Saturday, October 09, 2004
Afghani election fraud
According to Reuters,
Afghanistan's election authority said on Saturday the election process would continue in the country's historic presidential election despite a decision by most of the candidates to boycott the poll over irregularities.
Well, they might as well go ahead with it. It was a farce to begin with, and having only one candidate on the ballot is far more in tune with reality.
Howard gains in Australia
In the run-up to the election, a number of media outlets were featuring headlines such as "Iraq Again In Forefront as Australian Election Approaches" (Voice of America). This is crap.
While the initial decision to join the U.S. in the invasion of Iraq was heavily protested, opposition to involvement in the war cooled considerably for one very simple reason: not one Australian soldier has been killed. And as I've noted in another post, one of the reasons no soldier has been killed is that damned few of them are actually in Iraq—only 250 of the 850 to be exact. The rest are in Jordan or Kuwait. While Labor's Latham was promising to bring the troops home by Christmas, most Australians hadn't noticed that they'd gone missing.
The biggest factor was the economy, stupid. The Australian economy has been purring along, in large part thanks to China, which will buy anything not tied down, and the government has actually been running a surplus! (Remember the days when the U.S. had a surplus?) In the final days of the campaign Howard and Latham were in competition to see who could promise to outspend the other. But in the end the Australians just didn't want to rock the economic boat.
Bush will no doubt try to spin this as international support for his war, but it was no such thing. In any case, this is not the sort of news that will get any "traction." The American public's knowledge of Australia is pretty much limited to "Crocodile Dundee," and Bush forgot to include Australia as a member of his coalition during the first debate.
Friday, October 08, 2004
Russia: Bush's kind of country
First, Putin has decided to relieve the 89 regional governors from the debilitating experience of campaigning for election. He will just appoint them himself. He will also change the manner in which representatives to the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, will be elected.
According to the Washington Post,
Under his plan, Putin would appoint all governors to create a "single chain of command" and allow Russians to vote only for political parties rather than specific candidates in parliamentary elections. Putin characterized the changes as enhancing national cohesion in the face of a terrorist threat....
Unity über alles was an oft-repeated theme of Bush and Cheney in the recent debates.
Actually, the direct appointment of governors is not the only power that Putin is after. How about the judges? According to the Moscow Times,
A Federation Council bill to give the Kremlin the right to hire and fire judges would become the last nail in the coffin of Russia's already weak judiciary system, said two former senior judges who say they lost their posts after refusing to obey informal orders from the executive branch of government.
If the bill is approved, the judiciary system will be fully under the Kremlin's control, and the Kremlin will be able to get unconstitutional bills passed into law, Pashin said.
"The judiciary system is already under the Kremlin's influence," Kudeshkina said. "But if this terrible bill is approved, it means that we will lose any hope of seeing an independent judiciary system in Russia, since it will be completely in the hands of the Kremlin."
But there's always the media. NPR did a story on September 21, "Russia's New Terror Law May Restrict Media."
A Russian print journalist who was at Beslan relates her story of being drugged aboard a plane. The government's chief concern was apparently to hide the true number of hostages.
NPR's Emily Harris reported,
Most Russians get their news from television. Two of the three national channels are state-run, and the third is owned by the state-owned gas company. From Beslan, state television broadcast the official count of 354 hostages without question, although the actual number was about four times that. The OSCE report says journalists working in Beslan were then attacked by angry local citizens who knew the official number was far too low.
But are the Russians really enraged? The NPR story continues,
Some observers here credit President Vladimir Putin's easy re-election and a Parliament packed with supporters to his tight grip on television. But Alexander Galz, the deputy editor of the liberal weekly [Russian title] says that might be okay with a lot of Russians. "I spoiled a few discussions about freedom of press when I said, OK, guys, let us stop. Tell me, please, what freedom of press means for rank-and-file people. It means the ability to receive bad news. People want good news, and Putin and his people use this phenomenon perfectly." [my transcription]
So just how far are the Russians willing to go in trading off democracy and personal freedoms for a sense of security? The AP reported a new poll taken by a Russian polling organization, the Levada Center, that gives some answers—
With fear running high after a series of deadly terror attacks, many Russians would agree to significant limitations on their rights and freedoms to ensure security, pollsters and analysts said Wednesday.
... 60 percent of those surveyed said they would accept a temporary suspension of the right to travel abroad and move freely within Russia.
Fifty-nine percent would agree to the closure of organizations and publications that criticize Putin's policy on terror, it said - bad news for independent media and nongovernment groups that Putin has said are often out for their own good and not Russia's.
The poll said 89 percent favored more thorough document checks and searches of suspicious-looking people - which in Russia, where Chechen rebels have been blamed or claimed responsibility for most terrorist attacks, often means Chechens and others who don't look like ethnic Russians.
Fifty-seven percent said they would agree to let intelligence services monitor communications by telephone and the Internet, according to the agency, which polled 1,600 people nationwide Sept. 24-27. The survey's margin of error was 3 percentage points. [emphasis added]
It would be interesting to see the results of this poll if it were conducted in the United States. How do you think we would compare?
This is serious: Indymedia servers busted
The FBI has issued an order to hosting provider Rackspace in the US, ordering it to turn over two of the servers hosting the Independent Media Centre's websites in the UK, a statement from the group says.
Rackspace has offices in the US and the UK. Independent Media Center, which is better known as Indymedia, was set up in 1999 to provide grassroots coverage of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) protests in Seattle.
Rackspace complied with the FBI order, without first notifying Indymedia, and turned over Indymedia's server in the UK. This affects over 20 Indymedia sites worldwide, the group said.
In August the US Secret Service used a subpoena in an attempt to disrupt the New York city Independent Media Center before the Republican National COnvention by trying to get IP logs from an ISP in the US and the Netherlands.
Read the article.
If I have a quibble (well, perhaps more than a quibble), it is that I cannot find a definition of "pseudo-fascism" in his writing. To put it another way, if the political movement we are witnessing is to be termed "pseudo-fascism," in what ways does it differ from "authentic" fascism?
For me, the closest Neiwert comes to suggesting a definition is in this paragraph from Part 3—
... a hollow, pale imitation of a fraud -- which is what the pseudo-fascism now being practiced by the conservative movement amounts to -- can be readily revealed for what it is, if its opponents have the strength of character to stand up to them.
The fraud to which Neiwert refers is fascism itself. But I don't find "an imitation of a fraud" to be very satisfactory as a definition. In fairness, the paragraph occurs in the context of a discussion of George Bush, so I easily sense what Neiwert is getting at—at least when speaking of Bush, who lacks the essential commitment necessary to being a good fascist and is therefore "a fraud of a fraud."1
But I'm not so certain that the people surrounding Bush lack that commitment. It appears to me more likely that they have made a tactical error by picking the wrong poster boy. And not only do I think so, I strongly suspect that they now think so as well.
And who is "they"? Cheney and the neo-conservatives, both in and out of the administration, who have been able to find common cause with anti-democratic Christian and Jewish groups.
As Neiwert continues his series, I may return to the topic. But in the meantime, it is important to ask—Aside from the lack of a true leader, what aspects, if any, of this latest ascension of fascism are fake? If this political movement may be distinguished from "genuine" fascism, is it less dangerous? Does it have the potential of morphing into "authentic" fascism?
I will ask Neiwert for his view and post it here, if he would like to reply.
Dominionism and the Yurica Report
1 A glance at the biographies of the two great classical fascists—Hitler and Mussolini—reveals them both to have come from humble backgrounds. You might say that they were both a "pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps" kind of guy. Nothing could be further from either the background or experience of George Bush.
I think a better historical comparison might be made between Bush and King Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 and was then bestowed the title "Duke of Windsor." Edward had an undoubted affinity for fascism, but his feelings ran shallow. Like George, he would never have let it interfere with his lifestyle.
As described at wordIQ.com,
In 1937, the Duke and Duchess visited Germany as personal guests of the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, a visit much publicized by the German media. The couple then settled in France. When the Germans invaded the north of France in May 1940, the Windsors fled south, first to Biarritz, then in June to Spain. In July the pair moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where they lived at first in the home of a banker with close German Embassy contacts. The British Foreign Office strenuously objected when the pair planned to tour aboard a yacht belonging to a Swedish magnate, Axel Wenner-Gren, whom American intelligence considered to be a close friend of Hermann Goering, one of Hitler's top lieutenant. A "defeatist" interview with the Duke that received wide distribution may have served as the last straw for the British government: in August a British warship dispatched the pair to the Bahamas. The Duke of Windsor was installed as Governor, and became the first British monarch to ever hold a civilian political office. He enjoyed the position, and was praised for his efforts to comabat poverty on the island nation. He held the post until the end of World War II in 1945. The couple then retired once again to France, where they spent much of the remainder of their lives.To be fair to the Duke in comparing him with George Bush, Edward proposed himself to serve in the military during World War I and wanted to fight at the front, but was refused by the British government. And in one other matter the Duke has bested Bush. According to the official website of the British monarchy—
In recent years, some have suggested that the Duke (and especially the Duchess) sympathised with Fascism before and during World War II, and had to remain in the Bahamas to minimize their opportunities to act on those feelings. These revised assessments of his career hinge on some wartime information released in 1996, and on further secret files released by the U.K. government in 2003. The files had remained closed for decades, as Whitehall judged that they would cause the Queen Mother substantial distress if released during her lifetime. U.S. naval intelligence revealed a confidential report of a conference of German foreign officials in October 1941, that judged the Duke "no enemy to Germany" and the only English representative with whom Hitler would negotiate any peace terms, "the logical director of England's destiny after the war". President Roosevelt had ordered covert surveillance of the Duke and Duchess when they visited Palm Beach, Florida, in April 1941. The former Duke of Wurttemberg (then a monk in an American monastery) convinced the FBI that the Duchess had been sleeping with the German ambassador in London, Joachim von Ribbentrop, had remained in constant contact with him, and continued to leak secrets.
The first monarch to be a qualified pilot, Edward created The King's Flight (now known as 32 (The Royal) Squadron) in 1936 to provide air transport for the Royal family's official duties.[back]
Quote of the Day
FannyAnn Eddy, gay rights activist of Sierra Leone, raped and murdered Sept. 28
Thursday, October 07, 2004
Where will it oil end?
- There was no follow-up to the April 15th message "in which, in the wake of the Madrid bombings, he had offered a so-called three-months' truce to West European governments if they distanced themselves from US policies."
- A 9/11 anniversary message from Osama bin-Laden has not been issued, which he has done on the previous two anniversaries.
- Osama is thought to have suffered an injury in the Tora Bora post 9/11 that affected his speech.
- The last person claiming to have seen bin-Laden is Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who said he had seen him a few weeks before being arrested, which was in March 2003. Ramen notes that the 9/11 investigation had no confirmation of this.
- Bin-Laden is seldom mentioned by any group claiming connection with al-Qaeda.
- Statements from Osama's No. 2 man al-Zawahiri have a number of discrepancies in tone and substance from those of bin-Laden "indicating that bin Laden and his No. 2 were not in the same place and probably did not have the means of co-ordinating the contents of their respective messages."
These lead him to some speculative questions—
Is bin Laden still alive? If alive, is he still healthy enough to be active and leading? Is he in US or Pakistani custody to be produced before the US voters on the eve of the US presidential elections? Are there differences between him and his No.2? Has the Al Qaeda or the [International Islamist Front] split? If so, why?
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
The veep debate: Where was George? (updated twice)
There was an interesting difference in point of view of the speakers that emerged early on and continued throughout.
When Cheney spoke, he spoke of "we"—what "we" have done, what "we" are going to do. You seldom heard the name "George Bush" fall from his lips. Edwards, on the other hand, kept the focus on John Kerry—to the point of being reprimanded during his response to one question in which he had been asked to speak only of himself.
It appears that Rove has decided that the most effective strategy for presenting an image of competence is to keep Bush out of the picture as much as possible. Cheney, who does have "gravitas" however fraudulent, is a much better communicator of the notion that this administration is "in charge" than Bush can ever be.
I believe the technique that Cheney used reveals the depth of the malaise in Republican power circles with regard to the real George Bush. It's going to be a trick to have Boy George out campaigning while they do their best to "hide" the real George from the public. He still has not appeared before the public—an audience that is allowed to react—only his audiences of pledged supporters.
My impression: Bush is going down.
Well, I wasn't the only one who noticed the strange absence of George Bush from the debate. Here's Chris Matthews of MSNBC's HardBall,
But there's something that is dramatic about the evening. We are having a vice presidential debate with an incumbent president, George W. Bush, who is running for reelection, I believe on the same ticket as Dick Cheney. I never heard the president's name, except that he was the gay basher. He was the one, according to Cheney, that wouldn't let his daughter off the hook. I just thought that was the strangest absence. Edwards, to his credit, was at least there as the vice presidential candidate, talking about his presidential candidate.
And Cheney, to his credit, kept bashing Kerry. But the president's name never came up. I found it fascinating.
Matthews may have found it fascinating, but apparently the fascination did not lead to revelation—as to just why Cheney wasn't mentioning Bush's name.
Obviously Chris Matthews had missed out on the latest spin. Judy Woodruff of CNN had Bill Schneider pontificating on the debate, and to my astonishment here's what he said:
You'd think the main topic would be the president's record. Did the debate really focus more on Kerry than on Bush? Let's look at the record. During the debate, Kerry's name was mentioned a total of 65 times. How many times was Bush's name mentioned? Answer -- 8. OK, but to be fair a lot of times Bush was referred to as the president. So let's add those mentions and see what we get. Total mentions of Bush by name or as the president, 35. The debate gave nearly twice as much attention to Kerry than to Bush. That's a problem for Kerry. The election is turning into a referendum on the challenger. Why? Because Republicans are keeping up a relentless focus on the challenger. Kerry's approach to world affairs.
It must be wonderful to get paid to be stupid. Of course, that's not what Schneider gets paid for; he gets paid to spin. But the best spin comes from slap-happy, dumb-as-a-post ignorance—and I believe Schneider just may have what it takes.
Schneider's gives a count of the number of times Kerry's name was used but forgets to check who was using it. My count is: Edwards 33; Cheney 18; and Ifill 13. It doesn't seem like Edwards was exactly trying to keep Kerry out of the spotlight, does it?
Edwards said early on,
The American people saw John Kerry on Thursday night. They don't need the vice president or the president to tell them what they saw.
They saw a man who was strong, who had conviction, who is resolute, who made it very clear that he will do everything that has to be done to find terrorists, to keep the American people safe.
So Bill Schneider thinks the Republicans are keeping a relentless focus on the challenger by Edwards using Kerry's name every chance he got.
Ever hear of the power of repetition, Bill?
Just say after me: "John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry....John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry...John Kerry.
Feel the effect?
Shooting yourself in the groin
Anti-war is in fashion again
It's hard to have a war, restrictions of civil liberties and rampant official corruption without somebody recalling the Sixties. One of the most productive efforts of the Right has been to convey through the media that the Sixties were some kind of aberration. And indeed the Sixties were an aberration, because no one has seen that level of popular political engagement since.
But as protests grow in the streets and voter registration forms pour into the offices of election registrars, there's a certain feeling in the air. You might even say that protest is returning to fashion.
That's what the fashion house of Christian Dior is counting on. According to The Scotsman,
John Galliano transformed his catwalk into a political platform today and the message – like the clothing that carried it – was powerful: “Dior, Not War”.
Models wore wild hair and colourful cotton tops emblazoned with anti-war slogans while Imagine, John Lennon’s ode to peace, provided the musical backdrop.
Designers tend to avoid political statements, but Galliano said he could not hold back.
“It’s the way I’m feeling. I think we’re all feeling that, aren’t we?” the designer said backstage. “That John Lennon song could have been written yesterday. I mean – Imagine.”
Imagine indeed! I've been going through my closets. I'm sure I've got a pair of bell-bottoms and a tie-dye T-shirt somewhere.
But remember—with the end of the Vietnam War came Disco. And by the end of Reagan's first term we were singing "Girls just want to have fun."
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Who won the veep debate?
Paul Bremer, liar
On Monday Bremer told a gathering of insurance agents that
a lack of adequate forces hampered the occupation and efforts to end the looting early on.
"We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness," he said yesterday.... "We never had enough troops on the ground."
Bremer's comments were striking because they echoed contentions of many administration critics, including Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry, who argue that the U.S. government failed to plan adequately to maintain security in Iraq after the invasion. Bremer has generally defended the U.S. approach in Iraq but in recent weeks has begun to criticize the administration for tactical and policy shortfalls.
In a Sept. 17 speech at DePauw University, Bremer said he frequently raised the issue within the administration and "should have been even more insistent" when his advice was spurned because the situation in Iraq might be different today. "The single most important change -- the one thing that would have improved the situation -- would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout" the occupation, Bremer said, according to the Banner-Graphic in Greencastle, Ind.
Then there's the matter of planning—
In yesterday's speech, Bremer told the insurance agents that U.S. plans for the postwar period erred in projecting what would happen after Hussein's demise, focusing on preparing for humanitarian relief and widespread refugee problems rather than a bloody insurgency now being waged by at least four well-armed factions.
"There was planning, but planning for a situation that didn't arise," he said.
I've been planning how I'm going to spend the money from the lottery. Unfortunately, the situation hasn't arisen.
Well, Bremer's truths are apparently for the business classes, not the general public.
A Bremer aide said that his speeches were intended for private audiences and were supposed to have been off the record.
After making the headlines, Bremer had to cover Bush's over-extended posterior.
In a statement late last night, Bremer stressed that he fully supports the administration's plan for training Iraqi security forces as well as its overall strategy for Iraq.
"I believe that we currently have sufficient troop levels in Iraq," he said in an e-mailed statement. He said all references in recent speeches to troop levels related to the situation when he arrived in Baghdad in May 2003 -- "and when I believed we needed either more coalition troops or Iraqi security forces to address the looting."
The Post says
A senior defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said yesterday that Bremer never asked for more troops when he was the administrator in Iraq -- except for two weeks before he left, when he requested forces to help secure Iraq's borders.
No one ever asks the Defense Dept. for more troops. Even if a general or administrator should be so foolish, it's not quite clear where more troops would come from. Oh, I know! How about a draft?!
Monday, October 04, 2004
A "fall offensive" in Pakistan?
According to Reuters at the time,
The U.S. military is making plans for an offensive that would reach inside Pakistan in coming months to try to destroy operations of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, the Chicago Tribune reported....
The newspaper, in a report from Washington citing military sources, said the plans involved thousands of U.S. troops, some of them already in neighboring Afghanistan.
The Pakistani government denied to Reuters that it would allow such an operation and the Pentagon declined to confirm that such a plan was being worked on.
Despite the initial denials from Pakistan, US special forces did enter Pakistan in March. As Radio Free Europe reported,
The presence in Pakistan of a Special Forces team called Task Force 121 also has been widely reported in the Western press, despite President Pervez Musharraf's repeated denials of any American forces in Pakistan's tribal border areas.
Pakistan apparently hoped to give the operation assistance and cover by sending an estimated 7000 troops and paramilitaries into the area.
Before you could say "collective punishment," by late February the Pakistani army was murdering villagers. According to an article published on antiwar.com,
The killing of 13 civilians in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan by Army personnel hunting the Taliban, has fuelled fears of a revolt in the fiercely independent region that could easily derail the war on terror.
There were the usual atrocities and counter-atrocities. Agence France-Presse reported,
Thousands of troops besieged a mud fortress for 12 days in March, an incident which ended with the escape of an unknown number "high-value" targets and more than 60 troops dead.
A similar onslaught in June ended with 65 militants and 18 Pakistani forces dead.
Eventually Pakistan pulled back its forces from the FATA.
The American media as usual had been prompt to report the government's announcement of what was going to happen—i.e., the spring offensive—but did little to inform the public of the result. And the result was, according to the South Asian Analysis Group, an Indian thinktank,
Instead of creating a divide between the foreign terrorists and the locals, the high-handed manner in which the Pakistanis have been carrying out their operations has resulted in further strengthening the bonds of solidarity amongst the terrorists and their local supporters.
So by April 17, according to Time,
... Pakistani Lieut. General Safdar Hussain signed a truce with the leaders of the tribal forces, ending a brief, bloody and largely ineffective campaign to root out extremist militants and terrorists hiding among sympathizers in Waziristan's villages. [emphasis added]
What got me thinking about all this was a little item in Pakistan's Daily Times—
Army leaflets ignite fear of crackdown:
Militants fired missiles and injured a soldier in Makeen while the Pakistan Army airdropped leaflets on Sunday informing tribesmen to stay away from terrorists and that the “war on terror was not against them”.
The bilingual (in Pashto and Urdu) leaflets, dropped from a Mashaak aircraft around North and South Waziristan agencies, said the war was “against foreign terrorists and against those sheltering them.”
People in Wana and Miranshah believe the leaflets were indicative of an upcoming military operation in the area. A Daily Times’ survey revealed that 95 percent of residents thought the army was about to launch a “large-scale” operation in the tribal areas.
Meanwhile, warring tribesmen fired a missile at the Sparlai picket in Makeen, South Waziristan, seriously wounding a Tall Scouts sepoy, police said. There was no independent confirmation of the event. The army and the Ladah Scouts retaliated after the attack with mortars. [emphasis added]
There would be two reasons for such an offensive—
(1) The October 9 election in Afghanistan is being threatened by Taliban forces in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, so the U.S. would have undoubtedly asked the Pakistan government to do what it may to help contain the threat.
(2) Then there's the Presidential election in November. Kerry scored heavily against Bush for having allowed bin-Laden to escape into Pakistan. We have already seen one instance where Pakistan produced a "high-value target" at an appropriate moment for the Bush administration. It seems likely that Pakistan is going on a hunt for other high-value targets that Bush is demanding—and needs—before the election.
Given the unhappy outcome of the "spring offensive," it does not surprise me that a "fall offensive" would be conducted without fanfare.
Sunday, October 03, 2004
Will there be an Oct. 9 election in Afghanistan?
There are actually two national elections scheduled for October 9—one in Australia, the other in Afghanistan. I'm more certain that the Aussies will hold their election than I am that we will hold ours. The Afghani election is another matter.
It has been widely reported that the 10.5 million voters registered in Afghanistan exceed the number of citizens eligible to vote. With Bush's hand in it, what would you expect?
But the International Organization of Migration (IOM) is trying to register Afghani refugees in foreign lands—principally Pakistan and Iran. According to Pakistan's Daily Times, there are a potential 800,000 voters in Pakistan and another 600,000 in Iran. The refugees are expected to constitute up to 10% of the vote.
The Times reports,
The upcoming presidential elections in Afghanistan are likely to be postponed because of the sluggish response by 800,000 potential voters living as refugees in Pakistan during the first two days of the three-day registration period. Preliminary figures released by the International Organisation for Migration, which is overseeing the registration process, indicated that only 140,000 refugees registered on the first day (Friday). Official sources told Daily Times that a decision on whether to postpone the elections or not would be taken on either Sunday (today) or Monday....Some of the presidential candidates have demanded that the participation of Afghan refugees in Pakistan must be ensured.
Meanwhile, the AP reports that Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai has left for Germany to receive a "United We Care" award given for "outstanding accomplishment in politics, economics, society and culture." Karzai's outstanding accomplishment in politics has been to stay alive.
According to the AP, he has managed this feat mostly by staying out of the country during the fall "campaign." The trip to Berlin was his third trip outside Afghanistan in the month of September. When not traveling abroad, he stays holed up in Kabul—
Karzai, the overwhelming favorite among 18 presidential hopefuls, has rarely emerged from his palace during the campaign to visit his own country, largely due to security concerns.
Bush, of course, is hoping to showcase the Afghani election as one of his accomplishments in the international arena. As is common for Bush-sponsored events, it's taking on the appearance of a farce in search of a plot.