American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, November 15, 2003
Dreamers and Idiots
From a trio of articles in The Guardian over the last few days, we gain some additional perspective about the high-level political dealings during the run-up to the Iraq War:
In "Bush and Blair - the betrayal" (Sidney Blumenthal, 11/14), we learn that it was not Colin Powell's suggestion that moved Bush into seeking a UN resolution against iraq, but rather Tony Blair's insistence that Bush do so as a condition of Britain's support. We learn that when the last resolution failed, it was Blair who insisted that Bush revive the Israel/Palestein peace process (which Bush had abandoned) for the continued support of Britain. We learn that Tony Blair stuck his neck out irretrievably in the good faith belief that George Bush was a man of his word. Bad move, Tony.

In "Sharon broke vow to Bush" (Chris McGreal, 11/14), we find Ariel Sharon promising Bush to dismantle settlements, but only doing so for photo-ops for the press. Instead (as a leaked memo from the Israeli foreign ministry points out), their claim "that Israel has fulfilled its side of the 'road map' is seen as lacking credibility because not only have we not evacuated the illegal outposts, we are working in every way to whitewash their existence and build more." Sure.

Finally, George Monbiot puts together as no one else can the increasingly desparate peace offers from Saddam during the run-up in "Dreamers And Idiots" (11/12). As Bush said, "It's Saddam's choice" between war and peace. The American people "can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war." Except that it wasn't and we can't. It was the exact opposite to what we were told by George Bush and Tony Blair.

And it wasn't only Saddam who was offering peace. It was also the Taliban in Afghanistan, ... except that George Bush turned them down also. So George Bush, when offered a choice between peace and war, always opts for war. And as always, Muslims are expendable.

So everyone betrays everyone. Blair betrays the British people. Bush betrays Blair and the American people. Sharon betrays Bush and the Israeli people. And always, always, always, ... Sharon and the Lukidites at the bottom of the mess in the Middle East. That's one hell of a way to run foreign affairs.

And the chimp smirks because he cannot smile.

Osama bin Laden may be winning the war against the United States. This is not because the Bush administration is facing difficulties in Afghanistan and Iraq (though the two cases reflect the limitations of hard, military power, even one as predominant as America) but because America is doing unto itself what bin Laden wanted it to do — i.e., lose its real strength, which is its pluralism, its democracy.

A recent example of this destructive process is the passage at the House of Representatives of HR 3077, the International Studies in Higher Education Act, which will force “university international studies departments to show more support for American foreign policy or risk their federal funding”.

...

The American rightwing is using its current political domination to also put in the last word on the ‘culture wars’ in US universities. Conservative think tanks and neocon scholars in the academy, it seems, are not likely to stop at anything short of straitjacketing American schools in the neoconservative ideology and putting down alternative thinking and formulations. If this process were allowed to take root, it would spell the death of freethinking in America.

But what does it mean in the context of the war on terrorism? Bin Laden has put America in a paradox. He used America’s soft power to attack the US. He knew the US response would be to immediately rely on its hard power. Insecurity often does that and it requires a great degree of sophistication to take a deep breath and understand the adversary’s strategy. It is one of the great ironies of history, of course, that he should have found, lodged in the White House, a kindred spirit in George W Bush, one who believes as much in invoking God to fight the infidels as bin Laden himself. So the bin Laden script began to unfold. The mixture of fear and anger has since led the US to flex its military muscle outside and resort to paranoid legislation at home. By far the worst of the two phenomena is what America has done to itself internally even as it gropes in the dark outside “to bring democracy to the Middle East” and “security for itself” at home.

Here lies another paradox. The neocons want to bring democracy to Iraq and, by extension, to the Middle East. But while they want to go out in the world and foist democracy on the Middle East, they and others in their camp are peeling off democracy’s many layers within the United States. The question is: Should less democracy within be the price for more of it without? Indeed, can it be? [more]
I trust I'm not the only American here who finds it repugnant that we need lecturing from a Pakistani newspaper on the merits of an open society. No offense to Pakistanis, of course, but this is a testimonial to how far the United States has sunk in recent years.

Further background on HR 3077 can be found here, which I previously posted on American Samizdat.
It's too easy to continue down this worn path. We've set up our blogs (a hard experience for many of us) and now we pass around our links and comments to the same visitors ad nauseum. We try to find out if one of our regular high-brow reads has found a scoop no one else has posted so that we can be one of the first to re-post and gloatingly cite the high-brow source. There are so many liberal bloggers out there, we've diluted ourselves to the state of uselessness. And to add insult to injury, many of the more popular sites have a perpetual hat out for donations. Good old capitalism.

...We are all wasting our time assuming that a Democrat in the White House will solve our problems. What proof exists that such a thing could possibly happen, that our fortunes will magically reverse? It isn't going to happen, because the White House isn't in charge. Republican Big Business is in charge. Once we all come to grips with this reality, then we can start returning the basic fabric of our society to the people.

Nothing less than a true revolution will accomplish this. [more]
Easier said than done, but food for thought nonetheless...
Milestones:
     The 400th U.S. soldier died Friday in Iraq.

Total Fatalities since May 1st "Mission Accomplished" speech: 263
US deaths since July 2nd "Bring Them On" speech: 197

Average Fatalities/Day, October: 1.45
Average Fatalities/Day, November: 4.27

Source: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

Friday, November 14, 2003
In addition to the 397 service members who have died and the 1,967 wounded, 6,861 troops were medically evacuated for non-combat conditions between March 19 and Oct. 30, the Army Surgeon General's office said.

That brings total casualties among all services to more than 9,200, and represents an increase of nearly 3,000 non-combat medical evacuations reported since the first week of October. The Army offered no immediate explanation for the increase. [more]


A grass roots movement to stop the wall, which is shaping up to be the defining anti-occupation movement for both Palestinians and foreigners.
Ashcroft washes blood from his hands.Chris Floyd returns with his weekly op-ed:
"There is a horrible scandal eating away the heart of the American body politic. Among the many corrupted currents loosed upon the nation by the Bush Regime, this scandal is perhaps the worst, for it abets all the others and breeds new pestilence, new perversions at every turn."
So what is this scandal? Is it sending people off to foreign lands where we know they will be tortured? Is it our own torture centers overseas? Is it the arbitrary designation of "an enemy combatant"?

No. It's us.



Gore Vidal carries Chris' idea further:
"But then, [Benjamin] Franklin said, it will fail, as all such constitutions have in the past, because of the essential corruption of the people. He pointed his finger at all the American people. And when the people become so corrupt, he said, we will find it is not a republic that they want but rather despotism — the only form of government suitable for such a people."
"This is no case of bad intelligence estimates or miscalculation. Based on his ideology, as articulated in his speech last week, Bush doesn't care how many lies he must tell or how much blood must be shed to impose the will of the U.S. in Iraq. For him, this is a holy war."
Thursday, November 13, 2003
An interesting post from Dave Pollard's blog that's well-worth reading and pondering. He argues that violence and its proximal causes are really responses to critical environmental stressors such as overpopulation.

From controlled animal experiments, there is evidence that extreme environmental stress (in this case overcrowding) does lead to a number of anti-social behaviors, including the following in rats (paraphrasing Pollard's summary):


1. a minority display aggressively dominant behavior
2. passive males avoid both fighting and sex
3. hyperactive subordinates rape females and eat or kill their offspring
4. pan sexual males engage in sexual intercourse with both males and females
5. some males withdraw sexually and socially and tend to be active only while others are asleep
6. females tend to react by acting absent-minded, keeping disorganized nests, and eating or neglecting their offspring


The main thrust to the above is that under excessively overcrowded conditions, animals will respond by engaging in various forms of abuse and neglect of offspring, social withdrawal, excessively aggressive behavior among the dominant members of the species, and what amounts to psychopathic behavior among a subset of subordinant members of the species. Animal species will also show a drop in fertility rates as the population density reaches saturation. Does this appear to describe today's human condition? Perhaps offer an explanation for much of the political and social violence that we are witnessing at interpersonal, national and international levels? I lean towards the answer "yes."

Here's the theoretical model Dave Pollard proposes:

a. Communities/species that are moderately out of ecological balance instinctively and temporarily reduce their population

b. Communities/species that are severely out of ecological balance reduce their population and also exhibit psychotic behaviours (violence, rape, cruelty, bullying, greed, depression, suicide, megalomania) that accelerate, and draw out the period of, population reduction

c. These two self-imposed population control mechanisms are Darwinian, helping to restore balance with the minimum amount of disruption to the rest of the ecosystem, and the mimumum extent of suffering

d. A combination of human technologies introduced in the last 30 millennia has defeated the effectiveness of these mechanisms, perpetuating and institutionalizing the psychotic, violent behaviour that has made modern human society dysfunctional, mentally disordered, and brutal


I think there's some real food for thought here. Worth pondering.
Margie Schoedinger, the woman who allegedly filed a lawsuit against George W. Bush in December 2002, claiming that she had been raped, has died of a gunshot wound to the head, registered officially as "suicide".

The allegations were serious: the law suit apparently filed against George W. Bush in the County Civil Court in Fort Bend County, Texas, on 2nd December 2002, claimed that George Bush, the former Governor or Texas and current President of the United States of America, had committed "individual sex crimes" against her and her husband.

Margie Schoedinger further stated that after the claim, she had been harassed, that her bank account had been interfered with, that she had been threatened and beaten. She claimed 1 million USD in actual damages plus 49 million USD in punitive damages and emotional stress caused by the alleged incidents. [more]
Jesus' General gets jiggy with Chocolate Clusterbomb and sticks up for Arnold.
David Neiwart of Orcinus reports in a long post on the implications of comments by conservative commentators that are becoming increasingly violent in tone:
"It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the conclusion that conservatives, subtly but unmistakably, are fomenting violence against liberals for the 2004 election. And if they succeed in doing so, America will be facing what has always been considered unthinkable here: a serious manifestation of fascism."
If you're interested in more of Dave's insights into the right wing and fascism, check out his "Rush, Newspeak, and fascism" PDF while you're there.
Meanwhile, back on the home front the Bush-Cheney gang and their energy industry cronies wreck the environment
Salon.com Technology | Dirty business
And the Democrats struggle to prevent a rightwing take-over of the judiciary
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2003/11/13/filibuster/print.html
Faced with growing public uneasiness over Iraq, Republican Party officials intend to change the terms of the political debate heading into next year's election by focusing on the "doctrine of preemption," portraying President Bush as a visionary acting to prevent future terrorist attacks on US soil despite the costs and casualties involved overseas.

The strategy will involve the dismissal of Democrats as the party of "protests, pessimism and political hate speech," Ed Gillespie, Republican National Committee chairman, wrote in a recent memo to party officials -- a move designed to shift attention toward Bush's broader foreign policy objectives rather than the accounts of bloodshed. Republicans hope to convince voters that Democrats are too indecisive and faint-hearted -- and perhaps unpatriotic -- to protect US interests, arguing that inaction during the Clinton years led to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. [more]
US multinational companies are "acutely worried" about the business consequences of Bush administration foreign policy, according to a new report from Control Risks, a UK-based international security consultancy.
Make no mistake: if big business bails on the "Bush doctrine," Dubya is in deep trouble come 2004...
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
There is such a thing as International Law. There are rules and obligations which it imposes on an occupying power. Certain minimal obligations towards letting an occupied population enjoy a certain minimal standard of living.There was a time when Israeli rule was more or less within this framework. Now it is totally broken. The only consideration, overriding everything else, is maintenance of the settlements, which are inherently
a violation of International Law.
--Avigdor Feldman, prominent Israeli attorney,at a Tel Aviv symposium, March 12, 2003
Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories

One thing we hear about here when talking about the Israeli Palestinian issue is that the Palestinian People refused Ehud Barak's generous offer for Peace. At Gush Shalom I have found a very revealing graphical representation that offers the facts and figures of this "generous" offer. Initially the Palestinians agreed to keep about 22% of their homeland, conceding the rest of Palestine to bring about Peace. Israel wished to keep 69 illegal Israeli settlements comprising another 10 percent of what was originally these peoples homeland. Explore the link to see just what the deal offered was.
There is plainly nothing just or generous about it, see for yourself. You be the judge.

This "Peace Plan" would leave the Palestinian people to live in what Hitler termed "Ghettos" , what were known in South Africa as Bantustans.
In the late 1970's, hoping to forestall the end of white rule, South Africa began to create "Bantustans." These were nominally "independent" homelands to which all of South Africa's blacks were eventually supposed to be transferred. The end result, so the apartheid rulers hoped, would be a strong white South Africa with few or no black citizens, surrounded by a constellation of poor, weak black states which it could easily control and exploit as a source of cheap labor.

The reality behind this further attempt by Israel to grab Palestinian lands will help you to understand the injustice the Palestinian people are suffering by not getting back the territory they held until 1967.

Moshe Dayan: "We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is a Jewish state here. In considerable areas of the country [the total area was about 6%] we bought the lands from the Arabs. Jewish Villages were built in place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist; not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahalal [Dayan's own village] arose in the place of Mahalal, Gevat-- in the place of Jibta, [Kibbutz] Sarid-- in the place of Haneifs and Kefar Yehoshua-- in the place of Tell Shaman. There is not one place in the country that did not have a former Arab population." [Ha`aretz, April 4 1969]

Quoted from"The Question of Palestine" by Edward Said


Water is a very important part of territorial dispute. According to the UN mandated borders (The Green Line) Israel controlled only 3% of the Jordan Basin area. Now Israel controls the majority of its water. Palestinians utilize only 0.5% of water from the Jordan. Israel controls 80% of Palestinian Aquifers of the Occupied Territories. There are approximately 215,000 Palestinians in 150 villages without piped in water. Only 23 new well permits have been allowed by Israeli military authorities since 1967.The "separation Wall" will further exacerbate Palestinian water woes:
At least 32 groundwater wells, with an approximate total discharge of 4 MCM/year, are expected to be affected by the construction of the Wall in this first phase alone, in addition to the consequences to the agricultural lands relying on these wells. In the cases of these wells, they are to be separated from the communities and farmers dependent on them by being placed on the western side of the wall, with the communities to the east. These groundwater wells are located in the Western Groundwater Basin and were drilled prior to 1967. As a result, Palestinians will loose nearly 18% of their share of the Western Groundwater Basin.

Losing 18% of what they are now allowed is drastic.
In the hot months Palestinians must use water saved in cisterns, while the settlers water allotment is upped the water to Palestinian towns is shut off to allow for this increase in consumption. Overall, Palestinians are allowed 70 liters per person per day, while the average Israeli uses 282 liters per day. USAID and the WHO recommend 100 liters as the bare minimum amount a people need per person for domestic as well as civic use( schools, etc).
Water is costly. The percentage of Palestinians that cannot afford their piped in water bills is reaching towards 100%. Settlers pay $.40 for their piped domestic water while Palestinians pay $1.20.
Many communities that depend on trucked in water cannot afford the cost; a cost that is rising due to negotiating checkpoints making for increased transportation times. Many of the trucks are having trouble actually accessing water.
The Israeli water company Mekerot has lessened the amount of water they supply to some communities, and stopped supplying others.
There is more to the picture than meets the eye when you get your news from the mainstream media. The Palestinian/Israeli issue is complex and warrants much exploration. Consider the issue in all its depth yourself, and the next time you here it reduced to a simplistic religious conflict give folks some insight, e-mail them some of the links I've shared. Knowledge is power, and the truth will out.
Resources: How the Wall will effect Palestinian ability to access water
Black Box Notes
On Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century
 


More on California's Diebold certification:
 
Wired News is out with two more articles on the California Diebold controversy. In "Suspect Code Used in State Votes" (11/6), Wired provides additional specifics on the "scandal". Meanwhile, efforts to determine exactly what software was changed and when continue.

In the late-breaking "E-Vote Firm's Bill Comes Due" (11/11), California has announced that it will not continue with the certification of Diebold voting machines until the company pays for an audit of all the company's voting machines used in the state. The halt in Diebold certification is causing problems for counties that have selected Diebold, but California election officials would "rather err on the side of inconvenience and delay."




 
Walden W. O'Dell, a longtime Republican, is a member of President Bush's "Rangers and Pioneers", an elite group of loyalists who have raised at least $100,000 each for the 2004 race. In mid-August, Walter sat down at his computer to compose a letter inviting 100 wealthy and politically inclined friends to a Republican Party fund-raiser, to be held at his home in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year," he wrote. Pretty typical stuff for a Republican fund raiser. Only one problem: Walter is also the CEO of Diebold, Inc., owner of Diebold Election Systems.

So starts this extensive New York Times article, which runs through a host of other problems Diebold has faced lately (the Hopkins/Rice study [239 KB, PDF], the FTP-software discovery, the leaked e-mails, and the Maryland/SAIC study (See "Did I say that?" below). Over all, a good "go to" article for anyone just getting into the Diebold e-vote issue.

 Other Diebold Election Systems in the News:



Did I say that?
 
Did I say that Maryland "got it" while Georgia didn't? Well, let me back off a little and say that Maryland got it better than Georgia did, but still doesn't quite get it.

Let me explain further my feelings on the Maryland Risk Assessment Report [Body (1.25 MB, PDF), Appendix B (response to the Hopkins/Rice study, 700 KB, PDF)]. While this was a good study in that it highlighted many important vulnerabilities, it missed two critical issues:

  1. It addressed security vulnerabilities as if Maryland election workers were honest. Now I am not suggesting that they are not, but it is a far more trivial problem to design and build a secure system when you assume employee honesty. It is much harder when you have to provide for the possibility of employee dishonesty. This is especially troublesome in voting systems because a large influx of temporary workers are hired only for a particular election.

  2. It failed to address the fact that this software simply shouldn't have all of these problems!. Let me explain. You're sitting in front of your computer. It's a pain in the ass. Software doesn't always work right. It crashes, sometimes with no apparent cause. But this is just what computers are like, right?

    No, they're not! If computers were like that, they never would have gotten this far. But it is apparent that the authors of this report think that they are, and that is simply a bad assumption. Here's the difference:

    • Your home computer: It runs on an operating system (O/S) that can run on many different computers. Each of those computers has a different set of input/output (I/O) devices attached, and more can be added or deleted per your needs. Your O/S will run thousands of different programs, each with different needs. It can run several dozen of these simultaneously (multi-tasking). It handles dozens of different communication protocols, some local (your printer, your DVD, etc.) and some remote (your home network, the internet, etc.) And all of this stuff goes on simultaneously. Pretty amazing. And consider also that you can buy one of these for less than $1,000, the O/S and your programs being a small fraction of that purchase price. And you wonder why your home computer is tempermental at times? Easy. You get what you pay for.

    • Now contrast that with a touch pad voting computer: First, hundreds and perhaps thousands of identical touch pads are purchased at a single time. Each of these runs at most four programs: Receive the ballot, record the vote, (perhaps) transmit the results, and (perhaps) run in test mode. And none of these run simultaneously. Communications protocols? Five: Run the display, accept input, read/write hard drive, read/write votes, and (perhaps) communicate externally. Compared to your home computer, this is a walk in the park. And the price tag? Millions of dollars. So why so many problems? There is only one answer to this: incompetence.

    Clearly, touchpad voting computers should not be suffering all sorts of problems. The application is easy (in computer terms) and the price is high. And yet they do.

    So here are the key points of this situation. Maryland's purchasers of these computers have expectations of them that are consistent with their own experience with their home computers. But the authors of this study are clearly "computer professionals". As such, they should have written this study from the perspective of their own experience and expectations, and not from the perspective of the experience and expectations of their client. But they did not. Why?

Which gets me back to my problem with Maryland. It seems that Republican Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has given the "go ahead" to purchase Diebold voting machines for the entire state. Now clearly, the SAIC study gives the him the room to do so in so far as one assumes it to be complete, but as I have pointed out, it clearly is not. What Maryland has in effect chosen to do then is allow Diebold's problems to become their own, and this is certainly no way to write a contract for computer products and services.
On a side note, no sooner than Ehrlich got done giving the go ahead on the state-wide Diebold installation than it was learned that Gilbert J. Genn, a well-known Annapolis lobbyist, represents two companies involved in the overhaul of the state's voting machine system. Mr. Genn, a former Montgomery County delegate, is registered as a lobbyist for Diebold Election Systems Inc., the company that has a $55 million contract to provide the state with its electronic voting system, and Science Applications International Corp., the computer security company the state recently hired to examine the Diebold voting machines for flaws. Ehrlich has ordered an investigation.

What a way to run an election. As the Washington Post, suggests, "Why leap?"




Louisiana Run-off this Saturday:
 
Louisiana's run-off for governor will be held this Saturday (11/15). (An interesting review of the candidates is here.) Voting machines in use there during this election:
  • Two parishes use 3,992 iVotronic voting machine by ES&S. (iVotronic machines were in use during the troublesome Miami-Dade County elections in 2002, although equipment quality is not believed to have been a source of those problems.)

  • Sixty-two parishes remain on an assortment of older manual voting machines (4,272 machines total).



Senator Harris?
 




Voting Without a Choice
"The point of elections is to test ideas and hold officials accountable. This process is short-circuited when like-minded voters are so concentrated in districts as to render the outcome a certainty. Lack of competition amplifies ideological differences and further polarizes U.S. politics, because Republican officeholders need not answer to Democratic constituents and Democratic officeholders can ignore Republican voters."
-- Washington Post Editorial, 11/7/2003
via BushWatch




Did you know that we've spent about $20 billion over the last 10 years or so to militarize our border with Mexico? And that doing so has had an effect exactly the opposite of the one that we expected? I didn't either. What amazes me more than any political position is the willingness to cling to that position even if its effect is exactly the opposite of the one hoped for. Hence the war on drugs, the war on immigrants, and to be fair, certain entitlement programs as well. If I could have one wish, it would be that our policy would be more focused on outcomes rather than ideology. Oh, and that people would realize that doing something that works (even if it runs counter to "common sense") is better than doing something because it feels like it should work.
14.5% of West Bank land, including much valuable farmland, will be annexed to Israel

274,000 Palestinians will be separated from the rest of the West Bank and their towns, farms, and families

400,000 additional Palestinians will be negatively impacted by the wall, including having their villages torn in two, their farmland confiscated, or their jobs and studies at risk

In other news, radical settlers destory Palestinian olive trees, Absurd life on the Fringes of the Wall, Israelis Losing Patience with Sharon

Links grabbed from Cursor.org
Conservative 2000 Now Available!


For immediate release.

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Feeling beset by limp-wristed liberals? Tired of running into situations where your worldview is challenged? Never fear, Conservative 2000 will deploy a barrage of talking points specially crafted by The Heritage Foundation. To keep the unit up to date, merely plug it into your cable or DirectTV outlet. The unit’s advanced sensors admit only Fox News and carefully selected pundit programming. (For best results, disable or eliminate C-Span from subscription packages.)

Take Conservative 2000 to parties and watch liberals scatter. For hours of entertainment, employ Moral Righteousness 3.0. One click on your remote control and Conservative 2000 kicks into overdrive, pretending to take the moral high ground while blocking undermining data at every turn.

For especially tenacious and/or judgement-impaired individuals, merely employ Conservative 2000’s Disablizer, a swift judo chop to your opponent’s larynx. Assault and battery? Not according to our trademark PublicMood research. However, should police be summoned by the weak, Conservative 2000’s Command&Control Affinity mode ensures law enforcement officers understand the dire nature of the liberal threat – guaranteeing your immunity to criminal justice!

Coming soon, Conservative 2000 upgrades: eyebeam lasers capable of detection and on-the-spot incineration of books by Al Franken, Paul Krugman, Molly Ivins, Michael Moore, Mark Crispin Miller, Todd Gitlin, Greg Palast, Naomi Klein, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Arianna Huffington.

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Liberal 2000 has stalled in development due to lack of funding, plus a debilitating and seemingly endless debate as to whether the words "confederate flag" should be a part of the programming. Look for it sometime in 2005, if we're lucky.

Conservative 2000 is a copyright of J&J Productions. Patent pending. For more information, call 1-800-000-0000. Industrial models available. Call for a fact sheet on prototype Dennis Miller 2002.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
With the Pentagon attempting to fill long-dormant draft boards, there is growing concern that compulsory military service is poised to make a comeback. Let's face it, the military is going to have a hard time recruiting when it's obvious that the psychotics, idealists, and psychotically idealistic figures running the show in the White House are hell-bent on committing US troops to an endless series of quagmires. In fact it appears that a large proportion of those currently serving in active duty, the reserves, and the National Guard are cutting out once they've done their time. Hence the return of the infrastructure necessary to make reinstating the draft an "attractive" option for our politicians. I'd say it'll be very attractive to the Bushies if Bush is selected to a second term, and they have the opportunity to continue their radical decimation of anything decent that the US might once have stood for.

What to do? Free your mind. Knowledge is power. Educate yourself about alternatives to violence. The COMD is a great place to start. Network. Check out other peace groups in your area or region. If you're a male of draft age learn what is involved in becoming a conscientious objector. Nonviolence.org, The War Resisters League , the CCCO, among others have resources available for preparing your case for conscientious objector status. And when in doubt, groove on a peaceful philosophical vibe. Personally, I'm partial to Taoism, and highly recommend checking out Lao Tsu's Tao Te Ching: pick a translation and dive in. Have a well-articulated philosophical position and act on it. Make some noise.
"Asked whether he would trade his $7 billion fortune to unseat Bush, Soros opened his mouth. Then he closed it. The proposal hung in the air: Would he become poor to beat Bush?"
Film-maker wins "Jenin, Jenin" battle

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli Arab film-maker has won a court battle to overturn an official ban on the showing in Israel of his documentary depicting an Israeli military offensive in Jenin refugee camp in April 2002.

"Jenin, Jenin" was banned by Israel's Film Ratings Board last December over what it called the work's "distorted presentation of events in the guise of democratic truth which could mislead the public".

The Supreme Court on Tuesday accepted an appeal from director Mohammed Bakri, who argued the board had violated freedom of speech laws and could not censor the film based on the panel's perception of the film's accuracy.

Bakri's film describes the Israeli raid to confront Palestinian militants in the West Bank camp through the eyes of its residents.
Monday, November 10, 2003
The Bush tax cuts are bleeding the states dry. Spending is not the culprit.
Treasury Department figures show that actual corporate income tax revenues fell to $132 billion in 2003, down 36 percent from $207 billion in 2000.
As a result of these low levels, corporate revenues in 2003 represented only 1.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (the basic measure of the size of the economy), the lowest level since 1983, the year in which corporate receipts plummeted to levels last seen in the 1930s.
Corporate revenues represented only 7.4 percent of all federal tax receipts in 2003. With the exception of 1983, this represents the lowest level on record (these data go back to 1934).

Do you want your kids to have a day cut out of the school week so rich folks can pay less taxes?
Here are some figures Jim Hightower points out:
67 percent would prefer to have more spending on such needs as education and health care than to have Bush's latest tax cut. (ABC/Washington Post).
By a two to one margin, the public thinks that Bush's tax plan will benefit the wealthy, not all Americans (NBC/Wall Street Journal).
If there's to be a tax cut, 58 percent think it should be targeted to middle-income and low-income folks, while 40 percent think taxes should be cut equally for all income brackets -- I'm not great at math, but I think that leaves only 2 percent thinking it's a good idea to target tax cuts for the rich, as Bush is doing (Pew Research Center).
Instead of federal funds being given away as tax cuts, 74 percent prefer that the money be used to stabilize Social Security (FOX News).

Please read the above links.
This is "class war". Those who can buy politicians can dictate policy, while the majority of America gets screwed.
The pretender in the White House increased the "acceptable" amount of arsenic in our drinking water for his corporate funders as one of his first moves in office. He has moved to take away overtime pay for many of us.
See what our troops have to say about the conditions our AWOL pResident has subjected them to. He does not even honor them in death.
Are we a people ready to get off our asses, put our bodies on the line for Democracy? For a livable world for our children?
Our Presidency and our country were stolen on a cold night in November 2000. We watched TV, let it happen.
Share all you learn.
St. Reagan's Song
I'm a bit late commenting on the CBS Ronald Reagan brouhaha. But I hope my latest song parody will help make up for it.

St. Reagan's Song (sing to Just You Wait from My Fair Lady.)

He's a saint, Ronald Reagan, he's a saint!
You'll be sorry if you dare to say, he ain't.
A fine bloke who's kind and cunning,
Beat the Russians, great with money.
He's a saint, Ronald Reagan, he's a saint!

Reagan's great, scream the wingnuts. Stop that flick!
Don't you dare disparage Reagan. They'll be ticked!
The rest of my song parody is here with a sing-along midi link.


Fearful women and children are bound by US soldiers in this picture dated November 10, 2003.
Grid blogging (an invitation)

I've been thinking of ways of developing distributed collaborative projects and came up with a simple concept and a name: grid blogging - which I imagine as being a group of bloggers tackling a specific topic on a specific day/time.

Here's a mini-manifesto of sorts:

"Grid blogging aims to investigate the potentials of a distributed media production model spread across blogosphere nodes. It seeks to ignite attention on specific topics at set times through variegated voices. A kind of decentralised flash mobbing for the mind, if you like.

Decentralisation is key here. Unlike single collaborative blogging structures that unite discussions under the same URL, Grid blogging is about synchronized guerrilla publishing attacks carried out across a series of online locations. It respects and heightens the individual voice within a media-wise choir. It allows for idea-jamming and mosaics of diverse perspectives to emerge unfettered.

Temporary in nature, the first grid blog is set to happen on December 1. The topic is the "brand". Interpret it as you like, from the comfort of your own blog. As critique, as recollection, as original content, as link-fest or visual interpretation. Whatever. Join in and help us discover where we can lead this dance."

Thought my fellow harbingers and readers of American Samizdat might be interested in this kind of experiment... More here.
Sunday, November 09, 2003

She said she was grateful to the American special forces team which rescued her but, asked whether the Pentagon's subsequent portrayal of her rescue bothered her, she said: "Yes, it does. They used me as a way to symbolise all this stuff. It's wrong."
The Mind of the Administration
The Boston Globe has been running an occasional series of articles called "The Mind of the Administration" featuing profiles of key intellectuals that have or are influencing the political thinking and strategies of the New Right. These are not your ordinary everyday political types. These folks are straight from the halls of acadamia. Interesting stuff.
  1. The philosopher: The late Leo Strauss has emerged as the thinker of the moment in Washington, but his ideas remain mysterious. Was he an ardent opponent of tyranny, or an apologist for the abuse of power? By Jeet Heer, 5/11/2003
  2. The analyst: Strategy guru Albert Wohlstetter spent decades arguing for military flexibility and precision targeting. But have his Washington disciples learned his real lessons? By Neil Swidey, Globe Staff, 5/18/2003
  3. The farmer: Classicist and raisin-grower Victor Davis Hanson argues that the USA needs a dose of ancient Greece's warrior culture. White House hawks are listening. By Laura Secor, Globe Staff, 5/25/2003
  4. The hard-liner: Harvard historian Richard Pipes shaped the Reagan administration's aggressive approach to the Soviet Union. His support for confrontation over containment prefigured the Bush foreign policy of today. By Sam Tanenhaus, 11/2/2003
Google searches:
Leo Strauss,Albert Wohlstetter,Victor Davis Hanson,Richard Pipes.

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