Wednesday, August 18, 2004

"Just Having a Good Time"

An unidentified supporter of President Bush tries to silence protester Kendra Lloyd-Knox (right) outside Southridge High School in Beaverton. Elsewhere in Portland, supporters of Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., rallied on the waterfront.

One picture's worth a thousand words...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Afghan vote threatens Bush's credibility


KABUL—With evidence mounting of plans for widespread vote-rigging in Afghanistan's upcoming elections, U.S. experts say the controversy could emerge as a serious liability for U.S. President George W. Bush's re-election campaign.

After voter registration centres closed across Afghanistan on the weekend, election officials acknowledged the number of voting cards issued far exceeded the estimated number of eligible voters — and that the illegal practice of multiple registrations is widespread.

"An Afghan election marred by allegations of fraud would be bad for President Bush's overall claim of promoting democracy in the Muslim world," said Husain Haqqani, an Afghanistan expert at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "In the absence of good news from Iraq, the Bush administration needs Afghanistan as its success story."

For months, Bush has staked his claims on a successful democratic Afghanistan, saying it would serve as an example of how America can bring democracy, and free and fair elections to the developing world.

"The rise of democratic institutions in Afghanistan and Iraq is a great step toward a goal of lasting importance to the world," Bush said in a speech in Washington last March. "We have set out to encourage reform and democracy."

But with seven weeks to go before the Oct. 9 poll, the Star has found the practice of multiple registrations is rife.

Observers also claim the ground work necessary for a free and fair election — security, reconstruction and political stability — has not been established in Afghanistan and that the U.S. hurriedly pushed the country into elections to further its own agenda.

"The United States wants, before the November elections, to showcase a victory of the Bush administration by proving it is possible to bring democracy to an Islamic Third World country," said Assem Akram, an Afghan historian and author based in Washington. "And if American voters grant George Bush a new mandate, his administration will reproduce the same successful model in Iraq. That is why there is so much hurry."

With scarce funds and hasty plans for rebuilding Afghanistan, some critics aren't surprised the elections are starting to unravel in advance of polling day. Although it will take at least a week to report the final tally of registered voters, United Nations officials overseeing the elections admit that more than 10 million voting cards have been issued — surpassing the estimated 9.8 million eligible voters.

Bush* has credibility that can be threatened?? Where does he keep it??

Looks to me like Katherine Harris should pop right over and fix this mess...

Who wouldn't be angry about these last four years?


One of the most gratifying things about writing periodic political columns is that folks on the other side of the spectrum read them. It gets kinda' boring when citizens constantly approach you and say things like, "Right on" or "You wrote everything I've been feeling." What's really exciting is when someone disagrees and even calls you names.
Recently, one fellow referred to me as a "bitter old man." Being analytical, I'll attempt to take apart that statement. "Man": Well, I'd agree that most who see or know me would concur. I think. "Old": That's relative. I think of myself as young, but I'm sure many in their second or third decade may think I'm a geezer. I remember when I thought everyone older than 30 was about to drop dead. However, those folks in their 70s may think of me as a young whippa snapper.

But "bitter"? I've always thought of myself as a happy-go-lucky guy. I've had a great life, always doing exactly as I wish. In fact, now in conjunction with my loving partner, I spend most of my time hunting, fishing, hiking and traveling. Then I actually get paid for these activities by writing articles and stories. Could life be any better?

However, I am a liberal and look at all aspects of an issue instead of coming to conclusions based on dogma as many conservatives do. I decided that if someone thinks of me as a "bitter old man," I should look into the possibility that there is some merit to the argument.

I was born during World War II in the United States, the greatest democracy that the world has ever known. I had many relatives who died in that conflict, but no one ever felt that our democracy was threatened from within.

Even during the awful Vietnam War era this was not a concern. However, we now have an administration that was not elected by the people. Everyone knows, except those who operate on faith, not facts, that if all the votes were counted in Florida, Al Gore would be president. Does this get me angry? The subversion of our democracy? You bet!

Does anyone like that the Patriot Act, pushed through Congress with fear-mongering, has eroded our civil liberties to an unprecedented degree? Could anyone imagine, pre-Bush, that the First Amendment would be confined to "Free Speech Zones?" I always thought the entire country was a free-speech zone.

The last four years have seen the rollback of numerous environmental regulations that were designed to preserve our quality of life. Now we have an administration that is only interested in the bottom line of the wealthiest in our nation. Am I irate? Of course!

Am I angry about losing almost a 1,000 of our soldiers, the maiming of another 7,000 and the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis in a war that was totally unnecessary, illegal and immoral? Aren't you?

Who isn't furious that this administration, during wartime, has cut back on funding for military housing and substantially reduced VA money? They actually have the nerve to be closing 11 VA hospitals when so many wounded are returning. All this so they can give their billionaire friends and contributors, the "haves and the have mores," a giant tax break. Why even Bush himself refers to them as his base. You're not outraged?

It's hard for me to believe, but it's true that the United States of America is disliked by most of the world's people, and our leader is one of the most hated and feared men ever to exist. Does this bother you?

Do I like that the arrogant chicken hawks in the White House have totally destabilized the world and that we are in more danger now than we were before the start of the Iraq War? Do you?

Well, I think I've answered my own question. Am I a bitter old man? I must admit that I am probably a "man" and am "old" to youngsters. However, on "bitter," I would say a more appropriate term would be either "resolute" or "determined." In fact, there are tens of millions, over half the population, of Americans who are steadfast in their belief in democracy. The one good thing that George W. Bush did was to make us vow to never become complacent again. We are determined and will not rest until our great nation, the United States of America, is restored as the beacon of liberty, justice, compassion and freedom that it once was.

Martin Freed is a former vice president of a medium-sized corporation, a hunting and fishing writer, and a longtime resident of Fairbanks.

I couldn't agree more if I tried.