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Saturday, November 06, 2004

Election 2004: Early Impressions

I have already commented on the November 2 Election,- both before and after the fact. Here's more.

Let us take a look at the result and its implications. The fact that George W Bush remains President is a message, both to Americans and the rest of the world, that the US, as a society is willing to endorse the sort of policy the Bush Administration has been implementing over the last four years,- and to continue with this policy for the next four years. I would also like to emphasize that this is how the events are likely going to be perceived regardless of whether Bush won fair and square,- or, like in the 2000 Election, through fraud. The US claims to be a country governed by a representative government. "Well", most every observer is likely to say, "if this is who you chose to represent you, that says a thing or two about who you are yourself."

Let us now look at how we got there,- in other words, how the election was conducted. I hesitate to deliver a verdict just yet, but it is increasingly starting to look like this election was stolen using techniques not entirely dissimilar from those used in 2000 in Florida. Reports are starting to trickle in. One must credit the mainstream media with carrying some of them,- though, to get the full picture, one still has to go to the alternative media.

As I've already reported, 3,893 votes were erroneously assigned to Bush in Franklin County, Ohio, due to an electronic voting system glitch. This, in and of itself, is minor, however, it appears to only be a very small part of a highly repetitive pattern.

Here is one such report which,- granted the poster's unknown origin and clear political bias,- must be taken with a grain of salt. The report, however, is highly troubling.
Increasingly the very real possibility that this pResidential election was stolen by the criminal Bush Combine now infesting the Nation's Capitol looms ever larger. Most notably are the discrepencies showing up from districts using Electronic Voting Machines (or Electronic Votefraud Machines as I prefer to call them). Notably the exit polling in Paper Ballot areas was consistently within the Margin of Error and in Districts using E-Vote machines, particularly Diebold and Election Systems and Software (Note that ES&S was started by the brother of the owner of Diebold), the count is coming out with a fairly consistent 5% advantage for Duhbya.
It is worth noting that, statistically, the error in an estimation is equally likely to be in either direction. Thus, it is quite suspicious that in many areas the officially reported percentage of voters who had cast their vote for Bush is noticeably higher than the same percentage reported in exit polls. And it is doubly suspicious that such discrepancy was predominantly observed exclusively in areas where votes were counted by EVSs (Electronic Voting Systems). As I have previously reported, preparations for that sort of fraud were clearly underway before the Election Day, and it appears that the efforts of those behind such activities may, after all, not have been in vain.

It is heartening that not everyone is willing to let this scandal simply pass in silence.
November 3 - Toledo, Ohio Hundreds of angry Ohio residents marched through the streets of Columbus—Ohio’s Capital—this evening and stormed the Ohio State House, defying orders and arrest threats from Ohio State Troopers. "O-H-I-O ! suppressed democracy has got to go,"they chanted. After troopers pushed and scuffled with people, nearly a hundred people took over the steps and entrance to the State’s giant white column capital building and refused repeated orders to disperse or face arrest. People prepared for arrests, ready to face jail—writing lawyers phone numbers on their arms, signing jail support lists and discussing non-cooperation and active resistance (linking arms, but not fighting back).
However, the society at large appears apathetic. And with Kerry's November 3 surrender speech there is almost no chance anyone is going to really fight to find out what the true result of this election was.

"The truth shall set you free", the saying goes. We as a society do not want the truth; it rather looks like we are afraid of it. Well, then maybe we just deserve to be enslaved.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Phantom Bush Votes in Ohio

In Franklin County, Ohio George W Bush received an extra 3,893 votes due to a glitch in an electronic voting system. This is just one system, at one polling station. How many more illegitimate votes did Bush get? How many more systems like that are there out there countrywide? Do we have yet another stolen election?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Yet Another Case against Bush

As you can see, I've written a few pieces about the sitting President in the run-up to the election. It is Election day, and the polls will close in a matter of some hours. However, if you happen to read this article before you vote, and you still plan to vote for Bush, I urge you to carefully consider it. The article, authored by Judd Legum and published in The Nation, lists 100 points with a link to the source,- all of those points critical of President Bush and his Administration. The article is certainly partisan, and I can not say I agree with all of those points. However, some of them are so poignant as to make me say, "No need to go further. This man must be fired for that alone".

Take #2:

2. The Bush Administration sent troops into battle without adequate body armor or armored Humvees.

Sources: Fox News, The Boston Globe

And this is our "War President"? Think of it, regardless of whether you support the idea that our troops must be Iraq in the first place or not. Would you want to have somebody shoot at you with nothing but your t-shirt to stop the bullets with?

Or take #12:

12. After receiving a memo from the CIA in August 2001 titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack America," President Bush continued his monthlong vacation.


The section on civil liberties the article underscores both the oppressive nature of this administration and its ineffectiveness to make any headway in the counter-terror effort,- the very effort which, they claimed, made it absolutely necessary to start harsh and oppressive practices.

81. Since 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft has detained 5,000 foreign nationals in antiterrorism sweeps; none have been convicted of a terrorist crime.


82. The Bush Administration ignored pleas from the International Committee of the Red Cross to stop the abuse of prisoners in US custody.

Source: Wall Street Journal

83. In violation of international law, the Bush Administration hid prisoners from the Red Cross so the organization couldn't monitor their treatment.


84. The Bush Administration, without ever charging him with a crime, arrested US citizen José Padilla at an airport in Chicago, held him on a naval brig in South Carolina for two years, denied him access to a lawyer and prohibited any contact with his friends and family.


85. President Bush's top legal adviser wrote a memo to the President advising him that he can legally authorize torture.


86. At the direction of Bush Administration officials, the FBI went door to door questioning people planning on protesting at the 2004 political conventions.

Source: New York Times

87. The Bush Administration refuses to support the creation of an independent commission to investigate the abuse of foreign prisoners in American custody. Instead, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld selected the members of a commission to review the conduct of his own department.


If I may insert a point of my own here,- it is worth remembering that, to the best of my knowledge, in the three years that have passed after 9/11 there Bush Administration has not succeeded in securing a single terror-related conviction by a jury. A few plea bargains resulted in terror-related sentences, but, given that data exists that coercion and a threat of indefinite detention was used to secure them, it is safe to say that the contribution of those convictions to the real progress in the fight against terrorism is probably marginal.

And if you believe that, contrary to Kerry The Flip-Flop, George W Bush is man of steadfast integrity,- the Flip Flops section of the article might convince you otherwise. For instance,

90. President Bush said he was committed to capturing Osama bin Laden "dead or alive" before he said, "I truly am not that concerned about him."


This article is truly a must read, and I hope you get to read before you vote today. If not,- read it anyway.

The Election has Not Yet Started...

...But it looks like the theft of the Election has started already. Greg Palast, the man who reported in detail on the theft of the 2000 Election, has already discovered a few interesting occurrences.
It's not even Election Day yet, and the Kerry-Edwards campaign is already down by a almost a million votes. That's because, in important states like Ohio, Florida and New Mexico, voter names have been systematically removed from the rolls and absentee ballots have been overlooked—overwhelmingly in minority areas, like Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, where Hispanic voters have a 500 percent greater chance of their vote being "spoiled." Investigative journalist Greg Palast reports on the trashing of the election.
Some noteworthy things seem to be happening in Colorado.
Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson just weeks ago removed several thousand voters from the state's voter rolls. She tagged felons as barred from voting. What makes this particularly noteworthy is that, unlike like Florida and a handful of other Deep South states, Colorado does not bar ex-cons from voting. Only those actually serving their sentence lose their rights.

There's no known, verified case of a Colorado convict voting illegally from the big house. Because previous purges have wiped away the rights of innocents, federal law now bars purges within 90 days of a presidential election to allow a voter to challenge their loss of civil rights.

To exempt her action from the federal rule, Secretary Davidson declared an "emergency." However, the only "emergency" in Colorado seems to be President Bush's running dead, even with John Kerry in the polls.

Why the sudden urge to purge? Davidson's chief of voting law enforcement is Drew Durham, who previously worked for the attorney general of Texas. This is what the former spokeswoman for the Lone Star state's attorney general says of Mr. Durham: He is, "unfit for public office... a man with a history of racism and ideological zealotry." Sounds just right for a purge that affects, in the majority, non-white voters.

From my own and government investigations of such purge lists, it is unlikely that this one contains many, if any, illegal voters.

But it does contain Democrats. The Dems may not like to shout about this, but studies indicate that 90-some percent of people who have served time for felonies will, after prison, vote Democratic. One suspects Colorado's Republican secretary of state knows that.
So it appears that some people are already busy at work to use statistics and dirty trick to one party's advantage,- namely, the Republicans.

I think this writing by Mr Palast is a must read for anyone concerned with the democracy in America. Personally, I find myself equally appalled and outraged by any kind of voter purging, regardless of who the perpetrator is. If you happen to know of an instance of election tampering by democrats, feel free to contact me with your stories, and if they are noteworthy I will publish them too.

However, as it appears at the moment, it is the Republicans who are mostly doing it,- from Republican election officials to the CEO of Diebold committing to deliver victory for Bush.

Monday, November 01, 2004

So, Who Took The Hot Loot at Qaqaa?

I have recently commented on the hundreds of tons of high-power explosives missing in Iraq. It is unclear what exactly happened to those explosives; some reports quote US military officials as saying that the explosives were removed from several storage facilities, including Qaqaa, prior to the Coalition forces' arrival. However, here is a report by Sara Daniel, a French journalist who claims to have witnessed the looting in progress as late as six months after the fall of Saddam's regime.
The account of Sara Daniel, which will be published Wednesday in the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, lends further weight to allegations that American occupying forces in Iraq failed to protect hundreds of tons of munitions from extremists plotting attacks against their own troops.

Much of the controversy has centered around the disappearance of about 380 tons of the powerful HMX explosive. The material, which had been monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency before the war and subsequently sealed in bunkers by its inspectors, was reported missing by Iraqi officials earlier this month.

Daniel, who spent nearly two hours at Qaqaa with a group that has since become known as the Islamic Army of Iraq, could not confirm seeing buildings that carried the agency's seal or explosives that were marked to be of the HMX variety. But her report is one of terrorists having easy access to a vast weapons inventory.

"I was utterly stupefied to see that a place like that was pretty much unguarded and that insurgents could help themselves for months on end," Daniel said on Friday. "We were there for a long time and no one disturbed the group while they were loading their truck."

A man who identified himself as Abu Abdallah and led the group Daniel was with, told her that his men and numerous other insurgent groups had rushed to Qaqaa after U.S.-led troops captured Baghdad on April 9 last year. The groups stole truck-loads of material from what used to be the biggest explosive factory in the Middle East in the expectation that coalition forces would move quickly to seal it off, Daniel was told.

Abu Abdullah and his men showed her the arsenal of rocket launchers, grenades and explosives hidden near their small farm houses, she said.

But much to the insurgents' surprise, Qaqaa was not sealed off by U.S. soldiers, leading many groups to stop hoarding and instead going for regular refills of explosive materials, according to Abu Abdullah.
Whoever has got it right here,- the US military or Sara Daniel,- no one appears to seriously dispute, at least at this point in time, the fact that the Qaqaa explosives storage facility has been emptied of its content by those other than the occupation military authorities. And it was just "the biggest explosive factory in the Middle East",- no big deal, really.

Questions, Questions...

In his The Nation article David Corn provides a list of questions and controversies surrounding President George W Bush. He mentions the absence of any sort of "October surprise" from either side of the divide,- something I view with relief as any such surprise could have had unpredictable consequences.
As of today--at least as of this moment--there has been no dramatic October Surprise orchestrated by the Bush crowd: no invasion of Iran, no capture of Osama bin Laden, no anti-Kerry charge that derails the challenger's campaign. And the time for any last-minute play is passing quickly. But Bush and his aides have successfully prevented another sort of October surprise, for in the weeks leading up to E Day a number of inconvenient and uncomfortable questions for Bush have continued to go unanswered. On several fronts, the Bushies have been able to dodge controversies without providing complete accounts. For example, as has been widely reported, the CIA's inspector general's report on the screw-up over Iraq's WMD is not being released before November 2. With voting already under way--thanks to early voting--and about to finish in days, they have run out the clock on critical matters, several of which might have had an impact on the final tally. Here is merely a partial list.
Corn then goes on to list those issues: the MIA WMD's in Iraq, the issue of planning of the war in Iraq (or lack of such planning), the Wilson leak, the phony Niger documents, the anthrax investigation (or, may I add, lack thereof), letting al-Zarqawi go, the censored Senate report on 9/11, Bush's past (his questionable military record and business career) and the controversy around his bother Neil's career (personally, I don't know how proper it is to bring this up,- I try to judge a person only based on his or her own record, disregarding that of their relatives). As Corn states, the list is partial, not complete. Yet, the question remains,- can the man who is at the center of all those unanswered questions be trusted to lead us for another four years?

For Those Who Are Undecided...

Here is a recommendation, courtesy Max Blumenthal. Basically, Max believes that if you still don't know who to vote for tomorrow, this is a website you ought to pay a visit to. Frankly, I only had time to watch the Eminem's "Mosh" video, which is a bit offensive but certainly powerful emotionally. Overall, the site looks like a good resource,- and definitely a good antidote to those who got exposed to too much of the neocon smear campaign against Kerry and others.

Republicans: You Don't Have To Vote Bush-Cheney!

At least this is the way many senior Republicans feel.
If the United States had major media that covered politics, as opposed to the political spin generated by the Bush White House and the official campaigns of both the Republican president and his Democratic challenger, one of the most fascinating, and significant, stories of the 2004 election season would be the abandonment of the Bush reelection effort by senior Republicans. But this is a story that, for the most part, has gone untold. Scant attention was paid to the revelation that one Republican member of the U.S. Senate, Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee, will refrain from voting for his party's president -- despite the fact that Chafee offered a far more thoughtful critique of George W. Bush's presidency than "Zig-Zag" Zell Miller, the frothing, Democrat-hating Democrat did when he condemned his party's nominee. Beyond the minimal attention to Chafee, most media has neglected the powerful, and often poignant, condemnations of Bush by prominent Republicans.
The observation Nichols makes above about the shortcomings of the media is I think very apt. But that is a side point. The important thing is, in my humble opinion, that many Republicans have realized how much they differ from neo-conservatives now in power. Frankly, I don't even understand why the party has not split up,- but I am not going to address this issue at the moment.

Says Nichols,
Former Republican members of the U.S. Senate and House, governors, ambassadors, aides to GOP Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush have explicitly endorsed the campaign of Democrat John Kerry. For many of these lifelong Republicans, their vote for Kerry will be a first Democratic vote. But, in most cases, it will not be a hesitant one.

Angered by the Bush administration's mismanagement of the war in Iraq, record deficits, assaults on the environment and secrecy, the renegade partisans tend to echo the words of former Minnesota Governor Elmer Andersen, who says that, "Although I am a longtime Republican, it is time to make a statement, and it is this: Vote for Kerry-Edwards, I implore you, on November 2."

Many of the Republicans who are abandoning Bush express sorrow at what the Bush-Cheney administration and its allies in Congress have done to their party: "The fact is that today's 'Republican' Party is one that I am totally unfamiliar with," writes John Eisenhower. But the deeper motivation is summed up by former U.S. Senator Marlow Cook, a Kentucky Republican, who explained in a recent article for the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper that, "For me, as a Republican, I feel that when my party gives me a dangerous leader who flouts the truth, takes the country into an undeclared war and then adds a war on terrorism to it without debate by the Congress, we have a duty to rid ourselves of those who are taking our country on a perilous ride in the wrong direction. If we are indeed the party of Lincoln (I paraphrase his words), a president who deems to have the right to declare war at will without the consent of the Congress is a president who far exceeds his power under our Constitution. I will take John Kerry for four years to put our country on the right path."
I second Senator Cook's sentiment, and hope that tomorrow we indeed do put the country on a path that is closer to being right.

What US$400 Billion Buys You

It certainly looks like one can afford to get quite a number of toys on Pentagon's budget. And toys are certainly there,- GPS-guided bombs, Navy carrier groups, tanks, submarines...

However, some things a soldier might really need in battle are in rather short supply:
With a $400 billion defense budget you might think U.S. troops have everything they need to fight the war, but that's not always the case.

Correspondent Steve Kroft talks to a general, soldiers in Iraq, and their families at home about a lack of armored vehicles, field radios, night vision goggles, and even ammunition - especially for the National Guard and reserve units that now make up more than 40 percent of U.S. troops.
I have commented on this problem before and it certainly looks like it has been there for awhile, has been reported on for awhile, but is still to be resolved.

What can I say? On several occasions, the aftermath of 9/11 being one of them, I considered signing up with the US military. Now I am glad I did not. And that is not because of fear,- it is certainly there, which is natural, but I am perfectly comfortable with the notion that everyone dies one day. No. The reason for that change of attitude is that I consider soldiers human, and I believe that protecting them to a reasonable extent is the nation's responsibility, a basic measure of respect and care for someone sent into the harm's way. And if $400B can't provide soldiers with enough bullets,- that says it all.

I consider those responsible for this outrage guilty of imperial arrogance, their attitude being that of "legionaires are paid to fight and die". And wasn't this Republic founded specifically to make sure this sort of governance never happens?

Who Is Truly in Power in The US?

The answer might be obvious,- the President, of course, George W Bush. However, a more thorough analysis might reveal that another figure, Vice President Dick Cheney, is the person who really is behind this Administration's key decisions.

As Robert Sheer observes in this article of his,
Whatever one thinks of George W. Bush--do you see a smile or a smirk?--it is now patently obvious that the most powerful vice president in US history is in charge of the White House. Cheney's ultra-secretive, anti-democratic and crony-capitalist instincts have defined this Administration.
I think this assessment is not entirely groundless. After all, Bush openly admits to listening to his advisers for words of wisdom,- as he admits to mostly forgoing reading the news himself. The incurious President is likely to a large extent dependent upon the opinions of his second-in-command.

Writes Scheer,
Perhaps we should have expected all this from a man who, as head of the Bush vice presidential search team, selected himself. It was a forewarning of the Machiavellian arrogance that has made him the leading individual in an Administration that has consistently believed that self-serving ends--such as helping Enron at the expense of California's energy needs or boosting Halliburton's profits at the expense of American troops--justify lying, secrecy and pre-emptive war.

In the hours after the 9/11 massacres, some Americans may have been reassured to have the older Cheney around at a time when the "real" President was confusedly sitting in a classroom listening to a story about a pet goat. However, in hindsight, this was clearly misguided faith in a man who presents himself as a stern father figure but is just an irresponsible ideologue whose disrespect and disregard for the US Constitution are manifest in all his actions.

It was the Vice President who served as the power behind a tiny group of fringe right-wing lawyers that secretly created a system of unaccountable White House-controlled military tribunals. Despite indelibly staining America's reputation as a leader in democratic principles and endangering the lives of American prisoners of war in current and future conflicts, these proceedings have proved totally useless in the war on terror, with zero terror convictions to date.

Never mind: After the tribunals decree was signed by Bush, Cheney was off leading a new misguided crusade, deploying a slew of manipulated and misrepresented intelligence factoids, clever innuendoes and outright lies to fool Congress and the public into supporting the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

There are, all in all, few things that bother me more than the notion of a nation going to war just because a small group of people happens to think that this is "the thing to do",- on top of that, knowing that they are going to personally benefit from that "thing". We are the nation "by the people" and "for the people",- and this sort of thing simply does not stand.

While some of Robert Scheer's views are too leftist to my liking, I certainly would agree with him on the point that a policy secretly cooked up by Dick Cheney and his clique is not what should become the official policy of the United States of America.

Vice President Cheney certainly believes that persistence is key to making his views believed.
As recently as June and contrary to the 9/11 commission's final report, to give but one of many examples, Cheney was still insisting that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta had a meeting in Prague with a high-ranking Iraqi intelligence agent before the 9/11 attacks. This is an unconscionable and obviously knowing use of the Big Lie technique, given that the CIA and FBI repudiated that baseless yet titillating claim in 2002.
Well, I suppose Mr Cheney is entitled to his views. And if reality gets in his way, he has a right to disregard it. However, we the people are free to go to the polls and express our will, too.

Here is how Scheer concludes his article on Cheney:
Next Tuesday, voters should retire this malevolent force.
What can I say? Let us try and make it happen!

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Why Are Iraqi Explosives Missing?

The news has recently broken out that 380 tons of explosives that belonged to the Saddam Hussein's military has disappeared after the 2003 invasion by the US and Coalition forces.

(CNN) -- Some 380 tons of explosives powerful enough to detonate nuclear warheads are missing from a former Iraqi military facility that was supposed to be under American control, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency says.

Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the interim Iraqi government reported to the agency several days ago in a letter that the explosives were missing from the Al Qaqaa complex south of Baghdad.

The explosives -- considered powerful enough to demolish buildings or detonate nuclear warheads -- were under IAEA control until the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. IAEA workers left the country before the fighting began.

"Our immediate concern is that if the explosives did fall into the wrong hands, they could be used to commit terrorist acts and some of the bombings that we've seen," Fleming said.

Fleming's concerns certainly do not seem overblown. Personally, if someone were to put together a truck bomb consisting of a mere ton of plastique, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near the point of detonation.

This sort of news is naturally followed by an attempt to make sense of such an enormous event. Clearly, many were quick to blame the US military for failing to secure the facility.

According to this WorldNetDaily report, the military counters such accusations by stating that the explosives were removed prior to their arrival at the storage depots were the materiel had been previously stored. The photos presented to back up this argument display pickup trucks alleged to transport the explosives out of the storage facilities.

The photos show fedayeen, Saddam's most loyal paramilitary troops, in white pickup trucks transporting weapons, likely including missiles, from a storage facility a few kilometers north of Bayji and 100 kilometers north of Tikrit, as part of what the officer says was a coordinated effort to empty country-wide storage facilities before U.S. troops arrived in various areas. He said facilities in the south were likely emptied by fedayeen earlier in a similar fashion.

In one picture, two men in the back of a white pickup truck are seen sitting on three green ammunition crates. The truck's body, particularly toward the rear, is dragging low, an indication it was carrying a heavy load. The officer says the fedayeen regularly used such pickup trucks, which are less conspicuous than military trailers.

In one photo the officer says was taken seconds later, a separate truck can be seen driving from an area of the same facility which looks identical to al-Qaqaa, transporting a green box of what appears to be missiles. The truck passes a former Iraqi checkpoint at the facility entrance.
The US military stands accused of using excessive force in many incidents during the war in Iraq. And in light of that, it seems especially baffling that, according to what we know today, the force was not used to prevent the enemy from spreading around a humongous arsenal of explosives which can now be put to deadly use just about any place in the world.

Read Before You Vote on November 2

This is a nice set of points to think over before you vote on Tuesday. I am especially fond of this one:
No individual, party or ideology has cornered the market on truth or God's blessing.
As I said earlier, I think if you are eligible to vote, you should vote in this election. Vote your conscience,- but please think over the points listed above.

Cannon Fodder

Or, perhaps, I should have titled this one "Tax Cuts At Work". Here is the essence of it,- the US troops in Iraq are still not properly fitted with the armor protection, GPS's and other items they need to do their job and stay alive doing it. At times, soldiers (or their families) end up buying the gear themselves.

Here is yet another piece on this problem in The New York Times. The gist of it can be surmised from the first two articles.
When the 1544th Transportation Company of the Illinois National Guard was preparing to leave for Iraq in February, relatives of the soldiers offered to pay to weld steel plates on the unit's trucks to protect against roadside bombs. The Army told them not to, because it would provide better protection in Iraq, relatives said.

Seven months later, many of the company's trucks still have no armor, soldiers and relatives said, despite running some of the most dangerous missions in Iraq and incurring the highest rate of injuries and deaths among the Illinois units deployed there.
Every time I read an article of this sort, my first reaction is, predictably, the issuance of a stream of invective directed at those responsible. The invective grows in its intensity as days and months of the occupation of Iraq tick by.

The problem is not something that just popped up. Col. David Hackworth, one of the highest decorated US warriors of all times, has written about these same issues previously, as have many others.

In every street in the US one gets to see the "Support Our Troops" banners. But without real action, these banners are bound to remain just that,- a bunch of pieces of plastic with lettering on them.

The US, 2000-2004

As the Election Day approaches, it is certainly a good idea to take a look at what the last presidential term has brought us. In his Baltimore Chronicle article Chris Knipp attempts to do just that.

The term of George W Bush started in a controversy.
First the period brought us a president who was, in the view of at least half the population, not elected but slipped in over the wire through shifty maneuvering.
Personally, I do believe that the 2000 Election was stolen. That belief is based primarily on the research by investigative reporter Greg Palast whose findings were widely reported on just about everywhere throughout the world excluding the US. In this article of his Palast describes the process in considerable detail.

But let us for now disregard this fact and move on as Mr Bush's Presidency has been a fact of life, whether you like it or not. As Knipp correctly observes, at least at one point during his presidency George W Bush enjoyed an overwhelming popular support,- and that fact in itself lends some considerable legitimacy to his presidency.
A lackluster, shaky leader, he rallied and gained confidence as a public speaker and a figurehead after the shock of the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attacks.
However, the question emerges: was that support earned. The answer to this question is, most likely, in the negative.
The 9/11 Commission revealed to everyone the strongest warnings, well prior to the event, ignored by Bush, yet the Commission's final report rapped knuckles but ultimately blamed no one. A new, even more Bush-friendly, arguably even more incompetent CIA director was appointed.
I might add that concerns voiced by many insiders, people like Sibel Edmonds, only serve to further affirm the smokescreen nature of both the 9/11 Commission Report and the measures taken by the US Government in connection with it.

Here is what Knipp has to say about the wars our government has launched as part of its "war on terror".
Afghanistan, Osama's headquarters, was attacked, thousands of civilians were killed, the Taliban were put to flight, but Osama wasn't caught. A Gucci-clad leader whose siblings run American restaurants was put in to head a nonexistent government. The country went back to tribal chaos and opium exportation.

The next push was for Iraq, bombed and invaded without UN or general European approval in spring of 2003. The new "democracy" thus allegedly created was "turned over" to an unelected puppet government in the summer of 2004, and now, in late October, Iraq grows more dangerous every day for the "Coalition," for newsmen, businessmen and mercenaries, and last but not least for Iraqis.

Knipp also makes a good point about the administration's measures diminishing the civil liberties of both Americans and foreigners in the US custody, and the critical perception of this process by the rest of the world.

September 11, 2001 has been the pretext for widespread US human rights abuses. These are of many kinds. Most visible are the crypto-Nazi-named Homeland Security, the civil rights-crushing Patriot Acts I and II, and Attorney General John Ashcroft's Gestapo-esque arrests and lengthy imprisonments of suspect foreigners. Even worse is the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, but it will have an echo when practices at Guantanamo, where prisoners are held in overt violation of the Geneva Convention, are fully revealed. These are, alas, homemade horrors: investigative reporters say similar conditions already prevailed in US prisons, whose population is the world's largest. All these things are increasingly visible blights on the US's image as a "showplace of western democracy."
In my opinion, a critically important issue is largely absent from the public discourse in the US: how much are we willing to sacrifice in terms of our freedoms in order to defeat the world's evil forces,- if they are indeed attacking us.

In Knipp's article one finds many a critical remark. And this moves us to the next issue,- what to do about this? With the Election only two short days away, it is clearly important to review that issue too. Here is Knipp's take,- and it happens to be one with which I largely agree and which I implore you to consider in the remaining two days.

Does this election matter?

Is Kerry, then, a man from the same background of wealth and privilege and posh schools, even the same establishment secret society (far wealthier, by marriage, than any previous presidential candidate ever) "the lesser of two evils"? Yes, certainly, he is that. But the gap between greater and lesser evil promises to be larger than usual this time, because it's not simply Bush the US and the world need to be freed from, but that dangerous and destructive crew and world view for which he is the figurehead, and whose aims we have seen writ large over the last four years.

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