a left leaning political blog -- it's not really about pie
a political blog, mostly, with a few cat pictures

Saturday, May 31, 2003

artist's rendering

Coalition forces having a little good-natured fun with an Iraqi POW.

Yes, we know that this actually happened, because there are pictures. And they did worse things than this, too.

Also, if you haven't been reading xymphora, you probably are not fully aware of how dire the situation in Iraq is. (Keep scrolling down for many similar posts.)

This part made me especially proud to be an American:

"In a ruined apartment building the sheik shows me an unexploded bomb. Someone asked the Americans to remove it because it is hard to keep the children away from it. The response was that clearance work was not their responsibility."

What is wrong with our military, and what, exactly are they trying to accomplish over there?

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

I realize of course that everyone is waiting anxiously for the all-important free pie presidential primary endorsement. I'll tell you one thing right now: it's not going to be Joe Lieberman. I am, however, fully prepared to vote for him if he wins the primary -- after all, he's not Bush.*

Here's an interview with Joe that I heard on NPR last night.

Sure, he supported the war, but he had in mind a much different war than the one that came to be.

John McCain, Bob Kerry and I concluded in 1998 that Saddam had to go. We couldn't work with him anymore. We passed legislation that actually set that as America's policy. It was signed into law by President Clinton. But our preferred path to do that was to support the Iraqi opposition. Somewhat along the style that we supported opposition to the communists in the Soviet Union.

He's critical of the Bush administration's handling of post-war Iraq:

They seem remarkably unprepared, so today in Iraq there's been chaos, there's no law, there's no order. There's the appearance of America as an occupying power, not as a liberating power. It's really surprising and very disappointing to me how unready the Bush administration appears to have been to secure the victory our military won in Iraq. It's not as if it was a surprise. I mean, the folks in the administration thought it might be even quicker than it was.


I recommended before the war that after a victory we find not an American but an ally from the Arab world, an experienced, trusted governmental administrator who could be the civilian administrator of Iraq before the Iraqis themselves were able to take over. And I also said we ought to let the Iraqis, who have a good reputation at managing their own oil industry, to continue to do that. And have some kind of international board to oversee it to make sure the proceeds, the profits were going to benefit the Iraqis. Instead, we've diminished the Iraqi role.

With the exception of the Iraq invasion, I can't find much here that I disagree with. Ok, the whole "taking on Hollywood" thing makes me very uncomfortable. Grown ups should be able to play "Vice City"** or see movies with people having sex or doing bad things. The whole world can't be made child proof. He should shut up about that.

But on the whole, I like what I'm hearing from him, and if he wins the primary, it wouldn't be too painful for me to give him my vote when the time comes.

See also: Democrats should unite behind a Dean/Edwards ticket.

Let's forget the current polls that only reflect misconceptions of an uninformed public and concentrate on what would constitute the strongest Democratic ticket. Gephardt, Lieberman, and Kerry have too much association with the current Washington political scene to gain the proper respect and attention of the voters. They are considered by most voters to be too much a part of the problem. Braun, Graham, Sharpton and Kucinich are not really serious contenders, and although each of them contributes important ideas to the discussion, they are mostly a distraction to average voters. It is my opinion that Lieberman, Graham, Gephardt, Sharpton, Kucinich, Braun, and Kerry should gracefully bow out of the race and all get strongly behind a Dean/Edwards ticket. The focus needs to be on everything that is wrong with what George Junior and his friends have been doing. The longer that there is competition and fighting between Democrats, the longer Rove and the spin-masters will continue to keep the truth about what they are doing from the public. The longer the Democrats remain divided, the better the chances that friends of George Junior will gain absolute control of the United States.

I might be able to go along with that idea.

*If people start up with the whole "democrats, republicans, they're all the same, I'll be voting green" thing, I will just start screaming and never stop. Chimpie is evil and has got to go, at all costs. It's a two party system, for now, and the real danger is that it becomes a one-party system. So stop whinning and get with the program.

**He's right about one thing: if you let a minor child play the game Vice City, you are a bad person, and a failure as a parent.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

This is freaking me out.

Democrats who are holed up in the Holiday Inn SHOULD have been arrested. Why? Because they were in clear violation of the relevant statutes of the sedition act as now revised and expanded, thanks to the USA Patriot Act.

To put this in some context, the president now has the absolute authority, under the expansion of the War Powers Act of 1947 therein contained in the USA Patriot Act. This expansion of these powers means, in this case, that once the president declares a State of National Emergency, which he did on September 14, 2001, three days after the 9-11 incident, that effectively authorizes the president to do a variety of things—postpone elections, cancel elections, impose a state of martial law, order the arrest of any legislative or judicial members of government, etc. Those powers had always existed. However the president couldn’t act without the consent of Congress. He couldn’t assume these imperial powers without a super-majority vote in Congress and without a majority opinion from the Supreme Court.

The USA Patriot Act, however, sidelines the legislative and judicial branches from their oversight role – legislative oversight or judicial review after the President declared a state of National Emergency. It gives the president the power to act by edict.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

A reader of Daily Kos sent him a list of recent terrorist attacks. I hadn't realized that every single one since the establishment of the color code system happened when the threat level was yellow, not orange.

Terrorists can strike when we're least prepared, that much is clear. So scrap this stupid "scare the people" gimmick once and for all. It's not doing anyone any good.


Tuesday, May 20, 2003

The "Healthy Forests" Initiative passed in the house today, time to contact your reps in the Senate.

Soapbox Alert

The Sierra Club OPPOSES the Healthy Forest Act - for good reason
This bill is a scheme to increase commercial logging

Subject: Oppose the McInnis/Walden Forest Act

Don't open 20 million acres of National Forests to logging, when there's a better way to help communities reduce their risk of fire. Oppose the McInnis/Walden Forest Health Restoration Act, which would erode forest protection, cut out citizen participation, divert resources to commercial logging far from communities, and provide virtually no funding where it would do the most good to reduce fire risk. This bill does nothing to honestly protect lives and communities from forest fires and is more of a vehicle to increase commercial logging. The bill seeks to cut out the public from public forest management and would give unprecedented latitude to agency managers to promote harmful logging projects across the federal public forests. This bill also promotes new subsidies for "biomass" logging, federal assistance for private forest owners and the ability of Forest Service managers to plan 1000 acre logging projects with the sparsest of environmental impact analysis.

The McInnis/Walden bill misses on all of the major components that a responsible, science-based, community protection plan should have. The US Forest Service Fire Research lab has found that the best method to protect homes from a forest fire is by creating defensible space 100 feet around a home and 500 meters around communities. For information on real home safety and responsible fire management see www.sierraclub.org/logging and www.firewise.org

Here are the major points where the McInnis/Walden bill fails:

-- FAILS to prioritize fuel reduction treatment within Community Protection Zones, 500 meters around communities
-- FAILS to require federal agency managers to fully study the impact of proposed logging projects
-- FAILS to provide adequate protection for wild forests, sensitive fish and wildlife habitat and clean water
-- FAILS to responsibly direct taxpayer dollars and federal resources to assist homeowners and community leaders
-- FAILS to allow citizens to retain their rights to be involved in federal land management

Please urge your Representative to OPPOSE the McInnis/Walden anti-community, pro-logging bill. Representative George Miller (D-CA) will be offering a substitute amendment providing an alternative to the McInnis bill, which you should urge your Representative to support. The Miller substitute would require agencies to spend money to protect homes and community first, where the work will do the most good.

Monday, May 19, 2003

What unbelievable assholes.

"We are the sole super power, we're therefore the exceptional country, we're outside of international law. Others have to obey the law and obey the rules, but we don't." I mean, I'm not making that up. If they were sitting here tonight, Mark, the people I've talked with would readily agree. They'd say "Yeah, that's right, that's who we are. We are the exceptional country and we don't have to obey the law because we're different."

Thanks, xymphora.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Action Alert -- Stop the New PATRIOT ACT
Just when you thought that it couldn't get any worse!

Just when it seemed that the Bush Administration's assault on our constitutional protections had begun to subside, Attorney General John Ashcroft has drafted new legislation that further threatens our core civil liberties and rights.

The draft "Domestic Security Enhancement Act" contains a multitude of new and sweeping law enforcement and intelligence gathering powers -- many of which are not related to terrorism -- that would severely undermine basic constitutional rights and checks and balances. If adopted, the bill would diminish personal privacy by removing important checks on government surveillance authority, reduce the accountability of government to the public by increasing official secrecy and expand on the definition of "terrorism" in a manner that threatens the constitutionally protected rights of Americans.

These far reaching powers could apparently be sought even though the first USA Patriot Act already gave the government unprecedented powers to violate our civil liberties and tap deep into the private lives of innocent Americans.

Take Action! Congress must not accept new legislation that threatens our constitutional rights in the name of security against terrorism. In fact, Congress should not only reject any new legislation, but it should instead insist that the Bush Administration stop stonewalling and outline how the new powers already given under the first USA PATRIOT Act have been used.

The new legislation would allow government to spy on First Amendment-protected activities. By applying an overly broad definition of terrorism, organizations using protest tactics such as those used by Operation Rescue or protesters at Vieques Island, Puerto Rico would become victims of criminal wiretapping and other electronic surveillance. In addition, the act would terminate court-approved limits on police spying, which were initially put in place to prevent McCarthy-style law enforcement persecution based on political or religious affiliation.

The new act would radically diminish personal privacy by removing checks on government power. It would permit, without any connection to anti-terrorism efforts, sensitive personal information about U.S. citizens to be shared with local and state law enforcement. In addition, the government could gain secret access to credit reports without consent and without judicial process.

The new bill would increase government secrecy while diminishing public accountability. It would authorize secret arrests in immigration and other cases, such as those involving material witness warrants, where the detained person is not criminally charged. The act would allow for the sampling and cataloguing of innocent Americans' genetic information without court order and without consent. And, incredibly, the act would shelter federal agents engaged in illegal surveillance without a court order from criminal prosecution if they are following orders of high Executive Branch officials.

Enter your zip code here and take action today! Choose "Stop The New Patriot Act."

Monday, May 12, 2003

IT'S THE FEROCITY, STUPID -- How Democrats Can Beat Bush in 2004 by Ted Rall

Go after Bush's ultimate Achilles' heel: run countless loops of the inarticulate Resident's clashes with the English language. "Too dumb to talk," a sinister voiceover reads. "Too stupid to trust." Use time-proven Republican methods, like name-calling: Extremist. Out of touch. Tax and spender. Hates workers. Racist. Homophobe. Corrupt CEO coddler. Idiot. Drunk. Cut to the post-pretzel-incident photo: "America needs a sober president."

Forget ideas--voters respond to the personal stuff. Dwell on the two years Bush went AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard. "Brave Americans gave their lives in Vietnam," a 30-second spot should intone as the camera pans over names of the fallen on the black wall in Washington. "Rich kid George W. Bush deserted. This coward snorted coke and drove drunk while other kids died." Who doubts that if Gore had played up Bush's DUI arrest, he would have picked up an extra 500 votes in Florida?

The stolen 2000 election shouldn't become a clarion call for pity votes--Americans hate sore losers--but presented as straightforward evidence of Bush's poor character. Contrast images of Gore's graceful concession speech with shots of the screaming young hoodlums dispatched by Karl Rove to intimidate Florida election officials. Remind, remind, remind: "I know I can beat George Bush," Lieberman said on May 4th. "Why? Because Al Gore and I already did it." That's the snotty attitude Democrats need in order to prevail in 2004.

Monday, May 05, 2003

The Palestinification of Iraq

The Bush administration has a secret. We are not leaving Iraq. Not for a very, very long time. We were never planning to.

Jay Garner is living in a palace, and has the title of viceroy ("king.") Our troops are breaking international law by taking over schools, and leaving walls scrawled with "I love pork," "eat shit Iraq," or pictures of "sexual organs." (Apparently some of our men are 12 years old.) Our soldiers are returning gunfire (or rocks thrown, or celebratory gunshots into the air, or a sandal thrown, or nothing at all but a gathering in protest) with machine gun fire. They are permitted to "fire at will," at anyone, or even execute prisoners, without sanctions.

In the mean time we are hampering humanitarian efforts.

In time resentment towards us will increase, and along with that, the violence against our military by the Iraqis. And that's exactly what was planned.

We say that we want a democratic form of government in Iraq, but that is code for what we really want. They do not mean a government that is chosen by the majority of Iraqis. What we mean when we say democratic is "pro US and secular" -- the antithesis of what they would have if an election was held today. One of the countries oldest and most respected political parties was not invited to a "meeting involving U.S. administrators and Iraqi political, religious and ethnic leaders." A leading member of the party says that we have ignored them and instead "brought in their own group of political imports."

It's a matter of time before there is an organized resistance among Iraqis. There will be regular suicide bombings. We will announce that we can't possibly negotiate a withdrawal as long as the violence continues, and as long as the Iraqis don't imprison their "terrorists." And so on and so on and so on.

So we will be forced to keep troops there. We will need to have bases built. (No problem, we can use the oil money.) We also will be needing to stay in preparation for 2005, when we have plans to invade Syria or Iran, and possibly other countries, as needed. At some point we will withdraw our troops from Saudi Arabia, (because they want us to, and they are our "friends,") which will also necessitate keeping bases in Iraq. By the time Bush leaves office, we will have a boiling cauldron of hatred and resentment in the ME, which will preclude any future US president from withdrawing our troops. Iraq is ours, now and forever -- just as was planned from the beginning.

Thursday, May 01, 2003


IT started when a young boy hurled a sandal at a US jeep - it ended with two Iraqis dead and 16 seriously injured.

I watched in horror as American troops opened fire on a crowd of 1,000 unarmed people here yesterday.