Saturday, August 07, 2004

It has been a long time

since I learned something so fundamental as this about the US democracy; and so important to my future involvement in the political system. Thom Hartmann is a hell of a writer and thinker and deserves praise (which I've given him in an email) for his succinct, direct appraisal of the American two-party system, and how most effectively to change it into a more representational, progressive form of government.

What's in a name?

Not recent news, I know, but a tiny insight into matters that may matter. While perusing the world's best encyclopedia, I came across this article that revealed that after a bit of a flap about it back in the early days of Bush's term, Chevron quietly rechristened its oil tanker, The Condoleeza Rice, presumably to avoid the appearance of a connection between Bush's National Security Advisor and the oil company.

What's in a word

While CNN's headline trumpets that "the Marines report" the death of 300 insurgents, the Islam Online story about the attack uses a different word, "admit",to an entirely different effect.

Friday, August 06, 2004

I'm worried

If Bush's poll numbers keep sagging, if the economy continues in the tank and the war in Iraq rages on, we're in for a hell of an October surprise. It might take more than the "capture" of bin Laden. Karl Rove may have to bomb a couple of cities first.


Economic recovery?

A pitiful increase in jobs (32,000), a drop in real wages, a huge decrease in consumer spending--these figures dominate the economic reality in America. The stock market, which has stumbled to new lows for 2004, knows that we're going backwards.

And yet the Wall Street pundits say "the economy is growing," "corporate earnings are strong," and so forth. Bottom line: consider the sources. Those who are telling us that "things are getting better" have a stake in making us believe that. Republicans and businessmen who want Bush re-elected, and Wall Street types who are hoping we'll keep investing in the market so they can gain commissions.

Fact is, only the rich are getting richer in Bush's economy. The rest of us are floating on an outgoing tide or are drowning.

Now wait a minute, Rummie

I thought this war was different from Viet Nam in this particular at least. Didn't you say, "We don't do body counts"?

Well, now, apparently, we do.

Here we go again

Iraqi Cleric al-Sadr, through a spokesman, has called on his militia to revolt against the Iraqi interim government, which, through the local governor, apparently attempted to occupy Najav, Sadr's base. It looks like the US troops have been involved in putting down the rebellion, with several injured and one killed.

So here it is, just as feared, our troops engaged on one side of an internal civil war in Iraq. Oh boy.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Battleground Arizona

This website charts ongoing stats in pre-ordained "battleground states," which, however, does not include Arizona. Apparently, the webgurus believe that Arizona is solidly in the Republican column, as it has been for many presidential elections, going back two decades.
True, both Senators are Republicans: Kyle, a hidebound conservative and McCain, a renegade. The Representatives, too, are largely Republicans, but the state is traditionally Democrat-dominated, as is the governor's position.

But now, the state's a toss-up in the Kerry/Bush race, according to the most recent statewide poll, taken before the Democratic Convention.

Here's my question: Should I remove myself back to my long-established residency in Arizona for a few months, register to vote there and devote my activism to that state? Since California appears to be solidly in the Kerry column, isn't that the sensible thing to do? Isn't it what any committed activist would do, particularly in light of Arizona's ten electoral votes, more than battleground states Nevada and New Mexico?

Happy days are here again...

The US Army's at war with al-Sadr's Shiites in Najaf, with the Sunnis in Fallujah, with miscellaneous attackers in Baghdad, all while the Brits in Basra are being shot at too. "Interin Prime Minister" Alawi is being described (by NYT's reporter, John Burns, on the phone to PBS) as the "mayor" of a tiny portion of Iraq, unable to control anything beyond what the US troops control--and that's not much.

Afghanistan is a mess--a warlord-governed, opium-dominated nation--with Osama still at large, and he's got hundreds of lieutenants.

Meanwhile back in the USSA, wages are in the tank and layoffs are on the rise. We're under sustained terror alerts, and they're being disdained. The president is on the defensive on all fronts.

Recent Republican ads attacking Kerry are so vitriolic that there are calls that Bush disavow them (and he has done so, but half-heartedly), the polls are shifting in Kerry's favor, and a majority of the US public have come to disbelieve the repeated "alerts" of terrorism in the US.

Look, I'm no saint. I admit that calling the foregoing analysis, "Happy Days" is cynical. Worse.

But I'm no hypocrite when it comes to this: I want Bush out of the White House. His presidency demeans me, is personal affront to me as an American. And if it means that I applaud sustained misery so that it leads to his ouster, so be it. Sue me.

In case you were keeping score,

in addition to the several nations that have withdrawn, or will soon be withdrawing their troops from Iraq, Kofi Annan has reported that no nations will be contributing soldiers to the occupation of Iraq, despite his call for UN members to do so.

A reaction please?

to this article about the three-year sentence given to a US soldier for shooting an unarmed, handcuffed Iraqi civilian in the back of the head. Am I alone in my sense of outrage?

I'm getting tired of this, really tired

Who writes these headlines? "Slight Bounce for Kerry--Poll shows Kerry gained limited support after DNC [convention]." That's how ABC/WaPo led its recent article about its latest polling numbers, released today.

When you read the entire article and the poll numbers themselves (ABC's own poll, recall!) they show a remarkable turnaround in the numbers, but these are buried in the closing paragraphs of the story. For example, on questions such as who's a better leader on the vital campaign issues such as Iraq, the "war on terror", the economy and health insurance, Kerry's gains on Bush between the week before the convention and the week after are +14 points, +15, +16, +16, respectively, so that Kerry leads Bush in all categories except the "terror" issue, and on that question the numbers have changed from Bush 55, Kerry 37 prior to the convention to Bush 48, Kerry 45 after. Bush's biggest issue, everyone says, is "terror", and now it appears Kerry has nearly caught him on that question. (ABC's online article doesn't display the numbers in their entirety. They may be found here.)

I imagine how frustrating this inaccurate reportage must be to Kerry himself; because it's driving me nuts.

Neocons in a nutshell

This book review of a treatise by two conservative authors distills the role and power of the neocons in influencing Bush's decision to invade Iraq. If ever there were a question whether Bush should be removed from office--and these radicals tossed into the "dustbin of history"--it is answered here. Four more years of this policy and we might not have a succeeding four.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I'm just wondering

why Kerry/Edwards aren't teeing off on the Halliburton/Cheney financial outrages in Iraq. Is there a skeleton in some closet somewhere? I mean, one issue about Iraq that I think would resonate with all taxpayers, even those who support Bush wholeheartedly, is waste and corruption in the expenditure of our billions in Iraq. Kerry has feinted in this direction, but hasn't so far focused on it. Why?

An incisive look at the polls

Including an analysis of Kerry's post-convention "bounce" vel non, is presented here. Its conclusion: Bush is in deep trouble.

A definitive compilation

Of Bush/Cheney's prevarications to lead the US into war in Iraq is presented here. It's worth downloading and printing out for posterity, to explain to our grandchildren "wha hoppen"?

Exactly what we don't need

is another Bush toady, beholden to him for his job and powerless to set policy and budget, with "overall responsibility" for foreign and domestic intelligence. This would be the barest effectuation of Big Brother, an unconcealed congealing of power in the single executive. Bush's critics are correct in finding his plan intolerable.

But neither they, nor Kerry, are taking on this major issue in dealing with terrorism. We are under attack by a specific (but now gaining more generalized, because of Bush's weird, irrational armed reaction to 9/11) batch of people, with very specific complaints and objectives. Our century-long support of repressive regimes in the Middle East, in furtherance of our oil interests in the region; our unbridled support for Israel's policies; our constant intervention in military terms and the rape of their natural resources, without due compensation to those (other than a few sheiks) who own them. And on and on.

Isn't there someone who's listening? Doesn't anybody see that "terrorists" are attacking their enemy in the only way they can--at the cost of the lives of innocent civilians--because of our overwhelming military might?

We bombed and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Germans and Japanese during World War Two, especially at the end in the bombing of Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Hamburg, and on and on, to bring the totalitarian regimes to their knees by influencing the populace through the terror of the aerial attack, made without discrimination, with murderous results. (Check out this discussion of our atomic bombing of Japan). They're doing the same thing now, and the only way they'll relent if the causes of their fury are addressed by our leaders.

Okay, I'll get off the soapbox now.

Monday, August 02, 2004

It doesn't get any better than this

This essay by former CIA operative Ray McGovern critiquing the 9-11 commission's proposed solutions to the defects in the "war on terror" is dead on. Particularly McGovern's remarks at the end of the piece:
...treating merely the symptoms of terrorism is quixotic; ... the soil and roots of terrorism must be dug and uncovered; ... as the 9/11 report acknowledges in a very subdued way, it is Washington’s strong and uncritical bias toward Israel and its invasion of Iraq that produce the long lines at Al Qaeda recruiting stations; ... our current approach to defeating terrorism by trying to kill all the terrorists is akin to trying to eradicate malaria by shooting as many mosquitoes as possible; [and] moving the intelligence director’s chair one deck higher on the Titanic holds no promise.

They will stop at nothing

So now, two days later, it is learned that the "specific, credible" terror alert about the financial institutions in New York, New Jersey and Washington, was based on information that was three or four years old.

I've long predicted an October surprise, but am now a believer in a series of fall surprises, timed to deflate any rise in the polls by the Democratic candidates. The Republicans will resort to a single, monstrous crime (as opposed to a series of mini-monstrous crimes) only if the latter fail to ensure Bush's election.

Job squeeze

CNN is reporting today that the lost jobs in the United States are being replaced by lower-paying jobs, and that layoffs are at their highest rate ever. I have two reactions. First is, it's about time this obvious phenomenon was recognized by the mass media. The second is, I'm surprised it actually has been.

Maybe CNN had to report it, since the underlying article appeared in the Gray Lady.

For a catalog of Bush's prevarications about the state of the nation's economy, check out this article.


U.S. forces arrest an editor of a dissident newspaper in Iraq, they surround a dissident cleric's home and arrest his underlings. What the hell are we doing there?

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Trouble in the Old Pueblo

Tucson, Az, my old home town had a visitor yesterday. Dick Cheney of Bush/Cheney fame. And, as always, bigotry and fear accompanied him. His staff, apparently, always asks for the name and social security information of local news personnel who are covering the Vice President, and they did so of an Arizona Daily Star staffer/photograher whose name was Momta Popat.
When the Cheney staff then asked the Star to supply further information on the "race" of that staffer, the editor, to its credit, refused.
Cheney's folks relented, it seems, but ask this: What, besides the Middle Eastern sound to the photographer's name, was at issue in this flap?