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saturday, december 27, 2003

Storming the Bastille
Presidential campaigns had drifted out of alignment with most Americans. The ritual no longer seemed like something the country did for itself every four years, but what a professional cadre did, and sold back to the country as “politics.” [Jay Rosen, "Private Life, Public Happiness and the Howard Dean Connection," Pressthink, December 9, 2003]
I can remember when the party national conventions actually chose the presidential nominee. No, really. The delegates came to the conventions pledged to a candidate but free to change their minds. Representatives of the contenders roared into the convention halls, and they wheeled and dealed and politicked, often right on television, until somebody got enough delegates to bag the nomination. It was a hoot to watch, I can tell you. 
Then came reforms of the 1970s and 1980s, and today delegates come to the conventions locked into the candidate chosen by state primaries. It was supposed to make the nominating process more "democratic." Instead, a small cadre of party insiders and the professional hired help learned how to manipulate the primary process to return the desired outcome.
 
This was seen clearly in 2000. George W. Bush was the Republican party's chosen candidate. Therefore, George W. Bush got the big money donors and the best PR people and the "pundits" and the push polls and the "soft money" ads telling lies about John McCain. It was arranged for George W. Bush to be the nominee; democracy be damned. And so he was.
 
In the past several years politics has become just another kind of marketing. And the party bosses -- we don't call them bosses any more, of course, but that's what they are -- choose the product, and marketing experts create the packaging and advertising to sell the product. Those at the top of the power pyramid use print and broadcast media to persuade a carefully focus-grouped public to buy the product. Thus in the 2000 general election campaign, writes Rosen, "two almost identical campaigns, reading from the same data about the same issues, shouting at the same undecided voters in the same toss up-states, tried to ride slightly different catchwords into the White House."
 
Dick Morris calls this the "Media Age" style of campaign. "From 1972 to 1999 or 2000 we had what I see as the Media Age in American politics--which empowered guys like me who do television commercials, fundraisers, fat-cat donors, special interests and a handful of people who became the new political elite."
 
Stupid networks, smart mobs. But, my dears, the revolution is at hand. Today, Morris continues, "the media is losing its power in politics and the Internet is gaining it."
 
It's more accurate, I think, to say the Web is creating a means for people to re-engage in the political process. No where is this seen more clearly than in the Howard Dean campaign. Rather than a power pyramid, the Web enables a power circle in which supporters can play a tactical role in the campaigns.
 
Gary Wolf writes in Wired that part of the genius of the Dean campaign is use of a stupid network.
Stupid is meant in the technical sense, defined by David Isenberg in his classic telephony paper, "The Rise of the Stupid Network." Isenberg advanced the principle that under conditions of uncertainty, a network should not be optimized for any set of uses presumed to be definitive. Instead, the network should be as simple as possible, with advanced functionality and intelligence moved out to its edges. For the Dean campaign, this means that hundreds of independent groups are organizing with very little direction from headquarters. [Gary Wolf, "How the Internet Invented Howard Dean," Wired, January 2004]
Campaign managers learned that attempting centralized management of the web campaign created bottlenecks that slowed growth, so they stopped trying to micromanage the network and got out of its way. Ultimately, the stupid network enabled a smart mob of dedicated supporters who made Dean the front runner.
 
The post-Media Age. Just as the Dean campaign finds it is able to bypass the old power structures, so are increasing numbers of people bypassing traditional media for political news and commentary.

The internet reveals the moral bankruptcy of the political journalists like George Will and Bob Novak who have now become as much a part of the system as they were never supposed to be. Instead of scrupulously guarding against conflicts of interest, there's a carnival-like race towards best-selling agenda-laden punditry and consulting. [Matt Stoller, "A Response to Jay Rosen," The Blogging of the President 2004 (BOPNews), December 23, 2004]

To many, the "pundits" who dominate political dialogue in major news media seem to be nothing but shills for the Washington power elite. And when every radio and cable 24-hour news network runs incessant, identical coverage of Jacko and Kobe, the audience for "hard" news is relying more and more on the Internet. Pent-up frustration with what passes for "journalism" met new Web technologies -- and blogging was born. And there are group blogs and blog alliances and blogs that link and dialogue with other blogs, and a vast network of political news and commentary has grown and is growing out of sight of the traditional media.
 
Frank Rich of the New York Times is one of the few old-technology journalists to have glimpsed the revolution, and he sent a warning to his colleagues in a recent column.
In Washington, the Internet is still seen mainly as a high-velocity disseminator of gossip (Drudge) and rabidly partisan sharpshooting by self-publishing excoriators of the left and right. ... the political establishment has been blindsided by the Internet's growing sophistication as a political tool....
The condescending reaction to the Dean insurgency by television's political correspondents can be reminiscent of that hilarious party scene in the movie "Singin' in the Rain," where Hollywood's silent-era elite greets the advent of talkies with dismissive bafflement. "The Internet has yet to mature as a political tool," intoned Carl Cameron of Fox News last summer as he reported that the runner-up group to Dean supporters on the meetup.com site was witches. "If you want to be a Deaniac," ABC News's Claire Shipman said this fall, "you've got to know the lingo," as she dutifully gave her viewers an uninformed definition of "blogging." [Frank Rich, "Napster Runs for President," The New York Times, December 21, 2003]

It is true that the majority of us bloggers are amateurs, but some of us have had some training (in my case -- University of Missouri School of Journalism, class of 1973) and many working journalists are moving on to the Web, fed up with their own profession.

The revolution is just starting. Remarkable things could happen in the next few years.

8:09 pm | link

Liberal or Progressive?
 
The words left, progressive, and liberal often are used interchangeably, just as right equals conservative in today's political discourse. But today's right-wingers are no conservatives; they are instead revolutionaries and reactionaries. By the same token, there are leftists and progressives who are not liberal.
 
How can this be? First off, let's define liberal. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, liberalism is a
philosophy or movement that has as its aim the development of individual freedom. Because the concepts of liberty or freedom change in different historical periods the specific programs of liberalism also change. The final aim of liberalism, however, remains fixed, as does its characteristic belief not only in essential human goodness but also in human rationality. Liberalism assumes that people, having a rational intellect, have the ability to recognize problems and solve them and thus can achieve systematic improvement in the human condition.
I run into people who bend themselves into pretzels over "classical" liberalism versus other forms of liberalism, and I anticipate hearing from some of these people. My argument is that although the policies and political goals of liberal movements differ over time, the foundation of liberalism remains the belief that freedom is a primary political good.
 
Progress and improvement in the human condition flow naturally from political liberty, the theory goes, because a free people will choose policies beneficial to the people. Thus liberalism is thought to be progressive. But a free people may choose to maintain conservative or traditional institutions. And, as we know, free people can be hoodwinked into voting against their own best interests.
 
As you probably know, the terms "left wing" and "right wing" originated in the 18th century, when in the French National Assembly supporters of the monarchy sat on the right side of the room and reformers sat on the left. Thus, right wing came to mean "conservative" and favoring the status quo; and left wing is associated with progressivism and reform.
 
So when is progressivism not liberal? I ran into a good example a few days ago, as part of my ongoing quarrel with International A.N.S.W.E.R. IA has been a visible part of the anti-Iraq War movement, and  in antiwar circles it is unpopular to criticize them. But I do it anyway.
 
IA is a creation of the Workers World Party, described by David Corn as "a small revolutionary-socialist outfit with a fancy for North Korea's Kim Jong-Il and the goal of abolishing private property." I did some digging on my own and found articles in WWP publications that supported the Chinese occupation of Tibet (among other very un-liberal policies).
 
But recently when I confronted an IA apologist with this fact, to my astonishment this alleged liberal claimed the Tibetan people were better off under Chinese rule than being "oppressed" by the backward Dalai Lama. Now Tibetans have technology, after all! Never mind that at least 1.5 million Tibetans died to receive the blessings of technology, and never mind that there's nothing in Buddhist teaching that forbids technology -- capitalism could have brought them technology with much less trauma. And never mind that Tibetans are no longer free to openly practice their religion and may be arrested and tortured merely for possessing a photograph of His Holiness.  Tibetans, I was told, no longer spend their lives spinning prayer wheels. Therefore, they are better off.
 
The person making this argument is a leftist, yes, and possibly a progressive. But he is no liberal.

By definition, liberalism cannot be authoritarian. A person with liberal values would prefer an unprogressive government whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, as long as individual civil liberties are respected, over a "progressive" but authoritarian government. Individual civil liberties are critical, however, and it is a legitimate use of government power to protect them -- for example, President Eisenhower's deployment of National Guard to Little Rock in 1957. ("Libertarians" would disagree, I suspect.)

I've got more to say on this, but it will have to be later.

8:57 am | link

Hot Links 7:20 am | link

friday, december 26, 2003

Division and Democrats
 
In one of his weirder recent columns, William Safire wrote that the Democratic Party is divided into two major factions: The Old Guard and the Howard Dean-Internet Group.  Safire speculates that if Dean is the nominee the Old Guard will support him, but if Dean is not the nominee the Dean-Internet crowd will bolt the party.

But what if Dean loses momentum in Iowa, does "less than expected" in New Hampshire, gets clobbered in Carolina or blows his cool at media tormentors once too often? What if the Old Democrat center, revivified as a stop-Dean movement and helped by the pendulum press, actually stops Dean? Could happen. Then what?

He is not the sort who gives up easily. Nor is he likely to ask Clark or whomever in a smoke-free room for the No. 2 slot. Dean has grass-roots troops, a unique fund-raising organization, the name recognition and the fire-in-the-belly, messianic urge to go all the way on his own ticket.

Politronic chatter picked up by pundits monitoring lefty blogsites and al-Gora intercepts flashes the warning: If stopped, Dean may well bolt.

That split of opposition would be a bonanza for Bush. In a two-man race, the odds are that he would beat Dean comfortably, but in a three-party race, Bush would surely waltz in with the greatest of ease. [William Safire, "Don't Stop Dean," The New York Times, December 24, 2003]

To be sure, there's a lot of wishful thinking behind those words. I haven't seen any "lefty" bloggers predicting a Dean defection. But in recent days I've noted several "divide the Dems" scenarios, and some of them come from Dems.

Among us "lefty" bloggers it's pretty much a given that the eventual presidential nominee will be either Dean or Wesley Clark. (The "pundits" have written off Clark's campaign based on polls. Some of these same polls show Joe Lieberman in second place after Dean. Enough said.) Dean supporters -- people whose opinions I respect -- are worrying that if Dean gets the nomination Clarkies will bolt the party. Clark supporters -- people whose opinions I respect -- worry that if Clark gets the nomination the Deaniacs will bolt the party. 

But if you look at most of the policy proposals being floated by Dean and Clark (and most of the rest of the field, for that matter) you'd be pressed to find any vast, gaping difference. Ultimately the same force is driving people toward both Clark and Dean -- a determination to get George W. Bush out of the White House.

I think the identity of the eventual nominee will be known by March 1, after the February primaries, and even though supporters of the also-rans will be bitterly disappointed, most of them will get over it and reconcile (if not rally) to the nominee by the time flowers bloom in the spring, tra-lah. The only voters I think will bolt the party when their man goes down in flames are the Kucinichistas. But these are people who vote Green most of the time, anyway, so it won't matter to the party.

(And if by the "Old Guard" Safire refers to the Democratic Party power elite centered in Washington -- in truth the division is not between the Old Guard and Deaniacs; it's between the Old Guard and a large majority of rank-and-file Democrats outside the Beltway.)

There's also a much-beloved theory among Freepers that the Democratic Party is about to be torn apart by a power struggle. On one side of the struggle will be Hillary, Dark Queen of Terrible Power, and her consort William the Slippery. On the other side will be Howard Dean and/or whoever gets the Democratic nomination who is not assumed to be Queen Hillary's pawn.

What the Freepers can't see, of course, is that to most Dems Senator Clinton is just another politician. She's one of ours, yes, but she doesn't stand out from the pack in any appreciable way. Like Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, and Lieberman, she voted for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002, and in doing so very probably killed any chances for a presidential nomination. 

Further, the Clintons represent a move to the right that seemed sensible and expedient for the Democratic Party in the 1990s. But the Dem Party pendulum is swinging back to the left -- one more thing the "pundits" haven't figured out yet -- and I suspect that by 2008 the Clintons and Joe Lieberman and the Democratic Leadership Council and other conservative elements of the Democratic Party will be considered relics of the distant past whose time has come and gone. And this will be true whether Bush is re-elected or not.

1:24 pm | link

Hot Links 8:39 am | link

wednesday, december 24, 2003

Holy Holy
 
Franklin Foer writes in the New Republic that Howard Dean has a problem with religion.
One day, a truly secular candidate might be able to run for president without suffering at the polls. But that day won't be soon. This is, for better or worse, an openly religious country that prefers its politicians to be openly religious, too--a trend that has only become more pronounced in recent national elections. A 2000 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 70 percent of Americans want their president to be a person of faith. This religious vote isn't just concentrated in Southern states that a Democrat has no chance of carrying. It also saturates the Midwest, where Dean would have to win to have a chance at the presidency. ... Indeed, in the last five presidential elections, the candidate who more aggressively conveyed his religiosity (whether honestly or not so honestly) won. Seen in this light, a popular contest between Dean's secularism and George W. Bush's heartfelt faith could be, well, no contest. [Franklin Foer, "Beyond Belief," The New Republic, December 29, 2003]

And Joe Lieberman promises that, if elected, the line separating church and state will be soft and blurry.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut called on Tuesday for strengthening the role of religion in public life and took a veiled swipe at Howard Dean, who has run a steadfastly secular campaign.

"I know that some people believe that faith has no place in the so-called public square," said Mr. Lieberman, an observant Jew. "They forget that the constitutional separation of church and state, which I strongly support, promises freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Some people forget that faith was central to our founding and remains central to our national purpose and our individual lives." [Diane Cardwell, "Lieberman Talks Up Religion as Democrats Poke, Jostle, Warn and Joke," The New York Times, December 24, 2003]

What is it that makes a person "religious"? As noted in the December 1 Mahablog (The Mahaknowsitall Sutra) the standards used by pollsters to determine who is and is not religious -- church attendance or belief in Judgment Day, for example -- are measures of only one religious tradition, conservative monotheism. People who are religious but not conservative monotheists (for example, Buddhist monks) don't register as being religious.

This suggests we should reconsider what it is to be "religious."

Foer calls Bush's religion "heartfelt." That's a subjective judgment. Bush talks a lot about religion, but we don't know if what's in his heart is Jesus or acid reflux. Journalists and pollsters and most of the electorate assume that if a person talks a lot about religion, he must be religious; and if he doesn't, he must be not-religious. (This goes along with the character myth -- an assumption that if someone talks a lot about morality, he must be very moral.)

I argue that people who can speak glibly about their own religion in public usually have only a surface aquaintance with religion and wouldn't know genuine spirituality if it bit their butts.

Regarding religion, what can be explained in words is just a cheap representation of the divine, not the divine itself. Direct experience of the Absolute defies definition. Walt Whitman in "Song of the Rolling Earth" describes the frustration of countless generations of mystics.

When I undertake to tell the best I find I cannot,
My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots,
My breath will not be obedient to its organs,
I become a dumb man.

The Tao Teh Ching opens with the disclaimer that the Tao that can be written in a book is not the Tao.

TAO can be talked about, but not the Eternal Tao.
Names can be named, but not the Eternal Name.

And Mahayana Buddhism takes a dim view of beliefs and "notions." The realization of Enlightenment is not accomplished through dogma or doctrine.

So, Subhuti,  when a bodhisattva gives rise to the unequalled mind of awakening, he has to give up all ideas. He cannot not rely on forms when he gives rise to that mind, nor on sounds, smells, tastes, tactile objects, or objects of mind. He can only give rise to that mind that is not caught up in anything. [The Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra]

Imagine for a moment if the great Christian mystic Meister Eckhart were to run for political office in America, and someone from the Pew Research Center asked him about his religious beliefs.

"No idea represents or signifies itself. It always points to something else, of which it is a symbol. And since man has no ideas, except those abstracted from external things through the sense, he cannot be blessed by an idea."

Eckhardt speaks of a place

"...where the soul is informed with the primal purity, stamped with the seal of pure being, where it tastes God himself as he was before he ever took upon himself the forms of truth and knowledge, where everything that can be named is sloughed off--there the soul knows with its purest knowledge and takes on Being in its most perfect similitude."

"Where everything that can be named is sloughed off" -- compare/contrast to fundies, who thump their Bibles and proclaim that God is on America's side as we wage war. Pat Robertson goes to Israel and says Yasser Arafat should be "eliminated." In our culture, Pat Robertson is considered religious. In our culture, Meister Eckhart would be considered a nutjob, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama -- who does not pray to the monotheistic God or believe in Judgment Day -- is not religious at all.

I don't think Howard Dean has a problem with religion. I think America has a problem with religion.

November 20, 2003, "I Hate Fundies"

9:15 pm | link

Hot Links 5:54 am | link

tuesday, december 23, 2003

Verified Voting
 
Here is an email I received from Cheryl Guttman of New York:
 
Hillary has sponsored her own bill on verified voting but according to computer expert David Dill of Verified Voting.com, it is not good enough because it does not specify a paper trail which is essential to make sure that the vote is honest.  Otherwise a smart hacker can cover their trail by erasing their hacking code.  Also the companies have the propietary code and they have a conflict of interest--CEO of Diebold (one of the machines being used) O'Dell actually said he wanted to "deliver Republican votes" in an Ohio Republican fundraiser. 

The only Senate bill which must be supported is Graham's S.1980.  Please Ask Hillary and to Co-sponsor his bill and you can also ask Hillary to change her legislation to specify a paper trail.  The following is an email I wrote up that has some additional info to what is on verifiedvoting.com , please read, do some actions and forward (feel free to add your own words and edit) to friends.  Take care--Cheryl


Hi all, there are exciting new developments concerning Verified Voting, which is Essential for Honest Elections and Democracy Itself
and has been endorsed by the NY Times (see more links at bottom). 

Senator Graham from Florida has sponsored an identical Senate bill S.1980 to Holt's House bill HR 2239 requiring a verified voting trail for the new computerized voting machines which computer programers are warning are vulnerable to hackers and errors and which are mandated by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).  For more info see
http://www.verifiedvoting.com  --they also need legal and tax consulting assistance.

We Must Get Co-sponsors for S.1980!  (Similar Senate Bills may not require a paper trail--so this is the one to push for!)  We must also get Holt's bill out of committee and have HR2239 have more co-sponsors.  Now we have 94 co-sponsors of the 435 voting members. Four of the co-sponsors are Republicans, 90 are Democrats. See below to go to Town Meetings call, fax and more.

Please Do These Urgent Action Items Now and/or Bookmark These Pages and Save This Email for doing them ASAP

      URGENT ACTION ITEMS: 
  1. Call Congress to support  S.1980 and H.R. 2239
  2. To Send Free Prewritten fax to Congressperson (feel free to add own words and check fax box on bottom--counts more than emails) http://action.eff.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=2821
  3. To Send fax to Senators about S.1980, you can Copy Words from Previous Letter and Edit them for S.1980, to find Senators fax # click on this link and then on their picture http://www.capwiz.com/lwv/dbq/officials/  
  4. Help Look Up and/or Attend Your Representatives town meetings to Urge them to Support S.1980 and  HR2239 
  5. Endorse VerifiedVoting.org's  Open Letter to the House Administration Committee 
  6. Add your.Organizations to this list to Endorse H.R.2239 & S.1980 for Senator Graham's bill

    You can also

    • Send Quick Email League of Women Voter President to Urge the Leage of Women Voters to Support Verified Voting KMaxwell@LWV.Org
    • Call Florida Secratery Of State Glenda Hood who thinks paper trails are not necessary for Florida and tell her what you think 850-245-6500 !
    • Quick email Support for California's Secretary of State Shelly's decision to mandate a paper trail for California while suggesting changing deadline to be ready for 2004 elections   As a result of intense pressure to change his mind, Secretary Shelley needs to hear from as many people as possible right now -- both inside and outside California -- who applaud his decision. -- you can write to: constituentaffairs@ss.ca.gov

          For more info:
          Felons counting your Votes
         
    http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20031216/APN/312161067
          US. System Vulnerable To Fraud
         
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3529556&thesection=news
          http://www.blackboxvoting.org/
          diebold contrib. to Repulicans
         
    http://www.portclintonnewsherald.com/news/stories/20030827/localnews/140871.html
          expert ousted from conference
         
    http://scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0308/S00014.htm
          more calls to vet voting
         
    http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,59874,00.html
          report raises electronic security questions
         
    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/25/technology/25VOTE.html?pagewanted=print&position=
          "must read" interview
         
    http://markcrispinmiller.blogspot.com/
          How Bush "won" the election
         
    http://www.infernalpress.com/Columns/election.html
          http://www.verifiedvoting.com/

    7:15 pm | link

    Hot Links 6:30 am | link

    monday, december 22, 2003

    And Another Thing
     
    According to today's St. Paul Pioneer Press, the state of Wyoming gets  $35.31 per person in Homeland Security money. Compare that to New York, which receives $5.05 per head. 

    "Every square inch of Wyoming is as vulnerable as every inch of New York,'' Wyoming's director of homeland security told a New York newspaper last month. "If you say there are no terrorists in Wyoming, that's just where they will strike.'' [Ruben Rosario, "Anti-Terror Dollars, Sense Questionable," St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 22, 2003]

    Of course, the only terrorists likely to strike Wyoming wouldn't come from any further away than Montana. Well, OK; maybe they do need the $35.31 per person.

    Meanwhile, President Bush is meeting with his top anti-terrorism advisors in Washington. Is this supposed to be reassuring? It isn't.

    Let's just look at one little aspect of Homeland Security, which is airports. Here's a television news story out of south Florida:

    MIAMI -- For the past two years, the Transportation Security Administration has been in charge of airport security.

    The TSA was rushed into existence after the Sept. 11 attacks to prevent terrorist threats at the nation's airports, and most analysts say the agency has done a good job overall.

    But the agency has also cost taxpayers billions of dollars -- so much money, Congress this year ordered massive cutbacks to the agency's budget. And NBC 6 has learned those cutbacks could result in major security gaps at the nation's airports.

    The TSA loses sight of baggage after it's checked in but before it is loaded on airports, and TSA has no oversight of non-TSA employees who load the airplanes.  

    The same is true at the Miami seaport, where luggage from returning cruise ship passengers is screened, but control is lost when the baggage is driven in sealed trucks to the airport by a private delivery company hired by the airline.

    The TSA says budget cuts ordered by Congress this year make total supervision of a complex problem impossible.

    "We evaluate the threat. Determine what risks we are willing to take and that's determined by how many resources you have to throw at the problem," Thomas [Rick Thomas, TSA Security Director at Miami International Airport] said.

    Thomas agreed that the main problem is "there's not enough money." ["Airport Security Not Air-Tight," NBC6, December 12, 2003]

    New York Senator Charles Schumer says that our seaports are still as porous as cheesecloth.

    Schumer said today that, unfortunately, his office has received multiple reports about gaping holes in the security at the New York City Passenger Ship Terminal, which is managed by a private company, P&O Ports. Schumer said that his office has received reports on potential car bombs near the ships, the lack of barriers to protect cruise ships in the water, inadequate training of management and security guards, routine placement of unscreened luggage under the pier, and allowing unscreened vendors to go onboard ships. [Senator Charles Schumer, press release, November 9, 2003]

    Many people in and out of government have been complaining about these very security lapses even before September 11, but the Homeland Security Department doesn't seem to be able to get its act together to fix them. Let's face it; this pack of chuckleheads can't administrate its way out of a paper bag.

    2:05 pm | link

    Orange Alert
     
    I want to address all the folks out in Heartland America, wherever that is, who support George W. Bush for keeping us safe from terrorism.
     
    The alert level rose from yellow to orange; or, as we do things on The Mahablog, from Bert to Ernie. (Note: If the little bar at the top of the right hand column is showing a picture of Elmo, be afraid.) Tom Ridge tells us that the possibility of a major terrorist attack is greater now than it's been since September 11.
     
    Now, what does this suggest to you people? Somewhere in the skull cavity where you are supposed to have a brain, is there a little quivering notion that maybe, just maybe, President Bush's so-called "war on terror" is a sham?
     
    Going to war in Iraq and even capturing Saddam Hussein hasn't done a dadblamed thing to keep us safer from terrorism. In effect, that's what Tom Ridge admits when he says that al Qaeda is still out there and planning spectacular attacks for the holiday season.
     
    Ridge also says he does not see a connection between last weekend's capture of Saddam Hussein and the heightened security alert. Of course he doesn't. There are a great many things Ridge and the rest of the Bush Administration, plus the sorry lot of lamebrains among the electorate who support them, do not see.

    In a few minutes I'll be catching a commuter train into Manhattan. In the course of the day I expect to be in or very near several prominent landmarks, including Grand Central Station, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Madison Square Garden. And I'll be taking subways.

    I'm an eyewitness to the destruction of the World Trade Center, and not a day goes by I don't think about what I saw that day. I suspect it will be on my mind again today. How I would love to set up an exchange program for Bush supporters in the Red States -- you come to New York City and spend your days in Rockefeller Center (very pretty this time of year), or any other place that might be on an al Qaeda hit list. And you reflect on the fact that we've got a big chunk of our military tied down in Iraq, and we've thrown billions of dollars at Iraq, and then think about the need for security here.

    And remember that Saddam Hussein had nothing whatsoever to do with September 11, in spite of the Bush Administration continued pathetic efforts to produce obvious forgeries for "evidence" that he did.

    7:16 am | link

    sunday, december 21, 2003

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    The Loyalties of George W. Bush

    Terror Alert Level

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    "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." --Theodore Roosevelt, 1918

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    The War Prayer

    I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!... He has heard the prayer of His servant, your shepherd, & will grant it if such shall be your desire after I His messenger shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause & think.

    "God's servant & yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused & taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken & the unspoken....

    "You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed, silently. And ignorantly & unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is completed into those pregnant words.

    "Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

    "O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

    "O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the sun-flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave & denied it -- for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset, & seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord & Thine shall be the praise & honor & glory now & ever, Amen."

    (After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! -- the messenger of the Most High waits."

    ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·

    It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

    [Mark Twain, 1905]

    Who Links Here

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    My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Sister Numchuku of Reasoned Discussion.

    Get yours.

    Copyright 2003, 2004 by Barbara O'Brien

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