Quotes are in italics. Links may have been broken over time.
July 6, 2002
From Time, referring to the International Criminal Court: To U.S. Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman the new court is "an institution of unchecked power" that "undermines the democratic rights of our people and could erode the fundamental elements of the United Nations Charter."
Well jeez, Marc, the same could be said of the entire Bush administration.
July 5, 2002
Even more confused! Sanjay pointed out to me that ABC ran several stories about Hatfill in the past two weeks, indicating that he was under investigation. I certainly got the impression from Kristoff and WSWS that the major media was suppressing stories about Hatfill. Sorry if I misled anyone with the stuff below. I am still wondering what in the world is actually going on.
The World Socialist Web Site today actually identified the leading suspect in last fall's anthrax mailing. His name is Stephen Hatfill, and he's a former Green Beret and a former researcher at the army's Ft. Detrick research center. He also was a part of the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq before they were thrown out by Saddam Hussein. Amazingly, I have seen no follow-up to Nicholas Kristof's column of Tuesday or the two reports from the WSWS in any of the major media, including the New York Times. I guess Hatfill must not be Islamic, or he would probably be in jail. Anyone have any idea what is really going on here?
A guy shoots up an El Al ticket counter at LAX on the Fourth of July, but the government insists it isn't terrorism. "There is no evidence, no indication at this time, that this is terrorists," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. (Washington Post) Hundreds of soldiers fighting for another country 8000 miles from the US in what is basically a civil war are captured and whisked off to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they are labeled "terrorists" and held indefinitely without charges or trials. I think Mr. George W. Bush should be required to define "terrorism" once and for all and be made to stick to whatever definition he comes up with. He'd better be real careful, though, to avoid including himself and most of his administration.
July 3, 2002
Uncle Sam and Aunt Thrax: Nicholas Kristof's editorial in yesterday's NY Times and today's follow-up by the World Socialist Web Site are certainly enough to get you scratching your head. There are only a few possible suspects for the anthrax mailer, the government appears to know which one it is, but no arrest has been made. The perpetrator is apparently roaming the world freely, perhaps even on government assignment. Your tax dollars at work.
Beware the CEOnistas! More satire from http://www.satirewire.com/index.shtml.
July 2, 2002
I actually updated my cartoons page! Two new strips to further enlighten and distract you!
``There cannot be the use of that kind of firepower and not have mistakes and errant weapons exist. It's going to happen. It always has and I'm afraid it always will,'' [Rumsfeld] said. (from the NY Times)
Of course, Rummy is implying that mistakes will happen, so we should all just
shut up about it. I say we turn it around. AC-130 gunships and B-52's are
weapons of mass destruction, and should not be used indiscriminately. It is hard
to believe that what few Taliban or al Qaeda people are still lurking in the
hills of Afghanistan pose much of a threat to us. We are trying to get
cockroaches out of the house by burning the house down. The roaches have already
fled the house, and the mostly innocent rightful inhabitants are the ones
getting burned. The endless pursuit of Taliban soldiers is particularly cruel
and bizarre. Almost none of them had any knowledge of or participation in the
9/11 attacks. Many were practically children indoctrinated in radical Islam from
an early age; others joined the Taliban as the only alternative to being killed
when the warlord they were fighting for was defeated by the Taliban. They ceased
to exist as an army in November, and individually pose no threat to America. But
Rummy feels it is necessary to exterminate every last one of them. The North did
not pursue and arrest or kill every Confederate veteran after the Civil War;
neither did the Allies pursue every last Nazi or Japanese soldier after WWII.
But now we are apparently willing to risk killing dozens or hundreds of
civilians on the off chance that we might kill a few former soldiers from a
defeated army. Did somebody say "war crimes?"
July 1, 2002
CNN says "unknown number of civilians had been killed." The NY Times says at least thirty killed, many more injured. The Guardian (London) says "at least 250" killed or wounded. Make a note of it somewhere: Do not invite the US military to your wedding reception.
Good choice of words there, Mr. Secretary (referring to Cleveland's school voucher plan upheld by the Supreme Court):
Bush's education secretary, Rod Paige, went even further, hailing Cleveland during his remarks here as "ground zero for freedom of choice in public schools."
I think he is saying that Cleveland is a pile of rubble where women can get abortions while they attend classes. Of course, I may be mistaken.
Just flying around, looking for people to kill: US bombers bring more death to Afghanistan. If this had been done to Americans or Israelis by a suicide bomber, imagine the reaction. But these are Afghans, so they don't count to the Bushies. At least it is getting major coverage from the NY Times and CNN.
The SEC also is investigating Halliburton Co. for its accounting practices in 1998, when Vice President Dick Cheney was its chief executive. Asked if the administration's tough stand on the responsibility of corporate bosses would apply in that case, [SEC Chairman] Pitt said: ``We don't give anyone a pass. If anybody violates the law, we go after them.'' (from http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/business/AP-Pitt-WorldCom.html)
I don't believe him for a second, but it sure would be sweet to see the Veep from the Deep locked up in a medium-security disclosed location for five to ten.
June 28, 2002
Short memory! Referring to the recent ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance: "There may have been a more senseless, ridiculous decision issued by a court at some time, but I don't remember it," Lieberman said. That from Senator, should be Vice President Joe Lieberman, who was kept out of a secure, undisclosed location by a senseless, ridiculous decision of the Supreme Court in December 2000.
Transparent, my Ashcroft! While W is telling the Palestinians that they must have a government that is "transparent," among other fairly impossible demands, his Department of "Justice" just got the Supreme Dolts to issue a ruling that immigration hearings could continue to be secret. The government claims that open hearings would give "terrorists" crucial information about investigations. More likely, it would give the public a clue as to how the government has absolutely no case against most of these people and is basically just holding them hostage to keep the fear factor up. In any case, it is hard to imagine that the events of September 11 would have happened if the various warnings had been published in leading newspapers instead of covered up by the sports section on W's desk. Maybe something else would have been tried, but at least the FBI and the CIA would have both known what the other knew. The Bushies secrecy is not protecting the US from al Qaeda: it is protecting the Bushies from the American people.
I'm stealing one Slowpoke comic: go to http://www.people.virginia.edu/~jls6c/archives.html for the rest!
June 26, 2002
File size was getting big, so I just moved everything before June to my Archive page.
If you donate enough money to enough causes, you get on some strange mailing lists. In the last eight months I have made donations to the Sierra Club, Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ACLU, and probably a few others. In response I've gotten solicitations from many other groups, including Bill Clinton looking for money for the Democrats and a wide variety of environmental groups. But sometimes the wires get crossed: today I got a letter and questionnaire from the Republicans. They included a business reply mail envelope, so I am going to stuff it with their questionnaire and some random mailings from some of the groups listed above. Hopefully I can get it up to half a pound or so. I'll wait until next week to mail it, after the postage rates have gone up. Just doing my part to cost the Bushies some money.
Here are some of the questions from the questionnaire with my answers:
Okay, I think I know how I got on their list: I voted for McCain in the Michigan primary in 2000, since my main priority was no Bush, no Gore. It is scary that there are so many people out there who would answer "yes" to most or all of those questions.
Just a reminder: we are not at war, since only Congress can declare war, and they didn't.
Another reminder: Over 2.3 million Americans died last year. Only about 3000 died from terrorist attacks, and this was way above the yearly average, even if you consider attacks on military targets like the Cole to be terrorism. Many, many more were killed by guns, by auto accidents, and by preventable diseases, as they are every year. While the "War on Terrorism" is almost certain to increase the number of terror attacks on America, these will still be relatively insignificant in the big picture, with most Americans still at much greater risk from drunk drivers or spouses with handguns. Taking away our freedom here and killing people abroad is a stupid, immoral response to a spectacular but in reality minor threat to our well being. And don't forget that the previous Bush's administration was responsible for the Gulf War, protecting one corrupt Arab regime from another after giving the invasion a green light. The Gulf War was directly or indirectly responsible for pretty much every terrorist attack since then. Osama bin Laden was not anti-American until we stationed troops in Saudi Arabia and left them there, even though we promised to remove them as soon as possible. Timothy McVeigh was a soldier in the US Army, and his orders to gun down heavily outgunned Iraqis contributed to his distrust of the government. If you go out of your way to kill people (and Iraq and Afghanistan are certainly out of our way) then you make other people angry. Kill lots of people, make lots of people angry. Massive military response hasn't freed Israel from terrorist attacks, and it never will. It won't work for us, either.
The satire would be funny if the danger were not so real. Two articles from Common Dreams in reaction to Bush's bizarre speech of yesterday:
W stands for war. He believes that with enough repression at home and provocation abroad, WW III will start, and he will "win" it. His speeches and actions are practically begging Osama for another hit so he can rev up the repression and militarism even more. I can't tell if Bush is so completely ignorant of how easily so much of his policy reflects back on him (calling for "democracy" in other countries while destroying it here, for example). He's dumb, but is he that dumb? I think he knows and does it just to be provocative, knowing that unrest abroad and at home provides further opportunities to bring out the guns, and he has more of them at his command than anyone. How did we get in this mess so quickly? And how can we possibly get out of it? I'm still holding out some faint hope that Colin Powell will finally get so pissed off that he will throw off his soldierly obedience and resign and begin speaking out against the administration and its deadly policies. Powell always struck me as an intelligent, compassionate, and honest reluctant warrior, and I hope he is. But Powell and most of Congress appear to be completely bought or threatened off, as is most of the media. And while the Bushies will almost certainly be largely to blame for the next bad thing that happens, you can be sure that they will use it to their advantage, which most assuredly will not be to ours.
June 25, 2002
Continued provocation, continued terror, eternal war. The continued threats against Iraq certainly give Saddam Hussein an incentive to develop nasty weapons, and an attack on Iraq will likely cause him to use them if he has them. The warmongers in Washington will then claim they were justified in attacking. And Sharon's policy of grabbing even more of the West Bank is almost certain to provoke further suicide bombings, thereby justifying further land grabs. While it seems clear that Hamas and other extremists among the Palestinians are as interested in perpetual war as Sharon is, Bush and apparently everyone else (the leaders of Egypt and Jordan, for instance) continues to blame Arafat and his three or four cops who haven't been shot by the Israelis for not stopping the bombings. Meanwhile, the average Palestinian lives in perpetual terror and the humiliation of curfews and checkpoints and the average American still stands united and clueless as the government does everything possible to provoke additional terror attacks.
Krug is the man! Paul Krugman writes one of the clearest denunciations of the Bushies I've seen in a major newspaper. W's clowns keep calling for "regime change" in Iraq, Palestine, Venezuela, etc. The Bush administration is the regime most in need of changing if there is to be any hope for peace, freedom, or the environment. Krugman notes that they intend to exempt their idiotic new Homeland Security Department from both whistle-blower protection and the Freedom of Information Act. This means we will be unable to find out what our secret police are up to, either from within or without. Meanwhile, they will know exactly what we are up to: the FBI has begun searching library records to see what we might have been reading, under the unconstitutional terms of the USA Patriot Act.
June 24, 2002
Dave Barry is always funny, but rarely serious. I do detect some real anger and disgust with his latest column about the ridiculous Farm Security Act recently passed by Congress.
Global warming is here, and Emperor W is fiddling with the Constitution and the frigging "war on terrorism" while Arizona burns. W is successfully accomplishing one thing: Before 2000, history might well have judged George Herbert Walker Bush as our worst president ever. I think W is doing a great job of keeping Daddy out of last place. Let's make Amtrak work, get the SUV's off the road, and get serious about the real threats facing us.
June 21, 2002
If a lie is repeated often enough and long enough, it will come to be perceived as truth. -- attributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels
This quote relates directly to this story about a reference to one of his own campaign statements by George W. Bush. W says that he said during the 2000 campaign that he would allow deficit spending only in case of war, recession, or national emergency. He says now that he never dreamed we would have the "trifecta" (one thing he is not claiming enough credit for). The curious thing is that there is no record of his having said anything like that during the campaign. This was pointed out to him several days ago, and the White House hasn't provided any evidence that he did say there were conditions under which he would approve of deficit spending, but W continues to repeat the lie. He probably doesn't have time to memorize any new lines this week.
The so-called "Justice Department" claims that people labeled "enemy combatants" have no rights, period. This is Nazi stuff, and it has to be stopped.
“There is no right under the laws and customs of war for an enemy combatant to meet with counsel concerning his detention, much less to meet with counsel in private, without military authorities present,” the Justice Department wrote.
I'm sure there is no specific protection under the constitution for "remotely silly willywankers" or "moodlemoodlers", and there appears to be no one in Congress willing to deny the Bushies the ability to label any of us any of these things. The Bill of Rights protects people, with some additional protections granted to US citizens. Jose Padilla happens to be both a person and a citizen, and the Bushies are claiming that he has no rights at all. This could happen to any of us. Bush took an oath to preserve and protect the constitution: he is deliberately attempting to destroy it, and he should be impeached. Capital punishment might be in order, but the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the retarded cannot be executed, which is otherwise a good thing. I'd say maybe we buy W a nice retirement home in Jenin.
September 11 hijackers were trained by US military: This article describes how an Air Force officer is being disciplined for claiming that Bush new about 9/11 before it happened and allowed it to happen for political gain. The officer had known one of the hijackers when he was a student at the military's Defense Languages Institute in Monterrey California.
June 19, 2002
The Bushies have made no secret of their intention to use secret methods to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Were it not for all of the other bizarre nonsense they are spouting this would seem to be a strange development: a highly publicized secret operation. This article explains why: Iraq has always been suspicious that UN weapons inspectors were actually spying for ways to eliminate Saddam. Now that W has stated clearly that we will use sneaky means to promote "regime change," there is no way that Saddam will allow weapons inspectors back. And that will be used to justify the war that W so badly wants.
Government for sale: Drug companies give Republicans lots of money; Republicans give drug companies a lot more back.
June 18, 2002
Ohio Nazi University: No matter what Ohio State students may have studied in their four or five years of school, they were given a graphic education in current reality at commencement when W came to speak:
(An eyewitness account from the website: http://www.turnyourbackonbush.com/ [actually, I couldn't get the link to this report to work, so I am copying it here from an e-mail sent to me--BG])
Ohio State fascism - What happened today
As I sit here before you, I must admit I am truly exhausted from a full day. I've read the thread about Ohio State on LBN, and I am here to tell you it is true...and then some. I'll try to hit all the details.
And what happened to us is truly unbelieveable.
We arrived at Ohio Stadium at 6am. A rally was scheduled at the Jesse Owens memorial site for that time, and the graduates were to be at their places by 630am. Family and friends were permitted to enter at that time as well.
I didn't get close enough to the 6am rally, but in my search for an organizer of Turn Your Back On Bush, I did indeed hear the announcement. Graduating students were told that they would be expelled and arrested if they turned their backs. they were alerted that dozens of staff members and police officers would be watching the stands, as well as the Secret Service. A few students asked for the definition of expulsion....did it mean removal from the stadium or refusal of their diplomas, or both? One of the persons at the front said "Both. And what will your parents do when they are paged from the crowd to bail out their son?" I do not know if this person had an official capacity with the Ohio State University or any police department.
I must say, I did not hear that exchange. I was informed of it later when I found outside the stadium protesting. To tell these ADULTS that after 4 years and 80,000 dollars that they would be tossed aside if they didn't face a certain direction?????
I began to wonder how many of those students went to find their friends who were graduating pre-law.....
We entered the stadium later with family and friends, and similar statements swirled around the crowd. "Please make sure you stand and loudly cheer our President. Our graduates have been requested to do the same, and have agreed to give a loud cheer for Mr. Bush", etc.....
Once inside, we decided that it might not be a good idea to be too close to the front. We saw the lines of people waiting to get in the stadium.....and yes, we saw the yellow buses that carted them all in. I asked one of them where they were from. The woman replied "Upper Arlington". However, she could not provide a zip code when I asked her for it (the main zip code for VA is 43221). Figuring on the masses of bussed-in people, we knew it might not be wise to be up front.
We went behind the graduates and looked for peace signs on the mortar boards (a sign that was meant to ID the Turn-Your-Backers). It was really difficult to get an accurate count, but there were a LOT of peace signs. I was sure that we weren't the only ones counting peace signs.
It didn't take long for our stomachs to turn....the first speaker (I believe the OSU President) began spouting about how proud they were to have Bush there. He said "We have a long tradition of inviting great men and women to speak at our commencements." I quickly responded "but since we couldn't get one, here's Georgie".
That got the attention of the state trooper in front of us. His eyes were on me the rest of the time.
The speech continued to mention that Chimpy was "a tireless worker in the field of education" and "a man who unified this country after the terrible events of 9/11". It was interesting to note that it took a LONG time for the 9/11 applause to turn into a standing ovation....they held out for that one, not continuing the speech intentionally.
About 10 minutes later, Shrub was introduced to speak. Before he even got to the stage, we did our about-face. I looked over my shoulder to see how many graduates were doing the same. However, everybody was standing at that point, and in pure black robes, it was impossible to see who was facing what direction. Furthermore, over that same shoulder, I saw one of Columbus' Finest heading our way.
We never got to see how many students participated. We were being led out of Ohio Stadium. To the officers' credit, he realized there was a 3-year-old in my arms and was not at all hostile. I asked him if I was under arrest, and he did not answer me. When we reached the exit, I asked the SS man why we had been ejected, and he told me we were being charged with disturbing the peace. If we chose to leave, the charges would be dropped immediately.
With our daughter in mind, we chose not to fight it. I am sure we will regret it someday when Bush's fabulous economy strikes us and we need a few million in a lawsuit. But our daughter did not need any more irritation on this day.
On this day, June 14th, 2002, I came to the realization that we no longer live in a free society. This is rapidly heading in the same way Nazi Germany headed. Questioning our leaders is no longer the most outrageous crime you can be charged with. Not paying attention to them is.
As you take in this message I give to you, I would like to add a footnote. Next time, I will not leave quietly. Next time, I will not allow you to intimidate my fellow Americans who wish to speak out. Next time I will not be so blind when I confront you. Next time we meet, I will have more people with me to oppose you. Next time, I will have brought voter registration cards for people whose eyes I will open to your oppression.
And next time, I will have a babysitter.
June 17, 2002
Classified investigations of the Qaeda threat now under way at the F.B.I. and C.I.A. have concluded that the war in Afghanistan failed to diminish the threat to the United States, the officials said. Instead, the war might have complicated counterterrorism efforts by dispersing potential attackers across a wider geographic area. -- from the New York Times
June 16, 2002
Rogue State: The Bush Administration is openly advocating a strike-first policy against Iraq and other nations it finds convenient to obliterate. This violates all principles of international law and can only mean more anger and hatred directed at the US and its citizens. Our claims to moral superiority were always dubious: this policy puts us in a class with Germany's blitzkriegs in World War II and Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. And the focus on Iraq is so bizarre: The only "evidence" I can find of any attack by Iraq on the US is that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta may have met with some Iraqis in Prague in 2000. From what I have read, Atta did a lot of traveling in the two years leading up to September 11: Germany, Spain, Egypt, the US. Chances are he met with people from those countries and many others during this travel. We are pretty sure that he met with his fellow hijackers from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. None of these are being used to justify starting a war (or using the CIA to force a "regime change") against these other countries. Nor should they be. If Iraq is in fact developing dangerous weapons, the most obvious reason is that the world's only superpower continues to bomb and threaten them with little justification. (The US basically gave Saddam a green light to invade Kuwait back in 1990, and even if Iraq did deserve to be punished for that, they have been for 11 years now.) Aside from the alleged meeting in Prague, Iraq has not been tied to September 11, nor to the attack on the Cole, the embassies in Africa in 1998, the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, or any other terrorist attack on the US.
In addition, just as the "war on terrorism" has been used to justify increased violence against Palestinians by Israel and scary talk of war by India, our claiming the right to pre-emptive strikes is sure to be used by other countries as well. This will soon lead to the complete collapse of any semblance of international law, and quite possibly to World War III. The Bush administration is quite possibly the most dangerous threat to world peace since the Nazis, and the American people and their representatives need to put a stop to this crap right now.
June 10, 2002
Pouring gasoline on the fire: India and Pakistan are on the brink of war, so the US does what it usually does--arms both sides. This WSWS article describes recent US support for India, which hasn't gotten as much attention as the support for Pakistan in the "war on terrorism." We were squarely on both sides of the bloody Iran-Iraq conflict in the '80's, overtly supporting Saddam and Iraq while covertly supporting the Ayatollah and Iran. Besides increasing the frequency and violence of wars around the world, the US role as arms merchant to the world is clearly anti-democratic since it gives additional deadly power to those already in power, making it easier for them to suppress any opposition. As if that weren't enough, Bush has offered to assist governments in "fighting terror," which they are pretty much free to define any way they want.
June 7, 2002
Computer problems, Stanley Cup, World Cup, Can't Wake Cup: All contributors to my rant-out this week. Congratulations to the US Soccer Team, 3-2 winners over highly-rated Portugal in their first World Cup match. First time I've been proud of the old USA in a while. And also congrats to the Red Wings for evening up the series with Carolina. It's tough going up against all that hockey tradition!
And now for something completely different: As the press and congress finally start catching up on the multitude of misdeeds committed and good deeds omitted by the Bushies, said Bushies are spastically throwing new issues out almost daily in what is to me a blatant attempt to change the subject. Certain, massive and frequent terror attacks to come. FBI reorganized. CIA reorganized. Global warming is real. No it isn't. New cabinet department. Maybe a fling with an intern if things get really desperate. I guess it is understandable. If congress and the press focus in on any one issue: Enron, foreknowledge of 9-11, Cheney's energy policy (or pretty much anything Cheney), or the 2000 election they will find plenty to discredit, impeach, and possibly indict most of the White House staff (including W) and the cabinet. So not only do the Bushies keep moving the shells around, they keep adding shiny new shells to the game.
India-Pakistan and Israel-Palestine creep closer to war, and in both cases W's "war on terrorism" is being used as justification. Not only that, Bush's rhetoric actually encourages war through threats: "If they don't act, we will." (Approximate quote from the State of the Union Address.) I am just appalled by the way the Bushies seem to just say something and it happens. I was always under the impression that our system of checks and balances made it difficult to move quickly, which was sometimes a hindrance but usually a protection from hasty action. It appears now that instead of having Hillary put together her task force and study health care reform for months, Bill Clinton could have just decreed that we would have universal health care and that would have been that. All he had to do was declare a war against someone, anyone, after the first World Trade Center attack.
India-Pakistan. Israel-Palestine. I versus P. What's next? Indonesia-Philippines? Italy-Portugal? Indiana-Pennsylvania?
June 3, 2002
That's more like it! Last week I bemoaned the fact that Common Dreams ran back-to-back articles attacking Bushie conspiracy theories. Today they've got a good one supporting those theories.
First Safire (below), now Buchanan: I know Pat Buchanan has lots of ideas which I detest, but this column is so completely right on that I say "Thanks, Pat!" His point: the price of empire is terror. We give up our imperial tendencies, we get to keep our cities and our lives. As Buchanan says: "Evil though they may be, Islamic killers are over here because we are over there."
Safire takes on Ashcroft: William Safire must be one of the best columnists around. His columns almost invariably make me mad. Sometimes I am furious at Safire. For instance, his columns highlighting the supposed meeting between hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague is the only hint of a legitimate excuse for the war plans against Iraq. But today's Safire column makes me mad at its target, Ashcroft and the FBI (okay, making me mad at Ashcroft is about as hard as making W inarticulate). He points out that there are few if any physical barriers to the FBI finding out what you buy, what groups you belong to, and what your thoughts are, especially if you have your own rants page. Our main protection has been rules prohibiting such fishing expeditions on the part of the FBI, rules which Ashcroft and FBI Director Mueller decided last week were hindering the "war on terrorism." So I'm with Nixon's former speechwriter on this one: Safire away!
Global Warming is Happening, Fossil Fuels are to Blame, But Let's Not Do Anything About It Except Drive Our SUV's to the Mall to Buy More Summer Clothing. That's the basic gist of the U.S. Climate Action Report 2002 released by the government. I suspect that this will be followed by research grants to companies to improve building and automotive air conditioning, payments to realtors to compensate for prime beachfront property turning to coral reefs, and additional payments to oil companies as they convert their drilling rigs in low-lying areas to offshore rigs. I guess I'm taking the half-empty rather than the half-full view. That the Bushies are admitting that global warming is happening and that fossil fuels are to blame is a big step in the right direction.
Some quotes from W's graduation speech at West Point, with my annotations:
"If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long," the president said, speaking at the commencement of the 204th graduating class of West Point, the nation's oldest military academy. "We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge." That is, we reserve the right to bomb anyone, anywhere, at anytime, unprovoked. They are sure to love us then.
In a toughly worded speech that seemed aimed at preparing Americans for a potential war with Iraq, Mr. Bush added, "The only path to safety is action. And this nation will act." He did not mention Iraq by name, but warned that "even weak states and closed groups could attain a catastrophic power to strike great nations." Is he talking about Texas and the Republicans?
"America stands for more than the absence of war," Mr. Bush said. Well duh. W certainly won't stand for absence of war.
"In defending the peace, we face a threat without precedent," Mr. Bush said. "The attacks of Sept. 11 required a few hundred thousand dollars in the hands of a few dozen evil and deluded men. All of the chaos and suffering they caused came at much less than the cost of a single tank." The president also spoke of a future in which the United States would aggressively promote human rights around the world. This is why we need a multi-billion dollar missile defense system and a $48 billion increase in the defense budget, because we are much stupider than the terrorists.
The 20th century, he said, "ended with a single surviving model of human progress, based on nonnegotiable demands of human dignity, the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women and private property and free speech and equal justice and religious tolerance." And Bush intends to eliminate it.
May 31, 2002
Conspiracy against conspiracy theories? One of my favorite websites, commondreams.org, has run articles (The September 11 X-Files... and Crude Politics of Scandal...) the last two days critical of people like Rep. Cynthia McKinney who are suggesting that there was something more sinister than bureaucratic bungling on the part of the Bushies in the months preceding 9/11. I certainly don't know for certain that they suppressed investigations or otherwise allowed 9/11 to happen. My strong anti-administration stance was based initially almost entirely on the public statements of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft. Their excuses for the war in Afghanistan, the "war on terrorism" in general, and the crackdown on civil liberties immediately struck me as illogical, deceptive, and hateful. This certainly put me in a more receptive frame of mind to hear and believe that they had a grand plan which had been prepared well before 9/11, and I have ranted about many of the possibilities on this page. I don't think that W or Ashcroft are smart enough, nor is Colin Powell evil enough, to have created this grand plan. But when I hear Cheney or Rumsfeld speak I do hear the voice of intelligent evil. The same goes to some of the people behind the throne: George H. W. Bush, James Baker, and Newt Gingrich. These are people who seem to honestly believe that they should run the world, and that the sacrifice of a few thousand Americans or a few million non-Americans is worth making to achieve their goal. So while I'm sure that many or most of the conspiracy theories are false or exaggerated, I am dismayed to see supposedly progressive authors working so hard to discount them. The "X-Files" article shoots down several paper tigers that I hadn't even heard of, while the "Crude Politics" articles basically tells McKinney and others to shut up. The "War on Terrorism" fits too neatly with the agenda that the Bushies wanted to follow, and they have benefited too much politically and probably financially, for the possibility of foreknowledge of or even involvement in 9/11 to be ignored in any investigation. I think there is enough to discredit and possibly impeach Bush without that foreknowledge or involvement, but the debate will never focus on their actual failings and crimes unless the possibility that they could be worse is raised.
May 30, 2002
The good news: W is sending Rumsfeld to Pakistan. The bad news: W is apparently going to allow him to return to the US.
Conyers leads anti-Ashcroft chorus. Rep. John Conyers is saying basically what I said this morning (below) in a powerful bid to join my list of acceptable presidential candidates.
The FBI screwed up, so we have to suffer. FBI Director Robert Mueller has now admitted that the Bureau might have been able to stop the 9/11 attacks. His response, while late, seems appropriate. He thanks whistleblower Coleen Rowley for her memo which was critical of Mueller and FBI headquarters, admits mistakes on his part, and has come up with a plan intended to improve the Bureau's handling of information to make it more likely that they will "connect the dots" next time. To his credit, he didn't blame the failure on restrictions imposed by Congress or the courts.
Unfortunately, his boss Attorney General John Ashcroft has used the FBI's screw-ups as an excuse to give the Bureau more power and further restrict our civil liberties.
"These new guidelines say to the American people that you no longer have to be doing something wrong in order to get that F.B.I. knock at your door," Laura W. Murphy, director of the national office of the A.C.L.U., said. "The government is rewarding failure. It seems when the F.B.I. fails, the response by the Bush administration is to give the bureau new powers, as opposed to seriously look at why the intelligence and law enforcement failures occurred." -- from the New York Times
I must say I am confused. I was always under the impression that major changes in government policy required legislation and/or a court decision. Even Nixon and Reagan, when they wanted to immediately change US policy by throwing a coup in Chile or funding terrorists in Nicaragua by selling weapons to Iran, thought that they had to be secret about it because they were breaking the rules. Now I'm sure that the Bushies are breaking plenty of rules that we don't know about, but the idea that Ashcroft, of all "people," can simply decree that 27 years of official policy against domestic spying can be simply thrown out at his request is shocking, as is his pronouncement or whatever it was regarding the Second Amendment a few weeks ago. Pain-in-the-Ashcroft lost his bid for reelection to the Senate in a landslide to a dead man, and barely squeaked through his confirmation hearings. Now, he is using the failures of the FBI, an agency under his control, as an excuse for eroding decades and even centuries of civil rights protections.
In Ashcroft's perfect America, all of us will die in one big shootout in prison. Please contact your senators and representative and ask them to pull the reins in on Ashcroft, preferably through impeachment. He's hiding a lot more than nipples.
May 29, 2002
Probably getting carried away again*, but...Robert Mueller took over as head of the FBI just one week before 9/11. Is there something fishy about that timing?
*Sorry, but I basically write this blog from the bottom up, so this item was written after the one below. Technically this phenomenon is known as "the blogger's dilemma."
Probably getting carried away here, but...I was reading Tom Tomorrow's blogwhere he mentioned W's asking the president of Brazil "Do you have Blacks too?" Tracking this down led me to a transcript of a CNN Crossfire program, where James Carville described W's question and Condi Rice's explanation to him that Brazil, in fact, has more blacks than any country outside of Africa. But I also found in the Crossfire transcript a discussion of campaign violence in Kentucky, where several candidates for local office have recently been shot and/or killed. Pursuing this, I ended up at the website of the Lexington Herald-Leader, and in browsing the Local page I came across this article about terrorist bombings in West India. This news didn't make it to the international page of the New York Times, although after thoroughly searching their AP wire page I did find it. Interesting to see that a state in which it is risky to run for county clerk considers India to be local. Like I said, I'm probably getting carried away.
Virtual Virtual Reality: The Web is infested with bogus sites posted by PR firms working for evil-doing corporations. Many of these claim to be environmental or consumer groups but are actually pushing corporate agendas opposing protecting the public from pollution or dangerous chemicals. This article describes an incredibly tangled web woven by PR firms working for Monsanto and the other GMO storm troopers. One part of the article of interest to me was the mention of the "Center for Consumer Freedom." My friend Sanjay sent me a link to their site a few months ago where they were attacking Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation. After browsing their site for a while, I sent them an e-mail basically telling them what I thought of them (I was mostly polite, however). I did get a more reasonable and informed response than I expected, especially in comparison to the articles on their site. I'm unclear what can be done about crap like this, but it seems as though our only real hope is for all large corporations to be broken up into tiny little companies, locally owned and controlled. I predict that eventually this will happen, but it sure would be nice if it happened peacefully instead of after the many military and environmental disasters staring us in the face have run their course.
If you haven't read FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley's memo to FBI Director Mueller, read it now! Here's a small quote from it:
I feel that certain facts, including the following, have, up to now, been omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mis-characterized in an effort to avoid or minimize personal and/or institutional embarrassment on the part of the FBI and/or perhaps even for improper political reasons.
I'm hereby adding Special Agent Rowley to my list of acceptable presidential candidates. It seems clear that as stubborn as the "Justice" Department has been in refusing to allow the hundreds of Islamic hostages in jails around the country since September to prove their innocence and gain their freedom, it was equally as stubborn in preventing FBI agents from tracking down and jailing those few who were clearly dangerous before September 11. This certainly explains the Bush administration's obsession with secrecy: they have a whole lot to hide.
On a lighter note, I don't think there is any doubt who should star in the Coleen Rowley movie: Jodie Foster, come on down! I think we'll call it "Silence of the Feds."
May 28, 2002
Water you gonna do about it? I've often fantasized about writing a novel. The only half-decent plot I ever came up with was something I was going to call Civil War II. It would have the intelligent, determined residents of the beautiful, self-sufficient Great Lakes states facing the golfing, SUV-driving, gun-toting, Bush-voting yahoos of the American southwest in a battle over water. As you can probably tell, it would be an unbiased, even-handed approach to a difficult topic. I see an introduction featuring a face-off between governors of the Great Lakes states and Federal marshals at some planned spigot-turning ceremony. Arizona's governor would scream that the Great Lakes governors were attempting to deprive Phoenix caddies of their livelihood, and the rhetoric would escalate until the first shots were fired. I would then backtrack through a few chapters giving background on water issues and the history of the (so far) fictional aqueduct taking Great Lakes water to the southwest. I would then describe in exciting detail the course of the war starting with the Battle of Chicago and climaxing with the decisive Los Alamos campaign. The happy ending would involve a sort of affirmative reaction. All of the southwestern states which would have gotten water from the aqueduct would be combined into a single state, thus depriving them of their oversized voice in the Senate. Anyone involved in golf course ownership, management or who lived in a golf community would be forced to work in northern Wal-Marts for $7 an hour for two years, and their land would be returned to Native Americans. I'm hoping Ashley Judd will play the governor of Michigan and political leader of the Great Lakes in the movie, with George Clooney as commander of the Great Lakes Combined Militias. Jennifer Lopez will play the reporter for the Phoenix Gazette who is slowly won over to the justice of the Great Lakes cause.
I bring this up because the water issue was discussed in the Michigan gubernatorial debate last week. All six candidates, even the sleaziest Republican, said they would oppose any access to Great Lakes water by southwestern states. And then today I came across this (so far) three-part series on the ongoing drought in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We have had decades of federal subsidies to the west: homestead lands, free land to the railroads, low-cost or free mining, timber and grazing rights on federal land, and lots of massive and expensive dams and aqueducts. I see similarities to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza: the cities and golf courses of the west are "facts on the ground" that don't belong there, but which people won't give up without a fight.
May 27, 2002
That clears that up, I guess: Assistant Secretary of Defense Victoria Clarke sent a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, supposedly trying to clarify Donald Rumsfeld's remarks to a Senate committee recently. Clarke complains because the Post "characterized as inevitable that there would be terrorists armed with nuclear bombs or other weapons of mass destruction." To "set the record straight," Clarke quotes from Rumsfeld's testimony: "...terrorist networks have relationships with terrorist states that have weapons of mass destruction, and that they inevitably are going to get their hands on them." I've read the whole letter about five times now, and I still can't see how Clarke can claim that the Post's paraphrase is not accurate. Can you?
Just one more instance of how wrong Bushes can be: Tests Show Broccoli Is Good for You.
On this Memorial Day, let us not only remember those who gave their lives making the world safe for freedom and democracy in the past, but also those who will misguidedly do just the opposite in the "War on Terror" in the future. And while we can only remember and weep for the dead of past wars, it is not too late yet for most of those who will die if the Bush-Cheney vision for the future prevails. It is up to all of us to see that it doesn't.
It is pretty disgusting to see chickenhawk Bush speaking anywhere, but it is definitely stomach-churning to see him speak at Normandy.
May 24, 2002
So what does Bush know? That inciting fear of terror and hyping a war on terror are effective means of stifling debate, intimidating opponents, and pushing reactionary, corporate-sponsored, ideologically-correct and politically-partisan social, economic, and anti-environmental programs. The terrorist attack of September 11 changed a lot in this country. What it has not changed are the pre-9/11 public policy goals of the Bush Administration. -- from Marty Jezer
Corporate Squeeze on Independent Publishers: BankOne and Borders have launched an assault on small publishers. BankOne has called in a loan, which was not behind in payments. Numerous small publishers were unwittingly connected to the loan and now have to scramble to find the funds to stay in business. Borders is turning over much of its book selection process to several big publishers who are unlikely to give much shelf space to smaller publishers. The corporate bosses have already made it impossible to hear alternative, or even accurate, viewpoints on TV or radio. They are now moving on to books.
Merrill Lynch "regrets that there were instances in which certain of our Internet sector research analysts expressed views which at certain points may have appeared inconsistent with Merrill Lynch's published recommendations." -- Molly Ivans points out that Merrill Lynch has thus apologized for the fact that some of their analysts told the truth, not that Merrill's published recommendations were self-serving lies. Time for a Merrill Lynch mob, methinks!
Rather obvious! Dan Rather is pointing out how all these new terror warnings are just an attempt by the Bushies to change the subject. Where were you when we needed you last September, Dan? Still, better late than never. Dan made his name going after one scumbag Republican president (Nixon). Maybe he can reclaim it by going after another.
If Rumsfeld’s claims are true—that after a decade of wars and despite a new and massive expansion of the US military, terrorist counterstrikes of catastrophic proportions are unavoidable—then the net result of the militaristic policies he embodies has been to doom the American people to death and destruction on a horrific scale. - from the World Socialist Web Site.
The entire article that this came from is worth reading. I went to a meeting last night where someone compared the Bushies approach to the frog in the water on the stove. If Rumsfeld had made his dire predictions last summer, when they were probably more justified, instead of last Sunday, the public might have dismissed him as the warmongering old coot that he is. Instead, they keep turning up the heat by raising the level of fear, and the public never realizes when they have passed the point where they can no longer jump out of the pan. Rumsfeld's point about the "asymmetrical advantages of the attacker as opposed to the defender" to me make a clear case for doing what we can to stop pissing people off. It makes a terrible case for all of the various wars we are starting and continuing.
So many scandals, so little time! The list just keeps growing, but the Bushies still act as though they are entitled to do whatever they want at all times. These scandals may not be as much fun as cigars and stained dresses, but their impact on the country and the world is much worse. While "what did he know and when did he know it" is getting maybe 25% of the coverage that it deserves, the other scandals seem to fade into the background. So here's a reminder:
It's no wonder that the Bushies are so obsessed with secrecy. It appears that there is nothing that they do that could withstand full scrutiny.
May 23, 2002
LBJ, GWB: Overzealous, under-informed Texans surrounded by yes men, leading us blindly into war. Good opinion piece from Richard Cohen.
Where's the beef? Hiding under the salmonella. Fortunately, the word from the American Meat Institute should provide comfort to those of you still daring enough to eat a burger or steak: "If the presence or absence of salmonella on a raw product were a measure of whether a product is safe or unsafe, then the government would be forced to require that only canned and cooked foods be sold." Why isn't Ashcroft going after the meat producers? They are obviously assisting suicides here.
This may not be a worthy rant, since its basis is a suggestion from a William Safire column to W on things he should say to President Vladimir Putin when he is in Russia, but if the suggestion is taken it will be just one more example of the administration insisting that other countries behave better than we do. The quote:
Bush, one hopes, will stress the need for sanctity of contracts and the end of wholesale bribery to attract investors.
Things would be a lot better here if someone would stop the use of bribery to attract investors. States have been pitted against each other for decades, stealing industry from each other through anti-union legislation, laxer environmental and worker safety laws, lower taxes, and outright gifts of land and money. The winners are the corporations; the losers are the workers and taxpayers of all the states. Bribery is probably too nice a word for this behavior, but most of our elected officials have supported it by "finding ways to compete for jobs for our state" rather than working at the federal level to make this competition unnecessary, perhaps even illegal. And GATT, NAFTA and the WTO just extend the madness worldwide. Admitting Russia to the WTO just adds another couple of hundred million people in direct competition for your job.
So Bush is calling for openness to opposition parties in Cuba, and Safire is telling him to end bribing of investors in Russia. Bush should remember that he was appointed to be president of the United States, and that he is doing one god-awful job of it.
May 22, 2002
Doomsday approaches: India and Pakistan are ready to go at it again, with nuclear armageddon a possibility. To build on what I wrote yesterday, it is very scary when avoiding nuclear war will require the sustained diplomatic efforts of intelligent, peace-seeking world leaders (let me know if you find any), while starting nuclear war is in the hands of any lunatic with some semtex or an assault rifle.
"What did the President know and when did Dick Cheney explain it to him?"
-- stolen from Tom Tomorrow,
who stole it from Jay Leno.
As for the national news media, top editors may still think it’s patriotic to shield George W. Bush’s limitations from the eyes of the world. But a greater danger might rest in creating an image of Bush as a competent leader when the reality is different. -- from Robert Parry
May 21, 2002
So much for democracy! From an account of a gubernatorial debate this evening:
Minutes before the questions for the candidates began, Brighton police went on stage to forcibly remove Doug Campbell, who is running for governor on the Green Party ticket. Campbell had tried to be included in the forum, but organizers said it was open only to candidates running in the Aug. 6 primary. Campbell was taken from the stage and would face charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, Brighton Police Chief Mike Kinaschuk said. "He was given ample time and opportunity to leave of his own accord" but refused to get out of the chair set up for another candidate on stage, Kinaschuk said.
How are we ever going to get good government when we are restricted, apparently by force of law, to choose between the scumbag Republican who raises the most money and the scumbag Democrat who raises the most money? W was calling for giving opposition parties the freedom to organize and speak just yesterday! But that was in Cuba--he has no interest in bringing democracy to Michigan. I saw this covered on the local Fox News tonight; they fortunately made Campbell's removal the highlight of their story on the debate. The section I pulled from the AP report was buried way down in the story, and Campbell's removal wasn't mentioned in the headline. To show how much the "environmental" movement has been co-opted by the major parties, here's another quote:
Lana Pollack, who heads the Michigan Environmental Council in Lansing and is a member of the MLCV board, said the fact that all six major party candidates attended the forum is an indication that environmental issues will be important in the gubernatorial campaign. "As an environmentalist, my heart is lifted. It is singing, because I hear candidates fighting to be the best environmentalist," she said.
Sorry Lana, but the candidate who would actually be the best environmentalist was forcibly removed and arrested. The Greens are the only party truly interested in the environment, and the head of the Michigan Environmental Council has a singing heart when the Greens are denied the opportunity to debate environmental issues.
Along these lines, I went to Borders this evening to hear a talk given by John Stauber, co-author of Trust Us, We're Experts! He described how corporate-backed PR firms subvert and distort environmental and consumer causes through greenwashing and a variety of disinformation campaigns. Stauber and Rampton's previous book, Mad Cow USA, is available as a free download from their website. Like most arguments for being a vegetarian, the possibility of contracting mad cow disease or one of its relatives is completely convincing by itself. Eating meat is not only killing animals, it is also destroying the environment, exacerbating hunger worldwide, and is quite possibly a form of slow suicide. To quote from the PR Watch website:
On May 12, 1997, ABC World News Tonight reported that "people may not be contracting Alzheimer's as often as we think. The bad news is that they may be getting something worse instead. . . . This is about Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. It is fatal. It destroys your brain, and what is worse, it is infectious."
In England, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) has already become a household word because of its association with that country's epidemic of mad cow disease. In 1996, the news that young people were dying from eating infected beef shook England and all of Europe.
Rampton and Stauber, authors of the critically-acclaimed Toxic Sludge Is Good for You: Lies Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry, reveal how mad cow disease has emerged as a result of modern, intensive farming practices whose true risks are kept hidden by government and industry denials.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror... -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
This article makes the point that the recent bizarre actions of the Bushies, especially Cheney's warnings that another terrorist attack is certain, are both inspired by fear and intended to increase fear. As with so much of what they do, it reminds me of Orwell's 1984, where rocket bombs hit various parts of London every day or two, apparently random, supposedly sent by the current enemy, although no one really knows where they come from. The fear supplies the justification for further restrictions on civil rights and for ever increasing expenditures on weapons, soldiers and police.
Scary thoughts for the day: With US, Indian, Israeli and other powerful militaries on hair-trigger alert, and with government leaders promising us that more terrorist attacks are coming, the stage is set for all sorts of catastrophes. I was intrigued by reports that said that the recent suicide bomber in Netanya was dressed as an Israeli soldier. None of the reports suggested that it might actually have been an Israeli soldier. I doubt if it was, but my point is that by having these massive weapons ready to go at any provocation, fanatics on any side of any issue now have the power to start or continue wars. If only a few Israeli soldiers were fanatically devoted to the destruction of the Palestinians, assisting or even committing suicide bombings in Israel would be a much surer path to achieving that goal than just following orders and being good soldiers. Similarly, the massive mobilization of US forces and all the talk about the axis of evil and the 50-year "war on terrorism" give inordinate control to all sorts of fanatics all over the world.
Here is one really scary scenario: imagine a nuclear explosion in some city in Iraq. Saddam Hussein would immediately blame the US, with some plausibility, since US jets bomb Iraq all the time. Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of the warmongers in Washington would immediately claim that Saddam had once again used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, saying that the city destroyed was home to a leading opposition group within Iraq. While both explanations are possible, it would be difficult or impossible to determine the truth. The resulting US-Iraq war could be the desired goal of the real perpetrator, who might be Osama bin Laden, the Palestinians, the Israelis, the Iranians, or some hard-line communists from the former Soviet Union looking to regain superpower status for Russia.
Similarly, any new terror attack in the United States will lead to more calls for bombing countries, restricting civil liberties, and increasing defense spending. There are certainly some nut cases in this country who think that an even-larger war against, well, anybody is a desirable thing worth sacrificing the lives of hundreds of Americans for. The world is one big nuclear reactor, metaphorically and literally, and we are close to pulling out too many carbon rods and having the reaction go critical.
May 20, 2002
Not to be too humble or anything, but Maureen Dowd's column in Sunday's New York Times echoed pretty much what I was saying on Friday. For example:
Even if all President Bush learned at his Crawford briefing on Aug. 6 was that bin Laden was gearing up for hijackings here, why not order tougher airport security and fortified cockpit doors? After all, the 9/11 attacks started as old-fashioned hijackings.
I liked her conclusion, too:
Dick Cheney suggested that Democrats asking questions were unpatriotic. But that suggestion is anti-American. Maybe there has been too much bipartisanship lately. You can't get the truth that way.
Leaving diplomacy to the former presidents: Lacking any diplomatic skill or desire of their own, the Bushies have left our relations with Cuba and East Timor to former presidents Carter and Clinton. Here are some well-deserved kudos for Carter. I think we should give him another chance as president in 2004. As the article says, he's the best ex-president we've ever had. It says a lot, all of it bad, about our system that his presidency was not more of a success. For probably the first and only time ever we had a President who was honest, intelligent, and cared deeply about all the people of the world, and he got run out of town. So my list of acceptable presidential candidates for 2004 now includes Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney and Jimmy Carter. If at least one of these is not a major candidate I'm going to tell everybody to go back to their smoke-filled rooms and not to come out until they get it right! Bush-Gore, Bush-Daschle, etc. are totally unacceptable and must be rejected. Unfortunately our undemocratic two-party system is almost guaranteed to give us one of these or something equally disgusting. Maybe we can bring in Jimmy Carter to supervise our elections and see that they are fair this time.
Mr. Bush is personally and politically committed to a hard-line policy toward Cuba. In his speech today, he conditioned any easing of this policy on Cuba's adoption of democratic reforms, such as freeing all political prisoners and giving opposition parties the freedom to organize and speak. (from the New York Times)
Does that include freeing the political prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, George? And if you are so in favor of giving opposition parties the freedom to speak, why did you and Gore block Ralph Nader from the debates in 2000? You wouldn't even let him in the building, even though he had a ticket! And don't make me laugh by suggesting that the Democrats are an "opposition" party. You and Gore said almost exactly the same things on most issues; Al just used bigger words.
W went on to talk about free and fair elections in Cuba. Good idea, George! Let's try it here next time, too!
May 17, 2002
[National Security Advisor Condoleeza] Rice said the intelligence that discussed bin Laden, tucked in a 1½-page terrorism report given to Bush, mentioned bin Laden's al-Qaida network and "hijacking in a traditional sense" -- not suicide hijackers slamming fuel-laden planes into American landmarks. -- from AP
Pretty lame excuse if you ask me! If they had taken appropriate precautions to stop "hijacking in a traditional sense" it would have stopped the "untraditional" hijackings of September 11. What is the rest of the excuse here? We didn't pay much attention since probably only two or three hundred American lives were likely at risk from a "hijacking in a traditional sense?" And the possibility of crashing planes into buildings should not have been new to the administration. It was discussed by some of the conspirators in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, it was attempted by a disgruntled FedEx employee in 1994 who tried to crash a DC-10 into FedEx headquarters in Memphis, and it was described in Tom Clancy's novel Debt of Honor in 1995 where a Japanese pilot crashed a 747 into the US Capitol killing the president and most of congress and the administration. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: I've known Jack Ryan from his early days hunting Red October right up through being our kick-butt president in Tom Clancy's fictional universe. And I must say, Mr. Bush, you're no Jack Ryan.
I'd rather that Dan had said this earlier, but it is good to hear CBS anchor Dan Rather speak out against the blind patriotism that he and other news leaders practiced following September 11 by not asking tough questions or demanding more access to the war in Afghanistan.
To me, much of the recent furor over the advance warning about September 11 is misdirected. While it would have been great if the information available had led to the thwarting of the plot and the 3000 people hadn't died, I'm willing to concede that the information may not have been complete or consistent enough to stop the attacks, even with a good-faith effort. The key point that has come out but is given only minor attention in the NY Times and Washington Post articles that I've read is that the "war on terrorism" was planned before September 11, with its real motive being US control of oil and natural gas resources in the Persian Gulf and Caspian regions. The World Socialist Web Site wrote about this back in November. The Bushies knew that starting a world-wide war and instituting a drastic domestic program of curtailing civil rights and arresting Arabs on the flimsiest of excuses would have been very unpopular last July, probably driving Bush's approval ratings from 50% down to 20% or less. Diligently and intelligently thwarting terrorist attacks before they happened would have denied them their excuse for war and repression. The scandal is not that they might have been able to piece together the plans for September 11 and stopped them; the real scandal is that their agenda may have caused them not to try.
I mentioned in my May 15 rant that little makes me madder than the undeserved praise directed at the president. Well, I've found something that does, and not surprisingly it comes from the Veep from the Deep, Useless Dick Cheney:
Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking in New York tonight, came to Mr. Bush's defense, calling "incendiary" any suggestion that the White House had advance knowledge of the attacks. He added, "Such commentary is thoroughly irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders in time of war." (from the New York Times)
You know, DICK, that we are at war because you warmongers chose to go to war, that you planned to go to war before September 11, that this plan gave you motive for downplaying or ignoring the warnings you were receiving, and that you have extended the war far beyond any rational response to 9/11. Not questioning your actions is what would be thoroughly irresponsible, and I don't blame anyone for not wanting to wait fifty years until your bloody war is over to question whether it is necessary or could have been avoided. Go crawl back in your cave and stay there until your pacemaker gives out, DICK!
May 16, 2002
McKinney for President! Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney gets in an "I told you so!" on the Republican morons who practically accused her of treason when she called for an investigation into the events leading up to September 11. You go girl!
Delay Tactics: In French or Spanish "de" means "of." So "DeLay" means "of Lay," which is exactly appropriate for Texas congressman Tom DeLay. He was a powerful tool in Enron's rise to power (so to speak) and their bilking of California, the country, and pretty much anyone else who had the misfortune of dealing with the slime of the century. He has been controlling PAC money, doling it out to fellow Republican congressmen who please him and denying it to those who don't. Read this for more.
Are the flag wavers paying attention? As yesterday's rant mentioned, the Bush administration was at best extremely lax in protecting the country from terrorist attacks, and at worst allowed or even provoked the attacks to allow the Bushies to pursue their world-domination pursuits. We've got evidence, and this article makes a good case for motive. The story of John O'Neill is almost too bizarre. After spending much of his career investigating Osama bin Laden and the attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, the African embassies in 1998 and the U.S.S. Cole in 2000, O'Neill quit his job at the FBI in protest since his warnings were being ignored by the bureau and the administration. Just weeks before September 11 he started his new job as head of security for the World Trade Center. He was one of the nearly 3000 who died there on September 11. The article describes how the Bushies had already threatened the Taliban with a "carpet of bombs" before 9/11 if they didn't accept our "carpet of gold" to build Unocal's pipeline across Afghanistan.
May 15, 2002
Little makes me madder than to hear some senator or columnist praise Bush for the "moral clarity" and "resolve" of his confused, brutal and incomprehensible response to September 11. To summarize: after 15 Saudis, three Egyptians and one UAE citizen attacked the US, Bush orders that Afghanistan be bombed, focusing not on the suspect, Osama bin Laden, but on the government and citizens of that country. Bush declared a general "war on terrorism" which is little more than an offer to repressive regimes to assist them in repressing. Now more evidence is appearing showing that there were warnings in Bush's briefings about the attacks before they happened. I remember Jimmy Carter's presidency crumbling because of the Iranian hostage situation, which was by any measure nowhere near as bad as September 11 (although the secret dealings of the Reagan-Bush campaign with the Iranians to prevent an "October surprise" before the 1980 election made it worse). George W. Bush deserves an F-minus for his first 16 months in office; the American public should take pride in the fact that they did not elect him.
May 14, 2002
Drained state worse than stained dress: The Bushies did nothing to stop Enron's theft of billions of dollars from California, and they still have Enron parolees on the payroll. They should give California every penny of campaign money they received from Enron, and they should give the American people back the election they bought using it. Add Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Switzerland and Texas to the axis of evil to get back the money from Ken Lay's secret accounts. These guys are crooks, and they should pay. Read my May 6 rant for my suggestion of an appropriate punishment.
May 12, 2002
Boycott Wal-Mart! You heard it here last! Here's why: http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=12962.
I went to hear Barbara Ehrenreich talk about her book Nickel and Dimed this afternoon. Entertaining and provocative. I don't know for sure what will work, but anyone who claims that our current economic system works is either ignorant or lying. Many of the hardest working people in this country are borderline or literally homeless because housing costs are so high compared to wages. Ayn Rand's book Atlas Shrugged featured John Galt, who was the anti-Robin Hood, stealing from the poor to give to the rich. I'm simplifying way too much--I actually liked the book and it is much more complicated than that, but Galt did see Robin Hood as the worst villain in history since he stole from the rich and gave to the poor. In any case, Wal-Mart and the other megacorporations are the anti-Robin Hoods of today, with the full complicity of the government and the media (three sides of the same triangle). Wal-Mart's low prices and high profits come on the backs of their low-wage "associates", the much lower-wage factory workers in China, and the no-wage Americans who lost their factory jobs to those Chinese slaves largely due to Wal-Mart pressure.
May 11, 2002
Scary reading! Newt Gingrich and his buddies sitting around at the American Enterprise Institute planning wars for the rest of our lives: http://www.aei.org/past_event/conf011029b.htm.
May 10, 2002
So much crap, so little time to rant about it! The National Rifle Ashcroft is insisting that the second amendment protects the rights of Americans to bear arms anytime, anywhere. Minions at the State Department are trying to make a case for war on Cuba. And nuclear war between India and Pakistan remains a distinct possibility. Congress has given away the farm to the corporate farmers while they're looking to pass "fast-track" trade legislation giving W pretty much a free hand to negotiate trade agreements without any pesky congressional input. We've never had a president more in need of oversight on everything he does than W, and never has a president gotten less.
Recommended reading: Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Ms. Ehrenreich went "undercover" as an hourly worker and tried to survive on the $7 per hour wages currently offered at Wal-Mart and other employers. The book is full of insights into the massive injustices in our system (particularly housing) and the huge barriers in place to block changes. Very entertaining and provocative reading.
I haven't written my democracy rant yet, but the Green Party platform contains many of the ideas that I favor (see the Grassroots Democracy and Fair Elections sections). Reading Ralph Nader's book Crashing the Party has strengthened my belief that our current corporate-sponsored, two-party, winner-take-all (or loser-take-all for the 2000 presidential election) system has little to do with the ideals of true democracy.
May 8, 2002
No link between Iraq and September 11, according to Newsweek. The planned invasion of Iraq appears to be simply the most outlandish attempt to affect mid-term elections in the history of the country. Read this article for more. At least this explains the repudiation of the World Court by the Bushies--without some sort of justification the attack on Iraq will be one of the biggest war crimes in history.
Spend a few days in Indonesia and you'll find many people asking you a question you weren't prepared for: Is America's war on terrorism going to become a war against democracy? -- Opening sentence of Thomas Friedman's opinion piece in the NY Times today. While the article as a whole is great, especially coming from the usually pro-Bush Friedman, this sentence assumes an incredible naiveté on the part of his readers. The war on terrorism has been a war against democracy since the very beginning. Had it been around in the 1770's, Bush's war on terrorism would have been supporting the British in detroying the terrorist infrastructure of those al Qaeda colonists like Washington, Adams and Jefferson whose rhetoric causes their followers to dump tea in the harbor and shoot at redcoats from behind fences.
Friedman ends his article much more intelligently than he starts it:
America needs to be aware of how its war on terrorism is read in other countries, especially those in transition. Indonesia is the world's biggest Muslim country. Its greatest contribution to us would be to show the Arab Muslim states that it is possible to develop a successful Muslim democracy, with a modern economy and a moderate religious outlook. Setting that example is a lot more in America's long-term interest than arresting a few stray Qaeda fighters in the jungles of Borneo.
May 7, 2002
Don't believe in vast right-wing conspiracy theories? Then you haven't researched the Carlyle Group. This investment club (minimum investment is reportedly $2 million) has George "Read My Lips" Bush and Osama bin Laden's father as investors, and has former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci as chairman, former Secretary of Treasury and State James Baker as Senior Counselor, former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt as Senior Advisor, and former British Prime Minister John Major as head of its European operations. Here's a quote from Carlyle's Global Strategy page:
We pursue transactions where our firm has a clear edge and, throughout the globe, focus on adding value to our investments through Carlyle’s expertise and access to global resources.
I assume a "clear edge" would be having the world's leading terrorist and the world's leading terrorist denouncer as sons of major investors, working together to ratchet up fear throughout the world and increase sales in weaponry supplied by companies in which the Carlyle Group is heavily invested. If you want to know who the real enemy is, the Carlyle Group is a likely candidate. Interestingly their web site makes a big deal of their high ethics, just like Enron's web site did.
Jury of Their Fears: Are you opposed to the death penalty? You can't be on a jury in a capital crime case then--your "bias" against capital punishment disqualifies you. Therefore, juries in capital cases tend to be more willing to convict, which is part of the reason why prosecutors push for the death penalty. They may know that the punishment doesn't fit the crime, but the jury required in capital cases is more likely to convict. See this article for more.
Middle America: The Welfare States. Paul Krugman makes the case that the "heartland" of America is on life support at the expense of the rest of the country, especially with the outrageous new farm bill. That bill also has serious negative consequences internationally as dirt-cheap subsidized American crops undercut farmers in developing countries. (See http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0506-09.htm)
May 6, 2002
The "Death Star" strategy, as described in the memos, allowed Enron to be paid "for moving energy to relieve congestion without actually moving any energy or relieving any congestion." And the "Load Shift" strategy allowed Enron to generate about $30 million in profits in 2000 using techniques that, according to the documents, included creating "the appearance of congestion through the deliberate overstatement" of power to be delivered in one part of the state. -- From a NY Times article describing documents recently released by Enron which show that California's energy shortage in 2000 was mostly the work of Enron. In a truly just world, Kenny Boy Lay, George Worthless Bush, his brother Just Elect Brother Bush, father George Read My Lips Bush and Veep Useless Dick Cheney would all have to live together in the tiny trailer in Key West that Barbara Ehrenreich described in her book Nickel and Dimed while trying to get by as dishwashers at Denny's working for ornery bosses from Guatemala. Of course, Enron has already sold off the division which did this crap, and since it is a corporation it can't be thrown in jail, or even forced to work at Denny's. As Howard Scott said: A criminal is a person with predatory instincts without sufficient capital to form a corporation. (from Sam Smith's wonderful quotation page).
In the next 50 years, the current worldwide fleet of 700 million motor vehicles will jump to 3.5 billion, said [Secretary of Energy] Abraham, a former U.S. senator from Michigan. Daily world oil consumption will increase from 75 million barrels in 1999 to about 120 million barrels in 2020. -- Instead of seeing this as the threat to our very existence that it is, Abe sees it as an economic opportunity for Michigan. If the entire world starts driving like Americans do it will be quite a race to see whether we choke on the pollution, die in the accidents, or fry from the global warming first. I went to see an expo of alternative fuel vehicles on Saturday, including the nice new hybrid Honda Civic. While I'm all in favor of more efficient, less polluting cars, I doubt if there is much chance of obtaining a five-fold increase in efficiency to match Abraham's five-fold increase in vehicles. Hope lies mostly in reducing substantially the number of vehicle miles traveled, which will require much more intelligent land use and improving the viability of mass transit, cycling and walking as primary means of transportation.
Cinco de Mayo, 2002
This just in from AP: President Attends Church and Jogs. (Sorry, but the link has been changed to another inane Bush article. But honestly, there was an article describing W's Sunday morning with details of the sermon he slept through and the course he jogged on. And yes, I've heard that prepositions are not the words to end sentences with. That's what other words are for.) Since reporters can't get close to the action in Afghanistan or the West Bank, can't find out who Cheney met with, and don't know who planned the coup in Venezuela, this is the type of crap they give us. This is the Associated Press in the New York Times, not National Lampoon. Is there any room left for National Lampoon, Saturday Night Live, or other satirists? The "real" news is its own satire.
May 4, 2002
I've been reading Ralph Nader's book Crashing the Party, which chronicles his 2000 presidential campaign. Ralph makes more sense in one paragraph than Bush or Gore have in their entire miserable lives. I for one will never forgive Al Gore for staying in the race, thereby splitting the liberal vote and allowing Bush to get close enough to steal the election. (That's a more valid argument than the similar one that Gore used, since Nader offered a substantial alternative to Bush and Gore did not. Why settle for "not quite as awful" when you can have "infinitely better?")
May 3, 2002
Secure, undisclosed location comes to MSU. Is it too late for me to change alma maters? If they can't come up with somebody better than the Veep from the Deep to speak at commencement, they should just cancel it.
Poll shows majority of Americans are still idiots. A University of Michigan poll said that "Seven in 10 Americans said they were willing to give up at least some of their civil liberties to improve security" and that "nine in 10 Americans favored having more police assigned to patrol public places and additional powers to permit the military to work with local police to conduct anti-terrorist activities." Blacks and Arab-Americans already know that Bush and Ashcroft are much greater threats to their life and liberty than Osama bin Laden ever dreamed of being. The rest of America will find out all too soon if they don't quickly realize that America is turning into a police state. Just like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union it will all come crumbling down eventually, but most of us will live longer and happier lives if we stop the repression now. Unfortunately, most of us don't know that.
Michigan, Ohio and Alabama aren't the only places being extorted by auto companies (see below) for the "privilege" of having polluting factories in their midst. Mitsubishi is putting the squeeze on Australia, threatening to move their plants out of down under if they aren't handed some dough under the table. Congratulations, taxpayers, your government has used your tax dollars to bribe a corporation to locate or remain in your community so that maybe you'll still have a job so you can keep paying taxes so your government can continue to bribe corporations. Don't expect to get paid too much for that job, though. The car company can still move to Malaysia or Bangladesh if labor costs get too high.
Good Boondocks cartoon, as usual.
May 1, 2002
Bush-league logic: Ashcroft must be doing a good job as Attorney General because liberals hate him so much. See Molly Ivan's latest.
Here's a good one: "In our investigation, we have not uncovered a single piece of paper – either here in the U.S. or in the treasure trove of information that has turned up in Afghanistan and elsewhere – that mentioned any aspect of the September 11th plot. The hijackers had no computers, no laptops, no storage media of any kind." -- That's from FBI Director Robert Mueller in a speech made at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on April 19. So what exactly did the administration show to Tony Blair and Musharraf and others to convince them that the poorest country in the world needed the crap bombed out of it? Read the WSWS article about this.
Nevada: It's the bomb! Maybe we can get napalm plates here in Michigan to commemorate Dow's contributions to the Cold War. How do you draw napalm?
April 30, 2002
A nice summary of W in the Middle (East), featuring some good quotes:
Why did he go?
The kindly answer is that Secretary of State Powell is the wisest and most practical person in the Bush administration, and that he, more than anyone else, knew that the situation requires that America play a central role in defusing tensions and bringing the Israelis and Palestinians to the bargaining table. From this perspective, the President's vacillations, his lack of clarity in the pronouncements he made as Powell's trip unfolded, undermined the Secretary of State's mission which, compounded by the intransigence of the Mr. Sharon and Mr. Arafat, ultimately unraveled into failure.
The unkind answer, increasingly making the rounds in the corridors of power in Washington and on the editorial pages of several major newspapers, is that Mr. Powell was 'set up' by savage internecine warfare. In this account Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom want to move soon and powerfully on Iraq, have been in part thwarted by Mr. Powell's careful, cautious view of an Iraqi incursion. Mr. Powell's mission, in this view, was 'payback time." Forced to solve an insoluble situation, his authority would be undermined, his reputation sullied, he himself humiliated. And the major domestic impediment to moving on Iraq, the State Department, would henceforward speak with a less potent voice in the internal administration debate on Iraq, burdened now with the somewhat dimmed luster of the enormously popular Secretary of State.
Mr. Bush still has no clear idea of what he is doing, or where he is going, or what the world's most powerful nation should do about violence in the Middle East.
The constitution is slowly creeping back into the picture. In a ruling today a US district judge ruled that material witnesses cannot be detained for grand jury investigations, which could set free many who have been held for months without charges. The "Justice" Department is of course planning to appeal. Let's hope it doesn't go to the Fascist Five on the Supreme Court; they appointed this cesspool of an administration and probably aren't inclined to correct it. I'm hopeful that this will lead to Rabih Haddad's release--the last I heard is that he is being held solely as a material witness.
April 29, 2002
Interesting analysis of what the Saudis might be up to from William Safire. It refers to the quote from an unidentified Saudi source that I quoted last week.
``At that point everyone is clapping and cheering,'' Clark said. Clark was a passenger on US Airways Flight 335, which was turned around and told to return to Philadelphia on Sunday after taking off on its way to Orlando. The FBI says this was because several men of Middle Eastern descent had bought one-way tickets with cash. The plane landed back at Philadelphia less than an hour later and the suspect gentlemen were harassed and cleared. After two hours on the ground at the Philly airport the FBI finally tells the remaining passengers what is going on, which precipitates their cheering. Three cheers for the FBI! They managed to use racial profiling to embarrass several people and inconvenience many others, but still the plane was allowed to take off and be well on its way to Washington before being told to turn around, which it probably would not have done if it had been hijacked. What could it possibly take for them to earn the disapproval of the brain-dead American public?
This nonsense has got to stop! The state of Ohio has offered Ford an $83 million incentive package to build Mercury SUV's at its Avon Lake Assembly Plant near Cleveland. GM recently threatened to move assembly of its silly Chevrolet SSR (V8 powered two-seat roadster pickup mutant) unless Lansing, Michigan agreed to lower pollution standards. Politicians in Montgomery, Alabama were ecstatic that Hyundai agreed to build a 2000-job assembly plant there for only $133 million in state and local bribe money. That's $66,500 per job! Corporations have pitted city against city, state against state, and with NAFTA and WTO, country against country in a bidding war for jobs. Ralph Nader, in his book Crashing the Party, describes a recent case where Daimler-Chrysler squeezed millions out of Toledo and Ohio to locate a Jeep plant in Toledo. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed to build the plant, and an economic downturn resulted in far fewer jobs being created than were promised. I don't know all the answers, but it sure seems like corporations should be paying states substantial fees for the privilege of doing business within their borders, not the other way around. There is now more real competition between Michigan, Alabama and Mexico than there is between Ford, GM, and Daimler-Chrysler. This benefits the shareholders and executives of the corporations to the detriment of the citizens of the states and countries. We need to realize that we have more than enough stuff and that economic activity and jobs aren't the necessities--food, clothing and shelter are.
April 27, 2002
All they are saying is give peace no chance: The Bush administration is planning this massive war against Iraq, unprovoked, with no legitimate excuse. Congress should insist that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft be in the front line; nobody should be allowed to so flippantly and premeditatedly plan a war without putting their own Republican butts on the line.
Here's a copy of my letter to my senators and representative. If you agree with me, please copy it into your e-mail and send it to your congresspeople.
Dear Senators Levin and Stabenow and Representative Rivers:The Bush administration appears to be quite open about its plans to start a war on Iraq. There seems to be no effort at resolving whatever issues we have with Iraq diplomatically; the only concerns seems to be timing, logistics, and the reaction of other countries to our attack. From what I have read, Iraq has not attacked us. I have seen unsubtantiated reports of contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Mohammed Atta in Prague, but nothing else. (And if Iraq was behind 9/11, why the war in Afghanistan?) Iraq's crimes are apparently two: one was the attack on Kuwait twelve years ago, which they were suckered into by our ambassador and for which Iraq has been and continues to be punished; and the possible possession of weapons of mass destruction, a crime for which the most guilty party in the world is the United States and which is shared with many of our allies.War in all cases is brutal and every effort should be made to avoid it. On the contrary, the Bush administration's entire approach to foreign policy in the Middle East appears to have war on Iraq as its top priority for which it is willing to compromise other interests. Undertaking an unprovoked attack on Iraq will be one of the greatest war crimes in history. I hope and expect that you, as my representatives in Washington, will speak out forcefully and repeatedly against the administration's plans and withhold the approvals and funding necessary for such a war.
April 25, 2002
Note on Updates: I occasionally read through my rants and discover errors in things I wrote a few days ago. I'll try to keep corrections to things like spelling and grammar--it seems wrong to make changes to my takes on issues if events prove me wrong. If this happens I will write a new correction at the top of the page rather than editing my previous rant, as was Winston Smith's job in Orwell's 1984. One correction I made a couple of days ago was to change my April 17 reference to the "Alaska National Wildlife Refuge" to say "Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," which seems to be the majority opinion (NY Times and most others) as to what ANWR abbreviates. A google search, however, turned up several articles referring to "Alaska National Wildlife Refuge", including this one from the State Department quoting a Bush speech.
Okay, I know that one was boring, so now for some comedy relief:
Newark, New Jersey: Joseph Schmeckledink of Newark was arrested today after it was determined that he shaved the beards off of two of the 9/11 hijackers on September 9 of last year. He is charged with barbering terrorists.
Another note on my Maginot Line rant from Tuesday: If there are al Qaeda evil doers in Cuba, it's because we brought them there!
Senator Hollings on Free Trade and Fast Track. "Free trade" is bad for most Americans and for many of the workers overseas. It is bad for the environment. Giving W "fast track" authority will only enable him to make things worse faster. So why are so many in Congress in favor of it? Because they represent the corporations and other moneyed interests, not the rest of us. Don't tell the Bushies, but hopefully none of the Tahoe landholders who sued for compensation due to zoning restrictions was from Canada or Mexico. If they were, they could use NAFTA's Chapter 11 to accuse the local governments of restricting "Free Trade." NAFTA and the WTO take control out of the hands of people at the local level and give it to a group of secret judges working for the multi-national corporations. Al Gore's strong support for NAFTA is one of the reasons that I don't think he would have been much better than Bush--they're both working for the same guys.
A dividend of endless war, or Caught between Iraq and a Hard Place: This quote comes from a Saudi official close to the Crown Prince, according to the NY Times:
"It is a mistake to think that our people will not do what is necessary to survive, and if that means we move to the right of bin Laden, so be it; to the left of Qaddafi, so be it; or fly to Baghdad and embrace Saddam like a brother, so be it. It's damned lonely in our part of the world, and we can no longer defend our relationship to our people." (I believe he is referring to the Saudi-US relationship.)
Bush lost the "Arab Street" a long time ago; now he's managing to lose the "Arab Palace" as well. If Bush has an ounce of reason in him he will have to choose either to forego the war on Iraq to maintain the oil flow, or to institute some serious energy conservation in this country. I would see this as a positive development, since the current plan is war on Iraq without conservation, but I'm afraid that W doesn't have an ounce of reason in him. He is more likely to add Saudi Arabia to his "axis of evil" (their credentials are better than the current members) and attack Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran all at once, thereby starting World War III.
April 23, 2002
A win for the good guys! The US Supreme Court (yes, that Supreme Court) actually ruled in favor of the public and the environment today. In a case involving Lake Tahoe, the Court ruled that zoning and environmental restrictions on property do not constitute a "taking" for which the owners must be compensated. Had they ruled the other way it might have been an even more damaging ruling than their infamous Bush v. Gore ruling of December 2000. Pretty much any zoning or pollution control ordinance would have been under fire for "taking" property rights, resulting in an even greater assault on our landscape and environment than we have now. Fortunately Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy joined the liberal supremes John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer in this decision. Of course Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas opposed.
Another Maginot Line. The Senate passed a bill on Friday to ban visitors from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan and North Korea. "We know the chances of another terrorist attack are great, and we know it is unconscionable for our systems to allow entry of another terrorist into the United States," warned California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, one of the sponsors of the bill, during the debate preceding the vote. Excuse me, Senator, but I believe I heard that 15 of the 9/11 perps came from Saudi Arabia, three from Egypt, and one from the United Arab Emirates. Their countrymen can still get in! And while I'm aware of one terrorist attack on Cuba by someone now living in Florida (see below), I can't recall any terrorist attacks on the US by Cubans. (Can you? Admittedly I didn't research this, but I recall reading that the first WTC attack in 1993 was the first terrorist attack by foreigners on American soil.) And I don't notice many Americans afraid to get on a bus because "that guy might be North Korean." Personally, I'm more afraid of a white guy from New York in a Ryder truck than I am of any Sudanese I might come across. Thanks to August Pollack's blog for spotlighting this latest bit of legislative nonsense which, by the way, passed 97-0.
The dirty deed is done. The US has ousted the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Brazilian José M. Bustani, ostensibly because we don't like his management style. As mentioned here before, the real reason is that Bustani might have succeeded in resuming inspections in Iraq, thereby possibly denying the Bushies their main excuse and thwarting their lust to step up the war on Saddam Hussein. We have also been meddling with the UN inspectors for the same reason. Rarely have so many done so much to avoid peace. (More on this)
Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) is calling for a full investigation into the intelligence failures which preceded the September 11 attacks. She implies that the huge financial gains by George H. W. Bush and others close to the administration resulting from the "War on Terrorism" are fishy at best. While even I question whether the Bushies are evil enough to have knowingly allowed the attacks to occur, I am firmly convinced that their cynical "United We Stand" response of bombing the crap out of Afghanistan and the "axis of evil" nonsense is complete opportunism for the benefit of the Carlyle Group and other warmongering profiteers, not to mention their own political fortunes. The stench is strong enough that a full investigation should be made. Rep. McKinney is being blasted by Republicans and the right-wing press. You can give her some support by sending her a message at http://www.house.gov/mckinney/guest.htm.
April 22, 2002
When your only tool is a hammer...
French fascist to face Chirac in election. According to the NY Times, Mr. Chirac, a conservative, had 19.6 percent of the vote, Mr. Le Pen 17 percent and Mr. Jospin 16 percent. The top two, Chirac and Le Pen, will face each other in the primary election. While the French system is different from ours, it still allows for undesirable results as ours does (see picture above). I'm working on a big "democracy rant" which I'll post in a day or two. Stay tuned!
From the Washington Post: "The organizers did an outstanding job," said Ramsey... "If it stays this way, it will be the best one we've ever had. . . . This is really what protest ought to be." I thought this was interesting praise for the anti-war, anti-Israeli-occupation, anti-globalization rally in Washington, since it came from D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. I was one of about 40 who participated in a similar, though much smaller, rally in Ann Arbor on Saturday. No praise from our police chief that I've heard yet, unfortunately.
April 21, 2002
Monty Python's Terry Jones takes on W's concern for democracy in Venezuela.
Editorials from Al Gore and Jimmy Carter in today's NY Times.
April 19, 2002
Wondering when we're going to start the war on Iraq? Try January 17, 1991. It has never stopped! US and British planes were bombing Iraq today.
The whole point of training is to learn from your mistakes. The Americans don't seem to learn. They just keep killing people. --from a Canadian soldier quoted by the CBC, as reported in the Washington Post.
Andersonville, Bataan, Shebergan. Prisoners captured in the Afghan war are still being held by the thousands in abominable conditions. Most are malnourished, many diseased, and many have already died in captivity. They are being held by the "Northern Alliance," the brutal American ally. The Bush administration apparently has no interest in mitigating this humanitarian disaster. As I have said before, if even one percent of the people who have been killed or held captive in the "War on Terrorism" had had any role or even prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks, even the CIA would have heard something about them. These prisoners were engaged in a civil war thousands of miles from America. Many were drafted or forced into fighting for the Taliban. In no way do these people deserve to be treated this way. No one does. Just one more answer to "Why do they hate us?"
April 18, 2002
Don't know where Osama is, so let's bomb some Canadians instead. Sorry, that's slightly unfair, but only slightly. Of course, no one really knows what is going on in Afghanistan, including Secretary of Offense Donald Rumsfeld. He says that he has never had enough info on OBL's whereabouts to go after him. So I guess you just go after whatever. The approach seems to be to have heavily-armed planes flying over Afghanistan day and night, and if they see gunfire or tall people they are to shoot or bomb first and ask questions later, if ever. This in a country where the only semi-organized opposition military, armed with deadly Toyota pickups, was destroyed five months ago. When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Read Tom Tomorrow's and August Pollack's take on Rumsfeld's remarks.
Hurray! The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is safe for now! Of course, the Bushies are immediately threatening the Rockies in retaliation.
April 17, 2002
He told us his "War on Terrorism" would take a long time, and, by George, he's telling us again! In a speech today, W pledged to keep fighting, "terrorist by terrorist." He refuses to recognize that terrorists are best defined by their acts, and that his war is likely to drive more people into desperation, leading them to commit acts of terror and thereby becoming terrorists. Pretty much all terrorist attacks on the US in the last ten years can be traced to the Gulf War; I shudder to think how many will result from the "War on Terrorism." There's little worse in the world than a wrong-headed, obstinate, dim-witted, un-elected son-of-a-Bush!
ANWR heading for a vote! Please e-mail your senators asking them to vote no on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For Michigan residents, our senators are Carl Levin (email@example.com) and Debbie Stabenow (firstname.lastname@example.org). The vote is scheduled for tomorrow, so bug them today!
According to George Monbiot in the Guardian, the US intends to oust the leader of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons this coming Sunday because he apparently intends to resume inspections in Iraq, and it seems possible that Iraq might let him. As with the possibility of the resumption of UN inspections (see below), this would undermine the Bushies justification for attacking Iraq, which seems to be the only consistent element in their current excuse for a foreign policy. There were few legitimate reasons for daddy Bush's war on Iraq eleven years ago; there are none at all now.
The Fourth Reich: Otto Reich was appointed as assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs by W a few months ago. This is like if Nixon had appointed George Wallace to be in charge of African affairs, or if W had appointed Spencer Abraham to be secretary of energy; i.e., incredibly inappropriate. W managed to get Reich into the job while avoiding Senate confirmation using some sleazy trick, no doubt aided and abetted by the spineless nature of the Senate in general. Reich is a Castro-hating, contra-loving Cuban-American with links to Orlando Bosch, a man who was convicted in Venezuela in 1976 of blowing up a Cuban airliner, killing 73. Bosch has even been convicted of terrorist acts in the US, but he was pardoned by Bush the Elder in 1990 and now lives in Florida. (So who is harboring terrorists?) It now appears that Reich was involved with the recent failed coup in Venezuela. See this Guardian article for the background on Reich and Bosch, and this NY Times article for the so-far incomplete story of Reich's possible involvement in the coup. W is right--there is evil in the world. A whole lot of it is in his administration.
A lot in common--today's Doonesbury.
April 16, 2002
For the seriously cool runner: The North Pole Run!
Playing chicken with the Russians again. Maybe pressure from the Russians can make Tyson and other filthy US butchers clean up their act. Don't count on it, though.
Watch Fort Sumter--South Carolina is preparing to secede again! And I don't blame them one bit this time. Last time it was Abraham Lincoln they were battling, this time it's Spencer Abraham, the Energy Secretary. South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges is opposing Abraham's plan to ship plutonium from Colorado to South Carolina, vowing to use state troopers to stop the shipments, or even to lie across the highway himself. Maybe they can reach a compromise--store the plutonium on the campus of Bob Jones University, covered with shredded Confederate flags.
Maybe they can correct the election while they're at it: Transcripts of Bush speeches are being "scrubbed" of Bushisms. Another 1984 element. Big Brother is infallible. If you think Big Brother made a mistake, you are mistaken. Although I guess I am somewhat guilty of this myself--I just edited my rant from yesterday. Of course, no one noticed, since I haven't gotten a single reply to my plea for readers to let me know they exist (below). Do I feel pathetic or what?
April 15, 2002
Happy tax day to everyone! Is anybody still reading my rants? Please e-mail me confirmation! (mailto:email@example.com?subject=Yes, I'm reading your rants!).
Senate adopts "Conserve by Bike" amendment. Who'd a thunk it? Of course, I think that bicycles should be treated like ambulances and fire trucks. When one is coming down the road, everyone in a motor vehicle has to stop at the side of the road to allow the bike to pass. I'm afraid that wasn't in the bill, however.
Some cool anti-car-toons!
Good article from Australia.
From Molly Ivans:
However, President Bush's sex life has nothing to do with the fact that his foreign policy is so inept that all the Arab countries are now siding with Saddam Hussein rather than the United States. You really have to work at it to produce a result that bad. ... Someone suggested the other day if the Republicans were in the opposition, they'd have an "Osama calendar" updated daily: "It's now 254 days since Sept. 11 and still bin Laden eludes our clueless leaders." But that is precisely the sort of opposition we don't need.
Unlike yesterday's editorial on Venezuela (see next rant), the Washington Post is to be commended for today's editorial defending the rights of Yaser Esam Hamdi. Hamdi was arrested in Afghanistan and sent to Guantanamo Bay, where it was discovered that he was born in Louisiana, and therefore a US citizen. The Justice Department (is that newspeak or what?) doesn't have any evidence against Hamdi, so the Post is suggesting that he should be released. I do, however, take issue with the Post's reasoning that his US citizenship matters. The Bill of Rights protects persons, not citizens, and the fourteenth amendment states: ...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. Hundreds of people are currently being held without charge in this country, in Guantanamo Bay, and in Afghanistan, and the Bush administration has said that it may not release them even if they are acquitted in a trial or tribunal.
A Washington Post editorial yesterday (before Chavez's return to power in Venezuela) claimed that no one was saying that the US was involved in the coup that caused Hugo Chavez to be arrested. Apparently they aren't reading my rants (below), nor have they talked to my brother or his friend at work or seen the World Socialist Web Site. Of course, one can understand the Bush administration's distaste for democratically-elected presidents.
It appears that war against Iraq is now the primary goal of the Bush administration. All or the bizarre flip-flopping on the Israeli-Palestinian issue seems driven mostly by the hope of keeping another war on Iraq possible. This Washington Post article describes how Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz had the CIA investigate the leader of the UN weapons inspection team which is seeking to investigate Iraqi weapons programs. Wolfowitz hopes to discredit the UN man in hopes of avoiding a peaceful solution to whatever our problem is with Iraq. The completely ignored call for Israel to "withdraw without delay" and Powell's visit to Arafat were both done apparently only because the Bushies hope to build a coalition to attack Iraq. They seem so excited about the prospect that they would give up most of the other parts of their insane agenda just for the pleasure of killing Iraqis once again. Unfortunately there is no serious opposition to war on Iraq in congress; otherwise Bush would probably give up on the Alaska drilling and the tax cuts and might appoint three liberals to the supreme court to win over congress. I think even W's war-crazed father at least pretended to be reluctant to start a war--W is positively excited by wars and doesn't try to hide it.
April 12, 2002
Venezuela: Does this one smell like a CIA job or what? After a swift coup ousted democratically elected president Hugo Chavez, the US State Department immediately releases a statement basically supporting the coup. The coup was supposedly started by employees of the national oil company. Amazingly enough, oil prices are dropping again, recovering from the shock of Iraq's embargo. Here's an excerpt from what Secretary of State Colin Powell told Sen. Jesse Helms two months ago:
Briefly, we have been concerned with some of the actions of Venezuelan President Chavez and his understanding of what a democratic system is all about. And we have not been happy with some of the comments he has made with respect to the campaign against terrorism. He hasn't been as supportive as he might have been. And he drops in some of the strangest countries to visit. And I'm not sure what inspiration he thinks he gets or what benefit he gives to the Venezuelan people from dropping in and visiting some of these despotic regimes. We've expressed our disagreement on some of his policies directly to him, and he understands that it is a serious irritant... (from http://www.ciponline.org/colombia/02020501.htm)
Last year Venezuela accounted for 13 percent of U.S. petroleum imports.
In case anyone has any doubt, US foreign policy has very little to do with democracy or justice, and a whole lot to do with oil.
April 11, 2002
Be sure to read Tom Tomorrow's blog about the talk given by Tariq Ali, especially the quote from a 1933 speech by Marine General Smedley Butler. I'll add my own quote from Harry Truman: "The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know." (10 bonus points for me! After I typed that quote in, I decided I'd better search the web to see if I got it right. I did, exactly! http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/nf/teach/truman/trumaniq.html. The next one in that list is relevant today as well: "Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix.")
Let's give the Republicans some equal time here: "Possibly my hatred of war blinds me so that I cannot comprehend the arguments that its advocates adduce. But, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a preventative war...War begets the conditions that beget further war."-Dwight Eisenhower, 1950
Another Eisenhower quote: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
And one more: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. "
April 10, 2002
Some difficult questions for a teacher.
April 8, 2002
Think gas prices are high now? Read the news! Saddam Hussein has announced an oil embargo, with other Arab countries likely to follow in response to the Israeli war on the Palestinians and the incoherent US response to it; labor unrest in the Venezuelan oil business (a major supplier of US crude), a pipeline rupture in Louisiana. It won't bother me much personally--I buy about 9 gallons of gasoline a month for my Escort, and I can cut back further as the weather gets nicer for biking. But I feel sorry for those folks who commute 35 miles from their $350,000 starter castles in their $40,000 SUV's. Actually, no I don't. They deserve what's coming to them. My greatest fear, which seems depressingly likely, is that Bush will just keep expanding the war on everything in an attempt to fuel the wasteful American lifestyle for another few years, as daddy did in 1991. If he fails, millions of people, including lots of Americans, will die, and the American era of consumption will be just a disgraceful chapter in the history books. If he succeeds, more resources will be wasted, more greenhouse gasses will be generated, and millions of people, including lots of Americans, will die, and in ten or fifteen years the whole thing will happen over again. Eventually it will fail, and the American era of consumption will be just a disgraceful chapter in the history books.
April 7, 2002
The Detroit Tigers and the Palestinians--They just can't win: I came across this New York Post editorial claiming success for the Israelis because there have been no suicide bombings for a few days. It concludes "But there have been none for the past several days, which underscores the essential utility of making it difficult for the terrorists to achieve their deadly aims - by reducing their ranks." Of course, the constant Israeli demand has been for the bombings to stop. Now that they have, it is being used as justification for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians and the arrest of thousands more.
April 5, 2002
Limited membership in axis of evil? This article says that the US will begin a dialogue with North Korea. Perhaps the Bushies only have three slots available, and recent rhetoric (that "for or against terror" crap) makes it sound like they want to add Syria to the list while keeping Iraq and Iran there. So they're going to move North Korea to the back burner for a while. I'm probably giving them too much credit in thinking that they really have any plan at all. Just bluster and bomb, bluster and bomb, overthrow governments, on and on and on.
Remember a few weeks back when Ari Fleischer suggested that the trouble in the middle east was caused by the efforts of the Clinton administration? He apologized the next day, saying that no US president was to blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sorry, Ari, I must disagree. Our current "president" has definitely created an atmosphere supportive of large-scale military action, which when dealing with someone like Sharon is akin to pouring gasoline on a napalm fire (probably literally).
I plan to be there last January. Here's the opening sentence in the Ann Arbor News article on the ruling in the Haddad case: A federal judge on Wednesday ordered future and past deportation hearings against jailed Ann Arbor Muslim leader Rabih Haddad open to the public... I imagine there will be some difficulty working out the logistics of that.
April 4, 2002
Some moron from the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners wants to "make Michigan the envy of gun lovers in Florida, Nevada and Texas." Here's the article. Ross Dykman, the Coalition's director, was proud to note that "Michigan was the first state to pass legislation relaxing standards for carrying concealed weapons" following the Columbine massacre. Frankly, I'm much more fearful of getting shot by an imbecile like Dykman than I am of any al Qaeda terrorist attack.
Some good news: Federal judge Nancy G. Edmunds ruled that the Justice Department's policy to close immigration hearings is unconstitutional. The ruling means that Rabih Haddad's hearing should be open to the press and the public. Of course, the Justice Department has indicated that it will appeal, probably hoping to get it to the Supreme Court, which no longer makes any pretense of protecting the constitution. This also probably means that Haddad will be stuck in jail even longer before his hearing. He and his family had taken the appropriate steps to reinstate their immigrant status many months ago, including paying $5000 in fees/penalties. As the visas for the 9-11 pilots demonstrated, the INS does not always process things in a timely manner, so when Ashcroft's minions decided they didn't like Haddad they were able to use his visa status as an excuse for arresting him. As far as I can tell, they've come up with nothing else, which may be why they are so insistent on secrecy for the hearings. In any case, thanks to the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, the Metro Times, and Congressman John Conyers for bringing the suit on behalf of Haddad. I've read many descriptions of how things were in the Soviet Union when the KGB would arrest people and hold them indefinitely, frequently without charges. I thought how terrible it would be to live in that kind of system. Well, Rabih Haddad lives in my city, and it has happened to him. Ashcroft should be impeached, along with W for nominating him and every senator who voted to confirm his appointment. Ashcroft took an oath to protect the constitution, but he has done nothing but attempt to destroy it in his 14+ months in office.
Glimmers of hope from the tragedy: The crisis in Israel/Palestine clearly has the Bushies rattled. Their statements seem to fluctuate several times a day between the old hard-line backing of Sharon and some criticism of him combined with some sympathy for the Palestinian cause. While this may well be making the current crisis even worse, it indicates that the Bushies are now responding in some degree to international criticism, a welcome change from their previous approach. One example was Rumsfeld's strong denial that the recently captured al Qaeda leader would be taken to Egypt and tortured. Three months ago, I doubt if he would have said "Yes, he will be tortured," but he might well have said something like "He's evil and is responsible for many deaths; we are keeping all options open. I won't elaborate further." So maybe they are listening a bit and becoming aware of how dangerous it is to keep pursuing their "war on terrorism" unilaterally.
I bought Stupid White Men today and have started reading it. Apparently Harper Collins doesn't deserve too much credit. They tried to get Michael Moore to tone the book down, but he refused. He also apparently hasn't received any royalties yet, even though it is the best-selling book in the country. Interestingly, Harper Collins is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which also owns the right-wing Bush-adoring Fox News Channel (we distort, you recite).
April 3, 2002
Another example of eroded democracy: In Michigan, the Republican party leadership is selecting their gubernatorial candidate long before the primary. As in most elections recently we'll be left to choose between two miserable party hacks. The two-party system doesn't benefit the people of America--it just benefits the two parties. Of course the Republicans are trying to do away with it, but I don't think a one-party system will be an improvement.
Oh little town of Bethlehem, how ill we see thee lie
Above thy bleak and bloody streets Israeli jets go by
And in thy buildings rageth the everlasting fight
The hopes and fears of all the years are crushed in thee tonight.
More on the Rabih Haddad case. In jail without charges since December 14, the government is trying to keep his hearings secret. Fortunately, the Detroit News, Free Press, Metro Times, and the ACLU are suing to force the hearings to be public. The Bush administration has seriously confused public and private. Government business, hearings and trials are supposed to be public; personal phone calls, conversations and people's homes are supposed to be private, as are conversations between lawyers and their clients. With the unconstitutional "USA Patriot" act and sheer arrogance, aided and abetted by the mindless "patriotism" of much of the American public, the Bushies have largely reversed it.
Liberal dilemma: I desperately want to read Michael Moore's book Stupid White Men, but I'm also trying to immunize myself from "affluenza" by spending as little as possible. I've got a reserve request for the book in at the library, but it may be months before my number comes up given the book's popularity. Also, I want to support authors like Michael Moore and publishers like Harper Collins who are willing to publish leftist literature. So I'll probably head to Borders tonight and buy it, but I'll try to pass it on when I'm done. Life is a series of compromises, I guess. In the meantime, I've been reading Moore's web site. I enjoyed his open letter to George W. Bush regarding Enron.
April 2, 2002
They're after us, and most Americans are still clueless to the Bushies full-scale assault on liberty and democracy. Here's an article about how financial companies are discussing how to use credit card and financial data to "profile" terrorists. It's not right even if all of their data were 100% accurate, and you know it isn't. Maybe the first round is looking for donations to Arab charities. Once those people are gone, those of us who donate to Amnesty International and the ACLU will be profiled. Once we're gone, it will be Volvo buyers, then people who invested in international stock funds (after all, a lot of those terrorists seem to be foreign), then democrats, Catholics, liberal republicans, moderate republicans, etc. Our liberty is being threatened and if we don't do something about it soon we won't have any.
Insanity Inside: I guess if I keep referring to Tom Tomorrow's blog, you'll start reading it before you read mine (I know I do). But here's another rage-provoking article Tom has led me to--Intel is suing a non-profit organization because its name, "Yoga Inside," sounds too much like "Intel Inside," and apparently there's some ridiculous corporation-protecting law that lets them do it.
Blogjam! Tom Tomorrow's blog led me to August J. Pollak's blog, which has an interesting summary view of the Mideast situation (crisis? war? apocalypse?). You'll have to scroll down a ways on Pollak's blog to where it says "Let's argue about the Middle East, pt. 1."
Not to be too trite about it, but using explosives to kill people is bad. Maybe there are times or targets for which it is more justified than others, but the "terrorist" label being applied to people who personally deliver the explosives and not to those who use planes, rockets or guns to deliver them is nonsense.
April 1, 2002
I found the link referred to below about US agents being involved with the "rendition" of supposed terrorist suspects from countries such as Indonesia to Egypt where they can "get information from terrorists in a way we can't do on U.S. soil." In other words, US agents are basically kidnapping suspects and transporting them halfway around the world to be tortured. Why do they hate us? This is one of many reasons.
It is truly disgusting that the development described in this article could even be considered. Golf courses in the desert are prime examples of the complete disregard for the environment by many Americans. And calling the college the "World Trade Center University" is such pathetic groveling for support. I can see the headlines now: "Environmentalists block construction of University honoring September 11 victims" or some such. The article doesn't explain why the university needs its own golf course for visiting professors when they are planning on building 11 other courses. Of course, the country club's seven courses will probably be off-limits to everyone except Republican politicians and donors who were involved with approving the development.
I would normally try some sort of April Fools' joke at this point, but I can't think of anything ridiculous enough that might not be true the way things are in the world right now. Every day is April Fools' Day if you're George W. Bush.
You deserve e.coli today, so get up and get away, to...you know where. I don't want to get sued by one of the world's true evil doers like the woman in Chile who claimed that here son got food poisoning from a hamburger. Article from NY Times. Did somebody say salmonella?
March 30, 2002
From today's press conference: BUSH: Well, you may recall, the vice president has just returned from the region. This is a significant outreach. We're spending a great deal of time. It's our capacity as the leader of the coalition against the war on terror to continue not only our war in Afghanistan and elsewhere, but also continue to fight terror in this region. (emphasis added)
Well George, as someone who has been against the war on terror since the beginning, let me say "Welcome to the Coalition!" So now that you are against the war on terror, how about stopping it?
And more: BUSH: All of the countries in the region must condemn terror, speak clearly about terror.
Read the transcript of the press conference and tell me if you think that W has any right to ask anyone to speak clearly about anything.
Spine Transplant: Frank Rich of the New York Times decries the sorry state of the loyal opposition (aka Democrats).
March 29, 2002
Torture: For me the lowest point in an otherwise abominable movie, There's Something About Mary, was when Ben Stiller's character was arrested in a southern state and had his head banged repeatedly on a table by a stereotyped southern sheriff. There is nothing funny about torture in any form, and it should be opposed vigorously wherever and whenever it occurs. I can't find the link now, but I recently read an article about US agents (CIA, I think) arresting (kidnapping?) "terrorists" in countries like Indonesia and flying them off to Egypt or Jordan where torture is used to try to extract information from them. I've read historical accounts of torture as practiced by the Nazis, Soviets, the Spanish Inquisition, and others, as well as fictional accounts from George Orwell, Tom Clancy, and more. We all are aware that we will die someday, but everyone should be able to live without fear of being tormented by unbearable pain and coerced into turning on friends and loved ones through physical and mental abuse. It is terrible enough that the country founded on the principles that all men are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights should count the brutal regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uzbekistan, and elsewhere as allies. It is absolutely abhorrent that that country is actively participating in bringing people to the torturers. Nothing justified the attacks of September 11: there is even less justification for any aiding or abetting of torture. Please join or contribute to Amnesty International and let your congressional representatives know that there is no excuse for the US having anything to do with torturing human beings.
Anniston isn't looking so bad now: A report of serious problems with the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo Ohio doesn't exactly have me radiating with joy.
From AP: Maj. Gen. Michael Dunlavey, who oversees interrogations at Camp X-ray, said not to feel sorry for the detainees. "I would fail in my duty to the 3,000 people who were murdered on Sept. 11 and the 14,000 orphans that were created that day ... if I released one of those persons out there and somehow the next time I saw them they had an AK-47 in their hand," he said.
Everyone should note that this same illogic could be applied to anyone, anytime. You get arrested by mistake and the cops figure they'd better not let you go, since you might go commit a crime. By this logic we'll all soon be locked up--after all, most criminals are people! And could someone explain to me where the 14,000 orphans number comes from? I'd heard 10,000 before, and that was supposedly the number of children who lost one parent, not both. That still seems outrageously high, considering that the 3000 were mostly New York area residents, largely yuppie broker types, many of whom were certainly childless. For this group to have over four and a half children each on average seems impossible. And you have to lose both parents to become an orphan, unless you lost one earlier. Aren't good journalists supposed to point out factual errors in quotes that they print? Of course, that question assumes too much.
Civil libertarians have argued that the people held at Guantanamo Bay should be designated prisoners of war and accorded their rights under the Geneva Convention. The Bushies prefer the word "detainees." The accurate term is "hostages."
From the Washington Post: One incident involved a Jan. 23 raid on two suspected enemy compounds, in which U.S. troops killed 16 and captured 27 who later turned out to be neither al-Qaida nor Taliban. The 27 were later released.
"The investigation concluded that there were no systemic errors in the targeting process, mission planning or mission execution," according to a summary of the investigation released before Franks' briefing.
Since there were no systemic errors, I guess that means that the system is intended to kill civilians who are neither al-Qaida nor Taliban. I think General Franks just convicted our military of terrorism. When's the tribunal?
A British view of all the flags.
March 28, 2002
It gets more ridiculous. Secretary of Offense Rummy Rumsfeld indicated that even if he ever gets around to staging the kangaroo court tribunals for the "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay, and even if they somehow manage to be acquitted, he still won't let them go. As Congresswoman Lynn Rivers, one of only 60 house members to vote against the blatantly unconstitutional USA Patriot Act last fall, pointed out last night in an informal speech in Ann Arbor, the whole detainee business is blatantly unconstitutional. The rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the 14th amendment extend to all persons in the jurisdiction or control of the US, not just citizens. The "detainees" are entitled to due process of law and should be tried in open court as soon as possible and released immediately if acquitted. By the way, only one senator, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, was honorable enough to vote against USA Patriot. Rep. Rivers was asked last night why no one is lining up at the courthouse to challenge the constitutionality of USA Patriot like they did immediately following passage of campaign finance reform. She said that the ACLU was planning a challenge but they hadn't found an appropriate test case. Finding it is probably hindered by the secrecy surrounding all of the detentions.
Who gets help? Malaika Finkelstein points out in this article how victims of the earthquakes in Afghanistan are getting more and faster relief than are the victims of "collateral damage" from US bombing. I guess she hasn't read Tom Tomorrow's blog from yesterday about the possibility that US "bunker-busting" bombs exploded deep inside Afghani caves may have triggered the earthquakes. So maybe victims of collateral damage are getting aid, but it's all by mistake.
Sweet Home, Alabama. As an employee of the Alabama Historical Commission from 1984 to 1988, I traveled extensively throughout that state. I recall visiting Anniston, a small city in the northeast part of the state, close to Talladega. It's pretty country, with wooded hills and lots of rivers and streams. Unfortunately, some of those rivers and streams are heavily polluted with PCB's and other toxins--there has been a lot of controversy in the last few years surrounding a General Electric subsidiary plant in Anniston which has poured toxins into streams in Anniston, killing the fish and quite possibly many of the human residents of the town. (I'll see if I can find an article with the specifics of this case. Update: Here's one! And our genetically-modified friends from Monsanto are involved too!) Today I decided to see what was happening in Alabama, specifically to see if there are any rumblings of dissent about the terror wars or the attacks on our civil liberties. Before I got that far I saw the headline for today's Montgomery Advertiser: Feds to hand out 35,000 gas masks. It turns out that the Army is planning to burn some nerve gas (to destroy it) at a plant in Anniston, and they are issuing the gas masks "just to be safe." I think if I lived in Anniston I would consider moving immediately, perhaps to Mars. It seems to me that just like the gun in the drawer for security kills more family members than it does intruders, our own weapons of mass destruction pose a greater threat to Americans than anything the "axis of evil" can put together.
March 27, 2002
Campaign Finance Bill Signed. Just like the CAFE fuel-economy standards, this is a weak answer to a massive problem. At least this one passed. Hopefully it will open the door enough to get a foot in and get more meaningful legislation passed and enforced. I'm not convinced that we'll get very far as long as we have our very undemocratic two-party system. With meddling from national parties like Cheney's Minnesota shenanigans I noted a while back, we will forever be stuck with choosing between two bought-and-paid-for party hacks. I offer the last several presidential elections as evidence. I probably don't agree with Minnesota Republicans on a lot of things, but I do think they should have more of a say in who the Republican candidate for Minnesota senator is than the veep from the deep does. Turns out, their opinion doesn't count at all. Democracy in America is mostly an illusion.
The terrorists are getting what they want! In a bizarre twist, the US Air Force is moving its Persian Gulf base from Saudi Arabia to Qatar in order to pursue war against Iraq. The Saudi government opposes using Saudi bases to attack Iraq, so we're moving the show to Qatar. The presence of US forces in Saudi Arabia since GWI (Gulf War I) is generally recognized as the main reason for OBL's jihad against America. In 1990 Defense Secretary Cheney promised the Saudis that US forces wouldn't stay a minute longer than necessary. Of course, our veep from the deep has different definitions for words than most of us.
Excellent Boondocks strip today!
A European viewpoint from Tom Tomorrow's weblog.
Clearing the air. After a court decision, the EPA now says that it will start enforcing air pollution standards established in 1997. We'll see. Industry has a long history of ignoring pollution laws for as long as possible and then negotiating them away at the last minute, with little fear of any serious consequences. Let's hope that something actually happens here and we actually get cleaner air.
Thank you, Paine Webber! You can't spell "broker" without "broke" and you can't spell "Paine Webber" without "pain." PW fired a broker last summer after Enron complained to his bosses that he was recommending to his clients that they sell their Enron stock. Just in case anyone still has any doubts about who brokers really work for.
March 26, 2002
I think it was Tom Tomorrow who said it, or maybe he was quoting someone else, but you always appreciate humor when you get all the references. And I think I got all the references in Ted Rall's latest cartoon. I've been reading 1984, which points out the usefulness of perpetual war for the ruling class, and I recall Patton's quote after beating Rommel in North Africa in WWII: "Rommel, you magnificent bastard--I read your book!" So anyway, I think Rall's latest is cool. I still don't like or really get the point of his Terror Widows cartoon which attracted such wrath, but I think the current one and this one from November are right on target.
March 23, 2002
Best show ever! I just got back from Amazin' Blue's 15th Anniversary Concert, and in my humble opinion it was the best show ever done in the history of the universe! Of course, if you don't like really tight, really awesome a cappella, talented gorgeous women (or men), and shows that totally click from start to finish, you might not agree with me. Even so, if you've got a bit of the hopeless romantic in you, you would still have loved tonight's show. About three songs after the intermission, one of the guys in AB (Amazin' Blue) announced that they were going to do a song to embarrass a friend or family member from the audience (similar to what Wayne Brady does on "Whose Line Is It Anyway"). They pulled a name out of a cup, and he said it was his brother's girlfriend Saleesha. (I think that was the name--something like that.) So AB sang the Aiesha (changing it to her name) to her, making little jokes along the way. While this was going on, the AB guy whose brother is the boyfriend ran off stage and came back with a bunch of roses. All the AB members (13, I think) took a rose and handed it to Saleesha, one at a time, while they continued singing the song. The last rose was presented by the AB guy's brother as the song reached the big chorus. He then got down on his knees and proposed right on stage! I've heard about some fancy and/or romantic proposals, but I think they put the bar out of reach with that one. The audience all stood and cheered.
Sorry, I am a hopeless romantic. But I was thinking even before that happened that it was the best show I'd ever seen. Wherever you are, you have to see Amazin' Blue perform sometime. My nephew Paul was in AB back in the early 90's, and they were awesome then. I've seen many world famous orchestras, rock bands, big-time musicals in London, and lots of other shows, but I think that every AB show I've ever seen ranks ahead of all of them. They exude energy and life. One of the singers, Chelsea Krombach, is just incredible. Imagine the energy of an excited, hyper teenage girl. Now keep that energy but focus it in an incredibly talented young woman with an outrageously powerful voice who is just completely ecstatic to be singing. Then triple it, and you're getting close to Chelsea. I guess I'm a fan.
For those of you who tuned in for more cynical rants about W and the other Bushies, that Bob will return tomorrow. Tonight he's on an Amazin' Blue high.
March 21, 2002
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, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Dang--That's probably the most radical thing yet on this web site, and it's 226 years old! Do you think the Thought Police will come after me for posting it? I've been re-reading Orwell's 1984, and, as I noted a few weeks ago, it appears to be the program for the current government show. The state of eternal war (Cheney said the "War on Terrorism" might last 50 years), the frenzied hatred of a demon enemy who used to be our friend (OBL or Saddam, take your pick), the constant and growing surveillance, the restrictions on liberty, the "disappearing" of people, the repetition of meaningless or false slogans ("United We Stand"), the martial music, the Ministry of Love (Homeland Security), Ministry of Truth (Ari Fleischer), Ministry of Peace (Pentagon), and Ministry of Plenty (WTO, IMF, the Fed, etc.). One of the 1984 slogans, "Ignorance is Strength", is an accurate paraphrase of a common argument used to claim that W is a good president. If the "Bush is the right president for these times because he's not too smart" argument is believed, perhaps a hamster running around on a world map would be even better--wherever he poops, we bomb. The hamster might be even less inclined to have second thoughts, or even first thoughts, than W. And he could certainly incite a little terror just by walking over some country, especially after a good meal.
And 50 years, Dick? Since most real or imagined terrorists seem to be young men in their twenties, that means we foresee ridding the world of some people whose parents haven't been born yet. This indicates that we intend to keep pissing off the rest of the world for at least another 30 years.
Two sure things in life: death and taxes. Of course, neither one applies if you're a corporation.
March 20, 2002
Interesting discussion on Tom Tomorrow's blog regarding "chickenhawks", those being ardent militarists like Bush and Cheney who managed to avoid military service but are always willing to send others off to fight. Check out the Chickenhawk Database.
Thanks to Eva for guiding me to the Woomera (Australia) protest website, which led me to xborder, which has this interesting globalization page. It points out one of the chief fallacies in the "free trade" argument, or at least its current means of implementation. Under the current system, capital is free to go wherever it chooses, while people are not. People attempting to flee war, disease and starvation are either forbidden entry into wealthy countries or arrested and detained indefinitely. The real crime is that much of the wealth in the rich countries has come from displacing these refugees to exploit the resources in their homelands.
March 18, 2002
More Bush luna-cy. Strange connections between the Bushes, Rumsfeld, axis of evil member North Korea, and the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
Power play at EPA. Continuing its policy of systematic abandonment of all protection of the environment, the Bushies are letting polluting power companies off the hook once again. Twenty-five years after passage of the Clean Air Act and it is still mostly act and very little clean air.
It's all so wrong! W and the rest of his administration have been out campaigning for house and senate candidates, using the power of their undeserved positions to strong-arm local politics. Not only are they talking up Republican candidates, they are actually picking them! The NYT article describes how Tim Pawlenty was about to announce his intention to run in the Republican Senate primary in Minnesota when he received a phone call from Dick Cheney urging him not to run. According to the Times,
"The gist of it was that Coleman's more well known and a stronger candidate," said Mr. Pawlenty, the majority leader of the Minnesota House. "I don't take it as a bullying maneuver. It was an appeal to do what's good for the party and for the president. But the implicit suggestion was that they're going to bring the assets they have to help Coleman — and they are pretty formidable."
Mr. Pawlenty immediately pulled out and decided to run for governor.
So our shadow-government Veep from the Deep and his un-elected President sidekick, rather than the people of Minnesota, are deciding who gets to run for Senate. Not satisfied with their stolen thrones, they now intend to handpick their own politburo. I guess we have something in common with Afghanistan--these are the same people who picked their government. And of course there's a backup plan. If their boys somehow fail to get elected, Bush and Cheney will just put them in the cabinet, as they did with John Ashcroft and Spence Abraham.
March 17, 2002
Exiled King Zahir Shah, whom America intends to restore to the throne of Afghanistan, said the U.S.-led war in his nation was "stupid and useless" and should be called off. From Eric Margolis in the Toronto Sun. Good thing there are other countries or we'd never find out what's going on, and not just in the Olympics. I didn't see a thing about this in the Times or the Post, and I'm betting that Tom, Dan, Peter and Paula forgot to mention it as well.
Is the bulletin board at your workplace littered with motivational, seven-habits type crap? Check out despair.com. Sort of Dilbert for posters.
Paul Krugman's March 15 opinion piece in the New York Times says that the main reason for the Administration's push to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is simply to piss off environmentalists for the pleasure of right-wing morons like Rush Limbaugh and Trent Lott. From a purely business perspective, drilling ANWR isn't very attractive to big oil. Of course, big oil has never operated from a purely business perspective. As with all big corporations, their best investments have always been in buying sleazy politicians like Lott, Cheney and Bush. When the government does what you want, any fool project can become profitable, like Occidental's pipeline in Colombia. Pay off the politicians, and the world's largest military becomes your insurance policy. You also get propaganda telling Americans that SUV driving is a constitutional right and that environmentalism is downright un-American. Unfortunately, most Americans are buying this crap because they get to feel good about themselves without changing anything. The true axis of evil is right here in the USA in the government and the corporations.
Welcome to Bushistan: Why don't Americans care? For me the initial reaction to September 11--"either with us or with the terrorists"; "no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them"; attacking Afghanistan when no Afghans were involved in the attacks--was enough to convince me that the whole approach was wrong and probably being done for purposes far removed from the stated goal of preventing further terror attacks. But I can see how some people could be at least partially swayed by the massive death and destruction of 9/11 and W's arguments for the necessity of retribution. Since then, however, there have been numerous additional reasons to question the Bush approach: the killing of Afghan civilians; the brutal treatment of "detainees"; the expansion of the war into every nook and cranny of the world; the USA Patriot Act and other restrictions on civil liberties; the apparent escape of OBL; the increasing violence in Israel/Palestine and between India and Pakistan; Enron; the shadow government; and the secret nuclear plan. Any one of these should be enough to be a major scandal seriously eroding confidence in the president; taken together they are overwhelming grounds for impeachment. But most Americans seem willing not to think about it, to put flags on their vehicles and sing God Bless America while their president leads them into World War III. The carnage in Afghanistan has already greatly exceeded that of September 11, and if the Bushies have their way the coming death tolls in Iraq and elsewhere will dwarf 9/11. It is remotely possible that the US military can defeat the whole world, but millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of others will die in the effort, and what little of the world survives will not be a pleasant place in which to live. But the American public can't seem to get as upset about this as they did about the tawdry affairs of our previous president. Welcome to Bushistan, the world's biggest, baddest banana republic ever!
No defense against missile defense: Plenty of evidence that Star Wars won't work, but the missile defense system goes forward.
March 14, 2002
Happy Birthday to brother Jim in California! I hear he is having a flantastic birthday dinner!
Fox got its highest ratings of the year for the "Celebrity Boxing" show, with the marquee matchup being Tonya Harding versus Paula Jones. I didn't watch it--even I have some standards! The producer was excited because he thinks the success of the show will encourage other notorious celebrities to participate in the next show. I've got some suggestions! How about Ken Starr versus Bill Clinton? Monica Lewinsky versus Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton? O.J. Simpson versus Homer Simpson? Jamie Sale versus the French Judge (which would be a great name for a WWF wrestler)? George H. W. Bush versus Saddam Hussein? Dick Cheney versus Osama bin Laden? Sharon versus Arafat? Margaret Thatcher versus Nancy Reagan?
Two of the September 11 suicide pilots, Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, were just approved for student visas so they could take flying lessons. Some headlines I expect to see soon: "McVeigh Explosives Permit Issued"; "OJ, Nicole Get Marriage License"; "Columbine Shooters Graduate"; "Oswald Gets Firearms Permit"; "John Wilkes Booth Gets Season Pass To Ford's Theater"; "Judas wins 'Best Disciple in a Supporting Role' award". I guess our Homeland Security Forces ("Ministry of Love") are too busy arresting Arabs at random to bother to check government records.
It occurred to me that the massive suburban sprawl in this country compares, in a slightly less violent way, to the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Since the energy crisis of the 1970's, there has been massive development across the country which is totally automobile-dependent. This has created a huge constituency to support the destruction of the environment and the wars fought in pursuit of cheap oil. Just as any Israeli politician who suggests withdrawal for the occupied territories faces the anger of hundreds of thousands of settlers, so too does any American politician who supports lessening our dependence on oil face the wrath of millions of suburban SUV drivers.
March 13, 2002
Drivers are so rude! Ann Arbor is supposedly a liberal, bike-friendly community, but it isn't. If I ride my bike in the street, which I have every legal right to do, people honk and yell at me. If I ride on the sidewalk as they sometimes suggest, they ignore me entirely, never yielding the right-of-way at driveways and cross streets. I'm constantly torn between the safer but more confrontational approach of always riding in the street and the why-can't-we-all-just-get-along, but highly dangerous, approach of riding on the sidewalk. Drivers should realize that cyclists help keep their gas prices low, don't steal their parking places, don't release greenhouse gasses, and do reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Interesting article and discussion about vegetarianism and veganism in today's Washington Post.
Both of these topics demonstrate, in my biased view anyway, that the majority is frequently wrong (the 2000 presidential election being an exception). I look forward to the day when people feel guiltily compelled to explain every car trip they make and every burger they eat, eventually deciding that neither is worth the hassle. Unfortunately, this is what happens today with too many cyclists and vegetarians, even though they want to protect the environment and to prevent cruelty to animals.
March 12, 2002
(From http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/12/international/12PREX.html) "Terrorist groups are hungry for these weapons, and would use them without a hint of conscience," Mr. Bush said. The US has these weapons, and appears willing to use them. And if anyone can see a hint of conscience in Bush or Rumsfeld, he's got better eyes than I do.
Bush continues (in the same article): "We face an enemy of ruthless ambition, unconstrained by law or morality," he said. "The terrorists despise other religions and have defiled their own. And they are determined to expand the scale and scope of their murder." Like so much of what Bush says, this reflects so easily back onto him and his administration. It could practically be a transcript of one of those OBL videos.
March 11, 2002
Where does an 800-pound gorilla sleep? Anywhere it wants. The US is the 800-pound gorilla in the world today, and Bush and his controllers believe that this gives them the right to do pretty much anything. A secret Pentagon document leaked yesterday indicates that the Pentagon has plans for using nuclear weapons in a much broader context than was considered before and against targets including China, Russia, Syria and Libya in addition to Bush's "axis of evil." Uproar in the British parliament threatened to upset Tony's Blair Bush Project.
Common Dreams has two good articles related to the true meaning of the "War on Terrorism:" War on Terror Masks Bush's Grand Strategy and Bush's Nuclear Madness. America is powerful enough to take on the world. It may be powerful enough to defeat the world. But in doing so lots of people, including lots of Americans, will die, and when we are done, we won't be America anymore. Everyone reading this needs to contact members of congress to encourage them to take a stand against the war, against the USA Patriot Act, against the energy plan, and against the Bush administration in general (General Powell, General Franks, General Dynamics, General Electric, etc.).
I finished reading John Robbins' book The Food Revolution yesterday. Looking for some gentle reinforcement for my recent switch to vegetarianism, I got that and a whole lot more. Particularly troubling was the lengthy discussion of genetically modified organisms (GMO's), such as Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" soybeans. These plants have been genetically modified to be able to survive massive sprayings of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, enabling farmers to clear their fields of weeds without killing the crop. The problems with this are many, including the fact that much of the soybean crop is now, in fact, sprayed with massive amounts of Roundup. There is also the possibility that the Roundup-resistant trait will be passed to weeds, thus compounding the problem. Since most of the soybeans grown in this country are fed to livestock, anyone eating meat is almost certain to ingest large quantities of GMO material. Even vegetarians have to seek out organic tofu and soymilk to avoid the man-made plague of GMO's. To paraphrase Nancy Reagan: Just say no to GMO's, and buy organic!
March 9, 2002
March 8, 2002
More media consolidation. I wanted to see how MSU was doing in the Big Ten basketball tournament today, so I went to espn.com. To my surprise, ESPN now comes under the heading of MSN, the Microsoft Network. If you go to MSN and click on news, it takes you to MSNBC, which is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC. The problem (well one of the problems) is that Disney owns ESPN (and ABC and the minds of millions of children of all ages), while General Electric owns NBC. So basically two of our five media conglomerates (the other three are News Corp. (Fox), Viacom (CBS), and AOL Time Warner (CNN)) are being tied together by Microsoft. Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one (AJ Liebling), and soon that will be just one company.
"Since the beginning of September, more than four times as many Americans
have fallen to guns as to terrorism"--Nicholas D. Kristof's Op-Ed piece in
the New York Times. Guns turn arguments into murders, depression into suicide.
Unfortunately, a lot of Americans think they can stop planes from crashing into
buildings with handguns, which they are buying in record numbers since September
11. Just as the Bushies are abandoning the wrong international treaties (ABM,
Kyoto instead of NAFTA and WTO), they are destroying the wrong amendments in the
Bill of Rights (basically all of them except number
Orwell's 1984 was meant as a warning, not a how-to book! Ashcroft's recruiting of Neighborhood Watch is one more step in turning neighbor on neighbor and destroying what's left of our civil liberties after the USA Patriot act. The "Misery from Missouri" AG tops my personal "Axis of Evil" list.
March 6, 2002
Focusing on the wrong Tyson. There's an article in today's Washington Post about a controversy involving Tyson. Unfortunately it involves Mike Tyson, a small-time scumbag who competes in a brutal sport which makes figure skating look like a model of objectivity and fairness. This Tyson has done some major damage to several individuals, including the woman he raped and Evander Holyfield, who had a piece of his ear bitten off by this Tyson. Undoubtedly there are many more that I could find if I bothered to research this further, and others that would go undiscovered. But as far as brutality and damaging people's lives is concerned, Mike Tyson is truly small-time compared to the other Tyson, Tyson Foods, Inc. They slaughter millions of animals (chickens, cattle, pigs) daily in bloody slaughterhouses staffed by overworked, underpaid, frequently illegal-immigrant workers, many of whom are injured daily, some severely. The products produced are usually riddled with antibiotics and other chemicals, and frequently infected with salmonella and other potentially fatal bacteria. Even the "clean" meat contributes to obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease in the people who eat it. Tyson's near-monopoly on large portions of the meat industry allows them to squeeze ranchers and chicken farmers to subsistence levels, and the waste from the feed lots is poisoning many of America's rivers. I guess it says a lot about our country's priorities that the small-time black thug gets all of the negative press, while the huge corporate thug hardly gets any attention. Read Fast Food Nation and/or Beyond Beef for more about Tyson (noting that Tyson bought IBP (Iowa Beef Packers) last year).
Good movie! Last night I watched Life and Debt at the Michigan Theater. The movie documents the negative effects that "free trade" and the International Monetary Fund have had on Jamaica. Having gained its independence from colonial (British) rule in 1962, Jamaica struggled with some success to become more self-sufficient. Harsh loan terms from the IMF and the flooding of the market with cheap imports have destroyed much of the local Jamaican agriculture and industry and returned it to a colonial condition, except this time it is corporate colonialism. As Roger Ebert says in his review, referring to the WTO protestors in Seattle and elsewhere, "If you're curious about why the demonstrators are so angry, this is why they're so angry." I was in Jamaica eleven years ago, and my feeling was that the rest of the world would be a better place if it was more like Jamaica. Unfortunately, the IMF and "free trade" have been forcing Jamaica to be too much like the rest of the world.
I'm hoping the Bush's recent decision to impose tariffs on imported steel will help to expose "free trade" for the hypocrisy and greed that it is. There is a place for markets, but preventing countries like Jamaica from closing their markets to imported subsidized milk from the US, destroying the local dairy industry, and forcing their banana growers to compete with Chiquita bananas subsidized by near-slave labor in Latin America isn't "free," it's criminal.
March 5, 2002
Additional hazard due to fossil fuels (good for a laugh).
All Aboard Amtrak! Planes, trains, and automobiles. Which is most efficient? The one the government refuses to subsidize. The one which might actually be able to make a profit on its own if the other two were not so massively subsidized. This article points out the lunacy of our government continuing to support highway and airport construction while forcing Amtrak to fend for itself.
Excellent website: http://www.counterpunch.com/. Be sure to read the article "Why the War on Terror Won't Work."
March 4, 2002
From the New York Times:
At least somebody is pleased with all of this death and destruction.
From a Washington Post Editorial: Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill recently testified that cutting global trade barriers by one-third would be "equivalent to a tax cut of $2,500 per year for the typical American family." What SECTREAS doesn't say is that the $2500 is the difference between the taxes you have to pay if you have a good job compared to those you have to pay if you have a Wal-mart job. That is the general effect of "free trade" on American workers. What it does overseas is much worse. W could quickly make up much of the damage caused by abandoning international accords like Kyoto and ABM by also abandoning NAFTA, GATT, and WTO.
March 3, 2002
Speaking out against Bush: Mary McGrory writes in the Washington Post about Nevada Senator Harry Reid taking on W in a face-to-face over the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, one of the hundreds of appalling actions that the Bushies are trying to sneak under what little press radar remains. The opinion article goes on to summarize many of the other crimes being committed in the "War on Terrorism."
March 2, 2002
Aaaaargh! Read this article, if you dare, about the provision of the USA Patriot Act which allows the feds to find out what you are reading from bookstores and libraries. We are in real trouble, and if we don't get congress to immediately stand up (out of their current bent-over position) and try to regain control of the country it may be too late. We certainly can't count on the Supreme Court to do anything about the unconstitutionality of the whole thing--they're largely responsible because of their behavior in deciding the 2000 election. I'm glad to see that Daschle is finally getting mad, although he still prefaces everything he says with the usual platitudes about supporting the president.
And what about this shadow government business? As if our government weren't shady enough as it is. But even congress didn't know about it! The government of the people, by the people and for the people is perishing rapidly right now. This is the stuff of fiction, like Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, but unfortunately it's real. A small group of people is attempting to overthrow our democratic form of government from within by deceiving most of us and intimidating the rest.
There is renewed fighting in Afghanistan, the violence between Israels and Palestinians keeps increasing, hundreds are dying in religious violence in India, and US troops are setting up shop in the Philippines, Georgia, and Yemen. Somebody please tell me something to cheer me up!
I've updated most of the other pages on my web site. Check it out!
March 1, 2002
Soldiers, soldiers everywhere, and not a stop to think. It's becoming an almost daily occurrence--an announcement that US forces are heading for another country. It's good to know we'll be helping to arm and train troops in Yemen; next time they attack a US destroyer that won't have to resort to tacky rubber boats. If we would stop arming all of our friends du jour, maybe they wouldn't be so well armed when we turn against them. In this case it appears that W has used some "with us or against us" extortion: do you Yemenis want to be Pakistan, or would you rather be Afghanistan? I'm sure they would rather be Switzerland, but we're not giving them that choice.
February 28, 2002
Sprawl Rant--Because we are getting older. I'm a long-time anti-sprawl person. I like cities, I like country, but I despise suburbs. The huge number of roads built, miles driven, lawns mowed, and trees, fields, marshes and other natural habitats destroyed by the suburbanization of America is appalling. I have lots of reasons for feeling this way, but one that I don't hear discussed much is how brutal this landscape is going to be to all of us baby boomers as we become senior citizens. Most seniors struggle with declining abilities in vision, hearing, reaction times and memory, all of which make driving more difficult and dangerous. Combining this with the ever-increasing traffic caused in large part by the sprawl, it will be almost suicidal for many of us to attempt to drive when we are in our seventies and above. Unfortunately, sprawl has had the effect of moving basic services such as groceries and drug stores farther from our homes and has practically eliminated public transportation as an option. In many of the newer "estate" subdivisions, even walking next door to visit a neighbor will seem like an impossible task. Even healthy seniors with their houses paid for and adequate finances will have to consider leaving their houses and moving to retirement communities. What a shame that most new "neighborhoods" in America are built without considering that people get old.
February 27, 2002
Arrogance! While the US is justifiably demanding justice in the case of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, Rumsfeld refuses to investigate the killing of Afghan civilians by US forces. A good Washington Post editorial.
Georgia on my mind--US equipment and advisors are going to the former Soviet republic of Georgia to help fight against Chechyn rebels with supposed al Qaeda ties. While I don't think Afghanistan is in any way a success, I guess it could be argued that it is not quite as bad a quagmire as many, including me, feared. Not to be deterred, the Bush administration continues to expand the "War on Terrorism" in search of a true quagmire. It seems so bizarre that for years the US, led by Reagan and Bush I, was willing to support any group of loonies such as the Contras or the Mujahadeen who claimed to be fighting the Russians. Now we are helping the Russians put down rebels in Chechnya. Many marveled at the ease with which Afghan warlords changed sides during the overthrow of the Taliban. I'd say they've got nothing on us!
All locked up and no place to go. Ann Arbor Islamic leader Rabih Haddad is still being held without charges more than two months after being arrested. Bush and Ashcroft both lost their elections in 2000. What gives them the right to do crap like this? (Not that a legitimate victory by a large majority would make it any less wrong. The constitution was designed in part to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. The USA Patriot Act was designed to repeal the constitution.)
February 26, 2002
No nukes is good nukes. W is getting the nuclear arms race going again in a big way. No medals to be awarded in this event.
Congress opposes Bush's war plans! (Well 1/535th of congress does, anyway). Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich speaks out against the plans for indefinite war both abroad and at home.
POST-OLYMPIC THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "I am
always amazed when I hear people saying that sport creates goodwill between
nations, and that if only the common peoples of the world could meet one another
at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on the
battlefield. Even if they didn't know from concrete examples (the 1936 Olympics,
for instance) that international sporting contests lead to orgies of hatred, one
could deduce it from general principles. . . . At the international level sport
is frankly mimic warfare." - George Orwell, "The Sporting Spirit" (14 December
1945) -- from http://www.andrewsullivan.com/.
February 25, 2002
The real rogue state. Weapons of mass destruction, disregard of international law, attacks on civilians...
Pentagon May Eliminate New Office of Influence: This article sounds like one of OSI's finest efforts! I think they are lying about not lying, and that's the truth!
Sorry, I don't think I can remain civil in commenting on this article. So I won't comment.
While reading this article about Missouri's intention to go ahead with the execution of a death-row inmate even though all witnesses against him have recanted their testimony, I found Missouri Governor Bob Holden's online e-mail form. Under "Subject" there are three choices: Legislative Affairs, Executions, and Other. Do you think maybe Missouri is killing a few too many of its citizens when "Executions" is one of the main subjects of the governor's e-mail? I sent him a note, even though he probably has all "Execution" messages marked as junk mail.
Is the San Francisco Chronicle reading my rants, or am I just ahead of the curve? This February 24 article echoes my February 20 comments (below).
February 22, 2002
Finally getting on Sharon's case--a Washington Post Editorial. It mentions something I had wondered about--how is Arafat supposed to round up terrorists when the Israelis keep killing his cops?
February 21, 2002
From the New York Times Letters to the Editor--
To the Editor:
How refreshingly open and honest for the Pentagon to reveal, in advance,
that it is developing plans to disseminate false news items to foreign media
organizations ("Pentagon Readies Efforts to Sway Sentiment Abroad," front page,
Feb. 19). Unless, of course, that news is itself false, in which case the
government might instead be planning to spread the truth covertly. Perish the
GARY A. ALEXION
Brooklyn, Feb. 20, 2002
February 20, 2002
From the New York Times: "Let me explain why I made the comments I did," Mr. Bush said in a joint news conference with Mr. Kim. The president said he spoke out because he believed in freedom and was "troubled by a regime that tolerated starvation.
"I worry about a regime that is closed and not transparent," he added. "I'm deeply concerned about the people of North Korea." -- I guess we can now expect the Veep from the Deep to tell us who wrote his energy plan: we can't have a regime that is closed and not transparent! And if toleration of starvation is an "axis of evil" criterion, then the membership is a lot bigger, and probably doesn't include Iran.
W continues: The word "evil" resurfaced again before the speech on a tour of the DMZ, where Mr. Bush reacted in disgust when he learned that axes used to kill two American servicemen were in a museum across the border to the north. "No wonder I think they're evil," he said. I wonder if he is aware that the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, was on display from 1995 until 1998 at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington and will be again starting in 2003. And how about the thousands of planes, tanks, cannons and other weaponry on display at museums, military bases and armories throughout the US? Certainly some of these weapons killed people, most likely including American servicemen through friendly fire incidents. No wonder they think we're evil. I'm not saying that I have a problem with these museum displays, just that W is the Olympic Champion stone thrower in the glass house competition.
February 19, 2002
More media consolidation, less freedom of the press. A court ruling allows cable operators to own local TV stations. Of the zillion scary things about the corporate control of everything, control of the media is perhaps the scariest. I don't trust Fox, CBS (Viacom), NBC (GE), CNN (AOL Time Warner) or ABC (Disney) to give us the straight story on everything. Once they own all of the cable networks, TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, web sites, publishers and studios, there will be no way to find out what is going on. And they are already very close. The more I read about NAFTA, GATT, WTO and other "free trade" agreements, the madder I get at how the mainstream media allowed these things to happen without turning them in to massive scandals leading to impeachments and indictments. The trade agreements probably head the list of the many real scandals of the past 30 years, followed by the various "demon" wars (against Noriega, the Sandinistas, Iraq, al Qaeda, etc.), the Savings and Loan debacle, the 2000 election, and probably four or five others we'll never hear about. Compared to these Watergate, Whitewater, Monicagate, Chandragate and the other sleazy little scandals don't even rank. But the media (I was going to say "state-run media", but I think "media-run state" is more accurate) either ignores or completely distorts the big scandals while spending months on the sleaze. With these huge corporations owning the content source and all of the distribution methods, what chance do we have? If you are willing to dig on the Internet or in the library you can still learn something, but the corporations and the Bush administration are already making threatening noises about these outlets. Learn all you can and encourage others to do the same; hopefully it's not too late for people to retake control of our society.
Australian press restrictions make even US access seem good. An Australian reporter attempting to cover the combat death of an Australian soldier is denied access.
Attacks on trucks and cars in Afghanistan.
Clueless Involvement in Philippines (New York Times opinion piece)
February 18, 2002
Almost any blame game seems plausible
when it comes to Enron these days. Take the Internet sendup of those Sprint PCS
ads that blame “bad cellular” for laughable miscommunications: here’s the Enron
version. “The Arthur Andersen partner said, ‘Ship the Enron documents to the
Feds,’ but the secretary heard, ‘Rip the Enron documents to shreds’.” Yes, it’s
a joke. But not everyone is laughing.
Bad Farm Bill
It's difficult, too, to talk about Enron without using the word "innovative." -- From Enron's web site. I think there are a lot of other words that come to mind these days.
Let's go cold turkey on imported oil! (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/18/opinion/_18MON1.html) Let's have a complete boycott of all foreign oil and new domestic sources (i.e. ANWR). Think of the boost to the economy as Americans scramble to develop mass transit, solar energy, and other technologies needed to convert the US to sustainability! (Shhhh...don't wake me up! This is a pleasant dream.)
Big Brother is watching you. Maybe most Americans don't see the need for some spirited opposition to corporate government policies, but when they finally do, they won't have a chance.
East Timor: The model for the expanded "War on Terrorism?"
The Two Enron System. Heading the Republican Party: Former Enron lobbyist Marc Racicot. For the Democrats: Former Global Crossing consultant Terry McAuliffe. Just further proof that the two-party system is bankrupt.
They don't even listen to themselves! Two examples of TV stupidity:
February 15, 2002
Check out Common Dreams' Top Ten Post-9/11 Essays. Especially scary is the part in Bill Moyers' article about what would have happened if planes had hit a nuclear power plant instead of the World Trade Center.
Playing God (a Boblical essay)
There are three well-known stories in the bible where God tests people with excruciating moral dilemmas. In Genesis 22:1 to 12, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham follows the instructions until he is about to bring down the sword on Isaac, when an angel of God stops him. In First Kings 3:16 to 28, two women argue over a child before King Solomon. Solomon orders the child cut in half. One says "sounds fair to me" (or words to that effect) while the other woman says "don't kill him! Let her have him!" Whereupon Solomon gives the child to the second woman, discerning that she is the true mother. The third is the book of Job, where God allows Satan to test Job by taking away his wealth, his family, and his health, but Job remains faithful to God.
Now I'm not one to question God, but I can't say that I "like" these passages. Moral dilemmas big and small occur all of the time to everyone; most of us just ignore most of them because giving them our full attention is quickly incapacitating. But I think that an appropriate corollary to the "Golden Rule" (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) should be that one should not burden others with moral dilemmas, particularly combined with threats of violence to them or their families. I don't want to be forced to choose between whether I will die or someone else will die; therefore I think it very wrong that I should force the same choice on someone else. Forcing people to make such decisions is a key factor in repressive regimes such as the Spanish Inquisition, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union under Stalin. "Either squeal on your neighbor or you will be next!" is the common threat.
Much of the rhetoric coming from the Bush administration since September 11 has been along these lines. "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." What if you oppose violence? What choice do you have? And Bush's threat to other countries is that if they don't eliminate "terrorists" in their country, we will, and probably overthrow the government as well. "Kill some of your own people or we will kill them and you" is the implication. "Just look at what we did in Afghanistan! That could be you!" And some of the rhetoric, especially from Ashcroft, has started to turn on Americans who are exercising their constitutional right of dissent to oppose the "War on Terrorism."
God can do what he wants. He is God. George W. Bush is not.
February 14, 2002
Happy Valentines Day! House passes campaign finance reform! Let's hope that Speaker of the House Hastert was right and this is Armageddon for Republicans.
February 13, 2002
Disney doesn't like Adbusters' corporate American flag. Too bad!
Workin' on the Cheney Gang: NYT columnist Maureen Dowd takes on the Veep from the Deep.
"Whenever there's a Bush in the White House, many people die, and the rest of us are threatened." -- punk rocker Jello Biafra from an interview in Progressive Magazine.
Be sure to check out Tom Tomorrow's rant of the day.
Speak now or forever mourn for peace: Bush Blunder Shows It's Time for Dissent . W barely lost the election even with the support of criminals like Enron. He didn't deserve to be president, he wasn't a good president before September 11, and he's been even worse since. Let your congresspersons know that you support their opposition to further war, the military and "homeland security" buildup, the Bush energy plan. It is not unpatriotic to speak out against a stupid and dangerous president. Let's roll back!
Bob's take on the Olympic Skating Controversy: The Russians were great. The Canadians were great. They all got medals, and they've gotten way more attention (and probably endorsements) because of the controversy. The decision was still way more valid than the 2000 US Presidential election. Just like the Oscars compound the tragedy of horrible films like Gladiator and Lord of the Rings (my personal opinion), judged awards in general do more harm than good. Let the audience and the critics decide who is the best, or just let everyone enjoy the spectacle of fine, graceful athletes performing.
Progressive Magazine's "McCarthyism Watch".
February 12, 2002
Teddy Roosevelt on "Standing United" (from Doonesbury)
Bush Administration Using Enron-Like Tactics in "War on Terrorism"
Iranian plane crash--Anyone know where the Vincennes is? (http://www.le.ac.uk/press/press/airdisaster.html)
February 4, 2002
Efforts are already underway to sink campaign finance reform, and it hasn't passed yet! The system of "one-dollar one-vote" needs to be tossed out the window along with any politician who supports it! In 2000, the field was reduced to Bush vs. Gore before most people had a chance to vote in any primary, and the reason was that W and Al had the money and the other candidates did not.
Enron in India: "Free trade" in action.
Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates warned that the terms of international trade were too favorable to the rich world, a disparity that feeds resentment. ``People who feel the world is tilted against them will spawn the kind of hatred that is very dangerous for all of us,'' Gates said. ``I think it's a healthy sign that there are demonstrators in the streets. They are raising the question of 'is the rich world giving back enough?'''--from http://18.104.22.168/cgi-bin/linkrd?_lang=EN&lah=c6490aeb579a87ce8c3e5389dbc6f8c3&lat=1012965216&hm___action=http%3a%2f%2fwww%2ecommondreams%2eorg%2fheadlines02%2f0204%2d03%2ehtm
February 3, 2002
Bin Laden speaks
From that Al Jazeera interview CNN has been airing:
"I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S.
government will lead the American people and the West in general into an
unbearable hell and a choking life." Can it be spelled out any more clearly?
This isn't just about bringing down skyscrapers and murdering civilians and
wreaking havoc and discord--it's about setting into motion a chain of events
through which we end up doing irreperable damage to ourselves, to that
part of our society which can only be destroyed from within, to the very ideals
which define us.
The trap lies in wait before us, open and beckoning. And I have seen little evidence so far that we are wise enough to avoid it.