Saturday, August 14, 2004

Toldja so

A year ago (unfortunately, our archive doesn't go back that far) I predicted that Bush would withdraw American troops just before the election. Now he's done just that, ordering 70,000 soldiers back from abroad.

Problems: It's too far before the election to make a difference in November. And they're not the troops that count, because they're to be taken from noncombat areas, not from Iraq or Afghanistan. On this account, it looks like a bald political ploy and may indeed backfire. Let's hope so.

Hurricane Charley

Damn. If only the hurricane had waited until the Republican convention. It's dominating the TV news--absolutely overwhelming all channels--that nothing else can find its way through to the US viewer. Okay, I'm sorry for the 15 or so who died in the storm, but what about the hundreds who've died over the last week in Iraq.

(On CNN, they just had a two-minute segment called "other news" and it featured three reports, in this sequence: 1. The path of Charley. 2. Governor Jeb Bush's upcoming visit to wrecked sites from Charley. 3. The ending of the "truce" in Najav, Iraq. Now CNN's back to hurricane coverage. BTW, coverage not of the storm itself, but photos of its damage, and efforts to gain insurance coverage.)

Friday, August 13, 2004

"Wrenching changes"?

A Bloomberg report about about the widening US trade deficit contains a frightening quote from a recent Federal Reserve Board meeting:

Growing trade deficits contribute to a widening gap in the current account, the broadest measure of trade because it includes investments, and put the dollar at risk because the U.S. needs to attract more and more foreign capital to finance it.

Fed officials are watching the growing trade imbalance and its contribution to the $144.9 billion current account deficit. Staff members made a special presentation at the Fed's policy meetings June 29th and 30th, saying that ``outsized external deficits could not be sustained indefinitely.''

While adjustments to the imbalances aren't ``necessarily imminent'' and would likely be ``benign'' when they happen, ``more wrenching changes could not be ruled out,'' according to minutes from the meeting released yesterday.

What, I wonder, are these changes, and whom, do you suppose, they'll wrench?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

If Kerry wins the election

it will be an astounding victory for truth, for reality, over the ignorance of the masses, fed by media tripe. The level of discourse on the TV channels is so base that one wonders how a citizen can be asked to make an intelligent decision. I point, as today's example, to the media's castigation of Kerry for rising to the "bait" that Bush fed him, by saying that he would have voted for the Iraq war, even knowing what is now known about the absence of WMD.

I haven't read the details of that particular exchange, but that's not the issue, that's not what's at stake in the upcoming election. What's at stake isn't debating points or "gotchas" or mean-spirited smears by and of these two men. What's at stake is the future of the planet.

I can only hope that Americans can somehow see through the media's grossly inadequate presentation of the issues and gross distortions of fact. I don't know how they'll do this, and hence must rely on hope.

My God, what are we doing?

Our ferocious invasion of sacred cities, our massive attacks throughout Iraq, these are not only immoral, illegal and monstrous, they're inflaming the entire Muslim world, Sunni and Shia and in between. I can't believe our media, and hence our populace, can sleep through this violent rampage. But somehow they manage to do so, day after despotic day, month after murderous month. This is how empires end.

What do they know that we don't?

All three major 5-year indices, the Dow Industrials, Nasdaq (mostly high-tech companies) and S&P 500 (the broadest index) show the end of the "recovery" and a downward U-turn, and this in spite of record profits for many of the major corporations. Obviously the body of investors in American corporations sense something in the economy that bodes ill for business.

I wonder why we don't have reports of this consistent phenomenon. Could it be that the entities that control the news are buddy-buddy with, indeed are part of, the companies whose stock makes up these indices?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

On the other hand

This AP story is headlined, "Leak allowed al-Qaida suspects to escape"--a direct statement, although not attributing the leak to a source. The story itself, on the other hand, does its best to bury the import of the story, that is, that US officials, giving an interview with newspeople on background, leaked the name of the terrorist, causing obstruction of ongoing investigations.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Update on October Surprise

Okay, so the conventional wisdom was that if al-Qaeda, or somebody, attacked the US before the election, it would benefit Bush/Cheney on a kind of "don't change horses in the middle of a war" theory. Accordingly, I fretted about such an attack, and I'm sure the Bushies longed for it.

But now that the Bushies have spouted that the recent spate of terrorist arrests have defused the threat against the US, an attack now might play into the Democrats' hands on the theory that once again the Bush administration has failed to assess intelligence and threat correctly. So suddenly I'm rooting for an attack, to spark a turn toward Kerry/Edwards. If such an attack should occur, Kerry/Edwards might just be elected by near-acclamation.

Sensing this, the Bushies have been quick to downplay the significance of the recent arrests, insisting that the danger remains. They don't want for a moment to lose the leverage that continuing fear of terror gives them, even at the expense of our sanity, our serenity, or the truth. And, to combat this cynicism, I assert my own.

For a synopsis of the pundits' ruminations on the subject, and related subjects, check out this Christian Science Monitor article.


An official in Basra (a Shiite city in the south of Iraq, where the major port is located) is calling for secession of three southern provinces from the rest of Iraq? Blaming Alawi for the bloodshed in Karbala and Najaf, and threatening to turn off the oil from the port?


This is the way it is now

A succinct summary of the craziness that's extant in Iraq today, and not all of the craziness at that. The allegations against Alawi aren't included, nor is the story about the Oregon national guardsmen witnessing brutality by the Baghdad police and being ordered to "walk away". (See "What are we doing?" post, below.)

War is hell, I know. But this war's a cut below that.

A followup

Some days ago I blogged about Iraq's Interim PM's murder of prisoners, and of the US medias failure to cover the event. Here's an explanation, in journalistic terms, not political. An explanation, but not satisfying, not at all.

Monday, August 09, 2004

So there's no mistake...

the whole picture must be understood. True, bin Laden wants Bush to win in November, so that he'll continue his "war on terr'r" and thus cause more recruits to the terrorist cause. So, a pre-election attack is being planned, bin Laden's prediction being that this will skew the electorate toward Bush out of fear or something. So far, the thinking is clear and probably correct.

But what it fails to appreciate is that Bush needs terrorism too, and needs it to be feared for at least two more months. Accordingly, we're in for two months of threat and counterthreat, with no certain results, just more fear on our side, more anger on theirs.

Who are these guys?

Who keep screwing up our effort to capture and convict terrorists? First, from a longstanding story now being revived, the Justice Department obstructed a federal prosecution of terrorists in Detroit. Absolutely amazing story that only now is getting legs again.

Getting legs because just last week administration spokepersons "outed" an alleged al Qaeda operative--a Pakistani named Noor Khan--while he was still of value in providing information about the network. The Brits are outraged, because this caused them to accellerate a series of arrests, as well as to fold up an ongoing sting operation. And why was the name released? Condi Rice says it was to "level with" the American citizenry. Bullshit. We didn't need his name in order to be warned. It was done simply to lend credence to the administration's claim that the latest alert wasn't just old news, now released because of political motives. As always in the Bush White House, politics trumps everything, even the safety of the nation.

Advice to Kerry/Edwards campaign: Use Fear Tactic

Not physical fear, not of terrorism, but economic fear, fear of bankruptcy. Bob Herbert of the NYT has some startling numbers showing what's happening to the middle class in Bush's economy.

Sunday, August 08, 2004


"Iraq" (whoever that is) issues an arrest warrant for Chalabi (the Pentagon's pet snitch), for counterfeiting? This war is getting crazier and crazierl

A succinct analysis

As Knight-Ridder puts it:

After the past two days of fighting in southern and central Iraq, the difference between firebrand cleric Muqtada al Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi couldn't be any more clear: Al Sadr has an army, and Allawi does not.

In Iraq, security is politics. When Allawi took office, the self-styled strongman lost little time before declaring that his government wouldn't tolerate the insurgency that's swept the country.

But as in previous battles, when al Sadr's Mahdi Army militia began to overrun Najaf and several neighborhoods from Baghdad to Basra, the Iraqi police force and national guard fought for a little while, then ran.

And as in previous battles, Iraq's Achilles' heel was revealed: To defend their country, Allawi and the interim government must go to the American military, an institution that's widely reviled by many Iraqis as an occupational force run amok.

What are we doing?

We kill 300 "insurgents" on Thursday, another 43 today, an on and on. Is it the US/Iraqi-"Interim government" plan to kill everyone who resists their view of how Iraq should be governed? Al-Jazeera is silenced, the Iraqis are cowering and roasting in their homes, the occupation force--the US, supporting Alawi--holding sway on the streets. Doesn't this sound like Saddam Hussein is still in power, except he's our Saddam?

Listen: We are the evil ones in that region now. We've replaced an earlier evil with our own concept of how Iraq should be run, with the same methodology, except with higher-tech fire power. And if there's any doubt about what kind of "democracy" we're creating in Iraq, check out this report from some Oregon national guardsmen.

And this report by Al-Jazeera (which the arabs read) reveals how the US attacks in Najav are perceived in that world. And we are the "liberators"?