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  Thursday   November 4   2004

election 2004

The pointing of fingers has begun. We need to be more like the religous right or we need to ignore them. I don't know the answer but this country has a big problem. I'ts split into two.

  thanks to Angry Bear

There is a book that talks about this divide...

The Great Divide
Retro vs. Metro America

This groundbreaking book explains why our nation is so bitterly divided into what the authors call Retro and Metro America. With hundreds of informative full-color maps, charts, and graphs, dramatic editorial and historical photography, incisive political cartoons and illustrations, this book acts as a blueprint for the reform of the Democratic party.


Whether the author's solution to rebuilding the Democratic Party makes sense or will work, I don't know. However, they do a very good job of describing the problem. Two Americas at odds with each other. The Civil War continues.

Laura Rozen feels the same way. She quoted from a Tom Friedman editorial and added her agreement...

Tom Friedman on Two Nations:

But what troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies than I do - they favor a whole different kind of America. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.

Is it a country that does not intrude into people's sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn't trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us - instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?

I share Friedman's question. I've talked to a couple of "the wider war" Republicans in the past few days who insist Bush has no intentions to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade because a majority of Americans oppose overturning it. But all the evidence I see from the past two days leads me to wonder how it would be possible to get through the next four years without Roe v. Wade being overturned. Bush owes this election to the Christian evangelicals and that is surely one of their key values.

Two nations and under this leader, seeing how we can live together is shrinking. There are those of us who believe in real individual freedoms, and those who believe in imposing their religious beliefs on others.


Still Missing the Big Picture About This Election

This is not about Republicans or Democrats.
This is not about the war.
This is not about the economy.
This is not even about counting the votes.

This is the final step in the 20-year creeping coup by the theocrats, the Dominionists.

In the House and the Senate, the theocrats made dramatic advances, far beyond the number of seats that switched parties. On the GOP side, they have replaced moderates with zealots, and have significantly strengthened the support for the main theocrat bills that will be reintroduced in the new Congress.

You can hear it in the media's codewords: this election did NOT turn on Iraq or the economy or security, it turned on "moral values", the politically correct code-word for theocratic values, i.e., placing one's religion above the laws of man. Exit polls show that "moral values" were the most common #1 concern among voters, and that among those who marked "moral values" as their primary concern, 80% voted for Bush. Every state that had a same-sex marriage ban up for decision voted the theocrat way.

I warned before the election that they were one victory away, and that they would win no matter what the actual vote was, because they are zealots who would do anything to win, including fraud on a massive scale that folks here just don't want to even concieve, because they have never looked radical religious extremism in the face the way I have, having lived in Israel for 13 years in the past.

The theocrats will not be stopped, because Americans refuse to believe that it could happen here.

It is just like Germany in the 20's---not like McCarthyism in the 50's. This is far worse, but denial is rampant, because we just don't want to believe that our America could fall to Christian Taliban.

We've already reached the tipping point. It is only a matter of time, unless people wake up--and I don't think they will, the taboo on confronting the dark side of religion is just too strong here in America.

What about Ohio, you say?

The judges deciding matters in Ohio, like the two judges that allowed challenges inside the polling places, are theocrats - one was the author of the original draft of the Thornburgh brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe V. Wade, the other was the dissenting voice in cases about 10 Commandment displays on government property.

You think it is a coincidence that Ohio is the first place where statewide, the teaching of creationism has been mandated in science class?

Wake up, America!

Thus, the election is already over, even though I personally think that Kerry won, not only Ohio, but states like Florida, and may even have won the popular vote, so deep is the fraud, led by the electronic voting machines--not just those people actually use to vote, but far more significantly those used to tally the votes, carefully placed in key districts, carefully managed behind the scenes, vote totals manipulated with no way for an audit or verification.

But, unless you understand who is actually behind this election victory, you probably dismiss that as hysterical tin-foil paranoia. Surely, you think, the margins in places like Florida are beyond contesting.

That is because you still think this is just a struggle between two competing parties in a democracy. That is because you just don't get it.

This was a coup.


Aron sees a parallel with Israel..

In general, I try to keep the focus of this blog on the Israel/Palestine conflict. There are plenty of excellent general lefty blogs around. But I often see parallels in the United States to what went on in Israel. There too, a rise in mystical blood-thirsty fundamentalism, moved Israel away from democratic values. There too, the Labor party decided to become a Likud-lite, instead of sticking to the socialist-progressive values upon which the party was founded. And the more the Labor party pandered to the "center," the less relevant it became. Why vote for Likud-lite if you can vote for the real thing?

Post Kerry's defeat there are already voices in the Democratic party that argue that they need to come to terms with evangelical values. There are voices saying the Democrats need to project an even more militaristic image than Kerry did. But I agree with Vijay Prashad in this article. "It is time to throw off our forbearance and open a direct debate on the suppression of rational argument in favor of theocratic bigotry."


Vijay Prashad's article...

The Election Of Homophobia And Misogyny
It Is Time To Confront Theocratic Bigotry Head On

The Faith-Based initiatives, the ban on "partial-birth" abortions, the position against gay marriage, the refusal to fund stem-cell research, the "crusade" against Islam and Bush's personal story of transformation and forgiveness appealed to a population that is piously fundamentalist. Without meaningful work, with relatives and friends on the battlefield, with more and more corporations in domination over their lives, people who turn to Bush and to Evangelicalism do so for stability and order. As everything falls apart, belief provides organizations and institutions, and ideological stability. Religious organization offers the soul of soulless conditions.

Progressives are loath to offer a frontal criticism of the theocracy that has overtaken the South and the Midwest -- where under the command of tolerance we have to endure the intolerance toward women and their bodies, toward gays and lesbians, towards anyone who does not fit the compass of the "moral values" mass-produced by the established churches. It is time to throw off our forbearance and open a direct debate on the suppression of rational argument in favor of theocratic bigotry.

Homophobia elected Bush.

Misogyny elected Bush.

Unreason elected Bush.


And then there is the fascist element...

Heal this
by David Neiwert

Well, that didn't take long. I figured it was only a matter of time before the conservative façade of civility crumbled, but this time it came off faster than the pancake on a ten-dollar hooker.

Bill Bennett, that paragon of moral virtue, was the first to explain that "national healing" is just another word for "culture war":

Having restored decency to the White House, President Bush now has a mandate to affect policy that will promote a more decent society, through both politics and law. His supporters want that, and have given him a mandate in their popular and electoral votes to see to it. Now is the time to begin our long, national cultural renewal ("The Great Relearning," as novelist Tom Wolfe calls it) -- no less in legislation than in federal court appointments. It is, after all, the main reason George W. Bush was reelected.

Just when I got done saying that one of the important things that distinguishes movement conservatism from genuine fascism was the lack of any major push for national renewal and purification … jeez.

Well, let's face it: Republicans have a history of taking a peculiar view of bipartisanship anyway. All this talk about comity and national healing and getting along sounds great, but I'm not buying.

Not when we just got through a campaign where conservatives were openly wishing death on their opponent and arguing against allowing him to take office, even if he won the election. Not when their fellow conservatives looked on and said nothing.


Joanna Guldi on the Ugly Morning

The beast of history is in. Lovers in each others’ arms, wake up and look. Poets and anarchists, put down your pens. Stop all the clocks, put down the indy rock music, stop reading psychology. Move to Vancouver or Paris maybe, where it would still be possible to continue thinking that history had not happened.

For everything has changed where we live. Get a degree in political science or economics and rejoin the fight in another incarnation. Because whatever we were doing isn’t working, and the deadline is past. If there were a practical way to build something out of what has happened, we’d turn to that, but the moderate conservatives have already been exiled from Washington, and none of our friends will have influence for a long time yet. What has happened is too big for us, too big for our loose ideas of a hundred-year-plan for peace and happiness. There is no more road by which to get there: the storm of the last four years has swept it away, and the wind in the street last night blew out our last bridge to safety.

All day long I had been praying, calming myself with old psalms about how the universe was all one, how God had made it, all of its corners and controversies, how providence would follow us all the way through the shadow of darkness. When I woke up this morning the only psalm I could remember was this one: Lord teach my fingers to make battle, and my hands to make war


Steve Gilliard sees some hope...

To our European friends

So Europeans should not be so quick to condemn Americans for supporting Bush. They didn't do so because they want unending war, although too many believe in a movie version of the world, where John Wayne makes everything right. They did so for purely domestic reasons, economic fear expressed as social outrage. I think Europeans will be surprised at how quickly Americans turn on Bush's war as soon as they realize we are losing. We are not there yet, and the war is unpopular now. It will not grow more popular, especially after the elections either don't happen or fall apart. And it's not as if Kerry could have avoided disaster in Iraq either. Iraq will be our Algeria, but we are not there yet. Unfortunately, we will get there.

Remember, before you chide Americans for supporting the war, remember, the Paras almost seized the French government to keep their war going. If the 82nd ABN drops on Washington, it won't be for more war in Iraq. All countries have national bouts of madness and mistakes. Nixon was reelected after Watergate.

Earlier I said this was like 1997. I was wrong, this was like the 1992 British elections, except the problem wasn't weak opposition leadership. We've set the stage to realign American politics, if we work at it. We fell short, but just short.

I think some Americans will need a sharp slap in the head to understand how flawed Bush is. I think they will need to see why we must be better citizens of the world. Bush played to our selfish and weak side and won. Now we will find out why that was a mistake. Many Americans feel just as cheated and chargrined as you do, but in the end, it came down to a few districts in rural Ohio and they believed in Bush and embraced their fears.

Now we all have to live with the results.


I'm not sure I share Steve's optimism. I'll try but it's not comfortable sharing a country with people who don't believe I should be a citizen of this country because I don't believe in God.

 02:53 PM - link


Donata Wenders


  thanks to Conscientious

 11:54 AM - link


The focus is on Fallujah and the upcoming attempt to take it back. The ramifications of this are huge. I'm not sure they can take it back. They failed once before. If they do take it back there won't be much left of it. Vietnam all over again. "We destroyed the village to save it." The ramifications are also personal. My son-in-law has been in Ramadi. Three days ago he was flown to Fallujah. He is Army communications supporting the Marines.

Some Terrorists...
by Riverbend

The sky has been overcast these last few days. It’s a smoggy, grayish combination of dust, smoke and humidity. I guess it has matched the general mood in many ways- somewhat dark and heavy.

I’ve been very worried about Falloojeh. So worried, in fact, that I find it hard to sleep at night, wondering how the situation will unfold in that troubled area. Things are bad in Baghdad, but they are far worse in Falloojeh. Refugees have been flowing out of the area for weeks now. They’ve been trying to find havens in Baghdad and the surrounding regions.

I met my first Falloojeh refugees last week. One of my aunts was feeling a little bit under the weather and the phones in her area were down, so we decided to pay a brief visit after breaking the fast in the evening. As we pulled our car into her driveway, I discerned strange, childish voices in the garden. Since my aunt has only an eight-year-old daughter, S., I assumed the neighbors’ children were over to play.

It makes me crazy to see Bush and Allawi talking about the casualties in Falloojeh like every single person there is a terrorist lurking not in a home, but in some sort of lair, making plans to annihilate America. Allawi was recently talking about how the ‘peace talks’ weren’t going very well and a major military operation was the only option available. That garbage and the rest about Abu Mussab Al-Zarqawi is for Americans, Brits and Iraqis living in comfortable exile.

Allawi is vile and the frightening thing is that he will *never* be safe in Iraq without American military support. As long as he is in power, there will be American tanks and bases all over the country. How does he expect to win any support by threatening to unleash the occupation forces against Falloojeh? People are greeting refugees from Falloojeh like heroes. They are emptying rooms in houses to accommodate them and donating food, money and first-aid supplies.

Everyone here knows Abu Mussab Al-Zarqawi isn’t in Falloojeh. He isn’t anywhere, as far as anyone can tell. He’s like the WMD: surrender your weapons or else we’ll attack. Now that the damage is done, it is discovered that there were no weapons. It will be the same with Zarqawi. We laugh here when we hear one of our new politicians discuss him. He’s even better than the WMD- he has legs. As soon as the debacle in Falloojeh is over, Zarqawi will just move conveniently to Iran, Syria or even North Korea.

As for the ‘peace talks’ with Falloojeh- they never existed. They’ve been bombing Falloojeh for several weeks now. They usually do the bombing during the night, and no one is there to cover the damage and all the deaths. It’s only later we hear about complete families being buried alive or shot to death by snipers on the street.

By the way, Americans- 100,000 deaths in a year and a half, and the number is rising. Keep Bush another four years and we just might hit the half-million mark…


Highest US troop level ahead of Fallujah assault

America has increased its troop numbers in Iraq to their highest levels since the war ended, it emerged today.

Home leave has been delayed for several months for tens of thousands US soldiers, in preparation for the January elections and the impending attack on Fallujah.


Split over Falluja puts US on the spot

A split within the Iraqi interim government over whether to attack the rebel stronghold of Falluja is likely to put US commanders in difficulty, as they have insisted that Baghdad has ultimate authority over the operation.


Four Decades of Imperial Hubris
By David H. Hackworth

In most of the wars we’ve fought, our leaders have understood our enemies and how to take them down. But in the current shootout – a continuation of the revolutionary fervor first ignited in Algeria in the 1960s, then fanned by the Iranian Revolution, a huge Jihad victory against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Israel’s humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon and its interminable fight in Palestine culminating in 9/11 and our retaliatory invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq – America’s leaders from both major parties and our military and intelligence establishments remain in deep denial and blindly continue to believe that because we’ve got the power, we shall overcome.

Ditto a large chunk of the American public that has sent me gigabytes of e-mail about how we should do a Goldwater on the bad guys and “bomb them back to the Stone Age” – when that's where most of our 1.3 billion potential Islamic opponents already are. If ignorance is bliss, America might have cornered the market on happiness.

But unless we get real and bend our brains around what motivates our enemy, we will never prevail against the increasing millions of polarized Muslims who are becoming more united with every explosion of smart bombs and every Yankee occupation boot stumping across their turf.

It’s a commonly held belief among Muslims that the United States is grabbing their land in order to destroy their faith and their ancient way of life. Most believe that our unconditional support of repressive Muslim regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and other “friendly” Arab lands is all about keeping the people in chains and sucking up their oil on the cheap at a price that Joe and Jane Doe can pay at the U.S. pump without stroking out.

“Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us,” writes “Anonymous,” the author of Imperial Hubris, a critically important book that defines Osama and what’s driving his bombers. And the reasons don’t “have anything to do with our freedom, liberty, and democracy, but have everything to do with U.S. policies and actions in the Muslim world.”


 10:53 AM - link


The "Jap Doll" --Ningyô on the Western Toyshelf 1850-1940

Dolls from Japan were very popular in America and Europe through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. On these pages, I have collected illustrations and references that suggest the place of the Japanese doll in the minds of American and European children, and of the adults who bought them toys and moralized those toys.


  thanks to Coudal Partners

 10:28 AM - link


We took a giant step in this direction on November 2. The whole series is a must read.

The Rise of Pseudo Fascism
Part 7 [Conclusion]: It Can Happen Here

Bush wins legitimately and cleanly. Under this scenario, the conservative movement gains a death grip on the reins of power. Democrats will be gerrymandered and maneuvered into meaninglessness, paving the way for an essentially one-party state. And unencumbered by the need to win re-election, as well as empowered by an actual mandate, Bush's radical social and political agenda will begin to take effect. Democratic institutions across the board will suffer.

Recognizing what we are up against -- namely, a kind of fascism -- is critical to dealing effectively with it, because even if wielding the term in discourse can be unhelpful (it remains a loaded term easily misinterpreted), this model gives us a key to understanding the thought -- or rather, emotive -- processes that are the core of the pseudo-fascist appeal. Getting our opponents to see that, for example, dissent is not treason but patriotism, requires getting them to let go of their preconceptions. It means, in the end, getting them to see us as human beings too. And when we do that, the fascist facade will crumble.

This is, of course, easier said than done. It often is simply impossible. But maintaining this approach, standing firm, and refusing to descend into eye-for-an-eye contemptuousness is, in the end, our only way out of the dark, cavernous maze into which our national politics have descended.


 10:25 AM - link


Coincidences provides us with some great Robert Frank links.

Robert Frank travelled the US taking artfully empty pictures of 'the most banal things'. Photography would never be the same again, says Geoff Dyer

There's no getting away from Robert Frank. His influence has been felt even by people who have never heard of him or seen his landmark book The Americans. And yet, as Frank's forthcoming retrospective at Tate Modern illustrates, that book is just part of more than half a century's creative endeavour. As with Philip Roth, a considerable part of Frank's ongoing effort has been about the effects of early success. Living in the wake of his legend has been a source of dissatisfaction and resignation, as well as a goad.


In search of lost time
His work captured the 20th century. But Robert Frank was really trying to make sense of his own life. By Adrian Searle

Towards the end of Robert Frank's exhibition Storylines, which opens this week at Tate Modern, is a hand-coloured photograph of a couple standing in a field. They could be brother and sister, or young sweethearts - perhaps even nervous newlyweds. They pose stiffly, standing erect and a little apart, with their hands hidden behind their backs. Their clothes, like the photograph itself, are indefinably old-fashioned. The style of the photograph was probably already dated when it was taken. The photo's mount has yellowed, and the grey painted border looks as sad as an old lace ribbon. The colour, which has faded unevenly, no longer seems to quite belong to the image, if ever it did. It tints the picture like the cosmetics a mortician uses to tart up a corpse.

The wall label says Untitled Found Photograph. Anonymous, Not Dated. This image is quite unlike any photograph the 80-year-old photographer and film-maker has ever taken. Except as a wistful snatch of unrecognisable history, it isn't even much of an image. Why has Frank included it in his show? It comes in the final section, Memory for the Children 2001-2003, so perhaps he was thinking of his own two children, both now dead. (Perhaps it really is a picture of them, but I doubt it.) And here is his father's coat, with a legend that tells us so, and some Polaroids over which Frank has written: Entre la Vie et la Mort (Between Life and Death). A lot of this is a bit confusing, even though we can feel the emotional jolts.

Robert Frank: Storylines is not a retrospective in the usual sense, even though it is presented as a survey of his work from the late 1940s to the present. It is something much more poetic and elegiac, and as complicated as a life itself. Frank wants to tell a story, or even several versions of it. But the story isn't over, and he is still living it. He keeps on circling his own past, his own career, like a hunter after his quarry. Much of his work has been about trying to make sense of his own life, and the loss of his daughter in a plane crash, the death of his son after years of mental illness. There's sorrow and guilt, loss and anger in Frank's work - emotions so personal that his art won't submit to the usual exhibition rubrics.


The big empty
The epic loneliness of Robert Frank's photographs has made them iconic images of 20th-century America. Now 80, and on the eve of a major retrospective, he grants Sean O'Hagan a rare interview

It was Jack Kerouac who first defined Robert Frank's genius, who found in it some echo of his own vision of a vast, broken-down, but still epic, America, peopled with restless and lonely dreamers. 'Robert Frank, Swiss, unobtrusive, nice,' wrote Kerouac in his now famous introduction to Frank's collection The Americans , 'with that little camera that he raises and snaps with one hand he sucked a sad poem right out of America on to film, taking rank among the tragic poets of the world'.


Six Reflections on the Photography of Robert Frank

     After my father was buried in 1976 in Zurich, my mother gave me the coat: “This is your father’s coat. It is very good, warm and not worn at all. Please take it with you to New York and wear it.” I hung up the coat in a small room in our house – with all my film cans on the window sill and an Aloe plant (needs a little water). The door is closed. I did not wear the coat for many years. As time goes by I am thinking more of my father and how I might become more like him.
     On 14th Street I buy a Russian Lenin medal with shining red star. The medal looks good on the coat – it changes everything. The coat stays with the plant and film cans. When I am in New York on a cold day I wear the coat with the medal. The writing under the photograph is like sending a postcard – the medal on the coat an imaginary past; the plant is alive and waiting and growing… and I am getting old.


Robert Frank

Robert Frank

Robert Frank Online

 10:13 AM - link


Oil: Is the end at hand?
A once-fringe group saying we'll run out of oil is gaining attention, even within the oil industry.

The end of cheap oil may mean more than just higher gas prices for Americans. It may mean the end of the oil age as we know it.

That is according to the so-called peak-oil movement, which says that by 2008 humans will have extracted half of the earth's oil. In other words, we're using oil faster than we can ever hope to find it.

"We have all been enjoying the greatest party the world has ever seen: the great oil party," according to Kjell Aleklett, president of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) and a physics professor at Uppsala University in Sweden.

"After the climax comes the decline, when we have to sober up and face the fact that the party is coming to an end," he wrote in a paper earlier this year.

The hangover would mean not only the end of low oil prices, but also a slowdown in world economic growth. It could also lead to social and political unrest, as many countries try to keep the party going even as oil disappears.


  thanks to The Mike Runge Peak Oil Archive

 09:51 AM - link

want to to read a good book?

The Harvard Classics
The Shelf of Fiction

The most comprehensive and well-researched anthology of all time comprises both the 50-volume “5-foot shelf of books” and the the 20-volume Shelf of Fiction. Together they cover every major literary figure, philosopher, religion, folklore and historical subject through the twentieth century.


  thanks to J-Walk Blog

All of them online for your reading pleasure. And if you need some guidance on where to start...

Fifteen Minutes a Day
The Reading Guide

THIS book was prepared and is sent to you with one purpose in view, to enable you to profit in full measure from the writings of the immortals whom you have at your beck and call in the Harvard Classics.


 09:46 AM - link

  Wednesday   November 3   2004

the failure of democracy

Democracy depends on an informed electorate. It was not an informed electorate that reelected Bush. It was an electorate that was lied to and chose to believe the lies. A faith based electorate. A delusional electorate. Today the American people failed democracy. The American people failed the world. How many more people must die?

The Dream Is Lost
Bush gets mandate for theocracy. Only the right can stop him now.

The dream has become a nightmare. Not only did George Bush win, but he captured the presidency by a margin of what now looks like 4 million votes. That's a clear mandate and a big green light for the right wing to push ahead with an ideological program.

Barring an almost mathematically impossible outcome in Ohio, there will be no suprise win by John Kerry, no swooping in by a centrist Democrat to vanquish the specter of a modern American theocracy.

Bush will have no meaningful opposition, with a fully Republican Congress at his disposal. Even Tom Daschle, the Senate minority leader, was beaten in what looks like a rout of the Democrats.

The dream of a secular, liberal democracy is lost: Christians are stronger than ever, and whether it's true or not, the spin will be that they played a key role in building the Bush base. The visceral, cutting edge of the Bush mandate is the attack on same-sex marriage, led by the Christian right.

African Americans may have voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry, but Republicans without a doubt have made some, if only marginal, gains among black voters. In black Ohio churches, Democratic leaders were experiencing muttering discontent from the congregations over the issue of same-sex marriage. Abortion may be a given in the black community, but gay people marrying each other is definitely not.

Neoconservatives can proceed with business as usual—for the time being. But they will want to watch out for attacks—not from Democrats, but from the Reagan wing of the GOP.

The Patriot Act will become the modus for the increasing activities of the federal police. And again, criticism will come from the right, not the left. People like former Georgia congressman and lead Clinton impeacher Bob Barr already are out against the act. Paul Weyrich, long the most important conservative voice in Washington, is against it. He fears Senator Hillary Clinton will use it against himself and others on the right.

Abroad, the United States can only continue to lose standing as Bush presses his military agenda. European alliances will continue to wither and more and more people around the world will start seeing America as an empire in decline.


Steve Gilliard brings us this...

I Hate to Say I Told You So.

Scott Lemmons sent this my way and I wanted to share it with you.

I Hate to Say I Told You So...

...but I told you so!

Now here's the thing. I'm already hearing a few people getting depressed out there (as well as a few people who aren't getting depressed). But you see -- winning this election is the worst possible thing that could happen to George.

From now on, when something goes wrong, he can't blame Clinton or Daschle. He went from a 90% approval rating to just over 50% (and let's be honest, it was a lot less than 50%. Diebold machines weren't working right, votes were being suppressed. Watch foreign media for the real story in a few days, though American media won't mention it for another four years). Nothing else good will happen to the Bushites. The economy will continue to tank. Soldiers will continue to be slain in Iraq and Afghanistan. The draft will get started up. Scandal will continue to dog this administration, no matter how much the media tries to cover it up. The Plame Affair, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, Halliburton, Enron, Diebold -- more and more revelations will come out about this stuff, and the citizenry will not react well to them. The next time there's a terrorist attack, people won't rally 'round Bush -- they'll say, "Wasn't this the guy who campaigned that he'd keep us safe?" Bush's approval ratings will drop farther and farther and farther, and more and more people will start saying, "I wish I'd voted for Kerry."

I think, in two years, that Bush is going to lose both the Senate and the House. After that, I think he'll be impeached before the next election. By 2008, the GOP will be lucky if they can get a candidate who'll get 30% of the vote, and it'll be another two decades before they'll be able to convince the electorate to give them the White House again. Bush and this current incarnation of the GOP will be viewed as little better than the Dixiecrats -- wrong about everything and abandoned on the ashheap of history.

Take it from a certified prophet: we're going to enjoy the next four years.

The next four years were going to be hard on anyone who won. Let it be hard on Bush.


And Billmon brings us this reminder...

Four More Fears

This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it -- that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail
November 1972


 10:33 AM - link

  Tuesday   November 2   2004

election 2004

 06:40 AM - link

  Monday   November 1   2004

election 2004

Days of Shame

Overseas, our troops are being mauled in the long dark night of Iraq - a war with no end in sight that has already claimed the lives of more than 1,100 American troops and thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of innocent Iraqis.

At home, the party of the sitting president is systematically stomping on the right of black Americans to vote, a vile and racist practice that makes a mockery of the president's claim to favor real democracy anywhere.

This will never be seen as a shining moment in U.S. history.


Young Mobile Voters Pick Kerry Over Bush, 55% to 40%, Rock the Vote/Zogby Poll Reveals: National Text-Message Poll Breaks New Ground

Polling firm Zogby International and partner Rock the Vote found Massachusetts Senator John Kerry leading President Bush 55% to 40% among 18-29 year-old likely voters in their first joint Rock the Vote Mobile political poll, conducted exclusively on mobile phones October 27 through 30, 2004. Independent Ralph Nader received 1.6%, while 4% remain undecided in the survey of 6,039 likely voters. The poll is centered on subscribers to the Rock the Vote Mobile (RTVMO) platform, a joint initiative of Rock the Vote and Motorola Inc. (for more information: http://www.rtvmo.com). The poll has margin of error of +/-1.2 percentage points.


  thanks to Bad Attitudes




"One Day Left" by Michael Moore

To Decent Conservatives and Recovering Republicans:

     In your heart of hearts you know Bush is a miserable failure. From having no plan on what to do in Iraq once he conquered Baghdad to the 380 missing tons of explosives that could be used to kill our brave young men and women, this guy doesn’t have a clue how to fight and win a war. You should see the mail I’ve been getting lately from our troops over there. They know how much the Iraqi people hate them. They are sitting ducks anytime they go out on the road. Many believe we are not that far away from a Tet-style offensive inside the Green Zone with hundreds of Americans and Brits killed.
     Bush refused to go after and capture Osama bin Laden. He fought, every step of the way, the investigation into the 9/11 attacks. Who on earth would oppose such a thing? If 3,000 people died at your place of work and your boss said we don’t need to find out why or how it happened, he’d be thrown out on his ear. Bush’s behavior after this great tragedy alone is reason enough for his removal.
     You already know that George W. Bush is the farthest thing from a conservative. He’s a reckless spender who has run up record-breaking deficits and the biggest debt in our history. He believes in having the government pry into everything from your library records to your bedroom. He has hit you with hidden taxes with his tax cuts for the rich.
     I know many of you don’t like Bush, but are unsure of Kerry. Give the new guy a chance. He won’t raise your taxes (unless you are super-rich), he won’t take your hunting gun away, and he won’t make you visit France. He risked his life for you many years ago. He’s asking for the chance to do it again. Scott McConnell at The American Conservative magazine has endorsed him. What more do you need?


 10:08 AM - link


I've linked to an article about Greg Miller before, but not to his website. Wonderful stuff.

Greg Miller


  thanks to megaperls

 09:53 AM - link


Colin Powell Believes U.S. is Losing Iraq war

Secretary of State Colin Powell has privately confided to friends in recent weeks that the Iraqi insurgents are winning the war, according to Newsweek. The insurgents have succeeded in infiltrating Iraqi forces "from top to bottom," a senior Iraqi official tells Newsweek in tomorrow’s issue of the magazine, "from decision making to the lower levels."

This is a particularly troubling development for the U.S. military, as it prepares to launch an all-out assault on the insurgent strongholds of Fallujah and Ramadi, since U.S. Marines were counting on the newly trained Iraqi forces to assist in the assault. Newsweek reports that "American military trainers have been frantically trying to assemble sufficient Iraqi troops" to fight alongside them and that they are "praying that the soldiers perform better than last April, when two battalions of poorly trained Iraqi Army soldiers refused to fight."

If the Fallujah offensive fails, Newsweek grimly predicts, "then the American president will find himself in a deepening quagmire on Inauguration Day."


Major assault heralded as US artillery pounds Falluja

Fierce fighting killed eight American soldiers and wounded at least seven more yesterday as reports indicated that the long-awaited US assault on the insurgent-held city of Falluja had begun.


  thanks to Antiwar.com

The war on Iraq has made moral cowards of us all
More than 100,000 Iraqis have died - and where is our shame and rage?

The full scale of the human cost already paid for the war on Iraq is only now becoming clear. Last week's estimate by investigators, using credible methodology, that more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians - most of them women and children - have died since the US-led invasion is a profound moral indictment of our countries. The US and British governments quickly moved to cast doubt on the Lancet medical journal findings, citing other studies. These mainly media-based reports put the number of Iraqi civilian deaths at about 15,000 - although the basis for such an endorsement is unclear, since neither the US nor the UK admits to collecting data on Iraqi civilian casualties.


 09:47 AM - link


Old Beaters: The Joy of Bottom Feeding

To her discomfort and undoubted dismay, my wife has witnessed my discovery of eBay. In the past two months I have won bids on three used lenses, all screw-mount Pentax Super-Takumars: a 50mm f1.4, 35mm f2, and 135mm f3.5. The total cost: less than $150 USD. The lenses all arrived safely, and all were in good condition, ready for use.

The reason for the purchases was that I had acquired (been given, actually) an "old beater" -- a working Honeywell Pentax H1a 35mm SLR that predates the Spotmatic, has no built in metering, and has shutter speeds only to 1/500. Old Beaters are cameras that are past their prime, in most eyes, and have been left behind in the wake of "progress". Castaways, if you will. And as the tidal wave of digital sweeps through every boulevard and alleyway of photography, more and more older film cameras are destined for the midden heaps of garage sales, pawn shops, uncles' closets, and auction sites. To younger photographers these items may look like the jetsam of the past, but to those of us who grew up with them, many of these cameras and lenses are old friends and acquaintances. Nothing to do with sentimentality (that's not entirely true but pretend it's so), there are treasures out there: early Nikons, Leicas, Canons, Hasselblads, Pentaxes galore, Contaxes, Minolta SRT's, Olympuses, Besselers, Fujicas, Ricohs, Rolleis, Yashicas, Voigtlanders, Kowas, Bronicas, Kodaks, Arguses, Zorkis, well ... you get the drift.

Why would anyone want to bother with these old beaters, assuming they're in working condition? The simplest answer is that many of these cameras and their lenses were, and still are, very, very good. The solid mechanical workmanship of the bodies and the respectable lens quality offer excellent value and good shooting. They're bargains, and they're fun to use.

I personally think this visceral hit occurs more often with older cameras. There is something in the heft and feel of older, mechanical cameras that is missing from many of the newer polycarbonate models. Some of these new cameras are superb instruments, to be sure, and are just what the professional needs, but they don't bring the same aesthetic to the table. Call it "design as art form" or even "form follows function", many older cameras are beautiful machines you can enjoy and savor like a single-malt scotch or a fine red wine. Some are not so beautiful, but have a scruffy personality that makes them endearing. And they still take good pictures. And they're cheap (Leicas being a notable exception). So in addition to being a literal description, "Old Beater" is also a term of affection and endearment. If the term bothers you, you can use the more upscale term "Heritage Camera", but "Old Beater" suits me fine.


  thanks to Photoethnography Blog

 09:41 AM - link

Juan Cole provides a little background on how Israel's aggressions and murders are at the root of the mess we are in now.

Towers of Beirut

Readers have asked me to what Bin Laden was referring when he said he first conceived the idea of attacking US skyscrapers when the Israelis destroyed the "towers" of Beirut.

Beirut had been among the more advanced cities in the Arab world. I saw it in 1968 and 1974 before the civil war when it was called the Geneva of the Middle East. Although there was fighting in Beirut 1975-1981 by local militias, in fact by the early 1980s the situation had calmed down substantially and the economy was roaring back.

Then Ariel Sharon took it into his head to invade Lebanon in 1982. Sharon always has plots within plots. He wanted to install a far-rightwing government of his liking in Beirut and reshape the Eastern Mediterranean. And he wanted to murder the Palestinian leadership in Beirut, just bomb them all or otherwise rub them out. Although the Palestine Liberation Organization was an annoyance to Israel, it had been substantially defeated by the Syrians in the late 1970s and was extremely weak in 1982. In a way, Sharon's attack was made possible by the Camp David Accords, in which Egypt made a separate peace. Sharon took advantage of the neutralization of Egypt to launch an aggressive war on Lebanon. Egyptians were boiling mad as a result.


On unilateral withdrawal

Things have gotten fairly busy for me here in Beirut. One project I've been pursuing a little is on the whole concept of "unilateral" withdrawals, such as Sharon currently espouses for Gaza. The Israelis undertook an earlier such withdrawal, back in May 2000, from the occupied zone they'd held inside South Lebanon since 1978. And that withdrawal brought a good measure of stability to the border between the two states.

But Gaza is different from South Lebanon in at least two key respects. So why is Sharon so intent on making the withdrawal from Gaza unilateral, I wonder?? Especially since keeping it unilateral will without a doubt mean it's a very ragged withdrawal under fire.


Executing Another Child in Rafah
The Killing of Iman al-Hams

Iman al-Hams was a 13-year old refugee schoolgirl who was executed -- after being wounded -- by an Israeli platoon commander on the sad sands of Rafah.

According to testimonies given by soldiers in the same company to the mass Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, a soldier in the watchtower identified Iman and cautioned his commander shouting, "Don't shoot. It's a little girl". The company commander, the soldiers testified, "approached her, shot two bullets into her [head], walked back towards the force, turned back to her, switched his weapon to automatic and emptied his entire magazine into her." (1) Eyewitnesses corroborated the soldiers, account, saying that Iman was shot almost 70 meters away from the Israeli military position. After a bullet hit her leg, Iman, who was wearing her school uniform, fell. Then, they said, the officer went over to her, saw that she was bleeding from her wounds, but still shot her twice in the head to "confirm the killing", an Israeli euphemism for the practice of executing a wounded Palestinian. A cursory army investigation later cleared him of any "unethical conduct", as is customary, and suspended him only because of "poor relations with subordinates".(2)

In a flash, Israel proved to the world -- yet again -- that it is not only intransigent in its patent and consistent violation of international law, but also incapable of adhering to the most fundamental principles of moral behavior.

Whether at the checkpoints, in their classrooms, in their living rooms or in the streets, Palestinian children have long lost any immunity they might have enjoyed under an occupation that used to be particularly sensitive to its image in the western public opinion. Alas, that was before 9/11. Since then, however, with the effective Israelization of US foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, Israelis felt they had a "windfall, as Netanyahu called the 9/11 crimes in his first public reaction. Indeed, Israel has steadily moved close to a combination of the French colonial model in Algeria and the apartheid model in South Africa, while enjoying unwavering protection from the new empire and a hypocritical, subservient attitude from most European governments which continue to treat Israel as a preferred partner and as a western outpost in the near east. Thanks to this shameful collusion, Palestinian children are no longer spared Israel's worst crimes, committed with revolting impunity.

When a nation tolerates, even encourages -- through failing to properly investigate killings or punish perpetrators -- the deliberate, cold-blooded murder of a defenseless child under the pretence of security, it does not only lose any claim to morality it may have ever had, but also kills any remaining argument for its worthiness to continue existing as a racist, colonial state that is essentially above the law. It is the responsibility of humanity at large, and the west in particular, to impose sanctions and boycotts on Israel similar to those struck against South Africa in the past in order to bring about its compliance with the precepts of international law and the ever-evolving universal moral principles.

Iman in Arabic means belief. It is hard to guess why Iman al-Hams, parents called her that name, but it may have been out of belief in their own ability to persevere, to live and develop despite occupation, exile and destitution. This belief lies buried with Iman in Rafah. With occupation, there is no room for true peace, for progress, for decent living or for any sense of safety. Palestinian children deserve life, freedom, dignity and hope. At the very least, they deserve not to be executed by the region's "only democracy".


 09:32 AM - link


New Photography through Vintage Cameras

We live in the golden age of film. Every time I try out a new film, I am amazed by the possibilities it offers. In addition to a wealth of new emulsions, we still have Plus-X, Tri-X, HP-5, and Kodachrome—the master films of the twentieth century. We can even get new film in old sizes such as 127 and 9x12cm. This variety of stock affords opportunities to combine old cameras with new film to produce qualities heretofore unseen. It is probably possible, through experimentation, to find modern film that brings out the best in a particular example of older optics. (As mentioned earlier, you might find that Fuji’s Velvia does wonderful things with a low-contrast lens such as the Tessar on a Contaflex.)

In recommending older optics, I am not slighting the new ones. I know what marvelous results can come from the latest lenses. However, I also think that contemporary lenses have the same design goals: high contrast and sharpness, with minimal aberration. Those are worthy goals, to put it mildly, but their current attainment may not be pleasing to everyone, nor do such goals allow for the individual tastes of a lens designer. Older lenses give you alternatives.

Another point to remember: As digital is pushing in, the prices for older equipment have dropped. This will not last, but for now you can—on a modest budget—own the very best cameras of past decades. When you have these cameras in hand, you see why they were so well regarded. The excellence is still there: the design ingenuity, the craftsmanship, the fine materials. You feel confident when you are using them, as you feel when using the best of any technology.

The other benefit definitely grows from nostalgia—but not the photographer’s. You find, when you use vintage gear in public, that people will approach you with a smile to say hello and to admire your camera. Clearly, they are happy to see some almost-forgotten piece of equipment still kept carefully, still used seriously. Perhaps it relieves their sense that—as Tennessee Williams put it—time rushes past us as if screaming. Perhaps it reminds them of a relative who used the equipment, or of some occasion when they were young and saw that camera in action. For whatever reason, the sight of a vintage camera makes some people glad; and if you are open to it, their pleasure will gladden you.


  thanks to RangeFinderForum.com

 09:20 AM - link


Report Sounds Alarm on Pace of Arctic Climate Change
Warmth, Glacial Melt Linked to Humans; Wide-Ranging Effect on Environment and Industry Forecast

The most comprehensive international assessment of Arctic climate change has concluded that Earth's upper latitudes are experiencing unprecedented increases in temperature, glacial melting and weather pattern changes, with most of those changes attributable to the human generation of greenhouse gases from automobiles, power plants and other sources.


  thanks to The Agonist

 09:10 AM - link


Another medium format film camera manufacturer quits. Sad. The rush to digital turns to a stampede. That's good news for film users. It means lower prices on used equipment.

Fujifilm's medium exit

Last week's prediction in BJP that just two or three companies will continue to serve the medium format market is a step nearer reality with the news that Fujifilm has ceased production of its cameras


  thanks to Photography Blog

 09:08 AM - link

  Sunday   October 31   2004

election 2004

Some words from our Canadian in Korea — Stavros the Wonderchicken

The Wonderchicken speaks:

A few times in my life, I've felt the Fear. When terror -- long drawn-out exhausting fear -- works itself to such a pitch inside you that you end up punching right through it, and a calm resignation takes over. You understand at a time like that that there's absolutely nothing you can think of doing that might change the flow, to alter events in any way, and you become an observer. Whether it's the cornered herbivore going limp as the predator's teeth close around its throat or a detached zen calm is a matter of debate. Either way, it's an instructive place to sit, in the eye of the storm, wrapped in a mental silence, utterly still.

I feel that way at the moment with regard to the American election. As anyone who's ever subjected themselves to the Comedy Ranting of the wonderchicken is amply aware, I've made clear my feelings about the criminal scum who've left their snail tracks of glistening goo all over the remnants of a once-great nation. Although I've been accused of trying to sway people with my screeds and polemics, that has never been the case, at least not consciously. I was just playing. Writing for me is a ludic thing. I don't want to change your mind, I just enjoy speaking mine, and playing with words while I do it. Maybe even having a conversation.

The rage, of course, was always genuine. It still is. But the fire's banked at the moment. Not a flame to be seen, even if the carbon-black belly of the stove is glowing fiercely. It's not about me, though.

It's about you, my American friends. Much as I've castigated you as collectively stupid, hopelessly parochial, misguided and misled, lazy, fat and terrifyingly unaware of the great evils wrought in your name all around the world, well, I still love you. In the particular, if not the abstract. I was just poking fun. Serious jokes. You always hurt the ones you love, right?

Just like Jon Stewart, I want it both ways, you see. I want to be the funny monkey, and I want to tell hard truths. Serious jokes. I do believe it's possible to have it both ways, and dangerously simpleminded to expect otherwise.

But this time, I'm going to speak plainly, from this terrified pocket of calm, not because it will make a difference to what's going to happen, but because I would be betraying myself if I remained silent. We're begging you, our American friends, our American enemies, our American taskmasters and landlords, our American occupiers and our American pimps, our American sisters and brothers, to do the right thing next week. We're depending on you, all of us out here in the Outlands. We know you don't give a flying fuck about us, really, all us furriners. We know you want what's best for your country, your people, your families. You don't want to hear our opinions about your politics. We understand that.

But do you remember when the whole world wept along with you and averred 'We are all Americans' after that terrible day 3 years ago? It was true, then. It is hard, my friends, to find many who feel that way today.

Many of us believe that what's best for America need not also be what's worst for the rest of the world.

So please. Please. Vote next week. Think, read, put aside your tribal affiliations, and vote. I don't even care who you vote for, because, much as I've abused you all in fun, I trust that most of you are good people, and that if more than the customary 40% 55% [thanks, Dan] or so of you do your duty as citizens and go to the polls, nothing can result but a landslide for the Other Guy.

I'm begging you. We're all begging you. Do the right thing.



Root for the Green Bay Packers Today

I haven't researched this personally, but I have heard it all over the media. Going back to 1932, whenever an incumbent president has run for re-election, their fate was tied in to the Washington Redskins. When the Redskins win the incumbent has won. When the Redskins lose the incumbent loses. Today at 1 PM - Green Bay at Washington. Go Pack!!! (and it will be doubly sweet for this Giant fan who loves to see the Skins lose)


By the way, the final score was Green Bay Packers 28 - Washington Redskins 14.

 05:59 AM - link