Third Party & Independents

Critique the Message, Not the Messenger
September 2003 Archives

September 30, 2003

Third Gitmo Prison Arrest

The government announced that a third Gitmo insider, Egyptian-American translator Ahmed Fathy Mehalba, has been arrested, on charges of espionage and smuggling secret materials out of the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The arrests of Ahmed, another translator and a Muslim chaplain, raise questions about the security and what is able to be taken out of the prison facility. The charges of espionage also raise new concerns over Homeland Security's background screening requirements.

In retrospect, the military appears to have a hearty helping of crow when considering the numerous dismissals of Arabic and Korean linguists since 9/11 that occured because they were gay or lesbian.

Muslims for Kucinich

The Democrat's presidential candidate from Cleveland, Dennis Kucinich, has some very odd supporters. Apparently there is a site in the blogosphere called "Muslims for Kucinich", which is to say, a site dedicated to Kucinich, from adoring muslims. While I did not find any mention of global jihad, there is obvious support of his antagonizing viewpoint of Israel in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Perhaps Kucinich should consider issuing fatwahs from his campaign podium in the future.

Novak: Leak Not From White House

In the latest twist of the CIA outing probe, Robert Novak appears to have had a change of heart on his allegation that the source of the information came from the White House. Monday at noon, in seeming anticipation of the Novak statement later in the day, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was quick to say that the had not come from the White House and practically dared reporters to name names and come forward to the Department of Justice. Aside from Novak, it is believed that six other reporters were contacted with the information (including the Washington Post, who has been leading the story), but chose not to divulge their sources. So what's to be made of this odd tangle of denials, leaks and rebukes?

» Continue reading "Novak: Leak Not From White House"

September 29, 2003

Diebold's Voting Problem gets Bill

Security issues have been dogging Deibold, the nation's primary supplier of computer-based voting systems. To counter allegations of insecurity, the company has taken an aggressive stance, going so far as to have a website that published internal security memos taken offline. To counter the possibility of a digital redux of Florida during elections 2004, Rep. Rush Holt (D - New Jersey) has drafted a bill (H.R. 2239) that would require ATM-like receipts to be printed and paper copies to be stored for recounts. It should be noted that this bill would catch voting discrepancies (if there are any) through the use of random manual recounts (paper receipts) of .5% of domestic and .5% of overseas jurisdictions.

Smoke and Mirrors: Administration Flails in its Efforts to Justify War…

The Bush Administration’s mouth-pieces were out in force on the Sunday “news” talk shows trying to justify a War that never should have been prosecuted. Condoleezza Rice (who I now find it very hard to trust) said the administration relied on "an enrichment" of 5-year-old intelligence to rationalize its—now much maligned—claims that Iraq had WMD, and was therefore a clear and present danger to the United States.

The house of WMD cards is slowly crumbling, and even the usually muted Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is chiming in, stating that it has concluded that most of the information provided by Iraqi defectors was of little or no military or intelligence value. How can any intelligent, rational person still cling to the fantasy that the Bush Administration did not lie to the American people in its zeal to invade a sovereign nation?

September 28, 2003

Did the Bush Administration Exact Revenge for Dissent Within the Intelligence Community?

Recently, a lot of attention has been paid to the intelligence used to justify the latest Iraq war. One of the problems often cited is the administration's insistence that American intelligence organizations provide information that would make the case for the war. The BBC and Washington Post are reporting that the US Dept. of Justice is currently investigating members of the Bush administration for compromising the identity of an intelligence agent who is married to a former US diplomat critical of the administration's case for war. When revealing the identity of a covert agent is an action used for retribution for critical remarks of the administration and its policy, is it any wonder intelligence suffers?

Posted by cjkarr at 10:22 PM

September 26, 2003

Poverty Rate Rises for second consecutive Year in U.S.

Fresh on the heals of Bush’s dismal showing in the latest polls, comes word that the number of Americans living at or under the Poverty Line has risen “markedly” for the second straight year, due to plummeting pay rates, and a dismal job outlook. According to the Census Bureau the country’s median income fell $500 in 2002.

CNN reports:

The Census Bureau Reported that 34.6 million people, or 12.1 percent of the population, were living in poverty, up from 32.9 million people or 11.7 percent in 2001, when the economy went into recession after a decade of growth. The median household income, when adjusted for inflation, fell 1.1 percent to $42,409, according to the bureau, which released two comprehensive annual reports looking at poverty and income in America.

Yes, those tax breaks for the rich are really helping the economy, see how many jobs they are creating: trickle, trickle, trickle…

September 25, 2003

On Off On Off - Do Not Call List Starting to Resemble a Strobe Light

It's getting hard to follow with the quick sleight of hand both sides seem to be pulling. Tuesday, an Oklahoma court blocked the list, citing that the FTC should not have control. Thursday, Congress re-approved the measure 412-8, overturning the ruling. Thursday night, another judge in Denver decided to overturn Congress again. If you're confused, join the crowd. But for the next few moment (at least until Oct 1), telemarketers can still call regardless of the court fiasco. In other news, fifty million people are angrily looking up the phone numbers of judges (the numbers have indeed been made public, but as an editor who doesn't want to go to jail for harassing federal judges or encouraging it, I can't give out that info).

Correction: The second judge to block the list was from Denver, Colorado. Not Oklahoma.

Left or Right: Both are Wrong

I have two political bumper stickers on my car, one says "Shut up Hippy" and the other states "F**k the Right". I get a lot of waves, honks, middle fingers, peace signs, angry looks, and really really angry looks. I also have car insurance in case the Hippies or the Right decides to vandalize my car. I have a Harley Davidson sticker as well, I like to think it's the tip-off to people that I'm pro-America, pro-business, and pro-"insert biker stereotype here" (yes I ride a Harley). The point is to make people think, it's a blatant contradiction in today's America because it concisely states my position: both major parties are wrong and do not represent the people.

So when I get accused of being a Democrat (I'm not, I'm an independent with a slight Libertarian lean) -- and of bashing on Bush because I've got my guns out for Republicans or some nonsense -- I have to take offense. Or at least clarify my position.

» Continue reading "Left or Right: Both are Wrong"

September 24, 2003

Bush Approval Rating Lowest Yet

49 percent (obligatory ±3.1% MoE thingy). That's how many people who were polled by a joint NBC/WSJ sponsored poll think Bush is still doing a good job. Bush's presidential numbers haven't been this low in well... ever. For the naysaysers out there, please tell me how the Wall Street Journal is suddenly a bastion of liberals and anti-Bushites who are foaming at the mouth to make him look bad. The good news is that 6 in 10 think giving Afghanistan back to the Taliban is a good thing Bush is doing a good job at handling the War on Terror.

Military Suicide in Iraq

The signs of low morale are everywhere. Embedded reporters tell about longer deployments and troops who are confused and upset when told they will not come home until December or later. The daily drumbeat of casualties and deaths must have a chilling effect on these brave men who have been put in harm's way. There are increasing reports of soldiers becoming frantic in their desire to return home. The recent discrepancy between what is reported and what is kept close to the Pentagon causes one to wonder if there is a growing cause for alarm. Alarm that our troops may be so desperate, they are willing to injure themselves (malingering), or commit suicide.

» Continue reading "Military Suicide in Iraq"

September 23, 2003

Journo claims proof of WMD lies

John Pilger says he has evidence the war against Iraq was based on a lie that could cost George W. Bush and Tony Blair their jobs and bring Prime Minister John Howard down with them. Pilger uncovered video footage of Powell in Cairo on February 24, 2001 saying, "He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours." Pilger claims this confirms that the decision of US President George W Bush - with the full support of British Prime Minister Blair and Howard - to wage war on Saddam because he had weapons of mass destruction was a huge deception.

UPDATE: The tape is very likely real, the U.S. Dept. of State website has the interview online with the same quote (click this article's read more link for just the question and quote in context). This is the smoking gun that proves Saddam did not pose a threat conventionally or with WMDs, even before 9/11.

» Continue reading "Journo claims proof of WMD lies"

Putting the Taliban Back in Power

Perhaps it's a precursor to what's to come in Iraq, or it could be just a bad plan exposed, but reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan now include a concerted effort to recruit former "low level" Taliban leadership. To some this may reek of hipocracy and reverse nation-building (a.k.a. terrorism building), but the truth may be that that Afghanistan is an incredibly difficult country to occupy and run, and the U.S. has had to seek assistance from the former leadership: "US intelligence clearly realized this situation, and since the beginning of the year it has attempted to reach a compromise with the Taliban, on the proviso that they (the US) do not lose face."

September 22, 2003

In A Quest for National Identity

In light of California governor Gray Davis’ ill-informed, vote pandering decision (the GOP is predictably livid) on Sept. 5 to sign into law a bill making it easier for “illegal” immigrants to obtain “legal” drivers licenses, ones, I hasten to add that by virtue of Constitutional proclamation (Article 4, Section 1) would have to be recognized in all fifty states, I once again examine the issue of a national ID card:

There can be no denying that since the September 11, 2001 attacks America has changed in ways we never would have imagined on September 10, 2001. Before September 11th, an attack on U.S. soil in which thousands of innocent people lost their lives in 30 minutes of stupefying evil was unthinkable to most Americans; it simply was not on our collective to-do lists. And yet life hasn’t changed in America in some very important and costly respects. We still as a society cling to the notion that we can have safety without giving up even a modicum of personal privacy or freedom.

» Continue reading "In A Quest for National Identity"

PATRIOT Act Scrutiny Increases

In an effort to dismiss critics, Attorney General John Ashcroft declared that The PATRIOT Act has not been used to clandestinely view library reading records, at the same time, deriding such apprehension as "hysterics". One reporter bothered to investigate the claim and found that "[D]aniel Bryant, said in December 2002 that federal agents had in fact sought information from libraries as part of terrorism investigations." He also makes a good case for why we should not trust Ashcroft or the government in general because suspicion of those in power is a cornerstone of a balanced democratic republic. The full report from Ed Weathers: PATRIOT Act, Round Ten: The nation's attorney general is on the ropes and swinging wildly.

September 20, 2003

Clark Flip-Flops on Iraq War

Wesley Clark needs to stick to a single stance. One day he's telling a reporter that he would have supported the Congressional resolution authorizing the United States to invade. A mere 24 hours later, and he's on the other side of the argument: "I would have never voted for war,". Watching Clinton and Bush work their wand with words in this manner has made me skeptical of any candidate who seeks to do the same.

How to Talk from Both Sides of a Mouth

Here's what Bush said this week (from David R. Remer's post):

"There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaida ties," the president said. But he also said, "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th."
But let's have our cake and eat it too shall we (Presidential letter to Senate):
(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Here's another example: all the "support the troops" talk seems to be over, as employers are increasingly firing military reservists.

September 19, 2003

George W. Bush is not a Liar

by Brian Wimer

Please, let's be reasonable. We can't say Bush lied. No we simply mustn't. For the sake of the nation, and the nation's children, and the nation's children's children, it shouldn't be said.

He did not lie when he told the nation in October of 2002 that Saddam Hussein had a "massive stockpile of biological weapons" and "thousands of tons of chemical agents."

No, he prevaricated. George W. is a benevolent prevaricator, yes, a global prevaricator, even a hegemonic prevaricator, perhaps. But not a liar. Never. A fibber. Not a liar.

» Continue reading "George W. Bush is not a Liar"

September 18, 2003

Max Cleland compares Iraq to Vietnam (and hates America)

Former U.S. Senator Max Cleland must hate America. Why else would a highly decorated soldier, who was awarded a Bronze Star and a Silver Star, compare the current Iraq War to Vietnam, of which he was a part? Could Mr. Cleland be suffering delirium as he looks at the empty space where his legs and right arm used to be? Did recent reminiscing about his tenure as head of Veterans Administration, aiding war-scarred veterans, convince him that Saddam Hussein's iron rule was so magnanimous, that he would rather see him with the reins of Iraq and mistreating his people, rather than send our own troops to depose of such a worthless tyrant who had access to such terrible weapons of mass destruction? How could Cleland, justify not sending our military in to secure the imminent threat of Saddam's arsenal of weapons and scientists that could have been transferred to Al Qaeda?

Tell us Max Cleland, why do you hate America?!?

Why I call myself a moderate

My girlfriend says I'm a Democrat, my fraternity brothers say I'm a Republican and I keep saying I'm a moderate with no clear political ties. One one hand I hate what Bush has done to this country. On the other hand I agree with some of the GOP's stances. After looking at the numbers in my post "The Polls are in: It's split down the middle!" it's clear that I'm not the only one riding the fence.

Both Democrats and Republicans might be interested in the anatomy of the moderate and pay close attention to the ever growing swing vote. Read on for the specific reason I call myself a moderate.

» Continue reading "Why I call myself a moderate"

Posted by joestump at 6:17 PM

Mini Nukes in the Future

Americans don't want terrorists to have nuclear weapons, and the Iraq War was based on a similar premise. Yet for all the noise-making and contortions that the world would be safer without nukes going off, the U.S. is ready to make nuclear warfare a reality with "small arms" race, arms which would be capable of delivering strategic explosions and doses of deadly radiation to enemy states. Analysts are concerned this could lead other countries to develop similar weapons, with a wink to the U.S. for removing the taboo of nuclear weapons. With the current wave of terrorist attacks in Iraq, the news may be cause for a different kind of alarm; Instead of attacking troops in a bid to kill them, terrorists could be more vigorously drawn to fighting units in hopes that they could acquire small and portable nuclear arms that could be used against civilians in densely populated areas.

September 16, 2003

Senate Approves Overturn of FCC Rules

In a bid to reverse what many consider a bad initiative by the FCC, the Senate passed (55 to 40) a bill of disapproval, that would initiate a rollback of broad rule changes that gave media companies looser ownership restrictions for multiple outlets in the same market. The premise of the argument is that the new rules would have encouraged media companies to act in a heightened oligopolistic manner. Details of the FCC rule changes in question were covered in a June 2nd article. Senator Dorgan (D - N.D.) expressed his concern on the matter: "We're telling the FCC to do it over and do it right. Reverting back to June 2 is not catastrophic as far as I'm concerned."

September 15, 2003

Bush Ties Jobs to Clean Air & Blackout?

Here’s a question: what does a blackout which lasted less than 48 hours have to do with job growth? Here is another question: what has clean air have to do with creating jobs? In a speech today at a huge coal-fired power plant on Lake Erie Bush (our Accidental President) hyping his flawed energy policies said: “The lights went out last month -- you know that…[i]t might have been good for candle sales, but it certainly was not good for job growth…[i]t recognizes that we've got an issue with our electricity grid and we need to modernize it.''

» Continue reading "Bush Ties Jobs to Clean Air & Blackout?"

Calif Recall Postponed

Citing outmoded punch-card concerns and possible voter disenfranchisement of minority and poor voters, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has delayed the recall election, from Oct 7th, to "a few months". The American Civil Liberties Union brought the case and the judges agreed that the machines, which are similar to those used in Florida during the 2000 presidential elections, were prone to error (up to 44%). Davis strategists hope to use this to their benefit in order to tie the recall to the March 2004 presidential primary, which could bring higher voter turnout, especially among Democrats.

September 14, 2003

PATRIOT Act: Not just for Terrorists Anymore!

I had a long rather drawn out discussion with Richard Bennett about the problems posed by the Patriot Act. His stance was that the privacy concerns were nothing to worry about when compared with the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, which is open to debate.

In addition to privacy concerns we now have to worry about being charged as terrorists for crimes totally unrelated to terrorism.

» Continue reading "PATRIOT Act: Not just for Terrorists Anymore!"

Posted by joestump at 11:34 PM

Casualty Cover-Up

The Observer has an article covering the true extent of casualties in Iraq: America's hidden battlefield toll. The finding exposes a Pentagon policy of under-reporting casualties and only releasing figures for fatalities involved in combat or accidents. The discovery has unearthed 1,178 wounded in combat since the war began on March 20th. These are part of over 6,000 that have been evacuated from Iraq for medical reasons. The Observer notes on this figure:

It is believed many of the American casualties evacuated from Iraq are seriously injured. Modern body armour, worn by almost all American troops, means wounds that would normally kill a man are avoided. However vulnerable arms and legs are affected badly. This has boosted the proportion of maimed among the injured.
There is an obvious descrepancy that 19% of injuries are reported as combat-related; Is this a hidden implication of friendly fire, dangerous equipment, clumsiness or something more offbeat? Hopefully The Observer will release it's full report on the matter.

Revisiting Public Opinion

A few months ago I wrote up an entry covering public opinion and Iraq called Public opinion, Iraq and 2004. In the entry I went over some of the most recent public opinoin polls. I mentioned how the public's perception of fighing in Iraq had been quickly shifting. In fact, the drop was from 86% thinking it was going well in May to a mere 56% one month later.

How have the numbers changed since then?

» Continue reading "Revisiting Public Opinion"

Posted by joestump at 2:20 PM

September 11, 2003

September 11th Anger Still Alive

One thing is for sure, regardless of whether you're angry at George Bush, or stand behind him faithfully, there is still a dark cloud of anger over what happened two years ago. On one hand, there are plenty of sites that bring up very good questions and documentation surrounding that fateful day, including two prominant sites, UnansweredQuestions.org and The Memory Hole, which also has an entire page devoted to 9/11 facts and papers (the political equivalent of The Smoking Gun website). Another side of me is torn by those who buy into theories without bothering to investigate at all, after all... a large portion of 1930's Germany was convinced that Jews were taking over the world, even after The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was proven to be a hoax.

» Continue reading "September 11th Anger Still Alive"

Remembering the Forgotten

On this somber occasion it is important to remember both the biggest story of this century as well as the top 25 most censored stories of 2002-2003. The stories, compiled by Project Censored cover a wide range of topics.

  • US Illegally Removes Pages from Iraq UN Report "Throughout the winter of 2002, the Bush administration publicly accused Iraqi weapons declarations of being incomplete. The almost unbelievable reality of this situation is that it was the United States itself that had removed over 8,000 pages of the 11,800 page original report. "
  • Homeland Security Threatens Civil Liberty "One Department of Homeland Security mandate largely ignored by the press requires the FBI, CIA, state, and local governments to share intelligence reports with the department upon command, without explanation. Civil rights activists claim that this endangers the rights and freedoms of law-abiding Americans by blurring the lines between foreign and domestic spying (as occurred during the CointelPro plan of the '60s and '70s). According to the ACLU, the Department of Homeland Security will be "100% secret and 0% accountable."
» Continue reading "Remembering the Forgotten"

Posted by joestump at 1:24 PM

September 10, 2003

Bush Proposes Limiting Federal 2004 GS Pay Raise to 2 Percent

Our Accidental President, Mr. Bush after pushing through a record tax cut for the rich and building up the largest budget deficit in U.S. history, now has the audacity to transmit to Congress a plan to limit the pay increase payable to civilian federal employees. Mr. Bush proposal would affect General Schedule (GS) and certain other pay systems limiting their January 2004 raises to a total of 2 percent. And of that amount, only one and a half percent would be allocated to an across-the-board increase, and the remaining 0.5 percent to locality pay.

In accordance with Title 5, Part III, Subpart D, Ch. 53, Sub-Chapter III of the U.S. Code, these federal employees would receive a two-part pay increase in January 2004: (1) a 2.7 percent across-the-board increase in scheduled rates of basic pay, and (2) a locality pay increase based on Bureau of Labor Statistics' salary surveys of non-federal employers in each locality pay area; e.g. Chicago, New York, Los Angles, Atlanta, etc.

» Continue reading "Bush Proposes Limiting Federal 2004 GS Pay Raise to 2 Percent"

September 9, 2003

$87 Billion Dollars

It's no trifle sum, and many fiscal conservatives are beginning to question the implications:

  • Where will this large sum of money will be coming from?
  • How does the Bush administration plan on sending such a great amount of foreign aid without financially hurting America?
  • Are we burdening future generations with an unmanageable debt?
So I decided to try and come up with a plan to solve not only the the foreign cost of Iraq and Afghanistan, but the domestic woes of unemployment.

» Continue reading "$87 Billion Dollars"

September 8, 2003

Stuck in the middle between Kofi and Tweedle Dee

President Bush's recent speech brought some good news and some bad news. The good news is it appears that Bush is bucking his neo-conservative cabinet (mainly Cheney and Rumsfeld) by putting forth a UN resolution requesting aid for the current Iraq debacle. This is good for Republicans and Democrats alike. Republicans will like this because it may result in lowering the US's bottom line as far as spending on Iraq, while the Democrats can use it as ammunition in 2004.

The bad news, of course, is that for the next year the operations will cost us upwards of 90 (pinky raised) billion dollars. Considering this is almost 24% of what we spent, federally, on education in 1999-2000 one has to wonder if the entire operation really was worth it. While looking for the above education statistic I happened across a site that translates dollars spent on the military into opportunity costs for education.

» Continue reading "Stuck in the middle between Kofi and Tweedle Dee"

Posted by joestump at 5:31 PM

Quote-Unquote

Republicans in Colorado are preparing an "Academic Bill of Rights", that basically boils down to forcing a quota of political conservatives on the faculty of the state colleges. There have been plenty of very insightful comments by critics of the plan, notably observations that this is affirmative action for conservatives, and that the reason that conservatives are "under represented" (if they are, there is no statistical evidence that this is true) is because Republicans want to work in private industry, not in lower paying public service jobs. I lived in Denver for several years, and I would argue that at least in terms of invited speakers conservatives certainly have nothing to complain about in Colorado. I couldn't speak to faculty political affiliations as I wasn't that closely involved with the schools. Even if it's true that conservatives are not present in numbers proportional to their percentage of the population, isn't it a bit hypocritical to be demanding quotas when the ending of affirmative action is one of their primary tenets?

Posted by rev_matt_y at 5:01 PM

September 6, 2003

People care about the economy?

It's amazing to think, but the citizens actually care more about putting food on the table than hunting terrorists in Iraq. Would you rather feed your family or see that Saddam's is obliterated? I'm betting you'd choose your family.

Bush's recent tax cut isn't producing the desired results as we now see 69,000 jobs a month disappear under the current administration. I don't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat, you have to admit the numbers, when compared to every other President since Truman, are staggering. Even his father managed to put over 50,000 jobs a month into the economy.

With a large exodus of manufacturing jobs, thanks largely to NAFTA under Clinton and now white collar jobs heading to India and Russia, what are we to do? Maybe our short-term memories will finally serve us well this next election by choosing an administration that cares about the economy and those who are losing their jobs and not the current one who cares only about pushing a neo-patriotic agenda.

Posted by joestump at 12:17 PM

September 3, 2003

Rhetoric Only Gets You so Far

The Exile, a Moscow alternanive newspaper, has a highly interesting editorial based on America's unwillingness to follow through with it's occupation of Iraq. Writer Gary Brecher (a.k.a. "War Nerd") takes off the gloves in his piece: "You Pussies!". His take is that war is brutal and never pleasant, and condemns those who are backing away from their initial hawkish stance (based on recent polls). A worthy read which includes facts about lesser known occupations in history.

September 1, 2003

War Zone is no place for civilian contractors…

Like an unwelcome house guest, stories of civilian contractors failing in their support of U.S. troops in Iraq and elsewhere, keep flooding the airwaves and newsprint. An Army is totally ineffective without reliable support; troops need to be fed, clothed, housed, entertained, and medicated in the rear. I always thought it was folly to replace military support personnel trained to deal with the rigors, dangers, and horrors of war, with civilian contractors who may or may not show up and do their jobs.

» Continue reading "War Zone is no place for civilian contractors…"