Saturday, April 17, 2004

Statement Regarding Abdel Aziz Rantisi


The White House statement on the latest Israeli assassination is just like the peace plan for Israel: poorly conceived, negligently drafted, and an unmitigated disaster. Well, basically like all Bush administration policy ideas.


April 17, 2004


STEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY

As we have repeatedly made clear, Israel has the right to defend itself from terrorist attacks. Hamas is a terrorist organization that attacks civilians, and that claimed responsibility for the suicide attack today that killed one and injured other Israeli guards at the Erez crossing....
And here is my next prescient prediction....

I mentioned earlier that George Bush is running out of money, or at least, his campaign is not as flush with money relative to that of Kerry as was earlier thought would be the case at this point in the election.

Up till now, a lot of corporate and business interests have supported Bush
because they love his policies and want to do everything they can to help him win. But others with less ideological zeal for Bush have probably supported him because they figured he would win no matter what, and they wanted to have the influence that would go along with supporting his campaign.

But the picture now has considerably changed: few would have predicted last summer that Kerry (or any nominee) would be neck and neck with Bush at this point in the campaign, and financially competive adwise. And no one predicted that Bush, who planned to run a campaign based on "steady leadership" would have his leadership credentials questioned and placed in doubt to such an extent.

So the question is, when are things going to tip? The accepted political calculus of this election has already shifted from an inevitable Bush victory to somewhere between a tossup and Bush in serious trouble (those two categories could very well mean the same thing). Corporate political donors might be somewhat behind the curve on this, but it seems it's only a matter of time before they catch on as well, and when they do, they're likely to start hedging their bets between Bush and Kerry.

Just as some who now disagree with Bush have contributed to his re-election effort because they thought victory would be inevitable, the exact opposite may occur, with reactionary corporate interests supporting Kerry in the hopes that they will not be totally spurned when he takes office.

But it seems that the hedging of bets might be just the first step in the cycle.
Think about it: Bush having considerable trouble now, and that is with a bevy of corporate support. If the plug gets pulled on a great deal of that support, (barring outside events which turn the tide of public opinion in his favor) he will be truly finished and he will probably lose the remainder of the corporate support. So empirically speaking, the President is almost toast.
Sometimes I get things right on this blog....

Eleven days ago, I wrote a post (all blogs here have been reposted from the old server, but to see the original posting with date on the old site, go here) critical of an article written by Joel Klein for Time. You can see the post below in its entirely, but briefly the premise of the article was that both parties were preaching to the masses in this election, and thus missing a key opportunity to connect with non-partisan voters. I had several objections to the premises of Klein's argument, among them Klein's suggestion that



"[A] radical move to the middle, a campaign that looks and sounds different from the usual partisan claptrap—one that features more ideas like Kerry's proposed reduction in the corporate tax in return for corporate-loophole closing—may be John Kerry's only chance to transcend the swamp gas that is threatening to engulf this long, long political year."



My response to that was


A radical move to the middle... also known an unprincipled flip-flop. Can you hear it now "John Kerry doesn't even know what he stands for." Does anyone remember the last time our party ran a mushy, centrist campaign for the presidency (hint: it was about four years ago)? George Bush's administration is absolutely deplorable, and John Kerry has every right to call it what it is, and suggest exactly what is needed: a dramatically different course for America.


Around the same time that I wrote that entry, something interesting happened.



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry promised Wednesday he would cut the federal budget deficit before it becomes a "fiscal cancer" that undermines the U.S. economy.
...
Kerry said he probably will have to scale back his own spending proposals on higher education, a national service program and early childhood education "because of George Bush's irresponsibility." But he said he would not reduce his proposals to spend money on health care, education and job-creation efforts.



Now, first of all, getting this country back in fiscal order after the current administration's fiscal malfeasance is a sensible policy, and doing so will require shared sacrifice, something a term which is foreign to the Bush team. However, that said, Kerry's move to reduce the deficit by scaling back some campaign promises could also fall into the rubric of "a radical move to the middle."

And what did the Republicans have to say about this shift?



Republicans are using John Kerry's recent speech on the economy to push their own campaign theme, that the Democratic presidential challenger is a chronic flip-flopper...

Which just goes to show, I got it right.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Has the Bush administration finally realized that its plans for Iraq are a complete disaster?


U.S. Open to a Proposal That Supplants Council in Iraq

WASHINGTON, April 15 — The Bush administration accepted on Thursday the outlines of a United Nations proposal to dissolve the Iraqi Governing Council installed last year by the United States and replace it with a caretaker government when Iraqi sovereignty is restored on July 1.

Administration officials said that the proposal by Lakhdar Brahimi, the special United Nations envoy in Iraq, to create a new government of prominent Iraqis had many details to be worked out, but that for now it was acceptable to President Bush.

"I don't see anything at this point in what he's proposing that would be of concern to us," said Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, in an interview, adding that Mr. Brahimi's mission "thus far has been very successful."

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also supported the plan, while Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, without explicitly approving it said it was likely to become a reality.

The Brahimi plan would replace the American-appointed Iraqi Governing Council with a transition government whose leaders would be appointed by the United Nations, after consultations with the United States, the governing council and other Iraqis. It could include members of the current governing council, but it is unclear how it would balance religious and regional rivalries within Iraq. By endorsing the Brahimi plan, the administration seemed to accept diminished American influence over the Iraqi political process as self-rule approaches and after power has passed back to Baghdad. The move was the latest abandonment of an element of the plan the Americans arrived at on Nov. 15, specifying the June 30 transfer.



While this is late in coming, it actual seems to represent some hope for the Iraqi people.

Up until now, the U.S. had been grooming Ahmed Chalabi for power in Iraq.



A seasoned lobbyist in London and Washington who studied mathematics at the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr Chalabi has been described as controversial, charismatic, determined, crafty and cunning.

Today, he has the backing of some top officials in the Bush administration.

His supporters include Vice-President Dick Cheney and senior figures in the Pentagon....

Mr. Chalabi seems like the kind of guy that Mr. Bush could get along with. Although he never worked at Enron...


For more than a decade, Mr Chalabi has been dogged by the collapse of a private bank he established in Jordan in the late 1980s, with the help of King Hussein's brother, Crown Prince Hassan.

Petra Bank, which became a leading private bank in the country, collapsed in 1990 amid allegations of financial impropriety by Mr Chalabi. Two years later, he was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced in absentia by a Jordanian court to 22 years in prison with hard labour. By this time, he had moved to Britain, where he had been granted citizenship...



There are many problems with the very concept of invading a country and imposing a government on that country. That said, however, there are probably a considerable number of Iraqis who would like to have a truly democratic government for their country. The United States missed a big opportunity to gain their support when Bush decided to groom people like Mr. Chalabi to take the reins of power in the new Iraq. It's difficult to convince people you are trying to bestow democracy upon them when you want to put a convicted embezzler in charge of their country. Perhaps it's too late to fix the big mess the United States has created in Iraq, but at least there is now some hope.





We just changed hosts. Welcome to the new site.

Most of the old posts have been reposted here, but the dates are off.





Our good friend is coming to visit today.



Mr Blair
and the Democratic presidential contender, John Kerry, will be "too busy" to meet during the prime minister's trip. While Mr Blair is New York today, Mr Kerry will be in the city meeting Hillary Clinton. Party sources said this reflected unprecedented coolness in Labour-Democrat relations.



Could that be cause he's really a Tory? Could you at least stop by the 9/11 commission for a bit?.
This comment comes from a "Voice of Reason"


You hate black republicans? There is partisan politics and there is the scary radical type of content you would distribute. Clinton sold Nuclear missile targeting packages to China - now China can pinpoint our cities. Gore financed Clinton's second term with trips to Budest monastaries in the most illicit campaign scheme in history - followed by renting of the white house to the chinese lobby. Bin Laden was offered to President Clinton on a silver platter yet he did not take up the Sudanese government on the offer - he lobbed several missiles into Afghanistan at abandoned Al Queda camps in retaliation for the U.S.S Cole - - - his foreign policy was one of apeasement - he fled from Africa when our troops were being dragged through the streets - he did not allow reinforcements to go in. Reaganomics are the source of your Clinton bubble - mind you - The US economy was in a recession which began in september of 2000 - explain that. Your movement you are so proud of is really just media buzz over the fact its an election year. Really - you have had control over the networks and CNN and MSNBC for years - only right wing FOX is against you - and they are as transparent as this website. That is what I have to say about it. Lets have some honest debate - not hateful partisan bigotry - - VOTE BUSH!!!! 2004!!!!!!!



There is too much misinformation here to respond to all at once, so I want to leave it open to you folks. There is however, one comment I would like to make:


Your madman racist rantings are a disgrace to what you purport to stand for. You hate black republicans? There is partisan politics and there is the scary radical type of content you would distribute.


I made this point before and I want to make it again. Just as Rush Limbaugh says Condoleeza Rice is hated by Democrats because she is a "black Republican woman," the disregard I harbor for her has the same basis. My dislike for Condoleeza Rice, and that of other Democrats, has nothing to do with her dishonesty before the 9/11 Commission or her incompetence as a National Security Advisor.




One of the main objections to the US-led invasion of Iraq is that it is morally unacceptable to invade a country and impose a foreign form of government upon it (as the US is trying to do in Iraq). Many have likened the US actions to a crusade.

That allegation is most often made in the Muslim world, but some people welcome the term...



Over the past year, Campus Crusade for Christ has been actively reaching out in Iraq. Just days after the war ended, our personnel arranged for Bibles and other evangelistic literature to be printed inside Iraq—a development that would have been unthinkable under the reign of Saddam Hussein.


So let me get this straight.: first we invade the Iraqis, then we attempt to convert them to our religion? Not only does this seem extremely arrogant, but it is almost certainly likely to increase hostilities in Iraq and the perception in the Arabic/Muslim world that the US is actually engaged in a crusade in every sense of the term. Hell, these people are evening calling it a crusade...but that's here's the kicker:


However, the reason I'm writing today is that these doors may close very soon. The coalition plans to hand over control of the government of Iraq by July 1st of this year. After that point, we do not know if the printing and distribution of Bibles and other literature can continue—meaning that now is a critical time to get as many Bibles into Iraq as possible....

Please prayerfully consider this opportunity to reach out in Iraq and other spiritually closed nations while the doors are still open. As I said, quick action is vital as the coalition plans to turn over control of the Iraqi government by July 1st and this printing and distribution may no longer be possible in Iraq after that point.



Translation: we need to convert these infidels to our religion while our government still has complete control over them. There's more:



In addition, now is the time to reach out to other closed nations close to Iraq. I wish I could mention the names of these countries (I cannot for security reasons)...



Can you say crusade?

Apparently, there are several organizations currently involved in this scheme:

This one has the domain name Crusade.org!

Horizon International

"The majority of Iraqi people are very open to reading the Bible and hearing about Jesus Christ ..." Worldhelp



I never thought this would happen, but it looks like the Bush campaign is running short on funds (relatively speaking).


Bush Campaign's Big TV Ad Push Trimmed
This move was planned, Republicans say. But Democrats and independent analysts believe the spots didn't hurt Kerry as intended.


By Ronald Brownstein, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Despite its unprecedented fund-raising success, President Bush's reelection team is scaling back its massive level of television advertising, according to senior Republicans familiar with the campaign's planning.

In the next few weeks, viewers in the 18 states where the ads have aired since early March will see about 30% fewer a week, one ranking GOP strategist said.



Republicans were planning, the article suggests, on knocking out Kerry early in the election cycle by spending a lot of cash.


...The reelection team spent so much so soon "with the intent of putting this thing away early, and it didn't happen," said Erik Smith, executive director of The Media Fund, a group formed by leading Democrats that is running ads in support of Kerry.

Independent analysts agreed with that assessment.

Anthony Corrado, an expert on campaign finance at Colby College in Maine, said that since March 4 — just after Kerry effectively wrapped up his party's nomination — Bush has bought about as much television advertising as past presidential candidates purchased for the entire general election campaign. "And frankly," Corrado said, "they didn't move the [poll] numbers that much."

He added: "The Bush campaign came out heavy, both in terms of volume and with some of their strongest attacks, and they didn't get a knock-out."

Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group, said Bush "probably scored some points" with his ads. But he added that their impact was blunted by the escalation of violence in Iraq and questions that have surfaced about the administration's anti-terrorism efforts before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.



Perhaps the best part is this:



...The Bush campaign has raised at least $180 million that it can spend before the president is officially renominated at the GOP convention in early September. That is the most any presidential candidate has collected, and some predict the total could reach $200 million.

But at the rate the Bush campaign is spending on hiring a staff and building its grassroots organization, Corrado projects that it would allocate about $90 million through the convention to basic operations. That would leave at least an equal amount for advertising, and somewhat more as the campaign continues to raise money.

Those figures suggest that the Bush campaign may have spent around 40% of the total available to it for advertising before the convention.



The Bush campaign has always struck me as a little top-heavy. Although Howard Dean got a reputation for being a spendthrift when it became known that he spent 30 million dollars in 2003 before the primaries began, George W. Bush spent $33.6 million during the same period of time although he was running unopposed in the primaries. A cost of $90 million for basic operations seems rather high, but even better, they've already spent forty percent of their pre-convention advertising money. Think about what this means:

Bush started his advertising campaign in the second week of March, approximately.

Between the second week of March, and the Republican National Convention, in September, there are approximately 24 weeks.

Between the second week of March and now, there have been five weeks.

What this means is that while in the last six weeks, Bush has been spending on average 6.67 percent of his campaign fund a week on advertising, he will have to cut back in the remaining 18 weeks before the convention to 3.33 percent, half of what he has been spending.

Hopefully, this is an indication that the people running his campaign possess the same fiscal management skills as those that run the Bush Treasury Department. If so, Kerry has little to worry about.


FORT HOOD, Texas (CNN) -- President Bush said Sunday that an intelligence memo he read shortly before September 11, 2001, contained no "actionable intelligence" that would have helped him to try to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

"The (August 6, 2001, memo) was no indication of a terrorist threat," Bush said during an Easter Sunday visit to Fort Hood to decorate wounded soldiers.

"There was not a time and place of an attack. It said Osama bin Laden had designs on America. Well, I knew that. What I wanted to know was, is there anything specifically going to take place in America that we needed to react to."
...
The briefing was headlined, "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US."




So for Bush to take action against Bin Laden, he needed a time and place of attack? Using this logic, unless the intelligence memo he received said Bin Laden determined to strike the WTC on September 11, 2001 at 8:45 a.m, he wouldn't have taken action? Even if it did, would he still not have taken action because he didn't know if 8:45 a.m. was Eastern Standard Time or the Central Time used in Texas?


And at what time and place did Bush's intelligence indicate that Saddam Hussein would strike the United States with WMDs?

Ok, ok, I know, the Bushies say that everything changed after September 11th, and that after that date, it became clear that a pre-emptive foreign policy was needed.

Change they did! We went from the early Bush approach, needing a time and date of a future attack before you are willing to take any action at all, to the late Bush approach, launching attacks against countries when you have no evidence that they are planning to attack you at any time or date.
The Nation's Alfred E. Newman George W. Bush, which replaced "what me worry" with "worry" as his slogan was hillarious. But there is nothing hillarious about the Bush administration's approach to terrorism in the days leading up to 9/11: they didn't worry at all .



Bush Gave No Sign of Worry In August 2001

By Dana Milbank and Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, April 11, 2004; Page A01


CRAWFORD, Tex., April 10 -- President Bush was in an expansive mood on Aug. 7, 2001, when he ran into reporters while playing golf at the Ridgewood Country Club in Waco, Tex.


The day before, the president had received an intelligence briefing -- the contents of which were declassified by the White House Saturday night -- warning "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US." But Bush seemed carefree as he spoke about the books he was reading, the work he was doing on his nearby ranch, his love of hot-weather jogging, his golf game and his 55th birthday.

"No mulligans, except on the first tee," he said to laughter. "That's just to loosen up. You see, most people get to hit practice balls, but as you know, I'm walking out here, I'm fixing to go hit. Tight back, older guy -- I hit the speed limit on July 6th."

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, in her testimony Thursday to the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, spoke of a government on high alert for terrorism in the summer of 2001. "The president of the United States had us at battle stations during this period of time," she testified. Rice's talk of battle stations is part of the Bush administration's effort to counter an impression that it did not do enough about terrorism before Sept. 11; a Newsweek poll released Saturday found that 60 percent think the Bush administration underestimated terrorism before the attacks.

But if top officials were at battle stations, there was no sign of it on the surface. Bush spent most of August 2001 on his ranch here. His staff said at the time that by far the biggest issue on his agenda was his decision on federal funding of stem cell research, followed by education, immigration and the Social Security "lockbox."

Of course, many of the efforts to thwart an attack would not have been visible on the outside. But some officials on the inside -- notably former White House counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke -- say the administration was not acting with sufficient urgency to the spike in intelligence indicating a threat. And there is nothing in Bush's public actions or words from August 2001 to refute Clarke.

During that month, Bush's top aides were concentrating on the president's political standing: His approval rating had slipped, his relations with Congress were tense, and Democrats had regained control of the Senate. The only time Bush mentioned terrorism publicly that month was in the context of violence in Israel.

In public, Bush often engaged in playful banter. Reporters teased him about his golf game and whether he would take an afternoon nap. Bush teased them about their suffering in the Texas heat. "I know a lot of you wish you were in the East Coast, lounging on the beaches, sucking in the salt air, but when you're from Texas -- and love Texas -- this is where you come home," he said.

...In an Aug. 29 speech to the American Legion titled by the White House "President Discusses Defense Priorities," Bush spoke about higher pay for soldiers, an increase in military spending, military research and development, and the need to defend against missile attacks. "We are committed to defending America and our allies against ballistic missile attacks, against weapons of mass destruction held by rogue leaders in rogue nations that hate America, hate our values and hate what we stand for," he said.

Bush vowed to the veterans, 13 days before the attacks: "I will not permit any course that leaves America undefended..."



Maybe I'm being too hard on Bush. After all, it must be difficult to worry when you're in the midst of the longest presidential vacation in 32 years, right (thanks to Matt Bivens, of the Nation for bringing this to my attention)?



After the release of the August 6th PDB, I think its fair to say that Condoleeza Rice will not serve in a second-term Bush team.

However, she may serve a
five-year term (or multiple five-year terms), in a place more like this

along with some of her colleagues from the current administration.

Yes, Rush, I am suggesting Condoleeza Rice should go to prison for perjury not because she has perjured herself, but because I am angry that she is a black Republican woman. There are few things that Democrats hate more than black Republican women, accept of course, affluent white males, which is why we hate you.




Let's see, "Bin Laden determined to strike US, "

"patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent wtih preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York,"

And:

Sec. 1621. - Perjury generally

Whoever -

(1)

having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or

(2)

in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true;

is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly
provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not
more than five years, or both. This section is applicable
whether the statement or subscription is made within or without
the United States.


or in plainer terms

A statement must meet five criteria before it can be considered
perjury under Federal law:

1) The statement must be made under oath.
2) The statement must be material to the case at hand.
3) The statement must be known by its maker to be false.
4) The statement must be demonstrably false.
5) The statement must have been made with an intent to mislead.


I'm no lawyer (just a second-year law student), but it appears we have the prima-facie elements for a perjury case against Ms. Rice.

Maybe we can get you a cell with Rush, Condi.



In today´s Guardian Roy Greenslade writes a fascinating piece on how wrong the media were about the Iraq war, called "It´s time to judge the pundits."


A year ago today, with the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, the pro-war commentators couldn't stop crowing about the ease with which the coalition forces had won a swift and righteous victory. In the immediate aftermath, their triumphalist verdict was: the war had been won; the dictator was overthrown; resistance was crumbling; Iraq was assured of a benevolent, democratic future.
As that peerless prophet William Rees-Mogg told his Times readers: "April 9 2003 was Liberty Day for Iraq, the day on which one of the foulest of the 20th-century tyrannies was finally destroyed." It was achieved, he wrote, by "the engine of global liberation", the United States.

The Times's leader writer also hymned the victory: "Jubilant crowds emerged on the streets. Elated Iraqis threw flowers to greet American troops ... After 24 years of oppression, three wars and three weeks of relentless bombing, Baghdad has emerged from an age of darkness. Yesterday was an historic day of liberation."

One of the Times's senior executives, Michael Gove, wrote of the effects that would follow "a massive infusion of western humanitarian aid", proclaiming: "Hopes are high that it will soon become the most democratic state in the Arab world." This transformation would be aided by the fact that British "troops are recognised as the world's most effective in winning battles as well as hearts and minds".

Rupert Murdoch's other cheerleader for war, the Sun, told its readers: "The spontaneous outpouring of joy in towns and cities across Iraq was the message to the world that America and Britain are liberating allies, not oppressing invaders." It spoke of the war as "a political triumph ... for Tony Blair and George Bush", because "virtually alone on the world stage, and blocked at all sides by the treachery of the French, Russians and Germans, they had the fortitude to do what they knew was right".

On April 13, Murdoch's Sunday Times saw it as "an easy military victory" and argued that the "remaining support for the regime has crumbled". Everything was just fine: "The Ark Royal is preparing to sail back to Britain. Yesterday's stop-the-war protest in London must rank as one of the silliest rallies in modern times."



Interestingly, as off-base as these pundits assessments may seem, his critique was one of the UK media, which by and large was more critical of the war than was ours. A look at our media is even more unbelievable.

"Television, newspapers wrong on war in Iraq;
Saw lengthy battle; doubted U.S. plan"

Washington Times
April 13, 2003




Iraqis danced in the streets, kissed the cheeks of coalition soldiers, threw flowers in the path of tanks and cheered as U.S. Marines helped bring down a statue of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.

It was a scenario wholly contrary to a future many of those very same media outlets predicted just days before.

The Washington Post published a front-page story on April 4 with the unsourced assertion that "the U.S. invasion force, built around one tank-heavy Army division and one lighter Marine division, is not large or powerful enough to take Baghdad by force, especially with tens of thousands of heavily armed fighters believed loyal to Hussein still inside the sprawling city."

A front-page story in The Washington Post on April 1, titled "Rumsfeld's Design for War Criticized on the Battlefield," stated that "raw nerves were obvious" as officers compared the war planning of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld with that of maligned Vietnam War-era Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara.

The story's sole quoted source of active battlefield complainers was an anonymous colonel who said Mr. Rumsfeld "wanted to fight this war on the cheap" and "he got what he wanted."A story the next day told of unidentified "senior U.S. military commanders in Iraq as well as retired officers at home" who "have questioned some of the Pentagon's assumptions behind the war plans."

...Television anchors also beat the drums of doom prior to the liberation of Baghdad.

Ted Koppel, reporting from the front lines for ABC's "Nightline" on March 25, told viewers to "forget the easy victories of the last 20 years. This war is more like the ones we knew before."

A graphic beneath a report by CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Feb. 25 asked: "If War Happens, Another Quagmire?"

On "Good Morning America" on March 26, ABC's Diane Sawyer wondered: "What happened to the flowers expected to be tossed the way of the Americans? Was it a terrible miscalculation?"

CBS' Leslie Stahl told Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on the March 26 edition of "48 Hours" that the supply lines to quickly advancing U.S. forces were overstretched, its "rear was exposed" and these problems were endangering the needed humanitarian aid in southern Iraq.

"It's nonsense," replied Mr. Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the first Bush administration. "It's the usual chatter. Every general who ever worked for me is now on some network commenting on the daily battle and, frankly, battles come and wars come and they have ups and downs, they have a rhythm to it."

John McWethy, a correspondent for ABC's "World News Tonight," told viewers on April 4 that his "intelligence sources are saying that some of Saddam Hussein's toughest security forces are now apparently digging in, apparently willing to defend their city block by block."

"This could be, Peter, a long war," Mr. McWethy told "World News Tonight" anchor Peter Jennings.

"As many people had anticipated," replied Mr. Jennings.

On the Jan. 24 edition of CBS' "60 Minutes II," Dan Rather warned that "to win this time" the Iraqis say that coalition troops "will have to wage a perilous battle in the streets of Baghdad." And if it comes to that "the civilians we spoke with said they will fight, too," he said. Mr. Rather also warned that Baghdad's narrow streets and dark alleys are "a perfect place for Saddam to ambush the invaders."

...Pushing different agendas

Newsweek magazine's "Conventional Wisdom" column in the April 7 edition [which hit newsstands on March 31] gave out three "down arrows" - one each to Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld.

Mr. Cheney's "down arrow" was for stating on NBC's "Meet The Press" that U.S. troops would be greeted in Iraq as liberators. Newsweek called it an "arrogant blunder for the ages."



New York Times
Editorial, February 15, 2003
As much as the feuding members of the United Nations Security Council might like Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei to settle the question of war or peace with Iraq, these two mild-mannered civil servants can't make that fateful judgment. All they can do, which they did again yesterday, is to tell the Council how their inspection efforts are faring. So-so was the answer. It's up to the Council members "especially the veto-wielding quintet of the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China” to decide whether Iraq is disarming.

In our judgment, Iraq is not. The only way short of war to get Saddam Hussein to reverse course at this late hour is to make clear that the Security Council is united in its determination to disarm him and is now ready to call in the cavalry to get the job done. America and Britain are prepared to take that step. The time has come for the others to quit pretending that inspections alone are the solution....

Mr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei cannot be left to play games of hide-and-seek. This is not like Washington's unproved assertions about an alliance between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. There is ample evidence that Iraq has produced highly toxic VX nerve gas and anthrax and has the capacity to produce a lot more. It has concealed these materials, lied about them, and more recently failed to account for them to the current inspectors. The Security Council doesn't need to sit through more months of inconclusive reports. It needs full and immediate Iraqi disarmament. It needs to say so, backed by the threat of military force


Calgary Sun (Canada)
April 13, 2003
Ted Blyfield



It's surely a good idea from time to time to look at recent events and ask yourself: "What if?"

For instance, what if the Americans had listened to the left, heeded all the protesters, all the enlightened university professors, all the people who told them how awful it would be if they were actually to go to war with Iraq?

In other words, what if they had a Jean Chretien for president instead of a George W. Bush?

Where would we all be now?

We would be taking "further diplomatic initiatives," of course.

Saddam Hussein would be paying lip service to them while building his arsenal of chemical weapons preparatory for an attack on Israel and gradually assuming the leadership of the militant world-wide Islamic terrorist movement.

And every time the Americans failed to move against him, as they had ever since the Gulf War, he would have gained that much more technological strength, that much more credibility with whole Muslim world, so that in the end the West would have had to fight him anyway, and probably a great many other countries besides.

But none of this has happened and for one elementary reason.

The Americans did not listen to the left. They knew the left didn't have the faintest clue what was going on.

President Bush, the "moron," remember? -- turned out to be absolutely right, and they turned out to be absolutely wrong. The real "moron" apparently lives in Ottawa, not Washington.

They were wrong about the tens of thousand of civilian casualties they predicted. They were wrong about the street-by-street, house-by-house battle that would demolish the city of Baghdad and send thousands of Americans home in body bags. They were wrong about Syria and Iran coming to the aid of Iraq. They were wrong, so it appears, in every particular.


Washington Times
"Inside Politics" March 21, 2003


...Eugene Dean

Politicians of every persuasion should just chill for a while, a Manchester [N.H.] Union Leader editorial observed yesterday, referring particularly to Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean of Vermont, who recently called the war in Iraq the "wrong war at the wrong time."

The editorial stated, "One can only imagine how soldiers, marines and airmen being shot at must feel to hear Mr. Dean ... who seems to be styling himself as the McCarthy-McGovern candidate of the day."

Yet Mr. Dean had no answer when asked if troops should withdraw, which the paper called "typical." It advises him and other Democratic players to suspend presidential campaigns for now or to at least declare the war off limits.

"There are plenty of other issues on which they can legitimately joust with President Bush and the Republicans. But those who, in the first days of battle, use their national soap box to declare it the 'wrong war at the wrong time' are giving aid and comfort and false encouragement to an enemy who is counting on just that sort of thing."



National Review
"A Just war, Jimmy"
Andrew Levin
March 11, 2003

Jimmy Carter wrote yet another opinion piece on Sunday, this time in the New York Times, criticizing President Bush's foreign policy. His unsolicited advice - presented in an increasingly arrogant tone - addressed what he called the elements of a "just war."

I needn't summarize Carter's piece here, as it's impossible to cover adequately all of its defects, or his, in one sitting. (For a good deconstructing, see Ramesh Ponnuru.) However, it's remarkable that a man who, as president, tolerated Pol Pot and one million Cambodian deaths, ushered in the Ayatollah Khomeini and decades of international terrorism, ignored Daniel Ortega and the spread of Communism in our hemisphere, and took no effective steps to confront the Soviets as they invaded Afghanistan and caused millions of casualties, is treated as some kind of human-rights advocate. I doubt those who suffered horribly under these regimes see him that way.

And it should shock no one that the New York Times, which is opposed to war with Iraq, is impressed with Carter's views. After all, it was only 60 or so years ago that it was slow to report on the Holocaust, for which it has since apologized. There are six million Jews who never lived long enough to hear those words.

War against Iraq is not only just, but long overdue. There are a combination of factors that make it so:

Genocide: Since coming to power in 1979, Saddam Hussein has killed 200,000 of his own people, mostly Kurds and Shiites. He has launched unprovoked wars against his neighbors, resulting in the death of over one million Muslims.

Other Atrocities: Hussein uses sadistic and barbaric forms of torture to maintain control over 23 million Iraqis, including chemical and biological experiments, disfiguration, and rape. He has used poisons, such as mustard gas, against entire towns and refugee camps, killing and maiming untold thousands.

International Law: Hussein stands in violation of 17 U.N. resolutions, including the ceasefire and surrender terms to which he agreed, by refusing to disarm and destroy his vast array of weapons of mass destruction. He has failed to account for thousands of prisoners of war, including hundreds of Kuwaitis and one American. Hussein caused irreparable environmental damage when his retreating military ignited Kuwaiti oil fields.

U.S. National Security: Hussein's continuing pursuit of nuclear weapons and his hidden stores of tons of chemical and biological weapons are not intended for defensive purposes. None of the countries surrounding Iraq, including Israel and Iran, pose a threat to Iraq. It is Iraq that poses a threat to its neighbors, as Hussein's words and record make clear.

Evidence of al Qaeda and Iraqi connections continues to grow. No less an authority than the left's beloved New York Times reported recently that al Qaeda terrorists are operating in Iraq, and not only in the northern no-fly zone. Iraq is also collaborating with other terrorist organizations. For example, it funds homicide bombers, many of whom are associated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

In any event, Hussein and al Qaeda, as well as other terrorist groups, have every reason to cooperate with each other. They're motivated by a common purpose, i.e., to inflict massive casualties on Americans. It's illogical to argue that they would abstain from such alliances. Therefore, the risk of Hussein arming terrorists with deadly weapons for use against the United States is real and serious...



In contrast to all the crap the Bush people are giving the 09/11 commission:




Bill Clinton, 09/11



A formal statement
issued by the commission Thursday said the panel "found [...F]ormer [P]resident [Clinton] forthcoming and responsive to its questions. We appreciate the excellent cooperation he and his associates have given to us."


With characteristic enthusiasm, Clinton stayed an hour longer than planned and sometimes answered questions that had not been asked, commissioners reported. He even took time off from finishing his memoirs to study and prepare for his testimony, reviewing relevant documents and discussing the issues with former aides, one longtime associate said.
--Yahoo News


An hour longer than necessary? Didn't Bush originally want his meeting to be limited to an hour?

More interesting stuff:


The 9/11 commission met in private with former Vice President Al Gore. In a statement after the three-hour session, the commission said he was "candid and forthcoming," and it thanked him for his "continued cooperation."


Bill Clinton and Al Gore have always conducted themselves with integrity regarding 09/11, because they are men of integrity. Remember when George W. Bush was at a bunker in Nebraska, and Clinton flew from Australia and still beat him back to New York?
The Guardian has this

The last message Mike Bloss sent from Iraq was earnest but optimistic. The ex-paratrooper and the electrical engineers he was guarding were surrounded by gunmen. Escape seemed improbable. And yet the Welsh security guard sounded confident that he could shoot a way out.
"We are expecting to be overrun tonight," he emailed friends in Colorado. "We may have to fight our way to a safe haven. Unfortunately all the safe havens are already under attack ... We'll probably be OK! I'll email when I'm safe."

Mr Bloss didn't send another email. He managed to keep the assailants at bay long enough to enable the contractors he was protecting to escape. But he was killed in a gun battle - and with him a little more of what optimism is left in Iraq.

On the first anniversary of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the country was in the grip of mayhem and insurgency, Mr Bloss was one of at least a dozen people to die at the hands of insurgents across the country yesterday.



I wonder which contractors this guy died for...Halliburton? Bechtel? He didn't die to protect freedom. And his death wasn't necessary. What a waste.

The BBC reports, meanwhile that a member of the US-appointed Iraqi governing council has described the current campaign in Falluja, in which around 450 Iraqis are thought to have died, as genocide.


Ghazi Ajil al-Yawer, a Sunni Muslim member of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), said he was ready to resign if the US did not seek a peaceful solution to the crisis in Falluja.

"How can a superpower like the US put itself in a state of war with a small city like Falluja? This is genocide," he told AFP news agency on Friday, the first anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein.



If these are the guys that we appointed, and if they are resigning and accusing us of genocide, it doesn't look good.
I was doing some surfing today, and ventured on a site called Blogs for Bush, which bills itself as "a new online grassroots campaign dedicated to helping George W. Bush get reelected as President of the United States," according to its founder, Matt Margolis. The site has an extensive list of pro-Bush blogs, and the first one I clicked on, the lopsided poopdeck."

Greeting me were the words "shut the fuck up." When I looked into it further, I found those words were actually not addressed to me, but to President Jimmy Carter, for his recent criticism of George W. Bush.

"'President Bush's war was ill advised and unnecessary and based on erroneous statements, and has turned out to be a tragedy,' Mr. Carter had said."

If so many hadn't remained silent a year ago (unlike corageous people such as Jimmy Carter, Howard Dean, and Al Gore), we wouldn't be in this mess.

But telling people to shut up is the typical Republican attitude.

By the way, isn't it about time for Gore to make another speech (or is he on hiatus until the election)?




Let's make sure he's not.
Send him a letter here:

Office of the Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Avenue, Suite 620
Nashville, TN 37203

Or even better, call here.
Phone: 615-327-2227

If 2000 letters from Howard Dean supporters (one from me) helped convinced Gore to support Dean, we can surely convince him to make a speech.




This from the BBC

A year after the fall of Saddam Hussein US troops are battling gunmen in the old regime's Sunni heartland while unrest continues in Iraq's Shia cities.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the coalition faced its "most serious" threat since the end of the war.

But the US military said operations against militants were "going well".



Well, good to know they are going well at least.

The article goes on to note that...

Rafi Hayad, director of Falluja's main hospital, told Reuters news agency that 450 Iraqis had been killed and 1,000 wounded in fighting since the US ringed the city of 300,000 to pursue the killers of four American security men ambushed there last week.

The US has announced the deaths of six more of its soldiers in combat over the past two days, bring to at least 39 the number killed since the Shia unrest erupted on Sunday.

Concern is growing over the situation in Falluja both within Iraq and abroad:


Russia has called on the sides in Iraq to show restraint and warned of "an impending humanitarian disaster" in the city

A senior Sunni Muslim member of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), Adnan Pachachi, called the operation illegal and completely unacceptable

Kurdish IGC member Mahmoud Uthman said US policy was counter-productive

Muslim Friday prayers saw angry protests across the Middle East

The Iraqi interim Human Rights Minister, Abdel Basit Turki, and a member of the Iraqi Governing Council's rotating presidency, Iyad Allawi, both resigned on Friday without giving a reason for their decision.



Also, the New York Times(free registration required) notes that "There are signs that Shiites and Sunnis are joining to battle Americans."


When the United States invaded Iraq a year ago, one of its chief concerns was preventing a civil war between Shiite Muslims, who make up a majority in the country, and Sunni Muslims, who held all the power under Saddam Hussein.

Now the fear is that the growing uprising against the occupation is forging a new and previously unheard of level of cooperation between the two groups — and the common cause is killing Americans.



Well, at least we don't have to worry about civil war...

In the latest issue of Newsweek, Howard Fineman asks: Is Bush's base beginning to crumble? He notes that Bush's base is getting restive

1.) Because of his stance on immigration (putting corporate interests first),

2.) Spending (putting corporate interests first), faith-based initiatives (good talk but no money, largely because he has been putting corporate interests first even before the bible-thumpers),

3.)troops in Iraq (putting political interests first: he should either put more troops there, or none at all), and

4.) the draft: (no amount of appearances on MTV and insistence that the GOP is hip could make up for the damage that a draft would do to the GOP's youth vote, and young people are already starting to worry).

Seems that Bush is pretty good at this:

First George Bush lost control of himself,

Then he lost control of his car,

He lost control of his businesses,

When he became President, he lost control of the economy,

He lost control of his daughters

He lost control of terror,

He lost control of Afghanistan

He's lost control of Iraq

Now he's losing control of his party.

In a few months, he's going to lose control of the country.


"Extending the war into Iraq would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Exceeding the U.N.'s mandate would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

-- From "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam" (George H.W. Bush).

Hostile, dad? But Uncle Dick said they were gonna welcome us as liberators.

Screw Uncle Dick, Uncle Dick said "Let us rid ourselves of the fiction that low oil prices are somehow good for the United States."

Hey, can't disagree with him there, cause I'm counting on that to get re-elected.
One of the most common criticisms of Ralph Nader's presidential candidacy is that he will draw away votes from John Kerry. Not true, says Nader:

"Nader said...he believes if anything he will take away votes that were meant for Bush because more people are fed up with high budget deficits and Bush's economic policies."


Well, if you are trying to kick off a campaign to get Republican votes, this certainly strikes me as an ineffective way to do it..."Nader calls for Bush to be impeached over Iraq war."

Ralph Nader...he's going to drain away all the republican votes from Bush of republicans who favor impeaching Bush (and that will be a greater number of votes than he drains from Kerry). Make sense?

Joel Klein is an insightful journalist, who often displays a nack for mapping the contours of the political landscape. However, his recent article in Time, "How to win over a nation of partisans," would have been more aptly titled "How to throw the election you are on track to win in the trash."

The article opens by noting that on many topics recently in the news, public opinion is largely split along partisan lines.

"The electorate seems both cynical and hyperpartisan...We may have reached a point at which a civil political conversation is no longer possible in this country."


Hmm, yes, indeed. I wonder if that might have something to do with the fact that one party has taken over all branches of government using anti-democratic tactics, and attacks anyone who disagrees with them as unpatriotic America-hating scoundrels? One party has shredded the constitution, impeaching a president for lying about sex, then lied to congress about reasons for going to war at the cost of several thousand lives and hundreds of billions of dollars?

Klein then suggests that Bush and Kerry need to rise above the rancor, and reach out to all Americans instead of just trying to stoke their bases.

"Both Bush and Kerry face a basic political decision...whether to speak to the nation or preach to the choir."


Klein acknowledges that the Bush smear-machine has used heavy-handed tactics, but then says
"Kerry has to decide how to respond to that."
True enough. Then he says that

"[T]he flaws in...[hitting back hard]...are already manifest in the television ads aired by liberal advocacy groups like moveon.org, and the Media Fund. They paint America in shades of black and blacker. Jobs are leaving, the economy is in the tank, health care is evaporating, and Social Security and Medicare are threatened by Snidely Whiplash Republicans."

Well, that certainly would be a manifest flaw except for the small fact that all of the above is true. Over 2 million jobs have manifestly disappeared dearing the Bush reign, the economy is manifestly in the tank, and thanks to the Bush economic team, the social security surplus is manifestly gone and thanks to his Medicare plan, Medicare is scheduled to be manifestly insolvent in 15 years. If these ads seems extreme, perhaps it is because of the extreme nature of the Bush Administration, and the extreme extent of the damage wrought on America by his policies.

It only gets worse

"The Media Fund launched a morally atrocious ad last week questioning the additional $87 billion that Bush is spending in Iraq: "Shouldn't America be his top priority?" I mean, even for those who opposed the war, what's the alternative to staying the course now? Abandon Iraq to chaos and terrorism? (Kerry's contradictory votes in favor of the war and against the $87 billion are his most difficult to defend.)"

The fact that George W. Bush, in his exercise of his discretion as President, decided to use American resources to go to war with Iraq, the direct result of which was this $87 billion to fund the occupation does raise questions about his priorities as commander in chief, and this certainly is a valid question to ask. It is a non-sequitir to suggest asking the question whether America should be his top priority is equivalent to demanding the immediate withdrawal of US troops in Iraq. The fact is, Iraq raises questions about whether America has been Bush's first priority as President, and as voters decide who they want to vote for, they should consider this as a reflection of what his priorities would be in the future (what kind of new conflicts is he going to get us in)?

Oh, and about Kerry's votes being difficult to defend, I don't think so. John Kerry voted to give the President authority to decide to go to war (for me, a disappointment, but not nearly as bad as being the guy who is using a false rational to push the nation into an unnecessary war). Then, to protest the lack of information that was being given to Congress about how the money was being spent in Iraq and information about progress or lack of there (everything is great, trust us), he voted against the supplemental appropriations bill. There is nothing contradictory about this at all.

"[A] radical move to the middle, a campaign that looks and sounds different from the usual partisan claptrap—one that features more ideas like Kerry's proposed reduction in the corporate tax in return for corporate-loophole closing—may be John Kerry's only chance to transcend the swamp gas that is threatening to engulf this long, long political year."
A radical move to the middle... also known an unprincipled flip-flop. Can you hear it now "John Kerry doesn't even know what he stands for." Does anyone remember the last time our party ran a mushy, centrist campaign for the presidency (hint: it was about four years ago)? George Bush's administration is absolutely deplorable, and John Kerry has every right to call it what it is, and suggest exactly what is needed: a dramatically different course for America.


In her piece in the Guardian, Naomi Klein says

...On Sunday, Iraqi soldiers, trained and controlled by coalition forces, opened fire on a demonstration here. As the protesters returned to their homes in the poor neighbourhood of Sadr City, the US army followed with tanks, helicopters and planes, firing at random on homes, shops, streets, even ambulances. According to local hospitals, 47 people were killed and many more injured. In Najaf, the day was also bloody: 20 demonstrators dead, more than 150 injured...

...Make no mistake: this is not the "civil war" that Washington has been predicting will break out between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. Rather, it is a war provoked by the US occupation authority and waged by its forces against the growing number of Shia who support Moqtada al-Sadr....

...The coalition provisional authority is increasingly being compared on the streets to Saddam, who also didn't much like peaceful protests, or critical newspapers...

So, the Bushies say that the Iraqis are going to welcome us as liberators...and when they don't, we crush them like dictators. How are the Iraqi's to learn about Democracy from this exercise?

Alright, well, it's been a long time since this website got started, and a lot has changed in the last several years (and months). When this website started, Bill Clinton was President, and I was supporting Al Gore as his successor. Our country was experiencing its longest economic expansion ever. It had the largest surplus ever. It was at peace. I was a restless 21 year-old college student studying international affairs, and I wanted to make a difference.

Fast forward four years later. George W. Bush succesfully stole the 2000 election. The Peace and Prosperity abruptly came to an end. From the day he assumed office, George W. Bush was obsessed with Iraq, so much so that he ignored threats such as that posed by the terrorist group Al Qaeda. When Al Qaeda finally struck, Bush made a half-hearted effort to find Bin Laden, then used September 11 as a pretext to invade Iraq. Now we are stuck in a war the end result of which is it difficult to forsee as positive. Oh yeah, and the economy sucks (one good month doesn't make up for three and a half miserable years), record surpluses have been replaced with record deficit, and thanks to Bush's "reform," Medicare has 15 years of solvency left. Me, I'm now a law student, and I'm angry. I've been angry since the 2000 campaign, when I watched the media give W. so many passes, and as the transgressions have multiplied, I have become angrier and angrier.

I said that I started this website because I wanted to make a difference. Well, I think, in a small way, at least I hope, that I have. We sold several thousand "Re-elect Gore Lieberman 2004 Bumperstickers." We have had hundreds of thousands of visitors. Together, GoBackToTexas, together with many other anti-Bush, prodemocracy websites, the campaign of Howard Dean, and millions of disconcerted Americans have galvanized a movement, which, finally, in the last several months, has shifted the public discourse away from the right-wing blather which dominated it before.

I have felt deep inside that I needed a way to vent my feelings about this for the last several years, and I think the blog is the way to go. In a way I feel really positive now, I think taking our country back is within the realm of the possible, but it's going to take work. And when we get it back, I hope there is still the time and resolve to make the necessary changes. I'd be interested to know what any of you think about anything I've said in this posting.