Saturday, January 31, 2004

Where's the Apology?

A new Paul Krugman essay from the New York Times via Tom Tomorrow:

So where are the apologies? Where are the resignations? Where is the investigation of this intelligence debacle? All we have is bluster from Dick Cheney, evasive W.M.D.-related-program-activity language from Mr. Bush — and a determined effort to prevent an independent inquiry.

True, Mr. Kay still claims that this was a pure intelligence failure. I don't buy it: the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has issued a damning report on how the threat from Iraq was hyped, and former officials warned of politicized intelligence during the war buildup. (Yes, the Hutton report gave Tony Blair a clean bill of health, but many people — including a majority of the British public, according to polls — regard that report as a whitewash.)

In any case, the point is that a grave mistake was made, and America's credibility has been badly damaged — and nobody is being held accountable. But that's standard operating procedure. As far as I can tell, nobody in the Bush administration has ever paid a price for being wrong. Instead, people are severely punished for telling inconvenient truths. And administration officials have consistently sought to freeze out, undermine or intimidate anyone who might try to check up on their performance.

Click here for the rest.



I never cease to be amazed at what an incredible movie The Blues Brothers is. It's use of mega-hip music, super cool guest stars, humor, weird characters, and stunning cinematography add up to what could be one of the greatest films of all time. It's worth watching for the car crashes alone, but I'm personally quite fond of the Nazis and rednecks, not to mention the film's healthy distrust of cops.

It's really aged quite well. You ought to go watch Jake and Elwood's adventures once again; it won't disappoint.

Thanks to The Ultimate Blues Brothers Web Site for the links!


Thursday, January 29, 2004


And still no bin Laden. From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

An explosion at a weapons cache in killed seven U.S. soldiers and wounded three more today, in one of the deadliest incidents since U.S. forces deployed in Afghanistan. The U.S. Central Command also said an American soldier was missing.

An Afghan interpreter also was wounded by the 3 p.m. explosion near the city of Ghazni, 60 miles southwest of the capital, Kabul. The soldiers were working around a weapons cache when the blast happened.

Centcom spokesman Capt. Bruce Frame said the cause had yet to be determined in the blast, among the most damaging blows to American troops since they deployed in Afghanistan more than two years ago.

The Taliban were driven from power but sporadic fighting has continued. Earlier this month, the U.S. death toll reached 100. Sixteen of those deaths occurred in combat -- including seven when two helicopters took enemy fire in March 2002.

Click here for more.


Leak Against this War

In this London Guardian editorial via ZNet, anti-war activist and leaker of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, Daniel Ellsberg, exhorts those who are in a position to do so to leak secret documents that could expose government lies about the Iraq war and potentially save lives:

There could not be a more exact parallel between this situation and Iraq. Our troops in Iraq keep walking into attacks in the course of patrols apparently designed to provide "security" for civilians who, mysteriously, do not appear the slightest bit inclined to warn us of these attacks. This situation - as in Vietnam - is a harbinger of endless bloodletting. I believe American and British soldiers will be dying, and killing, in that country as long as they remain there.

As more and more US and British families lose loved ones in Iraq - killed while ostensibly protecting a population that does not appear to want them there - they will begin to ask: "How did we get into this mess, and why are we still in it?" And the answers they find will be disturbingly similar to those the American public found for Vietnam.

I served three US presidents - Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon - who lied repeatedly and blatantly about our reasons for entering Vietnam, and the risks in our staying there. For the past year, I have found myself in the horrifying position of watching history repeat itself. I believe that George Bush and Tony Blair lied - and continue to lie - as blatantly about their reasons for entering Iraq and the prospects for the invasion and occupation as the presidents I served did about Vietnam.


I can only admire the more timely, courageous action of Katherine Gun, the GCHQ translator who risked her career and freedom to expose an illegal plan to win official and public support for an illegal war, before that war had started. Her revelation of a classified document urging British intelligence to help the US bug the phones of all the members of the UN security council to manipulate their votes on the war may have been critical in denying the invasion a false cloak of legitimacy. That did not prevent the aggression, but it was reasonable for her to hope that her country would not choose to act as an outlaw, thereby saving lives. She did what she could, in time for it to make a difference, as indeed others should have done, and still can.

Click here for more.



Cool old pictures from the legendary New York punk club CBGB via J. Orlin Grabbe: click here.

This ain't no mudd club, or C. B. G. B./ I ain't got time for that now


Wednesday, January 28, 2004


From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Kay: 'We were almost all wrong' about Iraq arms

Republicans say the nation's intelligence agencies were the problem. Democrats point to the White House, questioning possible pressure put on intelligence analysts and noting Vice President Dick Cheney's continued assertions that weapons of mass destruction existed.

Asked at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing if an independent investigation was warranted, Kay replied that he believed an outside inquiry would give Congress and the public more confidence. Democrats are sure to make use of that point as they call for more and broader inquiries.


Democrats are using many of the administration's past statements on the Iraqi weapons program to criticize the decision to wage a pre-emptive war. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., quoted from more than a half dozen statements from Bush and his Cabinet members asserting the existence of Saddam's weapons programs.

Click here for the rest.

And from a London Guardian editorial via J. Orlin Grabbe:

Last of the believers

Everyone gets it already - there were no weapons of mass destruction; everyone, that is, but the British government.

Like the Japanese soldier of cliche, still shooting from his cave because no one has told him the war is over, Tony Blair and faithful lieutenant Jack Straw are sticking to the cause long after their commanders have surrendered. Their tenacity in the face of all the evidence is almost touching. Blair still says he has "absolutely no doubt". Straw wobbles a bit on the radio, admitting it's "disappointing" that no weapons have yet been found, but he keeps the faith. Washington may have abandoned the pre-war script, but their loyal retainers in London are staying true. They are like a pair of old Communist cadres defending some appalling Stalinist action, unaware that the party line from Moscow haschanged.


So why does Blair not just come clean and admit he got it wrong? . . . For one thing, Tony Blair would have to confess that he has poorer judgment of military and international affairs than the majority of the British public, who told pollsters for months that they did not consider Saddam an immediate threat. He would have to concede that every one of those demonstrators who filled central London last February had a better grasp of Iraqi's military weight than he did. If it stuck in his craw to accept that he had been wrong to predict that Ken Livingstone would be a "disaster" for London, imagine how he would face the entire anti-war movement and say, out loud: "When it came to weapons of mass destruction, you were right and I was wrong."

Click here for more.



Listen to the Sinister Ducks' cool song (written by genius comic book writer Alan Moore) "March of the Sinister Ducks."

Here's some info on the song.

Thanks to Eclecticism and J. Orlin Grabbe for the links.


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Fundamentalism has spawned an
ideology of American supremacy

An excerpt from billionaire George Soros' book The Bubble of American Supremacy from the London Guardian via the Global Free Press:

The ideologues of American supremacy and President Bush personally never cease to remind us that September 11 changed the world. It is only as the untoward consequences of the invasion of Iraq become apparent that people are beginning to realise something has gone woefully wrong.

We have fallen into a trap. The suicide bombers' motivation seemed incomprehensible at the time of the attack; now a light begins to dawn: they wanted us to react the way we did. Perhaps they understood us better than we understand ourselves.

And we have been deceived. When he stood for election in 2000, President Bush promised a humble foreign policy. I contend that the Bush administration has deliberately exploited September 11 to pursue policies that the American public would not have otherwise tolerated. The US can lose its dominance only as a result of its own mistakes. At present the country is in the process of committing such mistakes because it is in the hands of a group of extremists whose strong sense of mission is matched only by their false sense of certitude.

This distorted view postulates that because we are stronger than others, we must know better and we must have right on our side. That is where religious fundamentalism comes together with market fundamentalism to form the ideology of American supremacy.

Favorite food of the American supremacist: the "freedom fry."

Click here for more.


White House retreats on weapons claim

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Bush said he had no misgivings about going to war against Iraq but he refrained from saying -- as he once did -- that weapons of mass destruction would be discovered. "There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a gathering threat to America and others. That's what we know."

"We know he was a dangerous man in a dangerous part of the world," the president said.

The issue was injected into the presidential campaign when retired chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay said he had concluded, after nine months of searching, that deposed Saddam did not have stockpiles of forbidden weapons. Confronted with Kay's statement, administration officials declined to repeat their once-ironclad assertions that Saddam had them.

Somebody better tell Cheney.

Click here.


Monday, January 26, 2004

What is Patriotism?

From WorkingForChange:

We have become so divisive as a nation, beholden to our political parties of self-righteousness that we are unable to place love of country ahead of Democrat and Republican. Republicans are unable to look objectively at how this administration may have needlessly and recklessly taken the country to war any more than I fear Democrats would, had it been their figurehead occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

If patriotism is indeed love of country, then its definition must include its people: all of its people. Patriotism is not exclusively acknowledging the heroics of our armed forces at the State of the Union Address while failing to recognize the millions whose unemployment benefits did not last as long as their ongoing job search. Patriotism is not a political tool to be used in conjunction with wedge issues to stir the emotions of ordinary citizens, enacting economic policies that primarily benefit major campaign contributors or demanding that only low-income families make sacrifices during times of war.

Love and concern for the country, including its people, is the patriotic responsibility of every American.

Indeed. Click here for more.


Lock-ins concern Wal-Mart workers

From the New York Times via the Houston Chronicle:

It was 3 a.m., Rodriguez recalled, and some heavy machinery had just crushed his ankle.

But the Sam's Club, a Wal-Mart subsidiary, had locked its overnight workers in, as it always did, to keep robbers out and, as some managers say, to prevent employee theft. As usual, there was no manager with a key to let Rodriguez out. The fire exit, he said, was hardly an option -- management had drummed into the overnight workers that if they ever used that exit for anything but a fire, they would lose their jobs.

"My ankle was crushed," Rodriguez said, speaking of the accident in which an employee driving an electronic cart that moved bulky merchandise crashed into his right leg. "Another worker made some phone calls to reach a manager, and it took an hour for someone to get there and unlock the door."

Locked-in Wal-Mart workers brings to mind visions of 19th century textile workers burned to death inside their locked mills. And, hey, just what the hell would these guys at Sam's Club do if there if there was a fire? Indeed, Wal-Mart is at the forefront of corporations pushing the envelope on violating worker rights--after all, they make more money when they spend less on worker safety and wages. Truly, Wal-Mart sucks.

Click here.


Supreme Court rules against police in questioning case

From the AP via the Detriot Free Press (via Eschaton):

The Supreme Court reaffirmed Monday that police must tell indicted people of their rights before starting interrogations.

Justices ruled 9-0 in favor of a Nebraska man who claimed he was tricked into talking to officers who came to his house to arrest him on drug charges.

The decision relieved civil liberties groups, which worried that the court was poised to roll back some of the protections in its landmark 1966 Miranda ruling which led to the familiar refrain beginning ``You have the right to remain silent.''

So...are they trying to make up for Bush v Gore, or what? The Supreme Court has been rolling back important civil liberties since the Reagan administration: first, the war on drugs, and, now, the war on terrorism have been huge justifications for an increasingly right wing court to attack and destroy freedoms that generations of Americans have come to take for granted. This ruling, seen in that context, is truly weird. Welcome, but weird.

Click here.


Sunday, January 25, 2004


From the San Francisco Chronicle via AlterNet:

There is, however, another proposal on the table – a single-payer health system – that would overhaul employer-based health care. SB921, authored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, would create a state health insurance plan in order to provide universal health care for Californians.

In Kuehl's words, "You would have a card, just like your health (plan) card now, but you could walk into any hospital, any pharmacy, any doctor's office, any dentist, and they would know you're covered."

"But isn't this socialized medicine?" worried readers have asked me. No, it's like Medicare. The state would simply finance and administer health-care reimbursements as a private insurer does now; it would not own the health facilities or employ the medical staff. Patients, not the government, would choose their own health providers.

But how can we afford this? Oddly enough, a single-payer plan could prove less expensive than our so-called health-care system.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that single payer is the way to go. But how do you defeat the insurance companies, who will surely fight such a move tooth and nail? I have no idea, but the political ball has got to start rolling somewhere, and California is a good place to begin.

Click here for more.



Well, pretty much everybody, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, excepting Vice President Dick Cheney, now understands that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction before the US invaded. Of course the obscene irony in this is that President Bush's biggest reason for the invasion was to get those WMDs before Saddam could hand them over to terrorists. In other words, the Oval Office's justification for "preemptive war" turned out to be utterly false.

Of course, I and many others have been trumpeting this fact since well before the war began, but most Americans sneered at what they called "hatred" for our country. Whatever. We were absolutely right; they were dead wrong: hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqis are now dead for Bush's bogus justification, and people continue to die. And let's not forget the thousands of American wounded and maimed.

One of the things that made it clear to me that Iraq was not a threat to the US was how we handled North Korea. Iraq insisted, again and again, that they had no WMDs. North Korea, however, proudly proclaimed that they had nuclear weapons. Iraq gets invaded; North Korea gets diplomacy. That struck me as a wildly odd contradiction. Why would we treat a country that almost certainly had WMDs with kid gloves, while at the same time using shaky evidence to justify invading a country that may very well not have WMDs? The answer was clear to me: Iraq must not have WMDs--if they did, the US would have probably given them the North Korea treatment, that is, diplomacy.

The mainstream press is now looking into this.

Was Iraq the greatest threat?
4 other nations more advanced
in unconventional arms

From the New York Times via the Houston Chronicle:

The bluntly worded conclusion by the chief American arms inspector in Iraq, David Kay, that Saddam Hussein "got rid" of his unconventional weapons long before the Iraq invasion last year underscores a point that has become clear to intelligence experts in the past few months: President Bush moved first, and most decisively, against a country that posed a smaller proliferation risk than North Korea, Libya and Iran, or even one of America's allies, Pakistan.

While Kay's team has come up largely empty-handed so far, contributing to his decision to resign on Friday, a team of American experts visiting North Korea was shown what appeared to be at least a rudimentary ability to produce plutonium -- though they were not able to confirm that North Korea spent 2003 churning out new weapons.

I guess it's nice to be vindicated, but the situation is still quite grim. Click here for the rest of the article.


5000 HITS

At the moment, I'm two hits away from 5,000! Time to celebrate! Hooray!

I'll pat myself on the back again when I hit 10,000...probably sometime next year...



On some levels I really don't understand what all the hullabaloo is about. On other levels I understand it all too well.

Last Monday night, Howard Dean placed a disappointing third in the Iowa Democratic caucuses. In a rousing speech to a large group of his supporters, Dean promised to move on from Iowa and eventually win the nomination, to hit the campaign trail hard. The crowd was excited and emotional; Dean was excited and emotional--clearly, the former governor of Vermont was trying to make the lemons that had been tossed his way into lemonade. As far as I've been able to tell, this is how the speech was understood by his supporters who were in attendance.

At some point in the days following the speech, however, the corporate media punditocracy decided to portray this theatrical and political moment as something else: the media elite decided to tell America that Dean had gone nuts and is, therefore, unfit to be president.

By now, I've become used to this kind of media feeding frenzy over such utterly irrelevant (and sometimes utterly false) pieces of information. The endless cascade of self-righteous tirades against Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky comes to mind, as do the attacks against Al Gore, who never actually claimed to have invented the internet. I don't understand what could possibly be wrong with a rousing political speech, but I do understand how the corporate media just love to pick up bullshit, rub it all over themselves, breathe in deeply, taste it, and then sling it all over the place in a veritable festival of journalistic scatology.

Hate Dean because you don't like his politics: don't hate him because he gave a rousing speech that was cheered by his supporters.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I think his "yeeeeeaaaah!" was the coolest rock and roll scream since Roger Daltrey's second scream in the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." Surely, that's got to score Dean a few points.

Here's an excerpt from a Columbia Journalism Review blog post on the DeanScream frenzy that gets the point across in much more depth than I ever could:

Gov. Howard Dean's passionate post-caucus speech to his supporters last Monday may become a turning point in his political career -- not only because of the speech itself, but also because of the way in which the news media has shaped the coverage of the speech. While at first the campaign press generally reported the speech fairly, over the last few days several members of the media have indulged in cheap shots at Dean disguised as hard news reporting. In the process, the coverage, even amongst the same reporters, has gotten notably nastier, giving a negative cast to the speech -- and, as we have noted before, even going to so far as to question the candidate's mental health.

We have all seen this phenomenon before; this is the stage in the process at which the tale itself begins to wag the newshounds. So, sure enough, we now have some reporters writing pieces devoted solely to the storyline that they have helped to create.

Click here for the rest of the post. I highly recommend it; it's a pretty good analysis of how such media firestorms ignite.

On a humorous note, and just in case you hadn't already noticed, there are now tons of internet spawned remixes of Dean's rousing speech. Here is a link to a page that has collected a bunch. Check it out--my favorite is the one that replaces Robert Plant's scream in Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song" with Dean's scream.

Thanks to Eschaton for the links.


Saturday, January 24, 2004

Dr. Red Tape

From the Nation:

Four hundred billion dollars for the red tape!

It's a staggering sum -- a Pentagon-sized sum. And according to the comprehensive study by researchers from the Harvard Medical School and from Public Citizen that produced this estimate, some $286 billion of that is utter waste -- spending which could be jettisoned overboard by switching to a Canadian-style system. In Canada -- where they spend half as much on health care yet have universal coverage and live two years longer than Americans -- doctors use a single simple form to bill one insurance plan, and hospitals negotiate an annual budget with a single agency. (Compare that to US doctors and hospitals, who must hire enormous staffs to deal with hundreds of Byzantine forms from hundreds of insurance plans).

It is now increasingly clear that the health insurance companies now exist solely to perpetuate their own fat, profitable existences. It's time for them to be bought out by the government, but who has the cajones to push the issue? War hero Kerry? Fighter ace Bush? Somehow I am not filled with hope.

Click here for more.


Health care costs increasingly
a concern in U.S., poll shows

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Worries about the cost of health care have grown in the public's consciousness over the past two years and now rival their concerns about the economy, an Associated Press poll found.


Health care costs were mentioned by 19 percent in the poll, up from 11 percent a year ago and 5 percent two years ago. Unemployment was mentioned by 14 percent, up slightly from 9 percent a year ago.

Twice as many women (26 percent) as men (13 percent) cited health care costs as a top problem.

Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to say health care was one of the most important problems.

I think this anxiety about health care is only going to increase in the coming years. Maybe our leaders will finally have the bravery to take on the massive business interests that have long held hostage access to doctors and medicine.

For more about the study, click here.


Thursday, January 22, 2004

A Post Mortem from the Nation

Bush claimed that the budget he will soon send to Congress will "cut the deficit in half over the next five years." Here was the latest installment in a long run of fuzzy math. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Bush's projections "show a large decline in the deficit by 2009 only because the [Office of Management and Budget] figures will omit a series of very likely or inevitable costs in taxes, defense spending, and other areas." The center explains:

"A series of analyses -- including analyses by the Brookings Institution, Goldman-Sachs, and a joint analysis by the business-led Committee for Economic Development, the Concord Coalition, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities -- all have found that recent budget projections omit a number of likely costs that must be added back to gain a realistic sense of the budget deficits we face in coming years. The administration's forthcoming budget is expected to have approximately $200 billion in missing costs in the fifth year."

For more on Bush's SOTU address, click here.


The New Educational Eugenics in
George Bush's State of the Union

From Greg Palast's weblog:

Once the kids are stamped and sorted, the parents of the marked children ask for you to fulfill your tantalizing promise, to "make sure they have better options when schools are not performing."

But there is no "better option," is there, Mr. Bush? Where's the money for the better schools to take in the kids getting crushed in cash-poor districts? Where's the open door to the suburban campuses with the big green lawns for the dark kids with the test-score mark of Cain?

And if I bring up the race of the kids with the low score, don't get all snippy with me, telling me your program is color blind. We know the color of the kids left behind; and it's not the color of the kids you went to school with at Philips Andover Academy.

You know and I know the testing is a con. There is no "better option" at the other end. The cash went to eliminate the inheritance tax, that special program to give every millionaire's son another million.

Of course, I believe that the entire school system is far more indoctrinational than it is educational, but Palast is right when he says the best shot at learning is in the suburbs: generally, the exemplary schools are closed to those who need them the most.

Click here for the rest.


Wednesday, January 21, 2004


From a BuzzFlash editorial:

The reality is quite simple: The Bush family -- and the Republican Party leadership apparatus -- has contempt for democracy as in inconvenient obstacle to achieving one-party rule in this great nation.

In his book, Phillips details the Bush family belief that they are a dynasty destined to rule, regardless of voter preference. Their inner political belief is essentially monarchical. However, Karl Rove and the late Lee Atwater convinced father and son Bush that they needed to play the "cultural populist" card in order to get within close enough distance to steal elections. That's how you end up with a dauphin prince president who plays the cowboy for the photo-ops but believes that he's king.

To the Democratic leadership who so easily "got over" the theft of election 2000, we say, never again.

Never again, will we permit a regime to seize power with the false appearance of WASP piety and integrity, a Third World attitude toward the totalitarian relationship between government and corrupt business cronyism, and a cynical relationship with religious fanatics who believe that they have a right to run America according to THEIR fundamentalist vision of what THEY believe God wants. Never again will the Bush Dynasty -- or another radical right wing clone -- make a mockery of democracy and be allowed to spend our taxpayer dollars in dismantling our Constitutional government brick by brick.

Click here for more.



By Leonard Cohen, 1992.

It's coming through a hole in the air,
from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It's coming from the feel
that this ain't exactly real,
or it's real, but it ain't exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless,
from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming through a crack in the wall;
on a visionary flood of alcohol;
from the staggering account
of the Sermon on the Mount
which I don't pretend to understand at all.
It's coming from the silence
on the dock of the bay,
from the brave, the bold, the battered
heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin'
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment
where the women kneel to pray
for the grace of God in the desert here
and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

It's coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It's here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it's here they got the spiritual thirst.
It's here the family's broken
and it's here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open
in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the women and the men.
O baby, we'll be making love again.
We'll be going down so deep
the river's going to weep,
and the mountain's going to shout Amen!
It's coming like the tidal flood
beneath the lunar sway,
imperial, mysterious,
in amorous array:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on ...

I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

God, this is such a great song!

Thanks to Jim Rotonda for the streaming audio link.


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

State of the White House

As the President gives his state of the union address, which will, no doubt, amount to nothing more than a grand campaign speech, let's take a look at some recent news items generated by White House maneuverings.

First, let's look at how Bush's war in Iraq is progressing.

Death toll for U.S. troops in Iraq reaches 500

From the LA Times via the Houston Chronicle:

The death toll for U.S. troops in Iraq reached 500 on Saturday when a powerful bomb exploded beneath a convoy from the 4th Infantry Division in this rural area west of Baghdad.

Three soldiers died and two others were injured. Almost 3,000 additional American soldiers have been injured since the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in late March.

The early morning attack, which also killed two Iraqi civil defense corpsmen working alongside U.S. troops, took place on a country road lined with date palms and fields of wheat and barley. It came one day after the U.S. commander here, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, spoke confidently of a steep decline in attacks in recent weeks and called on the stubborn insurgents operating in the largely Sunni Muslim-dominated region to capitulate.

Click here for more.

Truck bomb at U.S. headquarters in Baghdad kills 20

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

A suicide driver set off a truck bomb at the gates of the U.S.-led coalition headquarters today, killing about 20 people and wounding more than 60 in the deadliest attack here since Saddam Hussein's capture last month.

The bombing, which occurred during rush hour on a chill foggy morning, came on the eve of a meeting between U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss Iraq's future, including whether Iraq is safe enough for the world body to return.

Witnesses said that at about 8 a.m., the driver of what the U.S. military described as a white Toyota pickup tried to bypass a line of Iraqi workers and a crowd of U.S. military vehicles, coming as close as possible to the entrance American troops call "Assassins' Gate."


Dead and injured lay on the pavement. Others -- dazed from the blast -- shuffled silently and aimlessly down the street, blood streaming from their faces.

The U.S. military command said about 20 people were killed and more than 60 wounded, including three U.S. civilians and three American soldiers.

Click here for more.

Next, a quick stop in Afghanistan.

U.S. military denies killing Afghan civilians

But then, they always say that. Again, from the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

"Our aircraft did not engage noncombatants," Hilferty said. "We clearly identified and engaged five armed adult males in the open."

But Afghan officials assert the airstrike killed four men, four children and three women in the village of Saghatho.

"I think they (the Americans) made a mistake," local official Abdul Rahman told The Associated Press today. "We buried all these civilians. They were not Taliban. They were simple villagers."

Some 200 people from the Char Chino district, about 250 miles southwest of the capital, met with the governor of Uruzgan province to protest the deaths, said Rahman, the district's government chief. He added that residents were in mourning and had stopped playing music at the local bazaar.


U.S. officials vowed to review the procedures for airstrikes after killing 15 Afghan children in two raids last month, drawing strong protests from Afghan officials and the United Nations.

Click here for more.

But enough of the Pentagon's follies, how is Bush's Department of Justice doing?

Investigating Ashcroft

From the Nation:

At issue are events almost four years ago, when Missouri, the "show me" state, handed Ashcroft bragging rights as the first Senator in American history ever to lose an election to a dead man. It was a hard-fought race; and Ashcroft's side broke the rules. Federal regulators last month finally got around to confirming this and fining his campaign $37,000 for having accepted illegal and excessive contributions.

In the process, the regulators released new information and documents on the matter, and the five public interest groups say the case against the anointed one is actually more damning than ever. They say there is now substantial evidence that Ashcroft himself was involved in accepting an illegal campaign contribution -- a valuable, expensive-to-develop, fundraising mailing list - - worth at least $255,000; and that since then, Ashcroft and his various political committees have "engaged in a criminal conspiracy to cover up the illegal contribution."

Maybe they can get another Bush-appointed "special counsel" to look into the matter...and sweep it under the rug. Click here.

And how about NASA? It appears that they're up to more than militarily conquering space.

Study used census information for terror profile

From the Washington Times via Eschaton:

U.S. census information provided by millions of Americans was used in a government study to profile airline passengers as terrorist risks.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration also obtained for its study the private information of hundreds of thousands of passengers flying Northwest Airlines, an action NASA denied to The Washington Times in September.

Ooooookay...what the hell is NASA doing here? This is creepy at best, and a gross violation of American privacy rights at worst. Click here.

Finally, just to drive the point home, Bush is stacking the courts with far right extremists.

Bush skips Senate, installs judicial pick

From the Washington Post via the Houston Chronicle:

Bush used his recess-appointment powers to seat Pickering, 66, a federal district judge in Hattiesburg, Miss., on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans.

Such appointments, which the president can make when lawmakers are out of session, last until the next Congress takes office -- in this case, January 2005.

Senate records show the power, usually exercised with lower-profile nominees, has been used to elevate judges only a handful of times in the past 30 years. Less than a month before leaving office, President Bill Clinton used the mechanism to install Roger Gregory as the first black judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Maryland and Virginia. Bush renominated Gregory, who was confirmed.

Pickering was challenged by Democrats over his 1994 actions from the bench to reduce the sentence of a man convicted of burning a cross near the home of an interracial couple. Republicans contend Pickering was motivated by concern over the fairness of sentences meted out in the case.

Democrats also raised questions about Pickering's contacts as a state senator in the 1970s with the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, which worked to preserve segregation. Bush has called Pickering "an advocate of civil rights" and pointed to a large number of African-American leaders in Mississippi who came forward to declare their support for him.

Who needs Trent Lott? We've got a Klan-lover in the Oval Office. Click here for more.

Iraq and Afghanistan are bloody quagmires. Attorney General John Ashcroft may have broken campaign finance laws and then conspired to cover it up. NASA seems to be moving into secret police territory, and Bush is stacking the courts with racist koo-koos. And all that's just from the last three or four days. Needless to say, the list goes on and on and on.

The state of the union is not good, not at all.

God, I'm listening to the chimp's speech over the internet right now...he's creeping me out.


Monday, January 19, 2004


You know, I really, really support NASA and the exploration of space in general. I even posted about it last year in my essay "TO GO BOLDLY" when the Columbia exploded. But I have a few reservations about President Bush's new space initiative.

How are we going to pay for it? One answer is to cancel existing space programs and shift the funding to the new Moon-Mars program, as the Houston Chronicle reported Saturday:

Two days after President Bush redirected NASA toward the moon and Mars, the space agency on Friday announced the first casualty: the Hubble Space Telescope.

"This is a sad day," said John Grunsfeld, NASA's chief scientist and a four-time shuttle astronaut. The decision shook the astronomy world.

Click here for more.

Losing the Hubble Telescope is just awful, and it seemingly contradicts, and at the very least, undercuts, the overall goal of exploring space. What's going on here?

Furthermore, cutting funding for the Hubble project cannot possibly provide enough money for what the President is proposing. To add insult to injury, Bush's irresponsible tax giveaways for the rich have sent the federal government into massive deficit spending, and these tax cuts are supposed to be structural--that is, they are permenant, and there seems to be no relief in sight. Calling for a massive program to establish a Moon base and then to explore Mars while at the same time pissing away all possible sources of funding for that program strikes me as weird. This makes me suspect that there's more here than meets the eye. Is this simply a ruse? A diversionary tactic to bolster Bush's sagging approval ratings? I'm sure that Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, has thought of this, but there's got to be more to it than the political angle.

My mind keeps going back to statements made by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other neo-cons about what they see as a need for American military domination of space. This BuzzFlash essay comes right out and says that Bush's Moon-Mars initiative is driven by that goal:

So suddenly Bush is JFK, and he has announced new plans for going to the moon and to Mars because he is an idealistic space visionary at heart?

While at least a few reporters are covering Ted Kennedy's speech about Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the Project for a New American Century, would someone in the media please click on to PNAC's "Rebuilding America's Defenses" -- the classic in which a longing for another Pearl Harbor is expressed -- and then scroll down to the section about space? Read about their real plan for space -- as a battlefield under total military control of the US.

Click here for more.

Indeed, this memo from PNAC openly declares the neo-con goal of militarizing space:

But with the mushrooming of commercial space activities (more than 1,100 companies in more than 50 countries are developing, building and operating space systems), the line between military and civilian space use is blurring. America's advantages in space are keys to our exercise of global power, but also create vulnerabilities our adversaries are anxious to exploit. Space is fast becoming the high seas of the future, and space power the equivalent of the sea power that propelled first Great Britain and then the United States on the path to global leadership. Control of the emerging international commons of space will do much to determine the future shape of international politics here on earth.

It is clear that, in addition to seeking military domination of the world, the neo-cons also seek to militarily dominate space: Bush's newfound advocacy of space exploration can only be understood in that context. I'm sad to say it, but, given this perspective, I cannot support the Moon-Mars initiative. Space exploration should be about mankind's best qualities, not its worst. The Bush administration would have us export bloodshed and murder to the stars.



A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1967

Martin Luther King Jr. was a radical--this is a fact. He opposed not only racism, but also militarism, war, capitalism, and materialism. But you won't hear much about that today. Today, King will be celebrated with bland, meaningless platitudes about how great his "I Have a Dream" speech during the 1963 march on Washington was. Don't buy it. King was a revolutionary; his work and message was, perhaps, even more suited to 2004 than it was to 1964. I wrote about this last year in my "MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. 2003: A WARM AND FRIENDLY MUPPET OF A MAN" post. This year, I'm going to bolster these views on Dr. King by linking to some great essays.

King's legacy: uniting the struggles

From Workers' World:

"During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons..."

So Lenin wrote about Marx and Engels in his preface to "State and Revolution." But a quite similar statement could be applied to the way the ruling-class media in the United States now treat Martin Luther King Jr., and especially the way they treat his holiday.

King, even though he represented the wing of the Civil Rights movement that sought liberation while rejecting armed struggle or indeed any militant response to the most severe racist provocations, was certainly no passive icon. King was immersed in the struggle for economic and political rights. He was in the forefront of many of these struggles.

Click here for more.

Martin Luther King: Terrorist

From WorkingForChange:

The literal whitewashing of King also serves another purpose: to locate American racism as safely in the South and in our historical past. The changes of the past half century are, indeed, remarkable; Jim Crow seems today as unthinkable as slavery itself. But struggles against racial equality happened in every state -- not just Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. As for our progress since then, consider: the persistently huge economic gaps between whites and non-whites; the horrific public health indices in some non-white areas, including the re-emergence of TB and widespread, endemic hunger among often non-white children; the shameful failure of public education in many predominantly non-white school districts; the War on Drugs and its imprisonment of a generation of non-white youth; the race-coded political attacks on welfare and workfare programs; the near-complete dismantling of affirmative action; and the still-striking disparity between how America looks and how its leaders look. We still have a long, long way to go.

If the King of 1955 or 1965 were alive today, he'd be talking about all of this. King would also have something to say about America's eagerness to consider every human being of a particular shading as a potential terrorist. He would be accused of treason for his pacifism, as he was reviled for "Communism" back in the day. Instead of the FBI trying to bring him down, he, and most of his associates, would be prosecutable under anti-terrorism statutes. And the moral outrage of Americans, that made his work so effective? These days, we prefer denial.

Click here.

Dr. King: The Remix

An essay from AlterNet on King and the hip-hop generation:

The paradox of overexposure of a particular image of Dr. King is his resultant inaccessibility to young people.

While we love to hear the story, again and again, well-intentioned teachers and less-benevolent revisionists have hidden from us much of the good stuff about the good Reverend Doctor. His legacy has been reduced by many interpreters to a still portrait of a pacific dreamer in a contextual vacuum. We have been conditioned to think that everything we need to know about King we learned in kindergarten. While we remember that he was born in Atlanta and became a timeless orator, nonviolent dreamer and national martyr, many in the hip-hop nation have yet to be introduced to the radical Martin Luther King, Jr.

Call in P. Diddy, or whoever invented the remix. The revolutionary King has been lost on the B-side for much of the last four decades, while the facts of this year in our nation's history accentuate the significance of understanding the true King legacy. Dr. King's "triple evils" of racism, poverty and war have emerged in all-too-familiar form: the Bush II government abandons American children to kill in Iraq and to perish in prison here at home, cuts off unemployment benefits and closes welfare centers, locks up innocent immigrants, and rewards the rich for their patronage of these policies.

Click here.

Now, a news item just to let everyone know that King's dream has most definitely not been achieved. From the Washington Post via the Houston Chronicle:

Segregation in schools at levels last seen in 1969

Half a century after the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of American education, schools are almost as segregated as they were when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, according to a new report released by Harvard University researchers.

The study by the Harvard Civil Rights Project, shows that progress toward school desegregation peaked in the late 1980s as courts concluded that the goals of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education had largely been achieved. Over the past 15 years, the trend has been in the opposite direction, and most white students now have "little contact" with minority students in many areas of the country, according to the report.

"We are celebrating a victory over segregation at a time when schools across the nation are becoming increasingly segregated," noted the report, which was issued on the eve of the holiday celebrating King's birthday.

Stuff like this really pisses me off. That anybody would dare suggest that racism is a thing of the past is truly appalling. That affirmative action is all but dead is a national tragedy.

Click here for more.

Finally, here is a cool flash-animation courtesy of AlterNet that celebrates the real MLK: HONOR THE MEMORY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING.

Happy MLK day.


Sunday, January 18, 2004

Rupert Murdoch and My Sister

My buddy Kevin told me last night of a very frustrating conversation about the Bush administration and the Iraq war that he recently had with his pro-President aunt. I was reminded of similar moments I've had with my own family over the past year. How do you get the people you care about the most to understand the awful truth?

Later, in nice little coincidence, I ran across this commiserative article from Counterpunch:

I mentioned Saddam Hussein had actually once been an ally of the United States and that this had been back in the days when Ronald Reagan was president. This fact she had never heard of. I pressed harder on the issue.

"You remember when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurds?"

Yes, she remembered this.

"Where do you think he got his chemical weapons?" I asked.

She didn't know. When I told her it was from the United States it was almost as if a wall went up immediately between us. This was so contrary to-and so alien from-everything she had been told that I could see she simply wasn't buying it or accepting it.

Same planet, different universe. However, it is nice to know that I'm not the only one dealing with a Jedi mind controlled family. Click here for more.


Bush and his Congress are so Far Right,
Look Who They Make Seem Lefty

From OpEdNews.Com via J. Orlin Grabbe:

In the execution of its duties, the Bush administration (and Congress) has gnawed, clawed, slithered, and sidestepped so far to the Right that a number of mainstream bedfellows are passing (vociferously) to its Left.

And that list includes:

(1) The U.S. Army War College
(2) Paul O'Neill & The Wall Street Journal
(3) U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist
(4) Kevin Phillips, lifetime Republican, chief political strategist for Richard Nixon
(5) The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
(6) The Central Intelligence Agency
(7) The General Accounting Office

For the full explanation, click here.


Saturday, January 17, 2004

Nobel Prize Winners Hate School

From Learn in Freedom via J. Orlin Grabbe:

Albert Einstein

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.

George Bernard Shaw

With the world's bookshelves loaded with fascinating and inspired books, the very manna sent down from Heaven to feed your souls, you are forced to read a hideous imposture called a school book, written by a man who cannot write: A book from which no human can learn anything: a book which, though you may decipher it, you cannot in any fruitful sense read, though the enforced attempt will make you loathe the sight of a book all the rest of your life.

Bertrand Russell

The majority of parents feel affection for their children, and this sets limits to the harm they do them. But education authorities have no affection for the children concerned; at best, they are actuated by public spirit, which is directed towards the community as a whole, and not merely towards the children; at worst, they are politicians engaged in squabbles for plums.

For more brilliant minds' musings on schooling, click here.


When Are Nazi Comparisons Deplorable?
For Fox News, only when Republicans are the target

From Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting:

It should be noted that however hyperbolic, comparisons to Hitler and fascism are not unknown in the American political debate. Rush Limbaugh has routinely called women's rights advocates "femi-Nazis," and references to "Hitlery Clinton" are a staple of right-wing talk radio. Republican power-broker Grover Norquist on NPR (10/2/03) compared inheritance taxes to the Holocaust.

Closer to home for Fox News, on the very same day that Gibson, Hannity and O'Reilly were talking about the Hitler/Bush comparison as evidence of the left's extremism, a column ran in the New York Post that described Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean as a follower of Josef Goebbels, referred to him as "Herr Howie," accused him of "looking for his Leni Riefenstahl," called his supporters "the Internet Gestapo" and compared them to "Hitler's brownshirts."

The New York Post, like Fox News Channel, is part of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch's conservative media empire. And this piece wasn't just put up on the Post's website as part of a contest--it was written by a right-wing commentator who frequently appears in the Post's pages, Ralph Peters, and selected for the op-ed page by the Post's own editors. So it's more than a little embarrassing that these blatant Nazi comparisons were being made in the Post while the paper's corporate sibling was denouncing such comparisons as a sign of derangement.

Click here for more.

Okay, I must admit, in all honesty, that the Bush administration is not filled with Nazis--it's filled with neo-cons. Furthermore, Hitler was legally and fairly elected; Bush was not. There are no American death camps; there are only indefinite detentions for thousands of immigrants. Hitler was smart; Bush is stupid. Bush is a puppet; Hitler was not. Hitler had the Nuremberg rallies; Bush had his absurd aircraft carrier landing and served our soldiers fake turkey. Despite the numerous comparisons that can be made, it is clear that the Republicans are not Nazis...but I sure do love calling them Nazis, anyway.

So I'm gonna keep right on doing that.

Bush is a stinking Nazi.


Thursday, January 15, 2004


IOWA: Moseley Braun and Dean

Howard Dean shores up some core Democrat support:

Dean declared that the Moseley Braun endorsement was "going to be a big help to us." On the face of it, that sounds like an empty boast. Moseley Braun has little organizational strength in Iowa, and has only been polling at around 1 percent there. However, in a race as close as the Iowa contest appears to be, it certainly will not hurt Dean to gain the support of the only woman and one of only two African-American contenders in the race. At a point when many Democrats in Iowa are trying to determine which candidate would be the strongest contender nationally, the Moseley Braun endorsement serves to highlight the significant support Dean has attracted from members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other prominent players in states where, unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, support from African-American voters is critical to winning not just the nomination but the presidency.

Beyond Iowa, Moseley Braun's endorsement could help Dean as he continues to line up support among core constituencies of the party. Moseley Braun, who promised to take the "Men Only" sign off the White House had the endorsements of the National Organization for Women and the National Women's Political Caucus; her exit may free up support for Dean from some feminists who had held back from making a public endorsement while there was still a woman in the race. Additionally, Moseley Braun retains better name recognition in her home state of Illinois than a number of the Democratic contenders. While there were few predictions that she would win the March 16 Illinois primary, Moseley Braun could well have attracted her largest measure of support on her home turf, especially in the predominantly African-American precincts of Chicago where she has been politically active for three decades.

Click here for more.

The Year of the Fake

The blacklisting of the almanac was a fitting end for 2003, a year that waged open war on truth and facts and celebrated fakes and forgeries of all kinds. This was the year when fakeness ruled: fake rationales for war, a fake President dressed as a fake soldier declaring a fake end to combat and then holding up a fake turkey. An action movie star became governor and the government started making its own action movies, casting real soldiers like Jessica Lynch as fake combat heroes and dressing up embedded journalists as fake soldiers. Saddam Hussein even got a part in the big show: He played himself being captured by American troops. This is the fake of the year, if you believe the Sunday Herald in Scotland, as well as several other news agencies, which reported that he was actually captured by a Kurdish special forces unit.

Click here.


Wednesday, January 14, 2004


First, the new Paul Krugman essay:

The things they're saying about Bush

Ron Suskind's new book The Price of Loyalty is based largely on interviews with and materials supplied by O'Neill. It portrays an administration in which political considerations -- satisfying "the base" -- trump policy analysis on every issue, from tax cuts to international trade policy and global warming. The money quote may be Dick Cheney's blithe declaration that "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." But there are many other revelations.

One is that O'Neill and Alan Greenspan knew that it was a mistake to lock in huge tax cuts based on questionable projections of future surpluses. In May 2001 Greenspan gloomily told O'Neill that because the first Bush tax cut didn't include triggers -- it went forward regardless of how the budget turned out -- it was "irresponsible fiscal policy." This was a time when critics of the tax cut were ridiculed for saying exactly the same thing.

Another is that Bush, who declared in the 2000 campaign that "the vast majority of my tax cuts go to the bottom end of the spectrum," knew that this wasn't true. He worried that eliminating taxes on dividends would benefit only "top-rate people," asking his advisers, "Didn't we already give them a break at the top?"

Click here.

Next, courtesy of J. Orlin Grabbe, some evidence that dispells White House denials:

Corroborating O’Neill’s Account

President Bush ordered the Pentagon to explore the possibility of a ground invasion of Iraq well before the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, an official told ABCNEWS, confirming the account former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill gives in a book written by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind.

The official, who asked not to be identified, was present in the same National Security Council meetings as O'Neill immediately after Bush's inauguration in January and February of 2001.

"The president told his Pentagon officials to explore the military options, including use of ground forces," the official told ABCNEWS. "That went beyond the Clinton administration's halfhearted attempts to overthrow Hussein without force."

Click here.

So...when are Americans going to start believing this stuff? How many high-level, eye-witness accounts of Bush's duplicity must it take?


Britney Spears aids gay marriage

From WorkingForChange:

Off they went to the Little White Wedding Chapel with Britney in her baseball cap and jeans. After 55 hours, the "I dos" became "I don'ts," the vows were annulled and assorted folks chimed in with the same thought: Hey, a man and woman can get married on a lark, but when a committed gay couple wants to make it legal, they're accused of wrecking the institution?

E.J. Graff, author of "What Is Marriage For?" put it a bit more gently, "God bless 'em, they're allowed to be foolish while lesbian and gay couples who are committed aren't taken seriously."

I don't think we should judge straight marriage by the lowest common denominator of a Vegas quickie. But in the wake of the gay marriage decision in Massachusetts, President Bush spoke for the opposition, declaring that "marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman."

Click here.

Who would have thought that the stupid skank would actually do something useful? I've thought for a long time, myself, that the "sacred institution" of marriage is threatened much less by gay people than by divorce. To be honest, I'm still not quite sure how gay matrimony threatens marriage as an institution--I think that Atrios over at Eschaton once joked that seeing married gay couples made him want to cheat on his wife; if that doesn't make the absurdity of the whole "threat" argument clear, I don't know what will.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Wal-Mart audit warned of widespread labor violations

From the New York Times via the Houston Chronicle:

An internal audit now under court seal warned top executives at Wal-Mart Stores three years ago that employee records at 128 stores pointed to extensive violations of child-labor laws and state regulations requiring time for breaks and meals.

The audit of one week's time-clock records for roughly 25,000 employees found 1,371 instances in which minors apparently worked too late at night, worked during school hours or worked too many hours in a day. It also found 60,767 instances in which workers apparently did not take rest breaks, and 15,705 instances suggesting that employees had worked through their mealtimes.

As I've said many times here at Real Art, Wal-Mart sucks.

Click here for more.


O'Neill Bows to Oval Office Intimidation Tactics

From CNN:

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said Tuesday his account of the Bush administration's early discussions about a possible invasion of Iraq has been distorted by a "red meat frenzy."

The controversy began last week when excerpts were released from a book on the administration published Tuesday in which O'Neill suggests Iraq was the focus of President Bush's first National Security Council meeting.

That started what O'Neill described to NBC's "Today" show as a "red meat frenzy that's occurred when people didn't have anything except snippets."

"People are trying to make a case that I said the president was planning war in Iraq early in the administration," O'Neill said.

"Actually, there was a continuation of work that had been going on in the Clinton administration with the notion that there needed to be regime change in Iraq."

For more on O'Neill's seeming retraction in the face of a White House investigation of him, click here.

Meanwhile, Bush issues an admisson of sorts:

Bush admits wanting new Iraqi regime before 9/11

From the Houston Chronicle:

President Bush acknowledged Monday that he has been in favor of regime change in Iraq since entering the White House.

But he dodged the question of whether he was plotting direct U.S. military action to take out Saddam Hussein long before Sept. 11, 2001.

"The stated policy of my administration towards Saddam Hussein was very clear. Like the previous administration, we were for regime change," Bush said. "And in the initial stages of the administration, as you might remember, we were dealing with Desert Badger, or fly-overs and fly-betweens and looks, as so we were fashioning policy along those lines. And then, all of a sudden, September the 11th hit."

The remarks were Bush's first response to criticism from former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who contends in a new book that Bush was already planning to oust Saddam within days of taking office.

Click here for more.

Of course, the one thing that I don't hear anyone mentioning now is the pre 9/11 map they showed on 60 Minutes Sunday of the Iraqi oil fields divvied up for plundering by US oil firms. If this whole thing was less about plans for invasion and more about concern for Saddam's WMDs, why the hell were they already trying to figure out how to loot Iraq? Clearly, O'Neill was right the first time and his retraction is because of White House bullying--Bush painting a picture of a simple containment policy doesn't ring true; it's obviously another one of his many lies.


Monday, January 12, 2004


From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

The Treasury Department is seeking an investigation into whether a classified document might have been shown during a TV show in which former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill spoke out against the Bush administration.

Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols said today that the department asked the Office of Inspector General to look into the matter. The request comes one day after a CBS "60 Minutes" segment aired featuring the blunt-talking O'Neill and the new book he is promoting, "The Price of Loyalty."

Click here for more.

Clearly, the Bush administration is in full punishment mode. Remember how senior White House officials leaked the name of a CIA agent in order to punish her husband for speaking out against Bush on the bogus Nigerian/Iraqi uranium deal? This is more of the same. This investigation is right up there on the sleaze scale with President Nixon's staff illegally obtaining Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatric records and leaking them in a nasty smear job over the release of the Pentagon papers. If there is any doubt that this is politically motivated, just ponder this observation made by Atrios:

Well, that was fast. How long did it take before an investigation into the "bogus" Plame incident began?

In fact, as Atrios further points out, this smear job started before the 60 Minutes interview even aired. From the official blog of the Democratic National Committe:

The moment the story broke that O'Neill was criticizing the Bush White House, the administration and its surrogates went into attack mode against the man who Bush described as "a straight shooter and an innovator."

Click here for more.

This investigation makes one thing clear: O'Neill must have the goods on Bush. Otherwise, the White House would have called him disgruntled and simply issued a denial; for some reason the Bush administration feels that nothing less than punishment will suffice.

Heh. I guess that means that Bush really is like a "blind man in a room full of deaf people."


Sunday, January 11, 2004

Jesus vs. the Beast of the Apocalypse

I have written many times here at Real Art, in the context of church and state issues, that the United States is a secular, rather than a Christian, nation. Outside of that context, too, it is clear that our nation, and many American Christians, do not even try to embrace central Biblical values; indeed, our nation is often a purveyor of evil, and the loudest Christian voices tend to support that evil.

From CounterPunch:

Evil presents itself as "respectability," as the established way of doing things, as the accepted social morality of a society. Evil hides, they say, in everydayness, in business as usual, in what is given honors and the highest praise. Evil poses as its opposite, for the goal of the Antichrist is to prevent the realization of God's kingdom on Earth, to destroy the possibility of human beings living together in love and peace upon the precious planet granted to us as our home by God.

If one thinks about it, this is fairly obvious. Evil could not be successful in preventing people from living together in peace and harmony on the Earth if it appeared to us as a hideous monster (the traditional image of the devil). We would see it for what it is and turn away in horror. But if evil can cloak itself in the image of good--if it can appear as its opposite--then the destruction of God's kingdom on Earth can proceed unhindered.

For more, click here.


The Logic of Withdrawal

From the Progressive, leftist historian and author of A People's History of the United States Howard Zinn offers the eventual Democratic presidential nominee a stump speech on the Iraq war to be used in his candidacy:

What is national security? This Administration defines national security as sending our young men and women around the world to wage war on country after country--none of them strong enough to threaten us. I define national security as making sure every American has health care, employment, decent housing, a clean environment. I define national security as taking care of our people who are losing jobs, taking care of our senior citizens, taking care of our children.

Our current military budget is $400 billion a year, the largest in our history, larger even than when we were in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. And now we will be spending an additional $87 billion for the war in Iraq. At the same time, we are told that the government has cut funds for health care, education, the environment, and even school lunches for children. Most shocking of all is the cut, in billions of dollars, for veterans' benefits.

If I became President, I would immediately begin to use the great wealth of our nation to provide those things, which represent true security.

Later in the speech, Zinn echoes Martin Luther King's sentiments about the Vietnam War:

I believe that we should use our great power not for military purposes but to bring food and medicine to those areas of the world that have been devastated by war, by disease, by hunger. If we took a fraction of our military budget we could combat malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS. We could provide clean water for the billion people in the world who don't have it and would save millions of lives. That would be an accomplishment we could be proud of. But how proud can we be of military victories over weak nations, in which we overthrow dictators but at the same time bomb and kill the people who are the victims of these dictators? And the tyrants we overthrow are very often the ones we have helped stay in power, like the Taliban in Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

We are at a turning point in the history of our nation. We can go on being a great military power, engaging in war after war, in which innocent people abroad and our own men and women die or are crippled for life. Or we can become a peaceful nation, always ready to defend ourselves, but not sending our troops and planes all over the world for the benefit of the oil interests and the other great corporations that profit from war.

If only we lived in a reality where a Democratic nominee might actually make such a speech. Click here for the rest.


War planning began early in Bush's term

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill contends the United States began laying the groundwork for an invasion of Iraq just days after President Bush took office in January 2001 -- more than two years before the start of the U.S.-led war that ousted Saddam Hussein.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," O'Neill told CBS' 60 Minutes in an interview to be aired tonight.

I guess I'm going to be watching 60 Minutes tonight. Click here.


Those WMDs: Bush's Case Weakens Further

From the Nation:

The evidence--or lack of evidence--continues to mount suggesting that Bush and his aides made false statements about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before the war. Remember all that alarmist rhetoric? In an October 2002 speech, Bush said Iraq had a "massive stockpile" of weapons of mass destruction. Vice President Dick Cheney claimed "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction...that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." In his famous presentation to the United Nations Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell declared, "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq, today, has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent."

Conservative estimate? None of these claims have come close to panning out. And it's not because--as some Bush-backers have suggested--Saddam Hussein was so good at hiding the stuff or because he managed to ship his arsenal to Syria before US troops came knocking. An extensive Washington Post front-page article published on January 7 and written by reporter Barton Gellman (and based on interviews with US weapons hunters and Iraqi weapons scientists and heretofore publicly unavailable Iraqi documentation) details the tremendous gap between the Bush rhetoric and the reality. It's not that Hussein was not interested in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. But Gellman found that Iraq's programs in these areas were either in suspension or far from advanced and that--most important of all--they were not even close to producing actual weapons.

Click here for more.


Saturday, January 10, 2004


Professsional asshole, David Horowitz, flaps his gums again:

Exactly how many poor people have progressives starved since 1917? It's a good question.

Russia was the breadbasket of Europe until progressives seized power that year and instituted policies to "share the wealth." For the next 70 years -- until socialism collapsed -- Russia was a net importer of food, always on the brink of famine.

In the 1930s, Josef Stalin instigated a campaign to collectivize farming in the Ukraine -- a campaign that created a man-made famine within a year, killing between 6 million and 11 million Ukrainians.

Click here for more bearded vomit.

How does shit like this even end up on an editor's desk?

Horowitz equates progressivism with Stalinism. Big mistake. Stalin was no progressive; he was a murderous totalitarian, the opposite of a progressive. Furthermore, Horowitz also equates the underhanded, economically barbaric tactics of both Stalin and Zimbabwe's moron-in-chief, Robert Mugabe, with ALL governmental interference in the economy aimed at benevolent ends--am I to conclude that, because Stalin was and Mugabe is evil, universal health care is somehow conceptually evil, too? This is pretty lousy conservative propaganda. To add insult to injury, Horowitz, with his "progressive chickens are coming home to roost" line, cynically quotes the fiery civil rights leader of the 1960s Malcolm X. I guess this is to establish Horowitz's credentials as someone who was there, man! Which, I suppose, means that he is also in the best position to ham-handedly bash 1960s ideals.

David Horowitz is either a nut or a cynical, pandering Limbaugh wannabe. His over-the-top, finger-wagging, lecturing bullshit utterly exemplifies my disgust with the baby boomer generation. In short, he's a pig.


Gay Dad Ordered To Stay in the Closet

As Atrios (from whom I got this link) said, "this is incredible." Check it out:

A state appeals court says a gay father must keep his homosexuality in the closet when his son is around.

But the state Court of Appeals says it was wrong for a lower court to send Joseph Randolph Hogue to jail for simply telling the boy he was gay.

It's short, but shocking. Click here.



Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean is currently getting a lot of flak for suggesting that some people believe that Bush had advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Never mind the fact that this flak amounts to a political smear because Dean didn't actually suggest that Bush knew: Bush, in fact, did know. Dean, and everybody else who doesn't have his head up inside his nether regions, ought to just come right out and say so. Bush knew--if he didn't know, he's retarded (he might be retarded, anyway, but that's another story). Check out this post from AlterNet:

Yes, we were warned, said the Bush administration, but who could have conceived of terrorists using airplanes for suicide bombings?

A lot of people, actually.

According to a Time Magazine story that appeared on Friday, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice is balking at requests to testify before Thomas Kean's September 11 commission under oath. She also wants her testimony to be taken behind closed doors, and not in public. The crux of her hesitation would appear on the surface to be her comments of May 16 2002, in which she used the above-referenced excuse that no one "could have predicted that they would try to use a hijacked airplane as a missile." If that excuse is reflective of reality, why does she fear to testify under oath?

Perhaps Ms. Rice fears testifying because too many facts are now in hand, thanks in no small part to the work of 9/11 widows like Kristen Breitweiser, which fly in the face of the administration's demurrals. For example, in 1993, a $150,000 study was commissioned by the Pentagon to investigate the possibility of an airplane being used to bomb national landmarks. A draft document of this was circulated throughout the Pentagon, the Justice Department and to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In 1994, a disgruntled Federal Express employee broke into the cockpit of a DC-10 with plans to crash it into a company building in Memphis.

That same year, a lone pilot crashed a small plane into a tree on the White House grounds, narrowly missing the residence. An Air France flight was hijacked by members of the Armed Islamic Group, which intended to crash the plane into the Eiffel Tower. In September 1999, a report titled "The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism" was prepared for U.S. intelligence by the Federal Research Division, an arm of the Library of Congress. It stated, "Suicide bombers belonging to al Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and Semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House."

And there's more: click here.

It's a pretty chilling thought, I know, but I now fully believe it to be true. President Bush's administration is absolutely the most criminal in US history: the blood of thousands, both the 9/11 dead and the Iraq war casualties, are on their hands. They must face justice.


Thursday, January 08, 2004


Lots of Iraq war news today.

Study: Bush Administration Misrepresented Weapons Threat

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Three experts at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said in a report today that the Bush administration systematically misrepresented a weapons threat from Iraq, and U.S. strategy should be revised to eliminate the policy of unilateral preventive war.

"It is unlikely that Iraq could have destroyed, hidden or sent out of the country the hundreds of tons of chemical and biological weapons, dozens of Scud missiles and facilities engaged in the ongoing production of chemical and biological weapons that officials claimed were present without the United States detecting some sign of this activity," said the report by Jessica T. Mathews, Joseph Cirincione and George Perkovich.

Click here.

U.S. Withdraws a Team of Weapons Hunters From Iraq

From the New York Times:

The Bush administration has quietly withdrawn from Iraq a 400-member military team whose job was to scour the country for military equipment, according to senior government officials.

The step was described by some military officials as a sign that the administration might have lowered its sights and no longer expected to uncover the caches of chemical and biological weapons that the White House cited as a principal reason for going to war last March.

A separate military team that specializes in disposing of chemical and biological weapons remains part of the 1,400-member Iraq Survey Group, which has been searching Iraq for more that seven months at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. But that team is "still waiting for something to dispose of," said a survey group member.

Click here.

U.S. copter shot down in Iraq, killing 9

And a C-5 transport plane was also hit. Again from the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

A U.S. Black Hawk medivac helicopter crashed today near this stronghold of the anti-American insurgency, killing all nine soldiers aboard, the U.S. military said. A witness said the helicopter, which bore red crosses, was hit in the tail by a rocket.


At Baghdad International Airport, meanwhile, an Air Force C-5 transport plane with 63 passengers and crew aboard made an emergency landing, and a senior official at the Pentagon said the plane was hit by hostile fire.

The military also said a U.S. soldier died Wednesday of injuries suffered in a mortar attack that wounded 33 other troops and a civilian west of Baghdad.

The deaths brought to at least 495 the number of Americans killed in Iraq from hostile and non-hostile causes since the start of the war in March, according to the U.S. Central Command and the Department of Defense.

Click here.

So...a study shows what we knew already, that the White House lied about Iraq's WMDs. The Oval Office as much as admits it by yanking its search team. Meanwhile, the carnage continues: American boys continue to die; Iraqis continue to die. Nothing is amazing about all that. What's amazing is that the US population seems to be greeting such news with a collective yawn.

What the hell is going on?



As the number of Americans without access to health care rapidly approaches the 25% mark, how are those who are lucky enough to have insurance faring?

From ZNet:

Now we can see why the big health care/insurer corporations have raised premiums so rapidly during the 2000-2003 slump. As returns on many investments began to decline with the end of the 1990s boom, insurers were able to offset this decline in their own income ledgers by sharply raising premiums.

Under cover of raising premiums to keep up with escalating medical costs, they got away with raising premiums faster than the rise in costs. The result was a run of exceptionally profitable years for health insurers.

It wasn't always so. In the mid-1990s, profitability was low for health insurers, despite the booming economy, due to the false expectation that cost-cutting imposed by HMOs and by mergers would end health care inflation. To reach higher levels of profitability called for double-digit premium increases.

Click here for more.