Thursday, September 16, 2004

Floridians haven't all drunk the Koolade yet 
It's good to know that some people still understand the rule of law.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida judge ordered county elections officials on Wednesday to issue absentee ballots without the name of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, a possible blow to President Bush in the battleground state.

Circuit Judge Kevin Davey overruled a move this week by Florida's elections supervisor to include Nader on the ballot for the Nov. 2 election as a Reform Party candidate.
On Monday, Division of Elections Director Dawn Roberts told Florida's 67 county voting supervisors to put Nader's name on overseas absentee ballots that must be sent out by Saturday.
Davey on Wednesday overrode that stay and said that if counties had already sent out ballots with Nader's name on them, they must send corrected versions without it.

"The bottom line is ... I have a very small window of opportunity here to try to get it right and that's what counts," he said.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

al-Quaeda's plans 
From the invaluable Juan Cole - go read.

Bush family trait? 
In 1972, George W Bush decided to break the law and ignore a direct, lawful order from his National Guard commanding officer. He brazened it out, and got away with it.

In 2004, Jeb Bush decided to ignore a lawful order from the Florida courts to remove Ralph Nader from the presidential ballot. Governor Bush has ordered his Secretary of State to ignore that court order. He intends to brazen it out.

George and Jeb. The law doesn't apply to us. Laws are for the little people.

Unsafe at any polling place 
For anyone who was still planning on voting for Ralph - forget it. He has no interest in you OR the country. It's all about him.

From Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:

Nader Pledges to Focus on Battleground States

"In what could become a worst-case scenario for Democrats, Ralph Nader announced plans to launch a spirited new phase to his independent candidacy in swing states," the Hartford Courant reports. Nader says "part of its purpose would be to retaliate against Democrats who had fought his candidacy."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Even neocons are abandoning Bush's sinking ship 
Neocon poster-child Francis Fukuyama, founding member of the PNAC and author of The End of History and The Last Man, has had it with the Bush administration's foreign policy. Brad DeLong reports that, in the current Financial Times (subscription required, and I don't have one), Fukuyama writes:
The Bush administration's failure to plan adequately for Iraq's postwar reconstruction was a big failure of policy, one that will greatly limit future US policy choices. The recent escalation in violence, with US deaths passing the 1,000 mark, underlines just how insecure the country is.... The long-term plan laid out by the Bush administration since the June handover of sovereignty in Iraq is straightforward.... Anyone who thinks this scenario will materialise is living in fantasyland....

Allawi's government faces dual insurgencies... Moqtada al-Sadr... Fallujah, now a base for religious extremists, seems but one of a number of areas where coalition forces cannot go. The US has, in other words, permitted the establishment of a new terrorist haven in central Iraq....

Equally serious is the lack of state capacity on the part of the new government.... If elections are postponed, leaving de facto power in the hands of militias, the next US president will face a critical choice: continue pressing for a unified Iraqi state, or seek a power-sharing arrangement based on agreement by the Kurdish and Shia communities, in which stability rather than democracy is the goal....

Heavy fighting and more casualties lie ahead, and [the] US force posture in other troublespots such as Korea is under strain. Washington can maintain current US troop levels in Iraq only through a covert draft of National Guard and reserve forces, the very people whose families form Mr Bush's political base....

The Republican convention outrageously lumped the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq war into a single, seamless war on terrorism - as if the soldiers fighting Mr Sadr were avenging the destroyers of the twin towers... mismanagement of the war has created a new Afghanistan inside Iraq.... The Bush administration has made any number of foreign policy errors, particularly over Iraq.... But if Mr Bush is returned... the administration will have got away a Big Lie about the war on terrorism and will have little incentive to engage in serious review....
When even the PNAC, champions of American global hegemony, have had enough, should we take the hint, and move on to a more rational foreign policy?

Welcome to the Coalition of The Wild-Eyed, Dr. Fukuyama.

Do you know the way to Bangalore? 
Thanks to dreams of venture-capital fueled riches, many of my technology industry colleagues lean toward the Republicans, not only because of the free and easy business climate they promise, but also because geeks often have a "question authority" attitude that finds resonance in the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. But times have changed - there's no place in the Republican Party of 2004 for libertarians - the order of the day is pernicious authoritarianism - telling people what they may not say, what they must not do. Republican rhetoric says "we love entrepeneurship, and want to empower American small business."As for what they DO - Robert X. Cringely, gossip columnist for computer-industry trade rag InfoWorld reports:

Indian elephants: My editor threatened to lock me in a networking closet with Al Franken and Bill O’Reilly if this column gets even remotely political, but this item is too good to pass up. It seems the Republican National Committee is such a staunch believer in outsourcing that it used a firm in Maharashtra, India, to create its database of approximately 165 million registered voters. Technically, the RNC hired a Seattle-area consultant, which then apparently outsourced the job to Compulink Systems in India. I tried to reach the GOP-ers for comment but had no luck — I guess they had other things on their plates.

For the record: The Demos’ voter database was developed by a company, Plus Three, based in a distant suburb of New Delhi, India, called Washington, D.C. It’s an open source app — but that’s probably just a cynical attempt to lock up the Linux vote.

Don't put aside those dreams of dot-com zillionaire glory, but in the meantime, oh my geek brothers and sisters, remember that we, like most Americans, work for a living, as salaried employees or hourly contractors, and everything the Republicans are doing, from overtime rules to workplace safety to tax rates to moving jobs offshore, are designed to screw Americans who work.

They expect your votes, but they won't even give you a job. Fire 'em from theirs. "Question Authority," indeed.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Meet the new Tsar, same as the old Tsar 
I'd be willing to bet that there are a lot of people in the Bush administration who are looking at this with admiration and envy, and are trying to figure out how they can pull off the same thing.
MOSCOW (AP) -- Responding to a series of deadly terror attacks, President Vladimir Putin on Monday moved to significantly strengthen the Kremlin's grip on power, with new measures that include the naming of regional governors and an overhaul of the electoral system.

Putin told Cabinet members and security officials convened in special session that the future of Russia was at stake and urged the creation of a central, powerful anti-terror agency.

``The organizers and perpetrators of the terror attack are aiming at the disintegration of the state, the breakup of Russia,'' he said. ``We need a single organization capable of not only dealing with terror attacks but also working to avert them, destroy criminals in their hideouts, and if necessary, abroad.''

Putin's declaration followed a series of stunning terror attacks blamed on Chechen rebels, climaxing in the three-day school seizure in southern Russia in which more than 330 people were killed.

He said he would propose legislation abolishing the election of local governors by popular vote. Instead, they would be nominated by the president and confirmed by local legislatures -- a move that would undo the remaining vestiges of the local autonomy already chipped away by Putin during his first term in office.

Putin explained his move by the need to streamline and strengthen the executive branch to make it more capable of combating terror.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Hold on, it's comin' 
Get those Air Canada tickets ready for your sons and daughters.
Powell Says War Service Should Pertain to Everyone

By Lori Santos

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell refused to get into the debate over the Vietnam service of the U.S. presidential candidates on Sunday but said if the United States ever went back to mandatory enlistment, everybody should be "equally liable" for war service.

All of a piece 
There's a LOT of sniping about the war in Iraq. The (non)-existence of WMDs, the threat Saddam Hussein posed, or didn't pose, going after (or not) Osama bin Laden, ad nauseum. And, while these are things worth discussing, arguing over, taking a stand on- they are, at this stage, mostly of academic interest. We (the US) did what we did, for whatever reasons we did them. Our troops are there in Iraq, and (to a distressingly smaller degree) in Afghanistan. That being the case, we need now to deal with the situation as it exists and leave motives and missed opportunities for later examination. There's a war on, after all, and a President to elect.

So what IS the situation on the ground? How is the war going? Is it being well-prosecuted? Is our self-declared War President performing as we need a war president to perform?
New Spasm of Violence Sweeps Iraq, Killing 110

By Ibon Villelabeitia

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 110 people were killed across Iraq on Sunday in a sharp escalation of violence that saw gun battles, car bombs and bombardments rock the capital.

U.S. Stands by Iraq Election Schedule Despite Attacks

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

With President Bush under fire from Democratic rival John Kerry over the mounting death toll in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell defended the war while acknowledging, "This insurgency isn't going to go away."

Up to 7 Die in Clashes Over Ousted Afghan Governor

By Saeed Haqiqi and Sayed Salahuddin

HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Up to seven supporters of an ousted Afghan governor were killed and 20 wounded on Sunday in clashes with police and U.S. troops in the western city of Herat, which was placed under night curfew.

U.S. Deaths in Iraq Top 1,000, Aid Groups Eye Exit

By Ibon Villelabeitia

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Dozens of international aid agencies considered quitting Iraq on Wednesday following the abduction of two Italian women, and as the U.S. military death toll rose above 1,000.

A coordinator for foreign aid groups said he expected most of the remaining 50 or so organizations to pull out following the kidnapping of the Italians, in Iraq to help child victims of war, from their Baghdad office on Tuesday.

CIA hid dozens of Abu Ghraib `ghost detainees,' investigators say

By Jonathan S. Landay and Sumana Chatterjee
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The CIA had dozens of Iraqi "ghost detainees" secretly held at Abu Ghraib prison - a number far higher than previously disclosed - so they could be hidden from Red Cross monitors, Army investigators said on Thursday.

Gen. Paul J. Kern and Maj. Gen. George R. Fay said they asked repeatedly for information on the detainees during investigations into the abuse of inmates at the Army-run facility outside Baghdad, but the CIA refused to answer.
On the basis of these, and so many more, stories of colossal military AND diplomatic incompetence, even if you're totally convinced that war in Iraq was and is the right thing, George W Bush is so clearly the wrong person to be Commander In Chief. As a war president, he's a dismal failure.

Un-elect him.

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