Hmmmm —

“Islam has made several trips to the United States in recent years, including one in May for a charity event and to promote a DVD of his 1976 MajiKat tour. He donated half the royalties from his most recent boxed set to the Sept. 11 Fund to help victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.” So then… Why exactly was it necessary to deport him THIS MONTH, in a breathless morning news headline-dominating scarefest, and not in May or during any of his previous “recent” trips to the US?

Emblairessment —

I have a friend who, for awhile, kept pointing to Blair’s endorsement of the Iraq invasion as “proof” that Bush and the neocons were right to pursue it, because Blair – afterall – is an intelligent and reasonable man, not given to reckless impulses that disregard the advice of experts and the lessons of history. Then again

“Tony Blair was last night forced on to the defensive over Iraq after explosive leaked documents revealed that he was warned a year before the invasion that a war could send the country into meltdown. The Prime Minister was advised by officials that the country risked ‘reverting to type’ – with a succession of military coups installing a dictator who could then go on to acquire his own weapons of mass destruction – and that British troops would be trapped in Iraq ‘for many years’.

Even his own foreign policy adviser, Sir David Manning, concluded in a private note that President Bush had no answer to the big questions about the invasion – including ‘what happens on the morning after?’ The memos, showing how detailed military planning was even a year before the invasion, will prompt renewed questions about whether better planning for the aftermath of war could have prevented the bloodshed now engulfing Iraq.”

Election Protection Volunteer Opportunities —

For those who have the resources and flexibility, here’s an opportunity to PROTECT THIS ELECTION! Hats off to my friends DC and CW who are taking their vacation in Florida so that they can volunteer in Dade County on Election Day!

Words so good they hurt —

I’m pretty sure I linked to this piece by Hal Crowther before, but instead of hunting for that post, I’m going to link to it again. It’s one of the most eloquent pieces I’ve read on the realities of this election. Here’s a great bit of it, but please read the whole thing:

These are facts, not partisan rhetoric. Do any of them even make you restless? The cynical game these shape-shifters have been playing in the Middle East is too Byzantine to unravel in 1,000 pages of text. But the hypocrisy of the White House is palpable, and beggars belief. If there’s one American who actually believes that Operation Iraqi Freedom was about democracy for the poor Iraqis, then you, my friend, are too dangerously stupid to be allowed near a voting booth.

Does it bother you even a little that the personal fortunes of all four Bush brothers, including the president and the governor, were acquired about a half step ahead of the district attorney, and that the royal family of Saudi Arabia invested $1.476 billion in those and other Bush family enterprises? Or, as Paul Krugman points out, that it’s much easier to establish links between the Bush and bin Laden families than any between the bin Ladens and Saddam Hussein. Do you know about Ahmad Chalabi, the administration’s favorite Iraqi and current agent in Baghdad, whose personal fortune was established when he embezzled several hundred million from his own bank in Jordan and fled to London to avoid 22 years at hard labor? That’s just a sampling from my haystack. Maybe I can reach you as an environmentalist, one who resents the gutting of key provisions in the Clean Air Act? My own Orange County, N.C., chiefly a rural area, was recently added to a national register of counties with dangerously polluted air. You say you vote for the president because you’re a conservative. Are you sure? I thought conservatives believed in civil liberties, a weak federal executive, an inviolable Constitution, a balanced budget and an isolationist foreign policy. George Bush has an attorney general who drives the ACLU apoplectic and a vice president who demands more executive privilege (for his energy séances) than any elected official has ever received. The president wants a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage from homosexuals, of all things. Between tax cuts for his high-end supporters and three years playing God and Caesar in the Middle East, George Bush has simply emptied America’s wallet with a $480 billion federal deficit projected for 2004 and the tab on Iraq well over $100 billion and running. “A lot of so-called conservatives today don’t know what the word means,” Barry Goldwater said in 1994, when the current cult of right-wing radicals and “neocons” had begun to define and assert themselves. Goldwater was my first political hero, before I was old enough to read his flaws. But his was the conservatism of the wolf — the lone wolf — and this is the conservatism of sheep.

All it takes to make a Bush conservative is a few slogans from talk radio and pickup truck bumpers, a sneer at “liberals” and maybe a name-dropping nod to Edmund Burke or John Locke, whom most of them have never read. Sheep and sheep only could be herded by a ludicrous but not harmless cretin like Rush Limbaugh, who has just compared the sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners to “a college fraternity prank” (and who once called Chelsea Clinton “the family dog” — you don’t have to worry about shame when you have no brain).

I don’t think it’s accurate to describe America as polarized between Democrats and Republicans, or between liberals and conservatives. It’s polarized between the people who believe George Bush and the people who do not. Thanks to some contested ballots in a state governed by the president’s brother, a once-proud country has been delivered into the hands of liars, thugs, bullies, fanatics and thieves. The world pities or despises us, even as it fears us. What this election will test is the power of money and media to fool us, to obscure the truth and alter the obvious, to hide a great crime against the public trust under a blood-soaked flag. The most lavishly funded, most cynical, most sophisticated political campaign in human history will be out trolling for fools. I pray to God it doesn’t catch you.”

What happens on November 3rd? —

Here’s what Alternet’s Kim Haddow and Holly Minch say:

If Bush Wins

We may all be tempted to apply for Canadian citizenship in the event that President Bush wins his first election. But a Bush victory means serious work for progressives.

Consider the political positioning of your organization: What can we do to stave off four more years of disaster? If Bush is (re?) elected and you are working to reauthorize the Endangered Species Act, raise the minimum wage, or secure voting rights for convicted felons – you may need to forget federal action and work the grassroots and statehouses even harder. Now is the time for a serious strategy re-assessment.

If Kerry Wins

After the dancing in the streets, after the effects of celebratory champagne, we’ve still got work to do. Many progressives may be tempted to go home and forget about politics for a while. But if we want to make a Kerry win meaningful, we have to be strategic and smart starting November 3rd.

Progressive groups will have a real opportunity to redefine their political positioning. We’ll all have to consider what we need to do to position ourselves to influence the new Administration. How can we position ourselves to see policy victories over the next four years?

And how fast do we need to mobilize to do it? Kerry will be looking for administrative action in the first 100 days to overturn damage done by the Bush administration, and we should be ready to supply him with ideas on the issues that matter to us.

A Kerry win will also mean some fundamental shifts in organizational thinking. Progressive groups will need to evaluate their programs and shift from a defensive posture to a proactive one. Now is the time to retool. Are there issues or campaigns you want to launch in this new environment? This also applies to organizing and messaging.

If No One Wins

There’s a very real possibility that we may experience another cliffhanger. Given how close the margins are expected to be in many states, we may see recounts that drag on for days or weeks. And it may not be just the White House this time around – we may also see recounts in hotly contested Senate races that have the ability to tip the balance of power.

If you are working in a swing state where the election is contested and recounts are hot, for heaven’s sake mobilize! Take a lesson from the 2000 Bush campaign, which turned out supporters, credible talking heads and staged rallies from day one of the Florida recount. Be vocal and visible in case of a recount in your area. Work the media, who will undoubtedly descend upon the story like bees to honey.

There’s more here.

Debates —

Yesterday morning, getting ready for work, I heard a reporter on “Good Morning America!” talking about how brutally divisive this election is, and how deep and heated the sentiments run. He showed a clip of Kerry supporters “beating up” a Bush supporter, and a clip of Bush supporters “beating up” a Kerry supporter, and then said that even the format of the debates specifies that the candidates not be near each other — almost implying they might just come to fisticuffs themselves. No, one suspects the greater issue in the debate format specifications is that Kerry will physically tower over Bush, and the Bush campaign doesn’t want that to be too apparent for too long (in the first round of 2000 debates, if I remember correctly, Bush was given a riser to stand on). It’s remarkably shallow, of course, but in this campaign, macho image does appear to be everything.

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