Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Coming Pandemic

Getting away from the election for one moment (although with the way the Bush Administration treats science and screwed up the flu vaccine, maybe we're not), USA Today is reporting that:
The flu vaccine shortage shows how unprepared the world is for what could be a global flu epidemic percolating in Asia, experts said here Sunday.

Since December, a strain of bird flu has spread through poultry flocks from Japan to Thailand, despite efforts to contain it by mass killing of chickens. The virus also has infected and killed humans, though it doesn't appear to spread easily to people.

That could change, experts warn, sparking a pandemic — an epidemic that could sweep around the world.

"We believe we're closer to a new pandemic than ever," said Klaus Stöhr of the World Health Organization. "It's only a matter of time. ... We have a window of opportunity now to prepare ourselves."

The flu viruses that circulate each winter in the USA are variations of viruses that have been seen before. A pandemic strain, though, is one that has never been known to humans, so everyone is susceptible to it.

Scientists here at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology said the best defense against flu, whether a pandemic strain or the regular variety, is vaccine.

Yet this year's vaccine shortage points out the weakness of the vaccine supply system. It "has to make us wonder about our limited ability to respond to a pandemic," says Wendy Keitel of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
To scare you a little more, a quick Google search uncovered a Newshour transcript from 1997 about the 1918 flu pandemic. The scariest part:
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: How many people now--I reported more than 20 million [died]--but how many do you think in the latest research?

DR. JEFFREY TAUBENBERGER: The conservative estimate is 21 million people, but people suggest that it may be forty to fifty million people actually died worldwide. Some current research suggests that almost 20 million people died in India alone.
And finally, this little bit of horror from an August 27, 2004 AFP story:
A key weapon in the medical arsenal that will combat any future pandemic of killer flu may be worryingly at risk to resistance by the influenza virus, according to an early Japanese study published in The Lancet.

The drug is oseltamivir, one of only two medications in a class of treatments called neuraminidase inhibitors. They work by blocking an enzyme that the virus uses to escape from an infected cell and then spread around the body.

The research probed oseltamivir resistance among 50 Japanese children who were being treated for flu.

The scientists took blood samples from the young patients and carried out a DNA analysis of the flu virus to see how much it had mutated -- the phenomenon that enables a microbe to thwart a drug.

Nine out of the 50 samples -- 18 percent of the total -- showed mutations at two points in the genome that had previously been suspected to cause resistance. The children had the H3N2 viral strain.

The team were also surprised to find that even five days after treatment with oseltamivir, children could still be infectious.
- - - -
US paediatrician Anne Moscona said this was a wakeup call about a potential threat to neuraminidase inhibitors, especially in the light of Asia's H5N1 bird flu outbreak, a phenomenon that some fear could breed a vicious and infectious viral form.

"Widespread influenza is the deadliest plague in human history and transmission of avian influenza to human beings probably started the global pandemic of 1918, which killed 50 million people," Moscona commented.

Oseltamivir and its cousin zanamivir would be vital weapons in the fight against any such future peril.

They are highly regarded because they target a feature common to all types of flu viruses and so would be as effective all strains. They are a treatment, not a prevention against infection.

That role is given to vaccines. However, it would be almost impossible to stockpile a vaccine engineered for a specific virus and then distribute it quickly before that virus spreads around the world by jet passenger travel.

No Rest For The Wicked

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Gunmen killed the deputy governor of Baghdad on his way to work on Monday, Iraqi officials said.

Hatim Kamil was assassinated in a drive-by shooting this morning, said Baghdad Governor Ali al-Haidari. He had no other details.

Insurgents have killed dozens of Iraqi politicians and government workers in recent months in a bid to destabilize the country's reconstruction.

Pushing Democracy (Everywhere But Here)

Bob Herbert takes on the Repugs:
In Philadelphia, where a large black vote is essential to a Kerry victory in the crucial state of Pennsylvania, the Republican speaker of the Pennsylvania House, John Perzel, is hard at work challenging Democratic voters. He makes no bones about his intent, telling U.S. News & World Report:

"The Kerry campaign needs to come out with humongous numbers here in Philadelphia. It's important for me to keep that number down."

That's called voter suppression, folks, and the G.O.P. concentrates its voter-suppression efforts in the precincts where there are large numbers of African-Americans. And that's called racism.

These are days of shame for the United States. No one writing a civics text for American high school students would recommend this kind of behavior for a great and mighty nation. We have to figure out a way to extricate ourselves from Iraq and rebuild a truly representative democracy here at home. Right now we have a mess on both fronts.

It was Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, who said that "America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment."

That's as good a thought as any to carry with you into the voting booth tomorrow.

Everything That Wasn't Nailed Down (And Some Things That Were)

It wasn't just weapons we didn't protect:
An Australian engineering firm restoring Iraq's ravaged oil infrastructure has revealed the mammoth task includes repairing facilities looted down to the copper wires.

Worst. Commander-in-Chief. Ever. Part II

From CBS:
Looters unleashed last year by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq overran a sprawling desert complex where a bunker sealed by U.N. monitors held old chemical weapons, American arms inspectors report.

Charles Duelfer's arms teams say all U.N.-sealed structures at the Muthanna site were broken into. If the so-called Bunker 2 was breached and looted, it would be a new case of restricted weapons being at risk of having fallen into militants' hands.

Separately, Human Rights Watch said Saturday it alerted the U.S. military to a cache of hundreds of warheads containing high explosives in Iraq in May 2003, but that officials seemed disinterested and still hadn't secured the site 10 days later, even though it was being looted every day by armed men.
Phew. It's a damn good thing we stopped Saddam from giving these things to the terrorists.

Founding Father Quote Of The Day

“It is more honorable to repair a wrong than to persist in it."
- Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Too Little, Too Late

In the latest GOP STV (Suppress The Vote) campaign:
The Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office dropped off nearly 2,500 absentee ballots at the main mail center Saturday, and postal workers have to scramble to make sure they are delivered on Monday, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman said.
- - - -
A postal service spokesman said he hoped the last-minute batch of absentee ballots, received at the Fort Lauderdale Processing and Distribution Center on Oakland Park Boulevard, reached voters in time for their votes to count.

"Much to our surprise [elections workers] showed up at our back dock at 1:50 on Saturday afternoon with 2,467 ballots that needed to go out," said postal spokesman Gerry McKiernan. "Then they came back at 3 o'clock with 29 more."

McKiernan said he worried that many voters would not be able to return their absentee ballots in time, particularly those who are out of state.

"Some of these have to go out to Atlanta, Little Rock, Las Vegas," McKiernan said. "I have to be honest. I don't think we're going to make it on those."

Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes said earlier this week that out-of-state voters would receive their absentee ballots via Federal Express. Attempts to reach her by cell phone Saturday were unsuccessful.
Despite the GOP's best efforts, though, this year voters refuse to be disenfranchised.
Some voters decided they could not afford to wait for a mailed ballot.

Kevin James, 20, of Lauderhill, said he traveled 11 hours by bus from Tallahassee, where he is a senior at Florida A&M University, because he still has not received an absentee ballot and he wanted to make sure he voted in this election.

"For me not to vote would be a great disservice to everyone who fought for the right to vote," said James. "And it would be a disservice to myself. If you don't vote you can't complain."

James waited four hours to vote at the Lauderhill Mall and will get back on a bus to Tallahassee this afternoon.
And James isn't the only one. This from the Boca Raton News:
Despite horror stories about early voting in Palm Beach County, residents continue to flock to the polls to cast ballots in advance of Election Day Tuesday.

“Three hours and we did it,” shouted two women as they left the polling place at the South County Administrative Center on Congress Avenue in Delray Beach Wednesday.

Voters leaving other balloting spots around South County were generally grousing. “It took too long, there were only a couple of voting machines,” said Theresa Lombardo, who touch-screened her ballot at the county library in West Boca Raton on Wednesday. Her husband, Al, was doubly angry – about the long wait and, politically, about George W. Bush. He offered a Boca Raton News reporter a litany of presidential weaknesses.

“I’ve waited four years for this day,” said Lombardo, who identified himself as the sports director for WSBR radio. “I haven’t been able to sleep for four years.”
Be afraid, Repugs. Be very afraid. Voter turnout is going to be huge.


Safety In Nonsense

Maureen Dowd delivers yet again:
The Bushies' campaign pitch follows their usual backward logic: Because we have failed to make you safe, you should re-elect us to make you safer. Because we haven't caught Osama in three years, you need us to catch Osama in the next four years. Because we didn't bother to secure explosives in Iraq, you can count on us to make sure those explosives aren't used against you.

i-toons

I Hope Bush Can Swim Part VI

The first thorough assessment of a decades-long Arctic warming trend shows the region is undergoing profound changes, including sharp retreats of glaciers and sea ice, thawing of permafrost, and shifts in ocean and atmospheric conditions that are likely to harm native communities, wildlife and economic activities, while offering some benefits.

The report - conducted and reviewed by 250 scientists and representatives of six organizations representing Arctic native communities - while noting that conditions in the far north have varied naturally in the past, says the current shifts match longstanding scientific projections that the Arctic should be the first place to feel the effect of rising atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases from smokestacks and tail pipes.

It adds that the warming and other changes are likely to accelerate in this century because of the buildup in greenhouse gases.

Prompt efforts to curb such emissions could slow the pace of change sufficiently to allow communities and wildlife to adapt, the report says.
President Kerry's going to have to work fast to reverse this.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The What We Know Pledge

"We care about freedom and liberty. We care about our families. We care about our country. Because we care, we promise to do everything in our power to send that worthless sack of lying shit back to Crawford, Texas where he can live out the rest of his life pretending to be one of "the people" when he's really a fat cat, momma's boy who never met a fight he couldn't find somebody else to fight for him.

Furthermore, we promise to do everything in our power to help elect John Kerry as the next president of the United States, so that he can start to undo the tidal wave of damage that our current, un-elected President has wrought on every facet of this great land.

Finally, we promise that we will not rest until America is once again the champion of truth and justice in the world; that through our strength and compassion, a better, safer world will be forged for all of our children, regardless of how they look, or whom they worship, or whom they love.

And if you try and stand in our way; if you fight to keep the status quo of lies and greed that have taken over our government and our media, we will rise up against you with the power of what is right, and send you screaming and crying back to the dark, festering underside of whatever rock you crawled out from under.

This is our pledge. Because this is our country.

And we're taking it back."

How Did It Come To This?

Watch this video, then go kick Bush's ass out of the White House.

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UPDATE:
The response so far has been tremendous. If you can, please donate to help us buy BlogAds for this video. Otherwise, please spread the link to this page far and wide before election day.

Need more motivation? Click below to:

6

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The Tip Of The Iceberg

Via Today In Iraq:
The more than 320 tons of missing Iraqi high explosives at center stage in the U.S. presidential election are only a fraction of the weapons-related material that's disappeared in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion last year.

Huge amounts of arms and ammunition were stolen from military sites, and there's "ample evidence" that Iraqi insurgents are firing looted weapons at U.S. troops and using some of them in car bombs and improvised explosive devices, said a senior U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

U.N. officials also are concerned about the disappearance of sensitive equipment and controlled materials that could be used to develop nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

"If this equipment is finding itself on the open market, then anybody with money can buy it," said Dimitri Perricos, acting head of the U.N. Monitoring and Verification Commission (UNMOVIC), the U.N. weapons inspection agency.
Read more.

i-toons (racist edition)

Over the last few months that I've been blogging, I've noticed a growing number of right-leaning editorial cartoons - something I don't remember seeing in years past. I don't have a problem with this. This is America and there's certainly no rule that cartoons have to be liberal. But when they cross the line to racist, all bets are off.

I came across the cartoon below and was so stunned by what it's implying (or baldly stating) that I had to read it over a few times to make sure it was saying what I thought it was saying - that black people are criminals who are voting for Kerry because he'll appoint liberal judges who will let them all out of jail. If you read it the same way I do, why not drop the artist an email (mlester101@comcast.net) and let him know that "Homey don't play that".

Conspiracy Theory Of The Day

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Rubber Stamp

WASHINGTON — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commanders awarded a lucrative contract extension to Halliburton Co. this month by circumventing the organization's top contracting officer, who had objected to the proposal, according to documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Bunnatine Greenhouse, the Corps of Engineers' chief contracting officer, questioned a decision by commanders to award a contract extension to Halliburton, the oil services company run by Dick Cheney until he became vice president, without the competitive bidding designed to protect U.S. taxpayers.
 
The FBI is seeking to question Greenhouse, her lawyer said Thursday, marking an expansion of the bureau's ongoing investigation of other Halliburton contracts.

"I cannot approve this," Greenhouse wrote on one version of the proposal that is filled with her handwritten scrawls such as "Incorrect!"; "No! How!"; and "Not a valid reason.The Times has obtained previously undisclosed documents describing the nature of her objections to the Halliburton contract and e-mail discussions among Army Corps officials.

Despite Greenhouse's objections, the Army Corps on Oct. 8 awarded Halliburton the $165-million extension allowing Halliburton's subsidiary KBR to continue providing logistics services to troops stationed in the Balkans.

The final approval did not carry Greenhouse's signature, as normally required by contracting regulations. Instead, it was signed by her assistant, Lt. Col. Norbert Doyle, according to the documents.

The FBI is seeking to question Greenhouse on her allegations that Army Corps commanders deliberately sidestepped her contracting authority. The FBI's query expands an existing investigation into another Halliburton contract to supply fuel to Iraq, according to the documents and Greenhouse's lawyer, Michael Kohn.

Top Army Corps commanders criticized by Greenhouse for ignoring federal contracting rules declined to be interviewed, citing the investigation.

However, the e-mails suggest that the commanders felt Greenhouse's objections were unnecessarily delaying vital services for U.S. troops.

"To ensure that a fair investigation can proceed, the Army Corps will not provide further comment on the specifics of the matter," said Carol Sanders, an Army Corps spokeswoman.

Halliburton officials blamed politics.
Read more.

Going Postal

Internal e-mail reveals [Florida] Postal Service may have mishandled ballots

"As of today, we have supervisors and employees that state they have never been made aware of the procedures to be used," Parker wrote to his employees. "We continue to find absentee ballots mixed in with other classes of mail."

The e-mail stated that absentee ballots with improper postage sat idle in postal facilities, instead of being returned to their sender.

Although the ballots soon began trickling into elections officials, countless other voters continued to complain that they had not received the ballots they requested, or that they arrived weeks after requesting them.

Postal officials downplayed the e-mail on Thursday, saying Parker merely meant to stress proper procedure, said Earl C. Artis, Jr., a spokesman for the Postal Service.

"It was an effort to make certain that every manager was checking and double checking mail at their facility to ensure that we had processed and delivered every absentee ballot we had received," he said Thursday.

The same day the e-mail was sent out, Postal Service officials said they were not to blame for the backlog.

Worst. Commander-in-Chief. Ever.

From tomorrow's Bob Herbert column::
Not long ago I interviewed a soldier who was paralyzed from injuries he had suffered in a roadside bombing in Iraq. Like so many other wounded soldiers I've talked to, he expressed no anger and no bitterness about the difficult hand he's been dealt as a result of the war.

But when I asked this soldier, Eugene Simpson Jr., a 27-year-old staff sergeant from Dale City, Va., whom he had been fighting in Iraq - who, exactly, the enemy was - he looked up from his wheelchair and stared at me for a long moment. Then, in a voice much softer than he had been using for most of the interview, and with what seemed like a mixture of sorrow, regret and frustration, he said: "I don't know. That would be my answer. I don't know."
Read more.

Economy To Bush: "I'm Bringing Your Ass Down"

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Ghosts

As only Rude Pundit can:
Requiem For Rehnquist:

Chief Justice William Rehnquist reclines in his bed, sucking precious air through a hole in his throat. His body had turned against him, his cancerous thryoid actually strangling him; Rehnquist always knew cancer was a killer, but he's surprised to discover it's an active murderer. So he half-sits, half-lays in his bed in Bethesda, wondering if he should retire or return to the bench. There's ghosts around his bed - oh, so many ghosts, all of whom have come to Rehnquist to ask for justice at last, justice at last: the ghosts of blacks from the segragated South, an apartheid Rehnquist so long supported; the ghosts of wrongly convicted prisoners, jailed because of the reduction of rights for the accused; the ghosts of kids who died of cancer from decisions gutting the Clean Water and Clean Air acts. And let's not even get into the ghosts of women, of kids, of doctors due to his abortion rulings.

But the worst ghosts are the ones that haunt him from what may be his most reckless decision in Bush v. Gore, the decision that overturned years of his support of federalism and said that, indeed, a state's constitution was meaningless. Because the burden of Rehnquist, the burden of all Supreme Court justices, is the massive group of unintended consequences from a decision. And who would have thought? No, really, who would have thought it would have come to all these many ghosts, of dead Iraqis, of dead Americans, of starving people, of victims of a culture of cruelty that knows no bounds. Sure, sure, it may be wrong at this point to ascribe a soul to Rehnquist, but let us say that laying on one's potential deathbed in a naval hospital causes one to reflect. And to close one's eye's and listen to the wheezing of one's breath through a tube, trying to block out the staring eyes of the ghosts, their begging voices whispering, "Justice," over and over.

Dick Cheney might visit Rehnquist. They've known each other for many years. Cheney might bring Rehnquist, the widower, a porn magazine, maybe some smokes. It's all haha, funny. And maybe Rehnquist might say to Cheney that he's thinking he might step down, now, before the deluge of the election. If he wants to have anything that resembles a retirement in what may be the months before he dies, he thinks he might step down now. Cheney is not a man to be fucked with. And the idea of a 4-4 Supreme Court is the worst kind of fucking. Cheney might try to cajole Rehnquist, good-natured, a kind of "Hey-Bill-just-hang-in-there-for-a-couple-more-months" shuffle and jive. But Rehnquist can't stand anymore ghosts. They're stacked two, three high. And he knows that now that he inhabits the nexus between life and death, those ghosts will follow him everywhere.

Cheney is a vicious man. He has castrated Nigerian oil executives in front of other Nigerians and in front of British attorneys on a barren patch of land on Bonny Island. He has threatened to have generals buried up to their heads in the sands of the Iraqi wasteland and run over them with a Humvee if those generals dared to ask for more troops. He has wandered over to the CIA with a basket of puppies, and, for each piece of intelligence that didn't support invading Iraq, he's bitten the heads off them, one by one, spitting puppy heads at the cowering spooks.

So when Rehnquist tries to say he's thinking retirement now, too late for an appointment before the election, and with the potential loss of the Senate even if he wins, Cheney snaps. He pulls the tube out of Rehnquist's neck and whips out his cock. Rehnquist, wide-eyed, now wishing he had chosen death over the horror that is about to happen, gasps for air. "Gonna have to fuck your neck-hole, Bill," Cheney says, slapping his cock around, trying to get an erection, thinking about Mary and her partner 69ing, thinking about dismembered Iraqi children, all the things that usually make him hard. Rehnquist shakes his head. But he doesn't have to worry. Cheney can't get an erection. Sure, he makes a half-hearted attempt to fuck Rehnquist's trachea, but he finally gives up and re-inserts the tube.

Rehnquist, breathing now, nods, nods, nods. "Don't worry, Dick, I'll be there for you. Hell, I'll be back this week." Cheney winks at him and tells him to enjoy the porn as he leaves. Rehnquist wheezes a sigh of relief and closes his eyes, trying to block all the ghastliness and misery from his view.

Look Out Below

Bush's base might be wobblier than he thinks. From today's L.A. Times:
BROOKFIELD, Wis. — With their ardent, Bible-based opposition to abortion and gay marriage, evangelical Christians are a key target of the massive Republican get-out-the-vote drive heading into next week's election. Party leaders consider conservative Christians to be as near a lock for President Bush as any group can be.

But GOP strategists might want to have a chat with Tim Moore, an evangelical who teaches civics at a traditional Christian school near Milwaukee. He shares Bush's religious convictions, but says the president has lost his vote because of tax cuts for the wealthy and the administration's shifting rationales for invading Iraq.
 
"There's no way I'm going for Bush. That much I know," said Moore, 46. He remains undecided between Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and a third-party candidate.

Moore reflects a potential problem for Bush in Wisconsin and other closely contested states, where the GOP and conservative groups have invested heavily in turning out a record conservative Christian vote through mailings, voter guides, targeted phone calls and announcements by prominent evangelists such as Jerry Falwell and James Dobson aired on religious radio stations.

Some of these targeted voters remain conflicted — torn between their religious convictions on so-called values issues, and concerns typical of suburban moms and dads, such as jobs, healthcare, the Iraq war and the environment.

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Madness of King George

Baghdad Burning has this to say about our upcoming election:
Who am I hoping will win? Definitely Kerry. There’s no question about it. I want Bush out of the White House at all costs. (And yes- who is *in* the White House *is* my business- Americans, you made it my business when you occupied my country last year) I’m too realistic to expect drastic change or anything phenomenal, but I don’t want Bush reelected because his reelection (or shall I call it his ‘reassignment’) will condone the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. It will say that this catastrophe in Iraq was worth its price in American and Iraqi lives. His reassignment to the White House will sanction all the bloodshed and terror we’ve been living for the last year and a half.

I’ve heard all the arguments. His supporters are a lot like him- they’ll admit no mistakes. They’ll admit no deceit, no idiocy, no manipulation, no squandering. It’s useless. Republicans who *don’t* support him, but feel obliged to vote for him, write long, apologetic emails that are meant, I assume, to salve their own conscience. They write telling me that he should be ‘reelected’ because he is the only man for the job at this point. True, he made some mistakes and he told a few fibs, they tell me- but he really means well and he intends to fix things and, above all, he has a plan.

Let me assure you Americans- he has NO PLAN. There is no plan for the mess we’re living in- unless he is cunningly using the Chaos Theory as a basis for his Iraq plan. Things in Iraq are a mess and there is the sense that the people in Washington don’t know what they’re doing, and their puppets in Iraq know even less. The name of the game now in Iraq is naked aggression- it hasn’t been about hearts and minds since complete areas began to revolt. His Iraq plan may be summarized with the Iraqi colloquial saying, “A’athreh ib dafra”, which can be roughly translated to ‘a stumble and a kick’. In other words, what will happen, will happen and hopefully- with a stumble and a kick- things will move in the right direction.

So is Kerry going to be much better? I don’t know. I don’t know if he’s going to fix things or if he’s going to pull out the troops, or bring more in. I have my doubts about how he will handle the current catastrophe in Iraq. I do know this: nothing can be worse than Bush. No one can be worse than Bush. It will hardly be fair to any president after Bush in any case- it's like assigning a new captain to a drowning ship. All I know is that Bush made the hole and let the water in, I want him thrown overboard.

Someone once wrote to me, after a blog barrage against Bush, that I should tone down my insults against the president because I would lose readers who actually supported him. I lost those readers the moment I spoke out against the war and occupation because that is what Bush is all about. He’s not about securing America or Iraq or ‘the region’- he’s about covering up just how inadequate he is as a person and as a leader with war, nonexistent WMD, fabled terrorists and bogeymen.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Americans, the name of your country which once stood for ‘freedom and justice’ is tarnished worldwide. Your latest president has proved that the great American image of democracy is just that- an image. You can protest, you can demonstrate, you can vote- but it ends there. The reigns were out of your hands the moment Bush stepped into the White House. You were deceived repetitively and duped into two wars. Your sons and daughters are dying, and killing, in foreign lands. Your embassies are in danger all over the world. ‘America’ has become synonymous with ‘empire’, ‘hegemony’, and ‘warfare’. And why? All because you needed to be diverted away from the fact that your current president is a failure.

Some people associate the decision to go to war as a ‘strength’. How strong do you need to be to commit thousands of your countrymen and women to death on foreign soil? Especially while you and your loved ones sit safely watching at home. How strong do you need to be to give orders to bomb cities to rubble and use the most advanced military technology available against a country with a weak army and crumbling infrastructure? You don’t need to be strong- you need to be mad.

Americans- can things be worse for you? Can things be worse for us in Iraq? Of course they can… only imagine- four more years of Bush.

i-toons

Bizzaro World Part II

In another clear indication that we went through the looking glass in 2000 (see here for the another), the FBI reports that violent crime is down 3%. Now I know what you're thinking, "what's so bizarre about that?" Well, nothing. Except when you consider the idea that for the first time (probably ever) a sitting President is not touting the fact that the country is safer now than it was before.

I mean can you think of a single other election when the incumbent wasn't shouting numbers like this from the highest rooftops to show how tough he was on crime? Of course not. But in Bizarro World, being safe doesn't fit in with Bush's 'ALL FEAR, ALL THE TIME" mantra. He needs the electorate scared stupid to have any chance at reelection. I mean, my God, if people actually felt safe they might start to notice how hard Bush has been raping this country during the last four years. And then, well, they might just grab their torches and their pitchforks and take to the streets.

Not that their's anything wrong with that.

The Politics of War

WaPo is reporting that the Bush Administration is preparing a funding request for the Iraq war in the $70 billion dollar range. (Of course they don't plan to officially ask for this until after the election.) On top of monies already spent and promised, this will bring the total cost of the war north of $225 billion. The key passages for me:
The senior Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said final figures may be shaped by the outcome of the presidential election and events in Iraq. But assuming force levels will remain constant in Iraq at about 130,000 troops, the final bill will be "roughly" $70 billion for the military alone, he said.

In making cost estimates for the supplemental budget request, Pentagon officials have distanced themselves from the Bush administration's public optimism about trends in Iraq. Instead, they make the fairly pessimistic assumption that about as many troops will be needed there next year as are currently on the ground.
- - - - -
The White House has been careful to keep the war spending numbers "close to the vest," Dyer said. But Pentagon officials have been working on the request for two to three months, even as they put together their far larger budget request for fiscal 2006, the Pentagon official said.
Not to mention the cost of invading Iran and Syria. Oops did I say that out loud?

I Hope Bush Can Swim Part V

NASA Expert Criticizes Bush on Global Warming Policy
"A top NASA climate expert who twice briefed Vice President Dick Cheney on global warming plans to criticize the administration's approach to the issue in a lecture at the University of Iowa tonight and say that a senior administration official told him last year not to discuss dangerous consequences of rising temperatures.

The expert, Dr. James E. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, expects to say that the Bush administration has ignored growing evidence that sea levels could rise significantly unless prompt action is taken to reduce heat-trapping emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes.
- - - -
In a draft of the talk, a copy of which Dr. Hansen provided to The Times yesterday, he wrote that President Bush's climate policy, which puts off consideration of binding cuts in such emissions until 2012, was likely to be too little too late.

Actions to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions "are not only feasible but make sense for other reasons, including our economic well-being and national security," Dr. Hansen wrote. "Delay of another decade, I argue, is a colossal risk."

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Help me out here. Say you're a Republican (yes I know it's offensive, but we're just pretending) and say a Democratic president had just let terrorists steal several hundred tons of explosives of such high quality they can be used to detonate a nuclear bomb. You'd be chomping at the bit, crying impeachment from the highest tower? Right? Wrong. By simply changing the party of the President we get this incredible response to the story from Redstate.org.
So 380 tons of fairly decent explosives -- mind you, not nukes, not even on a daisy-cutter scale, and suitable for everything from construction to manufacturing nukes -- went missing some time between January of 2003 and the present. In a worst-case scenario, thousands of terrorists will have access to high-yield explosives without having the Iranians donate them free of charge.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but what's the big deal?
Other than that you're an idiot? But the blog goes on:
The story is fairly explicit that:
A senior Bush administration official said that during the initial race to Baghdad, American forces "went through the bunkers, but saw no materials bearing the I.A.E.A. [International Atomic Energy Agency] seal." It is unclear whether troops ever returned. [...] I.A.E.A. experts say they assume that just before the invasion the Iraqis followed their standard practice of moving crucial explosives out of buildings, so they would not be tempting targets. If so, the experts say, the Iraqi must have broken seals from the arms agency on bunker doors and moved most of the HMX to nearby fields, where it would have been lightly camouflaged - and ripe for looting.

Again, in a worst-case scenario, the armed forces raced past the bunker, didn't see any explosives, kept racing, then didn't secure the place because the CPA didn't assign it a high-enough priority. An error, to be sure. Potentially a deadly one. Proof of malfeasance or utter incompetence? No.

Proof of too few troops on the ground? Maybe. As Adam Yoshida argues, that's not a cure-all per se, but I'm willing to entertain that argument. Indeed, I'm willing to accept that argument, if it means that the Democrat Party (and their non-partisan friends at the Times) have suddenly become full-on neo-realists. That should make foreign policy discussions much easier for the next decade or so.

Of course, they're not. And if left to their own devices, they would have put precisely no troops on the ground, or, in the alternative, would have Desert Oned it. Let us not use kid gloves here: This is isolationism and anti-Bushism masquerading as hard-nosed realism.

And what, precisely, are the ramifications of this? Well, more explosives for the bad guys, regardless of whether the explosives were on the loose before, during, or after the invasion. But, as someone who deals with the construction industry a good bit, I kinda have to point out that if you're determined, it's not all that hard to come up with some pretty impressive explosives without too much hassle.

But concede, if you will, that this adds arsenal to our enemies for free. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that they aren't getting this sort of thing free of charge from Iran (ATTENTION NEOCONS: THAT IS YOUR NEXT TARGET). If we kill the bad guys in sufficient numbers that they cannot use the explosives -- if, like Osama, they are so much scattered DNA beneath some rubble -- you'll find their operational capacity takes a dive. And the ones we don't kill, maim, or capture will have larger and larger disincentives to use any sort of explosive, no matter how many Times exclusives are run on them. And frankly, I'm not convinced (nor, based on polls, are most Americans convinced) that Kerry will do this thing. I know Bush will.

Bottom line: It is not a good thing that the bad people have more explosives (or maybe they already had them?). Doesn't change any part of the equation for November 2.
This is such utter bullshit I am actually stunned. Forget for a moment the part about invading Iran next, it is precisely this "kill 'em all and let God sort them out" mentality that got us into this mess in the first place. John Kerry was absolutely right when he said strength without intelligence is as bad as weakness.

Ask anyone in the Arab world who isn't on our payroll and they will tell you that anti-American anger is at an all time high. Every time we drop a bomb on a house full of women and children in Falluja we add to that anger and the growing insurgency inside Iraq. So what exactly is Redstate proposing? That we kill them all? And who do we become in the process?

No. We're better than that. We have to be. Because if we're not, we're no better than the ignorance and blind hared we fight against.

Bush's Pharmacist Put On High Alert

Clinton adds Nevada and New Mexico to his campaign for Kerry.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

More "Unbiased" Reporting

So the "BIG SCOOP" from the right has turned out to be a claim that Kerry never talked to some foreign ambassadors he said to he talked to before the war began. Seems pretty weak if you ask me. But then I see this little "breaking news" blog over at the right-wing Redstate.org
I'm pleased to introduce Red State readers to our newest and most welcome contributor, Joel Mowbray. Joel is the author of the Washington Times piece we referred to on Saturday - which will run page 1, above-the-fold tomorrow.. Joel is a long-time columnist, investigative journalist, and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How The State Department Threatens American Security . He's a dogged reporter -- see, for example, his epic series of confrontations with the State Department's Richard Boucher, one of which led to his being "detained" -- and he's the first person that Red State approached once it became clear that there might be a story here.

He'll be blogging here at Red State to cover developments in the story and respond to any critiques and comments raised. We're lucky to have him, and happy to be able to provide a place for him to cover the story in a way that doesn't depend on print deadlines or studio time.
Nope. No bias here.

Truth

from No More Mister Nice Blog
A 21-year-old woman named Victoria Snelgrove died after being shot by cops during the celebration of the Red Sox playoff victory ... and a Boston paper had the unbelievable bad taste to publish graphic photos of her wounds (for which it has now had to apologize).

Is it surprising that the paper in question is the right-wing, Kerry-hating Boston Herald? (For that matter, was it surprising that John Lennon's morgue photo wound up on the front page of Rupert Murdoch's New York Post?)

These are the papers we can always turn to for prattle about "traditional values." Apparently, "traditional values" don't include refraining oneself from making a cheap buck off a corpse.

Stolen Explosives At Work

A ROADSIDE bomb has blown up near an American patrol in central Baghdad, wounding three Iraqi civilians. An Interior Ministry spokesman says the blast, earlier said to have been caused by a car bomb, occurred in Hurriya Square, near the Australian embassy in the Jadriya area on the east bank of the Tigris river. Reuters television footage showed a US armoured vehicle that was knocked off the road by the blast.
More to come.

Elivs Has Entered The Building

"Clinton hits the campaign trail.

Bush ups his meds.

Pave The Earth

Why do they hate America so?
Under the Bush administration, 2.6 million acres of Utah land that had been shielded from development was suddenly open for business.

The actions were part of a sweeping policy shift by Secretary of Interior Gale A. Norton with implications far beyond Utah. Not only does the new policy cancel protection of the Utah land, it withholds the interim safeguards traditionally applied to areas with wilderness potential until Congress decides whether to make them part of the national wilderness system.

But what most distinguishes the administration's position is its claim that under applicable law the Interior Department is barred — forever — from identifying and protecting wild land the way it has for nearly 30 years.
Think about that. They weren't satisfied with just gutting current environmental regulations. The Bush Administration clearly wanted to make it harder for any President in the future to protect our environment.
The Bush policy was set forth in the April 2003 settlement of a lawsuit brought by Utah against the Clinton administration. Utah had lost that case in federal appeals court in 1998 but was allowed to file an amended complaint five years later.

The state sought to revoke wilderness protection for the 2.6 million acres. But, with Bush in office, Utah pursued a more ambitious land-use agenda — one shared by like-minded politicians in many Western states. That agenda was spelled out by the state's lead lawyer in a memo shortly before the settlement with the Bush administration.

"We need a clear statement," the lawyer, Connie Brooks, wrote to an Interior Department attorney. "No more wilderness."
- - - - -
Tom Finger, a BLM wilderness specialist in Utah, characterized the policy change this way: "We went from a capital W to a very small w."

Norton's policy reversal sent shock waves through the world of organized conservation and beyond.

To a lot of people, including many members of Congress, the Bush policy looked like an abdication of a responsibility carried out by every president since Lyndon B. Johnson: to add to America's inventory of wilderness for the sake of wildlife, clean water sources, scientific study and human enjoyment.

Michael Blumm, a professor of environmental law at Lewis & Clark Northwestern School of Law in Portland, Ore., said it was "unparalleled" for a government agency to relinquish "for all time" authority that the agency had previously exerted.

"I think they gave up the store," said University of Kansas law professor George Coggins, the author of two books on public land law.
- - - -
Former Clinton administration officials contend that the policy changes reflect more than a difference of opinion over land-management law.

"This settlement reeks of hostility to wilderness, to the whole idea of taking any steps to protect wild land in its natural condition," said John Leshy, the chief lawyer for the Interior Department under Clinton.

Martha Marks, president of REPAmerica, a Republican environmental organization, has also spoken out against the administration's wilderness policies, including the Utah settlement.

"If conservatives don't conserve, who will?"
I firmly believe that the damage done by this Administration has barely been uncovered. For four years they have been giving away the store to their corporate pimps. Only time will tell whether the damage done can be reversed.

Florida Newspapers to Bush: FU

The Freedom Pusher can't be happy about not getting single endorsement in this key swing state.

All Fear, All the Time Part III

I have been saying for a while that the Bush Campaign's voter supression plan is bigger than just throwing away ballots and scaring black people (see here, here, and here).

Right on schedule, Bush today renewed his warning that terrorists might try and strike us on or around election day. Bush then added (at the height of disingenuousness): "Again, I don't want to alarm anybody, because there's nothing specific at this point in time."

Look for Tom Ridge to appear before us sometime within the next 10 days. The ultimate goal? To try and keep people home on election day.

Boom

Josh Marshall is all over this New York Times based story (reg. req.) about the 380 tons of high caliber explosives that were stolen during/after our invasion, and the subsequent cover-up by the Bush Administration.
"It is apparently widely believed within the US government that those looted explosives are what in many, perhaps most, cases is being used in car bombs and suicide attacks against US troops. That is, according to TPM sources and sources quoted in this evening's Nelson Report, where the story first broke.

One administration official told Nelson, "This is the stuff the bad guys have been using to kill our troops, so you can’t ignore the political implications of this, and you would be correct to suspect that politics, or the fear of politics, played a major role in delaying the release of this information."
- - - -
It's a story that really brings together the adminstration's two cardinal sins: dishonesty and incompetence. And what other stories are they trying to push back until after November 2nd?"

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Election Meet Nutshell

You cannot lead the world without listening to it. You cannot make the Middle East more democratic while making it more anti-American. You cannot make the United States more secure while using security as a partisan weapon. And you cannot demand accountable government abroad while undermining it at home.
TNR's endorsement of Kerry.

Sniffing Butt and Taking Names

triumph
Triumph takes on spin alley (via Krup). The best exchange?

TRIUMPH
(to Karl Rove)
You're Bush's brains.
(beat)
I was expecting a smaller man.
(walking away)
Yes. I'm a dead man.

"Fuck That Shit Up"

soldiers2
Back to Iraq on the frontlines (follow the link to watch the videos):
Thanks to a civilian source in Mosul, I have some footage of an attack on or near the American consulate up there, and the soldiers' response. If you don't find it impressive in its ferocity, you'll at least agree that it's loud. I'm sorry I can't stream these files. My server doesn't support it. But you can download the files by clicking on the images above.

The back story on this battle is thus: A civilian in Mosul sent me this footage of an August battle between American forces and insurgents in Mosul. The people in shorts and t-shirts are not contractors; they're soldiers who got caught up in the battle when it flared up suddenly. They popped on some body army and got into the fight.
From my source:
It's deadly around here -- we are right against the city, not out in the boonies. I wasn't here ten days before a firefight broke out about 50 meters from the office I work in. [This is the video sent to me -- CA] I've lost count of the car bombs, and the mortars are commonplace. Had two guys in a Stryker brigade killed last Tuesday -- car bomb outside the gate. Avoid this place -- do not come up here; without military security you will get killed.
These videos were shot by a soldier and given to the civilian. I suspect it was a little digital camera that had MP4 recording capability, but I don't really know. Anyway, this shows you a little of what combat -- and life -- is like in Mosul.

We've been hearing that Mosul is in danger of turning into a Fallujah of the north. When I get back to Iraq in mid-November -- yes, you read that correctly -- I'll be up north and have an embed opportunity. Then we'll get to see more of what's going on.

Founding Father Quote Of The Day



"A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither"
- Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Conspiracy Theory Of The Day

It's not about the oil, it's about the drugs.

As I noted in my recent post Freedom Pusher, drug use in Iraq is on the rise. Now comes a BBC article entitled "Drug smugglers exploit Iraq chaos" which exposes a big rise in drug trafficking along the Iraq/Jordan border.
"Mr Majali believes the drugs are coming from Afghanistan, then being brought through Iran and the Kurdish areas of Iraq. From Jordan they are mostly sent on to the rest of the Middle East..."
Let's take a moment to think about this. First we liberate Afghanistan, where opium production has gone through the roof (now that the Taliban are "gone"). Then we invade Iraq, causing chaos and allowing drug smugglers to run free.

Coincidence?

Before you call me crazy, consider this. Oil supplies are running out. Sure it won't be tomorrow or even within the next decade. But the writing is on the wall. Oil prices are over $50 a barrel and experts predict they're heading for $100. Even Republicans will eventually be forced to confront the need for alternative energy sources. Oil will cease to be profitable. A trillion dollar industry will cease to exist. A replacement will be needed. One that won't be so easy to kill. One with - let's say - an unlimited shelf life.

Drugs.

Face it, they'll never end. We need our escapes too badly. The War on Drugs is a fairy tale politicians talk about to make people think they're tough on crime. But wait a second, you think, is he really saying that the Bush empire and its friends at ExxonMobil are getting into the crack business?

Well, this is a conspiracy theory and by their very nature conspiracy theories are shocking and unbelievable. But they are also based in fact - however far removed.

So until somebody disproves it, I'm calling him:

Telling It Like It Is

"He is brain dead"
Joe Biden on President Bush

i-toons

Read At Your Own Risk

They're watching you.

Another Day, Another Boost To Iraqi Insurgents

FALLUJA - US warplanes killed a family of six in raids against rebels led by al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, while a top international aid agency suspended Iraq operations on Wednesday after its manager was kidnapped.

A Reuters witness saw a man and a woman and four children, two boys and two girls, being pulled out of the rubble of a razed home in the rebel-held city of Falluja, about 50km west of Baghdad.

The US military denied a family of six was killed, saying it launched four strikes against safehouses used by Zarqawi's fighters.

"Intelligence sources indicate a known Zarqawi propagandist is passing false reports to the media," it said in a statement.

Reuters television footage showed men chanting "There is no God but Allah!" as they carried the body of the father of the family of six.

"Is this the gift that (interim Iraqi Prime Minister) Iyad Allawi is giving to the people of Falluja?" asked one man, pointing to the small bodies of two of the children lying in the trunk of a car. "Every day they strike Falluja."

At least eight civilians were killed and 11 US soldiers wounded in clashes in Samarra, a northern town the US military said it had pacified following an offensive earlier this month.

A Percentage Point For Every Promised Fulfilled

An analysis by Knight Ridder shows that Bush has completed 46% of the 179 things he set out to do when "elected" in 2000. Pick a poll, any poll, and you will see Bush hovering right around 46%. Coincidence?

Who Made This Big Mess?

"After nearly 19 months of combat, more than 1,000 American soldiers dead and $119 billion spent, the central question about Iraq isn't whether it will become a beacon of democracy in the Middle East but whether the United States can prevent it from becoming a black hole of instability."
So begins the latest story from KnightRidder. As others (Kos, Marshall, etc.) have noted, KnightRidder is one of the painfully few beacons of journalistic hope still burning in this country. The article continues:
"Other experts, including former U.S. generals and scholars who've studied Iraq's history, agree that the options are bleak.

The only real choice, Dobbins and others argue, is for the United States to continue to fight the insurgents while working to train a competent Iraqi security force that can pave the way for an orderly American withdrawal. That could take from two to 10 years, they said.

Moreover, few experts believe that the end result of a protracted war will match the Bush administration's original vision for Iraq: a democratic model that could invite reform in the rest of the Middle East.

The best the United States can hope for in the end is probably an authoritarian, Western-friendly "semi-democracy," said Yoni Fighel, a retired Israeli colonel who was a military governor in the West Bank from 1987 to 1996.

A worse possibility, from the American point of view, is an Islamic fundamentalist government similar to Iran's and hostile to American interests.

And the worst-case scenario, experts say, would be an abrupt withdrawal that leaves Iraq in chaos. Such an Iraq, torn by civil strife and filled with unguarded weapons stockpiles, would quickly become an exporter of terrorism and a nightmare for its neighbors.

A senior Bush administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that there will be continued instability even after January's elections. But he said he was heartened by the fact that, as the insurgency grows stronger, Iraq's political figures are jockeying in a political process that hasn't turned bloody.

Yet some experts argue that, even if Americans and Iraqis do wrestle the country into stability over the course of years, the stark failures of the occupation and the damage they've done to U.S. credibility rank as a major foreign policy debacle."
Now obviously this mess is going to confront whomever is elected President on November 2nd. But the fact that there is still a significant portion of this country who feels that we're better off sticking with the guy who has us burried up to our neck in this anthill with honey coming out of our eyes is mystifying. They truly believe that Bush is a tough guy and that Kerry is not. For them, then, I'm going to be blunt.

Which of these guys has ever killed anyone?

Unless Bush has an even bigger skeleton in his closet than snorting coke at Camp David, I'm going to have to go with Kerry. When the shit hit the fan in Vietnam did John Kerry sit their reading My Pet Goat? No, he attacked a group of "insurgents" who were firing at him with machine guns. He risked his life to pull a man out of the water. Bush is not a tough guy. He only plays one on t.v.

I Hope Bush Can Swim Part IV

Global warming threatens to reverse human progress and make international targets on halving world poverty by 2015 unattainable, a study published today said.

The claim comes from charities including Greenpeace, Oxfam and Action Aid who have joined forces, under the banner of the Working Group on Climate Change and Development, to release the report, called Up In Smoke, in London today.

The group's warning follows a summer in which hurricanes Jeanne and Ivan wreaked havoc across the Caribbean and Bangladesh saw its worst flooding for years.

In a world in which global warming is a reality, it says, such severe weather events are likely to become more frequent and extreme - and the poor will be hardest hit.
- - - -
Andrew Simms, author and policy director of the New Economics Foundation, which organised it, said: "Thousands of people, from the grassroots to Gordon Brown, are aiming to make poverty history, but global warming has been critically overlooked. Like a fire smouldering in the basement it threatens to burn down all they have built up.

We're Winning The Ground War (No, Not That One)

The Guardian reports on Karl Rove's biggest nightmare:
More than 120,000 of the new Ohio registrations are from Cuyahoga county, surrounding Cleveland, and many of them are like the Phillipses: poor and African-American, and generally less likely than the average voter to turn out on polling day.

Over the past year voter registration drives have reached deep into the areas of under-privilege, signing up ex-convicts, residents of subsidised and public housing projects, young people, single mothers and thousands of shut-in senior citizens.

They discovered people who had never voted. "Either they didn't feel it was important to them, or they were poor and didn't feel it touched their lives, or they were young and they hadn't been educated about their rights," says Judy Gallo, the co-chair of the Greater Cleveland voter registration coalition.

Although the coalition is officially non-partisan, the newcomers can reliably be counted on to vote Democratic. Their votes could make all the difference in Ohio, where Al Gore lost by just four percentage points.

"This is light years of difference away from 2000," says Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a Democratic congresswoman from Ohio and the national co-chair of the Kerry campaign. "What is really going to kick their butt is the new registrations."
- - - -
In past elections, political organisers say they could count on about 40% of newly registered voters actually casting their ballot. This year they are aiming for 65%, says Arnold Pinkney, the Cleveland director of America Coming Together.

Mr Pinkney has worked on every election since Jimmy Carter in 1976, and he says he has never detected such enthusiasm. From now until the election, volunteers and paid workers aim to contact every registered voter at least three times to make sure they turn up on the day.

"I am going to drag them there if I have to," says Meryl Johnson, a vice-president of the Cleveland Teachers' Union.

For the last few months she has spent three hours a day on top of her job, writing letters or making phone calls urging people to vote. She has even set homework for her eighth-grade English class on the importance of voting in the hope it might rub off on their parents.

"The most exciting thing for me is, when Kerry wins it is going to make believers out of a whole lot of poor people," she says.

"They are going to know that their vote does matter."

Emperor Bush

Pat Robertson says Bush is on a mission from God:
"I think God's blessing him, and I think it's one of those things that, even if he stumbles and messes up — and he's had his share of goofs and gaffes — I just think God's blessing is on him," Robertson said. "And you remember, I think the Chinese used to say, you know, it's the blessing of heaven on the emperor. And I think the blessing of heaven is on Bush. It's just the way it is."

Shh! Don't Tell Anyone

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bizzaro World

Four years ago next month marks the anniversary of our descent through a rip in the space time continium into Bizzaro World. How do I know this? Because the real President of the United States gave a speech today. An inciteful, honest and incredibly necessary speech. It's a compelling and depressing laundry list of the lies and malicious fallacies which have brought us the edge.
At the urging of the Bush White House, Republican leaders in Congress have even taken the unprecedented step of routinely barring Democrats from serving on many important conference committees, and then allowing lobbyists for special interests to actually draft brand- new legislative language introduced in conference committees, language that has not been considered or voted upon in either the House or the Senate.

It has also become common for President Bush to rely on special interests for his basic information about the policies important to them. And he trusts what they tell him over any contrary view that might emerge from public debate. He has in effect outsourced the truth.

Most disturbing of all: his contempt for the rule of reason and his early successes in persuading the nation that his ideologically based views accurately describe the world have now tempted him to the hubristic an genuinely dangerous illusion that reality is itself a commodity that can be created with clever public relations and propaganda skills; and, where specific controversies are concerned, simply purchased as a turnkey operation from the industries most affected.

George Orwell said, and I quote, "The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue. And then when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right." Intellectually it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time. The only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality -- usually on a battlefield.
- - - -
A former Republican governor of Minnesota, Elmer Andersen, announced in Minneapolis that for the first time in his life he was abandoning the Republican Party in this election because Bush and Cheney, in his words, "believe their own spin. Both men spew outright untruths with evangelistic fervor," end quote. He attributed his switch to President Bush's, quote, "misguided and blatantly false misrepresentations of the threat of weapons of mass destruction. The terrorist seat," he said, "was Afghanistan. Iraq had no connection to this act of terror, was not a serious threat to the United States, as this president claimed, and there was no relation, it is now obvious, to any serious weaponry." Governor Andersen was also offended, he said, by Bush's, quote, "phony posturing as cocksure leader of the free world," period, end quote.

Now, Andersen and many other Republicans are joining with Democrats and millions of independents this year in proudly supporting the Kerry-Edwards ticket. In every way, John Kerry and John Edwards represent an approach to governing that is the opposite of the Bush-Cheney approach. Where Bush remains out of touch, Kerry is a proud member of the reality-based community. Where Bush will bend to his corporate backers, Kerry stands strongly with the public interest.

My friends, there are now 15 days left before our country makes this fateful choice for us and the whole world, and it is particularly crucial for one final reason: the last feature of Bush's ideology involves ducking accountability for his mistakes. He has neutralized accountability by the Congress by intimidating the Republican leadership and transforming the Republican majority into a true rubber stamp, unlike any that has ever existed in American history. He has appointed right-wing judges who have helped to insulate him from accountability in the courts. And if he wins again, he will likely get to appoint up to four Supreme Court justices. He has ducked accountability from the press with his obsessive secrecy and refusal to conduct the public's business openly. So there is now only one center of power left in our Constitution and in our country capable of at long last holding George W. Bush accountable, and it is you, the voters. There are 15 days left. Help me and help John Kerry and John Edwards take our country back. Thank you.
I firmly believe that if Dubya is reelected this country will enter a period of upheaval. Of revolution.

Ed Koch was on The Daily Show last night. He is voting for George Bush even though he disagrees with every single one of Bush's domestic policies. His feeling is that the war on terrorism is more important than anything else. But is it really? Is it more important than our civil liberties? Is it more important than the health of our citizens? Is it more important than a strong economy? Is it more important than truth, compassion or reason? Isn't this rush to war exactly what a terrorist would want? For us to throw away all that makes this country great in order to fight an enemy we don't even bother to take the time to understand.

If George W. Bush is reelected on November 2nd, the terrorists won't be the ones destroying this country. Bush will.

Founding Father Quote Of The Day

"By oft repeating an untruth, men come to believe it themselves." - Thomas Jefferson








.

Stupid Guy

From Media Matters:
FOX News Channel host and radio host Bill O'Reilly remarked about lawsuits filed in connection with an allegation of sexual harassment against him on the October 18 edition of The Radio Factor:

CALLER: One quick thing. My money's on your side in this unfortunate lawsuit you're going through.

O'REILLY: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

CALLER: You gotta take Sister Mary Peters with you when you're with single women.

O'REILLY: Listen, I have to say this -- I had to protect my family, this is my fault. I was stupid, and I'm not a victim, but I can't allow certain things to happen. And I appreciate your support, we get thousands of letters, but I'm not -- I am stupid. I am a stupid guy, and every guy listening knows how it is. That we are very stupid at times.

But there comes a time in life where you gotta stand and fight. And I knew these people were gonna do this, I knew they were gonna do everything they could to try to destroy me and the channel. And I just made the decision that I'm just gonna ride it out. And I'm gonna fight 'em, because what's right is right.
Fight on, Stupid Guy. Fight on. (But get your checkbook ready because you just admitted you did it. Duh.)

Monday, October 18, 2004

Is Alan Greenspan on The Crack? Part II



Oil broke the $55 a barrel mark today and yet Mr. Greenspan insists that the record price does not yet represent a serious threat to the economy. I wonder whether a collapse of the commercial airline industry would do the trick?

Today's Atlanta Journal Constitution is running an article entitled "Fuel bills cripple airlines". Now I know this is no "Bin Laden Determined To Attack Within United States," but you would think that this might get his attention:
"Collectively, U.S. airlines are expected to spill $5 billion in red ink this year and $2.2 billion in 2005, according to Michael Linenberg, airline analyst for Merrill Lynch. If oil prices remain above $50 a barrel next year, losses could widen to $6.5 billion."
Again, compared to our $7.4 trillion debt, this is chump change, but given that we're all going to be walking soon when we can't afford an airline ticket or a full tank in our Cadillac Humungoid, I think the economy might just be affected.

It's been asked before, but bears repeating: "Where are this country's impacted CEOs demanding greater fuel efficiency and alternative energy sources?
Hell, if China can design a car that runs on hydrogen peroxide in three months, don't doubt for a second that this great country couldn't design a car that gets 80 miles to the gallon - or better yet, one that doesn't run on gas at all.

American Hero of the Day Fired

As a reward for shining light into the dark heart of Sinclair, Jon Lieberman was fired and escorted out of the building scant hours after criticizing his right-wing bosses.
"[Lieberman] said late Monday, "I don't like not knowing where my next move will be and how I'm going to take care of my family." He added: "I really feel like I can sleep at night and I can be OK with my decision" to criticize Sinclair publicly. ... I know I stood up for the principles of objectivity. In journalism, all we have is credibility and objectivity."
In this day and age when brave and objective journalists are an endagered species we salute Jon Lieberman for standing up for what's right. May he have a dozen job offers waiting for him in the morning.

Krugman Feels The Draft

The money quote:
"The reality is that the Iraq war, which was intended to demonstrate the feasibility of the Bush doctrine, has pushed the U.S. military beyond its limits. Yet there is no sign that Mr. Bush has been chastened. By all accounts, in a second term the architects of that doctrine, like Paul Wolfowitz, would be promoted, not replaced. The only way this makes sense is if Mr. Bush is prepared to seek a much larger Army - and that means reviving the draft."
Read more.

i-toons

American Hero of the Day

Via The O'Franken Factor
JON LEIBERMAN BLASTS SINCLAIR MEDIA

Who’s Jon Leiberman?  None other than Sinclair’s DC bureau chief.  From the Baltimore Sun:

The Washington bureau chief for Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group’s news division angrily denounced his employer last night for plans to air an hourlong program that is to include incendiary allegations against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry for his anti-war activism three decades ago.

“It’s biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election,” said Jon Leiberman, Sinclair’s lead political reporter for more than a year. “For me, it’s not about right or left—it’s about what’s right or wrong in news coverage this close to an election.” ... Leiberman said he was anguished by his decision to speak out. But, he said, the influence of commentator Mark Hyman and Chief Executive David D. Smith has been devastating. “There is going to be a concerted effort on the part of my colleagues to make this as balanced a program as they can,” Leiberman said. “But the selection of the material—dumping it on the news department, and giving them four days, and running it this close to the election—it’s indefensible, in my opinion.” ... Now, Leiberman said, the conservative bias of Sinclair executives is too palpable to ignore. “All I want is for them to address these issues,” Leiberman said. “Let the journalists do what the journalists do—cover the news."

As previously posted, you can visit dKosopedia for ways to fight back against Sinclair.

Founding Father Quote Of The Day

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."
Thomas Jefferson

Conspiracy Theory Of The Day

Is the flu vaccine shortage the Bush Administration's solution to the looming Social Security crisis?

Discuss

Inside A Kidnapping

From Christopher Albritton's Back to Iraq
Saturday around 2 p.m or so, John was picked up about 500m from our hotel compound. He turned out of the front gate, took the first right -- as most of us do -- and a car stopped in front of him and a tailing car pulled in behind him. Four men with pistols jumped out and three of them managed to force their way into the car, putting guns to the heads of John, his driver and his translator. They then took him to western Baghdad, held him overnight and interrogated him.

We're not sure what all happened during his captivity, but he was able to persuade his captors that he was an Australian and a friend to the resistance and not to the Americans. It appears, by the kidnappers' statements and questions, that they were nationalists and not jihadis, lucky for John. Also, he was lucky for not being American, because the kidnappers said if he had been, they'd have killed him quickly. They had tracked him for three days, they said, and proved it by asking him why he had gone to the Green Zone and to the Palestine on two separate days. This was how they were able to pick him up so easily.

At one point, one man disappeared, saying he would check out John's story. He came back after about 15 minutes, John said, convinced John was who he said he was. We suspect they Googled John, because they referenced previous stories he had covered.

After some hours, his captors relaxed and said that he would be released in the morning. But before he was released, a sheikh from a village near Fallujah arrived. He again interrogated John, but this time it was much more aggressive questioning, John said. Finally, the sheikh said that while they were convinced he was a man of good heart and a journalist, he would not be freed Sunday as promised because Australia was a member of the Coalition and thus, a “warring nation” as Zarqawi has said. Instead, the sheikh would consult with his supervisors in Fallujah on what to do.

Now, this was serious. There's no doubt the sheikh would return to fetch John and turn him over to al-Tahwid w'al-Jihad. So, in a fit of humanity, after the sheikh left, the nationalist captors took John and released him. We're unsure of the ramifications of this act at this point and if there will be any retaliation within the Sunni resistance or against us. It's possible.

As frightening as John's experience was for him, it shows that journalists' plans for “security through obscurity” has been blown out the window. John's captors said they received a phone call that he was on the move and that the time for taking him was now. This fits in with our intelligence that there are kidnap teams up and down Jadirya Street looking for us. His captors said they had penetrated the staff at the Hamra Hotel, where many of us live. They have people in the compound watching us. They know who we are and they're looking for “soft targets” -- reporters moving around with little security or few precautions.

John was lucky -- very lucky. He was picked up by nationalists who, we hear, are getting out of the kidnapping and beheading business. He wasn't an American. He had a pedigree of lefty, anti-war reporter. And he fell in with a (more or less) kind-hearted bunch who were just doing their job as national resistance fighters. (He said they expressed concern that he wasn't married and that his living arrangements in the Hamra weren't safe. Bizarrely, they offered to let him stay with them the next time he came to Iraq -- I'm sure.)

John's story is indicative of the situation facing reporters -- and other Westerners -- in Iraq. They told him they were really looking for security contractor or CIA staffer. I haven't left the compound since I returned from Beirut; I haven't had a specific reason to. And now, without a specific reason, I won't be going out. This is why you won't be seeing any “Iraqi on the street” stories here. They're too hostile; the population has turned against Westerners and the press. While they may not be actively assisting the resistance, I fear they would stand by idly if I were dragged into a car and taken away. The police won't be much help either. Once, when John was being transported from one house to another, his kidnappers let him take off his blindfold. A cop car was cruising by just as he did so, making no move to stop a car carrying a blindfolded Westerner.

My options are limited but they seem to be go north to Kurdistan for a while. I'm warming to this idea as it's been an under-covered region, as usual, and it would allow me to keep working. I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do, but I have to be careful with what I say. I can't assume any potential kidnappers don't know about this blog.

Scrubs

Oh, The Irony

Intelligence vets are still musing over Michael Kostiw, whose reported shoplifting forced his withdrawal this month as the CIA's prospective executive director. But what dismays the spooks most isn't the ethics or the propriety of the case--it's that Kostiw had served as a case officer for 10 years and still couldn't manage to shoplift a package of bacon without getting caught in a Northern Virginia market. Says one old spy: "It's a perfect metaphor for the sorry state of the CIA."

How Can I Be Broke? I Still Have Checks Left (Part II)

In a politically embarrassing development for a president being hammered for ballooning the national debt, the United States has now officially reached its legal borrowing ceiling of $7.384 trillion. Fiscal smoke and mirrors can keep things going for a few weeks. But Treasury Secretary John Snow warns "it is imperative" that Congress act to increase the ceiling by mid-November. In 1981, when the national debt first ticked over $1 trillion, President Reagan declared that sum "incomprehensible" and likened it to a stack of $1,000 bills 67 miles high. Today, the pile is closing in on 500 miles.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Angry? Let's Start Over

We've got less than three weeks left. They are desperate and they will do anything to win. Don't falter. Watch this video. Get mad. Get angry. Get vocal. Get involved. And on November 2nd... LET'S START OVER!
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Movie @ I'm Just Sayin'
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Real Audio
Movie @ BradBlog
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(Special thanks to Krup and BradBlog for hosting)

UPDATE:

New video added. Click below to watch:

All Fear, All the Time Takes Its Toll

Today's WP
All across the country, but especially in Washington and New York, police officers and federal agents say the heightened alert and the strain of working long hours with no end in sight are taking their toll. Experts on policing, police chiefs and the officers themselves wonder whether the law enforcement agencies can sustain the current staffing levels without a general change in policy by government agencies that would provide some financial and manpower relief.
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"The human mind and body were not created to sustain a continuous heightened alert," said Hankins, who headed the D.C. police union for 12 years. "You need to significantly expand the number of people you have performing the services."
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"This is a threat with no end in sight," Wexler said.

Asshole

The title of this video says it all.

With Allies Like These...

Downing Street to tell Bush thanks but no thanks. The money quote?
Mr Cook, who resigned from the government over the decision to invade Iraq, said: "The real risk of sending a British battalion into the US sector is that our troops could become associated in Iraqi minds with US methods."

Saturday, October 16, 2004

NYT take Bush apart, endorses Kerry

We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.
Read more.

My Two Mommies (And One Daddy)

Scientists are seeking permission to carry out experiments that would result in children being born with three biological parents. UK medical authorities say they will almost certainly approve the application in the next few weeks.
Read more.

i-toons

Oops

Friday, October 15, 2004

Say What?

Why is war-torn Iraq giving $190,000 to Toys R Us?

Iraqis are still being forced to pay for crimes committed by Saddam

Saturday October 16, 2004
The Guardian

Next week, something will happen that will unmask the upside-down morality of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. On October 21, Iraq will pay $200m in war reparations to some of the richest countries and corporations in the world.

If that seems backwards, it's because it is. Iraqis have never been awarded reparations for any of the crimes they suffered under Saddam, or the brutal sanctions regime that claimed the lives of at least half a million people, or the US-led invasion, which the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, recently called "illegal". Instead, Iraqis are still being forced to pay reparations for crimes committed by their former dictator.

Quite apart from its crushing $125bn sovereign debt, Iraq has paid $18.8bn in reparations stemming from Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion and occupation of Kuwait. This is not in itself surprising: as a condition of the ceasefire that ended the 1991 Gulf war, Saddam agreed to pay damages stemming from the invasion. More than 50 countries have made claims, with most of the money awarded to Kuwait. What is surprising is that even after Saddam was overthrown, the payments from Iraq have continued.

Since Saddam was toppled in April, Iraq has paid out $1.8bn in reparations to the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), the Geneva-based quasi tribunal that assesses claims and disburses awards. Of those payments, $37m have gone to Britain and $32.8m have gone to the United States. That's right: in the past 18 months, Iraq's occupiers have collected $69.8m in reparation payments from the desperate people they have been occupying. But it gets worse: the vast majority of those payments, 78%, have gone to multinational corporations, according to statistics on the UNCC website.
Read on.