Tuesday, October 31, 2006

POLITICS - Manipulation of the Voter

In the linked article below there are several paragraphs that address a comment made by a reader of Lean Left blog. These paragraphs are very good points addressing my title for this post.

My readers may not agree with "tgirsch", but these points are worth thinking about.

"More on 'Meaningless' Midterms" by tgirsch, Lean Left

  • [T]hat surfaces another flaw in your original premise: general opinion surveys don’t often account for the relative importance of various issues or for the strength with which people’s views are held.

Comment by David Opderbeck

He goes on at quite a bit greater length, and I responded to him in the comments there, but there are several things about this that I felt needed to be flushed out in greater detail. First, and most important, is that I think David is consistently conflating ignorance with stupidity. The fact is, most people just don’t pay all that close of attention to politics. In this regard, we bloggers and blog readers are the exception, not the rule. Don’t believe me? Start randomly asking people on the street to name five current Supreme Court justices, or how their representative/senators voted on a particular issue, or to even name their representatives and senators. You won’t get a very good success rate here.

But a more basic problem, I think, is that David is operating from a poor (or maybe naïve) understanding of human psychology. What do I mean by this? I think that his arguments are predicated on two flawed basic assumptions: first, that the typical voter is reasonably well informed about the issues and where each candidate stands on those issues; and second, that voting is a purely (or at least primarily) rational act.

David would be right, and it would be accusing voters of “stupidity” to suggest that they’ve gotten informed about all the issues, considered everything rationally, and decided to vote against their interests. That’s not what I’m suggesting at all. What I’m suggesting, instead, is that because candidates spend a great deal of time manipulating the emotions of the electorate, and obfuscating both their own positions and the positions of their opponents, voters often make ill-informed, irrational decisions.

  • [T]hat surfaces another flaw in your original premise: general opinion surveys don’t often account for the relative importance of various issues or for the strength with which people’s views are held.

Another Comment by David Opderbeck

This, at least, is a good point, but David’s problem here is that he ignores the extent to which these preferences and strength-of-views can be manipulated. Again, this is not “stupidity,” it’s human nature. Ask anyone who works in advertising or public relations just how easy it can often be to get human emotion to trump rationality, or how easy it is to manufacture preferences that didn’t previously exist. That’s what I’m saying is a threat to democracy, and that’s why I suggest that there’s often such a stark disparity between poll results and the way people vote.

One more thing of note on this is that over the years, the Republicans have gotten very, very good at recognizing which issues they poll well on, and then making the election all about those issues, avoiding those issues where they don’t do so well. And the latter generally far outnumber the former. At the outset of the election season, such issues may not be high on the list, and the GOP has excelled at making them high on the list. They managed to make the 2002 election all about Iraq in this manner, even though Iraq (rightly) was nowhere in the public consciousness at the time. They worked hard to put it there, to the exclusion of virtually all other issues. In 2004, with the Iraq war already starting to lose support, the bogeyman of gay marriage arose, and was pounded repeatedly.This, by the way, is where our terrible news media have failed us miserably. They’re the only ones who have any ability to cut through the partisan BS (on either side) and don’t do this. They’re the ones who could effectively keep politicians from changing the subject, and they don’t do this.

The last paragraph above is the devil in our politics. The GOP, the party of big business, has become the best users of advertising agency manipulation of the "buyer," in this context the voter. They are selling politics like they sell soap or cars or TVs. Add to that the media's lack of true oversite in the area of American politics, gives politicians (especially GOP) an escape from transparency and ethical truthfulness.

Of course in the end, it is voter laziness in NOT studying the issues or candidates, and allowing themselves to be manipulated.

POLITICS - A Very Applicable Quote For Today

"An election is a moral horror, as bad as battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned."

- George Bernard Shaw

IRAQ - View From A Baghdad Citizen

The following is from an ordinary citizen of Iraq. Not Iraqi nor American "experts" or politicians. We Americans need to pay attention to what ordinary citizens are experiencing.

"The Lancet Study" by Girl Blog from Iraq, 10/18/2006

This has been the longest time I have been away from blogging. There were several reasons for my disappearance the major one being the fact that every time I felt the urge to write about Iraq, about the situation, I'd be filled with a certain hopelessness that can't be put into words and that I suspect other Iraqis feel also.

It's very difficult at this point to connect to the internet and try to read the articles written by so-called specialists and analysts and politicians. They write about and discuss Iraq as I might write about the Ivory Coast or Cambodia- with a detachment and lack of sentiment that- I suppose- is meant to be impartial. Hearing American politicians is even worse. They fall between idiots like Bush- constantly and totally in denial, and opportunists who want to use the war and ensuing chaos to promote themselves.

The latest horror is the study published in the Lancet Journal concluding that over 600,000 Iraqis have been killed since the war. Reading about it left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it sounded like a reasonable figure. It wasn't at all surprising. On the other hand, I so wanted it to be wrong. But... who to believe? Who to believe....? American politicians... or highly reputable scientists using a reliable scientific survey technique?

The responses were typical- war supporters said the number was nonsense because, of course, who would want to admit that an action they so heartily supported led to the deaths of 600,000 people (even if they were just crazy Iraqis…)? Admitting a number like that would be the equivalent of admitting they had endorsed, say, a tsunami, or an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale, or the occupation of a developing country by a ruthless superpower… oh wait- that one actually happened. Is the number really that preposterous? Thousands of Iraqis are dying every month- that is undeniable. And yes, they are dying as a direct result of the war and occupation (very few of them are actually dying of bliss, as war-supporters and Puppets would have you believe).

For American politicians and military personnel, playing dumb and talking about numbers of bodies in morgues and official statistics, etc, seems to be the latest tactic. But as any Iraqi knows, not every death is being reported. As for getting reliable numbers from the Ministry of Health or any other official Iraqi institution, that's about as probable as getting a coherent, grammatically correct sentence from George Bush- especially after the ministry was banned from giving out correct mortality numbers. So far, the only Iraqis I know pretending this number is outrageous are either out-of-touch Iraqis abroad who supported the war, or Iraqis inside of the country who are directly benefiting from the occupation ($) and likely living in the Green Zone.

The chaos and lack of proper facilities is resulting in people being buried without a trip to the morgue or the hospital. During American military attacks on cities like Samarra and Fallujah, victims were buried in their gardens or in mass graves in football fields. Or has that been forgotten already?

We literally do not know a single Iraqi family that has not seen the violent death of a first or second-degree relative these last three years. Abductions, militias, sectarian violence, revenge killings, assassinations, car-bombs, suicide bombers, American military strikes, Iraqi military raids, death squads, extremists, armed robberies, executions, detentions, secret prisons, torture, mysterious weapons – with so many different ways to die, is the number so far fetched?

There are Iraqi women who have not shed their black mourning robes since 2003 because each time the end of the proper mourning period comes around, some other relative dies and the countdown begins once again.

Let's pretend the 600,000+ number is all wrong and that the minimum is the correct number: nearly 400,000. Is that better? Prior to the war, the Bush administration kept claiming that Saddam killed 300,000 Iraqis over 24 years. After this latest report published in The Lancet, 300,000 is looking quite modest and tame. Congratulations Bush et al.

Everyone knows the 'official numbers' about Iraqi deaths as a direct result of the war and occupation are far less than reality (yes- even you war hawks know this, in your minuscule heart of hearts). This latest report is probably closer to the truth than anything that's been published yet. And what about American military deaths? When will someone do a study on the actual number of those? If the Bush administration is lying so vehemently about the number of dead Iraqis, one can only imagine the extent of lying about dead Americans…

JOBS - America Looses Again

"US job outsourcing on rise" by anhracafe on Café.com, New Delhi, India

US engineering jobs that are being 'offshored' to countries like India and China, is 'gaining momentum', according to a recent study, made by the Durham, NC-based Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering Research.

The study titled 'Industry Trends in Engineering Offshoring', challenges the often-accepted view that China and India 'graduate 12 times the number of engineers as the US.

Until recently, the most commonly cited statistics were that the US graduates 70,000 engineers a year versus 600,000 in China and 350,000 in India.

It said that a more realistic comparison of total bachelors and sub-baccalaureate engineering, computer science and information technologies for 2004 was 222,335 (in the US), 644,106 (in China) and 215,000 (in India).

This study interviewed 78 senior executives of major US firms. 75 percent of US firms surveyed say that India has an adequate to large supply of entry level engineers - even more than in the US and China.

This study was presented at the US National Academy of Engineering.

Now, ask yourselves just what has this Bush Administration, and the GOP, actually done to stem this hemorrhage of American jobs via education and penalties for American companies who give away American jobs? Not rhetoric, but action. Nada, nothing, zero!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

POLITICS - The Terrorists at Home, the GOP

The following are two links that, in my opinion, prove that we do have terrorists right here in America, the GOP.

First, the Republican National Committee TV ad, These Are The Stakes

"Special Comment: Advertising terrorism" by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC

Everyone should view the full 10min video via this link. The comment begins with....

Tonight, a special comment on the advertising of terrorism – the commercial you have already seen.

It is a distillation of everything this administration and the party in power have tried to do these last five years and six weeks.

It is from the Republican National Committee;

It shows images of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri;

It offers quotes from them—all as a clock ticks ominously in the background.

It concludes with what Zawahiri may or may not have said to a Pakistani journalist as long ago as 2001: His dubious claim that he had purchased “suitcase bombs.”

The quotation is followed (by sheer coincidence no doubt) by an image of a massive explosion.

“These are the stakes,” appears on the screen, quoting exactly from Lyndon Johnson’s infamous nuclear scare commercial from 1964.

“Vote—November 7th.”


The dictionary definition of the word “terrorize” is simple and not open to misinterpretation:

  • “To fill or overpower with terror; terrify. To coerce by intimidation or fear.”

Note please, that the words “violence” and “death” are missing from that definition.

The key to terror, the key to terrorism, is not the act—but the fear of the act.

That is why bin Laden and his deputies and his imitators are forever putting together videotaped statements and releasing virtual infomercials with dire threats and heart-stopping warnings.

But why is the Republican Party imitating them?

A very, very good question Mr. Olbermann. I have an answer, the GOP is desperate to keep power and they do not care how they do it. They are willing to use Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri as spokesmen for the GOP, to scare Americans into voting GOP.

The GOP has become the lowest of the low and are, in fact, American terrorists.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

POLITICS - Guns In America

"Gun violence: An American way of death" by BERND DEBUSMANN, Capital Hill Blue

It's an American way of death. More than 30,000 people die from gunshot wounds every year, through murder, suicide and accidents.

That is an average of 82 a day, and prospects for reducing the toll are dim.

The debate between gun control advocates and the pro-gun lobby was reignited briefly this month by four school shootings between September 26 and October 9.

In one, a man carrying a pistol, a shotgun and 600 rounds of ammunition shot 10 girls execution-style at an Amish school in Pennsylvania, killing five of them, and then killed himself. In another, a 13-year-old took an AK-47 assault rifle to his school in Missouri, pointed it at administrators and other students and fired it into a ceiling.

At a hastily arranged White House Conference on School Safety on October 10, panelists covered topics ranging from metal detectors and school bullies to the value of religious beliefs and good communication between parents and schools.

But the word "gun" was not mentioned until a plucky teenager pointed out to a panel moderated by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that the common factor was easy access to high-powered firearms. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush attended separate parts of the conference but avoided mention of guns.

...bold emphasis mine.... and....

"The U.S. level of lethal violence is far out of line with those of other industrialized nations," said David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. "The fact that most of our lethal violence involves firearms lends credence to the hypothesis that the prevalence of guns is a prime reason."

That hypothesis, widely accepted in much of the rest of the world, is hotly contested by American advocates of unfettered access to guns, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), who say that the second amendment to the Constitution gives all law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms.

Proponents of tighter gun controls see things differently. "Congress has been in denial about gun violence ... and is moving in the wrong direction," said Joshua Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. He noted that the annual death toll from gun violence in the United States is ten times the total of U.S. combat deaths, to date, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Statisticians say such comparisons are misleading but the parallel has been drawn before, most notably by then president George H.W. Bush, the present president's father, after the end of the first Gulf War.

  • "During the first three days of the ground offensive, more Americans were killed in some American cities than at the entire Kuwaiti front," Bush said at the time.

    "Think of it, one of our brave National Guardsmen may have actually been safer in the midst of the largest armored offensive in history than he would have been on the streets of his home-town."

That was in 1991, when the U.S. murder rate, driven by turf wars between crack dealers, reached an all-time peak of 24,700, according to FBI statistics. It declined steadily in the 1990s and stood at just under 17,000 last year. Guns accounted for two thirds of the killings.

I am also coming to agree that access to high-powered guns is a big problem. We are not talking hunting rifles here. We, the American people and especially the NRA really need to reexamine our stance on high-powered guns. Is the risk to our children and communities really worth NOT putting some limits on the type of guns are allowed on our streets?

Is the right to bear arms really unlimited, or is it like "free speech" where there are recognized limits?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

POLITICS - Bush, Making America "Safe" NOT

"Dear Leader Brings It On" by Robert Scheer, Truthdig

Well, Bush showed them, didn’t he?

Over the past six years, our “my way or the highway” president blew up a crucial nonproliferation agreement which was keeping North Korea’s plutonium stores under seal, ended bilateral talks with Pyongyang, squashed Japan’s and South Korea’s carefully constructed “sunshine policy,” which was slowly drawing the bizarre Hermit Kingdom back into the light, and then took every opportunity to personally insult the country’s reportedly unstable dictator because it played well politically at home.

If you shun them, they will shape up—this was the essence of President Bush’s non-diplomacy, as it was in regards to Iran, Lebanon and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The result? Cold War-style brinkmanship that has left the United States helpless.

The policy options left are dumb and dumber: Either passively accept Pyongyang’s defiant threats and ability to slip weapons-grade plutonium around the world, or launch an invasion that could spark a devastating attack on Seoul.

Thank you, Mr. President. I feel so much safer now that we have a wannabe cowboy in charge of the free world.

...there's more....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

POLITICS - Announcement: Bush Does NOT Make Mistakes

"Snow Says It’s ‘Silly’ And ‘Gratuitous’ To Ask If Bush Made Any Mistakes On North Korea" from Think Progress

The Washington Post reported that North Korea’s apparent nuclear test “may well be regarded as a failure of the Bush administration’s nuclear nonproliferation policy.”

Today, a reporter asked if President Bush believes he has made any mistakes with respect to North Korea. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow responded, “Oh, my goodness…it’s a silly question.” Later, he called the question “gratuitous.” Snow explained that “you need to give presidents the benefit of the doubt when national security is involved.”

This article has both a video & transcript of Tony Snow's comments.

POLITICS - Bush Administration = Warmongers

"US takes unilateral stance in new space policy" by Jeff Hecht, NewScientist.com

The US has issued a new national space policy that reflects a more aggressive and unilateral stance than the previous version issued a decade ago by former president Bill Clinton.

"There is definitely a difference in approach and mentality," says Theresa Hitchens, director of the Center for Defense Information in Washington DC, US.

The earlier statement said US operations should be "consistent with treaty obligations". But the new one, issued on Friday, flat-out rejects new agreements that would limit the US testing or use of military equipment in space.

The new version also uses stronger language to assert that the US can defend its spacecraft, echoing an air force push for "space superiority" made in 2004. The new policy states the US has the right "to protect its space capabilities, respond to interference, and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to US national interests".

And it seems to open the door to a new anti-satellite arms race. One idea already in development is a robotic spacecraft that could approach a satellite to check it out, then sabotage it if it seems a danger to US interests.

Another concern is plans by the US Missile Defense Agency to orbit a small fleet of rockets with heavy heads to act as kinetic-energy interceptors. Although nominally intended for missile defense, Hitchens told New Scientist they would also be effective anti-satellite weapons. So far, however, she sees no signs of "a bucketload of money going to war fighting in space".

Other puzzles remain. The document includes a long section on which government agencies will administer space nuclear power systems, which will be used if they "safely enable or significantly enhance space exploration or operational capabilities". The question is whether the systems are part of president George W Bush's plans for crewed missions to the Moon and Mars, or potential power plants for some new kind of military satellite.

Ever since the "Space Race" started enlighten people have recognized that allowing the arming of space, space weapons, do no one any good. A "Space Weapon Race" only endangers every nation on earth.

This action by the Bush Administration just shows how ideological and dumb they are, America has the right to do ANYTHING it wants without any restraints. There is no common good in the world community. This is an arrogant stance of an arrogant Administration.

POLITICS - Rats Abandon Sinking Ship

From a Newsgroup (misc.activism.progressive) post:

When loyal Republicans like George Will, William F. Buckley, Pat Buchanan, and now this guy (Doug McIntyre) have nothing good to say about Bush--- he has only fear-mongering in his toolkit to rally support for truly the worst President in our history.

This comes from Doug McIntyre. For those who are unfamiliar with McIntyre, he's a Republican radio talk show host on KABC, Los Angeles. McIntyre read this on his ABC radio program recently.

"I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. I believe George W. Bush is unarguably the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. A case can be made he's the worst President, period. I reached the conclusion he's either grossly incompetent, or a hand puppet for a gaggle of detached theorists with their own private view of how the world works. Or both."

"After September 11th, I believed President Bush when he said we would go after the terrorists and the nations that harbored them. I supported the President when he sent our troops into Afghanistan. I supported the war in Iraq because I believed Colin Powell at the UN, and trusted Tony Blair."

"The President said Iraq was an urgent threat, and after 9-11, the risk seemed too real. But in the months and years since shock and awe I have been shocked repeatedly by a consistent litany of excuses, alibis, double-talk, inaccuracies, bogus predictions, and flat out lies. I have watched as the President and his administration changed the goals, redefined the reasons for going into Iraq, and fumbled the good will of the world and the focus necessary to catch the real killers of September 11th. The President says the commanders on the ground will make the battlefield decisions, and the war in Iraq won't be run from Washington. Yet, politics has consistently determined what the troops can and can't do and any commander who does not go along with the administration is sacked, and in some cases, maligned."

"I was wrong about everything associated with Iraq. We're not in the "waning days of the insurgency." We're about to slink home with our tail between our legs, leaving civil war in Iraq and a nuclear-armed Iran in our wake. And Bin Laden is still making tapes. It's unspeakable. The liberal media didn't create this reality, bad policy did. James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Warren Harding were all failed Presidents, but the damage this President has done is historic. His mistakes have global implications, while the other failed Presidents mostly authored domestic embarrassments."

"And speaking of domestic embarrassments, let's look at President Bush's domestic record. He cut taxes and I like tax cuts. But tax cuts combined with reckless spending and borrowing is criminal mismanagement of the public's money. We're drunk at the mall with our great grandchildren credit cards. We traded tax and spend Liberals for borrow and spend Conservatives. Bush created a giant new entitlement, the prescription drug plan. He lied to his own party to get it passed. It was written by and for the pharmaceutical industry."

"So much for smaller government. In fact, virtually every tentacle of government has grown exponentially under Bush. Unless, of course, it was an agency to look after the public interest, the environment or worker's rights. His open border policy is a disaster for the wages of working people-- he debases the work ethic, "jobs Americans won't do!" He doesn't believe in the sovereign borders of the count he's sworn to protect. And his devotion to cheap labor for his corporate benefactors, along with his worship of multinational trade deals, makes an utter mockery of homeland security and calls into question his commitment to sovereignty itself."

I guess Bush and the follow-the-leader-GOP never learned the hypocrisy doesn't last long.

Friday, October 06, 2006

IRAQ - Letter Translation Opens Window to al-Qa'ida

"Letter Exposes New Leader in Al-Qa`ida High Command, 25 September 2006"

On 7 June 2006, American military forces executed an air strike on an al-Qa`ida safe-house near Baqouba, Iraq, killing Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, al-Qa`ida‘s commander in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi forces subsequently acquired numerous documents from that safe-house. On 18 September 2006, the Iraqi National Security Advisor, Muwaffaq al-Rabi`i, released one of those documents to Iraqi media. As part of an ongoing collaboration with the Department of Defense to declassify, collect, and disseminate documents that provide new insights into the internal functioning of salafi-jihadist organizations, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has made this letter available at http://ctc.usma.edu.

The captured letter sheds new light on the friction between al-Qa`ida’s senior leadership and al-Qa`ida’s commanders in Iraq over the appropriate use of violence. The identity of the letter’s author, “`Atiyah,” is unknown, but based on the contents of the letter he seems to be a highly placed al-Qa`ida leader who fought in Algeria in the early 1990s. `Atiyah's letter echoes many of the themes found in the October 2005 letter written to Zarqawi by al-Qa`ida’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri; indeed, it goes so far as to explicitly confirm the authenticity of that earlier letter. `Atiyah’s admonitions in this letter, like those of Zawahiri in his letter to Zarqawi, also dovetail with other publicly available texts by al-Qa`ida strategists.

This article contains a full translation of the letter which in itself is interesting reading, but difficult. For a letter that states "Dear brother, I will be brief and rely on God Almighty," it is anything but brief. It is full of so much religious reference that one has difficulty gleaning what is being said.

But for those who wish to get an idea of what al-Qa'ida is all about, I highly suggest reading the translation.

POLITICS - Go Right On Criticizing This Administration

Thanks to the Detroit Free Press

POLITICS - Excerpts For Thinking Americans

The following are excerpts from two articles I ran into on the UseNet. They should provoke thoughts for Americans that have not been brainwashed by either political party.

1) "The Tipping Point" by William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

Congressman Henry Waxman, minority chair for the House Government Reform Committee, released a massive batch of emails from Abramoff to various Washington DC power players. In one, dated March 18, 2002, Abramoff wrote, "I was sitting yesterday with Karl Rove, Bush's top advisor, at the NCAA basketball game, discussing Israel when this email came in. I showed it to him. It seems that the President was very sad to have to come out negatively regarding Israel, but that they needed to mollify the Arabs for the upcoming war on Iraq."

"The upcoming war in Iraq," wrote Abramoff casually, one year and two days before the invasion was undertaken. It seems those "few staff-level meetings" availed Abramoff of some significant information. How this criminal came to know war in Iraq was coming before the rest of the world did is something that deserves a great deal of intense scrutiny.

"Intense scrutiny" like hell! It is just more evidence that Bush intended to invade Iraq in the first place and 9/11 was only a convenient excuse.

2) "Clinton shows Democrats how to fight back" by Bill Press, Progresso Weekly

Most of the time, Democrats are too nice. They want to be friends. If somebody slaps them on the cheek, they remember their Gospel -- and offer them the other cheek.

Well, I'm sorry, but this isn't religion, this is politics. And there's a big difference.

In politics, if somebody slaps you on the cheek, you don't turn the other cheek. You punch him in the nose. Then you punch him in the gut. Then you kick him in the groin. Then you crack a chair over his head. Then, just to make sure, you jump up and down on top of him with both feet.

In other words, when Republicans get mean and nasty and accuse you of being soft on terror, don't cave in. The only way to win is to fight back.

If Democrats follow that advice, they'll win every time. If not, they don't deserve to win.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

POLITICS - 6 Reasons the GOP Can't Win the War on Terror

What follows is the article in its entirety with minor formatting changes. Also there is an error in his title, he list 6 reasons.

"Five Reasons Republicans Can't Win The War on Terror" by RJ Eskow, Smirking Chimp

The reports are in and the debate is over: The Republican Party, that bastion of hard right ideology, has fumbled the war on terror. The question is no longer whether conservatives are failures in the national security arena. What's important to understand now is why they've done such a poor job. While many factors contribute to their dismal record, there are five key reasons conservatives are ill-equipped to protect our nation.

First, a quick review of the facts: It's now clear that they ignored the flashing red lights warning of an imminent terrorist attack in 2001. We'll never know if 9/11 could have been prevented, but the evidence demonstrates that they failed to do their jobs properly to avoid it.

What's happened since then? Worldwide terrorist incidents have skyrocketed in the last three years alone. They've grown exponentially - from 165 in 2003, to 655 in 2004, then exploding to 11,111 in 2005. Holy Katrina! That's a lot of incompetence.

The President has declared a "Global War on Terror." The result is global collapse of antiterrorism.

The Iraq war has spawned a lot of anti-US hatred and created quite a few new terrorist recruits, as many predicted. Even so, Iraqi incidents only accounted for approximately 30% of the 2005 figure. Even if you exclude war-related acts, there were 44 times as many terrorist attacks last year as there were in 2001. Those figures reflect four years of GOP mismanagement.

But we haven't been hit since 9/11, comes the conservative response. That's like driving with your eyes shut and bragging that you haven't hit anything yet. Let's look at the facts: Our ports are no safer. We're only inspecting a tiny fraction of cargo containers coming into the US. And for all the theatrics at airport screening locations, the government has yet to respond to two reports that indicated their TSA efforts have made us no safer we were on September 10, 2001.

If this crowd stays in power, it's just a matter of time until the next attack.

That's the what. Now for the why. Here are the five reasons why the Republican record on national security is one of failure:

  1. They don't believe in government.

  2. National security is a government initiative. It requires an interlocking network of well-functioning agencies, led and staffed by the most competent people available. The Republican Party has been hijacked by extremists who, with Grover Norquist, want government small enough that "you can drown it in a bathtub" -- or the floodwaters of New Orleans.

    It's not an accident that I refer to last year's hurricane. Giving leadership of FEMA to a political crony was a typical Republican act, and organizations like FEMA have a critical role to play in protecting the American people. The GOP believes that government posts are favors to be given to their political pals, and contracts are candy to be given to their friends. (More about that later.)

    Most Americans understand that government has a role to play. This crowd doesn't. Their hostility toward the institution of government itself weakens their ability to use that institution to protect the American people.

  3. They help their contractors get rich off the American taxpayer, at the expense of the public.

  4. The Republicans have run the country as their private piggy bank, with favors to be dispensed to their rich friends. The Iraq war's been one such get-rich-quick scheme, and some of our soldiers have lost their lives so that Republican cronies can get rich. (See this report on faulty bullets, then read about how the guy who sold defective body armor for our troops spent $10 mil on a party for his daughter.) America's coffers have been plundered by GOP-aided profiteers.

    Don't believe me? Then ask yourself why Sen. Patrick Leahy's anti-profiteering bill has been defeated by the Republican leadership over and over, ever since the Iraq war started.

    Still don't believe me? Then read this story on how the hiring of TSA screeners turned into yet another get-rich-quick orgy for contractors, complete with anecdotes charging the government $1,500 to rent 14 extension cords for three weeks. (They also paid $5.4 million to hire an executive for nine months to do "event logistics" - I wonder which party gets his contributions.)

  5. They wear ideological blinders.

  6. People who use buzzwords usually aren't thinking. People who think in terms of old-fashioned ideological terms, like equating the anti-terrorist struggle to past world wars, are truly the ones with a "pre-9/11 mindset." The Republican Party is so infatuated with pie-in-the-sky think tank mentalities that it can't see reality. That's why Cheney thought we would be "welcomed as liberators" in Iraq, or why they thought we wouldn't need a post-war military presence. They've read too many papers by flaky right-wing professors.

    They need to take off the rose-colored glasses and take a cold, hard look at the real world - but they won't.

  7. Their "moderates" aren't moderate.

  8. The extremist ideology of the radical right has hijacked their party from top to bottom. The party's so-called "moderates," like John McCain, are themselves deeply in thrall to extremism. (The recent cave-in on basic American principles regarding torture and habeus corpus demonstrates that.)

    Even those Republicans who haven't yet drunk the Kool-Aid can't win or keep elective office without bending their knee to the cultists. That means that, when it comes to stepping outside their comfort zone and reaffirming our values, they won't do it. And, in the end, our Americanism - honored and respected worldwide - is our best weapon in the anti-terror fight. Sacrifice that, as they have done, and you've made us immeasurably weaker.

  9. They're "flip-floppers" - about everything except their own power and influence.

  10. Tragically, you can't take a Republican at his word when it comes to the fight against terror. Take Bill Frist. He was "for fighting the Taliban's supporters before he was against it." The GOP was against the Department of Homeland Security before it was for it. They wanted to kill Bin Laden before they outsourced the job at Tora Bora, then they didn't care whether they got him or not. And on and on and on ...

    Why the flippety-flops? Because today's GOP has shown that it will say or do anything it needs to do to stay in power. Guys like that will never lead a consistent and effective fight against terrorism. Their half-assed management of the Afghan war (a country from which we were attacked), proves it. Sadly, so do the results.

  11. They've politicized the war on terror.

  12. This is the crime for which today's Republican leadership will forever stand in disgrace. America's national security has never been a matter for partisan political gain. The nationwide unity after 9/11 was unprecedented. But the Republicans saw the opportunity to rescue an already-failing Presidency, and they jumped on it.

    The result was spectacular success in political terms, but profound failure in national security terms. Their relentless effort to exploit every circumstance for their own gain led to blunder after blunder. The most recent example is the British investigation into possible hijacking plans from that nation. Published reports indicate that British intelligence was disturbed by US interference in the case, and by our government's insistence that they move to make arrests before the investigation was complete.

    The infamous manipulation of "orange alerts" during the 2004 campaign is another such example. By using our national security apparatus as a political dirty trick, they undermined national confidence and unity at a critical time.

That's more than just a disgrace. In my book, it's treason. Loyal Americans of both parties need to throw this Congressional regime out of power in November. Its executive cabal - a syndicate that's deeper and more permanent than whoever happens to occupy the Oval Office - needs to get the boot in 2008.

Then, and only then, can we begin to rebuild our national security apparatus - and the principled and idealistic America it's designed to defend.

POLITICS - OPPS, Expectations on Hold, Again

"In Bill’s Fine Print, Millions to Celebrate Victory" by Thom Shanker, New York Times

Even as the Bush administration urges Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Republicans in Congress have put down a quiet marker in the apparent hope that V-I Day might be only months away.

Tucked away in fine print in the military spending bill for this past year was a lump sum of $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation’s capital “for commemoration of success” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not surprisingly, the money was not spent.

Now Congressional Republicans are saying, in effect, maybe next year. A paragraph written into spending legislation and approved by the Senate and House allows the $20 million to be rolled over into 2007.

The original legislation empowered the president to designate “a day of celebration” to commemorate the success of the armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to “issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe that day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

The celebration would honor the soldiers, sailors, air crews and marines who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it would be held in Washington, with the $20 million to cover the costs of military participation.

Well, so much for GOP expectations. Of course they still say things in Iraq are "improving" and will continue to say that in 2007, 2008, 2009.......

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

POLITICS - The Next "Unlawful Enemy Combatant" Could Be YOU

"Bush's Chilling New Definition of 'Unlawful Enemy Combatant'" by Elliot D. Cohen, BuzzFlash

George W. Bush has repeatedly warned, "Either you're with us or you stand with the terrorists." Now he has gotten through legislation that allows him to back it up. On Thursday, September 28, 2006, in a hastily drawn decision that will likely live in infamy, the Senate nodded assent to the Military Commissions Act (PDF).

According to this Act, an "unlawful enemy combatant" is to be defined as:
  • "An individual engaged in hostilities against the United States who is not a lawful enemy combatant."

This basically means that if a person is not a soldier in the service of a foreign government, but is nevertheless engaging in "hostilities" against the United States, then this person is an unlawful enemy combatant. Notice that this definition does not require that such a person be an "alien," which accordingly leaves open the possibility that this designation could also be applied to an American citizen.

This definition as contained in the approved version of the Act, is substantially broader than that included in an earlier version (PDF), according to which a person so designated must also be:
  1. Part of or affiliated with a force or organization-including but not limited to al Qaeda, the Taliban, any international terrorist organization, or associated forces-engaged in hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents in violation of the law of war.

  2. To have committed a hostile act in aid of such a force or organization so engaged; or....

  3. To have supported hostilities in aid of such a force or organization so engaged.

According to the definition approved by the Senate, you don't even have to be part of a terrorist organization. Nor does your "hostile" act have to be done to aid such a force; nor do you have to have supported such acts. Nor do you have to be in violation of the "law of war." Nor is there anywhere in the act where the term "hostilities" has itself been defined. For example, is an anti-war activist an unlawful enemy combatant? What about an American journalist who publishes leaked information damaging to the Bush administration? What about an anti-Bush blogger? In short, the definition is broad (and vague) enough to include any American citizen who is acting in a way the President deems "hostile" to the United States. As such, it is difficult to imagine a single piece of legislation with greater potential to undermine freedom and democracy in America.

Bold-blue emphasis mine

Aha yes, Fascist America at its peak. All hail El Douche!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

POLITICS - Ah Yes, GOP, the Party of Morals (again)

"The Republican Protection Racket" by Cenk Uygur, The Huffington Post

Is there anything these Republicans won't cover up? Duke Cunningham took millions of dollars in bribes. The people who were buying him off bought him a yacht called the Duke-Stir. He had a bribe menu on Congressional letter head. How many ethics investigations? Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Bob Ney took gifts and favors from Jack Abramoff. He has confessed and is about to go to prison. How many ethics investigations? Zero. None. Not one.

Then there is Hastert's shady land deal. Bill Frist's insider trading. Tom DeLay's money laundering. The list goes on and on. Every one of them had their ass covered by the rest of their Republican colleagues, crooks, whatever you want to call them.

When Joel Hefley, a conservative Republican from Colorado, had the temerity to actually do an ethics investigation of Tom DeLay - he was removed. Can't have it. You can't have any ethics investigations in a place with no ethics. The house will fall in.

Well, now it has. Because they've gone too far. This time they covered for a sexual predator. Mark Foley, Republican of Florida, was caught sending very explicit sexual messages to 16 and 17 year old boys who worked as pages for Congress.

...there's more.

Yes, again, another find example of the party that claims to be the natural moral leaders of America. Part of God's army against the immoral, America hating, traitorous, Left.

Listen to what we say! Ignore the man behind the curtain pulling the levers.

POLITICS - As the Sun Sinks on the Right

"Five Stages of (GOP) Death" by Nancy Greggs, Democratic Underground


There was no vote tampering, voter suppression, or vote machine manipulation in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Bush won fair and square.

No one could possibly have anticipated using commercial airlines as missiles. No one could possibly have anticipated that the levees would be breached. No one could possibly have anticipated that there would be a strong insurgency.

There was no cherry-picking of intelligence. We all honestly believed that Iraq had WMDs.

We never implied that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9-11.

We never implied that we knew where the WMDs were.


If you disagree with the Administration’s policies you are not a patriot!!!

If you don’t get behind the president, you are aiding and abetting the enemy!!!

The anti-war crowd is jubilant every time a US soldier is killed in Iraq, because they want the terrorists to win!!!


Just give up a few of your freedoms, and we’ll protect you in exchange. Trust us.

Tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations will trickle down to the middle class, so it’s a win-win situation. Trust us.

Outsourcing American jobs will actually mean more high-paying jobs here at home. Trust us.

Let us put the country into debt – it will actually strengthen the economy. Trust us.

Spying on American citizens is unlawful, but don’t you want to give the president the tools he needs to keep America safe? Trust us.

Torture is a terrible thing; but isn’t it worth it, if it saves American lives? Trust us.


N.I.E. Report: “US War in Iraq Fuels Terrorism”....

Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial” hits bookstores....

Abramoff emails show ties to White House stronger and more far-reaching than previously reported....

Foley resigns amidst sex scandal involving under-age boys; higher-ups implicated in cover-up....

Vital information withheld from 9-11 Commission starts surfacing....

Polls show steadily increasing gains for Democrats within weeks of mid-terms....


November 7, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

POLITICS - Congress Pulls Off It's Usual Slight-of-Hand

UseNet: On Sat, 30 Sep 2006 08:08:57, in sdnet.politics "Brian David Smith" wrote:

Congress votes NO on 700-mile border fence.

Agreed, late Friday Congress approved the construction of 700 miles of fence along the U.S.- Mexico border.

HOWEVER, they did NOT fund the fence. They only voted for a down payment, but nothing near fully funding the fence.

Bottom line, until the money is on the barrel, there is NO fence.

Once again, the do-nothing Congress has let the American public down.

There is NO fence. There is no money for the fence. All this approval did was made it look as if Congress had actually done something about the border problem.


No funding effectively says NO.. Until all the money is there, Congress votes NO on the fence, and NO on border control. Once again Congress sucked up to big business that wants the cheap illegal alien labor.

The vote Friday is a political deception perpetrated by Congress.

It is a FAKE !!

The actual issue here is not the border fence itself, it is about Congress voting to have the fence (look voters we are doing something about our boarders) on one day and loudly advertising it, but voting NOT to fully fund it.

Of course this could not possibly have anything to do with mid-term elections coming up. Na (sarcasm off)