Saturday, August 07, 2004


The 2-Front War

Mr. Bush's decision to invade Iraq before finishing the job in Afganistan was about as smart as Hitler's decision to invade the Soviet Union before finishing off Great Britain. First, it did the US a great deal of harm and little if any good:

The war in Iraq has intensified the hatred of America around the world and powerfully energized Al Qaeda-type insurgencies. At the same time, it has weakened our defenses by diverting the very resources we need - personnel, matériel and boatloads of cash - to meet the real terror threats.
Bob Herbert New York Times

Next, it gave the Taliban and Al Qaeda time to rebuild. Remember how the Taliban first came to power by fighting a guerilla war against the Soviets? Mr. Bush's strategy lets them do the same thing to us:

U.S. and NATO forces have a strong presence in Kabul, the Afghan capital, but their grip on the rest of the country is tenuous. Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-backed president, is derisively said to be little more than the mayor of Kabul.

Much of the rest of Afghanistan is controlled by powerful warlords who command large private militias. They are largely financed by a booming export trade in opium and heroin.

In southern and eastern Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar are believed to be hiding, the Taliban effectively controls large swaths of territory. U.S. military officials say foreign Islamist fighters and al-Qaeda financiers are aiding the Taliban.
San Diego Union-Tribune

...The Taliban have stepped up recruiting in the south and intensified strikes against newly trained Afghan soldiers and police officers, as well as foreign-aid workers.

The attacks appear to be having the most impact in rural areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan, where the Afghan government is still struggling to establish its authority nearly three years after the Taliban fell. That part of the country has been a traditional Taliban stronghold. Reconstruction in some areas has come to a near standstill, and local people remain hostile to the Americans and the Afghan government.

Meanwhile, we have our latest triumph in bringing the "rule of law" to Pakistan's "democracy" - the only Islamic state to successfully export atomic bomb technology to North Korea and Iran:

The leader of the Movement for Justice party (Imran Khan) said there was general concern about the failure of the authorities to bring those detained before a court of law.

"They do not believe that the way this war on terrorism is being fought is beneficial for Pakistan in any way," he added.

He also warned that President Pervez Musharraf administration's was too dependent on US support.

"Our government is no different to the Iraqi Governing Council," he said.

"The whole system depends on one man... If anything happens to him, there is chaos ahead."
BBC News

The $146 billion and counting we spent on the Iraq invasion sure could have come in handy for, say, rebuilding Afganistan, and strengthening security at our ports of entry. Too bad winning the war on terrorism would have given the weapons inspectors enough time to confirm there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.


Laura Bush's Day of Irony

Complaining about opinions replacing facts in "news" coverage while appearing on the O'Reilly Factor? Will Laura Bush be flying to Burma soon to discuss how Burma's neighbors need to become more democratic?

"I think there are a lot of reasons to be critical of the media in America," she said in an interview Tuesday with Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor."

"I think that a lot of times the media sensationalize or magnify things that aren't -that really shouldn't be," she said.

"I do think there's a big move away from actual reporting, trying to report facts," the first lady said. "It's in newspapers and everything you read - that a lot more is opinion."
Associated Press

On the other hand, maybe she just wants journalists to stop covering "things that shouldn't be," such as the war in Iraq.

Friday, August 06, 2004


Gov. Grey Davis Was Right

Remember when Gov. Davis was being savaged for the "ridiculous" assertion that California's high energy prices resulted from price manipulation by big energy companies?

"John Forney, 42, of Ohio, is the third Enron official to plead guilty to manipulating electricity prices from Enron's now-defunct trading office in Portland, Oregon. The crisis played a role in Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s bankruptcy and will leave California consumers paying abnormally high electricity prices for years.
On the calls, other traders openly and gleefully discussed creating congestion on transmission lines, taking generating units off-line to pump up electricity prices and in general, manipulating the power market.

They also kidded about Enron's hefty political contributions -- particularly to President Bush's campaign -- and how that could translate into more opportunity for profit in California.


Bush's Mission Still Accomplished in Iraq

We went into Afganistan to remove Islamic fundamentalists and create a stable democracy. Now, Mr. Karzai is inviting the Taliban back into the government.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, Moqtada al Sadr appears control significant portions of Iraq. Why do I feel Mr. Bush's mission was not accomplished?

From the BBC

"US-led forces in Iraq have clashed with Shia militiamen in several cities, in a second day of fighting that has shattered a truce agreed in June.

A US military spokesman said 300 supporters of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr had been killed in Najaf - a claim denied by Mr Sadr's Mehdi militia.

There has also been fighting in a Shia area of the capital Baghdad, and in a number of southern cities.

Mr Sadr's aides have called on Muslims to take up arms against "occupiers".

The latest violence in Najaf, home to Shia Islam's holiest shrine, is being described as the worst there since June's truce agreement. "


Bush's Economic Plan Working - NOT!

Massive tax cuts for the rich apparently aren't creating enough US jobs to keep up.

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From the BBC

"US employers added just 32,000 workers to their staff numbers last month, as far weaker employment figures than expected were revealed on Friday.

The addition to the "non-farms payroll" was the lowest this year, and smaller than the most gloomy estimate.

'We're not satisfied," US Treasury Secretary John Snow told reporters in Pittsburgh. "We're encouraged, though, by the fact that the unemployment rate came down.'"
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Note the "snow job" regarding the "lower unemployment rate." The unemployment rate is calculated from the number of people RECEIVING UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE. If your benefits run out - you're not unemployed anymore, even if you're not working! When the unemployment rate comes down in a bad job market, this really means lots of people have neither jobs nor unemployment insurance coverage. John Snow claims this is "encouraging."

Economists designed this system when people could spend their entire lives on welfare to separate out folks not wanting to work from those seeking work. Although this is no longer true, it is not politically convenient to re-work the calculation schema to reflect the new reality - so they use the old system for "consistency."

Of course, there are the new jobs for maids, gardeners and servants generated by Mr. Bush's tax cuts for the rich, but this job growth is mainly "cash-only" and is probably underreported in the jobs numbers.


You Guess the Crime:

"(s)enior officials involved in the (crime) were allowed to walk free while ordinary people were tried and punished. "

Your job: Name the crime and when it happened.

Click herefor the full crime story

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Cheney's Halliburton

Halliburton makes money the old-fashioned way - via deceptive accounting practices:

From the BBC:

"The SEC said Halliburton failed to disclose a 1998 change in accounting practices that caused its profit statement for that year and 1999 to be 'misleading.'

In one example, profits were inflated by 46.1% in the 1998 annual report, it said.

Mr Cheney "provided sworn testimony and co-operated willingly and fully in the investigation conducted by the commission's career staff," the SEC said.

Last year Halliburton, the US' second-largest oil services group, agreed to pay $6m to settle lawsuits over accounting practices involving cost overruns on construction projects."


My guess is that the SEC's fines were far less than Halliburton's (and ironically named financial controller Mr. Muchmore) profits on this accounting scandal. Crime does pay:

Halliburton and Mr Muchmore agreed to a settlement, with Mr Muchmore paying a penalty of $50,000 and the company $7.5m...Mr Cheney, who ran the company between 1995 and 2000, was not charged.



Farm Pollution Killing the Gulf of Mexico

Only national-level anti-pollution regulations can stop this. States would compete against each other in a "race to the bottom" to give their respective agricultural industries an advantage.

From the BBC:

In the last 30 years, the dead zone has become an annual summer phenomenon, because farmers in the Mississippi watershed are using more nitrate-based fertilizers, Dr Rabalais said.

The nitrates, carried into the Gulf's warm summer waters by the river, feed algae blooms that use up oxygen and make the water inhospitable to other forms of life.


President Bush's Blog

From the Onion


Bush Fights 9/11 Commission Recommendations

Posted on Tue, Aug. 03, 2004

Thomas H. Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission investigating the terrorist attacks on the U.S.
9-11 panel members criticize Bush's response to recommendations

By Sumana Chatterjee and Warren Strobel
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - President Bush's first swipe at tackling the recommendations of the Sept. 11 panel on improving America's war on terrorism drew criticism Tuesday from members of the commission and his own intelligence agencies.

And the White House hinted that it might yet change its plans. (Read: Flip-Flop based on polling data)

On Monday, Bush endorsed the creation of a new national intelligence czar, but balked at giving that person broad administrative and budgetary powers.
"In this city, if you have a fancy title, but you're not in the chain of command, and you don't control the budget, you're a figurehead. And another figurehead is not what the 9/11 commission recommended and what our nation needs," said (Bob) Kerrey...

  • Read the Article

  • Tuesday, August 03, 2004


    Bush the Liar

    Bush's claim that John Kerry voted over 350 times for higher taxes is a flat lie:

    From the Columbia Journalism Review:

    "Bush’s presidency has been historic in this regard... Rather than simply lying, this White House uses carefully crafted language to create a misleading impression or make claims that are technically accurate but designed to produce inaccurate conclusions.
    The president then rolled into another disingenuous attack. “...You make sure your friends and neighbors understand that as a United States senator, he voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people.” However, only a fraction of those 350 votes — a number the Bush campaign has been citing since March — are votes to increase taxes directly. Rather, the number is padded with votes on various tax matters spanning Kerry’s twenty years in the Senate: votes against decreasing taxes, votes to trim proposed tax cuts, votes against repealing tax hikes that were already enacted, and votes in favor of tax cuts that were smaller than what Republicans had proposed. Confused? That’s the idea."
    Full text


    White House Media Control

    The White House apparently exerts significant control over the "liberal" media:
    (From American Journalism Review)

    "...Around that time, the White House turned up the pressure, Strobel says, and "tried to freeze us out of briefings."

    Landay adds: "I think this administration may have a fairly punitive policy when it comes to journalists who get in their face. And if you talk to some White House reporters, there is a fear of losing access." He says that fear may have played into the relatively uncritical approach of news organizations like the (New York) Times...

    Full Text


    Bad Iraqi News is a Media Conspiracy

    Only America-haters would publicize this:

    Insurgents Kill 7 Iraqis in Attacks

    Published: August 3, 2004

    Filed at 5:54 p.m. ET

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Insurgents killed seven Iraqi security personnel in a car bombing and other attacks Tuesday, and the U.S. military announced the deaths of six Americans, including four killed by guerrillas...
    Full Story


    Bush's Offensive Offends Arabs

    Juan Cole explains why "they" dislike us:

    ...The Muslim world was largely sympathetic to the US after the 9/11 attacks. Iranians held candlelight vigils, and governments and newspapers condemned terrorism. Bush's unprovoked attack on Iraq, however, turned people against the US. The brutal, selfish, exploitative occupation, the vicious siege of Fallujah, the tank battles in front of the shrine of Ali, a vicar of the Prophet, Abu Ghuraib, and other public relations disasters have done their work.
    (Arabs) dislike the US because of its policies. According to the recent Zogby poll, they had three main concerns: The US-supported persecution of the Palestinians, the US occupation of Iraq, and US plans to dominate and humiliate Arabs in general. It is policies that they hate, and want changed, not US values.

    Read Full Text


    Yet another e-mail video virus

    From the BBC

    A virus purporting to show video of Nick Berg alive has been released on the internet, warn security experts.

    The virus is in a message post to tens of thousands of newsgroups, said anti-virus firm Sophos.

    It is the same one that posed as a suicide note from Arnold Schwarzenegger and as images claiming to show that Osama Bin Laden had killed himself.

    Graham Cluley, Sophos

    "This gruesome insensitivity is a despicable ploy to get curious computer users to download malicious files."

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