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Friday, September 03, 2004

Zell's Flip-Flop

Zell Miller in March 2001:
My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend.

He was once a lieutenant governor – but he didn't stay in that office 16 years, like someone else I know. It just took two years before the people of Massachusetts moved him into the United States Senate in 1984.

In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington.

Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so.

John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment. Business Week magazine named him one of the top pro-technology legislators and made him a member of its "Digital Dozen."

John was re-elected in 1990 and again in 1996 – when he defeated popular Republican Governor William Weld in the most closely watched Senate race in the country.

John is a graduate of Yale University and was a gunboat officer in the Navy. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three awards of the Purple Heart for combat duty in Vietnam. He later co-founded the Vietnam Veterans of America.

He is married to Teresa Heinz and they have two daughters.

As many of you know, I have great affection – some might say an obsession – for my two Labrador retrievers, Gus and Woodrow. It turns out John is a fellow dog lover, too, and he better be. His German Shepherd, Kim, is about to have puppies. And I just want him to know … Gus and Woodrow had nothing to do with that.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Senator John Kerry.
Hey Zell, um, did John run over your dog or something? Or did you just sell your soul to become a political novelty act? to sell your book? Or the more obvious answer-- you've lost it.

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 2:54 PM

What The Hell Happened To the Press?

Scrolling around the news today, I came across this AP story, featured prominently on Yahoo's news page
Bush Glosses Over Complex Facts in Speech

President Bush glossed over some complicating realities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the home front in arguing the case Americans are safer and his opponent cannot deliver.

On Iraq, Bush talked of a 30-member alliance standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States, masking the fact that U.S. troops are pulling by far most of the weight. On Afghanistan and its neighbors, he gave an accounting of captured or killed terrorists, but did not address the replenishment of their ranks — or the still-missing Osama bin Laden.


And on education, Bush voiced an inherent contradiction, dating back to his 2000 campaign, in stating his stout support for local control of education, yet promising to toughen federal standards that override local decision-making.
Maybe the campaign wouldn't be neck-and-neck if they'd been pointing this stuff out for the last 3 years, instead of starting 2 months before the election.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 11:45 AM

Best Demagogue?

Who do you think was the biggest demagogue at the GOP Convention?

Personally, I nominate Senator Zell "insane in the membrane" Miller. His speech was putrid. His attacks were slanderous and full of lies and deliberate misrepresentations. He did more than just criticize Kerry-- he insulted him, he ridiculed him and then turned around and told Chris Matthews that he wished we still lived in a time where there are public duels! It was not behavior becoming of a sitting Senator. It was disgraceful.

However, using Zell as their rabid attack dog (on a cocktail of steroids, testosterone and crack) was one of the slickest tricks the GOP organized during the whole convenion. Dems can't use him to criticize the GOP for being exceptionally mean and negative because technically Zell is criticizing his own party. I have to give them a few points for that manuever.

Who do you think stunk up Madison Square Garden?

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 11:21 AM

The Props of Presidentialness.

During the Republican National Convention, one speaker after another reminded Americans just how presidential George W. Bush is. Yet the sheer volume of praise showered upon Bush was so superfluous that it made one wonder whether even these speakers believed their own rhetoric.

Dick Cheney called Bush "a man of great personal strength." Gov. George Pataki said Bush "is no ordinary leader." John McCain said that Bush "has risen to the most important challenge of our time, and I salute him." At one point during his Monday speech, Rudy Giuliani felt the need to repeat, almost verbatim, his praise of Bush's presidential stature:
Without really thinking, based on just emotion, spontaneous, I grabbed the arm of then-Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik (on Sept. 11) and I said to him, “Bernie, thank God, George Bush is our President.”

I say it again tonight ... I say it again tonight: thank God that George Bush is our President.
It was as if Rudy meant to say, "Really, I mean it."

When a party convention nominates a challenger, someone with little or no Washington experience, speakers understandably emphasize the nominee's leadership qualities. The nominee's consultants and hangers-on will stress, "we've got to make him appear presidential." But, in point of fact, Bush already is presidential; hell, the man's held the office for 3-1/2 years. One expected convention speakers four years ago to trumpet Bush's supposed leadership qualities. But it is incredibly revealing that the parade of '04 GOP convention speakers felt it was so critical to reassure the masses that Bush is a real leader. Honest, he is.

Bush's handlers also feel it necessary to remind Americans that Bush, the man who seems so unpresidential, is actually their president. No kidding. This February, the White House insisted on having the NBC "Meet the Press" interview in the oval office, with a wide-angle camera giving full view of the deep blue carpet, imprinted with the official presidential seal -- sporting that fearless looking bald eagle.

As if the image itself didn't sufficiently impress "Meet the Press" viewers, Bush had to reinforce the visual with phrases such as: "I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office ..." Bush would rather have Americans think about where he makes decisions than to think about what those decisions are.

Thursday night for Bush's acceptance speech, the presidential seal was center stage, imprinted on a circular carpeted platform that was aligned neatly with the podium. For Bush's handlers, the presidential seal is not a new prop. For Bush's first speech after 9/11 (brief remarks from the oval office, as Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported, "An American flag and a presidential seal had been placed behind [Bush] ..."

What was the White House's concern? That if the American people didn't actually see the presidential seal behind him, they wouldn't know George W. Bush from Sean Hannity?

Even before he formally took office as president, Bush himself seemed far too fascinated with this insignia of power. A photo of Bush taken soon before his inauguration was posted on ABC News' website with a caption explaining that the president-elect had shown off "his cowboy boot, with his initials and presidential seal embroidered on it ..."

As the campaign moves into high gear, Bush -- America's consummate overachiever -- has learned that just as clothes make the man, props make the president. In February, columnist Paul Krugman observed that such props had even made it into the Bush administration's official budget proposal:
... this year's budget (document) contains 27 glossy photos of Mr. Bush. We see the president in front of a giant American flag, in front of the Washington Monument, comforting an elderly woman in a wheelchair ... and, of course, eating turkey with the troops in Iraq.

... Bill Clinton's budgets were illustrated with tables and charts, not with worshipful photos of the president being presidential.

... In this budget, as in almost everything it does, the Bush administration tries to blur the line between reverence for the office of president and reverence for the person who currently holds that office.

Operation Flight Suit was only slightly more over the top than other Bush photo-ops, like the carefully staged picture that placed Mr. Bush's head in line with the stone faces on Mount Rushmore. The goal is to suggest that it's unpatriotic to criticize the president, and to use his heroic image to block any substantive discussion of his policies.

... critics [have] no choice: they must point out that the man inside the flight suit bears little resemblance to the official image.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 11:10 AM

Gov. Pataki: Boxcutters = WMDs

If New York Gov. George Pataki were running our nation's foreign policy, America would run out of troops, planes, tanks and other military supplies long before we were able to invade all of the countries out there that have weapons of mass destructions (WMDs). Last night at the Republican National Convention, the governor offered a rather ridiculous definition of WMDs:
There are those who still say that there was no reason to liberate Iraq. They ask about weapons of mass destruction.

On September 11th in New York we learned that in the hands of a monster, a box cutter is a weapon of mass destruction. And Saddam Hussein was a monster -- a walking-talking weapon of mass destruction. It is good for the world that he is gone."
So, there you have it. Nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and biological agents aren't the only WMDs that justify a pre-emptive U.S. attack on another country. Box cutters are also WMDs. (Should I tell Mr. Ashcroft that an employee in our mailroom has one of those WMDs in his possession?) In Pataki's world, even individual human beings -- Saddam the "walking-talking" WMD -- can be branded as weapons of mass destruction.

Pataki's argument is so unnecessary. Pataki and his fellow Republicans should say what they really believe -- that any invasion launched by America is, by definition, justified. They've never paid much attention to the concerns voiced by other countries about such nonsense as "international law." So why pretend to give a damn?

Just look for another country to invade and print more of those "Mission Accomplished" banners.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 10:34 AM

Daily Darfur

The New York Times reports that Kerry is calling on Bush to take the lead in stopping the killing of civilians in the Darfur by declaring it a genocide, pushing for tough United Nations sanctions on the government, backing the deployment of an international force and raising money for relief aid. First of all, Bush is already doing some of this and the US has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the relief effort. Secondly, Kerry thinks he can score some easy points on it by saying "Bush should do more" but sanctions and international troop deployment are not under US control, and even if he does declare it a genocide, nothing is going to change because nobody takes the Convention's prevention obligations seriously and US troops are never going to be sent to Darfur. Finally, if Kerry were president, I doubt he'd be doing much about the situation either.

Human Rights Watch is calling on the Security Council to give the African Union a Chapter VII mandate so that it can increase the number of troops on the ground and expand its activities to include the protection of civilians.

The UN says Sudan has not disarmed the Janjaweed nor stopped their attacks on civilians and Jan Pronk also said no serious steps have been made to identify any of the militia leaders or bring them to justice, "allowing violations of human rights to continue in a climate of impunity."

The World Food Program has stopped distributing food in certain areas of Darfur after three of its staff members and three more from another relief agency were abducted.

Oxfam is releasing a download-only album featuring music by David Gray, Jet, R.E.M. and others to raise money to help the people of Darfur.

Finally, I received this e-mail from Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick of Christian Solidarity International and the Sudan Campaign
This Labor Day, Monday, September 6, the Sudan Campaign is inviting everyone to take a “day on” rather than a “day off” to protest the ongoing genocide in Sudan. Demonstrations have been held at the Sudan embassy everyday since June 29th, and they will continue. Over 50 persons have offered themselves for arrest by committing non-violent acts of civil disobedience to draw attention to the urgency and seriousness of the issue. Radio personality and activist, Joe Madison, has been a hunger strike for six weeks. In light of the UN findings that the Khartoum regime has not fully complied with the UN mandate issued over 30 days ago, it is time to move to a new level of pressure, economic.

The Sudan Campaign hopes to accomplish 3 goals at the Monday protest:

(1) To thank the Red Cross and other humanitarian aid organizations that have begun massive operations to feed the displaced and starving people of Darfur (celebrating the end to the fast of the Black Eagle, Joseph Madison)

(2) To decry the weakness of the response of the United Nations to the failure of the government of Sudan to comply fully with the mandate given them by the UN thirty days ago

(3) To announce and to launch a bold new strategy of our drive to bring peace to all of the people of the Sudan: Demand that U.S. citizens, their pension funds and their corporations divest themselves of all investments of money in their names in corporations doing business in the Sudan.

Please join us and/or distribute this flyer through your e-mail lists and encourage recipients to do the same.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:41 AM

Headline of the Week

If I expected to escape provocative abortion politics by coming to the Netherlands, I was quite mistaken.
Dutch FM urges Portugal to admit abortion ship

AMSTERDAM — In a bid to break a tense standoff in international waters, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot asked Portugal on Thursday to allow a Dutch abortion ship to enter Portuguese territory.

In a telephone conversation with his Portuguese counterpart, Antonio Monteiro, the Christian Democrat CDA minister also said a Dutch parliamentary majority is urging Portugal to allow the ship to take on board Portuguese women.
The Christian Democrats are, of course, part of a Europe-wide movement of Roman Catholic center-right parties with similar names. If we had a distinctly Roman Catholic political party in the U.S., it's hard to imagine a high-ranking member doing anything like this.
The abortion ship is currently off the Portuguese coast in international waters, and Portugal has said it is willing to use force if necessary to prevent the ship from entering its territory.

Under the wing of the Dutch foundation Women on Waves, doctors on board the ship hope to provide the abortion pill to Portuguese women in international waters, where they can operate under Dutch legislation which allows such treatment. They also hope to distribute information.

Abortion is illegal in staunchly-Catholic Portugal except in situations where the mother's life is in danger. Termination is also allowed if there is a risk to the woman's physical or mental health, or in conditions such as sexual violence or possible congenital deformity.
The group's first abortion-at-sea voyage was to Ireland. The Irish government, according to a Dutch friend, "was not amused." They also sailed to Poland last year, where the BBC documented the ensuing stand-off.

The Dutch government, meanwhile, is taking a friendly approach.
Bot said in his conversation with Monteiro that Portugal was within its rights to refuse entry to the ship, but said he wanted to make an attempt to persuade the Portuguese government to change its mind.
It's a good thing abortion is legal in the U.S. Otherwise, we'd soon have hostile Dutch ships off our shores for the first time since the 17th century.

posted by Arnold P. California at 7:11 AM

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Good Rebuttal

You've probably heard far more than you wanted to hear about the Swift Boat Veterans for (Un)Truth ads so forgive me, but I want to pass along this newspaper column from Aug. 22 -- I just stumbled upon it. It is one of the better rebuttals I've read anywhere. Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader editorial writer Larry Dale Keeling writes:

I served with John Kerry.

Well, sorta.

I never rode on a swift boat with him. Heck, I never heard of a swift boat before this presidential campaign.

I wasn't in Vietnam with him. The closest I got to "in country" was an air base on Taiwan, where my unit provided logistical support for a facility that repaired fighter planes, some of which had flown the friendly skies of Nam.

We didn't wear the same uniform. Kerry was Navy; I was Air Force.

But I served with Kerry.

... My claim to having served with Kerry is misleading in the extreme. Similar claims by the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush are misleading in less extreme, but misleading still.

None of them served on Kerry's boat, although their ads suggest that they did. In varying degrees, these guys served with him in a broader sense, some in other swift boats, some up the chain of command.

... these (Swift Boat group) veterans are getting caught in the tangled web of their own deceit.

Larry Thurlow, another swift boat commander, has claimed Kerry didn't deserve his Bronze Star and third Purple Heart because he wasn't under enemy fire when he pulled an Army lieutenant out of the river and into his boat. But The Washington Post reported last week that Thurlow won his own Bronze Star for courage under fire in the very same incident.


"I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury," Louis Letson claims in the attack ad. But a non-partisan, non-profit that "truth squads" political claims and ads across the spectrum, says medical records do not list Letson as the person who treated Kerry's injury.


... While all these "Oopses" show clearly whose honesty and truthfulness really is in question (and it's not Kerry's), they do not speak to another central premise of the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush's attack ads: that Kerry betrayed veterans of Vietnam and his nation by becoming a vocal opponent of the war after leaving the Navy. ... Kerry did not betray me.

... When I made my commitment to the Air Force as a 20-year-old college student in 1967, I supported the war in Vietnam. When I went on active duty in 1969, I supported the war.

By the time I left the Air Force a few years later, I no longer supported the war. I supported the troops who were fighting it, as Kerry did, and I support them as veterans today, as Kerry does.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 4:16 PM

Slimy Halliburton

According to Reuters:
Halliburton Co., once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, said an internal probe found information suggesting that members of a consortium it helps lead considered bribing Nigerian officials to win business.

The world's No. 2 oilfield services company, which is also fighting accusations it overcharged on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, said late on Wednesday the probe concerns the multibillion dollar TSKJ Bonny Island liquefied natural gas plant project.

Talks of bribes took place at least 10 years ago, it said. Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive from 1995 to 2000. The Wall Street Journal, citing company officials, said there is no indication Cheney knew of improper activity.
And, yet, in spite of the spate of news tarring Halliburton's image ...
Halliburton shares have nevertheless risen 15 percent in 2004. They closed Wednesday at $29.88, up from $26 at the start of the year.
... Wall Street insiders would seem to know there's a good chance that more lucrative government contracts are likely to be won by Halliburton. Now what would make them think that?

posted by Frederick Maryland at 3:51 PM

Self-Indulgent Column of the Week

Actually, make that last week. In the Aug. 26 Wall Street Journal, Herman Jacobs, a Houston lawyer, wrote a column headlined, "Kerry's Lost Opportunity," in which he joins the Swift Boat Vets contingent in trashing Kerry. Yet it's how he goes about it -- not so much his point of view -- that makes this such a bizarre and self-indulgent column. Some excerpts:
"Might [John Kerry] have become the man finally to bind up the wounds of Vietnam? Yes, I believe he could have performed that healing ... He could have explained that although he remains deeply proud to have served his country in war, he is deeply sorry that in his proudly foolish youth he spoke such vile words about the other men who fought in that war, many of whom were still fighting when he dishonored them.

... Mr. Kerry could have begun the healing by saying something like this:

"Vietnam has been discussed and written about without an adequate statement of its full meaning. What is ignored is the way in which our experience during that period reflected in part a positive affirmation of American values and history, not simply the more obvious negatives of loss and confusion.

... What is missing and what cries out to be said is that neither one group nor the other from that difficult period of time has cornered the market on virtue or rectitude or love of country ...

We do not need to divide America over who served and how."

In fact, John Kerry did say something like that. The words quoted above are his words. He spoke them, in 1992, but he did not mean them.
What a convenient catch-22 Jacobs introduces: John Kerry should have said X ... He did say X ... But it doesn't matter what he said because he didn't mean what he said.

I'm not surprised to see an anti-Kerry diatribe in the Journal. But I am a little surprised that one this inane made it into print. If this is the twisted logic that Jacobs uses as he prepares legal documents, it's a wonder he can find any clients.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 1:23 PM

Something to Look Forward To

Thanks to Bush and the Republicans' intentional inaction, you will be able to get yourself an assault-weapon starting on September 13th.


And shortly after that, we can expect the NRA to formally endorse Bush because, you see
The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) endorsement of Bush is on hold until after the ban expires.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 11:51 AM

Bush's "Finger of Blame"

Instead of studying Dick Cheney's acceptance speech last night in New York City, I've found it far more interesting to examine his acceptance speech four years ago to the RNC in Philadelphia. One statement in his 2000 speech is of little consequence to most voters today, but it is, nonetheless, so ridiculous that you wonder why Cheney even uttered it.

This what Cheney said: "You will never see [Bush] pointing the finger of blame for failure -- you will only see him sharing the credit for success." Over the past 3-1/2 years, Bush has wagged "the finger of blame" at a lot of people and groups. Here is a modest sample:

"In a speech Friday formally launching the new Department of Homeland Security, President Bush blamed Congress for the (anti-terror) funding crisis ..." (CNN, 3-3-03)

"... President Bush blamed higher gasoline prices on what he called Democrat's blocking of key energy legislation ..." (Voice of America, 5-21-04)

"Aides said that President Bush blamed Larry Lindsey ... director of the National Economic Council, for many of the administration's economic missteps in recent months." (Detroit News, 12-7-02)

"President Bush blamed the weakness of the economy on 'the drumbeat to war,' which he attributed in turn to the news media." (Harper's, "Weekly Review," 8-5-03)

"A few weeks ago, President Bush blamed the European Union for prolonging hunger in the developing nations by refusing to import genetically modified crops." (NPR "All Things Considered," 6-20-03)

"President Bush blamed the slumping economy for the shrinking budget surplus, rather than his tax cut ..." (Associated Press, 8-25-01)

"Although President Bush blamed the CIA for allowing the discredited (Niger-uranium) statement to remain in his speech, he has expressed confidence in [CIA Director George] Tenet." (Voice of America, 7-16-03)

"U.S. popularity has plunged across much of the world amid mounting perceptions that the United States is running roughshod over other nations and doing too little to help poor countries, a report released yesterday concludes. ... President Bush blamed the trend on 'propaganda machines" bent on casting the United States 'in a bad light.' " (Cox News Service, 12-5-02)

So much for the mantra of "personal responsibility."

posted by Frederick Maryland at 11:23 AM

The New Katherine Harris?

As Minnesota's secretary of state, Mary Kiffmeyer's duty is to oversee fair elections. But, as Hans Johnson observes, Kiffmeyer has made decisions that could prompt polling-site officials to turn away thousands of eligible voters in that battleground state.
Kiffmeyer recently decided that in order to vote in November every would-be voter in the state must show an ID reflecting an "exact match" to the file of names, driver's license numbers and dates of birth circulated by her office.

Such rules would have the effect of robbing the vote from thousands of state residents, including those who encounter errors in the information about them on Kiffmeyer's official list.

Minnesotans are not alone in facing gaps in electoral integrity from schemes like those concocted in 2000 by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. A nationwide review reveals a disturbing pattern in closely contested states of Republican office-holders with close ties to the Bush-Cheney campaign: Remove eligible voters from official rolls and erect barriers to new or young voters and minorities who vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

An administrative law judge nixed Kiffmeyer's required ID matching in a ruling on July 22 but did not dismantle a second barrier she erected. Many county officials say her cumbersome voter-registration form deters would-be applicants. In St. Paul's Ramsey County alone, more than a third of 6,500 completed forms submitted earlier this year contained errors and were rejected.

Instead of allowing a clearer, easier form after learning of such problems, Kiffmeyer, cribbing a line from the Bush reelection playbook, demanded continuity amid a crisis she helped create. "We are in midstream in an election cycle," she told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "We have an application out there … and we'll continue to use that."
If you want to know a little more about Kiffmeyer's political bent, consider that in May she told a group that the "five words" of "separation of church and state" are "probably most destructive" in America. Kiffmeyer also happens to be on the legislative advisory board of the neanderthal Heartland Institute, whose website has blasted public schools as “islands of socialism" and endorsed vouchers as the “way to privatize schooling."

posted by Frederick Maryland at 10:22 AM

Then and Now

John Ashcroft - April 17, 2003
Yusef Himsa pled guilty to multiple criminal charges and is currently cooperating in the Detroit cell case.

His testimony has been of value, substantial value in that respect. Such cooperation is a critical tool in our war against terrorism, and those who may be contemplating terrorist activity are aware of the fact that there are others who had been involved in the terrorist network who are cooperating and providing information.


It is a credit to our new investigative tools, carefully targeted and utilized, as well as it being a credit to the law enforcement community and our intelligence agencies and a cooperative public, and I would underscore a cooperative public, that we have not suffered a major terrorist attack in this country since September the 11th.
John Ashcroft - June 3, 2003
“Today’s convictions sends a clear message: The Department of Justice will work diligently to detect, disrupt and dismantle the activities of terrorist cells in the United States and abroad. We will commit every resource to preventing terrorist attacks, and sending those who aid our enemies to jail. Today’s verdict reaffirms our commitment to pursuing aggressively the evidence wherever it may lead.

“I congratulate the prosecutors and agents who worked tirelessly on this case. Because of their efforts, Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi faces up to 20 years in prison, Karim Koubriti faces up to 10 years in prison, and Ahmed Hannan faces up to five years in prison. I also thank the jurors in Detroit for the service they provided their country in hearing this trial.

“Every victory in the courtroom brings us closer to our ultimate goal of victory in the war on terrorism. The Department of Justice will continue its aggressive battle in the courts to ensure the safety and security of all Americans.”
The Justice Department today
"In its best light, the record would show that the prosecution committed a pattern of mistakes and oversights that deprived the defendants of discoverable evidence (including impeachment material) and created a record filled with misleading inferences that such material did not exist"
As ABC News explained
In a dramatic reversal, the Justice Department acknowledges its original prosecution of a suspected terror cell in Detroit was filled with a "pattern of mistakes and oversights" that warrant the dismissal of the convictions.


The internal investigation of prosecutorial misconduct found enough problems that there is "no reasonable prospect of winning," the government conceded.

Link via William over at Southern Appeal

posted by Eugene Oregon at 10:17 AM

Daily Darfur

Romeo Dallaire says Western apathy regarding Darfur makes him sick
"It burns inside and the sentiments or the feelings that I had of abandonment in Rwanda are exactly the same that I feel today in regards to the Sudan."
The UN and the US want to dramatically expand the international force on the ground in Darfur and the Sudanese government is willing to entertain the idea, so long as the new troops are mere observers there to monitor the ceasefire by which neither side is abiding.

AFP reports that the Sudanese government and rebels have "agreed on an African Union mediated plan to protect the Darfur region's 1.2 million displaced people from hunger, rape and murder." We'll see what that means.

Colin Powell says it is "too early to say whether sanctions should be imposed" so you can see just how serious the UN was about the 30-day deadline they imposed.

Knight Ridder has a great story on the State Department's efforts to determine whether genocide is taking place in Darfur
The full report, made up of 1,200 refugee interviews, is on the desk of Secretary of State Colin Powell. It's unclear when the State Department will announce its conclusion.

But many of the experts - who have backgrounds in law and human-rights and criminal investigations, and experience in zones of ethnic cleansing, including Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo - said it was clear that the atrocities in Darfur needed to be stopped, whether or not they were called genocide.

"I was shocked by the scope of the tragedy," said Jan Pfundheller, who interviewed rape victims for the study. "What happened in Kosovo was evil. This is more vast and equally as evil."

"Obviously, there is evidence to bring a lot of indictments for war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Convention," Brent Pfundheller said.
The New York Times' Somini Sengupta writes
What is certain is that the threat of violence remains so intense, and the government's promises to secure the region so mistrusted, that no one here feels safe enough to return home. Darfurians are still on the run.

So terrified do they remain that some are hiding in caves, or pitching tents of twig and cloth under the thickets that sprout from the sand. They subsist on what little the desert yields. They collect rainwater to drink. They disperse their children for safekeeping and scurry as far from view as possible, trying to make themselves invisible.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:31 AM

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

W.'s "Boundless Energy"

Last night, in her speech to the RNC, First Lady Laura Bush described her husband this way: "He has boundless energy and enthusiasm for his job and for life itself." But White House political director Karl Rove recently painted a very different picture of the president, not exactly one of a man with "boundless energy."

The New York Times published an article Sunday that was based on a series of interviews with Rove, the president and others. The Times reported:
“Rove said he typically went to Mr. Bush in the morning with a list of as many as two dozen topics and political questions scrawled in longhand. Mr. Bush is very engaged at the beginning of the conversation, but begins to flag before long, Mr. Rove said.

"‘He'll say, 'You're running out of airspeed and altitude,’ ’ Mr. Rove said."
President Bush himself was also quoted in that Times article. Bush offered this bizarre soundbite:
“… if the question is, ‘Is it different running this time now that you're the president?’ the answer is yes. I’ve got a job to do.”
Bush seems to forget that four years ago he also had “a job to do” -- serving as governor of Texas. It may not be as significant a job as being president, but most people would say that being the governor of Texas means you have "a job to do."

posted by Frederick Maryland at 4:41 PM

"Now for the Bad News ..."

Senator Rick Santorum (right -- and we mean right) shares the disappointing news with Zell Miller -- although the Republican Party has made Miller its keynote speaker, the Georgia senator will not receive the GOP's special, limited-edition commemorative "Mission Accomplished" punch bowl set.

Life is filled with disappointments.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 4:27 PM

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Monday night, the increasingly unhinged Alan Keyes referred to Vice President Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary, as a "selfish hedonist."

posted by Noam Alaska at 4:18 PM

On Second Thought ...

I just received the latest e-mail from It's the Annenberg-funded, independent analytical watchdog of political ads and messages. And today's e-mail reassures me that these people have their you-know-what together -- so much so that they're willing to say: on second thought, our analysis is not as accurate as we thought.
In our Aug. 3 article, "Kerry's Dubious Economics," we said Kerry based his claim that "our great middle class is shrinking" on some pretty stale numbers. We said his statement "may well be untrue" because it was based on 2002 figures and didn't account for recent economic growth. Now fresh numbers are available -- and Kerry's statement is looking a lot better.

Kerry's other economic statements remain at least as dubious as we reported. Recent figures show inflation-adjusted hourly earnings actually went up in July just as Kerry was announcing that "wages are falling," for example.

However, Kerry's description of a declining middle class is supported by new Census Bureau figures showing median household income failed to grow in 2003. And a look at income-distribution tables shows the decline that took place in middle-income households in 2001 and 2002, which we previously reported, may well have continued in 2003.
It's nice to know that, unlike most people in the media and political worlds, is willing to go back to an issue that was reported or analyzed in a less than accurate manner and correct the original reporting.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 4:11 PM

Bush's Comeuppance on the Horizon?

Bush has always denied that he got his Texas National Guard position because of his family's well-oiled connections. But the person who got Bush in says otherwise and is about to go on 60 Minutes to talk about it-- better yet, and he's not even funded by the Democrats!

The fact that Bush was so passive about the attacks by the GOP-funded Swiftboat Liars for Bush group makes his own military record during that time fair game and germaine, more than it ever has been before. Let's hope the mainstream media isn't asleep at the wheel...again.

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 3:15 PM

Washington In a Nutshell

As I mentioned a few days ago, I've been reading "Firewall" by Iran/Contra Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh. I came across this passage today that I think pretty well sums up Washington's view of what constitutes a lie.

First, a little background. In 1984, Congress passed an amendment, known as the Boland Amendment, to a defense authorization bill that stated
No funds available to the Central Intelligence Agency, the department of Defense, or any other agency or entity of the United States involved in intelligence activities may be obligated or expended for the purpose or which would have the effect of supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary operations in Nicaragua by any nation, group, organization, movement or individual.
This was specifically designed to prevent the Reagan administration from funding or supporting the Contras in their attempt to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

The Reagan administration didn't like this limitation, so they ignored it by raising money from individual donors who were pitched by Oliver North and President Reagan, and from foreign leaders who funneled money into Swiss bank accounts. Eventually, they began overcharging Iran for the weapons they were selling them illegally and siphoning off the profits to fund the war in Nicaragua - and the Iraq/Contra nexus was born.

In 1985, Congress got suspicious and inquired about White House activities, and the White House replied - by lying
[National Security Advisor Robert] McFarlane acknowledged ... having sent untruthful letter that withheld information requested by Congress. The letters, drafted in part by North and dated September 5 and 12, 1985, had denied "with deep personal conviction" any violation of the Boland amendments by the staff of the National Security Council. The letter to chairman Hamilton of the House intelligence committee had added, "It is equally important to stress what we did not do. We did not solicit funds or other support for military or paramilitary activities either from Americans or third parties...."


Those assurances not only had concealed the truth but had been false.
It was eventually discovered that North, McFarlane and others in the NSC and CIA had been, despite the Boland Amendment's clear prohibition, working to secure financing and weapons for the Contras from Israel, Taiwan and South Korea, had guided deliveries of such weapons and money and had even tried to get South Korea to sink a Nicaraguan ship carrying weapons to the Sandinistas, among other things.

McFarlane was called to testify in Oliver North's criminal trial and here is how Walsh describes his testimony
On the stand, McFarlane refused to acknowledge that his letters to [Congress] had been lies. "You do not lie to the Congress," said McFarlane.... "It was often the case that congressmen would not always tell us everything on their agenda, and similarly the executive branch didn't always tell everything on its agenda to the Congress. You don't lie. You put your own interpretation on what the truth is."
And that is the problem with Washington: everyone seem to be entitled to their own interpretation of the truth; including the liars and criminals.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 2:58 PM

Are These Arnold's "Economic Girly Men"?

Boeing machinists Bob Merritt and Danny Maez join
a large demonstration of workers in Washington state.

"To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: 'Don't be economic girlie men."

-- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, addressing the RNC (Aug. 31, 2004)

How can those Boeing workers be so damn pessimistic? Don't they know that the Department of Labor hasn't reported the closing of a single factory since November 2002?

Of course, that may be because November 2002 was the last month that the Bush administration's Department of Labor produced the report on factory closures. The report was discontinued in order to, uh, save money.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 12:25 PM

Laura Bush's Insights

First Lady Laura Bush took to the stage last night at the RNC to remind us of all of those lovable traits that her husband has that should make us eager to re-elect him. Her 'speech' made me feel as though someone was reading an article from Woman's Day aloud. Some of Laura's great insights were:
"... my husband didn't want to go to war, but he knew the safety and security of the world depended on it."
Horse manure! He knew no such thing. As time has demonstrated, "the safety and security" of the world did not depend on an invasion of Iraq. He may have believed it did (although I think he essentially lulled himself into believing it, having been worked over for months by Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and company).
"He'll always tell you what he really thinks."
Was he telling us what he really thinks when he said on Monday that he didn't believe that America could actually win the war on terror? Just curious.
"... he is a loving man, with a big heart. I've seen tears as he has hugged families who've lost loved ones."
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen -- our president is capable of crying. And, contrary to those vicious rumors, our president is not the Tin Man of his time, desperately in search of a heart.
"I've seen him return the salute of soldiers wounded in battle."
Uh ... pardon me for asking a stupid question, but isn't that precisely how a president -- i.e., the commander in chief -- is supposed to respond when a soldier salutes him? So the man understands basic protocol. I'll bet he can also tie a necktie, and knows not to play with matches. Say no more. You've sold me, Laura.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 11:55 AM

You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks When the Old Tricks Still Work

Mark Goldberg has a good piece in The American Prospect about efforts by Tom DeLay and George Nethercutt to further undermine the International Criminal Court.

The Bush administration has already "unsigned" the treaty creating the Court and put in place the American Serivcemembers' Protection Act which prohibits US cooperation with the ICC in any way and restricts US participation in peacekeeping operations unless US troops are exempt from ICC prosecution. Beyond that, the bill grants the president the use of "all means necessary" to release any American or allied personnel being held for trail by the ICC, meaning that Bush has the right to use military force to "rescue" any American being held for trial on war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity. I guess that is why Human Rights Watch dubbed the bill the "Hague Invasion Act."

The irony of all this is that the origins of the International Criminal Court were first set out by the US during the drafting of the Genocide Convention back in the late 1940s. The language creating an ICC had been stripped out the convention during redrafting but was put back in when the US and the Soviet Union reached a compromise over the exclusion of "political groups" from the list of those protected by the Genocide Convention. The US agreed to remove political groups from the list in return for a pledge from other countries to agree reconsider the creation of an International Criminal Court.

50 years later, the ICC was created and the US became a party - for 2 years, until Bush pulled us out.

Anyway, Goldberg offers up this example of how the World's Biggest Asshole is trying to frighten his colleagues into supporting this current attempt to further undermine, and ultimately destroy, the ICC
During the floor debate on the amendment, DeLay took the opportunity to serve up the kind of red meat that would play well in certain constituencies, particularly in a time of war. After referring to the ICC as "Kofi Annan's kangaroo court," he warned his colleagues of what they might face in November if they voted against the amendment: "If you want to go home to your constituents and tell them that you think their tax dollars should go to foreign countries who allow American soldiers to be imprisoned and shipped off to Brussels without their constitutional rights, then by all means vote 'no' on the Nethercutt Amendment."
This sort of rhetoric is exactly that same fear-mongering and disinformation tactic that the Right Wing used to keep the US from ratifying the Genocide Convention for 40 years.

The Convention was ratified by the requisite 20 member states in 1951, but for forty years right-wing groups, ranging from the racist, anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby to the Eagle Forum, urged their allies in the Senate, such as Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond and Orrin Hatch, to do everything in their power to prevent US ratification of the Convention. And they did. With the exception of Dwight Eisenhower, every president since Harry Truman had endorsed the treaty, but right-wing groups nonetheless vigorously lobbied against ratification through a campaign of exaggeration, misrepresentation and scare-tactics.

In the early 1950's and 1960's, opponents of the treaty warned that ratification of the Convention could lead to genocide prosecutions of American citizens for participating in lynchings, and that the United States could be held accountable for committing "genocide" against blacks or Native Americans. Intentionally ignoring the Convention's own requirement that such actions qualified as genocide only if they were carried out with the intent to destroy such groups, opponents repeatedly asserted that it would endanger Jim Crow laws and undermine "state's rights" while putting American citizens at risk of being charged with genocide for engaging in discrimination or segregation.

Even after President Reagan began arguing in 1984 that ratification was necessary to blunt international criticism, especially from Russia, and charges of hypocrisy on the issue of human rights, opponents continued to attack the convention, calling it nothing but a "piece of propaganda and a constitutional embarrassment" and a "trap to ensnare American citizens and our allies."

The Senate finally adopted a resolution of ratification in 1986 by a vote of 83 to 11, but even with the passage of the resolution, known as the Lugar-Helms-Hatch Sovereignty Package, the US did not immediately become a party to the convention. Amongst the various "reservations," "understandings," and "declarations" in the Sovereignty Package was a condition that the US would not officially become a party until the Senate enacted domestic legislation implementing the convention. Almost three more years passed before that legislation, known as the Proxmire Act, was enacted.

Even then, there was no permanent means by which the international community could try those individuals accused of genocide - thus, the ICC was created.

And for the last four years, Republicans have been trying to systematically destroy it.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 11:55 AM

A Meaningless Line in the Sand

The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay-rights advocacy group that tries to influence GOP policies. LCR's Political Director Christopher Barron took questions earlier this week on the Washington Post's "Live Online" web program. Here is one question-and-answer exchange that reveals just how politically impotent and irrelevent LCR i:
A Maryland resident: Last October, [then-LCR leader Patrick] Guerrero stated that the Log Cabin Republicans could not endorse any Republican candidate -- including George Bush -- who backs a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Six months ago, Bush announced his support for just such an amendment.
Yet as recently as this morning's Post, we read about the Log Cabin Republicans' demand "that President Bush square his actions with his rhetoric of inclusiveness or risk losing their endorsement." The Log Cabin Republicans boldly drew a line in the sand, and George Bush crossed it. Yet six months later the LCRs are still considering an endorsement. This diminishes the group's credibility in the eyes of both non-gay Republicans and non-Republican gays. How will you overcome this?

Barron: The organization has made it clear for months that we traditionally make decisions about endorsement on the Presidential level AFTER the [Republican National Convention]. We are doing just that, our Board will make a decision in the coming days.
In other words, when LCR drew a line in the sand, it was utterly meaningless.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 11:41 AM

Daily Darfur

Explain this: The UN said conditions for the refugees are getting worse
The humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to worsen, with ongoing violations and the rainy season at its peak which is hampering and disrupting the flow of international aid very often," Simon Pluess, spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), told a news briefing.
But the UN is expected to report that enough progress has been made to satisfy the Security Council and avoid immediate sanctions.

Meanwhile, Passion of the Present reports that Kofi Annan will report that Sudan has not met UN demands to disarm the Janjaweed.

Human Rights Watch warns that "a plan to create 'safe areas' in Darfur may only consolidate ethnic cleansing without offering real protection to civilians."

Former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke said that the UN, the U.S. and the international community are doing too little to stem the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

The author of the Human Rights Watch report "Darfur Destroyed" says "quiet diplomacy does not work."

CNN ran an interview with Sudan's president Omar Ahmad al-Bashir
Amanpour: The position of your government, is that you responded to a rebellion in the west, in retrospect, given that tens of thousands of people have been killed, that a million of have been displaced from their homes, that 2 million people now are dependent on outside aid, do you believe that the governments response, that the military campaign was too heavy, went too far?

Bashir: Really, its not a question of "is it too heavy or too far." The reaction was equal to their action. There were rebels who carried weapons against the state, they started the attack against positions of the state, they attacked 89 police stations, they attacked the Armed Forces, they entered Fasher -- the state capital, so the state had no option but to use force and I guarantee you that the force used was limited because this is an internal security and the principle is to use as little force as possible.

Amanpour: So you don't believe that you used excessive force?

Bashir: We did not use forces beyond what was necessary as evidence in that when the main operations were over, and before the suppression of the rebellion in its entirety which we could have done, we stopped operations when we quelled the rebellion and completely prevented their operations.

Amanpour: Do you think 30,000 to 50,000 deaths and a million people displaced, do you think it was worth it to win this war?

Bashir: The first thing is that we don't agree with these numbers, neither the number of deaths or the number of those displaced. We estimate that the number of deaths on all sides from the rebels and the government to not exceed 5,000 deaths, the displaced, of course all those numbers are exaggerated, the actual numbers are a lot less than those given.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:41 AM

God Is Speaking To Us, If We Would But Listen

Late July, 2004. The Red Sox are mired in months of mediocrity. They have fallen so far behind the Yankees that even their most die-hard fans have given up on the division title and are praying for a wild-card birth.

Then Red Sox fan John Kerry throws out the first pitch at Fenway a few days before the Democrats arrive in town to nominate him.

The Red Sox catch fire, going 21-7 in August. They close their best month of the season with seven straight wins.

Late August, 2004. Former Mayor and avid Yankee fan Rudolph Giuliani gives a speech welcoming the GOP to New York. The party incessantly refers to the tragedy that befell the city three years earlier; delegates prepare to nominate George W. Bush.

The Yankees are promptly crushed--at home--by the Cleveland Indians, 22-0. It is the worst defeat, by far, in Yankee history, and equals the most lopsided shutout in "modern" Major League history (i.e., since 1900). Before the Republicans arrived, the Indians hadn't won in New York in three years. The slaughter cuts the Yankees' lead over Boston--which had been 10 1/2 games only two weeks earlier--to 3 1/2 games.

Eighty years later, baseball broadcasters continue to blame the Yankees' 21st-century futility on the Curse of Dubya.

posted by Arnold P. California at 9:16 AM

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Ready to Hurl?

Both of these facts leave me with a sick feeling in my stomach. The question is: Which one of these makes me want to hurl more?
* In the Republican primary for Florida's U.S. Senate race, Mel Martinez is so desperate to cut into Bill McCollum's social conservative base that Martinez has distributed a flier calling McCollum "the new darling of homosexual extremists." Why? He supported a hate-crimes bill. (Martinez neglected to explain why someone who voted pro-gay rights only 18% of the time in the '99 Congressional session would be a "darling" of gay people.)

* Two of Mel Martinez' leading campaign operatives are gay -- finance director Kirk Fordham and John Dowless, a political consultant retained by the Martinez campaign. But it gets even better than that. I'm told (not yet confirmed) that Fordham once worked for another homophobe, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. And Dowless -- this is confirmed -- not only is the former director of the Christian Coalition of Florida, but the Washington Blade reports that "one reason he resigned from the Christian Coalition was because of his frustration at the group’s inability to push its agenda through the Florida Legislature as much as he would have liked."
Answer: The 2nd item.

There are a handful of Republicans who are not pro-discrimination, anti-gay bigots. Not many of them, but there are definitely some out there. If you're gay and you happen to be Republican, work for one of them. Continuing to work for GOP candidates who use gays as a political punching bag is lower than pond scum. How friggin' self-loathing can Fordham and Dowless be?

As unctuous as both of these facts may be, there is a sliver of good news to pass on. Martinez' despicable tactics have not come without a cost. According to the Washington Post:
... the St. Petersburg Times, one of the state's most influential newspapers, took the rare step of withdrawing its endorsement of Republican Mel R. Martinez ... The paper's stinging editorial chided Martinez for taking "his campaign into the gutter with hateful and dishonest attacks" against [McCollum].

posted by Frederick Maryland at 4:39 PM

Another Bush Flip-Flop

And this one took only 24 hours. The Washington Post reports:
President Bush rushed Tuesday morning to reverse his assertion that the war on terror cannot be won, trying to deflect a planned barrage of Democratic attacks by telling the nation's largest veterans group that "we are winning, and we will win."

Bush, asked about "this war on terror" in an interview aired Monday on NBC's "Today" show, had said: "I don't think you can win it."

But with Democrats castigating him as a defeatist, he told the annual convention of the American Legion that "in this different kind of way, we may never sit down at a peace table ... make no mistake about it: We are winning and we will win," he said, to applause.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 4:33 PM

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

The newest scandal of Campaign 2004 -- did George W. Bush actually earn a varsity letter in cheerleading at Yale, his alma mater? For more on the details, click here.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 4:29 PM

I Almost Sympathize

The folks at The Corner are miffed at the way in which Bush's "I don't think you can win" comments have been taken out of context by the media and the Democrats. Here's what Ramesh Ponnuru had to say:

BUSH'S "GAFFE" [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Looked terrible, until I actually read the exchange. He is clearly saying that the war cannot be won in four years; he is probably right; and the Democratic spin Jonah mentioned should not be taken seriously.
This was almost as bad as the time they hounded Bush over and over and over again about wanting to wage a "sensitive" war on terror, once again taking him completely out of context. Remember what they said?

America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive. President Lincoln and General Grant did not wage sensitive warfare -- nor did President Roosevelt, nor Generals Eisenhower and MacArthur. A "sensitive war" will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more. The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity.

A “more sensitive” war on terror? What does that mean, handwritten thank-you notes to informants?

I just kind of shook my head when I heard that. With all due respect to the President, it just sounded so foolish. I can't imagine that al Qaeda is going to be impressed by sensitivity. (Laughter.)....This is kind of right-wing foolishness that certainly isn't appropriate for someone who would seek to be Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)

"Sensitive" isn't one of the adjectives most people want describing America's war on terrorism. It's like promising weapons systems "softer than a baby's bottom."


George Bush has now promised to wage a more “sensitive” war on terror. There’s a campaign theme! And what else? Jackson Browne for Secretary of Defense? If the Kerry/Edwards operation cannot ensure that the whole country has heard this one by Election Day, then they just don’t know their business.
Oh, those dastardly Dems!

posted by Noam Alaska at 4:06 PM

Blogosphere: 1, Anti-Gay Republican Hypocrites: 0

A politician has recently stepped down from public office, backing off their reelection campaign with less than two months left until election day. They claim that allegations about their personal life recently posted on the web prevents them from being able to do their job. However, they never actually bother to address or deny the allegations that assert that they are secretly homosexual-- so what are the people supposed to think?
Rep. Edward L. Schrock (R-Va.) abruptly dropped out of his race for a third term yesterday, citing unspecified "allegations" that he said called into question his ability to represent his Virginia Beach district.

In a statement, Schrock, 63, did not address the nature of the allegations, but he said they "will not allow my campaign to focus on the real issues facing our nation and region." His chief of staff, Tom Gordy, refused any further comment last night.
Schrock is no moderate Republican. He's a a "family values" guy who is an outspoken co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, has a 92% rating from the Christian Coalition and he's Pat Robertson's own congressman. Schrock doesn't even think that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" goes far enough--
[Schrock] supported asking enlistees whether they have had homosexual experiences in an effort to try to keep gays from serving.

"You're in the showers with them, you're in the bunk room with them, you're in staterooms with them," Schrock told the Virginian-Pilot. "You just hope no harm would come by folks who are of that persuasion. It's a discipline thing."
In other words-- if he is indeed gay or bisexual-- he's been living in a HUGE self-hating closet, has furthered his career with his anti-gay beliefs and represents a very conservative, very unforgiving district.

Dropping out the race and refusing to address (or deny) the allegations are not the actions of a straight man.

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 3:13 PM

Ask a Stupid Question and ...

A friend who lives in New York City passed on this tale.

He was eating lunch at a restaurant yesterday, and his waiter was wearing one of those "ReDefeat Bush" buttons. The adjacent table was filled with GOP convention delegates. A female delegate seated at that nearby table, having noticed the button, got the waiter's attention and posed a question to him.

"Hon," she asked in a thick Southern drawl, "how come all y'all in New York City dislike the president so much?"

In an earnest tone, the waiter replied:
"Most people in this city spend a lot of time riding subways, buses and other mass transit. So we have a lot more time to read than most Americans -- time to read newspapers, news magazines and the other things that explain what the president is doing to this country. And that is probably why we dislike the president so much."

posted by Frederick Maryland at 3:00 PM

A Good Law in Ohio, But ...

Four years ago, thousands of Florida voters were incorrectly stricken from the voter rolls due to a (deliberately?) aggressive felon-purge list developed by Jeb Bush's administration. Forget the "hanging chads" and the butterfly ballots; this is what cost Al Gore the presidency. Florida happens to have one of the strictest laws preventing ex-felons from recovering their right to vote.

Ohio, a critical swing state in 2004, happens to have a good law concerning ex-felon enfranchisement. According to Ohioblog, the in-house blog of the Akron Beacon-Journal, "Felons get their right to vote back as soon as they get out of prison." Unfortunately, those who leave the state's prison system are frequently misinformed about this fact. Ohioblog (registration req'd) reports:
... Ohio felons who have done their time have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati to straighten out the issue of whether they have the right to vote. The roots of the problem shouldn’t surprise anyone ...

... (According to Ohioblog) Ohio public officials too often -- 50 percent of employees -- make it difficult or impossible for citizens to get public information in a timely fashion. Election officials, according to David Singleton, executive director of the Prison Reform Advocacy Center in Cincinnati, have given incorrect information that has deprived as many as 21,000 Ohio felons from voting.

The lawsuit contends that election officials have told felons they couldn’t vote until they have completed their parole periods or that they’re required to fill out unnecessary paperwork.

Ohioblog says let ’em vote, which happens to be the law.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 12:56 PM

Tuesday Is No Good For Me - I've Got Children To Kidnap

I don't put much faith in the LRA's proclamation that it is willing to talk, but I like the explanation as to why LRA leader Joseph Kony won't be able to participate
Representatives of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have said that the Ugandan rebel group is "keen to talk" with Uganda's government, according to a team that met a rebel delegation in the northern district of Gulu on Monday evening.

"We managed to meet three LRA rebel commanders, who said they all wanted peace talks," said Joseph Ocwet, who led a mission sent by the UK-based charity, Africa Relief Trust, to Gulu to meet the rebels. "The talks were successful."

"They told us that we could start talks in a week's time depending on the response from the government and after their consultations with senior rebel commanders," added Ocwet, who is also Uganda's ambassador to the African Union. "They told us that LRA leader Joseph Kony was willing to take part in the talks, but at a later date because he will not be available next week."
Kony is the leader of a guerilla force - he kidnaps, kills and pillages; he doesn't do much else.

You'd think he'd be able to re-arrange his schedule and put that all on hold for a few days.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 11:15 AM

Where College Students Vote

After facing resistance when they tried to register to vote in the cities and towns where they attend college, several students decided to form the Student Voting Rights Campaign. SVRC is calling for a "day of action" on Sept. 23, urging students to register en masse -- even if they initially meet with resistance.

This is a significant issue because college students who cannot vote locally and must vote absentee are, not surprisingly, less likely to vote. The Associated Press reports:
Young Han tried to register to vote in the New York town where he attends college but got a letter telling him to cast an absentee ballot where his parents live, more than 2,000 miles away. In Virginia, Luther Lowe and Serene Alami were told much the same -- their campus addresses at the College of William and Mary were deemed "temporary."

With so much emphasis on getting young people to the polls this election, the issue of where college students can register to vote is getting more attention. And some students -- who believe they should have the right to vote where they live most of the year -- are getting organized.

"We plan to push this issue," says Han, a 21-year old junior at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, who's originally from a Seattle suburb. "Students are being disenfranchised."

... Students in some states will find they have no problem, say researchers at the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Salisbury University in Maryland. ... "Local politicians are very unsure about students," says Michael O'Loughlin, a political science professor at Salisbury. "They enjoy having students pay (sales) taxes and contribute to the economy. But they are wary of how students could influence politics at a local level."

... [Several students have] filed a federal lawsuit demanding the right to vote in their college town and to run for city council. They say students deserve to have a voice in local issues that directly affect them -- housing ordinances, for instance.

"It makes no sense for me to vote in a city election where my parents live," says Lowe, a 22-year-old (William & Mary) senior who is represented in the lawsuit. "I live in Williamsburg nine months out of the year."

posted by Frederick Maryland at 9:50 AM

Things I Normally Like

Generally, I like people who care about human rights and I like the ACLU - but in this case, I don't like either
At least one protester was taken into custody as a march of several thousand people organized by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign approached Madison Square Garden, Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said. Demonstrators knocked a police officer off a motor scooter and "kicked and pummeled'' him, Browne said. The officer, not immediately identified, was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital with unspecified injuries.


Three arrests occurred en route on the otherwise peaceful march -- two for disorderly conduct and one for punching an officer in the face, Browne said. The scooter incident created a brief flurry of pushing and shoving as officers waded into the crowd to clear them from the intersection of 29th Street and Eighth Avenue.

Chris Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union said police have been too aggressive with the vehicles, saying, "Scooters as a crowd control tactic is a dangerous thing,'' he said.
Nothing shows your commitment to protecting human rights and civil liberties like beating up a cop and then blaming the victim.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:40 AM

Daily Darfur

There is a report that Austria and 13 other countries are preparing a rapid intervention force under the UN's "Multinational Standby High Readiness Brigade for United Nations Operations" program. The report says that preparations are quite advanced and that a mission could be on the ground almost immediately were the UN to give it a mandate.

The deadline for Sudan meeting the UN's demands has expired and UN is expected to take up the issue on Thursday.

The Christian Science Monitor takes a look at why China and Russia are opposed to pressuring or sanctioning Sudan.

The UN says that attacks on refugees are still a major problem.

The UN is searching for at least 8 relief workers believed to have been kidnapped by rebels in Darfur.

There is a report that the Catholic bishops of Sudan have appealed for international action in Darfur
"If the government in Khartoum is unwilling to shoulder its responsibilities, then we call for an immediate intervention by the international community," the bishops said in a statement released last week. "As bishops we cannot overlook the annihilation of any ethnic group, whatever their creed, nature, or clan."
The Guardian ran this story
On a shallow slope between two hills of orange rock and sand, a man's body lies curled in a foetal position. His hands are thrown up as if to protect his face from the bullet that punched a hole in his temple. A few feet away on the bare slope, another man's body lies between two youths. His arms are stretched out to the two younger ones, as if he was embracing them at the moment of death.

This was the scene of an execution in north-western Darfur. The killings took place in April, but scenes like this are being repeated in Sudan now.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:17 AM

Greetings from the Land of Wooden-Shoe-Wearing, Pot-Smoking Freaks

The California family decamped from New York earlier this month and has settled in the Netherlands. The title of this post refers to a cartoon I had tacked to my office wall in New York. It came out after State Department spokesman Richard Boucher's statement about a meeting among Germany, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg to advance their proposal for a European military command separate from NATO:
He described the April meeting as one between "four countries that got together and had a little bitty summit" and then referred to them collectively as "the chocolate makers."
The cartoon was a map of Europe purportedly showing the State Department's official new names for each country, starting with Chocolate Makers for the foregoing countries and including Schwarzeneggerland, Beet-eating Borscht Bastards, and so on. This post's title reflects the Netherlands' new appellation.

Anyway, just a quick message to explain my lengthy absence from the blog (don't pretend you haven't noticed) and pass on my first tidbit of wisdom from the Coalition of the Willing. Yes, the Netherlands is in the coalition, which is presumably why it didn't qualify as a Chocolate Maker, even though Droste makes far better chocolate than anything coming out of France or Germany. Granted, it didn't send any troops during major combat operations, but it's now got around 1000 people there under British command and even had the honor of having one of its soldiers killed recently.

Nonetheless, the public here doesn't seem to be on board. I can't claim to be an expert on Dutch society or politics, but the few scraps I've picked up aren't positive. For one thing, I haven't met anyone who wants Bush to win the election. A prominent Dutch magazine that was on the newstands when we arrived had a picture of Dubya on the cover with the question: "Why Does the Netherlands Hate This Man So Much?" When I visited in May, books like Richard Clarke's were on the bestseller list; now, Clinton's autobiography is up there and Fahrenheit 9/11 is a very popular movie. I've even seen Al Franken's book in Dutch translation. The title ("Lies and the Lying Liars . . . .") is translated literally, and it includes (less prominently) the photos of O'Reilly, Coulter, and Bush that are on the American edition, but somehow I suspect a lot is lost on Dutch readers. (Anyway, most of these books are read in the original here, since most people read English well and Dutch translations are quite expensive given the small market.

In fact, the Dutch are remarkably well-informed about American government and politics. The first newscast I watched here led off with a report on Donald Rumsfeld's latest words/actions (can't remember the details) that clearly assumed viewers were familiar with the guy. I live here and I don't know even the name of the Prime Minister, let alone the Defense Minister. And frankly, Donald Rumsfeld matters more to my life, and in some respects to the lives of my Dutch neighbors, than does the Dutch P.M. Flipping from station to station this morning, I found all of them reporting on the Necropublican Convention in New York. The difference between me and my neighbors is that I'll get to vote in the election that will affect all of our fates.

(The description of the book on a Dutch site says in part according to an Internet translator:
"After Bill O'Reilly (boss and talkshowhost of fox News, and the ugly man on the front of this book) had summoned already francs [Franken] for the judge, because he it had ventured the slogan of fox as a subtitle for Leugens [Lies] News - honest and balanced - to present, shot sale of this book only omhoog [higher]. O'Reilly lost the lawsuit. Van Leugens has been sold in America than one million copies already more.").
The adjective used to describe O'Reilly (lelijk) does mean "ugly," but according to my Dutch-English dictionary, it also has the senses of "nasty" and "angry," so I think it captures the man's essence better than any single English word. From now on, when you see O'Reilly, think lelijk.)

posted by Arnold P. California at 3:48 AM

Monday, August 30, 2004

New Bush Ad Taxes the Truth

The independent has reviewed a new Bush-Cheney TV ad that brands Kerry a tax-hiker., funded through an Annenberg grant, analyzes political ads. Here's its assessment of the newest Bush-Cheney ad on taxes:
The Bush-Cheney campaign released a television ad August 23 accusing Kerry of casting "98 votes for tax increases." The number is an improvement on Bush's earlier claim that Kerry cast 350 votes for "higher taxes," which we described as inflated. But even the new, reduced total is padded.

Of the 98 votes for "tax increases," 43 were cast on budget measures that only set targets and don't actually legislate tax increases. Often, several votes are counted regarding a single tax bill.

The ad also strives to blame Kerry for raising taxes on the "middle class" and says "There's what Kerry says and then there's what Kerry does." But a close look shows the votes cited in this ad are in fact fairly consistent with Kerry's promise only to raise taxes on those making over $200,000 a year.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 5:31 PM

Can You Repeat That, General?

Judging from how relentlessly the Bush campaign has blasted John Kerry as a flip-flopper, you'd think the Bush administration were a pillar of ideological and strategic consistency. But Iraq demonstrates that the Bushies' strategy has taken a very dramatic turn since April 12, when we heard from the military officer above.

George W. Bush is our commander-in-chief. He and his top advisers make or approve the major strategic decisions that guide U.S. military actions in Iraq. So why, last Friday, did U.S. forces pull back from the Iraqi city of Najaf and acquiesce in a truce permitting radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to remain free?

Bear in mind that al-Sadr is a cleric who: 1) has actively encouraged his followers to kill U.S. military personnel; 2) was branded an outlaw by Paul Bremer; and 3) has been charged with involvement in the killing of a rival cleric. All of these are reasons why, back on April 12, Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, described the U.S. mission as follows:
"The mission of U.S. forces is to kill or capture Moqtada al-Sadr. That is our mission."
No, general. That was your mission.

Within days of Lt.-Gen. Sanchez's no-nonsense message, the "kill or capture" mission began to get watered down -- even long before the U.S. transfer of power to the Allawi regime. Later in April, for example, Brigadier-General Mark Herling offered a soundbite that initially sounded tough, but suggested that al-Sadr could 'buy' a political role for himself by agreeing to a ceasefire.
"We're going to drive this guy Sadr into the dirt. Either he tells his militia to put down their arms, form a political party and fight with ideas not guns, or he's going to find a lot of them killed."
This was a subtle but important shift from Lt. Gen. Sanchez's "kill or capture" mission.

But Gen. Sanchez's mission statement is forgotten at the State Department, which is pleased as punch about this truce. Deputy Sec. of State Richard Armitage called the agreement ending fighting in Najaf a "tremendous victory."

Never mind that al-Sadr's militia remains armed. And never mind that one week before this truce, Iraq's prime minister had said, "We will categorically not allow armed militias. This is the final call to them to disarm ..."
Yeah. Right.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 3:55 PM

Strengthening the Call for Jihad

Remember when President Bush recently assailed John Kerry for daring to suggest that by waging the Iraq war had actually enhanced terrorist recruitment by bin Laden-style cells? This article from a Middle East newspaper seems to provide yet additional evidence that this is precisely the case. The Gulf Daily News (Bahrain) reports:
Iraq is attracting Islamic militants from across the world determined to join the 'holy war' against the US-led occupation, the son of Osama bin Laden's mentor Abdullah Azzam said in an interview.

"Hundreds of Muslims from all over Arab and non-Arab countries go to Iraq to help the resistance end the occupation, spurred by the conviction that jihad is a duty against the occupier," said Hudayfa Azzam, 34.
Incidentally, while I agree with Kerry's assessment, how does this square with his now-infamous view that he too would have supported an Iraq invasion even if he'd known there were no WMDs?

posted by Frederick Maryland at 3:46 PM

Bush: Unscripted

There is something profoundly disturbing about watching Bush in settings where he has to think on his feet. Bush was interviewed by Matt Lauer on the Today Show but I can't find a link to the transcript, though I did manage to track it down elsewhere. Reading it over, one can't help but get the impression that he understands nothing but his own talking points
LAUER: Let me ask you about deficits. This year $445 billion. That's--ballpark, do you think that's pretty good?

Pres. BUSH: Yeah, I do. I do.

LAUER: All right.

Pres. BUSH: By the way, less than projected.
A $445 billion deficit is "good" because the White House initially inflated its own projection to well over $500 billion - and since it turned out to be less than they unrealistically projected, the deficit is in good shape. Pure genius.

But then Bush gives us a quick view of his real concern as he and Lauer travel through Ohio
LAUER: So you think if you look out the window here. You know, I don't know if we can see because of the rain...

Pres. BUSH: I think I'm going to win Ohio.

LAUER: You think--or you...

Pres. BUSH: I do.

LAUER: You do? They're struggling in a lot of places here.

Pres. BUSH: Well, some places they are, and some places the economy's growing. You're right.

LAUER: So you think they--they will answer that famous question, `Are you better off--are you better off today than you were four years ago?' in the affirmative?

Pres. BUSH: I think over 50 percent will. Yes, sir. I do. I do.
So long as 50% think they are better off than they were 4 years ago, Bush has done his job. So long as he gets re-elected, it doesn't really matter if 49% think they are worse off, or if 60% are actually worse off only don't realize it - so long as a bare majority thinks they are better off, Bush is pleased.

Finally, his "I don't think you can win" the war on terrorism quote is getting a lot of press, but I wanted to place it in context of a statement he made later in the interview
LAUER: You--you said to me a second ago one of the things you'll lay out in your vision for the next four years is how to go about winning the war on terror. That phrase strikes me a little bit. Do you really think we can win this war of terror--on terror, for example, in the next four years?

Pres. BUSH: I have never said we can win it in four years.

LAUER: No, I'm just saying, can we win it? Do you see that?

Pres. BUSH: I don't--I don't think you can win it, but I think you can create conditions so that the--those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world, let's put it that way. I have a two-prong strategy. On the one hand it's to find them before they hurt us. And that's necessary. I'm telling you it's necessary. The country must never yield, must never show weakness, must continue to lead to find the al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda affiliates who are hiding around the world and who want to harm us and bring them to justice. And we're doing a good job of it. I mean, we are dismantling al-Qaeda as we--as we knew it.

The long-term strategy is to spread freedom and liberty, and that's really kind of an interesting debate. It's--you know, there are some who say, `Well, you know, certain people can't self-govern and--and accept, you know, a form of democracy.' I--I just strongly disagree with that. I believe that democracy can take hold in parts of the world that are now non-democratic, and I think it's necessary in order to defeat the ideologies of hate. History has shown that it can work, that spreading liberty does work. After all, Japan is our close ally, and my dad--and I don't know about your relatives--but fought against the Japanese. And here Koizumi--Prime Minister Koizumi is one of the closest collaborators I have in working to make the world a more peaceful place.
Ignore all the jabbering about democracy and Koizumi and keep his "I don't think you can win" quote in mind as you read this
Pres. BUSH: You know, I think if--I know if we're steadfast, strong and resolute--and I--I say those words very seriously--it's less likely that your kids are going to live under the threat of al-Qaeda for a long period of time. I can't tell you--I don't have a, you know, a definite end, but I'll tell you this: When we succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's the beginning of the end for these extremists because freedom is going to have a powerful influence to make sure your kids can grow up in a peaceful world. And, you know, it's a--if we believe, for example, that you can't win, then the alternative is to retreat. And I think that would be a disaster for your children. We cannot show weakness in this world today because the enemy will exploit that weakness. They will--it will embolden them and--and make the world a more dangerous place.
Didn't he just say we can't win? Is he advocating retreat or does he just not know what the hell he is talking about?

posted by Eugene Oregon at 2:07 PM

FactCheck Examines DNC Ad

As attacks on John Kerry's national security record grow, the Democratic National Committee is now airing a TV ad to counter this assault. Here is the script of the DNC ad:
It's beneath the office of the President. We were all together in this country after 9/11, and we all wish it had stayed that way. But now President Bush is attacking John Kerry on terrorism. And once again, his facts are wrong.

John Kerry fought to establish the Department of Homeland Security. George Bush opposed it for almost a year after 9/11.

And John Kerry was fighting for legislation to cut off terrorist money laundering even before 9/11. His proposal became a key part of the Patriot Act.

Now, John Kerry has a plan to fight terrorism the smart way -- double the number of Special Forces, focus on nuclear terrorism, and rebuild our international alliances so we can fight terrorism together.

John Kerry, a president to make us stronger.

(Disclaimer by DNC)
The website, operated through an Annenberg grant, analyzes ads from all sides to determine their accuracy. According to's review, the DNC ad gets decent marks for accuracy. Some key points from the analysis:
* "The ad says Kerry 'was fighting for legislation to cut off terrorist money laundering before 9/11.' And in fact, a section of a Kerry bill on money-laundering was virtually copied into the PATRIOT Act and praised by Bush administration officials."

* "The ad claims 'Kerry fought to establish the Department of Homeland Security.' (emphasis added) That's a bit of puffery: Kerry did support the legislation but wasn't a cosponsor of the reorganization bill ..."

* "The ad gets it right when it says Bush opposed creation of the department (of Homeland Security) at first. ... Bush didn't change course until several months later ... Simple math shows that less than nine months passed between Sept. 11, 2001 and June 6, 2002. Calling that 'almost a year' is an exaggeration (of the DNC ad)."
Actually, could even be tougher on the DNMC ad's nine-months reference. Starting the clock on the day of the actual terrorist attacks doesn't make sense. One could argue that the clock (between when Bush first opposed DHS and when he changed his position to support DHS's creation) should begin when the administration first articulated its opposition, which was weeks after Sept. 11.

This means that the window of Bush's flip-flop on DHS extended less than eight months.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 11:44 AM

Beating a Dead Whore

I don't know why Zell Miller's "I'm-a-Democrat-but-Support-George-Bush" shtick still bothers me - but it does. And today I received an e-mail from him
In just two days, I will speak again in New York, but this time the party is the Republicans, and this time the candidate is George W. Bush. While much has changed in the last 12 years, my Party has not. I'm still a Democrat, and I support the President.


I have been asked many times why I, and so many other Democrats, support President Bush. The answer is simple - he is the right man to lead our nation at this time.

I have also been asked why I don't support John Kerry. That answer is also simple - you can't make a chicken swim and you can't make John Kerry anything but an out-of-touch ultra liberal from Massachusetts.
Blah, blah, blah - whatever.

But then Miller throws this in
Let me say as clearly as I can, what Lieutenant John Kerry did in Vietnam, is to be praised, and we should thank him for it every day, but not his shameful record on national defense as a U.S. Senator. And not for voting to send our troops to war, but against the $87 billion to give them the equipment to fight that war.
Now, I realize that Miller didn't actually write this e-mail - it was written by some RNC development associate, but this "Kerry voted against body armor" talking point is getting old.

So I tracked down the roll call votes going on around the time this $87 billion appropriation was being debated in the Senate and came across Senate Amendment 1817 - I'll let Chris Dodd explain it
I rise to propose this amendment to the emergency supplemental spending bill to ensure that Congress and the administration keep sight of what I believe must remain our number one priority for the conduct of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the protection of our American troops.

According to the U.S. Army, the President's supplemental bill falls short of over $200 million for critical gear for our soldiers slated to rotate in Iraq and Afghanistan in the months ahead. This amendment was designed specifically to see to it that those U.S. troops coming into Iraq, into a theater of war, would receive important equipment they need to perform their missions effectively. This equipment includes important high-tech body armor, bullet-proof helmets, special water packs to keep soldiers hydrated, and other survival gear.


Out of $324.5 million needed to fund this program in Iraq and Afghanistan, only $122.5 million was to be available in this supplemental budget bill. That means if our soldiers, many of whom are less than 21 years of age, making under $20,000 a year, want the right gear for their mission, they are going to have to dig into their own pockets to buy their own hydration equipment, radios, weapon sights, combat helmets, and individual body armor.


For those reasons, I have asked my colleagues to support this amendment to allocate an additional $322 million for the critical equipment of our troops and adequate resources for battlefield clearance to fully meet the Army's current requirements.


I do not believe any of my colleagues, if they were sitting down going over this in detail, would make a case that in $20 billion of construction money for Iraq, that a $100 million witness protection program, $400 million to double or triple the prison cells at $50,000 a bed in their prisons, and that $3,000 for computers--and $40 million, by the way, is to provide computer training--I would like to see someone get a $40 million appropriation to provide computer training for anyone else in this country, let alone to do it over in Iraq.

So these are the areas that we would take money from to provide for the $322 million to provide for the men and women in uniform who need these resources.
Now who would vote against that?

Well, Zell Miller and every other Republican, that's who.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 10:35 AM

Televangelist Jokes of Killing Gays

After televangelist Jimmy Swaggart admitted to a sexual liaison with prostitute Debra Murphree in 1988 -- prompting his tearful "I have sinned" speech -- the Stone-Age fundamentalist went into virtual hiding. Years later, the Louisiana-based preacher returned to the airwaves where he continues to spew incredibly hateful and caustic rhetoric.

Yesterday afternoon on a Washington, D.C. cable TV channel, Swaggart took this to a new level. He began discussing gay marriage and applauded President Bush's support for the Federal Marriage Amendment. Then Swaggart told his audience that he had "never met a man I wanted to marry." Moments later, he added with a slightly sarcastic tone:
"If one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died."
His audience laughed.

I've gotten used to anti-gay rhetoric, but I thought the tone of these polemics had advanced beyond the "let's go kill a queer" to a slightly more nuanced rant of "that lifestyle threatens our values." Obviously, Swaggart is trying to revive the old school.

I don't ever expect anyone to change Swaggart's mind and somehow prevail on him to stop making statements that justify or condone the murder of gay people (especially when he's able to get a snicker of agreement from his audience). Before you can change Swaggart's mind on this issue, you'd first have to clear it of all the cobwebs. However, if you're a Christian and want to respond to Swaggart, you can by sending an e-mail here.

Better yet, consider joining and contributing to groups that challenge those who use the Bible as a convenient prop for advancing bigotry, discrimination and hate -- Americans United, Human Rights Campaign, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, speaking of gay men: "And if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him ..."

posted by Frederick Maryland at 10:32 AM

Bush Policy and 9/11

Yesterday, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie explained that remembering the 9/11 tragedies will be a central part of the GOP convention. Why? Because, as Gillespie explained:
"How you approach the world after September 11th is a factor in this election."
Indeed, it is. Will President W. kindly explain to the American people why ...

* after opposing the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, he changed positions and supported it. In Republican parlance, that's a flip-flop.

* the Bush administration has made Wyoming, Dick Cheney's former stomping grounds, the best-funded state on a per-capita basis for homeland security. (Am I missing something? Was Matthew Shepherd murdered by bin Laden or home-grown homophobes?) The overwhelming majority of the $13.1 billion in initial homeland security funding for states, wrote Time magazine's Amanda Ripley recently, "was distributed with no regard for the threats, vulnerabilities and potential consequences faced by each region." Wyoming ($61) and Alaska ($58) received far more in per-capita homeland defense funding than the high-risk, more urban states of New York ($25) and California ($14).

posted by Frederick Maryland at 10:00 AM

Daily Darfur

Sudan's 30-day UN imposed deadline expires today.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir on Saturday, praising Sudan's efforts to end the crisis in the Darfur region.

During their talks, Annan said UN special envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk has presented him several reports, giving a positive comment on the situation in Darfur.

What about this?
This small village of mud and straw huts lay ruined and abandoned Sunday, the ground charred, after residents said Sudanese soldiers attacked with a warplane and helicopters, driving farmers from their homes days before a U.N. deadline to end the violence in the ravaged Darfur region.

African Union cease-fire monitors were investigating the claims of the government attack on Um Hashab, which rebel officials said came after Sudanese troops ambushed rebels nearby. The rebels say assaults by the government and Arab militiamen have continued in the past week, the latest on Sunday.
Reuters reports
The onset of the rainy season will worsen an already critical situation for refugees in Sudan's Darfur region, raising the risk of cholera and malaria outbreaks, international aid group Oxfam said on Monday.

"The scale of this disaster is immense," Oxfam's regional director, Caroline Nursey, said in a statement after returning from Darfur, which the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The UN is appealing for $166 million in order to cope with the 200,000+ refugees who've fled into Chad. So far, they have received only $80 million.

Finally, Sudan has put 10 military pilots on trial for refusing to bomb civilians in Darfur. They've been accused of espionage and of plotting a coup. The men's lawyers say they have been denied access to their clients, some of whom they allege have been tortured. The accused all face the death penalty.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:28 AM

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