culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Grand Canyon
Skimble is on break through Monday, November 11. Guess where I'll be.
Grand Canyon

Here's a variety of semi-random links for your amusement, in no order whatsoever:

Neil Bush : Florida software scam

Turux : Fascinating Shockwave art

Election coverage and info : Illinois, some Indiana and Michigan too

Dark Admissions : Gothic Subculture and the Ambivalence of Misogyny and Resistance

Rand McNally : an alternative to Mapquest

Jazz in Chicago : a quick guide and directory

American Crusade : Axis of Evil trading cards

Silophone : indescribable

First Vote : a new idea

US readers: Vote on November 5. I'll catch up with you soon.
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
What's on people's minds. A few of the search terms that got people to skimble:
iatrogenic illnesses
commentary on poems like lawrence ferlinghetti
deep condolences for the loss of the senate
noelle kuwait falwell
"roger ebert" thursday nihilistic
swept away rape Lina Wertmuller
Jennifer Lopez diet
and the #1 referral:
Barbara K. Bodine (former ambassador to Yemen)
The Skimble Do List. Things I want to look into: (1) Find out why that Enron executive (Dexter? Baxter? And what was his Portland connection?) committed suicide. (2) Refresh memories about Neil Bush and Silverado. (3) Locate former Enron CEOs Lay and Skilling and report on their retirement activities.
"Financial markets were rattled by a dramatic fall in The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index to 79.4, a low not seen since November 1993, from 93.7 in September and well below forecasts for a fall to 89.7. Excluding September 2001 this was the biggest monthly drop since 1990." —
Yahoo / Reuters. The intervening eight years belonged to the fellated Clinton, whose administration saw the tumescent prosperity of this country rise through the 1990s.

Flashback to 1990: consumer confidence plummets. The lesson for 2002? Like father, like son.

War, terrorism, corporate malfeasance, destruction of the financial markets, loss of trust in public institutions, lack of intelligence and law enforcement credibility, rising crime rates, family alliances with despotic monarchs, ill-advised grudge matches, the usurpation of civil liberties, unparalleled media concentration, lobbyist dictators, oil-driven policy, an unprecedented quantum leap above the routine level of political hypocrisy, timid cowering behind the NRA while snipers circle the Beltway, anthrax assassination attempts on Democrats in Congress, and imperial designs on the rest of the world. How much damage will voters allow?

Vote Republicans out on November 5.
Monday, October 28, 2002
I want my $190 million back. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson recently kicked off a five year, $190 million media campaign to get kids exercising. Called
VERB - It's what you do [sic], it consists entirely of "media outreach," i.e., advertising.

Are there any broadcasting industry lobbyists who are intimately concerned with children's health?

Why didn't they just give $190 million to the YMCA?

This is old news, but it was so well reported by NOW with Bill Moyers, that I couldn't resist bringing it up again.
Bjork vs. Alcoa. Via BBC News.
"Crime Up for First Time in a Decade," says the
headline in The New York Times.

Murder, rape and every other violent criminal act except aggravated assault rose last year, the FBI said Monday in reporting the first year-to-year increase in overall crime in a decade.

The number of murders increased for the second straight year, following several years of decline, according to the FBI....

Who "led" this country for the last two years? Whose father "led" this country a decade ago?

Fight crime: vote the whole family and their whole party out of office.
Friday, October 25, 2002
"I would like to express my deep condolences for the loss of the Senate," Bush said shortly after hearing of Wellstone's death Friday. [CBS News link
here via CounterSpin.]

UPDATE: The offensive quotation above is no longer served up by the link. But that's where I got it when I posted. {sigh}
Rest in peace, Senator Wellstone and family.
Broadway lyricist Adolph Green has also died. Here's an overview of his
accomplishments, and below is one of his most famous lyrics, co-authored with Betty Comden, from the musical Bells Are Ringing:

The Party's Over, it's time to call it a day.
They've burst your pretty balloon and taken the moon away.

It's time to wind up the masquerade.
Just make your mind up, the piper must be paid.

The Party's Over. The candles flicker and dim.
You danced and dreamed through the night,
it seemed to be right just being with him.

Now you must wake up, all dreams must end.
Take off your make up, The Party's Over.
It's all over, my friend.
Speaking of illegal art... here's a particularly juvenile Flash example of lying (and thieving — through blatant copyright infringement) from the hopelessly artless
Republican National Committee. Via Counterspin.
The Enron/Halliburton administration, Part 98.
The Washington Post reports on a lawsuit filed against Dick Cheney and the company he headed before becoming acting president of the United States:
In its lawsuit, self-described government watchdog group Judicial Watch accused Halliburton of using a change in accounting practices to overstate revenue by $445 million from 1999 through 2001. Cheney was chairman and chief executive of the oil field and construction company from 1995 to mid-2000.

Hmm... Let's compare this with other manipulative white collar crimes:

Overstated revenue by Halliburton Republicans:

Stock options exercised by Enron senior management in the 2 years before collapse:

Value of Martha Stewart's ImClone insider trade:

Look at the scale: If we index Democrat Martha's wrongdoing at a value of $1, then Republican Cheney/Halliburton's would be almost $2,000, and Republican Enron senior management's would be about $5,300.

But who's getting all the press?
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Lies, damned lies, and Enron. Public Information Research publishes an informative
Enron page.
Q: What is illegal art? A: Lots of juvenile parodies of other people's work and bastardization of corporate logos, accompanied by a lot of pretentious rationalizations and self-congratulatory comparisons to jazz musicians of the 1930s.

Some of this material may be valid and some of it is certainly troublesome or downright stupid. But here's a link to a show of
"illegal art" that opens in a couple of weeks in New York and moves to Chicago in January. A few of their ideas about the evils of copyright seem a bit too expansive, but in an era of corporate domination of intellectual content (buttressed by recent changes in copyright law) their voices should be encouraged. Guardedly.
Reporters without Borders publishes the first
press freedom index.

Another opportunity for patriotic pride: the US is just a couple places behind Slovenia and Costa Rica.
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Neal Pollack takes the rap for bloggers. Convicted and incarcerated in France for "inciting racial hatred through pretentious writing," Neal Pollack becomes the fall guy for an entire generation of pompous blowhards, i.e., yours truly and bloggers everywhere.

Thanks, Neal. We appreciate your
Crime-fighting superhero, retiree Ed Lake. When our professional intelligence and investigative agencies become too mired in their silo and turf wars* to actually protect the "homeland," as appears to have already happened with the advent of Junior's administration, only dedicated amateurs will be able to do the heavy sifting necessary to refine the truth.

Ed Lake is one guy who's doing exactly that with his one-man
anthrax investigation, and here's the story on him in Time. Via the invaluable Cursor.

*Cf. Barbara K. Bodine/John O'Neill, the FBI Arizona memos, etc.
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Remember Cipro? That was last October. Wouldn't it make sense that the sniper, like the unidentified anthrax mailer of 2001, and, for that matter, like bin Laden, is just another disgruntled nobody without respect for human life, airing a poorly reasoned public gripe with the US government?

But the timing of these and other distractions, real and artificial, is disturbingly convenient for Junior's administration. The Rockaway air crash last year occurred at nearly the same moment as the release of the 2000 vote recount study.

And now the country prepares to vote again. The stakes are higher, with the possible Republican eclipse of all three branches of government. But who's thinking about that?

Meanwhile, the sniper, poster boy of CNN and the NRA, is doing what snipers do best — hiding in the trees and behind Bushes.
Monday, October 21, 2002
Why I stopped reading the Chicago Tribune. I didn't grow up in Chicago, so I don’t have the sentimental attachment to the newspaper that many lifelong residents do. I moved here in the 80s, and gave up on the paper in the 90s, thanks to better national distribution of The New York Times and a newfangled thingamabob called the Internet (thanks, Al Gore!).

Sunday I picked up a Tribune to see what, if anything, I was missing. Here are excerpts from the lead article in the Business section by a staff reporter (Robert Manor) on the local economy:

Random, representative phrases: bad news… downright dismal… not much comfort to investors and workers… loss of confidence in stock markets… difficult for companies to raise capital… crippled the airlines and other industries…

Motorola Inc. warned that sales for the coming year would be weak, sending its stock price to a 10-year-low.

Boeing Co. lost a $6 billion order for 120 planes to European rival Airbus. It's now in danger of of losing its status as the world's largest aircraft manufacturer.

Shares of Sears, Roebuck and Co. tumbled 32 percent after the retailer disclosed… [etc.]

What's so remarkable about this article? The editor's input — the headline. Chicago economy not all bad. Huh?

Oh, right, mentioning the obvious (the deteriorating US pawn shop economy) is bad for Republicans on November 5.

Elsewhere on the Editorial page you'll find the requisite endorsement for the Republican senatorial candidate, the name-soundalike Durkin who is the challenger to Democratic incumbent Durbin. This endorsement falls neatly into line with every other überparty endorsement they've made (Dole in 1996, etc.).

The neat juxtaposition of news with contradictory headlines that are designed to support their Republican endorsements is a Tribune calling card.

You would think that a city the size and importance of Chicago would have a newspaper of proportional importance, but it doesn't. The scrappy Chicago Sun-Times is often quite good but its physical production is awful. The Tribune has the money but not the will to produce a paper that doesn't suck. This is a paper that screams, "I exist only as a pretext to deliver these ads and Best Buy inserts to you."

Some other day I'll go into everything else that bugs me about the Tribune (which will remain unlinked): the low quality of the prose, the design, and the appalling arts coverage. In a word, yecch.
More irrelevant idiocy from the world of genetic engineering. For what has the world clamored since the dawn of time?
Tearless onions. The linked article hails the amazing breakthrough as the advent of "a new era of onion science and horticulture." Does this represent the great promise that genetic engineering — an extreme technology by anyone's standards — is supposed to offer? Evidently, the art of prioritization does not come naturally to food scientists.

What is so offensive about ordinary foods that corporations and university labs want to ruin them? The exasperated reader, seeking a more pungent experience, will want to go here instead.

don't cry
Media Whores Online is back from a well-deserved vacation, and with a prolific vengeance.

But there's more to MWO than the front page. As one of its many public services, MWO also publishes extensive Annals of Enron, a sea of information exposing the dozens of connections between Junior's administration, the Republican elite, and the disgraced thieving liars that Enron used to call senior management.
Friday, October 18, 2002
You can't even get drunk anymore without lubricating a

Found at CounterSpin.
It's all about the oil. Not Iraq's oil. The world's oil. Nor is it about 'cheap oil.' It's about control. Once you own a resource, you don't want its price minimized. Emphasis mine, but the words belong to
My favorite blog of the last 48 hours is
TBOGG, who manages to skewer Peggy Noonan, the Pope and the church, along with at least a dozen tangential targets, in a single post.
Last night I had the luck to hear an outstanding reading by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, one of the most celebrated poets of the Beat generation, at an event hosted by the
Poetry Center of Chicago. Spry, articulate, and still very much an active bard at the age of 83, he read with vitality and even supplemented some of his poems with sight gags. It was a real event — the audience of 500 (a guess) thronged and admired him like a rock star, albeit a fragile one. As far as I could tell, the Chicago media was nowhere in attendance, clueless bastards that they are whenever something real and unsensational or unfunded by their advertisers occurs.

Ferlinghetti read poems about Allen Ginsburg dying, about dogs and bag ladies, about fireflies. One poem was written yesterday morning. Everything he read was infused with the poet's special talent for the deepest forms of humanism, and never mawkish, even when versifying about September 11. Then he signed the audience's books, some more than fifty years old, until there were no more takers. An enchanting and inspiring evening.

If you want to know more, here's his google.
Glad to see some people are resisting the gravitational pull of
Casual Friday.
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Noelle Bush gets ten days. I want to point to her as an obvious symbol of her elders' hypocrisy, but I actually feel bad for this poor girl who even more obviously needs help.
economy, stupidIt's still the economy, stupid is just one of several designs intended to stimulate a bit of dialog before November 5.

It's already too cold for T-shirts in Chicago. Guess I'll have to get a sweatshirt.

(From the Democratic Underground.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Jeff & Ken85,000 people lost their jobs so Lay and Skilling (and Junior) can stay out of the spotlight. Yahoo/Reuters reports that Arthur Andersen gets five years of probation and a half-million dollar fine for its role in obstructing justice during the Enron probe. Too late, though — the company's already all but dead.

A bunch of greedy idiots play around with off-balance sheet assets and finance the political campaigns of yet another idiot, and thousands of Enron shareholders have their pockets emptied while employees lose their life savings. A handful of idiots in a Texas office of Arthur Andersen misbehave, and more than 80,000 people lose their jobs.

An idiotic dictator plays around with Kuwait in 1990, and ordinary Iraqi citizens get a rain of bombs on their heads. An idiotic president does a half-ass job of proving to himself he's not a wimp, and leaves it to his idiot son and his idiotic advisers a decade later to screw Junior's "Crusade" up to the point where words like Armageddon become part of the basic vocabulary.

There are plenty of other examples too: Worldcom, Tyco, Ashcroft, Falwell, Robertson, bin Laden, the Vatican...

They're all variations on the same theme: so-called business, government and religious "leaders" who are undeserving of the word, let alone the position.

Information wheels are no-tech calculators, a highly specialized form of design curiosity described in a
book that I will have to get because information wheels have low-tech street cred and, besides, they are so cool. The book, Reinventing the Wheel, was brought to my attention by Everything Burns.

Though they are unrelated to information wheels, make sure you click on Everything Burns's tensegrity structures. Also cool.
An Enron primer. My ongoing obsession with Enron and how it influenced energy policy in an all-oil White House, as well as its possible interests in the energy of Central Asia, the scapegoating and indictment of the entire firm of Arthur Andersen, not to mention financial interests in Junior's campaigns for governor of Texas and president of the Christian States of America, may not make sense if you're tuning in late.

Former CEOs Lay and Skilling, the mouths behind that sucking sound that made billions of dollars vanish into thin air, are still unindicted and at large. If you want a reminder of what happened, the Washington Post has published a primer
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
ImClone's Waksal pleads guilty but what about Enron's Lay and Skilling? Right, their case doesn't involve celebrity Democrat Martha Stewart. Enron only involves Junior's gubernatorial and presidential campaigns and crypto-policymaker Cheney. The more we focus on Martha's 4,000 shares of ImClone, the less we'll remember Tom White's dozens of calls to Enron.

Junior is not taking the two weeks leading up to November 5 to raise funds for Enron's rank-and-file 401(k) participants, who lost everything when they were lied to by their management and government. They genuinely need Junior's help, but he's too busy spending his time sewing up Congress (and creating a sniper-friendly environment in Washington).

A parade of corporate criminals, war on the citizenry, fraudulent linkages, mind-chilling stupidity, outright lies, and a basic disrespect for human beings — it's all part of Junior's White House.
Junior puts the NRA ahead of life itself.
Yahoo reports Junior's latest move opposing ballistic fingerprinting. This is a citizen-unfriendly, sniper-friendly nod to the NRA, who has an "alliance" with the Bush Dynasty:

Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and Rep. Robert Andrews, D-N.J., are among those in Congress trying to pass legislation to create a national system [of ballistic fingerprinting]. The National Rifle Association and other gun-rights lobbyists oppose such a system, fearing it is one step down a path to a national database of gun owners.

How about a database of van owners? Oh, we already have that. Vans don't kill people, van drivers with unidentifiable guns kill people.

Bush, too, is resistant [to ballistic fingerprinting] as long as he has questions, Fleischer said.

As long as he has questions? I picture the inside of Junior's brain as a soup of bobbing question marks. Ballistic fingerprinting answers more questions than he could ever construct.

Meanwhile, while we wait for Junior to clear up his questions, nearly one person per day is dying....
White House staffers gather for "voluntary" Bible study. So says
USA Today. Can't you just see the nods, winks and finger-quotes whenever a junior staffer is "invited" to a "voluntary" meeting for "Bible study"? I wonder if this is how the "Taliban" did it.

So much of this article makes me choke. Excerpt: "Bush starts every day on his knees in prayer. He reads the Bible each morning and studies a Bible lesson daily." I'm not sure which is worse — that it might be true, in which case he's another "Republican" theocrat, or that it most likely is a total fabrication, in which case naked cynicism and an obscene manipulation of Americans' spiritual instincts is taking place. My vote: the latter. Oh, that's right, I forgot — we don't need to vote any more.

Either way, it's a lose-lose situation.
Monday, October 14, 2002
Happy Columbus Day? I'm no fan of New York Mayor Bloomberg, but I'm on his side when it comes to his inviting two of the Sopranos actors to the Manhattan Columbus Day Parade. He snubbed the parade and its organizers when they snubbed his companions, according to
The New York Times. There was the usual blather about role models. The organizers even went to court to block the appearance of the actors.

There's that word again. Actors. They're not real Mafiosi. In fact, you could make a very good argument that it's not even really a Mafia show. The Sopranos may be just an excuse for good writing, interesting character development, a satirical undertone, and typical but well-done soap opera plotting. The lifestyle and setting were perhaps sensationalized to get it on the air. In many ways it reminds me of The West Wing in its examination of the constant jockeying for power and advantage.

Italian-Americans who get upset with Italian-American artists, at least in this case, forget that the real culprits are not David Chase and his Sopranos or the Scorceses or the Coppollas — they are the Gottis and the Castellanos and the Gambinos. As far as I know, Bloomberg invited none of them.

And there's also that annoying pest, the First Amendment, which manages to get in the way whenever anyone doesn’t want to hear or see something that pinches their misguided ethnic pride. The Sopranos is not hate speech, it's simply a nicely produced entertainment show. I like it. I don't love it. If you can't perceive its artistry and tongue-in-cheek qualities, then you are welcome to whatever sitcom gruel the networks are dishing out. If the parade passes you by and fictional Dr. Melfi waves from a convertible — how unbelievably offensive! — please just close your gentle eyes for a few moments.

What I always say to Italian-American opponents of The Sopranos is this: if you don't like it, make a better show. You can choose from a gazillion Italian accomplishments and "positive" blah-blah-blah: the Renaissance, opera, da Vinci, Galileo, aqueducts, and, of course, the cuisine.

Even Shakespeare understood that sex and violence were time-tested ways to attract audiences long enough to enjoy the subtler aspects of his art. Though he's no Shakespeare, Sopranos creator David Chase understands this artistic axiom and so does his presenter, HBO.

Full disclosure: I am Italian-American. And I'm quite proud of it, too, but I really like the First Amendment.

Maybe even more.

Pardon me while I improve my 21st century hyperlinking technology. If the image above doesn't appear — and I'm very sorry if it doesn't — you can see it on my humble Geocities Image Page here.

Shortly we will announce the Grand Opening of our exciting new image hosting arrangement.
Bunker Boy says "Keep out." Vice president Dick Cheney doesn’t want anyone looking at what really happened during the events that led to the September 11, 2001, attacks, according to
Newsweek, in a report filed by Michael Isikoff and Tamara Lipper.

Any reasonable citizen might ask himself: why would our vice president want to obscure the truth? Says the article:

Cheney strongly opposes the idea of any independent body’s poking into the White House’s conduct.

So? Millions of people opposed so-called independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr's poking into Monica Lewinsky's closet during a Whitewater investigation — as if it were even peripherally relevant. At least the 9/11 commission has a strict focus. (Or is political blowback the larger fear? Why, yes, Watson, I believe we're onto something!)

But White House officials say this would allow congressional Democrats—who will control half the appointees—to "politicize" the commission.

Politicization of the White House's own behavior in response to the terrorist attacks is precisely what is driving this movement toward an independent inquiry. The actions of the Bush administration — proposing Alaskan oil drilling in the week following 9/11/01 (odd timing), the secret 2001 Ken Lay/Enron energy policy meetings (odd timing), the Afghani pipeline connection, Cheney's own speech to the Cato Institute in 1998 depicting Central Asia as the fulcrum of American energy policy, the fraudulent linkage of 9/11 to Iraq — aroused the suspicions that only an independent investigation could allay.

FYI Dick: If you're guilty of some malfeasance or obfuscation or outright fraud (like so many of your Enron and Halliburton friends), then it's conceivable you would want to oppose such an investigation. On the other hand, an independent investigation would be the perfect way to demonstrate the purity and high-mindedness of your intentions as well as your innocence.

So… Let's roll! Investigate!
Friday, October 11, 2002
USS Cole coat of armsOctober 12 is the two-year anniversary of the attack on the USS Cole stationed in Yemen.

Two years on, we should remember two things: that this had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq, and that soldiers die when leaders make mistakes.

Take a quiet moment to remember the seventeen men and women who died on October 12, 2000. There is general information about the USS Cole here and a memorial page here.

It's a very bad idea to
dismantle the constitution. But good ideas come from Ozten.
The extreme urgency of invading Iraq is disproven by Junior's month-long August vacation (except for the fundraisers) and his scheduled 14-day congressional Republican campaign blitz leading up to November 5, when he plans to invade America again, this time on the taxpayers' dime. So says
The Washington Post.

Now that the knock-kneed Senate has given Junior the unlimited powers of war he and his cabal craved, all that stands in his way between him and Total Domination of Everything Everywhere is the rest of Congress, since he already owns the same Supreme Court that overturned the 2000 election of Al Gore.

This is not funny.

A midterm election may never have been quite so important in our lifetimes. It is especially crucial for first-time and occasional voters to get to the polls this year, and throw the GOP out of Congress onto their greasy fat asses.

You're either with us, or you're with the criminal CEOs and warmongers.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
Get Your War On coming to your home town?

Buy the book. I did.
Bush = Enron. He can't distance himself from the greedy swine that ran Enron and Tyco, because he belongs in the pen with them. Bush Junior
personally approved the movement of assets to an off balance sheet entity to hide losses (i.e., what Enron did), according to HarvardWatch, an alumni and student group which monitors the university's investments, as reported in The Guardian:

Over the summer political rivals made capital of a 1991 insider dealing investigation into the future president by the SEC. Mr Bush sold 212,140 shares for $849,000 two months before the company reported a $23.2m quarterly loss but the SEC closed the case without taking action.

Picture very clouded... Vision blurry... Can't seem to remember... Whose father was president in 1991?

Here are the smoking memos (#1 and #2) and here is HarvardWatch.

Links courtesy of Oliver Willis via MetaFilter.
When television personalities ad lib, the world cringes. This morning on CNN Paula Zahn mentioned that Madonna was starring in a remake of Swept Away, which she extemporaneously described as "a romantic movie from the fifties."

Swept Away was a parable of the economic classes told in sexual politics, written and directed by Lina Wertmuller in 1974. "Rape-oriented" and even "perversely erotic" might be appropriate words to describe it, but not "romantic." Here's a review from

How do the most clueless people like Paula get in the catbird seat? Does it have anything to do with hairstyles, excellent dental work, or slavish obedience to corporate masters?

Note to Paula's producers: find more compliant model-spokespersons who read from prepared and fact-checked scripts, or find more intelligent hosts.
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
The American Dark Ages. American theocracy keeps rearing its ugly head, as shown when a candidate for chairman of the FDA's panel on women's health policy can make insanely medieval statements like these:

"Jesus stood up for women at a time when women were second-class citizens," Dr. Hager says. "I often say, if you are liberated, a woman's libber, you can thank Jesus for that."


...Dr. Hager has written that it is "dangerous" to compartmentalize life into "categories of Christian truth and secular truth."


"Jesus still longs to bring wholeness to women today," the jacket [of Dr. Hager's book] says.

One nation "under God"? Whose God? Men's or women's? The East's or the West's? Yours or mine or Dr. Hager's?

Thanks to the source,
Maureen Dowd of The New York Times.
Jamming the watchers. A simple laser pointer can temporarily disable a surveillance camera. So says this
artist/technologist in The New York Times. As the invasion of privacy, especially in public places, grows under Ashcroftism, we must be aware of who is watching us and we must take care to watch them as well. Camera-jamming may become a controversial new tactic in the war against the American police state. From the article:

Philip E. Agre, an associate professor of information studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, [says,] "Everyone can watch the common people, but that has nothing to do with the political question of who can watch the powerful."

Or, as Johnny Cochran put it in his perverse but effective defense of OJ Simpson, "Who polices the police? You police the police."
Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Welcome to the US police state. Here are several shots of the military filming protesters in Washington DC, courtesy of Memory Hole.
"The bottom-line question that will not go away, and which was left unanswered in Cincinnati, is what is driving Mr Bush down this path? Is it a desire to draw attention away from his poor to chronic domestic policy record? Is it an attempted diversion from the stock market collapse, America's rising unemployment and its corporate malfeasance scandals? Is it all about oil? Or the mid-term elections? Or his own re-election bid in 2004? Or is it a personal, Bush family vendetta against Saddam?"

From America's great misleader by Simon Tisdall in
The Guardian.
Apathy is not the answer. A number of the young antiwar protesters have been quoted as saying that they don't vote because the system is so corrupt, politicians are so slimy, etc. They are right about the corruption and the slime, but people under 30 don't seem to realize the leverage and political power they have.

If only a few thousand young voters had gone to the polls instead of staying home in Florida in 2000, we would have a different president now. Compare what could have been our current situation if young people had turned out the vote: it is highly doubtful that President Gore would yak incessantly about the Iraqi threat. In fact, you could argue that there's a good chance that 9/11/01 might never have happened the way it did if Gore were president, because he might not have tried to schizophrenically placate and then alienate the Taliban as the Bush administration appears to have done. And Gore's family and friends and advisors are not the oil-drenched millionaires the Bushies are.

The point is this: young voters could have helped avoid the possibility of sending young soldiers to war. Or helped young workers get better jobs or medical coverage at work. The economy flew like an eagle under Clinton; it's in the toilet under Bush Junior. Young people who didn't vote helped Bush get elected.

Young non-voters can sit back and complain, but young voters help determine the quality of their own future. Here are a
couple of places to get started.
Bush's Iraq speech yesterday contained the following (from the Washington Post
Some citizens wonder, "After 11 years of living with this problem, why do we need to confront it now?"

And there's a reason. We have experienced the horror of September the 11th. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people.

Connecting al Qaeda and Hussein is of course a fraudulent linkage, but he never even answers his own question (even including the lengthy paragraphs that follow in the full speech).

Why now? If the Iraqi threat is so overwhelming and so imminent, why did Bush spend the month of August relaxing at his Texas ranch? True, he did leave the ranch periodically for Republican fundraising at record-breaking levels. But if the Iraqi menace is bearing down upon us, why wasn't he in the Situation Room with deputy rancher Cheney, protecting our thirst for oil from his Axis of Evil?
Monday, October 07, 2002

An image from Ozten's photo gallery of the October 6 antiwar demonstrations in Seattle.
Scott Ritter speaks as a Republican, as a veteran, as a former UN weapons inspector, and, most importantly, as an American against the impending war on Iraq waged by the Bush administration. Reported by
The Guardian.

Interesting how what ought to be the American mainstream debate seems to emanate almost entirely from Great Britain.
Bill Clinton speaks to a British Labour Party conference, delivering a speech in intelligible English that would be inconceivable coming out of the pie-hole of "fool-me-once" Junior. Reported by
Friday, October 04, 2002
The man who knew. Last night
Frontline broadcast a 90-minute documentary about John O'Neill, the FBI counterterrorism expert who had already connected most of the dots leading to the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks last year. For six years he obsessed about bin Laden's network, tracing the line that led from the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, through the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, through the plans to stage a terrorist millenium explosion at LAX on the eve of 2000, through the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, to the summer of 2001 when the intelligence world again became aware that something big and awful was in the works.

But the US government would not let O'Neill do his job. O'Neill was known throughout the FBI as the go-to guy on bin Laden, but he was not made aware of the Arizona flight school FBI memos or the custody of the alleged "20th hijacker" Zacharias Moussaoui. Barbara K. Bodine, US ambassador to Yemen, denied his visa to return to investigate the Cole bombing. Tom Pickard, at one point interim director for the FBI, did everything in his power to silence and frustrate O'Neill. The compartmentalized bureaucrats simply could not tolerate a maverick investigator whose only motivation was protecting the country from terrorism. He was forced out of the FBI in the late summer of 2001.

In the ultimate tragic irony, O'Neill was killed in the World Trade Center a week after taking a new job as head of security -- of the World Trade Center.

Frontline does a good job of covering all the angles, including such details as the relevance of two of the hijackers who flew into the Pentagon on Flight 77. Their names were on O'Neill's short list of potential threats.

Watch for the rerun, or look at the show site.

UPDATE: Followup posts on Barbara Bodine are here (3/11/03) and here (3/25/03).
"It makes the most dangerous maneuvers seem routine" is the headline for an ad selling the
GMC Yukon XL Denali 8-seat, 320 horsepower SUV in the print edition of the October 7 New Yorker.

The headline refers to the $50,000 behemoth's tight turning radius and "serious" traction.

But it also accurately characterizes the absurd machinery of the Bush administration and its willingness to expend our national resources and reputation to secure the fuel that powers this preposterous vehicle.

The ad copy concludes, fittingly, with: "It doesn't just get you out of tight spots. It gets you into them." No kidding.
Thursday, October 03, 2002
Manhattan, September 11, 2001, as seen from
outer space.
Wednesday, October 02, 2002
The Barbra Streisand Truth Alert embiggens the heart.* Barbra, Barbra, Barbra... what are we going to do with you? At least she comes clean
here, but if she wants to be the unofficial self-proclaimed Voice of the Left in the future, we're going to demand better fact-checking. Meanwhile, all is forgiven.

*Apologies to The Simpsons.
Lay, Skilling and Bush insulate themselves before a long winter. Former Enron CFO Fastow's indictment today comes as further insulation against the real power behind the Enron fraud -- former CEOs Lay and Skilling and their political beneficiary Bush Junior.

Just as the absurd indictment of the firm of Arthur Andersen was a distraction from the real perps (and the political egg on many faces), so too will Fastow's indictment provide a convenient smokescreen for the guilty parties. After all, if your neighbor builds an illegal house in your backyard, does it make more sense to go after the architect (Fastow), the accountant (Andersen), or the bad neighbor (the naughty CEOs)?

Read about it in The Washington Post

Incidentally, there was a typo in the above article that I'm sure will be corrected soon, but it made me laugh so I have to paste it here:
"Fastow and his ho-conspirators systematically and thoroughly corrupted the business of one of the largest corporations in the world," [Deputy Attorney General] Thompson said.
Ho-conspirators [sic] indeed!

We may have to add Fastow's name to Enronistan.
The lies and politically convenient errors make headlines above the fold, and the inevitable follow-up stories and retractions skulk in the back of the news days later.

The 35 pounds of weapons-grade uranium found in Turkey -- and speculated to be destined for Iraq -- turn out to be not 35 pounds, but 5 ounces, and not uranium, but a harmless mixture of
zinc, iron, zirconium and manganese, according to The Guardian.
Tuesday, October 01, 2002
Welcome to
MIT OpenCourseWare, the free education we talked about here.

Now you can get the philosophy education that everyone tried to talk to you out of. Go ahead, brush up on your quantum mechanics -- it's free! MIT is amazing!
Art you're not supposed to see. Apparently the only acceptable public reaction to the events of 9/11/01 is one of patriotic xenophobic petrophilic fervor. Otherwise, these
artworks would still be visible to the public.

Sadly, they have been banished from view. Whether you appreciate such artworks or not, isn't free expression a large part of the reason for the USA's existence in the first place?

Greatest Hits · Alternatives to First Command Financial Planning · First Command, last resort, Part 3 · Part 2 · Part 1 · Stealing $50K from a widow: Wells Real Estate · Leo Wells, REITs and divine wealth · Sex-crazed Red State teenagers · What I hate: a manifesto · Spawn of Darleen Druyun · All-American high school sex party · Why is Ken Lay smiling? · Poppy's Enron birthday party · The Saudi money laundry and the president's uncle · The sentence of Enron's John Forney · The holiness of Neil Bush's marriage · The Silence of Cheney: a poem · South Park Christians · Capitalist against Bush: Warren Buffett · Fastow childen vs. Enron children · Give your prescription money to your old boss · Neil Bush, hard-working matchmaker · Republicans against fetuses and pregnant women · Emboldened Ken Lay · Faith-based jails · Please die for me so I can skip your funeral · A brief illustrated history of the Republican Party · Nancy Victory · Soldiers become accountants · Beware the Merrill Lynch mob · Darleen Druyun's $5.7 billion surprise · First responder funding · Hoovering the country · First Command fifty percent load · Ken Lay and the Atkins diet · Halliburton WMD · Leave no CEO behind · August in Crawford · Elaine Pagels · Profitable slave labor at Halliburton · Tom Hanks + Mujahideen · Sharon & Neilsie Bush · One weekend a month, or eternity · Is the US pumping Iraqi oil to Kuwait? · Cheney's war · Seth Glickenhaus: Capitalist against Bush · Martha's blow job · Mark Belnick: Tyco Catholic nut · Cheney's deferred Halliburton compensation · Jeb sucks sugar cane · Poindexter & LifeLog · American Family Association panic · Riley Bechtel and the crony economy · The Book of Sharon (Bush) · The Art of Enron · Plunder convention · Waiting in Kuwait: Jay Garner · What's an Army private worth? · Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad · Sneaky bastards at Halliburton · Golf course and barbecue military strategy · Enron at large · Recent astroturf · Cracker Chic 2 · No business like war business · Big Brother · Martha Stewart vs. Thomas White · Roger Kimball, disappointed Republican poetry fan · Cheney, Lay, Afghanistan · Terry Lynn Barton, crimes of burning · Feasting at the Cheney trough · Who would Jesus indict? · Return of the Carlyle Group · Duct tape is for little people · GOP and bad medicine · Sears Tower vs Mt Rushmore · Scared Christians · Crooked playing field · John O'Neill: The man who knew · Back to the top

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