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July 02, 2004

Florida: Thousands of eligible voters on list of felons

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

The Miami Herald has reported that over 2100 eligible voters are listed as felons, to be denied the right to vote.

And who was on the list?

Of the 2,119 people found by the Herald, 62 percent were registered Democrats, and almost half were black. Less than 20 percent were Republican.

Disproportionately black and Democratic. Just like 2000. And 1200 Democratic votes would have definitely given Gore the White House last time.

As an alcoholic would-be dictator who thinks he talks to God once said:

Fool me once... (3 second pause) ... Shame on... (4 second pause) ... Shame on you... (6 second pause)... Fool me... Can't get fooled again.

Wiser words were never spoken, so incompetently.

--------------------

July 01, 2004

Living The American Dream: An Undisclosed Location Of His Very Own

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Just heard from Tom, who is settling nicely into his new (hmm... sworn to secrecy, so pick one) elfin workshop/chi energy vortex/subterranean command bunker.

The movers, however, still lack the requisite wide-eyed innocence/zen self-mastery/life-annihilating codewords to get all his stuff in place.

So it'll still be a while until he's back. But he cheerfully sends his love/inner peace/Cheney-like scowl of doom to you all.

Mostly the first two. Really.

"Anonymous" revealed

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

The author of the much-rumored Imperial Hubris: Why The West Is Losing The War On Terror has been identified by the Boston Phoenix.

It's Michael Scheuer. Who spent 1996-99 as chief of the CIA counterterrorism force assigned to Osama Bin Laden.

Which adds just a teeny bit of credibility to the book's central claim that Bush is actually losing the broader war, largely because invading Iraq had squat to do with fighting Osama.

(On the other hand, Scheuer's view of just what that particular fight might actually require -- lacking a fundamental change in U.S. policy toward the Muslim world -- will make your blood turn to bean curd. Oh. Dear. God. Me, I'm more up for the policy change thing.)

The Phoenix story also includes worthy bits about why the book is coming out "anonymously" -- basically, not to protect a covert officer (Scheuer isn't one, and reportedly doesn't even want to be anonymous), but strategic bits of the CIA's own political ass.

If the rest of our asses were protected half as well, we'd have nothing to worry about.

--------------------

June 30, 2004

Early Baghdad exit policy suggested by Bush's new Iraq advisor, "jon from huntington beach"

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

This is wild. An actual excerpt from the June 25 session of "Ask the White House," where Paul Wolfowitz participated in an online chat (typos intact from original):

jon, from huntington beach, ca writes:
I realize that Iraq is in control of a great deal of the government but why dont you catch the insurgents off-guard and turn full control over to Iraq now. What difference does a few days make? I have the feeling that they are planning some big attack on the 30th. Remove the significance of June 30th.

Let the Iraq deel with the insurgents starting right now.

Paul Wolfowitz
Thatís an interesting idea. The terrorists work by surprising us and we need to think about what we can do to throw them off balance.

And then, just three days later...

I know, this is almost certainly just a complete coincidence. I can't imagine Wolfy got offline, took Chimpy by the hand (after wiping off the BBQ sauce), and told him about "jon" and his neat idea.

Almost. But not quite.

I mean, "jon" is just an actual American, who should expect leaders to hear what he says and respond. Not someone truly important, like Prince Bandar or Ahmed Chalabi.

(Tip o' the wraparounds to reader Nick. And the rest of you, whose ideas and notes I can't always get to in time, much as I want to. Keep 'em coming.)

--------------------

June 28, 2004

The "handover" in Iraq: like the large fly crawling on the CNN reporter's cheek

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

So. Um. Paul Bremer got the hell out of Dodge two days early, admittedly because of security concerns.

Other than the handful of senior officials participating in the handover ceremony, which was not broadcast live on television, Iraqis had no knowledge of it as it was happening. The ceremony was so secretive that even members of Bremer's senior staff did not know about it until two hours before it began, the official said.

Two hours later, Bremer's the hell out of there.

Thank you Baghdad! We love yyew! Good night!

Over 130,000 troops, of course, stayed behind.

So. Iraq is now a sovereign nation.

Yuh-huh.

With a government nobody elected. Whose security is so fraglie it had to take power in secret because of fear of massive violence. Which is likely to declare martial law any minute. Which will be enforced by occupying troops, which aren't leaving.

Things are so bad that nobody could even guarantee the security of a single public event, which was, let us remember, supposedly the culmination of purpose for the whole invasion.

I cannot believe the media is reporting any of this with a straight face.

-- begin digression --

I was in meetings most of the day, but I did glimpse CNN's Christiane Amanpour -- whom I actually respect, since she's the one who admitted (to some brief controversy) that the press muzzled itself during the Iraq invasion -- chatting away. The conversation was mostly repetitions of the obvious, and I was about to change the channel. And then a large fly landed on her left cheek. Whop.

And Christiane didn't even blink. She just continued the interview, unflinching, with a fly crawling across her face for several seconds, before finally conceding the obvious -- that there was a large fly crawling across her face -- and allowing us to see a glimpse of humanity as she swatted it away. Her expression never changed, even slightly. And then she continued talking about the handover as if it was actually a palpable political change.

I laughed out loud, since this seemed a clear metaphor for how the media has reported everything lately. Deny the obvious with a straight face. Hope we don't notice and it goes away. When it doesn't, swat it off quickly. Then continue repeating the White House's latest bullshit.

-- end digression --

What's going on right now is obviously nothing but an attempt by the Bush White House to set up someone else to take the blame for the ongoing shitstorm. Remember the American domestic politics is the only reason June 30th was ever chosen in the first place -- the date was fixed before any plan for even forming the new "government" even existed, or we had the slightest clue whom we were handing power to.

The fly continues to crawl. The anchors continue to act like we can't all see it.

But it's there.

Is Michael Moore running the L.A. Times?

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

No, but check out the headline of a lengthy Los Angeles Times editorial and its several subheads:

The Disaster of Failed Policy
The War's False Premises
Investigate The Contracts
A Litany of Costly Errors

Not too bad. Not bad at all.

Coupled with the New York Times' recent call for Bush to apologize for misleading the nation, I'm starting to think that some decision-makers in the major U.S. media, while still staggeringly incompetent, are not entirely suicidal.

This is a significant improvement.

U.S. media report: CIA coup in Guatemala

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

In defense of American news media, Jon over at A Tiny Revolution points out that a few major media outlets have finally done some in-depth reporting on a CIA coup in Guatemala.

On its fiftieth anniversary.

Sigh...

Bush pisses off a few million more people

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

A Loyola University history teacher writes to Juan Cole from Istanbul, which he says is shut down as a result of Bush's visit to Turkey:

So that he [Bush] could get a private tour of Topkapi and the rest of Istanbul during this NATO summit, they have closed the following for THREE DAYS: coast road from the airport to Dolmabahce, Galata Bridge, Taksim Square, Besiktas stadium valley, Sirkeci ferry terminals, and the first Bosphorus bridge.

[snip]

Anyone who knows Istanbul knows that such a closure literally turns the city into an open-air prison. There are snipers posted on the next building to our hotel, constant military helicopters buzzing around, and naval craft cruising offshore. If only for sacrificing three days of their life for Bush's secure comfort, people here are furious.

How many people live in Istanbul?

Only about ten million.

Funny. Ain't seeing that in the American papers. And you'd think a few million more pissed-off Muslims might have some foreign policy implication down the road.

Out of curiosity, let's compare the articles about Turkish reaction to the visit from the ABC network in Australia:

Protests, explosions mark Bush visit to Turkey

and the ABC network in the U.S.:

[... nothing]

That's right. As of this writing -- just after 1 am PDT, June 28, 2004 -- the American ABC has no headline concerning 40,000 protesters and the closure of a major world capital.

You can find a wire story with a keyword search -- but, um, that requires the visitor to already know the news. Otherwise, unless you stumble onto the right story, you simply won't find out.

Funny thing, how the rest of the world is capable of noticing the rest of the world.

We ought to try it sometime.

CORRECTION: As many of you have noted correctly, Ankara is the capital of Turkey, not Istanbul. Jeopardy-boy here should know better than to blog in the middle of the night.

Incidentally, the currency in Bhutan is the ngultrum.

Just pathetically trying to save face.

Great Thinkers Address Freedom Of Speech

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

"I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies another this right makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it."

-- Thomas Paine, 1783

"Free speech exercised both individually and through a free press, is a necessity in any country where people are themselves free."

-- Theodore Roosevelt, 1918

"The truth is found when men are free to pursue it."

-- Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

-- George Orwell, 1945

"Any time we deny any citizen the full exercise of his constitutional rights, we are weakening our own claim to them."

-- Dwight David Eisenhower, 1963

"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant."

-- Robert F. Kennedy, 1964

"Go fuck yourself."

-- Dick Cheney, 2004

Bush Quick Facts

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Here's a nice set of debating points, perhaps useful for your post-F-911 conversations with the "is Bush really that bad?" crowd, from DrivingVotes.org, a group you should check out if you want to help register voters in key swing states.

Our Phantom President

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Sorry for disappearing for a couple of days. It's gonna happen.

But then again (and this is old news, but worth remembering)...

If Bush can continue to spend all or part of over 40 percent of the days of his entire presidency at one of his three retreats (read down in the link), I hope to be forgiven.

This statistic, incidentally, overrates Bush's vacation time, since many of these are partial days, and he does occasionally do some official work in Crawford or at Camp David. However, it doesn't include the time Bush spends campaigning and fundraising, largely at taxpayer expense (think Air Force One costs, for example), which has nothing to do with actually running the country. As of late March, Bush had taken well over 400 campaign trips (again, read down in the link); by now, the number is surely approaching 500. So the amount of time Bush has spent not being our president is easily upwards of 40 percent.

Incidentally, Michael Moore makes the point in Fahrenheit 911 (about which more will soon follow) that Bush spent 42 percent of his time on vacation prior to 9/11.

Maybe all that time Bush now spends out glad-handing and repeating tired falsehoods for money, he'd really rather be working.

If not, then Bush's behavior pre-9/11 hasn't changed. Not one bit.

You'd think the deaths of almost 3000 Americans and two wars might have gotten the guy to show up for work a little more often...

--------------------

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