Sunday, February 29, 2004

Decreasing Numbers Of Immigrant Scientist Flock To America's Shores. 

Yet another disturbing trend that has resulted from making 9/11 a national holiday to American martyrdom. The phrase “everything changed on 9/11” couldn’t be more true. Not that it had to. Only that we all agreed to make it more important than the Constitution. Maureen Dowd put it perfectly “
Because of 9/11, they think they can suspend the Constitution, blow off investigators, attack nations pre-emptively, and keep Americans afraid by waging a war against terrorism that can never be won.”

You bet. We Americans have done a poor job of educating ourselves. By allowing our public schools to lose importance we are now having to relearn lessons we once learned already in the fifties. One of those lessons is Where We Came From. Think about the results of this new trend. Below, I have compiled a list of what the things we would have to completely rethink if we subtracted immigrants from our history.

Bucking a trend that dates to the end of World War II, the number of foreign students applying to graduate and doctoral programs in science at American universities is declining broadly, according to a survey of 130 such programs released here today.

The findings came as the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, reported that foreign students and scholars hoping to study science or certain technologies at universities in the United States must wait an average of 67 days to receive a visa. For some of them, the delays extend up to a year, the report said.

"It's really what we've been fearing all along," said Vic Johnson, associate director for public policy at the Association of International Educators. "It's the accumulation of a lot of things that is just causing a change in the attractiveness of the United States as a destination for students and scholars."

Fewer immigrant Scholars Come To Our Shores

Here’s a list of some of the things brought to us by a liberal immigration policy. Inventions by immigrant scientists and engineers.

Jet engines
A Space Program
Quantum physics
Rocket boosters
Jet engines
Digital recording
Let’s not forget Rock and Roll.

We have to make sure we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot. Already as many engineering graduates in fields from computer science to biotech are emerging from India and Taiwan as are coming from America. We need to remember to grant asylum. To give chances. To remember our own parents. Surely we all know someone who is a result of an immigrant coming here. What will happen to our natural resource that America used to harvest all the time: Immigrant Inventors? Our Immigration process was hell before 9/11 but now it’s Dickensian. Other countries have lived with terrorism and they didn’t feel the need to radically alter their constitutions or inherent civil liberties.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

 Bush Ejects Two From Bioethics Council Because They Disagree With His Policy. 

George W Orwell, more like

 By Rick Weiss

President Bush yesterday  dismissed two members of his handpicked Council on Bioethics -- a scientist and a moral philosopher who had been among the more outspoken advocates for research on human embryo cells.

 In their places he appointed three new members, including a doctor who has called for more religion in public life, a political scientist who has spoken out precisely against the research that the dismissed members supported, and another who has written about the immorality of abortion and the "threats of biotechnology."

 The turnover immediately renewed a recent string of accusations by scientists and others that Bush is increasingly allowing politics to trump science as he seeks advice on ethically contentious issues.

 Last week, a Washington-based interest group released a report detailing what it called many examples of the administration distorting the scientific process to achieve desired policy answers relating to pollution, embryo research and other topics. Some in Congress, led by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), have also been getting vocal on the topic, as have academics, scientific organizations and science journal editors.

 One of the dismissed members, Elizabeth Blackburn, is a renowned biologist at the University of California at San Francisco. She said she received a call yesterday morning from someone in the White House personnel office.

 "He said the White House had decided to make some changes on the council. He wanted to express his gratitude and said I'd no longer be on the council," Blackburn said.

 She said she had no warning and had not heard from the council's director, University of Chicago ethicist Leon Kass. She said she believed she was let go because her political views  do not match those of the president and of Kass, with whom she has often been at odds at council meetings.

 "I think this is Bush stacking the council with the compliant," Blackburn said.

 The other dismissed member, William May, an emeritus professor of ethics at Southern Methodist University, is a highly respected scholar whose views on embryo research and other topics had also run counter to those of conservative council members. Efforts to reach him last night were unsuccessful.

 Asked why Blackburn and May had been let go, White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said the two members' terms had expired in January, and they were on "holdover status." Asked whether, in fact, all the council members' terms had formally expired in January, she said they had.

 Pressed on why Blackburn and May had been singled out for dismissal, she said: "We've decided to go ahead and appoint other individuals with different expertise and experience." She would not elaborate further.

 Kass, who has written prolifically about biotechnology's toll on human dignity and was selected by Bush to head the council, was traveling yesterday and could not be reached.

 Bush created the council by executive order in 2001 to "advise the President on bioethical issues that may emerge as a consequence of advances in biomedical science and technology." He recently renewed its commission for another two years.

 The group of scholars, scientists, theologians and others has produced several reports, including ones on human cloning, stem cell research and the use of biotechnology to enhance human beings. But the council has often found it difficult to reach consensus on issues.

 The three new appointees are Benjamin Carson, the high-profile director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University; Diana Schaub, chairman of the department of political science at Loyola College in Maryland; and Peter Lawler, a professor of government at Berry College in Georgia. All are respected members of their fields. And their writings suggest their tenures will be less contentious than their predecessors'.

 When not performing some of the most difficult surgeries in the world, Carson is a motivational speaker who often invokes religion and the Bible and has lamented that "we live in a nation where we can't talk about God in public."

 Schaub has effusively praised Kass and his work. In a 2002 public forum discussing the council's cloning report, she talked about research in which embryos are destroyed as "the evil of the willful destruction of innocent human life."

 In a book review in the conservative Weekly Standard in late 2002, Lawler warned that if the United States does not soon "become clear as a nation that abortion is wrong," then women will eventually be compelled to abort genetically defective babies.

 Michael Gazzaniga, a Dartmouth neuroscientist who sits on the council, said he was "upset" by Blackburn's ejection.

 "She was one of the basic scientists who understood the biology of many of the issues we're talking about," Gazzaniga said. "It will be a loss for sure."

 Research editor Margot Williams contributed to this report.


Howard Stern finally turns on Bush, gets silenced in return 

Posted by Jon on Thursday Feb 26, 2004 at 8:12 PM Pacific Time
Disclosure: I am a diehard Howard Stern fan. I generally listen to the entire show, daily, and have done so for about 14 years.

In late 2002 and during much of 2003, Stern was so ridiculously pro-Bush and pro-Iraq War, I almost stopped listening. Almost.

And so it was, then, that I nearly wept with joy on Monday morning when Stern, upon returning from a weeklong vacation, announced: "Over vacation, I read Al Franken's ["Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them"]; it's great. He is phenomenal."

Stern's impromptu ass-kissing session occurred despite the fact that Franken takes a shot at Stern at the very beginning of the book.

"The first page, he insults me," Stern said. "He talks about how Ann Coulter and I are McCarthy-ites. It was just really insulting. And I just said, 'You know, I can get past this, if Al doesn't like me.' I'm not even sure why I'm like McCarthy, but, evidently I am, according to Al. But you know what? If Al says it, it must be true, because I love the book, and he seems to be right on about everything."

And then Stern said the words that made my day: "If you read this book, you will never vote for George W. Bush. ... I think this guy is a religious fanatic and a Jesus freak, and he is just hell bent on getting some sort of bizzaro agenda through--like a country-club agenda--so that his father will finally be proud of him. ... I don't know much about Kerry, but I think I'm one of those 'Anybody but Bush' guys now. I don't think G.W. is going to win. What do you think about that?"

Stern admitted that his change of heart was, in part, brought on because of the FCC crackdown that began after Janet Jackson exposed her breast on television during the Super Bowl Half-Time Show.

On recent shows, Stern had been airing audiotape of the post-breast Congressional hearings, during which Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico), in a ridiculously over-the-top, dramatic performance, lectured Mel Karmazin--CEO of Viacom, the company for which Stern works--about the "nasty" half-time show and how it severely affected her 4th-grade son. Stern subsequently exposed Wilson's poor voting record on gun control and a myriad of other issues, as well as the enormous amounts of money she has accepted from Enron, defense contractors and other special-interest groups, and suggested that perhaps Wilson is more of a threat to child welfare than is the media.

So it's no surprise, then, that against this backdrop, media conglomerate Clear Channel--a Texas-based organization with ties to Bush--announced on Wednesday (2/25) that it had yanked Stern from its radio stations in Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando, FL; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA; Pittsburgh, PA; and Louisville, KY. (It's worth noting that two of those five states--most notably Florida--are still considered "swing states" in the upcoming election.)

Coincidence? Not likely. Stern even hinted during his show on Thursday that some of the behind-the-scenes action that led to his muzzling may have included communications that Wilson--or someone connected to her--had initiated with someone in a position to yank Stern's chain.

"This regime--and I will now call it a regime--has gotten absolutely bizarre. Between Aschroft and Cheney ... and their puppet Bush and Powell and his son [FCC chairman Michael Powell], I mean, this has gone berserk. I mean, I'll be off the air, and I won't be able to talk to you about it anymore, but, listen, it's bad. This is the most unbelievable thing, what's going on, where people are being thrown off the air without a trial."

Stern seemed intent on making the most of however much time he has left to broadcast, telling his listeners: "These fascist, right-wing a-holes are getting so much freaking power, you gotta take back the country. [Those are] my last words to you. I don't know how many more days I have..."

this is scary

Punk Rockers On Voting Drives. Does It Get Any Stranger Than This? 

You know when Punk Rockers are working to raise the vote against you then you’re in trouble. Compare. Here are some lyrics from Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols in 1980.

God save the Queen
the fascist regime,
they made you a moron
a potential H-bomb.

God save the Queen
she ain't no human being.
There is no future
in England's dreaming

Don't be told what you want
Don't be told what you need.
There's no future
there's no future
there's no future for you

Now lyrics from today’s Punk Rockers: “Vote Against Bush.”

From AP, have an excerpt and a link:

Pierced and tattooed rockers are in for a mosh-pit civics lesson this year. Nearly 200 bands are lining up to lambaste President Bush and try to register a half-million voters through the Punk Voter coalition.

These bands say they can harness votes from the average liberal-leaning but disenfranchised punk-rock fan with a combination of politically charged lyrics and constant reminders about civic duty in a time of war.

"If you don't find yourself in the voting booth you may find yourself in combat boots in the desert," said Justin Sane, guitarist and singer for Anti-Flag, one of Punk Voter's most vocal members.

Punk Rockers vs Bush

Hope Springs Eternal- and I Stick My Neck Out And Predict The Next Election. 

From Daily Kos and The Prospect, a little hope. In fact, I have been thinking about this and I don’t know if I should or this will jinx something but I feel I have been so right about so many issues I feel like going ahead and doing this.

I have, of late, been strongly feeling like Bush is not going to be elected to office this year. I have been feeling this actually since the state of the union address which I felt was very weak, very partisan, and largely irrelevant to the lives of most Americans. He appeared staged and over acted a few times and the content of the SOTU address included issues like steroid using athletes. I mean when we have added 1.7 million new people to the poverty scale he is talking about the excesses of literally the highest paid people as a class of workers. Bush must have thought he would score moral points for standing up to athletic substance abuse. But he came off as irrelevant.

His Meet The Press interview was a near disaster and even longtime wingnut Peggy Noonan lamented Bush’s lack of focus and articulate substance. Comparing that with a debate against Kerry like the Kerry I saw the other night and I can’t imagine that Kerry won’t filet him.

Look at the aggregate groups he has thoroughly disaffected. Gays, and I mean this time even the nutty Gay Republicans. Blacks. Union workers. 50 million uninsured Americans. Military families. Reservists. National Guardsmen. Anti-Immigration wingnuts. Fiscal conservatives. Independants. I mean, in an election that was decided on 500 votes, it looks like W has lost a considerable portion of the likely voters. Keep in mind too that a business-before-anyone Republican like Bush always does worse in an election when the likely voter population is up. The Iowa and New Hampshire primaries saw the biggest turnout in decades. Why? Because people are energized to oust the boy king. The turnout this Fall, I predict will be the biggest in recent US history. Add to that that major scientists are coming out against him for manipulating scientific data to satisfy polciy initiatives, however wrong minded. Veterans groups.

I get a sense that the stiff-necking critics, the fumbling, evasive, border-line lying Press Secretary Scott McCleland, things like the right wing attack shows disguised as news programs, all these are beginning to combine into an image of a White House that is so evasive, and so tricky that it will do anything but simply and plainly come clean. The neo-cons no doubt feel that apologizing or admitting wrong assumptions all looks like weakness. I think it makes people suspicious. The smartest, best intentioned people in the world make mistakes and when they do they graciously apologize and get to the bottom of the problems.

Bush starts a en elective war that had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, it turns into one of the worst planned events of all time sand results in the needless deaths and of hundreds of US soldiers and thousands of servicemen. And still no apology. The tax breaks created jobs at a snails pace and nothing he does between now and the election will change the fact that he will be the first president in over four decades to have a negative job creation number. No apology. The Cassus belli turns out to be the false. No WMDs. After a full court press by every member of his cabinet to sell the war, no WMDs. Still, he says he was right anyway.

I think at the end of the day, that will be his biggest mistake. His refusal to admit he was wrong about anything is just not good management.

I could go on, about his Orwellian policy names that are about as opposite as you can be to a policy, is another form of lying. Why does the Clean-Air-Initiative exempt polluters? Why does the Healthy Forest Initiative hurt trees over a thousand years old? But then that’s the whole point- the fact that I could go on and on and I think the war is the final nail in the coffin. Yes, he was bad…yada yada yada…why are Americans dying for health insurance yet we’re painting schools in Iraq?

OK. Long story short. My prediction is that it will not be a close race. Bush will lose and lose big. The die is cast.

Got a slew of them. The first is a yummi poll, from the Arizona State University, showing Bush losing to both Kerry and Edwards in this crucial swingstate. 2/19-22. MoE 4.7% (November results)
Bush 44 (51)
Kerry 46 (33)

Bush 42 (-)
Edwards 43 (-)
Over in Michigan, another swing state but one trending Bluer, Bush also loses to both Kerry and Edwardsd. EPIC/MRA poll. 2/22-25. MoE 4% (12/03 results)
Bush 45 (51)
Kerry 49 (41)

Bush 45 (-)
Edwards 48 (-)

Hope Springs Eternal

Here, of course, I speak of the Hopeful Democrat.

And I'm laying odds that before too long there will be an office in town with "HDC" -- Hopeful Democratic Coalition/Caucus -- stenciled on the door. There will be a Starbucks nearby, of course, and a house account for Cosi-catered lunches. And on this hoped-for day, they will to sit around a big conference table and reminisce about the bad old days, when George W. Bush was in the White House and Tom DeLay was House majority leader. They will hold seminars on how to beat a sitting president when he's got more than $150 million in the bank, or how to win back the House when that seems redistricted out of the realm of possibility.

It's the spring of an election year, so it's hardly noteworthy that politicians are hopeful, but the odd thing about these Hill Democrats is that their hope seems rational, reasonable, and based on something more than just wishful thinking or emotional muscle memory from their majority days. They have a plan, they have money, and they know what they are up against, none of which has been true the last three years. House Democrats have an election plan that shows the potential for some efficacy in a very tough environment, and suddenly they don't find themselves working against a White House whose popularity numbers made it seem, in the words of one leading Democrat, "like fighting back a tidal wave."

"If the president, in the 'in year,' is attacking us before we have a nominee, and he's still trying to consolidate his base, I think there is reason for cautious optimism among Democrats," says one cautiously optimistic Democrat.

The caution is advisable. Republicans have a 228-to-205 advantage in the House, which means that Democrats need a net pickup of 12 seats to win back the House, something most handicapping puts firmly in the long-shot category. Redistricting in Texas alone could add seven seats to the GOP column, but the horses never know the odds. And they look at a recent Kentucky win and see the chance of more to come in South Dakota and Louisiana, when House Commerce and Energy Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin leaves. Among the 45 targeted Republicans, Democrats think they could beat Representatives Rick Renzi in Arizona and Bob Beauprez in Colorado, both freshmen with serious challengers.

But maybe the most noticeable thing is not the new optimism so much as the absence of the old gloom. The disappointment that turned to depression, after Florida in 2000, may finally be in remission.

Friday, February 27, 2004

This'll Get An Answer 

Nearly 5,000 Transportation Department workers face a furlough on Monday, a possible result of two senators using an expiring highway bill to force House Republicans to accept a two month extension of an independent investigation of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

``We all have a choice here to make,'' said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who along with Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., was using the highway bill as leverage to win an extension for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which is scheduled to finish its work on May 27.

He said the choice was between ``minor'' disruptions in highway projects and ``telling the families of those who died on 9/11 that the commission will not be able to complete its work.''

President Bush has agreed to extend the commission's work until July 27, but efforts to legislate that action have met resistance among House Republican leaders, including Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

``There are people that have great concerns about extending the 9/11 commission on our side of the rotunda,'' House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said Thursday. One of those concerns is that the findings of the commission, which is studying the nation's preparedness before the attacks and its response, may come too close to the presidential election.

Had An Abortion? Ashcroft Is Checking. 

First Gays can’t marry. Now they want to know if you had an abortion and what type. This is the party of personal responsibility?

Attorney General John Ashcroft is demanding records of abortions performed on hundreds of women at six Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country, ABCNEWS has learned.

In a motion for discovery filed Wednesday against Planned Parenthood Federation of America — and subpoenas filed the same time against Planned Parenthood affiliates in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington, D.C., western Pennsylvania and the Kansas/mid-Missouri region — Ashcroft is demanding medical records of abortions performed in the last year, some on fetuses aborted early in in the second trimester.

"Ashcroft's actions are a sweeping invasion into medical privacy," Elizabeth Toledo, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told ABCNEWS.

Had An Abortion? US Government Wants To Know

Scalia. Italian For Conflict Of Interest. 

Wow. The duck hunting trip with a likely defendant is not the first time Antonio Scalia, Supreme Court hard right wingnut has caroused with court subjects.

Have an excerpt and a link. This will have to go down the age of perfidy.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the guest of a Kansas law school two years ago and went pheasant hunting on a trip arranged by the school's dean, all within weeks of hearing two cases in which the dean was a lead attorney.

The cases involved issues of public policy important to Kansas officials. Accompanying Scalia on the November 2001 hunting trip were the Kansas governor and the recently retired state Senate president, who flew with Scalia to the hunting camp aboard a state plane.

Two weeks before the trip, University of Kansas School of Law Dean Stephen R. McAllister, along with the state's attorney general, had appeared before the Supreme Court to defend a Kansas law to confine sex offenders after they complete their prison terms.

Two weeks after the trip, the dean was before the high court to lead the state's defense of a Kansas prison program for treating sex criminals.

Scalia was hosted by McAllister, who also served as Kansas state solicitor, when he visited the law school to speak to students. At Scalia's request, McAllister arranged for the justice to go pheasant hunting after the law school event. And the dean enlisted then-Gov. Bill Graves and former state Senate President Dick Bond, both Republicans, to go as well.

During the weekend of hunting in north-central Kansas, Graves and Bond said in separate interviews recently, they did not talk about the cases with Scalia, nor did they view the trip as a way to win his favor.

Scalia later sided with Kansas in both cases.

Hanging With Tony

More Perfidy 

Dennis Hastert is telling the committee looking into why 9/11 happened can not take the time they need to finish the job.

Didn't Bush say he would be totally cooperative?

What are they hiding from? Unsavory facts or bad news close to the election? Former Democratic Senator Kerrey from Kansas is threatening to quit the committee because the White House is stalling.


The candidates hinted that it wouldn't be out of the question. But Kerry looked presidential. He had his shit together. And he could handle rough questioners.

I think Rove must be shitting his pants.

Larry king kept nudging Kucinich about why he is still in the race. "You don't look like you're winning," King. says.

"I will offer a different perspective to the voters and they can decide that not the Press."


Al Sharpton was funny as hell anyway. He should stay in just for the comedy.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Perle Out 

You have to wonder who will be left if Bush is ever elected. Not perle. Not Cheney. Not Powell. Not Rummy. How many neo cons are there?

Andrew Sullivan 

I must admit I have never ever understood organizations like the Log Cabin Republicans. Why would a discrimnated against organization ever join another organization whose biggest affiliation is the Art and Science of Exclusion? I wouldn't join Jews for Nazis. I couldn't understand Hiroshima Survivors For The Bomb. To this day it amazes me that there are actual Gay men who identify with Republican politics.

I reposted Andrew Sullivan's comments about the Gay Marriage Amendment and i want to say to him, "Yes you HAVE been naive. You HAVE been a fool to ever support this administration."

I hope at the end of the day that this was a miscalculation of the tallest order. Because we are actually here. We actually have a president who wants to officially ban Gay Marriage and do so in the Constitution. This is part sad and so silly, I can hardly believe that the rest of the country REALLY thinks this is wise or moral.

Anyway, congrats Mr Sullivan. If only you'd join the Democratic Party.

Maureed Dowd Nails it Again 

I think Ms Dowd puts it perfectly in today's column in the Gray Lady. This president isn't a uniter. He's a divider. A distractor. As one commentator noted on Dailoy Kos, Bush is a gambler. He's a poker player and he'd good at winning big stakes. I can't think of bigger stakes than actually infusing bigotry into the fabric of law. Should the gay community fear something worse next? How about when they have to wear a big "H" sewed to their sleeves?

How long will America support this madness? Read this important fileting of the current strategy behind the latest initiative.

Stations of the Crass

Published: February 26, 2004

The moviemaker wants to promote "The Passion of the Christ" and the president wants to prevent the passion of the gays.

Opening on two screens: W.'s stigmatizing as political strategy and Mel's stigmata as marketing strategy.

Mr. Gibson, who told Diane Sawyer that he was inspired to make the movie after suffering through addictions, found the ultimate 12-step program: the Stations of the Cross.

I went to the first show of "The Passion" at the Loews on 84th Street and Broadway; it was about a quarter filled. This is not, as you may have read, a popcorn movie. In Latin and Aramaic with English subtitles, it's two gory hours of Jesus getting flayed by brutish Romans at the behest of heartless Jews.

Perhaps fittingly for a production that licensed a jeweler to sell $12.99 nail necklaces (what's next? crown-of-thorns prom tiaras?), "The Passion" has the cartoonish violence of a Sergio Leone Western. You might even call it a spaghetti crucifixion, "A Fistful of Nails."

Writing in The New Republic, Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor, scorns it as "a repulsive, masochistic fantasy, a sacred snuff film" that uses "classically anti-Semitic images."

I went with a Jewish pal, who tried to stay sanguine. "The Jews may have killed Jesus," he said. "But they also gave us `Easter Parade.' "

The movie's message, as Jesus says, is that you must love not only those who love you, but more importantly those who hate you.

So presumably you should come out of the theater suffused with charity toward your fellow man.

But this is a Mel Gibson film, so you come out wanting to kick somebody's teeth in.

In "Braveheart" and "The Patriot," his other emotionally manipulative historical epics, you came out wanting to swing an ax into the skull of the nearest Englishman. Here, you want to kick in some Jewish and Roman teeth. And since the Romans have melted into history . . .

Like Mr. Gibson, Mr. Bush is whipping up intolerance but calling it a sacred cause.

At first, the preacher-in-chief resisted conservative calls for a constitutional ban on gay marriage. He felt, as Jesus put it in the Gibson script (otherwise known as the Gospels), "If it is possible, let this chalice pass from me."

But under pressure from the Christian right, he grabbed the chalice with both hands and swigged — seeking to set a precedent in codifying discrimination in the Constitution, a document that in the past has been amended to correct discrimination by giving fuller citizenship rights to blacks, women and young people.

If the president is truly concerned about preserving the sanctity of marriage, as one of my readers suggested, why not make divorce illegal and stone adulterers?

Our soldiers are being killed in Iraq; Osama's still on the loose; jobs are being exported all over the world; the deficit has reached biblical proportions.

And our president is worrying about Mars and marriage?

When reporters tried to pin down White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday on why gay marriage is threatening, he spouted a bunch of gobbledygook about "the fabric of society" and civilization.

The pols keep arguing that institutions can't be changed when, in fact, they change all the time. Haven't they ever heard of the institution of slavery?

The government should not be trying to legislate what's sacred.

When Bushes get in trouble, they look around for a politically advantageous bogeyman. Lee Atwater tried to make Americans shudder over the prospect of Willie Horton arriving on their doorstep; and now Karl Rove wants Americans to shudder at the prospect of a lesbian — Dick Cheney's daughter Mary, say — setting up housekeeping next door with her "wife."

When it comes to the Bushes' willingness to stir up base instincts of the base, it is as it was.

As the Max von Sydow character said in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters," while watching a TV evangelist appealing for money: "If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up." 

E-mail: liberties@nytimes.com

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Greenspan Promotes Cutting Social Security Benefits 

Yes, of course, my Mom's $73 a month in SS is really breaking the treasury.

I didn't elect him. No one did.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan urged Congress on Wednesday to deal with the country's escalating budget deficit by cutting benefits for future Social Security retirees rather than raising taxes.

In testimony before the House Budget Committee, Greenspan said the current deficit situation, with a projected record red ink of $521 billion this year, will worsen dramatically once the baby boom generation starts becoming eligible for Social Security benefits in just four years.

The Scandal That Dares Not Speak Its Name 

Anyone with a pulse knows that Texas Governor Rick Perry is the subject of rumours that are either viscious, or they are absolutely unbelievably true. The allegation is that he is gay and was caught in flagrant delicto with Scott Connor the Secretary of State.

Why would this be news? Well Perry signed the Defense of Marriage Proclamation, when asked if the Texas Supreme Court could rule that sodomy was abominable, he opined that "that was a good ruling". Also, if you haven't notice d the Repugs want to ban Gay marriage altogether.

If it's true it will show the depth of the hypocrisy of the Repugs. William Bennett, who lectures Americans about their appetites is fat as a pig and gambled $8 million dollars away. Rush Limbaugh is a junkie, and Rick Perry is ....Gay?

It defies logic.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Log Cabin Republicans Criticize President Bush’s Support for Anti-Family Constitutional Amendment 

From Their Websites.

February 24, 2004

(Washington)— “Log Cabin Republicans are more determined than ever to fight the anti-family Constitutional amendment with all our resources,” said Log Cabin Executive Director Patrick Guerriero, in response to the President’s announcement that he will push for the anti-family amendment. “Writing discrimination into our Constitution violates conservative and Republican principles. This amendment would not strengthen marriage—it would weaken our nation.”

“As conservative Republicans, we are outraged that any Republican—particularly the leader of our party and this nation—would support any effort to use our sacred United States Constitution as a way of scoring political points in an election year,” Guerriero said.

Hundreds of loyal gay and lesbian Republicans and our allies serve in the Bush Administration, work on his re-election campaign and work for GOP members of Congress. Gay and lesbian Americans serve with distinction and courage in our armed forces—helping fight the war on terror. We are firmly resolved to defeat this amendment and continue our mission to build a Republican Party based on freedom, fairness and equality.

“Today the President has embraced an amendment that is the product of the radical right. They have mastered the art of gay-bashing after decades of practice. Log Cabin bases our opposition to this anti-family amendment on the principles of American freedom outlined in our Constitution. History will not look back kindly on this assault of our Constitution,” continued Guerriero.

The anti-family Constitutional amendment would turn back the clock on gay and lesbian basic rights by denying not only civil marriage, but also civil unions and possibly even domestic partnerships. That is why Log Cabin considers support for this amendment a declaration of war on gay and lesbian families and an attack on our sacred Constitution.

“We are disappointed that some Republicans leaders have abandoned the conservative principles on which this party was built. Liberty, equality and Federalism form the bedrock of Republican values. The President and some other leaders in our party have turned away from these principles to satisfy the radical right in an election year. Simply put, this is politics over principle,” added Guerriero.

Candidate Bush promised in 2000 to be a “uniter, not a divider.” The effort to write discrimination into our Constitution with an anti-family amendment will divide America even further.

Candidate Bush ran as a compassionate conservative. There is nothing compassionate about discriminating against part of the American family. And there is nothing conservative about tinkering with our Constitution.

Candidate Bush ran as a governor who supported Federalism and states’ rights. This anti-family amendment runs counter to both those principles. And it runs counter to what Vice-President Cheney said during the 2000 campaign. Instead of allowing each state to decide this issue on its own, the President is pushing a purely political proposal to appease the radical right.

Pandering to the radical right will alienate the centrist, fair-minded swing voters who will ultimately decide the winner of what promises to be a close Presidential election. The President’s re-election campaign should be centered on fighting terrorism, cutting taxes and jump-starting the economy. Now, following the same failed path of 1992, we hear the echoes of Pat Buchanan that helped lead to the defeat of the first President Bush.

“Leaders of the Republican Party often speak of tolerance for gay and lesbian Americans. We agree with this sentiment, but GOP leaders must remember that actions are more important than words. And this action—to support an anti-family Constitutional amendment—sends a disturbing message that part of our American family should be singled out for discrimination,” continued Guerriero.

Log Cabin understands that sharp disagreements exist about how to recognize gay and lesbian families. This is a new and complex issue for all Americans. We encourage a healthy national dialogue.

Log Cabin Republicans have been loyal members of the GOP. We have been on the front lines with this President through good days and bad days. Log Cabin members believe so strongly in conservative principles that we have stood with this party even when we disagreed on some issues. Our principles have been attacked by the radical right and the far left, but we have stuck with our party. We’re not going to leave this party now, but we will not remain silent while some in the GOP try to use our Constitution as a tool for discrimination.

“Log Cabin’s mission is bigger than any one person, one election or one issue. We will not abandon our conservative principles, even as others toss their principles aside for short-term political gain,” concluded Guerriero.

No matter what happens in the coming months, Log Cabin will stay in the GOP and fight—fight for fairness, liberty and equality. Hundreds of Log Cabin leaders will gather in California this April for our largest national convention ever. And in August, Log Cabin will have a strong presence in New York for the GOP’s 2004 national convention. We will mobilize all our resources and grassroots strength to fight this anti-family Constitutional amendment.


Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest gay Republican organization, with state and local chapters nationwide, a full-time Washington office and a federal political action committee.


From Andrew Sullivan 

WAR IS DECLARED: The president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay citizens and their families. And just as importantly, he launched a war to defile the most sacred document in the land. Rather than allow the contentious and difficult issue of equal marriage rights to be fought over in the states, rather than let politics and the law take their course, rather than keep the Constitution out of the culture wars, this president wants to drag the very founding document into his re-election campaign. He is proposing to remove civil rights from one group of American citizens - and do so in the Constitution itself. The message could not be plainer: these citizens do not fully belong in America. Their relationships must be stigmatized in the very Constitution itself. The document that should be uniting the country will now be used to divide it, to single out a group of people for discrimination itself, and to do so for narrow electoral purposes. Not since the horrifying legacy of Constitutional racial discrimination in this country has such a goal been even thought of, let alone pursued. Those of us who supported this president in 2000, who have backed him whole-heartedly during the war, who have endured scorn from our peers as a result, who trusted that this president was indeed a uniter rather than a divider, now know the truth.

NO MORE PROFOUND AN ATTACK: This president wants our families denied civil protection and civil acknowledgment. He wants us stigmatized not just by a law, not just by his inability even to call us by name, not by his minions on the religious right. He wants us stigmatized in the very founding document of America. There can be no more profound attack on a minority in the United States - or on the promise of freedom that America represents. That very tactic is so shocking in its prejudice, so clear in its intent, so extreme in its implications that it leaves people of good will little lee-way. This president has now made the Republican party an emblem of exclusion and division and intolerance. Gay people will now regard it as their enemy for generations - and rightly so. I knew this was coming, but the way in which it has been delivered and the actual fact of its occurrence is so deeply depressing it is still hard to absorb. But the result is clear, at least for those who care about the Constitution and care about civil rights. We must oppose this extremism with everything we can muster. We must appeal to the fair-minded center of the country that balks at the hatred and fear that much of the religious right feeds on. We must prevent this graffiti from being written on a document every person in this country should be able to regard as their own. This struggle is hard but it is also easy. The president has made it easy. He's a simple man and he divides the world into friends and foes. He has now made a whole group of Americans - and their families and their friends - his enemy. We have no alternative but to defend ourselves and our families from this attack. And we will.
- 1:23:42 PM

Bush's Fuzzy Math 

In a presidential debate nearly four years ago, George W. Bush accused Al Gore of employing "fuzzy math." But increasingly, it's the White House that's being accused of numerical fuzziness on Medicare, the deficit and jobs.

President Bush last year signed a Medicare prescription drug benefit with an estimated price tag of $395 billion. A month later, the White House said the actual cost was more like $534 billion.

In his State of the Union address, the president pledged to halve the deficit by 2009. But his plan largely excludes the cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and does not reflect the long-term impact of Mr. Bush's proposal to make recent tax cuts permanent.

And most recently, White House officials backed off a projection in the president's annual economic report that the U.S. economy would generate 2.6 million new jobs this year.

There's often debate in Washington over numbers, and past administrations have also been accused of fudging it. But the Bush team's math seems unusually sloppy to some long-time observers.

"I have to say, the budget gimmicks this year are so transparent and so obvious, I think they stunned even Republicans," said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group that advocates fiscal responsibility.

Bush’s Fuzzy Math

Gitmo vs Critics 

— Pentagon officials say they do not expect to be able to provide space for representatives of human rights advocacy groups to observe any military tribunals at the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, prompting complaints from those groups that the military is trying to shut out potential critics.

Gitmo So Crowded, There Are No Seats For Critics

Life Under Christians 

From the Gray Lady

Science or Politics at the F.D.A.?

Published: February 24, 2004

In December, two advisory committees to the Food and Drug Administration voted by a 23-to-4 margin to recommend that the agency allow sales of the "morning after" pill without a doctor's prescription. That raised hopes that the agency would promptly approve the change, which would remove a medically unnecessary barrier to obtaining a drug that can help prevent unwanted pregnancies and make abortions less common.

Unfortunately, the latest rumbling from the F.D.A. is not reassuring.

The agency now says it needs an additional 90 days to decide whether to allow timely access to the emergency contraceptive, known as Plan B, by granting over-the-counter status.

Ordinarily, a three-month delay might not be worrisome. But the change faces significant organized opposition from the religious and political right, and the Bush administration has shown a propensity to elevate its ideology and perceived political needs over scientific research, especially when it comes to matters touching on women's health and abortion.

Some 49 Republican members of Congress recently signed a letter to President Bush that argued for the retention of the prescription requirement, citing concerns that removing it might lead to greater promiscuity and sexual risk-taking among teenagers. Those concerns were considered and overwhelmingly rejected by the agency's expert panels as unsupported by existing studies, common sense and real-world experience.

Most worrisome, though, is the likely imminent departure of the F.D.A. commissioner, Dr. Mark McClellan, who was nominated by President Bush last week to run the federal Medicaid and Medicare programs. He should act to approve over-the-counter sales of Plan B before departing, fulfilling his duty to respond to medical evidence, rather than election-year pressure.

For Dr. McClellan to toss this politically thorny but medically clear-cut issue to an interim replacement would hurt not just women, but also the federal drug agency's reputation for scientific integrity, and his own.

Pentagon Opens Criminal Inquiry of Halliburton Pricing 


Published: February 24, 2004

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 — Pentagon officials said Monday night that they have opened a criminal fraud investigation of Halliburton, the giant Texas oil-services concern, in an inquiry that will examine "potential overpricing" of fuel taken into Iraq by one of the company's subcontractors.

A Pentagon official said the investigation is focused on the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, which has drawn fire from critics in Congress since the disclosure in December that Pentagon auditors had found evidence that it had allowed a Kuwaiti subcontractor, Altanmia, to overcharge the government by at least $61 million for fuel shipped into Iraq from Kuwait.

A Pentagon spokesman said the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the criminal investigative arm of the Office of the Inspector General, would act as a result of a referral on Jan. 13 from officials at the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

The disclosure is the latest step in a long-running controversy over the imports, which Halliburton says were made with the approval of the government and were needed because an urgent fuel shortage in postwar Iraq. The company's chief executive until 2000 was Vice President Dick Cheney, and Democrats have sought to capitalize on the controversy over the fuel imports and several other recent negative disclosures by Halliburton.

A Halliburton spokeswoman, Wendy Hall, said the company delivered fuel to Iraq "at the best value, the best price and the best terms." In a statement tonight, Ms. Hall said Halliburton has "not received any notification of a further development in the examination."

Ms. Hall said that "in the current political environment" an investigation "is to be expected." She also said that "it is unfair to accuse Halliburton of paying too much for Kuwaiti fuel when we were told to buy the fuel and given approval to purchase it from a specific supplier."

Monday, February 23, 2004

Plenty Of Money For Iraq. But God Forbid We Should Negotiate For Medicine. 

The Bush administration has rejected a plan by Michigan and Vermont to jointly negotiate lower prescription drug prices from pharmaceutical companies, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Monday.

The two states were the first to pool their resources for buying drugs under the state-federal Medicaid program providing health care to the poor. Michigan has said the pool purchases would save the state millions of dollars. Other states, including New Hampshire, were considering joining.

Granholm, a Democrat, said she was told late Friday that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was rejecting the program as a violation of federal procurement procedures. She said she was waiting for an official rejection letter from the agency before deciding the state's next step.

Survey: Anger Toward Bush Intensifying 

You're not alone

anti Bush fervor

Sun Feb 22, 3:29 PM ET

By NANCY BENAC, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - In Arizona, Judy Donovan says she feels desperate for a new president. In Tennessee, Robert Wilson says he finds the president revolting. In Washington state, Maria Yurasek says she'd vote for a dog if it could beat President Bush (news - web sites).

A subtext to this year's presidential campaign is the intense anger that many Democrats are directing toward Bush, an attitude that has been growing in recent months.

"I've never seen anything like it," says Ted Jelen, a political science professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. "There are people who just really, really hate this person."

Fully a quarter of Americans — mostly Democrats — tell pollsters they have a very unfavorable opinion of the president, more than double the number from last April. When only Democrats are polled, more than half report they feel that way.

Further, in exit polls conducted during Democratic primaries, a sizable chunk of voters have been describing themselves as not just dissatisfied with Bush but outright angry — 51 percent in Delaware, 46 percent in Arizona and New Hampshire, 44 percent in Virginia and Wisconsin.

"They really have a head of steam up against Bush," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. He said the level of political polarization surrounding Bush, the division between Republicans who favor him and Democrats who don't, exceeds even that for President Clinton (news - web sites) in September 1998 during the impeachment battle.

A substantial number of independents who voted in the Democratic primaries expressed anger at Bush as well, exit polls found. For example, almost half of independents in the Delaware primary said they were angry, and about four in 10 in Virginia, Arizona, Iowa and New Hampshire. In Wisconsin, one in 10 of the Republicans who voted in the primaries said they were angry at Bush, and more than twice that many said they were dissatisfied.

Why Does A President Have To Be Asked This? 

from the NYT

After strenuous protests from governors of both parties, the Bush administration said Sunday that it would reconsider tough new rules on the financing of Medicaid that could limit the states' ability to provide health care for millions of poor people.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

From The International Herald Tribune 

Although the Bush administration is hardly the first to politicize science, no other U.S. presidency in recent memory has so shamelessly distorted scientific findings for policy reasons, or suppressed them when they conflicted with political goals, as George W. Bush's has. This is the nub of the indictment delivered last week by 60 prominent scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates. Their statement was accompanied by a separate report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, listing instances where the administration has manipulated science on a range of environmental and other issues.
Bush's supporters promptly denounced the statement and the report as an overdrawn and politically motivated. Tellingly, however, neither Bush's friends nor the White House denied that any of the incidents listed had occurred. All had been reported before in newspapers, trade magazines and scientific journals.
On one issue alone, global warming, the administration belittled, misrepresented, altered or quashed separate reports suggesting a clear link between greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuels. A study detailing the impact of mercury emissions from power plants was sanitized to industry specifications. A study suggesting that a Congressional clean air bill would achieve greater pollution reductions than Bush's plan, at similar cost, was withheld. It does not take a genius to find the pattern here aimed at suppressing information that might force Bush's friends in the oil, gas and coal industries to spend more money on pollution control.
The report also criticizes the administration for stacking advisory committees with industry representatives and disbanding other panels that provided unwanted advice.
This material provides a portrait of government-wide insensitivity to the spirit of scientific inquiry that, unless corrected, will further undermine the administration's credibility and the morale of its scientific personnel.
Although the Bush administration is hardly the first to politicize science, no other U.S. presidency in recent memory has so shamelessly distorted scientific findings for policy reasons, or suppressed them when they conflicted with political goals, as George W. Bush's has. This is the nub of the indictment delivered last week by 60 prominent scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates. Their statement was accompanied by a separate report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, listing instances where the administration has manipulated science on a range of environmental and other issues.
Bush's supporters promptly denounced the statement and the report as an overdrawn and politically motivated. Tellingly, however, neither Bush's friends nor the White House denied that any of the incidents listed had occurred. All had been reported before in newspapers, trade magazines and scientific journals.
On one issue alone, global warming, the administration belittled, misrepresented, altered or quashed separate reports suggesting a clear link between greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuels. A study detailing the impact of mercury emissions from power plants was sanitized to industry specifications. A study suggesting that a Congressional clean air bill would achieve greater pollution reductions than Bush's plan, at similar cost, was withheld. It does not take a genius to find the pattern here aimed at suppressing information that might force Bush's friends in the oil, gas and coal industries to spend more money on pollution control.
The report also criticizes the administration for stacking advisory committees with industry representatives and disbanding other panels that provided unwanted advice.
This material provides a portrait of government-wide insensitivity to the spirit of scientific inquiry that, unless corrected, will further undermine the administration's credibility and the morale of its scientific personnel.


Bush Administration officials were caught altering reports for political purposes.

The Bush administration says it improperly altered a report documenting large racial and ethnic disparities in health care, but it will soon publish the full, unexpurgated document.

"There was a mistake made," Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, told Congress last week. "It's going to be rectified."


Bush May Be Attacking Kerry From A Position Of Weakness. 

From San Diego Tribune

That credibility also has been undercut by controversy over Bush's National Guard service and by a budget that contains overly optimistic numbers on the deficit and doesn't include funds to pay for ongoing war operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was further eroded when the White House had to back away from its forecast for new jobs in the next year. And this week, 60 top U.S. scientists accused the White House of manipulating scientific facts to push Bush's political agenda.

But the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq has caused the most damage.

"Credibility is very important to George W. Bush, and the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction . . . casts doubt on that," said professor Stephen Wayne of Georgetown University. "It makes him just another politician."

Pollster John Zogby said: "People are finding it difficult to believe him on WMD. Americans were sent into Iraq on a false premise by a president for whom Americans had high expectations . . . on those basic kinds of values like integrity. So there is a sense out there that those expectations have been dashed."

People Suspicious Of Bush

President’s Radio Address A Portend For Election Theme. 

OK. Just thee paragraphs of Bush’s Radio Address will give you what this entire election will rest on.

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week I traveled to Fort Polk, in Louisiana, to visit with soldiers and family members who are giving vital service in the war on terror. Fort Polk is home to some of the Army's oldest and finest units. Since September the 11th, 2001, Fort Polk has trained and deployed more than 10,000 troops to fight the terrorist enemy worldwide, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thanks to their bravery and skill, America is waging this fight with focus and determination.

Over the last 29 months, many terrorists have learned the meaning of justice. Nearly two-thirds of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed. The terrorists are on the run, with good reason to fear what the night might bring. Success in the war on terror also requires that we confront regimes that might arm terrorists with the ultimate weapons. America is determined to meet this danger, and to deny terrorists and dangerous regimes the ability to threaten us with the world's most deadly weapons…

…Two-and-a-half years ago, on a clear September morning, the enemies of America brought a new kind of war to our shores. Three days later, I stood in the rubble of the Twin Towers. My resolve today is the same as it was then: I will not relent until the terrorist threat to America is removed.

Thank you for listening.

Bush In Trouble 

From The Gray Lady, an article about Bush’s waning support.

"The strong Republicans are with him," a senior aide to Senator John Kerry said of Mr. Bush. "But there are independent-minded Republicans among whom he is having serious problems."

"With the nation so polarized," he added, "the defections of a few can make a big difference."

In the interviews, many of those potential "crossover" voters said they supported the invasion of Iraq but had come to see the continuing involvement there as too costly and without clear objectives.

Many also said they believed that the Bush administration had not been honest about its reasons for invading Iraq and were concerned about the failure to find unconventional weapons. Some of these people described themselves as fiscal conservatives who were alarmed by deficit spending, combined with job losses at home. Many are shocked to find themselves switching sides.

While sharing a sandwich at the stylish Beachwood Mall in this Cleveland suburb, one older couple — a judge and a teacher — reluctantly divulged their secret: though they are stalwarts in the local Republican Party, they are planning to vote Democratic this year.

"I feel like a complete traitor, and if you'd asked me four months ago, the answer would have been different," said the judge, after assurances of anonymity. "But we are really disgusted. It's the lies, the war, the economy. We have very good friends who are staunch Republicans, who don't even want to hear the name George Bush anymore."

Bush Losing Support

You Can’t Skip Vietnam Twice. 

Even the name of this opinion by Frank Rich is Brilliant. He examines the attacks that bare about to heaped upon Kerry, war hero, from Bush, skipped service in the Texas Air National Guard.

Have an excerpt and a link.

But we're not in '92, '96 or 2000 anymore. American troops are once again fighting a war of choice — and this time the National Guard is seeing combat, lethally so. Mr. Bush's Tom Cruise pose of May, so fetishized among his partisans that an ad in National Review hawks a bronze replica at $1,995 a pop, makes an unexpectedly striking visual contrast with Mr. Kerry's Tom Cruise role of 30-some years earlier. In the Kerry Vietnam flashback we hear his most famous line as a protester, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" While few Americans believe that it was a mistake to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the question hangs in the air anyway in 2004. It hangs over those American soldiers who have died since his overthrow, who have died since the triumphal Bush "Top Gun" remake declared "mission accomplished."

In this cultural battlefield, Mr. Kerry is a unique figure as a presidential candidate. Unlike Mr. Bush, Mr. Gore or Mr. McCain, he is the first in either party to have been both a leader in combat in Vietnam and a leader in the antiwar movement; he represents both the establishment that fueled our misadventure in Southeast Asia and the counterculture that changed America, for better and for worse, in revolt against it. To his critics he's hypocritical, but to many others he may be prototypical. It took years of body bags and falsely optimistic White House predictions for an American majority to turn against the war. Once the country did change its mind, however, it stayed changed. To argue now that antiwar protesters were traitors, especially those who took bullets for their country in the Mekong Delta and saved their buddies' lives, could be a tough sell…

In response to Tim Russert two Sundays ago, Mr. Bush said that the only troubling lesson he had learned from Vietnam was that "we had politicians making military decisions." Given that his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, has made military decisions about Iraq much as Robert McNamara did in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, it's not clear how well he learned that lesson. But in any event, the real problem for Mr. Bush is that he seems tone-deaf to the other echoes of Vietnam in our home-front culture as the postwar war drags on: polls that show that half the country now thinks the Iraq war was "not worth fighting," the return of a "credibility gap" about the war's progress and origins, the fogginess of the exit strategy, the class differences between many of those who return from the war in coffins and those who sent them there.

"The issue is settled" has been the White House press secretary's mantra when badgered about the president's military service. You have to wonder if the issue would have come up at all had Mr. Bush not set the stage for Iraq-Vietnam parallels by wearing the fly boy uniform of his own disputed guard duty while prematurely declaring victory last spring. But that's the way it always is with Vietnam. To paraphrase a totemic line that Francis Coppola wrote for "Godfather III" but that would be even more appropriate to "Apocalypse Now": just when we think we are out, it pulls us back in.


Kerry in Vietnam vs Bush and Vietnam

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Osama Boxed In? 

From The Sunday Telegraph

Bin Laden 'boxed in' by US soldiers

OSAMA bin Laden is reportedly surrounded by United States special forces in a mountain range that straddles north-west Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Internationally respected investigative journalist and author Gordon Thomas says the al-Qaida terror group leader has been sighted for the first time since 2001 and is being monitored by satellite.

In a report to be published in a British newspaper, Thomas says bin Laden is in a mountainous area to the north of the Pakistani city of Quetta.

The region is said to be a stronghold for bin Laden supporters and the terror kingpin is estimated to have 50 of his fanatical bodyguards by his side.

Thomas attributes his report to "a well-placed intelligence source" in Washington who is quoted as saying: "He (bin Laden) is boxed in."

The area makes an all-out conventional military assault impossible, according to the report.

The plan to capture him would depend on a "grab-him-and-go" operation.

"US helicopters already sited on the Afghanistan border will swoop in to extricate him," the report says.

It continues by saying bin Laden and his men "sleep in caves or out in the open".

"The area is swept by fierce snow storms howling down from the 3000m-high mountain peaks. Donkeys are the only transport."

The US special forces are "absolutely confident" there is no escape for bin Laden and are waiting for the order to snatch the shadowy terrorist leader.

The timing of that order will ultimately depend on President George Bush, the report says.

"Capturing bin Laden will certainly be a huge help for him as he gets ready for the election.

"It will be an even bigger bonus than getting Saddam."

The article goes on to say bin Laden's movements are continually monitored by a US National Security Agency satellite positioned over the land in which the wealthy Saudi is trapped.

Joint chiefs of staff chairman General Richard Myers said last week the US had been engaged in "intense" efforts to capture bin Laden.

But General Myers insisted that the focus of the search had not narrowed for months.

"There are areas where we think it is most likely he is, and they remain the same," he said. "They haven't changed in months."

Asked where bin Laden was hiding, General Myers said: "We think in that border region somewhere. We don't know precisely."

Bin Laden's whereabouts were discovered, according to the report, when US Central Intelligence Agency analysts – geographers and soil experts – studying the background in the al-Qaida boss's latest video suggested it matched rocks in the Toba Kakar ranges.

CIA agents, working with Pakistani guides, went from Afghanistan to the region to take photographs and bring out rock and soil samples.

These were flown to Washington where the CIA analysts electronically matched them to the video background.

A two-man special forces surveillance unit infiltrated the area.

"Within a week, they had picked up the first clues that bin Laden was around," according to a source quoted in the report.

"Other teams then slipped into the area.

"No helicopters were used, to avoid any alert."

Once the area was sealed, the special forces troops watched and waited for the order to go in and end the largest manhunt in history.

Bin Laden, head of the fanatical Muslim al-Qaida group, is alleged to have masterminded the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington.

Conspiracy Theory Corner 

I just an article in Asia Times and another in a British pub that seem to indicate that Coalition forces in Afghanistan know exactly where Osama Ben Laden is. Now, while I am glad about all that I also wonder why now?

Because if we could pinpoint him this close to the election, couldn't we have pinpointed him a year ago? if it were any other president I would have said "OK don't be so cynical."

Are we going after him because the Bushies are trying to time his capture so that Bush will get an election year bounce in the polls?

If we produce him, and Iraq still looks like a mess and it does, will it help Bush at all?

Bush Versus Reality 

Like many critics of the Bush administration, mark Green from Alternet makes a point that the problem is more than ideological. The process itself of making policy doesn’t allow room for discussion dissent or flexibility. He also makes note of Bush’s ability to ignore the elephant in the living room.

Have a notable excerpt and a link.

Bush’s reality gap

First, George W. Bush begins any policy consideration with three fundamental questions: What does the religious right want? What does big business want? What do the neo-conservatives want? If he's stood up to any of these core supporters in the past three years, examples don't come readily to mind. Convinced by political advisor Karl Rove that the way to a second term is to "activate the base," his policy process is more catechismic than empiric – instead of facts leading to conclusions, conclusions lead to "facts."

Second, he is openly uninterested in learning and reading – the Bushes "aren't serious, studious readers" he's said, also admitting that he now reads headlines, not articles. The point is not that he's stupid, only that he knew less about policy and the world as a presidential candidate than the average graduate student in government. Lacking Eisenhower's worldliness or JFK's intellect, however, Bush is prone to grab onto a politically useful intellectual framework like a life preserver and then not let go – whether it's Myron Magnet's sour interpretation of the 60s in "The Dream and the Nightmare" or Paul Wolfowitz's Pollyannaish analysis of the likely consequences of an American invasion of Iraq.

The result: the most radical, messianic and misleading presidency of modern times. Frankly, no one else comes close. It's gotten to the point that President Bush appears to believe that he can do almost anything if he says the opposite: hence "no child left behind," "clean skies law," "healthy forests," and "love the poor" are mantras repeated in the hope that he can bend reality to his will. Arthur Miller calls it "the power of audacity."………..

Whenever President Bush is now confronted with an unacceptable reality, he either changes the subject – is steroid use really more important than the environment? – or expresses confidence in his certainty. "I'm absolutely confident that..." he'll say, as if the issue is his determination rather than his conclusion. One is reminded of Igor in Young Frankenstein, who when asked about the foot-high hump on his back blithely answers, "What hump?"

Friday, February 20, 2004

Mamma Mia!!!!! 

In a hypothetical presidential contest, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry leads President George W. Bush by 12 percentage points among likely voters, 55% to 43%, while North Carolina Sen. John Edwards leads Bush by 10 points, 54% to 44%. According to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, these figures represent a significant improvement in the Democratic candidates' strength from 10 days ago, when Bush had a one-point lead over Kerry and a four-point lead over Edwards.

It's Good News Friday. 

Are You Optimistic?

By Don Hazen, AlterNet
February 19, 2004

Someone asks me that question virtually every day. Or sometimes, "How do you think things are going?" – as my expat friend David put it hopefully, shortly after getting off a plane from Bali. Even without any context, I know immediately what the questioner is referring to.

I can't remember the last time conversational shorthand carried such a clear and instant meaning. When I answer, "Yes, I am optimistic," it's another small vote for the belief that something a lot of people care very much about – regime change in 2004 – may be possible.

People don't ask me these questions because I have insider information or because I'm a sage. But due to my work in independent media and progressive politics, I pay more attention to and have more information about the subject than most of the questioners. If I am optimistic, they figure, it probably means that others like me are also feeling that way. And so, feeling more hopeful and upbeat, they carry the answer away and share it with friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances. The spreading of optimism is contagious.

This exercise can collectively be called "team confidence building." The team is made up of untold millions who want George W. Bush out of the White House so badly they can taste it. They are disgusted and appalled. Then there are people like my friend David, who has grown weary of trying to explain to incredulous people abroad, who have such affection for the United States, that George Bush doesn't really represent most Americans.

Out of Whack

Right now, many Americans feel that something is fundamentally out of whack in the country. There is a "disturbance in the field," that is gnawing at the collective psyche and making people a little crazy with frustration. They have an overwhelming desire to do something concrete to address their anxiety and anger – what, they're not sure. Politics is often the art of changing other people's minds, which is not, for the most part, what people like to do in America. We tend to talk to people who think the way we do.

Mind you, the people asking me questions are not naïve about politics. But most always thought, to some extent, that there were checks and balances operating in the system: a feisty media to keep people honest, like during Watergate; a Supreme Court that acted with some collective wisdom, like when it defended women's right to chose; a world event like the falling of the Berlin Wall, that would undermine the excesses of the Cold War.

It used to be that the American public seemed to prefer divided government; if one party controlled the White House, the other major party controlled at least one of the houses of Congress. But as Robert Kuttner underscores in his article, "Stranglehold: The Right-wing Push for a One Party State" in the February American Prospect, not only are Democrats in the minority everywhere, but under House Majority Leader Tom Delay's parliamentary dictatorship we are on the verge of a "near-permanent, partisan lock on government" that would guarantee the "completion of the Bush radical-right project: the dismantling of social investment, regulation, progressive taxation, separation of church and state, racial justice and trade unionism."

There are no realistic checks and balances left; except for electing a Democrat president.

In the face of this grim reality, simply registering a feeling of hope with our peers and being validated is a very concrete step, even if it is preliminary. Keep in mind that just a few months ago the conventional wisdom was that Bush – primarily because of 9/11 and the level of support initially drummed up for the war on Iraq – was virtually unbeatable. Now polls show him not only beatable, but in some cases with John Kerry winning by as many as 8 points. And a majority of those polled express a negative opinion about Bush's conduct of the Iraq war.

Should We Hope?

Why are so many people feeling more optimistic? Are they being realistic? There are a number of reasons for the growing surge of hope: The war in Iraq is going poorly; the President's National Guard record is being scrutinized and ridiculed; the media is sinking its teeth into more substantive issues; and first one, and now perhaps two, Democratic candidates have emerged with the broad sense of electability.

As the New York Times succinctly puts it: "Republicans had expected Mr. Bush to enter the general election campaign benefiting from his leadership in the war on terrorism. But the continued deaths of American troops in Iraq, the apparent absence of stockpiles of banned weapons there and the questions about Mr. Bush's service in the Guard in the Vietnam era have all eaten into his support, left the White House scrambling and emboldened Democrats."

Furthermore, the President's performance in the State of the Union address got universally poor reviews for its overbearing partisanship and lack of majesty. Basically, not very presidential. More recently on "Meet the Press," where he appeared to counter bad news on several fronts, he was repetitive and evasive, suggesting perhaps that the President may not be as durable the second time around.

The job situation also falls into Bush's bad-news category. Despite heavy pump priming, the economy is failing to produce new jobs and the growing trend toward "outsourcing" – American corporations shipping white-collar jobs overseas – is emerging as a major issue in which Bush could lose some of his white male "Reagan Democrat" support.

Another anti-Bush confidence builder is the fact that the establishment media is asserting itself in ways it failed to during Campaign 2000.

In the March issue of The American Prospect, Michael Tomasky and Eric Alterman suggest that the media is rousing itself from its long torpor. In the first week of February, they write, "... the media started raising new questions about the justification for the Iraq War; broke an important story about the administration knowing last fall that the Medicare bill would cost $134 billion more than it let on ... broke another probe of alleged bribes at Dick Cheney's Halliburton; and finally, led by the Boston Globe's Walter Robinson, started to take a ... look into George W. Bush's disputed National Guard record."

Absent without Leave

The National Guard issue has become the biggest media buzz of the moment, instigating a relentless search for anyone who may have spotted George Bush during his time with the Alabama National Guard. This loopy tale of dental appointments and $1,000 rewards for Bush sightings is being built into a master narrative by the late-night talk show hosts, and may have the same consequences as the absurd canards that were pinned to Al Gore in 2000. (He invented the Internet; he was the source for the book, "Love Story.")

Other media are joining the AWOL fray. Even CNN has noted that Bush was called the "Texas Soufflé" by staffers who worked with him on the Alabama political campaign back in 1972: "He looked good on the outside but was full of hot air." The former staffers report that "Bush used to breeze into the campaign office around noon each day, regale everyone with stories of his big political connections for a couple of hours, then leave."

The Kerry Quotient

Perhaps the biggest confidence builder among the anti-Bush troops has been John Kerry's steady march to the Democratic presidential nomination, with a majority of voters choosing Mr. Electability in primary after primary. John Edwards' solid second-place finish in Wisconsin suggests that his message, too, is resonating. In any case, a healthy contest between them over the next weeks benefits the Dems, keeping both candidates at the center of the news cycle and preventing the Bush campaign from training its guns at any individual Democratic candidate.

How did Kerry get the mantle of electability after being far behind Dean in the polls in New Hampshire and an also-ran in Iowa? This point will be heavily debated. Many critics insist that the corporate media decided that Kerry was their man, while pummeling Howard Dean into smithereens. The mistreatment Dean received from the media made many voters worry that he would be unelectable – and whether or not they agreed, they obviously took it into account when they cast their ballots.

An irony, and source of ambivalence to some, is the fact the Kerry is quite acceptable to the media establishment – part of the reason he is headed to the nomination and part of the reason he may well win the White House in November. The news that Kerry has been close to the media moguls (his brother is a lawyer for the cable TV industry) and heavily funded by them (even the rightwing Fox's COO, Peter Chernin, is contributing handsomely to his campaign) is oddly reassuring when regime change is the primary goal. This fact of media acceptability and corporate media support won't make media reformers happy, but it's good news for women, gays, parents, union members, poor people, civil libertarians and on and on.

Regime change enthusiasts regard Kerry as a strong enough candidate; he is generally in sync with a large number of Democratic voters on most issues, he has gobs of experience, and he has a presidential bearing.

And of course, he is a war hero.

The voters may have been prescient in picking Kerry, because every day that the hunt for a Bush National Guard sighting intensifies, John Kerry's medals and heroism in Vietnam shine more brightly. If Edwards catches fire, some of these factors change, but nobody's claiming that the Bush people would be happy to see the attractive, articulate moderate with a social conscience at the top of the ticket, or in second place, which is increasingly likely.

ABBA's Chances

The ascension of Kerry signifies that there are clear splits in the establishment that go beyond the normally liberal sectors, such as Hollywood and technology. The parts of the corporate sector making the big bucks on Iraq and heavy military spending (Halliburton, Bechtel, defense contractors, big oil and gas interests) will be die-hard Bushies. That is where their bread is buttered.

But for much of corporate America, there's more to life than big tax cuts. There are many blends of capitalism, and the ideology-driven White House brand with reckless spending, out-of-whack priorities, rampant environmental degradation, preemptive war and gigantic deficits does not sit well with many smart, rich, powerful people in America. Just read some of the editorials and review the coverage in Conde Nast 's Vanity Fair – an establishment icon – and you get a hint of the contempt percolating at the higher levels of society.

No one is saying the election is a lock for the Democrats. A lot can happen between now and November, and no doubt will. Dick Cheney may be dumped for Rudy Giuliani or even Condoleezza Rice; Osama bin Laden may be plucked from a cave or evidence of his death discovered. There could even be some kind of domestic terrorist attack.

A few months ago, any of these events would have sent shudders up the spine of regime change adherents, but today, there is a sense that even major obstacles can be handled. Slowly and steadily the Anybody But Bush Again team is growing in size and confidence, crossing lines of class and race, and potentially setting the stage for a restoration of balance to the American system of democracy.

Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet, currently on leave.

1950 Redux 

It’s sad really. How Gay marriage has become as Bob Maher puts it “a wedge issue” in politics. Really, we have millions more Americans on welfare. We have 50 million Americans with no health insurance, we have millions who have simply stopped trying to find work, and this Presidential race runs on an issue anchored in the most basic and ugly bigotry I can think of.

Here in Texas, a Republican running for congress calls himself “The most conservative Republican in Texas…” as if being narrow minded is now a badge of honor. He gestures towards the camera and threatens to “ show you Liberals a lesson you won’t forget!’

That’s where we are today: right-wingers so empowered that it’s OK to threaten me in order to get elected.

This is the most cruel, dishonest, and mean spirited national leadership I have ever seen and this Republican congress will be a black eye on American history.

Gay marriage. I can’t remember a moment in my whole life when I sat and worried about the institution of marriage and how much we need to protect it. Nope. Never felt that. Never lost one iota of sleep on that topic. Never thought that. I always thought an institution was what the people who practiced it did with it. I always though that what people did in the privacy of their homes was their business and not the government’s. I always thought the leadership of the country should be concerned with the actual vital concerns of all Americans instead of just what conservative Christians think. This president has said nothing about the US infant mortality rate climbing for the first time in 20 years. I have heard him say nothing about the increased time the unemployed are staying unemployed. We have seen nothing but spending cuts to unemployment pay, and veterans benefits and spending cuts to 128 programs that actually help people- including cuts to programs that have historically been extremely successful like Head Start. Yesterday a group of Nobel Prize winning scientists came forth to warn us of the administrations across the board cynical and manipulative and selective use of scientific data to promote extremist agendas.

I have to admit too that none of this feels any better when we seem to be living in a time when the Press Corp is virtually asleep. Journalism has taken a back seta to ratings.

It is bloggers on the internet who are keeping the actual stories alive and it is bloggers doing the research. And it is bloggers making the most cogent arguments against this reign of terror.

I actually read newspapers and I knew for 12 years that once a month an Iraqi fire control radar painted a coaltion aircraft in the no fly zone and received, in return, a HARM missile through the antennae.

No one seemed to really give a shit. It was always at the periphery of the news and then suddenly, everyone, overnight was infuriated at the arrogance of Saddam Hussein for ignoring UN sanctions and suddenly everyone was an expert in world history making the claim that Clinton was like Neville Chamberlain and Bush is Like Winston Churchill and somehow Saddam is like Hitler.

Suddenly every dumbass American was repeating the same talking points like this was a fact. That’s where out leadership took us…down a storybook tale of good versus evil and how everything changed on 9/11 and that’s a meme even bigger than the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

It’s a sad day in America when people can be held without charge, indefinitely, and incommunicado just because the President says so.

I don’t know what will happen in this next election, but around me I hear people resigned to what they see as either the inevitability of a Bush win, or the inevitability that he and his machine will do whatever it takes to win.

I don’t know which is more disturbing.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

From The Sorrows Of Empire By Chalmers Johnson 

"The first Iraq war produced four classes of casualties--killed in action, wounded in action, killed in accidents (including "friendly fire"), and injuries and illnesses that appeared only after the end of hostilities. During 1990 and 1991 some 696,778 individuals served in the Persian Gulf as elements of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Of these, 148 were killed in battle, 467 were wounded in action and 145 were killed in accidents, producing a total of 760 casualties, quite a low number given the scale of operations. As of May 2002, however, the Veterans Administration reported that an additional 8,306 soldiers had died and 159,705 were injured or ill as a result of service-connected "exposures" suffered during the war. . . . In light of these deaths and disabilities, the casualty rate for the first Gulf War may actually be a staggering 29.3 percent."

Arriana Huffington 

Bush Rouses The Sleeping Dogs Of The Culture War
Filed February 18, 2004

“I’m a war president,” George Bush told us.

But as the body count in Iraq continues to rise, the president’s approval rating plummets, and the furor over phantom WMD, sexed-up intel, and Bush’s spotty Air National Guard service refuses to go away, it appears Karl Rove is planning a small rewrite for his candidate: “I’m a culture war president.”

Remember that divisive pre-9/11 campaign staple? Well, it’s flared up again — with a vengeance and a rash of new administration actions clearly aimed at shoring up the president’s Christian conservative base.

In the last month, the president has traded in his too-tight flight suit for a revival tent, backing a new anti-obscenity crusade, anti-condom sex-ed programs, a renewed commitment to fighting the drug war, and his attorney general’s efforts to poke around the private medical records of women who’ve had abortions. He even hinted in his State of the Union that he’d be willing to endorse a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

With Silver Starred John Kerry threatening the president’s hold on the high ground of national defense, Team Bush has decided it’s time to switch battlefields and start screaming about Sodom and Gomorrah.

And who has time to talk about the 3 million jobs lost on Bush’s watch when gay couples are trying to make their lifetime commitment legal? Heaven forbid.

You would think the Christian right has more pressing matters to worry about. America now has 35 million people living in poverty, many of them working poor. And Christian conservatives are up in arms about gay marriage?

Maybe they should take another look at the Bible and its admonition that we shall be judged by what we do for the least among us. Indeed, if you removed every reference to poverty in the New Testament, the Good Book would be reduced to little more than a Not Bad Pamphlet. In the words of Rev. Jim Wallis, “The Prophets would be decimated, the Psalms destroyed, and the Gospels ripped to shreds.” On the other hand, there is not a single mention of gay marriage or the need to ban it.

Regrettably, this perversion of presidential priorities is not limited to campaign rhetoric — it extends to how our increasingly limited tax dollars are being spent. Take the administration’s new anti-obscenity push — a blast from our blue-nosed past. Bush’s 2005 budget calls for a boost in funding for government efforts to crack down on the adult entertainment industry — one of the precious few non-terror-related programs to garner a spending increase.

I kid you not: While the White House is cutting back on its housing budget, veterans’ benefits, and the National Institutes of Health, it’s opening up the coffers to make sure you have a harder time downloading the Paris Hilton sexcapade on the Net.

But that’s not even the worst of it. The Justice Department has recently assigned a team of FBI agents to focus exclusively on adult obscenity cases. That’s right, with the war on terror in full swing, our war president is going to have a group of G-men doing nothing but working the porn beat when they could be tracking down — oh, I don’t know — terrorist sleeper cells. Talk about your misguided allocation of manpower. I don’t know about you, but I certainly feel safer knowing the feds are going to be keeping close tabs on Jenna Jameson.

We see the same loopy sense of right and wrong being played out in the Janet Jackson firestorm. Less than two weeks after the shock and bra of the Super Bowl, Bush’s congressional cronies were already holding hearings on the matter. Compare that to the foot-dragging that followed 9/11. It took 14 months — and a candlelight vigil outside the White House by the victims’ family members — before the president finally relented and the 9/11 Commission was created. Now that’s indecent.

For the moral relativists in the Bush administration, the definition of sin seems to depend on whether the sinner can further their political purposes.

So Justin exposing Janet's boob is a sin, but White House staffers exposing Valerie Plame is a win. Profiting from porno is a sin, but Halliburton’s wartime profiteering is a win. Two men getting hitched is a sin, but Cheney and Scalia shacking up in a duck blind is a win. Telling students condoms can prevent STDs is a sin, but lying about WMD is a win. And so, apparently, is GOP staffers hacking into Senate computers and Tom DeLay illegally funneling corporate money to Texas politicians.

The president’s culture war is little more than breasts and circuses. Election-year weapons of mass distraction. Hail to the Panderer-in-Chief.

Sure NASCAR Dads All Support Bush? 

Eye opener-

have an excerpt and a link

Rosita Navarro plans to vote for "Anybody But Bush." But she hates the terms "Republican" and "Democrat." "I wish there was a Neo-Democrat[ic] Party," she says. "Something new."

So perhaps it's not suprising that an impromptu anti-Bush rally brewed, lacking only the picket signs. Doug Shelby was denouncing Bush's policies -- and drawing agreement from the crowd. "We're $500 billion in debt and it's only getting worse!" he shouted.

Overhead, Lee Greenwood sang "God Bless the USA." The crowd started chanting obscenities.

After LeAnn Rimes sang the national anthem, the crowd above the grandstands started cheering; those below booed.

Then Bush's motorcade drove by. One middle finger went up in the crowd, then another, and soon they were everywhere.

As the crowd scattered to their seats, one of the few black fans I spotted at the racetrack ran by and saw me scribbling in my notepad. "Writing for a newspaper?" she asked. Before I could respond, she shouted, "Tell them Bush sucks!" Then she disappeared back into the fray.


Bush vs. Science 

This’ll make you mad. The Bush administration, as I have been pointing out, is willing to defy the very facts of science to subjugate policy to the most ideologically driven goals. What does that tell you about exaggerating WMD data? Or outing a CIA operative? Hell if this administration will go to war based on bullshit, they’ll not stop at science.

More than 60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, issued a statement yesterday asserting that the Bush administration had systematically distorted scientific fact in the service of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry at home and abroad.

The sweeping accusations were later discussed in a conference call organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, an independent organization that focuses on technical issues and has often taken stands at odds with administration policy. On Wednesday, the organization also issued a 38-page report detailing its accusations.

The two documents accuse the administration of repeatedly censoring and suppressing reports by its own scientists, stacking advisory committees with unqualified political appointees, disbanding government panels that provide unwanted advice and refusing to seek any independent scientific expertise in some cases.

Bush Distorts Scientific Facts

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Holy Moly!!!! 

Poll Shows Democrats Beating Bush
VOA News
19 Feb 2004, 01:14 UTC

A new opinion poll says either of the two main Democratic presidential candidates would beat President Bush by at least 10 points if the election were held today.

The poll, published Wednesday by CNN and the USA Today newspaper, shows Democratic front-runner John Kerry beating Mr. Bush by 55 to 43 percent.

Mr. Kerry's main rival, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, holds a 10 point advantage over the incumbent, 54 to 44 percent.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., greets supporters Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2004, in Milwaukee, Wis. Edwards finished a surprisingly close second to Sen. John Kerry
In Tuesday's Wisconsin state primary, Mr. Edwards came in a stronger-than-expected second to Mr. Kerry, a Senator from Massachusetts.

He is now considered Mr. Kerry's main rival after another Democratic hopeful, former Governor Howard Dean of Vermont, dropped ouf of the race on Wednesday.

Dr. Dean ended his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination after failing to win any of the 17 state delegate contests that have taken place so far this year. He came in a distant third in Tuesday's Wisconsin vote.

Senator Kerry has won 15 of these contests, while Senator Edwards has taken one.

Retired General Wesley Clark, who dropped out of the Democratic race last week, also won one state.

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