Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Cats are the dominant species on Earth

My small gray tabbie cat just woke up on top of my monitor, stood up, stretched her cat-stretch, then hopped down next to the keyboard and strutted into my lap demanding her clearly due (in her mind) head scratch.

Within mere seconds (as I provided the demanded head scratch and got my payment in purr), my jealous part-sheltie was over next to me poking my leg with her cold nose demanding HER head scratch.

Cadged for head scratches, and herded by a sheltie. I'm not sure that I'm getting the respect my position as dominant animal in the house and provider of all food deserves.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

OPEC Moving to Avoid Dollar Exposure

The Financial Times reports that OPEC nations are moving investments out of dollars towards EUROS. They want to avoid losses as the dollar drops in value. Also, they are concerned that a provision of the Patriot Act allows the US to Freeze foreign assets of banks that are conducting business with suspected terrorists, and fear that their assets will get caught in such sweeps.

It looks like the OPEC nations are beginning to take the Bush administration at its word when they say the US should go it alone and doesn't need allies.

Friday, November 26, 2004

The Economic Future of the US

Steve Clemons has a really good article on his blog about the vulnerability of the US to international economics. Steve Clemons

In my view, we are about to be taught a lesson by a world that wants America to be tethered down. And the world is going to hit America where it has a serious blindspot at the moment -- on the economic front. We are on our way to becoming a much poorer, on relative terms, superpower with the Chinese, Japanese and Europeans using currency management and debt dependency to constrain our options.

How did we get here?

America cannot afford what it is buying from the rest of the world -- it's as simple as that. That is why the dollar is falling -- but with the Chinese yuan falling at a rate equal to the falling dollar, we can't but help keep buying from them, and the Chinese help financing our ability to buy their products. This can't continue -- and when it ends, the reality will be that Americans broadly will see their living standards fall.

The problem is very clear. Bush has rammed through four tax cuts and an avoidable war that it was said would pay for itself (Iraq got $5 billion a year from oil and could afford to pay for the invasion – we were told this during the arguments before the war, and the Bush administration refused to submit any estimates in advance.)

The result is a sharply increased government deficit, which is being financed by the Chinese who are the only net purchaser of American government bonds for the last couple of years. They can do this because they are selling a lot more to us than we are to them, so they have the dollars to lend.

Of course, that also means that our trade deficit is growing rapidly. Unfortunately, it is growing all over the world. That is why the dollar is dropping against the Euro.

The price of foreign goods is going up because the dollar is dropping. That is the main reason why the price of oil is going up. That increase in prices has a name. "Inflation." Which is why the federal reserve has started to increase the interest rates.

The US is going to crash much as Argentina and Mexico did in the 90's, and the US standard of living will drop - soon. Only the US is a lot larger economically. This is a direct result of the Bush mismanagement of the deficit.

The US standard of living will drop sharply. There is a trade-off between inflation and high interest rates, and the federal reserve will push the interest rates higher to prevent the inflation. Either is really bad for the economy, so jobs will decrease.

The US population will need government intervention to provide additional jobs. The Bush administration and the conservatives in general will not provide that. There is also going to be a need to reduce the deficit. This they will do, on the backs of the working people.

The economic future for America can easily be seen now. It ain't pretty.

November 28, 2004 added:

Steve Clemons yesterday wrote about the future of the US economy as described by Federal Reserve Board Deputy Governor Laurence Meyer

Today, with an unraveling dollar and other nations' central banks flirting with a reshuffle of their dollar-denominated holdings, America may be soon feeling the economic pain resulting from irresponsible economic policy management and the "dependence" part of global financial interdependence.

Bloomberg back on November 19th reported what Alan Greenspan said on the drop in value of the US dollar.

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar fell to its lowest in more than four years against the yen and dropped versus the euro after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said foreign investors will tire of financing the record current-account deficit.

"A diminished appetite for adding to dollar balances must occur at some point,'' he said at the European Banking Congress in Frankfurt.

Oh, one other thing - It is my opinion that the Bush administration and the conservative Republicans think there is nothing that government can do about the economy and its' effects. It is my opinion that they will do nothing positive and may even take actions that make things worse.

As I wrote earlier someplace - we are in for interesting economic times. Soon. Fasten your seatbelt.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Conscience and Licensed Medical Professionals

Recently some pharmacists and nurses have refused to give birth control or other sexuality-related information to patients because that violates their personal religious beliefs. They are wrong to do so.

Pharmacists and nurses are licensed medical professionals who are expected to carry out the orders of a licensed physician. The physician is the professional we license to make decisions regarding what medications and medical procedures will be given to patients. Pharmacists and nurses are licensed to carry out the instructions of the physician, not to interpose their religion on that decision.

When the pharmacists and nurses refuse to perform their jobs (based on personal belief or any other reason) then the patient, the physician and their employer each have a valid complaint regarding their failure to perform the job.

If their conscience won't let them do some part of the job, then pharmacists and nurses should surrender their licenses or the licenses should be lifted.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Why don't we have Federal Drug Courts?

Today the New York Times published an OpEd from Donald P. Lay about setting up federal Drug Courts. Donald P. Lay is the senior judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He points out:

Unlike the states, the federal criminal justice system offers no alternatives for nonviolent offenders charged with drug-related crimes. In the federal system, it is almost a certainty that a convicted drug offender will be incarcerated rather than going through a community-based treatment program. It is little wonder then that the federal prison system will continue to be overburdened.

Drug court graduates have substantially lower rates of criminal recidivism than offenders who are imprisoned. In New York, for example, the re-arrest rate among 18,000 drug court graduates was 13 percent, compared with 47 percent for the same type of drug offenders who served prison time without treatment. Drug courts also cost less than incarceration and have high retention and completion rates.

This would seem to be both less expensive than incarcerating every drug offender and at the same time, to be an effective crime reduction strategy.

The only thing that seems to be missing is punishing anyone and everyone found within half a mile of a cache of illegal drugs. We all know how effective that has been up to now, don't we?

Friday, November 12, 2004

From Fallujah thru Elections to ...What?

There seems to be no real question that Fallujah has to be taken to make the next step towards pacification of the Sunni Triangle and Iraq. This is a requirement for valid elections that will establish a government that the Iraqi people themselves will consider legitimate, not just a puppet government that the Americans have imposed on them.

Until that legitimate government is established, one that Iraqi police and soldiers are willing to fight and die for, we cannot pull out of Iraq without leaving a civil war in our wake. The failed state will continue to recruit and train terrorists who are deadly enemies of America, just as occurred in Afghanistan.

Those are the steps that are necessary for us to get out and perhaps bring the status quo back to no worse than it was with Saddam in charge.

So this excerpt from a report in the LA Times does not bode well for the accomplishment of those tasks.

Iraqi insurgents have extended their reach over large swaths of the country, including sections of the capital, making it unlikely that the United States can establish the stability needed for credible elections in January even if its forces succeed in Fallouja, military and political analysts say.

Yet both Ali Sistani and Bush are dead set that elections must not be delayed from the current date in January of 2005. Both parties presumably believe that such a firm deadline is probably necessary for them ever to occur at all.

The LA Times also presents another article that throws real doubt on what the elections are about in the first place.

Stabilizing Iraq in time for parliamentary elections in January may be the driving force behind this week's military offensive in Fallouja, but there could be some confusion at the White House over just what Iraqis will be voting on.

"Well, I'm confident when people realize that there's a chance to vote on a president, they will participate," President Bush said Wednesday when asked whether the participation of Sunni Muslims would be necessary to make the elections free and fair.

My bet is that elections of a sort will take place, but the government that results will not be considered legitimate by much of Iraq or the Muslim world.

Bush will, of course, practice his usual level of bluff and lies and try to paint it as the establishment of democracy in Iraq before he pulls the American troops out as quickly as possible. That will be to his short-term political advantage, but will lead to disaster for Iraq, the US, and the Middle East as a whole. The result will be a failed state breeding more anti-US terrorists, or a Shiite theocracy dominated by Iran. Maybe both.

I'm sure glad Bush is responsible for this upcoming train-wreck and not me.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

This is a letter published by the New York Times that we all need to see.

October 24, 2004
Freedom Has Meaning. It's Not Just a Slogan.

To the Editor:

America has always been a magnet for freedom-seeking people, with millions of immigrants coming to a country that promised freedom and opportunity.
Now the word "freedom" has become a newly invoked justification for the occupation of a country that did not attack us, whose people have not greeted our soldiers as liberators.

What does President Bush mean by "freedom," when he claims that "freedom is on the march" in the Middle East (front page, Oct. 21)? To call a military occupation a path to freedom is Orwellian doublespeak.

The world knows that all manner of traditional rights associated with freedom are threatened in our own country. The essential element of a democratic society - trust - has been weakened, as secrecy, mendacity and intimidation have become the hallmarks of this administration.

Rhetoric matters. We have already lost one word that characterized the style of American thought and life as defined at the founding of the Republic: liberal. It has become the object of vilification, as our society drifts toward intolerant radicalism and fundamentalism.

Now "freedom" is being emptied of meaning and reduced to a slogan. But one doesn't demean the concept without injuring the substance.

Fritz Stern
New York, Oct. 21, 2004
The writer is a university professor emeritus at Columbia University.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Bush Expanding, not defeating Terrorism

Juan Cole today has an excellent article today describing how Bush's actions in the Middle East [Iraq and Afghanistan in particular] have expanded and enabled terrorist organizations rather then defeated them.

Really, the president cannot help patronizing the Iraqis. A while ago he talked about them taking off their "training wheels," as though high-powered Iraqi physicists, lawyers and physicians were somehow reduced to little children just because the US has 138,000 troops in their country.

I think it can be fairly argued that the Bush "war on terror" has actually spread Islamic fundamentalism. (Bush coddling of Ariel Sharon's harsh policies in Palestine has also contributed).Since Bush began acting aggressively in the region, the United Action Council of (often pro-Bin Laden!) fundamentalist parties in Pakistan has come to power by itself in the Northwest Frontier Province, in coalition in Baluchistan, and has 17% of the seats in parliament! Despite Pakistan's unwarranted reputation for "fundamentalism," in fact most Pakistanis are Sufis or traditionalists who dislike fundamentalism, and the latter parties seldom got more than 2-3% of seats in any election in which they ran. Until Bush came along.

In Iraq, a whole series of Muslim fundamentalist parties-- al-Da`wa, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Sadrists, the Salafis, and now al-Qaeda, have been unleashed by Bush. They seem likely to win any election held in Iraq, since the secularists remain disorganized.In the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan now slated for spring 2005, the Taliban or the cousins of the Taliban are likely to be a major party, benefiting from the Pushtun vote.

We could go on (a similar story of new-found fundamentalist strength could be told for Indonesia, e.g.) The real legacy of Bush to the Muslim world will likely not be secular democracy, but the provocation of Muslim publics into voting for the Muslim fundamentalists on a scale never before seen in the region.

It is really hard to look at the facts in the Middle East and conclude that the Bush administration has been anything except a total disaster for the US and much of the world.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Why Should Bush Go?

I really don’t like Bush. He needs to go. So I decided to start listing my objections to his regime, and off the top of my head I got the following list:

Bush Failings

§ In the 2000 election Bush told us that he was 'a uniter, not a divider,' but shortly after taking office, his administration took a sharp right turn that has divided this country.

§ Bush has caused the Republican Party to conduct vote suppression programs across the nation, especially in Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, and Oregon.

§ Bush has failed to control federal spending, to control the budget deficit and to ease the problems caused by the recession. (In all of these he offers excuses, but takes no actions.)

§ Bush has set tax policies in place that encourage outsourcing of high-wage American jobs to low wage countries.

§ When Enron was illegally manipulating the electric power markets in California, Bush refused to take any actions that would limit the damage Enron was doing. His administration then refused to investigate the situation, and refused to release information that the FEC already had that proved the existence of the illegal manipulation of Electricity prices. Then the FEC refused to take actions to correct the contracts which Enron had illegally forced California power users to sign.

§ Bush wants to privatize Social Security. This will result in the destruction of the Social Security System and a return to large numbers of destitute elderly in America. It will also allow Wall Street Traders to siphon off 1% to 2% of all funds going into the Social Security system.

§ Bush has no plan and has taken no actions to improve the Health care system – especially not the on-going and worsening problems of:

o Covering the uninsured
o Controlling the increasing cost of health care to individuals and companies.
o Establishing a patient’s Bill of Rights.

§ Immediately upon taking office acted to alienate most other nations in as many ways has he could. (Especially abrogating the ABM Treaty and walking away from the admittedly imperfect Kyoto Environmental talks.)

§ Bush failed to act to prevent either North Korea or Iran from creating nuclear weapons. (Too focused on Iraq)

§ Bush was unaware of the actions of Kahn of Pakistan in selling nuclear weaponry to North Korea and Iran.

§ Bush has failed to make adequate provisions to secure left-over nuclear weapons in the states of the old Soviet Union.

§ Bush has failed to take actions to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, and with the proposal to develop new tactical weapons for America, has in fact encouraged their spread.

§ Bush took no actions that might have headed off 9/11. Instead he got the anti-missile defense program started even though there is no enemy it can defend us against and has not shown that it could work when put into place.

§ Bush has provided insufficient troops and support to Afghanistan to take control of more than just Kabul, resulting in a Narco-state that is now providing 60% of the heroin in the world.

§ Bush lied to the American people and to the people of the world about WMD (and offered no other reason) in order to justify a useless war in Iraq. It has:
o Drained resources that were needed to fight terrorism.
o Severely strained the Army and Marine Corps
o Failed (in spite of advice) to plan to rebuild of Iraq after the invasion.
o Failed (in spite of advice) to plan for Sunni rebellion after the Invasion.
o Failed (in spite of advice) to send enough troops to stabilize Iraq after the invasion.
o Failed to secure weapons sites and nuclear development equipment upon taking control of Iraq (See failure to plan and failure to send enough troops – above.)
o Replaced General Garner with Jerry Bremer as man in charge of Iraq after only six weeks because Garner was insufficiently ideological in his administration of Iraq. (“Insufficiently ideological” is the same as “too influenced by facts and knowledge, not enough by Faith in the infallibility of Bush and God.”]
o Disbanded the Iraqi Army to allow Chalabi to take control. (Failed to install Chalabi - unfortunately, left Iraq with no armed forces except American when the insurrection by the Sunni-Baathists who were being removed from power was totally predictable and predicted.)
o Essentially destroyed the effectiveness of the US Army Reserves and National Guard for what will be at least a decade.
o Severely destabilized Iraq, leading to the danger of civil war and a failed state, creating a breeding ground for terrorists that did not previously exist and tying down an excessive number of American troops.
o Damaged relations with most Arab and Muslim nations and left most of the voting populations throughout the world with a very negative view of America foreign policies. This will make it much more difficult for the governments of those countries to support American policies even if the governments were inclined to do so.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Bush tactics old and stale

E. J. Dionne has an excellent editorial in the Washington Post today. The best paragraph in it describes Bush's tired old nasty politics.

The health care debate is a metaphor for the larger problems with Bush's approach to politics. He thinks he can say anything about an opponent, true or not. He figures that if he tosses out a few moderate-sounding phrases, voters will ignore how conservative he is. He calculates that if he says scary things about Kerry's taxing and spending plans, Americans will ignore the deficits he's run up. And Bush hopes that if he gets all of us arguing about labels, we'll forget about the problems that are going unsolved.

I think that the cumulative effects of Bush's poor performance in the three debates, compared to Kerry's clear command of the issues and Presidential bearing, is catching up to Bush. The media is no longer buying his sick shtick.

It's about time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Dred Scott and George Bush

Last Friday Bush went off on a really strange tangent when he started talking about the Dred Scott Supreme court decision. At least, I thought he was off on a strange tangent.

Turns out that he just wasn't talking to me. He was speaking very clearly to the anti-abortionist right wing and telling them he would appoint Supreme Court Justices who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times reports today that according to the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, a prominent conservative advocacy group based in Washington has told heim what Bush was saying. According to Sheldon "Everyone knows the Dred Scott decision and you don't have to stretch your mind at all. When he said that, it made it very clear that the '73 decision was faulty because what it said was that unborn persons in a legal sense have no civil rights."

We can't say Bush didn't warn us, although a bit obliquely.

RNC reaches new low in dirty tricks

This report indicates the level of dirty tricks the Republican National Committee (RNC) is willing to go to in order to elect Bush as President.:

KLAS-TV Las Vegas, NV

George Knapp, Investigative Reporter
Voter Registrations Possibly Trashed

(Oct. 12) -- Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected.

The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats. Thee focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assistant to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

So the people on those forms who think they will be able to vote on Election Day are sadly mistaken. We attempted to speak to Voters Outreach but found that its office has been rented out to someone else.

The landlord says Voters Outreach was evicted for non-payment of rent. Another source said the company has now moved on to Oregon where it is once again registering voters. It's unknown how many registrations may have been tossed out, but another ex-employee told Eyewitness News she had the same suspicions when she worked there.

It's going to take a while to sort all of this out, but the immediate concern for voters is to make sure you really are registered.
Call the Clark County Election Department at 455-VOTE orclick here to see if you are registered.

The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Vote for Kerry and Save America

The best of the state-by-state election prediction sites I have found is “Electoral Vote Predictor 2004”. As nearly as I can tell it is an unbiased report of the results of the very latest state polls, and the “Votemaster” provides intelligent explanations and commentary. That includes good discussions of the limitations of his report, something you will certainly never hear from George Bush or Dick Cheney. I strongly recommend it if you want to keep track of the poll-driven predictions.

In fact, it clearly is providing information someone doesn’t want you to have. The Votemaster reported this today.

The site has had technical problems repeatedly in the past several days and has been down several times. I didn't want to discuss this, but I don't want anyone to think the problem was an incompetent hosting service. Just the opposite. The site has been subjected to a full-scale, well-organized, massive attack with the clear intention to bring it down. The attackers have tried repeatedly to break in, but the server is a rock-solid Linux system which has stood up to everything they threw at it and hasn't crashed since I got it in May. While our troops are fighting and dying to bring freedom of speech to the Iraqi people, there are forces in America who find this concept no longer applicable to America. I don't know who is behind this attack yet (although we are working it), but it is too professional to be some teenager working from a home PC. Given that all the hate mail and threats I get come entirely from Republicans, I can make an educated guess which side is trying to silence me, but I won't say. And I won't surrender to cyberterrorists.

Between the Sinclair group of TV stations, FOX lies, Washington Times and New York Post lies, the Swift Boat Liars for Bush lies, and the lies that Bush, Cheney and Rice told America to send us into an unnecessary war in Iraq, anyone who thinks that democracy in America is not under threat needs to wake up. There is no essential difference between the way Putin is centralizing government control in Russia and Bush is centralizing control of America in Washington.

If Bush is reelected, then it is extremely likely that all of America will be “locked up” by the Bush forces from now on the way Texas is today.

Of course, we may not know for sure because honest reports of information like that given us by Electoral Vote Predictor 2004 will no longer be available, and the Supreme Court will reinterpret the Constitution so that such a dictatorship is perfectly legal.

We may still have the right to elect an honest American President instead of a power-mad intellectually challenged fool who wants to hand control of this nation to the corporations and his superrich friends. So go vote against Bush on November 2, even if you are in a state like Texas that he has locked up.

So get out and vote against lies, opposition to science, tyranny and misgovernment on November 2. Vote for Kerry or it may be the last free election Americans ever see.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Quick Comments on Vice President Debate

The debate covered Iraq and foreign policy first, then went to domestic policy. I felt that the Iraq items were the strongest of the entire debate. They seemed to matter more to both parties.

Edwards was very good on the facts and was prepared for the most likely attacks by Cheney. Cheney seemed to me to either not budge from positions already known to be false or to have simply lied when he had to. The fact-checkers will be grading that tomorrow, but on the facts, Cheney is down and Edwards is up.

It was an exercise between Cheney's experience and Edward's ability to organize his thoughts and speak to influence an audience. Neither gave an inch, and overall I would say it was a draw. However, for Edward's to appear equal to Cheney was, in my opinion, a major boost for both him and for Kerry.

The clear superiority of Cheney's presentation of the issues over what Bush did last Thursday was a shock. In that way, this debate reinforced the appearance that Kerry won the debate last Thursday. Bush is going to have an awful lot riding on the next debate this coming Friday.

So my first judgment is that Edwards did what he had to do tonight, and may have improved the overall standing of the Kerry-Edwards ticket. Cheney also appeared competent and his experience showed through, but that very competence, compared to Bush, may have cost them some points.

The outcome will depend on the media, the spin, and the fact-checkers. But I really don't think there is a lot to work with. It isn't going to change a lot from what it appears right now.

Bush is more dangerous to America than Terrorists

Bush says that his invasion of Iraq is about fighting terrorism outside the United States, and that his administration has caught or killed most of the leadership of al Qaeda. Here is the report today from the Christian Science Monitor.

An excerpt:
"It is a new generation of Al Qaeda," says Riffat Hussain, a leading defense and security analyst based in Islamabad, Pakistan. "These are new converts to Al Qaeda. They may have no links with Al Qaeda in the past, but now they are willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause as they feel Al Qaeda is the name of defiance to the West. They are young and angry, and their number has swelled in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq."

[The underlining is mine.]

Bush’s unprovoked attack on Iraq has created a whole new generation of al Qaeda leaders, as well as created an indigenous Iraqi insurgency focused on making American troops leave Iraq.

Rather than fighting to destroy terrorist groups, Bush’s methods have acted to create more terrorists where previously there were none. It is difficult to conceive of a more self-defeating method of fighting terrorists and world terrorism.

Bush was a mistake as President initially, and every action he has taken since he was sworn in has proven that he is an utter disaster for America.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Does the Debate give a reason to vote for Kerry?

David Ingnatius in the Washington Post today complains that neither Bush nor Kerry provided a clear plan regarding what to do next in Iraq. Both spoke in general terms, Kerry claiming that he has a plan to get us out, and Bush offering More of the Same.

He fails to understand that this is an election to decide if Bush has performed adequately and should be retained for four more years. On that basis, the issue is not whether the two candidates make different promises that we voters can choose from. The issue is "How well has Bush performed?"

Thomas Friedman lays that out in his editorial today in the New York Times. "this Bush team can't get us there, and may have so messed things up that no one can. Why? Because each time the Bush team had to choose between doing the right thing in the war on terrorism or siding with its political base and ideology, it chose its base and ideology. More troops or radically lower taxes? Lower taxes. Fire an evangelical Christian U.S. general who smears Islam in a speech while wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army or not fire him so as not to anger the Christian right? Don't fire him. Apologize to the U.N. for not finding the W.M.D., and then make the case for why our allies should still join us in Iraq to establish a decent government there? Don't apologize - for anything - because Karl Rove says the "base" won't like it. Impose a "Patriot Tax" of 50 cents a gallon on gasoline to help pay for the war, shrink the deficit and reduce the amount of oil we consume so we send less money to Saudi Arabia? Never. Just tell Americans to go on guzzling. Fire the secretary of defense for the abuses at Abu Ghraib, to show the world how seriously we take this outrage - or do nothing? Do nothing. Firing Mr. Rumsfeld might upset conservatives. Listen to the C.I.A.? Only when it can confirm your ideology. When it disagrees - impugn it or ignore it."

It doesn't matter what Bush promises he will do in Iraq in the future. His history shows that he cannot accomplish it. At least with Kerry as President we have a chance at some success in Iraq. If Bush is reelected, we have no chance of success. Bush simply cannot accomplish what he promises.

Friday, October 01, 2004

The First Presidential Debate

Kerry did not respond to a lot of small attacks by Bush. It made him look dignified and Presidential because he clearly was determining what was important, what was not, and responding only to the important items. By doing that he maintained control of the debate from beginning to end, and looked MORE Presidential than the President did. Bush wound up looking desperate.

Bush repeated his points time and again, but they were nothing more than the sound bytes that he has used in his stump speech. It was clear that Bush had nothing new to offer in spite of the severe problems that are growing in Iraq. His anger and frustration were made very clear during the cutaways.

Kerry made it very clear that he did not intend for America troops to remain in Iraq, yet Bush is in the process of establishing 14 very permanent bases. This is a clear difference between the two men, and Kerry established that he will get us out. Bush was left ignoring the worsening disaster that every news organization in the World is currently reporting and offering only his position of "Reelect me and you get four more years of the same thing with no change." I don't think that America is ready to accept Bush's idea of American Imperialism.

Kerry effectively made the case the the election is a referendum on Bush's failed policies, and that he is sufficiently Presidential to replace Bush when we vote him out. It was a clear Kerry win as the instant polls confirmed.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Debate

Kerry is stringing ideas across questions, and is actually dealing with both the questions and with Bush's response.

Bush is totally responding to what Kerry says. His reponses consist of soundbytes from his stump speeches. But esentially he is using his own tested attack phrases, mostly out of context. Bush is also whining while Kerry is totally in control of both himself and of the debate.

I love it.

It will be very interesting to see how the punditocracy tries to spin it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Bush's Homtown Paper endorses Kerry

This is a strong endorsement of Kerry, and extremely well written.

Kerry Will Restore American Dignity
2004 Iconoclast Presidential Endorsement

Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:

Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.

Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans' benefits and military pay.

Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.

Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.

Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.

Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and
Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.

These were elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office.
The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda.

Today, we are endorsing his opponent, John Kerry, based not only on the things that Bush has delivered, but also on the vision of a return to normality that Kerry says our country needs.

Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration:
his initiatives to disable the Social Security system,
the deteriorating state of the American economy,
a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and
his continuous mistakes regarding terrorism and Iraq.

President Bush has announced plans to change the Social Security system as we know it by privatizing it, which when considering all the tangents related to such a change, would put the entire economy in a dramatic tailspin.
The Social Security Trust Fund actually lends money to the rest of the government in exchange for government bonds, which is how the system must work by law, but how do you later repay Social Security while you are running a huge deficit? It's impossible, without raising taxes sometime in the future or becoming fiscally responsible now. Social Security money is being used to escalate our deficit and, at the same time, mask a much larger government deficit, instead of paying down the national debt, which would be a proper use, to guarantee a future gain.

Privatization is problematic in that it would subject Social Security to the ups, downs, and outright crashes of the Stock Market. It would take millions in brokerage fees and commissions out of the system, and, unless we have assurance that the Ivan Boeskys and Ken Lays of the world will be caught and punished as a deterrent, subject both the Market and the Social Security Fund to fraud and market manipulation, not to mention devastate and ruin multitudes of American families that would find their lives lost to starvation, shame, and isolation.

Kerry wants to keep Social Security, which each of us already owns. He says that the program is manageable, since it is projected to be solvent through 2042, with use of its trust funds. This would give ample time to strengthen the economy, reduce the budget deficit the Bush administration has created, and, therefore, bolster the program as needed to fit ever-changing demographics.Our senior citizens depend upon Social Security.

Bush's answer is radical and uncalled for, and would result in chaos as Americans have never experienced. Do we really want to risk the future of Social Security on Bush by spinning the wheel of uncertainty?

In those dark hours after the World Trade Center attacks, Americans rallied together with a new sense of patriotism. We were ready to follow Bush's lead through any travail.

He let us down.

When he finally emerged from his hide-outs on remote military bases well after the first crucial hours following the attack, he gave sound-bytes instead of solutions.

He did not trust us to be ready to sacrifice, build up our public and private security infrastructure, or cut down on our energy use to put economic pressure on the enemy in all the nations where he hides. He merely told us to shop, spend, and pretend nothing was wrong.

Rather than using the billions of dollars expended on the invasion of Iraq to shore up our boundaries and go after Osama bin Laden and the Saudi Arabian terrorists, the funds were used to initiate a war with what Bush called a more immediate menace, Saddam Hussein, in oil-rich Iraq. After all, Bush said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction trained on America. We believed him, just as we believed it when he reported that Iraq was the heart of terrorism. We trusted him.

The Iconoclast, the President's hometown newspaper, took Bush on his word and editorialized in favor of the invasion. The newspaper's publisher promoted Bush and the invasion of Iraq to Londoners in a BBC interview during the time that the administration was wooing the support of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Again, he let us down.

We presumed the President had solid proof of the existence of these weapons, what and where they were, even as the search continued. Otherwise, our troops would be in much greater danger and the premise for a hurried-up invasion would be moot, allowing more time to solicit assistance from our allies.
Instead we were duped into following yet another privileged agenda.

Now he argues unconvincingly that Iraq was providing safe harbor to terrorists, his new key justification for the invasion. It is like arguing that America provided safe harbor to terrorists leading to 9/11.

Once and for all, George Bush was President of the United States on that day. No one else. He had been President nine months, he had been officially warned of just such an attack a full month before it happened. As President, ultimately he and only he was responsible for our failure to avert those attacks.

We should expect that a sitting President would vacation less, if at all, and instead tend to the business of running the country, especially if he is, as he likes to boast, a "wartime president." America is in service 365 days a year. We don't need a part-time President who does not show up for duty as Commander-In-Chief until he is forced to, and who is in a constant state of blameless denial when things don't get done.

What has evolved from the virtual go-it-alone conquest of Iraq is more gruesome than a stain on a White House intern's dress. America's reputation and influence in the world has diminished, leaving us with brute force as our most persuasive voice.

Iraq is now a quagmire: no WMDs, no substantive link between Saddam and Osama, and no workable plan for the withdrawal of our troops. We are asked to go along on faith. But remember, blind patriotism can be a dangerous thing and "spin" will not bring back to life a dead soldier; certainly not a thousand of them.

Kerry has remained true to his vote granting the President the authority to use the threat of war to intimidate Saddam Hussein into allowing weapons inspections. He believes President Bush rushed into war before the inspectors finished their jobs.

Kerry also voted against President Bush's $87 billion for troop funding because the bill promoted poor policy in Iraq, privileged Halliburton and other corporate friends of the Bush administration to profiteer from the war, and forced debt upon future generations of Americans.

Kerry's four-point plan for Iraq is realistic, wise, strong, and correct. With the help from our European and Middle Eastern allies, his plan is to train Iraqi security forces, involve Iraqis in their rebuilding and constitution-writing processes, forgive Iraq's multi-billion dollar debts, and convene a regional conference with Iraq's neighbors in order to secure a pledge of respect for Iraq's borders and non-interference in Iraq's internal affairs.

The publishers of the Iconoclast differ with Bush on other issues, including the denial of stem cell research, shortchanging veterans' entitlements, cutting school programs and grants, dictating what our children learn through a thought-controlling "test" from Washington rather than allowing local school boards and parents to decide how young people should be taught, ignoring the environment, and creating extraneous language in the Patriot Act that removes some of the very freedoms that our founding fathers and generations of soldiers fought so hard to preserve.

We are concerned about the vast exportation of jobs to other countries, due in large part to policies carried out by Bush appointees. Funds previously geared at retention of small companies are being given to larger concerns, such as Halliburton -- companies with strong ties to oil and gas. Job training has been cut every year that Bush has resided at the White House.Then there is his resolve to inadequately finance Homeland Security and to cut the Community Oriented Policing Program (COPS) by 94 percent, to reduce money for rural development, to slash appropriations for the Small Business Administration, and to under-fund veterans' programs.

Likewise troubling is that President Bush fought against the creation of the 9/11 Commission and is yet to embrace its recommendations. Vice President Cheney's Halliburton has been awarded multi-billion-dollar contracts without undergoing any meaningful bid process -- an enormous conflict of interest -- plus the company has been significantly raiding the funds of Export-Import Bank of America, reducing investment that could have gone toward small business trade.

When examined based on all the facts, Kerry's voting record is enviable and echoes that of many Bush allies who are aghast at how the Bush administration has destroyed the American economy. Compared to Bush on economic issues, Kerry would be an arch-conservative, providing for Americans first. He has what it takes to right our wronged economy.

The re-election of George W. Bush would be a mandate to continue on our present course of chaos. We cannot afford to double the debt that we already have. We need to be moving in the opposite direction.
John Kerry has 30 years of experience looking out for the American people and can navigate our country back to prosperity and re-instill in America the dignity she so craves and deserves. He has served us well as a highly decorated Vietnam veteran and has had a successful career as a district attorney, lieutenant governor, and senator.

Kerry has a positive vision for America, plus the proven intelligence, good sense, and guts to make it happen.

That's why The Iconoclast urges Texans not to rate the candidate by his hometown or even his political party, but instead by where he intends to take the country.

The Iconoclast wholeheartedly endorses John Kerry.

The source of this is The Lone Star Iconoclast which is the hometown newspaper in Crawford, Texas.

Monday, September 27, 2004

What is the future for the Iraqi Insurgents?

Is the current situation in Iraq like the Tet Offensive, or are we facing a war of cultures between Christianity and Islam?

The Vietnam War after Tet was conducted by North Vietnamese regulars, because the Viet Cong were effectively eliminated. The Viet Cong didn't go home, either. Nor were they reconstituted. They died, deserted, or were incorporated into the North Vietnam Regular forces as not especially respected junior partners.

My question is whether the same fate could befall the Iraqi insurgents. The alternative is that they are being replaced and their forces reconstituted faster than we are killing them.

Either possibility could explain the current situation. My question is whether there is any public evidence that indicates which is more likely.

I am aware of the statistics from the London-based International strategic Survey that showed there were about 5,000 insurgents a little over a year ago, and 20,000 in June. That is an indicator that the insurgents were being replaced and reconstituted faster than we were killing them. The fact that there are now more no-go areas than there were in May is another indicator, but it is still a short term indicator. It could merely mean that they are making a major push hoping to get us to leave before they collapse. It could also be a harbinger of future increases in their effusive strength.

We have watched a fast build up of insurgency actions over the last year. To rephrase the question, has that build-up peaked, is it close to peaking, or is it going to continue building up for the foreseeable future.

I've asked myself the questions. Now I am looking for ~evidence~ that will indicate the answer. Does anyone have any such evidence? A lot of people seem to have an answer today, but if it is based on the evidence I have indicated, it merely tells what the current situation is.

What is the evidence that indicates the future of the Iraqi insurgency??