Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Kerry Will Restore American Dignity
2004 Iconoclast Presidential Endorsement
Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:
• Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.
• Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans’ benefits and military pay.
• Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.
• Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.
• Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.
• Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and
• Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.
These were elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office.
The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda.
Today, we are endorsing his opponent, John Kerry, based not only on the things that Bush has delivered, but also on the vision of a return to normality that Kerry says our country needs.
Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding terrorism and Iraq.
President Bush has announced plans to change the Social Security system as we know it by privatizing it, which when considering all the tangents related to such a change, would put the entire economy in a dramatic tailspin.
The Social Security Trust Fund actually lends money to the rest of the government in exchange for government bonds, which is how the system must work by law, but how do you later repay Social Security while you are running a huge deficit? It’s impossible, without raising taxes sometime in the future or becoming fiscally responsible now. Social Security money is being used to escalate our deficit and, at the same time, mask a much larger government deficit, instead of paying down the national debt, which would be a proper use, to guarantee a future gain.
Privatization is problematic in that it would subject Social Security to the ups, downs, and outright crashes of the Stock Market. It would take millions in brokerage fees and commissions out of the system, and, unless we have assurance that the Ivan Boeskys and Ken Lays of the world will be caught and punished as a deterrent, subject both the Market and the Social Security Fund to fraud and market manipulation, not to mention devastate and ruin multitudes of American families that would find their lives lost to starvation, shame, and isolation.
Kerry wants to keep Social Security, which each of us already owns. He says that the program is manageable, since it is projected to be solvent through 2042, with use of its trust funds. This would give ample time to strengthen the economy, reduce the budget deficit the Bush administration has created, and, therefore, bolster the program as needed to fit ever-changing demographics.
Our senior citizens depend upon Social Security. Bush’s answer is radical and uncalled for, and would result in chaos as Americans have never experienced. Do we really want to risk the future of Social Security on Bush by spinning the wheel of uncertainty?
In those dark hours after the World Trade Center attacks, Americans rallied together with a new sense of patriotism. We were ready to follow Bush’s lead through any travail.
He let us down.
When he finally emerged from his hide-outs on remote military bases well after the first crucial hours following the attack, he gave sound-bytes instead of solutions.
He did not trust us to be ready to sacrifice, build up our public and private security infrastructure, or cut down on our energy use to put economic pressure on the enemy in all the nations where he hides. He merely told us to shop, spend, and pretend nothing was wrong.
Rather than using the billions of dollars expended on the invasion of Iraq to shore up our boundaries and go after Osama bin Laden and the Saudi Arabian terrorists, the funds were used to initiate a war with what Bush called a more immediate menace, Saddam Hussein, in oil-rich Iraq. After all, Bush said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction trained on America. We believed him, just as we believed it when he reported that Iraq was the heart of terrorism.
We trusted him.
The Iconoclast, the President’s hometown newspaper, took Bush on his word and editorialized in favor of the invasion. The newspaper’s publisher promoted Bush and the invasion of Iraq to Londoners in a BBC interview during the time that the administration was wooing the support of Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Again, he let us down.
We presumed the President had solid proof of the existence of these weapons, what and where they were, even as the search continued. Otherwise, our troops would be in much greater danger and the premise for a hurried-up invasion would be moot, allowing more time to solicit assistance from our allies.
Instead we were duped into following yet another privileged agenda.
Now he argues unconvincingly that Iraq was providing safe harbor to terrorists, his new key justification for the invasion. It is like arguing that America provided safe harbor to terrorists leading to 9/11.
Once and for all, George Bush was President of the United States on that day. No one else. He had been President nine months, he had been officially warned of just such an attack a full month before it happened. As President, ultimately he and only he was responsible for our failure to avert those attacks.
We should expect that a sitting President would vacation less, if at all, and instead tend to the business of running the country, especially if he is, as he likes to boast, a “wartime president.” America is in service 365 days a year. We don’t need a part-time President who does not show up for duty as Commander-In-Chief until he is forced to, and who is in a constant state of blameless denial when things don’t get done.
What has evolved from the virtual go-it-alone conquest of Iraq is more gruesome than a stain on a White House intern’s dress. America’s reputation and influence in the world has diminished, leaving us with brute force as our most persuasive voice.
Iraq is now a quagmire: no WMDs, no substantive link between Saddam and Osama, and no workable plan for the withdrawal of our troops. We are asked to go along on faith. But remember, blind patriotism can be a dangerous thing and “spin” will not bring back to life a dead soldier; certainly not a thousand of them.
Kerry has remained true to his vote granting the President the authority to use the threat of war to intimidate Saddam Hussein into allowing weapons inspections. He believes President Bush rushed into war before the inspectors finished their jobs.
Kerry also voted against President Bush’s $87 billion for troop funding because the bill promoted poor policy in Iraq, privileged Halliburton and other corporate friends of the Bush administration to profiteer from the war, and forced debt upon future generations of Americans.
Kerry’s four-point plan for Iraq is realistic, wise, strong, and correct. With the help from our European and Middle Eastern allies, his plan is to train Iraqi security forces, involve Iraqis in their rebuilding and constitution-writing processes, forgive Iraq’s multi-billion dollar debts, and convene a regional conference with Iraq’s neighbors in order to secure a pledge of respect for Iraq’s borders and non-interference in Iraq’s internal affairs.
The publishers of the Iconoclast differ with Bush on other issues, including the denial of stem cell research, shortchanging veterans’ entitlements, cutting school programs and grants, dictating what our children learn through a thought-controlling “test” from Washington rather than allowing local school boards and parents to decide how young people should be taught, ignoring the environment, and creating extraneous language in the Patriot Act that removes some of the very freedoms that our founding fathers and generations of soldiers fought so hard to preserve.
We are concerned about the vast exportation of jobs to other countries, due in large part to policies carried out by Bush appointees. Funds previously geared at retention of small companies are being given to larger concerns, such as Halliburton — companies with strong ties to oil and gas. Job training has been cut every year that Bush has resided at the White House.
Then there is his resolve to inadequately finance Homeland Security and to cut the Community Oriented Policing Program (COPS) by 94 percent, to reduce money for rural development, to slash appropriations for the Small Business Administration, and to under-fund veterans’ programs.
Likewise troubling is that President Bush fought against the creation of the 9/11 Commission and is yet to embrace its recommendations.
Vice President Cheney’s Halliburton has been awarded multi-billion-dollar contracts without undergoing any meaningful bid process — an enormous conflict of interest — plus the company has been significantly raiding the funds of Export-Import Bank of America, reducing investment that could have gone toward small business trade.
When examined based on all the facts, Kerry’s voting record is enviable and echoes that of many Bush allies who are aghast at how the Bush administration has destroyed the American economy. Compared to Bush on economic issues, Kerry would be an arch-conservative, providing for Americans first. He has what it takes to right our wronged economy.
The re-election of George W. Bush would be a mandate to continue on our present course of chaos. We cannot afford to double the debt that we already have. We need to be moving in the opposite direction.
John Kerry has 30 years of experience looking out for the American people and can navigate our country back to prosperity and re-instill in America the dignity she so craves and deserves. He has served us well as a highly decorated Vietnam veteran and has had a successful career as a district attorney, lieutenant governor, and senator.
Kerry has a positive vision for America, plus the proven intelligence, good sense, and guts to make it happen.
That’s why The Iconoclast urges Texans not to rate the candidate by his hometown or even his political party, but instead by where he intends to take the country.
The Iconoclast wholeheartedly endorses John Kerry.
From today's NYTimes
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
OH MY GOD!!!
the Associated Press: President Bush met with the prime minister of Greece. In the meeting, Bush praised the Greek people by saying, 'You gave the world Plato, which I once ate a can of.'
Monday, September 27, 2004
Shit - now I need to worry about stagflation too...
We are so ignorant as a people - we have such power, and such opportunity here, and yet we are blind to our own actions and privileges. I'm continually amazed at the stunning willingness of our culture to resort to "well, it's all relative." We've lost, as a people, our willingness to believe in Facts if that Fact is somehow inconvenient. We have so much wealth, and so little understanding of the world. We have so much stubborn resolve, and so little willingness to think of our actions. To understand cause and effect. To look at more than the last episode of the news. We are so willing to think of things in terms of cinema and tv, and not in terms of reality. How can anyone buy the bullshit that the president is shoveling about Iraq?
President Bush has succeeded in selling Iraq as the 'feel good war.' I'm just blinded with disbelief and the idiocy that people have about the war. If you're not outraged, completely horrified at the effect of our actions, or have some sort of outrage against both the war and the president that caused it, then YOU HAVEN'T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION. If you have some passing acquaintance with the real facts, and aren't horrified, and blame the president - you are lacking in some basic human empathy.
If you consider yourself christian. You are obligated to oppose the war - you are obligated to demand that our leaders stop this act of utter cruelty. If you claim that we are doing holy combat against our evil enemies, first, you need to put down the comic book and pick up a history book that is more that simply you own myopic lies repeated to yourself. Read a history of how the bible was constructed. Understand history, not dogma. Don't want to follow that? Still want to cling to a literal translation, try this: Christ said "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the lord." That means it's the lords to perform, not his followers. If the lord wants him, god will take care of him himself. This is the almighty: He doesn't need 140k US troops, and 200 Billion in tax payer dollars to take care of a horrible dictator, who just happens to be sitting on top of the second largest oil reserve in the world. What about "turn the other cheek?" Only when it's convenient? Only when we want to? Is that what Jesus would do?
If you're a Jew, how can you stand by as we, the US, is terrorizing the population of Iraq? Through our own ignorance, limitations and incompetence, we have allowed two horrors to be unleashed upon the population of Iraq: First, we have deployed a force in Iraq that is incredibly lethal, and little else. We don't have the forces to do a massive occupation to truly quell the population, so the insurgency has grown out of nothing. We can't rely on the Iraqi forces that we've 'trained,' so we need to keep our forces committed to guarding the parts of the country that we've got right now. We can't really engage, on the ground, the parts of the country that are either breeding, or the unwilling hosts to the insurgency. Sure we do air strikes every day, but how much damage are we doing, except to Women and Children. How is this related to the Jewish faith? The Nazi party developed in the 30s when the economic condition of Germany became so desperate that the middle class there put its faith in anyone who could give them any hope of survival and recovery. Coupled with a population that already has latent, or even explicit anti-Semitism, large swaths of the population radicalized, and the Third Reich was born. Does anyone doubt that there is an anti-Semitic streak in the Arab world? Through our inability to crush the insurgency, we are creating a thousand Hitlers all across Iraq. Al Saddr is only one of many other radical leaders who have organized in Iraq.
If you don't buy the threat angle, how about thinking about the people that have to live in the midst of terror every day. There were over 2700 acts of terror last month. How many did Israel face last month? 20? 200? It's still more than an order of magnitude more. We have done this. Whether through deliberate acts (missed air stirkes), or simply allowing the insurgency to thrive in who knows how many towns across Iraq, we have allowed this to happen. These kinds of random acts of destruction - the kind of terror exists if you are constantly operating under the kind of fear that you might not make it back from going to the store (if you had a job, or any money - Iraq has 50% unemployment) - weren't there in Iraq under Saddam. Saddam was a horrible dictator (oh, by the way, we propped him up in the '80s to fight Iran). But now we're the agent of terror, not Saddam.
At Rosh Hashanah services this year, the sermon (I assume that's the appropriate term - I'm a christian), the Rabbi spoke eloquently at the special obligation of the jewish people to those in Darfur, Sudan. The moral obligation of the Jewish people to help those who are having genocide inficted on them. It was stirring. It was also really heartening for me to hear a religious leader speak out publicly. It was wonderful. What about the estimated 20k Iraqi civilian dead that we've either directly or indirectly caused? How is this not the essence of TSidaka? (I really hope I haven't butchered the spelling there). How can there not be a moral obligation to help the immediate suffering on those who who we're somehow hurting?
Don't buy that? How about this: If you support Israel, president bush's adventure in Iraq limits our ability to militarily confront Iran over it's nuclear weapons program. Do you think it's a coincidence that Iran is accelerating it's uranium enrichment? Under President Bush, Iran has drastically expanded it's nuclear program - Israel (not to mention us, and the rest of the world), are dramatically less safe as a result of the escalation of Iran's program, while we are bogged down next door (I don 't even need to go down the path of what would happen if the US told the world it had conclusive evidence that Iran has the bomb, and was organizing a collation to disarm it).
If you're a muslim, then it's relatively straightforward why you're opposed to the war. Who needs another construction? It's like someone screaming in your face every horrible epithet you can think of. Rightly or wrongly, it's perfectly legitimate to see this as a direct attack on islam, and therefor a legitimate defensive Jihad. I don't think that the educated middle class believes this, but I certainly believe that those who are not educated, who do not have jobs or any degree of hope, do believe this. Most of the Iraqi population is dependent on some sort of governmental or NGO aid for their calories each day. I would add that the same is true of the palestinian population. Does anyone doubt the rage that this creates? Does anyone doubt the kind of atmosphere it creates for anyone who offers a vision of hope, justice, or victory, against horrible conditions (like radical clerics)? If you are a modern / moderate muslim, you are opposed to the war because it energizes large portions of the population towards an islam that is ancient, brutal, and repressive.
And if you're a pragmatist, or even a business man: If you have any understanding of the condition of iraq, the impact of the war, and the performance of the prosecution of the war by president bush, how can you not hold president bush accountable? Are we grading on effort or are we grading on results? Do we want to give this man another shot at it, despite the fact that 2/3rds of the country thinks it's heading in the wrong direction just because "gosh, he's just such a good man, and he's so plain spoken." This is about firing the employee that everyone likes but doesn't get anything done. Management, much less Leadership is about responsibility, not power. Leadership is about effectiveness, not intention. Why are we so quick to oust a CEO for a bad quarter or two, but so unwilling to oust a president after 4 years or so?
If none of that shocks you into some sense of recognition that Bush has got to be thrown out right now, then how about simply reading this:
Powell, Then and Now
By BOB HERBERT
Published: September 27, 2004
Secretary of State Colin Powell, discussing the Iraq war during an appearance at The Times on Friday, did not have the crisp certitude of the general who assured us in 1991 that the first gulf war was going almost precisely as planned.
Thirteen years ago Mr. Powell was the supremely confident, almost cocky, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At press briefings he would describe the plan for defeating Saddam Hussein's army, which had invaded and occupied Kuwait, as follows: "First we're going to cut it off, and then we're going to kill it."
He would detail the air, land and naval forces closing in on the Iraqis and say: "I'm not telegraphing anything. I just want everybody to know that we have a tool box that's full of tools, and I brought them all to the party."
He had every reason to be brash. The U.S.-led coalition went into the first gulf war with a coherent plan, extensive international support and overwhelming military superiority, including more than half a million American troops.
Last Friday, surrounded by reporters and editors, Secretary Powell had a decidedly different message. He refused to paint a rosy picture of the current war's progress. "We've got a tough road ahead of us," he said. He acknowledged that the resistance encountered by American troops was stronger than the administration had anticipated, and he added, "I'm not going to underestimate or understate the seriousness of the insurgency."
The resistance, he said, is a "black cloud" over U.S. efforts in Iraq.
Mr. Powell's candor was refreshing. But what we're not getting from the Bush administration is any sense of where we go from here with this war that never made sense, has cost more than 1,000 American lives, has further destabilized the Middle East and has energized the forces of terror that are the real threat to the U.S.
Bush administration officials are busy lowering expectations about the elections scheduled for January. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld now tells us it's fine if elections reach just three-quarters or four-fifths of the country. Secretary Powell, in an interview on CNN yesterday, said: "There will be polling stations that are shot at. There will be insurgents who will be out there who will try to keep people from voting."
No earthly amount of spin can make a credible case that Iraq is on the road to freedom and democracy.
Meanwhile, in yet another echo of Vietnam, American commanders in Iraq are begging for more troops. It was ever thus. Commanders thrust into these unwinnable wars against foreign insurgencies always believe that just a few thousand more troops will turn the tide. Americans were told again and again that there was light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam. The troops sent into that nightmare would dryly remark that the light was coming from an onrushing train.
Rather than destroying an enemy army, which was the goal of the first gulf war, the U.S. military is now spinning its wheels in the Iraqi sand. No one is sure who or where the enemy is, or even what the U.S. mission is. And it is in that horrendous, senseless environment that American troops are getting shot to death or blown up or horribly maimed every single day.
At home, Americans seem to have forgotten what an ill-advised war can do to the United States. More than three decades after it was published, David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest" should still be required reading. Lyndon Johnson had hoped Vietnam would be a short war, Mr. Halberstam wrote, and he was afraid of the political consequences if the true economic costs became visible:
"The result was that his economic planning was a living lie, and his administration took us into economic chaos: the Great Society programs were passed but never funded on any large scale; the war itself ran into severe budgetary problems (the decision in 1968 to put a ceiling on the American troops was as much economic as political); and the most important, the failure to finance the war honestly would inspire a virulent inflationary spiral which helped defeat Johnson himself. Seven years after the commitment of combat troops, that inflation was still very much alive and was forcing a successor Administration into radical, desperate economic measures in order to restore some financial balance."
We've been there, done that, and now we're doing it again.
Oh yeah, and maybe you should start remembering stagflation too.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
"and when He sees the Kerry Edwards sign on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not allow the hurricane to enter your county to destroy your homes."
More pearls from yesterday's UN speeches
Warren Hoge writes in the New York Times: "Secretary General Kofi Annan opened the annual United Nations debate of world leaders on Tuesday with a plea for greater observance of international law and a reminder of his misgivings about the legality of the American-led war in Iraq.
" 'Those who seek to bestow legitimacy must themselves embody it, and those who invoke international law must themselves submit to it,' he told the audience of delegates in the General Assembly hall, which included President Bush and Ayad Allawi, the interim Iraqi prime minister."
This would be really funny if it wasn't also true
"We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace," Bush said.
Some people see irony there. Others don't.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?
President Bush said Tuesday that the Iraqis are refuting the pessimists and implied that things are improving in that country.
What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.
Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.
And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?
What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?
What if all the reporters for all the major television and print media were trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis? What if the only time they ventured into the Midwest was if they could be embedded in Army or National Guard units?
There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged in concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal again!), rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country? What if they completely controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops could not go into those cities?
What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi), the President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?
What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year?
What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?
What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach, killing hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers? What if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and even pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial over on the Mall? What if the National Council of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?
What if there were virtually no commercial air traffic in the country? What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially Interstate 95 from Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston? If you got on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you would risk being carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed with machine gun fire.
What if no one had electricity for much more than 10 hours a day, and often less? What if it went off at unpredictable times, causing factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of the summer in Houston and Miami? What if the Alaska pipeline were bombed and disabled at least monthly? What if unemployment hovered around 40%?
What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis?
What if municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to the new "president" quietly installed in the statehouses as "governors?" What if several of these governors (especially of Montana and Wyoming) were assassinated soon after taking office or resigned when their children were taken hostage by guerrillas?
What if the leader of the European Union maintained that the citizens of the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner?
What if I was to not take responsibility for my elected leader’s actions? What if I was to hide my head in the sand of the sunny ignorance of the impact of our democracy’s actions? What if I was to ignore the crimes that are being committed in our name? What if I was to get angry at those who try to point them out?
Friday, September 17, 2004
Green Zone is ‘no longer totally secure'
By James Drummond and Steve Negus in Baghdad
Published: September 15 2004 22:03 | Last updated: September 15 2004 22:03
US military officers in Baghdad have warned they cannot guarantee the security of the perimeter around the Green Zone, the headquarters of the Iraqi government and home to the US and British embassies, according to security company employees.
At a briefing earlier this month, a high-ranking US officer in charge of the zone's perimeter said he had insufficient soldiers to prevent intruders penetrating the compound's defences.
The US major said it was possible weapons or explosives had already been stashed in the zone, and warned people to move in pairs for their own safety. The Green Zone, in Baghdad's centre, is one of the most fortified US installations in Iraq. Until now, militants have not been able to penetrate it.
But insurgency has escalated this week, spreading to the centre of Baghdad. The zone is home to several thousand Iraqis, and on Sunday it came under the heaviest attack since it was established. Up to 60 unexploded rockets were found inside its perimeters after a five-hour barrage.
On Tuesday, a car bomb outside a Baghdad police station killed 47 people, and 12 members of the police and their driver were shot dead in Baquba. The attack was the worst in the city for several months.
The violence in Iraq continued on Wednesday when 10 Iraqis were killed in clashes with US troops using artillery in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. The decapitated bodies of three men, believed to be Arab kidnap victims, were separately found on a highway north of Baghdad.
The US military defended the actions of its helicopter gunship pilots, who killed at least a dozen Iraqi civilians who were surrounding a disabled Bradley armoured fighting vehicle in Baghdad's Haifa street on Sunday. US military officials said the Kiowa helicopters, which fired into a crowd, were shooting in self-defence and had not violated US rules of engagement.
The helicopters saw tracer bullets coming at them from the ground and fired rockets in response, officers of the First Cavalry division in Baghdad said. The pilots "did not see a large crowd of innocent civilians around the [vehicle]", said Colonel Jim McConville, commander of the unit's helicopter forces. The helicopters were called in to prevent insurgents from stealing radios, weapons, and other sensitive equipment from the Bradley, which had been knocked out by a car bomb. The helicopters could have fired rockets from a distance, the officers said, which would have been safer for the crews but more dangerous for civilians.
"If we were not concerned about collateral damage we would have used [this] engagement technique," Major General Peter Chiarelli, the unit's commanding officer, said.
We are not winning this. We have created a hell out of Iraq. Amazingly it's actually getting worse. When will this country wake up to the catastrophic course we're on? When will the population punish Bush for the incompetence that he's shown. God willing, on November 2nd.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
Maureen Dowd ROCKS!
Cheney Spits Toads
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: September 9, 2004
WASHINGTON — George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have always used the president's father as a reverse lodestar. In 1992, the senior Mr. Bush wooed the voters with "Message: I care.'' So this week, Mr. Cheney wooed the voters with, Message: You die.
The terrible beauty of its simplicity grows on you. It is a sign of the dark, macho, paranoid vice president's restraint that he didn't really take it to its emotionally satisfying conclusion: Message: Vote for us or we'll kill you.
Without Zell Miller around to out-crazy him, and unplugged after a convention that tried to "humanize'' him with grandchildren, horses and wifely anecdotes about his inability to dance the twist, Mr. Cheney is back as Terrifier in Chief.
He finally simply spit out what the Bush team has been more subtly trying to convey for months: A vote for John Kerry is a vote for the terrorists.
"Because if we make the wrong choice,'' Mr. Cheney said in Des Moines in that calm baritone, "then the danger is that we'll get hit again. That we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war.''
These guys figure, hey, these scare tactics worked in building support for the Iraq war, maybe they can work in tearing down support for John Kerry. They linked Saddam with terrorism and cowed the Democrats (including Mr. Kerry, who has never been able to make the case against the Bush administration's trompe l'oeil casus belli) and fooled the country into going along with their trumped-up war. So why not link Mr. Kerry with terrorism and cow the voters into sticking with the White House they've got?
It's like that fairy tale where vipers and toads jump out of the mouth of the accursed mean little girl when she tries to speak. Every time Mr. Cheney opens his mouth, vermin leap out.
The vice president and president did not even mention Osama at the convention because of the inconvenient fact that the fiend is still out there, plotting. Yet they denigrate Mr. Kerry as too weak to battle Osama, and treat him as a greater threat.
Mr. Cheney implies that John Kerry couldn't protect us from an attack like 9/11, blithely ignoring the fact that he and President Bush didn't protect us from the real 9/11. Think of what brass-knuckled Republicans could have made of a 9/11 tape of an uncertain Democratic president giving a shaky statement that looked like a hostage tape and flying randomly from air base to air base, as the veep ordered that planes be shot down.
Mr. Cheney warns against falling back "into the pre-9/11 mind-set,'' when, in fact, the Bush team's pre-9/11 mind-set was all about being stuck in the cold war and reviving "Star Wars" - which doesn't work and is useless against terrorist tactics. The Bush crowd played down terrorism because Bill Clinton and Sandy Berger had told their successors that Osama was a priority, and the Bushies scorned all things Clinton. The president shrugged off intelligence briefings with such headlines as "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States'' because there was brush to be cleared and unaffordable tax-cutting to be done.
After the blue-ribbon graybeards declared the Bush administration's pumped-up W.M.D. claims and Saddam-9/11 links bogus, the White House went into a defensive crouch - especially the man in the undisclosed bunker, who had veered wildly between overly pessimistic predictions of Saddam's nukes and overly optimistic predictions of grateful Iraqis with flowers and chocolates.
For a time, it seemed that Americans were realizing they'd been flimflammed by the Bushies. But at the convention, the swaggering Bush juggernaut brazenly went back to boasting about its pre-emption doctrine, tracing imaginary connections between 9/11 and Saddam, and calling all our foes terrorists.
Why should the same group that managed to paint a flextime guardsman as a heroic commander - and a war hero as a war criminal - bother rebutting or engaging with critics?
As the deaths of American men and women fighting in Iraq topped 1,000, and with insurgents controlling parts of central Iraq, the White House trotted out the same old discredited line, assuming it can wear - and scare - everyone down by November.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
#2: Ashcroft vs. the Human Rights Law that Hold Corporations Accountable
#3: Bush Administration Censors Science
#4: High Levels of Uranium Found in Troops and Civilians
#5: The Wholesale Giveaway of Our Natural Resources
#6: The Sale of Electoral Politics
#7: Conservative Organization Drives Judicial Appointments
#8: Cheney's Energy Task Force and The Energy Policy
#9: Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. government for 9/11
#10: New Nuke Plants: Taxpayers Support, Industry Profits
#11: The Media Can Legally Lie
#12: The Destabilization of Haiti
#13: Schwarzenegger Met with Enron's Ken Lay Years Before the California Recall
#14: New Bill Threatens Intellectual Freedom in Area Studies
#15: U.S. Develops Lethal New Viruses
#16: Law Enforcement Agencies Spy on Innocent Citizens
#17: U.S. Government Represses Labor Unions in Iraq in Quest for Business Privatization
#18: Media and Government Ignore Dwindling Oil Supplies
#19: Global Food Cartel Fast Becoming the World's Supermarket
#20: Extreme Weather Prompts New Warning from UN
#21: Forcing a World Market for GMOs
#22: Censoring Iraq
#23: Brazil Holds Back in FTAA Talks, But Provides Little Comfort for the Poor of South America
#24: Reinstating the Draft
#25: Wal-Mart Brings Inequality and Low Prices to the World