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October 30, 2003

Wesley Clark: “”There is no way this administration can walk away from its responsibility for 9-11!”

Democrat Wesley Clark on Tuesday blamed President Bush for the intelligence failures that contributed to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“There is no way this administration can walk away from its responsibility for 9-11,” Clark told a conference, titled “New American Strategies for Security and Peace,” “You can’t blame something like this on lower level intelligence officers, however badly they communicated memos with each other. … The buck rests with the commander in chief, right on George W. Bush’s desk.”

Clark argued that Bush has manipulated facts, stifled dissent, retaliated against detractors, shown disdain for allies and started a war without just cause. He said Bush put Americans at risk by pursuing war in Iraq instead of hunting for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, pulling a “bait-and-switch” by going after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein instead of al Qaida terrorists. link

“George Bush isn’t in control . . . the country’s been hijacked…”

A former Pentagon officer turned whistleblower says a group of hawks in the Bush Administration, including the Vice-President, Dick Cheney, is running a shadow foreign policy, contravening Washington’s official line.

“What these people are doing now makes Iran-Contra [a Reagan administration national security scandal] look like amateur hour. . . it’s worse than Iran-Contra, worse than what happened in Vietnam,” said Karen Kwiatkowski, a former air force lieutenant-colonel.

“[President] George Bush isn’t in control . . . the country’s been hijacked,” she said, describing how “key [governmental] areas of neoconservative concern were politically staffed”.

Ms Kwiatkowski, who retired this year after 20 years service, was a Middle East specialist in the office of the Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, headed by Douglas Feith.

She described “a subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and a co-optation through deceit of a large segment of the Congress”, adding that “in order to take that first step – Iraq – lies had to be told to Congress to bring them on board”. more

Quagmire: U.S. Mulls Shifting Experts from Iraq Arms Hunt To Cmbat The Intensifying Resistance

The Pentagon, in an obviou effort to save their asses, is considering shifting intelligence personnel in Iraq from the so-far fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction to strengthen efforts to combat the intensifying resistance, officials said on Wednesday.

You can read more of this story here. I predeict this is the first move that will eventually lead to the total abandonment of the search for WMDs.

A Fable
by John Liechty

Once upon a time there was a place known as The Greatest Country In The World. This place had forgotten its true name. Grandparents had told children had told grandchildren had told great-grandchildren for so long now: �You live in The Greatest Country In The World (and incidentally that makes you The Greatest People In The World),� that the true name of the land had been lost.

Predictably, the Greatest Country In The World was led by The Greatest Government In The World in turn led by The Greatest Emperor In The World. The Emperor was selected every four years and was to be an individual uniquely suited to lead � a person of great integrity, practicality, courage, wisdom, intelligence, discernment, eloquence, generosity, compassion, honesty, humility, and even-handedness. By lucky coincidence, or perhaps as some insisted by Divine Intervention a certain Rich Young Ruler, son of a former Emperor, announced a desire to be the Anointed One. �I shall lead you by popular demand!� he vowed to The Greatest People In The World, and opened so many bags of gold that they very nearly demanded him. Not quite, but it didn�t matter in the end. The Rich Young Ruler finagled an unorthodox anointment, and head bowed in humility, ascended the throne with a retinue of grand viziers.

At The Greatest Expense In The World, The Greatest Country In The World maintained The Greatest Army In The World and The Greatest Armaments. This weaponry was capable of annihilating the world�s people a couple of dozen times over. A greater boon to Civilization could hardly have been imagined.

�It�s a lucky thing we control The Greatest Armaments In The World,� confided The Greatest Nation In The World to the less great nations. �Otherwise some Rogue Nation might get them and turn out to be a Threat To Freedom.� The less great nations had several options. They could nod their heads in vigorous agreement, pretend to nod their heads in vigorous agreement, immerse their heads in the sand, or indulge in the foolish option of defiantly sticking their necks out, thus risking Liberation.

Out of the blue one day and in spite of its Greatest Army and Greatest Armaments, The Greatest Country In The World was attacked. Many people were killed and the whole world was watching. �Who has done this thing?� cried the people, turning to their Emperor for guidance. �Why? What can we do?�

�It was one man,� answered The Rich Young Ruler with absolute certainty, and he told the people of an evil crackpot/ rogue billionaire living in a remote cave of the roguest nation of them all. �As for the why, that�s simple. He envied your freedom. We must declare War on Evil at once and bomb this threat away.� The grand viziers nodded wisely as The Rich Young Ruler explained to The Greatest People In The World (who were being quietly invited to cough up the gold for a War on Evil) that their freedom was beyond price. And many were persuaded. For the people had been assured for a very long time that in addition to being The Greatest they were The Freest People In The World. Often as not this meant they were free to grow as obese and indolent as they liked, free to live in fear and paranoia, free to make pornography a leading industry, free to buy goods they didn�t really need or want thanks to the cheap sweat of the less great world�s children, free to say anything they liked so long as it didn�t matter, free to run like rats in a maze or sell their own grandmothers in deference to the Greatest Economy In The World, free to build bigger prisons and occupy them, free to produce and sell and consume any snake oil under the sun so long as it made money. But Free they were, and many were persuaded.

Every day the rich young ruler conferred with his divinity (The Greatest Divinity In The World, not too surprisingly). Every day his trusty viziers wheeled in the sacred mirrors and kindled the holy smoke that together might allow the Anointed One a t�te-�-t�te with his divine confidante. One day the Greatest Leader In The World felt moved to declare: �God is my Favorite Philosopher!� And some of the people purred. �One Nation Under God!� clamored the more strident among them. �God Bless The Greatest Country In The World!�

After several consultations with his favorite philosopher, the Rich Young Ruler announced that capital punishment, prison, corporate irresponsibility, debt, war, and a more thoroughly gelded media were The Divinity�s Delight. His viziers smiled and purred, and so did some of the people. One day the Vizier of War wheeled in a massive mirror. It wobbled on its steel carriage, and waited. The Vizier of War struck a match and a plume of smoke rolled toward heaven. �O Favorite Philosopher,� the Rich Young Ruler addressed the mirror, careful not to look too closely into it. �What do I do next?�

�Declare pre-emptive war,� replied God without a moment�s hesitation. �Do unto others before they do unto you.�

�I hear and obey O Favorite Philosopher,� replied the Emperor, humbly lowering his head while a throng of select eunuchs converged with their cameras. Mirrors and viziers came and went. Flashbulbs shone, the smoke rolled. At the end of the day, when the Rich Young Ruler had jogged and dined and was debating whether to turn in early or take in some of the Monday Night Game, a strange thing happened. The fingers of a man�s hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the palace wall just as they had in the palace of King Belshazzar. But unlike Belshazzar�s, the Emperor�s color did not change, his thoughts did not alarm him, his limbs did not give way, his knees did not knock together.

�What the devil?� he cried in a tone more than halfway contemptuous. �MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN?? Sounds greek to me.� And so the Greatest Leader In The World of The Greatest Country In The World went to bed without even trying to read the writing on the wall, merely making a note to himself that in the morning he would inform The Greatest People In The World that he had decided to take a month off.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Democrats Need Route From Political Trap

Here’s an article that is about 10 months old that I think we all missed. Thiugh parts of it are now outdated – it alludes to some things that have not comt to pass and won’t such as a Tom Daschle predential run – it’s main focus is how the Republican smear machine is sure to kick into high gear as the demnoms head into the primary stretch.

Whoever emerges from the Democratic field will not only have to overcome Bush and his overwhelming advantage in campaign funds, but also take on a combination of the well-financed right-wing attack machine, which has refined its skills over the past decade, and a mainstream national news media that has demonstrated its proclivity to fall in line with the conservatives. Since at least the 1980s, mainstream journalists have found it very helpful to their careers to “prove” they’re not liberal by joining in trashing Democrats.

The Democrats had better expect a lot of mud � and ridicule � to be heaped on their “fresh face” candidates.

A Future Guide

If the past is any guide, Democrats should expect that:

— The attacks will be personal, not issue-based. Personality quirks or flaws will be used to “define” the Democrats so these traits can be easily transformed into laugh lines for the pundit programs and the late-night comedy shows.

— The attacks will be thematic, rather than specific. For instance, the Democratic challenger will be described as “Clintonian” — or in John Edwards’s case an “ambulance chasing trial lawyer” — rather than someone who supported or opposed a specific policy initiative.

— The attack machine will be relentless. Every utterance by the eventual Democratic nominee will be examined to see if it fits one of the thematic patterns that have been chosen as effective attack lines.

— Statements or issues that fit a “theme” will be repeated again and again in every media venue, from Web sites to radio to TV pundit shows to newspaper columns. Every right-wing pundit � and many mainstream commentators � will use nearly identical language until the “theme” becomes “conventional wisdom.”

— The mainstream press will incorporate the attack lines into regular news stories by using the objective-sounding criticism that the Democrat has failed to counter the attack and committed the political sin of letting his enemy define him.

— Most importantly, it will not matter who the Democratic nominee is. No one is immune. The attack machine will find a thematic pattern for each potential nominee and will pound the Democratic candidate into the ground with it. more

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October 28, 2003

Bush Support Down – WAAAAY Down – Amid Terror Attacks

Bush Support Down – WAAAAY Down – Amid Terror Attacks

In 1969, the band Blood, Sweat, and Tears, released a song called “Spinning Wheel” with lyrics that read “what goes up must come down…” There is no better song today for George W. Bush.

According to USATODAY, Independent voters, who some say are key to President Bush’s re-election hopes next year, are losing confidence in his leadership in Iraq as attacks there continue, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll has found.

In the poll, 39% of independents approve of the way the Bush administration has handled things in Iraq since Bush declared an end to major combat six months ago; 57% of independents disapprove. In the public overall, the poll found, 47% approve.

That is a substantial deterioration from late April, when it was assumed that U.S. troops had secured the country. At that time, when 80% of the public approved of the conduct of the war, 73% of independents approved.

In late April, 69% of independents favored the war � about the same level as the general public. Now, 48% of independents support the war, which is 6 percentage points below overall support.

Independents are less inclined to vote for Bush next year than to vote for a Democrat; 35% of registered independent voters choose Bush and 42% choose an unnamed Democrat. Among all registered voters, Bush leads the unnamed Democrat 46%-43%, which is within the 4-point error margin. See the complete poll results here.

Republican Columnist John McCaslin Ponders If Bush Will Lose The Military Vote In 2004

A popular green-camouflage button reads: “Support the military, vote Republican in 2004.” Yet on the flip side, one wonders now if armed forces stationed in Iraq could be the next swing voters? Some pundits say yes � President Bush will certainly lose military support at the polls.

Meanwhile, a panel discussion to be held Nov. 5, sponsored in part by the New America Foundation, will address whether the Republican Party as a whole could lose the military vote in 2004.

Republican Representative Mark Souder Wants To Remind Everyone What It Means To Be Conservative

In the Washington Times today, the question is asked: How does a person today define conservatism? The same way they used to, says five-term Rep. Mark Souder, who encourages Americans to dust off the 1953 book “The Conservative Mind.”

1953, huh? Leave It To Beaver conservatism! Actually, by encouraging people to adhere to a 50 year old book, Souder pretty much confirms the very definition of “conservative.”

con�ser�va�tive: …tending to oppose change.
(The American Heritage� Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

When it comes to conservatives,though, I rather like the findings of the UC Berkeley study.

According to the study, Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

* Fear and aggression

* Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity

* Uncertainty avoidance

* Need for cognitive closure

* Terror management

“From our perspective, these psychological factors are capable of contributing to the adoption of conservative ideological contents, either independently or in combination,” the researchers wrote in an article, “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition,” recently published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin.

Assistant Professor Jack Glaser of the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and Visiting Professor Frank Sulloway of UC Berkeley joined lead author, Associate Professor John Jost of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and Professor Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland at College Park, to analyze the literature on conservatism.

The psychologists sought patterns among 88 samples,involving 22,818 participants, taken from journal articles, books and conference papers. The material originating from 12 countries included speeches and interviews given by politicians, opinions and verdicts rendered by judges, as well as experimental, field and survey studies.

Ten meta-analytic calculations performed on the material – which included various types of literature and approaches from different countries and groups – yielded consistent, common threads, Glaser said.

The avoidance of uncertainty, for example, as well as the striving for certainty, are particularly tied to one key dimension of conservative thought – the resistance to change or hanging onto the status quo, they said.

The terror management feature of conservatism can be seen in post-Sept. 11 America, where many people appear to shun and even punish outsiders and those who threaten the status of cherished world views, they wrote.

Concerns with fear and threat, likewise, can be linked to a second key dimension of conservatism – an endorsement of inequality, a view reflected in the Indian caste system, South African apartheid and the conservative, segregationist politics of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-South S.C.).

Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality, the authors said. Hitler,Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form. Talk host Rush Limbaugh can be described the same way, the authors commented in a published reply to the article.

This research marks the first synthesis of a vast amount of information about conservatism, and the result is an “elegant and unifying explanation” for political conservatism under the rubric of motivated social cognition, said Sulloway. That entails the tendency of people’s attitudinal preferences on policy matters to be explained by individual needs based on personality, social interests or existential needs.

The researchers’ analytical methods allowed them to determine the effects for each class of factors and revealed “more pluralistic and nuanced understanding of the source of conservatism,” Sulloway said.

While most people resist change, Glaser said, liberals appear to have a higher tolerance for change than conservatives do.

As for conservatives’ penchant for accepting inequality, he said, one contemporary example is liberals’ general endorsement of extending rights and liberties to disadvantaged minorities such as gays and lesbians, compared to conservatives’ opposing position.

The researchers said that conservative ideologies, like virtually all belief systems, develop in part because they satisfy some psychological needs.

The researchers found conservatives to be intolerant of ambiguity and this intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes, the researchers advised.

The latest debate about the possibility that the Bush administration ignored intelligence information that discounted reports of Iraq buying nuclear material from Africa may be linked to the conservative intolerance for ambiguity and or need for closure, said Glaser.

Conservatives don’t feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions. “They are more comfortable seeing and stating things in black and white…” Glaser said.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

The Wal-Mart Blues

I’m really beginning to despise Wal-Mart. Other than their unfair and illegal labor paractices and their pandering to the religious right, it generally takes longer to pay for what you’re getting than it does to actually for it. Would you open another damn checkout lane?!?!?!?! I’m serious about this – though the checkout lines stretching back to the produce section is really only a minor issue to me.

Over the past year, we have seen Wal-Mart remove magazines (Maxim, Stuff) that dare show pictures of hot women and cover up the covers of such supermarket standards as Cosmopolitan and Glamour – all the while selling the hell out of Gun magazines.

At Wal-Mart, you can’t buy the latest CDs that have the word “fuck” in some of the songs but you can buy loads of firearms and ammo.

And now, according to this article, you can get your very own George W. Bush poster, courtesy of Wal-Mart! But all that STILL isn’t the worst of it.

You might recall hearing last week that several Wal-Marts were raided for hiring illegal immigrants as cleaners. Folks, those were jobs that unemployed Americans (thanks, Mr. Bush!) needed! But do you want to know the truly disgusting part of that? The cleaning crews did not receive health insurance and were paid below the minimum wagesometimes as little as $2 a day!!

2 fucking dollars A DAY!

Wanna know why Wal-Mart, the country’s leading retailer, is so successful?

2 fucking dollars A DAY!

Why are the owners of Wal-Mart some of the richest in the world?

2 fucking dollars A DAY!

Why couldn’t YOU get a job at Wal-mart? They told you you were over qualified when you desperately needed a job. What they meant was you probably wouldn’t work for… 2 fucking dollars A DAY!!!!

Remember this when you do you Christmas shopping (provided that after spending three years in George Bush’s America you can afford Christmast this year.) link


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October 27, 2003

note: I had a HUGE update today. Large. Major! And then, just as I published it, blogger burped and I lost it all. I simply can’t reconstruct it today, so you get the stripped down version. Tomorow, I’ll give the delux version!

Bush administration Faces Subpoenas From 9/11 Panel

The chairman of the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks said that the White House was continuing to withhold several highly classified intelligence documents from the panel and that he was prepared to subpoena the documents if they were not turned over within weeks.

The chairman, Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, also said in an interview that he believed the bipartisan 10-member commission would soon be forced to issue subpoenas to other executive branch agencies because of continuing delays by the Bush administration in providing documents and other evidence needed by the panel.

“Any document that has to do with this investigation cannot be beyond our reach,” Mr. Kean said on Friday in his first explicit public warning to the White House that it risked a subpoena and a politically damaging courtroom showdown with the commission over access to the documents, including Oval Office intelligence reports that reached President Bush (news – web sites)’s desk in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I will not stand for it,” Mr. Kean said in the interview in his offices here at Drew University, where he has been president since 1990.

“That means that we will use every tool at our command to get hold of every document.” more

Accolades

I rather enjoy being mentioned on other blogs. Sometimes the comments are good. Sometimes they’re bad. Sometimes they’re just… there.

A few days back I got mentioned in an old friend’s blog. He was writing about General Wesley Clark being my candidate for the democratic nomination. For the record, he is in Howard Dean’s corner.

He wrote something, though, that I wasn’t aware of:

“Dean has said straight out he would openly endorse any of the other candidates should they get the nomination.”

I haven’t heard that Dean has said that. I do know that Dean has hinted that his followers will NOT automatically vote for the democratic candidate should it not be Dean. And given what is at stake for 2004, I think that is a bit dangerous.

Quote: “I really do believe � and I think about this � I want to get this nomination, and if I don�t . . . these kids are not transferrable. I can�t just go out and say, �Okay, so I didn�t win the nomination, so go ahead and vote for the Democrats.� They�re not going to suddenly just go away. That�s not gonna happen.� link

Put it into this perspective, if this is indeed a pespective worth considering:

On Democratic Underground, polls are conducted at least weekly on the democratic candidates – asking various questions. These are usually done by supporters trying to prove whose candidate actually is leading.

One recent question was, “If your candidate does not get the nomination, will you support the candidate who does?” or something along those lines.

Dean supporters overwhelmingly said “NO.”

Scary, huh?

The blogger in question went on to voice his agreement with a recent Daily KOS entry where it was expressed that the national polls mean absolutely nothing at this stage in the game. The only polls that matter, he says, are the local primary polls. Once the nomination has been gained, then we can start paying attention to the nationals.

Whaaaaa? Polls revealing who has the best chance in beating Bush mean nothing?

I have a small problem with this. Yes, Dean leads in all the primary states that have thus far taken polls. However, nationally, some polls show Dean trailing Bush in the general election. These same polls show Wesley Clark either beating Bush or statistically even with him.

What does this say? It says Clark is garnering support from more than just the democratic base – and with the country seemingly divided right down the middle, the democrats need more than the democratic base to win.

Right?

If winning is the most important thing.

Again, let’s examine Ruy Teixeira’s, co-author of “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” analyzes of an October Gallup poll to discern “The Demographics of Clarkism”:

“While Clark receives more support than Dean among both men and women, his margin over Dean among women is just 3 points (16 percent to 13 percent), but an impressive 12 points among men (29 percent to 17 percent),” Teixeira points out. “He also beats Dean in every region of the country, but especially in the South (25 percent to 8 percent). Also intriguing is how well he does among low income voters (less than $20,000), clobbering Dean by 26 percent to 5 percent. In fact, Clark bests Dean in every income group up to $75,000. Above $75,000, Dean edges Clark, 26 percent to 25 percent.”

Might I also add that Clark’s impressive military record is wooing the so-called “Reagan Democrats,” Democrats that bolted the party and voted for Reagan in 1980 and ’84.

Let me say before I wrap this up that I am above all things an ABBer (Anybody But Bush.)

If another candidate’s national numbers and broad appeal were as phenomenal as Clark’s, I’d be in his corner.

And what good will it do to win the nomination if you are already behind Bush nationally?

I will gladly and rabidly support Dean if he is the Demnom. But I can’t help but feel, based on the words and actons of Dean’s supporters and Dean himself, that this is an ego thing with Dean. His victory in the primaries is more important, it seems, than the ultimate victory of the democratic party. Remember how Ted Kennedy acted in 1980 when Carter won the nomination? He embarassed the party. Will Dean have one of his famous temper tantrums should he not get the nomination?

Doesn’t any of this sicken you?

Michael Moore on Wesley Clark

Short, small MP3. Funny yet enlightening. Click here.


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October 23, 2003

Rumsfeld Admits “War OnTerror” Isn’t Going So Well!

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said in an internal memo last week that more than two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks it remains unclear if the United States is winning the war on terrorism or whether the ranks of Islamic militants are growing faster than the US government can stop them.

In the memo, Rumsfeld acknowledged U.S. forces would be in Iraq and Afghanistan a long time. “It will be a long, hard slog,” he wrote.

Slog, Mr. Rumsfeld? I think the word you’re seeking is quagmire.

Among Rumsfeld’s observations in the two-page memo:

� The United States is “just getting started” in fighting the Iraq-based terror group Ansar Al-Islam.

� The war is hugely expensive. “The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists’ cost of millions.”

More on this here.

Seems to me the “war on terror” is much like the “war on drugs.” If the government continues to do it the wrong way, it will never end.

In a world where we’ve all but abandoned Afghanistan, and our servicemen are trying to survive up to 35 attacks daily in Iraq, something is clearly wrong here.

Now, I’m not one of those democrats that just complains and never offers a solution. So here, for the first time, is RightwingSlayer’s plan for the war on terrorism.

1. Get bin Laden. Period. Forget Saddam. He hasn’t done anything to us. If the people of Iraq hate him so much, they’ll string him up. Yes, bin Laden should be the target. Remember him? He’s the dude who we believe orchestrated 9/11, and the Cole bombing, and the African embassy bombings. All Saddam did to us was… ummm… was… oh, could it be nothing? Continue a concerted manhunt to get the ones who struck at us.

2. Rebuild Iraq. Bring the UN in, of course, but we have to pay for it. We broke it. We gotta fix it!

3. Apologize to the world for being such asshole. Considering the hell we went through on 9/11, some of the world might understand. If we want the rest of the world to like us again, too, vote democratic and get Bush and his thugs out of the Washington.

4. Sink mucho resources into developing alternative fuel sources to lessen and eventually eliminate our dependency on middle east oil. Don’t give a flying rat’s ass how many fat cat rich Bush cronies get put out of work because of it. Let THEM see how it feels.

5. Send food, supplies, and humanitarian assistance for the Afghani people, including those in refugee camps in Iran and Pakistan. Do the same for the people of Iraq. Do the same for the the people of all poor undeveloped countries.

When possible, make sure the the people actually get the provisions. Use the military for that. If we can go in illegally and drop bombs, we can go in illegally and give out food and medical supplies.

The point is to get the people on our side. Then, they’ll eventually revolt against their leaders.

6. Make Christian proselytizing to these people a felony. They have their own religion and it isn’t the business of the United States to trade their superstitions for ours.

7. Slowly pull our military presence out of the middle east. Being there pisses them off.

US Soldiers to America: ”Bring us home now; we�re dying for oil and corporate greed!” – By Jay Shaft

This is a fascinating 5 part series on the opinions and attitudes of our men and women in Iraq

I had the unique opportunity to interview five US military servicemen who just got back from Iraq, or in the case of two men, corresponded with their wives so that I could ask questions of these soldiers by mail. When the two I corresponded with came back just last week, I was able to complete the interviews I started several months ago with some new details on how the war is actually going.

I was shocked and angered when I found out how many of the service men hate being in Iraq and want nothing to do with rebuilding and policing the devastated nation. From the conversations I had, many soldiers never wanted to go over to Iraq and fight, and the ones who had were now convinced of the awful crime that had been committed against Iraq and our own troops. I was told very few soldiers now believe in staying in Iraq, or want to stay in the country and serve any more days. more

Excellent article on Wesley Clark at salon.com…

Howard Dean is not the only Democratic candidate who has inspired an army of followers. Wes Clark’s ranks are growing, and they include Bush deserters.

Excerpts:

Clark stirs something even in people who usually don’t fall for mawkish campaign rhetoric. On Oct. 14, Harold Bloom, the venerable Yale humanities professor, cultural conservative and defender of the Western canon, published a remarkable encomium to Clark in the Wall Street Journal’s ordinarily right-wing editorial page with the portentous title “Cometh the Hour.” In it, he references Edmund Gibbons “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” and writes, “It is not at all clear whether we are already in decline: bread is still available for most and circuses for all. Still, there are troubling omens, economic and diplomatic, and a hint or two from Gibbon may be of considerable use … We need, at just this time, a military personage as president, one who is more in the mode of Dwight Eisenhower than of Ulysses Grant. In Wesley Clark, we have a four-star general and former NATO commander who is a diplomatic unifier, an authentic hero, wise and compassionate. That Gen. Clark saved tens of thousands of Muslim lives in Bosnia and Kosovo is irrefutable, despite current deprecations by worried supporters of the president. They are accurate only in their anxieties.”

Many of Clark’s followers say that while Dean speaks to their rage, Clark, four-star general, intellectual, humanitarian and war hero, speaks to their longing for something higher. “He’s obviously the best man at this time in history,” says Alexandra Richards, a New Jersey stay-at-home mother with a 2-year-old child and an unemployed husband. Figuring that their economic prospects are unlikely to improve as long as Bush is in office, Richards and her husband are considering selling their house and moving to Clark’s home base in Little Rock to volunteer for the campaign full-time. “Dean makes me angry about the present,” Richards writes in an e-mail. “Clark, on the other hand, gives me HOPE for the future. Hope feels better than anger.”

Richards, like several other Clark supporters, was a Deanie until the general entered the race. There’s no statistical evidence showing that Dean’s supporters are peeling off in favor of Clark, but anecdotes abound. “Dean has a whole year on this guy, but I can tell you this, the Dean supporters I know, I’ve suggested that they watch Clark,” says Christopher Dale, a 34-year-old San Diego public relations executive. “When they have checked him out, he’s won all of them over.”

——

Many Clark supporters are grateful for Dean’s steadfast bravery in challenging the president on Iraq when few others were willing, and they appreciate his pugnacity, but they find him exhausting and can’t imagine him charming those who disagree with him. “The thing about Dean, a lot of people could find him unreasonable and a bit shrill,” says Moritz. “He reminds me a lot of the guys I marched with during the antiwar marches. You want to listen to what they’re saying, it’s invigorating, but you also know they are turning off a lot of people by their intensity.”

Dean promises to fight back against the right’s vicious partisanship. Clark’s supporters see their man as someone who can transcend it. “Dean’s rhetoric is not appealing to people who want a healing of the government, a healing of the American people from all this partisan warfare,” says Richards. “I give a lot of credit to Dean for raising the alarm about Iraq, but in order to be elected president, you have to have some sort of credibility with all Americans, not just angry white liberals.”
——

According to Ruy Teixeira, co-author of “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” Clark’s followers are right to suppose that their man’s appeal is demographically broader than Dean’s. In a post on the Emerging Democratic Majority blog, he analyzes an October Gallup poll to discern “The Demographics of Clarkism”:

“While Clark receives more support than Dean among both men and women, his margin over Dean among women is just 3 points (16 percent to 13 percent), but an impressive 12 points among men (29 percent to 17 percent),” Teixeira points out. “He also beats Dean in every region of the country, but especially in the South (25 percent to 8 percent). Also intriguing is how well he does among low income voters (less than $20,000), clobbering Dean by 26 percent to 5 percent. In fact, Clark bests Dean in every income group up to $75,000. Above $75,000, Dean edges Clark, 26 percent to 25 percent.”

Furthermore, unlike Dean, Clark seems to have significant support from black voters. He’s been treated gently by Al Sharpton and endorsed by Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y. “When Charlie Rangel speaks up for somebody like General Clark, it speaks volumes in the black community,” says Brazile.

Brooks-LaSure, an African-American who plans to work on communicating Clark’s message to black communities nationwide, points out that when Dean spoke at a black church in South Carolina, the audience was primarily white. Clark, he insists, will appeal to black voters. “The general’s experience growing up in Little Rock, and then in the military, where they boast of having more African-Americans in positions of management and leadership than any other organization in the world, you can tell [working with black people] is not something new for him,” Brooks-LaSure says.

Finally, Clark has support among a constituency that doesn’t relate to Dean at all — those who think that Bush is a basically decent man who’s doing a bad job as president.

more


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October 22, 2003

Sorry, folks! No update today.

Wednesdays I see a nutritionist to help me shed some weight.

I’ve gained 80 pounds since Bush took office. (Fast food is my comfort.)

I’ve lost 51 of them.

CONGRATULATE ME!


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October 21, 2003

Republicans have their panties in a wad of new Reagan movie

In a new movie, CBS portrays former president Reagan as mean, spiteful bigot. Good! They speak the truth.

According to the Drudge Report, The film depicts Nancy Reagan as a pill-popping control addict, who set the president’s schedule based on her astrologer’s advice and who had significant influence over White House personnel and policy decisions.

Also the truth. I remember the news items about that well.

It stresses Reagan’s moments of forgetfulness and his supposed opinions on AIDS and gays, [they were STRONG feelings to be sure!)

During a scene in which his wife pleads with him to help people battling AIDS, Reagan says resolutely, “They that live in sin shall die in sin” and refuses to discuss the issue further.

Hey, who remembers the famous Reagan “sand nigger” quote?

And Reagan as a homophobe? So it ain’t so! We would have never guessed it based on his words and deeds!

Speaking of the Reagan years, conservatives in general, and AIDS, the book Reagan’s America sums the AIDS epidemic up well in regards to Reagan:

Not only was AIDS mysterious, without a known cause, but it mainly affected “promiscuous homosex-uals,” which the New Right had been warning since Reagan’s election would be the cause of terrible disasters for America. The problem was, explained the National Review, that homosexuals had recently broken their pact with all of us to stay out of sight and not stir up our homosexual feelings. “Homosexuals committed to fighting openly for their civil liberties are asking for it,” they said.(43) Homosexuals who dared to demonstrate for more help for AIDS victims soon found themselves faced with anti-homosexual counter-demonstrations, with frightened, angry people carrying signs saying “DON’T DESTROY AMERICA WITH YOUR LUST.” Soon the fantasy that AIDS was contracted from “contaminated blood” spread around the country,(44) reaching the deepest fear anyone can have, a fear which goes all the way back to the time in the womb when each of us was actually poisoned from time to time by the inability of our own placenta to cleanse the waste in our bloodstream .(45) link

Let’s hope CBS doesn’t bow to the pressure of the republinazis and shows the true story of Saint Reagan.

Former weapons inspector exposes �Big Lie� of Iraqi WMD

Former United Nations chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter�s latest book, Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America, is a scathing critique of the Bush administration�s main pretext for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Excellent review here.

Voters Describe Ideal Nominee

Majorities of likely Democratic voters in three states with early primaries or caucuses say they prefer a presidential nominee who supported military action against Iraq but criticized President Bush for failing to assemble international support over a candidate who opposed military action from the beginning, according to new polls conducted by the liberal Democracy Corps.

The polls, taken in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, also show a Democratic electorate sharply divided over Bush’s request for $87 billion to fund military and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next year. Congress is preparing to vote on the president’s request this week.

The findings in the new polls suggest that the divisions over Iraq within the party are less clear-cut than some strategists and candidates believe, or that support for U.S. action to remove former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein from power is a serious handicap in the battle for the Democratic nomination.

Democrats surveyed in the three states also listed foreign policy and national security experience as the most important attribute they are looking for in selecting a nominee. They rated that characteristic over such other choices as experience in Congress, being a decorated combat veteran, being a Washington outsider or having a blue-collar background.

So, take this into account when considering the nine democratic candidates. link


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October 20, 2003

Study: Sexual Identity Hard-Wired by Genetics; Conservatives in Deep Denial

It must be a pain in the ass to be a conservative – always on the losing side of scientific debate.

Sexual identity is wired into the genes, which discounts the concept that homosexuality and transgender sexuality are a choice, California researchers reported on Monday.

“Our findings may help answer an important question — why do we feel male or female?” Dr. Eric Vilain, a genetics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Sexual identity is rooted in every person’s biology before birth and springs from a variation in our individual genome.”

“Our findings may explain why we feel male or female, regardless of our actual anatomy,” said Vilain. “These discoveries lend credence to the idea that being transgender — feeling that one has been born into the body of the wrong sex — is a state of mind. link

If you would like to express your condolences to the Republican party for their failing political platform and their pandering to the religious right, here is their address:

Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

Might I suggest a nice fruit basket?

Are we expecting something…. big?

Top constitutional law scholars and political scientists will huddle in the Senate Judiciary Committee room all day next Monday to weigh the unfathomable: A nuclear device in Washington kills the president, vice president and everyone in the line of succession.

Along with members of Congress, the analysts will seek to determine whether the current system of presidential succession is adequate for the post-September 11 world ?— and if not investigate reforms to the system. Washington Times

Bin Laden Vows More Suicide Attacks

(Reuters) – Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has vowed to carry out more suicide attacks within the United States and against U.S. targets outside America to punish Washington for its “oppression”, the Arabic satellite television Al Jazeera says.

“We, God willing, will continue to fight you and will continue martyrdom (suicide) operations inside and outside the United States until you abandon your oppression and foolish acts,” said the text of an audio tape purportedly by bin Laden made available to Reuters by Al Jazeera.

Two observations. Now that Bush’s approval ratings are in a steady decline, we need to be scared again to keep us in line. After all, there are attack plans for Iran and Syria and the good people in the US need to fall back in line…

And… why in the hell is Osama still a threat? Why is he still out there to make these threats? Oh, I remember, Bush though Saddam was more dangerous. link

The Howard Dean Hype Machine…

After I revealed last week that Wesley Clark is my choice for the Demnon, I received several e-mails from Howard Dean supporters trying to sell me on their man.

First of all, an endorsement from RightwingSlayer isn’t at all coveted. I think any of the candidates will do well without it. Trust me.

But the tone of a few of the e-mails was almost confrontational, as though I had turned my back on the democratic party by not being in Dean’s corner.

Well, I’m pretty disgusted with a small minority of militant Howard Dean supporters. I didn’t say I was disgusted with Dean. Dean is a politician above anything else and he is not immune or above scrutiny, especially in light of what is at stake in 2004. He is a close third in my choice for demnom.

However, there is a little contingent of Dean supporters who can be downright vile in their support of this candidate. I recall reading somewhere that many of Dean’s supporters are new to the political game and have never paid attention to politics until recently. I also personally heard a handful of supporters say this about themselves at the one Dean meet-up I attended. This might explain why some Dean supporters are so thin skinned when it comes to any critiques of him.

Josh Marshall at talkingpoints memo said it best:

There is an awfully distressing tendency among a minority of Dean supporters to serve up no end of lacerating comments about other candidates and then to react with a sort of stunned and outraged shock when anyone criticizes their guy. It’s the flip side of seeing the race in such heroic, if not messianic dimensions.

The primary is actually not concluded yet. And, pace John Calvin, I assume the outcome is not predetermined. So it is still permitted to criticize Mr. Dean and not be an enemy of democracy. link

Look. I’m tired of the game. I will support Howard Dean in a heartbeat if he gets the nod but I’m not fooled by him. He isn’t the man many of his followers have made him out to be.
And although I appreciate the rabid support he has, some of these supporters can be downright funny when defending his record for something.

It typically goes like this on democratic message boards: Someone mentions something about Dean that contradictss the Dean myth. These Dean supporters swoop in with their spin machine and tell us exactly what Dean meant or was thinking when he said something. This hypothesis is then spread among the Deanie masses so when the original point comes up again, they say, “That has already been debunked.”

Well, no, unless you can read Howard Dean’s mind or have afternoon tea with him on a daily basis, the point hasn’t been debunked. It has been spun.

Case in point – Dean’s supposed anti-war stance. It’s a myth.

The record shows Dean thought Saddam had WMDs and supported taking him out…

“I don’t want Saddam to stay in power with control over those weapons of mass destruction. I want him to be disarmed.”

“Every day that goes by, we destroy more of Saddam’s weapons or the inspectors do.”

“I think Iraq is automatically an imminent threat to the countries that surround it because of the possession of these weapons.” link

Russert: …and I’ll show it to you. You said in January, Governor, “I would be surprised if (Saddam) didn’t have chemicals and biological weapons.”

Dean: Oh, well, I tend to believe the president. I think most Americans tends to believe the president.

Russert: What did you think of Senator John Kerry’s comments that President Bush misled the country.

Dean: Well, I thought it was Senator Bob Graham that said that and I agree with that. And Bob Graham is in a position to know. He’s a senior senator on the Intelligence Committee and…

Russert: No, John Kerry said the president misled us and…

Dean: Well, I wasn’t aware that Senator Kerry said it. I knew Senator Graham had said it in Iowa. But I believe that. I think we were misled. link

So here is the setup. In these quotes, Dean believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction at one point, and then admits he was midled. Fine.

But then Dean hypocritically attacks John Kerry for claiming people had been misled:

“A bunch of the people who voted for this war are now saying, `Well, we were misled,’ ” said Dean. “The fact is you can’t afford to be misled if you are running for president of the United States.”

What’s that called?

OK, let’s take it further.

On January 31, Dean told Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times that “if Bush presents what he considered to be persuasive evidence that Iraq still had weapons of mass destruction, he would support military action, even without U.N. authorization.”

And then on Feb. 20, Dean told Salon.com that “if the U.N. in the end chooses not to enforce its own resolutions, then the U.S. should give Saddam 30 to 60 days to disarm, and if he doesn’t, unilateral action is a regrettable, but unavoidable, choice.”

Again, this was on January 31. A month or so later (see Dean quotes above), Dean appears to fully believe Saddam has WMDs. Apparantly, Dean (like a lot of people) believed Bush’s false evidence.

Now, let’s tie this up. We have Dean, fully believing Bush’s false evidence, calling for military action even without U.N. authorization.

Dean, fully believing Saddam has WMDs, amends his view on February 20 by stating the US should give Saddam 30 to 60 days to disarm if the UN chooses not to enforce it’s own decisions.

Sorry, people, Dean may be anti-war now, but he hasn’t always been, and the belief that he was is one of many Dean myths.

But let me defend Dean a little bit.

Dean didn’t propogate these myths. His supporters did. Supporters so desperate for an anti-Bush candidate they essentially created one.

I know I’ll get e-mail on this – many pointing out the flaws my choice for demnom, Wesley Clark, has. Go ahead if you want. I’ve seen them all.

And diverting from Dean to Clark isn’t a valid defense, anyway.

If you have been under the impression Dean was this big anti-war candidate, just admit that he was not. It doesn’t have to change your other opinions on Dean.

However, if you really want an anti-war candidate, vote for Dennis Kucinich.

View the new DNC ad against the Bush administration by clicking the above picture… then go here and help put this puppy on TV!