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Lets's talk about democracy
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Thursday, 17 June 2004
Grover Norquist: The enigma
It truly is springtime for Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) a group that has been in the forefront of the libertarian goal of de-funding the U.S. government. Finally, thanks to ATR's fellow travelers in the White House, his objective has almost been achieved. The baby is drowning in the bathtub and the beast is starving, to paraphrase Norquist's many colorful metaphors for the federal government's impending bankruptcy, and the cotton (And the deficit) is high.

As if that great accomplishment weren't enough, another of his non-profits "The Reagan Legacy Project," (RRLP) which according to its web site, "is dedicated to promoting the legacy of President Ronald Reagan's leadership by working toward one significant monument named after him in each of America's 50 states, as well as some dedication in every county in America," has finally got the country's attention.

After a full week of the mainstream media lauding the accomplishment's of the dearly departed "great communicator" in a wall to wall, around the clock, cult of personality extravaganza even Joseph Stalin would be embarrassed by; Grover is all over the news, plugging his idea of getting Alexander Hamilton off the $10 bill. CNN reports, "Norquist... has already had discussions with treasury secretary John Snow and senior White House staff about the idea, and found no opposition." Ground breaking for the Reagan memorial on the National Mall, a long time dream, surely can't be far behind.

Dark Clouds on the horizon

But all may not be well in Groverland. Franklin Foer an associate editor at The National Review, has quoted one former intelligence official saying CIA and FBI counter-terrorism agents are "pissed as hell about Grover," because of his connections to some dubious characters associated with terrorists who have over a period of years gained access to the White House through his cozy relationship with the Bush administration.

In 1998 Norquist was the founding chairman of the Free Market Institute, better known as the Islamic Institute, an organization that promoted conservative core values to Arab-Americans and then sought to sign them up as Republicans. Because he saw their conservative religious values as a possible vote getter, (He has claimed "American Muslims look like members of the Christian Coalition.") he touted them to Karl Rove his old school buddy, who was very receptive, as then Texas Governor Bush's political adviser.

When Bush got into office Norquist had an "in." Paul Weyrich, a long time republican activist, has said "just like [administration officials] ask my advice on inviting religious figures to the White House; they rely on Grover's help [with Muslims]."

Questionable judgment

No one is accusing Norquist of aiding terrorists, of course, but you really have to question his judgment. David Horowitz, the well-known right-winger, wrote in a damning essay about this undue influence with the Bush people, that the "exposure" of some of his acquaintances "as agents of terrorism" has not "resulted in noticeable second thoughts on Grover's part or any meaningful effort to dissociate himself from his unsavory friends."

The Washington Post reports Abdurahman Alamoudi one of those "unsavory friends," a prominent leader of Northern Virginia's Muslim community, that worked closely with Norquist and provided seed money for the Institute, is currently sitting in a federal prison after being arrested in 2003 on charges of "money laundering, fraud and illegal travel in his relationships with the government of Moammar Qaddafi."

On June 11th the Post broke the story that Alamoudi was involved in a plot to assassinate Crown Prince Abd Allah of Saudi Arabia at the behest of Qaddafi.

Conservative backlash

Frank J.Gaffney Jr., a former senior Reagan Defense Department official and now President of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, has been very critical of Grover's efforts in promoting and defending his Muslim friends and is now in the middle of a very nasty dispute with his former comrade in arms.

Gaffney has been "uninvited" from the 115 member "Wednesday Group" a conservative get together, because as Grover says "there is no room for bigotry in the movement." He also asserted that Gaffeny was "rude to Muslims and made faces at them" at their meetings.

The great crime Mr. Gaffney committed was authoring an incendiary denunciation of Norquist's associates saying, "The growing influence of this operation -[The Islamic Institute] and the larger Islamist enterprise principally funded by Saudia Arabia - has created a strategic vulnerability for the nation, and a political liability for its President."

The enigma

Bizarrely, part of the reason the right wing are up in arms against Norquist is due to his undying opposition to the Patriot Act. He is a regular at People For the American Way rallies, and his work against government racial profiling and secret evidence goes back to the Clinton administration.

On September 11th 2001 a group of Muslim leaders were to meet president Bush at the White House to express displeasure on the contentious issue, but instead wound up meeting at Norquist's offices after they were turned away, for obvious reasons.

Mixed feelings

Despite his doubtless noble intentions regarding the preservation of our constitutional republic, I remember the first time that I ever heard of Grover Norquist in the late nineties. I was listening to NPR's Diane Rehm show and the subject of discussion was his advocacy of building a monument to the still living Ronald Reagan on the National Mall. I, the callers and the e-mailers were beside themselves.

One caller had the audacity to question Norquist's background and funding, at which point he went ballistic. He accused Diane Rehm's audience of being all liberals and refused to answer any more questions.

Now I see why. Why doesn't the Bush administration?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:37 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 June 2004 4:43 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 16 June 2004

Mood:  surprised
In September, Dick Cheney asserted that Iraq had been "the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."

---That's the one even Bush had to admit wasn't true.

Vice President Dick Cheney said once again in a speech this Monday in Florida that Iraq: "had long-established ties with al Qaeda."

And now, guess what?

"President Bush repeated his administration's claim that Iraq was in league with al Qaeda under Saddam Hussein's rule, saying Tuesday that fugitive Islamic militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi ties Saddam to the terrorist network."

But wasn't that AFTER we invaded? The fact that the guy is there now because of us doesn't mean it was right to go in before he was there. Right? Even I'm getting confused.

Well, the 9/11 commission will explain us for us...

Probe rules out Iraq-9/11 links

The commission investigating the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US has found no "credible evidence" that Iraq helped al-Qaeda carry them out.

The statement was published before the bipartisan commission began the final two-day public session.

It contradicts Monday's remarks by the US vice-president about Saddam Hussein "long-established ties" with al-Qaeda.

Iraq's alleged links with al-Qaeda were part of the justification the Bush administration gave for invading Iraq.

We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda co-operated on attacks against the United States
Commission statement said.

The 11 September attacks killed nearly 3,000 people after members of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network flew hijacked planes into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

A final report on the commission's findings is due on 28 July.

But preliminary statements published by the commission on a range of issues are building up into a complex picture of missed opportunities and some of it does not make pleasant reading for the Bush administration, says BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus.

Bin Laden spurned

The statement entitled Overview of the Enemy has been prepared by commission staff and contains "initial findings to present to the public on the nature of the enemy that carried out the 11 September attacks".

Outlining the roots of al-Qaeda and its activities, it said Osama Bin Laden had explored the possibility of co-operation with Iraq, despite his opposition to Saddam Hussein's secular regime.

It said a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Bin Laden in 1994 to hear his requests for space to establish training camps and assistance in procuring weapons.

"There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda also occurred after Bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship," the statement says.

It adds: "Two senior Bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al-Qaeda and Iraq.

"We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda co-operated on attacks against the United States."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:32 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 16 June 2004 3:08 PM EDT
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Monday, 14 June 2004
US bulldozer firm in Mid-East row
From the BBC Online----

A leading UN official has warned US manufacturer Caterpillar that it may be complicit in human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza.
The company supplies armoured bulldozers to the Israeli army that are used to demolish Palestinian homes.

Human rights official Jean Ziegler expressed "deep concern" over the sales, in a letter to Caterpillar.

The company says it shares world concern over the Middle East but it cannot police the use of its equipment.

Human rights groups estimate that around 3,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished since 2000.

Israel says the demolitions are necessary on security grounds.

'Rights Violations'

Mr Ziegler is the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights' Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

In his letter, he described destruction by the bulldozers of "agricultural farms, greenhouses and ancient olive groves".

Caterpillar's actions in supplying the D-9 and D-10 bulldozers mean they may be complicit in violating the right to food, Mr Ziegler said.

Over 50% of Palestinians are already largely dependent on food aid.

Human lives had also been lost during the demolitions, Ziegler wrote, including that of American peace activist Rachel Corrie.

The company's role in supplying Israel has also been recently criticised by human rights group Amnesty International.

In an April report on Palestinian home demolitions, they called on Caterpillar to "guarantee that its bulldozers are not used to commit human rights violations".


Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:10 PM EDT
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Thursday, 10 June 2004
Yeah, right.

It's amazing how they keep screwing up and no one is responsible. Have no fear, they didn't mean it. Any one who gets caught robbing a 7-11 this is the excuse to use...

WASHINGTON - The State Department acknowledged Thursday it was wrong in reporting terrorism declined worldwide last year, a finding used to boost one of President Bush's chief foreign policy claims -- success in countering terror.

Instead, both the number of incidents and the toll in victims increased sharply, the department said. Statements by senior administration officials claiming success were based "on the facts as we had them at the time. The facts that we had were wrong," department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

The April report said attacks had declined last year to 190, down from 198 in 2002 and 346 in 2001. The 2003 figure would have been the lowest level in 34 years and a 45 percent drop since 2001, Bush's first year as president. The department is now working to determine the correct figures.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, who had challenged the findings, said he was pleased that officials "have now recognized that they have a report that has been inaccurate, and based on the inaccurate information they tried to take self-serving political credit for the results that were wrong."

Among the mistakes, Boucher said, was that only part of 2003 was taken into account.

Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) said Thursday the errors were partly the result of new data collection procedures. "I can assure you it had nothing to do with putting out anything but the most honest, accurate information we can," he said.


Posted by bushmeister0 at 10:18 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 10 June 2004 10:23 PM EDT
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Monday, 7 June 2004
Military says it will consider call-up appeals
Lawmakers side with veterans after the Army concedes an enlistment deadline was in error

Thursday, May 20, 2004

SALEM -- Federal lawmakers Wednesday joined angry U.S. Army veterans in Oregon and other states who want their recent decisions to join active Army Reserve or National Guard units rescinded because they were based on mistaken information put out by recruiters.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio called on the Pentagon to correct the mistake that resulted in large numbers of Army veterans choosing a new assignment in active Guard and Reserve units.

"Faulty orders were sent out by the Army, which told people in the Individual Ready Reserves that if they did not re-enlist soon, the military would do so for them," DeFazio, D-Ore., said in Washington, D.C. "I would ask that these enlistments, which were made under a faulty order, be rescinded by the secretary of defense."

Meanwhile, the staff of Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, ranking Democrat on the personnel subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Army officials agreed Wednesday to establish an appeal procedure for any soldier in the ready reserve who signed up for service based on false information.

Inactive reservists who feel they were pressured to join active Guard or Army Reserve units should call state retention and transition offices, a staff memo said. In Oregon and Washington, that phone number is 800-347-2734, ext. 1, the memo said.

The miscommunication started last week when soldiers in the ready reserve began receiving e-mails and phone calls from military recruiters who told them they had until May 17 to leave their inactive status and sign up for Reserve or Guard units. Otherwise, the Army would make the choice for them, recruiters said.

Soldiers who have fulfilled their regular service commitment go on ready reserve. They are on inactive status in the ready reserve for as long as four years. They can be called back to active duty during that time. About 118,000 reservists are on inactive status nationwide.

In some cases, soldiers said, recruiters raised a potential rotation to Iraq as a reason to sign up for Guard units before the deadline.
Army officials this week told The Oregonian that the deadline was a mistake.


Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:25 AM EDT
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Further musings on "A Life:" The Reagan musings...

Being a resident of the capital city, soon to be renamed "Reagan," I offer my humble and worthless tribute to the Demi-God:

I would like to propose, in light of the death of the greatest American ever to live; the one man who saved us from the Martians and the Russians; the "Ronald Reagan National Airport," be renamed the "Ronald Reagan/Ronald Reagan National Reagan Airport."

In order to show the proper respect for the magnitude of the MAN; the size of the letters would have to be increased to perhaps 6 ft. in front of the airport.

Naturally, the Metro signs would have to reflect the change. And there will be no fooling around this time. It might be necessary to build another station adjacent to the present one to accommodate the size of the letters that would be required.

All Metro stations, in fact, might need to be renamed "Ronald Reagan/Ronald Reagan Memorial Station# 1, 2, 3, " etc., in order to avoid confusion as the letters on each Metro map and guide post would have to be increased substantially to fit the achievements of the GIPPER.

The Lincoln memorial and the Washington memorial might also need a face-lift to show proper respect for the GREAT UNDERGROUND NUCLEAR TESTER, but I'll leave that to Grover Norguist.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:49 AM EDT
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Sunday, 6 June 2004
Ronald Wilson Reagan: A loving tribute....
Today as the world and the universe mourn the passage of a visonary, some might even say a giant, we must remember, as much as we may want to laud him to the heavens, he was but a man. (A big, big man.)

It was Ronald Wilson Reagan who had the insight to love his fellow man by saying simply, "all human beings" are "citizens of the world...in our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity." How very true.

When he said, "we're not building missiles to fight a war, we're building missiles to preserve the peace," he believed it and so should you. Indeed, what would be a more fitting epitaph for a great president, beloved by his people and the entire world?

Who had the courage and foresight to wonder aloud, as he did in September of 1987, "what if all of us in the world discovered that we were threatened by an outer - a power from outer space, from another planet... wouldn't we come together to fight that particular threat?"

By uttering the unvarnished truth in his plain-spoken, man of the people sort of way, he Ronald Wilson Reagan, made a profound impression on his Russian counterpart Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev who said of the fearless champion of freedom, "at our meeting in Geneva, the U.S. President said that if the earth faced an invasion by extraterrestrials, the United States and the Soviet Union would join forces to repel such an invasion. I shall not dispute the hypothesis..."

Later, Ronald Wilson Reagan said of his pal "Gorbi," in a conciliatory gesture, "I think there is too much anti-Soviet preaching. I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." Tears come to my eyes every time I think of it!

In the end, though, he was a mega-giant, a statesmen; a plainspoken man who hated trees. "A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?" When he said, "trees cause more pollution than automobiles do," his statement was denounced as nonsense by a group, now almost entirely extinct due to his omnificent correctness, called "liberals."

Pity them, for now we all know he was right.

As the current president, the lovely product of HIS vice-president's loins George "W" Bush has taught us; trees also cause fires and through his "healthy forest initiative" we're putting an end to that by cutting them all down.

In the final analysis, we, the world, the solar system, have lost a leader for the ages, a tireless fighter for human rights that are continually at risk from the onslaught of extraterrestrial attack.

One last time... in HIS own words; "Well, I guess we can wait for some alien race to come down and threaten us.

"...is not an alien force already among us?"

Posted by bushmeister0 at 10:56 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 7 June 2004 1:25 AM EDT
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Saturday, 5 June 2004
A few thoughts on our good friends the Saudis...
In case any further evidence were needed that the security situation in Saudi Arabia is tenuous at best, the recent terrorist attacks in Khobar which killed 22 foreign workers, proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Saudi authorities are either unable or unwilling to prevent Al-Quaeda acting with impunity where ever and whenever it pleases within the oil rich kingdom.

Dubious claims of a serious crack down on militants and the announcements of mass arrests, (No doubt, being conducted by Claude Rains.) fly in the face of the massive incompetence demonstrated by the botched hostage rescue attempted by Saudi commandos, in which three of the four attackers were allowed to escape.

As serious as the Khobar incident was, the danger keeping national security officials up at night must be the very real possibility of a successful strike on a major refinery. The possible effects of such a disaster could bring every oil-addicted nation to its knees, send the world economy into chaos, and hasten the collapse of the Saudi regime.

Regardless of the lip service paid to the efforts of the Saudis to deal with their internal insurgency, the fear of such a scenario must have played a crucial role in the Bush administration's decision-making prior to the invasion of Iraq.

Already known to have the second largest supply of oil in the world; the largely unexplored western deserts of Iraq are estimated to contain a supply of crude that equals, if not exceeds, Saudi Arabia's known reserves.

Possessing an oil rich aircraft carrier in the heart of the Middle East is an important hedge against a sudden cutoff of the Saudi spigot. Contrary to the president's daily protestations, the prospect of a truly "sovereign" Iraq anytime soon appears highly unlikely.

[Okay, I swear I didn't see this before I wrote the piece:
"Saudi stability once seemed a relatively safe bet; now analysts are questioning the security of the kingdom's oil facilities and the tight grip of its ruling family. From today's L.A. Times.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 8:17 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 5 June 2004 9:29 PM EDT
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Friday, 4 June 2004
Some thoughts on George Tenet and Ahmad Chalabi
The surprising resignation of CIA director George Tenet makes one wonder if the latest mess Ahmad Chalabi (A.K.A. Ali Baba) has got us into wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back.

Surely, Mr. Tenet must know by now, what most professionals in the CIA knew all along, that Chalabi was a charlatan and a crook.

The intelligence on the Iraqi WMD, helpfully provided by Chalabi and the forty thieves, was according to Tenet a "slam dunk." When the infamous "16 words" in the president's State of the Union address were found to be lies, Tenet had to fall on his sword to protect the president and Condoleezza Rice.

It's too bad a good man has had to pay, again and again, for the incredibly bad decisions of a few knuckle-heads in the pentagon, those "U.S. officials who championed Chalabi in the first place;" such as, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle.

So, what about their credibility now? They never had any credibility, that's the point. They didn't need to.

What they did have was an ideological fervor that dovetailed well with the world-view of the vice-president; who carefully managed to deflect any information that might raise questions about the wisdom of invading Iraq from the president; who, after all, didn't really deal well with doubt to begin with.

Chalabi told them just they wanted to hear and now he's doing the same for the Iranians. Ultimately, it will be our troops who pay the price for the shamefull gullibility of their civilian leadership.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:56 PM EDT
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Monday, 17 May 2004
Powell strikes again. ( Que twilight zone music)
Secretary of State Colin Powell on Meet the Press Sunday May 16 2004:

Russart: Finally, Mr. Secretary, in February of 2003, you placed your enormous personal credibility before the United Nations and laid out a case against Saddam Hussein citing...

Powell: Not off.

Emily: No. They can't use it. They're editing it. They (unintelligible).

Powell: He's still asking me questions. Tim.

Emily: He was not...

Powell: Tim, I'm sorry, I lost you.

Russert: I'm right here, Mr. Secretary. I would hope they would put you back on camera. I don't know who did that.

Powell: We really...

Russert: I think that was one of your staff, Mr. Secretary. I don't think that's appropriate.

Powell: Emily, get out of the way.

Emily: OK.

Powell: Bring the camera back, please. I think we're back on, Tim. Go ahead with your last question.

[Doo doo doo, doo doo doo...]

Russert: Thank you very much, sir. In February of 2003, you put your enormous personal reputation on the line before the United Nations and said that you had solid sources for the case against Saddam Hussein. It now appears that an agent called Curveball had misled the CIA by suggesting that Saddam had trucks and trains that were delivering biological and chemical weapons. How concerned are you that some of the information you shared with the world is now inaccurate and discredited?

Powell: I'm very concerned. When I made that presentation in February 2003, it was based on the best information that the Central Intelligence Agency made available to me. We studied it carefully; we looked at the sourcing in the case of the mobile trucks and trains. There was multiple sourcing for that. Unfortunately, that multiple sourcing over time has turned out to be not accurate. And so I'm deeply disappointed. But I'm also comfortable that at the time that I made the presentation, it reflected the collective judgment, the sound judgment of the intelligence community. But it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that, I am disappointed and I regret it.


Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:39 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 17 May 2004 12:42 AM EDT
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