Sunday, October 31, 2004

Sunday before the Big Day...

Perusing things today, it looks good for the good guys.

Eric Boehlert has a good wrap-up of the explosive scandal here.

The lame excuses by Republican apologists (such as this one Do they have any idea how ordnance is designed??? Hint: you need to make sure a projectile has a lot of m so that the momentum 1/2mv2 is as large as possible- IOW, "munitions" and explosives are 2 different things) are falling quite flat.

Daily Kos reports- and polls seem to confirm- that the public is really peeved that Bush spent our military capital in a quagmire in Iraq rather than going after al Qaeda.

It's almost- how did Richard Kay put it? Game, set's 6-0, 6-0, 5-0 right now, with one game left...

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Anatomy of a Brooks smear

David Brooks is one of the more repugnant op-ed guys in journalism, and today's op-ed in the NY Times is particularly repulsive, because of its lies and distortions come so close to what all acknowledge is a critical point in the campaign.

1. "Well, the Osama bin Laden we saw last night was not a problem that needs to be mitigated. He was not the leader of a movement that can be reduced to a nuisance. "

True, but Kerry never said he wouldn't go after al Qaeda- in fact, just the opposite.

2. "Here was this villain traipsing through his own propaganda spiel with copycat Michael Moore rhetoric about George Bush in the schoolroom, and Jeb Bush and the 2000 Florida election."

I read an extended transcript, and I suspect- I certainly have no memory- of "Jeb Bush and the 2000 Florida eleciton" being in bin Laden's statement. But bin Laden did give references to Lebanon, (and implicitly Israel/Palestine) which Moore ignored in his film. Brooks is trying the "Moore=Kerry=bin Laden" smear, but the reality is, bin Laden was able to make this criticism because of Bush's incompetence. Let's see if Brooks addresses that...

3. "Last March, Americans preferred Bush over Kerry in fighting terrorism by 60 percent to 33 percent, according to the Gallup Poll. Now, after a furious campaign and months of criticism, that number is unchanged. Bush is untouched on this issue."

Even the Gallup folks take their polls with a grain of salt- as everyone who follows this stuff knows, the demographics for Gallup are severely whacked, and the Gallup folks themselves acknowlege this. Other polls have shown, in fact, that Kerry's pulled even with Bush on this issue.

4. "Bush's response yesterday to the video was exactly right. He said we would not be intimidated. He tried to take the video out of the realm of crass politics by mentioning Kerry by name and assuring the country that he was sure Kerry agreed with him.

Kerry did say that we are all united in the fight against bin Laden, but he just couldn't help himself. His first instinct was to get political. On Milwaukee television, he used the video as an occasion to attack the president: "He didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down Osama bin Laden. He outsourced the job." "

This is the big, baldfaced lie for 2 reasons:

i. Kerry's statement, posted below, was exactly what he said. There was no mention of Bush or Tora Bora. But, it was true as has been painstakingly reported.

ii. Brooks ignores Bush's attacks on Kerry- reported the same night- in which Bush repeats the lie that we didn't have the chance to get bin Laden at Tora Bora!

5. "But politics has shaped Kerry's approach to this whole issue. Back in December 2001, when bin Laden was apparently hiding in Tora Bora, Kerry supported the strategy of using Afghans to hunt him down. He told Larry King that our strategy "is having its impact, and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively, and we should continue to do it that way."

But then the political wind shifted, and Kerry recalculated. Now Kerry calls the strategy he supported "outsourcing." When we rely on allies everywhere else around the world, that's multilateral cooperation, but when Bush does it in Afghanistan, it's "outsourcing." In Iraq, Kerry supports using local troops to chase insurgents, but in Afghanistan he is in post hoc opposition."

This, too is false, as anybody who's read Kerry's statements - and reports of what really happened at Tora Bora know...Pakistan ISI let al Qaeda escape...

Anyhow, the upshot is: bin Laden is free and Bush bears command responsibility, and as Wes Clark said so eloquently last night: it's a "one strike and you're out" policy for the Commander.

Friday, October 29, 2004

John Kerry is presidential


In response to this tape from Osama bin Laden, let me make it clear, crystal clear. As Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They are barbarians. And I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes. Period.

Enough said.

Bad News Rains Down on Imploding Bush "Campaign"

Link Number 1: John Hall has requested Bush to stop stealing his intellectual property.

Link Number 2: Via Digby, via Atrios: Evidently the Pentagon relied on Chalabi's cronies to tell them that there wasn't squat at al Qaqaa. Ooops.

Link Number 3: Yet another embedded outfit (NWCN) confirms the KSTP story:

SEATTLE – Did explosives at Al-Qaqaa, a giant weapons storage area south of Baghdad, disappear before or after the fall of Iraq's capital city? Northwest Cable News anchor Dean Staley was an eyewitness to what was happening in that area at the time in question...

Bush maintains no one knows if the ammunition was taken before or after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, when coalition troops moved in to the area.

But on April 18, nine days after the fall of Baghdad, Staley and his photographer traveled with soldiers to an area said to be the Al-Qaqaa storage facilty.

"There's not another place that you would mistake it for," he said.

During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed Staley bunker after bunker of material labeled "explosives." It was all part of a massive military complex, left unguarded during this time.

Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to remove locks and get into the bunkers, where Staley said he saw materials identified by the 101st as detonation cords.

According to Staley, inside the bunkers there were crate after crate, box after box of material marked "explosive."

Staley, his photographer and the troops also found stacks of unmarked bags of powder and barrels marked "explosive" with bags inside.

Some of the boxes had the words "Al-Qaqaa" printed on them.

Staley said once the doors to the bunkers were opened, they weren't secured – they were left open when the news crew and the military went back to their base.

And, finaly, the best of all, the Godiva chocolate truffle of 'em all:

Link Number 4: Drudge tried to position this as a "see we found out where the explosives went!!!!, but it turns out, that this was something else, and the reporters knew it. Here's how it played out on the Democratic Underground. Here's how it played out on "Free" Republic. And detailed notes here, before a transcript is available.

It looks like the Bush junta has screwed the pooch, defecated the bed, and now it's all over but the vote counting- which, of course is a big thing still.

If Bush wins, then the terrorists will have won

In case al Jezeera and the Washington Times weren't enough, here's the report from Reuters:


The statement said it supported U.S. President George W. Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."

In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:

"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilisation."

"Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."

The group said its cells were ready for another attack and time was running out for allies of the United States.

We need VERY stiff penalties against voter suppression...

To my way of thinking, voter suppression is tantamount to undermining the legitimacy of the authority of the highest levels of political power in the United States- the people.

As such, this crime should, in its penalties, rank with espionage- people like the Republicans in Ohio who are evidently already committing felonies should do life in prison if convicted.

From Bartcop ...

A picture expressing the problems of the Bush campaign:

The "Year of the Monkey" is not Bush's Year...


A year highlighting: Politicians, diplomats, ambassadors, writers, spokesmen, storytellers, orators, salesmen, and confidence games. Welcome to the "Riverboat Gambler" year of the Chinese zodiac - the Irrepressible Monkey.

A year of sidestepping problems and clever manipulations, backed by intelligence and guile. Short-lived, transitory projects and the open exchange of ideas filters our emotions through an agile and razor sharp intelligence. Using a great sense of humor (and sarcasm) Monkey years, hold out bright prospects of a fascinating future, rich in the unexpected. A year of "transformations." A year to give full rein to your imagination, but also be wary of over-optimism, allowing tolerance of the intolerable. Do not let your garden be over-run with weeds (destructive factions could bring trouble if allowed to propagate). Riots, revolutions and the overthrow of rulers, keep everyone on their toes! Monkey years spin everyone's concept of "normal." Bluffs, tricks, ruses and deceptions abound during Monkey years; Those who enjoy risk and novelty, thrive; Those who prefer predictability and convention, wince.

Interestingly enough, 1932 was a Monkey Year, too...

"No ban" on stem cell research? Not quite...

As if you had to guess, another Republican deception has been blown to bits today, by that evil, conspiratorial, Charles Krauthammer-publishing Washington Post...

There may be no ban against using stem cell lines created before 2001, but...

All of the human embryonic stem cells available to federally funded scientists under President Bush's three-year-old research policy share a previously unrecognized trait that fosters rejection by the immune systems, diminishing their potential as medical treatments, new research indicates.

A second study has concluded that at least a quarter of the Bush-approved cell colonies are so difficult to keep alive they have little potential even as research tools...

The first study, led by Fred Gage of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif., and Ajit Varki of the University of California at San Diego, focused on a peculiar aspect of the federally approved cell lines: Unlike colonies being derived using newer techniques, all the Bush-approved colonies were initially cultivated in laboratory dishes that also contained mouse cells.

Scientists and the Food and Drug Administration have already expressed concern that animal viruses lurking in those mouse cells might infect the human cells and cause trouble when they are transplanted into patients, as doctors hope to do...

When human blood serum was added to the mouse-cultivated human stem cells in lab dishes, antibodies attacked the stem cells and killed them. In the eyes of the immune system, "these human cells look like animal cells . . . which leads to [their] death," Gage said at a recent scientific meeting.

So let's cut the right-wing garbage that there "is no federal ban on funding" for stem cell research.

Bush has wasted our time, "thinking" about this issue when he should have concentrated on that PDB - the one that read "Bin Laden Determined to Attack the United States>'

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Now it's really, really, really GAME OVER for Bush...

They- and Fox, the Washington Times, and, of course, right wing bloggers have a real problem.

As promised, KSTP has footage of the IAEA seals...

A 5 Eyewitness News crew in Iraq may have been just a door away from materials that could be used to detonate nuclear weapons. The evidence is in videotape shot by Reporter Dean Staley and Photographer Joe Caffrey at or near the Al Qaqaa munitions facility.

The video shows a cable locking a door shut. That cable is connected by a copper colored seal.

A spokesperson for the International Atomic Energy Agency told 5 Eyewitness News that seal appears to be one used by their inspectors. "In Iraq they were used when there was a concern that this could have a, what we call, dual use purpose, that there could be a nuclear weapons application."

Gwynne Dyer's Son Endorses Bush!


But with endorsements like that...

There is no way that Iraqi hostility to the American occupation can be turned around at this point, and the current outbreak of fiscal irresponsibility in the US-a huge budget deficit and a huge trade deficit, amounting to almost half a trillion dollars each-will certainly result in a great deal of economic pain and misery for ordinary Americans in the coming years. We all know who got the US into Iraq and who created the budget deficit, but the man who is president when military defeat and economic crisis can no longer be denied will bear the political blame.

The main concern of Nameless was that a Kerry election victory, followed by a humiliating scuttle from Iraq and a crash in the US dollar at home, would generate a "Dolchstoss" myth on the American right. He was referring to the alleged "stab in the back" by the German left that was used to explain away Germany's defeat in the First World War. (In fact, the left had loyally supported the war, but had little say in its conduct-until, after Germany's generals admitted irretrievable military defeat on the Western Front, the government was swiftly handed over to the Social Democrats so they could surrender and take the blame.)

The "Dolchstoss" myth, which denied that it had been a mistake to start the war and blamed Germany's defeat on a failure of will, poisoned all subsequent efforts to create a healthy democratic republic on German soil. No analogy is perfect, but similar myths already exist in US politics. Many on the American right still believe that the Vietnam war that could have been won if only the spineless traitors of the left had not weakened American "resolve"-and they say this even though President Richard Nixon, who was elected on a promise to end the Vietnam war and presided over the whole latter phase of it, was a Republican. What could they do with a lost war on a Democratic president's watch?

The war in Iraq is unwinnable for the same reason as the Vietnam war, and all the other wars of the '50s, '60s and '70s in which Western armies tried to beat local resistance movements. The Western armies won almost all the battles and imposed casualties on the insurgents at a ratio of ten-to-one or even more, but the locals had an inexhaustible supply of angry young men who were willing to die.

Looks bad for the "Explosive Excuses" from Repubs...


5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew in Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein was in the area where tons of explosives disappeared, and may have videotaped some of those weapons.

The missing explosives are now an issue in the presidential debate. Democratic candidate John Kerry is accusing President Bush of not securing the site they allegedly disappeared from. President Bush says no one knows if the ammunition was taken before or after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003 when coalition troops moved in to the area.

Using GPS technology and talking with members of the 101st Airborne Division, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has determined the crew embedded with the troops may have been on the southern edge of the Al Qaqaa installation, where the ammunition disappeared. The news crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa, and drove two or three miles north of there with soldiers on April 18, 2003...

Once the doors to the bunkers were opened, they weren't secured. They were left open when the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew and the military went back to their base.

"We weren't quite sure what were looking at, but we saw so much of it and it didn't appear that this was being secured in any way," said photojournalist Joe Caffrey. "It was several miles away from where military people were staying in their tents".

Josh Marshall has other info here and here and here.

Stick a fork in Bush- he's overdone.


Atrios reports that KSTP has footage...of the IAEA seals.

Game over.

Bush and bad faith...

There is an interesting article in the op-ed section of the NY Times today- again- about Bush's "faith."

I know that many conservative Christians probably don't like the author, Robert Wright, but this article is well worth reading a bit...

Every morning President Bush reads a devotional from "My Utmost for His Highest," a collection of homilies by a Protestant minister named Oswald Chambers, who lived a century ago. As Mr. Bush explained in an interview broadcast on Tuesday on Fox News, reading Chambers is a way for him "on a daily basis to be in the Word."...

There's a kind of optimism in Chambers, but it's not exactly sunny. To understand it you have to understand the theme that dominates "My Utmost": committing your life to Jesus Christ - "absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will" - and staying committed. "If we turn away from obedience for even one second, darkness and death are immediately at work again." In all things and at all times, you must do God's will...

But what exactly does God want? Chambers gives little substantive advice. There is no great stress on Jesus' ethical teaching - not much about loving your neighbor or loving your enemy. (And Chambers doesn't seem to share Isaiah's hope of beating swords into plowshares. "Life without war is impossible in the natural or the supernatural realm.") But the basic idea is that, once you surrender to God, divine guidance is palpable. "If you obey God in the first thing he shows you, then he instantly opens up the next truth to you," Chambers writes.

Some have marveled at Mr. Bush's refusal to admit any mistakes in Iraq other than "catastrophic success." But what looks like negative feedback to some of us - more than 1,100 dead Americans, more than 10,000 dead Iraqi civilians and the biggest incubator of anti-American terrorists in history - is, through Chambers's eyes, not cause for doubt. Indeed, seemingly negative feedback may be positive feedback, proof that God is there, testing your faith, strengthening your resolve.

Now one could spend too much time psychologizing Bush, but, if Bush is "sincere" about his "faith," (and anybody who's read Being and Nothingness knows why I put the quote marks there), it is clear that this "faith" itself will in fact lead to wrong decisions. They may "ultimately" be "revealed" to be what they are: bad decisions. Uh, but don't we already know that? Isn't the meta-lesson here (whether you're Buddhist, Christian, atheist, or a Jain) that you don't use this method of thinking about your world?

I could go off on a big tangent on "volition" here, but heck, this is a blog...anybody who'd want that should make a comment to that effect.

I will however, note that Jeff Clinton is right, in a kind of way. This election is about worldviews- and a worldview that insists on not using everything - one that doesn't even roughly parallel Dogen's Tenzo Kyokun is not an effective worldview when put into practice.

Daily Kos is great today...or tonight...

Wow! Daily Kos's pickup of the self-immolation of "Tom" Coburn (R-Oklahoma-soon to be out of the political limelight) is shows conservative Republican racism in all its true glory...

If you die... If you're an African American male in this country, you die before the average... your average life expectancy is less than the retirement age of social security. How, what kind of plan is that that we're gonna take from those because they had a genetic predisposition to have less of a life expectancy. You're gonna steal from them and give it to somebody else. The fact is that we can solve the problem. We can't solve it if we won't talk about it. And we can do with what Albert Einstein said was the most powerful force on earth, which is compound interest. Get it out of the hands of the politicians.

As Kos rightly notes, what Coburn is saying here is that Social Security should be privatized because African American people don't live long enough.

Now to be,...uh... "fair" to Coburn, one of the reasons that the age for getting benefits was defined as it was in the 30's was because people didn't live that long. But given that we've set up a society where we work our butts off for 55 years (after the 20 years of school in which we've been put on the day shift, as Robert Zimmerman noted), at this point, it is a form of expropriation to do anything that would jeopardize benefits for, anybody working.

I've been working for 26 years, and guess what? I want those benefits guaranteed at the level they are. My retirement portfolio's got enough risk balanced in thank you very much. And to be frank, most people (unless they majored in finance) don't know squat about hedge strategies, portfolio managment, game theory, etc., and really, really don't know enough or have enough resources to do all this stuff right.

Heck, I've got a Ph.D. in electrical engineering (strong statistics/probability background) and I could learn more- though I know that most finance guys themselves don't know engough about their financial models.

The other story of the day at Kos, is yes, indeed, Bush has been lying about the high explosive scandal.

The number of excuses and nonsense coming out of the right on this has been breathtaking in their crudeness. Americans will see through this.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I am engaging in an interesting debate

with an Evangelical on "theism," versus "atheism," and the nontheistic position of Buddhism.

Not for any attempt really to expect conversion one way or the other, but to illustrate the different modes of thinking and the common modes of thinking.

These folks live with us, it's important that we understand each other, and hopefully have a more rational debate than has existed say, in the smash-mouth political realm.

Having said that, though, it's important to understand where and how such folks are "getting off the track" in their thinking...

The post referenced above seemed to divide the world into straw-men "atheists" and "theists" (withapersonalized"biblical"Christianperceptionofthedeity...).

There are as many ways to deal with existence as their are people, and as many ways to think about existence as well. Even within Christendom (or Buddhadom?) there are many ways of thinking about existence.

The real issue, for me, is not how you think about existence, what worldview you construct, but how you concretely live your existence. In this regard, delving too deeply into contructing an abstraction of reality becomes a substitute for reality itself- where and how you ARE right now! (As well as who you were, who you will become and so forth).

I have no illusions that I will jar anyone into examining the interstices of their most intimate aspects of their conciousness, but the questions need to be asked, because there is someone over there who is behaving a certain way, and it's alien to everything I know; can they be helped?

Perhaps a better post to jump off from is this one, in which Mr. Jeff Clinton describes John Kerry as a "moral relativist," as a result of Mr. Kerry's position on abortion. (It is stated that George W. Bush's position is more "absolutist.")

Now I support abortion rights for a number of reasons, and these reasons do happen to be based on moral reasons. Among those reasons, in my opinion are that moral decisions made into law that do not consider all effects of such decisions (think of Prohibition or Communism) have disastrous effects generally- precisely because those effects were not considered.

Mr. Clinton's post though is logically very, uh, gooey to me. To say "absolute" without the "relative" is to not be grounded in the concreteness of the day-to-day. To say "relative" without "absolute" is not to think abstractly, either. As Shih T'ou said (or maybe you like this translation better- it's a matter of taste, actually),

Transient phenomena and the permanent fit together like a box and its lid; the Absolute and the Relative operate like two arrows meeting point-to-point in mid-air

Anyone but a strawman imaginary "Moral Relativist" has a meta-morality, and anyone who rigorously advocates "moral absolutism" would have a hard time, as moral absolutes often conflict. It's how the absolute and the relative meet like two arrows in mid-air that is the cause of the conflict.

How do they meet?

They stole the election last time, and they will try to steal it again.

When you re-read the fiasco in Florida in 200 (here and here)and when you recall all that the illegal Bush junta has fostered, and all the problems this junta has created (Iraq, the tanking economy, massive job losses, environmental damage, creating greater division in our society, greater poverty), it's no wonder that Bush is scared of the minority vote.

I don't want to hear any more about Democrats "vote frauds" - these "Republicans" are simply trying to steal the election themselves.

And they're a bunch of racists, criminals, and traitors for attempting it.

Drudge is sludge...

The big news at the Drudge Report today is apparently a new "terror warning video."

Evidently, somebody's afraid that John Kerry will win.

And it's either George W. Bush or al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda you say?

Well, yes. They endorsed Bush.

A week after the Madrid attack, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, which claims to act on behalf of al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the bombing and declared a truce in Spain to see if the new government would withdraw its troops from Iraq, but warned that it was gearing up for new attacks.

This part of the declaration was widely reported. However, very few mentioned the more ominous part of that declaration, short of excerpts which were reported by the BBC and Reuters.

The declaration turned its attention to President Bush, saying: "A word for the foolish Bush. We are very keen that you do not lose in the forthcoming elections as we know very well that any big attack can bring down your government and this is what we do not want.

"We cannot get anyone who is more foolish than you, who deals with matters with force instead of wisdom and diplomacy.

"Your stupidity and religious extremism is what we want as our people will not awaken from their deep sleep except when there is an enemy.

"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilisation.

"Because of this we desire you [Bush] to be elected."

OK, you say, maybe al Jezeera's too biased for about the Washington Times (via Prionline, with links to original)?

Mowafaq Al-Tai, a London-educated architect and intellectual, said different types of resistance fighters have different views of the U.S. election. The most pro-Kerry, he said, are the former Saddam Hussein loyalists — Ba'ath Party members and others who think Washington might scale back its ambitions for Iraq if Mr. Kerry wins, allowing them to re-enter civic life.

The most pro-Bush, he said, are the foreign extremists. "They prefer Bush, because he's a provocative figure, and the more they can push people to the extreme, the better for their case."

Yeah- those "foreign extremists" are al Qaeda.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Josh Marshall says what I'd been thinking...

With the replies coming out of the Republican junta about the missing explosives, two thoughts came to my mind: 1. They've got lots of spy satellites, right? And they knew the stuff was there. 2. Therefore, why wasn't this taken out in "Shock and Awe?"

Josh goes further:

As we noted earlier, there's a relatively brief window of time we're talking about when this stuff could have been carted away -- specifically, from March 8th (when the IAEA last checked it) until April 4th when the first US troops appear to have arrived on the scene.

Certainly there would have been time enough to move the stuff. That's almost a month. But this would be a massive and quite visible undertaking. As the Times noted yesterday, moving this material would have taken a fleet of about forty big trucks each moving about ten tons of explosives. And this was at a time -- the week before and then during the war -- when Iraq's skies were positively crawling with American aerial and satellite reconnaissance.

Considering that al Qaqaa was a major munitions installation where the US also suspected there might be WMD, it's difficult to believe that we wouldn't have noticed a convoy of forty huge trucks carting stuff away....

If we had seen something like that happening, it's hard to figure we wouldn't have bombed the convoy, since the US had complete air superiority through the entire campaign. And if the thought that WMD might be on those trucks had prevented such an attack, certainly there would have been running surveillance of where the stuff was going and where it ended up.

My point here is not to say that this could not have occurred. What I am trying to show is that Pentagon appointees like Di Rita don't seem to have any clear idea what happened to this stuff. And in an attempt to push back the story, they're cooking up various theories, most with very short half-lives, that just don't seem credible to a lot of folks who follow these issues.

If you look at the multiple contradictions in the different stories administration officials told reporters over the course of Monday, it's hard not to get the sense that they're caught without a good explanation and they're just making this stuff up as they go along.

But wait, Josh, I have another point: given 1.) they knew the stuff was there, and 2.) they knew it "disappeared" at some point, how come the administration didn't get this out sooner? Were they hoping nobody would notice? Were they hoping that you could publicly belittle folks associated with the international bodies charged with inspecting the stuff and they wouldn't at some point make this public?

I mean, how stupid could these people be??? Everybody knows you always break the bad news yourself, so you have control over the story, and it looks like you're being forthright and honest. Of course, that's not exactly the Bush junta's style- being honest.

Monday, October 25, 2004

This is AMAZING...

Some folks still don't get that ".com" and ".org" are 2 different domains...

I'm especially amused by the attempt to get Tommy Franks to violate the Hatch Act...

"Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld missed the lecture called 'Nobody wins a shitstorm.'"

Good to see Karen Kwiatkowski's got a new gig. (Link)

Leadership matters, all right. Competence, intelligence, humility, and devoted consistent brutal honesty means lives saved, objectives met. It produces everyday demonstrations of courage at all levels that inspire and motivate. Leadership improves recruitment and retention in an all volunteer military, and makes that military both awesomely fierce and awesomely proud. Leadership preserves the Constitution and strengthens the Republic.

Leadership does matter. The Bush/Cheney campaign should be ashamed of itself

Coming soon.... entries on Zen...

As the campaign season winds down, I think that this blog will start to need different content... the election season's been quite trying, and grist for some many good discussions, but with a name like "Notes in Samsara," there ought to be posts relating to Buddhism...and so there will be...

It's getting to the later autumn season, and that's a good time for going inward...

Anyway, here's a good quote from Eido Shimano to get started...

As for cutting off the myriad streams, he is free to appear in the East and disappear in the West. He can go against or go with it, in any and all directions. He is free to give, free to deprive. This is one of these language problems. The moment we say "he," we can't help but think that it refers to someone else. Saying “he gives" or “he takes," we add an "s" for the third-person present tense, and the more we follow such grammatical rules, the more we think we are talking about someone else, somewhere else. But, what Engo is really trying to teach us is not "he" or "she" but YOU! WE! If we master "IT," we are free to appear in the East and disappear in the West. We can go against or go with it, in any and all directions. We are free to give, free to deprive.

Do not take this so literally: "appear in the East," "disappear in the West." During sesshin, it is not at all good to appear for some sittings, then disappear for part of the day and then reappear again; we must follow the schedule. In a true sense, Engo’s statement is the expression of one's unbounded freedom. But in order to get such freedom, we must be bounded.

This freedom has at least two different aspects. The first is to do whatever you want to do; the other is to be able to control yourself while respecting all the activity around you. To do the latter without creating any burden or problem or tension or interruption for other people, yet moving freely, like the leaf falls from the tree in the autumn, is very profound.

Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of this and freedom of that—we use this word a lot. "Freedom, freedom," we say, and yet we know deep down that we are not at all free. External freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution, but when it comes to our mental, psychological and emotional freedom, this cannot be guaranteed by the Constitution. It is this freedom which we need more of, rather than freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc.

Well, there goes the Republicans' lame excuse...

for how all those explosives disappeared. (Link)

Several hundred tons of conventional explosives were looted from a former Iraqi military facility that once played a key role in Saddam Hussein's efforts to build a nuclear bomb, the U.N. nuclear agency told the Security Council on Monday.

A "lack of security" resulted in the loss of 377 tons of high explosives from the sprawling Al-Qaqaa military installation about 30 miles south of Baghdad, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said...

ElBaradei told the council the IAEA had been trying to give the U.S.-led multinational force and Iraq's interim government "an opportunity to attempt to recover the explosives before this matter was put into the public domain."

But since the disappearance was reported in the media, he said he wanted the Security Council to have the letter dated Oct. 10 that he received from Mohammed J. Abbas, a senior official at Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology, reporting the theft of the explosives...

The letter from Abbas informed the IAEA that since Sept. 4, 2003, looting at the Al-Qaqaa installation south of Baghdad had resulted in the loss of 214.67 tons of HMX, 155.68 tons of RDX and 6.39 tons of PETN explosives...

At the Pentagon, an official who monitors developments in Iraq said U.S.-led coalition troops had searched Al-Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives, under IAEA seal since 1991, were intact. Thereafter, the site was not secured by U.S. forces, the official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

Republican apologists had been saying that this was done by Saddam's folks before the invasion, but that excuse now seems lame.

Kerry's strong record on terrorism...

is illustrated by his work on the BCCI scandal, which Washington Monthly reports on here.

[Kerry's] hearings began to expose the ways in which international terrorism was financed. As Kerry's subcommittee discovered, BCCI catered to many of the most notorious tyrants and thugs of the late 20th century, including Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the heads of the Medellin cocaine cartel, and Abu Nidal, the notorious Palestinian terrorist. According to the CIA, it also did business with those who went on to lead al Qaeda.

And BCCI went beyond merely offering financial assistance to dictators and terrorists: According to Time, the operation itself was an elaborate fraud, replete with a "global intelligence operation and a Mafia-like enforcement squad."

By July 1991, Kerry's work paid off. That month, British and U.S. regulators finally responded to the evidence provided by Kerry, Morgenthau, and a concurrent investigation by the Federal Reserve. BCCI was shut down in seven countries, restricted in dozens more, and served indictments for grand larceny, bribery, and money laundering. The actions effectively put it out of business what Morgenthau called, "one of the biggest criminal enterprises in world history." ...

Kerry's record in the BCCI affair, of course, contrasts sharply with Bush's. The current president's career as an oilman was always marked by the kind of insider cronyism that Kerry resisted. Even more startling, as a director of Texas-based Harken Energy, Bush himself did business with BCCI-connected institutions almost at the same time Kerry was fighting the bank. As The Wall Street Journal reported in 1991, there was a "mosaic of BCCI connections surrounding [Harken] since George W. Bush came on board." In 1987, Bush secured a critical $25 million-loan from a bank the Kerry Commission would later reveal to be a BCCI joint venture. Certainly, Bush did not suspect BCCI had such questionable connections at the time. But still, the president's history suggests his attacks on Kerry's national-security credentials come from a position of little authority.

As the presidential campaign enters its final stretch, Kerry's BCCI experience is important for two reasons. First, it reveals Kerry's foresight in fighting terrorism that is critical for any president in this age of asymmetrical threats. As The Washington Post noted, "years before money laundering became a centerpiece of antiterrorist efforts...Kerry crusaded for controls on global money laundering in the name of national security."

Make no mistake about it, BCCI would have been a player. A decade after Kerry helped shut the bank down, the CIA discovered Osama bin Laden was among those with accounts at the bank.

Again, this is why it's personal: Kerry's on the side of the good guys, and Bush, well, he's been canoodling with the bad guys for years.

Here's 2 links on interactive electoral vote maps

From the LA Times, and from PBS.

If Iowa and Wisconsin - especially Wisconsin go for Kerry, it's in the bag.

Why it's personal between Bush and Kerry...

as reported in today's Salon...

In early 1986, the 42-year-old Massachusetts Democrat stood almost alone in the U.S. Senate demanding answers about the emerging evidence that CIA-backed Contras were filling their coffers by collaborating with drug traffickers then flooding U.S. borders with cocaine from South America.

Kerry assigned members of his personal Senate staff to pursue the allegations. He also persuaded the Republican majority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to request information from the Reagan-Bush administration about the alleged Contra drug traffickers.

In taking on the inquiry, Kerry challenged President Ronald Reagan at the height of his power, at a time he was calling the Contras the "moral equals of the Founding Fathers." Kerry's questions represented a particular embarrassment to Vice President George H.W. Bush, whose responsibilities included overseeing U.S. drug-interdiction policies...

Kerry's probe infuriated Reagan's White House, which was pushing Congress to restore military funding for the Contras. Some in the administration also saw Kerry's investigation as a threat to the secrecy surrounding the Contra supply operation, which was being run illegally by White House aide Oliver North and members of Bush's vice presidential staff...

The Reagan administration did everything it could to thwart Kerry's investigation, including attempting to discredit witnesses, stonewalling the Senate when it requested evidence and assigning the CIA to monitor Kerry's probe. But it couldn't stop Kerry and his investigators from discovering the explosive truth: that the Contra war was permeated with drug traffickers who gave the Contras money, weapons and equipment in exchange for help in smuggling cocaine into the United States. Even more damningly, Kerry found that U.S. government agencies knew about the Contra-drug connection, but turned a blind eye to the evidence in order to avoid undermining a top Reagan-Bush foreign policy initiative...

Kerry's report was issued two years later, on April 13, 1989. Its stunning conclusion: "On the basis of the evidence, it is clear that individuals who provided support for the Contras were involved in drug trafficking, the supply network of the Contras was used by drug trafficking organizations, and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers. In each case, one or another agency of the U.S. government had information regarding the involvement either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter."

The report discovered that drug traffickers gave the Contras "cash, weapons, planes, pilots, air supply services and other materials." Moreover, the U.S. State Department had paid some drug traffickers as part of a program to fly non-lethal assistance to the Contras...

There's more- much more - here. Bush Senior, of course, was in the thick of these espionage activities, and so this race comes down to bad karma for the Bushies.

We can be certain that both sides here know their opponent quite well.

Bob Graham smacks down Tommy Franks...

who apparently never heard of the Hatch Act...anyway, in today's NY Times...

John Kerry is correct that resources were diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq before we accomplished our mission there. How can I be so sure? General Franks told me.....

On Feb. 19, 2002, I visited Central Command headquarters for a briefing on our mission in Afghanistan. After an upbeat assessment with maps, photographs and video, however, General Franks asked for an additional private word in his office. "Senator,'' he said, "we are not engaged in a war in Afghanistan. ...Military and intelligence personnel are being redeployed to prepare for an action in Iraq. ... The Predators are being relocated. What we are doing is a manhunt."

General Franks was telling me this 13 months before the beginning of combat operations in Iraq, and only four months after the beginning of combat in Afghanistan...

If we had truly been able to do both, military and intelligence resources would not have been diverted from Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden wouldn't be continuing to exhort his followers to greater acts of terror; he, like Saddam Hussein, would be in American hands.

Bob Graham
Washington, Oct. 22, 2004
The writer, a Florida Democrat, is a former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

If Bush cared about the United States...

he would simply concede the race right now.

Of course, this is pretty close to a concession as it stands...

Asked in an interview broadcast Monday whether he has considered the fact that he could lose, Bush replied, "I'm not there yet."

"I believe we're going to win and I'm campaigning as if we are going to win," the president said in the interview taped for broadcast Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Evidence continues to mount for Kerry victory

Bob Herbert's NY Times column today gives a litany of things that have gone wrong as a result of the unelected Bush junta:

Polls show the president running even or slightly ahead of Senator John Kerry. But bad news is piling up like mounds of trash in a garbage strike, and that's never good for an incumbent.

The war in Iraq is a mind-numbing tragedy with no end in sight...Yesterday an American diplomat was killed in a mortar attack near the Baghdad airport...

American troops have fought valiantly, but cracks in their resolve are beginning to show. "This is Vietnam," said Daniel Planalp, a 21-year-old Marine corporal from San Diego who was quoted in yesterday's New York Times. "I don't even know why we're over here fighting."

Here at home the stock market has tanked, in part because of record-high oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at its low for the year on Friday as world oil prices streaked ever higher. The cost of oil has jumped more than 75 percent in the past year. With the weather turning colder, the attention of homeowners - many of them voters - is being drawn to the price of home heating oil...

Republican campaign officials are worried about the dearth of good news. The flu vaccine shortage has led to price-gouging and long lines of sick and elderly patients, some of them on the verge of panic. Last week we learned that the index of leading economic indicators had moved lower in September, the fourth successive monthly decline, which could be an indication of a slowdown in economic growth.

"If you're asking me if there's a perfect storm of bad news occurring, the answer is no," said a G.O.P. campaign strategist, who asked not to be identified. "If you're asking if I'd like a little rosier scenario to be played out on the front pages and the nightly news, the answer of course would be yes."

Unable to counter the bad news with stories of major successes, the Bush campaign has turned almost exclusively to the so-called war against terror. The message in a nutshell: be very afraid.

And this is reflected in the polls, as Donkey Rising points out.

Although national polls have the race even, it's a blow-out for Kerry in battleground states.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Two telling quotations from the campaigns...

From today's NY Times Week in Review section...

"I want somebody who reads and reflects in the White House, not someone who just goes with his gut and then prays to God he's right," said Penny McConnell, a schoolteacher at a Kerry rally in Pittsburgh. Then, gazing at Mr. Kerry, she added: "Tell me he doesn't look like a grown-up!"

Linda Farquhar, a house cleaner, gazed with similar intensity at Mr. Bush in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "He has integrity, he's forthright, he takes us forth to fight the terrorists," she said. "Bush is a godly man. He is a representative of Jesus."

I don't vote for popes and I don't vote for anybody else who claims to be a representative of Christ.

And yes, Kerry does indeed look and act like a grown-up.

In case you STILL don't think the race is Kerry's to lose...

From the Washington Post...

GOP officials who talked to Bush-Cheney campaign leaders said the leaders have grown more worried about Ohio, Florida and other key states where Bush lacks a lead with just 10 days until the election. A poll by Ohio University's Scripps Survey Research Center, completed Thursday night, found Kerry leading 49 percent to 43 percent among registered voters, with a margin of error of five percentage points. ...

The Republican official said polling for Bush showed him in a weaker position than some published polls have indicated, both nationally and in battlegrounds. In many of the key states, the official said, Bush is below 50 percent, and he is ahead or behind within the margin of sampling error -- a statistical tie.

"There's just no place where they're polling outside the margin of error so they can say, 'We have this state,' " the official said. "And they know that an incumbent needs to be outside the margin of error."

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Coverup at Abu Ghraib?

Looks like it. (link)

The judge ordered the soldiers, Specialist Charles Graner and Sgt. Javal Davis, to stand trial in Baghdad early next year. Lawyers for the two men had sought immunity grants for officers, including Col. Thomas Pappas, the head of the military intelligence brigade at the prison, in an effort to show that their clients had been acting under orders.

"He reasonably and honestly believes he had been acting lawfully," said one of Mr. Graner's lawyers, Guy Womack. "The orders had been given to him by his superiors in the military police chain of command, military intelligence and civilian intelligence."

The judge, Col. James Pohl, rejected those requests. He also rejected an effort by Mr. Davis's lawyers to interview Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Stephen Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence. One of Mr. Davis's lawyers, Paul Bergrin, said interviews of four generals, including Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former American commander in Iraq, showed they had had detailed conversations with Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Cambone about interrogation tactics.

The generals "while they were in Iraq, had meetings with Rumsfeld and Cambone and had explicit conversations about actionable intelligence and improving interrogation techniques," Mr. Bergrin told Agence France-Presse, which provided the pool report for Friday's hearing.

Yes, Bush let bin Laden get away...

Josh Marshall has the details...(via link to Peter Bergen's website) and if anyone seriously doubted this, maybe they can explain why Bush stopped talking about bin Laden except to say he "wasn't concerned" about him?

So: Was al Qeada's leader at Tora Bora? According to a widely-reported background briefing by Pentagon officials in mid-December 2001 there was "reasonable certainty" that bin Laden was indeed at Tora Bora, a judgment based on intercepted radio transmissions. Moreover, Luftullah Mashal, a senior official in Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, told me that based on conversations he had with a Saudi al Qaeda financier and bin Laden's chef, both of whom were at the battle, bin Laden was at Tora Bora. And Palestinian journalist, Abdel Bari Atwan, a consistently accurate source of information about al Qaeda, has reported that bin Laden was wounded in the shoulder at Tora Bora. Indeed, in an audiotape released on al Jazeera television last year bin Laden himself recounted his own memories of the battle. "We were about three hundred holy warriors. We dug one hundred trenches over an area of one square mile, so as to avoid the huge human losses from the bombardment." In short, there is plenty of evidence that bin Laden was at Tora Bora, and no evidence indicating that he was anywhere else at the time.

That being the case: Did the U.S. military screw up a golden opportunity to capture bin Laden, during the one moment in the past three years that his location was known? There is no debating the fact that US "outsourced" the Tora Bora operation to local Afghan warlords. ...

Why did the United States military--the most powerful armed force in history-- not seal off the Tora Bora region, instead relying only on a handful of US Special Forces on the ground? Historians will no doubt be debating that question for many years, but part of the answer is that the US military was a victim of its own success. Scores of US Special Forces soldiers calling in air-strikes, in combination with thousands of Afghans on the ground, overthrew the Taliban in a few weeks of fighting; a textbook case of unconventional warfare. However, this approach was a failure at Tora Bora where large numbers of Americans on the ground were needed to throw up an effective cordon around al Qaeda's leaders.

Success from Sincliar!

Well, it took a run on their share prices, but it looks like the "Sinclair Documentary," wound up being "fair and balanced."


Only about four minutes of Carlton Sherwood's anti-Kerry film, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," were included - and virtually the same amount of time was devoted to an excerpt from "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry," a film by George Butler that presents Mr. Kerry as a war hero.

The program was apparently balanced enough to satisfy a consortium of media watchdog groups, which held a telephone news conference last night to say Sinclair had acted responsibly. It also enraged a number of conservative viewers who tuned in expecting to see a hour of attacks on Mr. Kerry.

The prevailing theme of conservative viewers, as expressed on Internet Weblogs and chat rooms last night, was that Sinclair, the nation's largest local television station owner, had backed down as it saw its stock price plummet and came under intense heat from shareholder groups and advertisers for putting the company's political views ahead of its business interests.

Damned right they caved, and rightly so- as David Brock pointed out, Sincliar had a legal responsibility to devote equal time to a rebuttal.

(I personally don't see how you can't do this without a fairness doctrine, and would love to see, really, media companies challenged more on this.)

The "terrorisists" really do want Bush...

or at least one of the founding members of the "Axis of Evil."

He has accused the country of being part of the axis of evil, a harbourer of al-Qaida terrorists and a nuclear menace threatening global stability.
So President George Bush may view with suspicion a ringing election endorsement from one of America's current enemies. Iran has thrown its weight behind the Bush campaign, saying it is unimpressed with John Kerry.

"We haven't seen anything good from the Democrats," said Hasan Rowhani, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, on state television. "We do not desire to see Democrats take over ... We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during the time of [former Democratic president Bill] Clinton. And we should not forget that during Bush's era - despite his hardline and baseless rhetoric against Iran - he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran."

And in the "with friends like these, who needs enemies" department, from the same article, we also have...

Mr Bush gained another foreign endorsement yesterday when Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister, said he "hoped and believed" the US president would win. But his prophecy may not be that reassuring. Mr Berlusconi confidently predicted victory for Spain's José Maria Aznar in March, only for the incumbent to lose.

We can only hope the reverse-mojo of Mr. Berlusconi works again...

Friday, October 22, 2004

"My pastor says if you found me, I should tell the truth."


"I was working full time for an inner-city poverty program known as Project P.U.L.L.," Bush said in his 1999 autobiography, "A Charge to Keep." "My friend John White ... asked me to come help him run the program. ... I was intrigued by John's offer. ... Now I had a chance to help people." ...

In the video shown at the 2000 Republican National Convention, Bush recalled how he came to the program.

"Well, a wonderful man named John White asked me to come and work with him in a project in the Third Ward of Houston," the president said in the video. "If we don't help others, if we don't step up and lead, who will?"

But White's administrative assistant and others associated with P.U.L.L., speaking on the record for the first time, say Bush was not helping to run the program and White had not asked Bush to come aboard. Instead, the associates said, White told them he agreed to take Bush on as a favor to Bush's father, who was honorary co-chairman of the program at the time, and Bush was unpaid. They say White told them Bush had gotten into some kind of trouble but White never gave them specifics.

"We didn't know what kind of trouble he'd been in, only that he'd done something that required him to put in the time," said Althia Turner, White's administrative assistant.

"John said he was doing a favor for George's father because an arrangement had to be made for the son to be there," said Willie Frazier, also a former player for the Houston Oilers and a P.U.L.L. summer volunteer in 1973.

Fred Maura, a close friend of White, refers to Bush as "43," for 43rd president, and his father as "41," for the 41st president.

"John didn't say what kind of trouble 43 was in - just that he had done something and he (John) made a deal to take him in as a favor to 41 to get some funding," Maura said.

"He didn't help run the program. I was in charge of him and I wouldn't say I helped run the program, either," said David Anderson, a recreational director at P.U.L.L.

Turner, who said she has avoided reporters for years, agreed to be interviewed only after phoning her pastor for advice.

When she hung up the phone, she turned to a reporter: "My pastor says if you found me, I should tell the truth."

Even then, Turner was hesitant. About 15 minutes into the interview, she asked if the reporter would accompany her to her pastor's home because she needed her support. Once there, she talked in detail for the first time while her pastor, Theresa Times, of Bless One Ministries, and five people who had been attending a prayer meeting listened.

"George had to sign in and out - I remember his signature was a hurried cursive - but he wasn't an employee. He was not a volunteer either," she said. "John said he had to keep track of George's hours because George had to put in a lot of hours because he was in trouble."

I love the smell of scandal in the morning. Smells like...victory.

Bush supports wasting money...

Well, anybody can now do a fact check of the Bush junta's "Wolves" going to

They find...that there was apparently a slush fund at the NRO that Kerry wanted to cut.

Now how does keeping slush funds make us safer???

What concerns me more than the NRA funding

Swift Boat Liars crockumentaries (via Atrios) is the fact that they are not telling the truth.

And they're right wing wackos...

Bush is more than toast...

The ad at this site (view with Windows Media) is said to "an almost unprecedented >8 point gross shift away from Bush in voting intentions among the 750-person test sample. It also badly eroded support for Bush across a wide range of measures including confidence in his Iraq policy and key measures of character including honesty and sharing the concerns of ordinary people."

It's also 100% true.

This is, according to Josh Marshall, about to go into heavy rotation in swing states.

Put a fork in Bush- he's done.

A WONDERFUL gem today

from Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

I always welcome the good Doctor's unique and trenchant perspectives...

I watch three or four frantic network-news bulletins about Iraq every day, and it is all just fraudulent Pentagon propaganda, the absolute opposite of what it says: u.s. transfers sovereignty to iraqi interim "government." Hot damn! Iraq is finally Free, and just in time for the election! It is a deliberate cowardly lie. We are no more giving power back to the Iraqi people than we are about to stop killing them.

Your neighbor's grandchildren will be fighting this stupid, greed-crazed Bush-family "war" against the whole Islamic world for the rest of their lives, if John Kerry is not elected to be the new President of the United States in November.

The question this year is not whether President Bush is acting more and more like the head of a fascist government but if the American people want it that way. That is what this election is all about. We are down to nut-cutting time, and millions of people are angry. They want a Regime Change.

Some people say that George Bush should be run down and sacrificed to the Rat gods. But not me. No. I say it would be a lot easier to just vote the bastard out of office on November 2nd.


"Four more years of George Bush will be like four more years of syphilis," the famed author said yesterday at a hastily called press conference near his home in Woody Creek, Colorado. "Only a fool or a sucker would vote for a dangerous loser like Bush," Dr. Thompson warned. "He hates everything we stand for, and he knows we will vote against him in November."

Thompson, long known for the eerie accuracy of his political instincts, went on to denounce Ralph Nader as "a worthless Judas Goat with no moral compass."

"I endorsed John Kerry a long time ago," he said, "and I will do everything in my power, short of roaming the streets with a meat hammer, to help him be the next President of the United States."


Which is true. I said all those things, and I will say them again. Of course I will vote for John Kerry. I have known him for thirty years as a good man with a brave heart -- which is more than even the president's friends will tell you about George W. Bush, who is also an old acquaintance from the white-knuckle days of yesteryear. He is hated all over the world, including large parts of Texas, and he is taking us all down with him.

Bush is a natural-born loser with a filthy-rich daddy who pimped his son out to rich oil-mongers. He hates music, football and sex, in no particular order, and he is no fun at all.

As if the virus scandal couldn't get any worse...


The New Scientist reports that guys working with the 1918 strain, the one that caused the pandemic, are kind of sloppy.

Who the hell is that guy???

Juxtaposed against Bob Herbert and Paul Krugman today in the NY Times Op-Ed section was an article entitled "Faith and Patriotism."

I started reading the "liberal" paper, only to be amazed at the ravings of a rabid, extremist conservative:

...I hear more lectures about how Roman Catholics must not "impose their beliefs on society" or warnings about the need for "the separation of church and state." These are two of the emptiest slogans in current American politics, intended to discourage serious debate. No one in mainstream American politics wants a theocracy. Nor does anyone doubt the importance of morality in public life. Therefore, we should recognize these slogans for what they are: frequently dishonest and ultimately dangerous sound bites.

Now it is a fact that separation of church and state exists in America for good reason: it has to do with the experience of the bloody wars over religion culminating in the Thirty Years' War, which, until WWII, had the record for European wars in which the number of civilians killed to soldiers killed was highest.

And yes, there are people in America (D. James Kennedy, John Ashcroft, James Dobson, Pat Robertson) who do what they can to encourage the establishment of a theocracy.

So right of the bat this guy is suspect...the Catholic reference is kind of a hint, though...

Lawmaking inevitably involves some group imposing its beliefs on the rest of us. That's the nature of the democratic process. If we say that we "ought" to do something, we are making a moral judgment. When our legislators turn that judgment into law, somebody's ought becomes a "must" for the whole of society. This is not inherently dangerous; it's how pluralism works

No. Lawmaking is amoral- laws get passed because lawmakers vote for them. Beliefs may or may not have anything to do with them. That's the nature of the democratic process. If we say we "ought" to do something, we are only saying that a course of action is recommended. The reasons why that course of action are recommended could be anything, as Machievelli showed. And, sometimes, lawmakers' laws becomes "cans" not "musts."

So within this one paragraph we have misinformation, mystification, and deception.

em>People who support permissive abortion laws have no qualms about imposing their views on society. Often working against popular opinion, they have tried to block any effort to change permissive abortion laws since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. That's fair. That's their right. But why should the rules of engagement be different for citizens who oppose those laws?

Again, the confusion between "cans" and "musts." We now see that this writer is being intellectually dishonest.

Catholics have an obligation to work for the common good and the dignity of every person. We see abortion as a matter of civil rights and human dignity, not simply as a matter of religious teaching.

When you equate people with zygotes, you are, in fact debasing human beings "by debasing Being itself," as R. D. Laing wrote (in the context of patie de foie gras, but the logic applies here). If a human being is defined solely as the "sperm + egg and all cellular subdivisions thereafter, with an abstract 'soul' stamped in for good measure" one is denying the value of human experience in defining humanity- one is objectifying humanity, and therefore debasing the nature of humanity by debasing the confluence of human experience and Being.

This, in my opinion, is the strongest argument against an authoritarian position on abortion.

Oh, yeah, and the guy is claiming to speak for "Catholics."

For Catholics to take a "pro-choice" view toward abortion contradicts our identity and makes us complicit in how the choice plays out. The "choice" in abortion always involves the choice to end the life of an unborn human being. For anyone who sees this fact clearly, neutrality, silence or private disapproval are not options. They are evils almost as grave as abortion itself. If religious believers do not advance their convictions about public morality in public debate, they are demonstrating not tolerance but cowardice.

This guy thinks he can define Catholics' identity. I'm not a Catholic, but I know of alot of Catholics who whould tell this guy to go to hell, he's being a pretentious fool.

As noted earlier, permissive abortion laws, widespread contraception, and strong welfare states that allow women to keep babies and advance up the social ladder are the best antidotes to widespread abortion.

Who wrote this stuff?

Charles J. Chaput is the archbishop of Denver...

He really should focus on things like rooting out pedophilia.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

A little noticed event....

that just happens to correlate with Bush's brief rise in the polls around the Republican convention.


NEW YORK — On Sept. 9, as it must frequently do, the U.S. government turned to Wall Street to raise a little cash, and Paul Calvetti bet that demand for $9 billion worth of long-term Treasury bonds would be “huge.”

But at 1 p.m., as the auction opened and the numbers began streaming across his flat-panel screens, the head of Treasury trading at Barclays Capital Inc. slumped in his chair. Foreign investors, who had been voraciously buying Treasury bonds, failed to show up. Bond prices cascaded downward, interest rates rose, and in five minutes, Calvetti, 38, who makes money by bidding on bonds at one price and hoping market demand lets him quickly resell them at a profit, had lost $1.5 million.

“It’s amazing,” he gasped, after the Treasury Department announced that Wall Street traders, not foreigners, had been left to buy virtually the entire auction. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before.”

The most recent auction of 10-year Treasury notes may have been a fluke, a momentary downturn in one aspect of the massive world market for U.S. government and private-sector bonds, stocks and other securities — a market so large and diverse that it has long been the world’s safe haven. But a rash of new data, including Treasury Department figures released Monday showing a net sell-off by foreigners of U.S. bonds in August, has stoked debate over whether overseas investors — private individuals, institutions and government central banks — are growingly dangerously bearish on the U.S. economy.

It is a portentous issue. Foreign governments and individuals hold about half of the $3.7 trillion in outstanding U.S. Treasury bonds, for example, and the government has been heavily dependent on continued overseas bond purchases to finance the roughly $1 billion a day it has to borrow to pay its bills. Foreign lending and investment are also needed to finance the country’s roughly $50 billion monthly trade deficit, while foreign capital has been a key prop to U.S. stock prices.

A turn in overseas attitudes toward the United States could ripple deeply through the economy, depressing the market, raising interest rates and pushing down the value of the dollar.

In August, foreign private investors actually sold $4.4 billion more in Treasury bonds and notes than they bought that month, the Treasury Department said Monday — the first time in a year that net foreign purchases were negative. That followed a 20 percent decline in July that shrunk net foreign purchases to $18.3 billion.

Bond purchases by foreign central banks also dropped sharply in July, falling 76 percent, to $4.1 billion. A rebound in August brought them back to $19.1 billion. The recovery was timely: Without it, the dollar may have taken a serious hit, said Ashraf Laidi, chief currency analyst at MG Financial Group in New York, who headlined Monday’s client newsletter, “Foreign Central Banks Save Dollar From Disaster.”

Foreign purchases of stocks are off as well, going from net purchases of $9.7 billion in July to a net sell-off of $2.1 billion in August. Over the past 12 months, private foreign investors have purchased a net of $17 billion in U.S. stocks, compared with $30 billion in the 12 months before that.

Measuring the combined purchase of stocks, corporate bonds and government debt, overall capital flows into the United States fell in August for the sixth straight month.

Treasury officials said such data should not be overanalyzed. Net purchases of U.S. government securities may have been low in August, at $14 billion, for example. But foreigners still bought more than $807 billion in Treasury bonds, while selling $793 billion, in a month that is usually a slow one in financial markets, said Treasury spokesman Tony Fratto.

“These movements are taking place in a huge market,” he said.

But the downward trend in capital coming to the United States is nevertheless worrying, some economists argue, with particular implications for U.S. government debt.

Foreign central banks and individuals rushed to finance U.S. government budget deficits over the past three years, buying $19.2 billion in Treasury bonds in 2001, $118 billion in 2002, and $279 billion in 2003. Lending from foreign governments in particular exploded last year — to $109 billion, up from $7.1 billion in 2002.

The fear among economists is that those foreign lenders may grow concerned that their portfolios are too swollen with dollar-denominated assets.

The Chinese — whose Treasury holdings have tripled since 2000, to $172 billion — have already begun buying more euro-denominated assets, said Rebecca Patterson, a senior currency strategist at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Earlier this year, both China and India diverted tens of billions of their dollar holdings to domestic projects, with China pumping $45 billion into its banks and India devoting $15 billion to infrastructure projects.

“China and India are no longer committed to open-ended dollar buying,” Stephen S. Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, warned clients Monday. “At the margin this shift is negative for the dollar and for U.S. real interest rates.”

The world really isn't voting for Bush.

Jimmy Breslin nails it...


Everybody maintains that the two candidates are in a statistical dead heat. Nobody knows that. With a huge number of new registered voters, overwhelmingly of color, and young, and with 40 million using cell phones, the only thing going on in this election is how many times George Bush goes under before he drowns on Election Day. As he should. He is the worst president we have had, maybe ever.

Yesterday on the East Side of Manhattan, they counted 40,000 new registrations. You didn't need 10 of them, for this is a Kerry district, and state. But it showed the level of animosity toward Bush. I was at a book signing at Sarasota the other day, and 400 Democrats were there. A rare number. The next day, they raised $100,000 when Joe Biden appeared for Kerry. Over the last several weekends, groups have come down from Connecticut to go door to door for Kerry in Tampa. I saw cell phones everywhere.

The newspaper and television polls aren't worth glancing at. They are taken of people who have land lines, as your house phone is known. Many millions have cell phones and land lines both, and can be reached. But there are about 40 million between 18 and 29 who only use cell phones. They are heavily Democratic. The usual view is that they vote sparingly. This time, with the word "draft" in the air the young breathe, and with a general and intense dislike of Bush, the number should be higher than usual. Even if it is disappointing, the numbers are so huge to begin with that Kerry will be your president on a 917 vote.

Older people are Bush voters and they are deficient in making cell phone calls. When it buzzes, chimes or rings with an incoming call, they are breathless.

Yet the newspapers and television are running polls as if they are excerpts from textbooks at MIT. They are taken with 20th century methods for a 21st century political race. "Our scientific poll is based on interviews with 532 people, and has an error margin of 3 percent, one way or the other. Of course that makes 6 percent, but that's close enough for us."

They are lies by numbers. The reporters basing their coverage on these polls are lazy, unimaginative and irresponsible. That everything is based on an untruth could be the reason for the dreadful election coverage. What they write or say so often has nothing to do with the times in which they are supposed to live and report.

In the week ending Oct. 17, there were 23 American soldiers killed in Iraq. I saw no prominent mention anywhere. If there were 23 policemen killed in New York in a week, the city would shut down. If there were 23 police officers killed in the nation in a week, it would be a national calamity.

But the 23 dead American soldiers went virtually unmentioned. I watch the "Today" show and they say that now we are going to see all the good things happening in Iraq. Insanity.


Atrios reports that Tom De Lay has been served


And if De Lay is out of the House, it will be one less pest.

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Republican voter suppression...

One of the big things to watch is how the Repubs will try to steal this election.

Daily Kos's article in the Guardian has a good overview & links.

Evidently Repubs care more for Iraqi "freedom" than Americans' freedom.

More about overseas voters...

Salon has an interesting piece on this; evidently voter suppresson is a huge potential issue here.

The overarching problem is the scant resources allotted civilian voters, who outnumber the military overseas by at least 8 to 1. While all applaud the goal of making sure men and women fighting for our country can exercise their right to vote, civilians point out that they are Americans, too. And the FVAP has a history of favoring the military, not least because the Department of Defense has a captive, easily identified audience and far more money and muscle than the State Department. Citizens abroad are far harder to find than soldiers: Embassies have direct contact only with a small minority of those who have registered to be alerted and evacuated in case of a disaster -- though one might call mass disenfranchisement a disaster of another degree.

Highly publicized missteps this year have hardly restored faith in the FVAP. Civilian voters still have trouble getting through to the agency and are barred from the e-mail ballot-request and delivery Web site that is available to soldiers from ten states. More worryingly, a pilot e-mail voting system signed on to by Missouri, Utah and North Dakota, in which soldiers can e-mail ballots to a contractor that then faxes those ballots to local jurisdictions, is being operated by Omega Technologies, headed by a former Republican Party donor, according to the New York Times.

The Times also reports that earlier this week two Democratic members of Congress, Henry Waxman of California and Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the FVAP. Among their concerns is that the agency's online ballot-retrieval system is not open to most civilians abroad.

Miller, the AOK lawyer, says the FVAP, which moved only two years ago from the Pentagon department that buys soap and toilet paper into the personnel department, "is basically focused on the military and doesn't care." A Department of Defense insider involved in getting out the vote overseas puts it more harshly: "The senior military leadership will only admit they have a responsibility to help civilians get involved in elections if you force it down their throat. They're only interested in the soldiers."

These efforts may suppress the overseas vote, but if there really is an 8 to 1 advantage over the military, the overall trend combined clearly is a Kerry trend here- if the vote can be assured.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Well, looks good...

Statistically, it looks great for Kerry, as I posted earlier.

But strategically, it looks even better:

The coverup of the CIA's 9/11 report- which unlike the "other" one, actually assigns blame- is going to be the "My Pet Goat" moment for Bush.

Oct. 20, 2004 | It is shocking: The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago.

"It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being suppressed," an intelligence official who has read the report told me, adding that "the report is potentially very embarrassing for the administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward."

When I asked about the report, Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, said she and committee chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., sent a letter 14 days ago asking for it to be delivered. "We believe that the CIA has been told not to distribute the report," she said. "We are very concerned."

According to the intelligence official, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, release of the report, which represents an exhaustive 17-month investigation by an 11-member team within the agency, has been "stalled." First by acting CIA director John McLaughlin and now by Porter J. Goss, the former Republican House member (and chairman of the Intelligence Committee) who recently was appointed CIA chief by President Bush.

The official stressed that the report was more blunt and more specific than the earlier bipartisan reports produced by the Bush-appointed Sept. 11 commission and Congress.

"What all the other reports on 9/11 did not do is point the finger at individuals, and give the how and what of their responsibility. This report does that," said the intelligence official. "The report found very senior-level officials responsible."

By law, the only legitimate reason the CIA director has for holding back such a report is national security. Yet neither Goss nor McLaughlin has invoked national security as an explanation for not delivering the report to Congress.

So, clearly it's a coverup. This is the next sinker issue for Bush (after the draft, social security, the vaccine scandal, ...)

In other good strategic news, Kerry's signaled that even if the Repubs try to re-steal the election, Kerry will be on duty.

WASHINGTON - Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites), bracing for a potential fight over election results, will not hesitate to declare victory Nov. 2 and defend it, advisers say. He also will be prepared to name a national security team before knowing whether he's secured the presidency.

In short, the Democratic presidential candidate has a simple strategy for Nov. 3 and beyond: Do not repeat Al Gore (news - web sites)'s mistakes.

"The first thing we will do is make sure everybody has an opportunity to vote and every vote is counted," said Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "We will be ready to hit the ground running and begin a fresh start in this country, given that so many critical issues are before us."

The prospects for another contested election loom with every poll showing the race neck and neck.

Six so-called "SWAT teams" of lawyers and political operatives will be situated around the country with fueled-up jets awaiting Kerry's orders to speed to a battleground state. The teams have been told to be ready to fly on the evening of the election to begin mounting legal and political fights. Every battleground state will have a SWAT team within an hour of its borders.

The Kerry campaign has recount office space in every battleground state, with plans so detailed they include the number of staplers and coffee machines needed to mount legal challenges.

"Right now, we have 10,000 lawyers out in the battleground states on Election Day, and that number is growing by the day," said Michael Whouley, a Kerry confidant who is running election operations at the Democratic National Committee (news - web sites).

Meanwhile freepers are in deep, deep denial,...actually giving credence to Gallup polls that were off so much previously.

This is going to hurt them I suspect, when it's a Kerry landslide...

Yes, the trend is towards Kerry

via Daily Kos

Let's see, on the one hand Bush as "the power of incumbency," and whatever people are still "rallying round the 'President'" in the wake of 9/11, and on the other hand...

and on the other hand...

Yeah, it's definitely Kerry's at the moment. They'd need a really, really big October Surprise and massive voter suppression efforts to keep Kerry out of the White House.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

More bad news for Sinclair...

via Atrios...

Evidently Alan Hevisi, the NY State Comptroller, who is the sole trustee of the NY State Common Retirement fund has a few questions for Sinclair's Board.

Clearly, Sinclair's in trouble. Big trouble. Anyone who reads Hevisi's letter can see that doing "Stolen Honor" was a clear cut abrogation of Sinclair's fiduciary responsibility to maximize shareholder return.

When Kerry wins, these guys may be bunking their friends from Enron.

As if things couldn't get any worse...


It's not identified as Mad Cow disease. Yet.

Not an October Surprise...

The Republican Party responds with browshirt tactics against Ron Suskind, who's article in the Sunday Times Magazine mentioned that Bush would gut Social Security, and then the "response":

The controversial quote from Suskind's story came near the end of the lengthy feature article, "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush," which examines the extraordinary degree to which Bush and his senior aides rely on their "faith" and their "gut" to make key policy decisions, and how those who raise questions based on facts or "reality" are cut out of the inner circle. According to Suskind, Bush recently told a closed meeting of major contributors, "I'm going to come out strong after my swearing in with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing of Social Security." Suskind reported that the statements were relayed to him by sources present at the event.

On Sunday the RNC sent out e-mails -- one complete with Suskind's photo and voter registration information -- that attacked him professionally and said the passages in question were "third-hand, made-up quotes" designed to "scare seniors." But the editor of the Times magazine, Gerald Marzorati, told Salon in an e-mail: "Ron Suskind's reporting was carefully reported and vigorously fact-checked."

Of course, when it comes to dishonesty, nobody beats Bush:

And in August, during his convention acceptance speech, just 10 blocks from the Times newsroom, Bush derided the paper, suggesting it was a fount of wrongheaded pessimism: "In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to Allied forces, a journalist wrote in the New York Times, 'Germany is -- a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. [European] capitals are frightened. In every [military] headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed.' End quote. Maybe that same person is still around, writing editorials."

Bush was referring to Anne O'Hare McCormick, the pioneering, Pulitzer Prize-winning Times journalist. And he twisted her dispatch about Germany; in fact, she was criticizing the "moral crisis" in the British and French sectors, while reporting that Americans were doing a better job of reconstruction. She also urged the United States to commit more troops to the occupation. Times columnist Maureen Dowd, discussing the speech, wrote: "Bush swift-boated her."

If you're not reality based, it seems that lie-based is what you have to resort to.

And for those who don't understand what reality based means, I quote from Ron Suskind's article, which is sending Bush apologists into outer-space:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Is it any wonder I call this blog "Notes in Samsara???"

Looks like I'm going to win my bet...

2 weeks to go until election day; some 10 or 11 months ago I wagered a conservative that, barring an October Surprise, Bush would be re-defeated.

And it appears that this will be the case.

Two weeks before Election Day, voters hold a sharply critical view of President Bush's record in office, but they have strong reservations about Senator John Kerry, leaving the race in a tie, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

Mr. Bush's job approval rating is at 44 percent, a dangerously low number for an incumbent president, and one of the lowest of his tenure. A majority of voters said that they disapproved of the way Mr. Bush had managed the economy and the war in Iraq, and - echoing a refrain of Mr. Kerry's - that his tax cuts had favored the wealthy. Voters said that Mr. Kerry would do a better job of preserving Social Security, creating jobs and ending the war in Iraq.

Admittedly, the poll has responders answering that they continue "to see Mr. Kerry as an untrustworthy politician who will say what he thinks people want to hear. More than half of respondents said they considered him liberal, reflecting a dominant line of attack by Mr. Bush this fall."

But that's actually good news: if the viewers vote for Kerry, it should demolish the "liberal bad, conservative good" bleat for decades, which is good.

Meanwhile has Kerry not only leading now, but taking the presidency outright. The Dems now have Florida, and Pennsylvania, which if these trends hold gives Kerry the win America so desparately needs. If Ohio, New Mexico and Missouri goes Kerry (they're within the margin of error right now), it looks like a landslide for Kerry.

Is this why Karl Rove pulled his "I'm going under the wheels for you, master," stunt?

I'm cautiously optimistic, the other issue may be Republican cheating, a Rove trademark.