George Orwell Bush says that an attack on the US by Iraq could cripple the economy. Are there still people out there who believe this clown? A country 6000 miles away, that the US beat decisively in a conflict twelve years ago destroying much of its military might, and which has been further crippled by years of sanctions, inspections and bombings, poses a threat to the country with the world's largest military by far, protected by two giant oceans? George W. Bush is the biggest threat to the US economy and world peace.

 
"Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a number out of my hat!"
"Again?"
"Oooh: $50 to $60 billion for a war in Iraq!"
"Gee, Mr. Daniels, Mr. Lindsey said it would cost a lot more!"
"That's why Mr. Lindsey doesn't hang his hat here anymore, Rocky."
(http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/31/politics/31BUDG.html)

 
Rangel calls for draft: Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) writes in the NY Times today that Congress should reinstate the military draft. He says that neither the administration nor Congress would be in such a rush to go to war if their own children were likely to be involved (he says that there are only a few officers and one enlisted soldier currently in the armed forces who are children of members of Congress). Rangel is a dove who voted against the Iraq war resolution in October, so this is clearly a ploy to get the public more involved in opposing the war. I hope that it at least makes George W. Bush think about the prospect of having his twin daughters go through bootcamp: he wouldn't get any sleep at all! ("But Daddy, that awful man made me do pushups! (Sob.) And not only do I have to wear these horrible boots, I have to shine them! Do something, Daddy!") Six months stationed in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait might open their eyes a bit, too.

However, it's a high-stakes game. I'm guessing that the Bushies will downplay it, saying that "our all-volunteer military does a wonderful job and is quite capable of dealing with all of the challenges facing it." They might embrace it, though, thanking (i.e. blaming) the Democrats for introducing the idea, seeing it as a way to accelerate their plans for global empire. This would then put other Democrats in the awkward position that Rangel is trying to put Bush and the other Republicans in: seeming to be protecting their own children from military service by opposing the draft.

At this point, things are getting bad so quickly that this is probably a useful strategy: Rangel's bill will be hard to ignore, and if things go well it will mobilize a large portion of the country that has been either silent or stupidly flag-waving to this point.



 
Too little, too late? The Washington Post ran an article yesterday describing the major role that the US, under the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations, played in the buildup of the Iraqi military and its development and use of chemical and biological weapons. It mentions Donald Rumsfeld's key meeting with Saddam Hussein in 1983, offering him US support even though it was known at the time that Iraq was using chemical weapons. It also mentions something rarely covered in the US media, that the Kurds gassed in northern Iraq in 1988 were probably collaborating with Iran. So while not justifying the gassing, it makes the "gassed his own people" claim dubious at best. The article describes how the US government allowed and even encouraged the sale of chemical, biological and "dual-use technology" (items that could be used in a nuclear program) by US firms. It even dares mention the infamous meeting of US ambassador at the the time April Glaspie with Saddam in July of 1990:

When the then-U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, April Glaspie, met with Hussein on July 25, 1990, a week before the Iraqi attack on Kuwait, she assured him that Bush "wanted better and deeper relations," according to an Iraqi transcript of the conversation. "President Bush is an intelligent man," the ambassador told Hussein, referring to the father of the current president. "He is not going to declare an economic war against Iraq."

Unfortunately, the article refrains from mentioning the so-called "green light" that Glaspie gave Saddam when she stated that the US had no opinion on the Iraq-Kuwait dispute. While Saddam did not tell her that he was planning on invading Kuwait a week later, he certainly must have been surprised at the vehement "worse than Hitler" response from someone who had "no opinion" and who "wanted better and deeper relations." Unless, of course, as many in the Middle East believe, Saddam has been a US agent all along, providing a ready excuse for the ever-increasing military presence in the region. Saddam has stayed alive and in power, either with US help or due to US reluctance (or whatever it was that stopped Desert Storm from storming Baghdad in 1991), while the Iraqi people pay again and again and again: war with Iran, Gulf War, sanctions, no-fly zone bombings, Desert Fox, and now, probably, Gulf War II.

I don't know what the truth is, but I am quite sure that what the Bushies are telling us is lies, just as it was in 1990. Saddam is not a threat to the US: he's a convenient ongoing excuse.



 
Sending the troops in: While Iraq continues to jump through every hoop that Bush throws in its path, the buildup of forces continues. Even if, as I sincerely hope, they don't see combat, the expense of just sending them there is enormous. Meanwhile, back home, the states are facing massive budget deficits which will cause cutbacks in schools, hospitals, welfare, roads...you name it. George W. Bush should be impeached for flagrant dereliction of duty: worst president ever, leaving his wimpy daddy in the dust.

 
Bin Laden, Shmin Laden: This is what the Afghan war was all about: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan on Friday signed a framework agreement for a $ 3.2 billion gas pipeline project passing through the three countries. What an amazing coincidence that the Bonn conference of a year ago picked Hamid Karzai to be Afghanistan's president, and Karzai made this pipeline a priority, well ahead of establishing any sort of control over Afghanistan. Thanks again to Polizeros for the link.

 
If it ain't broke...Huey recycles last year's predictions for the new year in Boondocks.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

 
Gag! I just saw an ad on TV for Bowflex (a home gym device), with two US Army soldiers, apparently active, doing the pitch. They say something like "We needed to stay in top physical and mental shape in Afghanistan, so we took the Bowflex with us." There is a huge American flag in the background, and martial drums going throughout. Maybe some pilots can do ads for speed next.

 
We've got convicted felons who didn't do the time in high-ranking posts in our government (John Negroponte, Elliot Abrams, John Poindexter), but other convicts who have served their time aren't allowed to even visit their mothers! Fourteen years in jail is not enough punishment for this kinder, gentler nation of compassionate conservatives. Ex-cons can't live in public housing, can't hold certain jobs, and aren't allowed even to vote in many states. Most grew up in rough neighborhoods, did something stupid when they were teens (or got framed), somehow survived several years in America's brutal prison system which is a giant training camp for crime, and when they get out they are third-class citizens with very few rights. What a recipe for failure!

 
Air Force bombs house in Texas: Just a friendly reminder that no one is safe.

 
Jobless benefits end for 820,000: Compassionate conservatism at work; actually, laid off.

 
Yemeni man set free in Michigan:
U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Pepe said prosecutors didn't prove Mohamed Alajji willfully intended to defraud the government when he applied for multiple Social Security cards. Although Alajji faced possible fraud charges, the government's true reason for having him detained was that it believed he was a terrorist threat.The ruling came after a six-hour preliminary exam to determine whether the government had probable cause to charge Alajji. Pepe ordered Alajji's immediate release.
Maybe there's still hope for justice in this country.


Friday, December 27, 2002

 
Stop the presses: I agree with President Bush!
President Bush is "deeply" troubled by efforts to clone human beings and wants Congress to ban the practice, the White House said Friday after a French scientist claimed her company had produced the first clone. (CNN)

I don't know about you, but I get awful chills when I see the words "Bush" and "clone" in the same sentence. Brrrrrrr!


 
Go to class, or go to jail: The INS has arrested several Middle Eastern college students in Colorado for not enrolling in a minimum of twelve hours of classes.

 
Proof? We don't need no stinkin' proof! Ted Rall points out that 15 months after 9/11, the Bush administration hasn't provided any proof that Osama, al Qaeda and the Taliban were actually behind the attacks, even though Colin Powell and Condi Rice promised us evidence. Rall says there are three logical explanations:

Al Qaeda and the Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11. Possible, but unlikely. Who else would have done it?

What with the war and all, the Bushies simply forgot to write up a report. Impossible. If proof existed, the Administration would have released it to make people like me shut up.

The evidence is circumstantial at best. Now we're talking. More likely than not, American intelligence strongly suspects bin Laden et al. but can't prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

As a matter of fact, FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted in a speech last April that he has no evidence: "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."

So, as Rall points out, we've killed 3500 civilians and 10,000 Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan without any evidence. And it's on to Iraq, based on allegations of a crime, possession of weapons of mass destruction, of which the US is the world's leading violator. And we are given no evidence that Iraq is not obeying the UN resolutions, outside of Rumsfeld's "obviously they aren't."


Thursday, December 26, 2002

 
Are Americans really this stupid? George W. Bush was named their "most-admired man" by 28% of Americans in a CNN poll, far more than any other (Jimmy Carter was second with 9%).

Just a brief reminder about how W got where he is, on the off chance that one among those 28% might be reading this blog (chances are, they read nothing at all). I've been meaning to make a cartoon out of this, but I'm not really much of a cartoonist. So I'll just make it a little dialogue between the wealthy corporate powers-that-be and our thought-challenged president:

(1986)
Harken Execs: Well, Mr. Bush, your little Spectrum Oil Company has had some rough times lately. How 'bout we buy it out for much more than it's worth and give you a place on the Harken board? It pays really well, and you don't have to do anything.

W: Cool!

Harken Execs: Oh, and say "Hi" to your father the Vice-President for us, won't you?

(1990)
Harken Execs: Well, George, we all know Harken stock is going in the tank in a few months, but because we like you so much, we've arranged a secret buyer for your stock so you can cash in now while the price is still high. Go buy a baseball team or something, and say "Hi" to your dad in the White House, okay?

W: Excellent!

(1997)
Co-owners of the Texas Rangers: You know, Governor Bush, we've been glad to have you on our team as we've grabbed private land at taxpayer expense to build this fancy new ballpark. Never mind that the Rangers never win anything: your work is done here. Here's your ownership share in the Rangers back, and an extra twelve million for being such a swell guy. Don't forget about us back at the governor's mansion, or if you ever move to a bigger house--in Washington, say.

W: Cool!

(August 2000)
Republican Party Leaders: Well, George, we've paid an ungodly amount of money and slandered a war hero to buy you the nomination for president, overcoming your obvious lack of qualifications. Don't you forget who paid to get you here!

W: Don't worry--I love you guys!

(December 2000)
Supreme Court: Mr. Bush, since you came in such a close second in the election, we're awarding you the presidency! Of course, some of us wouldn't be here if it weren't for your dear old dad--say "Hi" to him, will ya?

W: Cool!

(September 2001)
American Public: President Bush, since you happened to be vacationing in Texas while intelligence about a massive terrorist attack sat on your desk unread, leading to the worst attack on American shores since the Civil War, we're giving you this gigantic mandate to do whatever insane things pass through that little mind of yours. Kill, maim, or detain innocent people anywhere in the world, destroy the constitution, destroy the environment: whatever you want.

W: God bless America.

(November 2002)
American Public: Mr. Bush, in less than two years you have taken a nation that was wealthy, confident, and at peace, with a budget surplus, and turned it into one which is struggling, afraid, at war, and broke. Therefore, we're giving you Republican control of both houses in Congress.

W: Excellent! You ain't seen nothin' yet. Let's roll!

Moral to the story: Nothing succeeds like failure.


 
Bad year for retailers: Good! Buying worthless imported crap from community-destroying big-box stores is supposed to be good for the country. It isn't. A bad retail season is the opposite of the Bush tax cuts--it hurts the rich the most. When manufacturing and retailing return to being local concerns, employment will rise and pollution will fall. A "good" retail season would have meant more money for the world's richest family (Wal-Mart's Waltons), along with increased high-interest debt for much of the working class. Buy local, buy used, don't buy at all: it's GOOD for the country!

 
Update from the "War of Terrorism":
According to Americans with direct knowledge and others who have witnessed the treatment, captives are often "softened up" by MPs and U.S. Army Special Forces troops who beat them up and confine them in tiny rooms. The alleged terrorists are commonly blindfolded and thrown into walls, bound in painful positions, subjected to loud noises and deprived of sleep. The tone of intimidation and fear is the beginning, they said, of a process of piercing a prisoner's resistance. -- from the Washington Post.

Read the whole article for a reminder of what the "land of the free and home of the brave" is doing to mere suspects detained in our name.


 
Big Sister (Kroger) is watching: I've already torn up my Kroger Plus card and boycotted that Orwellian grocery chain for many months now. And now they're introducing fingerprint checkout. So some geeky programmers (completely different from totally cool programmers like my brother and me) will have access to your name, address, credit card number and fingerprint on the Kroger computers. If you'd like to be framed for some terrible crime, you'll be well positioned. Even if Kroger's computer people are completely honest and well-intentioned, they could be blackmailed or extorted into sharing that information, and not just by Ashcroft and Poindexter. Go to the CASPIAN web site for more on Supermarkets' invasion into our privacy, and stay away from Krogers!

 
Big Brother (the FBI) is watching ... (from a letter to the editor in the Bellingham (Washington) Herald)

The FBI now can get our list of library books, e-mails, telephone records and so on. When I was worried about an overdue book after the library closed, I called the FBI for help.

"Please check on a book for me, will you," I told the agent.

"What? Do you think we work for you?"

"Is Bernard Lewis's book on the Middle East overdue?" I pleaded.

"Well, okay, I'll look it up. Hey, you've also checked out 'Lawrence of Arabia.'"

"It's a great book," I protested.

"Did you see the movie, too?"

"Yes," I said.

"Have you checked out the video - never mind, I'll check. Yeah, just last week."

"Honest," I replied, "I wanted to see the restored version."

"A doubtful story. And, yes, you're overdue on the book."

"Darn," I said. "I guess I'm not getting my mail on time."

"Mail? Well, let me check. Nope, no card from Bellingham library, but your long-distance phone bill shows you've called Mahoud's Diner. Who's Mahoud?"

"He's a great cook and what are you doing with my phone bill?"

"Just checking. By the way, you are behind in the phone payment. Want me to pay it from your credit card?"

"You've got my credit statement?"

"Of course. There, I charged it on your card."

"Thanks," I said. "What a service."

"Saved you a penalty. Anything else we can do for you?"

"Yes," I replied. "Did my neighbor pay cash for his new car?"

"What! Do you think we spy on people?"

Lyle E. Harris

Bellingham


 
What logic and compassion couldn't do, impending bankruptcy accomplishes quickly: Michigan, along with many other states, is eliminating harsh mandatory sentences for drug crimes. Fiscal emergencies are forcing states to find ways to cut costs, and the outrageous expense involved in locking up non-violent offenders for ten or twenty years is a compassionate and logical place to start. From the NY Times.

 

Rooting Out Evil: Mission USA


In the new year, Rooting Out Evil will be sending a team of volunteer weapons inspectors into that greatest of rogue nations, the United States of America.

We have selected the US as our first priority based on criteria provided by the Bush administration. According to those criteria, the most dangerous states are those run by leaders who:

1) have massive stockpiles of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons;
2) ignore due process at the United Nations;
3) refuse to sign and honour international treaties; and
4) have come to power through illegitimate means.

The current US administration fulfills all these criteria. And so, again following Bush’s guidelines, Rooting Out Evil is demanding that his administration allow immediate and unfettered access to international weapons inspectors to search out their caches of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

If they refuse to comply, we will assemble as many volunteer weapons inspectors as possible at a major border crossing between the US and Canada and attempt to cross into the US on a mission of peace. We will be greeted on the US side by Americans who favour true global cooperation, an end to weapons of mass destruction, and a regime change in the US at the next election.

Go here to sign up as a volunteer inspector and lend support, in person or in spirit, to our Canadian friends trying to bring a little sanity across the border.


 
Look out Coke and Pepsi, here comes...



Don't drink idiotic anymore, drink committed. -- Motto for Mecca Cola, which gives ten percent of either revenues or profits (my French isn't that good) to Palestinian causes, ten percent to European causes. According to an Indonesian blogger, Mecca Cola is selling out in Europe.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

 

Protest! It's good for you!


Taking part in protests and demonstrations can be good for your physical and mental health, a new British study suggests. -- from Reuters.

 
Don't you hate it when good columnists go bad? I was ticked off yesterday when I read Nicholas Kristoff's op-ed from yesterday entitled "In Praise of Snowmobiles," but couldn't quite form a coherent rant about it. Well, I think I can, now.

Kristoff praises the Bush administration for allowing snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. He says that the new four-stroke snowmobiles are much quieter and less polluting than the two-stroke variety, and I'm sure that's right. But Kristoff claims that "when the roads are closed in winter, the only alternative to snowmobiles is snow coaches, which are like vans on treads." This is a lie: Yellowstone is open to cross-country skiing and snoeshoeing, according to its web site. He makes another statement which is true, but still ridiculous: "It's pretty clear that without snowmobiles very few Americans will get the thrill of seeing Yellowstone in winter." Ridiculous, because even with snowmobiles, very few Americans will see Yellowstone in winter. I couldn't find the numbers for snowmobile rentals in Yellowstone, but I would hazard a guess that the number of Americans partaking in this is far below the number of Americans who will get the thrill of seeing Iraq this winter. Kristoff claims that animals don't run from the newer, quieter snowmobiles because he saw some. Well, Nick, you didn't see the ones that did run, now did you?

We have boxed nature into tiny little corners in this country, and now Bush and his publicist Kristoff think that it's okay for us to use our expensive toys to trample around even in those little corners. Rather than allowing snowmobiles in Yellowstone, we should be eliminating them, along with SUV's and cars in general, from more and more places, so that Americans won't have to go to Yellowstone to experience nature.


 

I hope that, somewhere, Bing Crosby is happy:



 

Merry Christmas, everybody!

 
Republican Logic:
See if you can follow the logic behind a proposal to cut taxes on dividends:
Republicans close to the White House said there were several reasons why officials were attracted to the idea of letting taxpayers exclude about half of all dividend income from taxes. Eliminating all taxes on corporate dividends would drain so much money from the Treasury — about $300 billion over 10 years, according to some estimates — that President Bush would have no room for other tax cuts. Reducing dividend taxes by about half, to about 20 percent for people in the top tax bracket, would not only reduce the drain on revenue to the Treasury but also bring dividend taxes in line with those on capital gains. (NY Times)

It's sort of like a doctor explaining to you why he is amputating your left arm by saying "if I amputated both arms, you would be in really bad shape." That is, they are comparing their stupid idea to an even stupider idea, rather than to the already stupid enough status quo. Another comparison, which I'm surprised Bush hasn't used already: "We have to attack Iraq because if we attacked Atlanta I would probably lose votes."

You know, you Republican corporate drones, you could also bring dividend taxes in line with those on capital gains by raising both to 90%, which would mean that those who make money by having money would have to pay more taxes than those who make money by working.


Tuesday, December 24, 2002

 
Just say NO to Joe
With Gore dropping out, Senator Joe Lieberman is now considered one of the favorites for the Democratic nomination for president. A good choice, if you're trying to make Bush look too liberal. This guy is a super-hawk, a shill for the insurance companies, a co-inquisitor with Lynne Cheney in her witchhunt for "un-patriotic" Americans. Progressives need to make it clear to the Democrats that we're all going Green if this polite monster is going to be the Democratic nominee in 2004. From the NY Times:
"I think the party is open to a different kind of Democrat," he said. Mr. Lieberman said that while he "may be more conservative, more pro-defense, more pro-security than a lot of Democrats are," for the most part, he was "in tune with the mainstream of my party."

Mr. Lieberman sponsored the Homeland Security Act, and was at Mr. Bush's side last fall as he pushed through a Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. By noting that he had also voted in favor of the first resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, in 1991, Mr. Lieberman drew an unstated contrast with other Democrats in the race like Representative Richard A. Gephardt and Senator John Kerry, who opposed that resolution.


 
Thom Saffold, a fellow member of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace and publisher of the Street Wall Journal sent the following message to our group:

Friends,

Today I am ashamed to be a Christian. Tomorrow will be worse.

The center of my spiritual life is Jesus, a/k/a the rabbi, Yeshua bar Yusef who--according to Himself--was NOT the Son of God, but came "to give [humanity] the power to become the sons and daughters of God"; can you imagine how different the world would be if we recognized that all people--regardless of our differences--are truly sons and daughters of the Creator? We might actually relate to and treat everyone else as our sisters and brothers, even if they were Muslim, even if they were Iraqis.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the birth of Yeshua in Beth-lehem, the city of bread, a town under military occupation, governed by a corrupt and hypocritical king, backed by the Empire of Rome. The infant Yeshua grew into a man who embraced the finest teachings and characteristics of Judaism/the faith of the Hebrew people and became known as the Prince of Peace. His radical philosophy of equality of all people (including women, eunuchs, and the poor), of the necessity of resistance to injustice (he made it a condition of discipleship), commitment to what we call creative nonviolent direct action/civil disobedience, and devotion to love--even love of enemies--got him crucified, but also inspired Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Church, beginning in the Third Century when it sold out its principles to Constantine in return for worldly power, has consistently perverted Yeshua's message and meaning, despite the fact that a few each century (like Dr. King and many of the civil rights activists) have rediscovered His essential message and sought to manifest it. The Church, in response, has tended to kill such "heretics," of course.

And so it is that tomorrow, good Christian Church folk in nearly all the churches in our area will sing Christmas carols about the Prince of Peace and Bethlehem, and IGNORE their responsibilities as followers of Yeshua. They will be ignorant of (or is it, rather, out of callousness) the fact that the real, live, flesh-and-blood people of Bethlehem are today living under a brutal military occupation, run by a corrupt and hypocritical government backed by the Empire of Corporate America.

The overwhelming majority of these Christians (apparently "Christ" has NOTHING to do with Yeshua!) will celebrate their holiday by engaging in a consumeristic orgy and then eat too much, and go to bed feeling very self-satisfied. They will NOT be organizing or demonstrating or committing acts of civil disobedience to stop Bush's insane vision of total, unending war, or to stop US funding of Israel's cruelties. And after tomorrow, they will continue to be blind to the reality of what's happening in the world, and to the true meaning of their faith.


 
It looks like the Sierra Club leadership has finally decided to oppose war--sort of. It has signed on with other groups, including the NAACP and NOW, in a watered down anti-war message. According to the press release, The new group, Win Without War, represents millions of Americans and seeks to prevent bloodshed and loss of life on all sides by slowing the Bush Administration's apparent rush to war so that U.N. Arms Inspectors have time to carry out their mission.

While I would have preferred a stronger statement, it is good to see that the pressure put on the Sierra Club leadership by the Utah and San Francisco area chapters had some effect. Who knows, maybe I had a little impact, too. When I read about the objections raised by local chapters to the Club's apparent support of war (which, admittedly, was just as watered-down as this new opposition), I had a Sierra Club fundraising request on my desk. I wrote "No more $ until oppose war" on the form (there wasn't room for complete sentences) and put peace signs all over the envelope, and mailed it back without a donation. I mean, you can recycle until the genetically-modified cows come home and you will do less to preserve the environment than stopping just one "little" war. So I'm glad to see the Sierra Club tiptoe over the line from mildly supporting war to mildly opposing it. I've got another envelope on my desk now; I'll give them something now. I mean Bush hates the environment almost as much as he hates Iraq, and the Sierra Club is the biggest environmental group out there. We've got to keep pushing them not to sell out.


 
Molly Ivins on Bush's new economic team:

According to The Wall Street Journal, "In Dec. 2000, nine months after he took over, Mr. Donaldson told investors that the company's problems with skyrocketing medical costs were finally under control and projected rosy 2001 earnings, driving Aetna's stock price up.

"It turned out that Aetna's system for calculating costs was out of whack (oops!). In April, four months after Mr. Donaldson's upbeat predictions, Aetna announced that earnings would be 'significantly lower' than expected, driving its stock price down by 18 percent in one day.

"Mr. Donaldson had retired 10 days before the profit warning. Aetna's board months earlier had set his compensation for his 10 months of service as CEO in 2000 at a $1 million salary, a $6 million bonus and more than $11 million in restricted stock and options." Our kind of guy.
...
But what a payoff on the investment! A mere $5.9 million in campaign contributions over 13 years and they got $164 million in the last four years in tax rebates without ever paying taxes. I'm telling you, this guy Mr. Snow is a genius, and I have perfect faith that as the Bush team moves ahead to cut more taxes for the rich, fight a $200 billion war and increase defense spending, the books at Treasury will balance nicely. It all makes perfect sense to me.



 

One of five technically legal signs that can be posted in a library to warn patrons of intrusions on their privacy. Politics in the Zeros has more.


Monday, December 23, 2002

 

Harboring Terrorists


Most controversially, at the request of Jeb, Mr Bush Sr intervened to release the convicted Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch from prison and then granted him US residency.

According to the justice department in George Bush Sr's administration, Bosch had participated in more than 30 terrorist acts. He was convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. He was also implicated in the 1976 blowing-up of a Cubana plane flying to Havana from Venezuela in which all 73 civilians on board were killed...Bosch now lives in Miami and remains unrepentant about his militant activities, according to Bardach. -- from a Guardian article about the book Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana, by Ann Louise Bardach. Read the whole artice; it will give you a good idea of the criminal nature of the whole Bush clan. Probably a good idea to read the book, too, but I haven't done that yet (reserve requested at the library).

I may have been wrong months ago when I said that the biggest mistake this country ever made was readmitting Texas to the Union after the Civil War. Florida may have been even bigger. When you've got a chance to lose corrupt Bush-voting cesspools like these, you've got to take advantage. Or, to paraphrase Trent Lott, if the Navy hadn't pulled George H. W. Bush out of the Pacific after his plane went down in WWII, we wouldn't have had all these problems. No October Surprise, no Iran-Contra, no "read my lips", no Panama invasion, no Gulf War I, no Gulf War II, no World War III.


 

Plane Crashes in Iran, Killing 46


The report said the plane was carrying aerospace experts from the Ukraine. The Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera said there were 46 victims, most from Ukraine. It was not immediately clear why the plane crashed. -- from AP. I should have you trained well enough by now to read between the lines of that one.



 
Two Wars? No Problem, says Rumsfeld. Happy Holidays. Rummy says we can take on Iraq AND North Korea at the same time.

Asked about Baghdad's assertions that it is complying fully with the United Nations, Mr. Rumsfeld said, "Well, they obviously aren't."

That's what passes for proof in the Bush administration. Obviously.


 

Promise Breakers


PLA points out how the Bushies broke their promise to the 9/11 families on the makeup of the commission investigating 9/11. The families had been promised that they could pick one of the five Republican members of the commission: they picked former senator Warren Rudman. But all five Republican places are now filled: former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, Fred Fielding, a former White House lawyer, former Sen. Slade Gorton of Washington and John Lehman, former Navy secretary. No Warren Rudman.

The reason the families wanted to pick Rudman was that they wanted six of the ten commission members to be independent of the White House, thereby increasing the likelihood that key administration figures like Attorney General Ashcroft, CIA Director Tenet, and even W himself might be subpoenaed. Clearly Bush is more dedicated to his cult of secrecy than he is to keeping a promise to victims of his own administration's incompetence. Absolute, total sleazebag.

PLA further suggests that the promise made to moderate Republican senators Chaffee, Snowe and Collins that the porkbarrel provisions added to the Homeland Security bill would be revisited in the new congress in January. Those provisions included the incredibly sleazy protection of drugmaker Eli Lilly from lawsuits over thimerosal, the mercury-containing vaccine additive which may be linked to autism. (PLA is the father of an autistic child and blogs on the issue a lot.)


 

US jails Arabs who comply with new law


-- Headline from an article in a South African newspaper.

 
The United States administration has dismissed as a stunt Iraq's offer to admit CIA agents to assist United Nations arms inspectors. A White House official said the burden of proof rested with President Saddam Hussein to show that he was not developing weapons of mass destruction. On Sunday, Iraq said it was ready to answer any questions raised by the US and UK governments on its weapons declaration to the UN. An adviser to the Iraqi leader, General Amir al-Saadi, said all available information had been provided. He invited CIA personnel to direct arms inspectors to any suspect sites. But the White House official rejected the offer, saying Baghdad appeared "not to have made the strategic choice" to renounce weapons of mass destruction. "While we have not given up on disarming Iraq through the United Nations, we are now entering a final phase in how we compel Saddam Hussein to disarm," the official told Reuters news agency. -- from BBC

{SARCASM}Ari Fleischer added that the administration believed that the Japanese surrender on the battleship Missouri in 1945 was "all hat and no cattle," and that the burden of proof is on Japan to show that it has stopped fighting World War II. He also said that it is "way past time" for Great Britain to recognize American independence, and that Paraguay had better come clean about its ladder to Saturn or "face the consequences."{/SARCASM}

The Iraqis have called Bush's bluff, but it looks like Bush will insist on knocking the table over before anyone sees the cards. This is soooooo embarrassing! Why did we elect this clown? (Oh, right, we didn't.)



 
Last month the Jordanian government asked the Israeli government to formally renounce any idea of mass expulsions. Sharon's government refused.

The first transfer in 1948 was replete with massacres large and small. This one would be even more violent. Palestinians are much more determined not to leave now. On the Israeli side their Prime Minister is a man who has personally led the slaughter of Palestinians for 50 years and who has never suffered any long term political reverses because of it.

Let me lay out a possible scenario, the U.S. invades Iraq, a huge bomb goes off in Israel and the the IDF moves into action. Village after village is marched to the Jordanian border. The Jordanian Army refuses to let Palestinians cross the border and the IDF bombards them until they retreat. Then the Palestinians are driven across the border.

Impossible? A nightmare? Well, who would stop Sharon? Bush might if he thought it harmed the pulverizing of Iraq. If the war's going well, however, would he even lift a finger? -- from Stanley Heller.


 
Michigan Democrats and Republicans claim to agree that sprawl is bad. Let's hope they're serious about this: with the state, like every state, facing a budget crisis, I hope they use taxes to discourage sprawl. A big increase in the gas tax and hefty property tax surcharges on greenfield development could make existing communities relatively more attractive to developers and commuters.

At the root of the problem, as I see it, is that communities on just about every scale are in competition with each other, to just about everyone's detriment. Indonesia and Bangladesh takes jobs from Mexico which went there from the US fifteen years ago. Alabama gives Hyundai $126 million in corporate welfare so they'll locate a plant there instead of in Kentucky (Michigan? Forget about it!). People looking for a house are lured to new subdivisions in Livingston County because of low land costs, lower taxes, low gas prices, and no tolls on the highways, to the detriment of Ann Arbor and metro Detroit, despite their existing housing and infrastructure. Competition has its place, but the government must not only provide a level playing field (which it rarely does); it must prohibit competition which is generally bad for the public welfare. Sprawl is one such form of competition. While the farmer may get more for his land than he would otherwise, and the developer makes a lot of money, and many of the people who buy houses there will at least claim to be happy, the overall impact of sprawl on society is negative, so it should be stopped.


Sunday, December 22, 2002

 
The violence was triggered by a Palestinian uprising for statehood that began in September 2000. -- That's Reuters' summation of the Israel-Palestine conflict: a simple blame-it-on-the-Palestinians. Ignore the ongoing and increasing occupation and the humiliation and inconvenience it causes, the arrests of Palestinian leaders, the killing of civilians. Ignore Sharon's many provocations.

I've been remiss in not giving more attention to the Palestine situation. I tend to rant about what I read in the paper, and this isn't getting much attention anymore. Maybe the Trent Lott thing was intentional just to keep focus off of this brutal issue until the troops are in place and it's a new moon over Iraq. But the fact is that there is a brutal occupation going on in the West Bank and Gaza, and there is talk of relocating the Palestinians (again); basically, ethnic cleansing. Many people in the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace are justifiably outraged over this issue and the fact that the US continues to support Israel monetarily and militarily. Of course there is some blame to be placed on the suicide bombers, but this isn't too far removed from blaming the guy in Tienamen Square who faced down the Chinese tanks. The Israelis have the power, which means they have the power to choose between peace and war. The Palestinians are left with a choice between dying or dying while fighting.

So every day, while the Republicans are picking a new senate leader and Bush tells more lies about Saddam's lies, people are being killed in Palestine by US-funded bullets, bombs and grenades.


 
Download and print a Holiday poster for Peace for your window or door.



 
In most cases, it is apparent that the INS arrested men who were simply waiting for approval of their green card applications, or those with minor visa problems caused by incompetence in the agency itself, which has been plagued by an inept bureaucracy for years. In but one example, the San Diego Union Tribune reported on July 27, 2002 that the agency recently failed to process more than 200,000 change of address forms and then unceremoniously dumped them in the largest underground records facility in the world – an abandoned mine near Kansas City – putting hundreds of thousands at risk of wrongful arrest and deportation for failing to report a change of address. -- from the ACLU.
(Emphasis added)

 
Oh give me a home
Where the poppy seeds grow
And Russians and Taliban played
Where never is heard
A woman's word
And the sky's filled with contrails all day.

In their apparently infinite lack of compassion, the INS is deporting a 29-year-old Texas woman to her native Afghanistan, which she left when she was 15. She works in a restaurant in Texas, and is currently the primary caregiver for her elderly mother. Having no male relative to watch out for her in Afghanistan, she will have no rights and will be lucky to survive even a year. Thanks to Ampersand for the link.


 
Airport security insanity: Airport cops feel up guy's pregnant wife, guy objects, gets arrested. Ugly story from George Bush's America.

 

How did this guy get into the Bush administration?


He's actually going after the monsters of the highway: (from the NY Times)

"The theory that I'm going to protect myself and my family even if it costs other people's lives has been the operative incentive for the design of these vehicles, and that's just wrong," said Dr. Runge, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (known by its abbreviation and pronounced NIT-sa), in a recent interview.

"Not to sound like a politician, but that's not compassionate conservatism."

Now Dr. Runge's agency is reviewing several safety issues involving sport utility vehicles that could have wide-ranging implications for motorists and automakers. Detroit's Big Three, especially, derive a lopsided share of their slim profits from these vehicles.

Intent as he is on attacking the dangers of S.U.V.'s, Dr. Runge is still part of an administration that is not enamored of regulation. Yet he says that if he cannot address this nettlesome problem, his agency has little purpose.


 
ABC's 20-20 show last night featured a segment on US Air Force pilots being required to take speed for long flights. The two pilots responsible for killing four Canadians, and wounding eight others, were both wired on speed when they dropped the lethal bomb. While our government is running ads blaming teenagers for funding terrorism and killing children because they smoke some pot, they are at the same time pushing uppers on the pilots of the most lethal machinery anywhere, all to make Afghanistan safe once again for producing heroin.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

 
A couple of more things about last night's concert: it was a sellout of about 400 people paying on average about $10 per ticket. Thanks to the Ark for hosting the event and to the musicians and everyone else who made it possible. To use some current terminology in a more pleasant context, it was a "dual use" experience. Not only did the event raise thousands for the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace, the songs re-invigorated us and inspired us to carry on.
posted by Bob at 2:20 PM

 
So what is Gore's withdrawal from the 2004 race really about? While his recent criticisms of Bush policies and call for universal health care weren't likely to persuade many of the minority Bush voters to vote for him next time, they also wouldn't have cost him many of those who voted for him in 2000 and were very appealing to Nader voters like me, and especially to the majority of voting-age Americans who don't vote at all. The millions of people working low-wage jobs who have opted to buy food rather than health care for themselves and their children would have had a great incentive to get out and vote for the candidate who would make it unnecessary for them to make that awful choice.

As the WSWS points out, the mainstream media has been lavish in their praise of Gore for dropping out. I've been disturbed by the large numbers of editorial cartoons that I've seen which show either donkeys celebrating or elephants crying over Gore's announcement. This is shear nonsense. Aside from Hillary, Gore is better known than any other potential Democratic candidate. With his apparent new approach to telling it like it is rather than what his advisers said, he was easily the Dems best chance to beat Bush--again. My guess, as the WSWS suggests, is that it was becoming clear that Gore wasn't going to get the financial backing of the corporations if he pursued a populist agenda. A more sinister thought is that he was threatened with attacks such as anthrax letters to his family if he didn't withdraw. If Gore had persisted with his attacks on Bush militarism, his call for universal health care, and had returned to his previous interest in protecting the environment (his sellout on this issue in 2000 is why I voted for Nader instead (and don't blame me, Gore still won Michigan)), he would have been well on his way to becoming our 44th president.

Actually, I think his withdrawal makes him in some ways even more appealing as a candidate. I think maybe Lincoln was the last president we've had (well, perhaps Eisenhower or Carter) who wasn't just drooling over the prospect of being president. The result has been that most candidates, no matter how well-intentioned when they started, have sold their souls to get elected. Gore did this in 2000, and it worked until the court-ordered coup threw him out. But now it seems as though he is trying to buy his soul back, and if he succeeds he would be an excellent candidate for 2004. Maybe we should start a "draft Al" campaign in either the Democratic or Green parties.


 
I chased Osama all across Afghanistan
From Kandahar to Tora Bor'
Now it's onward to Iraq
Another televised attack
But I ain't marchin' anymore...

-- Corndaddy, from the song "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore" which was performed at the concert last night and is on the CD I'm listening to now.
posted by Bob at 10:58 AM

 

Click here for details.
posted by Bob at 1:15 AM

 
Excellent, excellent, excellent concert! I went to The Ann Arbor Musicians for Peace Benefit Concert at the Ark in downtown Ann Arbor. I'm listening to the CD now as I write this (it's available at the downtown Borders (at least)--the title is "Tell it, Think it, Speak it, Breathe it."). The musicians were wonderful, some singing original songs, others doing classic anti-war songs like "For What It's Worth," "Down by the River," and "One Love." Proceeds from the concert went to our very own Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace. Check out the concert web page for details on the artists and how you can purchase a CD (if you're in Ann Arbor, Borders is probably the easiest way to get the CD; if you're related to me, check your mail; otherwise call one of the numbers on the concert page).
posted by Bob at 1:12 AM

 

Ann Arbor's own military unit.


I'm not going to question the people at the 406th Corps Support Battalion: I probably went to high school with some of them, and I wish them all a healthy and fairly boring 2003 (no long trips abroad, for example). Well actually, I do have one question for them, but I think I'll ask my readers first (the two groups are probably mutually exclusive). The question is: what does the motto "First Without Demand" mean? One year free subscription to this blog for the most creative answer.



Friday, December 20, 2002

 
In America, power isn't earned; it's inherited. Former Alaska senator and new governor Frank Murkowski has just appointed his 45-year-old daughter and fellow Republitron Lisa Murkowski to join Washington's neposquad, joining the sordid ranks of government officials who are there because they chose their parents, siblings or spouses carefully: Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, Michael Powell, Evan Bayh, John Rockefeller, John Dingell, and of course the ultimate crime of nepotism, George W. Bush himself. (I'm sure there are many others that I've missed.)
posted by Bob at 4:44 PM

 

Wal-Mart Loses!


A jury in Oregon found that Wal-Mart managers had required employees to work overtime without pay, violating Federal labor laws. Wal-Mart is a true force of evil in this country, using its immense size and purchasing power to destroy downtowns, shut down American factories by buying from overseas sweatshops, and lower labor standards for workers. May they lose again, and again, and again...And don't you dare shop there!
posted by Bob at 4:26 PM

 
Just one more thing to worry about. Just as with the anthrax case, the biggest danger to this country from biological weapons, intentional or unintentional, comes from within this country. All sorts of nasty stuff is stored and/or experimented with at Plum Island in New York, Fort Dietrick in Maryland, the CDC in Atlanta, and numerous industrial and academic labs around the country. In addition, we've got untested genetically-modified organisms infecting crops and other plants, threatening the food supply. Whatever Saddam has hiding under his bed is nowhere near as dangerous to Americans as the stuff in our own backyard.
posted by Bob at 2:53 PM

 
Merry Christmas, lads, it may be your last. Tony Blair tells British troops to get ready for war. Bloody fool.
posted by Bob at 2:45 PM

 
Immigrants being released. The feds still won't give precise numbers of those arrested or released, but the article seems to indicate that most of those arrested were being released. Let's hope so. Even so, it's a very nasty slap in the face for people attempting to comply with government orders.
posted by Bob at 2:27 PM

 
Though only the United States and Russia are known to store the virus, U.S. intelligence long has suspected that Iraq and North Korea also possess illicit amounts. While those in government and in public health circles believe chances of a smallpox attack on America are small, the news of the vaccination program is a stark reminder to everyone that the threat of terrorism where we live and breathe is real nonetheless. -- from an Ann Arbor News editorial.

No! The vaccination program is evidence that our warmongering government wants us to believe that the threat of terrorism is real so they can continue with their agenda of domination and repression, abroad and at home.


 
In Michael Moore's book Downsize This! and his movie The Big One he shows a photo of the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building after it was destroyed by a truck bomb, and a photo of a Buick plant in his hometown of Flint, Michigan as it was being demolished by General Motors. The two pictures are nearly identical, and Moore asserts that the death toll may be similar as well. While 158 people were killed in Oklahoma City in a very short time, the economic devastation caused by GM's abandonment of Flint would lead to suicides, drug abuse, domestic violence, and health problems which might eventually match or exceed the death toll from Oklahoma. It continued last night, with five killed in shootings in the Flint area.
posted by Bob at 12:48 PM

 
Lott quits leadership post, but will stay in Senate. Worst outcome for those of us hoping for a Republican crash and burn.
posted by Bob at 11:13 AM

 

from Paul Conrad.
posted by Bob at 10:54 AM

 

posted by Bob at 10:46 AM

 
They hate us for our freedoms:White House to Propose System for Wide Monitoring of Internet.
posted by Bob at 8:54 AM

Thursday, December 19, 2002

 
More on the immigrant roundups. Atrios has lots of rants about this.
posted by Bob at 4:45 PM

 
A fellow member of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace posted this--it's excellent:

How dare the supporters of war call themselves the supporters of the troops? Exactly what rights of the troops do they support?

They support the right of poor young people to put their lives in danger in order to get a college education.

They support the right of the troops to be shipped off with no notice to fight pointless, undefined, unwinnable and imperialist wars.

They support the rights of the troops to be exposed to undisclosed toxins, both of US and enemy government creation, to be given undisclosed medical treatments, supposedly for their benefit, and to be given the runaround when they try to claim they have suffered ill health affects from any of the above.

They support the right of the troops to be killed and injured.

And when the war is over, they support the right of the troops to be homeless, addicted and traumatized.

Those who oppose the war support the right of the troops not to be shipped off to die for US oil interests. Again, how dare they tell us that we don't support the troops?


 
More on the mass detentions of immigrants:
Lawyers reported crowded cells with some clients forced to rest standing up, some shackled and moved to other locations in the night, frigid conditions in jail cells — all for men with no known criminal histories...
Some, [a lawyer] said, were hosed down with cold water before finding places to sleep on the concrete floors of cells.
-- from the LA Times.

This is Bush's America. It sucks.


 
Why are the Bushies so interested in a war with impoverished, demolished Iraq when another charter AOE (axis of evil) member is admittedly actively pursuing weapons of mass destruction? The answer is hidden in plain sight:




 
"Material breach!" says escaped convict and ambassador to the UN John Negroponte. Secretary of State Powell will supposedly say this isn't a trigger for war, which basically means that the weather will be cool in Iraq for a while and we're going to send many more troops over there before IWC day. (That's Imperialist-War-Crime Day.) I once had a boss who was kind of like the Bush administration. No matter what you gave him, it wasn't what he wanted. It wouldn't surprise me if the administration didn't look at the Iraqi documents at all: the script said a)ask Iraq to tell all; b) rush the process; c) reject whatever they deliver; d) go to war.

And another thing! How is Bush supposed to convince the ten non-permanent members of the UN Security Council that the Iraqi document was incomplete when he is withholding two-thirds of it from them?


 
Congratulations to Oakland, CA and Flagstaff, AZ for passing resolutions opposed to the criminal USA Patriot Act on Tuesday. There are now twenty localities which have passed such resolutions. Ann Arbor was the first!
posted by Bob at 1:01 PM

 
The vaccine is made from a live virus, vaccinia, a relative of smallpox. It is administered with a special needle that creates an open sore. For three weeks the virus is highly contagious and can cause infection, either in the person who received the vaccine or other people in close contact. -- from a NY Times article about two hospitals refusing to join Bush's smallpox vaccination program.

C'mon, guys, who wouldn't want a little live virus put into them, especially one that creates an open sore and is highly contagious? All for a disease which was eradicated from the planet 25 years ago. At best, this smallpox plan is just another scare tactic, like the color alert system. At worst, it is a plan for genocide, either by innoculating those they want to protect and then releasing smallpox on the rest, or by simply administering lethal injections, something which W had no qualms about in his governor days.


 
My kind of world leader: check out the sign that South Korea's new president is making with his hand:



 

Roundup in California


Hundreds of Muslim immigrants have been arrested and locked up in overcrowded conditions in the last few days. Many had come forward voluntarily to register with the INS. According to Reuters:

The arrests were part of a post Sept. 11 program that requires all males over 16 from a list of 20 Arab or Middle East countries, who do not have permanent resident status in the United States, to register with U.S. immigration authorities.

Monday was the deadline for men from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Sudan. News of the mass arrests came first in southern California, which is home to more than 600,000 Iranian exiles and their families.
...
INS spokesman Arcaute said those arrested had violated immigration laws, overstayed their visas, or were wanted for crimes. The program was prompted by concern about the lack of records on tourists, students and other visitors to the United States after the Sept. 11 hijack plane attacks on New York and Washington.

Islamic community leaders said many of the detainees had been living, working and paying taxes in the United States for five or 10 years, and had families here.

"Terrorists most likely wouldn't come to the INS to register. It is really a bad way to go about it. They are being treated as criminals and that really goes against American ideals of fairness, and justice and democracy," Khan said.

The Iranian protesters said many of those detained were victims of official delays in processing visa and green card requests.

Might as well ship the Statue of Liberty back to France--it doesn't mean anything here anymore. This gets more and more like the Nazis every day.

More on this: LA Times (registration required); the story hasn't made the front web pages of the NY Times or the Washington Post.


 
Lack of money is forcing states to do what compassion and logic could not: reduce their prison populations.
posted by Bob at 6:58 AM

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

 
I got my first hate mail yesterday. Those who have been following the blog closely know that local peace activists, including me, lobbied the Ann Arbor City Council to pass a resolution opposing war in Iraq, which they did on December 2. In the Sunday, December 8 Ann Arbor News the editorial staff wrote a brief "Talk About Town" article which put down the council for passing the resolution, citing a person "at the water cooler" saying he just wished council would get his leaves picked up. The writer(s) snidely concluded by suggesting that the White House doesn't care what the Ann Arbor City Council thinks, and that the council should stick to "local" issues.

Along with several others, I sent a letter to the editor objecting to this piece:

To the Editor:
As a member of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace who attended the City Council meeting on December 2, I take exception to the "Skip Iraq, Get Leaves" article in Sunday's "Talk About Town." First, there was nothing "aggressive" about our support for the resolution: we assertively exercised our rights as citizens to contact our elected representatives and express our wish that Ann Arbor speak out against war. About 100 of us showed up to show our support, but no one was threatened into anything. No one expressed any displeasure at Mike Reid's thoughtful statement or vote against the resolution. And no one from the “water cooler" or elsewhere showed up to express opposition to the resolution.

As for the remark about council member Herrell and her colleagues being a non-issue at the White House: well, that’s our point. Our national government IS ignoring us. War in Iraq has been estimated to cost $200 billion. Ann Arbor’s contribution in taxes will be approximately $70 million, money which the city could use to improve leaf collection (which isn’t really much of a problem, no matter what the water cooler gang says) or for other, more important services.

Michigan voted for Gore. Both of our Senators voted against Bush’s war resolution in October, as did Representatives Rivers and Dingell. Our voices don’t seem to have gotten through yet, but we’re going to keep expressing our support for peace in any way we can, and we thank City Council for its vote.

This was printed in last Sunday's (12/15) paper. On Tuesday I received a nasty letter from a Dennis Smith of Belleville, Michigan. I don't have the patience to re-type it, bad spelling and all, so I have scanned it. You can read it: page 1; page 2 (you may need to save the images and open them in an image editing program to be able to read them--the pictures themselves are clear, but they appear very small in some browsers).

I tell you, my cat understands the issues better than this yahoo, and she's much nicer. Dennis Smith of Belleville is one child who was definitely left WAY behind in school, and worse, he doesn't care. It is scary to think how many millions of morons like Dennis there are in this country.

I told the staff person of our organization about the letter; she said she and one other member had received similar letters, although theirs were more threatening. We are going to compare the letters tomorrow to see if they all came from the same source.


 
Do the people of this country have any idea what this country is supposed to be about? A CNN QuickVote poll shows 61% believe the US is justified in denying attorneys to detainees in the war on terror. Go to http://www.cnn.com/ and try to set the record straight (the poll is near the bottom right of the page).
posted by Bob at 9:44 PM

 
More on the morons at ProdiGene, who are so excited about making corn produce drugs and other products that they risk making corn useless as food. Just say NO to GMO's!
posted by Bob at 3:09 PM

 
Oakland to join Ann Arbor and other cities in opposing the USA Patriot Act.
posted by Bob at 3:04 PM

 
Excellent article which brings all of the reasons to oppose war in Iraq into clear focus. A sample:

[Debunking the argument that] Saddam's acquisition of "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) would threaten U.S. and world security

This is untenable nonsense, first, because the United States is well able to defend itself and has overwhelming retaliatory capability, and even Israel would threaten a level of retaliation that precludes Saddam's using those weapons offensively against it even if he had them.

What is more, he has no delivery systems that would allow him to reach U.S. targets. He has used WMD in the past, but only when the United States supplied him with and protected his use of such weapons (against Iran, a U.S. enemy), the United States even going so far as to prevent condemnation of Saddam's methods in the Security Council (for details see the Labour Party "counter- dossier," Sept. 21, 2002: http://www.traprockpeace.org).

Saddam did not use WMD during the Persian Gulf War, because he knew that if he did so U.S. retaliation would be severe. CIA head George Tenet testified before a Senate Committee in early October that the probability of Saddam's using WMD in "the foreseeable future" was "low," except as a desperation move if attacked. In short, even if Saddam Hussein did possess WMD, he could only use them as a means of self-defense, unless he directed them against a U.S.-approved target, as in the 1980s.


 

Intrigue in the Senate:

Cogent Provacateur has lots of interesting facts and thoughts about the upcoming Senate LOTTery. Who'll be the Republican leader? Who'll be the Democratic leader? Who'll be Republicans, Democrats, or Independents? Is there a slight possibility that a little real democracy could happen?
posted by Bob at 10:24 AM

 
At Clear Channel Communications, the nation's largest radio chain, only one of the five people on its compensation committee is free of potential conflicts. The committee has retained — indeed, sweetened — pay packages that guaranteed raises for the chairman, L. Lowry Mays, and his two sons, regardless of company performance. The sons have severance agreements that entitle them to 14 years of salary, bonuses, benefits and stock options if they quit because the board fails to choose one of them to succeed their father as chief executive. Clear Channel said the committee met existing federal guidelines for independence. -- from the NY Times. Of course, if Clear Channel hadn't practically monopolized the radio business they might need to put their money into areas more productive than guaranteeing that the CEO's vile offspring are multi-millionaires for life. And, if they had competition, that competition could be talking about this nonsense night and day.
posted by Bob at 6:53 AM

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

 
I'll have to tell you, when the President lines up on something, when he's the power behind something, so many of our guys run to the pole, lower the flag and basically do what he thinks. Frankly, we need to be looking at the substance of things to see if there is something there worth fighting for. If there is, then we ought to take the President on.

Dang! That guy tells it like it is! Thanks to John Ashcroft for that timely advice! Here's another choice Ashcrotch quote in light of the rush to pass the despicable USA Patriot Act:

I spent four hours debating the bill without yielding the floor and signaled my willingness to do so for an extended period of time. When they realized they were not going to be able to carry this through at the high velocity they wanted (you know, velocity is the enemy of reason) they fell back.


 
Still looking?
So let's review - when the NYSE was being run by Donaldson, one of his executives asked that a discussion of a questionable trading practice be kept from the SEC, the same organization that Donaldson is now being proposed to reform.

When Bill Donaldson comes up for Congressional approval someone should say, "Hey, Bill. How can you run the SEC if it was the SEC that censured the organization you were running for not complying with SEC rules?" -- from the NY Post, of all places, thanks to MaxSpeak for the link.

Let's face it. The Bushies are going to be unable to find nominees for government posts who agree with their philosophy who are not tainted by bribery, corruption, shady dealings, or racism, because that is their philosophy.

(PS--I like MaxSpeak because he put me on his blogroll!)


 
Exiles, criminals and spies meet to form puppet government to be imposed on Iraq. The democracy talk, as I'm sure my readers are well aware, is all a crock. This is an oil and power grab, pure and simple, and the long-suffering Iraqi people, like the long-suffering Afghan people, will be suffering a lot longer.
posted by Bob at 1:43 PM

 
Missile Defense: Welfare for the defense industry. Daddy Bush's Carlyle Group will make out like the bandits they are on this one. As usual with W, logic is nowhere to be seen:

Tuesday, he cited the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America as evidence that the country faces ``unprecedented threats'' and needs the anti-missile shield.

Nineteen guys with boxcutters hijack four airliners. How in the world is this ridiculously expensive boondoggle going to stop that? But Bush has allies on the hill:

Rep. Duncan Hunter, the likely next chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, lauded the decision to proceed on missile defense.

"Today, the United States cannot stop a single ballistic missile headed for an American city,'' said Hunter, R-Calif., who chairs Armed Services subcommittee on military research and development. ``The consequences of such an attack would be devastating, and the danger continues to grow as nations such as North Korea, Iraq, and Iran continue to develop, purchase, and sell advanced ballistic missile technologies.''

These guys are nuts. Just absolutely, completely out of their tiny little minds.


 
If Lott didn't see the storm coming, it was in part because it was so slow in building. The papers did not make note of his comments until days after he had made them. But the stillness was broken by the hum of Internet "bloggers" who were posting their outrage and compiling rap sheets of Lott's earlier comments. It took a few more days before Democrats denounced Lott and demanded a censure. -- from CNN, thanks again to Polizeros for the link.

Gee, now I wish I'd been harder on Lott, so I could take some of the credit! Good going, bloggers!


Monday, December 16, 2002

 
I've added two new books to my books page: Blue Gold and Suburban Nation. Highly recommended.
posted by Bob at 11:16 PM

 
I'm trying a little urban improvement: a pedestrian shortcut to downtown--


(Click on picture for details)
posted by Bob at 10:51 PM

 
AAA uses some of its membership dues to lobby against environmental standards. Go here to complain, whether you're a AAA member or not.
posted by Bob at 3:23 PM

 

Bill Maher's new book:


Thanks to Sanjay for the head's up!


 
Donkey Man and Hillary take on the Cheney time machine!
posted by Bob at 11:34 AM

 
Pentagon Debates Propaganda Push in Allied Nations. Rather than try to improve our image abroad by improving our behavior, Rummy and others at the Pentagon think that lying would be the better approach. It seems to work on our people here.
posted by Bob at 8:25 AM

 
So Gore is out for '04, just when I was starting to like him. We're left with a miserable list of Republicrats: Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Daschle, Gephardt, Edwards, Dean, and the worst of all, Lieberman (I absolutely detest him). With these horrible choices, even if we succeed in getting rid of Bush, we still lose. The Democrats had better start pushing Kucinich or Feingold or I'm going to have to go Green.
posted by Bob at 8:22 AM

Sunday, December 15, 2002

 
Political ad-makers take over all of TV advertising: the latest Doonesbury.
posted by Bob at 11:34 AM

 
Intelligence officials said the presidential finding authorizing the agency to kill terrorists was not limited to those on the list. The president has given broad authority to the C.I.A. to kill or capture operatives of Al Qaeda around the world, the officials said. -- from the NY Times. This isn't good, since the CIA definition of "Al Qaeda operatives" is "whoever we capture or kill." In other words, the CIA is now authorized to kill you, since if they kill you then you were al Qaeda scum. Think of all the money saved on extraditions, lawyers, and due process in general. And this applies to any person in the world. Sounds like an act of terror to me.
posted by Bob at 8:40 AM

Saturday, December 14, 2002

 
Homework Assignment:
  1. Add your name to the letter from Representatives Kucinich, Conyers and others to President Bush asking him to quit interfering in Venezuela. You can go here to do this--scroll down to just below where the representatives signed and click on "add your own comments." (A search for "add your own comments" works as well.) If you don't know why this is needed, read the text of the letter and/or go to the Narco News web site.
  2. Send an e-mail to your senators and representative asking them to add their names to the Kucinich letter.
  3. Send letters or e-mail to German leaders letting them know that there are lots of us here in America opposed to war in Iraq. Apparently W has been suggesting that German opposition to war is somehow "anti-American." Here are the addresses:
    • President Gerhard Schroeder
      Willy Brandtstr. 1
      11012 Berlin
      Germany
      internetpost@bundeskanzler.de

    • Foreign Minister Josef Fischer
      Auswärtigesamt
      Werderscher Markt 1
      10117 Berlin
      Germany
      poststelle@auswaertiges-amt.de

 
Two great comics from Kirk Waters of the Toledo Blade:




 
Bush girls gone wild! Only $19.95!
posted by Bob at 8:35 AM

Friday, December 13, 2002

 

Kissinger Quits 9/11 Inquiry!


This is definitely good news. I mean it was possible (and may have happened) that O'Neill, Lindsey, and even Harvey Pitt could have been replaced by people even worse. In Kissinger's case, this isn't possible, at least since Nixon died.

By the way, W, we do have a Nobel-prize-winning former president who would be excellent for the job.

[Later addition:] No, George, I don't mean your Dad. There's isn't a Nobel Prize for Being a Wuss. I'm talking about Jimmy Carter. I realize you were drunk through most of his presidency, but if you have the slightest interest in appearing fair in appointing the chairman of this committee (no sign of that yet, unfortunately), Carter would be ideal.


 
Bush's new economic advisor attacked by the right for being too much of a fiscal conservative:
Stephen Moore, president of a conservative lobbying group, the Club for Growth wasn't happy about Stephen Friedman's appointment since he was

a board member and donor to the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan group that has long annoyed White House officials by warning relentlessly about the danger of federal deficits.

"How in the world can he sell a program that he has never shown any inclination of believing in?" Mr. Moore asked on Tuesday on the Web site of the National Review. "The Concord Coalition represents the Chicken Little deficit-reduction myopia that was once the rage in the Republican Party."

Amazing: A Republican being attacked by other Republicans for being too fiscally conservative. But Friedman has promised to be a good "don't tax, then spend" Bushie.


 
The gift for someone who has everything--except brains: a talking George W. Bush doll.


According to the article, The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace ordered two cases but sold them out within days, said spokeswoman Arianna Barrios. Heaven forbid.


 
What is really behind this smallpox vaccination that the Bushies are pushing? Is there even a hint of a threat out there, or is it, as I suspect, something far more sinister? Smallpox was eradicated 25 years ago, and supposedly the only remaining viruses are at the CDC in Atlanta and in a secure lab in Russia. So is it the CDC or Bush's good buddy Pooty-poot who's going to attack us? Would there be any easier path to a highly targeted un-natural selection than a vaccination program? (Flag on lapel: gets green bottle. Peace button: gets red bottle.)
posted by Bob at 12:45 PM

 
Bush was campaigning on welfare money. By "on," I don't mean he was advocating increasing it (yeah, right), or even decreasing it. He was spending it! Because he babbled a little bit about welfare reform while campaigning for candidates trying to eliminate it, Bush decided he could get welfare to help pay for his trip:

On stealing from the poor to give to the rich: In an act of reverse Robin Hood effrontery, the president helped defray some of the cost of his nonstop campaigning with an accounting trick that allowed him to dip into the coffers of the Office of Family Assistance by piggy-backing campaign appearances onto trips ostensibly made to talk about welfare reform. That's right, money meant to assist poor families was used to help elect politicians who believe that, even with all the problems facing this country, cutting taxes for the rich should be job one. -- from Arianna Huffington.


 
In the Should Be None of Our Business department: U.S. Urges Early Elections in Venezuela.
posted by Bob at 11:49 AM

 
I've had a link to Cogent Provacateur in my list of blogs since I read some fine articles he wrote a few months ago. Then he disappeared from the blogiverse for a while, so I was thinking of replacing him on my list. Well, he's back! In this article he explains how John McCain is in an extremely powerful position at the moment, given Lott's troubles and the Landrieu victory in Louisiana. There's a chance that Republican senator Lincoln Chaffee might switch parties soon. The threat that McCain might go with Chaffee is what gives him the power. If both Chaffee and McCain switched, Democrats would be back in control of the Senate. Since the Democrats desire this and the Republicans fear it, both parties may be willing to do whatever McCain wants. Cogent Provacateur suggests that McCain may be able to pick senate leaders for BOTH parties. How about the seemingly reasonable Lugar or Shelby on the Republican side, and maybe Feingold for the Democrats? Anyhow, read CP's article; it's very interesting.
posted by Bob at 11:43 AM

 
Racism: Alive and Well in America. Employers were found to be 50% more likely to call applicants with typical white names than those with typical black names, even when the resumes were equivalent. From the NY Times, via Alas, a blog, who got it from CalPundit. I'll leave finding out how CalPundit found out about it up to you.
posted by Bob at 10:51 AM

 
No good coverup is complete without follow-through: According to the NY Times, the FAA is developing a system to avoid fuel tank explosions like the one that was blamed for the destruction of TWA 800 in 1996. The Times article mentions nothing of the hundred-plus eyewitnesses who saw a missile headed towards the 747 before the explosion or the massive secrecy surrounding the investigation. While there are certainly some conspiracy nuts out there, I've read enough about this one to believe that the plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. See twa800.com for a whole lot more.
posted by Bob at 9:52 AM

 
Here's some of Ted Rall's latest op-ed:
As Americans begin their third year of Supreme Court-ordered political occupation, Bush has just signed an impressive new executive order. You may be surprised to learn that it grants him the right to order your execution. No judge, jury or lawyer. No chance to prove your innocence. One stroke of Bush's pen, and bang--you're dead.

Not even your American citizenship, according to Bush, will save your life if and when he decides to kill you. The only reason you're reading this right now--instead of meeting the Entity Formerly Known as God--is that neither Bush nor one of his "high-level officials" has yet signed a piece of paper declaring you an "enemy combatant." Once they do the paperwork, Administration officials assert, they have the right to murder you.

Bush's secret assassination directive surfaced on Dec. 3, when reporters asked about the Nov. 3 Central Intelligence Agency rub-out of alleged Al Qaeda operatives riding in a car in Yemen. Langley fired a Hellfire missile from a remote-controlled Predator drone into the vehicle, blowing up several men. The CIA later discovered that an American citizen, Kamal Derwish, had inadvertently been killed in the inferno.

"No constitutional questions are raised here," asserted National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, stretching credulity more than usual. Officials claim that a loophole in Bush's order authorizing the CIA to "covertly attack Al Qaeda all over the world" validates Derwish's murder. Since this sneaky directive makes exception neither for Americans nor American soil, these guys say, you and I have no more rights than the now-deceased, not-presumed-innocent Kamal Derwish.


 

-- from Slowpoke.
posted by Bob at 9:07 AM

 

-- from Mike Thompson.
posted by Bob at 9:04 AM

 

-- from Boondocks.
posted by Bob at 9:02 AM

 
This one was predicted: U.S. officials believe Iraq's declaration of its weapons of mass destruction program omits many details about its program and is "far, far, far short" from being a complete report, according to one senior U.S. official. -- from CNN. In a few weeks, Iraq was told to document everything going on in the country that might possibly relate to chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. There was absolutely no possible way to do this, especially when you are being graded by someone who has already written an 'F' on your report card. Imagine how long it would take to prepare such a report in the US. Ashcroft would be blocking every Freedom of Information request, corporations would be screaming about confidentiality, and Cheney would be busy replacing every true statement with a lie. Even the never-ending "war on terror" would be done sooner. Even the investigation into the Wellstone crash. Florida might even have a fair election before that report ever saw the light of day.
posted by Bob at 8:54 AM

 
Feeling a little frustrated, as I am, about how things are going? Print out the "Smiling White Faces" picture below and pin it to your dartboard. Very therapeutic.
posted by Bob at 8:41 AM

 
Is it possible Bush is planning on taking on his entire "axis of evil" at once? CNN reports that "Iran has secretly been constructing large nuclear facilities -- sites that could possibly be used to make nuclear weapons." The US has also expressed concern over North Korea's restarting of a nuclear plant which has been closed for eight years. I've also been hearing rumors about possible military action against Iraq. Are we looking at another Bush trifecta?
posted by Bob at 8:39 AM

 
Of course there's never enough parking! If you gave everyone free pizza, would there be enough pizza? -- One of the great quotes from the book Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream. Here's more:

To what extent is automobile use a "free good? According to Hart and Spivak, government subsidies for highways and parking alone amount to between 8 and 10 percent of our gross national product, the equivalent of a fuel tax of approximately $3.50 per gallon. If this tax were to account for "soft" costs such as pollution cleanup and emergency medical treatment, it would be as high as $9.00 per gallon. [Probably a lot more if wars for oil are included--Bob] The cost of these subsidies--approximately $5000 per car per year--is passed directly on to the American citizen in the form of increased prices for products or, more often, as income, property, and sales taxes. This means that the hidden costs of driving are paid by everyone: not just drivers, but also those too old or too poor to drive a car. And these people suffer doubly, as the very transit systems that they count on for mobility have gone out of business, unable to compete with the heavily subsidized highways.


Thursday, December 12, 2002

 

Smiling White Faces



Funny, George doesn't seem too upset with Trent in this picture, taken the day after Lott's infamous remarks. The Washington Post report was the first I could find about Lott's remarks, and the article came two days after the fact. Lott's remarks were made at the party for Thurmond at the Capitol on Thursday; the next day, the Post reported on the party. It quoted Lott as telling Thurmond that his 89-year-old mother "has a crush on Strom," but makes no mention of the offending remark. Not until the next day, after the party at the White House, did the Post report the remarks.
posted by Bob at 11:33 PM

 
Blogger Overload: There is so much bad stuff going down today that there aren't enough hours in the day to rant about them. So I'll just present the headlines:
posted by Bob at 1:30 PM

 
The World Socialist Web Site on the seizure of the Iraq UN documents:
Anyone who believes that Washington would not stoop to forgery to make its case for war is ignorant of American history. In the last Persian Gulf War, the administration of Bush senior launched its attack after having claimed that satellite photos had shown a quarter of a million Iraqi troops massing on the Saudi border. In fact, the photos had clearly shown that Iraqi forces were already withdrawing from Kuwait. The resolution approving the US buildup in the Vietnam War was passed after government officials falsely claimed US Navy ships were subjected to an unprovoked attack by Vietnamese gunboats in the Gulf of Tonkin.

{Update, 10:15 AM EST} More from WSWS:
Among the material that is to be edited out of the declarations turned over to the temporary members of the Security Council are lists of weapons manufacturers which supplied the regime in Baghdad and government officials who negotiated these arms deals. This information would make it plain that government officials and corporations in both the US and Britain aided and abetted Iraq’s development of chemical and biological weapons programs when it was at war with Iran in the early 1980s. It is feared that such revelations would undercut the attempt to whip up hysteria over the alleged existence of such programs today.

 



 
From a NY Times editorial calling for Trent Lott to be replaced as Senate majority leader:
No one has put more effort than George W. Bush into ending the image of the Republican Party as a whites-only haven.

The sad thing is, it's probably true. Between Saddam bashings, fundraisers, vacations and naps, George has probably put in a solid half-hour's effort into improving the racial image of the Republican Party during the last two years, at least ten minutes longer than any other Republican.

But I'll admit, I still haven't cracked on the Lott issue. I asked my niece if she thought that I was too lenient on Lott when I said we should let this drop after he apologized, and she said I was. I mean, I'd love to see Lott gone, and the stuff he said was awful, but I still hate to see politicians afraid to say anything controversial in public. I mean, if he had been more careful in choosing his words, we would never have had this insight into his racist character. If he loses his job, the other racists in Congress will be much more careful about what they say, and they will be harder to spot. We should be interested in protecting free speech, and that means we should argue with people who say things we don't like, not fire them. Besides, Trent's statement easily wiped out George's half-hour of effort at improving the party's racial image. And who would they replace him with? Mitch McConnell, maybe?


Wednesday, December 11, 2002

 

Anti-personnel land mines. Aargh!


The Pentagon is preparing to use anti-personnel land mines in a war with Iraq, despite U.S. policy that calls for the military to stop using the mines everywhere in the world except Korea by 2003.

To prepare for a possible war with Baghdad, the Pentagon has stockpiled land mines at U.S. bases in countries ringing Iraq, according to Pentagon records. The decision to make the mines available comes despite a recent report by the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, concluding that their use in the 1991 Gulf War impeded U.S. forces while doing nothing to impair Iraqi forces. -- from USA Today.

Do you think maybe Bush's real goal is to be the worst war criminal of all time?

Feeling very, very frustrated and depressed right now. Our insane fuhrer is talking about using nukes and landmines against a country 6000 miles away which hasn't done us any harm and seems to be bending over backwards trying to avoid war. And polls still show the majority of Americans approve of this half-witted maniac. People who can't locate Iraq on a map but who are sure that Saddam is lying and that Iraq is a threat. People like Bush.
Sorry, frustration making me incoherent...random rants...neurons crossing...sparks flying...got to shut off the computer, go to bed, return to my ranting duties tomorrow.


 
Regarding the ship headed for Yemen that had Scud missiles on it: The Spanish Defense Ministry considers the vessel a "pirate ship" operating illegally.

Those Spaniards are quick learners! They use two warships to intercept an unarmed vessel on the high seas, take its cargo, and then accuse the victim of this piracy of being the pirate. Very Bushian, Spain!


 
I double-posted something and tried to remove it, but Blogger lets you change something but never delete it. Hmm...
posted by Bob at 3:08 PM

 
Some cool links:
From my new e-mail friend in Canada: From my niece in California: Men in Hats comic strip which rivals Red Meat for bizarreness. (Bizarresticity?) A sample:

George W. Bush as a boy, perhaps?


 
And another thing! (I remember thinking this last night, but somehow it escaped my Wolf Blitzer rant.) Wolf says "U.S. military forces have been called into action...to liberate Afghanistan from its Taliban and al Qaeda rulers." This convenient rewriting of history is almost complete--as I recall, the stated goal of the nasty Afghanistan campaign was to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, break up his organization, and prevent Afghanistan from being a haven for terrorists. The barely concealed reason sold to the public was revenge. The highly concealed reason was to establish a military presence in the area as a key to gaining control of Caspian oil and gas resources. Since Osama got away, al Qaeda seems to be as active as ever, and the Caspian oil and gas are still a pipeline dream due to the resurgence of the warlords, the story has been conveniently changed. According to the Bushies, and aided by spineless "journalists" like Wolf, the further destruction of the poorest country on earth was to "liberate" it from the Taliban and al Qaeda. My reading on the situation in Afghanistan is this: for the average Afghan citizen, not much has changed in 25 years, except who is trying to kill you. First it was the Russians, then the mujahadeen, then the warlords, then the Taliban, then the Northern Alliance, then the Americans, and now it's the warlords again. Afghanistan has been "liberated" pretty much the same way the World Trade Center was--kill lots of people and send the rest running, with just a pile of rubble left behind.
posted by Bob at 10:52 AM

 
Nuclear sabre rattling: The Bush administration is indicating that it may retaliate against any attack on US forces involving so-called weapons of mass destruction with nuclear attacks. This explains why they are so insistent on linking nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons together under the WMD label; they can claim that a nuke killing a million Iraqis is a proportionate response to a mustard-gas shell that kills 50 American soldiers. They hit us with WMD's, we hit them with WMD's. I'm all for the banning of all three kinds of weapons called weapons of mass destruction, but the label is pure nonsense. Many of our larger bombs, such as "daisy cutters" and J-DAM's, are capable of killing dozens or even hundreds of people at a time, so they certainly deserve the WMD label. Small chemical weapons like mustard gas artillery shells are almost certainly incapable of being so deadly unless used in large numbers, and when they are used on a wide scale their users run a significant risk of poisoning themselves. Most biological weapons would be largely useless on a battlefield: making your enemy sick a week from now doesn't do much to save your life right now. The weapons which are clearly in a league of their own are nuclear bombs: they destroy anything and everything within a huge radius of ground zero. Lumping chemical and biological weapons with nuclear weapons under the WMD label is highly deceptive and extremely dangerous, and this recent statement shows why.
posted by Bob at 10:25 AM

 
Here goes another hour or two of your life spent chuckling: http://www.markfiore.com/animation.html. I'll try to get you a charge number for this.
posted by Bob at 8:54 AM

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

 
Would a "Liberal Media" ask such a stupid question?
Wolf Blitzer on CNN starts his online commentary with this:

Over the past two decades, almost every time U.S. military forces have been called into action to risk their lives and limbs, it's been on behalf of Muslims, whether to assist the Afghan mujahadeen or freedom fighters during the Soviet invasion of the 1980s; to liberate Kuwait following the Iraqi invasion in 1990; to help Somali Muslims suffering at the hands of a warlord in Mogadishu; to help Muslims first in Bosnia and then in Kosovo who faced a Serb onslaught; or more recently, to liberate Afghanistan from its Taliban and al Qaeda rulers.

So why is the U.S. military despised by so many Muslims?

Well, for starters, it has a lot to do with the fact that Americans are so arrogant and naive as to ask such a ridiculous question. In the first Gulf War, Somalia and the recent war in Afghanistan, most of the people we killed were Muslims. The mujahadeen killed thousands, many of them Muslims, and helped to create the chaos in Afghanistan that made the Taliban possible. Many of these mujahadeen became the core of al Qaeda. I'll confess an unfortunate ignorance about the details of the Bosnia and Kosovo campaigns, but I think that it is safe to say that in none of these cases that Wolf mentions was the US fighting primarily "on behalf of Muslims." It was more protecting or grabbing for oil, maneuvering against the Soviets, or trying for whatever geopolitical benefits Clinton hoped to gain by intervening in Bosnia and Kosovo (again, I am fairly ignorant on that issue). To think that Muslims are going to thank us for stomping all over their holy lands in order to kill other Muslims is near Bushian arrogance.

Wolf goes on to say that the only possible reason he can find is our support for Israel in their subjugation of the Palestinians. He continues:

In the process, the United States gets virtually no credit for helping Muslims, and even when President Bush goes out of his way to express support for Muslims -- as he did the other day during a visit to a Washington mosque -- his actions are dismissed as window dressing.

Imagine that: George went all the way to Washington to visit a mosque, and those ingrate Muslims still aren't happy about our having tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of deadly aircraft stationed all over the middle east, ready to kill tens of thousands of Iraqis at a moment's notice. W's actions most certainly are (very cynical) window dressing, done knowing that media pawns like Wolf Blitzer will suggest that they are substantive policy which will address the legitimate grievances of a billion of the world's citizens.



 
It takes a while to run down the dirt on all of the sleazy Bush appointees, unless you have someone else do it for you! MaxSpeak lists the "qualifications and accomplishments" of John Snow, W's nominee to be the new Treasury Secretary. Here's just one of many items: Under an employment agreement signed last year, Snow may receive severance benefits worth millions of dollars if he left the company to "fulfill an appointment to public office." He's probably got a similar severance package for when he leaves Treasury, such as a place on the board of the Carlyle Group.
posted by Bob at 4:49 PM

 
"Honey, I paid to have a woman's hands chopped off in Sierra Leone so you could put this diamond on your hand." "Oh, darling, how wonderful of you!" Diamonds are Forever, and so are the deaths they finance.
posted by Bob at 3:56 PM

 
Surgeon General's Warning: The corn flakes you are eating may contain one or more of the following:

* AIDS vaccine gp120 -- a glycoprotein
* Blood-clotting agent -- Aprotinin
* Trypsin - Digestive enzyme that can be used in leather tanning or to produce insulin.
* Industrial adhesive Laccase -- an enzyme derived from a fungus

Biotech bonehead Prodigene Corporation has been testing genetically-modified (GM) corn which produces these products, and some of it has jumped the fence and gotten into commercial corn crops in Iowa and Nebraska. See Vegan Blog for details. Thanks to Polizeros for the link.


 
Trent Lott eats a little Jim Crow: In case you missed it (easy enough, given how the mainstream media ignored it), Lott made the following remark at Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party: "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years." The thing is, when Thurmond ran for president in 1948, the only plank in his platform was "segregation forever, equality never." So Lott's statement seems to say that the country would have been a lot better off with a blatantly racist president who would never have allowed civil rights legislation or school desegregation to happen. Now I'm probably willing to cut Lott a tiny bit of slack on this one: when you're attending a birthday party for some old coot, no matter how nasty he was, you feel a little compelled to say something nice about him. So Trent didn't think too clearly about implications and tried to come up with something nice to say about Thurmond (we've got to realize that that's a pretty difficult task), so he blurted out the nonsense quoted above. Besides, Trent says mean-spirited things just about every day which have a greater impact on people than this. However, I am glad that others, like Al Gore and Jesse Jackson, have jumped all over Lott. Last night, Lott apologized:

"A poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embraced the discarded policies of the past," Lott said in a statement. "Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement."

With that, I say, let it drop. There are lotts of good reasons to throw Lott out of the Senate, but I don't think that one retracted statement should be one of them. Public figures in the past twenty years or so have gotten into more trouble by saying one or two controversial sentences than they do by a lifetime of bribe-taking and shady dealing. Think of the German minister who compared Bush to Hitler, or Jimmy the Greek. While I agree that words do matter, by jumping on controversial statements we cause public figures either to talk in public without saying anything (Tom Daschle, for example), or not to talk in public at all (Dick Cheney). Better to question someone if he says something outrageous, and if he properly clarifies or apologizes, leave it at that.


 
Bush to pick William Donaldson to replace Pitt at SEC. Donaldson was one of the founding partners of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, a New York investment banking firm. The Times article doesn't give much background, except for this interesting tidbit: He served during 1975 as counsel to U.S. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Before that, he was U.S. undersecretary of state under Secretary Henry Kissinger from 1973 until 1975.

So I did a quick google search and came up with the following:

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, now a part of Credit Suisse First Boston, handled
at least one Enron partnership, Whitewing Management LLP. Jeanmarie
McFadden, a spokeswoman for Credit Suisse, declined to comment. Officials at
Lehman Brothers, J.P. Morgan Chase and Salomon Smith Barney, Citigroup's
securities unit, Deutsche Bank and CIBC also declined to comment.
-- from siliconinvestor.com.

High-flying risk takers

DLJ probably won't be offended if you call it junky - the firm has profited enormously from underwriting junk bonds (high-yield debt) at a time when other banks thought the category was dead for good. In fact, when the fiefdom of junk bond czar Michael Milken and Drexel Burnham Lambert imploded in 1991, DLJ zoomed in and scooped up Drexel's best and brightest, unlike other firms, who shied away from scandal. Today, DLJ is the perennial leader in junk bond underwriting. In 1999, the firm was No. 1 among all underwriters of high-yield debt, lead-underwriting $17.5 billion in junk bonds. -- from excite.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette is one company that turns the phrase “big business” into a totally inadequate understatement: they boast total capital of over $3.46 billion and total assets of over $55.56 billion. DLJ is involved in every facet of commercial finance endeavor ranging from investment banking to stock brokering to asset management to institutional equities to emerging markets to any other imaginable aspect of commercial financial operation. The many separate businesses that comprise DLJ fall into three groups: Financial Services, Capital Markets and Banking. -- from researchpapers.net.

Good pick, George. You're sure to restore confidence in the market by hiring Mr. Junk Bond (shaken and stirred).


Monday, December 09, 2002

 

Raising the bar on arrogance. Unbelievable!


Deputy Russian Ambassador Gennady Gatilov said the United States had taken the council's lone copy to Washington where it would make duplicates for distribution to the four other powerful council members. -- from the NY Times.

The US has the only copy of Iraq's report on weapons! Once again, the Bushies are just daring the rest of the world not to trust them. I sure don't. The US is supposed to make copies for the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council, while the other, non-permanent members get censored copies.

There are many amazing things about the Bush administration: its continual lack of concern for appearances may be the most amazing. They continually accuse others of actions that they themselves are clearly guilty of, they make statements that could easily be turned around against them, they are brash and arrogant, all apparently comfortable knowing that no major media outlet or world leader is going to point out the obvious. Taking the only copy of such an important document into private possession, even briefly, is so incredibly arrogant that it leaves me gasping. Even the slightest desire to appear honest and aboveboard would have led to the documents being immediately copied in the presence of representatives of all Security Council members, so that if any question arose over key passages that independent verification would be available. Also, I suspect that most Security Council members have better Arabic translators than the US does. Even if the Bushies are not blatantly criminal in altering the documents before copying them, this still leaves the possibility that they will select key passages from the documents to release to the press as reason to go to war before the other countries have an opportunity to review and possibly refute the US interpretation.

Update (about 9:40 PM EST; part above was posted about 4:30): the NY Times has clarified its article, sort of, so I'll try to clarify mine. Apparently, the inspectors still have the original document submitted by Iraq. The inspectors had originally intended to review the document for several days, possibly censoring certain sections of it, before releasing copies to Security Council countries. The Bushies, anxious to get their war on, didn't want to wait that long, so they pressured the inspectors into giving them a copy. As best as I can tell, the US is the only Security Council member that currently has a copy, but is supposed to make copies for the other four permanent Security Council members (Britain, France, Russia, China). The ten non-permanent SC members will only see edited versions at a later time.

It still seems, however, that the Bush administration will be reviewing the document in detail at the same time as the inspectors do, and before any other member of the security Council. While this probably removes any suspicion of actually altering the document, it still allows the administration to orchestrate the PR at a minimum. It also raises the possibility that they have been bluffing on having evidence, but can now use this document to "create evidence." For example, the Iraqis might state that at some location they have shells which formerly contained mustard gas, but from which the mustard gas and detonators have been removed. The administration can point the inspectors to that site, claiming that these shells are chemical weapons, since the gas and detonators could be replaced quickly. There might be traces of gas in the shells, and they could claim this as evidence as well. I don't know if this is actually the plan, but I'm certainly not the only one who is going to suspect it. The appearances are bad, and any "discoveries" of forbidden weapons will be tainted by suspicion, as opposed to if the inspectors had found the weapons without US orchestration.

So while I may have been overly alarmist, I think the basic premise is correct: the US is attempting to hijack the interpretation of the documents in order to go to war.


 
Judge rules that Cheney doesn't have to turn energy task force records over to GAO.
While I think that it is reprehensible and inexcusable for the Veep from the Deep to conduct important public business in secret, I also think that there is a proper response on the part of Congress: "We won't pass anything without knowing where it came from." And Cheney's energy plan speaks for itself: accelerated assault on the environment for the benefit of energy companies. So far, Congress hasn't passed much of it, and it should stay that way. Even more than most vice presidents, Cheney deserves to be ignored. And, as I've said before, if they won't tell you what you ask for, just assume the worst.
posted by Bob at 4:10 PM

 
The Navy knows which side its bread is buttered on: Presenting the USS George H.W. Bush nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which, along with the USS Ronald Reagan will soon be patrolling the waters of the world, changing regimes at will. Honoring the dishonorable: a longtime American tradition.
posted by Bob at 2:07 PM

 
Merry-go-round: Turkish government officials have indicated that their support for a war on Iraq may depend on the US helping Turkey gain admission to the European Union. (I guess the Miss World crown wasn't enough.) They suggest that Bush make a few phone calls, twist a few arms. How's this for a scenario? W makes the calls, and France, Germany and other EU countries agree to support Turkey's entry into the EU--on condition that Bush drop his Iraq war plans. With any luck, this would cause Bush's head to explode.
posted by Bob at 1:14 PM

 
The cost of a war in Iraq has been estimated at between $100 and $200 billion. How much is $100 billion?
(source)
That's leaving a whole lot of children behind so we can go kill other children.
posted by Bob at 1:03 PM

 
A few weeks ago, I quoted from an editorial that was in the Salt Lake Tribune (unfortunately, my link to the article doesn't work anymore). The author had an interesting prediction for what might happen if Mary Landrieu were re-elected to the Senate from Louisiana, which she was on Saturday.
Prediction: There is a 50-50 chance that McCain and Chaffee will switch parties and a similar chance that McCain will become the Democratic standard bearer in 2004.
It will be very interesting if this is correct, since it would give the Senate back to the Democrats again.
posted by Bob at 11:08 AM

 
Technical Difficulties: http://www.dubyadubyadubya.com/. Check it out! (Make sure your speakers are turned down low.)

Steve Osborn, a member of our Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace, posted the following reply to the "Technical Difficulties" animation:

"Technical difficulties" . . . I think there's some truth to that. Following closely the news, especially foreign news on public radio sources, I gain the impression that the Administration is HEARING the many criticisms, and for various reasons is now seeking (without saying so) to DELAY any war with Iraq, and to MINIMIZE any conflict that might take place. The UN, our Allies abroad, Arab nations, and certainly Iraq as well, are taking steps that amount to the same drive to delay and minimize any war. Surely the squabbles that will be developing over weapons inspections and questions about what they find will have that effect, too. To delay and minimize would be great opportunity for PEACE: just push those efforts farther, and it can amount to NO WAR at all. Only trouble is, it isn't really peace, either. But maybe it provides TIME during which real peace efforts can grow. Quote me, if it helps, from my recent letter-to-editor:

The US is certainly powerful enough to NOT LET SADDAM DRAG THE WORLD INTO WAR (as the President seems to imply when he says the choice is up to Saddam), regardless of the outcome of weapons inspections or arguments, or Saddam's games. Already the world's superpower, the US has the ability to get WHATEVER FUTURE WE MIGHT CHOOSE TO PREPARE FOR, with its power, great resources of diplomacy (if we'd use them) and reserves of good will still left for us in some parts of the world. So let's be preparing for peace to come, not war which no one wants and which even yet can be stopped, whatever Saddam's choice might be. Let's claim the choice for peace as OURS to make.

I think Steve may have a point: The Iraqis have said that they don't have WMD's, and the war hasn't started yet, so far as I've heard. Is it possible that W could be smart enough to declare victory at this point and bring the troops home? Use some of that old Dubyatalk, such as: "Since Mr. Saddam Hussein has decided to change his evil ways and disclose these disclosures, I think it is a sign that the regime change has changed. This was what we were goaling for all along." I doubt it, but if so, that's great.


Sunday, December 08, 2002

 
Adding on to secure, undisclosed location? Bunker-buster tests? Cheney's dinner didn't agree with him? Secret explosions occuring at the Veep from the Deep's mansion. The Post said neighbors have several theories about what the project might involve. One is that the government is building a security bunker for Cheney. Another is that it is digging tunnels to spy on nearby embassies. Still another is that a helicopter hangar is being built.

posted by Bob at 11:02 PM

 
ACLU anti-Ashcroft TV ad! View it here, requires Real Player.
posted by Bob at 8:28 PM

 
Less than two weeks after Thanksgiving, Miss Turkey becomes Miss World. Do you think is one of those "behind the scenes" things that the Bushies did to get Turkey's support for war on Iraq? I think it's possible, although she is very pretty.

I refuse to comment on whether the founders of any major religions would consider marrying her. I will say, however, that Jesus wouldn't drive at all--he'd take the bus!


 
Ten Reasons for Hope, from Bernard Weiner. Mostly based on the hope that more and more people will come to the realization that "this time Bush has gone too far."
posted by Bob at 12:41 AM

 
'Compelling evidence' of global warming.
posted by Bob at 12:26 AM

 
The water showdown begins, and it doesn't look like tax cuts are going to solve this problem. According to this article California's share of Colorado river water is going to be cut back significantly at the end of the year:

Assistant Interior Secretary Bennett Raley told the Imperial Irrigation District Thursday that his office is determined to reduce the state's overuse of Colorado River water quickly so other Western states can get their full entitlement. "I'm not here to tell you what to do," he said. "But doing nothing is not an option. The (Interior) secretary is going to enforce the law of the river."

Southern California must quickly decide how to allocate the water between the farmers of the Imperial valley and the industries and residents in the LA/San Diego area. I remember driving across the desert in California years ago where the highway parallels the aqueduct which carries water from the Colorado River to LA. There must be huge losses to evaporation in that high-temperature, low-humidity environment. I'm not familiar with the whole history there, but the politics behind such a massive subsidization of one area over another must have been, and continue to be, incredible. The sheer arrogance required to take on such a massive engineering project to benefit one location at the expense of another is staggering. I am reminded of the story of the Chicago River, which back around 1890 used to flow through Chicago and into Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, the river served as the main sewer for Chicago, which fouled up the Lake Michigan water that Chicagoans were drinking and trying to swim in. Rather than treat the sewage properly or come up with a reasonably environmentally sound plan, Chicago decided to reverse the flow of the river! With a lot of digging they were able to connect the Chicago River to the Des Plaines river a few miles inland. The Des Plaines flows to the Illinois river, and eventually to the Mississippi. So rather than have their sewage wash up on their own beaches, it now flowed the other way, down to Peoria (which had far fewer representatives in the Illinois legislature than did Chicago). To some extent I find large engineering projects to be fascinating, but many, maybe most, have been done strictly to benefit some powerful group of people at the expense of some other, less powerful group, not to mention the environment. Dams flood some areas to benefit others; freeways destroy cities to benefit suburbs; and aqueducts take water from where it was supposed to be to where those in power want it.

People have poured lots of money into developing both the cities of southern California and the agriculture of the Imperial valley. They're not likely to give up what they've built without a fight. This is going to be real ugly, and those of us in states that have adequate water have to be ready for states that don't trying to take it from us.

As usual, when it comes to water issues, Politics in the Zeroes is the place to go for more information.


Saturday, December 07, 2002

 
I just watched the HBO movie "Live From Baghdad" about CNN's coverage of the (first) Gulf War culminating in the live reporting during the first night's bombing by Bernard Shaw. Peter Arnett, and John Holliman. Pretty well done, I'd say. Michael Keaton did a good job playing a brash CNN director in this apparently close-to-the-facts movie. Hopefully there won't be a need for a sequel.
posted by Bob at 11:40 PM

 
Excellent Op-Ed from USA Today (thanks to Sanjay for sending me the link). Excerpts:

Imagine a place where in two short years a budget surplus has been magically transformed into a deficit. A place where millions of people are jobless, many of them laid off in the past 24 months. Homelessness is steadily increasing, millions of children go to bed hungry and terrorists have recently attacked, killing thousands. Then imagine that this country's king decides to deny government workers scheduled raises and new government workers civil service protection, but confers upon the appointed members of his court bonuses of up to $25,000. This is the America we all live in.
...
As so many of us struggle to make ends meet, afraid that it may be our job eliminated in the next round of layoffs, Bush is using our tax dollars to award his political appointees, many of whom already make more than $100,000 a year. Exactly what have they done so well? Couldn't be the economy, justice system, environment, equal protection. The administration says many of those rewarded are involved in counter-terrorism activities. Funny; I haven't been able to find one person who feels safer now than he or she did a year ago.



Friday, December 06, 2002

 

Ari says size doesn't matter


From CNN: Mohammed Aldouri, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, said the report will contain a "very huge" amount of information as demanded by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, adopted unanimously in November, calling for Iraq to disclose its weapons of mass destruction programs and to disarm.

It will have "all the information they need," Aldouri said Friday.

But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer reiterated the Bush administration's warning not to trust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who he said has a proven record of lying to the United Nations.

"Sometimes one of the best ways to hide or to deceive is to come out with such a voluminous document that it makes people miss the things that aren't in there," he said. "Just because Iraq turns over a phone book to the United Nations doesn't mean that nobody inside Iraq has an unlisted phone number."

"We won't be fooled ... into thinking that the size alone dictates that Iraq has complied," Fleischer said.

Ari knows whereof he speaks. Much of the repressive crap in the USA Patriot Act went unread and unnoticed until it was too late. Most people in Congress didn't read it before voting for it. An excellent way to hide and deceive, two of the very few things that the Bush administration is good at.


 
Bay area Sierra Club chapters join Utah in disagreeing with the national board's stance on war.
posted by Bob at 1:34 PM

 

'Tis the Season for some New Words to Old Tunes


Jingle Bells
Spread out through the fields
Where tiny children play
Some blow up right now
Others hide in prey
Where they’ll all end up
The pilots never know
But one thing seems for certain that
One day those bombs will blow. Hey!

Cluster bombs, cluster bombs,
Cluster bombs away
Oh how sick it is to drop
The cluster bombs that way, Oh!
Cluster bombs, cluster bombs,
Cluster bombs away
Kids will die or lose an eye
So George can have his way.

We Three Kings
We three kings of Washington are
Bearing bombs and tanks from afar
Killing, maiming, regime cha-a-nging
So we can drive our cars. Oh-oh…

Cars to work and cars to school
Cars to go to swimming pools
Cars polluting, drive-by shootings
SUV-driving fools.

We are Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush
We have all the buttons to push
Mass destruction, re-election
By kicking Saddam’s tush. Oh-oh…

Cars to shop in, cars for love
Cars to run down peacenik doves
Oil guzzling, global sizzling
All for the cars we love.

Little Drummer Boy
Here they come again kaboom-ba-boom-boom!
B-52’s again kaboom-ba-boom-boom!
They carpet bomb again kaboom-ba-boom-boom!
Knock out our water again kaboom-ba-boom-boom!
We’ll drink sewage again kaboom-ba-boom-boom!
This is our doom.

The First Noel
The first Gulf War the president did say
Unto gullible media like the heads on Today
That Saddam was a threat and must be put away
So they bombed and they killed but Saddam’s there today
Gulf War, Gulf War, Gulf War, Gulf War
Does anyone know what we really fight for?

And now, in the White House, there’s a new Bush at play
He says the same crap about Saddam Hussein
That he’s evil that he’s bad that he threatens us all
That more Iraqis must die so we can have their oil
Gulf War, Gulf War, Gulf War, Gulf War
Does anyone know what we really fight for?

Twelve Days of Christmas
On the 12th day of Christmas my government gave to me:
12 months in jail
11 degrees warming
10 less amendments
9 crappy judges
8 more toxins
7 unlawful combatants
6 GMO’s
FIVE BRAND-NEW WARS!
4 01 k’s
3 Henry K’s
2 jobs left
and a Department of Homeland Security!


 
Trent Lott is blocking the 9/11 victims' family members' choice for a Republican representative on the commission investigating the terror attacks, according to the New York Times. The family members, with the support of Republican senators McCain of Arizona and Shelby of Alabama, are requesting that former New Hampshire senator Warren Rudman fill one of the five Republican slots on the commission. They feel that Rudman is independent enough to avoid pressure from the White House on key votes in the commission and would be willing to vote with the five Democrats. Apparently Lott agrees, and doesn't want that to happen. I think he's afraid that the commission will subpoena the president and ask him the dreaded question: "What do you know, and when will you ever know it?"
posted by Bob at 10:06 AM

 
From an article about the Norwalk virus on cruise ships:

Last month, 150 people became ill from Norwalk infections after eating in a Salt Lake City restaurant called the Chuck-A-Rama.

If you eat at a place called "Chuck-A-Rama," what do you expect?


 
Ted Rall calls George W. Bush a liberal, in that he is changing things very quickly. W ran as a "compassionate conservative," which couldn't be farther from the truth. One good point that Rall makes is that W is actually raising taxes for most Americans: The budget crises facing almost every state and local government in the country will result in higher taxes at those levels. And most state income and sales taxes are flat rate, not progressive, so these affect poor and middle-class people as much as rich people, while W's federal tax cut went mainly to the rich.
posted by Bob at 12:04 AM

Thursday, December 05, 2002

 
Just in case you haven't noticed, our president is a blithering idiot.
"For the sake of peace, he must disarm. There are inspectors inside the country now and the inspectors are there not to play a game of hide and seek. They're there to verify whether or not Mr. Saddam Hussein is going to disarm," the president said. -- from AP.

Funny, I thought they were there to inspect for weapons. I have been opposed to war with Iraq for several reasons: The casualties it will cause to Iraqis and to our military personnel, the possibility that it will spill into a larger war, the likely increase in terrorism, the continued overuse of automobiles made possible by US control of Gulf region oil fields, the blatant deception and hypocrisy of the Bushies (claiming it is part of the war on terror, attacking Iraq when Pakistan is more dangerous and Saudi Arabia more guilty), the renewed brain-dead jingoism of the American public, and probably a couple of other reasons I can't recall now. But there is one additional reason climbing my list which I should probably be ashamed of, but I don't seem to be right now. Bush wants this war so bad that he is going to cry if he doesn't get it. And I really, really, really want him to cry.


 
Bob's fearless prediction: Remember how Harvey Pitt announced his resignation at about 7 pm on election day? I predict that his replacement as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission will be announced on the same day as the war against Iraq starts for real. (If we peaceniks somehow stop it, Pitt will remain at SEC at least until the next election day.) And it's going to be bad, very bad. Rudy Giuliani? Jeffrey Skilling? Donald Trump? Jack Welch? Michael Milken? Neil Bush? What's Charles Keating up to these days? After the Kissinger thing, I wouldn't rule out any of them. And because of the war, it won't be front page news anywhere, and it won't even make the crawl on CNN or FoxNews.
posted by Bob at 12:56 PM

 
Calling up the reserves! "Activating reserves is significant because it will affect every community in America, and it sends a signal that the president is serious," a senior military official said. Let's see a show of hands: Anyone who has thought at any time in the past ten months that George Worthless Bush isn't serious about going to war with Iraq?

posted by Bob at 12:45 PM

 
While I'm a member, I've had my doubts about the Sierra Club for a while. Their glossy magazine often features articles on fuel-guzzling adventures to Nepal or Siberia, and at one of our local group meetings a member described his recent kayak trip in Greenland. He flew to Iceland and hired a pilot to fly him to Nowhere Fjord on the edge of Nothing province in frigging Greenland. I saw his slides: there is NOTHING in Greenland, and he wasted a lot of fuel to confirm it. The Sierra Club continually compromises on important environmental issues, taking a "moderate" stance against radical right-wing corporations and government officials. The result is that the environment gets ruined ever so slightly slower than it would have without Sierra Club input. If we're lucky. Now, the Sierra Club is threatening to kick out its Utah chapter for taking a stance opposed to war in Iraq!

I get letters asking me to join liberal/humanitarian/environmental groups and/or contribute money daily. I give money to lots of them, but I think the Sierra Club will be left out next time. No group can say it is protecting the environment if it doesn't oppose war. Thanks to Polizeros for the link.


 
WSWS raises questions about the bombing and missile attack in Kenya. One interesting point is that the Israeli airliner may have been equipped with anti-missile decoys and used them, explaining why it escaped. This also raises the question of who actually was responsible, since Bush and Sharon have been quick to link the attack to al Qaeda in a fairly obvious attempt to link the US "war on terrorism" with the Israeli war with the Palestinians. The article leads into all sorts of dark corners, such as allegations that Israel's Mossad intelligence service had framed Libya in the bombing of a disco in Berlin in 1986, which led to US retaliation against Libya, which was supposedly the motive for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Scottland in 1988. I chased that trail a ways, and a Time Europe article suggests that more likely had Iranian, Lebanese, or Syrian roots than it did Libyan, and that a CIA hostage-release team on the flight may have been the main target. I wish I had more time to chase this stuff down! The general impression I get is that most of what we "know" about world events is propaganda from the CIA, Mossad, and who knows who else. US attacks on Grenada, Libya, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq again all seem to be facts, but the real reasons for them are hidden in a deep fog far removed from the stated reasons.
posted by Bob at 11:08 AM

 
W's Christmas wish: from Mike Thompson.
posted by Bob at 10:54 AM

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

 
Congress Rewards Corporate Tax Evaders With Our Money: Arianna Huffington (which would be a great name for a character in a children's book) spotlights the provision of the Gestapo (aka Homeland Security) bill which allows corporations that have moved their headquarters offshore to avoid taxes to bid for Homeland Security contracts.
posted by Bob at 4:20 PM

 
NAFTA = DEATH

NAFTA-required tariff reductions in January will put many thousands of Mexican farmers out of business. They will be forced to compete with US agribusinesses producing cheap food supported by direct Federal subsidies and indirect subsidies from artificially cheap water and oil. Of course, once Mexican farmers are out of business, the US firms will be able to raise the prices while still enjoying the subsidies. Many more Mexicans will be competing for the low-wage jobs in the maquiladoras along the US border, lowering costs for US-based industry even further. The whole process is brutal and ultimately unsustainable, but as long as profits for the next few quarters look good, neither the corporations nor their lackeys in the Senate and the Bush administration seem to care.
posted by Bob at 3:51 PM

 
News on Padilla isn't that good after all:
U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey ruled that supposed (rumored? alleged?) "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla can finally meet with lawyers. But he also said that the president's "commander in chief" hat and a few precedents from World War II trump the bill of rights when it comes to our liberties:
"The president ... has both constitutional and statutory authority to exercise the powers of commander in chief, including the power to detain unlawful combatants, and it matters not that Padilla is a United States citizen captured on United States soil,'' Mukasey wrote. -- from the NY Times.

Judge Mukasey was appointed to the District court by President Reagan in 1987. He has been involved in many of the secret detention cases since 9/11.


 
Russia and India oppose unilateral action and threats
Russia and India have supported efforts to ensure Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction but have expressed concern about possible U.S. military action. Putin and Vajpayee, in a wide-ranging joint declaration, urged efforts to spur Iraq to cooperate with international inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction. "Both sides strongly oppose unilateral use or threat of use of force in violation of the U.N. charter as well as interference in the internal affairs of other states,'' they said. "A comprehensive settlement of the situation...is possible only through political and diplomatic efforts in strict conformity with the rules of international law and only under the aegis of the United Nations.'' -- from Reuters via NY Times.

Hey George, those are two REALLY BIG countries with plenty of weapons of mass destruction. Both are far more concerned about another WMD club member, Pakistan, than they are about a few barrels of mustard gas that Saddam might have hiding under his bed. Both clearly have their own agendas and are happy to use your "war on terrorism" nonsense to support the suppression of rebels within their borders, but you are playing with serious fire if you ignore what these countries have to say.


 
Kick 'em while they're down. This is probably the start of Michael Moore's next movie: The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is withdrawing most of the $1.3 million in Community Development Block Grants for Flint, saying they didn't file paperwork on time. If you've seen Moore's films "Roger and Me" and "The Big One" then you know that Flint has been devastated in the last twenty years by the departure of most of the General Motors factories in the city. GM moved the plants not because they weren't making money in Flint, but because they could make even more in Tennessee, Texas, Mexico, and elsewhere with cheap non-union labor. These moves have been aided and abetted by the "free-trade" policies of the Reagan, Clinton, and both Bush administrations, with no regard for the well-being of the people of Flint. Now the small amount of Federal aid to the many poor people in Flint is being cut. Compassionate conservative, my ashcroft.
posted by Bob at 11:55 AM

 
Federal Court says Padilla can meet with lawyers. You can bet that Ted Olson and the Constitution Demolition Crew will be immediately appealing this decision, enabling them to keep so-called "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla locked up without rights for a few more months. To review the case: Padilla, a US citizen, was arrested in May in Chicago, and has been held without charges or access to lawyers since then in a Navy brig.
posted by Bob at 11:45 AM

 
Cartoons you won't see here: Any of the thousands of stupid drawings showing a smiling Saddam Hussein leading dumb-looking UN inspectors past poorly-disguised rockets and barrels. Frankly, as a deceiver George W. Bush is much more adept than Saddam, and as a dupe the US public is much more gullible than the UN inspectors. So all you right-wing cartoonists can draw your own conclusions without me.
posted by Bob at 11:36 AM

 

--Dan Wasserman of the Boston Globe
posted by Bob at 11:31 AM

 

from Joe Heller in Green Bay.
posted by Bob at 11:11 AM

 

from Mike Peters of Dayton.
posted by Bob at 11:00 AM

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

 
Turning the tables on Poindexter: SF Weekly's Matt Smith suggests that people use their sources to look closely into the lives of Admiral John Poindexter, his wife and neighbors, to make a point about Poindexter's office of "Total Information Awareness" in the Pentagon. This site follows through with detailed maps locating Poindick's house and names and phone numbers for his neighbors.


I think maybe similar attention is due to some of the others who are making America a scarier place to live: Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Ted Olson, Michael Powell, Henry Kissinger, etc. Maybe we buy them gift memberships in the socialist and communist parties, give donations to Islamic charities in their names, subscribe them to radical publications, etc. Maybe create web pages that link their names with al Qaeda, terrorism, Iraq, and so on. Nothing illegal or false, just an attempt to make their names show up in google searches or in all sorts of strange places in the "Total Information Awareness" databases. A web page that says simply "Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Ted Olson, Michael Powell and Henry Kissinger are probably not members of al Qaeda, nor are they working for the government of Iraq." Place a few hundred thousand such pages all over the Internet and many searches for "al Qaeda" or "Iraq" will mention their names. Hey, this blog is a start!

On the flip side, our best protection from TIA is probably not in trying to hide but in trying to be overly visible. Don't be afraid to check out library books on Islam or ones which have a radical message: just check out a lot of them, and throw in some right-wing crap (Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson) and some off-the-wall stuff from time to time. You don't have to read it--just drop it in the book return on your way out of the library. Find a right-wing website and click on all of the links, following their links. Again, you don't have to read the crap, but anyone reviewing where you've been on the web will be confused. (Well, he visited "Bob's Links and Rants" forty-seven times, so he's probably a left-wing pinko, but then again he visited "George W. Bush is God" fifty-one times, so maybe he's okay.) Make investigating YOU a difficult and tedious task.

This is really more an idea I'm throwing out there rather than a suggestion: what do you think? Are we better off paying cash for everything, web surfing anonymously on public computers only, and in general making ourselves as invisible as possible? Or do we follow my idea above and make ourselves so visible in so many ways that we overload their system, making any attempt to figure us out from their databases difficult? Or just go on as we have been and take our chances that we don't get that knock on the door at 3 am or have our lives otherwise destroyed by the new Gestapo?


 
Ann Arbor News article on the Anti-War Resolution.
posted by Bob at 1:06 PM

 
Hillary worried about SAM's: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton sent letters to Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and NY Governor George Pataki asking for increased security against portable surface-to-air missiles like those fired at an Israeli airliner in Kenya last week. The CNN article also quotes James Kallstrom, director of New York State's Office of Public Security, about SAM security issues.

This is bizarre, to say the least. A SAM was most likely to blame for the explosion of TWA 800 in 1996, regardless of what the FBI said. The FBI's investigation was headed by none other than James Kallstrom, and the conclusions it reached were based much more on political pressure from the Clinton administration than on evidence which included over 100 eyewitnesses who saw something like a missile heading toward the plane shortly before it exploded. I also think that a SAM is one of the most likely causes of the crash of American flight 587 in November 2001. Of course, al Qaeda probably has access to plenty of Stinger SAM's that we provided them back in the '80's when we called them "freedom fighters" instead of "terrorists." In reality, their methods haven't changed, only their targets.


 
We're headline news on Common Dreams! Ann Arbor's passage of an anti-war resolution is the top story on the Common Dreams website today.

That's my knee behind the crossed-legs-with-boots holding the sign.
posted by Bob at 10:49 AM

Monday, December 02, 2002

 
Washington Post accuses Ashcroft of breaking the law:
Today, at the Justice Department, some laws are more equal than others. One 36-year-old U.S. law can be broken, it seems. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who is sworn to enforce all laws, has told federal employees that they can bend -- perhaps even break -- one law, and he will even defend their actions in court. That law is known as the Freedom of Information Act. -- from the Washington Post.

This secrecy crap is all nonsense. The government insists that its intrusions into personal privacy shouldn't bother people who "have nothing to hide," but then Ashcroft and the other Bush Obscurians try to hide all of the public's business from the public. They claim the information could be of use to terrorists: it would probably be of much more use to the public in preventing terror attacks. It's our information--give it to us! Ashcroft may well be the scariest "human" being since Hitler. (And don't tell me to tone down the hyperbole--I already did! I was tempted to say Ashcroft is the scariest person ever, period.)


 
Bush and Cheney have itchy trigger fingers. "In the inspections process, the United States will be making one judgment: Has Saddam Hussein changed his behavior of the last 11 years? Has he decided to cooperate willingly and comply completely, or has he not? So far the signs are not encouraging," the president said. -- from the NY Times. I'm losing track, but wasn't the goal two weeks ago to "disarm" Saddam? And a month or two ago it was regime change. Now it's "change his behavior." The excuses change constantly: what Bush wants doesn't. It was war then, it is war now. Whatever Saddam does or doesn't do hasn't and won't affect this in the slightest. Only political resistance here at home has delayed the war until now, and only a huge resistance effort can stop it now. Get your city council to join Ann Arbor in passing a resolution. Go to a protest march. Write congress--again. Start your own blog. Do whatever you can to stop the madness here and now.

posted by Bob at 10:55 PM

 

Good News!!!!


Ann Arbor just became the 22nd city in the nation to pass a resolution opposing war in Iraq. I just returned from the city council meeting where the resolution was passed by a 7-1 vote. I was one of probably 50 people from the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace there supporting the council. Newly-elected council member Kim Groome, for whom I campaigned (thank you very much), was a co-sponsor of the resolution. I'm an Ann Arborite and proud of it!!

There was some discussion as to whether this was an appropriate action for a local government to take. The general opinion was that it is a local issue since taxes from Ann Arbor which go for war will not come back to benefit Ann Arbor; that Ann Arborites who serve in the armed forces may be casualties of the conflict; and that the possible increase in terrorist attacks resulting from the war may impact here as well. The resolution was worded as support for our congressional delegation, Senators Levin and Stabenow and Representatives Rivers and Dingell, all of whom voted against the Iraq war resolution in October. No opposition to the resolution was expressed from the public, and even the one council member who voted against it said he basically agreed with what it said but did not feel that it was an appropriate local issue.


 
As we recover from Thanksgiving feasts, we should recall the true meaning of Thanksgiving: military victory, commercialism, and football. See this article to find out how much your teachers lied to you about this gluttonous holiday. An excerpt:

The Confederate Congress proclaimed separate thanksgiving observations in July 1861 and again in September 1862, after the First and Second Battles of Bull Run. And it wasn't just the South. President Lincoln similarly set aside days of thanksgiving in April 1862 and August 1863 to commemorate the important Union victories at Shiloh and Gettysburg. These ad hoc decrees fell in some cases on Sundays (a common day for religious observance) and in other cases on Thursdays. Lincoln declared yet another Thanksgiving Day in 1863, for the last Thursday in November—and it has been celebrated annually in late November ever since. In his proclamation he drew attention to affairs both national and international:

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

It was not until 1931, when President Herbert Hoover made his proclamation, that any of the presidential declarations of thanksgiving mentioned the Plymouth Pilgrims and the 1621 harvest festival as a precursor to the modern holiday. By this time, yet another willfully amnesiac reinvention of Thanksgiving was under way.


 
Good article on growing anti-war movement from the Washington Post.

Many of those speaking out against an attack on Iraq represent large numbers of Americans, including John J. Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO (with 13 million members); the National Council of Churches (which represents 36 Protestant and Orthodox denominations, with 50 million members); and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (the leadership arm of 65 million Roman Catholics).


 
We're Number One!
RESOLVED AGAINST PATRIOT ACT
Eugene, Oregon is the 15th local government in the United States to pass a resolution opposing the USA Patriot Act.
1. Ann Arbor, Mich.
2. Denver
3. Amherst, Mass.
4. Leverett, Mass.
5. North Hampton, Mass.
6. Cambridge, Mass.
7. Carrboro, N.C.
8. Boulder, Colo.
9. Madison, Wis.
10. Berkeley, Calif.
11. Alachua County, Fla.
12. Takoma Park, Md.
13. Santa Fe, N.M.
14. Santa Cruz, Calif.
15. Eugene

And tonight, Ann Arbor will hopefully become the 22nd city to pass a resolution opposing war in Iraq. The Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace will have a large contingent at the City Council meeting to help the council members decide how to vote.


 
Politics in the Zeros ideas for peace:
  1. Help create a Palestinian homeland that all the players can live with. Note I said "help create", not "force everyone with the barrel of a gun". There will be no peace in the Mideast until there is a Palestinian homeland. If we genuinely work towards this goal, and mean it, we defuse huge amounts of tension and hostility.
  2. Price gas at $4-5 a gallon. Europe already does this. Use the money to move as fast as possible to high mpg cars and renewable energy. That way we won't need outside oil nearly as much. Plus we will no longer have a reputation for being energy pigs.
  3. Stop sticking our nose in everyone's business. North Korea has nukes? Let China deal with it - if they choose to. They are next to North Korea and have far more at stake than us. It is not our problem. China has been around several thousand years more than us. I'm guessing they can deal with it. Maybe better than we can.
  4. Repeat the above logic for the multitude of other countries we insist on telling what do to. If they need help, let them ask. Then be helpful, not imperial.
  5. Apologize for the blind idiocy of our foreign policy that has aliented most of the planet.



 
Thirteen die in Michigan Terrorist Attack. Whoops, sorry, that would be front-page national news. Thirteen people shot by sniper in Michigan. Sorry, wrong again. That too would make headlines. At least 13 killed in holiday crashes statewide. Yeah, that's the story. It's a minor story on the Ann Arbor News and Detroit Free Press web sites, and there is nothing to be seen about the nationwide auto carnage from the weekend on the CNN or NY Times websites. The nationwide death toll must have been in the hundreds--probably about the same as the death toll from Bali, Kenya, the snipers, and the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon combined, but it doesn't rate as a news story because it happens all the time. And "Gulf War II: This Time It's For Oil (Again)", if "successful" will enable this carnage to continue for a few more years by keeping gasoline prices low.
posted by Bob at 12:00 PM

 

Got Crap?




Shoppers like these did their best to negate the effects of "Buy Nothing Day" efforts, supporting the global economy of pollution, waste, and exploitation. Way to go, ladies. Save those bags--you'll be hauling most of that crap out to the curb in a few weeks, about the time the bills arrive. CNN refers to the Friday after Thanksgiving as "Black Friday." They don't say why, but apparently a whole lot of crap went out the doors on this most recent Black Friday.


 
More red meat: Back in March, Paul Krugman quoted an environmentalist who said that the push to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was "red meat for the right." That is, the benefits of drilling, even for the oil companies, are minimal, but the Bushies push for it just to piss off environmentalists for the enjoyment of right-wingers. You've got to believe this was one of the main reasons for selecting Henry Kissinger to chair the 9/11 investigation.
posted by Bob at 11:21 AM

 
They did not die in vain: Ted Rall's tribute to 9/11 victims.
posted by Bob at 10:53 AM

Sunday, December 01, 2002

 
Last things first: The Hyatt Kabul, backed by your tax dollars (including terrorism insurance). Thanks to Politics in the Zeros for the link.
posted by Bob at 11:40 PM

 
Another item not to buy: bottled water. Huge multinational corporations like Vivendi, Suez (both French), CocaCola and Pepsi are using their obscene profits from bottled water to fund their quests to privatize the world's water. Pepsi's Aquafina and Coke's Dasani brands are basically filtered tap water with a few chemicals added, and are not necessarily cleaner or safer than tap water. Their prices, however, are sometimes 10,000 times that of tap, and their packaging contributes to pollution in both its manufacture and disposal. If your tap water tastes bad or seems unsafe, work the local system to improve it, buy a filter or boil it if you have to, but don't give your money to companies that want to monopolize control of the world's water. (Source: Blue Gold, a book by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke.) Companies like Monsanto, Cargill, ConAgra and Archer-Daniels-Midland want to control the world's food supply, and the four corporations mentioned above, along with a few others, want complete control over our water. If they control our food and our water, they control us. The Bush administration is doing everything it can, which is a lot, to assist these monsters. We must make sure that we don't aid them by buying their bottled water. (I'm going to have to give up my Diet Coke addiction, too, which will be much harder for me than giving up meat was.)
posted by Bob at 11:32 PM

 
If you want to get to the bottom of something, you don't appoint Henry Kissinger. If you want to keep others from getting to the bottom of something, you appoint Henry Kissinger. -- Maureen Dowd's latest column. I guess I feel the same way about this as I do about Veep from the Deep Cheney's refusal to turn over information about his energy plan task force. If they are this intent on hiding the facts, they must be bad. Let's just assume the worst, get on with the impeachments, and re-ratify the Constitution.

By the way, by "assume the worst," here's what I mean: "Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, since you have refused to provide us with any information regarding your 'energy task force' or your actions/inactions prior to 9/11/01 which may have contributed to the loss of almost 3000 lives, we will assume that the 'energy task force' consisted of the two of you, Ken Lay of the Enron Corporation, and Osama bin Laden of the al Qaeda organization. We assume that you met to plan the attacks of 9/11 as a means to establish a massive US military presence in southwest Asia and the Middle East in order to control the massive quantities of oil and natural gas in the region, and as a way to restrict civil rights in this country and gain complete political control. Now, we don't know these things to be facts, but given the massive coverup of information that should be public that you have undertaken ever since you arrived in Washington, this scenario seems as likely as any other. You have one week to produce every document that we have asked for and to open up the file cabinets at the White House and the Pentagon. Otherwise, we will start impeachment proceedings and begin preparing for criminal and civil actions as well. So what are you waiting for! Run! Go get those documents and bring them here! NOW!"


Saturday, November 30, 2002

 
Parallel Legal System: The Bushies are apparently formalizing the "enemy combatants" system for disappearing people they don't like. Once again, Ted Olson is at the center of it, arguing that if the president says so that certain people, even American citizens, have no rights at all. Decades, even centuries of laws, protections and procedures have been overturned in less than two years thanks to our un-elected president and his useful sidekick Osama bin Laden.
posted by Bob at 11:38 PM

 
They've gone too far this time! If there's anything that's more of a sign of the decay of our culture than the latest "fad" toys like "Tickle Me Elmo" it's the "Chicken Dance," the basically obscene flapping and wiggling spasm which seems to be a favorite of thinness-challenged women at sporting events. Now Fisher-Price says: "Let's do both!"

That's right--it's "Chicken Dance Elmo." And people were lined up outside Walmarts and Targets yesterday morning at 5 am hoping to get one (or more). Might as well just hand the keys to the White House over to al Qaeda; this culture is done.


Friday, November 29, 2002

 
Ted Rall on Poindexter's Total Information Awareness.
posted by Bob at 9:02 PM

 
Millions expressed their support for sweatshop labor, low-wage jobs and environmental destruction today by shopping early and often.

I think that picture can be engraved on America's tombstone.


 
Just Say NO! to GMO's: CNN reports that "GM mutants as toxic as parent plants," to quote the cool headline (I like it when mainstream media uses "GM", "mutants" and "toxic" in the same headline!). The report says that a study at the University of North Carolina shows that the offspring of genetically-modified canola cross-pollinated with natural (non-GM) canola inherit the insecticide characteristics of the GM plants. The study supports claims by Canadians and others that GMO's spread their bizarre traits throughout nature, creating "superweeds" which are unnaturally toxic to insects. This can very quickly lead to huge imbalances in the ecology, not just by killing certain insects, but also by allowing plants that they eat to grow out of control, and by depriving birds, frogs and other animals that eat the insects of food. The sneaky, cynical, and absolutely immoral methods used by Monsanto and their Republican lackeys to push GMO's on the world as quickly as possible are already having disastrous consequences, and it will get much worse unless it is stopped very soon.
posted by Bob at 10:34 AM

Thursday, November 28, 2002

 
Bushies turn Karzai's security over to flesh-peddling, drug-running, missionary-killing, peasant-poisoning campaign contributors. Dyncorp, a private military organization, is now guarding Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Dyncorp was implicated in a prostitution ring in Bosnia, narcotics trafficking in Columbia, shooting down a plane carrying a Baptist missionary and her daughter in Peru, and spraying peasants in Ecuador with toxic chemicals. See Body and Soul for details.
posted by Bob at 11:00 PM

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

 
The bill requires the federal government to pay 90 percent of the cost of an attack by foreign terrorists after losses are greater than $10 billion, up to a total of $100 billion. The government will pay a smaller amount for losses less than $10 billion. -- from the NY Times. So the government is going to war with Iraq, at the cost of $100 to $200 billion, which will greatly increase the likelihood of terror attacks, for which the government may pay another $100 billion. Meanwhile, the Bushies are requiring that schools deemed "failing" offer transfers to "better" schools, even if those schools are already full. According to the article, 8600 schools were identified as failing last summer. Let's do the math: Say $200 billion for a combination of Gulf War II and the resultant terror attacks divided by 8600 failing schools--that's over $23 million per school. Assuming say 500 students per school, that's $46,500 per student, or about the cost of one teacher for a year. Or one teacher for a class of twelve for an entire twelve-year education. Of course, with that much education, a lot of Americans might know where Iraq is and wonder why Bush is so worried about it.

posted by Bob at 3:26 PM

 
A new Pentagon strategy aimed at luring terrorists into committing acts of terrorism has been recommended to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by the Defense Science Board (DSB). The "DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism" claims that since the global war on terrorism "requires new strategies, postures and organization," it was advocating the creation of a super-Intelligence Support Activity, called the "Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)."
...
The organization "would launch secret operations aimed at 'stimulating reactions' among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction -- that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to 'quick-response' attacks by U.S. forces."
...
In Pamela Hess' piece called "Panel wants $7bn elite counter-terror unit" -- written before the official release of the DSB report -- she claims the report also advocated "tagging key terrorist figures with special chemicals so they can be tracked by laser anywhere on Earth; creating a special SWAT team to surreptitiously find and destroy chemical, biological and nuclear weapons all over the world; and creating a 'red team' of particularly diabolical thinkers to plot imaginary terror attacks on the United States so the government can plan to thwart them."

The team would be made up of 100 counter-terror specialists in information operations, psychological operations, computer network attack, covert activities, signal intelligence, human intelligence, special operations forces and deception operations and have at least $100 million at their disposal. -- from Working for Change.

How sick is that? How can we find "terrorists" if they never blow anything up? We'd better provoke them! And that "red team" is going to feel pretty let down if they spend $100 million coming up with exotic terror plots and never get to use them. Maybe they use them on other countries to "provoke" terrorists out of hiding. Maybe they sell the plans to the highest bidder, or have a mole amongst them to sneak the plans to Osama. Or maybe they decide that there would be great political benefit, not to mention excitement, in executing some of their scenarios in this country themselves.


 


Bush in the bush: "He, he! He'll never find me here!"
Cop in the foreground: "25107, 25108, 25109...I don't want to find him! Why should I stop counting? 25110, 25111..."
posted by Bob at 2:08 PM

 
Right-wing media gets Gored. Tom Tomorrow says he's beginning to like the new Al Gore, and I'm beginning to agree with him. Gore appears willing to call an elephant an elephant, even though that elephant may have the ability to totally crush his chances for 2004:

"The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party," said Mr. Gore in an interview with The Observer. "Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh—there’s a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media …. Most of the media [has] been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks—that is, day after day, injecting the daily Republican talking points into the definition of what’s objective as stated by the news media as a whole."


 
I have jokingly said that Bush would probably appoint Ken Lay to succeed Harvey Pitt at the SEC. But now he's put Henry Kissinger in charge of the 9/11 investigation. Has the moron no shame?

It gets worse:
Bush did not set as a primary goal for Kissinger to uncover mistakes or lapses of the government that could have prevented the Sept. 11 attacks. Instead, he said the panel should try to help the administration learn the tactics and motives of the enemy.
This is NOT what the families of 9/11 victims and many others have been calling for. They want to know why our government missed or ignored clues leading up to 9/11. I want to know if any of the failure to stop the attack was intentional. To have Henry Frigging Kissinger study the tactics and motives of the enemy does not begin to answer these questions; it just provides more excuses for continued military aggression around the world.

A glimmer of hope:
[Fleischer] said Bush does not envision testifying before the panel.

But Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., a leading advocate of the commission, said it is likely Bush will be asked to address the panel.

``I would be surprised if this commission, in pursuit of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help them God, did not want to speak with this president and high officials of this administration and previous presidents and high officials in previous administrations,'' Lieberman said.

Getting Bush to testify under oath would be a major accomplishment. He's so used to lying by now that he would perjure himself in half a minute. Unfortunately, I don't trust Lieberman (or any other prominent Democrat) to seriously push for Bush to testify.


 
First they came for the Muslims, and I didn't speak
up because I wasn't a Muslim.

Then they came to detain immigrants indefinitely
solely upon the certification of the Attorney General,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an immigrant.

Then they came to eavesdrop on suspects consulting
with their attorneys, and I didn't speak up because I
wasn't a suspect.

Then they came to prosecute non-citizens before
secret military commissions, and I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a non-citizen.

Then they came to enter homes and offices for
unannounced "sneak and peek" searches, and I didn't
speak up because I had nothing to hide.

Then they came to reinstate Cointelpro and resume
the infiltration and surveillance of domestic
religious and political groups, and I didn't speak up
because I had stopped participating in any groups.

Then they came for anyone who objected to
government policy because it aided the terrorists and
gave ammunition to America's enemies, and I didn't
speak up because...... I didn't speak up.

Then they came for me....... and by that time no
one was left to speak up.

- Stephen Rohde, a constitutional lawyer and
President of the ACLU of Southern California, who is
indebted to the inspiration of Rev. Martin Niemoller
(1937): http://www.janrainwater.com/htdocs/Rohde.htm


Tuesday, November 26, 2002

 
GEORGE Bush's top security adviser last night admitted the US would attack Iraq even if UN inspectors fail to find weapons. Dr Richard Perle stunned MPs by insisting a "clean bill of health" from UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix would not halt America's war machine. Evidence from ONE witness on Saddam Hussein's weapons programme will be enough to trigger a fresh military onslaught, he told an all- party meeting on global security. -- from the Mirror in England.

Richard Perle may the nastiest of the nasties plotting Bush's eternal war strategy. A former British cabinet minister expresses surprise at Perle's statement. I've been convinced that this was the case for some time now. My only surprise is how openly Perle states it.


 

It takes one to pardon one!




A female turkey pardons President Bush for being such a moron.
posted by Bob at 4:27 PM

 


from Don Wright in Florida.
posted by Bob at 12:02 PM

 
I don't trust this at all. The Bushies are pushing this huge smallpox vaccination plan, even though the only known smallpox viruses in the world are at the CDC in Atlanta and under the control of Bush's buddy Putin in Russia. Just as with anthrax, the most likely source of a smallpox attack on the US is from within the US. The vaccinations can be used to protect their friends while the disease weeds out the opposition, or they could end up being simply lethal injections. Even if the Bushies' intentions are strictly honorable, a massive vaccination program like this would be an ideal method for a terror attack. Keep that needle away from me!
posted by Bob at 11:03 AM

 

KEEP BIG BROTHER'S HANDS OFF THE INTERNET


By Senator John Ashcroft

No foolin'. In '97, Ashcrotch was in favor of freedom of speech on the Internet. Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for the link.


Monday, November 25, 2002

 
The new Miranda warning:
You have the right to confess. You have no right to an attorney. Anything you say or don't say or that we just made up may be used against you in a court of law, a military tribunal, or never.

Ted Olson and the rest of the Constitution Demolition Crew are supporting Oxnard California police who assert that the Miranda ruling does not include a "constitutional right to be free of coercive interrogation," but only a right not to have forced confessions used at trial. In other words, your government thinks it's okay for cops to basically torture you for information so long as they don't use what you say against you.

Police can hold people in custody and force them to talk, so long as their incriminating statements are not used to prosecute them, U.S. Solicitor Gen. Theodore B. Olson and Michael Chertoff, the chief of the Justice Department's criminal division, say in their brief to the court. It "will chill legitimate law enforcement efforts to obtain potentially life-saving information during emergencies," including terrorism alerts, if police and FBI agents can be sued for coercive questioning, they add.

Beatings and torture are never legitimate law enforcement efforts, and Olson and Chertoff should be thrown out of their offices so fast that we'll hear the sonic boom here in Michigan. In the case coming before the Supreme Court next week, an Oxnard cop repeatedly tried to get a statement out of a man who had been shot five times and was being treated in the hospital. Recall that Ted Olson was the same lawyer who argued before the same Supreme Court two years ago in a successful attempt to stop vote recounts in Florida and give the White House to George W. Bush. And that same Supreme Court is still headed by William Rehnquist who in 1990 argued that the right against self-incrimination in the 5th Amendment was a "trial right." Police cannot violate this right when they force someone to talk, since "a constitutional violation occurs only at trial."

I don't have the whole text of Rehnquist's 1990 opinion, but it sounds like he was saying that it's okay for the cops to beat a confession out of you, as long as it's before the trial. Now maybe he's still saying that the confession can't be used in court against you, but even so it's too late for you. With your confession in hand they will almost certainly be able to scare you into a plea bargain before you ever get to trial. They could also use your coerced confession to find other witnesses willing to incriminate you, whether you are in fact guilty of something or not. I think the basic gist of most of this is that if you get arrested for whatever reason, your life is almost certainly ruined. You are presumed guilty, and the cops are free to use whatever means they want to get you to say whatever they want. And if none of that works the president can just call you an "enemy combatant."

Probably time to quote from the Declaration of Independence again:

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 a 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 shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing to 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.

Hey, you Homeland Security drones, I didn't say that, Thomas Jefferson did! But I certainly agree with him.


 

posted by Bob at 8:13 PM

 
Listening to what Osama said: This article says that it is just as important to hear the message in OBL's statements as it is to know if it is really him. He is threatening to retaliate for our future actions, starting with war in Iraq. Continued aggression on our part assures continued aggression on his. A cautious, restrained approach may not guarantee our safety from future attacks, but the wreckless approach being pursued now certainly guarantees that we won't be safe any time soon, if ever.
posted by Bob at 6:50 PM

 
As a matter of both foreign and environmental policy, it makes a lot more sense to lay rail, promote renewable energy and get serious about conserving oil. We subsidize the hell out of the oil bidness with innumerable tax breaks, loopholes and support programs. For heaven's sake, why not support renewable energy, instead? Why should we ask our military to die for cheap oil when the rest of us aren't even being asked to get better mileage? -- from Molly Ivins.
posted by Bob at 2:31 PM

 
President Bush's spokesman (sorry Ari) praised Saudi Arabia on Monday as a "good partner in the war on terrorism.'' -- from AP. Ari is probably right on this one. Without the Saudis, the war on terrorism would have been neither possible nor necessary.
posted by Bob at 2:18 PM

 
Media consolidation, restricted access: AOL Time-Warner is considering restricting access to the online version of Time magazine to AOL customers only. The Internet has been the one bright spot for information as control of radio, TV and print media have been consolidating into fewer and fewer hands. That these same corporations are now controlling many of the delivery and content providers of the Internet means that the wide-open choices currently available on the Internet are going to be restricted more and more. Instead of practically unlimited access, we will have a few channels to choose from, just like cable TV. Somehow I don't think any of the big ISP's (AOL, Comcast/AT&T, Time-Warner Cable) will be featuring the "Bob's Links and Rants" channel. Of course, I won't have much to say then because I won't have access to the World Socialist Web Site, Common Dreams, other blogs, and many of my other sources.
posted by Bob at 1:43 PM

 
Chess Champions on peace:
But offense comes first. Baghdad remains the next stop but not the last. We must also have plans for Tehran and Damascus, not to mention Riyadh. The tactics will vary, but the goal--total defeat of terrorism--is clear. Once American ground troops are in Iraq, the message must go out to all terrorist sponsors that this game is up. -- Garry Kasparov

I applaud the act. F**k the U.S. I want to see the U.S. wiped out. -- Bobby Fischer on the 9/11 attacks.

Hmm...seems like such a quiet, cerebral game. Bobby Fischer's story is especially pathetic. He has been living in various places overseas since playing in a rematch with Boris Spassky in 1992 against the express wishes and laws of the Bush I administration. As for Kasparov, I'm not sure why former Soviet chess masters are advising the US government on foreign policy, but it's still a semi-free country, I guess (Kasparov lives in the US now).


Sunday, November 24, 2002

 
Not waiting for their Washington bureaucracy to be completed, the Gestapo is already taking names. W claims (falsely) that the terrorists "hate us for our freedoms." Is this why he is so intent on taking those freedoms away? As this goes on, it will be harder and more dangerous to take a stand against this repression. We need to mobilize as many as we can to speak out as soon as possible, or we'll end up just like the Soviet Union. Speak now or forever live in fear.
posted by Bob at 12:39 PM

 

Where is this?




  1. Nigeria
  2. Bethlehem
  3. Haifa
  4. Columbus, Ohio

The correct answer is Columbus, Ohio, where Ohio State fans showed true class in celebrating another squeak-by win by burning cars and rioting in the streets. And don't think I'm just picking on Buckeye fans because I'm from Ann Arbor. I chewed out Michigan fans last week. It's just a brutal, overhyped game, folks!
posted by Bob at 12:30 PM

Saturday, November 23, 2002

 
These then are the self-appointed liberators of Iraq—advocates of imperialist aggression and germ warfare, former war criminals and corrupt union bureaucrats. Nothing could provide a clearer indication of the criminal character of the war of aggression that Washington is preparing. -- from the WSWS.

posted by Bob at 11:31 AM

 
The Bush health care plan: Ted Rall again!
posted by Bob at 8:48 AM

 
Hey guys! While you've been swatting at flies in Afghanistan, the Philippines and elsewhere, the 800-pound gorilla has been tossing turds at you the whole time! The joint congressional committee investigating 9/11 says that the FBI and CIA did not aggressively pursue leads that might have linked the terrorists to Saudi Arabia, according to an article in today's NY Times. The article seems to indicate that the lack of pursuit of leads leading to Saudi Arabia occurred both before 9/11 and since. Just further evidence that the "war on terrorism" is just a cover for carrying out oil grabs and imperial conquests. But the gorilla shouldn't be too complacent. Once Iraq is under US control, the Bushies will have much less need for Saudi oil or support. They will then begin their demonizing of Saudi Arabia, and they won't have to lie nearly as much, especially about terrorist connections.

By the way, there is a word to describe the "support" that the security council and NATO have given to Bush recently. The word is "appeasement." That NATO's capitulation took place in Prague is ironic, although I guess Munich would have been more so.


Friday, November 22, 2002

 
I must confess, I just don't get this one. A paper in Nigeria said that that if the Prophet Mohammed were alive, he would consider marrying one of the Miss World contestants. And over 100 people are dead because of this. I mean, isn't this sort of along the lines of "What would Jesus drive?" I don't know that much about Islam, but the paper's suggestion might be a little silly or every so vaguely blasphemous, but to kill people over it? I mean, take a chill pill! And if anyone is offended by what I'm saying, remember that I confessed up front that I don't get it. And please don't kill anyone over it!
posted by Bob at 9:58 PM

 
Hu's on first? Hilarious!
posted by Bob at 7:43 PM

 

posted by Bob at 1:43 PM

 
Canada's prime minister has refused to accept the resignation of his communications director for calling Bush "a moron." While the story is headline news in Canada, I find nothing at all about it on the CNN, NY Times, or Washington Post websites. Hit a little too close to home, I guess. Can't let that particular idea become a part of the public debate. (Tonight on the O'Reilly factor: Is the President a Moron? We'll look in depth and have a lively discussion on the topic, and will be taking your calls.) By comparison, the comment from a German cabinet member a few months about Bush using methods that Hitler used got a lot of play. To a reasonable person, of which there seem to be precious few these days, the Canadian remark is more of an insult than the German one. Any national leader, no matter how good or absolutely stupefyingly atrocious, will by necessity end up using some of Hitler's methods: delegating authority, giving speeches, etc. There is no reason, however, why a national leader has to be a moron. We're just lucky, I guess.

According to the CBC, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, who is accompanying Bush in Prague, dismissed the comment as coming from "somebody who obviously doesn't speak for the Canadian government." Right, Ari. The Prime Minister's communications director doesn't speak for the Canadian government. Of course, Ari is someone who obviously doesn't speak for the American people.


 
"There is nothing new here," said Eric Ruff, a spokesman for Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, "and what is new is better." -- from the NY Times in an article about Bushie approval for drilling two new gas wells in Padre Island National Seashore. A line worthy of W himself.
posted by Bob at 12:49 PM

Thursday, November 21, 2002

 
O Canada!! A top Canadian official called W a "moron" at the NATO summit. Politics in the Zeros has more.
posted by Bob at 11:31 PM

 
Trouble for the arch villain?
posted by Bob at 11:28 PM

 
A medical examiner in Minnesota has determined that the pilots in the crash of Sen. Paul Wellstone's plane were killed by the impact, according to AP. Actually, from reading the article it appears that he arrived at this conclusion by ruling out just two other possibilities: they were killed by the fire (no soot in windpipes) or they were shot (no bullet holes). While I am somewhat encouraged that he at least considered the possibility of foul play, I don't see that he ruled out my
poison gas theory or something else that quickly incapacitated the pilots. Neither does it rule out some sort of sabotage which caused the plane to lose its radio and control systems at the same time. The fire would likely destroy all evidence of poison and make finding evidence of sabotage very difficult. Maybe I'm going overboard with the conspiracy stuff, but from what I've read about TWA 800 and American flight 587 the results of investigations into mysterious, high-profile air crashes are affected much more by politics than by evidence (see twa800.com for MUCH more on this). And one of the best senators has been replaced by Dick Cheney's hand-picked minion, giving control of the Senate to the Republitrons, and even the temp appointed by Jesse Ventura not only voted for the Homeland Security bill, he also voted to keep the pork in it. I don't think anyone can doubt what Wellstone would have thought of that.

One further note: the article states that "NTSB spokesman Paul Schlamm said the medical examiner's report does not affect the board's investigation." Huh? You're investigating a crash and you don't care how the pilots died? That only makes sense if you already know what your conclusions are going to be. I remember when AA 587 crashed in New York (11/12/01). Around noon, three or so hours after the crash, Ari Fleischer answered a reporter's question by saying he didn't know if it was a terrorist attack or not; too early to tell. (A rare seemingly reasonable answer from Ari.) About an hour later, Secretary of State Colin Powell made a statement saying it wasn't terrorism. And that has been the official line ever since, no matter what the evidence shows or witnesses say.


 
Top Ten Reasons Americans Support Invading Iraq.
posted by Bob at 4:07 PM

 
Welcome to the American Gestapo. Article from Common Dreams.
posted by Bob at 3:07 PM

 
Sources told CNN it's still unclear whether the incident was an individual act or linked to terrorism. -- Two US soldiers were shot by a cop in Kuwait. I've read several definitions of "terrorism," but apparently neither CNN or their "sources" are familiar with them. Generally, the definition says that terrorism is an act of violence against civilians for political purposes and/or to foment fear in the general population. So there is no way that this was terrorism, even if the "cop" was Osama bin Laden himself. The attack was on soldiers, and while it almost certainly had a political motive it is unlikely to cause fear among the general population. And, it has absolutely nothing to do with whether it was an individual act or not. I may be being a bit too picky on semantics, but this is one of those Orwellian methods being used so commonly these days. By never being clear about what is meant by "terrorism" the powers that be are able to manipulate it endlessly for their own purposes, which they have, big time.
posted by Bob at 2:08 PM

 
Most 18-24 year-old Americans can't locate Afghanistan, Iraq or Israel on a map. 30% can't find the Pacific Ocean. Read the dismal stats and take the quiz yourself at the National Geographic web site. Of course, most 18-24 year-olds didn't vote in the election, either. Which is worse, ignorance or apathy? Let's do both, dude!
posted by Bob at 1:17 PM

 
From CNN: Sharp and "shrill" commentary from some talk show hosts has led to increased threats against public officials, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Wednesday, counting himself among those who have received such threats.
...
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, asked about Daschle's comments, said he didn't know of any threats. "I've found people to be pretty upbeat and very generous and kind, even when they don't agree with everything I say," Lott, R-Mississippi, said.

Well, that's an easy one to explain. You see, the people who disagree with Lott are a whole lott nicer than those who agree with him. And how could Rush find anything to complain about with Daschle? He's voted with Bush on just about every important issue. But I forget: being unreasonable and irrational is a key ingedient to Rush's success--and Bush's.


 
"You saw it on the news, now see how it really was." -- An ad for a new ABC TV movie about the coal miners in Pennsylvania who were rescued a few months ago. P.L.A. (another blog) points out that this quote shows exactly what ABC thinks of its own news department.
posted by Bob at 10:08 AM

 
Bob Herbert's latest column describes the massive fiscal crisis facing state governments throughout the country. Neither state Republicans nor the Bush administration seem willing to address this issue. What does it really mean? Further loss of local control. The Bushies will be treating bankrupt states the same way the World Bank treats Argentina--restructuring. In order to get any federal money, states will be forced to lay off workers, lower wages, sell public utilities and other functions to transnational corporations. "We've got all these wars to fight: we can't afford to bail out both Michigan AND Ohio. Which one is willing to give in to our requests more completely? Which one has arrested the most terrorists this month? Which one has repealed the most environmental and labor laws? Which one has the Republican governor?" (uh-oh)
posted by Bob at 9:21 AM

 

from Bruce Plante.
posted by Bob at 8:50 AM

 

from Steve Benson.
posted by Bob at 8:45 AM

 
Ted Rall!




Wednesday, November 20, 2002

 
Bumper stickers for SUV's. I sent the guy running the website an e-mail a challenge to sticker one of these.
posted by Bob at 10:33 PM

 
It's deja vu all over again. In November 1990, President Bush went to Prague to make his case for going to war against Iraq. In November 2002, President Bush went to Prague to make his case for going to war against Iraq. The excuses are just as bad, the rhetoric even more muddled, the real reasons still the same: oil and world domination. At least this time it's not quite as much our fault: we actually elected the first President Bush.

Trying to spread the fear, Bush said: "For terrorists and terrorist states, every free nation is a potential target, including the free nations of Europe." Terror bombings have been an occasional, but in reality very rare, element of life in many countries. Only in countries which actively pursue military means to "wipe out" terrorism does it rise to be a weekly or daily fact of life (Israel and Palestine, Britain and Northern Ireland). Everything that Bush has done since September 11 has put us at greater risk of terrorist attacks, and I think he knows it. He does not want to end terrorism; he is pursuing the global capitalist agenda, and he doesn't care who gets hurt in the process.


 
Announcing the Who's More Paranoid Than Me? Contest: Manufacturers are planning to put tiny radio-frequency ID tags (RFID) on every item they produce. These 96-bit tags are "somewhere between the size of a grain of sand and a speck of dust" and may cost less than 1 cent to produce. Like UPC's on steroids, these will differentiate between each different item on the shelf, not just every type of item. Everything you buy will be linked to you, assuming you use a credit card, a supermarket "bonus" card, or happen to be wearing or carrying anything that has already been linked to you. Anytime you walk near a scanner your identity and everything you are wearing or carrying will be identified. And scanners will be all over: stores, airports, highways, stadiums. I'm guessing that the only manufactured products that they're not planning on identifying are guns and bullets.

So anyway, the contest is for readers to come up with the scariest scenarios for how these things might be used. E-mail your suggestions to me at bob@goodsells.net. Probably every response will be posted, and the winner will have the joy of knowing that he or she didn't come in second.


 
VietNam was the last time Americans were allowed to see what REALLY happens in a war. And because of the draft it happened to THEM. If you think about it, this means that no one under about 45 really understands that war is anything other than a TV show. It's like the meat in supermarkets - it comes in a nice clean package.

THIS is why the public thirsts for war. Much of the public sees this as a TV show. Clean. Sanitary. No REAL death. No REAL gore. It's just another TV show. Like the meat in the supermarket. -- from the No War Blog.

At age 44 3/4, I'm pretty close to understanding, maybe. But I think he's mostly right. I remember during Gulf War I. I was a teacher in a high school back then, and my students and I all arrived bleary-eyed after long nights watching Wolf, Peter and Bernie explain the war to us on CNN. And you watched half-hoping that something exciting would happen, only half-knowing that it meant real people being killed and wounded. Actually, though, Vietnam was just a TV show to most Americans, too. The show may have been more graphic and closer to the truth than we've had since, but it was still a show. I'd say that unless you were in the military, you'd probably have to be over 150 years old as an American to really understand war. The Civil War was the only large-scale war fought where most of the action occurred in America. Few Americans have experienced anything like what Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis, Chechens, Somalis, Rwandans, Congolese and Timorese, to name a few, have experienced in the past 25 years. Huddling in the basement as shells explode around your house and wounded soldiers pound on the door begging for aid, but you're not sure whose soldiers they are and what they might do to you if you let them in. Trying to stay in others' footprints because you're less likely to step on a mine. Having all of your means for getting food, water and information disrupted. Having your pulse jump to 200 every time you hear the sound of an airplane. Stuff like that.


 
Two unusual but cool hobbies meet by the bay in California:

Kite aerial photography meets shopping cart sculpture. See http://arch.ced.berkeley.edu/kap/gallery/gal168.html for more.


 

More from Mike Thompson.


 
A Byrd in the Senate is worth more than two Bushes in the White House.
posted by Bob at 10:10 AM

 
Before the Gestapo (aka Homeland Security) bill passed, this was the message:
"The terrorists are not going to wait for a process that goes on days, weeks or months," said Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the Republican leader. "We need to get this done, and we need to do it now." -- from the NY Times yesterday.

Now that the bill has passed, they're willing to admit the obvious truth:
Bush administration officials acknowledged today that the Department of Homeland Security would need years to organize itself fully and that the logistics involved in merging 22 agencies and nearly 170,000 government workers into a giant new bureaucracy could threaten to divert the department from its central mission of safeguarding the American public from terrorist attacks. -- from today's NY Times.

Of course, they are still ignoring that this is an enormous and expensive effort directed against a problem, terrorism, which has killed maybe 3500 Americans in the last ten years. September 11 was spectacular and horrible, but terrorism ranks way, way down on the list of causes of death in this country. Less expensive efforts could probably save many more lives which are being lost to gun violence, AIDS, and poor nutrition. Or to turn the whole thing around, one simple step could increase revenues and decrease expenditures while saving many lives, with hardly any increase in bureaucracy. A $5 per gallon tax on gasoline would reduce fatalities from accidents, pollution, and global warming by causing people to drive less. It would save billions of dollars that wouldn't need to be spent on wars to maintain the flow of oil. And without the wars, the threat of terrorism would be reduced as well. Unfortunately, simple, effective, and decent proposals are not in vogue these days, probably because there is nothing in a gas tax for ExxonMobil or General Motors.


 
Gestapo Bill Passes. Thanks to courageous Michigan senator Carl Levin for being one of only nine to vote against it. Only nine! The Senate doesn't like us, folks. The House hates us. The President ignores us. They all love that campaign cash that poured in from the corporations, and that's who they represent now.
posted by Bob at 12:09 AM

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

 
So many places not to shop, so few things to buy: Office Max is notifying authorities of suspicious copying jobs. Maybe we should organize a "Make Office Max Look Stupid(er)" campaign. We make up a flier that looks subversive but has fine print in it to make it actually some super-patriotic nonsense. We get people dressed as Arabs to go to every Office Max in the country and ask to make 25 copies of the flier, and see how many times the cops get called.
posted by Bob at 11:14 PM

 

You won't believe this:


Unfortunately, Dave Barry was not making this up:



Cobra, the new generation commercial based security and reconnaissance vehicle is in production and available from Ibis Tek. Configured to the customer’s requirements, the Sport Utility Vehicle is outfitted with a Thales AFV Systems’ Stabilized Weapon and Reconnaissance Mount - SWARM.

The SWARM stores in the vehicle until required giving the vehicle a nondescript and nonthreatening appearance during normal operation of the vehicle. At the push of a button at the control station located at the passengers seat the remote weapons station is deployed and ready to fire in 10 seconds.

The Cobra and its sister vehicles Viper and Python are designed for multiple functions including VIP escort, reconnaissance, security patrol, Homeland Defense, and special (clandestine) missions. (see http://www.ibistek.com/pdf/cobra/cobraflyer.pdf for all the details.)

This bundle of joy is brought to you by the Ibis Tek Corporation of Butler, Pennsylvania, home state of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. It features a retractable roof-mounted machine gun controlled by a panel on the SUV's dashboard. So be careful which soccer mom you cut off when dropping your kids off at school.


 
Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams -- Mary Ellen Kelly. Like the Jefferson quote below, this one comes from Sam Smith's quote page. Beware: once you go there, it's hard to get out.
posted by Bob at 2:33 PM

 
The country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and monied incorporations and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy, the few will be ruling and riding over the plundered plowman and the beggar . . . I hope we shall take warning from the example of England and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to trial and bid defiance to the laws of our country. I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies. -- Thomas Jefferson.

posted by Bob at 1:58 PM

 
Pork Barrel Security: The Senate defeated an amendment to the "Homeland Security" bill which would have removed the pork-barrel crap thrown into it by House Republicans last week, such as the provisions allowing the new Gestapo to buy from US companies which have moved their headquarters offshore to avoid taxes, and the one exempting Eli Lilly from being sued for causing autism in children. So if, as expected, the Gestapo bill passes the Senate tonight, it won't be simply terrible. It will be really, really, really terrible. Might want to call those senators one more time to tell them that you don't want John Ashcroft peeking in your windows. And that when corporations poison children, they should be made to pay.

And, from the same article:
"The terrorists are not going to wait for a process that goes on days, weeks or months," said Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the Republican leader. "We need to get this done, and we need to do it now."
Right, Trent. Don't want to keep those terrorists waiting.


 
First moderately positive thing I've read in a while, from the Salt Lake Tribune.

Prediction: There is a 50-50 chance that McCain and Chaffee will switch parties and a similar chance that McCain will become the Democratic standard bearer in 2004. The odds of a Landrieu victory in Louisiana are much higher.

Read the whole article for a quick pick-me-up, and maybe we should be sending money to Louisiana? Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for the link. I'm not a huge McCain fan since he's been way too much of a hawk, but he seems to be a real, thinking person, unlike anyone in the current administration.


 
Homer, how could you? Homer J. Simpson has been spotted shilling for serial animal murderer and artery clogger, Burger King. C'mon, Homer, don't have a cow, man! We are expecting a statement from daughter Lisa at any moment.

More from the land of the Whopper: At the bottom of Burger King's BK VEGGIE™ Burger web page is this lovely disclaimer: "Burger King Corporation makes no claim that the BK VEGGIE™ Burger or any other of its products meets the requirements of a vegan or vegetarian diet." So what exactly is in a BK VEGGIE™ Burger, anyway?


 
The spoils of war: Paul Krugman's latest.
posted by Bob at 9:41 AM

 

from Boondocks.
posted by Bob at 9:03 AM

 

Official story: Osama Lives


White House spokesman Scott McClellan confirmed these conclusions and said the audiotape "is a reminder that we are at war on terrorism."
"It's a reminder that we need to continue doing everything we can to go after these terrorist networks and their leaders wherever they are. And we will," he said.
-- from CNN.

Bob's expert analysis: Polling and focus groups have shown that the majority of Americans are immune to the argument that Osama's continued existence and freedom demonstrates that W's "war on terror" is a failure. Instead, Karl Rove and the brownshirts in the White House find that having Osama out there is useful for continuing their own reign of terror. Just as with the tax cuts, the argument is "Since it isn't working, we need to do even more of it." It wouldn't surprise me if the CIA made the tape (and then fired the guy doing the Osama impression for being gay) and had it delivered to al Jazeera. If Saddam does prove to be a pushover, the Bushies will need Osama as a backup until they can get the hate machine geared up for Iran or North Korea.

This may be a sign of overconfidence. If things do start to turn against the Bush war machine, we can use their own quotes against them in arguing that the Afghanistan war was a failure. And it was. One brutal regime has been replaced by several at war with each other, the heroin is flowing again, and many thousands of people have died. But according to the maniacs who started the madness, they failed to accomplish their main objective. Whether Osama is still alive or not is still a tossup, but the Bushies have decided that he is more useful "alive" at the moment.


 
It's our only planet, and every mile we drive contributes to its destruction. An oil tanker carrying 800,000 gallons of oil just broke in two off the coast of Spain, threatening a major ecological disaster. Every trip to the gas pump gives more money to Exxon-Mobil or one of the other evildoers, who then use it to make campaign contributions to Bush or one of the other evildoers, who then continue to start wars around the world to keep the gas flowing at the pump. Remember: Friends Don't Let Friends Drive. (A bumperless sticker)
posted by Bob at 7:29 AM

 
Another victory for Ashcroft, another loss for us: Court Overturns Limits on Wiretaps to Combat Terror. It's already bad; it's getting worse; there's no end in sight. Worst attorney general ever.
posted by Bob at 12:01 AM

Monday, November 18, 2002

 
True Cost Groceries: from the fine folks at Adbusters.

Speaking of Adbusters, join millions of people escaping the consumer culture by celebrating Adbusters' eleventh Buy Nothing Day on the Friday after Thanksgiving (11/29). Don't you dare chase all those ads from the Thursday paper to those 7 am sales to buy worthless crap for family and friends, proceeds going to the further destruction of our home planet. Stay home, visit friends, sing, dance, play, but DO NOT SHOP!! Contemplate interesting and creative ways to celebrate the holidays without driving all over to buy silly gifts. Read a book, or write one. DO NOT SHOP!! Read everything on the Adbusters web page for further inspiration. Count your blessings. But NO SHOPPING!! And don't get all preachy, either.

PS: Here's a quick guide to making the most of Buy Nothing Day. Sleep in until 8. Start by not shopping at Wal-Mart. Probably the best place to start your non-shopping. Then don't buy anything at the GAP, and proceed to not buying any diamonds (people WILL kill for those rocks) or Nike shoes. Follow this up by not buying any of the holiday crap lining the aisles at K-Mart, Office Depot, or Best Buy. When you're done, roll over and sleep another hour until 9. Then do whatever you want. Just DON'T SHOP!


 
Michigan Coach Has Safety Concerns: I guess U of M's football coach Lloyd Carr agrees with me about the caliber of football fans these days.

If we can't protect the students, the players, the coaches, then we shouldn't be playing. It's just a matter of time before we have somebody seriously injured. Um, Lloyd, what about the referees?


 
More from Woodward/60 Minutes:
And at one time, the CIA offered a Taliban commander $50,000 to defect and he asked for time to think it over. And then they dropped a bomb on him in his area. — And then they went back and said, the offer now which used to be $50,000 is now $40,000. — And he said "I accept."

Your government: mob tactics gone global.

Politics in the Zeros draws several scary conclusions from the 60 Minutes interview.


 

Quote of the Day, from W himself:


President Bush: "I do not need to explain why I say things. — That's the interesting thing about being the President. — Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." (from Bob Woodward via 60 Minutes).

That, in itself, explains a lot. Bush thinks he doesn't have a boss, so he doesn't have to explain anything. Well, Shrub, we're your boss, the American people, and we want to know why you're doing all this crap. And STOP IT!!!


 
Winner of the creepy logo contest:

John Poindexter and the Information Awareness Office. (Read William Safire's column from last week for info on the IAO.)
posted by Bob at 12:31 PM

 
Here's a quote I found on Sam Smith's wonderful quote page:
I don't know whether to kill myself or go bowling -- Thomas Sharpe
After seeing Michael Moore's latest movie, I'm imagining that there was an answer to that quote:
Let's do both! -- Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine killers who went bowling at 6 am the day of their rampage).
Sorry, that was sick and tasteless, but when I saw that Sharpe quote...
posted by Bob at 11:08 AM

 
Tom Tomorrow cites several articles about the "success" of W's first war, Afghanistan. (Massive sarcasticons here. Is there an e-mail shorthand for sarcasm, along the lines of :-), :-(, or LOL? If not, could someone make one up for me? I would use it a lot.)
posted by Bob at 10:56 AM

 
"Liberal" Nancy Pelosi voted for the Homeland Security Department bill. The WSWS summarizes the numerous dangers to civil rights included in this fascist nonsense. And the Democratic "leadership" is quietly selling our country. I saw Pelosi talking with Tim Russert on Meet the Press yesterday (transcript). Here are some choice quotes from Pelosi: Most of the rest is such doubletalk that I can't find quotes that say anything at all. Pelosi is our hope for getting our country back? I'm afraid not.
posted by Bob at 9:53 AM

 
States and cities are going broke, kids are hungry, water shortages appearing everywhere, and our government's number one priority is to destroy further a poor country on the other side of the planet. Massive mobilizations of equipment and personnel, ill-advised bribes and promises to foreign governments (including Axis of Evil charter member Iran). Expenses in the billions. Plus the billions more for "homeland security" that this cowboy foreign "policy" requires. Struggling to find a conclusion, I'll make it multiple choice:
  1. How many domestic problems could be fixed completely with this level of effort and expense?
  2. We could buy all of the world's HIV patients all of the medicine they need for a fraction of this money, even at the drug companies' inflated prices.
  3. This money could fund hundreds of sewage and water treatment plants around the world, saving millions from dysentery, cholera and other nasty diseases.
  4. Worst president ever.
(Hint: there are no wrong answers.)
posted by Bob at 9:21 AM

 
Good Mike Thompson cartoon!
posted by Bob at 8:46 AM

 
It's the end of the world as we know it.
posted by Bob at 12:09 AM

Sunday, November 17, 2002

 
Mandatory Loyalty Oath in Pennsylvania schools? CNN reports that the state senate passed a bill that all students in public and private school must either recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" or sing the National Anthem every school day. I'd have to choose the National Anthem, because it really doesn't say anything--just one big question: Hey Jose, is that flag still there, man? Plus those "rockets red glare" and "bombs bursting in air" are a much more accurate description of our country these days than is "liberty and justice for all."
posted by Bob at 10:05 PM

 
The only thing warnings this vague are good for is providing political cover in case of disaster. They offer no specific information about the location, timing or method of attack, and are all but useless to the average citizen, or even to local law enforcement officers. If there is another terror strike, however, we can be sure that the White House, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency will be quick to remind everyone that they saw it coming this time and did their best to prevent it. -- from a NY Times Editorial.

I think the Times is partly right on this one: CYA is a major part of the warnings. But I think that the main reason for them is to maintain or increase the fear, the terror if you will, in the country. By keeping us afraid, they keep us docile, and keep many of us voting Republican, and many more of us from voting at all. The Times ends the editorial with this: The danger of the present system, apart from the sowing of generic fear, is that people will stop paying attention. That's exactly what the terrorists want. I say that the purpose of the present system is the sowing of generic fear, and is a form of terrorism as bad as any other.



 

from Slowpoke, a great weekly strip from Jen Sorensen.
posted by Bob at 9:35 AM

 
Get your repression all lined up early: US Agencies are tracking Iraqis here in the US in case they decide to try to terrorize our country when we start (continue) terrorizing theirs.

Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is departing as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an interview this week that American intelligence agencies, in particular the F.B.I., had failed to consider the full range of threats that might stem from a war with Iraq.

Mr. Graham said that beyond threats from Al Qaeda, American intelligence agencies had not adequately assessed threats posed by other Middle Eastern terror groups that are likely to be inflamed by a war with Iraq, among them Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

"I think we make a mistake when we assume that the threat is only Al Qaeda," Mr. Graham said. "There are a lot of terror groups out there, some of them with a large presence in the United States, who shouldn't be dismissed because in the past they have not attacked in the United States."

Wouldn't it be a easier, and a lot nicer, just to call off the war? Or is the plan just to continue with serial wars around the world, provoking the occasional terror attack, giving the Bushies the green light to lock up or deport more and more of the nonwhite population in America? It's hard to tell the difference between a North Korean and a South Korean, and a lot of white Americans can't distinguish between Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese. It sounds more and more like we are fighting wars to provoke terror rather than to suppress it.


 
The worst and the best: Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan are a study in contrasts (much like this blog is a study in cliches). The city is mostly liberal, with a city council willing to pass living wage ordinances and political statements like opposition to war with Iraq (I hope). The University has world-famous experts on every conceivable subject, is a hotbed of research, and is a place where lectures and discussions on the latest topics take place daily.

And then there are those seven Saturdays every fall when UM has a home football game. Giant SUV's, most with two car flags (most have two UM flags; some have one UM and one US), invade the city hours before the game. They park and set up "tailgate" parties where they consume mass quantities of dead animals and alcohol. I had the dubious privilege yesterday of joining that mob at the game when I was given a ticket by someone at work. It's a spectacle, for sure, 110 thousand people sitting on cold bleachers to watch the game, the bands, and the banner-towing planes advertising "adult entertainment." It's also a cure for any sneaking suspicions you may have about there being hope for humanity. Aside from preppy and obnoxious, there are very few attitudes prevalent among the 110 thousand. There were several drunks in the seats around me, one of whom said something about every 20 seconds, all of which were variations on the theme of "Wisconsin sucks." Michigan won (yay) and I didn't see any players carted off never to walk again, so I guess it was a success. But it is scary that the most popular non-TV entertainment in Ann Arbor is one in which people spend $40 and up to go be total jerks for four hours.

On the other hand, the best entertainment in town started several hours later. This was the Amazin' Blue a capella singing group. While the football players use their considerable talents in smashing each other, the students in Amazin' Blue use their abilities to brighten the world with music. And while I'm pretty sure that I wasn't the only one who was somewhat miserable at the football game, and certainly not the only one who was glad when it ended, there is no doubt that no one at the Amazin' Blue concert was at all unhappy until it ended. So I experienced the worst and best of Ann Arbor in a ten-hour period. And I'm almost thawed out.


Friday, November 15, 2002

 
A government lawyer argued that bird lovers benefit when the military kills birds because "bird watchers get more enjoyment spotting a rare bird than they do spotting a common one." -- from the LA Times via Politics in the Zeros. Your government: making nature rare so you'll appreciate it more. It's more than bad enough when the government isn't zealous in pursuing the protection of the environment and human rights. It is downright criminal when they are zealously pursuing the destruction of the environment and human rights. Maybe we can pass an initiative to have all lawyers who have been appointed by the Bushies be declared enemy combatants.
posted by Bob at 10:40 PM

 
The United States currently faces as grave a threat to its founding principles of democracy, equality and justice as it has seen in more than two centuries. Al Qaeda isn't the danger, though the seeds for future terrorism are being planted today by American foreign policy. The peril derives from a remarkable coalescing of a shortsighted, ill-tempered president advised by authoritarian ideologues, a frightened, passive populace, a lazy, compliant media and the abdication of meaningful political opposition in order to temper those leaders' most extreme impulses. That lethal combination has led to a vicious right-wing power grab, curtailed civil liberties and led to the U.S. being viewed by other nations as an out-of-control rogue state which needs to be appeased because of its arsenal rather than respected for its good sense.

We survived the Civil War, so we can probably endure two more years of George W. Bush's assaults on the our way of life. But who knows how much damage a "Republican" victory in 2004 would do to core American values--make no mistake, this obscene junta isn't the patriotic, sane Republican Party of Eisenhower, Reagan or the first President Bush.
...
Whether a liberal or a centrist strategy is chosen isn't as important as it would be if the opponent were less dangerous. What matters is getting George W. Bush the hell out of Al Gore's house.

-- from Ted Rall


 
WTO and CIA are the real terrorists of the world today! -- Chant from WTO protesters in Sydney, Australia, reported in the NY Times.
posted by Bob at 9:39 AM

 
Gore already was making political news. On Wednesday night, he told a New York audience he has "reluctantly come to the conclusion" that the only solution to the "impending crisis" in health care is a "single-payer national health insurance plan" for all Americans. -- from the Washington Post. Interesting development--maybe Gore is becoming a Democrat (reluctantly).
posted by Bob at 8:19 AM

Thursday, November 14, 2002

 
And if, one caller queried, no weapons of mass destruction were found by U.N. weapons inspectors inside Iraq?

"What it would prove would be that the inspection process had been successfully defeated by the Iraqis," [Rumsfeld] said. "There's no question but that the Iraqi regime is clever, they've spent a lot of time hiding things, dispersing things, tunneling underground."
from CNN. There you have it. If the inspectors find weapons, we're going to war. If they don't find weapons, we're going to war. Rummy promises that it won't be World War III.

"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won't last any longer than that," he said in an hourlong interview for Infinity Broadcasting.

I don't know about that. Sounds like trying to do a controlled burn at a fireworks factory. Rummy also threw in a whopper, which CNN was good enough to point out:

"The president has not suggested that that is going to be needed," Rumsfeld said, although President Bush has said many times that military force will be used to make Iraq comply.

While CNN on TV is almost unwatchable these days, I'm starting to like their web site. They have a lot of stories I don't find on the NY Times, and they seem to be willing to point out when the Bushies are stretching the truth. Meanwhile, the Times is throwing in gratuitous insults at Argentina and deceptive praise of Bush ("served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War").


 
My niece has her own blog now! Check it out!
posted by Bob at 7:15 PM

 
I'm reposting my "Night Before Baghdad" poem with a minor modification due to the honorable anti-war votes of Senators Boxer and Levin. Unfortunately, there were plenty of others to take their place. I gave the "honor" to Senators Feinstein and Schumer as their votes were probably most at odds with the desires of their constituents (Feinstein admitted as much):

The Night Before Baghdad, by Bob Goodsell

'Twas the night before Baghdad, and through the White House
Not a Bushie was thinking, not even his spouse
The war maps were hung by the table with care
In hopes that Dick Cheney soon would be there.

The prez he was nestled all snug in his bed
While visions of 2004 danced in his head
With Condi on keyboard and Colin on bass
Rummy on vocals sang "Bush won't lose face!"

When out in the Rose Garden came such a noise
It had to be Rummy's destructive war toys
But what to our wondering noses we smelled
But a six-foot-six driver on one giant camel.

"Tell me," said Condi, "is that a llama?"
"No, token black woman! That is Osama!"
He hopped off his camel and gathered his rifle
Clearly this was someone with whom we won't trifle.

He walked to the door and went in front of us
He asked to be taken to the Oval Office
The Senate had some of its members in there
And when he arrived he gave them a scare.

"Out Daschle! Out Feinstein! Out Smiling Joe Lieberman!
Out Lott! Out Hatch! Out Schumer! Out Clinton!
You're self-serving pawns of the corporate swine
Selling your souls to the Bush-Cheney line.

"I wanted a war 'twixt Islam and West
You've given me everything! Thanks, you're the best!
Thanks Condi, thanks Rummy, and thanks Colin, too!
And when he wakes up, please thank W!"

He went to the warroom and smiled at the plans
"The hated Saddam is soon a dead man!
The world in turmoil will be fertile ground
For radical Islam to be spread around!"

And flipping a finger toward one and all
He laughed so hard that it shook down the wall
It made so much noise that the prez left his sack
And came down to ask "Is it time to attack?"

And back to the garden Osama did go
No chicken hawk stopped him as he walked out the do'
Not Rummy, not Condi, not one of the staff
Stopped Osama bin Laden or his terrible laugh.

Then George Bush the Senior entered the room
By reading his lips we all sensed the gloom
"You've tried your best, George, I'll give you that, son
But make no mistake: the terrorists have won."


 
Paying only the interest on the loan is not enough to avoid Argentina entering into default -- a move that relegates it to a club of debt deadbeats that includes Iraq and Zimbabwe. -- from the NY Times, showing extreme callousness to one of the largest victims of globalization to date. Argentina has repeatedly swallowed the painful medicine prescribed by the World Bank, the IMF, and the US government (pretending for the moment that there is some difference between the three), only to find itself in its worst economic crisis yet. And the supposedly liberal "newspaper of record" chides it for being a "debt deadbeat," and not on the editorial page, either. And I wonder why Iraq might have defaulted. Could it be that the world's most powerful country has bombed, blockaded and threatened it for twelve years running?

As was the case I discussed on Monday about Bush's "serving during the Vietnam war", the nasty little sentence I quoted above ended the Times' article. Were these sentences perhaps tacked on by editors? Who suffers if Argentina pays off the debt? Millions of Argentines. Who suffers if they don't? Huge transnational banks. Whose side is the Times on? Reread the quote above.


 
Daschle Questions Progress in War on Terrorism: A little late, Tom. The election was last week.
posted by Bob at 11:58 AM

 
Thirteen members of the Security Council were opposed to this resolution or deeply skeptical, but Washington used intense pressure and eventually bent them to its will. The U.S. used hardball diplomacy of the type deployed to gain the first Gulf War resolution in 1990. The Secretary of State at that time, James Baker, later described in his autobiography how he lined up votes for resolution 678: 'I met personally with all my Security Council counterparts in an intricate process of cajoling, extracting, threatening, and occasionally buying votes. Such are the politics of diplomacy." -- a quote within a quote within a quote: James Paul, executive director of the Global Policy Forum quoted in the Institute for Public Accuracy's critique of the latest UN resolution. Thus we have threatened and bought the votes of the Security Council to enforce the resolutions that we threatened and bought the votes for twelve years ago.
posted by Bob at 10:56 AM

 
Meanwhile, back in Kabul: Afghan police shoot student protesters.
posted by Bob at 10:46 AM

 

posted by Bob at 10:34 AM

 
More bad news from the NY Times article on the Homeland Security bill:

Yup. All of that crap in one article.


 
Can't pull the wool over Kofi's eyes: Annan said the United States is "seen to have a lower threshold" for determining what constitutes a material breach, something that he warned could be interpreted as "a flimsy or hasty attempt to go to war." Concern that the United States would be quick to attack was among the reasons it took so long to get a resolution approved by the council, he said. -- from CNN.

To me, the scariest part of Clinton's Lewinsky affair was the lengths to which he appeared willing to go to deny it. He was the perfect target for blackmail: the most powerful man in the world with a secret he doesn't want to get out. Who knows what deals he may have made during the year he tried to cover it up. Our current situation is even scarier: W appears willing to do just about anything to get his war with Iraq. We may not know for 25 years, if we ever do, what he gave away to get the votes of Russia, China, France, Mexico, and Syria(!!) for the latest Iraq resolution. We do know that he has basically sold out the hopes of rebels in Chechnya and in China's western provinces for support from the US. W's fanatical devotion would be scary even if it were for an honorable cause; one should never want anything this badly. That it is for a criminal and incomprehensible cause such as war with Iraq just boggles the mind.


 

Why are these men smiling?





They have just sold us down the river by helping "President" Bush create a Department of Homeland Security, our very own Gestapo. The bill has already passed the House, and is expected to pass the Senate by tomorrow. Here are some of the lowlights, from CNN:
And read what William Safire has to say about the worst part of the bill:

Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database."

To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you — passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance — and you have the supersnoop's dream: a "Total Information Awareness" about every U.S. citizen.

And this from Richard Nixon's old speechwriter. Imagine what Paul Wellstone would say. Basically, the bill says that we'll never really know what went wrong that allowed 9/11 to happen, since that would make most of the other fascist provisions of the bill unnecessary. Perhaps an independent investigation would have discovered that the Bush administration knew what was coming and ignored it since it would give them the green light they needed to grab Afghanistan, Iraq, and who knows where else. The recommendation might have been that impeachment was the only step needed to improve our security. To amend an old saying: Truth is the first casualty of Bush. And the next time you fly across the country, the government may be reviewing your travel plans and everything else you've ever done and decide to arrest you at the arrival gate. That is if your pilot hasn't shot you first.


Wednesday, November 13, 2002

 
Lest we have any hope that Saddam's acceptance of the UN resolution means there won't be a war: U.S. Scoffs at Iraq Claim of No Weapons of Mass Destruction. I'm starting to wonder if the "inspectors" might actually smuggle WMD's into Iraq, just like a redneck cop "finding" a bag of pot in a hippie's car. "Well, lookie here! Does that look like a chem-ee-cal weapon to you, Fred?" "It shore 'nough does, Elroy. I think we done caught us a cheater, un huh. Ol George 'll sho be innersted in seeing this, yessiree."
posted by Bob at 10:07 PM

 
California Coastal Records Project -- Aerial Photographs of the California Coastline -- from Polizeros.
posted by Bob at 4:54 PM

 
F.C.C. Approves Merger of Comcast and AT&T -- just in case anyone still doubts for whom the government works. This is seriously bad stuff. More of our money goes to a tiny number of extremely rich people who will continue to limit our access to information. That Colin Powell's son Michael is the FCC Chairman is beyond scary. It's only a matter of time before our Internet access is limited to approved sites: maybe just a few dozen channels owned by three or four corporations, just like cable TV. Read my blog while you still can! I have begun planning my "message in a bottle" blog for the future.

As I said yesterday about the proposed CNN-ABC News merger, there is already way too much media consolidation. The only debate that should be going on now is how quickly and into how many thousands of pieces these monsters should be broken up.


 
Iraq accepts UN resolution. Sorry, George. Maybe you can enjoy that PlayStation 2 those guys bought for you in the meantime. I'm sure Dick and the gang will come up with some excuse for you to pulverize Iraq soon.
posted by Bob at 11:52 AM

 
Automakers ecstatic over Republican Congress. No need to worry about fuel economy or pollution now. Just get rich while destroying the planet.
posted by Bob at 10:15 AM

 
Bad news overload:
Don't worry about OBL, though. Our military leaders are hot on his trail:

Speaking today in West Palm Beach, Fla., Gen. Tommy R. Franks, chief of the U.S. Central Command, said he did not know where bin Laden was, but was sure the al Qaeda leader was "having a bad year." Even his 5-year-old granddaughter asks him about bin Laden's whereabouts, Franks said. "I tell her, I don't know," he said. "But if he's alive, we'll certainly get him." Of course, it will have to wait until we're done killing 5-year-old granddaughters in Iraq in the name of peace. The world is "having a bad year."


 
Gestapo go-ahead: Congressional "leaders" have worked out a deal so that the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security ("Ministry of Love" or "Miniluv" in Newspeak) can proceed, possibly as soon as Friday. Always a tower of principled strength, "Senator Tom Daschle, the majority leader, said he disagreed with the plan but would not block its passage. His staff released a schedule showing how the bill could be approved as soon as Friday." Way to stand up for our freedoms, Tom.

The agreement gives the Bush administration a free hand to jettison Civil Service rules in promoting and firing workers in the new agency and allows the president to exempt unionized workers from collective-bargaining agreements in the name of national security.

Wonderful. Not only are unions flushed further down the toilet, it looks as though the Bushies will have full power to hire and fire agency employees. So some border cop or Coast Guard officer who takes the Constitution a little too seriously can be out of work on a moment's notice, and good luck finding another decent job in this economy. Doubleplusungood! (Reminder: Orwell's "1984" is pretty much required reading for understanding this blog. It is also required reading for understanding what the Bushies are doing. You can probably still buy a copy at a used book store that won't show up on an FBI computer somewhere.)


Tuesday, November 12, 2002

 
Viagra lockdown: I work in a building on the edge of the University of Michigan's North Campus in Ann Arbor. Most of the buildings in the immediate neighborhood are a part of Pfizer's world headquarters and research facilities. As you are probably aware, Pfizer is one of the world's largest drug companies, and its most famous product is Viagra. (They are in the process of merging with Pharmacia, makers of Rogaine, so they will soon have the aging men market cornered.) Anyhow, there has been a big increase in security at Pfizer's buildings recently, especially the big one across the street. Two or three months ago armed guards showed up at every driveway, and now they have put big steel sliding gates across at least one driveway. I wonder what's up over there. Doesn't exactly give me that warm, fuzzy feeling; it's more that cold, clammy one. The place already looks like the compound of a Bond villain.

Also, if you saw any of Liddy Dole's victory speech in North Carolina, you'll realize why Bob Dole needs Pfizer's most famous product, and lots of it. Just think--in one house, a senator-elect and a senator-erect.


 
Vigilante Vegetarian: He's famous for his subway connection, but he's no Jared. "I think a quarter of the world's problems would be solved if most people would become vegetarians," he says. Still, he's not the ideal veggie spokesperson, since he's Bernard Goetz, the infamous subway vigilante.
posted by Bob at 3:04 PM

 
Bechtel (boo!!!) vs Bolivia (yay!!!). Bechtel is suing Bolivia for $25 million it claims it lost in its effort to privatize the water system of Cochabamba, Bolivia's third largest city. The case goes before a secret World Bank court, somewhere, sometime. Top secret, you know. Can't let anyone know who is responsible for stealing their water and selling it to the highest bidder. Globalization along the lines of NAFTA, the World Bank, the WTO, and the proposed FTAA is a crime of immense proportions against humanity.
posted by Bob at 10:57 AM

 
A year later, still no explanation, except "it wasn't terrorism." American Airlines Flight 587 crashed one year ago today shortly after taking off from JFK Airport in New York. Although several witnesses saw what looked like explosions or fires on the wings, the official line so far is: The crash was caused by large movements in the rudder. Probably the pilot's fault. We'll let you know. Sometime. Maybe. For sure we'll let you know before we tell you why Wellstone's plane crashed. Don't hold your breath. I'll repeat my suggestion that I made months ago: The timing and conclusions of the crash investigation have much more to do with politics and propaganda than they do with the evidence. A second terror attack in New York two months after 9/11 might have made the Bushies appear more incompetent than resolute. By failing to issue a report on this crash, they can use it to support their next war. Well, what do you know? Turns out it was a missile after all. Launched by terrorists from (take your pick) Iraq/Iran/North Korea/Cuba/Colombia/Saudi Arabia/Syria/China. This shall not stand. Huff. Puff.
posted by Bob at 10:07 AM

 
Oh joy. It is now apparently up to Saddam Hussein whether World War III starts this week. Of course, even Saddam's most abject capitulation to Bush's demands is unlikely to prevent Bush from finding some excuse for war. And while capitulation at this point would probably save the lives of many Iraqis, it is probably at least as dangerous to Saddam personally as letting the war happen. Once the well-armed "inspectors" authorized by the UN resolution go into Iraq, chances are good that they will be searching for Saddam at least as much as they are for weapons. If they find him, he will be either arrested or, more likely, assassinated. I may be wrong about that, but I'm pretty sure that is how Saddam sees it. If so, will he put the well-being of the Iraqi people ahead of his own? As I said yesterday, there doesn't seem to be much of a chance for anything good to come out of this.
posted by Bob at 9:53 AM

 
From the WSWS: The commentators fail to ask the obvious question: who and what has made it possible for a president who lost the popular vote and was undemocratically installed in office, and who is widely derided as ignorant and inarticulate, to exercise such supposed power?
posted by Bob at 6:53 AM

Monday, November 11, 2002

 
Not that there was much hope for peace left, but it looks like the last faint glimmer is fast disappearing: Iraqi parliament condemns U.N. resolution on weapons inspectors. Anything left to hope for? How about minimal casualties on both sides, combined with a major disruption in oil supplies leading to price increases and shortages, causing major political damage to the Bushies? About the best I can come up with at this point. There really seems to be no desirable outcome possible now.
posted by Bob at 3:12 PM

 
The Senate is planning to quickly pass the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security. Unfortunately, we probably don't have much chance of stopping this domestic gestapo now that the Republitrons are in charge, but we should still put up a fight. Write, call, or e-mail your senators today and let them know that you don't want America to be a police state.
posted by Bob at 2:41 PM

 
Bush served as a Texas Air National Guard pilot during the Vietnam War. -- The NY Times ends its article with this single sentence, with no explanation that Bush never went to Vietnam, and that he was AWOL from the Air National Guard for a year. The Times' quote implies that W actually fought in Vietnam. My sister got married in 1967, and I brought snacks to guests at the reception. So I guess I can say that I served during the Vietnam War, too. Oh liberal media, wherefore art thou?
posted by Bob at 11:47 AM

 
Bush said a new regime "would bring deliverance" for Iraq's citizens. "We have no territorial ambitions. We don't seek an empire. Our nation is committed to freedom, for ourselves and for others. We and our allies have fought evil regimes and left in place self-governing and prosperous nations," he said.

Oh yeah? Where? Is he going back to World War II with Germany and Japan? Have any of our many military interventions since resulted in "self-governing and prosperous nations?" In many of them, we fought WITH evil regimes (Vietnam, El Salvador, Afghanistan). The truth is, Bush probably doesn't know the history, and he doesn't care. Worst president ever.



 
A thrilling first-person action game. Become a member of the world's premier land force; trained and equipped to achieve decisive victory—anywhere. Earn the right to call yourself a Soldier, letting the enemies of freedom know that America's Army has arrived...

That's right, you can download a free first-person shoot-em-up game, "America's Army," from the US Army website.


 
Whitewater in Arkansas again! Subsidized rice farmers in Arkansas want the Federal government to pay for diverting water from the White River to irrigate their crops, since they have almost completely drained the large aquifer under their farms. Arkansas gets about 50 inches of rain per year, enough for decent crop yields without irrigation. Sustainability without further attacks on the environment is the only reasonable option, one unlikely to get consideration from our current "government."

As I've ranted about before, water is the BIG ISSUE for the 21st century. Corporations are already grabbing up as much as they can, while more and more fresh water is polluted by chemicals and animal feed lots or depleted by irrigation and global warming. While we can live without oil, and in many ways life would be more pleasant, we can't live without water, and there are shortages occurring throughout the world, including within the US. A responsible government, something we haven't had for a long time, would put an immediate stop to frivolous and wasteful uses of water: golf courses, suburban lawns, feed lots, and many others.

The "Politics in the Zeros" weblog has an ongoing page of water-related stories and links.


 
Somehow this one slipped under my radar until now, but...

Aaaaaarrrrgh!


Still more media consolidation? CNN and ABC?The implications are staggering. This Week with Wolf and Cokie? Puff the Media Dragon, sung by Peter, Paula and Barbara? Christiane Amanpour and Mickey Mouse live on location at George H.W. Bush Air Force Base in suburban Baghdad? And there are already ties between Disney (ABC) and GE (NBC) through MSN (Microsoft). The Soviet Union had Tass and Pravda; soon we will have only CNN-ABC-MSNBC and CBS-Fox to choose from, each trying to outdo the other in crime and war coverage.

Media consolidation is one of the main problems in the country and world today, but instead of taking steps to reverse it, it is being allowed, even encouraged, to continue.


 
Ain't no stoppin' us now:
By February or March, the U.S. media will likely be flooded with dire warnings about the threat to the world from Iran. Israel's American lobby will turn its guns from Iraq to Iran. "Links" will surely be "discovered" between Iran and al-Qaida. The cookie-cutter pattern that worked for whipping up war psychosis against Iraq should work just as well against Iran, Syria or Saudi Arabia - and win the next national election. -- Eric Margolis from Toronto says that Iran is the real target of the Iraq war for both the US and Israel. The case against Iran should be easier to make than that against Iraq, since there will actually be some truth to the "supports terrorism" charges and since Iran's weapons of mass destruction program is further along than Iraq's, not having been hampered by 11 years of inspections, sanctions and bombing. While targeting Iran doesn't make sense to me, having it as the main target provides a better explanation for the first two W wars, especially Afghanistan. Of course, 9/11 provided the excuse for Afghanistan, although 9/11 could have been used with at least as much justification as a reason to attack Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Germany, or Florida. These would have been politically more difficult, since of these only Florida has leadership as evil as the Taliban, but lots of Americans have parents and grandparents living there, so bombing Tampa instead of Kandahar would have been a tough sell. The fact that Afghanistan had no military with a chance of competing with the Pentagon also contributed to the decision. But seen in the light of creating an Iran on Afghan-Iraqi bread sandwich, the choices of Afghanistan and Iraq as the first two W wars makes more sense. Sure don't make it right, though.

posted by Bob at 9:28 AM

Sunday, November 10, 2002

 
One small break from the doom and gloom: Nigeria says it won't allow the stoning of women accused of adultery.
posted by Bob at 5:31 PM

 
From the prologue to The Post-Corporate World by David Korten:

In the Post-Corporate World I refine the analysis to argue that the problem is not the market as such but more specifically capitalism, which is to a healthy market economy what cancer is to a healthy body. Cancer occurs when genetic damage causes a cell to forget that it is part of a larger body, the healthy function of which is essential to its own survival. The cell begins to seek its own growth without regard to the consequences for the whole, and ultimately destroys the body that feeds it. As I learned more about the course of cancer's development within the body, I came to realize that the reference to capitalism as a cancer is less a metaphor than a clinical diagnosis of a pathology to which market economies are prone in the absence of adequate citizen and governmental oversight. Our hope for the future is to restore the health of our democracies and market economies by purging them of the pathology.

When dealing with a cancer of the body, containment is rarely an adequate strategy. To become healthy, one needs a curative regime designed to remove or kill the defective cells. Some combination of surgical removal with measures to weaken the cancer cells and strengthen the body's natural defenses is likely to be appropriate. There is a strong parallel to the task now before us. Curing the capitalist cancer to restore democracy, the market, and our human rights and freedoms will require virtually eliminating the institution of the limited-liability for-profit public corporation as we know it to create a post-corporate world through actions such as the following:


I have no illusions that removal of the capitalist cancer will be easily accomplished. Rarely is cancer in any of its manifestations easily cured.
On the other hand, I see no realistic prospect for the amicable coexistence of life and capitalism. They represent ways of being and valuing as antithetical to one another as the coexistence of cancer cells and healthy cells. Any seeming accomodation between them is inherently unstable and most likely to be resolved in favor of the cancer. On a small and crowded planet with a finite life-support system, our choice as a species is basically between life after capitalism and severe global-scale social and environmental collapse.

posted by Bob at 5:19 PM

 
Oh Boy More Fear And Gluttony / Darkness falls across the land, flowers wilt, the GOP takes full, and frightening, control -- from Mark Morford, SF Gate.

As noted crusty and ruthless and largely unpleasant former Clinton adviser James Carville observed just after the election, "The American people just don't have a clue as to what's coming."

If you are female, gay, bisexual, atheist, black, immigrant, poor, progressive, intellectual, open minded, open hearted, if you hold alternative views, dress funny, dance, enjoy sex, read seditious literature, believe in peace and funky spirituality and don't particularly care for a sneering angry self-righteous well-armed anti-everything deity, you are about to find out. The hard way. And so is everyone else.

If that's not depressing enough, you can read the whole article.


 
Pentagon Plans a Computer System That Would Peek at Personal Data of Americans: Headed up by convicted Iran-Contra conspirator Admiral John Poindexter, "The Pentagon is constructing a computer system that could create a vast electronic dragnet, searching for personal information as part of the hunt for terrorists around the globe — including the United States." Well, I'll make it easy for you, Poindexter. I'm a member of the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and the League of American Bicyclists. I voted for McCain and Nader in 2000, I supported numerous Democrats in the 2002 elections, and not only do I believe that George W. Bush is our worst president ever, I write about it incessantly on the web. These activities are not illegal, Poindexter, unlike your Iran-Contra shenanigans. But right now I'm a lot more afraid of dying in prison, uncharged and unrepresented, than I am of being killed by any terrorist (except maybe Bush).

How is it that Jeb Bush and Florida won't let convicts who have served their time (five years for a few ounces of marijuana, for instance) even vote, while his brother George allows convicts like Poindexter, Elliot Abrams (director of the National Security Council’s office for democracy, human rights and international operations), and John Negroponte (ambassador to the UN) to have high positions in government? Poindexter, by the way, didn't go to prison because he testified against the other two, who didn't go to prison because Poppy Bush pardoned them.

BTW, read what a Canadian Member of Parliament had to say about W's appointment of Abrams last year.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

 
Mr. Hussein has proven to be a vicious adversary, and senior administration officials have mounted a campaign to warn Iraq's military commanders that they will be charged with war crimes if they unleash weapons of mass destruction. This week, Mr. Bush hinted at another concern, that the Iraqi government would purposefully sacrifice its population to stain an American military victory with civilian blood. -- from an abominable NY Times article worthy of the worst of Nazi or Soviet propaganda. The US is planning an unprovoked act of agression against Iraq, and is preparing to blame Iraqis if US forces kill Iraqi civilians, which they undoubtedly will. And the Times just spouts this nonsense as if it were logical and obvious. Hussein a vicious adversary? The "Mother of all battles" in 1991 caused approximately the same number of US casualties as the Somalia campaign against a few disorganized warlords. And several of the casualties were friendly fire. Iraq was formidable and vicious against Iran, but they had the help of US arms and intelligence back then. Our planes have been bombing Iraq regularly for years now, and I don't think any have been shot down. The US is planning on stomping on a country that was crushed in 1991 and has had no opportunity to recover since. This sounds like the Michigan football coach saying "We're not looking past Rice, they've got some great athletes over there" before Michigan fries Rice 56-3. Except we're adding that "If they do try to beat us, not only will we crush them on the field, but we're going to rape their cheerleaders and shoot their coaches after the game."

At the very least, the Times could insert a sentence like this: "War appears imminent now that Mr. Bush's campaign of lies, distortions and intimidation has given him approval from the US Congress and the UN Security Council to proceed with this criminal endeavor."


 

Hundreds of Thousands in Italy Protest War


Estimates ranged from 450,000 to 1 million. I think it's about time for marches this big here. Take to the streets. Repeat as needed.
posted by Bob at 10:02 PM

 
Getting to the heart of the matter: President Bush is a liar. -- from Eric Alterman. Alterman wonders why the press is so reluctant to point out the lies of presidents, and especially why lies leading us into war are seen as less important than lies about sex.
posted by Bob at 7:52 PM

 

Birds of a feather:


and
Reporter: Mr. Bush, did you know about 9/11 before it happened?
W: Iraq!!
Reporter: What about all those innocent civilians killed in Afghanistan?
W: Iraq!!
Reporter: Tell us about your Harken stock sale.
W: Bbbbbbbbbb...
Reporter: Who did the vice president talk to to come up with that insane energy policy, anyway?
W: Iraq!!!!
Reporter: And whatever happened to Osama bin Laden?
W: Iraq. (waddle, waddle)
posted by Bob at 7:33 PM

 
UN resolution on Iraq: a cynical cover for US aggression -- from the WSWS. Executive summary: The terrorists have won. Osama bin Laden and George WW III Bush have gotten pretty much everything they could have hoped for from the UN. Life is going to seriously suck for the foreseeable future, and not just in Iraq.
posted by Bob at 6:15 PM

 
Ain't no stopping a bad idea: SUV's. Reality TV shows. Those silly "Whatever on Board" diamond-shaped signs back in the '80's. Car flags. Suburbs. Republicanism. The chicken dance. This country is an ideal medium for growing bad ideas, like old bread is for mold. While good ideas like universal health care and public funding of campaigns go nowhere, an incredibly stupid idea like going to war with Iraq just won't die. Killing Iraqi people to save them, using weapons of mass destruction to eliminate them, and burning huge amounts of fossil fuels to steal even more. It's criminal, it's insane, it's exceedingly dangerous to everyone. Its main proponent is an inarticulate ne'er-do-well who bought and cheated his way into the world's most powerful job. He has made his case using obvious lies and ridiculously inflammatory logic. In a sane world, this idea would have died stillborn, sort of like Hillary's 1993 health care plan. Unfortunately, this world is far from sane, the bad idea has grown from a single virus to a life-threatening disease, and the mayhem is about to begin. May God, Allah, Mother Nature, and the Great Pumpkin help us all.
posted by Bob at 8:24 AM

Friday, November 08, 2002

 
Politics in the Zeros has started a voting reform page, leading off with an article on "Instant Runoff Voting" (IRV). I'm frequently amazed at how many Americans seem to accept that choosing between the lesser of two evils on the first Tuesday of November is a good enough approximation to democracy. There are many ways, both simple and complex, to improve the system so that it more accurately reflects the "will of the people." IRV is one way. Proportional representation is probably a better way, since it leaves a lot fewer people unrepresented. A combination of the two could easily be worked out. Polizeros promises an article on proportional representation soon.
posted by Bob at 2:49 PM

 
British court objects to Gitmo detentions: Of course, the picture below is a fitting illustration for this story as well.
posted by Bob at 2:20 PM

 
What this blog is like:

Thanks to the Politics in the Zeros blog for that pic!
posted by Bob at 2:15 PM

 
United Nations, United States, United Airlines, United Fruit, what's the dif? The latest Bushisms:
"I need to be able to move the right people to the right place at the right time to protect you, and I'm not going to accept a lousy bill out of the United Nations Senate."—South Bend, Ind., Oct. 31, 2002

(I was in South Bend the very next day, and I didn't say anything nearly that stupid, but Bush's candidate won anyway. This world sucks.)

"John Thune has got a common-sense vision for good forest policy. I look forward to working with him in the United Nations Senate to preserve these national heritages."

"Any time we've got any kind of inkling that somebody is thinking about doing something to an American and something to our homeland, you've just got to know we're moving on it, to protect the United Nations Constitution, and at the same time, we're protecting you."—Aberdeen, S.D., same day (Thanks to George Dupper.)

You've just got to know that the Democrats had to be awfully resourceful to avoid coming up with campaign rhetoric that could beat this nonsense.


 
U of M punishes itself for basketball scandal, including the "Fab Five" era:
The group, and Webber specifically, was involved in one of the most memorable plays in N.C.A.A. basketball history — and one of the most painful for Michigan fans. In the 1993 championship game against North Carolina, Michigan was trailing by 2 points with 11 seconds left when Webber called a timeout, but the Wolverines had none to take. That resulted in a technical foul and an automatic change of possession. The Tar Heels won by 77-71.
So, if you look real hard, you can find a silver lining in this cloud. Since Webber shouldn't have been there, the game never happened, so he couldn't call a timeout he didn't have because there are no technical fouls in non-games. Michigan fans can stop pulling their hair out over that one now.

Still looking for a silver lining in Republican control of Congress. Nothin' yet...


 
The UN Security Council just passed the Iraq resolution. Bush probably gave Massachusetts to France, Alaska to Russia and Hawaii to China to buy their approval. This would totally bum me out, except that I'm already there.
posted by Bob at 10:32 AM

 
With the Hummer "People told me, `I can protect my family. If someone bumps into me, they're dead.' People love this feeling." One female H2 buyer told him: "I have three kids in the car with me and no one is going to look at me as a soccer mom." -- from the NY Times. If there is a more perfect symbol for everything that is wrong with America than the Hummer, it is George W. Bush. Or vice versa. I guess the perfect symbol of the moral bankruptcy of America would be George W. Bush driving a Hummer.

posted by Bob at 9:29 AM

 
I've added a link to PR Watch in the frame on the right (-->). They do a good job of spotting propaganda put out by governments and corporations. Of course that's pretty much like spotting water from a sinking boat, but most people in this country seem to be blissfully unaware of it (hence the election results). If you know someone who seems ready to have his or her eyes opened a little to the lies being told, but not quite ready to have them pried wide open by blogs like this one, point them to PR Watch.
posted by Bob at 9:16 AM

 
Distrust of government was an atmospheric factor, as was cynicism about politics. Events to follow will reinforce both attitudes. This reflects the GOP's asymmetric advantages. They gain power by disparaging government; once in government they make sure it's inefficient and ineffective. They believe (and want everybody to believe) politics is merely a commodity market for preferential treatments, and a corrupt market at that. No qualms and no ideals to interfere with message development ... "All's fair in the war of words". Dem's tend to see governance as productive, and communication as information-sharing. Cynicism is a one-sided advantage.
-- from the Cogent Provocateur blog.
posted by Bob at 8:28 AM

 
In the opening moments of the news conference, Mr. Bush cast the confrontation as one that pitted "the civilized world" against a murderous tyrant. -- from the NY Times. It looks like the civilized world doesn't have much of a chance against Bush, at least in the short run.
posted by Bob at 12:20 AM

 
Krugman: Into the Wilderness.
posted by Bob at 12:13 AM

Thursday, November 07, 2002

 
Build up the Gestapo and expand the War on Everything: Now that the checks have bounced and the balances have all tipped over, W is ready to speed up his agenda of repression, greed, and war. I've been reading the post mortems on the Democrats' sorry excuse for a campaign, trying to figure out what to do next. Can the Democratic party be saved? Is it worth saving? If they are committed to choosing among Republicrats like Daschle, Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Lieberman, Kerry or Gore for their 2004 presidential candidate, I'm inclined to jump straight to the Greens and make an all out push for progressive Democrats like Kucinich, Feingold and Barbara Lee to jump ship as well. Let the Republicrats either join their buddies in the Republican party or just simply disappear from public life. None of them offers any hope of addressing the major disasters facing the world. If we have to be stuck with a two-party system, let's make the Republicrats be one and the Greens be the other. And then let's help the Greens sweep the Republicrats out of office in 2004 and forever more.
posted by Bob at 4:53 PM

 
Can't Gitmo Satisfaction. Just because the "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay have been there for eleven months now rather than one or two doesn't make their imprisonment any less illegal or immoral. It makes it that much more so. I'm ashamed that my country is continuing to do this.
posted by Bob at 2:00 PM

 
Bowling for Columbine: I saw Michael Moore's latest movie last night. It is scary, thought-provoking, and funny. The theater was sold out, but, unlike Sunday, we got there while tickets were still available. I had seen clips from the movie on the Donahue show earlier, so there weren't many surprises. The main question the movie leaves you with is: Why are Americans so much more likely to shoot each other than citizens of almost any other country on earth? Moore debunks many of the common explanations offered by Charlton Heston and others in the movie: we have a history of war (but Germany and Japan have far fewer gun murders); we watch too much violent TV and play violent video games (the Japanese have us at least tied on this one); our population is ethnically diverse, we have a lot of poverty, and there are lots of guns around (all three apply at least equally to Canada, where gun violence is very rare). The comparisons with Canada are especially interesting, since they seem so much like us in many ways, but they live with less fear and more compassion. In any case, the movie is wonderful and I highly recommend it. If you're in the Ann Arbor area, tonight is the last night "Bowling for Columbine" is playing at the Michigan Theater. Check here for showings in your area.

One other note of interest (at least to me). I had pointed out before that there were connections between Gulf War I and pretty much every terrorist attack against the US since then--the first WTC attack, Oklahoma City, the African embassy bombings, the Cole, and 9/11 of course. I also noted that John Allen Muhammed, one of the sniper suspects, was a Gulf War I vet. In "Bowling for Columbine" they mentioned that the father of Eric Harris, one of the Columbine shooters, was a bomber pilot in Gulf War I. Violence begets violence, and the cities of this country are going to be more like Jerusalem than Toronto after Gulf War II starts in earnest. And I'm not sure that terrorism (as the Bushies like to call the small-scale warfare of our enemies who don't have countries) is our main concern. Our naked imperialistic grab for the world's resources will not go on for long without waking the Russian bear and the Chinese dragon, and 9/11 will be recalled, by those of us who survive, as a quaint little incident by comparison. Of course, I hope I'm wrong.


 
The Democrats did not provide a single reason for the oppressed layers of the population to rally to their support.
This is the real source of the Republican victory, not mass support for Bush and his right-wing program. The picture presented by the media of a people enthralled by their war-time leader is absurd. Working people in America have not suddenly and unaccountably decided that they passionately desire war, tax cuts for the wealthy, handouts to corporate interests, and the destruction of jobs and public social services.
-- from the World Socialist Web Site: US midterm election: the meaning of the Democratic debacle.
posted by Bob at 7:13 AM

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

 
A defiant Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader, said: "We're not going to go away. We may not be in the majority, but we're going to fight just as hard for the things we believe in now as we have before." -- from the NY Times. Oh great. A lame, wet-noodle effort to fight back by continuing to appease Bush. That's how you lost the "majority" part of your title, Mr. Daschle.
posted by Bob at 11:49 PM

 
Dirty tricks at the polls: this blog has a long list of election day shenanigans.
posted by Bob at 11:19 AM

 

Aaaargh!!!!!!


Except for here in Michigan, yesterday was pretty much a total disaster. The idiots have won. Even Harvey Pitt's resignation can't brighten the day, since with the Republitrons controlling the Senate there will be no stopping W from appointing someone even worse. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the new head of the SEC, Ken Lay! Coleman's win in Minnesota proves that crime does pay. And Democrats selling out on the Iraq war resolution wasn't a great election strategy, its total immorality aside. Of those who voted for war, Senators Carnahan and Cleland are out, while the re-elections of Johnson and Landrieu are still in doubt. While Senators Baucus, Biden, Harkin, Kerry and Rockefeller were re-elected after voting for war, Senators Durbin, Levin and Reed were re-elected after voting against it. The only senator who voted against war who won't be returning is Paul Wellstone, and they had to kill him to accomplish that. Vote for war: between 2 and 4 out of 9 Democratic incumbents rejected by voters. Vote against war: 3 of 3 Democratic incumbents returned to Senate by voters. Mr. Daschle's "leadership" has led him out of the Senate majority leader position.
Once again:

Aaaargh!!!!!!


posted by Bob at 9:49 AM

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

 
Taking it to the streets! 4:20 am, election day, 2002. The dark steets of South Bend, Indiana. Agent Bob and his team of guerilla Democrats are sneaking onto doorsteps and putting Jill Long Thompson door hangers on unsuspecting door handles. The goal: Maybe three of the two-hundred or so hangers will remind someone to vote, giving Jill a two-vote victory, thereby giving the Democrats a one-vote majority in the House, hopefully returning the country to some semblance of sanity. The hope is slim: lots of people won't see the hangers until tomorrow; many will have been turned off by the attack ads and decided not to vote; some may even be upset that Agent Bob and the Guerillas were lurking on their porches at 4:20 am and decide to vote for the Republican out of spite. Even if Jill gets elected, chances are slim that all of the other close House races will go Democratic, and even if they do, many Democrats, Jill included, have staked out positions close to 20 in the left-right scheme (see next post below). But Agent Bob knows that if Jill wins by a small number of votes and the Dems take the House by one vote, he will be one agent who is very happy that he went to South Bend and got up at 3:30 on a cold November morning.

And to borrow a schtick from Dave Barry: "Agent Bob and the Guerilla Democrats" would be a great name for a rock band.


 

Metaphor Alert!


Remember "pick a number," a method for picking who bats first or some other either/or decision? To pick a winner between two people, a third person says "I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 100." He then asks one of the two to take a guess and then the other, with the closest guess winning. At some point in your childhood you perhaps were impressed when the guessing went like this. A: 19. B: 20. B has realized that by picking 20 that he now has an 80% chance of winning, since any number between 20 and 100 will be closer to 20 than 19. I wish I could say that I figured this out myself and used it before seeing anyone else do it, but at least I recognized it when it happened. It seemed pretty brilliant at the time, but I realize now that its success depended on certain assumptions. The first assumption is that all numbers between 1 and 100 are equally likely. If the person picking the number was a three year old who could only count to 30 (he's heard rumors of 100, but doesn't know anything about it), 18 is probably a better guess for B than 20. The second assumption is that there are only two contestants. If a third person C is involved, 60 is probably a better guess than 20.

So, if haven't already seen where this metaphor is leading, allow me to (metaphorically) beat you over the head with it. The person picking the number represents the range of political positions in the American public--1 is far right, 100 is far left. A is the Republicans, B is the Democrats, and C is the Greens or other third parties. Both A and B have realized that their chances are improved by not allowing C to pick a number, so they do everything they can (which is a lot) to prevent that from happening. B, the Democrats, think they are pretty smart, picking 20 to the Republicans 19, figuring everyone to the left of 20 will vote Democratic. The problem is that by debating between 19 and 20 and excluding anyone who would pick higher numbers, the voting public has become like the kid who can only count to 30. Many are deceived that the Democrats are actually liberal, while others are up in the 70's and 80's, from which no real difference between A and B is discernable, so they don't vote at all. The Democrats, considering themselves brilliant by picking 20, have actually put themselves at a disadvantage by helping the Republicans reduce it to a game of 1 to 30. And any Democrat who starts to figure this out gets killed in a plane crash.


Monday, November 04, 2002

 
Control of House Expected to Stay in Hands of G.O.P. Can't let this happen! I'm heading back to South Bend to volunteer for Jill Long Thompson in her close congressional race, so no more blogging 'til probably tomorrow night, which will hopefully be a victory blog. If we fail then the idiots win! (see picture below)

posted by Bob at 9:40 AM

Sunday, November 03, 2002

 

David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
posted by Bob at 12:54 PM

 

from Steve Benson.
posted by Bob at 12:50 PM

 
Battle cry: This battle will determine whether our families pay $1.60 for a gallon of gas--or $2.20! --from Ted Rall's latest cartoon. For it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for? I don't know and don't give a damn, we're gonna beat Saddam. For it's five, six, seven, open up the tailgates--whoopee! We all gotta drive. At what price?
posted by Bob at 12:44 PM

Saturday, November 02, 2002

 
"One way to make sure our judges get approved on a timely basis is to change the leadership in the United States Senate," Bush said at a rally yesterday morning. -- from the Washington Post
. So if you want judges who will rule in favor of polluters and corporate crooks while declaring the rest of us enemy combatants without rights, stay home on Tuesday and let W get his way. But if you want to see at least a glimmer of hope for the future, do everything you can in the next three days to make Tuesday's vote a clear referendum against Bush and his evil ways. Find a close race near you and volunteer (I went to South Bend, Indiana yesterday to work for Democrat Jill Long Thompson), or make some phone calls to get out the vote in Oregon. Show Bush that the majority of us are voting against him--again.
posted by Bob at 9:27 AM

 
Among unanswered questions are why the plane made a slow turn to the south, away from the airport, and why it descended at a steeper-than-normal angle, before crashing into the woods. Witnesses have said the plane seemed to be flying low and sounded like it might be in trouble. Investigators have said the plane's last known airspeed was 85 knots, close to stall speed. from AP via NY Times. I'd say that these facts are completely consistent with my poison gas theory or something else that incapacitated the pilots quickly. I'll have to reinstall Flight Simulator on my computer and try preparing for a landing--flaps and gear down, trying to line up on the runway, and then just stop controlling the plane and see what happens. I think that a slow continuation of an already-started turn, followed by a stall leading to a steep dive to a crash, is a realistic possibility. The scenario of the Wellstone crash seems inconsistent with a major mechanical failure. If there was engine trouble, the pilots would have radioed in a mayday and asked for help in locating a road or field to land on if they couldn't make it to the airport. If they lost directional control of the plane, as the wide turn might suggest, they would have responded by adding throttle to gain altitude and buy time, and they would have radioed in the situation. The airliner that crashed in Iowa in 1989 lost most directional control (ailerons and rudder), but used different throttle settings on the left and right engines to steer the plane, with some success, towards an airport. It certainly seems to me that Wellstone's plane simply lost its sense of direction--that is, the pilots were incapacitated somehow. And it is hard to imagine that happening to both pilots at the same time unless foul play was involved. An alternative to the poison gas would be a suicide terrorist among the staff or the pilots.
posted by Bob at 12:54 AM

Friday, November 01, 2002

 
Given the close connections between Bush and members of his administration with Enron and other corporations involved in multi-billion dollar looting and swindling, it is perhaps not surprising to find “Enron methods” being transferred from the sphere of business to politics. Enron and the other corporate looters developed a method of accounting known as “backing in”. Instead of objective facts being brought together and reported in the balance sheet, the accountants started from the figures they wanted on the balance sheet and then worked back to make the accounting “facts” fit that outcome. The same method—outright lying—is being used on a daily basis to prepare for war against Iraq. -- from The WSWS.
posted by Bob at 11:06 AM

Thursday, October 31, 2002

 
Ted Rall weighs in on the possible assassination of Wellstone.
posted by Bob at 9:27 PM

 
Ever wanted to be a telemarketer, but just never felt the time was right? Well, there are some good democrats out in Oregon who might not actually fill out and return their ballots, which might allow Senator Smith to remain Senator Smith, which might make Trent Lott the Senate Majority Leader, which would certainly make this an even scarier and more unpleasant world in which to live. Frankly, I hate cold-calling people, but I made a bunch of calls to Oregon this afternoon on behalf of Democrat Bill Bradbury. You can too! Go to http://www.moveon.org/keepfighting/standup.html and sign up to help with the get-out-the-vote calls (actually, in Oregon they are send-in-the-vote calls). If you've got extra minutes on your cell phone like me, it may not cost you any extra, and it might keep some Antonin Scalia clone off the Supreme Court. It might keep us out of war with Trinidad AND Tobago (I know, we have no good reasons for going to war with either Trinidad OR Tobago, but that's not stopping us in Iraq, is it?). So why just let Oregonians hand out candy tonight? Give 'em a call, tell 'em to vote for Bradbury! (The website has complete scripts for you and gives you twenty names and numbers to call at a time.)
posted by Bob at 8:28 PM

 
Albanian and Russian Observers Sent to Monitor American Elections.
posted by Bob at 5:33 PM

 

Football Team Added to List of Terrorist Groups


Secretary of State Colin Powell announced today that the Oakland Raiders have been placed on the State Department's list of organizations with ties to terrorists. Raiders' General Manager Al Davis and quarterback Rich Gannon have been arrested, and are believed to be on their way to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said that at first he was shocked to hear that one of his teams was a front for terrorism, but when he heard that it was the Raiders he said "Well, yes, I guess I can see that." In a video released on al Jazeera TV in the Middle East, former Raider Jack Tatum was seen talking about the many terrorist activities of the Raiders. "People assumed I was called 'Assassin' because I hit receivers real hard," said Tatum. "And compare pictures of Sirhan Sirhan and John Hinckley with old Raider team photos--I think you'll discover something very interesting."
Tagliabue said that the remaining Raiders would be allowed to continue playing through the remainder of the season, but that any team losing to them or referee favoring the Raiders with a call would also be added to the State Department's list. Sources wouldn't confirm that one of the Raiders' acts of terror was picking the candidates in California's gubernatorial election.
posted by Bob at 5:14 PM

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

 
Ron Eibensteiner, the state Republican chairman, accused his opponents of exploiting a tragedy for political gain, and called on local television stations, which broadcast the service live, to provide his party equal free air time. -- from the NY Times. I swear, Republicans know no shame. They've been exploiting three tragedies for political gain throughout the campaign. One past tragedy: the September 11 attacks. One future tragedy: war on Iraq. And one ongoing tragedy: the Bush presidency. W gives free rides in Air Force One to Republican candidates and forces the war resolution vote before election day, and Republicans complain that Democrats use a memorial service for political gain. They just lost one of their best senators in a plane crash. I'm pretty sure that Wellstone would have liked that his death served as a rallying cry rather than an occasion for wailing and gnashing of teeth. I hope that Democrats keep control of the Senate and gain control of the House; that they remember what they are supposed to stand for (what Wellstone stood for) and start to act like a real opposition party; and that they get those impeachment proceedings started right after they have repealed USA Patriot and the war resolution. I hope Jeb and Katherine lose in Florida. Amen.
posted by Bob at 11:28 PM

 
Military Training and Violence "The result is we have become a nation full of people who are going to make others feel their pain. Whenever you feed death and violence and destruction to your children, you reap what you sow in about 15 years," he added. -- retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a former Army Airborne Ranger infantry officer and West Point Academy psychology and military science professor, quoted in the article linked to above.
posted by Bob at 2:40 PM

 
Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom you can decide you don't much care for. Is the person who prescribes your eyeglasses qualified to do so? How deep will you be buried when you die? What textbooks are your children learning from at school? What will happen if you become seriously ill? Is the meat you're eating tainted? Will you be able to afford to go to college or to send your kids? Would you like a vacation? Expect to retire before you die? Can you find a job? Drive a car? Afford insurance? Is your credit card company or your banker or your broker ripping you off? It's all politics, Bubba. You don't get to opt out for lack of interest. -- from Molly Ivins.

I, for one, am trying to make up for lost time. To be sure, I have voted in most elections since 1976, frequently for the wrong candidate, as I found out later. But this year I've hit the streets, made the calls, written the checks, and blogged away. My newfound activism can be traced most directly to one politician whose speeches and policies have inspired me like no other. I wish I could say that it was Paul Wellstone or Dennis Kucinich, but in fact it was none other than George W. Bush. Fear and loathing are powerful motivators.

I had vague feelings listening to Reagan and Clinton that they were lying, but I didn't really believe that they were rotten to the core. The elder Bush was certainly disturbing, but he at least seemed to possess some intelligence. Currently I think that he is and was pure evil, but I recall that I didn't think that back when he was president. But this Bush so clearly has no morality or compassion and lies constantly in pursuit of bizarre and dangerous policies, and every time he opens his mouth you realize what a moron he is. His speeches after 9/11 convinced me that there is something very wrong with the world today, and George W. Bush represents the core of it. Since then I have read books, magazines and thousands of web pages to find out more about what's wrong and what I might do about it. This blog is my attempt to share what I've learned and what I believe. There is no more important cause in the world today than stopping the Bush-Cheney war on everything.


 
What we don't know will hurt us: And, frankly, there is a piece of information which is still classified which I consider to be the most important information that's come to the attention of the joint committee. We hope that it will be declassified. I think it is an important part of our judgments as to where our greatest threats are and what steps we need to do to protect the American people here at home. -- Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham (D-FL), quoted from Face the Nation.

posted by Bob at 10:18 AM

 
The Halloween Truth Man: Excellent Boondocks comic!
posted by Bob at 9:00 AM

 
Name that war: Norman Solomon writes about the pretentious names given to recent military adventures: "Just Cause" in Panama (just 'cause we can); "Desert Storm", aka Gulf War I; and "Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan, where they have been enduring freedom for over a year now. So while we try to stop Gulf War II, you can bet that W's PR folks (aka the administration) are hard at work coming up with a name for it. Here are some suggestions for them:

Any suggestions from the audience?
posted by Bob at 8:52 AM

 
U.S. Would Seek to Try Hussein for War Crimes (washingtonpost.com): It takes a war criminal to know a war criminal, I guess. The article doesn't mention prosecuting the many Americans who aided and abetted the various crimes mentioned, including Ronald Reagan, George Bush I, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell. It also fails to mention prosecution for the greatest war crime of all: unprovoked pre-emptive strike on a sovereign nation.

posted by Bob at 7:56 AM

 
And That's the Way It Is:
“The threat from the White House is to go in anyway,” Cronkite said. “Our only ally would probably be Great Britain. That is not good enough. I see the possibility if we do that of really setting forth World War III.”
...
“They applauded as Hitler closed down the independent newspaper and television stations and only gave them his propaganda,” Cronkite said. “When they did not rise up and say, ‘Give us a free press,’ they became just as guilty.”

posted by Bob at 12:14 AM

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

 
Just in case it comes up, I don't want Dick Cheney to come to my funeral, either.
posted by Bob at 10:53 PM

 
One fact is not in dispute: the Russian government used poison gas against its own citizens. This, of course, is one of the main accusations levelled by the US and other governments against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to justify Washington’s plans for an invasion and occupation of the Persian Gulf nation. Not surprisingly, this bitter and tragic irony has been passed over in silence by the Bush administration and virtually every media outlet. from the WSWS.

posted by Bob at 4:40 PM

 
Kachoong! Kachoong! Kachoong! Kachoong! 24 starts tonight! It's probably more a part of the problem than part of the solution, and some of the money goes to Rupert Murdoch and the other criminals at Fox, but "24" is a way cool show. And seeing somebody else be the president sure feels good. I'll have to watch "The West Wing" sometime.
posted by Bob at 4:35 PM

 
Who says crime doesn't pay?
posted by Bob at 3:38 PM

 
Once again, a picture says a thousand words:


From the Daily KOS blog.
posted by Bob at 1:49 PM

 
It's all about the price of oil -- a song from Billy Bragg.
posted by Bob at 1:08 PM

 
Only 8,000 U.S. soldiers are currently stationed in Afghanistan--less than three percent of the 300,000 the Army says that it needs to properly "Marshall Plan" the country--and most of those are traipsing through the mountains near Khost in search of Al Qaedans who fled for Pakistan in 2001. Actual "peacekeeping" is limited to Kabul; the vast majority of Afghans live under the same feudal warlords whose brutality led to the rise of the Taliban in the mid `90s. Rape, robbery and violent clashes are routine.

We did Afghanistan on the cheap, and it shows. The place is such a mess that the main objective of the American invasion--building a trans-Afghan pipeline to carry landlocked Caspian oil and gas to the Indian Ocean--will likely never be realized.

We won the war but we lost the peace. Will we do the same thing in Iraq?

Count on it. -- from Ted Rall.


 
Bush signs voting bill. Wish it were retroactive.
posted by Bob at 12:27 PM

 
Do I have all the answers to the world's problems? No, I do not. And neither do you. But I know when I'm being treated like a mushroom--i.e., kept in the dark and fed a steady diet of bu**sh**--and it's utterly clear that that's what's happening now. We must set the bar a hell of a lot higher before we instigate a bloodbath whose outcome is extraordinarily uncertain--and right now, that bar seems to be about two inches off the ground. -- from Tom Tomorrow's blog (Asterisks added by me both to try to keep this a family show and because it clearly demonstrates that you can't spell "bu**sh**" without "bush.")
posted by Bob at 11:56 AM

 
The World Socialist Web Site raises questions about the Wellstone crash. In the context of the Carnahan crash two years ago and the anthrax letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy last year, the idea that the crash was murder/assassination doesn't seem far-fetched. And none of the initial reports provide any information to rule it out. The apparent lack of any distress call or mayday seems most suspicious to me. Obviously I don't have enough facts to prove anything, but it seems as though something that incapacitated the pilots would be consistent with the facts available. Perhaps a capsule of poison gas released as the plane descended through a certain altitude, or set off by remote control, caused the pilots to lose consciousness as they were preparing to land. The plane then continued in a turn they had begun and eventually crashed pointing away from the airport. A bomb or missile is also a possibility, although either would be much more obvious to observers on the ground and would leave more evidence in the wreckage. A gas would either be destroyed by fire or dispersed by the wind long before investigators could detect any traces of it. Of course, investigators can conclude whatever they want to conclude, regardless of evidence, as they showed in the TWA 800 investigation.
posted by Bob at 11:32 AM

 
At the Pentagon today, the department's spokeswoman, Victoria Clarke, declined to identify the detainees by name or nationality, even after Afghanistan and Pakistan said they were receiving repatriated prisoners. "We've said all along, we have no desire to hold large numbers of these people for a long period of time," Ms. Clarke said.

"If we can go through all those factors, determine someone doesn't have intelligence value, is not a real threat to the United States or our friends or allies, and we think there will be a proper handling on the other end, then we'd like to get rid of some of these people. So we're working a lot of those issues with countries, but it takes time." -- from the NY Times. No hearings, no trials, no contacts with families. Just grab 'em in Afghanistan, whisk them half a world away for ten months, then get rid of them. Lack of liberty and injustice for all.


Monday, October 28, 2002

 
What a Difference Four Years Makes: Why U.N. inspectors left Iraq--then and now -- FAIR looks at quotes from many major news sources about the withdrawal of weapons inspectors from Iraq in 1998. In '98, all of the sources said that the inspectors withdrew or were ordered out by the UN. In 2002, the same sources all claim that the inspectors were "kicked out" by Saddam Hussein. Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for the link.
posted by Bob at 5:59 PM

 
President Vladimir V. Putin said today that Russia was prepared to strike at international terrorist groups and the countries that harbor them, explicitly echoing the arguments that President Bush made after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to declare a war on terrorism...

Russian officials have said, so far without providing evidence, that the theater takeover was organized and planned with the help of Islamic extremist groups abroad.

Mr. Putin ordered Russia's military to draft new doctrine that would adapt its forces and tactics to counter the threat from terrorism both internally and externally, presaging sweeping changes for a military that has been slow to change. -- from the NY Times.

Wonderful. Another nuclear-armed cowboy declaring war on anyone he decides is a terrorist, and on any country he decides is harboring them. What if Putin determines what is probably the case, that is that the Chechen rebels are supported by Saudis and Pakistanis? Will the Russians be bombing Islamabad and Riyahd? Perhaps this is the start of Putin's ploy to counteract Bush's oil grab in Iraq (see William Safire's optimistic and scary predictions for the Iraq war if the Russians vote against it in the Security Council for a scenario where Russia, China and France are left out in the cold). Control of Saudi Arabia would certainly keep Russia in the superpower sweepstakes. And Bush's Afghanistan and Iraq rhetoric has given Putin all of the justification that he needs. Bush has already agreed with Putin to call the Chechen rebels "terrorists." He has argued that countries not only have the right to attack terrorists and those who harbor them, but that countries must do so or face consequences from the US.

Putin will probably have a much easier time coming up with actual evidence of Saudi involvement in Chechnya than Bush has had coming up with evidence of either weapons or terrorism in Iraq. He says, "Look Georgie Porgie (remember, W calls him Pootie-Poot), these guys are terrorists, you said so yourself. Here's the evidence of support from the Saudis. You said we had to go after terrorists and those who harbor them. I'm with you, Georgie Porgie, not against you. Therefore, I have no choice but to invade Saudi Arabia. I know you understand." In the less likely scenario, Bush agrees, saying "you're right, Pootie-Poot, go ahead," at which point both the US and Russia are hit with terror campaigns unlike anything anyone has seen so far, and China attacks Taiwan and other neighbors (Malaysia, Indonesia, Phillipines, South Korea, Japan) so as not to be left out of the superpower game, and World War III begins in earnest. In the more likely scenario, Bush decides Pootie-Poot isn't his friend after all, makes up some lies to counter Russia's evidence, sends more troops to defend Saudi Arabia, and World War III begins in earnest. The rhetoric and actions of the Bush administration have made the world a more dangerous place than ever, and I fear we are nearing the precipice.

It is politically very dangerous to appear to be defending terrorists, but we have to put a stop to the idea that terrorism is worse than other forms of military action. Osama bin Laden, the Palestinians, and the Chechens would all prefer, I'm sure, to begin with stealth bomber attacks on radar installations followed up by F-16's and B-52's, than to have to blow themselves up in order to inflict damage. But they don't have these weapons, and they have been backed into a corner by those who do. They have been given the choice (or at least they perceive it this way) of either just dying or dying for their cause. So-called terrorist attacks are the only types of attacks they can launch. I don't think they are right to do so, but they are no more wrong than we are to bomb Iraq. Killing people with explosives is bad, no matter how they are delivered.


Sunday, October 27, 2002

 
What a disaster. Russia used gas to knock out the Chechen rebels holding hostages in a Moscow theater, but killed at least 115 of the hostages with the gas, and most of the rest (646) are in the hospital, many in critical condition. It looks like Putin screwed up big time on this one.
posted by Bob at 10:02 PM

 
The press doesn't count, starting with the Quote of the Day:
"Here I'm not being spit on, people aren't throwing tomatoes at me and Joan Baez isn't singing," said protest veteran Dot Magargal, 77, from Media, Pa. -- from the Washington Post article about yesterday's peace rally in DC. The post article is quite exuberant about the DC rally, estimating the turnout at 100,000 and saying that it was probably the largest anti-war rally in Washington since the Vietnam era. The Post appears to have gotten its numbers from rally organizers, who might tend to be optimistic. Meanwhile, the NY Times downplays the turnout, saying it was "thousands" and "fewer than hoped for" by organizers. CNN says there were "tens of thousands" without citing a source.

Meanwhile, I was in downtown Ann Arbor yesterday participating in our own march and rally. The Ann Arbor News covered the rally. Their article states: "Ann Arbor police estimated about 2,500 people attended the demonstration, but others said the crowd seem not quite so large. One participant put the number at 700 or 800." The reporter doesn't comment further on the size of the crowd.

How hard can it be to get a good estimate of crowd size? In Ann Arbor it would have been simple. The march started in a well-defined space and proceeded linearly to another well-defined space. A single photo from above (the top floor of the grad library, for example) would have included most of the crowd. From such a photo you could easily get an almost exact count within half an hour (less than that with copies and more people to count), or a good estimate in five minutes. Alternatively, counting people as they pass by a certain point on the march for a minute and multiplying by the number of minutes for the entire crowd to pass would also give a good estimate. In DC it would have been harder, especially the last method, but the resources on hand would have been greater. A few photos taken nearly simultaneously from the top of the Washington monument or somebody's news helicopter could have been used to get a decent estimate. We should see discrpancies between say 89 thousand, 97 thousand and 103 thousand, not huge disparities between thousands, tens of thousands, and 100 thousand.


 
Scumbag change?
[Ahmed] Chalabi, the London-based leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), is front man for the latest incarnation of a long-time neoconservative strategy to redraw the map of the oil-rich Middle East, put American troops -- and American oil companies -- in full control of the Persian Gulf's reserves and use the Gulf as a fulcrum for enhancing America's global strategic hegemony. -- from The American Prospect. Chalabi has been indicted for bank fraud in Jordan, among other things, but he appears to be the leading candidate to be Iraq's own Karzai. He's already making deals for Iraq's oil.
posted by Bob at 11:21 AM

 
Right on top of things: I don't know who writes the headlines for AP articles on the NY Times website, whether the headlines come with the articles from AP or the Times add them. Whoever it is should at least read the first two paragraphs before writing the headline. Here are the first two paragraphs from the latest article about the Wellstone crash:

Federal investigators today sorted through the wreckage of a plane crash that killed Senator Paul Wellstone and seven others, but efforts to determine the cause of the crash could be hampered by the absence of a cockpit voice recorder.

Carol Carmody, the acting chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said in a news conference here that the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air A100 was not required to have a voice recorder under F.A.A. regulations, and was not equipped with one.

And the headline? Cockpit Voice Recorder Is Focus of Search for Cause of Crash. Fortunately, the rest of the article does not substantiate the headline's claim that investigators are combing the woods of Minnesota for a recorder they know doesn't exist. It does say that the investigation may take many months, for reasons I can't begin to understand. Unless, of course, investigators are under orders to make sure that the investigation takes many months, just like it did for TWA 800 and like it has for AA 587.



Saturday, October 26, 2002

 
Fighting over the sniper suspects: Maryland, Virginia, Alabama and the Feds all want a crack at Muhammad and Malvo. Some seem to be arguing that they should be charged in a jurisdiction most likely to give them the death penalty, probably Virginia or Alabama. Just the option of the death penalty in any jurisdiction skews the proceedings, making it more likely that the suspects will cop a plea to save their lives (like John Walker Lindh). While the circumstances of their arrest certainly make them look guilty, we should remember that this is still America, sort of, and they should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The presence of the death penalty increases the chances that they will scared guilty to save their lives rather than proven guilty. The death penalty also guarantees a harsher jury to try the case, if it gets that far, since jurors opposed to the death penalty are not allowed on juries in capital cases. And if somehow these guys have been framed, the injustice of their incarceration would be made irreversible by executing them. Of course, with their pictures plastered all over the papers and CNN, the chances of their getting a fair trial anywhere on the planet are basically zero at this point.
posted by Bob at 8:10 AM

Friday, October 25, 2002

 
Jeb endorses his opponent--well, sort of. I guess it's fair game since Jeb has been running negative ads against McBride, but it is unlikely to increase civility in politics. Pols will be careful about saying anything nice about anyone if they fear that it will be used against them. I hate to see any candidate's generosity, honesty or candor used against him or her--even Jeb's.
posted by Bob at 7:16 PM

 
To paraphrase my favorite Harry Truman quote: The only new things in the world are the Bush lies that haven't been uncovered yet. Many, including me, noted that it supposedly took the Bushies twelve days to reveal what they knew about North Korea's nuke program and speculated that it was delayed because of the Iraq war resolution. Well, it turns out that they have known about NK's nuke program and Pakistan's involvement for much longer.
posted by Bob at 5:26 PM

 

Paul Wellstone, 1944-2002



Unfortunately, my paragraph below was the last one about Wellstone's chances. Senator Wellstone died in a plane crash this morning. Am I sad? Very. Am I suspicious? Absolutely. This stuff is supposed to happen in Colombia and Pakistan, not the US. Let's have the Canadian authorities investigate this one--I don't want anyone who works for George W. Bush involved.
posted by Bob at 4:52 PM

 
Anti-war vote hasn't hurt Wellstone. This Reuters report says that the Senator's chances for re-election may have improved since he voted against Bush's Iraq war resolution. I'm going to Minnesota next week to volunteer for his campaign, just to make sure. I chewed out another online organization yesterday. A couple of weeks ago I discovered that the supposedly anti-war Council for a Livable World was still collecting donations for several candidates who voted for the Iraq war resolution. And now there's MoveOn. MoveOn.org had conducted a major campaign to call and write members of Congress prior to the war resolution votes on October 10, but now that the votes have been cast, MoveOn is still raising funds for several who voted for war, including Senators Harkin, Carnahan and Johnson. I don't see how we can expect these Republicrats to oppose Bush on other wars, or environmental issues, or Supreme Court nominees, if they fail to vote against an unnecessary, unjustified, and just plain evil war. MoveOn brags about Wellstone's vote, but doesn't mention the votes of Harkin, Carnahan and Johnson. You'd think there would be somebody out there you can trust!
posted by Bob at 11:10 AM

 
Krugman! Krugman! Krugman! How can you tell when George W. Bush is lying? His smirk is moving.
posted by Bob at 12:22 AM

Thursday, October 24, 2002

 
[What would I] do in Bush's shoes? Easy: I'd honour Kyoto. Join the world court. I'd stop subsidising earth rapers like Monsanto, Dupont and Exxon. I'd shut down the nuclear power plants. So I already have $200bn saved from corporate welfare. I'd save another $100bn by stopping the war on non-corporate drugs. And I'd cut the defence budget in half so they'd have to get by on a measly $200bn a year. I've already saved half a trillion bucks by saying no to polluters and warmongers.

Then I'd give $300bn back to the taxpayers. I'd take the rest and pay the people teaching our children what they deserve. I'd put $100bn into alternative fuels and renewable energy. I'd revive the Chemurgy movement, which made the farmer the root of the economy, and make paper and fuel from wheat straw, rice straw and hemp. Not only would I attend, I'd sponsor the next Earth Summit. And, of course, I'd give myself a fat raise. -- Woody Harrelson, quoted in the Guardian. He's no idiot, even though he used to play one on TV.


 
The other Gulf War syndrome? Chief Moose may be trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat (again?), but it looks as though the sniper(s) may have been caught. John Allen Muhammad and his stepson were arrested early this morning at a Maryland rest stop. So, with all appropriate caveats that this may be another wild moose chase, let me point out that CNN says that Muhammad is a veteran of our last Bush war against Iraq. So was Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who had been a top-notch soldier and patriot before participating in the brutal slaughter of the Gulf War. Osama bin Laden (you remember, that guy who actually did attack us) started his anti-American jihad because of the stationing of hundreds of thousands of US troops in Saudi Arabia (largely on false pretenses--the supposed huge number of Iraqi troops on the Saudi border were a complete fiction) and their failure to depart after the war was over (then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney had promised the Saudis that US troops would not be there a minute longer than necessary). As noted left-wing pacifist Pat Buchanan pointed out, the price of empire is terrorism. The last Bush war against Iraq was at least partially responsible for every large-scale terrorist attack on the US since then, and possibly the sniper attacks as well. How much more can we expect from another one with even less justification and almost no support from the Islamic world?

posted by Bob at 9:33 AM

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

 
Our choice for president in 2000, Bush or Gore, was terrible (I voted for Nader). Our choice for vice-president was even worse: evil incarnate Dick Cheney versus weasel incarnate Joe Lieberman.
posted by Bob at 2:40 PM

 
Just because we did it once doesn't mean we'll do it again:


Officials on Wednesday also urged any witnesses to come forward without fear of potential problems with their immigration status, despite authorities detaining two men on Monday in a white van and turning them over to federal authorities for deportation proceedings.
"We just have concerns that some people in the immigrant community didn't come forward,'' Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose said Wednesday. He said witnesses' immigrant status is not the concern of the sniper task force.
-- from AP via NY Times . They managed to get out of the train car alive, evade the vigilantes in Arizona, and now they're going to be dumb enough to take the word of Chief Moose that he won't use the sniper hunt to round up any more "illegal" immigrants? Chief Moose must think they're complete idiots. And I'm not making fun of his name. Neither is Natasha.


 
Where have all the dollars gone? Gone to bombing everywhere. When will we ever learn?

Bush noted the many tasks being placed on the military's shoulders: ``bring justice to agents of terror ... liberate a captive people on the other side of the Earth ... prepare for conflict in Iraq if necessary ... serve in many places far from home and at great risk.''

Are "liberate a captive people" and "conflict in Iraq" two separate things in W's tiny little mind? If so, what captive people is he talking about? Is he already planning the next war while the current one in Iraq is still in the occasional bombing phase?


 
Coyote Ugly.
Hey Mexicans! We stole Arizona and California from you fair and square back in the 1840's. Just because our multi-national corporations have forced you off your land and NAFTA hasn't provided enough slave-wage jobs for all of you is no excuse for you to try to sneak back onto your land. We've got vigilantes out there in the desert to make sure you don't get far.

What exactly does it say on the Statue of Liberty? Does America stand for anything anymore? (Anything good, that is?)


 
More sniper speculation, since you're probably not getting enough from TV:
  1. The attacks are completely calculated, and there is very little element of thrill-seeking to the killings. They are designed to create maximum terror for the public, not to satisfy the killer's bloodlust. If this were someone who decided to play a video game for real, he would have fretted for days or weeks before shooting his first victim, and then probably retreated in fear for a week or two before the desire to regain the thrill took hold. I would expect this type of killer to increase the rate of killing until he got careless trying to shoot too many people in one day, which would lead to his arrest or death. But this guy (sorry for the sexist assumption) did his big killing spree at the beginning to get attention, not thrills, and has spaced out the killings ever since to extend the terror and minimize his chances of being caught.
  2. The sniper is a terrorist. I don't know if he's domestic or foreign, part of some group like a right-wing militia or al Qaeda or acting on his own, or if he has any coherent political agenda. But I'm sure that his main goal is to spread terror throughout the population, which I think is the best definition of a terrorist. He had nothing against any of his victims--his real targets are the millions in the area who are scared to go outside or buy gas.
  3. The cops have become much too predictable with their dragnets following the shootings. The sniper could easily use this against them. Cars backed up for miles on freeways are sitting ducks. Imagine, for example, the sniper driving away from his latest shooting, parked in the middle lane of the highway with thousands of others. He pretends to have car trouble, out of gas maybe, grabs a gas can from the trunk, and starts walking for the nearest exit. Five minutes later he blows up his car by remote control, starting a fire in the middle of the traffic jam. Okay, I've scared myself now.

posted by Bob at 9:43 AM

 
Where's the beef? All gone by recall time. Check out Stephanie McMillan's Minimum Security cartoon on meat recalls.
posted by Bob at 9:00 AM

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

 
General Anthony Zinni places Iraq way down on the priority list:
The question becomes how to sort out your priorities and deal with them in a smart way that you get things done that need to be done first before you move on to things that are second and third. If I were to give you my priority of things that can change for the better in this region, it is first and foremost the Middle East peace process and getting it back on track. Second, it is ensuring that Iran's reformation or moderation continues on track and trying to help and support the people who are trying to make that change in the best way we can. That's going to take a lot of intelligence and careful work.

The third is to make sure those countries to which we have now committed ourselves to change, like Afghanistan and those in Central Asia, we invest what we need to in the way of resources there to make that change happen. Fourth is to patch up these relationships that have become strained, and fifth is to reconnect to the people. We are talking past each other. The dialogue is heated. We have based this in things that are tough to compromise on, like religion and politics, and we need to reconnect in a different way. I would take those priorities before this one.

My personal view, and this is just personal, is that I think this isn't No. 1. It's maybe six or seven, and the affordability line may be drawn around five.
-- from Salon.


 
Monopolizing the food supply--and proud of it! I've seen several ads on TV lately for Conagra Foods bragging about how many different food brands they own. Hunts, Healthy Choice, Orville Redenbacher, etc., etc., etc. I checked their website to see which brands are owned by Conagra. Want to buy some popcorn? Maybe you prefer Act II or Jiffy Pop to Conagra's Orville Redenbacher. That's fine with Conagra--they own all three brands! A little margerine for your popcorn? Choose between Blue Bonnet, Parkay and Move Over Butter--they're all Conagra. Hot dogs? Armour, Ekrich and Hebrew National are all Conagra. Check some of the other major food companies: Kraft (Philip Morris), Coca Cola...the variety of colorful packages in the supermarket aisles hides the fact that you really have very few competing products from which to choose. This means higher prices and less real choice for you. It also means that these huge conglomerates are able to put the squeeze on farmers, forcing the few remaining independents into the jaws of the likes of Cargill, ADM and Monsanto. The number of people who have any say in what these corporations do is tiny, but they are basically establishing a monopoly on food production. And if somebody controls your food supply, he controls you.

And Conagra and the others are not only evil enough to pursue this goal, they are brazen enough to brag about it on TV.


 
Sniper Hyper
British news website Ananova reports that a top marksman from the French army deserted while vacationing in the US. There is speculation that he is of Yugoslav origin.

Thanks to the Politics in the Zeros blog for that link. Polizeros also questions why the wounded sniper victim from Saturday (outside the Ponderosa near Richmond) has not been identified, while every other victim, including the FBI anti-terror agent, has been publicly identified. The Ponderosa shooting is the one that began the cryptic phone-tag.

That's my snipe hype du jour. I stand by my previous assertion that the sniper threat is minor compared to the daily carnage from ordinary shootings and car wrecks, but it's hard not to get caught in all the speculation, y'know?


 
Tabloid headline spotted: Iraqi Submarine in Lake Michigan, Awaits Orders. I think it was the "Weekly World News" that featured that one. I guess security must be pretty lax on the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Welland Canal if an Iraqi sub was given a lift at the many locks between the Atlantic and Lake Michigan. Is the "Weekly World News" the place Ari Fleischer used to work? For a sample of WWN journalism, check out "India and Pakistan Shouldn't Nuke Each Other." Opinions expressed are absolutely NOT those of this blog, although I do agree that they shouldn't nuke each other.
posted by Bob at 10:23 AM

 
Bombs away--again. While the UN debates war on Iraq, the war on Iraq continues.
posted by Bob at 10:06 AM

 
According to Arianna Huffington, Scott Burns, co-creator of the "Got Milk?" campaign, has prepared two ad scripts that parody the "I fund terrorism" anti-drug ads: The first one feels like an old Slim Fast commercial. Instead of "I lost 50 pounds in two weeks" the ad cuts to different people in their SUVs: "I gassed 40,000 Kurds," "I helped hijack an airplane," "I helped blow up a nightclub," and then in unison: "We did it all by driving to work in our SUVs."

The second, which opens on a man at a gas station, features a cute kid's voice-over throughout: "This is George." Then we see a close up of a gas pump. "This is the gas George buys for his car." Next we see a guy in a suit. "This is the oil company executive who makes money on the gas George buys." Close up on Al-Qaeda training film footage: "This is the terrorist organization supported by money from the country where the oil company does business. " It's followed by footage of 9/11: "We all know what this is." And it closes on a wide shot of bumper to bumper traffic: "The biggest weapon of mass destruction is parked in your driveway."


I think that raising the federal gasoline tax is the most straightforward way to break our addiction. This letter to the NY Times from a fellow Michigander offers an interesting approach:

To the editor:
Thomas L. Friedman ("Drilling for Freedom," column, Oct. 20) convincingly explains that Middle East tyrannies will end when their oil revenues decline. The United States can help this happen by consuming less fuel.
The only way the United States can reduce fuel use is to increase the fuel tax. Adding a nickel per gallon every month until the United States buys its last barrel of imported oil would cause no more than minor disruption of the economy. Yet fuel use would decline almost immediately.
Our political process refuses to discuss a tax increase, the only measure that can work. We are like a 300-pound patient asking a doctor how to lose weight but insisting that the answer must not mention eating or exercise.
LEONARD EVANS
Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Oct. 20, 2002

Leonard must be really popular with his neighbors, since Bloomfield Hills is home to many very wealthy auto execs.


 
Little known fact: The letters in "Ari Fleischer" can be rearranged to spell "Fear rich lies" and "I relish farce." Fleischer denies it.
posted by Bob at 9:05 AM

 

posted by Bob at 8:43 AM

 
Bush lies--Washington Post. It's good to see him finally get the national recognition that he deserves.
posted by Bob at 6:56 AM

Monday, October 21, 2002

 
Goodbye, Goofy. My sweet and beautiful calico cat, who has been with me for over 16 years, died today.


Goofy: 1986-2002.
posted by Bob at 11:06 PM

 
Dennis Kucinich! I went down to campus this afternoon to hear Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) talk about peace and global justice. He spoke for about 30 minutes without any script or notes, and then answered questions eloquently for another 45 minutes. (Try that, W, I dare ya!) Someone asked him whether he would leave the Democratic party, given the wholesale sellout of leaders like Daschle, Gephardt and Lieberman. He responded that Gephardt "led" by ignoring the members of the House Democrats, 2/3 who voted against the war resolution. He said for now he says he is a Democrat, but sees his role as a missionary. Anyhow, if you get a chance to hear Kucinich speak sometime, don't pass it up. Hopefully, I shook the hand of our next president today.
posted by Bob at 2:56 PM

 
A nation returning to its senses:

posted by Bob at 10:53 AM

 
No Methodists to His Madness: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are supposedly United Methodists, as, technically, so am I (haven't gone to church in several years). And what does the UM Church think of war with Iraq? "Without any justification according to the teachings of Christ," according to Jim Winkler, head of social policy for United Methodists. See this Guardian article for details.
posted by Bob at 10:40 AM

 
Universal Health Care--one state at a time. There's a proposal on the ballot in Oregon for a Canadian-style single-payer system.
posted by Bob at 9:59 AM

 

A Common Misconception:



(From the Doonesbury website)
posted by Bob at 9:03 AM

Sunday, October 20, 2002

 
Poison Ivy League: The WSWS has an interesting article about the ties between Harken Energy (W's old company), Enron, and Harvard University. "Two current members of the Bush administration—chief economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey and US trade representative Robert Zoellick—are also involved in the Enron-Harvard nexus." W himself got an MBA from Harvard, putting to rest any possible claims of academic standards there. The article suggests that Harvard was the mystery purchaser of W's Harken stock, allowing him to get the millions to purchase his share of the Texas Rangers. And I did a quick search of Carlyle, too. Twenty of Carlyle's 71 partners and directors have Harvard degrees.
posted by Bob at 6:53 PM

 
The Carlyle Director of the Day for today is Kesuke Shizunaga of Japan. I don't have any serious dirt on Mr. Shizunaga, but I highlight him today to show the international flavor of the Carlyle Group. While so many members of the Reagan, Bush I and Clinton administrations were supposedly working to keep or make America competitive in international markets, they were quietly preparing themselves a place on the Carlyle board where they could collude with Mr. Shizunaga and others from around the world the strip the earth and the vast majority of its population of their wealth for the benefit of themselves and the other members of the ruling class. Isn't this vaguely, or not so vaguely, treasonous?

Kensuke Shizunaga
Managing Director
Japanese Buyouts
Tokyo, Japan

Mr. Shizunaga is a Managing Director of The Carlyle Group, where he focuses primarily on Japanese investment opportunities. He is based in Tokyo.

Prior to joining Carlyle in June 2001, he was a General Partner responsible for buyout investments at Schroder Ventures K.K. There, he played a key role in closing management-led buyout transactions and executed a trade sale to exit one of the buyout investments. Mr. Shizunaga has nearly 20 years of experience in a broad range of corporate finance and M&A transactions, advising primarily large Japanese and non-Japanese industrial companies and financial institutions. At Lehman Brothers, where Mr. Shizunaga spent more than 11 years, he was a Managing Director and head of Investment Banking in Tokyo.

Mr. Shizunaga has a B.A. in political science from Waseda University and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.


Saturday, October 19, 2002

 
Back for its second consecutive day, our popular new feature: The Carlyle Director of the Day! Yesterday, we featured Clintonista Willam Kennard, who as chairman of the FCC allowed and encouraged the continuing monopolization of broadcast, cable and internet media. Today's Director of the Day is a true power broker whose connections with big oil and energy companies, including Enron, are truly impressive. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present a man who needs no introduction, but probably an alibi and several dozen good lawyers--David Leuschen! (resume is from the Carlyle Group's website.)

David M. Leuschen
Managing Director – Riverstone Holdings
New York, New York

Mr. Leuschen is a founder and Managing Director of Riverstone Holdings. He has extensive M&A, financing and investing experience in the energy and power sector.

 

Prior to founding Riverstone, Mr. Leuschen was a Partner and Managing Director at Goldman Sachs and founder and head of the Goldman Sachs Global Energy & Power Group. Mr. Leuschen joined Goldman Sachs in 1977, became head of the Global Energy & Power Group in 1985, became a Partner of the firm in 1986 and remained with the firm until leaving to found Riverstone.

Mr. Leuschen was responsible for building the Goldman Sachs energy and power investment banking practice into one of the leading franchises in the global energy and power industry. Mr. Leuschen served as Chairman of the Goldman Sachs Energy Investment Committee, where he was responsible for screening potential private equity capital commitments by Goldman Sachs in the energy and power industry. Further, Mr. Leuschen was responsible for establishing and managing the firm’s relationships with senior executives from leading companies in all segments of the energy and power industry including Amerada Hess, Anadarko, Apache, BP Amoco, Chevron, Cross Timers, ENI, Enron Oil and Gas, Kinder Morgan, Koch Industries, Kuwait Petroleum, Lasmo, Mobil, Phillips, PDVSA, Union Pacific Resources, Santa Fe International, Transocean Sedco Forex, Unocal, and many others.

Mr. Leuschen received his A.B. degree from Dartmouth and his M.B.A. from Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School of Business.

The Carlyle Group: the ruling elite's answer to democracy!


Friday, October 18, 2002

 
I'm going on vacation from Monday October 28 through Tuesday November 5 (election day). My original plan was to go to Minnesota to help the Wellstone for Senate campaign, but I've e-mailed and called them (left a message) and they haven't gotten back to me. Either they don't need my help, or else they need help so desperately that they don't have time to answer e-mails and phone calls. While I really want Wellstone to win, I'm a bit concerned about taking a bus or train to St. Paul and showing up at campaign headquarters only to be told that they've got more volunteers than they know what to do with. A more appealing alternative, temperature-wise, would be to go to Florida to help McBride beat Jeb, with maybe a side trip to Arkansas or North Carolina to work a day or two for the Democratic candidates there. I've been getting e-mails from the MoveOn PAC about volunteering for various campaigns, although some of them are for candidates who voted for the war resolution, like Tom Harkin in Iowa. I'm thinking of getting a Greyhound Discover pass so I can do some sightseeing and reading along the way (maybe some ranting, too!).


So, in another desperate attempt to elicit feedback from my audience, I ask you for your advice: Where do you think I should go?


 
Lock him up, if you can find him! Repeatedly ignoring court orders, the Veep from the Deep won't let us know with whom he met to come up with the assault on planet Earth known as the Bush Energy Policy. Since he won't tell us, let's assume that it was Ken Lay, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Congress should then burn any remaining copies of the policy document to heat the capitol this winter, and throw a lock on the undisclosed location, not letting Cheney out until he's voted out of office in 2004.
posted by Bob at 1:20 PM

 
After my off-hand reference to the Carlyle Group (below), I decided to check out their web site again. Many of the names of Carlyle partners and directors are very familiar: James Baker, John Major, Arthur Levitt, Frank Carlucci. Other names didn't jump out at me (I've only been a voracious news reader for the past year or so), so I decided to check out the bios of some of them. So, starting today and going until at least today, I present a new feature: The Carlyle Director of the Day! Today's director is William E. Kennard:

William E. Kennard
Managing Director
US Buyouts – Global Telecommunications and Media Group
Washington, DC

William E. Kennard joined The Carlyle Group in May 2001 as a Managing Director in the Global Telecommunications and Media Group. He is based in Washington, DC.

Before joining The Carlyle Group, Mr. Kennard served as Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission from November 1997 to January 2001. During his tenure, he implemented the Telecommunications Act of 1996, designing policies that created an explosion of new wireless phones, brought the Internet to a majority of American households, and resulted in billions of dollars of investment in new broadband technologies. He also shaped the outcome of the most significant communications mergers in history, such as AOL-Time Warner, Worldcom-MCI, CBS-Viacom, Verizon-GTE and SBC-Ameritech.

Mr. Kennard served as the FCC’s general counsel from December 1993 to November 1997. Before serving in government, Mr. Kennard was a partner and member of the board of directors of the law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand.

Mr. Kennard graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University and received his law degree from Yale Law School.

 

Media consolidation is one of the major obstacles to real democracy in this country today, and not only does Carlyle mention Kennard's involvement in making it a reality, they brag about it. When you realize the connections that Carlyle's other directors have (most major governments, oil, weapons, finance, and communications), you get the idea that if they are not currently the real world government, they intend to be. And while their web site doesn't have a "future directors" page, you can bet it would include George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, John Ashcroft, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and, if they last that long, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. And you can bet that the current directors who previously "served" in the Reagan, Bush I or Clinton regimes were well aware of their opportunities to become fabulously rich directors of the Carlyle Group if they, like Mr. Kennard, steer policy in the direction Carlyle prefers. The piddling six-figure incomes we taxpayers pay them while in government pale by comparison. And don't forget that George Bush Senior and Osama bin Laden's father are (or at least were) major investors in Carlyle.


 
Florida touchscreen voting system demonstrated: http://jeb02.com/touchscreenvotingdemo.html
posted by Bob at 12:22 PM

 
In case you're not scared enough already. I'll confess that I've read most of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan thrillers, from Hunt for Red October through The Bear and the Dragon. I won't claim that they are great literature, and they are too jingoistic for my current tastes, but the themes of several of them are enough to scare the bejeebers (sp?) out of anyone. (If you are planning on reading one of his novels soon and don't want me to ruin the ending for you, close your eyes and scroll down a bit.)

On September 11, one of the first things I recalled was the ending of Clancy's Debt of Honor where a Japanese 747 pilot crashed his plane into the US Capitol during a presidential address to congress. After that, it boggled my mind when Condi Rice claimed that no one could have imagined that the terrorists would crash planes into buildings. Then when the anthrax scare came along, I remembered Clancy's Executive Orders, in which either Iran or Iraq (I don't recall which right now) used terrorists to disperse weaponized Ebola virus at car and boat shows around the US.

And now, as there is talk of widespread smallpox vaccinations (against a disease for which there have been no reported cases in 25 years), I recall the plot of Rainbow Six. In that book, a group of superevil dudes, including some high-placed US government officials, plan the ultimate bio-terror attack. Recognizing the fundamental limitations of bio-weapons (if they are too lethal, victims die before having much chance to spread the disease; if they are not lethal enough, well, then they're not lethal enough), these guys plot a two-stage attack. Introducing the weaponized virus in a way to ensure an initial rapid disbursement (at the closing ceremonies of the Olympics), they are prepared to provide large doses of the vaccine throughout the world to deal with the resulting panic. But they have made the vaccine itself lethal, so many millions more are killed by the vaccine than would have died directly from the virus. (In the book, they intend to wipe out most of the planet's population.) And while a world-wide conspiracy of that order is probably far-fetched (with the possible exception of the Carlyle Group), a bio-terrorist would probably be able to do much more damage by infiltrating a rushed, wholesale vaccination program than through most other possible methods of biological attack. I doubt if there is any more effective method of applying a bio-weapon than direct injection. And don't forget, our president killed hundreds by lethal injection while he was governor of Texas. So I guess I'm saying that I won't be anywhere near the front of the line for smallpox vaccination.


 
Ever want to check out one of those exotic locales described in the New York Times travel section? That's where I'll be this weekend!
posted by Bob at 9:41 AM

Thursday, October 17, 2002

 
In what I guess is good news, there are hints that our "government" may be willing to accept a UN Security Council resolution which calls only for the return of inspectors to Iraq (to which Iraq has already agreed) without including the consequences provision that the Bushies have been insisting on for the last month or so. This could mean that the French, Russians and Chinese have actually gotten Bush to agree to what he has said he wanted (Iraqi disarmament) instead of what we all know he really wants (kaboom!). The bad news is that this may be because of what has happened and/or been revealed to us in the last week: the bombing in Indonesia, the disclosure of the North Korean nuclear program, and now the claim that Pakistan supplied NK with nuclear technology. And these things mean that the Bushies may want to start at least three other wars before Iraq. They have been making threatening noises about Indonesia's failure to root out terrorism, recalling Bush's threat from last year: "If you don't do it, we will." And after all they have been saying about Saddam's alleged weapons program, you have to expect a bellicose reaction to the NK situation and the Pakistani assistance. So Iraq may be W's fifth war instead of his second.
posted by Bob at 11:51 PM

 
Quote of the day: He would probably be a better Democrat than I am. -- Democratic Sen. John Breaux (La.), quoted in Roll Call. Breaux was talking about Senator Lincoln Chafee, the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq war resolution. No doubt Breaux is right--he voted for the resolution. Chafee hints that there is a slight possibility that he will leave the Republican party if it slides farther to the right (unfortunately, I think this is still possible), joining Sen. Jeffords of Vermont in the Republicans Anonymous Caucus and twelve-step program. (Step 1: Recognize that there is a higher power than Dick Cheney.)
posted by Bob at 1:42 PM

 
Tiny shred of common sense invading the insanity at the White House?
posted by Bob at 1:25 PM

 
** GIVE PEACE A CHANCE ***
An Address at the University of Michigan by
Congressman DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH)
Anti-War Leader of the Progressive Caucus
MONDAY OCTOBER 21st, 12:30 PM
Anderson Room D, Michigan Union (first floor)
====================================
US Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, a Democrat of Ohio, is a dynamic,
visionary leader of the Progressive Caucus of the congressional Democrats.
He leads opposition to war in Iraq and promotes an alternative vision to
increase our national security and well-being. He prioritizes public
service, peace, human rights, workers' rights, and the environment. His
advocacy of a Department of Peace seeks not only to make nonviolence an
organizing principle in our society, but also to make war archaic.

Sponsored by U of M College Democrats, Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace,
Meggido Peace Project, and Correlates of War research project in the U of M
Political Science Department.

Please distribute widely!


(from the Peace Events mailing list)


 
Looking for a growth industry to invest in? Look here.
posted by Bob at 11:21 AM

 
At least somebody is happy with Bush:

Mr. Sharon heartily praised Mr. Bush. "We never had such relations with any president of United States as we have with you," Mr. Sharon said as he and Mr. Bush met reporters briefly in the Oval Office. "And we never had such a cooperation in everything as we have with the current administration."


 
Warning or Threat? In Washington, President Bush warned European and Arab nations that are resisting a confrontation with President Saddam Hussein that "those who choose to live in denial may eventually be forced to live in fear." (from the NY Times.) W continues: "If Iraq gains even greater destructive power, nations in the Middle East would face blackmail, intimidation or attack," he said in the East Room, flanked by Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. They are already facing blackmail and intimidation from the Bush administration. And Bush should go talk to some of his neighbors in the DC area about living in fear.

posted by Bob at 11:09 AM

 
Saddam in a Landslide! Florida Ballots Not Yet Counted. (from The Washington Post) Saddam demonstrates that his election-rigging capabilities are superior to W's.
posted by Bob at 10:54 AM

 
Smart Growth America has published a report on sprawl in America. I've just started looking at it...maybe some comments to follow.
posted by Bob at 10:44 AM

 
If you've been watching closely, you'll notice that I added a link to Politics in the Zeros recently in my blog link section (over there -->). Highly recommended if you live in California and/or are interested in water issues, or are just looking for a(nother) good blog to read.
posted by Bob at 10:33 AM

 
War Protest Marches in DC and San Francisco October 26. I think I'll get on a bus for DC.
posted by Bob at 10:23 AM

 

From Slate's Cartoon Page.
posted by Bob at 9:47 AM

 
North Korea. I'll start out by saying that I have no real idea what is going on here. To summarize what's in the newspaper articles: The US has suspected the North Koreans of developing nukes for years. Then, about two weeks ago, the US presented NK with evidence showing that they do have a nuke program. NK initially denied it, but then admitted to having the program the next day. Then last night the Bushies decide to tell us about it. Here are my speculations:

As I said, this is all speculation on my part. Please send me your ideas and comments on what is going on here.
posted by Bob at 8:57 AM

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

 
The war resolution that Bush just signed requires him to report to Congress within 48 hours of any military action. Now what good does that do? If I'm in Congress, the last thing I'm going to want to do after two long days of avoiding protesters and ducking phone calls from constituents irate about our illegal war is to go into the house chambers to listen to W repeat the same old lies about Iraq and add some new ones about how well the war is going. And then to have to kill what little is left of my soul by caving in to peer pressure to stand and applaud the moron thirty times! What sadist/masochist added that provision to the resolution?
posted by Bob at 1:50 PM

 
Results of Informal White Van Survey: While riding the bus and walking today, I was on the lookout for white vans of the type being talked about in the DC-area sniper case.

Official results:

So while the cops say they have more eyewitnesses to Monday's shooting in Falls Church, I'd have to say that seeing a white van in the area is not much to hang your hat on. In a place with lots of traffic like the DC area, there's almost always a white van in the area. And as Lester Yesterday pointed out to me, the sniper could just wait until a white van drove into view before shooting.


 
Surprise! Bush to Sign Iraq Force Resolution.
posted by Bob at 11:19 AM

 
Huh?


The American ambassador, Ralph C. Boyce, delivered the latest warning to President Megawati Sukarnoputri and her top advisers just a day before the bombing and gave her a deadline of Oct. 24 to act, the officials said. -- from one NY Times article today.

But U.S. Ambassador Ralph C. Boyce said a Wednesday report in The New York Times that he warned Megawati of an imminent attack the day before the bombing was ``imprecise, to say the least.'' He did not elaborate. -- from the other NY Times article on the Bali bombing.


So the Times has two articles on today's website about the Bali bombing, one of which sort of contradicts the other. And just like Boyce, the Times does not elaborate. But even if the Times report was completely imprecise, to say the most, the statements from Bush, Fleischer and Powell all make it clear that the administration blames Megawati and her government for not acting on information that they had in advance of the bombing. Sounds vaguely familiar to me, somehow.


Maybe one of the scariest things about the Bushies (there are so many scary things it's hard to choose) is how oblivious they seem to how much their criticism of others applies so directly to themselves. It may be that they just don't realize it, since their knowledge of history is limited and they are blinded by their own self-righteousness from seeing the planks in their own eyes. ("How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." -- Jesus Christ, someone Bush supposedly listens to, quoted in Luke 6:42.) Or it may be that they are fully aware of it, and just don't care. My guess is that it's both. For Bush and Ashcroft it's the first: they just don't see it. For Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Rove and most of the rest of them the second explanation applies: They just don't care. It's like the old joke: "Which is worse, ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care." Whaddya know, we've got a government loaded with both.


Tuesday, October 15, 2002

 
REMINDER: A fool and his money are soon elected. (From the Ironic Times)
posted by Bob at 11:03 PM

 
"Our economy has been hit from all directions including 9-11, scandals on Wall Street, job losses on Main Street and the threat of future conflict in Iraq,'' Gephardt said in the latest of what is likely to be a steady stream of economic proposals from possible Democratic candidates for president. "Yet the administration proceeds along serenely as if everything is fine -- playing politics with the economy and denying the disastrous consequences of their actions,'' the Missouri Democrat said.

Well, y'know, DICK, that if you didn't vote for every insane war and police-state bill the "president" asks for, we'd have a little money left over. You have zero credibility with me, Mr. Wannabe Speaker.


 
The Empire Strikes Out: Good op-ed piece from Utah, of all places.
posted by Bob at 2:08 PM

 
A day late and a dollar short, but this cartoon deserves posting:

from http://www.cartoonista.com/

See the Lying Media Bastards blog for a good Columbus Day rant.

 
Is this CNN? As you can probably tell from the links, I read more articles from the New York Times than from any other source. But I occasionally check out CNN.com, and frequently find interesting and important stories that the Times seems to have missed entirely. An example is this article on Illinois' review of death penalty cases. Too bad the CNN that's on TV is usually just the martial fodder you would expect to see on Winston Smith's telescreen. (That's yet another 1984 reference; if you haven't read it, read it! It's a fairly short book, and so applicable to what's going on today.)
posted by Bob at 12:47 PM
 

An innovative response to the obesity problem: Fried Twinkies. I kid you not.
posted by Bob at 12:38 PM
 
 
W is "sick to his stomach" about the sniper attacks, but not sick enough to do anything about it. With "gun fingerprinting," it seems almost sure that the sniper would have been tracked down by now. Trust Bush to be on the wrong side of everything.
posted by Bob at 12:27 PM
 
 
Why Bush used Taft-Hartley to keep the ports open: so kids would find these toys under the tree on Christmas. Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men? Not hardly.
posted by Bob at 12:02 PM

 I serve as the Senior Senator from California, representing 35 million people. That is a formidable task. People have weighed in by the tens of thousands. If I were just to cast a representative vote based on those who have voiced their opinions with my office - and with no other factors - I would have to vote against this resolution. -- Senator Diane Feinstein, attempting to defend her indefensible support of the Iraq war resolution.

posted by Bob at 11:51 AM

NAFTAcide: Eleven bodies found in a train car in Iowa. The car crossed the border from Mexico in June, sat in Oklahoma for four months, and was just opened for cleaning in Iowa when the bodies were found. I shudder just thinking about it. I mean, we're all going to die and would like to postpone it as long as possible. But when my time comes, I certainly hope it's a plane crash or sniper's bullet instead of being trapped in a boiling train car with the bodies of friends and family members decaying around me. That Mexicans are willing to risk their lives this way just for the hope of getting some miserable low-wage job in the fields or the slaughterhouses speaks volumes about the benefits of "free trade" for Mexico. And still, many Americans feel more contempt than compassion for "illegal" immigrants, and press for the government to make the barriers ever higher. Free trade, free movement of capital, captive labor.
posted by Bob at 10:30 AM

The war continues.
posted by Bob at 9:36 AM

``We need to think about Saddam Hussein using al-Qaida to do his dirty work, to not leave fingerprints behind,'' Bush said Monday at a rally for Michigan's GOP candidates. ``This is a man who we know has had connections with al-Qaida. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al-Qaida as a forward army,'' Bush said later at a Dearborn, Mich. fund-raiser." from the NY Times.


W continues to push the envelope. Lies build upon lies. I think the plan is to get the lies so far out there that his critics (like me) will be tricked into actually accepting his previous lies, at least rhetorically, to counter his newer, more outrageous ones. He is looking for "criticism" of his policies that sounds like this: "Well, we know Saddam is pure evil, that he has zillions of weapons of mass destruction, that his nuke will be ready by Thursday and in Manhattan by Saturday, that he is the greatest threat to world peace ever, but we really aren't sure that he was directly responsible for the bombs in Bali." Sorry, W. No dice from me. I think that the only time W has told the truth since he was appointed president is when he has misspoken (about half of the Bushisms). The New York Times, that supposed bastion of liberalism, comments on W's baseless claim of a Saddam-al-Qaida link with just one sentence: "Bush has not provided concrete evidence of a link between al-Qaida and Saddam." They then continue to print his lies.


Monday, October 14, 2002

 
Things aren't necessarily as they appear: Check this out!
posted by Bob at 4:49 PM

 

Bush Admits "War on Terror" is a Complete and Utter Failure


Well, that would be my headline for this AP story. A couple of choice Bushisms from the article:


posted by Bob at 3:34 PM

 
President George W. Bush and Indonesia's defense minister blamed al Qaeda and its extremist allies on Monday for the massive bomb attack that killed more than 180 people at a nightclub on the resort island of Bali. In Washington, President Bush said, "I think we have to assume it's al Qaeda. They are trying to intimidate us, and we won't be intimidated." Bush offered U.S. help in finding the perpetrators. -- from the Washington Post.


I wonder if George knows what happens when you assume. Of course, he's already there. He's ready to spread some more death and destruction around before anyone knows what really happened in Bali. To paraphrase the comic store guy from the Simpsons: "Worst president ever!"


 
Junior Bush league: ''Why do young people read newspapers? Two words: not Britney Spears.'' -- from an eighth-grader's critique of a Dave Barry column.
posted by Bob at 12:24 PM

 
Anti-war movement gets a little press, although it seems to imply that it's a California thing. Well, both of Michigan's senators voted against the war resolution, something California can't claim.
posted by Bob at 12:18 PM

 
Kuwait said 15 men have confessed to helping plan the Oct. 8 shooting. -- from the NY Times.


Fifteen? Fifteen men to "plan" two guys with rifles in a jeep? They probably also confessed to the World Trade Center attacks, shooting Lincoln, and betraying Christ. Those Kuwait interogators are good.


 
Here's a copy of an e-mail I just sent to Senators Lieberman, Daschle, Kerry, Clinton and Edwards, and Representative Gephardt:


Senator/Congressman ___:
You are frequently mentioned as a candidate for the presidency in 2004. I just want you to know that your vote giving our current President the authority to start a pre-emptive war has convinced me that you are not fit to be president, and I will never vote for you. Last week's vote was probably the most important vote of your Senate career, and you could not have gotten it more wrong. The blood of thousands from the upcoming war will be on your hands.

 

We've got two years. We've either got to take the Democratic Party away from the Republicrats listed above or get a viable third party going. I haven't researched it thoroughly, but it seems as though Senators Feingold and Wellstone and Representatives Lee and Kucinich could form a core on which to build. We'll be fighting the Republicrat control of government and media, but the declining economy and rising body counts may contribute to a Peace party, or at least a peace takeover of the Democratic party.


 
The turkey's out of the bag: Since May, actually, and the listeria that goes with it. Good luck to all you meat eaters out there: you're going to need it. That turkey sub you have for lunch today may be recalled in January: Maybe your heirs can win a suit against the meat packer.
posted by Bob at 9:45 AM

 
If there are two involved, I would have to lean towards a conspiracy. -- A quote from the brilliant Jim Kallstrom, who headed the FBI's investigation of the TWA 800 explosion off Long Island in 1996. Unfortunately, in that investigation he repeatedly denied that 1+1=2 and concluded that the fuel tank blew up on its own, no matter how many (100-200) eyewitnesses saw a missile heading towards the plane. Quoted in a NY Post Op-Ed piece (of #$%@) about the shootings in the DC area.
posted by Bob at 9:36 AM

Sunday, October 13, 2002

 
Excerpts from the NY Times article on the bombings in Indonesia:


In Washington, President Bush condemned the attack as ``a cowardly act designed to create terror and chaos'' and offered U.S. help in finding the perpetrators. ``The world must confront this global menace, terrorism,'' he said.

U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce told The Associated Press that it was not possible yet to pin the Bali attack on al-Qaida, but noted that increasing evidence in recent weeks has confirmed al-Qaida's presence in Indonesia and reaching out to local extremists...``In recent weeks, we have been able to put an end to a year of speculation as to whether al-Qaida might be in Indonesia, or relocating to Indonesia, or using Indonesia as a base of operations, after the fall of Afghanistan,'' Boyce said.

Bush said the United States has offered Indonesia assistance ``to help bring these murderers to justice,'' and a senior White House official said U.S. investigators already were at the scene.


I guess I should give our government officials the benefit of the doubt. The Times article may not have reported everything that Bush and Ambassador Boyce had to say. But it is striking that nowhere in the article is there any hint of an expression of sympathy for the victims or a mention of offers of humanitarian aid. It is all "we told you so, we know who did it even before the investigation has begun, and if you don't get them, we will." I certainly hope our government didn't have anything to do with the bombing (including foreknowledge without warning the Indonesians), but this immediate harsh response certainly makes me wonder. It is similar to the Bushies immediate glee when the short-lived coup happened in Venezuela in April.


 
I went to hear Rita Lasar of Peaceful Tomorrows speak last night. Her brother died in the WTC on 9/11/01 as he stayed with a paraplegic friend waiting for help to arrive. Rita was aghast when President Bush started using her brother's heroism as a reason for bombing Afghanistan, and more recently Iraq. She and several other relatives of 9/11 victims traveled to Afghanistan last winter and met with relatives of victims of the US bombing campaign. She and the other members of Peaceful Tomorrows have been lobbying Congress and the President to pursue peace as the surest way to avoid more 9/11's. They get positive responses from audiences around the country, but are mostly ignored by the major media. The Ann Arbor News, however, did cover Lasar's talk at Pioneer High School (my alma mater).
posted by Bob at 9:18 PM

 
I have updated my books page, adding a few new books that I have read recently and one old book, 1984, which is required reading for anyone trying to understand the Bushies or my complaints about them.
posted by Bob at 11:55 AM

 
The Bush administration's frustration with the Indonesian government's reluctance to recognize the extent of terrorism in the country boiled over with last night's carnage.
"We hope this sends a message to the Indonesians that terrorism is not just an American problem, but an Indonesian one as well," a senior administration official said.
-- from the NY Times. Is that the type of message that Bush received from Ariel Sharon and Tony Blair after 9/11? Instead of sympathy, shock or outrage, our government is saying "See? We warned you. Now you've got it too." Sounds more like the messages Osama sent us in his video tapes. Makes you wonder who is really behind the Indonesia bombing. (Can you spell "CIA?") The point being, apparently, that the brutal regime in Indonesia, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Timorese (using American weapons), has not been brutal enough for the likings of the Bush administration. If they are not careful, the Bushies are thinking, real democracy might break out and prove a hindrance to "free trade."

posted by Bob at 9:45 AM

Saturday, October 12, 2002

 
A few headlines from the Washington Post:

Massive Crash on Wisconsin Interstate:
Fiery Accident Kills at Least Seven.

More than two dozen vehicles crashed on a foggy highway Friday, killing at least seven people in a pile of charred and twisted metal. At least 34 others were injured, several critically.

Woman, 2 Children Die In Md. Minivan Crash: 4 Youngsters Hurt as Vehicle Slams Into Trees



8th Killing Linked to Sniper


I'll bet you can guess which was the main headline, and which were small items at the bottom of the web page. I'll also bet that the sniper victims and/or their families get monetary donations orders of magnitude greater than what the car-wreck victims (or families) receive. On average, over 112 Americans are killed in auto accidents daily. The daily toll from more ordinary gun violence also greatly exceeds that of the sniper: About 82 fatalities per day, including homicides, suicides and accidents. The spectacular violence gets all of the attention, while the much more dangerous mundane violence goes unnoticed.


I'm a little at a loss for a conclusion here: some brilliant insight into the human condition, or at least an intriguing way to blame it all on Bush. Any suggestions?


Friday, October 11, 2002

 
Wherever, in this modern age, one has to choose between war and no war, such is the fearfulness of modern armaments that one should give every conceivable preference to the possibilities and arguments for peace before resorting to the sword. -- George Kennan, quoted in the New Yorker.
posted by Bob at 4:47 PM

 
And then there's the little matter of the bill: By Wide Margin, House Passes 2 Military Spending Measures. $355.4 billion. $1270 for each of 280 million Americans. $355.4 billion. $355.4 billion. By a vote of 409 to 14. God bless America.
posted by Bob at 3:10 PM

 
Withdrawing my endorsement: A couple of weeks ago I recommended the Council for a Livable World's website as a good place to go to make donations to anti-war candidates for Congress. Well, I checked today and many of the candidates for whom they are soliciting contributions voted for the war resolution last night, including Senators Baucus, Biden, Cleland, Harkin, Johnson and Kerry. I think Harkin is the only one of those that I actually gave money to, but I am mad at the Council for recommending candidates who would even consider voting for the resolution. I sent them an e-mail asking them to remove the names of anyone who voted for it immediately. Take that, you weasels!
posted by Bob at 2:58 PM

 
The Joint Resolution to Authorize the use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, passed by the House and Senate yesterday and early this morning, mentions September 11 three times, even though no links between Iraq and 9/11 have been made. As far as I can tell, in mathematical terms, the intersection of the stated reasons for war with Iraq and the real reasons is the empty set, which is congruous with the contents of George W. Bush's smirky little head. Most wars are criminal, and this one will be no exception. My hopes for living in a more peaceful and just world are giving way to the meager anticipation that someday soon I may still be alive and able to poke my head above the rubble and say "I told you so." Ain't worth it!

I called the offices of Senators Levin and Stabenow and Representative Rivers this morning to thank them for voting against the resolution. I am extremely disappointed in Senator Harkin of Iowa, who voted for the resolution. I gave some money to his re-election campaign through the Council for a Livable World website, and he votes for war! Scum!


 
Congratulations to Jimmy Carter on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. A lot of people thought he deserved it back in 1979 when he got Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat to sign a Mideast peace treaty at Camp David. If you are wondering if maybe Carter won the prize in order to contrast his peaceful efforts with the current president's warmongering, wonder no further:
``It should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken,'' Gunnar Berge, chairman of the Nobel committee, said. ``It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States.''


Carter's selection is somewhat tainted, however, since Hamid Karzai, Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush and Tony Blair were also nominated for the award. So he really had no competition. But the peace prize hasn't meant anything, anyway, since Henry Kissinger won one. I don't remember if it was for losing the Vietnam war after extending it for several years or for bringing peace to the middle east. So don't smile too much, Jimmy--it's just peanuts.


 

from Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
posted by Bob at 10:20 AM

 
It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. -- Mark Twain. The crooks on the hill have done it--the Senate last night joining the House in voting "to give the dumbest, most conscience-free president in our history the authority to start a war whenever he feels like it." (to quote myself) And where were our supposed challengers to the throne in 2004? Senators Daschle, Edwards, Kerry, Lieberman and Clinton all voted for it. See the Senate roll call and the House roll call for a complete list of the criminals. At least I can be proud of my representatives: Senators Levin and Stabenow both voted against the resolution, as did current representative Lynn Rivers and future representative John Dingell.
posted by Bob at 7:49 AM

 
So here's my theory: Michael Oxley, Harvey Pitt and George W. Bush are all Communist moles who have worked their way into the center of the capitalist system in order to destroy it. -- Well, okay, there's more to Paul Krugman's op-ed than just that sentence. Doesn't come out looking any better for the three stooges, however.
posted by Bob at 12:24 AM

 
Name? United States of America.

Address? Planet Earth.

Occupation? Yes.

That's right, the empire already has an occupation plan for Iraq. The plan includes war crime trials, although apparently they are intended for Iraqi generals, not the pre-emptive war criminals.


Thursday, October 10, 2002

 
This AP report describes a tour of an alleged nuclear development site in Iraq given to western reporters. What strikes me most is that the AP reporter repeatedly makes the claim that the Iraqis could be lying the whole time, since the reporters know nothing about nuclear technology and wouldn't recognize it if they saw it. Maybe I'm expecting too much, but aren't reporters supposed to know something? But the AP guy remarks: Without the expertise to know what to ask about or where to look, the crowd [of reporters] looked more like a kindergarten class touring a soft drinking bottling plant. I'm really reassured about our "free press" when I read that.
posted by Bob at 4:14 PM

 
The House of Reprehensibles has done it: voted to give the dumbest, most conscience-free president in our history the authority to start a war whenever he feels like it.
``It is only when the Iraqi dictator is certain of our willingness to wage war if necessary that peace becomes possible," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif.

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. 2002 is 1984. Let's all gather by the telescreen for the two-minute hate.


 
Thousands Flee Ivory Coast City (AP) Thousands of people, many carrying cooking pots and bundles of clothes, fled this rebel-held city during a lull in fighting Thursday to escape food shortages and roaming gangs that burned people alive.

Dang! The whole world seems to suck lately. Sorry. It's starting to get to me, I'm afraid.


 
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle put aside his misgivings Thursday and announced he will support President Bush's request for authority to use force against Iraq. ``I believe it is important for America to speak with one voice,'' Daschle declared. -- from
AP via NY Times. Reminds me of Marge Simpson trying to teach Bart a lesson:
Marge: Now Bart, if Milhouse was going to jump off a cliff, would you...
Bart: Milhouse is jumping off a cliff? I'm there, man!

Why is it important for America to speak with one voice, especially a voice which is so blatantly, immorally, pathetically, criminally WRONG! Is it to convince the rest of the world that everyone here hates them, not just the poisonous little man in charge? Here's one American voice saying NO to war! NO NO NO NO NO! You don't speak for me, Mr. Daschle.


 
An absolutely amazing Op-Ed piece from William Safire today. The gist of it, that lie detectors are worse than useless, I agree with wholeheartedly. He reports the results of a National Research Council study which concludes that "national security is too important to be left to such a blunt instrument," and noted pointedly that "no spy has ever been caught [by] using the polygraph." So far, so good. Lie detectors have been used by law enforcement to extract confessions or force plea bargains from people accused of crimes who are not aware of the fallacies of the detectors. They have also been used, as Safire points out, by professional liars to validate their lies. But here is the amazing part of his article:

Because professional spies are trained to defeat the device; because pathological liars do not cause its needles to spike; and because our counterspies relax when a potential suspect "passes" — the system breeds the opposite of security.

Here's how I learned about that. In 1981 there was a brouhaha about the Reagan campaign having pilfered a briefing book used by Jimmy Carter to prepare for a debate. James Baker, to deflect suspicion from himself, hinted that it must have been the doing of the campaign chairman, Bill Casey.

Casey, just appointed C.I.A. chief, told me he was going to challenge Baker to a polygraph test to show who was lying. Figuring my old pal Casey was the culprit, I wondered why he would take the gamble. He reminded me he was an old O.S.S. spymaster, and that by using dodges like a sphincter-muscle trick and a Valium pill, he could defeat any polygraph operator. Baker wisely did not take Casey up on the challenge.

A more serious example of the foolishness of dependence on the machine: A national security adviser was suspected of leaking a secret to The New York Times. Though not our source, he flunked the exam, and was about to be fired and disgraced. He put President Reagan on the phone to The Times's publisher, who — on a one-time basis — confirmed that the adviser had not been our source. That was one fewer career lost to the predatory polygraph.

So Safire admits that his "old pal" Casey was a liar and had stolen Carter's briefing book, something which helped Reagan "win" a debate with Carter and contributing to his election victory (although not as much, probably, as Casey's (and possibly George Bush the First's) efforts to have Iran hold the hostages until after the election, known as the "October Surprise"). Safire then reveals how the NY Times sort of revealed a source, in the negative, to save the job of one of Reagan's national security advisers. Amazingly, Safire considers this to be a more serious case than his old pal's successful efforts to steal the presidency.


 
$%&&^%&#%^@*&^%& Sellouts! 2 Critics of Bush Iraq Policy Say They'll Back Resolution. A totally insane issue is on the table, for some bizarre reason, and Senators Kerry and Hagel decide to abandon their principles for an infinitesimal reduction in the insanity. The issue that should be debated is: Should George W. Bush be impeached today, or yesterday?
posted by Bob at 8:12 AM

 
Singer Harry Belafonte has criticized Secretary of State Colin Powell for his toeing the Bush line:

"There's an old saying," Belafonte said. "In the days of slavery, there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and [there] were those slaves that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master ... exactly the way the master intended to have you serve him. Colin Powell's committed to come into the house of the master. When Colin Powell dares to suggest something other than what the master wants to hear, he will be turned back out to pasture."

Earlier in the day, a senior State Department official had a piece of advice for Belafonte, similar to a suggestion made to Powell after he sang in a musical skit with fellow foreign ministers during the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei this past July.
"As people said when the secretary sang at ASEAN [that] he should keep his day job, you could say the same about singers who get into politics," the official said.

The "official" is dead wrong, and demonstrates one of the things that is fundamentally wrong with the Bushies: politics is everyone's business. Singers should get into politics, as should everyone. I won't pretend to tell Jamaican-Americans like Belafonte and Powell what characterizations of each other are politically correct. But Powell was highly respected for his moderate, even dovish views two years ago, and he was paraded by Bush as his Secretary of State nominee well before the Florida election controversy had ended. While probably no one directly involved in that would admit to having changed his or her mind because of Powell's premature nomination, it certainly took some of the wind out of the sails of those fighting for Gore, and particularly for the millions of Americans who weren't pulling strongly for either candidate. They probably thought that even though Bush was clearly clueless on foreign policy, he was going to select a knowledgeable, intelligent and cautious man to make the decisions. I'll admit my concerns about W as president were reduced from shear terror to mild panic when Powell was announced as Secretary of State. If, for example, W had announced in the middle of the Florida muddle that John Ashcroft was going to be attorney general, there might well have been enough outrage to force accurate recounts, no matter how long it took. But W brought out Powell, the steadying influence to calm our fears (Ashcroft wasn't nominated until January, well after the Supreme Court had given Bush the presidency). So to see Powell supporting every bellicose, insane policy of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Perle is very disillusioning and disheartening. Characterizing him as a house slave may have unfortunate racial overtones, but none of the alternatives seem particularly flattering, either: a dog who is loyal even though kicked repeatedly, a sycophant, a Waylan Smithers. And I think Belafonte's analogy fits, racial overtones or no. It could well have been applied to Al Gore selling out his supposed environmentalist credentials to support NAFTA and other Clinton-sponsored free-trade crap. So I guess my advice to Mr. Powell is this: don't tell Belafonte, or anyone, to stay out of politics. And if you don't want to be characterized as a house slave, stop acting like one.


Wednesday, October 09, 2002

 
I have a suggestion. Let's adjourn for one hour and go down to the Vietnam Memorial before we commit ourselves and our children to an undnown world in which any president can decide to go to war as long as he or she determines it is in the national interest at that moment. Let's look at names one more time before we wipe away the efforts of sixty years to weave the years together through the UN and international law and institutions. After two world wars in 25 years, world leaders have remained committed to doing their best to prevent such an event, ever again. By and large, they have succeeded. Let us not, in pursuit of oil or power or the blandishments of empire, be the ones to lead the world to failure. -- Rep. James McDermott (D-WA)
posted by Bob at 7:52 PM

 
Arrest them all and let Ashcroft sort them out. That seems to have been the approach taken by DC and National Park Service police when they arrested hundreds during anti-World Bank protests in Washington last weekend, according to this article.
posted by Bob at 3:07 PM

 
Accuracy.org has a line-by-line critique of W's war speech from Monday. The Guardian has another.
posted by Bob at 2:13 PM

 
And I thought our elections were crazy!
posted by Bob at 11:17 AM

 
Gassed his own people, you say? That's old hat--we did that years ago! The article makes it sound as if this is new information. But I've read at least a couple of books that have described some of these tests, including Whiteout, which describes a lot of dirty deeds done by the CIA over the years, and The Cobra Event, a novel by Richard Preston. Calling this new information reminds me of Rummy's denial that he had ever heard that Iraq got much of its starter germs for bio-weapons from the US. (I think this may have been in one of Preston's books as well.)

posted by Bob at 11:00 AM
 

Some quotes and rants about the dock lockouts and Bush's using Taft-Hartley to end it:

Business groups blitzed the White House late last week with dire scenarios about the consequences for jobs and profits if port closure went past 10 days. "This is about more than labor unions and port operators," said Tracy Mullin, president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation, which represents about 1.4 million retail stores. "This is about whether American children will find presents under the tree on Christmas morning." -- from the Washington Post.
Heaven forbid that kids find fewer crappy commercial toys made in sweatshops in China and Vietnam, and sold at huge markups by Toys-R-Us and Wal-Mart by minimum-wage clerks, causing Mommy and Daddy to work extra hours at their low-wage jobs (their high-wage jobs having gone to China and Vietnam to support "free trade") to pay the Visa bill, under the tree. They might have to settle for something of quality made by Americans paid decent wages, or maybe something used purchased at a thrift store which would not require using any new resources, would benefit the poor, and would cost Mommy and Daddy much less than the new crap at Wal-Mart. Mullin's argument clearly demonstrates the total insanity at the root of the American economy: Must waste, must exploit, must shop, must consume.

Ford imports 360 different parts through West Coast ports, while Dell Computer said it had only 10 days' worth of some computer parts left. One California military contractor said a custom piece of Japanese tooling that it needed to build tactical Tomahawk missiles was trapped on a ship off the California coast. -- from the New York Times.
Why is it that an interruption in importing car parts is seen as a threat to closing US manufacturing plants rather than an opportunity to re-open US part plants? Not that I am going to shed a tear if the Expedition plant is idled for a few decades. And Tomahawk missles? I think we are getting close to the heart of the reason for Bush's intervention. No missiles, no war. No war, a return to sanity. Return to sanity, no Bush. Further confirmation:

 

Mr. Bush said he was worried about the movement of military supplies. The Pentagon often uses commercial shipping lines to send supplies and equipment overseas, and those lines would undoubtedly fill that role from the busy West Coast ports if fighting erupted in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. -- also from the NY Times.


I'm not sure which side is more to blame in the dock dispute. From the stories, the dockworkers seem to be fairly well-paid, but management is certainly trying to change that. As a labor issue, helping agricultural workers, fast food workers and retail employees to unionize tugs at my heartstrings more than the dock dispute. But the union movement undoubtedly improved wages, hours and conditions for almost all American workers, even those who were never in a union. "Free trade" has exercised an outright assault on unions in the past twenty years, and Bush has now taken out the government's bluntest hammer (Taft-Hartley) to try to pound one of the few remaining strong unions into submission. Plus, while I struggle to maintain some objectivity, I find that I can't help feeling that whatever Bush is for, I'm against. Of course, you'd never guess that by reading the rest of my rants! :-)



Tuesday, October 08, 2002

 
The three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ...[wrote] that the types of deportation hearings being closed were ``extremely narrow'' and that the attorney general is in a better position than immigration judges to determine their importance to national security. If a terrorist cell learned one of its members had been detained, the judges reasoned, it might flee, destroy evidence, kill witnesses, modify its methods of entering the country or even accelerate plans for an attack.``Even minor pieces of evidence that might appear innocuous to us would provide valuable clues to a person within the terrorist network,'' Chief Judge Edward R. Becker wrote. -- from AP via NY Times

Paranoia, hysteria, and lies! The only reason for secrecy is that the government has something to hide, which is probably that they have no case. These mostly imaginary "terrorist cells" will figure out soon enough that Mohammed has been detained when he doesn't come to the meetings or answer the phone calls. The argument is completely absurd since the government has shown no haste whatsoever to have hearings at all; by the time some of these guys get hearings, secret or not, most of their supposed "cells" will probably have died of old age. And don't judges have some duty to consider the fact that the Attorney General is a fascist before giving him more authority? This ruling by the 3rd Court of Appeals is at odds with that of the 6th Court of Appeals, which ruled that hearings for Ann Arbor's Rabih Haddad had to be open. I would sure feel better about the eventual outcome of all of this if Clarence Thomas were back at his old job telling dirty jokes.
posted by Bob at 3:48 PM

 
Keep those calls coming! I just called my congresspeople again, and the people answering the phones confirmed that Senator Stabenow and Rep. Rivers will vote against the war resolution. I also called Rep. John Dingell's office: he's not my congressman yet, but he will be in January. Maybe I'll call the other 531 congresspeople as well--who knows, maybe I'll move. ("Hello? Senator Lott? I'm considering a move to Mississippi, bringing untold wealth and prosperity with me, but I want to make sure that my elected representatives are not supporting the warmonger Bush. You're not going to vote for his war resolution, are you? I would be terribly disappointed.")
posted by Bob at 9:37 AM

Monday, October 07, 2002

 
My TV survived, but just barely. I watched part of W's speech from Cincinnati. Herr Goebels would be impressed.
posted by Bob at 10:45 PM

 
As our outrage lessens and is diverted, they remain locked up without rights. The Washington Post reminds us of the plights of Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, US citizens held on a Rumsfeldian creation ("enemy combatant") without much hope for anything.
posted by Bob at 4:08 PM

 
My apologies for trying to be even-handed. NJ Republican senatorial candidate Douglas Forrester took the place of a scandal-plagued candidate (NY Times--see bottom of article) in the primary election after the supposed 51-day deadline, violating the same rule that Forrester was claiming should keep Dem. Frank Lautenberg from replacing Torricelli on the ballot. Apparently even the Supreme Court couldn't stomach this hypocrisy and is going to allow Lautenberg on the ballot. Do you think that maybe none of these hacks belongs on the ballot? Maybe the Republican and Democratic parties in New Jersey should be put on probation, not allowed to run any candidates for five years until they have shown that they can behave and nominate responsibly.
posted by Bob at 2:36 PM

 
Afghan war a failure. Probably not news to regular readers, it is probably also well known to congresspeople who nevertheless praise the "president" for his handling of it. Rahul Mahajan summarizes the facts about phase one of the "War on Terrorism."
posted by Bob at 12:48 PM

 
Participating in a BlogBurst! The author of Alas, A Blog has organized a "blogburst" of open letters to congress and newspapers opposing war. Here's mine, which I e-mailed a few minutes ago:


Dear Senators Stabenow and Levin:
I am writing once again to ask you to please vote against the President's war resolution. There is no need for war against Iraq, and no excuse for an illegal pre-emptive strike. There may be some danger in not attacking Iraq, but it is much less than the multitude of dangers which we will face if we do attack Iraq. I cannot believe that our elected Senators will allow this un-elected President to lead us into World War III. Please vote no!

Sincerely,

Bob Goodsell


 
Think maybe someone left out a word?:

``The (Pacific Maritime Association) presented a comprehensive proposal to the longshore union, which would have made their members the highest blue-collar workers in America,'' said Steve Sugerman, a spokesman for the PMA, which represents the manufacturers. -- from the NY Times.

posted by Bob at 9:38 AM

 
Daschle said he expects both chambers to pass a resolution supporting the president in the next week to 10 days. "I'm not sure that we've found exactly the right language yet," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We're going to make the best effort we can to improve upon it and then pass it overwhelmingly." Daschle suggested that he sees war against Hussein as likely. "I would hope that we could use force if necessary in ways that could contain the breadth and the scope of war," he said. "But certainly, if force is necessary, and if we anticipate his reluctance to comply, I don't know that we have any other choice." -- This is the opposition party? No other choice than to attack a small country thousands of miles away that has no capability or intent to do us any harm?

posted by Bob at 9:14 AM

 
Bush will include a message to Iraqi officials that they might be charged as war criminals if they follow Hussein's orders, the official said. -- from the Washington Post. Hello kettle? This is pot. You're black! Bush is planning a pre-emptive strike against a sovereign nation, and he suggests that those in Iraq who defend their country are war criminals. "Welcome to the Bush universe, gentlemen! You have only two choices: traitor or war criminal." Does he intend to try them in the International Criminal Court? Now, W hasn't actually said this, yet, but if he does he will have outdone himself once again in hypocrisy.
posted by Bob at 9:05 AM

 
Let's hope that Bush's speech tonight has the same effect on war prospects that his economic speeches have on the stock market. My guess is that it will be bumbling and stupid, repeating the same half-truths and outright lies of the past few months, but it will be reported as "brilliant statesmanship, making a strong case blah, blah, blah..."
posted by Bob at 8:52 AM

 

So this is what happens when you elect a moron to be your president...

and then allow the Supreme Court to appoint an even bigger moron instead!
posted by Bob at 8:45 AM

Sunday, October 06, 2002

 
I've added a links frame to the right of the blog:

(-->)



If the top date of this blog is older than Donald Rumsfeld, try one of the blogs listed. Most of them have links to even more blogs, so you should never have to go without recent blog material!
posted by Bob at 10:06 AM

Friday, October 04, 2002

 
Wild Speculation. Serious journalists are not supposed to engage in it, but I'm not a serious journalist! My speculation du jour is that the sniper shootings in Montgomery County, Maryland and the parachute-cord cuttings at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina are the work of soldiers or marines recently returned from Afghanistan, just as at least three of the wife killings at Fort Bragg were earlier this summer. I believe that the disillusionment and frustration on the part of servicemen that was so widespread among Vietnam vets, which also affected Timothy McVeigh after the Gulf War and the soldiers in Somalia described in "Black Hawk Down" (book and movie), is bound to be epidemic among soldiers returning from Afghanistan, Iraq, and other targets of the "War on Terrorism." I recall back in February or March when Rumsfeld was visiting US troops in Uzbekistan, and one of them asked "How long will we be here, sir?" Rummy answered flippantly: "As long as it takes." He didn't say for what, and these poor GI's are stuck in Uzbekistan indefinitely, which as far as I can tell is pretty much Antarctica without the nightlife. So, just as with McVeigh and Nichols, we will once again be treated to the return of a bunch of angry, disillusioned people who are highly trained in the use of weapons. I'm speculating a military killer in Maryland in large part because of the accuracy: Five bullets, five fatalities. I certainly don't mean to imply that most returning soldiers are or will be dangerous or should be treated with fear or any disrespect. Just that there are always some people on the edge, and giving them advanced weapons training and sending them on a disillusioning mission is a good way to push them over.
posted by Bob at 2:28 PM

Thursday, October 03, 2002

 
According to the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, the company contributed $1.5 million to presidential and Congressional campaigns between 1995 and 2000. Occidental also spent nearly $8.7 million lobbying American officials on Latin America policy, largely regarding Colombia, from 1996 to 2000, according to disclosure forms filed with Congress. Other oil and energy companies also spent handsomely to influence Colombia policy, with Exxon Mobil Corporation, BP Amoco, the Unocal Corporation, Texaco and Phillips Petroleum spending about $13 million among them on Colombia in the same period. -- from the NY Times. So what does Occidental get for the $10.2 million investment (bribe) in American politicians?

The $94 million counterinsurgency program is also an important element in the offensive by Colombia's new government against two rebel groups and a paramilitary force that dominate much of the country.
So Occidental gets a 900% return on its investment, not counting the lives of the soldiers who will be killed defending their pipeline, or the thousands of Colombians who will continue to die to keep American SUV's running.


 
You say you want a revolution, well, you know--you've got one! Ted Rall points out how the Bushies' peripatetic changing of the subject of discussion and object of hatred is an example of "permanent revolution," a concept introduced by Trotsky in 1915 and a favorite of Stalin, Mao, and yes, der Fuhrer himself. Thanks to Lester Yesterday for sending me that link.
posted by Bob at 9:02 PM

 
Leaflets dropped on Iraq. That's right--we've already started the war on Iraq, and we're dropping leaflets warning Iraqi soldiers not to defend their country. Is it just me, or is this more than a little arrogant?

(Rhetorical question. Correct answer: "This is more than a little arrogant." So is this parenthetical paragraph.)


 
Saudi popup ads! That's right, I've started seeing popup ads for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. All that oil money buys a lot of good old American PR (aka BS).
posted by Bob at 1:13 PM

 
Torricelli: New Jersey has two "Democratic" Senators, both of whom make Richard Nixon look like a socialist pinko by comparison. According to this WSWS article, Torricelli has been a tool for right-wing groups including the anti-Castro Cubans in Miami and foreign interests from Taiwan and Korea. The Korea gig is what has him in hot water, leading to his withdrawal from his race for re-election. Both parties immediately took their predictable positions on replacing Torricelli's name on the ballot: Republicans saying that it's too late, Dems saying that it's unfair to voters to deny them a choice. Jersey Democrats are trying to put former senator Frank Lautenberg on the ballot in Torricelli's place and have won approval to do so from the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Republicans, usually champions of states' rights, are of course appealing to the US Supreme Court.


Unfortunately, I'll have to agree with the Republicans on this one. The Democrats made the mistake of re-nominating their own crooked Republicrat instead of coming up with a viable candidate, but waited until it looked like he was going to lose to change horses. William Safire makes the case pretty clearly in the NY Times today. I dread the prospect of a Republican-controlled Senate, but when you realize that the "Democrats" include Torricelli, Lieberman and other warmongering corporate drones, the sad news is that we already have a Republican-controlled Senate. By the way, Jersey's other "Democratic" senator is former Goldman-Sachs executive Jon Corzine, who may have his own scandal to deal with soon.


While I don't think that the Democrats should be allowed to change the name on the ballot, I think that this case highlights the bankruptcy of the two-party system. There was no real choice between Torricelli and Forrester, except maybe that Forrester is honest enough to admit that he's a Republican. With a dynamic multi-party (or no-party) system, the withdrawal of a single candidate would not remove all semblance of choice from an election.


 
"A president against a president and vice president against a vice president and a duel takes place, if they are serious, and in this way we are saving the American and the Iraqi people," Ramadan told the Associated Press Television Network. That's right: One of Iraq's vice presidents is suggesting a duel between W and Saddam, and another between Cheney and himself. Although the article hints that the suggestion was tongue in cheek, I see real possibilities here. Here are the ground rules:
Yup, we could solve a lot of the world's problems!
posted by Bob at 12:30 PM

 
As far as the political situation in the US is concerned, we are facing a dangerous and extremely unfortunate administration. The way I see it, the presidential election was stolen by George W. Bush and ever since we have all been suffering the consequences. I think that the most recent thing with Iraq is absolute insanity, and I cannot believe that there is not opposition to it on a more global scale and that there is not more opposition in the country on the part of the sane people, including politicians, but also students and artists.
There has to be a movement to really oppose what Bush is proposing, because it is unconstitutional, immoral and basically illegal. I find it particularly reprehensible the way he acts like he was in a western, intimidating the rest of the world. What can I say? I hate Bush; I despise him and his entire administration, everything he represents and everything he has tried to do, not only internationally, which is horrific, but domestically as well.
In my country the atmosphere is poisoned. Unbreathable for those of us who are not on the right. So thank you for inviting me to this festival and allowing me to leave there for a few days.
-- actress Jessica Lange, quoted on WSWS . Meanwhile, as described in the same article Tom Cruise and Stephen Spielberg were in Italy recently supporting W's Iraq war. Spielberg is probably paying W back for pushing Star Wars so hard.
posted by Bob at 10:33 AM

 
"We will not leave the future of peace and the security of America in the hands of this cruel and dangerous man," Mr. Bush said in announcing the deal in the White House Rose Garden. (real quote from NY Times.)

"Therefore, I am today firing Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. I'd fire Cheney, too, if I could find him." (Dream quote from a better universe.)
posted by Bob at 10:23 AM

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

 
I can't get the specific links to work, but the Cogent Provacateur (another blogger) has two fine, detailed articles relating to the Iraq Attaq. The first, dated September 18, lists all of the reasons given for invading Iraq and debunks most of them. It then investigates what are probably the real reasons. The other article, dated September 26 (currently the most recent) compares the Iraq "debate" to the similar "debate" 40-some years ago about Vietnam.
posted by Bob at 4:22 PM

 
From a BBC reporter in Afghanistan describing an encounter with American troops:


I was hailed by two young soldiers lounging in one of those huge American Humvee jeeps. Clearly these two were not part of the guided tour. "Excuse me sir," they asked. "But do we really have to say this baloney?" The actual word they used was a little more colourful. "What baloney?" I asked. They handed me a small laminated card. On it were instructions on how to deal with journalists. Every soldier had been given one.

These were not just general ground rules. It actually listed suggested answers:


"How do you feel about what you're doing in Afghanistan"?


Answer: "We're united in our purpose and committed to achieving our goals."


"How long do you think that will take?"

Answer: "We will stay here as long as it takes to get the job done - sir!"

Thanks to PR Watch for pointing out that one. Check out PR Watch for a reality check on much of the "baloney" that you hear from our "leaders" and from the media. We are being lied to deliberately, repeatedly, and systematically.



 
The 2000 Democratic presidential nominee said Bush doesn't have to change his basic philosophy but does need to make economic adjustments to match current conditions. ``I am not asking the president to abandon his ideology,'' Gore said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. ``I am suggesting that he should try to reconcile his ideology with the realities now being faced by the American people.'' -- from AP via NY Times.

How depressing. If Gore agrees with Bush's basic philosophy then we had no chance at all in 2000, no matter whom the Supreme Court elected. The two-party system was bad enough--this one-party crap has got to go.


 
Check out Ted Rall's War Cry, which describes Iranian President Mohammad Khatami making a speech to the UN to support action against the US. An excerpt: "Bush has invaded Afghanistan and is now threatening Iraq. We cannot stand by and do nothing while danger gathers. We can't wait for this tyrant to strike first. We have an obligation to act pre-emptively to protect the world from this evildoer," Khatami said.

posted by Bob at 12:29 PM

 
Yahoo! News - White House: assassination of Saddam would be cheaper than war: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has suggested at least three times in the last 1 1/2 weeks that Saddam might be allowed to go into exile with his family.

Maybe Rummy can work out a deal with Sharon: Saddam Hussein for Yasser Arafat. And two suicide bombers to be named later.


 
Doonesbury answers the question: "Does the Attorney General have any shame at all?"
posted by Bob at 10:11 AM

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

 
U.N., Iraq Agree on Inspection Terms The chief U.N. weapons inspector for Iraq said on Tuesday that tentative agreement has been reached with Baghdad on the return of his team to check for the presence of illegal, nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
The Iraqi representatives have said ``that they accept all the rights of inspections that are laid down'' in previous resolutions authorizing U.N. inspections, said the chief inspector, Hans Blix.

It has been about half an hour since AP filed this report. Where's Ari to denounce it? Did he have something disagreeable for lunch? Rummy will be out shortly to tell us that Judas was Saddam's ancestor and that links between the Iraqis and Darth Vader are "bulletproof." Condi will then state that there is "indisputable evidence," which she won't provide, that Iraq was behind Europe's victory in the Winona Ryder Cup. W will be along later to unintentionally contradict all of them.


 
In case you were wondering where W stands on the labor-management issue: President Bush urged West Coast longshoremen Tuesday to ``get back to work,'' saying the labor dispute that has shut down ports from San Diego to San Francisco threatens the nation's economy. Given that there's a lockout in effect, not a strike, that could be difficult. About halfway through his babblings W remembered what the facts are: ``Any strike's a tough situation but this one happens to come at -- or, a lockout is a tough situation or no work is a tough situation -- this is coming at a bad time,'' Bush said. (Source: AP via NY Times)
posted by Bob at 12:00 PM

 
"Officials said the attack was not related to terrorism, and said Tuesday morning they did not know the motive" for the attack on a Greyhound bus in California which killed two and injured dozens. Now, according to the Bushies recently-released "National Security Strategy," terrorism is defined as "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents." The guy cut the driver's throat, knowing this would cause the bus to crash. Certainly premeditated violence against innocents--if his motive was political, it was terrorism. But "officials" say they don't know the motive, but it isn't terrorism. What they probably mean is that the guy is Latino and not Arab.
posted by Bob at 11:02 AM

 
Fleischer said that since September 16, when Iraq indicated in a letter to the U.N. it would allow the return of weapons inspectors "without conditions," Iraq has tried to shoot down coalition aircraft 67 times, with 14 instances this past weekend.

"Their actions are in defiance of international law, international rule, military attacks on coalition aircraft who are flying to patrol the no-fly zones that Saddam Hussein agreed to in 1991," said Fleischer.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was even more blunt. "They have lied over and over and over again."

"With each missile launched at our air crews, Iraq expresses its contempt for the U.N. resolutions, a fact that must be kept in mind as their latest inspection offers are evaluated," he said. from CNN.

You hate to be in the position of actually defending Iraq, but the Bushies are making it impossible not to. I'm sure that's part of their plan so that they can make people committed to the truth, like Representatives McDermott and Bonior, look like traitors. But this latest batch of nonsense from Fleischer and Rumsfeld is so completely false that you just have to say "They have lied over and over and over again." To set the record straight, the "no-fly" zones are not in the UN resolutions, Saddam has not agreed to them, and those air crews that the Iraqis have been shooting at have been bombing Iraq regularly for years. Without approval from the UN or Congress the Bushies are already at war with Iraq, and they are trying to convince the world that Iraqis attempting to shoot down planes bombing their country is a reason to proceed with all-out war. I guess the Bushies got tired of playing their "Two-part Invention" (weapons of mass destruction in counterpoint with links to terrorism) and are adding a third part (shooting at our bombers). Stay tuned: I see a full-blown fugue in the making!


 
Don't miss Mike Thompson's cartoon for today.
posted by Bob at 9:09 AM

 
Huey from Boondocks is having trouble composing a "nice" letter to President Bush about Iraq. Check out these cartoons:
http://www.uclick.com/client/wpc/bo/2002/09/30/index.html
and http://www.uclick.com/client/wpc/bo/2002/10/01/index.html.
posted by Bob at 9:05 AM

 
I regret to inform you that the "W holds the book upside down" picture is a fake. So is the president in the picture.
posted by Bob at 8:58 AM

 
The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know. -- Harry S. Truman


I've been reading Howard Zinn's wonderful book, A People's History of the United States. Anyone who has a shadow of a doubt about the real reason for Bush's warlust should read Zinn's chapters on the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, and World War I. Using cheap jingoism to rally the masses, the government has always used a combination of patriotism and repression to drag the country into wars which were undertaken for the basest of motives to benefit the richest of men on the flimsiest of excuses. War is a tool which has always been used by those in power to repress and control the public, and it is truly scary how large a proportion of the American public doesn't know that particular bit of history. The story of the Espionage Act of 1917 is eerily similar to the USA Patriot Act of 2001. The Espionage Act declared speech which might hinder the war effort or the draft as illegal, and thousands of socialists and pacifists were locked up for years. Worse yet, according to Zinn the Espionage Act is still the law of the land!

Even with all the nonsense going on now, it is still hard to doubt that the US is one of the best countries on Earth. But it is so far inferior to what we think it is, or what we are told it is supposed to be, or what it could be. We can't just settle for saying "We are freer, richer and more democratic than Iraq or Syria or Russia or Bangladesh or Argentina; therefore we are completely wonderful and can do whatever we want." Let's reject leaders who want to revel in arrogance and stupidity and use the outrageous power they have stolen to control us and subjugate the world's billions. (Sorry--Zinn quotes speeches from Eugene Debs and other great socialist orators of the past and he's got me fired up!)


Monday, September 30, 2002
 
"I have never heard anything like what you've read, I have no knowledge of it whatsoever, and I doubt it," Rumsfeld said. -- from AP.
Rummy was "answering" charges from Senator Robert Byrd that Iraq got its bio-weapon starter kit from the US.


I've read about the US providing Iraq with lethal bacteria and viruses for at least months. If there was any doubt before, there is certainly no doubt now that Rummy is either a dispicable liar or a total ignoramus, both of which qualify him for immediate removal from being in charge of the world's most powerful military.


 
Do you think that maybe if we stopped trying to piss off the rest of the world that we could relax a little? Someone in the Hart Senate Office Building found a scrap of paper with the word "smallpox" on it, and the building was shut down for 40 minutes. I mean, smallpox vaccinations were a major topic of discussion last week: do you think maybe somebody took some notes? I'll bet you wouldn't have to look very hard to find papers there with "anthrax", "Iraq", "chemical weapons", "bombs", "al Qaeda", and a bunch of other scary words on them. (There's probably a few copies of the Washington Post in the trash cans, for example.) As a matter of fact, I encourage them to look! Shutting down the Senate for a while might keep them from approving Bush's war resolution, which would probably result in a lowering of any real terrorist threat, which would allow the Senate to stay open more in the future!
posted by Bob at 2:02 PM

 
Uranium-shmanium! Apparenty Turkish officials included the weight of the lead container in the supposed 34.6 pounds of uranium seized from two guys in a taxi. It is now believed to be 3 ounces, and they're not really sure what it is. Thanks to CNN for once again reporting nothing as something. Makes me proud of my unflagging skepticism, although I apologize to my readers for bringing this non-issue to your attention.
posted by Bob at 12:33 PM

 
Making a deal with the Russians: See this Jeff Danziger cartoon.
posted by Bob at 11:56 AM

 
Speaking of the administration, [Rep. of Washington State Jim] McDermott said, "I believe that sometimes they give out misinformation." Then he added: "It would not surprise me if they came up with some information that is not provable, and they've shifted. First they said it was Al Qaeda, then they said it was weapons of mass destruction. Now they're going back and saying it's Al Qaeda again." When pressed for evidence about whether President Bush had lied, Mr. McDermott said, "I think the president would mislead the American people." But he said he believed that inspections of Iraq's weapons programs could be worked out. -- from the NY Times.
posted by Bob at 9:40 AM

Saturday, September 28, 2002
 
I was in downtown Ann Arbor this morning passing out anti-war fliers. The response was about 95% positive (that is, anti-war). Ann Arbor is known as a liberal town, but everyone should know that there are a lot of people out there not buying the Bush propaganda. Make your calls, take to the streets, put a stop to this! I don't know if we can pull it off, but we have to try! The cycle of violence is about to go into high gear, downhill, with the wind, and the brakes seem to be broken. Let's throw a stick in Bush's spokes before it's too late!
posted by Bob at 9:50 PM

 
Can you say setup? World War II started after Hitler had a couple of Germans in a radio station killed and blamed it on Poland. Now two guys supposedly get busted in Turkey, supposedly smuggling uranium. So far it hasn't been officially alleged that they were headed for Iraq, although CNN is sure hinting at it. Our power to know what is really going on is so tiny compared to their power to deceive! Does anyone know where April Glaspie is right now?
posted by Bob at 9:45 PM

Friday, September 27, 2002
 
Alternative History--How things might have been (a Bob original):

Bush Shocked by German Minister's Comparison to Hitler


President Bush admitted that he was shocked by German Justice Minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin's observation that his using talk of war with Iraq to distract the public's attention away from domestic issues was a technique once used by Adolf Hitler. "Really!" said Bush. "I had no idea! I am extremely embarrassed that I have been pursuing a path previously taken by that notorious dictator, and I promise that I will stop doing so immediately. I apologize to the American people, and the people of the world, for using such a tactic. I thank Minister Däubler-Gmelin for her observation which will surely help me to pursue a more honorable path. I wish her and Prime Minister Schroeder the best of luck in the upcoming election."
In Germany, Schroeder commended Däubler-Gmelin, saying she had made a significant contribution to world peace. "She will be promoted to foreign minister if I am re-elected," Schroeder said. "I am glad that we have been able to set President Bush on a path more conducive to the long-term welfare of America and the world."

posted by Bob at 4:38 PM

 
Among Senate Democrats facing tough re-election battles, Wellstone, D-Minn., is alone in coming out strongly against the resolution. His GOP challenger, Norm Coleman, is using the issue to try to paint Wellstone as an extremist. ``This is one of those examples where you say, 'Hey, this guy is way outside the mainstream,''' said Coleman. -- from AP. As I ranted on before, Coleman is the guy that Veep from the Deep Cheney hand-picked to run against Wellstone. Well, Norm, if we don't get more senators out of the mainstream soon, we'll be up excrement creek without a paddle. For my readers, if you'd like to keep Coleman out of the Senate, you can donate to Wellstone's campaign by going to the Council for a Livable World's website. And if you just can't wait for 2004 to help Bush lose an election, go here!
posted by Bob at 4:16 PM

 
And now for something completely different! Make your own Bush speech! Ah, the wonders of the Internet.
posted by Bob at 3:59 PM

 
Members of Congress! Be faithful to your oaths of office and to the traditions of your branch of government. Think of the country, not of your re-election. Assert your power. Stand up for the prerogatives of Congress. Defend the Constitution. Reject the arrogance--and the ignorance--of power. Show respect for your constituents--they require your honest judgment, not capitulation to the executive. Say no to empire. Affirm the Republic. Preserve the peace. Vote against war in Iraq. from The Nation
posted by Bob at 3:33 PM

 
"I have come here today to express my view that America should not go to war against Iraq unless and until other reasonable alternatives are exhausted," Kennedy said in a speech before the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies...."Resorting to war is not America's only or best course at this juncture," Kennedy said. "There are realistic alternatives between doing nothing and declaring unilateral or immediate war. War should be a last resort, not the first response."
-- from CNN. Apparently the Democrats have been Gored into speaking up a little--finally. I'm still disgusted that Kennedy and other Democrats seem to think that it is necessary to emphasize, and sometimes even to praise, the overblown and misguided "War on Terrorism" as a reason to question the Iraq Attaq. War on Iraq is wrong on its own merits, regardless of how many other stupid wars we are presently conducting. (Obligatory note: Bringing those responsible for 9/11 to justice is a fine idea. We blew our best chance at that last year by refusing to negotiate with the Taliban. Killing large numbers of Afghan civilians, and, yes, even Taliban soldiers was not a fine idea. Most of these now-dead people had nothing to do with 9/11 except for living in the same country as some of the people who planned it, a crime for which I and 280 million others are also guilty. An even worse idea was extending the "War on Terrorism" so that the Pakistanis, Filipinos, Russians, Chinese, Indonesians, etc. could use the it as cover for squelching domestic dissent, sometimes with US military help.)

posted by Bob at 1:52 PM

 
Who really knows what the election laws are, anyway? Check out Tom Toles cartoon today!
posted by Bob at 11:10 AM

 
A fellow blogger has an excellent, rather comprehensive rant against the Bushies. Check it out!
posted by Bob at 10:28 AM

Thursday, September 26, 2002
 
What were Rummy's first thoughts after the 9/11 attacks?
With the intelligence all pointing toward bin Laden, Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans. And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H." – meaning Saddam Hussein – "at same time. Not only UBL" – the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden.

Now, nearly one year later, there is still very little evidence Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. But if these notes are accurate, that didn't matter to Rumsfeld.

"Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not." -- from CBS News.


 
Here's another from MaxSpeak!
(That's Lynne Cheney's book he's "reading.")
posted by Bob at 3:58 PM

 
This cartoon says basically the same thing I said in "The Night Before Baghdad":
Thanks to MaxSpeak, who thanks TomPaine, etc.
posted by Bob at 3:47 PM

 
Periodic Reminder Time: The proposed war on Iraq is only the latest outrage. Most of the others are being ignored, and many are nearly forgotten. So here's a reminder: I'm sure I've forgotten some! Remind me and I'll add them to the list. Seems like enough outrages to keep Congress busy for a while. Why are new ones continually being added?
posted by Bob at 3:37 PM

 
Not many heros, but lots of heroin: The "War on Terrorism" has been successful as a "War on the War on Drugs."
posted by Bob at 3:12 PM

 
"The National Security Strategy of the United States -- 2002" is repellent, unnecessary and, above all, impractical. Americans are famous for pragmatism, and we need a good dose of common sense right now. This Will Not Work. from Molly Ivins.
posted by Bob at 1:54 PM

 
Another gem from Halcyon Days: Simply put, without the Iraq war, George W. Bush is nothing. He is an electorally and ethically compromised no term president who squandered unprecedented national unity and international support in failed pursuit of aims that were venal and misguided, and achieved the unique trifecta of bankrupting his government politically, fiscally, and morally at the same time. If we invade Iraq, we will spend the next six years dealing with the consequences of George W. Bush’s recklessness, instead of bringing him to book politically and legally for his transgressions. No wonder this notoriously lazy and uninvolved politician pursues the invasion with such single-minded fanaticism.
posted by Bob at 11:52 AM

 
What’s more important to Saddam Hussein? Getting the sanctions lifted so he can start making billions of dollars from his undeveloped oil reserves, or pissing around with some half-assed WMD program that gets him an Israeli nuke in his morning corn flakes? I think we know the answer. Saddam has been desperate to get the sanctions lifted so he can start making money. -- from Peter Lee on his Halcyon Days blog. Lee explains that Saddam was close to getting the sanctions lifted a year or two ago, which would have freed Iraq to do a lot of lucrative business with Russia, France, and others. The Bush war plan has largely scuttled that hope, and if it goes through will give ultimate control over Iraq's resources to Bush and Blair, not Saddam, Putin and Chirac. The stated reasons for war change daily; the real reason remains the same. Black gold, Texas tea--oil.
posted by Bob at 10:50 AM

 
Media Scan: The Condi Rice story (ranted on below) about "detainees" describing Iraqi support for al Qaeda is the main story this morning on CNN.com: a big headline and a large picture of Rice. FoxNews.com and ABCNews.com give the story secondary headline status. It isn't mentioned at all on the front pages of NYTimes.com or washingtonpost.com. Apparently she made the remarks fairly early last evening, so this appears to be editorial differences rather than a matter of timing. Just a reminder as to how much we are at the mercy of the corporate media in our attempts to find out what's happening. At least it is somewhat reassuring that they are not in complete lockstep--yet.
posted by Bob at 9:05 AM

 
"We know too that several of the detainees, in particular some high-ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development," Rice said. from CNN.com - Rice: Iraq sheltered, trained al Qaeda - Sep. 25, 2002

The Bushies apparently intend to use hearsay evidence from people who despise both the US and Saddam Hussein as a reason for going to war. Except for George W. Bush and Tony Blair, no one in the world will be happier to see the US go to war with Iraq than Osama bin Laden and the rest of al Qaeda. One of their main goals in the 9/11 attacks was to start a war between Islam and the west! So there is little reason to doubt here that someone is lying: either the "detainees" in what they said, or Condi about them saying it.
And W adds his own personal brand of insanity:
Bush Wednesday warned that al Qaeda could become "an extension of Saddam's madness."
"Both of them need to be dealt with," Bush told reporters at the White House. "You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror."

Wrong, George. We can easily distinguish between al Qaeda and Sadaam: al Qaeda attacked us, Saddam did not. It is you who lacks the "moral clarity" to understand that.


Wednesday, September 25, 2002
 
The chief executive of American Airlines said Wednesday that a war in Iraq would be a devastating blow to the already-distressed industry, warning that more bankruptcies were likely without additional financial assistance from the federal government.

Don Carty, speaking at a breakfast with Wall Street analysts and reporters, said the potential dropoff in travel from a war in Iraq would be like an ``economic anvil dropped on the industry.''

``The whole industry in Chapter 11 isn't something the country would tolerate,'' said Carty, who had joined other airline executives in Washington a day earlier to lobby Congress for help. -- from the
NY Times.
The article isn't particularly clear as to what Carty was suggesting with his comments.
I'd like to think that he is lobbying against war, but it seems more likely that he's lobbying for more handouts with war as an excuse.


 
Albertsons, the nation’s second-largest grocery corporation, imposed its “Preferred Customer” surveillance card on all 183 of its Northern California stores today. This region includes the heavily populated San Francisco Bay Area, meaning that millions of shoppers throughout San Francisco, San Jose, and Silicon Valley will now be forced to participate in the chain’s data collection scheme if they wish to “qualify” for affordable food.
-- Check out CASPIAN's web site for reasons why you should boycott Albertson's and other card-pushing grocery peddlers. Of course, I find it pretty easy to boycott Albertsons because they don't have any stores in Michigan, but I also don't shop at Krogers, Farmer Jack's or Hiller's because of their stupid cards.

 
A guide to US foreign policy sent to me by Lester Yesterday:


 
US press enlists for war on Iraq--Good article from the World Socialist Web Site showing the warmongering complicity of the so-called "liberal media" in the insane Bush war preparations.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
 
Don't let them vote yes! Call your senators and representatives to tell them to vote against Bush's war resolution. For my readers in Michigan, here are the numbers:

Sen. Levin: 202-224-6221 (Most important, since he's chair of the Armed Services Committee)

Sen. Stabenow: 202-224-4822

Rep. Rivers (locally): 485-3741


For readers in California:

Sen. Boxer: (202) 224-3553

Sen. Feinstein: (202) 224-3841


Anyone else out there reading by rants? Send me an e-mail! And then contact your senators!


 
Just Say No--Good article from Common Dreams warning about the dangers of war with Iraq.

Monday, September 23, 2002
 
Browsing the blogosphere, I came across Halcyon Days, which features cool rants like The Secret War Doctrine, which features cool quotes like these:


Saturday, September 21, 2002
 
Another ping pong ball on another mousetrap: Israel Tells U.S. It Will Retaliate if It Comes Under Attack by Iraq. For those who never saw it in science class, there was a movie which explained nuclear reactions by showing a bunch of mousetraps set with pingpong balls on their springs. If there were enough traps close enough together (critical mass), then a single ball tossed in from outside would spring a trap, and its released ball would spring another, and soon all of the traps would be sprung (chain reaction).
posted by Bob at 10:46 PM

 
The great conspiracy: I have recreated a Republican planning session from 1982 which may explain everything. Or not.
posted by Bob at 10:39 PM

Friday, September 20, 2002
 
Time to act, dear readers! The Bushies are trying to rush Congress into war. We need to tell Congress that not only do we not want them rushed, we don't want war at all! Contact your Senators and Representative today: You can get their phone numbers and either e-mail addresses or online message forms from these websites: http://www.senate.gov/senators/senator_by_state.cfm and http://clerk.house.gov/members/index.php. I've already used some of my rarely used daytime minutes on my Sprint phone to call Levin, Stabenow and Rivers; now it's your turn! (By the way, I'm taking the day off from ranting at work to rant at home! Too many interruptions at work.)
posted by Bob at 11:28 AM

 
Imperial recipe for disaster: The Bushies have released their National Security Strategy, which envisions a world of the US, by the US, and for the US. It solidifies the criminal pre-emptive strike policy, stating clearly that if the world doesn't act the way we think it should, we're going to kill some people to change that.

One interesting note is that the document actually has a definition of terrorism: "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents." Seems like a reasonable definition, and I'm glad to see it defined in writing so we can use it against Bush, since it seems to apply to much of what the rest of the document says the US is going to do.
Another point the document makes is that the US seems intent on being the world's policeman, and is willing to out-arms-race any potential challenger. Here's a key section:


It is time to reaffirm the essential role of American military strength. We must build and maintain our defenses beyond challenge. Our military's highest priority is to defend the United States. To do so effectively, our military must:


posted by Bob at 10:54 AM

 

From Steve Benson of the Arizona Republic.
posted by Bob at 10:12 AM

Thursday, September 19, 2002
 
Saddam Hussein insisted that Baghdad does not possess chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. The White House called the statement disappointing. -- from BBC News.
That about says it all, don't you think? Apparently Bush is jogging on his treadmill waiting to hear Saddam say "I've got a bunch of nasty weapons, I'm making more as fast as possible, and I intend to start using them to attack American babies in incubators tomorrow morning." Or maybe W's just waiting for his publicity folks to finish that video (remember the Osama videos?). And now, the US is on record as being opposed to weapons inspections:
The American secretary of state, Colin Powell, has said the United States will find ways to stop weapons inspectors going back to Iraq unless there is a new United Nations Security Council resolution on the issue.
posted by Bob at 11:13 PM

 
Apologies to readers whose financial welfare is riding on the stock market, but I myself am pulling for a further crash. Right now the Dow is teetering on the 8000 mark--if it makes it down to 7000 in the next few weeks it should start dominating the news again and maybe giving Congress the backbone to say "no time for war talk; let's fix this thing." If it makes it to 6000 by November there will be Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress (certainly not ideal, given the nature of Democrats these days, but certainly better than the alternative). Lower still and we might finally have serious talk about restructuring our economy away from growth, fossil fuels and mega-corporations. Maybe just dreaming, but it seems to me that a major economic crisis now might be the best hope for avoiding apocalypse later. It's how we got rid of the last Bush, it's probably the only way to get rid of this one.
posted by Bob at 3:44 PM

 
What's in a name? The Republican candidate for governor in Illinois is Attorney General Jim Ryan, who hopes to replace retiring Republican George Ryan and his 69% disapproval rating. Apparently Jim Ryan doesn't have much going for him, and one of the things he has going against him is that many voters think he is actually George Ryan running for re-election. (from Roll Call.) Why didn't this work more effectively against George W. Bush? I mean, he lost the election by only a half-million votes when a man with almost the exact same name was one of our worst presidents ever only a few years ago!
posted by Bob at 3:29 PM

 
Florida Seeks Federal Help in Its Voting -- NY Times. That's right, Jeb Bush has asked John Ashcroft to help Florida hold a fair election in November. Ah, this is too easy--make up your own rant for this one!
posted by Bob at 12:26 PM

 
"There's no doubt in my mind that we should allow the world worst leaders to hold America hostage, to threaten our peace, to threaten our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons." -- George W. Bush, South Bend, Ind., Sept. 5, 2002 -- from The Complete Bushisms. I think W was talking about himself.
posted by Bob at 11:32 AM

 
He strongly implied that the president had become all-consumed with events overseas. "As busy as we are, as important as the war on Iraq is," Mr. Daschle of South Dakota said, "I would hope that this administration could dedicate some of the time each week to economic security as well, to the declining numbers, to this atrocious record." -- from the NY Times.

I couldn't quickly find Daschle's voting record (it certainly wasn't on his own website), but I'm pretty sure he's voted for all of the increases in military spending and "homeland security" and for the huge and wasteful farm bill. Now he is talking about the $100 to $200 billion "war on Iraq" in the present tense! He provides as many facts proving Bush to be responsible for economic woes as Bush provides proving that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction (zero, that is). Of course he can't, because he has been a willing partner in much of what Bush has done. Senator Daschle, when you are a huge part of the problem it is pretty difficult to come off as part of the solution!


 
Planning ahead. Sooner or later, the American public may realize that we still have troops in Afghanistan, doing basically nothing except adding a lot of fear to weddings. Distracting our attention from this is one of the driving forces behind the push for war in Iraq. But sooner or later, we'll have troops disrupting Iraqi weddings for no good reason, and it will be necessary to come up with other weapons of mass distraction. W already laid some groundwork with his "axis of evil" nonsense in his state of the union address, and now the Bushies are getting started on Cuba. Of course, picking on Fidel is to be expected now, with Jeb running for re-election in a few weeks. Got to make sure all of those Cuban-Americans in Miami get out and vote Republican!
posted by Bob at 10:49 AM

 
If you want to keep the peace, you've got to have the authorization to use force,'' Bush told reporters in the Oval Office. -- from the NY Times. Why is this man still allowed out in public?
posted by Bob at 10:16 AM

 
The Bush speech at the UN was only multilateralist in an Orwellian sense. What he and the Right have been saying is, if the UN is to be relevant, it must do what we say. This is like asking someone politely for sex before raping her (or him). You can't honestly profess support for international law while also reserving the right to ignore it at will. Another source of U.S. pressure is the promise of oil concessions -- or the threat of being shut out of the game -- by a post-Saddam U.S. puppet Iraqi government. -- from MaxSpeak Weblog, yet another cool web log, pointed out by Tom Tomorrow.
posted by Bob at 9:52 AM

Wednesday, September 18, 2002
 
Marketing the war. The Bushies are launching an advertising campaign against Saddam. Like we never hear anything bad about him now.
posted by Bob at 4:20 PM

 
Maybe good news for Rabih Haddad!Federal Judge Nancy G. Edmunds said that the Ann Arbor Muslim cleric "should be freed in 10 days or have a new hearing open to the news media and the public with a different immigration judge." Regular rant readers will recognize that Haddad is the man who was arrested back on December 14 in his Ann Arbor home and has been held, without charges, ever since.
posted by Bob at 4:16 PM

 
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile," [Condoleeza Rice] said.

--from a May 17 news article

Well, a congressional committee investigating the attacks says there were plenty of warnings. Seems like this should be the main topic of the week, don't you think?


 
Saddam Hussein is slimy and deceptive, but then he's had lessons from the masters. He was supposedly a US ally in the 1980's, when we were supplying him with weapons and intelligence in Iraq's war with Iran, even after we knew about his use of chemical weapons on "his own people" (actually Kurds suspected of collaborating with the Iranians--doesn't justify it, but we're not very nice to supposed collaborators either: ask John Walker Lindh). One way we supported our "ally" was by secretly selling arms to his enemy, Iran, to support our illegal operations in Central America. Many Reagan administration officials were involved with this, including Elliott Abrams, who is now the National Security Council’s senior director for democracy(!), human rights(!!) and international operations; John Negroponte, who is now our Ambassador to the United Nations; and of course then Vice President George H. W. Bush (who pardoned both Abrams and Negroponte after they were convicted of Iran-Contra crimes). Then there was the green light to invade Kuwait given to Saddam by then Ambassador April Glaspie, relaying instructions from Secretary of State James Baker. Not to be outdone by the Republicans, Bill Clinton got into the act by using the UN weapons inspectors as spies (see this article and this Tom Tomorrow cartoon). So to hear all of this ridiculous bluster from the Bushies in response to Iraq's invitation to allow inspectors to return sets a new record in hypocrisy for an administration that has already set the bar very very very very high.
posted by Bob at 2:56 PM

 
Off the frigging deep end! See this AP article. I was going to pick a quote or two from this article, but every part of it is disgusting. Rumsfeld, Bush, Gephardt, Daschle: All lying scoundrels making the whole United States look like a Florida election.
posted by Bob at 10:50 AM

 
Oh Johnny, we thought you were different!"The intent would be to give the president of the United States approval to do what's necessary," said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. Iraq's decision to allow the return of inspectors shouldn't change U.S. strategy, said McCain, who supports military action against Iraq. "In their letter, they said they have no weapons of mass destruction. Everybody knows that's not true. So that questions the credibility of the entire commitment," said McCain.
CNN.com - Bush, lawmakers discuss action against Iraq - September 18, 2002
What is the matter with Congress? Why are they letting Bush pull them around on a leash? Here's a quote for you:
"We must now take effective steps to disarm Saddam Hussein's regime," Gephardt said. "We must start by putting the burden of proof on his government to disclose its weapons stockpiles and development programs, not on U.N. inspectors to seek them out as Saddam Hussein continues to hide them." What does Gephardt expect? A live TV show where Saddam tours Iraq saying "here they aren't, and there they aren't?" Not allowing weapons inspectors to inspect was a main arguing point for war a week ago, but now apparently inspectors, and the whole UN, are irrelevant to Congress because the Bushies say so. Talk about your wheedling and crawfishing!

posted by Bob at 10:29 AM

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
 
Meat Recalled Over E. Coli Concern A Pennsylvania beef-packing company owned by Smithfield Foods recalled 203,600 pounds of ground beef after some of its meat tested positive for E. coli bacteria.
Moyer Packing, based in Souderton, Pa., was told by the Department of Agriculture on Sept. 10 that a sample was contaminated. Late last week, Moyer determined that the beef was produced Aug. 31 and the company recalled beef made on that day.

I don't know about you, but back when I used to buy meat I tended to eat it within a week. Here it is 18 days after August 31 and the infected meat is being recalled. I'd say that the usefulness of DOA inspections is pretty much DOA.
posted by Bob at 3:50 PM

 
Bush, addressing a Nashville, Tenn., fund raiser for Senate candidate Lamar Alexander, warned anew of "a barbaric regime teaming up with a terrorist network, providing weapons of mass destruction to hold the United States and our allies and our friends blackmail." -- from the NY Times
Amazing that someone so dim-witted can put so many lies, exaggerations and mixed metaphors ("hold...blackmail") into one so-called sentence. And tell me, George, what distinguishes our allies from our friends? And, just to make the whole thing completely infuriating, by babbling incoherently about Iraq W will be able to charge much of his Nashville trip to the government rather than the GOP.
posted by Bob at 2:51 PM

 
Good article from Toronto.
posted by Bob at 1:01 PM

 
Woohoo! A Perritt that says something original! Hank Perritt is a Democrat running for Congress in Illinois, and he says that Democrats should be speaking out against war.
posted by Bob at 12:31 PM

 
The White House official said that if and when inspectors return, it will be at the demand of the United States and United Nations -- not at Iraq's invitation. -- from the Washington Post
You've got to be embarrassed! If that isn't the most childish, bullying...aaargh!
posted by Bob at 12:00 PM

 
SUVocating: A review of "High and Mighty," an SUV-bashing book that I'm just going to have to read! Maybe even buy!
posted by Bob at 11:00 AM

 
PS to last post: The Bushies didn't say those $300 and $500 checks were "nothing" when their tax giveaway passed!
posted by Bob at 10:16 AM

 
President Bush returned today to collecting big checks for Republican candidates and warning Congress to hold the line on government spending, even as his chief economic policy adviser, Lawrence B. Lindsey, said the cost of a war with Iraq could be as high as $100 billion to $200 billion...As a one-time war cost over one year, the estimated expenditure, Mr. Lindsey said, was "nothing." -- from the NY Times

That's $350 to $700 for every man, woman and child in the US! If that's "nothing" then it is time for Mr. Bush to get a new economic policy adviser, and for Mr. Lindsey and the rest of us to get a new president.

posted by Bob at 10:13 AM

 
President Bush on Tuesday decried the ``large and disturbing'' gaps in children's knowledge of history... -- from the NY Times
Is that the pot calling the kettle black, or what? Bush probably thinks World War I came after World War II. But this is scary, too. The Bushies' version of history is sure to be much farther from the truth than what children are (or aren't) learning now.
posted by Bob at 10:04 AM

 
Once again, Krug's the Man! Paul Krugman exposes further misdeeds by Secretary of the Army Thomas White while he was an Enron crook. Perhaps the administration wouldn't behave so criminally if it wasn't so full of criminals.
posted by Bob at 9:52 AM

 

posted by Bob at 8:55 AM

 
Worst war money can buy. Read the WSWS article about how our government is bribing and threatening key UN members to get support for the Iraq attaq, even after Iraq's agreement to allow the return of weapons inspectors.
posted by Bob at 8:48 AM

 
Whining for war. Apparently the Bushies are not excited about taking "yes" for an answer.


"This is a tactical step by Iraq in hopes of avoiding strong U.N. Security Council action," said Scott McClellan, the deputy White House spokesman. "As such, it is a tactic that will fail." He added: "It is time for the Security Council to act." A senior State Department official said Iraq's letter was "not a promise to disarm, not a promise to allow unfettered inspections, not a promise to disclose the state of its weapons program." --from the NY Times


The Bushies are obviously willing to work tirelessly to get war, no matter what. It is so completely outrageous and wrong that I am having trouble coming up with a nasty enough rant for them! While I have a multitude of complaints about the Reagan and Clinton presidencies, I think both of those presidents would have been wise enough at this point to declare victory and move on. But George W. Bush is intent on the seemingly impossible: making those two clowns, and even his own father, seem like good presidents by comparison.


Monday, September 16, 2002
 
So Iraq is going to allow UN weapons inspectors to return unconditionally! Will the Bushies take "yes" for an answer? Let's hope so. But be on the lookout for reports of a US plane being shot down, or maybe some kidnapping or murder of Americans in Iraq in the next week or two as a pretext for going ahead with the war. Do I trust our government? Not even a little.
posted by Bob at 11:15 PM

 
How do we know Iraq has developed chemical and biological weapons? We've got copies of the receipts! Iraq got much of its supply from US and British suppliers during the Reagan and Bush I eras. The article also mentions salmonella and e. coli, but of course those are available at the meat counter of any American supermarket. Of course, most of this stuff was destroyed in the Gulf War or by the UN inspectors, but it certainly brings into question who should be punished for it. I'm saying that the poor, hungry, sick people of Iraq are not the best choice.
posted by Bob at 4:52 PM

 
Arresting Developments: Probably a response to the Congressional critics of the Iraq attaq who think the "War on Terrorism" should have first priority, there have been a string of reports of arrests of people supposedly affiliated with al Qaeda. The FBI has arrested six Yemeni-Americans in western New York State. Singapore arrested 21 in August, but for some reason
announced it today. And Pakistan has arrested a supposedly top al Qaeda muckety-muck. Frankly, I believe very little of it. Arrests are being made for political purposes around the world, all in the name of the frigging "War on Terrorism." Has a better tool for the suppression of liberty and democracy ever been invented?
posted by Bob at 11:50 AM

 
Only two prisoners who have been brought to Guantánamo have left. One is Mr. Hamdi, who was discovered to have been born in the United States; he is now in the Navy brig in Norfolk, Va. The other was an Afghan prisoner who received a diagnosis of schizophrenia and returned to Afghanistan, where he is reportedly in a state mental hospital. -- from the NY Times

There are 598 "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay. Many have been there since January. The military isn't even sure who they are, and hasn't given any of them a hearing or charged them with crimes. And the only way out, at least so far, is to go to a Navy brig or a mental hospital in Afghanistan. I was always appalled and saddened when reading Solzhenitsyn and other stories of people locked away for months or years with little or no hope of freedom. While some of these "detainees" may have been bad dudes intent on killing and destroying, many were likely just Taliban foot soldiers, an "honor" you could get just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many Taliban soldiers were basically draftees, with death as their only alternative to enlistment. In any case, they were simply soldiers fighting in what was basically a civil war. Well, the civil war is over and these people are under the control of a country that supposedly believes in freedom. Let's let them go and go back to living up to our ideals.
posted by Bob at 10:05 AM

 
School days...
posted by Bob at 9:06 AM

 
I just updated my poem, "The Night Before Baghdad," below. Still a few awkward rhymes and rhythms, but I fixed a few and added two new stanzas at the end.
posted by Bob at 8:37 AM

Sunday, September 15, 2002
 
Another 5-4 vote!
posted by Bob at 12:36 PM

 
Still doing some test fixes because of Netscape problems...
posted by Bob at 9:52 AM
Saturday, September 14, 2002
 
The Night Before Baghdad, by Bob Goodsell


'Twas the night before Baghdad, and through the White House

Not a Bushie was thinking, not even his spouse

The war maps were hung by the table with care

In hopes that Dick Cheney soon would be there.


The prez he was nestled all snug in his bed

While visions of 2004 danced in his head

With Condi on keyboard and Colin on bass

Rummy on vocals sang "Bush won't lose face!"


When out in the Rose Garden came such a noise

It had to be Rummy's destructive war toys

But what to our wondering noses we smelled

But a six-foot-six driver on one giant camel.


"Tell me," said Condi, "is that a llama?"

"No, token black woman! That is Osama!"

He hopped off his camel and gathered his rifle

Clearly this was someone with whom we won't trifle.


He walked to the door and went in front of us

He asked to be taken to the Oval Office

The Senate had some of its members in there

And when he arrived he gave them a scare.


"Out Daschle! Out Boxer! Out Smiling Joe Lieberman!

Out Lott! Out Hatch! Out Levin! Out Clinton!

You're self-serving pawns of the corporate swine

Selling your souls to the Bush-Cheney line.


"I wanted a war 'twixt Islam and West

You've given me everything! Thanks, you're the best!

Thanks Condi, thanks Rummy, and thanks Colin, too!

And when he wakes up, please thank W!"


He went to the warroom and smiled at the plans

"The hated Saddam is soon a dead man!

The world in turmoil will be fertile ground

For radical Islam to be spread around!"


And flipping a finger toward one and all

He laughed so hard that it shook down the wall

It made so much noise that the prez left his sack

And came down to ask "Is it time to attack?"


And back to the garden Osama did go

No chicken hawk stopped him as he walked out the do'

Not Rummy, not Condi, not one of the staff

Stopped Osama bin Laden or his terrible laugh.


Then George Bush the Senior entered the room

By reading his lips we all sensed the gloom

"You've tried your best, George, I'll give you that, son

But make no mistake: the terrorists have won."



 
Chemical Weapon Threat? Absolutely! The Army is about to begin incinerating huge stockpiles of mustard and nerve gas in Anniston, Alabama. And get this:

The Army says it is not its duty to protect residents in an accidental release. "I firmly believe that the incinerator should not be burdened with the safety of the community, when we don't present a realistic threat to the community," Michael B. Abrams, a spokesman for the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, said.

So the Army is willing to spend thousands of lives and billions of dollars to go after Saddam Hussein because he might have some chemical weapons, even though they are not sure he has them and even though he has no good means of using them against us (unless we invade). Meanwhile, there is a huge stockpile of chemical weapons down in Dixie, and the Army says it is not responsible for protecting Alabama residents in case of an accident. Incredible. Of course, with Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense and Enron alum Thomas White as Secretary of the Army, we couldn't expect anything more.



 
Comments on my new Blogger rants page are welcome! I can go back to the old way if anyone cares much.
posted by Bob at 11:27 AM

 
Welcome to my new rants page! I've been reading Tom Tomorrow's rants and others produced using Blogger, so I decided to give it a try. I have been using Front Page until now, but I get so tired of the way it keeps wanting to make my inserted pictures local, which means they won't work. We'll see if Blogger is less frustrating.
posted by Bob at 11:13 AM

 
The trap is set: We ask, "Why Iraq?" Certainly if it is terrorism we are concerned about, then Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have clearly been far more involved in supporting terrorists, especially al Qaeda, than Iraq has. If it is weapons of mass destruction, Iraq might have a few, along with some primitive delivery systems, but Russia, China, Israel, Pakistan, India, France, England and maybe some others have fully developed nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Invaded other countries? Certainly Iraq is not alone in this--the US invaded Afghanistan just last year. Killed, abused, tortured, imprisoned its own citizens? Big club there. We mention all of this hoping to point out the simple-mindedness and incoherence of Bush's push for war. Why this particular dictator at this particular time? Our hope is that others will see that it doesn't make sense and that war can be averted. But now I'm afraid that the Bushies are just setting a trap. A year or so after a muddled, bloody and inconclusive attack on Iraq, W will be making the case for attacking Iran, or Syria, or Saudi Arabia, and he will have all of these quotes from us liberals to support his case. The Bushies are using 1984 as their guidebook for world domination, and an endless series of wars is very much part of the plan. While our arguments about the Saudis, Pakistanis and others are valid, we must be clear that we present them only to debunk the Iraq war plan, not as implied support for any future wars.

posted by Bob at 10:57 AM

September 13, 2002

The trap is set: We ask, "Why Iraq?" Certainly if it is terrorism we are concerned about, then Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have clearly been far more involved in supporting terrorists, especially al Qaeda, than Iraq has. If it is weapons of mass destruction, Iraq might have a few, along with some primitive delivery systems, but Russia, China, Israel, Pakistan, India, France, England and maybe some others have fully developed nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Invaded other countries? Certainly Iraq is not alone in this--the US invaded Afghanistan just last year. Killed, abused, tortured, imprisoned its own citizens? Big club there. We mention all of this hoping to point out the simple-mindedness and incoherence of Bush's push for war. Why this particular dictator at this particular time? Our hope is that others will see that it doesn't make sense and that war can be averted. But now I'm afraid that the Bushies are just setting a trap. A year or so after a muddled, bloody and inconclusive attack on Iraq, W will be making the case for attacking Iran, or Syria, or Saudi Arabia, and he will have all of these quotes from us liberals to support his case. The Bushies are using 1984 as their guidebook for world domination, and an endless series of wars is very much part of the plan. While our arguments about the Saudis, Pakistanis and others are valid, we must be clear that we present them only to debunk the Iraq war plan, not as implied support for any future wars.

***

Common Ground: see Ted Rall's cartoon for today!

***

It's Friday the 13th! Are you superstitious? Well, George W. Bush is President, Dick Cheney is Vice President, John Ashcroft is Attorney General, and Donald Rumsfeld is Secretary of Defense. If that isn't bad luck, I don't know what is. It's like the whole world broke a mirror while walking under a ladder to avoid stepping on a black cat.

***

They've defied UN resolutions for years. They have weapons of mass destruction. They are a threat to their neighbors. We're invading Israel! (And the US is next.)


September 11, 2002

Congratulations to Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris! Twenty-two months after the 2000 election debacle and Florida is still clueless as to how to do elections. And now it looks as though Katherine is on her way to Congress, where she can teach Tom DeLay to chicken dance.

***

Free trade and free markets have proved their ability to lift whole societies out of poverty — so the United States is working with the entire global trading community to build a world that trades in freedom and therefore grows in prosperity. -- George W. Bush (supposedly) in today's NY Times.

Name one, W. Go to Buenos Aires or Rio and try saying that! Or Flint, Michigan!


September 10, 2002

No double standard! Noelle Bush was busted again. This time it's cocaine. The Supreme Court recently upheld part of a 1998 drug law which causes public-housing tenants to be evicted when any family member is caught selling or possessing illegal drugs. Well, Noelle's father lives in public housing, specifically the Florida governor's mansion. So does her uncle, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. Out on the streets, boys!

***

Orange you scared? The Bushies are raising the terror alert level from lemon yellow to orange orange.

***

Yeah, right, Ari, tell us another one:

It is not the role of the United States to pick leaders around the world. The United States does not impose its will on other nations. The United States does not designate one individual to be the leader of another country. -- Presidential Spokesliar Ari Fleischer, from the NY Times

***

Water Fight: While downstream communities were banning lawn watering and car washing, Golden, Colorado kept watering and washing until a court ordered it to get with the program. Meanwhile, even though some Michigan communities are already on water rationing, I still see Pfizer and several apartment complexes in Ann Arbor watering lawns, sidewalks and streets in a glorious demonstration of wealthy arrogance. I'm afraid that most Americans seem to agree with Homer Simpson's statement from Sunday night: "If we conserve, then the environmentalists win!" They also seem to agree with Homer's implication that nothing could be worse than that. Unfortunately, they will soon find out otherwise.

***

I doubt if Ted Rall is getting any flack over this one. It's even more warped and cynical than my cartoon!

***

From Paul Krugman's op-ed piece in today's NY Times:

There will never be a day when we can declare terrorism stamped out for good. It will be more like fighting crime, where success is always relative and victory is never final, than like fighting a war. And the metaphor we use to describe our struggle matters: some things that are justifiable in a temporary time of war are not justifiable during a permanent fight against crime, even if the criminals are murderous fanatics...

The point is that our new, threatened condition isn't temporary. We're in this for the long haul, so any measures we take to fight terrorism had better be measures that we are prepared to live with indefinitely. The real challenge now is not to stamp out terrorism; that's an unattainable goal. The challenge is to find a way to cope with the threat of terrorism without losing the freedom and prosperity that make America the great nation it is.

***

We have set up a world where great men do not get nominated for the presidency--only ruthless, power-mad pols with hollow centers, surrounded by political mercenaries. We have set up a world where the candidate with the more effective liars and more cutthroat scoundrels wins. -- Jake Tapper, from the conclusion to his book Down & Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency

Actually, the book is not a compelling read. It documents a lot of the sleaze on both sides of the Florida fiasco, but it is rather hard to follow. But if you've read Stupid White Men and are looking for a more thorough, even-handed account which thoroughly impeaches both sides, Down & Dirty might interest you.


September 9, 2002

I hate this war that's coming in Iraq. I don't think we'll be proud of it. Oppose this war because it will create a millennium of hatred and the suicidal terrorism that comes with it. You talk about Bush trying to avenge his father. What about the tens of millions of Arab sons who will want to finish a fight we start next spring in Baghdad? -- from Chris Matthews, of all people!

***

Spin City:

London Group Says Iraq Lacks Nuclear Material for Bomb (headline from NY Times website)

Report Warns of Iraqi Nukes (headline from Washington Post website)

Interestingly, both headlines refer to the same report. Even more interesting is that the Times headline said something like "Iraq could have nuclear weapons within months" just a few hours ago. I swear I am not making this up--the Times changed its headline to the more dovish one sometime this afternoon. Now, I like the change, but I'll bet some of the thousands of warmongering reporters, senators, web sites, and TV/radio pundits will be all over the Times for this fairly obvious change of spin. And those people who get most of their news from TV will only get the equivalent of a headline, and it will probably be closer to the Post's than the Times' new one. Incidentally, the report basically says both things: Iraq doesn't have nuclear material, but they probably could make a bomb in a period of months if they obtained some, probably on the black market from Russia or the Ukraine.

***

The World Socialist Web Site has a great rant today about the Iraq attaq and the other elements of Bushian imperialism.

***

It's not going to end with a definitive judgment on whether Osama bin Laden is dead or alive, but it will end when the terrorists realize they don't have the resources or the will to attack. -- George H.W. Bush (aka Senior, 41, Poppy, wimp, etc.)

Unfortunately, as with all of the Bushies past and present, Poppy focuses on denying terrorists the resources and the will, while completely ignoring the motive. The reasoning is, I guess, is that if we remove their motive then the terrorists will have won. Maybe so. But we will have won, too.

***

Congresswoman Lynn Rivers responded to one of my many anti-war e-mails by sending me a copy of a letter. She says "My colleagues and I" sent this letter to President Bush, but unfortunately she doesn't identify how many colleagues were involved. I hope it was more than Rivers, Cynthia McKinney, Barbara Lee and Dennis Kucinich, but I'm willing to bet that Tom DeLay didn't sign it. Below is the text of the letter--I have highlighted the parts that I liked, mostly so this wouldn't be just a lame copy rant:

Dear Mr. President:

The volume of those voices demanding a massive ground invasion of Iraq has
been on the increase of late. These voices demand that the U.S. government
move American troops from Afghanistan to Iraq, to overthrow Saddam Hussein
and install a new government there. It would be unwise and dangerous in
the extreme, however, to heed these calls to widen American military
action, and we urge you to stay the course in responding to those who
attacked the United States on September 11.

Mr. President, there is no evidence that Iraq had any part in the
September 11 attacks against the United States
. Our allies, including
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, have agreed that Iraq had no role
in the attack. According to the joint Congressional resolution authorizing
the use of force, passed on September 14, "The president is authorized to
use
all necessary and appropriate force against those nations,
organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or
aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001
, or
harbored such organizations or persons..." An attack on Iraq, or any other
nation not involved in the 9/11 attacks, would therefore exceed the
authority given by Congress
in the joint resolution of September 14.

We are also concerned that far from punishing terrorists who threaten the
United States, an invasion of Iraq would undermine our security and open
the door to an exponential increase in threats to our survival. An attack
on Iraq could destroy the international coalition against terrorism, a
carefully assembled construct that has allowed us to successfully traverse
the geographic and political minefields of diverse nations with often
conflicting interests, but united now in common cause. Most of our
European allies - critical in maintaining this coalition - have explicitly
stated their opposition to any attack on Iraq. German Foreign Minister
Joschka Fischer warned recently that Europe was "completely united" in
opposition to any attack on Iraq.

Likewise, U.S. relations with the Gulf states like Saudi Arabia could
collapse should the United States initiate an attack on Iraq. Not only
would our Saudi allies deny us the use of their territory to launch the
attack, but a certain backlash from all Gulf and Arab states could well
produce even an oil embargo against the U.S. Egypt, a key ally in our
fight against terrorism, has also warned against any attack on Iraq.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said recently of the coalition that,
"If we want to keep consensus...we should not resort, after Afghanistan,
to military means."

Osama bin Laden has consistently made his goals known to his followers and
the rest of the world: he seeks to inflame the Muslim world into an
all-out holy war against the United States. Invading Iraq, with the
massive loss of life on both sides, would only forward bin Laden's twisted
and hateful plan. It would be both tragic and ironic if U.S. policy
actually helped terrorists advance their ultimate goal of a world war
between Islam and the West.

Mr. President, we urge you to stay the course. We urge you to continue to
act within the authority granted you in the joint Congressional resolution
of September 14, and limit the use of force to the apprehension of those
who "planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that
occurred on September 11, 2001."

 


September 8, 2002

The Bushies are all reading from the same script now. It doesn't make their "evidence" against Iraq true, it doesn't make an attack easy or safe, and most of all, it doesn't make it right. Bush, Cheney and the rest of them are scum, willing to kill thousands to tighten their stranglehold on power in the world.

***

If we conserve, then the environmentalists win! -- Homer Simpson in tonight's episode. Finally, someone has clearly and succinctly stated the Bush energy policy.

September 7, 2002

The Blair-Bush Project: A real scary movie.


September 6, 2002

Guess what! I'm not the only fan of the Veep from the Deep, Useless Dick Cheney! Check this guy out!

***

I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here. -- George W. Bush, Waco, Texas, Aug. 13.

Fortunately, after a wimpy supposedly patriotic hiatus from highlighting the nonsense emanating from our language-impaired president, Slate's Bushisms page is being updated again! And if you are feeling too lazy to click the link and read them all, consider this gem:

"If you don't have any ambitions, the minimum-wage job isn't going to get you to where you want to get, for example. In other words, what is your ambitions? And oh, by the way, if that is your ambition, here's what it's going to take to achieve it." -- Speech to students in Little Rock, Ark., Aug. 29, 2002


September 5, 2002

Oh joy, more cars.

***

Karzai update: Karzai was in Kandahar for his brother's wedding. Attending an Afghan wedding? The man clearly has a death wish.

***

The Bush is really starting to hit the fan: An assassination attempt on Karzai in Kandahar and a major bomb explosion in Kabul, and a continued escalation in the violence in Israel, the west bank, and Gaza. I don't know what the latest Vegas line is on Karzai's life expectancy, but I'm afraid he won't live to see the next Detroit Lions victory or Oakland A's loss.

***

Whose weapons of mass destruction should we really be worried about? Ours! There was a terror alert today at a facility in Utah which houses 1300 tons of VX and 6100 tons of mustard gas, among other delights. Apparently, an unauthorized person was spotted in the perimeter of the facility, and he hasn't been caught yet. At least these WMD's aren't under the control of a madman who ignores UN resolutions and defies world opinion to pursue his own ... wait ... but ... ohmygod!

***

Back from vacation, time to go campaigning!

By discussing the economy, Bush was able to split the cost of his fund-raising between taxpayers and the GOP. -- from the NY Times.

That's right--by babbling a bit of nonsense about more tax cuts for the rich, W can pass part of the cost for his partisan fundraising efforts on to those of us who still have to pay taxes. And if these Republicans he is campaigning for get elected, they will probably pass a bill allowing W to spend three months a year on vacation and nine months a year fundraising, all at government expense. It could be worse, though. He could be trying to govern.

I am confused, however. What is it about that smirking twit that makes Republicans pull out their checkbooks? I understand that he does everything that they want and that they get far greater returns on campaign contributions than they do on any other investment, but they knew that before they went to the fundraiser. I would think that hearing him in person would only plant doubts in their closed little minds. I guess the main thing is that he sees them so he knows who the bosses are and whom he owes favors. They let him speak just to humor him (and to let him charge part of the trip to the government).

***

And now for a bit of (original) warped sarcasm:

Field in Pennsylvania was Real Target

Presidential Press Secretary Ari Fleischer revealed today that the CIA now believes that the field in western Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 crashed on September 11 was the true target of the terrorists. "Al Qaeda sees open fields as despised symbols of freedom," Fleischer said. "This gives a true picture of the type of evil that we are up against." The CIA's information came from an un-named detainee at the Camp Delta prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "The detainee told us that the hijacker-pilots of the other three planes were basically incompetent," Fleischer continued. "They couldn't be in the simulator for more than ten minutes without crashing into some building or other. The guy on flight 93 was the best by far. All four planes were supposed to crash within a half-mile of each other in Pennsylvania, forming a unique crop circle." Fleischer added that this same detainee was the one who told agents about Jose Padilla and the dirty bomb, as well as Iraq's nuclear program and ties to al Qaeda. "Therefore, we have no reason to question his credibility," according to Fleischer.

***

Belligerent and divisive voices now seem to be dominant in Washington, but they do not yet reflect final decisions of the president, Congress or the courts. It is crucial that the historical and well-founded American commitments prevail: to peace, justice, human rights, the environment and international cooperation. -- Jimmy Carter

***

And now, a special treat! A guest rant from the soon-to-be-famous Lester Yesterday:

Actually the Gulf War and the WTC WoT  (war on terror) have some parallels -- the shadow government needs a pretext for a little wag-the-dog action, gets Ann or Suzy to whisper "the stargate is open" to the obliging evil-doers, and the brutality commences.  Could it have been a stroke of genius, to kill the guy who was tracking down Al Qaeda cells for the FBI, who might have spoken out about the mysterious dropping of our guard, and using the very attack he might have prevented to kill him?  I wonder, did he too hear the bulbs clicking?

The steady footfall of fascism from Ashcroft might be called a laugh track for this administration, or a warning track.  Bald faced, just dissolve rights like habeas corpus and public trials.  Then protest that we in the USA are hamstrung by these silly little rules we pretend to care about.  Meanwhile, organize and execute a James Baker style full-court press on the media -- buy them, threaten them, blame them, starve them of information, and saturate them with misinformation.  Keep teams of shock-jocks working on ideas for the next big brutality -- will it be to arrest some Senators for leaking real info?  How dare they!  How can they even try to protest if they didn't actually do it? 

Somebody said people are basically compassionate, and I think that's basically correct.  But there is a strong streak of meanness in us humans, and occasionally it gets the better of us, leading to death camps.  Guantanamo harkens (no reference intended) back to the Gulag, to Treblinka.  The Florida voting shenanigans harkens back to Kristalnacht -- a premeditated use of chaos, intimidation, and disinformation to liquefy a situation, then grab control.  If I trusted Bush and his supporters to have any respect for our country, I wouldn't be thinking these things, but I think the Bush administration is only one visible piece of a powerful group of conspirators, historically involved in oil, armaments, illegal drugs, and massive swindles like the Savings & Loan, like the Texas Rangers stadium, like the bilking of California for electric power and natural gas, and like Enron and WorldCom.  I suspect such a group had something to do with Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray, killing Carnahan, killing the Enron exec, killing JFK Jr, basically killing anyone who might do something or say something that might impede or expose them.  Just listen to the relish with which this administration describes killing "evil-doers" -- do you imagine Bush's supporters have any compunctions about political murders?

Of course I don't know.  I just keep putting 2 and 2 together -- I smell a rat.  I hope I'm just paranoid.

Thanks, Lester! You may be paranoid, but you're not just paranoid!


September 4, 2002

Tom Tomorrow links to this article which features this interesting example of doublethink on the part of the Bushies:

It is interesting that the oligarchy presents Iraq as (a) a terrible threat to the world with unlimited capacity for raining down death and (b) a nation with a demoralized and scattered army that we can take over in a matter of weeks using our fine new weapons systems and maybe a soldier or two.

***

President Bush ... told wary U.S. allies their "credibility is at stake" as they decide whether to back his plans. -- from the Washington Post.

Mr. Bush's credibility would also be at stake--if he had any. Worthless Bush and Useless Dick continue to dream up new lies and other nonsense in their apparently never-ending pursuit of war. Read the rest of the Post article for some vintage examples of Bush-speak.


September 3, 2002

Ever get the feeling that maybe your life is wasted, that you aren't doing anything worthwhile, that there might be some better way to use your time? Well, it could be worse. Check out what this idiot has been doing for the last three months. I have a lot of respect for people who break records in well-known, relatively universal pursuits against serious, determined competition. Achieving the record should involve skill, determination, perseverance, and performing at a very high level throughout. Michael Johnson's record in the 200 meter run and Lance Armstrong's amazing victories at the Tour de France are good examples. Cal Ripken's consecutive-game streak fails my test mostly because he did not perform at a high level throughout; he played through slumps that would have benched any other player. (It was also in baseball, which is to real sport as what George W. Bush does is to real governing.) The balloon guy's around-the-world thing is shaky, too, because it was rather self-defined, extremely expensive, and while it depended a lot on his skill and perseverance, it depended even more on which way the wind was blowing. But riding a roller coaster ten hours a day for 104 consecutive days (to break your own dumb record!) is just plain insane. No skill or performing at a high level--just dumb determination and some poor rich parent to pay the VISA bill (priceless).

***

Homeland Insanity: Continuing to milk 9/11 for all it's worth and then some, the Bushies and the Senate are once again considering establishing a "Department of Homeland Security." The Senate, led by poser-in-chief Joe Lieberman, is using the issue to show that they are "tough on terrorism" while continuing to ignore the killers of many times as many Americans: guns, cars, pollution, and lack of access to health care. (And if W gets his way, you can add war to that list.) The Bushies, meanwhile, having hijacked the DHS issue from Lieberman a few months ago, are using it as an attempt to break unions and the civil service system. The good of the public is not even remotely an issue in this debate.


August 31, 2002

ConocoPhillips just joined ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and BP-Arco-Amoco in the ever more monopolistic oil business. The FTC just approved the Conoco-Phillips merger yesterday. I vaguely recall learning something about anti-trust laws in the past--you know, Teddy Roosevelt, breakup of AT&T, etc. But the government has completely abandoned its responsibility to protect us from monopolies for about 20 years now. While it could be argued that these mega-corps have not used their monopoly power to raise prices out of reach, I believe that the greatest danger in having so few companies involved in most of our most important industries is the immense amount of political clout that they have. Unfortunately, what the CEO and board of ConocoPhillips think about conservation and alternative energy sources means a lot more to our elected and appointed scumbags in Washington that what any of us thinks. And the monopolization of the media industry is even more scary, since those swine are engaged in serious mind control.


August 29, 2002

While Mr. Bush has not expressed an opinion on that issue, a White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, told reporters today in Crawford that "our goal is disarmament," and added, "we know that we can't verify disarmament." -- from the NY Times

How very convenient it is to have an unverifiable goal! Why bother inspecting at all? Even regime change isn't enough now. How can we be sure that the next Saddam won't be making nasty weapons? We won't! So we'll have to bomb him, too! At one of my old jobs, we had some management guru teach us about "SMART" goals, where "SMART" was an acronym. I don't remember all five letters, but I'm pretty sure "M" stood for "Measurable" and "A" stood for "Achievable." The guru's point was that if you can't tell when you've gotten there, it wasn't a goal at all. But I think the Bushies have a different guru who promotes "STUPID" goals.


August 28, 2002

What your government thinks of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights:

"The capture and detention of enemy combatants during wartime falls within the president's core constitutional powers as commander-in-chief, which, in the present conflict, are exercised with the specific support of Congress," the motion said, adding that court precedents "firmly" establish that citizenship of detainees is not relevant to whether they can be detained.

"Nor is it significant that an enemy combatant is captured within United States territory in civilian dress rather than in uniform or on a foreign battlefield," the motion said. "In a time of war, an enemy combatant is subject to capture and detention wherever found."

Prosecutors also argued that courts should defer to the president's judgment on designating enemy combatants because "such determinations involve highly sensitive intelligence information and judgment calls about the credibility of foreign intelligence sources."

from CNN. Federal prosecutors are arguing that during wartime (something which the president defines), any person, citizen or not, in uniform or not, can be arrested anywhere, anytime on the judgment of the president based on secret evidence, without the right to a lawyer or due process. Welcome to the Soviet Union. I would strongly oppose this even if we had a competent president.

***

Maureen Dowd recognizes that yesterday was Hypocrisy Day as well. Of course, when you're a Bushie, every day is Hypocrisy Day.

***

Hurray for Mike Thompson! The Free Press cartoonist sticks it to Pain-in-the-Ashcroft: http://www.freep.com/voices/cartoons/082802_mt_450.htm

***

The more television people watched, the fewer facts they knew; and the less people knew in terms of basic facts, the more likely they were to back the Bush administration. -- from Martin Lee and Norman Solomon, quoted in How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf, by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton. The article, actually a chapter from their book Toxic Sludge is Good for You, describes how the first Bush administration and the Kuwaiti government-in-exile used a massive and deceitful PR campaign to sell the Gulf War to the American public. As Harry Truman said, "the only new thing in the world is the history you don't know." The current Bush administration is relying on the generally abysmal knowledge of history by Americans as Bush II attempts to peddle Gulf War II to them. (Only if we are lucky will it actually be known as "Gulf War II." "World War III" is more likely.)

Later in the article, Rampton and Stauber describe a CBC documentary made after Gulf War I which included an interview with a PR exec who had conducted opinion polls and focus groups to find the messages which would have the most impact on the American public. Their conclusion?

The theme that struck the deepest emotional chord, they discovered, was "the fact that Saddam Hussein was a madman who had committed atrocities even against his own people, and had tremendous power to do further damage, and he needed to be stopped."

With a poorly informed public and deeply cynical and malicious leadership, the same broken record is being played again.


August 27, 2002

"I don't care what anyone but a court of law thinks," he said. "Until a court says otherwise, if I say it's constitutional, it's constitutional." -- Wilmington, DE Mayor James Baker, from this article. Wilmington has established its own Department of Pre-Crime, a database of people without criminal records that it believes may commit crimes. We really should know by now not to trust somebody named James Baker. He's obviously working to get a job in the Bush administration.

***

Malignant Growth: George Monbiot questions the whole "growth is good" nonsense. I have to agree. Eleven years ago I spent a week in a poor town in Jamaica, and the people there seemed generally happier than the people here. One of the books I read (probably Affluenza) said that polls indicated that the highest percentage of Americans saying that they were happy occurred in 1957. I was a little offended, having been born in 1958, but it makes you wonder what all of the supposedly wonderful economic growth of the past 45 years has really accomplished. Did we work that hard just to be more miserable? Why do we continue? (Of course, maybe I'm just justifying my own laziness. Most of what I've accomplished today at work is on this page. But this is Hypocrisy Day, so why not?)

***

Bushies continue to celebrate Hypocrisy Day: The White House is trying to prevent the disclosure of documents relating to the controversial pardons granted by President Clinton in his final days in office. Really. Makes you wonder whom they are planning to pardon. The Unabomber, maybe? Certainly they won't pardon any of their detainees or enemy combatants. I don't know all of the rules behind pardons, but I think you have to have been convicted to get one, which means you had to have been tried, which means you had to have been charged with a crime. Tough luck, guys, as Ted Rall points out.

***

Water: the real deal. Contrary to common econobabble, we can survive without oil. In some ways, we would be better off: less traffic, less pollution, fewer wars. And sooner or later, we'll have to survive without oil. The liquid we can't do without is water. Already a major international issue in the Middle East and a divisive social issue in South America and China, water wars may soon make oil wars seem pretty Bush league. Of course, with the assistance of free-trade maniacs like Clinton and the Bushes, multinational corporations are already laying claim to much of the world's fresh water supply. The New York Times concludes a four-part series on water tomorrow; you can read the first three parts now.

For my fellow Michiganders, water might well be the best reason to vote for Jennifer Granholm for governor. As more and more of the west experiences drought and water restrictions, there will be calls from western senators to pipe some of the Great Lakes water to the southwest. While I suspect that both Posthumus and Granholm would oppose this, I think that Granholm's superior oratorical skills and ability to think on her feet might make the difference in fending this off. Frankly, I won't have much sympathy for Arizona until they've shut down every golf course and otherwise decided to make peace with the environment they've chosen to inhabit. I'll give California a little more sympathy because I've got family, friends, and readers there. Well, northern California, anyway.

***

It's Hypocrisy Day--Again: While the Veep from the Deep rants about further destroying a country that we have been destroying for eleven years, W is hosting Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia at his Crawford Ranch. Iraq: invaded a small, corrupt country 12 years ago after we gave them the green light. Saudi Arabia: Home to most of the 9/11 hijackers, supporters of the Taliban, exporters of the Wahabbi brand of radical Islam. As if this wasn't enough, the Bushies have "listed an obscure Muslim group fighting Chinese rule" as a terrorist organization to the joy of those beacons of democracy and freedom in Beijing. Under the guise of "defending freedom," the "war on terrorism" is actively suppressing liberation movements around the globe.

***

The Washington Post continues to peddle nonsense about the US role in central Asia. In an article full of BS about supporting "democracy," the author offered this enormous whopper:

The powerful nations of the world with interests in the neighborhood all see stability as the antidote to the tendencies they fear -- Islamic extremism, violent opposition to sitting regimes, ugly contests for power and wealth.

Perhaps he doesn't consider the US to be one of the "powerful nations of the world," since the Bushie Iraq policy is a very ugly contest for power and wealth involving violent opposition to a sitting regime which will likely lead to a huge increase in Islamic extremism.


August 26, 2002

No such thing as bad publicity: Katherine Harris is releasing her book about the 2000 election just before voters decide whether being an over-made-up good-for-nothing party hack who put her party ahead of her job qualifies her to be in Congress. Despairingly, I'm afraid it most certainly does. Not only do those qualities qualify her, they are practically required these days.

Speaking of Ms. Harris, I read in Jake Tapper's book about the Florida shenanigans that Katherine was once, about ten years ago, an assistant for a lounge act (a Vanna White type, according to Tapper). Apparently, her main responsibility was teaching the crowd to do the chicken dance. In a truly just world, that alone would disqualify someone from running for public office. I mean, how many overweight butts have been wiggled obscenely at sporting events around the country due to that chicken dance? I'll bet Rome had chicken dances just before it fell. And chicken-dance pushers like Katherine Harris should be dealt with severely to rid our culture of this scourge! And not by electing them to Congress.

***

Federal Court Upholds Open Hearing in Rabih Haddad Case: A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati was unanimous in rejecting the government's appeal Monday. ``A government operating in the shadow of secrecy stands in complete opposition to the society envisioned by the framers of our Constitution,'' it said. -- from AP

More:

Federal officials sought a closed deportation hearing for Haddad on national security grounds, arguing that opening the session to the public and news media would help terrorists understand the government's strategy.

Do the Feds really believe that terrorists are so smart that they can understand something that no one else can?

Anyway, let's hope that this leads quickly to freedom for Haddad and the others held illegally by the Bushies.

***

Conclusive proof that baseball hasn't a clue: George W. Bush has been put on a list of 60 non-players being considered for baseball's Hall of Fame. Because he was the figurehead "owner" of the powerhouse Texas Rangers from 1989-98. Because they bilked the Texas taxpayers out of millions to build the Ballpark at Arlington. Because they traded Sammy Sosa. Because he got paid $13 million for watching baseball games. Because he was appointed to a very powerful job and another totally screwed-up industry is trying to buy his favor.

***

I'm sending another e-mail to the senators--care to join me? Here's mine; feel free to copy it directly or alter it.

Dear Senators:

I read in the news that the Bush administration believes that it does not need congressional approval for going to war against Iraq. I think that they are wrong, but I am not a legal scholar and I do not know the details of the War Powers Act and the Gulf War resolution of 1990. I think that the best solution is for Congress to immediately act to clarify the situation by superceding any questionable passages in these documents with clear and unequivocal language stating that the President is required to get a declaration of war from Congress before undertaking any further attacks against Iraq. It should be made clear that any unapproved aggression would be considered an impeachable offense. You are our elected representatives; the President is not. Do something, please! The cycle of violence must be stopped, and you are the ones to do it. 

Sincerely, 

Bob Goodsell

***

Finding the dark cloud around this supposed silver lining: New home sales climbed in July to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.02 million, the highest monthly level on record, according to this article. Spurred by low interest rates, sprawl-divisions are springing up everywhere. So while the "growth is good" folks are excited about all of the jobs in construction, real estate/finance, landscaping/lawn maintenance, home improvement manufacturing and retail, etc., I'm bummed by the loss of open space, the destruction of wildlife habitats, the increased traffic and pollution, the flight of money from city to suburban schools, and the addition of a million families to the voting rolls who have a six-figure stake in keeping gasoline prices artificially low. And, of course, almost all of this new housing is going to people who were already adequately housed.

***

On a related subject: I recently read a book called Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony. It documents the wastefulness involved in the typical American grass lawn, especially in climates not well suited for it. The mowing, watering, fertilizing, spraying, and reduction of biodiversity involved in a pretty green lawn can all be harmful to the environment. While lawns are great for some activities (I love playing soccer, for example), there are many attractive alternatives in most situations that are much more environmentally friendly. One of the most obvious, to me, is just to reduce the size of the lawns. So many of the new sprawl-divisions have houses on half-acre, one-acre, or even larger lots. Many of them are just huge expanses (expenses) of grass, much of which does nothing except grow and get mowed. Even worse, to me, are the industrial-park-style factories, office buildings and warehouses. These are usually spread-out one-story buildings with large parking lots and even larger lawns. Occasionally you will see a picnic table or a volleyball net on a small part of the lawn, but for the most part the lawn just grows and gets mowed. My office building is being surrounded by buildings belonging to drug behemoth Pfizer. They have been building, remodeling and landscaping their campus for the two years that I have been working here, and they have bought even more land in the neighborhood. After the construction work is done, they put in huge areas of grass with built-in sprinkler systems. Teams of mowers and trimmers are working on it pretty much all of the time, adding to the noise and pollution in the area. Why not just cut drug costs a little instead?


August 25, 2002

Ted Rall is in fine form this week:

***

Get involved the easy way: Several progressive organizations have web sites which enable you to quickly send e-mails or faxes to congress and others expressing concern about important issues. Here are a few that I have been using:

All of these allow you to choose which issues to act on and to edit the text of your e-mail or fax before sending it. I don't know how much effect these e-mails and faxes have, but I would guess that sending just one is as important as whether you voted in the last election. You are showing congress that you are paying attention and that you care about what is going on, and that they might not get your vote next time if they ignore your wishes. By showing that our votes may be based more on issues than on campaign ads hopefully lessens the impact of campaign "donations" by corporations, giving our representatives the courage to vote the right way. 

***

Nothing has subverted Middle East democracy more than the Arab world's and Iran's dependence on oil, and nothing will restrict America's ability to tell the truth in the Middle East and promote democracy there more than our continued dependence on oil. Yet, since Sept. 11, the Bush-Cheney team has not lifted a finger to make us, or the Arab-Islamic world, less dependent on oil. -- Thomas Friedman in today's NY Times


August 24, 2002 

Some quotes from Studs Terkel while appearing on Donahue last Monday:

You can read the whole transcript, at least for the next couple of days, at http://www.msnbc.com/news/796617.asp.

***

Some friendly reminders, lest anyone forget: Cheney energy plan secrets. Warning signs of 9/11 ignored. Bombing of Red Cross, Canadians, innocent civilians, cluster bombs still waiting to go off, etc. Brutal treatment of POW's in Afghanistan. Shadow government. Enron ties to Bushies. Osama probably still on the loose. Bush's Harken shenanigans. Cheney's Halliburton shenanigans. Illegal detentions. USA Patriot Act. Repeal of estate tax. John Ashcroft. And, of course, the frigging stolen election which made it all possible!

***

Detroit Free Press sports columnist Drew Sharp says that the main hope for downtown Detroit is the success of the Tigers and Lions, especially the Tigers. How depressing. Sharp demonstrates more insight into Detroit's woes than most of the non-sports columnists in the paper.

***

The World Socialist Web Site documents the ongoing preparations for war in Iraq even as W claims that no decision has been made. Where have all the soldiers gone? According to WSWS, "US soldiers, sailors and airmen are now stationed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Eritrea and Kenya, with naval forces offshore in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean." They also say that, in addition to the ongoing bombing of Iraq, there are already US Special Forces personnel operating in Iraq right now.

 


August 23, 2002

The Bushies won't force meat producers to clean up their act for Americans, but for the Russians, that's a different story. Not to be chauvinistic or whatever, but I think most Americans would assume that the food in American supermarkets is generally safer than what you would expect to find in Russia. But the Russians didn't think so. They have insisted that chicken and turkey legs shipped to Russia meet higher standards, and the USDA has agreed. The article doesn't really say much about it, but I think the gist of it is that Tyson and the other evil butchers will be shipping safer meat to Russia than they will to Krogers. This is the New World Order: the Russian government takes a stand to protect its citizens while the US government gives in to protect the corporations. Just one more reason to be a vegetarian.

***

Sorry--I had a cartoon here, but the link changed.


August 22, 2002

Conservative former Congressman John LeBoutillier blasts Frankenbush. Explains the generation gap between Poppy and Junior, and the parallel one between Scowcroft and Condi Rice.

***

Follow-up: It should come as no surprise that Vinson & Elkins also represents Halliburton, according to this article. Mob lawyers.

***

Molly Ivins, author of Shrub, writes a nice well-rounded Bush-bashing op-ed piece. Here are some choice quotes:

Well, I'm not just any fool, but I decided to check out the V&E website. Here is the part that Ivins was referring to:

The firm also assists in structuring financings for purposes of (a) achieving true-sale and off-balance-sheet treatment for accounting, bankruptcy or state law purposes (while, in many cases, maintaining loan treatment for federal income tax purposes), (b) assuring the bankruptcy remoteness of each structure, and (c) minimizing adverse state or foreign tax consequences. -- from http://www.vinson-elkins.com/practice_areas/practice_areas.cfm?prac=9. (emphasis added)

I'm not an accounting expert, but I think that means that they help companies borrow large amounts of money and make sure that neither stockholders, state governments, nor other creditors know about it, while still obtaining big deductions from federal taxes. This is the type of service they provided Enron, and they are advertising it to other corporations even today. In my dream world, the one where Bush and Cheney are dishwashers at Denny's, all of the lawyers at V&E will be assigned as unpaid court-appointed lawyers to defend the "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay. They will be allowed to chase ambulances ten hours a week to buy food. They can return to their previous careers as corporate shysters once every last detainee is either free or convicted in a court of law (and the conviction confirmed on appeal, all the way to the International Criminal Court, if necessary).

***

Every Disaster an Excuse to Give the Corporations What They Want: W is using the forest fires in the west as a reason to let the timber industry increase logging on national forest land. I guess the idea is--no forests, no forest fires. Don't save for tomorrow what you can destroy for profit today.

***

Telling us off: Canadian W.R. McDougall chastises America in a big way. Don't miss this one! (Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for the link.)


August 21, 2002

The Exterminator Speaks: Not to be deterred by the defection of fellow Texas Republican Dick Armey from W's Iraq Attaq, world-class scumbag Tom DeLay spoke out in favor of war, war and more war today. I would highlight the worst parts for you, but it would be like trying to pick the most disgusting turds in the sewer. Here's the link if you've got the stomach to dive in.

***

Plum scary: A strike at the Department of Agriculture's Plum Island research center off of Long Island is raising concerns. Plum Island does mostly secret research into infectious animal diseases, some of which are transmissible to humans. It appears that replacement workers may not know how to properly operate the water system, threatening the hygiene of the place. The article mentions that Plum Island was mentioned in the movie "Silence of the Lambs;" it was also the title island in a Nelson DeMille thriller.

***

Too bad about Cynthia McKinney: The congresswoman from Georgia lost in her Democratic primary yesterday and will therefore be leaving the House after ten years. She was, I think, the only member of congress to publicly point out the obscene profits being made by Bush campaign contributors from the so-called "War on Terror" and to question the motives behind it. For being one of the few people on the Hill to speak up, she gets her political head chopped off. Even more than the Rivers-Dingell race here in Michigan, this campaign was flooded with outside money and influence. On the plus side, neanderthal congressman Bob Barr also lost his primary (see same article).

***

Bob's fearless predictions of the results of the Granny Patrol described below:

As of August, 2003 there will have been

Actually, those aren't "fearless predictions." I'm afraid they may be much too accurate.

***

EPA-taph: Eric Schaeffer, the head of enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) until he resigned in protest in February, tells how the Bushies have done far more damage to the environment than they have to al Qaeda, even with the Granny Patrol (next).

***

Look out al Qaeda--here comes Grandma!
or
What are your tax dollars up to now?

With the help of $81,772 in federal money, 150 senior volunteers will patrol three lower-income areas in Polk County [Florida]. They'll be on the lookout for terrorists, who local officials say may find it easy to blend into neighborhoods where people frequently move in and out. -- from the Lakeland, Florida Online Ledger

Some choice quotes from the article:

Thanks to Michael Moore's web site for the link to the article. As far as I can tell, this is not a spoof, although National Lampoon or the Onion would be hard-pressed to come up with something sillier. Maybe they should send the granny patrol over to Tampa, where Tommy Franks and the other terrorizers of Afghan weddings lurk.


August 20, 2002

"As with all sovereign nations, we respect Iraq’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.” -- Donald Rumsfeld, 1983, from MSNBC. Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for finding that one!
 

***

The White House on Tuesday condemned an obscure Iraqi opposition group for occupying the Iraqi embassy in Berlin, saying it undercut ``legitimate efforts'' to overthrow Saddam Hussein. ``Actions like this takeover are unacceptable. They undermine legitimate efforts by Iraqis, both inside and outside Iraq, to bring regime change to Iraq,'' said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. ``As for the particular group involved, we had no prior knowledge of this group and no contacts with them.'' -- from the NY Times

I guess what Ari is trying to say is: How can Republicans benefit politically if someone else overthrows Saddam? And, the Bushies would look even more hypocritical overthrowing the regime that overthrew Saddam to get Iraq's oil than they would (will?) look overthrowing Saddam themselves. He doesn't explain how occupying the embassy in Berlin endangers Saddam, nor what makes other efforts "legitimate" compared to this one. But one expects to hear nonsense when listening to the hired liar for an idiot, and Ari rarely disappoints.


August 19, 2002

My fifteen minutes of fame continued today, as I appeared on the Channel 7 Action News at 6. I was interviewed at my house by reporter Val Clark, and was filmed riding my bike and preparing a salad. They decided to interview me after reading the Wall Street Journal article from August 8. I talked about conserving energy as a key to preventing war, or something like that.

***

This article from Common Dreams discusses one of my favorite rant topics: the unholy competition between states and cities for the "privilege" of having a large corporation set up shop and pay no taxes for years while providing a few low-wage jobs before moving on to even cheaper pastures, probably overseas. Apparently a group called Good Jobs First is documenting the reality of these corporate welfare schemes: how much economic benefit the states or cities get in return for their enormous tax breaks and outright bribes. This should really be a federal issue under the interstate commerce clause of the constitution. Access to raw materials, transportation, and markets are legitimate factors for companies to use in deciding where to locate or re-locate a factory. Cheap labor, tax breaks and government subsidies are not legitimate factors, and it should be the responsibility of the federal government to see that they are not, whether it is Alabama competing with Kentucky for an auto plant or California competing with China for a semi-conductor factory. The feds unfortunately abandoned their interstate commerce role decades ago, causing textile jobs to leave New England for North Carolina and auto jobs to leave Michigan for Texas. More recently, the international "free trade" agreements (GATT, NAFTA, WTO, and the proposed FTAA) have resulted in the departure of many of these same jobs from Carolina and Texas to Mexico, Malaysia, China, and elsewhere. State governments are put in the awful position of having to choose between paying millions of dollars for a few jobs or having no jobs at all, and the federal government, rather than working to ease the states' burden by tightly regulating the competition between them is instead exacerbating the burden by facilitating international competition.


August 18, 2002

Poor, poor, pitiful CIA:

Asked why the C.I.A. failed to find the archive before CNN, Bill Harlow, the agency's spokesman, replied, "There are more of them in Afghanistan than there are of us, and they are paid better." from the NY Times article about the supposed al Qaeda videotapes found by CNN reporter Nic Robertson.


August 17, 2002

This is rich! Maybe the best, most comprehensive Bush-bash yet! Frank Rich tells it like it is in today's NY Times! Some choice quotes:


August 16, 2002

Following my lead, Arianna Huffington has compared the Bushies' Whacko Waco Econoforum to David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. She called them "Brunch Bushians" while I called them "Ranch Dubyans." Whatever you call them, they're all just a bunch of nuts. (Sorry, I'll try to regain a little bit of high-road eloquence soon.)

***

Perles of stupidity (pronounced "pearls," not "purrless" like the former MSU football coach who was also know for his pearls of stupidity).

"The failure to take on Saddam after what the president said would produce such a collapse of confidence in the president that it would set back the war on terrorism." -- Chief Warmonger Richard Perle

"Maybe Mr. Perle would like to be in the first wave of those who go into Baghdad." -- Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican from Nebraska

Both quotes are from the NY Times. Perle's argument is particularly, well, something. "What the president said" about Iraq is mostly stuff that Perle told him to say, and now he's saying that the crap he's been saying has backed the President into a corner he can't get out of. I suggest that Perle be the first and only wave to go into Baghdad, and that W start listening to Colin Powell, the Joint Chiefs, Hagel, Dick Armey, and maybe some of those brave souls like Dennis Kucinich, instead of listening to chickenhawks Perle, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.


August 15, 2002

It's picture blog day!!!

 

from http://www.normandog.com/bhq.htm. Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the management of this website.

***

In your dreams, Dubya! Nixon and Clinton will be there before you are. You might beat out Poppy, though, if you just take a nap and don't do anything else stupid for your remaining two and a half years.

***

Check out Steve Sack's cartoon today!

***

Bob Herbert continues his tour of screwy southern justice with this article about how three retarded black people in Alabama were all convicted for killing a baby that never existed.


August 14, 2002

"However, I do think that due process requires something other than a basic assertion by someone named Mobbs that they have looked at some papers and therefore they have determined he should be held incommunicado. Just think of the impact of that. Is that what we're fighting for?" -- U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar, quoted in the Washington Post, debating with government lawyers in the Hamdi case.

***

More on campaigns (Moron campaigns?): After ranting about the outside influence of Cheney and others in congressional races, I just received an e-mail from progressive activist group Moveon.org asking me to donate to the campaigns of several candidates across the nation (none of whom are in Michigan). Featured are senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, who is running against the Cheney-selected Norm Coleman mentioned in my essay below. So should I donate? I want these candidates to win, and I know the Republicans are doing it, but I don't want to be a hypocrite, and I am a cheapskate at heart. Please give me some feedback!

***

Chasing links again--Tom Tomorrow led me to August Pollack, who led me to this: a large collection of old war posters altered for the "war on terrorism."

***

"Enemy Combatant" is apparently neither. According to Newsweek, the Feds have no case against Jose Padilla, but that doesn't mean they are going to let him go anytime soon. Welcome to the Soviet Union of Ashcroft. And Ashcroft isn't content with just depriving Padilla and Hamdi of their rights. He envisions prison camps full of "enemy combatants." To quote Jonathan Turley from the LA Times: "Ashcroft has become a clear and present threat to our liberties." (Read Turley's op-ed for a whole lot more.)

I think the Senate is the next stop for us. We need to encourage all of those USA Patriot voting, Under God posturing presidential candidates that it is time that they honored their oaths of office and took two steps necessary to protect the Constitution. First, a declaration of peace. Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld (the axis of evil) use "we are at war" as an excuse for all of their unconstitutional, repressive measures. The Senate should firmly declare that the war in Afghanistan is over and that America is at peace. Take that ridiculous cover out of their arsenal. Second, remove Ashcroft from office. He clearly is not interested in upholding his oath to protect the constitution, and should be given a one-way Amtrak ticket to St. Louis.


August 13, 2002

Commemorating 9/11:

I hope Donahue stays on MSNBC, or maybe gets promoted to NBC--tonight's show was spectacular, with Breitweiser and Stupid White Men author Michael Moore. Also on was French intelligence analyst Jean Charles Brisard shares his theory of the real story behind 9/11. Brisard's book, "Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth," made headlines in France, alleging that the Bush and Clinton administrations put oil and politics before security in the months preceding the attacks. I missed that part, but I'm recording the 3 am replay of the show so I can see it. Transcripts of Donahue shows are available at http://www.msnbc.com/news/MSNBCTRANSCRIPTSMAIN_Front.asp, usually a day later.

***

The Bush Effect: On July 9, W lectured Wall Street on corporate responsibility and the Dow dropped 400 some points. Today, he holds his economic forum and claims that the economy is sound, and the Dow drops 200 points. AFL-CIO Prez John Sweeney tells what is really going on in the economy. I certainly don't have the answer to economic problems, but I do know that an economy based on consumption and waste on a planet with limited resources and limited capacity to absorb heat and pollution is bound to collapse sooner or later. Our choice is between a relatively painless and peaceful transition to sustainability starting right now, or a massive train wreck destroying much of the earth and killing millions or billions later. Trying to "revive" our economy without redirecting it is a choice for the latter option. So I guess I hope that W continues to speak to try and prop up the economy, since I think that only a significant recession or depression will lead to the structural changes necessary for the shift to sustainability. But it is so annoying to listen to him!

***

Here's a current article relevant to my essay below. Apparently, Rep. Cynthia McKinney's race for re-election is becoming a microcosm of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

***

I'm considering submitting an essay to TomPaine.com for one of their "op ads" in the New York Times. (See http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/6173 for details.) Here is my first draft, which is based on one of my rants of a few months ago. Please e-mail me with comments and criticisms--the deadline for submission is August 23.

Agenda Interrupted

While not high on the administration’s priority list, campaign and election reform was a major concern of many Americans before September 11, especially after the debacle of 2000. Many states took steps to improve their election procedures, and the McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill was being debated. And while a watered-down version of this bill has been passed (and further watered down by the FEC), there is little doubt that money is still the most important factor in most campaigns and that it buys huge amounts of improper influence in our government.

 One aspect of Congressional campaigns that is frequently overlooked is the enormous influence exerted from outside the district or state by PAC’s, corporations, and national parties and politicians. As reported in the New York Times on March 18, Tim Pawlenty, the majority leader of the Minnesota house, was talked out of running in the Republican primary for US Senate by Vice President Cheney. Cheney felt that Norm Coleman had a better chance of winning in November, and implied to Pawlenty that Coleman would get the support of the national party. Pawlenty withdrew from the race and decided to run for governor instead. Why should Cheney have any say in the choices that Minnesotans have for senator? And who will Coleman really represent if he is elected?

 There are many other aspects of our election procedures that limit our choices. The stifling dominance of the two parties is one. The prohibition of crossover voting in primaries is another. (In Michigan, primary voters have to vote strictly in one party.) The general lack of runoff elections is another. There should always, always, always be runoffs when there is no clear majority winner.

 Picking between two well-funded party hacks in November is not democracy. We deserve better. 

***

So is the FBI's case hat empty, or Hatfill? I watched Steven Hatfill's press conference on Sunday, and I have to say he was pretty convincing. If he is the anthrax mailer, he's a very good liar. Nicholas Kristoff sort of apologizes for fingering Hatfill without actually naming him, but then pretty much accuses him again. If Hatfill is, in fact, innocent, he has definitely been screwed by all of the attention. Of course, innocent or guilty, if he were of Arab descent he would have been declared an "enemy combatant" a long time ago and never heard from again.

***

Strange where logical speech comes from these days. While the President, Veep, most of Congress, and most of the media speak either complete nonsense or meaningless doubletalk, voices of reason are coming from Pat Buchanan, Dick Armey (see below), and today from President Mohammad Khatami of Iran. Without apparently referring once to "the Great Satan" or other inflammatory rhetoric, he says that the US has "created a war-like and rough atmosphere throughout the world." Smirking rejection from W pending.

***

Ranch Dubyans: Back in 1993 a bizarre group gathered in Waco, Texas to discuss their own strange interpretation of the bible. Today, another bizarre group gathered in Waco to discuss their own strange interpretation of the economy. No word as to what the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were up to this morning. Paul Krugman has some choice words, though.

***

August 12, 2002

Monumentally bad: Where is Maya Lin when the Russians really need her? I don't mean to turn this into an art-criticism page, but...yecch! This is the Russian memorial for the Kursk submarine, which sank two years ago, killing everyone on board:

Russia remembers Kursk disaster (pic from Chicago Tribune)

***

August 9, 2002

"The timing of my loan was wholly coincidental with the co-sponsorship of bankruptcy reform," Mr. Moran said. -- from the NY Times.  That is Representative James P. Moran, Democrat from Virginia, who received a $447,500 loan from credit-card giant MBNA shortly before becoming a co-sponsor of the bankruptcy bill which would protect MBNA and other credit card companies from losses due to bad loans. Interestingly, the American Heritage Dictionary lists two definitions for "coincidental:"

  1. Occurring as or resulting from coincidence.
  2. Happening or existing at the same time.

What do you bet that Mr. Moran has an industrious staffer with a dictionary to help him answer questions? How convenient to have a word that means basically both "I'm innocent" and "I'm guilty as sin" at the same time! Or maybe he has a copy of the Republicans' manual (next item).

***

Where do they get this stuff? Here's where! The Republicans have a "how not to answer tough questions" manual for congressional candidates.

***

The Moyers' documentary pointed out that foreign corporations could even use Chapter 11 to overturn U.S. Supreme Court decisions. -- From an anti-"free-trade" column, referring to a Bill Moyers documentary about NAFTA's not nearly infamous enough Chapter 11, which allows Canadian or Mexican companies to challenge local, state or federal laws in the US which they claim restrain trade by increasing environmental, labor or consumer costs of doing business. Now, I think NAFTA is a total screw-up and every congressperson who voted to give W "fast-track" trade authority to make NAFTA-like deals elsewhere should not only be immediately impeached (or whatever you do to congresspeople), but forced to work 75 hours a week in a Chinese Nike sweatshop for the rest of their miserable lives, starting with Joe Lieberman and Trent Lott. But the quote above makes me think that NAFTA may have some use after all. Perhaps a Canadian steel or agricultural company could show that the recent steel tariffs or farm bill that W supported unfairly restrict trade, and this was due to the Supreme Court's decision to install W as president in the first place. It would be supremely delicious to see Bush tossed out by the same free-trade crap he's been pushing for. (Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?)

***

Good column from Arianna Huffington on the myth and reality of corporate reform.

***

The New York Times has more quotes from Dick Armey. I had always heard that he fit right in with Phil Gramm, Tom DeLay and W himself as compelling reasons for forcing Texas to re-secede from the Union (biggest mistake in US history was letting Texas back in after the Civil War). But here he is, talking very good sense in complete sentences!

***

Multiple Choice Quiz:

If we try to act against Saddam Hussein, as obnoxious as he is, without proper provocation, we will not have the support of other nation states who might do so. I don't believe that America will justifiably make an unprovoked attack on another nation. It would not be consistent with what we have been as a nation or what we should be as a nation.

That quote comes from:

  1. Dennis Kucinich
  2. Ralph Nader
  3. Noam Chomsky
  4. Me
  5. Dick Armey

And the correct answer is: Dick Armey! The retiring Republican congressman from Texas appears to have found a conscience now that he's not out gathering campaign contributions. He also was one of the first and only Republicans to speak out against Ashcroft's Operation Tips. Jog on that for a while, W.


August 8, 2002

Why did the WTC towers collapse so quickly? This article suggests poor design and avoidance of building codes may have killed the majority of the victims of 9/11.

***

See the PowerPoint presentation given to the Defense Policy Board last month declaring that Saudi Arabia is the enemy. (See below for more on this.)

***

The Rush to Insanity: Rush Limbaugh's idea of how to commemorate September 11 is by invading Iraq. I kid you not.

***

I was quoted in today's Wall Street Journal. Check it out! I'm not holding my breath that they will be running my rants as a regular feature, however.

***

Be sure to check out the links in Tom Tomorrow's linkfest from yesterday today! Flying high--the US Air Force!

***

This challenge is to recognize and act upon the conclusion of any objective analysis of global power: namely that the greatest threat to world peace is not Saddam Hussein, but George Bush. -- George Monbiot in the Guardian of London


August 7, 2002

Several Election Notes:

***

  

Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday he'd like to serve a second term "if the president's willing and if my wife approves." -- from the Washington Post

Ahah! I thought so! Five people picked our current excuse for a president--now apparently only two will be allowed a say in picking our vice president. (And I can't think of any two people I'd less like to have picking anyone in our government than George W. Bush and Lynne Cheney.) Nowhere in the article does the Veep from the Deep mention that the American people are supposed to get a vote in the matter.

***

I just finished reading Jim Hightower's book If the Gods had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates. Written shortly before the 2000 election, it describes the total corruption of all of the Republicrat candidates (and Reagan, Bush I and Clinton) by corporate campaign financing. It also has good chapters on the negative impacts of merger mania and globalization. If, despite my best efforts, you can't quite recall why we should all be furious, this book will remind you. It's very entertaining, as well--an easy read.


August 6, 2002

Before Leaving for Texas, Bush Signs Trade Bill

President Bush and Congress head off to Texas for a vacation.

***

A truly responsive government...

The Ann Arbor Ad Hoc Committee for Peace prepared a signature ad which ran in the Ann Arbor News on June 9. If you look closely, you will see that your humble blogger, moi, was one of the signers. The Committee sent a copy of the ad to the White House, prompting the following truly enlightened and appropriate response to our message of peace:

THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON
July 19, 2002

Members of The Ann Arbor Ad-Hoc Committee for Peace
Post Office Box 130074
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48113-0074

Dear Members:

Thank you for writing about the acts of war committed against the United States on September 11 and for sending your thoughtful remembrance. In the face of this evil, our country remains strong and united, a beacon of freedom and opportunity to the rest of the world.

Our government continues to serve the American people. Our intelligence, military, and law enforcement communities are working non-stop to find those responsible for these attacks. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who help or harbor them.

We must remember that our Arab and Muslim American citizens love our Nation and must be treated with dignity and respect. Americans of every creed, ethnicity, and national origin must unite against our common enemies.

Since these terrible tragedies occurred, our citizens have been generous, kind, resourceful, and brave. I encourage all Americans to find a way to help. Web sites like LibertyUnites.org can serve as a resource for those wanting to participate in the relief efforts.

May God bless you and may God bless America.

Sincerely,

George W. Bush

Can't they at least take the time to prepare more than one form letter? This one was obviously written last September or October, and was sent without paying any attention to the message of our ad. Have all the time, money and lives expended in the last eleven months been of so little value that there is no need to change the form letters? (Hint: correct answer is "Yes.")

***

"In the way they're kind of writing it right now out of the Senate Finance Committee, some people could spend their entire five years on welfare - there's a five-year work requirement - going to college. Now, that's not my view of helping people become independent, and it's certainly not my view of understanding the importance of work and helping people achieve the dignity necessary so they can live a free life, free from government control." -- "Education President" George W. Bush

I guess W figures that since he didn't learn anything in college, nobody does.

***

Monkeys storm Indian jail, free orphan child of murdered mother. I don't know how this relates to the "war on terrorism" or CEO fraud, but it's quite a story!

***

Tom Tomorrow and August Pollack were both ranting on the Saudi Arabia story (below) at about the same time that I was. Great minds think alike! Ours too!

***

Saudi Arabia is the enemy: This article describes a briefing given to the Defense Policy Board, which advises the Pentagon. It described Saudi Arabia as "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent." Amazingly, the article does not mention that most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, but it describes an apparently growing sentiment within and around the administration. I'm sure it has more to do with the Saudis' reluctance to support war on Iraq than with their support of terrorism (after all, without terrorism the Bushies would have a hard time selling any of this crap), but it is interesting to see attention finally focused on a much more obvious culprit for 9/11 than Afghanistan.

And I could agree with them on most of this. I say, "Well obviously, our relationship with Saudi Arabia has brought us nothing but trouble. We should boycott Saudi oil (heck, let's boycott all foreign oil!) and institute some serious conservation efforts here. Once the oil money is gone, the House of Saud will crumble and the people of the region will have the opportunity to revolt and establish governments of their own choosing. The money for terrorists will disappear as well, and the world will be at least slightly closer to liberty and justice for all."

But that's not what these yahoos are thinking. No, they are just drooling over making Saudi Arabia our next war after Iraq. They want the entire Persian Gulf region (and probably the Caspian region as well) to be the Oil Colony of the American Empire.

***

Vote! Anyone in Michigan reading this should get out and vote today, but only if you agree with most of what I say here. For the rest of you, the election is tomorrow (heh, heh--I'll bet I fooled them!). If you're in my gerrymandered congressional district, please vote for Lynn Rivers!

***

Protecting the mega-corporations against the little guys--your tax dollars at work:

The United States has asked a federal judge to block a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil for alleged rights abuses in Indonesia, saying a guilty verdict could damage bilateral relations and undermine the war on terrorism. The State Department said in a July 29 letter to the District Court in Washington that allowing the lawsuit to proceed would ``risk a seriously adverse impact on significant interests of the United States, including interests related directly to the ongoing struggle against international terrorism.'' -- from AP

This comes after the administration's promise to give Indonesia $50 million to "fight terrorism." The lawsuit alleges that "Exxon Mobil knew of human rights abuses by the Indonesian military guarding its facilities there. The suit claims the villagers were victims of torture, kidnapping and rape by military guards." It seems as though the best way to fight terrorism in Indonesia would be to cut off all money and arms to its brutal military which is responsible for countless atrocities in Aceh (like those alleged in the lawsuit) and especially in East Timor. But this would "risk a seriously adverse impact on significant interests of the United States," namely the corporate scum running ExxonMobil. Whatever happened to anti-trust, anyway? How can there be an "ExxonMobil?"


August 5, 2002

Unbelievably, there is a bigger warmonger than W or Rummy or maybe even Richard Perle, and that is world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Kasparov writes in the Wall Street Journal that not only should the US destroy Iraq, but also Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. I say we arm Garry, W, Rummy and Perle with boxcutters and parachute them in to downtown Baghdad. If they successfully take out Saddam, we can consider letting them have a go on the rest of Garry's agenda.


August 4, 2002

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Gore's focus on "old class warfare" was a major reason the Democrats no longer hold the White House. "It was the old, failed politics that helped him lose that last election," Lott said on ABC's "This Week." -- from AP.

That takes a Lott of nerve! Gore "lost" the election with only 600,000 more votes, the second highest vote total in American history (Only Reagan in 1984 got more votes than Gore in 2000). And I think that if Gore had truly run a class warfare campaign he would have won in a landslide.


August 3, 2002

Watching the pathetic, mealy-mouthed response of President Bush and his State Department to Egypt's decision to sentence the leading Egyptian democracy advocate to seven years in prison leaves one wondering whether the whole Bush foreign policy team isn't just a big bunch of phonies. Shame on all of them. -- Thomas Friedman from today's NY Times

Egypt, our $2-billion-a-year ally, has just sentenced a 63-year-old man to seven years in jail for "helping to teach Egyptians how to register to vote, how to fill out a ballot and how to monitor elections." Of course, we didn't allow that sort of thing to go on in Florida, either.

***

Al Gore also spoke his mind in the Times today. If he'd been as forcefully opposed to the big-business buyoff of government during the 2000 campaign as he is in this essay, the Republicans might have had to rig the vote in several more states to steal the election. Unfortunately, Al was accepting contributions from many of the same corporations as W was, and the Clinton-Gore legacy of protecting "the people" against "the powerful" was pretty pathetic.


August 2, 2002

"Be honest and aboveboard in all dealings and truthful in reporting profits and losses." -- Veep from the Deep Dick Cheney, speaking at a fundraiser in Houston across the street from Enron. This from a man who spends most of his time in undisclosed locations and won't answer reporters' questions. Useless Dick has been traveling around the country raising money for Republican congressional candidates. This is so wrong on so many levels--the evil genius behind the throne is bringing in the bucks from the corporate swine so that his GOP buddies will control both houses of Congress next term. This will allow him to do pretty much anything he pleases, which will of course be anything that the corporate swine wants. While American businesses have made some bad investments in the past decade or two, there is no questioning the return they get on campaign contributions (aka bribes). A $100,000 contribution can easily lead to a $50 million contract or the squashing of reform legislation that might hurt the bottom line. And what conceivable right does a sleazebag politician from Wyoming who was second on the ticket that was second in the election have to exert his enormous ill-begotten influence in congressional races in Texas, California, or anywhere else? This is very far from how democracy should work. Our government is for sale to the highest bidder, and most of us don't have enough money to even get into the auction.

***

Rumsfeld was buddying up to Saddam at the same time as Saddam was gassing Iranians. Maybe Saddam needs to go, but I don't think the people who helped sustain him in power 18 years ago are the ones to do it. Everything about the Bush administration is illegitimate and corrupt. These are many of the same people who made a shambles of our foreign policy--they should no longer have any involvement in it.


August 1, 2002

"Since when did the al Qaeda become our role model for labor-management relations? I thought we were out to destroy al Qaeda--not emulate them."--Robert Byrd (as reported in the Wall Street Journal), in response to Budget Director Mitchell Daniels Jr., who tried to defend the administration's union-busting Homeland Security provisions by noting that "al Qaeda doesn't have a three-foot-thick" book of labor regulations.

That's Tom Tomorrow's Quote of the Day, which clearly drops this quote to second place: "We are losing better" -- Detroit Tigers' manager Luis Pujols. (from the Detroit Free Press)

***

A Dangerous Darkness: I guess Senator Levin is good for something. He has been hounding (if you call a letter every four months hounding) Attorney General Ashcroft for information on the thousand or so people detained after September 11, and inquiring as to why their hearings are secret. The silly Department of Homeland Security and Fast Track Trade Authority are given the fast track by Congress, which appears to be willing to wait until the Jenna Bush administration for answers on unconstitutional detentions, energy plan discussions, shadow governments, anthrax murders, Harken misdeeds, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...

***

Why did Saddam Hussein kick out UN weapons inspectors? One of the reasons was that they included US spies who were looking for more than weapons, including possible ways to assassinate Saddam. This was news briefly back in 1999 but seems to have disappeared from consideration. It is generally claimed that the only reason Saddam could have for kicking the inspectors out was that he had the weapons and didn't want them to find them. The whole idea of war with Iraq is stupid and evil, and we need to stop it. Please contact your senators now while Senator Biden's committee is investigating the issue.

***

President Bush condemned the bombing and said it was perpetrated by "killers who hate the thought of peace and therefore are willing to take their hatred to all kinds of places, including a university." --from the NY Times

W constantly amazes me by his apparently complete lack of awareness that so much of what he says could be applied directly to him. This from a man who has recently talked up pre-emptive strikes at West Point and used Nazi-style crowd control at Ohio State.


July 31, 2002

One grave I'll be dancing on: Rumor has it that Ford will eliminate the humongous Excursion from its line of monstrous SUV's.


July 30, 2002

Mr. Bush's greatest triumph, Afghanistan. -- Actual quote from the NY Times, in a supposed news article. Bombing the crap out of the poorest country in the world in retaliation for an attack by 19 people, none of whom came from there, killing thousands of civilians and thousands more soldiers brutally and unnecessarily. Letting the supposed arch-villain escape, apparently. That's your greatest triumph, Mr. Bush? I mowed my lawn tonight--it took more guts and made more sense than your precious war in Afghanistan. And shame on you, NY Times, for perpetuating that nonsense. 

***

So what's it all about, really? Another $10 million contract for Halliburton for more cells at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp. I'm sure they've already reported the $9.7 million of the contract plus $12 million or so of probable cost overruns as income.

***

Interesting viewpoint of the war in Afghanistan from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, I have no idea who the writer is (aside from his name), but he recalls a lot of history that the Bushies always ignore.


July 29, 2002

An apology to the world, and watch out for that weapon of mass distraction!


July 28, 2002

My first cartoon!


July 27, 2002

This rant page being neither official nor widely read, I feel somewhat free to speculate on some issues where I could be way off base. One of these is the string of wife-killings at Fort Bragg, North Carolina by Special Forces personnel (Green Beret, Delta Force), three of whom had recently returned from Afghanistan. My speculation is that their actual mission was so far removed from what they thought they had trained for that they snapped. Just as Tim McVeigh questioned his own patriotism and turned into a terrorist after his involvement in the Gulf war, these soldiers may have done things so abhorrent in Afghanistan that they were unable to reconcile them with their life back home. Perhaps they were involved in the massacre of POW's at the Qalat-i-Jangi fort near Mazar-i-Sharif, or one of the brutal raids on supposed al Qaeda-Taliban fugitives who turned out to be innocent civilians, including children. Two of the soldiers committed suicide after killing their wives. I wonder if any of these highly-trained and potentially dangerous soldiers will turn on somebody besides their spouses sometime soon, as McVeigh did. Again, this is pure speculation on my part, but it is just one of the many dangers associated with taking on a poorly-defined war like the "War on Terrorism." In general, I have a lot of respect for soldiers. I believe that their dedication is real--in fact, I know it is for the special forces, since they all volunteer and the training is brutal. And I think in most cases their patriotism is sincere--they believe they are fighting for truth, justice, and the American way (not realizing you can't do all three at the same time these days). And in the case of the special forces, I'm quite sure that they are all very intelligent as well. This makes it very traumatic for them when they get involved with something that seems so wrong to them--they have worked very hard for something they believe in, only to find that much of it isn't true. When they return home, they are disillusioned and angry, and given their intelligence and training, this can make them very dangerous.

***

Why are they giving this moron more power? If there ever was a president who should never be allowed to do anything on his own, George Worthless Bush is it. But now Congress is giving him the "Swindle Formerly Known as Fast Track," which goes by the symbol of an upraised middle finger. 

***

So who is Mr. X anyway? W's selling of his Harken stock, quite probably on insider information, and failing to report it for 34 weeks is bad enough. But he didn't just call his broker and say sell--a special, secret buyer was found for him, and the sale occurred outside of the official stock market. This buyer was probably aware that Harken was in financial trouble, making this purchase basically a bribe. What do you bet that Mr. X is one of those voters who is way more equal than you are?


July 26, 2002

MSNBC ran the second hour of the Donahue show from Houston tonight (I think they filmed it Wednesday after showing the first hour live). Phil Donahue, Ralph Nader, Molly Ivans, Kurt Eichenwald, and all of the screwed-over former Enron employees were just ripping into big business and the government that serves it. It was pretty cool seeing what was probably a pretty redneck group of Texans (maybe I'm biased a little) cheering public financing of elections, unions, jail time for corporate crooks, and a bunch of other progressive sentiments. One guy even asked if the panelists thought Bush was using the "War on Terrorism" to distract attention from all of the corporate scandals. Unfortunately, the panelists punted on that one. But the guy did get a pretty good round of applause from the audience for asking the question. And Molly Ivans scolded Texans in general for repeatedly electing representatives to Washington who continually attack all forms of government regulation. A transcript of Wednesday's show is available at http://www.msnbc.com/news/785565.asp; I assume tonight's show will be posted soon.

***

Paper or plastic? And do you have your Kroger Plus card so that John Ashcroft can examine your purchases to see if you're a terrorist? I was so mad a few years ago when I went into a Farmer Jack's grocery store to buy some Diet Coke. The sign said it was $2.49 for a twelve-pack, but when I got to the register it rang up at $4.39. I explained to the cashier that the sign said $2.49, but she said I had to have a Farmer Jack's Savings Card to get that price. I filled out the stupid paperwork, got the lower price, tore up the card, and I haven't shopped at a Farmer Jack's since. So I was really PO'd a couple of years later when Kroger introduced their "Kroger Plus" card. My main objections were that it was deceptive and inconvenient. Deceptive because of the situation I experienced in Farmer Jack's--you don't see the little logo indicating that you need the card to get the price, and inconvenient because it takes me 15 seconds to pull the stupid card out of my wallet, as it does for everyone in line in front of me at one of the few checkouts open. Also, it's one more piece of junk in my wallet. I boycotted Kroger for a year and complained to the store managers and the 1-800-Krogers customer line. Finally I caved--there's a Kroger right on my way home from work. I wondered about the privacy aspect, but I used my old address and phone number. Now I read that some grocery chains are giving their records to the FBI so they can search for shopping patterns matching suspected terrorists. Fortunately, the local Busch's and Meijer supermarkets don't use the cards. I think I'll tear up my Kroger Plus card and resume my boycott.

***

Slightly later--I followed the link in the Village Voice article to the web site of CASPIAN - Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering. They echo my arguments and add a bunch of others. Krogers, you are history! My card is destroyed and I won't be around no more no more!

***

The real meaning behind Operation TIPS:

(from http://cagle.slate.msn.com/best/main.asp)

***

Colorado Inmates Are Fed Recalled Beef. Colorado prison officials knowingly used beef that had been recalled for E. coli contamination in meatloaf served to inmates.

***

Giant sucking sound: It's business as usual for Congress even as they pretend to crack down on corporate crime. The House and Senate agreed last night on a "fast-track" trade bill giving the president the authority to negotiate trade agreements without congressional input. The "compromise" reached provides unemployment and insurance benefits to workers whose jobs leave the country because of these trade agreements. Who benefits? Corporations and politicians. Who pays for it? Everybody else.

***

Credit card debt piling up? Bankruptcy won't be an option any longer, so you'll have to run for Congress. MBNA and other credit card companies have been pushing high-interest cards on consumers for years, and then complain when some declare bankruptcy. But if you're in Congress, they'll give you a low-rate bill consolidation loan like they did to Representative James P. Moran Jr., Democrat of Virginia. Four days after Moran received a $447,000 loan from MBNA he became a lead sponsor of the legislation agreed on last night. There are few more clear-cut examples of the rich stealing from the poor than the credit scams, and now the government is making it even easier while pretending to get tough on corporate crime.


July 25, 2002

Bush Threatens Veto of Homeland Security Bill: Seriously! That's what the headline says. Apparently W is upset the Congress is trying to give employees of the new Department of Diversion (from Enron, connect-the-dots, shadow government, anthrax, Harken, Halliburton, the election, the shear idiocy of the alcoholic-in-chief) the same civil service protections as employees in other government agencies. So he's threatening to take his ball and go home. Go George! Get outta here! We didn't want your stupid Gestapo anyway! Remember, W opposed the new department until May when all the connect-the-dots stuff hit the fan, and then he was running around begging for it to divert attention from the obvious ineptitude of his administration before 9/11.

***

The "War on Terrorism"--How Halliburton is going to cover all of that asbestos liability Cheney bought for them. The Veep from the Deep has been feverishly working to fix his screw-ups as CEO since he became Vice President. Halliburton has contracts with the military all over the world, including the prison at Guantanamo Bay and providing logistical support for our poor troops in Uzbekistan. I really felt sorry for our troops a few months ago when Rumsfeld was visiting the base in Uzbekistan. One of the soldiers asked him "How long will we be here?" Rummy replied "As long as it takes." He didn't say for what. I wonder how many new Tim McVeighs will return home from the "War on Terrorism" with advanced weapons training and decidedly unpatriotic agendas? 

***

Speaking of McVeigh, it should be recalled that Osama bin Laden wasn't the only person turned into an anti-American terrorist by the last war against Iraq. Ramsi Youssef and the other perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 were certainly responding, at least in part, to the Gulf War. And McVeigh was super GI Joe, one of the top gunners in the Bradley Fighting Vehicle who had risen rapidly from private to sergeant. He was profoundly disturbed when he was ordered to destroy a badly outgunned Iraqi bunker and the three Iraqis in it without giving them a chance to surrender. Four years later, he blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Just one more reason not to invade Iraq to counter the zero reasons to do so.


July 24, 2002

Donahue! A few months ago, I read an essay on Common Dreams in which the author was encouraging MSNBC to become the network for progressives to counter the center-right approach of CNN and the radical-right focus of the FoxNews channel. Knowing that MSNBC is owned by General Electric and Microsoft, I figured there wasn't much chance of this happening. I sent the author an e-mail applauding his sentiments, but warning him that while Bill Gates appears to be suffering from a little corporate guilt and might go along, I couldn't see the moguls at GE having anything to do with a network which might have Noam Chomsky, Tom Tomorrow, and Ralph Nader as pundits. Fortunately, it appears that I was at least partially wrong. Last week MSNBC started running the "Donahue" show, starring long-time talk show host, Nader supporter and unrepentant progressive Phil Donahue. I wasn't really pleased with the first few shows, in that they used the typical shouting-from-both-sides format and gave way too much equal time to right wingers like Alexander Haig and Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona. But tonight's show was excellent. Phil broadcast the show live from Houston with an audience of mostly screwed-over former Enron employees and stockholders. His pundits were NY Times writer Kurt Eichenwald, Texas columnist Molly Ivans (the author of the W-bashing book Shrub), and...Ralph Nader! Everybody just sat around chatting about what scum these CEO's are and how it was all made possible by the paid-off scum on Capitol Hill and in the White House. Ralph even took a shot at Houston congressman Tom DeLay for his role in enabling Ken Lay and the other Enron crooks to do what they did. So if you've got cable, tune in to MSNBC at 8 pm for a little Donahue from time to time.


July 23, 2002

Pat Buchanan again! As I said yesterday, the Bushies are pissing off everyone.


July 22, 2002

The F-16 pilot is still alive, so it isn't terrorism: The Israeli attack on Gaza killed 11 and wounded 100, including many children. It doesn't justify suicide bombings, but neither do suicide bombings justify this. Murder is murder. And I'll bet Israel didn't get that F-16 from Iraq, Iran, or North Korea. 

***

Somebody's got a plan: I like James K. Galbraith's column from the Washington Post.

***

Over 100,000 Americans dying from hospital infections each year, and our focus is on terrorism, which has killed on average about 350 Americans per year over the last decade.

***

Stealing my thunder again! The lead editorial of the NY Times today concludes with this sentence:

If TIPS is ever put into effect, the first people who should be turned in as a threat to our way of life are the Justice Department officials who thought up this most un-American of programs.

Replace "officials" with "morons" and "programs" with "pogroms" and it would sound just like me! However, the editorial says that Dick Armey is opposed to TIPS, so I may have to look at it more closely. It is good to know that there are civil libertarians on the right (like the Cato Institute) as well as on the left. The Bushies uncompromising, secretive approach will eventually piss off just about everybody.


July 21, 2002

Less need to rant today--the front page of the New York Times has been doing a pretty good job of it lately. Some of the headlines:

***

I take that back--check out this quote:

If there's a future terrorist attack in America "and they come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights," [U.S. Civil Rights] Commission member Peter Kirsanow said.

That's from the Detroit Free Press. Kirsanow and another member of the commission were in Detroit defending the Bushies response to 9/11. Kirsanow went on to say that internment camps for Arabs are a distinct possibility.


July 19, 2002

Drum and Dummer: The Dow goes down and down, so the talk of war goes up and up. W was at Fort Drum today drumming up support for his criminal first-strike policy, and, appropriately enough, reiterating his opposition to the International Criminal Court.

***

Bush released from jail. The smallest-time crook in the family is the one who got locked up, though not for long. I'm still wondering when the law requiring relatives of drug offenders to be evicted from government housing is going to get Jeb Bush kicked out of the governor's mansion. Heck, even uncles shouldn't be exempt, especially ones who stole elections to get into their fancy government homes. You've got 'til Monday, George!

***

I was volunteering in a booth for the Ann Arbor Ad Hoc Committee for Peace last evening at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. We were getting people to sign a petition opposing war against Iraq. We got lots of signatures. I didn't get any nasty remarks, although I saw a few Bush-like smirks on a few Bush-like faces. I know this is Ann Arbor, not Mobile or Peoria or Denver, but it was still encouraging to see so many people actually opposing the insanity of needless war. And one of the artists stopped by to sign the petition and told me this joke: "What's the difference between Jimmy Carter and Jeb Bush? Answer: Jimmy Carter was smart enough not to let his idiot brother run for president."

***

Beef Recall: ConAgra is recalling 18 million pounds of beef. According to the article, the beef was produced between April 12 and July 11. How much of that April beef do you think they'll actually get back? I'm sure some of it was frozen and might still be around, but most of the April, May and June production has probably been consumed by now. For those of you still eating meat (I've been a vegetarian since December), aren't you glad to know that industry and the government are right on top of the food quality issue?

***

So where do I want all this to go? I wonder myself sometimes. I read the news, looking for some new evil or silliness on the part of the Bushies that I can rant about. But how do I want things to turn out? Do I want W to be impeached or resign? Yes, but Cheney has to go with him. A Cheney administration would be just as evil but much less entertaining. Do I want the "War on Terrorism" to fail? No, I want it to stop. It's going to fail anyway. Terror is a response to aggression and repression; by employing these tools to defeat terrorism we are guaranteeing that terrorism will continue.

In a relatively simple sense, I would be pleased to see public opinion changed to the point that people would be clamoring for a large tax on gasoline and other fossil fuels. A $5 per gallon gas tax would seriously rearrange people's priorities, making expenditures on mass transit preferable to buying SUV's. It would practically eliminate our need for foreign oil and fighting wars for it. It would give the environment a chance. It would work in the so-called free-market system, and it would place the higher tax burden on those who are using the most services. People could still drive, but they wouldn't do so frivolously, and they certainly wouldn't consider 30-mile commutes acceptable anymore. Obviously this won't be possible with a Bush in the White House.

In a more revolutionary sense, I hope someday to live in an America that is sustainable, where food, clothing, shelter and health are the important things, not money, jobs, earnings or capital gains. Things would be produced only when needed, not just to keep the economy going. This certainly will require even more than a new president--it will require changing the "United We Stand" attitudes of millions of Americans and their indoctrination that our current American economic system is the best possible way to go. Frankly, I don't know what would be the best way to get there, but I know that the Bushies are taking us in exactly the wrong direction.


July 18, 2002

Yeah, right, it's Clinton's fault:

"Take a look at this realistically; when did this corporate abuse start?" said Ronald Eibensteiner, the Minnesota Republican chairman. "It didn't start when George Bush became president. If there ever was a decade of greed, it was the 1990's when Bill Clinton was president. There was this whole culture of, if you can get by, that was O.K. And if you got caught, just stonewall. When the president of the United States, Bill Clinton, did that, other people began to think, `Hey, we can do that.' " --from http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/18/politics/18REPU.html

Other people like, say, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of the Army White, SEC Chairman Pitt, and of course W himself. When the Republicans are in power, they are eliminating the rules. When they are out of power, they are breaking the rules.


July 17, 2002

Good scathing editorial from the Boston Globe about Ashcroft's Operation TIPS. I don't get it. Ashcroft lost his bid for re-election to a dead man. He was then appointed Attorney General by a man who lost an election to a man barely alive (Al Gore). Ashcroft was confirmed by the Senate by a narrow margin. While he was busy going after compassionate doctors in Oregon and whores in New Orleans, an agency in his department (the FBI) was missing all of the clues about the upcoming terrorist attacks. With a mandate and record like that, how can he get away with trying to turn this country into one with all the religious tolerance of Saudi Arabia, all the privacy and civil liberties of the old Soviet Union, and all the guns of Afghanistan?


July 16, 2002

Read item four on this page. Maybe I'd better be more careful with my jokes about the Sesame Street connection. You might be seeing an on-location O'Reilly Factor straight from Oscar's garbage can on FoxNews one of these nights.

***

Don't believe anything he says! George W. Bush is a sleazy influence peddler who steals from the public for the benefit of himself and a few buddies. You can be sure that there is an ulterior motive to everything he does, and it sure isn't the general well-being of the American public.


July 15, 2002

``I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban last year from about August to November. During the course of doing so I carried a rifle and two grenades,'' [John Walker Lindh] said.

``He will now spend the next 20 years in prison -- nearly as long as he has been alive,'' Ashcroft said.

One guy from California takes some faith-based initiative, and this is how he is rewarded. There are plenty of oil executives and CIA guys who provided much more support to the Taliban than Lindh did: how do they plead? I find it hard to believe that the government accepted this plea; Lindh volunteered to join the Taliban before they were declared to be enemies of the US. I don't know exactly what the law is about US citizens volunteering for foreign armies, but I'm pretty sure that there are plenty of former "soldiers of fortune" living freely in the US today, voting Republican. And for Ashcroft, Mr. NRA, to gloat over someone being convicted on a weapons charge...

I mean, really, they only had a case against Lindh if they could show that he meant to fight against Americans. He has pleaded guilty to two offenses which are arguably not crimes at all.

***

One more step towards our very own Gestapo: Operation TIPS. Better learn how to fix your own gas, water, and electricity. The utility company repair person may well be an Ashcroft deputy who will report you for having "Nader for President" buttons or boxcutters lying around. Next thing you know, you get that knock on the door at 3 am.

***

Don't miss Tom Tomorrow's blog (link) about Halliburton selling pulse neutron generators to Libya.

During his chairmanship of Halliburton, Cheney criticized U.S. sanctions against "rogue" nations such as Iran and Libya in a 1998 speech. According to a July 26, 2000, Washington Post story, Cheney complained the sanctions "are nearly always motivated by domestic political pressure, the need for Congress to appeal to some domestic constituency." -- from the Washington Post


July 14, 2002

It's the stupid economy: Americans work more than anyone so that they can buy more, drive more, waste more, and pollute more. Much of what we do is pretty unnecessary, and a lot of it is downright bad for the world, the environment, even for us. Politicians of all sorts are always claiming that jobs are the key issue: we can't restrict pollution because it will cost jobs, etc. But we have enough stuff to last a long time, food does grow on trees, and there are other things to do besides work. Let's chill awhile and figure out a way to get us all fed, housed and clothed without destroying the earth in the process. You obviously don't have to work to healthy and wealthy. I mean, just look at George W. Bush! Multimillionaire, seven-minute miles, never worked a useful day in his life.

***

Okay, let's look at the numbers:

Total deaths in US from terrorism in last year: about 3,300.

Total deaths in US from gun violence (homicides, suicides, accidents) in 2001: over 30,000.

Total deaths in US from auto accidents in 2001: 41,730.

The response: Tens of billions of additional dollars for the military for the "War on Terrorism," restrictions on many of our civil liberties, with the notable exception of our gun rights, and official government encouragement to buy cars to keep America rolling. We can debate whether the response to 9/11 was due to the emotional and spectacular nature of the attacks, the fact that foreigners were more to blame than Americans, or whether it was cynical opportunism on the part of the Bushies to do what they wanted to do all along (my guess). What seems beyond debate to me, however, is that the response is completely out of proportion to the real threat to America from terrorism when compared to the other, more mundane threats that we live with (or die with) all of the time. The "War on Terrorism" is political grandstanding of the worst and most criminal type. Well, maybe not quite the worst. There was a provocation, and Osama was apparently in Afghanistan at some point, so maybe there was the slightest excuse for pulverizing that poor country one more time if you were willing to ignore the less violent and probably more successful approaches available. The last and next wars against Iraq are actually the worst and most criminal types of political grandstanding.

***

Ayez un jour heureux de Bastille! Have a happy Bastille Day! (Translation courtesy of AltaVista.) Do you think there will ever be a Guantanamo Bay Day? (Not that I'm suggesting it, Dick, so just chill! Go back to your undisclosed location and count your Halliburton thefts.)

***

Bush gets reports from his new corporate fraud task force: Good cartoon!

***

More Sesame Street innuendo: Have you ever seen VP Cheney and Oscar the Grouch together? That on those rare occasions when the Veep from the Deep is presiding over the Senate that Oscar never seems to be in his garbage can? Today's innuendo is brought to you by the letter "W."


July 13, 2002

Good Ted Rall cartoon today.


July 12, 2002

Halliburt 'n' Ernie: While Veep from the Deep Cheney's old company is trying to cover its accounting tracks, it is also covering its debts through its huge defense contracts, courtesy of the friggin' "War on Terrorism." Remember Bert's links to Osama? Rumor has it that there appears to be a secure, undisclosed location down on Sesame Street, and Ernie is frequently seen running in and out, then heading to the airport. Kind of makes you wonder. And where was Big Bird on the morning of September 11?

***

The Don't Tax But Spend a Lot Republicans are back! $165 Billion deficit this year, or about $620 for every American. Better throw in a little extra for those CEO's and corporations that won't be paying their share. Maybe you can get a loan from your company. All so we can break up wedding celebrations and spread cluster bombs and depleted uranium around South Asia and the Middle East as payback for the nasty things done by those 19 guys who just happen to be completely dead already and who were from totally other countries from where we are bombing. But to show you that they care, the Bushies are planning on spending a bunch of that money they don't have to give you all the attention you could ever want, and then some. Smile for the camera! And don't forget your local Mom & Pop agribusiness on the corner, not growing soybeans to protect our freedom for only a few billion dollars. God bless 'em!

***

``I am not the Statue of Liberty." --Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, joking about the cast on his hand after thumb surgery.

Well, no kidding, Rummy! We've already got a Statue of Liberty, although your buddy Ashcroft is trying to have it torn down. How about modeling for a new "War Crimes Monument?" You'd be perfect for that.


July 11, 2002

Facts on the Ground. I've ranted about it before, but every time I'm out in what used to be the country I am shocked to see more six-bedroom mansions on acre lots being built. These houses are a quarter-mile from their nearest neighbors, several miles from schools and shopping, and probably 20 to 40 miles from the workplaces of the people who are paying on that $400,000 30-year mortgage. I hate the loss of open space, I hate the increased traffic, I hate the wastefulness of it all. Worst of all I hate that the people who live out there will be dead set against any changes which threatens their way of life. They will oppose higher gas prices and taxes, they won't support funding for mass transit in cities (or for anything at all in cities), and they will support any moron politician willing to go to war to keep the oil flowing to power their SUV's and air conditioners. These developments are much the same as the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Once people live somewhere for a while, they believe they are entitled to live there forever and will be adamantly opposed to anything, no matter how necessary, that threatens to force them out. Sprawl is a direct threat to our environment and to anyone living in a real city. If the stock market really crashes and takes us into depression, the buyers of these starter mansions will likely lose one or both of the incomes paying the mortgage as well as the mutual fund wealth backing it up. While I dream about the day when most of these developments have been torn down and returned to farms or forests, I shudder to think about the ugly battles, political and real, between now and then. And every day that the realities of environmental degradation, global warming, and resource depletion are ignored means that those battles will be that much uglier. And the mansions in the countryside are the facts on the ground that guarantee that the battles will be ugly.

*** 

Dan Quayle was George H. W. Bush's life insurance policy. In a different way, Useless Dick Cheney is W's. Read all about the Veep from the Deep here. It would be hard to imagine a worse president than W if it weren't for Cheney. I guess Ashcroft would be pretty scary as well. Lucky us! We've got them all! :-(

***

Looking for sovereignty in all the wrong places: While the Bushies insist that future American war criminals be immune from prosecution at the International Criminal Court, they continue to support NAFTA, the WTO, and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) "free trade" agreements. These agreements give a practical veto power to any company in a member country on federal, state or local laws concerning the environment, labor rights, consumer protection, or anything else which could possibly cost the company a few more dollars than operating in, say, China. It even seems possible that someone in Canada or Mexico may object to some of W's proposed laws to curtail corporate fraud using NAFTA. He may even know that, or even be encouraging it. "See?" he'll say, "I tried, but free trade is important to our country, so what can I do?" If it comes to this, I hope that Congress and the US public are smart enough to realize that the new laws should stay while Bush,  NAFTA and the WTO are sent to be tried by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. See Bush Invokes Sovereignty Wrongly, Sacrifices It Recklessly... for more on this subject.


July 9, 2002

Oh where, oh where has the anthrax news gone? And how about the intelligence failures preceding September 11, including Rumsfeld's canceling of the Predator following Osama bin Laden and Ashcroft's cutbacks in funding for counter-terrorism? Or the shadow government? Or all the Enron crooks still working in the administration? The illegal detention of hundreds, including several US citizens? The brutal treatment of POW's in Afghanistan? The stupid Pledge of Allegiance is more important than all this stuff?

***

And now for something really funny: George W. Bush lecturing Wall Street on ethics and corporate responsibility! No really, he did!

***

Coming soon to a freeway near you: Nuclear waste! Thanks to the Republicrats in the Senate, including Michigan's own deplorable Carl Levin. I sent Carl "W" Levin an e-mail tonight, and I'll share it with my reader(s) (anyone still out there?):

Senator Levin:
I am very upset by your vote in favor of the Yucca Mountain scheme, as well as your vote against increasing CAFE standards and your unwavering support for the ridiculous "war on terrorism." Frankly, I think you should be running in the Republican primary on August 6. I will be voting for the Green Party candidate in November, as I won't be able to bring myself to vote for either of the Republicans on the ballot. Of course, if you lose in November President Bush will probably put you in the cabinet, just as he did with Michigan's last rejected Republican senator.
Sincerely,
Bob Goodsell

(That rejected senator, by the way, is now Energy Secretary Spencer "W" Abraham.)

***

One nation under God: An 11-year-old was badly beaten by a Baptist pastor and his brother in Texas. Can't leave all the fun to the Catholics, I guess. Also, one more reason to kick Texas out of the Union. The biggest one left Austin a year and a half ago to inflict a bit of Texas on all of us.

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 blog (link) where 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

Bush Asks for Limits on Plant Emissions 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 (senator@levin.senate.gov) and Debbie Stabenow (senator@stabenow.senate.gov). 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:bob@goodsells.net?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.
(from http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/12/international/12CND-VENE.html)

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.

One thing I read about the Middle East situation that I hadn't heard before was that there have been three elements to the cycle of violence, not the two that are commonly discussed. The Israelis assassinate a Palestinian leader, the Palestinians respond with a suicide bomber, and the Israelis come back with the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The article I read didn't supply a lot of evidence, but it seems that the assassinations are generally left out of the discussions. Most US TV coverage reports it, of course, as suicide bombings leading to reprisals.
Then there is the hypocrisy of the Bushies railing against Iran, Iraq and Syria for allegedly fueling the violence by providing arms to the Palestinians. Rummy was trying to beat the Iraq drum again yesterday. I guess most of the American public is too stupid to recall that the US and Britain have many, many more weapons of mass destruction than Saddam Hussein could ever dream of, but I think most of the rest of the world is fully aware of the hypocrisy. ("Stupid White Men" discusses the general ignorance of the US populace in some detail.)

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

I went to the Sweetwater Cafe in downtown Ann Arbor this morning because US Representative Lynn Rivers was having an informal chat session. It was encouraging to hear that her views are fairly close to mine, but depressing to hear her say how little power she actually has. I always figured that if enough people could convince a congressperson to take up a cause that something might actually happen. But she and Representative John Conyers have been pressing the INS and the Justice Department for months about clarifying the Rabih Haddad case: either charging him with something and prosecuting or deporting him, or letting him go back to his home here in Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, they've gotten almost nowhere. Rivers and Conyers won their elections in 2000 while Ashcroft and Bush lost theirs (Ashcroft lost in a landslide to a dead man), but Ashcroft and Bush have way more power than our elected representatives. So much for democracy, I guess.

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 two).
 

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 thought.  
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

From MSNBC/Newsweek:

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 us