If you do not get it from yourself, where will you go for it?
My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate---that's my philosophy.
No more words. Hear only the voice within.
---Jalal Ad-Din Rumi
What to say as we enter the final week of preparation for America's 2006 election? Can anyone remember or reference a midterm election so momentous? I think it's safe to say they're usually so uninteresting many people forget to vote at all. But not this one. There's a sense of desperation in the attack ads of one politician against another. FactCheck.org, run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, said Friday the quality of mud being slung is industrial scale...and gives incredible examples from around the country. http://www.factcheck.org/article460.html
I have a category for a certain kind of voter that I call the Quiet Conservative. These people tend to rise above all controversy and dispute. They often are or have been administrators or managers of some kind. They've trained themselves simply to observe the currents of power and opinion in their surroundings and make their decisions accordingly. Usually I can't tell which political party they tend to favor...and probably they don't favor any at all, making contributions as the flow of the polls and markets indicate. They follow the money, be it funding or profit. But this year the QC's in my acquaintance have gotten tense and irritable in recent days. One guy came up to me last week, shook my hand as usual, and said, also as usual, "Here's my good friend whose stuff I love to read, but don't always agree with"...and then uncharacteristically punched me in the arm. It hurt a bit. Maybe there's an edgy mood now. Beware the Quiet Conservative.
What is it about and what is at stake? Well, there are lots of issues...like education and healthcare and the environment. And the Terror War of course. But Republicans tell us profits are high, the economy is robust. (If I hear the word "robust" one more time I may blow a gasket!) Bloomberg is reporting this morning we're in the most vigorous stocks rally in a year. Third quarter earnings of Exxon, Chevron, Amazon.com, and of course Halliburton are through the roof, breaking profit records on all sides. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=axTprEZ.pMuE&refer=us Given all the favorable treatment from the feds, doesn't this mean they'll immediately begin trickling down the benefits to the rest of us...and especially the working stiff who's voted Republican every time since Reagan?
Ah, but what is going on inside Halliburton? Is this company sleeping in White House sheets? Does Cheney's secret "energy" plan still involve him with his old firm or not? Heather Wokusch, in a must-read article, says, "In a stunning conflict of interest, Cheney still holds more than 400,000 stock options in the company." Is there anything wrong with that? Here we have Halliburton posting a 22% increase in profits this quarter due, they say, to fewer disruptions from hurricanes this year. When was the last time you saw your earnings climb 22%? "Halliburton's Iraq-related work contributed nearly $1.2 billion in revenue in the third quarter of 2006 and $45 million of operating income, a performance that pleased analysts. 'Iraq was better than expected,' said Jeff Tillery, analyst with Pickering Energy Partners Inc. 'Overall, there is nothing really to question or be skeptical about. I think the results are very good.' http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/fn/4279402.html It's that remark by Mr. Tillery that sets the stage for Ms. Wokusch's article about the money the entire Bush family is raking in from the invasion of Iraq. http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Oct06/Wokusch27.htm
But back to my question about Halliburton? Is there anything wrong with this? I guess most of the work being done to "reconstruct" Iraq specifically is in the hands of a subsidiary called KBR. (Since I worked for TRW a couple years, I confess to suspicions of companies with only initials for names.) Like Halliburton, KBR is in the business of oil and gas exploration. Perhaps as a civic duty, these companies are volunteering to restore schools, hospitals, electricity, water...stuff like that. But their expertise, and also one of their contracted chores, is to restore Iraq's "oil infrastructure." The New York Times reports yesterday KBR is refusing transparency in their auditing practices to Congressional oversight. Now why would they do that? They say their competitors could learn too many of their trade secrets. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/28/world/middleeast/28reconstruct.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
At the same time, Halliburton/KBR reportedly are subcontracting their work out to companies in Kuwait, Lebanon, and other countries not unsympathetic to the US. Those outfits bring in workers from a global labor market representing the Philippines, India, Pakistan, and other south Asian countries. Some work for $10 a day and there are reports of stinking living conditions and regular beatings. http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=35239 Furthermore, conveniently Halliburton is about to "spin off" KBR momentarily, which sale probably means no one can expect Halliburton to know anything about anything that KBR's been up to. For a complete transcript of the Halliburton conference call last week to its investors and friends, in which profits and plans for KBR were announced, it's here for free~~~http://energy.seekingalpha.com/article/19026
Joe Galloway writes for Military.com. He's the senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder and has been writing about war for 40 years. Desert Storm's Schwarzkopf called him "the finest combat correspondent of our generation -- a soldier's reporter and a soldier's friend." Thursday he published a scathing indictment of the Bush administration called "Ruining America." http://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202,117849,00.html The lead article in the November 16th issue of The New York Review of Books is by Garry Wills, and it takes a look at the authenticity of Bush's faith-based approach to everything. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/19590 The problems facing the Republican Party this week are chronicled well by Jonathan Schell in the lead article called "The Torture Election" for the new issue of The Nation. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20061113/schell Speaking of torture, Garrison Keillor continued his relentless attack on the Torture Bill this week both with his column in the Chicago Trib and on his broadcast last night, in which he portrayed Cheney as a mechanical Halloween ghoul that chortles at simulated drowning. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0610250093oct25,1,6491333.column Prosecutor Fitzgerald apparently took apart one of Libby's star witnesses last week, a psychologist expert in matters of memory---you know, since so many of these guys just can't seem to recall certain conversations and stuff. Don't miss this Washington Post account~~~http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/26/AR2006102601612.html
So with the crumbling away, piece by piece, of this horrendous Bush administration, what is the big issue remaining that we worry about? It's whether there will be a fair election in this United States. The situation was summed up very well in Friday's Guardian: the electronic voting machines are a mess. "Ballot Box Chaos" The Guardian calls it. http://www.guardian.co.uk/midterms2006/story/0,,1932655,00.html Worse, the American Statistical Association is predicting dozens of major elections to be coming down to a wire too close to call by any technology available. http://www.amstat.org/news/StatisticalIssuesInElections.pdf (Go to amstat.org if you can't handle the pdf.) Yet another computer programmer, this one specializing in secure currency exchange for banks, published this week a huge article condemning electronic voting entirely. http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_bruce_o__061025_pull_the_plug_on_e_v.htm and http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_bruce_o__061026_pull_the_plug_on_e_v.htm .
Yes, we all must vote one more time. We must do it, one way or another. And we must report and protest any problems we encounter. And what will it mean if we lose? What will America be like after two more years of this? Will it be the end of the road? Are there Americans who would be relieved to bother no longer with freedom?