View from the Loft 

war and peace, politics, books, rants, the passing parade ...


Friday, June 13, 2003

Bush's New Election Slogan?

You just HAVE to go and read these! Daily Kos asked readers to come up with some slogans for Bush's campaign. They're hilarious! I won't give any away--just go and read 'em yourself. Scroll down to "Bush needs a re-election slogan," and then click on "Comments." The laugh will do you good!

"Mission Accomplished"?

That's what the banner said when Bush greeted the cheering troops aboard the Lincoln. Looks like that was a bit premature ...

From the BBC:
American soldiers have been involved in heavy fighting against Saddam Hussein loyalists, with up to 100 Iraqis killed, according to US military officials.

They say 27 Iraqis were killed after an American tank was fired on with rocket-propelled grenades in Balad, 60km (35 miles) north-east of Baghdad.

And at least 70 Iraqis have been killed during a prolonged assault on what the US calls a "terrorist" camp 150 km (90 miles) north-west of the capital, according to a US army spokesman quoted by Reuters news agency

We're talking war here. The assault utilized armored vehicles and helicopter gunships.

The ongoing attacks on U.S. troops are being blamed on Ba'athists and Saddam loyalists, and no doubt many of them are. But are they the only ones in Iraq who want us out of there? I don't think so. So far, commanders are saying that there's no nationally coordinated resistance movement, but rather local groups that have organized. I suppose that's some small comfort.

In any case, the war continues, and just the other day, Donald Rumsfeld told us that he didn't see an end to it any time soon.

This is what we anti-war folks told them would happen, what we feared would happen. Our troops are still at risk; there have been over 100 attacks in the past several weeks. Iraqi civilians also continue to die, caught in the crossfire, victims of cluster bomblets left undetonated, killed at checkpoints.

I fear what will happen in the next few months. Will the war once again escalate? What about the Shia? Will civil war break out before autumn, as some bloggers are predicting? I don't know, but I'm sickened and worried.

As Many as 10,000 Civilian Iraqi Deaths

For a military offensive that was touted as being "precise" and concerned with keeping Iraqi deaths to a minimum, the U.S. invasion of Iraq has resulted in "a hell of a lot" of civilian deaths.

Iraq Body Count estimates that 5,000 to 7,000 deaths have been tallied so far, but that a total of 10,000 may eventually come to light as more reports come in and are scrutinized.

Its latest report compares those figures with 14 other counts, most of them taken in Iraq, which, it says, bear out its findings.

Researchers from several groups have visited hospitals and mortuaries in Iraq and interviewed relatives of the dead; some are conducting surveys in the main cities.

Three completed studies suggest that between 1,700 and 2,356 civilians died in the battle for Baghdad alone

So much for "surgical strikes," "precision bombs," and "clean" wars.

Howard Dean for President!

Okay, I'm coming out of the closet here and letting you all know--Jim and I are supporting Howard Dean for the Democratic presidential candidate.

No, he is not perfect. But I like his direct style, his attitude, his health care plan, the fact that he did not support the Iraq war, his pro-gay-rights and pro-choice stands, and the excitement that his campaign is generating. He's using the Internet to great advantage, organizing a true grassroots effort, and he's pulling in people who haven't been interested enough to vote in years. And he flies in the face of the DLC, which is responsible for the "Bush lite" nonsense we've seen way too much of. He'll formally declare his candidacy on June 23.

He needs money, preferably by June 30, one of the filing dates for contributions. I hope you'll visit his website and learn about his stands on the issues, and about the house parties, Meetups, and other campaign activities. And, if you like what you see, and if it's possible, donate to the cause. You might also find the campaign weblog interesting.

Hype on Al-Qaeda?

I have to admit to a certain amount of skepticism when I saw the headline: "U.S. Sees Likely Al Qaeda WMD Attack Within 2 Years." It sounded like just the sort of thing the Bushies would love, their reasoning being that if such an attack is "likely," why then the sound thing for the voters of America to do is to stay with the current President. After all, we wouldn't want to change captains in the middle of such treacherous waters, would we?

And sure enough, questions are already being raised over the U.S. report submitted to the UN Security Council. The report said, “We judge that there is a high probability that Al Qaeda will attempt an attack using a CBRN weapon within the next two years." But the CIA's own report says that the ability of Al Qaeda to use those weapons is "primitive to crude" at best and that most attacks would be small.

Moreover, no one seems to know quite where that "two years" time frame comes from.

It all sounds just a little too convenient for the Bushies, who prefer to rule through instilling fear into the populace. These people have got to go!

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Take Action!

Thank Rep. Waxman!

Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) sent a letter on June 10 to Condoleezza Rice asking, as he has since March 17, "Why did President Bush cite forged evidence about Iraq's nuclear capabilities in his State of the Union address?" He asks Condi to explain the inconsistencies and contradictory assertions she's made and seeks clarification. It's a great letter, and it sticks to one very concrete, very obvious bit of manufactured evidence.

Please thank Rep. Waxman by e-mailing, calling, or writing his office. Let him know you're behind his efforts to extract the truth about the non-existent WMDs! And while you're at it, get in touch with your elected officials and ask them to demand an OPEN hearing on the skewed intelligence the Bush administration used to justify the war against Iraq.

Participate in Choosing a Democratic Presidential Nominee

MoveOn has started an exciting way for us all to be involved in the process of electing a president we can live with. From their website:

We would like to start a candidate engagement process in which:

1. MoveOn members hear from candidates through email and our website.
2. We engage the campaigns on issues through an online interview.
3. MoveOn members vote online in a "MoveOn Primary"
4. If a candidate wins a majority in the primary, we endorse him or her.

For more details, and to sign up with this effort, go here. You'll even have a chance to submit a question to the candidate interview!

Remixed War Propaganda

A while back I urged you to visit a site that featured "subverted propaganda" posters, as the originator of these posters, Micah Ian Wright, calls them. You can download any of these, print them out, and slap them up. Or you can buy the book, which features commentary by Howard Zinn and by the Center for Constitutional Rights and an introduction by Kurt Vonnegut.

I hope you'll print out some of these and put 'em up where people will notice them: on your door, your fridge, around town, whatever. I'd like to buy the book and read what the Center for Constitutional Rights has to say.

Plan Ahead: Pro-Choice March in 2004

On April 25, 2004, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Feminist Majority and the National Organization for Women (NOW) and other reproductive rights organizations will sponsor a massive march in Washington, D.C.

The idea for the march came mainly from local activist groups, who asked why this wasn't being organized at such a crucial time for women's reproductive rights.

My daughter, her best friend, and I made the trip to D.C. the last time a big rally was held. It's an amazing experience to be surrounded by women and men of all ages, races, sexual orientations, styles, and religions, all calling for the preservation of a woman's right to make her own choices about her own body. It's energizing and encouraging, and it makes every participant understand that she or he is not alone, not a minority, but part of a huge number of reasonable, compassionate people who don't think that criminalizing abortion is in a woman's best interest.

Think about it. Start planning now.

Donald Rumsfeld, Poet

Yes, there's a whole book of Rumsfeld's "poetry" just out. Order it here; read about it here. Comic relief!

Secret Spraying of Poppies by U.S. in Afghanistan?

Is the United States spraying Afghanistan's poppy fields with herbicides? Afghan farmers are convinced of it. They say that American helicopters, lights off, flew low over fields two months ago in an attempt to wipe out the poppy crop. Their once-healthy plants, they say, dried up overnight.

Western officials have dismissed the charges. While the U.S. has been involved in such anti-drug sprayings in South America, those operations have been carried out in agreement with governments there. Such is not the case in Afghanistan, so these allegations, if true, would be serious. It would mean that the U.S. has unilaterally attempted to kill the poppies without any input from representatives of the population.

And it could mean that the U.S. is responsible for yet more civilian deaths in Afghanistan. The Afghan Islamic Press has quoted an Afghan farmer as saying that five people, including four children, have been killed by spraying. A few days after seeing low-flying aircraft, the farmer says there was "a very pungent odor." A few days later, his poppy plants were dying, and he claims that the five people in question died after eating fruit. The news agency said it had received other reports of such spraying.

If indeed there has been spraying, it has been ineffective; it's been a good year for poppies. Last year Afghanistan resumed its position as number one poppy grower in the world. It's estimated that 90% of the heroin that reaches Britain comes from Afghanistan. In a country as devastated physically and economically as Afghanistan, it's no surprise that farmers do what they feel they must to feed their families. Heroin traffic is indeed a serious problem, but is the solution really to spray herbicide on a population?

In Latin American, "some of the greatest inroads in eliminating poppy plots have been made not through aerial spraying but from programs that pay farmers to eradicate the crop and switch to legitimate ones," according to the New York Times. But the problem is that poppies are easier to grow--they require less water and so are adaptable to arid land--and they bring far more money than other crops. Overall, a serious effort to make Afghanistan more economically viable is the only real solution to the problem.

Gay Marriage Legalized in Ontario

Okay, I realize that this is a little off-topic for an anti-war blog, but I couldn't help myself.

The highest court in Ontario has ruled that the ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. Within hours, the couple who had brought the lawsuit, Michael Stark and Michael Leshner, married each other. Other couples immediately began lining up for marriage licenses in Toronto.

A parliamentary committee in Canada has been looking at the issue of gay marriage since the government's appeal of an earlier decision by a lower court that ended in yesterday's overturning of the ban. It held meetings across the country. The government can decide to appeal the decision at the federal level. A similar decision on a government appeal must be made in the case of British Columbia. A Quebec court has also found the federal definition of marriage to be unconstitutional.

Egale, Canada's national gay rights organization, has urged the government not to appeal:

Four Courts and ten judges in a row have unanimously ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to celebrate their love and their lives on equal terms." said Egale president Lisa Lachance. "The House of Commons Justice Committee and the Justice Minister have spent more than enough time debating the issue while couples across Canada have continued to be denied equality. This ruling now affirms that our right to equal marriage can no longer be put on hold while we wait for Parliament to act.

As you may imagine, not everyone is happy (or cooperative) about this. In Canada, the federal government defines marriage, while municipalities issue licenses and the province registers marriage. Ontario Premier Ernie Eves said Ontario will continue to refuse to register same-sex marriages until the federal government passes new legislation. Canadian Justice Minister Martin Cauchon is being pressured by members of his own party to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein said he would block any attempt to impose gay marriage in his province and would use the "notwithstanding clause," something that has been used only about a dozen times in the history of the Canadian Constitution, and which would mean that Alberta does not recognize homosexual marriages performed in other provinces.

Sounding like our own Rick Santorum, liberal MP Pat O'Brien said, "If you're going to throw open the definition of marriage so you destroy it in essence, how do you know you can ever draw the line any place? If I want two or three wives and want that considered legal marriage, who are you to tell me I can't do that?" The right wingnuts are having a fit--check out the hysteria of Concerned Women of America.

Those wacky Canadians! People actually concerned with equal rights for all! People crazy enough to merely give fines for the possession of marijuana! When are they going to get with it and join the Orwellian universe the current U.S. administration is busily putting in place?

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

TRN vs. Freedom of Speech

Talk Radio Network, on behalf of Michael Weiner (Michael Savage's real name), has filed suit against three small websites: Take Back the Media, Michael Savage Sucks, and Savage Stupidity. The lawsuit asks for $500,000 in damages due to lost advertising and business opportunities because of the websites' encouragement of boycotts of his sponsors on both the radio and TV versions of Savage's show. The suit alleges that the sites have made "fraudulent and malicious" statements about Savage, and, in a separate action, that Michael SavageSucks.com and Savage Stupidity.com is a trademark infringement. (How damning of his fans is it that Savage finds Michael Savage.com and Savage Stupidity.com close enough to be confusing?)

Savage made threats against his opponents when organizations like the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), NOW, and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) protested MSNBC's decision to give Savage a weekly show. Here's a quote from his Feb. 27, 2003, radio show:

You rats! You stinking rats who hide in the sewers! You think you can go after my income? You think you can kill my advertisers? You think I'm Dr. Laura? You think I'm gonna roll over like a pussy? You're wrong. I'm going to find out where you get your money from. You live by handouts, all of you. You live off grants, all of you. You're a bunch of beggars, but you don't know how lucky you are. If you continue this, we're going to go after your funding sources. And we will do everything we can within the legal realm to cut off that funding! We are also going to go to the U.S. Justice Department under John Ashcroft! What you are doing is illegal! You think it's 1965 and I'm South Africa? I've got news for you: it's not 1965 and it ain't South Africa! I'll cut your funding off, and if you break the law any further, I'll put you in jail!

You really must read the commentary on Take Back the Media. Here are a few excerpts:

[The lawsuit is] about a large corporation attempting to take away the free speech of regular Americans with a point of view. It's about people with deep pockets using money and influence to run roughshod over people who don't agree with them.

It's about a radio blowhard with pitifully thin skin, whose radio show is failing miserably, and whose TV show can't even finance itself through national advertising due to its toxic, stunted, hateful, pathetic content, taking out his failure on web sites who speak truth to power. It's about boosting ratings, and providing talking points, and throwing red meat to a tiny audience who can't raise themselves out of bed in the morning unless they have a target for their festering hate.

. . . . .
It's about rendering the 'power of the purse' - the right to boycott products, services and media outlets you disagree with - a thing of the past. By equating criticism of hate speech with denying him a right to make a living, Weiner wants to take your right to protest via boycott away from you.
. . . . .
This lawsuit may seem like relatively small potatoes in the scheme of things, but it's not. This should send chills through anyone who values the right to speak their mind. Because no matter what the stated purposes are here, that is what they're truly after - they're seeking legal license to shut you up if they don't like what you're saying.

If you can spare the money, please go here to make a donation to the legal fund, which you can do through Paypal.

For more on Michael Savage, his opponents, and the lawsuit, visit Savage Lies, a joint effort of my daughter and me.

Governor George W. Bush vs. President George W. Bush: watch the debate on such matters as nation-building, the arrogance of trying to make other countries do as we do, and more!

Monday, June 09, 2003

Perusing Body and Soul today, I ran across this and this. Have a good laugh at Rummy's expense--on two of my favorite topics, food and sex.

We Won One!

Via Jeremy Puma of Frog n' Blog comes news that the bill I wrote about last week that would have allowed comp time in lieu of overtime pay is, for the time being, dead in the water. House Republicans canceled the vote on the bill rather than lose--they just didn't have the votes they needed. Yayyy!

A busy weekend spent mostly outdoors. For those who have never transplanted leeks, I can tell you authoritatively that it's like transplanting blades of grass and takes hours of backbreaking work. Okay, not "backbreaking," but muscles I didn't know I had are shrieking today. Still, it will all be worth it at harvest time. I'll chop and freeze or dry the leeks so that we'll have a whole winter's worth of leek and potato soup.

We also planted some more potatoes--the first we planted are looking good--and transplanted some of the herbs that really weren't doing so well indoors under the plant lights. I got some herb seeds into the ground, too, and did a lot of weeding. The grass is mowed, the weeds whacked. I've already been harvesting some of the herbs as well as two rogue red leaf lettuces that sprang up from last year's planting of mesclun. The herbs go into the food dryer, the lettuce into the salad bowl. I have a second planting of coriander and dill to take care of today.

The corn is up, as are the black beans, radishes, peas, and various salad greens. This year's garden got in late due to the weather, which was cool and wet. Seemed like every time we had a chance to plant, the garden was so wet that James didn't dare chance the tractor out there. Otherwise, we'd be eating some home-grown spinach by now. As it is, I haven't even got a radish large enough to pull. Well, all in due time. If there's one thing gardening teaches, it's delayed gratification. We're pretty discouraged about our tomatoes. It seems the seed starter we planted them in wasn't of the quality we're used to, and germination and rooting were poor this year. We may actually have to buy tomato plants for the first time ever! A blow to our gardener egos.

The few moments I had yesterday to blog came at a time when Blogger was totally uncooperative. I did try. Later in the day we had some very unstable weather here; tornadoes were spotted not too far from here. Didn't seem worth trying the computer then. We lost one motherboard to a lightning strike the first year we lived here, and even with a surge protector we tend to be cautious about computer use when bad weather strikes.

Working outdoors is a great antidote to the despair that the world and political situations can bring. I highly recommend it! I really believe that if everyone could learn to appreciate nature and growing things, it would be a far better, more peaceful world. There's nothing like having a relationship with the earth itself for making one realize the interconnectedness of all life. Maybe if Dubya dug around in the dirt while he was out at his ranch even he could learn some respect for life.

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