Tuesday, September 28, 2004

email from Iraq

Steve Gilliard posted the following email from a medical professional stationed in Iraq. I think it should be required reading. Unfortunately, with all the MASH reruns, we have forgotten the horror that attends this sort of grueling but necessary work:

This is an e-mail a reader sent me. It's from a friend of his in Iraq

The daily news reports are somewhat antiseptic and it's easy to lose track of the meaning of the words. Those in our positions should not.This is a note I received this morning from a colleague working in Iraq. This is what it's like. Today. Last week. I've taken the ID off of it, but it's a trustworthy source from my immediate sphere of friends and I know him well.

GSW is gunshot wound. EPW is Enemy Prisoner of War. IED is Improvised Explosive Device (a roadside bomb). KIA is Killed in Action.

Subject: Casualty reportHello,How is everyone at [Deleted]? I suspect things are all still going well and the clinic continues to run smoothly. Apart from a sighting of the bat in the bat cave, things in general are about the same out here. The bat was a trip, as it flew around in circles in the hooch like, well, a bat out of hell I guess. The casualties picked up some this week which was too bad, and we had one day in particular which was a bad one. Otherwise life out here has developed a routine, and it seems as though the time is starting to go by faster. The team itself is getting better and more efficient with each resuscitation, and we all seem to work well with each other for the most part. Our surgeon, although for the most part a really good guy, can get a little uppity sometimes if things don't go exactly how he says they should (he seems to think the only person in the room with any clinical judgement is him), but even that isn't really a big deal. It's just a bit of an adjustment stepping out of the role of being in charge and being the boy again. I'm good at being the boy and can do what I'm told as well as anybody else, but it has been a bit of an adjustment.

Anyway, I thought I'd drop you a line to let you know we've seen over the last couple of weeks or so.I'm not sure if I told you about the family who came in I think a little over a week ago (time out here is a weird thing and hard to keep straight). The story is a little muddled, but apparently they ran a check point. It's unclear whether they confused stop with go or if they were really running the check point, but regardless of the specifics they ran a check point and were taken under fire by a combination of M-16's and at least 1 50cal machine gun. The car was apparently a wreck and we had 5 casualties come into us. There were apparently 2 or 3 KIA at the scene, including a young child who I think was 8 (they don't bring the civilian KIA in to us thank goodness). The guy I took care of had his right foot nearly taken off by a 50cal round. It was hanging by tissue and sinew, and ultimately got amputated. Apart from now being a legless old man, he otherwise did fine. The other casualties included an old woman with a GSW to the L chest who had a large L sided hemothorax with 800cc of bloody drainage. She eventually developed respiratory distress and got intubated, but otherwise didn't have any injuries. She was transferred to Al Asad, but I have no idea what happened to her after. Another woman had a GSW to her L flank, and despite maybe having a hemotoma around her L kidney on FAST exam was otherwise hemodynamically stable and did fine while she was here. Another guy had a GSW to his L shoulder and developed a tension PTX (picked up on follow up exam as subQ air). He had a chest tube placed and his shoulder dressed and did fine while he was here. He was also sent to Al Asad. The 5th guy had a some superficial wounds but did fine.

We had a couple other Iraqi civilian/EPW casualties related to check point violations around the same time (I'm not sure if this was because the Marines have been jumpy recently, or there was some kind of insurgent offensive going on).One guy was driving a water truck and had both feet nearly completely taken off by a 50cal round. Impressive injuries which shattered the bone and left his L foot dangling, but he was amazingly neuromuscularly intact. He kept both legs, and after having on external fixater placed on his L leg he was sent to Baghdad for definitive repair. Another guy had several GSW to his chest but had amazingly had no significant injuries and didn't require any procedures. Bullets are funny things and seem to have a mind of their own sometimes.

And the last Iraqi civilian was a poor old woman who came in last night at around 0400. The Marines were apparently conducting a house to house search, and this woman didn't answer her door right away. Can't blame her really because at 0400 we didn't answer our door right away either when they came to tell us about her. She apparently did answer, but not in time, for as she was reaching to open the door the Marines blew the lock with a shotgun. It appears as though she took most of the shotgun blast to her L arm, for when she came in the L distal L humerous and proximal radius were shattered with no complete loss of structural integrity to her L arm. Although the arm was vascularly intact, she had no sensation and ended up losing the arm. I got to intubate her in the OR, but otherwise all of these stories are pretty tragic and sad, and events like these unfortunately will not go far in the campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people. It's difficult to really explain the emotions they conjure (other than sadness I'm not sure I had to many), but one question comes up over and over again when I see these types of accidents- "What the fuck are we going out here?" I guess that's not really for me to ask right now though. I don't place any blame on the Marines for this stuff. They are doing their job, and if I went out everyday with the prospect of getting killed by an IED or some other unseen enemy, I would most assuredly shoot first and ask questions later in the wake of any suspicious activity. It's a dangerous place, and one can only hope that it gets better over the next few years.

We've also unfortunately had some Marine casualties. On Monday (at least I think it was Monday), we had a slew of them. We got two guys initially with superficial shrapnel wounds sustained when their Humvee was hit by an IED. They had minor wounds and did fine.

About an hour later we got two Marines from different locations. One guy had taken a head shot by what people think may be a sniper out there. He had a GCS of 3 and was initially intubated, but after a more thorough exam was found to have a transcranial injury with a fixed and dilated L pupil and was triaged to expectant. He was given morphine for comfort care, and eventually died an hour later. The second guy ran over a mine in his Humvee. He had some facial burns and had sustained by bilateral lower extremity wounds. His R leg was twisted at impossible angles and pulseless, and had open fractures to his L foot and I think he may have and an open femur fracture. He was intubated for airway protection in light of his facial burns and had a disarticulation of his R leg at the knee, the L leg was just splinted, and he was transferred to Baghdad. Apparently they fixed his L leg somehow, and Pete is probably now taking care of him in Germany.

While that guy was in the OR we got a call about another guy who was coming in as an urgent surgical (really sick). He unfortunately had also sustained a head shot from a sniper (who knows if it was the same one or not), and he died before he got here. When we saw him, the back of his head was shattered and you could feel the bones floating around. While moving him into the body bag, his bandage slipped off his head, and I found myself looking into the young man's eyes. He had big green eyes, and appeared to be looking right through me. What he was asking me I don't know, and will probably never know. Although I had his blood all over my boots and pants and was a bit shaken as I was washing it off, he has not haunted me the way some of the others have, so I don't think he was angry with me in any way. It was a bit disturbing and capped off a shitty day.

The last 2 Marines we had come in the other day. Their tank was hit by some kind of missile, and I think these were the guys up in the turrets. One guy came in KIA with the left side of his face blown away, and his left arm missing. I didn't go see this guy (I don't know but maybe I needed a break). The other guy came is with an open fracture of his L humerous with exposed muscle and the like all up the back of his arm, and open fractures of several of his R metacarpals with avulsion of most of the skin off his R hand. He had a small L neck hematoma and some superficial facial lacks, but he had a GCS of 15, was talking to us, had bilateral breath sounds and was hemodynamically stable. Our anesthesia provider and I both thought his airway was intact, and felt that although he needed to go to the OR for debridement and the like, he was not in need of an emergent airway. I suppose because of the neck hematoma, our surgeon disagreed and started to tell us to intubate him in that pompous holier than thou kind of way all surgeons seem to have. Despite his urgings, we took the opportunity to finish our exam before placing the ET tube, to which he took further exception. The guy eventually got intubated and went to the OR for a successful debridement of his wounds and arrived in Baghdad without incident. The surgeon, however, made a big deal about us not following his instructions to the letter when he told us to, sqwauking about he was the resident expert on trauma (he is), how we were making him look bad in front of the corpsmen, and how we were hurting his feelings by questioning his clinical judgement (like we don't have any of our own).

We had a meeting about the whole thing which resulted in people deciding that because he is the resident expert we will do whatever he tells us to do. Hence my earlier comments about being the boy. I guess that's just surgeons, but the fact that he cried like a woman because he didn't get his way irked me for a few days. He's really a good guy and I've gotten over it. I'll just be the boy. I am the junior guy with the least experience in this stuff after allAnyway, that's all I have for you guys. I hope you are all well. I'll keep sending periodic updates about what is happening over here. Hopefully things will slow down some.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Where does the time go for political seers?

We are down to almost a month before the election and 2 days to the first presidential debate and the trends, if there are any, in this fevered period are less visible than Cassieopeia on a cloudy Seattle night.

It seems that Washington, the state, will go Democratic in a big way. Rossi has failed to create any momentum from his first debate with Gregoire and McKenna is a nonentity. Normally in state wide races, I could care less how the republicans do, it's just that McKenna's opponent, Deborah Senn, is such a walking disaster that it's hard not to worry about the long term ramifications should she win.

The Attorney General is the second most visible statewide office in state government and one of the keys to a successful tenure is a good relationship with the state legislature. Not only does the legislature fund the 460+ attorney office, it also must approve any legislative initiatives coming from the AG's office which seek to amend bad laws and propose new laws to meet new situations. And from my insider informant in the state house, it is clear that a Senn election would be met not just by stony silence from both sides of the aisles in Olympia, but by active sabotage efforts. When Senn was the Insurance Commissioner, she regularly tried to ride over the backs of state legislators to get what she wanted. And when that didn't work, she resorted to connivance. Many of these legislators are still in office and they not only have long memories, they have long knives as well. As I can certify, testifying before a legislative committee is not as fun as a root canal. But it is necessary if you want to get those things like pay raises that are so necessary to running the AGO. Don't expect Senn to do the hard work required. Instead I predict that should she be elected, her tenure will be marked by guerilla warfare and a trenches mentality, with Senn sending in proxies to do her job so she has someone else to blame when things go south

Hope I'm wrong.

Moe, busy reading entrails on this harvest moon night

Friday, September 24, 2004

Publius hits one out of the park

Legal Fiction

law, politics, and culture from a southern, non-Federalist Society (ex)-law clerk
Friday, September 24, 2004


___________Lately I’ve been trying hard to avoid shrillness. After reading Dana Milbank’s collection of quotes today, I’m convinced that shrillness is the only proper response.Before I get to that, let’s start with the latest Glenn Reynolds/Andrew Sullivan outrage – Joe Lockhart’s disparaging comments about Allawi being a puppet. Sullivan is outraged by them – Reynolds is as well. Now, I will agree that under normal circumstances, the following comments would be irresponsible:

The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and
you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips.

But these are not normal circumstances. Allawi was brought here – forty days from the election – as part of the Bush re-election strategy, and everyone knows it. This was supposed to be a victory lap, further solidifying the themes presented at the Republican Convention – until Kerry and reality intruded. Indeed, Allawi even adopted Bush talking points about how much progress Iraq was making, and that the terrorists were "getting more desperate."

So, let’s dispense with the little charade about how this trip was beyond politics. It was entirely about politics.Second, given that Bush is so radioactive in Iraq right now, I think that trotting out Allawi in the Rose Garden does little to help his legitimacy in the eyes of American-hating Iraqis. On this point, Lockhart is right on. The more Allawi is seen as a puppet of Bush (which was pretty much confirmed this week), the less chance of success he – and thus we – have. If I'm right, then Bush is sacrificing Allawi's legitimacy for the sake of his re-election.I also want to address some of the despicable quotes listed in Milbank’s article today in which he describes the clearly coordinated attack that Kerry’s criticisms are hurting our troops and helping the enemy. Here are a few:

Bush: “You can embolden an enemy by sending a mixed message. You can dispirit the Iraqi people by sending mixed messages. You send the wrong message to our troops by sending mixed messages.

Cheney: John Kerry is trying to tear down all the good that has been accomplished, and his words are destructive to our effort in Iraq and in the global war on terror.The surrogates were even more explicit. Milbank lists more. My favorite was Orrin Hatch: “[Democrats are] consistently saying things that I think undermine our young men and women who are serving over there.”I’ll tell you what undermines our troops – getting troops killed undermines troops, Mr. Hatch – not criticizing the failed policies that got them killed in the first place. Bumbling an occupation and having no plan undermines troops. And Mr. Cheney, I’ll tell you what’s destructive to our effort in the global war on terror – your invasion of Iraq, which was Osama’s wet dream. And Mr. Bush, I’ll tell you how to embolden an enemy – invade the second-holiest land of Islam for no reason and then execute the war without a shred of competence. Lying about our progress also sends the wrong message to the people who are actually fighting your terrorist-aiding war. Let’s not forget that. We know exactly who – and what policies – have emboldened our enemies and undermined our troops. And it’s not John Kerry, or his criticisms of your failure. Nice try, though.And last thing, Glenn Reynolds wins the Hermann Goering Award today.

If you’ll remember Goering’s famous line:
Gilbert [the interviewer]: "There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars." Göring: "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

And now, Glenn Reynolds:
This is behavior that is absolutely unacceptable coming from a Presidential campaign in wartime, and it's not an isolated incident but part of a pattern of such behavior. Joe Lockhart should apologize for these remarks, and Kerry should fire him. Otherwise you're going to hear a lot of people questioning Kerry's patriotism. And they'll be right to.I for one am sick and tired of hearing attacks on those who attack failed policies that got our troops killed, destabilized the Middle East, and have been the biggest gift ever to militant Islam. Don’t blame the messenger, buddy.

Iraq: looking through the lens of history

By Barbara Garson

Barbara Garson is the author of the 1960s antiwar play "Macbird" and, most recently, "Money Makes the World Go Round" (Penguin, 2002).

September 23, 2004

During a lull in the war between Athens and Sparta, the Athenians decided to invade and occupy Sicily. Thucydides tells us in "The Peloponnesian War" that "they were, for the most part, ignorant of the size of the island and the numbers of its inhabitants ... and they did not realize that they were taking on a war of almost the same magnitude as their war against the Peloponnesians."

According to Thucydides, the digression into Sicily in 416 BC -- a sideshow that involved lying exiles, hopeful contractors, politicized intelligence, a doctrine of preemption -- ultimately cost Athens everything, including its democracy.

Nicias, the most experienced Athenian general, had not wanted to be chosen for the command. "His view was that the city was making a mistake and, on a slight pretext which looked reasonable, was in fact aiming at conquering the whole of Sicily -- a considerable undertaking indeed," wrote Thucydides.

Nicias warned that it was the wrong war against the wrong enemy and that the Athenians were ignoring their real enemies -- the Spartans -- while creating new enemies elsewhere. "It is senseless to go against people who, even if conquered, could not be controlled," he argued.
Occupying Sicily would require many soldiers, Nicias insisted, because it meant establishing a new government among enemies. "Those who do this [must] either become masters of the country on the very first day they land in it, or be prepared to recognize that, if they fail to do so, they will find hostility on every side."

The case for war, meanwhile, was made by the young general Alcibiades, who was hoping for a quick victory in Sicily so he could move on to conquer Carthage. Alcibiades, who'd led a dissolute youth (and who happened to own a horse ranch, raising Olympic racers) was a battle-tested soldier, a brilliant diplomat and a good speaker. (So much for superficial similarities.)

Alcibiades intended to rely on dazzling technology -- the Athenian armada -- instead of traditional foot soldiers. He told the Assembly he wasn't worried about Sicilian resistance because the island's cities were filled with people of so many different groups. "Such a crowd as this is scarcely likely either to pay attention to one consistent policy or to join together in concerted action... The chances are that they will make separate agreements with us as soon as we come forward with attractive suggestions."

Another argument for the war was that it would pay for itself. A committee of Sicilian exiles and Athenian experts told the Assembly that there was enough wealth in Sicily to pay the costs of the war and occupation. "The report was encouraging but untrue," wrote Thucydides.
Though war was constant in ancient Greece, it was still usually justified by a threat, an insult or an incident. But the excursion against Sicily was different, and Alcibiades announced a new, or at least normally unstated, doctrine.

"One does not only defend oneself against a superior power when one is attacked: One takes measures in advance to prevent the attack materializing," he said.

When and where should this preemption doctrine be applied? Alcibiades gave an answer of a sort. "It is not possible for us to calculate, like housekeepers [perhaps a better translation would be "girlie men"], exactly how much empire we want to have. The fact is that we have reached a state where we are forced to plan new conquests and forced to hold on to what we have got because there is danger that we ourselves may fall under the power of others unless others are in our power."

Alcibiades' argument carried the day, but before the invasion, the Athenian fleet sailed around seeking allies among the Hellenic colonies near Sicily. Despite the expedition's "great preponderance of strength over those against whom it set out," only a couple of cities joined the coalition.

At home, few spoke out against the Sicilian operation. "There was a passion for the enterprise which affected everyone alike," Thucydides reports. "The result of this excessive enthusiasm of the majority was that the few who actually were opposed to the expedition were afraid of being thought unpatriotic if they voted against it, and therefore kept quiet."

In the face of aggressive posturing, Nicias appealed to the Assembly members to show true courage. "If any of you is sitting next to one of [Alcibiades'] supporters," Nicias said, "do not allow yourself to be browbeaten or to be frightened of being called a coward if you do not vote for war... Our country is on the verge of the greatest danger she has ever known. Think of her, hold up your hands against this proposal and vote in favor of leaving the Sicilians alone."
We don't know how many Athenians had secret reservations, but few hands went up against the war.

In the end, the Athenians lost everything in Sicily. Their army was defeated and their navy destroyed. Alcibiades was recalled early on; Nicias was formally executed while thousands of Athenian prisoners were left in an open pit, where most died.

The Sicilians didn't follow up by invading Attica; they just wanted Athens out. But with the leader of the democracies crippled, allies left the Athenian League. Then the real enemy, Sparta, ever patient and cautious, closed in over the next few years. But not before Athens descended, on its own, into a morass of oligarchic coups and self- imposed tyranny.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

What if the US was in Iraq's position?

I've been a fan of doomsday scenario science fiction books. On the Beach was an early one that I enjoyed. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Miller goes a long way to explaining the medieval mind to modern day denizens, and as a medieval history major in college, it really helped bring that period to life in a way that dry history texts could not.

That said, I think the following observations by Juan Cole, professor at the University of Michigan make it far more clear the hell we have created in Iraq and why we will not win there. Read it and understand. Someday, we too will be the statue in the desert, Ozymandius, proclaiming to the empty desert to despair at our mighty works.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?President Bush said Tuesday that the Iraqis are refuting the pessimists and implied that things are improving in that country.

What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number. Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans.

What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire?

What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

What if all the reporters for all the major television and print media were trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis?

What if the only time they ventured into the Midwest was if they could be embedded in Army or National Guard units?There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged in concerted acts of violence.

What if there were private armies totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal again!), rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country?

What if they completely controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops could not go into those cities?

What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi), the President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?

What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year?

What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?

What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach, killing hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers?

What if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial?

What if the National Council of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?

What if there were virtually no commercial air traffic in the country?

What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially Interstate 95 from Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston? If you got on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you would risk being carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed with machine gun fire.

What if no one had electricity for much more than 10 hours a day, and often less? What if it went off at unpredictable times, causing factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of the summer in Houston and Miami?

What if the Alaska pipeline were bombed and disabled at least monthly?

What if unemployment hovered around 40%?

What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis?

What if municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to the new "president" quietly installed in the statehouses as "governors?"

What if several of these governors (especially of Montana and Wyoming) were assassinated soon after taking office or resigned when their children were taken hostage by guerrillas?

What if the leader of the European Union maintained that the citizens of the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner?

Rev. Swaggert meet Rev Crouch

Jimmy Swaggert, the defrocked prostitute frolicking minister said the other day that if a homosexual so much as looked at him 'that way,' he'd kill him and take it to god. Turns out that per the LA Times, the Rev. Paul Crouch, a real greedy born again living in S. California, just settled a lawsuit accusing him of a homosexual encounter for $425K.

What say you that we introduce the two? A match made in heaven, no doubt.


Cat Stevens denied entry to the US

I would hope that this, if nothing else, would do a little something to convince brain dead Baby Boomers that this administration does not know its ass from a hole in the ground.

The Former Cat Stevens Gets Plane Diverted
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday when it was discovered passenger Yusuf Islam - formerly known as singer Cat Stevens - was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country, federal officials said.
United Airlines Flight 919 was en route to Dulles International Airport when the match was made between a passenger and a name on the watch list, said Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration. The plane was met by federal agents at Maine's Bangor International Airport around 3 p.m., Melendez said.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Dennis Murphy identified the passenger as Islam. "He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds," Murphy said, and would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday.
Officials had no details about why the peace activist might be considered a risk to the United States. Islam had visited New York in May to promote a DVD of his 1976 MajiKat tour.

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Islam, 56, was identified by the Advanced Passenger Information System, which requires airlines to send passenger information to Customs and Border Protection's National Targeting Center. The Transportation Security Administration then was contacted and requested that the plane land at the nearest airport, that official said.

Melendez said Islam was questioned by FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Another federal official, who is in law enforcement and spoke anonymously because of agency policy, said that after the interview, Customs officials decided to deny Islam entry into the United States.

Flight 919 eventually continued on to Dulles after Islam was removed from the flight.
Islam, who was born Stephen Georgiou, took Cat Stevens as a stage name and had a string of hits in the 1960s and '70s, including "Wild World" and "Morning Has Broken." Last year he released two songs, including a re-recording of his '70s hit "Peace Train," to express his opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

He abandoned his music career in the late 1970s and changed his name after being persuaded by orthodox Muslim teachers that his lifestyle was forbidden by Islamic law. He later became a teacher and an advocate for his religion, founding a Muslim school in London in 1983.

Islam drew some negative attention in the late 1980s when he supported the Ayatollah Khomeini's death sentence against Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses." Recently, though, Islam has criticized terrorist acts, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the school seizure in Beslan, Russia, earlier this month that left more than 300 dead, nearly half of them children.

In a statement on his Web site, he wrote, "Crimes against innocent bystanders taken hostage in any circumstance have no foundation whatsoever in the life of Islam and the model example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him."

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Islam issued a statement saying: "No right thinking follower of Islam could possibly condone such an action: The Quran equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of the whole of humanity."

Yusuf Islam: http://www.yusufislam.org.uk/

Friday, September 17, 2004

Washington dems have no reason to cheer state ballot

I am a resident of the great socialist republic of the state of Washington, and have been for 20+ years. I can truthfully state that since arriving here in 1981 as part of the Reagan Refugee Resettlement Program, I have never seen a statewide Democratic ballot at the top that is so lacklusterand filled with individuals who are more after personal aggrandizement than the public good.

Let's look at the top two candidates:

Christine O' Grady Gregoire. She is driven and a control freak. She runs the Attorney General's Office by fear and intimidation. She destroyed the reputation of a young. talented attorney in a vain attempt to get the office's errors and omissions policy to cover the $16+ million cost of a missed appeal deadline. She promoted an attorney as Division Chief of the Consumer Protection Division who spent more time harrassing underlings and driving them off the staff than he did prosecuting fraudulent businesses. And when an in house investigation revealed his misdeeds he was 'demoted' to Olympia to work with another division where he still earns in excess of $90K. This from a woman who trumpeted a 'zero tolerance' sexual harassment policy at the beginning of her 12 year reign at the AGO. Finally, have you ever seen COG ever take responsibility for any bad decision or statement without first trying to blame someone, anyone, else? Truman famously said, "The buck stops here." And that is as it should be. Those who are elected to positions of power bear corresponding amounts of responsibility. Ms. Gregoire has never been able to accept this part of the equation.

Deborah Senn: She's is actually Gregoire lite in terms of brains and ten times worse than Gregoire to work for or with. Her relationship with the state legislature is marked by deep hostility. During her term as insurance commissioner, it was discovered that in settlements she had reached with insurance companies, she had included a settlement provision giving money to the Insurance Commissioner's office for 'education purposes,' or some similar misnomer. The result was that she was usurping the legislative prerogatives in authorizing and appropriating money to run her office. In essence this was shaking down insurance companies for extra cash. Her excuse when confronted by the media about this? "Well, Christine Gregoire does it." Honey, two wrongs do not make a right. Legislators have long memories. Funding for the AG office will be very interesting if she wins the election. As Insurance commissioner, she ran through staff attorneys like an SUV runs through gas. She was noted for calling staff at 11 oclock at night and screaming at them. And the Insurance Commissioner's office lost its accredidation for two years under her tenure. Definitely look for morale problems in the largest law office in the state of Washington if she is elected.

That is not to say that the Republicans opposing them are worthy of support. Dino Rossi is a snake oil salesman who supports a conservative agenda likely to plunge Washington into further recessionary spasms if elected. And Rob McKenna has his head on backwards if he thinks that medical malpractice lawsuits have anything to do with the rise in insurance costs. or that it is the fit province of the AG to pursue legislation further limiting medical malpractice suits. This state already bans punitive damages. And from what I've seen, juries are not overwhelmingly pro-plaintiff. His barking about this amounts to dishonest scare tactics and should be stopped.

Given that the choice in the presidential race is so clearly overwhelmingly for John F. Kerry as the only qualifed candidate, I hate to see the statewide races bringing down the ticket.