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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Innocent Children  

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Insurgents detonated three car bombs near a U.S. military convoy in Baghdad Thursday, killing 41 people, most of them children rushing to collect sweets from American troops.

To me, this is the scariest part of this whole war. We have insurgents who are willing to do something this despicable to innocent children. You have to ask yourself this: OK, George W. Bush says we will not waiver. I’m not sure that the rest of us are willing to see these kinds of horrific crimes perpetrated upon children looking for candy. I would pull every one out tomorrow if it would stop this.

The complication? Even if we leave, this might not stop.






Bush Quits National Guard 

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WASHINGTON - The White House said seven months ago that it had released all the records on President Bush (news - web sites)'s stateside military service during the Vietnam War, yet new records are still dribbling out as Election Day approaches.

The White House on Wednesday night produced a November 1974 document bearing Bush's signature from Cambridge, Mass., where he was attending Harvard Business School, saying he had decided not to continue as a member of the military reserve.

The document, signed a year after Bush left the Texas Air National Guard, said he was leaving the military because of "inadequate time to fulfill possible future commitments."





Pentagon Curtails Bad News On Iraq 

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WASHINGTON - The Bush administration, battling negative perceptions of the Iraq war, is sending Iraqi Americans to deliver what the Pentagon calls "good news"about Iraq to U.S. military bases and has curtailed distribution of reports showing increasing violence in that country.

The unusual public relations effort by the Pentagon and the U.S. Agency for International Development comes as details have emerged showing the U.S. government and a representative of President Bush's re-election campaign had been heavily involved in drafting the speech given to Congress last week by interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Combined, they indicate that the federal government is working assiduously to improve Americans' opinions about the Iraq conflict - a key element of Bush's re-election message.

USAID said this week that it will restrict distribution of reports by contractor Kroll Security International showing that the number of daily attacks by insurgents in Iraq has increased. On Monday, a day after the Washington Post published a front-page story saying "the Kroll reports suggest a broad and intensifying campaign of insurgent violence," a USAID official sent an e-mail to congressional aides stating: "This is the last Kroll report to come in. After the Washington Post story, they shut it down in order to regroup. I'll let you know when it restarts."




If We Can’t Torture ‘Em, They Can Do It For Us 

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The Bush administration is supporting a provision in the House leadership's intelligence reform bill that would allow U.S. authorities to deport certain foreigners to countries where they are likely to be tortured or abused, an action prohibited by the international laws against torture the United States signed 20 years ago.

Christopher Dickey On The Day We Lost The War 

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Sept. 29 - I can tell you the week the United States lost the war in Iraq. It was 18 months ago. Baghdad had fallen with almost no resistance. The dictator Saddam Hussein had fled. A U.S. Marine draped an American flag over the tyrant’s statue and then Symbolic Saddam was dragged to the ground, proclaiming Iraq’s freedom with a photo op.




Symposium On War Journalism Very Revealing 

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For David Zucchino, foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and author of Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad, what was most shocking was the soldiers' reactions to "having to kill so many people [so] efficiently."

The floor was soon opened to questions from the audience, who guided the panelists toward speaking about their experiences with the current war in Iraq.

"I always tried to write objectively when I was in Iraq," Zucchino said. "The unit I was attached to was constantly running out of food and water, and I wrote about that. I'm certain that reporters like me helped to solve this war's many problems."

Being in the thick of the fray allowed panelists to be exposed to the battles as they were unfolding.

"This war was a mess," Piore said. "It was horribly executed. There weren't enough troops, and I witnessed countless operations that were wasteful and miserably run."

David Swanson added his perspective as a photographer for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"As a photographer, I couldn't find one positive image in Iraq," Swanson said. "Isn't it obvious that there were no positive outcomes to this war?"




A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE REPUBLICAN" 

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hat tip Kos Comments

From Joe Sixpack



Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffee pot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. He drops the bottle, but it doesn't shatter and send shards of glass into Joe's foot making him fall and crack his kneecap in two because the shampoo bottle's made of plastic, all because some greedy, out-of-control trial lawyer sued enough shampoo manufacturers years ago for negligence so that now all shampoo bottles are plastic and shatterproof -- good thing for Joe.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean, or cleaner than it otherwise would be, because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's work isn't unionized, though, because his employer provides this pay and these benefits because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to unionize.

If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune. If Joe's employer tries to stiff him on workers' comp benefits, Joe knows of a sharp trial lawyer he can go to who will fight like the devil for Joe.

It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state-funded university.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.

The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure that Joe's father could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to. The prescription prices are, regrettably, causing Joe's father a great deal of anxiety, they are high and Joe thinks, "If only those limosine liberals would stop doing the bidding of the pharmaceutical industry and act more like Capitol Hill Republicans who, after all, are fighting for the 'little man' and against the pharmaceutical industry's choke-hold on some of America's most vulnerable citizens!"

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."


Democrats Argue Back 

Democrats Grow Balls

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Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage told the House International Relations Committee that he expected the Taliban to try to disrupt the elections in Afghanistan "perhaps even by attempting a large-scale attack on election day itself," Oct. 9.


Mr. Armitage did not suggest that he thought the elections might fail, or that the new Afghanistan might stumble on the road to democracy. In fact, Mr. Armitage had several friendly exchanges with lawmakers of both parties.

The mood seemed to change when Representative Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, seized on President Bush's declaration in Ohio last week that "as a result of the United States military, the Taliban is no longer in existence."

So, Mr. Menendez asked Mr. Armitage, "did you fail to give the president a briefing that the Taliban is still in existence?"

Mr. Armitage said the president meant that the Taliban "is not shackling 28 million people anymore," not that it had literally vanished.

The reply did not entirely satisfy Mr. Menendez, who said, "I think we have to stop sugar-coating the realities of what is happening in Afghanistan and in our other conflicts and be honest with the American people."



Oddly I Agreed With Dick Cheney Once. What Happened? 

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Dick Cheney, 1992



"I would guess if we had gone in there, I would still have forces in Baghdad today. We'd be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home.

"And the final point that I think needs to be made is this question of casualties. I don't think you could have done all of that without significant additional U.S. casualties. And while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the (1991) conflict, for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it wasn't a cheap war.

"And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam (Hussein) worth? And the answer is not that damned many. So, I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."


Total Canadian Homcides in 2003 Amounted To Less Than All Of Chicago's Homicides. 

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548


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Utter Chaos 


Parents Of War Dead Target Bush  

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Angered by President Bush’s policy in Iraq a group of military families whose relatives died there is targeting the president in new television ads to be aired ahead of the Nov. 2 election.

"I think the American people need to know that we have been betrayed in this rush to war," said Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey is among more than 1,000 U.S. troops who died in Iraq.



Critical Army Officer Being Prosecuted 

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An Army officer in Iraq who wrote a highly critical article on the administration's conduct of the war is being investigated for disloyalty -- if charged and convicted, he could get 20 years.


The Wounded We Hear So Little About 

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Horrifically Wounded

LANDSTUHL, Germany—At the U.S. military hospital on a wooded hilltop here, the cost of the Iraq war is measured in amputated limbs, burst eyeballs, shrapnel-torn bodies and shattered lives.

They're the seriously wounded U.S. soldiers who arrive daily at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a growing human toll that belies American election talk of improving times in Iraq.

They're the maimed and the scarred that hospital staff believe are largely invisible to an American public ignorant of their suffering.

"They have no idea what's going on here, none whatsoever," says Col. Earl Hecker, a critical care doctor who trained at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital.


Army NCO Serving Essays That We Cannot Win This 

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US Army Officer Writes Why He Believes We Cannot Win This
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First, we refuse to deal in reality. We are in a guerilla war, but because of politics, we are not allowed to declare it a guerilla war and must label the increasingly effective guerilla forces arrayed against us as "terrorists, criminals and dead-enders."

This implies that there is a zero sum game at work, i.e. we can simply kill X number of the enemy and then the fight is over, mission accomplished, everybody wins. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We have few tools at our disposal and those are proving to be wholly ineffective at fighting the guerillas.

The idea behind fighting a guerilla army is not to destroy its every man (an impossibility since he hides himself by day amongst the populace). Rather the idea in guerilla warfare is to erode or destroy his base of support.

Bush's Top Ten Flip-Flops  


More Scientists Oppose Bush 

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While Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews and other rock stars sing on a "Vote for Change" concert tour, another disgruntled group - this one of scientists - will crisscross the well-worn landscape of battleground states over the next month, giving lectures that will argue that the Bush administration has ignored and misused science.

The group, Scientists and Engineers for Change, another addition to the flood of so-called 527 advocacy groups that have filled this year's election discourse, announced its existence and plans yesterday in a telephone news conference. At least 25 scientists will give talks in 10 contested states: Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Among the headlining lecturers are 10 Nobel Prize winners, including Dr. Douglas D. Osheroff, a professor of physics at Stanford; Dr. Peter C. Agre, a professor of biological chemistry at Johns Hopkins; and Dr. Harold Varmus, former director of the National Institutes of Health.




Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Something rotten in the state of Florida  

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Pregnant chads, vanishing voters... the election fiasco of 2000 made the Sunshine State a laughing stock. More importantly, it put George Bush in the White House. You'd think they'd want to get it right this time. But no, as Andrew Gumbel discovers, the democratic process is more flawed than ever.

Morgan Stanley Worries About World/US Economy 

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Several potential implications of this new world order worry me the most: First, there is the growing risk of politically-inspired protectionism in the US. A saving short economy will continue to suffer from large current-account and trade deficits -- putting unrelenting pressure on job creation. Washington -- even though it is creating these problems with a penchant for deficit spending -- will look to scapegoats in the arena of foreign trade. US Treasury Secretary John Snow’s recent broadside aimed at Chinese currency policy is especially worrisome in that regard. Second, China is hurtling down an increasingly unstable path by mismanaging its domestic and international finances. Inflation is now on the rise in this overheated economy and could well continue to accelerate until China shifts its macro policy settings (monetary, fiscal, and currency) into restraint. A failure to do that is a recipe for the dreaded hard landing. Third, Europe is being squeezed harder and harder. Asia’s dollar pegs means that the euro has to bear a disproportionate share of any dollar depreciation -- a depreciation that is a perfectly normal outgrowth of any US current-account adjustment. Europe’s economic malaise is a source of considerable political angst in that region. As a consequence, continued Asian currency pegging and dollar-buying could raise the likelihood of European protectionism -- especially toward Asia.





Former soldiers slow to report  

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WASHINGTON — Fewer than two-thirds of the former soldiers being reactivated for duty in Iraq and elsewhere have reported on time, prompting the Army to threaten some with punishment for desertion.

The former soldiers, part of what is known as the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), are being recalled to fill shortages in skills needed for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of the 1,662 ready reservists ordered to report to Fort Jackson, S.C., by Sept. 22, only 1,038 had done so, the Army said Monday. About 500 of those who failed to report have requested exemptions on health or personal grounds.


French Fight Terrorism Better Than We Do 

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Europeans Do A Better Job Of Fighting Terrorism.



After the attacks in Madrid, Spaniards reacted with a demonstration of collective resolve that brought 10 million people to the streets to protest the terrorists, as well as Spain's involvement in Iraq. The new government deployed investigators to follow up leads and penetrate Moroccan cells with purported links to Al Qaeda, which turned out to be behind the attacks.

Antiterrorism police have arrested 68 people in connection with the train bombings, including 20 believed to have been directly involved. The suspects are alleged to form a web that ranges from Moroccan cell-phone store owners who perhaps unwittingly helped the terrorists obtain and program phones used to trigger bombs, to Spanish nationals who helped secure some of the explosives, to a core of 20 militants who more actively took part in planning and coordinating the bombings.

The core cell has been dismantled, according to Spanish law enforcement officials. A suspected mastermind of the operation, Rabei Osman Ahmed, is awaiting extradition from Italy under a new EU extradition agreement. A second purported coordinator is in custody in Spain and a third was killed when he exploded a bomb as police tried to capture him, authorities said.

German and French counter-terrorism officials have also made significant gains in disrupting Islamic militant cells through sweeps and key arrests. However, these countries have also suffered setbacks in obtaining convictions. In some cases this is because the FBI and CIA are reluctant to share intelligence on Al Qaeda; in others it is because the kind of information obtained by the United States is deemed inadmissible in European courts.

The Zapatero government has worked to build bridges with the immigrant Muslim community, , and the new foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, has gone on a diplomatic offensive to improve ties with its neighbor, Morocco, and other Muslim countries, relations that were frayed by Aznar's support for the war.

Many European analysts say they believe the Bush administration has manipulated the emotions of Americans by playing up the fear of terrorism with its system of alerts and its rhetoric. European observers wonder why the American public has not reacted against this, and, based on the findings of a recent trans-Atlantic opinion poll conducted for the German Marshall Fund, a large majority of Europeans hope American voters will react by choosing John F. Kerry over Bush in November.


Mr Gallup High On Crack 


Study Indicates People Have About Had It With War On Terror 

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WASHINGTON, Sep 28 (IPS) - Three years of the Bush administration's ''war on terrorism'' appears to have reduced the appetite of the U.S. public and its leaders for unilateral military engagements, according to a major survey released Tuesday by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR).


Krugman Predicts Network Debate Bias 


Pentagon Hires Mercenary, Sells Him Out 

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On September 16, Jonathan Idema was convicted in Afghanistan on charges of torture and other crimes. Idema was arrested after Afghan police found eight men tied up or hanging in his private prison in Kabul. Idema, a former member of the US Special Forces, claimed that he was acting at the behest of sections of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the US Defense Department, including deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence General William Boykin…

… But that could not have happened. After the Iraqi prison abuses in Abu Ghraib became public, and the Pentagon went into full swing to control the damage before it reached the top, the Idema case was a non-starter. Already the stench of prison abuse and the torture and death of detainees in Afghanistan had begun to make the rounds. Washington found it necessary to shut down the Idema-run operation, put him to trial in a kangaroo court in an occupied country, and send him to jail for 10 years.


Monday, September 27, 2004

Republicans Outsource Vote Count To India  

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When the Republican Party clinched close gubernatorial races in Mississippi and Kentucky in 2003, it relied heavily on its Voter Vault database to get people to the voting booths. Though party officials are tight-lipped about what's inside the Vault, they've acknowledged it contains records on an estimated 168 million voters.

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PC World has recently learned that the major development work on the Voter Vault was done in India. Though the RNC began work on a national database of voters in the mid-1990s, the Voter Vault wasn't ready to be put into the field until the 2002 elections. Two years prior to the 2002 elections, the RNC hired Advanced Custom Software (ACS) of Seattle to build a Web-based database to help campaign workers target likely Republican voters. According to information posted on Elance.com, an online directory of outsourcing firms, ACS subcontracted development of the database to Compulink Systems of Maharashtra, India.

It's not necessarily risky to ship your data overseas, but Compulink Systems did suffer a security incident in May 2001. During the period when Compulink was working on the Voter Vault project, its Web site was compromised. On May 10, 2001, a Russian hacker using the handle RyDen defaced the Compulink site, as shown on a page maintained by Attrition.org.


Priests Fist Fight In Jerusalem 

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Greek Orthodox and Franciscan priests got into a fistfight Monday at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Christianity's holiest shrine, after arguing over whether a door in the basilica should be closed during a procession.


Millions Struggle: Tax Cut Benefits Outweighed by Cost of Shabby Housing. 

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Home rehab cutbacks leave poor in shambles


Cheney Talks Terror. Crowd Wants To Hear Local Problems. 

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Cheney Bores Crowd

Even after remarks wholly dedicated to foreign policy, the vast majority of questions from members of the audience - all of them unerringly polite and deferential - dealt with domestic or economic issues, not wars or terrorism.

Some of his supporters found this apparent disconnect unsurprising, including Harriet Faren, president of the Lebanon Valley, Pa., chamber of commerce. Ms. Faren is a Republican who spoke in advance of Mr. Cheney's appearance at PRL Industries Inc., a small defense contractor in Cornwall, Pa. Afterward, while saying that unemployment in the county was 2.9 percent in 2000 and remained at 3.7 percent now, Ms. Faren said: "It's not surprising that the vice president spoke about terrorism. It seems to have become the real issue in the campaign now."

Patricia Herschkowitz, an executive with PRL, said her workers were "aglow" after the event. "We were extremely pleased and proud to be chosen for this event," Ms. Herschkowitz said. But on reflection, she added, referring to domestic concerns, "It does seem that some of these issues could have been reflected better."


Bush Political Ads As Annoying As Bush 

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Voters in Ohio give political ads a thumbs down

Iraq Now World's Most Hostile Environment-Analyst  

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DUBAI (Reuters) - The Iraqi insurgency has reached a critical new level with radical Sunni and Shi'ite groups spreading beyond their traditional bases in the world's "most hostile environment," a security analyst said on Sunday.





The story of the military hospital where there's no escaping the horrors of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan 

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They're burned, or blinded, or sparring with death

Bush Had A Case of Nerves? 

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Janet Linke has been thinking about George W. Bush a lot lately. Thirty-two years ago, her late husband Jan Peter Linke served briefly in the Texas Air National Guard’s 111 Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Bush’s service in the same squadron has gotten plenty of attention in an election year when what you did during the Vietnam War is suddenly a litmus test of character. But Linke claims she knows a part of the story that nobody has mentioned.

According to Linke, a Jacksonville resident and artist, Bush’s flying career was permanently disabled by a crippling fear of flying.

Linke’s husband was admitted to the Texas Guard in the summer of 1972 to replace Bush. President Bush has said that he stopped flying fighter jets because the Alabama Guard unit didn’t have jets, and he wanted the transfer to Alabama in order to work on a political campaign. But Linke says she heard a different story from her husband and Bush’s squad commander, the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian. Shortly after her husband joined the Texas unit, Linke says, the couple discussed Bush’s service with Killian at a social event.

Contrary to some news reports that suggest Killian admired Bush, Linke says the officer didn’t have much use for the young lieutenant. He mentioned that Bush appeared to have a drinking problem, she recalls, but he was most offended by another incapacity: his fear of flying. According to Linke, Killian said Bush was grounded in his fourth year of flying after he became incapable of flying or properly landing a plane.





I just KNEW it!!! 

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PHILADELPHIA -- Viewers of late-night comedy programs, especially The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on the cable channel Comedy Central, are more likely to know the issue positions and backgrounds of presidential candidates than people who do not watch late-night comedy, the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey shows.

Polling conducted between July 15 and Sept. 19 among 19,013 adults showed that on a six-item political knowledge test people who did not watch any late-night comedy programs in the past week answered 2.62 items correctly, while viewers of Late Night with David Letterman on CBS answered 2.91, viewers of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno answered 2.95, and viewers of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart answered 3.59 items correctly. That meant there was a difference of 16 percentage points between Daily Show viewers and people who did not watch any late-night programming.


Working poor suffer under Bush tax cuts  

Detriot Daily News Series

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Blogger Article 

Wonderful NYT Magazine article about many of those on the left there on my blogroll. Kos, Atrios, are featured.

It's true, bloggers are a better form of news gathering and reporting than the tradional newspaper/ TV news alone.

Congrats Kos and Atrios and and Josh Marshall too.

Actual ABC Headline 

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Bush Twists Kerry's Words on Iraq
In New Attacks on Kerry, Bush Twists His Rival's Words, Makes Him Seem Supportive of Saddam

Feel Safer? 

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Iran successfully tests 'strategic missile'


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran added a "strategic missile" to its military arsenal after a successful test, and the defense minister said Saturday his country was ready to confront any external threat.

The report by state-run radio did not say whether the test involved the previously announced new version of the Shahab-3 rocket, capable of reaching Israel and U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East, or a different missile.

"This strategic missile was successfully test-fired during military exercises by the Revolutionary Guards and delivered to the armed forces," Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani was quoted as saying.

The exercises were held Sept. 12-18.




Iran Tests Nuclear Delivery System

More "Progress" 

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7 Iraqi Guard Applicants, 4 U.S. Marines and a Soldier Are Killed



BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 25 - Seven Iraqi men applying for jobs with the Iraqi National Guard were ambushed and killed in western Baghdad on Saturday morning, while the United States military said four marines and a soldier had been killed over 24 hours.


MSNBC Correspondents Says No Place Is Safe In Iraq- Even Green Zone 

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Oct. 4 issue - Bricks and plaster blew inward from the wall, as the windows all shattered and I fell to the floor—whether from the shock wave, or just fright, it wasn't clear. The blast was so loud it sounded as if the building couldn't possibly stand, but it did. Toaster-size chunks of twisted metal fell in the yard and banged off the roof; later they'd be identified as pieces of a U.S. Army Humvee, blown up by a suicide car-bomb a full block away. No one was hurt in that building, which had been heavily blast-protected. But out on the street, 18 people perished, including one U.S. soldier; another three grunts were seriously burned and several children at a nearby Iraqi house were injured. Among the dead were three Iraqis who were incinerated in their car—which was so badly mangled it took wailing relatives more than a day to extract their corpses.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the incident was that it scarcely made the news. It was just another among a recent surge of terrorist attacks, one of two suicide car-bombs that day in the Mansour neighborhood of Baghdad. Besides, everyone was focused on the discovery of the headless corpse of American Jack Hensley, 48, found floating in the Tigris River. Gruesome videos of Hensley's beheading and that of fellow American Eugene (Jack) Armstrong, 52, played on Islamic Web sites. Armstrong's body was later dropped off only five blocks from his home, also in upscale Mansour.






Saturday, September 25, 2004

"Violence surges even as conditions improve." 

-MSNBC.com



Hat tip TPM

Most Christians Look At The Bible As A Menu. 

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Republicans Admit Mailing Campaign Literature Saying Liberals Will Ban the Bible


"When the Massachusetts Supreme Court sanctioned same-sex marriage and people in other states realized they could be compelled to recognize those laws, same-sex marriage became an issue,'' Ms. Iverson said. "These same activist judges also want to remove the words 'under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance."



It’s OK to spread lies to the public as long as you are protecting the holy word of God. Right?

Wait…oh yeah…Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness


House Passes Court Limits on Pledge  

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The current House Republicans are about the worst lot of Republican Congressmen I have ever seen. The vote to keep the courts from challenging their will is like an episode out of Germany just when the Nazis were rising to power. In fact, given the lies, the corruption, the bribes and blocking investigations of their own crimes all add up. This Republican Party is thoroughly rotten to the core. It makes no difference that most of them know that even with a right wing Supreme Court in place this legislation won’t survive a separation of powers challenge, they still try and twist the law, ignore the Constitution and run roughshod while they are in power.

Friday, September 24, 2004

I Am Not Making This Up Either 

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Body of Missing Retired Sara Lee Executive Found Frozen

Modern Republican Party- Hat Tip Atrios 


I Am Not Making This Up  

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The government's auto safety agency is backing off a plan to make public information on vehicle-related deaths and injuries, pending a court ruling on exactly what data should be disclosed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said this spring it would complete its early warning system by Oct. 1 and release much of the data to the public. The system, demanded by Congress following the 2000 recall of Firestone tires, requires automakers and others to submit data on deaths, injuries, consumer complaints, property damage and warranty claims.

NHTSA AGREED TO KEEP WARRANTY CLAIMS AND CONSUMER COMPLAINTS CONFIDENTIAL AFTER AUTOMAKERS SAID RELEASING THAT DATA COULD HARM COMPETITION…






Sara Lee Executive's Body Found. Frozen 

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Sara Lee Executive's Body Found. Frozen

Things Are Going So Well In Iraq Election Will Only Be Held In "Calm" Areas 

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The Bush Administration Lockstep Liars

Tina Brown on Dan Rather 

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Documents or no documents, everyone knows Bush's dad got him out of Vietnam. Everyone knows he thought he had better, funner things to do than go to a bunch of boring National Guard drills. (Only a killjoy like John Kerry would spend his carefree youth racking up high-minded demonstrations of courage and conscience, right?) Like O.J. Simpson's infamous "struggle" to squeeze his big hand into the glove, the letter was just a lousy piece of evidence that should never have been produced in court. Now because CBS, like Marcia Clark, screwed up the prosecution, Bush is going to walk.



Self Loathing Gay Republican Exposed 

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Banning, who has collected more than $270 million for the Republican Party in the 2004 election cycle for the most explicitly anti-gay platform the party has held in history, said he has no problem with spending tens of millions of dollars to restrict the rights of a group he’s part of.

Gay Republicans = Jews For Nazis

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Modo Rising  


By the way, which would you rather have as President? Someone who can windsurf or someone who can’t stay on a bike?  


Put Away Your Hankies...a Message from Michael Moore  

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Dear Friends,

Enough of the handwringing! Enough of the doomsaying! Do I have to come there and personally calm you down? Stop with all the defeatism, OK? Bush IS a goner -- IF we all just quit our whining and bellyaching and stop shaking like a bunch of nervous ninnies. Geez, this is embarrassing! The Republicans are laughing at us. Do you ever see them cry, "Oh, it's all over! We are finished! Bush can't win! Waaaaaa!"

Hell no. It's never over for them until the last ballot is shredded. They are never finished -- they just keeping moving forward like sharks that never sleep, always pushing, pulling, kicking, blocking, lying.

They are relentless and that is why we secretly admire them -- they just simply never, ever give up. Only 30% of the country calls itself "Republican," yet the Republicans own it all -- the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court and the majority of the governorships. How do you think they've been able to pull that off considering they are a minority? It's because they eat you and me and every other liberal for breakfast and then spend the rest of the day wreaking havoc on the planet.

Look at us -- what a bunch of crybabies. Bush gets a bounce after his convention and you would have thought the Germans had run through Poland again. The Bushies are coming, the Bushies are coming! Yes, they caught Kerry asleep on the Swift Boat thing. Yes, they found the frequency in Dan Rather and ran with it. Suddenly it's like, "THE END IS NEAR! THE SKY IS FALLING!"

No, it is not. If I hear one more person tell me how lousy a candidate Kerry is and how he can't win... Dammit, of COURSE he's a lousy candidate -- he's a Democrat, for heavens sake! That party is so pathetic, they even lose the elections they win! What were you expecting, Bruce Springsteen heading up the ticket? Bruce would make a helluva president, but guys like him don't run -- and neither do you or I. People like Kerry run.

Yes, OF COURSE any of us would have run a better, smarter, kick-ass campaign. Of course we would have smacked each and every one of those phony swifty boaty bastards down. But WE are not running for president

-- Kerry is. So quit complaining and work with what we have. Oprah just gave 300 women a... Pontiac! Did you see any of them frowning and moaning and screaming, "Oh God, NOT a friggin' Pontiac!" Of course not, they were happy. The Pontiacs all had four wheels, an engine and a gas pedal. You want more than that, well, I can't help you. I had a Pontiac once and it lasted a good year. And it was a VERY good year.

My friends, it is time for a reality check.

1. The polls are wrong. They are all over the map like diarrhea. On Friday, one poll had Bush 13 points ahead -- and another poll had them both tied. There are three reasons why the polls are b.s.: One, they are polling "likely voters." "Likely" means those who have consistently voted in the past few elections. So that cuts out young people who are voting for the first time and a ton of non-voters who are definitely going to vote in THIS election. Second, they are not polling people who use their cell phone as their primary phone. Again, that means they are not talking to young people. Finally, most of the polls are weighted with too many Republicans, as pollster John Zogby revealed last week. You are being snookered if you believe any of these polls.

2. Kerry has brought in the Clinton A-team. Instead of shunning Clinton (as Gore did), Kerry has decided to not make that mistake.

3. Traveling around the country, as I've been doing, I gotta tell ya, there is a hell of a lot of unrest out there. Much of it is not being captured by the mainstream press. But it is simmering and it is real. Do not let those well-produced Bush rallies of angry white people scare you. Turn off the TV! (Except Jon Stewart and Bill Moyers -- everything else is just a sugar-coated lie).

4. Conventional wisdom says if the election is decided on "9/11" (the fear of terrorism), Bush wins. But if it is decided on the job we are doing in Iraq, then Bush loses. And folks, that "job," you might have noticed, has descended into the third level of a hell we used to call Vietnam. There is no way out. It is a full-blown mess of a quagmire and the body bags will sadly only mount higher. Regardless of what Kerry meant by his original war vote, he ain't the one who sent those kids to their deaths -- and Mr. and Mrs. Middle America knows it. Had Bush bothered to show up when he was in the "service" he might have somewhat of a clue as to how to recognize an immoral war that cannot be "won." All he has delivered to Iraq was that plasticized turkey last Thanksgiving. It is this failure of monumental proportions that is going to cook his goose come this November.

So, do not despair. All is not over. Far from it. The Bush people need you to believe that it is over. They need you to slump back into your easy chair and feel that sick pain in your gut as you contemplate another four years of George W. Bush. They need you to wish we had a candidate who didn't windsurf and who was just as smart as we were when WE knew Bush was lying about WMD and Saddam planning 9/11. It's like Karl Rove is hypnotizing you -- "Kerry voted for the war...Kerry voted for the war...Kerrrrrryyy vooootted fooooor theeee warrrrrrrrrr..."

Yes...Yes...Yesssss....He did! HE DID! No sense in fighting now...what I need is sleep...sleeep...sleeeeeeppppp...

WAKE UP! The majority are with us! More than half of all Americans are pro-choice, want stronger environmental laws, are appalled that assault weapons are back on the street -- and 54% now believe the war is wrong. YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO CONVINCE THEM OF ANY OF THIS -- YOU JUST HAVE TO GIVE THEM A RAY OF HOPE AND A RIDE TO THE POLLS. CAN YOU DO THAT? WILL YOU DO THAT?

Just for me, please? Buck up. The country is almost back in our hands. Not another negative word until Nov. 3rd! Then you can bitch all you want about how you wish Kerry was still that long-haired kid who once had the courage to stand up for something. Personally, I think that kid is still inside him. Instead of the wailing and gnashing of your teeth, why not hold out a hand to him and help the inner soldier/protester come out and defeat the forces of evil we now so desperately face. Do we have any other choice?

Yours,

Michael Moore

Juan Cole Asks: If America were Iraq, What would it be Like? 

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Juan Cole Is A Genius





President Bush said Tuesday that the Iraqis are refuting the pessimists and implied that things are improving in that country.

What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

What if all the reporters for all the major television and print media were trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis? What if the only time they ventured into the Midwest was if they could be embedded in Army or National Guard units?

There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged in concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal again!), rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country? What if they completely controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops could not go into those cities?

What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi), the President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?

What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year?

What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?

What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach, killing hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers? What if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and even pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial over on the Mall? What if the National Council of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?

What if there were virtually no commercial air traffic in the country? What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially Interstate 95 from Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston? If you got on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you would risk being carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed with machine gun fire.

What if no one had electricity for much more than 10 hours a day, and often less? What if it went off at unpredictable times, causing factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of the summer in Houston and Miami? What if the Alaska pipeline were bombed and disabled at least monthly? What if unemployment hovered around 40%?

What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis?

What if municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to the new "president" quietly installed in the statehouses as "governors?" What if several of these governors (especially of Montana and Wyoming) were assassinated soon after taking office or resigned when their children were taken hostage by guerrillas?

What if the leader of the European Union maintained that the citizens of the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner?



Juan Cole Is A Genius 

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Reconstruction, the most important step on the path to a sovereign and stable Iraq, has all but stalled because of targeted acts of violence that reach all the way south to Basra and north to Mosul. Successful countermoves by the Sunni insurgents have prevented the United States and new Iraqi government from gaining any real political support. In fact, billions of dollars originally allocated for reconstruction are now headed for security companies, which are quickly becoming private militias. Unfortunately for optimistic planners in the Bush administration, the coalition is up against not one single group but a constellation of allied militias. It's as if the United States had gone to war against the tribal system itself. There are so many new fighter cells that they are at a loss to distinguish themselves, and so use kidnapping and videotapes as branding strategies. In this market, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Tawhid wa al Jihad, with its monstrous beheading trademark, is the undisputed brand king. Some of the groups are crazier than others. It is a free market of demons.

In the past year, al-Qaida operatives have found in Iraq a fertile recruiting ground, the best possible training camp for jihad against the West, a destination any angry young man can reach if he has the will and pocket money. Iraq's borders, which stretch across hundreds of miles of empty desert, are perfect for smugglers and men seeking martyrdom. No one really knows how many people are coming into Iraq to fight the U.S. But the fighters who do make it across are changing the character of the resistance, internationalizing it, injecting religious extremism into the politics of a once-secular Iraq. Young men coming in from other countries don't fight for Iraq, they fight for Islam.

One of the unutterable truths for the administration is that the U.S. occupation is breeding and fueling insurgent groups. Iraqi government officials rightly fear for their lives, but Iraqi forces, which are supposed to be fighting alongside U.S. troops in the cause of a free and democratic Iraq, are often undisciplined, dangerous and in some places infiltrated by insurgent groups. The Mahdi Army in Sadr City has a number of police officers in its ranks, and in a little remarked upon event that took place during one of the large demonstrations in Baghdad at the time of the siege, the Iraqi police helped Sadr officials address a crowd of Muqtada al-Sadr supporters outside the neutral Green Zone…

… On Aug. 13, with U.S. troops looking on, a Mahdi Army sheik urged the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr to go to Najaf to support the men occupying the shrine. He used a public address system in the back of a police pickup to get his message across. The fighters were yelling and grabbing at journalists, proud that the police were on their side, and they wanted us to take note. Above us, in their watchtowers, Iraqi police hung pictures of Muqtada al-Sadr and waved to the crowd. The organizers of the rally were overjoyed.

Fringe groups, extreme groups, associations with the most vocal opposition to the U.S. occupation, steadily acquire more legitimacy in Iraq because they tend to express the true feelings of many Iraqis. Not everyone takes part in the fighting, but many people understand why the groups choose to fight. Jobs in the Iraqi National Guard and the Iraqi police tend to attract poor men who desperately need the money, while the insurgents attract believers, men who feel wronged and humiliated by the U.S. occupation, and who will work for nothing. They are volunteers. Which emotion is stronger?

Iraq is a place where there is no civil debate and interest groups mediate their conflicts with weapons. The U.S. has the most powerful armed presence, its own military, but as an interest group, it represents the smallest number of Iraqis, possibly only those it directly supports. Political legitimacy, we have long known, comes directly from the people; it is not something that can be dictated by a foreign power, no matter how noble its stated intentions. The Allawi government, the result of American occupation, is what many Iraqis scornfully call a U.S. puppet government. In the months following the "transfer of sovereignty," I never heard a single Iraqi offer up praise for it. Not one.


This Is The Progress Bush Was Talking About 


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

66 Dead In 22 Days  


Proof God Is A Democrat 

Someone made a map of Florida, marked the Republican counties and then plotted the hurricanes paths. Hard to argue with

Notes and Predictions. 

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OK. First of all, I still believe that Kerry will win this election and he will win big. Certainly, I have little to lose by sticking my neck out because I can, at any time quit blogging and head back into my already considerable obscurity. I think to most Americans, Bush has been a fuck up. I think people know it. The question is: will Americans vote in their own interests? That’s what Mark Ames takes up and writes about and I must say, this is one of the most fascinating and dead-on incites I have ever seen. He says the Left believes in Man’s innate sensibilities and empathetic nature, and there fore choose candidiates based on everyone’s bets interests. The Right realizes that everyone else is piggish just like they are- so everything being equal, why not make yourself rich and fuck everyone else?


Excerpts:





But what if the Truth is that Americans don't want to know the Truth? What if Americans consciously choose lies over truth when given the chance—and not even very interesting lies, but rather the blandest, dumbest and meanest lies? What if Americans are not a likeable people? The left's wires short-circuit when confronted with this terrible possibility; the right, on the other hand, warmly embraces Middle America's rank soul and exploits it to their full advantage. The Republicans know Americans better than the left. They know that it's not so much Goering's famous "bigger lie" that works here, but the dumber the lie, the more they want to hear it repeated.

And this leads to another truth that the left still has trouble understanding: Millions of Americans, particularly white males, don't vote for what's in their so-called best interests. Thomas Frank recently attacked this riddle in his new book What's the Matter with Kansas? but he fails to answer his own question. He can't, in fact, because his is a flawed premise…

…At the other end of the economic spectrum, non-millionaires who vote Republican, the so-called "Reagan Democrats," know that the country is not theirs. They are mere wage-slave fodder, so their only hope is to vote for someone who makes the very happiest people's lives a little less happy. If I'm an obese 40-something white male living in Ohio or Nevada, locked into a permanent struggle with foreclosure, child support payments and outsourcing threats, then I'm going to vote for the guy who delivers a big greasy portion of misery to the Sarandon-Robbins dining room table, then brags about it on FoxNews. Even if it means hurting myself in the process.

This explains the mystery of why Bush still has a chance of winning in November, even though most Americans acknowledge that his presidency is little more than a series of slapstick fuck-ups with apocalyptic consequences. Inspector Clouseau meets the Book of Revelations. Close to half of this country will support Bush simply to spite that part of America that it sees as most threatened by the Iraq debacle. If the empire ends up collapsing into that filthy, sizzling hellhole in the desert, if more terrorists are created to help set off dirty bombs in Manhattan or Los Angeles, our spiteful voter has a real chance of finally achieving some empowerment…

… One look at Bush and you'll know why: Bush is the privileged frat-boy/jock asshole that every spiteful male recognizes from his school days. Spiteful males may have supported him in the past, but only because Bush's cartoonish stupidity gave a daily dose of stomach cramps to the responsible, concerned Americans who voted for Gore. And really, what white male in his spiteful mind could possibly have voted for Al Gore, with that pained "Am I pleasing you?" smile he beamed at you? Spiteful white males don't want to be pleased—they want other people to be displeased.


Next, there is talk that if elected, Bush will create another bullshit gesture like the “hand-over” to the Iraqis and then cut and run. At first I thought this was bullshit. Because certainly if Bush pulls out of Iraq, after all this stone-walling, even if he admits no wrong doing, to most Americans it will look like he had to pull them out and simply couldn’t afford to piss his base off by apologizing.


Oddly, yesterday news sources said Syria was redeploying guard troops on the borders with Iraq. Why? Extrapolate the cut and run logic and it makes sense. They might have secretly negotiated with Syria the following deal: Stabilize your borders, stop attacking Israel through Hizbollah, and we will leave in a year.

The New York Observer posts an article about Kerry finally finding his anger and his voice and predicts, as I do, that journalists will even help him along with his overnight last minute surge.

Here:






Having earlier built up the candidate they’re condemned to (otherwise, he wouldn’t have the nomination), then torn him down (you gotta do something when you run out of superlatives), as day succeeds night, reporters will commence rebuilding when ballot-casting looms. Flaws formerly fatal magically vanish. Virtues not previously noted come to the fore. Phrases like "last-minute surge" and "astonishing comeback" are increasingly typed/uttered.

With 40 or so days till Nov. 2, John Kerry’s about to become the latest beneficiary. The worst is over; from here on, it’s upward.



Sound cynical? You don’t know the half of it.


Finally, I can’t help but comment on the irony of FOX NEWS CLUCKING ABOUT THE ACCURACY OF CBS’S MEDIA. I LAUGH WHEN I HEAR THEM ‘INVESTIGATING COLLUSION BETWEEN THE CBS STAFF AND THE KERRY CAMPAIGN’

FAUX NEWS GETS MEMOS FROM THE WHITE HOUSE EVERY SINGLE DAY- IN FACT FAUX NEWS IS THE OFFICIAL PROPAGANDA STATION OF THE EXTREME FAR RIGHT.

More to follow.

Have a good day.




Iraq Not On State Department Terrorism Map in 1998 

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that's how important iraq really was

Cat Stevens Expelled At The Border. 

Well, I feel safer.

Known Terrorist Cat Stevens Expelled At The Border. 

Well, I feel safer.


Compassionate Conservatism Inflicted On Gays  

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Officials are trying to remove language protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation from the agency's labor contract, union leaders claim.

Texas Legislature Blows Texas Housing Industry, Swallows. 

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"Texas has gone from one of the most friendly states for consumer protection to one of the most anti-consumer states," said University of Houston law professor Richard M. Alderman, an expert on consumer rights. "It all began in 1995. Bush oversaw a significant retreat for consumer protection, and it was all done under the guise of attacking 'frivolous' lawsuits."

The impact has been felt by home buyers such as Mary and Keith Cohn, whose elegant new residence in this well-off Houston suburb came with a leaky roof that led to rotting and moldy wallboard throughout the structure. After their daughters became ill, the Cohns moved out. The repairs ultimately cost more than $300,000.

To their astonishment and dismay, they learned that when the builder refused to repair most of the damage, they could not sue him for redress. Instead, they could pursue private arbitration, a process they considered stacked against them.

"This is the largest purchase of your life," said Mary Cohn, "but you have zero consumer protection."




Texas Legislature Makes It Impossible For Texas Homeowners To Sue

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Keep Abreast Of Election 


63 Dead In 21 Days  


Source Of The CBS Memoes? the GOP 

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what a shock!!!!the GOP up to dirty tricks?

50 People. What a TURNOUT!!!! 

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Veterans Rally for Bush at Richmond Memorial



RICHMOND, Sept. 20 -- Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) and about 50 veterans rallied at the Virginia War Memorial here Monday to highlight the support for President Bush among the state's current and former members of the military.

Warner, a veteran and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised Bush's leadership on behalf of the military and said, "The president has done his job since the first day he took office on behalf of veterans."


Monday, September 20, 2004

Marines In The Field + F/9/11 = WTF? 

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"Nobody I know wants Bush," says an enlisted soldier in Najaf, adding, "This whole war was based on lies." Like several others interviewed, his animosity centered on a belief that the war lacked a clear purpose even as it took a tremendous toll on US troops, many of whom are in Iraq involuntarily under "stop loss" orders that keep them in the service for months beyond their scheduled exit in order to keep units together during deployments.

"There's no clear definition of why we came here," says Army Spc. Nathan Swink, of Quincy, Ill. "First they said they have WMD and nuclear weapons, then it was to get Saddam Hussein out of office, and then to rebuild Iraq. I want to fight for my nation and for my family, to protect the United States against enemies foreign and domestic, not to protect Iraqi civilians or deal with Sadr's militia," he said.

Specialist Swink, who comes from a family of both Democrats and Republicans, plans to vote for Kerry. "Kerry protested the war in Vietnam. He is the one to end this stuff, to lead to our exit of Iraq," he said.


James Wolcott Takes Wingnuts To The Woodshed 

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Yesterday, C-SPAN II, as part of its regular weekend books coverage, ran a reading/q & a with Ben Ferguson, the young conservative author of It's My America Too. The plaintive whimpering of that title--in particular that "too"--is typical of the phony underdog position conservatives insist on taking to make themselves look like insurgents. Republicans control the presidency, the Senate, the House, and much of the judiciary, Fox News is #1 in cable news, the rightwing rules talk radio, and yet here's little big Ben, who at the age of 22 hosts his own rightwing radio show, pouting about feeling like an outsider in his own country, boo hoo.

He wears his hair as if he's in the fourth grade, and I gather he has a chapter in his book about being a virgin. It's considerate of this baby whale version of Rush Limbaugh to be saving himself for some lucky gal, but I fear that when he finally does mate with Woman he may explode from years of self-denial in a spermatic supernova. I'd hate to be the person who'd have to tidy up afterwards.

It's easy to make fun of little big Ben--so why not?--and yet underneath his pudgy exterior is a pudgy interior soaked in loathing and ignorance.

At one point in his talk, he made light of John Kerry's war medals and wounds, snickering that Kerry's decision to go to Vietnam to be shot at was pure "opportunism," and that if he'd been wounded as badly as all that he'd be in "a real nice wheelchair" now. Of course, if Kerry had been crippled and reduced to a wheelchair, that wouldn't spare him further mockery, as Max Cleland has learned.



Even Nigeria Hates Halliburton  

Hat tip agonist and stratfor

Stratfor - Nigeria has placed an embargo on Halliburton Energy Service Nigeria Limited because of its negligent conduct in the loss of two ionizing radioactive sources in 2002; all contracts between Halliburton and any government ministry or agency will stop until further notice. Halliburton was accused of doing too little to help Nigerian authorities recover the equipment, which was eventually traced to Germany. According to the statement, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo approved the ban.

Here’s What’s really Scary. If Hastert Is Right, I Actually Have Something In Common With Al Quaeda 

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Al Quaeda Veterans For Kerry

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Top Democrats slapped back Sunday at a remark by House Speaker Dennis Hastert that al Qaeda leaders want Sen. John Kerry to beat President Bush in November.

At a campaign rally Saturday in his Illinois district with Vice President Dick Cheney, Hastert said al Qaeda "would like to influence this election" with an attack similar to the train bombings in Madrid days before the Spanish national election in March.

When a reporter asked Hastert if he thought al Qaeda would operate with more comfort if Kerry were elected, the speaker said, "That's my opinion, yes."


McCain: Bush not straight enough on Iraq 

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Several Republicans and Democrats took President Bush to task on Sunday's talk shows over his repeated assertions that all is well in Iraq.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Bush was not being "as straight as maybe we'd like to see" with the American people about Iraq.

McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday" that it was "a serious mistake" not to have had enough troops in place "after the initial successes" and that the mistake had led to "very, very significant" difficulties….




McCain Spanks Bush Again

California Republicans Crack Down On Massive School Teacher Fraud 

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Glory Glory Halleluyah, Teach Hit Me With A Ruler. Then Wasn’t Allowed To Deduct The Cost Of The Ruler Under The New Republican Administration

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- If Doreen Seelig pocketed all the money she has spent on classroom supplies over 35 years as a teacher -- the printer cartridges, the paper, the pencils and the paperback books lent to her Venice High School students -- she figures she would have a new car by now.

Now, as the new school year gets under way, the burden on Seelig and other teachers around the country is even heavier.

Because of a budget crunch, California has suspended a tax credit that reimbursed teachers up to $1,500 for classroom supplies. Meanwhile, a $250 federal tax deduction for teachers that helped defray out-of-pocket spending expired this year.


A Foreigner From Kos Comment Section 

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Bush's dangerous leadership

The problem is that the American people see far fewer images of the real brutality in Iraq than other people around the world. Canadian media outlets certainly cover it and the British press has been very influential in keeping the pressure on Blair so that he's held to account. I'd bet that the vast number of hurricane pictures and videos far outweighs what Americans have seen about the war in Iraq during the past couple of months.

And don't even get me started on the dead and wounded who are almost invisible in all of this. The outrage over the Nightline pics was the pinnacle of your country's right-wing unwillingness to take an honest look at this war. Ironic - since many of those same right-wingers have no problem attending church every Sunday honouring icons of Jesus crucified on the cross. That, somehow, is acceptable while the image of today's 'martyrs' (those who have fought and died) is not. Absolute hypocrisy of the worst kind.

If the horror of terror doesn't come within either the spectrum of religious icons or within the realm of entertainment such as war movies, many members of the public express their disgust. What is truly disgusting is the complete denial of reality in order to justify man's inhumanity to man. Bush has been seen, once again, as exactly what he is. By dismissing recent intelligence estimates on the real state of affairs in Iraq, he appeases those who might have an inkling to step out of their comfortable little boxes of denial by reassuring them that everything is just fine and by doing so exhibits exactly what he is - an incredibly dangerous leader. Never doubt that history repeats itself. Never. There is too much at stake.

Republicans: Deconstructing America, one day at a time.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Compassionate Conservatism Inflcited Once Again 


The Foxification of CNN 

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CNN is hemorrhaging in quality and viewers so fast — for reasons that have more to do with its lugubriousness and identity crisis than politics — that this dust-up may prove but a footnote to its travails. But its casual abandonment of even a fig leaf of impartiality ratifies a larger shift in the news landscape that reached its historical watershed at the Republican convention. That was when Fox News for the first time scored a ratings victory over every other network, the Big Three broadcast networks included.

Fox's feat has since been trivialized by most of its rivals as the inevitable triumph of a partisan channel speaking to its faithful. But there's something else at work here. It's not just that Fox is so good at pandering to its core constituency but that its competition is so weak at providing the hard-hitting, trustworthy news that might draw an alternative crowd. Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes aren't stupid. They have seized upon that news vacuum in the marketplace and filled it with fast-paced, news-like bloviation that can be more entertaining (and often no less informative) to watch than its rivals even if its bias gives you heartburn.

What much of the other news media have offered as an alternative has not been an alternative at all. At some point after 9/11, the news business jumped the shark and started relaying unchallenged administration propaganda — though with less zeal and showbiz pizazz than Fox. The notorious March 2003 presidential news conference at which not a single probing question was asked by the entire White House press corps heralded the broader Foxification to come. As Michael Massing, a frequent critic of this newspaper and others, put it on PBS's NewsHour, the failure of the American news media to apply proper skepticism to the administration's stated rationale for war in Iraq is "one of the most serious institutional failures of the press" since our slide into Vietnam. Mr. Massing attributes some of this to the fear of challenging a president then at the height of his popularity. Whatever the explanation — and there are many, depending on the news organization — the net effect was that the entire press came off as Fox Lite. The motive to parrot the administration line may not have been ideological, as it was at Fox, but since the misinformation was the same, news consumers can't be blamed for finding that a distinction without a difference.


The Coalition Of The Leaving 

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First the Spanish, then the Thai, then the Polish…and now,…the Brits.


The British Army is to start pulling troops out of Iraq next month despite the deteriorating security situation in much of the country, The Observer has learnt.

The main British combat force in Iraq, about 5,000-strong, will be reduced by around a third by the end of October during a routine rotation of units.








High-tech has lost 400,000 jobs, report says  

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SEATTLE -- The U.S. information tech sector lost 403,300 jobs between March 2001 and this past April, and the market for tech workers remains bleak, according to a new report.


Saturday, September 18, 2004

1032 


Open letter from Garrison Keillor: 

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Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy-- the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president's personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good.

Our beloved land has been fogged with fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn't the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it's 9/11 that we keep coming back to. It wasn't the end of innocence, or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence; it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn't prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.

Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second term.

This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and show over and over the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren -- in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're not getting any younger.

Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you, dear reader. It's a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning.


Bill Maher 

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September 3, 2004

...New Rule: You can't run on a mistake. Franklin Roosevelt didn't run for re-election claiming Pearl Harbor was his finest hour. Abe Lincoln was a great president, but the high point of his second term wasn't theater security. 9/11 wasn't a triumph of the human spirit. It was a fuck-up by a guy on vacation.

Now, don't get me wrong, Mr. President. I'm not blaming you for 9/11. We have blue-ribbon commissions to do that. And I'm not saying there was anything improper about your immediate response to the attacks. Someone had to stay in that classroom and protect those kids from Chechen rebels.

But by the looks of your convention, you'd think that the worst thing that ever happened to us was the best thing that ever happened to you. You just can't keep celebrating the deadliest attack ever as if it's your personal rendezvous with greatness. You don't see old men who were shot down during World War II jumping out of a plane every year. I mean, other than your dad.

But even your dad didn't run for re-election based on a recession and his propensity to barf on the Japanese. Now, I know you'd like us all to get swept away with emotionalism and stop sweating the small stuff like the deficit and the environment, and focus on what's really important: how you look in a fireman's hat. But crying during your speech? I mean, come on! There's no crying in politics! It's not fair! That's a trick chicks use. How are we supposed to discuss this rationally if you're going to cry?! There's a name for people who exploit their participation in historical events for political gain. They're called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

So I say, if you absolutely must win an election on the backs of dead people, do it like they do in Chicago, and have them actually vote for you.




Friday, September 17, 2004

Green Zone No Longer Safe 


Holy Shit!!!@

US military officers in Baghdad have warned they cannot guarantee the security of the perimeter around the Green Zone, the headquarters of the Iraqi government and home to the US and British embassies, according to security company employees.

At a briefing earlier this month, a high-ranking US officer in charge of the zone's perimeter said he had insufficient soldiers to prevent intruders penetrating the compound's defences.

The US major said it was possible weapons or explosives had already been stashed in the zone, and warned people to move in pairs for their own safety. The Green Zone, in Baghdad's centre, is one of the most fortified US installations in Iraq. Until now, militants have not been able to penetrate it.

But insurgency has escalated this week, spreading to the centre of Baghdad. The zone is home to several thousand Iraqis, and on Sunday it came under the heaviest attack since it was established. Up to 60 unexploded rockets were found inside its perimeters after a five-hour barrage.

On Tuesday, a car bomb outside a Baghdad police station killed 47 people, and 12 members of the police and their driver were shot dead in Baquba. The attack was the worst in the city for several months.


This Just In: Powell High On Crack 

Powell Predicts Iraq Control in Time for Elections






BAGHDAD, Iraq — Violence flared in the Iraqi capital Friday and U.S. warplanes pounded the insurgent bastion of Fallujah, but Secretary of State Colin L. Powell predicted U.S.-led forces would bring Iraq under control in time for milestone elections slated for January.

US Has Worst Child Health Care  

If Capitalism and ownership is the way to go, why is it that over 50 million Americans have no health insurance? In fact, a new study compares our health care for children with the health care for children in other industrialized countries and our places at the very bottom.

According to the study, twenty-four countries ranked better than the United States in infant mortality rates in 2000. Out of 191 countries, the United States ranked 33rd in its death rate for children under age 5. The United States, out of 187 countries, ranked 68th in immunizing children against diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus; 89th for polio; and 84th for measles. U.S. teens ranked 18th out of 28 industrialized countries in a self-reported survey of not feeling healthy.





David Sirota Claims People Don't Know Dick 

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As Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush, Cheney helped lead a multinational coalition against Iraq and was one of the architects of a post-war economic embargo designed to choke off funds to the country. He insisted the world should “maintain sanctions, at least of some kind,” so Saddam Hussein could not “rebuild the military force he’s used against his neighbors.”

But less than six years later, as a private businessman, Cheney apparently had more important interests than preventing Hussein from rebuilding his army. While he claimed during the 2000 campaign that, as CEO of Halliburton, he had “imposed a ‘firm policy’ against trading with Iraq,” confidential UN records show that, from the first half of 1997 to the summer of 2000, Halliburton held stakes in two firms that sold more than $73 million in oil production equipment and spare parts to Iraq while Cheney was in charge. Halliburton acquired its interest in both firms while Cheney was at the helm, and continued doing business through them until just months before Cheney was named George W. Bush’s running mate.

Perhaps even more troubling, at the same time Cheney was doing business with Iraq, he launched a public broadside against sanctions laws designed to cut off funds to regimes like Iran, which the State Department listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. In 1998, Cheney traveled to Kuala Lumpur to attack his own country's terrorism policies for being too strict. Under the headline, “Former US Defence Secretary Says Iran-Libya Sanctions Act ‘Wrong,’” the Malaysian News Agency reported that Cheney “hit out at his government" and said sanctions on terrorist countries were "ineffective, did not provide the desired results and [were] a bad policy.”

Two years later, Cheney traveled to another country to demand America weaken restrictions on doing business with Iran’s petroleum industry, despite Clinton administration warnings that Iranian oil revenues could be used to fund terrorism. “We're kept out of [Iran] primarily by our own government, which has made a decision that U.S. firms should not be allowed to invest significantly in Iran,” he told an oil conference in Canada. “I think that's a mistake.”

Now new reports suggest Cheney’s desire to do business with Iran may have amounted to more than words. Details of Halliburton’s activities in Iran have been investigated by the Treasury Department and were recently forwarded to the U.S. attorney in Houston. Such an action is taken only after Treasury finds evidence of ‘serious and willful violations’ of sanctions laws. Halliburton already admits one of its subsidiaries “performs between $30 [million] and $40 million annually in oilfield service work in Iran.”

Why is this record important in the current presidential debate? Because as Cheney barnstorms around the country touting the Bush administration’s record, his years at Halliburton indicate he is willing to put other priorities before America’s national security. Even as Iran built ties to terrorists and worked to develop a nuclear weapon, Cheney insisted corporations must do “business in countries that may have policies that the U.S. does not like.” His reasoning? “The good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratic regimes friendly to the United States.”

Such comments contrast sharply with the Republicans’ message at their national convention. Far from embodying lofty ideals of “freedom” and “democracy,” Cheney’s record depicts a man governed by greed. As the election nears, that poses an important question to all Americans: Are we really comfortable with this person -- and this ideology -- shaping U.S. policy in an age of global terror?




Ah Irony. 

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A Company That Opened Up Overseas To Avoid Paying Taxes Desperately Asks Tax Funded Army For Help When Local Grow Restless.





In summary:
If we lose this site, we have lost the country. This site needs to be defended with military assistance as a matter of urgent priority. The US Military also need to know that in this site and in an adjacent building (AT&T Wireless offices in Trinity Square on Eastern Avenue) there are in total at least 25 United States citizens who in my considered opinion need their country's protection NOW, hence I believe under US laws use of the military is justified or authorised. For the most part these are people who are very necessary to help in the telecommunications restoration work. PLEASE BE CLEAR: WE ARE NOT SUGGESTING THAT THE US SHOULD EVACUATE THEM; on the contrary most of these people need to remain here because THEY ARE VITAL TO THE REBUILDING PROCESS THAT IS GOING ON SO THAT THE COUNTRY CAN RECOVER FROM THE HURRICANE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE! There are a few of this number who are spouses and children of Cable & Wireless staff, families, and/or others who have taken refuge in One Technology Square, several of whom we are planning to evacuate through existing channels and military assistance is not needed for that.

I should also mention the thousands of United States of America citizens who are located elsewhere in the island, who for the most part are also necessary for the restoration effort. A bit of US Military help is required not just for One Technology Square, but to assist law enforcement across the island, and will no doubt contribute to the safety and security of those US citizens.

This will work best if the US Military works closely with the Royal Cayman Islands Police [RCIP]. It does not need an over-reaction, a heavy-handed approach, or imposition of martial law, but rather assistance and relief for the exhausted police team and the capability to execute no-nonsense law enforcement across the island, but the US Military must make it clear to British (and if necessary local) officials that either the RCIP will let them help or the US Military will do what is necessary without RCIP cooperation. If the US do not act in a measured way and if they come in with too heavy a hand, we risk losing the island's reputation for stability, and that will destroy our economy.






Bush Bounce Gone  


55 Dead in 17 days  


Thursday, September 16, 2004

watch 


Foot dragging. 

Why is it that when bush’s numbers are down his administration comes up with a strategy and delivers it immediately- but when investigators want to know who leaked a CIA agent’s name, it takes until after the election?
Why is it taking so long to prosecute the bribe and the threat that were offered during the Medicare vote? Why does it take that long to investigate Tom, DeLay’s misuse of tax exempt funds? Why does it have to take years to find out why the correct projected costs of the medicare plan were blocked?

Why?

Because this administration is corrupt through and through.

Modo Rising 

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Iraq is a vision of hell, and the Republicans act as if it's a model kitchen.
The president and vice president brag about liberating Iraqis and reassure us that they are stopping terrorist violence at its source and inspiring democracy in the region by bringing it to blood-drenched Iraq.

But what they haven't mentioned is that they have known since July that their rosy scenarios are as bogus as their W.M.D. That's when the president received a national intelligence estimate that spelled out "a dark assessment of prospects" for stability and governance in Iraq in the next 18 months, as Douglas Jehl wrote in today's Times. Worst-case estimates include civil war or anarchy.

Unlike the president, the young men and women trying to stay alive in the unraveling chaos of Iraq can't count on their daddies to get them out of the line of fire.


UPI Says Pentagon Underreporting Total Casualties 

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NEW YORK (UPI) Nearly 17,000 service members medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan are absent from public Pentagon casualty reports commonly cited by newspapers, according to military data reviewed by United Press International. Most don't fit the definition of casualties, according to the Pentagon, but a veterans' advocate said they should all be counted.

The Pentagon has reported 1,019 dead and 7,245 wounded from Iraq.

The military has evacuated 16,765 individual service members from Iraq and Afghanistan for injuries and ailments not directly related to combat, according to the U.S. Transportation Command, which is responsible for the medical evacuations. Most are from Operation Iraqi Freedom.




Reported Casualties: 1,024 Dead, 7,245 Wounded. Actual Total Is More Like 16,765

Military Experts Say Iraq Is A Lost Cause 

...


The Guardian
'Bring them on!" President Bush challenged the early Iraqi insurgency in July of last year. Since then, 812 American soldiers have been killed and 6,290 wounded, according to the Pentagon. Almost every day, in campaign speeches, Bush speaks with bravado about how he is "winning" in Iraq. "Our strategy is succeeding," he boasted to the National Guard convention on Tuesday.

But, according to the US military's leading strategists and prominent retired generals, Bush's war is already lost. Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, told me: "Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." He adds: "Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends."

Retired general Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, told me: "The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options. We're conducting a campaign as though it were being conducted in Iowa, no sense of the realities on the ground. It's so unrealistic for anyone who knows that part of the world. The priorities are just all wrong."

Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, said: "I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true. There's no analogy whatsoever between the situation in Iraq and the advantages we had after the second world war in Germany and Japan."

W Andrew Terrill, professor at the Army War College's strategic studies institute - and the top expert on Iraq there - said: "I don't think that you can kill the insurgency". According to Terrill, the anti-US insurgency, centred in the Sunni triangle, and holding several cities and towns - including Fallujah - is expanding and becoming more capable as a consequence of US policy.

"We have a growing, maturing insurgency group," he told me. "We see larger and more coordinated military attacks. They are getting better and they can self-regenerate. The idea there are x number of insurgents, and that when they're all dead we can get out is wrong. The insurgency has shown an ability to regenerate itself because there are people willing to fill the ranks of those who are killed. The political culture is more hostile to the US presence. The longer we stay, the more they are confirmed in that view."


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Damn it all, We've Lost The Kiwis 


GOP Slams Bush On Iraq 

— Senators from both parties accused the Bush administration Wednesday of incompetence in its efforts to rebuild Iraq and said the United States could lose the war unless it improves security and gets more money into the Iraqi economy.

Among those harshly criticizing the White House at a hearing were the two top Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: Chairman Richard Lugar of Indiana and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

Of the $18.4 billion Congress approved last year for Iraqi reconstruction, only $1.1 billion has been spent because of violence and other problems. Hagel called that record "beyond pitiful and embarrassing; it is now in the zone of dangerous."

Even Lugar, who is not usually given to strong rhetoric, said the failure to inject funds into the Iraqi economy quickly was "exasperating for anybody looking at this from any vantage point."


Quagmire Pt 2 





TWO months ago, amid the kind of secrecy more normally associated with Saddam’s illicit arms deals, the US authorities in Baghdad formally handed over power to the fledgling Iraqi government.

The ceremony, amid the formidable security of the Green Zone, was done two days ahead of schedule in a bid to wrongfoot insurgents - for whom, it was claimed, it would provide the key rallying moment for a final, last-gasp offensive.

Today, with both Ayad Allawi's new government and its coalition backers losing control of the country, it is hard to imagine why anybody bothered with such constitutional conjuring.

No force ever attacks when its foes expect it to: instead, as yesterday’s carnage and that of recent weeks shows, the real post-hand-over violence is only truly under way now.



Quagmire. It’s Official. 

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WASHINGTON - The U.S. strategy to create a stable, democratic Iraq is in danger of failing, current and former U.S. officials say, and the anti-American insurgency is growing larger, more sophisticated and more violent.

A wave of brazen attacks across Iraq has included the deadliest single bombing in Baghdad in six months on Tuesday and at least seven bombings in the capital on Sunday.

The violence increasingly appears to threaten nationwide elections planned for January, which are key to President Bush's hopes for reducing the number of U.S. troops, now 140,000, and making a graceful exit from Iraq.

Many experts on Iraq say the best that can be hoped for now is continued chaos that falls short of a civil war.

"The overall prospects ... are for a violent political future," said Jeffrey White, a former senior Defense Intelligence Agency analyst.

Top Bush administration officials publicly acknowledge that the insurgency is getting worse. But they point out that they predicted it would do that as Iraq's January elections approached.





Vote For A Man, Not A Puppet 

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CharleyReese of the Orlando Sentinel:



Americans should realize that if they vote for President Bush's re-election, they are really voting for the architects of war - Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of that cabal of neoconservative ideologues and their corporate backers. I have sadly come to the conclusion that President Bush is merely a front man, an empty suit,who is manipulated by the people in his administration. Bush has the most dangerously simplistic view of the world of any president in my memory. It's no wonder the president avoids press conferences like the plague. Take away his cue cards and he can barely talk. Americans should be embarrassed that an Arab king (Abdullah of Jordan) spoke more fluently and articulately in English than our own president at their joint press conference recently.

John Kerry is at least an educated man, well-read, who knows how to think and who knows that the world is a great deal more complex than Bush's comic-book world of American heroes and foreign evildoers. It's unfortunate that in our poorly educated country, Kerry's very intelligence and refusal to adopt simplistic slogans might doom his presidential election efforts. But Thomas Jefferson said it well, as he did so often, when he observed that people who expect to be ignorant and free expect what never was and never will be.

People who think of themselves as conservatives will really display their stupidity, as I did in the last election, by voting for Bush. Bush is as far from being a conservative as you can get. Well, he fooled me once, but he won't fool me twice. It is not at all conservative to balloon government spending, to vastlyincrease the power of government, to show contempt for the Constitution andthe rule of law, or to tell people that foreign outsourcing of American jobs is good for them, that giant fiscal and trade deficits don't matter, and that people should not know what their government is doing.

Bush is the most prone-to-classify, the most secretive president in the
20thcentury. His administration leans dangerously toward the authoritarian.
It's no wonder that the Justice Department has convicted a few
Arab-American of supporting terrorism. What would you do if you found yourself arrested and a federal prosecutor whispers in your ear that either you can plea-bargain this or the president will designate you an enemy combatant and you'll beheld incommunicado for the duration?

This election really is important, not only for domestic reasons, but
because Bush's foreign policy has been a dangerous disaster. He's almost restarted the Cold War with Russia and the nuclear arms race. America is not only hated in the Middle East, but it has few friends anywhere in the world thanks to the arrogance and ineptness of the Bush administration. Don't forget, a scientific poll of Europeans found us, Israel, North Korea and Iran as the greatest threats to world peace.

I will swallow a lot of petty policy differences with Kerry to get a man in the White House with brains enough not to blow up the world and us with it. Go to Kerry's Web site (www.johnkerry.com) and read some of the magazine profiles on him. You'll find that there is a great deal more to Kerry than the GOP attack dogs would have you believe. Besides, it would be fun to have a president who plays hockey, windsurfs, rides motorcycles, plays the guitar, writes poetry and speaks French. It would be good to have a man in the White House who has killed people face to face. Killing people has a sobering effect on a man and dispels all illusions about war.

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