Thursday, October 28, 2004

Eminem, Massad Letter, Elections, Massacre

1) Eminem leads the Revolution at the polls.  This

video is outstanding -- and may gain in prominence if
next week devolves into a fiasco:

2) This is a letter I wrote to Columbia University's
president, in support of Joseph Massad:

Dear President Bollinger:

I write this message to you as both a Columbia alum
(SIPA '90) and as a fellow member of the academic

I understand that Joseph Massad is currently
experiencing a public campaign to expel him from the
academe for his intellectual positions on what are
admittedly very sensitive issues.

Last year we invited Dr. Massad to engage in a debate
with Dr. Jonathan Adelman of the University of Denver
at Loyola University of New Orleans. Link:
. At that debate, Dr. Massad argued his positions
with the utmost of professionalism and intellectual
rigor -- and much of the audience felt that his
groundbreaking arguments concerning the
transformational power of Zionism on the nature of
anti-Semitism in the 20th century to be quite

In my opinion, it would be a serious breach of
academic freedom if Dr. Massad's status were
endangered in any way by this public campaign against
him -- and I feel that it is your duty as the head of
Columbia University to preserve that freedom of
intellectual inquiry in the face of such orchestrated
external hostility.

Yours sincerely,

Nabil Al-Tikriti, Ph.D, MIA '90

Nabil Al-Tikriti
Assistant Professor
Department of History
University of Mary Washington
1301 College Ave.
Fredericksburg, VA 22401

3) This is a link to the latest issue online of MERIP,
which has a series of articles on Iraq:

4) For the US election nut:

5) Potential Chaos to Come:,1280,-4578561,00.html

If Electoral College Fails, House Decides
Wednesday October 27, 2004 3:31 PM

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - One near-certainty in this election
of many uncertainties is that if the Electoral College
can't pick a winner, George W. Bush will stay in the
White House. That's because the House of
Representatives is and will probably remain in
Republican hands.

The 12th Amendment, adopted in 1804 after the House
took seven days in 1801 to break a tie and make Thomas
Jefferson president, states that when there's no
electoral vote majority, the House elects the
president and the Senate the vice president.

In the 200 years since, what are called contingent
elections have happened only twice: in 1825, when the
House chose John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson
after an election fragmented by third-party
candidates, and in 1837, when the Senate settled a
disputed vice-presidential race.

The odds are still good that Bush or John Kerry will
secure 270 electoral votes, out of 538 cast, when the
House and Senate meet in joint session on Jan. 6,
2005, to officially tally the results.

But in the muddled 2000 election Bush edged Al Gore by
271-266, and there are several scenarios that could
keep either candidate from reaching 270 this time.

If that happens, there's little question that the
House would choose Bush. The newly elected House would
do the voting, and the makeup of that body is not
expected to change much from now. Republicans hold 227
of the 435 seats and, more importantly, have a
majority in 30 state delegations.

The 12th Amendment specifies that each state gets one
vote in a contingent election. Most assume that
lawmakers will vote with their party, meaning that
Florida, with Republicans currently holding 17 of 24
seats, and Ohio, with 12 of 18 seats held by
Republicans, would probably go to Bush regardless of
the popular vote.

``The pressures would simply be enormous to vote your
party allegiance,'' said Rep. David Price, D-N.C., who
has pushed for changes in the election system.

The prospects would be no brighter for Kerry if
lawmakers were to vote in line with their states. In
2000, even though Gore captured more popular votes,
Bush carried 30 states.

With Ralph Nader's support hovering around 1 percent,
there's no chance this time of a third-party candidate
preventing anyone from getting a majority.

But it is possible that the electors will split
269-269 when they meet in their states on Dec. 13 to
register their votes. Also possible is a ``faithless''
elector confounding the process by either withholding
a vote or voting for someone else.

Electoral College electors are loyalists chosen by
their party and rarely - only eight times since 1948 -
stray from the chosen candidate. But this time every
vote counts, and already one West Virginia Republican
elector has suggested he might not vote for Bush.

The biggest concern is a repeat of 2000 when the
outcome hinged on the protracted legal battle over the
winner in Florida. This time, both parties have
thousands of lawyers watching for voter irregularities
and ready to file legal challenges in states where the
outcome may be in doubt.

The Congressional Research Service issued reports in
January 2001 and again last September educating
members on the intricacies of the electoral college
system. The latest analysis pointed out the importance
of a Colorado referendum that would divide the state's
electors proportionally, depending on the vote count,
rather than the winner-take-all system used by almost
every state.

Lawsuits would be likely if proportional allocation
appeared to reverse the nationwide results, the CRS
said, ``and might lead to a prolonged and bitter
dispute, such as occurred following the 2000

Price, hoping to avoid what could be multiple
Florida-like situations, last month introduced
legislation that would give states with contested
elections an extra three weeks, until Jan. 3, to
conduct recounts before state electors have to meet to
certify results. But the bill isn't going anywhere
this year even though disputes over such issues as new
registrants and provisional ballots are waiting to

``There's a higher level of suspicion and vigilance
this time,'' Price said.

There's still one more scenario that can't be totally
discounted. If Democrats pick up two Senate seats next
Tuesday, they will regain control of the Senate when
lawmakers convene on Jan. 6.

Without a clear Electoral College winner on that day,
the country could end up with President Bush,
re-elected by the House, being joined by a new
Senate-picked vice president, John Edwards.

6) Negligent US forces to blame for massacre of
recruits, says Allawi [I imagine the draftees were
meant to get an escort, and that was blown off for
other priorities...]:
By Kim Sengupta in Baghdad
27 October 2004

Iyad Allawi, Iraq's interim Prime Minister, said
yesterday that the gross negligence of American forces
had led to the massacre of 49 Iraqi army recruits by
insurgents on Sunday.

The vehement criticism from Mr Allawi, who owes his
position to Washington, was an indication of the anger
among Iraqis about the killings.

The soldiers, who were on their way home from an
American-run training camp during the Muslim holy
month of Ramadan, were unarmed and unprotected when
they were attacked in their minibuses.

Mr Allawi also publicly rebuffed claims by the US and
British governments that the security situation was
improving. Instead, he told the Iraqi National
Council, which oversees the government, that the
violence racking the country was likely to worsen.

The Prime Minister said that he was setting up an
immediate inquiry into how the insurgents were able to
ambush, capture and execute the soldiers with such

Senior Iraqi officials have said that there is growing
evidence that the recruitshad been betrayed by fellow
members of the Iraqi military.

Iraqi officials have complained that the US
authorities do little checking of applicants to the
forces because of Washington's desire for speed in
replacing American and other Allied troops.

Members of the Bush administration have claimed the
recruitment and training of Iraqi forces is on
schedule and that will enable US troops to start going

Mr Allawi said: "It was a heinous crime, the outcome
of great negligence on the part of some of the
coalition forces. It seems there was some sort of
determination on doing Iraq and the Iraqi people harm
... You should expect an escalation in terrorist

The Prime Minister's grim assessment came on the day
that British troops based in Basra in southern Iraq
began their move to join American operations in the

Yesterday's deployment to an area around Iskandariyah,
about 20 miles south-west of Baghdad, by an armoured
column will be followed by the rest of the 850-strong
force in the next 48 hours.

The British troops will free US Marines to join other
American troops for an assault on the rebel city of

In another sign of discord between the Americans and
the interim government, Hoshiyar Zebari, the Foreign
Minister, criticised April's attack by US forces on
Fallujah as "mismanaged".

He accused the US authorities of failing to talk to
local leaders when carrying out the assault, which was
subsequently halted with the Americans withdrawing and
leaving the city to the rebels.

The US military said yesterday that a senior associate
of of the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had
been killed in Fallujah in a "precision" air strike.
Local people, however, insisted that an empty house
was destroyed.

Mr Zebari said his government was still seeking a
political solution to the crisis. Officials at
Fallujah's Mujaheddin Shura or council claimed,
however, that the government had ended peace talks
after continuing to make the "impossible" demand that
people in the city hand over Zarqawi, the Jordanian
militant behind the beheadings of a number of foreign
hostages, including the Briton Ken Bigley.

US troops cut roads and reinforced their cordon around
Fallujah, with some units moving into the southern
edges of the city.

Unconfirmed reports by local people claimed that a
number of civilian drivers had been shot dead at

Elsewhere, two Turkish drivers were killed and a
Croatian driver was missing after gunmen opened fire
at a convoy near Mosul in the north.

Two car bombs, aimed at an American military convoy,
exploded in the city, injuring two people. In Baquba,
the scene of the killings of the army recruits,
roadside bombs killed a policeman.

7) This is a counter UK analysis sent by one of the
list's contrarian readers. I differ with the writer
on one significant point -- the extremists that he
says are rooting for a Kerry victory are actually
rooting for a Bush victory. Why? Because that will
ultimately weaken the US due to internal division,
economic mismanagement, and imperial overstretch. In
an nutshell, America's most extreme enemies want Bush
to win...:


The great issue in the 2004 election - it seems to me
as an Englishman - is, How seriously does the United
States take its role as a world leader, and how far
will it make sacrifices, and risk unpopularity, to
discharge this duty with success and honor? In short,
this is an election of the greatest significance, for
Americans and all the rest of us. It will redefine
what kind of a country the United States is, and how
far the rest of the world can rely upon her to
preserve the general safety and protect our

When George W. Bush was first elected, he stirred none
of these feelings, at home or abroad. He seems to have
sought the presidency more for dynastic than for any
other reasons. September 11 changed all that
dramatically. It gave his presidency a purpose and a
theme, and imposed on him a mission. Now, we can all
criticize the way he has pursued that mission. He has
certainly made mistakes in detail, notably in
underestimating the problems that have inevitably
followed the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in
Iraq, and overestimating the ability of U.S. forces to
tackle them. On the other hand, he has been absolutely
right in estimating the seriousness of the threat
international terrorism poses to the entire world and
on the need for the United States to meet this threat
with all the means at its disposal and for as long as
may be necessary. Equally, he has placed these
considerations right at the center of his policies and
continued to do so with total consistency, adamantine
determination, and remarkable courage, despite sneers
and jeers, ridicule and venomous opposition, and much

There is something grimly admirable about his stoicism
in the face of reverses, which reminds me of other
moments in history: the dark winter Washington faced
in 1777-78, a time to "try men's souls," as Thomas
Paine put it, and the long succession of military
failures Lincoln had to bear and explain before he
found a commander who could take the cause to victory.
There is nothing glamorous about the Bush presidency
and nothing exhilarating. It is all hard pounding, as
Wellington said of Waterloo, adding: "Let us see who
can pound the hardest." Mastering terrorism fired by a
religious fanaticism straight from the Dark Ages
requires hard pounding of the dullest, most
repetitious kind, in which spectacular victories are
not to be looked for, and all we can expect are
"blood, toil, tears, and sweat." However, something
persuades me that Bush - with his grimness and
doggedness, his lack of sparkle but his enviable
concentration on the central issue - is the president
America needs at this difficult time. He has, it seems
to me, the moral right to ask American voters to give
him the mandate to finish the job he has started.

This impression is abundantly confirmed, indeed made
overwhelming, when we look at the alternative. Senator
Kerry has not made much of an impression in Europe, or
indeed, I gather, in America. Many on the Continent
support him, because they hate Bush, not because of
any positive qualities Kerry possesses. Indeed we know
of none, and there are six good reasons that he should
be mistrusted. First, and perhaps most important, he
seems to have no strong convictions about what he
would do if given office and power. The content and
emphasis of his campaign on terrorism, Iraq, and
related issues have varied from week to week. But they
seem always to be determined by what his advisers,
analyzing the polls and other evidence, recommend,
rather than by his own judgment and convictions. In
other words, he is saying, in effect: "I do not know
what to do but I will do what you, the voters, want."
This may be an acceptable strategy, on some issues and
at certain times. It is one way you can interpret
democracy. But in a time of crisis, and on an issue
involving the securit y of the world, what is needed
is leadership. Kerry is abdicating that duty and
proposing, instead, that the voters should lead and he
will follow.

Second, Kerry's personal character has, so far,
appeared in a bad light. He has always presented
himself, for the purpose of Massachusetts
vote-getting, as a Boston Catholic of presumably Irish
origins. This side of Kerry is fundamentally
dishonest. He does not follow Catholic teachings,
certainly in his views on such issues as abortion -
especially when he feels additional votes are to be
won by rejecting Catholic doctrine. This is bad
enough. But since the campaign began it has emerged
that Kerry's origins are not in the Boston-Irish
community but in Germanic Judaism. Kerry knew this all
along, and deliberately concealed it for political
purposes. If a man will mislead about such matters, he
will mislead about anything.

There is, thirdly, Kerry's long record of
contradictions and uncertainties as a senator and his
apparent inability to pursue a consistent policy on
major issues. Fourth is his posturing over his
military record, highlighted by his embarrassing
pseudo-military salute when accepting the nomination.
Fifth is his disturbing lifestyle, combining liberal -
even radical - politics with being the husband, in
succession, of two heiresses, one worth $300 million
and the other $1 billion. The Kerrys have five
palatial homes and a personal jet, wealth buttressed
by the usual team of lawyers and financial advisers to
provide the best methods of tax-avoidance. Sixth and
last is the Kerry team: who seem to combine
considerable skills in electioneering with a variety
of opinions on all key issues.

Indeed, it is when one looks at Kerry's closest
associates that one's doubts about his suitability
become certainties. Kerry may dislike his
running-mate, and those feelings may be reciprocated -
but that does not mean a great deal. More important is
that the man Kerry would have as his vice president is
an ambulance-chasing lawyer of precisely the ki nd the
American system has spawned in recent decades, to its
great loss and peril, and that is already establishing
a foothold in Britain and other European countries.
This aggressive legalism - what in England we call
"vexatious litigation" - is surely a characteristic
America does not want at the top of its constitutional

Of Kerry's backers, maybe the most prominent is George
Soros, a man who made his billions through the kind of
unscrupulous manipulations that (in Marxist folklore)
characterize "finance capitalism." This is the man who
did everything in his power to wreck the currency of
Britain, America's principal ally, during the EU
exchange-rate crisis - not out of conviction but
simply to make vast sums of money. He has also used
his immense resources to interfere in the domestic
affairs of half a dozen other countries, some of them
small enough for serious meddling to be hard to
resist. One has to ask: Why is a man like Soros so
eager to see Kerry in the White House? The question is
especially pertinent since he is not alone among the
superrich wishing to see Bush beaten. There are
several other huge fortunes backing Kerry.

Among the wide spectrum of prominent Bush-haters there
is the normal clutter of Hollywood performers and
showbiz self-advertisers. That is to be expected. More
noticeable, this time, are the large numbers of
novelists, playwrights, and moviemakers who have lined
up to discharge venomous salvos at the incumbent. I
don't recall any occasion, certainly not since the age
of FDR, when so much partisan election material has
been produced by intellectuals of the Left, not only
in the United States but in Europe, especially in
Britain, France, and Germany. These intellectuals -
many of them with long and lugubrious records of
supporting lost left-wing causes, from the Soviet
empire to Castro's aggressive adventures in Africa,
and who have in their time backed Mengistu in
Ethiopia, Qaddafi in Libya, Pol Pot in Cambodia, and
the Sandinistas in Nicaragua - seem to have a p
ersonal hatred of Bush that defies rational analysis.

Behind this front line of articulate Bushicides (one
left-wing columnist in Britain actually offered a
large sum of money to anyone who would assassinate the
president) there is the usual cast of Continental
suspects, led by Chirac in France and the
superbureaucrats of Brussels. As one who regularly
reads Le Monde, I find it hard to convey the intensity
of the desire of official France to replace Bush with
Kerry. Anti-Americanism has seldom been stronger in
Continental Europe, and Bush seems to personify in his
simple, uncomplicated self all the things these people
most hate about America - precisely because he is so
American. Anti-Americanism, like anti-Semitism, is
not, of course, a rational reflex. It is, rather, a
mental disease, and the Continentals are currently
suffering from a virulent spasm of the infection, as
always happens when America exerts strong and
unbending leadership.

Behind this second line of adversaries there is a far
more sinister third. All the elements of anarchy and
unrest in the Middle East and Muslim Asia and Africa
are clamoring and praying for a Kerry victory. The
mullahs and the imams, the gunmen and their arms
suppliers and paymasters, all those who stand to
profit - politically, financially, and emotionally -
from the total breakdown of order, the eclipse of
democracy, and the defeat of the rule of law, want to
see Bush replaced. His defeat on November 2 will be
greeted, in Arab capitals, by shouts of triumph from
fundamentalist mobs of exactly the kind that greeted
the news that the Twin Towers had collapsed and their
occupants been exterminated.

I cannot recall any election when the enemies of
America all over the world have been so unanimous in
hoping for the victory of one candidate. That is the
overwhelming reason that John Kerry must be defeated,
heavily and comprehensively

Faith Abuse: When God Becomes a Campaing Ploy

By Arianna Huffington

This is my last column before Election Day. With less than a week to go, I plan on doing everything in my power to defeat George W. Bush (need a ride to the polls?). Then I'm going to get down on my knees and pray to a higher power.

As someone for whom faith is incredibly important, and who regularly prays for all the people and things that matter to me, I'm hopeful that God is as appalled as I am with the way His name is constantly being taken in vain on the Bush campaign trail, and with how the president is abusing his faith to justify to himself and to the world his disastrous policies.

Lord knows there's a very long list of things to be angry with Bush about, but this one has moved to the top of my personal hit parade because, as Catholic theologians teach us, "The corruption of the best is the worst." And George W. is truly corrupting faith and dragging it into the political gutter. In two fundamental ways:

First, he's using it as a spiritual inoculation against uncertainty and complexity.

Ron Suskind's recent piece in the New York Times Magazine painted a chilling portrait of a presidency in which thoughtful analysis and moral questioning have been replaced by "God-given" certainty, and where facts and open debate have become an anathema.

Suskind reveals a president who uses his faith to numb himself against reality. It anesthetizes him in the same way a stiff drink — OK, 20 stiff drinks — used to, and allows him to drown out the voices of doubt. Yet great thinkers throughout history have extolled the virtues of doubt. As Paul Tillich put it: "Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith."

But not in the Bush White House, where doubters are treated as traitors, and inconvenient facts are the work of the Devil — because facts can lead to questioning, and questioning undermines faith. And that would be blasphemy in an Oval Office where unbending resolve has become a holy sacrament. No wonder Bush is unwilling to admit to even a single mistake.

The second way the president is corrupting his faith is by using it as a marketing tool designed to garner support among the over 60 million Americans who identify themselves as evangelical — particularly the 4 million born-again voters who stayed home in 2000.

Nowhere is this blending of church and campaign more evident than in "George W. Bush: Faith in the White House," a DVD being distributed to tens of thousands of America's churches.

Although not officially the work of the Bush-Cheney campaign, it obviously has its approval, and indeed was screened at a party for Christian conservatives hosted by the campaign at the GOP convention in New York.

In the documentary, President Bush is presented as a man with "the moral clarity of an old-fashioned biblical prophet" — and is shown sharing a beatific split screen with the Son of God himself.

So, in 2004, Jesus is not only the president's favorite philosopher — he's his surrogate running mate. I'm surprised we haven't seen any "Bush-Christ 2004" bumper stickers yet. It would make for a heck of an October surprise.

All this pious posturing is also being used as a cudgel with which to attack John Kerry, portraying him as a sorry second in the faith sweepstakes.

Forget that Kerry carries a Bible and a rosary with him on the campaign trail, used to be an altar boy, and has said, "My faith affects everything that I do." The Bushies have made it seem as if they are running against Joe Pagan. Just check out the "Kerry: Wrong for Catholics" page on the official Bush-Cheney campaign Web site.

What's next? Attack ads from Altar Boys for Truth claiming Kerry never actually swallowed the body of Christ during communion?

What the president calls faith is actually nothing of the sort. It is fanaticism, pure and simple. The defining trait of the fanatic is an utter refusal to allow anything as piddling as evidence to get in the way of an unshakable belief.

This zealot's mindset is what allows President Bush to take in the death and destruction in Iraq and see them as "freedom on the march." And it's also what allows Abu Zarqawi and his followers to coldly put a bullet in the back of the head of four-dozen unarmed Iraqi Army recruits because they are "apostates."

"Either you're with us or you're against us" plainly cuts both ways.

"This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about al-Qaida and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy," explained Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy advisor to Reagan and Bush 41. "He understands them because he's just like them."

I pray that every American of real faith keeps this in mind when stepping into the voting booth on Election Day.


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