Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Update on Ukraine Presidential Elections

The upcoming (Oct. 31) Presidential Elections in Ukraine are of very high significance. The entire world will be watching closely. The two frontrunners are very close in the polls, yet reflect very different visions of human rights, rule of law, and economic reform in Ukraine. Perhaps most importantly, they represent two different views and directions regarding Ukraine's international/European identity. Yanukovych, the "establishment" candidate, acting Prime Minister and supported by current President Kuchma and (impliedly) President Putin of Russia, wants to maintain and strengthen Ukraine's ties to Russia and preserve a relatively Eastern-Europe orientation. Yuschenko, the "opposition" candidate, is very much the pro-Western candidate. He is advocating sweeping reforms in areas including voting, human rights, and economic policy. Of the party "Our Ukraine," he emphasizes solidifying Ukraine's independence from Russia and orientation with Western Europe and its institutions. The campaign has been a tumultuous one, riddled with violence, government-controlled media bias, and attacks on the candidates (including an apparently life-threatening poisoning that took Yuschenko out for weeks).

Here is a recent update from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on the dramatic campaign and imminent elections:

RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY UKRAINE THE GAME WITH NO RULE BOOK. An estimated 100,000 people participated in a rally near Ukrainian Central Election Commission (TsVK) headquarters in Kyiv on 23 October to back the presidential bid of opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko and to demand fair and democratic presidential voting on 31 October. The rally -- organizedby the pro-Yushchenko electoral coalition People's Power -- was held under the general slogan "The People's Power Against Lies And Falsification.""We demand honest elections," Yushchenko told the crowd. "The people will force [the government] to recognize their choice.... The candidate of the authorities has no chance whatsoever for an honest victory."After Yushchenko ended his speech at the rally, the crowd began to disperse. Then a group of young people with shaved heads andwho wore black jackets with orange-colored symbols of the Yushchenko campaign, bombarded the TsVK offices with bottles and smoke bombs,breaking several windows in the building. Within an hour, footage of the attack was being shown on Ukraine's major television channelswith commentaries attributing the incident to extremists in the pro-Yushchenko camp. Participants in the pro-Yushchenko rally managed to catch six attackers and hand them over to police. But when opposition lawmakers visited a police station three hours later to inquire about the detained attackers, they were told that the attackers had been released. The opposition accused the authorities of staging a provocation with the attack on the TsVK offices. Ukraine's pro-government television channels have remained silent over what happened with the "pro-Yushchenko extremists."Later in the evening on 23 October, however, events took amore terrifying turn. Some 100 Yushchenko supporters remained infront of the TsVK building, where the TsVK was mulling the issue ofopening 400 additional polling stations in Russia for Ukrainians who live there and want to take part in the 31 October presidential vote.The TsVK session was attended by Yushchenko, a group of lawmakers from his Our Ukraine parliamentary bloc, and several lawmakers from thepro-government parliamentary coalition. It is little wonder that the debate was heated: Yushchenko and his supporters argued that opening so many polling stations in Russia -- with no election observers onhand for the voting there -- could lead to massive falsifications infavor of Yushchenko's main rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.At 11:00 p.m., the pro-Yushchenko picketers outside the TsVK headquarters were attacked by an unidentified group of around 100thugs who were reportedly armed with flails, hammers, knives, and blunt objects. The picketers, along with opposition deputies from theTsVK building who hastened to help them, managed to detain threeattackers: two turned out to have police officers' identity cardsand pistols with them. Eight participants in the fight were seriously injured and taken to hospitals by ambulance. As one Ukrainian commentator noted, it was the first blood spilled in the 2004 presidential campaign.What happened later is not quite clear. After Yushchenko andhis parliamentary colleagues found themselves outside the TsVK building, a detachment of riot police arrived at the scene and,according to Our Ukraine legislators, blocked their way back to the building. The authorities, as well as pro-government media, subsequently accused Our Ukraine lawmakers of attacking and beating the riot-police detachment. Moreover, the police said that the twopolice officers whom Yushchenko's supporters detained near the TsVK headquarters had nothing to do with the attack on the picketersand were kidnapped by an unidentified group in an entirely different part of the city. Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation against Yushchenko and his backers, accusing them of an attack on on-duty police officers.Meanwhile, Yushchenko's people admitted only that theonly victim of their "attack" was lawmaker Nestor Shufrych from the pro-government Social Democratic Party-united, from whom they tore a sport shirt in a scuffle that ensued when he tried to stop them on their way back into the building. Shufrych reportedly wandered withhis bare torso along the TsVK corridors for an hour after theincident.In seemingly biased reports, pro-Yanukovych televisionchannels and newspapers presented the 23 October clash near the TsVK headquarters as the most direct evidence that Yushchenko and his followers are preparing a violent scenario for taking power inUkraine after the 31 October presidential ballot, irrespective of its result. "Recently the trust of voters in [Yushchenko] has noticeablydecreased and his chances for a victory are becoming more and more illusory," Yanukovych's election staff said in a statement on 26October, purporting to explain why Yushchenko favors "extremistactions."Progressive Socialist Party Chairwoman Natalya Vitrenko then added insult to injury, painting Yushchenko as a repulsive extremist."I assess the events of 23-24 October at the TsVK offices as actions by anti-Russian, anti-Slavic, and pro-American forces oriented toward capturing power by strong-arm methods for the benefit of the UnitedStates, under the cover of a struggle for honest elections," "ForUm"quoted her as saying. "I think the capture of power by Yushchenko would [cap] an American scenario for Ukraine's colonization."But there have been other, more disturbing signals fromUkraine. The "Ukrayinska pravda" website on 26 October posted areport from Donbas, Ukraine's coal-mining basin and Yanukovych's electoral stronghold, saying that coal-mine managersin the region are forming groups of miners who are to go to Kyiv andsome cities in western Ukraine on 30 October for three days, purportedly as electoral observers. The website hints that such groups might be used not only for observing the election but also for falsifying the vote in favor of Yanukovych by repeatedly voting at different polling stations and for staging provocations against Yushchenko adherents. "Fear is once again creeping into people's souls," a group of Ukrainian intellectuals and writers say in an open letter about the ongoing election campaign published on 25 October. "Today they are often afraid to speak freely [out of fear that] they would lose the very last things in their possession -- work and a piece of bread. Instead of a cozy European home with its attendant prosperous life and respect for the law, once again we are being offered Eurasian spaces with their eternal evils, barbarity, and despotism."The letter warns that a Yanukovych election victory will be a"catastrophe" and calls on Ukrainians to vote for Yushchenko.

. . . As election day -- 31 October -- drew closer, a number of Ukrainian opposition politicians told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service that they were concerned that the government was preparing provocations that could lead to antigovernment rioting in the streets that might allow for a reinforcement of troop levels in the capital under the pretext of a military parade. Independent Ukrainian website "Ukrayinska pravda"( pointed to a rash of incidents that tookplace in the capital as evidence that the government was stirring up discontent. The most conspicuous of those acts was a raid on theoffices of a student organization in Kyiv during which a homemade explosive device was purportedly found. The student group, PORA, claimed that there had been two searches of their offices by Interior Ministry forces: The first was videotaped by members of PORA and showed that nothing was found; but during a second search, during which no one was allowed to be in the offices except police, the device was allegedly found hidden in a wastebasket. As concern mounted in Kyiv after news clips on pro-government television showed militia officials describing the incident, Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko announced on 20 October that if the situation dictated it, he would declare martial law in Kyiv on the night of the elections. The next day he rescinded this threat. But on 24 October, a day after 100,000 supporters of opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko gathered in Kyiv, Omelchenko stated that he would ban all opposition demonstrations in the city. Earlier, on 20 October, an airplane carrying Yushchenko was not allowed to land in the city of Melitopol, where he was scheduledto make a campaign stop. The next day, this was repeated in the city of Kryvyy Rih. Adding oil to the fire, the Prosecutor-General's Officein Kyiv issued a statement on 22 October that was apparently calculated to further infuriate the opposition. Yushchenko, the statement read, had not been a victim of poisoning -- as the clinicin Vienna at which he had undergone treatment suggested in its diagnosis-- but rather had fallen ill to an acute attack of herpes. Putin's visit to Kyiv on the eve of the election was seenby the opposition not merely as an excuse to bring more troops into the city, but also as an attempt to provide Putin with a platform from which to endorse Viktor Yanukovych, the current prime minister and the candidate supported by the current Ukrainian administration. In interviews broadcast by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, members of Yushchenko's campaign team cautiously speculated that if Putin came out openly in favor of Yanukovych, this would have either a negative effect on the voters or no effect whatsoever. Yanukovych, however, disagreed and was quoted by RFE/RL'sUkrainian Service on 20 October as saying that he would welcome Putin's endorsement. Putin, having set a precedent by issuing a statement recently supporting George W. Bush's candidacy in the U.S. presidential race, has seemingly insured himself against criticism by the United States that he is interfering in Ukrainian domestic affairs. Somepro-Yanukovych members of the Ukrainian parliament commented that if Putin can voice his preference in the upcoming American election, he should be allowed to do the same in Ukraine. As preparations for Putin's visit were under way, Russian Liberal-Democratic Party head Vladimir Zhirinovskii arrived in Ukraine to campaign for Yanukovych, who has stressed his pro-Russian orientation throughout the campaign. Accusing Yushchenko of"nationalism" and of trying to divide the Ukrainian and Russian nations, Zhirinovskii went on a tour of Ukraine endorsing the pro-regime and pro-Russian candidate. Putin is expected by many observers to stress that Ukraine was liberated in 1945 as part of a joint effort by all "Soviet peoples." The theme of invincible Slav unity is designed to appeal to those Ukrainian voters who only days earlier heard Zhirinovskii berating Yushchenko for his alleged anti-Russian nationalism. Ukraine's liberation by the multinational Red Army during World War II evokes highly emotional images among only a small and dwindling portion of the Ukrainian electorate. Its impact on the Yanukovych campaign is therefore doubtful. On the other hand, Putin's popularity in Ukraine is high, according to a recent public-opinion poll taken by the Russian Fund for Public Opinion and reported in "Vedomosti" on 22 October. The poll claims that some 71 percent of Ukrainians have a favorable view of the Russian president. Whether Putin's alleged popularity might rub off on Yanukovych is questionable, but the people runninghis campaign are apparently betting that it will not hurt. (RomanKupchinsky)

QUOTES OF THE WEEK."We do not think that we have come for one year; we think that we have come for a long time. Skeptics won't succeed in erecting abarrier on our path. I believe that strong and healthy people are far more numerous than those goats who hinder our lives." -- Ukrainian Premier and presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, on 21 October; quoted by Interfax. Ukrainian commentators recalled in connection with this pronouncement that"goat" (kazyol) in the prison slang is a highly insulting term denoting a prisoner who collaborates with the prison's administration. In Soviet-era prison slang, "goat" also referred to a passive homosexual. Yanukovych served two prison terms, convicted in 1967 to three years under an article pertaining to theft and robbery and in 1970 to two years under an article pertaining to "infliction of bodily injuries of medium seriousness."

"Esteemed friends, I am convinced that the future of my country and of 47 million [Ukrainians] will not be determined by convicts [in prison slang: zeki] or a penal-colony [rule] [in prison slang: zona]." -- Presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko to an estimated 100,000 people at a rally in Kyiv on 23 October; quoted by the "Ukrayinska pravda" website.
(Compiled by Jan Maksymiuk)

- What are your thoughts regarding Ukraine's direction? Is a Western orientation best for Ukraine and the international community? Or do Ukraine's long history as Russia's partner (subordinate?) and geopolitical concerns warrant a second look? Based on what I have studied and my stays and visits to Ukraine, I tend to hope that a reformer like Yuschenko prevails, not necessarily for world-orientation reasons, but because Ukraine desperately needs legal, economic, and democratic reforms to keep moving forward and raise the standard of living for its citizens. The eight years under Kuchma have yielded varied results. Unfortunately, many have been negative. Freedom of the Press (a constitutionally-protected right) is an increasingly fleeting dream of early independence years. Political decisions/actions based on personal, family, and elite-class gains are rampant. Corruption in law, politics, business, and economics is the norm. The list goes on. It doesn't have to be this way. The people of Ukraine, according to my experience, are generally a very resilient, resourceful, and community-minded group. But, many feel powerless and disenfranchised. A leader who might restore optimism and motivate grass-roots activity and work is what this nation needs. I don't think Kuchma's protege, who is part of the old-club mentality, can or would do this. But, I've been wrong before.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

"Proud" to be an American?

A great column by Bethany Woolman on Monday about what it means to be a "patriot."

My favorite comments came at the end of her column:

"I don't pretend to think my country is flawless. And I am not "proud" to be an American. I am fortunate to be an American. My patriotism does not wave the flag and bury its head in the sand. Rather, it stems from the belief that it is possible to regret parts of your country's past, but love the opportunity you have to shape its future.
I once heard someone say that conservatives look at America the way a 3- year-old looks at its parents, and that liberals look at America the way an adult looks at its parents. I'm not sure that either situation is ideal, or even true. After all, ours is a country of the people, by the people, for the people, and if we want to keep it that way, we can't look at America as an authority figure -- we have to look at it as a child we are raising.
Right now, we are raising a nation caught in its "terrible twos." But as we know, all children have the potential for greatness -- all they need is a little direction. "

So, what does everybody think? Is it right for us to be "proud" to be Americans?

Here's the link to that column if you're interested:

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

DATA: The One Campaign

I'm guessing most of you have heard about the crusade that Bono of U2 has been on lately to raise awareness about AIDS and poverty in Africa. I have to be honest, when his efforts first hit the media I was a little skeptical of his motives and sincerity. I think part of it was the fact that he sported his ridiculous sunglasses even in photo-ops with government and public officials. I wondered how much of it was just another example of unquenchable celebrity/rock-star ego trips and attention craving. Still, I guess I figured even if his motives were not totally altruistic, at least he was using his enormous popularity and influence in a positive way.

My perception of what this crusade is all about changed dramatically a couple of weeks ago. Of all places, I caught him on Bill O'Reilly's show at the Republican Convention. He talked about how much good has been accomplished already and how much potential exists to do much more. He discussed the pleasantly-surprising allies he has established in the organization's (DATA - Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) efforts - such as Jesse Helms, who have lobbied Congress and the President strongly for increased aid to Africa. He then when into a spiel, that I must confess, moved me. He was literally pleading with viewers to write their legislators and join up with DATA's efforts to quelch the AIDS crisis in Africa. Whether Bono started this whole quest altruistically or not, he is appears nothing but sincere now that he has spent extensive time and effort in Africa. He talked about his gratefulness to President Bush for agreeing to increase AIDS aid to Africa (even though the increase fell immensely short of requests), even in small steps. He then, instead of criticizing Bush or America (which he could have easily done) for it's relatively light contribution to solving the crisis, went on to talk about how great America can be. He passionately asserted that this is America's prime opportunity to restore unity in the world and show it's greatness and leadership again (as it has done many times in the past). He asked viewers to imagine the consequences if America addresses and leads the world in ending the AIDS/Poverty crisis, a crisis with consequences for all of us, and leads in restoring unity and greatness in a moral cause that every human can get behind. He emphasized that, while daunting, such accomplishments are closer within our reach than most realize.

A couple times O'Reilly tried to stir the pot with comments about impossibility and idealism. Bono didn't bite. He just continued impassionately pleading, on the verge of becoming emotional, for us to get behind this effort and save those children. He even had O'Reilly into it by the time he was done. I'm telling you, it was persuasive. The guy seemed purely sincere and completely engulfed and overtaken is this cause. I think he just may be on to something. Not only is coming to the aid of our suffering brothers and sisters the right thing to do, but it could serve to stabilize the world and bring nations together in reconciliation likely faster than anything else. It might also have a very positive effect on suppressing terrorism and terrorist sympathizors in the region. The AIDS crisis is an awful mess, but the anti-retroviral drugs are out there and getting better and better. The problem is paying for and distributing them - especially where generics are unavailable. The cost of providing enough drugs to the whole continent is not outside the realm of possibility. Every 7 seconds in Africa, one child dies of a preventable disease. 6300 people in Africa die of AIDS each day. Americans can help save the lives of over 2.3 million AIDS sufferers a year (This is according to the data available the the organization's website -I'll try to verify it). Anyway, I thought it would be good to post these thoughts here. I am also considering getting an ad banner up for DATA: The One Campaign on the blog. This does seem like a great cause to get behind on an individual level, as well as on a community level. The website has information and materials for getting your faith-based organizations involved in projects and fundraising events, or involving student-run organizations in drives and projects. So, give it a look and post your thoughts about all this. Is it the answer world disunity? If not, is it justified by the very nature of what it's attempting to accomplish? I think probably so.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Sean Hannity hits Utah!--A minute by minute account

7:40pm My wife and I arrive. We think we're early but the heavy security causes the line to back up.

8:20 We're in!

8:40 Still waiting for the show to start. They've still got 3,000 people to let in though, so it could be awhile.

8:46 There's a disagreement behind us because one couple insists they're in row 5 even though it's really row 4. It takes several people referring them to the big painted "4" at the end of the row before they laugh and go "Woops!"

9:00 It's SEAN! He's singing the National Anthem as he enters the stage. He spends the next 5 minutes bashing Michael Moore whom he calls a "gutless coward." Apparently Sean "Hero" Hannity wanted to debate Moore and "dedicate all the money to a children's charity," but Moore refused!

9:05 "All the liberals in the audience stand up. We don't hate you. You can move into our neighborhoods...if you can afford it!" [Not sure what this means but I think Hannity hates poor people.]

9:20 Ted Kennedy alcoholic joke--Hey I didn't know we had Jay Leno up there!

9:22 "John Kerry has raised taxes 98 times in 20 years. He has personally raised taxes $2.3 trillion!" The source on this is apparently Hannity's limitless knowledge.

9:24 The media is not "fair and balanced" [ooh, sweet Fox News plug Sean!]; "What does John Kerry know about the forged documents on 60 Minutes" [Nothing Sean! But way to insinuate some guilt!]

9:25 Communism bad! [Much applause]

9:30 Terrorists AND Nazis bad! [Much applause]

9:32 Ted Kennedy alcoholic joke #2--ooooh, Ted you got zinged!

9:33 Kerry voted against everything our military has ever done! Phenomenal! Thanks Sean!

9:35 "Global test? I tell you what, I don't need Jacque Chirac's permission to defend my country!" [Much applause] Hey, was Sean's blatant dishonesty evident before? Because it's in full force now!

9:40 Monica Lewinsky joke--Hey-O! Get this guy on Letterman, now!

9:42 Sean leads a "Flip-Flop" cheer from one side of the arena to the other. The 55 year old woman in front of me looks particularly funny.

9:45 Audio montage of Kerry saying conflicting things--Ouch. Lots of short quotes taken out of context can be damning! The fact that anybody says Michael Moore is more dishonest than this guy makes me lose whatever faith I have left in humanity.

9:50 "I see a lot of Ronald Reagan in George W. Bush." So do I Sean, that's why I'm not voting for him.

9:51 "Bush has liberated 50 million people throughout Iraq and Afghanistan" [Standing Ovation, many shouts of "Sean you the man!"]

Ed. note: Is it just me or is every conflicting statement by Kerry about WMD's separated by the revelation that there ARE NO WMD's? It seems to me that the guy is admitting that the country made a mistake. Something I've never seen Bush do.

9:55 "I've started treating callers like I'm Therese Heinz-Kerry on the air: 'Shut up!' 'Shove it!'" Hey Sean, why don't you try acting like Dick Cheney? I think a few "F*** off's" would probably go over real well on KSL 1160.

10:00 Call up "Vinnie," the liberal audience member he's been picking on all night, to the stage to make him look dumb. Wow Sean, you're bullying tactics are so awe-inspiring!

10:04 "I didn't grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth." Dude's just one of us man.

10:15 "The Democrats spread lies through their ads." Audience member: "What, like the Swift Boat Veterans ads?" Sean: "No sir. Those men told the truth." Wow. Way to further your agenda by repeating claims that have been seriously contested you unbelievable jackass.

I'll be back later with some highlights from the Q&A.

Monday, October 11, 2004

New Look?

Hey. Yo. Hey.
How do you like the new look? It doesn't have to be permanent. I haven't put the links up yet in case you all revolt against this template. I thought was a nice, sleek change. Plus I've found a couple of imbeciles out there using our old template.
Let me know where you stand on this, suggestions?

Also, before I put the new links up - are there any links that any of you would really like put up? The political links were slightly left leaning. What with a couple of right-wing nut jobs here now - I guess we should open it up for suggestions. Sorry, Rush Limbaugh is out of the question.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Moore's Underwear Crimes

This is too much.

The Michigan Republican Party has asked prosecutors in 4 counties to prosecute Michael Moore for “buying votes.” The basis for their complaint? Moore has been committing Michigan college students to vote while handing out free “clean underwear” and Tostidos on campuses.

The county prosecutors have predictably rejected the MRP’s requests. One county prosecutor stated "Although we are a small prosecutor's office, we are extremely busy prosecuting serious criminal activity...I choose to devote our resources to prosecuting those who are delivering cocaine to our young people rather than underwear."

Moore himself responded, "It's ironic that Republicans have no problem with allowing assault weapons out on our streets, yet they don't want to put clean underwear in the hands of our slacker youth,"



Who said mainstream media isn't fair?

OFF THE TABLE: "Bare and Valanced" Discussion

Interesting... we'll have to see how this pans out and if it holds up.

Friday, October 08, 2004

I don't get it..?

OFF THE TABLE: "Bare and Valanced" Discussion

I am what you would call a "news junkie." And trust me when I say that I read most all of the reputable stuff, regardless of the sources perceived image. When you take a look at my Favorites in IE you'll see sites ranging from MSNBC, to FoxNews, to CNN, to Michael Moore's site, to the Drudge Report, to local papers like the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News (sorry... little plug for my home town there ;)...), and to my favorite blog site of all: OFF THE TABLE. :)

My wife constantly teases me because the first thing I do in the morning when I wake up and usually the last thing I do at night before going to bed is to go to my computer and check my email along with the latest developments in the news. This is probably the best example I can give you of my obsession and love affair with the news.

Let me preempt what I am about to write with the following. I cannot attest to what some low level administration aid, or republican player in back woods Montana may have said about the subject that follows. But, as far as the key figures in our current administration are concerned, I catch or read about their speeches, interviews, etc. as often as possible, and I'm having a hard time following the democrats on this one.

For months, maybe even a year now, I have been asking EVERYONE I know, who I believe even somewhat follows politics, to explain how so many people got the impression that one of our reasons for attacking Iraq was that our administration claimed that they were responsible for, or at least tied to 9/11. Dude can confirm this because I have asked him about this at least once, if not more than once. Without fail, the people I ask to help me on this issue seem to be about as lost as I am.

I, for one, have an extremely hard time remembering any speech, let alone a major policy speech from our administration that indicated that there was an Iraq 9/11 connection. However, if you only paid attention to the mainstream media or the democrats, you would have no choice but to believe that this was a direct assertion and given reason for attacking Iraq by our current administration. I believe, unfortunately, that a great many Americans turn to one or maybe two sources for their news, because I cannot see how else so many people would believe in this Iraq/911 deal. After the VP debates this last Tuesday, Chris Matthews on MSNBC claimed that 40% of Americans believe in the Iraq/911 connection.

At the VP debate, this past Tuesday, both Cheney and Edwards got in their shots, and both performed relatively well. Cheney knew his stuff and was confident. I think Edwards also held his own on the knowledge front, and was pretty quick on his feet. And of course, both threw out some mis-information. Examples include, Cheney's claims on things like Kerry's voting record for taxes and having never met Edwards, and Edward's claims about Haliburton and the Iraq/911 connection claim.

While I'm tempted to carry on in this blog about who's mis-information was worse, I want to focus on the Iraq and 9/11 ties issue.

When Edward's brought up Iraq/911 I wanted to puke, given how much I have looked into this and asked others about this for so long now, without resolution. However, to my shock, in the after debate commentary, Chris Matthews brought out a Meet the Press quote which indicated that Cheney had indeed made the connection. While the quote didn't appear perfectly clear ("If we're successful in Iraq ... we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11." Cheney), you could see how the connection was made, and I started to wonder if this is where all of this excitement about Iraq/911 really got started.

HOWEVER, it is now being reported by several news outlets that this Cheney quote has been thrown out there out of context. In reality, there was a follow up question to that quote, where Cheney was asked if he meant to imply that Iraq was tied to 9/11, and Cheney said: "I was careful not to say that. ... The relevance for 9/11 is that what 9/11 marked was the beginning of a struggle in which the terrorists come at us and strike us here on our home territory. And it's a global operation."

Now I'm back to where I left off before first hearing that quote Tuesday evening. Why do the mainstream media and the democrats INSIST on perpetuating a claim that tenuous at best? Secondly, why are there SO MANY Americans who take these guys at face value. I don't even take my own party at face value all the time! One of the reasons I stick with them, however, is that in my opinion they are right more often than the democrats. :)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

So why is no WMD so bad anyway?

OFF THE TABLE: "Bare and Valanced" Discussion

John Gibson posted a nice, but stinging, piece today on (,2933,134811,00.html).

The gist of his column: No WMD's? We must have gotten there just in time.

It never ceases to amaze me that Democrats want to ignore the fact that when Kerry and Edwards voted for the war, prior to voting against the additional and necessary funding, it was perfectly clear that our intention was to invade Iraq. Sure Kerry would love to spin that situation now, and claim that he would not have invaded (at least not so quickly), but that is a hard claim to really back up. If we want to be honest with ourselves and each other, then I think we need to recognize the fact that the authorization to go to war was intended for just that purpose.

Kerry, in the last and first debate, said he would have given inspectors more time. My question is how much more time? As if 12+ years wasn't enough time for Saddam to come clean and account for the missing WMD's? Let's not forget... there has yet to be given a clear accounting of the WMD's he once had. Saddam and his regime simply ignored this fact anytime they dumped more worthless documents on the international community.

Going back to Gibson's column from today. I agree, we must assume that we got there in the nick of time!

What we do know at this point in time is that Saddam once had WMD's. Saddam used WMD's on several occasions. Saddam consistently led inspectors on a goose chase when they were in Iraq. Saddam kicked them out. Saddam did not clearly account for his WMD's (for all I know it could just be that they were totally disorganized and had no clue of where this stuff was... the could have said that though...). Saddam retained the capability to start building them in the future. Some of his loyalists and scientists have admitted that he wanted to start making them again when focus on his country was less intense.

As a person who voted for Bush in 2000, and plans to vote for Bush in 2004 am I disappointed with our intelligence community's failures? ABSOLUTELY! Do I even feel skeptical at times that we couldn't have understood the situation better than we claimed to have understood it? ABSOLUTELY! Do I still feel that it is a good thing to have Saddam out of power, and those capabilities seized? ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY!

I am a supporter of the Bush doctrine, meaning if countries harbor or support terrorism in any way, they are against the United States (and frankly, the free world at large). In my opinion, Iraq's known terrorist training camps in the north of the country, Saddam's support of Palestinian suicide bombers, and yes, even Iraq's vague ties to Al Qaida is enough to put them on that enemy list.

Finally, let's not forget the 12 or 13 UN resolutions this guy essentially crapped on while in power. He had little respect for the agreements he made, let alone the sanctions put on his country by the international community.

Leaving him in power would have been about as responsible as leaving your own child with a "supposedly" reformed pedophile. You never trust a psycho (reformed or not) with your or your loved ones' own safety.

So, in my opinion, Gibson got it right today when he said we must have gotten there in the nick of time!