Saturday, September 18, 2004

How To Coddle Trucking Interests And Fleece The American Taxpayer While Doing It, By Tom Ridge  

Hey, Boys and Girls remember the Bush Junior Ranger Spy Program called TIPS? Well guess what? It's baaaaaack!!! And let never be said that the Bush administration permits your tax dollars to be anything less than enriching experience. For their friends.
Truck drivers across the country will soon be keeping their eyes peeled for more than just the right exit sign: They'll be looking for signs of terrorism which they can report to Homeland Security officials through a national hotline, thanks to a $21 million dollar federal grant announced on Tuesday.
21 Million, that's a lot of bucks, yes? Well what did an earlier grant for 19 million and change get us?
In 2002, the ATA instituted a national program with an increased focus on antiterrorism, and the Department of Homeland Security got involved in 2003 by giving the industry group a $19.3 million grant for 2004.

Somewhere between several thousand and 10,000 truckers have signed up for the program and been trained using the ATA's two-and-a-half-hour PowerPoint presentation already, according to Willard.
And y'know what they learn? When to call a 24/7 hotline number and report a bad guy. Or an accident. More likely an accident, doncha think?

I gotta be missing something, but I don't think so. Let's tot it up.

A two-and-a-half-hour PowerPoint presentation. A toll free number with operators standing by 24/7. And it's already cost north of $19 million. And now they're getting another $21 million to play spymaster with. I guess the new money pays for tin-plated Junior Spy Badges and personalized diplomas signed by Tom Ridge.

Seems like someone's got a right groovy grift going here.

And look in the mirror. That's the one paying for it, sucker!

[UPDATE: Inadvertent Math Error Deleted.]

Showtunes 1, Fundamentalists,0  

Ha ha.

via Metafilter

Voting When Black: Update On Florida  

Good to see Ashcroft's on the case. Wouldn't want it handled in a partisan, incompetent manner, would we now?
The Justice Department is investigating accusations that Florida law enforcement officers intimidated elderly black voters during a probe of voting fraud last spring.

Sheldon Bradshaw, principal deputy assistant attorney general with the department's Civil Rights Division, disclosed the investigation after Mary Frances Berry, chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, raised the matter at a commission hearing Friday.

"We are aware, and we have opened an investigation," Bradshaw said. "I'm not at liberty to discuss details" because the probe is ongoing, he said.

There have been growing calls for a federal investigation of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's response to allegations of voter fraud in Orlando's mayoral election. Democrat Buddy Dyer's narrow victory sparked accusations that a black activist may have improperly filled out absentee ballots. FDLE agents interviewed dozens of voters who cast absentee ballots.

Civil rights groups and Democrats contended the agents' presence and behavior, including allegedly displaying their guns, intimidated the minority voters they visited.

Democratic Sens. Bob Graham of Florida and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, as well as Florida's three black Democratic House members, demanded an investigation in letters last month to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Hitler Apologist Paroles 48 Murderers  

Guess who's a girlie man when it comes to looking into the hearts of killers?
For all his tough-guy swagger, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is quietly pursuing one of the most permissive parole policies California has seen in years, freeing convicted murderers in numbers that dwarf those of his two predecessors.

In less than a year in office, Schwarzenegger has approved parole for 48 people serving life terms for murder. Former Gov. Gray Davis released eight in his five years in office.

The 48, plus 10 inmates serving life terms for other offenses, have been paroled with Schwarzenegger's consent. That's as many as were released in a six-year span in the 1990s covering most of Republican Gov. Pete Wilson's tenure.

What The Hurricane Obliterated  

The latest report on Bush's lies to justify the war:
In Washington, in the tense months before war in Iraq, Charles Duelfer was confident. ''Of course he is developing his weapons of mass destruction,'' the American arms expert wrote of Saddam Hussein.

In Baghdad, however, Hans Blix was much less convinced. The U.N. weapons inspector, on the eve of the conflict, remarked sadly on the likelihood that armies would be ''waging the war at a tremendous cost, and in the end find there was very little.''

In the end, as a hurricane distracted Americans, as terrorist car bombings and U.S. air strikes bloodied Iraq, the findings of a Duelfer-led investigation were quietly leaked in Washington. And after 16 months of trying, what his teams have found is less than little.

In fact, the only unconventional weapon turned up in Iraq wasn't turned up by the Americans at all, but by the other side, Iraq's shadowy resistance. In May, in an incident causing no serious injuries, insurgent fighters in Baghdad rigged an old artillery shell as a roadside bomb, apparently unaware it was loaded with sarin nerve agent.

Otherwise, two or three stray shells have been discovered with traces of degraded agent far short of the 100-500 tons of usable chemical weapons that Colin Powell warned of on Feb. 5, 2003, as he sought a U.N. blessing for the U.S.-British invasion.
But it was a system failure. No reason to hold anyone accountable. Except Clinton of course.

Of Course They Were  

What a waste of time and government resources by extremists:
The Navy's chief investigator concluded Friday that procedures were followed properly in the approval of Sen. John Kerry's Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, according to an internal Navy memo.

Friday, September 17, 2004

They're Making A List, Checking It Twice  

According to Laura Rozen, the neocons are drawing up an enemies list. Two thoughts:

1. Huh? They only got around to it now? More proof of their clueless incompetence.

2. If I'm not on that list, I'll like totally never live it down. Where do I apply?

Kerry's Lesser-Known Work On Behalf Of ALL Vietnam Vets  

Even if John Kerry had never decided to run for President, he would be remembered by history as one of the outstanding Americans of his generation. So, I'm planning to focus some time on blogging about his exemplary career, as a welcome contrast to cataloguing his opponent's numerous, and now exponentially increasing, failures.

To start, I'm going to skip ahead a little in Kerry's story, and not blog about his bravery during the war, nor about his equally brave efforts to bring the truth about the war to the attention of his country. I'll go back to them soon enough, however.

Tonight, I'll briefly remind all of us that, after Yale, after Vietnam, after protesting the war with VVAW. Kerry co-founded a different group whose purpose was to move beyond the differences that divided the Vietnam generation. Dedicated to aiding all those who fought in Southeast Asia, it's called Vietnam Veterans of America, "the only national Vietnam veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families," currently with over 50,000 individual members.

VVA receives no government funds of any kind whatsoever. But it provides philanthropic assistance to Vietnam Vets that need it, works with homeless vets. and has worked for twenty years in the effort for a full accounting of POW/MIAs.

In addition, the VVA site says they are "single-handedly leading the fight for judicial review of disabled veterans' claims for benefits.  The result: In 1988, Congress passed a law creating the U.S. Court of Veterans appeals.  This allowed veterans to appeal VA benefits denials to a court and required VA to obey the rule of law." Furthemore, they've pressed the Agent Orange issue, helping to press the Agent Orange Act which has resulted in the Veterans Administration paying compensation for nine Agent Orange-related diseases.

They also publish and/or distribute material of interest to veterans of all wars, including a white paper on health care funding for all veterans ( Here's a pdf of the paper.)

VVA isn't doing anything terribly glamorous, as far as I can tell; it's simply doing the hard, difficult work of daily advocacy for Vietnam Vets' rights and has been doing so long before most such groups. It is exactly the kind of group that smart, socially active Americans have formed since the days of Franklin.

Given both the heroic nature of his Vietnam service and his efforts to oppose the war, Kerry's co-founding of VVA seems a minor accomplishment. But there are only a handful of people capable and willing to make the effort to start something like this. Kerry has the character to do so, and the skills to do it extremely well. Kerry's co-founding of VVA, which would proudly cap the entire public service accomplishments of a lesser person, is often overlooked because Kerry's well-known achievements are so numerous and yes, truly great ones.

GOP Mailing Warns Liberals Will Ban Bibles  

You read that right:
mpaign mail with a return address of the Republican National Committee warns West Virginia voters that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry men if liberals win in November.

The literature shows a Bible with the word "BANNED" across it and a photo of a man, on his knees, placing a ring on the hand of another man with the word "ALLOWED." The mailing tells West Virginians to "vote Republican to protect our families" and defeat the "liberal agenda."

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said Friday that he wasn't aware of the mailing, but said it could be the work of the RNC. "It wouldn't surprise me if we were mailing voters on the issue of same-sex marriage," Gillespie said.

Comment For Belle Waring  

Dear Belle,

I'm truly grateful for your mea culpa. But you've just started to understand what happened how spectacularly askew your judgment was and how it happened.

Thousands of people died because those of us who did keep our wits about us these past 4 years couldn't get the word out about Bush until it was too late to stop him. We were smeared (Susan Sontag) by those who were panicked or all-but-ignored (Carnegie Endowment) by the mainstream or politically insignificant (me). And yes, Bush could have been stopped, if the opposition included all the people who now admit they were wrong (and called us irrational lefty wackos in January, 2003). For among those issuing mea culpas or speaking up these days are nearly the entire military and foreign policy establishments, people who either stayed silent, dickered with pedantic objections, or lent their support in varying degrees to Bush's patently obvious serial blundering.

But in retrospect, who were the ones who really were sober and who was irrational? The experts on ethics who wasted months debating the fine points of exactly when torture might be justified? The liberal hawks who spent their time parsing the "nuances" of Wolfowitz's "theories" while they admired his genius? Or those of us who weres shouting as loud as we could to warn the lib hawks and the rest of the country that Bush was a walking disaster whose neglect contributed directly to the security failures of 9/11 and who was apt to make this country even less safe by following a screwy policy of preemptive unilateralism?

So Belle, your post is a good beginning. But... I'm sorry to say this, as I'm sure you're a nice person, but I have to be blunt:

For God's sake, learn what you did wrong from this awful lapse of judgment so you never, ever, repeat it. All you know now is that you were wildly wrong. Based on your post you still don't know why, except that, well, you lost your head.

When war is the subject, Belle, you are morally obligated never to lose your head (figuratively or literally). You are obligated to look war in the face and see it for what it is.

War does nothing except turn human beings into hamburger. It has no other purpose and will solve nothing. War means one thing only to those who deal with it: horror.

When you read that next "sober" treatise about force in international affairs, try to remember that a "just" war is as likely to happen in your lifetime as William Bennett is likely to beat the house at slots. I was born in 1952 - I cannot think of a single worthwhile war, of a war that accomplished its so-called "objectives" that's happened since then. And lots of people have suffered in wars since '52. As for earlier wars, I wasn't alive. All I know is that they happened. And people suffered in ways none of us can imagine or can fully recall.

Finally, Belle, remember this, just in case you think you've encountered an exception, that you're certain that the next conflict is a real example of a" just" war.

No one sane would ever clamor for or rationalize war -they are to be dreaded. If there ever is a "just" war, the only rational response to the necessity of fighting one is one of profound sadness and torpidity, not the lunatic excitement all over the US in early 2003. A "just" war could only be a burden, not a time for cheering and patriotism.

Somerby On A Tear  

Man, when he's good, he's really good.First, Richard Cohen:
Cohen is troubled by obscure, unread novels [Nicholson Baker's latest straight-to-remainder special about a man fantasizing the assasination of George Bush.]. But we wondered: Was he troubled when a famous public figure, Jerry Falwell, pimped a nasty videotape accusing Clinton of multiple murders? A Nexis search produces no mentions in the gentleman’s prior columns. In 1998, was Cohen troubled when Gennifer Flowers began to peddle a Clinton murder list—and was invited all over cable to pimp it? No Nexis mentions. And since Cohen loves “the facts” so much, did he promote the facts in 1995 when the Pillsbury commission found the Clintons innocent of wrong-doing in Whitewater? Sorry—no mention in his columns. In 1996, did Cohen discuss Gene Lyons’ Fools for Scandal, the important book which first explained, to quote its subtitle, “how the media invented Whitewater?” No mentions from fact-lovin’ Cohen. And how outraged did the columnist get when various people—important people—kept pretending Vince Foster had been murdered? In 1997, Cohen actually wrote a column wondering why Foster’s death got probed so often. And guess what—it was partly Clinton’s fault! Here’s the most outrage he could muster:
COHEN (10/14/97): [C]onsider why so many people spent so much time and money looking into Foster's death. His widow, Lisa, has remarried and moved on to a new phase in her life. Only Washington remained mired, fixated, believing that the Clintons could be so evil that they would—God only knows how—murder their troubled friend, move his body from the Oval Office or where the Rose Law Firm billing records were kept (Iron Mountain, I suppose) and place that gun in his hand. The scenario is so preposterous it wouldn't even make a bad movie, but the investigations came one after another.

Some of this, I grant you, is Clinton's fault. He is not a truthful man, and maybe that accounts for the venomous attacks that come his way. Last week, for instance, Mark Helprin, a Wall Street Journal contributing editor, called Clinton "the most corrupt, fraudulent and dishonest president we have ever known." Helprin is a novelist, so a little leeway should be granted, but has he forgotten Richard Nixon? Nineteen of the president's men went to jail—and not, mind you, for crimes committed before coming to Washington.
Cohen gave leeway to novelists then, even when their nasty claims were being published in important places. But Cohen didn’t show much outrage by the jihad against Clinton, who had brought the venomous attacks on himself. “Now can we have an investigation into why there have been so many investigations?” he quipped. “I ask that question a bit tongue in cheek—but also because I am at a loss to explain what has happened in Washington since George Bush departed the place and Bill Clinton came in.” Today, though, he sees the problem clearly. When an intelligent man complains privately about Bush, Cohen goes into print to describe it as “hatred.” But back then, when crackpots drove the discourse for a decade, he chuckled. He couldn’t figure it out.
That quote from Cohen's '97 column: I'd forgotten how insane and ubiquitous the media coverage was. Like Clinton brought on himself the lurid fantasies of Falwell.

Also amongst the recipients of a deluxe orifice enlargement are the Smear Boat Veterans:
Their book has ten chapters, and chapter nine is devoted to Kerry-the-Commie. The title? “Kerry’s Communist Honors.”
O’NEILL/CORSI (page 167): In the Vietnamese Communist War Remnants Museum (formerly known as the War Crimes Museum) in Ho Chi Minh City, a photograph of John Kerry hangs in a room titled “The World Supports Vietnam in its Resistance.” The photograph shows Senator John Kerry being greeted by the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Comrade Do Muoi. The story broke over the 2004 Memorial Day weekend. Jeffrey M. Epstein of the Vietnam Vets for the Truth acquired the photograph in response to a request for photographs and records detailing Kerry’s activities on behalf of the enemy.
“Kerry’s activities on behalf of the enemy?” In fact, that photograph was taken in 1993, when Kerry went to Vietnam as part of an official U.S. delegation pursuing the POW/MIA issue. After several pages of dime-novel clowning designed to make this visit sound like a mystery, O’Neill and Corsi even concede this. Kerry’s presence in Nam was “reasonable.” But then they explain the Big Problem:
O’NEILL/CORSI (page 172): Thus, the existence of photographs showing Senator Kerry meeting with General Secretary Do Muoi is not in question. In the course of pursuing the POW and MIA issue, it is reasonable that Senator Kerry would seek to meet with leaders of Communist Vietnam. The critical issue here is that the Vietnamese Communists have chosen to honor Senator Kerry in their War Remnants Museum for his assistance in helping them achieve victory over the United States.
It isn’t wrong that Kerry was there. The problem turns out to be the way the Commies have chosen to caption that photo! ...

Yes, O’Neill and Corsi are upset because the enemy posted an innocuous photo of a U.S. senator doing his job. But then, that’s always the standard for crackpots like these...

But then, how kooky are O’Neill and Corsi about Kerry’s antiwar exploits? As crackpots of their type always do, they complain about the antiwar movement because America’s leading Communist paper was against the war too. That’s right, readers! Back in the early 1970s, the Daily World was still in print, being read by seventeen people and affecting the American debate not a whit. But so what! You know how the “reasoning” works: The enemy is criticizing the war in Vietnam. So if you are criticizing the war in Vietnam, that must mean you’re part of the enemy!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Quote Of The Day  

John Kerry speaks to the National Guard:
True leadership is about looking people in the eye and telling the truth — even when it's hard to hear.

If This Is True, Heads Should Roll  

Soldiers claim they are threatened:Re-enlist, or ship out to Iraq:
ldiers from a Fort Carson combat unit say they have been issued an ultimatum - re-enlist for three more years or be transferred to other units expected to deploy to Iraq.

Hundreds of soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team were presented with that message and a re-enlistment form in a series of assemblies last Thursday, said two soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity...

"They said if you refuse to re-enlist with the 3rd Brigade, we'll send you down to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is going to Iraq for a year, and you can stay with them, or we'll send you to Korea, or to Fort Riley (in Kansas) where they're going to Iraq," said one of the soldiers, a sergeant.

The second soldier, an enlisted man who was interviewed separately, essentially echoed that view.

"They told us if we don't re-enlist, then we'd have to be reassigned. And where we're most needed is in units that are going back to Iraq in the next couple of months. So if you think you're getting out, you're not," he said.

The brigade's presentation outraged many soldiers who are close to fulfilling their obligation and are looking forward to civilian life, the sergeant said.

"We have a whole platoon who refuses to sign," he said.
I've skipped the boilerplate denials by Army officials was removed but this is telling:
"I can only tell you what the retention officers told us: The soldiers were not being told they will go to Iraq, but they may go to Iraq," said the spokesman, who gave that explanation before being told later to direct all inquiries to the Pentagon.
Or this one:
"There's probably a lot of places on post where they could put those folks (who don't re-enlist) until their time expires. But I don't want to rule out the possibility that they could go to a unit that might deploy," said Healy.
A helpful summary at the end of the article.
Soldiers' choice at Fort Carson


• "Elect not to extend or re-enlist and understand that the soldier will be reassigned IAW (in accordance with) the needs of the Army by Department of the Army HRC (Human Resources Command) . . . or Fort Carson G1 (Personnel Office).''


• Soldiers who sign the letter are bound to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team until Dec. 31, 2007.

• Soldiers who do not sign the letter might be transferred out of the brigade and possibly to Iraq.
The "possibly" in that last sentence is the point of contention. Personally, I believe those two soldiers but it's gonna take more than two guys to break this thing open.

via Atrios.

Meanwile, In Afghanistan  

Karzai escapes assassination bid.
Afghanistan's interim President Hamid Karzai has escaped what the U.S. military described as an assassination bid when a rocket was fired at his helicopter while he was campaigning for next month's scheduled election.

Karzai was about to land in Gardez, about 100 miles (161 km) south of Kabul, for a road opening ceremony when the missile was fired. He aborted the trip and immediately returned to the presidential palace in the capital...

Karzai escaped an assassination attempt in 2002 in the southern city of Kandahar. His security was later tightened.

He has since rarely been seen in Afghanistan outside his fortified presidential palace in Kabul where he is protected by U.S. bodyguards.
Glad to hear the country is so secure. Inside the circle created by Karzai's bodyguards.

Bush: Faith-Based Wuss  

Alan Cooperman in WaPo makes a damn good point, that despite all his blathering about his faith, Bush doesn't say anything specific about what he really believes. Unfortunately, the article is filled with uncorrected lies by Bush hagiographers and is sometimes slanted to give equal weight to christianist political garbage. Some highlights with comments.
In 2000, he suggested that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools since "religion has been around a lot longer than Darwinism." But he avoided stating his choice between the two positions. [sic: they are not two different positions, which implies an equivalence. One is science, the other is political activism hiding behind the Bible. ]


On the question of salvation, Bush has also adopted a nuanced position [flip flop, flip flop]. In a Houston Post interview in 1994, as he was beginning his first run for governor, he suggested that heaven is open only to those who have accepted Jesus as their savior. Though to many Christians that is a basic article of faith, the comment caused a small furor among Jews in Texas and threatened to become a bigger problem when Bush considered running for president.

In 1998, he sent a letter of apology to the Anti-Defamation League stressing his respect for all faiths, and throughout the 2000 campaign he denied ever having made any exclusivist claim about salvation. [That's not nuance. That's a lie.]


...Bush himself said in a 2000 interview with, a religion Web site: "To be frank with you, I am not all that comfortable describing my faith, because in the political world, there are a lot of people who say, 'Vote for me, I'm more religious than my opponent,' " he said. "And those kind of folks make me a little nervous." [No. He doesn't say "I, George Bush, am more religious." But everyone else knows what to say. Once again, he lets the little people around him do his sleaze.]


...Bush had told members of the clergy that he believed God called upon him to run for president. In his book "A Charge to Keep," Bush said he was moved to run by a sermon delivered by his friend Mark Craig, a Methodist minister, in 1999 during his second gubernatorial inauguration. "I believe God wants me to be president," the Rev. Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, quoted Bush as saying.

Observers have interpreted Bush's words in different ways. [Indeed, they have. Some of us think that when someone explicitly says they are called by God, they're either frauds or exhibiting classic symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. Some religions, like certain kinds of Catholicism, state that believing you've been called by God is a heresy. Most religious people pray they are following God's will and pray they've been called by God.]

...During Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, for example, he evoked an old gospel hymn when he said, "Yet there's power, wonder-working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people." What the hymn says, however, is that there is "power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb." The hymn, Wallis said, is about the power of Christ -- not the power of the American nation, or any nation...


[David Frum:] "If you said to him, 'Does God want you to invade Iraq?' he'd say, 'I don't know.' He'd say, 'I asked for the best wisdom I could have to make that decision.' " [Frum is lying through his teeth, not unusual for him, but this one's especially easy to catch. In fact, Bush once said: " God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam..." ]

Ivan The Really Really Terrible  

Mobile, Alabama this morning.

Ivan Alabama blog here. Hang in there, people.

[Update: A truly amazing picture of Ivan taken from the International Space Station can be found here.]

Comment For Matthew Yglesias  

In the Times this morning, Wolfowitz showed a teensy shred of common human decency and Matthew is moved to write:
...just screeching 'neocons bad!' isn't necessarily the most productive liberal approach to foreign policy.

(Need I point out the obvious fallacy here? Even (insert name of favorite psychopath here) was kind to (choose one: cute, furry animals; small children; naive, young philosophy graduates).)

It Hasn't Dropped Nearly Enough  

Bush support drops, a lot, among the undecideds:
President George W. Bush's approval rating declined to 44 percent from 56 percent among undecided voters since the Republican National Convention, a poll by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center found.

Bush, 58, leads Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry in polls after the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 convention. His favorable ratings on key issues in the Annenberg poll fell among voters who haven't decided whom to support or who aren't committed to a candidate.

``On a number of points, Bush lost ground on persuadable voters'' as the convention faded into memory, said Adam Clymer, the Philadelphia-based center's political director.

Bush and Kerry battle over science  

Nature magazine asked their opinions. Some highlights:
President Bush, after agonising about the policy for some time, announced that federal funding would be available for research only into stem-cell lines which existed at that moment. i.e. no new lines could be created.

He argued that to do otherwise would be to violate the integrity of the embryo...

Senator Kerry supported by a lobby group backed by 48 Nobel Prize winners.

His answer in Nature therefore called for restrictions to be lifted: "I will lift the ideologically driven restrictions on stem-cell research created by the Bush administration by overturning the ban on federal funding of research on new stem-cell lines, all while ensuring rigorous ethical oversight..."

In his Nature response [Bush] accepted that "global climate change is a serious long-term issue" but then challenged assumptions about the effect of greenhouse gases by saying that the National Academy of Sciences "found that considerable uncertainty remains..."

[Kerry:] "The scientific evidence is clear that global warming is already happening... President Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, stubbornly walking away from the negotiating table altogether...."

The US is currently examining how to build a new generation of so-called mini-nukes. Mr Bush says that this effort will continue because "the evolving security environment requires a flexible and responsive weapons-complex infrastructure", an answer clearly written by an official expert.

It means that the US wants a greater range of nuclear weapons, for example in attacking underground bunkers.

Mr Kerry says flatly that "I would end the pursuit of a new generation of nuclear weapons." So that difference is clear enough.

[Bush:] "Our policy is to develop and deploy, at the earliest possible date, ballistic missile defences drawing on the best technologies available."

Mr Kerry favours research but "I am not for rapid deployment of missile defence. We should not waste money on deployment at this stage."

[Bush:] "America will return to the Moon as early as 2015 and no later than 2020 and use it as a foundation for human missions beyond the Moon." He does not mention Mars.

Mr Kerry is sceptical. "There is little to be gained from a space initiative that throws out lofty goals, but fails to support these goals with realistic funding."

Neither candidate opposes GM foods.
The difference in seriousness is, I hope, obvious. One wants to deplay untested missiles, the other one thinks it's a waste of money. One wants to develop mini-nukes, which would destabilize the world and can never be controlled. The other one doesn't.

And with the choice so stark, the race is even close?????

Better Late Than Never, Kofi  

Yes, it's mild-mannered diplo-speak but I think Annan sounds like he's furious:
"U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared explicitly for the first time Wednesday night that the U.S.-led war on Iraq was illegal. Annan said that the invasion was not sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council or in accordance with the U.N.'s founding charter. In an interview with the BBC World Service broadcast Wednesday night, he was asked outright if the war was illegal. He replied: 'Yes, if you wish.'

He then added unequivocally: 'I have indicated it was not in conformity with the U.N. charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal.'

Annan has until now kept a tactful silence, and his intervention at this point undermines the argument pushed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the war was legitimized by Security Council resolutions.

Annan also questioned whether it will be feasible on security grounds to go ahead with the first planned election in Iraq scheduled for January. 'You cannot have credible elections if the security conditions continue as they are now,' he said"

Bush Lead Goes Plotz  

But Bush's numbers are still far too high by half.

One More Mole?  

Very, very weird story:
A former high-ranking State Department official who is one of the nation's leading experts on China passed documents to Taiwanese intelligence agents and was charged yesterday with concealing a trip to Taiwan, court papers say.

Donald W. Keyser, who was elevated to principal deputy assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs this year, made the trip last year, according to an FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Keyser, 61, who advised Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on China issues, met with one of the agents in Taipei last September during an official trip to China and Japan, the affidavit says.

Tailed by the FBI in recent weeks, Keyser and two Taiwanese agents conducted a series of covert meetings around Washington. At a meeting July 31 at the Potowmack Landing restaurant, the affidavit says, Keyser handed the Taiwanese two envelopes "that appeared to bear U.S. government printing.''

On Sept. 4 at the same Alexandria restaurant, on the Potomac River with a view of downtown Washington, FBI agents saw Keyser pass a document captioned "discussion topics,'' the affidavit says. FBI agents stopped the three men outside the restaurant and took the six-page document, described in the affidavit as something "derived from material to which Keyser had access as a result of his employment with the Department of State..."

Roy quit his job in protest in 2000 after then-Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright suspended Keyser for 30 days and reassigned him because of lax security stemming from a missing top-secret laptop computer. Keyser was one of at least six State Department employees disciplined over the loss of the computer, which contained thousands of pages of information about weapons proliferation issues and was never found. Roy said yesterday that Keyser had nothing to do with the computer's disappearance.

This is the second recent instance of a federal official being implicated in passing documents to countries friendly with the United States. The FBI is investigating whether Lawrence A. Franklin, a Pentagon policy analyst, provided a draft presidential directive on Iran to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and whether that committee passed the information to Israel, law enforcement sources have said. No charges have been filed...

Court documents say James A. Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and Keyser's superior at the time, told the FBI that Keyser was not permitted to travel to Taiwan on official business because the United States and Taiwan don't have diplomatic relations and that he would have vetoed such a trip.

Experts were surprised that Keyser would travel to Taiwan right after visiting China.

"The whole idea that he could take a trip like this that was not authorized while he was deputy assistant secretary is ludicrous to me. People in that position don't just move around anonymously,'' said a former high-ranking State Department official who specialized in Chinese affairs and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the case's sensitivity.

Keyser appeared in federal court in Alexandria yesterday and later was scheduled to be released on $500,000 bond.
What the hell is going on in Washington? Was he a Taiwanese mole? Or just an idiot? Was he on a secret mission for State who was picked up in retaliation for the Franklin affair?


The Ad That Beats Bush  

Composed by Wayne Barrett:
The ad starts with Bush and his September 14, 2001, bullhorn. This time, though, it's a Kerry commercial that reminds swing-state Americans of Bush's blood vow—precisely three years ago—that "the people who knocked down these buildings" would "hear all of us soon." The cowboy soundbites that we would "smoke 'em out" track across the screen with any network's footage of the "wanted dead or alive" culprits: Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Mullah Omar.

Then the camera moves on to anchors reporting that bin Laden was cornered at Tora Bora, picked up on cell-phone intercepts commanding the surrounded 2,000 Al Qaeda troops, but that U.S. commanders were allowing mercenary Pashtuns to lead the fighting and Pakistanis to seal the backside border. Next, news headlines blare that Special Forces and key CIA operatives were prematurely pulled out of Afghanistan to prepare for the war on Iraq. The last visual is of Bush momentarily forced at a March 2002 press conference to discuss bin Laden: "I just don't spend that much time on him, to be honest with ya."

The voice-over is Monica Gabrielle's, a 9-11 widow and leader. "My husband died in tower two and the people who killed him have not heard from us three years later. The president will not even talk about these murderers. Sometimes he claims his administration has captured two-thirds of Al Qaeda's lesser leaders; sometimes, three-quarters. The 9-11 Commission says one-quarter. Terrorists killed more people—625—in 2003 than in any year other than 2001. They wounded more than ever—3,646 people. Even the president concedes that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the attack that changed my life forever. Why have we expended hundreds of times the resources and troops in Iraq than we have in pursuit of the mass murderers who vow to hit us again? Anybody could accept a good-faith effort that failed. But we cannot accept a so-called war on terror that has never aggressively targeted the number one terrorists."
Ten to one bin Laden is reported captured or killed within 24 hours of this ad's first screening.

And US Casualties From Iraq/Afghanistan Are A Mite Underreported  

About 17,000 undercounted:
Nearly 17,000 service members medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan are absent from public Pentagon casualty reports commonly cited by newspapers, according to military data reviewed by United Press International. Most don't fit the definition of casualties, according to the Pentagon, but a veterans' advocate said they should all be counted.

The Pentagon has reported 1,019 dead and 7,245 wounded from Iraq.

The military has evacuated 16,765 individual service members from Iraq and Afghanistan for injuries and ailments not directly related to combat, according to the U.S. Transportation Command, which is responsible for the medical evacuations. Most are from Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Among those unreported casualties:
Among veterans from Iraq seeking help from the VA, 5,375 have been diagnosed with a mental problem, making it the third-leading diagnosis after bone problems and digestive problems. Among the mental problems were 800 soldiers who became psychotic.
Awful. And if that is what's happening to the soldiers, imagine the mental health of the Iraqis.

And let's not forget, Bush owns Iraq now, not Saddam. The US will be blamed directly for Iraq, not some Iraqi totalitarian crackpot. It's better now than it was under Saddam? Golly, what a standard.

Yeah, Iraq's Bad But Don't Tell The Suckers Voters  

More evidence of that Bush is lying to get elected:
A classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President Bush in late July spells out a dark assessment of prospects for Iraq, government officials said Wednesday.

The estimate outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war, the officials said. The most favorable outcome described is an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms.

"There's a significant amount of pessimism," said one government official who has read the document, which runs about 50 pages. The officials declined to discuss the key judgments - concise, carefully written statements of intelligence analysts' conclusions - included in the document...

As described by the officials, the pessimistic tone of the new estimate stands in contrast to recent statements by Bush administration officials, including comments on Wednesday by Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, who asserted that progress was being made.
To underscore the point, today 2 Americans and a Briton were kidnapped in Baghdad
The three men worked for the Gulf Services Company, based in the United Arab Emirates, and were believed to be involved in construction, said neighbors and an American embassy official.

Iraq's Not Like Vietnam, After All  

It's worse, much worse, say numerous important American strategists and well-known retired generals, as reported by Sidney Blumenthal [emphases added]:
...[A]ccording to the US military's leading strategists and prominent retired generals, Bush's war is already lost. Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, told me: "Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." He adds: "Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends."

Retired general Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, told me: "The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options. We're conducting a campaign as though it were being conducted in Iowa, no sense of the realities on the ground. It's so unrealistic for anyone who knows that part of the world. The priorities are just all wrong."

Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, said: "I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true. There's no analogy whatsoever between the situation in Iraq and the advantages we had after the second world war in Germany and Japan."

W Andrew Terrill, professor at the Army War College's strategic studies institute - and the top expert on Iraq there - said: "I don't think that you can kill the insurgency". According to Terrill, the anti-US insurgency, centred in the Sunni triangle, and holding several cities and towns - including Fallujah - is expanding and becoming more capable as a consequence of US policy.

"We have a growing, maturing insurgency group," he told me. "We see larger and more coordinated military attacks. They are getting better and they can self-regenerate. The idea there are x number of insurgents, and that when they're all dead we can get out is wrong. The insurgency has shown an ability to regenerate itself because there are people willing to fill the ranks of those who are killed. The political culture is more hostile to the US presence. The longer we stay, the more they are confirmed in that view."

After the killing of four US contractors in Fallujah, the marines besieged the city for three weeks in April - the watershed event for the insurgency. "I think the president ordered the attack on Fallujah," said General Hoare. "I asked a three-star marine general who gave the order to go to Fallujah and he wouldn't tell me. I came to the conclusion that the order came directly from the White House." Then, just as suddenly, the order was rescinded, and Islamist radicals gained control, using the city as a base.

"If you are a Muslim and the community is under occupation by a non-Islamic power it becomes a religious requirement to resist that occupation," Terrill explained. "Most Iraqis consider us occupiers, not liberators." He describes the religious imagery common now in Fallujah and the Sunni triangle: "There's talk of angels and the Prophet Mohammed coming down from heaven to lead the fighting, talk of martyrs whose bodies are glowing and emanating wonderful scents."

"I see no exit," said Record. "We've been down that road before. It's called Vietnamisation. The idea that we're going to have an Iraqi force trained to defeat an enemy we can't defeat stretches the imagination. They will be tainted by their very association with the foreign occupier. In fact, we had more time and money in state building in Vietnam than in Iraq."

General Odom said: "This is far graver than Vietnam.There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies."

Terrill believes that any sustained US military offensive against the no-go areas "could become so controversial that members of the Iraqi government would feel compelled to resign". Thus, an attempted military solution would destroy the slightest remaining political legitimacy. "If we leave and there's no civil war, that's a victory."

General Hoare believes from the information he has received that "a decision has been made" to attack Fallujah "after the first Tuesday in November. That's the cynical part of it - after the election. The signs are all there."

He compares any such planned attack to the late Syrian dictator Hafez al-Asad's razing of the rebel city of Hama. "You could flatten it," said Hoare. "US military forces would prevail, casualties would be high, there would be inconclusive results with respect to the bad guys, their leadership would escape, and civilians would be caught in the middle. I hate that phrase collateral damage. And they talked about dancing in the street, a beacon for democracy."

General Odom remarked that the tension between the Bush administration and the senior military officers over Iraqi was worse than any he has ever seen with any previous government, including Vietnam. "I've never seen it so bad between the office of the secretary of defence and the military. There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster. The two parties whose interests have been advanced have been the Iranians and al-Qaida. Bin Laden could argue with some cogency that our going into Iraq was the equivalent of the Germans in Stalingrad. They defeated themselves by pouring more in there. Tragic."

Y' Learn Sumtin' New Every Day  

Amazing what nuggets of information you can pick up from blogs. How did we ever get our gentleman's C+'s without them?

F'rinstance, Michael Bérubé posts some correspondence from the Kerry campaign. As Roger de Bris, the director from The Producers says, it's just drenched with historical goodies:
Dear Michael Bérubé:

Thank you for not giving us any unsolicited campaign advice.  We’re having a hard enough time as it is, trying to stay focused on jobs and health care while Iraq descends inexorably into the abyss.

But in all honesty, we have to say that your blog hasn’t really been helping lately.  We liked your RNC coverage, but since then, your deliberate post-convention confounding of “originals” and “parodies” has left many voters confused, and your strange Mobius-strip exchange with Tristero seems to have eerily anticipated the Killian memo phenomenon, in which “the real” is dissolved in a bubbling vat of textuality only to appear again in the form of a forgery that tells the truth.  It’s hard, amidst all this nonsense, to keep people focused on the fact that George Bush is the worst president since James Garfield fell into that coma.  (Actually many of us would prefer Garfield-in-a-coma.  But we can’t very well say that on the stump.)
Man oh man! And all this time, I thought Garfield was a cat. Who knew?

And it's so nice they wrote Michael a personal letter, isn't it?

Hold Them Accountable  

Excellent simple ad campaign that starts Monday. The video is posted and you can sign a petition to urge the debate questioners to ask the tough questions no one's asking.

Best Explanation Yet Of The Fake Controversy Over Killian Docs  

Here's what we know:

The key expert CBS relied on has said all along that he couldn't make a judgment about the typeface because he did not have originals, only degraded copies.

However, he thought he could assess the signatures, and gave his expert opinion that the signatures were Col. Killian's.

CBS apparently got a lot of conflicting opinion about the memos from experts, not that surprising since degraded copies lend themselves to subjective interpretation.

But CBS concluded that since all its other reporting corroborated the content of the memos, they made a reasonable journalistic judgment that the memos were legit.

Now, yesterday we heard from Killian's former secretary.

She made a compelling case that the memos were fake.

But she has also said their content reflected Killian's views at the time, and that she herself typed such memos for him.

Well, if that's the case, (let's stress "if") it's no wonder CBS got snookered, and no wonder CBS' reporting backed up the memos.

Because who would ever figure that there were fakes of memos that really exist?

It doesn't make obvious sense.

But then again, we should know by now that sometimes reality doesn't always make sense on the surface.

You may recall, a lot of people were convinced Saddam had WMD.

Well, why wouldn't he?

He surely had them before, and he hadn't properly accounted for what he did have.

Who would have foreseen the possibility that Iraq's government was so screwed up that Saddam may have thought it advantageous to bluff, or that he might have been misled by his own scientists?

(This is not to let Dubya off the hook, as we also know now that within the Administration doubters existed and were ignored.)

But we don't have a media that is interested in explaining complicated truths and challenging knee-jerk logic.

We have a media that would rather let partisans mask complexities with simplistic rhetoric.

And in the case of the memos, a media more interested in scoring points on one of its own.

Even if it distracts from the real story about the honesty of a man in power.
I'm continuing to stand with CBS on this one.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Plot Thickens  

40 House Republicans go for blood, demanding CBS retract their story My favorite quote from the letter:
To date, CBS's response to the specific and devastating criticisms of the accuracy of its reporting has been to question the motives of its critics, to offer half-truths in its own defense, to refuse to disclose crucial evidence, and to circle the wagons.
Of course, all three accusations are what Bush does as a matter of course, as in Plamegate, Richard Clarke, o'Neill, 9/11, and so on.

As for the memos, please read Mahablog's posts, not that it will make much difference whether the memos are true or false anymore (and nothing yet "revealed" has changed my opinion they're real). The entire issue of Bush's Nat Guard service has become, as I said earlier, radioactive. And Dan Rather who, you may recall, was the other fellow, besides Saddam, who dared to diss Bush I, has been thoroughly slimed. I'm not a Rather fan, but this is ridiculous.

Blast From The Past  

On April 30, 2004, I proposed 4 possible scenarios for how the Iraqification of Fallujah would work out:
1. The Iraqi army enters Fallujah and engages in a wholesale slaughter. Everyone in the world will know that they committed those atrocities on behalf of the Americans.

2. The Iraqi army enters Fallujah and proclaims it liberated. Joining with the "anti-American insurgents" -who may very well be fellow Baathists- they provide arms and brains that will make it more, not less, difficult for a civil war between minority Sunnis and majority Shias to be averted.

3. The siege of Fallujah, now Iraqi-fied, continues indefinitely, a situation that will inevitably lead to the sapping of the will of the sieging army who will then be tempted to reconsider which side they are on, their countrymen's or the Americans who are forcing them to conduct the siege.

4. The reconstituted Baathist army, who know how to deal with their fellows, will negotiate a handover of all heavy armament from the Fallujan insurgents. Then, since their mission is over, the Baathist army will voluntary disband, handing over all their weaponry to the Americans, and stand down to await the peaceful turnover of authority to a representative government on June 30th, all without firing a shot.

I'm just kidding about #4, of course. But that seems to be the hope behind this plan. And as we all know about hope...
Hmmm... looks like 2 and 3 combined was just about right.

Alan Keyes Talks Sense On The Iraq War  

What he says:
"This is a war we're in," one source recounted Keyes as saying. "The way you win wars is that you start fires that will consume the enemy."
Yes, exactly, Alan! Uh, wait a minute...


Eh, Alan wasn't talking about the Iraq War at all. He was talking about his "contest" with Barack Obama. Here's some other things he said:
...Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes told the state's top GOP donors at a recent closed-door meeting that he plans to make "inflammatory" comments "every day, every week" until the election, according to several sources at the session.

The sources said Keyes explained that his campaign has been unfolding according to plan and likened it to a war in which lighting the "match" of controversy was needed to ignite grass-roots voters...

At the session, the sources said, Keyes denied that he has engaged in name-calling in his campaign. But he likened Democratic opponent Barack Obama to a "terrorist" because Obama, a state senator, voted against a legislative proposal pushed by abortion foes, sources said.

Mounting a non-traditional campaign based heavily on theologically based moral teachings, Keyes predicted he could lock up one-quarter of the black vote by stressing his belief that Jesus would not vote for Obama based on the Democrat's support for abortion rights, the sources said.
By the way, apparently, he didn't quite call Barack a "terrorist," just said that abortion and terrorism share the same root cause, "disregard for life."

Hope that's clear.

Even When It Doesn't Matter, He Lies  

Check this out from Josh Marshall:
In his speech yesterday to the National Guard Association of the United States President Bush said that he was proud to be one of 19 presidents to have served in the Guard.

This struck one of my readers as a tad fishy. And when he dropped me a line about it, my reaction was the same.

There have, after all, been 43 presidents of the United States. So almost half, according to the president are Guard veterans. Who knew?

Actually, it's even more striking because President Bush is one of only two presidents who served in the Guard during the 20th century. (Harry Truman served in the Missouri National Guard from 1905-1911 and then again in World War I.)

So what's the deal? Why were the 19th and 18th centuries so rich in Guard-serving presidents?

Basically the president was using what amounts to a historical trick.

He's including the individual state militias, which before the 20th century fought most of America's wars, as the National Guard.

So, for instance, Thomas Jefferson, who briefly commanded a regiment in the Virginia militia. He was in the National Guard.

Almost all the presidents from the latter part of the 19th century who fought in the Civil War? National Guard vets.

By this definition pretty much everyone -- with the exception of a some career officers -- who served under arms for the US from the Revolution through the end of the 19th century would count as a Guard veteran.

The president didn't come up with the number 19 out of whole cloth. The National Guard Association of the United States for instance speaks of the 19 presidents "who served in the Guard or its forerunner, the organized militia." President left off that little detail.
Kind of amazing, ain't it?

Robert Kagan Has A Great Sense of Humor  

Kagan in WaPo today:
Vladimir Putin, the aspiring dictator of Russia, has forced President Bush to reveal how committed he really is to the cause of democracy around the world.

Putin's decision on Monday to end the system of direct popular election of Russia's governors, and to have the Russian parliament elected on the basis of slates chosen by national party leaders he mostly controls, is an unambiguous step toward tyranny in Russia. It cannot be justified as part of the war on terrorism. Putin has had these plans ready for months. He is cynically using the horrific terrorist attack in Beslan as his excuse.

Nor is there any complexity or fuzziness about the significance of Putin's actions. Putin is imposing dictatorship the old-fashioned way, in the manner of a Ferdinand Marcos, an Anastasio Somoza or a Park Chung Hee. He claims that he needs to strengthen the state to face its enemies. So did they. Russia does need to fight terrorism. But eliminating elections and quashing Putin's political opponents has nothing to do with that fight.

The question now: Does President Bush care about the fate of democracy in Russia?
Hahahahahaha! Doesn't he just crack you up?

And doesn't the whole thing remind you of a joke Bush cracked back in December, 2000?

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier ... just as long as I'm the dictator."
Oh, hohoho! What a card!

A Very Happy Ending For A Change  

Woman fired for supporting Kerry gets hired by Kerry.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Rewriting Kerry's Press Releases #1  

You can find the original here. Here's how it should have read:

It didn't have to be this way.

More than 1000 US casualties, $200 billion spent. And now, sixteen months after "Mission Accomplished," Iraq remains a nightmare. In fact, it's getting so bad that today, the Bush administration was forced to move money from reconstruction to security.

Mission NOT Accomplished.

George Bush has failed the Iraqi people. And he has failed the American people, who have always supported the troops and prayed that the Iraq war would be swift and successful. He failed to plan for the peace in Iraq. He thoroughly "misunderestimated" the insurgency. He failed to convince our allies that this war was necessary. Incredibly, he's even failed to protect our troops by providing enough body armor for them.

It didn't have to be this way.

And it doesn't have to continue. It's time for a real leader in the White House, a leader who knows, from his own brave experience, what war is about and the immense value of following through to a secure peace.

It's time for John Kerry.

And Now For Something Completely Different  

Click here first.
Now click here.

Bush Unravels  

At the National Guard Association:
...Kerry said the president's speech was full of distortions. ``Why would we expect George Bush to level with us about Iraq? He never has,'' the Democratic presidential candidate said.

Bush did not address questions that have been raised about his service three decades ago in the Guard or respond to accusations from Democrats that he used family ties to avoid the Vietnam War. Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, addresses the same group Thursday and has directed his allies in the national Democratic Party to make an issue of Bush's service...

[Bush] said Kerry and Edwards later voted against money for the war, not mentioning that his own administration once threatened a veto of the funding measure or that Kerry had supported one version of the bill. He noted that Kerry has both called for more money for Iraq and asserted that Bush has squandered money there that could be spent in the United States...

It is a major part of Bush's re-election strategy to convince voters, especially those wary of his economic and Iraq policies, that he is the only candidate in the race steady enough to lead the nation at war.

Kerry said the troubles in Iraq prove that Bush is not that candidate. ``George W. Bush keeps saying that things are getting better'' in Iraq ``even when we all know that's just not true,'' the Democrat said in a statement.

More than 200 protesters echoed those sentiments outside Bush's speech site, including Bill Shettler, 67-year-old retiree who carried a sign that read: ``Bush is an idiot. 1,000 lives wasted.'' At a news conference for a group of families opposed to the war, Al Zappala, a 64-year-old retired Defense Department employee from Philadelphia, said his son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was the first Pennsylvania National Guard soldier to die in action since World War II.

``Sherwood was sent to Iraq under false pretenses,'' he said. ``This war was brought about by lies by the administration...''

Democrats say the documents show that Bush lied as president when he said that he did his Guard duty. Under the direction of the Kerry campaign, the Democratic National Committee launched ``Operation Fortunate Son'' on Tuesday, releasing a video criticizing Bush's actions during Vietnam.

Kerry received three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star during his four-month tour of Vietnam, and has made his service a cornerstone of his campaign to unseat the incumbent commander in chief.
Note to righwingers: Of course, I cherry-picked from the article. Nothing quoted by Bush rises above the level of tedious cliche. Nothing specifically addresses the very serious questions raised about whether Bush has a plan for Iraq, knows what he's going to do about a rapidly deteriorating situation there, or directly addresses any of the National Guard issues.

But I'll make you an offer: if you can find a single relevant fact that Bush or McClellan mentions in this article that's true and/or not a misleading distortion, I'll post it. But there aren't any.

And by the way, what Bush's record says about the status of his discharge is irrelevant. The issue is that the Killian documents show that Bush disobeyed a direct order and then used his father's connections to avoid any kind of punishment for that. The clear implication is that Bush was such a pile of trouble that he got his HD merely because his father pressured higher ups to make sure that if the Nat Guard wanted to get rid of him, there wouldn't be anything bad in his official records.

Bush needs to address the accusations explicitly and directly.

More Ashcroft Sleaze  

Jeffrey Dubner of TAPPED finds more hiding of malfeasance in plain sight:
Yet another illegal Bush administration use of funds, buried in the last three paragraphs of a Washington Post article:
Conyers also disclosed yesterday that Ashcroft spent more than $200,000 in taxpayer money on trips to 32 cities in August and September 2003 to drum up support for the Patriot Act.

A new Government Accountability Office study of the trips found that Ashcroft and his staff spent more than $77,000 for air transportation, according to congressional staffers who have been briefed on the findings. Nearly $40,000 was spent on hotels and other travel expenses, and U.S. attorney's offices spent more than $80,000 for conference room rentals and other costs, the staff members said.

Justice officials told the GAO they did not keep track of some costs, including meetings between federal prosecutors and lawmakers about Patriot Act legislation. The report is scheduled to be released this week.
So that's 200 grand for the purposes of Patriot Act publicity and negotiating with congressman. Wouldn't be a problem, if it weren't for the following two stipulations in the Treasury and Governmental Appropriations Act, pointed out by the American Progress Action Fund:
SEC. 623. No part of any funds appropriated in this or any other Act shall be used by an agency of the executive branch, other than for normal and recognized executive-legislative relationships, for publicity or propaganda purposes, and for the preparation, distribution or use of any kit, pamphlet, booklet, publication, radio, television or film presentation designed to support or defeat legislation pending before the Congress, except in presentation to the Congress itself. ...

SEC. 626. No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by the Congress.
Section 626 is the provision that the Medicare "video news reports" (remember them? "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting"?) were eventually found to be violating. Unless I'm mistaken, there's been no movement since the GAO found (PDF) that the news reports constituted a "misuse of appropriated funds." If the Department of Health and Human Services is allowed to get a way with this kind of malfeasance, I can't imagine the highest law-enforcement agency in the land will be held to account.

"Osama bin Laden must be smiling."  

Memo to John Kerry:

Read all of Paul Krugman's column today.
If Senator John Kerry really has advisers telling him not to attack Mr. Bush on national security, he should dump them. When Dick Cheney is saying vote Bush or die, responding with speeches about jobs and health care doesn't cut it.

Guess What? Everyone Did Fine Before 9/11  

CIA and Justice say so:
Internal reviews still under way at the Central Intelligence Agency and recently completed at the Justice Department, examining their performance in the run-up to the Sept. 11 attacks, have not resulted in any disciplinary actions, government officials said on Monday.

The reviews were sought in December 2002 by the joint Congressional committee that investigated Sept. 11 events. The purpose, it said, should be to determine "whether and to what extent personnel at all levels should be held accountable" for any mistakes that contributed to the failure to disrupt the attacks.

Neither review has been made public. Intelligence officials said that a draft of the C.I.A. report was completed in July but that a finished version had been delayed in response to questions from the agency's acting director. The final Justice Department report was also completed in July, however, and officials who have seen it say it stops short of recommending disciplinary action.

Both reports have been eagerly awaited by members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and by relatives of those killed on Sept. 11, 2001. The families in particular have complained that government officials have not been held accountable for mistakes that contributed to the attacks.
Of course, not everyone is so forgiving of the men and women who so flagrantly failed to protect us on 9/11. If you don't have time to read "Chpater 8: The System Was Blinking Red" from the 9/11 commission full report, then by all means read Pinning the Blame by Elizabeth Drew.


Chris Bowers has a brilliant analysis of why Right Blogistan was able to move so quickly to neutralize the damage of the Killian memo scandal (and capitalize on the Liars' commercials). This is a must read for all of us bloggers.

Big tip of the horn to Digby for drawing my attention to it.

Report From Hell  

A pair of car bombs killed at least 35 people outside a police station in Baghdad.

Monday, September 13, 2004

"Hummingbirds Alongside Vultures"  

Michiko Kakutani pretends to be above Kitty Kelly's Bushbash book entitled, like an earlier book about Charlie Manson and his girls, The Family but we know that she really just loves it:
...a tacky, voyeuristic and petty-seeming narrative. [I can't imagine a better quote to sell this book.]

She asserts that Laura Bush, as a student at Southern Methodist University in the 60's, "had been known in her college days as a go-to girl for dime bags of marijuana," citing a public relations executive named Robert Nash, identified as "an Austin friend of many in Laura's SMU class." And she writes that Sharon Bush, the former wife of the president's brother Neil, "alleged that W. had snorted cocaine with one of his brothers at Camp David during the time their father was president of the United States..."

Later, talking about possible infidelities on the part of his son, George W. Bush, she serves up this mishmash of insinuation: "Even as a married man, George had a whispered past, which almost surfaced during the campaign. A woman appeared in Austin, claiming to have been a call girl from Midland with an intimate knowledge of him during his days in the oil patch. 'Supposedly she was 'the other woman' in his life, or one of them,' said Peck Young, an Austin political consultant." In the course of this book Ms. Kelley also accuses George W. Bush of being mean, foul-mouthed and careless. Her most vociferous attacks, however, are reserved for his father, whom she depicts as opportunistic, secretive, duplicitous, elitist and often just plain nasty...

She writes that as president and vice president, the elder Bush "allowed his family to take full financial advantage of his high political position": "In that sense," she quips, "he threw open the barnyard door and yelled, 'Suey Suey Suey,' while his brothers and his sons snuffled up to the trough." She adds that these relatives make "the errant relatives of other high-office holders look like hummingbirds alongside vultures."

Of Barbara Bush, Ms. Kelley writes: "Behind her grandmotherly façade was a pearl-wearing mugger the equal of Ma Barker." And of the elder Bushes' post-White House years, she smirks that they "went into retirement like Salvation Army bell ringers, eager to rake in as much money as fast as they possibly could."
And Kakutani wraps up by fake-complaining about Kelly's "tireless focus on sex, drugs and alcohol."

Go get 'em, Kitty.

Boss In Alabama Fires Kerry Supporter  

Lynne Gobbell never imagined the cost of a John Kerry-John Edwards bumper sticker could run so high.

Gobbell of Moulton didn't pay a cent for the sticker that she proudly displays on the rear windshield of her Chevrolet Lumina, but said it cost her job at a local factory after it angered her boss, Phil Gaddis...

"We were going back to work from break, and my manager told me that Phil said to remove the sticker off my car or I was fired," she said. "I told him that Phil couldn't tell me who to vote for. He said, 'Go tell him.' "

She went to Gaddis' office, knocked on the door and entered on his orders.

"Phil and another man who works there were there," she said. "I asked him if he said to remove the sticker and he said, 'Yes, I did.' I told him he couldn't tell me who to vote for. When I told him that, he told me, 'I own this place.' I told him he still couldn't tell me who to vote for."

Gobbell said Gaddis told her to "get out of here."

"I asked him if I was fired and he told me he was thinking about it," she said. "I said, 'Well, am I fired?' He hollered and said, 'Get out of here and shut the door.' "

She said her manager was standing in another room and she asked him if that meant for her to go back to work or go home. The manager told her to go back to work, but he came back a few minutes later and said, " 'I reckon you're fired. You could either work for him or John Kerry,' " Gobbell said...

"I would like to find another job, but I would take that job back because I need to work," she said. "It upset me and made me mad that he could put a letter in my check expressing his (political) opinion, but I can't put something on my car expressing mine."

She was referring to a flier that she said Gaddis placed in employee envelopes to remind them of the positive impact that President Bush's policies have had on them. An employee at the plant who would not identify himself confirmed the contents of the letter.

Gobbell provided a copy of the flier. It says:

"Just so you will know, because of the Bush tax (cut):
I was able to buy the new Hammer Mill
I was able to finance our receivables
I was able to get the new CAT skid steer
I was able to get the wire cutter
I was able to give you a job"

It further says:

"You got the benefit of the Bush tax cut. Everyone did."

Oklahoma GOP Candidate For Senate Is A Walking Disaster  

Where they find these guys?
Tom Coburn may be indispensable to the Republicans' effort to hold on to their majority in the U.S. Senate in November. "He is their best hope for keeping an Oklahoma seat Republican in the closely divided Senate," wrote conservative pundit Robert Novak...

But an incident involving Medicaid from Coburn's past as a physician may cloud his current ambition to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Don Nickles. He is squaring off against Democratic Rep. Brad Carson, who succeeded Coburn in the House in 2000.

According to records obtained by Salon, Coburn filed an apparently fraudulent Medicaid claim in 1990, which he admitted in his own testimony in a civil malpractice suit brought against him 14 years ago by a former female patient. The suit alleged that Coburn had sterilized her without her consent. It eventually was dismissed after the plaintiff failed to appear for the trial. In his sworn testimony, Coburn admitted he sterilized the then 20-year-old woman without securing her written consent as required by law. He blamed the omission on a clerical error, but maintained that he had her oral consent for the procedure. (Salon has been unable to contact the woman and is withholding her name out of respect for her privacy.) Coburn also revealed under oath that he had charged the procedure to Medicaid -- despite knowing that Medicaid, also known as Title 19, does not cover the cost of sterilization for anyone under age 21.

This previously unpublicized episode from his medical practice cuts to the heart of Coburn's political identity. He has built his congressional career on extreme gestures against government programs, exceeded in virulence only by his pronouncements on social issues, including advocating the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions under any circumstances other than those threatening the life of the mother. (And yet, as a doctor, he has performed abortions.)
You can donate to the Democratic candidate, Brad Carson, here.

With Friends Like These...  

What on earth is wrong with Michael Tomasky? Has he lost his $%&#$(#$ marbles????
But the world is the world. Republicans understand the world, and Democrats do not.
Quoth Tomasky.

Think I'm quoting out of context? Try taking two sentences of this piece of trash by Norquist which, to its shame, Washington Monthly printed and see if you can get any of it, any of it at all, to read like a diss of Republicans. You can't.

Methinks American Prospect needs a new executive editor whose command of English is supple enough to say what he wants to say without shooting himself, and his friends, in the foot while doing so.

It's Bush, Stupid (Redux)  

In case anyone needs any reminding of how bad Bush has been and how important it is that he be defeated and Bushism thoroughly discredited, here's a Bush administration timeline.

Denial Is Not An Egyptian River  

The question remains:

Why were so many smart people so quick to believe the blatantly crude right wing propaganda that the Killian documents "might" be fake? Several reasons come to mind. Obviously, the Niger documents that fooled (or not) the crack intelligence team at the Pentagon prior to Bush/Iraq II are in the back of folks' head. But I think there may be another reason:


Few people, no matter how low their opinion of George Bush's character, are willing to believe that the future President of the United States was so pathologically narcissistic, foolish, and un-American that he would go so far as to disobey a direct military order.

That he would then go even further is all but unimaginable. George W. Bush exploited his father's reputation and connections to get away with it,

That is what those documents reveal about George W. Bush. And no one wants to hear such things about a man who has the nearly limitless power that the president has. For anyone who would do that clearly has no respect for anything but his will to power and clearly has no built-in inhibitions from behaving in the most lawless, most dangerous way possible.

In any event, thanks in part to the dependable gullibility of the smart, thoughtful people who were as easily bamboozled about this as they were about the reasons for Bush/Iraq II, the CBS doc story is now radioactive. The freepers put the kibosh on any politicians, let alone swing voters, getting near it or taking it seriously. The only question remaining is how long will it take before calls for Rather's resignation start to buzz around the mainstream news and whether or not he can survive them.

The Fake Document Controversy  

The only thing fake in this story is the idea that the Killian docs are fake. Of course they're real. They add more evidence, not that more was needed, to the already voluminous paper trail that George Bush skipped out on his National Guard obligations in order to booze it up and practice dirty politics.

Why am I so confident they're real? First of all, knowledgeable people, for example, this one, quoted by Digby tell us the obsessive speculation on measurements, instigated by an anonymous Free Republic blogger, is worthless. For such a technical discussion to be worth anything at all, the original documents have to be measured, and they never have been. Even for the most experienced experts, the crucial details of the typography cannot be discerned from looking at a reproduction. (Frankly, it's amazing that this needs to be said as it is so obvious, but some seriously smart people got sucked into believing this "controversy" had merit.)

Second of all, Dan Rather may be many things but he most certainly is not a fool who takes risks with his career. In fact, he has consistently displayed major street smarts over the course of his life. It is impossible to imagine that he would permit such an important story as this one to rest upon forgeries so crude a Freeper could see through them in less than 48 hours. For example Rather went to Afghanistan during the Soviet War and returned; he also set up interviews with Saddam Hussein. Such coverage, as the experienced reporter Danny Pearl's death reminds us, can be very, very dangerous. Both Rather and those who work with him are not easily taken in by conmen. None of these stories, and many, many more, would ever have been undertaken, let alone reported on his show, let alone reported by Rather himself, unless Rather had fully covered himself, and his team, from fakery and harm.

Furthermore, Rather is a man who has survived the fearsome internecine battles that a network news anchor or his stature must fight on a regular basis to survive. He is in his seventies and it is well nigh impossible to imagine that he would ever risk resigning in disgrace after such a long and successful career (for, naturally, the destruction of his reputation as a journalist is what is at stake if the documents were faked). Long before Rather chose to host the 60 Minutes segment himself, the provenance of those docs was checked, double-checked, and triple-checked, either by Rather, trusted colleagues, or most probably both. If, by any chance they were sloppy (and they weren't), CBS's lawyers would have also had a chance to catch any problems.

Let's not forget: The contents of those documents are explosive. They more than imply that the future President of the United States disobeyed a direct order from a military superior. During wartime.

And let's also not forget: Rather's coverage of the runup to war was as shamefully fawning as the White House could ever want. He wouldn't risk his job giving much airtime to those who thought Bush/Iraq II was idiotic. Likewise, last week he took no risk that the Killian docs were fake.

Folks, Rather is an ambitious man who has managed to thrive in a cutthroat business by keeping his head on his shoulders. He's not an ideologically-blinded clown like Douglas Feith, Abram Shulsky, George Bush or Richard Perle, to name just four. Rather is hardly the type to be gulled by obvious forgeries like those in the Niger yellowcake fiasco. And Rather's not someone who would put his career on the line for anyone, let alone an anonymous source with docs accusing George Bush of rank insubordination and using connections to manipulate the National Guard.

Could it be possible that just this once, Rather royally screwed up and was hoaxed?

No, it's not.

In Bill Bennett's world, where hope rests on the slightest shadow of a possibility, anything's possible. But in the real world, no one wins big playing the slots for years, no one draws a Royal Flush, and Dan Rather does not screw up one of the most important stories of his career because he and his team didn't think to examine the typography of a document obtained from an anoymous source.

[Dave Neiwert has a similar take and lots of good links if you have about 200 years of your life to waste reading about kerning issues and the history of superscripts on electric typewriters.]

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