Bob's Links and Rants

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Ten years since Princess Di'ed

Seems like only just 9 7/8ths.

Greetings from London!

London, Ontario, that is. I'm on the Via Rail train from Windsor to Toronto, where I'll be for the next two days. Just another overweight guy from Michigan come to see what's going on in our saner neighbor to the north. (Although I headed south to get in--Windsor is pretty much straight south of Detroit.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Great Iraq Swindle

Matt Taibi writes in Rolling Stone:
Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein's Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity -- to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they f**k things up.

And just maybe, reviewing this appalling history of invoicing orgies and million-dollar boondoggles, it's not so far-fetched to think that this is the way someone up there would like things run all over -- not just in Iraq but in Iowa, too, with the state police working for Corrections Corporation of America, and DHL with the contract to deliver every Christmas card. And why not? What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureauc­racy. This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profit­eering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure -- American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole.
As is commonly said here in the blogosphere--read the whole thing!

Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm sure it won't

Unfortunate headline du jour: Gonzales departure won't end probes

No rest for the souls lost in the American gulag. Torture Inc. is bigger than one man.

Going, Going, GONZO!

AP reports that Torture Gonzales has resigned. While this should be good news, the Bushies have shown a nearly infinite capability to replace horrible with even worse, as with Gonzo's replacing Ashcroft, or Rice replacing Powell, or Roberts/Scalito replacing Rehnquist/O'Connor. And the politiburo, after making a few ineffectual noises, generally rubber-stamps whatever criminal moron Bush nominates.

Advice to Democrats: Stonewall whoever Bush nominates. Make the next AG be one nominated by a Democrat. The country won't survive yet another Bush-nominated AG. Don't worry--if the next AG is picked by Hillary, he/she will be plenty bad enough to satisfy your corporate backers.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ethnic cleansing and apartheid

Both are a result of the invasion of Iraq, and especially the "surge." Quite possibly, they were the INTENT of the surge, as Chris Floyd explains:
Most of the measures taken during the "surge" seem aimed precisely at ethnic cleansing: the increased support of the Iraqi government security forces -- which are largely Shiite militias -- has been matched with what some see as the lunatic policy of arming Sunni militias.

The latter is indeed a lunatic policy -- if your aim is to establish security and political rapprochement in Iraq. And although the leaders of the United States are indeed a gang of depraved moral idiots, they are not lunatics. Even they could see the folly of such a course -- again, if the aim was actually security and political cohesion. Thus one can only conclude that this is not their aim, that their aim is indeed to exacerbate ethnic conflict, to foment more violence, in what amounts to a stealth operation of ethnic cleansing.

This serves two main purposes: first, as noted above, it will help shake the country out, eventually, into more manageable enclaves -- each one stronger and more cohesive than the current government (which is largely a fictional notion at this point), yet weaker, and more malleable, than any stable and legitimate central government would be. And since the only kind of central government that could achieve stability and legitimacy in the eyes of all Iraqis would be one which was genuinely sovereign, truly independent from American domination, we will never see such a government in Baghdad as long as U.S. troops are in Iraq.

Which brings us to the second purpose of the "surge's" arming of sectarian gangs: to maintain a level of violence and chaos that would "justify" the continuing presence of American troops in Iraq. A permanent military presence is one of the overriding goals of the invasion, set down long before the war, before 9/11, even before the loser Bush was given the presidency by five Supreme Court justices (two of whom had family members working for the Bush operation). Therefore, to the Bushists, any measure is justified that will keep American troops in Iraq -- including fomenting bloody sectarian conflict and carrying out ethnic cleansing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why Iraqis might not appreciate a Jewish senator from Michigan telling them to change regimes again

Besides the obvious. David Bacon writes in SF Gate about the proposed Iraq oil law, written for them on behalf of the US oil companies and the only benchmark that Levin and his fellow imperialists really care about, and why it is so unpopular among Iraqis.
Because of its actions, the oil workers union has become one of the strongest voices of Iraqi nationalism, protecting an important symbol of Iraq's national identity, and, more important, the only source of income capable of financing the country's post-occupation reconstruction.

U.S. legislators trying to impose the oil law might note that they are requiring the Iraqi government to betray one of the few reasons Iraqis have for supporting it--its ability to keep oil revenue in public hands.
There's a lot more in the article about the history of unions in Iraq--how they flourished from the time of independence in 1958 until the rise of Saddam two decades later. Saddam suppressed the unions, which nevertheless reappeared almost immediately after the US invasion in 2003. Since then, the Americans and the various puppet regimes have been working tirelessly to re-repress the unions--outlawing collective bargaining for starters. The unions know that the US demand for privatization of the oil and other industries means the loss of control of the most important parts of whatever economy manages to build when/if the US ever leaves.

But Levin and the other imperialists don't care: Do what we want or get out of the way.

Scumbags.

(Via Winter Patriot)

Greenwald on Levin

Glenn Greenwald writes about our increasing dangerous Michigan senator Carl Levin's two-day Iraq vacation and the implications of his recent statements.
By endorsing the idea that the Surge is Working, Senate Democrats are ensuring that the Congress will never force George Bush to withdraw from Iraq. That is the only meaningful result of Levin's remarks. It gives cover to Congressional Republicans to stay with the President, ensures that many "Blue Dog" Democrats will do the same, and almost certainly bolsters Republican support and weakens independent and some Democratic opposition to the war (after all, if "even Democrats" agree the Surge is Working, then we obviously ought to give the Iraqis more time, etc. etc.).

That the Congress will do nothing -- before September, during September and after September -- to force Bush out of Iraq is not news to anyone other than our Beltway elites. The only certain political fact has long been that we will be occupying Iraq at roughly the same levels of troop strength throughout the Bush presidency. But the fact that Congressional Democrats actually seem to weaken by the day -- they actually seem, as a group, to be turning gradually more pro-war -- is extremely alarming for an entirely different reason.
That reason, as Greenwald explains in detail, is that it makes war with Iran even more likely.

I wonder if there is any Michigan Democrat of peaceful persuasion willing to take on "Lieberman Lite" Levin for his senate seat in 2008. And if this peace Democrat (hopefully not completely an oxymoron at this point) were to win the primary, would Levin and his AIPAC millions follow Holy Joe in abandoning the party and running as an independent? Whatever, we really need better senate representation than Levin and Stabenow at this point.

I knew it!

Back in 2003, I was watching one of the Democratic debates with two friends, fellow Kucinich supporters. As we watched Kerry say absolutely nothing in the most awkward way possible, I said to them "I'll bet Dick and Karl are watching this and saying 'Kerry--he's the one we want to run against.'"

And on this blog in November 2005 I wrote "I have little doubt that John Kerry was Karl Rove's choice to be aWol's 'opponent'..."

Well, Jonathan at A Tiny Revolution quotes this passage from a recent LA Times article:
In the run-up to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when it was not yet clear who Bush's opponent would be that November, Rove and his aides had begun to fear that their most dangerous foe would be then-Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina...

But instead of attacking Edwards, Rove's team opened fire at Kerry.

Their thinking went like this, [Rove lieutenant Matthew] Dowd explained [after the election]: Democrats, in a knee-jerk reaction to GOP attacks, would rally around Kerry, whom Rove considered a comparatively weak opponent, and make him the party's nominee. Thus Bush would be spared from confronting Edwards, the candidate Republican strategists actually feared most...

"Whomever we attacked was going to be emboldened in Democratic primary voters' minds...So we started attacking John Kerry a lot in the end of January because we were very worried about John Edwards," Dowd said. "And we knew that if we focused on John Kerry, Democratic primary voters would sort of coalesce" around Kerry.

"It wasn't like we could tag [eliminate] somebody. Whomever we attacked was going to be helped," he said.

You just can't be too cynical these days. And I'll bet those attacks on Kerry were only a tiny part of Rove & Co.'s efforts to manipulate the Democratic (sic) primary process, which I suspect included the media manipulation of Howard Dean's image and who-knows-what shenanigans in those church basements that "earned" Kerry his victory in the Iowa caucuses.

BTW, the LA Times article focused on Rove's "parting shots" against Hillary Clinton, suggesting that Rove made those comments in the hope that Democrats would rally around Hillary to their eventual doom.

You can check back here as often as you like for defenses of Hillary--you won't find any.

Your mainstream media at work

From Yahoo! News I found this article by David Alexander: Democrat split on Iraq may hurt '08 chances: analysts

Alexander's analysts (as described in the article)?
  • Ethan Siegal, an analyst for The Washington Exchange, which monitors Congress for institutional investors.
  • Matthew Woessner, a political expert at Pennsylvania State University
  • Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee, the head of centrist Democratic Leadership Council
Only Woessner's corporatist bias isn't immediately evident from the description, but his quotes give him away immediately:
It will be the Democratic left, which is probably immune to any news of success in Iraq, against the middle-of-the-road America...A nightmare scenario for any party is when the pressure, the sum total of the pressures from their constituency groups, are out of step with mainstream America. That's a prescription for electoral disaster.
Woessner apparently is immune to any news of polls about Iraq, including the 2006 election, which indicate huge unpopularity of the war in Iraq.

Not to be outdone, Siegal chimes in:
"If the Democrats want to keep control of the House in the 2008 elections, they can't force those members to take certain Iraq votes, he said.

Democratic divisions may grow after Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, reports to Congress in September on the results of President George W. Bush's policy of building up troops as a way to stabilize Iraq.

Even a positive report is unlikely to sway the anti-war liberal Democrats, but it will make it difficult for centrist Democrats from more conservative districts to support pulling out troops, the analysts said.

Democrats who had hesitated to vote for timetables and various withdrawal schemes "are going to be even more hesitant now," Siegal said.
And then there's Ford of the DLC:
Some liberals are so confident about Democratic prospects that they contend the centrism that vaulted Democrats to victory in the 1990s no longer matters.
It was Ross Perot, not Clinton's "centrism" (read corporate bias) which "vaulted" him to victory with 43% of the popular vote in 1992 and 49% in 1996, meanwhile losing control of Congress and numerous governorships and state legislatures, much of which wasn't recovered at all until the Dems turned ever so slightly "left" (read sort-of opposed the stupidest war ever) in 2006. A few more "successes" like that and the Dumbos will be ready for burial.

Which wouldn't be entirely a bad thing.

But I digress. This Reuters "news" article doesn't even pretend to be objective--it is simply a corporate media pressure piece to keep the Republocrats in line. Alexander could have, for instance, talked to analyst Glenn Greenwald, whose much more thorough and logical analysis of why Democrats are unpopular can be found here.
Greenwald concludes:
With a President and a Republican Party this deeply unpopular, the only thing the Democrats could really do to harm themselves is to minimize the distinctions between them and Bush, and fail to take a strong stand against the administration. With very rare exception, that is exactly what they have been doing, and that is why they are held in such low esteem. That, of course, has been the predominant critique of Beltway Democratic insiders for quite some time, but this polling data proves this view rather conclusively.

Mickey-Mouse network prefers warmongering, corporation-coddling candidates

From the Kucinich campaign:
The Kucinich campaign is still awaiting an official response from ABC News about the unexplained--some have charged "inexplicable"--way in which the network has handled its post-debate online coverage of Ohio Congressman and Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich over the past few days.

Among the "outrages" that have energized tens of thousands of Kucinich supporters--and even non-supporters--thousands of whom have flooded the ABC News website and other online news sites with comments of protest:

* Congressman Kucinich was apparently deliberately cropped out of a "Politics Page" photo of the candidates.

* Sometime Monday afternoon, after Congressman Kucinich took a commanding lead in ABC's own on-line "Who won the Democratic debate" survey, the survey was dropped from prominence on the website.

* ABC News has not officially reported the results of its online survey.

* After the results of that survey showed Congressman Kucinich winning handily, ABC News, sometime Monday afternoon, replaced the original survey with a second survey asking "Who is winning the Democratic debate?"

* During the early voting Monday afternoon and evening, U.S. Senator Barack Obama was in the lead. By sometime late Monday or early Tuesday morning, Congressman Kucinich regained the lead by a wide margin in this second survey.

* Sometime Tuesday morning, ABC News apparently dropped the second survey from prominence or killed it entirely.

* AND, as every viewer of the nationally televised Sunday Presidential forum is aware, Congressman Kucinich was not given an opportunity to answer a question from moderator George Stephanopoulos until 28 minutes into the program.

The campaign submitted objections and inquiries to ABC News representatives on Monday and Tuesday. ABC News representatives have failed to respond--or even acknowledge--those objections and inquiries.
Here's the ABC photo:
While Dennis certainly has a valid complaint about the photo, I'd say Bill "Wait until I zip up before taking the picture" Richardson and Hillary "Wide Body" Clinton do as well. But as for the other stuff, I saw it all four years ago. Even though more voters, especially Democrats, agreed with Dennis on the issues than with any other candidate, the corporate media and "mainstream" Dumbocrats convinced them first that Dennis was "unelectable," and then used the same strategy on Dean. These mainstream Clintonistas like Snufalopogus gave us the ultimate in unelectability, John Kerry, who spent his entire campaign convincing people that he wasn't much different from Bush (which he wasn't).

Anyway--go to the Kucinich web site and drop some bucks, if you've got 'em. Neither Clinton nor Obama is going to save this country, or the world, from the warmongering corporate greedheads. Dennis at least wants to.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Red, white and blue jury

From Paul Craig Roberts' scathing denunciation of the Padilla verdict:
The jury, of course, had no idea of what was at stake. It was a patriotic jury that appeared in court with one row of jurors dressed in red, one in white, and one in blue (Peter Whoriskey, Washington Post, August 17, 2007).

It was a jury primed to be psychologically and emotionally manipulated by federal prosecutors desperate for a conviction for which there was little, if any, supporting evidence. For the jury, patriotism required that they strike a blow for America against terrorism. No member of this jury was going to return home to accusations of letting off a person who has been portrayed as a terrorist in the US media for five years.
And from Lindsey Beyerstein, quoting a Democracy Now! interview with a psychiatrist:
Amongst other serious cognitive and emotional aberrations, Dr. Hagerty observed that the 36-year-old American (Padilla) was furious at his own lawyers for making the government's job harder:

Also he had developed, actually, a third thing. He had developed really a tremendous identification with the goals and interests of the government. I really considered a diagnosis of Stockholm syndrome. For example, at one point in the proceedings, his attorneys had, you know, done well at cross-examining an FBI agent, and instead of feeling happy about it like all the other defendants I've seen over the years, he was actually very angry with them. He was very angry that the civil proceedings were "unfair to the commander-in-chief," quote/unquote.

And in fact, one of the things that happened that disturbed me particularly was when he saw his mother. He wanted her to contact President Bush to help him, help him out of his dilemma. He expected that the government might help him, if he was "good," quote/unquote. [Democracy Now!]

There's a guy who's well equipped to participate in his own defense. He finally loves Big Brother!

Well, maybe it was a jury of his peers. Padilla had been brainwashed by years of torture and isolation. The jury had been more pleasantly brainwashed by a largely brain-dead country and its criminally negligent media and politicians. Red, white and blue rows. With the defendant as the brainwashed 13th juror. Convicted of thoughtcrime after his ability to think for himself has been destroyed. The perfect stageset for finishing off the Constitution.

Imperial Senators, or grunts on the ground?

Who are you going to believe? Senators Levin (D-MI) and Warner (R-VA) spent two days meeting with the new god, General David Petraeus, and other factotums of the American occupation in Iraq.

The senators:
We have seen indications that the surge of additional brigades to Baghdad and its immediate vicinity and the revitalized counter-insurgency strategy being employed have produced tangible results...

We note the continuing improvement in the ability and willingness of the Iraqi Army to conduct combat operations against the insurgents...

While we believe that the “surge” is having measurable results, and has provided a degree of “breathing space” for Iraqi politicians to make the political compromises which are essential for a political solution in Iraq, we are not optimistic about the prospects for those compromises.
...
We believe that the recent high-level meetings among Iraqi political leaders could be the last chance for this government to solve the Iraqi political crisis, and should it fail, we believe, the Iraqi Council of Representatives and the Iraqi people need to judge the Government of Iraq’s record and determine what actions should be taken -- consistent with the Iraqi Constitution -- to form a true unity government to meet those responsibilities.
Shorter Levin-Warner: "It's all their fault!"

The soldiers:
Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.

However, while creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave.

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a "time-sensitive target acquisition mission" on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse--namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

Coupling our military strategy to an insistence that the Iraqis meet political benchmarks for reconciliation is also unhelpful. The morass in the government has fueled impatience and confusion while providing no semblance of security to average Iraqis. Leaders are far from arriving at a lasting political settlement. This should not be surprising, since a lasting political solution will not be possible while the military situation remains in constant flux.
All Levin and Warner really want, of course, is for some Iraqi government to pass the bill giving their oil to us. I do wish they'd stop changing Iraq's regime and start changing ours.

Monday, August 20, 2007


From Doonesbury.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Quote du jour

Perhaps it will be written off as vindictiveness or closed-mindedness, but I think people who rooted for war need to be held up to the public and remembered. Some were vicious, some were mendacious, some were just wrong, but when someone is wrong about this sort of things, hundreds of thousands of people are killed and millions of human lives are destroyed. It's not forgivable. These people need to be exposed so that they can be subsequently ignored, not praised for their even-handed consideration of whether America should have destroyed a country that did not threaten it.
-- Commenter StO at A Tiny Revolution.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

No limit to bad taste

Hurricane Dean

"I'm going to Jamaica and the Caymans and Cuba and Mexico and Texas and Louisiana---YEAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!"

Sincere apologies to everyone in the path of Hurricane Dean. None to Howard Dean, though.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Padilla convicted of thoughtcrime

The World Socialist Web Site summarizes the travesty of justice, the latest in a continuing series, against US hostage Jose Padilla.
The actual physical evidence presented by the prosecution was extremely weak. Of the over 300,000 intercepted phone conversations that the government collected, only seven involved Padilla. None of these included any of the “code words” that the prosecution claimed referred to plans to carry out terrorist attacks.

The application presented by the government as evidence that Padilla traveled to Afghanistan is highly dubious. Padilla's fingerprints were only on the outside pages, suggesting that he handled the document (perhaps in custody), but did not fill it out himself. Besides this form, the government provided no direct evidence that Padilla was ever in Afghanistan.
The Bushies' original intention was to hold and torture Padilla forever without access to legal recourse. After 3 1/2 years, it appeared as though the remnants of American justice might prevent them from doing so, so they fell back on plan B--the horrendously vague and broad "anti-terrorism" laws they have been forcing through a servile Congress for the last six years. WSWS:
Padilla was convicted along with two co-defendants--Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi--on two counts of material support for terrorism and one count of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas.
Of course, most of the Bush administration could be charged with the same crimes (and convicted and pardoned, as happened with Iran-Contra). The difference, of course, is that the Bushies have actually carried out these crimes, and there would be tens of thousands of counts, not just two.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Peter Pace shakes Djibouti

The apparently permanently outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff dropped in on the imperial storm troopers in Djibouti yesterday:
"What you are doing here is making it so that the Horn of Africa does not appear on the front page of the Washington Post or your local newspapers," Marine Gen. Peter Pace told the troops. "We are operating in Afghanistan and Iraq right now because the international community was not able to get those nations straight before it was necessary to use force."

Pace told the servicemembers that what they are doing with coalition partners and the host nations of the region is helping the nations of the Horn of Africa "develop the skills, the capacities, the kind of good governance that's required so we don't have to do here what we're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Which is, of course, causing the skills to flee, destroying the capacities, and replacing bad governance with no governance. And WIIIAI comments on the first paragraph:
A whole universe of reflexive, arrogant American imperialism is contained in that single word "straight."
Exactly the type of imperialism supported by the "serious" pResidential pRetenders in both parties, as Glenn Greenwald described (quoted in my previous post).

Quote du jour

[I]s the curriculum for history classes in some American states restricted to learning about Hitler and the Nazis and 1938 and Hitler and Germany? It must be, because there are many right-wing fanatics whose entire understanding of the world is reduced in every instance to that sole historical event -- as though the world began in 1937, ended in 1945, and we just re-live that moment in time over and over and over:

Love war? You are Churchill, a noble warrior. Oppose war? You're Chamberlain, a vile appeaser. And everyone else is Hitler. That, more or less, composes the full scope of "thought" among this strain on the right.
-- Glenn Greenwald, who also examines the foreign policy consensus, from Bush to Obama, which is destroying the world day by day:
[B]y and large, the American Foreign Policy Community -- notwithstanding the tragic disaster it has wrought and the untold damage to our country for which it is responsible -- continues to control the terms of our foreign policy debates. They sit around in their extremely well-financed institutions, in their plush conference rooms, debating with each other in the most sterile and technocratic tones about optimal "force deployment packages" and which countries should be bombed and/or invaded next and how the countries we control should be organized and "partioned" and which ones should have their governments changed by the United States.

They have a built-in system of very potent careerist incentives to ensure that there is no real deviation from the bi-partisan consensus concerning America's role in the world. Our "experts" who go on television and write in magazines about foreign policy are drawn almost exclusively from their ranks, thus bolstering this consensus further. And thus we continue to be subjected to such plainly absurd, actually quite obscene, notions -- including from its "liberal" sect -- as: "there is a good argument to be made for going to war against Iran and North Korea."

Large numbers of Americans believe that we should stop acting as the world ruler -- the new Pew Poll found "widespread feelings that the US is playing the role of the hegemonic or dominant world leader more than it should be" -- but such views are rigidly excluded from the bi-partisan Foreign Policy Community and thus excluded from what we are permitted in the mainstream to debate.

From Doonesbury.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Whenever we leave, the country will be in chaos

We brought it with us.

McClatchy headline: The U.S. could easily withdraw from Iraq, but that would leave the country in chaos, an Army war game concludes

Like this? Four suicide bombings kill 175 in Iraq

Of course things may get worse before they get better after the US pulls out. But they'll never, ever get better until the US does pull out.

BTW, I suspect that there's a debate going on in Crawford right now as to whether to blame these bombings on "al Qaeda in Iraq" or Iran. You can be sure that the facts of the situation will play no role in reaching a decision.

Finally, a backlash against bottled water

The NY Times has a summary of recent reports about America's bizarre obsession with bottled water. A sampling:
In the Sunday Styles section, Alex Williams wrote about how bottled water, once considered a healthy convenience, has become a symbol of waste.
...
The Week in Review section calculated that drinking eight glasses of water a day will cost you about 49 cents a year if you take it from a New York City tap and $1,400 a year if you buy bottled.
...
Aquafina turned out, like Coca-Cola's Dasani, to be just tap water in a bottle. In July, PepsiCo Inc. decided to start including the words "Public Water Source" on Aquafina labels.
And from a recent NY Times editorial:
Water bottles, like other containers, are made from natural gas and petroleum. The Earth Policy Institute in Washington has estimated that it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles Americans use each year. That could fuel 100,000 cars a year instead. And, only about 23 percent of those bottles are recycled, in part because water bottles are often not included in local redemption plans that accept beer and soda cans. Add in the substantial amount of fuel used in transporting water, which is extremely heavy, and the impact on the environment is anything but refreshing.

Tap water may now be the equal of bottled water, but that could change. The more the wealthy opt out of drinking tap water, the less political support there will be for investing in maintaining America's public water supply. That would be a serious loss. Access to cheap, clean water is basic to the nation’s health.

Some local governments have begun to fight back. Earlier this summer, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom prohibited his city's departments and agencies from buying bottled water, noting that San Francisco water is "some of the most pristine on the planet." Salt Lake City has issued a similar decree, and New York City recently began an advertising campaign that touted its water as "clean," "zero sugar" and even "stain free."

The real change, though, will come when millions of ordinary consumers realize that they can save money, and save the planet, by turning in their water bottles and turning on the tap.
Ann Arbor, which has excellent water, also recently stopped buying or serving bottled water at city functions.

If you want the U.S. to be just another "don't drink the water" country, then just keep buying those bottles. A lot of time, effort and money went into bringing you the amazing convenience of potable tap water. Don't waste it--or your money.

Of course, our tap water is so convenient that we DO waste it in prodigious amounts, using potable water on lawns and golf courses, to wash cars, and even to flush toilets--as clueless a slap in the face of every third-world woman (and it is usually women), hauling jugs of barely-potable water up steep hillsides, as could be imagined. Ha-ha! You work so hard for your potable water, while we crap in ours.

Anti-war group fined for demonstration posters

In an unprecedented action, the ANSWER Coalition today received citations fining the organization $10,000 for the placement of posters announcing the September 15 March on Washington DC. The fines come after a campaign led by FOX news calling for the DC government to take action against those putting up posters for the September 15 demonstration.
According to ANSWER,
The best way to take action is to call the Director of Department of Public Works, William O. Howland, Jr. at 202-673-6833, and the Mayor of DC, Adrian Fenty, at 202-724-8876. You can also send a letter or fax by clicking this link.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Because he's good; because everyone else sucks



Of course, Dennis doesn't have all the huge corporate bucks that Hillary and Obama have. Why isn't that considered a plus?

Sorry. Silly rhetorical question. As Jonathan Schwarz reiterated a few days ago, there is no Santa Claus. Giving us the "choice" between two bought-and-paid-for warmonger corporate politicians is pretty much the raison-d'etre of our bought-and-paid-for warmonger corporate media.

We've destroyed SO much together...



Democrats, Iraq, the Constitution, democracy, freedom, justice, etc.

Chris Floyd explains the Rove abdication

Here.
The announcment that Karl Rove is going to resign -- precipitiously, in a matter of days, obviously in a great hurry to get the hell out of Dodge -- must mean there is one hell of an indictment coming down the pike (or else one hell of a backroom deal has been cut to avoid an indictment). If that's the case, it probably involves the politicization of the Justice Department: an egregious thing, to be sure, but more in the nature of a "technicality" when compared to Rove's roles in conspiring to launch a war of aggression, subvert the electoral process and install an unconstitutional authoritarian regime. Of course, prosecuting Rove for the Justice scandal (or even the Plamegate scandal, which is another possibility) would be akin to nailing Al Capone on tax evasion charges: not really the fullest measure of justice -- but at least he'd be behind bars for awhile.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No solution until US leaves--completely

Chris Floyd points out that the troop "reductions" proposed by Hillary, Edwards and Obama for Iraq are no solution at all. And blaming the horrific ongoing humanitarian crisis on the puppet regime, as Hillary has done, is the most disgusting cop-out imaginable.

Quote of the last century

Too bad Dick Cheney didn't listen to this guy's advice. Of course, outside of Satan, Cheney doesn't listen to anyone.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Paper, I guess...

This Salon article about plastic bags should help you answer the question at the checkout line.
The plastic bag is an icon of convenience culture, by some estimates the single most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, numbering in the trillions. They're made from petroleum or natural gas with all the attendant environmental impacts of harvesting fossil fuels. One recent study found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin. Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they've been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It's equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.
...
According to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, more than a million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die every year from eating or getting entangled in plastic. The conservation group estimates that 50 percent of all marine litter is some form of plastic. There are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

Quote du jour

Chris Floyd:
As long as the Bush gangsters remain out of jail, free to enjoy their ill-gotten gains and use them to further their rapacious agenda (either in or out out of office), then they will have "won" the Terror War -- no matter what actually happens in Iraq (and see WP's excellent commentary on Patrick Cockburn's demolition of the current "surge" propaganda), or Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iran -- or in a blowback-battered America, for that matter. (For more on the Bushists' triumph, see Claiming the Prize and Why Bush Smiles.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Quote du jour

“But for those of us who believe it's worth it, we'll see progress. For those who believe it's not worth it, there is no progress.” -- aWol, in his press lie-fest today.

He can't make it much clearer than that. (Really--I've read a lot of quotes from the scumbag, and he truly can't make anything clearer than that.) For him there is no objective reality whatsoever. If he believes it's worth it, he'll continue to see progress even after the last surviving US soldier pulls the last misplaced AK-47 out of the cold, dead, purple-fingered hands of the last Iraqi, and then dies himself. Hey--no more sectarian violence! Progress!

BTW, he said a whole bunch of other stupid things, including this gem about Alberto Torture Gonzales: "There’s no proof of wrong. Why would I hold somebody accountable who has done nothing wrong?" Millions of Iraqis and thousands of hostages in CIA prisons worldwide would like to know the answer to that one.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

FUBAR


From Tom Toles.

Ummm...What does the US Military have to do with defending America?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bush fabricates, the media takes dictation, once again

Secondly, it's up to Iran to prove to the world that they're a stabilizing force as opposed to a destabilizing force. After all, this is a government that has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon.
-- aWol, yesterday.

Trivially, it is interesting to note that Bush's preceding paragraph to the one quoted above began with "Thirdly." Less trivially, the statement that Iran's government has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon is a flat-out lie:
The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the fatwa that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons. President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who took office just recently, in his inaugural address reiterated that his government is against weapons of mass destruction and will only pursue nuclear activities in the peaceful domain.
Eli at Left I on the News is tracking media coverage of this Bush lie--and predictably, almost nobody is calling him on it.

And was Bush looking in a mirror when he said this?
This is a government that is in defiance of international accord, a government that seems to be willing to thumb its nose at the international community and, at the same time, a government that denies its people a rightful place in the world and denies its people the ability to realize their full potential.

Blame it on the trains

If you were wondering what it takes to get a Republican governor to support raising taxes, you now know: A bridge in a river and a bunch of bodies:
In the past two years, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota twice vetoed legislation to raise the state's gas tax to pay for transportation needs.

"He's open to that," Brian McClung, a spokesman for the governor, said Monday of a higher gas tax. "He believes we need to do everything we can to address this situation and the extraordinary costs."

Even as the cause of the bridge disaster here remains under investigation, the collapse is changing a lot of minds about spending priorities. It has focused national attention on the crumbling condition of America's roadways and bridges--and on the financial and political neglect they have received in Washington and many state capitals.
But the NY Times article seems determined to blame the bridge collapse on transit projects:
Despite historic highs in transportation spending, the political muscle of lawmakers, rather than dire need, has typically driven where much of the money goes. That has often meant construction of new, politically popular roads and transit projects rather than the mundane work of maintaining the worn-out ones.

Further, transportation and engineering experts said, lawmakers have financed a boom in rail construction that, while politically popular, has resulted in expensive transit systems that are not used by a vast majority of American commuters.

Representative James L. Oberstar, Democrat of Minnesota and the chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, sent out a news release last month boasting about Minnesota's share of a recent transportation and housing appropriations bill.

Of the $12 million secured for the state, $10 million is slated for a new 40-mile commuter rail line to Minneapolis, called the Northstar. The remaining $2 million is divided among a new bike and walking path and a few other projects, including highway work and interchange reconstruction.
You learn some interesting things from the NY Times, many of them untrue. Who knew that transit systems are politically popular? Now, I'll grant them that "transit systems that are not used by a vast majority of American commuters," but that is because transit systems are not available to a vast majority of American commuters. And the level of research at the NY Times is so impressive that I've been able to far exceed it in the last ten minutes. Their research? Reading a news release from one congressman. My research? Well, the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation's annual budget is near $2 billion, of which Oberstar's $12 million covers 0.6 percent (Northstar's share being 0.5 percent). Northstar's estimated capital cost is $289.1 million, or about 14 percent of one year's state transportation budget.

But hey--you read the NY Times, you learn that those people died in the bridge collapse because Congress is just blowing WAY too much money on mass transit.

Monday, August 06, 2007

State of Michigan's Economy

Over 5000 people apply for 300 crappy jobs:
More than 5,000 people applied for 300 new jobs at the Wal-Mart Supercenter that opens Wednesday in Livonia.


Wal-Mart: Always low wages. Always.

Democrats suck [Updated]

Why would anyone think they could stand up to supposed dangerous terrorists when they can't stand up to the childish taunts of Repugs?
The House Democratic leadership had severe reservations about the proposal and an overwhelming majority of Democrats opposed it. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the measure "does violence to the Constitution of the United States."

But with the Senate already in recess, Democrats confronted the choice of allowing the administration's bill to reach the floor and be approved mainly by Republicans or letting it die.

If it had stalled, that would have left Democratic lawmakers, long anxious about appearing weak on national security issues, facing an August spent fending off charges from Republicans that they had left Americans exposed to threats.
...
"I can't imagine they would take a monthlong vacation without fulfilling their obligation to keep America safe," Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said before the House approved the bill.
Unfortunately, McConnell can't imagine such a thing because the Dumbos have an unbroken record of caving in to whatever the Repugs want whenever they deliver taunts like McConnell's.

The new FISA bill does "violence to the Constitution," but Nancy and the other Dem "leaders" aren't willing to face a month of stupid taunts from members of a deeply unpopular party. It would also appear that they plan to give Bush enough rope to hang himself--that is, give him whatever he wants so that when it ultimately fails (even worse than now), he can't claim it was because they blocked his path. A smart game--if the Constitution and the lives of millions didn't hang in the balance. As it is, it is criminal negligence of the highest order to allow this unhinged cowboy and his dark overlord to proceed with their world-destroying agenda.

Worse than worthless.

[Update] Chris Floyd, quoting Arthur Silber extensively, makes the case that the Dems are not cowards--they're accomplices. Silber:
Endless war, an increasingly oppressive surveillance state, the evisceration of individual freedom and civil liberties, and ongoing chaos and destruction are all what they want.

None of this is an "error," or a "mistake in judgment," or "good intentions" gone awry. This is what they want.

Never, ever forget it.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Master of Disaster









Of course, his biggest disasters are overseas, and there really aren't any good photos. (Bush in the rubble of an Afghan wedding; Bush in Fallujah; Bush in Beirut; Bush in Gaza.)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Jay Leno interviews Dick Cheney

Here.

Water shortage is hitting Baghdad's Jewish residents hard, too

All eight of them. Iran's 25,000 Jews are reportedly much better off.

Baghdad without water

AP:
Much of the Iraqi capital was without running water Thursday and had been for at least 24 hours, compounding the urban misery in a war zone and the blistering heat at the height of the Baghdad summer.

Residents and city officials said large sections in the west of the capital had been virtually dry for six days because the already strained electricity grid cannot provide sufficient power to run water purification and pumping stations.

Baghdad routinely suffers from periodic water outages, but this one is described by residents as one of the most extended and widespread in recent memory. The problem highlights the larger difficulties in a capital beset by violence, crumbling infrastructure, rampant crime and too little electricity to keep cool in the sweltering weather more than four years after the U.S.-led invasion.
...
In the meantime, Iraqis suffer in brutal heat. It was 117 degrees in the capital Thursday, down from 120 the day before. With the power out or crackling through the decrepit system just a few hours each day, even those who can afford air conditioning do not have the power to run it.
ANSWER comments:
Corporate media outlets—to the extent they have reported this horrific and mind-boggling story at all—have treated it as a failure on the part of Iraqis.

In reality, it is an appalling war crime committed by the occupying power, the U.S. military. It threatens the lives of tens of thousands of people in the short term and unthinkable numbers of people unless it is rectified immediately.

According to Article 55 of Geneva Conventions (1949) to which the U.S. government is a signatory: "To the fullest extent of the means available to it the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate."

Article 59 states: "If the whole or part of the population of an occupied territory is inadequately supplied, the Occupying Power shall agree to relief schemes on behalf of the said population, and shall facilitate them by all the means at its disposal."
I think ANSWER may be actually understating things saying that tens of thousands of lives are threatened. People don't survive long at all without water, especially in 117 degree heat.

The Bush Administration: The worst enemy infrastructure has ever known.

Barack Go Bomb 'Em

Barack Obama gave a big speech on Wednesday, trying to prove that he can be every bit as much an imperialist prick as any current or former pResident. And, by George, or maybe that should be like George, he succeeded. He calls for "reducing our troop presence" in Iraq, but wants to deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan, and seems to really want to go to war in Pakistan:
As 9/11 showed us, the security of Afghanistan and America is shared. And today, that security is most threatened by the al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuary in the tribal regions of northwest Pakistan.

Al Qaeda terrorists train, travel, and maintain global communications in this safe-haven. The Taliban pursues a hit and run strategy, striking in Afghanistan, then skulking across the border to safety.

This is the wild frontier of our globalized world. There are wind-swept deserts and cave-dotted mountains. There are tribes that see borders as nothing more than lines on a map, and governments as forces that come and go. There are blood ties deeper than alliances of convenience, and pockets of extremism that follow religion to violence. It's a tough place.

But that is no excuse. There must be no safe-haven for terrorists who threaten America. We cannot fail to act because action is hard.

As President, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan.

I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.
Nevertheless, according to Obama, "Iran is now presenting the broadest strategic challenge to the United States in the Middle East in a generation."

Good grief--I am so sick of this warmonger BS from the current misadministration. Do we have to have soulless Dumbocrat wannabes saying the same crap, keeping us in war until the end of time?

Of course, it should have been obvious from the first two sentences that Barack offers only the slightest variation on the same:
Thank you Lee, for hosting me here at the Wilson Center, and for your leadership of both the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Group. You have been a steady voice of reason in an unsteady time.
Yes, he was introduced by Lee Hamilton, former Dem congressman from Indiana, who has done as much as anyone to cover up what really happened in Iran-Contra, 9/11, and so far in Iraq.

Chris Floyd and WIIAI have more on Obama's "major foreign policy speech."

From Mike Lane.

Chutzpah [updated]

AWol in the Rose Garden, yesterday:
The budget I've sent to Congress fully funds America's priorities. It increases discretionary spending by 6.9 percent. My Cabinet Secretaries assure me that this is adequate to meet the needs of our nation.

Unfortunately, Democratic leaders in Congress want to spend far more. Their budget calls for nearly $22 billion more in discretionary spending next year alone. These leaders have tried to downplay that figure. Yesterday one called this increase -- and I quote -- "a very small difference" from what I proposed. Only in Washington can $22 billion be called a very small difference. And that difference will keep getting bigger. Over the next five years it will total nearly $205 billion in additional discretionary spending. That $205 billion averages out to about $112 million per day, $4.7 million per hour, $78,000 per minute.

Put another way, that's about $1,300 in higher spending every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every year for the next five years. That's a lot of money -- even for career politicians in Washington. In fact, at that pace, Democrats in Congress would have spent an extra $300,000 since I began these remarks.
With the war in Iraq costing well over $100 billion a year, in the worst type of discretionary spending, multiply every number in W's list by at least five--$6500 per second, etc.--to get the damage done by his choice of pork-barrel project (and, of course, that's just the financial impact here at home).

And could there be a worse group of people to determine the adequacy of funding priorities for this country than Bush's cabinet? Even the bought-off gasbags in Congress have a better idea than nutjobs like Condi Rice, Alberto Gonzales, and Michael Chertoff.

Just to make his contempt for Congress crystal clear, W ended his Rose Garden fatwa this way:
I want to thank OMB Director Rob Portman for his hard work in developing this plan. This was Rob's last Cabinet meeting. Laura and I wish him and his family well. And I call on the Senate to confirm his successor, Jim Nussle, so we can work together to keep our government running, to keep our economy growing, and to keep our nation strong.
No, he doesn't ask the Senate to confirm the nominee to be Portman's successor--he calls on them to rubber stamp his imperial decree.

Oh well--maybe I should be glad that I have one thing in common with Bush: contempt for Congress.

Follow-up: Somebody in the White House press corps asked Tony Snow about W's budget double-talk.
Q Tony, you just said a moment ago that $22 billion is a significant chunk of change, you said, for the American people.

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q What then do you make of the Congressional Budget Office report yesterday saying that the war in Iraq is likely to cost over $1 trillion?

MR. SNOW: Well, if you take a look at what happened on September 11th, 2001, it's estimated that the aftershocks of that could have cost up to $1 trillion.
So, I guess Tony is saying that a trillion-dollar screw-up for this administration is hardly unprecedented.

And then, trying (and succeeding) to out-chutzpah both Bush and himself, Snow added this later on:
Well, what you do is, you've got somebody who is looking for a peaceful way to deal with the problem. I believe that most people say, okay, if you can find a way that doesn't involve bloodshed to solve the problem, go for it. And that often happens in our policy.
Oh yeah. Happens all the time. Like the problem of Saddam's WMD's.

They lie to us and enjoy it, even knowing that we know they're lying. That probably makes it even more fun for them.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Meanwhile, in the offal office