Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Jimmy Carter responds to claims against the Carter Center's activity in Venezuela

From an email daily collection of Venezuelan news I receive through the Venezuela Information Office in New York:

Venezuela's Voters Have Spoken
The Wall Street Journal
August 24, 2004

I would like to respond to Mary O'Grady's recent column ("Observers Rush to Judgment in Caracas," Aug. 20) about The Carter Center's role in the Venezuela recall referendum.

The Carter Center has monitored more than 50 troubled democratic elections, all of them either highly contentious or a nation's first experience with democracy. We are familiar with potential fraudulent techniques and how to obtain a close approximation to the actual results to assure accuracy.

One of our prerequisites for involvement is to be invited by all major political parties and by the central election commission, so it is necessary for us to remain absolutely neutral. These criteria obviously apply to Venezuela.

In 1998, Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela. There was a subsequent referendum to approve a new constitution, and in 2000, another nationwide election for local, state and national offices, with Mr. Chavez prevailing by close to 60% in both presidential elections. Accuracy of results was accepted, ut the opposition remained determined to remove him from office.

A military coup against Mr. Chavez was successful in April 2002, but an aroused Venezuelan public and condemnation of the coup by Latin American governments resulted in Mr. Chavez being restored to office after two days in custody. The next attempt to depose him was a series of nationwide strikes that shut down oil production and almost destroyed the nation's economy. The government survived, but the political confrontation continued.

In January 2003, I proposed that a provision in the new constitution be implemented, providing for a referendum on whether Mr. Chavez should leave office or complete his term. Both sides agreed to this proposal, and the Organization of American States joined our Center in monitoring the gathering of necessary petitions and observing a recall referendum. An organization known as Súmate served as the opposition's driving force in encouraging signatures to depose Mr. Chavez and providing technical advice for their campaign efforts.

The Aug. 15 vote was the culmination of this process, and extra care was taken to ensure secrecy and accuracy. An electronic system was developed by a Venezuelan-American consortium led by SmartMatic that permitted touch-screen voting, with each choice backed up by a paper ballot. International machines were tested in advance, and we observed the entire voting process without limitation or restraint.

During the voting day, opposition leaders claimed to have exit-poll data showing the government losing by 20 percentage points, and this erroneous information was distributed widely. Results from each of the 20,000 machines were certified by poll workers and party observers and transmitted to central election headquarters in Caracas. As in all previous elections, paper ballots were retained under military guard. As predicted by most opinion polls and confirmed by our quick count, Mr. Chavez prevailed by a 59% to 41% margin.

Subsequently an audit was conducted to assure compatibility between manual ballots and electronically transmitted data, but opposition leaders insisted that their exit polls were accurate and that all other data were fraudulent. We met the following morning with Súmate, and they reported their own quick count showing a 10% government victory. Since their only remaining question was the accuracy of the audit, we developed the procedure for a second audit. Súmate and election commission members (government and opposition) agreed with our proposal. The second audit revealed no significant disparities.

Our responsibilities do not end when votes are counted. We seek acceptance of the results by all sides, and reconciliation if distrust or disharmony is deep. We have already begun efforts to establish a dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the still-antagonistic opposition leaders.

When local citizens or foreigners disapprove of a political decision made in free and fair elections, the only legitimate recourse is to honor the decision, cooperate whenever possible, and promote future leadership changes through democratic means.

Jimmy Carter
Atlanta

Nice try Jimmy. They will not be satisfied. They cannot have Chávez, with his populist policies, in power.

Chavez makes appeal to the rich
The Houston Chronicle
August 23, 2004


CARACAS - President Hugo Chavez told his opponents Sunday they should not fear his left-wing "revolution" after his victory in a national referendum and pledged to respect private wealth. In a television broadcast, the populist leader sought to dispel fears among rich and middle-class Venezuelans that he planned to launch a fresh ideological offensive against their status and property. "All this stuff about Chavez and his hordes coming to sweep away the rich, it's a lie," he said. "We have no plan to hurt you. All your rights are guaranteed, you who have large properties or luxury farms or cars."

Nice try Hugo. For the umpteenth time. They never accepted it before. They're not accepting it now. They don't want a mulatto Venezuela Native/African any where near power in their country.

These people continue to scream about communism and the president's friendship with Castro, his authoritarian and even dictatorial ways, his oppression of free speech (even though they own and publish five of the seven TV stations in the country and all the major print media, and freely take to the streets regularly to protest). They are simply out of control. And backed by the likes of the U.S. president and presidential candidate.

Commentary: Stop crying foul in Venezuela
Carmen Gentile
United Press International
August 23, 2004

CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 23 (UPI)

There must be something perversely appealing about shooting yourself in the foot.

Why else would Venezuela's political opposition leaders continue to balk at the results of last week's presidential referendum? After days of weeping, wailing and gnashing their teeth over President Hugo Chavez's victory, they've done nothing but destroy their credibility and deepen the partisan divide while strengthening Chavez's self-anointed profile as the people's leader who gets a bad rap from Venezuela's wealthy elite.

Even though international observers have insisted repeatedly that Venezuelans decided by a convincing majority to keep the leftist leader, the opposition refuses to accept the results and continues to promote it foul-play agenda.

And what an ineffective strategy it's been. While the rest of the country has celebrated or resigned themselves to the results, opposition leaders like Enrique Mendoza, a potential presidential candidate in 2006 and governor of Miranda state, are leading the charge.

It was Mendoza who made the call not to participate in the post-vote audit by observers lead by former President Jimmy Carter, even though it was the opposition that demanded it in the first place and was set to take part in the process. His reasoning? The proposed audit wasn't comprehensive enough to reach a fair conclusion: It couldn't determine that the opposition had actually won and voted Chavez out of office.

Then the governor urged Carter to acknowledge his fraud claims to prevent the a similar result from happening in other countries in the region -- as if losing to the Venezuelan left was an infective disease.

"The observers must understand that what has happened in Venezuela could repeat itself in any other country in the region," said Mendoza in an attempt to steer the conspiracy machine his way.

Carter and others didn't bite, however, leaving Venezuela even further divided along socio-economic lines, much like the rest of the continent.

The opposition's disdain for the president is based largely on claims the president has aspirations to turn the South American country into a communist state and that his authoritarian style of rule is ruining a once vibrant economy. His loyalists -- known locally as "Chavistas" -- call him the "people's champion" and laud the president for sweeping social programs funded by state oil revenue.

The Democratic Coordination, or CD -- an umbrella group of more than 40 political and social activist groups opposed to the leftist Chavez -- had the perfect opportunity to attract some Chavistas to their cause by calmly and competently illustrating the numerous ways Chavez has mismanaged his social revolution these last few years. Although the president has spent billions of dollars on education and food programs, poverty continues to grow in the oil-rich nation.

Even in defeat, the CD could have proven themselves a viable political force with which to be reckoned despite the loss had they accepted the results and built on the momentum of the moment. Just getting a referendum after months of political wrangling with Venezuela's National Electoral Council was a victory in itself and could have been the turning point for the movement.

Instead, they focused their post-election attention on rumors of dumped ballot boxes found in a field and whispers of vote tampering, neither of which were discovered to be true. In a week's time, they've managed to alienate the majority of their supporters, who just want to get on with their lives. They have also portrayed themselves as the out-of-touch rich folks with a vendetta against the working man and poor masses, which by the way make up more than three-fourths of Venezuelan society.

Over the weekend the leadership threatened to boycott September's municipal elections in which a number of key offices are up for grabs. Not taking part in the elections would mean conceding the positions to pro-Chavez politicians and strengthening the president's grip on his office.

Their tantrums have inspired a backlash from Chavez, who earlier extended the olive branch to the opposition after the elections. But on Sunday, the president said he would no longer deal with the CD and called on the international community to do likewise.

Even Washington -- which certainly has no love for the man they characterize as a 21st century Castro -- is urging the opposition to move beyond fraud charges.

Every public allegation of fraud and slander against Chavez further alienates the opposition leadership from their followers and those who voted to keep Chavez in office, spraying their political enemies with another round of bad publicity buckshot and worsening their chances of winning in September and possibly regaining control of the presidency in 2006 when Chavez is up for re-election.

But hey, where's the fun? Why work toward your goals when you can have a foot full of lead?

Indeed.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Previous Venezuela posts
More on Venezuela

Abu Ghraib report

The US Defence Department's most senior civilian and military officials share a portion of blame for creating conditions that led to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, according to a new report.

The report, issued by a commission appointed by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, briefed him on its findings and recommendations in advance of a Pentagon news conference on Tuesday.

The commission was headed by James Schlesinger, a former secretary of defence.

"There was indirect responsibility at higher levels in that the weaknesses at Abu Ghraib were well known and that corrective action could have been taken and should have been taken," Schlesinger said.

The report cited the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the military command in Iraq for leadership failures that resulted in naked detainees being abused and humiliated, the reports said.

"The abuses were not just the failure of some individuals to follow known standards, and they are more than the failure of a few leaders to enforce proper discipline," the report said.

Shlesinger also called described Abu Ghraib as an "animal house" where the abuse was "sadistic".
  Aljazeera article

Holy Moly Mother. "Indirect responsibility" is a little lighter than I'd like to see in the conclusion, but still, it's a far cry from "seven bad apples" in the Army's report. And those bad apples look pretty bad in that report. But not nearly as bad as they ultimately were, if Seymour Hersh and dozens of Iraqis are to be believed. And I think they are.

The Army report, which is also due to be released this week, "will show that MPs (military police officers) were using their animals to make juveniles, as young as 15 years old, urinate on themselves as part of a competition".

Shlesinger's report also hits that lying sack of shit Sanchez (again, probably not hard enough).

The outside panel led by former Defence Secretary James Schlesinger criticizes Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez who was the top US commander in Iraq when the abuse occurred between October and December of last year.

Sanchez is criticized "for not paying close enough attention to worsening conditions at Abu Ghraib, (and of) delegating oversight of prison operations to subordinates".

At least the Shlesinger report is something. We'll see what the Senate does with it September 9.

Yeah, I know. That esteemed, honorable house of self-serving suckups.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Abu Ghraib trials

In the months before the scandal broke over photographs of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners, an intelligence supervisor at Abu Ghraib prison sent a memo to interrogators telling them "the gloves are coming off," regarding the treatment of detainees, a lawyer for one of the accused soldiers said yesterday.
Paul Bergrin, a lawyer for Javal S. Davis, who is scheduled to appear in court here today, said he received a copy of the memo from "clandestine sources" in the intelligence community and planned to introduce it into evidence today. Its authenticity could not be independently confirmed.
The memo appears to be the first known document to support contentions by several soldiers charged in the case that they were merely following directions from intelligence officers bent on "softening up" detainees for interrogation.
  Sout Coast Today article

Chip Frederick, one of the first names to come out in this horror story, is pleading guilty.

Frederick said what he did was wrong and he asked fellow soldiers to understand that the soldier who exposed the abuse, Spc. Joseph M. Darby, was right for reporting it.

"I have accepted responsibility for my actions at Abu Ghraib prison. I will be pleading guilty to certain charges because I have concluded that what I did was a violation of law," Frederick said in a statement issued to The Associated Press. "I am hopeful that all those within the Army who contributed to or participated in the chaos that was Abu Ghraib will also come forward and accept responsibility.
"Lastly, I am concerned for the well being of Specialist Darby and his family. I just learned that he was placed in protective custody because of threats against him. To all who have supported me, I want you to know that I have no bad feelings towards Specialist Darby and neither should you. He did what he thought was right, and it was right. I ask you to accept that and move on."


Reclaiming some honor. He's pleading guilty to "some" of the charges. Which ones, I don't know yet.

Stay tuned.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Joke break

Stolen from Maru, and slightly altered.

Q: What award did George W Bush earn during the Vietnam war?
A: The Pabst Blue Ribbon.



Out-machoed

Funny post at Digby's, with some great responses, as usual. Digby posts this picture asking what we should call it, since they are calling Kerry a "poseur" (French, of course) in light of a photo another Swiftboat veteran published with himself and Kerry (holding a rocket launcher) back in Viet Nam.



The first commenter has the cleverest response: Loseur

And I rather like: Douchebagette

What's French for "happysack"?

"Loseur" is right.

Bushista war crimes indictment

On Aug. 26, leaders of the global anti-war movement, expert witnesses, GI resisters and activists will gather in New York to consider overwhelming evidence of the criminal atrocities committed by the Bush administration against Iraq and the people of the world.

The Iraq War Crimes Tribunal, inspired by the World Tribunal on Iraq that has held sessions in many countries, comes at the beginning of a week of demonstrations against the Republican National Convention. They send a message to the resistance here and across the globe that it is the obligation of people here in the U.S. to end this nightmare.
  Workers World article

Below is the indictment written by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

Join us on Thursday, August, 26, 2004, to hear the reading of the indictment and presentation of evidence from expert witnesses, eyewitnesses, GI resisters, and representatives from international sessions of the World Tribunal on Iraq.

Thursday, August 26
3-9 pm
Marin Luther King Auditorium
65th & Amsterdam

For more information:
http://www.PeopleJudgeBush.org

To Register:
http://www.PeopleJudgeBush.org/register.shtml

To Donate:
http://www.PeopleJudgeBush.org/donate.shtml

...We need your help with the enormous expenses of the Tribunal, including airfare for international witnesses, housing, renting the auditorium, printing research and educational material, and other needs.

Please consider helping by donating online or by making a check payable to: "People Judge Bush / IAC," and sending it to : People Judge Bush, 39 W. 14 St. #206, New York, NY 10011....



INDICTMENT

This Criminal Indictment Charges George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald H. Rumsfeld, John D. Ashcroft, Tommy Franks, and his successors as Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq, George J. Tenet, L. Paul Bremer, III, John Negroponte and others to be named with Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and other criminal acts in violation of the Charter of the United Nations, International Law, the Constitution of the United States and Laws Made in Pursuance Thereof.

The Crimes Charged are:




Click to download flyer (pdf)




Ramsey Clark also wants to impeach the Head Crook. Clark's Articles of Impeachment are here.

Ramsey Clark. Those were different days in the Attorney General's office, eh? Today, we have Fascroft. We've come a long way in the wrong direction.



Update: Falluja

Najaf has taken the front page, but Falluja is still being razed, as well.

US Forces Attack Target in Iraqi City of Falluja

U.S. aircraft and artillery bombarded targets in the Iraqi city of Falluja early on Tuesday, lighting up the night sky with explosions that shook the southwest of the city, residents said....


U.S. warplanes bomb Falluja

U.S. warplanes bombed the volatile city of Falluja early Tuesday, and flames and plumes of smoke rose from its southern neighbourhoods, witnesses said. The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

Ambulances and fire trucks raced to the scene of the explosions. It was unclear what the target was or whether there were casualties....

Will top dogs have to testify?

A US Army judge delivered two setbacks Tuesday to a soldier accused in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse case, currently being held in the German city of Mannheim, by rejecting defence motions, including one seeking Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a witness.

The motion had been presented by defence counsel for Sergeant Javal Davis, one of four accused soldiers whose cases were being reviewed in pretrial hearings at the US Army Legal Services Agency at Taylor Barracks in Mannheim.

Presiding judge Colonel James Pohl, besides rejecting the Rumsfeld motion, had earlier rejected the defence's motion trying to get Davis' initial testimony be thrown out due to alleged procedural irregularities.

...However, Pohl said the court would consider later evidence submitted by the defence to argue for calling in Rumsfeld as a witness.

...In the hearings for Private Lynndie England at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, her lawyers submitted a motion to get Vice President Donald Cheney as a witness. The judge in that hearing, Colonel Denise Arn, said she would study the request.
  Expatica article

Of course I could be wrong, but my advice is - don't get your hopes up.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Mighty Mouses

Researchers have unveiled genetically engineered mice that can run farther and longer than their naturally bred brethren, bringing the “genetic doping” of elite athletes a small step closer to reality.

The creation of the so-called marathon mice, announced in San Francisco, follows earlier genetic engineering work that created “Schwarzenegger mice”, rodents that bulked up after getting injected with muscle-building genes.
  Scotsman article

Athletes, sure. That's who we're wanting to modify. Yeah, that's right.

(DARPA's Creepy Bioengineering Program)

“This is a real breakthrough in our understanding of exercise and diet and their effects on obesity,” said lead researcher Ronald Evans of the Salk Institute in San Diego. “The practical use of this discovery is the implication in controlling weight.”

Health, sure. That's what we're looking at. Yeah, that's it.

"By changing the way skeletal muscles respond to low-oxygen levels, we've developed muscles that appear to be superiorly adapted or trained for long bouts of . . . aerobic exercise," Johnson said.

The gains in the UCSD study were temporary and came at a price, however. After four days of exercise tests, the genetically engineered mice endured much more muscle damage than normal mice, and they could no longer run or swim as much as their unaltered counterparts.
  Sign on San Diego article

Oops.

In Evans' study [Ronald Evans, lead researcher in the Salk study], no adverse side effects were found in the engineered mice.

I've heard that before.

Besides Johnson and Mason, other UCSD scientists who contributed to the study included Richard Howlett, Matthew Kim, Mark Olfert, Michael Hogan, Wayne McNulty and Peter Wagner. Reed Hickey and Fran Giordano from the Yale University medical school and C. Ronald Kahn from the Harvard University medical school were also coauthors of the study, which was paid for by the National Institutes of Health.

Yale. Hmmmmm......

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.



In case you missed it...
Does the military protect our freedom?


A little gossip from Conspiracy Planet

In previous issues, we carried comments from a reporter assigned to the White House press corps. Some of these remarks, most especially one about Bush’s physical and mental problems, drew an enormous number of viewers and hundreds of inquiries, most especially from foreign press entities.

The reporter advised us by email that there was rampant fury in the White House and security was becoming very tight. As a result of this, he decided to lay low for a few weeks and see how the wind was blowing. Yesterday, he sent us the following material which we are now posting. Some of it is outrageous in the extreme but to date, no one has proven him wrong.

(August 9, 2004) ”Here are some bits of candy for you and your readers. You will be hearing much about certain “important terrorist revelations” allegedly obtained from the laptop of a “top alQuaeda” operative that was “captured” in Pakistan. Don’t believe any of it, children.

One of my sources in the Monkey Palace has shown me an evaluation that states that all of this has been faked from old intercepts by the Special Collections Service in Beltsville, Maryland, who have faked other “Osama binLaden tapes” This concocted “intelligence” was then stuck into a Dell laptop put together in Austin, Texas and sold to a reliable Pakistani stool pigeon. This has faked “Osama bin Laden” material on it and the White House has built a great propaganda campaign around it. The gist of the faked messages is that there will be an attack in the US just before the elections. Remember, you heard it here first!


More...

Monkey Palace. I like it.

Judge says no to protests in Central Park

A federal judge has refused the appeal of ANSWER and National Council of Arab Americans to protest in Central Park during the RNC. They must know that they are squeezing people, and squeezing people is a sure-fire way to incite riots. Perhaps they can control them by the Miami model. And then blame them on the Democrats. Gee, I wonder if they've thought of that?

"The ANSWER Coalition, the NCAA is not only disappointed with the ruling," Becker said, "but we condemn the city for presenting to the court a completely false brief and making in court false representations, which on the face contradict themselves."

Lawyers for New York City have said that the rally could destroy the Great Lawn, which was restored in 1997 at a cost of over $18 million, as rally organizers did not give them a contingency date in the event of rain and did not guarantee them a limit of 80,000 people would not be exceeded.

The two plaintiffs argued the city's decision to refuse them a permit was a violation of their right to free speech and said tens of thousands of people gather on the lawn several times a year for musical concerts.

The purpose of the rally, scheduled for the 41st anniversary of the 1963 civil rights march on Washington led by Martin Luther King Jr., is to affirm "the civil rights of Arab-Americans and Muslims, targeted communities, that have been under assault by the Bush-Ashcroft Justice Department, with particular vengeance since September 11, 2001," Becker said.

"We are offended that they are offering us a location outside of Manhattan, as if we are being made to ride at the back of the buses," Rashmawi said.
  CNN article

The judge says he wants to see a back-up plan in case of rain, and a guarantee that the protest will be limited to no more than 80,000 people.

Another antiwar group, United For Peace and Justice, has also sued the city for denying it a permit to protest on the Great Lawn on Aug. 29, the day before the convention begins. UFPJ sought a permit for as many as 250,000 people and will argue in New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday for a permit to hold the rally.

But, like one guy said a while back, why do I need a "permit" to protest?

This is apt to go postal, and I think the Rethugs would like nothing better. Expect undercover agitators and vandals, as well. Like the Miami model.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Central Park



Learning the hard way in Najaf

Iraq's defense minister on Tuesday issued an ultimatum to followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr holding the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf -- get out or be wiped out.

Interim Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Sha'alan said Iraqi forces will move Tuesday evening to seal off the mosque and will use loudspeakers to encourage al-Sadr's supporters to leave.

"We are in the last hours. This evening, Iraqi forces will reach the doors of the shrine and control it and appeal to the Mehdi Army to throw down their weapons," Sha'alan told a news conference, according to Reuters. "If they do not, we will wipe them out."

Iraqi officials have issued similar ultimatums in recent days, threatening to take strong action but then not doing so.
  CNN article

Man talk. Like Georgie does. ("Fuck Saddam, we're takin' 'im out!" "Bring 'em on!" "I want heads to roll!") Peas in a pod.

Georgie mouthpiece Fox, and all its 'expert' commentators talk like that, too.

Sadr, complained former US Army Maj. Gen. Bob Scales, has confronted “the Occupier” four times, and “each time he escapes death, his status goes up!” Sadr’s growing reputation as an Iraqi leader unfettered and unbeholden to the United States means future Iraqi politics, including elections, “could get messy.” Sadr’s survival could “affect the democratization of Iraq” and cause “perceptions” that US-led “democratization is not on the right path,” Scales preached.

Another Fox commentator, former US Air Force Gen. Thomas McInerney, claims Sadr is Iran’s puppet, “paid” to lead “a perfect storm.” Iran’s “objective,” McInerney avers, “is to sheer off the Shiite part of Iraq and make that a province of Iran and take that oil wealth they’ll have. And then they would love to see Syria sheer off the Sunni part and then the Kurds could go their (own) way.”

The only way to prevent this is, in McInerney’s words, to “take him out.”

Or, as commentator Brit Hume clarified, “Go in there and just kill this guy.”
  Arab News article

Here's another recent one from the Iraq puppet regime:

McInerney complained US forces’ failure to kill Sadr early on was “a mistake.” The US restrained itself because “Iraqi officials didn’t want to” kill Sadr. “What we have to do,” McInerney explained, “is to get Prime Minister Allawi to agree we’ve got to take him out. And I think they realize (that) now.” Thus did Iraq’s defense minister announce if Sadr and company did not leave Najaf, “We will teach them a lesson they will never forget.

But the only “teachers” in sight are the US Army’s 1st Cavalry Division and the 11th US Marine Expeditionary Unit, and the US armor, helicopters, and warplanes they now command. Sadr insisted upon freedom of speech, the press, and the rights of Arabs to express Arab opinions. As more and more Iraqis decided they agreed with Sadr, his Mahdi fighters took to the streets, stunning Washington and unnecessarily costing American lives and many millions of dollars.

Well, it's not an unnecessary cost. We have to protect our freedoms, which the Arabs hate, at all costs.
Right, George? Right, John?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Crayons ready?

Jim sends this wonderful Chronicle archive...

Sunday, August 8, 2004
San Francisco Chronicle
Jaime O'Neill

In anticipation of the day when George W. Bush is no longer in office, it is perhaps appropriate to give some thought to the prospect of a George W. Bush Presidential Library. The concept may seem oxymoronic to some. After all, how do we go about building a library for a man who appears so proud of his alienation from printed matter? He boasts of not reading newspapers, and there is little to be found in any of his public statements to suggest a familiarity with any book whatsoever. The thought of our current president reading, say, Shakespeare, defies imagining. It is difficult to think of him reading Danielle Steele, or John Grisham, let alone the Bard of Avon.

But if the Bush presidency has been about anything, it's been about breaking free of the fetters of the traditional past. It was the Bush presidency, after all, that did away with the fussy old notion about the U.S. not engaging in unilateral acts of first-strike aggression against sovereign nations. It was George Bush, after all, who redefined a "conservative" as someone who believed in enormous deficits. And it was the Bush administration that accelerated the separation of language from action by constantly saying one thing while meaning another; i.e. "Clear Skies" initiatives, and "No Child Left Behind."

Given all that, it may turn out that the George W. Bush Presidential Library (or, perhaps, "Liberry") will be equally surprising in the ways it breaks with tradition, and with meaning.

But one tradition that probably won't be broken is the time-honored practice of commemorating presidential bon mots by chiseling them in marble. Immortal ideas expressed in the president's own immortal language.

Consider what might be chiseled in stone over the door to the education wing of the Bush Liberry, for instance. "Is Our Children Learning?" would make a most fitting presidential quote emblazoned above the portal to the Bush Hall of Lurning, a monument to the Bush administration's heroic struggle to "leave no child behind." Or, if a more timeless quality is required for future visitors to the Bush Liberry, the president's observation from Jan. 23, 2004, might suffice: "The illiteracy level of our children are appalling."

The wing of the Bush Liberry dedicated to the administration's contributions to the space program could be entered by passing under the motto: "Astronauts ... courageous spacial entrepreneurs."

Heading west from the Space Wing of the Bush Liberry, visitors may find themselves approaching the Compassion Wing. What words would better express the President's compassionate nature than these?: "There's only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids upon the death of their loved one. Others hug but having committed the troops, I've got an additional responsibility to hug and that's me and I know what it's like."

Beyond compassion, history will want to record the visionary and far- sighted energy policy the administration promoted. Over the entry-way to the Energy Wing of the Liberry, we might find the following Bush words: "We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."

In the wing devoted to Bush's bold statesmanship, the visitor may well find these words, spoken about Saddam Hussein in the run-up to the war with Iraq: " ... you disarm, or we will."

Over the archway to the Hall of Labor, we may find these Bush words: "We want anybody who can find work to be able to find work." A fitting commemoration of the administration's tireless efforts on behalf of America's work force.

In the wing of the Liberry devoted to Bush, the partisan warrior, future visitors might find the following timeless words, uttered in an attempt to fight back the nefarious work of the Democrats: "They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it's some kind of federal program."

There is certain to be a wing of the Liberry devoted to George Bush, the dreamer.

That wing could be introduced with these words: " ... America -- a literate country and a hopefuller country." Or, in that same vein, try to imagine these words set in stone: " My job is to, like, think beyond the immediate." What could be more visionary?

At this point in time, the George W. Bush Presidential Liberry exists only in the imagination, but it won't be long before such a place becomes a reality. Future visitors are, however, encouraged to bring their own books.

And crayons.

Jaime O'Neill teaches English at Butte Community College near Oroville.
  article

Monday, August 23, 2004

Return to Hooverville

Hoover, a Republican, was president from 1929 to 1933 and his term saw the stock market crash of 1929 and the early years of the Great Depression.

He was walloped by Franklin D Roosevelt in 1933, having presided over huge job losses and having shanty towns on the edge of cities dubbed "Hoovervilles".

The similarity to Bush, also a Republican, is that the present incumbent faces the prospect of becoming the first president since Hoover to preside over a net loss of jobs in a four-year term.

As Bush's term has followed the eight years of economic boom under Bill Clinton, the Hoover comparison is one that hurts.

It hands Democratic challenger John Kerry one of his strongest cards in the campaign.

It has been touch and go all year as to whether jobs growth, measured by monthly non-farm payrolls data, would be sufficiently rapid to save Bush from having to adopt the Hoover mantle.

But the low new jobs figure of 32,000 in July, compared with a Wall Street forecast of a 220,000 gain, combined with a downward revision of 50,000 to the jobs numbers of the previous two months, means Bush needs almost a quarter of a million new jobs a month between now and the end of the year to replace all the jobs lost since he took power in 2000.

The Guardian article goes on to analyze the job situation, the high price of gas in the U.S., Bush's tax cuts, and Kerry's should-be advantage, concluding...

So, given the state of the economy and the fact that only the rich have really benefited from the Bush tax cuts, the really puzzling thing about all of this is why Mr Bush is still neck-and-neck with Mr Kerry in the opinion polls.

Go figger.

Maybe Americans are masochistic idiots. Maybe we're more concerned about gay marriage than the economy. And, then again, maybe the polls aren't accurate. Kind of like the polls in Venezuela, both in the opposition-owned media and under the auspices of a U.S. polling firm.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Presidential Auction 2004

Jay has created a bumper sticker, he says to remind us that we do have a choice.



....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Presidential Auction 2004

President Bush said on Monday advertisements by independent groups attacking Democrat John Kerry's service in Vietnam should be stopped along with all other ads run by independent groups.

The president said he wants to stop "all of them. That means that ad and every other ad." He was referring to a commercial by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who have claimed Kerry lied about his record.

Unlike previous statements by the White House, Bush this time referred specifically to the ad attacking Kerry's Vietnam service record.

He did not specify what action might be taken to stop the advertisements run by independent groups.
  Reuters article

Backfired. Got a little too hot in the kitchen. Proven lies and connections to the Bush campaign of the Swiftboat smear ad. Forced his hand.

But, notice, he couldn't just condemn the smear ad connected to his own campaign ("independent" - ha!), he had to lump all independent ads together like a busted bully crybaby. Or a dictator-tot. I want it all stopped! All of it! (Sound of little feet stomping.) I have recently experienced a tyrannical little fundamentalist boss with the very same approach.

What a joke. Er...jerk.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Who are we?

I'm watching Chairpersons Kean and Gorelick of the 9/11 Commission testify as to what we should do to prevent more terrorist attacks, in particular what to do about our relationship with Islamic countries.

Here's the decision: (1) better propaganda throughout the Muslim world about how wonderful we are, because they aren't being told all the good things we have done for Muslims, and (2) create new schools in Arab cultures which "glorify death" and re-educate Arab children with western ideas.

There. The problem is that Arabs just don't know who we really are.

I am always amazed at the blind ignorance of our "representatives". The Arab world - indeed, the entire rest of the world - knows full well who we are. They can tell by our actions through foreign policy, both overt and covert. Our rhetoric and our ideas are meaningless to everyone but ourselves.

We are the people who don't know who we are.

Presidential Auction 2004

Maru is also walking a fine line (pun intended) with this post (excerpt with photo):

Evil, grandstanding propagandist plans to further exploit Iraqi soccer team

Feel like losing your lunch? Drudge is 'reporting' that the shameless lying dictator-tot is thinking about grabbing his pompoms and heading to the Olympics to cheer on the Iraqi soccer team, who everybody knows is only there due to the grace and majesty of George W Bush, savior of mankind.

Do it, you idiot: you'll be booed out of the arena.



....hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Presidential Auction 2004

Maru is disgusted with Bob Dole now.

What is wrong with these people? My god is bigger than your god. My war wounds are worse than yours. My dick is bigger. Jezus! No wonder the world is in sad shape.

And while you idiots are at it, remember, Georgie doesn't have any war wounds. But he thinks he is God, so maybe that's what counts.

I know this much: he is a little prick.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

October Baath offensive?

Juan Cole comments:

If George Will is right that the Baath is planning a big October offensive, it is being planned in al-Anbar Province and may be launched from there.


Here's what George Will said...

So does sovereignty reside with the prime minister whose will evidently commands U.S. commanders? Or with those commanders who curb the prime minister's will?

A house so divided cannot stand. If it is the prime minister's will, or that of Iraq's embryonic democratic institutions, to conduct with insurgent factions negotiations that strip the Iraqi state of an essential attribute of statehood - a monopoly on the legitimate exercise of violence - the U.S. presence will swiftly become untenable.

Untenable even before what may be coming before November: an Iraqi version of the North Vietnamese Tet offensive of 1968.

To say that the coming offensive will be by "Baathists" is, according to one administration official, akin to saying "Nazis" when you mean "the SS" - the most fearsome of the Nazis.

Such an offensive could make Sadr's insurgency seem a minor irritant. And it could unmake a presidency, as Tet did.


And I have no idea where the idea of this Baath attack comes from. It could be true. It could be CIA. It could be disinformation - fear mongering.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Presidential Auction 2004

Thanks again to Professor Cole, who over the course of my reading his blog, seems to be more and more willing to get into the nitty gritty of things.

I've posted several times on the Liar in Chief's character (link, link, link - for a few), which the fundamental righteous right seem to stand on against all other political failings of the lout. They claim his character to be his greatest asset. The man is a lying, sleazy loser. And worse.

The history of alcoholism and cocaine use is a key issue because it not only speaks to Bush's character as an addictive personality, but tells us something about his erratic and alarming actions as president. His explosive temper probably provoked the disastrous siege of Fallujah last spring, killing 600 Iraqis, most of them women and children, in revenge for the deaths of 4 civilian mercenaries, one of them a South African. (Newsweek reported that Bush commanded his cabinet, "Let heads roll!") That temper is only one problem. Bush has a sadistic streak. He clearly enjoyed, as governor, watching executions. His delight in killing people became a campaign issue in 2000 when he seemed, in one debate, to enjoy the prospect of executing wrong-doers a little too much. He has clearly gone on enjoying killing people on a large scale in Iraq. Cocaine use permanently affects the ability of the person to feel deep emotions like empathy. Two decades of pickling his nervous system in various highly toxic substances have left Bush damaged goods. That he managed to get on the wagon (though with that pretzel incident, you wonder how firmly) is laudable. But he suffers the severe effects of the aftermath, and we are all suffering along with him now, since he is the most powerful man in the world.


More...on the money, and frighteningly disgusting.

Najaf

US occupation forces have hit a part of the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, causing damage to its outer wall, as fierce fighting continues.

...Serious damage to the mosque precincts could enrage millions of Shia Muslims and fuel hostility to the US presence in Iraq.
  Aljazeera article

That's the plan, isn't it?

Juan Cole comments on this latest news:

Just how explosive the news of damage to the shrine could be is demonstrated by the reaction in Egypt to the fighting so far.

Shaikh Ali Gumaa (Jum`ah), the Mufti of Egypt, has warned of a "volcano" erupting in the Muslim world as a result of the U.S. military action in Najaf.

...Note also that Gumaa sees the U.S. as attacking Najaf and its holy sites, not as defending it from the depredations of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. This perception is very widespread in the Muslim world. Indeed, I suspect that it represents 99 percent of Muslims outside Iraq itself. American commentators often feel that they have played a trump card when they point out that it is Muqtada who has desecrated the shrines, not the U.S., which is only trying to rid them of his goons. While this argument may be convincing to some Americans, it just doesn't fly in the Muslim world. Americans don't get to tell Muslims which arguments Muslims find convincing. The U.S., as a foreign, Christian force, is seen as not having any business in Najaf, and as rampaging around there like an enraged elephant.

Al-Jazeerah did "person on the street" interviews on the Najaf issue in Cairo and Beirut. The Egyptians said things like, "this is an American attack on Islam." Not on Najaf, or Shiism, or on Iraq. On Islam. That's what a lot of Muslims think, and they are absolutely furious.

Some of my readers have suggested to me that it doesn't matter what Americans do, since Muslims hate them anyway.

This statement is silly. Most Muslims never hated the United States per se. In 2000, 75 percent of Indonesians rated the US highly favorably. The U.S. was not as popular in the Arab world, because of its backing for Israel against the Palestinians, but it still often had decent favorability ratings in polls. But all those poll numbers for the US are down dramatically since the invasion of Iraq and the mishandling of its administration afterwards. Only 2 percent of Egyptians now has a favorable view of the United States.

It doesn't have to be this way.


Read the rest. I especially appreciate this sentiment, coming as it does from a respected historian, hardly a radicalized fringe member of society:

I got some predictably angry mail at my earlier statement that the Marines who provoked the current round of fighting in Najaf, apparently all on their own and without orders from Washington, were behaving like ignoramuses. Someone attempted to argue to me that the Marines were protecting me. Protecting me? The ones in Najaf are behaving in ways that are very likely to get us all blown up. The US officials who encouraged the Mujahidin against the Soviets were also trying to protect us, and they ended up inadvertently creating the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Such protection, I don't need.


I've said similar things since the invasion got underway when people were telling me that our military is protecting my freedoms. The response to that is, not in this way it isn't. I, and others here who are speaking out against these incredible imperialist moves and designs to turn the world against us through lies and power plays - those of us telling the truth about what is going on - are the people who are protecting my freedoms. And it is a constant, constantly under attack, job.

So, thank you, Professor Cole.

el NID

The Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence committee unveiled a proposal Sunday to remove most of the nation's major intelligence-gathering operations from the CIA and Pentagon and place them directly under the control of a new national intelligence director.

The plan, announced by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and endorsed by seven other committee Republicans, is more severe than the reorganization proposed last month by the Sept. 11 commission and would result in the virtual dismantling of the CIA. It also would severely curb the power and influence of the Defense Department, which controls the bulk of the federal classified intelligence budget.

...[W]hile the White House indicated it would study the proposal, an intelligence official Sunday said the plan "makes no sense" and would cause more problems than it would solve.

"Rather than eliminating stovepipes, this will create more of them," said the official, requesting anonymity.

"Rather than bringing intelligence disciplines together, it smashes them apart. . . . This proposal is unworkable and would hamper rather than enhance the nation's intelligence operations."

The plan was welcomed by the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, who has endorsed the changes advocated by the Sept. 11 commission, including creation of a national intelligence director.

...In outlining the proposal, Roberts said, "No one agency, no matter how distinguished its history, is more important than U.S. national security." The paper also said: "We are not abolishing the CIA. We are reordering and renaming its three major elements."

But the senior intelligence official said that little would be left at the CIA under the plan. "That's exactly what it would do: demolish the agency," the official said. "This goes way beyond anything reasonable."
  Arizona Republic article

I'm all for abolishing the CIA, but wouldn't it simply be shifting the power to another group?

I certainly can't make any comments on the reasonableness or the value of any of these bureaucratic reconfigurations, because I don't know enough about their structures. The scrapping and scraping for ultimate power, though, is a sight to behold, isn't it?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

The same Oscar Pérez

I had thought it might take longer to actually get the positive confirmation that the man we talked to on our trip to Venezuela this past April was the same man who is now claiming the recall referendum was a fraud. (See my previous post.)

As it turns out, VHeadline.com has provided me the information taken together with my handwritten notes from the talk to confirm Oscar Pérez' identity. In my handwritten notes I had made a notation that Mr. Pérez was a deputy of parliament (the British translator's choice of words), and the editor of VHeadline.com, Roy S. Carson, has informed me that there is only one assemblyman named Oscar Pérez - the same one who told us in April that the opposition was not expecting to win the referendum.

They're just determined to get rid of Chávez, so no lie is too base, no tactic too illegal or immoral. Democracy be damned.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The same Oscar Pérez?

I believe it is.

El Universal: Oscar Perez, the street actions coordinator of the Coordinadora Democratica (CD), has announced that the opposition coalition would stage motorcades and protests against the "fraud" that he continues to allege was committed during the presidential recall referendum.
VHeadline article

I didn't catch the name of the party Oscar Pérez (who gave a talk to a Global Exchange tour I was with in Caracas last April) said he was with, but I am going to guess that it was CD. In my report on the trip, I recounted from the notes I took what opposition member Oscar Perez told us:

An interesting point that gets missed in the claims and counterclaims is that even if there are enough signatures to get a recall vote, Chávez has to lose by more votes than he won the election by. And that is almost certainly not possible, which even Mr. Pérez admits.

Just like any other political whore, eh?

Understand that the opposition could be working on a platform and on grooming an opposing candidate for the national elections that come up in 2006, instead of wasting time, energy, and money fighting the results of the audited and verified recall they just put the country through hell to have. Apparently, they have some other agenda besides actually participating in democracy.

Apologies to both Oscar Pérezes, if they are two different men. Can any of my tour companions verify or clarify?

Update 1:30 pm: I tried to find a picture of Mr. Pérez on the internet, but had no luck. Thinking maybe VHeadline.com (publisher of the article above) might have one, I wrote to find out. They didn't have an archived photo, but offered to try to find something. Still, this was an interesting reply (my message in blue, response in red):

I am trying to determine if this is the same man who gave a talk to a group of people I was with on a Global Exchange tour in Caracas this past April. I think it might well be, but I am not certain. I don’t speak Spanish, and I was trying to take notes through an interpreter and missed the man’s party affiliations, although I do believe he gave them in his introduction. I would recognize him if I saw a picture, but I am having no luck finding an internet photo. This is the only identifying information I have in my notes, and which I set out in a report (http://www.missouri.edu/~quinnl/MVR/report.html) about the tour:
What I did understand was that he is a former attorney who works with a coalition of about 40 non-governmental organizations and parties that support the Opposition.

… Mr. Pérez claimed that he has been kidnapped twice and his house broken into two times. He didn't explain, but the implication was that Chávez is responsible.
Not likely! He may have been investigated by the Venezuelan FBI since his name crops up several time in relation to extra-judicial police killings in the neighborhood of Valencia (an opposition rebel stronghold)
And another interesting note: sitting in the back of the small hotel conference room where only the Global Exchange group of about 20 people were in attendance for this private speaking session, were two "assistants", recognized by one of the Venezuelan tour guides as plainclothes Metropolitan Police.
The Metropolitan Police is governed by Caracas Metro Mayor Alfredo Pena who is a volatile opponent of President Chavez -- he is in direct rebellion against the government strange as this may appear to foreign ears.


My, my. Mr. Pérez appeared so respectable at the talk he gave! And expensively clothed.

When I can verify whether this is the same Oscar Pérez, I'll add an update here, and a new post.

Update 1:45 pm: Boy! Those folks at VHeadline.com are on the ball. They sent me a link to this picture of Pérez, which shows him as an assemblyman. I thought I would recognize him immediately from a picture, but I find that I can't be certain. I believe this is the same person who talked to us, as I think the man was in the National Assembly, but since I didn't make a note in my report that he was, I can't be certain of that, either. I don't want to rely on my memory to accuse a man of something he didn't say. So, next stop: e-mailing the Venezolanos who translated for us in Caracas to see if this is in fact the same Oscar Pérez.



Yes, I know. This is more important to me than it is to you.

Update 08/23/04: I dug out my handwritten notes from the trip to Venezuela in April, and together with the information provided from VHeadline.com, I have determined that the Oscar Pérez of their article and the one we talked to are indeed the same person. I had made a note at the time of his talk (which I left out of my report) that he was a deputy in "parliament" (we had a British translator), and Roy S. Carson, editor at VHeadline.com has told me that there is only one Oscar Pérez in the National Assembly.

Previous posts on Venezuela
More information on Venezuela

Bush heckler is fired from his job

Somehow every once in a while, they sneak past the BushGuard, but they always pay a price.

"I'm mad less about losing the job -- I'm more mad about the reasons," said Glen Hiller, 35, of Berkeley Springs. "All I did was show up and voice my opinion."

Hiller was ushered out of Hedgesville High School on Tuesday after shouting his disagreement with Bush's comments about the war in Iraq and the search for weapons of mass destruction. The crowd had easily drowned out Hiller with its chant: "Four more years."

"He surrounds himself with people who support him," Hiller said of Bush. "Your opinion ... is viewed as right or wrong."

When he showed up for work at Octavo Designs of Frederick, Maryland, the following morning, he said he was told he'd embarrassed and offended a client who provided tickets to the event -- and that he was fired.

...The father of two young girls had worked at the design firm for five months, doesn't plan to appeal the firing, and holds no grudge against his boss.

"To some degree I can see her point of view," Hiller said. "Advertising is all about having the perfect tan and driving a cool car. It's all about image."
CNN article

He doesn't want his job back. He's a registered nurse and will go back to that work. Much better for the soul anyway.

But, kudos to Glen Hiller for speaking out.

And, an update on a couple that was arrested in an even milder situation...

Last month, Charleston City Council apologized to two protesters arrested for wearing anti-Bush T-shirts to the president's July 4 rally. The pair were taken from the event in restraints after revealing T-shirts with Bush's name crossed out on the front and the words "Love America, Hate Bush" on the back. Trespassing charges were ultimately dismissed.

Yeah, I guess. Seeing as how they had tickets to the event.

Presidential Auction 2004

Josh Marshall posts:

IMAGINE IF supporters of Bill Clinton had tried in 1996 to besmirch the military record of his opponent, Bob Dole. After all, Dole was given a Purple Heart for a leg scratch probably caused, according to one biographer, when a hand grenade thrown by one of his own men bounced off a tree. And while the serious injuries Dole sustained later surely came from German fire, did the episode demonstrate heroism on Dole's part or a reckless move that ended up killing his radioman and endangering the sergeant who dragged Dole off the field?

The truth, according to many accounts, is that Dole fought with exceptional bravery and deserves the nation's gratitude. No one in 1996 questioned that record. Any such attack on behalf of Clinton, an admitted Vietnam draft dodger, would have been preposterous.

Yet amazingly, something quite similar is happening today as supporters of President Bush attack the Vietnam record of Senator John Kerry.


"Today" is a whole different world. We have been taken over by evil-doer pod people.

The right wing in this country have turned into snarling, rabid dogs. They are demanding and exacting blood. Mostly of brown-skinned, Islamic people, but they'll take liberals' just as well.

And it looks like the so-called liberals are getting caught up in the frenzy. They'll be eating each other before this mess is over.

I say, I do believe we are getting too close to the Sun.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


P.S. Josh Marshall is right in saying this Kerry ad is an excellent choice to counter the Swift Boat smear. McCain telling Bush to his face that he should be ashamed of the campaign he waged against McCain.

Presidential Auction 2004

The Kerry campaign has been accusing the Bush campaign of being involved in the Swift Boat smear ads, and of course, the Bush campaign has denied it. However, it turns out - surprise, surprise - that one of the participants in the ads was also a Bush campaign advisor.

A Bush campaign statement said it did not know that retired Air Force Col. Ken Cordier had appeared in an ad by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

...As a so-called 527 group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is barred from coordinating efforts with an election campaign.

Kerry's camp calls it a front for the Bush campaign and has urged the Federal Election Commission to cite the group, the Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee for violating federal election laws.
article

Unfortunately, one of the invested [sic] guests, retired Air Force Col. Ken Cordier, a decorated former Vietnam POW and experienced speaker, chose to politicize this solemn event. In an attempt at levity, he defended the pulling of ladies' panties over the faces of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. interrogators at Abu Ghraib as preferable to beheading. His inappropriate, Limbaughistic comments detracted from the reverence and purpose of this event.

Letter to the editor of the Dallas Morning News June 13 - from a Digby post.

Cordier. Those Bushies should have figured he'd be trouble. Damned French.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

In the bad news category

Oh, yeah. That's all you get when you come to this site, isn't it?

Well, when it turns into a bunch of good news, I'll stop blogging and go relax. Until then...

Armed Robbers Steal Munch's 'The Scream' in Oslo

Oh no! Not 'The Scream'!



***********************************************

The latest in a string of attacks on the Jewish community in France:

Jewish-run [soup kitchen] burned in Paris

***********************************************

Okay, I'll relent here for a minute.

In the good news category....

The FDA, in light of information finding its way to the press that the agency covered up data showing a link between anti-depressant prescriptions and suicidal tendencies in children, is talking about issuing warnings to that effect.

FDA Alters Tack On Children and Antidepressants


***********************************************

In an ongoing fiasco of movie and recording companies trying to squeeze every last dime out of the public for their product by going after software companies who create file sharing programs, the courts have decided that software creators can not be held responsible for illegal usages of their product.

US court: Software can't commit piracy

It could still be appealed to the Supreme Court. And there, the right-wing nutjobs might not have such a reasonable view.

***********************************************

And, in the Olympics, a swimmer gives up his place on a team event to another team member to allow the other guy the chance to win a gold medal.

It was as though he knew the literal root of compete is to "seek together.''

Well, there you go.

As Rich would say.

Playing chicken

The battle in the holy city of Najaf is centered on one of the Muslim world's holiest structures, the Imam Ali shrine.

U.S. tanks have rumbled to within 800 meters (yards) of a holy shrine in the Iraqi city of Najaf as fierce clashes with Shi'ite rebels in a nearby town killed at least 40 Iraqis, officials said.

...The uprising, in which hundreds have died, has helped drive world oil prices to record highs and is a brazen challenge to the authority of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who took over from U.S.-led occupiers only two months ago.

Allawi had threatened to storm the mosque, but any bloody takeover could infuriate Iraq's majority Shi'ite population and further destabilise the country ahead of scheduled elections in January. The mosque is the holiest Shi'ite shrine in Iraq.
Reuters article

It's all about who blinks first, isn't it? My Texan friend says he is sick of the world with "tough" guys getting in your face to intimidate you. Staring each other down.

Me, too. Grow up one day, will you? Soon.

Meanwhile, the kidnapping stories have gone from truck drivers to journalists. Last week I read about a British journalist who had been released, and an American journalist who had been captured. Today, there's this from the Reuters article...

In Paris, the French Foreign Ministry said two French journalists, George Malbrunot of Le Figaro and Christian Chesnot of Radio France International, were missing in Iraq and had not been heard from since Thursday.

The Italian government said freelance Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, who had been working in Najaf had been missing since Thursday and his driver had reportedly been killed.


Juan Cole is reporting that yet another pipeline has been blown up in Iraq, and of course, the fighting and killing continue throughout the country.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

You are not exercising your constitutional right

You are showing disrespect for God's own representative, the king.

Bush Promises to Offer Detailed Plans at Convention

...Mr. Bush's advisers said they were girding for the most extensive street demonstrations at any political convention since the Democrats nominated Hubert H. Humphrey in Chicago in 1968. But in contrast to that convention, which was severely undermined by televised displays of street rioting, Republicans said they would seek to turn any disruptions to their advantage, by portraying protests by even independent activists as Democratic-sanctioned displays of disrespect for a sitting president.

I wonder if they're going to say that about the City's firemen.

Democratic-sanctioned! The right to protest policy should be sanctioned by every party. It's guaranteed in the Constitution. (As an aside, there's kind of a little inside joke I have with myself that they always refer to the Democrat party as the Democratic party. Is there a Freudian or subliminal message there?)

And after months in which Mr. Bush stressed issues of concern to conservative supporters - from restrictions on stem cell research to a constitutional amendment to bar gay marriage - the convention will offer its national television audience a decidedly more moderate face for the president and his party. If "strength" was the leitmotif of the Democratic convention in Boston, "compassion" will be the theme in New York, marking the return of a mainstay of Mr. Bush's 2000 campaign, party leaders said.

"Wolf in sheep's clothing" I think is the appropriate phrase. Or maybe it's just more 1984. I think I'll make up a campaign poster: Bush-Cheney '84.

That's pretty slick, though. They've run the entire term on words. Misapplied ones at that. So in the run-up to the election, they sqawk about who's the toughest on terrorism, get the opponent to start sounding like Vlad the Impaler, and then turn the tables at election time so he looks rabid in a world that is in dire need of compassion.

Most of all, Mr. Bush's aides said that after five months in which they have focused almost exclusively on attacking Mr. Kerry, the president will use his speech to offer what they asserted would be expansive plans for a second term, in an effort to underline what they argued was Mr. Kerry's failure to talk about the future at his own convention.

...Ed Gillespie, the national Republican chairman and a senior Bush campaign adviser, argued that Mr. Kerry had missed an opportunity at his convention by spending too much time talking about his biography and Mr. Bush, reflecting Mr. Kerry's effort to use his convention to present himself as strong enough to carry the nation through a time of war.

"They left people feeling hungry for substance," Mr. Gillespie said. "We will not make that mistake in New York. We will come out of there with specific proposals for the future for a new term."

The Demwits play into the GOP hand every time, don't they?


Rebooblicans Zell Miller and Cowardy Custard.

Oh wait, Zell Miller is a Democrat! And he'll be giving the lead-off speech at the Republican National Convention. No, that is not a typo.

I think Zell is not the nimrod people make him out to be. Well, maybe he is, but I also think that more Democrats should take the hint and register themselves as Republicans and then start voting for Democrat policies. It would look good. Then the Democrats could say, "Look! Even Republicans don't like their own policies."

To a large extent, Mr. Bush's aides said, they were orchestrating a convention that would be as much about celebrating the nation and what they portray as its success at weathering the attacks of Sept. 11 as it would be talking about Mr. Bush's tenure.

Campaign-wise, between the two, considering that tenure, I'd make the same choice.

But what about that Mission to Mars? Whatever happened to that grand idea? Maybe he could offer to be on it if we vote for him.

(Thanks to LaBelle for the link.)

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Ask Preznit Cowardy Custard

The press corps appears to have had about enough of those hokey "Ask President Bush" events.

Instead of taking questions from reporters, President Bush has become increasingly partial to playing talk-show host to an audience of sycophantic fans.

... There's never a nasty question, never a heckler, nothing but love. That makes for great imagery and great soundbytes.

But now the press is pulling back the curtain.

Bill Plante did a long report on the CBS Evening News on Friday, showing video of campaign wranglers trying to pump up the hand-picked crowd.

"The art of TV-friendly political stragecraft reaches new levels in this campaign," Plante says. "This tight control means that hecklers . . . are almost never seen at Bush events. . . .

"At events like these, it's all about getting the message without any distraction, and making sure that there's no public argument to spoil the party."

...Another defining aspect of these events is that the audiences are packed with evangelical Christians.

Maura Reynolds writes in the Los Angeles Times: "At town hall-style events from Niceville, Fla., to Albuquerque to Beaverton, Ore., many supporters posed the president with religiously themed questions and comments about faith, prayer and issues such as abortion and stem cell research.

And that appears to lead him to a bit of a double-edge. Read it. You'll love it.

But what I want to know is, are these reporters trying to get fired?

There are others listed in the article. And links to the texts of Bunnypoop's little "events". (Do you think he's trying to copy Hugo Chávez' "Alo Presidente" radio show?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Quelle suprise

At least $8.8 billion in Iraqi funds that was given to Iraqi ministries by the former U.S.-led authority there cannot be accounted for, according to a draft U.S. audit set for release soon.

The audit by the Coalition Provisional Authority's own Inspector General blasts the CPA for "not providing adequate stewardship" of at least $8.8 billion from the Development Fund for Iraq that was given to Iraqi ministries.
CNN article

The CPA spent $18 billion for development. Considering the hoodlums in charge, I'd say the ministries were lucky to see half.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

What's good for the goose...

Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani warned that Iran might launch a preemptive strike against US forces in the region to prevent an attack on its nuclear facilities.
Information Clearinghouse article

You might want to read that article - some interesting points about the possibility.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

America's Warlords - Part II

Democrats decry the increased global disrespect for the United States, but fail to recognize that it is the American government's long-standing militarism and disregard for global common security and the rule of International law that has engendered this disrespect. Rather than be a real alternative and embrace an uncompromising global vision, the Democrats feel compelled to cater to the US citizenry's obsession with militarism by trying to demonstrate how tough Kerry would be as the Commander in Chief.

If the Democrats wish to attain International respect they should make a commitment to move away from long-standing military industrial international practices such as the following:

Well, that's a darned big "if".

How many practices? Check it out. (Prepare yourself for a long list.)

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Pipeline decommissioned

A major attack on the main pipeline connecting the oilfields of Kirkuk with the Turkish port of Jihan has halted limited exports from northern Iraq, a Northern Oil Company official said.

"An improvised explosive device was placed close to a network of pipelines at the level of al-Fatiha, west of Kirkuk, causing a big explosion and huge fires that damaged the main pipeline running to Jihan and stopped exports," said Nasir Qasim, a logistics and security official with the state-owned company.
Aljazeera article

Ooops. That was August 3. Sorry I missed seeing it till now.

Progress in Iraq. As promised.

Bob's on the money

Bob's conclusion about why WTF Bush and company are approving Sharon's fall back into illegal settling the West Bank with Israelis (it's okay for them to build higher - they can settle vertically, just not horizontally):

As far as I can see, the only point of the assault on Najaf is provocation. Bush hasn't gotten his second 9/11 yet. So he'll push the provocation further.

Bingo. P2OG at work. (Somewhere, somehow in the last couple of days, this page on my website has become the most viewed of all my political information. It's kind of interesting to see which pages are "hot", and it usually goes along with what's in the news. This one hasn't been in the news, that I'm aware of, but it should be.)

Why do they hate us?

LaBelle commented this morning about the Iraq soccer members at the Olympics saying they do not hate American people, they hate American foreign policy.

A respected Iraq editor found himself under arrest in Baghdad recently, and makes the same point talking about his experience...

What subjects did they bring up during the interrogation?

"Basically, because the AMS have made efforts in the releasing of several captives in Iraq, they suspected that we have links with the captors, but the truth is that the AMS is highly respected and the only link between us and the them is our appeals in which we remind them of the principles of Islam which prohibits Muslims from harming people."

"They also mentioned the names of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and wanted to know if I knew any of them. The interrogators were keen to find out anything about the Iraqi resistance."

"They think because we are a revered Sunni Muslim organisation, we might have information about the so-called Sunni resistance, but the truth is the resistance is Iraqi not Sunni."

"They asked me, why we hate them? I told them that we do not hate the American people, they are welcomed as tourists, traders…etc., but not as occupiers.
Aljazeera article

Again with the "they hate us" question. As LaBelle pointed out, that is exactly what the Liar in Chief keeps telling people ad nauseum - they hate us.

Wise up, sheeple. It's the same story around the world. People everywhere say they don't hate Americans. They hate American foreign policy. They hate what our government does to the rest of the world. I've heard this in Venezuela, I've read it from other Latin people, and Middle Easterners. But how long before they blame the American people for not holding our government to account, when we are supposed to be a democracy where we can do just that.

What was your conclusion?

"I got the impression that US interrogators and CIA officers have not a clue about what they are doing. Their questions were shallow and indicated serious ignorance of the Iraqi scene."

"I also noticed they are so keen to mock, ridicule, and insult us. Some of them are good people, and are very angry at [President] George Bush, one of them told me if he (Bush) loves Iraq so much, why does he not bring his family and live here?"

"But interestingly, some of them (US soldiers) are just thieves. They stole my agenda and wrist watch in front of my eyes."

Sometimes attitudes don't translate. The "good" guy angry at Bush was still insulting the Iraqis. He was mad because Bush was wasting American money on Iraq.

Anyway, would that Americans were so inclined to make the distinction between people of other countries and their governments. But no, we hate other people, whenever our government tells us they're evil. Regardless of what their government might or might not be doing and whether they have any vote or voice to determine who runs their country, we hate entire countries full of people - Ragheads, Commies, Spics, Japs, Gooks.

There really is little reason left for these other people not to hate us. Maybe they're better educated? Wiser? Or maybe just more Christian?

Venezuela vote audit confirms Chávez victory

So says the flashing "breaking news" banner at Aljazeera. (Something new? I've never seen the banner before.)

At any rate, the opposition, which insisted on having an audit, says they won't accept its results anyway.

What next?

Previous posts on Venezuela
More information on Venezuela

Presidential Auction 2004

Looks like Kerry is taking a little stronger stance on the Swiftboat fools.

The White House has consistently denied any link between Bush's campaign and the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The administration has said it respected Kerry's wartime service, but refused categorically to repudiate the charges against him.

The Kerry campaign said it had "filed a legal complaint against Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) before the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for violating the law with inaccurate ads that are illegally coordinated with the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign".

...The New York Times on Friday reported that there was a "web of connections" between the Swift Boat group and the "Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and President Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove".

...The White House denied again on Friday that it had any connection to the Swift Boat group and accused Kerry of "losing his cool."
Aljazeera article

Well, the ugliness in this campaign is well underway. I can't imagine where it might end.

And of course, it's really pushing the real issues out of the picture. Which is a bonus for the candidates, I suppose.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Senator Ted on the no-fly list

Kennedy, relating the story to his colleagues and members of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission this past week, asked, "How in the world are average Americans going to be treated if they get on that list?"
Cincinnati Post article

Well, Mr. Democrat protector of citizen's rights, I think you damned well know - there's been plenty of stories. Or maybe you just don't care to look at these things until they affect you personally. Kind of like how you didn't seem to know that all the Bushit fed to you about Iraq's WMDs was faked or exaggerated until after you voted to invade Iraq, when the whole of bloggerdom knew all along.

The New York Times...reported on Abdullah al Kidd, an American citizen who played basketball at the University of Idaho and was a doctoral student in Islamic studies. He was handcuffed and arrested in March 2003 at Dulles International Airport near Washington on suspicion of knowing a suspected terrorist. He said he sat naked in isolation for hours, imprisoned and eventually forced to live in a small apartment with his in-laws instead of returning to school. The legal justification for holding him was the federal material-witness law. A few weeks ago, having never been charged with a crime or called as a witness in any case, he was released.

Meanwhile, he's lost his scholarship and his wife and his daughter and his reputation.

This should make the blood of every American boil. It is as frightening as the arrest of any innocent citizen in any of the world's worst dictatorships. But it happened a few miles from the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Pentagon and the Justice Department, which condoned it. About 60 other Americans have been held under the material-witness law since 9/11.

But it won't make their blood boil. American citizen or not, Abdullah wasn't a real American. Not with a name like that. And what would a real American be doing in Islamic studies? You can't be too careful. Not when hordes of Muslims are out there trying to kill us just for being Christians and Americans. Nope. Not a lot of red-blooded Americans will be doing any boiling.

On suspicion of knowing a terrorist. Naked in isolation. Under government control for over a year.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Presidential Auction 2004

We are between a rock and a hard place. If you've read YWA for a while, you know how I feel about John Kerry as president. Not good. At all. In an earlier post, I listed the reason to vote Democrat in the 2004 election: the packing of the Supreme Court with ultra-right-wing idealogues if the GOP wins.

On the other hand, the entire world suffers if the Democrats win. Yes, I understand it is suffering now, but my assertion has always been that with Bush's maniacs at the helm, things that were carried on under cover and with the appearance of humanity have been forced out into the open where people can see them and deal with them. If the Democrats get control over the White House again, they'll just patch the gaping wound the Bushwhackos have opened, hiding the festering toxins from view again. I'm not at all certain that is an improvement.

This paragraph from the John Pilger article I linked in the previous post puts it another way:

The multilateralism or "muscular internationalism" that Kerry offers in contrast to Bush's unilateralism is seen as hopeful by the terminally naive; in truth, it beckons even greater dangers. Having given the American elite its greatest disaster since Vietnam, writes the historian Gabriel Kolko, Bush "is much more likely to continue the destruction of the alliance system that is so crucial to American power. One does not have to believe the worse the better, but we have to consider candidly the foreign policy consequences of a renewal of Bush's mandate . . . As dangerous as it is, Bush's re-election may be a lesser evil." With Nato back in train under President Kerry, and the French and Germans compliant, American ambitions will proceed without the Napoleonic hindrances of the Bush gang.


Want some more of John Pilger's work? Check here.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.