View from the Loft 

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Thursday, November 07, 2002

The elections on Tuesday are a disaster for this nation. A mandate for war? Hardly; only about a third of Americans bothered even to vote. And it's not that I think a Democratic majority in the Senate would prevent war; I'm hardly that naive. Bush doesn't feel he needs Congressional approval, after all. But in terms of the environment, judicial appointments, corporate beneficiaries, and so on, Tuesday ushers in a very dark time for the United States.

My spouse heard a woman on NPR (on a call-in show) express her disgust with the Democrats; she said, "Republican Lite just doesn't cut it." I, too, feel that the Democrats blew their chance by lining up behind Bush and campaigning, as someone said, completely on the platform "I stand behind the President." This is the time for the Democrats to re-group, send some heads rolling, and begin acting like leaders instead of boot-licking sycophants. Or perhaps it's time for third parties to begin serious organizing efforts. How long has it been since the Dems had any kind of agenda, a platform, a clearly outlined vision that sets them apart from the Republicans? Where was their economic plan? What is wrong with these people? It's time for more of the Democrats to declare, like the late Senator Wellstone, that they are from "the Democratic-party wing of the Democratic party."

Not that there is any Democratic consensus on this, of course. As Gephardt announces that he is stepping down as House Democratic leader, two potential replacements are squaring off: Nancy Pelosi and Martin Frost. As might be expected, a spokesman for Frost said: "The country moved to the right yesterday and House Democrats won't win a majority by moving further to the left." Yeah, falling into line next to the Republicans has worked really well so far! I've long thought that, had the Democrats stood their ground and refused to rush to the right way back in the days of Reagan, they might now represent an actual alternative to the GOP as well as having some numbers in their favor.

Mike Schiller blames Tuesday's losses on Daschle's failure to provide leadership and his complicity with Bush's war plans. "Forging an image of a party as a non-party is not what wins elections. Telling voters you agree with the opposition on the most critical issues is not what wins elections." Schiller believes that voter disenchantment with the Dems' "Republican Lite" sent some voters into the arms of the Greens and contributed to Democratic losses.

See David Corn's take on the trouble the Democrats now find themselves in.

Feeling frustrated? By all means, visit the Wall of Frustration and sign "the world's shortest petition": "Terry, you're fired." ("Terry," for those of you who might not know, is Terry McAuliffe, DNC chairman.) Democrats vented for 15 hours after Nov. 5--read their messages and see if you don't find your own despair, fury, and horror expressed by these tortured souls in the wee hours of the morning. One of my faves? "Democratic party needs to change their mascot from a jackass to a gelded jellyfish (no balls and certainly no spine)."

A ray of hope: analysts warn that a Republican majority doesn't necessarily mean easy wins for the GOP in Congress.

How do the world's leaders view the new Congress?

Europe is saddened by the "cynical pessimists" who are now running America. They might have laughed at our naive optimism, but they liked it just the same, argues Thomas Friedman, and are sorry to see idealism replaced by a Hobbesean view of the world.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that there's a generation gap when it comes to being anti- or pro-war: the older generation is less hawkish.

Deployment Watch has information on where our troops are in the MIddle East, how many there are, what military hardware is where, etc. The buildup is happening, and it's speeding up.

Call your Congressperson! Call 1-800-839-5276 and urge him or her to support Pelosi as Minority Leader. Or go to Congress.org to send an e-mail. Rep. Pelosi voted against the Iraq resolution and represents a clear break with what Gephardt represents.

Sunday, November 03, 2002

To sign an anti-war referendum, go to VoteNoWar.org. They are organizing an anti-war march to coincide with the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations on January 18, at which time the referendum results will be released.

You can download an anti-war poster and put it up in conspicuous places. The aim is to put a face on the vicitims of this war, who are so often reduced to abstractions in what little debate there is.

Download anti-war images at The Broadside.

Send an e-mail to pResident Bush and demand answers.

The War Resisters League has a calendar of anti-war events, both ongoing and those with specific dates. It is not complete, but will be added to as information comes in.

What will Iraq be like after the bombs are dropped? UN officials say that millions of refugees may head for Iran--a move that can only be destabilizing--and that 6 million people in Baghdad could be left without electricity and clean water. Food will be a challenge; right now, 90% of the population depends on government-provided food rations, the distribution of which may stop or be delayed once hostilities begin and/or after a regime change. Damages caused by the Gulf War, plus the sanctions, have left Iraqis with far fewer resources than they had at the time of Desert Storm. Yet the Pentagon, say aid officials, has refused to work with humanitarian organziations to draw up contingency plans. Instead, they've told agencies not to expect to operate in much of Iraq for several months after war begins.

To see what war and sanctions have already done to Iraq, see "Iraq Sanctions" and "Life and Death in Iraq."

An article in The Guardian says that the carve-up of Iraq's oil riches has already begun. Ahmed Chalabi, of whom I wrote on November 1, met with industry execs in October. Apparently U.S. allies' oil companies are already being shut out of Iraq's oil reserves before the first shots have been fired.

The U.S. is now arguing that the cease-fire after the Gulf War has been nullified because Iraq obstructed weapons inspectors following the war. France, Russia, and China are unhappy about what they call "hidden triggers" in the form of references to the old UN resolutions regarding the cease-fire.

Analysts say 40,000 to 50,000 American military personnel are already converging on the Gulf.

Did a French envoy travel to Baghdad for secret talks regarding a peaceful regime change? France denies it.

A new anti-war blog features anti-war commentary and news from both right and left.

The BBC quotes a Saudi religious leader who says that thousands of Saudi militants are ready to join Iraqis against U.S. troops.

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