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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Voting irregularities go to Congress... 

This from my homey, TB, in the heart of Bushland...

http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/ohblackwellltr12204.pdf

This is the most complete list of irregularities I have seen- and it comes from congress. Will be interesting to see where this goes.

At least it will be on record years from now when people look back and ask, "What did *you* do when Bush seized the country?"

On a positive note, Dean is honing his skills while doing his best to save this country from the dangerous slide right:

We would very much appreciate your participation in a survey of a random sample of people who took part in the historic presidential campaign of Gov. Howard Dean.

The governor has given his permission for the Pew Research Center, a non-partisan survey organization, to conduct this independent study in order to provide a better understanding of the unique phenomenon of his campaign and the people who comprised it.

...When the study is complete, you will be alerted by Democracy for America that the report is available on the Pew Research Center website at http://people-press.org.

My feedback? I liked that Dean was unequivocal about the War in Iraq, that he had a lot of energy, and that he had something positive to say. Was he really un-electable? I still think we should've taken the chance. And guess what? Dean is still working on change. The guy is a dynamo. Not exactly wanting in the brains department, either.

-Vulf

Friday, December 03, 2004

Putin is Bush's friend? 

Remember the Debates, and how Bush commented on Putin being his friend.

Well, with friends like these, Bush doesn't need (though certainly has) enemies...

Russian President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites) accused the United States on Friday of pursuing a dictatorial foreign policy and said mounting violence could derail progress toward bringing peace and democracy to Iraq (news - web sites).

Putin also criticized the West for setting double-standards on terrorism, pursuing Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan (
news - web sites) and Iraq while giving refuge to "terrorists" demanding Chechnya (news - web sites)'s independence from Russia.

The Kremlin leader's tough remarks came on a visit to former Cold War ally India, where he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a joint call for greater cooperation in stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq.


Unilateralism increased risks that weapons of mass destruction might fall into the hands of terrorists, and would stoke regional conflicts, Putin said in a hard-hitting speech to an invited audience.


"Even if dictatorship is packaged in beautiful pseudo-democratic phraseology, it will not be able to solve systemic problems," Putin said. "It may even make them worse."


Well said, Vladimir. But will this interfere with another trip to Crawford to watch NASCAR and swill Buds?

If India gets annoyed with the U.S. it could spell the end for www.whitehouse.gov, which likely relies on Indian software engineers to keep it running.

-Vulf

"NO"vember jobs, Sept and Oct numbers downgraded... 

Too late for the election...November new jobs shockingly low. 68,000 less than forecast, and to add insalt (salt and insult) to the injury...October's gain was marked down to 303,000 from an originally reported 337,000-job increase. The department cut September's total to 119,000 from 139,000.

That's 122,000 less jobs than advertised, but unemployment is "down" to 5.4%? Hmmm. When will the U.S. start adopting real unemployment values like they do in Europe? If you've given up, you don't count.

Don't give up. W-gate is just around the corner.

-Vulf

During war, the torture of prisoners and innocents is inevitable! 

This is part of the reason why Howard Dean and the rest of us "anti-war" folks opposed going into Iraq--even if there had been WMDs (which there weren't), and even if the Al Qaeda had been in cahoots with Saddam (which they weren't--but now due to his absence they are finding Iraq a nice testing ground for terrorism). War inevitably leads to horrors. Anything goes, because you're trying to kill other people, and it's very, very difficult to put a cap on the horror. People are trying to kill you, too, with guns, bombs, toothpicks, whatever, and then you're expected to suddenly treat them kindly when they're captured? Prisoners are suddenly transformed from armed combatants to helpless innocents under your charge?

This is nice in theory, and those who haven't seen war firsthand can swallow this noble but ultimately inaccurate depiction. Prisoners are a burden, and often are only kept alive during the battle in case they may have information that will benefit those who've captured them at a later date. Otherwise, keeping them alive slows down the battle and may lengthen the conflict.

Given, then, that prisoners are kept alive in part to extract information from--how does one get information? Humiliation and torture come to mind. And, to people back home, these events (piling naked bodies together in compromising positions, killing an Iraqi general by sitting on his chest, etc.) are atrocious. But are they really more atrocious than the "collateral" damage of an estimated 100,000 civilians killed to date, the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure, and the not-so-subtle transformation of the "welcoming populace" into a sea of potential terrorists and combatants?

Indeed, it is war that is the atrocity. Starting a war leads inevitably to the torture of prisoners and innocents. There is no other way, unless by some miracle the warriors you are fighting are actually being conscripted against their will. It is quite clear this is not the case in Iraq today.

So, given war itself is the horror, the key "moral" obligation is to NEVER START ONE UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. By this measure, Bush and Rumsfield are war criminals.

And as such, German courts will try US soldiers. Reggie Rivers says it nicely in his column (italicized below are the most germane paragraphs). I go him one further--Bush and his Administration, in starting the war, have by definition caused these problems, because otherwise the soldiers would not be there. The real question is to what extent have they condoned it. Since such war-engendered atrocities are inevitable, it seems reasonable that the extent to which they are covered up will correlate with the higher-level condonement.


"But given the range of abuses committed, the volume of allegations still being investigated, the similarity of the allegations from different parts of the battlefield and different holding facilities, is it unreasonable to suspect that the Bush administration's refusal to apply the Geneva Convention, among other policy decisions, might be creating this culture of abuse?

This question is especially relevant when we consider the people who are committing these acts. As a group, soldiers are not improvisers. From the day they join the military, soldiers are told they must obey the chain of command. Every soldier must develop the ability to follow orders immediately and without question.

...In this culture, where obedience is paramount, where disobedience can lead to death, where insubordination is met with fines, incarceration or dishonorable discharge, we're expected to believe that somehow soldiers are acting on their own.

These aren't isolated I-got-drunk-and-did- something-stupid-type incidents.
We're talking about pockets of soldiers, in different places, with no previous experience at torture, devising remarkably similar techniques for abusing prisoners over periods of weeks or months. And they're all doing it on their own initiative with no systemic guidance.


That just doesn't seem likely. Thankfully, there's a German court willing to do what the American system will not: investigate Bush administration officials to determine whether they've caused or condoned these problems.

Reggie Rivers"

-Vulf

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Thanks, BZ!!! 

A big thanks and a big hug from afar to my dear friend, BZ, for a great conversation tonight. BZ noted that even though Nixon won re-election in 1972 (an event as crushing to open-minded people then as "W"'s re-election is now), Watergate followed shortly thereafter.

We don't know what the "W"atergate will be, but the torture in Guantanamo Bay and the Ohio election fiasco come to mind. It truly is darkest right before the dawn.

Thanks, BZ, not only can you knock people around on the rink, but you knocked me out of my rut, too!!!

-Vulf

Dean's Vision for the Future: Dean addresses Stanford University 

Dean has been active and has been giving everyone a glimpse of what he would bring to the DNC and the Democratic Party. He recently addressed the Stanford population. He seems to "get it" as far as our problems and the solutions necessary for progress.

Problem:

“We don’t need two Republican Parties in this country,” Dean said. “Truman once said, ‘If you run a Republican against a Democrat who acts like a Republican, the real Republican wins every time.’”


Solutions:

Dean urged the Democratic Party leadership to present “an opposition model, a real difference” to the Republican platform. “If you ever want to win again, then stand for something, stand for what you believe in,” he said.

Democrats are “bad at messaging” their moral values, which Dean said are rooted in “a sense of obligation to each other.” He advocated speaking about charged issues on Democratic terms.

“Instead of fighting about gay marriage, what we ought to be fighting about is that every single American has the same rights as every other American,” he said. “We don’t have to debate on their terms, let’s debate them on our terms.
The article contains more on what Dean had to say. The tragedy is that the strategy of few Democratic powerbrokers, politicians or otherwise, reflect this view.

Lupus

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Stay in the closet...to help me choose clothes 

But don't plan to come out anytime soon.

Puzzlingly, networks that ran one negative ad after another during the Prez election now feel they cannot run an ad showing a gay couple being kept out of a church. More hypocrisy.

Was this the reason Rather and Brokaw left?

Oh, that damned liberal media--what a joke.

-Vulf

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Sunk-cost trap 

Why did Americans vote for Bush (even if the election may have been "tweaked", still a scary percentage did vote for him)?

It's the gambler who would rather double or nothing than go home behind (and this is most gamblers--read Robert Levine's book on the Power of Persuasion). It's the sunk cost trap. Why did Bush end one of the debates with "We've been through a lot together"? Translation, we've killed people together, you're as guilty as I am. There's blood on my hands, there's blood on yours. Stay with me as we try to come out even.

But we can't come out even. It's too late. We need to leave the casino while we still have something. No matter how many Iraqis we kill, they'll still hate us. They'll still fight us. And when we eventually do leave, they'll destroy whatever puppet government we set up.

The sunk-cost trap. It makes more sense when you consider the overwhelming support he gets from the "moral majority" of hypocrites, who can only justify their intolerant religious hatred by killing the infidels. We were attacked on 9/11 by the same type of people who rule us.

Sunk cost, indeed.

More later,
-Vulf

Surreality... 

As in "south" [of Canada] reality...Bush finally visited our number one trade partner!

Between single-finger salutes, booing and seeing himself compared to Hitler, Bush had time for the following surreal quip: "I'm here to tell you it's good to be in Canada".

Damn right. You're not losing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, pissing on 60 years of cooperation with Europe, Canada and other parts of the world, and facing a draft to fight Iran.

It's damn good to be in Canada...sigh. Sign me up.

But his irony turned to smugness:

Asked about polls that suggested U.S. and Canadian public opinion drifting apart on major issues such as the war in Iraq, Bush said he hadn't seen those surveys. But he added, "We just had a poll in our country when people decided that the foreign policy of the Bush administration ought to stay in place for four more years."

In other words, it's great for Bush to be in Canada, rubbing it in the faces of the folks who viewed his re-election as a bad thing by more than a 2:1 margin. Too bad that had nothing to do with the issue raised.

-Vulf

Monday, November 29, 2004

Eerily familiar...but then, most Americans don't know Iraq from Iran anyway... 

...and most Americans think Iranians are Arabs, too. But I digress...the US is now standing alone (again!) in targeting a four-letter country that starts with "Ira" for thinking about developing weapons of mass destruction.

Note the UN didn't see any reason to apply sanctions.

If the US goes it alone here, there *will* be a draft. Today, Michael Jordan's 47-year old brother, the senior officer for more than 1,000 troops, announced he is headed to Iraq. There's no one left to send.

And Iran may be thinking about the possibility of looking into ways to consider the pondering of the means to begin creating the potential for weapons of mass destruction. Gotta stop 'em now.

As an aside, notice how the Blue States are the ones that actually get hit by the terrorists? Boston, New York, Washington D.C. (ok, Blue district, that) and Pennsylvania. But the folks in Wichita and Wichita Falls, Tulsa and Tucson are the ones scared. Got a clue for you, Red State rednecks, you're not worth targeting. Anyone who truly hates the US, and wants to see it fall, is all too happy to see your "mandate" come about.

Isolated and in debt, the US is oblivious to what is coming.

-Vulf

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Leave it, Buster 

We saw this coming. With executive, legislative (House AND Senate), gubernatorial and judicial control, one would expect the Republicans to go after the last remaining check and balance (or is it "fair and balance"?)...the Senate filibuster.

If 5 more Republicans are elected to the Senate in 2006, this will be moot, anyway, since filibusters can only be used to delay voting when a "supermajority" (60 out of 100) is not present.

I doubt that all who voted for Bush realize how close they are to giving carte blanche to a single fringe of a single party. On the other hand, many, likely, think they already have. I suspect that a "mandate" that obviates the opinions of 48% of the nation is a recipe for disaster.

Leave it alone, Buster!

-Vulf

Red states sack and pillage blue states 

Hmm..."W" says he's earned a "mandate" and he has some "capital" to spend.

Too late, "W"hatever. As any fiscally conservative Dem or Republican (the latter, ostensibly, a dying breed) knows, the red states are pillaging the blue states when it comes to Federal funding. And not on a small scale--the majority (by population) of Blue States taxpayers are getting 81 cents or less back on every dollar they pay.

In fact, it's got even worse since the 2000 election, with the flip-flop (pardon the pun) of New Mexico and New Hampshire.

The fact is, the Republicans are big government, fiscal irresponsibility and media mendacity. Overrepresented in the electoral college and in federal funding, fiscally unreliable states like North Dakota, Alaska and Montana know which side their bread is buttered on.

Not only have they stolen the last two elections from the hard-working, non-tax dodging folks in New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, California, New York and the like, but then they falsely label them as fiscally irresponsible, big government states.

For shame. The truth speaks otherwise. The sad fact behind "W"'s "mandate" is that he is practicing socialism of the most dishonest kind--robbing Peter in Passaic to pay Paul in Podunk.

I think a strong tax base is a good thing. I like thinking hard-working Americans will have some security in their retirement and the possibility for adequate medical care. The sad fact is that this is not working out. But don't blame the Blue States. They are supplying well more than their fair share. Seems they should be able to decide where at least a portion of their 80 cents on the dollar they get in Federal funding should go.

-Vulf

Whose cabin 

This is a good story...United Airlines pilot lost in Alaska was found by an overflying C-130. He's hanging out in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Whose cabin? Is there food there?

Imagine how upset some rich fat cats are going to be when they find out their cupboards are bare.

And, as could be expected of United, this guy lost the plane he was flying.

-Vulf

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