Saturday, September 25, 2004

Gay Money Is Still Green

This, more than any sort of humanism or enlightenment on the part of the American people, is why gay marriage is destined for legalization:
Ohio's big-city mayors are trying to defeat a proposed gay marriage amendment on the Nov. 2 ballot, saying it's detrimental to the state's economy.

"This isn't about marriage," Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman said last week. "It's about the economic future of Ohio."

Coleman warned that passage of Issue 1 would harm the state's already weak economy by sending the message that Ohio is an intolerant place to do business.

Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell agreed that the state has other priorities.

"We shouldn't be focused on dividing and distracting," she said.

Coleman pointed to Cincinnati, the country's only major city that bans the passage of laws protecting gays and lesbians, as an example.

The 10-year-old amendment to the city charter has cost Cincinnati at least $46 million in potential convention business, said Julie Harrison Calvert, spokeswoman for the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Militant Fundamentalists

Somehow, I just don't want such people making the laws I live under:

Jody Anderson, a nurse from Fort Worth, Texas, said she's concerned some Christian conservatives may stay home on Election Day because they have been disappointed that Bush hasn't taken a public stand on some conservative issues like the dispute over displaying the Ten Commandments at an Alabama courthouse.

Thomson, a former Marine, used military imagery to fire up the Christian Coalition activists to get out the vote.

"Never allow the enemy to block you," Thomson urged them. "Get around them, run over the top of them, destroy them — whatever you need to do so that God's word is the word that is being practiced in Congress, town halls and state legislatures."


"Loyal Opposition" NOT an Oxymoron

Anyone who knows anything about the actual leftist parties that exist outside of the United States knows that the Democrats barely rise to the level of "opposition" at all.

But even the Dems' timid, sporadic dissent is more than the Boy King can handle:

President George Bush yesterday accused Democrat rival John Kerry of attacking the credibility of Iraq's leader and branded him unfit to lead America.

He lashed out after Senator Kerry said the upbeat comments about Iraq by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi glossed over the problems in the war-torn country.

"You can't lead this country if your ally in Iraq feels like you questioned his credibility," Mr Bush said while campaigning in Wisconsin.

"My opponent chose to criticise the Prime Minister of Iraq," he said. "This brave man came to talk about how he's risking his life for a free Iraq - which helps America - and Senator Kerry held a press conference and questioned Prime Minister Allawi's credibility."


First Step

Hopefully, this is a trend that will spread quickly eastward:
California has adopted the world's first rules to reduce greenhouse emissions for autos, taking what supporters see as a dramatic step toward cleaning up the environment but also ensuring higher costs for drivers.

The rules may lead to sweeping changes in vehicles nationwide, especially if other states opt to follow California's example. New York has already said it will follow the regulations, and several other states are expected to do the same.


Wal-Mart Now Only 99% Evil

Their morality is truly profound:
Bowing to a barrage of complaints from Jewish groups, retail leader Wal-Mart Inc. has stopped selling "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," an infamous anti-Semitic tract long exposed as fake.

Jewish leaders had complained that the book, which purports to tell of an international Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, was being sold on with a description that suggested it might be genuine instead of a forgery concocted by the Czarist secret police in the early 20th Century.

The description, now withdrawn from the Wal-Mart (WMT: Research, Estimates) Web site, said, "If ... The Protocols are genuine (which can never be proven conclusively), it might cause some of us to keep a wary eye on world affairs. We neither support nor deny its message. We simply make it available for those who wish a copy."

In a statement e-mailed to Reuters, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said, "Based on significant customer feedback regarding the book titled 'The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,'
we have made a business decision to remove this book ... from our site at"


Friday, September 24, 2004

Nazi Bush

It's confirmed, grandpa Bush should have been prosecuted:
George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.
The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator's action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.


Pakistan Not Toeing the Line

I'm rather surprised to hear the president of Pakistan attacking the invasion of Iraq, but there it is:

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf said today the US-led invasion of Iraq had made the world a more dangerous place and complicated the war on terrorism.

Musharraf, in the United States to attend the UN General Assembly, was asked in an interview on CNN if he thought the war in Iraq was a mistake.

"It has ended up bringing more trouble to the world," said the Pakistani leader, an ally of the United States in its broader war on terror.

"[The world] is more dangerous ... because [the Iraq war] has aroused the passions of the Muslims more," he said, describing the US-led coalition as "bogged down" in Iraq.

"[The war in Iraq] has complicated the war on terror ... it has made the job more difficult," said Musharraf, who has been the target of two assassination attempts in recent months.

In a separate interview with NBC, Musharraf said the issue was greater than the removal of Saddam Hussein and that the United States had to do more to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Steve Earle Agrees with No Capital

He, too, knows that the Invisible Hand is giving you the finger:
The idea that the market will take care of anyone not heavily invested in it is incredibly naïve. Well, it's a naïve belief for those under its thumb, but a lie for those who capitalize on it. Capitalism is OK as an economic system, but it makes a lousy religion.


Iraq Officially Nice

Well, sure, the puppet government installed by us which controls only limited parts of the country doesn't support anti-American terrorism. As to whether Iraq is now a breeding ground for anti-American militant ideology, that's another question, a question Bush doesn't want us to think about:
US President George W. Bush instructed on Friday that Iraq be removed from the US list of "state sponsors of terrorism".

Citing the downfall of ex-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Bush said in a memorandum to Secretary of State Colin Powell, "There has been a fundamental change in the leadership and policies of the Government of Iraq.

"Iraq's government is not supporting acts of international terrorism...Iraq's government has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future," Bush said in the statement, which the White House made public.


On Cat Stevens

The instant deportation of Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) from the U.S. because he's on a no-fly list has been making the rounds on the news and the blogs, but I really only have one thing to say about it.

Stevens supported the fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie because he wrote The Satanic Verses. Rushdie lived for many years in fear for his life as a result of this death sentence. So I just can't bring myself to care much about Stevens.


Beaten Back

Hah. The Bush bigots have been forced to drop their efforts to shortchange gay employees of the federal government:
Three days after was first to report that the Bush Administration was trying to remove protections for gay and lesbian workers from civil service labor contracts the effort has been abandoned.

The Social Security Administration Friday said it will no longer attempt to remove sexual orientation from the Administration’s non-discrimination policy.

Bush-appointed SSA administrators had proposed to rollback gay and lesbian rights by striking protection based on sexual orientation from their contract with union workers, an act which would have allowed discrimination, including job termination, based solely on sexual orientation.


Iraq Election Flip-Flop

They just keep changing their stories; it's almost as though they don't know what they are doing:
Iraq's elections should be nationwide, a top Bush administration official said on Friday, clashing publicly with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's suggestion that voting might not take place in the most violent areas.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said the elections scheduled for January will not be perfect, but they should encompass the entire country.

Rumsfeld also appeared to back away from his outspoken remarks on Thursday that while the elections will take place on time, they might not be held in places where security could not be guaranteed.

"Every Iraqi deserves the right to vote," Rumsfeld said on Friday. "We and the government of Iraq intend to see that the elections are held, intend to see that they're held on time, and to do everything possible to see that that happens, and to see that every Iraqi has the right to vote."

Oh, and by the way, we no longer have any intention of making Iraq better than it was:

Rumsfeld also said Washington would not wait until Iraq "is peaceful and perfect" before beginning to withdraw U.S. troops "because it's never been peaceful and perfect and it isn't likely to be."


News Flash

Except, it's not. It's been clear from day one that the neocons' vision of American hegemony is misguided:
A Pentagon-appointed panel of outside experts has concluded in a new study that the American military does not have sufficient forces to sustain current and anticipated stability operations, like the festering conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and other missions that might arise.
Note: Even Rumsfeld approves of it, so any future disavowal will be a flip-flop:
Mr. Rumsfeld said the report was an "excellent piece of work," and that he had ordered briefings on its findings for senior military and civilian officials.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Mandela's Writings Recovered

This discovery is simply fantastic. Such records of key historical events are hard to come by, and they truly do indicate the importance of real historical memory:
For three decades the notebooks gathered dust in a cupboard, unknown to the world, forgotten even by their author, but cherished by the secret policeman who sensed history in their pages. As an apartheid agent Donald Card's job involved the decoding of confiscated writings of Robben Island prisoner 46664, to read between the lines about where the liberation movement was headed.

Except by the time he received the two books in 1971 Mr Card had lost faith in South Africa's white regime and so without telling anyone he locked away the private thoughts of Nelson Mandela in a cupboard at his home in eastern Cape.

This week the two notebooks surfaced when the retired spy handed them over in an emotional ceremony of restitution which Mr Mandela said was the signal for a nationwide "recovery of memory".

Adding up to 150 foolscap pages in fastidious, neat handwriting, the books comprised drafts of 79 letters written between 1969 and 1971 when Mr Mandela was barely into his 27-year jail term.

"These two manuscripts probably constitute the best primary source of Mr Mandela's thoughts and emotions at that time," said Cornelius Thomas, a historian who is the only person, besides Mr Card, to have read them.


Pre-emptive Catblogging


More Voter Fraud

Just unbelievable, the things they'll do to keep progressives away from the ballot boxes. Unbelievable, and also, one would think, actionable:

Is the battleground state of Michigan turning into the next Florida? Is Terry Lynn Land - the Michigan Secretary of State and Republican co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign - about to become the next Katherine Harris?

In the last few weeks the Department of State's branch offices in Ann Arbor and Battle Creek have distributed special notices to newly registered voters. "Registering today? Please be advised that you are not eligible to vote in the November 2, 2004 General Election." Except the deadline to register for November's election isn't till October 4 and the fliers were meant for display only after October 5.

Ann Arbor's a progressive haven. And Battle Creek remains a hotly contested swing district with a one-term House Republican struggling for re-election.



Again, the Congress fails to have an ounce of common sense, and the deficit will yawn ever wider, unchecked:

Putting aside efforts to control the federal deficit before the elections, Republican and Democratic leaders agreed Wednesday to extend $145 billion worth of tax cuts sought by President Bush without trying to pay for them.

At a House-Senate conference committee, Democratic lawmakers abandoned efforts to pay for the measures by either imposing a surcharge on wealthy families or closing corporate tax shelters.

"I wish we could pay for them, but this is a political problem and we have people up for re-election,'' said Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. "If you have to explain that you voted for these tax cuts because they benefit the middle class and against them because of the deficit, you've got a problem.''

Fearful of being attacked as supporters of higher taxes, Democrats said they would go along with an unpaid five-year extension of the $1,000 child tax credit; a four-year extension of tax breaks intended to reduce the so-called marriage penalty on two-income families; and a six-year extension of a provision that allowed more people to qualify for the lowest tax rate of 10 percent.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are putting on a bizarre charade, for reasons that are beyond me:

Even as they pushed for the cuts that will add to the federal budget deficit, House Republican lawmakers said Wednesday that they hoped to have a vote soon on a constitutional amendment that would require the government to balance the budget by 2010, except if the country is at war.

That proposed amendment has no chance of becoming law, but it would conflict with even the Bush administration's rosiest goals for reducing the deficit, which is expected to hit $420 billion this year, a record. Mr. Bush has promised only to cut the deficit in half by 2009.


Circling the Wagons

These people have not the slightest compunction about playing games with American lives, and they keep proving it, over and over.

This latest development in the deformation of Medicare in favor of corporate profits its downright criminal:
A House of Representatives panel on Thursday rejected along party lines a Democratic bid to force the Bush administration to turn over records about the estimated cost of last year's Medicare drug bill.

Democrats say the prescription drug benefit measure, which they mostly opposed, would have been defeated had lawmakers known that the administration's cost estimates were about one-third higher than the $400 billion, 10-year estimate by Congress' own budget office.

A top Medicare actuary Rick Foster accused Medicare's then-chief Tom Scully of threatening to fire him if he shared his cost estimates with lawmakers before the vote.

Democrats wanted to force the administration to release the records and establish that it cannot hide information from the legislature.


The Iraqization of America

Could it be that, rather than exporting American democracy to Iraq, the neoconservatives' new dream is to import Iraq's version of democracy to America in November?

Sounds that way:
Denying he has painted too rosy a picture about Iraq, President Bush said Thursday he would consider sending more troops if asked, but Iraq's interim leader firmly said they weren't needed. With violence spreading, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld suggested parts of Iraq might have to be excluded from elections in January.

Hmm. What parts of America are most vulnerable to attacks, and thus should probably be excluded? I know! The coasts!


War on the Courts, Cont'd.

Just like fundamentalist Christians and their Bibles, the House Republicans don't want nobody interpreting the law for them, no sir!

But, at least they chose a truly significant issue as the reason for their attempts to erode the separation of powers:
The House, in an emotionally and politically charged debate six weeks before the election, voted Thursday to protect the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance from further court challenges.

The legislation, promoted by GOP conservatives, would prevent federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from hearing cases challenging the words “under God,” a part of the pledge for the past 50 years.

Democrats said majority Republicans were debasing the Constitution to force a vote that could hurt Democrats at the ballot box.


Bush: Autistic or Merely Solipsistic?

Bush's misguided speech to the U.N. has damaged the standing of the U.S. even further:
European newspapers Wednesday accused US President George W. Bush of refusing to face facts over Iraq after he called for greater international involvement in reconstructing the country in an address to the UN General Assembly.

The president's speech "systematically refused to engage with what actually has happened in Iraq," the Financial Times commented.

"The extent of the president's disengagement from the reality of a sinking Iraq is alarming," it said.

Bush "exhibited no sense whatsoever of grievous US policy mistakes, of the serious failures of the occupation authorities, or the extent to which the Iraqi misadventure had handed the initiative to jihadi terrorists," the business daily added.

The FT accused Bush of "solipsistic" assumptions and hailed Democrat presidential contender John Kerry's call Monday for a "great, honest national debate on Iraq" as a "welcome injection of seriousness" into the election campaign.
For France's centre-left Liberation, Bush's speech to the UN exemplified the "slightly autistic self-satisfaction" which it said was the dominant tendency in the US administration.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Now, this is rather ironic:
In its rush to air its now discredited story about President George W. Bush’s National Guard service, CBS bumped another sensitive piece slated for the same “60 Minutes” broadcast: a half-hour segment about how the U.S. government was snookered by forged documents purporting to show Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium from Niger.

The journalistic juggling at CBS provides an ironic counterpoint to the furor over apparently bogus documents involving Bush’s National Guard service. One unexpected consequence of the network’s decision was to wipe out a chance—at least for the moment—for greater public scrutiny of a more consequential forgery that played a role in building the Bush administration’s case to invade Iraq.

A team of “60 Minutes” correspondents and consulting reporters spent more than six months investigating the Niger uranium documents fraud, CBS sources tell NEWSWEEK. The group landed the first ever on-camera interview with Elisabetta Burba, the Italian journalist who first obtained the phony documents, as well as her elusive source, Rocco Martino, a mysterious Roman businessman with longstanding ties to European intelligence agencies.


Another Misfire

These people being in charge of the "war on terror" is not what I'd call reassuring:
Yaser E. Hamdi, an American citizen captured in Afghanistan and once deemed so dangerous that the American military held him incommunicado for more than two years as an enemy combatant, will be freed and allowed to return to Saudi Arabia in the next few days, officials said Wednesday.

After weeks of negotiations over his release, lawyers for the Justice Department and Mr. Hamdi announced an agreement requiring him to renounce his American citizenship. The agreement also bars him from leaving Saudi Arabia for a time and requires him to report possible terrorist activity, his lawyer said, although legal analysts said the arrangement would be difficult for the United States to enforce.

The agreement was driven by a Supreme Court decision in June. In the ruling, a major setback for the Bush administration, the court found that Mr. Hamdi and enemy combatants like him had to be given the chance to challenge their detention. The court declared that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president." The administration decided that rather than give Mr. Hamdi a hearing, it would simply negotiate his release.


It's Official

I hereby declare today Official Racism Against Indians Day. I can't surf anywhere without finding some appalling instance of anti-Indian racism.

The latest outrage is from The Washington Post.

With their story on the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian, they have this picture:

Their caption:

Talking on his cell phone as he waits to enter the new museum, Jimmy Goins from North Carolina seems almost an anachronism.

Yeah, he may seem like an anachronism to whatever racist moron asshole wrote that caption, but not to anyone who realizes that Native Americans are living breathing human beings and not just a bunch of primitives who died in the 1800s.


Or, to put it another way (from Wonkette):

As an eagle-eyed Wonkette operative commented, "Yeah, you'd think he'd be sending up smoke signals or something. It's a wonder that Indians have figured out how to use cell phones. It seems like only yesterday they were getting the hang of rifles." But what we really appreciate about American Indians is their deep connection to the Mother Earth, or, as they call it, "maize."


Kiwis Cutting Out

New Zealand is bringing its people home from Iraq:
As New Zealand's 61 Army engineers wend their way back home from Iraq after
a demanding six-month deployment, Prime Minister Helen Clark has all but ruled
out anything but financial help for Iraq in the foreseeable future.



Governor Arnold makes fine use of his veto power to keep racist mascots firmly in place:

California schools can continue calling their teams the "Redskins" after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have banned the use of the term as racially derogatory.

Another story made all the more grotesque by being juxtaposed with the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Arnold's actions demand that I quote Ward Churchill's definitive essay on the subject:

First, as a counterpart to the Redskins, we need an NFL team called "Niggers" to honor Afro-Americans. Half-time festivities for fans might include a simulated stewing of the opposing coach in a large pot while players and cheerleaders dance around it, garbed in leopard skins and wearing fake bones in their noses. This concept obviously goes along with the kind of gaiety attending the Chop, but also with the actions of the Kansas Chiefs, whose team members - prominently including black members - lately appeared on a poster, looking "fierce" and "savage" by way of wearing Indian regalia. Just a bit of harmless "morale boosting," says the Chief's front office. You bet.

So that the newly-formed Niggers sports club won't end up too out of sync while expressing the "spirit" and "identity" of Afro-Americans in the above fashion, a baseball franchise - let's call this one the "Sambos" – should be formed. How about a basketball team called the "spearchuckers" A hockey team called the "Jungle Bunnies." Maybe the "essence of these teams could be depicted by images of tiny black faces adorned with huge pairs of lips. The players could appear on TV every week or so gnawing on chicken legs and spitting watermelon seeds at one another. Catchy, eh? Well, there's "nothing to be upset about," according to those who love wearing "war bonnets" to the Super Bowl or having "Chief Illiniwik" dance around the sports arenas of Urbana, Illinois.

And why stop there? There are plenty of other groups to include. "Hispanics?" They can be "represented" by the Galveston "Greasers" and the San Diego "Spics," at least until the Wisconsin "Wetbacks" and Baltimore "Beaners" get off the ground. Asian Americans? How about the "slopes," "Dinks," "Gooks," and "Zipperheads?" Owners of the latter teams might get their logo ideas from editorial page cartoons printed in the nation's newspapers during World War II: slanteyes, buck teeth, big glasses, but nothing racially insulting or derogatory, according to the editors and artists involved at the time. Indeed, this Second World War-vintage stuff can be seen as just another barrel of laughs at least by what current editors say are their "local standards" concerning American Indians.

Let's see. Who's been left out Teams like the Kansas City "Kikes," Hanover "Honkies," San Leandro "Shylock," Daytona "Dagos," and Pittsburgh "Polacks" will fill a certain social void among white folk. Have a religious belief? Let's all go for the gusto and gear up the Milwaukee "Mackerel Snappers" and Hollywood "Holy Rollers." The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame can be rechristened the "Drunken Irish" or "Papist Pigs." Issues of gender and sexual preference can be addressed through creation of teams like the St. Louis "Sluts," Boston "Bimbos," Detroit "Dykes," and the Fresno "Fags." How about the Gainsville "Gimps" and the Richmond "Retards," so the physically and mentally impaired won't be excluded from our fun and games?

Now, don't go getting "overly sensitive" out there. None of this is dreaming or insulting, at least not when it's being done to Indians.


You Can Trust The Enquirer

The rest of the mass media may be dropping the ball on this, but not this fine publication:


Celebration, Lamentation

The opening of the National Museum of the American Indian is a great stride forward for Native Americans in the United States, and we all should celebrate it.

At the same time, though, comes this report. An outrage:
Suicide attempts are common at prisons operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where inmates step over one another in overcrowded jails and corrections officers are so few that prisoners simply walk away from some facilities, according to a report released yesterday by the Interior Department's inspector general.

The report, "Neither Safe or Secure: An Assessment of Indian Detention Facilities," said the prisons have many problems, including poorly trained guards, underfunded medical facilities, and unsanitary conditions, even after receiving more than $150 million in federal funding for construction since 1997.

The bureau is often hard-pressed to account for money it has spent, the report said. On one occasion, the agency, which the Interior Department oversees, could not provide investigators with expenditures for more than $9 million of the $11 million it received to open new facilities.

"This is one of the most condemning reports I've seen in more than 20 years of oversight work," said Senator Chuck E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. "It finds very little worthwhile in Indian detention centers, which are overseen by the federal government, and lots of horror stories."


The Right's Answer to Michael Moore

The "American Film Renaissance," featuring Michael Moore Hates America, sounds like it was a hoot. I'm sorry I missed it.
For the three-day duration of the AFR festival, founders Jim and Ellen Hubbard ran through the festival's creation legend with a weary cheerfulness. A year and a half ago, the two former law students got the idea to start up their pro-American film festival after they saw that their local theater in Little Rock, Arkansas, was screening only two movies: Frida, about a "communist artist," and Moore'sBowling for Columbine.

"Where were the films for normal people?" Ellen Hubbard asked.

Sadly, not at the AFR. Among the cinematic offerings were plenty of conspiratorial tracts – discourses on the potential fall of Western civilization due to the forces of immigration, terrorism, and a low birth rate for native-born U.S. citizens (The Siege of Western Civilization); on Bill Clinton's cover-up of the Islamic terrorist operations behind the Oklahoma City bombing (The Mega Fix); and on the astounding thesis that the genocides of Rwanda, Cambodia, and Bosnia stemmed from gun-control laws (Innocents Betrayed). When they weren't weaving an unlikely web of cause and assumption, the films banged on single-note themes: the piousness of our president, the heroics of our veterans, the insanity of the "Islamo-fascist" agenda of the antiwar left.


Millions Disenfranchised

This is not what democracy looks like:
Millions of U.S. citizens, including a disproportionate number of black voters, will be blocked from voting in the Nov. 2 presidential election because of legal barriers, faulty procedures or dirty tricks, according to civil rights and legal experts.

The largest category of those legally disenfranchised consists of almost 5 million former felons who have served prison sentences and been deprived of the right to vote under laws that have roots in the post-Civil War 19th century and were aimed at preventing black Americans from voting.

But millions of other votes in the 2000 presidential election were lost due to clerical and administrative errors while civil rights organizations have cataloged numerous tactics aimed at suppressing black voter turnout. Polls consistently find that black Americans overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

"There are individuals and officials who are actively trying to stop people from voting who they think will vote against their party and that nearly always means stopping black people from voting Democratic," said Mary Frances Berry, head of the U.S. Commission on Human Rights.
Vicky Beasley, a field officer for People for the American Way, listed some of the ways voters have been "discouraged" from voting.

"In elections in Baltimore in 2002 and in Georgia last year, black voters were sent fliers saying anyone who hadn't paid utility bills or had outstanding parking tickets or were behind on their rent would be arrested at polling stations. It happens in every election cycle," she said.

In a mayoral election in Philadelphia last year, people pretending to be plainclothes police officers stood outside some polling stations asking people to identify themselves. There have also been reports of mysterious people videotaping people waiting in line to vote in black neighborhoods.


Supporting the Troops

The Guardian has an excellent long piece detailing the many ways that soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq with PTSD and other problems are being shafted by the government.

You should read the whole thing.


The Solution

If Bush wins in November, I'm forming a handball team:
Sri Lanka is trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of its "national handball team" while on tour in Germany, but it is no easy task - the island does not have one.

The 23-strong "team" duped the German Embassy in Colombo into issuing visas for a month-long tour beginning on September 8, acting German Ambassador Heidi Jung said yesterday.

The group vanished soon after arrival and German and Sri Lankan officials have been unable to trace them. They are legally allowed to stay until October 7.

"There is no handball federation in Sri Lanka ... We don't even have a single club," said Hemasiri Fernando, of Sri Lanka's Olympic Association.

Sri Lanka's Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport said it was unclear whether the group's strategy was political asylum or illegal immigration.

Who's with me?


0 for 5000

Not the best track record, I think anyone would agree. It amazes me that there are actually right wingers like Michelle Malkin who can still, in the wake of these thousands of pointless detentions of innocent people, argue for internment:
On Sept. 2 a federal judge in Detroit threw out the only jury conviction the Justice Department has obtained on a terrorism charge since 9/11. In October 2001, shortly after the men were initially arrested, Attorney General John Ashcroft heralded the case in a national press conference as evidence of the success of his anti-terror campaign. The indictment alleged that the defendants were associated with al Qaeda and planning terrorist attacks. But Ashcroft held no news conference in September when the case was dismissed, nor did he offer any apologies to the defendants who had spent nearly three years in jail. That wouldn't be good for his boss' campaign, which rests on the "war on terrorism." Here, as in Iraq, Bush's war is not going as well as he pretends.

The Detroit case was extremely weak from the outset. The government could never specify exactly what terrorist activity was allegedly being planned and never offered any evidence linking the defendants to al Qaeda. Its case consisted almost entirely of a pair of sketches and a videotape, described by an FBI agent as "casing materials" for a terrorist plot, and the testimony of a witness of highly dubious reliability seeking a generous plea deal. It now turns out that the prosecution failed to disclose to the defense evidence that other government experts did not consider the sketches and videotape to be terrorist casing materials at all and that the government's key witness had admitted to lying.

Until that reversal, the Detroit case had marked the only terrorist conviction obtained from the Justice Department's detention of more than 5,000 foreign nationals in anti-terrorism sweeps since 9/11. So Ashcroft's record is 0 for 5,000. When the attorney general was locking these men up in the immediate wake of the attacks, he held almost daily press conferences to announce how many "suspected terrorists" had been detained. No press conference has been forthcoming to announce that exactly none of them have turned out to be actual terrorists.


Just Keeping Turning the Screws

Is there no end to their evil? This is just shameful:
The Bush administration has proposed reducing the value of subsidized-housing vouchers given to poor residents in New York City next year, with even bigger cuts planned for some urban areas in New England. The proposal is based on a disputed new formula that averages higher rents in big cities with those of suburban areas, which tend to have lower costs.

The proposals could have a "significantly detrimental impact" in some areas by forcing poor families to pay hundreds of extra dollars per month in rent, according to United States Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican. That extra burden could be too much for thousands of tenants, "potentially leaving them homeless," Mr. Shays wrote in a recent letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The changes would affect most of the 1.9 million families who participate in the Section 8 program, the government's primary housing program for the poor, including 110,000 in New York City. People in the program receive vouchers to help them rent private apartments from landlords who agree to participate.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Let Them Eat Cake

United States plays Marie Antoinette to the world:
THE United States faced condemnation today after failing to join more than 100 countries as part of a new campaign to raise an extra $50 billion (£28bn) annually in aid to combat global hunger.

On the eve of the annual gathering of the General Assembly, more than 50 heads of state and government joined a debate at the United Nations that focused on the impact of globalisation and on ways to finance the war against poverty.

French President Jacques Chirac called the pledge to take action "unprecedented".
"The greatest scandal is not that hunger exists but that it persists even when we have the means to eliminate it.

It is time to take action," said a declaration signed by 110 nations and adopted at the close of a World Leaders Summit on Hunger held at UN headquarters.

But the US poured cold water on the project, with the leader of the American delegation, agriculture secretary Ann Veneman, dismissing it. "Economic growth is the long-term solution to hunger and poverty," she told the meeting. "Global taxes are inherently undemocratic. Implementation is impossible."

I'm sure Veneman's ideological purity will be a great relief to the millions and millions of impoverished people worldwide, as they slip toward death.


DeLay Off the Hook?

Without even being questioned or subpoenaed? That's a letdown.

But at least they're going after some of the crooks. And it's always good to see homophobic Cracker Barrel take a hit:
Three people and eight corporations — including Sears and Cracker Barrel — were indicted Tuesday on charges of making illegal campaign contributions through a political action committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

DeLay, a Texas Republican, was not charged.

The grand jury has been investigating whether $2.5 million in corporate funds were used illegally to help Republican candidates win elections in 2002 that gave the GOP a majority in the Texas House for the first time since Reconstruction. The GOP later used its majority to redraw Texas' congressional districts to favor Republican candidates.

Those charged included three members of DeLay's PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority: John Colyandro, James Ellis and Warren RoBold.

Ellis was charged with money laundering. Colyandro and RoBold were charged with unlawful acceptance of corporate political contributions. The eight companies were charged with making illegal political contributions.

DeLay was not questioned or subpoenaed as part of the grand jury investigation.


Legalizing Malpractice

This one slipped by me last week, but fortunately Echidne of the Snakes was there to catch it:
A little-noticed provision cleared the House of Representatives last week that would prohibit local, state or federal authorities from requiring any institution or health care professional to provide abortions, pay for them, or make abortion-related referrals, even in cases of rape or medical emergency.

Just imagine "moral" doctors across the nation standing idly by while women bleed to death on the table.



Homophobia in the SSA

Once again, the Bush administration is trying to rid a government agency of all those nasty gays:
Social Security Administration officials are trying to remove language protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation from the agency's labor contract, union leaders claim.

During negotiations on renewing the contract, SSA officials proposed eliminating a clause that allows gay, lesbian and bisexual workers to file discrimination grievances, said Witold Skwierczynski, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Council 220.


Iran Forges Ahead

Given the behavior of the United States in the past couple of years, I have to say that, were I in Iran's place, I too would prefer to be in North Korea's position rather than Iraq's.
Iran says it has started converting raw uranium into gas for enrichment in defiance of demands set by the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, told reporters in Vienna Tuesday that Iran had begun converting 37 tonnes of raw uranium into fuel for nuclear centrifuges, Reuters reported.

One nuclear expert told the news agency that, if enriched, that would be enough material for five nuclear weapons.


What Does the "W" Stand For?

She looks happy, doesn't she?


The NY Times Runs for Cover

Remember that piece the NYT ran in which the editors admitted that their reporting in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq had been, shall we say, less than stellar (by which I mean that they served as a mouthpiece for the government's lies)?

Well, they'd clearly rather you didn't:
Before the release of "Fahrenheit 9/11," for example, Moore complained that he was never asked to appear on television. I doubt he still makes that complaint. Still, the latest such fracas, involving Moore and the New York Times, shows that sometimes his complaining is warranted. Michael Moore makes the mainstream media deeply uncomfortable, and in its defensive response, that media shows its conservative and corporate soul.

The incident occurred because Moore is putting together a book of documents, newspaper clippings and cartoons called The Official 'Fahrenheit 9/11' Reader. So the filmmaker asked the Times for permission to reprint "The Times and Iraq," the paper's critique of its reportage in the months before the start of the Iraq war. In that article, the Times admitted that its reporting was, well, not very good, particularly as it buttressed White House claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Other news organizations, such as the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, had given Moore permission to reprint items. But Times' managing editor Bill Keller turned Moore down. "Our note, 'The Times and Iraq,' was not intended to become part of a political battle," a Times spokeswoman said.

To which one can only say, heaven forbid that a newspaper's reporting should become part of a political battle.

Right. And trumpeting Saddam Hussein's possession of WMDs was an utterly apolitical act.



Faith works in mysterious ways. It leads conservative Christians not to believe in evolution, for which there is an embarrassment of riches of evidence.

And, though they cannot bring themselves to believe something so obvious, they still manage to believe in something as dubious as this:
A conservative Christian group is pushing to have a film promoting "gay conversion" shown in schools during National Coming Out Day next month.

The one-hour film profiles people who claim to have been transformed by faith into giving up homosexuality for a straight lifestyle.

I suggest a compromise. They can show their ridiculous little film, but only as the first part of a double feature, the second part of which would be But I'm a Cheerleader.



Hate Politics in the Churches

Having lived in just a stone's throw from Springdale, in Fayetteville, I cannot say that this surprises me one bit. (Springdale, in case you've forgotten, is the birthplace of that bane upon humanity known as Wal-Mart.)
Evangelical leaders used a Springdale Baptist Church service to call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage Sunday.

The politically charged service at First Baptist Church came just a few months after the church's pastor, the Reverend Ronnie Floyd, was accused of using his pulpit to endorse President Bush over Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in the presidential election.

Sunday's service called for a ban on gay marriage and was led by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. It was televised before an estimated 1 million people nationwide and 3,000 attending the church.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Playing with Fire

The genetic modification of plants has been going on for quite some time, driven by agri-chem-business interests, most notably Roundup. The idea that modified plants might crossbreed with normal ones, conveying resistance to pesticides, has been around a while, but no one has done much of anything about it.

We may be starting to see the results of this gross corporate negligence, and the fact that this case has to do with, of all things, golf courses, just adds a perverse twist to the story:
A new study shows that genes from genetically engineered grass can spread much farther than previously known, a finding that raises questions about the straying of other plants altered through biotechnology and that could hurt the efforts of two companies to win approval for the first bioengineered grass.

The two companies, Monsanto and Scotts, have developed a strain of creeping bentgrass for use on golf courses that is resistant to the widely used herbicide Roundup. The altered plants would allow groundskeepers to spray the herbicide on their greens and fairways to kill weeds while leaving the grass unscathed.

But the companies' plans have been opposed by some environmental groups as well as by the federal Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Critics worry that the grass could spread to areas where it is not wanted or transfer its herbicide resistance to weedy relatives, creating superweeds that would be immune to the most widely used weed killer. The Forest Service said earlier this year that the grass "has the potential to adversely impact all 175 national forests and grasslands."


Big Lie or Flip-Flop?

I tend to think that Josh Marshall is right on this one, and that the point of this column is to let people who want to vote Bush believe whatever makes them happiest about his plans for Iraq. Pretty easy to project desires onto a completely blank screen.

But, what if Novak is right?

Inside the Bush administration policymaking apparatus, there is strong feeling that U.S. troops must leave Iraq next year. This determination is not predicated on success in implanting Iraqi democracy and internal stability. Rather, the officials are saying: Ready or not, here we go.

This prospective policy is based on Iraq's national elections in late January, but not predicated on ending the insurgency or reaching a national political settlement. Getting out of Iraq would end the neoconservative dream of building democracy in the Arab world. The United States would be content having saved the world from Saddam Hussein's quest for weapons of mass destruction.

What if Bush will just pull out, not having achieved a single thing in Iraq other than the removal of Hussein?

I remember how appalled I was when Bush the First sent a force into another country to grab Noriega (funny how bad things happen to old Bush allies). It seemed such a gross violation of international law, and I wasn't even all that political back then.

How much worse is this misadventure, assuming Novak is right? The exact same result: The seizure of a foreign dictator who was getting on our nerves. And that is all.

But, in Iraq, this result has cost over a thousand American lives, well over ten thousand Iraqi lives, and $136 billion dollars. And those numbers are all still growing. This is not to mention the poisoning of the entire region with depleted uranium, or the damage done to the US's international standing, or the thousands of physically and psychologically shattered people who have decades of misery to look forward to.

How can anyone think it was worth the cost to arrest one bad man with impossible dreams of WMDs?


Swaggart: Deranged, Homicidal Homophobe

In case anyone missed this the other day:
A Canadian television station has apologized publicly to viewers for a telecast of American evangelist Jimmy Swggart's television program in which he threatened to kill gays.

The program, aired last week on Omni 1, a Toronto multicultural station, and throughout the US, has also prompted an investigation by the Canadian Radio Television Commission, the government agency which regulates television.

During the program, a rambling sermon by Swaggart who is trying to rehabilitate himself after an arrest for soliciting a prostitute, the televangelist turned to the subject of gay marriage.

According to a transcript of the program, Swaggart said: "I'm trying to find the correct name for it ... this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men. ... I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died."

The remarks were met with applause from his congregation.

The program was taped at Swaggart's ministry in New Orleans where voters Saturday agreed to amend the Louisiana constitution to bar same-sex marriage.

The CRTC investigation was prompted by a complaint by a viewer in Ottawa. It is not known if any complaints had been made in the US where the show appears on stations in all 50 states. A spokesperson for the FCC which regulates television in the US did not return calls for comment Sunday.

Like the Good Book says, "When caught with a hooker, kill a queer for Jesus."


Booze and Guns

Did he time this to occur just after the US assault rifle ban expired, or is it coincidence?
The creator of one of the world's most famous guns, the AK-47 assault rifle, has launched another weapon in Britain -- Kalashnikov vodka.

Lt. Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov, who invented the AK-47 after being shot by German soldiers during World War II, said Monday he wanted to continue "the good name" of his gun.

"I've always wanted to improve and expand on the good name of my weapon by doing good things," he told Reuters Television.

"So we decided to create a vodka under my name. And we wanted that vodka to be better than anything made, up until now, in both Russia and England."


Pound This into W's Thick Skull

Please, somebody, make him and all the neocons comprehend this. A military strike will not help our present situation with Iran. So, don't do it!
US spy agencies have played out "war games" to consider possible pre-emptive strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, and concluded that strikes would not resolve Washington's standoff with Tehran, Newsweek magazine reported on Sunday.

"The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating," an unnamed air force source told the magazine in its latest issue.
Hawks within President George W Bush's administration have advocated for regime change in Tehran - through covert operations or force if needed, Newsweek said.


Reality Check

Every time you hear Bush (or any right winger) spouting nonsense about things getting better in Iraq, keep these facts in mind:
• Insurgents control three dozen cities and towns. While most are in the Sunni Triangle, where Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) had enjoyed his broadest support, they're spreading and becoming the base for increasingly sophisticated and frequent attacks on U.S. and coalition forces. Those now average 50 a day.

• The number of insurgents, recently put at 5,000 by the Pentagon (news - web sites), now may be 20,000, according to various estimates.

• Deaths of U.S. troops have been climbing since the U.S. turned authority over to an interim Iraqi government on June 28.


More Disenfranchisement

Because of hackers? Why do I find that hard to accept? Perhaps because expatriate Americans tend to lean left...
In a decision that could affect Americans abroad who are not yet registered to vote in the Nov. 2 presidential election, the Pentagon has begun restricting international access to the official Web site intended to help overseas absentee voters cast ballots.

According to overseas-voter advocates who have been monitoring the situation, Internet service providers in at least 25 countries - including Yahoo Broadband in Japan, Wanadoo in France, BT Yahoo Broadband in Britain and Telefónica in Spain - have been denied access to the site of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, apparently to protect it from hackers.

In an e-mail addressed to a person in France who had tried to access the Web site, the Federal Voting Assistance Program's Web manager, Susan Leader, wrote: “We are sorry you cannot access Unfortunately, Wanadoo France has had its access blocked to U.S. government Web sites due to Wanadoo users constantly attempting to hack these sites. We do not expect the block to be lifted."


The Victimized Right

Gary Younge has a brilliant essay on the politics of victimhood, long deemed the purview of the Left, but now embraced enthusiastically by the Right:
"The left had become little more than a meeting place for balkanised groups of discontents, all bent on extracting their quota of public shame and their slice of the entitlement pie," wrote columnist Norah Vincent three years ago. "All of them blaming their personal failures on their race, their sex, their sexual orientation, their disability, their socioeconomic status and a million other things."

Such arguments were always flawed. But increasingly they are beginning to look downright farcical. For if you are looking for someone making political hay out of victimhood nowadays, look no further than the right. The ones most ready, willing and able to turn the manipulation of pain into an art form have found their home among the world's most powerful.
Across the Atlantic, the right's new role as victims is even more prevalent and pronounced. Straight relationships are threatened by the prospect of gay marriage, white workers are threatened by affirmative action, American workers are threatened by third world labourers, America is threatened by everybody.
But nowhere is the abuse of victimhood more blatant than in the US presidential election, where September 11 remains the central plank of the Republicans' strategy for re-election. The fact that their campaign begins with the terror attacks is not only understandable but also, arguably, right - this is the most significant thing to happen in the US since Bush assumed office.

The trouble is that the campaign's message ends with that day also. September 11 has served not as a starting point from which to better understand the world but as an excuse not to understand it at all. It is a reference point that brooks no argument and needs no logic. No weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? "The next time, the smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud?" No United Nations authority? "We will never again wait for permission to defend our country." No link between Saddam and al-Qaida? "They only have to be right once. We have to be right every time."

This is the real link between Iraq and 9/11 - the rhetorical dissembling that renders victimhood not a point from which they might identify with and connect to the rest of humanity but a means to turn their back on humanity. They portray America's pain as a result of 9/11 not only as unique in its expression but also superior in its intensity.

When 3,000 people died on September 11, Le Monde declared: "We are all Americans now." Around 12,000 civilians have died in Iraq since the beginning of the war, yet one waits in vain for anyone to declare that we have all become Iraqis, or Afghans, let alone Palestinians. This is not a competition. Sadly, there are enough victims to go around. Sadder still, if the US continues on its present path, there will be many more. Demanding a monopoly on the right to feel and to inflict pain simply inverts victimhood's regular contradiction - the Bush administration displays material strength and moral weakness.


Edwards on the Attack

I'm glad to see that he is attacking Bush/Cheney on their supposed strengths:
Opening a weeklong Democratic offensive on Iraq and terror, Senator John Edwards promised Sunday that a Kerry White House would eliminate what he called a "backdoor draft'' of Reservists and National Guard members and would "crush'' Al Qaeda.

On a day when he alone among the presidential and vice-presidential candidates campaigned, Mr. Edwards, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, added fresh elements to his standard remarks on war and terror, two subjects that polls suggest rank at the top of voter concerns.


No Rights for Gay Couples in Texas

Sickening, any way you look at it:
A man fighting to keep the home he shared with his late partner is looking for a new place to live after a Harris County court ruled that same-sex partners have no rights.

William Ross says he and John Green, who died in January 2003, were partners for 71/2 years. Green, 55, left no will saying who should get his town house, another home under renovation in the Houston suburb of Katy and stock worth $88,000.

Ross claims Green made out a notarized deed about a month before he died, leaving him the Katy home.

But, Green's son, Scott Goldstein, claimed that when the deed was signed his father was too ill for it to be legal.


Coming Soon to a Protest Near You

I read about such weapons a year or two ago; now, they are about to be field-tested on Iraqis:
Microwave weapons that cause pain without lasting injury are to be issued to American troops in Iraq for the first time as concern mounts over the growing number of civilians killed in fighting.

The non-lethal weapons, which use high-powered electromagnetic beams, will be fitted to vehicles already in Iraq, which will allow the system to be introduced as early as next year.

Using technology similar to that found in a conventional microwave oven, the beam rapidly heats water molecules in the skin to cause intolerable pain and a burning sensation. The invisible beam penetrates the skin to a depth of less than a millimetre. As soon as the target moves out of the beam's path, the pain disappears.

Because there are no after-effects, the United States Department of Defence believes that the weapons will be particularly useful in urban conflict. The beam could be used to scatter large crowds in which insurgents operate at close quarters to both troops and civilians.

"The skin gets extremely hot, and people can't stand the pain, so they have to move - and move in the way we want them to," said Col Wade Hall of the Office of Force Transformation, a body formed in November 2001 to promote rapid improvement across all of the American armed services.


Pro-Wife Battering

The Republicans do it again. Is there ever a time when this party of "values" tries to implement its values in a way that doesn't hurt someone?
As Congress heads toward a final round of legislation before the election, one of the less talked-about issues they expect to take up will be the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF), more commonly known as welfare reform. One of the Republicans' top priorities within the TANF bill, supported strongly by the Bush Administration and Sens. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Jim Talent (R-MO), is a $1.6 billion effort to promote marriage among poor people as a solution to reducing poverty.

This approach is disturbing on many levels - Aren't there better things to do with $1.6 billion in these times of budget cuts and record deficits? Do we really want to be teaching girls to marry well and rely on a man for all their basic needs? But perhaps the most troubling aspect is the harm it will do to women who are victims of domestic violence and their children.
Battered women are not simply some small subset of the population who can be dealt with separately; they are the core of TANF recipients.


Medicare, Deformed

Yet another instance of Bush taking money from the poor and shovelling it into the pockets of the very, very rich:
"The bill is tragic," says Alan Sager, a Boston University professor who has closely studied the new law with his colleague, Deborah Socolar. "While this law will help some seniors get drugs they need, my colleague and I predict drug-makers will garner $139 billion dollars in increased profits over eight years, thanks to this new benefit, as inadequate as it is to patients and as expensive as it is to the federal government."

The Congressional Budget Office projected the law will cost taxpayers $400 billion over 10 years, but after it was enacted, the Bush administration revealed that the costs could reach $534 billion (that potentially illegal withholding of data is the subject of a federal investigation).

Sager and Socolar calculated in October of 2003 that 61 percent of Medicare dollars spent to buy more medicine will become profit for drug-makers.


Ivor Roberts Gets It Right

Definitely not the most politically correct statement of the day:
Britain's ambassador to Italy has called President Bush "the best recruiting sergeant" for al Qaeda, Italian media reported Monday.
Roberts was quoted as telling an annual Anglo-Italian gathering in Tuscany: "If anyone is ready to celebrate the eventual re-election of Bush, it's al Qaeda."


Sunday, September 19, 2004

Peaceful Transition in China

Zemin is out; Jintao is in. The most important question, in my opinion, is what line the new leader will take with regard to Taiwan. By the accounts I've seen, there is hope, as Jintao wants to better relations with other countries, so a hard-line One China approach is less likely:

Capping a rocky but peaceful transition of power, China's ruling Communist Party on Sunday eased former paramount leader Jiang Zemin out of his last formal post as head of the military and gave full control of the nation's armed forces to President Hu Jintao.

The move elevated the 61-year-old Hu to undisputed command of the state, the party and the armed forces, consolidating his power.


Losing the Senators

Bush's mishandling of the misguided war is becoming clear even to GOP Senators:
Reflecting rising concerns, one senior Republican senator said today that the United States was in "deep trouble" in Iraq, another denounced administration "incompetence" in Iraqi reconstruction, while two others said that unless American-led forces quickly retake several areas from insurgents, credible elections cannot be held in January.

The senators' comments, made on televised political programs, underscored mounting worries even within President Bush's party about the murderous attacks of recent weeks, and about the coalition's failure to bring some Iraqi cities under control.

Their solution, of course, is "when in a hole, dig faster":

The comments of Senators Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina came as the interim Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, was telling a television interviewer that "we are winning" the fight against what he said were increasingly desperate insurgents.

None of the senators spoke with that sort of optimism, though they predicted longer-term success if the administration remains resolute.


He's Still in His Fantasy World

Despite reports from people in a position to know, Bush still thinks all is well in Iraq:
In a phone interview with a newspaper, President Bush played down a U.S. intelligence forecast painting a pessimistic picture for the future of Iraq, including the suggestion that civil war could erupt there.

The National Intelligence Estimate was sent to the White House in July with a classified warning predicting that the best case for Iraq was "tenuous stability" and the worst case was civil war, a source confirmed to CNN. (Intelligence report: Iraq prospects bleak)

The 50-page report, completed in July, was commissioned internally within the intelligence community and contained classified and declassified portions.

President Bush talked about the report in an interview published Saturday by The Union Leader of Manchester, New Hampshire.

"The Iraqis are defying the dire predictions of a lot of people by moving toward democracy," Bush told the paper. "It's hard to get to democracy from tyranny. It's hard work. And yet, it's necessary work. But it's necessary work because a democratic Iraq will make the world a freer place and a more peaceful place.

"I'm pleased with the progress,"