Monday, May 31, 2004

Next time you hear a Republican toss out the canard that they're tired of seeing/hearing negative attack ads, educate them to the fact that their side is far more guilty of this sleazy tactic. Example, this item in today's Washington Post (my bolds):

Three-quarters of the ads aired by Bush's campaign have been attacks on Kerry. Bush so far has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100 markets, or 75 percent of his advertising. Kerry has run 13,336 negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total. The figures were compiled by The Washington Post using data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group of the top 100 U.S. markets. Both campaigns said the figures are accurate.
"There is more attack now on the Bush side against Kerry than you've historically had in the general-election period against either candidate," said University of Pennsylvania professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson, an authority on political communication. "This is a very high level of attack, particularly for an incumbent."

Ahh, the sweet smell of desperation....
The NY Times has an article about air pollution in our national parks. For some parks, it's not so bad, but for others it's worse than ever. Bush's EPA proposes new regulations that supposedly aims to alleviate this problem, however environmental groups are warning that they simply make it easier for power plants to evade responsibility and cost.

As is often the case with these articles, on the one side you have supposed experts proclaiming "X" and on the other side you have experts proclaiming "Y." Although I have to doubt that Bush's side is ever the one with 100% sound science (!), I must admit it can get a bit confusing. However, in this case it appears as if Bush wishes to apply the "pollution credit" solution to national parks. If true, it's just sheer idiocy. Just so I understand, we're better off as a nation if the power plants around the Grand Canyon can continue to spew pollutants into the air, greatly affecting the park's air quality, as long as power plants around Yosemite can offset this spewing by reducing their toxic discharge? One park's air can then be pristine and another's can be dirty, but net net we as a nation gain. C'mon people, do you see how they operate? Scratch the surface a bit and you discover the obfuscated truth.
If ever you wish to learn of the fate of Air America Radio, just visit Drudge's web site. He's apparently fascinated with (and rooting for?) the potential demise of this terrific venture. It's almost as if he posts a "party's-over-for-AAR" link every other day. The most recent: The NY Times. It's an interesting article, chronicling the extremely rocky start to this fledgling network, chock full of bad managers, shady investors, etc. However, soap opera stuff aside, the fact is ratings are very good for AAR. In fact, it appears as if Al Franken's show has better ratings than Limbaugh's.

By all accounts, it would appear as if AAR has a bright future -- where's Mr. Soros when you need him?

Sunday, May 30, 2004

USA Today reports in this latest poll that Bush leads Kerry in Ohio by a 47% to 41% margin. Please tell me what they're smoking in this key state? The story states the economy is ranked as the #1 issue by voters in Ohio and yet approximately half of those polled were negative about Bush's leadership on this front. If about 50% are negative on this topic, then what must they think about his handling of Iraq? What is it in particular that they do like about him? Smells to me like it's just another case of Republican voters sticking with their man no matter how bad things get -- like the abused housewife who just doesn't leave. Oh well, just two weeks prior to this poll, another one had Kerry leading in the state by a 49% to 42% margin. What to believe....

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Some quickies....

Anna Quindlen's terrific Newsweek article reminds me why my wife & I left the Catholic church years ago, and have never had any regrets -- at all. Such intolerance, hypocrisy, and selective hate will surely shrink the size of this religion in the decades to come.

I highly recommend going to C-SPAN's web site to watch the video stream of Al Gore's dead-on NYU/ speech, as he slams Bush more forthrightly than any public figure to date. No, Gore hasn't transformed himself into a Clintonian speaker, remaining somewhat wooden, but it doesn't matter as the truth and force of his words are what carry the event.

Finally, each week I try to make a point to listen to Guy James' radio show, which airs every Saturday but is also archived online. Guy offers up three hours of interesting liberal programming, always mentioning at least a few items I had not heard of before. My favorite part of the show is when Guy seemingly out of nowhere suddenly erupts into a well-reasoned, passionate rant, lashing out at Bush and the right-wing lunatic fringe. He as well as Mike Malloy belong on Air America Radio.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Thanks to another angry blogger (no relation), the Angry Bear, for pointing out this graphic:

The Fed is supposed to be independent, above and beyond influence from any political party. Does this chart seem to depict a steady trend of independence? What is Mr. Greenspan doing at these frequent meetings, sipping on ice tea and discussing baseball scores?? Quite disturbing, to say the least. Where is the outrage?
This poll is very interesting. While I think it's wonderful to see a Kerry/McCain ticket at 53% to 39% over Bush/Cheney, I find it puzzling why vets are 54% to 41% in favor of Bush over Kerry, and yet Kerry with McCain brings the veteran vote to a 50/50 tie vs. Bush. If McCain means that much to fellow vets, why doesn't another fellow vet -- Kerry? Apparently vets do not align themselves with Kerry or that the majority are simply diehard Republicans (the more likely of the two reasons). Kerry alone leads Bush by 8%, but if Kerry adds John Edwards to the ticket he then leads Bush by 10%, and interestingly the Edwards addition helps Kerry close the vet gap (why should it?).

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Realizing the supposed good intentions of these long-range, terrorist warnings, can someone explain how the average citizen is supposed to use and/or act on this info? Okay, so based on very hazy yet "credible" intelligence (remember the last time we were told about "credible" intel.... WMD anyone?), Al Qaeda could possibly attack the U.S. sometime this summer. Yet, what are we actually supposed to do with that knowledge? Cancel vacation plans? Why is it the federal authorities can't just diligently do what they have to do to thwart such an attempt and leave the American people to go about their everyday, busy lives? That's what they get paid for, right? And now we have a multi-billion-dollar department to specifically protect our homeland, right? Didn't the Clinton administration perform "silent" terror intercepts on more than one occasion??

I can propose at least three reasons for the very-public release of these warnings:

1) It's a very easy way for Ashcroft, the FBI, etc., to make Americans aware that they're doing something to prevent terrorism ("Wow, our tax dollar is being well spent.... they're working hard to protect us!")
2) If anything were to occur, it provides political cover (unlike 9/11, this time they could say, "Hey, it's not like we didn't warn you!")
3) With the election fast approaching, it's a well-known fact that the incumbent stands a much better chance of getting re-elected if the country is currently under some kind of threat of attack. In other words, fear favors the sitting president (and majority party, for that matter). Thus, Bush Inc. wants the country to constantly be reminded of imminent terrorist attacks and to remain "vigilant," keeping them in a steady-state of mildly paralyzing concern. Voters will then be too afraid to favor a change with regards to the highest office -- best to just "stay the course."

By most accounts, these warnings are simply a campaign tactic, nothing more, nothing less.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

More evidence of the "obvious" liberal bias in media -- uh, yeah. Where’s the journalistic rigor? Slacker president = slacker news coverage?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Bill Safire’s thinking continues to baffle those of us who believe we think logically. On this Sunday’s Meet The Press, he had this to say:
MR. WILLIAM SAFIRE: This has been a terrible couple of months for the Republicans. The prison scandal on top of all the casualties and the fact that the president's ratings have gone down is logical. One would expect that. The fact that Kerry hasn't gone up is very interesting…. I just think the pendulum is likely to swing. I don't think John Kerry has really made a move in the moment that he should be making a move.

The one thing Safire neglects to mention is that the Bush campaign has already spent nearly $130 million to pummel Kerry. That kind of moolah can buy plenty of misleading and distorted attack ads! In that sense, Kerry’s polling numbers remaining stable is quite an achievement, I would say. Sure, it would be better if the numbers rose during this onslaught, but one could make the case that Kerry is shrewdly playing possum, taking the punches in the ring and tiring out the other fighter so that he can ultimately score a KO without much effort.

Josh Marshall has it right concerning Safire:
Conservatives hunting for media-bias in the Times often pick on its more liberal columnists. In fact, if there's bias to be found, it's in Safire. Only lack of interest and respect for conservative opinion can fully explain Safire's continued presence on the page.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Like pea soup slowly coming to a boil, I'm beginning to notice an increasing number of items mentioning the possibility of Bush dumping Cheney for Giuliani. The latest is in today's NY Daily News.

Amidst all of the obligatory denials concerning this potential damage-control move, it would make some sense. Cheney's health remains a big "?" and he is at the forefront of many outrageous acts including duck hunting with Scalia, Halliburton conflicts galore, and his continued secrecy regarding energy policy meetings. In addition, it's an accepted fact among most people that Cheney is very much running the country -- not Bush. Saturday Night Live has performed more than one skit depicting this notion and Bush requesting that he appear before the 9-11 commission holding hands with Cheney further confirmed this fact. It seems clear that Cheney is a net negative on the ticket.

However, would Rudy be a major improvement? While he would likely be a major step-up in terms of vote gathering (which is all Rove is focused on at this point -- can you blame him?), what would be his role in (gulp!) a Bush second term? My guess: he would quickly be marginalized. "Huh?" you say, the great Rudy put aside? I say this because compared to Cheney, Giuliani looks like a reasonable liberal. Unless Rudy undergoes an overnight transformation, becoming a strident, partisan, hardcore right-wing fanatic, than I simply don't see him wielding any kind of influence in a lame duck Bush term -- one that will most likely be a last-hurrah, free-for-all giveaway to special interests and the like. Assuming Rudy has an ounce of dignity / principles left (as did Christine Whitman), he will learn big lessons by what happened to someone like Colin Powell, a person who once had huge influence thanks to his bipartisan admiration and seemingly bedrock beliefs and willingness to speak out on such beliefs, only to now be looked upon as a huge disappointment, a failure of character. One thing is clear: Rudy has a huge ego. Would he be willing to play second fiddle? To a clown, no less?

The News article mentions that Cheney had many things wrong about Iraq and dumping Dick would show voters that Bush holds people accountable. But in this regard it stands to reason that before Cheney gets the boot, Bush would have to fire Rumsfeld first, otherwise it simply looks idiotic. So Bush would fire both? Yeah, right.

All of this said, as Bush's poll numbers plummet to 40%, look for the increasing likelihood of something drastic happening.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

If there's one thing Republicans really hate it's when a Democrat goes on the attack with as much passion & fire as Republicans do on nearly a daily basis. Typical schoolyard bully stuff: he carries on at will, shoving kids around, poking fun at those weaker, but once you actually stand up to him and fight back, he is stunned and then becomes petulant.

The latest example of this is House Dem leader Nancy Pelosi, who recently came out with very strong language against Bush. Of the Republicans who have quickly denounced her words, I think Tom DeLay's criticism strikes me as the most hypocritical (surprise!). DeLay bemoans, ""She apparently is so caught up in the partisan hatred for President Bush that her words are putting American lives at risk.... This nation cannot afford the luxury of her dangerous rhetoric.''

What a laugh, DeLay tagging someone else with the "partisan hatred" label. DeLay, with the help of Gingrich, single-handedly converted the Republican Party from being at least somewhat moderate when it came to dealing with their fellow Democrats, to a party that has become absolutely intolerant of not just Dems, but also moderate Republicans. The party as it was under Reagan now looks like a fairly liberal party compared to the current version ruled with an iron fist by religious zealots, corporate lobbyists, affluent cronies, and neocon crazies.

Never mind the way in which DeLay treated our former president with such respect & honor for eight years (!), but let's just recall some of the statements he made with regards to Clinton's Kosovo war:

"Clinton's bombing campaign has caused all of these problems to explode"

Clinton "has no plan for the end" and "recognizes that Milosevic will still be in power.... The bombing was a mistake. ... And this president ought to show some leadership and admit it, and come to some sort of negotiated end."

DeLay called this refusal "really disappointing" and a failure of "leadership.... The president ought to open up negotiations and come to some sort of diplomatic end."

DeLay suggested that the United States should pull out unilaterally: "When Ronald Reagan saw that he had made a mistake putting our soldiers in Lebanon ... he admitted the mistake, and he withdrew from Lebanon."

You think Tommy-boy will say this same thing (Reagan/Lebanon) about Bush & Iraq? Highly doubtful. And oh yes, of course he would not regard such statements as "dangerous rhetoric." Nope, only if it's directed against his guy. We won't even get into how night-and-day different Clinton's Kosovo operation went in comparison to this Iraq debacle.

A party who has a fool and a scoundrel like DeLay as their leader can only have much bigger fools as supporters.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Kerry: pick the low-hanging fruit!

Kerry campaigned in Oregon this past week and he chose to not point out Bush's colossal failings when it comes to the environment and energy conservation. From today's Portland Tribune:

During a campaign stop this week, though, Kerry didn’t touch on such state issues as forest practices, water use and energy. His references to Oregon came in the context of the broader national themes he stressed during his appearances: jobs, health care, education and the war in Iraq.

In response to a question, he said that he has considered President Bush’s new policies on counting Northwest salmon but that any discussion of the issue “will have to wait for another time.”

“I never saw the connection to Portland, to Oregon or to the Northwest,” said Russell Dondero, professor of political science at Pacific University. “It was an opportunity for him to connect local themes to his national themes. There was no mention of timber, the environment, the energy crisis or the economics of oil. He missed an opportunity there.”

I'll never understand why Democrats refuse to make the environment more of a centerpiece in their campaign strategies. I realize some may consider it too "soft" an issue and that it does not garner the impact of say talking about jobs or taxes. However, polls consistently show that Americans overwhelmingly favor a pro-environment stance, with the approval numbers I've seen always over 70%. It's my feeling that many Americans still have no idea just how anti-environmental Bush has been, with many informed sources ranking him the worst President in history in this regard. Kerry should not just be talking about this topic every chance he gets, but he should be specifically offering up one example after another on the long list of outrageous acts this administration has taken to undermine environmental protection. He should work it into his stump speeches since repetition is the only thing that seems to work with John Q. Public.

This issue is simply easy pickings thanks to this president and Kerry should take full advantage.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The non-partisan, global intelligence service recently wrote,

On a strategic level, the United States has been the victor since the Sept. 11 attacks. Yet strategic victories can be undermined by massive tactical failures, and this is what the United States is facing now. Iraq is a single campaign in a much broader war. However, as frequently occurs in wars, unintended consequences dominate the battlefield. The United States intended to occupy Iraq and move on to other campaigns -- but failures in planning, underestimation of the enemy and command failures have turned strategic victory into a tactical nightmare. That tactical nightmare is now threatening to undermine not only the Iraqi theater of operations, but also the entire American war effort. It is threatening to reverse a series of al Qaeda defeats. If the current trend continues, the tactical situation will undermine U.S. strategy in Iraq, and the collapse of U.S. strategy in Iraq could unravel the entire U.S. strategy against al Qaeda and the Islamists.
The issue is this: Iraq has not gone as planned by any stretch of the imagination. If the failures of Iraq are not rectified quickly, the entire U.S. strategic position could unravel. Speed is of the essence. There is no longer time left.
It is our job to identify emerging trends, and we have, frequently, been accused of everything from being owned by the Republicans to being Iraq campaign apologists. In fact, we are making a non-partisan point: The administration is painting itself into a corner that will cost Bush the presidency if it does not deal with the fact that there is no one who doesn't know that Iraq has been mismanaged. The administration's only option for survival is to start managing it effectively, if that can be done at this point.
The tax-cut-&-spend party....

In December 2003, the right-wing Heritage Foundation released a paper stating, "Government spending exceeded $20,000 per household for the first time since World War II." Although many conservatives have not been pleased with this administration's continued reluctance to reign in federal spending, they have only themselves to blame for their own frustration. The problem lies in the belief that Bush & Co. are actually true-blue conservatives; they're not. Instead, the Bush/Rove regime are power-hungry, win-at-all-costs vote seekers. Nothing more, nothing less. Oh sure, they play to their conservative base for sure-thing votes, but you'll find them behaving in ways that are not exactly Reagan-esque. This "liberal-like" spending is one example, talking up a good game of smaller government but then spending like crazy to gain votes. Other examples include passing pro-union steel tariffs to woo the PA vote or backing a pro-choice senator (Specter) in PA over the pro-life challenger (Toomey).

To these angered conservatives I ask, "What were you thinking? Did you actually think this buffoon was one of you? Hah!" And that's what makes Bush truly scary: he does not operate with a principled plan for he truly has no bedrock principles. He offers empty talk in this regard, choosing instead to win votes anyway he can.
Kerry met with Nader yesterday in what has been described as a "cordial" get-together.

Best of all possible worlds regarding the Nader campaign:

He becomes the third candidate on the stage in the televised debates. While yes he would then take time away from Kerry, he would most likely criticize Bush more than Kerry/Dems (probably an 80/20 or 70/30 ratio), with his attacks on Bush likely to be much more barbed and on-point than his lobs at Kerry. He then effectively allows for more anti-Bush sentiment to be aired during the total allotted debate time. In fact, I'd love to discover that he and Kerry discussed this very strategy yesterday. (It would be a wonderful way for Ralph to atone for his 2000 debacle!) After the TV debates were over, he would either then drop-out of the race, admitting he had no-shot at winning or ran short of campaign funds (whatever), or he could continue to run but unlike in 2000, he would 1) not be on ballots in all 50 states, and 2) he would purposefully not focus on those key toss-up states that Kerry needs to win.

We'll see what Ralphie-boy chooses to do.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

In key election states, Bush Inc. is apparently touting spending on programs that they were actually against or opposed. It’s not surprising given this administration regularly opposes something only to later take credit for it (e.g. Homeland Security), or is for something and then behind the scenes cuts funding for it (e.g. No Child Left Behind or additional SEC funding). Just slime.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

It's May 2004 and we've just received word of WMD in Iraq. A tiny amount of sarin was discovered and it's already being dismissed by experts as not "a big deal."

This item serves as a reminder that as we draw closer to November, and as Bush's polling numbers continue to sink, all Americans should remain keenly skeptical concerning "October Surprise"-like shenanigans hitting the papers. If we see Osama captured (or killed) anytime after July, I for one will conclude it was completely staged, a calculated Rove-move to manipulate voters. At this point, given this administration's established track record of dishonesty, who with any sense would believe anything other than that? Does anyone actually believe in this day and age, with all of the technological advancement at the government's disposal, that we are to accept Osama's whereabouts as simply unknown?
Hollywood movie best exemplifying this president: Harvey (1950). Jimmy Stewart plays a drunk who believes he sees and hears things from an imaginary, 6-foot-tall rabbit (for Bush, replace "rabbit" with "God").

Monday, May 17, 2004

With all of the comparisons between the Iraq occupation and Vietnam, is it too early to suggest the U.S. presence is shaping up to resemble more of an Israel/PLO dynamic? Unfortunately, it's what came to mind when reading today's news.

“It is the international system of currency which determines the quality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today.” – Arthur Jensen, in the movie Network (1976)

In today’s Washington Post, another in a series of examples whereby corporate lobbyists have written regulations that end up applying to their clients. We’ve seen this countless times before under Bush Inc.:

After a series of telephone calls, e-mails, letters and meetings with representatives of the laundry industry, the EPA had provided industrial-laundry lobbyists with an advance copy of a portion of the proposed rule, which the lobbyists edited and the agency adopted.

That same opportunity was not given to the rule's opponents -- environmental groups, a labor union, hazardous-waste landfill operators and paper towel manufacturers who argue their product should be treated as environmentally equal to laundered towels. The opponents say industrial laundries send tens of thousands of tons of hazardous chemicals to municipal sewage treatment plants and landfills where toxics can get into groundwater, streams and rivers. Labor unions contend that the towels expose workers to cancer-causing fumes.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

The mighty American war machine under Rumsfeld (from today's NY Times):

Six of the defendants in the Abu Ghraib abuse case once all bunked together in a tent in Baghdad. But as the most important military prosecutions since Vietnam unfold, each soldier is struggling alone to explain away seemingly irrefutable evidence captured in frame after frame of disturbing images, and they are pointing fingers at one another, minimizing their roles and blaming the government.

One defendant, Specialist Megan M. Ambuhl, says she was merely a bystander who treated the Iraqi detainees kindly, giving them copies of the Koran and making sure their meals contained no pork.

Specialist Jeremy C. Sivits, in a statement to investigators, described brutal conduct by Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick II and Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr., who, in turn, call him a liar.

Then there is Sgt. Javal S. Davis. His lawyer, Paul Bergrin, accuses the government of abusing him by interrogating him for 20 sleepless hours right after he worked a 60-hour shift at Abu Ghraib.

The defendants' challenge is to convince military courts that the pictures of abusive treatment of Iraqi detainees, which have generated a storm of criticism, do not begin to tell the whole story. Each has a personal version of events but one theme unites them: they contend they were following orders
Actually, concerning the road map posting below, if you insert McCain for VP (rather than Richardson) than I believe you can add a few more votes (!!) to the Kerry tally....

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Granted, it's early, but here's one potential road map to a Kerry victory:

The Cook Political Report lists their "Electoral College Outlook," as of mid-April. Note that it has Kerry ahead by a 228-211 count with 99 votes up for grabs, despite the fact that Kerry's polling numbers have gone up since mid-April. Just focusing on these month-old numbers, of the nine states categorized as toss-ups, if we assume that four of those states that went Democrat in 2000 go Democrat again, then Kerry picks up another 32 votes, bringing his total to 260 -- just 10 short of victory. The remaining five toss-up states (FLA, MO, NH, OH, NV) went Republican in 2000. There is another state that is leaning Republican (Arizona). If Kerry chooses Bill Richardson (Gov. of New Mexico) as VP, a credible case can be made that Kerry could then pick-up Nevada and Arizona, totalling 15 votes. Bingo, he'd then have 275 votes, a win, without the supposed necessary states of Florida and/or Ohio. And again, this projection was when Bush led Kerry in the polls 50-46; it's now reversed.
Bush is our first truly adolescent President.

We have a dumb, conniving 15-year-old running the country. He's that student that a smart teacher saw right through, not allowing him to dodge & weave to make the grade.

Bush will do anything to avoid admitting when he is wrong, most often choosing to lie to escape culpability. Instead of simply fessing up to a fault, he chooses to talk his way out of it -- at least until he can't talks no more, then he must gradually fess up to the truth. If a good idea is offered that's not his, he'll first attack it and then slowly adopt it, eventually declaring it his own. If in doubt, he'll change the subject, hoping to distract & move on. He'd rather have fun than work. He's been known to tell lewd jokes that he believed to be funny, yet listeners deemed simply crass -- and lewd. He'll tell you what you want to hear, then turn around and do the opposite. He has contempt for his elders (read: those who aren't his chums or buddies). He won't stick his neck out. He'll attempt to appease a crowd by way of crude statements, playing on their base fears & thoughts.

(I will be adding to this list periodically.... feel free to contribute suggestions).
Wouldn't this be a refreshing sight....

A relaxed picture of our next President & VP.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Adding to my most recent posting (from John Whitesides, Reuters):

Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup poll, said Bush's slowly sinking job approval rating, down to 46 percent in his latest survey, was similar to the dropping trajectory of the last three incumbents to lose their elections -- George Bush, the current president's father, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.
In contrast, the five most recent incumbent presidents who won their elections never dipped below 50 percent in their job approval rating at any point in the election year, he said.

"The Bush campaign has to be concerned and worried at this point," Newport said. "When you look at the trend, you certainly see that Bush is beginning to track the trajectory of the three losing presidents rather than the winners."

Clearly, there exists past precedence for Dubya/Rove to be greatly concerned at this point. Let's hope that their awareness of this current dire state does not put them in hyper win-at-all-cost mode (wishful thinking, right?), to the point where they're scrambling to do what they have to do in FLA, as well as Ohio, etc., and perhaps putting in a call to the CEO of Diebold, etc.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Thanks to Daily Kos for pointing out the terrific piece by Mark Mellman, who discusses the very little known fact that Kerry's polling numbers are better at this point in the race than any other presidential challenger since the inception of polling numbers. A key section,

I keep referring to “this point in time.” Why? Because campaigns are events that unfold over the course of the cycle. Most of the movement in polls comes in the aftermath of the conventions. Incumbent presidents are the best-known politicians around. Challengers are usually not as well known. Kerry is no exception. Today, many voters are expressing a preference for the Kerry they don’t know over the Bush they do. That is striking. Often, unpopular politicians still lead at this stage.
With just 44 percent support in both of the two most recent polls, Bush is in real and serious trouble
On April 29, the #2 man in charge of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, when asked about military casualties in Iraq, replied "It's approximately 500, of which-I can get the exact numbers-approximately 350 are combat deaths." The number of dead soldiers at the time was 722, or 44% greater than what Wolfowitz surmised.

Many have conjectured that it was obscene for him to not know the exact figure, implying that he was simply ignorant of the fact and/or that he didn’t care enough about this sensitive topic. I would offer that there’s the chance Wolfowitz indeed knew what the exact figure was then when asked and simply chose to fudge or evade the question. Yes, he simply could’ve lied. Would it have been the first administration official to have done so?! It would be consistent with their objective to play down the horrific side of war so as to not “undermine the war effort,” i.e. don’t mention or acknowledge such awful facts so as to not alarm the public. Keep the people in the dark for the good of the war.

While this notion is absurd and wrong, it once again brings to mind what I call the “Clinton Litmus Test.” If Clinton was in office and his #2 guy at Defense uttered such a response, how would the Republicans have taken it? My guess is they would’ve been outraged, with the right-wing loony machine attacking on all fronts (Congress, media, think tanks, etc.). Taking this further, simply swap out Bush, insert Clinton, and then imagine how the Republicans would be reacting to the lies about WMD, lies about Iraq and 9-11, lies about the cost of the Medicare bill, the prisoner abuse controversy, the growing deficit, years of no job growth, etc. etc. If one is at all intellectually honest, you have to believe Clinton would be up to his eyeballs in calls for impeachment, investigations occurring left and right, the TV swamped with Republican politicians decrying his lack of leadership and his need to step down, etc.

The hypocrisy is revolting.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The RAND Corp. conducted a study that attempted to derive what ratio of troops to population made for the most successful country occupations. Apparently, the British have set the standard for how best to occupy another country, and the study found that the optimal ratio was 20 troops per thousand citizens. Given that Iraq's population is approximately 25 million, the current total number of troops occupying the country is short by about 70%! The optimal number would come to half a million troops.

More proof that this administration has carried out this operation on the cheap and in doing so has jeopardized the success of the entire effort, has endangered the lives of all soldiers over there (shorting the presence of soldiers increases the likelihood of violent outbreaks and unrest), and does allow for another valid comparison to Vietnam (where similarly deployment of troops was initially hesitant).
One big realization that comes to mind when reading through James Fallows’ excellent “Blind Into Baghdad” is that during these trying last few years our government has continuously worked, or gotten it right, and repeatedly it’s Bush & Co. who have gotten it wrong. As taxpayers, we should understand and appreciate that the non-appointed aspects of the federal system appear to have functioned just fine, but as citizens we have been ripped off when the higher-ups have chosen to ignore or discard such terrific work.

Fallows points out that,

Almost everything, good and bad, that has happened in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime was the subject of extensive pre-war discussion and analysis.

All this, and much more, was laid out in detail and in writing long before the U.S. government made the final decision to attack. Even now the collective efforts at planning by the CIA, the State Department, the Army and the Marine Corps, the United States Agency for International Development, and a wide variety of other groups inside and outside the government are underappreciated by the public.

The problems the United States has encountered are precisely the ones its own expert agencies warned against.

In other words, the departments and agencies had it right, yet our appointed, senior government leaders chose to look the other way concerning such prescient warnings and words of advice. The same can be said for Richard Clarke, a “lifer” in government who performed superbly over his years of service, a true American, and yet he too was treated like the crazy aunt locked in the cellar. Look at the actuary for Medicare who also had it right and yet his reward was to have his livelihood threatened. Or consider the several EPA officials who have reluctantly resigned over the years, mainly because they realized that their many years of work and dedication were being reversed under Bush’s direction.

The point being that Americans should not blindly adopt the cynical, anti-government stance of this administration, particularly since it’s the administration itself that is inept and incompetent – not the government system as we’ve come to know it.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Interesting piece in the Sunday NY Times magazine on Bill Richardson. I now have a much better understanding as to why he is a frontrunner for Kerry’s VP spot.

He mentions this idea of the Dems putting aside the obsession to win the South and instead focus their efforts on the West, or even selectively the Midwest. Granted, this notion is in Bill’s self-interest, however the strategy appears to make sense. Obviously, an electoral vote counts the same no matter what state it comes from, so why the need to devote precious resources to a group of states that pose as a tough win? Over the years, in general the South has become very conservative. Dems Miller and Breux are actually Republicans in disguise and look what happened to Max Cleland in Georgia. It would appear that for many of these entrenched states, Kerry would be throwing away money in trying to gain the upper hand. A convincing case is made in the article that it would be better to focus time & energy on states like Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, in addition to going after the Hispanic vote in an aggressive manner.

Unfortunately, my impression of Richardson is one of a Mr. Nice Guy and if he is to be successful debating crass & snide VP Cheney, he’ll have to get much meaner and be able to go for the jugular when appropriate. We cannot let these win-at-all-costs folks in the current administration to get a free ride! Bush has provided ample ammo for his own demise. Let’s just see if Kerry and his eventual VP have the courage and fortitude to load the gun and fire.

Saturday, May 08, 2004


On Thursday, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan made some noise by voicing concern about the expanding federal budget deficit. Did he just wake up from a deep sleep? Why the sudden warning? Greenspan has been on record as one who has not raised red flags concerning the ballooning deficits, and in fact was a supporter of the absurd, for-the-ultra-rich tax cuts -- a big contributor to the massive red ink. Forbes points out "when the deficit problem was starting, Greenspan was nowhere. He blessed the tax cuts saying that surpluses were a problem."

I've long felt that Greenspan has been sending out mixed signals to the point where he has begun to sound schizophrenic. Granted, this latest statement is likely just an overture to prepare the market for higher interest rates, but if there's one thing the financial markets dislike it's inconsistency and it would appear as if Greenspan is being increasingly forced to exhibit odd behavior.
The lies keep piling up. Rumsfeld testified that Abu Ghraib guards had been told to follow the Geneva Conventions. However, the Washington Post points out that "the investigation by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba has documented that no such instructions were given." And many papers today all over the world remind us that in January 2002, Rumsfeld said that the Guantanamo Bay detainees had "no rights" under the Geneva Convention.

It's not an exaggeration to say that many in this administration are, or have become, pathological liars. It's to the point where anything that is said must be taken with a grain of salt. I am reminded of that scene in "Chinatown" when Faye Dunaway is lying in bed with Nicholson and he asks her about her daughter and she tells him one lie after another, with him slapping her in the face repeatedly to finally get the truth. If only we could repeatedly slap these people in the face....

Friday, May 07, 2004

Oh, what are the children to think....

Remember when the conservatives were appalled at Clinton's adulterous behavior, aghast at how this would look to the kids of America? Like Pete Rose betting on baseball, Clinton was thought to be a very poor example to our youth. Well, I ask where are these same voiced concerns when it comes to Bush's apparent inability to be able to speak in coherent sentences? What are our children to think? Why stay in school when you can become the most powerful leader in the world with seemingly very little education at all? Did anyone actually listen to that last press conference? Just take a look at Jacob Weisberg's book, in which he has collected 128 pages worth of "Bushisms" like the following gems:

"The illiteracy level of our children are appalling"; "It's the executive branch's job to interpret law"; "Hispanos," "arbolist," "subliminable," "resignate," "transformationed".....

Read it if you can stand it -- I can't! Beyond the matters of incompetence & ineptitude, I am mainly fed up with Bush due simply to embarrassment.

Thankfully, my kids are too young to know what's going on politically in the country. If they were old enough to ask questions, I'd be too ashamed to explain. This administration is a disgrace and our children are by far worse off attempting to learn anything from this president than the guy before him.
A friend who has several global connections (runs a hedge fund) has informed me that the situation in Iraq is very much "out of control," according to his source. It's gone from bad to very, very bad. The recent prisoner abuse problem has been wonderful PR material for terrorist recruiting -- just as Richard Clarke has discussed, with regards to the Iraq occupation making us effectively less safe.

Whereas Bush supposedly has the Saudis working diligently to make for a successful election year, make no mistake that the terrorists will be working the opposite side, attempting to make Bush look bad at very opportune times.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

One can assume that Bush/Rove would've strongly preferred holding off on any requests for money to further fund the Iraq effort until after the election. The fact that they've been forced to request a mere $25 bil. now suggests to me that this figure almost certainly is woefully low. It has to be the absolute bare minimum to keep things running over there. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., said Thursday that the administration is dribbling out requests for supplemental appropriations "to conceal the full costs of meeting the challenge in Iraq until after the election." Even the ultra-right Cato Institute web site lists the following:

"Reversing course, the Bush administration asked Republican congressional leaders yesterday to add $25 billion to next year's budget to help pay for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, abandoning plans to put off requests for new money until after the November elections," the Baltimore Sun reports.

"The funding is only the first installment of what the administration expects to need for next year. Military leaders and some lawmakers put that overall figure at about $50 billion. But it is a politically palatable way to inject new money into the military this fall, without the need for a congressional vote on Iraq on the eve of the presidential election."
The end may be near for Rummy. The Washington Post editorial today strongly suggests he should resign. With all of those who have left this administration (many of which have since written a book), there are at least a few more who should leave: Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, and Colin Powell (for being marginalized to the point of embarrassment; I've lost nearly all respect for this man, a now shameful figure). In addition, the Post editorial points how the symbolic gestures of high-up individuals can have severe consequences that affect real people. Whether it be Rumsfeld dismissing the Geneva Convention accords, or Bush pulling out of Kyoto, or Bush thumbing his nose at the U.N., such gestures eventually translate into everyday -- often hostile -- actions.
Sorry for the delay in updating but I was away on a multi-day business trip and I must admit, it was a relief to be out of touch with regards to coming across repulsive Bush happenings. However, I'm back and it did not take long for me to come across some truly nauseating stories about our wonderful leader. Example: today Bush apologizes for the humiliation suffered by Iraqi prisoners at the hands of U.S. troops. Okay, so he adamantly refuses to apologize to Americans for anything having to do with negligence concerning the 9/11 attack, yet at the drop of a hat he'll apologize to Iraqis for abuses that were completely out of the realm of his direct responsibility (i.e. it's safe to apologize for that). Can things get more absurd? Is anyone connecting the dots to how this administration operates?

Saturday, May 01, 2004

All the more reason we should remain friends with Europe....

The E.U. gets bigger by 10 countries today, making it more populated & having a larger GDP than the USA. I do not believe it's wise to continue to piss off and ostracize other nations. As their unity grows, our influence shrinks, and as we continue to ignore them, it provides just another reason for them to unite.

Enough already! (I kid)

How much more proof do we need that this administration was asleep at the switch when it came to the possibility of terrorist attacks, pre-9/11? The latest revelation: from Paul Bremer. And still no admission of mistakes.