Saturday, March 22, 2003

This Is What Democracy Looks like  

New York City 3.23.03

[UPDATE] Over 100,000 to 200,000 were there!

[UPDATE] When 5,000 antiwar protestors showed up in the early days of the protests, no one bothered to cover them. So why was this covered?

[UPDATE] A letter to the New York Times

To the Editor:

I must strongly object to your characterizations of the peace marchers in New York on March 22, 2003 ("On New York's Streets and Across the Nation, Protesters Speak Out" March 23, 2003):
The marchers included plenty of the sort of people who turn up at nearly all New York protests: young women with green hair, young white men with dreadlocks, self-styled anarchists carrying black flags. There were people complaining about the "corporate media," the plight of the Palestinians, capitalism, imperialism and several other isms.
This is the sort of wholesale malarkey the New York Post cranks out with far more enjoyable idiocy than you. Worse, it is not even remotely true.

The crowd was, in fact, a cross-section of New York: mothers with infants, Christians, Muslims, Jews, business executives, students, artists, old people, young people, white people, black people, teenagers, 9/11 survivors and so on. I saw not a single example of the sorts Leslie Eaton reports "plenty" of. Question: did she bother to keep count? I did see one fellow with (horrors!) spiked hair - they, too, are part of New York - but most were people just like you, and just like your reporter, albeit with better eyeglass prescriptions.

Ms. Eaton complains about all the variety of complaints people voiced, as if we lacked a clear reason for actions and not the administration, as if even the Washington Post hasn't admitted its pro-war bias*, as if even Bush the younger doesn't recognize the importance of the Palestinian issue, as if this war isn't mostly about oil and empire.

You still don't understand what is going on. "Thousands" haven't been marching and writing letters and petitions. Millions have. These aren't hippies or losers. The protest against the war is one of the most vitally important movements in the world in years and it is not going away. If you don't take it seriously, you are willfully ignoring an important historical moment, the moment when information technology has begun to make the promise of democracy real.

You also appear to be operating under the illusion that the protests have no intellectual weight. You seem unaware that the antiwar protesters clearly do not represent the 45% of Americans that base their opinions on the false belief that there were Iraqis on the 9/11 planes. We read, watch, and listen carefully to the news. Please do the same for us and learn why we are spending an otherwise beautiful day packed like sardines into 38 city blocks.

As for genuine substance to the protest, you clearly are unaware of the numerous brilliant essays and position papers written to protest the rush to war (for example, got to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for some of the finest analysis of the middle east situation available). These were composed not by the Chomskys of the left but by far more "mainstream" analysts. These are emailed among antiwar protesters almost as if they were a cyber version of samizdat, writings as banned from public discourse in the US as Havel's and Kundera's were in Czechoslovakia 20 years ago.

I'll be very curious to see how you cover the pro-war rally in Times Square today. At the time, had you covered the Miami-Dade County riot in 2000 objectively, by noting that most of the rioters who shut down a legal vote recount were Republican aides**, perhaps we wouldn't be in the awful mess we're in today.



*See Washington Post "Connecting the Blips" March 14, 2003

**Regarding the "Brooks Brothers Riot" in Miami-Dade County, 2000 see these articles:

NY Times
Time Europe

Also, for an article that names the names of the rioters, how much they were paid, and by whom. see:

Consortium News

What Do We Do Next? An Occasional Series  

Unfortunately accomplishing this will not be easy. Here’s some thoughts regarding strategies, inspired by the current discussion that’s starting up regarding the utility of protest marches.

Demonstrations - They are very important. First, they are an opportunity for the world, including Bush, to understand how deeply people feel about certain issues. However, Feb. 15 was a onetime show. Unless the US is dumb enough to start using nukes (which MOAB and Shock and Awe are designed to emulate without crossing the line), the demos will not approach those numbers for a while.

The demos should morph into a regular schedule of get togethers on a small scale. These should not have the flavor of an intense political gathering, although that is the acknowledged purpose. They should be joyous affairs, fun for kids as well as grownups, more like parties than political rallies. The point is to build a solid sense of a community that is active politically but recognizes that this kind of activism is a normal part of life.

Since most of us who marched already agree on many issues beyond stopping the war (pre-emptive war is crazy, abortion rights are important), lectures and exhortations at such get togethers are not necessary. Instead, petitions to sign, emails to send, group cellphoning of politicians should be part of the meetings but no the main focus. This will enable them to become events to look forward to, not an obligation.

Shaping the Message - Recently I read a well-meaning article which talked about what would happen to the antiwar movement when Bush wins the war.

Wrong. Bush is a loser.

No sane individual believes that Saddam won’t fall, but that is not a victory for Bush. To characterize the invasion of Iraq as a Bush triumph is to talk on his terms, not on reality. War is always a failure, a failure of perception, a failure of diplomacy, a failure of intelligence. The moment the bombs fell in March, Bush lost.

Bush lost in Afghanistan as well. The replacement of the Taliban with warlords has resulted in no improvement to the human rights of the Afghans. Once again, Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium in the world. And even the CIA admits that scattering al Qaeda to the four winds has complicated, not simplified the hunt for the leadership.

Short version: do not give an inch to Bush. Shape the message so it always reflects the reality that Bush’s activities always lead to disaster.

Impeachment Initiative - It just isn’t going to happen. Yes, I think Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, et al deserve it, but it is unlikely to take place without a major criminal scandal, far worse than Nixon’s. Even then, it will be nearly impossible to bring him down this way as the courts, and the media, are stacked against it.

Third party candidates - The short version: vote for whomever is the Democratic candidate for president.

Long version:

I would dearly love a real opposition party to develop in the United States but it isn’t going to happen on the national level anytime soon, unless there is a seachange in the political discourse. While working for something like that is an admirable goal, we have the more immediately pressing goal of removing the worst president in our history from office. Unless there is an independent/third party candidate that would win by a landslide, a third-party vote is a vote for Bush. Remember, the Bush campaign actually funded Nader activities in Florida. The Democratic nominee may be the worst of the crop - I can guarantee that the Bushites are doing everything they can to destroy any effective Democrat in the run up to the primaries - but that is the nominee who we will have to vote for if we want to remove Bush.

In other words [INSERT NAME OF LEAST INSPIRING MOST CENTRIST DEMOCRAT HERE ] would make a far better president than Bush. We must vote for him or her and not be influenced by the boilerplate sneering that will be bruited about. Remember that Gore had delusions of grandeur, that Gore could not be trusted to tell the truth, that Gore was wooden and stiff? Not a single piece of the accepted wisdom about Gore was true! In fact, they all accurately described (and describe) Bush far more accurately than Gore. So why did everyone accept such wisdom? Well, that’s the reason the Republicans need so much money for their candidates, to influence the press.

Boycotts - These can be very effective but the targets must be chosen carefully and the pressure must be unrelenting on advertisers.

Petitions, Email, Phone Calls - These, too are very important. They are far more effective than either the media or the press are willing to admit openly. One example: Phil Donahue was fired from MSNBC and replaced by a rightwing bigot calling himself “Michael Savage” (real name “Weiner”). Savage was targeted by Left Blogistan (i.e., the anti-war, anti-Bush blogging community) for a boycott of advertisers. Within the first week, his tv show lost every national sponsor as a direct result; his show is already in trouble.

This kind of effort should continue, focused on the most egregious examples of wrongdoing by the right. The war, the propagation of hateful ideas (Limbaugh) are natural targets. There are other ones as well. The idea, however, is not to target injustices because they are injust. There are thousands of them. The idea is to target injustices that the larger community of Americans are prepared to wholeheartedly support. The Iraq war was/is one of them. Another are the stealth extremists like Estrada. It cannot be stressed enough: this kind of effort must concentrate on examples of right wing extremism that as many people as possible can agree on.

Every effort should be made to streamline the process of participating. Emails should be harvested and formatted for easy posting. Links should be collected. True Majority and MoveOn have the right idea here. But there’s more that can be done.

Overall Political Strategy - There is no reason to compromise or concede anything to Bush and his minions. There is simply nothing to be gained. They don’t do it. Why should we?

This means that if the Bushites nominate 100 judges that are rignt-wing lunatics like Estrada, the Senate should tie up 100 nominations. If the Bushites nominate a moderate, they should be carefully vetted for whatever biases they may have and approved if they have been objective in their past work.

Voting - All of us must vote, of course, but there’s more that can be done. In the swing states (those that are not solidly bush), more voters must be registered. Furthermores, these voters must show up and vote on Election Day ‘04.

Therefore, I am collecting a list of swing states and will post information regarding voter registration efforts in those states. I am looking into volunteering in this effort. Also, if it is possible to do so, I will fill out an absentee ballot, travel to the nearest swing state on Election Day and help drive voters to the polls.

Will such efforts help? Of course they will: that’s why Republicans have always opposed motor voter and other initiatives to simplify voter registration. Will they ensure Bush’s defeat? Well, it can’t hurt and it could be an enjoyable experience, a short focused vacation. Instead of going to the Galapagos and trampling up what is supposed by a pristine environment, go to Pennsylvania and meet some farmers, or elderly folks with neat stories to tell.

And help them get our country back.

Liberal Media Initiatives - If there’s the money to run it at a loss into the foreseeable future, a wide diversity of shows for radio and tv should be funded. There should be attack dogs like Michael Moore or Randi Rhodes on the air nationwide every day. Amy Goodman’s show should be enthusiastically funded. In addition, thoughtful commentators such as Krugman, Mathews and many others should either be regular guests, hosts, or part of roundtables. There is a dearth of even centrist commentary on TV and radio today. The development and placement of effective spokespeople and material should be a priority.

Some random ideas here, which I will add to:

Children’s books with heroes for our time. Coleen Rowley and Brady Kiesling come to mind as exemplary role models.

Knowledgeable talk show hosts that, a la the British, are prepared to refute distortions of the guests.

A regular news column that “fisks” the political spin. (Fisking is a blogging term that refers to taking an opponent’s argument apart sentence by sentence.)

Direct Action - Originally, I believed that civil disobedience and direct action was important and even considered participating. While I would it consider it an honor to be arrested by the Bush administration for protesting their policies, the truth is that it will not accomplish very much at all in terms of broadening support. Also, unless it is economically effective, as the Southern boycotts were in the sixties, they will be dismissed. Unless there are clear, specific, realistic goals that have a great deal of popular support, direct action does more for the sense of self-righteousness of the participant than it does to advance the effort to get rid of Bush.

That said, there is no reason for anyone to go out of their way to condemn the direct activists. The right wingers can and will do a far more effective job than we can in that regard. Our attitude should be, yes, that is not the best way to redress grievances, but once can understand their frustration because no one in government or the press is listening to us.

Funding - We are underfunded. There are no Scaifes on our side and nowhere near the deep pockets of the right wing’s business people. There is, however, more that can be done with micropayments on the web without being tacky or pushy. For example, at the moment True Majority allows you to store your personal info so that all you need to do to sign a petition is enter your email address and click “sign.” There is no reason why this could be adapted along the lines of the model of “one-click.” When you sign up for True Majority, you have the option of storing credit card info and a suggested contribution per activity at the level of your choice which you can always opt out of paying.

So, when you sign the petition, you have the option to “one-click” it as well and your card is charged a nominal amount, say $1-$5, which is a contribution to the group, a candidate, a good cause, whatever. If the process is streamlined, voluntary, inobtrusive, and easy to override and opt out of, many people will agree to use it.

Friday, March 21, 2003

The Compassionate Conservatives Eat Their Own  

This story in the Washington Post was pulled from late editions to make way for more war porn, according the paper. Yeah, right. Like no one at the White House threw a hissy fit.
Although all administrations use political muscle on the opposition, GOP lawmakers and lobbyists say the tactics the Bush administration uses on friends and allies have been uniquely fierce and vindictive.

* * *

Although all administrations use political muscle on the opposition, GOP lawmakers and lobbyists say the tactics the Bush administration uses on friends and allies have been uniquely fierce and vindictive. Just as the administration used unbending tactics before the U.N. Security Council with normally allied countries such as Mexico, Germany and France, the Bush White House has calculated that it can overcome domestic adversaries if it tolerates no dissent from its friends.

In recent weeks, the White House has been pushing GOP governors to oust the leadership of the National Governors Association to make the bipartisan group endorse Bush's views. Interest groups report pressure from the administration -- sometimes on groups' donors -- to conform to Bush's policy views and even to fire dissenters.

Often, companies and their K Street lobbyists endorse ideas they privately oppose or question, according to several longtime Republican lobbyists. The fear is that Bush will either freeze them out of key meetings or hold a grudge that might deprive them of help in other areas, the lobbyists said. When the Electronic Industries Alliance declined to back Bush's dividend tax cut, the group was frozen out when the White House called its "friends" in the industry to discuss the tax cut, according to White House and business sources.

* * *

"I think this monomaniacal call for loyalty is unhealthy," Moore said. "It's dangerous to declare anybody who crosses you an enemy for life. It's shortsighted." Leaders of three other conservative groups report that their objections to Bush policies have been followed by snubs and, in at least one case, phone calls suggesting the replacement of a critical scholar. "They want sycophants rather than allies," said the head of one think tank.

Corporations are coming under increasing pressure not just to back Bush, but to hire his allies to represent them in meetings with Republicans.

* * *

"There is a perception among some business interests there could be retribution if you don't play ball on almost every issue that comes up," Dooley said.

The Bogus Huge Coalition  

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a news conference on Thursday: "The coalition in this activity is larger than the coalition that existed during the Gulf War in 1991."

But the facts put out by the administration itself suggest otherwise.

In 1991 at least 33 countries sent forces to the campaign against Iraq and 16 of those provided combat ground forces, including a large number of Arab countries.

In 2003 the only fighting forces are from the United States, Britain and Australia. Ten other countries are known to have offered small numbers of noncombat forces, mostly either medical teams and specialists in decontamination, making a comparable alliance of about 13 countries.

U.S. officials have named 33 countries which support the U.S. invasion of Iraq but this includes countries which are providing overflight and basing rights and which are giving only diplomatic or political support for the invasion.

President Bush said on Wednesday that 35 countries have chosen to "share the honor" of supporting the campaign but U.S. officials could not name more than the 33.

They say some 15 other countries are cooperating with the U.S. war effort behind the scene, mostly by giving access to bases and airspace, but they do not want to be named.

In 1991 the United States and its allies did not count countries which provided overflight rights or political support because the campaign had the overwhelming support of the U.N. Security Council, which had voted 12-2 for the use of force.
via Cursor

Look Beyond the War to 2004  

Some good advice from Timothy Burke.
You can only prepare to exact a political price from the people who led us so poorly to this point, and to do that, you need to make the war a bigger issue than the antiwar.

* * *

The "direct action" visions [i.e. civil disobedience] circulating out there now are not about building the largest possible coalition of opposition to the Bush Administration, not about building a political consensus, not about laying the groundwork for 2004.

If you really care about opposing the war, you need to put your own selfish needs to proclaim your virtuousness aside and keep your eyes on the prize. Large public gatherings that are respectful, quiet and rhetorically modest would be a good thing, sure, but for the moment, little more than that.

* * *

It’s not about stopping the war. It’s about what comes afterwards.

* * *

Prudence, patience and planning are what’s needed now. That’s what has worked for the Republican grassroots: ever since Barry Goldwater’s defeat, they’ve been organizing steadily, laying down deep connections with actually existing communities, thinking about what kinds of rhetoric carries water in the public sphere, and disciplining or ignoring errant nutcases and fringe elements. If you want to exact a price for this war, led in the way that it has been, you’re going to have to be similarly focused.

via Tapped

[UDATE:]Digby adds an essential piece to the argument.
It is very disheartening to read all these admonitions to this nascent antiwar movement saying that the participants are somehow being unserious.

We have spent years bemoaning the fact that people are politically disinterested, that voters are apathetic, that they don't feel they have a voice. Now, when rather large numbers of Americans have left the comfort of their homes and their shopping malls to make a sincere statement alongside a bunch of strangers, liberals behave as if it is nothing. Outside of college campuses, the fact is that street protests don't happen very often in America. Unlike in Europe, general strikes and large political protests are not a big part of our civic life. So, when it happens we should really take a good hard look at why. And we should pay special attention when the people who are protesting are average Joes and Janes who work for a living and have kids and own houses. Because that means that Americans are waking up and starting to pay attention.

Telling these awakened liberals that what they are doing makes no difference and that they should instead volunteer for a candidate and write a check is not exactly inspiring. But, getting citizens involved through a feeling of solidarity with millions of people all around the globe just might have the salutory effect of making a percentage of those protesters decide that they will write a check and walk a precinct in order to elect a candidate they believe in --- or to stop the war --- or to punish Bush.

* * *

Telling these newly galvanized Democrats that the only way they can legitimately express themselves is through the ballot box --- particularly in this day of manufactured, pre-fab campaigning --- is a very self-defeating idea.
We need to get our blood up if we expect to beat back the flag-waving cavaliers of the Republican party.
This is exactly right. The marches are important because they give people a sense of community and solidarity. (They could serve to do that in more ways, but suddenly there's a sense of being part of a nationwide, if not worldwide, political viewpoint). These marches plus doing something for a candidate that will defeat Bush (contributing time, funds, voter registration, etc) are what's needed.

And more thing. We need to direct our critical gaze outward at Bush and the extreme right wing, not focus on doctrinal purity. The important thing to remember is that any non-Republican elected in '04 will be better than Bush.

W-A-R Spells "Relief" Again  

Well, probably not in Baghdad right now, but at least here it does, once again:

Jacksonville Business Journal
Although a sense of anxiety about the war was pervasive, it was accompanied by relief the months of indecisive diplomatic maneuvering have finally ended.

Lansing State Journal

Mid-Michigan meets conflict with anxiety, fear and relief

[Levi Hart, a student a Michigan state said,] "It's at the point now where you want to see it happen instead of just sitting here and waiting."
"I'm glad to see it started," said Lowe, 27. "Life was on hold waiting for this to start."

NY Times
Investors, it seemed, were caught between relief that the war had begun, and uncertainty about how it will play out.

Pantagraph News
"It's almost a relief that we are out of that limbo of not knowing if and when it was going to start," McLean said. "I just hope it gets over with soon."

Sacramento Bee

Some relief that action finally here

In the hours before attacks on Iraq began, some military families and personnel at Travis and Beale Air Force bases on Wednesday greeted the news of imminent war with a strange sense of relief.
[1st Lt. Angela Arredondo, a spokeswoman at Travis Airforce Base] added that word of President Bush's war deadline Monday was met with relief by some personnel.

I Blog It, You Decide  

The New York Times headline from the homepage at 6:11 AM today:

G.I.'s and Marines See Little Resistance
As Troops Push From Kuwait Into Iraq

From the article:
As the first of some 20,000 soldiers from the Third Division poured across the border, Iraqi resistance was light.
But our friends across the pond beg to differ:
The BBC's Adam Mynott, who is travelling with the marines, says the convoy was attacked with small arms fire and missiles just a few yards inside the Iraqi border.

There has been much stronger resistance in this sector of the battlefield than many in the US-led forces had expected, our correspondent says.

British artillery was called in from northern Kuwait to bombard the Iraqi positions, while the convoy was forced to retreat.

1000 Arrests in San Francisco Alone  

Good for them. No one's advocating violence, least of all me. But the ratcheting up of a response to the start of the war seems to have grabbed the attention of the press. What they haven't realized is that those willing to get arrested are just the tip of the iceberg.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

One Lie Every 45 Seconds  

So calculates The Weekly Lowdown regarding last night's communique from Fearless Leader. He goes thru the speech with a fine tooth comb and finds 20 lies. Actually there's a few he misses I think. I can't resist quoting the ending, but you should read the whole thing.
So, everybody who voted for this miserable excuse for a human being - are you pleased with what you got? Is he really more truthful than Clinton?

Some Good News  

It looks like the Democrats are getting serious about blocking crazy judicial appointments. I guess they finally realized that not only are they bad for the country but, considering what happened in 2000, bad for them as well.

via Atrios

The Pro-War Bias At CNN  

This stuff is so common now that I've just dropped all the pro-war bias into a little box called "uber-lies" and ignore it most of the time. It's good to see that someone else has noticed that the very fabric of the news coverage is biased so deeply that there is simply no way that all of it can be addressed at once.
You might support the war in Iraq. You might believe there's a better way to disarm or displace Saddam Hussein. Patriots of all political stripes have debated -- and will continue to debate -- the complex tangle of threats, promises, brinksmanship and alliances leading up to the conflict.

Just don't expect to hear much of it on the cable news channels.

CNN's coverage has tilted noticeably toward the war in the last few weeks, both in the monochromatic opinions of the majority of its guests and in the unabashed advocacy from some of its own anchors and correspondents.

After Bush's speech Monday D1 night, the sole dissenter on the "Larry King Live" studio panel, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., was tag-teamed by three Republican colleagues, all of whom took turns advancing the president's position.
But when it comes to full-throttle violation of the traditional lines dividing news from commentary, it was impossible to eclipse the efforts of "Moneyline" host Lou Dobbs.
Dobbs was particularly egregious last week, when he hosted Darryl Worley, the country musician whose song "Have You Forgotten" proposes that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, give the nation plenty of justification for the coming war.

And while it's one thing for Dobbs to congratulate Worley for his "wonderful" song and its "compelling" and "powerful" lyrics, it's something else altogether for him to accompany Worley's performance of the tune with a video montage coupling the horrors of Sept. 11 with shots of American soldiers preparing for battle.

Viewed together, scant moments after Dobbs' fiery editorial denouncing the United Nations' attempt to rein in the United States, the images are nothing short of incendiary.
If he wants to advance a particular philosophy, he's more than welcome to run his "commentary" sign on the screen and say what's on his mind. But using powerful, disturbing images to leverage a partisan position about a prospective war in Iraq -- in the course of what is supposed to be a news program -- reveals a dismaying lapse in news judgment.

Sleight of Hand  

Now's the time to watch what the Republicans do very carefully.
The House voted overwhelmingly today to make it harder for people to eliminate their debts by filing for bankruptcy, heeding complaints from lenders and businesses that the system is being abused.
Opponents of the measure, adopted 315 to 113, said it was flawed and ill timed because it could fall hardest on people already struggling in a troubled economy.

* * *

Some Democrats, joined by consumer groups and labor organizations, said the measure was a bow to politically influential banks and credit card companies. The opponents said the lenders contributed to the problem by making credit too easy to obtain and already profited substantially from that part of their business.

``This is purely a bill by and for the large credit card companies and big banks,'' said Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of Brooklyn, who offered a Democratic alternative that was soundly defeated.

Dumbest Headline of the War  

There's going to be a lot of competition in the stupidity category in the coming weeks, but a few hours in, there's already a leading contender:

March madness takes back seat to Bush speech

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Who would make a better president: Bush or...  

This, as they say, is a no brainer.


Former Vice President Al Gore Joins Apple's Board of Directors

Glad They're Catching On  

Joe Conason gets it:
Today's lead story in the Wall Street Journal confirms what many observers have suspected for months now: The Bush administration has never taken the diplomatic alternative seriously, and the pretense of doing so has been scripted by the vice president from the beginning. The former Wyoming congressman is an unreconstructed, old-fashioned right-winger with about as little respect for multilateral organizations and alliances as that old John Birch Society bumper sticker, circa 1962: "Get the U.S. Out of the U.N."
I was saying this back in October.

The Most Trusted Man In America Speaks  

The "most trusted man in America," retired CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite, put aside his journalistic impartiality Tuesday night and issued a blistering dissent to President Bush's decision to wage war with Iraq.

At a Drew University forum, Cronkite said he feared the war would not go smoothly, ripped the "arrogance" of Bush and his administration and wondered whether the new U.S. doctrine of "pre-emptive war" might lead to unintended, dire consequences.

"Every little country in the world that has a border conflict with another little country … they now have a great example from the United States," Cronkite, 86, said in response to a question from Drew's president, former Gov. Thomas Kean.

* * *

"The arrogance of our spokespeople, even the president himself, has been exceptional, and it seems to me they have taken great umbrage at that," Cronkite said. "We have told them what they must do. It is a pretty dark doctrine."

Cronkite chided Congress for not looking closely enough at the war and attempting to ascertain a viable estimate of its eventual cost, particularly in light of Bush's commitment to tax cuts.

"We are going to be in such a fix when this war is over, or before this war is over … our grandchildren's grandchildren are going to be paying for this war," Cronkite said.

* * *

But Cronkite, who spent many days and nights on battlefields and in campgrounds with U.S. forces, also spoke of supporting the troops.
"The time has come to put all of our, perhaps distaste, aside, and give our full support to the troops involved. That is the duty we owe our soldiers who had no role in deciding this course of action," Cronkite said.

The 30 Nations In the Coalition of the Willing?  

Yup, it's a lie.

Oh My God  

That's right. There's actually a site that sells right wing ice cream. This does NOT appear to be a joke or hoax. Via Tom Tomorrow, the great cartoonist, whose job gets harder and harder by the day. Or does it get easier?

The Best Feminazi In the Biz  

Randi Rhodes
You know what does amaze me? People reference Orwell all the time. 1984. But when I ask them about the "Ministry of Truth" or "Room 101" they get caught. Listen, read the thing. Read THAT book. Not because Orwell was clairvoyant, but because, Poindexter read it, Ashcroft read it, Cheney read it, Karl Rove read it, Condi read it, and they love what totalitarianism does to ordinary people.

* * *

So now we have this Office of Total Information Awareness, straight out of Orwell. Just go to the website (here). Tell me you aren't just a tiny bit freaked by their job description: "Story telling, change detection, truth maintenance." One of my very favorites is "Other aids for human cognition and human reasoning." Holy shit. The press doesn't touch it and it's there on government stationery? "

BUZZFLASH: Explain the allegations that Rush Limbaugh has stated, that if Clear Channel syndicated your show, he would take his program to another company. Could there be a Democratic or Progressive Rush Limbaugh type personality on the airwaves?

RHODES: Not at Clear Channel.

First, let me tell you where the story came from. I had two meetings with middle managers who both liked me and what I had done for our ‘pod'. (At Clear Channel the territories are split up into ‘pods'.) In two separate meetings I was told "The Rush story." Additionally, I should never expect to be syndicated by Clear Channel because Rush had said he'd just do what advertisers do. He'd go somewhere else. I was an unknown, he was a known.

I begged for and got (6 months later) a meeting with a senior manager. He told me the "Rush story." So that's where it comes from.

Now, when Oliver North was on the air, he stated that Rush was syndicated because Rush was a better talent and got better ratings. (This is insulting because of the fatness of the lie) . . . I then told him that Rush had threatened to take his show elsewhere if I were to be syndicated by Clear Channel. He said "I've heard that but I can't comment." So everyone does seem to know "The Rush Story." (North and Rush are friends).

* * *

Ask yourself, why does ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) advertise? Do they want to sell you a soybean? Why does Boeing advertise? Are you gonna' buy aircraft? Aircraft parts? GE the largest defense contractor wants to sell you a light buld and/or a missile? And then there's BASF — they don't make anything! They just make it better. Uh huh. They're buying CONTENT. Millions and millions of advertising dollars DO affect the message you get. It controls the news that is reported and the news that is NOT.

* * *

I know that the Bush administration is about as Republican as I am. Seriously, they are not Republicans.

* * *

Jeb [Bush,)] has literally lost and/or can't account for the whereabouts of more than 3,000 kids in his care. He then hired a kook named Jerry Reiger who believes that beating a child until you raise welts is the best way to teach him right from wrong. Tim Russert was the moderator and asked NO question on the topic.
If you want to hear her, they stream her show live (and there's also archives here. I heard the Oliver North interview (well, most of it) and she tears the guy apart. She's 100% right. It's not my taste as I don't like talk radio period, but she's very, very good at her job. And it's a pity it's only broadcast in one market.

UPDATE: I decided to add a link for 1984 because I'm reading it now. Lo and behold, I learn there's a new edition coming out with a forward by none other than Thomas Pynchon. Perfect.

Kiesling: "I Was Appalled."  

Interview with Brady Kiesling, a career diplomat who resigned and wrote a magnificent letter. From Salon. If they keep it up, I just might have to subscribe!
At first, Kiesling's resignation received minor play from the Beltway press. The New York Times covered the story in 400 words, while the Washington Post gave it just 100 words. (The Post's ombudsman recently concluded that the decision was an oversight.) Time magazine ran a lengthy interview, but it was only printed in international editions.

* * *

What has been the reaction to your letter?

It's interesting. First of all, thanks to the Internet, it spread much more widely, much more rapidly than I had any conception of. It sort of broke free of my traditional understanding of how newspaper and television determine public opinion.

* * *

What did you want to accomplish when you decided to resign?

I was completely appalled [by direction of US foreign policy].

* * *

So before you resigned you were working out of the embassy in Athens, and part of your job was to deal with Greek diplomats, explain the American position, and try to calm fears. What was your take on the talking points you were working with?

The talking points were pretty pathetic. They may work at home, but they do not work with an audience of sophisticated people who have some experience with the world...

There was a tactical argument that I used quite a bit and it's a very powerful argument because it's true. And that argument was that the only way you can prevent war with Saddam is by convincing him we are ready to go to war.

That's a valid argument, but it's only valid if there is a corollary, which is, if Saddam does comply we aren't going to war. But it became absolutely clear that the worst thing that could happen from our point of view would be if Saddam did comply and we didn't have to go to war.

Because that wasn't an option that was palatable to this administration.

* * *

Why do you think Bush is pursuing this war?

I'm frankly at a loss. I think he feels an incredible moral responsibility not to have another 9/11 happen again. Since he is not intellectually equipped to understand why such a huge part of the world could have these negative feelings about us, he's looking for a simple answer; and I think he's been manipulated by his Cabinet.

Why do you think Secretary of State Colin Powell has signed off on this war?

Powell has been fighting rear-guard action [against hawks inside the administration] all along. Partly he's dealing with a president who apparently tunes people out if they disagree beyond a certain point. And also I think his instinct is to be a loyal soldier. And that's one of the key issues here.

So much of the debate in the United States is not a debate over interests, but a debate over loyalty; are you loyal to the president or not? And put in those terms, the sort of pack mentality does prevail. I guess you could argue that the good of the group requires solidarity in the group, even though that solidarity leads the group to do something insanely stupid.

* * *

Terrorism is always out there. You can try to address the root causes and improve law enforcement. We cannot totally protect American people from terrorism except by a level of repression that Americans would not accept. The answer to terrorism is mostly good policing, law enforcement and intelligence cooperation between us and, ideally, relatively strong and organized Middle Eastern states.

Too Late  

It's interesting, I suppose, but no longer relevant.

Missing Bill of Rights copy recovered

via Counterspin

FAIR Documents News Media Bias In Favor of War  

We know this already but it's good to have a specific study to point to. Again, Atrios who is more and more invaluable, posted this.
Network newscasts, dominated by current and former U.S. officials, largely exclude Americans who are skeptical of or opposed to an invasion of Iraq, a new study by FAIR has found.

Looking at two weeks of coverage (1/30/03-2/12/03), FAIR examined the 393 on-camera sources who appeared in nightly news stories about Iraq on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and PBS 's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. The study began one week before and ended one week after Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 5 presentation at the U.N., a time that saw particularly intense debate about the idea of a war against Iraq on the national and international level.

More than two-thirds (267 out of 393) of the guests featured were from the United States. Of the U.S. guests, a striking 75 percent (199) were either current or former government or military officials. Only one of the official U.S. sources-- Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.-Mass.)-- expressed skepticism or opposition to the war. Even this was couched in vague terms: "Once we get in there how are we going to get out, what’s the loss for American troops are going to be, how long we're going to be stationed there, what’s the cost is going to be," said Kennedy on NBC Nightly News (2/5/03).

* * *

Overall, 68 sources, or 17 percent of the total on-camera sources, represented skeptical or critical positions on the U.S.'s war policy-- ranging from Baghdad officials to people who had concerns about the timing of the Bush administration's war plans. The percentage of skeptical sources ranged from 21 percent at PBS (22 of 106) to 14 percent at NBC (18 of 125). ABC (16 of 92) and CBS (12 of 70) each had 17 percent skeptics.

Justice Bans Media From Free Speech Event  

Truly bizarro
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia banned broadcast media from an appearance Wednesday where he will receive an award for supporting free speech.

The City Club usually tapes speakers for later broadcast on public television, but Scalia insisted on banning television and radio coverage, the club said. Scalia is being given the organization's Citadel of Free Speech Award.

``I might wish it were otherwise, but that was one of the criteria that he had for acceptance,'' said James Foster, the club's executive director.

The ban on broadcast media, ``begs disbelief and seems to be in conflict with the award itself,'' C-SPAN vice president and executive producer Terry Murphy wrote in a letter last week to the City Club. ``How free is speech if there are limits to its distribution?''

The City Club selected Scalia because he has ``consistently, across the board, had opinions or led the charge in support of free speech,'' Foster said.

Once again, via Atrios

Hoo Boy  

No, this is not The Onion. This is real.
If the nation escalates to "red alert," which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says.

"This state is on top of it," said Sid Caspersen, New Jersey's director of the office of counter-terrorism.

Caspersen, a former FBI agent, was briefing reporters, alongside Gov. James E. McGreevey, on Thursday, when for the first time he disclosed the realities of how a red alert would shut the state down.

A red alert would also tear away virtually all personal freedoms to move about and associate.
"Red means all noncritical functions cease," Caspersen said. "Noncritical would be almost all businesses, except health-related."

A red alert means there is a severe risk of terrorist attack, according to federal guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security.

"The state will restrict transportation and access to critical locations," says the state's new brochure on dealing with terrorism.

"You must adhere to the restrictions announced by authorities and prepare to evacuate, if instructed. Stay alert for emergency messages.
I suppose I should thank Atrios for bringing this to my attention. But I'm too scared.

Cowards Attack Veteran  

A marvelous blog called Daily Kos collected recent quotes from the GOP's never-ending attempt to smear Daschle. It seems, finally, to be backfiring on them.

Tom Daschle, a Vietnam veteran, said:
I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country.

Then Speaker Hastert, who never served, responded with Republican attack boilerplate:
I was disappointed to see Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's comments. Those comments may not undermine the president as he leads us into war, and they may not give comfort to our adversaries, but they come mighty close.
And Ari Fleischer, another coward that never served added to it:
[Daschle's] essentially blaming President Bush for the fact that we may be on the verge of war.
Astute Ari Followers will note, as Kos noted, that this is one of the rare times Fleischer has told the truth.

But mirabile dictu, Daschle actually showed some spine!
Well, I stand by my statement. I don't know that anyone in this country could view what we've seen so far as a diplomatic success. A diplomatic success is what we saw in 1991. A diplomatic success is getting a broad coalition of countries. We had nearly 20 countries in 1991. A diplomatic success is having 200,000 international troops present instead of the 225,000 U.S. troops, which are present today.

A diplomatic success is getting other countries to pay 90 percent of the costs incurred. All of that happened in 1991; none of that is happening in the year 2003. Let me just simply say, as a veteran, there is no question that I stand strongly with the troops. I always will. I feel very strongly about our obligation to support the troops, and I have said in every way, shape and form that will continue. But I do think we have to be honest and open in a democracy.

I think to do anything less is unpatriotic. And I'm going to continue to speak out where I think I have a responsibility to do so.
Incredibly, another Dem also backed up Daschle, Nancy Pelosi:
In expressing his views, Tom Daschle is being patriotic. The Republican leaders are being partisan.
Well, the Daschle/Pelosi responses win no awards for memorable or stinging ripostes, but at the very least we can be thankful that they didn't ignore the attack (or another one from insect-Mengele Tom Delay, who also didn't make it into armed service). At this rate, it's possible the Dems may actually grow enough of a spine to be in contention in '04.

The Lemonade Stand  

If there is a dumber Times op-ed columnist than Tom Friedman, I've not read him/her. Here he is setting forth what his column will do:
But here we are, going to war, basically alone, in the face of opposition, not so much from "the Arab Street," but from "the World Street." Everyone wishes it were different, but it's too late — which is why this column will henceforth focus on how to turn these lemons into lemonade. Our children's future hinges on doing this right, even if we got here wrong.
What a callous metaphor to pick when talking about an unnecessary war that will kill thousands of children. But, let's accept it for one second:

Tommy, the only way the lemons of the last 2 1/2 years are turning into lemonade is to fire the little boy who runs the stand. Everyone but you knows it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Answering to a Higher Authority  

The Vatican ( news -web sites ) said on Tuesday countries that decide to wage war on Iraq ( news -web sites ) without a global consensus must take responsibility before God and history -- making clear the Pope would not endorse their actions.

"Those who decide that all peaceful means that international law makes available are exhausted assume a grave responsibility before God, their conscience and history," said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

The Pope has it right.

via The Horse.

FBI Illegally Opening Journalist's Mail  

Glad to see that this story wasn't completely lost in the fog of war.
The U.S. government's seizure of a copy of an 8-year-old unclassified FBI lab report mailed by an Associated Press reporter in the Philippines to a colleague in Washington was ``a clear case of media repression,'' a Philippines media group said Tuesday.
The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines called the September incident ``theft'' and said it views the case as ``symptomatic of a worsening crackdown on press freedom, a disturbing trend given the U.S. government's claim to be the world's chief proponent of freedom and democracy...''

``The government had no legal right to seize the package,'' David Tomlin, assistant to the AP president, said last week...

``What the FBI did was ... utterly deplorable, and an insult to all freedom-loving Americans and non-Americans alike,'' Rep. Imee Marcos said Friday...

In May 2001, the U.S. Justice Department subpoenaed Solomon's home phone records concerning stories he wrote about an investigation of former New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli.
It is amazing that more wasn't made of this. It's been out for quite a while now. And it's all part of a consistent administration pattern to subvert a free press.

More Good News  

GOP Fails to Break Judicial Filibuster

Good News, For a Change  

Republicans Resigned to Defeat on Alaska Wildlife Refuge Drilling Plan
Senate Republican officials said today that they had been unable to muster enough votes to begin oil drilling in the Alaska wildlife refuge, probably dooming the signature energy plan of the Bush administration.

Michael Moore's Letter To Fearless Leader  

Alternet Two highlights, but read the whole thing:
As Bill Maher said last week, how bad do you have to suck to lose a popularity contest with Saddam Hussein?

Of the 535 members of Congress, only ONE (Sen. Johnson of South Dakota) has an enlisted son or daughter in the armed forces! If you really want to stand up for America, please send your twin daughters over to Kuwait right now and let them don their chemical warfare suits. And let's see every member of Congress with a child of military age also sacrifice their kids for this war effort. What's that you say? You don't THINK so? Well, hey, guess what – we don't think so either!

Robin Cook's Resignation  

The resignation letter of Brady Kiesling was one of the greatest antiwar documents of this conflict to date. It is matched by Robin Cook's magnificent speech to parliament. You can see it here (requires Real Audio) or if you prefer, read it here.
[I]t is false to argue that only those who support war support our troops.

It is entirely legitimate to support our troops while seeking an alternative to the conflict that will put those troops at risk.

Nor is it fair to accuse those of us who want longer for inspections of not having an alternative strategy...

Only a couple of weeks ago, Hans Blix told the Security Council that the key remaining disarmament tasks could be completed within months.

I have heard it said that Iraq has had not months but 12 years in which to complete disarmament, and that our patience is exhausted.

Yet it is more than 30 years since resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.

We do not express the same impatience with the persistent refusal of Israel to comply.

I welcome the strong personal commitment that the prime minister has given to middle east peace, but Britain's positive role in the middle east does not redress the strong sense of injustice throughout the Muslim world at what it sees as one rule for the allies of the US and another rule for the rest.

Nor is our credibility helped by the appearance that our partners in Washington are less interested in disarmament than they are in regime change in Iraq.

That explains why any evidence that inspections may be showing progress is greeted in Washington not with satisfaction but with consternation: it reduces the case for war...

What has come to trouble me most over past weeks is the suspicion that if the hanging chads in Florida had gone the other way and Al Gore had been elected, we would not now be about to commit British troops...

It has been a favourite theme of commentators that this House no longer occupies a central role in British politics.

Nothing could better demonstrate that they are wrong than for this House to stop the commitment of troops in a war that has neither international agreement nor domestic support.

I intend to join those tomorrow night who will vote against military action now. It is for that reason, and for that reason alone, and with a heavy heart, that I resign from the government.

Clare Short Stays, But Two Ministers Resign  

The Times.

Post Admits Poor Coverage of Dissent  

From the Washington Post ombudsman via Cursor
In the grand scheme of things, the resignation of a diplomat, which is rare but not unprecedented, is just one small blip. What makes The Post's treatment of it noteworthy, however, is that it is part of a perplexing flaw in coverage that has persisted throughout this long run-up to a controversial war and that contrasts with the many fine reporting efforts the paper makes from here and abroad to record and illuminate what is happening...

Looking back over Sunday ombudsman columns and reader challenges during that time and up through today, there is a pattern in the news pages of missing, underplaying or being late on various blips with respect to public voices of dissent or uncertainty...

What, if anything, does this add up to? It does not mean Post news coverage is biased, although too many readers say they believe it is. They note lapses in news coverage and then assume that the paper's strong editorial and op-ed page stances are influencing that coverage. I am very confident that Post news coverage is straight, tough and fair, and that the wall between news and editorial is solid. The paper routinely contributes enterprising reporting on issues that challenge policy. For example, The Post was the first to reveal early doubts about the Iraq mission among some top active-duty military leaders.

Yet a story of this magnitude and breadth demands experienced, alert, overall guidance of coverage every day. It means not taking your eye off daily developments while working on those more enterprising efforts.

When the question is whether to go to war, when an administration can command attention any time it wants, and when military momentum is building to a point where war seems inevitable, the responsibility to be all that you can be, as the Army used to say, and to put stories before the public when they happen is much larger than the individual blips.

Star Trek is a Precog Delight  

From Tom Tomorrow via an unknown correspondent. As Tom says, this is an awesome analysis of last night's speech. But it's at least 25 years old.
The entire situation is reminiscent, as someone pointed out on Atrios, of the old Star Trek episode "Patterns of Force" (in which) Federation history professor John Gill becomes the drugged leader of a Nazi planet:

GILL: (seen on TV at a rally): If we fulfill our own greatness,
that will all be ended.
Working together --
SPOCK:: Captain, the speech follows no logical pattern.
Random sentences strung together.
MCCOY:: He looks drugged,Jim,
almost in a cataleptic state.
GILL:: ...reach our goal,
And we will reach that goal.
Every thought ...
directed toward a goal.
This planet ...
can become a paradise,
if we are willing to pay the price.
As each cell in the body ...
works with discipline and harmony for the good ...
of the entire being

Josh Marshall  

on his blog today has a long discussion of the various interpretations of the now infamous resolution 1441. Short version: it doesn't matter because Bush doesn't recognize the UN's authority. But I suppose it's worth a read if you have any doubts about Fearless Leader's integrity.

W-A-R Spells Relief!  

This is why I've grown to hate the Times. They couldn't wait to use that cliche I spoke about last month, y'know that war will come as a relief. So here's the headline:

Wait Over, Americans Voice Relief and Anxiety

The only problem is that there's no there there. Here's the only two places in the entire article that mention relief:
Jim Chamberlain would not call himself gung-ho, exactly, but he is relieved, almost, that the long buildup to war has ended...

If there is any sense of relief in the shopping centers and workplaces of the nation on the eve of a potential war, it is mixed with little of the national cockiness that many recall accompanied the prelude to Desert Storm.

I suppose the motto at the paper is don't drop a cliche just because it can't support the facts.

When a C+ Student Rules the World  

A collection of reactions to the present interesting state of the world. As you read all this, keep in mind that within 2 or 3 days, Bush plans on dropping 3000 bombs on the heads of at least 5000 children.

War in the Ruins of Diplomacy
Once the fighting begins, every American will be thinking primarily of the safety of our troops, the success of their mission and the minimization of Iraqi civilian casualties. It will not feel like the right time for complaints about how America got to this point.
Today is the right time. This war crowns a period of terrible diplomatic failure, Washington's worst in at least a generation...

The hubris and mistakes that contributed to America's current isolation began long before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. From the administration's first days, it turned away from internationalism and the concerns of its European allies by abandoning the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and withdrawing America's signature from the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court. Russia was bluntly told to accept America's withdrawal from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty and the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into the territory of the former Soviet Union. In the Middle East, Washington shortsightedly stepped backed from the worsening spiral of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, ignoring the pleas of Arab, Muslim and European countries. If other nations resist American leadership today, part of the reason lies in this unhappy history....

The Atlantic alliance is now more deeply riven than at any time since its creation more than a half-century ago. A promising new era of cooperation with a democratizing Russia has been put at risk. China, whose constructive incorporation into global affairs is crucial to the peace of this century, has been needlessly estranged. Governments across the Muslim world, whose cooperation is so vital to the war against terrorism, are now warily navigating between popular anger and American power...

The American-sponsored Security Council resolution that was withdrawn yesterday had firm support from only four of the council's 15 members and was opposed by major European powers like France, Germany and Russia. Even the few leaders who have stuck with the Bush administration, like Tony Blair of Britain and José María Aznar of Spain, have done so in the face of broad domestic opposition, which has left them and their parties politically damaged...

The result is a war for a legitimate international goal against an execrable tyranny, but one fought almost alone. At a time when America most needs the world to see its actions in the best possible light, they will probably be seen in the worst. This result was neither foreordained nor inevitable.

We Americans are the Greeks of our day, and as we now go to war, we should appreciate not only the beauty of the tale, but also the warnings within it.

[T]he Bush administration has made it clear, over and over again, that it doesn't play by the rules. Remember: this administration told Europe to take a hike on global warming, told Russia to take a hike on missile defense, told developing countries to take a hike on trade in lifesaving pharmaceuticals, told Mexico to take a hike on immigration, mortally insulted the Turks and pulled out of the International Criminal Court — all in just two years.

Nor, as we've just seen, is military power a substitute for trust. Apparently the Bush administration thought it could bully the U.N. Security Council into going along with its plans; it learned otherwise.


In August a British official close to the Bush team told Newsweek: "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran." In February 2003, according to Ha'aretz, an Israeli newspaper, Under Secretary of State John Bolton told Israeli officials that after defeating Iraq the United States would "deal with" Iran, Syria and North Korea.


Regimes that have been targeted, or think they may have been targeted, aren't likely to sit quietly and wait their turn: they're going to arm themselves to the teeth, and perhaps strike first. People who really know what they are talking about have the heebie-jeebies over North Korea's nuclear program, and view war on the Korean peninsula as something that could happen at any moment. And at the rate things are going, it seems we will fight that war, or the war with Iran, or both at once, all by ourselves.


[W]e got assertions about a nuclear program that turned out to be based on flawed or faked evidence; we got assertions about a link to Al Qaeda that people inside the intelligence services regard as nonsense. Yet those serial embarrassments went almost unreported by our domestic news media. So most Americans have no idea why the rest of the world doesn't trust the Bush administration's motives. And once the shooting starts, the already loud chorus that denounces any criticism as unpatriotic will become deafening.

So now the administration knows that it can make unsubstantiated claims, without paying a price when those claims prove false, and that saber rattling gains it votes and silences opposition.

More Bushonomics
Spiegel Inc., one of the nation's oldest catalogue operators and owner of the Eddie Bauer clothing chain, filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday after its credit card business failed, its debts mounted and sales at its three divisions suffered.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who earlier in the day had lashed out at President Bush, saying he had "failed so miserably" at diplomacy in the crisis with Iraq that the United States now stands on the brink of war

Protesters daub Sydney Opera House "No War"

Public opinion on a possible war on Iraq is divided in this nation of 20 million that U.S. President George W. Bush counts as among his "coalition of the willing", prepared to use force to disarm Iraq of any weapons of mass destruction..
Demonstration in Oz
The demonstration followed Prime Minister John Howard's statement that he was committing 2,000 Australian troops to the possible invasion of Iraq.

The premier strained to be heard over shouts of "murderer" from the public gallery as he explained his decision to MPs in Canberra.

Demonstrators outside said they were planning massive street protests across the country for the day war breaks out.


Public opinion on a possible war on Iraq is divided in this nation of 20 million that U.S. President George W. Bush counts as among his "coalition of the willing", prepared to use force to disarm Iraq of any weapons of mass destruction.

Opinion polls show about two-thirds of the public do not approve of a war that does not have U.N. backing.

Mark Fiore  

Go now for a flash treat.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Excellent Cartoon  

I think I'm panel 4. Go here now.

Doesn't Bush Know Pork Is Forbidden In Arab Countries?  

So Halliburton, Bechtel and Perle are just just the tip of the iceberg:
The Bush plan, as detailed in more than 100 pages of confidential contract documents, would sideline United Nations ( news -web sites ) development agencies and other multilateral organizations that have long directed reconstruction efforts in places such as Afghanistan ( news -web sites ) and Kosovo. The plan also would leave big nongovernmental organizations largely in the lurch: With more than $1.5 billion in Iraq work being offered to private U.S. companies under the plan, just $50 million is so far earmarked for a small number of groups such as CARE and Save the Children.
Via Josh Marshall

Fascism: Not Quite There Yet But...  

David Neiwert at Orcinus finishes up his fascism series brilliantly
...the massive propagandizing of the right against liberals generally and antiwar elements specifically is an area where a number of disturbing trends are beginning to coalesce:

-- The increasing tendency of extremist memes to appear in mainstream discourse as an acceptable version of conservative thinking, propelled especially by the now-apparent bias among most national media outlets favoring conservative propaganda.

-- Bush's purposeful projection of religious motivations for his war effort, with overt suggestions that his decisions are divinely guided.

-- The extremist right's growing identification with Bush, and their apparent willingness to use thuggish tactics of intimidation on his behalf.

-- Likewise, the Bush regime's increasingly apparent willingness to make use of such factions for their own political ends.

-- The rising demonization of antiwar liberals, complete with vicious eliminationist rhetoric.

-- The constant framing of the war in jingoistic "national renewal" sentiments, both in political and religious terms.

-- The dislocation caused by the flailing economy and terrorism fears, both of which raise the conditions under which people become willing to turn to totalitarianism.

It seems to me that these rivulets are coalescing in a campaign directed against antiwar liberals, and creating a powerful undercurrent that hasn't yet broken through the surface. What hasn't happened yet is that the thuggishness has not directed itself on any kind of large scale at all (there have only been a few isolated incidents, like the recent one in Cobb County, Georgia ); neither has the Bush regime made any kind of open signal that such activities are viewed approvingly.

If they do, then I am convinced that the nation is in serious danger of submerging under a tide of genuine fascism. And as I've been arguing all along, it won't be a fascism we can easily recognize. It won't be German-style or Italian-style; rather, it will be uniquely American -- probably, if history is any guide, one with a veneer of Christian fundamentalism, but underneath, one predicated on a coalescence of corporatist power with proto-fascist thuggery.

That said, even though the danger is clear, it's important to understand that we are not there yet. More to the point, we can stop this slide. We only need to be aware that it is occurring.

My advice would be nearly identical to that which I give those little community groups like the one in Kalispell: Stand up for democracy. Don't threaten and don't cajole. And don't back down.

Most people -- conservatives especially, who view analyses like mine as merely an attempt to smear Republicans -- are in denial about these trends. Even in Kalispell, there was resistance from many in the business community that even addressing the problem just gave the extremists free publicity -- ignoring, of course, the reality that trying to pretend them away just gives them a free ride. (Sure enough, there was no reportage on the Not In Our Town event from any of the local papers.)

I have been down that path myself. When I was the editor of the little daily paper in Sandpoint, Idaho, back in 1978-79, we made a conscious decision not to cover the activities that were taking place at that little nook in the woods 30 miles south of us called the Aryan Nations, believing that giving them any publicity would just help legitimize them. Five years later -- after a campaign of anti-minority harassment and general intimidation finally culminated in a series of bank robberies and murders by a gang of locals who called themselves The Order -- the paper's policy had wisely changed.

From my experience and that of nearly every community that has had to deal with right-wing extremism, the notion that paying attention to it -- covering both the leaders and the followers in the press, responding to them publicly -- only publicizes their kookery is a gross mistake. Remaining silent and refusing to stand up to them is not an adequate response. They mistake the silence for complicity, for tacit approval.

This is equally true of the shape-shifting "transmitters" who take extremist memes and inject them into the national discourse, often under the guise of providing "fiery" rhetoric. When the public starts calling them on the sources of their ideas, and exposing them for the coddlers of hate-mongers, extremists and terrorists that they are, then they inevitably scurry back and hide under the rocks whence they crawled out. This is already starting to happen with Michael Savage; it needs to begin happening with Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan and the rest.

Like all bullies, they prove cowards in a real fight. It's time for the rest of America to start fighting.

Those Evil Canadians  

via Tom Tomorrow
CPTnet March 14, 2003 TORONTO/CHICAGO: Canadian CPTer denied entry to USA, questioned by FBI
Matthew Bailey-Dick, 30, from Waterloo ON, was denied entry into the USA early on March 7, 2003, after U.S. immigration officials at Port Huron MI found literature from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in the trunk of his rental car. The immigration officers claimed that the CPT newsletters, printed in Chicago IL, were "anti-American." They also raised concerns about a sticker on Bailey-Dick's guitar case that read, "Question authority."

Bailey-Dick is currently studying at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries in Goshen, IN. He had been in Waterloo, ON, speaking at the church he had pastored for the previous two years--Waterloo Kitchener United Mennonite Church--about his participation in the recent CPT delegation to Iraq.

Bailey-Dick was carrying a J-1 student visa, valid until the end of August
2003. U.S. immigration officers confiscated the visa, insisting that he needed a new type of visa document. They then finger-printed and photographed him. Later that day, an immigration supervisor told Bailey-Dick that his student visa was valid, but that he was still denied entry into the USA. The supervisor said that Bailey-Dick needed to go to Detroit for an interview with an even higher-echelon U.S. immigration official.

When he arrived at the Detroit border crossing on March 8, Bailey-Dick was questioned for an hour by FBI agent Tom Morisi and immigration officer John Owen about the work of Christian Peacemaker Teams and the CPT delegation to
Iraq. They then informed him that his student visa would be reissued.

At the end of the questioning, Owen cautioned Bailey-Dick, "Don't bring any of that literature across the border any more. It's one thing for an American citizen to distribute such literature. It's quite a different thing for a foreign national to come into the USA and promote such ideas.
Unfortunately, I've heard many stories like this, from responsible people. It is going to be a very creepy time.


Looks like they're gonna start dropping like flies. Too bad for Blair, who at least has a brain.
Robin Cook has resigned from Tony Blair's cabinet as the build-up to apparent war with Iraq gathers pace.
There is speculation that International Development Secretary Clare Short, who has already threatened to resign, may follow Mr Cook onto the back benches on Monday.

The Three Stooges  

via Atrios

How Many Marched In the U.S.?  

The first halfway rigorous analysis of the actual numbers of Americans who marched on Feb. 15.
On February 15 more than 12 million people all over the world loudly and visibly said no to war in Iraq. A total of between 862,282 and 1,033,839 of these were Americans, accounting for six to nine percent of the demonstrators worldwide.

While the U.S. media focused on the two large protests that occurred in New York and San Francisco, between 222,282 and 333,839 Americans demonstrated for peace in at least 285 other communities of all sizes in all fifty states.

This study is the product of three weeks of research using national and local news sources and direct local organizer contacts...

We attempted to document every February 15 peace event in the U.S. Undoubtedly, there were many more. We welcome any information that would make this and future studies more complete (lessoilforlife @

Every attempt was made to count each protestor only once...

The scope of this story has eluded most of the U.S. news media, who generally focused on the large events in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

When they went anywhere for the big picture, journalists seem to have traveled no further than the United for Peace and Justice website , where less than two thirds of U.S. communities planning events (185) had registered them in advance. This was downsized to an estimate of "about 150" American towns and cities, a figure representing only fifty-three percent of the minimum actual number, yet this number was reported as fact on many television stations and in many newspapers.

Even the Associated Press, which employs journalists in every state, failed to assemble accurate numbers of events and participants in the days immediately following the demonstrations and in the three weeks since.

Most stories mentioned the same handful of American cities in passing, often giving no estimates at all. For example, the protest in Sitka, Alaska, was mentioned in news sources around the world, but we found no news story describing the actual event.

The definitive Associated Press story on the U.S. protests, filed on February 16 by Verena Dobnik and reprinted in countless American and international papers, noted the presence of "some 200 war supporters" disrupting the peace event in Wausau, Wisconsin, but gave no estimate of the overall size of the crowd. Only the local paper, the Wausau Daily Herald, ran a story, reporting an event attended by "as many as 1500" anti-war demonstrators.

Residents of Wausau were lucky to read local coverage of their event at all. We found numerous instances in which a city or regional paper printed a wire story describing protests in New York, London, Madrid, Paris, Rome, and Dublin and nowhere informed readers about the protest which had occurred in their own backyard...

We have discovered that television reporters, upon whom many Americans depend as their sole news source, are considerably more prone to underreport the size of the crowds than their counterparts in the print media. Time and again we threw out online local TV news reports for their drastic undercounts, once we had compared them with numbers provided by print media.

For example, we saw a beaming CNN reporter in Los Angeles on February 15 tell the anchor that she was standing in a crowd of "fifteen thousand," a figure representing half the police estimate and fifteen percent of the organizers' estimate.

How To Create Religious Fanatics  

[From an Iraqi blogger] Do you know when the sight of women veiled from top to bottom became common in cities in Iraq? Do you know when the question of segregation between boys and girls became red hot? When tribal law replaced THE LAW? When Wahabi became part of our vocabulary?

It only happened after the Gulf War. I think it was Cheney or Albright who said they will bomb Iraq back to the stone age, well you did. Iraqis have never accepted religious extremism in their lives. They still don’t. Wahabis in their short dishdasha are still looked upon as sheep who have strayed from the herd. But they are spreading. The combination of poverty/no work/low self esteem and the bitterness of seeing people who rose to riches and power without any real merit but having the right family name or connection shook the whole social fabric. Situations which would have been unacceptable in the past are being tolerated today.

They call it “al hamla al imania – the religious campaign” of course it was supported by the government, pumping them with words like “poor in this life, rich in heaven” kept the people quiet. Or the other side of the coin is getting paid by Wahabi organizations. Come pray and get paid, no joke, dead serious. If the government can’t give you a job run to the nearest mosque and they will pay and support you. This never happened before, it is outrageous. But what are people supposed to do? thir government is denied funds to pay proper wages and what they get is funneled into their pockets. So please stop telling me about the fundis, never knew what they are never would have seen them in my streets.
Read it here via Jeanne d'Arc,

Arrogant Empire  

The blogosphere is recc'ding this article in Newsweek. I skimmed it and it looks good. But the real issue is no longer this. It is how to ensure Bush is not elected in '04.

Easy Come, Easy Go  

U.S. ENDS OFFER OF $15B IN AID TO TURKEY The United States has withdrawn its offer of $15 billion to Turkey for the deployment of up to 62,000 American troops.

U.S. officials said the Bush administration has determined that Turkey failed to respond to the offer in time. Middlle East News.

Candlelight Vigil New York City  

100th St. and Riverside Dr. New York City (Fireman's Memorial)

For pics of the worldwide vigil, check out this map and these images.

Cowboy Trade Policy  

Top officials at the World Trade Organization say they are worried that the Bush administration's go-it-alone policy is threatening international trade.

In the normally closed, clubby world of the trade organization, envoys and officials said they feared that American moves within the organization and toward a potential war in Iraq would weaken respect for international rules and lead to serious economic consequences.

In the past several months the United States has compiled a long record of violating trade rules and has single-handedly blocked an agreement to provide medicines for the world's poorest nations, a rare occurrence in this institution that painstakingly builds consensus behind closed doors.

Supachai Panitchpakdi, the director general of the W.T.O., said a war could have a devastating practical impact as the world grapples with a trade slowdown, rising oil prices and rising costs for transportation and insurance.

"I can feel the sense of trepidation," Mr. Supachai said in an interview. "Whatever happens, if the U.S. will maintain the way we use multilateral solutions, it will be highly appreciated."

That delicate expression of concern was repeated by some of America's strongest allies. They said they were worried that all international institutions would suffer a loss of credibility if the one superpower appeared to be choosing which rules to obey.


Reading the Tea Leaves  

NY Times
Asked what would happen if Paris continues to threaten a veto, Blair appeared pessimistic about the chances of avoiding military action.
``It's very difficult to see how you can change that position,'' he told reporters during his flight home from the Azores.

Tea Leave Take: Blair's saying he tried, but George is a stubborn ass.

Update to the Jr. HS Gay Bashing Case  

I received a letter from a member of the School District board in the outrageous gay bashing case which I talk about here.
I share your concern as to what we're hearing about the McLaughlin
allegations...these are not the kinds of values that this school district
espouses.  Rest assured that Dr. Henderson and the administration are
looking into these charges and will react accordingly when all of the facts
are in.  Nevertheless, I must withhold judgement or other comments for the
time being, given that some individuals may ultimately come before the board
for disciplinary action.

Thank you for your concern, and I trust that the final outcome of this
unfortunate affair will reaffirm the values of freedom and democracy that we
both share.  Please note that I write only as an individual, and I don't
necessarily speak for the other members of the school board or the

Pulaski County Special School District Board of Education
I'm glad to hear this but will be following developments.

The "Moment of Truth"  

By now, we should know better, but it's easy to be sucked in. What Bush is actually saying is the Epoch of Lies is here. It's easy to forget here in Bushania (or Bushinania) that whatever Bush says that's scripted always means the opposite of what he is intending, and the opposite of reality.

Oh yes, it looks like he's serious about slaughtering Iraqi children. But it's not to make us safer. His reasons? Nothing special. As I've said earlier, it's because he can.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Bush Wants to Make the Law Illegal  

That's right. Under Bush's proposed revisions to Medicare, it would not be possible for you to use the courts t o appeal a decision. Oh, and he claims he doesn't need to go to Congress to remove your access to the law.
The Bush administration says it is planning major changes in the Medicare program that would make it more difficult for beneficiaries to appeal the denial of benefits like home health care and skilled nursing home care.

In thousands of recent cases, federal judges have ruled that frail elderly people with severe illnesses were improperly denied coverage for such services.


Under federal law, the judges are independent, impartial adjudicators who hold hearings and make decisions based on the facts. They must follow the Medicare law and rules, but are insulated from political pressures and sudden shifts in policy made by presidential appointees.

President Bush is proposing both legislation and rules that would limit the judges' independence and could replace them in many cases.


Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, said the proposed legislative changes would give his agency "flexibility to reform the appeals system" so the government could decide cases in a more "efficient and effective manner."

The department said there was an "urgent need for improvements to the Medicare claim appeal system," in part because the number of appeals was rising rapidly.

Consumer groups, administrative law judges and lawyers denounced the proposals. [SNIP]

Beneficiaries have a personal stake in the issue. When claims are denied, a beneficiary often must pay tens of thousands of dollars for services already received.


Ronald G. Bernoski, president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges, said: "We see President Bush's proposals as a serious assault on the Administrative Procedure Act, a stealth attack on the rights of citizens to fair, impartial hearings. These hearings guarantee due process of law, as required by the Constitution."

The American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association, which represents lawyers who practice in federal courts and before federal agencies, have expressed similar concerns.

Health care providers, which are involved in many of the appeals, share those concerns.


Medicare officials could adopt the proposed rules, regardless of whether Congress accepts Mr. Bush's recommendation for changes in the law.


"The president proposes replacing administrative law judges with some form of dispute resolution," Ms. Stein said. "This puts beneficiaries at a disadvantage, with unequal bargaining power and inadequate expertise to do battle with the Medicare agency."

You Spoke Hebrew! Tish, That Drives Me WILD!!  

Why settle for any old cliche when you can use an old Jewish cliche? Tom Friedman won't. And he doesn't even seem to notice the unmitigated chutzpah.
What does Tony Blair get that George Bush doesn't? The only way I can explain it is by a concept from the Kabbalah called "tikkun olam." It means, "to repair the world."
Thanks, Tom, we needed that. But wait! I get it! It's an ad campaign! Ladies and Gents! Introducing:

Tikkun Olam Duct Tape
To Repair the World

A New Product From Perle-Wolfowitz Hardware Supplies and Catering, Ltd.


She's found her voice.
The Bush hawks never intended to give peace a chance. They intended to give pre-emption a chance...

They never wanted to merely disarm the slimy Saddam. They wanted to dislodge and dispose of him...

The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that a classified State Department report debunks the hawks' domino theory and expresses doubt that installing a new regime in Iraq will foster democracy...

And Don Van Natta Jr. of The New York Times reveals that Al Qaeda is using rising anger among young Muslims about the plan to overthrow Saddam to recruit and groom a new generation of terrorists...

And America is not known for its long attention span or talent for empire building. As Bob Woodward reports in his book "Bush at War," a month into the bombing of Afghanistan, when the Taliban stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif fell, Mr. Bush turned to Condoleezza Rice, in a moment straight out of "The Candidate," and asked: "Well, what next?"  
Well, now we know.

The Grown Ups  

The Post, which finally starts to get a clue at the 11th hour:
Last weekend, while Blair was working the phones -- he spoke to 30 heads of state in six days -- and French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin was traveling to the capitals of uncommitted Security Council members, Bush made no visits or phone calls...

U.S. officials had won support for the resolution by arguing that the best way to avoid war was to support it. French officials date their break with the administration to mid-January, when U.S. officials signaled they were prepared to end the inspections only weeks after they had started. "There was shock and surprise," a French official said. "It was a signal that for Washington the time of inspections had almost ended..."

The French official insisted that France would have supported the use of force and even participated in a military coalition if the United States had shown more patience with the inspection process. "What could have been claimed as victories were always denounced as deceptions," because the United States refused to budge from its timetable for war, the official said...

The president and senior officials in the current Bush administration spend less time on the phone or on the road, They appear more comfortable issuing demands than asking for help or bridging differences, diplomats and U.S. officials said...

The decision by Turkey's parliament to reject a U.S. request to station troops in the country is another example in which the current administration has asked for more and expended less effort...

This time, not only did the United States want to insert 62,000 troops in Turkey, but also it demanded a vote at a time when the United States insisted it was trying to disarm Iraq peacefully; Turkish officials said administration officials repeatedly demanded a vote as quickly as possible. Turkish officials made one trip to Washington, but Powell didn't visit Turkey once during this period. Bush had three calls or meetings with Turkish leaders, according to White House records.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?