Sunday, December 19, 2004

Hail to the Chief ...

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Before I go on hiatus for the remainder of the year, it's time right about now for my summary of 2004 (unless, of course, something noteworthy happens in the next two weeks), and all of the crazy shit that went down this year. And crazy it was. Alright then:

Well, to begin there was the Superbowl and the whole ridiculous controversy over Janet Jackson (wasn't that stupid? I mean, in hindsight do you still give a shit?!), as well as the ensuing FCC crackdown.

The election year began in March, with Bush's campaign launching one of the most negative campaigns in American history against Senator Kerry, who never really got a platform going (that, I believe, was why he wasn't elected; the disaffected voters who cast their ballot for the President in 2000 simply did not see an alternative in Kerry, as he really didn't provide one).

The war in Iraq took a decided turn for the worse in April, when a mob burned and mutilated four contractors in Falluja, leading some to wonder whether it would mirror Somalia (it didn't; we're still in Iraq, over 8 months later). And in May prisoner torture at Abu Ghraib was disclosed; as I recall, initially we were all told that Pvt. England and the rest were just a 'few bad apples', of course, and were not links in a chain of command, as investigative reporter Seymour Hersh would later elaborate upon meticulously in his expose.

Muckraker and self-righteous filmmaker Michael Moore released his film, Fahrenheit 9/11, through an independent distributor on June 25 after Disney CEO Michael 'Craven Coward' Eisner balked on the plan. The film, intended to oust the president and his administration in the coming election, was a huge success; and, it grossed highest in cinema history for a documentary film, although its status as such was heatedly argued in light of its prevalent bias against, well, Mr. Bush, and its extensive distortions and misrepresentations. (I had written a review of the film, and I liked it a lot; however, as time went by my appreciation of it had diminished. I still will not compare him to Leni Riefenstahl, as many actually did.)

During the summer months, we had the ludicrous Swift Boat shit; what a fucking waste of time: "Was John Kerry really in Cambodia in Christmas 1969? ... Did he throw away the medals, or the ribbons in protest while he preached anti-American hate speech with Hanoi Jane?? We'll be right back, after ..." Jesus. How did we let this happen? It was a damn shame.

And then, the Republican National Convention ... in New York City, apparently a major Republican stronghold in which there was no opportunism at all and the tragedies of 9/11 were not used as the theme out of respect for the victims; oh, how I wish: of course, the exact opposite is what happened. In essence, the RNC was occupying enemy territory; many said it shamelessly exploited the September 11 attacks in order to lend some sort of credence to its agenda. I am, well, inclined to agree.

Election 2004: Wow. I was shocked, but mostly because I had assumed it would be closer than it turned out to be; in fact, I predicted it would be closer than 2000. Then again, I also predicted a few times that Bush would still win anyway, although it felt wary of admitting it. Fuck! Bush had won four more years, didn't he? How the hell did that happen? Wait ... was it stolen? Thus went the conspiracy theories. But there is some reason to 'em, I think. Watch this ... the CEO of Diebold (based in Ohio, state upon which election hinged), contributor and campaigner for Bush, owner of the machines used in the state; to this, we add the track record of gaping security holes with the machines (easy hackability and crash-prone ... hell, they're run on Windows, for God's sakes), as well as the holy grail of no recorded votes, hence no paper trail. And there's the purging of 'spoiled' and 'provisional' ballots, disproportionately affecting the poor, black population that most likely would not have given Bush another four years in office. Well, at least the only place where Bush was simply crushed was his own backyard, right? And as I said right after it was all over, 'Shame on all of us.' Yeah. But that's over and done with: 'We got an inauguration to set up here! so move out the way before I shock you with this tazer ...'

What a year, indeed. Last time I had concluded 2003 to be 'a strange year,' but this one's been at least as equally fucked-up, that's for sure.

See you folks in 2005. Shit, 2005 ...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Going to see George Carlin in January, I think ...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Apparently the Battle of Falluja is not over: insurgents continue to launch attacks, and there is now word that US warplanes have begun bombing targets in the city. 2 GIs have thus far been killed. No further updates.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Reports are now surfacing that Ukrainian opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned by dioxin. Tests were conducted under the direction of Dr. Michael Zimpfer, who said that his team had found "concentrations of dioxin 1,000 times above normal levels," according to a bulletin from MSNBC. I think it merits note that dioxin is the chief ingredient of Agent Orange. Beforehand I had asked myself, 'What's wrong with that guy's face?' And now I know. So, I hope he gets better, but it's kind of hard to recover from Agent Orange ...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Finally, some goddamn unity here: after a nearly month-long stalemate in trying to pass the largest overhaul of national intelligence in a half-century, the Senate this afternoon voted overwhelmingly (89-2, with 9 abstaining) to endorse the bipartisan 9/11 Commission's recommendations toward establishing the post of a national intelligence director to oversee all of the nation's intelligence-gathering agencies. Yesterday, the House passed the bill by a margin of 336-75, and it is now on its way to Mr. Bush, who is expected to sign it. (Has he ever vetoed any substantial piece of legislation as our President? I can't recall.)

The objections made the leading members of the "near-rebellion" (as The New York Times worded it) in the House toward the bill were that the bill would impede communication between the Pentagon and the soldiers on the field, or something to that effect.

The Pentagon? Isn't this really about the CIA? You know, intelligence-gathering organizations? [Oh, well, there's the lesser known Defense Intelligence Agency.] But nonetheless, if some of the money that went toward the bombs that are helping bin Laden went instead toward overhauling the FBI's antiquated computers (I still cannot believe this) so that we could better do some real damage to bin Laden and his followers, it would be a great prospect.

Alas, as Richard Clarke (who referred to the 9/11 Commission recommendations in their final report as "toothless") has recognized, Bush has practically given almost every prospective terrorist in the world a sign-up for jihad. Where the legislation is for putting a quick and decisive end to this asinine and self-destructive (if not wholly counterintuitive) policy of lending a helping hand to our enemies, is something I would really like to know ...

Friday, December 03, 2004

Here's a fucking obvious bit of news: DEFENSE SECRETARY RUMSFELD TO - WHAT?! - STAY?! My God, how shocking ...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I'm really sorry, but news from Iraq: the American troop level has been raised to 150,000, largely through extending deployments for 10,000 soldiers already serving who had been told that they were going to go back home in the next few months. Of course, this roughly 9% increase in the occupation level of our forces is for securing the war-torn nation for the January election, but I see it as the subtle escalation of the war, billed under the usual pretexts of security. But what the hell do I know ...

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

In his first state visit to Canada in his tenure as President, Bush was greeted with enormous opposition from Canadians, who oppose him and his policies. "No, this is not Ukraine. This is Canada," declared Wolf Blitzer. This is hardly surprising, given that Ottawa did not contribute to the war effort in Iraq nor did the former Prime Minister support it. "I'd like to thank the Canadians who came out to wave ... with five fingers," said Bush. From the live televised footage from the rally, at times it turned relatively violent, with some intermittent pushing and shoving between the 'riot control' officials and the demonstrators. With signs reading 'Fuck Bush', 'Bush is the #1 Terrorist', 'Peace', etc., it is nothing but manifest that these are anti-American, terrorist sympathizers commited to bin Laden's jihad. No doubt about that. It lends absolute creedence to the popular T-shirt that reads INVADE CANADA. I hate those Canadians.*

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has declared "in confidential reports to the United States government" that the methods employed by it in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are "'tantamount to torture,'" although this is categorically denied by the US military (for obvious reasons), according to a front-page story in today's New York Times.**

The prisoner torture in Abu Ghraib and in Guantanamo is truly un-American. This is not the image that ought to be shown to the world. When they read about all of these things and hear about them and see the pictures, they are not seeing America. They are seeing the net result of a chain of command that leads right up to the faction that has taken over our country. I am talking about you, Mr. Rumsfeld. And you, Mr. Wolfowitz. And you, Mr. Gonzales. You, Mr. Cheney. They are all (with the exception of Gonzales, the nominee for Attorney General, who was formerly the chief legal adviser) members of a faction, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), founded in 1997. PNAC has become the chief de facto policymaker for our government. Why 'our'? For the reason that we are complicit: although a majority of the American people did not elect these people into office in 2000, a narrow majority in 2004 (50.87%) did. Therefore we hold responsibility for their actions, for they have assumed the role of representing us. I do not like to go onto this tangent, but I feel that it is necessary. But in the long run, this hypocritical 'exceptionalism' is going to come to really haunt us someday.

And, Tom Ridge has resigned as Homeland Security Secretary; six other cabinet posts (most notably John Ashcroft and Colin Powell) have already stepped down in this so-called exodus from the administration. [What I would like to know is whether any of the resignations were taken out of protest.]

* The prior four sentences were heavily sarcastic, if that is not already clear to everyone.

** Neil A. Lewis, "Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse In Guantanamo," sec. A, p. 1.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I freely admit that I do not know much about the situation in Ukraine. It looks pretty bad. The State Department has declared the results, which have indicated the 'pro-Russia' candidate the winner of the highly contested race, illegitimate due to widespread allegations of fraud cited by international observers. The opposition candidate has called on hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians for a 'nationwide strike'. Other than this I know nothing.
And another thing: I am off on Thanksgiving break starting tomorrow morning. So until next time ...

Monday, November 22, 2004

If we are to have a Justice Department, Alberto Gonzales should not be confirmed as Attorney General. His record, according to the lead editorial of today's Washington Post ("Mr. Gonzales's Record," 22 November 2004), appears to speak for itself. From what it entails, Gonzales, in so many words, is a thug: a criminal parading as the nation's chief law enforcer, who is more than willing to circumvent the norms of international law, torture suspects, and appall any ethicist who makes nothing but a cursory glance at, say, his February 7, 2002, memorandum to President Bush in which he "determined that the [Geneva] conventions should be set aside for people deemed 'unlawful combatants.'"

In a word, because we have defined it as a 'war' although al Qaeda is not a nation it is justifiable to label suspected Qaeda members as combatants, thus with no legal rights whatsoever. With the current Senate ratio at 55 - 44 - 1, assuming that the vote is perfectly divisive among party lines (not very likely), Gonzales is guaranteed confirmation. The best hope, therefore, is to try to get as many Senate Republicans to vote against confirming him as possible.

I didn't think it was possible for Bush to pick an AG even farther to the right than Ashcroft; and, I have to admit, the name Gonzales fooled me: I thought, Oh, he picked a moderate. I was wrong, and we all will be sorry if he is confirmed. On a lighter note, maybe he will not be confirmed. We will all have to wait and see, I suppose.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A screenshot from "JFK Reloaded," a new video game that simulates the assassination of President Kennedy, according to the game's creators, in order to debunk the 'conspiracy theory' claims made over the years. No, I'm not kidding ...

Friday, November 19, 2004

Sick of Iraq? I am. Yeah, I am in fact sick of it. The war, of course. It cannot be ignored, but I am getting the sense that I appear to be fixated on it. And so, for the sake of ... well, traffic ratings, let's say ... something else should be up for discussion, right? Good. The war isn't going to end anytime soon, so I figure why not talk about something else? Sounds good. The question, then, is what: I don't know the answer. Well, there's plenty. I am going to Spain the following March, and will provide the details of the trip when the time comes. It will actually be the first time that I have ever been anywhere outside the United States. Specifically, anywhere outside the contiguous, lower 48 states. That's right. So I am going to Spain: Madrid, Toledo, Seville, a few other places. It's going to be great. They love us Americans in Spain, right? I hear the Socialists are running the country, under that guy ... you know, what was the name ... Zapatero, that's right. Will use a currency besides our dollar for the first time, ask for stuff in Spanish among actual Spanish people for the first time. Yup. Good stuff. I'm probably going to look up stuff on Spain, just to know more about the place before the trip. Might be a good idea. For your sake (and mine), the recount of what will surely be harrowing adventure will not be written in Spanish, for I am neither fluent whatsoever in the language and I'm sure none of you all out there have the time ... or the patience.
In the November 18, 2004, issue of The New York Times, when the count of American GI deaths in Iraq should have read 1,209, it was printed as 2,009. The paper was off by 800, and so being over 66% off should not be discounted as a small issue. Things like this really hurt the paper's credibility, already taken down by a few pegs after its weak journalistic reporting on Iraqi WMD, to which it has apologized with a tone of shame. Shame, indeed. Today's issue has the correction for the gross error, in which we read that their count "gave an incorrect number in some copies for service members identified as having died in Iraq." Well, it's good to know that only "some copies" carried this ridiculous error. C'mon, people, get your shit together: you're running what is perhaps the greatest paper in world, or at least used to be ...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

One week remains until the official deadline for Iran's full disclosure of its nuclear program. I hate to see it come to airstrikes of Iranian reactors. Not good. Them mullahs got a week ...

Monday, November 15, 2004

MSNBC reports that a marine killed an unarmed, wounded Iraqi prisoner in a Falluja mosque. Goddamn it. It's people like that who give our soldiers a bad name ...
Perhaps to the dismay of the good people at Blogger, I will be migrating all of my stuff here to my recently secured domain, the Center for Random Rantage. That is, once I figure out how exactly I am supposed to do that. Until then, I will remain here. But soon. I also should back this up, you know, just in case the catastrophic should occur ...

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Is the Battle of Falluja over or what? PM Allawi is declaring victory, but in the old city we continue to face strong resistance from insurgents. What the hell is going on?
Hopefully, they will make good on this promise. (Otherwise, we're gonna have to lay the smackdown, right?)

Saturday, November 13, 2004

After recent fierce battle, the 'major offensive operations' in Falluja are said to be over. But is it true ...?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

This affiliate, Atlanta's WSB-TV station, released this statement. I'm outraged that they even considered editing the film, which ABC intended to air in honor of veterans; editing it would no doubt be an affront to that. The station entreats, "We hope you understand." I wish I did. After all, 'strong language' simply is not acceptable even if it's in the context of horrific battle. Why give kids a preview of the kind of things they, God forbid, might one day see in Iraq ...?
In a move that ought to fill any reasonable person with disgust, several ABC affiliate stations have decided not to air the Oscar-winning, Stephen Spielberg film Saving Private Ryan, uncut, in honor of our veterans, who praised it for its realistic depiction of the horrors of war. My local station, thank God, did. Bless them. To all the rest, who feared FCC backlash and 'sanctions', you are a bunch of spineless cowards.

Significant progress appears to have been made, and our forces are now continuing to 'choke off' the insurgents, of which about 600 have been killed. 18 U.S. GIs have been killed, and about 178 wounded. New beds were needed, according to a report by MSNBC, for "the main military hospital" in Landstuhl, Germany to facilitate "a stream of wounded." Nevertheless, even if we retake the city (which does look certain), it is understood that this will not end the insurgency. Personally, it appears like we're sort of sweeping the floor here: the dirt doesn't go away, it is just put somewhere else.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

At least 70% of Falluja has been taken from insurgents and our soldiers are facing relatively light resistance, which has led some to speculate that the insurgents had fled the city on the eve of the invasion, perhaps right before we sealed it off. In which case, we may be seeing them again ... but where we do not expect them to be. Nonetheless, this is described as a pivotal battle. The end of the war? Fuck no. Far from it. A major turning point? Probably not. A pivotal battle? It is said so. Anyway, I hope it ends as soon as possible ...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

An American sniper looking for insurgents ...

This was the general invasion plan for the Falluja assault yesterday. Progress appears substantial, albeit 10 U.S GI deaths. On the plus side, about 100 insurgents have thus far been killed, which is good from our perspective. But it ain't over yet ...

Monday, November 08, 2004


Sunday, November 07, 2004

What the fuck is happening in the Ivory Coast?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul, who is "embedded with the Marines," reports that a Kurdish Iraqi "company commander of the Iraqi security forces who received a full briefing on the expected Falluja assault is missing from a military base where U.S. and Iraqi troops are preparing for the possible operation." Marines, it is said, "are concerned that the information" the Iraqi captain, who commands "a company of about 160 men," "knows could be passed along to insurgents." After all, "U.S. military sources believe insurgents have friends in the military and government," assumed to be those of interim prime minister Iyad Allawi.
Ever since I heard about Bush's 3.5 million lead over Kerry in the popular vote, I was suspicious: I thought, No way. It just didn't make sense. It still doesn't. Perhaps this is just paranoia, I don't know, but it has been bugging me ... more importantly, I think there is some reason behind it, too. Case-in-point: the Diebold Corporation. It provided Ohio, the state in which it is based, with the unaccountable* machines for the 2004 elections, Ohio being a state known to be extremely divided (according to polls taken until November 2); thus, the third most valuable swing state behind Pennsylvania and Florida. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Diebold, Walden O'Dell, is a registered Republican and was a strong contributor to the President's campaign, organizing fundraisers and, in one instance, had wrote a letter to Bush in which he assured him that he would "deliver Ohio's votes" to him, according to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, as cited in the 'progressive' webzine Common Dreams. From the record as it stands now, in Ohio President-Elect Bush received 2,783,655 votes versus Senator Kerry's 2,653,005 (50.96% to 48.57%, respectively).

*Unaccountable for the reason that the electronic voting machines that Diebold made for the state of Ohio, such as the ones employed elsewhere (such as in the entire state of Maryland), had no paper backup whatsoever ... hence no paper trail. Perfect, really: the easily hackable and insecure machines could have been grossly tampered with and, most deviously, no one would ever know. Not exactly. There is a movement sponsored by an organization called Black Box Voting, which is filing the largest Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in history to find out what exactly happened, county by county. The organization, through its 'Help America Audit' campaign, "has taken the position that fraud took place in the 2004 election through electronic voting machines." They claim to "base this on hard evidence, documents obtained in public records requests, inside information, and other data indicative of manipulation of electronic voting systems." (You can take a look at the 30-minute documentary they made on it, titled "Votergate," here.)

Friday, November 05, 2004

Employment has finally been jolted into gear out of several months stuck in neutral, as 377,000 new jobs have been added to the payrolls across the nation, from figures from the Department of Labor, which attributes the biggest "surge" in job growth since March in part "to repair widespread hurricane damage in the Southeast," according to The Washington Post (Nell Henderson, "October Job Growth Stronger Than Expected," 5 November 2004). However, it is reported that the "unemployment rate rose slightly, to 5.5 percent last month from 5.4 percent in September, because the number of people looking for work rose faster than the number of jobs."* The New York Times (Eduardo Porter, "Labor Market Snaps Out of Lull to Add 377,000 New Jobs") reports that "economists cautioned, ... that a one-month gain did not constitute a trend, since the economy has recorded encouraging spurts of job growth before that have just fizzled out in subsequent months." [The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics' report in question can be found here.]

*Emphasis added.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

With President Bush's victory, coupled with an entrenchment of the Republican majority of the Senate and House (not to mention sustained Republican domination of the governorship as well as the Supreme Court, which will have four vacancies within the next few years) and an unmerciful pounding on the lame-duck Democratic Party, his newly-elected administration and its self-declared mandate (51% of the popular vote was won by Bush, about three and a half million more votes than Kerry) may give him virtually free license to exploit the new rightward shift in Congress toward pursuing an ever more radical, divisive agenda. He now will not need to give a shred of thought to public opinion (domestic and worldwide), because it simply bears nothing to him anymore: Bush won the coveted second term and, barring a Constitutional amendment to change it, will remain our Commander-in-Chief until January 2009. And what will the world look like then? I shudder at the thought ...

MEANWWHILE IN IRAQ: The expected presidential election, set roughly a week after what will be Bush's second inauguration, does not appear a plausible prospect, especially if the anticipated assault on Falluja is to take place. (Can it wait until after Ramadan?*)

*A random note, no doubt, but I felt the need to note this: therefore I'm guessing that the invasion of Falluja will not begin until probably the day after the 16th, the day that the Islamic holy month ends.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

With four states remained uncounted, Kerry today conceded the election. Bush has won a second term. This brings to mind an old aphorism that the newly elected President once attempted to enunciate. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Indeed, shame on all of us ...

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The first polls will close at 7 PM EST. No data has yet to come in (of course), and the results for the whole country are impossible to predict with certainty, it's just so close.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Tomorrow is Election Day. The time has finally come. An anticipated record rate of voter mobilization and turnout will either show Mr. Bush the door or give Mr. Kerry a term in the White House. Barring another harrowing recount, or some other legal debacle that unfortunately appears imminent, once the final tally is counted and agreed upon the American people will see one of two probable scenarios, aside from a plethora of other disturbing possibilities: a President-Elect Kerry and an early retirement for Bush, or the second term his father never got. What will it be? Hell if I should know, but I can take a stab at it. Lessee ... the Electoral College results might (based upon my estimates as well as those of others whose names I wish not to disclose) go 270-268 with Bush the winner or the same with Kerry the winner. I really do think it will be that close. But God forbid that it's 269-269, in which case the victor will be decided by a newly elected House of Representatives.* But what happens will happen: the world ain't gonna end any time soon ...

*The Republican-dominated (the ratio as of now is 229-205) House of Representatives, that is.

That's strange: most of the unscientific surveys (that is, those that do not go by random sampling but rather via voluntary participation) on this site have shown strong majorities supporting Kerry. I must say, it seems kinda odd. And nothing for Nader? That's just crazy. After all, there's gotta be someone out there among the 1,000,000+ people who took part in this 'Live Vote' who would vote for Nader, right? Whatever.
A deployment of new troops have been sent to Baghdad as U.S. and Iraqi forces rally for a massive assault on the city of Falluja, in an effort to root out the insurgent stronghold there. I pray for the best outcome possible, but prepare for the worst. Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has warned of many civilian casaulties and has professed to have gone through every possible avenue aside from invasion. He has said of late that his "patience is wearing thin," and it appears that a full-out attack on Falluja is imminent. However, it appears it will have to wait until the Presidential election tomorrow.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

I saw, well, Saw last night. Now, there's a wickedly fucked-up movie. A taut, sort of smart thriller, almost ruined by Cary Elwes' (Dr. Lawrence Gordon) terrible acting, but largely offset by Leigh Whannell's (Adam) fairly good acting. Some parts were pretty disturbing, no doubt, but in all a very good Halloween movie ... and kinda cheesy, but that's okay. New York Times film critic Stephen Holden called it in his review a "sadistic, Halloween-ready gore fest". A gore 'fest'? Not really. Well, yeah, I guess so. And, according to Holden, the setting of the film - described as "a filthy subterranean bathroom"* - "bear[s] an uncomfortable resemblance to the infamous Iraqi prison photos." Personally, the thought never crossed my mind, but whatever.** Holden writes that the film "does a better-than-average job of conveying the panic and helplessness of men terrorized by a sadist in a degrading environment, but it is still not especially scary. [True; I didn't think it was all that scary at all ...] What sets its demon apart from run-of-the-mill movie serial killers is his impulse to humiliate and torture his victims and justify it with some twisted morality." And that's where it's most fucked-up, just so you know. In short, the perfect Halloween movie: wigged-out, sort of cheesy and stupid, and surprisingly funny (at times the entire audience burst into laughter, mostly directed at Mr. Elwes and his humorously bad acting, of course).

*True dat.

**After all, the review is titled "A Gore Fest, With Overtones of Iraq and TV" ...

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Washington Post* reports that an "international team of public health researchers" estimated in a report published by The Lancet** that "at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians may have died because of the U.S. invasion" in March 2003. The study is reported to have been "based on a door-to-door survey conducted September of 988 Iraqi households - containing 7,868 people in 33 neighborhoods - selected to provide a representative sampling."

However, a Pentagon 'spokesman' is cited as saying on October 28 that "there is no way to validate estimates" by independent groups, as the Defense Department does "not keep tallies of civilian casualties, ..."

Furthermore, "other experts immediately challenged" the report, in light of the fact that "previous independent estimates of civilian deaths in Iraq"*** "... never exceed[ed] 16,000."

According to Human Rights Watch 'senior military analyst' Marc Garlasco, "'The methods that [the researchers] used are certainly prone to inflation due to overcounting.'" He added that "'these numbers seem to be inflated,'" and "said it is extremely different to estimate civilian casualties, especially based on relatively small numbers," stating that "'100,000 is a reach.'"

Nonetheless, the group "called their estimate conservative because they excluded deaths in Fallujah," lately the target of continued US bombing - in hopes of eliminating a base for Jordanian-born jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has recently sworn his alliegance to the perenially elusive Osama bin Laden.

Les Roberts, one of the chief architects of the study, said that he and his group "'are quite confident that there's been somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 deaths, but it could be much higher.'"

*Rob Stein, "100,000 Civilians Deaths Estimated in Iraq," 29 October 2004, A16.

**It is described as a British-based medical journal; L. Roberts, et. al., "Mortality Before and After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq," 30 October 2004, Vol. 364, No. 9445.

***Such as the Iraq Body Count (IBC) Database, which currently has the tally of Iraqi civilian deaths as a result of the war in Iraq (based upon wire reports from 38 independent sources and filtered via a stringent set of criteria) from a minimum reported figure of 14,181 to a maximum of 16,312. (The IBC's background information, including their rationale and methodology, can be found here.)

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

With just one week remaining until Election Day, here are my official predictions as to how things may go down ... ready? It will be close. Very close. In fact, tighter than 2000. Yeah. It's going to make that whole Florida fiasco look like a petty squabble ... and Bush will win. So, uh, go out and vote, I guess. And this ain't defeatism, either; it's acknowledgment of reality. I believe Dubya will find a way to get the second term his father never had. I wish it not happen, as I do not wish to see the prospect of another four years of this guy. I don't like his policies. I have made that plain. And I do not oppose them on ideological grounds, but on practical grounds. For instance, how exactly is a $400 billion deficit indicative of a 'fiscal conservative'? Never having vetoed a single spending bill? Or having removed millions of acres of forest from federal protection and opening them up to logging and development in the name of helping business? How is any of this conservative? Or take this one: unilaterally declaring and waging an allegedly illegal war of aggression against a nation that had no operational connection with the transnational terrorist organization (al Qaeda) that did attack us, resulting in the deaths of over 1,100 US G.I.s and up to 15,000 Iraqi civilians? How about radical, not in the sense of extreme left-wing radical, but in the general definition of the term? How about irresponsible? (Joining this chorus of detractors are actual conservatives, such as Pat Buchanan, who established The American Conservative in late 2002 as war plans against Iraq began to brew, a magazine that is decidedly against what they perceive as the President's neo-imperialist agenda; their latest issue features a leading article that endorses Kerry's presidency out of default, as I do.) Well, anyway, I don't really know, but I can guess that it may well be a chaotic mess again ...

Sunday, October 24, 2004

One week after the New York Times editorial page "enthusiastically" endorsed Senator Kerry's candidacy for President of the United States, The Washington Post's editorial page followed suit today ("Kerry for President"), though not quite to the same degree. However, the Post's editorial staff believes that "Kerry is the better bet" than Bush "to fight in Iraq and to reach out to allies; to hunt down terrorists, and to engage without arrogance the Islamic world," while earlier conceding that it did in fact support the war against Iraq. So, kudos to both of the papers: neither will be able to erase that 'liberal media' label any time soon ...

Did this *look* like a surprise ...?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

With a scant ten days remaining until the election, it's time now to support in earnest our World Savior, the Protector of Our Freedom and a Light unto a troubled Age ...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

[And now, a so-called 'Blast from the Past' (from August 29, 2004) ...]

To answer those who may claim my ideology [or party affiliation, either], I say that I do not think in terms of ideology [or partisanship]. I am an independent thinker [at least I strive to be one], free of the spectrum of 'liberal' or 'conservative' or whatever may fall in-between. Liberalism and conservatism are equally good doctrines (at least according to their dictionary definitions), but I reject both, because ideology is a filter of truth, and if there is an ideology with which I think it is this: common sense. I attempt wherever I can to use reason, and logic, both of which are products of the Enlightenment, as is Liberalism; and so, if this is 'liberal', so be it. And as for the extremes, I am absolutely opposed to them: extremism is extremism, and so 'ultra' liberalism is just as corrosive as 'ultra' conservatism, or 'ultra' anything. I do not think in terms of extremes, at least rationally; it follows that I also do not try to think in terms where anything is unconditional, for that is just as malignant as an extreme. And then there is absolutism, which I also vehemently reject: so, in conclusion, I try not to adhere to any ideology and only think in terms of what makes sense to me, and that is all.

Got it?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Why must both of the candidates exploit the tragedy (highlighted)?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Ah, shit: the prediction I made two days ago came true today. Over 1,100 American dead ...

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Here ya go.
The New York Times editorial staff has officially endorsed the candidacy of John F. Kerry for President of the United States in a revealing, well, editorial ("John Kerry for President," 17 October 2004). Man, the right-wing's gonna have a fuckin' field day with this ...

What, don't believe me? Take a look.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

To make a somber prediction, my guess is that at this rate the toll of Americans dead in Iraq may pass 1,100 by the end of the month, if not earlier ...

Friday, October 15, 2004

Team America: World Police was one of the funniest movies I've seen in a very long time. As much of the mainstream media has concluded in its reviews of the film, including a very positive assessment from the New York Times' movie critic A.O. Scott, it is exactly the sort of film that this country needs right now, one that makes fun of the sorry state of affairs the world is in. Again, side-splitting funny. Unbelievable. And, lest you not know, with puppets ... yup, puppets, strings and all. (The film's protagonist, above, is the diminutive North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Il, whose mission in the film is to sell weapons of mass destruction all around the world to Arab terrorists [of course] and set them off simultaneously as he entertains a delegation of Hollywood actors.) Brilliant, I say.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Remember this ...? (This is Mr. Rumsfeld and Hussein in 1983, when Rummy was President Reagan's envoy to Iraq)

I guess, then, that this wouldn't be the first time Mr. Rumsfeld went to Iraq to meet with a dictator ...
Yesterday, the first ever direct national election in Afghanistan took place, a remarkable achievement for a country wracked by decades of civil war, brutal repression, and foreign invasion. It was reported that turnout was 'high', although the election was "marred by 15 candidates' declaring the election illegitimate because of what they said was widespread cheating and fraud," according to a front-page lead story in The New York Times. The opponents to Hamid Karzai "asked for a new vote. But United Nations and Afghan officials overseeing the voting largely dismissed their concerns, saying they believed any problems had been corrected during the day." Aside from the "unexpectedly peaceful" nature of the national 'poll', "the election did encounter trouble from an unexpected source: the ink placed on each voter's thumb to prevent multiple votes." According to objections from "United Nations officials", "many voters found they could erase it minutes after voting simply with water, and, if they had an extra card, vote again."* Frankly, if the election wasn't exactly fair and square, I wouldn't be surprised, it being Afghanistan's first ever conducted, from what we've heard. Hey, Ngo Dinh Diem was 'elected,' too ... in what is now known to most likely have been a rigged election, that is.

[*Amy Waldman, "Afghan Poll Is Mostly Calm, But Challengers Cry Foul; Turnout Is High as Karzai and His Rivals Debate Integrity of Presidential Vote," 10 October 2004, A1]

Saturday, October 09, 2004

On October 6, the definitive report from the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) was released, which concluded that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 2003 and, in fact, all had been dismantled and destroyed since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, during the following decade of U.N. inspections and sanctions. According to The Washington Post, these inspections (which, apparently, have in fact worked, no doubt much to the chagrin of the administration) "destroyed Iraq's illicit weapons capability and, for the most part, Saddam Hussein did not try to rebuild it," citing the report, which "contradicts nearly every prewar assertion made by top administration officials about Iraq. ... [Mr. Duelfer] said Hussein's ability to produce nuclear weapons had 'progressively decayed' since 1991. Inspectors, he said, found no evidence of 'concerted efforts to restart the program.'"

In addition, Hussein's chemical and biological weapons "stockpiles" -- sold to him by the United States under the Reagan administration -- "had been destroyed and research stopped years before the United States led the invasion of Iraq in March 2003."* (Dana Priest & Walter Pincus, "U.S. 'Almost All Wrong' on Weapons," 7 October 2004, A1) This deals a devastating blow to the primary justification of the war, and, I believe, proves that there was no actual threat emanating from Iraq. The
Post that day also ran an analytical article written by Glenn Kessler on how this new report "is only the latest in a series of damaging blows to the White House's strategy of portraying the war in Iraq as being on the cusp of success. ..." ("War's Rationales Are Undermined One More Time," A35) Moreover, on page A34, The Post ran a "chart ... compar[ing] findings from the Iraq Survey Group's investigation into Iraqi weapons programs and claims made by Bush administration officials before U.S. troops invaded Iraq" 19 months ago, demonstrating wholly divergent views of reality.

The Post's lead editorial ("Weapons That Weren't There," 7 October 2004, A38) reads that "the estimates by the CIA and most other Western intelligence agencies that Iraq held large stockpiles of dangerous weapons were wrong, as was much of what President Bush said about the threat. ..." The day's New York Times lead editorial declared: "Sanctions worked. Weapons inspectors worked. That is the bottom line
of the long-awaited report on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, written by President Bush's handpicked investigator. ... The authoritative findings of [Duelfer's] Iraq Survey Group have now left the administration's rationale for war more tattered than ever. It turns out that Iraq destroyed all stockpiles of illicit weapons more than a decade ago and had no large-scale production facilities left after 1996, seven years before the invasion. ... Even after U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998, a period when Western intelligence experts assumed the worst might be happening, the Hussein regime made no active efforts to produce new weapons of mass destruction. The much-feared nuclear threat - that looming mushroom cloud conjured by the administration to stampede Congress into authorizing an invasion - was a phantom. ... Since any objective observer should by now have digested the idea that Iraq posed no imminent threat to anyone, let alone the United States, it was disturbing to hear President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney continue to try to justify the invasion this week on the grounds that after Sept. 11, 2001, Iraq was clearly the most likely place for terrorists to get illicit weapons. Even if Mr. Hussein had wanted to arm groups he could not control - a very dubious notion - he had nothing to give them. ..."

Two days later, during the 2nd Presidential debate - in St. Louis, MO - President Bush declared, "Sanctions [against Iraq] were not working.
The United Nations was not effective at removing Saddam Hussein." To which, at the prompting of moderator Charles Gibson, Senator Kerry responded: "Mr. president, just yesterday the Duelfer report told you and the whole world, they worked. He didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Mr. president. That was the objective. ..." (The transcript of the debate can be found here.) So, in light of all of this, the question must be: Where the does the buck stop? Why is no one responsible for sending our soldiers into an unnecessary war, one which was 'justified' on a premise that now is known to have not existed? At present, 1,061 of our GIs have died and thousands are wounded. Where is the accountability? It's sickening, it really is.

*Just to add, the following correction was later appended: "An Oct. 7 article and the lead Page One headline incorrectly attributed a quotation to Charles A. Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq. The statement, 'We were almost all wrong,' was made by Duelfer's predecessor, David Kay, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Jan. 28 [2004]."

[The 'key findings' of the ISG report can be found here; as well, here the respective links to Volume 1, 2, and 3 of the report.]

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

In tonight's first and only Vice Presidential debate, held in Cleveland, OH, it appeared to me that Mr. Cheney made the better argument, although (as in the first Presidential debate) there seemed to be no decisive victor. For his first televised one-on-one debate, Mr. Edwards did very well, but Cheney possessed a certain mastery of conviction. Again, you don't have to be right to have conviction. All that I'm saying is that he made his case better than his opponent, who, it was said, would be at a disadvantage from the format of the debate, which did not involve two podiums but rather a table. I can predict how the respective sides will spin the outcome, but the video and transcript of tonight's event (as in any debate, of course) will always speak for itself; no post-debate spin can ever change that, only the electorate's perception, which unfortunately is just as if not more important. Tomorrow we will hear from the opinion pages of elite journalistic opinion (e.g. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal), and our memories of the debate the night before will once again be spinned out of proportion, our original thoughts on it lost forever. (How else to explain the legion of television commentators who immediately grabble our perception of the preceding events already out of our immediate consciousness and morph it into whatever shape or form they devise?)

Friday, October 01, 2004

Due to be released on October 5, Michael Moore's new book, a compilation of letters allegedly sent to him personally from soldiers on the front lines in Iraq, entitled Will They Ever Trust Us Again? looks like another success for Mr. Moore, but it is not him talking. The voices come from our fighting men and women, stuck in the middle of a civil war, under attack from an indigenous and, apparently, 'international' insurgency and betrayed by a President who claims to be 'supporting' them but seems not to, if the public record is any guide. According to the 'Editorial Reviews' page for the book, it is "a provocative collection for anyone who truly supports our troops," and is expected to be "the most talked-about publication of the year."
Last night's debate in Coral Gables, Florida -- a state devastated by four hurricanes in several weeks -- pitted the realist and the radical; respectively, Senator John F. Kerry and President George W. Bush. For ninety minutes they indirectly debated on the war in Iraq, principally, as well as the general 'War on Terror'. Jim Lehrer moderated what sometimes became a heated discussion but never came to fisticuffs. All in all, a draw; Kerry won in terms of substance, Bush somewhat in style, who occassionally stammered and hesitated. Kerry, expected to meander and wander, did none of the sort. He, for the most part, albeit a few generalizations and factual errors, was on target. Bush deliberately avoided the target altogether, repeatedly sticking with his talking points and appearing to not want to face reality and confront it. Kerry appears to want to, however. Will this be decisive? Too soon to say, perhaps, but after the next two the minds of most of the electorate should be set, and we will have a good ol' 'spirited contest,' in the words of the incumbent.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Is this some kind of misprint? What the hell? Allow me to quote here: "When [President] Bush gave his May 1 [2003] speech fewer than 150 Americans had died in the war. Since then more than 900 have died." (In case you can't make it out, the date for this article is, well, yesterday.) Although technically accurate -- 1,037 is more than 900 -- why the gross misstatement? They're over a hundred off, for God's sakes ... are they downplaying this tragedy?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

On the Day of Atonement we admit our transgressions against God, among them our FAILURES OF JUSTICE. We ask for His forgiveness "for keeping the poor in the chains of poverty, and turning a deaf ear to the cry of the oppressed. For using violence to maintain our power, and for using violence to bring about change. For waging aggressive war, and for the sin of appeasing aggressors. For obeying criminal orders, and for the sin of silence and indifference. For poisoning the air, and polluting land and sea, and for all the evil means we employ to accomplish good ends." [Gates of Repentance: The New Union Prayerbook for the Days of Awe (New York, Central Conference of American Rabbis: 1984/5738), pp. 328-9] Quite timeless, indeed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

According to a September 19, 2004, New York Times 'Week in Review' article (Hannah Fairfield, "Is There a Family Resemblance?" sec. 4, p. 2), President George W. Bush and Senator John F. Kerry are distantly related, which is "typical for any two people with significant New England colonial ancestry," according to Gary Boyd Roberts, who is described as "the genealogical historian who compiled the links" between Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry, who are said to be ninth cousins twice removed. Their common ancestor is reportedly Edmund Reade, who lived from 1563 to 1623 in Wickford, Essex. Mr. Reade allegedly had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret Reade, from whom the respective Presidential incumbent and hopeful Bush and Kerry are descended. The Economist told no lie when it stated that Kerry "is cut from the same cloth" as the President, and he literally is. In fact, there are even more reported links between Connecticut-born, blue-blood Bush and Colorado-born (and Massachusetts-raised) blue-blood Kerry. They are tenth cousins once removed via their common ancestors Henry Herrick and Thomas Richards, and are tenth cousins twice removed via their common ancestor John Dwight, who were all natives of Massachusetts. And, via their respective English common ancestry, Bush and Kerry are eleventh cousins once removed, half-twelfth cousins once removed, twelfth cousins twice removed, and fourteenth cousins.*

No wonder their policies and opinions are infuriatingly similar . . . they're family!

*Respectively, these English common ancestors are reportedly Reverend Edward Bukleley, Richard Clapp, Henry Sherman, and John Manning.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Chinese dictator Hu Jintao has gained control of the country's military, following the resignation of Jiang Zemin, thus making him what appears to be absolute ruler. According to a New York Times story, Jintao became "the country's military chief and de facto top leader on Sunday, state media announced, completing the first orderly transfer of power in the history of China's Communist Party. ... [Jintao] now commands the state, the military and the ruling party. He will set both foreign and domestic policy in the world's most populous country, which now has the world's seventh-largest economy and is rapidly emerging as a great power." We also read that Jintao "has solidifed control", like Vladmir Putin, who is also taking steps to dismantle his country's fledgling democracy, "of China's most powerful posts at a younger age ... than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong," the article reads. It is added that Jintao "is now likely to be able to govern relatively unimpeded by powerful elders." It appears that both Russia and China are becoming less and less democratic ...

Friday, September 17, 2004

Today is the second anniversary of the publication of the National Security Strategy of 2002, released by the White House, in which the doctrine of 'preemptive' warfare was thus enshrined, in chapter V of the document ("Prevent Our Enemies from Threatening Us, Our Allies, Our Friends[*] with Weapons of Mass Destruction"). Here's an excerpt (links for the chapter in question, the entire document):

"We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends. ... For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack. Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat ... We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. ... Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction ... The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction—and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively. The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression. Yet in an age where the enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world’s most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather. We will always proceed deliberately, weighing the consequences of our actions. ... The purpose of our actions will always be to eliminate a specific threat to the United States or our allies and friends. The reasons for our actions will be clear, the force measured, and the cause just."

Thanks to this radical doctrine an Axis of Evil enemy such as Iran has announced that it is threatening to use the White House policy of 'preemptive' warfare against us, as cited in the New York Times.

*Thanks to this doctrine, ironically, the United States no longer has many friends in the world ...

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Happy New Year.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The BBC reports that Turkey has warned the US that "it will end cooperation with the US in Iraq if the Americans continue with their offensive in the northern Iraqi town of Talafar." Furthermore, the capital, Ankara, "is concerned about the plight of the large Turkmen population there, some of whom have been killed. US and Iraqi troops last week began a major operation against Talafar - a suspected haven for foreign fighters entering Iraq from Syria. On Friday Turkey's foreign ministry urged the US to halt the offensive. 'What is being done there is harming the civilian population, that it is wrong,' Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said" three days later. I didn't even hear about this; thanks, BBC.

*Now, is this a liberal position? No: it is a common sense position, free of ideology. Does it make sense to have AK-47s freely available on the street? No; guns like these only belong in the military, in the hands of soldiers, and no one else. This describes my gun policy, pure and simple: assault weapons only for the military, handguns only for the police, and rifles (as in the National RIFLE Association) for hunters (a.k.a. 'sportsmen'). That's it. It's common sense, and the President has an obligation as supposed protector of our security to make sure that no one but someone serving in the military ever gets his hands on an assault weapon. There is no reason for it: you don't hunt with a fucking Uzi. Simple. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

This day marks the third anniversary of the most despicable terrorist crimes ever perpretrated against the United States, where four cross-country jets laden each with several thousand gallons of fuel were hijacked by 19 men, 15 of whom were Saudi Arabian, members all of al Qaeda, whose leader was and remains Osama bin Laden, still at large; two were flown into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center, leading to the collapse of the twin towers, and the other dived into the Pentagon, partially destroying the first three rings of the building, and the fourth crashed in Pennsylvania, perhaps headed toward the Capitol or the White House, all within the space of an hour and fifteen minutes.

2,973 of our fellow Americans were murdered, and the atrocities, unprecedented in its scope and magnitude, that were committed on that day were ruthlessly and shamelessly exploited by this administration to pursue a radicalist agenda, designed to establish the doctrine of 'preemptive' war, as enshrined in the National Security Strategy of the United States, published just under a week following the first anniversary of the attacks. The attacks were implicitly used to justify attacking Iraq, in which al Qaeda and the Hussein regime were invoked side-by-side although never actually directly connected in rhetoric; this did not stop 40% of Americans from believing that Saddam was behind the attacks that occured three years ago this day.

Bin Laden, the architect of the terrorist attacks, who once had $25 million on his head, who was once declared found "dead or alive" by the President himself as the War on Terrorism (now renamed the War on Terror, which is quite different) began on October 7, when our warplanes began attacking Afghanistan after talks with the Taliban to hand over bin Laden, whom they had been harboring, failed, is now conveniently forgotten.

The President does not seem to really care that the man who directed the atrocities against our people is still out there, and that the war against Iraq has strengthened, not weakened, al Qaeda's image in the Arab World.

Attacking Iraq was an unconscionably costly and dangerous diversion from fighting al Qaeda and rebuilding Afghanistan, both of which have proved at best counterproductive toward finally 'defeating' the terrorists, whoever and whereever they may be: the Taliban has been all but decentralized and, in tandem, so has al Qaeda.

Over 1,000 American soldiers (just over a third of the number of people killed on September 11, 2001) have been killed in Iraq, and about $200 billion, all of it borrowed, has been spent to finance what was from the start an unnecessary, unmanageably expensive, and immoral war. Over 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the war began in March 2003 as a result of it, over three times the number dead on September 11. We are answering tragedy with tragedy, violence with violence, blood with blood.

In turn, the Bush administration is spitting on the graves of the murdered through its manipulation and exploitation of the dead to further its agenda, in essence, of global dominance: we are now entitled to attack any nation that we perceive to pose a threat, current or future, against us. We think we can fight an amorphous, 'asymmetric' enemy with 'conventional' methods of warfare best used against, say, Nazi Germany; not, however, against al Qaeda, which is not a nation (I really do not think that this administration understands this): instead of building up intelligence gathering and analysis and working to simplify the military in order to fight a wholly new enemy, what is being done is the procurement of the same kind of heavy military hardware, which is not needed, and would in fact appear to violate the fiscal 'responsibility' of the self-professed 'conservatives' running the government.

2,973 Americans did not die martyrs for the sick ambitions of the current incumbents.

For three years they have danced on their graves, and today we must mourn in memoriam the national tragedy that had for a little while united us as one people; and also we must mourn the tragedy of how we faithfully let our government use the atrocities to tear up our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and implicitly justify the war against Iraq, in the name of fighting 'terrorism' and making us 'safer'.

One day those responsible for the crimes perpretrated against us on this day three years past will see their punishment met.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The federal budget deficit has been underestimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) by over 12%, from a projected $2.01 trillion to $2.29 trillion from 2004 to 2014, as cited in the New York Times (E.L. Andrews, "Bush Unlikely to Fulfill Vow on Deficit, Budget Office Projects," 7 September 2004): "Stripping out all war costs for [Afghanistan and Iraq] after [2005]," the article reads, "the [CBO] analysts said the federal government would save $536 billion over the next five years. But making Mr. Bush's tax cuts permanent, one of the president's top priorities, would cost $549 billion through 2009 and $2.2 trillion through 2014." (The CBO report, "The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update," is accessible here.)

Friday, September 03, 2004

The Republican National Convention is over and the Bush-Cheney campaign has officially begun, with about two months remaining until the Presidential elections on November 2.

In form it was exactly like the Democratic National Convention, carefully scripted and contained, in which a group of delegates whose views are outside of the views according to American popular opinion are represented by a group of populists protraying themselves as moderates. The only difference that I could observe between the two conventions was the setting: to put it simply, New York City is not a base for the Republican Party and never has been (the Republican Party has never held its convention in the city before); many detractors found it obvious as to why the RNC would hold it there: the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, which were constantly evoked and exploited (shamelessly, I believe) in order to pursue the GOP's agenda. (In a similar way the Vietnam War was exploited by Kerry, and many have held that this was somewhat shameless, too; I believe, though, not quite to the degree at which it was exploited by the Republicans: whereas Kerry's service in Vietnam was a big element of his convention, 9/11 appeared to be the theme.)

I had respected Senator McCain, decorated war hero and honorable statesman, but it was sad to see him become a marionette for Messrs. Bush and Cheney; they had cut down a great man, turning him into nothing more than a puppet. Same goes, I believe, with former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom I had also respected. Democratic Senator Zell Miller (Ga.) was just out of his head; from the official transcript of his remarks, Mr. Miller was a raving, ranting lunatic. (Clips from the video of his speech also attest.) Here's a sampling:

"Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security," Miller declared, "today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator." Which "Democratic leaders"? Is he referring to Iraq, in which, yes, we are occupying the country and have been doing so for nearly 17 months? Didn't President Bush, in his latest televised press conference on April 13 of this year, say that the Iraqi people "do not support an indefinite occupation -- and neither does America"? And, in response to a question from "Terry" regarding pre-war assertions made by the administration that we "would be greeted" by the Iraqis as "liberators with sweets and flowers," the costs of reconstruction would pay for itself from Iraqi oil money, and Iraqi WMD not only existed but "we know where they are" (Rumsfeld), Bush replied - answering the first part of his question - that the Iraqis are "not happy they're occupied. I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either."

Miller held that, in the "warped way of thinking" of the leaders of the Democratic Party, "America is the problem, not the solution." Again, which Democrats are being referred to by Miller here? The Democrats, he continued, "don't believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself through our clumsy and misguided foreign policy." Based upon what? Nothing. And there's more: In addition to Senator Kennedy, Kerry has "opposed the very weapons system that won the Cold War and that is now winning the War on Terror. Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts," and so he lists the "weapons systems" (the B-1 bomber, the B-2 bomber, the F-14 fighter jet, the Apache helicopter, the F-15, the Patriot missile system, the Trident missile, Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative) that, as the Cold War ended, became irrelevant. Vice President Cheney, at the time as Defense Secretary under Bush, Sr., voted right along with Mr. Kerry, a fact conveniently ignored, to oppose these outdated 'weapons systems'. This leads Miller to his conclusion: "This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces? U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?" Fucking lunatic; to paraphrase Jon Stewart, it looks like grandpa forgot to take his medicine.

In sum, a good, rabble-rousing show. Just two months now.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

To answer those who may claim my ideology, I say that I do not think in terms of ideology. I am an independent thinker, free of the spectrum of 'liberal' or 'conservative' or whatever may fall in-between. Liberalism and conservatism are equally good doctrines (at least according to their dictionary definitions), but I reject both, because ideology is a filter of truth, and if there is an ideology with which I think it is this: common sense. I attempt wherever I can to use reason, and logic, both of which are products of the Enlightenment, as is Liberalism; and so, if this is 'liberal', so be it. And as for the extremes, I am absolutely opposed to them: extremism is extremism, and so 'ultra' liberalism is just as corrosive as 'ultra' conservatism, or 'ultra' anything. I do not think in terms of extremes, at least rationally; it follows that I also do not try to think in terms where anything is unconditional, for that is just as malignant as an extreme. And then there is absolutism, which I also vehemently reject: so, in conclusion, I try not to adhere to any ideology and only think in terms of what makes sense to me, and that is all.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

A New York Times editorial ("Abolish the Electoral College," 29 August 2004) writes that the electoral college is "a ridiculous setup, which thwarts the will of the majority, distorts presidential campaigning and has the potential to produce a true constitutional crisis. There should be a bipartisan movement for direct election of the president." I do agree that the electoral system established by the Founding Fathers is indeed flawed, but to abolish the Electoral College altogether would be to visit the nightmare that they rightly feared: the Tyranny of the Majority. Its "main problem", the Times editorial writes, "is that it builds into every election the possibility, which has been a reality three times since the Civil War [in 1876, 1888, and 2000], that the president will be a candidate who lost the popular vote." Because the number of electors per state is determined by the number of representatives in Congress plus its two Senators, the electoral college inherently skews the vote. For instance, in Wyoming, whose population is around 500,000 and whose number of electors is 3, the peoples' vote is about four times more powerful than that of California, whose population is about 36 million and has 55 electors. "The arcane rules governing the Electoral College," the Times editorial continues, "have the potential to create havoc if things go wrong. Electors are not required to vote for the candidates they are pledged to, and if the vote is close in the Electoral College, a losing candidate might well be able to persuade a small number of electors to switch sides. Because there are an even number of electors - one for every senator and House member of the states, and three for the District of Columbia - the Electoral College vote can end in a tie. There are several plausible situations in which a 269-269 tie could occur this year. In the case of a tie, the election goes to the House of Representatives, where each state delegation gets one vote - one for Wyoming's 500,000 residents and one for California's 35.5 million." Again, because of the skewed nature of the College and the Republican domination of the House of Representatives, a tie would signify a victory for Bush. The stakes, the editorial concludes, are simply too high to not "mak[e] every vote count."
The White House has released its definitive report on President Bush's record during his term in office ("President George W. Bush: A Remarkable Record of Achievement," Aug. 2004*), in which it lays out all of the reasons why Bush deserves another four years in office. I must admit that it is convincing, and by "is" I mean "appears". In the conclusion, we are told that ...

The economy "has grown at the fastest rate of any major industrialized nation," although this has no bearing on the amount of growth; if reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the US Census Bureau are any indicators, the economy - with stalled job growth (only 32,000 new jobs in July), stagnant household income, an increase in poverty (up to 12.5% nationally), and a very substantial trade deficit ($55.8 billion) - is in trouble. But, nevermind; in addition to our economy having "grown at the fastest rate of any major industrialized nation" (that is, presumably, of any other member of the G-8: the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, Canada, and Mexico), its growth is "as fast as any in nearly 20 years"! Where were we 20 years ago, anyway? Oh, right: 1984, just out of a recession under Reagan. Great frame of reference there.

We are told that "nearly 1.5 million jobs have been created since August 2003 and 1.3 million new jobs have been created this year alone," although, conveniently, it is not specified whether this means net job creation. My guess is no. Why talk about all the jobs we've lost? No point there. Also, the unemployment rate "today is below the average unemployment rate of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s," though it is omitted that once one's unemployment runs out, one is no longer counted as 'unemployed', and so the figure is probably bound to be a lot higher, when it is also factored in that job creation has stalled and a couple million jobs were lost since the beginning of the recession that began in March 2001.

More spinned figures are trotted out piecemeal by the Executive, concerning productivity, stock market gains (hardly of any effect to your average American worker), "manufacturing activity" (it appears irrelevant to point out the loss in manufacturing jobs since the beginning of Bush's tenure, which may have been accelerated after the repeal of the steel tariff, much to the detriment of the industry), "real after-tax incomes" up 11% over the past four years (nationwide, median income remains stagnant at $43,318, according to the Census report; DeNavas-Walt, Proctor, & Mills, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-226. 'Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2003.' U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, Aug. 2004, p. 3), interest rates being at "their lowest levels in decades" under Bush, "homeownership" at "its highest level ever" and mortgage rates at "their lowest level in decades" with - "for the first time" - "the majority of minority Americans" owning "their own homes," etc. (So fuck record oil and gasoline prices {national average of around $2/gallon and nearing $50/barrel, respectively}! Who cares?)

Partially taking credit for achievements under the Clinton administration, we also read that, "between 1999-2000 and 2001-2002", the rate of violent crimes "decreased 21 percent" and "is now down to its lowest point in the last three decades," or since 1974, when crime rates where quite high; in addition, again partially thanks to the work done under the Clinton administration, the rate of property crime "dropped 13 percent between 1999-2000 and 2001-2002." (*, 'The Condition of America,' p. 44)

And there are other figures, many of which Bush cannot possibly take credit for, such as the figure where it is read that "recent use of ecstasy, which sharply increased between 1998 and 2001, fell by half among high school students – and past use of LSD fell by almost two-thirds." (ibid, p. 45) And, in a real nod to the Clinton administration, we read that "the largest welfare caseload decline in history occurred between 1996 and 2003, with the caseload falling 60 percent." [Isn't it amazing how the achievements of one President somehow wind up as the achievements of another?] Also, "a March 2004 study by the Council of Great City Schools, the achievement gap in both math and reading between African Americans and whites, and Hispanics and whites, is narrowing," but apparently not by any figure that the White House thought interesting enough to show. More blacks "today are finishing high school, going to college, and earning higher salaries than ever," (id.) although more are still in jail than in college. Finally, there is some "other" miscellanea that Bush has presided over but for which is somehow responsible.

A good record, yes. But what is omitted could fill a whole book, not to mention an entire record of the achievements of the Bush administration that are either not so positive but are outright bad (concerning Bush's real record on the environment and the economy, for instance). And don't forget the war in Iraq. But who wants that? Now go and re-elect this bastard on November 2. Can't change a horse mid-stream, right?
Was at Sea Isle City, NJ, for the second year in a row. Fun stuff. Anyway, there's a new book out, The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America, that reinforces the ridiculous myth that we are, as a nation, divided up into 'red' and 'blue' states; in the Great Divide, the argument is augmented, with its premise, in addition to the 'red' and 'blue' paradigm, that our society is split into 'Metro' and 'Retro'. From the website's description of the book, the Great Divide argues that America "is two nations: Retro America - conservative and rooted in the past; and Metro America - progressive and focused on the future."

Such bullshit: the idea that a whole state is emblematic of one 'half' of society or behind a party - as is suggested by Massachusetts being classically labeled a 'blue state' or Texas being classically labeled a 'red state' - does not stand to reality. Case-in-point: the 2000 Presidential election.

Take Massachusetts, for instance; in 2000, the majority of the people of the state voted for Gore. However, the votes for Bush in the state of Massachusetts amounted to a pretty sizeable margin of the vote (
32.5%, or 878,502 votes). This is not much smaller than the number of votes cast for Gore (1,616,487; the number of votes cast for Bush in Massachusetts comprised over 54% of the votes cast for Gore). Blue state? No; in addition, Massachusetts has a Republican governor, as do all of the supposed 'blue states' of New England. (So does California, another so-called 'blue state'.)

Take Texas; in 2000, the people of the state voted for Bush. But, like Massachusetts, it was hardly a landslide: whereas Bush won a little over 59% of the vote, Gore won nearly 38% (2,433,746 votes; the number of votes cast for Gore in Texas comprised about 64% of the votes for Bush). Red state? No. In conclusion, I do not see any evidence that there is any backing to the idea of red states and blue states. It's just not true.

P.S.: Although the book is exclusively for sale on Amazon, you can read the entire thing for free. (Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9) So you can decide yourself whether you believe this nonsense.

(Source: Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, Election Results; 2000 Presidential Election Figures: Massachusetts, Texas)

Friday, August 20, 2004

I'm gone. See y'all some other time.
The Bush administration policy of preventive war seems to have backfired: the Iranian Defense Minister, Ali Shamkhani, "has warned that Iran may resort to pre-emptive strikes to prevent an attack on its nuclear facilities," presumably by the United States, according to "an interview on Al Jazeera television" Wednesday "in response to a question about the possibility of an American or Israeli attack against Iran's nuclear projects," as cited in the New York Times (Nazila Fathi, "Iran Says It May Pre-empt Attack Against Its Nuclear Facilities," 20 August 2004, A4). According to the article, Vice Admiral Shamkhani declared in the interview that Iran "'will not sit to wait for what others will do to us'"; he added, "'Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly. Any nation, if it feels threatened, can resort to that.'" Thanks to the National Security Strategy of the United States (2002), wherein chapter five of the historic document the concept of preventive ('pre-emptive') war was officially codified, rogue states such as Iran now feel entitled to exercise that doctrine. To Mr. Bush, Mr. Rumsfeld, and Dr. Wolfowitz, I ask: What have you unleashed upon the world?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

In case you all missed it the first time, here are the Articles of Impeachment against the current high-ranking members of the Administration (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft), if it were at all possible to draft them, courtesy of William Ramsey Clark, Attorney General under the Johnson Administration and controversial figure who defended Slobodan Milosevic in the International Criminal Court (ICC) and others (and thus is not really in a position to accuse anyone of 'war crimes', I suppose). Nevertheless, here are the 17 Articles of Impeachment, which are also accessible here. I should add that I am attributing these Articles to Clark, and do not personally endorse them. It's called journalism. Look for the quotation marks.

"Articles of Impeachment


"President George W. Bush


"Vice President Richard B. Cheney,
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and
Attorney General John David Ashcroft

"'The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.' - - ARTICLE II, SECTION 4 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

"President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and Attorney General John David Ashcroft have committed violations and subversions of the Constitution of the United States of America in an attempt to carry out withimpunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes and deprivations of the civil rightsof the people of the United States and other nations, by assuming powers of an imperialexecutive unaccountable to law and usurping powers of the Congress, the Judiciary and thosereserved to the people of the United States, by the following acts:

"1) Seizing power to wage wars of aggression in defiance of the U.S. Constitution, the U.N. Charter and the rule of law; carrying out a massive assault on and occupation of Iraq, a country that was not threatening the United States, resulting in the death and maiming of tens of thousands of Iraqis, and hundreds of U.S. G.I.s.

"2) Lying to the people of the U.S., to Congress, and to the U.N., providing false and deceptive rationales for war.

"3) Authorizing, ordering and condoning direct attacks on civilians, civilian facilities andlocations where civilian casualties were unavoidable.

"4) Threatening the independence and sovereignty of Iraq by belligerently changing its government by force and assaulting Iraq in a war of aggression.

"4) Authorizing, ordering and condoning assassinations, summary executions, kidnappings, secretand other illegal detentions of individuals, torture and physical and psychological coercion ofprisoners to obtain false statements concerning acts and intentions of governments andindividuals and violating within the United States, and by authorizing U.S. forces and agents elsewhere, the rights of individuals under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"5) Making, ordering and condoning false statements and propaganda about the conduct of foreign governments and individuals and acts by U.S. government personnel; manipulating the media and foreign governments with false information; concealing information vital to public discussion and informed judgment concerning acts, intentions and possession, or efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction in order to falsely create a climate of fear and destroy opposition to U.S. wars of aggression and first strike attacks.

"6) Violations and subversions of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, both a part of the 'Supreme Law of the land' under Article VI, paragraph 2, of the Constitution, in an attempt to commit with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes in wars and threats of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and others and usurping powers of the United Nations and the peoples of its nations by bribery, coercion and other corrupt acts and by rejecting treaties, committing treaty violations, and frustrating compliance with treaties in order to destroy any means by which international law and institutions can prevent, affect, or adjudicate the exercise of U.S. military and economic power against the international community.

"7) Acting to strip United States citizens of their constitutional and human rights, ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to counsel, without charge, and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the Executive of a citizen as an 'enemy combatant.'

"8) Ordering indefinite detention of non-citizens in the United States and elsewhere, and without charge, at the discretionary designation of the Attorney General or the Secretary of Defense.

"9) Ordering and authorizing the Attorney General to override judicial orders of release of detainees under INS jurisdiction, even where the judicial officer after full hearing determines a detainee is wrongfully held by the government.

"10) Authorizing secret military tribunals and summary execution of persons who are not citizens who are designated solely at the discretion of the Executive who acts as indicting official, prosecutor and as the only avenue of appellate relief.

"11) Refusing to provide public disclosure of the identities and locations of persons who have been arrested, detained and imprisoned by the U.S. government in the United States, including in response to Congressional inquiry.

"12) Use of secret arrests of persons within the United States and elsewhere and denial of the right to public trials.

"13) Authorizing the monitoring of confidential attorney-client privileged communications by the government, even in the absence of a court order and even where an incarcerated person has not been charged with a crime.

"14) Ordering and authorizing the seizure of assets of persons in the United States, prior to hearing or trial, for lawful or innocent association with any entity that at the discretionary designation of the Executive has been deemed 'terrorist.'

"15) Institutionalization of racial and religious profiling and authorization of domestic spying by federal law enforcement on persons based on their engagement in noncriminal religious and political activity.

"16) Refusal to provide information and records necessary and appropriate for the constitutional right of legislative oversight of executive functions.

"17) Rejecting treaties protective of peace and human rights and abrogation of the obligations of the United States under, and withdrawal from, international treaties and obligations without consent of the legislative branch, and including termination of the ABM treaty between the United States and Russia, and rescission of the authorizing signature from the Treaty of Rome which served as the basis for the International Criminal Court."

Of course, with a Republican-dominated House of Representatives and Senate, it is simply not possible, as I have said above, to impeach the current incumbents. And Mr. Clark's own record does not seem to fare well. Nevertheless, the arguments put forth in the Articles appear quite damning.