Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

How can I comment on something like this?

Friday 03 September 2004

To Whom it May Concern,

I found out that my brother, Sergeant Ryan M. Campbell, was dead during a graduate seminar at Emory University on April 29, 2004. Immediately after a uniformed officer knocked at my mother’s door to deliver the message that broke her heart, she called me on my cell phone. She could say nothing but “He’s gone.” I could say nothing but “No.” Over and over again we chanted this refrain to each other over the phone as I made my way across the country to hold her as she wept.

I had made the very same trip in February, cutting classes to spend my brother’s two weeks’ leave from Baghdad with him. Little did I know then that the next time I saw him would be at Arlington National Cemetery. During those days in February, my brother shared with me his fear, his disillusionment, and his anger. “We had all been led to believe that Iraq posed a serious threat to America as well as its surrounding nations,” he said. “We invaded expecting to find weapons of mass destruction and a much more prepared and well-trained Republican Guard waiting for us. It is now a year later, and alas, no weapons of mass destruction or any other real threat, for that matter.”

Ryan was scheduled to complete his one-year assignment to Iraq on April 25. But on April 11, he emailed me to let me know not to expect him in Atlanta for a May visit, because his tour of duty had been involuntarily extended. “Just do me one big favor, ok?” he wrote. “Don’t vote for Bush. No. Just don’t do it. I would not be happy with you.”

Last night, I listened to George W. Bush’s live, televised speech at the Republican National Convention. He spoke to me and my family when he announced, “I have met with parents and wives and husbands who have received a folded flag, and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved. I am awed that so many have used those meetings to say that I am in their prayers and to offer encouragement to me. Where does strength like that come from? How can people so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride? It is because they know their loved one was last seen doing good. Because they know that liberty was precious to the one they lost. And in those military families, I have seen the character of a great nation: decent, and idealistic, and strong.”

This is my reply: Mr. President, I know that you probably still “don’t do body counts,” so you may not know that almost one thousand U.S. troops have died doing what you told them they had to do to protect America. Ryan was Number 832. Liberty was, indeed, precious to the one I lost– so precious that he would rather have gone to prison than back to Iraq in February. Like you, I don’t know where the strength for “such pride” on the part of people “so burdened with sorrow” comes from; maybe I spent it all holding my mother as she wept. I last saw my loved one at the Kansas City airport, staring after me as I walked away. I could see April 29 written on his sad, sand-chapped and sunburned face. I could see that he desperately wanted to believe that if he died, it would be while “doing good,” as you put it. He wanted us to be able to be proud of him. Mr. President, you gave me and my mother a folded flag instead of the beautiful boy who called us “Moms” and “Brookster.” But worse than that, you sold my little brother a bill of goods. Not only did you cheat him of a long meaningful life, but you cheated him of a meaningful death. You are in my prayers, Mr. President, because I think that you need them more than anyone on the face of the planet. But you will never get my vote.

So to whom it may concern: Don’t vote for Bush. No. Just don’t do it. I would not be happy with you.

Brooke M. Campbell
Atlanta, GA

Zell Miller Flip-Flops

From the speeches section of his own Senate webpage – Part of an introduction Zell Miller gave for John Kerry in 2001:

My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation’s authentic heroes, one of this party’s best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend.

He was once a lieutenant governor – but he didn’t stay in that office 16 years, like someone else I know. It just took two years before the people of Massachusetts moved him into the United States Senate in 1984.

In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington.

Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so.

John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment. Business Week magazine named him one of the top pro-technology legislators and made him a member of its “Digital Dozen.”

John was re-elected in 1990 and again in 1996 – when he defeated popular Republican Governor William Weld in the most closely watched Senate race in the country.

John is a graduate of Yale University and was a gunboat officer in the Navy. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three awards of the Purple Heart for combat duty in Vietnam. He later co-founded the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Now 981 American soldiers dead, six times as many as before “Mission Accomplished.”

Still no WMD

Still no sign Iraq was working with Al Qaeda

And, sadly, about 50% of the population seems to think this is a good thing.

The past is prologue

Actual picture from the 1969 Yale Yearbook (including caption):

sucker punch

For an interesting discussion of what this says about the character of president, see here.

Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

Census data, as reported by CNN/Money:

Survey: More Americans in poverty

Census Bureau report says 1.3 million slipped below benchmark; health care coverage also declines.
August 26, 2004: 11:04 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The number of Americans living in poverty jumped by 1.3 million last year as household incomes held steady, the Census Bureau said Wednesday.

The percentage of the U.S. population living in poverty rose to 12.5 percent from 12.1 percent — as the poverty rate among children jumped to its highest level in 10 years. The rate for adults 18-to-64 and 65 and older remained steady.

The bureau also said that the share of aggregate income for the lowest 20 percent of Americans fell to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent.

According to The money spent so far in Iraq (ignoring the thousands of lives) could have funded health insurance for 55 million kids for a year, or funded 1.9 million public housing units. Of course, Halliburton probably wouldn’t have gotten those contracts.

A Quiz from the ‘New Yorker’ Magazine

From New Yorker:

The Thirteenth Hundred Days
by Paul Slansky
Issue of 2004-08-30
Posted 2004-08-23

1. Three of these statements were made by George W. Bush. Which one was made by Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)?

(a) “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

(b) “Tribal sovereignty means that it’s sovereign. You’re a—you’ve been given sovereignty and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity.”

(c) “Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country, and we will help them rid Iraq of these killers.”

(d) “Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security—standing up and defending marriage?”

Who’s who?

2. Alberto Gonzales.
3. Tony Robinson.
4. Steven Galson.
5. Thomas B. Griffith.
6. Devon Largio.
7. Terry Holt.

(a) The Bush federal-appeals-court nominee who practiced law in Utah for four years without a state license.

(b) The college student whose honors thesis found that the Bush Administration offered twenty-three different rationales for the Iraq war.

(c) The federal drug official who rejected the 23-4 recommendation of an advisory panel and refused to allow a morning-after birth-control pill to be sold over the counter.

(d) The former Army interrogation instructor who said of the Abu Ghraib prison photographs, “Frat hazing is worse than this.”

(e) The author of the 2002 memo to George W. Bush which said that the war on terrorism “renders quaint” certain provisions of the Geneva Conventions.

(f) The Bush campaign official who referred to stem-cell researchers who oppose restrictions on their work as “mad scientists out of control.”

8. Complete George W. Bush’s statement: “The reason ______________.”

(a) I can’t stop saying ‘the American people are safer’ [is] because the American people are safer

(b) I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and Al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda

(c) people all over the world think the United States government authorized torture [is] because the United States government did authorize torture

(d) Jenna stuck her tongue out at those reporters [is] those reporters deserved to have their tongues stuck out at

9. What caused Dick Cheney to say to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), “Fuck yourself”?

(a) Leahy had said, “So, Dick, you didn’t think you needed to check with the boss before ordering planes full of civilians to be shot down?”

(b) Leahy had made a comment comparing Cheney’s “quintuple-deferment war record” with John Kerry’s heroics.

(c) Leahy had pointed out how many no-bid contracts had gone to Halliburton.

(d) Leahy had said, “Cheney’s turned into a James Bond villain.”

10. Three of these statements describe Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Which one describes his boss, Donald Rumsfeld?

(a) He publicly understated the number of deaths of United States soldiers in Iraq by more than two hundred at a congressional hearing.

(b) He scoffed at the notion that prisoners’“quality of life” was compromised at Abu Ghraib, saying, “Whether they have a PX or a good restaurant is not the issue.”

(c) He told a House committee hearing that so many negative stories are coming out of Iraq because reporters are “afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors.”

(d) He conceded, after a good deal of questioning by a Senate committee, that putting a bag over someone’s head for seventy-two hours was “not humane.”

11. In May, the White House announced that George W. Bush would deliver five weekly speeches intended to shore up support for his Iraq policies. How many of the five did he deliver before abandoning the effort?

(a) One. (c) Three.
(b) Two. (d) Four.

12. Which statement did Ron Reagan not make?

(a) “Dad . . . never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians: wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage.”

(b) “My father didn’t know George W. Bush from Adam.”

(c) “Cheney brought my mother up to the casket . . . she has glaucoma and has trouble seeing. There were steps, and he left her there. He just stood there, letting her flounder. I don’t think he’s a mindful human being.”

(d) “My father wouldn’t have had to prove how macho he was by waving around Saddam’s gun.”

13. Where was the Cheney rally at which people were refused admission unless they signed this statement: “I, (full name) . . . do herby [sic] endorse George W. Bush for re-election of the United States”?

(a) Missouri. (c) Nevada.
(b) Michigan. (d) New Mexico.

14. How did George W. Bush pronounce the name of Abu Ghraib prison, the site of the abuses that he claimed to have been “disgusted of” and “disgraced about”?

(a) “Abugah-rayp.”
(b) “Abu-gareff.”
(c) “Abu-garon” and “Abu-garah.”
(d) All of the above.


(1) d, (2) e, (3) d, (4) c, (5) a, (6) b, (7) f, (8) b, (9) c, (10) b, (11) a, (12) d, (13) d, (14) d.

When you think they can’t sink any lower….

Face it. Kerry was right, Bush and his minions are using the so-called “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” as a front group:

From CNN:

A lawyer for President Bush’s re-election campaign disclosed Tuesday that he has been providing legal advice for a veterans group that is challenging Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s account of his Vietnam War service.

Benjamin Ginsberg’s acknowledgment marks the second time in days that an individual associated with the Bush-Cheney campaign has been connected to the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which Kerry accuses of being a front for the Republican incumbent’s re-election effort.

So. There is a direct link between the Bush campaign and the group which is desperate to contradict their earlier statements, and their own citations, to lie about Kerry. These are the same people who questioned McCain’s service, and most abhorrently, Max Cleland’s who gave three limbs to the service of his country while Bush was getting drunk and Cheney had “other priorities.”

There used to be principled Republicans. It appears they have disappeared from the national party, leaving nothing but pond scum, leaving a trail of stink and corruption everywhere they go.

I’m disgusted. Can you tell?

Bush and Sports

Wow. What a fun day for news….

From Sports Illustrated:

PATRAS, Greece — Iraqi midfielder Salih Sadir scored a goal here on Wednesday night, setting off a rousing celebration among the 1,500 Iraqi soccer supporters at Pampeloponnisiako Stadium. Though Iraq — the surprise team of the Olympics — would lose to Morocco 2-1, it hardly mattered as the Iraqis won Group D with a 2-1 record and now face Australia in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

Afterward, Sadir had a message for U.S. president George W. Bush, who is using the Iraqi Olympic team in his latest re-election campaign advertisements.

In those spots, the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear as a narrator says, “At this Olympics there will be two more free nations — and two fewer terrorist regimes.”

“Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign,” Sadir told through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. “He can find another way to advertise himself.”

Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush’s TV advertisement. “How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?” Manajid told me. “He has committed so many crimes.”

Guess these weren’t the guys waving flags and throwing flowers as we “liberated” Iraq.

Recollections of War

It seems one of the “Swiftboat Veterans for Truth” who claim Kerry did not actually come under enemy fire for his medal, Larry Thurlow, in fact received a Bronze star for the self-same engagement. Apparently in the 35 years or so since, he never bothered to read the citation for the award he received.

“Despite enemy bullets flying around him, he leaped aboard the damaged boat…” “He quickly radioed for medical evacuation of the wounded and, while still under fire, with complete disregard for his personal safety, …” Gosh, that’s a pretty impressive stuff! How humble can you get to not read that any time in the last 3 1/2 decades? I guess now that he has, he’ll be turning the award back to the government, since it never really happened.

And isn’t it amazing that so many different people claim to have seen and have opinions on John Kerry’s service, but we still can’t find a single person who actually saw George W. Bush show up for his ANG duty in Alabama?

What goes around, comes around

From Reuters:

In a marked escalation of a war of words between Iran and its arch-enemies Israel and the US, Tehran has for the first time threatened a preemptive strike against US troops in the region.

“We will not sit [with arms folded] to wait for what others will do to us,” Iran’s defence minister, Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani told Al-Jazeera TV yesterday when asked if Iran would respond to a US attack on its nuclear facilities.

“Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly.”

If we can strike someone pre-emptively, in violation of established international law, we can only expect others, who view us as hostile, to take exception to the hundreds of thousands of troops we have bordering them, and consider the same option.

Madness, at all levels, and from all parties. What can of worms have we opened?