Friday, October 22, 2004

The New Republic: John Kerry for President. Salient quotes:
The president's war on terrorism, which initially offered a striking contrast to his special interest-driven domestic agenda, has come to resemble it. The common thread is ideological certainty untroubled by empirical evidence, intellectual curiosity, or open debate. The ideology that guides this president's war on terrorism is more appealing than the corporate cronyism that guides his domestic policy. But it has been pursued with the same sectarian, thuggish, and ultimately self-defeating spirit. You cannot lead the world without listening to it. You cannot make the Middle East more democratic while making it more anti-American. You cannot make the United States more secure while using security as a partisan weapon. And you cannot demand accountable government abroad while undermining it at home.

* * * *

On domestic policy, Bush has been Newt Gingrich without the candor. . . . But, rather than explicitly opposing popular government programs, as Gingrich did, Bush has pursued a more duplicitous strategy: He is eviscerating the government's ability to pay for them. His tax cuts. . . will produce what Bush's former Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, has privately called a "fiscal crisis"--a collapse in government revenue just as the baby-boom retirement sends Medicare and Social Security costs skyrocketing. This crisis will sap America's ability to wage the war on terrorism--since government will lack the funds to adequately safeguard homeland security or expand the military. It will create enormous pressure to eviscerate the government protections that guarantee poor and middle-class Americans even the meager economic security they enjoy today. And it will be entirely by design.

* * * *

By contrast, John Kerry has a record of fiscal honesty and responsibility that continues the tradition of Bill Clinton and Robert Rubin. Unlike most Democrats, he supported the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-reduction plan. Unlike most Republicans, he supported Clinton's 1993 deficit-reduction package. And, unlike President Bush, he supports the "pay as you go" rules that, in the 1990s, helped produce a budget surplus.

* * * *

In the weeks after September 11, Bush presided over a country more united--with more faith in its government--than at any other time in recent memory. He has squandered that unity and trust for the cheapest of reasons. His administration has used the war on terrorism as a bludgeon against congressional Democrats and has implied that its critics are aiding the enemy. And it has repeatedly misled the public--touting supposed evidence of Iraq's nuclear program that American intelligence analysts knew was highly dubious, rebuking General Eric Shinseki for telling the truth about how many troops it would take to occupy Iraq successfully, and firing Lawrence Lindsey for saying how much it would cost.

The result is a country bitterly divided, distrustful of its government, and weaker as a result. The next time an American president tries to use force in the war on terrorism, he will not merely lack the world's trust, he will lack much of the American people's as well. That may be Bush's most damning legacy of all. He has failed the challenge of these momentous times. John Kerry deserves a chance to do better.
A damning indictment of the Bush presidency, and, to my way of thinking, an accurate one.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Glenn says that when he's elected president, he'll nominate Eugene Volokh for the Supreme Court. Hey, what about ME???

I mean, not to rely on influence, long association and knowing where his skeleton-filled closets are, but I do also have to room with him on our dive trips. That oughtta be worth something.

Anybody there?
From the Wall Street Journal bureau chief in Iraq comes this scathing report of conditions inside the country. Some scary quotes:
I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were allowed to run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly sad.

* * * *
One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a

* * * *
I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some degree elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"
Interesting postscript: the bureau chief author of the above is now reported to have left Baghdad for a "long vacation."

Whether the U.S. can succeed in its stated goal to bring stability and democracy is an open question. What is quite clear by now is that the Bush Administration completely failed to comprehend [refused to believe?] that making war would cause chaos, create a clearing house for terrorism, and quite possible lead Iraq into internecine cvil war.

If things had gone well, Bush would have been able to take the credit, and probably the election in a landslide. But things did not go and are not going well, so Bush must take the responsibility.
An outfit called IceRocket has a search engine just for blogs. Check it out.
I just got an email from the Bush campaign, addressed to "Jewish Outreach." The subject was Arafat's "endorsement" of Kerry. Awfully kind of the Bushies to let me know. It does beg the question, however, of why people other than Jewish folks would not be interested in this news. The religious/ethnic stereotyping obviously employed by the Bush campaign is, frankly, reprehensible.

Interestingly, Arafat, technically, has not endorsed Kerry or anybody else:

Arafat deputy and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told WND in an exclusive interview that while "we do not involve ourselves in internal American politics," at the same time "our region has been sliding deeper and deeper into chaos because of certain policies over the past few years, and this needs to change."

While he would not directly endorse Kerry, it was clear Erekat was implying the PA wants a change in White House leadership: "If things continue the way they are, if certain policies toward our region are maintained in the years to come, there is going to be a lot of violence on both sides."
Thus, Arafat has made no direct statement on the matter; an aide is speaking for him. Further, no direct endorsement was made.

Now, this might be splitting hairs, but the Bush trumpeting of an Arafat "endorsement" is just not accurate. Moreover, Kerry has no control over what Arafat or his people do. It would be a mistake to assume that Kerry is pro-palestinean or pro-Arafat simply because a Palstinean fellow made supporting statements about him. That does not compute.

And, while I no more support the Palestinean cause than I do terrorism [maybe the same thing?], it's no surprise that the Palestineans want regime change in the U.S., as Bush has been anathema to them.

Actually, the only good thing I can say about the Bush Administration is that its policy re: Israel has more or less recognized that the Palestineans have not acted and still do not act in good faith. Conversely, my biggest fear about a Kerry presidency is that he would re-elevate the grandaddy of terrorists and further muddle the situation in the Middle East.

Note by the way that I do not use the term "peace process," because I think that there is no peace process without both the warring parties acting in good faith. Given the Palestinean track record, I see no evidence of good faith movement toward peaceful co-existence with Israel. Ever.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

JibJab has competition. Check this out for a, ahem, lighter side to this political season.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

God help us all? A scathing graphical presentation accusing Katherine Harris, then Florida Secretary of State, Supervisor of Elections and head of the Bush campaign in Florida, of illegally disenfranchising at least 55,100 voters. As the presentation says, did she go to jail? Was she censured? Publicly lambasted? No. She is now a congresswoman from Florida. If the animation is accurate, it's devastating.

The Greg Palast BBC newscast upon which the presentation is based is here. And while the report is from 2001, it does beg the question: will it happen again?