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.