Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 30, 2004

The Exit Strategy

A foreign policy trial ballon from a current Financial Times article:

Members of the municipal council of Basra, Iraq's second largest city, have been holding talks with officials from councils in two neighbouring provinces on establishing a federal region in the south, ... The three provinces - Basra, Missan and Dhiqar - account for more than 80 per cent of the proved oil reserves of the country's 18 provinces and provide a large share of the national income.
...
people close to the Iraqi government say some officials driving the autonomy talks are backed by Muqtada al-Sadr, the renegade Shia cleric who launched an uprising against American troops in July.

This Fictional Times article, January 2005, puts more light on the issue:
The occupation authorities in Iraq have secretly asked two confidants, who afore had been appointed to the city council of Basra, to take over the government of the southern province. They are to form an administrative unit with those two neighbour provinces that account for most of Iraq’s oil reserves.

Only one cabinet member from the southern provinces is member of Prime Ministers Allawis cabinet, created by the Coalition Provisional Administration. "Unfortunately this now allows The South to complain about under representation in the central government." the US ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Negroponte, explained. "We are trying to correct this sad error by lobbying the central government for more local latitude in The South."

A Marine Corp general in Bagdhad gave some background on the military situation. "As the 15 northern provinces are now controlled by Iraqi personal, we can immediately reduce our troop numbers significantly. 50,000 men and women will stay in Iraq and will continue to build democracy. For logistical reasons I have proposed to station them exclusivly in the Autonomous Southern Provinces. This will shorten our lines of communication as supply will come through the harbour of Basra. It´s also only a short jump from our air bases in Kuwait."

A British general added: "As the British troops are leaving, the American forces will take over our tasks. There have been less clashes here as in the Kurdish Kirkuk, the Sunni triangle and the Shia areas around Najaf, so their task here will be a lot easier. There will be fewer body bags."

Prime Minister Allawi could not be reached for a statement as he is currently consulting with Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf. Al Sadr, who had been said to be interested in the southern provinces, had denied such ambitions and had pointed out that no significant symbolic places of Islam are located in the south. After Sistanis death, the young cleric is expected to control the significant money flow generated by Shia pilgrimage in Najaf.

"The process we are now engaged in, will lead to a completely Autonomous South" a former senior official working at the AEI in Washington envisioned. "That new national entity has strong family and tribal relations with their brothers across the southern border. In the long term these borders may vanish and a reunited Dawlat al Kuwayt will emerge as a new prosperous and peaceful diamond in the northern Gulf."

The Financial Times article Oil-rich Iraqi provinces push for autonomy is just the trial ballon. They are dead serious with this concept and for the neocons as for the realists it makes a whole lot of sense. If the other 15 Iraqi provinces will be a dirt poor hell on earth - who cares?

Posted by b on September 30, 2004 at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (62)

Con Job

In CPI: Camouflaging Price Increase I voiced some shrill words about the official US inflation numbers. Billmon has been on this several times. Now we have the honor to be joined by Bill Gross, Managing Director for PIMCO, who oversees nearly $400 billion in fixed income assets. In his current Investment Outlook he opines on the government officials who produce the official numbers and looks at the real ones.

“Inflation under control” – (ex food and energy of course) shout the carnival barkers. “The CORE is running at just under 2%,” .. No matter that a gallon of gasoline is over 2 bucks or that a half gallon of milk will set you back $3.69; the CORE is under 2%.

.. prices of desktop and notebook computers declined by 8% a year during the past decade, The WSJ reports but because the machines’ computer power and memory have improved, their hedonically adjusted prices have dropped by 25% a year since 1997. No wonder the core is less than 2% with computers dropping by that much every year. But did your new model computer come with a 25% discount from last year’s price?
...
In addition, when “substitution bias” (a BLS maneuver that follows your preference for Chicken McNuggets vs. a Quarter Pounder) is eliminated, the gap gets even worse.
...
The CPI as calculated may not be a conspiracy but it’s definitely a con job foisted on an unwitting public by government officials ..
...
[These statistics] might serve [Greenspan] well, but they do a disservice to those grounded in the reality of stretching a paycheck for new cars, laptop computers, and cell phones that somehow haven’t gone down as much in price as the government says they have.
...
High productivity? Nonsense, in part – statistical, hedonically created nonsense. My sense is that the CPI is really 1% higher than official figures and that real GDP is 1% less.

Mr. Gross does not mention the home owner equivilant rent, the biggest chunk in the CPI calculation, where increasing housing costs for home owners are substituted by decreasing statistical apartment rents. This alone makes for 1% unaccounted inflation. Add that to Mr. Gross' 1% and the official numbers and the true picture comes to light. Inflation is around 5-6% and GDP growth at maybe 1%. The official high productivity growth is and has been no growth at all.

As more international recognized money managers go public with these facts, international investors will take note. When they start to pull out their money, the real state of the US economy will be unveiled. Sell your US treasuries and bonds now and buy some value in Euroland, Australia or elsewhere.

Posted by b on September 30, 2004 at 08:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Fresh Open Thread

Any ideas about the dual staged press conference, The Debate, tonight?

Posted by b on September 30, 2004 at 05:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (48)

Perception Management

I am flabbergasted by a recent Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) study that shows these results:

Majorities of Bush supporters favored including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (93%), and the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (68%), the International Criminal Court (75%), the treaty banning land mines (66%), and the Kyoto treaty on climate change (54%). Only 33% of Bush supporters wanted to build a new missile defense system now, while more wanted to do more research until its capabilities are proven (56%). Forty percent of Bush supporters favored increased defense spending, while 47% wanted it kept about the same (9% wanted to cut).
Suddenly I find myself agreeing with Bush supporters on several important foreign policy issues.

But why will they vote for somebody, who does not favor the positions they support? PIPA says they do not know Bush's real position.

Majorities of Bush supporters incorrectly assumed that Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (84%), and the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the International Criminal Court (66%), the treaty banning land mines (72%), and the Kyoto Treaty on global warming (51%). They were divided between those who knew that Bush favors building a new missile defense system now (44%) and those who incorrectly believe he wishes to do more research until its capabilities are proven (41%). However, majorities were correct that Bush favors increased defense spending (57%)
Two possibilities come to mind:
  • Bush supporters do not want to know Bush's real position.
  • Bush supporters are managed to perceive his position as they do.
The U. S. Department of Defense defines Perception Management as:
Actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to .. audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as to intelligence systems and leaders at all levels to influence official estimates, ultimately resulting in .. behaviors and official actions favorable to the originator’s objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover and deception, and psychological operations.
Are these the results of such actions? How can they be countered?

Posted by b on September 30, 2004 at 05:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

September 29, 2004

Intended Outcome?

Jim Sinclair is a serious trader in gold and commodities, and multimillionaire, with many years of international experience. Here is his view (Reg.req.) on Iraq (corrected version):

One cannot compare Iraq to the war in Vietnam. For one thing, Vietnam was never a critical player in the oil market and the war was never underpinned by any particular religious fanaticism. The world did not turn on the success or failure of the US war effort in Vietnam.

Iraq is infinitely more serious than Vietnam ever was in my view. However, the 2300 attacks discussed [in the New York Times] can be compared to the Tet Offensive in Vietnam by the North Vietnamese. If the election outcome is interpreted as a mandate for the use of force, which will likely be the case if George Bush is re-elected, the US will most certainly react exactly as it did during the Vietnam war under General Westmorland and the administration of that era.

As I have told you before, the “war against terrorism” is a contradiction in terms. War is an action and terrorism is a strategy with no particular geographical boundaries. War simply splinters terrorism into cells with no real central command. Since all combat promotes madness on all sides, failing to understand this brings one more horrific event after another.

The war to establish democracy in the Middle East will end up destroying democracy in the West. The US is in a terrible situation in Iraq exactly where the opposing forcers want it to be. A mandate for increased use of force there will be the “coup de grace” for the US Bill of Rights and the US Constitution. The names will remain but the soul will be compromised.


I am still wondering, if the results Jim sees coming, are or are not the intended outcome. A Clean Break, not only for Israel like in the original plan, but also for the political system of the United States.

Posted by b on September 29, 2004 at 04:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Outsourcing Services

There is a clear and present danger of more government jobs to be outsourced to foreign nations. A new bill, H.R. 10, which can be researched here, is coming to the floor of the House of Representatives.

Section 3032 and 3033 of the proposed bill will allow the government - at its sole discretion - to transfer people it is obliged to care for to other countries.

These foreign countries will then be tasked by the US government to provide the social care and health services that the government vigorously claims it is legally beholden to provide now. This is an absurd way to save the taxpayer's money and a huge step back from the blessings of the New Deal.

Through this bill a significant number of US government personal that, up to today, provides valuable social and health services to the inhabitants and guests of the United States, will loose their well paying jobs adding to the army of unemployed the current administration has already created.

Katherine at the Obsidian Wings has more information in her recent piece. Please join her in writing to your Representative and thereby help saving US government jobs for US workers.

Context Links:
NYT: Showdown Likely ...
WaPo: Irresponsible ...

Posted by b on September 29, 2004 at 07:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

September 28, 2004

The Real Test Is Your Action

by jdp

We have had several discussions at the Moon of Alabama about peak oil, what the market does concerning energy and how world stability affects oil prices. Well, instead of arguing over oil, I feel it's better to try and figure out and apply methods to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and be environmentally friendly. While this may not wet our appetites for Bush bashing, energy conservation surely isn't his favourite subject.

First some web sites. Everyone should go on-line to www.energysavers.gov, a US Department of Energy site and download "Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home." This booklet shows where in picture form and tells where you lose the most energy in your home and tips on how to correct problems.

Another useful website is the Energy Star site at: www.energystar.gov. This site rates all appliances in the home. If an appliance doesn't have an Energy Star label, you want to ask for Energy Star standard appliances.

Just some "Fast Facts" from an Energy Star fact sheet I received at a conference last week. "If every household in the United States changed the lighting in one room of their home to Energy Star,"

1. We would save 857 billion kWh of energy and keep one trillion pounds of greenhouse gases out of the air.
2. Our annual energy savings alone would be equivalent to the annual output of more than 21 power plants.
3. Our annual savings could light more than 34 million US homes for one year.

This should be more than enough reason to switch light bulbs in your house. Our family is doing our part. Our home has fluorescent throughout including my outside lights. Our first sets of fluorescent lights lasted seven years. My walkway lights are solar. Our home has extra insulation including six inch walls and fourteen inches in the ceiling. We also have insulated floors. All of our appliances are energy efficient and our washer is a low water use washer.

On the local level, some of the initiatives our community is involved in are amazing. The community has a bio mass power plant located in it. The community received an Agricultural Renaissance Zone designation for forty acres. To heat any new business that may locate in the Ag Zone, the community through grants and grant match, run a circulating hot water line using power plant cooling water. This will provide 90 degree plus hot water to the businesses, the heat can be extracted and the water returned cooler. This increases the efficiency of the power plant, and allows the Ag businesses a cheap source of heat. (Europe is far ahead of the US in this type of venture, though eco-parks are becoming more common in the US.)

Along the river in the community a functioning Grist Mill is being built. Much of the cost is being paid for by grants, donations from business and individuals, and donations from local governmental units. This project has been seven years in the making. It has a twenty foot high water wheel and will be able to provide grain grinding demonstrations, and produce electricity. On the building will be solar electric and in the river a micro-hydro unit to produce electricity. The building should have plenty of electric and put energy back on the grid. The building will be heated with ground water through a heat exchanger.

The walls will be insulated with 1 1/2 inch foam with foil backing that reflects cold and heat. The building is wrapped in foil insulation with a R 10.2 value. The walls will have a four inch dead air space giving the walls a total of R-30.6 value. The roof rafters have 1" ridged radiant barrier foam board with an R-12 factors. On top will be 12" of blown insulation with an R-38 value for a total of R-50 value in the ceilings. This is a great addition to the community. And as a side note, the community officially has a new telecom company that will be a rural cooperative. They will locate in a room in the Grist Mill building and provide telephone, internet, cable TV and home alarm services to areas that currently do not have phone service. Yes, there are still many areas in the US without telephone service.

These are a few things you can do, what I am doing and what our community is doing. We can argue about peak oil anytime, but, the real test is the actions you personally take to help the problem. I would appreciate stories of peoples own energy conservation efforts and any ideas.

Posted by b on September 28, 2004 at 07:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (36)

Bush with a Bathtub in Baghdad

by Koreyel

The REAL reason we went to war in Iraq, if you must know, is that after 9-11 we needed to kick the shit out of someone, anyone...
Contributor on a previous MoA thread
No doubt there is truth in that. In fact I've pointed in that direction as well. An "eye for an eye" is a primitive human theorem. It lies buried within all of us, and needs but a lure to lunge to the surface.

The lure for war was, of course, the sexed up intel. But a hot lure alone is never enough. Ravenous hunger is necessary to land a fish. And in the case at hand: a hunger for violence. Does America have such a hunger? For decades, American television has been dishing out a sumptuous all-you-can-eat buffet of violence. The American mind has fed and fed well at this banquet. So much so that I suspect the notion: good guys use violence to win the day against bad guys--has entered our national psyche.

And when one hungers to do violence against bad guys any sexy lure will do. That's probably how the Iraq War got sold to Bush. After all - Bush is NOT play pretend folksy. He is, if fact, a genuine American drugstore cowboy.

Allow me a slight digression. I maintain that when George Bush walks and talks, what you are looking at is a condensation of the worst traits of middle class America.

I remember long ago, when Bush was the owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, Nolan Ryan a Ranger pitcher got in a horrific fist-fight with a batter he had hit in the ribs with a fast ball. It was worse than an eye for an eye. It was three punches for one-half punch. Bush latter said it was the greatest thing he had ever seen on a baseball diamond.

The greatest thing? On a ball field? A fist fight?

Given that bit of insight would it surprise anyone to learn that Bush watches the Worldwide Wrestling Federation? From the Guardian article on the Kitty Kelly book there appears this snip:

How anyone got out of Yale without developing some interest in the world besides booze and sports stuns me." New Yorker writer Brendan Gill recalls roaming the Kennebunkport compound one night while staying there looking for a book to read – the only title he could find was The Fart Book.
These anecdotes demonstrate that plainspoken Bush would be at home watching violent TV with just about any middle-class or lower-class American family. If you will: He is they, and they are he, and he speaks their sort of violence. Not only that – he speaks it well. So it wouldn't surprise me if Iraq War was marketed to Bush by using a lot of virtuous hot air aimed at his most primitive instincts.

But of course truth is a many-splendourd thing. We know the goons at the top sexed up the intel. And that the neocon puppet masters had long been planning this conquest and probably others. What we don't know is exactly what is in the minutes of Cheney's secret energy plan meetings. Therein I've long suspected, is the key to everything.

But all that being said, HOW the war was marketed and sold back then is one thing. WHY the war is still being marketed and sold today is really a far more critical question.

Obviously it is readily apparent to everyone with a brain that Iraq is a flytrap for American troops and American treasure. Sure, some neocons are still true believers, but the vast majority of congressmen know the war is now a complete and utter drain. So why do they still overtly support it?

I am going to answer that question from three vicious perspectives. I will argue that the neocons, the conservatives, and the born-agains ALL have something to gain from a continuation of the Iraq-mess. In fact: the messier and costlier the war the better they see themselves being served.

Why the neocons are happy is elucidated in this Joshua Marshall article: Practice to Deceive. That's been tossed about on the MoA a few threads back. The born-agains are happy because they are cheered by the rise of muscular Christianity and buoyed by the possibility of jump-starting the End Times. Never mind that God ought not to be rushed, these folks are certifiably wacky, and they know God won't be offended by their zealousness.

Now as for the conservatives - the Texas Taliban - why should they be cheered by the prospects of a 200 billion war mushrooming towards a trillion bucks? Because they want to destroy the social contract. They want to starve that beast and then drown it in Norquist's bathtub.

Think about that for an instant.

This isn't just a war against Iraq, it has become a war against The New Deal. What better way to force social concessions on the public than via sacrifices made necessary by a hyped-up war against terror? There is even a fringe benefit: certain American corporations will prosper.

So that's where we are. And that's where we are trending.

We have an ordinary, crude President speaking ordinary and crude phrases to a population that has become inordinately crude. But this film script has a plot twist. The President is not really the friend of the middle-class. He might sit in their living rooms and watch wrestlers trash talk, drink a lite beer, and throw back pretzels, and talk smack about Iraqis and terrorists... but -- this is a Hitchcockian screen play: Just as Nero wished the Roman people had but one neck so that he might cut it off, so this President and his lieutenants have dreamed of having one hand on one neck in one bathtub so they might drown it.

In this movie's final scene our hero will do just that with his clear blue eyes and a smirk on his face.

Most of middle-class America? They haven't a clue.

Posted by b on September 28, 2004 at 06:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

Crude

chart


KARL: You better ring him up.

GEORGE: Okay Karl, I´ll call him now: 202 342-3800

VOICE: Hello?

GEORGE: Hi, this is George, is Bandarboy in?

VOICE: Sorry sir, no, he is on vacation.

GEORGE: But you will have a number for me won´t you. This is George!

VOICE: Oh I am sorry George, he left no number. I am afraid he is unreachable right now.

GEORGE: But, but when do you expect him back?

VOICE: Oh, that may take a while. I think he´ll be back in November. Early November that is.

GEORGE: Oh fuck.

Oil Charges to $50.47 Record
Morgan Stanley Says Oil Price Could Reach $61
Nothing Opec can do to bring oil down, says Purnomo
Bandarboy

Posted by b on September 28, 2004 at 05:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

September 27, 2004

Open Off Topic Thread

Posted by b on September 27, 2004 at 01:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (110)

Dear Comrades

Through Andy Mukherjee of Bloomberg and Dr."Gloom" Marc Faber we got our hands on a transcript of a speech held at a meeting of the Central Economic Commission of the Chinese Communist Party. The speaker is unknown but is believed to be in a very high party position.

"Dear Comrades,

One of the next days we will publish our paper on the "Ruling Capacity of the Party". Let me cite three passages:

We should always put national sovereignty and security in the first place and firmly safeguard state security.
...
Hostile forces are still pursuing their strategic attempts to westernize and separate our country.
...
We will effectively guard against and deal with various risks from the international economic field, so as to safeguard China's political, economic, cultural and information security.
The US cronies at the IMF, the G-7 and the World Bank are putting pressure on us to loosen the peg of our Yuan to the US-Dollar. If we would do so, the US-Dollar could slowly devalue against all Asian currencies and the US economy could move back on a sustainable path. For now we do some cheap talk of planed revaluation to calm them down.

A week US Dollar is NOT in our interest.

The United States have fulfilled their long dream and occupied Iraq to achieve control over Middle Eastern commodities. They are fighting our interests in Sudan and Iran. They are engaged in various Central Asian countries at our north western border. They are even selling German made submarines, offensive weapons with cruise missiles, to the illegal government of our province Taiwan.

We continue actively to buy large amounts of US securities, especially treasuries, to keep the Yuan value bound to the US Dollar. We now have accumulated some US$ 500 billion in such instruments. There are three major positive effects to this:

  • We enable the US Federal Reserve to keep the interest rates low in spite of the huge US deficits and we thereby induce the US consumer to buy more of our goods and services.
  • We make the US manufacturing and service industries uncompetitive and force them to move to Asia, teaching our workers the skills we will need in the future.
  • We make imports to our country expansive and induce our people to save and to invest their money into our industrial build-up.
There are also negative effects, like some increased inflation here. But for now we are able to control these by central administrative means.

There is no chance that this scheme will work into eternity. But there is a good chance that we, the Party, can determine the point in time where a break will occur. Until then we will use the accumulated dollars to build significant strategic reserves of all commodities and increase the abilities of the People's Liberation Army and especially the People's Liberation Army's naval forces.

At some point, for some reason, the US, in their quest of world domination, will threaten us - either directly through military means or indirectly through the oil lever. That will be the right moment do de-peg the Yuan, devalue the US Dollar and throw the treasuries we own onto the international markets.

US treasury rates will then increase immediately to double digit values, the US economy will falter first into recession and then into a Weimar like hyperinflationary depression.

Then we will pick up what is left over from the US empire paying the cheap price of some paper losses in our US security portfolio.

Comrades, lets work to keep the US dollar strong, very strong, for the glory of the Party and the wellbeing of the people of China.”

Posted by b on September 27, 2004 at 10:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Billmon: Bush Cheney 2004

All is said with few words at the WhiskeyBar.

Posted by b on September 27, 2004 at 02:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (30)

September 26, 2004

Tom is Happy to Help

… the Bush administration launches a new pre-election antiterrorism campaign this week that will include the likely arrests of hundreds of aliens from Middle Eastern and other countries known to be havens for terrorists. Homeland Security has targeted for possible detention as many as 2,000 foreigners who are believed to be in violation of their visas and about whom there is "soft intelligence" suggesting possible terror connections.

Newsweek: Homeland Security's Info: Miles from Nowhere - last graph

RING, RING, RING

TOM: Ridge here

KARL: Hi Tom, this is Karl - how are you - hey we have a problem here and I need your help.

TOM: Sure Karl, what’s up? Need some guards at a rally somewhere?

KARL: No, no - you see, this Kerry guy is pointing all over Iraq - and says it’s a mess - now even the media takes note - we can't let this happen - we need to change the headlines - but nothing like anthrax this time - that’s too negative - you know - we ARE Winning the War on Terra - even Osama holds back for now.

TOM: Okay, okay, so you want more like positive action. Want some terrorists dead or something more subtle?

KARL: Subtle sounds fine - sounds fine - and big - big numbers.

TOM: Hmmm big. Ahh, here's an idea: Foreigners, illegal and we have plenty of them and they don't vote. Girly man’s land is full of them and they speak Spanish - nearly as good as screwing the French.

KARL: No, no - not the Mexicans - cheap as they come - Texas needs them - get some others - or these nasty academics and work from there - toss in some mullahs and foreign actors - girly man has that list - and make it big.

TOM: So you want one hundred.

KARL: I said big - you know like ten thousand or so - big TERRORIST headlines.

TOM: Ten thousand? Hey I don’t have room for ten thousand. The RNC still has Pier 57, but even that’s too small. Let’s see, I can give you like one thousand max. That all I can put into cells right now.

KARL: Make that five thousand Tom - four thousand - just stack them - hey, even the Army could do that.

TOM: Two, two is all I can give you now and I can’t hold them for long, you know like six weeks or so.

KARL: Let me see my calendar - oh five weeks left - five weeks would be enough - and two thousand is fine for now - and find some evidence - like something chemical or laptops - you know cyberwar - just beef it up - and make it last - like, you know, five weeks - make one headline each day.

TOM: Yeah - okay, okay - I got it. Two thousand roundup - Liberals, immigrant terrorists and the like and stick some evidence up their asses. And daily media briefs - Consider it done - I am happy to help - We’ll start Monday - That’s fine with you?

KARL: Yeah, Monday is fine - gotta go and tell Dick now - see you and have a nice one - bye.

TOM: Amen, bye.

spread the word

Posted by b on September 26, 2004 at 07:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

September 24, 2004

Open W. Thread

Your links, discussions and opinions to pieces and events you deem of interest

Posted by b on September 24, 2004 at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (92)

Where Are We?

... a film recommendation by anna missed

The recent documentary film Where Are We? is now on DVD. Co-directed by Oscar recipients Jeffery Friedman and Rob Epstein, the film, on the surface is a sort of “road” movie, where the pair set out on an eighteen day tour of the South and the Southwest interviewing the common people they meet without any apparent judgment.

Under the surface, as the film unfolds, there is a curious blurring of boundaries on what is normal, what is bizarre, and what collectively might be thought of as a culture gone stark raving mad, incapable of meaningful reflection, or direction. The common character of all the people interviewed, as even their own words belie their own condition, is one of being adrift in a sea of banality, anchored only by religion or patriotism.

If Fahrenheit 9-11 documented the method and consequences of unrestrained American power, this film, in its own little way documents the amorphous cultural sediments that enable that power.

This is a beautiful, ethereal, and terrifying look at America that recalls the “normal” torment evidenced in the photographs of Diane Arbus.

Posted by b on September 24, 2004 at 04:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

September 23, 2004

The New Security Doctrine

This part of Bush's speech at the United Nation General Assembly needs to be thought about:

In this young century, our world needs a new definition of security. Our security is not merely found in spheres of influence, or some balance of power. The security of our world is found in the advancing rights of mankind.
Paul Krugman says "He doesn't really believe that." because Bush doesn´t live up to the claim when he supports Russias Putin. Other see reason to be concerned.

In a letter to the NYT Editor Benjamin Solomon explains:

In the context of recent history, many will interpret this to mean the United States' leading a group of countries to bring a version of freedom to the designated country in accord with American interests and aims.

Such a policy would also signify a marked change in the United Nations Charter and the prospect of unending war.

For the American body politic, such a policy declares that the conceptual position with which the administration now defends the Iraq war will be permanently central to America's role in the world.

Most people in this world will not agree to have their "rights of mankind" "advanced" to the fundamentalistic faith based George Warmonger Bush version. Those who do not have the gift of basic rights today for sure would like to have it. But what price are they willing to pay?

Unlike during the last ideologic world struggle, the Cold War, this doctrine leaves the US without an ideologic coalition. Has any other country a vision of advancing rights of mankind that is compatible with Bush'? I hope not, but the power of the United States may be big enough to intermediatly press others into this framework.

Posted by b on September 23, 2004 at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Banana Republic Insult

In a recent comment barfly Fran points to one, two remarkable articles and opines with regard to the US election:

"the rising of the Banana Republic"
With a respectful nod towards South American entities I strongly disagree.

If there are comparisons to the US election system these are to be found in places where the US is supporting the implementation of democracy. There, like in the US, every effort is made to make the elections outcome as effortless as possible.

Take a look at Afghanistan, where a distinguished ambassador is continuously consulting with all presidential candidates. In an effort to make it easy to vote, he is tediously working to shorten the ballot list, even if this involves incuring significant expenditures.

After the hourlong meeting last month, the ethnic Hazara warlord said in an interview Tuesday, he wasn't satisfied with the rewards offered for quitting.
New meetings are said to be scheduled. To guarantee a high voter outcome, some 10.5 million of 9.5 million estimated eligible Afghan voters are registered by now. Efforts continue to additionally register expatriates like Mr. Rahman.
"We are a bit confused about the candidates," said Saifur Rahman, 52, a Jalozai[, Pakistan,] resident. "Nobody knows what their plans are for our country."

But he insists he'll vote. "I'm an Afghan, and this is my right. I will use that right."

Another good example for a decent election process may be found in Iraq. The voters there will have to cast the ballot on party lists of candidates. To disburden the electorate and to reduce the costs of ballot printing, the major parties are agreeing to form one "consensus list". The voter's arduous decision process will significantly lighten as there will be one simple circle on the ballot that may be marked. This entitles the Iraqi voter to exactly the same extensive variety of policy choices the US voter is demanding and given.

The democratic legitimation of the next President of the US of A, Prime Minister of Iraq and President of Afghanistan will be on comparable levels. To liken these with Banana Republic standards is an insult.

Posted by b on September 23, 2004 at 05:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

September 22, 2004

Sovereign and Just Screw Up

Two female Iraqi scientist are in custody. They are said to have worked for Saddam's weapon programs. A group that has killed two US hostages during the last days, and still has one British hostage, has demanded all female prisoners to be freed. It is not known whether they referred to these women. Today there were a couple of announcements on the scientists future.

  • Noori Abdul-Rahim Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry, said [Rihab Rashid Taha] will be released soon and on bail (NYT)

  • The Iraqi Justice Ministry said one of the two women in U.S. custody in Iraq, Rihab Taha, could be freed later in the day. (Reuters)

  • But the U.S. embassy said later that Taha and Huda Ammash, dubbed "Dr Germ" and "Mrs Anthrax" respectively by U.S. forces, would not be released soon. "The two women are in legal and physical custody of the multinational forces in Iraq and neither will be released imminently," a spokesman said. (Reuters)

  • Kassim Daoud, the Iraqi national security adviser, said that the release would be conditional and would not happen "today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow." He asserted that the woman, one of three prisoners to be released, was now in the custody of the Iraqis, not the Americans, and that "Iraqi judges decided to release them because they didn't have any evidence." (NYT)

  • Iraqi Minister of State Kassim Daoud told journalists in Baghdad that the Iraqi judiciary had decided that there was not enough evidence to justify the continued detention of the scientists - Rihab Rashid Taha and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash (BBC)

  • Iraq's Justice Minister Malik al-Hassan told the BBC that he supported the release of Dr Taha (BBC)

  • The second woman, Dr Ammash, "may be released soon", the justice ministry said. (BBC)

  • At that time both British and US officials in Iraq claimed to have been unaware of the decision. US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson said he had no information about a release. (Guardian)

  • The U.S. military says it has two Iraqi women in custody, both high-profile security detainees held at an undisclosed location (AP)

  • Justice Ministry spokesman Noori Abdul-Rahim Ibrahim announced that "Iraqi authorities have agreed with coalition forces to conditionally release Rihab Rashid Taha on bail." (AP)

  • But soon afterward, a U.S. Embassy spokesman ruled out any immediate release. The two female scientists from Saddam's regime "are in our legal and physical custody. Legal status of these two and many others is under constant review," (AP)

  • Following the embassy statement, Iraq's national security adviser, Kassim Daoud, said that Iraqi judges have ordered the conditional release of three prisoners in U.S. custody, including one of two women held by U.S. forces. (WaPo)

  • "Iraqi judges decided to release them because they didn't have any evidence. The judges decided on a conditional release. It will not happen today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow," he said. (WaPo)

  • Representatives of the Iraqi government and U.S. coalition forces have identified a group of about 14 high-value detainees, including Taha, who may be eligible for release because they are no longer needed for questioning and do not pose a security threat, a multinational force official said on condition of anonymity. (AP)

  • The Iraqi government has already assented to all the names on the list, the official said. The list has gone to coalition forces and the U.S. Embassy for final approval. (AP)

  • The Iraqi government has also made a special request for the release of Ammash on humanitarian grounds, the official said. ... her case requires a Pentagon review. (AP)

  • After the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said there would be no immediate release of either of the two women in U.S. custody, Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said there were no immediate plans to free the detainees. (AP)

  • Ayad Allawi, interim Iraqi prime minister, said that any releases had not yet been decided, and that he has the final decision on any prisoners who should be released (NYT)

Sources:
New York Times (NYT) Iraqi Officials Say Female Inmate Is to Be Released Washington Post (WaPo) Two Dozen Killed, 150 Wounded in Iraq BBC Rift over Saddam scientists' fate Associated Press (AP) U.S.: Iraqi Prisoners Won't Be Released Reuters Hope Fades for UK Iraq Hostage as U.S. Stands Firm Guardian Chaos surrounds hostage's fate

Bush Iraq policy:

Keeping just how much trouble we're in quiet until Nov. 2. But these days, it seems that part of the policy is no more successful than the rest of it. Over the past weeks, the failure of the Bush Iraq policy has become so inescapable that even John Kerry has noticed it.
Iraq situation gets worse -- very loudly

Spread the word please.

Posted by b on September 22, 2004 at 04:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Open (War) Thread

Posted by b on September 22, 2004 at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (26)

Time Horizon

From a recent StratFor piece:

Bush's view is that every alliance must be evaluated in terms of its utility for the United States and that the United States must pursue its foreign interests, even if an existing alliance resists it. Kerry appears to be arguing that since alliances should be seen as permanent institutional frameworks, accepting limitations on American freedom of action is a small price to pay for retaining critical international institutions.
...
The real debate has always been between two schools of internationalism. ... One school looks at the United Nations as a hindrance to the pursuit of national interest. The other looks at the United Nations as being at the heart of the national interest.
...
Bush represents the former view; Kerry represents the latter view.
The difference between these views has a relation to the assumed time horizon. It takes time to build coaltions and functioning international institutions. It takes time to build trust. Long term partners who trust each other will go along, even when there are some accute disagreements and no short term benefits. When this trust is broken, like it currently is in some cases, the wound is usually deep and takes a long time to heal.

Bush´s view is relying on short term allies, pressured into duty by short term relative benefits. Allies exchangable at hoc when needed. Kerry´s view relies on long term allies, were pressure is applied by the threat of changes in long term real benefits. Most non-US countries traditionally have a long term view.

This short term / long term divergence can be seen in other issues too. The small saving rate in the US vs. other countries. Houses build for decades from plywood vs. build from stone to last centuries.

Stratfor continues:

One of the things hurting Kerry is that his view has, in general, been a minority view in the United States.
Was this the minority view after the second world war? Has this dichotomy change in recent years? Has the US time horizon shortened?

Posted by b on September 22, 2004 at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

Just Guessing

State of the Union Address, January 2003

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.

Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Allawi ..., September 2004

Q Right here, Mr. President, thank you. Why do you think the CIA's assessment of conditions in Iraq are so much at odds with the optimism that you and Prime Minister Allawi are expressing at the moment?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The CIA laid out a -- several scenarios that said, life could be lousy, like could be okay, life could be better. And they were just guessing as to what the conditions might be like. ...

Juan Cole asks the question every voter in the US should be asked: What if what is happening in Iraq would happen at the appropriate scale in the US and the European Union would say "freedom and democracy are just around the corner"?

Posted by b on September 22, 2004 at 03:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Peace Plane

Passenger Cat Stevens Gets Plane Diverted

A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday when it was discovered passenger Yusuf Islam — formerly known as singer Cat Stevens — was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country, federal officials said.
...
Homeland Security Department spokesman Dennis Murphy identified the passenger as Islam. "He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds," Murphy said, and would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday.
Cat Stevens - Peace Train
Now I’ve been crying lately,
thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
why can’t we live in bliss

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again
Context:
Small Kindness
Yusuf Islam
Cat Stevens Lyrics
NYT - U.S. Wants All Air Traveler Files for Security Test

Hattip to reader Harry Chapin

Posted by b on September 22, 2004 at 02:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

September 21, 2004

Applause

In today’s address to the US General Assembly Bush said:

Both the American Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaim the equal value and dignity of every human life. That dignity is honored by the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, protection of private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance.

Some delegates may have read today’s LA Times: U.S. Probing Alleged Abuse of Afghans

The dead soldier, identified as Jamal Naseer, a member of the Afghan Army III Corps, was severely beaten over a span of at least two weeks, according to a report prepared for the Afghan attorney general. A witness described his battered corpse as being "green and black" with bruises.

Alleged American mistreatment of the detainees included repeated beatings, immersion in cold water, electric shocks, being hung upside down and toenails being torn off, according to Afghan investigators and an internal memorandum prepared by a United Nations delegation that interviewed the surviving soldiers.

Some of the Afghan soldiers were beaten to the point that they could not walk or sit, Afghan doctors and other witnesses said.

Others delegates may have read yesterday’s Guardian: After Abu Ghraib
Like most Iraqi women, Alazawi is reluctant to talk about what she saw but says that her brother Mu'taz was brutally sexually assaulted. Then it was her turn to be interrogated. "The informant and an American officer were both in the room. The informant started talking. He said, 'You are the lady who funds your brothers to attack the Americans.' I speak some English so I replied: 'He is a liar.' The American officer then hit me on both cheeks. I fell to the ground.

Alazawi says that American guards then made her stand with her face against the wall for 12 hours, from noon until midnight. Afterwards they returned her to her cell. "The cell had no ceiling. It was raining. At midnight they threw something at my sister's feet. It was my brother Ayad. He was bleeding from his legs, knees and forehead. I told my sister: 'Find out if he's still breathing.' She said: 'No. Nothing.' I started crying. The next day they took away his body."

Kofi Annans Opening remarks (PDF) included the general theme of the rule of law beginning in Mesopotamia.
Much of Hammurabi’s code now seems impossibly harsh. But etched into its tablets are principles of justice that have been recognised, if seldom fully implemented, by almost every human society since his time:
  • Legal protection for the poor.
  • Restraints on the strong, so they cannot oppress the weak.
  • Laws publicly enacted, and known to all.
That code was a landmark in mankind’s struggle to build an order where, instead of might making right, right would make might.
...
Yet today the rule of law is at risk around the world.

In Iraq, we see civilians massacred in cold blood, … At the same time, we have seen Iraqi prisoners disgracefully abused.
...
I believe we can restore and extend the rule of law throughout the world. But ultimately, that will depend on the hold that the law has on our consciences.
Guess who received warm applause.

Posted by b on September 21, 2004 at 12:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Nuclear Iran

Just as I start to write about Iran and the IAEA, George Monbiot of The Guardian comes up with much better writing in Proliferation treaty .

Here is the world's most nonsensical job description. Your duty is to work tirelessly to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. And to work tirelessly to encourage the proliferation of the means of building them. This is the task of the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei.
...
His agency's motto - "Atoms for Peace" - wasn't always a lie. In 1953, when Eisenhower founded it with his famous speech to the United Nations, people really seemed to believe that nuclear fission could solve the world's problems.
...
The nuclear powers, he said, "should... make joint contributions from their stockpiles of normal uranium and fissionable materials" which should then be given to "the power-starved areas of the world", "to provide abundant electrical energy". This would give them, he argued, the necessary incentive to forswear the use of nuclear weapons.
...
Now there are about 20 countries which, as a result of foreign help for their civilian nuclear programmes, could, if they choose, become nuclear weapons states within months. When Russia shipped uranium and the technologies required to build a bomb to Iran, it not only had a right to do so: under the non-proliferation treaty, it had a duty to do so.

It's not yet clear whether Iran has stepped over the brink. It is plainly enriching uranium and producing heavy water, which could enable it to build both uranium- and plutonium-based bombs. But both processes are also legitimate means of developing materials for nuclear power generation.
...
Both the US and the UK have abandoned their own obligations to disarm, and appear to be contemplating a new generation of nuclear weapons. Both governments have also suggested that they would be prepared to use them pre-emptively. Iran is surrounded by American military bases, and is one of the two surviving members of the axis of evil. The other one, North Korea, has been threatening its neighbours with impunity. Why? Because it has the bomb. If Iran is not developing a nuclear weapons programme, it hasn't understood the drift of global politics.

Let me add some links to further the point. The International Atomic Energy Agency was setup after Eisenhower´s speech to the UN General Assembly. Any sovereign country may sign the IAEA statute and join or leave the organization at its will.

The US pressure on the IAEA and Iran is ridicules, when the US supports Israel not only by harmless giveaways like 5,000 smart bombs but also by not discussing Israel’s nuclear weapons at the IAEA. The US also refrains from pressure on South Korea that has, unlike Iran, broken its IAEA obligation at least twice in recent years.
Other friends of the US suspect of military nuclear ambitions are Japan and Taiwan.

Iran today announced to restart work on machines for enriching uranium. There are legal duties for IAEA members to support this. There is no legal ground to hinder Iran by any means.

When Eisenhower initiated "Atoms for Peace", the promise was to help countries to develop civil nuclear capacity while the military nuclear powers would diminish their arsenals. Part one of these promises were fulfilled, part two never got traction.

This is the reason why there are Bush Aides Divided on Confronting Iran Over A-Bomb. There are no good options until the US restrains itself from the US plan for new nuclear arsenal and gets equal handed and serious about proliferation.

Posted by b on September 21, 2004 at 07:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

September 20, 2004

Thread Open

Admission free!

Posted by b on September 20, 2004 at 11:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (47)

Battle Ready

You don´t have to agree to send troops into a battle zone, but if troops are send to a battle zone they should be in a state that serves the purpose. Thomas E. Ricks reports in WaPo about a battalion of the South Carolina National Guard that yesterday left for Iraq. Their task in Iraq will be to escort support convoys, i.e. riding shotgun for KBR trucks, in northern Iraq.

This is an artillery battalion ("They don´t know friend from foe, just valuable targets.") filled up with a hodgepodge of personal from other units. The last two month they were retrained to military police and infantry tasks.

During this time they:
- were on duty and training 7 days a week usually more than 12 hours a day
- had only one leave of 36 hours total on Labour Day
- were not allowed to wear civilian cloth, even when off duty
- had fights between soldiers
- were barred to leave their rooms when off duty since Labour Day
- had a high rate of AWOL and other incidents.

The share of National Guards and Reserve troops in Iraq will increase during the current rotation with more call ups for Guard troops coming. Moral of troops in Iraq is already low and with these new troops coming in, it will sink to the bottom. How can you expect these troops to fight in a classic guerrilla war? You can not and sending them is a crime in and of itself regardless of the any underlying reason for the war.

Posted by b on September 20, 2004 at 10:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Tips for More Tip

Science based lesson for my stepson´s after school job. When serving in a restaurant:

  • make sure you are seen as an individual
    • wear something that makes you distinguishable from other waiters/waitresses
    • introduce yourself to your guests by name
    • entertain the customer with simple jokes or puzzles
  • recognize customer as individual
    • call customers by name
    • squat next to the table so you are on eye level and more intimate with the customer
    • repeat customers order, slightly mimicry customers tone and behaviour
    • briefly touch the customer, preferable at the shoulder
  • tips increase with bill size, so it´s sell, sell, sell
    • suggest appetizer
    • check during dinner for new rounds of drinks
    • suggest dessert
  • make paying the check enjoyable
    • forcast good weather
    • write Thank You on check
    • draw little pictures on check
    • use tip trays with credit card emblem
  • give customers candy or chocolates

Megatips (PDF)

Posted by b on September 20, 2004 at 06:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 19, 2004

Jim Toweys Insurgency

by anna missed

For those watching the radar screen on the movements of our own religious insurgency stateside would have noticed that GWBushes own “general” Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, has received $1.5 billion war chest funds through GWB’s own Executive Order.

Towey has put these funds to work, opening offices now in the Dept’s of Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Urban Development, Justice, Labor, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, and the Agency for International Development, and the Small Business Administration. He also has revised Dept. of Labor rules that exempt religious organizations from provisions of the Civil Rights Act that forbid discrimination in employment based on religion. One could presume that the infiltration of government ministries with that other kind of ministry may preclude a sneak attack on the 1st Amendment.

While we know Towey gave opening remarks, last year to Reverend “the separation of religion and politics, is what satan likes best” Moon’s Unification Churches 3 day God and World Peace celebration -- a lesser known interview with televangelist Robert Shuller may be more telling -- as to future tactics.

At Shullers Crystal Cathedral Ministry:

J.Towey, “over the decades there was this idea that there should be this strict separation of church and state, that what we banished the faith based organization, the faith voice from the public square”.
R.Shuller, “that is a face of extremism”
J.Towey, “yes sir”
R.Shuller, “extremism”
...
R.Shuller,”well I think there’s loads of possibilities and opportunities for this church, which is so powerful at the freeway hub of one of the great counties of the world to do more than it’s ever done, we have always been undercapitalized, with running a television program and buildings, all of which is history for us now. We are facing our next 50 years now and we want to become the most effective church in really changing our society where there really hurting, so lets work together, okay?”
J.Towey,” that's a great idea, thank you”
And it should also be mentioned that Shullers Crystal Cathedral Ministries “Hour of Power” church services has recently been chosen by the US Armed Forces Radio and Television Network to be broadcast to cities and bases in over 165 countries worldwide and to all ships at sea.

Among the many implications set forth here, I wonder, if the last man to leave Iraq and then seek help for PTS at the local VA-- will simply be given cab fare to the nearest annex of the Crystal Cathedral?

Posted by b on September 19, 2004 at 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

September 18, 2004

Chain of Evil

Moon-fly Emereton cited in the Weekend Open Thread Bill Moyers speech at the Society of Professional Journalists conference. Moyers explains the danger of the Rapture believers.

These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the l9th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative millions of people believe to be literally true.

According to this narrative, Jesus will return to earth only when certain conditions are met: when Israel has been established as a state; when Israel then occupies the rest of its “biblical lands;” when the third temple has been rebuilt on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosques; and, then, when legions of the Antichrist attack Israel. This will trigger a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon during which all the Jews who have not converted will be burned. Then the Messiah returns to earth.

Bin Laden, as many others in the Middle East, sees a connection.
OBL tape Feb. 2003 (BBC)

We are following up with great interest and extreme concern the crusaders' preparations for war to occupy a former capital of Islam, loot Muslims' wealth, and install an agent government, which would be a satellite for its masters in Washington and Tel Aviv, just like all the other treasonous and agent Arab governments.

This would be in preparation for establishing the Greater Israel.

The Iraq occupation, in preparation for establishing the Greater Israel, has happend. Step 2 is starting now.
The petition, which termed evacuating settlements "a crime against humanity," a "national crime" and "a clearly illegal act," urged soldiers to "listen to the voice of their national and human conscience."
...
"In light of the Sharon government's intent to destroy communities in the land of Israel and deliver them into the hands of the enemy, to violently uproot their residents and expel them, we declare that this expulsion and uprooting are a national crime and a crime against humanity, a display of tyranny, wickedness and arbitrariness, whose goal is to deprive Jews of their right to live in their land, merely because they are Jews. ..."
Rightists say evacuation is a crime against humanity (Haaretz)
Leon Wieseltier discusses this in Extirpation (TNR - free reg. req.)
It has been argued, and persuasively, that the movement to settle and hold land captured in 1967, in particular the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has changed Orthodox Judaism more profoundly than any event since the Holocaust.
Respected rabbis based in New York have issued Halakhic decrees forbidding any Jew from ceding even an inch of soil of the Old Testament land of Israel.
...
The parallel talk of Holocaust and Armageddon has sparked debate within Israel on the dangers of disengagement versus the risks of a concussive Jewish backlash.
...
"We sense that the level of threat to the Temple Mount from the standpoint of extreme and fanatic Jewish elements carrying out a terrorist attack in order to 'reshuffle the cards,' to serve as a catalyst to a change in the entire political initiative [the disengagement process] - this level has risen in recent months and more so in recent weeks."
...
Speaking of the extremists dream to remove the "abomination" as they call it, from the Temple Mount, [Shin Bet chief Avi] Dichter declared that Jewish terror could pose a significant strategic threat to Israel as well as the Jews of the Diaspora, "turning the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians into a confrontation between 13 million Jews and one billion Muslims around the world."
Is Jewish terror next? (Haaretz)
Osama agrees with Avi.
OBL tape Jan. 2004 (BBC)
There is also the fierce attempt to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque and destroy the jihad and the mujahideen in beloved Palestine by employing the trick of the roadmap and the Geneva peace initiative.

The Americans' intentions have also become clear in statements about the need to change the beliefs, curricula and morals of the Muslims to become more tolerant, as they put it.

In clearer terms, it is a religious-economic war.

The occupation of Iraq is a link in the Zionist-crusader chain of evil.


The second World War can be seen as a fight between one fanatic ideology against the rest of the world. Now we see a devolping conflict between three fanatic religious ideologies. Two of these are in a temporary coaltion against the third one which probably has the larger base. The ideologic religious geographic stripline between the camps coincidents with the economic striplines of control over oil and water. The chances to stop this religious-economic war may be small. But we better try to break this Chain of Evil.

Posted by b on September 18, 2004 at 04:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

September 17, 2004

Weekends Open Thread

Suggestive Content: Use at Your Own Risk!

Posted by b on September 17, 2004 at 04:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (68)

Kick Ass

New Blood at Heart of Kerry Campaign reports The Washington Post. The media echo on the Kerry campaign is slightly better now, so this may have been the decisive. At least there are some punch lines:

"Dick Cheney got $2 million. What did we get?" the ad's narrator says. "A $200 billion bill for Iraq, lost jobs, rising health care costs. It's time for a new direction."
"You deserve a president who will not play politics with national security, who will not ignore his own intelligence while living in a fantasy world of spin ..."
Still Kerrys speech style is terrible.

Sentences - too long, thought chains - too long, wording - pompous. This will not win Joe Sixpack and Larry Lawnmower over Bush´s good/evil - with us/against us style. Campaigning is marketing, not an Oxford debate.

Explain Kerry´s position on Iraq in three short sentences? Impossible. What the f... is the campaign staff doing? Is Kerry listening to them?

All Bush enemies try to help

  • The CIA sends an unrequested National Intelligence Estimate to the White House and leaks the content to the press.
  • Annan emphasizes the war was illegal
  • David Kay saying "we were almost all wrong" and the final reports come without WMDs in Iraq
  • General Conway accusing the administration to have screwed the marines in Fallujah.
But this is still not enough and it is uncoordinated.

On the other side the messages stick. Next week Prince Allawi (or as koreyel suggests The Thug (formerly known as Prince) will address Congress and the UN. Rove will make sure that the right 10-seconds-points are made on TV. Only a real big incident in Iraq could spoil their effect. Then comes the October surprise - Iran? Syria? A terror incident? Who knows, but for sure there is an ace somewhere.

Kerry is much too presidential. ´ay man, set the champagne glass aside and grab a beer. Kick ass!

Posted by b on September 17, 2004 at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Good News

GOOD NEWS!

CNN: Ford ups guidance
MSNBC: Ford raises earnings outlook
Reuters: Ford lifts profit forecasts
Newsday: Ford Raises Quarter, Full-Year Outlook
Bloomberg: Ford Boosts Third-Quarter Earnings Forecast to 10C-15C/Share

That is interesting. Should I add Ford to my portfolio?

The Ford Press Statement is upbeat, but in their presentation slides there are some small caveats.

  • Volume has grown, but less than expected
  • External environment has deteriorated
  • Jaguar sales have not lived up to expectation
  • But on the financial side, earnings forecast is 10c/share* higher for the quarter and the year. Total earnings in 2004 will be about $1.95* per share. In the Q2 report Ford expected earnings for 2004 to be only $1.85**. That is a positive trend.

    But what are these asterisks?

    *excluding special items of 25c per share
    **excluding special items of 8c per share

    Oh, guidance in the Q2 was $1.85 minus 8 cent special items. Guidance in Q3 is $1.95 minus 25 cent special items. The boost Bloomberg headlines is minus $0.07 per share.

    Ford is loosing money with each car they make. Profits come only from lending to consumers. With rising interest rates, record consumer debt, problems with Jaguar and 4% lower earnings projections maybe that´s not a BUY. But then:

    Ford shares added 37 cents, or 2.7%, to $14.32 in premarket trading Friday.
    Sigh!

    Posted by b on September 17, 2004 at 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

    Ready, Aim, Focus

    by koreyel

    Bob Herbert of the NYT continues to smash the Bush Administration with nearly divine inspiration.

    His latest seems almost like an artful montage of paragraphs borrowed from the Moon of Alabama.

    It is rare to see a columnist be so deadly blunt:

    Although he died bravely, Lieutenant VandeGeer's death was as senseless as those of the 58,000 who died before him in the fool's errand known as Vietnam.
    And then this:
    Since we learned nothing from Vietnam, we are doomed to repeat its agony, this time in horrifying slow-motion in Iraq.
    Fool's errand... We learned nothing... we are doomed to repeat its agony.

    Wow. Herbert's pen is as far from elite as it is from effete. He can flat out write when he gets irked up.

    Along these lines I sense that the rage at Bush's Iraq-mess is regaining traction. The reality that the war is going badly is leaking with a steady hiss into the mainstream. Anger is redoubling. People are wearing red on Fridays because they are seething red everyday of the week.

    Anger is a powerful human force. It can move elections.

    Think of it this way: there are probably at least 3 billion people who wake up everyday damning the very names of Bush and Cheney. That's a lot of semi-focused consciousness.

    Would that we could all coordinate our thoughts at one chosen time and chant a select group of powerful mantras. I suspect... Bush-Cheney would break out in hives, if not shrivel up and blow away. As it is, our semi-focused rage may be enough to sweep these criminals into history's ashcan.

    So keep on keeping on. Wear red. Feel red. You have the right and the duty to be enraged. Focus your anger like a laser beam on the right foreheads. They've earned your wrath, your disgust, and your condemnation.

    Be beautifully furious. Justice may depend upon your rage.

    Posted by b on September 17, 2004 at 09:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

    September 16, 2004

    Just In Time

    BBC Annan Interview

    Q: So you don't think there was legal authority for the war?

    A: I have stated clearly that it was not in conformity with the Security Council - with the UN Charter.

    Q: It was illegal?

    A: Yes, if you wish.

    Q: It was illegal?

    A: Yes, I have indicated it is not in conformity with the UN Charter, from our point of view and from the Charter point of view it was illegal.

    Posted by b on September 16, 2004 at 04:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

    Hope as a Budget Item

    Last year the US Congress answered the administration´s "urgent request" by agreeing on $18.4 billion non military spending for Iraq. By now $1.14 billion have been urgently spend. Yesterday the administration asked Congress to move $3.46 billon of the US pledged money to security - that at least is what you will hear in the news.

    In a first step the Senate Foreign Relation committee yesterday moved $150 million dollar from the Iraq pot to "help victims of violence and famine in the Darfur region of Sudan". This may pay for the American military personnel working with African Union monitors in the Sudanese region of Darfur to help bring the attacking militias under control and restore security to the area - i.e. for illegal interference in a foreign sovereign country by military means.

    The actual State Department request has some details not reflect in the news.
    - Water and sewer treatment projects will be reduced by 45%.
    - Electricity project funding will be reduced by 20%.
    - Refined Oil Purchases, i.e. subsidy for private Iraqi gas and petroleum needs, will be reduced by $450 million.

    This will make for some happy Iraqis this winter - sitting in the dark, no petroleum in their heaters and sipping cold tea made with contaminated water.

    But there is hope. The money will now be spent more wisely.

    $1.8 billion will go to security - 45,000 additional police, 16,000 new border control and 20,000 additional Iraqi national guards. The capacity for the 8 week training course for new policemen is planed to double to 5,300 academy slots. Sometime from now 31,800 per year may be able to receive training.

    Oil capacity enhancement - urgently needed to turn down the insurgency - will get additional $450 million. Questions about these new contracts shall be directed to the Vice President´s office.

    Unspecified economic development goes for $380 million, accelerated employment gets $286 million and democracy and governance can be bought for $180 million.

    A nice chunk of $360 million will go to debt reduction. Sounds fuzzy? ABC news explains:

    Some $360 million will be set aside to cover the "budget cost" of forgiving 95 percent of Iraqi debt to the United States incurred during the Iraq War.
    Citibank would be proud of this scheme.

    During the Congress hearing Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq, Ronald Schlicher, claimed the DoD´s prize for the best new weapon technology.

    "In short, one of our main weapons against the insurgents is the hope and the creation of more hope," he said. "When Iraqis have hope for the future and real opportunities, they will reject those who advocate violence."
    Hope is now an official budget item.

    Posted by b on September 16, 2004 at 10:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

    September 15, 2004

    Tin Foil Hat in Jail

    In July I wrote a piece Tin Foil Hat Required about "Jack" Idema and friends torturing and running a private prison in Kabul, Afghanistan.

    Today Idema and his folks were sentenced to 10 years in comfortable Afghan prison cells.

    Soj of Flogging the Simian has researched and written extensively on the issue. The story makes most spy / terror / comedy fiction look like scientific papers. Take some time to follow her trail.

    Posted by b on September 15, 2004 at 03:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

    Ivan Lashes the Gulf

    Reuters:

    Ivan, a large storm, started to lash the Gulf, disrupting the regions oil and natural gas production and import.

    Ivan the Terrible was

    a man who believed himself chosen to save the souls of his people, but who brutally put thousands to death ...
    ...
    Ivan had huge ambitions for his new Imperial dynasty. He launched a holy war ... showing no mercy to these Muslim peoples and decimating their cultural heritage. Ivan's conquest ... gave birth to a ... personality cult glorifying him as the Orthodox crusader.
    Please stay away from various Ivans.

    pic


    Posted by b on September 15, 2004 at 09:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

    One Month Ago ...

    ... Billmon went "to be off on a boat for a week or so". I have no idea what happened to him since - let´s just hope he is well.

    This site was created to carry comments on Billmon´s posts after he turned off comments at the Whiskey Bar. Here well used Open Threads were added, as were some posts from fellow bar flies and my rants. This morning someone commented:

    seems like less and less posts lately. i'm not on the same scale of intellect as most of you but i wanted to let you know i check this site several times daily and do really appreciate your insight. some of the best links to info also. thanks!
    The Whiskey Annex has hardly traffic anymore and here at the Moon Of Alabama traffic dropped from some 1,200 hits per day to less than 1,000. Worse, comments to hits ratio has halved from some 8% to 4%. Without Billmon or more active participation from the bar flies this site looses its purpose.

    I do not have the talent, cultivation, knowledge, background and time to create the content needed to keep this side running all by myself. If you see value in keeping the Moon shining please contribute.

    You may want to write several short pieces a week and post them here. Drop me a note and you will have a posting account. You may like to write a piece just once a while and have it posted - send it via email and I will take care of it (address on the About page).

    If writing posts doesn’t fit you, please comment. Let’s know your thoughts and feelings, drop some links, suggest discussions - it’s what keeps this site going. And if you find something valuable here, let it be known elsewhere too.

    However, thanks for visiting and your participation.

    Posted by b on September 15, 2004 at 08:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (50)

    Off Topics - Open Thread

    for you convenience ... please share your news and views

    Posted by b on September 15, 2004 at 06:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (32)

    As Stupid as It Gets

    Talafar in north western Iraq is primarily inhabited by Turkmen, an ethnic minority in Iraq.

    The city of some 155,000 was under the Northern No-Fly Zone US and British forces set up after the first Gulf War to protect Northern Iraq from Saddam´s Air Force. From May 2000 on, after receiving some anti-aircraft artillery fire from around Talafar coalition forces started to drop bombs.

    On 16 June 2001 a missile hit a soccer field in the town while a game was under way killing 23 people. Iraqis blamed the coalition forces, US military sources said the explosion was not due to a US-British airstrike, but an errant surface-to-air missile.

    The US forces around Talafar are allied with the Iraqi Security Forces, which in the north are nearly exclusively Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. As Juan Cole reports :

    The US wanted the Türkmen security forces of Telafer [obviously they are governing themselves] to make searches in some houses. The Türkmen security forces rejected this since they knew the people, who were also Türkmen. Upon US insistance on the operation, the security chief of Telafar stepped back and the US appointed a Kurd, Hurshit Hasso as security chief, who immediatley started the operation using support of Kurdish troops from Zaho and Erbil. These troops participated as Iraqi Security forces. Now much of the civilian population is in the Kamber valley and are afraid that the Kurds will bring their families along, settle for good and thus change the balance for the national census in Iraq, which is to be held on Oct 12.
    From the Turkmen and Turkish perspective this is a power and land grab scheme of the Kurds, supported by US forces. In the last two weeks the US forces put Tall`Afar under siege and bombed parts of the city. Some 100 people are reported to have died and some 50,000 have fleed from the city to the country side. The US troops than barred the refugees from returning to the city.

    The Washington Post describes how an obviously Kurdish informer is leading US troops to harass the Turkmen population.

    The Iraqi known as "The Source" slipped the borrowed U.S. military fatigues over his clothes in the back of the armored personnel carrier. He donned a black ski mask that covered everything but his eyes.

    He stepped out of the back of the vehicle and addressed the interpreter who would in turn address the company commander who would lead the search for terrorists this day.

    "The village. He wants you to arrest all the men in the village," the interpreter told Army Capt. Eric Beaty, commander of Company C, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment.

    "They're all bad?" Beaty asked.

    The interpreter consulted The Source. "Yes, all bad," he said.
    ...
    "You have the right to remain silent," one soldier told an uncomprehending detainee in English. "Anything you say will result in a punch in the face."
    ...
    "All of the village, they are terrorists," The Source told two journalists after he finished.

    Asked how he knew, he said: "I have one guy here, and he passed along the information to me."

    Asked how he could be sure, he said: "Yes, they are terrorists. They all have the long beard. They had the beard, but some of them they shaved."

    The Source declined to give his name. He then asked: "Is the commander going to pay me any money? If you are an informant, they are supposed to give you money."

    The Turkish government has send a strict ultimatum to the US saying if operations continue in Talafar "Turkey's cooperation on issues regarding Iraq will come to a total stop" and "Of course we won’t limit ourselves to words. We never shy away from carrying out whatever is necessary.”. Such a step would deny the US the important use of the airbase of Incirlic in Turkey and stop any supply coming through Turkey to US troops in northern Iraq. The Turkish opposition parties have taken an even harder stance. The US now caved in to this and Turkmen people are allowed back to Talafar.

    The complete lack of knowledge of the US commanders to the obvious power schemes and ethnic sensitivities is incredible. Aside from that, the dependency on Turkish support is a sine qua non to their further operations in northern Iraq. To endanger this support is as stupid as is gets. The atmosphere in the command ranks of course trickles down the ranks leading to the maddening behaviour of the troops on the ground and the loss of any support in the population.

    Lord, please let it rain brain.

    Posted by b on September 15, 2004 at 04:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

    September 14, 2004

    Hole in the Pocket

    U.S. Q2 current account deficit widens to $166 billion

    The U.S. current account deficit widened to a record $166.2 billion in the second quarter from $147.2 billion in the first quarter, the Commerce Department estimated Tuesday

    The deficit increased to a record 5.7 percent of gross domestic product during the June quarter

    The current account deficit is the broadest measure of the nation's economic balance sheet with the rest of the world. It encompasses both trade and capital flows.

    Thanks to the US of A for the transfer of $166 billion in U.S. financial assets, stocks, bonds, etc to foreign countries. Let´s hope they will use it wisely.

    Usually forgotten in the comments and calculations - the interest, dividends, and capital gains earned on these assets in subsequent years will go to foreigners and will therefore largely escape US taxation.

    This years new transfer to foreigners will be over $600 billion. Even if foreigners may only get a meager 3% dividend on this, there will be $18 billion of US generated profits per year in the forseeable future that will not be taxed in the US but will help other nations budgets.

    There is a big hole in the pocket of Uncle Sam and someone will need to fix this.

    Posted by b on September 14, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

    Unblurred Slogan

    Rush Limbaugh Becomes Official Unpaid Advisor to Bush-Cheney '04

    I have become, and have been for a while, an official, unpaid advisor to the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, and we decided to go public with this because there's no problem with it whatsoever.
    ...
    There's no conflict here. There's absolutely no conflict whatsoever. The line has been successfully blurring now for years and years and years.
    pic


    Please help Rush in his old/new unblurred capacity. Find a special line for his old/new unblurred poster. Submit your entries in the comments section and you'll have a chance to win today´s grand prize - an all-expenses-paid three night stay at Abu Ghraib (cold water showers standard, warm water is extra).

    May the best win.

    Posted by b on September 14, 2004 at 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

    Russia Centralizes

    Putin is severly tightening the central grip on the 89 entities that make up todays Russia.

    Putin proposed, first, to scrap direct gubernatorial elections, replacing them with a system in which the president submits nominees to regional legislatures for approval. He also called for doing away with first-past-the-post contests for the State Duma; instead, the lower house is to be composed exclusively of candidates elected from party lists. (Moscow Times Report and Editorial)
    Putin sees the ramified democratic and federal structures as endangering the state. As a consequence he is recreating the traditional centralism of Russia and seems to do so within the consens of the majority. He has also inititated two additional major policy changes. First
    Putin appointed his confidant and Cabinet chief of staff Dmitry Kozak as the head of a new federal commission that will try to get at the roots of terrorism by tackling poverty and poor education in the North Caucasus.
    and second
    Putin, reiterating threats by senior military officials last week, said the military is ready to carry out preemptive strikes on terrorist bases anywhere in the world.
    The first measure will be positive, if Putin manages to put enough money behind it and if he is able to this over long years. The second is a clear warning to the US. Stay out of our sphere, or we will hit back - chess is our national sport, we know how to play it.

    Is all of this positive? My gut feeling is yes. The Russian people were disenfranchised by the breakdown of the Sowjet imperium. The Yelzin wodka induced anarchie did put Russias wealth into the hand of a small class of oligarchs. Live expectations did sink from 65.0 years in 1987 to 57.3 in 1994. Infant mortality did increase from 17.6 per 1000 in 1990 to 20.3 in 1993. The state nearly dissolved and crime took over.

    Since 1999 the economy is back on track and the state stabilizes. Fortunatly the Sowjet Union dissolved without much bloodshed, relations with neighbor states are tolerable. The next step Russia will have to take is to consolidate its strategic independence and clean the internal social mess. It chances to do so are quite good as it is economically self sufficient and the low birth rate insures imperial ambitions are contained.

    In the typical Russian family all sons are equal. Emmanuel Todd sees this as the base of a Russian universalism in contrast to the individualism most western cultures have developed. Maybe it is also the inherited base for the steps Putin is taking now.

    Posted by b on September 14, 2004 at 06:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

    September 13, 2004

    Election Campaign

    Thucydides comments about the election campaign:

    Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any.
    ...
    The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy; his opponent a man to be suspected. To succeed in a plot was to have a shrewd head, to divine a plot a still shrewder; but to try to provide against having to do either was to break up your party and to be afraid of your adversaries.
    ...
    The fair proposals of an adversary were met with jealous precautions by the stronger of the two, and not with a generous confidence. Revenge also was held of more account than self-preservation.
    ...
    The cause of all these evils was the lust for power arising from greed and ambition; and from these passions proceeded the violence of parties once engaged in contention.
    ...
    Meanwhile the moderate part of the citizens perished between the two, either for not joining in the quarrel, or because envy would not suffer them to escape.
    The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides

    Posted by b on September 13, 2004 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

    September 12, 2004

    Baghdad Fighting

    Here are pictures from today´s morning fights in Baghdad. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

    The pictures were taken by Gaith, a friend of Iraq Blogger Salam Pax (old blog, new blog).

    Gaith reports 20 dead and 48 wounded. According to Aljazeera´s report, an Iraqi photographer working for Getty Images were also wounded slightly by flying shrapnel. Gaith looks ok though. Good, we need these pictures.

    Yesterday Gaith made a picture showing Allawi´s hand bandaged because he broke his hand when he banged a table during an argument with an aid. Was he talking with Negroponte? Maybe, but then, that aid relationship is supposed to be the other way round.

    Posted by b on September 12, 2004 at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (37)

    Doesn´t Rank Up

    In his new book Seymore Hersh claims that in late 2002 a CIA analyst, FBI agents and a military lawyer at Guantánamo reported to the Defense Department about prisoner abuses. The reports went up to the level of Condoleezza Rice and Rumsfeld. Nothing was done. In late 2003 a military officer in Iraq reported abuses in Abu Ghraib directly to General Abizaid and his deputy. Again, nothing was done.

    Meanwhile the Department of Defense preemptivly issues a statement claiming that:

    Mr. Seymor Hersh’s upcoming book apparently contains many of the numerous unsubstantiated allegations and inaccuracies which he has made in the past based upon unnamed sources.

    But that’s just the sideshow. To Rumsfeld it is more important to look at the differences between various abuses and killings. He does so when he says:

    Does it rank up there with chopping off someone's head on television? It doesn't. It doesn't.
    Chopping off someone’s head or struck[ing the detainee] in the head with the butt of a gun so he dies seem to have similar outcomes. Why do they differ in ranking?

    The difference in Rumsfeld´s mind must be in the words "on television". Showing the first murder recorded on TV rather then to just take fun pictures of the dead like after the second is the nuance that ranks the incidents. It is not deeds, it’s the type of reporting done on them that makes them harmful.

    Thanks to Mr. Rumsfeld we can now see the difference between defined terrorism (PDF), politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets, and the firing from helicopters into civilian crowds. Whatever is reported on TV ranks up.

    Dear Seymore Hersh, dear Aljazerra, please the reports coming.

    Posted by b on September 12, 2004 at 07:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

    September 11, 2004

    Thread Open

    news and opinions...

    Posted by b on September 11, 2004 at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (33)

    Paciencia y barajar

    pic

    The reminiscence of the twin towers fades into background leaving room for perversities like the above and the Wars on Terra that are brought on us in the name of the 9/11 victims and other terror prey. Let us not be duped into such suppressions.

    Spanish author Javier Marías writes:

    It's also certainly true that for most of us, not a day goes by without remembering the almost 200 victims of March 11, with pain and a keen awareness that chance, fate and bad luck continue to be as important today as they were in humanity's less foreseeing epochs.

    Here in Spain, we don't feel as if we are at war because we aren't. And neither are the inhabitants of the United States, however vociferously many Americans may insist that they are.
    ...
    There is no war against terrorism. There can be no such thing against an enemy that remains dormant most of the time and is almost never visible. It's simply another of life's inevitable troubles, and all we can do as we continue to combat it is repeat Cervantes's famous phrase "Paciencia y barajar": "Have patience, and keep shuffling the cards."

    There is no such thing as a war on terrorism

    Posted by b on September 11, 2004 at 05:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (19)

    September 10, 2004

    Two Planets Earth

    There seems to be a more and more different apperception of today´s world in the United States and the Rest of the World.

    Compare the new Washington Post/ABC News poll numbers, with Bush leading Kerry by 52% to 43%, and the Pipa international poll where Kerry has a 46% to 20% lead.

    One may diagnose that American exceptionalism is evolving into autism. Some behaviour looks increasingly to fit the symptoms and as the individual numbers are increasing rapidly, the nation may be just following the trend.

    But then, maybe there are just two planets Earth circling the sun.

    Posted by b on September 10, 2004 at 07:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

    September 09, 2004

    Ban on Coke Expires

    Section 110101 of the ´Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994´ will expire in four days. In the 2000 campaign Bush was expected to reauthorize the law. During his confirmation hearing in January 2001 Attorney General John Ashcroft was also supportive:

    FEINSTEIN: Will you support its reauthorization when it sunsets in 2004?
    ASHCROFT: It is my understanding that the president-elect of the United States has indicated his clear support for extending the cocaine ban, and I would be pleased to move forward with that position and to support that as a policy of this president and as a policy of the Justice Department.
    Now let´s tune in to the September 8th Whitehouse Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan
    Q The sale and purchase ban on cocaine expires in just a few days. Can you list for us the many things the President might be doing to encourage Congress to send him the bill that he said he would sign?

    MR. McCLELLAN: The President's views have been made very clear, and the best way we can reduce drug abuse is to strictly enforce our laws. And prosecutions under this administration are up. I think it's -- well, it's more than 60 percent -- I think 68 percent over the previous administration. That's the best way to crack down on drugs. That's an important issue here in terms of the cocaine sale and purchase ban. He's made his views very well-known.

    Q And his view is he'll sign it if --

    MR. McCLELLAN: He's made his views known as recently as this week.

    Q His view is he'll sign it if it comes to him. Is he doing anything to make sure he --

    MR. McCLELLAN: The President supports the reauthorization of current law.

    Q What is he doing to actively make sure -- is he doing anything to make sure he --

    MR. McCLELLAN: The President doesn't set the congressional timetable.

    Q No, but he can lobby for it.

    MR. McCLELLAN: Congress sets the timetable. And the President's views are very clear.

    Q Has he made any calls or anything to encourage this to happen?

    MR. McCLELLAN: What we've continued to do -- because this issue does go to the issue of abuses committed with drugs, as well -- and what we've continued to do is step up our efforts to prosecute abuses committed with drugs and strictly enforce our laws. And that's the best way we can deter abuses committed with drugs.

    Q But he did something this week?

    Q But he's not doing anything to make sure this doesn't lapse on the 13th?

    MR. McCLELLAN: We'll continue to make our views known.

    Somehow related links:
    Beretta Magazine Promotion
    'Bush doped to relate to women'
    "Officer Down"

    Posted by b on September 9, 2004 at 02:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)