Bob's Links and Rants

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

From Bill Schorr.

Merkel and Smirkel--together again!

Of course Condi, being fluent in Bushish, pretends to get the joke:

Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki wonders why Bush couldn't wait until after the press conference to work out on the treadmill:

Finally! It's bash Thomas Friedman day!

Globaloney Man, who thinks we should re-invade Iraq with 150,000 more troops because those Iraqis have been just too stupid and ungrateful in response to our generous invasion of their country, gets skewered by three of my favorite bloggers: Jonathan Schwarz, Tom Tomorrow, and especially Chris Floyd (who, in the interest of "free trade" has copied Friedman's latest "Mein Kampf" into his blog in defiance of the NY Times' efforts to make people pay for Friedman's excrement).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Framing the debate

Glenn Greenwald, whose blog I need to read more often, has been watching the vile mainstream media put Nancy Pelosi into a narrow little box (with her help, to be sure). Media pundits decided that Pelosi's choices to head the important House Intelligence Committee (an oxymoron if ever there was one) were only two--Alcee Hastings, who had been impeached as a judge, and war-mongering "centrist" Dumbocrat Jane Harman of California. Under committee rules, Harman wasn't even eligible, even if she would be good for the job (she wouldn't) or if Pelosi liked her (she doesn't). Offering up the scandal-ridden Hastings as the only alternative, the press insisted on putting Pelosi in a lose-lose position. (See Greenwald's posts here, here, and here.) To Pelosi's credit, she seems to have squirmed out of that box, although the media still appears to be trying to make the nomination for her. Their choice now is Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), who is praised by Repugs including dingbat Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Not a good sign. Nancy, you've got Kucinich, Waxman, Woolsey, Conyers and a few other really good choices--don't let the media try to box you in again!

In a similar vein, Greenwald describes the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, and the media's coverage of it. The media describes how "extremes" from either side of the Iraq war debate were excluded, with the left "extreme" apparently being withdrawal of US forces--which is the majority opinion in the US these days. Greenwald:
I'd really like to know what the excluded anti-war "extreme view" is that is the equivalent of the neonconservative desire for endless warfare in Iraq and beyond. The only plausible possibility would be the view that the U.S. ought to withdraw from Iraq, and do so sooner rather than later. What else could it be? Nobody, to my knowledge, is proposing that we cede American territory to the Iraqi insurgents, so withdrawal essentially defines the far end of the anti-war spectrum.
The technical term for what the media and the politicians continue to do to us is "false dichotomy." The 2004 election was a prime example--present us with two inarticulate warmongering Yalie frat brothers and tell us this is the whole range of alternatives to be considered. It was win-win for the powers that be, and lose-lose for everyone else. I believe that the main purpose of American education these days is to make sure that students never learn to recognize false dichotomies. That way they're better prepared to serve their masters. College or the army. Wal-Mart or K-Mart. McDonalds or Wendy's. Coke or Pepsi. "Free trade" or isolationism. Hannity or Colmes. War with Iraq or war with Iran. Rudy or Hillary. In most cases, the rulers win either way. Even in cases where there is clearly a better choice (college over army), enough people will make the wrong choice (or have it forced upon them economically) that the rulers still win. The two-party system is perhaps the ultimate substantiation of a false dichotomy, and it serves its masters well.

Quote du jour

Here there is no democracy, no security, no women's rights. When I speak in parliament they threaten me. In May they beat me by throwing bottles of water at me and they shouted, "Take her and rape her." These men who are in power, never have they apologised for their crimes that they committed in the wars, and now, with the support of the US, they continue with their crimes in a different way. That is why there is no fundamental change in the situation of women.
-- Malalai Joya, 28 years old, "the youngest and most famous of all the women in the Afghan parliament." From a Guardian article on the still-miserable state of affairs for Afghan women--an article Bush apparently, like pretty much everything else, hasn't read:
Every ally can take pride in the transformation that NATO is making possible for the people of Afghanistan. Because of our efforts, Afghanistan has gone from a totalitarian nightmare to a free nation, with an elected president, a democratic constitution, and brave soldiers and police fighting for their country.

Over 4.6 million Afghan refugees have come home. It's one of the largest return movements in history. The Afghan economy has tripled in size over the past five years. About two million girls are now in school, compared to zero under the Taliban -- and 85 women were elected or appointed to the Afghan National Assembly.
-- aWol, babbling yesterday at the NATO summit about Fantasy Afghanistan. I wonder how many of those returning refugees are returning from Iraq, or maybe New Orleans? My guess is that that number is a complete lie, unless by "have come home" he means "have died." The part about zero girls in school under the Taliban is directly contradicted by the Guardian article--the woman quoted above worked in secret underground schools in Herat during Taliban times. The article makes it pretty clear that in most of Afghanistan, secret underground schools are still about the only way for girls to be educated.

And I'm guessing that most of the tripling in size of the Afghan economy has come from the resurgence of opium production.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

From John Cole.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Is the dollar crashing?

Approaching its all-time low against the euro. A weak dollar will turn the popping housing bubble into the Hindenburg as interest rates rise. On the plus side, American-made products will be more competitive on the world market. But, what do we make anymore?

Cretin du jour

Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, who is fining a subdivision resident for displaying a peace-sign wreath.

Now I know there have been numerous incidents of homeowners' associations cracking down on residents displaying signs and symbols of all sorts, including giant American flags. Since people in these neighborhoods generally have to sign away some of their freedom of expression when they move in, it is certainly arguable that certain things can (should?) be banned. If they can ban flags and manger scenes, peace signs seem like fair game, too. The Constitutional issue would be whether people should have to give up their freedom of expression in order to buy a home in certain neighborhoods; I don't know what the law is, but it seems, given how many such associations exist, that the answer is "yes, they have to." So while I would tend to side with the woman with the wreath on this one, that's not why Mr. Kearns is my cretin du jour. This is:
The subdivision's rules say no signs, billboards or advertising are permitted without the consent of the architectural control committee.

Kearns ordered the committee to require Jensen to remove the wreath, but members refused after concluding that it was merely a seasonal symbol that didn't say anything. Kearns fired all five committee members.
Somehow I think the woman with the peace sign wins that case if it ever gets to court--even in Colorado.

From Tom Toles.

From Ted Rall.

Ahead of Tomorrow

Cartoonist Tom Tomorrow is frequently ahead of the curve when it comes to ideas: His cartoons make a point, and then months or years later some pundit or politician gets credit for making the same brilliant point. Tom isn't shy about pointing this out on his blog, either. Therefore, I won't hesitate to point out that this time I was about two weeks ahead of Tomorrow. Today's This Modern World cartoon (ad viewing required) has Sparky the Penguin offer his solution to Iraq:
We take the two hundred million dollars a day we're currently pouring into Iraq and we funnel it all into an intensive top-secret project to develop the world's first working time machine--and then we go back to 2002 and pay some god-damned attention to everyone who opposed this idiotic war of choice from the start!!
To be fair, that is different from my plan from November 15, which was to use an existing time machine:
Let's set the wayback machine for 2002. Instead of cravenly voting authorization for the stupidest pResident in history to go to war, Congress decides to investigate the "evidence" presented by the administration about Iraq's phantom WMD's. Congress realizes that said pResident is lying to them, votes down the authorization and starts impeachment proceedings.

Protection Racket

Insane headline du jour: Bush to press allies on defense spending
President Bush's agenda at a
NATO summit this week will include pressing alliance members to increase defense spending. Aides say many U.S. allies are ill-equipped for modern military operations.

The defense outlays of some NATO partners are less than half those of the United States as a percentage of gross domestic product.
Discussion of Afghanistan, where NATO has 32,000 troops battling the Taliban and working on reconstruction, is likely to dominate the alliance's summit. But the Bush administration hopes to use lessons from NATO's first major combat mission to make the case for broader spending.

"I think that the president will address the issue of the need for more resources for NATO and for NATO countries to spend more for defense," said Judy Ansley, senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council. "This has been a pretty consistent theme for us."

Nicholas Burns, the U.S. undersecretary for political affairs and a former NATO ambassador, said Bush will make the case, as he did at NATO summits in Istanbul and Prague, for increased spending on systems and capabilities "that are absolutely necessary for success on the modern battlefield and in modern peacekeeping."
More weapons for "modern peacekeeping." Orwell would be so proud. We drag NATO into a pointless quagmire in Afghanistan, then insist that they buy more American-made death machines so they can kill more Afghans for us.

China and Venezuela, facing fairly obvious threats from the US, expand their militaries to only a tiny fraction of ours, and Condi complains about it. On the other hand, European countries, facing no obvious threats, are supposed to try and keep up with our insane level of military spending. My guess is that this is an attempt to impoverish Europe as we did the USSR, making it available for sweatshops in the future. I do hope the other NATO countries tell Bush to take his wars and shove them.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Another John flushed?

From Mike Thompson.

Though no good candidates have appeared on the horizon, hopefully Kerry and McCain have been removed from consideration by the stupid stuff they've said. A vain dream, I realize, as Bush has proved twice. It's not what you say, it's how much you can pay.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The "Christian" militia continues to kill as well

While the Sunni bombings and Shiite people-burnings are grabbing the headlines, the US militia continues to kill at an alarming rate.

Why do they hate us?

You think that kid might remember this for the rest of his life?

Of course, he wouldn't be motivated to run two miles for a bottle of water if we hadn't bombed the water treatment plants in the first place.

Via Tom Tomorrow.

A reminder for John McCain

And anyone else crazy enough to think that more US troops are a solution to Iraq's civil war: More US troops were sent to Baghdad earlier this year.
The Baghdad assault, dubbed Operation Together Forward, started slowly in June. It escalated in early August when about 7,200 additional U.S. troops, including an agile Stryker brigade, were brought into enforce a broad array of checkpoints, curfews and house-to-house searches.
So how'd that work out?

US forces in Iraq certainly aren't the only problem, but they are definitely a part of the problem--in fact, they created the problem. Removing them is the only thing the US is capable of doing that has any chance of improving the situation in Iraq.

Friday, November 24, 2006

America stuffs itself, shops; Bush bikes; Baghdad burns

Well-off America gave thanks yesterday for being able to live in denial for one more year, gorging on genetically-modified food laced with pesticides, hormones, and anti-biotics, passing out in front of the TV at 5 PM in a tryptophan-induced stupor, only to be awakened by the alarm clock at 3 AM to go stand in the cold waiting to buy imported crap. pResident Bush headed off to Camp David to ride the $5000 mountain bike/bribe given him by Cannondale.

Meanwhile, Iraq has a new winner in the monthly carnage sweepstakes, before October could even accept the trophy, with over 200 killed in a bomb attack yesterday, and many more already today.

Standing in line to buy stuff--back in the USSR one more time. Surviving Iraqis could tell these morons that "Target" is an appropriate name for a line of people.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Jonathan Schwarz separates the wheat from the chaff

Wheat = Australian agricultural execs, who knew that the US was going to attack Iraq a year before it happened.

Chaff = Most Americans, who knew ... nothing.

From Tom Toles.

Mr. McCain, extend this wall!

From Mike Luckovich.

John McCain
So Insane
VC tortured out his brain.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Quote du jour

"We have not failed yet." -- General John Abizaid, speaking at Harvard last Friday.

Not exactly John Paul Jones, is he?

Everything about that article is disturbing, including the crappy writing by Boston Globe writer Charles M. Sennott. (Yeah, I make mistakes too, but this isn't my job and I don't have an editor.) But really...
Speaking over the faint chants of a small group of protesters outside, US Army General John P. Abizaid told an audience at Harvard University yesterday that the war in Iraq was winnable despite the gathering dissent at home.

On a day of distant echoes of the Vietnam War, Abizaid, the senior US commander in the Middle East, and President Bush, who was in Hanoi, faced a quagmire of tough questions about the comparison of that conflict and the Iraq war.
Can you hear the distant echoes of the faint chants saying "Crappy writing! Crappy writing!?" I know I can.

Then there's the group that sponsored Abizaid's talk:
Sarah Sewall, director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, which sponsored the talk, introduced the general. She described Abizaid's "uniquely valuable perspective" and cautioned against blaming military leaders for executing decisions made by political leaders.

Referring to the way the Vietnam War polarized the country and crippled the military, she said: "We have been down that road before."
Oh yes, the poor crippled U.S. military, having to get by on only $500 billion a year, plus supplementals for all the actual wars they're fighting, while practically deafened by the faint chants of those of us who oppose those wars. It's all our fault, obviously, isn't it, Ms. Sewall?
Abizaid said the stakes were high in Iraq and in the global struggle against the rise of violent Islamic extremism, which he has dubbed "the long war."
The speech was part of a yearlong calendar of events at the Carr Center titled "The Long War Series."
Wonderful. An entire series of stupid talks on endless war (the "global struggle against the rise of violent Islamic extremism" -- yikes! That's the longest one yet).

Of course, the star idiot was Abizaid himself. Like all the lying scumbags, he says it will take one Friedman to turn the mess around:
"We absolutely are in the stage where we have got to make this work," he said. "We need to start having better effect against the sectarian violence within six months."
Of course, he couldn't leave without one more tasteless and obnoxious joke, which also happened to be a lie:
At the end of a grueling week in which he was barraged on Wednesday by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill with questions and criticism about the war, Abizaid joked with the audience about why he wore camouflage fatigues instead of his green dress uniform for the evening.

"I usually wear my green uniform," he said to a polite round of laughter. "But there was so much blood on it, I had to come in this uniform."
WIIIAI noted Abizaid's casual dress when meeting with Maliki on November 13, and again on November 16 when Abizaid showed up in his dress uni to talk to the Senate Armed Services Committee. But the next day, he's back in his fatigues speaking to "polite laughter" at Harvard. Was that committee meeting really that bloody?

Wouldn't stunned silence have been more appropriate than polite laughter to a sick "joke" like that? Better yet, why not just tell him off and walk out, like the audience did after Michael Richards' tirade?


From Tom Toles.

The thing is, it was the horses and men who broke him in the first place. "Threatening" to leave won't help; leaving might. We already know what happens when they don't leave.

Iraq is like our presidential elections--all the good choices have already been eliminated.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Welcome to America

Michelle, of You Will Anyway fame, has e-mailed me a couple of links pretty much guaranteed to restore your lack of faith in this country, in case the recent victory by the ever-so-slightly-less-evil party gave you a sliver of hope.

First is the case of an Iranian UCLA student tasered repeatedly by a campus cop, who happened to shoot someone with impunity three years ago. Cannonfire has the story, and a link to the disturbing though quite uniformative video. The cop keeps telling the guy to stand up, even though tasering reportedly makes this pretty much impossible for several minutes. Campus cops wandering around with porta-torture devices, ready to use them at the drop of a hat. Al Gonzales' wet dream. And by the way, the cop is a (first) Gulf War vet.

Second is this article about a recent survey:
Rude immigration officials and visa delays keep millions of foreign visitors away from the United States, hurt the country's already battered image, and cost the U.S. billions of dollars in lost revenue, according to an advocacy group formed to push for a better system.

To drive home the point, the Discover America Partnership released the result of a global survey on Monday which showed that international travelers see the United States as the world's worst country in terms of getting a visa and, once you have it, making your way past rude immigration officials.
And after THAT, there's those taser-toting campus pigs to deal with.

Back in the USSR, the next generation

Jim Henley comments on the latest outrageous assault on liberty by Commissar Gonzales. Here's what Torture Gonzales said:
Some people will argue nothing could justify the government being able to intercept conversations like the ones the Program targets. Instead of seeing the government protecting the country, they see it as on the verge of stifling freedom.

But this view is shortsighted. Its definition of freedom--one utterly divorced from civic responsibility--is superficial and is itself a grave threat to the liberty and security of the American people.
Henley's post includes this excerpt from Acticle 39 of the Soviet Constitution:
Enjoyment by citizens of their rights and freedoms must not be to the detriment of the interest of society or the state.
On the other hand, this is what the Declaration of Independence says:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
To summarize. According to Torture Gonzales and his Soviet predecessors, whatever rights you have are granted by and subordinate to the state, whereas according to the founding documents of the United States, the state is subordinate to you, and its rights derive from you.

Gonzales is a sick, twisted man, without the least regard for freedom or justice. It says a lot about what America has become that he is now the Attorney General.

A metaphor for the past six years

From Matt Davies.

Jesus had the same dream

From Steve Benson.

Monday, November 20, 2006

People writing good stuff

I've been fairly busy lately, so there's not a lot to read here. Bush and Condi seem to have spent more time in Vietnam than Kerry did, and now it's on to Indonesia. You can read all about it and see the silly photos, along with my silly comments, at WIIIAI. Kind of fun, really--I'm sure you'll join me in saying "I don't care if they ever come back!"

Jean links to the McGovern-Polk plan for withdrawal from Iraq. Excellent!

And newly-minted Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), formerly Secretary of the Navy under Reagan, surprises everyone with a strongly-worded op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, pointing out what should be the obvious inequities in the American economy. Most figured Webb would be second only to Holy Joe in being the most conservative "Democrat" in the Senate. But this op-ed could have been written by Dennis Kucinich. Chris Floyd and Billmon comment in greater detail.

The carnages in Iraq, Gaza and elsewhere continue unabated; I'll get back to more serious blogging soon.

From Tony Auth.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More likely, every president since Madison

From Doonesbury.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Al Jazeera English hits the jackpot in its first week--Tony Blair admits that Iraq is a disaster:
Questioning Blair on Al-Jazeera's new English-language channel, in an interview broadcast late Friday, broadcaster Sir David Frost suggested that the 2003 invasion of Iraq, backed by Britain despite widespread criticism, had "so far been pretty much of a disaster".

"It has," Blair said, before adding quickly: "But you see, what I say to people is why is it difficult in Iraq? It's not difficult because of some accident in planning.

"It's difficult because there's a deliberate strategy -- Al-Qaeda with Sunni insurgents on one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militias on the other -- to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war."

Downing Street insisted Saturday that Blair's comments had been misrepresented.

"The Prime Minister does not use the word disaster," a spokesperson told AFP.

"What he does is set out that the violence in Iraq is of course hugely regrettable, tragic and very very difficult, but that this violence is a result of malicious external intervention, not some planning error three years ago."
While Blair is far more articulate than Bush, he shares the same enormous blind spot when it comes to accusing others of the things he is most guilty of. Imagine saying "the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war" without even recognizing that that's exactly what he and Bush did nearly four years ago, leading to this disaster (a word which apparently isn't in Blair's Newspeak dictionary, although he knows it when he hears it).

And "this violence is a result of malicious external intervention?" No doubt about that. US and British troops invaded Iraq in March, 2003, and it has been getting worse ever since.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ho Ho

See George? Losing a war isn't so bad--especially when compared to fighting it endlessly.

Older but no wiser

Condiliar Rice turned 52 on Tuesday--the Vietnamese gave her a party:

She's smiling--they were probably discussing the millions of people killed in the Vietnam war.

Anyway, Condiliar figured that it is her place to put China in its place:
Beijing has spent heavily in recent years on adding submarines, missiles, fighter planes and other high-tech weapons to its arsenal and extending the reach of the 2.3 million-member People's Liberation Army, the world's largest fighting force.

Its reported military budget rose more than 14 percent this year to $35.3 billion, but outside estimates of China's true spending are up to three times that level.

"There are concerns about China's military buildup," Rice told a television interviewer. "It sometimes seemed outsized for China's regional role."
"U.S. policy is aimed at having China be a responsible stakeholder in international politics," she replied. "That means that Chinese energy, Chinese growth, Chinese incredible innovation and entrepreneurship, would be channeled into an international economy in which everybody can compete and compete equally."

Rice, in Asia with President Bush for a regional economic forum, said China's economic growth "has been a net gain for the international system." But she also ticked off a list of U.S. concerns including questions of economic fairness and China's record on human rights.

"There are concerns about a rising China, concerns about China's transition, concerns about whether the Chinese economy will in fact act in a way that is consistent with the level playing field that the international economy needs," Rice said in the interview with CNBC Asia.
So, if China's military budget is actually three times what is reported, that means that a country with five times the population of the U.S. spends one-fifth as much on "defense." Has China signed some treaty assigning it a "regional role?" Is there some new version of the Tripartite Pact in which China agrees to be only a pipsqueak regional power, with the parts of Asia the U.S. isn't currently occupying as its sphere of interest? Did someone appoint Condi to determine when China was getting out of line?

Oh right--aWol did.

If the Bush administration is concerned about economic fairness and human rights (they're not), they've got plenty to do here in the U.S. without bothering to preach to China. The arrogance of these idiots is mind-boggling.

Dream Job

You can't make this stuff up--Trent Lott is the new Minority Whip.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Junior finally goes to Vietnam

There's fantasy...
Some day an elected leader from the United States will be sitting down with elected leaders from the Middle East, talking about the peace, and a generation of Americans will be better off for it.
George W. Bush at Florida Victory Rally, November 6, 2006

... and there's reality:
Bush's [Vietnam] itinerary promised some interesting moments. Before attending a state dinner Friday evening, Bush was to drop by the headquarters of the Communist Party to talk with its general secretary.
Just looking at that first quote--he says a "generation of Americans will be better off." They've talked about the "war on terror" lasting 50 years or more, or some two generations. So even on the extremely long shot that he's right--is making just one generation of Americans better off really worth screwing up two generations of Americans (and REALLY screwing up several generations of Middle Easterners)?

The Rummy touch

Last evening, Herr Rumsfeld spoke at the American Spectator Annual Dinner:
I looked at the first edition the other day, and the -- they sent me the people who'd written in it, and Milton Friedman had a piece in there on the all -- the case for the all-volunteer Army. And I think it was your very first edition. And Milton Friedman, God bless him, who's still going strong and is such a talent, he had piece in there, and the Spectator printed it.
This morning's headline?

Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman dies at 94

You're probably wondering, as I was, who else Rummy mentioned in his speech: Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and President Bush.

Just saying.


Quote du jour

NY Times:
Downtrodden Republicans enjoyed the spectacle of the split between Ms. Pelosi and those Democrats who rallied behind Mr. Hoyer.

"I can't believe they are self-destructing before they even get started," said Representative Ray LaHood, Republican of Illinois. "Everyone on our side is giddy."
Actually, Ray, the word is "insane."

That the Dems don't have a Hammer to make sure every lemming acts exactly the same way should be seen as a good sign--for the country, if not the party. Hopefully LaHood is giddy about the chances that lawmakers will now be more likely to evaluate legislation on its merits, but I'm sure that he's not.


But he's a Republican! And a maverick!

Murtha could prove to be a problematic candidate because of his penchant for trading votes for pork projects and his ties to the Abscam bribery sting in 1980, the only lawmaker involved who wasn't charged.
Now, aside from his proposal for withdrawing troops from Iraq (though not the Middle East in general), I don't know much about Murtha. I know he's been in Congress a long time, and has been a big supporter of our grotesquely overgrown military. So chances that he's scum (or Abscum) seem pretty good to me.

But when was the last time you heard John McCain referred to as "a problematic candidate for the presidency due to questions about his involvement in the Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980's (which cost the taxpayers some two trillion dollars), being the only member of the so-called Keating Five still in the Senate?"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

You do really stupid stuff, people get hurt

Even if your "study group" isn't composed of white-washing war criminals.

Chris Floyd examines the options available to the Iraq Study Group, the Democrats, or anyone else trying or pretending to try to find out which way to go in Iraq. Floyd looks at eight options, ranging from immediate withdrawal to John McCain's call for sending in even more troops. Floyd says that seven of the eight options lead to full-blown civil war, with the eighth, McCain's being even worse. (It would prevent civil war by uniting the Iraqis against the common enemy--us. Of course, once they defeated us, they could get on with the civil war thing.)

As far as I can see, there is only one decent solution. Let's set the wayback machine for 2002:

Instead of cravenly voting authorization for the stupidest pResident in history to go to war, Congress decides to investigate the "evidence" presented by the administration about Iraq's phantom WMD's. Congress realizes that said pResident is lying to them, votes down the authorization and starts impeachment proceedings.

Of course, to have a Congress like that, we'd have to set the wayback machine waaaaay farther back than 2002.

And, since we don't have a wayback machine, I agree with Floyd: Immediate withdrawal would be terrible for Iraq, but better than any other option, including staying the course. Once we invaded, there was never going to be a good solution.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

From Mr. Fish.

Try talk radio or Fox News...

From Rob Rogers.

From R.J. Matson.

From Jeff Parker.

From Mike Keefe.

From Tom Toles.

The Turdblossom has wilted

Monday, November 13, 2006

The best news

Dennis Kucinich is potentially the next chair of the Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations in the House. And he thinks we need to recall why we're in the mess in Iraq, and hold the crooks who "led" us there accountable. From a Truthdig interview:
Even now there are people who were urging President Bush to go to war who are staying that wrongful course. And people have to be held accountable. You can't lead this country into a war that has lost thousands of U.S. troops and perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, [and that has] cost the American taxpayers $400 billion—and maybe up to $2 trillion—and leave it with some kind of blithe apology. There has to be accountability. When the people elected Democrats, they also voted for accountability.
We need to have hearings on Iraq again. We need to go over again why we went there. We need to review the statements and all the errors that were made, and from that we bring the country together to take a new direction. It's all fact-based. And then we start to heal our nation. But we cannot heal America if we continue with policies that are based on lies. We'll never be able to bring closure to this Iraq matter unless we tell the truth about what happened.
Dennis is one of the very few good members of Congress. I do wish, however, that he wouldn't mention "errors" or "mistakes." This isn't a case of putting a letter in the wrong mailbox--it's more like putting bombs in mailboxes. Maybe some went into mailboxes they weren't intended for, maybe some bombs were duds, maybe some killed more people than they were meant to (or fewer). The solution isn't to improve the addressing and delivery systems, or to raise the reliability and specificity of the bombs--because those aren't the main problems! The main problem is that some maniac is putting bombs in mailboxes, and until he is locked up and his bombs taken away, no one is safe.

The problem isn't whether we had too few or too many troops, or whether there was a plan for the occupation. The problem is that the invasion itself was a crime of the highest magnitude, and the criminal is still on the loose. George W. Bush IS everything he accused Saddam Hussein of being, about a million times over. He needs to be stopped before he kills again. Go Dennis!

He's right, but such a snotty way to say it!

NY Times:
The Democrats...said a phased redeployment of troops would be their top priority when the new Congress convenes in January, even before an investigation of the conduct of the war.

"We need to begin a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq in four to six months," Mr. Levin said in an appearance on the ABC News program "This Week." In a telephone interview later, Mr. Levin added, "The point of this is to signal to the Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over and that they are going to have to solve their own problems."
I of course would prefer that we complete a total withdrawal of forces from Iraq in four to six minutes, but I've been saying that since March 20, 2003. Phased redeployment in four to six months is an improvement over "stay the course until the job is done," and probably the best we're going to get.

I also agree that the Iraqis are going to have to solve their own problems, but the fact is that what we're doing is a brutal, illegal occupation, not a "commitment." We should withdraw from Iraq for two reasons: one, because we have no right to be there, and two, because our troops are making a bad situation worse. If there were any evidence whatsoever that the US military was actually improving the situation in Iraq, I might be willing to agree that that fact trumps the first. If we had shown ourselves to be capable of cleaning up our mess, maybe we should stay a little longer. But that is not the case. The illegal occupiers are not making a bad situation better; they should leave. And stop blaming the victims for the mess we've made!

Random post-election rants

  • That the Democrats won back control of both the House and Senate doesn't mean that the Repugs didn't steal the election. For one thing, it wasn't one election, but hundreds of them. And given the black boxes, robo-calling, voter purging, and other dirty tricks that clearly went on, it seems certain that several of these elections were stolen, most likely in the Republican's favor. There should probably be another ten to twenty Democrats in the House, and maybe one or two more senators as well. That second item is particularly important, since as many columnists and bloggers have now pointed out,
  • Holy Joe Lieberman is now the most powerful person in the Senate. He holds the entire Democratic "majority" hostage, since should they attempt to do something he doesn't like, such as block some horrible Bush nominee, he can simply threaten to take his ball to the other side of the aisle. All of a sudden, the Dems don't have all of those juicy committee chairmanships. Knowing the relative commitments of the Dems to the good of the country and the good of the party, I can't imagine there's any issue whatsoever that the Dems would be willing to fight to the end for if it meant it would cost them their majority status. So Bush may have lost Bill Frist controlling 55 senators, but now he's got Lieberman agreeing with 49 Repug senators and having the remaining 50 by the short hairs. One more Senate seat would have been nice--then they could have just kicked Holy Joe out of the party for good.
  • This charade that Baker, Gates & Co. are the good, "grownup" Republicans come to clean up Junior's mess has got to stop. Replacing obvious criminals with the more subtle variety is hardly an improvement.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


As I reported last week, Zipcar car sharing is now a reality here in Ann Arbor. Being a serial early-adopter when it comes to things greenish, I signed up right away. The cost is $30 a year annual fee, plus $8 per hour for using a car (including insurance and gas, but not including Michigan sales tax, which adds another 48 cents per hour). As promised, reserving a car was simple on the web. On election day, I took a friend to lunch in a Zipcar Ford Escape (I'm not sure if sharing a small SUV is really green or not, but my friend wanted to see what the Escape was like).

This is the Escape. Zipcar gives the cars names--this one is "Eubanks."

The other car available at this location is a Toyota Matrix--"McGriff."

The "Zipcard" is used to unlock and lock the car--just place it over the reader in the windshield. Eubanks had all of 19 miles on it when I started driving it. When I returned it an hour later, placing the card over the reader one last time locked the doors and ended my session.

All Zipcars have XM Satellite Radio.

The closest cars are about a mile from my work and two miles from my house, making them substantially less convenient than my car in the garage. Most of them, however, are right on the bus lines, so they're not that hard to get to. I may discuss car sharing with a few of my neighbors--having one car in the neighborhood with Zipcar as backup would probably be enough for me to give up having my own car.

Once I was officially a member, I was able to see how many cars Zipcar has in large cities like New York, Boston, and Chicago. The coverage is quite impressive--within easy walking distance of a large percentage of the population. I don't know why anyone in one of these cities would choose owning a private vehicle, with all of the parking and insurance hassles, when Zipcar is available (and they've already got good public transit).

From Chan Lowe.

Let's hope not

From Rob Rogers.

So much for checks and balances

Reuters' Claudia Parsons, likely speaking for most of the so-called liberal media, doesn't believe that Senate confirmation means anything, even from an opposition controlled Senate:
Rumsfeld will be replaced by former CIA director Robert Gates, a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group assessing alternative strategies for Iraq.
This in a news story, not an op-ed or even "analysis" piece. No "pending Senate confirmation." Nothing.

Knowing the Democrats, Parsons is probably right, but it would be nice to see her remind the public, and the Senate, that confirmation is required. Which in this case should not be forthcoming.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Weasel quote du jour

There is a great opportunity for us to show the country that Republicans and Democrats are equally as patriotic and equally as concerned about the future and we can work together.
-- aWol, today

Of course there was no such opportunity in the past six years, was there George, as you and your minions ignored and belittled any Democratic (and democratic) concerns about anything, with your secret task forces, recess appointments, and refusal to answer legitimate and necessary questions. I have my concerns that W may be right about Repugs and Dumbos being equally concerned about the future (which for both means only one thing--2008), but with his Gates and Bolton nominations in the past couple of days, he has already shown that he has no more interest in working together than he did before.


Maintain that course

Condi the idiot opened her mouth again:
Rice said President Bush has promised "that we will certainly make adjustments to our policy" in Iraq. "We will certainly look to new ideas."

But while "the American people clearly were voting for change, as the president said," they "were not voting for anything less than a success in Iraq."

There you go again, Condi, contradicting your lover boss. Here's what he said Monday:
Oh, some of them are saying we ought to pull out now. Others are saying we ought to pull out at a fixed date before the job is done. Actually, one of the members of the House of Representatives, a distinguished member, said the best way to handle the situation is to remove our troops to an island 5,000 miles away. I'm not kidding you. That's not a plan for victory. Nineteen House members introduced legislation that would cut off the funds for our troops. One Democrat Senator, one of Chuck's colleagues, she said, "We haven't coalesced around a single plan, but we're in general agreement on basic principles." Think about that. Yes, they're in agreement on principles: Get out before the job is done.
Jeez, Condi, it sure sounds like W was saying that a vote for the Dems was a vote for something less than a success in Iraq, in other words, a vote for reality. (BTW, it is MUCH more fun to read W's campaign speeches now!) You can't accuse us of voting against success if we vote Democratic, and then saying we didn't when we did. (Yikes--that's almost a Rummy sentence!) But of course you can--you're Condiliar Rice! And, as always, she has more:
"The American commitment to the goals that took us to Iraq remains absolutely steadfast, and that is what is important," Rice said.

Interviewer Derwin Pereira of the Singapore newspaper The Straits Times asked, "So you're saying that the U.S. will stay the course?"

Rice replied: "The United States will certainly keep after the goal that took us to Iraq, because it's too important to our own security. Iraq has to be successful for America to be secure. And so we will maintain that course."
"Iraq has to be successful for America to be secure." Jeez, if that were even remotely true, these morons sure should have thought of it before turning Iraq into a security nightmare. What Condi really means by "our own security," of course, is the freedom of Chevron and their co-criminals in the oil industry to steal Iraq's sweet, sweet crude. And she has clearly renewed her chutzpah license by talking about "commitment to the goals that took us to Iraq," which were, before being flushed down the memory hole, disarming Iraq of WMD's, which was accomplished over ten years ago, and removing a brutal dictator from power, which happened within a month of the invasion. Mission friggin' accomplished! Declare victory and COME HOME. So what the Cheney stupid course are you maintaining now, Condi?


It should be a given by now--if Bush nominates someone, that someone is scum. Chris Floyd and Jason Leopold have the truckloads of dirt on W's nominee as our new Secretary of War (calling someone the "Secretary of Defense" doesn't mean he has anything to do with defense).

Lying to Congress, fixing facts and intelligence to support policy, war crimes, Saddam loving, Saddam hating, breaking laws, October surprise, treason--all of the qualifications Bush ever looks for in a cabinet member.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The good George

From AP:
George McGovern, the former senator and Democratic presidential candidate, said Thursday that he will meet with more than 60 members of Congress next week to recommend a strategy to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by June.

If Democrats don't take steps to end the war in Iraq soon, they won't be in power very long, McGovern told reporters before a planned speech at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"I think the Democratic leadership is wise enough to know that if they're going to follow the message that election sent, they're going to have to take steps to bring the war to a conclusion," he said.
Wise enough? Perhaps. Honest and courageous enough? I doubt it. Still, I hope they listen to McGovern:
"The best way to reduce this insurgency is to get the American forces out of there," McGovern said. "That's what's driving this insurgency."

The Rummy we had--the known unknowing

Time has an illustrated collection of Rummyisms. Skipping the most obvious (known knowns, the army you have), here are my favorites. You should follow the link and check out the pictures as well.
Needless to say, the President is correct. Whatever it was he said.
-- February 28, 2003

We do know of certain knowledge that [Osama bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead. And we know of certain knowledge that we don't know which of those happens to be the case.
-- December 27, 2001

I don't do quagmires.
-- July 24, 2003

I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started.
-- April 3, 2003

Okay, I can almost understand what he means by that last one. Still, it seems pretty obvious why he and aWol got along so well--they misspoke the same language.

Always a downside

Time tells us that, with Rummy's departure, our fate is now in Condiliar's hands.

Not feeling better.

That hard-hitting liberal media

If the Democrats want to flex their muscles, it looks like the Gates nomination is the place to start. Not only has EVERY nomination Bush has made been crappy, but this one, like the others, was made with no consultation. No sitting down to chat with Democrats (or apparently even Republicans) in the Senate--he just said that Rumsfeld is gone and here's the guy who's replacing him. On that basis alone, the Dems should reject him--if W won't consult, they won't approve.

And it's certainly not like they'd be losing any great prize here. While it has been glossed over by two decades of St. Ronald canonization, the Reagan-Bush administration also acted illegally, unilaterally, and atrociously, and Gates was right in the middle of it. While Bush Sr. bemoaned, incorrectly, that the Iran-Contra investigations had cost the crooks involved money and careers as he pardoned them, the fact is that Iran-Contra was genocide on the Nicaraguan side and treason on the Iran side. The leading figures, like North, Reagan, Bush, Poindexter and others, should have, at the least, been locked up for the remainder of their miserable lives. Those on the periphery, as Gates was (maybe), should have at the very least been required to tell all they know, on penalty of never working for the U.S. government again. Gates didn't do that.

Nevertheless, the NY Times seems ready to roll out the carpet for Gates. Their lead editorial today says (emphasis added):
The challenge for Mr. Rumsfeld's chosen successor, Robert Gates, who was a deputy national security adviser to Mr. Bush's father and then served as director of central intelligence, will be to bring home to the president how desperate the situation has become in Iraq and to see that the war's conduct from here on is dictated by reality, not ideology.
Mr. Gates's most urgent task, assuming he is confirmed...
And the Times' article on Gates seems to suggest that Iran-Contra was just a bunch of nasty Washington partisanship that might scare off a gentle soul like Gates:
If Mr. Gates was initially reluctant to return to Washington, it may be because he knows what it means to be at the center of political crossfire. First picked by President Reagan in 1987 to succeed Mr. Casey, Mr. Gates withdrew in the face of senators' concern that he had not been candid about his knowledge of the Iran-contra affair.
Any explanation of whether he wasn't candid, or why, or why the senators were concerned? Not in this article. Don't want to annoy our chosen SecDef, now do we.

The Times does offer a brief critical quote from a former subordinate, who says "This is not a person with a history of telling truth to power." But of course the Times either didn't give this subordinate (must be sour grapes, right??) a chance to give examples, nor to explain it themselves. The implication, as I see it, is all the hubbub was just those nasty prima-donna senators asking pushy questions of the important people.

To balance out this basically meaningless, incomplete and undercut criticism, the Times offers positive quotes from two people you've probably heard of: David Boren and Bobby Inman. Inman provides this brilliant observation:
Bobby R. Inman, a former C.I.A. deputy director and National Security Agency director and an old friend of Mr. Gates, called him "a good listener" who, "after he makes up his mind, is very decisive."
Ummm...what does it matter if you're decisive AFTER you've made up your mind?

Blame America First

Alicublog has a selection of wingnut pundits and bloggers blaming the voters for being cut-and-run wusses. But I think (hope) that idiot Chicago cartoonist Eric Allie takes the prize:

Basically, these wingnut pundits treat America the way the truck salesman treats Homer Simpson when trying to sell him a snowplow:
Homer: Well, I really should discuss this with my wife.
Salesman: [scoffs] Your wife? [cracks an imaginary whip]
Homer: What, you think I'm going to buy a $20,000 truck just because you make that noise?
Salesman: [does it again] [and again] [and again]
Homer: [on his knees] I'll take it!
Unfortunately, it works most of the time, which is why even most of the Democrats tend (or try) to use tough-guy talk. Even hint to Americans that they might be called a wimp and they are putty in your hands.

From Cam Cardow.

From Patrick Chappatte (Switzerland).

From Mike Keefe.

From Tom Toles.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

They'll never believe it

If this country recovers in 50 years, no one will ever believe this freak show was in the US Senate.

They're creepy and they're kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They're all together ooky,
Santorum Family.

Their house is overflowin'
With Little Ricky's spawn
We're really glad they're gone
Santorum Family.

(My God!)

So get your friggin' war on
A doggie you can climb on
It's time to say so long
Santorum Family.

WIIIAI has more
, including a justification for picking on Little Ricky's family at this time.

The truth of the matter

From Loser Bush's press conference:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Last week you told us that Secretary Rumsfeld will be staying on. Why is the timing right now for this, and how much does it have to do with the election results?

THE PRESIDENT: Right. No, you and Hunt and Keil came in the Oval Office, and Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? And my answer was, they're going to stay on. And the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.

The truth of the matter is, as well -- I mean, that's one reason I gave the answer, but the other reason why is I hadn't had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet, and I hadn't had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet at that point.
The truth of the matter is "Bush is a liar." The whole press corps should have walked out on him.

And they were certainly willing to inject Saddam's verdict in the final days of a campaign.

Just be glad it wasn't Iran

The Bushies will do ANYTHING to deflect the news cycle. They couldn't stand the headlines about the big Democratic win that they finally went ahead and axed Rummy. Replacing him with another Iran-Contra crook, I see.

If the Dems win in Virginia and take control of the Senate, I hope they reject Gates and every other scumbag Bush nominates until he finally offers up one of the following: Dennis Kucinich, Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, or Natalie Maines.

Most relieved piece of furniture in Washington this morning

The chair for the Speaker of the House. Chair, your long personal nightmare is over.

Quotes du jour

Nah Nah Nah Nah, Nah Nah Nah Nah, Hey Hey Insane Evil People, Goodbye

It's so nice to have the sane evil people back running a few things. Oh sane evil people, I will never take you for granted again.
-- Jonathan Schwarz
Since it was Bush who said that if the Democrats win America loses, I suppose the only remaining question is whether he'll fly to Pakistan to offer our surrender to Bin Ladin or invite Bin Ladin to come to Washington.
-- Billmon

From Boondocks.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Quote du jour

A country ruled by a political party that is great at winning elections but terrible at actually governing is heading for one hell of a smash up, sooner or later. The only question is how long it will take and how bad the crash will be -- in the real world if not in the ballot booth.
-- Billmon, in a post on how the Rovians have intertwined politics and governance, with huge success in the first and abysmal failure in the latter. He compares the Rovians with FDR's New Dealers, who also intertwined politics and governance, but were actually able to do the second one.


From Bill Day.

From Kevin Siers.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Giving away nuclear secrets

You've probably already read about how the Bushies posted documents which "constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb." Chris Floyd adds a lot to the story, including how these postings, intended supposedly to let wingnut researchers conduct their own trial of Saddam (as if one kangaroo court weren't enough), also provide plenty of evidence for the trial of pretty much the entire Bush family and US foreign policy in general.

Of course, the wingnuts have already demonstrated that they have no concept of time, believing that this evidence that Iraq at one time (16 years ago) WAS close to building a bomb means that Iraq would ALWAYS be close to building a bomb, despite years of inspections, sanctions, and destruction. And even if Iraq wasn't close to building a bomb, by George they wanted to and might one day, therefore we just had to invade. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Take Bush with you, please, oh evil one!

CNN: "Vice President Dick Cheney will spend Election Day hunting in South Dakota."

My attack ad

  • Debbie Stabenow voted for the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act, which combined deprive us of the right of habeus corpus and most of the Bill of Rights, while basically sanctioning torture.
  • Debbie Stabenow voted for the odious Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which makes it nearly impossible for people financially crippled by illness, divorce or other family tragedy to get back on their feet.
  • Although she voted against the authorization for the Iraq war in 2002, Debbie Stabenow has done nothing since to stop it, voting time and again for bills authorizing hundreds of billions of dollars to be wasted fighting a pointless war.
  • Debbie Stabenow. Facilitating the fascist takeover of America.

A pretty atrocious record, no? You'd think her opponent would jump all over this, right?

Nope. Mike Bouchard blames Stabenow for only getting one bill passed (like she could get anything through the Repug-controlled Senate even if she tried), for giving social security to illegal immigrants (a bogus charge), and for not caving on EVERY Bush tax cut (although in Stabenow's ads, she brags about how she voted FOR tax cuts).

To summarize: "Debbie Stabenow--not bad enough. Michigan needs someone even worse. I'm Mike Bouchard, and I approved this message." Frankly, I think Bouchard's latest ad, "I've got a cute daughter," is more compelling.

[Update 11/7 2 PM] I've gotten some e-mail, so let me be clear. I do not support Mike Bouchard. Debbie Stabenow is a terrible senator; Mike Bouchard would be much worse. I voted for Green Party candidate David Sole this morning. If Stabenow loses by one vote, it's her vote for the torture bill that cost her the election, not my vote for Sole.

From Steve Kelley.

From Milt Priggee.

Better ways to blow $339 billion

From Jen Sorensen.

I like the drunken bet with Putin. Bush did a lot less damage back when he was drinking. And who knows? Bush might win THAT bet, something he has no chance of in Iraq.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam convicted, sentenced to death

And if the polls don't show a Repug bounce, you can be sure Osama will be "caught" tomorrow.

None of Saddam's numerous American accomplices were sentenced with him.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What's the matter with Shadrinsk?

I'm still reading David Satter's Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union. Starting on page 310, Satter describes a train trip he took from Moscow to Shadrinsk, a town near the geographical center of the Soviet Union, in June 1980. The key topics of interest at the time, to Satter anyway, were the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Jimmy Carter's resultant boycott of the Moscow Olympics. I found both the attitudes of the Russians with whom Satter talked and Satter himself to be fascinating, and quite reminiscent of Thomas Frank's book about the geographical center of the American Union, What's the Matter with Kansas?

Here are a few selections from Satter's account of his trip:
"We just gave Afghanistan help," [a schoolteacher] said, apparently perplexed by the whole controversy, "just as the Americans gave us help during the Second World War."

"So you don't see the war in Afghanistan as an invasion?"

"Not at all, this is Soviet help. It's all official, the appeal for help was printed in our newspapers."
* * * * *
No one doubted--or appeared to doubt--that the Soviet invasion was "fraternal aid" offered in response to the Karmal government's "call for help," although the Karmal government did not exist at the time the aid was requested, a fact that should have been obvious to everyone.
* * * * *
On the afternoon of the second day of our journey, I was standing in the corridor with a young, uniformed soldier who, like me, was looking out at the passing countryside. ... I asked how he felt about the war.

"I support the presence of our troops in Afghanistan," he said. "We want to put Afghanistan on the right path with a socialist government and modern industry so it can be independent of its neighbors, like China and Pakistan."
* * * * *
"If I had my last loaf of bread and you needed it," said the first Volodya, "I'd cut it in half. I don't care if you are English, American, Vietnamese, Israeli. I don't care what you are. We're all people. I'm sure that we went into Afghanistan for purely humanitarian reasons, to help others."
* * * * *
The local newspaper ... and the regional newspaper ... dedicated most of their news coverage to the grain harvest or truancy at the factories, and the national newspapers and television depicted the invasion as "fraternal help." The result was that in isolated Shadrinsk, propaganda was reality.
* * * * *
At lunchtime, we were joined at our table in the hotel's restaurant by a muscular, crew-cut construction worker. "You Americans are clever people," he said. "My God, you are clever. You came here to ask about Afghanistan. And in how many countries do you have your forces? How many bases surround the entire Soviet Union? Afghanistan is our southern neighbor. Just remember that. We gave aid to Afghanistan just the way we sent aid to Spain in the Spanish civil war, to keep the war from spreading. In case you're interested, everyone here supports the government."
* * * * *
We both had offers to dance and, afterward, [Newsweek correspondent] Bill asked my [dance] partner, a pretty nineteen-year-old shopgirl, if the fact that she liked Western jeans and music meant she did not like the Soviet Union.

"No," she said, emphatically, "I love the Soviet Union."
I wonder if any reporters have asked Kansans if their propensity for wearing clothes made in China and watching TV's made in Korea means that they don't like America.
* * * * *
The vast Eurasian sky was full of stars and I had the sense that a dieu trompeaux presided over this forgotten town where, in defiance of all rational logic, people were suffused with the sense of participating in the march of historical progress, and gave the impression of silently marching in step.
* * * * *
After toasts to "peace" and "friendship," Oleg became emotional.

"Tell Carter," he said, "that the Russians don't want to fight. Tell him we know how to fight, but we don't want to fight."

He drained a glass of vodka and then recited the poem by Yevtushenko "Do the Russians Want War?" As he came to the end of the poem, Oleg repeated the last lines at the top of his voice: "RUSSIANS DON'T WANT WAR, RUSSIANS DON'T WANT WAR, RUSSIANS DON'T WANT WAR."

Oleg's friend Vitya interrupted the conversation and said that events in Afghanistan were proof that the Soviet Union never abandoned a friend.
I don't have Frank's book at hand, so I can't match these quotes up with some from "What's the Matter with Kansas?" But I can sure imagine some Iranian reporter going into a bar in Topeka or Dodge City and having a few beers with some of the locals when one of them says "You tell ol' Ahmedinajad or whatever his name is that we don't want to have to kick his ass, but we will. You tell him that. 'Cause we're proud to be Americans, 'cuz at least we know we're free--GOD BLESS THE USA!" And the crowd in the bar responds "USA! USA! USA!"

In addition to Satter's amazement at the brainwashing of the Russian citizens, I am struck by how little Satter seems to be aware of his own brainwashing. He presents the Russians' comments about America as so obviously, completely wrong, even though the Carter administration had fueled the instability in Afghanistan by supporting anti-government mujahadeen (what we would call in other cases "insurgents" or "terrorists") for months before the Soviet invasion, and that they were already contemplating support for a certain Iraqi despot named Saddam Hussein in his plans to launch a war against Iran. Satter also doesn't mention the ongoing support for brutal killers in various countries in Central America and elsewhere, at that time. And he certainly doesn't mention that the average American wouldn't have been any more informed about these activities than the average Russian was about Afghanistan (probably less so--the Russians at least seemed to know where it was!).

Then again, I'm sure MY comments here are suffused with biases and misconceptions from all sorts of directions. Propaganda is reality, I'm afraid.

[Update, 10:20 PM] WIIIAI writes, in reference to my imaginary Dodge City bar scene above:
Music hall song from the 1870s, when Britain considered going to war with the Ottoman Empire for, you know, humanitarian reasons:
We don't want to fight
But, by Jingo, if we do,
We've got the ships,
We've got the men,
We've got the money, too.

Happy days are here again?

Arthur Silber can't find anything to get excited about in a possible Democratic victory on Tuesday:
Let's rephrase the old cliche, to make it fully accurate. When faced with dictatorship, torture, and endless war and death, the Democrats will rearrange the atoms, to be found in the molecules, which make up the imperceptible pieces of dust, that rest upon the cushions, that sit on the deck chairs of the Titanic.
Silber points out that it is delusional to believe that a Democratic Congress will do anything (positive) of importance. Clearly, a Democratic Congress will not:
  • Impeach Bush and Cheney
  • Force the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq (or anywhere else)
  • Prevent a war with Iran
  • Repeal any of the horrendous legislation passed in the last five-plus years, from the Patriot Act through the Military Commissions Act (Torture the Constitution Act).
  • Reduce the military budget
Silber links to a John Walsh article which points out that most of the Democratic challengers in competitive races were chosen by Rahm Emanuel and his Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee because they were pro-war; anti-war Dems in the primaries had to compete against these Demperialists and Rahm's money, and most of them lost (the anti-war Dems who won aren't getting any help from Rahm).

The election was lost, basically without notice, in the primaries, and more fundamentally lost long before that, when the country acquiesced in letting two big-money imperialist parties decide who the candidates will be before anyone is even paying attention. Rahm's bombers won't save the world, even if they win next Tuesday.

Soon, the days of "quagmire" will be remembered fondly

According to Patrick Cockburn, things in already-horrible Iraq are deteriorating rapidly.
The Sunni insurgents seem to be following a plan to control all the approaches to Baghdad. They have long held the highway leading west to the Jordanian border and east into Diyala province. Now they seem to be systematically taking over routes leading north and south.
In some isolated neighbourhoods in Baghdad, food shortages are becoming severe. Shops are open for only a few hours a day. "People have been living off water melon and bread for the past few weeks," said one Iraqi from the capital. The city itself has broken up into a dozen or more hostile districts, the majority of which are controlled by the main Shia militia, the Mehdi Army.

The scale of killing is already as bad as Bosnia at the height of the Balkans conflict. An apocalyptic scenario could well emerge - with slaughter on a massive scale. As America prepares its exit strategy, the fear in Iraq is of a genocidal conflict between the Sunni minority and the Shias in which an entire society implodes. Individual atrocities often obscure the bigger picture where:

* upwards of 1,000 Iraqis are dying violently every week;

* Shia fighters have taken over much of Baghdad; the Sunni encircle the capital;

* the Iraqi Red Crescent says 1.5 million people have fled their homes within the country;

* the Shia and Sunni militias control Iraq, not the enfeebled army or police.

Supplemental Insurance

Who gave more money to Democratic Congressional candidates than anyone?


Who gave fifty percent more than that to Republicans?


Via Billmon.

If the Dems win big on Tuesday, you know they'll feel grateful to their top five donors--all of whom gave much more to the Repugs.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

John Kerry Is a Republican Mole

I thought Caspar Weinberger was dead. The former defense secretary and war criminal IS dead, but his son, Cap Jr., lives on. He's apparently a Repug like dad. Nevertheless, I see that Cap Jr. has been thinking exactly what I've been thinking lately: John Kerry Is a Republican Mole.

"I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty."

I've been enjoying Keith Olbermann's Edward R. Murrow impersonations lately, but I think he's really stretching in defending Kerry. Olbermann claims that the "botched joke" was really a devastatingly clever insult of Bush that Bush and his minions were too stupid and/or dishonest to get. Come on--this is John Kerry!

I've had nothing but contempt for Kerry since his vote for war in 2002, and was flabbergasted that the Dems would reject all good (Kucinich) and even so-so candidates (Graham, Dean, Mosely-Braun, Edwards) and run with the only guy who could possibly lose to Bush. And maybe I've missed something (this story makes my head hurt, so I haven't exactly been spending every minute on it), but I've seen nothing in Kerry's original statement, nor his explanation, nor his apology, that gives it the meaning Olbermann ascribes to it.

Probably nobody, including Kerry, really knows what he was trying to say, but I think Weinberger's explanation makes the most sense. The Dems were in danger of winning an election--send in John Kerry to keep it from happening.

Would you trust this man...

with YOUR election chances?

Actually, it is rocket science

From Steve Greenberg. (This particular corporate outrage has links to my own past.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How could the Democrats possibly blow it now?

Two words: John Kerry. His original comment, that young people might end up "stuck in Iraq" if they don't do well in school, was a little too close to the truth. Therefore, after refusing to apologize for a few nanoseconds (about as long as he waited to concede in 2004), he now claims, in an explanation that would make Tony Snow blush, that it was a "botched joke."
Kerry said he mangled the delivery of a line aimed at Bush. According to aides, the language was originally written to say that "if you're intellectually lazy, you end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq--just ask President Bush."
Is that how you ended up in Vietnam, John?

Anyway, he covers up his truth with a whopper of a lie: "You cannot get into the military today if you do badly in school."

Yeah, right.

Not to be out-lied, Snowjob puts his two cents worth (Confederate) in:
And White House spokesman Tony Snow said Kerry's apology on Imus didn't pass muster. "He's insisting on pointing fingers at the president," Snow said. "Just say you're sorry. It's not hard."
So say it, Tony! And your boss, too.

John Kerry somehow lost what should have been the easiest campaign EVER in 2004, running against a stupid, corrupt, miserable failure of a war criminal pResident. He should go home and shut up.

Car-sharing in Ann Arbor!

It's here! ZipCar is now in operation here in Ann Arbor, with six cars to share among members. Ann Arbor News article. Detroit Free Press article.

I just paid $1200 for repairs and required maintenance on my Volkswagen. I am going to seriously look at the relative costs of keeping my VW (and paying for maintenance and insurance), or selling it and using ZipCar (when bus, foot or bike won't work).

University of Michigan faculty/staff/students (21 and over) can sign up now at The annual membership fee is only $30, and the cars are $8 an hour to rent, including gas and insurance.

From Tom Toles.

C'mon, Useless Dick! Rick is fully capable of embarrassing himself!


From Tony Auth.


I've gotten e-mails about one or the other of Keith Olbermann's Special Comments. I've linked to a few, and highly recommend them. If you can't get enough of them, check out Crooks and Liars--here's the search results for "Olbermann." I think maybe I'll add that to my blog roll!

Here's one of Olbermann's latest--a eulogy for "Stay the course."