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Saturday, January 31, 2004


David Kay

New blogger American Leftist (links don't work, scroll to Jan. 29) has a good post up about David Kay, which references this interesting exchange in Sept., 2002 between Kay and CNN anchor Miles O'Brien:
"O'BRIEN: All right. Meanwhile, in Iraq, you have people like Scott Ritter coming forward and saying, There's nothing really to worry about with Saddam Hussein, there's no proof of any of the allegations that the administration has brought forward. How much credence should we give the likes of Scott Ritter?

"KAY: Well, I -- dealing not with Scott as an individual but with anyone who would take that position, there are, I think, two answers. There's a lot of proof, that is, the proof of failure to allow inspectors in, and failure to allow inspectors, once in, to conduct inspections in an unfettered manner.

"Of the second issue that is there is, look, the lack of hard evidence, particularly over the last four years, is because inspectors haven't been in and Saddam has engaged in deception and concealment efforts of an unparalleled status."
So here we had Kay, before the invasion, admitting that there was a "lack of hard evidence," yet he knew that administration officials were drawing conclusions expressing certainty ("no doubt") based on that "lack of hard evidence." Of course, he himself was one of those people, even in this very same quote, where he asserts categorically that Iraq (known by its first name, "Saddam") was engaged in "unparalleled" "concealment efforts," which we now know is certainly untrue since there was nothing to conceal.

What I want to know is this - why is David Kay now someone who has become a reliable source? This is a man who admits that "we [he and his colleagues] were all wrong," yet all sorts of people now want to quote him. For example, from the most recent Democratic debate, this is Tom Brokaw questioning Howard Dean:

"You said that the books were cooked. Cooking the books means that there was a fraud of some kind, in an attempt to achieve something that wasn't in fact true. David Kay has said that that wasn't the case. He thinks the president was just simply abused by the intelligence agencies."
But why should we care what David Kay thinks? Why don't the media and other experts start quoting Scott Ritter, who was right before the invasion and was made into a pariah by the media as a result? Go to CNN.com, or the New York Times online, and type "Ritter" into the search engine and find the last time his name was even mentioned [if you go to the Washington Post, you will find Ritter's name mentioned recently - in a live online chat, by one of the readers. But not by the Post itself.]

The last thing the media, who were a willing participant in the fraud which drove the U.S. to war, want to admit is that there were people like Scott Ritter, and many more (although few on their "approved" list of "mainstream" guests that are heralded as "experts" on their talk shows), who were telling the truth before the invasion.

Friday, January 30, 2004


The "honest broker"

From the Voice of America:
"The United States has filed a formal brief with the International Court of Justice in The Hague, urging the court to refuse a U.N. General Assembly request for a ruling on barrier in the West Bank. The U.N. body voted overwhelmingly last month to ask the court for an opinion on the legality of the Israeli project."


Andrew Gilligan turns tail for truth-telling

Andrew Gilligan has resigned from the BBC, a mistake in my view. Here's some of what he had to say:
"I am today resigning from the BBC. I and everyone else involved here have for five months admitted the mistakes we made. We deserved criticism. Some of my story was wrong, as I admitted at the inquiry, and I again apologise for it. My departure is at my own initiative. But the BBC collectively has been the victim of a grave injustice.

"If Lord Hutton had fairly considered the evidence he heard, he would have concluded that most of my story was right. The Government did sex up the dossier, transforming possibilities and probabilities into certainties, removing vital caveats; the 45-minute claim was the 'classic example' of this; and many in the intelligence services, including the leading expert in WMD, were unhappy about it.

"This report casts a chill over all journalism, not just the BBC's. It seeks to hold reporters, with all the difficulties they face, to a standard that it does not appear to demand of, for instance, Government dossiers. I am comforted by the fact that public opinion appears to disagree with Lord Hutton and I hope this will strengthen the resolve of the BBC.

"The report has imposed on the BBC a punishment far out of proportion to its or my mistakes, which were honest ones. It is hard to believe now that this all stems from two flawed sentences in one unscripted early-morning interview, never repeated, when I said that the Government "probably knew" that the 45-minute figure was wrong.

"I attributed this to David Kelly; it was in fact an inference of mine. It has been claimed that this was the charge which went round the world, but a cuttings check shows that it did not even get as far as a single Fleet Street newspaper. Nor did the Government mention it in its first three letters of complaint.

"In my view, this helps explain why neither I nor the BBC focused on this phrase as we should have. I explicitly made clear, in my broadcasts, that the 45-minute point was based on real intelligence. I repeatedly said also that I did not accuse the Government of fabrication, but of exaggeration. I stand by that charge, and it will not go away.

"I love the BBC and I am resigning because I want to protect it. I accept my part in the crisis which has befallen the organisation. But a greater part has been played by the unbalanced judgments of Lord Hutton."
Gilligan might have added that his "error" had the consequence of getting Tony Blair's dander up. The British Government's errors, which were deliberate, had the result of killing thousands of people. It simply can't be said enough times.

A review of the executive summary of the "dodgy dossier" is helpful to remind us of the claims of the British government:

"As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has:"
  • continued to produce chemical and biological agents
  • military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, including against its own Shia population. Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them.
  • developed mobile laboratories for military use, corroborating earlier reports about the mobile production of biological warfare agents
  • sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, despite having no active civil nuclear power programme that could require it
Unlike many statements by the Bush administration, the British government does preface their claims with "we judge that," which is at least some kind of qualifier. Of the claims that I've listed, though (there are others), these are demonstrably false. And it's the people who made these claim who are up on their high horse, crying "foul." It's really too much.


Outrageous statement of the day

Tom Brokaw, moderating the Democratic Presidential debate:
"Reverend Sharpton, there is a great war going on in the world between the West and the Nation of Islam."


Don't read this while eating or drinking...

...you might gag or spit out your coffee. Yes, the U.S. government wants to "brand" the "transition" in Iraq (and will, of course, be using our money to do so):
"The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad wants to hire an advertising agency to sell the Iraqi public on its plans for a new democratic government, even as U.S. officials and Iraqi leaders struggle to decide whether that government should be formed through elections, caucuses or some combination.

"The occupation authority invited advertising agencies with Middle East experience to 'prepare a proposal for planning, developing and executing a full communications plan in support of the Iraq electoral process.' Bidders were given six days to formulate their programs, and their proposals were due today.

"The bid solicitation said the winning agency should be prepared to educate the Iraqi people on the 'caucus/electoral process leading to a democratically elected government in Iraq' and should devise a campaign to 'inform and educate the Iraqi people about the transition to sovereignty.'

"The request for proposals said the winning agency is to develop a 'branding' symbol and slogan for the transition along with 'informational campaign products,' including tapes for use in radio and television advertisements.

The plan is to 'educate the Iraqi population in a non-propaganda style about the electoral process,' said the occupation authority's request. Once the transition takes place, the campaign 'is to quickly motivate the Iraqi people to express a positive attitude and participate in the process in order to make it a successful initiative.'
Few things leave me speechless, but this is certainly one of them. OK, not really. :-)

I don't know who's getting this contract, but it's pretty clear the fix was in. Six days to respond to the proposal? Educating people about the "electoral process" (in a "non-propaganda style," mind you!) is, of course, pretty funny when the U.S. wants to talk about an appointed government, or at best an election where the voters were all selected by a foreign power. But my favorite part is "motivating the Iraqi people to express a positive attitude." Do you suppose that will include training in the proper pronunciation of "Yes, massah"?


Save Kevin Cooper

California Governor (can it really be true?) Arnold Schwarzenegger is being asked to grant clemency to Kevin Cooper. Cooper is soon to be put to death, based on a conviction which, if it doesn't shake your faith in the "justice" system, nothing will. Read more about the case here (in particular click on "Unanswered questions, untested evidence, unaccounted actions").

And while you're at it, listen or re-listen to Bob Dylan's powerful song "Hurricane" (Lyrics and downloadable music here), a song written while Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was himself still awaiting the death sentence, and which was a small part of the effort which saved Carter's life. Or go rent or re-rent the great movie Hurricane featuring Denzel Washington as Carter. No songs or movies (yet) about Kevin Cooper, but the travesty of justice would appear to be as great or greater than occured to Carter.

Followup: Schwarzenegger denies clemency, saying that he saw no reason to overturn state and federal courts, and that "evidence establishing his guilt is overwhelming." It's hard to believe he read the material referenced above, which would cause any honest person to have serious doubts, not just about Cooper's guilt, but about the fairness of the police and prosecution which put him where he is.


Fun from Tom Tomorrow, today

Click here.

Unfortunately, to use another phrase well known to an earlier generation, T'aint funny, McGee. Bush lied, people died (and continue to die).


Colin Powell, now and then

"Powell acknowledged that the United States thought deposed leader Saddam Hussein had banned weapons, but added, 'We had questions that needed to be answered.'"
Powell at the U.N., Feb. 5, 2003:
"While we were here in this Council chamber debating Resolution 1441 last fall, we know, we know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was dispersing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agent to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq.

"Most of the launchers and warheads had been hidden in large groves of palm trees and were to be moved every one to four weeks to escape detection.

"We know that Iraq has at least seven of these mobile, biological agent factories.

"There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction.

"Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons." [Emphasis added]
When Powell talks about the controversial "aluminum tubes," he says this:
"Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium." [Emphasis added]
Other than this one instance, the word "think" does not appear (in any relevant context) in Powell's talk to the U.N. Now he says he (and the U.S. government) "thought" Iraq had WMD. But that wasn't what he said back in February. Back then, they "knew." Well, as George Bush would say - "Think? Know? What's the difference?" Oh, just a few hundred billion dollars spent and tens of thousands of people dead and wounded, that's all.


More phantom weapons of mass destructon

Tom Brokaw and Joe Lieberman in last night's Democratic debate:
BROKAW: Senator Lieberman, do you think that Libya would have given up its weapons of mass destruction if the United States had not invaded Iraq?

LIEBERMAN: It's a very important question. I seriously doubt whether Libya would have given up its weapons of mass destruction if we had not overthrown Saddam Hussein.

I seriously doubt if the Iranians would have allowed international inspectors come in and looked at their nuclear weapons sites if we had not done that.
Just one (or two) little problem(s). Libya did not have any weapons of mass destruction to "give up" (they did renounce their intention to have any in the future). And Iran did not have any "nuclear weapons sites," they have nuclear power plants (under construction, not yet functioning). Rather a different thing, to put it mildly.

Followup: USA Today, in an editorial today, makes the same erroneous claim that Libya had weapons of mass destruction.

Thursday, January 29, 2004


More from Condo-lie-zza

From the BBC, trusted by three times as many Britons as trust the British government:
"I think that what we have is evidence that there are differences between what we knew going in and what we found on the ground."
Even after the fact, she still insists that they "knew" there were weapons of mass destruction, rather than admitting that they just "thought" that there were.


Real humanitarians

BBC reports that "the United States has released three teenage boys who have been held in custody at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba for more than a year [without trial]." I love the phrase "in custody." Yes, we were just taking care of them, you know. They weren't "imprisoned" or "held without rights," they were "in custody." How nice for them.

We are told that "the US Defence Department said the boys no longer posed a threat to the United States, and they had no further value as suspects for interrogation." Right. So they posed a threat a year ago? Or they actually ever had "value as suspects"? Not bloody likely, as someone from Britain would say. Of course, an admission from the U.S. government that they made a mistake, or did something outrageous, or violated international law, would be way too much to expect.


Kevin Moore looks at the primaries

Copyright 2004 Kevin Moore


Spinning the economic news

Reuters tells us today that the "Job Market Sends Mixed Signals." OK, what are those "mixed" signals? Positive: "claims for unemployment benefits edging downward." Negative: "businesses remained nervous about hiring." OK, fair enough, mixed signals. But wait. After four paragraphs in which we are told in various ways about the "good" news - "jobless benefits fell 1,000 to 342,000 in the week ended Jan. 24" (wow! a whole 0.3% drop!) - we finally get to the sixth paragraph of the story:
"The department said its closely watched four-week moving average, considered a more reliable gauge of labor market health because it smooths out volatility, rose 750 to 346,000."
So if we use a "more reliable gauge," it turns out that the news is not "mixed," but entirely negative. For some strange reason, Reuters fails to point out that conclusion.



From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"Georgia students could graduate from high school without learning much about evolution, and may never even hear the word uttered in class.

"New middle and high school science standards proposed by state Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox strike references to 'evolution' and replace them with the term 'biological changes over time,' a revision critics say will further weaken learning in a critical subject.
I don't think Ms. Cox has thought this through sufficiently. Wouldn't "biological change related program activities" be even better?


Just say no to Nader?

In this morning's San Jose Mercury News, John Pearce, the creator of "RalphDontRun.net," becomes the latest in a long line of people demanding that Ralph Nader and/or the Green Party don't run a Presidential campaign this year. I would be more impressed by the sincerity of any of these people if just one of them would proclaim support for Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) or Proportional Representation. There is actually one Democrat, Dennis Kucinich, who supports IRV; interestingly, he's also one who has not, as far as I know, been presumptuous enough to demand that Nader and/or the Greens not run a campaign, even though he makes it clear that he is a Democrat through and through, will not run an independent campaign, and will support the Democratic candidate no matter who it is. As far as the rest, their claims of Nader and the Greens being "spoilers" might have more credence if they were to support IRV which would totally eliminate the "spoiler" argument. Unfortunately (from their point of view), it would actually encourage the growth of one or more third parties in the U.S., and that's something they are deathly afraid of.


Condo-lie-zza speaks

From the New York Times:
"She [Rice] put the blame for any [intelligence] gaps on looters and former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, whom she said was so secretive that 'he allowed the world to continue to wonder' what weapons he still had."
Gee, that's funny. I don't recall Condi or George telling us they "wondered" what weapons Iraq had before the invasion. I recall more statements like the one from Bush I've now quoted several times:
"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
Condo-lie-zza wouldn't know the truth if it hit her on the head, but the press continues to give her a pass. Interestingly enough, the Times (actually Reuters, whose story it is) has this to say in the same article:
"Critics say the administration did little to secure sensitive sites immediately after the invasion, undercutting efforts to find the alleged weapons at the center of Bush's case for going to war."
But they fail to note that some critics (including Left I on the News) have also pointed out that the fact the administration "did little to secure sensitive sites" strongly suggests that they didn't even believe their own public claims of Iraqi WMD. Nor does Reuters note that just a few days ago, new chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer said (echoing what Left I had written months ago) that inspectors had been "talking to a lot of Iraqi scientists, anyone who has known where they are, they've spoken to. They've had every incentive to show them where they are, and they have come up with nothing."

Looters may have destroyed records, but they neither took nor destroyed any WMD, because there were no WMD. None.

Followup: NY Times vs. NY Times. The Reuters story above, published in the Times, is headlined "Bush Aide Acknowledges Some Flaws in Iraq Intelligence." The Times own story, now out, has quite a different headline: "Bush Aide Leads White House Offensive on Iraqi Weapons." Different headline, but the same old lies. Among the lies in this one:

"The president's judgment to go to war was based on the fact that Saddam Hussein had for 12 years defied the international community, refused to account for large stockpiles of weapons."
No, the President claimed to be going to war because Iraq had large stockpiles of weapons which were a threat (imminent or otherwise) the United States.
"Nobody could count on the good will of Saddam Hussein to tell us that he did not have anthrax or botulinum toxin. He didn't even try."
"Didn't even try"? What was that 12,000-page report Iraq filed with the U.N. all about?

Not only doesn't the Times attempt to set the record straight, but they compound the problem by making this into a political question:

"Some Democrats [say] that Mr. Bush took the United States to war based on intelligence that was inadequate. Some Democrats have gone further, accusing the White House of manipulating intelligence."
Guess what, NY Times? There are actually non-politicians, even (gasp!) Republicans like Scott Ritter, who have made such claims. Why, there are even some newspapers which have made such claims. Not the esteemed NY Times, though. They want us to believe this is all just "partisan sniping."



Daniel Sneider, in today's San Jose Mercury News, says "I disagree with those who believe the Bush administration deliberately misled the country on this issue." Well, I've written recently about Bush's "no doubt" claim which is an obvious lie proving Sneider wrong. But I'm reminded this morning of another gem, this one from Donald Rumsfeld - "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." In other words, before the war, Rumsfeld admitted that they didn't have any conclusive evidence (or any signficiant evidence at all, for that matter) about Iraqi WMD, but that they were taking a "guilty until proven innocent" stance towards Iraq (and, of course, Iraq could never "prove" themselves "innocent," because even if they had perfect records of the destruction of any previous stocks of chemical or biological weapons, that still wouldn't "prove" that they hadn't made more weapons since that time).

The Bush (and Blair) administrations didn't deliberately mislead the world? Please. Don't insult our intelligence.

The only thing more offensive than Sneider's claim is the headline under which it appears: "Whatever the WMD oops factor, Bush rushed into war with Iraq." How clever. How about "Whatever the lies about WMD, tens of thousands are dead and wounded as a result"?


A funny evening

Well I decided last night to watch the new Dennis Miller show. It was pretty funny. Funny to laugh at that is, not with. Miller presumably thinks he's going to give Jon Stewart a run for his money but it just wasn't working, not last night anyway. His opening monologue was like the oral version of the comic strip Mallard Fillmore - simply unfunny, right-wing rants. Like muttering "loooser" when talking about Dennis Kucinich. The funniest thing was that on about every third "joke" or so, you could hear one or at most two people chuckling. It was pretty obvious his audience, whether it was an actual audience or just stagehands, didn't really find most of his material funny either. Then he moved on to an interview with Rudy Giuliani, who wouldn't take the bait and join Miller in insulting Democrats. I moved on.

Flipping channels, I discovered Bill Maher guesting on Larry King. Maher definitely can be funny, at least some of the time, and also isn't afraid to express controversial opinions (e.g., "Religion is the worst thing that's ever happened to mankind" - paraphrasing). Discussing Iraqi WMD, Maher talked about how it was completely obvious that Bush had lied, but "we should move on." After all, he said, no one remembers how you got into a war, it's only the results that are important, and if years from now Iraq is a democracy and democracy is spreading throughout the Middle East, Bush will be remembered as having done a great thing. Well, that's an opinion I couldn't disagree with more completely, but he has a right to his opinion. What he doesn't have a right to is to spread lies in support of it. Talking about the Democrats vs. Bush, he said "Well, lefty Kucinich wants to get the U.S. out of Iraq immediately. Bush wants to get us out in four months. So that's the difference between the Democrats and Bush - just four months." Surely an intelligent guy like Maher should know that's nonsense, even if it hadn't just appeared in the press that the U.S. military is planning for troops in Iraq until at least 2006. Anyone expecting U.S. troops to be out of Iraq in four months is naive at best, and just plain stupid at worst. I don't think Maher is either.

I closed out the evening with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Stewart really is funny, and his show is funny, but for the second straight evening I had to watch a mostly fawning interview with some right-winger. Two nights ago it was the despicable Richard Perle, calmly talking about the need to invade more countries, last night it was Christie Whitman, calmly talking about how Bush really has the best interests of the environment at heart. Yes, Stewart will occasionally ask the most mildly challenging question to such a person, but they're always tossed up as softballs, easily batted back. I haven't kept track, but I definitely think that over the course of time he has had far more right-wing figures on his show (Kissinger, Albright, etc.) than progressive ones. But at least he's funny!

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Giving new meaning to the word "irony"

The Hutton report savages the BBC for airing a report, based on a single unverified source, that claimed the British government lied about a claim that Iraq could launch biological or chemical weapons in 45 minutes. The Hutton report does not criticize the British government for making that claim, which was based on a single unverified source.

We don't really know if the BBC report was true or false (that is to say, regardless of what Lord Hutton thinks, we don't really know if Tony Blair knew the dossier was false), although to me, unlike Lord Hutton, it seems almost certain it was true (because, like claims by George Bush, the British government claims were presented as absolute certainties, rather than estimates or "considered opinions" or "likely possibilities," and it is virtually certain that they knew that they did not really know this information with such certainty). We do know for sure that the British government report was false, that is, we know for certain that Iraq did not have any such weapons ready to launch at 45-minutes notice (or any notice, for that matter). These obvious facts don't seem to have perturbed Lord Hutton.

Official reports are great for producing testimony which can be examined by independent people for the truth. But expecting official commissions to actually produce anti-establishment results, like concluding that a right-wing conspiracy including CIA agents killed John F. Kennedy, is too much to expect. The ruling class has far too much experience in circling the wagons.


The 23-minute mystery

I'm no conspiracy theorist; I have plenty to write about on this blog discussing things that are quite out in the open. But a report from the 9/11 commission is just too bizarre to overlook. A flight attendent aboard one of the planes which crashed into the World Trade Center was on the phone with American Airlines headquarters for 23 minutes before the crash, describing passengers being stabbed, etc., and nothing was done about it! No warnings, no scrambled fighter jets, nothing. As I said, this is just way too bizarre to overlook, but the Washington Post article which describes this situation, and some TV news spots I saw on the same item, didn't raise a single question suggesting that there might be something strange about this.

For those who are conspiracy theorists, or just appreciate good music, Left I on the News recommends a visit to David Rovics' website; scroll down and read the lyrics and/or listen to the song "Reichstag Fire" (listening is better, it's a great song!).

Here's the chorus:

I am left to wonder
As the flames are reaching higher
Was this our latest Lusitania
Or another Reichstag Fire?
While you're there, listen to some of Rovics' other wonderful songs; so many of them ("After the Revolution," "Palestine," "The Death of Rachel Corrie," "Resistance," "Strike a Blow Against the Empire," and many more) are real winners. And, for another song on the subject of 9/11, which will undoubtedly shock many people, listen to "Promised Land." I won't ruin the surprise ending; listen to it before reading the lyrics for best effect.


Bush lies, people die

The big push is on to shift the blame for the invasion of Iraq from Bush & Co. to "mistaken intelligence." This is a complete crock. As noted just below, on the eve of the invasion Bush made this claim:
"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." [Emphasis added]"
And this claim is, without any question, a complete and utter lie. Because even if some secret cache of weapons is still discovered in Iraq (which is, as I have written many times before, highly doubtful), the fact will still remain that anyone with two brain cells to rub together at the time, which may even include George Bush, knew very well that there was "doubt" about the claim that Iraq possessed WMD [if there was really "no doubt," would Colin Powell really have gone to the U.N. with such an amazingly thin plate of "evidence"?]. So whether the intelligence agencies fooled themselves, or lied, or were pressured to lie, or whatever the truth is there, the truth about George Bush (and, I should note parenthetically, Tony Blair as well) is still inescapable - he lied to the world in order to take his country to war. No amount of blame elsewhere, whether justified or not, can change that.


Open season on Palestinians

In today's news:
"Israeli soldiers shot dead at least nine Palestinians, five of them Islamic Jihad gunmen, during fierce gunbattles that erupted when tanks raided the edge of Gaza City early on Wednesday, a Palestinian hospital official said.

"The Islamic Jihad militant group said at least five of its fighters were killed in the deadliest Israeli raid in Gaza for at least one month. The others killed in the incident were an 11-year-old boy and three workers at the scene."
(Incidentally the AP article on the event, which is the one that appears in most U.S. newspapers, talks only about "four bystanders," without noting that one of them was an 11-year old boy).

There's nothing in the article about "searching for tunnels" or anything like that, because this invasion occured in the middle of Gaza, not at the southern end. It was simply "an operation," also known as an invasion - Gaza is not part of Israel. These "militants," these "fighters," were simply defending their homeland against a foreign invasion. Will we hear a single U.S. politician speak out against this massacre? Will a single U.S. newspaper editorialize against it, and against the U.S. financial support which makes it all possible? I'll make this quiz simple - the answer is "no."


George Bush, WMD, and the obsequious press

Last night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart showed a clip of Bush dodging a question about WMD:
Q: "Mr. President, a year ago you said the dictator of Iraq has got weapons of mass destruction. Are you still confident that weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq, given what Dr. Kay has said?"

PRESIDENT BUSH: "Let me first compliment Dr. Kay for his work. I appreciate his willingness to go to Iraq and I appreciate his willingness to gather facts. And the Iraq Survey Group will continue to gather facts.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a gathering threat to America and others. That's what we know. We know from years of intelligence -- not only our own intelligence services, but other intelligence gathering organizations -- that he had weapons -- after all, he used them. He had deep hatred in his heart for people who love freedom. We know he was a dangerous man in a dangerous part of the world. We know that he defied the United Nations year after year after year. And given the events of September the 11th, we know we could not trust the good intentions of Saddam Hussein, because he didn't have any.

"There is no doubt in my mind the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. America is more secure, the world is safer, and the people of Iraq are free.
While Bush is talking, CNN has a caption under the picture, in the "modern style." The caption read: "Bush comments on WMD at press conference." A journalistically accurate caption might have read: "Bush does not comment on WMD..." or perhaps "Bush dodges question about WMD..." Don't look to CNN or any other U.S. media source for journalistic accuracy when obsequiousness is the order of the day.

Note also, by the way, the obsequious way in which the question itself was phrased by the (unknown) reporter, who could have easily asked Bush to comment on a statement he made on the eve of the invasion on March 17, 2003, the statement which the Daily Show showed its viewers in its "Moment of Zen":

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." [Emphasis added]
As yet another note on the press being deferential to Bush, note that in his impromptu press conference yestereday, Bush repeated for the second time this whopper:
"And then we went to the United Nations, of course, and got an overwhelming resolution -- 1441 -- unanimous resolution, that said to Saddam, you must disclose and destroy your weapons programs, which obviously meant the world felt he had such programs. He chose defiance. It was his choice to make, and he did not let us in." [Emphasis added]
Will we see any U.S. media reminding Mr. Bush of the existence of Hans Blix and Mohammed El-Baradei? Well, we didn't last time; here's your chance for redemption, U.S. press. But so far this absurd statement, which could easily be headline news, has yet to appear any place I've looked.

Followup: As an example of the way the issue is treated in the press, the New York Times has a long article covering the news conference. Their language about Bush's response to the WMD question? "Mr. Bush did not answer directly." How quaint of them. The fact is that he did not answer at all. And, as mentioned above, they didn't even take note of the absurd "he did not let [the inspectors] in" remark. Evidently that was too much even to cover up with a fawning statement, so they took the alternative route and simply ignored it.

Knight-Ridder uses a different, but still inaccurate, formulation - "Bush declined to answer directly." He did decline to answer, but the suggestion that he somehow did answer, just "indirectly," is simply false, compounded by the totally unjustified headline over the story - "Bush backs down on weapons." He did no such thing. And again, no mention of the "did not let us in" remark.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


MyDoom Virus

I've received over 400 virus (worm) emails today. It has wasted my time deleting them (and then creating a filter to do that automatically). Am I worried about anything else? No, I use a Mac! When are businesses and other organizations (and individuals) who lose time and money recovering from these attacks going to learn? Bill Gates is the devil, and Windows is his contract on your soul!

Continuing to use Windows after it screws you, time and time again, year after year, is like continuing to vote for Democrats and Republicans. Every year they tell you - "listen, we know the last version sucked, but the next version will be better!" And year after year, people continue to hope it will be, because they refuse to consider the alternatives.


Jewish Nazis

Lawrence of Cyberia has a very important post, much of it taken from the Israeli press, about the day-to-day treatment of Palestinians by the Israelis. Here in the U.S., we frequently read (usually in a small article on the inside pages of the press) about Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers. But how often do we read about, or see pictures of, the "Arabs to the Gas Chambers" graffiti that the Palestinians have to see every day? Never is the answer; it might upset Americans' ideas about who the "good guys" are.

And to add to the picture of "things that you don't see in the paper," another reminder from Left I on the News that back on December 29 Israel announced they were going to remove four "unauthorized" outposts from the West Bank. As far as I can tell, that story, like so many others, has vanished into thin air, with no actual actions having resulted. Of course, since it hasn't happened, it hasn't been in the press, so we're left with the impression formed by the last time it was in the press, which is the impression that it was going to happen. Again, as far as I can tell, it didn't.


Et tu, Cheney?

The shocking news just keeps coming:
"Dick Cheney, US vice-president, on Tuesday defended the US decision to invade Iraq but, in a notable shift of emphasis, he left open the question of whether Saddam Hussein had possessed weapons of mass destruction - a claim he made repeatedly before the war.

"In his first public response to David Kay, who resigned last Friday as the chief US arms inspector saying pre-war intelligence was wrong, Mr Cheney said: 'There's still work to be done to ascertain exactly what's there, and I am not prepared to make a final judgment until they have completed their work.'"
Typically, the Financial Times does its best to cover for Cheney by telling us that Cheney made these claims "before the war." How about five days ago?!


Was self-flagellation required?

From the U.S. Dept. of Defense via the Angry Arab:
"More than 2,000 former members of the Baath Party turned out at the Mosul Public Safety Academy to renounce their membership in the party, to denounce violence and to pledge support to a new, free and democratic Iraq."
Which "free and democratic Iraq" were they referring to, exactly? The one where a foreign power gets to make the laws and appoint the government?



On Inside Politics today, Bill Schneider reported on exit polls in New Hampshire showing that 20% of the voters thought the economy was in "good" condition, and 72% thought it was "poor." This shocked Schneider because "the economy in New Hampshire is doing so well." Not "economists think," or "most people say," simply that it is, as pronounced by Bill Schneider. Unfortunately, Bill, the people who actually live there apparently see it differently. Schneider explained this by informing us that this meant it was the "disgruntled" (or some similar word) people who were showing up at the polls.

Later on the same show, we were treated to a graphic showing where "the Democratic candidates" were headed after New Hampshire. Five faces lined up on the screen, three on the left, two on the right - Dean, Kerry, Edwards, Clark, and Lieberman. Even though there was plenty of space left in the graphic, not a word of where candidates Kucinich and Sharpton were headed. Sorry, boys, CNN has not only decided not to have a reporter "in bed" with you, they've decided you simply don't exist. And by the way, I don't know about Sharpton, but I happen to be on the Kucinich mailing list, and I know for a fact that they issue press releases with great regularity, and I can pretty much guarantee that CNN knows exactly where he's going tomorrow.

And the "fair and balanced" coverage marches on...


Coming soon to a theater near you (?)

A new movie titled "The Corporation" was shown at Sundance:
"Using a mixture of humour, hard-hitting interviews and reportage, Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott...dissect with laser beam precision the basis for corporate power.

"The documentary aims not at a single company... Noting that corporations are defined by law as legal persons, it shows how this person perfectly matches the criteria of a pyschopath. Ruthless self-interest: tick. Indifference to harm caused to people, animals or biosphere: tick again.

"Leftist commentators like Michael Moore, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky are interwoven with candid interviews with CEOs and corporate insiders. A marketing executive explains the importance of getting children to nag their parents until they are "guilted" into buying a product. Two investigative journalists recount how Fox News pressured them into killing a cancer story about BST, a Monsanto drug which increases cows' milk production."
Sounds like a winner, and a private correspondence from someone who has seen it suggests it is, despite its running time of 2 hours 45 minutes (yikes!). Here's a second review of the movie.

By the way, I'm no legal expert, but the fact that "corporations are defined by law as legal persons" certainly is not true everywhere in the world, and for all I know only in the U.S. Even in the U.S., the legal basis on which that rests is actually quite shaky, based on a "preamble" to a court ruling, not an actual court ruling (can't find a reference for this at the moment). But by now, unfortunately, this is the way it is.


American soldiers in the dock

The news is well and truly buried (deep in the inside of the print media, and not on the broadcast media at all), but three Marines are now being charged with murder (well, technically, "negligent homicide") committed in Iraq:
"Three Marine reservists appeared in military court Monday to face charges stemming from the death of an Iraqi prisoner who prosecutors said was punched, karate-kicked and dragged by the throat while in their custody.

"The military prosecutor, Capt. Leon Francis, said Nagen Sadoon Hatab, a high-ranking member of the Baath Party, was among three prisoners 'of notoriety' brought to a detention facility in southern Iraq last June. Hatab, 52, had been left lying naked, covered in his own feces, for hours when he was found dead.

"Francis said Hatab was singled out for punishment because he was captured with an M16 rifle belonging to the 507th Maintenance Company of Fort Bliss, Texas, which had been ambushed in Nasiriyah in March.

"Eleven soldiers were killed in the ambush, with nine wounded and six captured, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch."
The article fails to remind its readers that this "ambush," the supposed trigger for the mistreatment, occured before the fall of Baghdad during the "active phase" of the invasion of Iraq; readers who aren't alert could easily assume that the 507th was attacked by "terrorists" rather than by soldiers fighting a war.

Left I on the News remembers the voluminous crocodile tears shed by the U.S. government and the U.S. media when captured members of the 507th were shown on Iraqi television and the outrage at this horrible "war crime." Now we'll see how much attention is paid to this very real war crime, the murder of a soldier in captivity. We've already seen how much attention has been paid to followup of another Iraqi murdered in captivity, Nazem Baji. Precisely none. Other than in Left I on the News, you won't find his name mentioned anywhere, certainly not in any mainstream source, since the day he was murdered.


The "liberal" media

I didn't watch the Diane Sawyer interview of Howard Dean and his wife (what is her name anyway? The media can't seem to agree whether it's Judy Dean, Judy Steinberg, or Judy Steinberg Dean), but it was evidently a classic of its kind:
"Out of the 96 questions that Sawyer asked, 90 were about personality and temperament and only six were even vaguely about issues; virtually all 96 were hostile and negative. Thirty-six were about Dean's supposedly out-of-control Iowa concession speech, his alleged bad temper and the loss of momentum of his campaign. ('So did you lose your temper at [your son's] hockey game?') The 10-second yell in his Iowa concession speech was replayed three times during the interview, along with riffs by David Letterman and Jay Leno. ('How does it feel, to be the object of all these jokes?')

"Twenty questions were about Judy Dean's absence from the campaign, which appeared to fault her for failing to stand by her man while at the same time criticizing the couple's decision to be interviewed together. ('Is it because it's a troubled time and — and the juggernaut has hit some pothole?') Twenty-one questions were about their family life, which all had a decidedly negative cast. ('Religion, first of all, ever a problem? Jewish? Christian?') All the questions to Judy Dean had a shockingly sexist subtext, about her clothes and hair and whether or not she was ready for the prime-time spotlight. She was made to seem like an un-American weirdo for failing to watch her husband on TV, for failing to have cable and for receiving rhododendron plants for her birthday. ('Not exactly romantic … ')

"Throughout, the questions assumed that negative stereotypes about Dean were simple truths rather than debatable opinions. 'How often does he lose his temper around you?' Sawyer asked Judy Dean at one point."

Monday, January 26, 2004


Truly unbelievable news

The latest from the Mars Spirit rover:
"NASA scientists say hundreds of computer files that have accumulated on the Mars rover Spirit may be the cause of problems that have crippled it.

"The space required in the rover's RAM memory to manage the data files stored in its flash memory was more than anticipated due to the build-up of files, [the surface development manager] told a news conference."
This is about as elementary a software problem as I can imagine; it is simply unbelievable that they are spending billions of dollars sending spacecraft to Mars with such inexcusable software bugs.


Wesley Clark - war criminal, spammer

I won't dwell on the first, but today I received my first spam from "Wes Clark" from the email address: "THree@emsemail1.com". Based on its serious content, and its valid links to the Clark website, this was not some kind of dirty trick, but actual spam. I am not amused.


Quote of the Day

"Weapons of mass destruction including evil chemistry and evil biology are all matters of great concern." - John Ashcroft, speaking today
Would that be Dr. Evil?

John Ashcroft's intelligence is a matter of great concern to me. What a frickin' idiot.


Letter to Dr. Laura

Since gay marriage is now an important enough issue, like steroids in professional sports, to make it to the State of the Union address, the following "letter to Dr. Laura" someone just forwarded me seems quite appropriate. Needless to say, it could just as well be addressed to George Bush or any number of other people.
Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them.
  1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing smell for the Lord - Leviticus 1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

  2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

  3. I know that I am not allowed to have contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual cleanliness - Leviticus 15:19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

  4. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

  5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states she should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill her myself?

  6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Leviticus 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

  7. Leviticus 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

  8. Most of my male friends get their hair cut, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by the bible, in Leviticus 19:27. How should they die?

  9. I know from Leviticus 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

  10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Leviticus 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton and polyester blend). He also tends to curse a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Leviticus 24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? Leviticus 20:14

  11. I have a rebellious son who is a glutton and a drunkard. Is it legal in Tennessee for "all the men" in my town to "stone him with stones, that he die"? Deuteronomy 21:21
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
And no, I haven't checked out the Biblical references; I leave that as an exercise for the reader.


Another gem from Wiley Miller

Interestingly enough, the brief "good news from Iraq" fetish has pretty much disappeared from the media. Evidently there wasn't very much to go around. As opposed to the bad news, of which there's pretty much a steady diet.


Credit where credit is due

Left I is one who believes that Wesley Clark is, as so many "leaders" of the United States, a war criminal, based on his actions in the bombing of Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, I give credit to Clark for giving a long interview to Democracy Now! reporter Jeremy Scahill (under circumstances in which he could easily have dodged the questions) and patiently giving his point of view on the events in question.

Clark is, in my view, a good example of how "the system" is stronger than any individual. Like bosses who are forced to fire workers because "the market demands it," having a "decent person" as a General in charge of war simply isn't enough to make a difference. It's "the system" that needs to be changed, not any particular individual.



Left I frequently fulminates (some will no doubt say "pontificates") on polls, focussing primarily on the over-interpretation of imprecise data, but also taking note of the inherent inaccuracy of the data. What better proof of this than today, when on the same day Zogby reports Kerry leading Dean 31 to 28 in New Hampshire (with, we note, a +/-4% error in precision), while the Boston Globe reports Kerry leading Dean 37-17 (+/- 5% error)! In other words one poll, as TV news reporters have described it, has Kerry leading Dean by more than 2-1, while a second poll taken on the same day shows Kerry barely ahead (and within the margin of error).


The real "defense of marriage"

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (Marin/Sonoma counties) has a good article in today's San Jose Mercury News on George Bush's State of the Union call to "defend the sanctity of marriage" (I hear the threat is "imminent"). Here's some of what Woolsey has to say:
"We don't need government marriage counseling; we need good jobs with good benefits. We need flexible workplaces, universal health insurance, affordable child care, safe after-school programs and much more. We need a government that helps ease the pressures on hard-working parents who never seem to have enough time or money to meet their obligations to their families without compromising their jobs.

"But instead of help with the Balancing Act, what American families get from this administration is an assault on overtime pay, a tax policy that stiffs the middle-class, a crippling deficit, fewer jobs and lower wages, dwindling 401(k)s, a health care crisis, cuts in education, and higher college tuition costs. Initiatives like this marriage proposal are nothing more than an attempt to layer a transparent veneer of compassion on a truly destructive domestic agenda.

"Finally, we have to ask: Wouldn't the institution of marriage be strongest if it embraced all committed relationships? Apparently not, according to President Bush. For heterosexuals, he believes marriage is so indispensable that we must spend $1.5 billion to promote it. But for gays and lesbians, he finds marriage so abhorrent that we ought to consider writing discrimination into our Constitution to prevent it."
To which Left I will add one wise-ass comment: If George Bush wants to "defend the sanctity of marriage," why is he worrying about the small numbers of gays and lesbians who want to marry? Why isn't he proposing to make cohabitation, an "assault on marriage" practiced by millions of Americans, a federal crime? Isn't it time for a "war on cohabitation"? This "war on terrorism" is so yesterday.


People like this were part of why the U.S. invaded Iraq

From the Los Angeles Times:
"The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday that his panel is investigating the prewar data. But Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas told CNN's 'Late Edition' that if Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction, 'why on Earth didn't he let the U.N. inspectors in and avoid the war?'"
This is not just any Senator, but the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Which evidently is an oxymoron. Of course, George Bush (an actual moron) said exactly the same thing a while back. Fortunately, for once, the reporter writing the article provided the reader with the actual facts:
"Hussein did allow U.N. inspectors into Iraq in November 2002 as momentum for war built, and they conducted nearly 600 inspections of about 350 sites. The inspectors made no significant discoveries of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programs, although there were unresolved questions."
Then we have this, from ex-arms hunter (and one-time vocal proponent of the "fact" that Iraq had massive amounts of WMD) David Kay:
"Although there were no large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction available for 'imminent action,' Kay said, 'that's not the same thing as saying it was not a serious, imminent threat…. That is a political judgment, not a technical judgment.'"
I'll wait for the explanation of how someone without weapons can be an "imminent" threat (were they going to "think us to death"?); the LA Times either didn't ask for or didn't receive an elaboration of this preposterous assertion. Again, note how Kay is still attempting to mislead the public by claiming that there were no "large" stockpiles, as if there were "small" stockpiles of weapons. In fact the only "pile" discovered in Iraq is the large pile, the veritable mountain, of lies that have been spewing forth from the Administration, including David Kay.

Sunday, January 25, 2004


Truly shocking news

From the New York Times:
"A 19-year-old high school student who intended to take a rooftop shortcut to a birthday party was shot and killed by a police officer early yesterday at the top of a dark stairwell leading to the roof of a Brooklyn housing project. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the shooting appeared to be unjustified."
Of course the shock isn't that yet another black person has been murdered in cold blood by police, but that the Police Commissioner is actually saying, the next day, that the shooting appears to be unjustified.

Thanks to Politics in the Zeros for spotting this one.


Bush's Shift to the Center?

Believe it or not, that (without the question mark at the end!) is the headline over a nearly full front-page article in the "Perspective" section of today's San Jose Mercury News (article not online). The article is a classic case of having a thesis (Bush doesn't have to worry about challengers, so he can "shift to the center" while Democrats are still fighting in the primaries to win over the "liberal" base) and then selectively citing evidence to prove it.

Just one problem - the evidence is pretty thin gruel indeed. As astute political commentator Dave Barry says, I am not making this up. Here's what author Jim Puzzanghera (Washington bureau chief) has to say to back up his thesis: Bush proposed a new temporary-worker program for illegal immigrants. He called for sending astronauts to the moon and Mars. And - wait for this - he actually laid a wreath at the grave of Martin Luther King. But my favorite piece of evidence that Bush is "moving to the center" - when he made a recess appointment of reactionary judge Charles Pickering to the federal appeals court, he did so only with a written announcement on a slow news day, and avoided having a photo op. Wow! I'm convinced!

Saturday, January 24, 2004


Left I's pet peeve - innumeracy

Newsweek reports the following headline: "Kerry surges to the head of the pack, beating even Bush in a hypothetical election." But the actual data, even if there were reasons to believe its accuracy (more about that in a minute), shows 49% for Kerry and 46% for Bush, with a precision of +/- 3%. This means that while the "real" results could be 52-43 Kerry over Bush, it could also be 49-46 Bush over Kerry. Statistically, Kerry is not "beating" Bush, he is in a dead heat with him.

If this isn't clear, imagine a jar filled with an equal number of white and red balls. Now imagine pulling out 53 white and 47 red balls in a "poll," and concluding that "white is beating red," i.e., that there are more white balls than red balls in the jar. This conclusion is simply unsupported by the data, and is, in fact, false in this particular case (although it could be true as well; we just don't have enough information to say).

All of this, of course, assumes that the only question in the poll is precision, not accuracy. But political polling is not a question of pulling white or red balls from a large jar. If you make all your calls between 9 and 5, for example, your poll will reflect the elderly, the retired, and the unemployed (or non-employed), and will underrepresent people who work 9-5 jobs. For sure it will underrepresent people who don't have phones, not to mention people with an aversion to talking to pollsters! And even of the people who are polled, these polls typically apply some sort of historical, but definitely imprecise formula to select "likely voters" out of all the respondents. Given all these factors, the +/- 3% figure given is, to use a precise scientific term, a joke. But that doesn't prevent the media from reporting that "Kerry is beating Bush" or "Bush is beating Dean" or whatever. And it certainly doesn't prevent them from devoting precious time and their readers' or viewers' attention to this nonsense, rather than to the very serious issues confronting the country.


Quote of the Day

"There comes a time when deceit and defiance must be seen for what they are. At that point, a gathering danger must be directly confronted." - U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
My sentiments exactly. And I think we all know what the prime source of "deceipt and defiance" is in the world today.


The real threat to Americans from real weapons of mass destruction

All the attention paid to chemical and biological weapons, which have killed far fewer people than weapons as simple as incendiary bombs (see article below on the fire-bombing of Tokyo), has distracted attention from the only real weapon of mass destruction, the nuclear bomb. And it turns out the threat to Americans isn't from nuclear bombs in North Korea, or Iraq, or Iran, but from nuclear bombs right here in the United States:
"Amarillo, Texas, area workers dismantling an aging nuclear weapon improperly secured broken pieces of a highly explosive component by taping them together, federal investigators found. An explosion could have occurred, they said.

"Such [an event] could have 'potentially unacceptable consequences,' board chairman John T. Conway said in the letter, which raised disquieting questions about safety at the Pantex plant.

"About 250,000 people live within 50 miles of the Pantex plant, where the motto on its Web site is 'Maintaining the safety, security and reliability of America's nuclear weapons stockpile.'"


Thousands of people are dead, wounded, homeless, jobless...

...and here's why Colin Powell says that happened:
"Powell acknowledged that the United States thought deposed leader Saddam Hussein had banned weapons, but added, 'We had questions that needed to be answered.'

"'What was it?' he asked. 'One hundred tons, 500 tons or zero tons? Was it so many liters of anthrax, 10 times that amount or nothing?'"
Yes, so let's kill and maim thousands of people (including our own), and destroy a country, in order to get the answer to that question.

As with the rest of the Bush and Blair administrations, Powell of course continues to insist that "we just don't know" the answers:

"'The answer to that question is, we don't know yet.'"
And as before, Left I on the news asks - when will we know exactly, considering that for all intents and purposes, no one is even bothering to look anymore?

If this man had an ounce of pride, or honesty, he'd still be fifteen ounces short of a pound.


NPR-Watch Action Alert

When Vice-President Dick Cheney made his outrageous claims about Iraqi WMD in an NPR interview yesterday, interviewer Juan Williams evidently did nothing whatsoever to challenge his claims. FAIR is asking people to write to NPR to protest this failure to ask proper followup questions to such obviously false statements.

Friday, January 23, 2004


Lies and the lying liars...

No, not Fox, NBC. On tonight's NBC Nightly News, Chip Reid presented a story about the Democrats who appeared at an AARP forum today, speaking about their health care proposals. Reid claimed that they were being careful to distinguish their plans from Bill Clinton's "failed" health care plan, and then again referred to Clinton's plan as a "failure." Clinton did indeed fail to get his plan passed by Congress, but the plan itself can hardly be called a "failure" since it was never tried. That didn't stop Reid and NBC from doing so, twice.


David Kay, struggling with the truth

Reuters is just out with this story:
"David Kay stepped down as leader of the U.S. hunt for banned weapons in Iraq on Friday and said he did not believe the country had any large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons."
Large stockpiles? Gee, that's funny, I don't remember any stockpiles, and I'm even willing to call one weapon a "pile" just for the sake of argument.

In a similar vein, this direct quote:

"'I don't think they existed,' Kay said. 'What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last (1991) Gulf War, and I don't think there was a large-scale production program in the nineties,' he said."
So is he trying to say there was small-scale production program in the nineties? He certainly implies it, despite the fact that there isn't the slightest evidence that that's the case.

And finally, this gem:

"'I think we have found probably 85 percent of what we're going to find,' he said."
Yeah, 85 percent of diddly-squat equals diddly-squat. Higher math not required.

Followup: The liberal Guardian has this to say: "[David Kay's] suggestion that Saddam had no illegal weapons means Saddam was involved in a gigantic bluff to shore up his international prestige." But Iraq repeatedly said in public that it did not have any weapons of mass destruction. Pretty strange "bluff" if you ask me.

In reality it was George Bush and Tony Blair who were "involved in a gigantic bluff," claiming that they had overwhelming evidence of massive amounts of Iraqi WMD threatening the world in order to drag their countries into war.


CG News

There were (and still are, I'm sure) conspiracy theorists who thought that the footage of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon was a hoax, shot on a TV studio somewhere. A pretty silly idea to most of us, I'm sure. But every single day recently, I've watched TV "news footage" of the Spirit Rover unfolding itself, roaming over the surface of Mars, picking up rocks, etc. Not once has this "footage" been labelled "computer generated" or "simulation" or anything to indicate to the viewer that it wasn't real, live footage. And I'm willing to bet that a significant percentage of the viewing audience hasn't noticed.


Clear Channel takes a hit

Non Sequitur:

I love the "J. Gerbils, 'Clean' Channel Standards Minister" :-)


The Fog of War Criminals

In today's San Jose Mercury News, Bruce Newman reviews the new movie "The Fog of War" (opening tonight in San Jose and undoubtedly elsewhere), which profiles (and extensively interviews) Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

Most people know about McNamara's role in the Vietnam war. But most (certainly including me) probably don't know about his role in the fire-bombing of Tokyo, one of the original demonstrations that "weapons of mass destruction" come in many forms:

"After graduating from the University of California-Berkeley and Harvard business school, McNamara set about assembling what he calls (with evident lack of irony) 'the best and the brightest' to do statistical analysis for the Army air corps during World War II. 'I analyzed bombing missions and how to make them more efficient,' he says.

"His efficiency report persuaded Gen. Curtis LeMay to bring his B-29s down to bombing runs so low they couldn't miss. This allowed American planes to fire bomb 50 square miles of Tokyo in a single night, burning to death 100,000 men, women and children.

"'LeMay said if we'd lost the war, we'd all have been prosecuted as war criminals,' McNamara recalls. 'And I think he's right. He, and I'd say I, were behaving as war criminals.'

"After this, McNamara just stares into the camera for a long time, his face a blank, but still struggling to hold something back. 'What makes it immoral if you lose,' he asks finally, 'and not if you win?'"


Stalemate in the Middle East?

VOA News reports that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, speaking on Egyptian television, said that "Middle East Peace efforts are 'at a bit of a stalemate,' because Israelis and Palestinians are not helping move the process forward."

And how much does the U.S. care about this "stalemate" which sees Palestinians killed almost every single day? The words "Israel" or "Palestine" do not appear in George Bush's State of the Union address even once.

On March 20, join one of the many worldwide demonstrations against occupation, not just the U.S. occupation of Iraq but also the U.S.-supported Israeli occupation of Palestine. George Bush isn't going to raise his voice, or his finger, but the people of the world can.

Thursday, January 22, 2004


Just say no...to the PATRIOT Act

One day after George Bush asked Congress to extend the PATRIOT Act, Los Angeles became the largest city to come out against the Act, "calling portions of the terror-fighting law anti-American and saying that it encourages racial profiling." More than 230 cities, counties and states have passed such resolutions.

Thanks to TalkLeft for spotting this for us; it was not visible on the main page of the LA Times online.


Political humor of the day, Part III

"Vice President Dick Cheney revived two controversial assertions about the war in Iraq Thursday, declaring there is "overwhelming evidence" that Saddam Hussein had a relationship with al-Qaida and that two trailers discovered after the war are proof of Iraq's biological weapons programs." (Source)
Would someone please tell me why a reporter would even talk to this man, and National Public Radio (on which the quote was made) would even offer him a platform on which to speak? Lyndon LaRouche makes more sense than he does, for cryin' out loud.

And by contrast, during tonight's Democratic Presidential debate I had to listen to Peter Jennings declare in his most authoritative tone, while demanding to know what on earth Wesley Clark was thinking when he allowed Michael Moore to refer to George Bush as a "deserter," that "that's a reckless charge not supported by the facts." I wonder if he's ever said the same thing to Dick Cheney? (Over and above the fact that the claim is hardly "reckless" and is in fact supported by facts, even if not necessarily undisputed facts).

Followup: Visit Michael Moore's website for the lowdown on the deserter charges.


The vanishing case for WMD

August 12, 2003, Left I on the News:
"Whether weapons (or weapons programs) existed, or were hidden, or were destroyed, or (in this case) whether orders were received to use them, there were people involved - lots of people. And not just the "key scientists" and generals, but ordinary soldiers, technicians, truck drivers, etc. -- people who would have received the orders to deploy chemical weapons, been guarding the warehouse where they were stored, driven trucks out to the desert to hide or destroy them, received training in how to use them, etc. Now, given the financial (and asylum) incentives being offered for actual evidence of any of this, it is at all plausible that not a single person would have come forward with this evidence?...There can only be one explanation why none have come forward, and that is that no such people (and hence no such weapons) exist."
Jan. 9, 2004, Charles A. Duelfer, the former No. 2 United Nations weapons inspector for Iraq, said to be the likely replacement for David Kay to continue the "search" for WMD in Iraq:
"In a Jan. 9 interview on 'Newshour' on PBS, Mr. Duelfer said, 'The prospect of finding chemical weapons, biological weapons is close to nil at this point.' He said the inspectors had been 'talking to a lot of Iraqi scientists, anyone who has known where they are, they've spoken to. They've had every incentive to show them where they are, and they have come up with nothing.'"
Nice to have someone in government acknowledge the obvious, albeit a bit late. So now I guess Mr. Duelfer will really be looking for "weapons of mass destruction program-related activities." You know, like someone teaching chemistry in an Iraqi high school. Or someone placing orders for an excessive number of petri dishes.


Not a pretty picture

From the New York Times:

"Facing a sharp drop in demand for conventional photographic film, the Eastman Kodak Company said today that it was speeding its transition to digital imaging while cutting costs in its film business by eliminating up to 15,000 jobs worldwide, more than a fifth of its work force.

"Past job cuts have not damaged the economy in western New York State, but the new cuts may have a greater impact. Most older workers eligible for early retirement or large settlements are gone and the company has begun laying off people in their thirties whose only job has been with Kodak. The cuts will eliminate, over three years, close to 1 percent of the 528,000 jobs in the Rochester market."
And does anyone really think that "retraining" is the answer? Are the people being laid off from Kodak really going to be "retrained" as Ph.D. microbiolgists for jobs in the biotech industry, where it is claimed (with little justification) that the job growth will be coming? In truth, of course, the only job growth is in counter jobs at McDonald's and Starbucks, where the "retraining" is done on the job.

Will this "transition to digital imaging" create more jobs in the future? Don't count on it.

"Mr. Carp also said the company would concentrate on acquisitions that fit neatly into its business plan, rather than on exotic ideas that may show potential for future profits."
"Acquisitions" don't add jobs, they subtract them, as redundant functions are eliminated. It is precisely "exotic ideas" which are the kind of things which do result in future job growth, and precisely those things which Kodak says they will not be doing.


Worldwide agreement - U.S. out of Iraq!

The World Social Forum in Mumbai (Bombay), India, attended by 100,000 people representing 150 countries, has called for worldwide demonstrations on March 20 calling for U.S. (and allied) troops to get out of Iraq immediately.


U.S. military vs. journalists

Last week various people in the antiwar and progressive movements were touting a report from Reports without Borders, calling for a re-opening of the investigation into the murder of two journalists at the Palestine Hotel by the U.S. military on April 8. A rather different take than one you've probably seen before can be found in today's Granma:
"Robert Menard, president for life of the pseudo-NGO Reporters sans frontieres might deceive a lot of people, but cannot deceive everyone.

"Responding to the January 15 publication of a Reporters sans frontieres (RSF) 'report' exonerating the soldiers who confessed to the murder in Iraq of Spanish cameraman Jose Couso, his family issued a press release on January 16 in Madrid, rejecting the supposed 'investigation' and asking RSF to immediately withdraw from the dispute.

"The family has filed a suit in the Supreme Court accusing the three U.S. soldiers implicated in the firing of a missile at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad that killed Couso. In their letter to RSF, his family members explain that their decision was made 'after analyzing the RSF report,' which refutes the guilt of the identified soldiers and transfers 'responsibility to non-identified persons.'

"For the family, the RSF conclusions 'are appropriate for the defense of the accused, but not for the ongoing indictment.' Couso's family also states that 'the irregularities and lack of rigor in drawing up a report that fails to include the testimony of any of the journalists present at the hotel (only with three journalists 'embedded' within the U.S. forces) and which contains erroneous information and contradictions.' They likewise note the RSF's lack of sensitivity in writing a report that thanks two of the soldiers accused of the war crime in their lawsuit.

"The RSF report is signed by a journalist, Jean-Paul Mari, known to associate with Colonel Philip de Camp, a military officer who admitted his involvement in the attack on the Palestine Hotel and the death of the journalists. The report is based on the testimony of three journalists - all of them American - linked to the U.S. armed forces. One of them - Chris Tomlinson - was in the U.S. Army Intelligence Services for more than seven years. None of the Spanish journalists who were at the hotel were consulted in the drafting of the report, the Couso family press release emphasizes."


Political humor of the day, II

From Dennis Kucinich's latest statement:
"West Point is replacing National Guardsmen on security duty with private security. That's how thinly we are stretched. Our military academy has had to hire a private company to protect it."


Free the Five!

Bay area activist Gloria La Riva addressed the World Social Forum on the subject of "the Five" and got written up in Granma as a result, providing a chance for us to remind our readers about the case of the five Cubans who are in prison in the United States for the "crime" of fighting terrorism, and to call attention to the fact that there is an ongoing fundraising campaign to place a full-page ad on the case in the New York Times in an attempt to break the media blockade on this injustice.

Incidentally, for those who don't know, Gloria La Riva probably has the honor of being the leftist (or the American for that matter) who has addressed the largest public audience, having spoken in Cuba at their giant May Day rally several years ago about U.S. efforts on behalf of Elian Gonzalez. Maybe one day we'll see her picture on a stamp, just like Paul Robeson and Malcolm X. One can only hope!


Political humor of the day

A lot of people, including Left I on the News, dredged up comparisons between Bush's State of the Union addresses in 2003 and 2004. Only the Daily Show went back to 2002 for this gem:
"To achieve these great national objectives -- to win the war, protect the homeland, and revitalize our economy -- our budget will run a deficit that will be small and short-term." - George Bush, State of the Union, 2002
Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and crew were in rare form picking apart this year's speech - video definitely helps! But the "funniest" moment of the evening was courtesy of guest John McCain. After totally trashing the State of the Union speech and numerous aspects of the Republican program, McCain announced that he was headed to New Hampshire - to speak in favor of George Bush! I don't think it was a joke; if it was, he sure fooled me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004



The article in the Washington Post starts:
"The White House insisted on Wednesday that President Bush's State of the Union speech was not the opening shot of his re-election campaign. But that did not stop the president from taking a relatively small job-training initiative that he included in the speech to two of the most hotly contested states in the coming election, Ohio and Arizona [where he spoke at two community colleges]"
Given these facts, why does the headline to this article read: "Bush, on Campaignlike Swing, Promotes Job-Training Initiative"? Why is that "campaignlike"? If this wasn't a "campaign" swing, then what else would be? Does he have to utter the words "vote for me" for the Post to call it a "campaign" swing?


Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson - New Jersey native - scholar - athlete - performer - Black activist - socialist - a man not afraid to stand up for his beliefs, no matter what the cost.

A new stamp has just been issued by the U.S. Postal Service honoring this great man - Left I just picked up ten sheets today to help enlighten the world about Robeson by honoring him on letters for the next few months. Here's just one little taste of what Robeson had to say:

"I do not believe that a few people should control the wealth of any land - that it should be a collective ownership in the interest of everyone.

"If we were free in the South tomorrow to carry our weight, to vote, and to do everything, would we now look around and try to find the ten billionaires among our people?  Would we attempt to build them up, or would we try to answer the needs of the great millions of our people?  And so I see other ways of life - socialism - as trying to solve the problems of millions and tens of millions of people at once.

"Giving up freedom is not any part of socialist philosophy - or communist philosophy, as far as I know.  We struck it during the war, under Roosevelt, for example.  We had to give up many privileges.  They're practically telling us that we have to do that again.  [Socialist society]  may not exactly belong to the man in the street, but he feels it is much more his than, say, I do in Charleston, South Carolina.  When a Southern American Negro explained to me that I was in the state of our great plantations, I said: 'Are you sure about that?  Our great plantations?  I don't feel that they are my plantations'.  But in one sense, some of the people of socialist lands feel that the country does belong to them, in a real sense.

"There is no way, as I have said before, for an American Negro, however wealthy, however famous, to be anything at this period of our history, other than an American Negro.  If he doesn't know it, he'll find out."
Old man river. He just keeps rolling along. And so should the memory of the great Paul Robeson.

(As when the Postal Service issued a stamp honoring Malcolm X, I have to ask - do they really know who they are honoring? Well, whether they do or they don't, I'm glad they did!)


Invasions of privacy - for what?

People are upset, and demanding investigations, about the fact that Northwest Airlines, and JetBlue Airways before them, turned over information about literally millions of passenger to the government (specifically NASA - don't they have a moon to go visit or something?). Totally aside from the obvious violations of privacy, and the intrusive extension of government power, what I want to know is - what were they thinking?

According to reports, this was "an experiment to determine if the government could 'mine' the data to spot terrorists." Further:

"Researchers at NASA's Ames Laboratory had hoped to use data to find unusual travel patterns as clues to terrorists' identities.

"A spokesman for the laboratory, David R. Morse, said 'They were looking to see if they could develop algorithms that were useful for security.'"
So the question is, how on earth were they expecting it would be useful? Since there were no terrorist acts committed by passengers on Northwest Airlines during that period, and I really doubt that any "known terrorists" were flying on their airlines, what exactly were they looking for? When you look for correlations in data, you have to correlate A with B. But since there was no B (terrorists), no matter what "A" you pick, the correlation will always be zero. They say they were looking for "unusual travel patterns." But let's say someone flew from point A to point B and then immediately back to A. Couldn't it be that they just got a call while en-route that there was an emergency back home, or something like that? Likewise if they flew from New York to Miami via Los Angeles, couldn't there be a reasonable explanation? And how would they know if there was or wasn't a reasonable explanation without interviewing the passenger to ask? The whole concept just seems very strange to me.


Headline of the Day

From the San Jose Mercury News:
Puma-people encounters rise
Gee, that's funny, I've spent a lot of time in the woods and never seen any of those "puma-people." What do they look like?



Here's the "Quote of the Day" from Working for Change, quoting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (most likely from her response to the State of the Union address, although it isn't identified), considered by the "mainstream" to be not just liberal but extremely liberal, practically a socialist:
"As a nation, we must show our greatness, not just our strength. America must be a light to the world, not just a missile."
That word "just" reveals a lot about Pelosi and those who share her views. She has no problem with America flexing its strength (otherwise known as bombing and invading other countries), and firing missiles at other countries, so long as that's not "just" all we do. With "progressives" like that, who needs conservatives?



There were lots of things I didn't comment on in the State of the Union address, not to mention lots of things which weren't in the address which could be noted. But one, pointed out to me in a private email, is definitely worth noting:
Bush: "Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and Great Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not."
The email to me said it all, so I'll just requote it:
"This must be Orwellian doublespeak that refers to the 12 years of strangling economic sanctions [strangling and deadly, with over a million Iraqis dead as a result of the sanctions, according to U.N. estimates], combined with occasional cruise missile strikes, and the almost daily bombings from U.S. warplanes patrolling the illegal 'no-fly' zones.  With diplomacy like this, who needs wars?

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