Saturday, February 14, 2004

The Bush Campaign Slogan 


Mr. Bush's campaign team has begun filming the president for television commercials that will be built around the theme of "Steady Leadership in a Time of Change."

Please, it's only February and already I want them to stop.

Good for the newly married gays! 

Jane Meredith from the Chicago Tribune reports:

Attempts to stop San Francisco from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples stalled in court Friday, while city officials granted hundreds more licenses to jubilant couples who came from as far away as New York.

Lawyers for the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund sought an injunction from Judge James Warren of San Francisco Superior Court to stop the actions of city officials, who began issuing the marriage licenses on Thursday. The licenses, authorized by new Mayor Gavin Newsom, are in defiance of a state law passed by a ballot initiative in 2000 that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Warren told the Alliance Defense Fund it had to return at 2 p.m. Tuesday to make its request. The Campaign for California Families, another group seeking an injunction, is to appear in court at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Meanwhile, there was a crushing demand Friday for marriage licenses and ceremonies. To meet it, Mabel Teng, assessor and recorder for the city and county of San Francisco, had eight office clerks from her department and six from the county clerk's office deputized to perform civil ceremonies. They circulated through the rotunda, ready to assist the couples gathered there.

"I expect to marry 300 couples today, maybe 400, maybe 500," said Teng, who performed one ceremony after another. Typically, her office performs 20 ceremonies a day.

City Hall planned to stay open for marriages Saturday, which is Valentine's Day.

My own view—all too lonely, but I still insist rational—is that the state should get out of the marriage business entirely, since the state has no business at all defining "sanctity." That way, everything is clean: churches handle sanctity, and the state handles the contractual aspects (adoption, inheritance, benefits, etc.)

That said, more power to the couples. So far as I can tell, here's what the controversy on the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage boils down to:

  • It solves cash flow problems for the winger attack machine

  • As an appeal to raw hatred and prejudice, it will fit right into Republican election plans for 2004;

  • It won't, in fact, defend marriage. Adultery and divorce destroy far more marriages, and nobody seems to be proposing an amendment against them yet.

I just don't see the logic of it. If Jules and Jim marry, how does that make John and Mary any less married?

The (gutless, feckless) Beltway Dems have said that "Everything is on the table.". Outing gay Republicans—we already know who the adulterers and divorcers are—might be one way to bring this nonsensical amendment talk to and end, tout suite.

So-called Christian pilot disciplined for loony rantings in the air 

AP (Dallas Morning News, registration required):

The chief executive of American Airlines has apologized after a pilot suggested that non-Christian passengers on a recent flight discuss the faith with Christians.

Gerard Arpey said the airline has grounded the pilot with pay while executives investigate the incident.

Arpey said he apologized to anyone who was offended by the pilot's comments on a flight from Los Angeles to New York.

"Let me assure you that we take this very seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation," Arpey wrote in a letter to Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, an advocacy group that monitors anti-Semitism. He said American Airlines "promotes an environment of respect for the diversity of all persons, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, disability, gender, age or sexual orientation."

Foxman had written to Arpey that religious belief is a personal matter and the pilot had breached the privacy of passengers. He called the pilot's conduct "deeply troubling."

The airline said the Washington-based pilot asked passengers on the Feb. 7 flight to raise their hands if they were Christian. Speaking over the aircraft public-address system, he then suggested that other passengers use the flight time to talk to the Christians about their faith, an airline spokesman said.

An airline spokesman, Tim Wagner, said American was interviewing crew members and passengers who complained about the comments. The airline has also asked the pilots' union about the incident. Wagner declined to say whether American would disclose its final findings.

The pilot did not respond to an e-mail request for an interview.

Man, the last thing I want on a long-haul from Los Angeles to New York is for the pilot to suggest that it's OK for some SIC in the next seat to proselytize me for the next six hours. Yech....

For what the pilot actually said, see here.

Vapid Corporatist-Media Shakedown Artists Wanted 

Drawing the line at the company store.

[Begin quoted material]

Save the Editorial Cartoonists! When editors and publishers opt for less controversial syndicated work, they do their readers -- and democracy -- a disservice.

By Chris Lamb
(February 13, 2004) -- John Sherffius, the editorial cartoonist of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, recently resigned after a series of disagreements with the newspaper's editor over his criticism of President George W. Bush and the Republican Party. In one of his last cartoons for the paper, Sherffius drew a Republican elephant riding a pig representing pork-barrel projects. The caption line read: "The party of fiscal discipline."

When the deputy editorial page editor asked Sherffius why he didn't include a Democratic donkey in the drawing, Sherffius replied that, according to newspaper accounts, Republican projects were receiving most of the money. The explanation satisfied the deputy editorial page editor but not the newspaper's editor, Ellen Soeteber, who told him he should either learn to take more direction or look for work elsewhere, The New York Times reported Jan. 12.


Newspaper editors need to quit acting like government bureaucrats and corporate accountants. If they begin acting like guardians of the public trust, as they're intended to do, they may find that their editorial pages give their readers something to look forward to in the morning. They can do this by hiring editorial cartoonists. [end quoted material]

continue reading...

Flashback: Goosestep Patriotism...
"There is immense pressure [from] readers and advertisers to toe the patriotic line as they define it," said Steve Benson, widely considered one of America's leading political cartoonists, who draws for The Arizona Republic and who syndicates his work. "I have had editors who have pulled my syndicated cartoons because readers have marched to their offices and demanded retractions. I have had death threats, efforts to silence me, people who have compared me to traitors."
~ [Follow the Patriotic Line ]


Look! Over there! An intern! 

Yawn. This is all so very, very transparent.

Honestly, how long can we hyperventilate about this stuff? The Republicans can, forever, it seems, but it's OK and that's why we love them. We just don't have to get all hot and bothered ourselves. Nor do the majority of the American people, thank God.

I really think it's time for the SCLM to apply the Edwin Edwards Gold Standard to all these "scandals."

If a Democrat, or a Republican, is:

caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy

then it's a newsworthy sex scandal. Otherwise, it isn't.

NOTE: So we're clear, by "boy," I mean underage male.

Bush AWOL: Bush releases "all" the records—on a Friday, naturally 

And I was wondering which story the malAdministration would try to bury by releasing on a Friday, when all the bloggers are out partying ....

But we'll see about "all"... Why, after all, would we believe them?

Anyhow, Reuters:

President Bush, trying to stamp out a political firestorm, released all his National Guard files during the Vietnam War on Friday to answer election-year charges from Democrats that he shirked his duty.

And it would have been so simple to do this right away ...

White House officials handed out thick packets containing hundreds of pages of documents retrieved from a National Guard records center in Denver. A group of reporters was given 20 minutes to review dozens of pages detailing Bush's medical exams during his service.

So wait a minute. Were the medical records part of the packets, or not? [No; see Update below].

The documents offered no new evidence to place Bush in Alabama during the latter part of 1972, the period when Democrats claim he was basically absent without leave.

The new stack included an evaluation form from his Texas unit that said he could not be evaluated because "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of report."

A Sept. 29, 1972, document from Maj. Gen. Francis Greenlief, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said on "verbal orders" of the commander, Bush was suspended from flying status. "Reason for suspension: Failure to accomplish annual medical examination."

White House communications director Dan Bartlett said Bush did not take the physical because he was going to be doing Guard duty that did not involve flying so there was no need to take the exam.

Hmmm.... So which was cause, and which was effect? Did Bush (a) stop flying because he would have had to take a medical exam (which would have involved a drug test), or did (b) he not take the medical exam because he wasn't going to fly? My money's on (a), just because (b) makes no sense. I mean, we spend a million bucks training Bush to fly, and then send him off to push paper?

Maybe now that the preliminaries are over with, and Bush as "showed his hand" as it were, we can get the real story—why was Bush grounded?

UPDATE No, the medical records were not distributed. Interesting.... AP:

Bush's medical records, dozens of pages in all, were opened for examination by reporters in the Roosevelt Room, but those documents [the medical records] were not allowed to leave the room.

Well, this technique worked with the 9/11 commission...

UPDATE WaPo has a nice collage. Bush makes a great initial impression, screws up more and more, then has to blow town. We hope this is a continuing pattern...

UPDATE Elizabeth Bumiller from The Times focuses on the media angle:

The White House released the documents with little advance notice at 6:30 p.m. after much of the staff had left for a long holiday weekend. It seemed to be as much an effort at public relations as an attempt to quiet Mr. Bush's critics, at least temporarily, by demonstrating the president's willingness to be open about his military service.

the White House went back and forth all week on how many of Mr. Bush's National Guard documents it would release. In an interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Mr. Bush promised that he would release his entire military file, but Mr. Bush's aides backed off that pledge this week, saying that Mr. Bush would only make public those documents "relevant" to his service.

They moved Friday night to end the dispute by releasing all the documents, which they said had only arrived in Washington on Friday afternoon from a National Guard personnel records center in Denver.

"This is absolutely everything," Mr. Bartlett told reporters.

Heh heh. We aleady know what "absolutely" means in GeorgeLand (back)....

Bush AWOL: First witness, debunked 

Meanwhile a retired Alabama Air National Guard officer said he remembers Bush showing up for duty in Alabama in 1972, reading safety magazines and flight manuals in an office as he performed his weekend obligations.

Not bad duty at all!

"I saw him each drill period," retired Lt. Col. John "Bill" Calhoun said in a telephone interview ...

Well, at least that's checkable.

.... with The Associated Press from Daytona Beach, Fla., where he is preparing to watch this weekend's big NASCAR race.

Calhoun, whose name was supplied to the AP by a Republican close to Bush, is the first member of the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group to recall Bush distinctly at the Alabama base in the period of 1972-1973. He was the unit's flight safety officer.

"A Republican close to Bush".... I wonder who that could be.... And by the way, nice touch on the NASCAR thing, Karl ....

Then again, CBS says Calhoun's dates don't match the record:

"He sat in my office he would study his training manuals, read safety magazines. military type stuff," Calhoun told Roberts. Calhoun provided records to CBS News to prove he was on the base at the time. He says the President regularly drilled during the months of May through October 1972, when Mr. Bush was working on an election campaign.

"I know he was in there on drills, uh, four months. And it could have been five and it even could have been six."

But Calhoun's account appears to be at odds with records released by the White House. They show that President Bush logged no Guard duty -- anywhere -- from April 17th until October 28th.

And former Guard Pilot Bob Mintz -- who was with the Alabama unit at the time -- says the base was all abuzz about a politically-connected Lieutenant coming in. But Mintz claims he never saw Mr. Bush -- and expects the newcomer would have stood out.
(via reader Gaska at CalPundit.
Golly. Our ever-changing stories....

Friday, February 13, 2004

Bush AWOL: Bartlett claims "zone of privacy" 

Mike Allen in WaPo:

The White House did not release 44 pages of medical records that Bush's aides received this week, but they allowed a small pool of reporters to peruse them for 20 minutes. [WhiteWash House flakmeister Dan] Bartlett said that was to maintain a zone of privacy that "has been traditionally afforded, even to the president."

All together now: Awwww!

A presidential zone of privacy... Come from the Republicans.... That is just so, so pitiful....

I mean, who gives a tinker's curse if Bush had hemorrhoid? I sure don't.

Band of Brothers 

Much has been made by about the deafening silence from Shirk's would-be contemporaries in the Guard who could attest to his attendance during his missing year. (The voluble Lt. Calhoun doesn't count until he gets his ever-shifting dates straightened out.) More remarkable, to me, is that Shirk himself can't seem to name a single friend from that period. If someone asked me to prove my whereabouts during any 9-month period of my life, I know I could name several, and I'm not even very sociable. Are we to believe that George W. "Nickname" Bush, the backslapping party animal of legend and song, the guy everyone (except me) wants to have a beer with, drilled with the Guard for months on end, yet didn't have a single enduring friendship to show for it? Not even a photo?

Why, that would be almost sad, if I thought for a minute he actually showed up.

More Halliburton follies 


Bunting was a field buyer who filled requisitions from Halliburton employees by locating vendors. The second ex-employee was a procurement supervisor who did similar work.

According to Waxman and Dingell, Bunting and the unidentified whistleblower contend:

-Top Halliburton officials frequently told employees that high prices charged by vendors were not a problem because the U.S. government would reimburse the costs and then pay the company an additional fee.

-Higher than necessary prices were paid for ordinary vehicles, leased for $7,500 a month, and for furniture and cellular telephone service.

-Halliburton tried to keep as many purchase orders as possible below $2,500 so its buyers could avoid the requirement to solicit quotes from more than one vendor.

-Supervisers provided buyers with a list of preferred Kuwaiti vendors, including companies that charged excessive prices. Buyers were not encouraged to identify alternative vendors.

Sounds like kickback territory to me ....

CBS doesn't cave this time 


CBS has stopped running the Bush administration's publicly funded ad for the new Medicare prescription drug law, pending a review of its content by congressional investigators.

The 30-second ad, titled "Same Medicare. More Benefits" ...

Two lies, and not even a complete sentence!

has prompted strong criticism from Democratic lawmakers and a range of interest groups who say it is a barely disguised commercial for President Bush's re-election campaign.

A media firm with ties to Bush's re-election effort, National Media Inc. of Alexandria, Va., also is working on the Medicare campaign.


How Do You Bitch-Slap A Bit...Uh, Ann Coulter 

I'd intended to do some posting on how the right is handling the Kerry "rumors," and Bush's National Guard "problems," and I'll be back to do so, but this caught my eye.

Tired of gnashing you teeth at another Coulter outrage? Tired of talking back to your computer screen?

Someone's got a plan, an excellent adventure of a plan.

This, via the irrepressible Scoobic Davis, who pointed me to "George W. Bush, Will You Please Go Now, a blog new to me, where "Doug" is the guy with the plan.

Quick backgrounder: Ann Coulter has taken upon herself to savage Max Cleland, a man who is minus three limbs, which he lost in wartime. TBoggs has also been on the case. Coulter claims that Cleland's injuries occurred not in combat, and that he was injured when he picked up his own grenade. This time, the claim is not merely bogus because she's left something out, or mis-read meanings, or selectively quoted. This time she seems to have just made up a lie.

Doug, for whom Ann Coulter is something of an on-going project, has the actual story of what happened to Max Cleland, via email, and The Hammster, by someone who seems to know what he's talking about.

The difference between Cleland's actual experience and Coulter's lies is beyond grotesque.

What to do, what to do

The gist of the plan is to get serious about lodging protests with the media outlets that do business with Ms. Coulter. Doug calls it "Operation F$#! You, Ann Coulter".

He's gathered all the infomation you need to contact multiple media outlets where Coulter does business. He also suggests exactly the right tone the letters should have.

We're going to send letters, e-mails, whatever we can to the media outlets and other companies that allow Ann to spew her hateful, dishonest crap about people like Cleland. Basically, the point of these correspondences should be this: This woman ridiculed not just a brave man but the sacrifice he made in Vietnam, and your company's stature is lowered simply by doing any business with her. If you consciously decide to maintain that association even after knowing what she did, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Some right-winger may try to spin this as a free-speech issue, which is baloney; Coulter does indeed have a first-amendment right to unload whatever garbage she wants, but we also have a right to disagree with it, and to express that disagreement with the people who enable her.

1. First, send a hand-written letter to the following address:

Random House, Inc.
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Remind them of Ann's lies about Max Cleland "dropping a grenade on himself," express your displeasure, and inform them that you won't be purchasing any more Random House-published books until she's no longer on their list of authors.

And, if you're so inclined, send one to Ann herself.

Ann Coulter
c/o Crown Forum Publicity
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

2. Next contact Premiere Speakers, the group that sets up Ann's speaking engagements. Remind them, too, of Ann's dishonesty and disrespect, and point out how ironic it is that they have numerous soldiers and former POWs on their speakers list alongside Ann Coulter, someone who appears to be all too willing to ridicule and disparage their sacrifices.

Go ahead and send it to every single person who works there, just to be a nuisance. (If that "mailto:" link doesn't work for you, I'll throw the full list of addresses in the comments section below in just a second.)

3. E-mail her Webmaster (tom@anncoulter.org), the editors at Front Page Magazine (jglazov@rogers.com, ben@cspc.org) and Human Events (editors@humaneventsonline.com), and Crown Forum (crownpublicity@randomhouse.com) just for good measure. Also use Town Hall's e-mail submission form at www.townhall.com/about/contact.html. Concede that you have no problem with any political disagreements they might have with Sen. Cleland, but add that if they're willing to let Ann Coulter ridicule and spread lies about Cleland's war injury, not only should their journalistic integrity be called into question, but so should their respect for America's military.

4. If you run across a Coulter column in any newspaper or magazine you happen to pick up, write or e-mail them about Coulter's comments concerning Sen. Cleland, and inform them that you won't be purchasing or reading any future issues until you receive assurance that Coulter won't be published there again.

Be sure to go and read Doug's ground rules. They're exactly right. I would only amend one of his suggestions; perhaps asking for her to be forever blackballed will come too close to making the protest into a first amendment issue. At the least, though, these media outlets, and her publisher, owe Max Cleland an apology, as well as their viewers, readers, and they should be alert that she not be allowed to repeat this blatant lie unchallenged.

I would also add to the above, sending copies of your letters to Scarborough Country (joe@msnbc) and to Chris Matthews, (hardball@msnbc).

Also, let us know in comments if you do take pen in hand, or send an email; we'd like to measure, even crudely, what kind of response has been generated, don't worry if it takes you a while to get going, come back anyway and let us know you did something: let's see if we can raise the profile of this particular Coulter attack, and at the very least, make a lot of people who keep looking the other way, terribly uncomfortable.

Also, check out Scoobie on some good news about the state of Alan Colmes's spine, and take a look at all the stuff Doug has up at George Must Go; it's awfully good.

Scalia: Aux duck pits, citoyens! 

The LA Times editorializes thus:

The judges had finished their discussion, and the subject turned to an upcoming meeting.

"We could have Justice Scalia speak on ethics," one judge volunteered to an outburst of laughter.

Another judge, chatting with friends at a social gathering, mused: "I know a defense lawyer who'd love to take me to a Lakers game. If it's OK for Justice Scalia, maybe it's OK for me too."

Antonin Scalia has become an embarrassment and the butt of circulating jokes for many state and federal judges, men and women who put on black robes every morning and do their best to decide cases fairly and impartially.

The angry refusal by a justice on the nation's highest court to step aside in the pending case involving his longtime friend and hunting buddy, Dick Cheney, could raise unwarranted questions about the ethics of every judge.

To recap, Scalia and the vice president spent a few days together last month shooting ducks. Cheney invited Scalia as his guest; the justice flew to Louisiana in Cheney's government jet, and they spent time alone in the rushes. The jaunt came shortly after the court agreed to hear Cheney's appeal of a lower court order that he turn over records of the closed task force meetings he held with executives of the oil, coal, gas and nuclear companies. Those 2001 meetings produced the president's national energy policy, one heavily festooned with tax breaks and subsidies for these same industries.

Federal rules instruct a judge to disqualify himself "in any proceeding in which his impartiality might be questioned." States have similar rules. In California, the Commission on Judicial Performance can sanction or remove a judge who violates these ethical canons. But there is no such check on the behavior of Supreme Court justices, no matter how blatant the conflict of interest.

Scalia insists that neither his long friendship with Cheney nor the freebie shooting trip will bias his decision in the pending secret-records case, and he dismisses any suggestion that he recuse himself. You don't have to know field game to smell a rotten odor here.

Yet as criticism has mounted, Scalia has only become more insolent. Speaking at Amherst College in Massachusetts on Tuesday night, he again defended his participation in Cheney's case. As a parting shot, Scalia announced: "That's all I'm going to say for now. Quack. Quack."

Some could say the same about conflict of interest. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, indeed … Quack. Quack.

And it gets more interesting. The last case Scalia participated in that determined the fate of our government was Bush v. Gore. The current case is just as important, since it looks like the Energy Task Force records will show the real reasons Bush went to war: for oil (evidence; summary). Saddam and democracy really were just convenient fictions. (In other words, as so often with Bush, the cynics were right.)

This case is about the geo-political strategy of our country for decades to come.

That sounds like the kind of information an informed citizenry should have during an election, doesn't it? And Scalia wants to help Cheney keep us in the dark.

Will the fate of our country again be decided by Republican partisans on the Court?

Say, if there's no Constitutional right to privacy, why use "privacy" as the reason to black out Bush's records? 

Just asking....

Bush getting blotchy again 

And no wonder.

But hey, at least he's got all his teeth! (back)

Bush AWOL: The people speak 

Yesterday (back) WaPo's Froomkin called for people's views on the question of whether Bush fulfilled his Guard duties. He posts 100 responses today, callling the emotions "raw."

Yeah, I get raw when I'm lied to....

Here's are some good ones:

As a lesbian former Army officer who served in Kuwait for 6 months in 1992 as part of Operation Southern Watch, I find it unbelievable that my family and I are about to be written out of the U.S. Constitution via a "federal marriage amendment" by a man who couldn't be bothered to show up for National Guard service.

Yes, you may use my name.

Lara Ballard, Washington, D.C.

Re: Dental Records

Thank heavens he didn't have a colonoscopy!

Jim Nash, Webster Groves, Missouri

From my own undistinguished military stint I learned the applicable term is "goldbrick". Originally meaning an ordinary brick painted gold to look like an ingot, "goldbrick" came to mean "counterfeit" or "fake" in general. In the military a goldbrick was originally a civilian commissioned as an officer, but with no real experience or abilities, a worthless individual dressed up as a soldier. By the time I served (the same era as the President), "goldbrick" meant "shirker", a soldier who schemed to avoid real work, especially by finding easy and worthless tasks to occupy himself while the real work was performed by others. The easy job itself was also referred to as a "goldbrick".

I can't recall any specific term for a soldier who shirked a goldbrick assignment.

Paul Brown, Denver, Colorado

Bush does not remember the names of any fellow officers in his Alabama Guard unit- 1972--1973. How can this be? The answer is "He wasn't there." It is clear to me that Bush did not report for duty to the Alabama Guard unit.

Fifty years ago-- 1952 and 1953, I served in the Army as a 1st LT. I have no problem recalling the names of the officers I served with both stateside and overseas. In fact, I can close my eyes and see their faces in my minds eye.

If at the age of 75 I can muster up names of men I served with, surely the our young COMMANDER IN CHIEF can do likewise. His statement, "I don't recall their names," just doesn't cut it.

Everett Semands, Tomball, TX

Isn't "trolling for garbage" beginning to sound a lot like "third rate burglary"????

Joe Stewart, Albuquerque, NM

John Allen Muhammad -- yes, the sniper -- received an honorable discharge from the Louisiana National Guard, despite having spent time in the brig after a court martial conviction for going AWOL and striking an officer.

J. R. Taylor, Washington DC

Conservatives have always exalted character over intellect in their leaders. If the commander-in-chief, the "war president", has a dubious record in the National Guard based on indifference to those duties than it is fair game. I don't know how one builds character when one's lifetime experiences stem from preferential treatment.

Dean Schleicher, Owings, MD

We do, Dean... We do...

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Bush AWOL: Froomkin at WaPo wants to know what you think 

[T]he issue may become less whether Bush technically did or did not fulfill the requirements of Guard duty. We know he received an honorable discharge. The issue may become less whether Bush acted honorably during that time than whether he is dealing with it honorably now.

Perhaps that's why, for three days now, one of the "most e-mailed" articles on washingtonpost.com has been an op-ed by Richard Cohen [back], in which he describes his own experience avoiding the draft by joining the Guard, dropping from sight and getting an honorable discharge.

"When Bush attempts to drape the flag of today's Guard over the one he was in so long ago, when he warns his critics to remember that 'there are a lot of really fine people who have served in the National Guard and who are serving in the National Guard today in Iraq,' then he is doing now what he was doing then: hiding behind the ones who were really doing the fighting. It's about time he grew up."

So is that going to be the central issue? Where do you think this is going? Send me your thoughts at froomkin@washingtonpost.com. Please include your name and hometown, and an acknowledgement that I can print your responses.

Flood the zone, people!

For those who came in late:

Pass the popcorn!

Bush AWOL: He showed up to get his teeth fixed, just not to do any flying 

On the one hand, the WhiteWash House releases Bush's dental records from Bush's (alleged) time in Alabama in the Guard (back).

On the other, via Atrios in the Memphis Flyer, two Guardsmen in Bush's unit were on the lookout for him because they wanted to party with him—and he never showed up.

Recalls Memphian Mintz, now 63: “I remember that I heard someone was coming to drill with us from Texas. And it was implied that it was somebody with political influence. I was a young bachelor then. I was looking for somebody to prowl around with.” But, says Mintz, that “somebody” -- better known to the world now as the president of the United States -- never showed up at Dannelly in 1972. Nor in 1973, nor at any time that Mintz, a FedEx pilot now and an Eastern Airlines pilot then, when he was a reserve first lieutenant at Dannelly, can remember.

“And I was looking for him,” repeated Mintz.

So what's the bottom line, here? Bush shows up to get some dental work done, on the taxpayer's nickel, and then blew off his Guard duty?

I just don't understand it. The Bush Team is famously competent and disciplined, and they just can't bring themselves to clear this all up by releasing Bush's complete records. And then when Bush goes on MTP and says he's "absolutely" going to, first McClellan and then Bartlett start frantically back-pedalling. I wonder why?

Bush AWOL: Out of an inch-thick stack of records, the WhiteWash House releases Bush's dental records 

I missed this one this morning, but it's too good not to post. AP

The White House obtained the dental record, along with other medical records it did not release, from the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, spokesman Scott McClellan said.

The inch-tall stack of medical documents has been the subject of debate within the White House, where staff members have pored over the records while wrestling with how much to release to the public — and which contents inside the file would clear up lingering questions.

Well, gosh. How hard can this question be? I'd say, why not release it all, and let the public sort it all out? Since we paid for the records anyhow with our taxes?

Of course, the really interesting medical record is the one that never existed—Remember, Bush was grounded because he blew off a medical exam that would have required a drug test....

9/11 families: Reaching the breaking point with Kean's "no smoking gun" remark? 

Once again, the regional papers cover the story where Isvestia on the Hudson and Pravda on the Potomac do not. Bob Braun of the Newark Star-Ledger reports:

The head of the national 9/11 commission yesterday came under tough, often emotional questioning from families of the terror victims concerned the panel has too little time to finish its investigation and is prejudging its conclusions.

The family members met for three hours with the commission's chairman, Thomas Kean, a day after the panel compromised with the White House over access to classified Oval Office intelligence documents.

Members of the Family Steering Committee monitoring the commission's work said they were upset that the panel did not get full access to important documents, and angry over a published comment by Kean that the White House intelligence material contained "no smoking guns."

Emerging from their closed-door meeting with Kean, which was punctuated by shouts and table-pounding, family members expressed unhappiness that Kean appeared to have been pre-empting the investigation.

"I don't know how he can say that before more public hearings are held and top administration officials are questioned under oath," said Mindy Kleinberg of East Brunswick, a 9/11 widow. She called Kean's ["smoking gun"] published remark "very offensive" and added he had "prejudged the work of the commission.

Prejudged the work of the commission?! You mean, exactly like McCain did for the WhiteWash Commission on intelligence? I'm starting to sense a pattern here ...

The families also made a forceful case for Congress to grant the commission a lengthy extension beyond its May 27 deadline.

The commission and the White House have signed off on a two-month extension until July 27, but the family members want the investigation to proceed until January 2005. Some leaders in Congress, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), are opposed to any extension.

Patty Casazza of Colts Neck, whose husband died in the attacks, said the panel should put aside political considerations and press Congress to approve as much time as needed.

"I hope that the commission would stand with the families on the side of what is right and ethical as opposed to caving in to the political pandering in Washington," said Casazza. "I feel their decisions are being influenced by what they think they will be able to get out of Washington."

Kristen Breitweiser of Middletown said the family members reached no agreement with Kean, and maintained her organization would ask Congress to establish "another commission" if the Kean panel failed to seek the "time it needs."

"It needs the time to interview witnesses, to hold public hearings with high-level administration officials, and to issue subpoenas and go to court, if necessary," said Breitweiser, whose husband died in the World Trade Center attack.

The meeting was scheduled to last two hours but ran much longer. Through the door, the relatives could clearly be heard shouting at Kean. "Who is hiding what?" said one participant. "You've got the power, why don't you use it," said another.

No, 9/11 families—you have the power! And don't take it out on Kean—he's just the punching bag. That's what he's there for.

That drip-drip-dripping sound is starting to get awfully steady...

Wingers leaving the sinking ship 

Arnaud de Borchgrave opines in the Moonie Times:

The world is not a more peaceful place than it was before the occupation of Iraq.

Just like Howard Dean said....

The Bush Doctrine of pre-emption is now badly frayed at the seams. Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom have stretched deployable U.S. forces, including the guards and reserves, to the point where another pre-emption campaign would break the system — and bring back the draft.

A steady stream of would-be jihadis, or Islamist holy warriors, is making its way into Iraq across the unmarked, mostly desert, borders of Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Iraq's nonexistent WMDs were never a threat to anyone. But they have already struck a devastating blow to the credibility of the Bush White House. The Doctrine of pre-emption becomes inoperable without unimpeachable intelligence accepted by all as the coin of the realm.

Say, isn't de Borchgrave a French name?

Bush's teeth 


Too much information!

And, sadly, too little.

I just can't understand why Bush just doesn't release all the records. That would settle this controversy immediately. Wouldn't it?

Unbelievable. Wingers want to politicize executive hiring 

There's a word for this: It's totalitarian. (We won't use the "F" word, but feel free to think it.)

WaPo here:

Republican activists ...were angry that the tax and financial services preparation company had recently hired Nicholas J. Spaeth, a Democrat, as the company's senior vice president and chief legal officer. Spaeth, based at the company's headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., is responsible for overseeing "the functions of the company's business units" as well as its government relations activities.

Republicans feel very strongly about this type of thing. They've organized the "K Street Project," an effort to identify the partisan ties of lobbyists so the White House and others will know who's a loyal Republican and who's not.

"[H&R Block] runs a Democratic shop. They're insulting to Republicans. They don't understand Republicans," said Grover Norquist, one of the forces behind the K Street Project.

Either that, or they understand Republicans entirely too well.

Linda McDougall, vice president for corporate communications at H&R Block, said Spaeth's politics, whatever they might be, had nothing to do with his appointment or with his work.

"We looked at skills in doing the job, not in the points of view," she said.

She noted that the company's political action committee contributions for the 2001-2002 campaign cycle and for 2003 were split 50-50 between Republican and Democratic candidates. She also said Sarah Wilson, a legislative assistant in the Washington office, worked for then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

The company's even-handed PAC contributions did not impress Norquist.

"That is so 1984. So they have no interest in legislation in this town?" Norquist said. "That is so lazy."

Thanks, Grover, for making it crystal clear that under the Republican yoke, everything is pay to play. You'll never drown the baby in the bathtub that way!

Oh the snark has pretty teeth dear 

and he keeps them pearly white (washed) ....

Seriously, though, the WhiteWash house releases a copy of a dental exam? What's up with that? Why the heck don't they just release everything, fer cyrin' out loud? Wouldn't that be the simplest way to deal with all these questions?

But let's look on the bright side: If the WhiteWash house is willing to release dental records, that means there's no proof that Bush ever bit anybody— or if he did, he didn't leave marks.

Say, is anyone who ever told Bush "Bite me!" ready to step forward?

Bush AWOL: Calpundit interviews Burkett 

Here. A sample:
[BURKETT]: And on top of that pile of paper, approximately five-eighths of an inch thick, and Jim wanted me to estimate the number of pages and I said probably between 20 and 40 pages of documents that were clearly originals and photocopies. And it wasn't any big deal, I looked at it, it was a glance situation, and it made no sense to me at all except at the top of that top page was Bush, George W., 1LT.

And I look back at it now and I know I was troubled that those documents were in the trashcan
. I did ruffle through the top six to eight pages.

Hmmm.... Trashcan George! I rather like the sound of that....
Hmmmm ...

Bush AWOL: meme keeps going more and more mainstream.... 

USA Today jumps in:

Two forms in Bush's publicly released military files — his enlistment application and a background check — contain blacked-out entries in response to questions about arrests or convictions. Bush acknowledged in biographies published in 1999 that he was arrested twice before he enlisted in the Air National Guard: once for stealing a wreath and another time for rowdiness at a Yale-Princeton football game.

The nature of what was blacked out in Bush's records is important because certain legal problems, such as drug or alcohol violations, could have been a basis for denying an applicant entry into the Guard or pilot training. Admission to the Guard and to pilot school was highly competitive at that time, the height of the Vietnam War.

The National Guard cited privacy as the reason for blacking out answers. The full, unmarked records have never been released. Bartlett did not respond Wednesday to a request to release the records with nothing blacked out, which Bush could do as the subject of the records.

And it is all so very, very simple! All Bush has to do, to resolve all these questions, is to release his complete records—including the now blacked out parts.

Why won't he?

It really is a question of character, isn't it?

I like the idea of this USA Today story appearing onteh front page of a newspaper that goes in front of the doors of hundreds of thousands of hotel rooms in America... And of business people reading it as they perform their morning ablutions....


Izvestia on the Hudson gets letters:

To the Editor:

Re "The Home Team," by Thomas L. Friedman (column, Feb. 8):

Thank you, Mr. Friedman, for acknowledging the burden shouldered by our honorable men and women in uniform. As the daughter of a brave military man who served two tours in Vietnam, I have learned to be skeptical of wars justified by a theory espoused by men who have never seen or smelled or felt the terror of war.

Usually, behind the theory, there is the starker reality of geopolitics. In the case of Iraq, the Bush administration decided that it had the opportunity to secure, for current and future generations, the oil supply of the Middle East, use the threat of weapons of mass destruction as a ruse and throw in the democratization of Iraq to make it all seem noble.

Can we please stop pretending and have an open and honest discussion of what is really going on?

Kerrville, Tex., Feb. 8, 2004

Interesting that the convergence of the Iraqi war, the "war on terra", and energy policy seems to have happened in Cheney's energy task force (back)—and that "Fat Tony" Scalia may cast the tie-breaking vote on whether to reveal the papers or not. And that Scalia refused to recuse himself, after his infamous duck hunting trip with Cheney (back).

Bush AWOL: Witness: Guard records in trash basket 

Under the innocuous headline "Move to Screen Bush File in 90's Is Reported", and on page A33, Ralph Blumenthal reports:

A retired lieutenant colonel in the Texas National Guard complained to a member of the Texas Senate in 1998 that aides to Gov. George W. Bush improperly screened Mr. Bush's National Guard files in a search for information that could embarrass the governor in future elections.

The retired officer, Bill Burkett, said in the letter to Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, a Democrat from Austin, that Dan Bartlett, then a senior aide to Governor Bush and now White House communications director, and Gen. Daniel James, then the head of the Texas National Guard, reviewed the file to "make sure nothing will embarrass the governor during his re-election campaign."

A copy of the letter was provided to The New York Times ...

Mr. Bartlett denied on Wednesday that any records were altered. General James, since named head of the Air National Guard by President Bush ....

Can you say, "payoff"?

... also denied Mr. Burkett's account. But Mr. Bartlett and another former official in Mr. Bush's administration in Texas, Joe Allbaugh, acknowledged speaking to National Guard officials about the files as Mr. Bush was preparing to seek re-election as governor.

[Bartlett and Albaugh] said their goal was to ensure that the records would be helpful to journalists who inquired about Mr. Bush's military experience.

Right. And we all know how much the Bush administration likes to do that!

In telephone interviews this week from his home near Abilene, Mr. Burkett, 55, a systems analyst with 27 years in the National Guard including service as deputy commandant of the New Mexico Military Academy, said he happened to be in General James' office at Camp Mabry in Austin in mid-1997 and overheard Mr. Allbaugh on a speakerphone telling General James that Mr. Bartlett and Karen P. Hughes, another aide to Governor Bush, would be coming to the Guard offices to review Mr. Bush's military files.

Ms. Hughes, who left the White House in 2002, did not return a call. [James and Bartlett issue strong denials].

Mr. Burkett further said that about 10 days later he and another officer walked into the Camp Mabry military museum and saw the head of the museum, Gen. John Scribner, going through Mr. Bush's personnel records. Mr. Burkett said he saw a trash basket with discarded papers bearing Mr. Bush's name. Mr. Burkett said the papers appeared to be "retirement point certificates, pay documents, that sort of thing."

General Scribner dismissed the account. "It never happened as far as I know," he said. "Why would I be going into records?"

Gee, I don't know...

Mr. Burkett is quoted at length in a book to come out by the end of the month, "Bush's War for Re-election" by James Moore, a former Texas television reporter and co-author of "Bush's Brain."

The other Guard officer who Mr. Burkett says was with him the day he saw General Scribner going though the records, George Conn, declined in an e-mail message to comment on Mr. Burkett's statements. But Mr. Conn, a former chief warrant officer for the Texas Guard and now a civilian on duty with American forces in Europe, said: "I know LTC Bill Burkett and served with him several years ago in the Texas Army National Guard. I believe him to be honest and forthright. He `calls things like he sees them.' "

A retired officer, Lt. Col. Dennis Adams, said Mr. Burkett told him of the incidents shortly after they happened.

Now, the story also gives plenty of reason to believe that Burkett is, shall we say, "disgruntled." However, since he told Adams about this at the time, there's some reason to believe that his story is true.

Of course, all this can be solved very simply: If Bush directs that all his military records be released, they could be examined for gaps.

But he won't do that. Why?


Well, maybe all that's happening with outsourcing knowledge work is that "Maybe we will outsource a few radiologists", as Bush's CEA chairman, Gregory Mankiw says. And that's "A Good Thing," as Martha would say.

But I can't help thinking this view could be just a little disingenous: the rich pull up the ladder after themselves, and then tell us to take a hit for the team. Why should we?

And after we've outsourced knowdedge—well, what's left?

And, oh yeah, why don't we outsource the CEOs, too? Seriously, why would that be hard?

"The Texas Souffle" flys with the "Blue Hair Platoon" 

Bush and the Blount campaign party trail - 1972

Now I get it! Now I know what they were laughing about HERE

First, briefly, from President Smoothie 2002: (bold emphasis in transcript is mine.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Please, be seated. It's a long speech. (Laughter.)

Thanks so much for coming. I don't know whether you know this or not, but in 1972, I helped organize Red Blount's campaign for the United States Senate right here in the state of Alabama. Because of me and Jimmy Allison, he managed to get 32 percent of the vote. (Laughter.) But I learned then and there how great the people are of the state of Alabama. I've got fond affection of those times. I count many of you as my friends, and I want to thank you for coming today to help the next governor of the state of Alabama, Bob Riley. (Applause.) ~ For Immediate Release | Office of the Press Secretary | July 15, 2002 |
White House.gov LINK

Second. A little background on Jimmy Allison excerpted from an article (cited below) on Bush's time spent with the Blount campaign in Alabama in 1972.

Just prior to the day on May 15 when Alabama Governor and presidential candidate George Wallace took a bullet in a Maryland parking lot — a shock but a political relief for President Richard Nixon and Democratic candidate George McGovern in a race for the White House themselves — Bush was recruited for the Blount campaign by another Texan and Bush family friend named Jimmy Allison.

In several documented accounts, Allison is described as the original Republican political pro who may have inspired Lee Atwater, Ronald Reagan's gung-ho political director, and Karl Rove, who is credited with orchestrating Bush's successful run for the White House in 2000. Atwater and Rove are reported to have taken a drive together across the South in 1972 campaigning for Rove's bid to lead the College Republicans, so it is safe to say they cut their political teeth that year as well as Bush.

Third Additional note on James Allison Jr.: From American Dynasty by Kevin Phillips. Phillips writes:

In 1972, he [George W. Bush] attached himself to another family friend, former Republican deputy national chairman James Allison Jr., in another losing effort-the Alabama U.S. Senate campaign of former postmaster general Winton M. Blount. Twenty-six years old in mid-1972, George W. was stumbling, falling far behind in his effort to walk in his father's footsteps. American Dynasty page 45

And now, for further flashback moments - GW Bush and the Blount campaign, circa 1972. Here we go, excerpts follow. (I haven't even finished reading this one myself but I will as soon as I stop laughing.)

Privileged Son George W. Bush's Lost Year in 1972 Alabama - By Glynn Wilson, Feb 11, 2004, 09:59

Those who encountered Bush in Alabama remember him as an affable social drinker who acted younger than his 26 years. Referred to as George Bush, Jr. by newspapers in those days, sources say he also tended to show up late every day, around noon or one, at Blount's campaign headquarters in Montgomery. They say Bush would prop his cowboy boots on a desk and brag about how much he drank the night before.

They also remember Bush's stories about how the New Haven, Connecticut police always let him go, after he told them his name, when they stopped him "all the time" for driving drunk as a student at Yale in the late 1960s. Bush told this story to others working in the campaign "what seemed like a hundred times," says Red Blount's nephew C. Murphy Archibald, now an attorney in Charlotte, N.C., who also worked on the Blount campaign and said he had "vivid memories" of that time.

"He would laugh uproariously as though there was something funny about this. To me, that was pretty memorable, because here he is, a number of years out of college, talking about this to people he doesn't know," Archibald said. "He just struck me as a guy who really had an idea of himself as very much a child of privilege, that he wasn't operating by the same rules."

During this period Bush often socialized with the young ladies of Huntington College, located in the Old Cloverdale historic neighborhood where he stayed. Bush even dated Nixon's daughter Tricia in the early 1970s, according to newspaper accounts. Bush was described as "young and personable" by the Montgomery Independent society columnist, and seen dancing at the Whitley Hotel on election night November 7 with "the blonde, pretty Emily Marks."

During the 2000 campaign, the Boston Globe named Marks as one of Bush's former girlfriends. But she and several other women who dated him during that time refused to say anything bad on the record about Bush, now a sitting president.

Many of those who came into close contact with Bush say he liked to drink beer and Jim Beam whiskey, and to eat fist-fulls of peanuts, and Executive burgers, at the Cloverdale Grill. They also say he liked to sneak out back for a joint of marijuana or into the head for a line of cocaine. ...


Winton Bount's [sic] son Tom, an accomplished architect who designed the Shakespeare Festival Theater in Montgomery, remembers well his encounter with Bush. He recently co-produced and underwrote a telling movie called The Trip, set in the period from 1973 to the early 1980s, about a young gay Texan and his conservative Republican lover. The son known as "Tommy" said he ended up in the same car with Bush, with Bush driving, on election night.

"He was an attractive person, kind of a 'frat boy,'" Blount said. "I didn't like him."

He remembers thinking to himself, "This guy thinks he is such a cuntsman, God's gift to women," he said. "He was all duded up in his cowboy boots. It was sort of annoying seeing all these people who thought they were hot shit just because they were from Texas."

Bush also made an impression on the "Blue-Haired Platoon," a group of older Republican Women working for Blount. Behind his back they called him "the Texas soufflé," Archibald said, because he was "all puffed up and full of hot air."

Archibald was recruited by Blount's Washington staff for his administrative skills after returning home from a tour of duty as a lieutenant in Vietnam.

There's a whole lot more. continue reading

And some people want to allow this same smirking pampered elitist hypocrite to diddle with the U.S. Constitution? What will we tell the children!

Character matters. Or, if it's a booby yer looking for....


Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Straight from MiniTrue: "President Bush, Strong leadership in times of change" 

That's aWol's new campaign slogan. But I'm not quite sure they have it right, and maybe it can be improved upon!

Misleadership, at times deranged ...

Wrong feeble slips, with lies that change ...

His Weaselship, home on the range ...

Well, fun stuff, but it's late. Readers, can you do better?

Did Bush's MTP appearance sound canned to you? Well, it was 

And then the Bush campaign wanted to use the footage in its ads! WaPo:

President Bush used a campaign video to unveil a new reelection slogan yesterday, "Strong Leadership in Times of Change," but the debut was short-lived because of a dispute over some of the footage.

The Bush-Cheney campaign yanked the video, titled "Responsibility," ...

Words fail me. Where to begin?

... from its Web site after about five hours in response to objections from NBC News about the use of a clip from the president's appearance broadcast Sunday on "Meet the Press."

The footage came from a long answer that Bush delivered near the end of the interview. The moderator, Tim Russert, asked whether it was "worth the loss of 530 American lives and 3,000 injuries and woundings simply to remove Saddam Hussein."

Bush started to answer, Russert interrupted, and the president said, "Let me finish." Then Bush delivered an answer that included what became a campaign promotion -- a 100-word passage that used "responsibility" six times as he talked about freeing "people from the clutches of barbaric people such as Saddam Hussein," fighting AIDS and feeding the hungry.

"We have a responsibility," Bush said. "To me, that is history's call to America. I accept the call and will continue to lead in that direction."

The 30-second video was made by Maverick Media, founded by Bush media consultant Mark McKinnon. At 4 p.m., the campaign sent the Web link to its database of 6 million e-mail addresses. ...

Momentarily bringing the net to its knees

... That did not sit well with NBC News, which asked the campaign to cease and desist. "This promotional video is set to music, edited for impact, and mixed with other images, graphics and footage unrelated to the interview," the network said in a statement. "NBC News did not, and does not, authorize this misuse of our copyrighted material. As a news interview program, 'Meet the Press' takes very seriously the unauthorized use of its content for partisan political purposes."

Little George has such a sense of entitlement....

Campaign officials said the wording "President Bush. Strong Leadership in Times of Change," shown on the screen at the end, will show up elsewhere soon.

I can't wait. Say, I wonder if anyone has gotten a copy of the video, and hacked it?

WhiteWash House stiffs 9/11 commission 

Dan Eggen of WaPo writes:

The independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks backed away yesterday from a threatened legal showdown with the White House, agreeing to accept a 17-page summary of the presidential briefing documents it had sought.

The deal will not allow the full 10-member commission to read the original documents or to have access to notes on the documents taken by some of the commission's own members. The summary -- provided to commission members during a closed-door meeting yesterday -- covered several dozen original intelligence documents and was first vetted by the White House, officials said.

The limitations prompted at least three Democratic members of the bipartisan panel to vote in favor of issuing a subpoena to the White House for the documents, known as the President's Daily Brief (PDB).

But the move was rebuffed by Republicans on the commission, and at least one Democrat abstained, according to several commission members.

"You either say you didn't have warning prior to 9/11 and you let us see the documents, or you shouldn't claim that," said Democratic commission member Timothy J. Roemer, a former House member from Indiana. "To say there's nothing in the PDBs that gave the president warning and then put together an agreement that only allows one or two commissioners to see the PDBs is not defensible."

The agreement also angered families of Sept. 11 victims, who have criticized the panel for not being more aggressive in its frequent battles with the Bush administration.

What I want to know is how long the families will put up with this nonsense.

In GeorgeLand, "all" and "absolutely" mean "some" and "not really" 


But [Press Secretary Scott "Sucker MC" McClellan] bristled when asked whether Bush would release medical and disciplinary records of his service for the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, as some critics have urged.

Yep. They're already worried about the story behind the story. We think we know why Bush was grounded: he missed a medical exam at which a drug test would have been required. Of course, there may be no story here. One good way to lay that story to rest would be for the WhiteWash House to release "absolutely" all of Bush's guard records, instead of letting them out in dribs and drabs. At least they could try a "modified limited hangout"! But no-o-o-o!

"I think what you are seeing is gutter politics. Some are simply trolling for trash for political gain," McClellan said.

Well, the Republicans should know. In any case, Kerry is remaining well above the fray, as befits a Presidential candidate. Pass the popcorn!

Clark fades away 


But he won't be forgotten—without the Clark campaign, Michael Moore wouldn't have been able to transmit the "deserter" meme into the mainstream. A tip of the ol' Corrente hat to General Clark!

Horse gone, Bush to close barn door 


President Bush intends to lay out a broad strategy today to stop the spread of nuclear weapons by cracking down on a burgeoning black market

Too little, too late. He didn't fund the program to buy up loose Russian nukes and fund their scientists (so they didn't go sell their services on the black market), he didn't secure Iraq's loose nuclear materials in the general post-war clusterfuck, and his friends, the Pakistanis are playing both ends against the middle as hard and fast as they can.

Meanwhile, Bush has no credibility with anyone because of his clumsy lying on WMDs.

Tell me again why Bush and the Republicans are so good on anyone's security except their own? I keep forgetting.

UPDATE Yikes!!! Thanks to alert reader SNR

A pan-Arab newspaper said Sunday that the al Qaeda organization led by Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) bought tactical nuclear weapons from Ukraine in 1998 and is storing them in safe places for possible use.

There was no independent corroboration of the report, which appeared in the newspaper al-Hayat under an Islamabad dateline and cited sources close to al Qaeda, which the United States blames for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Interesting, if true, and if true, God help us all.

Bush AWOL: Take the Guard's money and run? 

Glob's Robinson still at work here:

[Press Secretary Scott "Sucker MC"] McClellan said that, as far as the White House is concerned, the issue is settled. ''These documents outline the days on which [Bush] was paid. That means he served."

No, it doesn't. No no no no no.

We know this because WaPo columnist Cohen (back) got paid, and did not serve.

Come to think of it, getting paid and not doing anything is the essence of a George Bush, isn't it? At Harken, for example....

Bush spotted in Montgomery during his missing year 

Dan Froomkin of the Post reports that the Moonie Times has found a kinda sorta witness:

urther confirmation was supplied yesterday by a woman who dated the young George W. Bush in 1972 who says she distinctly remembers the young pilot visiting Montgomery that year to fulfill his Air National Guard commitment.

Emily Marks Curtis told The Times that she and Mr. Bush met in the summer of 1972 when he went to Montgomery from Texas to work in the U.S. Senate campaign of Winton Blount, a Bush family friend. She said the two became good friends.

After that election, she said, Mr. Bush returned to Texas. A few weeks later, he telephoned to say he was returning to Montgomery to complete drilling days at an Alabama squadron to which he had been transferred that year.

The problem here is that all this is still based on Bush's word. Nobody in the Guard has come forward to say they served with Bush, and the paperwork doesn't support his claims.

And it's not entirely unlikely that the Blount campaign and the charms of Ms. Curtis herself were sufficient to bring Bush to Montgomery, and that Bush somehow managed to leave the impression he was doing his duty. I mean, he's dating Ms. Curtis, and what is he going to say? "I blew off my guard duty?"

And what about the story behind the story? Why Bush was grounded for missing his medical exam? The medical exam that would have involved a drug test?

Report from Bush's MoonDoggle Commission? 120 days. Report from the WhiteWash Commission? Take your time! 


American taxpayers must be consulted - and politics sidelined - if astronauts are to travel to the moon, Mars and beyond, [Moondoggle chair "Pete" ] Aldridge had said in an interview before Wednesday's hearing in Washington.

"We will only make a dent in this program in the next four years, so we've got to take the political aspect out," said Aldridge, a retired Defense Department official. "It cannot be sustainable if you make it political."

Ha ha.

I love the spectacle of Bush eating ribs, consulting with ordinary citizens.... What a farce.

Aux duck pits, citoyens! 

Nice lead from AP's Gina Holland here:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia strongly indicated he will ignore calls to recuse himself from a court case involving his friend and hunting partner, Vice President Dick Cheney.

Cheney wants to keep private the details of closed-door White House strategy sessions that produced the administration's energy policy. The administration is fighting a lawsuit brought by watchdog and environmental groups that contend that industry executives helped shape the administration's energy policy.

And now we know why Cheney is fighting so hard (back).

Bush starts parsing his words: "absolutely" doesn't mean "absolutely" any more 

Funny, for a guy with such an absolutist mind-set.


Bush said in a television interview over the weekend that he and would be willing to open up his entire military file, would "absolutely" be willing to authorize the release of anything that would settle the controversy over his service in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan appeared to step back from that pledge, telling reporters: "If there is new information that comes to our attention we will let you know - if it's relevant to this issue."

Move along, people! Move along! There's no story here. And it gets better:

While Kerry, who earned three Purple Hearts, surrounds himself with fellow veterans on the campaign trail, the White House has not been able to produce fellow guardsmen who could attest to Bush's attendance at meetings and drills. "Obviously we would have made people available" if they had been found, McClellan said.

What, Bush didn't have any buddies?

Guess what? The Iraq war was for oil 

And guess what? Cheney's energy task force—you remember, the one whose deliberations Cheney has gone to court to keep secret—was the driving force.

Jane Mayer in the New Yorker reports:

Additional evidence that Cheney played an early planning role is contained in a previously undisclosed National Security Council document, dated February 3, 2001. The top-secret document, written by a high-level N.S.C. official, concerned Cheney’s newly formed Energy Task Force. It directed the N.S.C. staff to coöperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the “melding” of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy: “the review of operational policies towards rogue states,” such as Iraq, and “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.”

A source who worked at the N.S.C. at the time doubted that there were links between Cheney’s Energy Task Force and the overthrow of Saddam. But Mark Medish, who served as senior director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs at the N.S.C. during the Clinton Administration, told me that he regards the document as potentially “huge.” He said, “People think Cheney’s Energy Task Force has been secretive about domestic issues,” referring to the fact that the Vice-President has been unwilling to reveal information about private task-force meetings that took place in 2001, when information was being gathered to help develop President Bush’s energy policy. “But if this little group was discussing geostrategic plans for oil, it puts the issue of war in the context of the captains of the oil industry sitting down with Cheney and laying grand, global plans.”

Well, well, well.

So this is what our troops are dying for. What a waste. No matter how hard we try to be cynical with these guys, it's just never, ever enough.

I wonder if Cheney will give up and reveal all the Task Force documents now? Or will he continue to try to keep them secret?

The poodle is leaving the sinking ship 


Prime Minister Tony Blair refused on Wednesday to be drawn out on his preference - President Bush or Democrat front-runner John Kerry - in the U.S. presidential race.


"I knew Ronald Reagan, and George, you're no Ronald Reagan." 

Conservative Lawrence Kolb opines in the LA Times:

If Reagan could deal with Lebanon and Iran-Contra within a few months, surely Bush could have done the same with Iraq [in terms of setting up a commission, issuing a report, and acting on it]. By choosing not to do so, Bush has shown himself unworthy to claim the Reagan mantle.

The most unkindest cut of all....

Bush decides he's going to play dirty 


President Bush plans to endorse a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman in response to a Massachusetts court decision requiring legal recognition of gay marriages in that state, key advisers said yesterday.

As we know, the Bushes all turn vicious when cornered. That Bush is turning vicious this early in the campaign is good news, not bad news.

The winger kulturkampf continues.... I suppose the next step will be for winger commentators to start saying, "Well we would never support violence against anyone. But it's entirely udnerstandable yadda yadda yadda...."

What the...? 

"...Members of the Senate in USA
offered a crown to True Parents."

John Gorenfeld has more. Check the post's top link for photos of the True Parents posing with some glittery True boodle. And...."At around 10:30 p.m. for the final program of the day, True Father gave the prizes for the winners of the Yut game."

I'm almost afraid to ask what the "Yut game" is, but I like to imaging that it involves Orrin Hatch sitting on the floor in his special underwear spinning a bottle or trading Salt lake City for 25 vestal brides and a Rolls Royce dealership in Connecticut.

Here ya go:
UPI chief's claim: U.S. Senators coronated Rev. Moon


Its All in the Pay Off 

From the White House dot Gov. archives - June 2001 | George W. Bush:

[bold emphasis mine.]

I want to thank -- I don't know if Red Blount is here or not, but I spent a little time in Alabama in 1972 working for Red Blount's senatorial campaign. It's a pretty good lesson of Alabama politics. But I've made a lot of friends in this state from those days, friends that I'll never forget. And I thank you for your friendship and I thank you for giving me a pretty good lesson on southern politics. It paid off in the year 2000. (Laughter and applause.) ~ Remarks by the President at Senate Dinner for Senator Jeff Sessions Jefferson Convention Complex Birmingham, Alabama, June 2001

The first thing that struck me after reading this was what's so funny? Why the "(laughter and applause)". What are they laughing about? Ya know, you can almost relive the snickers and smirks and heh, heh, heh's, even now, but why? Whats the joke? I don't get it. Was it the "lesson in southern politics" crack? Was it the "spent a little time in Alabama" mention? Was it the "friends in this state from those days" wink-wink that set 'em into a-yuckin' it up and applauding? What the hell is so funny!

Yeah, well, I guess ya had to be there. In any case, apparently, none of them unforgettable "friends" noted above happened to be attending drills with the 187th Tac Recon Group in Alabama in the autumn of 1972. At least none that can remember Mr. Smoothie Junior joining them in any such drills. And apparently Mr. Smoothie 43 hisself cain't quite recall any such friends either. Well shucks. Why you'd think an amiable friendly cut-up feller like GW could at least cack up a couple of chummy buddy photos of himself and a buddy pardner mugging for the camera or posed for a snapshot flexing in their underwear or holding up a cheesecake pin-up of Miss Alabama 1972, or something buddylike like that.

Guess not. On the other hand, the Blount campaign was apparently something of an unforgettable learning experience chock full of new buddies. At least when it came to "southern politics". Whatever that means. Which appears to have "paid off" nicely judging from the "laughter and applause."

Just for the heck of it, here are a few buddy snapshots, in a manner of speaking, from 1972:

1- Red Blount, was a former memebr of Richard Nixon's cabinet.
2- On Oct. 10, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward reveal in the Washington Post the efforts of the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) to wage a dirty tricks campaign against the Democratic Party and McGovern campaign. As in: "to crush its political opponents and illegally hide its acts."
3- On Oct. 26, Henry Kissinger announces that "peace is at hand" in Vietnam.
4- On Nov. 7th Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew are reelected by 61% of the voters.
5- Dec 18. Nixon orders the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong in order to appease South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu.
6- Red Blount lost his Senate race.
7- Freita Fuller was Miss Alabama 1972.


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Plame Affair: The quiet storm (2) 

FUX (unbelievably) lets the cat out of the bag:

[Senior Democrats on the House Judiciary and Government Reform] said most staffers have refused on the advice of counsel to sign Justice Department waivers aimed at releasing journalists from promises to protect confidential sources.

Well, well. And I thought that Bush had instructed his people to be helpful. On September 30, 2003 at the University of Chicago:

[BUSH]: If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business. (as quoted by Josh Marshall)

So, one really easy way for administration officials to be "helpful" would be to release Novak (under the law, a "journalist") from his pledge of confidentiality to his sources, so he can reveal the name of the possible felon and "senior administration official" who outed Valerie Plame.

Simple, no? Well, apparently either: (a) Bush was lying on September 30, and told the public one thing, and his staff another (always a possibility), or (b) his staff has decided that, at this point, it's everyone for him- or herself, and those who know the truth have been holding onto the only bit of leverage they have. If the latter, we should start to see the rats leaving the sinking ship quite soon.

Nice to see aWol with not just one, but both nuts in the wringer:

First, the left one: The Plame affair. Not so good for the WhiteWash House to be harboring a felon who revealed the name of an intelligence operative. If you want to run for election as a "wartime President, anyhow. Ouch!

Now, the right one: Those pesky military records... I mean, you shouldn't really be AWOL, claim not to be, send honorable men and women to their deaths, and then run for election on the basis of your strength of character in wartime. And then there's the follow-on about, um, events during the "missing year" ... Ouch!

Yep, those nuts are "poppin' fresh!" Butter?

Plame Affair: The quiet storm (1) 

What we all hope is the unravelling of the Bush regime has produced such a target rich environment, such an embarrassment de riches, that I almost missed the latest developments in The Plame Afffair. Of course, the news is buried in the back pages of Izvestia on the Hudson, since, after all, it's about a potential felony in the WhiteWash House, committed for revenge, not anything of national importance, like a blow-job.... But I digress (or do I?). Some actual reporting by David Johnston here:

In addition to the grand jury appearances, which are believed to include other Bush administration officials [besides Scott "Sucker MC" McClellan and press aide Adam Levine], prosecutors have conducted meetings with presidential aides that lawyers in the case described as tense and sometimes combative.

Armed with handwritten White House notes, detailed cellphone logs and copies of e-mail messages between White House aides and reporters, prosecutors have demanded explanations of conversations between aides and reporters for some of the country's largest news organizations that under ordinary circumstances would never be publicly discussed. So far, no reporter has been questioned or subpoenaed.

One set of documents that prosecutors repeatedly referred to in their meetings with White House aides are extensive notes compiled by I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and national security adviser. Prosecutors have described the notes as "copious," the lawyers said. In addition, the prosecutors have asked about cellphone calls made last July to and from Catherine J. Martin, a press secretary for Mr. Cheney.

According to AP here, others interviewed include:

Mary Matalin, a Republican consultant who headed Vice President Dick Cheney's communications office until December, confirmed that she testified on Jan. 21.

A number of other current or former officials have been interviewed by the FBI, including President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove; communications chief Dan Bartlett; former spokesman Ari Fleischer; Cheney chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby; and Cheney spokeswoman Cathie Martin, said two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

And from the Independent here:

It is believed that the FBI officers have also interviewed John Hannah, another aide to Mr Cheney, and may be offering an incentive to him to reveal what he knows about other officials. Some reports have suggested that Mr Libby could be charged.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA operative and a long-time friend of Ms Plame, said he had been told that a number of other advisers to the White House were also at the centre of the FBI inquiry. "This is really beginning to heat up," he said.

I couldn't imagine a nicer bunch of people to get together to play Prisoner's Dilemma...

Drip, drip, drip... That's the sound of butter dripping from my popcorn!

UPDATE For those who came in late, CNN reviews the bidding in The Plame Affair.

Say, doesn't it make sense to make sure that a "wartime President" served in the military when he says that he did? 

Especially when he's got no buddies to back up his story?

The inevitability of Kerry 

I have to say I wish Kerry had been tested as Dean has been. I feel a bit cornered now—as if I've had a card forced on me. Somehow, it doesn't feel exactly like a free choice.

Yellowcake forgeries moving to the front burner 

Buried in a WaPo story about The Plame Affair we find this from Mike Allen and Steno Sue:

A parallel FBI investigation into the apparent forgery of documents suggesting that Iraq attempted to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger is "at a critical stage," according to a senior law enforcement official who declined to elaborate. That probe, conducted by FBI counterintelligence agents, was launched last spring after U.N. officials pronounced the documents crude forgeries.

Who were the crude forgers?

Not that it matters—the real question is, how could the WhiteWash House fall for it?

Can bloggers flood the zone on the Bush AWOL story? 

Kevin Drum needs an Alabama reader to do some research. Help him out!

Do I have any readers in Alabama who are willing to head to the library and spend a few hours reading through microfilms of local papers to see if they can find any mention of Bush that weekend? The newspaper dates to look for are October 29 and 30, 1972, and the most likely cities are Montgomery and (I assume) Birmingham.

The question is this: are there any news reports indicating that Bush was actually working on Blount's campaign on those days rather than attending drills? If anybody finds anything, let me know.

Extra points if anyone finds a photograph.

Billmon has more.

Where was George during his "missing year"? Nobody seems willing or able to say ...

The fallout from WMD lies continues 

Our guy (say, he is our guy, right?) Musharraf shows everybody how it's going to be done:

President Pervez Musharraf acknowledged for the first time on Monday that he had suspected for at least three years that Pakistan's top nuclear scientist was sharing nuclear technology with other countries, but argued that the United States had not given him convincing proof.

And, since the whole world knows that Bush flat-out lied (latest on cherry-picking) on Iraqi WMDs—and plenty of people pointed out at the time that his lies weren't "convincing"—who's going to tell Musharraf he's not right?

"Sure, honey, I lied to you then. But I've changed! I'm not lying now!"

They never change....

An unscientific poll at Business Week 

Do you agree or disagree with the Bush Administration's prediction that 2.6 million new jobs will be created this year?

The answers are now running:

Agree: 11.9%
Disagree: 82.7%
Not sure: 5.4%

Torture ... , uh, we don't want any calls from the Secret Service, do we? What I mean to say is Express your concerns!

Bush regime caught red-handed cherrypicking on WMDs 

Again, the regional papers print what Pravda on the Potomac and Izvestia don't. In our own (Knight-Ridder) Inky, Jonathan S. Landay reports:

The public version of the U.S. intelligence community's key prewar assessment of Iraq's illicit arms programs was stripped of dissenting opinions, warnings of insufficient information, and doubts about Saddam Hussein's intentions, a review of the document and its once-classified version shows.

As a result, the public was given a far more definitive assessment of Iraq's plans and capabilities than President Bush and other U.S. decision-makers received from their intelligence agencies.


The stark differences between the public version and the then top-secret version of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate raise new questions about the accuracy of the public case made for a war that has claimed the lives of more than 500 U.S. service members and thousands of Iraqis.

The two documents are replete with differences. For example, the public version declared that most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program" and says "if left unchecked, it probably will have "a nuclear weapon within this decade."

Now turn the record over and hear the other side:

It fails to mention the dissenting view offered in the top-secret version by the State Department's intelligence arm, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, known as the INR.

That view said, in part: "The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons. Iraq may be doing so, but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment."

Read the the whole thing, which gives many more examples.

Is Cherrypicking by the WhiteWash House on the agenda of Bush's hand-picked WhiteWash Commission? No? Why would that be?

Where Does George W. Bush Really Live? 

According to Aussie blogger extraordinaire, Tim Dunlop of The Road To Surfdom, he lives in "Georgeland, it's like America, only nicer."

Working off the Russert interview, Tim helps us understand why so much just criticism of Bush has such difficulty in gaining traction, despite the increasingly well-documented record of his monumental incompetence. We critics live "in country," so to speak, while he lives...somewhere else entirely. Noting the President's inability to answer the actual questions being asked of him by Russert, Tim comments:

He didn't so much answer questions as paint a picture of a place called Georgeland, a special place where he lives and the rules are different and in which everything he does is noble, well-meaning and justified. Anyone who dares question the rules and practices of Georgeland is simply practicing something he called "politics". "Politics" is something they have heard about in Georgeland but don't themselves countenance. It is something they find distasteful to contemplate, like some strange African mating ritual that you might see on the Discovery Channel, or maybe like gay marriage. In Georgeland, they just want the rest of us to stop bothering them and let them get on with making the rest of the world as nice as it is in Georgeland.

Don't miss this "view" from Georgeland.

Snarkiness aside, doesn't that explain so much?

I'd like to nominate "Georgeland" for addition to the Lexicon Of Liberal Invective, though, in truth, it's almost purely descriptive. Tell us what you think.

Speaking of traction, Tim's keeping a list. What a good idea.

UPDATE Alert reader MJS has written another set of lyrics for us:

(with regrets to Paul Simon)

The Texas skyline was burning
Out in the National Guard
I am flying down a highway
Driving a fast car
Off to 'Bama to help some bastard

I'm living in Georgeland
My country tis a thee
I'm living in Georgeland
Politics and pundits, itinerary
We're all going to Georgeland
Riding with me is a day called Nine One-One
My protector and provacateur
It sure indemnifies me
I am the Boss of History
In Georgeland

(lyrics cut short for reasons of space)

When are you going to send us an MP3, MJS?

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