Saturday, April 22, 2006

No elections this year? Karl Rove's new job.

Initially when the news came out this week that Karl Rove was having domestic policy role taken away, some thought that he was being demoted. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. It's pretty clear now that he needs all his attention focused on saving the GOP majority in Congress. Just imagine what might happen if the Democrats took control of one, or both, Houses of Congress.

Suddenly there might be all kinds of investigations into domestic spying, military tribunals, extraordinary renditions, WMD lies, Halliburton no-bid contracts, Katrina failures, pre-9/11warnings ignored, Jack Abramoff, K-Street, Enron...well, you get the idea, the list is endless. There's no amount of trouble the administration could be in, especially after all these years the of the Democrats being shut out of drafting legislation and being made to vote on something they had no hand in and never saw. Payback could be real hell, so Republicans are desperately hoping Rove can pull them out of this mess, before it's too late.

That's provided, of course, that he doesn't get indicted before the elections. In that case, we might have to drop a nuke on Tehran to get everyone's minds off the fact that even though he's been indicted he's still working at the White House. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to think that even if we were behind bars, he'd still be running the show at the White House.

Along with all the other problems the administration is having there's yet another revelation coming about the evidence of Iraq's WMD, or lack thereof. The NYT reports today that another former CIA official, Tyler Drumheller, is going to tell 60 Minutes this Sunday that Bush and Cheney knew that Iraq had no WMD in September of 2002. Drumheller says that a paid informant in Saddam's inner circle, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, told the CIA in September of 2002 that Iraq had no WMD.

He says he thought that must mean the war was off, but he was surprised to find out shortly afterwards that it wasn't. Drumheller recalled, "And we said, 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said, 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change." [NYT]

So the whole time that W., Condi and Rummy were scaring the world with visions of mushroom clouds and Colin Powell was telling tales of robot planes loaded with anthrax and mobile chemical weapons labs, they knew that it was all bogus. They knew they couldn't sell regime change, because W. had run on a 'no nation building' platform, and besides, the American people would never go to war to help Iraqis, so their only option was WMD.

Just imagine what the Democrats could do with that little tidbit of info if they were in control of Congress. Actually, come to think of it, with all this at stake, Rove just might decide that elections are too much of a risk and cancel them.

Who is the bigger killer?

Amnesty International reports that executions last year by countries around the world are down. The trend seems to be that more and more countries are getting the idea that executions are a bad thing. In 1977 only 16 countries had abolished executions and now it’s up to 86. Among the top four countries still killing their citizens are, in order: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. We're in such good company!

China officially reports 1,770 executions; but that number is probably considerably larger (all those organs aren't going to harvest themselves!). I can see why W. was "livid" about that Falun Gong protester calling Hu Jintao a killer. Just think about how many people W. could execute if it wasn't for all those activist judges and frivolous appeals!

Unfortunately for Chimpy, he couldn't belly up to the bar with the Chinese; we only had 60 executions last year. But that's better that Pakistan who only had 31, or Yemen at 24, or Libya who had a measly 6! Strangely enough, Cuba didn't make the list. That island country, after all, is the epicenter of communist re-education camps, religious persecution and political prisoners, right? No...China is?

But our president just had the leader of that country over to the White House for Champaign, Butter Heirloom and Corn Broth. And he even apologized for having offended him! No crazy woman from a group that is being viciously and brutally repressed by the Chinese government is going to get away with yelling at the Chinese president at the White House of all places!

I don't understand, could any of you right wing bloggers out there explain to me why Cuba is more of a dictatorship than China is and why your great white leader is saying he's sorry for offending the leader of the biggest communist country in the world?


The twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl melt down is on the 26th of this month. The world actually didn't find out about the accident until two days later on the 28th, because the Soviet authorities didn't bother to tell anyone. In the meantime, the radiation cloud spread over a large part of Europe, possibly putting tens of thousands of people in danger of developing cancer and dying in the future. Or not...

All the old arguments about how many people actually died are back again. I seem to remember an interview NPR did back on the tenth anniversary with some shill from the nuclear industry who claimed casualties from Chernobyl so low as to be inconsequential. And, anyway, such a thing could never happen here because American nuclear power plants are so much safer. (By the way, have you heard about the new unsinkable ocean-liner called the Titanic?)

There's a new Greenpeace report out which says that 90,000 people were likely to die from the fallout of Chernobyl. A UN study, on the other hand, says fewer than 10,000 will. No doubt, the nuclear industry stands behind the UN report because, after all, nuclear energy is a green technology. It wouldn't the help the Bush administration's effort to have the tax payers subsidize the nuclear industry and the building of new plants if people thought a nuclear accident could be dangerous or that the effects of such a disaster would last for centuries. No, no! And even when accidents have happened in American ---which they haven't ---like Three Mile Island; everything was handled expertly and safely and not even a cow was harmed. The World Nuclear Association assures us that, "There were no injuries or adverse health effects from the accident."

All those lefties out there who are making a big stink about W. using nukes in Iran should just shut up. So what if our nuclear-tipped bunker-buster bombs turn out to actually create a radiation cloud that spreads throughout the Middle East and South Asia? No one was hurt from the cloud from Chernobyl, right? And if this is really a concern, I'm sure we'll decide to drop our bombs when the wind is blowing away form Israel. So what's the big deal?

Anyway, all this talk about the horrible deaths of some of those who helped put the fire out at Chernobyl, like the fireman who took fourteen days to die as his organs melted and came out through his mouth, are just scare tactics used by the anti-nuclear crowd, who really want more greenhouse gases. The UN report says that out of the 600,000 people involved in the clean up of Chernobyl, only about 4,000 have been affected. (Wow, radiation really is safe!) Greenpeace, on the other hand, says that statistics from Belarus alone showed 270,000 cases of cancer related to Chernobyl. Out of that number they estimate 93,000 will die.

But who are you going to believe? A lefty bunch of whale huggers or an organization that puts a few hundred refugee Gypsies in a camp on top of a former lead smelting factory and then leaves them there for six years?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Less for the troops, more for crappy toys.

The AP reports that the Senate is considering the president's emergency appropriation for spending on the war in Iraq, and is planning to cut money for the troops in order to add $231 million for the V-22 Osprey. [C-17] This is the Marine Corps. $18 billion boondoggle that takes off like a helicopter and crashes like a plane. Funding would be cut for "night-vision goggles, equipment for destroying mines and explosives, fire suppression systems for light armor vehicles," and for replacements for equipment that we're losing over there everyday.

Since the 1980's when production began, the Osprey has been better at killing passengers than at transporting Marines, but it's popular with politicians, especially those from the states that manufacture it. In particular those from Delaware, Pennsylvania and Texas. Way to support the troops!

Is this a part of all that transforming Rummy is doing in the pentagon that the generals are all worked up about?

Like bull in a China shop.

Chinese president Hu Jintao's trip to the U.S. seemed to be going fairly well, he attended a love fest with Bill Gates and signed a few checks for Boeing in Washington State, but then he went to Washington DC and everything fell apart. You'd think the White House and the State Department could have managed not to offend a foreign dignitary, particularly one that we owe so much money to. But no:

Dana Milbank at the WaPo reports that while Bush and Hu stood at attention for the presentation of the two national anthems, the announcer said: "Ladies and Gentlemen, the national anthem of the Republic of China, followed by the national anthem of the United States." The problem with there was is that the Republic of China is Taiwan, not the People's Republic. Oopse! And then there was the reporter from the Falun Gong paper, Wenyi Wang, who heckled Hu, screaming, "President Hu, your days are numbered!" and "President Bush, stop him from killing!" before being hustled away by the secret service. (It's assumed she was yelling at Hu and not at Bush, it's difficult to tell.)

W. reportedly leaned over the Hu while this was going on and said, "You're OK," meaning go ahead with your speech, but there's no word on whether Hu actually understands English. In any case, once again W. had to say he was sorry to the Chinese. The last time we said we're 'very, sorry' to the Chinese was almost three years ago to the day, on April 1st 2001, after one of their hotshot fighter pilots crashed his place into one of our EP-3 spy planes over the South China sea. In that incident we had to say we were sorry so they'd give us back our crew and plane. The crew was released after a week and the plane was chopped up and crated back to the U.S. a while later.

Is this administration just incapable of doing anything right, or was this all on purpose? How did the National Security press office not see red flags popping up when a reporter from a Falun Gong paper applied for a press pass? I'm not saying she should have been barred for being in the Falun Gong --- we, after all, tolerate lots of cults, like Scientology and the Mormons --- but you'd thing they would have kept an eye on her.

It appears that this isn't the first time Wenyi had heckled a Chinese leader. Milbank writes "A quick Nexis search shows that in 2001, she slipped through a security cordon in Malta protecting [former PM] Jiang [Zemin](she had been denied media credentials) and got into an argument with him." And why did it take so long for the Secret Service to get to her out of there? Something tells me it wouldn't have taken that long if someone was calling Bush a killer.

The Chinese appeared to handle this all with understanding and grace, but the AP quotes Derek Mitchell, a former Asia adviser for the pentagon as saying, China "must know that this Bush administration is good at controlling crowds for themselves, and the fact that they couldn't control this is going to play to their worst fears and suspicions about the United States, into mistrust about American intentions toward China." (Another diplomatic success!)

I kind of find it ironic that W. lectured Hu on China's need to respect free speech and religious freedom, but his government is thinking about having Wenyi Wang charged with a felony for "intimidating a foreign official." Wasn't she exercising her right to free speech, speaking truth to power? Hu is a communist dictator, isn't he? Isn't that the sort of thing we encourage, speaking out for democracy?

At this point, I don't know how much we can really say to the Chinese about human rights anyway. Even as W. and Hu were having their luncheon, not an official state dinner, the pentagon was releasing its list of names of those who we've been holding at Gitmo. The Chinese say we're holding 22 of their citizens who they want returned for trial on terrorism charges. In particular, they want back the Uighurs we're holding. The U.S. says we can't send them back because they'd be tortured. (It's not like we'd ever torture anyone)

The Uighurs in question were actually found by a military tribunal not to be "enemy combatants," and a Federal judge said they should be released, but the government says they have to continue to hold them at Gitmo because they can't find another country that will offer them asylum. It appears, the rest of the world is afraid of making China mad and the U.S. won't dare to help them either.

Remember, back in the good old days when we used to support the Uighurs and their aspirations for freedom in Xinjiang? Back in the Clinton's day they used to wave American flags, but these days anyone who fights for their freedom is a terrorist.

Though most people might think this turned out to be a major diplomatic disaster, the neocons who support Taiwanese independence and are always writing books about the coming clash with China, will be happy. There was a lot of talk in the news about China's lack of transparency about its military spending and what they're really up to, but I don't think they're anywhere near challenging us militarily in the Pacific. They spend about $30 billion a year on their military, maybe a little more off the books, but we spend $460 billion a year. Maybe if we didn't spend 40% of our entire budget on the pentagon and its big ticket toys we wouldn't have to borrow so much from the Chinese and then they wouldn't be such a threat. I don't know, just a thought.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Paul Kane and the madman at the helm.

Recently there has been an avalanche of op-eds and straight news articles pushing the notion that a war with Iran is inevitable.Think tank policy wonks and so-called "experts" are being given free reign to once again manufacture a "crisis" that really only exists in the minds of the people that brought us the debacle in Iraq. Although, a small minority of voices in the foreign policy establishment actually think Iran is within striking distance of making a bomb in the near term, the fevered imaginings of these advocates of war-pestilence-and-death are being given equal weight in the editorial pages of the nation's papers in the interests of "balance."

As the disaster in Iraq goes from bad to worse and the political prospects of the Republicans in the midterm elections become ever bleaker, the calls for a new war are getting louder and shriller. A case in point is the column by Paul Kane in today's op-ed section of the New York Times. The former Marine and current fellow at the Kennedy School of Government writes that "President Bush and Congress should reinstitute selective service...for young males and females," in order to "send a strong message" to "outside powers like Russia and China" that we're serious about ensuring that Iran will never possess a nuclear weapon. Only by preparing for "Totale Krieg," can we "dissuade our foes and avoid actual war," Kane believes.

Full mobilization will prove to the Iranians that George W. Bush is as much of a "madman at the helm," as Ronald Reagan was during the Cold War. By engaging Iranian public opinion; by showing them the cost of their nuclear ambitions in "blood, treasure, time and standing," war will become more unlikely. Kane thinks that the perception by a majority of people in the world of Bush as the greatest danger to world peace is one that should be exploited. "Go with the flow," Kane writes, "why let them down on this count?" By striking fear into the hearts of the peoples of the world, America can stay out of war.

And since here at home the president has "little political capital to lose at this stage," he should impose the draft and let "America's elites and ordinary citizens alike know that they may be called upon for wartime service and sacrifice." How Kane proposes that the president would convince Congress to go along with a reinstituting the draft in an election year and with his approval ratings in the toilet, he doesn't say.

The entire premise of Kane's column is totally divorced from any kind of political or military reality and is completely ludicrous. Why the editors of the Times even considered publishing such lunacy is beyond me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

McClellen Quits!

Scott McClellen is calling it quits! Apparently, all the lying for Bush has finally got to him.

The WaPo reports:

"McClellan's resignation was not unexpected." I wouldn't think so, especially after all the beatings he's been taking lately from the press. Bush said, "I thought he handled his assignment with class, integrity. It's going to be hard to replace Scott, but nevertheless he made the decision and I accepted it."

When Ari Fleischer left, I thought there wasn't any way possible they could find anyone more full of crap, sorry, I mean 'integrity, but they managed it somehow. McClellen exceled at BS and this time it will be hard to replace him. Who are they going to find who is willing to stand up there and defend Rummy and the war and the spying and the previous lying etc.? WHO?

Decider-in-chief gets chimpy.

Yesterday in the Rose Garden W. said, again, that he's decided Rummy is doing a great job, and to put a finer point on this, he said he doesn't "appreciate the criticism of Don Rumsfeld." (If this keeps up, he's going to become Rummy's secretary of defense.) He's really getting testy now, better not mess with Texas. First there was Abu Ghraib, then Guantanamo, and now all these damn generals saying Rummy blew it in Iraq! What must really rankle with Chimpy is that this, by extension, must mean that he's really at fault because he keeps standing behind His Defensivness. Goodness gracious!

Lately, W. has been trying to pretend that he's open to tough questions, but that all went out the window when he got all huffy and reminded the press that he's the decider-in-chief. "I'm the decider, I decide what's best, ." and then stormed off; so much for open-minded W.

Maybe, if either of them had the humility to admit that they'd made some mistakes, or at the very least, can tolerate criticism of any kind, people might give them some slack. In a weird kind of way, Rummy kind of showed a little bit of faux humility when he said "grave yards all over the world are filled with 'indispensable men,'" when he was trying to explain that he serves at the convenience of the president. (Where have I heard that before?), but the problem is, his policies are filling up our grave yards with other people's sons and daughters who really are indispensable to them.

It would be nice if he could admit that his blunders have cost thousands of lives, like Ulysses Grant did in his memoirs about the disaster at Cold Harbor. Grant lost 7000 troops in 7 minutes against Lee's fully entrenched graycoats in a pointless frontal assault. This was perhaps one of the greatest military blunders in our military history. Grant didn't blame it on the press or the State Department or his generals, no, he said:

"I have always regretted that last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made. I might say the same thing of the assault of the 22nd of May, 1863, at Vicksburg. At Cold Harbor no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy losses we sustained. Indeed, the advantages other than those of relative losses, were on the Confederate side."

[Personal Memoirs: Chapter VL]

Of course, Grant could afford to admit his errors a little more easily, because he actually knew what he was doing and actually won the war, unlike Rummy who has no idea of what he's doing and is on the way to losing, not one war, but two.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A black eye for Sebastian the Ibis.

Will wonders never cease? There's a hunger strike going on at suntan U over the university’s opposition to allowing its janitors unionize. I lived in Miami for thirty years --I actually lived on the UM campus for three years --- and I can't remember ever seeing anything even remotely political going on there. (Beyond the obligatory anti-Castro crap)

Certainly, I never heard the word "union" for the first twenty years I lived in Florida, which is a 'right to work' state (i.e. right to work for minimum wage). When I was a youngster, my first job was at a Winn-Dixie and the first thing the store manager said to me was: "we don't go for unions here, boy." [say with redneck drawl] I wasn't even sure what he was talking about, but the idea of him being afraid of a bagboy's union just seemed ridiculous even then.

In any case, the issue at hand at the UM is six janitors and five students on a hunger strike to force the university president, Donna Shalala, Clinton's former secretary of health and human services, to allow the janitors to unionize. [The offical website of the protest] The strike has been going on for 13 days and out of the university's 425 janitors the union, the Employees International Union, says 200 have been on a sevenweek-long walkout. Shalala says its half that, but there's no sign of this issue going away anytime soon because of Shalala's intransigence.

The Union wants the subcontractor that employs the janitors, Unicco, to let them sign union card checks but Shalala says they should vote with secret ballots. Shalala says, "The hunger strike is quite distressing. I've never heard of a hunger strike for card checks." [NYT] Well, you have now. Maybe, if she was making $17,000 a year instead of the $516,904 she makes as president, she'd be even more distressed.

This is the best part: Shalala set up a committee, that the janitors weren't invited to join, to come up with recommendations for a decent wage. The committee came up with the idea of giving the janitors health coverage and a raise, from $6.40 an hour, to a whopping $8.55!!!!! My God, they're making $6.40 an hour? I Miami? Is Shalala kidding? Shalala (aka Marie Antoinette) says, "We've raised wages so we're now on top of the market." Just because that's the high end of the retail wage scale in Miami doesn't mean that's the top of the market. On what planet can anyone pay rent and buy food on $8.55 an hour?

Shalala says, "My position is that we cannot take a position against an election, and we should not dictate to our contractor that they have to take one legal way versus another." Why not, they work for the university, too, right? If they don't like it they can lump it or leave. Bethany Quinn, one of the hunger strikers, says, "The university is who pays Unicco. They have a contract. They have all the power to say, 'This is what needs to be done." Damn straight! Shalala's hands aren't tied; it's just a matter of her having the moral courage to do what's right.

And how is having a hunger striker camp in front of the university better than paying a living wage? How does this benefit the students and trustees of the UM? And what if someone gets seriously ill or dies? The Alumni should be mortified that this is going on. No amount of Hurricane football National Championships will cover up dead hunger strikers.

I remember when I lived at the UM, my mom and me lived in a hovel in the family-student housing section of campus. The apartments had been built back during the New Deal and they looked like it. But the Hurricanes, who were just getting good back then, got new fancy digs with their own laundry rooms and all the amenities. These jocks got to pass their phys-ed classes without even bothering to show up, attacked students in drunken brawls and got away scott-free. Maybe, the janitors should try out for the team, and then they might get some attention.

[Note: Here's a letter to Unicco from a number of janitor unions 4 years ago. Unicco has contracts all over the country on university campuses and they've been up to teir "flagrant anti-family and anti-worker shenanigans" for a long time. One might ask havin gthis history, why the UM hired them in the first place.]

Congressman Hayworth has the white vote all sown up.

Gosh, I wish I could have the chance to show the entire country how ignorant I am in the pages of the NYT like the Kitlicas of Scottsdale Arizona did. All these protests against the House bill to make undocumented workers felons have really torked off a lot of white Americans like Al and Diane Kitlica. "You want to stay here and get an education, get benefits, and you still want to say 'Viva Mexico?'" Diane asks in exasperation. She's mad as hell and she isn't going to take it anymore. She and Al are volunteering for the Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R. Az.) in his reelection bid, and I say bully for them.

Their man Hayworth says the very sight of millions of Hispanics in the streets has had "some kind of backfire effect," and he's taking full advantage of it by demagoging it all the way back to Congress. "We have indicted felons from other societies on the loose here," he says. "You see the exponential rise of drug resistant T.B. and other things. This is not indicting an entire culture [although he's like to], but it is pointing out a problem."

Yes, because Mexicans are the only ones that are susceptible to diseases and crime. Not like the white European illegals like the Russians, Poles, Italians (are they really white?) and the Irish. Here in Philly we don't have the problems they have in Arizona with the Mexicans, but there are a lot of Poles here and I don't think they're all legal, either. Many of them don't know a word of English! In fact, they're so resistant to learning English that the local library has a whole section of books in Polish. Can you believe it? The money being spent on buying books in Polish could be used on getting some David Duke books in or something!

I'm pig biting mad about all those Mexican flags, too. How dare people come here and take advantage of our generosity and flaunt their country's flags! Here in Philly we have this parade every year on March the 17th where the dirty Irish fill the streets with their flags, music and drunken anti-American behavior. Every time I buy a pizza I have to have the Italian flag shoved in my face! And they breed like rabbits! I, like Rep. Hayworth, say: Enough is enough!

In his new book, "Whatever it takes," Hayworth advocates, according to the NYT, "enlisting agencies like the Internal Revenue Service to find illegal immigrants; arresting and deporting them all; deploying military troops on the southern border; and temporarily suspending legal immigration from Mexico."

I would go further, I would round up all the illegal Irish, who are probably IRA terrorists, end all legal immigration from Russia (a world leader in AIDs and T.B. and mob activity), and build a wall along the entire border between us and Canada, too. After all, two of the 9/11 attackers came over the Canadian border with no problem at all. Why would terrorists bother hiding in car trunks or risk dying of thirst in the desert when they can just walk across the Canadian border without as much as a how-do-you-do?

The only answer to our immigration problem is to round up everybody, except the descendants of the Mayflower, put all everyone in camps and let God sort them out.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Support the students at U-Va.!

The WaPo reports today that the administration of the University of Virginia had 17 students arrested for protesting the university's low wages for campus employees.

"If anything, the arrests on the Charlottesville campus seemed to fuel the passion of the student activists, several said in telephone interviews...Today, the students said, the demonstrations will continue outside the Albemarle County Courthouse in support of the detained students, who are scheduled to go before a judge at 8:30 a.m."

Good for them. Keep the faith.

The Post quotes Abby Bellows, a fourth-year student from Fairfax County and one of several organizers of the campus's Living Wage Campaign as saying, 'The big-picture message here is that the living wage movement is only growing stronger.' said Abby Bellows, a fourth-year student from Fairfax County and one of several organizers of the campus's Living Wage Campaign. 'The university is being irresponsible in its treatment of workers . . . forcing some of them to rely on food stamps and second jobs."

The University isn't winning any friends with the arrests and the tactics they used before that. The Daily Progress reported that during last week when the students occupied Madison Hall:

"The university cut off the students' wireless access at the close of the business day on Wednesday and initially prohibited any deliveries to the students. A pile of food outside the guarded building grew, and eventually Casteen OK'd the distribution of food to the students. Top administrators said that some of the food was not given to the students because it may have spoiled after sitting outside for several hours. Students outside said their peers within had received only a bag of bagels. Several student sources claimed to have found in a nearby dumpster nonperishable food - including several boxes of granola bars and tubs of peanut butter - that had been left for the students."

The students are asking for a raise from $9.37 to $10.72. University President John T. Casteen III wrote that he believes "our schedules are fair, that they do not constitute what you have represented to the public as poverty wages." He thinks $9.37 an hour is a livable? What planet is this guy on? Even $10.72 is poverty wages.

As I wrote before about the living wage, there was a study done in 2004 that showed there were only four counties in the entire US where a minimun wage worker could afford to pay rent, never mind the rest.

A FDR said:

"Liberty requires opportunity to make a living --- a decent living according to the standard of the time, a living which gives a man not only enough to live by, but something to live for."

It's heartening to see another generation of Americans stepping up to their rendezvous with destiny to fight for the rights of their fellow citizens.

War powers discusion in Congress September 14 2001

And what about the congressional discussions over the president's war powers?

The Post reports: (Link gone)

"In the negotiations over a resolution to authorize military action against terrorists and the countries that harbor them, lawmakers sought to give their blessing to military strikes without resorting to a declaration of war, which was last issued after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. 'This situation is far different than Pearl Harbor' and should be treated as such, said Sen. John Warner (R.Va) of the Armed Services Committee...Others feared that, without carefully drawn restrictions, it could wind up resembling the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that President Lyndon Johnson used to expand the war in Vietnam.

Some especially objected to a provision proposed by the White House to allow force to 'deter and preempt any related future acts of terrorism and aggression against the United States,' arguing it gave the president far too much powers. Many lawmakers think president Bush already has the power to strike back at terrorists, but said the White House wanted a congressional authorization to strengthen the country's hand if force is used."

It doesn't sound like Congress was exactly falling over them selves to give W. the power to start wars whenever he felt like it.

In another article on dealing with terrorism and about the idea of setting up special tribunals for terrorists:

"Lawmakers were not prepared yesterday to grant Bush's initial request for unrestricted authority to wage war, fearing that such a resolution could return to haunt them if things turned sour." Boy, were they ever right! Again, it doesn't sound like there was a groundswell in Congress, despite the ongoing fear after 9/11, to give W. Cart Blanc to eavesdrop without warrants and all the rest. Certainly, they were asking for the moon, but Congress didn't give it to them.

Chinese joyous reaction to 9/11:

But we all know about the Palestinians; they're all terrorists, what about our good friends the Chinese?

John Pomfret wrote that:

"Many [Chinese] in their offices, schools and internet chats have voiced satisfaction at what they describe as a well-deserved blow against U.S. arrogance. The government, with a carefully calibrated official reaction, has done little to discourage those who rejoice at seeing the United States taken down a notch. Chinese authorities have not ordered government buildings to fly flags at half-staff, for instance, and the government's own statements have left diplomats and scholars feeling that the leadership is worried about appearing too pro-American.

China's security services, usually quick to suppress the internet when it is used for political purposes, have tolerated an avalanche of postings lauding the attacks on message boards...So far, anti-American screeds have won hands down. 'We've been bullied by America for too long!' said one typical message posted on the electronic bulletin board of Beijing University. 'Finally, someone helped us to vent a little.'

'I'm happy not because I support terrorism,' said another, 'I'm happy because I hate America.'

More on September 14, 2001

Meanwhile, George "triumph of the" Will was busy stirring up anti-Muslim hysteria a la Netanyahu in an Op-ED in this edition... After blathering on about the 9/11 attacks probably killing more Americans than the Revolutionary War and the Civil War combined and writing that the CIA and the FBI are on the front lines of "what Israel's former Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, calls the 'a war to reverse the triumph of the West...'"

He writes:

"Surely Washington will see less of Yasser Arafat, the most frequent foreign visitor to Clinton's White House. (It's all Clinton's fault!) Surely we will hear less talk about Israel's attempts to preempt terrorism being 'inflammatory' and 'provocative.' Such signs of U.S. irresolution and squeamishness tempt terrorists to believe they can bend U.S. policy." (Not that Israel ever tries to bend our policies.)

The message here is that Muslims are crazy --- they have "lunatic fearlessness" --- and they're bent on destroying the West and also that, in order to fight terror we have to leave Israel the hell alone to do whatever it wants.

And while we were looking the other way...Israel takes advantage of our tragedy:

The WaPo: The Israelis launched an offensive, "in Palestinian-controlled territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that has killed a dozen Palestinians in the last three days. A spokesman for the Israeli Army said the operations, including deep incursions by columns of tanks, were intended to 'eliminate terrorist activities...' But independent Israeli analysts and Palestinians said Israel is taking advantage of the terror attacks on the United States to carry out raids that might otherwise have attracted criticism.

'These actions couldn't have gone on for so long if it weren't for the attack on the World Trade Center,' said Roni Daniel, military correspondent for Israel's Channel 2 television station. 'This is a window of opportunity that the Israeli army will use to push [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat into a corner.'

In latest operation, a column of Israeli tanks accompanied by infantry roared into the sleepy Jordan Valley town of Jericho before down today...The forces destroyed a small Palestinian barracks and badly damaged two houses. By the time the forces had withdrawn this morning, 13 Palestinians were wounded, including one woman who was hit by shrapnel in her bed..."

Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said "He's [Sharon] using this for two things. First to do whatever he wants without anybody watching him. Second he's trying to package this for the world as if he's fighting terrorism."

Just like Vlad Putin would later do for his pet war in Chechnya.

The exploitation of 9/11: Case in point.

I just happened to find a WaPo from September 14th 2001 in my closet today and I thought it might be interesting to look back on what was being written back then and find out if anyone was talking about attacking Iraq at that early date. It didn't take me but a minute to come across this article on the front page about the CIA's effort to get OBL from the early nineties:

"Former CIA director R. James Woolsey said that Iraq would have multible targets for military planners if it is conclusivly demonstrated that that Iraq 'had a substancial hand' in Tuesday's attacks. Should such evidence materialize, Woolsey said, 'all instruments of power to the Iraqi state should be destroyed: The Republican Guard, everything associated with Saddam Hussein, everything associated with their weapons of mass destruction program.'

Woolsy says he believes there is evidence suggesting that Ramzi Ahmed Youssef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was an Iraqi intelligence agent. 'If Iraq is behind the '93 attack, its never really paid any price for that --- and we can start right there,' he said. 'But if it's behind the '93 attack, there's a good chance it's behind this one."

Gosh, I wonder if Woolsey got one of those calls that Wesley Clark says he got on 9/11 telling him to push the Iraq angle?

United 93:

The Inquirer had an article about two new movies coming out about 9/11 and reporter Alfred Lubrano asks if we're ready for them. I'd say maybe, but not for a fictionalized retelling of United flight 93. This isn't history, its propaganda. No one knows what really happened on 93 beyond a tape loop on the plane's Blackbox recorder and a few phone calls from the passengers. How can any make an entire movie about the "heroes" of flight 93 with nothing more that?

Lubrano asks, "Are studios exploiting pain for profit?" Well duh, of course they are and I think it's despicable. The movie company is even using family members of those who died in the plane to push the movie. In the movie's press materials they quote Allison Vadhan, daughter of flight 93 passenger Kristin White Gould, as saying she thinks it's a great idea. "We have to remember what happened." But no one knows what happened. I understand some families might want to see their dead loved ones portrayed as heroes, but is this the way to do it? Create out of whole clothe a story based on what some think may have happened on the flight? I'm sure Karl Rove is happy about the prospect, maybe he can recreate some 9/11 buzz for the upcoming 06' elections! This is the danger of movie producers trying to turn a buck on the tragedy of 9/11. Bush & Co. have already exploited 9/11 to the hilt to get us into two wars and endanger our very democratic way of life. We don't need Hollywood pushing our buttons for a profit.

I think the whole idea is totally perverted. According to the Inquirer story I'm not the only person who thinks so, either. "A trailer for United 93 elicited powerful reactions from audiences in New York and Los Angeles. A Manhattan theater pulled the teaser after complaints. People in a Hollywood theater shouted, 'Too soon.' A poll of moviegoers showed that 12 percent said they wouldn't see United 93 --- a significant number given that typical negative responses for a movie are often near 1 percent." (If only people were so worked up about the shameless exploitation of 9/11 on the part of the Bush administration to get us into a pointless war that has left 2,745 U.S. troops dead in Iraq.)

I can't even bare to look at any of the footage of 9/11 without reliving all the pain of that day. I can't imagine going to a theater to watch a 120 movie about 40 people dying in a futile attempt to take control of flight 93. What on Earth are the producers of this movie thinking? And what might some of those who do go see it think about their Arab-American neighbors afterwards? Will we have a rerun of all the violence that went on right after 9/11 against Muslims? The emotions of 9/11 are still very raw; I think Hollywood is playing with fire.

Anthony Zinni rebukes Clinton, but that's OK.

I found this article about Anthony Zinni, one of the generals calling for Rummy to resign, right after 9/11 from the WaPo on September 14, 2001:

"U.S. Military action against Afghanistan and other countries in the region without accompanying economic and diplomatic moves would only make battle against terrorism more difficult, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former commander of U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Southeast Asia said yesterday. 'You can't just go in and devestate a country,' said Zinni. 'A military approach that strikes and leaves will only perpetuate the problem' by inflaming anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world."

And interestingly:

"During his tenure, Zinni publicly criticized the Clinton administration's support for Iraqi exile groups that said they could overthrow Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, an idea supported by many Republicans on Capital Hill and by the new Bush administration. Unseating Hussein, he argued at the time, would create a destabilizing power vacuum in Iraq, which borders Iran, and push the region into war."

I wonder where all the uproar was over a serving general criticizing the president? Oh right, it was Clinton, so it was OK. Jesse Helms could threaten Clinton's life and that was OK too. But don't go after Rummy!

Mutiny on the Rummy, part II

All this talk of Rummy having to resign or be fired is just making W. more stubborn. (Big surprise.) He issued a written statement on Thursday saying that Rummy "is doing a very fine job during a challenging period in our nation's history." Of course, part of the reason it's so challenging is because of all the blunders Rummy has made. If it hadn't been for him taking his eye off the ball in Afghanistan and letting OBL escape to fight another day, maybe the Taliban wouldn't be learning how to make IEDs from the Iraqi insurgents right now. More Americans died in Afghanistan last year than had died the previous three years. Now that's progress!

Rummy told al-Arabiya TV, "Obviously out of thousands of admirals and generals, if every time two or three [or six] people disagreed, we changed the secretary of defense, it would be like a merry-go-round around here." Right, except that there are only 850 or so generals and admirals, not thousands. And the ones who have a problem with Rummy's style aren't some toothless mob of torch wielding yahoos calling for Rummy's head. This is coming from six retired generals (so far), many of whom have actually served in Iraq, who say Rummy has made major military mistakes and they say they reflect the thinking of others still in uniform. This can't be dismissed as easily as all the congressmen, citizens and editorial pages from all over the country were in 2004, when they called for his resignation after the Abu Ghraib pictures came out.

Oh but, General Peter Pace came out and said he supports him, that proves Rummy has the support of the military. What a surprise that a currently serving general, who probably got his job because of his loyalty to Rummy, is saying this! And there's retired general Richard Myers, who also says Rummy is doing a great job. Man, the voices coming out in support of Rummy are just overwhelming, aren't they? Although, I wouldn’t say Myers exactly helped Rummy's cause on ABC's This Week yesterday. He looked like a dear in the headlights as George Stephanopoulos pelted him with all those hard questions about the mess in Iraq. The best part came when he tried to say that general Shinseki’s now notorious estimate that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to secure Iraq wasn't really what he meant to say. Myers claims that Shinseki was backed into a corner by a congressman's questioning. I guess that's why he was smeared by Rummy & Co. and cashiered shortly afterwards.

The issue of how many troops would be needed is the crux of the whole argument for Rummy's departure. It's not that these generals speaking out now were against the war back then, most of them are Republicans after all, what they're saying is that there was a longstanding plan for an invasion of Iraq based on military doctrine developed over thirty years that called for overwhelming force, and Rummy, despite their best advise, threw it in the trash. This is the reason that we're in the mess we're in now. If we had had enough troops and they had some idea of what was going to happen the minute Saddam's regime fell, maybe they would have had the numbers and preparation to prevent all the looting that went on. In those days of chaos, it wasn't only the museums that were being ransacked; it was the military bases that had all of Saddam’s bullets and bombs that are now being used against us. For that reason alone ---and his not providing the armor to protect the troops from those bullets and bombs ---he should be fired.

Hear a great interview with Bernard Trainer, MIchael Gordon and John crawford about Rummy's blunders at Radio Times.
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