Saturday, September 27, 2003

General Clark speaks

The much quoted phrases by which Wesley Clark praises Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld et al, is found in the middle of this speech, given at a Republican fund-raiser in May, 1991. Okay, so I don't like the company Clark kept, and some of his phrasing is corny as hell, but on balance, I can live with what he said. Certainly, since I'm a member of AnybodyButBush, I can live with it a hell of a lot better than I can with the incumbent.

A dose of sanity, a lesson in arithmetic

No, Tribune Bremer, this ain't no Marshall Plan for Iraq. Not by a long shot. Do the math. (Scroll down to "L.A. Times readers have it nailed" post.)

And for another comparison of the Marshall Plan to Tribune Bremer's giveaway, check out the International Herald Tribune.

I ain't no conservative, but...

I couldn't said it better. (And note the date--87 billion dollars ago.)

Friday, September 26, 2003

Ah, The Game's Afoot

This from the NYT, buried at the bottom of the article: The discussion of Russia's hope that Bush will agree to let Russia have access to Iraq's oilfields, as Russia had previously agreed with Saddam Hussein, in exchange for Russian troops as peacekeepers in Iraq. Of course this was denied by all, but a Russian businessman spoke frankly: "Mr. Alekperov said that he knew of no such quid pro quo of oil for Russian military help, but did not discount the possibility of Russian troops going to Iraq at some point. Sending troops, he said, "is a political question. But if oil contracts go through quickly, we would have lots of Russian oil specialists on the ground, and every country should be able to protect its own people."

More Reserve Troops to Iraq?

Yahoo! News - U.S. May Send More Reserve Troops to Iraq

It's only been weeks since Rumsfeld was over there, boppin' around in Tikrit like a little Caesar, and we were all told that we had plenty of troops in Iraq. Ooops, watch where you step. Another load of BS.

One thing about this administration, they're keeping the country well fertilized.

Wisdom from Egypt

These quotes from Egypt's Foreign Minister ring true about Iraq. "They will not be a model [for democracy], and no model will be imposed on them." And "I don't think that countries are eager to be models."

A democracy arises from the people--as it proclaims in our Declaration of Independence. It's not a concept that flows down from higher authority.
I predict--actually, I know, as does any other sane follower of current events in the Middle East--that if the US really does "withdraw" from Iraq at some point (which by the way I doubt--our presence there in the form of bases and military authority will be felt eternally) within weeks there will be chaos, including violence, upheaval and, very likely, a reversion to the tribal battles and mad power-grabs that led to Saddam's accretion of authority in the first place.

This policy of Bush's is so sad, so tragic, so stupid. For us, for the Iraqis, for the world. As the Egyptian Foreign Minister said, "Let Iraq be itself."

Like father, like son

A Newsday article from 1991 details Bush's distortions and exaggerations of intelligence before the Gulf War. Amazingly congruent with the events of twelve years later.

Body Count

Remember, I wrote that the number of killed would surpass the number of firefighters killed at ground zero? 343. Wish I hadn't written that.

"Let's count the bodies over again.
If we could only make the bodies smaller
We could fit
A body into a finger-ring for a keepsake forever."

-- from Counting Small Boned Bodies by Robert Bly

Do not weep.
War is kind.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

But Who's Counting?

Today we reached and exceeded 2,000 casualties in Iraq. That's not Iraqis--that's the good guys: soldiers and sailors of the UK, USA and a few other nations. Total killed since the invasion began=359. Wounded=1644.
I don't hear any brass bands, I see no flags waving. In fact, most of the soldiers have been hauled secretly to a stateside hospital to be sliced and diced and fitted with plastic limbs, then shipped home as damaged goods--or in a body bag.
Two thousand. You'd think somebody'd notice.

Colin Powell, Liar

For too long we've allowed Colin Powell to skate, but no longer. All the others have a justification (however demented) for their perfidy. Cheney, money. Rumsfeld, power. The NeoCons, fanaticism. Rice, pandering. Bush, ignorance. But Colin Powell, our above-the-fray Secretary of State, what about him? Why would he lie about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? With his stellar background, how could he lie?

So far, he's skated. But the fact is, even more persuasive during the lie-up to the invasion of Iraq than Bush's speeches was Powell's dog-and-pony show to the Security Council: Mock-ups of mobile labs, audiotapes of hushed phonecalls--a skit replete with crude props. But it turns out Powell was lying through his teeth then, and in a later UN appearance--and he knew it.

But why? Colin Powell's got a hell of an Army pension, could earn fabulous honorariums, sit on numerous Boards and Foundations? Why lie, why sell his soul?

From my lawyering days, I recall this remark by an older practitioner. "The most dangerous liar is the one who appears to have no reason to lie and gives no hint of it. No bias or prejudice to use as ammunition for cross-examination, no twitch of lip, no shifty eyes. To defeat such a liar, there is only one tool, one weapon: the facts.

Unreality TV

According to the Nielsens, Monday's interview by Brit Hume (also known as Bush Bootlicker) of President Bush on the Fox network finished dead last in the ratings for that time slot, behind some lame comedies and an NFL game that was a thirty-point blowout. Now, if it had been a reality show, maybe...

"That is a sorry state of affairs," said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. "I think most people, when they heard that the interview was going to happen, just assumed they weren't going to hear anything new that they hadn't already heard."


Ham-fisted authority

Tribune Bremer, who previously disbanded the Iraqi Army (thereby loosing hundreds of thousands of armed young men, jobless, on the Iraqi citizenry) has, as previously reported, ordered a full-scale opening of Iraq's commerce to foreign private ownership. I previously argued that this was hypocritical--hardly the considered act of a democratic authority--and now the Guardian, in an excellent analysis, points out that it will spell economic disaster for Iraq, as indeed it did for the former Soviet Union twelve years ago.
Isn't anybody thinking out there?
I gotta say, I feel sorry for the Iraqis, really do. They've got to be feeling more frustrated than I do--and that's hard to imagine.

A World Gone Mad

The enlightened West, having "won" a war that supposedly freed Afghani women from Muslim fundamentalist laws that they cover their bodies with bhurkas, a German court has ruled that school authorities in individual communities may bar Muslim women teachers from wearing head scarves during class.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Global Gag Rule

... is cruel, utterly lacking in compassion. It's not religious conservatism, it's fascist fundamentalism. Where have we heard that before?

Is there no limit?

These guys who are calling the shots in Washington must be strung up. Now we learn that Bush's anti-abortion policy--denying US funds to third-world health providers that provide prophylactic advice--is closing clinics in Africa, thereby denying health care, including AIDS care, to thousands of Africans because the clinics counsel use of condoms to fight the spread of the disease.
This is the same compassionate conservative who announced in his State of the Union address that he was committing $15 billion (none of which has been spent yet) to fight AIDs in Africa. This is so sick, so demented, I can say no more.

Iraq on eBay?

Damn, it looks like it's gonna go for more than my credit limit.
Update: The eBay police have apparently discovered this product and removed it from the bid. Too bad, too late. The successful bidder was the American taxpayer.

Rockin' In The Free World

We got a thousand points of light
For the homeless man
We got a kinder, gentler,
Machine gun hand
Got a man of the people,
says keep hope alive
Got fuel to burn,
got roads to drive.

[Neil Young]


Check out metaphor tonight. Blogger's going to town on George W. ... Check out this great, funny column by Molly Ivins. ... Check out Poets Against the War, protest in Washington 10/25. ... And as long as you're in a surfing mood, here's Howard Dean.

Riverbend scores again

This story ("For Sale: Iraq") on the Baghdad Burning blog parallels the efforts of the Iraqis (Check out the "Fly on the Wall" post below) who arrived in Washington, D.C. just about now, seeking to bypass Bremer's bureaucracy and rebuild Iraq using Iraqis. What a concept. And how well conveyed by Riverbend.

Falling flat

One benefit of not having a television is listening to, rather than watching, speeches. I've heard Bush's last two speeches, the hastily-called address about two weeks ago when he assured us all was well in Iraq, and all he needed to rebuild it and Afghanistan was $87 billion; and today's address to the General Assembly of UN, where he said all was still going swimmingly in Iraq, and BTW, "buddies, can you lend a hand?"
The Guardian's headline for its story about the latter is "Bush Isolated as Speech to UN Falls Flat." Well, having heard his speech--as well as Kofi Annan's and Jacques Chirac's--I couldn't agree more. It was an uninspired, rambling mumble about nonproliferation of weapons, trafficking in sex-slaves, a few other things, all mixed in with a grumble or two about the needs of the Iraqis for help in becoming a free nation.
Really a boring presentation, as was Bush's truculent demand for the $87 billion two weeks ago.
Here's my observation: We know nothing about Bush's character. After all, he's never been tested, never faced adversity. He's been bailed out of every tight spot he's ever been in, and here he is again. How does he perform when there's no daddy or fellow-traveling businessmen to come to his aid?
Here's my question: Could it be Bush has lost his taste for this job? I'm not suggesting he'll decide not to run in 2004, but it's possible we could see a different, much less convincing and--frankly--attractive Bush in this campaign than when it was all new to him. Certainly when he faces the personalities of Dean or Clark, as opposed to Gore, we'll see what he's up to. I have my doubts he'll do well in such a setting. It may be too difficult for him. He may, as they say in sports, "just mail it in."

Monday, September 22, 2003

Credit where credit is due

I consider myself an original thinker about matters political, and I surely have spent much time on the subject of Iraq and Bush and cabals and the like. But this piece in Newsweek online, at the tail end, provides an insight I've missed. After all is said and done, with all the latest revelations and admissions by Bush/Rumsfeld, the only remaining reason for invading Iraq was to show the world, and the Middle East in particular, that we were not to be messed with; to display our might after the attack on our nation by lesser powers. And that proof--that we are invincible, indominable--is about to evaporate when Bush returns tomorrow to the UN, hat in hand, tail between legs, and asks our "allies" to help us with the war we cannot win alone.
So--that leaves us, after billions of dollars and thousands of lives, with a net zero. Indeed, some might say, with a net loss of those millions and thousands.
And with Saddam in hiding and Osama still on the loose, plotting.

A potent sound bite

"American Family Voices" doesn't sound like my kind of group, but their TV ad, (click on "see the ad"), to be displayed in several states in the upcoming weeks, is my kind of ad, powerfully presented. It reminds us that when we write out our checks for taxes, instead of our money going to fund health care and schools and infrastructure in the US, it's going to Halliburton. "Remember, when you make out your check, Halliburton has two L's," it says, quoting David Letterman.
I wish "American Family Voices" had a trillion bucks and could smear the ad on every TV in America. I wonder, now that the ad's been created, whether a well-funded peace coalition could find a way to buy it and spread its quick, incisive message further.

Silly gooses

I apologize to my co-blogger, Kyle, and to all of you loyal readers and posters, especially C., the dogged researcher who blew the whistle on us for perpetuating the fake video. Well, apologize might be the wrong word. Perhaps, laugh-my-ass-off is better.
Of course I knew the video of those idiotic Americans was a put-up job. That kid who answered the question about the "Axis of Evil" with "It starts with us, right?" is my brother in law. I was just testing you out there in cyberland, to see if you were paying attention. I promise not to do it again, now that I know the breadth of our readership. I have a responsibility to you millions, and will hereafter act accordingly.
Uno problemo: When I post items about George Bush's idiotic failures as leader of our nation, will you no longer accept them as truth? Maybe not, but then, maybe I don't either. Nobody's that stupid.

How stupid are we? Don't answer that!

A Comment from Alert Reader Chris:

In re: Our General Stupidity

This video with people answering questions about international affairs is bogus. It's put together by a psudeo-news network called CNNNN (I was suspicious of the video because of the logo on the background screen).

Go to the video page at (link is in the row of buttons at the top. But be sure and read the 'About button first) and you'll find this video. Note CNNNN claims to be a subsidiary of ChaserCorp. I google-searched ChaserCorp and got some hits. Their supposed home page pretty funny. See it here

Note that a multi-billion dollar corp. uses a domain name. Among the other hits was this,5942,7010577,00.html

which seems to indicate the whole thing was a hoax.

So do you think it was posted at as a joke?


----- * * * -----
Kyle's response:

No blogger likes to perpetuate a hoax. We're sorry we did. Erik suggested we make with the apologies, so consider that done. However ... (ahem) ... I maintain that there may be more truth than hyperbole in that video, fraud or not. I'll bet they could just as easily have found people who really don't know Kofi Annan from cafe latte, who don't know Israel from Afghanistan, etc. We've all seen Leno do his street interview bit. Please remember that Bush still enjoys a 50% or better approval rating. [Source] The air is still charged with free-floating stupidity. Present company excepted. Peace.

Follow the cell phones

The longstanding, nascent question of whether Iraq's cell-phone system will be "rebuilt" as compatible with the US-based system or the every-other-civilized-nation (including Iraq's previous) system is the bellweather. Interesting to see in which direction that falls.
Also, Bush's demeanor in front of the General Assembly tomorrow will be telling. Humble, deferential? Texas bully? Lying slimeball? A bit of each?
I'm hoping the cellphone question is resolved in favor of our US system, and that George W. presents himself as exasperated and disdainful. I want him booed, actually. May have to watch TV, if I can find a sportsbar that will put it on. Possible, because there's no games on that matter. I checked.

Fly on the wall

I would love to hear the Senators' reactions to the presentations of the Iraqi leaders, who are doing an end-run around Tribune Bremer and his minions, and traveling straight to D.C. to present their case: Complaints of egregious overpricing and excesses by CPA personnel, unnecessary delay and expense in rebuilding; all in support of their pleas that their companies be allowed to undertake the"reconstruction" of Iraq, with less expense and more quickly.
An irresistible presentation, made at the perfect time: When Bush is asking for help at the UN; and his request for $87 billion is pending before Congress. How embarrassing. How delicious, to hear precisely how mean and corrupt our capitalist Administration is.
No, I don't want to be a fly on the wall. I want to squat in the middle of the conference table, holding a microphone.

Hello--Anybody home?

Last weekend, Tribune Bremer ordered the "free-market reform" of the Iraq economy, allowing foreign investment, including 100% private ownership, of almost all facets of its commerce. Only "natural resources," i.e., oil, was exempted, doubtless because that would have raised too much noise right now, and besides, I'm sure the private oil companies would rather wait until we taxpayers pay Halliburton to get the damned system fixed before they jump on the resultant huge asset like buzzards on roadkill.

This economic development is a complete about-face from the state-ownership policy that had been in force for decades in Iraq. Not only will it lead to a draining out of Iraq of the profits of the most lucrative businesses, (which are the only ones that might attract foreign capital), it flies completely in the face of the concept of Iraq for the Iraqis!

The various news reports of this order by Bremer consistently use the phrase, "economic reform." Well, I'm no economic historian, but isn't that the same phrase that was used to support (a) deregulation of the electric-power system in California; and (b) regulation of lobbying and campaign contributions; as well as the corporate-finance abuses of the past two years? Doesn't the word "reform" depend upon point of view? Is wholesale capitalism, especially foreign-owned capitalism, necessarily a "reform" of state-regulated, domestically-owned, commerce? Would it be a "reform" for Rupert Murdock to acquire BBC? Or Donald Trump to gain title to the Brandenburg gate?
But here's what's even more amazing. In the reports so far, I've heard not a squeak of protest that such a gigantic change in the day-to-day, as well as the mega- operation of the entire nation, was made by Tribune Bremer's unilateral decree. Not even debated by the CPA (as if that mattered, since Bremer appointed them--but not even presented to them for rubber-stamp)! Isn't this just such a decision that Iraq is supposed to make for itself, as part of the "democracy" we're supposed to be installing?

With a stroke of its pen, America has completely altered a foreign nation's economic system, as the occupying power, in the name of "reform," and as part of that nation's course toward democracy. If this is not the height of hypocrisy, if it's not the arrogance of empire, I don't know what is.

So near indeed

The Enunciator was right across the road from my home. I could have walked over there and let my dog take a pee on his shoes.

I can't believe some people are stupid enough to protest at a campaign speech. If you disagree with a candidate, don't vote for him, get out and campaign for someone you support. Waive a sign, as Erik suggests. Trying to shout the candidate down is undemocratic. Getting arrested is absurd. Some of those morons were actually protesting his Humvee. Talk about unable to see the big picture.

I shouldn't be surprised. But whenever I see one of those video clips where people on the street are quizzed on their general knowledge, I'm shocked. The one under Erik's One Man One Vote entry is appalling. Are we a nation of morons?

So near and yet...

I guess Kyle and I aren't on Ahnold's mailing list: We missed this event, scarcely a mile down the coast from our Sunday morning coffee session. Damn, I even had a placard to wave. And I have the feeling that's the last time we'll see Mr. Schwarzenegger around here for a while.

One man one vote

Each of these people has the capacity to cancel out my vote. No wonder I'm thinking of moving--except that I'm not sure it would be different elsewhere. The only answer that was accurate (besides, perhaps, "Linda Blair's brother") was the fourth response to the question, "What's the axis of evil?"

Bush starting to question advice

Oh man, I feel for the guy, I really do. It is so hard to get good help these days. My newspaper winds up in puddle, I order iced tea and it shows up weak. Just the other day ... Erik will verify ... some doofus left the bacon chunks off my cobb salad. But the worst, the very worst, is when my advisors, supposedly pros, lead me blindly into a misbegotten, ill-conceived, war.

Things just have a way of stacking up, you know? First, there's a 3 day weekend, the garbage guys push pickups back a day, and the garbage piles up in the dumpster behind my condo. I steal an election, get a couple years of really crappy advice, and the funerals start backing up at Arlington. What's a president to do?

I don't know, but somebody's looking at a mighty small tip over this.

Headline: Bush starting to question advice from some top aides

If I'm confused, imagine how the Pentagon feels

If you believe Knight-Ridder, Bush is ready to kick butt, to clear the Pentagon of all those neo-Nazis who got his ass in this Ircrack. But as he prepares to do this, he's also going to tell the UN General Assembly that the invasion and aftermath have proceeded hunky-dorey and all we need from our friends is a few billion dollars and a few thousand troops and all will be well.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

I love the Internet

Where else can you get tabloid stories like this without owning a television or standing in a supermarket checkout line? I will, however, eat my cyberwords if Saddam Hussein does indeed show up alive and well in Belarus.