The Peach

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Saturday, October 30, 2004

Hey, Iraq! Feeling Safer Yet?

A report from the BBC News is yet more proof that Bush resides in la la land. With the administrtion's constant mantra of how the Iraqi people are enjoying their new found democracy this fact comes out: that scientists put the number of Iraqi civilian casualties at 100,000. And if that isn't enough to trample Bush's "democracy on the march" fantasy, how about this:

A study published by the Lancet says the risk of death by violence for civilians in Iraq is now 58 times higher than before the US-led invasion.

The report also went on to say this:
Before the invasion, most people died as a result of heart attack, stroke and chronic illness, whereas after the invasion, "violence was the primary cause of death".
All of this the by-product of Bush's poorly planned, ego-driven, delusional, "they love us in Baghdad" invasion, neatly filed as another component of the "werr on terr".

Meanwhile, Americans keep hearing how Iraqis are better off now than they were four years ago. Hey, Iraq! Would you vote for this guy?

Friday, October 29, 2004

Osama Lama Ding Dong

The Peach is not sure what to say about the new Osama Bin Laden videotape. Some are saying that any big news story that takes the focus off of news that is helping drive momentum for Kerry is a positive for Bush. The Peach for its part would note a couple of things.

1. The appearance of Osama Bin Laden, looking fit and healthy, all but holding a tall, frosty tropical drink with a little umbrella swizzle stick, underscores even more starkly Bush's failure to bring Bin Laden and Al Quaeda to justice. It provides clear evidence supporting John Kerry's assertions that Bush has let Bin Laden get off scot free.

2. The SCLM is paying attention to this, but they don't seem to be dwelling on it obsessively. We mean, it's not like it's the Scott Petersen trial or anything. Many commentators are saying they expect this tape to be a wash as far as the election is concerned. And after a few minutes, all have moved on to the missing explosives at Al Qa Qaa, the poor economic indicators and other news du jour.

3. On the tape, OBL seems to be taking total responsibility for 9/11. If Saddam Hussein had helped him, one has the sense that he would celebrate the former Iraqi dicatator, as he does about the nineteen hijackers. He does not. There is no mention or acknowledgement of any relationship whatsoever.

4. Finally, unlike in past communications, the latest OBL tape does not sound -- to The Peach at least -- like a clear new threat. Unlike in the past, when OBL's apocalyptic pronouncements and graphic language really made our blood run cold, in this tape, he adopts a curiously rational, explanatory tone. Whatever we might make of this latest tape, it does not aappear on the face of it that he is issuing an imminent threat. Or if he is, it does not seem any more or less imminent than any of the past threats have been. It is yet another situation where the public can only throw up its hands and acknowledge again that it has no idea how to assess this or how much weight to accord it.

Obviously, the Peach will watch this story closely as it develops. But we believe that if the SCLM pays it the attention it deserves, it can only hurt Bush -- or at worst, prove neutral in the great scheme of things.

Baron's Brain: Something To Think About

And now, The Brain's brain is beginning to resemble jello prepared by two-year olds. Osama is back and the Bush administration, as well as the American people, are wondering if it's a good thing or a bad. When The Brain says good, The Brain means are people like Karl Rove (more likely) or Mary Beth Cahill (less likely) wringing their hands and giggling in a corner. Will this tip the election? Does his appearance place another cock into the fighting ring?

Let The Brain point this out. There was a time, rather recent, that the Prez was telling us that OBL was an itch we didn't have to scratch:
Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission. Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him.
Well, The Brain has this to say. The Brain remembers the movie Jaws. And you know what? When those fishermen thought they caught the shark, they didn't. And those people that ran that town didn't think all that much about whether it was the right shark or not. And you know what happened to them? Their children were eaten. So, you can support the mayor of that town (Bush) and be pissed off at the kids who should be hung from their Buster Browns for defacing a billboard. Or, you can support the police Chief (Kerry) who thinks that the shark is going to eat the whole town unless you do something intelligent about it. That's what this election is all about. Thank you.

And Even More Ammo

If the revelations of Al Qaqaa weren't bad enough, The Oregonian now reports that six months after the fall of Baghdad two U.S. aid workers informed Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the highest ranking officer in Iraq at the time, of some 60 unprotected ammunition bunkers at the Ukhaider Ammunition Storage Area. The aids were immediately informed that there were not enough American troops to secure the facility.

At the time, the aids reported to officials that mass looting of the bunkers was going on, but nothing was done. According to one of the aids, "(t)here's no question in my mind that the stuff in Ukhaider was used by terrorists."

And now, amidst all the uproar, a Pentagon official Thursday acknowledged that the United States had been forced to leave many ammunition dumps in Iraq unguarded. The Peach would like to see how this administration explains this one away. On the other hand, they may not have to. There's always that Osama fellow.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Explosive New Evidence

While our confused leader waits for investigators to get the facts straight, Channel 5 in Minneapolis has provided a videotape taken by a reporter that followed the 101st Airborne Division into the bunkers at Al Qaqaa. The tape was made April 18, 2003, a full nine days after the fall of Baghdad. The report provides photos of bunker after bunker of explosives boxes, some of which were clearly labeled "Al Qaqaa."

The Peach feels if Bush wants to "get the facts straight" he only needs to click here for the full report.

We Couldn't Agree More

Finally, President Bush said something that The Peach couldn't agree with more. Yesterday, at a rally in Michigan, he was quoted as saying this:
A person who jumps to conclusions without all the facts is not a person you want as commander in chief.
Considering the whole Iraq debacle, The Peach hopes that the SCLM and the American public jumps all over this. The irony of a statement like this is mind boggling.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Bush Campaign is Full of Qa Qaa

After several days of twisting (or perhaps spinning) in the wind over the disappearance of 380 tons of potent explosives from the Al Qa Qaa munitions stockpile, the Bush Campaign may finally be brought up short by the facts. It seems it's own poor planning is to blame for this latest, and quite serious, cock-up.

According to a joint CBS News/AP story, the commander of the first U.S. military unit to arrive in the area said,"Our focus was killing bad guys." He then added that he "would have needed four times as many troops to search and secure all the ammo dumps his troops came across during the push into Iraq."

He again confirmed what many have already reported -- that U.S. forces did not search the site for explosives, and they did not secure it.

In recent days, the Bush administration has tried various spins to evade responsibility for the fact that thousands of tons of high explosives are now in the hands of terrorists. Initially, they said they were shocked, shocked to learn that munitions were missing, and that the situation would be thoroughly investigated.

They tried to deflect attention, by touting the large numbers of munitions that U.S. forces did manage to secure in Iraq (although Scott McClellan got tripped up by his own math). They also tried to take the position that these explosives, which can bring down a jumbo jet or detonate a nuclear bomb, are not that big a deal.

Finally, they tried to grab an apparent life-raft flung to them by NBC News -- a report which suggested that the munitions may have already been gone by the time U.S. forces arrived on the site. Kind of a "the old regime ate my homework" excuse. Within 24 hours, Tom Brokaw himself issued a clear, if overly polite riposte, saying:
We did not conclude the explosives were missing or had vanished, nor did we say they missed the explosives. We simply reported that the 101st did not find them. For its part, the Bush campaign immediately pointed to our report as conclusive proof that the weapons had been removed before the Americans arrived. That is possible, but that is not what we reported.
And ultimately, all of the administration's early explanations were based on the demonstrably false premise that they knew nothing about this situation until the middle of October.

The SCLM is doing a variable job with this. The Peach salutes NBC Nightly News for underscoring the holes in the administration's case, and we are feeling warm and, well, fuzzy, about the New York Times today, based on its willingness to hold Bush accountable in this case. Meanwhile, CNN continued (at least till yesterday) to run with the discredited administration spin on the original NBC report.

The biggest mystery, for our money, is how Bush could have failed to even make mention of this huge story for two days now. Again, not for want of trying by our usually timid press corps. He has studiously ignored shouted questions from reporters, attempting to get answers on this.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Bush Gets In Touch With His Gay Side

For a President who is staking his re-election bid on his consistency, Bush is running a big risk by suddenly coming out in favor of civil unions. Conservative Christian leaders are already expressing dismay and the comment threatens to do more to derail the enthusiasm of the Bush base than anything John Kerry could say about Mary Cheney.

Bush's newfound sentimentality for gay couples comes as a shock to The Peach and many others, as it is seemingly not only a massive flip-flop, but one that makes the president's entire position on gay issues completely incoherent. If gay couples want to marry, we need to amend the Constitution to prevent them from doing so. But if they only want to "marry," why then, we should let them. Come again?

We cannot deny a certain satisfaction in seeing Bush deteriorate into silliness in the final week of the campaign, and we certainly will not be sorry if his strange championing of gay civil unions means that a healthy swath of the right-wing social conservative electorate just stays home on November 2.

But The Peach can't help feeling some puzzlement at his, er, fuzzy logic. We will be interested to see how this plays out in the SCLM -- will they call Bush on his incoherence and trot out the likes of Dr. James Dobson to denounce him? Stay tuned.

Our Man In Baghdad

Bush's new best friend, Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, seems to be having second thoughts about the relationship. Today, he blamed U.S. negligence for the gruesome, execution-style slaying of fifty Iraqi soldiers. Allawi said:
It was a heinous crime where a group of National Guardsmen were targeted. There was great negligence on the part of some coalition forces.
Allawi also warned of escalating attacks, and the AP notes that:
[u]nderscoring the warning, insurgents made a new threat of nationwide attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces "with weapons and military tactics they have not experienced before" if American forces try to storm the militant stronghold of Fallujah.
Is The Peach being cynical to ask if those purported new, never-before-experienced weapons might be powered by some of the 380 tons of high explosives looted out of the Al Qa Qaa ammo dump -- also due to U.S. negligence? The SCLM is certainly not suggesting anything of the sort. But we can't help wondering.

Don't You Believe It

Apparently, in yet another act of desperation, the Republican party has now focused its spin on supposed incidents of violence at Bush campaign offices around the country. The Peach will not go as far as saying that these are nothing short of lies, but both the timing of these claims and the fact that the Reps' reputation for cheating has been well documented (do we have to remind people of that Florida thing), makes us wonder if they're planning on doing the old "look, it's Batman," diversion yet again.

And if that's not enough to make The Peach's fuzz stand up, the SCLM decides to run Republican accusations the week before the election, neglecting all the while months of intimidation and vandalism perpetrated by Republicans upon the Democratic faithful. The Peach would like to point out this article from The Advertiser in Louisiana, dated September 17, reporting the second attack on the Democratic Party Headquarters in Lafayette. The article provides pictures and other evidence of Republican thuggery. Yet, none of the major national papers bothered to provide this incident any space.

The problems with truth and coverage don't just stop there. On October 24 RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie went on Meet The Press ranting about Democratic voter fraud, without one shred of evidence to what he claimed (trading votes for crack seemed rather bizarre), while we here at The Peach, on October 13, posted evidence of actual and widespread voter fraud commited by Sproul & Associates on behalf of the Republican Party. Unfortunately, we feel Tim Russert hasn't warmed up to The Peach and, therefore, was unable to press Gillespie on these well documented issues.

Republican bullying and cover-up doesn't stop there. The Peach knows of people having Kerry/Edwards signs torn from their lawns, pro-Bush bosses forcing employees to remove K/E bumper stickers from their cars, video distributors carving "liar" onto copies of Farenheit 9/11, painting "W" on houses of Kerry supporters, harassment at pro-Democratic rallies, etc. Let's face it, this is just another phoney argument Republicans have constructed in order to contest Kerry's election. The Peach can smell it from a million miles away. The SCLM must step up to the plate and not accept on face value what Republicans are claiming. What true reporters need to do is ask the RNC this: Where's the beef?

Oh, by the way, if the above doesn't convince you, The Peach suggests you read this piece from the BBC. It seems the Bushies are up to their usual dirty tricks in Florida again.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Baron's Brain: It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's The War On Terror

After months of listening to Fearless Leader (President Bush, in case you wondered) declare how "werr winning the war on terr" a recent interview with Fox News found him stating that whether we will ever be safe from terrorists is "up in the air." Well, honesty is a beautiful thing. So, in all fairness, The Brain has come up with similar empty cliches to assist our verbally challenged Prez to respond to press questions on Iraq:
It ain't over till it's over
It ain't over till the fat lady sings
There's still plenty of time left
It could go either way
It's touch and go
Anything's possible
The glass is both half empty AND half full
Let me check my calendar
Hey, you never know. Stuff happens.
The Brain firmly believes that with responses like these, and with his spin team, Bush should be able to continue his confusing, "leave the public in a state of shock, awe and disbelief" form of oratory for at least another week.

October Surprise

To hear the Bush administration tell it, they have been sitting on the report of the disappearance of hundreds of tons of explosives in Iraq for over a year and a half because, according to a senior administration official, "standard intelligence practice is not to let the enemy know such information."

Er, not to be unduly nit-picky here, but isn't the enemy the one who took the explosives in the first place? So presumably he already knows he has them. No, this attempt at spin simply won't wash. The real reason seems to have much more to do with election year politics. As November 2 draws closer, this revelation threatens to become a huge bombshell (no pun intended) for Bush's reelection bid.

The Peach has been gratified to see this matter treated with the importance we think it deserves by the SCLM (So-called Liberal Media). Many stories -- including on Fox News(!) -- have quoted the Kerry campaign's reaction -- that this is emblematic of Bush's profound incompetence -- without (for the moment) needing to provide a "balancing" counterclaim by the Bush camp. We hope, but don't really expect, that they are just plain recognizing the truth when they hear it this time around. It will be interesting to see how this story spins in days to come.