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Posted March 18, 2003

Interactive Eric

I saw on CNN HN yesterday morning one of their banners which run continuously below the newscaster. In summary, it said "...Bush administration submitted forged documents to the UN regarding Iraq..." It was quite disturbing on it's own. However, the most disturbing aspect of the whole thing was the absence of any follow-up story in the newspaper or on any of the television stations.

Are you aware of this? How do we find out the source and validity of this claim? I believe this is important.

~ Chris J.

Managing Editor Eric Garris replies:

Yes, we have run whatever stories we could find on it. The latest is that the US is blaming Italy.

Backtalk Editor Sam Koritz replies:

Of course, one shouldn't jump to conclusions and assume that the Italian government tricked the US into submitting forged documents. But, just to be on the safe side, for the time being I'll be referring to pizza as "Freedom Pie." Pass it on.

The President says we go to war. Can he override the Congress? What is the difference between a declared war or "police action"? Are they the same?

~ Dian C.

Eric Garris replies:

No, the Constitution give Congress the sole power to declare war. Presidents have gotten around this by calling wars "police actions," but this President has made no such claim. He is ready to declare war, without Congress. This is clearly a violation of the Constitution.

KM: Why are you people upposing war. the fact that the united states of america wouldnt exsist with out war. The truth is you people arn't americans you don't beleive in the you united states your all just foirign in other Americans eyes and in gods eyes. if you dont believe in america.Leave .

Eric Garris: I am very impressed that you know how to increase the font size on your email program. Now if only that liberal public school you went to had taught you something about the Constitution...

KM: The constitution is a peice of paper sighned by Americans saying we are a free country you ilererate un american.

Eric Garris: If you are going to call someone illiterate you should at least run the sentence through your spell-checker. The spelling of someone who cannot spell is illiterate. Apparently you don't believe in the Constitution. You want us to become like Iraq, telling people you disagree with to leave.

I can't wait, I am licking my lips in anticipation of the START! Can't wait to see the American Military remove the head of Saddam from the rest of his body, put the trophy on a spear and place the spear right on the table of the UN security council. You FOOLS, are true cowards – if you believed in stopping the war get on a plane and go to Baghdad – give yourself to Saddam – you are all jokesters – ahahahah haha ahahahahahahah – last laughs on you!

~ Murray Cyprus

Eric Garris replies:

Your prose is surpassed only by your maturity. Next, you can call the local smoke shop and ask them if they have Prince Albert in a can.

Regarding "Death of a Manager" by Nebojsa Malic:

Thank you for having the guts to tell the truth about Djindjich 'the Zlatouzmi' (K. Chavoshki). At the time when every single media outlet mourns (or do they?) the death of a 'reformist' and a 'democrat', the world really needed a more realistic take on the man – and you were there to provide one.

I would like to provide some info, countering the claims and beliefs widely held by the Djindjich fan club at home and abroad. If he was a reformer, I have yet to see his reforms.

Here are some arguments in favour of my point of view:

- The EBRD has recently published a report in which it ranks the Balkan countries' markets and the investment climate in each of the states. The marks range from 1 to 7; 7 being the worst (highest risk). Guess what? Serbia got a big fat 7.

It's totally understandable why there haven't been any – any! – positive changes re. The Serbian market and economy as a whole: these clowns (assembled by Djindjich, the PM) couldn't even set the stage for the reforms, let alone carry them out.

- The Heritage Foundation also did a study, one on 'economic freedoms'. According to them, Serbia got 4.25 out of 5. Of course, 5 being the worst mark – meaning economic freedoms are pretty much nonexistent because of the state's interference in and with the market. Djindjich's economic policies were based on statist (mis)concepts and a command economy, much like Miloshevich's.

The Heritage Foundation concludes that the investment climate in Serbia is unfavorable and they rank Serbia 149th (!!!) out of 156 countries. That's simply dismal. Behind us are Byelorussia, North Korea, Libya, Cuba, Angola, Burundi and Iraq. And Serbia is a European country, for God's sake! That's the epilogue of his "reforms".

- Furthermore, according to the Belgrade-based Institute for Market Research, 70% of the public sector workers cannot meet their most basic needs. Thus, they're forced to work in the 'gray economy' (which creates a whole new set of economic problems). In addition, 20% of these workers didn't get any money for the month of January and 54% of them received a less-than-average paycheck.

The absolute monthly minimum for a 4-member family would be 10.400 DIN. However, the average salary is 9.400 DIN and monthly pension is 7.200 DIN. (1 DIN = 15 cents US)

The Serbian industrial output has fallen by a catastrophic 18.4% in the past 12 months, and the public expenditure accounts for close to 50% of the budget. Let me just add that 1 million people aged 25-40 are jobless (percentage-wise, this is some 40%). Serbia's economy has never – ever – been this bad. Not even in 1993, when we had broken all the previous inflation records. I think we're in the Guinness Book of Records, but I'll have to check again.

It is true that he couldn't have possibly done it in such a short period of time (some 30 months). But he had more than enough time to START the reforms (nobody here blames him for failing to FINISH them). He hadn't done a thing to change the situation for the better. In fact, it got much worse (as you could've read just paragraphs above).

He simply took over from Miloshevich. The regime was changed, the system wasn't. Even worse, the mentality wasn't changed. Those who got in power became too used to wielding it without worrying about the responsibility that huge amount of power carried with it, and those who were ruled upon (again) started ditching their own interests in favour of whatever 'leader' they were rooting for.

The Serbian political scene is a mess. Same old faces, same old stories, same old crap, day in and day out. New parties spring up every day, and there are parties in power who, by all right, shouldn't even be anywhere near the Parliament, let alone be sitting in the Government. And the people of Serbia have no problem with it... Which is sad, because that is not democracy. Democracy cannot exist without the demos. (It wouldn't surprise me if they installed someone from Djindjich's Democratic Party as a despot-for-life and the citizens agreed wholeheartedly – the kind of people we are, my God!)

Serbia still has the Constitution that doesn't even recognize private ownership (the one drafted in 1990 by Miloshevich's law experts), and we are to believe some reforms were possible with such a constitution. Didn't Djindjich PROMISE back in December 2000 that his first 'big thing' was going to be drafting a new Constitution? Yes, he did – but then again he promised a lot of things he never delivered on.

Djindjich was a crook and his whole policy and career was a con. Everything about him was a con. First he destroyed the Democratic Party (which back then included the today's Democratic Party of Serbia), and then he took over the leadership of it from Mr. Michunovich, in 1994. In 1999, he expelled Mr. Vuksanovich just because the guy dared to disagree with Djindjich and was a threat to his leadership (Djindjich barely survived the party's election going against Mr. Vuksanovich – and I hear it was rigged in Djindjich's favour.)

Djindjich's Serbia: Doctors, engineers, other university-educated people were selling their belongings at Belgrade flea-markets, the Mafia was more powerful than ever – but the billboards were saying we were 'on the right path'.

Miloshevich is gone, Djindjich is gone and I think the whole current government and parliament have to go. Speaking of the parliament, during Djindjich's reign, the Skupshtina had more than 300 MPs (in fact – it still has), even though the Constitution says it ought to have 250 (and not a half MP more).

Djindjich was systematically undermining the institutions, sacking those opposed to his autocracy and was beginning to build a new police state. How come nobody asks why Mr. Labus (now heading a party which has taken almost half of Djindjich's voters) left Djindjich's camp if the latter (and late) was such a democrat and reformist? Not even Labus could tolerate him and his appetites. Even after his death, his cronies are being nominated for the various powerful ministry posts as we speak.

It is curious how the Police came up with the list of suspects just hours after the murder. Isn't it? I mean, they had that list ages ago and they knew who was who and who did what long before this atrocity. They never lifted a finger. They're as guilty as the assassins themselves.

The Oligarchy has now imposed martial law – contrary to the Constitution and existing laws regulating the matter (V. Koshtunitsa). Now they're consolidating their ranks and trying to revive the sham we know as the DOS. They're holding tight onto their positions of power and it is sickening to see them mourning the slain PM when we all know what they're most worried about – their anti-reformist, antidemocratic, despotic, unpopular, UNELECTED asses!

The Democratic Party of Serbia (now officially in opposition) has more support than the whole 17-party DOS, which currently rules the country. That's how bad it is back home.

Ultimately, Djindjich was brought down by the same folks who had installed him in the first place. Serbia hasn't lost anything. Let's hope that we as a nation, regardless of where we are, can steer clear of the abyss we were heading for just days ago. I hope this sad event is something Serbia can learn from, and never again allow herself to be a "prchija" of the unelected few.

It's time to send the DOS to the dustbin of history. They were given a chance to move things forward and they failed miserably.

General elections. Now!

~ M.T., Ontario, Canada

Vicious Circle

Terrorists religiously justify the 9/11 killing of innocent Americans on the innocent people killed or impoverished by the US and its policies over the past 40 years. Bush and his followers religiously justify their planned attack on Iraq, and the possible killing of thousands of innocent Iraqis, on the 9/11 attack. What a vicious circle! Other than the beard and the height is there a difference between Osama bin Laden and George Bush?

~ Cyrille LeBlanc, Wedgeport, Nova Scotia, Canada

Democracy Not War

Please stop this crazy Bush and Cheney. Lots of children have to die only for energy – and oil-companies become richer. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice are really criminals and may be soon called murders. For sure, Saddam is really bad and has to go. But this has to be decided and done by the United Nations. I think American people should work for their own income instead of killing children and woman from other countries and stealing their oil or raw materials.

Don't give up the fight for your democracy, we Germans have learned from USA in 1945 what freedom is, maybe now you can learn from us. And show in TV news the truth about the reason for the war against Iraq. Don't say it's because they have weapons of mass destruction, you have much more such weapons and dropped atomic bombs on two big cities in Japan.

~ Hubert K.

Regarding "Rome v. Washington" by Gerald Warner (The Spectator):

Gerald Warner's perceptive piece, Rome v. Washington, offers further proof that the "moral ecumenism" touted by Richard Newhouse and Charles Colson is a hollow reed and perhaps better named "Republican ecumenism". Almost entirely on the money, Warner states, "American neo-conservatives are increasingly exposed as having little in common with Rome, but they are in denial". Make that "American neo-conservatives and their Christian Zionist allies" and Warner's got a home run.

While the NCCB may share pro-life sentiments with many in the Evangelical leadership, they would seem to be suitably distanced from identification with President Bush and the Republican Party where a James Dobson or a Richard Land clearly are not. Evangelical objectivity respecting Bush and the Republicans has become so diseased that Bush can authorize the expenditure of public funds for research on selected stem-cell lines and most Evangelicals applaud. Catholics, witnessing such servility, can only experience nausea. All of this says nothing, of course, of the gulf between Catholic and Evangelical visions of what might represent sanity and fairness for American foreign policy in the Middle East.

For those Catholics that have shown an appalling lack of depth regarding just war doctrine, Michael Novak most notably, or in matters of bio-ethics, Paul Weirich in particular, I would urge either a substantial reappraisal or a good purgative. Its one thing to be prominent, quite another to be orthodox.

~ John Lowell


I'm currently enrolled in the US armed forces. I sympathize with all those who are against war. Do I personally want to go to war? No. Will I go to war? Yes. Much like others I don't want to leave my family for an undisclosed amount of time and hoping that I get to call and talk to them in the time I'm there. I have 2 small children both under the age of two, whom I don't want to leave. At the same time I will fight for what I do believe in and that's the safety, security, and freedom of my friends and family. Though I don't agree with all the decisions that are made I will keep my end of the promise that I made when I enlisted and that is to uphold and be loyal to my country and all that it stands for with my life if need be. No one wants to go to war not even our commander in chief. All those who criticize him and try to put him down for things he has done in the past, I hope they take a moment to look back at their own lives and see that no matter who you are we do make mistakes when we were younger. I hope their slates are clean before they criticize. We don't have to support the war itself but rather those of us who are making the sacrifices right now and doing what we do best and that is support our country.

~ Claudia W.

Ask Queen Elizabeth to 'Just Say No'

According to NPR, Prime Minister Tony Blair requested that Queen Elizabeth not leave the country this week so that he could request her permission to declare war against Iraq. I have read that only the Queen has the right to declare war and that she is the head of the armed forces. Perhaps Queen Elizabeth will decline to grant permission and therefore represent the majority of her subjects in preventing Great Britain's involvement in an unprovoked war of aggression.

I found on one website that there is no direct e-mail address for members of the royal family. It is possible to send questions through the following address: http://www.royalinsight.gov.uk/output/Page1793.asp.

If there is a deluge of requests for the Queen to deny Blair permission to declare war, perhaps she will take a public antiwar stand at this level.

~ Martha Iancu, Newberg, Oregon

Vacations Options

If war against Iraq will bring gas prices to 50 cents a gallon I would be the first at participating on it but that is not the case, a cowboy war that only gonna increase terrorism and insecurity among us and build hatred and decrease our options on overseas places that we can spend vacations at.

~ Ramzy Nefoussi

Regarding "What's It All About, Ari?" by Justin Raimondo:

Powell went to UN on two separate occasions with fake material. This material was low-quality fake material. The first was the decade old student thesis paper from the Internet. The second was the Iraq/Nigerian faked nuke documents.

Does anyone who reads this site or the others actually believe that our CIA/NSA etc. cannot verify documents before using them? Do you actually believe that they are not capable of producing quality fakes? Remember these were laughably fake.

If one accepts the facts concerning the faked documents, and if one accepts the assumption that our Agencies are capable of doing a better job of lying, then what is left? What is the indication of this behavior?

The indication is that out government is actively and purposefully involved in spreading the belief that they are unjustified in any war action, and that the US are the "bad guys". No, not inadvertently promoting it.

I submit that they WANT to be viewed in this way. In fact, I am SURE of it. It doesn't stop there either.

Look at the shoddy way this whole thing has been executed. Look at the shoddy way 911 was executed. Look at the obvious and predicable outcome – included are us (people who know this is all a crock of cooked up sh*t).

Stop and think – look at us. We are being created – just like world indignation over our handling of Iraq – they WANT us in this state we are in. They want us to believe they are Nazis taking away our rights. I mean – what politician in his right mind – what group of strategizers in their right mind would create DARPA and trumpet it, in a country with information access (news, alternative news) like ours? With that logo? Think! They want us to believe that our Administration is the bad guy. They want a large percentage of the population to view them as dangerous and illegitimate.

Why? What possible reason?

It all looks like a big setup to me. To me, it looks like they are creating an excuse for a coming calamity to take place here. I don't think terrorism. I think they are creating the reasoning and justification for an attack on us by a group of "concerned nations." A group of nations concerned because we are acting like Nazi Germany. Concerned because we are attacking nations and justifying our actions with lies. Concerned because we are attempting to control the world illegitimately and by any means possible. It all looks like the creation of an excuse to write in the history books. ...

~ KO

Regarding BC Stones' letter posted March 16:

Did you ever discuss Bill Clinton's military record?

~ Frank Croft

Sam Koritz replies:


Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines, who told a London audience earlier this week that she was "ashamed'' of President Bush, said Friday she's sorry for her comment. "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful,'' the singer said in a statement. "I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect.''

The Dixie Chicks, who are from Texas, are on a European tour. While in London, Maines told the audience, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.'' Angry phone calls flooded a Nashville radio station on Thursday, some calling for a boycott of the trio's music. Two Dallas stations stopped playing the group's music because of Maines' comments. SAD!

Just you dare be so bold as to think, act, live or teach differently from the vast robotic, narcotic conventional, pretentional, conformist, performist, zombie bombie so-called silent majority of the supposedly average and normal Systemites, and you will soon see them not so silent & you will hear them too, for it is the hit dogs that howl, and if you learn to run with these wolves, you will learn to howl too, when someone dares to say and prove that your way of life is not the only way!

Although history has proven time and again in every age that the majority are usually wrong. But it seems, as Toynbee said, that about the only thing we ever learn from history is that we never learn from history, therefore these sordid chapters of the horrors of history continue to repeat themselves

Because darkness cannot stand the light and wrong cannot bear the right, and the big lie cannot tolerate the truth, and them that are bound bitterly resent the freedom of the free; because by all of these the wrongful majority are exposed for their sins of darkness, evil, deception, greed and the enslavement of the exploited, they must, therefore, furiously endeavor to smother the light, say that wrong is right, attempt to shout down and drown out the voice of truth, frustrate and bind the free, and exterminate them that would terminate and expose the System's own hypocrisy.

As the lawyer said to the hippie in "Easy Rider," they have to kill you because you're free, and it proves they're not, and they can't stand being reminded that they're slaves of the chains of conformity forged by their own hands!

~ Ted Rudow III, MA, Menlo Park, California

Regarding KS's letter posted March 16:

That anyone could allege that "America First" Buchanan is ready to hand over New York to the Pope is ludicrous. This is the same sort of mindless anti-Catholic bigotry that John F. Kennedy, the first (and only) Catholic to be elected president in the entire history of the U.S., was faced with during his presidential campaign. The Vatican is concerned that US Catholics are more American than Catholic (Witness the pro-choice position of the Catholic Democratic senators), while KS anachronistically fears the opposite. KS seems to feel that American and Catholic are mutually exclusive. I guess he has never read all of the first amendment. One wonders if he has even read his own quotation. Nowhere in it do we find Buchanan saying that he is providing a "definition of loyalty."

Perhaps KS will oblige us by struggling through the following entry from Grolier's encyclopedia:

"The Know-Nothing party was an antiforeign, anti-Roman Catholic political organization that flourished in the United States between 1852 and 1856. Nativism had been growing since the mid-1840s in response to massive immigration, especially from Ireland and Germany. Many of these immigrants had become part of urban Democratic political machines, much to the resentment of non-Democratic old-stock Americans. In the early 1850s, various secret, anti-immigrant organizations joined to form a new political party. Officially called the American party, it was popularly known as the know-nothing party because members answered "I know nothing" when asked about the exclusive, native-Protestant organization.

"Advocating exclusion of Catholics and foreigners from public office and seeking to increase the naturalization period from 5 to 21 years, the Know-Nothings won national prominence chiefly because the two major parties--Whigs and Democrats--were at that time breaking apart over the slavery issue. The party reached its zenith in 1854-55, but it too soon became factionalized over the slavery issue. In 1856 Millard Fillmore, the American party presidential candidate, received 21 percent of the popular vote, but the party rapidly disintegrated thereafter. Most of its Northern members joined the ranks of the newly formed Republican party."

It is well known that former Republican Pat Buchanan is an anti-immigration nativist. Am I the only one to see the irony here? And what does KS know?

~ Robert J. Kovacs

Regarding "Tony Blair: An Appreciation" by Sean Gabb:

Most likely because I do not understand the Queen's English, I cannot make a spot of sense of your article on Blair. Being American, and as you describe, no friend to the British, I realize I am immediately disqualified by the lens through which I am viewed, or the filter through which I am passed. Nevertheless, I will take what little intellect this savage inbred nation has given me and attempt to at least raise my brow higher than yours.

After reading your divergent list of rabbit trails, I detect no real ponderance of facts but rather a laundry list of pet peeves tailored to reflect negatively on your own Blair. Regardless of my own position (and I must say, that comparison with being friends with Peru really hurts, ouch, in fact I, and a vast majority of conservative Americans, even during the Clinton/Blair love-in, were pro-Blair and pro-Britain) you need to lay down on the leather couch and "let it flow, get it off your chest." If you don't do it soon, even an ultra high fiber diet will not squeeze an ounce of sense out of you.

~ Chris Lenegar

Time Travel

Hypothetically, let's go back to say April or May of 2001. And the Bush administration was in the same position they are now, however the country they had their sights on was Afghanistan. And the reasoning was that they wanted to remove the Taliban regime, and that they had good reason to believe Osama bin Laden was in that country and was planning a major attack on US soil? How many of the antiwar/peace activists would be rallying against a war with Afghanistan.? To those that are truthful and say "I would", what made you forget 9/11 so quickly and what makes this different. That over 2000 American civilians had to die FIRST?

~ Curt D.

Sam Koritz replies:

OK, Curt, check in over the next week or two for replies. And, readers, how 'bout some replies to Curt's question?

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