Saturday, September 11, 2004

Nuclear North Korea

That nation appears to be rolling right along with its nuclear program. Way to handle the situation, Bush.
President Bush and his top advisers have received intelligence reports in recent days describing a confusing series of actions by North Korea that some experts believe could indicate the country is preparing to conduct its first test explosion of a nuclear weapon, according to senior officials with access to the intelligence.


Friday, September 10, 2004

Powell: Neocons Are F***ing Crazies

And yet, he sold out to them completely:
Did Secretary of State Colin Powell tell his British counterpart two years ago that the U.S. government's three top hawks were "f--g crazies"?

Respected Brit journalist James Naughtie reports that in private talks with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw before the war in Iraq, a deeply frustrated Powell used just those words to describe Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Powell's chief rivals in the Bush administration.

Yesterday, Powell - through a spokeswoman - predictably denied Naughtie's account, which appears in a new book, "The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency."

"This is nonsense," Powell said. "I never said anything like that to Jack, nor him to me. Anyone who says I did is wrong."

Likewise, after fevered consultations between the State Department and the Foreign Office Wednesday night and yesterday, a British official E-mailed me: "These allegations are without foundation. Secretary Powell has never used these words to the Foreign Secretary."

But Naughtie - a well-known BBC radio personality whose contacts in the British government are deep and wide - refused to back off.

"I did not use these words lightly," he told me yesterday. "I had information which convinced me utterly that they had been used. Whatever the statements issued from the two offices concerned, I stand by the quote."

Naughtie declined to discuss his sources, but he is known to enjoy a longstanding close relationship with Straw, who teamed with Powell in the United Nations in a foiled attempt to prevent military action in Iraq.

The politically embarrassing quote comes at an especially bad time for Powell, who has publicly tried to show loyalty to President Bush in the heat of the reelection campaign.


Going After the Saudis

Not the Bush administration, but the WTC agency, which is suing Saudi Arabia for the damages incurred by the 9/11 attacks:
The agency that owns the site of the World Trade Center in New York says it is suing Saudi Arabi for damages suffered on 11 September, 2001.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey lost 84 employees in the attacks against the Twin Towers.

The agency did not explain why it held the Saudis responsible, but said it wanted to "preserve its legal options".

A statute of limitation on 9/11 lawsuits expires on Saturday - the third anniversary of the attacks.

The Port Authority said it had "a responsibility to the millions of people who live and work in the region as well as to our bondholders to pursue every legal avenue to recover the losses we sustained".


Old White Man Assaults Young Demonstrator

First, there was that kid at the convention kicking a woman when she was down, now there's this guy, attacking a woman from behind at a Bush rally in Pennsylvania.

Their violence and cowardice is less and less well-hidden these days:


Friday Catblogging


Top Ten Censored Stories

Read them here.


Cuba Libre?

It's a long shot, but still, in the wake of Bush's tightening of restrictions, an interesting development:
A measure to alter the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba to permit legal travel there was reintroduced in Congress on Thursday and cleared a Senate panel, but final passage could again be elusive.
On Cuba, the House of Representatives and the Senate overwhelmingly approved proposals in recent years to lift the travel ban only to see Republican leaders strip them at the last minute from bills overshadowed by a veto threat.

Enforcement of the 40-year-old travel ban has been stepped up during the Bush administration. That action is viewed by some as a maneuver to further pressure the communist government of President Fidel Castro and bolster support for Bush among Cuban-Americans in Florida, a battleground state in the November election.


Leave It to the Aussies

The very first sentence of their story on the "perhaps forged" documents disclosed by CBS:
George Bush ignored a direct order from his superior in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1972 to have a medical examination that was necessary if he was to remain a qualified pilot.


Double Standard?

Okay. So, now there is this situation:
Mariyam Taburova and three of her roommates left the cramped, dismal apartment they shared here in Chechnya on Aug. 22. She has not been seen or heard from since. The others, however, have been.

Amanat Nagayeva and Satsita Dzhbirkhanova checked in two days later for two flights leaving Domodedovo Airport near Moscow and, according to Russian officials, detonated explosives that brought down both airliners, killing 90 people. A week after those bombings, a woman believed to be Ms. Nagayeva's younger sister, Roza, blew herself up outside a Moscow subway, killing at least 10 people.

And yet Chechnya apparently requires a "political" solution, according to us, if not to the country thus attacked, and attacked in the horrific school hostage situation:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov slammed the West for adopting double standards on terrorism in the wake of recent hostage-taking tragedy in the south of the country, Vremya Novostei daily reported Thursday.

Lavrov told the newspaper that the West had yet to shake off its adversarial mindset since the end of the Cold War, and their security services were not fully cooperating with Russia in the fight against terror.

Russia is angry that Britain and the United States have given asylum to spokesmen for Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov who Russia suspects of being behind the school siege with another rebel chief Shamil Basayev.

"I would use a neutral term: It's a double standard," Lavrov said.

And, on the other hand, Saddam Hussein required a military "solution"? And the "war on terror" is a war, and not an international police action? So confusing...


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Communication Breakdown

Very strange that I didn't hear a peep about this until today (don't most months begin on the 1st?), and then only saw it in Xinhua.
The US Homeland Security Department and dozens of national organizations launched a National Preparedness Month on Thursday, to engage Americans in emergency preparedness.

Speaking at a ceremony to launch the program on the Capitol Hill, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said the United States needed to be prepared for not only terrorist attacks, but also all emergencies.

Have our media grown tired of the jumping every time the administration says the word "terrorist"?


Health Care on the Wane

Double-digit increases in worker insurance premiums for four years in a row and this administration hasn't raised a finger to do anything about it.

We know they don't mind hurting the American worker, but how can they continue to claim to be the party of the small business owner with this going on? (Rhetorical question, of course; they lie without having to think about it.)
The cost of providing health care to employees has risen 11.2 percent this year, according to the results of an authoritative national survey reported yesterday.

It was the fourth consecutive year of double-digit increases in health insurance premiums, which has resulted in a steady decline in the number of the nation's workers and their families receiving employer health care coverage.


Sue These Bastards

Better yet if we could throw them in prison.

Even as America is setting up torture chambers in Iraq and running its secret prisons throughout the world, the open secret that our own prison system is designed to foster sexual torture remains unaddressed.

This is a small victory, anyway:
In a legal first, a federal appeals court has ruled that seven ranking Texas prison officials can be sued for damages due to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The unanimous ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals came in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of a gay man who was repeatedly raped by prison gangs and whose pleas for help were ignored by officials.

For 18 months, Roderick Keith Johnson was housed at the James A. Allred Unit in Iowa Park, Texas where prison gangs bought and sold him as a sexual slave, raping, abusing, and degrading him nearly every day, the ACLU said in legal papers.

Johnson filed numerous grievances, letters, and complaints with prison officials and appeared before the unit’s classification committee seven separate times asking to be transferred to safe-keeping, protective custody, or another prison, but each time they refused, telling him that he must "fight or fuck."


Shadow Prisons

They're hiding prisoners; they're hiding documents about the hidden prisoners. I can grudgingly grant that national security requires some level of secrecy, but a government this opaque (and abusive of the power concealment provides it) can hardly be called a democracy anymore:
The United States may have kept up to 100 "ghost detainees" in Iraq off the books and concealed from Red Cross observers, a far higher number than previously reported, an Army general told Congress on Thursday.

Estimates were rough because the CIA has withheld documents on concealed detainees, Army generals who investigated U.S. abuses of Iraqi prisoners told lawmakers. Republican and Democratic senators blasted the CIA, and called for it to turn over the material.

At a Senate committee hearing, Gen. Paul Kern, commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, said he believed the number of ghost detainees held in violation of Geneva Convention protections was "in the dozens to perhaps up to 100," far surpassing the eight people identified in an Army report.

Maj. Gen. George Fay, deputy commander at the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, said he expected it may be two dozen or more. "We were not able to get documentation from the Central Intelligence Agency to answer those types of questions. So we really don't know the volume," he said.


Exciting Labor Win

I didn't expect this to happen. I guess Bush has finally gone too far even for (some of) the House Republicans:
The U.S. House of Representatives defied President Bush on Thursday and voted to block his administration's controversial new overtime regulations for white-collar workers. The vote was 223-193.

In a rare election-year victory for organized labor in the Republican-led Congress, the House approved a Democratic amendment that would deny funds to administer the regulations that foes say would cost an estimated 6 million white- and blue-collar workers overtime pay.


Glass Houses

In yet another instance of the major media failing to do their job, very little mention has been made of the blatant hypocrisy of the GOP's attacks on Kerry alleging that he's dangerously fanatical about killing US weapons systems.

Cheney has been the mouthpiece for many of these attacks, and that makes it all the more egregious that these facts haven't been on front pages across America:
Cheney accuses Kerry of calling for "major reductions or outright cancellations of many of our most important weapons systems"; Bush ads attack the senator for voting "against 13 weapons systems for our troops" over 20 years. But it was Defense Secretary Cheney who gloated that he had "put an end to more than 100 systems" in less than three years. In December 1991, he bragged to the Washington Post that he was setting "an all-time record as Defense Secretary for canceling or stopping production" of weapons and equipment.

And Cheney has gotten specific. He regularly attacks Kerry's vote against the B-2 stealth bomber in October 1990. But seven months earlier, Cheney had put forth the proposal to cut the B-2 bomber program. Cheney cites Kerry's vote against the AH-64 Apache helicopter. But it was Cheney who told Congress in 1989, "I forced the Army to make choices.... I recommended that we cancel the AH-64 program two years out."
At one point, Cheney told the Post he had terminated "the F-14, F-15 and F-16 fighters, the A-6, A-12, AV-8B and P-3 Navy and Marine planes, and the Army's Apache helicopter and M-1A1 tank." Five of these weapons systems are listed by the Bush campaign in its attempts to chastise Kerry for his anti-defense votes. Cheney was so successful at cutting weapons that The Boston Globe worried "The Army's cupboard is left particularly bare... [it] will soon have virtually no major weapons in production."


Vigil for the Dead

Tonight, all across the country:
More than 1,000 U.S. soldiers have now been killed in Iraq. 1,000 of our brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, moms, dads, sons, and daughters have given their lives in service to our country.

To honor them and reflect on the loss of their lives, Americans everywhere are organizing candlelight vigils.

Please come to a vigil on Thursday evening, September 9th, at 8:00 P.M.

You can enter your ZIP code and learn where vigils are being held near you at this site.



Really, it cannot be much more plain than it is now that Bush was AWOL, that he had no compunction letting other, less well-connected people go to Vietnam to die in his place, and that he is party to or beneficiary of document tampering:
Lt Col Jerry Killian, who died in 1984, ordered Mr Bush to be suspended from flight status for those infractions. The memo goes on to note that Mr Bush was trying to transfer to non-flying status with a unit in Alabama, and recommends that the Texas unit fill his flying slot "with a more seasoned pilot from the list of qualified Vietnam pilots that have rotated".

A memo written by Killian a year later referred to one military official "pushing to sugar-coat" Mr Bush's annual evaluation.

In February, the White House said it had released all records of Mr Bush's service - but one of Killian's memos stated it was "for record" and another suggested it was to be included in Mr Bush's official record.

"I can't explain why that wouldn't be in his record, but they were found in Jerry Killian's personal records," the White House communications director, Dan Bartlett, told CBS.
The Democratic party chairman, Terry McAuliffe said: "George Bush's cover
story on his National Guard service is rapidly unravelling.
"[He] needs to answer why he regularly misled the American people about
his time in the guard, and who applied political pressure on his behalf to have his performance reviews 'sugar-coated'."
Asked about Killian's memo on the military's investment in Mr Bush, Mr
Bartlett told CBS: "For anybody to try to interpret or presume they know what somebody who is now dead was thinking in any of these memos, I think is very difficult to do."

Is that the best they can do? Basically, Bartlett's answer is, "Reading is hard." But, given our president's disdain for literacy, I suppose that is the stance one would expect.


Automatic Weapon Ban Will Expire

In a time of increased poverty and energy costs that have gone through the roof, what could we need more than easier access to extremely dangerous weapons?
Despite widespread popular support, the federal law banning the sale of 19 kinds of semiautomatic assault weapons is almost certain to expire on Monday, the result of intense lobbying by the National Rifle Association and the complicated election-year politics of Washington.

While President Bush has expressed support for legislation extending the ban and has said he would sign it into law, he has not pressured lawmakers to act, leading critics to accuse him of trying to have it both ways.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Pro-Choice Victory

Now, if only they'd ban the use of the misleading and meaningless term "partial-birth abortion":
A federal court on Wednesday ruled that an abortion law signed by President Bush last year was unconstitutional and banned the U.S. Justice Department from enforcing it, joining two other states that struck down the law.

In a 476-page opinion and judgment, U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf said the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, was "unreasonable and not supported by substantial evidence." He agreed with critics who claim the types of abortion banned in the law are sometimes necessary to protect a woman's health.


Bush: Whipped

As if Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" wasn't enough, Republicans can now get steamed up by a four-minute video of a ruthless dominatrix whipping US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) in the Oval Office.

For its 10th anniversary, upmarket London corset and lingerie boutique Agent Provocateur [definitely not work safe--r] has put a clip on its website showing Bush, or rather an actor who looks like him, excitedly awaiting an after-lunch visit from his dom.

In she struts on killer black stilettos, tying up the leader of the free world by the wrists, then twisting his nipple with a plumber's wrench before performing a striptease and whipping him on his boyish white briefs.

The kinky seance reaches its climax when another man crawls into the room like a dog, dressed head to toe in black latex. Off comes his hood, and it's a goofy-grinning look-alike of British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites).


Finally Making Sense

The Log Cabin Republicans, finally, act in their own best interests:
Gay Democrats are praising their Republican counterparts for refusing to endorse President Bush's reelection.

"It was probably a very difficult decision for them to make as Republicans but was a natural decision under the circumstances," National Stonewall Democrats spokesperson John Marble told

Wednesday morning Log Cabin Republicans announced they would not support Bush's bid for a second term. (story)

“Some will accuse us of being disloyal," said LCR Executive Director Patrick Guerriero. "However, it was actually the White House who was disloyal to the 1,000,000 gay and lesbian Americans who supported him four years ago."

Log Cabin Repuiblicans, the GOP's LGBT group, accused the White House of making a strategic political decision to pursue a re-election strategy catered to the radical right.

"The President's use of the bully pulpit, stump speeches and radio addresses to support a Constitutional amendment has encouraged the passage of discriminatory laws and state constitutional amendments acrossAmerica . Using gays and lesbians as wedge issues in an election year is unacceptable to Log Cabin,” said Guerriero.


Pulling Out

Not the United States, of course, but the far more sensible international aid agencies. While one can hardly blame them, their departure will just make the situation in Iraq that much worse:

Dozens of international aid agencies considered quitting Iraq Wednesday following the abduction of two Italian women, and as the U.S. military death toll rose above 1,000.

A coordinator for foreign aid groups said he expected most of the remaining 50 or so organizations to pull out following the kidnapping of the Italians, in Iraq to help child victims of war, from their Baghdad office Tuesday.

Aid groups met to discuss the issue Wednesday but broke off the meeting early for security reasons. Jean-Dominique Bunel, a French aid worker, said all organizations were reviewing their security and considering withdrawing.



As you know, the Russian disaster makes me sick to think about. Now, I have an added dose of nausea, as it continues to play out according to its own vile script:
Russia's top general threatened Wednesday to attack "terrorist bases" anywhere in the world, as security services put a $10 million bounty on two Chechen rebels they blame for last week's school siege.
"As for launching pre-emptive strikes on terrorist bases, we will carry out all measures to liquidate terrorist bases in any region of the world," said General Yuri Baluevsky, chief of Russia's general staff.

"However, this does not mean that we will launch nuclear strikes," he added, according to Russian news agencies.

Well, that's reassuring.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Who Was in Charge?

The latest tack taken by Cheney is appalling. Electing Kerry will invite a terrorist attack? Who was in charge on 9/11 again?
A November win by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry would put the United States at risk of another "devastating" terrorist attack, Vice President Dick Cheney told supporters Tuesday.


Deficit: Worse Than Predicted

Once again, if you're surprised, then you haven't been paying attention:
The US is set to rack up an even bigger budget deficit than originally thought over the next decade, officials say.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said the deficit would grow to a cumulative $2.3 trillion (£1.2 trillion) between 2005 and 2014.

The CBO had previously forecast a cumulative budget gap of $2.1 trillion over the decade.

The agency added that the deficit for the year to 30 September 2004 would set a new record of $422bn.


OBGYNs Practicing the Love

Perhaps the best Bushism ever, via Avedon Carol.


Bloody Milestone

1,000 United States military deaths as of today.


Good News from Washington

Guess what? Banning gay marriage is unconstitutional:
A second judge has ruled that Washington state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

A Thurston County judge ruled Tuesday that the state's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act violates the civil liberties of gays and lesbians under the Washington constitution.



Ngugi wa Thiong'o is among the greatest African novelists; if you haven't read him, you should. Devil on the Cross is a scathing, surreal indictment of the damage capitalism has inflicted on his continent and is my favorite of his many fictional works.

His nonfiction work Decolonising the Mind is equally fascinating. In it, he tells of how he wrote an entire novel on toilet paper while imprisoned as a radical in Kenya. And he tells of how he came up with an orthography so that he could abandon the English language, the language of the colonizers, and write novels in Gikuyu. And he tells of how the staging of a play of his led to a Marxist education for an entire village.

I bring all this up, unfortunately, because Ngugi and his wife continue to pay the price for his truth-telling:
When one of the giants of African literature, Ngugi wa Thiongo, returned here to his homeland after 20 years in exile, he kissed the soil, breathed deep the air, listened to the sounds he had missed so dearly.

But the theme of his lecture tour, ''Reviving the Spirit," was destroyed when thugs armed with guns and a machete burst into the Nairobi apartment where he and his wife, Mary Njeeri, were staying, robbed, beat, and tortured him and raped her.

When he tried to protect her, he said, they burned his face with cigarettes.

The aim of last week's attack, Ngugi said, was the deepest humiliation, the kind that would scar for life. Ngugi, a distinguished professor in the school of humanities at the University of California, Irvine, and director of its International Center for Writing and Translation, is known for many works, including a collection of essays titled ''Homecoming."

The attack stunned the country.

''From being the most optimistic nation in the world, we have grown into a country which assaults its returning hero and rapes his wife," Gladwell Otieno, director of the Kenya office of the anti-corruption watchdog group Transparency International, said yesterday.

The couple's decision to speak openly about the rape and to press on with Ngugi's monthlong lecture tour has rekindled the hope for which he was searching.

''The scars will always be there, of course. But because of the `Reviving the Spirit' theme, we cannot let these kinds of things down us.

''We have to keep rising up, rising up, rising up," Ngugi said yesterday in an interview. In the days after the attack, the couple had requested privacy and time to heal.

''I think what helped me, you see, was people coming up to me in the street and saying, 'We are sorry,' and some actually crying. And letters from women from all over the country saying, 'We are with you.' That's healing, quite frankly."


Monday, September 06, 2004

I Knew the Numbers

I knew the numbers. I knew how many had died, this time. When I saw the report about the hostage situation in Russia on BBC World News late last week, my first reaction was to channel-surf away, though when I'm home in time to watch the show, I customarily do so, all the way through.

I surfed away to some inane, innocuous program like Crocodile Hunter, but my partner protested; she'd not read about the story as thoroughly as I had. So we went back, and saw images. Not words, not numbers, but images of these kids running from the school half-naked (I still have not heard any reasons behind the kids not being clothed), and images of mothers waiting and hoping outside the school. The school where hundreds of adults and children were killed.

And I had to leave the room and head outside for a smoke when I heard the reporter announce that Putin was keeping in place his "hard-line" approach to terrorists.

We will hunt them down and kill them in their caves.

Where have we heard that before?

It was not just the images of despairing relatives and terrified children that made me flee; that, sadly, I can handle more and more lately.

Rather, it was the assertion that Putin would be working on the same basis that Bush has been working on. The same basis that kills at least a couple of American soldiers daily, and often dozens of Iraqi civilians who are just trying to live their lives.

The realization that both the US and Russia are in the hands of such men, whose only answer is to kill more, moved me to tears and sent me away from the news to kill a few more lung cells.

Anyway. Emotion aside, for the moment, the Russia atrocity does in fact seem to be al-Qaeda related:
ALL the evidence now indicates that the attack on the school in southern Russia was months in the planning and executed by ruthless and professional terrorists who had funding from Al-Qaeda.

Like Al-Qaeda's militants who carried out the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, a number of cells apparently spent extended periods organising the spectacular Beslan attack.

The school seige, as well as the simultaneous attacks that brought down two Russian planes a week before, bear the hallmarks that have come to define global Islamic terror, which were highlighted in the official Sept 11 report: Extensive preparations, perfect coordination, the use of suicide bombers, heavy surveillance and possible rehearsals.

And this simply raises the question, again: What do the neocons mean when they say that we are winning against al-Qaeda? Could someone please define "al-Qaeda" in concrete terms for me?

It is a network of fanatics. It has "higher-ups" in charge of such things. But it is a loosely gathered set of cells with a generally similar point of view that tends to involve violence against the West.

And it seems to me that the more the West supposedly strikes at al Qaeda by attacking the wrong targets, such as Iraq, the more we serve to transform al Qaeda from a recognizable organization into a general ideological movement. And when the entirety, or the majority, or even a sizeable portion of the Muslim world can identify with the label "al-Qaeda," we've lost.

For decades, at least, and likely for generations.


Moore Is Going for the Gold

Uncharacteristic for such a shy and retiring fellow, I know:
Michael Moore says he won't submit Fahrenheit 9/11 for consideration as best documentary at this year's Academy Awards. Instead, he's going for the bigger prize of best picture.

Filmmaker Michael Moore said he and his producing partner Harvey Weinstein agreed that Fahrenheit 9/11 would stand a better chance if they focused solely on the top Oscar.

His critically acclaimed film slams President George W. Bush's war on terror as lacklustre, ill-advised and corrupt. The movie has cheered Democrats but enraged the President's supporters, who booed him when he visited the Republican National Convention last week.

'For me the real Oscar would be Mr Bush's defeat on Nov 2,' he told The Associated Press on Monday during a phone interview from New York.


Expanded Axis

We cannot permit a second term of these warmongers; they're still wed to their insane neoconservative dreams:
Some democrats on the Hill claim that they are worried a second Bush Administration may prove more militarily aggressive than the first. One reason: a Democratic official tells TIME that a leading Pentagon hawk recently hinted that the doctrine of pre-emptive war could soon apply to potential new targets. During a private Aug. 19 conference call with Capitol Hill aides from both parties, sources say, senior Pentagon policy official William Luti said there are at least five or six foreign countries with traits that "no responsible leader can allow." An outspoken proponent of the Iraq war, Luti had declared at an October 2002 conference that the U.S. has "the right to ... hold accountable nations that harbor terrorists." In his recent call, Luti did not name the nations he had in mind but said they are led by dictators with weapons-of-mass-destruction programs and close ties to terrorists. His remarks suggest that the Administration is looking well beyond the current "axis of evil," which includes Iran, Iraq and North Korea; this might put countries like Syria in the spotlight.


Coke at Camp David

The White House says the new book is full of "discredited" garbage, but I don't recall it being discredited, only ignored:
GEORGE W Bush snorted cocaine at Camp David, a new book claims.

His wife Laura also allegedly tried cannabis in her youth.

Author Kitty Kelley says in her biography The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, that the US President first used coke at university in the mid-1960s.

She quotes his former sister-in-law Sharon Bush who claims: "Bush did coke at Camp David when his father was President, and not just once either."

Other acquaintances allege that as a 26-year-old National Guard, Bush "liked to sneak out back for a joint or into the bathroom for a line of cocaine".

Bush has admitted being an alcoholic but, asked during the 1999 election if he did drugs, he said: "I've told the American people that years ago I made some mistakes.

"I've learned from my mistakes and should I be fortunate enough to become president I will bring dignity and honour to the office."


Working More, Getting Less

Perhaps a good campaign question would be, "Aren't you tired of this?" Or, more to the point, "Aren't you tired?" We're working more and getting less:
From 2000 through 2003 the median household income fell by $1,500 (in 2003 dollars) - a significant 3.4 percent decrease. That information becomes startling when you consider that during the same period there was a strong 12
percent increase in productivity among U.S. workers. Economists will tell you that productivity increases go hand-in-hand with increases in the standard of living. But not this time. Here we have a 3.4 percent loss in real income juxtaposed with a big jump in productivity.

"So the economic pie is growing gangbusters and the typical household is falling behind," said Jared Bernstein, the institute's senior economist and a co-author of the new book.

This is the part of the story that spotlights the unfairness at the heart of the current economic setup in the U.S. While workers have been remarkably productive in recent years, they have not participated in the benefits of their own increased productivity. That doesn't sound very much like the American way.


Anti-Abortion Forces Continue to Kill Women

Absolutely inexcusable, and the US continues to withhold money from the UN based on its demand for "abstinence education" over the provision of safe abortions:
Nearly 70,000 women, almost half of them in Asia, die from unsafe abortions each year despite government pledges made a decade ago to improve human rights and reproductive health, researchers said Wednesday.

A report presented at a three-day meeting to gauge progress made since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo showed only small gains have been made to prevent maternal deaths from abortions.


He Must Be Joking, But It Isn't Funny

President Bush, under election-year pressure on the economy, said on
Sunday that Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's plan to raise taxes on
the wealthy would hinder the creation of jobs.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

"By Far the Highest"

How can they live with themselves, claiming that things are getting better in Iraq?
About 1,100 US soldiers and Marines were wounded in Iraq during August, by far the highest combat injury toll for any month since the Iraq war began in March 2003, the Washington Post reported Sunday.


Two Americas

And corporate America is choosing (surprise!), the Republicans. Seriously, though, this shift, if real, is interesting in that it reveals a rejection of the Democrats as "Republican lite" when it comes to business:
Despite common perceptions, business -- especially big business -- has never been monolithically Republican. Executives have been far too pragmatic for that. They have long used campaign giving to buy their way into the offices of both Republicans and Democrats.

Until now.

More than any time I can remember, business interests have decided to choose sides in this presidential election year. And the result will likely be a boon to President Bush and his fellow Republicans.

The shift hasn't been absolute, of course -- nothing in politics is. But everywhere you look, there are signs that corporate America is growing less and less evenhanded, and more and more Republican.


Debating Debates

Bush may not agree to even one debate. Pathetic.
Campaign officials for US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) were non-committal as to when -- or whether -- he would take part in debates against Democratic challenger John Kerry (news - web sites).

Ken Mehlman, campaign manager for Bush's re-election effort, said the president's campaign would announce its intentions in due time.

"We look forward to the debates. We look forward to having a debate about debates. We will, in an appropriate time, which is shortly, talk about our intended participation," he told ABC television's "This Week" program.

And Mehlman's double-talking is similarly pathetic.