Tristero

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Hiatus  

Back July 10. Have a groovy 4th.



Pop Quiz  

Consider the following:

It's September 15, 2001, a few days after the worst attack on American soil since the Civil War.

CBS News breaks the story that the White House approved flights out of the country for members of the bin Laden family, accompanied by Saudi royals. Already one flight has left.

Hours later CNN airs an exclusive: it's a videotape from a Florida classroom. We see a White House aide come up to the President and whisper into his ear that the US is under attack. The President, looking terrified, does nothing. He continues reading "My Pet Goat" to the children for 7 minutes.




Okay. Got the scene in your heads? Now, some questions:

How many days would pass after these reports were aired before President Al Gore would be forced to resign?

How many Congresspeople from both parties would push for the immediate indictment and arrest of President Gore for criminal negligence?

Is there any doubt in your mind that, if Gore were President on 9/11, these stories would have been dug up and aired within days of the attacks?

Do you believe that, if Gore were President on 9/11, he would have acted the way Bush did? Do you believe President Gore would have kept reading to those kids or approved the evacuation of the bin Ladens from the US?



One More False Report  

Out of a sense of fairness and balance, I was gonna link yesterday to an article about the discovery of sarin rockets in Iraq. Having read too many wmd reports that turned out to be bogus, I ignored it. Well, Lo and behold:
Contrary to preliminary reports, 16 rocket warheads found last week in south-central Iraq by Polish troops did not contain deadly chemicals, a coalition spokesman said yesterday.

The Coalition Press Information Center in Baghdad, Iraq, said in a statement that the 122-mm rocket rounds, which initially showed traces of sarin, "were all empty and tested negative for any type of chemicals."

The release also said that two other 122-mm rounds, found June 16 by the Poles, had tested positive for small quantities of sarin but were "so deteriorated ... (as) to have limited to no impact if used by insurgents against coalition forces."
Those June 16 munitions were touted by the war freaks as proof, by the way, that Saddam had wmd but we hadn't yet found the motherlode.



Friday, July 02, 2004

Bush Has The Biggest Brain On the Planet  

Think I'm kidding? Check this genuine scientific research on the concept of Machiavellian Intelligence:
Monkeys and apes who are good at deceiving their peers also have the biggest brains relative to their body size. The finding backs the "Machiavellian intelligence" theory, which suggests the benefits of complex social skills fuelled the evolution of large primate brains...

Large brains, despite being energetically costly, benefited primates because they conferred complex cognitive skills. But which skills were the priority - was it clever food-finding strategies that were most valuable, for example, or complex social skills?


Earlier studies have hinted that social abilities were the key. And now Richard Byrne and Nadia Corp, psychologists at St Andrews University in the UK, have found more direct evidence for this after studying records of primates deceiving each other for personal gain...


...Byrne and Corp have studied a catalogue of observations of deceptive behaviours in wild primates from many researchers over several years up till 1990. They found that the frequency of deception in a species is directly proportional to the average volume of the animal's neocortex...

That is consistent with the idea that natural selection favoured larger brains for sophisticated social interactions, among them tactical deception.
Note to rightwingers: As you folks are satirically challenged, perhaps I should tell you that I really don't think Bush has the biggest brain on the planet. Far from it, actually. So for the record: The article is real, but I was just kidding.



You Can Also See Kirsten Dunst's Naked Ankles!  

Here's the end of the NY Times review of Spider-Man 2:
"Spider-Man 2" is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It has some brutally violent scenes, and kissing.



Oh, Those Veddy Polite British  

It looks like they've been pushed a bit too far:
There is no way to sugarcoat one fact of political life: Except for those who are very close to Blair and feel constrained to defend his choice of friends, George Bush is scorned here. His poll ratings are low, and much of the public seems to accept the caricature of him as an impulsive gunslinger. At a luncheon of nine or 10 conservative writers, politicians and strategists at the Centre for Policy Studies, a think tank that became influential in Margaret Thatcher's day, the descriptions of Bush began with "recklessly incompetent" and went downhill from there.


A close student of Blair's government says, "No one in the cabinet wants Bush reelected, except perhaps for Blair himself." The prime minister's closest associates are careful about what they say, but one of them concedes that if Bush were gone, it would be much easier to recruit grass-roots volunteers to campaign for Labor candidates next May.
via The Gadflyer



If A Sperm Is Wasted  

God gets quite irate:
Bush also appointed three antiabortion doctors to the FDA Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee: W. David Hager, MD, Susan Crockett, MD, and Stanford. When their committee and the FDA's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee met jointly last December, the group voted 23 to 4 in favor of giving over-the-counter status to emergency contraceptives. Dissenters included Hager, Crockett, and Stanford. In May, the FDA decided not to grant the drug OTC status.

While Hager and Crockett have gone on record saying they do not believe standard birth control pills cause abortions, their colleague Stanford says he has never prescribed them. "I found out in medical school that they may prevent fertilized eggs from implanting, and I decided then that I wasn't ever going to prescribe them," he says...

In March 2003, during a debate on the Senate floor that touched on emergency contraception, [Senator Rick "Man On Dog"] Santorum said, "I will not be supportive of covering medications that would lead to a fertilized egg not [being] implanted in the uterus. I believe life begins at conception. I would not support drugs that would prevent a conceived embryo [from being] implanted."
And in her post, Jeanne has a great idea, which is to make it clear that pro-choice advocates support access to any form of contraception proven efficacious and safe as well as abortion.



To Be Abandoned For A Martian Pipedream  

Hubble discovers 100 new planets:
The Hubble Space Telescope may have discovered as many as 100 new planets orbiting stars in our galaxy...

If confirmed it would almost double the number of planets known to be circling other stars to about 230...

Steven Beckwith, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, told BBC News Online: "I think this work has the potential to be the most significant advance in discovering extra-solar planetary systems since the first planets were discovered in the mid-1990s...

The US space agency Nasa is studying options to refurbish the Hubble telescope using unmanned spacecraft following a decision earlier this year that, in the wake of the Columbia disaster, it was too dangerous to send astronauts to it on the space Shuttle.
Translated: NASA's gonna wait to see what happens in November.



2119 Eligible Voters Found (So Far) On Florida Felons List  

Many are -surprise, surprise- Democrats, and black:
A Florida Division of Elections database lists more than 47,000 people the department said may be ineligible to vote because of felony records. The state is directing local elections offices to check the list and scrub felons from voter rolls.


But a Herald review shows that at least 2,119 of those names -- including 547 in South Florida -- shouldn't be on the list because their rights to vote were formally restored through the state's clemency process.


That's a potentially jarring flaw, critics say, in a state that turned the 2000 presidential election to Gov. Jeb Bush's brother George on the narrowest of margins -- 537 votes...

'I have never seen such an incompetent program implemented by the DOE [Department of Elections],'' said Leon County elections chief Ion Sancho.



VP Shortlist #1  

Molly Ivins
Carol Mosely-Braun
Ron Kovic
Bruce Springsteen
Steve Jobs
Gail Zappa

(All are more plausible candidates than Drudge's.)



Krugman On Moore  

The most interesting part of Krugman's review of F 9/11 is what it reveals about Krugman himself. He's hardly a lefty:
Someday, when the crisis of American democracy is over, I'll probably find myself berating Mr. Moore, who supported Ralph Nader in 2000, for his simplistic antiglobalization views.
And that's just one example.

Which gives you some sense of how far to the right Bush is in order for a man like Krugman to be pushed to the wall over his policies.



Thursday, July 01, 2004

Death on the Fourth of July  

Dave Neiwert's new book is out and it looks great:
On July 4, 2000, three young Asian American men visiting the small town of Ocean Shores, Washington, were attacked by a group of skinheads in the parking lot of a Texaco station. Threats and slurs gave way to violence and, ultimately, a fatal stabbing. But this tragedy culminated with a twist. A young white man, flaunting a Confederate flag just moments before, was slain by one of his would-be victims. In the ensuing murder trial, a harsh lesson on what it really means to be an American unfolded, exposing the layers of distrust between minorities and whites in rural America and revealing the dirty little secret that haunts many small towns: hate crime.
In Death on the Fourth of July, veteran journalist David Neiwert explores the hard questions about hate crimes that few are willing to engage. He shares the stories behind the Ocean Shores case through first-hand interviews, and weaves them through an expert examination of the myths, legal issues, and history surrounding these controversial crimes. Death on the Fourth of July provides the most clear-headed and rational thinking on this loaded issue yet published, all within the context of one compelling real-life tragedy.



More On Dick At The House That Ruth Built  

A friend writes in:

From the New York Times, 6/30/04, D3:

Cheney Pays Visit to Stadium

"During the singing of 'God Bless America' in the seventh innning, an image of Cheney was shown on the scoreboard. It was greeted with booing, so the Yankees quickly removed the image."


What the Times left out--and what we heard from two different people who attended the game--was that the booing, jeers and catcalls were so loud and so widespread that the Secret Service hustled the Vice President out of the stadium immediately, fearing for his safety.



What's your personal experience with the Geneva Conventions, Max Boot?  

Earlier today, I discussed Max "Clueless" Boot's ignorance of the mission of ACLU. Boot's rambling op-ed also typed:
...North Vietnamese guards freely tortured captured fliers to force them to make public statements denouncing their country. Accounts of what John McCain, James Stockdale and other heroes went through in the "Hanoi Hilton" still make for harrowing reading...

By all means, let's retain the moral high ground by treating our captives humanely. Give them the right of judicial appeal. Allow them to complain to the Red Cross. Hand them cozy slippers and fluffy robes. Just don't expect our enemies to reciprocate our kindness.



Via Daily War News comes a welcome corrective to Boot's clucking guano from someone who truly knows why the Geneva Convention rules are never quaint:
During my military career, I was constantly drilled on the provisions of the Geneva Conventions. I have been extremely proud that the United States has led the world in upholding treaties governing the status and care of enemy prisoners.


As a former POW in Vietnam, I know what life in a foreign prison is like. To a large degree, I credit the Geneva Conventions for my survival. While the Vietnamese rarely abided by the rules, the international pressure on them to do so forced them to walk a line that ensured they did not perpetrate the sort of shocking abuses at Abu Ghraib.


Life in a Vietnamese prison was hell, but I was never subjected to such degrading sexual humiliation. The human body can withstand enormous physical pain and recover. But the human mind is different: One seldom fully recovers from ruthless psychological or sexual torture. I am certain my treatment would have been worse had the Geneva Conventions not been in place and had the world not insisted that Vietnam abide by them.
The author?
Ambassador Douglas "Pete" Peterson served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force as a fighter pilot and commander. He is a distinguished combat veteran of the Vietnam War and was incarcerated as a POW for more than six years. He served as America's first postwar ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from North Florida's Second Congressional District.



Pandagon On Target  

Political Attacks in Three Easy Steps. Go read it. It's perfect.

Courtesy Digby.



Open Letter To Richard Cohen  

Mr. Cohen,

You don't like Moore's movie? That's nice.

Now, can we get back to something important, like making sure that the next time Bush lies through his teeth and tries to pull a stunt as flat out stupid as the Iraq war, the media examine all sides of the issue and don't give him and his cronies a free ride?

The Bush/Iraq war is one the worst foreign policy disasters in US history (if not the single worst). There were plenty of qualified, responsible people who were saying it would be before the war, scholars from the Carnegie Endownment for example. They were either ignored or marginalized by the mainstream media which was enthusiastically signing up to get embedded with the troops so they could see the fireworks go off real close.

And still, to this day, the one group of people who were right about the war all along, those who tried to stop it, are all but invisible in the public discourse.. With the exception of Moore, an entertainer first, a political voice second. If 1/10th of the attention the media devoted to Moore's film had been devoted to listening and discussing Minxin Pei's scholarship or Jessica Tuchman Matthews' proposals for coerced inspections before the war, Moore would have had no movie.

More importantly, more than 800 American soldiers and thousands of Iraqis might still be alive rather than having their deaths blamed on American arrogance and stupidity.

Yours,


Tristero


(PS Yes, I mean it. The mainstream American media are as responsible as the Bush administration for the carnage and catastrophe of Iraq.)



Max Boot: Ignorant Or Stupid?  

In a nearly incoherent column, in which he concludes that Abu Ghraib under Bush/Rumsfeld is less stressful than the Hanoi Hilton under Ho (now there's a high standard of comparison) Max Boot makes clear that he doesn't have a clue about ACLU:
Army Pfc. Keith M. Maupin, 20, did not get an opportunity to file a petition with a judge asking that his captors provide good reasons for holding him. He did not get to complain to the Red Cross about the conditions in his cell. Nor, as far as we know, was he photographed in the buff, threatened with electrocution or menaced with guard dogs. Assuming the report is accurate, he was simply shot in the back of the head and tossed into a shallow grave.

Where's the ACLU to protest this lack of due process?
Max, my dear sir:

The execution of Pfc Maupin, the capture of Cpl Hassoun are outrages. I will return to them in a moment, once I provide you with the beginnings of an introduction to a fantastic group you should know better.

ACLU stands for AMERICAN Civil Liberties Union. As stated on their website:
We work daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Our job is to conserve America’s original civic values - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Get it? ACLU focuses on making sure Americans (and others under American jurisprudence) are treated, in America, in accord with the American Constitution.

Now, the last I heard, Iraq was not part of the United States. Nor were the Iraqi insurgents Americans operating under American jurisprudence (but you deserve one cheer: at least you didn't call them terrorists). Therefore ACLU's mission does not include civil rights abuses by Iraqi insurgents, as awful as they are. There are other groups that concentrate on that including Amnesty International, the UN, and the Red Cross. Meanwhile, ACLU has its hands full right here in the US of A.

Max, everyone in the US is horrified by the beheadings, the kidnappings, the executions, the tortures, the maimings, the violence in Iraq, including the two soldiers you mention. Protesting Bush's disgraceful actions does not diminish one iota, let alone excuse, the atrocities committed by others, which are equally and often more sickening. But let's not forget, Max, that 39 prisoners have died in US custody. Some have even been photographed. So let's remember that Bush's behavior has led to the death of prisoners whose families and friends are as grief stricken as Pfc Maupin's. And let's not forget that many Islamist and Islamic groups around the world have spoken up: they are as horrified as you are at the atrocities committed in the name of Islam in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and also at the atrocities committed by Bush in the good name of the US.

But we are not ruled by Iraqi insurgents, Max. We are governed by George W. Bush. It is his atrocities over which we can hopefully exercise some restraint by speaking out and protesting, partly because groups like the ACLU are hounding Bush, his minions, and his surrogates whenever they abuse this country's Constitution in his un-American crusade to shut us up.

Get it, boyo?



God, Mammon, And Alabama  

Looks like the GOP's got some internal dissension down south. Not surprising what the rift is, but feelings are running high, so it just might be an exploitable weakness:
Former Chief Justice Perry Hooper Sr. is one of the founders of the modern-day Republican Party in Alabama and has been a delegate to every Republican National Convention since 1960. But not this year.

Hooper's campaign for a delegate's position was stopped short by one of Roy Moore's [the Ten Commandments judge, remember?] supporters - Mobile attorney Jim Zeigler.

Hooper, normally a genteel man, offered no polite concession.

"Jim Zeigler is an embarrassment to the legal profession and an embarrassment to Christianity. Christianity can stand on its own without Jim Zeigler," Hooper said...

Zeigler comes out of the Republican Party's religious right, while Hooper has always enjoyed the support of the Republican Party's business side. Their differences may represent a larger problem for the GOP.
Let's hope so.



Political Hate Speech  

From Bush surrogate Jack Wheeler:
The [Washington] Times officially jumped the shark this morning, running one of the most repugnant and ugly pieces of commentary we've seen any place other than a men's room wall. In an op-ed, Jack Wheeler, publisher of a website billed as "the oasis for rational conservatives," compares women readers waiting in line all over the country to get their copy of Bill Clinton's autobiography signed to "prostitutes waiting for their abusive pimp"; he takes a swipe at "Hanoi John" Kerry as someone who "looks like a cross between Herman Munster and Gomer Pyle"; and he asserts that, as part of a deal with her husband, "bisexual" Hillary Clinton gets to fool around with women, as well as "the occasional man like Vince Foster."


Courtesy Atrios, who rightly says the WaTimes has been shark jumping for years and years and years.



Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Digby Strolls Down (Bad) Memory Lane  

One more post I don't have to write. Read it all.

Digby gets the whole miserable, awful, marketing of the stupid Bush/Iraq War exactly right. But unlike him, I didn't find it exciting for an instant, or being part of history. I was horrified and increasingly depressed, appalled that despite the palpable evidence that this country was, at best, deeply divided and at least as unwilling to invade Iraq as willing, no one in a position of responsibility was listening to the voices of reason. It was as if this country's government, its public intellectuals, and its media had gone stark raving mad. And they had.

It was such a bizarre period that I find myself reaching for psychedelic metaphors in order to try to describe it. If I (we) are lucky, we will never see anything like it again.



Open Letter To Nick Kristof  

Dear Nick,

I'd be happy to stop calling Bush a liar when he stops lying.

Love,

Tristero



The Iraqi Handover Changed Zip  

11 GI's wounded:
Insurgents fired at least 10 mortar rounds at a U.S. base on the outskirts of Baghdad International Airport on Wednesday, wounding 11 soldiers, two of them seriously, and starting a fire that burned for well over an hour.

That attack, along with a car bomb that exploded outside a police headquarters in Samawah, 150 miles south of the capital, Baghdad, were yet more evidence that insurgents have no plans of letting up their attacks even after the U.S. coalition authorities handed over sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government on Monday.

Despite the end of the occupation, about 160,000 foreign troops — most of them Americans — remain in Iraq (news - web sites) to provide security and train Iraq's new security services. American officials have warned that the transfer of sovereignty would not stop assaults.
853 US soldiers have died in the Bush/Iraq war, 715 since "Mission Accomplished."

And in case you think the survivors get off easy, Almost a fifth of returning US troops may be suffering from PTSD.




Surprise! Drug costs up after Medicare discounts started  

Fleecing the elderly, all taxpayers:
Prices for medicines most used by older Americans rose steadily after the Bush administration enacted the new Medicare law late last year, the nation's largest group representing the elderly said Wednesday.

AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, said brand-name drug prices have climbed 3.4 percent -- or three times the rate of inflation -- since December.

The jump was one of the sharpest quarterly spikes since 2000, the report said.

The findings follow another AARP report this year that showed prices for drugs used most by the elderly grew 6.9 percent in 2003. But the increase since President Bush signed the Medicare bill into law was even sharper, the AARP said Wednesday...

At a campaign event earlier this month, Bush said prescription drug cards mandated by the new Medicare law will save the elderly at least 15 to 30 percent.

His expected Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, has blasted the privately run drug card program, turning prescription and other health care costs into a major election issue.

The cards are a temporary fix until the full Medicare prescription benefit starts in 2006. The law also prevents the U.S. government from directly negotiating drug prices.

Similar price rises were seen "after other political actions that were intended to extend drug coverage or provide drug discounts," including when Congress initially passed the Medicare bill earlier in 2003, AARP said.



One More Former US General Who Hates America  

Looks like he's losin' everyone's confidence:
Gen. McPeak, who headed the 1996 Dole-Kemp campaign in Oregon and served as a veteran for Bush in 2000, was just as incendiary. "Troops are paying the price for arrogance," he said. He also labeled the troops stationed in Iraq an "in between force" -- too small to do the job, but too large to be serviced by the existing military support structure. "The Administration has managed to create…a situation where we are both ineffective and overextended." He added, "From the beginning, this administration has been determined not only to pursue bad policy, but to be as unpleasant about it as possible." Asked about the possibility of a draft, the general said that the Bush administration needs to either "double the force," which would require conscription, or "get out" and appeal to allies to provide a large, stable troop presence in Iraq. McPeak says he is now a registered independent and a foreign policy advisor for John Kerry.

But Gen. McPeak isn't the only one raising the specter of a draft lately. From the San Francisco Chronicle today: "[Republican Sen. Chuck] Hagel, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, said he agrees with President Bush that the duration of the war on terror might be measured in generations and that to sustain the badly overstretched military for the struggle, a new draft may be needed.



Winner of The 2004 Maxwell Smart "Would You Believe...?" Award  

Incredible:
The Bush administration is offering a novel reason for denying a request seeking the Justice Department's database on foreign lobbyists: Copying the information would bring down the computer system.


"Implementing such a request risks a crash that cannot be fixed and could result in a major loss of data, which would be devastating," wrote Thomas J. McIntyre, chief in the Justice Department's office for information requests.


Advocates for open government said the government's assertion that it could not copy data from its computers was unprecedented but representative of generally negative responses to Freedom of Information Act requests.


"This was a new one on us. We weren't aware there were databases that could be destroyed just by copying them," Bob Williams of the Center for Public Integrity said Tuesday. The watchdog group in Washington made the request in January. He said the group expects to appeal the Justice Department's decision.



Liberal Hawks  

What Digby says, exactly:
There was never any truly compelling reason to take on Saddam at just that moment and it didn't take a genius (I'm certainly not one) to predict that Bush would make a hash out of it. I am tired of reading these mea culpas that are filled with invective toward those of us who were correct in our assessment of the motives and the competence of the administration. We weren't a bunch of starry eyed hippies sitting around singing kumbaya --- there was ample evidence and analysis that they simply chose to ignore.

In fact, it was the the neocons and the liberal hawks who decided that democracy is a matter of faith rather than reason and believed that if they just wanted it hard enough it would magically happen. The naive kumbaya chorus wasn't on our side. It was the AEI and New Republic "Up With Democracy" singers who were the fools.
In a related post, Kevin Drum makes an important point. Let's not beat up on people who've seen the light, Kevin says, because, "We need all the allies we can get."

Well, he's right, of course, but unfortunately, that's not the end of it. The fact of the matter is that Michael Ignatieff and the New Republic are still considered more authoritative voices than the people who got it right from the get go. We were all shrieking our heads off that invading Iraq was the stupidest move the US could make and no one listened to us. And y'know what Kevin? They're still not listening.

Our mainstream discourse is all but monopolized by people who have been consistently wrong about the Bush administration. As for those of us who were right, who represents us to the greater public? The claim is that Michael Moore does, but really, he doesn't; it's just that there's no one else being given camera-time. Moore is a talented entertainer but there are genuine, legitimate voices (folks from Carnegie Endowment, Century Foundation, the old guard like Schlesinger or Anthony Lewis) who still can't get a regular hearing on CNN or nightly on the networks. It is an indication of how dangerously narrow our political discourse has become that Jessica T. Andrews is not a daily voice at one of the networks while Lou Dobbs is.

Yes, let us welcome back our prodigal children to a cherished spot under the happy inclusive tent of liberalism. But at the same time, Kevin, let's make sure that those of us who were absolutely right the last time get listened to now because, by God, this country cannot afford another catastrophe like Iraq. In a reasonably healthy public discourse, it would be thought the height of stuipidity to continue to ignore what those of us who were right about Bush and Iraq all along have to say.



George W. Bush, Deserter?  

Courtesy Dave Neiwert is a link to a paper by Paul Lukasiak who has carefully analyzed Bush's Air National Guard records. Here is the summary of what appears to be a very meticulous review of the documents (Dave vouches for the guy):
An examination of the Bush military files within the context of US Statutory Law, Department of Defense regulations, and Air Force policies and procedures of that era lead to a single conclusion:  George W. Bush was considered a deserter by the United States Air Force.

After Bush quit TXANG, he still had nine months of his six-year military commitment left to serve.   As a result, Bush became a member of the Air Force Reserves and was transferred to the authority of the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) in Denver, Colorado.   Because this was supposed to be a temporary assignment, ARPC had to review Bush’s records to determine where he should ultimately be assigned.  That examination would have led to three conclusions: That Bush had “failed to satisfactorily participate” as defined by United States law and Air Force policy, that TXANG could not account for Bush’s actions for an entire year, and that Bush’s medical records were not up to date.  Regardless of what actions ARPC contemplated when reviewing Bush’s records, all options required that Bush be certified as physically fit to serve, or as unfit to serve.   ARPC thus had to order Bush to get a physical examination, for which Bush did not show up.  ARPC then designated Bush as AWOL and a “non-locatee” (i.e. a deserter) who had failed to satisfactorily participate in TXANG, and certified him for immediate induction through his local draft board.  Once the Houston draft board got wind of the situation, strings were pulled; and documents were generated which directly contradict Air Force policy, and which were inconsistent with the rest of the records released by the White House.
And he claims to have found the "smoking gun:"
For the eighteen months prior to his quitting the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG), George W. Bush had ignored his obligations to the US Military, statutory and regulatory US Law, and Air Force regulations and policies.   And for as long as he was being “supervised” by TXANG, he got away with it.

Very little attention has been paid to the period of Bush’s “service” after he left Texas and was assigned to the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) in Denver, Colorado.  But it is during this period that Bush’s dereliction of duty—including his failure to participate in mandatory training, and his failure to maintain his flight status—came home to roost. 

Unlike TXANG, ARPC took America’s national security—and the role played by Guardsmen and Reservists in maintaining US security—quite seriously. 

The proof of this  is the “ARF Retirement Credit Summary” dated January 30, 1974, which shows that Bush was placed in an “Inactive Status” effective September 15th, 1973.  This document is the proverbial “smoking gun” which proves that the Air Force considered George W. Bush to have been a deserter. 

Under Air Force policy in force at that time, the only way that someone in Bush’s position could be placed in an “Inactive Status” was if they were being “completely severed from military status.”   And the only way that could happen is if someone had become permanently disabled, or deserted.  Bush was not disabled.

Instead, consistent with contemporaneous laws, regulations, and procedures, ARPC had reviewed Bush’s records, and found that he had failed to “satisfactorily participate” as a member of TXANG.  Bush was then ordered to active duty, for which he did not show up.  ARPC then certified him for immediate induction as a “non-locatee” (e.g. a deserter) through the Selective Service System.

This is the only explanation that is consistent with Bush’s military records and Air Force policy of that era. 

It is also clear that the Bush records were tampered with to hide this fact.  Many documents were thrown out that should have been kept, and there is indisputable evidence that at least one key documents has been altered. [Emphasis in original.]
Methinks this should get picked up by a mainstream media outlet post-haste. Anyone wanna bet?



Get The Picture, Boys And Girls?  




Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Thanks, Dana Millbank  

He rounds up the sheer number of retracted WH memos:
White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales assembled reporters in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building last week for what has become an administration ritual: disavowing the conclusions of official documents...

Democrats say this is no accident. "It's either political manipulation or incompetence," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), a former top aide to President Bill Clinton. "I know it's not incompetence."



GOP: The Party Of Values  

Look. If you wanna go to a prostitute, hey, whatever floats you. I've never done it, never will, but I really don't care if anyone else does, provided there's no coercion involved on anyone's part. It's really not my idea of a good time, but I have no reason for thinking that either johns or hookers are somehow less moral than say, Ken Lay or Katherine Harris. What I do care about is hypocrisy, and it is with hypocrisy in mind that I learned that the GOP convention will be a bonanza for NYC hookers:
With thousands of Republicans set to invade the city this summer, high-priced escorts and strippers are preparing for one grand old party.

Agencies are flying in extra call girls from around the globe to meet the expected demand during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 gathering at Madison Square Garden.

"We have girls from London, Seattle, California, all coming in for that week," said a madam at a Manhattan escort service. "It's the week everyone wants to work."

"It's going to be big," agreed one operator at a midtown escort service.

Charging from $300 to upwards of $1,000 for an hour of companionship and a whole lot more, escorts said they can always count on conventioneers for big business.

"It doesn't matter what party you come from," said Robyn Few, a $500-an-hour California call girl who now runs Sex Workers Outreach Project, an advocacy group. "When you want to buy sex, you will."

That's the hope among escort services expecting a windfall from randy Republicans.

"We've got everything organized - the hotels, the flights, the advertisements," said another escort service operator. "We'll probably have 60 girls that week, instead of the usual 30."
Sounds like they're expecting a Grand Old Party in the Big Apple.



Weekly Standard: Better The Shrub We Have  

Joel Engel in The Weekly Standard::
...a populace provoked by the left's constant fire-breathing may look for a dragon slayer who won't go quite so easily.
I'm like soooooo shaking in my non-leather shoes that I almost dropped my skim latte.

Bring it on, Joel, bring it on.

Hat tip to TAPPED



Betting Bill Bennett Has An Enabler  

His name is Ralph "Sleazy" Reed:
When Ralph Reed was the boyish director of the Christian Coalition, he made opposition to gambling a major plank in his "family values" agenda, calling gambling "a cancer on the American body politic" that was "stealing food from the mouths of children." But now, a broad federal investigation into lobbying abuses connected to gambling on Indian reservations has unearthed evidence that Reed has been surreptitiously working for an Indian tribe with a large casino it sought to protect--and that Reed was paid with funds laundered through two firms to try to keep his lucrative involvement secret. Reed has always operated behind the scenes, and apparently he didn't want to risk becoming a humbled hypocrite like his right-wing cohorts William Bennett and Rush Limbaugh.
Courtesy LiberalOasis



Cut And Run  

Yesterday, on Air America Radio, Randy Rhodes observed that it was disgraceful that Paul Bremer would flee Iraq while a US Marine who had been kidnapped was being threatened by beheading. She was right.

You can read all about it here, but beware the possible disinformation that the Marine may have gone awol. There's apparently little evidence he did other than a Lebanese background. The article begins with a video showing the possible killing of a different soldier.

Also, you can read here about 3 more GI's killed in Iraq just in case you thought the farce yesterday meant anything in terms of stopping the violence.



Monday, June 28, 2004

Blogpost Headline Of The Year  

Premature Iraqulation



FCC Loses  

Guess Bush didn't pack the courts enough yet:
The Federal Communications Commission was ordered by a U.S. appeals court to review its new rules that let companies such as News Corp. and Viacom Inc. buy more television stations and newspapers.


The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia also blocked implementation of the media ownership rules, approved a year ago by the FCC under Chairman Michael Powell, until the agency acts, a copy of the decision shows.


``The Commission falls short of its obligation to justify its decisions to retain, repeal or modify its media ownership regulations with reasoned analysis,'' the appeals court said in its ruling, which was approved on a 2-to-1 vote.



Iraqi Handover Report  

Cut and run:
The American-led military occupation of this restive land formally ended today 15 months after Saddam Hussein was swept from power, with Iraq's new leaders taking over in a surprise ceremony that came two days ahead of schedule. The early transfer was designed to foil attacks by guerrilla insurgents whom American forces are still struggling to vanquish.


L. Paul Bremer III, the chief American administrator who arrived last May to a country in flames, restored Iraqi sovereignty in a simple meeting called on no public notice, deep inside the heavily fortified American occupation headquarters area known as the Green Zone.


American aides and Iraqi officials, who were bracing for a wave of terrorist attacks on Wednesday, the date initially set for the transfer, said they had moved up the ceremony, and held it in near total secrecy, in order to foil any terrorist plots that might be in the works.


Standing amid an array of gilded furniture left behind by Mr. Hussein, Mr. Bremer handed the Ayad Allawi, the new Iraqi prime minister, a leather-encased note from President Bush, indicating that the American-led military occupation had formally ended. The Coalition Provisional Authority, the civilian administration that Mr. Bremer led, was dissolved...


With that, Mr. Bremer flew by helicopter to the Baghdad International Airport, where he boarded an American C-130 military transport and left the country. The entire ceremony, witnessed by no more than 30 people, lasted about 10 minutes.


Only hours after Mr. Bremer's departure, the new American ambassador here, John Negroponte, landed at Baghdad International Airport.
Thus ends George's and Dick's and Don's and Paul's and Richard's and Doug's excellent adventure.

Not really, of course.



Dr. Cole On Iraq Transfer And Bush PR Strategy  

Juan Cole's speculation seems plausible:
It is hard to interpret this move as anything but a precipitous flight. It is just speculation on my part, but I suspect that the Americans must have developed intelligence that there might be a major strike on the Coalition Provisional Headquarters on Wednesday if a formal ceremony were held to mark a transfer of sovereignty. Since the US military is so weak in Iraq and appears to have poor intelligence on the guerrilla insurgency, the Bush administration could not take the chance that a major bombing or other attack would mar the ceremony...

This entire exercise is a publicity stunt and has almost no substance to it. Gwen Ifill said on US television on Sunday that she had talked to Condaleeza Rice, and that her hope was that when something went wrong in Iraq, the journalists would now grill Allawi about it rather than the Bush administration. (Or words to that effect). Ifill seems to me to have given away the whole Bush show. That's what this whole thing is about. It is Public Relations and manipulation of journalists. Let's see if they fall for it.
Oh, they will, Dr. Cole. It never fails.



Dismissing Moore  

Confessore the Contrarian:
Moore is also apparently of the view that showing a connection is enough to show causation. Thus we are treated to extensive descriptions of the links between the Bush family and the Saudis and between the Saudis and the terrorists they fund, with Moore suggesting that these links are one of the reasons Bush was so unresponsive to Osama bin Laden before 9/11.
He's absolutely right, of course. But then, why does anyone think that when Bush or Cheney talk about "ties" betwixt Iraq and al Qaeda, they are worth taking seriously enough to discuss exactly what they mean?



Vengeance, Thy Name Is Bush  

So, in retaliation for the legal release of Jack Ryan's divorce papers, Drudge reports - although he may not be reporting, but urging - that folks may consider (repeat, may consider) trying to do the same to John Kerry. If this is the case, I think, at the very least, Cheney should make his energy task force advisors public. If not, then it's around time that all Bush's army records come out including all the reasons for his suspension; the full history of his arrest for drunkeness, the rumors of his girlfriend's abortion need to be resolved, and the rumors of his abuse of cocaine should also be put to rest. Similar investigations should also be launched into how Cheney avoided the draft. Ditto Wolfowitz, Limbaugh and Perle. For starters.



Niger/Iraq Uranium Deal Update  

Hmmm...
European intelligence officers have now revealed that three years before the fake documents became public, human and electronic intelligence sources from a number of countries picked up repeated discussion of an illicit trade in uranium from Niger. One of the customers discussed by the traders was Iraq.

These intelligence officials now say the forged documents appear to have been part of a "scam", and the actual intelligence showing discussion of uranium supply has been ignored...

The FT [Financial Times] has now learnt that three European intelligence services were aware of possible illicit trade in uranium from Niger between 1999 and 2001. Human intelligence gathered in Italy and Africa more than three years before the Iraq war had shown Niger officials referring to possible illicit uranium deals with at least five countries, including Iraq.

This intelligence provided clues about plans by Libya and Iran to develop their undeclared nuclear programmes. Niger officials were also discussing sales to North Korea and China of uranium ore or the "yellow cake" refined from it: the raw materials that can be progressively enriched to make nuclear bombs.

The raw intelligence on the negotiations included indications that Libya was investing in Niger's uranium industry to prop it up at a time when demand had fallen, and that sales to Iraq were just a part of the clandestine export plan. These secret exports would allow countries with undeclared nuclear programmes to build up uranium stockpiles.
Now, Josh Marshall defers discussion of this stuff 'til later, but he says the other part of the story, that the known yellowcake document forgeries were concocted by a sleazy Italian businessman, does not pan out.

Anyway, I'll be curious to see if this other intelligence gets any attention and whether it's legit. Even before the war, most (sane) people assumed that Saddam had no nuclear weapons program. That he might try to acquire stuff was certainly conceivable, but if this new stuff really had legs, one would assume that it would have come up publicly long before now. We'll see.



News From Istanbul  

Bob Harris over at This Modern World rounds up all sorts of interesting facts, such as Istanbul, a city of 10 million people, was so closed down by Bush's visit that he turned the city "literally...into an open-air prison. There are snipers posted on the next building to our hotel, constant military helicopters buzzing around, and naval craft cruising offshore. If only for sacrificing three days of their life for Bush's secure comfort, people here are furious."

And there's some other Turkey news Bob reports, like the large demos, protests, and explosions that mark Bush's visit.



Political Hate Speech  

Michael Moore Is Leni Riefenstahl. Thus spake the Wall Street Journal today. Subscription required. To say the least, someone at the WSJ needs new eyeglasses.



Al Gore Speech Of May 26, 2004  

As the Bush administration attempts to cut and run from its responsibilities in the prison torture scandals, and goes through the pretense of handing over Iraq to a thug prepared to reactivate many of the personnel involved with the oppression controlled by Saddam Hussein, it may cheer the spirit a bit for you to see Al Gore's brilliant May 26, 2004 address at NYU. You can see excerpts or order a dvd of the complete speech (for $5!) here. It will remind you what political discourse can and should sound like in this country. One of the great texts of this time:
In December of 2000, even though I strongly disagreed with the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to order a halt to the counting of legally cast ballots, I saw it as my duty to reaffirm my own strong belief that we are a nation of laws and not only accept the decision, but do what I could to prevent efforts to delegitimize George Bush as he took the oath of office as president.

I did not at that moment imagine that Bush would, in the presidency that ensued, demonstrate utter contempt for the rule of law and work at every turn to frustrate accountability…

So today, I want to speak on behalf of those Americans who feel that President Bush has betrayed our nation's trust, those who are horrified at what has been done in our name, and all those who want the rest of the world to know that we Americans see the abuses that occurred in the prisons of Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and secret locations as yet undisclosed as completely out of keeping with the character and basic nature of the American people and at odds with the principles on which America stands.

I believe we have a duty to hold President Bush accountable - and I believe we will.



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