Politics: October 2002 Archives

Here's a followup to my earlier post about Bush's uncomfortable relationship with the truth. Eleanor Clift, columnist and wife of James's old companion on the college newspaper, Tom Brazaitis, has a column on MSNBC: Not the Un-Clinton After All.

In an article on the fact that the wife of Arkansas's governor, Mike Huckabee, is running for Secretary of State at the same time he is running for re-election against my close friend Jimmie Lou Fisher, we have a number of nice quotes. She (the wife) is so embarassing.

Mr. Huckabee was already being accused of having pretensions to royalty. For example, he accepted $23,000 in clothing and gift certificates from Jennings Osborne, a wealthy supporter and appointee, in 2000 alone, then sued to block the state ethics commission from investigating such gifts.

But his wife's campaign difficulties have added to the governor's burden. Her insistence on her own 24-hour state police detail, her crisscrossing the state to campaign events in a giant trooper-driven Ford Excursion provided by the state and her travel in and out of Arkansas on the state airplane, both with and without her husband, for reasons the governor's office refuses to disclose all produced a month's worth of bad press for both Huckabees at the start of the fall campaign.


Mrs. Huckabee remains indignant, writing off her detractors as either mistaken about her or mean-spirited. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me," she said in an interview. "If it wasn't for the grace of God, I'd have shot a few people already."

"Jesus wasn't liked, either," she added. "And Jesus was mistreated, and called names."

Democrats say Mrs. Huckabee has shown a mean streak of her own, particularly in her only televised debate with Mr. Daniels, on Oct. 16. There, she raised the subject of Mr. Daniels's drunken-driving convictions in 1983 and 1990, the more recent offense in a state vehicle; attacked him for putting his wife and daughter on the state payroll; and said he had not come up with "an original idea the whole campaign."

Mr. Daniels's driving-while-intoxicated record was well known, and he apologized again for it. But Mrs. Huckabee maintains that he would be a bad role model for Arkansas youths. "He says his problem with alcohol was 12 years ago, and I know that's not true," she said this week. "I've had personal experience with it, but I haven't brought that out. He could hardly stand up at the governor's gala last Christmas."


She has a daredevil streak. As a youngster, she crossed the Arkansas River on a pipeline in the black of night. As first lady, she has gone bungee jumping, and even skydiving — albeit strapped to an Army paratrooper.

Well, maybe I miss it a little. You have to read her statements in the proper accent. Also, where do I sign up to get strapped to an Army paratrooper?

The NY Times has a followup article on the story I posted yesterday. The latest attack was 30 miles from the capital. Don't tell me we've "secured" the country.

I'm tired of listening to people talking about how we bombed Afghanistan because of our more enlightened view of women. Most of the government isn't in favor of women's rights -- being only slightly to the left of the Taliban on that issue.

We're not interested in putting enough resources into the country to stabilize it, only enough to get started working on an oil pipeline.

Vandals, With Fire and Rockets, Attack 4 Afghan Girls' Schools

... by Christopher Dazey on media coverage of anti-war rallies. Here is a sample, but you should read the whole thing, plus the rest of the letters. As a group, they are one of the best discussions of the art of protest -- including all of the fringe groups and seeming off-topic speakers that often drive us all crazy when we attend one.

Michelle Goldberg's disappointment with the protesters in Washington over their apparent lack of a coherent message is akin to a campaign manager saying that her candidate should "stay on message." However, the protesters were not running for office, and the language of corrupt, corporate politics should not be applied to grassroots movements.

Good for the Wellstone family! They have disinvited Dick Cheney from the memorial service, because they're unhappy at the vociferous Republican attacks on Mondale even before he is a candidate. [Link via TBOGG]

Newt Gingrich went on "Meet the Press' to say that Mondale supported privatization of Social Security. Isn't the GOP in favor of that? You would think he would be more careful about lying about something that could easily be investigated.

Since we live in a third-world country, unlike Brazil, we don't have electronic voting in our small towns. There is a good slashdot discussion on this here.

I see no reason to vote for Carl McCall in this election. Pataki, whom I despise as much as the next person, appears ready to win in a landslide. He has been endorsed by all of the major newspapers in the state, and the latest polls show that McCall might even get less votes than Golisano.

So my advice: McCall's going to lose big anyway, so vote for the Green candidate, Stanley Aronowitz. You'll help keep the Green Party on the state ballot without them having to go through and expensive petition process.

Aronowitz is a great candidate. He was a steelworker and union organizer, and he is currently Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Every endorsement of Pataki has talked about how dysfunctional Albany is, with most decisions made by just three people: Pataki, Sheldon Silver, and Joe Bruno. Why reward the two major parties by letting them continue to operate this way? 98% of state legislators are re-elected in each election.

I'm very, very serious about this. We have watched the Democrats collapse in front of the Republicans over civil rights, drug laws, health care, tax cuts for the wealthy, and war. When you have a chance to vote for a Green, particularly when doing so doesn't help a Republican, you must do it.

Good coverage of NY Politics, including the poll numbers, can be found on PoliticsNY.com.

I keep hearing stuff about how most people see those attending anti-war protests as out of touch liberals and wacky leftists. Here is the text of a flyer put out by the NYU College Republicans, according a story in the NY Daily News:

Save the Children ... Bomb Iraq

I suppose only good Christian American children count as children.

Arianna got a huge response to her anti-SUV advertising proposal. There is now a fund set up to pay for such ads on TV.

Salon has an interview with the author of the book "High and Mighty" about SUVs, in which he explains that they're not only bad for the environment, they're not even safer than other vehicles.

Even the Car Talk guys are starting to speak out against them.

The government is so concerned about our children's welfare. Apparently, the "No Child Left Behind Act", President Bush's education law passed earlier this year, contains a small provision regarding military recruiters in its 670 pages. Secondary schools must provide a list of addresses and telephone numbers (even if unlisted) of all students to military recruiters, or risk having federal education funds withheld. The same thing happens if they don't allow them access to the school for recruiting events. A number of cities have tried to bar military recruiters from public schools because of the military's anti-gay discrimination.

At least one school in Vermont is not happy.

This is HORRIBLE. One of the only liberal members of the U.S. Senate has died in a plane crash.

There's an article in Backstage (via Yahoo) on Penny Arcade's run for the state assembly. It starts out talking about antiwar sentiments among performers, but ends up as an article about her and politics.

I would vote for her if she were in my district!

From the Washington Post:

For Bush, Facts Are Malleable

Other times, the president's assertions simply outpace the facts. In New Hampshire earlier this month, he said his education legislation made "the biggest increase in education spending in a long, long time."

In fact, the 15.8 percent increase in Department of Education discretionary spending for fiscal year 2002 (the figures the White House supplied when asked about Bush's statement) was below the 18.5 percent increase under Clinton the previous year -- and Bush had wanted a much smaller increase than Congress approved. Earlier this month, Republican moderates complained to Bush's budget director, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., that the administration was not spending the full amount for education that Congress approved. Daniels said it was "nothing uncommon" and decried the "explosively larger education bill."

Why does the reporter use euphemisms like "the president's assertions simply outpace the facts" rather than say he chooses to lie to the American people?

Arianna says, if we're going to run those stupid "drug users fuel terrorism" ads, why not run ones that really say who pays for terrorism -- gas guzzling American cars. I would donate money to run these ads:

So how about using the same shock-value tactics the administration uses in the drug war to confront the public with the ultimate -- and much more linearly linked -- consequences of their energy wastefulness? Imagine a soccer mom in a Ford Excursion (11 mpg city, 15 mpg highway) saying, "I'm building a nuclear bomb for Saddam Hussein." Or a mob of solo drivers toodling down the freeway at 75 mph shouting in unison, "We're buying weapons that will kill American soldiers, marines, and sailors! Yahoo!"

It's not just a fantasy. Last week, talking to my friend Scott Burns, co-creator of the "Got Milk?" campaign, I was delighted to hear that he already had two ad scripts ready to go. The first one feels like an old Slim Fast commercial. Instead of "I lost 50 pounds in two weeks" the ad cuts to different people in their SUVs: "I gassed 40,000 Kurds," "I helped hijack an airplane," "I helped blow up a nightclub," and then in unison: "We did it all by driving to work in our SUVs."

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

Remember that the Bush administration found time in its busy schedule this month to weigh in on the side of Detroit in a lawsuit against California's stricter automobile mileage regulations.

I should get one.

... are going speak up as soon as it seems like the right time -- Tom Tomorrow.

James says I should take credit, but I doubt it's my doing. The NY Daily News has an article about the White House denying "it did anything wrong by sitting on the bombshell disclosure that North Korea had nuclear weapons until after securing the congressional okay to attack Iraq."

Another interesting thing, given the Daily News publisher's and editorial board's support for bombing Iraq, is that there are a number of anti-war letters in today's Voice of the People. I'll quote part of my favorite one:

You dilldocks! President Bush isn't FDR, he's Japanese Emperor Hirohito, attacking a country that hasn't attacked his just because he sees a threat.

I don't normally link to anything that has my real name from this site, but I couldn't help myself this time. I'm the top letter in the "Voice of the People" in today's NY Daily News!

The letter is about what I discussed earlier, that I find it outrageous that the Bush administration knew about North Korea's nuclear program before the vote on the Iraq resolution, but didn't tell Congress until afterward.

Paul Krugman has the cover article in this week's NY Times Magazine, on how America is becoming a plutocracy, and that the days of America as a middle-class society are ending. He also points out that all of our arguments about America being the richest country, and benefitting from it, don't really hold once you realize that we're now at that point because the rich have so much, not because the average American does.

One criticism: He barely mentions the role of organized labor in the creation of a middle-class America in the 1950s and 1960s.

Over the past 30 years most people have seen only modest salary increases: the average annual salary in America, expressed in 1998 dollars (that is, adjusted for inflation), rose from $32,522 in 1970 to $35,864 in 1999. That's about a 10 percent increase over 29 years -- progress, but not much. Over the same period, however, according to Fortune magazine, the average real annual compensation of the top 100 C.E.O.'s went from $1.3 million -- 39 times the pay of an average worker -- to $37.5 million, more than 1,000 times the pay of ordinary workers.


One ploy often used to play down growing inequality is to rely on rather coarse statistical breakdowns -- dividing the population into five ''quintiles,'' each containing 20 percent of families, or at most 10 ''deciles.'' Indeed, Greenspan's speech at Jackson Hole relied mainly on decile data. From there it's a short step to denying that we're really talking about the rich at all. For example, a conservative commentator might concede, grudgingly, that there has been some increase in the share of national income going to the top 10 percent of taxpayers, but then point out that anyone with an income over $81,000 is in that top 10 percent. So we're just talking about shifts within the middle class, right?

Wrong: the top 10 percent contains a lot of people whom we would still consider middle class, but they weren't the big winners. Most of the gains in the share of the top 10 percent of taxpayers over the past 30 years were actually gains to the top 1 percent, rather than the next 9 percent. In 1998 the top 1 percent started at $230,000. In turn, 60 percent of the gains of that top 1 percent went to the top 0.1 percent, those with incomes of more than $790,000. And almost half of those gains went to a mere 13,000 taxpayers, the top 0.01 percent, who had an income of at least $3.6 million and an average income of $17 million.


You might think that 1987, the year Tom Wolfe published his novel ''The Bonfire of the Vanities'' and Oliver Stone released his movie ''Wall Street,'' marked the high tide of America's new money culture. But in 1987 the top 0.01 percent earned only about 40 percent of what they do today, and top executives less than a fifth as much. The America of ''Wall Street'' and ''The Bonfire of the Vanities'' was positively egalitarian compared with the country we live in today.


Canadians can expect to live about two years longer than Americans. In fact, life expectancy in the U.S. is well below that in Canada, Japan and every major nation in Western Europe. On average, we can expect lives a bit shorter than those of Greeks, a bit longer than those of Portuguese. Male life expectancy is lower in the U.S. than it is in Costa Rica.


Although America has higher per capita income than other advanced countries, it turns out that that's mainly because our rich are much richer. And here's a radical thought: if the rich get more, that leaves less for everyone else.


Many Americans assume that because we are the richest country in the world, with real G.D.P. per capita higher than that of other major advanced countries, Americans must be better off across the board -- that it's not just our rich who are richer than their counterparts abroad, but that the typical American family is much better off than the typical family elsewhere, and that even our poor are well off by foreign standards.

But it's not true. Let me use the example of Sweden, that great conservative bete noire.


But life expectancy in Sweden is about three years higher than that of the U.S. Infant mortality is half the U.S. level, and less than a third the rate in Mississippi. Functional illiteracy is much less common than in the U.S.

How is this possible? One answer is that G.D.P. per capita is in some ways a misleading measure. Swedes take longer vacations than Americans, so they work fewer hours per year. That's a choice, not a failure of economic performance. Real G.D.P. per hour worked is 16 percent lower than in the United States, which makes Swedish productivity about the same as Canada's.

But the main point is that though Sweden may have lower average income than the United States, that's mainly because our rich are so much richer. The median Swedish family has a standard of living roughly comparable with that of the median U.S. family: wages are if anything higher in Sweden, and a higher tax burden is offset by public provision of health care and generally better public services. And as you move further down the income distribution, Swedish living standards are way ahead of those in the U.S. Swedish families with children that are at the 10th percentile -- poorer than 90 percent of the population -- have incomes 60 percent higher than their U.S. counterparts. And very few people in Sweden experience the deep poverty that is all too common in the United States. One measure: in 1994 only 6 percent of Swedes lived on less than $11 per day, compared with 14 percent in the U.S.

I ignored Dan as he kept screaming about Ralph Nader supposedly costing Al "can't wait to talk about God and morality again" Gore the election.

Now he's ranting about how liberals should be FOR the war in Iraq because it will liberate the Iraqi population from a terrible dictator. He thinks this administration is capable of pulling of a post-WWII Japan trick on Iraq!

Did aliens replace his brain? It's more fun to read David Ehrenstein's discussion of it than it is to read the actual column.

Oh, and he's tired of worrying about AIDS too:

"I used to think about AIDS all the time, read about AIDS constantly, and do a lot of writing about AIDS. But in the last few years, I've found it harder and harder to give a shit about AIDS. Instead, I want to write about the monorail or Iraq -- this despite the fact that two of my best friends in the whole world are infected with HIV."

Where are our priorities? I just read this letter in the NY Times.

Re "The Forgotten Domestic Crisis," by Marcia Angell (Op-Ed, Oct. 13): In addition to placing health care increasingly out of the economic reach of individuals and businesses, our commodity approach guarantees that the pool of insurable individuals will continue to shrink, thereby undermining the very essence of affordable insurance.

Insurance works because a lot of people pay premiums and not everyone uses services. The more healthy people insured, the stronger the system. A single-payer, broadly financed health insurance system is hardly socialism; it is the only way health care can become universally accessible and even remotely cost-effective.

San Francisco, Oct. 15, 2002

My first reaction was that we're going to have national terrorism insurance before we have national health insurance!

So, the Bush administration knew about North Korea's admission concerning its nuclear program one week before the vote on Iraq in Congress. Were they waiting because they were afraid that Congress would raise questions about the logic of bombing Iraq but negotiating with North Korea?

Good letter in the NY Times today:

In "North Korea Says It Has a Program on Nuclear Arms" (front page, Oct. 17), you say "the administration's decision to keep news of the North Korean admission secret for the past 12 days while it fashioned a response appears significant for several reasons."

One reason not directly addressed in the article is the timing of the admission in relation to the Iraq resolution that was debated in Congress.

The administration withheld its announcement about the North Korean nuclear program until the day President Bush signed the resolution.

If this announcement had been made just a few days earlier, it would have been yet another reason for members of Congress to question the wisdom of invading Iraq over its hypothetical nuclear program when a real one exists in a different hostile government.

The administration's decision to withhold this information was apparently another cynical ploy to force a vote in Congress about Iraq while withholding critical and relevant facts.

Haverford, Pa., Oct. 17, 2002

Interesting fact: When the Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly returned from his trip to North Korea on October 5, he canceled his planned press conference.

I can't believe anyone trusts this administration at all.

I just read a column in the NY Daily News by Juan Gonzalez about Silvestre Reyes, a conservative Democrat from El Paso (and former Marine captain in Viet Nam, 1968-1969).

"Thirty-five years ago, I found myself half a world away in a place called Vietnam," Reyes said during the Iraq debate. Now, he went on, "mothers and fathers and veterans come to me and tell me, 'Please, do not let us get back into a war without exhausting all other avenues.'"

"As a member of the Committee on Intelligence, I have asked consistently the question. ... What is the the connection between 9/11 and Iraq and Saddam Hussein? None.

"What is the connection between Iraq and Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda? Very little, if any. As to the weapons of mass destruction ... there is a lot of speculation."

Even a top general who testified before the committee expressed severe doubts about a U.S. invasion of Iraq, Reyes said.

Quite simply, the congressman concluded, "the case has not been made."

One of the other things that struck me, and should be bigger news, is this: 47 of the 52 members of the House that are either Hispanic or African-American voted against the Iraq war resolution. The news media should be asking why. Is it because they realize that their constituents will suffer so that more powerful people can get richer from the war?

One reason for war you won't hear from the White House is spelled O-I-L. Iraq has the world's second-largest proven oil reserves after Saudi Arabia, about 11% of the world's total.

Kenneth Derr, the former CEO and chairman of Chevron, said it best in a 1998 speech at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.

"Iraq possess huge reserves of oil and gas - reserves I'd love Chevron to have access to," said Derr.

Yes, sometimes their owner/publisher, and columnists like Zev Chafets (blaming Jerrold Nadler for not caring about the safety of American Jews) make me want th throw the paper across the room. But then they do something like this:

Gay rights overdue

State Republicans are signaling that a gay rights bill stalled in Albany for three decades may finally come to a vote. Why now? It's obvious. Election Day is a month away, and Gov. Pataki's efforts to get the legislation passed this year have come to naught. Gay and lesbian voters comprise a sizable, focused chunk of the voting public.

And so the GOP is scrambling: Pataki's angling for a preelection Senate vote on the bill. State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno hints that a vote could actually happen - after the November election. Mayor Bloomberg insists the measure will be passed before the end of the year, thanks (of course) to Pataki's support.

Pataki's name was booed by many when Bloomberg mentioned it recently at a major gay event, and the frustration is understandable. After 30 years, you'd think that adding two little words - sexual orientation - to the list of personal qualities protected from discrimination under state law would be a no-brainer. Twelve states and 20 New York localities, including the city, have managed to do it. The holdup in Albany? While Pataki has supported the bill for several years, though initially he opposed it, Bruno, who is allied with some of the state Senate's most conservative Republicans, hasn't yet struck a deal.

The bill, like so many pieces of legislation that languish in Albany limbo, should have been approved long ago. It should be passed as soon as a new session can be convened. But meanwhile, let's hear - pardon us - straight talk from state leaders, starting with Bruno: Will the gay rights bill, a matter of simple decency, be passed or won't it? If they can't deliver, surely they understand: Voters, gay or straight, can swing both ways.

Maybe they should spend some time reading about world history, other cultures, and an intelligence report or two.

White House staffers gather for Bible study

(via TBOGG)

Wow! Salon has the text of the speech he gave on the floor of the House yesterday opposing the Iraq war resolution.

"Let us not forget that our president -- our commander in chief -- has no experience with, or knowledge of, war. In fact, he admits that he was at best ambivalent about the Vietnam War. He skirted his own military service and then failed to serve out his time in the National Guard. And, he reported years later that at the height of that conflict in 1968 he didn't notice 'any heavy stuff going on.'"

"So we have a president who thinks foreign territory is the opponent's dugout and Kashmir is a sweater.

I've resisted the temptation to quote more, so go on over there and read it!

I worked on one of his campaigns when I lived in Texas.

Two stories:

1010 WINS

NYC Indymedia

Having relinquished the power to decide war and peace, the House moves on. They have passed a resolution saying the President can decide when, or if, to attack another country. I consider this abandonment of Congress's right to declare war illegal. Every person voting yes should be impeached.

As the Senate prepares to do the same, we have this ridiculous statement from Daschle:

Across the Capitol, where the Senate was moving toward passage of the same resolution, Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said Americans will return attention to the economy "once we get this question of Iraq behind us."

How is going to war putting it "behind us"?

Znet has a very informative interview with Noam Chomsky on Iraq. He sounds pretty reasonable for a man many paint as a lefty fanatic madman.

A few highlights:

Saddam's worst crimes, by far, have been domestic, including the use of chemical weapons against Kurds and a huge slaughter of Kurds in the late 80s, barbaric torture, and every other ugly crime you can imagine. These are at the top of the list of terrible crimes for which he is now condemned, rightly. It's useful to ask how frequently the impassioned denunciations and eloquent expressions of outrage are accompanied by three little words: "with our help."

The crimes were well known at once, but of no particular concern to the West. Saddam received some mild reprimands; harsh congressional condemnation was considered too extreme by prominent commentators. The Reaganites and Bush 1 continued to welcome the monster as an ally and valued trading partner right through his worst atrocities and well beyond. Bush authorized loan guarantees and sale of advanced technology with clear applications for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) right up to the day of the Kuwait invasion, sometimes overriding congressional efforts to prevent what he was doing. Britain was still authorizing export of military equipment and radioactive materials a few days after the invasion. When ABC correspondent and now ZNet Commentator Charles Glass discovered biological weapons facilities (using commercial satellites and defector testimony), his revelations were immediately denied by the Pentagon and the story disappeared. It was resurrected when Saddam committed his first real crime, disobeying US orders (or perhaps misinterpreting them) by invading Kuwait, and switched instantly from friend to reincarnation of Attila the Hun. The same facilities were then used to demonstrate his innately evil nature. When Bush 1 announced new gifts to his friend in December 1989 (also gifts to US agribusiness and industry), it was considered too insignificant even to report, though one could read about it in Z magazine at the time, maybe nowhere else. A few months later, shortly before he invaded Kuwait, a high-level Senate delegation, headed by (later) Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, visited Saddam, conveying the President's greetings and assuring the brutal mass murderer that he should disregard the criticism he hears from maverick reporters here. Saddam had even been able to get away with attacking a US naval vessel, the USS Stark, killing several dozen crewmen. That is a mark of real esteem. The only other country to have been granted that privilege was Israel, in 1967. In deference to Saddam, the State Department banned all contacts with the Iraqi democratic opposition, maintaining this policy even after the Gulf war, while Washington effectively authorized Saddam to crush a Shi'ite rebellion that might well have overthrown him -- in the interest of preserving "stability," the press explained, nodding sagely.

That he's a major criminal is not in doubt. That's not changed by the fact that the US and Britain regarded his major atrocities as insignificant in the light of higher "reasons of state," before the Gulf war and even after -- facts best forgotten.

I feel the need to quote TBOGG's title for this:

We'd love to look into this...but we've got a war to fight...

Harvard University's financial relationship with President Bush's former oil company was deeper than previously understood, with the university's management fund creating a separate ''off the books'' partnership with Harken Energy Corp. that helped keep afloat the financially troubled company, according to a report to be released today.

HarvardWatch, a student-alumni group that monitors the school's investments, plans to issue the report and say that it has analyzed documents showing that the Harvard fund, an independent entity that manages the university's endowment, formed a partnership in 1990 with Bush's oil firm called the Harken Anadarko Partnership. The partnership effectively removed $20 million of debt from Harken's books, relieving the Texas company's short-term financial problems.

About the same time, the Harvard fund invested about $30 million in Harken, which also helped keep the firm afloat. The partnership has not been mentioned in recent accounts of Bush's financial dealings in the oil business.

The Boston Globe article may be found here.

In These Times has an interview with Scott Ritter, who served as Chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq until 1998. In case you haven't heard, he is opposed to our attacking Iraq, warning "If the United States unilaterally invades Iraq, we will go to war as a rogue nation ourselves and join the short list that includes North Korea, which invaded South Korea, and Saddam Hussein, who invaded Kuwait."

I want to start screaming everytime I read or hear someone talk about the weapons inspectors being expelled. Here is Ritter's account:

Saddam Hussein didn’t kick out the U.N. inspectors. They were ordered out by the U.S. government, which then used information they provided to bomb 100 locations that had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. So the weapons inspectors were used by the United States. This is the reality: When Madeleine Albright called up Richard Butler and said, “Jump!” Richard Butler always said, “How high?” It was obvious from day one.

Apparently Bush and his masters think there's enough money to spend $9+ billion per month on Iraq, but there's not enough money to provide pension benefits for disabled veterans. Rumsfeld and Bush think it's "double dipping" for a veteran to get any extra money if they're retired AND disabled.

Bush Threatens Veto of Defense Bill - President Wants Costly New Disabled Military Pension Benefits Eliminated

The Republicans seem to feel the same way about soldiers that they do about babies. They're OK at the beginning, but we don't care what happens to them later.

Statistic: Nearly one quarter of all homeless people are veterans.

Walter LaFeber, distinguished historian, has a good column in the Washington Post on our country's Wilsonian split personality when it comes to engaging the outside world.

Wilsonianism, more than any other -ism, has shaped the foreign policy thinking of Americans in the early 21st century. Articulated in Wilson's 1917 speech asking Congress to declare war, it rejects neutrality in an age where the conduct of "civilized states" was at issue.

Wilsonianism has been glorified, especially since the American triumph in the Cold War. But it is less a policy than a disorder. That is because at its core, Wilsonianism has a split personality. One Wilson preached the ideal of worldwide democracy and free enterprise under the aegis of the League of Nations. The other Wilson was the greatest unilateral military interventionist in U.S. history.

He sent troops into Haiti, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere, and it took generations of diplomacy to clean up the results. This was the Wilson who pledged to teach Mexico "to elect good men," even if he ended up sending in U.S. troops to do rather intense, if irrelevant, teaching. This was also the Wilson who, when asked whether he was going into World War I in concert with "allies," replied that the United States would maintain its freedom of action and thus enter the conflict only as an "associated" power.

I just found this column, courtesy of TBOGG.

Some readers may have gotten the impression that I am unequivocally against a war with Iraq. As a matter of fact, that is not true. But one reason that I am against an attack upon Baghdad is because I do not think our military leaders are the best ones to lead it.

To the contrary, I think that our many superzealous civilian officials who are impassionedly leading the fight should be right up there in the front lines. Wars always need the most aggressive and "warlike" at the front. Instead, we find ourselves today in a virtually unheard-of situation where most of the men planning this abstruse war are hawkish and agenda-prone intellectuals who seem to think that war is the ultimate metaphysical experience -- for someone else, of course.


Richard Perle revealed his own deep concern for American soldiers when he was asked on a recent "Wide Angle" TV show about the threat of chemical and biological weapons to troops landing in Iraq. All he could do was announce, without any emotion, "These are not effective weapons in terms of the outcome of the engagement."

Protesters Jeer Gephardt

"Gephardt, Gephardt has no spine! He just follows Bush's line," the crowd loudly repeated, holding signs and banging drums, standing a few feet away from the high-ranking Democrat. The age of protesters ranged from college students to middle-aged parents to white-haired seniors.

The New York Times article is horrible. My feeble post was as journalistic as their report, which mostly quotes people with the most tangential messages to show that it was "just a bunch of kooks -- nothing to worry about". A lot of people at the rally itself spoke very well on the use of 9/11 as an excuse for the Bush administration to do what it likes anyway in terms of stifling dissent and shredding the Bill of Rights. They also talked about how talk of war is being used to distract the country from the problems of corporate crime, the bad economy, and people's worries about their retirement. Here'a a good Alternet column on this topic, whose thesis is that we may not even go to war. War talk is being used to win the election.

The Daily News's coverage is better. They and the other media outlets, such as the BBC, also use higher numbers than the Times.

I'm getting a cold, so this is going to be a stream-of-consciousness post about the rally. There are some photos here.

We got there a little after 1pm, and stayed until it ended around 5 or 5:30. As we walked from the subway station (the 6) to the park, a couple of people yelled at us that this was a "good war", or that we must be Saddam Hussein lovers. All of these people were driving SUVs. In the station itself, things got started early, even before we were out on the street, with a group of college students chanting.

One of the most moving people I saw was a rescue worked from Ground Zero -- I think his organization was Ground Zero for Peace, but I'm not sure. He said that rescue workers rescue anyone, regardless of their politics or race or religion, and they didn't want more casualties.

Signs and t-shirts spotted that I liked:

* Fighting for Peace is like Fucking for Virginity
* All Bully No Pulpit
* Silence = Consent
* Madness of King George
* The Emperor has no Brain
* Regime change starts at home
* Bombing Iraq is so 10 years ago
* Autogeddon

One interesting tidbit -- out of the 20,000 or so people there, I only saw a single smoker.

The main announcer sounded a lot like a South Asian Eleanor Roosevelt.

There were a number of celebrities. Susan Sarandon was very good, telling Bush and those that saw questioning the government as treasonous, "This is what democracy looks like. This is what an intelligent citizenry does." She also said that a pre-emptive strike "as defense" was what Pearl Harbor was. She mentioned that Robert Byrd is talking about doing a filibuster to prevent a vote on war with Iraq. It was probably the first time a crowd like that ever cheered Byrd. Go read James's account of Byrd's speech last week.

Susan's significant other, Tim Robbins, was great. He talked about how this is all basically a ruse to distract us from the scandals of Halliburton and Enron, and the bad economy. He said that fundamentalism of any kind was abhorrent to him, because it was opposed to the things that mattered to him: art, music, film, books, and independent women.

Tom Duane was the only currently-elected official I saw there. He said he wished he had more politicians to stand with him at the rally.

A young woman from Stuyvesant H.S. said that it was the duty of youth to dissent, since they would have to live with the world that is being created now, and much longer than Bush will.

Martin Sheen reminded us that 40 years ago next week, the Cuban Missile Crisis was worked out without going to war. He also read part of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech.

A woman from Global Exchange, the group that interrupted Rumsfeld at his Armed Services Committee appearance a few weeks ago, said they were called "rude and unreasonable women". She also used the great phrase "Weapons of Mass Distraction".

Two young girls -- nine and ten -- read a great statement they had written. My favorite part: "We have more than enough money to buy the oil we need, so why do we need to steal it?"

Cynthia McKinney spoke, and I can see why the Republicans hate her so much. She said that Bush, et al, are so gung ho for war, but none of them had actually fought in any wars.

There was a lot more, including appearances by Reno and David Byrne, but I think you get the picture.


* Common Cause
* Not In Our Name

Final note: I can't find coverage of today's event in any U.S. media right now, but there's an article on the BBC web site. They estimate the crowd at 20,000.

I'll post more in a little while -- just got home. We were there until it ended. I would estimate there were at least 10,000 there, it might have been closer to 15-20,000. I just went to look at the NY1 and 1010 WINS web sites. The former's top story is about a fake ticker-tape parade and other fake "Olympic" activities to promote NYC's attempts to bring the games here. 1010 WINS's web site has these as the top stories:

* Cop Shot in Brooklyn
* Survey: NY Congressman Support War
* Report: Mentally Ill Locked Down in Nursing Homes
* Firetrucks and Car Collide in Bronx - 12 Hurt
* Claims Adjuster Found Guilty of Damaging Home
* Campbells Recalls Mislabeled Soup
* Police in CT Arrest 3 'Jackass' Wannabes
* Supreme Court Considers Taking NJ Senate Case
* Report: Derailed Air Train was Near Top Speed
* Bloomberg to Crack Down on Sidewalk Cafes
* Jogger Rape Suspect Says He Raped Another
* Mayor Heads to Colorado to Push Olympic Bid
* Record Spending in NY Governor's Race
* Brooklyn Brothers Plead Guilty to $50M Fraud
* U.N. Shooter Denied Bail Over Flight Risk
* Parents Plead Innocent in Son's Heroin Death
* Families Want Steel Cross to Stay at Ground Zero
* NYC, Nurses Union, Reach Deal
* Parties Lobby Supreme Court on NJ Ballot Issue

If 10,000+ people oppose a war, it's not news. Of course, London had at least 150,000 for theirs.

I'm about to head up to Central Park for this. I hope to see some of you there. Actually, maybe I hope it's so big that it's hard to find anyone I know.

Read James's account of our encounter with the "Jews hate Bush" lady.

Choire says it better than my still jet-lagged brain can. Go sign Michael Moore's petition, and send some letters.

Jay Bookman, one of the editors of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a very good column from a couple of days ago about the real goal of war on Iraq. It's to further the goal of people like Cheney and Rumsfeld to finally assemble a global American empire.

The official story on Iraq has never made sense. The connection that the Bush administration has tried to draw between Iraq and al-Qaida has always seemed contrived and artificial. In fact, it was hard to believe that smart people in the Bush administration would start a major war based on such flimsy evidence.


This war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the "American imperialists" that our enemies always claimed we were.


Once that is understood, other mysteries solve themselves. For example, why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled?

Because we won't be leaving. Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighboring Iran.

Bookman refers in the column to a report issued in 2000 called "Rebuilding America's Defenses", available for download from New American Century, which is a conservative think tank. Its authors include quite a few people now in charge in the Bush administration:

Paul Wolfowitz is now deputy defense secretary. John Bolton is undersecretary of state. Stephen Cambone is head of the Pentagon's Office of Program, Analysis and Evaluation. Eliot Cohen and Devon Cross are members of the Defense Policy Board, which advises Rumsfeld. I. Lewis Libby is chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Dov Zakheim is comptroller for the Defense Department.

I would think Israel would be rather concerned about this if they suspect it's what we're planning. If Iraq becomes our "aircraft carrier" in the Middle East, Israel's strategic importance for us will drop sharply.

I just saw this story, as I was looking through news upon my return.

Director Abbas Kiarostami, one of international cinema's biggest names, is blocked from attending the New York Film Festival and speaking at Harvard.

This is terrible. We're sending the message that the only way for countries to communicate with each other is through war. He had visited the U.S. seven times in the last ten years.

New York Film Festival spokeswoman Ines Aslan said that festival organizers, along with the two universities involved, tried "very, very hard" to convince officials at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where Kiarostami had applied for a visa, to make an exception for the filmmaker. "It wasn't that they could not make an exception," Aslan said. "It was that they did not choose to. It is very sad." Officials at the embassy told the festival that they would require at least 90 days to investigate Kiarostami's background -- which is well known to film scholars and fans, and contains little in the way of political activity -- and process the visa paperwork.

This page is an archive of entries in the Politics category from October 2002.

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