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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

WIIIAI listens to the morons so we don't have to

WIIIAI reports on Rummy's latest babblings, in which he claims that the Iraqi insurgents are not really insurgents because they "don't have a legitimate gripe."

Also, going above and beyond the call, WIIIAI watched aWol's "Plan for Victory" speech. Bush has now divided the illegitimate gripers into three categories: Rejectionists, Saddamists, and Terrorists. He also defined the mission in Iraq: “Our mission in Iraq is to win the war - our troops will return home when that mission is complete.” To which WIIIAI adds, "As opposed to when the mission is accomplished, which was a couple of years ago."

The middies at the Naval Academy were thrilled by the speech:

Of course that was before he told them they'd all be headed for the Marines instead of the Navy after graduation, if not before.

Barbara Walters has terrible taste

I watched her Most Fascinating People of 2005 show last night. Considering that Condi Rice and Tom Cruise were on her list, I'd guess that for Baba the words "fascinating" and "scary" are synonyms. Her choice for the top spot was Camilla Parker Bowles, someone somewhere below grass growing and paint drying on my fascination scale. The rest of her gang of ten: Kanye West, Dakota Fanning, Thomas Mesereau (Michael Jackson's lawyer), Lance Armstrong, Beth Holloway Twitty (mom of blonde white girl lost in Aruba), Teri Hatcher, and Jamie Foxx. You know the list is lame when it features BOTH of the stars of the worst movie I've seen since, well, "Mission Impossible." And Teri Hatcher? Gorgeous, yes. Fascinating? Only as much as any other pretty woman, and much less than most. Baba pointed out that Hatcher's character on "Desperate Housewives" seemed to have a lot in common with Hatcher herself, and Hatcher replied "I'm not that good an actress--I can only play myself." I doubt if anyone watching disagreed.

So I guess I'll have to come up with my own list, with your help. I'll try not to confuse "fascinating" with "people I agree with," although I've already chosen my most fascinating person of 2005: Hugo Chavez. I guess I'll define "fascinating" to mean someone I'd like to see interviewed on TV, with the opening question being "What the hell are you up to?" Here are some ideas: George Galloway, Judith Miller, Jack Abramoff, Cindy Sheehan, Sandra Day O'Connor, Anderson Cooper, Seymour Hersh, Robert Fisk. Movie stars? George Clooney and Ashley Judd.

Anyway, send your suggestions to bob at

FBI linked to assassination of Venezuelan Attorney General?

From Granma International:
IN its November 10 late edition, the Miami daily El Nuevo Herald revealed that according to "a Venezuelan government witness in the investigation into the murder of Attorney General Danilo Anderson," Héctor Pesquera, former FBI chief in Miami, who directed, organized and effected the arrest of the five Cubans transformed into spies in a grand media show, was also involved in the assassination of the Venezuelan official.

AWol on ethics

The pResident was babbling about ethics yesterday, with respect to the Duke Cunningham case.
"Any member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, must take their office seriously and the ethics seriously," Bush said to reporters during a trip to Texas.

"The idea of a congressman taking money is outrageous. And Congressman Cunningham is going to realize that he has broken the law and is going to pay a serious price, which he should," Bush said.
W's remarks will go down in history alongside Bill Clinton's speech on marital fidelity and Hitler's heartfelt 1940 "Tolerance for all" address.

I'm sure FEMA can handle it

So why did they build an entire city in a flood plain below sea level? More to the point, why do they continue to do it? Apparently, a moderate earthquake in California's Central Valley could make Katrina seem like just a little glitch by comparison. From the WSWS:
On November 1, 2005 California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) issued a report stating that a simple 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Northern California’s Delta region could produce more than 30 levee breaches on 16 Delta islands. This would flood tens of thousands of homes and a massive area of productive farmland, causing around $30 billion in damages. However, the most alarming news, by far, was the realization that such an event could render unusable the drinking water supply of two-thirds of all Californians.

The United States Geological Service estimates that there is a 62 percent probability that an earthquake of at least magnitude 6.7 or greater will strike the San Francisco Bay region before 2032. According to the DWR report, this would liquefy several portions of the levee system, causing a massive release of fresh water. Salt water from the San Francisco Bay would then be sucked into the Delta to replace the fresh water in a phenomena described as “the big gulp,” shutting down the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. These two water projects together serve 25 million Californians. Major power and gas transmission lines would also be damaged, impacting energy delivery throughout the state.
You can see the DWR's presentation online. The WSWS goes on to point out that, even as the levees rot and the earthquake clock ticks, tens of thousands of homes continue to be built in the flood plain. Developers connected to both Republicans and Democrats are making far too much money from the housing bubble for sanity to even enter the picture. Meanwhile, FEMA admits that its floodplain maps are outdated, as is its flood safety standard.

My brother and nieces live in Northern California, and I read several California-based blogs. The DWR report came out a month ago. Why wasn't this bigger news? Or is it just common knowledge?

More highlights from the WSWS:
Lathrop officials have approved the addition of 9,000 homes to an area west of Interstate 5 despite the fact that the abutting levee suffered seepage problems as recently as 1997. City officials didn’t require developers to upgrade or even certify the levee. In a show of proud ignorance, Lathrop even opted to build its City Hall behind the levee. “I think that’s a pretty good vote of confidence,” City Manager Pam Carder told the Stockton Record.

In Stockton, The Grupe Co. announced a proposal this month to build more than 7,000 homes, offices and stores on a Delta island that flooded in 1983. A ground squirrel reportedly caused the flood when it burrowed into the levee. Kevin Huber, the company’s president, blithely told the Stockton Record, “We don’t think that’s a problem.”
Two of the biggest developers, Alex Spanos and Fritz Grupe, are heavy financial supporters of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Spanos alone contributed $2 million to “Schwarzenegger’s California Recovery Team,” an Orwellian euphemism for the committee used to push his now failed ballot measures.

After the catastrophic flooding in New Orleans, the California Water Reclamation Board, the agency with direct responsibility for the levees, announced that it would review all developments proposed in flood-prone areas. In response to developer complaints, Schwarzenegger removed the entire board and made his own appointments.
Kleptocracy--destroying America, one levee at a time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Voting your interests

In Thomas Frank's book What's the Matter with Kansas?, one of the key conundrums is why the people of Kansas and other red states consistently vote against their own economic interests. In fact, according to AP, the ten states with the lowest median income were all red states in 2004: Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In other words, these states are full of people who benefit way more from food stamps and Medicaid than they do from tax cuts. So why do they vote for Bush, who cuts social programs and taxes?

On the other hand, the top five states in median income, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, all voted for Kerry! So they could be considered to have voted against their economic interests as well (although I think sanity had a lot to do with it).

Unfortunately, the AP article doesn't show the rank of every state. I can see that Alaska, at number six, is the richest red state, but I don't know which is the poorest blue state (I'd guess Illinois, Minnesota, or California).

One strange note. Two years ago, Nebraska had seven of the twelve poorest counties in the nation, including the bottom three. In today's listing of the poorest counties, not a single Nebraska county made the list. What's going on in Nebraska? I guess all the poor folk moved one state north. The poorest county in America is Buffalo County, South Dakota, with Ziebach County, South Dakota in third place.


Not expected to threaten land. The hurricane season is supposed to end tomorrow, but the Atlantic may not know that. And then there's next year. From CNN:
There is a fear next year's season could bring much of the same as 2005.

"If we are truly in a cycle, next year we probably will have between 15 and 20 cycles. If we are in a cycle being enhanced by global warming, we may have 24 storms again," [CNN meteorologist Chad] Myers said.

"There's also the chance the cycle ends next year, and it just shuts itself off. We don't think that's going to happen, we think we're at the beginning of the up trend, and not the down trend.

What he said

Greg Saunders writing at This Modern World:
What people like the George W. Bush don’t understand is that capitalism is not a one-way street. When the demand for workers is high and the supply of laborers is low, the rational solution would be for employers to raise wages, increase benefits, or both to ensure that supply catches up to demand.
Instead, employers have found a way to get around their obligations by employing “undocumented” workers (and thus creating a demand for illegal labor). Why are these men and women willing to do the same job that Americans are unwilling to do for less money? Well, they’re here illegally, for one. They probably don’t speak English well and have little familiarity with existing labor laws. They’re doing a job that’s unskilled while under the constant threat of deportation. Sounds like the new face of indentured servitude to me, but the President and his allies are trying to figure out ways to make it acceptable.

But here’s the key to all of these proposals : These illegal workers aren’t being offered citizenship, but membership in a “guest worker program”. Bush and co. don’t give a damn about the working class in this country, they just want to make sure that the crooks aren’t penalized for breaking our labor laws. The solutions bandied about would create a pseudo-citizenship which will protect employers but do little to lift immigrant workers from the bottom rung on the economic ladder. When residence is closely tied to employment, the threat of deportation doesn’t go away, it just gets hidden a little better.

Which makes this whole debate even more galling. Immigrants are being exploited, American workers are getting screwed, and the whole debate is happenening as if these two groups of victims are on opposite sides. If you want to stop illegal immigration, you don’t need to build a fence. The supply of illegal labor will go away once the demand for it ceases. We don’t need new plans, we need to rigorously enforce the laws already on the books. If that means that employers are going to have to pay more to the people doing the jobs that “Americans won’t do” and pass those costs on to the consumer, then it’s hardly our place to question the wisdom of the invisible hand, right?

Also, it should be stressed again that George Bush and his allies should be ashamed of themselves for slandering us with their anti-worker rhetoric. Aren’t you paying attention, America? The President of the United States just called you an indolent snob. He thinks you’re too lazy to do an honest day’s work and too effete to do work that will get your hands dirty. Doesn’t that piss you off? It should.
Conceptual Guerilla summed it up in three little words: "Cheap-labor conservatives." The bastards don't want to pay decent wages, and will do ANYTHING to avoid doing so.


I'm beginning to like ol' Jack! From the WSWS:
The Abramoff affair could have much wider implications. A reporter for BusinessWeek, on a television interview program, said that his Justice Department sources had told him that as many as 60 congressmen could be implicated in the bribery scandal—far more than enough to threaten control over the House of Representatives, where the Republican majority is 231-202, with one independent.
Heck, Jack may bring down BOTH corporate parties--including Michigan's two senators:
The Associated Press named eight more congressmen and senators who received contributions engineered by Abramoff in return for political favors, four Republicans and four Democrats. The Republicans were congressmen Charles Taylor of North Carolina, J. D. Hayworth of Arizona, Todd Tiahrt of Kansas and Dave Camp of Michigan. The Democrats included three senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota (the senior Democrat on the committee now investigating the Abramoff affair), and Congressman Dale Kildee of Michigan.

Previous press accounts have noted that House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, a Republican, and the leading Democrat in the Senate, Minority Leader Harry Reid, received substantial campaign contributions from groups directed by Abramoff, most of them Indian tribes seeking congressional favors for their casino gambling operations.
The WSWS has a second article on the Abramoff scandal today, this one detailing the various scams Jack and his mostly-Repug pals have been running for years.

Well, if Abramoff can bring down the Bushies and most of Congress and bring to life a call for real campaign reform, leading to actual democracy in America, he may unintentionally have performed the greatest service to America and the world in a very long time.

From Adam Zyglis.

From John Branch.

From Ed Stein.

From Matt Wuerker.

From Jack Ohman.

From Pat Bagley.

From J.D. Crowe.

From R.J. Matson.

Monday, November 28, 2005


I'm watching Monday Night Football, Steelers at the Colts. Indianapolis is 10-0, with the most feared offense in the league: Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Edgerin James. Just one problem--it's the ugliest looking offense to watch. Offensive, even.

From back when I was four years old going to high-school games in Alexandria, Virginia with my family, I was always fascinated by the alternation between order and chaos that is football. The teams organize themselves into neat little huddles. Then they come up to the line and array themselves in orderly formations, waiting for the snap of the ball. Then, when the ball is snapped, everything gets all Cheneyed up. But the guy gets tackled, the whistle blows, and order is restored--huddle, formation, snap.

The Colts' offense does away with all that. They don't huddle. They go immediately into a formation. Manning then runs around for about fifteen seconds, making weird hand signals to his teammates, who keep looking over their shoulders to see him (why that isn't illegal procedure I don't know--usually a little flinch from a down lineman draws a flag). The whole thing is an ugly mess, even if it works better than anyone else's offense. The best teams are usually the most fun to watch--last year's Patriots, the 49'ers of 15 years ago. But the Colts, no matter how effective, are just plain ugly to watch.

Speaking of ugly football, the Lions just fired Steve Mariucci as their coach. The search for an even dumber coach will begin immediately.

Meanwhile, in REAL football, congratulations to Australia for qualifying for soccer's World Cup (Germany 2006), for the first time in 32 years. The Socceroos beat Uruguay in a shootout in Sidney to qualify.

One Repug Crook Convicted

From AP:
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham admitted taking $2.4 million in bribes as part of guilty pleas Monday in a case that grew from an investigation into the sale of his home to a wide-ranging conspiracy involving payments in cash, vacations and antiques.

Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

Cunningham answered "yes, your honor" when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties.

After the hearing, Cunningham was taken away for fingerprinting. He will be released on his own recognizance until a Feb. 27 sentencing hearing. He could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
He pleads guilty to violating the public trust, and he's released on his own recognizance? Jose Padilla never pleaded guilty and wasn't even charged with anything until last week, but his 3 1/2 year confinement continues. In the meantime, Cunningham is apparently still a member of Congress and might vote to extend the Iraq war or commit similar crimes. He's a criminal, he's guilty--lock him up now.

Two Americas, indeed.

[Update] The updated AP article says that Cunningham resigned from Congress. Only about 400 crooks left there!

Fascism then and now

Canadian lawyer Paul Bigioni writes in the Toronto Star about the scary parallels between Germany and Italy in the 1920's and '30's and the US and Canada today.
Before the rise of fascism, Germany and Italy were, on paper, liberal democracies. Fascism did not swoop down on these nations as if from another planet. To the contrary, fascist dictatorship was the result of political and economic changes these nations underwent while they were still democratic. In both these countries, economic power became so utterly concentrated that the bulk of all economic activity fell under the control of a handful of men. Economic power, when sufficiently vast, becomes by its very nature political power. The political power of big business supported fascism in Italy and Germany.

Business tightened its grip on the state in both Italy and Germany by means of intricate webs of cartels and business associations. These associations exercised a high degree of control over the businesses of their members. They frequently controlled pricing, supply and the licensing of patented technology. These associations were private but were entirely legal. Neither Germany nor Italy had effective antitrust laws, and the proliferation of business associations was generally encouraged by government.

This was an era eerily like our own, insofar as economists and businessmen constantly clamored for self-regulation in business. By the mid 1920s, however, self-regulation had become self-imposed regimentation. By means of monopoly and cartel, the businessmen had wrought for themselves a "command and control" economy that replaced the free market. The business associations of Italy and Germany at this time are perhaps history's most perfect illustration of Adam Smith's famous dictum: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."
The whole article is excellent and informative, not to mention frightening. Laissez-faire capitalism concentrates wealth AND power in the hands of the wealthy few, eventually completely subverting democracy. Sound familiar?

Quote du jour

"Dick Cheney is too crooked, too cruel and too crazy to be allowed to continue warping this country's policies." -- Madison Capital Times


Speaking of a police state

The feds have been demanding riders show ID on Denver public buses.

Police State

Paul Craig Roberts:
What will happen to Iraq and the Middle East no one knows. Our concerns need to be directed at what happens here in the US. Bush's war against Iraq might be over, but the police state Bush built at home is still in place.
The Bush administration's hype about terrorism serves no purpose other than to build a police state that is far more dangerous to Americans than terrorists.

Ever since the "war on terror" was initiated by the Bush administration, the US has been holding large numbers of "detainees." By chance or the laws of probability, a few of these people might fit some definition of "terrorist." The vast majority, however, are innocents picked up in the equivalent of Stalin-era KGB street sweeps. Many are hapless people sold by warlords to the US in order to receive cash awards for turning in "terrorists."

Despite the large number of alleged "terrorists" or "enemy combatants" that are being held, the Bush administration simply hasn't a shred of evidence with which to bring "detainees" to trial.

If truth be known, the "detainees" are merely props for Bush's hype about the "terrorist threat." The "detainees" were arrested in order to make Americans feel safe and at ease with the police state.
A police state has to catch enemies in order to keep the people frightened and appreciative of the watchful eye of the police state.

Now that the Padilla case has evaporated, the Bush administration has come up with a replacement. An American student of Arab descent, who was studying at a Saudi Arabian university, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to assassinate President Bush. The indictment rests on the confession wrung out of the young man by torture in a Saudi prison.

Does anyone really believe that al Qaeda leaders would conspire with an American college student to assassinate President Bush? Indeed, President Bush has been Osama bin Laden's greatest benefactor. Why would al Qaeda want to kill the man who is doing them so much good?

Before Bush launched his war on terror and invaded Iraq, the vast majority of Muslims thought bin Laden was a nut case and supported the US. Today Muslims think Bush is a nut case and support bin Laden.

What kind of a country have we become when we put a citizen on trial on the basis of a confession obtained under torture by a foreign government? Is the case against this student anything other than an attempt to enlist the sympathy factor for Bush in order to repair his standing in the polls?

Americans need to understand that a police state has to produce results in order to justify its budget and its powers. It doesn't really care who it catches. Stalin's police state caught the wife of Stalin's foreign minister in one of its street sweeps.

The Bush administration justifies torture and threatens to veto congressional attempts to restrain its use. The Bush administration justifies indefinite detention of American citizens without charges.

It asserts the power of indefinite detention based on its subjective judgment about who is a threat. An American government that preaches "freedom and democracy" to the world claims the powers of tyrants as its own.

Abramoff and the Republican Mafia

I'm way behind the curve on the Abramoff stuff. But Joseph Cannon has lots of wicked stuff on Abramoff, Little Tony, Big Tony, Bob Ney, Ralph Reed, Poppy Bush, and others. Here's a small sample:
Keep in mind, as you read all this, that Abramoff's major partner in this series of scams was professional Christian Ralph Reed. Reed's major function (if I may over-simplify matters) was to cajole naive fundamentalists into bringing anti-gambling pressures against Indian casinos, who would then pay Abramoff to lobby those troubles away.

Remember those old "Dead End Kids" movies? "Hey Mister -- we'll watch your car for a quarter." Anyone who didn't pay the quarter found his tires slashed. Abramoff and Reed were plying the same trick, albeit on a much more rarified level.

The bottom line: Abramoff, representing the Bush interests, seems to have been the point man in a crusade to take over non-Vegas gambling. At the same time this Republican "mob" asserted ever-growing control over the Indian casinos, they forced they way into the regulation-free cruise ship industry attempted to acquire the major share of online gambling.
Here's to the sinking of the Repug cruise ship, with DeLay, Bush and all the rest of the Repug crooks going down with it.

Comical Allawi speaks up

Even our terrorist puppets are now saying that Iraqis are no better off now than they were when Saddam was in power. From the Guardian:
Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record, according to the country's first Prime Minister after the fall of Saddam's regime.

'People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse,' Ayad Allawi told The Observer. 'It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.'

In a damning and wide-ranging indictment of Iraq's escalating human rights catastrophe, Allawi accused fellow Shias in the government of being responsible for death squads and secret torture centres. The brutality of elements in the new security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police, he said.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

From Parenting Magazine. Just kidding. That's from Red Meat.


Just making it up

The NY Times analyzes several cases involving supposed terrorists and looks at who gets labelled an "enemy combatant" and who doesn't. The conclusion? There are no standards--the Bushies are just making it up as they go along. Of course, standards of any sort would be a recognition of limits on their power, something the Bushies clearly don't recognize. They have effectively repealed the Constitution.

Friday, November 25, 2005

From Rex Babin.

From Mark Cohen.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Standing out in the blogosphere

Lots of lefty bloggers out here--but how many can say they once had their picture taken with George Wallace?

I'm the short guy in back. My boss at the time is feeding the guv a copy of the Alabama Preservation Manual, a book which was my boss's idea and of which I was the main editor. I was working for the Alabama Historical Commission at the time of the photo (1985, I think). Wallace was wheelchair-bound from the 1972 gunshot wound he suffered while running for president, and was pretty much deaf as well. I didn't think he was long for the world, but he hung on until 1998. Wallace had renounced his earlier racist views and been elected back as governor in 1982, getting a majority of the black vote.

(Sorry--totally irrelevant. Just looking through old photos on Thanksgiving!)

News I can use

The NY Times asked ten fitness experts to rate the five most popular cardio exercise machines. The winner? The elliptical machine. That agrees with what I generally see at the gym, although the treadmills are also very popular.

The Times also tells you what not to do at the gym.

Padilla indicted for applying for passport and conspiring to transport zucchini

Incredible. They arrested a US citizen 3 1/2 years ago, held him incommunicado, suggested he was a terrible threat to the US through dirty bombs and apartment explosions. Now, all they've got is attaching him to some hazy conspiracy to provide weapons to jihadists on the other side of the world (something the Reagan administration did nonstop for eight years). And they've only got that because of hearsay heard on some wiretaps of questionable legality, with alleged conspirators talking about soccer equipment and vegetables.

From the NY Times:
Although the indictment does not say so, officials confirm that the conversations are from wiretaps authorized by a special court that reviews law enforcement applications to eavesdrop on foreigners suspected of intelligence activities.

In the indictment's recounting of the conversations, the principals converse in what officials describe as code, referring to arms shipments and attack plans as sporting events or, on some occasions, as vegetables.

But any such efforts to conceal the nature of the subjects discussed were seemingly clumsy. In one conversation, for instance, Adham Amin Hassoun talks with another defendant, Mohamed Hesham Youssef, about soccer equipment. The indictment says that Mr. Hassoun later told investigators he had indeed been referring to sports equipment, but that he was unable to explain why he had then asked Mr. Youssef if he had enough "soccer equipment" to "launch an attack on the enemy."

In other talks, reminiscent of tape recordings of organized crime figures, the defendants appear to use a code involving vegetables, the indictment says. They sometimes talk about zucchini and "green goods," which the government has suggested could mean weapons.

Mr. Padilla's role, however, appears limited. Among the overt acts that the government says demonstrate his participation in the conspiracy is his 1996 application for a passport. The other defendants are overheard in the apparent wiretaps saying Mr. Padilla would be getting money, had traveled to Egypt and Afghanistan and had considered visiting Yemen. He also "filled out a 'mujahideen data form' in preparation for violent jihad training in Afghanistan," the indictment charges.
Sounds to me like they've got nothing, and certainly nothing that would get him a 3 1/2 year sentence. He should be released immediately, and given a pamphlet entitled "How to sue your government for false arrest and imprisonment."

"Mujahideen data form." Right. Al Qaeda keeps such good records--that's why the FBI never found one piece of paper linking Afghanistan to 9/11 (by Director Mueller's own admission).

"Mujahideen data form" + zucchini + shin pads + illegal wiretaps = DIRTY BOMBER!!!! That's your "Justice" Department at work. This case is all about demonstrating that they can detain anyone for anything (or nothing) at any time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Quote du jour

"This is not a war of words, this is a war." -- Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), responding to Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH SHUT UP), who said on the House floor last Friday that "cowards cut and run, Marines never do."
Murtha has called Schmidt's comment ridiculous.

"You can't spin this. You've got to have a real solution," Murtha said Monday when asked about her remarks at a news conference in Pennsylvania. "This is not a war of words, this is a war."
Unfortunately, I'm sure there are still plenty of Schmidtheads out there, especially in Congress.


U.S.: Al-Jazeera bomb story 'outlandish'

That's the CNN headline. I'll have to agree with that. Postponing the 9/11 investigation, invading Iraq and ignoring Katrina victims were outlandish, too.

Note that while the White House calls it outlandish, it doesn't call it false:
"We are not going to dignify something so outlandish with a response," a White House official told CNN.
CNN has a poll on that page:
Do you believe President Bush talked about bombing the HQ of Arabic-language TV network al-Jazeera?
Out of over 100,000 votes, yes currently leads no 69% to 31%.

The NY Times on Padilla

Lead editorial today. Excerpt:
Mr. Padilla was added late in the game, and in a minor role, to a continuing case against four other men. He faces serious charges that carry a possible life sentence, but they do nothing to clear up the enormous legal questions created by this case, nor do they have the remotest connection with the original accusations.

The Padilla case was supposed to be an example of why the administration needs to suspend prisoners' rights when it comes to the war on terror. It turned out to be the opposite. If Mr. Padilla was seriously planning a "dirty bomb" attack, he can never be held accountable for it in court because the illegal conditions under which he has been held will make it impossible to do that. If he was only an inept fellow traveler in the terrorist community, he is excellent proof that the government is fallible and needs the normal checks of the judicial system. And, of course, if he is innocent, he was the victim of a terrible injustice.
Innocent or not, Padilla's treatment has been and continues to be a terrible injustice. Not just to him, but to others who may have already plea-bargained their freedom away under threat of being treated as an "enemy combatant." Indefinite detention and torture have been added to the death penalty as unconscionable sticks prosecutors use to extract pleas.

The race to the bottom--are we winning?

From yesterday's Detroit Free Press:
Michigan's median household income already has fallen by $9,914 -- 19% -- between 1999 and 2004, more than any other state, according to U.S. census data.
It's clear that workers are getting fed up with the restructurings and the uncertainty.

"There are lot of people that are really mad," Paulk, the GM worker from Novi, said. "They think this is the thing that revolutions are made of."
The WSWS describes the likely impact of all of these job losses on Michigan and other affected regions.
Studies show that each job at a US auto factory supports seven jobs at other businesses nearby. That means the elimination of 60,000 auto jobs in the US and Canada will result in a total job loss of well over 400,000. And these losses will be concentrated in working class communities already hard hit by previous layoffs and plant closures.

President comes through for the poor!

Thanks to a generous gesture on the part of the president, thousands of low-income Massachusetts residents will be getting their heating oil at a reduced rate this winter--40% below market prices. Regardless of how we feel about the president, we should thank him for this gracious gesture.

President Bush! HA! Of course not! President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela is the one helping America's poor.

Obligatory blockbuster news

I think there are a few readers out there who only have time to read this blog, and not the many other similar lefty blogs. And since the mainstream media doesn't bother with some of the biggest stories, you might miss them entirely. (I tend to focus on things that I can think of something to say about.) So, as a public service, I'll mention three big stories in the left blogosphere:
  • AWol received a classified briefing ten days after 9/11 stating that Iraq had no connection to 9/11, what few contacts Saddam's regime may have had with al Qaeda were likely attempts to infiltrate AQ, not to work with it.
  • Bush and Blair discussed bombing al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar in April, 2004. (Heck, they've already bombed the branch offices.)
  • Timetable for withdrawal from Iraq demanded. Not from Congress, of course--from Iraqi leaders: Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. They also endorsed the idea that the insurgency has a "legitimate right" to resist. And these are our puppets speaking!
In a sane universe, withdrawal of troops and impeachment would commence forthwith. Bob Harris explains why this may not be a sane universe:
I'm not denying the existence of a creator. If there is one, however, I strongly suspect it's not a deity of infinite wisdom. More like a sophomore deity, doing a summer project to make up a failing grade on his last universe, which fell over and collapsed into a black hole while it was still on the lab table, and right in front of that cute female deity he was really hoping to score with, the one who still giggles every time she sees him.

Seriously. I mean, look around. Tell me that's not what we're stuck in.

Blame the victim

Even here in Michigan, the heart of union country, union bashing is still popular. Here's a letter to the Detroit Free Press:
GM is in terrible trouble and needs to close several plants in an attempt to return to profitability ("General Misery," Nov. 22). Of course the UAW, in all its wisdom, wants GM to continue paying people after those plants close. They just don't seem to understand that not working with industry to reach solutions to problems faced in this global economy will continue to drive them off shore. That is not a good thing.

PK, Clinton Township
Note the sympathy and concern for the abstract liability-avoidance entity, General Motors, and none whatsoever for the people who work in its factories (or used to). And suggesting that the UAW hasn't worked with the auto companies is completely bogus--meetings and "innovative solutions" and concessions (especially concessions) have been going on for 25 years. TV ads have boasted about the partnership of UAW-Ford for years. And the car companies haven't been "driven offshore;" relocating plants to first the South and then to other countries has been a deliberate union-busting strategy.

And perhaps the most frustrating thing about that letter is its blind acceptance of the inevitability of the "global economy," which unfortunately is almost universal among our politicians, business leaders, and even workers and the unemployed. Global trade has been a negative far more often than it has been a positive, turning vibrant, multi-faceted economies into single-product (or no-product) exporters which survive or don't on the whims of a few moguls on the other side of the planet. Tariffs and other trade barriers can't solve all problems, but they are not the problem--unlimited and unregulated competition artificially fueled by cheap energy is.

Another letter to the Free Press comes closer, although the writer still insists that "America can compete" as if competing, rather than living well, were the goal:
It seems as though every week there are major layoffs, concessions or job cuts within major industries throughout America. America's backbone, the middle class, is deteriorating and constantly shrinking.

The United States must enact trade policies that will restore the glory of the middle class as well as address the burden of health care for active and retired workers. America can compete, if given the opportunity and resources. The "Made in America" nameplate is slowly becoming a thing of the past, and that has to change if America is to remain as the land of opportunity.

RJ, Southfield
I could babble on indefinitely about this. Instead, I'll refer once again to Dave Pollard's Wal-Mart Dilemma post, which features a cool chart (below) and offers the following suggestion:
If a product can reasonably be produced domestically, then duties and other regulations should be imposed to protect domestic producers. In other words, the alternative to 'free' trade is not no trade, but rather regulated trade, regulated to protect the economy and social fabric of the regulating country.

Pollard explains:
In my biased opinion, the vast majority of people are ahead with the green cycle, and the very rich few are ahead with the red cycle. Guess who's lobbying and bribing governments for untrammeled globalization and 'free' trade? Contrary to what most of us are taught in school, modest inflation is the single most effective way to painlessly redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, because it allows debts to be repaid in 'cheaper' future dollars. There are environmental and social advantages to the green cycle as well. The use of slave labour is discouraged. Lax environmental laws in third world countries are not exploited as much. And if the red cycle gets out of control (some would argue it already has), a possible consequence is deflation, a terrible threat to the whole economy that we need to avoid like the plague.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ham sandwich indicted

Judge Sol Wachtler, the former Chief Judge of New York State, was quoted as saying that "A grand jury would indict a ham sandwich." And while Jose Padilla is a real person, not a ham sandwich, his indictment today likely wouldn't have changed Judge Wachtler's opinion. AG Torture Gonzales and the NY Times also stayed in character, misrepresenting and withholding information as they see fit.

Here's a section from the Times article today:
The formal charges against Mr. Padilla are the latest development in a case that has been controversial from its very beginning, when he was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare airport on his return from Pakistan, and that promises to remain controversial.

The attorney general at the time, John Ashcroft, announced with considerable fanfare that Mr. Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, had hoped to set off a radiological "dirty bomb" and carry out attacks against hotels and apartment buildings in the United States.
Judy Miller and Jason Blair may be gone, but the Times' ability to pack falsehoods into two small paragraphs remains. To begin with, the case was not controversial from its very beginning, when Padilla was arrested on May 8, 2002. This is because nobody knew about it until a month later, on June 10, when Ashcroft announced it. And Ashcroft only mentioned the "dirty bomb" BS in his announcement; the stuff about apartment buildings wasn't mentioned until almost two years later. And now, three and a half years later, his indictment involves neither charge. Now it is charged that
he had conspired to send "money, physical assets and new recruits" overseas to engage in acts of terrorism.
Jeez--if that was his goal, he could have just run for Congress.

And not only does the Times engage in revisionist history, it adds some snark (emphasis added):
The Bush administration position that it has the right to hold Mr. Padilla without formal charges as an enemy combatant, despite his citizenship, was upheld two months ago by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, which threw out a lower court ruling to the contrary.

But some lawyers continued to insist that keeping an American citizen in a Navy brig with limited access to legal counsel was a violation of civil rights and the spirit of the Constitution.

Scott Silliman, a Duke University law professor, who specializes in national security, theorized that the government had secured the indictment against Mr. Padilla so that it could sidestep a Supreme Court showdown over when and for how long American citizens could be held in military prisons.

"That's an issue the administration did not want to face," Mr. Silliman told The Associated Press.
I'll bet the Times could have found several lawyers in New York or Washington (the dateline for the article) to defend the Constitution, but going to Duke to find "Mr. Silliman" fits the snark so much better!

And then there's Torture Gonzales:
Although today Mr. Gonzales described Mr. Padilla as a violent jihadist, there was no mention of the earlier "dirty bomb" accusation, which was never the subject of formal charges. Nor was there a mention in the indictment of any violence that Mr. Padilla had hoped to wreak in the United States.

Asked by a reporter today if the "dirty bomb" accusations against Mr. Padilla were now "off the table," Mr. Gonzales declined to comment.

"There are limits to what I can say outside the indictment," he said. He also declined to talk about Mr. Padilla's original designation as an enemy combatant, under which he had been held in the brig without formal charges.

At his news briefing here, Mr. Gonzales credited the USA Patriot Act with helping to make the prosecution of Mr. Padilla possible.

Passed by Congress shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, the act broadened government surveillance powers. Mr. Gonzales said the measure had been effective at "tearing down the artificial wall" that had impeded information-sharing among certain law-enforcement agencies.

Asked whether the indictment might have been timed to bolster support for the Patriot Act, which is being debated in Congress as some of its provisions are up for renewal, Mr. Gonzales replied, "Absolutely not."
Of course, Padilla only gets a new cell out of this--his right to a speedy trial continues to be violated. The article says his trial is expected to begin in about a year.

If the man wants to leave, let him leave!

I'm probably one of the last bloggers to post this picture:

But did you know there's video?
Mr Bush answered a range of questions before one reporter said: "Respectfully, sir - you know we're always respectful - in your statement this morning with President Hu, you seemed a little off your game, you seemed to hurry through your statement. There was a lack of enthusiasm. Was something bothering you?"

The president answered: "Have you ever heard of jet lag? Well, good. That answers your question."

The reporter asked for a follow-up question but the president then thanked the attending journalists and said "No you may not" as he walked away.

He strode from the lectern to the door, trying both handles and then breaking into a laugh.
Hopefully someday soon he'll be locked in rather than locked out.

Fascist oxymoron quote du jour

Free speech works because most of us have the good sense to know when to keep our mouths shut.
-- Kay Anderson, Orem, Utah wingnut opposing Michael Moore's speaking on the campus of Utah Valley State College last year. The debate surrounding Moore's appearance in the heart of wingnuttery is documented in a new film, This Divided State. You can watch the first 26 minutes of the film on the web site, although only for a limited time.

The film is apparently showing in Detroit now, and the DVD is available through the web site.


Padilla indicted

From the NY Times:
"Dirty Bomb" suspect Jose Padilla, held by the U.S. as an enemy combatant for more than three years, has been indicted on federal charges in Miami, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.
Although the Justice Department has said that Padilla was readying attacks in the United States, the charges against him and four others allege they were part of a conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country and provide material support to terrorists abroad.
For three and a half years, they've held Padilla without charges, only vague rumors about dirty bombs and attacks on apartment buildings, clearly depriving him of his fifth and sixth amendment rights to due process, counsel, and a speedy trial. Now, afraid that the Supremes might actually set their proxy for the freedom of all Americans free, the Bushies indict him for "conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country and provide material support to terrorists abroad," something every member of the administration's foreign policy team could be indicted for, and certainly with more justification.

And by making it about alleged crimes overseas involving terrorists, you can be sure that they are intent on depriving Padilla of his right to a public trial on grounds of "national security." Ashcroft and Torture Gonzales are far greater threats to the life and liberty of Americans than Jose Padilla ever was, even if he is guilty of whatever they're charging him with.

Only chemical weapons when Saddam uses them

The Pentagon called white phosphorous a chemical weapon when Saddam Hussein used it against Kurds. But last week the Pentagon called WP a conventional weapon. Hypocrisy is now the coin of the realm.

Condiliar lies again

From FAIR:
On December 15, 1998, the head of the U.N. weapons inspection team in Iraq, Richard Butler, released a report accusing Iraq of not fully cooperating with inspections. The next day, Butler withdrew his inspectors from Iraq, in anticipation of a U.S.-British bombing campaign that began that evening.
Condiliar Rice, Sunday in Beijing:
I think we sometimes forget what Saddam Hussein was like. We went to war in 1991 because he tried to annex his neighbor, Kuwait -- or, actually, annexed his neighbor, Kuwait. We used force against him in 1998 because he threw out inspectors and the concerns of weapons of mass destruction.
She's lying about why we went to war in 1991, too, but that's a slightly more complicated story. We attacked Iraq in 1991, 1998, and 2003 because, well, that's just what we do.

Biodiesel on the move!

Interest is growing in Florida, a biodiesel production plant is planned in Tennessee, and buses on Washington's Olympic Peninsula are going to start using it.

From Vic Harville.
Just don't wait until November--toss the inscumbents out in the primaries. And lets fix the voting system, too.

Oh yeah? How do you think I got this monstrosity passed in the first place?

From Rob Rogers.

From Matt Davies.

From Clay Bennett.

From From Sandy Huffaker.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Oil for thought

James Howard Kunstler:
Unless an anti-war opposition has a plan to withdraw from the project of suburban sprawl, we're going to have to keep soldiers in Iraq, if not in the cities, then out in desert bases guarding the oil works and keeping planes ready to fly in case some al-Zarqawi-type maniac mounts a coup in Saudi Arabia. It would certainly be legitimate for the Democratic party to oppose the idea that we can continue to be crippled by car-dependency, or that we ought to keep subsidizing that way of life -- which Vice-president Cheney called "non-negotiable." We'd better negotiate that or somebody else is going to negotiate it for us, and that is exactly what they are doing with IED's in Iraq and elsewhere.

But without that part of the argument, the debate in congress and on the airwaves is just stupid, because we've left ourselves no real choice.
Personally, I have more faith in Congress and the media than Kunstler does: Even if they were to properly link the war to suburban excess, the debate would somehow still manage to be insipid.

The reason for the treason

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld committed treason. They still have not told us the real reason they were so determined to invade Iraq that they used falsified intelligence to justify a war of aggression. We must find out their real agenda and hold them fully accountable for their crimes.
-- Paul Craig Roberts

Go back to your undisclosed location--and stay there

From CNN:
Cheney stopped short of joining those Republicans who have questioned the patriotism and courage of Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, calling him "a good man, a Marine, a patriot." Cheney's subdued comments about Murtha followed those of President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

At the same time, Cheney pressed the administration's high-voltage attack on war critics, particularly Senate Democrats who voted in October 2002 to give Bush authority to go to war in Iraq and who now oppose his policy, calling them "dishonest and reprehensible."
Well, goodness gracious, Dick, Murtha, that good man, Marine, patriot, is now the most prominent of those critics!
"The flaws in the intelligence are plain enough in hindsight. But any suggestion that prewar information was distorted, hyped or fabricated by the leader of the nation is utterly false," Cheney said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.
Okay, Dick. We'll buy that Bush was clueless--it was just you and Rummy and Condi and Ari and Colin who distorted, hyped or fabricated. The "leader of the nation" just said what he was told to say.
As to proposals for a rapid pullout of U.S. troops, Cheney said, "It is a dangerous illusion to suppose that another retreat by the civilized world would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone." Nearly 160,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq.

Cheney ticked off a long list of terrorist attacks on American interests going back more than the two decades that preceded the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and earlier ones in Beirut, Saudi Arabia and Africa.

"Now they're making a stand in Iraq, testing our resolve, trying to intimidate the United States into abandoning our friends and permitting the overthrow of this new Middle Eastern democracy," Cheney said.
So much BS in one speech! The people making a stand in Iraq are not "terrorists," they're Iraqis fighting against the illegal occupation of their country. And the number of people killed in all of those attacked cited almost pales into insignificance compared to the carnage from Cheney's two Iraq wars--maybe 4000 dead compared to some 200,000.

What might the sign behind the Veep from the Deep say?

Puppeteer? Maneater? Deceiver? Preempter?

Quote du jour

"I haven't heard that many gunshots." Camden, New Jersey resident Gracy Muniz, explaining that her neighborhood feels a bit safer, even though Camden repeated its ranking as the most dangerous city in the US.
Listed as the most dangerous cities are: Camden, New Jersey; Detroit, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; Flint, Michigan; Richmond, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; Atlanta, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Gary, Indiana; Birmingham, Alabama.


GM to cut 30,000 jobs, close 12 facilities

Including facilities in Lansing, Flint and Ypsilanti. The Free Press story on the web features a banner ad from Mike Savoy Chevrolet.

Anyone think maybe it's time for an entirely different economic model? One which doesn't rely on the production of excess oil-guzzling global-warming vehicles to adequately feed, house and clothe its people?

Warm winter thoughts

Greenland's glaciers have begun to race towards the ocean, leading scientists to predict that the vast island's ice cap is approaching irreversible meltdown, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

Research to be published in a few days' time shows how glaciers that have been stable for centuries have started to shrink dramatically as temperatures in the Arctic have soared with global warming. On top of this, record amounts of the ice cap's surface turned to water this summer.

The two developments - the most alarming manifestations of climate change to date - suggest that the ice cap is melting far more rapidly than scientists had thought, with immense consequences for civilisation and the planet. Its complete disappearance would raise the levels of the world's seas by 20 feet, spelling inundation for London and other coastal cities around the globe, along with much of low-lying countries such as Bangladesh.

More immediately, the vast amount of fresh water discharged into the ocean as the ice melts threatens to shut down the Gulf Stream, which protects Britain and the rest of northern Europe from a freezing climate like that of Labrador.

What is it good for? Absolutely nuthin'

I've read and watched a lot of accounts of war, both fictional and non-fictional. War does many horrible things--death, maiming, destruction, starvation, endless waste and environmental damage, and more. But to me, one of the worst to me is the horrible spirit-crushing dilemmas war imposes on people. The war in Bosnia was a recent example--taking a stand on either side of the conflict could get you killed, but so could trying to remain neutral. Whatever you did, you risked being called a traitor, an insurgent, a collaborator, a coward, or whatever, and being shot for the "crime."

World War II in the Ukraine was a particularly brutal example. Ukraine had suffered under Stalin's rule, perhaps more than any other Soviet republic. Millions died of famine in 1932-33 because the Soviet government seized grain from Ukrainian farmers and shipped it to other parts of the USSR, leaving rural Ukrainians without food. This was followed by widespread purges of people suspected of "anti-soviet activity." Ukraine was particularly targeted. So, while most of Europe and probably most of the Soviet Union feared the advance of Hitler's armies, many in the Ukraine saw the Nazis as potential liberators from Stalin's brutal rule. The Communist Party structure was still in place, so openly supporting the Germans could get you killed. However, not supporting the Germans could also get you killed by anti-Soviet "insurgents," or by the Germans themselves. The situation was made infinitely more complicated as the war ebbed and flowed across the Ukraine for some two years, with certain areas nominally under the control of first the Soviets, then the Nazis, and then the Soviets again. Picking a side could get you killed on any given day, but so could not picking a side. Most Ukrainians in no way deserved the sustained horror that was brought down upon them by the maniacal hubris of Stalin and Hitler.

Plenty of other examples, of course--Vichy France, Poland, Vietnam, Somalia, Nicaragua. But I'm sure you already know where I'm going with this--Iraq. A difficult, repressive political environment under Saddam Hussein was made infinitely worse by the US-UK invasion in 2003. Keeping one's head low and mouth shut was no longer a guarantee of anything. Now you can be rounded up and locked away, quite possibly tortured, for just the merest suspicion of being an insurgent. But not only that--the same thing can happen if you are suspected of being a collaborator. The Independent reports that Iraqi police, trained by the Brits, have tortured supposed "collaborators" to death:
Militia-dominated police, who were recruited by Britain, are believed to have tortured at least two men to death in the station. Their bodies were later found with drill holes to their arms, legs and skulls.

The victims were suspected of collaborating with coalition forces, according to intelligence reports. Despite being pressed "very hard" by Britain, however, the Iraqi authorities in Basra are failing to even investigate incidents of torture and murder by police, ministers admit.
George W. Bush and Tony Blair had absolutely no right to bring this ongoing reign of terror to the long-suffering people of Iraq. They are the real insurgents and collaborators and terrorists in this story.

From Slowpoke.

There does seem to be a lot of evidence...

Ted Rall suggests an alternative to the evolution-creation "debate:" Stupid design.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

How depressing

Regardless of the political shenanigans, the fact is that a resolution calling for the end of the Iraq war was placed before the House of Reprehensibles on Friday, and only THREE critters voted for it. THREE. Out of 435.

I mean--Juan Cole has a point--it was political clowning by the Repugs. And Bob Harris has a bunch of great points, especially that a pol or pundit has to be a fanatic imperialist hawk like Murtha to even be heard in the war debate.

But I agree with Ron Jacobs and Cynthia McKinney (one of the three)--when finally given a chance to vote against a criminal war, you darn well should take it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

From David Horsey.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Quote du jour

"The planet's most serious danger is the government of the United States. ... The people of the United States are being governed by a killer, a genocidal murderer and a madman." -- Hugo Chávez



The transcript of Rep. John Murtha's news conference is here, and I've read it all. I think Murtha's approach is the most useful to come along since the war began, and may offer real hope for stopping the carnage--unlike some of the recent second guessing from the likes of Kerry and Edwards.

I don’t agree with everything Murtha said, and I certainly don’t respect him for his vote for the war in 2002. However, he makes a lot of valid points, as well as great talking points for those of us supporting immediate withdrawal. Chief among these are 1) Things are getting worse; 2) Our troops are the targets and focus of the insurgency; 3) and let’s declare victory and come home–Iraq has no WMD’s, Saddam is out of power–we won. He also calls the war a "flawed policy wrapped in illusion," and says that "The main reason for going to war has been discredited."

Murtha supplies plenty of solid talking points for Democrats looking to change their tune. Even Dems like my senators (Levin and Stabenow) and representative (Dingell), who all voted against the war, have argued that we can’t "cut and run." Murtha provides them with forceful arguments that not only can we, but we have to (although they’d be wise not to call it "cut and run"). While preparing the way for impeachment by pointing out the lies of the administration is important, it is not something that most Dems are in a position of strength to argue, since most of them voted for the war, or at least accepted the WMD lie as gospel (as the Repugs have been pointing out for the past week). But there is nothing hypocritical about pointing out the obvious–-the war is going badly and the occupation IS the problem.

Hopefully Murtha and Republicans like "Freedom Fries" Jones can do what we peaceniks haven’t been able to for nearly three years: bring the troops home!

From Chris Britt.

From Matt Wuerker.

From Steve Sack.

From Ted Rall.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hawkhawk turns hawkdove, denounces chickenhawk

From the NY Times:
An influential House Democrat called the Iraq campaign "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion" today as he called for the immediate withdrawal of United States troops, intensifying an already bitter debate on Capitol Hill.

"It is time for a change in direction," said Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania, the leading Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. "Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk."

Mr. Murtha, a conservative who voted in 2002 for the resolution authorizing use of force in Iraq and who supported the Persian Gulf war in 1991, called for "the immediate redeployment of American forces."

"It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region," Mr. Murtha said during an emotional news conference on Capitol Hill. His remarks were quickly denounced by House Republicans as defeatist and wrongheaded.

Mr. Murtha, a 73-year-old Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam combat, lashed back at Vice President Dick Cheney, who in a speech to a conservative group on Wednesday night condemned critics of the Iraq war. "The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone, but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," Mr. Cheney said in an address to the group, Frontiers of Freedom, in Washington.

Mr. Murtha was disdainful of the vice president's remarks, saying that "people with five deferments" had no right to make such remarks. Mr. Cheney, like millions of other young men of the era, avoided military service during the Vietnam war.
"Our troops have become the primary target for the insurgency," Mr. Murtha said. Insurgents, he said, "are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence." He went on to say that, before the Iraqi elections in December, the country's people and its emerging government "must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy."

"All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free," he said. "Free from United States occupation."

Six senators step up to block "Patriot" Act

Well, parts of it, anyway. And it's a bipartisan coalition--liberals and libertarians. From AP:
A bipartisan group of senators told congressional leaders Thursday they will try to block reauthorization of the Patriot Act to protest the elimination of Senate-pushed protections against "unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance" in a House-Senate compromise.

"If further changes are not made, we will work to stop this bill from becoming law," GOP Sens. Larry Craig, John Sununu and Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold and Ken Salazar said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees.
All the more reason to call your senators today! We need to build that coalition large enough to defeat the Republican leadership: Frist, McConnell, Lieberman and Clinton.

A novel idea: The press fact-checks the pResident

And, surprise, it turns out--HE LIED!

Thanks to Knight-Ridder for actually checking the BS aWol and his fellow criminals have been spouting lately. Example:

ASSERTION: In his Veterans Day address, Bush said that "intelligence agencies around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein."

CONTEXT: Bush is correct in saying that many intelligence agencies, particularly in Europe, believed that Saddam was hiding some weapons of mass destruction capabilities - not necessarily weapons. But they didn't agree with other U.S. assessments about Saddam. Few, with the exception of Great Britain, argued that Iraq was an imminent threat, or that it had any link to Islamic terrorism, much less the Sept. 11 attacks.

France, backed by several other nations, argued that much more time and effort should have been given to weapons inspections in Iraq before war was launched.

Or this one:

ASSERTION: In his speech, Bush noted that "more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate - who had access to the same intelligence - voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power."

CONTEXT: This isn't true.

Myths vs. Reality

On the Newsweek web site, there were two ads for, a web site aiming to convince parents to allow their children to enlist. One of the pages on the site is called Myths vs. Reality. Before I click on the link, I'm curious--are they going to try to debunk the following statements as "myths?"
  • There's a fairly high probability that my child will return with parts missing, and a significant chance that he or she won't return at all.
  • My child's tour of duty may be extended indefinitely.
  • The military has failed to adequately provide the body or vehicle armor necessary to protect my child--I may have to pay for it myself!
  • Few of our politicians, Republicans or Democrats, care enough to make sure that my child is put in harm's way for only the best of reasons.
  • My child may return with serious emotional problems which could make relationships and employment difficult.
  • My child may be exposed to depleted uranium or other toxins which might affect his long-term health and keep me from having grandchildren.
  • While my child may be trained in a field of her choosing, she may have to serve in a role for which she wasn't trained, at great risk to herself.
Of course not! Those aren't myths! The "myths" the military wants to dispel are these:
  • The Military is a roadblock to a higher education.
  • People in the Military are not compensated as well as private sector workers.
  • Women have a hard time achieving success in the Military.
  • Military training and jobs have little relation to the civilian world.
  • It's nearly impossible for ordinary people to complete Basic Training.
  • The ASVAB Test serves no purpose other than as a recruiting device for the Military.
Boy, talk about your straw men! Right--Jessica Lynch chose to join the Army rather than work at Wal-Mart despite knowing that it would hurt her chances of going to college. Or that McDonalds would provide better pay and benefits, or that she might be night-shift assistant manager some day. In fact, what you generally hear about the military on the above subjects, myth or not, is the exact opposite of the supposed myths listed above.

PS: One guess as to what the "AS" in "ASVAB" stands for.

Okay, I'm an amateur

Yesterday, I was badmouthing Barbara Bush, calling her scary. Today, I bow before my superior, Cindy Sheehan:
Dear Barbara,

On April 04, 2004, your oldest child killed my oldest child, Casey Austin Sheehan.

Unlike your oldest child, my son was a marvelous person who joined the military to serve his country and to try and make the world a better place. Casey didn't want to go to Iraq, but he knew his duty. Your son went AWOL from a glamour unit. George couldn't even handle the Alabama Air National Guard. Casey joined the Army before your son became commander in chief. We all know that your son was thinking of invading Iraq as early as 1999. Casey was a dead man before George even became president and before he even joined the Army in May of 2000.
There's much more!

Of course, Al Franken could tell us what Bab's response to Sheehan will be: "I'm through with you!"

BTW, Babs claims that "All I ever did was marry and birth well." Good lord, how can she live with herself? How can anyone?


I recently switched to using Firefox as my browser. It's made by the same folks who made Mozilla, the browser I was using previously, and is quite similar to it. The cool new feature I like, however, is the Live Bookmarks. Although I've had an RSS feed on my blog for a year or so, I only recently tried using a news reader--the Google reader. I didn't find it to be particularly useful--for some reason, some blog posts were displayed in their entirety, while for others only a small part was displayed, and I had to click through to see the rest.

But Live Bookmarks make RSS feed-reading really cool. Each blog or other source appears as a folder in an Explorer-style directory tree, and each post appears as an entry in the folder. Click on the title, and you are taken directly to the actual post--not a generic copy of the text. You can quickly see what's new on each blog.

Anyway, Firefox is supposedly more secure than IE, and it also works better with Blogger. And it only costs half as much as IE! (Okay, they're both free.)

Patriot Act Redux

Congress may renew the Patriot Act--I'll renew my call to stop them! The ACLU has some talking points for your phone calls to your Congresscritters:
  • Please take a stand for civil liberties. Vote no on the Patriot Act reauthorization bill.
  • This bill does not require a connection to a suspected terrorist for the FBI to get sensitive personal records. And it actually makes the Patriot Act worse by making it nearly impossible to overturn a gag order, creating fines for business people who don’t turn over sensitive records, and punishing unauthorized disclosures that gag our First Amendment rights.
  • Don’t cave in to the White House’s scare tactics. True patriots would vote against this attack on our Constitutional freedoms and civil liberties.
  • Americans want Patriot Act Reform. People from across the political spectrum are opposed to the Patriot Act reauthorization bill, including the over 400 state and local governments that passed resolutions against the Patriot Act.
Go here to find the phone numbers of your critters, and then CALL!!!!

A nation of priorities

BTW, while Halliburton is importing new homeless people, FEMA is about to stop paying for housing for Katrina refugees, which is likely to cause tens of thousands of additional people to become homeless--just in time for winter.

Of course there's no money to take care of hurricane victims, what with nearly $500 billion for the Pentagon having been approved 98-0 by the Senate. Let's see--$500 billion divided by, say, 500,000 Katrina/Rita/Wilma refugees. One million dollars for each person! Instead, FEMA offers no more than $2358 for each FAMILY. Because hey--we've got other countries to destroy. Can't waste money saving ours.

Judy Blue Lies

Jonathan Schwartz and Sam Husseini cooked up a great question to ask Judith Miller:
Your second story on the aluminum tubes, which you referenced, talked about administration officials saying that the scientists in Oak Ridge thought that the aluminum tubes were suited towards nuclear weapons production. We now know that that's false. The scientist at Oak Ridge thought no such thing. But the administration officials lied to you. Are you going to continue to protect these administration officials who use you as a conveyor belt or are you right here and now...are you right here and now going to start to come clean and put your readers allegedly above the people who you schmooze with and your sources in the government who pushed toward war. Are you going to tell us who that administration official was who put forward that false fact?
Read the details behind the question, and Judy's "answer," at Sam Husseini's blog.

Making a bad situation worse

That's what they did in Iraq, and that's what they're doing on the Gulf coast. Halliburton, that is. In a region with an unemployed diaspora of hundreds of thousands of refugees spread across the US, Halliburton is hiring immigrant laborers, documented and not, through an accountability-avoidance labyrinth of subcontractors and job brokers. And then, to top it off, they're not PAYING these workers, leaving them homeless and destitute in a region already devastated.

The sordid story from Salon.

There should be a corporate death penalty, and Halliburton should be the first criminal executed.

Vice president blasts 'cynical and pernicious falsehoods'

"Cheney" is Wyomish for "no shame." From CNN:
Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday lambasted Democrats accusing the Bush administration of misleading the country on prewar intelligence, calling their allegation "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."

"What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war," Cheney said. "The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out.

"The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone. But we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history. We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them."
And we'll continue to throw yours back at you, you worthless piece of Bush.

In one respect, he's right. The Democrats who voted for the war were being dishonest and reprehensible--when they voted for it. But the chief liar and cheerleader for the war, who has been proven wrong on just about everything and will go down in history as a war profiteer and war criminal, not to mention a chickenhawk, is absolutely not the one to call them on it.

The people in uniform have paid the price, day in and day out, for Cheney's "cynical and pernicious falsehoods."

Go Cheney yourself, Dick.

The face of evil

Congress planning to renew "Patriot" Act

From the NY Times:
Congressional negotiators neared a final agreement Wednesday night on legislation that will extend and keep largely intact the sweeping antiterrorism powers granted to the federal government after the Sept. 11 attacks under the law known as the USA Patriot Act.

After months of vitriolic debate, the tentative agreement represents a significant and somewhat surprising victory for the Bush administration in maintaining the government's expanded powers to investigate, monitor and track terror suspects.

Guess what: You're a suspect.

Give your Congresscritters a call today and tell them that you don't want this totalitarian piece of crap renewed. Feel free to use stronger language.

Senate directory/House Directory

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The power of make-up

Canton Township, AATA study Ann Arbor route

Workers snookered into buying McMansions on large lots in the boonies by low mortgage rates and gas prices may be offered a reprieve:
Residents of Canton Township and neighboring communities who commute to Ann Arbor might be able to ride the bus to and from work beginning next year.

Township officials are examining whether enough residents in the township and nearby would support a park-and-ride service for commutes to Ann Arbor.

"It's better for the environment, better for gas," said Mike Ager, manager of the township's Community Services office. "It's a win-win situation for everyone involved."
I'm not optimistic. By the time fuel prices are high enough to get employees out of their cars, a lot of them will have lost their jobs. Suburbia is too spread out to offer mass transit convenient enough to appeal to commuters except in the most dire of circumstances--such as when they won't have anywhere to commute to. The jobs in Ann Arbor, and especially the housing in Canton, are no where near concentrated enough for bus service to be truly convenient.

We have become the evil we supposedly deplore

US troops used white phosphorus as a weapon in the assault on Fallujah last year. And, of course, they lied about it at first, before the evidence became overwhelming. The Pentagon is still defending the use of this brutal chemical weapon. From the BBC:
[Lt. Col Venable] said US forces could use white phosphorus rounds to flush enemy troops out of covered positions.

"The combined effects of the fire and smoke - and in some case the terror brought about by the explosion on the ground - will drive them out of the holes so that you can kill them with high explosives," he said.
Ah yes. Creating terror is what the "war on terror" is all about. We went half way around the world to invade a country for no reason, and we burn the flesh off of anyone who dares to object. And the idiot-in-chief is off in Japan lecturing the Chinese on freedom.


Okay, I shouldn't take delight in reports that the most powerful person on earth, with WMD's galore at his disposal, is freaking out. But I tend to think that the danger has been huge all along--and when that's the case a crisis (danger & opportunity) is actually good news. Danger and opportunity beat danger alone. Anyway, here's an interesting report from AMERICAblog:
The Washington Times, you may know, is an "independent" newspaper that is basically the mouthpiece of the Republican party. For that reason, it sometimes gets inside scoops as to what the GOP is thinking, and even what's going on inside the White House. For that reason, their latest story on Bush is extremely disturbing:
President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.
Matt Drudge adds on his site:
The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.
My guess is that there used to be five girlfriends who propped W up, but that turning the name "Harriet Miers" into a joke may have cost him one. And if anyone in America is scarier for the pResident to be listening to than Dick Cheney or Karl Rove, it would be Condi Rice, Karen Hughes, or especially Barbara Bush.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

From Mike Luckovich.

From Tom Toles.

From Jeff Koterba.

Breen obviously doesn't know Lynne Cheney

From Steve Breen.

From Monte Wolverton.

This is the monstrosity that they lied about to sell to Congress, and then still had to threaten and bribe while holding the vote open for three hours in the House, and THEN had Karen Ryan and her ilk lie to us about in government-funded fake news spots. It's worth thousands, costs billions, and gives seniors one more thing to worry about.

From Mike Lane.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Shut the door and turn out the lights!

George, Condi and Ahnuld are all out of the country. Eli suggests we should keep it that way.

Mr. Popularity

Poll: Bush approval mark at all-time low.
The White House has said it doesn't pay attention to poll numbers and the figures do not affect policy.

"We have a proud record of accomplishment and a positive agenda for the future," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters Wednesday.

"We look forward to continuing to talk about it. I mean, you can get caught up in polls; we don't. Polls are snapshots in time."
Yeah, Scottie. So were the "elections." The Bushies feel their only accountability moments were the elections. After all of the attack ads and hanging chads and vote list scams and Diebold jams, if a majority of either the electoral college or the Supreme Court says they beat their worthless Democratic opponent--well, their responsibility to America is done. They don't pay attention to polls and don't let them affect policy. In other words, they don't care what we think.

But you already knew that.

Edwards: "I was wrong"

John Edwards in the WaPo on Sunday:
I was wrong.

Almost three years ago we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and what many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake.
Good going, John. About friggin' time! You know, if you'd said this, say, about two days after the "Dean scream" in January 2004, you would have had lots of Kucitizens and Deaniacs flocking to support you instead of the dim-witted warmonger Kerry. And you'd probably be our president now.

BTW, what is Lurch's line now? According to the Charlotte Observer:
Kerry, another possible 2008 candidate, also supports a phased withdrawal. He's also stopped defending his 2002 vote. But instead of calling it a mistake, he put it this way last month: "Knowing now the full measure of the Bush administration's duplicity and incompetence, I doubt there are many members of Congress who would give them the authority they abused so badly. I know I would not."
What a profile in courage this dim bulb is. What has he really learned since August of last year when he stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon and threw his presidential hopes over the rim, Thelma and Louise style, by defending his vote for the war? That no WMD's were in Iraq was already known. That the Bushies had evidence that the aluminum tubes were for rockets, not centrifuges--already known. That there was no uranium from Africa, and that the Bushies had slimed the guy who told us so--already known. And if he didn't know on the day he cast the vote that aWol fully intended to abuse the authority--well, he's much, much dumber than even I think. He's almost W dumb!

I'm just disgusted by Kerry--only someone this inept could have lost to Bush last year. But Edwards has been a disappointment. I told many people in 2004 that I would gladly support Edwards if he would just renounce his vote for the war. But only now, when it seems politically safe, does John-boy finally speak up.

No word yet from Hillary. I don't trust her as far as I could throw Dick Cheney.

Habeus Corpus

Nothing more effectively undercuts the image that Bush paints of America as the land of freedom, liberty and democracy than the Republican Party's destruction of habeas corpus.

Habeas corpus is essential to political opposition and the rise and maintenance of democracy. Without habeas corpus, a government can simply detain its opponents. Nothing is more conducive to one party rule than the suspension of habeas corpus.

It is heartbreaking to watch the Republican Party overthrow the very foundation of democracy in the name of democracy. The name of Lindsey O. Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, the sponsor of this evil legislation, will go down in infamy in the book of tyrants.

The next time Bush declares that "they (Muslims) hate us for our freedom and democracy," someone should ask him how there can be freedom and democracy without habeas corpus.
Americans must recognize the Bush administration and the Republican Party for what they are. They are tyrants. They are bringing evil to the world and tyranny to America.
What has become of the American people that they permit the despicable practices of tyrants to be practiced in their name? The Bush administration is in violation of the US Constitution, the rule of law, the Geneva Convention, the Nuremberg Standard, and basic humanity. It is a gang of criminals. The Republican Party is so terrified of losing power that it supports a tyrannical administration that has brought shame not just to the Republican name but to all Americans.
-- Paul Craig Roberts

Lying liars

Juan Cole demolishes aWol's claims the Dumbocrats saw the same intelligence that he did, and that the Bushies didn't lie us into war.
The top al-Qaeda leaders so far captured are Khalid Shaykh Muhammad and Abu Zubayda.

According to the 9/11 Commission report, they revealed to interrogators that Usamah Bin Laden had prohibited al-Qaeda operatives from cooperating with the secular Arab nationalist, Saddam Hussein.

This crucial information was withheld from Congress and from the American people by the Bush/Cheney administration in the run-up to the Iraq War.
If [Bush] had said, "Khalid Shaikh Muhammad and Abu Zubaydah, the top al-Qaeda operatives in custody, deny that there was any operational cooperation between Iraq and al-Qaeda. But Ibn al-Shaikh al-Libi asserts that Saddam Hussein is training al-Qaeda in the use of chemical weapons. I asked our Defense Intelligence Agency about this, and they do not find al-Libi's allegations credible. I as president have tough choices to make. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I am inclined to believe al-Libi on this."

Then he would not have been lying to the public. But the way he did it was a lie. Some are saying that the evaluation of al-Libi by the DIA did not reach Bush and Cheney. That is not the DIA's fault. That is incompetence on Bush's and Cheney's parts. Why spend $44 billion a year on intelligence and not seek it?

Moron quote du jour

From Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA):
You know, what--what makes our economy grow is energy. And, and Americans are used to going to the gas tank (sic), and when they put that hose in their, uh, tank, and when I do it, I wanna get gas out of it. And when I turn the light switch on, I want the lights to go on, and I don't want somebody to tell me I gotta change my way of living to satisfy them. Because this is America, and this is something we've worked our way into, and the American people are entitled to it, and if we're going improve (sic) our standard of living, you have to consume more energy.
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! I want! It's mine!!! Waah!

This is America--a spoiled child.


The eternal sunshine of the socialist mind

Since aWol turned me into a blogging radical with his pompous, absurd speeches after 9/11, one of my favorite sources for news and opinion has been the World Socialist Web Site. Their well-written and frequently lengthy articles continually expose the crimes of the Bushies and their accomplices in both major parties (and their corporate paymasters). Still, while neither fully supporting nor denying their standard conclusion, I am usually amused by it. The standard conclusion is usually along these lines: "This latest action demonstrates the total moral bankruptcy of the capitalist system and makes it clear that the only solution will come from an international mass movement of the working classes."

Today's article on aWol's attack Friday on the Democrats for going along with his Iraq lies fits the category:
The awakening of millions of people in the US to the lies they were told to justify the war in Iraq is creating the political conditions for the emergence of a genuine mass base for a movement against this war and the capitalist system that gave rise to it.
I hope they're right, but I must say that four years of BS and dashed hopes make it hard for me to share their optimism.

Nevertheless, today's article, as usual, makes some great points. Here are some excerpts:
The Democratic Party was complicit. It knew Bush was lying and went along with the administration’s war policy. This was based on the cowardly—and woefully misguided—political calculations that it could best fight the 2002 midterm election by bowing to the Republican right on the war and campaigning solely on economic issues. It was also, however, a matter of the war against Iraq being a consensus policy within the American financial elite that controls both parties.

The decision was taken that US could use its overwhelming military force to conquer Iraq, which possesses the second-largest oil reserves in the world, and thereby advance its geo-strategic position both in the Middle East and internationally. Unable to publicly defend a war waged for such naked class interests, the political establishment as a whole embraced the fraud of Iraqi WMD.
But the administration’s problem is not with the Democrats. Rather, it is with the American people, which has a well-earned distrust of both major parties. It is not a matter of what the Democratic politicians knew and were told, but what the masses of working people in the US knew and were told. Both parties deliberately deceived them in order to get the war the ruling elite wanted.

In the face of this mass opposition, Bush delivered a speech that consisted not of arguments meant to convince anyone, but rather of rhetoric intended to intimidate all those questioning the administration’s policy.

“These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America’s will,” he declared. “As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that our elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.”

Bush’s remarks—a large portion of them having been lifted verbatim from the speech he delivered last month to the right-wing think tank, the American Enterprise Institute—were also intended for his extreme right-wing base.

Recycled here is the old “stab-in-the-back” theme, a staple of extreme right-wing politics going back to Adolf Hitler. The conception is that the troops are prepared to fight to victory, but they are being held back and betrayed by craven politicians at home. The logic of such denunciations is that all opposition to the war should be suppressed and those who persist arrested.
The Bush administration and its Democratic accomplices have emerged as the recruiting sergeants for Islamist terrorism and are ultimately responsible for whatever horrors it unleashes.

From Doonesbury.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

From Matt Wuerker.

From Matt Davies.

From Mark Cohen.

Friday, November 11, 2005

What Clinton should have done

By today's standards, Bill Clinton was a good president. But today's standards are basically non-existent, given that the worst pResident in history was supposedly re-selected last year and STILL hasn't been impeached. By any reasonable standards, Clinton should probably be judged as being a bad president, one who sold American workers down the river with NAFTA and the WTO, and who ruthlessly bombed several countries, killing many innocent civilians. Not to mention those half-a-million Iraqi children who died because of sanctions imposed because of weapons Iraq no longer had.

Of course, when Slick Willy's errors or crimes are discussed, the Monica Lewinsky affair is generally what people think of. And while I agree with most of my progressive friends that his adultery by itself was not grounds for impeachment, I disagree with them when they suggest that the whole issue was frivolous. It was not frivolous--not because the adultery was immoral or because he told yet another lie. It was serious because he made himself, the most powerful man in the world, vulnerable to blackmail. He was willing to lie to the public, and to Congress under oath, rather than admit to his indiscretion. Who is to say he wasn't willing to do a whole lot more to protect his secret during the year that he continued to hide it? What legislation did he support or oppose, what countries did he bomb, whom did he pardon, what favors did he grant--simply because someone threatened to expose his lie?

I bring this up because there is a scandal here in Michigan concerning the state attorney general, Michael Cox, a Republican who apparently has (had?) his eye on the the governorship or beyond. (Current governor Jennifer Granholm is a former AG.) On October 14, according to Cox, he was presented with an ultimatum by a lawyer connected to former Kevorkian lawyer and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Geoffrey Feiger: back off on an investigation or else Cox's cheating on his wife would be exposed.

And, while it took him awhile, Cox did what Clinton should have done--he publicly admitted to the adultery:
The salacious political drama erupted Wednesday when Cox, with his wife at his side, staged an emotional news conference to announce the affair and to reveal the bigger shocker -- that O'Brien, acting on Fieger's behalf, allegedly tried to blackmail Cox.
Fieger denies any involvment, and there appears to have been a lot of liquor involved, at least on O'Brien's part. And Cox may be trying to pull some bizarre Repug stunt here. But if the basics are what he says they are--he had an affair and somebody tried to blackmail him about it--then his response was much more appropriate than Clinton's. My personal feeling about Clinton is that some Repub powers-that-be types had pictures and other incriminating evidence about his affairs going way back. They've had him and his wife on a short leash since 1992. The Lewinsky affair proved beyond a doubt that Clinton was vulnerable to blackmail. The only reason the blackmail itself wasn't uncovered is that neither Republicans (the blackmailers) nor Democrats (the blackmailees) would have benefitted--only the American public would have.

He said it

"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges." -- George W. Bush, today.

Like these false charges?
The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism.
If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?
-- George W. Bush, October 7, 2002

Will aWol's new attack on the pro-war Democrats work? I hope so, in the sense that it finally makes Americans realize that BOTH major parties are in the wrong, and that it's time to throw them both out. Bush is accusing them of lying now--on what basis can he claim that they were being truthful back in 2002 when they voted for his criminal war?

And while I'm convinced that both the administration and the warmongers in Congress knew full well that Iraq posed no threat back in 2002, it still doesn't get Bush or pro-war Congress off the hook if they truly believed the lies they told themselves. UN inspectors went back to Iraq, and in four months of looking everywhere the CIA told them to look they found exactly what the US inpsectors led by Kay and Duelfer found later--absolutely nothing. The UN inspectors may not have conclusively proved that Saddam wasn't still lying or hiding weapons, but they certainly had proved that he posed no imminent threat whatsoever.

IMPEACH. NOW. And throw everyone in Congress who voted for war out on his or her ass, or elephant, as the case may be.

CNN Poll

Quote du jour

From Condiliar herself: "Everybody wants people to be brought to justice."

This is true:

From Ireland On-line:
Separately, Rice did not rule out eventual trials of terrorist figures that might mirror the current trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"Everybody wants people to be brought to justice," Rice said when asked whether alleged terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, assumed to be under interrogation in US custody, might one day be put on trial. Rice was careful not to confirm that he is in US hands.

Bringing terrorists to justice should be "done in a way that there will be confidence even for people who clearly have been killers, have been murderers on a scale that is unimaginable. I think that we will want to make sure that people know that they got a fair trial."
Yeah, right. Talked to Herr Doktor Frist or his colleagues in the Senate death chambers recently? How about your beloved boss, aWol, who termed the targeted assassinations of supposedly suspected terrorists as "the meaning of American justice."

To which Condiliar replied:


Herr Doktor Frist

A "good German" if ever there was one. Herr Doktor is not concerned about his government running secret detention centers all over the world--only that we found out:
"My concern is with leaks of information that jeopardize your safety and security - period," Frist said. "That is a legitimate concern."
Frist was asked if that meant he was not concerned about investigating what goes on in detention centers.

"I am not concerned about what goes on and I'm not going to comment about the nature of that," Frist replied.
No, having a friggin' Nazi as Senate majority leader is a legitimate concern. As WIIIAI puts it:
First he came for the kitty cats, and I did not speak out because I was not a kitty cat....

Human Rights and the Rule of Law

The Bushies and the Congresscritters pontificate frequently about spreading democracy and freedom and such, but when push comes to shove, as it has a lot lately, most of them stand firmly on the side of tyranny and oppression. The Senate's vote yesterday to deny prisoners/hostages (I don't care what BS term the Bushies use for them--they are prisoners AND hostages) at Gitmo the right to challenge their detentions in US courts. The Supreme Court ruled last year that the prisoners do indeed have that right.

Perhaps even more depressing than the 49 to 42 vote in favor of tyranny is that it wouldn't have been possible without Democrats. "Democrats" Conrad (ND), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Nelson (NE), and Wyden (OR) voted for it, while Corzine (NJ) and Inouye (HI) didn't bother to show up and vote. Four Republicans, Chafee (RI), Smith (OR), Specter (PA) and Sununu (NH) voted against it.

If the rule of law doesn't apply to everyone, there is no rule of law. At least 49 US senators don't believe in the rule of law, including five Democrats. If the hostages at Gitmo have committed crimes, they should be tried. Otherwise, the US has no right whatsoever to continue holding them after nearly four years. This whole nasty business makes me furious. If Al Gore had rightfully assumed the presidency he won five years ago, we would have had a much better president. But the vice president would still have been a total scumbag. Go Cheney yourself, Joe.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why not?

Not only have the Centers for Disease Control recreated the deadly Spanish flu virus which killed some 50 million back in 1918 (including, apparently, my grandfather)--now they want to ship it to research labs around the country. By FedEx or DHL.

What could possibly go wrong?

No one could have possibly foreseen...

Juan Cole, a about Dick "Dick" Cheney's trip to the Middle East in April, 2002:
In Jordan King Abdullah II was clearly extremely disturbed by the idea of a war. He knew it would throw the Jordanian economy again back down to the level of Chad, as happened in 1991, that it would bring angry crowds into the street (thousands already came out Saturday for demonstrations in Amman over Palestine), and that it had the potential if he stood with the US to provoke a second Jordanian Civil War. His reaction was almost apocalyptic. He said such a war could go (in Robin Wright of the LA Times's report) '"completely awry" and even backfire, producing a civil war in Iraq that could involve neighboring countries--and even have a ripple effect in the United States and Europe.' He added, "It's the potential Armageddon of Iraq that worries all of us, and that's where common sense would say, 'Look, this is a tremendously dangerous road to go down."

Three in a row

Quotes du jour for Juan Cole, that is. Except this time I won't quote him directly, just send you off to read his post about the 80,000 victims of the Kashmir earthquake who may die soon if we don't help.


ANWR saved?

Wonder of wonders--the House of Representatives, den of wingnuttery extraordinaire, has actually dropped provisions for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge AND for drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts (which while having gotten much less publicity than ANWR might well have been far more destructive to the environment). The provisions were killed by, as AP puts it, "a solid phalanx of Republican moderates," something I thought had been extinct since the 1970's. AP cautions, however:
The Senate has included ANWR drilling in its budget bill and GOP leaders are likely to push hard for the final House-Senate version of the bill to include it.

From Chris Britt.

From John Branch.

From Dana Summers.

From Vic Harville.

He left out "My Pet Goat"

From Andy Singer.

From Matt Davies.

From Bill Day.

From Mark Cohen.

From Larry Wright.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Kicking the Miller's Tail

War propagandist Judith Miller no longer works for the New York Times. Apparently Neocon-Miller has written a letter which will appear in the Times tomorrow, hopefully the last time her lies ever disgrace that paper.

Don't go away mad, Judy. Just go.

The Fallujah Film

You've probably heard already about the Italian TV report about the use of white phosphorous and napalm by the US military during last year's destruction of Fallujah. Here's the video.

These are war crimes, pure and simple. They would be even if the war itself were justified, which it clearly was not. Hitler, Saddam, Bush--very little difference, if any, except that the last two were our fault. Oh right--Prescott Bush's ties to
the Nazis. Make it three for three.

BTW, Billmon notes that the ongoing planning for a war on Syria constitute yet another war crime, by our own Nuremburg standards.

Hypocrisy on parade

Senators of both major parties, who sat idly by as the world's largest oil companies became even larger through mergers in the past decade, are now grilling oil company execs for profiting from the monopoly power the government has allowed them to have. The idea, of course, is to browbeat them into lowering gasoline prices once again, allowing our phony economy to rev up one last time so that when it inevitably hits the wall the wreckage will be cataclysmic. Some senators are calling for a windfall-profits tax.

I don't think that the oil execs or their stockholders should be getting rich for selling a scarce commodity to which they have only the most dubious claims to ownership. On the other hand, high oil prices are desperately needed to steer us towards a more sustainable economy and to mitigate the impact of global warming. A completely different approach is needed, and clearly not coming from the hypocrites in government. But as much as I hate to see ExxonMobil execs and Saudi princes profiting from disaster, if the only options are a)low gas prices and low profits, or b) high gas prices and high profits, I'll take b as the better option for the future of the world. Low oil prices have distorted our economy, our landscape, and even our society as a whole for way too long. I don't believe free markets are the answer to everything or even most things, but I think that scarce and valuable commodities, at least ones not absolutely critical to life (like water), SHOULD be expensive--otherwise they are wasted frivolously. And I doubt if any one of our 100 senators would openly state that free markets are not a good thing--but they don't seem to believe in them when it comes to gasoline.

See my September 21 post for more along these lines. If you want to, that is!

Quote du jour

Two in a row for Juan Cole:
European settler colonists or "immigrants" have caused far more trouble in the Middle East than vice versa.
That's from an informative post about the riots in France, something Cole seems to have a decent handle on, having lived in France and visited several African countries from which many of the immigrants came. Cole sees the problem as much more one of racism and economic inequality, not of religion. He points out that a high percentage of the population in France is not religious, whether they are nominally Christian, Muslim, Jew, or whatever. He explains:
The kind of riots we are seeing in France also have occurred in US cities (they sent Detroit into a tailspin from 1967). They are always produced by racial segregation, racist discrimination, spectacular unemployment, and lack of access to the mainstream economy.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A leak they want to investigate--maybe

Senator Frist (R-Catkiller) and Speaker Hastert (R-DeLay) have asked the House and Senate intelligence (sic) committees to look into the leaking of information about the American gulag to the Washington Post, which ran an article on the subject last Wednesday.

In an extremely interesting development, the leading suspects would appear to be one vice president and 55 Repug senators--according to Trent Lott:
Lott told reporters the information in the Post story was the same as that given to Republican senators in a closed-door briefing by Vice President Dick Cheney last week.

"Every word that was said in there went right to the newspaper," he said. "We can't keep our mouths shut."

Lott, a former Senate majority leader who was pushed out in 2002, suggested the information was passed along by a senator to a staff member.

He said the investigation Frist and Hastert want may result in an ethics probe of a Senate member.
Digby suggests that the investigation called for by Frist and Hastert is a fabulous idea--let's finally air the administration's absolutely sordid laundry in a public debate, and maybe bring down a few Republican senators and a Veep from the Deep at the same time. Digby and others are suggesting that a Senate majority leader scorned is a fearsome creature. As Billmon suggested last week based on other comments from Lott, "This is proof of the old adage that on the way down you meet all the people you stepped on on your way up." Maybe if Bush and Frist hadn't been so quick to dump Lott after the Strom Thurmond comments, they wouldn't be having all these problems.

Nah. Reality would catch up with them one way or another. This just seems to be a particularly entertaining way for it to happen. Their Lott in life, I guess.

Say no to GMO's!

Michigan Senate on Verge of Outlawing Community Rights to Regulate Genetically Engineered Seeds. Michigan readers should go here now to stop the growing plague of frankenfoods.

Antiwar Sermon Brings IRS Warning

Always protecting that wall between church and state, those Bushies are. From the LA Times:
The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California's largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.

Rector J. Edwin Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena told many congregants during morning services Sunday that a guest sermon by the church's former rector, the Rev. George F. Regas, on Oct. 31, 2004, had prompted a letter from the IRS.

In his sermon, Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991's Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that "good people of profound faith" could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support.

But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush, "Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster."

On June 9, the church received a letter from the IRS stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church … " The federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections.

Steel Curtain

Yet another war crime (or giant collection of war crimes). From the WSWS:
Once again the US military has laid siege to an Iraqi city. Dubbed “Operation Steel Curtain,” the offensive launched by some 2,500 American troops and 1,000 US-trained Iraqi forces entered its third day Monday in the Euphrates River market town of Husaybah.
As to the impact of such a military operation upon the people who live in Husaybah, the media is relatively silent. Needless to say, none of their reporters are embedded with the men, women and children facing this onslaught.

Nonetheless, there is enough in even these reports—despite their slant toward military propaganda—to establish that the Bush administration and the Pentagon are conducting another war crime against the Iraqi people.

“U.S. forces have used Hellfire missiles and dropped 500-pound bombs on homes believed to house insurgents,” CNN reported. “Marine Capt. Brendon Heatherman said troops were clearing every home in central Husaybah, looking out for homemade bombs and ‘bad guys,’” the network added.
“There had been an exodus of families during the past several weeks, officers said,” according to the Times, which added, “The Marine Corps says it plans to go through all the residences in Husaybah and the immediate area, a total of 4,000 homes.”
According to the United Nations-affiliated news agency, IRIN, scores of civilians have been killed and thousands driven from their homes by the offensive against the impoverished city near the border with Syria.

“The situation is becoming critical,” Ferdous al-Abadi, spokesman for the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) told IRIN. “People are seriously suffering.”

According to the news agency, “One doctor in al-Qaim said [on Saturday, the first day of the offensive] that the US military’s regular use of anti-personnel cluster bombs had left at least 31 dead and 44 wounded, among them women and children.”

According to the International Red Crescent Society, people began fleeing Husaybah a week before the US onslaught began, IRIN reported. It added that the relief agency’s local volunteers put the number of displaced persons at 4,000, many of whom are living in makeshift camps and tents in the desert.
Quoting an Iraqi journalist, the news network reported, “The US shelling has demolished government buildings, including al-Jamahir primary school, al-Qaim preparatory school for boys, the educational supervision building, al-Qaim post office and communication centre, al-Qaim education directorate and two mosques in the city.”

The journalist added, “The city is suffering a complete lack of all of life’s basic necessities. There is no fuel and winter is upon us. There is no food and there are no services whatsoever, not even health services.” He added that ambulances cannot respond to emergencies because they face being fired upon by US forces.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, reported that “Scores of terrified Iraqis fled the besieged town of Husaybah Sunday, waving white flags and hauling their belongings to escape a second day of fighting...” The news agency added, “Residents said coalition forces warned people by loudspeakers to leave on foot because troops would fire on vehicles.”

The Pentagon chose to launch the offensive on the final day of Eid al-Fitr, a three-day festival that is one of Islam’s principal holidays. The Washington Post, which had an Iraqi correspondent in Baquba, spoke by cell phone to a 45-year-old government employee as he trudged out of Husaybah with his wife and three children: “We are in the third day of Eid,” he said “We are leaving the town not for fun but to save ourselves from death. Instead of having my family for a picnic in an amusement park, I am taking them out of the town, walking and expecting death every moment. Let Bush see how he created a generation that hates the Americans.”
For those without a program, WIIIAI reminds us:
Remember: Iron Curtain bad, Steel Curtain good.
Meanwhile, our lunatic at the UN, John Bolton, is trying to extend the legal veneer over this profoundly illegal war:
The Bush administration pressed the U.N. Security Council on Monday to pass a resolution extending the mandate of the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq, providing a legal basis for U.S. and allied troops to remain for at least a year after Iraqis elect their first government under the new constitution on Dec. 15, according to U.S. and European diplomats.

Administration officials said they are seeking the resolution now to spare a new government the politically challenging burden of explicitly approving the continued presence of foreign troops in Iraq. They also hope a U.N. mandate authorizing troops through 2006 would encourage the United States' coalition partners to remain in Iraq, and would avoid a potentially contentious battle within the Security Council next year over whether to renew the authorization even though a new Iraqi government has taken power.
The United States sought to extend the mandate "far in advance of the Iraqi election" so it "didn't become an issue in the election," John R. Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in a telephone interview. "We thought it was also important to show the continuing international commitment to progress in Iraq. We expect this to be voted tomorrow. I don't know anybody who is going to vote against it."
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari appealed to the council on Oct. 27 to approve the coalition's stay in Iraq until Dec. 31, 2006. Jafari said Iraq's national security forces "need more time" to prepare to "take over primary responsibility of providing adequate security for Iraqis." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote the council two days later, saying the U.S.-led multinational force "stands ready" to support the Iraqis.
Of course, Jafari would never have survived to be interim PM if he weren't a Bush puppet.

I suspect Russia, France and the rest of the Security Council are cynically supporting this resolution (if Bolton is correct) not for the benefit of Iraq, but to see the U.S. further embarrass and weaken itself.

[Update] The foul extension a in the Security Council unanimously.

Three years at Gitmo for making a bad Clinton joke

From Newsday:
Badr Zaman Badr and his brother Abdurrahim Muslim Dost relish writing a good joke that jabs a corrupt politician or distills the sufferings of fellow Afghans. Badr admires the political satires in "The Canterbury Tales" and "Gulliver's Travels," and Dost wrote some wicked lampoons in the 1990s, accusing Afghan mullahs of growing rich while preaching and organizing jihad. So in 2002, when the U.S. military shackled the writers and flew them to Guantanamo among prisoners whom Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared "the worst of the worst" violent terrorists, the brothers found life imitating farce.

For months, grim interrogators grilled them over a satirical article Dost had written in 1998, when the Clinton administration offered a $5-million reward for Osama bin Laden. Dost responded that Afghans put up 5 million Afghanis -- equivalent to $113 -- for the arrest of President Bill Clinton.

"It was a lampoon ... of the poor Afghan economy" under the Taliban, Badr recalled. The article carefully instructed Afghans how to identify Clinton if they stumbled upon him. "It said he was clean-shaven, had light-colored eyes and he had been seen involved in a scandal with Monica Lewinsky," Badr said.
Why they hate us, reason number 7,453,901.

Democracy is thriving!

In Venezuela, that is. From the Venezuela Information Office:
More people in Venezuela consider their country "totally democratic" than any other nation in Latin America, according to region wide survey results released this week.
Other results from the Latinobarómetro poll:
* More than three in four Venezuelans prefer
over all other forms of government--the second highest ranking in
the region.

* Perhaps more crucially, Venezuelans have the second highest
satisfaction level
with the way their own democracy functions.

* Venezuela is the second most optimistic country in Latin America about the direction of their economy. Only powerhouse Chile ranks higher in this regard. More
than half of Venezuelans say their economy is progressing, in a hemisphere where
less than one in three have similar confidence.
Unfortunately, Latinobarómetro didn't include the US in the survey (even though our Latino population exceeds that of many of the countries in the survey). But I've dug up some comparisons from recent polls:
  • Compared to 56% of Venezuelans who are satisfied or very satisfied with the way their democracy functions, only 52% of Americans think the electoral process is fair (and less than one-third of blacks).
  • And while 54% of Venezuelans think their economy is progressing, 65% of Americans believe our economy is in poor or bad shape.

Quote du Jour

"Not all points of view are valuable." -- Juan Cole


He's baaaack!

Ahmed Chalabi, that is. Fresh off his visit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, Ahmed the Liar is coming to Washington to meet with Condi the Liar. Here are my guesses about what Chalabi said in Tehran and what he'll say to Condiliar.

To Ahmadinejad: "Bush thinks you're worse than Saddam, and a poopoohead as well. And Laura thinks you're ugly. She and I are friends, you know."

To Condi: "Ahmadinejad says that you should get that gap in your teeth fixed. He also says Bush is an idiot and that Bush doesn't love you."

Because aside from embezzlement, there's nothing Chalabi likes better than war. If the Bushies really wanted to protect America, they'd just arrest this guy and let all the poor schmucks caught in the American gulag go free.

[Update] Think Progress has a rap sheet for Chalabi.

Monday, November 07, 2005

What he said

AWol said this in Brazil:
Ensuring social justice for the Americas requires choosing between two competing visions. One offers a vision of hope -- it is founded on representative government, integration into the world community, and a faith in the transformative power of freedom in individual lives. The other seeks to roll back the democratic progress of the past two decades by playing to fear, pitting neighbor against neighbor -- and blaming others for their own failures to provide for their people.
I was going to write a little blurb about how Bush's vision is clearly the second and not the first, but Dave Lindorff already has.

Quote du Jour

As a conservative, I really resent an administration that calls itself conservative taking the position that the burden is on the citizen to show the government has abused power, and otherwise shut up and comply.
-- Former Congressman Bob Barr, now working with the ACLU to fight the many onerous provisions of the Patriot Act, such as National Security Letters. The WaPo had a lengthy and chilling article on the subject on Sunday.
Ready access to national security letters allows investigators to employ them routinely for "contact chaining."

"Starting with your bad guy and his telephone number and looking at who he's calling, and [then] who they're calling," the number of people surveilled "goes up exponentially," acknowledged Caproni, the FBI's general counsel.

But Caproni said it would not be rational for the bureau to follow the chain too far. "Everybody's connected" if investigators keep tracing calls "far enough away from your targeted bad guy," she said. "What's the point of that?"

One point is to fill government data banks for another investigative technique. That one is called "link analysis," a practice Caproni would neither confirm nor deny.

Two years ago, Ashcroft rescinded a 1995 guideline directing that information obtained through a national security letter about a U.S. citizen or resident "shall be destroyed by the FBI and not further disseminated" if it proves "not relevant to the purposes for which it was collected." Ashcroft's new order was that "the FBI shall retain" all records it collects and "may disseminate" them freely among federal agencies.

The same order directed the FBI to develop "data mining" technology to probe for hidden links among the people in its growing cache of electronic files. According to an FBI status report, the bureau's office of intelligence began operating in January 2004 a new Investigative Data Warehouse, based on the same Oracle technology used by the CIA. The CIA is generally forbidden to keep such files on Americans.

Data mining intensifies the impact of national security letters, because anyone's personal files can be scrutinized again and again without a fresh need to establish relevance.
Combine these flagrant invasions of privacy with the misadministration's insistance that it can lock up anyone, at any time, for any length of time, for any or no reason, and you'll see what we've become--a police state.

BTW, one particular "Justice" Department fascist quoted in the article calls civil liberties objections "eccentric," saying data collection does no harm unless "someone [decides] to act on the information, put you on a no-fly list or something." Which they have done, repeatedly. Anyone who trusts THIS government with our private data is truly a moron.



From Ed Stein.

From Bill Schorr.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Left herself an out

From AP:
About 40 students also participated in a sit-in at a local McDonald's that they called a symbol of U.S. capitalism.

"We will remain here until Bush disappears from the planet or leaves Brazil, whichever comes first," said one demonstrator, Rosa Marques, a history student at the University of Brasilia.
Unfortunately, her second choice came first. Can't blame her, though--who wants to be stuck in a McDonald's?

What's going on

A quick tour of my favorite blogs shows that there are some big stories this weekend:
    <>Kerry thinks the 2004 election was stolen. Well, duh. I myself thought it was already stolen when Kerry "won" the Iowa caucuses.
  • The Bushies were warned that one of their Iraqi exile sources (a guy named Libi, strangely enough), was feeding them lies, but they went ahead and used those lies to make their case for war.
  • Speaking of lying Iraqi exiles, Ahmed Chalabi met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday. Apparently the real reason Bush went to war in March, 2003 was in order to unite two members of his "axis of evil." Mission accomplished?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Doesn't that say it all?

I was re-reading yesterday's CBS story about the new poll showing aWol's approval rating at 35%, Cheney's at 19%, and Congress' approval rating at 34%. These people were supposedly freely elected in a democracy, yet most people can't stand them. Of course people can be disillusioned by even the best representatives, but it's pretty obvious that that's not what we've got here. The key is that the real decision making was made long before the November elections--money and power picked the candidates, and the voters had only a limited choice between corporate party candidates. We really need runoff voting, or instant runoff voting, or at least a "none-of-the-above" selection on ballots, which whenever it wins forces the whole process to start over. Choosing between Bush and Kerry was like choosing between death and taxes (literally, pretty much). Few people care for either one, but most will have a preference.

Time to impeach Cheney

With Chimpeachment to follow. Former chief of staff to Colin Powell Lawrence Wilkerson, has gone off again. He told NPR:
... he had traced a trail of memos and directives authorizing questionable detention practices up through Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office directly to Cheney's staff.

"The secretary of defense under cover of the vice president's office," Wilkerson said, "regardless of the president having put out this memo" - "they began to authorize procedures within the armed forces that led to what we've seen."

He said the directives contradicted a 2002 order by President George W. Bush for the U.S. military to abide by the Geneva conventions against torture.

"There was a visible audit trail from the vice president's office through the secretary of defense, down to the commanders in the field," authorizing practices that led to the abuse of detainees, Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson also told National Public Radio that Cheney's office ran an "alternate national security staff" that spied on and undermined the president's formal National Security Council.

He said National Security Council staff stopped sending e-mails when they found out Cheney's staff members were reading their messages.

He said he believed that Cheney's staff prevented Bush from seeing a National Security Council memo arguing strongly that the United States needed many more troops for the March 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Cheney's favorable rating is now 19%, although probably three times that amongst our supposed representatives. He really needs to be tossed out on his pacemaker.

From Jim Morin.

The real American Taliban

RENO, Nevada (AP) -- The mayor of Las Vegas has suggested that people who deface freeways with graffiti should have their thumbs cut off on television.

"In the old days in France, they had beheadings of people who commit heinous crimes," Mayor Oscar Goodman said Wednesday on the TV show "Nevada Newsmakers."

Goodman said the city has a beautiful highway landscaping project and "these punks come along and deface it."

"I'm saying maybe you put them on TV and cut off a thumb," the mayor said. "That may be the right thing to do."
My already huge loathing for everything about Las Vegas just got huger. And "beautiful highway landscaping project?" That's an oxymoron. Goodman is simply a moron.


I'm quickly becoming disappointed with Commander in Chief. While there are occasionally some good lines, the show tends to compress complex issues into soundbites, just like TV news and Congress. Throw in some Party-of-Five-style family crises, and the show becomes a rushed jumble, resolved in the last five minutes by some unexplained brilliance on the part of President Allen (Geena Davis). The shows seems to be frantically trying to keep up with the headlines: last week terrorism and torture, this week hurricanes, next week leaks. (I'm guessing the week after that will be a Supreme Court vacancy.) And then there are those annoying previews for the show which follows it, Boston Legal. The previews frequently feature William Shatner in his boxer shorts, something which doesn't exactly draw me in.

Except this week maybe it should have. Read this about a case on last Tuesday's show, where James Spader's character represents a woman suing the government because her brother was killed in Iraq after being overextended by a stop-loss order and doing something he wasn't trained to do. Excerpt:
He was sent into combat with insufficient backup, he was sent in to perform duties for which he was never ever trained! He wasn't given the most basic of equipment. And then after his tour of duty was up they wouldn't let him leave. He never assumed those risks by enlisting. Over extended, under equipped, non-trained. He never signed up for that. And now he's dead. And aside from his sister, nobody seems to care. We talk about honoring the troops. How about we honor them by giving a damn when they're killed? Our kids are dying over there. In this country, the people, the media, we all just chug along like nothing is wrong. We'll spend a month obsessing about Terri Shiavo. But dare we show the body of a fallen soldier? The most watched cable news station will spend an hour a night on a missing girl in Aruba, but God forbid we pay any attention when kids like Private Elliot are killed in action...
Links to the video are here.

Bienvenidos a la Argentina

Bush is something special

From the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, via Mousemusings:
President George W. Bush and the current Administration have now borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than the previous 42 U.S. presidents combined.

Throughout the first 224 years (1776-2000) of our nation's history, 42 U.S. presidents borrowed a combined $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions according to the U.S. Treasury Department. In the past four years alone (2001-2005), the Bush Administration has borrowed a staggering $1.05 trillion.
There are some interesting charts and graphs illustrating the situation here.

Quote du jour

AWol himself:
I understand not everybody agrees with the decisions I've made, but that's not unique to Central or South America. Truth of the matter is, there's people who disagree with the decisions I've made all over the world. But that's what happens when you make decisions.
Especially really, really bad ones.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Carts before horses

A Senate committee is looking into the failure of the levees in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Both incompetence and malfeasance are suggested as possible reasons. The Corps of Engineers is investigating as well:
The corps's investigation of the disaster will be completed by next July 1, Mr. Mlakar said, a month after the levees are scheduled to be returned to their pre-breach strength.
So the Corps is going to spend the next seven months rebuilding the levees just the way they were, and THEN figure out why they failed. When the report finally comes out, they will have spent millions rebuilding the levees, they may find out it was all wasted, and it will be hurricane season again. There's an old saying--"There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over." Which may not be true in this case. There are physical limits to how fast the levees can be built--holes must be dug before they are filled, and concrete takes time to cure. But those limits don't apply to investigations. With more engineers and money, the investigation could probably be completed in a month or two, and the levees could then be rebuilt in a better fashion. The amount of money needed to speed up the report would be miniscule compared to the money wasted in rebuilding the levees improperly--and this would again be tiny compared to the loss if the levees were to fail again.

This is sort of like waiting until our lying imcompetent scumbag of a pResident has been re-selected before finally investigating his many crimes. Running in a fire is only a good idea if you know where you're going.

2037 already

Each one supposedly so the previous one won't have died in vain.



"Useless inbred children of privilege"

That's WIIIAI's term for Chuck and 35%.

That's right--aWol now has an approval rating of 35%. Could be worse--the Veep from the Deep registers 19%. Great graphic from CBS:

The one-person no-vote principle

Vote fraud and the electronic voting scam are being investigated in a lawsuit in New Mexico (Montgomery Burns: "There's a new Mexico?"):
If you were a Hispanic American or Native American voting in New Mexico on November 4, 2004, you may have experienced some of the following:

The most likely problem was simply to find out that your vote for president or other offices was not counted. Ballots with missing votes are called “under votes.” In New Mexico there were around 23,000 under votes out of a total of about 750 thousand votes cast. That is a rate of 3.0% for the state, or six times the expected rate of under votes in a presidential election. In Hispanic and Native American precincts under votes range from 6% to as high as 49%. One poll worker described watching 141 voters come to the precinct, enter the polling booth where a voting machine awaited, stay for a short period, and leave. At the end of the day, there was only one vote counted for president. That’s a 99% plus rate of under votes for that precinct.

In another scenario, called election machine “vote switching,” one voter describes a scene that occurred throughout the state. The voter was choosing between Republican Heather Wilson and Democrat Richard Romero in the 1st Congressional District, near Albuquerque, NM. She recounts the frustrating story as follows:

"I voted for Richard Romero. The check did not appear in the box. I tried three more times to vote for Richard Romero, making sure that I was not touching the screen in any other place. The vote never registered. The fourth time that I tried to vote for Richard Romero, a check appeared in the box by Heather Wilson's name."

For the next 45 minutes, the voter sought help from an election official. None was available. When help finally arrived, “The monitor came and cleared the machine and stood watching me as I voted again.” It finally seemed to take her vote for Democrat Romero. Describing the one hour ordeal to cast just one vote in one race, the voter said, “I have no idea if my vote was processed correctly.”
The article includes scandalous figures for undervotes (no vote recorded for president, for example) when push-button or touch-screen machines were used, especially in Native American and Hispanic precincts--up to 9%, compared to less than 1% for all ethnic groups when optical scanners were used.

Gretna Bridge

Rep. Cynthia McKinney writes about how Katrina survivors from New Orleans were blocked from reaching dry ground across the river in Gretna by a couple of redneck Cheney-heads--a sheriff and a police chief.
Could it be that the police chief and the sheriff are guilty of a hate crime? How can federally funded roads be blocked by local officials at a time of emergency? Where was the Federal Government that should have been ensuring the lives of all Katrina survivors? Didn't the New Orleans survivors have the right to life? And civil rights?

And where's the outrage?
Today I will introduce legislation to strip all federal funds from the Gretna City Police Department, the Jefferson Parish Police, and the Crescent City Connection security force, all reportedly involved in the tragic blocking of the Gretna City bridge.
Go Cynthia!

Look out, Tricky Dick!

W may be dropping in on you, unpopularity-wise. Jonathan at A Tiny Revolution has plotted W's approval and disapproval ratings against Nixon's. Here's one of the charts:

I'm still amazed that Bush's popularity soared to 90% for failing to stop a massive terror attack and then giving a couple of WWF-style tough-guy speeches and starting the first of two stupid wars. I'm a contrarian, I guess. I only mildly disliked the guy before 9/11, and have despised him ever since. Glad to see America is finally catching up with me! Where were you guys last year? He was a lying idiot then, too, you know.

I hope that Bush isn't trying to learn any lessons from this--his biggest jumps in popularity both occurred when he started wars. Of course, he knew that lesson before he got to Washington.

Donkeys were already gone when the barn door closed

Excellent point from the WSWS:
In his speech Tuesday, Reid said that “a cloud now hangs over this administration,” adding, “unfortunately, it must be said that a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican administration accountable...”

But when the vote was taken to give Bush unfettered power to wage a “war of choice” against Iraq, the Senate was in the hands of the Democrats. How did they hold the administration “accountable?”

Did Reid and other Democratic leaders—who then controlled the Senate Intelligence Committee—press for investigations into the false claims made by Bush, Cheney and then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons and posed a “grave and imminent” danger to the US? Neither Reid nor any other leader of his party contemplated such an investigation then, when the Democrats controlled the Senate Intelligence Committee. On the contrary, they echoed these claims.
The WSWS goes on to pop our bubble of hope about Tuesday's shenanigans:
Those looking to the novel parliamentary tactic and verbal pyrotechnics employed by Reid Tuesday afternoon as a sign that the Democratic Party is at last prepared to offer a serious political alternative to the Bush administration are heading for another disappointment.

The struggle to end the war in Iraq and defend democratic rights at home will no more be advanced through the political maneuvers of the Democrats on Capitol Hill than they were in the party’s 2004 election campaign. There is every reason to believe that the sham fight of calling the Senate into closed session was aimed at distracting public attention from the almost certain refusal of the Democrats to wage any real fight against the installation of the arch-reactionary Judge Alito onto the Supreme Court.

From Larry Wright.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Rummy Speaks

Reichsmarshal Rumsfeld held a news conference yesterday. He started with this:
I recently returned from Asia, where I had the pleasure and opportunity to visit with U.S. troops serving in South Korea, to thank them for their service and their sacrifice.

I noted to them that within my lifetime, the same now free and prosperous South Korea that they're helping to defend was almost completely destroyed by a terrible conflict. In the three years of the Korean War, nearly 40,000 Americans would fall in brutal combat, and U.S. forces endured many setbacks along the way.

President Harry Truman, now remembered as a fine president, would leave office in 1953 with an approval rating of about 25 percent, one of the lowest recorded ratings since folks started measuring those things.

Back then, a great many people questioned whether young Americans should face death and injury in Korea, thousands of miles from home, for a result that seemed uncertain at best. And today the answer is the Korean peninsula.

Satellite photo, Demilitarized Zone. This is Pyongyang, the capital. And it gives you a little idea of the contrast between a free political system and a free economic system. Same people, north and south. Same resources, north and south. The only difference is, the north has a repressive political regime and a command economy, and people are starving, and in the south the free economic system and free political system have created an economic miracle. But the question was, should young Americans be sent over there to -- at the risk of their lives? And of course the answer to that question is clear to anyone who visits the Korean peninsula today or who have the privilege of meeting, as I have done, some of the 3,000 South Korean troops who are helping the people of Iraq rebuild and secure their newfound freedom.
A fairly extended ends-justifies-the-means argument by Herr Rumsfeld. So, 65 years after a war fought on shaky legal and constitutional grounds, which killed some 2.5 million people, left a peninsula divided and heavily armed and facing possible nuclear annihilation with the northern part under dictatorship ever since and the southern part under dictatorship for 30 years, and is still technically not over, a portion of the country has economic vitality and some semblance of democracy. Iraqis must be SO excited! Not to mention the 38,000 or so American families who may have to lose their loved ones in order to bring W's ratings down to 25%.

DOD didn't include the satellite photo Rummy referred to--I'm assuming that it compared Pyongyang with Seoul. How about bringing out another pair of satellite photos, comparing communist Shanghai with, say, free-market New Orleans?

And, using Rummy's logic--where would Germany and Japan be today if they hadn't started WWII? Sure, 50 million dead, whole countries destroyed--but just look at their modern free-market economies today!

Of course, Rummy wasn't finished:
This week in Iraq, candidates and political parties representing all of the ethnic groups will begin campaigning in the parliamentary elections to be held on December 15th, something that's truly remarkable. Consider that just under three years ago, this same Iraq was home to one of the most vicious regimes of the 20th century, a regime that had invaded two of its neighbors, harbored and rewarded terrorists, filled mass graves with hundreds of thousands of its own people.
I think he's referring to the guy on the right in the photo below, who was helped by the guy on the left.

Rummy adds this:
I've watched the spread of Communism and the fall of Communism, the spread of Fascism and the fall of Fascism.
Heck, he's watched the spread and fall of everything from Bonapartism to Baathism to Neoconservativism, chipping in to make things worse whenever possible.

Rummy then answered some questions (emphasis added):
Q One of the implications of all of these questions right now is that there was somehow -- there are aspersions being cast on the integrity with which this administration went to the war in Iraq. And I wonder if that's anything you'd like to respond to. That's one of things that Colonel Wilkerson was talking about. It's one of the questions that seems to be spiralling out of this whole indictment of Lewis Libby. Is that anything you'd like to talk about --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, what you've got is you've got an indictment pending, and then you have people who are going to have to work their way through those things. And it seems to me that opining on it from the side is not a useful thing to do or a particularly thoughtful thing to do. We know -- anyone who looks at this process knows what it was. The president of the United States made some judgments based on the best advice he received, and he went to the Congress, and the Congress received the same information. He went to the United Nations, and the United Nations had the same information. And he made a decision, and the process, I think, was transparent.
I know I saw right through it.

WIIIAI has comments on other parts of Rummy's performance.

Raw Meat for Progressives

Although a lot of us are vegetarians...Anyhow, I'm going to use Jonathan Schwartz at A Tiny Revolution as my moral guide for this post. Jonathan asks:
Would it be irresponsible to link to a Capitol Blue story simply because it bolsters my belief system, even though Capitol Blue has been egregiously wrong in the past?

It would be irresponsible not to.
The Capitol Hill Blue story he refers to is this one: Bush's Increasing Mental Lapses and Temper Tantrums Worry White House Aides. Here's just a sample:
“It’s worse than the days when Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s began setting in,” one longtime GOP operative told me privately this week. “You don’t know if he’s going to be coherent from one moment to the next. What scares me is if he lapses into one of those fogs during a public appearance.”
That quote seems to indicate that CHB is full of DeLay, since it seems to me that W is in one of those fogs during just about every public appearance.

Quote du Jour

"The FTAA has stalled, I agree." -- George aWol Bush, yesterday.

Excellent! The FTAA, or Free Trade Area of the Americas (ALCA is the Spanish acronym), threatened to be NAFTA on steroids, pitting American workers against sweatshop labor throughout the Western hemisphere, while also pitting poor farmers throughout Latin America against wasteful, subsidized US agribusiness. In other words, like NAFTA it would have hurt the many to benefit the few--in all countries involved. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez probably deserves the most credit for stalling FTAA, and hopefully for stopping the insidious creep of the crime of "globalization."

According to the BBC article, W is now counting on the Doha round of the WTO to "trump the FTAA" because "the Doha round not only involves our neighbourhood, it involves the whole world."

Shorter W: "One way, or another, we're gonna screw you."

W is heading to a 34-nation summit in Argentina on Friday. I hope he gets the reception he so richly deserves.


What he said

Juan Cole, that is:
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Tuesday before the United Nations: "I categorically refuse the use of Iraqi soil to launch a military strike against Syria or any other Arab country . . . "But at the end of the day my ability to confront the US military is limited and I cannot impose on them my will."

So let's get this straight. The president of Iraq elected six months after the US "turned over sovereignty" on June 28, 2004 is saying before the United Nations that George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld decide whether his country can be used as a base to attack other countries, and he is unable to influence such decisions-- even though he categorically rejects any such action.

For all those "Bush's Iraq" boosters who laud the "democratic" elections of January 30 and the recent constitutional referendum, this clear admission that Iraq remains under American military occupation, and that its government is helpless before American decisions about the fate of Iraq, is a rather strong refutation. After all, no country is a "democracy" where the military calls the shots, overruling the civilian president-- how much less so if it is a foreign military! Talabani is saying that Iraq is more like Burma, Pakistan or the Sudan than it is like democracies such as India or Brazil.


Here are some excerpts from an op-ed written last week:
I think there is an unspoken subtext in our national political culture right now. In fact I think it's a subtext to our society. I think that a lot of people are carrying around in their heads, unarticulated and even in some cases unnoticed, a sense that the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks. That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed, or won't be fixed any time soon. That our pollsters are preoccupied with "right track" and "wrong track" but missing the number of people who think the answer to "How are things going in America?" is "Off the tracks and hurtling forward, toward an unknown destination."

I'm not talking about "Plamegate." As I write no indictments have come up. I'm not talking about "Miers." I mean . . . the whole ball of wax. Everything. Cloning, nuts with nukes, epidemics; the growing knowledge that there's no such thing as homeland security; the fact that we're leaving our kids with a bill no one can pay. A sense of unreality in our courts so deep that they think they can seize grandma's house to build a strip mall; our media institutions imploding--the spectacle of a great American newspaper, the New York Times, hurtling off its own tracks, as did CBS. The fear of parents that their children will wind up disturbed, and their souls actually imperiled, by the popular culture in which we are raising them. Senators who seem owned by someone, actually owned, by an interest group or a financial entity. Great churches that have lost all sense of mission, and all authority. Do you have confidence in the CIA? The FBI? I didn't think so.
I believe there's a general and amorphous sense that things are broken and tough history is coming.
Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, "I got mine, you get yours."
Which prophet of doom wrote all that (and more)? James Howard Kunstler? Richard Heinberg? Noam Chomsky? Me???

Nope. That was written by Peggy Noonan, and published in last Thursday's Wall Street Journal. Peggy Noonan, who played such a large role in derailing the trolley working as a speechwriter for Reagan and Bush Sr., and as a campaign consultant for Bush Jr. last year.

She helps morons destroy the world, and then marvels that the world is being destroyed. Amazing.

What they take offense to

NY Times:
"This is an affront to me personally," an angry Mr. Frist said.

He said he would find it difficult to trust Mr. Reid any longer.

"It's an affront to our leadership," Mr. Frist said. "It's an affront to the United States of America. And it is wrong."
Holding Congressional votes open all night while twisting arms until the vote goes the way the White House wants? No problem.

Letting people drown and starve while the emperor strums a guitar? No biggy.

Outing a CIA agent? Happens all the time.

Starting a friggin' war based on lies and then making a total mess of it? No big deal.

Perjury, obstruction of justice? Who really cares?

But using the Senate rules to force Senators to do what they have long promised? An affront! An affront I say! Bring me my dueling pistol!

Go Cheney yourself, Dr. Frist.

Let us not become the evil that we deplore

Barbara Lee tried to warn Congress back in 2001, but few listened. Now we've got an American gulag holding and torturing "detainees" around the globe. From today's Washington Post:
The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA's unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.

The existence and locations of the facilities -- referred to as "black sites" in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents -- are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.

The CIA and the White House, citing national security concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions in open testimony about the conditions under which captives are held. Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long.

While the Defense Department has produced volumes of public reports and testimony about its detention practices and rules after the abuse scandals at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at Guantanamo Bay, the CIA has not even acknowledged the existence of its black sites. To do so, say officials familiar with the program, could open the U.S. government to legal challenges, particularly in foreign courts, and increase the risk of political condemnation at home and abroad.
Of course, only a government that believes in democracy and freedom would take that risk and let the people know what is going on and why. We don't have a government like that.

One year later

Without a pathetic, warmongering, flip-flopping, easily swift-boated Lurch to run against, George W. Bush now stands alone as the arrogant, ignorant, lying incompetent prick he always has been. I have little doubt that John Kerry was Karl Rove's choice to be aWol's "opponent," and Kerry played the role to perfection, opposing Bush on nothing of substance, and then conceding the election despite massive evidence of fraud.

We can hope and try to cajole the Dems into being a real opposition party, but most of them STILL don't call for withdrawal from Iraq, even as the evidence that the whole war is a fraud has become overwhelming. The two-party system is totally corrupt and has to go.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Spine found?

This afternoon, the Senate went into closed session at the request of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), seconded by Richard Durbin (D-IL):
"The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions," Reid said before the doors were closed.
Who knows how far this will go, but at least it seems to have temporarily changed the subject from Scalito back to where it belongs: Bush lied us into war, and has been covering it up ever since (with the willing assistance of numerous Democrats, of course). The story is currently featured prominently on the main web pages of the Washington Post, NY Times, and CNN.

Brain dead in Ohio--Kent State revisited

From Counterpunch:
IRAQ WAR veteran and Kent State student, Dave Airhart, is under attack for opposing the war he considers "unjust" and attempting to stop any more students from being used as "cannon fodder." On October 19, the Kent State Anti-War Committee (KSAWC) stood around the Army recruiters, who had brought a rock-climbing wall to entice students over to talk with them. A member of KSAWC and former Afghanistan and Iraq War veteran, David Airhart decided to show his opposition against the war by exercising his rights of free speech. After filling out liability forms Airhart climbed the rock wall.

Once he reached the top he took out a banner, which he held under his jacket, and draped it over the wall. The banner read: "Kent, Ohio for Peace."

Airhart was forced to climb down the back of the wall because a recruiter was coming up the front, yelling at him. As he was climbing down another recruiter came up the back and proceeded to assault Airhart both verbally and physically by pulling his shirt, forcing him off the wall. Airhart was fined $105. by city police for disorderly conduct and told that he will have to go to judicial affairs at the university where he will face probation or expulsion.
Ron Jacobs interviewed Airhart. Here are some excerpts:
Ron: Why did you join the service in the first place?

David: I watched too many war movies, and I had an overly romanticized view of what combat might be like.

Ron: What branch were you in and did you have any special training?

David: I was in the Marine Corps Infantry. I learned absolutely nothing of value in the rest of the world. I learned how to shoot guns and how to get yelled at a lot.
Ron: Was there any one incident that you were involved in or heard about that
made you decide to speak out?

David: Mostly all the murders of innocent civilians.
Ron: And what do you have to say to other folks who might be thinking about joining the military?

David: If they want, I can kill a couple of their friends and then give them some money for college, if that is what they really want. At least that way they wouldn't have to spend four miserable years in an oppressive organization where they deprive you of most of your rights and use you for whatever they feel like. I would also point out that the GI Bill is only $1004 per month. And it is only good for 36 months. That is the extent of what the military pays for your college. So if they are joining for college money, there are better and safer routes to take to afford college. If they are just romantic thrill seeking warrior types, I'd recommend joining the Iraqi resistance for they are fighting for a more noble cause.
Jacobs concludes by suggesting that everyone contact Kent State's President, Carol Cartwright, and tell her to back off of expelling or otherwise punishing Airhart.

Mob boss

The situation at Delphi indicates that the 20th Century has been effectively repealed. Delphi's CEO Robert Miller is now making offers they can't refuse, Godfather style, according to the WSWS:
Reports have emerged about a work-to-rule slowdown at Delphi’s Lockport, New York plant, whose 4,700 workers produce radiators and other vital auto components. There is a growing sentiment for a struggle by workers to defend wages and working conditions that took generations to achieve.

Denouncing the Lockport workers, Miller said, “There’s always going to be a faction that thinks we’re still living in the ’70s.” He then directly threatened any workers who sought to resist, saying, “Any plant that wants to be at the top of our plant closure list should engage in industrial action as a way of sending that message.” He added that any disruption of Delphi’s operation would increase the likelihood that the company would terminate its pension plan.
An older gentleman down the street from me was having a moving sale over the weekend, selling a houseful of stuff acquired over the years. He's looking to move into an apartment in town, hoping to get by on his Daimler-Chrysler pension and Social Security. He figures he needs to get a job, even if it's just working checkout at Krogers, to make ends meet. In addition, his house hasn't sold yet. He said the first realtor screwed him over, and the new one hasn't brought anyone by yet. He said the market is pretty flat right now, which is pretty unusual for Ann Arbor. The American Dream seems to be crumbling all around us, while both major parties continue to insist that "globalization" is the solution. It's not--it's the problem. But the party leaders respond to people like Miller, not people like my neighbor, and the current situation has given Miller and his corporate mafia brethren near dictatorial powers over workers and even whole communities.

One slimeball out, two take his place

From Juan Cole:
Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney replaced his indicted chief of staff, Irving Lewis Libby on Monday with two problematic figures-- David Addington and John Hannah.

As Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel note, Addington is the author of legal memos justifying torture of prisoners held by the US abroad, in direct contradiction of US treaty obligations under international law. I guess Cheney thinks the authors of the US constitution were appalled by cruel and unusual punishment only if American authorities committed it in North America. In reference to Addington, the Washington Post published an editorial recently calling Cheney the Vice President of torture.

Hannah was a point man in spreading the disinformation produced by Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction.

From Steve Kelley.

From John Trever.

Prepping Harriet Miers

Garry Trudeau was all ready with a week's worth of strips about Harriet prepping for the Senate--and then she dropped out! However, even though Doonesbury will be running reruns this week, the withdrawn strips can still be viewed on the web.