Thursday, January 29, 2004

Weapons of Mass Abstraction
Anyone can Google "WMD Quotes" and come up with hundreds of statements made before the war trumpeting not only the amount and danger of Iraq's WMD, but also their exact location......well, maybe not according to David Kay's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee:

"WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The former top U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq on Wednesday blamed intelligence failures for the apparently incorrect conclusion that Saddam Hussein possessed large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction before the U.S.-led invasion.

David Kay told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he believed a "fundamental analysis of how we got here" is needed to ensure the best possible intelligence in the future.

Kay, who resigned last week as leader of the Iraq Survey Group searching for banned weapons, appeared before the Armed Services Committee after a closed-door session Wednesday morning with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Kay told the senators that the intelligence he had seen before the war indicated Saddam had banned weapons and that France and Germany -- countries that had opposed the war -- had stated that the Iraqi dictator possessed such weapons.

"It turns out we were all wrong, and that is most disturbing," Kay said.

Kay said that while it was "theoretically possible" large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons could be found in Iraq, the prospect was "highly unlikely."


"Asked if there should be an independent investigation, Kay said that "it's important to acknowledge failure."

"I must say my personal view -- and it's purely personal -- is that in this case, it will -- you will finally determine that it is going to take an outside inquiry both to do it and to give yourself and the American people the confidence that you have done it," Kay said."


"But Kay, who supported the war, said the Iraq Survey Group's conclusions did nothing to undercut his belief that Saddam needed to be removed from power.

He said Iraq was in violation of U.N. Resolution 1441, which mandated Saddam to disclose and destroy prohibited weapons.

He said inspectors have found hundreds of cases of Iraqi officials concealing from U.N. weapons inspectors evidence that placed Iraq in clear violation of the world body's resolutions.

He added that Iraq had become totally corrupt after 1998, when U.N. inspections ceased, improving the likelihood that banned weapons could wind up in the wrong hands.

During the debate over whether to invade Iraq, the Bush administration argued repeatedly that Iraq was violating U.N. resolutions requiring its disarmament after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The administration also dismissed findings of U.N. weapons inspectors, who returned shortly before the war and reported finding no banned weapons."

Again, the case has been made for the war based on WMD posing an actual threat to us.......this clearly isn't the case. What will happen now in Iraq, with many a cleric thinking of times past, when their proud nation chased the British occupiers out?

"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Whispers of "revolution" are growing louder in Baghdad this month at teahouses, public protests and tribal meetings as Iraqis point to the past as an omen for the future.

Iraqis remember 1920 as one of the most glorious moments in modern history, one followed by nearly eight decades of tumult. The bloody rebellion against British rule that year is memorialized in schoolbooks, monuments and mass-produced tapestries that hang in living rooms.

Now, many say there's an uncanny similarity with today: unpopular foreign occupiers, unelected governing bodies and unhappy residents eager for self-determination. The result could be another bloody uprising.

"We are now under occupation, and the best treatment for a wound is sometimes fire," said Najah al Najafi, a Shiite cleric who joined thousands of marchers at a recent demonstration where construction workers, tribal leaders and religious scholars spoke of 1920.

The rebellion against the British marked the first time that Sunni and Shiite Muslims worked in solidarity, drawing power from tribesmen and city dwellers alike. Though Shiites, Sunnis and ethnic minorities are rivals in the new Iraq, many residents said the recent call for elections could draw disparate groups together. A smattering of Sunnis joined massive Shiite protests last week, demanding that U.S. administrators grant the wishes of the highest Shiite cleric for general elections.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al Husseini al Sistani has been unbending in his demand for direct elections instead of U.S. plans to select a new government through caucuses. At the request of L. Paul Bremer, the American envoy to Iraq, and several members of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council, the United Nations is sending a team to Iraq to study the feasibility of holding elections in time for the transition of power this summer."


"Elderly tribal leaders recently discussed revolution amid plumes of incense smoke and the gurgle of tobacco-filled water pipes. Many men on the 50-member Independent Iraqi Tribes council proudly claimed ancestors who rose against the British in 1920. They likewise would join a revolt if Sistani and other clerics gave the word, they said."


"To many Iraqis, today's U.S. occupation reads like an old play with modern characters: America as the new Britain, grenade-lobbing insurgents as the new opposition, and Ahmad Chalabi and other former exiles on the Governing Council as the new kings.

"We've sacrificed many martyrs and we would do it again," said Sheik Khamis al Suhail, the secretary of the tribal council. "In 1920, we faced a struggle between Muslims and non-Muslims in Iraq. We are living under basically the same conditions now, and revolution is certainly possible."

Iraqi Shiites, who make up 60 percent of the country's population of 26 million, look to Sistani for leadership.

"If Sistani called for revolution, I would sacrifice my life for the good of my country," said Hamdiya al Niemi, a 27-year-old street vendor whose father raised her on stories of the 1920 uprising. "My father was so proud talking about that time, how we kicked out the British and how we should never allow foreigners to rule our land."


"Yaser al Hamdani, a 28-year-old tribe member whose great-uncle fought in the revolution, said he'd give up his job in the steaming bakery for a rebellion.

"Of course I would join," Hamdani said. "There would be bloodshed along the way, but sacrifice is important for success."

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Daily Show
Now why is it that the most insightful comments on modern events come from a comedy show? Jon Stewart and his great cast of writers have not jumped the shark yet....but of course when you have bizarre events handed to you on a silver platter (break-dancers in front of the pope??), it's hard not to be funny! I'm going to try to make it up to New York to be in the audience as it gets closer to election time...that should be a blast!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

SOTU Thoughts...
Very odd speech at times, almost like random thoughts strung together.....
-So we should be concerned enough about steroid use in atheletes to include it in the SOTU speech?? Does Governor Arnold know about his buddy's thoughts on steroids? Steroids got more air time than health care.....
-How's that 9/11 report coming? That should be a huge issue, but it's not.....
-Sanctity of marriage?? Again, should discussions of marriage be in a SOTU speech?? Is this man so afraid of gay marriages that he would consider an Amendment to the Constitution? And what does Dick Cheney's daughter think of that??
-On the abstinence thing, listen, I attended Catholic grade and high schools where the 10 Commandments are everywhere and abstinence is the rule of the day, and I can tell you there is little difference in the sexual behavior of teens who attend religious schools and those that attend public schools......only we had matching clothes. You've got to teach the kids about birth control both from a health issue and an unwanted kids issue.....
-Osama, Osama...wherefore art thou, Osama?
-And the WMD's that were so prevalent in last year's SOTU?

"Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations."

Thanks to Billmon, here are the past quotes:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."
Dick Cheney
Speech to VFW National Convention
August 26, 2002

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons."
George W. Bush
Speech to UN General Assembly
September 12, 2002

"If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world."
Ari Fleischer
Press Briefing
December 2, 2002

"We know for a fact that there are weapons there."
Ari Fleischer
Press Briefing
January 9, 2003

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."
George W. Bush
State of the Union Address
January 28, 2003

"We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more."
Colin Powell
Remarks to UN Security Council
February 5, 2003

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."
George W. Bush
Radio Address
February 8, 2003

"If Iraq had disarmed itself, gotten rid of its weapons of mass destruction over the past 12 years, or over the last several months since (UN Resolution) 1441 was enacted, we would not be facing the crisis that we now have before us . . . But the suggestion that we are doing this because we want to go to every country in the Middle East and rearrange all of its pieces is not correct."
Colin Powell
Interview with Radio France International
February 28, 2003

"So has the strategic decision been made to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction by the leadership in Baghdad? . . . I think our judgment has to be clearly not."
Colin Powell
Remarks to UN Security Council
March 7, 2003

"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."
George W. Bush
Address to the Nation
March 17, 2003

"Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly . . . all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes."
Ari Fleisher
Press Briefing
March 21, 2003

"There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. And . . . as this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them."
Gen. Tommy Franks
Press Conference
March 22, 2003

"I have no doubt we're going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction."
Defense Policy Board member Kenneth Adelman
Washington Post, p. A27
March 23, 2003

"One of our top objectives is to find and destroy the WMD. There are a number of sites."
Pentagon Spokeswoman Victoria Clark
Press Briefing
March 22, 2003

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
Donald Rumsfeld
ABC Interview
March 30, 2003

"Obviously the administration intends to publicize all the weapons of mass destruction U.S. forces find -- and there will be plenty."
Neocon scholar Robert Kagan
Washington Post op-ed
April 9, 2003

"But make no mistake -- as I said earlier -- we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about. And we have high confidence it will be found."
Ari Fleischer
Press Briefing
April 10, 2003

"We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them."
George W. Bush
NBC Interview
April 24, 2003

"There are people who in large measure have information that we need . . . so that we can track down the weapons of mass destruction in that country."
Donald Rumsfeld
Press Briefing
April 25, 2003

"We'll find them. It'll be a matter of time to do so."
George W. Bush
Remarks to Reporters
May 3, 2003

"I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We're just getting it just now."
Colin Powell
Remarks to Reporters
May 4, 2003

"We never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country."
Donald Rumsfeld
Fox News Interview
May 4, 2003

"I'm not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein -- because he had a weapons program."
George W. Bush
Remarks to Reporters
May 6, 2003

"U.S. officials never expected that "we were going to open garages and find" weapons of mass destruction."
Condoleeza Rice
Reuters Interview
May 12, 2003

"I just don't know whether it was all destroyed years ago -- I mean, there's no question that there were chemical weapons years ago -- whether they were destroyed right before the war, (or) whether they're still hidden."
Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, Commander 101st Airborne
Press Briefing
May 13, 2003

"Before the war, there's no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical. I expected them to be found. I still expect them to be found."
Gen. Michael Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps
Interview with Reporters
May 21, 2003

"Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we're interrogating, I'm confident that we're going to find weapons of mass destruction."
Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
NBC Today Show interview
May 26, 2003

"They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer."
Donald Rumsfeld
Remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations
May 27, 2003

"For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."
Paul Wolfowitz
Vanity Fair interview
May 28, 2003

"It was a surprise to me then — it remains a surprise to me now — that we have not uncovered weapons, as you say, in some of the forward dispersal sites. Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there."
Lt. Gen. James Conway, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force
Press Interview
May 30, 2003

Are the citizens of Iraq better off without Saddam? No doubt, yes they are. Are we any safer now that he's gone? Only time will tell, since the way the invasion was handled might result in a huge "blowback" event for us....

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

State of the Union...Unplugged
For an unvarnished State of the Union, check out The Real State of the Union by Robert L. Borosage:

"On January 20, the president will present his State of the Union address. This speech is a form of presidential performance art, designed to dress up current realities and package new initiatives in bright phrases. But before we fall for the patter, it would be a good idea to take a look under the wrapping. This administration is simply failing to meet the challenges facing this country.

Over the past three years, America has experienced a stunning reversal of fortune. We have gone from peace and prosperity to war, recession and a jobless recovery. We were hit by the worst terrorist attack on US soil in history. We suffered the most costly stock market bust ever. The worst corporate scandals in a century. The most extreme inequality since the Gilded Age. We have gone from record budget surpluses to record deficits. We struggle with the worst state and local fiscal crisis in fifty years. We face unsustainable and record trade deficits and are the world's largest debtor, even as the dollar sinks in value. Climate change poses a real and present danger to our security and our economy.

America's families are paying the price. Unemployment is up and wages are down. Health care is broken. Millions have had their retirement dreams shattered. Children are facing larger classes, overcrowded schools, cuts in vital preschool and after-school programs. College is getting priced out of reach for more deserving young people.

The president claims that this is not his fault, that he is simply a hapless victim of events. In his State of the Union address, he will claim that his policies have met the challenges and put us back on the right track, and that we should stay the course.

But reality confounds the rhetoric. In the major challenges facing the country and the concerns worrying Americans, the president's policies are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem."


"JOBS: Jobs are still scarce and increasingly insecure. The few that are being created too often have lower pay and the benefits than the ones that have been lost. Despite the much-advertised economic recovery, Bush will have the worst jobs record of any president since the Great Depression. We're hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs, and now high tech and service jobs are headed overseas too.

Bush claims that his tax cuts are "working." This year, he'll offer up a new round, and ask that we make the old ones permanent. But since his tax cuts have passed, we've witnessed s the worst job performance for a recovery on record. His tax cuts don't require companies or the wealthy to invest here. With the dollar falling, and companies rushing to move jobs abroad, Bush's tax cuts only fuel the exodus. Bush's economic policies are producing more jobs in Shanghai than in Saginaw.

WAGES: Hourly wages are down since Bush came to office, and incomes aren't keeping up with costs. Homelessness is up among full time workers, and more working people are in poverty. But Bush not only opposes any increase in the minimum wage, he pushed regulations that will strip millions of workers of vital overtime pay, despite the opposition of both the House and the Senate. He continues an unrelenting war on unions, weakening the vital champion of higher wages and better benefits for workers.

HEALTH CARE: Health care costs are soaring, with businesses forcing workers to pick up more of the tab or dropping coverage altogether. 43.6 million Americans now have no health care insurance, up 3.4 million on Mr. Bush's watch. Americans now pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world.

President Bush will offer once more a package of tax credits to aid Americans who don't have health insurance. Yet his package will do nothing about the soaring costs that make health insurance unaffordable. Worse, they will encourage businesses to discontinue employee health plans. Not only has the president refused to do anything to bring the costs of HMOs and insurance companies under control, his prescription drug bill actually prohibits Medicare from negotiating a better price for seniors. To add insult to injury, the bill outlaws buying cheaper drugs from Canada. He turned a $400 billion benefit for the elderly into a $400 billion subsidy to the drug companies.

SCHOOLS: The largest number of children ever entered our public schools this fall. But schools across the country are being forced to cut back, laying off teachers, doubling up classes, putting off needed construction and repair projects. Over one of every three public schools now use trailers as classrooms.

President Bush will tout his education reforms. But his reforms don't deal with the growing number of students flooding the schools or with the need for preschool, for after school programs, for quality teachers. He broke his promise on funding his school reforms. Worse, with the states facing the worst fiscal crisis in fifty years, he fought against aid for the states targeted to protect schools from debilitating cuts. Then he froze funding for domestic school construction in the federal budget, while allocating millions to build schools in Iraq.

COLLEGE COSTS: College tuitions are going up at nearly 15% a year. Federal grants for deserving students have not kept up. The maximum Pell grant now covers 39 percent of public school tuition, down from 84% in 1975-76. Students now graduate with debt burdens 35% higher than those of students graduating a decade ago. And more and more simply are priced out of four year colleges altogether."


"RETIREMENT SECURITY: Many older workers saw their retirement dreams shattered when the stock market collapsed. Only one in five workers in the private sector has a guaranteed pension at work. And the Enron scandals showed how corporate executives were abusing worker savings accounts.

Bush will launch his "ownership society," recycling his proposals to set up individual accounts that will allow tax free savings of several thousand dollars. But only the wealthiest 5% of Americans have the excess income to save the maximum in the tax free accounts we now have. Worse, Bush wants to create private accounts in Social Security to mask deep cuts in guaranteed benefits. And his post Enron pension reform legislation will make it easier for corporations to provide pensions for the few on the top floor and do nothing for the workers on the shop floor.

SAFE FOOD: Mothers sensibly worry about what their children are eating, as more of our food is imported and less of it is inspected. Food borne diseases have caused some 228 million illnesses and over 15,000 deaths since Bush took office. And now there's a Mad Cow threat.

Bush is likely to promise some increased funding for federal inspection programs. But he and the Republican Congress blocked legislation to impose stronger penalties for food safety violations, and opposed measures that would have made it easier to trace the source of contaminated meat.

SAFE WORKPLACES: Over 4.7 million workers were injured on the job last year. Violation of workplace safety laws has grown as companies seek to cut costs. Federal inspectors are unable to keep up.

Bush isn't likely to mention these harsh realities, nor that his budget for the Office of Safety and Health Administration will afford inspection of companies once every 63 years

CLEAN AIR AND CLEAN WATER: Our air and water supplies are being flooded with harmful pollutants. Last year, over 7 million Americans became sick from drinking contaminated tap water, and at any given time, about one quarter of the nation's largest power plants and water treatment facilities are in serious violation of pollution standards.

Bush is likely to tout his commitment to the environment, citing his "improvements" environmental legislation, but the reality is he sold out our environment to big business. He pushed for loopholes in environmental regulations that permit the nations oldest and dirtiest power plants from installing modern pollution controls when they upgrade and expand their facilities. He pushed polices that relaxed clean water protections for millions of acres of wetlands and waterways, and eliminated corporate liability for "factory farm" pollution. Under the guise of protecting against forest fires, Bush pushed the Healthy Forest Initiative, which is essentially a give-away to the timber industry.

PERSONAL DEBT: Personal debt is at record heights, as are personal bankruptcies. Interest rates are at near record lows, but credit card companies continue to impose obscene interest and penalty charges.

Again, Bush is likely to say little about this reality except to urge Americans to save, even as their incomes aren't keeping up with prices. Worse, Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress blocked efforts to provide consumers with clear warning about credit card charges, and pushed to make it easier for credit card companies to collect against families forced into bankruptcy.

Challenges to the Nation Even as he has failed Americans on basic kitchen table concerns, he has failed the nation in addressing its real security challenges. Consider:

RECORD TRADE DEFICITS AND FOREIGN DEBT: America's trade deficits are at new records, and this nation is already the world's largest debtor. Everyone from Alan Greenspan to the IMF agree the deficits cannot be sustained and are the source of global economic instability. The dollar has already started to sink. Investors like Warren Buffett warns that we are selling off our national assets at a rate that will leave our children to work much of the year paying off foreign debts.

Mr. Bush will not address this staggering threat to our prosperity in his speech nor in his policies. Instead he will celebrate more of the same trade policies that helped to get us in this hole.

RECORD BUDGET DEFICITS AND NATIONAL DEBT: America has gone from record surpluses to record deficits, with sober observers projecting deficits that will leave us $5 trillion in publicly held debt by 2006.

Mr. Bush will pledge, no doubt, to reduce the deficits over the next years, even as he calls for making his tax cuts permanent, adding new ones, and adding new spending programs. His gall is exceeded only by his irresponsibility. His tax cuts have been the major source of the deficits while failing to generate jobs. His program will do nothing to redress the long-term deficits that will make financing the retirement of the baby boomers more difficult.

GILDED AGE INEQUALITY AMID GROWING POVERTY: The wealthy few are pocketing the rewards of rising growth and productivity. For middle income families, incomes aren't keeping up with costs. And poverty is rising, during the first two years of Bush's term, 580,000 more children lived in poverty and 5% more families were homeless.

Mr. Bush may make gestures about compassion in his speech, but his polices are adding to this obscene inequality. His tax policies have lavished benefits on the few, while increasing burdens on middle income taxpayers in rising property taxes and fees. And vital programs for the poor from housing to nutrition to training and education suffer the deepest cuts in Mr. Bush's budgets."


"Mr. Bush will sound good in his State of the Union; presidents always do. His approval ratings will rise, as they always do after a dramatic address. But on jobs, wages, health care, retirement security, schools, national security and the rest the administration's policies are part of the problem, not part of the solution. It is hard to recall an administration more out of tune with the needs of the time. And that is the real state of the union."

There's more...I haven't even covered the missing WMD.....go read before 9:00 tonight!

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Comments Back on Line...
BlogSpeak has ended, but HaloScan has generously offered to cover all previous BlogSpeak users.....so, voila! Comments are back up. Speak your mind once more!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Get Yer Hot Movie Reviews Here....
Kevin Murphy of MST3K fame has been busy since his days as Tom Servo ended....he's written a fine book called "A Year at the Movies" and he has a website with a few good reviews of Kill Bill, The Matrix Reloaded and X-2.....

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Evolution and the NRA
What??? Bear with me for a few moments, and that headline will make sense.....As I was driving to work today, I was radio channel-surfing, and came across a fiery preacher, railing against evolution (or, "evil-loution," as the creationists say). He had quite the oratorial skill, mastered by many in his profession, and he was going over many of the same topics that I've heard before; how Hitler had utilized Darwin's evolutionary musings as a template for the mass slaughter of human beings, how Stalin and other totalitarian regimes also leaned on Darwin's "godless" writings to further their own repressive ways. Without getting into the evolution/creation debate right now, I'll just narrow this post down to the notion that evolution itself is responsible for the deaths of thousands. "Evolution," by definition, is a "process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations." Evolution is all about change, and so is everywhere; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve. It is also morally neutral, which is the reason many religious groups find it offensive (many don't, including the Pope). So, while many people claim that evolution has been the driving force behind genocide, you have to remember that it also has been the stimulus and unifying force behind countless advances in medicine, agriculture, conservation, chemistry, astronomy, geology and many more fields. Let's turn the tables around and point out religion's influence on genocidal events (Crusades, anyone?). Let's face it, all throughout history, mankind has always looked for reasons to wipe out their neighbors. So, to paraphrase the NRA (you were waiting for it!), "Evolution doesn't kill people, people kill people."

Sunday, January 04, 2004

The Spirit Rover has landed safe and sound on Mars, and is already sending back pictures. Incredible achievement. Now, if only NASA can solve the mystery of where the other sock goes in the dryer....

Saturday, January 03, 2004

"One Small Step...."
We are living in times of amazing scientific achievement......a tiny spacecraft has to fly millions of miles through the harsh coldness of space, hit a moving planetary target, perform intricate maneuvers in orbit, and bounce to safety within a 90-mile wide crater. And, here on Earth, our "faith-based" National Park Service is allowing creationist literature to be placed on the bookshelves of the Grand Canyon gift shops under the guise of "equal treatment". Folks, creation science is an oxymoron, is as "fair and balanced" as Fox News and has no place sitting on a bookshelf next to true science. Our children are having enough trouble as it is learning math and science in schools....keep creationist literature where it belongs; in the churches.

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