a fast food joint or those that have been propped up by the welfare system. This hurricane turned people’s lives, people just like you and me, upside down and they’re not going to be flipped right side up
anytime soon.

Not sure why I’m writing this email. Maybe to get some of these issues off my chest or to make sure everyone knows that the hurricanes may have come and gone and the mass media has now focused on the more sexy news of the day, but the victims still really need our help. I know every one of us has worked hard to be where we are today, I really do. I simply ask if you haven’t given to the hurricane relief effort yet (and even if you have) please do so immediately. If you were going out for dinner and drinks in the next couple of weeks… don’t. Stay home, make a grilled cheese and buy a six-pack. Take the $50 you would have dropped and give it to someone who needs it. Believe me I understand that is why we all go to work, so we can go out for dinner and drinks, take a vacation, enjoy life. If we could all skip one night out it would make a difference.

Interesting anecdote: Hollie, a 28 year old volunteer, who has been around the world (Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, etc.) caring for those less fortunate, visited a Vietnamese community in Biloxi, MS (the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed nearly through Biloxi and it was the most devastated area I witnessed, literally neighborhoods swept away). Her intent was to scout the area seeking places of worship and other areas in which the locals congregated seeking relief. Upon her search she would stop and talk with community members, listening to their accounts of how they survived the hurricane and what their future plans were. Before she left, she asked if there were any supplies they needed that she could bring back for them the following day. They were surprised and skeptical, but gave her their grocery list (bleach, mops, cleaning supplies and rice). The next day Hollie pulled up to unload the supplies they requested. Most of them stood in shock. The Red Cross had visited their community a couple of different times in the past few weeks doing exactly what Hollie had done the previous day and hadn’t been heard from again. They explained this to Hollie and went on to tell her after their meeting the previous day they never once discussed her return because if the Red Cross wasn’t coming back surely the girl in a mini-van from California wouldn’t return either, let alone with all of the supplies they had asked for. Hollie explained to me, pulling up in that mini-van, looking at all of those bewildered faces was her most gratifying experience of the trip.

Shortly to follow this email I’ll send another with a web address of photos of the trip. Some are of destruction and relief work, others are of volunteers (many of which are now friends) that came from all over the country to help. In many of the photos we were all smiles, having a drink or just goofing around. Some of the work was exhausting, both mentally and physically, and the pictures were taken while trying to unwind.

I’d invite anyone who is interested in donating or learning more to email me or give me a call. Below is the address for donations (both money and supplies). If you do not feel comfortable giving to an organization that’s not nationally recognized, I understand, but do understand this is the most effective way to give directly to those who need it and not to contribute to the bureaucracy of other major relief organizations. If there is a strong interest in donating I would also entertain the idea of again driving down to the Gulf Coast to purchase needed supplies and distributing them to those who need it. In doing so I would verify (receipts and pictures) that your hard earned money was going directly to those who needed it immediately directly from point A to B (instead of getting caught up in red tape and making sure government employees get their cut… point A to B to C to D to E to you get the idea).

Thanks for listening, feel free to forward and take care of yourselves.

Keith (kgroya AT

Saving Our Selves (S.O.S)
Mobile Baptist Sunlight District Auditorium
809 Seminary St.
Pritchard, AL 36610
(251) 377-9691

Attorney General sacked for condoning torture

Unfortunately, not in real life. On ABC's Commander in Chief, President Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis) fired AG Melanie Blackston (Leslie Hope) last night for using torture on a terror suspect.

Discord among the "Torture Nine"

From last Friday's Washington Post, via Bob Harris:
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a staunch opponent of pork barrel spending, tried to block $453 million for two Alaska bridges that had been tucked into the recent highway bill. Coburn wanted to redirect the money to the Interstate 10 bridge across Lake Pontchartrain, a major thoroughfare that was severely damaged during Hurricane Katrina.

Sen. Ted Stevens, the veteran Alaska Republican, was dramatic in his response. "I don't kid people," Stevens roared. "If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state . . . I will resign from this body."
Harris calls it a two-fer; I call it win-win. Getting rid of both the "bridge to nowhere" and the senator from nowhere--that would be almost as good as indictments for everybody in the White House.

If Stevens is even less principled than Coburn, he is pioneering new territory. Both of these idiots voted against the McCain amendment prohibiting torture.

Unfortunately for all of us, most of the rest of the Senate sided with Stevens. Coburn's amendment was voted down 82 to 15. According to the Post, the idea of transferring the money from Alaska to Louisiana was even popular in Alaska:
Many residents of Alaska appear to support forfeiting the bridge money for hurricane relief. "This money, a gift from the people of Alaska, will represent more than just material aid; it will be a symbol for our beleaguered democracy," reads a typical letter to the Anchorage Daily News.

[House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska)], who made sure his state was one of the top recipients in the highway bill, was asked by an Alaska reporter what he made of the public support for redirecting the bridge money. "They can kiss my ear! That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard," he replied.
Listen to yourself, moron.

Rather than kissing Young's ear, I think the voters of Alaska should throw him out on it.

Why 2K?

Why one, for that matter?

2000 dead, and what do you get
Another day older, and deeper in debt
The killing keeps goin' and it ain't stopped yet
We were sold this war by some neocon whores...

Indictment Excitement

Could be!
Who knows?
There's something due any day;
I will know right away,
Soon as it shows.
It may come cannonballing down through the sky,
Gleam in its eye,
Bright as a rose!

Who knows?
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Under a tree.
I got a feeling there's a miracle due,
Gonna come true,
Coming to me!

Could it be? Yes, it could.
Something's coming, something good,
If I can wait!
Something's coming, I don't know what it is,
But it is
Gonna be great!

With a click, with a shock,
Phone'll jingle, door'll knock,
Open the latch!
Something's coming, don't know when, but it's soon;
Catch the moon,
One-handed catch!

Around the corner,
Or whistling down the river,
Come on, deliver
To me!
Will it be? Yes, it will.
Maybe just by holding still,
It'll be there!

Come on, something, come on in, don't be shy,
Meet a guy,
Pull up a chair!
The air is humming,
And something great is coming!
Who knows?
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Maybe tonight . . .
-- Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story

The latest rumor, from The Washington Note:
1. 1-5 indictments are being issued. The source feels that it will be towards the higher end.

2. The targets of indictment have already received their letters.

3. The indictments will be sealed indictments and "filed" tomorrow. [that is, today, Wednesday--ed.]

4. A press conference is being scheduled for Thursday.

It's beginning to look a lot like Fitzmas!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Quotes du jour

Former Reaganite Paul Craig Roberts once again (Emphasis added):
The American people should be terrified by the warmongering ideologues that President Bush has put in charge of his government. The greatest danger that the US faces are the fools in the Bush administration.

Why is Syria being demonized? Syrian troops were part of the US coalition organized by President George Herbert Walker Bush that liberated Kuwait in 1991 from Saddam Hussein. The current head of government in Syria is a mild mannered ophthalmologist who inherited the post five years ago when his older brother was killed in a car crash.

Syria has done nothing to the US and poses no threat to the US. The Syrian government is concerned about Syria becoming unhinged by schisms like the Sunni-Shi'ite schism set loose in Iraq by the incompetent Bush administration.

Why does Condi Rice think the Bush administration has the right to decide who heads the Syrian government? According to news reports, the Bush administration has asked the Israeli and Italian governments to nominate a replacement for the current president of Syria.

A country incapable of choosing a better president than George W. Bush has no business choosing a president for any other country. In place of aggressive interference in the internal affairs of other countries, the US needs to find a competent president for itself.

Maybe we should ask the Italians who they would recommend.

Indict Already!!!!

The above headline represents the views of the management of this blog.

They just love their torture

The Bushies don't just ignore it, don't just excuse it--they push for it. From the WaPo:
The Bush administration has proposed exempting employees of the Central Intelligence Agency from a legislative measure endorsed earlier this month by 90 members of the Senate that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoners in U.S. custody.

The proposal, which two sources said Vice President Cheney handed last Thursday to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the company of CIA Director Porter J. Goss, states that the measure barring inhumane treatment shall not apply to counterterrorism operations conducted abroad or to operations conducted by "an element of the United States government" other than the Defense Department.
McCain, the principal sponsor of the legislation, rejected the proposed exemption at the meeting with Cheney, according to a government source who spoke without authorization and on the condition of anonymity.
Of course, McCain knows that there are always CIA spooks lurking in and around the military, so this exemption would make his amendment mean precisely nothing.

She was against perjury before she was for it

The Washington Post, of all places, responds to recent BS from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Numbskull) by comparing her words from Sunday with comments she made about the Clinton impeachment back in 1999.

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment . . . that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality...

I do think . . . that something needs to be said that is a clear message that our rule of law is intact and the standards for perjury and obstruction of justice are not gray. And I think it is most important that we make that statement and that it be on the record for history.

I very much worry that with the evidence that we have seen that grand juries across America are going to start asking questions about what is obstruction of justice, what is perjury. And I don't want there to be any lessening of the standard. Because our system of criminal justice depends on people telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Did Cheney Cheney himself?

From the NY Times:
I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.

The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration's handling of intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program to justify the war.

Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.
Sinking the Veep from the Deep would be SO sweet. Somehow we've got to get aWol impeached before any of these convictions are final, so he can't pardon these crooks.

From Matt Bors.

From Matt Wuerker.

Rosa Parks, 1913-2005

The Detroit Free Press has a fine obituary. Even though I've lived within 40 miles of her for most of my life, and lived in Montgomery for seven years as well, I've learned things from her obit that I didn't know.

Rosa Parks and her husband had been involved in the NAACP and other civil rights organizations for years before the Montgomery bus incident in December 1955. She didn't actually sit in the "whites only" section of the bus; she sat in the first row of the black section. However, the Jim Crow rule was that blacks had to move farther back when the white section was full, which it was that day. She refused to move and was arrested.
Parks has said one of her biggest regrets is that numerous news stories reported that she refused to give up her seat because she was tired after a day of work. She was not. She was tired of the mistreatment of black people.

"I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day," she said in her autobiography. "I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old the. I was 42. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in."
Parks worked for Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) as a receptionist and assistant from 1965 until she retired in 1988.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I've said it before, so it can't be wrong

Karen Hughes, one of aWol's team of tough, loyal and stupid women, said last week that Saddam Hussein had poison-gassed "hundreds of thousands of his own people." It was pointed out to her that while some claim that Saddam's regime killed hundreds of thousands, only a few thousand of those appear to have been killed by poison gas. Hughes responded:
"It's something that our U.S. government has said a number of times in the past. It's information that was used very widely after his attack on the Kurds. I believe it was close to 300,000," Hughes said when questioned the first time. She added, "That's something I said every day in the course of the campaign. That's information that we talked about a great deal in America."
By saying "information" she means, of course, "lies."

Okay Karen. You're not just a one-off idiot. You're a repeat offender.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

From Andy Singer.

From Matt Wuerker.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Too-much-coffee Woman

Last weekend, I was channel surfing. When I caught the C-Span wave, there was Karen Hughes, former personal assistant to AWOL and now Undersecretary of State for public diplomacy, nervously looking back and forth, deflecting every question like a hockey goalie. This is one scary woman. "Intense" isn't really intense enough to describe it. Today, she was in Indonesia defending the indefensible--the invasion of Iraq:
"The consensus of the world intelligence community was that Saddam was a very dangerous threat," Hughes said days after the ousted dictator went on trial in Baghdad on charges of murder and torture in a 1982 massacre of 148 Shiites in the town of Dujail.

"After all, he had used weapons of mass destruction against his own people," she told a small auditorium with around 100 students. "He had murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people using poison gas."

Although at least 300,000 Iraqis are said to have been killed during Saddam's decades-long rule - only about 5,000 are believed to have been gassed to death in a 1988 attack in the Kurdish north.

Hughes twice repeated the statement after being challenged by journalists. A State Department official later called The Associated Press to say she misspoke. The official, who was traveling with Hughes, spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to talk publicly to the media.
It's not surprising that somebody is this stupid--there are lots of ignorant people out there. But they most definitely should not be running things.

They still need help!

This is Keith:

I met Keith a few weeks ago. He lives about a mile from me. I was planning on going south to help Katrina victims, but I backed out. Keith didn't. He and Ann, a woman from Ohio, left Ann Arbor on September 20, and stayed in the hurricane region until October 7. They arrived just before Rita did, so they had to hide out in a shelter for a couple of days. But they did plenty of good work after that. I had lunch with Keith and his significant other yesterday, and he shared these photos and stories with me:

They spent most of their time down south in Theodore, Alabama, just south of Mobile. They met up with a group of people from all over the country.

[Snarky editor's note] Note the predominance of blue states--California, New York, Massachusetts (Florida, Ohio). [/snark]

They toured much of the devastated area making deliveries. Remember, these photos were taken over three weeks after Katrina hit (this area wasn't hit by Rita).

They also helped out at a distribution center, sort of a free store where victims could come and get what they need:

Along the way, they ran into the VFP Impeachment Tour.

Actually, Keith says the Impeachment Tour ran into them. This bus hit his car--only minor damage.

Before they left the Gulf region, they took a brief trip to New Orleans:

Keith says the need for help is still massive throughout the region. FEMA and the Red Cross are failing to support thousands of people across the region who would have nothing to eat or drink without the continued efforts of basically free-lance volunteers.

Feel-bad story of the day

Repug Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire won $853,000 in the Powerball lottery. To make things worse, he says he doesn't plan to quit his job.

Shaking my beliefs to the core

Strange quote du jour:
I haven’t heard anyone lately saying they want a war with North Korea, for example. And the president was wonderful in that regard during some very tense deliberations over North Korea. He essentially put his foot down: I do not want a war on the Korean peninsula. And that was very helpful.
-- Lawrence Wilkerson, formerly Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a speech Wednesday (via Billmon).

W actually STOPPED a war? Why against that particular member of the axis of evil? The one that seems to actually have nukes? Okay, that's one reason. But another? Perhaps it's because this luney (sic intended) is still calling the shots:

The sleazebag billionaire pervert megalomaniac in the back right is the Rev. Sun-Yung Moon, who is heavily invested in South and North Korea, as well as the Bush family. I learned more about this whacko than I really wanted to know by reading Robert Parry's excellent book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. Why should you care about Rev. Moon? Because he basically OWNS your government.

Still--aWol preventing a war? Pretty amazing stuff, if true.


From Steve Sack.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bringing the Hammer down

(CNN) -- Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader who faces conspiracy and money laundering charges, turned himself in Thursday in Houston, one day after an arrest warrant was issued for him.

DeLay walked into the bonding department of the Harris County Sheriff's Office shortly after noon and was fingerprinted, photographed and released after posting $10,000 bond, sheriff's spokeswoman Lisa Martinez said.
I hope they run those fingerprints through some of the cold cases. This slimeball probably knocked over a liquor store back in his bug-killing days.

Take the test again, Harriet...

The Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers suffered another setback on Wednesday when the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked her to resubmit parts of her judicial questionnaire, saying various members had found her responses "inadequate," "insufficient" and "insulting."
-- NY Times

Fortunately, Billmon has obtained a copy of her original questionnaire (or is it the modified one?--have to ask Scotty tomorrow).

Just go.

From R.J. Matson.


A particularly ugly side of "globalization" and "free trade" is the immigration issue. Official government policy is to stop the flow of "illegal" immigrants:
  • "We’ve got to stop people from coming here in the first place." -- George W. Bush, 10/18/05
  • “We need more brute enforcement,” Chertoff declared. He pledged that the administration’s policy would be one of “return every single illegal entrant—no exceptions.”

However, actual policy is just to make it difficult to get here, and scary enough that undocumented workers won't complain about low wages, long hours, or brutal conditions. As the WSWS points out, there is a split in aWol's base over the issue. The social conservatives (aka xenophobes, religious right, etc.) don't want "those people" here. But the big-money corporate conservatives do want them here, as long as they work hard for very low wages and stay scared. With the Bushies, it is money that really talks. So while globalization, represented by NAFTA, CAFTA and the WTO, makes survival in Mexico and Central America increasingly difficult, the government will continue to make crossing the border difficult and dangerous--but certainly not impossible. This just means that those who do get in will have proven themselves to be strong and resilient--and that they'll be petrified at the prospect of getting caught.

This is an administration that BS's constantly about "freedom" and "democracy." But when it comes to a huge, important part of the country's labor force, they want to make sure that the workers have neither freedom nor democracy. They just want to make sure that there are always enough of them here so that nobody in America can get a decent wage for manual labor. Cheap labor conservatives.

Alliterate alot?

CNN headline: Wobbly Wilma weakens.

Your tax dollars at work

From Josh Marshall, a selection from yesterday's press GAGgle with Scottie McClellan (which seems to have disappeared from the White House web site):
QUESTION: Thanks. Is it true that the President slapped Karl Rove upside the head a couple of years ago over the CIA leak?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Are you referring to, what, a New York Daily News report? Two things: One, we're not commenting on an ongoing investigation; two, and I would challenge the overall accuracy of that news account.

QUESTION: That's a comment.

QUESTION: Which part of it?

QUESTION: Yes, that is.

QUESTION: Which facts --

SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, I'm just saying -- no, I'm just trying to help you all.

QUESTION: So what facts are you challenging?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Again, I'm not going to comment on an ongoing investigation.

QUESTION: You can't say you're challenging the facts and then not say which ones you're challenging.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Yes, I can. I just did. (Laughter.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Fall color tour

It was a perfect fall day today--I took the digital camera out for a walk:

Look! This guy has some funny shiny shingles on his roof!

Alien civilization detected:

Signs of language:

Strange metal conveyances:

Back to the real world:

The path goes on:

All the News that's Fit for Profit

Jonathan at A Tiny Revolution explains corporate media:
The mainstream media does a FANTASTIC job. Day in and day out, they turn in an extraordinary performance at what they exist to do. And that is to make as much money as possible.

Of course, in terms of helping people learn about the world, they are an eternal catastrophe. But why would we ever expect any different? The mainstream media is made up of gigantic corporations. Like all corporations, they manufacture a product, which is their audience. They sell this product to their customers, which are other huge corporations.
I was thinking this when I read this statement by the perspicacious Digby:
This [the Judith Miller hoo-ha] is at its essence about a toxic political culture. The press has abdicated its responsibility to hold the powerful accountable.
I almost always think Digby is right about everything. But here's the thing: the press doesn't HAVE this responsibility. Gigantic corporations, by law, have one and only one responsibility, to make as much money as they possibly can. Sure, they pretend they carry the awesome burden of holding the powerful accountable, just like Wal-Mart pretends it's deeply concerned with the well-being of its employees. And in fact, some New York Times managers may even believe they are engaged in the Unending Fight For Etc., Etc. But that doesn't change the fact that if the need for huge profits ever conflicts with holding the powerful responsible—and it will, constantly—you really shouldn't wait up. Later, Digby wrote this about the talented Ms. Miller:
How on earth does someone this vapid become an "expert" on national security issues for the New York Times?
Again, a huge corporation like the New York Times pretends—even to itself—it wants someone smart, hard-hitting, etc. to cover national security issues. But in reality, it selects for vapidity.
There's more, although I've stolen most of it. I guess Judy and the Times didn't sell the war to the public--they sold the public to the warmongers.

New toy

For the past few days, I've been using the Google Reader to browse my favorite blogs and to grab news items on topics of interest. In conjunction with Google News, it has helped me find articles I wouldn't have found otherwise. I just set up a custom news page at Google News, using search phrases "peak oil," "solar energy," "water," and "Ann Arbor." I then clicked the RSS feed link on my customized news page and pasted the link into the reader. Voila! Now I get more news on my favorite topics than I can read!

Tell Congress to support the McCain Amendment

From the ACLU:
In a stunning vote, the U.S. Senate has chosen the rule of law and blocked torture and prisoner abuse by our government. Voting 90-9, the Senate backed a proposal from Senator John McCain (R-AZ) that bans the use of torture and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading practices.

The McCain amendment now faces an all-out attack from the Bush Administration as it heads to the House of Representatives.

You can help preserve human dignity, support the Senate’s overwhelming majority, and make sure this amendment becomes law. Take action now to stop the government from using torture and abuse.
Go here to send the message.

Tangled web

Justin Raimondo connects a lot of dots concerning "Bulldog" Fitzgerald's investigation. It's a lot more than just outing a spook. A central figure appears to be neonut Michael Ledeen, who first came to my attention four years ago with this quote, which was frequently mis-attributed to Richard Perle:
If we just let our own vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to be clever and piece together clever diplomatic solutions to this thing, but just wage a total war against these tyrants, I think we will do very well and our children will sing great songs about us years from now.
As Raimondo points out, Ledeen never lets facts get in the way--he continues to call for regime change in Iran, Syria, and more.

The invisible hand at work

From the NY Times:
"It's not just getting an earlier start on the Christmas season, it's getting to shoppers before they see their first heating bills, while the weather is still good," said Candace Corlett, a principal at WSL Strategic Retail, a consulting company in New York.

"The smartest thing a retailer can do is get consumers to buy now, because they have the cash now," she said. "Not only is there the fear of higher fuel prices later, but if we're hit with a very cold November or December, that would really scare shoppers."
Not a word in the article about how many people may freeze to death on Christmas morning clutching their toys, jewelry and gadgets.

Pat Buchanan on the war

Buchanan gives aWol too much credit, claiming that it is W's naive faith in democracy that got us into Iraq and keeps us there, rather than a combination of greed, stupidity, megalomania and pure evil, which is basically what I think Bush is all about. Nevertheless, Buchanan has some solid arguments against W's standard talking points:
Nathan Brown, a Mideast expert at the Carnegie Endowment, agrees: "The democratic process as it has worked so far [in Iraq] has certainly done nothing to undermine the insurgency."

But the most sweeping challenge to President Bush's faith-based war comes from F. Gregory Gause III in Foreign Affairs. Writes Gause: "There is no evidence that democracy reduces terror. Indeed, a democratic Middle East would probably result in Islamist governments unwilling to cooperate with Washington."

Not only does democracy offer no guarantee against terror, writes Gause, democracies are the most frequent targets of terror. Not one incident of terror was reported in China between 2000 and 2003, but democratic India suffered 203. Israel, the most democratic nation in the Middle East, endured scores of acts of terror from 2000 to 2005. Syria's dictatorship experienced almost none. While Saddam's Iraq was terror-free,* democratic Iraq suffers daily attacks.

Researching 25 years of suicide bombings, scholar Robert Pape found the leading cause was not a lack of democracy, but the presence of troops from democratic nations on lands terrorists believe by right belong to them.

*Pat seems to have forgotten about Iyad Allawi and his ilk of CIA-backed terrorists, who blew up theaters, buses and offices in the mid-1990's. I think he also ignores the very real aspect of state terror. Saddam's behavior in 2002-2003 in no way justified the massive, bloody, and ongoing invasion which followed, but that doesn't mean that he and his security forces weren't terrorizing some Iraqi citizens (just as "coalition" forces are terrorizing them now on a much larger scale).

I don't think that either Bush or Buchanan are committed to democracy. But at least Buchanan is honest about it, and points out the obvious fallacies in Bush's democracy BS.

Don't do it!

Defenselink caption: "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrives in Beijing Oct. 18 to meet with Chinese officials. Greeting him at the airport are Gen. Xiong Guangkai, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, and U.S. Ambassador to China Clark T. Randt Jr."

Gen. Xiong apparently doesn't recognize that look on Rummy's face, or what it means:

More suicide squeezes than the St. Louis Cardinals

Category Five--Again

(CNN) -- Hurricane Wilma jumped from a Category 2 to a dangerous Category 5 storm in mere hours Wednesday, with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph -- and possibly the lowest recorded barometric pressure, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.

Gov. Jeb Bush said Floridians must be thinking, "Why us?"

God hates vote fraud, Jeb.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Peak oil on page 1 of USA Today

As global demand rises, American consumers will find themselves in a bidding war with others around the world for scarce oil supplies. That will send prices of gasoline, heating oil and all petroleum-related products soaring.

“The least-bad scenario is a hard landing, global recession worse than the 1930s,” says Kenneth Deffeyes, a Princeton University professor emeritus of geosciences. “The worst-case borrows from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: war, famine, pestilence and death.”

He's not kidding: Production of pesticides and fertilizers needed to sustain crop yields rely on large quantities of chemicals derived from petroleum. And Stanford University's Amos Nur says China and the United States could “slide into a military conflict” over oil.

Any technology can be used for evil

The CIA now has rugged solar/wind generators that can be parachuted into remote locations.

Via Polizeros.

Talking points in action

The second bullet?

Salon has an article on detection of tularemia in Washington on September 24, the day of the big anti-war march. The government says that nobody ended up with a case of tularemia, but Salon isn't so sure:
Mike Phelps, 45, says he attended the rally in Washington that day, traveling round trip by bus from Raleigh, N.C. On Sept. 27, he came down with a fever, sore throat and headache. Within days, he was coughing up dark phlegm. When he blew his nose, it would bleed. "It was gross," he says. "I literally vomited out cup loads of phlegm. Most of it was dark-colored. I've never had anything like this before."

Phelps' doctor said he had pneumonia and prescribed antibiotics. A few days later, Phelps read about the tularemia scare and called his doctor. His doctor told him that if it was tularemia, he would have prescribed him the same antibiotics. Phelps says he called the CDC but was transferred to an automated system. Frustrated, he hung up.

Several members of the women's peace group, Code Pink, also from North Carolina, who attended the march, say they got sick afterward. Stephanie Eriksen, a 46-year-old network engineer for AT&T, says she developed swollen glands and cold symptoms in her throat and chest. She developed a persistent cough that still lingers. "My throat has still not recovered completely," she says. Eriksen says her 14-year-old daughter marched in Washington and got sick. She was tested for strep throat. Eriksen said the results were negative.

Aimee Schmidt, a Code Pink member and student at North Carolina State, says that she developed flu-like symptoms and a raging headache that lasted three days after the march. She says her eyes hurt and her whole body ached. She never went to the doctor. "I made a choice, wise or not, to just deal with it," she says.
The government's response was Katrinish--public health officials weren't notified until six days later. What actually happened is left to conjecture--was it a terrorist act from the supposed external enemy, or maybe from an internal one (like the 2001 anthrax attacks)? Perhaps terrorists were just testing the system, seeing if the bioweapon sensors actually work.

Here's my theory, in which I don't have a lot of confidence: There wasn't any tularemia there. The reports are the actual act of terrorism, a threat to the anti-war movement that the government is ready to get as serious as necessary to keep us in line. Like the second bullet in Garry Webb's "suicide," it's a message just subtle enough for the corporate media to ignore. As Salon admits in the article, the chances of a few people out of 200,000 coming down with something nasty a few days after the march are pretty high. Since the symptoms of tularemia are apparently not terribly distinctive, easily diagnosed as flu or pneumonia, whether or not tularemia was actually released on the mall just hangs there, an unanswered question. Releasing the reports, like vague reports of possible terror attacks, just raises the fear--which is the key element of terrorism, no matter who does it. In addition, actually releasing tularemia on the Mall might have killed some pals of the Bushies--John Roberts or Dennis Hastert, for example (aWol himself was out of town, as usual). This way, they put that nagging fear into everybody's head without any real evidence available to confirm or deny it, and without any actual bodies to get rid of.

Again, I'm not placing any big bets on my theory. But the only thing we actually KNOW in this case is that the government announced that tularemia was detected in Washington on September 24. Maybe everyone in the government performed his or her job in a totally proper fashion--except for one spook who sprayed a little bit of tularemia into the bioweapon sensors.

"A very significant water event"

The city of Taunton, Massachusetts is apparently about to go all Ninth Ward, as last week's record rainfall threatens to break the 100-year-old Whittendon Pond Dam.
"I've got my fingers crossed that this thing is able to hold," Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told a news conference at Taunton's city hall. "There is every prospect that it will give way and we'll have a very significant water event."

How many floods will it take til you know, that too many cities have drowned?

In case you've been wondering, the Rapture Index currently stands at 159. According to the web page, anything above 145 is "Fasten you seat belts."

Late-night humor

I gave up watching late-night talk shows a long time ago, and except for the Daily Show I haven't picked up the habit again. But Jay Leno and others have apparently been doing a fine job of skewering the Bushies recently. Past Peak has a good collection of late-night one-liners. Example:
Interesting woman this Harriet Miers. She used to be a Democrat, and then she found God and became a Republican. Which is kind of backwards, because usually in Washington you become a Republican, get indicted, go to jail, then you find God. — Jay Leno

Some Democrats are coming around

Cyndy's keeping track of the buggers. Dick Gephardt says "It was a mistake ... I was wrong," about his Rose Garden capitulation to Bush in 2002 and his vote for the Iraq war. And Dennis Kucinich, who caved on his fight for an anti-war plank in the Democratic platform last year, and then supported the worthless John Kerry, says this time he won't support a pro-war Democratic nominee.

Why can't we get this message across--that Joe Biden and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton and John Edwards just need to go into a hole and repent their sins for the next couple of decades, and leave the Democrats to nominate someone who says what everyone knows--the war was a crime based on lies, and we need to get out ASAP? Good guys like Kucinich and Conyers get it, even Dick Gephardt and Al Gore get it. But the Dem shills like those over at MoveOn spend half their time pretending to oppose the war, and the other half supporting pro-war candidates. The 2002 Iraq war vote was an act of immense cowardice. The Congresscritters must have known that Bush was lying to them--but most of them voted for disaster anyway. The war was and is a crime and a huge mistake costing tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Bush is most to blame, but every Congresscritter who voted for it shares the blame, and should be run out of Washington on a rail. They certainly shouldn't be considered qualified to be president.

Oooh....Ahhh....Workin' on the

Quote du jour, from Joe Cannon:
Ponder, if you will, the surreal spectacle of a newswoman claiming that she went to jail to protect a source whose name she now cannot recall. Some witnesses ask for amnesty; Judy hopes to be granted amnesia.
WaPo says today that Cheney's Office Is A Focus in Leak Case. I'll confess that I'll probably have the biggest case of schadenfreude EVER if Useless Dick gets frog-marched off to Gitmo. Like Billmon, I can feel it, although his feeling is probably more solidly grounded in fact, while mine is largely hope.

And just think--with the Veep from the Deep in jail, impeachment becomes safer! Dennis Hastert for lame-duck pResident!!


American-style democracy

NY Times:
Ballots from provinces around Iraq began arriving by helicopter and airplane into Baghdad today, as electoral officials pushed forward with an investigation into the voting that took place last Saturday for a new constitution.

The officials say they are looking into "unusually high" vote tallies in favor of the constitution in 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces. The provinces in question are dominated by Shiite Arabs or Kurds, who make up about 80 percent of Iraq and who are generally determined to enshrine the constitution, to the opposition of many Sunni Arabs.
Don't worry--the Iraqi parliament and their American bosses have changed the rules and the constitution several times since they sort of approved it back in August. New rule number 704: "The constitution doesn't have to be adopted to be adopted."

The Giant Sucking Sound

The pundits declared a major victory in the assault on labor, with yesterday's announcement that GM would cut health care benefits for workers and retirees by 25%. Detroit Free Press columnist Tom Walsh rejoices that GM and the UAW have "stopped living in Fantasyland," while his colleague Susan Tompor notes that Wall Street cheered the deal, causing GM's stock to rise 7.5% yesterday, despite announcing a $1.6 billion loss for the third quarter. What they're all cheering is the death of decent wages and benefits for blue-collar workers.

Fortunately for the GM bosses, the pundits, and the politicians, lots of people, including the victims, have drunk plenty of globalization Kool-Aid:
"I think all of us are nervous, but we know the global economy is changing and we have to adjust."

-- A GM accounting department employee
Of course, the pundits aren't going to declare victory and go home--no, they want more, always:
The measures announced Monday are a good start at reducing costs, but they don't go far enough and don't address major risks ahead for GM, Wall Street analysts said.
The whole system is broken--a giant corporation dedicated to making things we don't need (and that may actually be killing the planet) struggles to figure out how to keep going. But the general consensus seems to be that it will all work out if only the workers get screwed enough first.

Insurance in a nutshell

From Steve Kelley.

From J.D. Crowe.

From Mike Keefe.

Ha ha!

From Steve Sack.

From Boondocks.

That reminds me of a Doonesbury cartoon from the early 1970's. Viet Cong soldier Phred, who had befriended long-time Doonesbury character BD, decides to take a vacation from the war. He takes all his money to the airport and asks at the counter where he can go on that much money. The clerk tells him "Cambodia." So he goes to Cambodia and takes tours of ancient temples. He asks the Cambodians he meets about the "secret bombing of Cambodia" by US planes in 1969. They all tell him "Secret? What secret? The planes come, the bombs fall, BOOM! Everybody knew about it! Weren't no secret."

The Very Bad Idea

Tom Tomorrow chronicles the history of The Very Bad Idea (at Salon--ad-viewing required).

Monday, October 17, 2005


Watching the baseball playoffs between the Cards and the Astros, coming from the Field formerly known as Enron in Houston. The wide-angle view from center field shows perhaps the worst parents ever--George H. W. Bush and his horrible wife Barbara. Big fans of the Astros, apparently. Go Cards!

I'll repeat my paraphrase of Trent Lott from a few years ago (read my lips): "If the Navy had left George H. W. Bush to the sharks after his plane crashed in the Pacific, we wouldn't have had all these problems." His father was a war criminal, his son is a war criminal*, he himself is a war criminal: trifecta!

*His other sons suck too.

Cannot accept

What would Wilfred Owen make of the invasion of Iraq? A bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of International Law. An arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public. An act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading--as a last resort (all other justifications having failed to justify themselves)--as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands upon thousands of innocent people.

An independent and totally objective account of the Iraqi civilian dead in the medical magazine The Lancet estimates that the figure approaches 100,000. But neither the US or the UK bother to count the Iraqi dead. As General Tommy Franks of US Central Command memorably said: "We don't do body counts".

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery and degradation to the Iraqi people and call it " bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East". But, as we all know, we have not been welcomed with the predicted flowers. What we have unleashed is a ferocious and unremitting resistance, mayhem and chaos.

You may say at this point: what about the Iraqi elections? Well, President Bush himself answered this question when he said: "We cannot accept that there can be free democratic elections in a country under foreign military occupation". I had to read that statement twice before I realised that he was talking about Lebanon and Syria.

What do Bush and Blair actually see when they look at themselves in the mirror?

I believe Wilfred Owen would share our contempt, our revulsion, our nausea and our shame at both the language and the actions of the American and British governments.
-- 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Harold Pinter.

Patently absurd

Dean Baker at MaxSpeak argues that patent monopolies on drugs are not only costly and inefficient, but that they could end up killing millions.
Those of you who like to prepare for potential crises in advance, rather than waiting until after the fact (i.e. not FEMA), may have been following the debate over dealing with a potential outbreak of the Avian Flu, also known as the Bird Flu, since it is spread by poultry. One of the key issues is whether the government should be stockpiling large quantities of Tamiflu, the drug deemed most effective in combating Avian Flu.

The major obstacle to large-scale stockpiling is that the drug is under patent by Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company. Roche has limited manufacturing capacity for Tamiflu, and would charge a high price in any case. Roche has been pressured to license the manufacture of Tamiflu to other companies, but has thus far resisted this pressure. Roche, with the support of the pharmaceutical industry, has claimed that forcing it to license Tamiflu would reduce incentives to develop new drugs. It has also claimed that the manufacturing process is so complex that it would take 2 years for other companies to get facilities up and running in any case.

It turns out that the claim on manufacturing complexity is not accurate. The Indian drug manufacturer, Cipla, determined how to reverse engineer the drug in two weeks and is now prepared to begin making a generic version of the drug available in January. (For those not familiar with Cipla, it is one of the world’s largest producers of generic drugs and its products routinely meet the highest safety standards.) So, we are left with the prospect that millions of people in the United States could risk death because our government does not want to infringe on Roche’s patent monopoly.
Just for the record, the U.S. government already spends $30 billion a year on biomedical research, primarily through the National Institutes of Health. Everyone (including the pharmaceutical industry) claims that this is money very well spent and the appropriation always enjoys deep bi-partisan support. Why shouldn’t we believe that if we doubled this appropriation, to replace the $25 billion that the drug industry claims to spend on drug research (two-thirds of which goes to research copycat drugs) that we would end up with at least as good progress in developing drugs as what we have at present?

And, if the research funding all took place upfront, then the patents could be placed in the public domain. This would allow all drugs to be sold as generics. It would reduce drug prices by approximately 70 percent, saving approximately $150 billion a year. Half of these savings would go to the government (mostly through paying less for the Medicare prescription drug benefit), which would more than recoup its additional spending on drug research.
That's just the highlights. Baker explains the concept in detail.

A New Pearl Harbor

The Navy has just installed 309 kilowatts of solar panels on one of its buildings at Pearl Harbor.

Fool us twice...

I will not make the mistake of supporting another pro-war Democrat for president again...

Sixty-nine of our best and brightest have been sent meaninglessly and unnecessarily to their premature deaths since I met with Mrs. Clinton on September 22nd.
We all know that Sen. Clinton, along with many other Representatives and Senators voted to give George Bush the authority to invade a sovereign nation that was no threat to the USA.
-- Cindy Sheehan

The Democratic shills over at MoveOn are still pretending to be anti-war (they've got a Support Cindy link--which no longer works). But just like they did in 2002 and 2004, the MoveOn-niks are still raising funds for Dumbocrats who voted for the war. Their Early Support for Candidates in HOT Races page features three Dems--two of whom voted for the war in Iraq, and one, Bob Casey (PA) who apparently has no position whatsoever on the war. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida voted for the war in 2002, and now apparently has absolutely nothing to say about it. Former Rep. Nick Lampson of Texas also voted for the war, although he now says it was the right vote considering the wrong information he was given, and adds this touch of BS:
Our troops have sacrificed so much to provide safety and security to our nation. As a country, we have an obligation to fulfill the promises that we have pledged to the American military. We must provide our men and women in uniform with the resources necessary to successfully continue the war on terror and provide for the defense of this nation. And we cannot forget that how the families of our troops are treated here at home affects the morale of our troops overseas.
None of these candidates is worthy of our support. MoveOn is only pushing them now because of their likely opponents: Rick Santorum, Katherine Harris, and Tom DeLay. But this is still 2005--the primaries haven't been held yet. Let's get the warmonger Dems out now! Not only is the anti-war position the right one, it is the best one for getting those three Repug slimeballs out of Congress.

It's a shame to see that not only is MoveOn still supporting any Democrat, no matter how bad, but they've also still got the worst system for feedback imaginable. Don't be fooled--if you want to oppose the war, don't rely on Democratic front groups like MoveOn and Council for a Livable World to work on your behalf (CLW is currently endorsing Senators Carper (D-DE) and Lugar (R-IN) who voted for the war). They supported warmongers in 2002 and 2004, and are doing so again for 2006.


From Bruce Plante.

From Mark Cohen.

Bankruptcy Extortion

Delphi's recent filing for bankruptcy apparently was sufficient to get the UAW to cave in to GM on health care, knowing that GM held the bankruptcy card and could screw the workers out of even more:
DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers have reached an agreement that will help the automaker lower its health care costs, GM's chairman and CEO said Monday.

The announcement came as the world's biggest automaker said it lost $1.6 billion in the third quarter and said it was considering selling a stake in its financial arm in a bid to restore its investment grade credit rating.

The tentative agreement on health care is projected to reduce GM's retiree health-care liabilities by about 25 percent, or $15 billion, and cut GM's annual employee health-care expense by about $3 billion, CEO and Chairman Rick Wagoner said. Cash savings are estimated to be about $1 billion a year.
And will be realized in increased illness and death. [Sarcasm]But hey, workers in Whereverstan are willing to work 160 hours a week for 2 cents an hour with no benefits at all, so you gotta compete.[/sarcasm] Keynes said, "In the long run, we're all dead." Well, the long run keeps getting shorter.

Colorado wins Solar Decathlon

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman today announced that the University of Colorado took overall honors in the 2005 Solar Decathlon on the National Mall. Cornell University placed second, and California Polytechnic State University finished third.
"We should all be proud of what these students have accomplished," Energy Secretary Bodman said. "Through their ingenuity, their knowledge of design and engineering, and an incredible amount of determination and hard work, they have demonstrated that we can have it all beautiful homes, comfortable homes, and homes that produce all the power they need."
"Therefore, President Bush has decided to bring the troops home from Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti, and to cancel the crony contracts to 'rebuild' Iraq and New Orleans. The hundreds of billions of dollars saved will go towards enabling the mass production of these houses. Since several of these designs could be manufactured for around $100,000, the $200 billion we would have spent on Iraq alone in the next three years will provide two million new energy-independent houses for America, along with tens of thousands of jobs. Full or partial subsidies to purchase these homes will be given to hurricane victims, the long-term homeless, and wounded veterans of our foreign misadventures. While the new homeowners will of course be permitted to locate the houses where they desire, we intend to provide incentives for these homes to be located as infill or replacement housing in high-density mixed-use environments in order to guarantee that the energy saved by these houses will not then be wasted by excessive driving. We also intend to hire the students involved in designing these houses to come up with designs for more efficient apartments, offices, shopping areas, and other buildings, in order to move our nation as quickly as possible to an independent, sustainable energy future."

Unfortunately, Bodman only said the first part, not the part in red. That would make WAY too much sense for any Bushie.

From Ted Rall.

From Boondocks.

"Coalition" forces kill 70 voters insurgents

An hour ago, the CNN headline read "Iraq forces kill 70 insurgents." That was apparently so patently absurd that they have now changed the headline to "70 dead in strikes on suspected insurgents." The article starts of saying it was "coalition" forces that did the killing, although it mentions no involvment by anyone in the operation except US jets and helicopters. As usual, anyone killed by this massive firepower is termed an "insurgent" or "terrorist." The people who came 8000 miles for no legitimate reason to bomb the crap out of the place are supposedly the good guys.
Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, director of the Combined Press Information Center, said great care is taken in coalition operations to avoid civilian casualties.

"We do careful targeting to insure minimum civilian casualties in the areas that the insurgents are operating. Targets are continually vetted to insure that we are hitting the proper and intended targets.

"As many know, the terrorists/insurgents have used urban areas and civilians as human shields. We are determined to go after them wherever they hide," he added.
When Boylan says "careful targeting," he really means "careful counting," making sure that every dead body is labelled an "insurgent."

By the way, Condiliar thinks that some unknown version of the supposed constitution "has probably passed." She was immediately contradicted by a State Department spokesman:
[M]inutes after Rice made the comments, a State Department spokesman said Rice also wanted to emphasize that "we don't know" how the referendum will turn out.

Spokesman Sean McCormack said Rice had talked to Khalilzad after the press briefing, and her later clarification that the final outcome was unknown was not backtracking from her earlier assessment.
Of course, you've got to get up awfully early to be the stupidest member of this administration:
President Bush hailed the Iraqi referendum vote, saying Sunday the apparently strong turnout and decrease in violence from the last election were signs of "progress toward peace."

"This is a very positive day for the Iraqis and as well for world peace," he said. "Democracies are peaceful countries."

Bush said the referendum "stands in stark contrast to the attitudes and philosophy and strategy of al Qaeda and its terrorist friends and killers."
I know he's had plenty of practice saying ridiculous things, but how can he say "Democracies are peaceful countries" without cracking up and choking on his pretzel? The US, a supposed democracy, has invaded three countries in just the past five years, and threatens half a dozen others. It spends far more on war than any other nation. Since he's been so heavily involved in this, you'd think that at least these pieces of information would have penetrated aWol's bubble.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sprawl: A symptom of the common code

Responding to the Hartford Courant's series of articles on sprawl that I mentioned last week, a Connecticut architect points out that sprawl isn't always, or even mostly, the fault of evil developers. Zoning codes, frequently created by one-size-fits-all code publishers and then adopted all over the country, almost uniformly require development that is too low in density, and too high in streets and parking, to allow the low-energy, pedestrian- and transit-friendly development that we really need and lots of people want.

Unfortunately, given the existing politcal climate and the fast-approaching energy crisis (Kunstler's "Long Emergency"), I'd say that the chances of an orderly transition to sensibly dense urban environments are slim. People are too invested and addicted to sprawl, and will hold on until it is far too late (which may be the case now). I don't really expect many of us to see the day when millions of Americans are living like this:


Instead, I suspect it's going to look more like this:

Or maybe a distinctly American form of slum:

Friday, October 14, 2005

From Tom Toles.

Billmon weighs in on the Z-to-Z letter

When you put the possibly phony letter together with the probably phony bomb threat, and the administration's dire need to scrape the last few spoonfuls of public support out of Shrub's terrorism mojo jar, you do have to wonder who is fooling whom here. Disinformation -- not to mention outright forgery -- have already played critical supporting roles in the Iraq tragedy. Is it unreasonable to suspect they've returned to the stage again?

Auto Sales Crumble

Detroit Free Press:
In the first nine days of October, retail consumers bought 33 % fewer new cars and trucks than they did in the same period a year ago, the Power Information Network in Westlake Village, Calif., reported early today. PIN tracks data from more than 10,000 dealerships in North America.

Largest budget deficits on record

From AP:
2004 -- $413 billion

2003 -- $378 billion

2005 -- $319 billion

1992 -- $290 billion

1993 -- $255 billion
At the start of all five fiscal years, a "man" named George Bush was pResident. Only in FY '93 was someone else able to mitigate the damage. And it's not like they ran up these deficits to do good things!

Solar Decathlon

Solar Decathlon 2005 is on the Mall in Washington right now! Here are the entries:

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo:

Concordia University (Montreal):

University of Colorado:

Cornell University:

Designed to be produced as manufactured housing, with a target cost between $50,000 and $100,000.

Crowder College:

Florida International University:

Universidad Politecnica de Madrid:

University of Maryland:

University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth:

House will be donated to Habitat for Humanity after competition.

University of Michigan:

University of Missouri, Rolla:

New York Institute of Technology:

Uses a hydrogen fuel cell instead of batteries.

Pittsburgh Synergy:

Universidad de Puerto Rico:

Rhode Island School of Design:

University of Texas:

Virginia Tech:

Washington State University:

There's a lot more about these houses here, including links to the web sites for each house/project. I've been hoping that the U of M would win this, but the competition looks fierce (and I'm afraid they finish dead last in the sketches provided for the overview, although Pittsburgh's is pretty lame as well--photos of models always look tacky). From a purely aesthetic viewpoint, I like the Concordia, Cornell, Madrid, Massachusetts, Missouri-Rolla and Puerto Rico designs best. While the need to transport the houses is a positive in terms of possible conversion to mass production, it does have the downside that it prevents any use of earth sheltering. A few of the houses are intended to be hooked up to ground-source heat pumps once they reach their permanent locations.

Hugo Chávez!

Cheap Labor Conservatives

It probably is not possible any more to graduate from high school and expect to have a middle class life. That's the reality. Otherwise, those workers are, indeed, competing against workers in countries where the standard of living is much, much lower.
That's from Washington Post columnist Steve Pearlstein, writing in an online chat on Wednesday. The discussion dealt mostly with the Delphi wage cuts and bankruptcy. Unfortunately, Pearlstein is probably right--IF you accept his assumptions. Those assumptions, which are either stated explicitly or implied throughout the chat, include:
  • Free market capitalism is the best way to run things.
  • Unfettered global competition is not only inevitable, but actually good.
  • The United States will not adopt universal health care.
  • Greedy unions demanding decent wages and benefits for their workers are to blame for all of the auto industry's problems, not greedier executives demanding and getting outrageous salaries and golden parachutes.
If we accept all of that, then we probably have to accept what Pearlstein said above, along with the idea that eventually everyone will be working 80-hour weeks for $1 an hour or less (except, of course, the CEO's). But Pearlstein, believing those assumptions, sees the days of high wages and benefits as a problem and a big mistake:
The implications of that is that if all industries paid higher wages to their workers, they would increase the demand for products produced by American companies, and--voila--everyone would be richer. In fact, that's economic nonsense. If every company was unionized and paid higher wages, all it would create in the end is inflation, and nobody would be better off. There are only two ways to get richer in a market economy. One, is to distort labor and product markets in a way that makes you richer at the expense of someone else. The other is to figure out how to work more productively. And in the golden years of the unionized industrial unions, alot of the gains were of the first sort rather than the second.

In short, the generous wage and beneits negotiated by the unions back then were only possible because the companies operated in uncompetitive markets that allowed them to overcharge their customers and get away with it.
Pearlstein, like all of the cheap-labor conservatives who dominate our corporations, government and media, PREFERS the situation where workers are scrambling for minimum-wage jobs to the bad old days when one high-school-educated wage earner could support an entire family--on just one job! Oh, the horror of it all.

The system is broken, and the only way to fix it is to question and even outright reject the assumptions above. Global competition may be good for business (read CEO's and shareholders), but it is very bad for people. Almost anything we make or grow or do here in Michigan can probably be made, grown or done cheaper somewhere else, no matter how many college degrees we have. (And that would be true for any place on earth.) By following Pearlstein's and the globaloneyists' logic, we should probably just shut down the state and give up (which has already been done in Flint, pretty much).

For a better option, check this out from Dave Pollard. Shorter Dave Pollard: No state, region or country should import anything that it can reasonably make itself, even if it costs more.

PS: Here's another take on Pearlstein's chat.


From NBC via Cyndy.

It's almost a shame we didn't have a recall election last year instead of a head-to-head between Gilligan and Lurch. After debates between two loser Yalies saying pretty much the same thing, one in short words and grammatically-incorrect sentences, the other in big words and run-on sentences, it's not that hard to see why a lot of people voted for Gilligan. But, on his own, would people have really agreed that this moron should be pResident, especially given his already-proven record of failure?

Of course, as California showed us, a recall to get rid of a corrupt, incompetent leader doesn't mean that he would be replaced by someone less corrupt or incompetent. Although in W's case, it would have been really, really difficult to find someone more corrupt or incompetent.

Juan Cole thinks the Z-to-Z letter is a forgery, too

Here. For a Sunni-to-Sunni letter, it strangely uses Shiite phrasing, and ignores the meager and adversarial history between Zawahiri and Zarqawi. Cole concludes:
My gut tells me that the letter is a forgery. Most likely it is a black psy-ops operation of the US. But it could also come from Iran, since the mistakes are those a Shiite might make when pretending to be a Sunni. Or it could come from an Iraqi Shiite group attempting to manipulate the United States. Hmmm.
See my post from yesterday. Also, Eli at Left I on the News has been following this story suspiciously from the beginning.

Supreme Court Nominees for $2000

The answer is: "Jeopardy champion Bob Harris' opinion on the Harriet Miers nomination." Beep! What is:
I have spent my entire adult life watching the nation I grew up believing in being increasingly overrun by a lunatic cult which believes in things like an "invisible hand" magically transforming millions of people acting purely out of self-interest into an engine of responsible long-term societal planning.

Which, if you haven't yet noticed, is insane.
Harriet, as far as I can tell, is not only in the cult, but one of the people knocking on doors at 7 am with an armful of literature.
I'd say letting somebody like this onto the court without a fight is the worst alternative of all.

From Ted Rall.

Come join us in the quicksand!

It has been calculated that if everyone in the world lived like Americans do, we would require several additional planets to support them. Massive vehicles driven massive miles, giant homes using lots of heat and electricity on large lots requiring lots of water and mowing, high-meat diets requiring far more land than vegetarian diets do, plus tons and tons of nearly useless consumer crap purchased continuously on credit--our lifestyle is only possible because we are stealing resources from the past (oil, coal), the future (deficits, pollution), other countries (oil, cheap labor), and our own (outsourcing, low wages, environmental destruction). The planet is screaming in protest.

So why is our Treasury Secretary trying to convince another 1.3 billion people, one-fifth of the world's population, people who are and will increasing be in direct competition with us for remaining scarce resources, to be consumers just like us? From the NY Times:
Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, touring this village in the Sichuan province to promote "financial modernization," urged China on Thursday to take lessons from the United States on how to spend more, borrow more and save less.

Mr. Snow argued that China's consumers and entrepreneurs are badly in need of financial sophistication offered by American banks and investment banks.

As he wandered through a thriving farmers' market and a traditional rural credit cooperative, Mr. Snow said that with better credit, Chinese families would be able to spend more money, buy more goods and perhaps reduce China's huge trade surplus with the United States.

"Good credit facilitation and consumer finance is going to help consumers buy more things," Mr. Snow said.

"We see consumerism and consumer credit as going directly to the thing we have most on our minds - the global imbalances."
This is so mind-numbingly insane that I can only figure that Snow is trying to make the war in Iraq appear less crazy by comparison. Any government more concerned with "global imbalances" than with global survival is insane, criminal--Republican. American-style consumerism and credit isn't the cure--it's the disease. John De Graff, David Wann and Thomas H. Naylor have even given the disease a name--Affluenza, which is a book you really should read if you haven't already. (Just thinking about the chapter on how the 30-hour workweek was rejected in favor of more stuff still makes me mad!)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Gore in '08?

Arianna suggests that Hollywood Dems are sick of Hillary's right-wingnut posturing, especially on Iraq, and are pushing Al Gore as the hope for 2008. Definitely a step in the right direction.

Here's an interesting part of the article:
One major party donor, who is supporting Hillary even though he is against the war, told me that Clinton had assured him that she, too, was "against the war" but believed that there was no way a woman could ever be elected president while being against the war. "She is convinced," the donor told me, "that she'd be attacked as soft on defense and unable to deal with national security and the war on terror. And I think she's right. I'd rather she be anti-war, but I can't argue with her reasoning."
Well, then, that donor's an idiot. If Hillary's willing to have tens of thousands of people die violent deaths in a criminal war just to get herself elected, she really doesn't deserve the title "woman," or "human," for that matter. Besides, we've already got a pResident like that. There are lots of women who would make great presidents--especially those who would be "soft on defense." THAT's what the country and the world need. Women like Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, and I'm sure many others. But no woman who supports mass murder because she thinks it is the only way she can get elected deserves our consideration. Hillary is not the solution--she's a huge part of the problem. I sincerely hope that New Yorkers will find a strong anti-war candidate, preferably a woman, to defeat Hillary soundly in next year's primary and run her out of her carpetbagging Senate seat, killing her presidential hopes. Get Floridians to run Jeb out, too, and maybe we'd have some hope for '08. (Although maybe by then Americans will finally have learned the most basic and obvious lesson in American politics: "Bushes suck!") Cynthia McKinney vs. "Freedom Fries" Jones? It would certainly be interesting!

Inspiring the world

Condiliar went to Afghanistan:
"Afghanistan is inspiring the world with its march toward democracy," she said here, just hours after insurgents fired three rockets into downtown, wounding two Afghans.

The same morning, two gunmen on a motorbike ambushed a medical team on its way to a refugee camp in Kandahar Province, in southern Afghanistan, killing two doctors, a nurse, a pharmacist and an administrator, Afghan officials said.

That attack followed two major ambushes of police officers on Tuesday, some of the worst violence against Afghan personnel since the Taliban was defeated in 2001. Eighteen policemen were killed in the first attack, an ambush on a police convoy in Helmand Province. Then six more policemen were killed on Tuesday night in an ambush in the south, in Oruzgan Province.
It doesn't get any more inspiring than that.

Can I hear an "Amen!", Brother Zawahiri?

From CNN:
Al Qaeda in Iraq said Thursday a letter purportedly from Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a fake, according to a statement on several Islamist Web sites.
Responding to al Qaeda in Iraq's denial, a spokesman for the U.S. director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, said top officials in the U.S. government are confident the letter is real.

The spokesman said the letter was "verified by multiple sources over an extended period of time."
Yeah. That's the same lie they told about Iraq's alleged WMD's.

CNN was making a big deal of this almost certainly phoney letter a few days ago. Look at the synopsis from Negroponte's office:
Among the letter's highlights are discussions indicating:

* The centrality of the war in Iraq for the global jihad.

* From al Qa'ida's point of view, the war does not end with an American departure.

* An acknowledgment of the appeal of democracy to the Iraqis.

* The strategic vision of inevitable conflict, with a tacit recognition of current political dynamics in Iraq; with a call by al-Zawahiri for political action equal to military action.

* The need to maintain popular support at least until jihadist rule has been established.

* Admission that more than half the struggle is taking place "in the battlefield of the media."
Exceeding convenient, to say the least. Consider some of the BS aWol was saying last week at the National Endowment for Democracy:
  • "The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror."
  • "Some observers also claim that America would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now. This is a dangerous illusion."
  • "Some observers question the durability of democracy in Iraq. They underestimate the power and appeal of freedom."
  • "By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress -- from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the writing of a constitution, in the space of two-and-a-half years."
Amazing how it matches point for point! Zawahiri's alleged letter was supposedly sent July 9, but Negroponte, a scumbag liar going WAY back, releases the translation of the letter on October 11, just days after Bush gave his NED speech claiming the exact same crap.

What a surprise

AWol's little chat with the troops was staged.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution.


[I]n his speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, President Bush gave a vivid and, I believe, compelling description of the threat to America and to freedom from radical Islamic fundamentalism. He made, in my view, a powerful case for what is at stake for every American.

Simply put, the radical fundamentalists seek to kill our citizens in great numbers, to disrupt our economy, and to reshape the international order. They would take the world backwards, replacing freedom with fear and hope with hatred. If they were to acquire a nuclear weapon, the threat they would pose to America would be literally existential.

The President said it well. The President is right that we cannot and will not retreat. We will defend ourselves and defeat the enemies of freedom and progress.
You can read my thoughts on aWol's NED speech here. But what Repug lickspittle uttered the nonsense above? Bill Frist? Tom DeLay? Pat Robertson? Rush Limbaugh?


Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE). Supposed presidential aspirant. Biden was quoted by Werther (pen name of a Northern Virginia-based defense analyst), in a Counterpunch article highlighting the total complicity of the Dumbocrats in all of the Repug foreign policy disasters. Werther starts with this quote from Huey Long:
Corrupted by wealth and power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They've got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen.
Werther concludes with this:
[A]ll calumny by Karl Rove to the contrary, the Democrats can hold their heads up high. They are a pillar of the National Security State. As for the American people, if they have a shred of intelligence or self-respect left, they will find themselves another restaurant.

To which I'll add: Just say "NO!!!!!!" to pro-war Democrats. No Biden. No Hillary. No Kerry. No Edwards. NO WAY.

From Matt Bors.

From Pat Bagley.

From Dana Summers.

From Matt Wuerker.

From Etta Hulme.

From David Horsey.

From Jeff Parker.

From Mike Keefe.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Only cold where it counts

Looks like Winnemucca, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona will have warmer winters:
However, Boston and New York City are facing a cold one, with natural gas and oil prices way up. Map from AccuWeather.

America's first nation-building exercise

And 183 years later, a man is running for president using this slogan:
"Did he kill your ma? No!

"Did he kill your pa? No!

"Vote for George Weah!"
Now there's a man running on his record! (Via WIIIAI)

If I had a hammer...

WIIIAI covers aWol's latest photo op.

And what is Laura doing back there?

Bill Gates

Mr. Microsoft came to campus today, recipient of an award given by the University. I went to hear him talk. He mostly spoke about all the cool new toys they're working on--laptop wi-fi cellphone X-Box PDA slicers and dicers, and the various types of software going into them. He talked a bit about how much fun it is to work for Microsoft, and showed a little video featuring a bunch of UM grads who work there now. Yes, he does continually push his glasses back up on his nose! I could afford lasik but he can't?

Basically, he just seems to be one very happy geek. I know that many people, like my brother, are not happy with how Gates made his billions and what he has done to the computer and software industries. On the other hand, he is being generous with his billions. He donated the $10,000 honorarium that comes with the award to help students from Tulane and other schools shut down by Katrina who are now studying at Michigan.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Just hoping this becomes relevant soon...

The line of succession for the presidency:
  1. Vice President (Richard B. Cheney)
  2. Speaker of the House of Representatives (J. Dennis Hastert)
  3. President pro tempore of the Senate (Ted Stevens)
  4. Secretary of State (Condoleezza Rice)
  5. Secretary of the Treasury (John W. Snow)
  6. Secretary of Defense (Donald H. Rumsfeld)
  7. Attorney General (Alberto Gonzales)
  8. Secretary of the Interior (Gale Norton)
  9. Secretary of Agriculture (Mike Johanns)
  10. Secretary of Commerce (Carlos Gutierrez, ineligible)
  11. Secretary of Labor (Elaine Chao, ineligible)
  12. Secretary of Health and Human Services (Michael Leavitt)
  13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Alphonso Jackson)
  14. Secretary of Transportation (Norman Y. Mineta)
  15. Secretary of Energy (Samuel W. Bodman)
  16. Secretary of Education (Margaret Spellings)
  17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Jim Nicholson)
I post that because of this from the Huffington Post:
The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are working on stories that point to Vice President Dick Cheney as the target of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name.
Jim Nicholson for pResident!! Indict the rest!!

Pretty scary how many of them are directly involved in promoting and/or protecting torture: Stevens, Rumsfeld and Gonzales for sure. (Stevens was one of the torture nine.)

Still a mess

From a photo tour of the Gulf Coast at Michael Moore's web site.
The entire coast of Mississippi is flattened. I know that everyone has heard this on the news but until you see it for yourself it doesn't really make sense. Hopefully the pictures I took will give you some idea but let me tell you the no picture does this justice.

It looks like the apocalypse. It looks like a bomb went off and it covered 200 miles of land. It looks like this is a region that will be affected by this disaster not just for a year or two or three but possibly forever. One thing that it doesn't look like is America.

The majority of the American people DO NOT understand the level of devastation that has taken place here. If they did, then they would know that the death count is totally ridiculous. Look at these pictures and then tell me that only about 300 people died in Mississippi. It's just simply not true. I have heard reports of bodies or body parts that were carelessly cleaned up with the rubble. These poor souls will never be counted and are unfortunately lost.

Up, up and away!

From the LA Times:
Straining to find ground troops to maintain its force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has begun deploying thousands of Air Force personnel to combat zones in new jobs as interrogators, prison sentries and gunners on supply trucks.
As part of the effort, more than 3,000 Air Force personnel are being assigned new roles. And they are being dispatched to combat zones for longer tours of duty — as much as 12 months rather than four.
Funny--doing crummy Army jobs doesn't seem to be mentioned at the Air Force enlistment web site ("We've been waiting for you"). Note to military-age youth--avoid ALL recruiters!

Time to negotiate the American way of life

Via Polizeros, I learn that the Hartford Courant is running a series of articles on suburban sprawl in Connecticut. A lengthy editorial leads it off. Excerpt:
Sprawl may bring the dream houses that some people want, but it comes at a cost only slowly being appreciated. Sprawl carries the expense of building new infrastructure and the waste of the old. It diminishes open lands that support agriculture, water supplies, wildlife habitat and the traditional visual character of the Connecticut countryside. It promotes driving and fuel consumption and increases the cost of services. It isolates poor and senior citizens, and limits housing variety.
Sprawl kills! Stop it!

Quote du jour

USA Today reported that gasoline sales are down fifteen percent. They said high gas prices are wiping out cigarette, candy and soft drink sales. There's a risk everyone could live to a hundred and bankrupt the entire Social Security system.
--­ Argus Hamilton, via Polizeros



Via The Oil Drum, I learn about Syriana, a movie starring George Clooney, coming out in December. See the trailer here. The film deals with foreign oil and corruption, and has its own activist web site. Aside from the trailer, I can't find out much more about the movie. It sounds interesting.

I recently watched Clooney's Three Kings again, a magnificent movie highlighting the stupidity and hypocrisy of the Gulf War and its aftermath. I've only seen two of the few movies about the Gulf War--Three Kings and Courage Under Fire, an absolutely worthless piece of trash starring Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan (sorry Meg!). After 2 1/2 years of Gulf War II, I understood "Three Kings" much better than I did the first time, especially the abandonment of the Shiites by Bush I after he incited them to rise up against Saddam.

From The Oil Drum I learn that there are two other recent oil crisis movies: The Deal, starring Christian Slater, and Oil Storm, which apparently was shown on the FX cable network back in June. Guess what that was about? From the web site:
Oil Storm examines what happens when a Category 6 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico slams into Louisiana, crushing the city of New Orleans and crippling the vital pipeline for refined oil that is Port Fourchon. It examines the ripple effect of that event and the ensuing cascade of disasters associated with it...

As the country reels from the loss of life and energy reserves associated with the hurricane's fury, the price of crude oil skyrockets...

As gas lines quickly begin and the price per gallon passes three dollars, the government reaches out to our good friends in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, to increase its oil production. However, the decision by the Saudi's to help the Americans inflames an already unsteady Muslim population in that country already emboldened by the continuing challenges of the war in Iraq. Extremists' interests then commit a terrorist act...
There's more, some it sounding pretty hokey, but still...FX showed a movie just a few months ago about New Orleans and the Gulf oil facilities being knocked out by a hurricane.

The New Pravda at work

Billmon refers to the NY Times as the "New Pravda." In this article, the Times almost does its job, but still backs away, insisting on presenting both sides of the argument--the incorrect one as well as the correct one:
"This is not the time to expand the programs that were failing anyway," said Stuart M. Butler, a vice president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research and advocacy group influential on Capitol Hill.

While the right has proposed alternatives including tax-free zones for businesses and school vouchers for students, Mr. Butler said, "the left has just talked up the old paradigm: 'let's expand what's failed before.' "
Indeed, even as he was calling for deep spending cuts last week, Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, who leads the conservative caucus, called tax reductions for the prosperous a key to fighting poverty.

"Raising taxes in the wake of a national catastrophe would imperil the very economic growth we need to bring the Gulf Coast back," Mr. Pence said. "I'm mindful of what a pipe fitter once said to President Reagan: 'I've never been hired by a poor man.' A growing economy is in the interest of every working American, regardless of their income."

Economic growth is crucial to reducing poverty, but the effect of tax rates is less clear. In 1993, President Bill Clinton raised taxes on upper-income families, the economy boomed and poverty fell for the next seven years. In 2001, President Bush cut taxes deeply, but even with economic growth, the poverty rate has risen every year since.
"Less clear." Sounds pretty clear to me: Butler and Pence just want to "expand what's failed before"--tax cuts.

Actually, this is a case where we could have our cake and eat it too--expand government services AND continue or even expand tax cuts. All we need to do is cut the military budget by about 75%. We'd still be spending more than anyone else, but we might be curtailed a little from fighting stupid, criminal wars. Win-win-win.

The end is here

For what still remains of decent blue-collar jobs in America, it seems. Delphi is using bankruptcy to wrest the remaining decent wages and benefits out of its workers. The WSWS points out that Delphi has been using cheap Mexican labor to screw American workers for the last two decades, and is now using even cheaper Chinese labor to screw the Mexicans.

It is time to revive Conceptual Guerilla's strategy to Defeat the Right in Three Minutes. The key to this strategy is the term "cheap-labor conservative." THAT is what globalization is about, that's what the abandonment of New Orleans was about, it's what the wars are about--it's what Bush is about. Concentrating the world's wealth into the hands of those who already have too much, and pitting everyone else against each other.

Colin Powell--Scumbag Extraordinaire

Jonathan at a Tiny Revolution makes a fairly comprehensive case that General Colin Powell, the supposed voice of reason in aWol's first term, is, was and always will be a lying liar.

To which I'll add: Remember the last 37 days of hope in America, those days when it still seemed possible that we wouldn't be subjected to yet another, and even worse, George Bush as pResident? The Rovians kept claiming, in spite of all evidence, that they had won the election. In early December they trotted General Powell, beloved genocider of the Vietnam, Panama and Gulf War crimes, as their Secretary of State. Powell's calm, articulate manner and completely bogus record as a war hero was played up by the media as evidence that another Bush administration would be run by grownups. When the Supremes overturned the Constitution and gave the election to the loser, there was not nearly enough outrage (and I'll confess I wasn't outraged myself--I didn't like either Bush or Gore, and at the time had no idea how advanced the Repug mafia's agenda already was). For the next two years, they kept up the charade that Powell was the voice of reason, working to restrain the neocons and demanding that they work through the UN. And then, at the critical moment, Powell goes to the UN and LIES, LIES, LIES. For this he should rot in hell for all eternity, as soon as his life sentence at Gitmo expires.


From Boondocks.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Free Trade and an Emerging Revolutionary Planet

An article by Robin Matthews, from Vive le Canada (thanks, Mike!). Excerpts:
Free Trade stands for almost everything wrong on the planet. As the Free Trade noose tightens, more revolutionary activity will occur until the strangling grip is broken completely or until the despotism of obscenely wealthy and criminal oligarchs feeding off an increasingly destitute and dehumanized world population wins its final triumph.

Free Trade is a condition in which dominant industrial power (allied to overwhelming political and military power) arranges the trade of the world to its own advantage while claiming it is participating with equals in an equal exchange of goods and services.

Free Trade has always been advocated and pushed by the wealthiest nations with the highest technological efficiency. Those nations are almost always imperialist powers. An imperialist power is a giant suction pump, pulling the wealth from outside its borders into its own heartland to grow richer and richer.

In order to maintain its dominance and to keep the flow of wealth pouring into its own borders an imperial power builds huge military forces, establishes bases wherever it can, bribes leaders and sets up co-operating dictatorships. Whenever an imperial power needs a war to control markets, it starts a war.
That is why many parts of the planet are moving, now, into revolutionary postures. They know (A) Free Trade is a big swindle, guaranteeing poverty and suffering. (B) Comparative Advantage is a lie. Period. (C) Wealthy capitalists have used the two together as a way of getting a large part of the world’s population into near slavery. (D) The only way out of this destructive entanglement is to fight a way out.
Ross Perot called it a "giant sucking sound," and he was right. The thing is, it sucks for everyone in every country except for those at the very top.

Land of the no-longer free

Paul Craig Roberts:
Americans may be unaware of what it means to be stripped of the protection of habeas corpus, or they may think police authorities would never make a mistake or ever use their unbridled power against the innocent. Americans might think that the police state will only use its powers against terrorists or "enemy combatants".

But "terrorist" is an elastic and legally undefined category. When the President of the United States declares: "You are with us or against us," the police may perceive a terrorist in a dissenter from the government's policies. Political opponents may be regarded as "against us" and thereby fall in the suspect category. Or a police officer may simply have his eye on another man's attractive wife or wish to settle some old score. An enemy combatant might simply be an American who happens to be in a foreign country when the US invades. In times before our own when people were properly educated, they understood the injustices that caused the English Parliament to pass the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 prohibiting the arbitrary powers that are now being claimed for the executive branch in the US.
In the Anglo-American legal tradition, law is a shield of the accused. This is necessary in order to protect the innocent. The accused is innocent until he is proven guilty in an open court. There are no secret tribunals, no torture, and no show trials.

Outside the Anglo-American legal tradition, law is a weapon of the state. It may be used with careful restraint, as in Europe today, or it may be used to destroy opponents or rivals as in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

When the protective features of the law are removed, law becomes a weapon. Habeas corpus, due process, the attorney-client privilege, no crime without intent, and prohibitions against torture and ex post facto laws are the protective features that shield the accused. These protective features are being removed by zealotry in the "war against terrorism."

From Steve Benson.

Time for an SUV buyback program

How not to spend tens of billions of dollars on hurricane relief? Just watch what the Bushies do--billions in no-bid contracts, waive labor and environmental regulations to make sure that the contractors only have to spend a little to pretend to do the work while pocketing most of the money for themselves and their shareholders, and doing little to stimulate the economy as a whole or to address homelessness, global warming, or energy shortages.

Is there a better way? Of course. Here's a rough, back-of-the-envelope idea for you. What is needed in hurricane ravaged areas? Housing, water, power. What does this country have way too many of? Gas-guzzling SUV's. Now, take a look at the interior of a Ford Expedition:

Room to sleep two adults easily, probably with at least one child as well. An Expedition also has a 300 horsepower motor, which equals 224 kilowatts of power--enough to run 10 households at a reasonable level of comfort, or a lot more on a subsistence basis. The power could also be used to pump water or run power tools. The vehicle would have to be modified a bit so it could connect to pumps or generators, but this wouldn't be terribly difficult, and it would provide jobs.

In other words, we have 24 million SUV's which are currently making a bad situation worse, but which could be serving to make a bad situation better.

Here's my proposal: Take $20 billion of the money being poured into hurricane relief and use it to fund an SUV buyback program. At an average cost of $20,000, the government could buy one million used SUV's. These could provide temporary housing for everyone displaced by the hurricanes, as well as providing ready portable power wherever it is needed. The actual price paid by the government would be based not only on bluebook value of the vehicle, but also include incentives to replace it with a more efficient mode of transportation. A 2001 Expedition in good condition, for example, might bring $14000 if the owner replaces it with an Explorer, $18000 if he replaces it with a Taurus, $22000 for a Prius, and $25000 if he doesn't replace it with any motor vehicle (i.e. doesn't register another vehicle within a year or two). Incentives could also be given for American-made vehicles.

The SUV's, purchased all over the country, could be loaded with relief supplies and driven to where they are needed (paying hurricane refugees to do the driving). Those used as temporary housing would be disabled, at least temporarily, as vehicles. They could be parked in camps around communal kitchen, bath and other facilities, with a few of them providing the electicity to power the camp as needed. Not ideal to be sure, but probably more comfortable, weatherproof and private (with window shades) than most shelters being used now. In the meantime, lots of Americans saddled with dinosaurs they can't afford to drive would suddenly have the money to pay their mortgages, and their credit card and winter heating bills, while being encouraged to quickly become more energy efficient. American automakers would finally have a major incentive to retool for hybrids and diesels, creating jobs.

In case you're wondering where I got this crazy idea, it was this cartoon from Cam Cardow:

Although I will say that I've thought for a couple of years that eventually most SUV's would end up being used as housing. Maybe that time has come.

Quote of the year

"Delphi said it made the change after determining its severance package for top executives wasn't competitive." -- Detroit News

That's right--while threatening its workers with 63% pay cuts, and then filing for bankruptcy, auto supplier and major Michigan employer Delphi Corporation was busy making sure that its executives would be well taken care of as they were fired.
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Delphi said 21 top executives will be eligible for 18 months of severance pay and at least a portion of their bonus if Delphi terminates their employment or they leave for "good reason." Previously, severance packages were capped at 12 months.
And they used the excuse that, well, you just can't attract executives to lay off without big golden parachutes. I'd suggest that any executive job candidate who asks about the severance package in an interview should never be offered a job.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who has been a big supporter of the "free traders" like the Clintons and John Kerry (her husband was Kerry's campaign manager in Michigan), is finally starting to get it--far too late for candidates Kucinich and Gephardt who might have actually done something to protect Michigan jobs. Here's what she said in reaction to Delphi's filing for bankruptcy:
I am profoundly disturbed by Delphi's decision and what it means for the nearly 15,000 Michigan employees, many of whom have worked for decades for the company based upon the promise that they would have a pension and health care when they retired.

Globalization is ravaging Michigan's manufacturing job base. Delphi's decision will undoubtedly have a ripple effect through Michigan's economy - an economy already reeling from outsourcing.

I am angry that this action occurs one day after headlines blared that Delphi employees were being asked to accept brutal, draconian pay cuts while upper management is being offered golden parachutes.

I am equally angry about the lack of support from Washington for the industries that made our country great. There is an apparent indifference in Washington to the human pain that so-called free trade has brought to average, patriotic, hardworking citizens who believe in keeping promises.

Moreover, the silence from the federal government is deafening. Washington negotiates these trade agreements and is not offering needed investment in either training our citizens or providing assistance with health care to allow both workers and businesses to be competitive.

If we as a nation can invest billions in infrastructure at home and around the globe, surely we can invest in the human infrastructure -- our American citizens -- whose middle class dreams and plans are being rapidly extinguished by race-to-the-bottom global competition.
Opposing globalization and supporting universal health care, along with stopping the criminal war in Iraq--that's what Kucinich was all about. But no, the Democratic machine had to go with the supposedly "electable" John Kerry. How'd that work out???

The Detroit News has lots of articles about the Delphi bankruptcy and its implications for what's left of Michigan's economy:
  • Staggering blow: Delphi in bankruptcy
  • Stock sinks 87 percent after bankruptcy announcement
  • Shell-shocked workers fear for future
  • Q&A: What the move means for Michigan's economy
  • Delphi CEO 'Steve' Miller has built a career on corporate rescue
  • GM depends on smooth reorganization
  • UAW's future: Givebacks or else
  • GM comments on Delphi filing
  • UAW statement on Delphi filing
  • Governor Granholm's statement on Delphi filing
  • Obligated to pay $12.9 billion, workers' pension plan is at risk
  • Move could unhinge suppliers
  • Timeline: Delphi's history
  • Delphi improves severance pay for senior executives as restructuring looms
  • Delphi demand: Brutal cuts
  • UAW wants to hold off Delphi bankruptcy, union chief says
  • Pension funds sue Delphi over accounting practices
  • Suit says Delphi used sham sales to up results
  • Busy weekend

    The local solar tour came through my house on Saturday, so I spent much of my time over the weekend preparing my house and showing my solar-electric system. I think about 50 people came altogether, many with interesting questions, and many with good ideas. What time was left was devoted to the cornucopia of sports--live UM soccer, and televised baseball, football, soccer!

    Condolences to the victims and relatives of victims of the horrible earthquake in Asia and the mudslides in Central America. Here's a list of relief organizations.

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    How low can you go?

    From the NY Times:
    Wal-Mart Stores, firing the first shot in the toy price war, is offering the latest Furby doll for $29.88 - $10 below the competition - and is undercutting competitors by $20 on a Fisher-Price ride-on version of the Cadillac Escalade. "Very aggressive on price" is how a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Karen Burk, described the company's pre-holiday strategy. "We know that our customers are trying to stretch their budget."
    The Fisher-Price ride-on version of the Cadillac Escalade, $279.37 at Wal-Mart. What better way to teach your kids to be mindless consumers AND energy-wasters at the same time?

    The perfect storm(s)

    Here's another way in which our American house of cards is likely to get toppled this winter:
    Manufacturers that use huge amounts of natural gas are scouring the world for cheaper prices and considering moving operations to ease their costs. A renewed exodus -- many companies have already shifted overseas -- could further knock back growth in the United States and boost unemployment.

    Andrew N. Liveris, chief executive of Dow Chemical Co., told a hearing yesterday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the country is in a "natural gas crisis." The Midland, Mich., company, which uses large amounts of the fuel to produce chemicals, must consider locating new plants in other parts of the world, such as China and the Middle East, because of U.S. energy costs, he said.
    According to the Washington Post, US natural gas prices are now among the highest in the world:

    Business Week columnist blasts Wal-Mart

    From Wal-Mart's Giant Sucking Sound, by Leo Hindery:
    [T]he behemoth from Bentonville, Ark., with its nationally destabilizing business model, is a dangerous detriment to America's local and national economies and to the middle class.
    This happens in three different but related ways. First, there's the clobbering of Main Street: Wal-Mart moves in on the edges of towns, and the much smaller downtown merchants, unable to match its prices, soon go under. Second, there's the miserable wage and benefits package offered by Sam Walton's creation. And third, there's Wal-Mart's purchasing strategy, which seems to be about buying American-made products only as a last resort -- to the point that today Wal-Mart, by itself, is China's eighth-largest trading partner!
    Shorter Leo Hindery: "Wal-Mart sucks!"

    Rx for terror

    Apparently the threat to NY subways supposedly comes from Iraqi pharmacists. From ABC:
    According to sources in intelligence, emergency services and police headquarters, the intelligence community developed information that the threat may have involved pharmacists from Iraq coming to New York for some kind of chemical attack targeting the subways.

    Three insurgents, one or more of whom are pharmacists, were arrested during a raid by a U.S. military and intelligence community team, sources said, and one of those caught disclosed the threat. Because it slipped out during the arrest, the plot was deemed credible.
    Because people being arrested always tell the truth, I guess. Killer pharmacists--well they have one on "Desperate Housewives." There might be others, who knows? Red alert!!!!

    Lowest ratings ever

    From a CBS News Poll:
    AWol's approval rating: 37% -- his lowest ever
    Country going in the right direction: 26%
    Country is on the wrong track: 69% (I guess that means that 31% think we're on the right track. Combined with the previous total, it looks as though 5% of the country believes we're going the wrong way on the right track, or something. Or maybe some people think we're going in the right direction on the wrong track. Who knows.)

    The most acceptable method for paying for hurricane rebuilding? Cut spending in Iraq. 59% now say US troops should get out of Iraq ASAP. Where the @#$%* were you people in early 2004, when there were still anti-war candidates in the Democratic primaries?

    I'll bet these numbers are the main reason for the supposed terrorist threat to the New York subways.

    Thursday, October 06, 2005

    War on Labor Continues--63% pay cuts

    From the Detroit Free Press:
    Delphi Corp. has demanded such drastic cuts in wages and benefits for workers that, according to one UAW local union, its members would no longer be able to afford to buy the cars they help build.

    According to a flyer sent to at least two UAW locals, the company is asking for wage cuts of as much as 63%, to $10 an hour.

    Union members at several Delphi plants say they and their co-workers are not going to agree to such a severe change in their livelihood, even if it means that the company will end up declaring Chapter 11. But if the workers say no and Delphi goes bankrupt, the company could close plants, thousands of workers could be thrown out of work, and companies that depend on Delphi, including giant General Motors Corp., could also be thrown into disarray.
    On $10 an hour, how many of these workers will be able to pay the mortgages and skyrocketing heating bills for the houses they bought when they were making $27 an hour?
    According to the Kokomo and Lockport letters, Delphi's demands include the right to close, sell or consolidate most of its U.S. plants over the next three years, cut health care and pension benefits, and end cost-of-living pay increases.
    Oh man, this is gonna be ugly.

    Turdblossom in panic mode

    Herr Rove is rushing back to Fitzgerald's grand jury, apparently in a hopefully futile attempt to keep his criminal behind out of jail. Lawrence O'Donnell at the Huffington Post explains:
    What this means is Rove's lawyer, Bob Luskin, believes his client is defintely going to be indicted.
    So, Luskin is sending Rove back into the grand jury to try to get around the prosecutor and sell his innocence directly to the grand jurors. Legal defense work doesn't get more desperate than this. The prosecutor is happy to let Rove go under oath again--without his lawyer in the room--and try to wiggle out of the case. The prosecutor has every right to expect that Rove's final under-oath grilling will either add a count or two to the indictment or force Rove to flip and testify against someone else.
    O'Donnell's prediction:
    At least three high level Bush Administration personnel indicted and possibly one or more very high level unindicted co-conspirators.
    Billmon explains:
    Considering how high the presumed "high level" personnel sit in the White House pecking order, I can think of very few who would qualify for the honor of being "very high level unindicted co-conspirators." Only two, in fact.

    Which means this could end up being a bigger bombshell than I would have expected in even my wildest dreams.
    Cue the Beach Boys--"Wouldn't it be nice..."

    Gee, I wonder who?

    From the NY Times (emphasis added):
    Ms. Miers, meanwhile, continued her rounds of Capitol Hill. Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, pronounced her "tough as nails" after an hourlong meeting with her. Responding to criticism that Ms. Miers had never been a judge, Mr. DeWine praised the breadth of her practical experience in the White House and in her long career as a private lawyer. "She is somebody who has gone out late at night to get someone out of jail," Mr. DeWine said she had told him.

    Completely off his meds

    AWol went even more totally bats**t today in a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy (which the NY Times calls "a private pro-democracy group." The NED is private like the CIA is private, and pro-democracy like the Nazis were pro-Jew). As with many things the idiot-in-chief says, his speech today made accusations that apply far more aptly to him and his misadministration than they do to those he's accusing. Sorry, this is going to be one long fisking! Let's roll:
    In this new century, freedom is once again assaulted by enemies, determined to roll back generations of democratic progress. Once again, we're responding to a global campaign of fear with a global campaign of freedom.
    And this:
    Recently, our country observed the fourth anniversary of a great evil and looked back on a great turning point in our history.
    Yes. Who could ever forget December 12, 2000, when the Supreme Court in the case of Bush v. Gore decided that the loser of an election should be the pResident.
    While the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil but not insane.
    We know the vision of the radicals because they've openly stated it in videos and audiotapes and letters and declarations and Web sites.
    Then there's this:
    Al Qaida's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, quote, their resources sons and money to driving infidels out of their lands. Their tactic to meet this goal has been consistent for a quarter century: They hit us and expect us to run.

    They want us to repeat the sad history of Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993, only this time on a larger scale with greater consequences.
    The sad history of Beirut and Mogadishu was that we were there. The happy history was that we got out.
    Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments.
    14 `enduring bases' set in Iraq
    The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.
    Yeah, who could ever believe such an idiotic domino theory? Oh right:"A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region." -- George W. Bush, 2/26/2003

    The civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history.

    Evil men obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience must be taken very seriously, and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.
    Two absolutely accurate paragraphs, spoken by one of those evil men.
    The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution.
    Later in the same speech:
    State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror.

    The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally as guilty of murder.Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account.
    Right. Someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution.

    The radicals depend on front operations such as corrupted charities which direct money to terrorist activity.
    He's saying this to the National Endowment for Democracy!!
    They are strengthened by those who aggressively fund the spread of radical, intolerant versions of Islam in unstable parts of the world.
    Not at all like Franklin Graham, who aggressively funds the spread of radical, intolerant versions of Christianity.

    Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions of our coalition in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals.

    I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, and Al Qaida attacked us anyway.
    Yeah. We weren't in Portugal either. What's your point?
    The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse.
    And, as Jesus always said, "Bomb thy enemy."
    The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet militants killed more than 180 Russian school children in Beslan.
    Yeah--they were too busy committing their own atrocities in Chechnya.
    Over the years, these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: Israeli presence on the West Bank or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia or the defeat of the Taliban or the crusades of a thousand years ago.
    Or non-existent weapons of mass destruction or imaginary links to 9/11 or supposedly bring freedom to people by bombing and torturing the crap out of them.
    In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with unalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world.
    "America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge." -- W, June 1, 2002
    They target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence.
    Right. Regime change. Gotcha.
    Osama bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, What is good for them and what is not. And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers.
    "There is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces." W, 6/28/2005
    He assures them that this is the road to paradise, though he never offers to go along for the ride.
    This from a man who snuck into the Texas Air National Guard to stay out of Vietnam, then snuck out of the TANG. A man who has two daughters of military age, but won't bother them to pursue the highest calling.
    When 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school or hospital workers are killed caring for the wounded, this is murder, pure and simple; the total rejection of justice and honor and moral and religion.
    I hope that gets used at W's war crimes trial.

    They have endless ambitions of imperial domination and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves.
    Once again: "America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge."

    Zarqawi has said that Americans are, quote, the most cowardly of God's creatures, but let's be clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children and the elderly with car bombs and cuts the throat of a bound captive and targets worshipers leaving a mosque.
    This, on the other hand, is courage:

    We didn't ask for this global struggle.
    "Any serious effort at transformation must occur within the larger framework of U.S. national security strategy, military missions and defense budgets.
    "[T]he process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor." -- Rebuilding America's Defenses, Project for a New American Century
    The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally as guilty of murder.Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account.
    Three words: Luis Posada Carriles
    The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced.
    Take that, Hitler!
    They're unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity or by the rules of warfare.
    Like starting unprovoked wars of aggression? Using torture? Dropping cluster bombs? Holding people indefinitely without charges?
    At the time of our Fallujah operations 11 months ago there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today there are more than 80 Iraqi army battalions fighting the insurgency alongside our forces.
    80, one, what's the diff?
    We've heard it suggested that Iraq's democracy must be on shaky ground because Iraqis are arguing with each other. But that's the essence of democracy: making your case, debating with those who disagree, building consensus by persuasion and answering to the will of the people.

    There's always a temptation in the middle of a long struggle to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder.

    The time has come for all responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends and defiles a noble faith.
    And long past time for Christian leaders to denounce W's ideology that exploits Christianity for political ends.

    Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision. And they end up alienating decent people across the globe.

    [Update] I see that while I was toiling away on this tome, WIIIAI was working on a good fisking of the speech too. WIIIAI's fisking is good, but mine has pictures. Which one do you think W is more likely to read?

    Right. Neither.

    Hearts and Minds

    Ironic. Right. That's the word for it.

    That's an advertisement for the Boeing/Bell Osprey VTOL aircraft, showing special forces rappelling onto the roof of a mosque. The ad ran in two magazines, although Bell and Boeing now claim it was a mistake and apologize for it.

    Zeynep at Under the Same Sun remarks:
    Why is Boeing apologizing? What else do people think that piece of machinery is meant to do, deliver bread and roses?

    And what is that throwaway line in the story, "the United States is trying to improve its image in the Muslim world"? Oh, is that what this Operation Iron Fist is about? Good to know.

    What goes around comes around

    Think about it: In 2000 the Supreme Court appointed an unqualified incompetent to be president. In 2005, the president appoints an unqualified incompetent to be on the Supreme Court.

    From Rob Rogers.

    90 to 9

    That was the vote in the Senate last night on an amendment to yet another $440 billion military spending bill which would require the military to stick to the manual when it comes to interrogation of prisoners--i.e., no more torture. Even catkiller Frist supported the amendment, defying the White House. AWol is actually threatening to VETO a military spending bill if it means he can no longer torture people. Let's hope he does--the amendment would probably save a couple of thousand people from horrible pain and degradation. Not having a military spending bill would save thousands more for pain, degradation, and death, and solve immediately the problem of how to pay for hurricane relief. It would also likely stop most of the torture.

    Who were the neanderthal nine who voted for torture? Allard (R-CO), Bond (R-MO), Coburn (R-OK), Cochran (R-MS), Cornyn (R-TX), Inhofe (R-OK), Roberts (R-KS), Sessions (R-AL), Stevens (R-AK). Congratulations to Oklahoma for having TWO senators more insane than Mitch McConnell, Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback or Joe Lieberman. You must be very proud.

    Don't forget--the Senate has yet to vote on the appropriations bill itself. I doubt if we can get it defeated, but a nice hefty no vote might at least show that progress is being made. Let your senators know--vote no on war.

    From Mark Cohen.

    I think Jon Stewart's explanation makes sense: "Bush yells out the door of the oval office, 'Hey--anyone here a lawyer?'"

    [Correction!!!] WIIIAI said that, not Jon Stewart. Bob's Links and Rants apologizes for that error and all the uncaught errors as well.

    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    Miller, Plame, Libby, Kelly, Qaddafi, Chalabi

    Cannonfire has an interesting post on the very confusing Judith Miller story. No, not one of her lie-filled WMD stories, but the story about her--going to jail for 85 days to protect a source that didn't want to be protected, her correspondence with now-dead British WMD expert David Kelly, etc.

    Forum on Venezuela next Tuesday

    From an e-mail list:
    Paul Lefrak, a long time area social justice activist now of South Florida, will be returning to the area to report on his experiences and perceptions arising from his recent trip to Venezuela. Paul will address the character and prospects of the unfolding Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez, and its impact on the struggle against US Empire in Latin America and around the world.

    All Welcome!

    Where: Modern Languages Building (MLB) U of M room 115b (basement)
    When: Tuesday, October 11th 2005 7 pm

    It killed 50 million! Let's make it again!

    From AP:
    Scientists have made from scratch the Spanish flu virus that killed as many as 50 million people in 1918, the first time an infectious agent behind a historic pandemic has ever been reconstructed.

    Why did they do it? Researchers say it may help them better understand -- and develop defenses against -- the threat of a future worldwide epidemic from bird flu.
    Yeah. that's what researchers say (or what AP says researchers say). But...why did they do it?
    The public health risk of resurrecting the virus is minimal, U.S. health officials said.
    Accidentally, maybe. As a biological weapon in the hands of already notorious war criminals? A much bigger risk. Consider:
    Investigators are trying to determine if a bacterium that set off sensors during last week's anti-war protest in Washington was naturally present.

    Tularemia bacteria can live in soil and may simply have been released by thousands of people kicking up dirt, the Washington Post reported. But the bacteria can also cause a dangerous infection and is listed as a possible biohazard.
    Human Genome Sciences Inc. plans to announce a deal today under which the federal government might buy as many as 100,000 doses of an experimental drug to treat anthrax, potentially giving the nation a new defense against one of the most feared agents of biological terrorism.

    The initial government order will be for a small sample of the drug, known as ABthrax, with the option to buy much more later. The large order is by no means assured, and other companies developing similar drugs contend that their products are superior and say they still have a chance to beat Human Genome Sciences.
    Consider: The anthrax attacks on Democratic congressional leaders and prominent journalists remain unsolved four years later, although it is known that the anthrax was produced domestically.

    Consider: In 1994, Tom Clancy wrote Debt of Honor, which concludes with a 747 pilot intentionally crashing his plane into the US Capitol. Seven years later, three planes crashed into prominent US buildings, killing almost 3000. (Unfortunately, the National Security Advisor couldn't possibly have forseen this happening.) In 1998, Tom Clancy wrote Rainbox Six, in which an international conspiracy, including some top officials in the US government, intends to scare the world with a deadly virus. In response, a "vaccine" is delivered in mass quantities. While the virus might kill millions, the "vaccine" is the real killer, intended to eliminate most of the human race except those chosen by the conspiracy to survive. Seven years later, in 2005...

    Our criminal government is playing around with deadly diseases, has "disappeared" hundreds of people gathered up from around the world (for experiments?), and is discussing using the military to enforce quarantines. Be very afraid.

    But destroying Iraq is so much more important!

    About $5.6 billion a month to dig a deeper hole in Iraq, while people here are about to freeze to death.

    From the WSWS:
    Some meteorologists are projecting temperatures three degrees lower than average east of the Mississippi from December through February.
    In Michigan, where 80 percent of households are heated exclusively with natural gas, monthly heating bills are expected to increase by as much as $65 a month, bringing average monthly bills to over $200. Advocates for the working poor have voiced concerns that this increase atop an already thin and burdened social safety net will leave tens of thousands in the state without heat.

    What he's known for

    John Kerry was known as a flip-flopper--then he wasn't. W has been hiring incompetent cronies all along, but Brownie has now made him famous for it.

    The Detroit Tigers have hired a new manager, Jim Leyland. Mitch Albom comments:
    In a news conference Tuesday that was as bizarre as it was refreshing, Leyland managed to tell reporters "I know very little about your ball club" and "I don't really know about the American League" and "I'm rusty" and, at his last job, "I stunk."

    Hmm. Was it the Tigers who hired this guy or President Bush?

    Cut the military budget!

    From FCNL:
    The Senate is scheduled to vote later this week on a $445 billion military appropriations bill including another $50 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additional military spending will be voted on later this fall in separate bills for nuclear weapons programs ($17 billion), military construction ($10 billion), and military housing allowances ($13 billion).

    All total, U.S. military spending will account for well more than half of all of the discretionary funds that Congress has to allocate this year, and will exceed the military spending of almost all other nations combined.

    Meanwhile, Senators Frist (TN), Santorum (PA), and others are saying Congress will have to cut spending on other ongoing government programs in order to pay for hurricane relief. Later this month, Congress is expected to consider a budget reconciliation bill to cut spending by $35 billion over the next five years from Medicaid, food stamps, and other vital anti-poverty programs. Senator Stevens (AL), Chair of the Appropriations Committee, stated that military spending would be off limits for cuts.

    Blank check for the military? More austerity for the poor?

    Act Now: Please contact your senators immediately. The vote on the “defense” appropriations bill (HR 2863) will likely be this Thursday (10/6) or Friday (10/7). Urge them to vote no. Congress must stop giving a blank check to the military.

    Go here to send a message to your Congresscritters.

    Commander in Chief

    I watched the second episode of Geena Davis' tenure as president last night. A couple of interesting notes:
    • The chief bad guy, the Speaker of the House (Donald Sutherland), has to break off a discussion because he has to go to a meeting with AIPAC.
    • President Allen (Davis) picks an outspoken general (modeled on Clark? Zinni? the pre-2001 Powell?) to be vice president. When he arrives at the White House, he meets a staffer. The general asks the staffer if he's Arab. "Palestinian," he replies. The general then says, in Arabic, "I have great sympathy for the plight of your people." To which the staffer replies "Sorry, sir. I don't speak Arabic."
    In the show, Allen was the vice-president for a popular Republican president who then died, although she herself is an independent. The House is controlled by the Repugs (Sutherland), while the Dems control the Senate. They have made references to Cheney as being a former VP, so the show seems to be in future reality rather than alternative reality.

    In any case, I sure wish Geena Davis, or her fictional character MacKenzie Allen, were really our president. The guy we've got now, and his fictional character George W. Bush, suck really bad.

    Martial law?

    While billions are being spent on no-bid contracts in the Gulf region, New Orleans is forced to lay off half of its workforce and tens of thousands remain without housing. Meanwhile, aWol continues to suggest using the only well-funded part of the government, the military, to run everything, from disaster relief to bird flu quarantines.

    As corrupt and dysfunctional as New Orleans government may have been, it at least had some local control and possibly some degree of accountability. The military is really only accountable to one person--the idiot-in-chief, and he has demonstrated for four years now that he has no intention of using them legally, properly or effectively, nor does he intend to require them to obey international law or even our own. Gutting city governments and using the military to take over their functions is a giant step towards totalitarianism.

    Impeach. Now.

    Rick does the math

    Yesterday, I quoted the WSWS quoting HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson:
    Jackson predicted New Orleans would slowly bring back as many as 375,000 people, but that only 35 to 40 percent of the population would be black. Prior to Hurricane Katrina the city had nearly 500,000 residents, more than two-thirds of whom were African-American.
    My friend Rick, the guy who did most of the work on my solar project, has done the math [update, corrected by brother Jim--corrections in red]:
    500,000 people, 2/3rds black, means 330,000 blacks, 220,000 whites 333,333 blacks, 166,667 whites
    375,000 people, 35% black, means 131,250 blacks, 243,750 whites
    375,000 people, 40% black, means 150,000 blacks, 225,000 whites

    I seem to remember that the evacuation of refugees after Katrina was something on the order of 100,000 people, or 20% of the pre-storm population. So if they're planning on displacing 180-200k blacks, they're planning on almost half of those being people who are NOT indigent, in that they had the means to evacuate themselves. Even some of those who were evacuated are homeowners, so they have some incentive, even responsibility to return. These numbers are too big to attribute to attrition, it'll take active measures to reduce the black population by that much. I wonder what they're planning?

    So, in addition to displacing 180,000 to 198,750 blacks, he's planning on 5,000 to 23,750 58,333 to 77,083 whites or other non-blacks migrating INTO New Orleans.

    This kind of Ethnic cleansing, coupled with an incentive for other more favored groups to migrate into the area, has precedent. China encouraged the Han (majority) ethnic group to migrate into Tibet and set up businesses there. Saddam Hussein encouraged Arabs to move into the Kirkuk as fast as he could displace the Kurds and Turkmen. Israel started building residential settlements in the occupied territories almost before the dust settled from the 1967 war...
    So it is actually worse than Rick thought!

    For that matter, the Homestead Act of 1862 provided incentives for mostly white settlers to move into lands inhabited mostly by Native Americans.

    Biodiesel news

    From the National Biodiesel Board:
    Minnesota became the first to successfully implement a statewide initiative that blends two percent biodiesel (B2) throughout its entire diesel fuel supply last week. Sept. 29 marked the official implementation of the effort after the state met all requirements contained in the March 2002 legislation that received bipartisan support. Minnesota has exceeded the legislative requirement that the state have biodiesel production capacity of at least eight million gallons a year. The state now leads the nation with its annual biodiesel production capacity of 63 million gallons.
    NextEnergy Center, a research facility focused on developing alternative energy technology, is bringing together automakers and biodiesel producers to further biodiesel research and development.

    At the grand opening of the research center, located in Detroit’s Tech Town community, NextEnergy CEO Jim Croce announced plans with Biodiesel Industries and DaimlerChrysler to research the development of oil producing crops that can be grown on existing “Brownfield” sites to produce feedstocks for renewable, alternative fuels, as well as further refinement of biodiesel standards. Croce also announced plans for Biodiesel Industries to build a biodiesel production plant in Detroit.
    Biodiesel Industries plans to build a three million gallon-per-year biodiesel production facility. It will be the sixth such production project completed by Biodiesel Industries, which already posts the largest network of company owned biodiesel production facilities in the world.

    DaimlerChrysler committed currently unused land at a former SuperFund environmental site for use in producing soybeans for NextEnergy research programs.
    More stories at the Biodiesel Bulletin.

    They can't even play Calvinball by the rules

    The Iraqi parliament reversed itself on the provision they had just passed on Sunday which required that two-thirds of registered voters in three provinces had to say "no" for the constitution to fail. By going back to the previously understood rule, they violated the rules of Calvinball, which prohibit using the same rule twice. In addition, some members of pariliament were reportedly not wearing masks.

    Meanwhile, the US military continues to soften up Iraq in preparation for the referendum. And five more names have been carved into the Iraq War Memorial.

    "Liberation" in Bush Quagmire I

    From AP:
    The editor of an Afghan women's rights magazine was jailed after a presidential adviser accused him of publishing un-Islamic material - including an article critical of the practice of punishing adultery with 100 lashes, officials said Friday.

    Minority Shiite Muslim clerics in Kabul objected to that article and another in the monthly Haqooq-i-Zan - or Women's Rights - that argued that giving up Islam was not a crime, Police arrested the magazine's editor, Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, on Saturday.

    Late last week, the clerics approached Mohaiuddin Baluch, religious adviser to President Hamid Karzai, who said he forwarded the magazines to the Supreme Court.

    "I took the two magazines and spoke to Supreme Court chief, who wrote to attorney general to investigate," Baluch told The Associated Press. Baluch said the articles were directly against the principles of the Quran.
    I've thought from the start that the war in Afghanistan, just like the war in Iraq after it, was and is a total crock. They never had evidence linking the supposed hijackers to the supposed masterminds of al Qaeda, or to the mullahs of the Taliban. But four years ago this week, the bombs started to rain down on the poorest, most war-ravaged nation on earth once again. Terrorism hasn't stopped, Osama hasn't been caught, thousands of people, almost all of whom had nothing to do with 9/11, have been killed, wounded, captured and/or tortured. The poppies are growing again, and one repressive Islamic regime has been replaced with another (albeit very incompletely). Bush responded to his first huge screwup, 9/11, with his second, the war in Afghanistan. It was and is a crime just as much as the war in Iraq, and I have little respect for any politician who gives him any credit at all.

    Tuesday, October 04, 2005

    Ethnic Cleansing

    From the WSWS:
    President Bush’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development acknowledged the administration’s real vision for New Orleans when he told reporters last week that the city would have far fewer poor black residents once reconstruction is completed.

    In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson predicted New Orleans would slowly bring back as many as 375,000 people, but that only 35 to 40 percent of the population would be black. Prior to Hurricane Katrina the city had nearly 500,000 residents, more than two-thirds of whom were African-American.

    “Whether we like it or not, New Orleans is not going to be 500,000 people for a long time,” Jackson said. “New Orleans is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again.”
    The article goes on to state that the federal government has done almost nothing to provide shelter for most of the Katrina refugees, and is encouraging them to relocate permanently--somewhere. Because it is just so easy to find jobs and affordable housing in this economy, right?

    Freaky quote du jour

    Some of you are concerned about the attack helicopters and mortar fire from the base. I will tell you this: those are the sounds of peace.
    -- Marine Col. Stephen Davis, speaking to a crowd of 300 people angered by the house-to-house searches and summary detentions in Rawa, Iraq.

    Hopefully his translator said something completely different in Arabic.



    From the NY Times:
    A real estate slowdown that began in a handful of cities this summer has spread to almost every hot housing market in the country, including New York.

    More sellers are putting their homes on the market, houses are selling less quickly and prices are no longer increasing as rapidly as they were in the spring, according to local data and interviews with brokers.

    In Manhattan, the average sales price fell almost 13 percent in the third quarter from the second quarter, according to a widely followed report to be released today by Miller Samuel, an appraisal firm, and Prudential Douglas Elliman, a real estate firm. The amount of time it took to sell a home was also up 30.4 percent over the same period.

    In another sign that the housing market might have reached a peak, executives at big home builders have sold almost $1 billion worth of company stock this year.
    A reminder of what popping the housing bubble is likely to lead to.

    From Matt Bors.

    From Milt Priggee.

    From Detroit News right-wing cartoonist Henry Payne.

    From J.D. Crowe.

    Iraqi parliament plays Calvinball

    Calvin and Hobbes used to play "Calvinball," a game where the players could change the rules constantly. There seems little doubt at this point that the Iraqi constitution and its ratification will be entirely products of Calvinball. Deadlines were extended, drafts not distributed, parliamentary votes delayed and then never held. Over the weekend, they changed the rules again, this time in a way sure to guarantee two things: 1) The constitution will be ratified, and 2) It will be ignored, despised, and be the proximate cause for total civil war.

    From the NY Times:
    Under the new rules, the constitution will fail only if two-thirds of all registered voters - rather than two-thirds of all those actually casting ballots - reject it in at least three of the 18 provinces.

    The change, adopted during an unannounced vote in Parliament on Sunday afternoon, effectively raises the bar for those who oppose the constitution. Given that fewer than 60 percent of registered Iraqis voted in the January elections, the chances that two-thirds will both show up at the polls and vote against the document in three provinces would appear to be close to nil.

    "This is a mockery of democracy, a mockery of law," said Adnan al-Janabi, a secular Sunni representative and a member of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's party. "Many Sunnis have been telling me they didn't believe in this democratic process, and now I believe they are vindicated."
    Juan Cole says:
    The Sunni Arabs of Iraq have for some time had a sneaking suspicion that the Shiites and the Kurds whom the Americans had installed in power in Iraq intended to marginalize and humiliate them. In case they were still in any doubt, the Shiite-dominated parliament drove the point home on Monday.

    Monday, October 03, 2005

    Show-stopping number

    Lyrics of the feature song "Go Away, Tom DeLay" from next year's Broadway smash hit "Going, going, GOP!"

    [Start slow, speed up quickly] you're indicted
    Ronnie Earle should be knighted
    I could not be more excited
    Tom DeLay!

    All...the... money you have hided
    And the people you have slighted
    All these wrongs they could be righted
    Go away!

    Yes...ol' Hammer you are hated
    glad to see you Watergated
    Like insects exterminated
    By DeLay!

    No...more... teams of tough piranhas
    Or sweatshops in Marianas
    No more playing campaign Santa
    Tom DeLay!

    [Dance interlude]

    You're...a...menace to society
    Well deserving notoriety
    Take your slimy phony piety
    Go away!

    [Slower--grand finale, with chorus]
    No...more...pulling all the levers
    Hope they lock you up forever
    You're a criminal defendant
    You're a poisonous reactant
    You' combatant...
    Tom DeLay............................!

    Trouble in Wingnutland

    • "[Harriet Miers] is something new: a complete mediocrity.” -- Ann Coulter
    • "Disappointed, Depressed and Demoralized" -- William Kristol
    • Rush said Miers’ nomination "disappoints” him.
    • Miers contributed $1,000 to the Albert Gore for President Committee [in 1988].
    And some choice comments over at the right-wing website Confirm Them:
    • "The biggest problem is not all the quotes from conservatives about how she is unqualified. The biggest problem is that they are RIGHT."
    • "Her nomination is a disgrace and an outrage. If she had any sense at all, she would know that she wasn’t qualified and withdraw her nomination."
    • "Conservatives just got a huge middle finger from Bush."
    • "Harriet Miers is the least qualified nominee since Abe Fortas (also LBJ’s personal attorney at one point) was nominated to be Chief Justice."
    • "Face the facts people, BushRove (Or should that be RoveBush) just used yourselves and tens of millions of their fervent conservative supporters like a cheap whore. And not only were we used, but we were used for no purpose at all. Bush only hurts himself politically because the Liberals will hate his guts no matter who he appoints and the base will turn against him. If he had taken a Luttig, we he would at least have the base backing him right now, but instead nobody ends up happy with him. I can only hope now that Patrick Fitzgerald is preparing indictments against Rove so that Rover can spend the next 10-20 years being used by cellmate in the same way he used all of us."
    Billmon has more, including finding out that some of the right wingers now think that a filibuster may be needed to send Harriet back to Ozzie. Billmon adds:
    I haven't seen anything like this -- a full-scale, knock-down, intra-party brawl that doesn't involve Democrats -- since Shrub's daddy decided he didn't want people to read his lips after all.
    If we're very, very lucky, both major parties will self destruct and we'll have an opportunity to bring democracy to America.

    [Update] "[Miers] once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met." -- David Frum.

    Now that's scary.

    Roberts takes on Condiliar

    Paul Craig Roberts on our idiot SecState:
    What kind of fool believes that the way to bring democracy to a country is to invade, destroy cities and infrastructure, and kill and maim tens of thousands of civilians, while creating every possible animosity by aligning with some members of the society against the others?

    Condi Rice’s speech at Princeton has branded her as the greatest fool ever to be appointed Secretary of State.
    What was Condi's latest affront to coherent thought?
    US military force, said the secretary of state with a straight face, is required to force democracy down the throats of the Muslims in order to save future American generations from “insecurity and fear.”

    Condi obviously doesn’t want Bush to put her in the “against us” camp. She told Princeton that she agreed with Bush “that the root cause of September 11 was the violent expression of a global extremist ideology, an ideology rooted in the oppression and despair of the modern Middle East.”
    Roberts explains:
    Every American should be scared to death that a secretary of state can make such an ignorant and propagandistic statement.

    Many Middle Eastern countries are ruled by puppets on the American payroll. Even the Saudis are under American protection. If there is oppression in the Middle East, it is because US puppets and protectorates are doing what the US government wants, not what the people they rule want.

    The Middle East is in despair because almost a century after the First World War freed Arabs from Turkish occupation, they still cannot get free of US and British occupation. The reasons Osama bin Laden has a cause among Muslims are US military bases in the Middle East and the genocide that Israel practices toward Palestine by stealing the West Bank and herding Palestinians into ghettos.
    Most Muslim states are too impotent to stamp out independent terrorists and too fearful that terrorist networks will be organized against them. Ignorant US officials equate weakness with intention and demonize Middle Eastern governments, including our own puppets and protectorates, as “state sponsors of terrorism.” Isn’t it ironic? The US damns vulnerable Middle Eastern rulers for not stamping out terrorism when all the troops and violence the US can muster cannot stamp out terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    The Bush administration is the administration of deceit and hypocrisy. It is the antithesis of democracy. All democracy rests on persuasion, which implies disagreement. Yet, Bush and Condi regard dissent as disloyalty. They glorify coercion.

    They believe in their will alone. Where have we seen that before?

    American way of life being negotiated

    From USA Today:
    The nation's energy chief says it will take six months for U.S. energy production and prices to return to pre-hurricane levels, and he hints at energy shortages in the interim.

    That's the most blunt and pessimistic estimate yet of how long the energy disruptions caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita will affect the USA. But it could help Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman sell Americans on a conservation campaign he plans to detail Monday.

    "How long before we return to normal? It's hard to know, because we have not yet got an assessment" of damage from Rita, Bodman said in an interview with USA TODAY on Friday. He said it will be two to three weeks before the assessment is done.

    "We're going to go through a very challenging time the next six months, is my guess," Bodman said. "Most of us have viewed energy availability as a kind of right of citizenship," he said, and might have to rethink that as refineries are restarted, pipelines repaired and natural gas processing resumed. "Both in terms of gasoline availability and (prices of) natural gas and heating oil, we're going to have some problems."

    Hurricane Katrina swept the Gulf of Mexico and hit shore near New Orleans on Aug. 29. Rita followed Sept. 24, hitting the Texas coast west of Katrina's landfall. The two storms temporarily closed all Gulf oil operations and most natural gas operations, according to the U.S. Minerals Management Service.

    Only 2% of Gulf oil production had resumed by the weekend, MMS reported, and 21% of natural gas production. The Gulf supplies 29% of U.S.-produced oil and 19% of U.S.-sourced natural gas.
    The government conservation plan will ask Americans to turn off lights, change thermostat settings, drive slower, insulate homes and take other steps.
    For a Bushie, Bodman sounds quite reasonable--he doesn't actually answer his own question about returning to "normal." Most likely answer--never.

    Kunstler says once again that it is past time to stop digging the hole we're in:
    [E]very new suburban house built, every new Target store opened, every new parking lot paved, every highway widened will be a project in the service of a living arrangement with no future. It is a true madness that beats a path to historic tragedy.
    BTW, a couple of supposed oil industry insiders reported on Saturday about the state of the Gulf oil and gas business over at The Oil Drum. Their summary?
    It's not only bad, it's very bad.
    I'd say that Bodman's Carter-esque predictions probably confirm that conclusion.

    On-your-ownership society

    Katha Pollitt:
    Hurricane Katrina was heartbreaking--and it was shocking too. The realities it laid bare--the stark class and race divisions of New Orleans, the callousness and cluelessness and sheer shameless incompetence of the Bush Administration, the long years of ecological mismanagement of the Gulf region--show how far the process of adaptation to decline has already gone. Bush's ownership society turns out to be the on-your-ownership society. The rising tide that was supposed to lift all boats is actually a flood that only those who already have a boat can escape.

    For decades the right has worked day and night to delegitimize concepts without which no society can thrive, or maybe even survive--the common good, social solidarity, knowledge and expertise, public service. God, abstinence and the market were supposed to solve all our problems. Bad news--climate change, rising poverty, racial and gender disparities, educational failure, the mess in Iraq--was just flimflam from liberals who hate freedom. Is there another world power that lives in such a fantasy world? Now, in old people left to drown in their nursing home beds, in police who reportedly demanded that young women stranded on rooftops bare their breasts in return for rescue, in the contempt for public safety shown by Bush's transformation of FEMA into a pasture for hapless cronies--we can all see what those fantasies obscured. A government that doesn't believe in government was a disaster waiting to happen.

    Losing cause

    Doing my Billmon imitation:

    From AP today:
    The U.S. military also dismissed as "patently false" a claim Sunday by al-Qaida in Iraq that its insurgents had captured two U.S. Marines in the fighting and would kill them unless all female Sunni detainees are released from U.S. and Iraqi prisons in the country.

    "That al-Qaida resorts to lies and propaganda demonstrates that theirs is a losing cause," the military said, adding that all its service members were accounted for.
    From the BBC, February 20, 2002:
    As part of George Bush's war on terrorism, the military is thinking of planting propaganda and misleading stories in the international media.

    A new department has been set up inside the Pentagon with the Orwellian title of the Office of Strategic Influence.
    Okay, I know that the Pentagon officially dropped plans for the OSI back in 2002, while continuing to spread lies and propaganda throughout the world like it always has.

    Always getting a dig in on Hugo Chávez

    The NY Times has an interesting and relatively low-on-the-bias-scale article about a new law in Venezuela which requires that radio stations play at least 50% Venezuelan music. The effect has been to make Venezuelan musicians more popular, increasing turnouts at their concerts and sales of their CD's.

    But, continuing the American press tradition of bad-mouthing Hugo Chávez at every opportunity, the Times headlines the article this way: Venezuelan Strongman's New Gig: National Disc Jockey. They also refer to the "fiercely nationalist government" and "Chávez's efforts to regulate culture." That Venezuela has a representative government that passed the law, apparently with Chávez's support (the article says nothing about how the bill was actually introduced or passed), and that no evidence whatsoever is given that Chávez is in any way involved in the day-to-day selection of the music on radio stations--none of this matters in the headline. To the headline writers (and unfortunately, probably to the headline readers as well), Chávez is a "strongman" forcing his own culture down the throats of the poor oppressed Venezuelans, rather than the oft-elected president of a democracy more vibrant than our own (the opposition in Venezuela actually OPPOSES--imagine that!).

    No doubt Chávez has used his popularity to increase his power, in ways similar to those used regularly and legally by both major parties in the US. But there really is no evidence that he has stifled opposition or locked up or intimidated political opponents (quite the contrary--most of the leaders of the 2002 coup attempt were not prosecuted, even though the coup was clearly illegal). "Strongmen" do those things, but Chávez doesn't. There is also little to no evidence that he has used his power to increase either his personal wealth or those of his cronies--unless you consider Venezuela's 20 million poor people to be his cronies. Chávez has used his power to see that those "cronies" have adequate health care and education, as well as better housing and food.

    The thing that Chávez is NOT doing is playing Washington's globaloney game--and THAT's what has our power elite, including the NY Times, so pissed off.

    Scandal our way out? Maybe not.

    Billmon suggests that even if various prosecutors are able to get many or most of the Repug criminals behind bars, it won't solve our problems. He suggests the response to Watergate as a bleak guide to the possible future--a few years of meager reforms followed by decades of everything getting worse.

    That's your cheery thought for the day!

    Explains a lot

    From Ted Rall.

    Sunday, October 02, 2005

    From Chip Bok.

    From Rex Babin.

    From Mike Keefe.

    From Ted Rall.