Saturday, September 18


Just returned from a business trip to Washington, D.C., where I met with my nephew who works for the Kerry/Edwards campaign. In the past week he's met John Kerry, Howard Dean and Ted Kennedy. Morale has been a bit down, he said, so evidently they've brought in the big guns to try to raise it. Nephew said the campaign is absolutely not interested in national polls -- they've got their eyes on the state polls and the electoral college. Their intention, he said, is to actually get elected. They're convinced that whoever scores biggest in Getting Out The Vote will win.

He also told me that John Kerry is absolutely, totally confident that he is going to win. McCurry and Lockhart have brought a new vigor to the campaign and have been accepted very nicely by the veteran staff.

I think the most interesting thing my nephew related was in response to a remark I made about Kerry and Iraq. I said, "I'm sick of the media blasting Kerry for not telling us precisely what he'd do about Iraq. After all, the situation changes from day to day. If he wins the presidency he'll have to assess and decide based upon the real-life situation at that time." But my nephew said I was wrong. John Kerry, he asserted, knows exactly what he thinks should be done. But he can't disclose his plan prematurely -- that would be giving information to the opposition (he laughed when I asked him if he meant opposition in the Middle East or domestically).

When I got into the taxi that would take me to Dulles, my driver noticed the Kerry/Edwards pin on my collar and asked me in a thick Middle Eastern accent if I was going to vote for Kerry. I said I certainly am and asked him if he had decided who he would be voting for yet. "I'm not entirely sure," he replied. "My daughter is voting for Bush, but my wife supports Kerry. My daughter thinks we should vote for Bush because of what he's trying to do for my country." I asked him what country he was referring to and he answered, "Afghanistan." I told him I had read a book about Afghanistan many years ago that I had re-read several times. We talked about the beauty of the land there, the wild rivers that begin as creeks and seasonally swell into raging torrents, the shadow of the Hindu Kush. He grieved over the destruction of recent years.

As it turns out, he and his wife came to the U.S. 22 years ago, and haven't returned since. They had their hopes raised high by the U.S. invasion that the eras of Soviet and Taliban oppression would end. Bush was briefly their hero. They were bewildered when we didn't seem to understand that Al Qaeda and the Taliban were largely enabled by Pakistan to attain their power and influence and turned to Musharraf, whose military junta had overthrown a democratically elected government and let A.Q. Khan sell nukes to any and all, as our best buddy.

But their real sense of betrayal was when we turned our eyes to Iraq. "Saddam could have waited another four years," he stated. "My daughter doesn't understand that -- she just hears Fox News telling her that Bush has liberated women in our country. She doesn't see that we'll probably never get back home now -- the Taliban are coming back, bigger than ever. People in the Middle East hate Bush so much things will never get better while he's president."

I said it sounded to me like he HAS decided who to vote for. "I suppose what I mean is that I want to know: will Kerry do better?" I promised him, he would. "It would be so wonderful to see our families again," he said wistfully. Then he grinned. "Of course, we'd have to save some money for the trip first!"

When I got out I gave him a pretty big tip. "To help you save for your trip to Afghanistan," I said. He smiled. "Maybe we'll go together."

I got on the plane and a fellow passenger noticed my Kerry pin. "The opposition is behind you," he said. The man directly behind me had a load of Bush bumper stickers he was putting away. "It's a great country, he said, we can agree to disagree." I'd understand if I was from Texas, he said. "I am," I replied (well, an adopted one -- I've lived here for 18 years). He was totally surprised, as if a Kerry supporter from Texas was unheard of. "We're not that rare," I told him. "Many of us are just hesitant to talk about it with Republicans." Others around us began to chat very amicably and voiced our voting preferences. It was an interesting little group, perhaps indicative of a more macro population. The lone African-American male said he's voting for Kerry. Three women are voting for Kerry. Three white males and one white woman are voting for Bush.

I finally arrived home with my suitcase filled with DNC t-shirts. My Republican-leaning daughter asked, "Didn't you bring anything home for those who aren't politically biased?"

It's good to know that son Silmarill was keeping the blog fires burning. Don't miss his posts -- every one of them is well worth reading.

The Resort to Force

Anything written by Noam Chomsky is a must read for me. He breaks it down like no one else. I don't agree with all of his perceptions, but more of his are accurate than anyone else I know. And no one knows as much. You talk about an encyclopedic knowledge.

Published on Friday, September 17, 2004 by

The Resort to Force
by Noam Chomsky
As Colin Powell explained the National Security Strategy (NSS) of September 2002 to a hostile audience at the World Economic Forum, Washington has a ``sovereign right to use force to defend ourselves'' from nations that possess WMD and cooperate with terrorists, the official pretexts for invading Iraq. The collapse of the pretexts is well known, but there has been insufficient attention to its most important consequence: the NSS was effectively revised to lower the bars to aggression. The need to establish ties to terror was quietly dropped. More significant, Bush and colleagues declared the right to resort to force even if a country does not have WMD or even programs to develop them. It is sufficient that it have the ``intent and ability'' to do so. Just about every country has the ability, and intent is in the eye of the beholder. The official doctrine, then, is that anyone is subject to overwhelming attack. Colin Powell carried the revision even a step further. The president was right to attack Iraq because Saddam not only had ``intent and capability'' but had ``actually used such horrible weapons against his enemies in Iran and against his own people''-- with continuing support from Powell and his associates, he failed to add, following the usual convention. Condoleezza Rice gave a similar version. With such reasoning as this, who is exempt from attack? Small wonder that, as one Reuters report put it, ``if Iraqis ever see Saddam Hussein in the dock, they want his former American allies shackled beside him.''

In the desperate flailing to contrive justifications as one pretext after another collapsed, the obvious reason for the invasion was conspicuously evaded by the administration and commentators: to establish the first secure military bases in a client state right at the heart of the world's major energy resources, understood since World War II to be a ``stupendous source of strategic power'' and expected to become even more important in the future. There should have been little surprise at revelations that the administration intended to attack Iraq before 9-11, and downgraded the ``war on terror'' in favor of this objective. In internal discussion, evasion is unnecessary. Long before they took office, the private club of reactionary statists had recognized that ``the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'' With all the vacillations of policy since the current incumbents first took office in 1981, one guiding principle remains stable: the Iraqi people must not rule Iraq.

The 2002 National Security Strategy, and its implementation in Iraq, are widely regarded as a watershed in international affairs. ``The new approach is revolutionary,'' Henry Kissinger wrote, approving of the doctrine but with tactical reservations and a crucial qualification: it cannot be ``a universal principle available to every nation.'' The right of aggression is to be reserved for the US and perhaps its chosen clients. We must reject the most elementary of moral truisms, the principle of universality -- a stand usually concealed in professions of virtuous intent and tortured legalisms.

Arthur Schlesinger agreed that the doctrine and implementation were ``revolutionary,'' but from a quite different standpoint. As the first bombs fell on Baghdad, he recalled FDR's words following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, ``a date which will live in infamy.'' Now it is Americans who live in infamy, he wrote, as their government adopts the policies of imperial Japan. He added that George Bush had converted a ``global wave of sympathy'' for the US into a ``global wave of hatred of American arrogance and militarism.'' A year later, ``discontent with America and its policies had intensified rather than diminished.'' Even in Britain support for the war had declined by a third.

Find the finale here: The Resort To Force

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson is second-guessing globalism.

I once heard former president Bill Clinton quote someone saying, "Americans always do the right thing after they've exhausted every other option." I find it relavent. Whether it's the FDA pumping out anti-depressants for children or power lines wrapped around schoolyards, it seems we Americans are more interested in getting things done, than getting things done right. Too often, at least, for me.

Stop the World

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson is second-guessing globalism.

By Eamonn Fingleton
Web Exclusive: 09.17.04

When the 1970 Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson was asked what it takes to win a Nobel Prize, he volunteered, "It doesn't hurt to have good students."

But even Samuelson's overachieving students -- he has taught economics at MIT for six decades -- sometimes need to be put in their place. At least that seems to be the subtext of a new Samuelson paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives..

Samuelson argues that, far from representing an unmitigated boon, free trade may in some circumstances prove a net loser. Among countless globalists who stand duly corrected, not the least chastened are two of Samuelson's own former students: Jagdish Bhagwati and Gregory Mankiw. Noted for their ardent embrace of globalism, the pair are identified by name as purveyors of "polemical untruth" in Samuelson's opening paragraphs.

Samuelson's insight is that if a low-wage country like China suddenly makes a major productivity leap in an industry formerly led by the United States, the result can be a net negative for the American people. Although American consumers may benefit via low-low prices at Wal-Mart, their gains may be more than outweighed by large losses sustained by laid-off American workers.

This conclusion, coming as it does from the pope of economic orthodoxy, is already (even before its official publication) causing a sensation in the economics profession.

See the rest here: American Prospect Online - ViewWeb

Think Again: Meanwhile, in the Real World... - Center for American Progress

by Eric Alterman with Paul McLeary
September 16, 2004

Clio, the muse of history, enjoys mocking both our passions and pretensions. But the amazingly trivial pursuits of our modern-day political media make this practice far easier than it need be. The issue of "character," while hardly irrelevant to political leadership, has managed to crowd out virtually all discussion of issues in the U.S. political system.

The cruel irony of dynamic reveals itself in the fact that while most of the mainstream media cannot manage to distinguish between the kinds of moral choices that would lead one young man to sit out a war he supported thirty years ago while another risked his life to fight it, and then returned home to help save his fellow soldiers languishing in a hellish jungle war that could not be won, 130,000 young Americans are rapidly falling into a similar situation. With an increasingly chaotic, unpopular occupation in Iraq heading toward outright guerrilla warfare, and fewer than six weeks until a presidential election, a quick glance at the headlines would seem to suggest that the media considers '70s-era typewriter fonts, pay stubs and whether or not medals (or ribbons) were tossed over a fence to be the pressing issues of the day. Like a recurring nightmare, American soldiers are once again "dying for a mistake," and they are doing so at a rate that has actually increased since the June 28 handover of power, though one would never guess as much from the relative dearth of press coverage.

Examine last Tuesday's grim milestone. Sept. 7, 2004, saw not only the 1,000th American serviceperson killed in Iraq, but also, according to Thomas F. Schaller, marked "the official inflection date marking an identical period both before Saddam Hussein was captured and after he was captured." Its significance? In the first 269 days from the war's start on March 19, 2003, to Hussein's capture on Dec. 13, 2003, there were 459 American fatalities, which equal a rate of 1.71 a day. In the 269 days since that day, however, 539 Americans died, which averages out to a rate of 2 a day. In another telling statistic, the daily casualty rate for 2004 stands at 18 a day, more than twice what it was in 2003 (when it was 8.4 a day). The Pentagon reports the number of U.S. wounded at approximately 7,000. But during the two months since the handover, these numbers have risen by 1,500. The numbers reflect an explosion in the level of violence in Iraq, with attacks on American troops and their Iraqi allies averaging 87 per day. But if you listen to the conservative spin, major combat operations continue to be over, despite some "miscalculations," and we've turned the corner in Iraq.

As the media effectively ignore these alarming casualty rates, many misconceptions fostered by the war's architects remain uncorrected.

Get the rest here: Think Again: Meanwhile, in the Real World... - Center for American Progress

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth

America Blog is having a vote on the best slogan for the freeway blogger contest. My favorites were:

Can you feel a draft?

Liberate America.

Leave no child in charge.


Step One: Admit that there's a problem.
Step Two: Vote for Kerry

God Bless our Troops.
God Forgive our Leaders.

Orwell was only off by twenty years.

“My President went to Baghdad, and all I got was this $1,000,000,000,000 deficit.”

Hating Bush....
Not just for Europeans anymore.

It's his job or yours.
Fire Bush.


You don't really believe Bush is a good president.

Osama still has his job . . .

Yes, Saddam would slaughter his own people.
But beating him to it is not a moral victory.

Got Osama?

When people THINK, Kerry wins



Has it really been 4 years?
Seems much, much longer.

Do YOU want a president who goes to war because God tells him to?

Are you safer now than you were four years ago?

Bush Seen Vulnerable to Kerry Among Independent Voters

Politics News Article |

Bush Seen Vulnerable to Kerry Among Independent Voters
Sat Sep 18, 2004 10:51 AM ET
By David Morgan

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (Reuters) - President Bush, who holds a sizable lead in some polls, still appears to be vulnerable to Democrat John Kerry among independent voters whose shifting loyalties could determine the winner of the November election, pollsters say.

Polling results from the Pew Research Center, the Christian Science Monitor and the Gallup Organization suggest independent voters are favoring Kerry as concerns about the economy and Iraq re-emerge as top campaign issues, despite a surge of support for Bush following the Republican convention.

"At this point, it seems that Kerry's doing slightly better than Bush among independents," said Jeff Jones, managing editor of the Gallup Poll.

A new Gallup survey released on Friday showed the Democratic presidential nominee leading Bush 50-43 percent among independents, even though the Republican incumbent held a 13-percentage-point lead among voters overall.

A Monitor/TIPP survey, one of several that showed the national presidential race returning to a dead heat, suggested a 10-point Kerry lead among independents.

*starship troopers voice* "Would you like to know more?" ->Politics News Article |

Militants Threaten to Kill U.S., UK Hostages in Iraq

Top News Article |

I have a crick in my neck from shaking my head. We aint seen nothin yet.

Militants Threaten to Kill U.S., UK Hostages in Iraq
Sat Sep 18, 2004 11:53 AM ET

By Andrew Marshall

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Insurgents threatened on Saturday to cut the throats of two Americans and a Briton seized in Baghdad, and launched a suicide car bomb attack on Iraqi security forces in Kirkuk that killed at least 23 people.

In Internet video footage the three hostages were shown kneeling blindfolded on the ground, with a hooded gunman aiming his weapon at the head of one of the captives.

The gunman said the Tawhid and Jihad group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would kill the men unless female Iraqi prisoners were freed from two Iraqi jails within 48 hours.

"Tawhid and Jihad sets a 48-hour deadline for the release of all our Muslim sisters in Abu Ghraib and Umm Qasr prisons or else, by God, these three hostages will have their throats slit to set an example," the militant said.

The U.S. military said no women were held at either jail.

Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for many of the bloodiest attacks in Iraq, and in May released video footage of the beheading of U.S. hostage Nicholas Berg.

Guerrilla violence and instability across Iraq have undermined the authority of the U.S.-backed Iraqi government and raised doubts that elections can be held in January as planned.

In the third major suicide attack this week against Iraq's beleaguered security forces, a car bomber on Saturday killed at least 23 people outside the headquarters of the Iraqi National Guard in the northern city of Kirkuk, hospital officials said.

The bomb ripped through a crowd of people waiting to apply for jobs at the offices in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad. Iraqis queuing up to join the country's security forces have repeatedly been targeted by guerrillas.

Body parts, shoes and debris littered the dirt road outside the headquarters. Firefighters doused flames from a mangled car, and ambulances ferried the wounded to hospital.

Friday, September 17

Frodo failed


Made me laugh.

Operation Truth

Check out  

Operation Truth is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to educate the American public about the truth of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the perspective of the soldiers who have experienced them first-hand.

The U.S. must face the monster it created

SPC Murphy was stationed in Iraq for 15 months, including several months as an MP (Military Police) at Abu Ghraib Prison. Here is some of his story:

I feel uneasy returning this month to American soil after my 15-month tour in Iraq. This dreadful feeling is inescapable. Every day I must look in the mirror and face the fact that I served in a war based on flawed premises. I was told that Iraq was an imminent threat, that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. There were no WMD. I was told that Saddam had collaborated with Al Qaeda. He had not. Later I was told that we invaded Iraq to bring its people freedom and democracy. In my time in Iraq I witnessed the security situation deteriorate daily, and elections have yet to be held. (Incidentally, before the war I believed in the humanitarian cause of liberating the Iraqi people from the evil of Saddam, and I still believe in that cause.) My personal experiences on the ground epitomize broader, and sometimes troubling, issues in the war.

When my company landed in theatre in May, I was one of the few soldiers equipped with body armor effective at stopping powerful AK-47 ammunition. My mother, an elementary school art teacher, shipped the bullet-proof ceramic plates to me from the States. Other soldiers weren’t so lucky, having to raid buildings and patrol dangerous streets while wearing inferior Vietnam-era flak jackets. Later I learned that 40,000 troops had been sent into Iraq without effective body armor. We rode in ‘soft shell’ Humvees, equipped with flimsy fiber-glass doors. A Volvo has more protection. I saw the blood of American soldiers spilled because of the lack of ‘up-armored’ Humvees.

After training 2,000 police, and bringing law and order to the city of Al Hilla, my unit was tasked to run Abu Ghraib prison, a mission for which we had no prior training. We were combat support military police, ideal for conducting convoy security, not administering prisoner-of-war camps. My unit was desperately under-manned, so I was assigned to run an entire tier at the ‘hard site’. Even as a junior-enlisted soldier, I was personally responsible for 320 prisoners and a staff of four or five ill-disciplined Iraqi police. At Abu Ghraib, we were not afforded basic necessities such as cleaning supplies, instead prisoners cleaned their cells with water alone. Worst of all, nobody ever knew for sure who was actually in charge of the prison: military police, military intelligence or civilian contractors. All the while, insurgents’ mortars rained down on a near-daily basis, killing and wounding scores of soldiers and prisoners alike.

After being promised one year 'boots on ground', and in Kuwait just days from flying home, my unit’s tour was extended by three months. We headed back to Iraq. Our new mission was to guard Halliburton truck drivers, civilian contractors who made three and four times my $20,000 salary. I wondered what on earth civilian truck drivers were doing in a combat zone. Riding with Halliburton on long convoys, we faced roadside bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire to protect these high-paid contractors. Finally, we were sent home in August.

I enlisted in the Army Reserve following September 11, 2001, one of the hardest and best decisions I have made in my life. I love the United States, the Army and my unit. Out of this deep love, I ask that we as Americans take a long look in the mirror. We must ask ourselves who we are and what we stand for. We as a nation must face the monster we have created in Iraq, sooner rather than later. We must find a way out of the mess in Iraq with minimal loss of American and Iraqi life. We owe it to the soldiers on the ground and the embattled Iraqi people.


You can read another story from SPC Murphy called"Letter from Iraq: A profile in courage"

Winston-Salem Journal | Putin's Power Grab

Winston-Salem Journal | Putin's Power Grab

What Putin is attempting to do is very much like what Bush did following September 11th. He asked Congress and was granted Caesarian authority to fight the War on Terror. A blank check. Carte Blanche(If thats how it's spelled). The American Executive branch(Bush) version of this predictable
grab for power included the Patriot Act among thousands of other things. Bush has used September 11th to achieve his goals domestically and abroad. He wanted to take out Saddam Hussein before 9/11 and now he had his chance. He lied the American people into Vietnam 2: The Arabian Jungle. All of this made possible by 9/11 and ratified by the American People. Putin is only following Bush's example. We knew this could happen. Now it has. If we have to face Russia in another international struggle, let us remember this was the day it began. When Putin began his consolidation of power in the Kremlin in imitation of what George W Bush did in America. Bush set the example. And now the world must live with the consequences. Go ahead America. Give him four more years. Theres got to be something else he can do to endanger the future of the world. In everything Bush supports the will of the Rich and Ruling Class over the other two-hundred and ninety million Americans. It's only right I guess. After WW3 the only people left to hold his ass accountable will be the ones that could afford bomb shelters. Real ones now, not those redneck knock-offs above ground. Nuff fer now.

Putin's Power Grab

Winston-Salem Journal

Tyrants know that internal unrest provides a perfect opportunity to undermine democratic institutions. Hitler was a master of it, and Mussolini, Franco and Stalin all consolidated power in such times.

It may well be that the saddest legacy of the Beslan school massacre will be that Vladimir Putin taps public outrage to undermine what is left of Russia's infant democracy. That is clearly what the Russian president has in mind.

In a proposal announced Monday, Putin responded to the Beslan murders - in which approximately 336 people died, about half of them children - with a series of political changes that will consolidate power in his hands. His rationale - that the changes would aid Russia's war on terror - is not believable.

Putin wants the Parliament that his allies control to take from voters the right to elect the leaders of the country's 89 regional governments - a rough equivalent of the American states.

Regional legislatures would gain that authority, but they would vote only on nominees forwarded by Putin.

Furthermore, Putin proposes to change how the lower house of Parliament, the Duma, is elected. Representatives would be elected from national slates, a move clearly designed to rid the federal congress of its independents and liberals.

It is difficult to see how Putin's proposals confront Russia's problem with terrorists. The problem there has not rested with regional governments. Furthermore, Putin now controls the Parliament that sets national policy - only a few independents and liberals serve.

Putin is obviously using a national tragedy to rid himself of competing political power bases.

But give the Russian leader credit. The Beslan tragedy brought Russians to the streets and previously cowed political commentators out of their caves. Putin, and his federal agencies, were widely blamed for allowing the massacre to occur. Putin has now turned what might have been a challenge to his power into a device for solidifying it.

If the proposal proceeds, as it is likely to do, the Bush administration will be in a very difficult position.

This is clearly a domestic matter for Russians, and, given America's reduced influence in the world in the aftermath of President Bush's policies on Iraq, there appears little that the president can say or do to stop Putin.

Secretary of State Colin Powell issued cautious criticism of Putin's moves on Tuesday, and he promised to make American concerns about this concentration of power in the Kremlin known to the Russian government in the near future.

As things stand now, it appears that the last vestiges of Russia's experiment with democracy may have died along with hundreds of children in a school in Beslan.

Mother of dead American Soldier holds Bush accountable - Laura Bush heckled during campaign speech - Sep 17, 2004

The actual title of this story is 'Laura Bush heckled during campaign speech'. This is typical of the media. A mother's child dies in an unjust, unprovoked, illegal war and when she tries to hold the bastards at fault accountable for their sins, not only does the headline read from the first lady's poor and persecuted point of view, but the picture shown next to the story on is of Laura Bush looking just as sweet as she can be. No picture of the mother whose son is gone forever because of Laura Bitch's malicious and moronic spouse from hell. CNN especially disapoints those of us that know when spin is being fed to us as fact. They were decent once. That day has died. Now we see them daily declining into Fox News. You'll notice I have changed the title of this story to what I think it should have read.

Laura Bush heckled during campaign speech

Mother's sign reads: 'President Bush You Killed My Son'

Friday, September 17, 2004 Posted: 1:13 PM EDT (1713 GMT)
Laura Bush praised the administration's achievements in the war on terror and the economy.

What achievements? America is less safe now than on September 11, 2001. We've de-stabilized twenty-two million more Arabs in the Middle-East, turning Iraq into fertile ground for Islamic terrorism. For heavens sake we took out virtually the only extremely secular Arab government in the Middle East. We are more hated around the world than ever before. Hello??? Islamic terrorists are at war with the US because they HATE us. And Bush is making their job easier! Why doesn't he just recruit for Osama Bin Laden? Bush already let Bin Laden escape to continue to build his empire of terror for years, so he could go after Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Guess helpin Bin Laden out now is the least of Bush's concerns. Iraq! What the hell were they gonna do? And the American people bought it just like they bought Vietnam. Bin Laden walked after killing 2,792 innocent American civilians. The worst attack on America in it's history. And the American people looked the other way while Bush let Bin Laden get away. The American people said they would never forget. Well where the hell are they now? They may even elect Bush to a second term. Have they no grasp of truth, no ability to see how best to solve their problems? I pray it is not so. But I think the same prayers were being whispered to God in 1972. And Nixon was re-elected.

HAMILTON, New Jersey (CNN) -- The mother of a soldier killed in Iraq was arrested Thursday in Hamilton, New Jersey, after interrupting a campaign speech by first lady Laura Bush. As police hauled her away, she shouted, "Police brutality."

Wearing a T-shirt with the message "President Bush You Killed My Son," Sue Niederer of nearby Hopewell screamed questions at the first lady as the audience tried to drown her out by chanting, "Four more years! Four more years!"

She pressed on, refused to leave and eventually police removed her from the firehouse rally.

The first lady finished her speech, praising the administration's achievements in the war on terror and the economy.

Outside, Niederer said she wanted to ask Laura Bush "Why the senators, the legislators, the congressmen, why aren't their children serving?"

She went on to blame the president for the death of her 24-year-old son, Army First Lieutenant Seth Dvorin. He was killed while trying to defuse a roadside bomb that exploded on him.

"My son was in the Army, and he was killed February third this year," she said.

As the Hamilton police and Secret Service agents surrounded her and reporters pressed her with questions, she held her ground, claiming "I had my ticket" to attend the speech by the first lady.

Police subsequently handcuffed her and she was led away to a nearby van. As she was escorted, she repeatedly shouted "Police brutality" and demanded to know her rights and the charges.

Later, she was charged with defiant trespass and released.

Since her son's death, the bereaved mother has spoken out repeatedly against the ongoing Iraq conflict. She is active in an anti-war protest group, Military Families Speak Out.

She has reportedly participated in numerous demonstrations, including protests around the Republican National Convention in New York.

She has also reportedly protested outside of Walter Reed Army Hospital, where many wounded troops are treated, Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware, where troops' remains are returned to the United States.

Neither the Bush campaign nor the Hamilton Police would comment on the incident.

Reuters | The IRA, Sinn Fein, and Protestant Peace Talks

Reuters | The IRA, Sinn Fein, and Protestant Peace Talks

I am always wondering what's going on in Ireland. Evidently I'm not the only one. Case in point:

Deal elusive in N.Irish peace talks
Fri 17 September, 2004 14:38
By Alex Richardson

LEEDS CASTLE (Reuters) - Northern Ireland's feuding parties have reported some progress towards a lasting peace solution for the province but are pessimistic about striking a deal.

Closeted inside an ancient Kent castle in what is widely seen as a last chance to seal peace and restore devolved government to Belfast, the Catholic and Protestant rivals have until Saturday afternoon to bridge their differences.

"The suggestion that massive progress has been made across the board and we are on the cusp of getting agreement -- that isn't the position inside," said Peter Robinson, deputy leader of the dominant Protestant party the DUP on Friday.

The main Catholic party, Sinn Fein, which is an ally of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) guerrillas, was more upbeat.

"A deal is possible, and there has been some limited progress," its chairman Mitchel McLaughlin told reporters.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern were chairing a second day of talks at Leeds Castle in Kent, which they hope will pave the way for the disbandment of the IRA.

Security was tight -- frogmen even kept vigil in the moat.

The summit marks the third attempt the two leaders have made to salvage the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement since the home rule institutions set up to share power between divided Catholic and Protestant communities collapsed in October 2002.

Success will depend on whether a deal can be brokered between Sinn Fein and the DUP, led by hardline Protestant cleric Ian Paisley.


Blair and Ahern say this is their final attempt to rescue the U.S.-brokered accord, which has largely ended the political violence which killed more than 3,600 people over 30 years but failed to heal deep sectarian divisions in the province.

The Belfast-based legislature and executive set up under the Good Friday deal fell apart when Protestant unionists refused to remain in government with Sinn Fein while the IRA remained armed and intact.

That breakdown resulted in Britain reimposing direct rule on the province of 1.7 million people from London.

Blair and Ahern say any new deal to break the deadlock must involve the IRA disarming and effectively winding itself up as an active paramilitary organisation.

The guerrilla group, which called a ceasefire in its war against British rule in 1997, has destroyed an unspecified amount of weaponry on three occasions since October 2001. But security sources say it retains a substantial arsenal.

Also pressing for an agreement is Northern Ireland's business community.

"The key thing for any successful or wannabe successful economy is political stability," said Glyn Roberts of the province's Federation of Small Business in Belfast. "Having our own assembly is good for business."

Whatever happens, the talks must wind up by lunchtime on Saturday -- the self-proclaimed "loveliest castle in the world" is booked for a wedding on Saturday afternoon.

How many treaties have gone to hell because Bush could care less about them? How many countries for the same reason? Bush's total lack of involvement in any peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resulted in the Intifadah uprising. He couldn't care less if the treaty/agreement keeping Protestants and Catholics from each other's throats falls apart and blows up in imitation of the many car bombs soon to be going off like fire-crackers throughout N. Ireland. America is not even involved in these talks anymore. Too busy with the shitstorm in Iraq I reckon. What message does this send to the world? We don't care. Do as you will. We have our own problems. Thank God when Bush got elected it stopped the events in the rest of the world from affecting Americans. No worries under the Bush presidency. Now we have faith-based foreign policy. What havoc a few years and a fool can wreak on the world. Is there any peace agreement that HAS held up under this disengaged, fumbling, war-torn foreign policy? The world may never know. Sort of like the tootsie-roll pop thing.

Thursday, September 16

Kerry Needs the Courage to Walk Away from Iraq

Kerry Needs the Courage to Walk Away from Iraq

Published on Thursday, September 16, 2004 by the Miami Herald
Kerry Needs the Courage to Walk Away from Iraq
by Howard Zinn
If John Kerry wants to win, he must recognize that our military intervention in Iraq is a disaster -- for Americans, for Iraqis, for the world. He must stop boasting about his courage in Vietnam and instead start talking about his moral courage in opposing that war. He needs to stop saying, as he did recently in the Midwest, that he defended this country when he was fighting in Vietnam. That is not an honest statement. If it were true, then he would not have turned against the war.

I don't see the wisdom of this. Kerry is trying to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to be both war-hero patriot and anti-war protesting patriot. What is most unfortunate is that the latter seems to dwarf the former. A reader recently sent me an e-mail pointing out what he thought the most defining question of this presidential race regarding Kerry: Will the American people elect a president that was a Vietnam war protestor? Since the jury is still out, I don't think Kerry should simply take refuge in the power of truth. When in the history of mankind has truth been more popular than lies? Since when has the mass of men been able to tell the difference between the two?

I agree that the true defense of our country came when Kerry fought to end that illegal, immoral, evil fucking war, but the American people aren't going to buy it with 2 months left b4 the election. And especially not in the middle of a war with Islamic terrorism. In the political environ in which we live, beating GW is more important than instructing the American people in true patriotism. They havn't accepted the argument b4. I don't see them changing now.

He was not defending this country when he fought in Vietnam. He was defending this country when he said that we were wrong to be in Vietnam and we should get out.
I couldn't agree more

He should not be saying that he will wage the Iraq War better, that he will replace U.S. troops with soldiers from other countries. If it is immoral for our soldiers to be occupying Iraq and killing Iraqis every day, then it is immoral for foreign soldiers to do the same.

While I agree, the fact remains that we broke it, now we bought it. It would be even worse to abandon Iraq now then it would to stay and see elections held. The sad part is that there is no solution for Iraq. It will almost inevitably turn out bad. This is what happens with elective war. You are by nature of the endeavor creating a monster. Control? Theres no such thing. We have to do our best to stabilize the country, hold elections, and then get the hell out. If we stay longer, we'll be there for years yet(We will anyway, but this is my world for the moment) The longer we stay the more Iraqi blood is on our hands and the more American blood is on theirs. So now bush has us in the business of balancing evil. Leave the country completely and maybe it splits up and wars devour the land for who knows how long or how many dead. Stay and more and more American soldiers will die along with countless Iraqi's.
The only thing to do is split the difference. Do all that can be don't within a given time and then get the hell out.

He should be clear: We are not defending our country by our war in Iraq, and we should get out.

Once again I agree with Zinn's point, but at this stage of the game saying that our soldiers in Iraq are not defending the country is about as dumb a thing as Kerry could do. The only thing the press and nation would get to hear is KERRY SPURNS SOLDIERS SACRIFICE. Not good I think.

He should stop saying what President Bush is saying, that we have to ''stay the course.'' We stayed the course in Vietnam and it cost more than 58,000 American lives and untold Vietnamese lives.

Agreed in this respect: Kerry should liken the no end in sight Iraq situation to Vietnam. Say there will be an end to American military intervention in Iraq under a Kerry presidency, not a drawn out war where American soldier after American soldier dies day after day. The longer we stay the more Iraqi deaths can be laid at our feet beside our own dear boys in uniform. One thing is certain. We have to get out as fast as humanly possible. I'm talking one year, to be clear. We must do the best we can within this frame and be willing to accept the consequences of Bush's dirty and disastrous war. Bush has drowned us all in a world of shit. America and Iraqi alike.

To those who say that we must not ''cut and run,'' Kerry can say, with some authority: We did cut and run in Vietnam, and it was the right thing to do.

Again, getting out is the right thing to do and that point should be made, but "cutting and running" is something very few agree with. Although what Zinn says here is true: cutting and running was the right thing to do in Vietnam- as many of us are aware, this would be politically stupid at this point. It's too late in the game to make nuanced statements. The press has no respect or understanding of nuance and neither does the mass of the American people. They're looking for absolutes. Foolish as it is to do so.

Kerry needs to stop talking about how he will be stronger than Bush and how he will do more for our national security. He should stop accepting the traditional definitions of strength and security.

He should say that strength should not be measured in military terms, but in moral terms. Did the possession of almost 10,000 nuclear weapons prevent Sept. 11? Will a $400 billion military budget make us stronger or weaker? Will our military actions diminish terrorism or increase it?

No doubt. This is precisely the kind of commen sense I wish were common.

Does not our strength lie in being an example to the world of a peace-loving nation, which uses its wealth not for bombs but for food and medicine, for our people and for others in need around the world? Should we not stop defining security in military terms, but talk instead of ''health security,'' ''job security,'' ``children's security''?

Of course we should. But the tail end of a presidential campaign is hardly the time to start challenging the mass of mens ideas of security. We're not trying to scare them. We want them to be sure Kerry is capable of fulfilling the traditional roll of the president.

This is not Utopian. It is what Americans have shown that they want, before they are made hysterical and fearful by government propaganda. It is not simply a moral program, but a winning program.

Unfortunately they already are hysterical and fearful because of government propaganda, and human nature plays its role of course.

William Lloyd Garrison, the great Massachusetts abolitionist, was urged by a friend to speak more cautiously. Garrison replied: ``Slavery, sir, will not be overthrown without excitement, a tremendous excitement.''

This aint slavery man.

War and corporate thievery will not be overthrown without excitement, either. Kerry, if he will stop being cautious, can create an excitement that will carry him into the White House and, more important, change the course of the nation.

I don't think caution is Kerry's enemy. I agree that he could create an excitement that would carry him into the WH if he spoke truth to the hearts and minds of the American people, but the truth he speaks must be carefully and cautiously chosen. There are things he could say to light up nearly every soul across our country. But is he enough in mind, body, and organization to know what to say and then do so. My God how I'm praying that he is.

Howard Zinn, who served as a bombardier in the Air Force in World War II, is author of the best-selling 'A People's History of the United States'

Howard Zinn's 'A People's History of the United States' is one of the best books I have ever read. It is a must. Doesn't matter who you are. Just FYI

Democracy For America: Good Man Howard

Democracy For America

An Expiration Date on Safety

By Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.
This is one in a series of weekly syndicated columns written by Governor Howard Dean.

On Monday Sept.13th, the law banning the manufacture of semiautomatic assault weapons for private sale in the United States expired.

Before you read further I should tell you that my father was an avid hunter. I grew up with guns in the house, and although I do not hunt, I own an over and under shotgun. While running for office in Vermont, I won eight straight elections with the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. As Governor, I conserved hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat by partnering with the NRA to fight off the right wing property rights advocates who opposed government land acquisition. I believed Vermont's outdoors should be the way it has been for generations, and now it will be.

However, I have never met a hunter who thought owning an assault weapon was necessary to shoot a deer or a bear. I have met a lot of law enforcement officers who think that the Federal Assault Weapons Ban saved a lot of their colleagues' lives. I have met parents whose kids were killed by assault weapons years ago and are bracing for more of the same.

The expiration of the assault weapons ban also showed me something that is becoming a frequent occurrence with this administration: politics trumps conviction. The ban expired because Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) refused to let the ban come to a vote in the House of Representatives. President Bush, knowing the ban has overwhelming political support among American voters, said he would support the extension of the ban when he was a candidate for President in 2000. Like so many of his campaign promises on education, health care, balanced budgets and foreign policy, there was no truth to this promise either.

A few months ago, a White House spokesman said President Bush still supported the reauthorization of the ban. Since then, the President has done nothing to support that statement.

During this election season, President Bush says he is the best person to keep our country safe and secure. But, keeping our country safe and secure does not just mean keeping terrorists outside our borders. Keeping our country safe and secure means keeping harmful weapons off our streets and away from people that will use them to harm others. That means keeping weapons away from terrorists as well as potential criminals.

Where I come from, chief executives are supposed to lead. Where I come from, when the chief says he supports something and his party controls the House and the Senate, what the chief really wants, he gets.

I would have more respect for President Bush if he had come out and said "I changed my mind, and I'm not supporting the reauthorization of the assault weapons ban." But, he did not do that. America needs a President with the real courage to say what he believes—no matter what the latest poll numbers show.

Annan: Invasion of Iraq 'illegal'

Annan: Invasion of Iraq 'illegal' |

Annan: Invasion of Iraq 'illegal'
Also, US intel report shows 'dark prospects' for Iraq, as Bush's postwar policy takes other hits.
by Tom Regan |

In an interview with the BBC Wednesday, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said the decision to launch an invasion of Iraq should have been taken by the entire United Nations, and not taken unilaterially. When pressed for a third time by a BBC interviewer if that meant that the invasion was illegal, Mr. Annan said that "if you like" it was "not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, and from the charter point of view it was illegal."

"I think in the end everybody's concluded it's best to work together with our allies and through the UN," he said. "I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time - without UN approval and much broader support from the international community," he added.
Annan also said that, given the current levels of unrest in Iraq, it was unlikely that it would be possible for "credible" elections to be held by the current scheduled date in January.

For the full article click the above link.

Wednesday, September 15

Okay, I'll confess my dirty little secret. Over the past year, I've learned to appreciate, even LOVE, Lou Dobbs. His crusade against the outsourcing of American jobs has impressed me with his passion for American workers, an almost unprecedented campaign for a heretofore Republican-leaning broadcaster.

Today, Lou welcomed Kitty Kelley, author of the new blockbuster about the Bush dynasty. He was gracious (Kitty was obviously surprised and gratified), fair and HE HAD ACTUALLY READ HER BOOK. He and Kitty discussed the troubling executive order issued by GWB in early November 2001 restricting public access to the presidential papers (and that of their vice presidents) of Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, and Bill Clinton. To remind you:

Anna Nelson, an historian at American University, is hardly alone in suspecting that the White House is worried about what the Reagan and Bush papers may reveal about officials who worked in those administrations and are now part of George W. Bush's inner circle. They include, for example, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vice President Dick Cheney, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and Budget Director Mitch Daniel Jr.

"There may in fact be embarrassing documents," concedes White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, "but that would not be considered a legitimate reason to withhold archives from historians and journalists."

If not embarrassing moments, then what?

There is, of course, no end to growing speculation. That is the problem with trying to suppress information. It inevitably raises the question, "What is he trying to hide?"

Consider, for example, the Iran-Contra scandal that tainted the Reagan administration. In order to finance opposition to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, certain high-level administration officials sold weapons to Iran. This was illegal. But despite a huge public scandal, no government official ever went to prison. At the time, some suspected that then-Vice President George Bush, a previous head of the CIA, knew more than he let on about the illegal Iran-Contra scheme. The elder Bush, however, always protested that he "was out of the loop."

Still, other historians think that the current Bush White House, deeply immersed in the war on terrorism, may be worried about fresh revelations that detail the Reagan administration's strong financial support of the Taliban as they rose to power.

UPDATE: Evidently, I'm not the only progressive watching Lou. His daily poll today asked the question, which presidential candidate do you believe would come closer to fulfilling his campaign promises in the next four years? Bush got 10%, Kerry 85%.


You won't hear THIS on TV news:

Discussing Bush at a stop at Clackamas Community College near Portland, Edwards said: "I think he believes he's Ken Lay and America is his Enron. The truth of the matter is that what happens when CEOs run a company the way George Bush has run America, is they get fired."



Watching the great film M*A*S*H on the tube last night, The Sage and I got to talking about the opener, where quotes from Gen. MacArthur and Gen. Eisenhower were displayed. It was Ike's pledge "I will go to Korea" that helped propel him into the White House in 1952. After some disastrous campaigns under Truman, the American people were getting fed up with the conduct of the war. Ike's simple "I will go" meme was welcomed as "I, who know a little something about fighting a war effectively, will go over and clean this mess up."

THAT'S THE PROPER RESPONSE FOR JOHN KERRY to criticisms that he has no "plan" for what to do in Iraq. As I've said before, how can he have a plan he doesn't know what kind of a mess he'll be presented with upon attaining (and he WILL attain it) the presidency? Come on, John, let's hear it ring out: "I will go to Iraq. I will replace those who've gotten us into this disaster with competent, trustworthy public servants who put the interests of America before party or ambition. And we will resolve this crisis."

Nick Kristof has a great op-ed today entitled "Mr. Bush's Glass House" --

Mr. Bush's own route to avoid the draft underscores the disparities in America, yet his policies seem based on a kind of social Darwinism in which the successful make their own opportunities. His tax cuts and entire outlook seem rooted in ideas not of noblesse oblige, but of noblesse entitlement. [emphasis mine]
So in this muddle of competing witnesses and suspect documents, what do we actually know about Mr. Bush and the Air National Guard?

It's pretty clear that Mr. Bush got into the Guard because of his name but did a fine job in his first few years. "He was rock-solid as a pilot," Dean Roome, a pilot in the same unit who was briefly Mr. Bush's roommate, told me. Mr. Roome adds that Mr. Bush inquired in 1970 about the possibility of transferring to Vietnam but was turned down - and, if so, that's a credit to him.

Then, in 1972, something went badly wrong. My hunch is that Mr. Bush went through personal difficulties that he's embarrassed to talk about today. In addition, Mr. Roome suggests that changes at the Texas air base were making it more difficult for junior pilots, so sometimes Mr. Bush's only chance to fly was as a target for student pilots - not the most thrilling duty.

For whatever reason, Mr. Bush's performance ratings deteriorated, he skipped his flight physical, he stopped flying military planes forever, he transferred to Alabama, and he did not report to certain drills there as ordered. The pilots I interviewed who were in Alabama then are pretty sure that Mr. Bush was a no-show at required drills.

The next year Mr. Bush skipped off to Harvard Business School. He still had almost another year in the Guard he had promised to serve, but he drifted away, after taxpayers had spent $1 million training him, and he never entirely fulfilled his obligations.

More than three decades later, that shouldn't be a big deal. What worries me more is the lack of honesty today about that past - and the way Mr. Bush is hurling stones without the self-awareness to realize that he's living in a glass house.

Tuesday, September 14


Susie's back:

It's hard to believe that journalists and even economists keep citing the "low" unemployment rate:

In August alone 150,000 workers left the labor force. They no longer tell surveyors that they are seeking work. They have given up the job hunt to help out at home, take classes or simply wait until a job hunt is more likely to produce results. When Bush took office, the labor force participation rate – which measures the fraction of the civilian population over 16 that is either working or looking for work – was 67.2 percent. Today that percentage has dropped to 66.0 percent. If the same share of the population had remained in the work force it would be 2.7 million workers larger than it is today. That would push the unemployment rate up to 7.1 percent.

In addition, the unemployment rate does not count all the people who are forced into part-time work because of the weakness in the labor market. In our increasingly agile labor market, many people are choosing to work part-time to balance their competing needs. But the number of people who, when surveyed, said they are working part-time only because they could not find full-time jobs has increased by 35 percent since Bush took office, the largest increase for any President on record. If we were to count these 4.5 million involuntary part-time workers as 'part-unemployed' the overall unemployment rate would increase further.


Ruy Teixeira reports that Kerry takes lead in new national poll:

John Kerry leads George Bush 46-44 percent in a head-to-head match-up among nation-wide RV's, with 10 percent not sure, according to an Investor's Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll conducted by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence Sept. 7-12, 2004.

Be sure and read Why the race is closer than people think.


Great find via Daily Kos:

Stolen from the Al Franken Show's blog:

Here's what Bush said in 2002:

Q Mr. President, how important is it that that resolution give you an authorization of the use of force?

BUSH: That will be part of the resolution, the authorization to use force. If you want to keep the peace, you've got to have the authorization to use force. But it's -- this will be -- this is a chance for Congress to indicate support. It's a chance for Congress to say, we support the administration's ability to keep the peace. That's what this is all about.
[emphasis mine]

Okay, once again:

BUSH: It's a chance for Congress to say, we support the administration's ability to keep the peace. That's what this is all about.

Remember? Bush said he wanted the authorization to use force so that he'd have a strong bargaining chip at the United Nations--and that the U.N. would get new inspectors in, and that, maybe, this would lead to Saddam disarming without a war.

That's why Kerry voted for the resolution. As he said at the time,

"Let me be clear, the vote I will give to the President is for one reason and one reason only: To disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies."

And we did get new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies. And then Bush blew it by invading anyway.

It wasn't just possible to support the resolution without supporting Bush's war--avoiding war was the specific reason Bush gave to support the resolution. There's nothing incoherent about Kerry's position. Bush blew it. The resolution had the effect (getting inspectors back in) that Kerry had intended. He was right. W was wrong.

(Oh, and when Bush's spokesman says "John Kerry voted for the war"--it's a lie.)


Eric Alterman:

The third anniversary of September 11 inspires many conflicting emotions from sadness at the loss, gratitude for the sacrifices of those who selflessly threw themselves into the rescue operations and subsequent physical, cultural and emotional reconstruction efforts and fury at its murderous perpetrators.  But if we are honest we cannot overlook the morally degenerate reaction of our own political leadership.  I was among those who, briefly, allowed hope to triumph over experience.  I praised President Bush’s initial address to the nation and ignored his childish “good vs. evil” and “for us or against us" posturing.  I did not make a big deal over his obvious panic on the day the attack took place.  I supported the war in Afghanistan even though I would have preferred a police and intelligence action.  (And for this I was called a traitor, literally, Little Roy.) 

Even so vociferous a critic of the unelected Bush, Cheney, the Neocons, and the religious right as myself could not bring himself to imagine in that horrific week with the smell of the smoking ruins literally polluting the sky above my house, that America’s president, its vice-president and their advisers would be capable of the following:

* Bush and company specifically ignored multiple warnings of just such an attack.
* Bush and company lied to the heroes of 9/11 about the health and safety implications of breathing the air down at Ground Zero—my own family included.
* Bush and company immediately sought to manipulate the grief and anger of the attacks to launch an unnecessary and counterproductive war against Iraq which has resulted in over a thousand needless American military deaths and U.S. soldiers turning into occupiers and in some case torturers.
* Bush and company lied to the nation about the responsibility for the attack, trying to pin it on Saddam Hussein who had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
* Bush and company allowed its friends in the Saudi royal family to hide its relationship to the killers.
* Bush and company made only a lackluster effort to capture the killers, allowing many to escape at Tora Bora and pulling agents and resources out of Afghanistan to feed its obsession with Iraq.
* Bush and company did everything they could to prevent and later, undermine an investigation of why 9/11 was allowed to happen.
* Bush and company continue to ignore their responsibility to protect the nation from another attack, failing to protect its ports, nuclear and chemical plants, and its most vulnerable urban targets and instead, have actually gone out of their way to inspire more such attacks, despite intelligence warnings  on this very topic.
* Bush and company have destroyed the sympathy our nation enjoyed (and deserved) in the immediate aftermath of the attack and have instead turned that sympathy into global hatred and disgust, further endangering our citizens.
* Bush and company have repeatedly manipulated the powerful imagery of the attacks for their own partisan political purposes.
* Bush and company have repeatedly cowed the media into ignoring, and when that’s impossible, apologizing for, much of the above.

For all of the above, the men and women who people this administration deserved not merely to be repudiated politically but held accountable both morally and legally.  Instead it is they who attack and impugn patriots like lifetime public servants Richard Clarke and Anthony Zinni, whose only crimes were to call them honestly to account for their catastrophic dishonesty, incompetence, and ideological fanaticism.  Since September 11, President Bush and company have accomplished what the terrorists could not; they have divided us against ourselves.  That so much of the mainstream media have proven ineffective-or worse—cooperative with their deceptive efforts give one cause for an even deeper pessimism.  One’s only solace, I suppose, is that we have, as a nation, been through worse—though never, it must be added, under quite such feckless leadership.
[emphasis mine]


Welcome to Fold, Spindle, Mutilate, a great new addition to our blogroll.


I just checked in with my very large and close-knit family to see what they'd decided to do about Hurricane Ivan. Our "family seat," so to speak, is Panama City, Florida, but we're spread out all over the Florida Panhandle and further west along the gulf coast. My son, who's a student at FSU in Tallahassee, has gathered up his wife and one-year-old son and they're on their way to upstate New York, my daughter-in-law's home. My oldest sister, her husband and my 83-year-old mother are on their way east to Jacksonville to ride out the hurricane at the naval base there (remember, we're a military family). My younger sister and her husband have decided not to evacuate. One nephew is helping to move a commercial fishing boat to the Intracoastal Waterway for safekeeping. Other assorted family members are going in various directions or riding it out.

We're nothing if not independent thinkers!


Former California Congressman and Republican Pete McCloskey has endorsed John Kerry. Read the whole thing. Then send it to all your Republican friends -- especially the ones who aren't crazy about Bush but worry about Kerry.

Although I'm a lifelong Republican, I will vote for John Kerry on Nov. 2. The choice seems simple under traditional principles of the Republican Party.

I first met John Kerry in the spring of 1971. Each of us was just back from Vietnam -- he as a Navy officer and I as a member of Congress -- and were appalled by what we had seen there. I found Kerry to be idealistic, courageous and, above all else, truthful to a fault. He demonstrated courage in Vietnam, but as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said, the courage to speak against prevailing opinion in civil strife is often greater than that demanded on the battlefield.

During Kerry's public career after his election to the Senate, he has clearly grown and matured. I believe he is incapable of deliberate deceit or dissembling. This alone represents a refreshing hope for a return of public faith in our government.

That Kerry has attained the solid support of former Secretary of Defense William Perry, with whom he has worked for years on issues of nuclear proliferation, confirms his ability to study, listen and reach sound judgments.
There are many other reasons to support John Kerry.

McCloskey, a decorated veteran of the Korean War, also has a great op-ed here: "It's time for an apology from Bush to the world."

Monday, September 13


The Hamster reports that according to the Brady Campaign, three-quarters of Americans support a continuing ban on assault weapons. Eric also notes that "when informed of President Bush's failure to renew the assult weapon's ban, a majority of voters move away from Bush" in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

ONE MORE BUSH FAILURE TO PROSECUTE A SMART WAR ON TERROR and protect our police. Could be why Kerry is endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Police Officers and the National Coalition of Public Safety Officers

By the way, did anyone else notice how many times during the Republican National Convention the media noted that Bush was watching Cheney's address from a NYC firehouse local, which has endorsed him for president? Did you hear ONE SINGLE TIME that John Kerry is endorsed by the International Association of Firefighters?


Josh Marshall has a very good post up today re the disappearance of Iraq as an issue in the presidential campaign:

Politically, Kerry needs to ignore the commentators who will press him to come up with a twenty point plan that will immediately rectify the situation in Iraq. Yes, he needs to give an idea of what he'll do if and when he takes over. But the emphasis should be on the undeniable fact that though the way forward may be murky, the last person you want to lead the country down that foggy path is the guy who screwed everything up so badly in the first place. [emphasis mine]

As my friend John Judis noted recently, the key to winning an election is often simply a matter of bringing to the surface of the public consciousness what voters already really know. They know Iraq is a disaster. They know it's President Bush's fault.

It is unconscionable to me that the media has largely shoved the ongoing conflict in Iraq to the back burner or as filler for slow news days. Families of troops in the Middle East should be screaming bloody murder for more information from the professional press about current developments. The names of fallen troops should be listed EVERY DAY on every media outlet. Democratic strategists and progressive pundits alike should be attacking the administration on Iraq, Iraq, Iraq at every opportunity. We need to SEE THE IMAGES as we did during the Vietnam "police action" on television and in our newspapers and newsmagazines. If the professional media won't post them, then we bloggers need to find them wherever we can and fill the Internet with them until the mainstream catches up. (I guess I'm finally going to have to take a few minutes and figure out how to post photographs, huh?) We need to demand to see all those hospitals and schools we've supposedly reconstructed in Iraq. We need to demand an answer to why some of our troops still lack adequate body and vehicle armor. We should be talking about the primitive and dismal conditions under which our troops are conducting this war -- where is all the air-conditioned housing and hot meals they were supposed to be provided by Halliburton at astronomical costs?

The funny thing about republicans

If a fire was burning down one of the houses in a neighborhood and a republican was found at fault for it he would simply say, "You're such a pessimist. Don't you see all the houses that didn't burn down? You're always harping on the negative. Where were you when no houses were burning down? Less houses burn down in America than anywhere else in the world. We have the best fire-fighters in the world. I would be careful not to denegrate the American fire-fighter. They are heroes and anyone that denegrates such heroes should be ashamed of themselves. Many gave their lives for our country on 9/11 and that kind of sacrifice should not be thrown back in the faces of their surviving families! How dare they?! We are doing our best and anyone that says differently can't be taken seriously. We are monitoring the house-burning situation very closely and intend to do all that can be done to avoid house-fires in the future, as we have done in the past.

Quote the reporter, "But it's being said that you simply turned off the alarm at the fire-station when it interrupted your afternoon nap. Do you have any comment?"

Quote the Republican," How you can stand there and suggest the people in charge of the safety of this neighborhood, the people that protect others as an every-day obligation, would allow innocent people to be killed in a fire is the most outrageous, the most irresponsible, the most sickening thing i have heard since entering public office."

Sound familiar?

"A YEAR IN IRAQ" vs. "IRAQ WEEKLY STATUS" (Dept. of State)

I was scanning USAid's report, "A Year in Iraq", and the "Top 10 Achievements" from April 2003 through March 2004 are listed below with some personal notes or references to the State Department's "Iraq Weekly Status" (9/1/04) report:

1. Prevented humanitarian emergency -- delivered 575,000 metric tons of wheat, reforming public distribution system.

["The Public Distribution System food pipeline shows possible shortfalls in all commodities over the course of the next four months." Ed.: In fact, a chart included in the weekly report seems to show zero stocks of everything beginning in October. It's creepy looking.]

2. Created local and city governments at more than 600 communities.

3. Restarted schools

[ed.:they were open until we bombed them]

-- Fixed

[ed.: repainted]

2,500 schools; textbooks to 8.7 million students, supplies to 3.3 million;

[ed.: it's amazing that we could rewrite and reprint their textbooks so quickly, but we don't have enough Arabic translators for the embassy or our troops]

trained 33,000 teachers.

[ed.:if we could train teachers this fast in the U.S.A. it would be called "diploma millism" -- I'm assuming this really means "indoctrinated"]

4. Vaccinated 3.3 million children-- Equipping 600 primary health clinics and rehabilitated 60 others.

[ed.: we vaccinated them against everything against depleted uranium, rocket and mortar fire]

5. Providing safe water -- Expanding Baghdad water purification plant and rehabilitating 27 water and sewage plants.

["Current Projects: The rehabilitation of two wastewater treatment plants in Baghdad continues. These plants will treat nearly 75 percent of the wastewater flow from Baghdad municipality ONCE COMPLETE.]

6. Re-opened deep water port -- Dredged Umm Qasr, repaired equpment. Today it handles 140,000 tons of cargo a month.

7. Restoring electric service -- Repaired eight major power plants with CPA, adding 2,100 megawatts by summer 2004.

[ed.: This is a good one. According to the State Dept. report, the most electrical service provided over a seven-day period to any part of the map was 16 hours (two provinces). Two provinces were listed as "no report" and most of the country was listed as having equal to or less than eight hours. That's in a seven-day period, folks!!!]

8. Helped CPA launch new currency and re-establish Central Bank.

9. Reviving the Marshlands.

10. Established Good Governance -- Budgeting, accounting systems add transparency, accountability to ministries.

About the last three items, I'm near speechless. HONEST BANKING? ENVIRONMENTAL RESURGENCE? TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY? Don't you believe it -- those things were set up by BushCo, and they don't know anything about those issues. If Bush&Co call something "Reviving the Marshlands," then it's bound to mean "Destroying beyond any possibility of restoration." "Good Governance" is more likely to mean "Our Friends & We Govern and You Submit."

There are many more pages about oil production in the State Dept.'s weekly report than about security, health, or any of the other issues most important to Iraqis. There's even as much about the new Iraqi stock exchange (gosh! it traded $2 million worth!).

Sure wish we could count on some mainstream media doing some actual reporting about the discrepancies between what we publicize and what we've actually accomplished. You know, someone whose job it actually is, and has time to devote?

"I did my duty. I was honorably discharged!" Bush proclaimed, as though that proves anything.

Keep this in mind. Convicted D.C. sniper and serial killer John Muhammad served in the Louisiana National Guard from 1978 to 1985. He was twice court-martialed, once for striking an officer, another time for stealing. He was AWOL and spent time in the jail. Muhammad left the National Guard with an honorable discharge.

Hat tip to Democratic Underground.


Corrente has a new, improved version of their "Top 10 reasons Bush should not be elected President." It's simple and speaks to the issues American voters say matter most to them.

Read it. Live it. Talk it. Blog it.


Corrente has a new, improved version of their Top 10 reasons Bush should not be elected President. It's simple and speaks to the issues American voters say matter most to them.

Read it. Live it. Talk it. Blog it.

Sunday, September 12


Courtesy of The Smirking Chimp:

The "man on horseback" mentality, the belief that a leader's strength is more important than where it leads them, defines a population that is vulnerable to dictatorship.

This is not to call Bush a dictator or suggest that he wants to be one. But let no one believe that it couldn't happen here, as has happened so often elsewhere.

It has happened here, and by the design of better statesmen than Bush.


The long-awaited publication of Sy Hersh's new book on the Abu Ghraib abuses:

Senior military and national security officials in the Bush administration were repeatedly warned by subordinates in 2002 and 2003 that prisoners in military custody were being abused, according to a new book by a prominent journalist.


Shorter Colin Powell on Press the Meat: "We're criticized if we choose a military solution and criticized if we pick a diplomatic solution" when asked by Tim Russert about Iran and North Korea. "We're focusing intently on both problems." There's no U.S. president, including a president Kerry, who wouldn't respond to an act of terrorism. What TACTICS he'd use, he said, we don't know. We're the only nation that's called it genocide in Sudan. Aren't we special? Our effort is to HELP the Sudanese government get on the peace track and end these many years of war and help the Sudanese people have a better life.

Shorter Sy Hersh and Bob Woodward: Kerry can't say what he'd do in Iraq because nobody knows what to do in Iraq -- we're well and truly screwed.