MAY LOVE PREVAIL ON EARTH
September 28, 2004
Miscellaneous Subjects #207: The Bush Wars Against Most Everything
Here is what got my attention in the last few days - and hours...
Feel free to share widely ;-)
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"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."
Worthy of Your Attention
To keep track of all the hurricanes
Hand of God
Strange connection between how people voted in Florida in 2000 and the recent hurricanes paths as shown in this map...
Dry/Ice: Global Warming Revealed by Drunvalo Melchizedek (SEVERAL PEOPLE SENT ME THIS)
What you are about to read is going to change your world forever, of this I can promise you. I actually apologize that I have to be the one that brings this unsettling news, but you must know if you wish to survive, for what is coming will either be DRY and heat or ICE and freezing.Global warming has been in the news for over 40 years, and by this time we have become complacent. Our scientists have come to the agreement that global warming will eventually cause major changes and problems in the world, but in their way of thinking it will be 50 to 100 years before we will actually have to deal with the effects.The general notion is that global warming will be slow and the world will find time to discover the solutions to the problems. New powerful evidence strongly suggests that this scenario is simply wrong, and we had better prepare for another more abrupt possibility. (...) In the Pentagon report they said that they believed that the stoppage of the Gulf Stream would probably happen in three to five years from October 2003. This was their best guess, and admittedly it was only a guess and a theory. But what they didnt know, because it was beginning at the actual time of their release of their report, was that the Gulf Stream was beginning to change shape. The change of shape of the Gulf Stream is the beginning of the breakdown and stoppage of this warm water current and the end of our civilization as we know it.I have this information from two sources, both of which do not wish to be named right now, but both of them are world famous scientists. If this is true, then all the effects and timing of the Pentagon report have to be shifted closer to the present by three to five years. I dont know if this is true, but in the vein of holding nothing back, this info is placed in this article. The actual proof will follow if it will be given to me. CLIP
Vote Swapping -- A Democratic And Progressive Win-Win-Win Solution by Mark R. Elsis
(...) Vote swapping for the democratic and progressive communities is really quite simple. For the 2004 Presidential election, John Kerry and Ralph Nader would trade votes in certain key swing states for the "benefit" of both, and the common goal of defeating George Bush. The first vote swapping twist is that the benefit for Ralph Nader is to receive at least 5% of the national popular vote, thus forming a legitimate third party and securing federal matching funds. Is that fair Mr. Nader? Great. The benefit that John Kerry would receive, would be the Presidency of the United States of America. Is that fair Mr. Kerry? Great. CLIP
Wouldn't it be interesting if the whole world could weigh in on the upcoming US election? Check out this informal poll:
Current tally (Sept 28): 24,406 voted for Bush (13 %) and 160,560 voted for Kerry (86 %)
Baghdad Year Zero - Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia By Naomi Klein (Sept 24)
(...) The great historical irony of the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq is that the shock-therapy reforms that were supposed to create an economic boom that would rebuild the country have instead fueled a resistance that ultimately made reconstruction impossible. Bremer's reforms unleashed forces that the neocons neither predicted nor could hope to control, from armed insurrections inside factories to tens of thousands of unemployed young men arming themselves. These forces have transformed Year Zero in Iraq into the mirror opposite of what the neocons envisioned: not a corporate utopia but a ghoulish dystopia, where going to a simple business meeting can get you lynched, burned alive, or beheaded. These dangers are so great that in Iraq global capitalism has retreated, at least for now. For the neocons, this must be a shocking development: their ideological belief in greed turns out to be stronger than greed itself. CLIP - Very long article/analysis but MOST excellent!
'TORTUGA' STILL THERE
"Although there were fears of many more dead on La Tortue island, Deslorges said: "The government has been in contact with officials on La Tortue. Nothing happened there."
1. Mr. Bush and His 10 Ever-Changing Different Positions on Iraq: "A flip and a flop and now just a flop."
3. Israel Army frees the 5 Conscientious from Army service
5. The face of Fascism
6. Under pressure, Pentagon opens up voter site
7. The Triumph of Anything Goes
8. A watchdog for US elections
9. US policies causing global crises
10. LOOKING AHEAD
Opponents Say Republicans Plan Sequel to Patriot Act (Sept 23) http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/092404B.shtml
Washington - House Democratic leaders and civil liberties advocates said Wednesday that a Republican bill responding to the findings of the Sept. 11 commission would go well beyond the panel's recommendations. It would call for broad new powers for law enforcement agencies, they said, and include new authority to conduct electronic surveillance in terrorism investigations. (...) The American Civil Liberties Union said it had seen drafts of chapters of the bill, which is expected to be introduced as early as Thursday, and described it as "Patriot Act 2," a reference to the landmark antiterrorism bill passed after the Sept. 11 attacks to give sweeping new powers to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. "Nowhere in its recommendations does the 9/11 commission ask Congress to pass a sequel to the Patriot Act," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the Washington office of the A.C.L.U. Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said the House Republican proposal "scarcely resembles" what the Sept. 11 commission recommended. "It's as if the commission's recommendations have been supersized with irrelevant fat and lard, representing a wish list of past reactionary proposals that would diminish our civil liberties," Mr. Conyers said. CLIP
Still Seeking a Fair Florida Vote By Jimmy Carter (27 September 2004)
After the debacle in Florida four years ago, former president Gerald Ford and I were asked to lead a blue-ribbon commission to recommend changes in the American electoral process. After months of concerted effort by a dedicated and bipartisan group of experts, we presented unanimous recommendations to the president and Congress. The government responded with the Help America Vote Act of October 2002. Unfortunately, however, many of the act's key provisions have not been implemented because of inadequate funding or political disputes. The disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely, even as many other nations are conducting elections that are internationally certified to be transparent, honest and fair. The Carter Center has monitored more than 50 elections, all of them held under contentious, troubled or dangerous conditions.
The Hollow World of George Bush (23 September 2004)
The power of positive thinking is the president's shield from reality. The news is grim, but the president is "optimistic". The intelligence is sobering, but he tosses aside "pessimistic predictions". His opponent says he has "no credibility", but the president replies that it is his rival who is "twisting in the wind". The UN secretary general speaks of the "rule of law", but he talks before a mute general assembly of "a new definition of security". Between the rhetoric and the reality lies the campaign. In Iraq, US commanders have plans for this week and the next, but there is "no overarching strategy", I was told by a reliable source who has just returned after assessing the facts on the ground for US intelligence services. The New York Times reports that an offensive is in the works to capture the insurgent stronghold of Falluja - after the election. In the meantime, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists linked to al-Qaida operate from there at will, as they have for more than a year. The president speaks of new Iraqi security forces, but not even half the US personnel have been assigned to the headquarters of the Multinational Security Transition Command. George Bush's vision of the liberation of Iraq has melted before harsh facts. But reality cannot be allowed to obscure the image. The liberation is "succeeding", he insists, and only pessimists cannot see it. CLIP
Violence Belies Positive Picture (24 September 2004)
Baghdad - Large swaths of Iraq remain outside the control of the interim government, major highways are fraught with attackers, and interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi - along with the U.S. Embassy and much of the international community - must conduct business in fortified compounds guarded by tanks, blast walls and barbed wire.
Staying the Course Isnt an Option (26 September 2004)
Iraq is probably already lost, says former military-policy planner Mike Turner. Four years from now, America will have 5,000 dead servicemen and women and an untold number of dead Iraqis at a cost of about $1 trillion, yet still be no closer to success than we are right now...
The War's Toll on Iraqi Civilians (Sept 21)
When the 1,000th U.S. soldier was killed in Iraq earlier this month, more than a few commentators in the international online media took note of another death toll: Iraqi civilians. "While so much is made of the 1,000 US military fatalities," said a columnist for Gulf News in the United Arab Emirates, "an eerie silence surrounds the tally of Iraqi casualties since the invasion." (...) Human Rights Watch cited two other attempts to quantify the dead. The Los Angeles Times did a survey of 27 hospitals in the Baghdad area after the U.S. invasion and found that at least 1,700 civilians died. In June 2003, the Associated Press canvassed 60 of Iraq's 124 hospitals and calculated that at least 3,420 civilians died in the first months of the war. AP described the count as "fragmentary" and said, "the complete toll - if it is ever tallied - is sure to be significantly higher." Since then, other figures have been floated. Commentators for the Jordan Times and the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon, have cited an estimate of 30,000 deaths. That is the figure disseminated by the Iraqi Human Rights Organization, an independent group in Baghdad. A more conservative figure comes from iraqbodycount.net, a British Web site that compiles media reports on Iraqi civilian deaths. Based on such reporting, the site says there have been a minimum of 12,778 civilian deaths in Iraq and a maximum of 14,820. CLIP
How Bush's Grandfather Helped Hitler's Rise to Power (25 September 2004)
Rumours of a link between the U.S. first family and the Nazi war machine have circulated for decades. Now the Guardian can reveal how repercussions of events that culminated in action under the Trading with the Enemy Act are still being felt by today's president 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. His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy. 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. (...) Lissmann said: "If we have a positive ruling from the court it will cause [president] Bush huge problems and make him personally liable to pay compensation." (...) "You can't blame Bush for what his grandfather did any more than you can blame Jack Kennedy for what his father did - bought Nazi stocks - but what is important is the cover-up, how it could have gone on so successfully for half a century, and does that have implications for us today?" he said. "This was the mechanism by which Hitler was funded to come to power, this was the mechanism by which the Third Reich's defence industry was re-armed, this was the mechanism by which Nazi profits were repatriated back to the American owners, this was the mechanism by which investigations into the financial laundering of the Third Reich were blunted," said Loftus, who is vice-chairman of the Holocaust Museum in St Petersburg. (...) More than 60 years after Prescott Bush came briefly under scrutiny at the time of a faraway war, his grandson is facing a different kind of scrutiny but one underpinned by the same perception that, for some people, war can be a profitable business.
EPA's Chief Under Nixon Rips Bush on Environment (23 September 2004)
Russell Train is so disappointed in President Bush's environmental record that the staunch Republican, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's second leader 30 years ago, is casting his vote in November for Democrat John Kerry. Train, 84, EPA administrator under Presidents Nixon and Ford from 1973 to 77, was in Madison Tuesday in support of Environment2004, an organization trying to end what it calls the anti-environmental agenda of the Bush administration. A Washington insider for more than half a century, Train said the Bush administration's performance is a radical rollback of environmental rules to benefit special interests. The administration's reversal of a finding that mercury is a hazardous pollutant is one of 400 rollbacks of environmental protections cited by Enviroment2004, and Train said the reversal is the reason he's switched parties this presidential election. "Almost anybody's policy would be better than George Bush," Train said in an interview with The Capital Times Wednesday. "Kerry's environmental record in Congress is extremely good." CLIP
Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold (Sept 1)
Over 30 years ago they put away their medals and their uniforms. They buried their anger and bitterness and moved on with their lives -- and they waited. Revisionists are trying to change history, claiming the returning Vietnam veterans didn't suffer all that much when they returned home. All that talk of being labeled animals has been exaggerated over the years. But the veterans know better. They were there. On the radio last week, one man related that he had unpacked the uniform that he wore home from Vietnam all those years ago. It had not seen the light of day for over 30 years. He showed it to his children and grandchildren and, for the first time, spoke of the day that he returned home from war and was spat on, cursed at, and literally had to run a gauntlet of protesters who threw human waste and rotten fruit on him and his fellow vets. With the words "baby killers" ringing in his ears he was warned by laughing policemen not to retaliate or he would be arrested. (...) The past was staring back at these wrongly disgraced vets from their television sets. The face it bore was that of John Kerry, the man who had shredded their honor without a thought and climbed over the bodies of their fallen friends to launch a political career. Kerry had stripped them of their dignity the day he sat before Congress in his fatigues and portrayed them as "baby killers" and "murderers." Kerry did the unspeakable. He had publicly turned on his fellow vets while they were still in harm's way and American prisoners were still in the hands of the enemy. Kerry accused them all of being out-of-control animals, killing, raping, and pillaging Vietnam at will. The anti-war movement--the protesters--had their hero and he was a Vietnam War veteran, an officer, a medal winner, a wounded warrior: John Forbes Kerry. (...) These angry vets are demanding that this man who sentenced them to being shunned as criminals, tell the world that he was wrong and that he is sorry for what he did to them. Kerry must admit that he lied about them. For many, it would still not be enough. Satisfaction and hopefully peace will come when Vietnam vets see and hear John F. Kerry give his concession speech the night of November 2, 2004 with the knowledge that it was their votes that helped defeat him. There are approximately 2.5 million Vietnam veterans in America and they have not forgotten. Kerry denied them their rightful place as heroes and they will deny him his dream of the presidency. Angry Vietnam veterans, silent for so long, will finally have their say. Payment in full will be delivered to John Kerry on November 2, 2004. Revenge is indeed a dish best served cold.
Report: 10,000 People in U.S. Work in Forced Labor (25 September 2004)
SAN FRANCISCO - At any given time, some 10,000 people in the United States are forced to work against their will under threat of violence, a new report found. The report, "Hidden Slaves: Forced Labor in the United States," released Thursday by the Human Rights Center at University of California, Berkeley, and a Washington, DC-based nonprofit group called Free the Slaves, was based on interviews with social service providers, government officials, and labor advocates, as well as newspapers stories published between 1998-2003 that described incidents of forced labor. (...) Researchers found that almost half of forced laborers work in prostitution or the sex industry, close to one-third are domestic workers, and one in 10 works in agriculture. And while examples of forced labor have been found in at least 90 cities in the United States, most are concentrated in states with large immigrant populations like California, Florida, New York and Texas.
China facing environment 'crisis' (Sept 23)
BBC, Beijing - China's rapidly growing cities are among the world's most pollutedA senior Chinese official has told the BBC the country's environmental problems have reached crisis levels. Pan Yue, deputy head of the State Environmental Protection Administration, said the problems now threatened economic performance. He said China's industrial development was unsustainable, because its resources could not cope. Environmental problems like pollution, acid rain and contaminated rivers have only now become a key policy issue. Mr Pan said that China could no longer afford to follow the West's resources-hungry model of development and it should encourage its citizens to avoid adopting the developed world's consumer habits. We need new laws and regulations otherwise we're just talking slogans Pan Yue He said previous attempts to create a cleaner environment had not been carried out properly and there would now be a raft of new laws and regulations aimed at promoting sustainable development. CLIP
Panel Recommends Blueprint for Helping Oceans (Sept 21)
Washington - A new report that says pollution, over-fishing and government mismanagement have left the oceans in peril is now in the hands of the White House and Congress, which must decide whether to enact sweeping reforms to encourage the waters' regeneration. The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, created four years ago by Congress and appointed by President Bush, submitted its final report to the executive and legislative branches on Monday. A preliminary report was made public in April. The report, the first blueprint for U.S. ocean policy in 35 years, contains 212 recommendations on how to prevent ocean ecosystems from collapsing. "The oceans are saying, 'We've had it, human beings. Give us a break,'" said James Watkins, a retired admiral who served as chairman of the 16-member commission. "And that's what we are trying to do." By law, President Bush has 90 days to respond to the report and make policy recommendations to Congress. CLIP
On the Environment, the US Is the Rogue Nation (September 26, 2004)
If you want to know just how far the United States has drifted from the global conversation on key environmental issues, consider a speech that was given this month - and one that wasn't.
Robert Redford Criticizes Bush Environmental Record
(...) Redford, a conservationist for some 30 years who helped shape the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, accused Bush and his advisers of eroding the laws through policies that allow the oil and gas industries and coal-fired power companies to delay compliance at the expense of public health and the environment. CLIP
Lullabies from the Axis of Evil
Recommended by Patty-Lynne Herlevi email@example.com> who wrote: "I want to mention an interview that appears on Cranky Crow World Music with a courageous Norwegian music producer. He produced a CD compilation called Lullabies from the Axis of Evil which will be released in the US and I believe Canada on October 26th. His name is Erik Hillestad and after he heard President Bush's 2002 State of the Union address and the president declare the "axis of evil" countries, Hillestad went to those troubled spots and recorded women singing lullabies. Then he combined those lullabies with contemporary women vocalists also singing lullabies."
Omega-News Collection 27. September 2004
GLOBAL NETNEWS (Sept 26 2004)
September 22, 2004
Mr. Bush and His 10 Ever-Changing Different Positions on Iraq: "A flip and a flop and now just a flop."
Dear Mr. Bush,
Which of these 10 positions that you, your family and your cabinet have taken over the years represents your CURRENT thinking:
1983-88: WE LOVE SADDAM. On December 19, 1983, Donald Rumsfeld was sent by your dad and Mr. Reagan to go and have a friendly meeting with Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq. Rummy looked so happy in the picture. Just twelve days after this visit, Saddam gassed thousands of Iranian troops. Your dad and Rummy seemed pretty happy with the results because The Donald R. went back to have anotherchummy hang-out with Saddams right-hand man, Tariq Aziz, just four months later. All of this resulted in the U.S. providing credits and loans to Iraq that enabled Saddam to buy billions of dollars worth of weapons and chemical agents. The Washington Post reported that your dad and Reagan let it be known to their Arab allies that the Reagan/Bush administration wanted Iraq to win its war with Iran and anyone who helped Saddam accomplish this was a friend of ours.
1990: WE HATE SADDAM. In 1990, when Saddam invaded Kuwait, your dad and his defense secretary, Dick Cheney, decided they didn't like Saddam anymore so they attacked Iraq and returned Kuwait to its rightful dictators.
1991: WE WANT SADDAM TO LIVE. After the war, your dad and Cheney and Colin Powell told the Shiites to rise up against Saddam and we would support them. So they rose up. But then we changed our minds. When the Shiites rose up against Saddam, the Bush inner circle changed its mind and decided NOT to help the Shiites. Thus, they were massacred by Saddam.
1998: WE WANT SADDAM TO DIE. In 1998, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and others, as part of the Project for the New American Century, wrote an open letter to President Clinton insisting he invade and topple Saddam Hussein.
2000: WE DON'T BELIEVE IN WAR AND NATION BUILDING. Just three years later, during your debate with Al Gore in the 2000 election, when asked by the moderator Jim Lehrer where you stood when it came to using force for regime change, you turned out to be a downright pacifist:
2001 (early): WE DON'T BELIEVE SADDAM IS A THREAT. When you took office in 2001, you sent your Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and your National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, in front of the cameras to assure the American people they need not worry about Saddam Hussein. Here is what they said:
2001 (late): WE BELIEVE SADDAM IS GOING TO KILL US! Just a few months later, in the hours and days after the 9/11 tragedy, you had no interest in going after Osama bin Laden. You wanted only to bomb Iraq and kill Saddam and you then told all of America we were under imminent threat because weapons of mass destruction were coming our way. You led the American people to believe that Saddam had something to do with Osama and 9/11. Without the UN's sanction, you broke international law and invaded Iraq.
2003: WE DONT BELIEVE SADDAM IS GOING TO KILL US. After no WMDs were found, you changed your mind about why you said we needed to invade, coming up with a brand new after-the-fact reason -- we started this war so we could have regime change, liberate Iraq and give the Iraqis democracy!
2003: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Yes, everyone saw you say it -- in costume, no less!
2004: OOPS. MISSION NOT ACCOMPLISHED! Now you call the Iraq invasion a "catastrophic success." That's what you called it this month. Over a thousand U.S. soldiers have died, Iraq is in a state of total chaos where no one is safe, and you have no clue how to get us out of there.
Mr. Bush, please tell us -- when will you change your mind again?
I know you hate the words "flip" and "flop," so I won't use them both on you. In fact, I'll use just one: Flop. That is what you are. A huge, colossal flop. The war is a flop, your advisors and the "intelligence" they gave you is a flop, and now we are all a flop to the rest of the world. Flop. Flop. Flop.
And you have the audacity to criticize John Kerry with what you call the "many positions" he has taken on Iraq. By my count, he has taken only one: He believed you. That was his position. You told him and the rest of congress that Saddam had WMDs. So he -- and the vast majority of Americans, even those who didn't vote for you -- believed you. You see, Americans, like John Kerry, want to live in a country where they can believe their president.
That was the one, single position John Kerry took. He didn't support the war, he supported YOU. And YOU let him and this great country down. And that is why tens of millions can't wait to get to the polls on Election Day -- to remove a major, catastrophic flop from our dear, beloved White House -- to stop all the flipping you and your men have done, flipping us and the rest of the world off.
We can't take another minute of it.
From: "Will Thomas" firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: US Draft Update and Commentary by William Thomas
Date: 23 Sep 2004
To the editor, and concerned citizens everywhere
by William Thomas (Convergence Weekly Sept 23/04)
If you don't feel the draft yet, step over here and look out this window.
As the disaster in Iraq deepens, America's prestige plummets and the world grows incendiary in the inevitable backlash against Washington's guiltless genocide - the 95% of the planet's population living outside Bush's Prozac nation and his own feverish fantasies are looking on in shock and awe as the remaining 5% of Spaceship Earth's human inhabitants prepare to re-elect the man responsible for so much misery and mayhem.
Given the almost desperate level of denial that insists on ignoring evidence of moral, ecological and fiscal bankruptcy piling up even faster than scorched and shredded bodies, the only remaining move that might snap half of America out of its infatuation with the man who says he would do it all over again - could be the forced impressing of their own husbands, daughters or sons onto a seemingly endless treadmill of corpses, lies, corpses, corporate profiteering, White House profiteering, dead children, depleted uranium victims and multiple amputees.
Anyone who thinks that only 1,000 GI's have been killed and some 11,000 maimed so far in a country resisting invasion and occupation just as any American would defend home, religion and family - would be well advised to put down their drug of choice, including the brainwashing box in their living room, and wake up to the reality of US casualties approaching twice that number.
Then you will understand why your own kids or spouse are about to be sent into this meat-grinder next.
Or into Afghanistan. Or Columbia. Or the Philippines. Or anywhere else US troops are currently fighting and dying. Or perhaps Iran, after Washington's proxy state in the Middle East bombs the reactors there (very soon). Or maybe North Korea. Or Syria. Or even Canada, when the water runs out.
Don't believe me?
Can you spell V-i-e-t-n-a-m?
Did you hear George say "endless war"?
ALARM AT LAST
"Alarm is spreading that President Bush may seek a military draft.to obtain enough combat troops to wage his bogged-down Iraq war," observes the Charleston Gazette this week.
"Two bills pending in Congress would launch a new draft for all young Americans ages 18 to 26, both male and female, with no college exemption," reports the Gazette. "Also, a new border agreement with Canada is designed to prevent young Americans from fleeing northward to elude the draft."
That agreement has already been signed. But deserters and their families are still being offered refuge in this "neighbouring" land of igloos, log cabins and very few gun deaths among the well-armed, truly free. When the real exodus starts heading north, we'll see what Canadian Prime Minister Martin is made of.
But I wouldn't wait till then.
And if you think desertion is "cowardly" - just try leaving your family, friends and American future behind forever. If you seriously oppose killing innocent children and their families in some distant neighborhood you have no business being in, you will find this decision a whole lot tougher then meekly submitting to that slaughter.
NO NEW DRAFT - READ MY LIE DETECTOR GRAPH When John Edwards spoke in Parkersburg last week, his ringing declaration: "There will be no draft when John Kerry is president" drew a standing ovation from folks who recognize reality when it smacks them in the face.
Of course, the President-select also promises no new draft. If you believe that reassurance from the man who promised to remove weapons of mass destruction from Iraq, reduce the level of violence and protect American lives - he's probably got a bridge or two over the Tigris he'll sell you cheap, too.
CLOSE THE BACK DOOR ON YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT
What's coming, many insiders allege, is a sneaky "backdoor draft" that will see major Guard and Reserve mobilizations just after a Nov. 2 "election" guaranteed to be as free and fair as the last one. Just ask any African-American. Or anyone who used an electronic voting machine in the last Congressional selection.
Since so many younger reservists have already been called to active duty, this means the remaining reservists and Guard, in their thirties and even older who have already served their country in uniform, could soon be called away from spouses, families and careers to fill body bags in some place with an unpronounceable name.
Just ask a marine. Pennsylvania Representative John Murtha is a Marine Corps. veteran who served in Vietnam. Which means he is connected in ways no civilian can ever hope to know. Murtha maintains that Pentagon insiders have told him of the secret mobilization plan. [Charleston Gazette Sept 22/04]
Laugh at Murtha if you dare. If you are not in the Reserves. Or happen to be of draft age. Or if you do not have anyone you care about who is.
Then take a look at this:
The US Army says they are stretched as thin as a smoldering rubber band held over a Zippo flame. With recruitment of fresh fodder down to a countrywide trickle of youths too desperate to turn down the army's bribes, 300 additional military recruiters are taking to high-school cafeterias and mall parking lots to waylay wary teens any way they can.
Go ahead. Sign up for a hard-to-fill specialty and you will receive a bonus check for as much as $15,000! This will buy an excellent wheelchair when you get your legs blown off by an improvised explosive device, suicide bomber, or RPG.
Which is a very good thing. The extra money I mean. Because sure as the world of hurt you will soon find yourself in, bitter experience among messed up returning veterans shows that after Bush's savage VA cuts, the chances of the army doing anything long-term for what's left of you - besides mustering you out of the service as rapidly as possible - are as certain as free and open elections in Iraq next January.
But don't worry. The army is still hanging in. By ditching the delayed entry of new recruits and hustling them right into boot camp and then to the front, the brass are dipping deep into next year's delayed entry quotas to fill this year's "transfer tubes" now.
They must have learned this kind of screw-the-next-in-line economics from a cowardly Commander In Chief who stopped showing up for his flight physical after drug testing was made mandatory for military pilots.
Reservists are still being whisked away from the "world" and shipped to Iraq without adequate body armor for ever longer periods. Combat tours are now often lasting a year, with additional months sometimes tacked on - just when you are blessing your luck and packing your bags for home.
Even if you do make it back stateside in one piece, your unit could still be recalled - like others already have - for a second spin of RPG roulette in some hot dusty street where at least you don't have to worry about tripping over flowers thrown to the liberators.
YOU'RE IN THE ARMY NOW
Or maybe you've already served your country and are looking forward to an honorable retirement.
When this army gets its gloves on you, you stay got.
Just ask any Individual Ready Reservist being tapped to dodge death and dismemberment in a place very far from Des Moines, Decatur or Detroit. Comprised of older reservists in their mid-to-late forties who have not fired an M-16 for a very long time, the Ready Reserves have traditionally been a place where serving patriots put their names down for a well-earned pension.
Except, that is, during times of declared national emergency.
We must have all missed the buzzer when G. Dubya authorized the Individual Ready Reserve call up in 2001. And what do you know? After declaring "Mission Accomplished" 16 long bloody months ago, he must have forgotten to rescind that order. [YubaNet.com Sept 20/04]
Apparently, despite Bush's assurances that everything is on track in Iraq (maybe he means for Al Qaeda), a real "emergency" remains.
Bitter? Angry? Frustrated? Cynical?
Just wait till it's your turn.
Or your husband's.
Or your daughter's.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS AGAIN?
Then it will be too late. Because this time, you can be certain that with good ol' boys like Cheney, Ashcroft and Rummy calling the shots - all exits will be barred, locked and electrified. With surveillance in your neighborhood, and extra guards at the border to keep Americans in.
So take another look out this drafty window. Afghanistan urgently needs more American targets to even attempt to regain that much-abused nation's trust and territory anywhere beyond 50 yards outside Kabul.
And do you really think it was such a swift idea to withdraw thousands of American GIs from Korea's DMZ, while poking that paranoid regime to the north with GW's trademark threats and smirk?
What about Teheran giving Bush the nuclear finger? The mullahs must have figured out that the only way to stop warmongers bent on making their country as safe for looting as Iraq Inc. is a few megatons of good old-fashioned American deterrence.
Don't send me your angry letters. Send them to the chickenhawks roosting in the White House.
Make sure you vote with a paper ballot.
And bring the grunts home now.
William Thomas is the author of "Mutiny In The Ranks" due for release this month from http://www.willthomas.net
In 1970, after volunteering to serve his country in a distant conflict, he resigned his Reserve commission in protest over the massacre in Vietnam, and came to Canada as an officially designated deserter after his letter of resignation was denied. He grieves for his country of birth, and for all the "wasted" dead and maimed in this current senseless repeat of that earlier folly.
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Draft? Bushs War Needs Troops (22 September 2004)
*Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a Marine veteran of Vietnam, said Pentagon insiders told him of the mobilization plan. A White House spokesman ridiculed the allegation. -- Alarm is spreading that President Bush may seek a military draft, or mobilize more of the National Guard and Army Reserve, to obtain enough combat troops to wage his bogged-down Iraq war. Two bills pending in Congress would launch a new draft for all young Americans ages 18 to 26, both male and female, with no college exemption. Also, a new border agreement with Canada is designed to prevent young Americans from fleeing northward to elude the draft. CLIP
Date: 23 Sep 2004
From: BILL Derau email@example.com>
Subject: Israel Army frees the 5 Conscientious from Army service
Hi Jean, this is a great start, hopefully others will follow.
The Refuseniks Parents' Forum is pleased to announce that the five draft resisters, Haggai Matar, Noam Bahat, Adam Maor, Shimri Zameret and Matan Kaminer have been officially informed that they are hereby released from the ranks of the army.
The release from the Israeli army comes after an epoch-making court battle and after the five young men have spent close to two years in confinement. The campaign against the imprisonment of the five, for having resisted mobilization to the Israeli army, as long as it is an army of occupation, has received wide international attention and evoked strong expressions of solidarity the world over.
The release of the five will be marked in a mass public reception this Thursday, September 23 in Tel Aviv. Expressions of solidarity are pouring in from public figures in Israel and all over the world.
This is a victory for all women and men of good conscience who refuse to participate in oppression and occupation. The calm bravery of these five young men reminds us that we all have the right to refuse to be part of the occupation and suggests that we might well consider that this right is really a duty.
We take this occasion to express our deepest heartfelt thanks for the many, many thousands of expression of moral, political and financial solidarity. We owe a special expression of gratitude to the attorney for the five, Dr Dov Khenin.
We see this battle as an important chapter in the fight for an Israel living in peace and equality with our Palestinian neighbors and friends, the Palestinian people. Israel will either overcome the occupation or be destroyed by it.
With much thanks for all your support over the last two years,
The Refusers Parents' Forum
A SOBERING REALITY CHECK. IRAQ IS TURNING OUT TO BE WORST THAN VIETNAM. A HELL LOT WORST!
Originally from http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/09/23/iraq_hell/index_np.html
By Phillip Robertson
23 September 2004
Salon correspondent Phillip Robertson has spent five months covering the war in Iraq. As the presidential campaign finally focuses on the war, Robertson offers this assessment of the grim situation there.
Baghdad, Iraq - Three years after the attacks on the World Trade Center, attacks in which they played no part, the people of Iraq have been liberated from one tyranny only to be remanded to another: continuous urban warfare, religious extremism and a contagion of fear. The celebrated hand of the free market in Iraq has brought not only cell phones and satellite TV, it has also brought down prices for automatic weapons, making them affordable to the average Iraqi. The last time I checked, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher cost about $250.
In his address to the United Nations on Tuesday, President Bush told a subdued General Assembly, "Today, the Iraqi and Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom. The governments that are rising will pose no threat to others. Instead of harboring terrorists, they're fighting terrorist groups. And this progress is good for the long-term security of us all." The words of the president ring hollow.
It is words to this effect that Iraq interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi will likely echo during his visit to the White House Thursday.
Reconstruction, the most important step on the path to a sovereign and stable Iraq, has all but stalled because of targeted acts of violence that reach all the way south to Basra and north to Mosul. Successful countermoves by the Sunni insurgents have prevented the United States and new Iraqi government from gaining any real political support. In fact, billions of dollars originally allocated for reconstruction are now headed for security companies, which are quickly becoming private militias. Unfortunately for optimistic planners in the Bush administration, the coalition is up against not one single group but a constellation of allied militias. It's as if the United States had gone to war against the tribal system itself. There are so many new fighter cells that they are at a loss to distinguish themselves, and so use kidnapping and videotapes as branding strategies. In this market, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Tawhid wa al Jihad, with its monstrous beheading trademark, is the undisputed brand king. Some of the groups are crazier than others. It is a free market of demons.
In the past year, al-Qaida operatives have found in Iraq a fertile recruiting ground, the best possible training camp for jihad against the West, a destination any angry young man can reach if he has the will and pocket money. Iraq's borders, which stretch across hundreds of miles of empty desert, are perfect for smugglers and men seeking martyrdom. No one really knows how many people are coming into Iraq to fight the U.S. But the fighters who do make it across are changing the character of the resistance, internationalizing it, injecting religious extremism into the politics of a once-secular Iraq. Young men coming in from other countries don't fight for Iraq, they fight for Islam.
One of the unutterable truths for the administration is that the U.S. occupation is breeding and fueling insurgent groups. Iraqi government officials rightly fear for their lives, but Iraqi forces, which are supposed to be fighting alongside U.S. troops in the cause of a free and democratic Iraq, are often undisciplined, dangerous and in some places infiltrated by insurgent groups. The Mahdi Army in Sadr City has a number of police officers in its ranks, and in a little remarked upon event that took place during one of the large demonstrations in Baghdad at the time of the siege, the Iraqi police helped Sadr officials address a crowd of Muqtada al-Sadr supporters outside the neutral Green Zone.
On Aug. 13, with U.S. troops looking on, a Mahdi Army sheik urged the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr to go to Najaf to support the men occupying the shrine. He used a public address system in the back of a police pickup to get his message across. The fighters were yelling and grabbing at journalists, proud that the police were on their side, and they wanted us to take note. Above us, in their watchtowers, Iraqi police hung pictures of Muqtada al-Sadr and waved to the crowd. The organizers of the rally were overjoyed.
Fringe groups, extreme groups, associations with the most vocal opposition to the U.S. occupation, steadily acquire more legitimacy in Iraq because they tend to express the true feelings of many Iraqis. Not everyone takes part in the fighting, but many people understand why the groups choose to fight. Jobs in the Iraqi National Guard and the Iraqi police tend to attract poor men who desperately need the money, while the insurgents attract believers, men who feel wronged and humiliated by the U.S. occupation, and who will work for nothing. They are volunteers. Which emotion is stronger?
Iraq is a place where there is no civil debate and interest groups mediate their conflicts with weapons. The U.S. has the most powerful armed presence, its own military, but as an interest group, it represents the smallest number of Iraqis, possibly only those it directly supports. Political legitimacy, we have long known, comes directly from the people; it is not something that can be dictated by a foreign power, no matter how noble its stated intentions. The Allawi government, the result of American occupation, is what many Iraqis scornfully call a U.S. puppet government. In the months following the "transfer of sovereignty," I never heard a single Iraqi offer up praise for it. Not one.
The Sunni insurgents, a creepy hodgepodge of extremist imams, tribal sheiks, former Iraqi government officials and al-Qaida types, have not only scuttled the plans to rebuild the country, they have also cornered the political debate. Relying on abundant examples of victimization and prejudice against Iraqis and Muslims, the fighters present themselves as defenders of the faith. Kidnapping, execution and death threats have become acceptable practices in the eyes of some ordinary Iraqis who may have been horrified by it only a few months before.
When a well-educated Sunni shop owner named Abu Mustapha heard about the kidnapping of French journalists Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot, he wanted to express his sympathy. It sounded like this: "Phillip, it is very bad that they were kidnapped. You should be careful." I pointed out that the people who were abducting noncombatants and threatening to kill them were behaving like animals. The hostage-takers were demanding that the French government repeal a law prohibiting religious symbols from being worn in schools. Abu Mustapha agreed with the insurgents. "You know, the French should change their law," he said. "It is a bad law. Muslim girls should be able to wear the hejab in school."
Contrary to the administration's hopeful statements, we are not seeing the establishment of a stable Iraq, the mopping up of unreformed Baath Party apparatchiks and dead-enders. We are seeing the beginning of a larger conflict that is busily giving birth to monsters.
Since April, the coalition has lost ground in central and western Iraq and will be forced in the coming months to gain it back at great cost. Fallujah and Ramadi, two sizable Iraqi cities, are no longer under Iraqi government control. Sadr City, with several million people, remains a stronghold for the Mahdi Army and the site of a continuing series of battles. Najaf and Karbala, cities the military has taken back from the Mahdi Army, were never strongholds of the Shia resistance. In Najaf, citizens paid a high price for emancipation. They experienced the destruction of their city and must now set about rebuilding it, a process that will take years. It is hard to imagine that the U.S. is loved in Najaf. While the siege may have been a military victory, it was a political defeat. I left Najaf just as men were beginning to dig out bodies.
But Najaf did not serve as the headstone for the Mahdi Army; at best, the military defeat set them back a few months, driving them deeper underground. The first cavalry division and the Marines successfully routed the Muqtada fighters, pushing them to other cities, scattering them but not destroying them. In my second to last day in Najaf, at the end of the siege, journalists in the old city watched militiamen load wooden carts full of weapons and take them to new hiding places. When we asked where they were going, one fighter said to a comrade in an alley just off Rasul Street, "Don't talk to these people, some of them are spies." That was a perfectly normal response and we didn't take it personally. But it was clear that they weren't taking their anti-aircraft weapons and rockets to U.S. collection points for cash payouts. The skittish Mahdi Army fighters were busy smuggling their weapons out of town to other cities and a number of them were almost certainly headed for Baghdad. We watched them trundle the carts over the streets, trying to keep the weapons from spilling out onto the cobblestones.
Here is something everyone in Iraq knows: The U.S. is now fighting a holding action against a growing uprising, and the more it fights the worse it gets. At the other end of the spectrum, if the U.S. military were to suddenly withdraw, the largest armed factions in Iraq would immediately begin to compete for the capital in a bloody civil war. Recently, a National Intelligence Estimate, a document prepared for President Bush by senior intelligence officials, warned of exactly that outcome. It is the kind of analysis that Secretary of State Colin Powell might write off as defeatist if it had come from the press.
How much control does the U.S. military have over the country? Not as much as it would like. Large sections of the capital are in the hands of insurgents, and organized attacks on convoys, U.S. interests and Iraqi targets are on the rise. The administration can say things are getting better, that a newly democratic Iraq is facing its enemies, but last week Baghdadis woke up at 5 in the morning to the sound of a large volley of rockets slamming into the Green Zone. The explosions sounded like they were coming from more than one direction, the sign of a carefully coordinated attack.
This summer, it wasn't unusual to wake up to the sound of roadside bombs going off near Humvees on their early morning U.S. patrols. Month by month, attacks became more severe, bombs more powerful. In the sky above the Duleimi hotel, medevac helicopters would shudder through the air on their way to combat support hospitals. When something truly ugly was going on, we could hear the rush of the medevac Black Hawks in a steady progression.
What the war's champions prefer to ignore is that in large parts of Iraq, broad support exists for anyone willing to pick up a gun and fight the United States. Fighters become local stars and when they die, their friends hold their photographs as treasured objects, pass them around at parties, and later try to emulate their fallen buddies. Paradise awaits, full of virgins who have bodies made of light. Many young Iraqi men believe this. A young fighter guarding the bottom of Rasul Street in Najaf said, just before the collapse of the truce on Aug. 4, "Paradise is a place without corruption. It's not like this place, it smells sweet." Thousands of Iraqis, not all of them poor and unemployed, have checked into the resistance, not only because it's honorable but because it's fun. Spreading through family and neighborhoods, the insurgency can be anywhere, anytime.
A young Apache helicopter gunner who has fought in many of Iraq's major battles wrote me a few days ago and said: "I have a feeling that with every one member of the resistance that we kill, we give birth to ten more." At a distance of hundreds of feet in the air, a perceptive man can say this. Here is what the situation looks like from the ground.
Iraq seems modern only at first glance. The highways, factories and cities are familiar enough but they hide a deep tribal sensibility. Insults to family honor in Iraq are usually repaid in blood or money depending on the severity, and this system of revenge and honor fuels the war instead of slowing it down. The United States military, unable to relate to a tribal society, finds itself the player in a nationwide blood feud. To understand the intensity of these feelings of honor and kinship, read "Othello" or watch "The Godfather." This is how many tribal Iraqis perceive the world. It is not necessarily a lack of sophistication but a mark of being outside the West. Tribal culture in Iraq goes back thousands of years. When an Iraqi man loses a family member to an American missile, he must take another American life to even the score. He may not subscribe to the notion that some Americans are noncombatants, viewing them instead as the members of a supertribe that has come to invade his land.
The war, illegal and founded on a vast lie, has produced two tragedies of equal magnitude: an embryonic civil war in the world's oldest country, and a triumph for those in the Bush administration who, without a trace of shame, act as if the truth does not matter. Lying until the lie became true, the administration pursued a course of action that guaranteed large sections of Iraq would become havens for jihadis and radical Islamists. That is the logic promoted by people who take for themselves divine infallibility - a righteousness that blinds and destroys. Like credulous Weimar Germans who were so delighted by rigged wrestling matches, millions of Americans have accepted Bush's assertions that the war in Iraq has made the United States and the rest of the world a safer place to live. Of course, this is false.
But it is a useful fiction because it is a happy one. All we need to know, according to the administration, is that America is a good country, full of good people and therefore cannot make bloody mistakes when it comes to its own security. The bitter consequence of succumbing to such happy talk is that the government of the most powerful nation in the world now operates unchecked and unmoored from reality; leaving us teetering on the brink of another presidential term where abuse of authority has been recast as virtue.
The logic the administration uses to promote its actions - preemptive war, indefinite detention, torture of prisoners, the abandonment of the Geneva Convention abroad and the Bill of Rights at home - is simple, faith-based and therefore empty of reason. The worsening war is the creation of the Bush administration, which is simultaneously holding Americans and Iraqis hostage to a bloody conflict that cannot be won, only stalemated.
Over the last three years, practicing a philosophy of deliberate deception, fear-mongering and abuse of authority, the Bush administration has done more to undermine the republic of Lincoln and Jefferson than the cells of al-Qaida. It has willfully ignored our fundamental laws and squandered the nation's wealth in bloody, open-ended pursuits. Corporations like Halliburton, with close ties to government officials, are profiting greatly from the war while thousands of American soldiers undertake the dangerous work of patrolling the streets of Iraqi cities. We have arrived at a moment of national crisis.
At home, the United States, under the Bush administration, is rapidly drifting toward a security state whose principal currency is fear. Abroad, it has used fear to justify the invasion of Iraq - fear of weapons of mass destruction, of terrorist attacks, of Iraq itself. The administration, under false premises, invaded a country that it barely understood. We entered a country in shambles, a population divided against itself. The U.S. invasion was a catalyst of violence and religious hatred, and the continuing presence of American troops has only made matters worse. Iraq today bears no resemblance to the president's vision of a fledgling democracy. On its way to national elections in January, Iraq has already slipped into chaos.
EERILY ACCURATE DESCRIPTION OF WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE USA
Date: 23 Sep 2004
From: Michael Dean firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: The face of Fascism
Here is a rather sobering and eye-opening report that you might wish to share with your readers. . .
Love and thoughts - and thanks for your outstanding service as trumpeter at the city gates - from London
Michael. :-D [Michael Joseph]
THE 14 DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS OF FASCISM
Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes and defined the following 14 characteristics common to each.
[I wonder if Dr. Britt is now making a study of the United States under the Bush Administration?]
1. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. . .
2. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nationstend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions. . .
3. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Disagreement with government is seen as unpatriotic. Flags are every- where, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. . .
4. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed. . .
5. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is usually a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. . .
6. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even the assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections. . .
7. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes are almost always governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even stolen by government leaders. . .
8. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business 'aristocracy' of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
9. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, and in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or by sympathetic media spokes - people and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. . . (Fox News?)
10. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate custodian of the family institution. . .
11. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
12. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked. Science takes a back seat to corporate need and control. . .
13. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. . .
14. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of 'enemies' and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of 'need'. The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners without trial, etc.
Forwarded by "Mark Graffis" email@example.com>
Under pressure, Pentagon opens up voter site
Sept. 23, 2004
After suffering a day of relentless criticism from voting-rights activists, bloggers and lawmakers, the Pentagon decided on Wednesday afternoon to lift the access block it had earlier placed on the Web site for the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the government agency charged with helping Americans living abroad register to vote.
"The department has taken prompt action to address the concerns of some U.S. citizens overseas regarding the protective measures on DoD networks that were limiting some Internet access," Charles S. Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in a statement. Abell gave no reason for why the block had been instituted in the first place, but unnamed officials told the International Herald Tribune that the policy was due to "an Internet security block imposed several years ago had been left in place inadvertently" and was not a partisan plan meant to disenfranchise liberal expatriates, as some critics had charged.
Brett Rierson, the owner of the nonpartisan voting-assistance site http://www.overseasvote.com/, discounted that explanation. In an interview from his home in Hong Kong, Rierson told Salon that American expatriates only recently began complaining in high numbers about being locked out of the government's voting registration site. The problem could not have been caused by a block accidentally imposed several years ago, Rierson said, because for much of this year voters from around the world experienced no problem logging into the site. Then, for some unexplained reason, "something changed at the Pentagon" at the end of August, Rierson said, and Americans in about 27 different countries could no longer get in to the Pentagon's voting site.
Perhaps we'll never know what prompted the Defense Department to shut down access to its voting site. But now that it has lifted its block, Rierson hopes that Americans living abroad will immediately go online and register to vote. Already this year, he says, at least 47,000 people have downloaded registration forms from overseasvote.com. And tens of thousands more have acquired forms from the many other assitance sites online, including http://www.tellanamericantovote.com/ and http://www.overseasvote2004.com/, which is funded by the Democratic party and is not affiliated with Rierson's site.
"I really believe that these are the silent swing voters," Rierson said of the Americans living abroad. "And, let me say something: If there's one thing you could do for us -- we're really hoping for MoveOn, ACT, Emily's List, all these third-party groups to get the message out to their base, to tell people to get in touch with their overseas friends and get them to vote." Voting registration deadlines for expatriates are fast approaching, he explained. "This idea has another two weeks of shelf life -- then it's dead."
-- Farhad Manjoo
Recommended by "A'keara" firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Triumph of Anything Goes
By David Greenberg
We all know that George W. Bush's reelection would probably bring about more illiberal policies regarding social justice, education, the arts, economic fairness, environmental protection, consumer rights, racial equality, foreign policy, civil liberties, and workers' rights. Less obvious, but perhaps as consequential over the long term, is how a Bush victory in November would change the fundamental practice of democracy in Washington. If the public were to award Bush a vote of confidence on the basis of his first-term record, it would amount to a ratification of the ruthless style and philosophy that have underpinned Bush's presidency--what Barack Obama at the Democratic Convention called "the politics of anything goes."
An oft-quoted quip of Bush's--"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator"--certainly doesn't reflect any plan of his to abolish democratic procedures or principles. But it does reveal his impatience with those procedures and principles. Bush and his team have shown contempt for many of the bedrock elements of liberal democracy, including public access to information; a press that interrogates its leaders; a give-and-take between parties that represent different interests; a separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches; the preference for reason over the use of force; and the support of legal safeguards to prevent the arbitrary exercise of power by the executive. They have routinely violated the bounds of acceptable political behavior in a democracy.
The instances of this misbehavior are so numerous as to fill a small book; indeed, they've already filled many such books. Yet the anything-goes attitude comprises more than the sum total of these instances. It's a philosophy, a set of premises and prejudices, that scorns deliberation and dissent, exalts brute power, drips with disrespect for the spirit (if not the letter) of the law, stiff-arms compromise, and mocks the popular will.
It's hard to find a better exemplar of this attitude than George W. Bush. Nonetheless, Bush himself remains only, the reigning figurehead of this philosophy. Since Newt Gingrich assumed the GOP leadership in the 1990s, and since the party became nearly congruent with the conservative movement, this strain of ruthlessness has come to permeate the Republican Party. Republican behavior during three major national traumas of late--the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the 2000 Florida election recount, and the invasion of Iraq--was strikingly similar: In each case, their leaders rammed ahead, using means fair and foul, to reach a preordained outcome. Each time, they brushed aside not just the doubts of the American public or other nations, not just inconvenient facts, but also concern about the law itself. For these reasons, Bush has been eliciting comparisons to Richard Nixon, the last president who showed such contempt for democratic procedures.
Because Nixon was foolish enough to record himself committing high crimes, we now think of Watergate as an episode in which, as the cliché goes, the system works. The flip side of that statement, however, is that the system almost failed. Certainly, just after Election Day 1972, when Nixon had routed George McGovern, many Americans were despairing that his thuggery would go unpunished. Talk of "repression" and "gangsterism," which had just months before seemed like so much New Left sloganeering, now approximated reality. And Nixon himself knew well that his 1972 victory strengthened his hand to wreak revenge. Throughout that fall, he spoke privately about the viciousness with which he would retaliate, once reelected, against his political foes on the left and in the press.
Something similar could happen following a Bush win this November. For the electorate to turn Bush out of office would be to proclaim that it rejects this manner of politics. But to award Bush another four years--provided he really wins this time--would signal that a majority of Americans not only tolerates but endorses his anti-democratic style. And it could be interpreted by Democrats as a lesson that resistance is futile.
Already, despite losing the popular vote, Bush has governed as if he'd won in a landslide. "From the very day we walked in the building, [there was] a notion of a sort of restrained presidency because it was such a close election," Cheney has said, "that lasted maybe 30 seconds." And with a Republican-controlled Supreme Court and Congress, Bush and Cheney faced few checks on their power.
Should Bush win a second term, the politics of anything-goes would only intensify--because it would no longer be seen as controversial. It would no longer be noteworthy that an administration declassifies documents to embarrass opponents, as when John Ashcroft released a memo by former Clinton administration official and 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick. It would become more or less acceptable to threaten the jobs of bureaucrats who won't play ball in misleading Congress, as happened with chief actuary Richard Foster, who wanted to answer congressional questions about the price tag of the administration's Medicare plan. Or to toss aside legal and constitutional rights of the accused, as at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. Or to interfere with the public's right to know, as the administration did in ordering federal agencies to provide fewer records under the Freedom of Information Act.
Fifteen years ago, conservatives put forth the "broken windows" theory of crime. If small street crimes are tolerated, the theory went, neighborhoods begin to accept them as normal and the result is more lawlessness. The same thing will happen if a democracy tolerates Bush's ruthless behavior as business as usual. If voters validate this modus operandi, it won't just accelerate; it will cease to draw even the modest level of scrutiny and outrage that the administration's transgressions have attracted so far. Failing to protest these breaches of the norms that govern political conduct will encourage more such violations.
Historically, second-term presidents have gotten cocky and overreached: Franklin D. Roosevelt with his court-packing plan, Nixon with Watergate (which began in his first term), Ronald Reagan with Iran-Contra. But no law of history decrees that the system always corrects itself. With no independent counsel and no Democratic Congress to investigate, with a press cowed into submission, with a court system loaded with Federalist Society apparatchiks, who will restrain Bush's ruthless agenda? Only the people. And the only time they can do it is on Nov. 2.
David Greenberg is a professor at Rutgers University, a columnist for Slate, and the author of Nixon's Shadow: The History of an Image.
More opinions about What If Bush Wins at
A watchdog for US elections
An interview with Andy Stephenson, associate director of Black Box Voting by Monte Leac
In the upcoming US elections in November 2004, about 80 per cent of the voting will take place on computerized electronic voting machines. The three major manufacturers of these machines Diebold, Sequoia, and ES&S are private corporations whose technology has been criticized as lacking adequate safeguards against tampering and technical glitches.
Bev Harris, a 52-year-old grandmother, came across secret programming instructions for Diebolds voting machines while surfing on the internet last year, and made the instructions publicly available. Computer experts who examined the code said Diebolds electronic voting software contained stunning flaws, which have yet to be adequately remedied. Harris also discovered a folder called rob-Georgia containing instructions to replace Georgias computerized voting files just before the November 2002 elections. As it turned out, in an unexpected upset that year, the Republican Party candidate for the US Senate in Georgia won the election, tipping control of the Senate to the Republicans.
Bev Harris, director of the nonprofit group Black Box Voting, and the groups associate director, Andy Stephenson, act as watchdogs of electronic voting in the United States investigating flaws in voting systems, providing computer security tutorials to election officials, and making known as widely as possible the problems and solutions regarding electronic voting. Andy Stephenson was interviewed for Share International.
Share International: What are some of the problems you have discovered with electronic voting in the US?
Andy Stephenson: The touch screen voting machines, which will be used by millions of voters in November, are definitely a problem. They do not produce any physical record of the vote, so voters really have no idea if their vote was counted the way it was cast. But even more worrisome, we have discovered during investigations that the software code used by Diebold is very vulnerable to attack. Diebolds touch screen and optical scan voting machines will be counting about 30 per cent of the votes this fall. With their software, the central tabulator the computer where all the votes are accumulated and counted is extremely vulnerable. Votes can literally be changed in under 90 seconds.
SI: How would that work?
AS: As an example, in King County, Washington state, where I live, we use an optical scan ballot. The voter fills in a bubble next to the candidates name, and the ballot is sent through a computerized reader that counts the vote. At the end of the day, all the votes are sent via modem to the central computer where they are accumulated. In King County, there are 48 modems that attach to the back of the central computer, so thats 48 openings for somebody with the proper phone number to dial in and get into the system.
We have more than 500 polling places in this county, and in each one of those polling places you have an average of 1 to 2 county employees who have the phone number to the central count computer. Thats about 1,000 people just in King County alone who can dial into the computer. If they are so inclined, they can get into the computer with a laptop and a dialtone, or a laptop and a cell phone. When they dial in, they have full access to the system and can make any changes they want. They can run a five-line computer programming script, called a Visual Basic script, which is inherent in the Windows system. Anybody with a modicum of programming knowledge can change that voting system. We have estimated there are at least 100,000 people in the country with the knowledge to do that.
Why would somebody mess with 4,000 or 5,000 voting machines when all they have to do is go to the central count computer and change the results without any trace? And if you do leave a trace, thats OK. You just go in and erase the fact that you were there.
SI: How many electronic voting machines are vulnerable to this problem?
AS: As I said, 30 per cent of the nations votes will be counted by Diebold equipment.
SI: Is there anything that can be done to prevent this problem at this point?
AS: There are safeguards available. But we were in California recently, and told election officials about the problem. We gave them some simple procedures that would help mitigate the threat, but they said: Were not going to do anything until after the election.
SI: What safeguards would you recommend?
AS: We do not want any type of communication hooked up to the central server. No phone lines, no modems, no wireless, no internet. No communication to that central machine should be allowed at all. All the votes should be brought in from the polling places to the central count computer and counted in central count. That way, there is no one with outside access to that machine.
Also, all voting systems should produce a voter verified not a voter verifiable paper ballot. That is a printout of a persons votes, which the voter has an opportunity to look at and say: Yes, thats who I voted for. That piece of paper should be held as the absolute final record of the election. It should be the final arbiter.
In addition, totals from the machines should be printed twice at the end of the day. One tally is left in the precinct so that the public can look at the numbers and be able to go to the county and say: Yes, the numbers that you say came from my precinct match the tape at the polling site.
SI: Are there problems with the voting machines made by companies other than Diebold?
AS: Yes. The ballot on Sequoias machines was developed using a system called Visio, a Microsoft product. You can put a Visual Basic script in it that will reverse the mappings. So, for example, if you are touching yes on the screen, in the system it is tabulating no. The computer programmers at Sequoia, or anyone who has access to the system prior to the election, could make that change.
SI: Is there anything that people can do to help?
AS: People should be signing up to be poll workers, poll inspectors and poll judges. If theyre at polling places on election day and something doesnt look quite right, then it probably isnt. They should contact our organization. Were going to have 800 members available, and lists of people you can contact if something is looking funny. Then by all means get in touch with us and well take the appropriate action, whether its getting the press out there or making phone calls ourselves, whatever needs to be done.
SI: If people did sign up as volunteers, what kinds of things would they be looking for?
AS: If you see a Diebold employee set up a laptop and hook it up to a voting machine, that could be a problem. Or, for example, in Riverside County, California, in the 2nd March 2004 primary, a Sequoia employee was seen outside the county offices, talking with another Sequoia employee. He said: Heres my own personal card. Well take it in and see if it works. He went in and they stopped the vote count. He put in his card, did something on the database, pulled his card out, got in his car, went to the airport, and went back to Colorado. That was a clear violation of California law.
SI: Are there efforts going on in the states and nationally to try to change things?
AS: In addition to Black Box Voting, there are groups throughout the country working on this issue. The national nonprofit group True Majority has been working on paper trails.
SI: Is there anything else that should be mentioned to inform people in advance of the national elections?
AS: Get registered and vote. If readers want more information, visit our web site, http://www.blackboxvoting.org
Also from: http://www.share-international.org/magazine/SI_current.htm
US policies causing global crises
An interview with Kevin Danaher by Monte Leach
Kevin Danaher is co-founder of Global Exchange, an international human rights group dedicated to promoting environmental, political and social justice. He is the author and/or editor of 11 books, including his latest, Insurrection: Citizen Challenges to Corporate Power.
Share International: What do you see as the major dangers now facing the world, given the policies of the current US administration?
Kevin Danaher: There are three crises that characterize our current situation. One is a social crisis of growing inequality. The US population is less than 5 per cent of the worlds people, and yet we are consuming over 25 per cent of the worlds resources. Going back many decades, US foreign policy has basically been structured around maintaining that inequality. This is behind a lot of the worlds animosity toward the United States.
If you look at the governments that were overthrown Mossadeq in Iran in 1953, Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Lamumba in the Congo, etc. the problem that the US had with those regimes was not that they were communist. In fact, most of them were not communist. They were elected by their own people. It was that they were economic nationalists. They wanted the resources of their own country to benefit their people, rather than British Petroleum, Exxon, Chiquita Banana, etc. The main focus of US foreign policy, in both Democratic and Republican administrations, has been to keep Third World countries open to penetration by transnational corporations that want to get access to two things the natural resources of those countries, and the labor force. Hence, the sweatshops, the opposition to trade unions, and the lack of democracy in most of the regimes that are aligned with the US government.
The second crisis is a crisis of the environment. Every biological system is in a state of either breakdown or outright collapse: the polar icecaps are melting, ocean levels are rising, our groundwater is being polluted, the topsoil is being depleted. There are many ways in which Mother Nature is saying: No, you cant continue doing this anymore.
The third crisis is an emotional, moral, spiritual crisis of some people thinking that money values are more important than life values. They put greater stock in money and profit-making than in human rights and the environment. What we see on a global level is a shift away from the old paradigm that has dominated the planet for 500 years money values, violence, God is on my side to a paradigm of life values and non-violence. We are in a profound period of crisis, or opportunity. We are in a transitional phase from an old set of values that has brought us to the brink of species destruction not just our own but hundreds of other species to an economy and society that can be truly sustainable.
SI: How much do you attribute these crises to the current US administrations policies? Or are these just systemic problems that are getting worse?
KD: It is both. Preceding the Bush administration, there were decades of Republican and Democratic administrations. There are significant differences between the two parties. I do not want to minimize the differences on womens rights, freedom of speech, the environment, etc. But they are both corporate parties. They are both beholden to the same transnational corporations that have polluted the environment, moved our factories abroad, outsourced high tech jobs to Asia.
Bush has exacerbated the situation. We are killing people by the thousands in Iraq. That is a supreme act of irresponsibility. And we will be held accountable by history and by the people in the rest of the world. If one-hundreth of 1 per cent of the Muslims in the world get so angry that they decide to come here and do some violent act, that is quite a few people. The US has been shooting rockets into the cemetery in Najaf, which is one of the most sacred cemeteries in all of Shiite Islam. You cannot do that and not pay a price down the road. What the Bush administration is doing is very dangerous.
SI: And these policies also cause an increase in terrorism.
KD: Most certainly. My main area of research and writing over the past 25 years has been US foreign policy. It has been central to US foreign policy to prevent any form of economic nationalism. If you block nonviolent forms of nationalism, eventually people will go to violent forms. If you look at the Vietnamese revolution, the struggle of the ANC in South Africa, these movements did not go to violence right away. It took them decades of peaceful protest being suppressed, often with US weapons, by military trained by the US, when then they finally said: Theres no other alternative. If you look at the Palestinians, Hamas started as a social welfare organization running healthcare and daycare centers. They did not go to violence right away. They eventually went to violence out of frustration. I do not think there is any excuse for violence, but it explains the reason why. If you study the history of these movements, the constant US opposition to them, and the US funding in support of dictatorships, you understand the genesis of these violent policies.
Also, look at the structure of US military power. We have 14 aircraft carrier task forces. And they are not parked in Boston harbor. An aircraft carrier is not a defensive weapon. It is about power projection. The overwhelming majority of US military forces are not based in the US; they are abroad. We have over 300 major military bases outside this country. If everybody operated like that, the world would be destroyed. And, in fact, the US economy is being destroyed because, as with all previous empires, in the ascendant phase you can perhaps justify spending all this money on the military because you are taking in money. Now, it is costing us more than it brings in and it is bankrupting the nation economically and politically. Everybody hates us in the world. And morally, we are not legitimate anymore in the world.
SI: What dangers do the current administrations policies have for the US?
KD: They have bankrupted our country. The budget deficit this year will be about $400 billion. It is roughly equal to the Pentagons budget. The US federal debt, the accumulation of each years budget deficit, is over $7 trillion. That is more than three times the size of all Third World government debt combined. It amounts to spending our grandchildrens money. We have reached into the future to pull money back to the present and spend it. There is going to be a crisis in 10, 20, or 30 years down the road, maybe even sooner, when the economy is going to collapse. An increasing portion of the federal government debt is owned by the Chinese government, the Japanese government, British corporations, Dutch corporations. If they all of a sudden decide that the US economy and the US dollar are not a good bet and start dumping that debt, we could see a collapse of the dollar and a serious financial crisis in the US economy.
SI: What do we do to get back on track? What do you recommend in terms of moving us in the right direction?
KD: You hear people say: Im only one person. What can I do? We are all only one person, and that is why it is only when we work together that we can change these things. That is why women have the right to vote in the US. It is why we overcame slavery. It is because people realize the common vision and unite. We have to get out of the individualist notion that each of us is an isolated bag of skin. We need to reach out to each other, combine forces, and carry out this paradigm shift which is going to happen. It is just a question of how soon we can make it happen and how much we can minimize the suffering in the meantime.
As an example, whether you look at corruption of government, pollution of the environment, the take-over of the public airways, you find corporate power behind it. It is only when the citizens, the workers, mass themselves in mobilizing campaigns to pressure these companies, that we can force them to change their policies. We also need a constitutional amendment that says a corporation is not a human being. We need separation of corporations and the state, just like we have separation of church and state. We need the end of corporate welfare and campaign financing by corporations.
If you want to do something to help your community and at the same time fight imperialism, focus on the local green economy. The transnational corporations are not rooted in place. That is the source of their economic muscle. They can move their jobs abroad to a low-wage country, and they also destroy the environment. The opposite of that is the locally rooted, locally grown, green economy, an economy based on trying to make our economic operations in harmony with nature instead of destroying nature.
SI: Which means purchasing goods from the local green economy whenever possible?
KD: Exactly. And looking for the fair trade certified label. Buying fair trade products allows us to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to the farmers in the global south.
Every section on our website and in our newsletter has a section letting you know what you can do, a very simple act that you can take, combined with thousands of other people, that will have an impact.
For more information: http://www.globalexchange.org
From: Triaka SpiritNet@webtv.net>
Date: 26 Sep 2004
Subject: LOOKING AHEAD
Aloha! There is no Natural Law that divides humanity into involuntary nation-states. These are creations of political, military and/or industrial forces that impinge on an individuals reasonable freedom to make choices.
Upon physical birth, an individual loses a most fundamental Free Choice as one or another government imposes jurisdictional authority based on its territorial claim in which one is born. One suddenly becomes a "citizen" or "subject" often identified by an assigned number.
At approximately age five, an individuals Free Choice is further denied by government - under threat of penalty to one's parents - requiring entry into a 12-year so-called "education" program of its own choosing and/or supervision. This often entails pledging one's allegiance to the imposed government.
At age 18, Free Choice is further denied by government requiring an individual - under penalty of law - to register for military or other "service" of its own choosing by order of its claimed authority.
As an adult earning income to subsist, an individuals Free Choice is further denied by governmental use of primitive "initiatory physical force" requiring payment of taxes to finance Principles, Policies, Programs, Practices and/or Persons which the individual may disapprove for reasons of conscience or otherwise.
As an adult participating in public affairs, an individuals Free Choice is further denied by government in disallowing one's "direct" vote on issues of concern.
Throughout life and throughout the world, an individuals experience with government is one of coercion with the threat of jail, fines or worse in perpetuity.
But there is hope on the horizon in a new "umbrella" form of voluntary organization which "protects" Free Choice, while advancing peace and harmony worldwide. I invite you to look into it http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uniteddiversity
Goodwill to you,
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