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Read this please... [08 Oct 2004|02:36pm]

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[05 Oct 2004|09:03pm]

A huge issue I have with this election and with thecurrent administration is the narrowmindedness of the policies, government efforts, speeches, and debates in our country right now. I believe America is a great nation, but we cannot support a leader (be it Bush OR Kerry) that only deals with one front at a time. Whether you view the efforts in Iraq as a success or not, what happened to the broader picture? Where were we when Korea was making more nuclear weapons? where are we right now is Sudan? Where are our military forces in the rest of the middle east? If this is a war on terrorism, why did we begin with a country that posed little threat compared to some of its neighbors? And isn't it interesting that although the genocide in Sudan was concurrent with our war in Iraq, we did nothing to help them. Isn't it a little strange that we chose Iraq over other, less...shall we say profitable, endeavors. I feel insulted that the war in iraq was supposedly part of the "war on terror", when our real motivation, to a large extent, was a foothold in the middle east, and oil.
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[05 Oct 2004|05:23pm]


We're Not on the Pacific Coast Highway Anymore, Toto

  Times Headlines
Why N. Korea Talks Matter So Much
To Buy Cheap or Not to Buy Cheap
Buck Stops in the Voting Booth
There Are Too Few Lawsuits, Not Too Many
We're Not on the Pacific Coast Highway Anymore, Toto



By Dan Neil, Dan Neil writes "Rumble Seat," The Times' column on cars.

Two kinds of people arrive at Baghdad International Airport. One group walks out of the terminal and is met by bull-necked men wearing body armor, fingerless gloves, Oakley sunglasses and extremely cool guns. These are personal security specialists — though I like to think of them as death generalists — who warily escort their new charges to enormous, armored Chevy Suburbans parked only a few feet from the terminal. The White Zone is for liberators only.

The bodyguards form a phalanx around the new arrivals, to avoid — in the argot of the profession — leaving the "package" out in the open.

The second group steps blinking and squinting into the scalding sunlight of central Iraq to be met by, well, nobody.

These are Iraqis, foreign aid workers, journalists and other low-value targets — which isn't to say they aren't worth attacking. It's just that they aren't worth guarding.

At this moment visitors become aware of, become a part of, Baghdad's caste system of the protected and the unprotected, the powerful and the powerless.

For them — and me — the trip into Baghdad begins on a dusty, bullet-riddled bus with a smashed windshield being propped up with a large wooden board.

Veteran passengers, I note, put their luggage against the windows to shield themselves from snipers. As I wedge my Andiamo against the glass I wonder, just how ballistic is "Ballistic Cordura" fabric?

This is the moment when all of Baghdad's unescorted, naked-in-the-wind visitors ask themselves, "What am I doing here?" I am not a war correspondent. I am The Times' automotive writer, whose previous exposure to risk amounted to driving fast in a Ferrari.

I have come to Baghdad, believe it or not, to write about the automotive war — the Humvees and armored personnel carriers, the convoys and suicide car bombs.

It seemed like such a clever idea for a story, back in Los Angeles. The bus — to which some refer, in all seriousness, as the "courtesy" bus — takes me to Checkpoint One at the airport perimeter, along a two-mile route of blast walls, revetments and concrete guard towers that mark the fence line of Camp Victory, the U.S. military base on the airport property. Along the way, the bus wends through chicanes of Jersey barriers and through fields of pavement ruptured by mortar fire.

The bus drops passengers off in a fenced-in parking lot, a couple of acres of sand scoured out of a thorny plain, where they can meet their transportation into the city itself. The 15-foot concrete walls thwarting snipers end here. Now it gets dangerous. Let the cringing begin.

The Matar Saddam Al-Duwali highway connecting the airport to the city is one of the most reliably hazardous roads in the country, plagued with sniper fire, car bombs and "improvised explosive devices," known by everyone here as IEDs — though, in my adrenaline-fueled jocularity I call them IUDs and recount to my Iraqi driver the Food and Drug Administration's heroic battle against them.

I get no love.

I tell him I am interested in the technology of car bombs. I've never seen a car bomb, I say, but I once owned a Ford Pinto.

Baghdad is a tough room.

The shoulders of the highway are bruised black-and-blue in places where car bombs have exploded or convoys have been attacked and vehicles burned. Here and there, the fused remains of a burned-out civilian car have been pushed off the road. Military vehicles are quickly removed. Black banners eulogizing the dead hang from blast walls, near graffiti calling down the wrath of Allah on the infidels.

Well, honestly, that's only what I, in my paranoid state, think it says. It could say "Baghdad High School Rocks! Go Scorpions!" OK, I admit it. I'm scared. There is nothing, absolutely nothing funny about the death and misery crowding the streets of Baghdad, no jibe to turn away the waste of life and wealth.

I made up a little song.

Baghdad, Baghdad,

It's a hell of a town.

The Tigris is up

Saddam's statue is down.

And people go around

Blowing holes in the ground.

Baghdad, Baghdad!

It's a hell of a TOWWWN!

I'm humming this to myself as we drive into the central city. At several points along the road we are passed by white armored Suburbans and Toyota Land Cruisers, each crammed with Western contractors. My driver slows down to put some distance between us. What gives?

It turns out the big SUVs are targets. The insurgents know that key figures in the occupation — technical and military contractors, embassy people, Iraqi politicians — travel in hardened cars, almost exclusively SUVs. A military bomb-squad expert I talk to later calls them "IED magnets."

Ironically then, the safest vehicles on the road are not the bunkers on wheels but tatty, nondescript vehicles like the beater Mercedes I'm riding in, flying below the jihadi radar.

It just seems like one more way we have got it wrong in Iraq. If I were a poor Iraqi taxi driver, trying to nurse my orange-and-white Volkswagen taxi a few more miles for a few more dinars, I too might despise the shiny new Suburbans. I too might want to penetrate their armor of impunity.

And, wait … there is a place where simply driving an SUV is a life-threatening event? Where the suburban steamrollers are even more hated than in Santa Monica?

Could this be an unholy alliance between Abu Musab Zaqarwi and Arianna Huffington?

OK, now that's funny.
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i be new [05 Oct 2004|05:40pm]

[ mood | tired ]

Name: Sue

Old enough to vote?: YES SIR-E!

Favorite quote from the election thus far: as found on Quotes of the Week on bbc.com: Rumsfeld - " To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two." (discussing the alleged link that was originally made between Osama bin Laden and Hussein

An issue that has a great impact on your vote (or vote to be): Women's rights

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[04 Oct 2004|03:48pm]
Name: Kate

Old enough to vote?: Nope

Favorite quote from the election thus far: "They should have named the Democratic National Convention after my movie, True Lies." -Arnold Schwarzeneggar(sp?) I mean after all, I think this quote truly captures the intelligence level of the Republican party. GO ARNIE AND BUSH!

An issue that has a great impact on your vote (or vote to be): Women's Rights (after all, it's not just "mudering babies" and all that!)
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[04 Oct 2004|03:14pm]


This is a community for people to speak their minds about the debates and the '04 election overall.

Please fill this in if it's your first post.  Or whatever...you know, it's cool.

Name: Addie

Old enough to vote?: Not yet

Favorite quote from the election thus far: "They attacked us"

An issue that has a great impact on your vote (or vote to be): Civil rights


Alright, let the debates begin.

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