The verdict is in: Kerry won the debate.
Even Conservative bloggers
are calling this one for Kerry. The spinners can spin, but the undecided panels of the networks are overwhelming leaning to Kerry, and the snap polling is all trending 70-90% to Kerry. The professional conservative pundits are already engaged in deep damage control and downgrading the importance of debate performance to the election.
Kerry was Presidential, with the facts at his command, clearly laying out the case for Bush's failure and his ability to lead America. He affable, though he made a quip during an exchange with Bush about their daughters, which might have been a barb. Bush said he was tying to put a leash on his daughters, and Kerry quipped that he has "learned not to do that." This may have been a allusion to the picture of a prisoner of war on a leash from Abu Ghraib, but as Kerry was smiling, I don't think this was at the top of his mind, rather it is likely just a reference to his relationship with, and respect for, his female family members.
Throughout the debate Kerry was solid, steady, thoughtful. He did tend to confuse on the issue of whether the war was a mistake. Again the nuance of his position that Bush was mistaken in going to war, yet the war is not a mistake and we must win it, rang several false notes and gave Conservative pundits ammunition to claim he was trying to have it both ways. I think his reference to Powell's Pottery Barn rule, "you break it, you fix it," made more clear his position that, though he would not have made the same mistakes as Bush, we must now fix the problems Bush created.
Bush, in contrast, seemed to lack the facts, failed to take initiative to obvious openings, was tediously repetitious, constantly falling back on his sound byte rebuttals. He seemed small and overshadowed on the screen because of the campaigns insistence on equal screen space. His features and mannerism were testy, and peevish. His voice gave the impression of a constant whine in tone and cadence. He was often hunched and defensive looking at the podium. Worst, he often hesitated for uncomfortable periods of time, mentally stuttering or reaching for the words or phrasing he sought. He often looked more like a chimp caught in the headlights than a President.
Bush's problems went well beyond the stylistic, however. He failed to articulate a way forward in Iraq. Instead he continued to insist on a stay the course message, which completely neglect the very troubling facts on the ground. This stubbord insistance that all is well and that "we're making progress" lacked credibility in the face of Kerry's whithering criticisms. Kerry made it clear that we are not making any progress in Iraq, but are, in fact, losing ground quickly. Meanwhile, the death of dozens of Iraqi children are splashed across the headlines and there are more than 80 attacks a day on American forces in Iraq. This disconnect between the facts and Bush representation of those facts severely strained Bush's credibility and command of the situation.
Kerry also scored major points on Bush regarding Afghanistan and the diversion of resources to fight Al Qaeda to the war in Iraq. Asked what his most important national security issue was, Kerry impressed with his proposals for Nuclear Threat Reduction efforts to prevent terrorists from obtaining radiological materials. Kerry literally wrote the book on the subject, demonstrated the threat with a story of a seized quantity of plutonium with a market value of 250 million dollars, proposed to accellerate securing all materials in just four years. He contrasted Bush's lack of interest in the program and failure to accellerate the securing of materials since 9/11.
Many Americans saw John Kerry as a President for the first time last night. They were able to measure the two men side by side, and Kerry's stature was in all ways greater than Bush's.
DeLay's No No
The New York Times > Washington >New York Times: House Ethics Panel Says DeLay Tried to Trade Favor for a Vote
The House ethics panel has repremanded Tom DeLay for trying to win the vote of a Michigan Representative by promising him an endorsement for his son when he ran to replace his father. It is a small victory, but the fact that the complaint wasn't made to disappear speaks volumes. Besides every collapse is presaged by tiny cracks in the facade of the building. DeLay's reign of terror over the house is looking shabby suddenly.
provides his usual wisdom and insight on the virtues of changing one's mind. A quick read. Well worth it to prepare for the car-wreck of denial and stubborn misjudgement that will be Bush's debate performance tonight.
Retired Marine Steve Brozak declares war on Bush
in New Jersey.
Brozak is another Republican who has decided that the Republican party has abandoned him. He charges the Bush Administration and Republican leadership of contempt for the armed services and the American public, as well as gross and willful negligence in the pursuit and execution of the war in Iraq. I could not agree more.
Brozak has received a lot of attention for opposing Mike Ferguson in what was thought to be a safe district for Republicans - as a newly minted Democrat. He's fiscally responsible and concerned for our military readiness and the well-being of our troops and their families, demonstrating that, as the Republican party eats its own children, the Democratic party is swiftly becoming the party of true conservative values.
Brozak is running an aggressive, in-your-face campaign, as a Marine officer should: on the attack on every front and sapping his opponent's every weakness, from Ferguson's brazen corruption, to the ballooning deficit, ideologically-driven stem-cell research restrictions, and, of course, the bungling of the war on terror and the elective war on Iraq. I don't forsee him giving his enemy any quarter or mercy until they flee or are completely destroyed.
You see, Brozak is concerned about the preservation of American society. He, too, sees the Neo-Cons and Wrong Wing of the Republican party hammering away at the seams of our society, culture, and government. From the speed and thoroughness of the collapse of Yugoslavian society into barbarity, he's witnessed first hand how frail civilization can be. And he is determined to defend ours from our barbarians within. Brozak said, "It showed me how fragile societies can be. Make no mistake. Our society is very fragile."
Make no mistake, Brozak is no 'liberal'. He bristles at the notion that he is any sort of ideologue or an 'irrational Bush-hater' in the parlance of the current media spin of all opposition to Bush. Brozak barks, "What do you think, I'm a liberal? I'm a friggin' Marine, and on top of that I'm a businessman."
As you might expect, Ferguson is rolling out the mud to defend his throne from this determined veteran of another sort of campaign. But there is little to stick to on this squeaky clean Marine turned hi-tech investment banker. If you have any dough left at this point, and have hit your caps on local and Presidential contests, send a few bucks to Steve Brozak for Congress
to help him give 'em hell.
In normal times, Brozak would almost certainly be on the other side of the aisle; but the Republican party has no place for a mind like his anymore. Active. Independent. Demanding answers. Demanding respect. We'll have to provide good, honest Conservative men and women like Steve Brozak with asylum in our own party, even as cretins like Miller slink off to the other camp, until they can recolonize their own party after the fall of the cabal at the helm of the GOP.
I'm happy to do it. America doesn't work without a healthy and vigorous opposition party, as we have too often lamented over the past few years. The polarization of America is not driven from the left. It is not driven by irrational hatred of the man who soiled the American electoral process in 2000, and stained the eternal honor of our nation and armed forces at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. It driven by those for whom a stain or soiled blue dress is more important than the business of our nation. Our polarization is driven by the extremists of the right for whom conservatives like Brozak, patriots who treasure genuinely conservative values, hold nothing but contempt. I look forward to the day when Democrats will once again be able to step across the aisle, and shake the hands of people like Brozak as honorable members of the opposition party. Then, no matter which party was in power, all could rest assured that our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor were in capable and trustworthy hands. We have no such peace of mind these days.
Current U.S. Troop Levels in Iraq Are Unsustainable
I am a volunteer for the local draft board and have been following this story closely. Some say that Bush is planning a draft; this isn't true, but it is also not entirely inaccurate or false. The Selective Service is actively planning for a 'special skills' draft, so the assertion that there is no planning going on for any draft by the Pentagon is evasive, or simply incorrect.
Stop loss orders of soldiers whose contracts are expiring, and call up of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), also constitute a limited draft in that many of our putatively 'volunteer army' are now serving against their will. In fact, as of today 8 IRR, of more than a thousand veterans who have been called back to active service and have failed to show up, have been declared AWOL.
The Bush Administration has not yet touched the draft issue directly, but they are doing everything short of it to enhance the numbers of the armed forces. Recent studies of the force structure of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan over the long term (out to 2006 or beyond), as both Bush and Kerry contemplate in our future, are not compatible with our current retension system. See this for a quick sitrep
In brief, without scaling back our forces and mission in Iraq, or beginning enforced conscription, we will be unable to maintain our current mission capability in Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither conscription nor scaling back or withdrawing these forces is politically palatable, but it is clear that Bush or Kerry will have to choose between these alternatives if these occupations persist. Thus, rumors of a possible draft are far from unfounded. They are anticipating real logistical problems the U.S. faces as a result of our current deployment and the public foreign policy positions of the both candidates for President.
No Conservative Compassion for Cambodians
: The U.S. is deporting 1,500 Cambodians. Many have lived here for decades and with the exception of relatively minor offenses, like driving under the influence or assault, have been productive citizens. Most came as refugees from a war sparked by U.S. policy and will be returning to a nation they do not know.
Apparently, this is compassionate conservatism.
Reports from the Election Day front lines
Just wanted to drop in and introduce myself. I'm Tim Vandehey, and I'm a progressive activist and freelance journalist from Ventura, California. I'll be coming to Arizona on November 1 as a volunteer for ElectionProtection.org, a group that's recruiting 150,000 people around the country to monitor polls in swing states to ensure that, unlike the Florida debacle in 2000, no voters (especially minority and non-English-speaking voters) are disenfranchised in 2004.
I'll be working at a polling place either in Tucson or Phoenix (don't know which, yet) and filing reports as often as I can from the front lines of the election, both from my polling place and as many others as I can get to.
Will there be any voter influencing going down? Who's to say? I hope not. I hope my reports are as boring as a John Tesh greatest hits album, because I'd like to think that no one would ever try to prevent Americans from exercising their right to vote. Then again, look where we are. I don't think any of us doubts the Republicans will do anything to maintain their hold on power, including intimidating or confusing hesistant voters into going home without casting a ballot. And as we saw in Florida, every vote is critical.
So I'll be out there, one small gear in a big machine that will, hopefully, keep the election on the up and up. Stay tuned.
Torrentocracy - the Uncovered Interviews
Now the full interviews done for the movie Uncovered: The War on Iraq are available as a Torrent download
. Juicy full skinny on the naughtiness of the Bush Regime in taking us to war in Iraq.
Do you have BitTorrent installed
? Good. Get your interviews now
- no waiting.
No on 104
Prop 104 moves the filing deadline and petition gathering period for voter initiatives ahead three months
. Presumably this is to allow more time for voters to study the issues and organize opposition. But the harsh truth is people don't pay much attention to these matters seven months before the election, and opposition also gets organized late when money and volunteers are available in the 2 to 3 months prior to elections.
The real result of 104 will be to keep many volunteer-based initiatives off the ballot. Eric Ehst, who has done many citizen sponsored initiatives, points out that none of the current crop of inititative qualified by April in this cycle. Under 104, it is likely none of them would have qualified. 104 is a solution in search of problem.
Vote NO on 104.
If Howard Dean Were the Candidate ...
For all the Deaniacs who read this blog, this one's for you.TIME has a great opinion peice on why Dean would have been a stronger candidate this season
All I can say is, "Amen, and pass the K&E rally sign."
The Death of American Journalism?
CBS, the Cowardly Broadcasting System, self-censored a 30 minute segment of 60 Minutes (peices usually run 15 minutes) on the Niger Forgeries. The story was leaked to Salon
and the outline of the story is now there. But the net result is that millions of Americans will not get to see how the Bush Administration either consciously lied to them, or was unconscionably gullable.
This is the sort of decision that can turn an election. CBS has come down on the side of denying the electorate relevant information. That is a failure of democracy. Our journalistic tradition is in crisis. Unless our major media get some balls soon to tell the truth about the corruption of our government, American democracy is doomed.
US IRR Soldiers Being Declared AWOL
1/3 of the retired soldiers called out of civilian life by Bush's call up of the Individual Ready Reserve had failed to show up
. Over 1000 soldiers so far have failed to report and and about 85% of those have requested a waiver. But already 8 soldiers have been declared AWOL. They are listed in national law enforcement databases and can be arrested if encountered by police.
Given that the President is clearly been proven to have deserted himself, one wonders why he's not been scooped up for failing to show up to do his duty. The reason why a man who has so blantantly dodged service to his country should not be President is because it makes the nation seem so hypocritical in enforcing discipline in a volunteer armed forces. If the President can get away with flouting the law and his duty, what moral authority does the executive branch have in demanding that soldiers honor their agreements, and punish them as criminals if they don't?
Charles Bowden: Tucson's Poet of Democracy
Charles has a guest opinion published on Sunday in the Star, which absolutely blew my hair back. I'll beg Charles' indulgence for reprinting it here in it's entirety. It is too good to be lost into the maw of the Star's paid archive.
I am the odd man out at a political rally. I love my country, love the bad coffee, weak beer and menacing use of the frying pan.
But I seem to flunk in simple partisan allegiances, being essentially a tree hugger with numerous guns and a thirst for wine and a lust for disreputable venues.
Recently a slick New York magazine, GQ, a rag basically devoted to helping men understand the deep meaning of brown shoes, asked me to prepare a reading list for the next president of the United States. As a patriot, I was happy to comply.
In the midst of this sacred task, I wrote a definition of my country I will now share with you: Think of a Bible wrapped with a garter belt, with a loaded gun as the bookmarker.
Normally, I consider both political parties, at best, criminal gangs. I vote religiously, but I refuse to believe.
And I tend to agree with Henry Adams, the grandson and great-grandson of presidents, who once said a congressman is a hog, and you take a stout stick and whack 'em on the snout.
But then Mark Twain said they were our only hereditary criminal class.
Also, once, when I was a real person, I taught American history in an honest-to-God university, and from that background I know that bad times and bad ideas and bad choices have often confronted the people of this nation.
We started out claiming some of our fellow countrymen were three-fifths of a person, we started out claiming the girls were too addled to vote, we endured human bondage for close to 80 years, we tolerated Jim Crow for another century, we slaughtered native Americans, we crushed early union efforts. We have spilled blood.
We have done great things and we have done mean things. And all this has made us who and what we are.
So what is so special about this election at this moment?
We've lost our way. We no longer face facts. We prefer to fabricate them.
The Healthy Forest Initiative is not based on facts. The scorn of global warming is not based on facts. The war in Iraq is not based on facts. The Patriot Act is not based on facts. The Office of Homeland Security is not based on facts. And the sound bites of this election are not based on facts.
We now have a government with the mentality of a gated community. And this is repellent to me and lethal to all of us.
We can't solve any problems unless we ask honest questions.
This election matters because we must honestly face the consequences of global trade, illegal immigration, the sacking of our public lands, the destruction of our Bill of Rights and the growing international hatred of our flag and passport.
This election matters because terrorism will never take out us out; only we can destroy ourselves.
This election matters because bile and hatred are fatal to public discussion, and public discussion is essential to a decent society.
This election is not about John Kerry and John Edwards, who seemed to be decent folk with extraordinary hair when I tagged along with them in Iowa last summer and fall.
This election is about this administration and the greed and toxin it has pumped into the veins of this nation.
This election is about the new legal drug this administration pushes: fear.
In a real sense, this election is nonpartisan, it is not about being liberal or conservative. My God, what real liberal or conservative would ever sanction the Patriot Act?
What liberal or conservative would sanction false information about weapons of mass destruction?
What liberal or conservative thinks the torture chambers we created in Baghdad were right and proper?
What I am driving at was said a long time ago by someone I've always paid heed to: "At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the Ocean and crush us at a blow? Never!
"All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the Earth … in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
"At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us.
"It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."
That is from Abraham Lincoln's address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Ill., on Jan. 27, 1838.
Well, I agree with Mr. Lincoln, our first Republican president. And I'm not up for suicide. This election matters because this country matters, and it must return to path of law, decency, courage and compassion.
I don't have any simple answers to global trade murdering jobs here or to illegal immigration storming across my desert or to how to undo a century of fire suppression in my national forests or to how to stop men and women from sacrificing their lives to kill us. And I'm open to discussion on these points.
But I want facts, I want honesty, I want a fair debate. I want love of country, not hatred of my fellow countrymen.
No more fear.
Vote as if it matters.
This time it does.
As my late friend Edward Abbey once noted, a patriot must always be ready to defend his country from his government.
is a Tucson writer. His most recent book is "Down By the River: Drugs, Murder, Money and Family." This article is the text of a speech given to the Tucson Suffragettes on Sept. 12. His e-mail address is: CBowden455@aol.com.
Psuedo-Fascism Pt. 2
Dave at Orcinus has Part II
of his proposed 6 part series up today.
A great read that I highly recommend.
9 out 10 scientists agree
Kerry will make a better President than Bush
according to a study their positions on scientific issues byt Nature magazine. On climate change, Yucca Mountain, stem cell research, nuclear weapons reseach, and the freedom and integrity of government sponsored science, Kerry wins hands-down.
Needed an objective reason to vote for Kerry? Now you have it. And you can follow the science issues in the campaign as they develop at Nature's US Election Blog
Kerry Needs To Power Up
An excellent post on World On Fire
suggests that Kerry use powerpoint to integrate graphics and video clips into his stumping to exploit the rich veins of Bush's vulnerabilities.
It's not a wacky idea. One of the reasons Gore's speeches sponsored by MoveOn have been so effective, is that he has used powerpoint presentations when the topic is highly complex, such as his enviromental speech
. This allows images and key facts to stick with the audience. It's time for stump speeches to go multimedia.
McCain and Powell: Partisan Hacks
The case against McCain and Powell
for sticking by a failed President. I couldn't put it more strongly myself, so just follow the link.
News coverage of Iraq has declined even as the situation has grown more dire. This is due to the use of information denial techniques of information warfare by the Administration on the public and media. Now we are the enemy
. Learn how the Bush Administration uses classic physchological warfare tactics on the American people, and what you can do to fire back.
Intel Chiefs of Europe Raspberry Bush
The heads of the 5 major powers in Europe
, each with multiple assets in Iraq, are scathingly in agreement as to the failure of Bush's policy in Iraq.
From top to bottom their critique outlines point by point how unrealistic, short-sighted, ignorant of history was the NeoCon project and the Administration's implementation. Read it and dance with joy that at least SOME people in the world understand why we Democrats think Iraq is an unmitigated disaster.
BUSH ATTACKS KERRY WHILE COZYING UP TO DICTATORS
Via Daily Misleader
President Bush earlier this week attacked John Kerry, saying "It's hard to imagine a candidate running for President prefers the stability of a dictatorship to the hope and security of democracy."
Yet, it is President Bush who regularly declares his preference for dictatorship as a political system and maintains personal friendship and courtesy toward some of the world's most oppressive dictators, often wining and dining them at his ranch in Texas.
Bush said before he was even elected President in Governing Magazine’s 7/98 issue, "A dictatorship would be a lot easier." Then said to CNN on December 18, 2000, following a contentious election of questionable ligitimacy, at time when the American people needed wise and inclusive leadership, "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier - just so long I'm the dictator."
And then said on July 30, 2001, in Business Week, "A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."
By his own words and actions, Bush seems to have a fairly high opinion of dictatorship as a system of governance. Perhaps it appeals to his simple, black vs. white, good vs. evil conception of the world.
In June of 2004, Bush referred to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia as "my friend,"
even though the Saudi Arabian government has been investigated for its financial ties to the 9/11 terrorists
and is listed by the U.S. State Department as one of the most oppressive regimes on the planet
In April, he referred to the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as "my friend" and welcomed him to the Crawford ranch by saying "I always look forward to visiting with him."
Bush gave this praise to a dictator, even though Human Rights Watch notes that government "torture in Egypt is widespread and systemic"
and the State Department says Mubarak has passed a Constitution in which the electorate is barred from being "presented with a choice among competing presidential candidates."
In 2002, it was Bush who said "I want to welcome the President of China to our ranch, and to Texas."
Bush was inviting into his home a dictator who, according to the U.S. State Department, presides over a government that regularly engages in the "arbitrary or unlawful" murder of its own citizens, kidnappings of political dissidents, and repression of religious minorities.
One thing is for sure, if you want a President who has plenty of sympathy and kind words for dictators, and thinks that dictatorship is a nifty and efficient system of government, your choice couldn’t be more clear.
"Four more years!" "Four more years!" "Four more years!"
The State Department's map of countries in which Al Qaeda has operated, posted on November 10th, 2001, does NOT include Iraq.
Meanwhile, Bush claims the CIA is "just guessing"
about the possibility of a civil war in Iraq.
Flattening the Middle Class
and others in the Democratic party
have scented a plan to move toward a flat tax coming from the depths of the White House. If Bush should be re-elected a centerpiece of the Bush agenda would be a series of tax reforms to move toward such a flat tax.
And what is wrong with a flat tax, you might ask? Nothing. If you don’t mind losing the progressivity of the current graduated income tax. If you don’t feel that those who get more of societies rewards should pay a higher share of the cost of running society. If you don’t mind burdening the middle class with even more of the nation’s tax obligations. That is exactly what conservative policy wonks hoping to benefit their most affluent constituents have been dreaming of for decades. With Bush, they may finally get to implement their fondest desires.
The first substantial step toward a flat tax by Bush in a second term is likely to be the elimination of the home mortgage deduction
. Conservatives argue that elimination of this deduction under a flat tax with a single large consumption exemption would not result in higher taxes because the standards exemption would be so much larger. Regardless of the merit of those assertions, elimination of the deduction without revamping the tax code appreciably, would have disastrous consequences for the American middle class.
First, would be the immediate loss of several thousands of dollars of deductions for the average middle class family and a higher tax bill. A rough estimate is about 50 billion a year in additional taxes on taxpayers, most of it from middle income families. The second, and most pernicious effect is the impact on real estate values. Real estate industry associations have estimated that residential real estate would fall in value by 10 -15%. Since the average family’s home represents a very large portion of their total savings, the average family would not only pay higher taxes, but have their most significant asset's value hammered. The equity in people’s homes finances much of American families most significant expenditures: college tuition, down payments on first homes for children, financing small businesses, and similar investments in families’ and America’s futures. Bush would destroy the very assets which are building a better life for so many.
The American dream is often held to include the dream of home ownership, one reason we incentivize it with the mortgage interest deduction in the first place. The elimination of the deduction will perversely make it more difficult for people to qualify for home loans. The interest deduction in effect raised people’s useable income for calculating loan qualifications. Part of the 10-15% loss in real estate value is due to this effect; fewer people would qualify to mortgage any particular home, lowering demand, and thus reducing market value. The other obvious effect is less people, especially those who qualify only marginally now due to their lower income, will be permanently shut out of the American dream of home ownership.
The Bush Administration clearly understands the impact the flat tax and home morgage deduction elimination would have on home owners and the middle class. Note how artfully John Snow dodged this very question a few days ago:
Jim, from The Bronx, NY writes:
Does the administration support flat tax proposals and has there been any analysis of such proposals' impact on homeownership? Thanks for your attention.
Thanks for your interesting question, Jim. There is a lot of interest, all across this country, in changing our tax code.
President Bush believes that America's taxpayers deserve, and our future economic prosperity demands, a simpler, fairer, pro-growth tax code - and he has pledged to lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify it.
The President also understands how important homeownership is to this country, and I am pleased to report that homeownership levels have reached record highs during his administration.
President Bush has a bold agenda for promoting an ownership society by giving young people the option of voluntary personal accounts under Social Security to give them more control over their retirement savings, encouraging Americans to utilize Health Savings Accounts that give individuals expanded access and choice in health care, ensuring lower taxes and less burdensome regulations for entrepreneurs, and promoting policies that eliminate barriers to homeownership.
Snow is a flat tax fan, too. He knows what the effect on the middle class would be. During the mid-1990's, John Snow served on the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform, a 13 member GOP tax simplification panel that was chaired by Jack Kemp and created by Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) and Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA).
To recap: higher taxes for the middle class, a body blow to existing home values, destruction of middle class assets and investments, and closing the American dream to whole segment of society versus
helping Bush recover some revenue to offset tax cuts benefiting mainly the wealthiest Americans and setting us on a path to an even less fair tax system in the future. Sounds like a great deal, right?
Voting for the Middle East
Despite criticism of the approach of all out assault of urban areas by former Marine command officers
, such as Lt. Gen. James Conway, former commander of the Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq which assaulted Falujah, the Administration appears to have issued orders to prepare for renewed assaults on 'no go' urban areas immediately following the Presidential election
. The likely result will be extremely high casualities among American troops and civilians in target areas which would be unacceptable to voters prior to an election.
Major policy shifts in Iraq, like this one, are in the cards if Bush is re-elected. We will continue to kill innocents and battle insurgents without any clear rationale beyond compete military, political, and economic dominance of Iraq. Richard Clark posed a very salient question tonight on the Daily Show. Why are we killing these people? For 9/11? No. Because they have WMD? No. Because they support Saddam? No. Because they oppose democracy? No, they want democratic governance, too. So why? Because the terms under which they want democracy would not leave us in control. Simple as that - we are killing these people because they do not wish us to control them. Is that who we are as a nation? November 2nd will answer that question.
Now rumblings of a debate
over how to deal with Iran and their uranium cycle capability between the hawkish NeoCons, who brought us the Iraq debacle, and advocates of constructive diplomatic engagement are emanating from the White House. You only get one guess who is likely to win this 'debate' with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Rice all on one side, and the most prominent multilateralist, Powell, seeming to have little or no real weight in the Adminstration. Meanwhile an Iran 'regime change' resolution makes its way through Congress, we are selling bunker busters to Israel
for use on Iran, and the Pentagon and Israel are wargaming first strike options. Sanctions are also fraught with danger of misstep and miscalculation, they are as likely to cause Iran to accelerate any weapons program as to abandon it, but unlike military action, nobody gets vaporized. The future of our relationship with Iran will also be determined by our Presidential elections. Bush seems firmly on a course of purposefully escalating the crisis with Iran in hopes of a decisive step by Iran giving the NeoCons the pretext they need to gain UNSC approval, or to be able to claim an eminent threat exists for a pre-emptive strike. Kerry will attempt to rachet down the crisis and gain oversight of nuclear fuels in Iran while engaging the Iranian regime constructively and then pressing for democratic reform. The Iranians have legitimate security and commericial interests in the region, if we deny them the ability to pursue those interests legally, they will do so illicitly.
Finally, consider what the Bush approach to peace in the Arab Israeli conflict has brought us: a few weeks of intense focus, catastrophic failure, and the subject was never mentioned again. As a result, the Israelis and Palestinians have hundreds of civilians dead, a gulag wall being built by Israel in a desperate bid for a final solution, even more radicalized political leadership on both sides, illegal settlements still being built, and peace appears only a distant dream. Typical pattern for Bush, really. If he cannot succeed without trying, he has no interest in the subject and will thereafter completely ignore it. I think Kerry would be hard pressed to do worse.
The resolution of many questions which hover over the Middle East will likely await the resolution of possible 'regime change' in the United States. Will America take a hardline military approach to quelling rebellion in Iraq, or pursure a political 'hearts and minds' approach? Will America creative engage with Iranian government with appropriate consequences and incentives, or act unilaterally or in concert with Israel to try to eliminate the Iranian regime or it's nuclear potential? Will we finally cut the Gordian knot of Arab-Israeli peace, or continue to let the fuse of an increasingly nuclear Middle East continue to smoulder?
This election will largely determine these very important questions of war and peace in the Middle East. The equation is really very simple:
Bush = war, death, isolation, catastrophic failure
Kerry = peace, life, alliances, planning for success
What do you want the next four years to add up to?
Bringing Iraq Home
An excellent post Via Juan Cole's Informed Comment
which puts the daily tragedy in Iraq in perspective for Americans:
President Bush said Tuesday that the Iraqis are refuting the pessimists and implied that things are improving in that country.
What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.
Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.
And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?
What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?
What if all the reporters for all the major television and print media were trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis? What if the only time they ventured into the Midwest was if they could be embedded in Army or National Guard units?
There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged in concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal again!), rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country? What if they completely controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops could not go into those cities?
What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi), the President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?
What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year?
What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?
What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach, killing hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers? What if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial? What if the National Council of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?
What if there were virtually no commercial air traffic in the country? What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially Interstate 95 from Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston? If you got on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you would risk being carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed with machine gun fire.
What if no one had electricity for much more than 10 hours a day, and often less? What if it went off at unpredictable times, causing factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of the summer in Houston and Miami? What if the Alaska pipeline were bombed and disabled at least monthly?
What if unemployment hovered around 40%? [ed. - the only time in the 20th century the U.S. approached this level of unemployment was the Great Depression>
What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis?
What if municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to the new "president" quietly installed in the statehouses as "governors?" What if several of these governors (especially of Montana and Wyoming) were assassinated soon after taking office or resigned when their children were taken hostage by guerrillas?
What if the leader of the European Union maintained that the citizens of the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner?
American Pseudo Fascism
David at Orcinus is starting a six part series exploring the parallels between the growth of the 'conservative movement' and the grow of fascists movements of the past at his blog, Orcinus
. I highly recomend it.
McCain: destroy them to save them
John McCain calls for an Iraq offensive
to retake cities lost to the insurgents prior to the elections. McCain is wrong. An assault on Fallujah and other cities held by rebels in order to gain access for elections would do far more harm than good
. The resentment caused by the large number of civilian casualties would further radicalize the electorate. Better to negotiate the entrance of a UN force to monitor and secure polls during an election than risk the backlash that McCain obstreperous demand would create. McCain said:
"We're not going to have those national elections until we get rid of the sanctuaries. We've got to go in there, we're going to have to sustain tragically some more casualties and the longer we delay with these sanctuaries, the more difficult the challenge is going to be and the more casualties we will incur and the Iraqi people will suffer."
On this subject, I think he is simply wrong. It is promising, however, that at least he is now acknowledging that the Administration has been less than candid about conditions on the ground in Iraq. He is quoted as characterizing the Administration on Iraq as being "bland to the point of dishonesty" and "perhaps not as straight as maybe we'd like to see." Good to see John can still call 'em as he sees 'em once in while.
Lowered Expectations In Iraq
What are going to do about Iraq? It is a question that generates blank stares and head shaking from people who know what is going on, and rose-colored scenes of democracy and free-market utopia from those who do not. What might we reasonably expect over the next few years from our involvement in Iraq? What might a realistic exit strategy look like under Bush or Kerry? What is the worst case scenario? These are questions that should have been illuminated by this Presidential campaign, but for a variety of reasons, have not yet been addressed by the candidates. Both Bush and Kerry continue to promise easy solutions, or simply propose to hold course until we go over that cliff clearly visible ahead. Perhaps that will change in this final stretch of the campaign. Kerry has signaled an intent to bring the Iraq issue to bear more forcefully than in the past. Whatever the future holds, dealing with the consequences of our involvement in Iraq will not be easy, and it will not look anything like any scenario either candidate is willing to admit.
Military leaders and analysts not blinkered by partisan sentiments now recognize that Iraq is already lost, or at least in grave danger of being lost. The insurrection has grown so large (estimates hover around 100K) that it cannot be defeated by military means. But even that figure is misleading. It is not just 100K Iraqis who want American forces to leave; it is most Iraqis. Nor is it a matter of bringing to heel 100K guerrilla fighters; the insurrection has the popular support to renew, or even expand, its numbers despite any losses we can inflict upon it short of outright genocide. A political solution is the only strategy that can possibly end the bloodshed, and it will not come in the form dubious elections in January. Kofi Annan recently pronounced the occupation of Iraq illegal under international law. Such a judgment by the Secretary General is not binding, but delegitimates any elections in the eyes of an already hostile international community. Bush’s planned Iraqi elections, in which only hand-picked parties and candidate will be allow ed to participate, will not serve as convincing exit strategy if they are even able to be held at all. What do our possible exit strategies look like? If you just want a conclusion as to Bush’s and Kerry’s strategies in Iraq, skip to the last five paragraphs now.
To understand where we are going, we must have a clear view of where we have been. It would require a book to fully describe what has led us to where we are in Iraq. A few paragraphs will necessarily be a poor portrait.
What the Administration aimed for by invading and occupying Iraq was a subservient new regime with just enough legitimacy to be tolerated by the international community and enough power to give Iraqis little choice in the matter. To that end, a handful of political opportunists willing to exchange the self-determination of their nation for personal power were to be installed via elections which would be closed to any who would not accept the continued presence of US forces and a special relationship with the US. The product of this political engineering was to be a new Iraq completely open to foreign capital and trade, with the key policy decisions regarding oil, foreign policy, and defense controlled via Washington. Oil revenues would boost the Iraqi military budget, building an Iraqi armed forces dedicated to stabilizing the region in concert with US forces. In essence, Iraq would play the military role of Iran under the Shah, an imperial vassal state vastly lucrative to international capital. Meanwhile, the vast untapped potential of Iraqi oil reserves would be tapped, giving the US immense influence over some of the largest reserves on earth. Iraq would become a major bulwark of American influence in the Middle East and means of bringing Middle Eastern governments into line in our fight against political factions in their countries capable of executing terrorist attacks on Western nations.
From a nihilistically power-hungry way, it was a bold and audacious plan. So where did everything go wrong? The Administration overreached. The Neo-Con ideologues of the Pentagon civilian leadership hadn’t any realistic idea of the limits of armed force, or any feel for conditions in the Middle East in general, or Iraq, in particular. Had the Neo-Cons been content with a standard-issue puppet government, they would have succeeded in the imperialist designs, as they did in Haiti recently, and as America has in so many other nations for the past century. In fact, the Neo-Cons could likely have bought a stable Ba’athist regime under new leadership that was once again friendly to US interests without firing a shot. But they wanted it all, and they needed an excuse. Those they have used, WMD, serving democracy, and the toppling of a corrupt regime which brutalized its own people, left no room for accommodation with the existing government.
The ideologue free-traders in the Administration wanted to remake the Iraqi government, and the economy, too. They would be able to hand out incredible largess to corporate contributors and line their own pockets after leaving office with an entire nation at their disposal. But to remake the Iraqi economy, it first had to be killed. The reconstruction was intentionally starved of capital, the Iraqi economy was allowed to idle in the belief that the newly freed markets the Provisional Authority had created would cause the Iraqi economy to bloom as international corporations moved in to buy up assets at firesale prices and restart production. It never happened, and the thousands of soldiers thrown out of work by disbanding the army, and the thousands of workers idled by the largely unnecessary destruction of the invasion and attendant looting now found themselves destitute, desperate, and angry. The seeds of the insurrection were planted by the Administration’s own ideological follies.
Faced with guerrilla attacks and an increasingly hostile populace, US forces frequently over reacted. American forces were not trained for, nor intended for, prolonged occupation duty. They treated the population as hostiles by default, and the result was an egregious number of civilian casualties. Combined with the unforgivable torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, our own actions have increasingly turned the average Iraqi against any continued American presence. If some Iraqis did not resent American intervention in their country following the Gulf War, more than decade of crushing sanctions, and a completely unprovoked invasion and occupation, our actions as occupiers have more than done the job of turning any goodwill to hatred.
That brings us back to our increasingly untenable occupation of Iraq as it now stands. Having loosened the hold of Baghdad on the country, the occupation has also radicalized politics by making the most obstreperous and militant political factions central to Iraqi nationalism and identity. The end result may well be the ultimate breakup of Iraq into ethically and theologically more homogenous parts and likely civil war in the process. The antagonism of the main factions, Sunni Arabs, Shi’a Arabs, and Kurds, will be a continuous challenge in brokering any political settlement that might yet save Iraq from civil war and a free-for-all for political supremacy in Iraq. Already a heterogeneous set of rebel factions hold de facto control of several cities and towns in the Sunni triangle, large portions of the Iraqi countryside, and parts of Baghdad itself. The Kurdish area is under complete control of the Peshmerga forces, tolerating a token American presence, and continuing allegiance to the Iraqi state on suffrage. At this point America forces truly control only the ground they stand on and the major military installations. It will not be long before the Green Zone housing the unelected puppet government of Allawi is under mortar fire, as it was this weekend, on a regular or constant basis.
How do we extract ourselves from this? Bush can’t do it. Bush won’t even admit reality. The idea of staying the course will result in ever increasing Iraqi and American casualties until we have our own Dien Bien Phu
. American puissance at arms cannot change the inevitable outcome of a motivated, well-supported, well-equipped national resistance. Kerry pins his hopes on bringing in more international partners. But few national leaders would be charitable enough to place their citizens in a shooting gallery to help us save face and withdraw with honor and leave them holding a sackful of vipers. No, it is politically impossible for either candidate to say what he will actually do in Iraq. It is up to us to deduce their policy goals and from that, their actual plans of action.
Bush is easy. He cannot afford to be defeated in Iraq if his party wants to retain power. He and his allies in the GOP have invested too much political capital to back down to the Iraqi liberation movement, and his backers have invested to much financial capital in Bush’s promise to deliver an Iraqi free market. Bush must press on and hope for the best. That way lies the decimation of our military, a (very selective) draft, military escalation, a possible spread of the conflict to Syria and/or Iran, increasing levels of disaffection with the war effort, the rapid squeezing out of social spending from the Federal budget, spiraling debt, escalating political unrest and violence at home, and a humiliating, military and diplomatic defeat following the death of yet more American men and women and thousands more innocent Iraqis. This is a clearly an immoral and unacceptable option. Voting for Bush is voting for a massacre and another American humiliation worse even than Vietnam.
Kerry’s course is more difficult to chart. His desire to internationalize not just the military presence of the occupation, but give full participation to international partners hints at his plan. No major power is going to be lured into Iraq by the promise of a slice of the mercantile pie alone. Were that possible, Bush would have already suceeded in buying Russian and Indian troops he has bargained for. I believe that Kerry will enter into negotiations with the major rebel and ethnic factions in Iraq in hopes of striking a cease-fire in return for a rapid American withdrawal. Only then would he stand a chance internationalizing and/or localizing the security forces, and they are likely to be a token peacekeeping force. The deal will be contingent upon open elections with full political participation by all parties, including religious factions.
Kerry has no major political investment in restricting the possible membership and control of the new government, nor in ensuring an open Iraqi market. Both will become bargaining chips with which Kerry will purchase a dignified retreat. He can even claim to have brought peace and democracy to Iraq. Such political solution may install a religious regime, but it will face a diversity of opposition and a de facto federalized nation, so the inclusion of Iraqi Shi’ite religious leaders will not hurt Kerry too much, those most likely to be offended by the development will already despise him. Kerry might press for a new Constitution with more political protections for minorities, but he will likely be content to allow Iraqi politics to evolve naturally so long as they agree to arms control measures and promise to fight terrorism. We will lose the Bush Administration’s pipe dream of a compliant and friendly Iraq, but in time Iraqi interests may realign with our own. Just because Iraq is not our tool, does not mean it must be our enemy.
Of course, Kerry could not possibly win the Presidency by saying to the American people, "I will allow a fundamentalist Islamic state to come to power in Iraq, if that is what it takes to get us out of Iraq," in the current political environment. He will maintain the fiction that military victory is a viable possibility in Iraq until election day. To do otherwise in this political environment is asking to be pilloried. The reason why Kerry is so unconvincing on the Iraq issue, is almost certainly because he is dissembling. I wish it didn’t have to be so, but the necessity must be clear to all by now. America is the grip of a pre-fascist hysteria, now is hardly the time to remonstrate with the American people. It is time to take back power and lead them away from the flame of self-immolation. Only then can the truth be told to all in the knowledge that the ‘button’ no longer in the hands of moral monster. I'm interested to see what Kerry's new approach to Iraq will be through the debates, but I doubt it will stray far from criticizing specifice decisions. Kerry is not likely to be too specific about what happens after inauguration day besides promising an exit before his second inauguration.
The possibility of a secular Iraqi state was mortally wounded with the Ba’ath party was outlawed and the Ba’athist army was disbanded. Kerry must play the hand dealt him in the only way it realistically can be played. In the wake of Bush’s provocation and empowerment of the most atavistic factions of Iraqi politics, Kerry’s only trick is to accede to Iraqi self-determination. The greatest difficulty facing Kerry if he takes such a course is to prevent Iran from exploiting Iraqi politics and creating another radicalized, anti-American fundamentalist Shi’ite state in Iraq. This will be one of the a major tests of his Presidency. Sadly, many of Kerry’s major tests as President will be setting aright what Bush has broken.
I'm glad that the CBS documents regarding Bush's Guard service have been questioned. Some look at this as a distraction from the real story - and it is - but fail to recognize how this controversy is also keeping Bush's service, or lack of it, at the center of the news.
With the allegation that the CBS documents were forged, the Bush partisans made a huge mistake. The accusation will now force CBS to vidicate their credibility by proving that Bush failed to complete his duty. In essence, those behind this forgery flap are forcing a major news organization to bring down the President or lose their credibility. Really, I cannot think of a finer way to focus the minds at CBS News on the job of cutting the legs out from under BC'04.
There is far too long until the election for Bush to avoid CBS landing some very damaging blows. The records are missing, there is no credible proof of his completion of service, and it is unprecendented for the Guard to train a pilot from the ground up. The Guard only took pilots who had trained in regular duty for several years, not greenhorns - except for Bush. The Meaniacs think they have been clever in aiming a scattergun of charges at CBS, but they will soon find that scattergun has a hell of a recoil.
Talk is Cheap
Coming home from Phoenix this evening, I was driving down I-10 past Casa Grande and I saw a Clear Channel billboard which read:
TALK IS CHEAP
PRESIDENT BUSH IS REAL!
Now what exactly that really means, I'm not sure. Obviously no genuis wrote this copy. The oddest thing is that the attribution said only "Paid for by Arizona Citizens". Now this obviously is not an independent expenditure as it does not advocate Bush's election exactly; at least it doesn't use the magic words 'elect' or 'vote' or 'retain' or anything similar. This would be 'so-called' issue advocacy. Thus the bullshit attribution. What occurs to me is that Clear Channel put the board up on their own dime and are covering what might be an illegal expenditure with the skimpy garments of 'Arizona Citizens'.
I think it might be time for a call to the FEC and Terry Goddard's office.
Gallup Polls Intentionally Skewed
Concerned that the USA Today or CNN poll you just heard about shows Bush way out in front? Confused as to why other polls show a neck and neck race again now that the GOP Convention has faded in people's memories? Wonder no longer.
It seem Gallup wants it that way, so they are oversampling GOP voters
. Yep. Instead of pegging the proportion of Dems, GOP, and Indeps to historical voting trends, they have made the arbitrary assumption that 40% of voters in the Presidential election will be GOP, and only 33% will be Dems. This is despite the fact that the figures were 39% Dems and 35% GOP in 2000. So the polls are off because the pollsters are asking a lot more Repubs for their opinion than is reasonable.
Why would they do this? Well, let's start with the fact that Gallup's CEO is a GOP donor
. Actually, I think we can stop there, too.
Hit 'em when they're down...
RNC kicker identified
If you could stomach watching the RNC Convention, you would have been treated to the sight of some dickweed Thuglican who ate too much red meat kicking a protester who infiltrated the Convention.
Turns out this jewel of humanity is National Taxpayers Union (the idiots who want a regressive flat tax) intern from Wharton, Scott Robinson. Look down two posts to where I talk about the 'Fuck You Boys' sometimes being college-boy white trash. That's Scott. A regular SS officer in training.
Signs of the Times
How incredibly assinine. Someone stole my Kerry yard sign out of my front yard sometime since yesterday. I came home this evening and realized that the sign was missing. Not only is doing such a thing illegal
, punishable by up to $750 in fines and up to 4 months in jail, it is reflective of the anti-social nature of much support for Bush.
I think that many of those who support Bush secretly revel in the lawlessness and anti-social nature of this Administration. The demographers call them the "Fuck You Boys"; primarily men, 18-34, lower educational achievement, lower income, seriously insecure about their masculinity and sexuality. You have probably met some of them. Mullets, tats, racist and homophobic speach, muscle cars, heavy smokers, beer drinkers, sports fans (the more violent the better), are characteristic traits of the "Fuck You Boy". The spcies is not limited to the lower economic rungs, however. There are plenty of college-boy and college-girl "Fuck Yous", almost always the scions of moderately wealthy families who have little respect for property, and even less for the law. Apparently, there is at least one of these fine young animals in my neighborhood.
These young shit-for-brains are anti-social heathens and they like those same characteristics in their leaders. How else to explain their delight in the lies pedaled to them, and which they gladly pass on? How else to account for their obdurate support for an Adminstration which regularly, and openly, breaks or bends the law? Why else would they delight in the assault on the Constitution this Administration is engaged in? Why else would they so gleefully accept and condone this Administration's suppression of dissent and political demonstration? Because at heart, they are savages who find their identity in the atavistic heart of a tribe, worshipping a leader who appears superficially strong and manly, even as he leads the tribe to their dooms.
I'll be putting a new sign out tommorrow. And sitting on the roof with my shotgun overnight.
We've already lost Iraq
Former Command Generals, experienced military analysts at the Army War College, and regional specialists are saying that our situation is Iraq isfar graver than Vietnam
was. W. Andrew Terrill, professor at the Army War College, says "If we leave and there's no civil war, that's a victory."
No bloodbath is a victory, now. Not establishing democracy; we'll be lucky to get a stable government that can hold the country together. Not access to Iraqi oil or markets; after what we have put the Iraqi people through we'll be lucky if they don't embargo US trade. Not an ally in the war on terror; the next 9/11 many involve mainly Iraqi terrorists, instead of Saudis. Bush has failed miserably at safeguarding American interests. He attempted a hail mary pass into the unknown, with wishful thinking substituted for planning and fore-thought.
The worst of it is that American voters seem content to allow the driver who rammed us into a wall stay behind the wheel. The main reason being that we really haven't felt the pain yet. Sure. 1000 kids are dead. Sure, when you factor in all medical evacuations, some 25,000 casualties have been taken - 6,000 of which are permanent disabilities. Sure, we've spent 200 billion dollars to no purpose. Sure, the world despises and fears us. But we haven't yet felt the real pain which would wake us up to the incompentent weaving of the bastard behind wheel. We're still in shock and and not yet feeling the pain. We haven't yet been able to assimilate that Afghanistan is lost, and Iraq is lost, and our relations and our military effectiveness in the Middle East has been radically degraded.
Can we respond effectively to an Iranian infiltration of the Shi'ite areas of Iraq? No. Could we respond to a Kurdish separatist movement? No. Might such initiatives destablize the entire region, involving Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and almost certainly an increasingly beligerent Israel? You bet. Are all players disgusted at our apparent inability to do anything effective about the command officers and civilian leadership which abetted or allowed torture to occur at Abu Ghraib and other military facilities? Oh, yes. Our military has been humilitated, mistreated, given a mission we weren't prepared to follow through with, by a draft dodger and a man who got preferment to get into the champaign unit and guard and couldn't even fulfill that obligation. Bush a goddamn worm without a shred of respect for the military and their role. Rumsfeld has presided over a marvellous disaster.
Unfortunately the public will not feel the pain of these disasters for some time. Likely not before the election. If Bush is to be defeated, brave men and women of the armed forces will need to come forward and tell their tales to a waiting and worshipful press. They are going to need to buck the tradition of not criticizing the CIC and tell the nation frankly what this pipsqueak has done to us. Like the frog in the pot, our water is only heating gradually, but when it gets the signal finally, it will be much to late to act. Zell Miller was right about one thing in his rant, only the soldiers can purchase our freedoms now.
Bush has invested so much political capital into making the troops an object of political veneration, in order to reflect its light on himself, that they are now the primary vessel of the very virtues Americans will respond to strongly. In large groups, and in concert with their families, their credibility will be unassailable. There have been a few cracks, but there needs to be a flood of whistleblowers and truth-telling, or Americans might just cast their lot for 4 more years of Bush, and an end to the American way of life.
Why conservatives must not vote for Bush
We all know at least one. A Conservative who has doubts about Bush, but reacts with horror to the idea of voting for a Democrat, especially one as 'liberal' as Kerry. This is your answer
. A well-reasoned essay on what is wrong with Conservatives voting for Bush by Doug Bandow. Doug is a Reaganite. He's a senior fellow at the Conservative Cato Institute, whose fellows and output are increasingly anti-Bush. Doug is no poseur. He's a hard-core small, restricted government man, more Libertarian than anything else. His argument is that no matter what Kerry may want to do, he will be limited by divided government. Thus, a vote for Kerry is the lesser of two evils. Bush, with a united government, is likely to general 3 trillion of new spending and irreparably harm civil rights. If you think the PATRIOT Act, the Iraq war, Abu Ghraib, and the slew of scandals now dogging this Administration were bad, just wait for Bush next term, when he doesn't have to worry about retaliation from the electorate. There's no telling what he will do, or what the current GOP leadership will let him get away with. Besides, Conservatives have options other than voting for Kerry. They can vote for one of the third parties which more accurately reflect their values and philosophy; they could even vote for Nader. For Conservatives this year, a protest vote is not a wasted vote. It sends a clear message to the GOP that they are on the wrong track with Bush.
Send Doug's article around. Print copies and hand them out to Republicans. I'm thinking about mailing a copy to every Republican in my precinct.
The Latest FL Voting Scandal
Despite a court order to the contrary
the Florida Secretary of State is putting Nader on all overseas ballots. How can she just ignore the law? Well, JEB obviously gave her the go-ahead. A FL circuit court entered a temporary injunction barring Nader from the ballot pending a hearing for a permanent injunction. But because of the hurricane, a hearing has not yet been scheduled. So the Sec State filed an appeal, which grants an automatic waiver of the temporary injunction, and mailed the ballots with Nader's name on them, despite the pendency of judicial action.
The result: possibly less votes for Kerry, and disenfranchisement for all those who vote Nader when the court makes its injunction permanent. These Republicans in FL governement know no shame. They'll exploit even the most dubious loophole to get what they want. Is that the sort of people average Republicans really want in office?
A Mother's Reaction to Cheney's 'Warning'
Before we leave behind this third anniversary of 9/11 and turn to the business of the democratic overthrow of the BC Administration, here is some fuel for your fire:
'To Cheney, on the anniversary of my daughter's murder'
Date: Friday, September 10 @ 10:16:03 EDT
Topic: War & Terrorism
By Donna Marsh O'Connor
An open letter to Dick Cheney on the anniversary of my daughter's murder:
Thank you for warning me about my vote for John Kerry. In this version of America, the one you all have crafted, clarity is very difficult to come by. Let me make myself perfectly clear: my daughter was murdered on 9/11/2001, on an absolutely clear, late summer morning. She was four months pregnant and, that morning, five minutes after the first of two planes hit the World Trade Center, she was told she was "safe." She was told to "stay at her desk." She was found whole and intact ten feet from an alley between Towers IV and V. I cannot tell you how I would have appreciated such a clear warning before September 11th, or even on September 11th. Before that day, there were warnings, clear warnings, but they only reached the desk of George W. Bush. And I note he did nothing to stop the events of 9/11.
There were other warnings during Clinton's tenure in the White House (many I'm sure you don't need me to innumerate) -- some, though they were perhaps more coded than your recent missive, came in the form of Ken Starr's investigation of Clinton. As a mother or a citizen of this country, did I read this as a warning then? No. I did not. Was this money well spent by the Republicans? Many of my Republican friends at the time did not think so. Could we Americans afford this kind of investigation, knowing now how much we needed Clinton to be free to pursue more pressing issues? No. Should I have read in my lack of understanding of the import of the Ken Starr investigation that there was something you people wanted to have occur? Was this a deliberate distraction? Has anyone in the media since, or, in fact, has anyone in any office of power in this nation asked any of you to, perhaps, answer for that?
I ask these questions now because the Bush/Cheney administration and all of your followers are the greatest beneficiaries of the events post-9/11, and I take your warning as an indication of what you guys will bring to America if Kerry wins. Get this clear, Mr. Cheney, what you guys will bring to America. I fear you, believe it or not, more than I fear another bin Laden attack and that is why I am asking you these questions now.
Because I take your warning as an admission of your ties to that event. Even, no especially, if that admission is not what you intended.
So thank you, once again. And, understand how truly thankful I am to hear you articulate what only I seem willing to articulate: That if Kerry wins, you will come back at us.
We are forewarned.
But know this: I will never again watch my values, and the values of my fellow Americans be trampled on by so much corruption, so much duplicity and so much unadulterated hate without speaking out. You are not a Republican. You have shamed Republicans. And many of them, I pray, will be voting with me, in hope as well as fear, for John Forbes Kerry.
Donna Marsh O'Connor
Mother of Vanessa Lang Langer, WTC, Tower II, 93rd floor
The Edwards Rally in Tucson at the TCC Arena was awesome
. There were probably between 8 and 10 thousand people all told, though at least 1 thousand were turned away for lack of space.
Gov. Janet Napolitano and Rep. Raul Grijalva accompanied John and spoke before him. Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias served as master of ceremonies, and Eva Bacal (running against Kolbe for CD8), Nina Trasoff, and Mark Manoil (both running for Corporation Commission) were on hand to promote their races. Nina and Mark asked rally-goers to vote only for them, even though they can choose three candidates on the ballot. Clark, the third Democrat was was running for CC dropped out just after the ballots were printed for the primary.
Edwards was spot on. He took Bush's case for election apart at the joints and laid out the KE04 vision for America to a perfect rhythm of applause and cheers. The man is a skilled orator, and works a crowd with great facility. I had never seen him in a large group before, only in a personal campaigning setting in which he is, if anything, even better.
As expected, a group of Bush supporters had infiltrated the rally. I predicted that they would attempt to shout John down once he started his speech with "four more years", and indeed, that is exactly what occured. The woman sitting next to me, started a counter-chant of "two more months" which was quickly taken up by the entire arena. I was pleased the the crowd itself seemed to squeeze the Bushies right out of the arena. Too often Bushholes have been tolerated inside a rally and allowed to continue their disruption. We're learning.
After the rally ended, I watched John work the crowd for almost 20 minutes as the arena emptied. He shook hundreds of hands, signed dozens of signatures, and literally climbed the rails enclosing the arena floor to greet supporters. The man obviously a natural politician and loves what he does. That might just make the difference. His campaigning ability is easily superior to Kerry's. I suspect that Edwards may become even more of a draw than Kerry himself over the coming weeks.
Once KE04 takes the Presidency, I think Edwards is going to take an unprecedentedly strong role in the communication and political strategy of the Administration. He will be a powerful field asset for the Administration; he can easily do townhalls and midterm campaigning for Democrats with as much authority and skill as Kerry himself.
John-John's partnership is likely to be even stronger and more public than Clinton-Gore's. The Presidency has become not only too much of a job for one man, the VP is tending toward a President in waiting who has 8 years to campaign for the Presidency. We learned in 2000 how important it is that the public have a full sense of what sort of man the VP is long before the 7th year of the President's term. It is time for a good 16 year dynasty of Democratic control of the Whitehouse, and I'm beging to believe that this ticket might deliver that.
Bush Claimed Service in U.S.A.F.
During W's first Congressional campaign, he released an ad
in which he claimed to have served in the Air Force
, as well as the Texas Air National Guard.
And this asshole is sponsoring attacks on Kerry for distorting his service record? The hypocrisy is stunning. The silence from the press is deafening.
I saw the movie The Corporation
today at The Loft
. Here is a complete list of venues in the United States
If you would like some opinions on it you can read some of the many reviews
of it. Almost universally people consider it overly long. I do too, though I cannot think of much that I would be willing to cut. For all the intense leg-crossing and foot waggling that its 2 and 1/2 hours inspired, it was well worth watching, even for me.
Being a lawyer, and a political science major, there were few facts that surprised me in this film. The one thing that struck me as novel was how balanced the the film was. It included not just critics of the corporation, but many of the most ardent defenders of free market capitalism and the corporate form. A host of pro-business intellectual heavy-weights fill the cast of interviewees; Joe Barradacco, Professor at Harvard Business School; Peter Drucker, management guru extrodinaire; Milton Freidman, Nobel prize winning economist and hard-core free-market legend; Ira Jackson, Director of the Center for Business and Government at the Kennedy School of Hardard; Robert Keyes, President and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Business. A slew of corporate CEOs and top managers are also given screen time, Sam Gibara of Goodyear, Tom Kline of Pfizer, Chris Komisarjevsky, CEO Burson Marsteller Worldwide, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Former Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, and finally, Ray Anderson of Interface (who I would be in favor of electing President of the United States).
This is not a one sided story. It is a clear and detailed explication of the role of corporations in todays capitalist society and it is very troubling no matter what your politics may be. Take your friends to see it. Take you boss to see it. Send tickets to a CEO as a gift. This is a one of the those rare films that transforms the way a society sees itself. It would be a shame if it were not seen by as many influential people as possible.
3 Years Ago Today
Today is only silence as we remember, and mourn, the innocent lives lost on this day in 2001, and in the 1096 days which have followed.
Conservative Noise Machine at Work Again
The Washington Post
and the New York Times
, not to mention our own local Arizona Daily Star
, have been taken in again by the shuck and jive of the Right Wing Media Noisemaker. The bloggish rumour that four of the memos recently released by CBS regarding the President's Guard service are forgeries quickly got sucked into CNS, WorldNetDaily, TownHall, and Drudge. From there the buzz became so loud that the mainstream media couldn't ignore it.
The galling part of all this is that we have seen this pattern of disseminating misinformation to the mainstream media many times before, most notably in the completely bogus Kerry intern affair story. Taking a plausible premise and spinning it endlessly without any real facts into a hot story is a favored modus operandi and is characteristic of this case, as well.
But even worse is the simple fact that it doesn't matter one whit if these documents are forged. They are not the thrust of the indictment against Bush. These documents only suggest political pressure to cover up Bush's record and the state of mind of Bush's commander. The records speak for themselves: Bush failed to complete his Guard obligations. If these memos did not exist, that fact would not be not changed. The smokescreen provided by this 'forgery' controversy hides the main point: Bush is a deserter.
In fact, the effect of these 'forgery' allegations upon the converage of this story is so distracting that I am begining to suspect that Bush operatives planted these memos with CBS themselves in order to provide a distraction from the real story of Bush's desertion from the Guard. What better way to deal with a story for which there is no real defense than to create a conspiracy of forgery around some salacious, but ultimately irrelevant documents, in order to discredit the entire story in the minds of a distracted and lazy press and public?
Either way, the Bush campaign will continue to amplify the forgery charges, and duck the real issue of Bush's failure to fulfill his obligations until they make it to the finish-line of November 2nd.
Renzi Votes Against Overtime Pay for Millions
Rick Renzi yesterday cast his vote against millions of workers and followed in lockstep with the Republican leadership to back the administration's new overtime regulations that would eliminate overtime eligibility for up to 6 million workers, transferring billions of dollars worth of free labor into in the pockets of the largest multi-national corporate employers. Fortunately for American workers, 22 House Republicans
were brave enough to stand up to their party's leadership and vote with Democrats and America's working men and women to block the attempted confiscation of our wages.
"People in small town Arizona want someone looking out for their needs, not the needs of the party leadership," said Paul Babbitt. "They want someone with an independent voice, not someone who caves to every GOP demand. My 27 years of local government experience are what I will use in Congress to decide my vote, not the whims of special interests or party leadership."
Babbitt's campaign manager Frank Costanzo said, "It's disheartening that Rick Renzi represents the party leadership, instead of Arizona workers. Renzi's shown a pattern of voting against the interests of his
constituents... His record really shows where his priorities lie, and it's not with the people of small town Arizona."
Rick Renzi serves a radical anti-worker, pro-corporate agenda, not the people of Arizona who elected him to Congress. It's time for a change. It time to elect Paul Babbitt to Congress.
September 12th - A Game Which Makes You Go, "Ahhh!"
This is a simple flash game, a basic shoot'em up. Kill the bad terrorists and try not to stomp the innocent too often. But as you play, you will soon notice something that doesn't quite follow the set number or spawning generator algorythms of most shooters. Life is not a shooter and people behave pretty much how one would expect after a moment's reflection.
This is a good icebreaker for the tough GOP walnut that just won't get it. Let him play a few rounds with this that hit him with the criticisms of Military Commanders and Foreign Policy Professionals for Truth, Dick Clarke, and others who have their head screwed on right.
One Simple Question
A microblog offers a growing bounty to the first journalist
to ask a simple question of President Bush; "How many times have you been arrested, Mr. President?"
The bounty stands at ~$1150 and is growing. The future of journalism, or the absolute nadir of the journalistic profession?
Bush the Moral Coward
Josh Marshall's latest in The Hill
is a perfect statement of how everything some people admire about Bush are the very things that they should despise. The mark running through the Bush Presidency in a fat yellow streak is his moral cowardice; his inability to take responsibility, his invariable instinct to take the easy way out, the trail of broken lives and shattered dreams that his ambition has blazed through the lives of others which he disclaims responsibility for. Bush is unable to face the consequences of his own choices, especially when the result is the death and destruction of innocents, and the ruination of nations.
Bush will be remembered as the weakest, most craven, and most truly unworthy man to ever inhabit the White House. Far from being a President whose potential for greatness was crushed by events, he will be remembered as the President who was handed pearls (a massive surplus, relative peace, economic and military pre-eminence in the world, and the challenge of leadership which 9/11 presented) and turned it all to pig feces in a single term. His miserable failure cannot be ascribed to circumstance, or a difficult political environment, but only to an utter lack of moral character, a dearth of vision, and a vast and messianic ego.
George Walker Bush is a man who is beneath contempt. I wouldn't even waste the spittle to expectorate in his smug-ugly face. There will come a time when his name is synonymous with failed leadership, political corruption, and public lying, like Benedict Arnold is tied to treason.
Renzi Harmed Arizona's Homeland Security Funding
Renzi backed Bush's 2005 budget, which hurt AZ District 1 homeland security funding, in direct contradiction to his claims to have successfully represented the interests of District 1 voters on this critical issue.
Renzi’s Vote Cut Funding to Local Firefighters by One Third.
The 2005 budget cut FIRE Act grants to firefighters by nearly by one third, from $746 million to $500 million. According to the International Association of Firefighters, “The FIRE Act grant program has received $5 billion worth of requests,” and “has awarded grants totaling just 10% of that need.” [Department of Homeland Security, 2005 Budget in Brief, www.dhs.gov
Renzi’s Vote Cut Funding to State and Local Homeland Security Granting Office by $800 Million Total.
The 2005 budget cut funding to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Domestic Preparedness, which supplies a variety of first-responder grants to state and local governments, by $800 million, from $4.4 billion in 2004 to $3.6 billion in 2005. [Department of Homeland Security, 2005 Budget in Brief, www.dhs.gov
; Congressional Quarterly (Subscription req.), www.cq.com
Renzi’s Vote Cut State and Local First Responder Training by Nearly Half.
The 2005 budget cut state and local grant funding for first responder training, exercise, and technical assistance by nearly half, from $320 million in 2004 to $178 million in 2005. [Budget of the United States, www.omb.gov
Even Republicans Criticized the Giant Cuts in Local Funding.
The chair of the Senate Government Affairs Committee, GOP Sen. Susan Collins, criticized the 2005 Homeland Security Department budget, stating, the “budget includes a considerable cut in the basic state homeland security grant program. In addition, our states, communities and first responders need a streamlined grant process that includes greater flexibility in how they can use federal resources.” Despite this warning, Renzi chose to follow the Adminstration's line to the detriment of his constituents. [Congressional Quarterly, 2/9/04]
A politician's words are often little more than self-serving justifications, but his votes demonstrate real priorities. Renzi's first priority was protecting crippling tax cuts for the weathy at the expense of the safety and preparedness of all of Arizona's citizens.
Desperate Times - Desperate Measures
All the usual wingnut suspects, Townhall, WorldNetDaily, Drudge, et al, are now insinuating that the '60 Minutes' Documents on Bush's Guard service might be fakes
, They point to two documents in particular, the memo ordering him to take a physical
, and the memo regarding political pressure to buff Bush's file
, are held to be suspect because they use a proportional font and a 'th' superscript, which are alleged to not have been available in the early seventies.
A fine conspiracy theory. But if they are forgeries, why did the White House quietly release these very documents without statement immediately following the 60 Minutes broadcast? They had previously claimed they had released all relevant records. If they had copies in their possession and had the slightest doubt as to their authenticity, they would not have quietly passed along these documents
, but loudly protested:
After the broadcast, the White House, without comment, released to the two memos, one ordering Bush to report for his physical exam and the other suspending him from flight status.
Another fine conspiracy blown away by simple deductive reasoning. It is comforting how clumsily the Right lies.
Edwards in Tucson
Or you may print your own ticket online
The AWOL Project
It occurs to me that there may be some who have not seen the source materials which are presently causing Bush so much consternation.
Paul Lukasiak is both Woodward and Bernstein to President Bush. Months of slogging through military regs of the 60s and 70s, parsing out obscure proceedural manuals, and painstaking research culminated in the AWOL Project
, the indictment of GW Bush for hypocrisy, arrogance, and cowardice.
A good summary of the most recent revelations regarding what the document dump the White House performed earlier this year actually means was recently published by Salon
Between Lukasiak's site and the stories referenced by Salon, you will be ready to cut the legs out from under the most reality challenged Bushie, and bring him or her to tears.
In the meantime, it is time to consider a new catagory of journalism Pulitzer for web-based journalism to honor Paul Lukasiak's achievement.
60 Minutes Takes Bush to Task
CBS's 60 Minutes poses new questions about Bushs Guard duty
which the Administration is not likely to be able to play down. Following the release of this segment, the White House quietly released a series of key memos
related to Bush's Guard service which they had previously denied existed. The Administration lied about FOIA-covered documents, though they claim the files came from the file of the document's author and were not in Bush's file. The more likely explaination is the documents were in both files and were destroyed or removed in Bush's file, and overlooked in Killian's own file. This is a crime, and it is high time this Administration's long list of crimes came home to roost.
Keep your eyes on the ball. The issue is the Administration's witholding of key documents and the simple fact the Bush did not complete his Guard duty. In essence, Bush is AWOL
. There is no statute of limitations on the violation and Bush's certainly aggravated by the length of time. He could be dishonorably discharged and jailed for up to a year. Ironically, should Bush be subject to court martial for his offense, he would come under the jurisdiction of the military courts, which are headed by the Commander in Chief, himself. Of course, such a conflict of interest would likely have to be remedied by his resignation from the Presidency or his impeachment.
The documents are the smoking gun. Unfortunately, Ben Barnes is gumming up the story. His claim that he used improper influence to secure a Gaurd posting for Bush is completely beside the point. But the GOP will try to focus the entire story on Barnes' testimony and try to assassinate his character
as a shorthand for a denial of the underlying facts of Bush's unfinished Guard obligations. It is the only avenue open to them to defend the indefensable.
RNC Chairman Gillespie sent a letter out earlier, spinning wildly to contain the damage. He too hangs his hat squarely on the person and character of Barnes, ignoring the larger and more important issues, lying outrageously
, and even going so far as to resurrect charges that Bush abused cocaine:
September 8, 2004
To: Bush-Cheney '04 Grassroots Team
From: Ed Gillespie, Republican National Committee Chairman
Subject: Brace Yourselves
In response to President Bush's Agenda for America's Future and a critique of his policies and Senate record, Senator Kerry's campaign is implementing a strategy of vicious personal attacks against the President and Vice President.
The campaign is bringing in a bevy of former Clinton henchmen, including CNN commentators James Carville and Paul Begala. In August alone, Begala called President Bush a "gutless wonder," said he has a "lack of intelligence," and called Vice President Cheney a "dirt bag." Carville said the President is "ignorant big time" and said "George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are a couple of nobodies."
It's not like Bob Shrum needed encouragement to engage in personal attacks. At a Kerry rally Friday morning in Ohio, campaign surrogate John Glenn compared the Republican Convention to a Nazi rally, and Kerry called the President unfit to lead our nation and once again sought to divide the country by who served and how 35 years ago.
Of course, the President was called a "cheap thug," a "killer" and a "liar" at a Kerry-Edwards campaign event in New York, Mrs. Kerry has called the President's policies "unpatriotic" and "immoral" and DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe falsely accused the President of being AWOL.
Democratic strategist Susan Estrich outlined the strategy last Wednesday in a column warning Republicans to "watch out." "I'm not promising pretty," she wrote before going on to call President Bush and Vice President Cheney alcoholics, then ask "is any alcoholic ever really cured?" ("I can see the ad now.") She deems the President's service as a National Guard fighter pilot "draft dodging," and says, "a forthcoming book by Kitty Kelly raises questions about whether the President has practiced what he preaches on the issue of abortion." (Interestingly, the New York Daily News reported back in February that the Kerry campaign intended to spread such a rumor in pro-life chat rooms late in the campaign.)
So the former Dukakis campaign manager has an advance copy of Democrat donor Kitty Kelly's book, which promises to throw unsubstantiated gossip at President Bush in the same way she falsely maligned the late President Reagan as a date rapist who paid for a girlfriend's abortion and wrongly castigated Nancy Reagan as an adulterer who had an affair with Frank Sinatra. A recent story says Kelly's book alleges President Bush used cocaine at Camp David while his father was President, which is as credible as her story that then Governor and Nancy Reagan smoked marijuana with Jack Benny and George and Gracie Burns.
And tonight on CBS, longtime Democratic operative Ben Barnes-a friend of, major contributor to and Nantucket neighbor of Senator Kerry's and vice chair of the Kerry Campaign--will repudiate his statement under oath that he had no contact with the Bush family concerning the President's National Guard service. [emphasis added - Ed.] (Anyone surprised that Barnes would contradict a statement he made under oath probably doesn't know his long history of political scandal and financial misdealings.)
So brace yourselves. Any mention of John Kerry's votes for higher taxes and against vital weapons programs will be met with the worst kind of personal attacks. Such desperation is unbecoming of American Presidential politics, and Senator Kerry will pay a price for it at the polls as we stay focused on policies to continue growing our economy and winning the War on Terror.
The Bush Administration is playing rope-a-dope in hopes of waiting out the clock and throwing the decision to the judges - and we know what happens then. It is up to you to keep the media on the right track. Hold them to the real story and prevent the Administration from distracting people from theie vulnerable points. This is it. This is the election. If people succeed in making the Bush's failure to complete his service stick, he loses. If we fail and allow them to slime out of this, Bush can win, or get close enough to winning to steal it. Simple as that.
Get on the phone. Better, get in the car. Talk to the editors of your local papers, the news director of your local television stations. Call the editors of the national media you consume, newpapers, television, cable, magazines, web. Let them know that you demand answers. Why were these memos withheld? Why didn't Bush finish his Guard service? That's all that matters. This is a gift from the gods intent on savings us from another disasterous Bush Presidency. Don't blow it.