Sunday, October 31, 2004


Tommy Franks is another lying POS

Gen. Tommy Franks, former commander of US Central Command, has been whoring around the idea, to anyone dumb enough to listen, that the US did not let Osama Bin Laden escape at Tora Bora in November 2001. Corrente has an excellent precis (mostly of other people's work on the subject) that refutes (actually, totally demolishes) that pathetic excuse.

Basically, Bush ordered Franks to start preparing for an invasion of Iraq at the exact moment that Bin Laden was escaping along with Pakistanis who were being permitted to drift away from Tora Bora. As Corrente writes, "Bush took his eye off the ball."

And Osama Bin Laden's tape on Friday is supposed to have been good for Bush? It's more like a thank-you note to our glorious president for letting him get off scot-free for murdering 3000 Americans.

David Brooks is a loathesome piece of shit

David Brooks, in his Saturday New York Times Op-Ed column (and why oh why does the Times still waste space on this specious hack?) reveals himself to be a hate-consumed, utterly incoherent concocter of backwards drivel that proves the exact opposite of what he thinks it does.

He says, of Osama Bin Laden,
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. What we saw last night was revolting. I suspect that more than anything else, he reminded everyone of the moral indignation we all felt on and after Sept. 11. Here was this monster who killed 3,000 of our fellows showing up on our TV screens, trying to insert himself into our election, trying to lecture us on who is lying and who is telling the truth. 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. Here was this deranged killer spreading absurd theories about the American monarchy and threatening to murder more of us unless we do what he says. One felt all the old emotions. Who does he think he is, and who does he think we are? One of the crucial issues of this election is, Which candidate fundamentally gets the evil represented by this man? Which of these two guys understands it deep in his gut - not just in his brain or in his policy statements, but who feels it so deep in his soul that it consumes him? It's quite clear from the polls that most Americans fundamentally think Bush does get this. 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. 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.
Mr Brooks: If Bush "gets it" - why the goddamn fuck has he not spent the past 3 years doing nothing but going after Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Why did he waste hundreds of billions of dollars going after Saddam Hussein, who had nothing whatsoever to do with Sept. 11? Why is Osama Bin Laden still out there threatening us?

Brooks goes on to defame John Kerry:
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." Kerry continued with a little riff from his stump speech, "I am absolutely confident I have the ability to make America safer." Even in this shocking moment, this echo of Sept. 11, Kerry saw his political opportunities and he took 'em. There's such a thing as being so nakedly ambitious that you offend the people you hope to impress.
You despicable, utterly worthless piece of shit. You naked fraud, you shameless panderer for George Bush. Why don't you mention, you filthy toad, that it was actually George Bush who politicized this by refusing to permit Kerry to be briefed on the tape, even though he himself had heard it Friday morning? That the basic rules of the campaign have always been that the challenger hears about this kind of thing soon after the incumbent does? Why do you bring that up, Mr. Brooks, hmm? Why don't you bring up Kerry's second statement? Why don't you ask Bush why he wouldn't let Kerry be briefed, why he tried to sandbag his opponent in violation of every imaginable rule of fairness? Why don't you ask him why he has not pursued Osama Bin Laden with even half (if that much) of the energy and expenditure he has poured out in his vendetta with the toothless Saddam Hussein? Where's your outrage at the abominable incompetence displayed in the post-invasion occupation of Iraq, starting with the decision not to send enough troops to safeguard the sites containing the weapons that were the ostensible justification for invading?

David Brooks, of course, never asks these questions, let alone attempts to answer them. Like the failed president he pimps for, he has no answers for any of them, nor does he really give a shit. He just wants to blather on about how awful John Kerry is, never once realizing that the man who really does not care about Osama Bin Laden is George Bush.

Kerry can't "prove" he will keep us safer - and he doesn't have to (besides which, Bush has proven he can't)

Pundits opine that John Kerry is preferred by most voters this year on the economy and other domestic issues. And, indeed, there is no question that George W. Bush has been a disastrous president in this regard. We have shed jobs, piled on record deficits, and seen a drastic shift in the distribution of income. So why is Kerry not simply blowing this failed president out of the water?

Supposedly this is because voters feel unconvinced that Kerry will protect us better than Bush. They are said to trust Bush more than Kerry when it comes to dealing with the threat of terrorism. They don’t think Kerry has proved that he could do better than Bush.

Well, how could he? How could anyone prove that? What evidence would serve to make the case? As long as the press keeps spinning Bush as a “strong leader” in this regard, as long as they keep repeating Bush’s talking points on this issue, Kerry has no chance to prove it.

But why should he have to? If, in 1999, there had been documented proof that Al Qaeda was about to attack the United States, who would have seemed more capable of dealing with it? A one-term Texas governor with no experience of any kind in foreign affairs – or a two-term sitting Vice President with almost 8 years of CIA and Defense Department briefings, well experienced at the highest levels of international relations, an expert on terrorism, a heartbeat from a president who had been dealing with terrorism from just about his first day in office?

And yet, you say, Bush has the experience now. But Kerry has spent his entire term in the Senate dealing with these issues. He has a tremendous amount of experience dealing with terrorism; so much so, in fact, that I do not understand at all why he has not made more of it. He brought down BCCI, the terrorist-financing bank (with which, incidentally, George W. Bush had ties). He exposed our dealings with the Contras – terrorists if there ever were any, despite Reagan’s fantasy that they were the “moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.” He wrote a book on terrorism in 1997. He has spent his entire adult life dealing with threats to the United States. He has survived combat, he has killed with his bare hands. Why would anyone think he would be less than 100% committed to defending us from terrorism?

Okay, I admit it. He can’t prove that he will defend us. Satisfied?

But George Bush has proved that he can’t and won’t defend us. Osama Bin Laden’s Friday tape, far from making the case that we need George Bush in the Oval Office, is the final definitive prove that we need him as far from the presidency as we can throw him. Osama Bin Laden attacked the United States. He murdered 3000 Americans. Why is he still at large making his taunting, threatening tapes? Because George Bush let him go free (whether specifically at Tora Bora or not is irrelevant). Because George Bush would rather conquer Iraq – which did not attack us – and which could not have attacked us. Nor could they or would they have given nuclear weapons to terrorists – because Iraq did not have any nuclear weapons to give. (Sadly, the terrorists are now getting their hands on what remnants of Saddam’s nuclear programs existed – because Bush did not invade Iraq with sufficient troops – or suitable orders – to secure Saddam’s weapons sites.)

We are not safer for ignoring Al Qaeda to go after Saddam Hussein. We are less safe. Yes, Saddam is not in power. Yay. But he was not a threat to us! If your entire argument is, I can keep America safer – who cares about Iraq? Bush waffles between saying the invasion was justified to remove a threat to us and because it freed the Iraqis from a terrible dictator. True, Saddam Hussein was a terrible dictator (although no more so than when Reagan sent Donald Rumsfeld to shake his hand in 1983 or when we backed him in his war against Iran.)

But if we really care about the Iraqi people, then it’s not about protecting us, so Bush loses his only possible claim to hang on to the office he has shown he doesn’t deserve (besides which, with the chaos and violence in Iraq getting worse every day, Bush has clearly lost the peace even if he won the war, since, Saddam's removal aside, the Iraqis really aren't that much better off at the moment). And if it is about protecting us, then why go after Saddam while letting Osama go free? Either way, Bush has screwed up the job of protecting this country.

So, Kerry can’t prove he’s the man. But Bush has proven he’s not the man. Why take a chance? Get rid of the incompetent one and give the job to Kerry. Bush has manifestly failed to protect us. Kerry’s entire career indicates he won’t fumble the ball, won’t rest until we’re as safe as he can make us. Seems like no risk at all to me.

Too bad the press won’t let you think this.

What did Osama's tape really mean?

In their haste to spin it either pro-Bush or anti-Bush, anti-Kerry or pro-Kerry, the ovine pundits have essentially missed the entire point of Osama Bin Laden's Friday tape: it doesn't really threaten the United States. Indeed, it reminds me of the deal Al Qaeda offered the European Union: stay out of the Middle East, and we'll leave you alone. A kind of reverse protection racket, basically.

Matthew Yglesias thinks we should at least consider it:
The best reason for doubting it's a good idea is, I think, simply that there's no good reason to trust Osama on this topic, so taking him up on his "offer" is a bit of a moot point. Some men you just can't reach. On the other hand, insofar as this is defensible as a policy on its own terms, the fact that it at least might work as an anti-terror strategy has to enter into the balance of considerations. It's a tough question, I think, and one that deserves to be debated seriously and honestly and not just swept under the rug.
I'm not so sure. While it may be true that all Al Qaeda really wants is to eliminate all Western influence in and contact with the Middle East, is that really "all" they want? The United States has important interests in the Middle East - Israel, for one. Would a Middle East shorn of all American influence really be safe for Israel?

Also, this ignores the reason why Al Qaeda wants us out of there: they wish to restore the Muslim caliphate of old. But the caliphate once extended into Spain, and as Muslims inhabit more and more parts of the world, what would stop Al Qaeda from claiming sovereignty over every territory where Muslims lived?

Next, there's the point that if one terrorist group can essentially blackmail its way to success - stay out of whatever area we claim as exclusively ours and we won't kill you - what's to stop every terrorist group on the planet from observing and learning the only appropriate lesson?

Finally, there's the ultimate question of simple justice. Whatever the legitimate grievances of Arabs and Muslims, Al Qaeda murdered almost 3000 Americans. Osama Bin Laden is a mass murderer on a disgusting scale. He should not have been allowed to get away with it.

Osama bin Laden's "Gift" to George W. Bush. Please vote him out of office as soon as you can.

I can't say this any better than AMERICABlog does, so I'm just going to borrow their post:
Osama is a "good" "gift," GOP & Bush campaign say

by John in DC - 10/30/2004 04:54:21 PM

The Bush campaign has called it a "good" thing that Osama bin Laden is still alive and kicking and threatening to make American blood fill the streets our our country, according to a story in today's NY Daily News. And a senior GOP strategist has called Osama's reappearance and threats to kill thousands more Americans "a little gift."

This election is over, folks.

George Bush's campaign thinks Osama being alive and threatening to kill even more Americans is "good." A top GOP strategist thinks Osama planning to launch an even-bigger-September-11 is "a little gift." I'm glad the 3,000 who died on September 11 were able to give this good gift to the Bush campaign, after all, without their deaths Bush wouldn't have this good gift to enjoy only 3 days before the election.

How serious a matter is this? Imagine if John Kerry's people had called Osama plotting to kill thousands of Americans "good"? Imagine if a top Democratic strategist had called Osama bin Laden "a little gift"?

This needs to be the talk of the Internet. Make George Bush explain to the American people why Osama's threats to make blook run in American streets are "good" "gifts".
I know this election has become a bloodsport. I know both sides want desperately to win. I know perspective tends to vanish when time is short and all you can think of is hoping to prevail on Tuesday.

But come on, folks, is there nothing the Bush team won't say or do in order to win? How indecent, even nauseating, is this? They're actually happy that Osama bin Laden - whom their candidate has repeatedly failed to bring to justice - is still out there making his awful threats? Gosh, if he did launch another attack and kill even more Americans, would they be ecstatic?

They failed, people. George Bush swore on Sept. 17, 2001, to bring Osama bin Laden to justice - and he failed. And now his campaign people are chortling and celebrating that failure.

Don't reward this sickening glee, please. If it doesn't traduce the memories of the victims of 9/11 - victims George Bush uses in his campaign - I don't know what does. We really can do better. For the sake of those who died in the World Trade Center, and the rest of us, we better do better.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


Despicable beyond belief: Bush deliberately did not have Kerry briefed about OBL tape

They should be - oh, I don't know - something horrible. Even for a fuckpig like Bush, this is scummy.

From Talking Points Memo:
"The Bush campaign is trying to use the OBL tape to slap the Kerry campaign around, knock them off their stride, and argue that for Kerry now even to mention anything about the president's failure to bag bin Laden is the height of shamefullness.

"The president's communications director even told reporters that the only acceptable thing would be for John Kerry to observe a twelve or more hour moratorium on attacks on the president, even though the president should be allowed to continue attacking John Kerry.

"That is what they're playing for. (That's also the reason the Bush campaign didn't allow the Kerry campaign to be briefed on the soon-to-be-released tape until late in the day. The president knew about it early in the morning.)"
Boldface mine.

Friday, October 29, 2004


Kerry is too northeastern and too liberal? Why isn't Bush too southern and too conservative?

Listening to some North Carolina journalist on CSPAN tonight following John Edwards's rally in Raleigh, and the guy says Edwards isn't helping Kerry in NC because of Kerry. He repeats the usual drivel that Kerry is "too northeastern and too liberal for North Carolina." And that's true, he probably is.

But isn't George Bush too southern and too conservative for New York? And Illinois? And Pennsylvania? And California? That's 120 electoral votes right there, in just four states. Bush has to win nearly every southern and prairie state to make up for that. How come nobody - and I mean nobody - ever - and I mean ever - mentions that?

Whenever they call Kerry "too northeastern and too liberal," that is clearly meant as a criticism. It's a defect in Kerry. Obviously he can't change his geography (well, he could - look at Bush, who was born in Connecticut, before moving to Texas and glomming that fake Texan accent), but the idea is, he could - and should - be less liberal.

But why shouldn't Bush therefore be less conservative? They keep pushing the line that Kerry's the 4th most liberal senator (which has been disputed). Why don't they ever mention that Bush is by far the most conservative president we've ever had? Why is okay to be from Texas but not from Massachusetts? Why is it okay to be extremely conservative but not mildly liberal?

I'm just asking. Because I have no idea why.

Fuggin' CNN - Treating Bush the candidate like Bush the president

I'm watching Anderson Cooper on CNN. He's talking, while in the background is a shot of Kerry at the start of his rally tonight in Miami. Then Cooper says, We go live to President Bush's rally (not sure where - maybe Ohio? Doesn't matter.)

Anyway, this burns me up. CNN always cuts to Bush live, no matter what's going on elsewhere. If Bush farts on an airport runway, CNN covers it live. This kind of deference, appropriate for a president, is not appropriate for a candidate. When George Bush is talking to the nation about the war in Iraq, he's the president. When he's addressing a campaign rally, he's not. CNN should know better than to conflate candidate with president.

John Kerry the candidate is 100% equal to George Bush the candidate. Cover one, cover both. Exactly the same.

CNN is not Karl Rove's personal channel, and it should stop acting like it.

In Our Hands

This is what may be one of John Kerry's final commercials before next Tuesday. I especially like the graphic image of Kerry at the very end. Love to use that for wallpaper.

Whatever happened to 'Dead or Alive'?

Remember this? George Bush probably wishes you didn't.
Bush: bin Laden 'prime suspect'

September 17, 2001 Posted: 8:01 PM EDT (0001 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Osama bin Laden is the "prime suspect" in last Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and the United States wants to capture him , President Bush said Monday.

Speaking with reporters after a Pentagon briefing on plans to call up reserve troops, Bush offered some of his most blunt language to date when he was asked if he wanted bin Laden dead.

"I want justice," Bush said. "And there's an old poster out West… I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.'"
Of course, the media's now whoring that today's OBL tape is a plus for Bush, and I suppose if they keep whoring it, maybe people will start to believe them. But why should that be so? Why should the media play this as anything other than another defeat for America in the "war on terra"? How is Bush keeping us safer, how is he a "strong leader," if the man responsible for the worst attack we've suffered on our soil in 60 years is still out there, still threatening us? I don't get it.

What's worse: Allowing something bad to happen or stopping something good from happening?

I think this is what it comes down to: would you rather imprison an innocent man or free a guilty one? Would you rather permit a disfranchised felon to vote illegally or prohibit an eligible voter from voting legally?

I think this is one of the things that distinguishes liberals from conservatives, Democrats from Republicans. Obviously I don't have any survey data to back up what I think, and equally obviously there are going to be spillovers, especially at the margins. But I think this is a very good test of attitude.

For the most part (with probably many exceptions, of course), liberals (and, by extension, many Democrats) would prefer to keep innocent people out of prison, even if that means letting some guilty people walk as well. Conservatives (and, by extension, many Republicans) feel it is necessary to lock up all the guilty, even if that means occasionally an innocent person will be wrongly imprisoned. Liberals probably tend to overestimate how many guilty people are wrongly acquitted by the system, and it can be proven that conservatives definitely underestimate the number of the innocent wrongfully convicted.

By the same token, liberals and Democrats mostly prefer to let as many people vote as possible, acknowledging that there will be some voter fraud, but thinking it's better to let a few who shouldn't vote, vote anyway, rather than disfranchise even one single truly eligible voter. Conservatives and Republicans appear to think that no one who is not eligible to vote should ever be permitted to do so, no matter how many eligible voters must be barred from the polls in order to ensure that no voter fraud occurs.

We don't know for a fact how many criminals are walking free, how many innocent people are in prison; how many fraudulent voters are slipping past safeguards to cast a ballot, how many eligible voters are being wrongly kept from the polls. In the absence of verifiable, reliable data, all we have are our beliefs and attitudes. As a liberal and a Democrat, I prefer to err on the side of freedom: freedom from false imprisonment, freedom from being denied the vote.

I understand the opposing attitude: letting criminals go unpunished violates our belief in justice (but doesn't imprisoning an innocent man do so even more strongly? Although the retort then is, I don't believe innocent people are convicted, or at least not in sufficient numbers to justify letting the guilty go free). If people who shouldn't vote are permitted to do so, that dilutes the electoral power of truly eligible voters (but doesn't unfairly keeping eligible voters away make our system less democratic? Again, the retort will be, I simply don't believe we're disfranchising very many truly eligible voters).

There is also the observation that a lot of Republican efforts to supposedly counter electoral fraud are simply naked attempts to suppress the vote in minority, Democratic areas. Republicans will deny this, of course, but what do you expect? They will insist that Democrats aren't trying to broaden the franchise, merely win by committing massive fraud. I will deny that, of course, while admitting that any large-scale registration drive is inevitably going to sweep up some who aren't eligible. That doesn't imply intentional fraud, however, merely unavoidable mistakes, some sloppiness and overreaching in an attempt to reach as many former nonvoters as possible.

Again, it's a question of attitude. I would rather risk some fraud in an attempt to get as many people to vote as possible. Just as I would rather risk letting an occasional guilty person get away with it if that's what it takes to make sure that no innocent person is ever imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Maybe I'm a sap. I can live with that.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


So now, the Al Qaqaa explosives were taken to Syria?

But haven't they been spreading the "[whatever] to Syria" lie for 18 months? After we invaded and didn't find the WMD they swore they knew exactly where to find, didn't they then try to - well, lie - that somehow Saddam had spirited his only means of national defense out of Iraq and into Syria before we invaded? While we had our spy planes and satellites blanketing Iraq 24/7 looking for exactly this?

Now they're saying that's where the 380 tons went?

Repeat after me: Bull. Shit. Now try them together: Bullshit. There. That wasn't too hard, was it?

It's getting to be like a game of Clue: Professor Russia in Syria with the HDX and DMX...

Frum Dad for Kerry

(Note: "Frum" means a very observant, Orthodox Jew.)

This is a very interesting (and long; only snippets below) single-issue blog by a blogger who calls himself Frum Dad explaining why he thinks Orthodox Jews (and other religious types) should vote for Kerry. He touches mostly on gay marriage, Iraq, Israel, abortion, and the economy. It's mostly meant for observant Jews, but I think anyone will benefit from reading it.

(Note 2: A lot of this is extremely technical unless you're also an Orthodox Jew. But most of it is very clear and definitely worth reading for a very different, and well thought out, perspective. Please read the whole thing, even if you're not Jewish.)
I'm Frum. I'm voting for Kerry. Why you should, too.

The fact is, for a fair amount of time now I've been thinking about -- and working on -- a sort of large scale (a) general defense of political liberalism slash (b) reconciliation of the apparent contradiction between my Orthodox Judaism and my liberal political views slash (c) argument supporting Kerry slash (d) argument opposing Bush.

And it's coming along, in fits and starts and chunks and drafts and bits and pieces. It's vast and lyrical and impeccably reasoned, eloquently expressed, and elegantly structured. If I could ever get it finished I'm sure George W Bush himself would either vote for Kerry or at the least renounce the path he's been on for the past four years.


I've heard a lot of people that I normally respect say a lot of very sketchy things about how the Torah vote is clearly for Bush. Happily, almost all of these people wouldn't consider themselves absolute Torah authorities when it comes to most questions. They would, as is appropriate, seek what's called "Da'as Torah," or the opinion of a qualified posek or a rav, when making big decisions. Most of them would happily seek such advice when making even little decisions.

But somehow when it comes to politics, everyone's a gadol. Everyone considers themselves qualified to give over the Torah perspective, to state unequivocally that an Orthodox Jew, to be true to Torah values, must vote for Bush. And that's starting to drive me up the wall.


Even without the war costs, Bush has squandered what was the biggest surplus we'd had in a long time, if not ever. Bush has put us in a deficit so deep that even Kerry's not promising to get us out of it, just to pull us out as much as he can. If I had done to my personal finances what Bush has done to this country, I would be too ashamed to show my face in my own hometown, let alone ask for more money, or more time in charge of the public fisc.

Come to think of it, there is a Torah aspect to this discussion, and it's Yoseph again. During the seven fat years, you save. During the seven lean years, you use those savings to survive.

Kerry is accused of being a tax-and-spend liberal. But Bush is a spend-and-spend Republican. His policies essentially look at the fat years as a time to spend, to make them fatter. We've seen Bush's policies before, when they were called Reagonomics, and they didn't work then, either.

I will live off the fat of these Bush policies. Or maybe not me, since the tax cuts don't go down that low, but people I know might.

But Rachel will pay for these expenditures.

And when I think of it that way, it makes no sense. I would happily give up everything I own today if I could guarantee that Rachel would have no financial worries when she grows up.

But the policies of this administration have done exactly the opposite. Today gets, Tomorrow pays. But tomorrow is my little girl, and somehow I'm saddling her with my debt. While I type these words I have the baby monitor on in my office; I can hear her rustling in her sleep, I can hear her breathing.

And I can't bring myself to agree to the idea that she will be poor so I can be comfortable.
Thanks to MaxSpeak, You Listen! for the link.

A look into the future: Unarmored Hummer Veterans for Truth

Aug. 2036: Unarmored Hummer Veterans for Truth, a group of disgruntled former soldiers from the Iraqi War, announced a campaign against Democratic Presidental candidate William Jefferson Hung. Oscar Freep, a spokesgrumbler for UHVFT, complained that Hung, who has made his service in the war a centerpiece of his campaign, was lying about his experiences in Iraq. "I was in Iraq, and I never saw him do none of the stuff he says he done," Freep screeched at a press conference at UHVFT headquarters, a Denny's outside Murfreesboro.

Observers speculate that the Unarmored Hummer Veterans are really angry at Hung for his work in the anti-Iraqi war effort after he returned from his tour of duty...

And etc., etc., etc.

Wow. Says it all: "Four more years of George W. Bush is a potential disaster of such magnitude"

A "potential disaster"? What do they think his first four years were - a triumph of unprecedented proportion? It's not like we weren't warning everyone in 2000 that Bush was dangerously unqualified!

Anyway, this is a good, hard smackdown of the Dummy. Too bad The Flyer is only a weekly with a circulation of 55,000. But this is good.

Since its foundation in 1989, The Memphis Flyer has strictly adhered to a policy of not endorsing candidates for public office. Regular readers are aware of our unabashed support of progressive ideas and, by inference, the individuals who espouse them. But we have always felt we best serve the public interest by keeping an arm's-length distance from political candidates in the run-up to elections.

This year's extraordinary presidential campaign, however, requires our making an exception to our traditional non-endorsement policy. Four more years of George W. Bush is a potential disaster of such magnitude that we feel obliged to add our editorial voice to those of so many other newspapers around this country, and declare our support for John F. Kerry's candidacy for the presidency.

The reason is simple: President Bush's policies have failed this country on nearly every front, domestic and international. There is not room on this page to chronicle those failures in detail. Our relations with our allies are in shambles; our budgetary and trade deficits are out of control; corporate lobbies are setting environmental policy; our tax system is obscenely biased towards the rich; our civil liberties are at risk. The list goes on and on.


John Kerry has shown that he can be "a uniter not a divider." George W. Bush has clearly proven that he can't. Your vote for Senator Kerry next Tuesday will be a vote for a stronger, safer, and saner America.


Why didn't they guard the explosives? (It's the lack of accountability, stupid)

The military plan called for getting to Baghdad as fast as possible. Period. They didn't care about anything else. They ignored warnings of all the arms and explosives all over the country. They ignored warnings about a possible insurgency. They just wanted to capture Baghdad and overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Donald Rumsfeld wanted to validate his conception of the new US Army - light, mobile, quick (basically, the US Marine Corps writ large). War on the cheap. Quick & dirty. They didn't bring enough troops because they knew there would be no need for a lengthy occupation. The US would be welcomed as liberators. The Iraqis were just waiting to embrace democracy. Ahmad Chalabi told us so.

They saw in Iraq what they wanted to see. They not only ignored anyone saying otherwise, they punished anyone saying otherwise, the way they have tried to stifle all dissent since being in office (not just since 9-11).

They had no contingency plans, no Plan B just in case Plan A went wrong.

And no one has been held accountable for any of these lapses. No one. To me, the missing accountability is as important as the missing explosives.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Bush is trying to appeal to Democrats - Why can't Kerry try to appeal to Republicans?

Especially those Republicans who are not happy with Bush's fiscal irresponsibility? Kerry should make a TV commercial to be run in Republican areas within swing states specifically promising to Republican voters that with their help he will try to bring down the deficit and the national debt. He can point out that Bush is dumping his tax cut and war on their children and grandchildren and that he will stop it.

Maybe it's too late for this to do a lot of good, but I think it's worth a try.

9-11 mother to Bush: "You failed in your watch and on it."

I heard this woman today on the Randi Rhodes show on Air America RadioAir America Radio. Incredible. If that had been my child, and I later learned that Bush had done so little to even try to thwart the plot, I'd be on the Secret Service watch list today.
On the Thirty-third Anniversary of My Daughter’s Birth

9/11 Mom: An Open Letter to George W. Bush
t r u t h o u t | Letter
By Donna Marsh O’Connor, Liverpool, NY, Mother of Vanessa Lang Langer, WTC Tower II, 93rd floor

Friday 22 October 2004

cc: Senator John Kerry

Sometimes, Mr. Bush, it’s the smallest of details that makes everything click. The smallest of details. Right now, Mr. Bush, I am looking at your watch. It’s an item of clothing accessory and, unlike your other costumes, it is one that is particularly revealing.

On Halloween my daughter would be thirty-three years old. Her child would be almost three. Seven weeks before her twenty-ninth birthday, Vanessa, four months pregnant, ran from the falling towers of the World Trade Center. She did not make it. Her body, and in it the small body of her unborn child, was pulled from the rubble of the fallen towers on September 24th, just ten feet from an alley between Towers IV and V. It is important for me to tell you that she was on the phone to her uptown office five minutes after the first plane hit Tower I, explaining how she and others in Tower II were "safe."

Here is what you did regarding specifically the events of that morning: You vacationed before, during and after August 6th, the day you were handed the presidential daily briefing that said very clearly Vanessa Lang Langer and many other Americans were not safe. After the first plane hit tower I, the fact of the PDB did not click in your mind, did not cause you to act, to turn on a television, to contact the Pentagon. You sat so that you did not frighten a group of children. You did not worry about Vanessa’s brothers, or the young children who would certainly be directly affected by that event. You did not, like her fourteen year-old brother, rush from your seat and head for a phone, desperately trying to reach out, to fix, to save. You sat. You said, two weeks to the day before the general election of 2004, that you would protect Americans; that is, according to you, your primary responsibility as Commander-in Chief; no terrorists would get us, no terrorists would attack us (you said this with your arm extended), and I you said and I quote, on your watch. You said this with no sense of irony, no sense, no indication of how that text would sound to those you failed miserably to protect. You never notified officially the airlines, flight schools, persons who lived or worked in our tallest structures. You failed in your watch and on it.

Help me to understand this, because I was looking so closely at your watch. Five minutes, Mr. Bush. Five minutes. In that five minute space my sons lost a best friend, a future that included a loving sister and her future family. And my daughter lost the only thing in life I ever knew she really wanted. In fact, you stood on September 13th, on the rubble that covered my child’s bones and you began your move to have the war you had been planning since the beginning of your term in office. You, Mr. Bush, used my daughter’s murder to perpetrate the most hideous example of racism with the direst of consequences and you did it standing literally on her bones.

I am going to be very honest with you, Mr. Bush. I suspect that your culpability does not begin with your failures that day. It may be imprudent to mention this now because evidence is difficult to produce, but I am one of those pragmatists that rely on some basic fundamentals in crime solving. So let me say, when a crime is committed we are to find suspects by exploring motive, by looking at who had most to gain. You did, Mr. Bush, you and your friends at Halliburton and your friends in Saudi Arabia. And you have never answered for this. Don’t you think with all that has happened it would be in order for you to explain all you have come to gain, now and in the future, in terms of both money and power?

On September 11th, I was in Canada. When I heard the news I was walking in the street, enjoying what was to be the last of the purely beautiful sunny mornings of my life. My cell phone rang. And every second after that call was a mix of panic, dread, calm because this couldn’t be happening, and utter, absolute need to touch my daughter. What would you have done, Mr. Bush? What would your instincts have been? As a parent? I ask this because Senator Kerry during the second debate mentioned you are a “good father.” Are you? Have you made Americans, including your own daughters safer? Let me tell you what I wanted that morning. I wanted to fly to New York, to put my feet on my home soil as fast as humanly possible. I wanted to get to an airport and get home. Not an option for me, Mr. Bush. My husband and I just made it over the border before it closed. And on that morning, when no American citizen was allowed to fly in our airspace, on that morning and the mornings to follow, Americans were grounded. But bin Laden’s family flew. They flew home to Saudi Arabia. Before they were vetted by the F.B.I., by the C.I.A. And worst of all, you never were made to tell the truth about why that was so. I’m sorry, Mr. Bush. I will never understand this. Never. But still: your responsibility was then and is now to explain it. And to explain while that watch of yours leading up to the election is still ticking.

Right now there is a report from the C.I.A. that names explicitly your administration’s culpability regarding those events. Bipartisan leaders have requested, even demanded that those reports be turned over now to congress. You, according to reports, have refused to allow the C.I.A. to release them, just as you refused to testify under oath before the 9/11 commission. Now, Mr. Bush, release them. Before the election.

Right now, Mr. Bush, there are wide-spread rumors of vote tampering all over this country. And let me be clear about this: the rumors are that Republicans are benefiting from this tampering. Instead of enumerating our safeties, perhaps you could show some leadership, Mr. Bush, and demand that it stop now. Demand, Mr. Bush, that in this country our right to vote is protected. Because without that, we are not safe. Wouldn’t you agree?

After the 2000 election, where there were in Florida widespread problems with voting, Mr. Bush, voting in African American communities, you also did nothing. Absolutely nothing. You did nothing to counter the rumors that your brother handed you Florida. Nothing to smooth over what must have felt to African Americans (even if this was just rumor) the painful and the absolute, clear enactment of racial prejudice, not encoded in the ordinary acts of ordinary citizens, but in the very structure of the government that must be protective of all citizens of this country and the world. Why, Mr. Bush, did you fail to go to Florida and demand that these persons’ rights were protected? Or, at the very least, to apologize and guarantee that this would never happen again? What does America mean to you? In August of 2001, the United Nations hosted a conference on racism and Colin Powell, your Secretary of State wanted to attend. You did not allow this because, you said, we don’t have problems with racism in America. Do you see the pattern I am pointing at, here, Mr. Bush? In each case, the problems in this country have been enacted and exacerbated by you and you have attempted to cover them up. How could you do that to Colin Powell? How could you do that to another man?

When your children are young, Mr. Bush, they are often rebellious. They often admire you, but buck you at the same time. One way a mature parent feels this love is sometimes in the very ways in which your children buck you—by using the very part of your example they most admire. Vanessa confronted me every day of her life, especially on the days when she acted most loving. Parent/child things. The kind of things that all someday are made into family jokes when the child becomes a parent and sees that the very methods of touching and teaching and learning come from actions the parent used without thought. I never had that fully with Vanessa, the day when she consciously, because she was parenting herself, used my methods on another generation. But one day, almost there, Vanessa said to me, “Mom, you always made Christmases at home so beautiful…” and then she said, “And you taught us how not to be racist. You have no idea, Mom, how much racism there is and white people don’t always see it.”

I cannot tell you in shorthand, Mr. Bush, how important it was that she said those words before I lost her because unless she did, I would always have wondered, was I in any way that mattered a good enough parent to a woman who would die so young. I can tell you some of the methods I used with Vanessa and her brothers, but let me show you what you did that I had to explain and counter with all three of them:

You refused, when you met face-to-face with James Byrd’s daughter (You remember him, I am sure. He’s the African American man whose head was ripped almost off of his body in Texas by three white men who tied him to their pickup and dragged him along a Texas road.), you refused to sign a hate crimes bill as she begged you, crying. You didn’t even, as Molly Ivins reported, offer her a tissue. In that sense, Mr. Bush, you functioned as a very hostile branch of government, one that we might have predicted would not care if persons of color or persons of the other party were denied the right to vote.

But then, Mr. Bush, you used this tendency of yours, this refusal to get behind most Americans’ desires to eradicate racism by pretending Osama bin Laden is the embodiment of Saddam Hussein and vice versa. One man equals the other. They are both Arabs. Do you own a globe, Mr. Bush? Do you know where Afghanistan is? Do you know where Iraq is? Have you been there since the war began to examine what you have done to the civilians you were going to protect? Interesting detail (and perhaps a warning from G-d): Vanessa, when she got one of her first jobs, bought me a daily planner with a map on it. The map on this particular piece of canvas has in its center Afghanistan. To the right of this small country is a larger country—Iran and to the right of that—Iraq, also small, even smaller (geographically and metaphorically speaking) of Afghanistan. Just under Iraq, writ very large on my daily planner is Saudi Arabia. You know, Saudi Arabia, Mr. Bush. I know you do because the families of 9/11 who got together to bankrupt terrorism, those people who are bringing suit against the Saudis got no help from your administration. None. Though you should know that a coalition of the willing, including France, Spain, Great Britain and Germany have offered help to the families of 9/11 as they try to connect the events of 9/11 to the real perpetrators. There are connections between the Saudis and the terrorists, the terrorists who, no doubt, now that you have opened up a haven for terrorism in Iraq, are growing in number and resources. How much time do you have left, Mr. Bush? What is on your watch? Am I taking too long?

What costume will you wear on Vanessa’s birthday this year, Mr. Bush? Will you dress up as the head of the military or a foot soldier of Prince Bandar or Dick Cheney? Will you wear a white sheet with a cone head, Mr. Bush? Will you pretend you’re a plain speaking, Texas cowboy, with your shirt sleeves rolled up, proclaiming happily how safe you’ll keep us as you point to your watch? Will you dress up again as a good Christian? Will you dress up as a Republican? You are, you know, not a Republican. You have shamed Republicans. I know one thing, Mr. Bush: I am going to try very hard not to have you dress up anymore as Commander-in Chief. In more ways than I have articulated here, that costume does not fit you. I am a proud American citizen, Mr. Bush, who is disgusted that you try to portray yourself as patriotic. You have trampled every value of decency America ever held dear.

Do you believe in G-d, Mr. Bush, really? Really? Because, to me, as a flawed parent, flawed person, flawed citizen, I ask G-d to help me fix my flaws, to forgive me my trespasses. And here’s what I hear Him telling me:

Don’t let him speak for Me. If you do, it is you who fail to watch over your children. You.


Good point by Randi Rhodes about the Iraqi explosives

Bush's ostensible reason for going into Iraq was that Saddam had or was about to get WMD (Rumsfeld swore he already had them and that we knew where he was hiding them).

The IAEA was all over Iraq inspecting. They had inspected a lot of sites and had sealed many of them. We knew where they were inspecting, we knew what sites they had inspected and sealed. Including Al Qoqa (or however it's spelled).

So how come - our order of battle for the invasion did not include sufficient troops to secure all the sites on the IAEA's list? Including Al Qoq? How come? If you're invading because you're scared of Saddam's WMD, wouldn't a primary concern be securing all the sites where you suspect he's hiding them? Even if you think the WMD may not be there, wouldn't you want to secure all known sites first? But we didn't. The Pentagon did not bother because Rumsfeld's primary concern was Baghdad and overthrowing Saddam, and he did not want to risk his "small mobile force" doctrine by sending in too many troops. Even though he'd been warned he didn't send enough troops in to secure the country.

So - maybe WMD were not the true reason for the invasion? The Pentagon, whatever it may have said, did not act like it was the true reason.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


I'm sure Lynn Cheney is being outraged about this on all the networks

I must have just missed it.
Righties tell the Cheneys Mary can be cured

We're sure that Republicans will be shocked and appalled to learn that Mary Cheney is once again being dragged forward to make a partisan political point about homosexuality. Today, Concerned Women for America, the veteran right-wing organization founded by Beverly LaHaye, released "About Mary: An Open Letter to Dick and Lynn Cheney." Under the guise of praising the Vice President's daughter -- "Mary is, I'm sure, a fine young woman with many wonderful qualities," it says -- the missive actually uses her to make an argument about whether or not homosexuality is a choice.

Authored by Regina Griggs, executive director of a group called PFOX, or Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, the letter nods to the Cheney's paternal love, saying, "As parents, we can and do love our children unconditionally no matter who they are attracted to. Loving unconditionally allows us the freedom to maintain our values and viewpoints while keeping a bridge open to our children." But loving isn't the same as accepting. "Homosexual activists like those working on the Kerry-Edwards team want 'gay marriage' and civil unions in order to gain public affirmation," it says. "They think this will make them happy. Happiness requires hope, and real hope is the knowledge that many men and women overcome unwanted same-sex attractions every year, even those who believed at one time that they were born that way and had no choice." When Kerry mentioned Mary -- far more sympathetically -- her mother blasted it as "a cheap and tawdry trick," William Safire wrote an outraged column entitled "The Lowest Blow," and William Kristol vituperated against the Democratic nominee's "cheap, cold, calculating cynicism--and cruelty."

Granted, Concerned Women for America doesn't have anything near the same platform or responsibilities as a presidential candidate. But it is influential. One of its major figures is former Bush senior speechwriter Janice Shaw Crouse, who consults with the second Bush administration on UN family planning issues. If CWFA is just a fringe outfit that no one should pay attention to, we urge Republicans to say so. Otherwise, we eagerly await demands that the group apologize for once again pulling Mary from her non-existent closet.

Monday, October 25, 2004


Screw the media - before they screw us (if it's not too late)

This is from MSNBC's daily Imus-in-the-Morning newsletter:
Howard Fineman of Newsweek will be our guest at 7:29am eastern. Fineman will have more on the Clinton impact on the Kerry campaign. Fresh off heart surgery the former President will head to Florida later this week to continue his push to get John Kerry elected.. but, how sincere is he with his better half set for a run in 2008?
Gee, they're not whoring for Bush, are they? Show me the slightest bit of evidence that Bill Clinton (or Hillary, for that matter) has ever been less than 100% behind Kerry? Oh, I suppose Bill had his heart trouble deliberately so he could have an excuse not to campaign for Hillary's "rival"?

Give me a freakin' break, you scumbags, and climb out of your own egos for a microsecond. You're all playing the "I'm so much smarter than you" game, and it stinks. I know you can't stand it, but you're not the story! John Kerry has done more for America and Americans than every member of the media combined. Bill Clinton and Hillary - it's not even close. Rather than rise to their level, you have to tear them down to yours. Makes me sick.

Find your polling place!

There's never an excuse not to vote, but now, in the age of the "Internets," there's even less.
Find your polling place!

Sunday, October 24, 2004


What Kerry should say about protecting the US from terrorism

Kerry addressing the camera against a plain background:
"I can talk all I want about protecting this country, but that's all it is: talk. I can't prove I can protect this country from terrorism.

"But. I've already protected this country. As a young man, I risked my life and then came home and risked my future. Later, I prosecuted criminals and protected female victims of rape and assault. In the Senate, I investigated the illegal funding of the Contra death squads. I destroyed the terrorist-funding bank BCCI. I helped find out what happened to our MIAs and helped normalize relations in Vietnam.

"I've spent my entire life defending this country from its enemies. I've never wavered in that fight. So I don't have to promise I'll defend America, because I've never stopped defending America. And I never will.

"I'm John Kerry and I approved this message."


A mighty ad! ;)

Funny, funny, funny.

"Rent" Fahrenheit 9/11 for free starting Oct. 26!

Starting Tuesday, Oct. 26, you can rent Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 for no charge at participating video rental stores. To find a local participating store, click here.

I had been hoping Fahrenheit 9/11 would have come out on video in early September and be sold for only $10 in order to maximize its influence. But this may help a bit, although probably it will mostly appeal to people who are already anti-Bush and pro-Kerry. But every little bit helps.

Like everything else George W. Bush and his administration touches...

...this, too, turned into shit.
After Terror, a Secret Rewriting of Military Law


WASHINGTON - In early November 2001, with Americans still staggered by the Sept. 11 attacks, a small group of White House officials worked in great secrecy to devise a new system of justice for the new war they had declared on terrorism.

Determined to deal aggressively with the terrorists they expected to capture, the officials bypassed the federal courts and their constitutional guarantees, giving the military the authority to detain foreign suspects indefinitely and prosecute them in tribunals not used since World War II.

The plan was considered so sensitive that senior White House officials kept its final details hidden from the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and the secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, officials said. It was so urgent, some of those involved said, that they hardly thought of consulting Congress.

White House officials said their use of extraordinary powers would allow the Pentagon to collect crucial intelligence and mete out swift, unmerciful justice. "We think it guarantees that we'll have the kind of treatment of these individuals that we believe they deserve," said Vice President Dick Cheney, who was a driving force behind the policy.

But three years later, not a single terrorist has been prosecuted. Of the roughly 560 men being held at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, only 4 have been formally charged. Preliminary hearings for those suspects brought such a barrage of procedural challenges and public criticism that verdicts could still be months away. And since a Supreme Court decision in June that gave the detainees the right to challenge their imprisonment in federal court, the Pentagon has stepped up efforts to send home hundreds of men whom it once branded as dangerous terrorists.

"We've cleared whole forests of paper developing procedures for these tribunals, and no one has been tried yet," said Richard L. Shiffrin, who worked on the issue as the Pentagon's deputy general counsel for intelligence matters. "They just ended up in this Kafkaesque sort of purgatory."


The strategy became a source of sharp conflict within the Bush administration, eventually pitting the highest-profile cabinet secretaries - including Ms. Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld - against one another over issues of due process, intelligence-gathering and international law.

In fact, many officials contend, some of the most serious problems with the military justice system are rooted in the secretive and contentious process from which it emerged.

Military lawyers were largely excluded from that process in the days after Sept. 11. They have since waged a long struggle to ensure that terrorist prosecutions meet what they say are basic standards of fairness. Uniformed lawyers now assigned to defend Guantánamo detainees have become among the most forceful critics of the Pentagon's own system.

Foreign policy officials voiced concerns about the legal and diplomatic ramifications, but had little influence. Increasingly, the administration's plan has come under criticism even from close allies, complicating efforts to transfer scores of Guantánamo prisoners back to their home governments.

To the policy's architects, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon represented a stinging challenge to American power and an imperative to consider measures that might have been unimaginable in less threatening times. Yet some officials said the strategy was also shaped by longstanding political agendas that had relatively little to do with fighting terrorism.

The administration's claim of authority to set up military commissions, as the tribunals are formally known, was guided by a desire to strengthen executive power, officials said. Its legal approach, including the decision not to apply the Geneva Conventions, reflected the determination of some influential officials to halt what they viewed as the United States' reflexive submission to international law.

In devising the new system, many officials said they had Osama bin Laden and other leaders of Al Qaeda in mind. But in picking through the hundreds of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, military investigators have struggled to find more than a dozen they can tie directly to significant terrorist acts, officials said. While important Qaeda figures have been captured and held by the C.I.A., administration officials said they were reluctant to bring those prisoners before tribunals they still consider unreliable.

Some administration officials involved in the policy declined to be interviewed, or would do so only on the condition they not be identified. Others defended it strongly, saying the administration had a responsibility to consider extraordinary measures to protect the country from a terrifying enemy.

"Everybody who was involved in this process had, in my mind, a white hat on," Timothy E. Flanigan, the former deputy White House counsel, said in an interview. "They were not out to be cowboys or create a radical new legal regime. What they wanted to do was to use existing legal models to assist in the process of saving lives, to get information. And the war on terror is all about information."

As the policy has faltered, other current and former officials have criticized it on pragmatic grounds, arguing that many of the problems could have been avoided. But some of the criticism also has a moral tone.

"What several of us were concerned about was due process," said John A. Gordon, a retired Air Force general and former deputy C.I.A. director who served as both the senior counterterrorism official and homeland security adviser on President Bush's National Security Council staff. "There was great concern that we were setting up a process that was contrary to our own ideals."

The rest of the article is very long. But the point is, they were so gung-ho to take “strong action” that they didn’t think it through, didn’t consider the consequences, didn’t subject their ideas and assumptions to any kind of critical analysis, kept it all secret – and then wondered what went wrong. As with every other aspect of their approach to “fighting terror” protecting the country. They’ve confused motion for action and tried to believe that any step was better than no step and that good intentions would count for all. But given their total ineffectiveness. I’m not even sure we can credit them with good intentions. So far, no one has been held accountable for the fact that not a single person detained at Guantanamo has actually been convicted of anything. At what point does incompetence turn into malevolence?

Star-Ledger (NJ): John Kerry for president

New Jersey's biggest paper. This is good for Kerry, although he was always going to win NJ.
John Kerry for president

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, during another presidential debate, challenger Ronald Reagan dared voters to ask themselves: "'Are you better off than you were four years ago?... Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we're as strong as we were four years ago?"

Good questions, then and now. The answers for 2004, overwhelmingly, are no.

No, we're not better off than we were four years ago. In four years, the nation's budget surplus has been erased, and the national debt has soared to a staggering $7.4 trillion.

Nor are we as respected in the world as we once were and should be still. Three years ago, after 9/11, the entire world was in support of the United States, but that good will, too, has evaporated in the face of a foreign policy that could best be described as "'Cowboy Up."

Are we as secure and as strong as we were? No. Revelations of repeated intelligence failures, ones that continued long after 9/11, give us little comfort, even today, that we are well-protected.

George W. Bush has squandered his presidential inheritance: the reservoir of respect America gained in the 20th century, in great measure for its heroism in World Wars I and II and its leadership during the Cold War. At the same time, the Bush administration has rapidly eroded environmental and social welfare reforms achieved in previous administrations of both Republicans and Democrats.

President Bush does not deserve re-election. Sen. John Kerry, with his considerable international experience and sharp analytical mind, offers the country a chance to start afresh at home and abroad.For these and other reasons offered on the following page, The Star-Ledger endorses Kerry for president.

Three years after the recession of 2001, there are still 1 million fewer jobs than there were before it began, even as productivity has grown. Corporate profits are up, but growth is sluggish and oil prices, well, they are nothing if decidedly not sluggish.

George Bush's fiscal record in the view of even the ultra- conservative Club for Growth is "abysmal." John Kerry, at least, offers some sanity in promising to revoke the tax cuts lavished on those who earn more than $200,000.

The Bush record on the environment and science also is disheartening. More than 100 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 48 Nobel laureates have complained of the administration's attempts to distort, manipulate or ignore scientific evidence to influence policies on birth control, global warming, endangered species, stem cell research and on and on.

John Kerry, who 20 years ago was leading campaigns to solve problems such as acid rain, has pledged to end obstacles the Bush administration has created to meaningful stem cell research and has proposed a program to ease America's dependence on Middle East oil, important for the nation's security as well as the environment.

Bush's proposals to privatize Social Security and health insurance are radical departures that could create an America where only some people have access to medical coverage and a sense of financial security in retirement. It remains to be seen whether Kerry's ambitious proposals are viable, but, significantly, they do not abandon the concept that health care and the welfare of the elderly are proper venues for government concern.

What concerns us the most about the possibility of a second Bush administration, however, is the president's reckless, know-nothing approach to foreign policy as exhibited in the disastrous invasion of Iraq and his arrogant disregard for the nation's longtime allies.

It's well-established that the president and his advisers were itching to seek regime change in Iraq long before 9/11. The overriding desire to invade Iraq diluted the nation's efforts in Afghanistan to rout al Qaeda and capture Osama bin Laden.

That all-consuming goal led the Bush administration to accept flawed assessments of Saddam Hussein's threat to the United States and of what would be required to liberate Iraq.

As president, Kerry will have more options available to him than Bush to find a way to make the nation's investment in lives and resources in Iraq worthwhile.

This is true, in part, because Kerry has displayed a willingness to accept the notion that America's efforts to "democratize" Iraq are in grave peril. A president who accepts reality, rather than one who refuses to amend in any way his stubborn ideology, is more likely to find workable solutions.

Most important, John Kerry is more likely to find partners throughout the world than a president who has snubbed "old Europe," has abandoned numerous international efforts supported by earlier administrations and even discarded the Geneva Conventions as not applicable to the United States. It's not likely that nations such as France or Germany will commit troops to Iraq, but they surely would be more willing to consider assisting in the rebuilding of Iraq with George Bush gone.

Yes, there's a transition period when a new president is installed, and it could be dangerous. It is important to remember, however, that John Kerry with his years in the U.S. Senate would bring considerably more experience to the White House on day one than, say, a former governor of Texas.

Four years before Sept. 11, Kerry's book "The New War" described the changed world landscape at the end of the Cold War and, in part, addressed the specter of Islamic terrorism. Kerry would not enter the White House unprepared.

Kerry is knowledgeable about the world and the economy. He has demonstrated an ability to absorb information, focus on solutions and, yes, change his mind if the facts demand that he do so. George Bush has not.

For his political values and his realistic approach to the grave challenges ahead, we strongly endorse John Kerry for president.

Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved.


Trenton (NJ) Times: Kerry for president

Okay, so it's not a surprise, and it's also not that big a deal considering Kerry's going to win NJ anyway. But it's my local paper (good local paper, too), so it's nice.
Kerry for president

Sunday, October 24, 2004

An election involving an incumbent president is necessarily a referendum on his stewardship. That's certainly true this year, as President George W. Bush runs for a second term on the record of his first.

The record is unacceptable. The policies of the Bush administration have been bad for the nation, weakening national security in the name of strengthening it, and bad for ordinary Americans, who have seen the economy go sour and the environment endangered.

We believe Mr. Bush's opponent, Sen. John F. Kerry, would be better equipped by temperament, character and conviction to lead the United States out of the foreign and domestic predicaments in which it finds itself. The senator is a thoughtful man of proven courage, patriotism and ability to lead. We recommend his election.

When Mr. Bush campaigned in 2000, he pledged to be "a uniter, not a divider." Yet, since winning election by the narrowest Electoral College margin in modern times while losing the popular vote, he has presided over a public that is increasingly polarized and far too ready to demonize those holding opposing views. Much of the blame for the bitter political climate that has swept across America has to be laid at his doorstep.

It didn't begin that way. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush was in fact a uniter, speaking words of comfort and inspiring and reflecting America's resolve to defend itself. His decision to send U.S. forces into Afghanistan to unseat the despots who had sheltered al-Qaida was the right one, and the military campaign initially was adequately manned, planned, fought - and supported internationally.

Then the administration's anti-terrorist efforts veered off the track. President Bush resisted two obvious steps - to create a Department of Homeland Security and summon a bipartisan commission to investigate why we were so vulnerable on 9/11 - before reversing his positions under pressure. He refused, and still refuses, to draw on the great reservoir of patriotism in the country by asking for shared sacrifice. And, in a tragically misguided blunder promoted by his neocon advisers, he rushed America into a pre-emptive war against Iraq for reasons that have changed like a kaleidoscope as one presumption after another has been discredited. He did this without adequate planning or preparation and without the support of a global alliance of the kind all previous presidents, including his father, have believed to be vital.

The war has been hideously expensive in lives and treasure. It has diverted the nation from more effectively addressing the terrorist threat, gobbling up resources that could be better used to secure seaports, airports and industrial plants against terrorists and prevent weapons-grade nuclear material from falling into their hands. It has diminished America's options for dealing with Iran and North Korea, two rogue nations that already, or may soon, possess the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein's Iraq didn't have. How America will put an end to the bloody insurgency that is tormenting Iraq, and maximize the odds that the Iraqi people can create a stable government and a better life, is a huge and baffling question.

Sen. Kerry agrees that the United States cannot walk away from the mess the president's folly has created. He promises to seek broader international aid to secure and restore Iraq. Can he succeed? Surely his chances are better than those of a president who is held in contempt abroad to a degree unseen in any American's lifetime. Mr. Bush says Sen. Kerry has undercut any such efforts by calling the Iraq conflict "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time," but foreign leaders already had reached that conclusion. Speaking truth is no disservice.

No previous administration has so cavalierly dismissed science or so consistently done the bidding of the radical right. The president has ignored the ever-increasing evidence that global warming is a reality. He has refused to fund international family-planning efforts through the United Nations on the discredited grounds that the U.N. abets coercive birth-control policies in China. He has severely limited federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, which scientists say could lead to effective treatment for some of mankind's most intractable ailments, and he wants to curtail the research still further by outlawing therapeutic (not reproductive) cloning and forbidding ill Americans to benefit from any medical breakthroughs achieved by the process abroad. His Food and Drug Administration rejected a request to approve over-the-counter sales of Plan B, a safe means of pregnancy prevention, for social-policy reasons that are altogether outside the FDA's province. To stop any state presumptuous enough to legalize gay marriage, he would amend the U.S. Constitution to prevent it. On all these issues, Sen. Kerry's positions are more enlightened and compassionate.

President Bush claims that he has "no litmus test" for Supreme Court nominees. Nevertheless, it's inconceivable that this president would nominate a justice who would uphold Roe vs. Wade, the decision establishing a woman's right to choose to have an abortion. Many of Mr. Bush's lower-court nominees have been ideologues, and his favorite Supreme Court justices are Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the grim twins who oppose Roe and consistently dissent from judicial decisions that favor diversity efforts and the rights of homosexuals, racial minorities, the disabled and the poor. With three vacancies likely in the next four years, a re-elected President Bush could recast the court as a body that would make America a harsher, less tolerant country.

The Bush administration automatically sides with corporate interests and the well-to-do, with unfortunate results.

The president's tax cuts that gave a windfall to the rich, combined with his failure to veto a single one of Congress' giveaways to agribusiness, exporters and other lobbies, helped turn the record budget surplus he inherited from President Clinton into a record deficit. Now Mr. Bush wants to make his tax cuts permanent, slash additional taxes, and partly privatize Social Security in a way that will cost one to two trillion dollars over the next decade. This is not to say that Sen. Kerry's own tax, spending and budget-cutting arithmetic adds up, but it is more responsible than Mr. Bush's fiscal fantasies.

The president's remark during the debates that he has been a "good steward" of the land is at odds with reality. The League of Conservation Voters has given him its first F grade. His administration has weakened air pollution controls, sought to open up federal preserves to loggers and miners and drill in the Arctic wilderness, blocked the phaseout of snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and cut back sharply on civil lawsuits against polluters. Mr. Bush is pushing energy legislation that relies on heavy subsidies for and fewer restrictions on gas and oil companies, while his vice president meets with industry leaders behind closed doors to make energy policy and openly derides the concept of conservation.

Again, some of Sen. Kerry's environmental and energy proposals are ill-defined and lack a plausible funding plan. But the voters can be sure that a Kerry presidency would be friendly to the environment, not hostile.

The president's backers describe him as a decisive leader and deride Sen. Kerry as a flip-flopper. However, as the senator said in the first debate, a leader can be certain and be wrong. That often has been the story of President Bush. His confidence in his own decisions is unaffected by changing circumstances and borders on the messianic. Ron Suskind, in The New York Times magazine, quotes Bruce Bartlett, a Republican official in the Reagan and Bush I administrations, as saying of President Bush: "...[H]e dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts. He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis." Sen. Kerry, on the other hand, would carefully study controversial issues, seek expert advice, weigh the options with care, then make a decision - which he would willingly re-evaluate if circumstances changed. In this world of unprecedented dangers and complexities, isn't that the process the American people want their president to follow?

The choice of running mates is an important window into a candidate's thinking, as well. Sen. Kerry's choice, the intelligent, articulate and optimistic Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, offers a striking contrast to the sour and negative Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Cheney has much more experience in Washington than Sen. Edwards does, but out of that experience has come disastrous counsel.

President Bush has shown in ways big and small that his judgment and instincts are flawed. There's no reason to think these would improve if he won another four-year term in the White House. It's time for America to change leaders and change direction.

Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


Oooh, I'm so frightened!

Save me, George Bush, save me!


Marc Singer for President!

Pandagon is right (scroll down a bit):
I can no longer vote for John Kerry. I know, it's a big turnaround, but I demand a strong stance against underfed wolves freely roaming the forests of America. For John Kerry to side with the wolves is inexcusable, and his efforts to cut the CIA's anti-wolf intelligence budget are shocking. Our nation suffers from a critical shortage of Native American wolf-trackers with adequate training in the language of the forest. Our only chance is to vote for Marc Singer from The Beastmaster, and I for one will proudly write in his name come election day.


The best anti-Bush piece ever - All Republicans should read this now!

Carl F. Worden is a right-wing extremist from Oregon - and even he's dumping Bush for Kerry!
The Last Straw - Carl Worden Makes His Vote Official

Carl F. Worden

That's it, I've had it.

I've been a registered Republican since I pulled my first lever in a voting booth, and I've voted as a loyal Republican for Republican candidates consistently every year. I am 55 years of age. I am considered a right-wing Christian conservative and strict constitutionist who knows the Framers of the Constitution expected strict adherence to that original document unless and until it is amended.

You don't get much more conservative and constitutionally-minded than I am, and that is why I just cast my Oregon vote-by-mail ballot for Democrat John Kerry as the next president of the United States. So did my wife -- and she's a very independent thinker. I know there are thousands of lifelong Republican/Independent conservatives who are going to do the same thing on November 2nd, because they've written and told me so.

The absolute last straw for me took place at the Bush rally, held in Central Point, Oregon on October 14th. President Bush stayed in Jacksonville, Oregon overnight after the rally, and protesters and police clashed on the streets. I sent out a photo of a Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy, all Nazi'd up in black leather riot control gear and grinning evilly as he shoved a woman holding her 5 year-old daughter. It wasn't the finest hour for local law enforcement, but even that wasn't the last straw for me. No, the last straw for me happened just before the Bush rally itself.

Three local teachers got tickets to the Bush rally, passed all the security checkpoints and scrutiny and got in. They never created or caused a disturbance, and they were perfectly peaceful members of the audience waiting to hear Bush speak. But before they got to hear Bush, they were expelled from the rally by Bush rally staff who objected to the words printed on the T-shirts they were wearing.

No, the words on the T-shirts the ladies were wearing did not disparage Bush, nor did they suggest support for Kerry or any other candidate. The words did not condemn or support the war in Iraq, nor did they slam any Administration policy. No, the T-shirts the three women wore showed an American flag, and under it the words, "Protect Our Civil Liberties". That was all -- I kid you not.

That was it. That was the last straw for me. That was the defining moment I'll never forget. That was my epiphany.

Bryan Platt, Chairman of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee, said he stood 100 percent behind the person who made the decision to exclude the women, removing any doubt that one or two individuals exceeded their authority and blew it. No, it was solid, Republican neo-conservative fascist policy on open display, and the Brown Shirts weren't about to apologize for it. No way.

I am now a man without a political party. I will never again register as a Republican unless the party returns to what it was before the fascists took it over. I'm certainly not a Democrat or a liberal, but I might just register as a Democrat to help them avoid mistakes in the next primary, like running another John Kerry for president. Any moderate, pro-gun southern Democrat would have easily swept Bush aside this election. As it is, the race is so close it could go either way at this point.

My decision to vote for Kerry was a vote to get Bush and his administration out. I could have voted for a third party candidate who couldn't possibly win, but that would have translated into a vote for Bush, and I just couldn't do that. Too many kids in uniform have already been killed and maimed for nothing, and I see it as my primary duty to save as many of them as I can. If my vote for a third party candidate means Bush wins and more kids come home dead and mutilated, then I have abrogated my duty as an American, as a Christian and as a decent human being. I didn't know better during the Vietnam War, when I voted for Nixon twice, but I would be without excuse if I did it again now.

This election is different: In this election, we all have to answer the call to vote wisely. Lives depend on it, and God is watching how we vote as well. When an individual sins, God deals with him individually. When a whole nation sins, God deals with the nation nationally. It's right there in the Bible.

The way I see it, the threat Bush presents is just too great. I know what Bush did with his first four years on good behavior, and so do you. What scares the bejeebers out of me is what Bush would do with four more years with nothing to lose -- and an assumed mandate from the people for what he did the first four. At least a Kerry Administration would be strapped down by a Republican Congress, so I'm not too worried about major gun control bills being passed, and as far as abortion is concerned, it really doesn't matter what a president believes, because that issue is decided only by the Judiciary Branch now.

Regardless of the proclaimed Bush position on abortion, he never issued an executive order banning any form of abortion because he knew such an order would be overturned by the courts. Oh, and that phony Late-Term Abortion Ban Bush signed? It's as good as dead -- and I have a niggling feeling it was intended to be killed even as they wrote it. The lower Federal Courts are already finding it unconstitutional, and why?, because the people who authored it left no possibility for a woman to use late term abortion to save her life, let alone to preserve her health. In lieu of that provision, any first year law student knew the federal courts would overturn it, so why did seasoned lawyers/legislators write it that way? Don't even try to convince me they overlooked something as obvious as that.

I still believe this election is going to Kerry, no matter what the polls predict. Last time, it was so close the Supreme Court had to decide the outcome. This time, a huge number of former Bush Republicans like me have bolted to Kerry. Unless a large number of former Gore supporters are going to vote for Bush this time, I don't see how Bush can get re-elected. Add to that the massive numbers of young voters who are registered to vote for the first time under threat of a draft, and I see Bush being shown the door by more than a close vote. But we'll see...

What I do know is that any party that would find the words, "Protect Our Civil Liberties" offensive or even threatening, is a party I won't belong to anymore.

That was the last straw.

Carl F. Worden


Man, the Internets are fast!

"We were tricked by George W. Bush"

Friday, October 22, 2004


Need a flu shot?

Find a Flu Shot!

(If you can. So far, it's not listing any clinic near me. Hope you have better luck.

(Note: Please don't get a flu shot if you're not in a high-risk category. There's not currently enough to go around. Thanks.)


How did the Democrats lose West Virginia?

This is a very long article from the English-language Web edition of Le Monde Diplomatique in France. There are some parts where the writer is too uncritical of what he is told, but all in all, it is a frightening look at just how out of touch the red and blue states are with each other. The stuff about how West Virginians fear environmentalism and environmentalists really had me shaking.

What’s the matter with West Virginia?

The race between the presidential election candidates in the United States is close. George Bush’s policies in his first term mainly benefited the rich but surprisingly he is most popular in the poorest states, which were former union and Democrat strong holds.

By Serge Halimi

SOME of the most down-at-heel homes in the remotest villages of West Virginia sport posters for George Bush and Dick Cheney, although their occupants surely do not expect to gain from any further reductions in capital gains tax. We see a lot of "We support our troops" signs. We meet a brother and sister in the state capital, Charleston, who will vote Republican for "religious reasons"; yet the brother is a schoolteacher and he has no health insurance.


In Charleston we talked to a former Democrat, now a keen Republican supporter. He was very excited to have attended a very similar meeting at another venue, and said: "Bush, when you see those photos of him on his ranch down in Texas, with jeans and a cowboy hat, that’s genuine. I was in Beckley when he was there a couple weeks ago, and that crowd, 4,000 people, they loved the man. They loved the man. Personally. You had to have been there to know what I mean, and you can’t manufacture that, you can’t fake it. They love him. They connect with him, they think he understands them, and I think he does, too."


("Genuine"? I wonder how many of them have a clue that Bush bought his "ranch" in 1999 as a prop for his first presidential run!)

Okay, as I said, frightening. Is there any way to reach these people? My dad worked for the Clothing Workers Union and knew plenty of people in the United Mine Workers. John L. Lewis was as staunch a Democrat as one could be. In my lifetime (I'm 49), West Virginia was as solid a "blue" state as there was. What happened? It's not just guns, abortion, and environmentalism. It's not just shaggy-haired hippies burning the flag in the 1960s. What happened? And how do we reverse it?

Earlier in the summer, I read about some woman who said she'd voted for Gore in 2000 but was voting for Bush this year because she was scared of terrorism. I posted that this was the problem for Kerry and that if he could respond to it convincingly, he would win easily.

I also think that the situation described in the article I posted is the problem for the Democratic Party. Look, the Republicans have more or less written off California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and similar states. That's their problem (although I doubt they see it that way). But losing West Virginia - that should never have happened to the Democrats! We really have to think about this, not just this year, but from now on. Ceaselessly. An ongoing project, regardless of what happens Nov. 2.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


The end of the world as we know it...maybe even the universe

I am a proud, lifelong New York Yankees fan (since 1959, the year I discovered baseball; I was 4). For my entire life, it has been article of faith that the Boston Red Sox had not won the World Series since 1918 and would never win it again. They still have not, but this year has to be considered their best chance since Bob Stanley threw the wild pitch that permitted Kevin Mitchell to score the tying run in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series with the Red Sox up 3 games to 2 and leading in that game with 2 outs and 2 strikes on Mookie Wilson (people usually forget that the game was tied when Bill Buckner let Wilson's little dribbler of a ground ball get through his legs at first to permit Ray Knight to score the winning run).

In any case, last night the Red Sox defeated my Yankees in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series to cap off the greatest comeback (and greatest collapse) in American sports history. They have to be considered the favorites to win the World Series this year, ending the so-called "Curse." As of this writing, it has not yet been determined who they will face, the Cards or the Astros (Game 7 of their series is tonight).

I congratulate the Red Sox and their fans, but I won't be rooting for them. There's still slight hope for Yankees fans.

In any case, all over the Internet today, fans of every other team but the Yankees are celebrating. I understand this. The Yankees have won so many times, and are so rich and seemingly arrogant, that there is a natural tendency to crow when they are finally overcome. As a Yankee fan, I'm distraught at their collapse; after they pounded the Red Sox 19-8 Saturday night, who could have foreseen this? But, what the hell, it wasn't me out there on the field losing 4 straight - just as it wasn't Red Sox out there winning 4 straight. I never crow when the Yankees win - I celebrate, but without any indecent triumphalism (even in 2000, when they beat the Mets) - so I won't be hanging my head now that they have been taken down. In fact, I'll hold my head higher than ever.

What the Yankees have accomplished since 1995 is quite simply amazing (sorry, Mets fans, that word now belongs to us). Ten straight appearances in the playoffs (okay, the Braves have 13). Seven straight division crowns. Six American League pennants, four World Championships, including 3 straight from 1998 to 2000. The best run in my memory.

It's probably over now. This team was not built for the long run, the pitching is very suspect, and there's nothing in the farm system. George can go out and buy some help, run the payroll to $200 million or $225 million or even $250 million (and, in the process, generating tens of millions of dollars in luxury tax payments to the other teams, something their fans never remember or thank us for). But it's not going to work much anymore. At some point, he and Yankee fans are just going to have to accept a few down years while we rebuild. It can be done. This past run was mostly fueled by homegrown Yankees such as Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, and Jorge Posada. Even the imports came mostly in trades for Yankee prospects (Tino Martinez, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez). The past few years have seen a number of high-priced free agent signings, but they have not, for the most part, been as impressive as hoped for.

It's time to start over. We can't complain. We've had it the best of any team, and now an era is about to end. Bernie Williams is mostly done. I don't think we can expect the kind of year out of Gary Sheffield next season that we got in 2004. A-Rod will probably do better. It's anyone's guess if Giambi will ever be the kind of player in New York he was in Oakland. Derek Jeter will be Derek Jeter. Mariano Rivera will be Mariano Rivera (although, Game 4 up in Boston...damn!)

The pitching is a nightmare. We have no reliable starters, no real aces. Mike Mussina is very good but not great. Jon Lieber and Javier Vasquez are inconsistent. Kevin Brown is 40. Other than Mo, the pen is shaky. There's nothing in the farm system.

It's time for Yankee fans to swallow hard and accept a few down years. It happens, eventually, to every great team. We've been through it before, if you're old enough to remember 1965-75 and 1982-93. We'll survive. The attendance may drop (it almost has to), but true Yankee fans will still come out. It's not like I expect the team to sink to the bottom of the AL East, but we may have to struggle for a wild card slot.

I'm not happy today, but this is not as bad as 1995 or 1997. I've been so ecstatic since 1996, I can put up with the disappointment. The Yankees are still the greatest sports franchise in the history of the country. I will wear my dark blue cap with the interlocking N and Y with as much pride as I ever have. As a guy on the Yankee mailing list says after every Yankee win, life is good!

Even if the universe is about to end.

Who's really the tougher hombre?

John Kerry actually killed someone, practically with his bare hands.

John Kerry was a prosecuting attorney.

John Kerry took on BCCI, the bank that financed terrorists.

George W. Bush flew planes for a couple of years and then ducked out on the rest of his military obligation.

Dick Cheney got five or six deferments in order to pursue "other priorities."

And George W. Bush struts around like Rambo? And people pretend he's tougher than John Kerry?

Guess I'm stuck in the reality-based community. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Powerline reveals all about Pat Robertson "no casualties" quote! Diabolical plot against the President!

Turns out, that was not the real Pat Robertson telling Paula Zahn yesterday that Bush had promised there wouldn't be any casualties - it was a clever forgery of Pat Robertson! You can tell because the real Pat Robertson did not exist all the way back then (yesterday), so there's just no way he could have been on Paula Zahn's show. Someone using Photoshop and Microsoft Fraud software digitally inserted a cleverly faked Robertson into video of Paula Zahn actually interviewing Fox TV President Darry Biller, who promised her that there would be no airing of the BBC E.R. ripoff Casualty on his network.

Bush Administration figures, who had not initially denied the Robertson quote, are now hinting that shadowy anti-Bush figures (some unknown group apparently calling itself, they think, the "Democratic Party," whatever that is) are behind the feeble attempt to derail King George's second coronation. A Congressional investigation is already underway. Executions are expected imminently, followed by indictments.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Blaming your subordinates

"The Strategy to Secure Iraq Did Not Foresee a 2nd War," in today's NY Times, makes clear that the Bush Administration is trying to have it two ways; or, more accurately, trying to have had it two ways. On the one hand, the story shows how leading political appointees, particularly Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, intruded into the tactical preparations for the invasion of Iraq, the conduct of the war, and the post-invasion occupation far more than civilian leaders have meddled in recent US conflicts. On the other hand, senior Bush Administration figures are now basically saying, Well, we gave the military commanders everything they asked for, if they needed more troops they never told us.

And maybe that's technically true. For example, the article states:

As the war drew near, Mr. Bush asked his senior commanders if they had sufficient forces, including enough to protect vulnerable supply lines. "I can't tell you how many times he asked, 'Do you have everything that you need?' " Ms. Rice said. "The answer was, these are the force levels that we need."

Senior military officers acknowledge that they did not press the president for more troops. But some said they would have been more comfortable with a larger reserve. And some officers say the concept of beginning the invasion while reinforcements were still being sent did not work so smoothly in practice.
On the other hand, Rumsfeld's belief that the Army should be able to achieve its mission with relatively fewer troops had to have been well-known among senior commanders, so they were probably less likely to press any disagreements with him. Civilian control is pretty well ingrained in our officer corps, and the military's "can do" attitude makes it difficult to express doubts lest one be seen as timid or lacking in aggressiveness.

But it is clear from this article that Rumsfeld and his acolytes never imagined that their plans might not work out fully as planned, and they had little in the way of alternatives once the occupation bogged down fighting a bitter insurgency they had never expected.

But it's not as if they weren't warned.

In mid-April, Lawrence Di Rita, one of Mr. Rumsfeld's closest aides, arrived in Kuwait to join the team assembled by General Garner, the civil administrator, which was to oversee post-Hussein Iraq. Mr. Bush had agreed in January that the Defense Department was to have authority for postwar Iraq. It was the first time since World War II that the State Department would not take charge of a post-conflict situation.

Speaking to Garner aides at their hotel headquarters in Kuwait, Mr. Di Rita outlined the Pentagon's vision, one that seemed to echo the themes in Mr. Rumsfeld's Feb. 14 address. According to Col. Paul Hughes of the Army, who was present at the session, Mr. Di Rita said the Pentagon was determined to avoid open-ended military commitments like those in Bosnia and Kosovo, and to withdraw the vast majority of the American forces in three to four months.

"The main theme was that D.O.D. would be in charge, and this would be totally different than in the past," said Tom Gross, a retired Army colonel and a Garner aide who was also at the session. "We would be out very quickly. We were very confused. We did not see it as a short-term process."

Another problem was that the new Administration seemed determined to ignore any lessons that might have been learned from their hated predecessor, Bill Clinton's, presidency.
Military aides on the National Security Council prepared a confidential briefing for Ms. Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, that examined what previous nation-building efforts had required.

The review, called "Force Security in Seven Recent Stability Operations," noted that no single rule of thumb applied in every case. But it underscored a basic principle well known to military planners: However many forces might be required to defeat the foe, maintaining security afterward was determined by an entirely different set of calculations, including the population, the scope of the terrain and the necessary tasks.

If the United States and its allies wanted to maintain the same ratio of peacekeepers to population as it had in Kosovo, the briefing said, they would have to station 480,000 troops in Iraq. If Bosnia was used as benchmark, 364,000 troops would be needed. If Afghanistan served as the model, only 13,900 would be needed in Iraq. The higher numbers were consistent with projections later provided to Congress by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq. But Mr. Rumsfeld dismissed that estimate as off the mark.

More forces generally are required to control countries with large urban populations. The briefing pointed out that three-quarters of Iraq's population lived in urban areas. In Bosnia and Kosovo, city dwellers made up half of the population. In Afghanistan, it was only 18 percent.

Neither the Defense Department nor the White House, however, saw the Balkans as a model to be emulated. In a Feb. 14, 2003, speech titled "Beyond Nation Building," which Mr. Rumsfeld delivered in New York, he said the large number of foreign peacekeepers in Kosovo had led to a "culture of dependence" that discouraged local inhabitants from taking responsibility for themselves.

The defense secretary said he thought that there was much to be learned from Afghanistan, where the United States did not install a nationwide security force but relied instead on a new Afghan Army and troops from other countries to help keep the peace.

James F. Dobbins, who was the administration's special envoy for Afghanistan and had also served as the ambassador at large for Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti, thought that the administration was focusing on the wrong model. The former Yugoslavia - with its ethnic divisions, hobbled economy and history of totalitarian rule - had more parallels with Iraq than administration officials appeared willing to accept, Mr. Dobbins believed. It was Afghanistan that was the anomaly.

"They preferred to find a model for successful nation building that was not associated with the previous administration," Mr. Dobbins said in an interview. "And Afghanistan offered a much more congenial answer in terms of what would be required in terms of inputs, including troops."

Next, they compounded their lack of proper understanding of the situation they faced and lack of planning for negative outcomes with a major tactical blunder: removing US troops too quickly.
Lt. Col. Joseph Apodaca, a Marine intelligence officer who is now retired, said there were early signs in the Shiite Muslim-dominated south that the paramilitary forces American troops faced might be the precursor of a broader insurgency. But chasing after potential rebels was not the Marines' assigned mission, and they did not have sufficient troops for this, he said.

"The overall plan was to go get Saddam Hussein," Colonel Apodaca recalled. "The assumption seemed to be that when people realized that he was gone, that would get the population on our side and facilitate the transition to reconstruction. We were not going to chase these guys when they ran to the smaller cities. We did not really have the force levels at that point to keep the insurgency down."

In Washington, however, White House and Pentagon officials thought that the most dangerous part was over. The goal of quickly enlisting Iraqi support appeared to be frustrated when the police abandoned their posts and Iraqi military units did not surrender en masse. But the administration thought that more of the burden could be shifted to multinational forces.

On April 15, 2003, Mr. Bush convened his National Security Council and discussed soliciting peacekeeping forces from other countries so the United States could begin to pull out troops. Even though there had been widespread opposition to the invasion, administration officials thought that some governments would put aside their objections once victory was at hand and the Iraqis began to form a new government.

Pentagon officials briefed the president on a plan to enlist four divisions: one made up of NATO troops; another from the Gulf Cooperative Council, an association of Persian Gulf states; one led by Poland; and another by Britain. The thinking was that the United States would leave no more than a division or two in Iraq.

The next day, General Franks flew to Baghdad and instructed his commanders to draw up plans to begin pulling out. At that palace meeting with his commanders, he noted that it was possible for the United States to wear out its welcome and keep too many troops in Iraq too long. A functioning interim Iraqi government was expected within 30 to 60 days, he said. He told his commanders to be prepared to take as much risk going out as they did coming in.

After that discussion, the general and his officers took part in a satellite video conference with Mr. Bush. The president asked about integrating foreign troops into the security force. Noting that Secretary of State Powell and Mr. Rumsfeld would be asking other nations for troops, the general said he planned to talk to officials in the United Arab Emirates about an Arab division.

General Franks's talk of being prepared to take risks alarmed General Garner, the civil administrator. Fearing that an early troop reduction threatened the mission of building a new Iraq, General Garner took his concerns to Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, the chief allied land commander.

"There was no doubt we would win the war," General Garner recalled telling General McKiernan, "but there can be doubt we will win the peace."

Soon after, the Pentagon began turning off the spigot of troops flowing to Iraq.
So, other than invading without sufficient justification, excluding the State Department from responsibility for post-war planning and operations, not having enough troops, removing troops too soon, letting nuclear materials pour over the borders, and , did the Bush Administration do anything right about Iraq?

Well, they're pretty good at blaming everyone but themselves.

Mr. Di Rita said in an interview that he had no responsibility for force levels, but added that military commanders wanted the postwar troop numbers to be as low as necessary.

Only because they knew that was their boss's insistence. It is true that military leaders always want more than they can have - more troops, more tanks, more planes, more bombs - and their desires have to be balanced against their true needs. But the doctrine of overwhelming force that Rumsfeld disdained was not a Clinton legacy - it is better known as the Powell Doctrine, after its author, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell - now President Bush's Secretary of State.

And as of this morning, no one has been held accountable for the failures of the Iraq invasion. Indeed, if you listen to and believe President Bush, there have been no failures - Iraq is a glorious, unbesmirched success.

One of the worst things you can do in life is fool yourself. But in this case, trying to fool others is at least as bad. Because in this case, many people are needlessly dying, many more are needlessly suffering horrible wounds and injuries. Money is being wasted that could have been used for far more productive things. All so George W. Bush can play Douglas MacArthur.

And they don't have the minimal moral courage to take even the slightest responsibility for any of it.

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