Sylvania Reflections

Larry's Opinions and Items Of Interest From Penn's Woods

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The "War On Terror" Is Not Working!

The latest Osama bin Laden tape is the icing on the cake. Sour icing.

The man that perpetrated the 9/11 tragedy is still on the loose! He's looking healthy, fit, well dressed and very relaxed. And issuing sound bites to the American public, trying to get George Bush re-elected. See my earlier notes about that.

Why hasn't he been captured? With all the technology and power we have, it boggles my mind that we cannot track down and capture one man. Or kill him. No matter where he is on the planet. The President says that al Qaida is on the run, but it certainly looks to me that if they are on the run, it's toward Iraq to disrupt its reconstruction.

Another amazing fact is that the cost of the "war on terror" is pushing $200,000,000,000.00 and Osama bin Laden is still running around loose!!! Arggghhh! And also, why haven't we captured the Taliban Chief Mullah Omar? Double Arggghhh!

The President says the "war on terror" is going well. I don't think any Iraqi citizen living in Baghdad would agree with him. Or the reporters in Iraq that are afraid to leave their hotels unless accompanied by American soldiers. Or the Spanish. Or any of the coalition members that are pulling out of Iraq. And I certainly would not even begin to consider taking the tour my then 75 year old mother took twenty tears ago to Israel and Egypt. Yikes!

I certainly think it's past time to change the Commander-In-Chief and his Administration in order to get something accomplished in this supposed "war on terror".

The Osama bin Laden Message of October 29.

Of course bin Laden wants to see Bush re-elected!

He attacked Bush in the tape, most likely expecting a reaction from the US public in support of Bush. Also, the tape itself raises the fear of terrorism and polls show people (wrongly) trust Bush more than Kerry when it comes to defeating terrorism. So my take on the tape is that it will help Bush more than Kerry.

But why does Osama want Bush re-elected?

Bush is playing directly into Osama's hand. He's leading the US down the road to ruin. Kerry won't do that.

Bush's actions help bin Laden's cause among Arabs. Bush is the poster boy for al Qaida recruitment. In Iraq, he has created a great recruitment area and training ground for terrorists. Bush also provided them with plenty of arms and munitions by invading without enough forces to secure the country.

Bush has alienated the whole world, not just al Qaida. The majority of people in the world, including in the "coalition" countries, are against the war in Iraq. Our friends and allies are still our friends and allies (I hope and pray), but foreign relations sure are strained. Al Qaida and Bush have divided us from the rest of the world and that's to Osama's benefit.

Bush's outrageous spending and tax cuts have us headed toward a tremendous fiscal crisis in the not too distant future. Hopefully we'll be able to recover from it, but who knows? Osama may believe that we won't survive that crisis. So he would want to keep Bush in office to make sure we do have that crisis.

Also, the "war on terror" helps Bush's popularity. If he gets re-elected, it will be because of the "war on terror" and the way he has stirred up the public about it. It's to Bush's advantage to keep the "war on terror" going and to have Osama on the loose. So Osama may think he has a better chance of survival with Bush as President. I agree with him.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Al-Qaida may be winning after all.

There is a tremendous fiscal crisis looming. It's been giving me ulcers.

Take a look at Fiscal Ruin on the Horizon by David S. Broder in the Washington Post. In it, Broder talks about the crisis and points out that neither the White House nor Congress is willing to address the situation. Bush won't even consider that a problem exists. And Kerry doesn't have a plan to fix it properly either.

Al-Qaida may be losing many of the major battles, but it's a war of attrition and the spending for this shadowy war on terror may very well cause the downfall of the United States.

That is, if the way we elect Presidents doesn't cause it first.

100,000 Iraqi Civilian Deaths!

There's an eye opening study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that comes to the conclusion that the war in Iraq has likely caused the death of 100,000 or more Iraqi civilians. David Corn has an article about it and a link to the study itself. Check it out here.

Since there were no WMD's found in Iraq, Bush has still justified the war by saying that Hussein was a brutal dictator and gassed his own people. If he did, worse case I've seen is that he may have killed 5,000 Kurds.

That's really depressing.

100,000 deaths justified by 5,000 deaths.

No wonder the Arab world is taking up arms against us.

I just realized that for the first time, I can no longer say "I'm proud to be an American." I'm ashamed. Very ashamed.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Finally, a voice of sense from the Bush campaign.

Laura Bush, quoted in an article in the Washington post:
"It doesn't matter to me," Laura Bush said. "It didn't hurt my feelings. It was perfectly all right, and she apologized. But she didn't even really need to apologize. I know how tough it is. And actually, I know those trick questions, too." Later, she said in an interview , "I think she was trying to talk about herself and not about me -- I really do."

This was about the Teresa H-K interview where she said she didn't think Laura had ever had a real job. The T H-K comment was an aside to the actual thread of the interview. I read the transcript of the complete interview and I agree with Laura. All the spin is pure politics from BC04 making something out of nothing.

Good for Laura!

But why am I so relieved to hear somebody say something reasonable for a change?

Actually, the whole T H-K interview was pretty sensible. I think I'd prefer to vote for a Teresa Heinz-Kerry/Laura Bush ticket. And also, Elizabeth Edwards' seems like a reasonable person. For a lawyer.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

“America is fighting...and must win...two wars. The war in Iraq. And the war on terror. “
-John Kerry October 20, 2004

Yeah, I know that's what he's been saying all along, at least since we invaded Iraq. I just thought it should be reiterated. And this is a really good sound-bite. Succinct and to the point.
A couple of really interesting links . . .

David Corn has quite a long post today on about the pursuit of Zarqawi and how Bush is currently spinning it to his benefit. But if you know the facts, it's really another Bush failing/misrepresentation. In many ways.

It's well worth the read. The archived article can be seen here.

The other link:

There's a web site called "Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy". Its purpose is to present one open letter to the US public. The letter is signed by a very long and impressive list of academics. It voices their concerns about the direction the US is taking in it's war on terrorism.

I strongly encourage you to read the letter, which can be found here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bush & Co's Short Term Focus

Bush & Co. only seem to see the here and now and the immediate future. And that's a serious problem for the President of the United States. Let me repeat that: that's a serious problem for the President of the United States. It really scares me about the Bush administration.

The flu vaccine is a good example. See my previous post about that here. With proper planning and foresight, there would have been only minor supply problems. Like in England.

Another example, of which we are all acutely aware, is the invasion of Iraq and the post-war planning. Certainly more than enough has been said about that over the last 6 months.

Also the many environmental issues. Like withdrawing from the Kyoto treaty. And many more issues that have been rolled back under this administration. There is so much that I cannot even start to cover it in this blog. The point is, in my opinion these changes were made for the short term, completey ignoring long term impacts.

And I know there has been no really concrete evidence, but . . . I think that lack of foresight in the present administration allowed the 9/11 events to occur. This included ignoring and suppressing reports and people that did not fit into the then current administration policies. These were people trying to tell them a problem was brewing and they didn't listen. The Suskind article in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine builds a good case for this in the more recent past. So it most likely was also occuring pre-911 about al-Qaida.

I know it's easy to say these things after the fact, but these guys are getting the big bucks to think things through so we won't have these problems. I think a lot of the blame is Bush's and the way he makes decisions and runs the country. By gut feel. Off the top of his head. By the seat of his pants. It's really scary. Suskind's article supports this.

There are many people saying he has a messianic complex. He doesn't think things through because he believes he's the voice of God. And doesn't have to think things through because whatever he says is always right. He may have a messianic complex, but I certainly pray that he doesn't because of what it implies if he does.

I think the problem is that Bush is over his head in the job. That would explain some of the tales about how things currently are working in the White House. Like why he won't discuss issues and won't tolerate differing opinions. I think it's not that he won't, but rather that he can't. Because he doesn't have the grasp of the details required to do that. And doesn't want to admit it.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

There's no flu vaccine crisis in England. They have 6 or 7 suppliers of the vaccine, with Chiron, the one that was shut down, only responsible for 14% of the supply. On top of that, last August they saw this coming and increased orders from their other suppliers. The US, on the other hand, relies on two suppliers and did nothing last August even though England kept us abreast of what was happening. Read all about it in Medical News Today.

I'd call this another decision making failure of the present administration. Or am I being overly critical and a Sunday morning quarterback? Maybe, maybe not.

And speaking of Bush, there's an article about him in today's New York Times Magazine. It's called Without A Doubt and was written by Ron Suskind, who was the senior national-affairs reporter for The Wall Street Journal from 1993 to 2000. Suskind recently wrote the book "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O'Neill."

The article is quite long, but worth the read. It answers a lot of questions about many of Bush's decisions of the last three years. Including the one above.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Swift Boat Vets Story Debunked

ABC News Nightline's Andrew Morse went to the Vietnam hamlet on the river where the fighting occurred for which Kerry was awarded his Silver Star. They have quite a lengthy article about it on the web. The villagers definitely remember the fighting that occurred because their village was all but leveled from all the gun fire. There's a lot of details in the article. The bottom line is that the villagers basically corroborated Kerry's story and refuted what the Swift Boat Vets have said about he event.

Read about it here.

And the villagers said somebody identifying himself as a Swift boat veteran visited them about 6 months ago with a cameraman and they told him the same story. So the Swift Boat Vets apparently knew the truth, yet went ahead with what they published.


The Republicans are making a thing about Kerry's mention that Dick Cheney's daughter is gay. I was a bit surprised when Kerry said it, but after reflecting on it a while, I think he was justified and that it was quite appropriate. First, because Mary Cheney is managing her father's campaign, as the Director of Vice Presidential Operations for Bush-Cheney04 and thus she's fair game. Second, because it points out that Bush's Vice President will not support the President's position on the gay rights issue. Third, because Cheney himself has openly talked about it and even thanked Edwards for his kind words about it during the VP debate. Fourth, because Mary herself is very open about it.

So I certainly wish the Cheneys would quit politicizing it.

Besides, even if it was questionable (and it's not), this wouldn't even come close to the things Karl Rove has done in previous campaigns he has managed. A week or so ago, I mentioned an article about Rove by Joshua Green in Atlantic Monthly. It is now available free on line. It's an eye-opening read.

And speaking of Karl's dirty tricks, would you look at what has turned up in Tennessee?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Third Presidential Debate

I can't really pin this down to specifics, but to me the President seemed much more animated and enthusiastic on questions about the Iraq conflict in previous debates than he was about domestic issues in the third debate. I can only see two explanations to this, neither very complimentary to the President.

One explanation is his enthusiasm for the war on terror. Or rather what he and his administration deem to be the war on terror. I think he gets a big charge out of being Commander-in-Chief and sending his troops off to war. You could see his enthusiasm bubbling over when he landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln a year and a half ago, strutted around and declared "Mission Accomplished". This would explain why he can't see any problem with what he has done. He's looking at the last two years through the rose colored glasses of his enthusiasm. That's pretty scary to me. And it should be REAL scary to most other countries in the world.

The second explanation is that he knows he hasn't done well on domestic issues and doesn't really want to talk about them. Domestic issues are a disaster. My main concern is the rampant deficit spending that has gone on in the past three and a half years. The US debt is now higher than it ever has been. Brad DeLong is an economics professor at Berkely. Check out his web site for his view on the matter.

Maybe it's a combination of the two reasons above . . . Bush has more interest in the Iraq conflict than he does in the domestic issues. That would explain why he hasn't tried to rein in the fiscal irresponsibility of the Republican Congress. All those old numbers are so boring, lets get back to the macho action stuff! That's even more scary.

I've gotta stop this blogging. I was in a pretty good mood until I went through the above thought process, now I'm really upset.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


One of the classic questions in conducting an employment interview is: "Name one (or 2 or 3) mistake you've made and what you did to correct it." The idea being that everybody makes mistakes, but the best candidates learn from them, correct them and move on. So the interviewer is attempting to find out how the interviewee reacts to their own mistakes. And how honest they are.

Many books for interviewees list that question as one that should be expected. And it is easy to answer if one gives it some thought beforehand. Determine a mistake that after your correction it resulted an outstanding victory. Or a mistake that wasn't really a mistake. But be prepared for the question.

During the second Presidential Debate, one interviewer, a Linda Grabel, asked the President: "Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it." The president talked a lot but never really answered the question. He did finally say that he made some mistakes in appointments, but he wasn't going to name them because he didn't want to hurt their feelings on nationwide TV. And he did not say what he did about those appointments.

I'm really surprised, actually shocked, that the President was not prepared for that question. He'd even been asked it before a couple of times in one news conference within the last year. It's amazing that neither the President nor his advisors thought to prepare for that really basic interview question.

Because of that question, I think Linda Grabel and the nation found out something very telling about the President and his advisors. I don't know about Linda's reaction but the lack of an answer is very bothersome to me. And this non-answer from the guy that's been President almost four years now.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Presidential Debate Winner

As I see it, even if a debate is rated as a tie, Kerry wins. Everybody knows the President from seeing him the last 4 years. Not many know Kerry. The undecideds have already determined they are unhappy with Bush and what he's done, but are still unsure about Kerry because they don't know him. The more unfiltered viewing they get of Kerry, the more they get to know him. Which is good for Kerry, unless he makes an ass of himself, which he certainly has not done. In fact, general concensus is that he won both debates, the first by a wider margin.

I think the debates are a great thing because of the unfiltered view we get of both candidates. What I don't know is why any incumbent would agree to them.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Bush & Co have an attitude problem.

That problem is that they believe that the United States is invincible. They believe that we can do whatever we want and don't have to listen to anybody else in the world. They are arrogant and offend other contries with their attitude. That applies to all the Middle East Arab countries. Including Iraq.

They're wrong.

That's one reason we are losing the Iraqi's support. And that's another reason we will never win the peace in Iraq with this administration in charge.

We need somebody in Iraq that can unite that country and have the Iraqis themselves drive the terrorists out. We need the outstanding majority of Iraqis to buy into what's happening there. Unfortuntely, it's going the other way and less and less of them are buying into it.

I'm assuming that Bush & Co. are proceeding Iraq the same way they are approaching the presidential election here. Lies, spin, deceit, arrogance. And underhanded tactics. Only over there, I assume they're doing more of it than here, because they can't get voted out of office over there.

No wonder they have created a great recruitment windfall for al Qaida. I'm really pissed at what they've done here, but we brought it on ourselves. Or rather, the Supreme Court brought it on us. If I lived in Iraq and my coutry was invaded, initially I'd be happy to see Saddam gone. But after a year and a half of putting up with Bush & Co's lies, spin, deceit, arrogance and underhanded tactics, I'd really be pissed. And seriously looking for a way to drive them out of my homeland.

We really have to turn that situation around and I don't think Bush & Co is capable of doing it because of the way they do business.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

During the first presidential debate, CNN showed some shots of the President's back. By the way, the 32-page debate agreement said that the camera in the back must only be used to cover the moderator, so that was in violation of the agreement. In the back shots, the President has a strange rectangular bulge between his shoulder blades. This was originally shown and discussed in the online magazine Salon. But now, the New York Times also has an article about it. The NYT article says that Internet rumors were that it was a radio receiver getting signals from an offstage counselor.

My first reaction was: HOGWASH! But after thinking about if for awhile, I've changed my mind and decided it might very well be what was rumored. It could be that Bush actually has a cochlear implant for surreptitiously communicating with him during his many speeches and other activities. That would actually make a lot of sense. And I wouldn't put it past Karl Rove to use something like that to take unfair advantage of Kerry. I can't find anything in the debate agreement that they couldn't actually do that, but I admit I didn't read all 32 pages in detail.

I could see that anything implanted in the President's head would be necessarily very small and not have much range, so they might need to increase the range/sensitivity, thus the need for the back pack. But why not put it lower on the back where it would be better hidden?

While I'm talking about older debates, the web site mentioned by Cheney during the VP debate,, has been restored. It no longer redirects to

Go check it out and click on the header at the top where it says "The facts about" for a pop-up with an explanation of who they are and why they did what they did. Basically it was to save their servers and their own bandwidth. They also say they didn't redirected to in order to save from crippling loads. That was thoughtful of them.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


My reaction during and immediately after the debate was that it was pretty much a draw. That was pretty much my reaction to both their presentation styles. And tempered somewhat, I admit, by the fact that Edwards is a lawyer and my view of lawyers in general tends to be on the negative side.

However, after seeing what the fact checkers have come up with about the debate, I've come to the conclusion that Edwards was really the winner of the debate. That's because of Cheney's many misstatements, misquotes and wrong facts. Not that Edwards was always correct, but his "truthful score" in the debate is much better than Cheney's.

Cheney comes across as a very likeable, stable individual. However, it is very unsettling that the current Vice President deals with such erroneous information. I seriously wonder if he's really the right person for the job of VP.

Edwards comes across (to me) as a slick slime-ball lawyer. But he's got his facts mostly right and his priorities are also right on. He was continually talking about Kerry, while Cheney only mentioned Bush 2 or 3 times. Cheney's failure here can be attributed to either he's under the misconception that the Vice Presidential debate is about the Vice President or that subconsiously he himself doesn't really buy into the Bush presidency. Hmmm!

For the facts, one place I went was the site where Cheney meant to send people to check about Halliburton: Click here for their take on the VP debate facts. FYI, where Cheney actually sent people was, which is an eye-opener itself. Try the link.

For more debate facts, check out the Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball column in Newsweek.

Monday, October 04, 2004

In politics, I try to keep an open mind and welcome other peoples opinions and truthful information about current and past events to help me form my own opinions.

I am a registered Republican and have historically voted that way. But I'm really considering switching to Independent because of the obnoxious swing the Republican Party has taken since about the time of those bizarre impeachment proceedings. I have begun to question if the Republicans in general are trustworthy enough to be elected to office. It seems that some are, but many are not. What a revolting development that has been!

The last year or so, I have been reading much about the present administration in the media (newspapers and cable news) and blogs. Much of it is critical of what's happening at the White House. Maybe I'm just reading the critical articles. For TV news I mostly watch CNN, but I do also cycle through Fox and MSNBC. For newspapers, I read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Sunday NY Times, TimeMagazine and the NY Times and Washington Post web sites. If you have any suggestions for other places to get my input, I'd certainly like to take a look.

One of the things I look for in a candidate is whether or not they tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And whether or not their associates and allied organizations tell the truth.

As an aside, old naive me used to assume most people would tell the truth and in cases like the presidential election, if they were not telling the truth, it would soon be uncovered and reported in the media. Well, times have changed. Or maybe it's me that's changed.

But back to my quest for a truthful politician . . . Nowadays with the Internet and a broadband connection, it's pretty easy to research what people are saying and whether it's the truth or not. Or at least find an opposing viewpoint and come to a conclusion as to which sounds the most truthful.

Thoughts on Bush & Co
From what I've been reading, I certainly am really concerned about what the Bush administration has done in many areas and how it goes about doing it. It starts with the way he took the election in 2000 and goes from there. I firmly believe the current policies are taking us toward disaster fiscally, environmentally and with the terrorists. And that really scares me. It also bothers me that the policies are being implemented in deceitful and manipulative ways. I have plenty of details about all that, but don't want to take the time here.

I also believe that Bush is an expert in manipulating systems. That can be a good characteristic of a President, but unfortunately Bush does it mainly for his own and his associates' benefit. And he has a lifelong history of doing that. Several examples that come to mind from the current press are his National Guard service, the 2000 election, and the recent tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy. And there are many more.

I am also very concerned about federal spending in the next four (and more) years. In looking at the track record of Bush & Co, I'm really aghast at the spending of the last 4 years. And the current deficits. Somebody has to pay for all all this sooner or later. We're seeing effects already with the value of the dollar dropping as much as it has. We're also going to see inflation come roaring back and if we continue on the path we're on, there will be a fiscal crisis. Remember the inflation of the late 70's and early 80's that helped pay for the Vietnam war? Something like that is in our future. And I blame it all on Bush & Company. Well, maybe just mostly. I don't think he deserves a second chance - the stakes are too high. I mean really high!

Party Platforms
I tend to completely disregard the platforms of both parties because I think they are what the parties believe will attract the most voters and are not realistic in what will be accomplished if the party wins the election. The Republican platform certainly doesn't truly reflect the opinions of the administration. The platform is actually pretty moderate, designed to attract mainstream voters. In reality, Bush and his colleagues are all ultra-conservative. I think that's pretty obvious in many of the things they've done. To make my point, I only have to mention one name: John Ashcroft.

I think something really needs to be done about tort reform, but with all the %^&*$ lawyers in Congress and the lawyers lobbies, I really don't think either Kerry or Bush will be able to do anything. Same applies to a simplified income tax. And I think any promise by either party about either of these is purely hogwash.

Kerry's Vietnam experiences
As for the things Kerry said/did 30 years ago, my opinion is just that: they were things he said and did a long time ago. Ancient history. It was also after returning from a traumatic experience in that hell hole named Vietnam. And he wasn't much older than Bush's daughters, who really made a spectacle of themselves on national TV at the Republican Convention. I think he's matured considerably since then and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

And since there are conflicting stories about what he did 30 years ago, I choose to believe the U.S. Senator and person respected enough by his party to be selected to represent them in the presidential election, rather than some unknown loosely knit group whose qualifications are that they were somewhere in Vietnam sometime during the war there. Especially since they are backed by the same people that are backing Bush & Co.