October 10, 2004

Think About What This Means. Think Hard

Eschaton quotes from the LA Times:

Eschaton: WASHINGTON — The Bush administration will delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.

Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi -- where insurgents' grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the greatest -- until after Americans vote in what is likely to be a close election.

"When this election's over, you'll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Once you're past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive, the official said. "We're not on hold right now. We're just not as aggressive...

Think about what this means. Think hard. Think very hard.

The generals say we should move now. Moving now gives us the greatest chance of victory at the lowest likely cost. Moving later gives us a lesser chance of victory at a higher cost in terms of our soldiers' lives. But moving later is helpful to the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Impeach them now.

Posted by DeLong at October 10, 2004 09:26 PM | TrackBack
Comments

I'm afraid "impeachment" will have to be the Nov. 2 election...

Posted by: Patrick Berry at October 10, 2004 09:32 PM

Have been reading Barry Lyndon, about how the Irish were betrayed and then conquered by the English, and fell down from being freemen into indentured and eventually perpetual servitude.

"I presume that there is no gentleman in Europe that has not heard of the house of Barry of Barryogue, of the kingdom of Ireland, than which a more famous name is not to be found in Gwillim or D'Hozier; and though as a man of the world I have learned to despise heartily the claims of some pretenders to high birth who have no more genealogy than the lackey who cleans my boots, and though I laugh to utter scorn the boasting of many of my countrymen, who are all for descending from kings of Ireland, and talk of a domain no bigger than would feed a pig as if it were a principality; yet truth compels me to assert that my family was the noblest of the island, and, perhaps, of the universal world; while their possessions, now insignificant, and torn from us by war, by treachery, by the loss of time, by ancestral extravagance, by adhesion to the old faith and monarch, were formerly prodigious, and embraced many counties, at a time when Ireland was vastly more prosperous than now."

http://www.blackmask.com/books55c/barrylynd.htm

Looking at the status of my friends and I, and the few rich men I've known who sold their souls for arms and hostages, to make their fortunes, I've got to say this adventure that is America is foundering on the rocks of treachery.

The US Constitution specifically prohibits slavery and indentured servitude, yet today nearly half of all Americans live in perpetual debt, unable to rise above the surface and draw a free breath. In debt when they are born, and in debt when they die. Paying for their slavery.

An Irish friend of mine wrote of a family death where everyone close stayed away, because nobody wanted to be tagged for the cost of the funeral.

Think about that when you belly up to the booth. A vote for Bush, or a vote for Kerry, it better mean more money in your pocket, or why bother?

Posted by: Tante Aime at October 10, 2004 09:38 PM

Of course, if Bush did order a massive offensive and pulled off some kind of stunning success, he'd be wrong for that too - "October surprise" accusations, using troops lives as a campaign prop etc. etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Posted by: mark safranski at October 10, 2004 09:45 PM

Is wiping out the recalcitant cities the best way to resolve this war? Or are we in the state that we were in after the Tet Offensive, in a war everyone agrees we can't win, yet we try to fight it out to "keep from admitting we made a mistake"? In 1968 in Vietnam, everyone knew that the only way to conquer the country was by massive killing of the people there that we had come to "liberate" and "protect".

We also should think hard -- very, very hard -- about what it means to launch massive attacks on the densely populated cities of Iraq. And we should think again about what it means to acheive "victory". As a returning Vietnam vet, John Kerry knew that there were things that were worse for the country than admitting it was time to end the war - and one thing worse was executing crimes against humanity. It was this as well as his anger at the needless deaths of our soldiers long after the war was unwinnable that led John Kerry to testify before Congress in 1971.

Posted by: Mary at October 10, 2004 09:59 PM

It is not only the lives and safety of our troops that this miserable pack is willing to needlessly endanger. Their contempt for the safety and security of our entire population is manifest by their gaming of the terror alerts.

The Seattle Times reports Sunday that the feds are investigating at least 19 highly likely incidents of terrorist surveillance of the ferry system. This is a good thing, and the details are alarming.

But when did these incidents take place? Some were in 2001 and 2002. The most recent reported incident was last May, five months ago.

Why are Washington residents only hearing of this now, 25 days before the election? If people start to believe that alerts are political, how many lives will be lost when the alert is real?

Posted by: SG at October 10, 2004 10:00 PM

A CIA assessment of the situation in Iraq concludes that the situation can only be stabilized enough for a vote and a militia police force if somewhere around 25% of all males aged 18-42 are killed or captured.

I'm sure "slaughtered" would be too harsh, and of course, there is no mention of who would pay for those incarcerations, although prisons are a growth business in the United States.

Anyway we can hook into those oil reserves. You can expect the slaughter to start just as soon as Rumsfeld finds his Custer.

Posted by: Harry Possue at October 10, 2004 10:13 PM

"We also should think hard -- very, very hard -- about what it means to launch massive attacks on the densely populated cities of Iraq."

This to me is what might be going on here. Yes, American casualties would look bad here, but carpet bombing the cities with B-52's, killing tens of thousands of civilians would look even worse.

Course, I don't know what the battle plan is. If Bush loses, what degree of utter disaster will he leave Kerry with. I would hate to believe in such evil, but a lame-duck Bush terrorizing the Sunni cities could possibly leave Kerry in a position where Kerry would be forced to withdraw in the spring, if he could even manage it without getting most of our troops killed on the way to the borders.

But a subtext here is Sistani, who has demanded fair elections in the Sunni cities in January. He last week repeated this position. Sistani alive calling jihad, or Sistani dead at American hands, would also get our army killed.

Posted by: bob mcmanus at October 10, 2004 10:22 PM

"Of course, if Bush did order a massive offensive and pulled off some kind of stunning success, he'd be wrong for that too - "October surprise" accusations, using troops lives as a campaign prop etc. etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseum."

He is wrong for allowing nakedly electoral considerations to affect life and death decisions.

Horribly and disgustingly wrong. End of spin, end of story.

Posted by: The Eradicator! at October 10, 2004 10:46 PM

http://nuclearfree.lynx.co.nz/peakoil.htm

World oil production has already peaked.
The market knows it, just not the general
public. Not yet. It's what's driving Bush
and Cheney grey, doing things their way,
gaining control, but getting no respect.

When the price of gas just keeps going up
and up and up, how will the House of Kerry
keep the White House lights on?

Wind power?

"As that little mind game shows, trying to imagine life after fossil fuels isn't easy. Hydrocarbons are the very lifeblood of modern, industrial society. They are so fundamental to our existence that their role in creating our quality of life often goes unexamined. What our great grandparents would have considered luxuries we think of as necessities. But as even a casual look at history and a quick review of physics reveal, we are living an aberration.

What will this mean for our lives? For one thing, cheap travel will become a thing of the past--goodbye backpacking trips to Bali and cross-country road trips. Our transportation infrastructure is utterly dependent on oil. Forty percent of all the petroleum we consume goes into our personal cars and trucks, and another 20 percent is burned by our trains, 18 wheelers and airplanes. As fuel costs rise, our freeways will crawl to a stop, our airports will be shuttered. The process of economic globalization, which is so dependent on inexpensive transport, will hit a brick wall. By necessity, economies will have to retrench and become more local, more self-centered."

http://www.martinweiss.com The Next Great Crash

Maybe now you'll have sympathy for the Devil.

Posted by: Tante Ratatoskr at October 10, 2004 10:54 PM

It's not about the WMD, and it's not (directly) about the oil, it's about the Euro dollar and OPEC, and China stuck to our back like a tick.

http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net

One single mis-step by Kerry, and we eat s&*t.

Bigtime.

Posted by: Dolores Cantel at October 10, 2004 11:10 PM

One might imagine a situation in which the return on going into those cities now vs three weeks from now is considered even by the admin, and doing so without the distraction of the election tips the balance towards waiting. Unlikely but possible. This would also explain why a senior admin official would say something so shocking.

Posted by: rilkefan at October 10, 2004 11:11 PM

I'm reminded of the photos of LBJ's war cabinet, sitting around the table picking targets in Vietnam, rather than letting the commanders in the field make those calls. But was the objective there any more clear than it is now?

I suppose it makes sense to stand pat for now: I don't see how the current administration can make things better and if we get rid of those jokers, there's a chance to get out of this mess with fewer casualties on both sides.

Posted by: paul at October 10, 2004 11:12 PM

". . .carpet bombing the cities with B-52's, killing tens of thousands of civilians would look even worse . . ."

Forgive me, but nothing I've seen so far indicates that Iraqi deaths matter a damn to the Bush administration and many Americans. They're a bit like Palestinians. Or Pakistanis. Or Vietnamese forty years ago.

Posted by: Steve at October 10, 2004 11:16 PM

TR/DC: Right on, right on, right on.
http://www.dieoff.com/page143.htm
"Bomb them back to the Stone Age."
We're all heading back home anyway.
Praise Jesus and pass the Rapture!

Posted by: Nukem Qwikly at October 10, 2004 11:22 PM

Hey, just got my "Vote Absentee! Vote Early!"
application from the local Republican Party,
encouraging us all to vote absentee next week!
Pre-emptive strategy before the next debate on
US domestic economy and our future without oil.
With 3,000,000 aliens a year pouring into our
country, we'll all have plenty of slave energy.
Why doesn't George just pull out all the stops,
wear his Baptist Elder gown, and Praise Jesus?!

Posted by: Lenny Talon at October 10, 2004 11:31 PM

And here I thought I'd heard Bush say, just a few days ago, that he listens to his generals on the ground, and follows their counsel.

Posted by: Pamela at October 10, 2004 11:49 PM

I'm somewhat surprised, because I thought this was old news.

It had been clear to me that TeamBush was gaming the action in Iraq to keep the body counts down until he can steal the election again. Then, frankly it is going to be Gaza, but on a larger scale. Roll in the tanks and heavy infantry, and with massive close air support, pound every, even remotely suspected insurgent "haven" into dust, along with most of the civilian population that didn't get out in time. I seriously doubt if there will be any pre-attack notifications. No more mister nice guy.

Sadly, I think the real carnage of this war, especially for the Iraqis, is yet to be seen.

Posted by: Scott at October 11, 2004 12:30 AM

This sort of manipulation is just the tip of the iceberg.

America will be unrecognizable after four more years of Bush, et al.

Brad advocates impeaching him. How? How, when the Republicanís control both houses of Congress?

I repeat, America will be unrecognizable after four more years of Bush rule.

The sad thing is, it seems that 45% of the electorate thinks enough like he does to be willing to allow him to carry out his ďrevolution.Ē

I came across the Sept. 20th issue of "The Nation." There was an article by Dale Maharidge titled "Rust & Rage in the Heartland."

He has some interesting insights...

"Nancy and Jim were typical...every person I interviewed was unemployed, underemployed, hurting economically in some way. This group of Americans, who number in the millions, harbors deep-seated anger over corporate shenanigans, their lack of healthcare and good jobs, yet in interview after interview I found they are often the most fervent in their support of George W. Bush and his tough rhetoric."

He goes on to explain how the Republicans have twisted "social issues" school busing, Willie Horton, gay marriage to speak to these people, and he goes on to say that at any time the nation is at war, there is a tendency toward nationalism.

Further into the article he makes this observation,

"There are millions of American workers living in a virtual depression, in a virtual Weimar. Their anger is real, as is their fear. The right has been addressing it in the form of appearing decisive with "preventive war," or by cranking up the xenophobia."

The gut question is this; if it is clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Bush pilfers this election, what do the rest of us do? What do we, that other 45% who donít believe as he does, how do we take back our country? What will it take? Will massive, non-violent civil disobedience be enough? Or, will it take something more?

I hope it never comes to that. But, that is what we should be thinking very, very hard about.

Posted by: Scott at October 11, 2004 01:28 AM

It is what I'm thinking very hard about, Scott. I'm looking at plane fare to DC in January and how much pitchforks cost in Virgina if Kerry blows this election, which is his to lose.

Then again, if he blows it, do we deserve what we get?

Posted by: Anon at October 11, 2004 01:44 AM

Do you ever get nostalgic?

Return with us now to the thrilling days of yesteryear:

Back when today's war crimes (and 'day-to-day' atrocities) were just 'gleams in the eyes' of a few fellows @ PNAC and the AEI,

When the Iraq attack was only another 'item' on the agendas of some 'ambitious' political 'operatives' (AND 'well-heeled worthies' behind the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post & etc. ad nauseum),

When today's 'news' was little more than a foul 'odor in the air' @ Fox, C & MSNBC, CNN & etc.,

Hardly more than hysterical bits of (potentially lucrative) 'red meat' 'making the (hyperbolic) rounds' of the ol' chicken hawk flock....

---------------------------

Mr. Bush's War

Copyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2002

Aug. 22, 2002

NEW YORK - US forces are rapidly massing in the Gulf to invade Iraq. Four heavy brigades have been positioned near Iraq, a huge new air complex is now operational in Qatar, and American special forces are active in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The White House is hoping its threats of war will provoke a coup against Saddam Hussein by the Iraqi Army. But if one does not come, the Bush Administration shows every sign of plunging into an unprovoked war that the rest of the world will view as blatant aggression.

Even America's closest allies are appalled by the tide of warmongering and jingoism that has engulfed the United States. Bush's recently proclaimed doctrine of `pre-emptive intervention' anywhere on earth is nothing less than a frightening revival of the old imperialist Brezhnev Doctrine of 25 years ago that called for Soviet intervention wherever socialism was threatened.

`Bush, himself the most intellectually backward American president of my political lifetime, is surrounded by advisors whose bellicosity is exceeded only by their political, military and diplomatic illiteracy.'

Such were the stinging words of Gerald Kaufman, the highly respected former foreign affairs spokesman of Britain's ruling Labour Party, America's closest ally. Bush's accelerating campaign to invade Iraq and turn it into another US oil protectorate is also provoking a storm of outrage across Europe, the Mideast, and Asia where people believe pollution and climate change are far bigger and more urgent threats than the boogeyman of Baghdad.

There are two important exceptions. First, Israel. Last week, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, sounding like he was giving orders to a subordinate, demanded Bush speed up plans to attack Iraq. Right on cue, American supporters of Sharon's far-right Likud Party, led by the Bush Administration's Rasputin, Richard Perle, intensified their clamor to send American GI's to fight Iraq. These bloodthirsty `neo-conservatives' - most of whom evaded military service in their own country - currently dominate the Pentagon and exercise a virtual monopoly on US media commentary of the Mideast. They are ardently backed by Armageddon- seekers of the Christian loony far right.

Senior Republican Senator Chuck Hagel spoke for many when he asked if Perle was so eager to attack, why didn't he join the first assault wave against Baghdad. Former national security advisor to Bush's father, Brent Scowcroft, warned an attack on Iraq would be a disastrous mistake.

Meanwhile, in Congressional hearings last week, former UN Iraq arms inspector Scott Ritter courageously stated what many Americans believe, but dare not say: `A handful of ideologues have hijacked the national security policy of the United States for their own ambitions.' Ritter insisted Iraq was totally disarmed and no threat to the US or Mideast. The Bush Administration - more precisely, the people pulling its strings - do not want renewed inspections of Iraq, Ritter said, they only want war.

A torrent of propaganda, lies and half-truths about Iraq have been pouring from the White House in a campaign reminiscent of old Soviet agitprop. The government-appointed `defense' team representing accused 9/11 plot member Zacharias Moussaui, reportedly urged him to falsely claim that Iraq was behind the attack. Moussaui refused. The head of Czech intelligence said there were no contacts in Prague between Iraq and al-Qaida, a key Bush reason for attacking Iraq. CIA veterans and European intelligence officials scoff at White House claims that Iraq is a threat to the world.

The other exception to worldwide outrage over America's Mideast policies was Osama bin-Laden's al-Qaida. In 1998, bin Laden carefully outlined his grand strategy to:

a. liberate Palestine;

b. drive the US occupying troops from Saudi Arabia; and

c. end the punishment of Iraq's people.


To attain these goals, bin Laden planned to provoke the US into a large number of fruitless military involvements that would wear out the US and bleed its military and financial power. Afghanistan, which costs American taxpayers $5 billion monthly, is the first step. Iraq, whose leader is hated by Osama bin Laden - a hatred equally returned by Saddam - will be number two. Then, Iran, Syria, Libya - all also on Perle's hit list - and so on until a host of Lilliputian conflicts tie down the American imperial giant.

George Bush, who takes pride in not reading books, and calls Greeks `Grecians,' is charging like a Texas bull into the trap set for him by both Osama bin Laden and General Sharon. Israel has been trying for 20 years to get the US to go to war against the Arabs and Iran, knowing this will permanently enlist America's vast wealth and power in its cause, and permanently alienate the US from the Islamic World. The extremists in both camps need one another, The main beneficiary of the 9/11 attacks on the US was Israel's Sharon. Bin Laden would never have achieved notoriety and a wide following without Israel's oppression of the Palestinians.

If ever the United States needed real friends, it is now. Real friends, like Canada, Germany, and France are trying to deter the empty, misled George Bush and his hijacked cabinet from committing an outright aggression that risks plunging the Mideast into chaos or even nuclear war.

http://www.bigeye.com/082202.htm

---------------------------

Posted by: Mike at October 11, 2004 02:36 AM

I am very concerned about what Bush will do in Iraq after the election.

If Bush wins I expect a nightmare.
If Bush loses I expect even worse.

I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: undelay at October 11, 2004 03:15 AM

"And here I thought I'd heard Bush say, just a few days ago, that he listens to his generals on the ground, and follows their counsel."

He said OF COURSE he listens to his generals.

http://www.node707.com/archives/002029.shtml

Posted by: ogmb at October 11, 2004 04:04 AM

A GENERAL SPEAKS ON WAR WITH IRAQ

[Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni headed the U.S. Central Command, which commands U.S. forces in much of the Middle East and Central Asia, from 1997 to 2000..]

October 31, 2002

General Zinni: Thank you. Ned asked me to look at the possibility of military action in Iraq and sort of describe the lane between best case, worst case and maybe the most likely case scenarios are and where the minefields may be.

Let me start with the best case. Last night I sat down and said, "What would have to happen to make any military action to turn out in the best possible way?" I wrote ten conditions for this war that would have to happen. The first condition is that the coalition is in. The second is that the war is short. The third is that destruction is light. Fourth is that Israel is out. Fifth is that the street is quiet. Sixth is that order is kept. Seventh is that the burden is shared. Eighth is that the change is orderly. Ninth is that the military is not stuck. Tenth is that other commitments are met....

...My last point was that our other commitments have to be met. We have embarked on a global war on terrorism, GWOT as they call it in the Pentagon. If we are going to be involved in a global war on terrorism, we'd better understand that it goes beyond the tactical. The tactical means you go into the field, you go after the terrorists with your military, your law enforcement agencies cooperate to take down cells, your financial institutions work to peel away the resources needed, but you are treating the symptoms. Terrorism is a manifestation of something greater. There is extremism out there that is manifesting itself in the violent way of terrorism.

What are the root causes of this extremism? Why are young people flocking to these causes? Could the issues be political, economic and social? Could disenfranchisement or oppression be what drives them rather than the religious fanaticism that may be the core element to only a few? How do we cooperate to fix these problems? How do we help a part of the world that's trying to come to grips with modernity?

I would suggest that we ought to think in terms of a Marshall Plan, not a Marshall Plan in terms of a large dole necessarily but one that is international and cooperative, one that looks at what needs to be done on the economic, political and social fronts to help this important critical part of the world get through this rough patch. There are questions out there about a great religion in the process of transformation adjusting to modernity. There are questions out there about the forms of governance and whether they're going to evolve into something more responsive to the twenty first century. There are questions out there about issues of human rights and different ways we see individual rights.

Do you best work those issues in confrontation or cooperation? I think you best work them in cooperation. Our other commitments require that as the leader of the world now and the last empire standing, not one of conquest but one of influence that has attempted to be the beacon for the world and not to conquer the world, how do we best exert that influence? How do we reach that hand out? How do we muster the resources of the world, of others who look to us for leadership to help in this region now? How do we cooperate with those in the region that want to see change and that want stability and reform? How do we do it in a way that minimizes friction instead of always resorting to what I spent thirty nine years doing, which is resorting to the gun? When you unleash that kinetic energy on a part of the world, you never know what's going to come out of the other end. More often than not, it makes the conditions worse...

http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/zinni-iraq-conditions-pr.cfm

---------------------------

Pentagon Contradicts General on Iraq Occupation Force's Size

By Eric Schmitt

New York Times

February 28, 2003

In a contentious exchange over the costs of war with Iraq, the Pentagon's second-ranking official today disparaged a top Army general's assessment of the number of troops needed to secure postwar Iraq. House Democrats then accused the Pentagon official, Paul D. Wolfowitz, of concealing internal administration estimates on the cost of fighting and rebuilding the country.

Mr. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, "wildly off the mark...."

http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/attack/consequences/2003/0228pentagoncontra.htm


Posted by: Mike at October 11, 2004 04:23 AM

Scott wrote, "The gut question is this; if it is clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Bush pilfers this election, what do the rest of us do? What do we, that other 45% who donít believe as he does, how do we take back our country? What will it take? Will massive, non-violent civil disobedience be enough? Or, will it take something more?"

The solution is actually very prosaic.

Political organizing takes time and money.

All you have to do is contribute much more of these. Then things will change.

Posted by: liberal at October 11, 2004 04:24 AM

"Time and Money," liberal at October 11, 2004 04:24 AM ?

That's "all?"

---------------------------

Be Part of the Solution

Published: October 11, 2004

The 2000 mess in Florida was supposed to make the nation more dedicated to ensuring that elections are fair, but it appears to have had the opposite effect. The chances of having an election in which all qualified citizens can cast votes that are counted accurately seems more remote than ever. Local election officials have been choosing electronic voting machines of questionable reliability that do not produce a paper record. Secretaries of state have been rejecting valid voter registration forms on technicalities. And rather than trying to attract supporters to their own candidates, some political operatives are concentrating on disqualifying voters on the other side.

As bad as things have been so far, the most vulnerable time for a democracy is Election Day itself. Polling places can be closed or moved at the last minute, with little or no notice. Registered voters arrive at polling places where they have been voting for years, only to find that their names are not on the rolls. "Ballot integrity" teams show up in heavily minority precincts, trying to intimidate people into leaving without voting. Voting machines fail to start up properly or develop troubling glitches.

Ordinary Americans can, and should, become more involved in monitoring the election process...

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/11/opinion/11mon1.html

---------------------------

October 11, 2004

Safe Seats in House Keep True Races Rare

By Eric Slater, Times Staff Writer

California has 53 seats in the House of Representatives, nearly twice as many as any other state, and every one is up for grabs in November ó technically.

In the increasingly predetermined reality of House races, just a single seat is really in dispute. And even that one, in the Central Valley, fails to make the cut when Democrats and Republicans list the truly competitive races in the nation.

California, often alone in its embrace of political novelty, is merely the most obvious example of a national phenomenon: congressional races that aren't races at all.

Just two of New York's 29 seats are considered competitive this year. In Florida, one out of 25 involves a race. Of the 435 seats in the House, experts from both parties say, only about 30 are in serious doubt.

" 'Coronations' is a good word when talking about congressional contests," said Rob Richie, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Voting and Democracy. "We're getting back to the divine right of kings..."

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-nonrace11oct11,1,6951457.story?coll=la-home-headlines

---------------------------

The Indefensible Electoral College

Why even the best-laid defenses of the system are wrong.

By Bradford Plumer

October 8, 2004

What have Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bob Dole, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the AFL-CIO all, in their time, agreed on? Answer: Abolishing the electoral college! They're not alone; according to a Gallup poll in 2000, taken shortly after Al Gore -- thanks to the quirks of the electoral college -- won the popular vote but lost the presidency, over 60 percent of voters would prefer a direct election to the kind we have now. This year voters can expect another close election in which the popular vote winner could again lose the presidency. And yet, the electoral college still has its defenders. What gives?

As George C. Edwards III, a professor of political science at Texas A&M university, reminds us in his new book, Why the Electoral College is Bad for America, "The choice of the chief executive must be the people's, and it should rest with none other than them." Fans of the electoral college usually admit that the current system doesn't quite satisfy this principle. Instead, Edwards notes, they change the subject and tick off all the "advantages" of the electoral college. But even the best-laid defenses of the old system fall apart under close scrutiny. The electoral college has to go...

http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2004/10/10_202.html

Posted by: Mike at October 11, 2004 05:07 AM

I believe that loss of office (either through impeachment or non-election) is not nearly enough punishment for the war crimes we have already seen, been subject to, and have visited upon others.

What legal recourses are available in the US to isolate, retribute and deter our leaders from these acts? And when such recourses are not availed or are unavailable, are we to turn to the world court, or the rest of the world, and ask them to try our own leaders as war criminals? Can you even imagine that we might have to apologise to the Iraqis and others for our unjustified wars against them, and pay them retributions?

Do more of you see a day when we will, as a moral necessity, have to oppose our own government, and a large part of our fellow citizenry, to prevent further crimes? I suspect that too few will join such a cause, most are like me too fearful to do anything, and that that course must fail, unfortunately.

It is already late in the day, perhaps too late, and few are waking up even now. Nightfall comes in a few hours. I despair; I really don't know what to do, except to record it for posterity. What can we do?

Sometimes, if I wait awhile, these moments of despair pass, and I moo contentedly in the field, in the corral with the rest of my herd, in the shadow of the slaughterhouse.

Posted by: tjallen at October 11, 2004 05:18 AM

Fear is what is crippling our democracy right now. Fear of terrorism, fear of the world, fear of expression of opinions, and even fear of being viewed by others as wrong. I don't believe democracy can exist in practice in an atmosphere of fear - representation by others sure, but not the open public dialogue required for a healthy, flourishing democracy.

Posted by: BV at October 11, 2004 05:36 AM

Now I've taken my morning dose, I feel the calming effect, I am sedated, anesthetized.

In this mood I see we do have available, at least on paper, many legal recourses to the situation before us. We can elect more responsible leaders, we can petition the government with our grievances. We can freely associate, organize, and donate time and money.

Already, our courts and advocates are beginning to tell our leaders that they have overstepped; war is not a blank check, said one brave judge. Some of those suffering extra-constitutional confinement have been released, others are being tried in an open proceeding. Opinion-leaders on every side are voicing opposition.

I am not alone, and need not despair so. In our open society, I just need to add my voice, time and money to the causes I advocate, and patiently await the machinery of our own government to correct its course and reestablish justice and domestic tranquility.

Posted by: tjallen at October 11, 2004 05:46 AM

I think we have every reason to be confident of a Kerry victory, given a fair election. Unfortunately we have every reason to fear the election will not be fair.

On another note, Bush is clearly wearing something on his back, and has been for several months at least. I remember seeing the bulge as a fanny pack as he was leaving a press conference
a few months ago. They have shifted the box up his back where it is slightly less noticeable.
Bush has also failed to take a physical exam this year (no shit!) and there is no current report about the President's health (well, Gore is fine, I'm sure). As a matter of urgent public interest,
questions about Bush's health need to be answered before the election. Please do your part and write your local papers and your congressmen to alert them to this problem.

It is my layman's opinion that Bush appears to be showing the side effects of some psychiatric medication. This would be an obvious reason for avoding a physical (which is a long ordeal at the naval hospital and presumably would result in disclosure of such medication). There is also the possibility that the unexplained box on his back is a medical device rather than a cheat box.
I find this unlikely, but we do need an explanation.

Thank you.

Posted by: marky at October 11, 2004 05:47 AM

Also, one thing each of us can do is to get out and vote in November. I understand the downside of the electoral college system and that the popular vote sometimes does not seem important within that system, but for now it is our system and the candidates still do currently receive the electoral college votes on the basis of the popular vote. What would contribute significantly to the reform the electoral process is if we each took advantage of the small bit of power we have each election and voted. Right now it is easy for many politicians to simply ignore the average voting aged citizen because many (perhaps most) are either not registered or if registered, do not vote anyway.

Posted by: BV at October 11, 2004 05:49 AM

I hope this anonymous quote is just a tactic to trick the enemy -- we convince them that the offensive has been delayed, and then go in.

It works because it's completely believable that the Bushies' would put soldiers at risk for the sake of politics.

From the military point of view, it's brilliant -- catch the Iraqi militants by surprise, AND make the Bushies look very very bad.


Posted by: Oberon at October 11, 2004 05:53 AM

I don't see where 3 weeks will change much of anything.

Posted by: Roberto Keen at October 11, 2004 06:42 AM

Looking this morning, on the blogs I posted my comments above, I've seen few responses that seriously address this question, or most of those that have spoken to it have been surprisingly "sheepish;" "...democracy will work..." "...vote..." "...more time and money..."

And that is what worries me. Not enough people recognize the danger. If Bush wins, either fairly or not, and most likely not, I think it will be too late for "rational" approaches. If Bush wins, democracy and its institutions as we have known them will essentially disappear in the United States.

Those of us who don't subscribe to both the domestic and foreign "Bush Doctrines" will be disenfranchised. Some more slowly than others, but the polarization in this country will deepen, and harden, and those of us not on the "right" side will become second class citizens.

What is the problem? Are we really too afraid to address this issue and what it implies? Are we really so passive that the mere thought of actually having to perhaps shead our own blood to preserve our domestic rights and freedoms is beyond us? If that is the case, then indeed, we do deserve what we get.

Posted by: Scott at October 11, 2004 07:04 AM

Deadly serious, all of this.

There's real scorn and dismay on the right (says the Times) about the presence of international poll watchers in the US. I find them very, very reassuring, no less than I find our own efforts to scrutinize registration, polling, and counting this time around.

As for impeachment, I'm getting to be a drone on this subject, or rather on the absolute necessity of changing the makeup of the House (at least). There might well have been impeachment proceedings by now had it not been for the imbalance in Congress, and not just imbalance -- venality. I tend to wonder whether a post November world in which Bush gets a second term but the House is run by Dems and moderate Republicans might be a safer bet in the longo run than Kerry hamstrung by the present set-up -- a one-term Dem who's chased out of office leaving a situation in which the right takes over for decades. Changing Congress is the key -- to impeachment, to respect for the law, and to a less partisan future.

Posted by: Bean at October 11, 2004 07:33 AM

Scott, what would you have us do?

You make veiled references in your first post to acts which are something more than massive non-violent civil disobedience. Are you advocating (however bravely) taking up arms against our own government? I personally don't even own a gun, and I am doubtful that, if I did, that I could justify embracing the very kinds of violence which I abhor.

And I certainly don't think noble bands of democrats with small arms will dent a government armed with missle-firing drones engaged in extra-judicial killings, armored home-levelling bulldozers, helicopter gunships, short-range microwave skin burners, extra-constitutional incarceration of males 18-42, etc etc etc.

You suggest I will get what I deserve, if I am not prepared to spill my own blood, in defense of what is left of our democracy. I am uncertain that things are that far gone. I am not prepared to take Patrick Henry's oath, "Give me liberty, or give me death," yet, if ever. I admit to being both a coward, and not so certain of my convictions, to be able to take those kinds of steps.

I, too, am frightened by what I see around me. Militant religious conservatives, training with arms in the woods of Florida and Idaho, are openly shown on TV. My own co-workers screaming in my face things like, "Bush is the only thing keeping us safe!" and "This is the new America, love it or die!" I had hoped for intelligent argument from my fellow citizens, and I can parry and thrust with the best of them in argument. But lately I've been threatened physically; one guy said, "I just punch those I disagree with." Yes, his unveiled threats scared me.

What to do, what to do?

Posted by: tjallen at October 11, 2004 07:36 AM

Following Scott's comment about "Rust and Rage in The Heartland", there was a review in the New York Review of Books last month of a book called "What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America", by Thomas Frank. This quotation stuck in my mind:

"For Frank, America today is a painting by Bosch,

...a panorama of madness and delusion...of sturdy blue-collar patriots reciting the Pledge while they strangle their own life chances; of small farmers proudly voting themselves off the land; of devoted family men carefully seeing to it that their children will never be able to afford college or proper health care; of working-class guys ...deliver[ing] up a landslide for a candidate whose policies will end their way of life [and] transform their region into a "rustbelt," [and] strike people like them blows from which they will never recover."

Posted by: Minty at October 11, 2004 07:37 AM

Re: Scott's final question.

Are we simply passive as a society or are we civicly lazy? These problems did not start with this election and I don't believe they will stop with this election -- no matter who wins. Blogs give me hope though for open public debate like the one I am reading this morning.

Posted by: BV at October 11, 2004 07:52 AM

(blogwhoring) For a considertation of Mr. Bush's "intentionality" defense of the invasion of Iraq, may we suggest today's post in Pudentilla's Perspective in which Pudentilla describes the kind of neighbor George Bush would be. (/blogwhoring)

Posted by: Pudentilla at October 11, 2004 08:10 AM

Looking at it from another angle, I think this is an attempt by Bush to reassure the right-wing hawks who have been dismayed that we've allowed the insurgents to win in large areas of Iraq. He seems to be once again sending messages to the right that he hopes regular people won't notice or understand.

Posted by: rps at October 11, 2004 08:12 AM

I think the talk about an post-election Iraq offensive is spin by the Bush administration that's intended to show they're going to do something in Iraq that's tough. But such attacks don't change things strategically, as after the U.S. leaves a city it's 'taken' the insurgents just move right back in. We'd better get used to Iraq as it is right now, because while the insurgents can't possibly defeat the U.S. militarily, neither can a national government with any real police power be established in the face of the sort of domestic violence Iraq is currently subjected to.

Posted by: David W. at October 11, 2004 08:14 AM

>What legal recourses are available in the US to isolate, retribute and deter our leaders from these acts?
Well, if HR10 passes, the next administration could always allow the previous administration to be deported and tortured. Extraordinary rendition might end up being useful Personally, I would prefer public execution. Maybe large pyrex pot, filled with peanut oil, heated to about 500F, lots of cameras focused on it. Toss in one war criminal, boil till done.

>Can you even imagine that we might have to apologise to the Iraqis and others for our unjustified wars against them, and pay them retributions?
Sure. But all the Germans who thought there would be a price to pay for Lebensraum and the excesses of the Third Reich were all tossed into the camps. Nuremburg awaits.

>Do more of you see a day when we will, as a moral necessity, have to oppose our own government, and a large part of our fellow citizenry, to prevent further crimes?
Thoughtcrime! Off to room 101 with you!

>Sometimes, if I wait awhile, these moments of despair pass, and I moo contentedly in the field, in the corral with the rest of my herd, in the shadow of the slaughterhouse.
The Sheep Look Up.

Posted by: Peter at October 11, 2004 08:20 AM

Kerry has a golden opportunity here. Everything he's done so far has led up to this, I hope he doesn't pull his punches. Because this is the KO punch. He can use this line to set it up too:

"I don't see how you can lead this country in a time of war, in a time of uncertainty, if you change your mind because of politics." -George W. Bush

THe scales have been faling from many Americans eyes regarding the hollow little man who acts as their President. It's time for this.


OTOH, re the military assault: This is a really bad idea, now or after the election. THese guys do not have a clue how to win a guerrilla war. That is precisely not the way to go about it.

Posted by: Barry Freed at October 11, 2004 08:29 AM

Brad, I have issues with the concept of victory in your post, the same issues I have with Kerry's stance to continue the war in Iraq. From that point of view, the only meaningful difference I see between the candidates is tactics in the service of a flawed objective and a flawed strategy (big debate between making a stupid mistake now or making it in a few weeks... but nobody saying it's a stupid mistake in the first place).
So while the news underlying the post repulses me, I can't see in it any justification for a vote for Kerry.
This compounds Kerry's total alignment on Bush on Palestine, where he now blackballs Arafat from any future negotiations. He lost 2 votes in CO on that one.

Posted by: ergos at October 11, 2004 08:32 AM

I'm with Scott on raising the question of what it's going to take. But I (and Scott, too), of course, prefer the peaceful approach.

Kevin Phillips, the former Nixon advisor, sometime soon after observing the cadres in the Gingrich revolution 10 years ago, opined that the United States was in a pre-revolutionary state.

Look back over the Republican rhetoric over the past 20 years.

Everything Scott wrote above, including the last question, was posed by the Republican Party first. Now, the majority of Republicans, who merely hate taxes, even when they do buy body armor for their kids in Iraq, do not think this way.

But if you walk with Grover Norquist, Tom Delay, Ralph Reed, and the rest of them into the voting booth one more time, then you have willingly chosen a fucking side. And it's not mine.

If Kerry wins, there will no good losers on the other side. If Kerry wins, this will be, perhaps for the first time in American history since the Civil War, an occasion when the usually tepid and merely insincere statements from Republican Congressional leaders about working with the new President from the other party will be outright lies laced with poison.

Again, I prefer political organization and a toned-down revolutionary rhetoric. But if I'm in a discussion with someone who threatens: "I just punch those I disagree with!", I'm not running off to print political flyers. The tough guy, who hates paying taxes to the government, is going to need the government in the form of the police force, to show up and save his candy, tax-hating Republican, cowardly ass. The hated government is the only thing standing between him and me.

Posted by: John Thullen at October 11, 2004 08:34 AM

Sounds you want to win in Iraq. Let us define winning as a minimally stable pro-American regime.

Uh, why do you want that - at these prices?

Posted by: gcochran at October 11, 2004 08:39 AM

General strike.


I'll say it again:

General strike.


Something much more than massive non-violent civil disobedience.

Something less than armed revolt.


But with real teeth.


The Bushies are intent on bringing this country to its knees, militarily, economically, etc.

We can do so much more quickly and in service of our democratic republic.


General strike.


So who's with me?

Posted by: Barry Freed at October 11, 2004 09:02 AM

I was active duty in the United States Marine Corps from 1967 to 1973. I was in Vietnam. I enlisted and served there because I believed in the "ideal" of helping beleaguered people fight for their freedom. If I was willing to fight and risk my life there, why should I be any less willing to do so here, in my own country?

So, please donít pretend to lecture me about guns, and killing.

I do not advocate violence, certainly not for its own sake. But what are the parameters of our resistance to what is being inflicted upon us by our own government? Is it going to be non-violent civil disobedience? Is it a general strike, as suggested by Mr. Freed above. Or will it have to be something more? The question has to be asked. At what point do we say enough is enough? How much of our civil liberties do we allow to be eroded?

Do people really think their precious Internet canít be taken away? Please, grow up.

America is at a tipping point, economically, politically, and socially. We are at a multi-dimensional cusp, and the direction we go will be determined by next four years.

Posted by: Scott at October 11, 2004 09:22 AM

You know the mood is grim when talk turns to revolution on a usually mild mannered economic blog. Personally I would prefer a series of economic boycots starting with?

Posted by: little alex at October 11, 2004 09:53 AM

>So, please donít pretend to lecture me about guns, and killing.

No need to get an attitude like this Scott, as I agree with most of what you've said, and am sure glad someone has broken the ice to discuss these things openly.

>At what point do we say enough is enough? How much of our civil liberties do we allow to be eroded?

Certainly agree that's the right question. It is one thing to advocate violence in self-defense, and another thing to advocate violence in favor of political ideals. I agree that in civil war, these can become one and the same. As I said above, I just don't think things have gone that far, yet. Not even close.

If the time comes, and it may, I guess we each can contribute what we do best. You can be the warrior for our common cause, while I'm off printing the political flyers. I'm not joking, and I know you're not joking, either. I take this as seriously as you do, and I do not mean to seem to pretend to lecture you on anything.

Posted by: tjallen at October 11, 2004 10:01 AM

starting with? ...

A nationwide tax revolt which takes all tax rates for all governments (Federal, State, and local) ruled by Republicans to zero. Give them what they want, with something extra. Millions of American families would need to participate or it would be pointless, because republicans will take your house, your job, and jail you and probably murder you, (if the resistance was stiff enough) if there are just a few.

If there are to be demonstrations, they must be resolutely disciplined, not the motley, window busting, vegan collection the Left usually comes up with. That's easy for the Republican media to make fun of and dismiss. Wear business suits, be scarily organized, if your state permits conceal and carry, do so. Be utterly silent during the demonstrations. Do not smile and beg for peace. If one individual whips out the acoustic guitar,
and sings Kumbaya and ask for the cessation of seal clubbing, then Michelle Malkin's got you right where she wants you.

Remember, many of these revolutionary Republicans were campus leaders of the revolutionary Left during Vietnam (the ones who weren't cowering with draft-dodging butt-boils down at the local Young Republicans clubhouse), so they know every trick in the book.

Do not underestimate the ruthlessness of the Repuplican side. They are dying for a fight.

Be just like them. That'll scare the crap out of them. Then we'll see their true character.

Posted by: John Thullen at October 11, 2004 10:16 AM

Tjallen,

My comment "...So, please donít pretend to lecture me about guns, and killing..." was not directed at you. I was responding to others, perhaps not even on this page, who were "shooting from the hip" about where I personally was coming from. My apologies to you, and any others I may have offended.

I do not consider myself a revolutionary, nor an ideologue. Certainly not an ideologue on the order of a Wurmser, a Feith, a Perle, a Franklin, or any number of others now in Government or advising it, some whom seem to have a confused sense of duty to the United States. Where do their loyalties really lie?

Some have asked, "at what point does armed resistance become necessary?" That is a fair question. When did it become necessary during our own revolution? When should it have become necessary to the "Good Germans" who knew Hitler was leading them to destruction, that his policies were wrong, and that his actions had to be stopped? Did they wait too long?

I personally think all non-violent alternatives should first be exhausted, massive non-violent protests, a general strike, concerted pressure in the form of letters and phone calls to our elected representatives, etc. But, what if all that fails, and what if this outpouring of discontent results not in constructive change but leads to violent repression by the government? At what point do we have a right to defend ourselves?

I seem to hear some saying that there is no threshold to what we might have to bear. If that is so, then at what point do the words "WeÖhold these truths to be self evident..." become meaningless?

Posted by: Scott at October 11, 2004 10:19 AM

Ah, but we are moving now. City of Hit under air and ground attack, mosque ablaze.

Posted by: paper tigress at October 11, 2004 10:20 AM

The main political split is between people who think every man's an island, a lone wolf, responsible to no one but himself; and those that think what separates us from the animals is our cooperation, and our willingness to accept responsibility for how our actions affect others.

Posted by: delecti at October 11, 2004 10:26 AM

Scott:

I am not anti-gun. I've shot and owned guns. I am also not against the use of violence in protecting oneself, or family or community when life, health, well-being and liberty are at stake.

I also understand your anger and concern. We are at a real crisis point, we are at the edge of an abyss, with one foot frantically seeking purchase in mid-air.


So while I have great admiration and respect for active pacifists such as MLKjr, Gandhi, Abd al-Gaffar Khan, Lew Hill, Judy Bari et al. I have nothing but contempt for the passive pacifism that shrinks from active conflict, from real political struggle. That seeks to validate itself through self-righteous political posturing while making sure to avoid any real risk. The kind that is all too common today and is rightfully and righteously taken to the woodshed by Ward Churchill.

Flame away but I've always admired the likes of Malcolm X, the Deacons for Defense, and yes, the Zapatistas and their like.

There is a famous photograph of the meeting between Martin Luther King jr and Malcolm X. One detects not a bit of conflict, of disagreement between them.

But those who have followed the path of armed resistance in the name of progressive political struggle and succeeded in their goals have been had the qualities of self-discipline, restraint, and intelligence both moral and tactical as well as a wider awareness of the strategic goals and how they fit in with a wider movement.

In all due respect, the romance of armed resistance, without that moral and tactical intelligence and restraint has more in common with Leninist vanguardism or Timothy McVeigh.

I'm not saying this is what you are advocating. No insult is intended. I think it is a good thing that if mass non-violent civil disobediance does come to pass that it be well known that their are those with the means to defend such protestors violent means if need be.

Those are the parameters of resistance that I suggest we follow. Otherwise we have to ask ourselves, who are we willing to kill?

I sympathize with your frustration, puppets and street theatre are an flaccid joke. I have no problem with guns or killing if it needs to come to that. But it should not have to come to that. And we are duty bound to find every means to insure that it does not reach that point. While we make quite clear to the wingnuts and the coupsters that we cannot be backed down or intimidated and we will defend ourselves if they should use violence against us: By any means necessary.

Posted by: Barry Freed at October 11, 2004 10:33 AM

Scott: BTW, I posted the above before seeing your 10:19 comment

Posted by: Barry Freed at October 11, 2004 10:36 AM

Mike

How you do collect and file your references? Obviously they are at once available to you. Please explain, for I wish to be better at this.

Posted by: anne at October 11, 2004 01:45 PM

Make

Where do you store your refences? We each should be able to build a reference library, and I welcome ideas about this.

Posted by: anne at October 11, 2004 01:49 PM

Violence cannot work against this post-Patriot Act police state. They are primed and well-equipped to answer violence with greater violence.

The only answer is to make it so expensive to run the police state that it falls under its own cost burden, through mass divestment of portfolio, general strikes, slowdowns, sabotage, intentional waste, denial of service attacks, etc.

Sadly, this is the Samson Option and requires us to share in the Depression/Crash that we ourselves would cause.

Posted by: Jim J at October 11, 2004 01:53 PM

Mike

Also, do you use "Furl" for reference storage? I find it excellent.

Posted by: anne at October 11, 2004 03:33 PM

"If there are to be demonstrations, they must be resolutely disciplined, not the motley, window busting, vegan collection the Left usually comes up with. That's easy for the Republican media to make fun of and dismiss."

You have a good point, John. Thousands of quiet people filling the streets of cities across the country would truly be a powerful witness.

Many years ago, I was part of a sit-in in a senator's office. When closing time arrived, we simply refused to leave. We didn't argue; we didn't curse; we simply said we were unable to leave until we learned that the government would no longer fund the contras.

The police were sent for and they asked each of us individually to leave. No one did. We were arrested. A few in the group were carried out; most of us walked out with a police officer at our sides and into the paddy wagon and on to the police station. Non-violent civil disobedience in action.

I wonder though, whether thousands could be disciplined enough not to react to any provocations placed in their way. What would happen if rocks were thrown or thugs bullied the people...

Posted by: mallen at October 11, 2004 04:30 PM

"Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Impeach them now."

Very well, even allowing for the rhetorical pose (insufferable in itself) that Congress might live up to its Constitutional role; but you cannot impeach their supporters. So, what must, what can, what may, what will, be done with them?

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit at October 11, 2004 04:35 PM

didn't someone do some research on how to deal with pasive resistance. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remember reading about this. Something about experiments with COs in a prison setting during WW2. Seems that if you are willing to kill/torture, pasive resistance falls apart quickly. Did the Germans do this in Denmark and Holland in WW2? Most likely that is how S H operated in Iraq.
can anyone help my recollection on this?

Posted by: dilbert dogbert at October 11, 2004 09:06 PM