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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I don't understand where they are coming from 

New York Post: A WHITE HOUSE 180: I don't understand this -- this is the New York Post, which is a New York newspaper presumably written and edited by people who live in New York and who directly experienced 9.11. So why would they be so utterly convinced not only that 9.11 was inevitable, but that the Bush administration was absolutely blameless -- "the White House's adamant refusal to let [Rice] appear - followed by its abrupt about-face - makes it seem like the administration had something to hide, and came clean only when forced. That's not the case, of course. The Bush folks have provided testimony from more than 20 executive office personnel and coughed up classified documents on an unprecedented scale. We have no doubt that the record of this president on the issue of 9/11 and the War on Terror - which has been so distorted in recent weeks - can be defended easily. "
Idon't understand why they would not think they should hold their judgement until the hearings are over, at least. This stikes me as an hysterical certainty -- along the lines that of course the Emperor is wearing clothes!

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Poor Martha (2) 

The Globe and Mail Martha Stewart lawyers seek new trial Another losing legal strategy from the people who got Martha convicted in the first place. These lawyers are NOT "a good thing" for her.

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Plan B for Iraq?  

Dead foreigners mutilated, dragged through Iraqi streetsl: This is horrible - such anger, such despair. But I wondered about this quote: "There are some that are doing everything they can to try to prevent� a June 30 transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi government, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters." So does this mean that there is a possibility the US will NOT turn over Iraq to an Iraqi government at the end of June? I had never heard this before -- in fact, I thought Bush was bound and determined to have a July 1 photo op of the transfer. Maybe Plan B is for Bremner to fly home after dumping Iraq in the UN's lap.

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Ya gotta believe! 

Bush Plans for Tax Cuts Barely Avert House Setback
". . . the majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, restated a view that has been cited by other Republican House leaders: tax cuts pay for themselves by generating economic growth that more than makes up for lost revenue. 'We, as a matter of philosophy, understand that when you cut taxes the economy grows, and revenues to the government grow,' Mr. DeLay said. 'The whole notion that you have to cut spending in order to cut taxes negates that philosophy, and so I'm not interested in something that would negate our philosophy'."
It used to be called the divine right of kings -- this certainty that everything a king did was divinely inspired, regardless of whether it made any sense. So now they're describing as a "philosophy" their nonsensical idea that cutting taxes will increase government revenues. So if taxes were cut to zero, then government revenues would increase to infinity, I guess.
This is what happens when you put the religious imans in charge -- they decide that EVERYTHING they believe is RIGHT because they are inspired by faith, not facts. And therefore ANYTHING they believe must be right because THEY believe it.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

217 days to find the middle 30 per cent 

The Democrats cannot depend on Bush to go down in flames -- he's not going to start swearing in public, or screwing interns, or embezzling money, or giving the finger to the 9.11 widows. And as for saying something stupid, he's been doing this for four years and the American electorate doesn't appear to care.
In 217 days, at least 35 per cent of the American public will vote for Bush because they like his "straight-talking" persona and his macho war-mongering. Another 35 per cent of the voters will vote for John Kerry because they are democrats who hate Bush and like Kerry.
What the Democrats have to worry about are the middle 30 per cent. This group doesn't hate Bush, perhaps they even like him, but they can be persuaded to vote against him and for Kerry if they have a good reason. So the Democrats must give them a reason. Showing that Bush was cowardly and misguided on 9.11 won't be enough -- if they come to distrust Bush, they won't necessarily go to the polls to vote for Kerry instead, they're just as likely to stay home.
The Democrats need to get them off the couch.
First, they need some excitement. Kerry needs to make himself into a better public speaker -- sure, he's been making speeches for 30 years in the Senate, and maybe that's the problem. Quit being so ponderous! Establish the 10-word sentence as a personal goal. Tell a joke or two. Go on Leno, Oprah, The Daily Show.
Second, he needs to stop using the "Bring it on" line and any other line that is linked to Bush. This was OK during the primaries, when he had to convince the faithful that he could take Bush on, but it doesn't work anymore with people who were not offended when Bush first said this.
So third, Kerry should be making his own lines, now -- this campaign needs to be focused on John Kerry, front and centre, and no toe-scuffing or shilly-shallying or gracious self-effacement. To counter the Bush persona, he needs to create a cult of personality for himself and he has to do it in 217 days.
He needs a slogan like "The Kerry Way" or "It's time for the Kerry way" or some such phrase that focuses on himself. He can mention jobs and security and health care and the deficit and international alliances and all that other stuff in passing, but don't clutter things up. Don't make the mistake of thinking this campaign is about the issues. Its about being the person that the voters can "trust" -- and maybe this isn't so bad really. If 9.11 taught Americans one thing, its that shit happens, and so they must trust president to do the right thing. Their trust in Bush was misplaced, of course, but too many don't realize it -- they need to feel they can trust Kerry before they will vote for him.

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Gephardt? Give me a break! 

Political Animal says the rumours are flying about Dick Gephardt for VP -- this would be a disaster for Kerry's presidential run. Even Dick Cheney has more resonance with voters than Gelphardt does. And the GOP would again have a lengthy congressional record to dig up obscure votes for taxes or against the military. Kerry needs someone young, sexy, articulate -- either Brad Pitt or John Edwards. Remember, guys, its about winning the Gore states plus two.

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Well, of course 

IRAQ: War Launched to Protect Israel - Bush Adviser
This is hardly even news, really, though perhaps not well understood in the US. When the Bush government has talked about Saddam Hussein as a threat, a leader of terrorism, giving weapons to terrorist groups, the danger of his WMD, and so forth, it was his anti-Israel activities and his credibility in the Arab street as a threat to Israel that they perceived to be the problem. Now that he is gone, it is Israel that has gained some breathing room and, with American soldiers in Iraq, a bulwark against aggression from Syria and Iran. You could argue, I guess, about whether this is a good thing for the world or the region, or not, but this has always been what its all about.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes 

9/11 uproar focuses on enigmatic Rice
This has gone on so long that I'm convinced there is some reason why either Rice or Bush is scared of Rice testifying in public, under oath -- something she cannot spin or explain or deny. I have no idea what it could be, but there is some question she expects to be asked that she does not want to answer in public.

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It's Paul Martin's Liberal Party now, not Chretien's 

John Ibbitson's column "Chrétien assails Martin in a most diplomatic tone"
Well, here I go again with Ibbitson -- honestly, I bear the man no ill will, but he's been around Ottawa for too long, I think -- "The problem with Paul Martin's decision to effectively run in opposition to the Liberal Party is that the Liberal Party could decide to run in opposition to him." Bunk! Chretien is NOT the Liberal Party anymore, as much as he may want to believe it. And if Chretien wants to embarass himself by sniping away from the sidelines and making cutsey speeches about how well he would have handled the sponsorship scandal, let him blow -- Martin should welcome this, because it will remind Canadians exactly why they were so disgusted with the Chretien's duck-and-cover style, and so happy to see Chretien go. Martin is cleaning the stables, a Herculean task, and yes, it gets a little messy sometimes.

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Old bums exit there; new bums enter here 

UPI: Chalabi's road to victory So, it took 600 American deaths, 3000 troops legless or armless, likely more than 10,000 Iraquis killed, and tens of thousands injured, just so Ahmad Chalabi, another man with a moustache, could take over in Iraq.
UPI writes "Chalabi, barely a year since he returned to his homeland after 45 years of exile, has emerged as the power behind a vacant throne. He also appears to have impressive amounts of cash at his disposal and a say in which companies get the nod for some of the $18.4 billion earmarked for reconstruction." And exactly how is this guy ever going to win an election? He can't do it. So if he becomes Prime Minister, as this article says is likely, a free election will never actually be held in Iraq. But you can bet that the US army will turn over to Chalabi all the prisons and the torture chambers which they have never actually closed down. Chalabi will need them, because otherwise he would not be able to hold on to power.
Oh, its just too depressing to write about anymore. . .

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Monday, March 29, 2004

Who audits the auditors? 

Liberals brace for another report from auditor who exposed sponsorship scam: "After striking political gold with Fraser's Feb. 10 report on a relatively tiny advertising program, opposition critics are giddy with anticipation about potential foul-ups in a $7.7 billion program. "
The Conservatives had better remember that those who live by the sword die by the sword too.
Of course, after years of Mulroney court cases, when the RCMP and the Justice department went nuts sniffing out a scandal that wasn't there, I guess I can understand the Conservatives trying to get a little of their own back.
But I think the Auditor General has to tone it down a notch -- as a taxpayer, I don't think we should be so hysterical about every single dollar spent -- I don't want to be spending a thosand of my tax dollars making sure that a hundred dollars is properly spent. Perhaps next time, the Auditor General should audit the government auditors, to make sure that we haven't gone so audit-crazy that half of our civil service is being paid to audit the other half.

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Shorter John Ibbitson: I'm shocked - shocked! - that parliament would do some business 

John Ibbitson How much more 'in extremis' could things get?
First, let it be said that I know nothing about the Flemish Cap issue. But neither does John Ibbitson, apparently, though he doesn't let this minor fact deter him from heaping sarcastic scorn on parliament for passing a motion last week dealing with Canadian sovereignty over this area of the Grand Banks. Instead of dealing with issues which actually affect the day-to-day lives of thousands of Canadians, I guess parliament is supposed to be dedicated 24/7 to pounding the government over the sponsorship scandal, and how dare they do anything else. Particularly, how dare they vote on an issue which, to understand it, would require John Ibbitson to actually do some research, like phone a few people in Newfoundland and find out what the issue is so that he could so inform the rest of us.


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Sunday, March 28, 2004

The post-political  

" Terrorists Don't Need States":Fareed Zakaria quotes an unnamed government official: "States have been getting out of the terror business since the late 1980s. We have kept many governments on the list of state sponsors for political reasons. The reality is that the terror we face is mostly unconnected to states." Zakaria continues "Today's terrorists are harbored in countries like Spain and Germany --entirely unintentionally. They draw on support not from states but private individuals -- Saudi millionaires, Egyptian radicals, Yemenite preachers."
This article makes me wonder about whether we are seeing something new developing.
Just as in art, when post-modernism overturned modernism, and in sociology, when post-feminism destabilizes feminism, so to in politics, perhaps we are facing a post-political century in which "isms" themselves are rejected.
Perhaps the new terrorists are rejecting both despotism and democracy, which both represent a state approach to social organization.
It would be difficult for any committed politician to conceive of people whose basic orientation is apolitical, but this seems to be what Zakaria is actually describing -- terrorists whose goal is NOT to take over a state, but rather to destabilize it, to detach people from allegience to it, to demonstrate the state's irrelevance to their lives.
In favour of what? I'm not at all sure, perhaps the goal is the creation of a new allegiance to the family, the tribe, maybe the region, but nothing bigger than that.

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Thursday, March 25, 2004

Strange days indeed 

Central Planning - Bush went for a 10-strike and missed 9/11. By William Saletan:
"Life is complex and surprising. You can't anticipate everything in a big plan. You have to accept that, and you have to organize yourself to catch the things your plans will miss."
Or, in the words of John Lennon "Life is what happens to you when you're making other plans."
The fatal flaw of Bush and his government is that they don't understand how anything actually works, including the government of which they are nominally in charge. Saletan continues "For failing to understand this lesson before 9/11, perhaps Bush and his national security team can be forgiven. For refusing to accept the same lesson now, after all the deaths and all the hearings, they cannot."
Ideologues cannot learn -- they refuse to change their ideas because that would mean losing their ideology. They think the world is divided into people who are right and people who are wrong. And their hurbis is also thinking that they are the ones who are always right.
Somebody told me there'd be days like these . . .

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Republican means never having to say you're sorry 

washingtonpost.com: Media Notes Extra: "In an age when seemingly everyone wants to score partisan points (see Clarke, Richard), proceeding on the basis of what's good for the country seems old-fashioned, almost quaint. But we could use more of it in this snake pit of a capital."
Once again, the only time Kurtz complains about the tone in the Capital is when the Dems are the ones scoring the so-called "partisan" points -- look at that Clark, for heaven's sake, apologizing for 9.11 -- what a boor!! Only a secret closet Democrat would actually be sorry for the deaths of 3,000 Americans! And for the good of the country, of course, the Dems should quit telling the truth and go back to being mealy-mouthed losers -- that's what America needs today.

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No big deal, really 

TheStar.com - Martin knew of fund, ex-PM's aide says
Thanks, Eddie, for showing such loyalty to the party and government that kept you employed for how many years?
That said, there is nothing wrong with a government having a slush fund -- governments need it, as do corporations and every other organization -- because budgeting is neither exact nor precise, particularly given the lead times that governments must use. In your company, you likely call it "petty cash".

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Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Why the hysteria? 

CNN.com - Ex-White House aide defends 9/11 allegations - Mar 23, 2004
As my son pointed out, the Bush White House didn't have to respond with such hysteria over the Clark book. They could have just said that of course they were concerned about Iraq, its weapons, its destabilizing effect on the whole middle east, etc, etc. -- which has been exactly the justification for the whole war anyway. So why the hysteria?
I think I feel a conspiracy theory coming on here:
Take the Bush family ties to the Saudi royal family
+ the Saudi connection to Bin Ladens
+ Bush's derision for anything that Clinton or Gore thought was important, including the danger of Al Quaida
+ maybe, Bush being asked, quietly, either by his dad or by the Saudis, to back off Al Quaida and Osama because, after all, Clinton was really just wagging the dog, and Osama was on our side during the war with the Soviets, and the Taliban will let us put a pipeline through Afganistan if we act nicer to them.
So then, maybe, Bush did back off Al Quaida during his first months in office. Which turned out to be a horrible mistake. And maybe that why he wanted Iraq to be responsible for 9.11, not Bin Laden. And maybe that's why the Saudis had to be flown out of the country so quickly after 9.11, before they could say anything embarassing. And maybe that's why Bush became so terrified about Iraq and so fixated on the preemptive doctrine, because he didn't want to make that kind of mistake again. And maybe that's why he has been so reluctant about the 9.11 Commission. And maybe that why the reaction to Clark's book from the Bushies has been so hysterical.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Random thoughts about Martin and Harper 

Conservatives prepared to think as one: The Globe and Mail
I have wanted to write something coherent about the Canadian political scene lately, with Harper's star rising as he comes off a leadership victory, and Martin's star apparently falling as he gets mired in the mess Chretien left him with. But all I have right now is some random thoughts:
- for the first time in 35 years, I will vote Liberal in the next federal election. I think Martin's heart is in the right place, and he has the leadership skills to actually implement some of the major political reforms this country needs. He reminds me a little of Roosevelt -- rich, patrician upbringing, intellectual, but he actually listens to people, he wants to make things better for them. And I don't think people appreciate how radical and risky some of his ideas are -- giving more authority and responsibility to backbenchers, making parliamentary committees independent of the Prime Minister's Office -- its revolutionary, I think -- he has the potential to be one of Canada's great prime ministers. I just hope he gets the chance to prove it.
- if Martin wants to get any seats in the West, he had better scrap the gun registry. Helping the beef industry won't get him any political credit, because helping out an industry in trouble is what the federal government is supposed to do anyway. (Chretien always made such a big deal about doing things like this, as though he had a choice. But Canadians know that any government should do what Martin has now done for the cattle growers, that's why we elect these guys in the first place!) No, only dismantling the gun registry would show the west that Martin gets it. In theory, a gun registry is a good idea, of course, but this particular registry is so messed up, it's hopeless. Sometimes amputation is the only solution.
- its impressive that Harper has managed to unite the right, for the first time in 20 years. He's quiet but he is obviously determined, too, and he must have some political skills which I hadn't appreciated before, and that's also going to be good for the country. However, I was totally disgusted with the Conservatives talking about an alliance with the Bloc Quebecois if they get into a minority government in the next election. How opportunistic.

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Monday, March 22, 2004

A thousand stories 

According to Google News Canada, there are now more than a thousand news stories online about the Clark accusations that Bush and the national security teams ignored Al Quaida before 911, and about the White House trying to rebut the charges. If they do that as poorly as they did tonight on Hardball -- when the deputy national security adviser, whose name I did not catch, showed up trying to blow smoke about an Amazon printout that Clark's book was supposed to be published in mid-April, not mid-March, thereby somehow proving his testimony was being hyped or something, it was pathetic -- it shows how scared they are about what Clark is saying. No smoke without fire.

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It's About Time 

Finally, the Wall Street Journal does some actual reporting about the Bush administration on 9-11, as opposed to the usual cheerleading.
Most revealing is Bush's Seven-Minute Freeze: ". . . uncut videotape of the classroom visit obtained from the local cable-TV station director who shot it, and interviews with the teacher and principal, show that Mr. Bush remained in the classroom not for mere seconds, but for at least seven additional minutes." It's even more chilling to watch the videotape. The Memory Hole has it.
Here he is, the decisive leader in action, at the 1:15 mark (one minute and 15 seconds after Card has told him "America is under attack!":
And here he is again, at the 4:50 mark:

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What would President Gore have done? 

CBS News | Did Bush Press For Iraq-9/11 Link? | March 21, 2004
Read this article, then re-read it substituting "President Gore" for President Bush -- doesn't work, does it? "President Gore" was knowledgeable about the Bin Laden danger and took it seriously; his people would not have been re-fighting the cold war, either. He would have followed the Clinton example and begun running an active situation room, particularly when the "chatter" began to increase in June, 2001. And then, who knows what might have been accomplished if the CIA and FBI had been communicating, if the National Secutiry Council had done its job, if...and if, and if...

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Sunday, March 21, 2004

The vast right-wing conspiracy 

Jerry Landay writes a brilliant article in Media Transparency: "The Apparat -- George Bush's Back-Door Political Machine"
I have wondered why, when so many nations of the world, including Canada, are moving toward a more liberal, open, diverse society, the United States seems to be moving backwards. This article explains what has happened in the United States over the last 30 years, the ideology and tactics behind it -- its frightening to realize how entrenched this is, how strategic, how organized -- and how difficult it will be and how much it will cost to turn this around now. Bill Gates, your country needs you!
You know, when I first read Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale 20 years ago, I thought her description of a facist American society went a little over the top. Futurist fiction is supposed to be based on an extrapolation of current trends, and so my enjoyment of the book was tempered by my belief that there was no way the US would ever allow itself to become the kind of state she described in this book. I thought that American pride in their country as a beacon of human and civil rights to the world, their national character of individualism, plus a self-confident swagger which skewered fools and ridiculed government bureaucrats, meant they would never allow a totalitarian political system to develop. More fool I.

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Saturday, March 20, 2004

You take the blond and I'll take the one with the turban 

Slate describes the Guantanamo tribunals as a legal Frankenstein bringing to mind an updating of Young Frankenstein -- starring
Bush as young Dr. Frederik Frankenstein -- "Pardon me, boy, is this the Transylvania Station?"
Rumsfield as Igor - "Could be worse. Could be raining!"
Powell as Inga- "Roll, roll, roll in ze hay"
Rice as Elizabeth - "Sweet mystery of life, I think I've found you"
Dick Cheney as Frau Bluecher - "Neiggghhh!"
Tony Blair as the Police Inspector - "To the castle!"
and Bin Laden as the Monster - "Putting on the Rizzz"
"It could work!"

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American faith 

Medea Benjamin - A Day For Marching
A powerful statement about the human side of war in Iraq. One thing missing, however -- she could also have written about the terrible long-term effect this war will have on America's faith in itself as a nation of justice, civil rights and peace. When your nation acts as the Bush Administration has done following 911, it shows how brittle, how shallow, and how easily broken, was America's national faith -- one test, and it shattered. And if Bush wins in November, after what he has done to America, then America will be truly lost.

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The picture that CNN would not run 


She almost looks like she's asleep, doesn't she, until you realize that the top of her skull is gone. This photo is from an early time in the war, and its broadcast on Aljazeera inflamed the Arab world. The American media would not use it.

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Friday, March 19, 2004

That's three! 

Quebec appeal court paves way for gay marriage
This is terrific -- now Quebec joins Ontario and BC as a place where gay people can get married. It's wonderful. I love my country!

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No, and No 

MSNBC - A barometer for candidate Bush:
". . . what will happen next time the United States determines there is a threat so serious it must be removed even before provocation.
"Will the world believe it?
Will even America's most stalwart allies like Great Britain risk the enormous political backlash to support us again? "

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I thought this would happen -- another botched arrest 

MSNBC - All charges dropped against Army chaplain:
Pardon my cynicism, but this is not surprising at all -- after the hysterical media frenzy about these charges, they have come down to nothing at all. Of course, they won't actually admit that, just to make sure that Yee's reputation remains blackened forever --
"Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, commander of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, dismissed the more serious charges Friday, citing national security concerns that would arise from the release of evidence"
-- why do I think that the "concern" was that they had no evidence? This, remember, was what happened with the Los Alamos scientist who was supposed to have leaked secrets to the Chinese -- they tried the "national security" excuse that time, too, but a judge would not stand for it and the testimony showed their case was a tissue of fabrications.

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How pathetic is this? 

"One Year Later: It Wasn"t Us" from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:
This great article (thanks to War in Context for the link) lists the five most recent Bush administration talking points about the war
"1) the war was a continuation of Clinton policy;
2) everyone thought Saddam had illicit weapons;
3) officials just repeated what the intelligence agencies told them;
4) they never said the threat was imminent; and
5) they never asserted an operational link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. "
In other words
1. it was him
2. it was them
3. it wasn't us
4. we didn't say it
5. we didn't do it
What a pathetic bunch they are. Rumsfield's Sunday talk show appearance hit a new low, and made me suspect Altzheimers -- it appeared that he actually didn't remember having said what he said 18 months ago, when he DID use the "immediate" word.
But I guess anything said pre-war is now "inoperative" as the Nixon White house would have called it.

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Thursday, March 18, 2004

Isn't it ironic? 

the road to surfdom: Powell, before the war:"And there are many other nations that for a variety of reasons don't want to be publicly identified, but are also a part of the coalition of the willing." Tim Dunlap, today: "Pretty funny that they wouldn't tell us who was in the COW and they're now running around screaming at John Kerry for not telling them which leaders told him they don't want Bush reelected."
Thanks, Calpundit, for pointing this one out.

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Sometimes I am so ashamed 

CNEWS - Canada: Saskatoon police officer says he knows nothing about teen's frozen death
The Stonechild inquiry has been going on for several months now, off and on. And as the testimony has come out day after day, I don't think there is anyone now who doesn't believe that officers of the Saskatoon police drove this 17-year-old drunken, abusive, screaming Aboriginal boy out of the city and left him in a field on that night a decade ago, where he froze to death.
They may never be able to put a court case together -- the RCMP tried for a year before this, and there doesn't seem to be enough clear-cut evidence anymore for a jury to find anyone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
But the testimony at the inquiry has convicted them nonetheless -- too many lies, too much wilful incompetence, too many notebooks missing, too many files empty, too much "we never discussed it", too much "I can't remember", day after day whenever the police testified, from the deputy chief on down.
Sometimes I am ashamed of my city.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The party line - vote for Bush or the terrorists will have won 

OpEd Columnist: Al Qaeda's Wish List
No wonder David Brooks is hysterical.
Spain just turfed a government that had arrogantly ignores contrary opinions, that led them into war in Iraq, and that tried to play politics about the terrorist attacks. Sound familiar?
Another point about this article -- the new right-wing line is emerging, that America has to prove it is steadfast by staying the course and supporting Bush, that a vote against Bush is a vote for the terrorists. Brooks writes "...I do know that reversing course in the wake of a terrorist attack is inexcusable. I don't care what the policy is. You do not give terrorists the chance to think that their methods work. You do not give them the chance to celebrate victories. When you do that, you make the world a more dangerous place, for others and probably for yourself." In other words, voting for Kerry will give the terrorists a victory.
Kerry needs to respond quickly with a clear message about this -- the "foreign leaders" remark is hurting him with jingoistic American voters, who are also the most likely to respond to the "stay-the-course" line.
They need a Made-in-America reason to vote for Kerry and they need it fast.




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Or maybe it is you, not me 

Opinion of U.S. Abroad Is Falling, Survey Finds :
Appropos of my post, below, some bad news from the Pew poll -- "...the poll showed some increased support in Muslim countries for suicide bombings and other forms of violence; 82 percent of Jordanians, 40 percent of Moroccans, 41 percent of Pakistanis and 15 percent of Turks said such violence could be justified. Majorities in Pakistan and Jordan had favorable views of Osama bin Laden, while majorities in Jordan and Morocco said attacks against Americans and Westerners in Iraq are justified. "

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The "It's not you, its me" explanation 

LiberalOasis: LO quotes Jason Burke :"The call is direct to Muslims, "Rise up and together we will be able to free ourselves, liberate ourselves, have a just society."
And then LO continues "That's why it doesn't matter to them who is in office in Spain, or any other Western country. In the end, it's not about us, it's about themselves."
This has a ring of truth.
Seinfeld once did an episode on the break-up line "It's not you, its me" -- the line George uses when he breaks off with a girlfriend. She's baffled, of course, but its true -- he's breaking up with her not because of anything she did or said -- he's really not thinking about her at all, but of himself and his own plans or just his own convenience.
Countries also have their own agendas too, which are both obvious and necessary to their own citizens but are often incomprehensible to people on the other side of the world. A perfect example -- India and Pakinstan's 30-year fight about Kashmir -- deeply meaningful to them but baffling to everyone else. Another example is the "troubles" in Northern Ireland about battles fought and lost 300 years ago, forgotten by everyone else in the world. And I am sure that the Quebec separatist movement, which has dominated Canadian politics for the last 40 years, is mystifying even to border-state Americans, much less to people in, say, Malaysia.
How does this perspective help us in battling terrorism? At first glance, it makes it appear hopeless -- if terrorists are blowing things up in other countries just to inspire their own supporters, then how can the other country hope to settle things? The examples above are not encouraging, either, considering how long and lovingly grievances can be kept, even nurtured, from generation to generation.
But there are, I think, two helpful observations to be made.
First, we have to stop "taking revenge", no matter how justified the anger -- history shows the longer a revenge cycle goes on, the more intractable the situation becomes. Eventually, revenge has to stop -- like it has already, I hope, for the most part, in Kashmir, in Belfast, and in Montreal.
Second, we have to focus on kick-starting indigenous economic development -- create decent jobs, build housing, start businesses, increase food production. Easier said than done, I know, particularly with the IMF stomping around the world, but people who see a reasonable prospect of economic security for themselves and, more importantly, for their children, won't be entranced by nihilism and won't aspire to martrydom.


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Monday, March 15, 2004

Turn, Turn, Turn 

Kerry Assails Bush Record on Security and Terrorism:
Do I sense a change in tone here, an admission by the NYT that the democrats actually have something important to say?
"Mr. Kerry, in his address to the firefighters' union, showed again that he was unwilling to be pre-empted by President Bush on security issues. He said the times demanded 'truly dedicating ourselves to homeland security, not using it as a political prop.' "

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War is how we know who the bad guys are 

Brendan O'Neill: Gloating at Madrid's graveside:
". . . what kind of people define their mission, their political vision, their entire belief system, in response to bloody, meaningless, nihilistic murder?The war against terror is not some gallant battle for the twenty-first century; it is not the equivalent of the Second World War for today's generation of political leaders, as Tony Blair suggested. Rather, it is a projection of domestic uncertainty into the international arena; it is a search for clear battles between good and evil where none exists at home, a desperate attempt to find a higher moral plane somewhere - anywhere - when there is such deep moral and political uncertainty on the domestic front.
"Political leaders and pro-war commentators may not know what they are for or where they are heading or where they stand in the Culture Wars or what ever happened to tradition and morality or why every domestic initiative ends in crisis or why major institutions are always beset by scandal....but they do know one thing for certain. They Are Against Terrorism. They are opposed to mass murder, to nihilistic bombings, to the killing of 200 innocents as they travelled to work on a Thursday morning. This is the morality of the lowest common denominator, an empty political vision defined in response to empty terrorist acts. To paraphrase Tony Blair: 'It is as pathetic as the terrorists are opportunistic.'"
Thanks to Antiwar.com for its link to this terrific blog post.


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311 

THE WAR IN CONTEXT: Woodward's comments about the Spanish election:
"March 11 may come to be seen as the day that America lost its war on terrorism. The notion that Iraq is the main front in the war on terrorism and that Americans are dying over there so that we won't have to fight the terrorists here was an idea that exploded in Madrid . . . " and how could something like this be stopped in Italy or England or the US? They apparently used cell phones to set off the explosives.

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No Answer 

TIME.com: -- Raising the Volume:
" Bush has to answer those within his party who are increasingly questioning the agility and management of his campaign"
And how 'bout answering those OUTSIDE his party who are increasingly questioning the CONTENT and POLICIES of his government? Nope, I don't think he can do it.

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Sunday, March 14, 2004

How crass 

CNEWS - World: U.S. officials muster offensive on Madrid bombing: So do Rice and Powell think this is another trifecta? At least Canadian Press makes the point: "there was little consideration of a fundamental question that's critical for President George W. Bush as he seeks re-election this year: did his Iraq invasion breed more terrorism and is the United States to blame for the latest horror? "

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Read it and weep 

We locked you up in jail for 25 years and you were innocent all along? That'll be L80,000 please - [Sunday Herald]:
This is unbelievably mean -- "The government seems intent on punishing innocent people. The state wants to be paid for making a mistake. It's hard to believe someone actually thought this policy up. If you tell a child about this they will think it insane. Only a sick mind could have invented this policy, yet the government is fighting to retain the right to act like this. It is cruelty with intent. They seem to want to punish people for having the audacity to be innocent"
Thanks to What Really Happened for the link.

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Straws in the wind 

MSNBC - Iraq One Year Later Front Page
I just noticed MSNBC has a new section "Objective: Peace - Iraq one year later". I found this to be an interesting title -- a year ago, nobody in the media was talking about peace being an objective. Anybody who said something like this was "unpatriotic".
One would think, coming up on the first anniversary, that we would have had a surfeit of heartwarming stories about how well the American boys are doing in making Iraq safe for Iraqis, how cute the Iraqis are in taking their first baby steps toward democracy by electing a mayor here or there, how little stores are starting up, how noble it is to be reopening schools ("The schools, boss, the schools!"). But, come to think of it, I haven't seen this kind of media cheerleading for some months now. No more talk about enduring freedom or Iraq liberation or all the other fine catchphrases the media jumped on a year ago.
And I haven't seen politicians and generals whining that there's all sorts of good news going on in Iraq that the media isn't covering. When they did this six or eight months ago, it sort of backfired, didn't it, when the media actually started covering how brutally the troops were treating the people, how poorly those schools had been repaired, how much the so-called ordinary Iraqis wanted the US to leave. In fact, the new official attitude seems to be that the less coverage given to Iraq, the better.
So now, here we are, talking about peace.
Too bad peace wasn't the US objective a year ago.
But the bombs keep going off and the soldiers keep dying -- a few days ago, a general said that the number of US soldier deaths is declining -- a statement like this always seems to "bring it on" in Iraq. Over the last two days another six have died.
How many deaths does it take till you know that too many people have died?

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Friday, March 12, 2004

The health police are looking for you! 

The Globe and Mail: Obesity to top smoking as #1 killer
When they came for our cigarettes, I said nothing.
When they came for our cheeseburgers, I said nothing.
Next they'll come for our wine, and there won't be anyone left to say anything.

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And he would know 

Yahoo! News - Powell Says UK Guantanamo Prisoners Not Abused
And he would know, of course, because he has such a close working relationship with the Pentagon and Rumsfield, I'm sure they tell him everything.

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Analyzate This! 

Yahoo! News - "Analyzating" Bush's Grey Matter:
"Bush's penchant for talking about good and evil and for saying countries are either with us or against us in the war on terrorism may also reflect a learning disorder. His professed distaste for nuance could stem from an inability to process the complex sides of an issue. 'To analyze that, you have to analyze the language,' says Bonnie Rattner, a speech and language pathologist in San Mateo, Calif. "
So now its really not his fault! And if he loses the election, does he sue the electoral college for not providing accomodation for his disability?

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Another media circus coming up 

CNEWS - World: Woman denies charges in C-section case This may be a "thin edge of the wedge" issue which turns out to be about the state forcing women to have surgery to deliver babies. Then again, it may be a case where a baby died because of a parent's negligence. I am waiting to hear more.
Having had two sections myself, they are no big deal, really. And even if it was a more dangerous surgery, I cannot understand why anyone (woman or man) wouldn't have surgery when told that their baby's life depended on it -- why would anyone think of this as a "choice"? Now, no one could forcibly hold her down for surgery -- but once she decided not to have it, and then the baby died, of course she will be charged with negligence, just like anyone would be whose inaction caused the death of someone else.
That's my opinion anyway; I could be wrong.

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Thursday, March 11, 2004

great title, great article 

Salon.com by Blumenthal Bush waves the bloody shirt:
And I always thought Bush's "I hit the trifecta" reference to war, recession and national emergency was one of the most boorish, insensitive and offensive statements ever made.

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Credit 

Sorry, I keep forgetting to credit -- the Boston Globe article, below, was from The War in Context, a terrific site.

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I wonder when the lies will start 

Boston Globe / Mud tossed at Kerry might stick to Bush I wondered when someone would notice this. Kuttner's article points out that all the RNC talking points about Kerry can be applied more truthfully to Bush (rich kid, inconsistent, etc) I think these attacks will fade away, because even the more-conservative talking heads are noticing them.
So over the next seven months, what are the Republicans going to do? I think they will start lying about Kerry. And they will try to get some blog or media outlet somewhere to print it so then it will become "news", and everyone else can print it, too.
And I think the lies will be personal ones, because who really cares about dreary, complicated, obscure Senate debates a decade ago. But sex, drugs, rock and roll -- now there's something that people can sink their teeth into. So the lies will be personal lies -- cowardice in Vietnam, for example (I think this one is already out there), or drug addiction or alcholism or surfing porn sites on the net. Or something steamy about his wife or kids. Or that he's being investigated for stealing money or that he once joined the Hells Angels or made a donation to a serial killer defense fund or applied for a sex change operation. Or maybe it will be a whisper campaign about illness, that he's hiding cancer or the like. Or maybe some so-called former friend will get onto the talk shows about how Kerry cheated him in some business deal. Or maybe there will be a press conferences to announce that Kerry is being endorsed by his good friends Larry Flynt and Heidi Fleiss.
And actually, I should shut up, because I wouldn't want to give anyone any stupid ideas.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2004

What fools these mortals be 

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: Good article here: "I've been asked by many people recently how John Kerry will manage to explain his vote for the Iraq war resolution and subsequent criticism of the war itself. " Were the Kerry critics not living on this planet over the last two years? Well, I was, and what I remember is hearing Bush and everyone around him say repeatedly that they hadn't decided to go to war yet and they wouldn't go to war unless it was "necessary" -- they said it over and over, and, way back then, most people actually believed them (amazing, isn't it!) But that's why millions of people around the world marched against the war, in the belief that their actions could make a difference, that Bush would listen to them and would consider their views when he made his decision -- more fools they, of course!

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Tuesday, March 09, 2004

.

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They're back! 

Yahoo! Sports - MLB - Photos
I wasn't a baseball fan until my daughter played competitive softball -- she was pretty good, too. Watching her as a catcher (the most interesting position in the game) from the age of five until she was 18, taught me the about this field of dreams. And then, of course, the Blue Jays won the series, twice!!!, and that was perfect, a dream come true.

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Right on 

Yahoo! News - MARTHA PAYING FOR SINS OF REAL BIG-BIZ CROOKS
Hey, I said this the day of the verdict. And now that the daily "perp walk" frenzy is over, maybe more people will come to their senses like this too. But Martha is nothing if not tough -- she will survive!


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Oh, give me a break! 

Yahoo! News - 1913 law could foil plans for gay marriages in Mass.
Looks like someone in Massachusetts is trying to come up with some spanners to throw into the works. This is ridiculous -- first of all, the Mass supreme court said that gay marriage was constitutional This trumps the other laws of the state unless those laws specifically address the constitutional issue. Particularly irrelevant are laws which have apparently been ignored for 90 years. And this "bride" and "groom" quibble is silly -- after all, does anyone care now whose name goes in which slot? And likewise the "mystery" of what to do about the german measles test -- if state officials want to get bitchy about it, men can be tested for german measles exposure just like women can.
The whole story is just another example of what gay people have to put up with.

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Counterspin is back! 

Hooray! Counterspin Central: The unofficial "FIRST AMENDMENT ZONE."

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Nader in debates? 

What do you want to bet that the republicans do whatever they can to have Ralph Nader participate in the debates along with Kerry, because they want to raise Nader's profile as high as they can, to persuade as many people as possible to vote for Nader instead of Kerry. Op-Ed Contributor: The Next Nader Effect Thanks to War in Context for the link.

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Kerry: "ready, trustworthy, creative" 

Liberal Oasis "Memo to Staff: Help Frame Kerry" is a terrific piece. LiberalOasis: Archives For The Week of March 7, 2004
Kerry is not complicated or nuanced, he is
-- “professional”
-- “prepared”
-- “responsible”
-- “thorough”
-- “patient”
-- “steely”
-- “steady”
-- “ready”
-- “creative problem-solver”
-- “doesn’t talk down to the public”
-- “can handle complex challenges” (world problems can be complex, just not the candidate)
-- “believes in facts, not bluster”
-- “trust with life-or-death decisions”
Great stuff -- I would support the "ready, trustworthy, creative" line -- hope Kerry or his staff read LO..

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Monday, March 08, 2004

No wonder Americans are pissed 

Paul Krugman: Promises, Promises "What you see in this chart is the signature of a corrupted policy process, in which political propaganda takes the place of professional analysis."

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400 lb gorilla 

Baghdad Burning: "The annoying thing is that your average Arab knows much more about American culture and history than the average American knows about Arabs and Islam."
Yes, Riverbend, you do know more about America than they know about you. There is hardly a country in the world, Canada included, where this is not true. Its partly due to the global reach of their TV shows, and partly due to their military and economic reach. It also used to be due, as well, to their good example as a land of the free, Bill of Rights, and so forth.
But not anymore. This is why what has happened to America in the last three years is so tragic -- they used to be an example of democracy as well -- now, with Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, Enron, war in Iraq, shipping people to other countries for torture, and so forth, they have lost the moral high ground. Its sad. (Thanks to War in Context for the Riverbend link.)

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Not if you don't vote for him 

USATODAY.com - Kerry ahead of Bush in poll: "� 52% say they think Bush will win the election. "

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We let the dogs out!! 

Huskies win CIS men's volleyball title
Yay, dogs. That's my team!

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Sunday, March 07, 2004

Sunday Talk Show Breakdown 

is my favorite weekly read, because I don't usually have time to watch these shows myself, and I appreciate LOs viewpoint. LiberalOasis

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Paul Martin is NOT an idiot 

CNEWS - Looming vote causes Martin pause before accepting White House invite So why would Paul Martin risk his seats in the west on the (unlikely) reopening of the US border to Canadian beef? And why would Bush risk any electoral votes on this, either?
Bush already got slapped down for his Latino immigration initiative, and it might have actually benefited him inside US borders; he won't risk doing any more favours for neighbours which cannot possibly help him. As for Martin, he's already had his election campaign sabatoged by Chretien's sponsorship scandal; he won't put the American agriculture department in charge of his western agenda.
So I think they won't be meeting anytime soon.


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This sums it up 

MSNBC - The Fight for the High Ground
Great column -- because it articulates many things I felt but didn't know how to express. I have worried that Kerry's manner is too serious for the unpolitical -- give us more shots of the hockey game and the bike -- so I hope Alter is correct that he will grow on the public. He should adopt Ringo's line when asked why he looks sad all the time "It's just me face."

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D'oh! 

For the civil service, there's a basic conundrum in the sponsorship scandal. CNEWS - Auditor frets loss of trust in Ottawa
No civil servant ever got ahead by saying no to their minister. In fact, saying no means you are NOT doing your job of serving the public. As civil servants are reminded if they question a minister's order, the one person in the whole department who was elected by the public is the minister. Scandals like the sponsorship scandal are devastating to the civil service not because the public doesn't trust them anymore, but because they no longer trust themselves or their own judgment.

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Ain't it wierd?
Canadian gets record for world's tallest bicycle AtomicZombie - Extreme Machines!!

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Governing for dummies
Slate writes: Confidence Man - The case for Bush is the case against him. By William�Saletan:
"From foreign to economic to social policy, Bush's record is a lesson in the limits and perils of conviction. He's too confident to consult a map. He's too strong to heed warnings and too steady to turn the wheel when the road bends. He's too certain to admit error, even after plowing through ditches and telephone poles. He's too preoccupied with principle to understand that principle isn't enough. Watching the stars instead of the road, he has wrecked the budget and the war on terror. Now he's heading for the Constitution. It's time to pull him over and take away the keys."
When will Americans grasp the fact that Bush is fundamentally a stupid man? The reason he cannot change course is because he is not smart enough to see alternatives. He manufactures a straight path so that his decisions will be simple. He doesn't read history or philosophy or science, he has never travelled, he avoided all his life getting into any situation which would have tested his courage or endurance, he has no intellect, no curiosity, no depth, no engagement. With 911, suddenly a man who knew nothing about the world or why things happen was faced with an inexplicable horror. He didn't know what to do, except to try to simplify it to something he could understand. Such a man is easy to manipulate. His neocon advisors laid out a straight path toward the war they wanted. Because he had no ideas of his own about what to do, Bush gratefully took their path. He now happily calls himself a war president (whatever that means).
I know it is embarassing to think that, aided and abetted by your press corps, you elected an idiot as president. Canada once elected MacKenzie King, who was just as dumb (he talked frequently to his dead mother) and it took decades for Canada to admit how stupid he was. In the meantime, of course, thousands of Jews died during World War II because King wouldn't accept them as refugees.
Innocent people always pay the price when a nation elects an idiot.

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Saturday, March 06, 2004

Let him sue.
And I don't care even if he wins. At least Paul Martin won't give him his job back. CNEWS - Ex-minister at centre of sponsorship scandal mulls lawsuit We've had it up to here with Cretien's 'loyalty' to people who didn't deserve it, who abused the people's trust. Martin is loyal to his friends, too, but at least he realizes that his higher loyalty is toward the Canadian public.

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We won't have Sheila Copps to kick around anymore.
She should have taken the ambassadorship. CNEWS - Valeri beats Copps in Hamilton showdown

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Finally -- The Big Picture: Projected Electoral College Vote, 2004 I've been looking for some analysis like this -- though the electoral systems are different, the "popular vote" is somewhat meaningless compared to the electoral college (US) or riding (Canada) vote. So I get frustrated reading 1,000-person election polls in both our countries which don't factor in the locations of support. In Canada, support in the four western provinces for a party is often meaningless in the end, because we have so few ridings compared to Ontario and Quebec. That said, a candidate with popularity of 60 per cent or more in either country will win. Its when the polls show popularity in the 45 to 55 per cent range (where Bush and Kerry are now, depending on which poll you read) that the location of their support becomes crucial.

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The joke's on us
This is bizarre. Yahoo! News - Journalist Novak Poking Fun at CIA Leak What odd things to joke about -- I wonder if there were any jokes about Jayson Blair? Or is that too touchy a subject for any journalist to laugh about.

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Thugs for hire
Does anyone get the feeling that this type of thing will lead to long-term trouble for Iraq?Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | US contractor recruits guards for Iraq in Chile The US blames "foreign infiltrators" for some of the violence directed against its own troops (who are, of course, foreigners themselves in Iraq). But various news reports over the last couple of months indicate that mercenaries from all over the world are also flooding into Iraq as well, to act as "security" for all of the private contractors there. Its a new gold rush for thugs of all kinds, and I expect the Iraqis will have a terrible time getting rid of them.

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I remember

Salon.com | Another crude slur: "The free-fire zones, the use of napalm, the carpet-bombing and the assassination programs were all aspects of a guerrilla conflict that could not be prosecuted without killing thousands of civilians. Only by falsifying history -- and assuming that nobody will remember the truth -- can Kerry's right-wing critics claim that he somehow misled the country about what was happening in Vietnam. The smear depends on historical amnesia. "
My husband and I were agreeing the other night that no one younger than 55 (our age) can actually remember the Vietnam War anymore -- as one of the American professors at our university called it "that goddammed war". Even at the time, there were stupid, so-called patriotic movies like The Green Berets that glorified it. But there have been a few since that told it truthfully - The Deerhunter, Apocalypse Now. But I think most people under 40 think of the war as a personal story, like Good Morning, Vietnam, rather than a national horror. And I wonder now that the first rotation of troops are coming home from Iraq, what stories we will hear from them and whether they were doomed to repeat the history of Vietnam because it hasn't been remembered.

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Qu'est que "Intelligence"?
There's an old and racist joke which I cannot remember, but it ends with this catchphrase, What is "Intelligence"?
Good article in the Christian Science Monitor about politics and intelligence
WMD joins the Hall of Intelligence-Twisting Fame | csmonitor.com:
"The lesson that runs through these and other mishaps of US foreign policy is that policy ought to be built on intelligence and not the other way around. If intelligence is shaped or distorted to support predetermined policy, trouble is sure to follow."

Another name for "predetermined policy" is "wishful thinking".

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Friday, March 05, 2004

Kerry is our only hope
Sorry, I don't know how to add links yet so I cannot link to the recent Guardian article which said Kerry was the hope of the world. And one blog (I think it was Atrios) thought this was overstating it. But it wasn't.
For USA-watchers, like me, the Bush government is not just awful in and of itself, but dangerous for the whole world. If Bush is reelected, the arrogance of this administration coupled with its basic incompetence will drag us into war with Iran and North Korea, the huge US deficits will destroy Canada's economy as well as your own, and culture wars plus unrestrained right-wing repression will shatter your democracy.
Only one thing matters -- that Kerry wins the Gore states plus two.

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Poor Martha
On the facts as I read them during the trial coverage, I didn't believe the jury should convict, but the quotes in today's stories indicate Stewart jurors saw this trial as their opportunity to 'stand up for the little guy' -- so Stewart became the evil personification for Enron, Worldcom and all the stock market manipulators whose greed cost thousands their pensions. And in a jury trial, in these days of media-driven celebrity obsession, not testifying always seems to turn out to be a terrible mistake.

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Thursday, March 04, 2004

Well, here we go. I love reading blogs, so now I'm starting one.

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