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Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Russian 9/11

Beslan, North Ossetia is a place many people worldwide would never have found on the map a mere week ago. On Wednesday, September 1, 2004 it made headlines as one of the bloodiest terrorist attacks unfolded there. A group of terrorists presumably affiliated with Chechen terror groups stormed a school during the First School Day ceremony (September 1 is the day the school year begins in Russia). All those present,- the students, teachers and those attending the ceremony,- were taken hostage. The hostages were kept in horrendous conditions, mostly denied access to food and water which many consider proof of the conscious intent on the part of perpetrators to cause mass death of hostages. About 20 hostages, mostly adult males, are alleged to have been shot to death by the terrorists.

On Friday, September 3 an explosion occurred whose nature is not yet clear. Some sources say it was an accidental detonation of one of the many explosive devices the terrorists have rigged the compound with; others believe it was a detonation of one of the explosive belts several female hostagetakers were wearing. The explosion sent hostages fleeing, the hostagetakers opened fire on them, then the Russian security forces stormed the school compound, and now over 300 people are dead. Many hundreds are injured.

I will comment on this situation more in the coming hours and days, but for now I only want to note the double standards used world-wide in regards to terror attacks. The tragedy of Beslan is not rated as a pivotal event in history, the way many media sources labeled 9/11. Yet, in my opinion, the numbers of people involved are quite comparable to the number of casualties during 9/11. And the brutality of this attack, the choice of a target,- children,- and the fact that the intended victims were to first be tortured is, in my opinion, reason to say that this attack rivals 9/11 in horror if not exceeds it. Beslan is certainly no New York, but the human suffering is the same everywhere.

Zell Miller's Speech: The Parts I Could Not Cover Earlier

When I tried to report on the Senator Miller's RNC speech, there were parts I could not comment on in detail due to my lack of relevant knowledge. I am talking about the part of the speech when Senator Miller references defense-related resolutions authorizing the development and procurement of various weapon systems that, according to Senator Miller, Senators Kennedy and Kerry voted against.

Here we've got an insight into what those resolutions were, courtesy Don. This pretty much debunks the message Senator Miller tried to convey by means of those statements.

"Breaking the Silence"

This is a documentary by John Pilger, a well-known Australian investigative journalist. This film is a serious attempt at analyzing what the War on Terror is about,- who are we fighting and why.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Bush by Numbers

These numbers,- at least the ones I am aware of,- appear accurate. Of course, numbers are never the whole story,- but they certainly are an important part of it.

Collection: Law and Order

Guantanamo: Some Curious Details
posted by dikayasobaka @ 11:13 Friday, September 03, 2004

Terror Charges Dropped
posted by dikayasobaka @ 08:21 Friday, September 03, 2004

And These Guys May Not Quite Be So Bad Either

Since When Is Being a Soldier in a War a Crime?

No Big Deal, Just 40 Years

What Should Be Done With The "Enemy Combatants"?

Being a Doctor Has Always Been A Hard Job...

War on Terror and Gun Control

Is This The Way To Fight "The War on Terror"?

The Standard of Command Responsibility

Innocent? Who Cares...

Death Penalty: Pro And Con

Collection: Politics

There May Be Something to This Picture...

I don't know much about the Skull and Bones Society...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/18/2004 02:16:51 AM

PNAC Primer
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is a collection of documents outlining the doctrine that is a driving force behind many of Bush Administration's endeavours...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/17/2004 01:24:51 PM

Who is Richard Perle?
Here is a good article about a man who has mostly stayed in the shadows but has been a powerful conservative political player in Washington for many years...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/16/2004 01:04:14 PM

Uri Avnery on The Two Recent Public Letters in Israel
This is Uri Avnery's analysis of the two manifestos recently published in Israel...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/16/2004 01:28:47 AM

War Or Terror: What's Worse?
This is an interesting review of casualties of the "War on Terror" vs the losses the world suffered from terrorism itself in the recent decades...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/15/2004 02:47:08 PM

Bush by Numbers
These numbers,- at least the ones I am aware of,- appear accurate...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/3/2004 11:25:38 PM

"The Next Pink Slip Might Be Yours!"
That was the slogan for a three mile long "unemployment line" protest...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/3/2004 06:12:49 PM

The Man Who Appeared Happy about Starting a War
War is hell, and starting one is a tremendous burden, a responsibility few would be happy about. This is how most people would feel...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/3/2004 09:14:11 AM

Way to Go, Mr Barnes!
Somebody is finally about to tell it,- more likely than not, just the way it was...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/2/2004 08:40:41 PM

Collection: Terrorism

WRH: 911 Archive
A nice collection of 9/11 related links, courtesy
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/19/2004 01:00:17 AM

Ellen Mariani: The Story That Could Have Been Big
Ellen Mariani is suing "Bush et al". One would think that I need not go any further here...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/18/2004 03:05:06 AM

War Or Terror: What's Worse?
This is an interesting review of casualties of the "War on Terror"...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/15/2004 02:47:08 PM

"Breaking the Silence"
This is a documentary by John Pilger, a well-known Australian investigative journalist...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/4/2004 01:06:29 AM

Terror Charges Dropped
The much-touted terror case in Michigan is indeed collapsing. All terror-related charges have now been dropped.
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/3/2004 08:21:21 AM

9/11 Parable and Other Related Bits and Pieces
This page contains a lot of interesting stuff, including an article named "9/11 Parable" replaying a rough equivalent of 9/11...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/1/2004 06:14:30 PM

49.3% of New York City Residents Say US Government Had Foreknowledge of 9/11: Zogby Poll
The results of this Zogby poll are certainly music to my ears...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/1/2004 04:11:06 PM

And These Guys May Not Quite Be So Bad Either
Well, the government officials naturally would have a tendency to boast about every important terror related arrest...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/1/2004 04:04:29 AM

Collection: Social Issues

Rape in the Ranks
In his excellent article on the subject Col David Hackworth writes...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/21/2004 01:06:18 AM

"The Next Pink Slip Might Be Yours!"
That was the slogan for a three mile long "unemployment line" protest...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 9/3/2004 06:12:49 PM

A Good Article on PTSD
This is a good article on the psychological problems faced by some of the soldiers who served in Iraq.
posted by dikayasobaka @ 8/28/2004 04:58:10 PM

"There’s got to be a better way."
This is how Sheldon Richman concludes his excellent review on how centralization of government...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 8/24/2004 11:14:36 PM

On Honor, Race, Guns And Other Matters
Dennis Joyce, the author of this post, is a Black police officer and Chairman of the Southern Independence Party of Texas...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 8/23/2004 01:32:53 PM

Poverty, Isolation, Indifference...
These three seem to go hand-in-hand in today's America...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 8/23/2004 12:50:04 PM

Do You Want To Keep Your Job?
Well, then keep your mouth shut, at least when it comes to politics...
posted by dikayasobaka @ 8/22/2004 11:39:07 AM

"The Next Pink Slip Might Be Yours!"

That was the slogan for a three mile long "unemployment line" protest against the GOP policy. While I think the influence of the White House on the employment situation is greatly overstated, in regard to this particular administration such protest, and such emphasis, is not entirely off the mark. The reason for that is the inordinate merging of political and corporate elites in today's America, as well as the pronounced "corporate welfare" direction of the Bush Administration tax cuts.

Is NPR Being Taken over by Corporate Interests?

The NPR has recently received a donation of more than US$236 million from Joan B. Kroc, the widow of Ray A. Kroc of McDonald's. In her article, Lynette Clementson wonders how this massive cash infusion is going to affect the NPR.

Guantanamo: Some Curious Details

In its September 2, 2004 editorial The Los Angeles Times makes many good points about the military tribunals underway at the US Naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba. There is hardly anything in this article with which I find a need to disagree.

However, one detail especially caught my eye.
...The Arab interpreters were so incompetent that the proceedings resembled a game of "telephone," in which the message veered closer to gibberish with each repetition. Yet this game is about men's futures.
This certainly makes me think of Sibel Edmonds, an ex-FBI translator whose case I have covered in the past (see these links: 1, 2). Amongst other things, she mentions corruption and complete lack of professionalism amongst some of the FBI translators. Based on what The Los Angeles Times reports, this may be a problem whose scope is way beyond the confines of the FBI. And even if the time count began on September 11, 2001,- can anyone give me one legitimate reason why almost three years later critical translator positions are still staffed by utter incompetents?

The Man Who Appeared Happy about Starting a War

War is hell, and starting one is a tremendous burden, a responsibility few would be happy about. This is how most people would feel.

But President Bush seemed to see such a situation in a rather different way, according to this Mirror report.
...just seconds before he went on TV to tell the world war had started, he vigorously pumped his fist and declared: "I feel good." The extraordinary gesture was in stark contrast to the furrowed brow and look of concern he adopted for the subsequent broadcast.
As I have said before, Bush seems to have little appreciation for the gravity of death. This report further reinforces this claim of mine.

Terror Charges Dropped

The much-touted terror case in Michigan is indeed collapsing. All terror-related charges have now been dropped.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Way to Go, Mr Barnes!

Somebody is finally about to tell it,- more likely than not, just the way it was. Apparently, Ben Barnes is finally going mainstream to tell the story of George W Bush's Texas Air National Guard assignment.
Ben Barnes, the former lieutenant governor of Texas, will finally break his silence and talk to the press about what role he played in helping Bush get a coveted slot in the Texas Air National Guard in 1968.
Mr Barnes has already made his allegations public. However, this time he is going to speak to a much wider audience. Let us hope the millions watching the CBS's "60 Minutes" listen,- and listen good.

A Military Family Speaks Out

By any reasonable measure, it is probably not an easy feat to find a family more patriotic than that of Charlie C. Carlson II. As this letter from the family states,
As a military family with a combined total of 57 years of active service in the U. S. Army, myself, son, and daughter-in-law have accumulated over 80 combat medals, one or more of us have served in Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, El Salvador, Kosovo, Bosnia, and three of us served together during Desert Storm.
But after Command Sergeant-Major Carlson's son was punished just for voicing his opinion of President Bush, it appears that the whole family is changing its outlook on the military service, as well as its view of what is happening to their country.
For generations we have been a loyal and faithful military family, however with this recent action taken against a member of our family, we will no longer encourage military service to our future generations. In other words, we are going to do the same thing that Bush, Cheney, Wolfovitz, and most members of congress do, WE AIN’T SERVING NO MORE!!
And this paragraph about Sgt. Carlson's son is, I think, prophetic,- as unfortunate as this may sound.
His crime involved nothing more than expressing his personal political opinion as guaranteed under the Bill of Rights, the very document that he had risked his life defending. Our government claims to be fighting for democracy, however those who risk their lives for democracy are being denied their basic rights of freedom of speech and opinion. My friends, the Bill of Rights and democracy are dead under the Bush Administration. This is only a sampling of what will happen if this administration is re-elected.

Republicans Revising The Concept of "Purple Heart"

According to this report by Stewart Nusbaumer,
...on the floor of the Republican National Convention, Republican delegates proudly sported band-aids with little purple hearts in an attempt to diminish the significance of John Kerry’s military record and his three Purple Hearts--which stand in stark, embarrassing contrast to George Bush’s avoidance of the Vietnam War and his “yellow heart.”
Well, this is curious, to say the least. So, apparently some gurus at the convention seem to think they know better than both military officers and medical doctors in charge of awarding soldiers injured in battle their Purple Heart decorations. And, of course, as Mr Nusbaumer correctly observes,
According to retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, 3,700 Purple Hearts have been awarded in Iraq. Are Republicans mocking all 3,700 of our servicemen and women wounded in Iraq? Or only those they determine were not sufficiently wounded?

According to this former Marine grunt, how dare they laugh at my Purple Heart?

George Washington was correct: a wound is a wound, and that entitles one to the award. This decoration is not about the depth of the wound, not about the wound’s length, not about the quantity of blood that came from the wound. The Purple Heart recognizes the personal sacrifice of our troops without regard to the severity or the nature of the wound. This has been the official position of the U.S. military since the days of George Washington, and this is the correct position today.
This is not the first time combat veterans find themselves being smeared for political gains in the US in recent times. But, as they say, this just takes the cake. At least for now. But I wouldn't bet on the Republican smear machine not coming up with even dirtier tricks in the near future.

Zell Miller Is Certainly Entitled To His Opinions

I was certainly surprised by the lack of facts and logic in Zell Miller's speech at the Republican National Convention in New York City. The only real information that can be gleaned from it is the news of Zell Miller's four great grandchildren who have been born in the recent years. And while I am certainly happy for Senator Miller on the account of this exciting development, and wish his family all the best, I am troubled as to what to make of the rest of his speech,- other than consider it an emotional expression of support for George W Bush's reelection.

Miller seems to see things very differently from how other observers of all political affiliations view them.
Where is the bipartisanship in this country when we need it most?

Now, while young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrat's manic obsession to bring down our Commander in Chief.
Senator Miller, I don't know where the bipartisanship went. I guess bipartisan support for things like the USA Patriot Act, the use of force in Iraq and Afghanistan, the overwhelming support both major parties express for Israel,- and many other things I can't think of right now,- simply doesn't count. If that is how you approach this issue, Sir, then I guess you are right. And I don't see anything manic in trying to unseat a Commander in Chief who is at best incompetent, at worst a manipulator using his role to promote his personal agenda, not the security of the nation.

Senator Miller accuses both Massachusetts Senators, Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, of being weak on defense.
Together, Kennedy/Kerry have opposed the very weapons system that won the Cold War and that is now winning the War on Terror.

Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts.

The B-1 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, dropped 40 percent of the bombs in the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The B-2 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein's command post in Iraq.

The F-14A Tomcats, that Senator Kerry opposed, shot down Gadhafy's Libyan MIGs over the Gulf of Sidra. The modernized F-14D, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora.

The Apache helicopter, that Senator Kerry opposed, took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War. The F-15 Eagles, that Senator Kerry opposed, flew cover over our Nation's Capital and this very city after 9/11.

I could go on and on and on: against the Patriot Missile that shot down Saddam Hussein's scud missiles over Israel; against the Aegis air-defense cruiser; against the Strategic Defense Initiative; against the Trident missile; against, against, against.

This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces?

U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?
Well, to comprehensively analyze this speech point-by-point I would need to read all the relevant bills,- but even without that I would say that the Administration we've got today has certainly negated lots of security benefits of our superior firepower by politicizing intelligence,- and wherever politics rule, professionalism dies. Modern wars can not be won by arms alone, and this Administration has failed to win the war for hearts and minds. Also, with a faulty intelligence,- some may say, deliberately falsified intelligence,- victory becomes that much harder to attain. So to me George W Bush certainly does not look like a candidate those concerned with the national security issues ought to root for.

But Senator Miller seems to think different. So much so that
There is but one man to whom I am willing to entrust their [his great grandchildren's] future and that man's name is George Bush.
Wow, that's quite a statement. So, not one person,- not one of us, the almost 300 million strong crowd here in the US of A, cuts it? Wow, we must truly be a sorry lot.

Be that as it may, I certainly hope Senator Miller is in for a major disappointment this November. I also expect that disappointment to be beneficial for his great grandchildren and the rest of us.

That's Right, Rudy, They Don't Need To Know

According to a recent Village Voice article, New York's ex-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has transferred all of the city archive materials pertaining to his time in office to "The Fortress", a secure archiving location in Long Island City. According to Village Voice,

Virtually everything at the Fortress is public property, hijacked by the mayor in a secret agreement signed by George Rios, the city records commissioner he appointed. The agreement was executed amid a flourish of stadium and movie studio transactions for friends—on December 24, one of the final, busy days of an administration that departed with just as little regard for the law as when it governed. The 12-page contract was also signed by lawyer Saul Cohen, a longtime friend of Giuliani's, who lists himself as the president of the Rudolph W. Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs Inc., the institute incorporated on December 6 that now controls these records. The Voice obtained a copy of the agreement under the freedom-of-information laws after the Daily News reported the records transfer early this month.

Calling the "official papers" of Giuliani a matter of "great historical significance" and "unique value," the agreement acknowledges that "the documents are the property of the City" and that "under the City Charter," the Department of Records "is ultimately responsible for the preservation and organization" of these materials. Yet the contract conveys the records to a Giuliani nonprofit so new it has no board, no director, no site, and no identifiable archivist, permitting the center to catalog, organize, and "permanently" maintain them.

I am not 100% sure what all of that means, but I wouldn't be surprised if that essentially means that the public will hardly ever see or know what is stored at "The Fortress". And that includes the 9/11-related documents.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

9/11 Parable and Other Related Bits and Pieces

This page contains a lot of interesting stuff, including an article named "9/11 Parable" replaying a rough equivalent of 9/11 on the scale of a city, with a bank robbery being a substitute for the terror attack itself. I at times used similar comparisons while discussing the subject; however, it would take a lazy bum like myself forever to put them all together into a coherent essay, and naturally somebody beat me to it.

Also consider this curious detail to the real 9/11 saga, courtesy of the Center for Cooperative Research.

49.3% of New York City Residents Say US Government Had Foreknowledge of 9/11: Zogby Poll

The results of this Zogby poll are certainly music to my ears. No matter how much I revel in my role of a social outcast I must still secretly crave for those who share my thoughts and perceptions.

According to Zogby International, this poll commissioned by was the first of its kind conducted in the US. Polls along the same lines have been conducted in other countries, and some of those polls have revealed views similar to those of many New Yorkers are even more popular abroad. For instance, in May 2004 this Canadian poll commissioned by the International Citizens' Inquiry into 9/11 had 63% or respondents agreeing
...that “Individuals within the U.S. Government including the White House had prior knowledge of the plans for the events of September 11th, and failed to take appropriate action to stop them”.
The Zogby poll list many notable details that could give us some insight into the current state of our collective mind,- if not in the US overall, then at least in New York City.
Less than two in five (36%) believe that the 9/11 Commission had "answered all the important questions about what actually happened on September 11th," and two in three (66%) New Yorkers (and 56.2% overall) called for another full investigation of the "still unanswered questions" by Congress or Elliot Spitzer, New York's Attorney General. Self-identified "very liberal" New Yorkers supported a new inquiry by a margin of three to one, but so did half (53%) of "very conservative" citizens across the state. The call for a deeper probe was especially strong from Hispanics (75.6%), African-Americans (75.3%) citizens with income from $15-25K (74.3%), women (62%) and Evangelicals (59.9%).
It is not unreasonable that minorities largely ignored by the Bush administration are a bit more distrustful than others. It is also nice to know that many of those who identify themselves as "very conservative" do not suffer from blind allegiance to the Bush administration's neocon agenda. In short, I am proud of New Yorkers because as a group they clearly seem to put truth before politics, and in their quest for that truth they to a large extent seem to be non-partisan. I am also proud of them for being able to break out of the trap of fear. This is the trap the official propaganda machine has set up to prevent us from seeking the truth,- but I sincerely hope the beast has grown too big for that trap. New Yorkers have set an example for all of us, and we would do good to follow that example.

Kudos to Zogby International and all those who supported that effort. Keep up the good work!

And These Guys May Not Quite Be So Bad Either

Well, the government officials naturally would have a tendency to boast about every important terror related arrest. In the US after 9/11 that is to be expected. What we, the public, must remember though is that "arrested in connection with" is not synonymous to "found guilty of".

Apparently, the case of a terror cell in Detroit whose arrest was recently touted as a major success in the war on terror is falling apart. As I've already noted, so seems to be the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi who was captured in Afghanistan while allegedly fighting with the Taliban.

In short, not all the guys who get locked up are bad. Nor, of course, do all the bad guys get locked up.

A French Jewish Leader Sentenced for Hoax

This report was apparently initially published by the JTA. For some reason I could not find it there.

According to the story, Alex Moise, the head of French Friends of Israel's Likud Party had staged anti-Semitic hate phonecalls to himself about which he had complained to the French authorities. Later, in may 2004, Mr Moise admitted that his claims were fraudulent and was subsequently prosecuted for misleading the authorities.

If this story is true, then it is probably correct to say that while racism exists everywhere, anti-Semitism in France may be in short enough supply to force the likes of Mr Moise to artificially adjust the picture to their liking.

Let's Be Nice, Let's Just Call It "Executive Excess"

I read this United for a Fair Economy report, and if I wrote this post right away you would not be able to read it out loud with your small children in the room if you are blessed with them. I know, it is just data, but personally I think this is the sort of data that should make a lot of people upset.

Apparently, the gap between haves and have nots,- or have-lots and have-littles in the US is widening even further. And not only that,- it appears that the CEOs who took business overseas have increased their income almost by half in 2003 (or the one-year period prior to the date of the report,- the exact timeframe of the study is not completely clear).
Average CEO compensation at the 50 firms outsourcing the most service jobs increased by 46 percent in 2003, compared to a 9 percent average increase for all CEOs at the 365 large companies surveyed by Business Week.
The report also touches on the politics-to-business connection (or should it be the other way around?).
Political contributions also appear to pay off. CEOs of the 69 companies that sponsored this summer’s Democratic and Republican National Conventions saw their pay jump 52 percent in 2003, far outpacing the 9 percent raise for the average large company CEO. Similarly, the 38 CEOs who have personally raised at least $100,000 for either the Bush or Kerry presidential campaigns earned an average of $15.2 million in 2003, 88 percent more than the average large company CEO.
There is also some data the authors of the report view as positive,- which it likely is.
The good news is that public pressure is beginning to have an impact. More investors than ever have demanded greater accountability from CEOs at shareholder meetings. Richard Grasso, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, was forced to resign due to public outrage over his $140 million pay package. A number of companies and CEOs, including seven detailed in the report, have voluntarily supported fairer pay plans. The report also includes recommendations on how tax and corporate governance regulations could be reformed to help narrow the pay gap.
I am all for fair trade, and while I lack expert knowledge to judge many particular regulatory ideas in terms of their utility, their effect on business and their potential conflict with the civil liberties of those involved, overall the idea that cheaters must be caught does apply to me. However, laws can only take us so far, and attempts to pressure people by way of law enforcement has rarely forced them to abandon immoral practices,- in fact, such attempts have in fact often had the opposite effect in the real world.

What I believe is needed is a serious moral awakening of the society. We need to change,- not the Robber Baron CEO's, but you and I, the so-called regular folks, need to change. We need to admit that at some point or other we may have dreamed of striking it big, of joining the same league people like Kenneth Lay belong to. I certainly did, I admit it. Once we have admitted it, once we have realized that while it is OK to yearn for a reasonable comfort in life, it is immoral to try to grab all that you can, even if you don't need it,- then we can try and make those who squander what others actually need pariahs in the society. I want to see a day when a CEO like that walks into a restaurant and patrons just leave. Or when his kids are ashamed of him enough not to mention his name in a public place.

And I am not calling for laws limiting people's ability to operate in the free market,- I want public morals to do the job. I know, there will always be some people who could care less if they are despised as long as the loot keeps coming their way,- but those are true sociopaths whose number is very small. Most people, when forced with real public pressure, will alter their behaviour accordingly.

Mr Reese Sure Ain't Mincing No Words

I can't agree with everything he is saying here, but some of it certainly makes sense. Especially the last paragraph:
I would hope that the American people would be (expletive deleted) tired of politicians (expletive deleted) away the lives of our sons and daughters for stupid or hidden reasons. No American soldier should ever die, except in defense of his or her own country. Period. End of story. And every politician who wastes American blood should be thrown out of office.
And to really get down to the bottom of it,- just fill in the expletives.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A Terror Attack in Moscow

According to his BBC report, a female suicide bomber blew herself up at an entrance to the Rizhskaya Metro station in Moscow, Russia killing 10 people and wounding many others. A little-known Islamist group has claimed responsibility.
The statement, said to be from a group calling itself the Islambouli Brigades, described the attack as "part of the wave of support and assistance to the Muslim Chechens".

The statement, posted on a website used by militants in the past, said the attack would be "followed, with God's help, by more waves until we humiliate the state of heresy called Russia".
This is the same group that has claimed responsibility for downing two Russian airliners a week ago. The people like the Islambouli Brigades are free to think what they like, but, personally, I don't believe there is any justification for such terrorist attacks, and I think it is them who live in "the state of heresy".

The Jewish problem, according to Theodorakis

This is the text of the Haaretz interview with a world-renowned Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis.

Terrorist Atrocity in Beersheba

In Beersheba, Israel two suicide terrorists attacked two civilian buses killing 16 people and wounding 90. The bombers were allegedly dispatched by Hamas whose website, at this point in time, is for some reason silent about this particular attack.

The Israelinsider report says,
...Hamas in Hebron claimed responsibility. The blasts occurred in the city center, close to its municipal building. Israeli officials blamed the lack of a security barrier as contributing to the vulnerability of the southern region.

Terrorist access from Mt Hebron to Beersheba is unimpeded by security barrier whose construction has been held up for high court rulings. The government has not been able even to agree on the barrier's route.
This attack was a despicable atrocity, and Israel has every right to relentlessly pursue those behind it. It is worth noting, however, that the missing section of the barrier could probably be constructed without excess controversy if it were constructed along the Green Line and not inside the disputed territories.

And while nothing justifies the terrorist assaults like this one, it is not entirely surprising that Hebron is a hotbed of Palestinian extremism and that today's attackers came from there. A city where tens of thousands of residents belonging to the ethnic majority (Arabs) are subjected to regular curfews (sometimes for days on end) for the benefit of a small minority, only about 500 strong (Jews) is bound to be ripe for resentment, extremism and violence. And I believe that Israel can greatly improve its prospects for peace and security by resolving the issue of Hebron. While it is certainly necessary to pursue terror groups that already have been formed, the victory over them is not very likely when such a ripe climate is in place for terrorist recruiters.

Rich Lowry Must Be One Bad-Assed Dude

Well, this is the only conclusion I can reach having read this article of his. Of John McCain Lowry has this to say:
...together with Kerry supporter Max Cleland, the Arizona senator makes for the smallest caucus in American politics — Thin-Skinned Vietnam War Veterans Adored by the Media (TSVWVAM).

I then read his biography and it is not exactly clear what the National Review's editor has accomplished that would back up this image of himself,- but then again, how else to explain such words of his?

Lowry goes on to present McCain as someone overly sensitive,- someone who almost made up the story of being maligned and smeared in South Carolina during his 2000 Presidential bid. Others have a different view of what happened. Richard H. Davis, McCain's campaign manager in 2000, writes in his Boston Globe article,
John and his wife, Cindy, have an adopted daughter named Bridget. Cindy found Bridget at Mother Theresa's orphanage in Bangladesh, brought her to the United States for medical treatment, and the family ultimately adopted her. Bridget has dark skin.

Anonymous opponents used "push polling" to suggest that McCain's Bangladeshi born daughter was his own, illegitimate black child. In push polling, a voter gets a call, ostensibly from a polling company, asking which candidate the voter supports. In this case, if the "pollster" determined that the person was a McCain supporter, he made statements designed to create doubt about the senator.

And while there is no indication that Bush ordered such "push polling", there is no indication that he forcefully condemned such practices either.

Frankly, I would be less livid about the matter if the target were John McCain only (the way John Kerry is with the Swift Boat Veterans For The Truth attacking his military record),- and not his child. Personally, I believe that giving an orphan a chance in life is amongst the noblest things one can possibly do, and assaulting that act amounts to nothing less than an assault on the concept of decency itself.

But let us get back to the subject of Rich Lowry. He clearly thinks that a man who, like John McCain, went to many a battle and spent five years as a POW, two of them in solitary confinement, can be called "thin-skinned". He thinks the same term can be applied to Max Cleland. Maybe those men could in fact have been tougher. And Mr Lowry is certainly entitled to his opinions. I just wonder what makes him think he is John Wayne, Audie Murphy and Mike Tyson all rolled into one.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Another Make-Believe Anti-Semitic Attack in France

Apparently, the August 22 arson of the Jewish Center in Paris was perpetrated by a Jew. So, the attack is certainly not an act of anti-Semitism in the classical sense (though I have met some Jews who are less than fond of their brethen). The attack bears strong similarities to the recent fake anti-Semitic attack on a woman on a subway train in Paris.

Nice Letter, Excellent Use of Quotes

This is a letter to the editor authored by Stephen F. Kislock III. I certainly liked his use of well-known quotes.
If one is the "War President," vacations are necessary to fight the "evildoers." Either you are with us or with the terrorists.

Out of sight, out of mind. I, George W. Bush, as president of the United States, must look at the big picture, not just some flag-draped coffin. You are either with us or with the terrorists.
You said it, Mr Kislock!

Benny Morris, An Honest Zionist Historian

The following is an interview with Benny Morris conducted by Ari Shavit (originally published in Haaretz). Benny Morris strikes me as an honest man, and one who is not afraid to confront either the authority, or the entrenched notions.

I think he is utterly wrong in his advocacy of extremism. He describes various war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers during the 1948 War. According to his description, those crimes were the main reason why hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs fled from their homes,- and he believes that this was a deliberate tactic used to achieve precisely that result. Of war crimes he describes in his works, Morris says,
"There is no justification for acts of rape. There is no justification for acts of massacre. Those are war crimes. But in certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands."

This sounds like a rerun of the general justification extremists of all stripes have used throughout history.

However, unlike many other students of the matter, Morris seems honest and calls things by their proper name. That is commendable, and I think he is an author and a historian whose works are definitely worth a read.

Who is Golan Cipel?

This is a good article by Justin Raimondo. I rarely agree with Mr Raimondo, but here he certainly has the right focus,- not on the alleged sexual affair between New Jersey Governor James McGreevey and Golan Cipel, but instead on the fact that McGreevey appointed Cipel to the post of the state-wide "security czar". Raimondo also does a good job of considering real national security implications of that appointment.

Is All of The US Just One Big Riverside County?

This looks like a good account of what the election situation is shaping to be like in Riverside County, California. Based on this, as well as other vote fraud-related things I've recently discovered the upcoming election may end up being an event of entertainment rather than political significance.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

A Good One on AIPAC's M&Ps

This is a nice little review of how the AIPAC(American Israel Public Affairs Committee) operates. AIPAC is once again making the news because of its alleged participation in the latest Israeli spy scandal.

The Voting Bonanza

This is a nice article by Max Blumenthal on how the voting industry functions.

An Old Warrior on Other Veterans and Their Records

Colonel David Hackworth is one of the highest-decorated military men in all of the US history. And here is what he has to say about the bitter argument going on over John Kerry's military record,- and how it compares with that of President Bush. He also analyzes the tactics used in recent political campaigns to discredit the military exploits of other veterans later turned politicians.
Sure, Bush dodged the draft, along with a reported 14 million other Americans with the savvy to work out that was a no-win, sorry war. But although he had the luck and the connections to land a spot in the Air Guard, he did put his butt on the line flying a machine for which he was entitled to hazardous-duty pay – and that's because zooming around in a jet fighter was and still is highly dangerous.

And sure, Kerry’s campaign push on how he Ramboed his way through the war – for four months – rubs a lot of vets the wrong way. And it does take its toll on those of us who prefer our heroes to be modest, unassuming types like Alvin York – who stayed the course until it was “Over, over there.”

But politics and style aside, Kerry did serve with distinction in Vietnam when he easily could have avoided that killing field. His service to his country shouldn’t be diminished by the same despicable, politically motivated tactics visited upon Sens. John McCain in South Carolina and Max Cleland in Georgia, also Viet vets. This kind of gutter-bashing doesn’t belong in American politics, and vets shouldn’t allow themselves to be used as ammo for cheap shots at one of their own.
I think when it comes to Kerry's record he brings up the only argument that should matter, if one were to analyze it at all.
The stalwart Brown Water Navy warriors who fought at Kerry’s side say he was A-OK, which is good enough for me. The muckrakers such as John O’Neill and his Swiftboat snipers – who didn’t sail on his boat but served anywhere from 100 meters to 300 miles away – are now coming off like eyewitnesses when in fact not one of their testimonies would hold up in a court of law. A judge would call these men liars and disallow their biased statements.

I’ve been in a fair number of battles in my lifetime, first fighting for my country in several hot wars, then covering a dozen conflicts as a correspondent. And I’ve learned that if you can’t see the fight right up close, smell it, hear it and touch it, you can’t possibly bear witness.
I have written on the subject before. Personally, I don't think there is much left to it,- in other words, one can have all sorts of respectable political preferences, but I think military service and attendant readiness to sacrifice one's life on a battlefield must always be respected. As I have said before, one's service record is not, and should not be, the only criteria, or even the main criteria in determining one's readiness to assume a certain political office,- however, smearing war veterans is a kind of ignoble practice that should have no place in respectable political discourse.

Vote Theft for Dummies

This is how easy Diebold has made it to tamper the voting,- whether intentionally or unintentionally. According to this report, all it takes is a two-digit code,- which makes sense as not everyone tasked with tempering with your inalienable rights would have what it takes to operate longer passwords.

Here is the summary:
Issue: Manipulation technique found in the Diebold central tabulator -- 1,000 of these systems are in place, and they count up to two million votes at a time.

By entering a 2-digit code in a hidden location, a second set of votes is created. This set of votes can be changed, so that it no longer matches the correct votes. The voting system will then read the totals from the bogus vote set. It takes only seconds to change the votes, and to date not a single location in the U.S. has implemented security measures to fully mitigate the risks.

This program is not "stupidity" or sloppiness. It was designed and tested over a series of a dozen version adjustments.

Now, the report does not state that the vulnerability was coded intentionally, but that hardly matters. As far as I am concerned, by failing to immediately address the issue election officials in charge would demonstrate their utter contempt for the electoral democracy they are in charge of upholding,- if not the intent to manipulate the election results. Given the fact that some of those officials have already discussed ways to postpone or cancel the Presidential election, that would not come across as outright surprising.

Abu Ghraib: Tragedy to Farce

Any event, no matter how devastating, can be presented in a comical way. And that appears to be what US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is attempting to do with the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal in the course of this interview analyzed by The New York Times.

The New York Times quotes Rumsfeld as saying,
"I have not seen anything thus far that says that the people abused were abused in the process of interrogating them or for interrogation purposes."

According to the same article,
In his first comments on the two major investigative reports issued this week at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Thursday mischaracterized one of their central findings about the American military's treatment of Iraqi prisoners by saying there was no evidence that prisoners had been abused during interrogations.

The reports, one by a panel Mr. Rumsfeld had appointed and one by three Army generals, made clear that some abuses occurred during interrogations, that others were intended to soften up prisoners who were to be questioned, and that many intelligence personnel involved in the interrogations were implicated in the abuses. The reports were issued Tuesday and Wednesday.
This looks like a classical attempt to have it both ways,- which, I would say, is not a viable possibility in this case. If what Mr Rumsfeld is saying is correct then the investigation reports mentioned above ought to be officially declared null and void. Also, the soldiers accused of abuses at Abu Ghraib must then also be charged with perjury as their testimony unequivocally states that abuses were ordered by interrogators in order to pressure the detainees into being cooperative.

Personally, I had a good laugh thinking of this. After all, it is not very convenient to torture somebody right in the room where you are questioning them. You've got your equipment there,- your computer, for instance, maybe a stereo, maybe a couple of framed photographs of family members on your desk, you've got your papers there, the office may be small,- in short, this might not be the best place to have someone spill their vomit or even blood. So the fact that most of the time the "dirty" part of the process took place outside of interrogators' offices does not surprise me in the least.

What surprises me is that Mr Rumsfeld expects the public,- and I presume that primarily he has the American public in mind,- to be naive enough not to draw the same conclusions I've just drawn. What worries me is that to a large extent his expectations may pan out.

And Who is That Man, Larry Franklin?

I have already talked about both the investigation of an alleged Israeli spy, as well as who that spy likely is. Here are some more details, courtesy Max Blumenthal. Laura Rozen also has an interesting scoop on the suspect, Larry Franklin.

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