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.