Saturday, August 28, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Once again, Lucullus dines with Lucullus at Pasion... There are some things to be said for Philly—besides the fact that there's slack here, and a top-notch blogging commmunity—and fine food is one of those things. Mmmmm .....

Foolish to the point of ruination, I know, but since Bush hasn't protected the ports, there could be a loose nuke with a timer on it in a shipping container in the Port of Philadelphia right now...

So eat, drink, and be merry! What does "opportunity cost" or the Protestant work ethic mean in times like these?

Oh, and The world's shortest blog. Thanks to Mithras. Cute! We can add it to Twenty Questions for Inerrant Boy.

And I almost forgot. Xan's been getting whatever the MS-dumbed-down version of 404 is whenever she tries to post ("Blogger flu"). And stats is down again—with no notice on status (not that this comes as any surprise). Wouldn't it be great if blogger didn't suck?

Bush to Manhattan air-breathers: Drop dead! [encore presentation] 

Just a plea to New Yorkers to show the Republicans every hospitality, since anything else would look bad on TV... And to remember that the Republicans also poisoned you for political gain.

This isn't the normal Bush approach to air pollution: it's far worse. Marc Kaufman of WaPo writes of how White House operatives suppressed the news that the air in Manhattan might be dangerous after the WTC towers fell:

In the report, the EPA inspector general said the agency was persuaded by the White House to omit cautionary language about the possible hazards from air pollutants such as asbestos, cadmium and lead after the World Trade Center towers fell. In addition, the report said the EPA omitted from early public statements guidance for the professional cleaning of indoor spaces, leading some people to return to their homes before they had been properly cleaned.

When the towers fell, their collapse created a large cloud of soot and debris that hung over Lower Manhattan for days. Emergency and construction workers spent weeks at the center of the destruction, and few wore respirators to protect themselves from the bad air.

Critics point to a statement by then-EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman on Sept. 18, 2001, that the air was safe for people to return to Lower Manhattan.

"For the EPA to have provided anything but their best professional advice . . . is inexcusable; for the White House to have edited out that advice -- including information regarding the heightened risks that the air pollution might pose for young children -- is nothing but malfeasance, " the Clinton-Lieberman letter said.

"Someone in the White House consciously told people it was safe to go back to their homes [in Lower Manhattan] when they knew they didn't have the information to support that conclusion," Nadler said. "That's a reckless disregard for human life, and it has to be addressed."

I like the wording "the agency was persuaded by the White House." What, Unka Karl threatened to leave a horse's head in Christie Whitman's bed? And a great SCLM-style headline, too: "Details on 9/11 Air Quality Questioned." Right.

YABL, YABL, YABL. Bush lies—children die. Standard operating procedure for the malAdministration.

[From the Bedrock Archive vault deep beneath The Mighty Corrente Building, 2003-08-26. And they think we don't keep track or remember...]

Republican looting: First the Iraqi soccer team, then the Olympics, now Johnny Cash 

I'd never been a Johnny Cash fan, and did I miss a lot. I first really heard him when I heard him sing, of all things, "You are my sunshine"—the wasted croak of a dying man. I'm not ashamed to say that I got teary—and went out and bought Live at Folsom Prison.

To hear Johnny Cash talk and play and talk to those men—"If the guards are still talking to me, can I get a glass of water?"—pure authenticity.

I wonder how Johnny "San Quentin, I hate every inch of you" Cash would have reacted to the tales of torture at Abu Ghraib prison? I'll tell you: like a man would, not like Bush did. No wonder Bush wants to loot some of that authenticity for himself ("borrow'd robes").

And there's something so right, so gloriously right, that as the shameless opportunists at the RNC try to turn Johnny Cash into a shill for the right... they're co-sponsored by the American Gas Association.


UPDATE From the farmer in comments:

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times…
-Johnny Cash, "Man In Black"

Cash certainly didn't dress in black for the pigs in clover who are about to brave Manhattan only so they can whore and shill for Bush by looting the memory of 9/11.

The Smear Continues: Another SwiftVet Surfaces 

This is the first in an erratic series of post on the "Swiftboat Vets We Smear In The Name Of Truth" phenomenon. Some of it I wrote last night, when I was feeling fairly despairing that there was any way to really counter it. I don't feel that way now, as subsequent posts will suggest. In part, I feel better because I spent the night rading "Cruel And Unusual" Mark Crispin Miller's new book. I hadn't intended to read all of it, only to begin it; I couldn't put it down, it's that kind of book. Of all the excellent and many books I've read in regard to Bush & Co, this one strikes me as the most important, or perhaps most central would be a better image. It's a barn burner. It builds on some of his observations of Bush in the Dyslexicon, but this one goes so much further. It is hands down the best analysis of the Bush/Rove propoganda/slime machine, and its Republican antecedents, and what it is doing to our democratic republic. Nothing good.

The book is not going to get good reviews. It is far too hard on the press for that. And Miller dares to talk about the ways in which we are becoming more like societies that eventually became....well, think non-four letter "f" word. We need to make this a best seller. Truly. More to come.

This post is about the first Purple Heart. That myterious fourth man the Swift Vets keep claiming was on that skimmer in December of 1968 somewhere in the Mekong Delata, has emerged to tell Robert Novak that it's all true. And he's a Retired Rear Admiral. Could it be that John Kerry has finally been nailed? Because if he lied about this.....

Retired Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr. said Thursday in his first on-the-record interview about the swift boat veterans dispute that "I was absolutely in the skimmer" in the early morning on Dec. 2, 1968, when Lt. (j.g.) John Kerry was involved in an incident that led to his first Purple Heart.

"Kerry nicked himself with a M-79 [grenade launcher]," Schachte said in a telephone interview from his home in Charleston, S.C. He said, "Kerry requested a Purple Heart."

At the time of the incident, it should be pointed out, Schachte wasn't an admiral, he was, like Kerry, lieutenant junior grade. However, he claims that he was in command of the boat, and that this particular type of mission was his idea, and thus his baliwick.

Kerry supporters said no critics of the Democratic presidential nominee ever were aboard a boat with him in combat. Washington lawyer Lanny Davis has contended that Schachte was not aboard the Boston whaler and says the statement that Schachte was aboard in Unfit for Command undermines that critical book's credibility.

Schachte until now has refused to speak out publicly on this question and agreed to give only two interviews. One was a television interview with Lisa Meyers of NBC News, for broadcast Thursday night. The second was a print interview with me, for publication today.

Schachte described the use of the skimmer operating very close to shore as a technique that he personally designed to flush enemy forces on the banks of the Mekong River so that the larger swift boats could move in. Around 3 a.m. on Dec. 2, Schachte said, the skimmer -- code-named "Batman" -- fired a hand-held flare. He said that after Kerry's M-16 rifle jammed, the new officer picked up the M-79 and, "I heard a 'thunk.' There was no fire from the enemy," he said.

Patrick Runyon and William Zaladonis are the two enlisted men who said they were aboard the skimmer and did not know Schachte. However, two other former officers interviewed Thursday confirmed that Schachte was the originator of the technique and always was aboard the Boston whaler for these missions.

Grant Hibbard, who as a lieutenant commander was Schachte's superior officer, confirmed that Schachte always went on these skimmer missions and said, "I don't think he [Kerry] was alone" on his first assignment. Hibbard said he had told Kerry to "forget it" when he asked for a Purple Heart.

Ted Peck, another swift boat commander, said, "I remember Bill [Schachte] telling me it didn't happen" -- that is, Kerry getting an enemy-inflicted wound. He said it would be "impossible" for Kerry to have been in the skimmer without Schachte.

"I was astonished by Kerry's version" [in his book Tour of Duty] of what happened Dec. 2, Schachte said Thursday. When asked to support the Kerry critics in the swift boat controversy, Schachte said, "I didn't want to get involved." But he said he gradually began to change his mind when he saw his own involvement and credibility challenged, starting with Davis on CNN's "Crossfire" on Aug. 12.

The next time he saw Kerry after the first Purple Heart incident, Schachte said, was "about 20 years" later on the U.S. Senate subway in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. "I called, 'Hey, John.' He replied, 'Batman.' I was absolutely amazed by his memory." He said they "talked about having lunch" but never did it.

Schachte said he never has been contacted by or talked to anybody in the Bush-Cheney campaign or any Republican organization. He said he has been a political independent who votes for candidates of both parties.

The first point a fair minded audience member for these SwiftVets Follies ought to make is that Lanny Davis no doubt took the position he did because there is no official record that Schachte was on the boat, and the two enlisted men who've said they were with Kerry that night have also said they don't remember there being more than three people on the skimmer. It may well be that Schachte was on the boat, perhaps staying in the background, supervising the less experienced Lt. As Bob Sommerby would say, I don't know what the truth is, and neither does Bob Novak, and perhaps, even the three to four men who were there that night in Vietnam.

What Mr. Schacte's sudden appearance on the scene does illustrate superbly is how difficult it is to defend against a smear like Mr. ONeil & Co's. Not that I can't point out right away some curious aspects of Schacte's testimony as taken down by Kovak; to call it an "interview," I fear, could suggest Mr. Kovak is something of an embellisher himself.

Notice, for instance, that the right honorable Admiral is supposed to have spoken at the time with others, as per Mr. Peck, about the fact that John Kerry didn't receive a wound from enemy fire. Okay. But what was the context for that or any other such conversations? Was John Kerry going around telling everyone he'd been hit by enemy sharpnel? Or was the context his supposed attempt to ask for a Purple Heart, as per Grant Hibbard, who was the commander of both Kerry and Schachte? If so, how is it possible that Schachte, Peck, and Hibbard wouldn't have been aware the regulations for awarding of a Purple Heart at that time did not differentiate between enemy and friendly fire, and in fact, even "self-inflicted" wounds were elegible if they were received in the course of attempting to fire on the enemy. And commanders don't apply for a Purple Heart for their men; they forward any medical report that involves an injury that came from engagement in combat with the enemy.

Of course Schachte claims there was no enemy fire. And if there were not, then clearly it would not have been a wound involved in combat. But then why would Kerry have picked up a grenade launcher and attempt to fire it, and at whom?

Here's how Pat Runyon remembers how Kerry was wounded:

Runyon said Kerry was wounded after one vessel tried to avoid an inspection.

"Lt. Kerry said, 'I'm going to pop a flare, and when I do, I want that engine started,' " Runyon said. But the outboard would not crank. Meanwhile, the sampan's crew steered it to the riverbank, and people started running on the shore. Runyon said shooting broke out.

Somehow, Kerry's weapon stopped firing. Runyon thinks he ran out of ammunition. He said Kerry bent down to pick up another gun and got hit in the arm.

"It wasn't a serious wound," Runyon said, and Kerry was able to start shooting again. When the firefight was over, Runyon said Kerry told him all he felt was a "burning sensation."

Runyon said he remembers the incident clearly because it was the first time he had been in combat. "I hadn't seen any kind of action or anything," he said.

He said Kerry, Zaledonis and himself were the only men aboard. When he got the motor started, they took off. He said the outboard was in bad condition and did not have a handle to steer with. "I had to wrap my arms around it, like hugging it, to turn it," he recalled.

You don't have to look all that carefully at both men's narrative to realize that there is quite a bit of overlap. The retired rear admiral talks about a flare, and about Kerry's rifle jamming; interestingly, he doesn't offer any sort of narrative to make sense of the two events. What was the flare for? I've never held any sort of gun in my hand, but I assume the way one finds out one's rife has jammed is by attempting to use it. What was Kerry's target? A tranquil shoreline from which nothing had yet been flushed? Also, it isn't difficult to grasp that in a situation like that of the Swift Boats, where they were patrolling, or ferrying personnel and equipment, what constituted "combat," was up for definition. The fact is that despite a description which sounds like support of forward combat units, the Swift Boats saw dangerous combat action all the time.

And if Schachte had conversations at the time about Kerry's wrong version of that December night, why was the retired admiral so startled to read of Kerry's version of the incident as reconstructed by historian Brinkley in his book? Even so, Schachte claims that when first approached about joining the Swift Vets, he was reluctant to get involved. Not until that damn Lanny Davis started to appear on TV did he rouse himself to join the effort. Then, why, I wonder, is his version of what is wrong with Kerry's first Purple Heart in O'Neil's book, used as evidence that Kerry is a liar and got his medals falsely. Hadn't Schachte essentially "come forward" long before Lenny Davis took to the airways?

I'm not prepared to call a retired rear admiral a liar. On the other hand, the notion that I've already begun to see Novak pushing on CNN, that Schachte's version of events proves that the two enlisted men who support Kerry's version are liars, or that Kerry's first Purple Heart, is unearned are outrageous claims, that themselves rise to the level of a "lie," if for no other reason than the refusal of Kovak, like so many of the blogs and pundits who are determined to keep this smear alive, to confront the contrary evidence, of which there is plenty.

And keep it alive they intend to. While looking for that list of SwiftVet members, I noticed they are planning to have an anti-Kerry rally in Washington DC in September.

UPDATE: MSNBC showed Lisa Myers' interview with Schachte last night, on three of its evening programs. She did a fair job of presenting the contrary evidence, but in general, both on Hardball, and especially on Scarborough's outrageously unbalanced reportage, or whatever the hell Rich Kaplan thinks is going on during that hour of prime time, Kerry has taken a terrible beating.

No matter how many times Matthews is corrected by various of his guests he continues to insist that Kerry personally called his fellow vets war criminals who committed atrocities, and that in his testimony before Congress he was extremely angry and used harsh, extreme, leftist language. Who really thinks that Chris Matthews has ever sat down to watch the testimony, or read through it, other than to find phrases which he can tear out of context to support his a priori view. Perhaps we should be sympathetic, though. Apparently Chris's brother, who fought in "Nam," had a hard time when he got back, and the brother and his wife blame John Kerry for that. Of course, John Kerry had no problems upon his return; no terrible memories, no guilt about those left behind, no friends who didn't come back, and what could be more fun for a well-to-do, well-connected ambitious young man pay no attention to his own immediate career plans, and instead to hang out with other scruffy young vets with stories to tell and become part of a protest movement that even many of those who wanted us out of Vietnam resented. (Why do rightwingers always seem to think that grassroots organizing and being part of a protest movement is such fun? It has its moments, but there are always things you'd rather be doing. ) You might think that Chris Matthews, ever the savvy politico, would at least be able to see through the argument that Kerry's protest period was actually part of a opportunistic masterplan to jumpstart his own political career? No. On Thursdays program, I think, he mentioned that there was no downside for Kerry politically, not in a hard left state like Mass., one of only two that went to McGovern.

Nor, apparently, in Matthews view, before John Kerry told them in such harsh, leftist language, had the American public any prior notice everything going on in Vietnam might not be entirely copacetic - no Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire, no repression by the autocratic Diem regime, no assisnationn of Diem, no statement by JFK in regards to S. Vietnam, that the war couldn't be won " ...unless a greater effort is made by the Government to win popular support..." and that...." In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it.", no Madame Nu, no tiger cages, no Gulf of Tonkin incident that wasn't, no Tet offensive, no My Lai, no tiger cages, no Pentagon Papers, which showed, let's be clear about this, that what the CIA, based on intelligence gathered on the ground in Vietnam, was saying about the impossibility of winning that conflict, was pretty much what the war skeptics, in and out of government, had also been saying all along, what John Kerry would say in 1971, and what has been proved to be true about Vietnam, over and over again.

This is not to say that the North Vietnamese weren't communists, although there is some indication that had the western powers right after the end of World War 2 realized immediately that the age of colonialism was over, that even under Ho Chi Minh, some form of social democracy might have been possible, but that was not to be; nor is it to say that the North didn't betray its own supporters in the South when it united the country, nor that its own treatment of its own people was a human rights horror story, and continues to be problematic, to say the least. A powerful argument can be made, which you rarely hear these days, but which John Kerry was making in 1971, that our continuing presence in Vietnam only made it more likely that the eventual reunification of the country would be bloody and hellish. And God knows it was.

But when you hear someone like Ben Stein, as I did the other night, spinning the tale that the real tragedy of Nixon's resignation and the whole Watergate bruhaha was that it meant Nixon and Kissenger were unable to engage on behalf of the south when the North Vietnamese made their final move, and more tragic still, could not thereby stop the Cambodian genocide by the Khmer Rouge, run for the history books. You will find almost no evidence to back up this theory, unless in something published by Regenery. Kissinger knew perfectly well when he signed the Paris Accords that the north would soon force the south to reunite with it, and both Nixon and Henry knew that there was no way in hell, and both of them were well acquainted with the Satanic, the American people would support re-entrance into Vietnam. The Accords were nothing more nor less than our surrender, tarted up, like an old war whore, with a bit of makeup here and there, in a hopeless attempt to disguise the total wreck of our ambitions in southeast Asia. And don't get me started on Cambodia. Read William Shawcross's "Sideshow" if you haven't yet. And no one can accuse Shawcross of being hard left. After Vietnam got rid of the Khmer Rouge, Shawcross went back to Cambodia and reported, in a NYRB article, about the museum the Vietnamese had set up to display the history of the genocide, correctly slamming the new occupiers for their attempt to place the horrors of the Khmer Rouge in a Nazi, Fascist context, when they were clearly as pure an expression of communist/Leninist/Stalinist genocidal terror as one could ever expect to look upon. And, by the way, Shawcross was an angry, determined supporter of Blair and invading Iraq, though Shawcross' arguments were almost exclusively based on Saddam's human rights record. I only add this last point to remind us all that yes, political discourse cannot be accurately described by an inept verbal cartoonist like Chris Matthews.

For trying to say some of all that to the American people by testifying in front of the harsh, angry, hard left body, the Senate of the United States of America, John Kerry deserves to be lied about, he deserves to be called a liar, a fabulist, a coward, a phony, a fake; no one at the convention should have even mentioned Vietnam, now Democrats deserve everything they're getting in the way of in-coming. So says Chris Matthews, so says, and worse, the voices of Scarborough Country.

Are we really going to let them (the Republicans and the SCLB) get away with another Big Lie, another super smear, just like all the ones they launched against Clinton and then Gore?

UPDATE Alert reader Brian CB comments:

I sort of wondered why there would be two lieutenants on a 14-foot boat. Isn't one lieutenant enough?

Details, Brian, details!

Loose nukes: Bush still refuses to take the threat seriously 

We've often noted the malAdminsitration's fundamental unseriousness on the issue of loose nukes ("Reckless Indifference to the Nightmare Scenario").

Apparently, not even an election can change their attitude. (What's it going to take? No, please, don't answer that.)

Read the following, and weep:

MANGYSTAU, Kazakhstan (AP) - In a storage pool at a mothballed nuclear power plant on the shores of the Caspian Sea rests a key ingredient for anyone seeking to build a nuclear weapon: Containers of spent atomic fuel with enough plutonium to make dozens of bombs.

Despite international concern about the waste at the Mangyshlai nuclear power plant, plans to transport it away from the Caspian shore have stalled in a dispute between Kazakhstan and the United States over where and how it should be removed.

The fuel has been cooling for so long and was so lightly irradiated to begin with that it is no longer radioactive enough to be "self-protecting" against theft, according to the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, an anti-proliferation organization.

"Thieves could load it into a boat and take it away without necessarily receiving radiation doses that would immediately be incapacitating," the NTI wrote on its Web site.

The Kazakhs want U.S. help in a $40 million project to move the spent fuel to a safer site, but those efforts are deadlocked. The Kazakhs want to take the fuel to Semipalatinsk, the former nuclear weapons test site in eastern Kazakhstan.

But the United States wants it shipped to Russia, where other radioactive materials were sent.

The Kazakhs planned to build single-use casks to transport the waste and then store it in reinforced underground bunkers. But the United States persuaded them to use dual-use casks in which the fuel can be both transported and stored.

However, work on the dual-use casks is on hold, and the Kazakhs continue to work on single-use casks.

"No work is being done on the dual-use casks because no funding is coming from the United States. And we cannot understand why," said Irina Tajibayeva, executive director of the Kazakhstan government's Center for the Safety of Nuclear Technologies.

Given the security at the plant, any potential theft likely would have to be at least partly an inside job. Pugachev noted that employees' salaries are minuscule, and he said he makes 20 times less than a guard at a U.S. nuclear facility.

Pugachev also is well aware of the risks of loose nuclear materials, such as from a "dirty bomb" - a device that combines conventional explosives with radioactive material.

"I know how to do it," he said. (via AP)

You know, I read something like this, and words just fail me. It's like being clubbed over the head.

We can give away trillions to the rich in tax cuts, but we can't spend $40 million to make sure dozens of loose nukes never get built (any one of which could take out a city).

And if a loose nuke goes off, one obvious scenario is a military government. You'd think that Bush would be doing everything possible to prevent that. Why isn't he?

And if a loose nuke goes off, it's the loss of a major American city. Sure they vote Democratic, but it's all one America, right? So you'd expect Bush would be doing everything possible to protect all of us? Why isn't it he?

Bush AWOL: How Ben Barnes got Bush into the TANG "champagne unit" 

Finally we get at least a piece of the real story:

"I got a young man named George W. Bush into the National Guard [when I was House speaker] ... and I'm not necessarily proud of that," Barnes, an Austin lobbyist and John Kerry supporter with a lucrative Washington practice, said on the tape. "It was the worst thing I did, was help a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get into the National Guard. And I'm very sorry of that and I'm very ashamed, and I apologize to you as the voters of Texas."
(via our ownInky)

Well. There you go.

And I think it took real courage for Bush to go into the Guard because of his "family name of importance."

Especially considering what people would say about it later, comparing Bush to people who actually volunteered to go, and got wounded or killed, and all.

But that's Bush. 100% moral clarity. I mean, heck, God couldn't have called Him to become our Leader if He'd gone to Viet Nam and gotten killed, or something. Let's be reasonable!

Gaslight watch: Guess where the latest "terror" arrests are? 

Could it be? In New York? On the eve of the Republican Coronation Convention?

Bien sur!

This is so fucking transparent. As usual, you have to read to the bottom to get the killer detail:

Two men have been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to bomb a subway station in midtown Manhattan, sources said early Saturday.

At least one of the men may have an affiliation with a terrorist organization, according to two law enforcement sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The sources said the group in question was not believed to be al-Qaida.

Well, who were they? Winger militia? Christians?

The two men tried get explosives to bomb the station but did not succeed in obtaining any, the sources said. There was no timeline for the plot, which was first reported by WNBC early Saturday.
(via AP)

"No timeline," eh? So, um, why now?

Remind you of anything? Like the extremely non-political Orange Alert right after the Democratic Convention?

Is there a purity test for Republicans? 

After Rove's whole SBVF[cough]T thing, I'm starting to think that there should be. Readers?

NOTE Here's the WikiPedia definition of "purity test."

Election fraud 2004: No recount possible with electronic voting machines in CA 

Well! That should dispose of the recount problem, eh? And heck, they're computers! Running proprietary software, just like Windows! I mean, I've certainly never lost any data from my computer —and even if I had, I always keep backups.

[Pause for hysterical laughter.]

And it seems like our electronic voting system—despite the billions of dollars thrown at it, and despite the best efforts of all those Republican-donor electronic voting machine companies (back) are, from a systems, perspective, about as well put together as the network of the average home PC.

In other words, the vote in the 2004 election is irretrievably hosed. Aleady. Another Republican clusterfuck that will, somehow, mysteriously, end up paying off for Republicans. Just like the electronic voting machine clusterfuck in Alabama already did, when a "glitch" swung an election from a Democrat to a Republican (back).

Read the following. As always, it's the details that kill:

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP)A dispute over a razor-thin election [in Riverside County, CA] suggests that important electronic data might not exist, making accurate recounts impossible in many states.

Linda Soubirous, a candidate for the Riverside County board of supervisors, lost a chance to stage a runoff by fewer than 50 votes. When Soubirous asked to look at the computer disks and other electronic records kept during the election, county officials refused.

Undocumented software glitches, hackers, mechanical errors or deleted ballots in only a few counties could have huge implications in a presidential election likely to be a cliffhanger. More than 100,000 paperless terminals have been installed across the nation, particularly in California, Maryland, Georgia and the battleground states of Florida, New Mexico and Nevada.

Soubirous' case is prompting demands for more transparency into election software. Like other manufacturers, Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., (back) which sold $14 million in equipment to Riverside in 1999, uses proprietary software and operates with little federal oversight.

The case, scheduled to go before a judge in Indio, Calif., Sept. 8, comes less than two months after Florida elections officials revealed that audit logs from the contested 2002 gubernatorial primary were lost in computer crashes. Officials in Miami-Dade County said later that backup copies of the data were simply misplaced, but the mishap stoked suspicion coast to coast.

Right. This was the Florida, um, "mishap" when the data was, um, "found" with a rep from the voting machine vendor right in the room (back)

"Right now, there's basically no way to know how accurate an election was, and that's not good enough for a public office," said Jeremiah Akin, 29, a Riverside computer programmer. "We should all be very skeptical."

Soubirous' case hinges on vote tallies that began arriving in stacks of absentee ballots and computer memory cartridges in Riverside's central counting office the evening of March 2. Traditionally, the registrar publishes results on printouts and online, continuously updating them as new data arrive.

The moral: Absentee ballots may guarantee that your vote will be counted. But they in no way guarantee the integrity of the voting process, and that is what is at issue.

In the first printout, at 8:13 p.m., three-term incumbent Bob Buster had 47 percent of the vote - shy of the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

Updates from the Sequoia AVC Edge touchscreens then stalled for more than an hour. During that time, Soubirous supporter Art Cassel spotted two Sequoia employees typing on a county computer.

Leave the parties out of it. If, during a paper-based voting process, you saw anybody opening up the ballot box, would you be concerned? Of course you would. And computers should be different why?

When updates resumed about 9:15 p.m., Buster's lead had widened to 50.2 percent of the vote. After 49,196 votes were logged, Buster finished by 49 votes above 50 percent, narrowly avoiding a runoff.

Sequoia spokesman Alfie Charles said the Sequoia employees were given identification badges and access to the computers on Election Day simply to ensure that the vote tabulation proceeded smoothly. The original vote count was accurate, he said.

Right. And my confidence is in no way undermined when (a) the voting machine companies, and the companies that certify them, are heavy Republican contributors (back) or (b) hire felons who have been convicted of computer fraud (Diebold, back). Nope. Not in any way. Not at all.

Soubirous, a registered nurse, paid more than $1,600 for a recount - but says she didn't get her money's worth. A re-examination of paper absentee ballots found 276 more votes, narrowing the margin for avoiding a runoff to 36 votes. But most of the voting took place electronically, and Townsend reproduced only the vote total delivered by each machine.

Soubirous demanded to see audit logs, computer diskettes, internal memory cards, surveillance tapes from polling stations and other data Townsend touted as "checks and balances" that ensured the accuracy of paperless systems.

Attorneys representing Townsend responded that most of the items requested - including some electronic data from the voting machines and tabulation software - "do not exist" or "do not constitute 'relevant materials'" according to California election law.
The registrar handed over only paper provisional ballots and some absentee ballots and envelopes.

"I'm not saying we don't want to open the books, but I need to learn why that information was preserved in the past before I make a recommendation about how we move forward," Dunmore said.

The March election wasn't the first to raise concerns about vote fraud among county residents.

"We get more paperwork with a carryout order at McDonald's than when we go to the polls," said Weber, whose case was eventually dismissed.
(via AP)

So, let's assume that Bush wins with a razor thin majority.

Given the above, and given what we already know about Florida 2004, can someone give me a reason why we should regard the result as legitimate? Readers?

A Spy in the House of 'W'? 

Quick public service annoucement here:

The trained poodles at CNN (the media and propaganda arm of the American Enterprise Institute) have been blinking into the cameras this early summer morn (late summer eve on the west coast) expressing "shock and awe" over the latest allegations of a potential "mole" infestation of our collective national victory garden. MSGOP/General Electric, as I write this, has also dispatched the perennially clueless Alex Witt to babble frantically into the bright lights and express additional wide-eyed wonder upon being informed by someone or another (i forgot who it was offhand) that such suspicions of such suspicious derring-do on the part of yet unnamed derring-doosters has been suspected for months, if not years. Shazzbot! Say it ain't so gasps Alex! Apparently Witt doesn't - oh say - read The Nation magazine for instance. Like ya know.... if it ain't contained in a Video News Release from the Karen Ryan Group it ain't really worth her high profile media personality face time.

On we go. I don't want to get into any screed here, which is often my usual habit, because it's late and i'm too tired and because a good deal of this stuff now emerging with respect to various luminaries gnawing at the foundation of our national defense and foreign policy has been highlighted in great detail in the past. As a matter of fact it winds it's way back through old right wing catacombs including old Iran Contra backchannels and players.

So, that said - below are some names and places and old articles to read or refresh your memory with as they relate to this emerging "spy" scandal. Which, if you ask me, isn't so much a spy chase as it is a matter of flipping over a wet rock and subjecting a lot of creepy crawly things to the sunlight and fresh air. In any case i'm waiting patiently for Miles O'Brien to pop onto my TeeVee screen and inform me that official White House spokespersons close to "the president" have denied that "the president" had any prior knowldege of any previuous activiities or contacts involving Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Harold, Larry, Elliot,....blither blather - blither blather - and blah blah blah.... never heard of any of em. You know the drill.

Team GWB's Shadowy Groupies

Manucher Ghorbanifar - (a Newsweek item) Iranian arms dealer and one of Oliver North's go-to-guys with respect to the orchestration of the Iran Contra scam. And other stuff.

Michael Ledeen: Still Dreaming of Tehran - by Robert Dreyfuss & Laura Rozen (The Nation magazine March 25 2004) Michael Ledeen (American Enterprise Institute) - Chalabi boosteroo and also...
Leading the charge against Iran is AEI's Michael Ledeen, perhaps best known for setting in motion the US-Israeli arms deal with Iran in the mid-1980s that became known as Iran/contra.

Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin:
Rhode and Franklin were critical players in the campaign for war against Iraq. In 2002 they helped organize the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, the Iraq war-planning unit whose intelligence staffers are now under investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for allegedly manipulating evidence about Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorism. Both the OSP and the Rhode-Franklin effort on Iran were run out of the office of Douglas Feith, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and a key neocon ally. Their initiative on Iran reportedly drew a sharp protest from the State Department. Newsday quoted a US official who said that the entire effort was designed to "antagonize Iran so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden US policy against them." [Still Dreaming of Iran - Dreyfuss/Rozen - see The Nation link above]

more more more..... background info links.

Chalabi...: Also see: Tinker, Banker, NeoCon, Spy - By Robert Dreyfuss - American Prospect Issue Date: 11.18.02.

A whole rotten nest of creepy crawly things: Also see: The Lie Factory - Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest, Mother Jones 1.12.2004.

Also see: The Dreyfus Report Feith Based Intelligence April 28, 2004.

And this recent blog entry from War and Piece: August 27, 2004 The FBI investigation
For months, I have been working with my colleagues Paul Glastris and Josh Marshall on a story for the Washington Monthly about US policy towards Iran. In particular, it involves a particular series of meetings involving officials from the office of the undersecretary of defense for Policy Doug Feith and Iranian dissidents.

Just a few quick items there to browse with respect to topical background info and previous investigations on the part of actual real journalists. No doubt this story will become more interesting and complicated and strange as it rolls along. As if it hasn't been weird enough already.


He's Going For the Insanity Defense 

We'd better take a break from Cheney Love and devote today to Rumsfeld Love. Anybody with connections to the Kerry campaign, forward this with a suggestion that JFK call at once for Rummy's firing. We need this man to stay right where he hangs, an increasingly heavy albatross.

(via NYT)
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Thursday said there was no evidence that prisoners had been abused during interrogations, contradicting two major investigative reports issued this week.

..In an interview with a radio station in Phoenix, Mr. Rumsfeld, who was traveling outside Washington this week, said, "I have not seen anything thus far that says that the people abused were abused in the process of interrogating them or for interrogation purposes." A transcript of the interview was posted on the Pentagon's Web site on Friday. Mr. Rumsfeld repeated the assertion a few hours later at a news conference in Phoenix, adding that "all of the press, all of the television thus far that tried to link the abuse that took place to interrogation techniques in Iraq has not yet been demonstrated."

Mr. Rumsfeld also misstated an important finding of an independent panel he appointed and is led by James R. Schlesinger, a former defense secretary, saying in the interview with KTAR radio, "The interesting thing about the Schlesinger panel is their conclusion that, in fact, the abuses seem not to have anything to do with interrogation at all."

But the first paragraph of the Schlesinger panel report says, "We do know that some of the egregious abuses at Abu Ghraib which were not photographed did occur during interrogation sessions and that abuses during interrogation sessions occurred elsewhere."
If this is a variant on the Chewbacca Defense (non-South Park fans click over in the Lexicon on the right) it is too subtle for me to pick up. I think he's just losing it.

This of course all happened before CBS revealed (scroll down a post or two) that Rummy has had an Israeli spy in his office for some time now. Pat Buchanan hinted that this ties in somehow with the Plame investigation, so hang on to the "Roll the Scooter Out Of Here" posters, we may have to repaint them.

UPDATE: Dammit, Xan's Going With the "Sadly, No!" Defense!

My bad. It's "Sadly, No!" that has the Chewbacca Defense listed on the right column of their page, not this one.

Gerald (Whispering): Dammit. [...] He's using the Chewbacca defense. Johnny Cochrane: Why would a Wooky, an eight-foot-tall Wooky, want to live on Endor with a bunch of two-foot-tall Ewoks. That does not make sense. [...] It does not make sense. Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major record company and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca. Does that make sense? Ladies and Gentlemen I'm am not making any sense. None of this makes sense. And so you have to remember when you're in that jury room deliberating and conjugating the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No. Ladies and Gentlemen of this deposed jury it does not make sense. If Chewbacca lives on Endor you must acquit. The defense rests.
Esteemed commenter Bilge notes the second usage of the CD in the comments below; the quote above is the first one. For a fuller and deeper understanding of the profundity of the requirements involved in the deliberating and conjugating of the issue, we refer scholars to the transcript of the South Park in question, known as "Chef Aid".

Friday, August 27, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

And as I oil the squeaky hinges to the door of the cupboard under the stairs in The Mighty Corrente Building, there's a tune running through my head... What is it ... "Froomkin'... Froomkin'... Froomkin' the night a-w-a-y..."

Or wait. Is it "Leader of the Pack! Froom, Froom...."

The music's growing fainter...

But maybe that's a good thing. Musically, I'm talent-free. Maybe alert reader MJS could come up with an appropriate Song of Praise for the Man...

And I forgot: Ben Barnes speaks. Wonder if the SCLM will listen?

And What Tresy said. "Woe to you, Pharisees, hypocrites!"

Republicans stifle free speech in Wisconsin 

Well, well, well. A mini-Clear Channel in Central Wisconsin:

Anglers on their way into the north woods of Wisconsin this Labor Day weekend won't be seeing one important message: Mercury-with-fins could be tugging on the other end of their lines.

This month Environment 2004, a political group aimed at exposing the Bush administration's anti-environmental record, tried to place this advertisement on two billboards along a highway used by vacationers from Madison and Milwaukee. But the group found that Lamar Advertising of Central Wisconsin wasn't so keen on its message.

The ad, which reads "Mercury. It's what's for dinner. Served up by the Bush Administration," carries a photo of a rather sick looking white bass. "We believe the ad making Bush responsible for mercury poisoning is not appropriate for our market in central Wisconsin," an employee of Lamar wrote to Environment 2004 in an email rejecting the ad this earlier this week.
(via Salon)

Gee, I wonder if the employee got the OK from top management on that one? And isn't it the buyer supposed to be taking a risk in the market, not the seller?

I wonder which party Lamar Advertising contributes to? Why... The Republicans! Here, here, and here.

If you contact them, BE POLITE and uphold enlightenment values like "evidence" and "reasoning." It's OK to be a Republican. What's NOT OK is suppressing free speech.

Lamar Advertising of Central Wisconsin
9237 US Highway 10 East
Stevens Point, WI 54481

Will THIS Get the Neocons Out? 

We've been wondering for a long time now what it was going to take to get across to the American people just how bad the neocon cause was, and how deeply it was infecting the highest levels of the Bush administration.

This just might do it. I spent some time googling to try to narrow down who the "employee" might be (haven't found anything solid enough to print) but in the five minutes or so devoted to the task the number of articles on Google News which fit the search parameters went from 30 to about 150.

(via CBS News)
CBS News has learned that the FBI has a full-fledged espionage investigation under way and is about to -- in FBI terminology -- "roll up" someone agents believe has been spying not for an enemy, but for Israel from within the office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon.

60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl reports the FBI believes it has "solid" evidence that the suspected mole supplied Israel with classified materials that include secret White House policy deliberations on Iran.

At the heart of the investigation are two people who work at The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

The FBI investigation, headed up by Dave Szady, has involved wiretaps, undercover surveillance and photography that CBS News was told document the passing of classified information from the mole, to the men at AIPAC, and on to the Israelis.

CBS sources say that last year the suspected spy, described as a trusted analyst at the Pentagon, turned over a presidential directive on U.S. policy toward Iran while it was, "in the draft phase when U.S. policy-makers were still debating the policy."

This put the Israelis, according to one source, "inside the decision-making loop" so they could "try to influence the outcome."

The case raises another concern among investigators: Did Israel also use the analyst to try to influence U.S. policy on the war in Iraq?

With ties to top Pentagon officials Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, the analyst was assigned to a unit within the Defense Department tasked with helping develop the Pentagon's Iraq policy.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been made aware of the case. The government notified AIPAC today that it wants information about the two employees and their contacts with a person at the Pentagon.

Gaslight watch: Guess who's in danger now? 


I mean, is this transparent, or what? First, the SBVF[cough]T smear. And the smear works. After all, Rove is a pro's pro:

Before the convention, 30 percent of veterans said they approved of [Kerry's] postwar activities. Just after the convention, until Aug. 5, that jumped to 43 percent. In the latest survey, 40 percent said they still approve, compared with
(via WaPo)

Next, the extremely non-political counter-terror apparat says AQ is threatening veterans's hospitals.

That's giving 'em the ol' one, two! I guess Rove wants to knock Kerry's 40 all the way back to 30.

Please refer all comments containing the words "tinfoil hat" to The Department of "How Stupid Do They Think We Are?"

Rapture index closes up one on plagues 


People believe this stuff, you know.

And they're all going to vote for Bush, since He is a Godly Man.

Have you registered? Have you talked to an undecided voter? Have you changed the mind of a wise, discerning Republican? Will you vote?

Mush from The Wimp 

Anyone remember that one? Ah, those were the days that were.... Anyhow, more from the Sanger/Bumiller interview[1] with Bush:

BUSH:It's an upbeat speech that talks about the future. ... This report is a useful report, so that we can, in the future, do a better job of dealing with prison issues in regards to the military ... David, what I am now doing is leading us forward. ... We're dealing with it ... It's important for us to continue to lead coalitions that are firm and strong. ... I'm confident that over time this will work. I certainly hope it does.
(via the we're-really-more-than-stenographers New York Times)

Translation: Forget about the past, baby! I've changed!

I mean, when you can't run on your record, you'd better talk about the future, eh?

[1] Oddly, or not, the Times bills this as excerpts from an interview. What did they leave out? The part where the WhiteWash House butler comes in with the Xanax (back) on a silver tray? The part where Bush says Kerry is really the Anti-Christ? The part where Bush says he's doing his best to bring on the Rapture? The part where Bush starts sharing some details about... goats?

God and Monsters 

"But do we want a president who pretends that he can do no wrong and never has?"
(via Josh Marshall)

Is this a perfectly sensible observation about our actual President, who as we all know, was unwilling to name a single example when asked to identify mistakes he'd made? No, the target of this accusation is John Kerry, the quote but one item in a truly outstanding litany of what passes for "Christian thought" from Marvin Olasky, former Brezhnev stooge and now stooge for the ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15) who masquerade as moral and political leaders today. (Apparently the mistake of Vietnam, which Kerry, originally a supporter, fought to save other people from dying in, does not count.)

Bob Herbert writes today of the "politics of the madhouse", but I think that lets the inmates off too lightly. I thought I'd become inured to the hypocrisies of televangelists and their ilk, but the enthusiasm with which millions of their followers are prostituting every avowed principle in the pursuit of worldly power--"thou shalt not bear false witness" being the latest one thrown overboard--and their willingness to subscribe to a complete inversion of verifiable fact (Kerry as cowardly hypocrite; Bush as humble, truthful, decisive) raises disturbing questions about us and our future. Millions of people have not suddenly gone mad. They've done something more troubling. They have become unserious.

It's impossible to credit that any substantial number of voices now smearing John Kerry and covering for Bush truly believe what they are saying. The calculation behind the smears is too obvious; the naked cynicism of the accusations belies the idea of these beliefs having been come by honestly. But charlatans are nothing new; what is new is how readily their snake oil has been swallowed by the populace, and by none so enthusiastically as the Christians claiming to be our moral exemplars.

Christianity's central challenge to Man is the recognition of his unregenerate nature, that he is at root a creature of fear, selfishness and aggression towards others, with self-deception and hypocrisy lubricating all, consigning him, if not saved, to the certainty of suffering. Leaving aside its prescription, I happen to think its diagnosis not wildly off the mark. The truth about ourselves is not something we get for free, and in fact it's usually not something we really want, because the truth usually gets in the way of the selfish pursuits that occupy most of our waking attention.

We all delude ourselves to varying degrees, but we normally have some face-saving excuse. In politics, there is usually some genuine virtue that partisans can magnify to distract attention from their heroes' flaws and their policies' shortcomings. Even Nixon was a skilled stateman. What makes the Bush Cult scary is the bottomless, willing self-delusion, the eagerness to embrace every new hypocrisy, coupled with a moral certitude completely devoid of any actual moral self-scrutiny. Here is a man devoid of discernible compassion, respect for the truth, basic competence, introspection, honesty, humility, subtlety of mind or personal courage. He is from all appearances, an utterly hollow man whose every action belies the religion he wears on his sleeve. There is not an iota of evidence that he has ever done anything for anyone outside his family in his entire life. He thus presents a test case for all of us, but especially for any Christian who believes in the importance of living in Truth: how low are you willing to go for this man?

I'm afraid we have yet to find out. I am not sure I want to be around when we do.

Say, are ES&S machines mostly positioned in swing states? 

Just asking. Really.

Readers! Does anyone know of a map that gives the distribution of electronic voting machines by county and, hopefully, by vendor?

Election fraud 2004: Sum of a Glitch 

This is it. This is THE story on electronic voting machines. I never ever though I would say this but the situation is about a thousand times worse than we ever thought. Bev Harris should just be given a special Pulitzer right now for this work.

It should be on the front page of every paper in America and the lead item on every damn newscast from now till the problem is fixed. Until then (um, don't hold your breath) it can be found at inthesetimes.com, whose headline was so perfect I had no choice but to steal it:

In the Alabama 2002 general election, machines made by Election Systems and Software (ES&S) flipped the governor’s race. Six thousand three hundred Baldwin County electronic votes mysteriously disappeared after the polls had closed and everyone had gone home. Democrat Don Siegelman’s victory was handed to Republican Bob Riley, and the recount Siegelman requested was denied. Three months after the election, the vendor shrugged. “Something happened. I don’t have enough intelligence to say exactly what,” said Mark Kelley of ES&S.

When I began researching this story in October 2002, the media was reporting that electronic voting machines are fun and speedy, but I looked in vain for articles reporting that they are accurate. I discovered four magic words, “voting machines and glitch,” which, when entered into a search engine, yielded a shocking result: A staggering pile of miscounts was accumulating. These were reported locally but had never been compiled in a single place, so reporters were missing a disturbing pattern.

I published a compendium of 56 documented cases in which voting machines got it wrong.

How do voting-machine makers respond to these reports? With shrugs. They indicate that their miscounts are nothing to be concerned about. One of their favorite phrases is: “It didn’t change the result.”

Except, of course, when it did:
Nope, I ain't a-gonna give you any more. You can read the whole thing in under 15 minutes. Then get busy Astroturfing it to every friend, enemy, media outlet and total stranger whose address you can find.

UPDATE: Upon rereading it occurs to me that newer readers may not be aware that Bev Harris is executive director of BlackBoxVoting.com, a group that has been almost singlehandedly trying to get the truth out about the deficiencies of un-auditable electronic voting machines and the importance of paper trails. Also, I should have given credit to somebody who left this link in a comment thread at dKos where I ran across it.

Lukasiak Makes Froom! 

BushAWOL is the lead story on Froomkin's column today. The AP is getting jacked around in their attempt to get the TANG microfilm, but Froom thoughtfully notes that mere civilians like our buddy Paul are on the case anyway:
The attacks on Sen. John F. Kerry's decorated record of military service in Vietnam have cast new attention on Bush's actions during the war.

Critics charge that it was family connections that first got Bush a highly desirable stateside posting in 1968 with the Texas guard, and that then secured him an honorable discharge in 1973 in spite of not having performed his required service.

In the meantime, amateur researchers are combing the public records as well, and their findings are burning up certain corners of the blogosphere. Philadelphia caterer Paul Lukasiak, for instance, believes he has unraveled the story of Bush's attempt to transfer himself to Alabama, and can prove that Bush never made up his missed training days.
We are not a modest lot here at Corrente but even we have to admit Froomkin gets a tad higher readership than we do. Here's to the hope that this notice brings Paul's work to a wider audience that might know of another rock to turn over in this search.

Little Lizzy Bumiller gets an interview with Bush! 

Who is not obviously drugged, and relentlessly on message as usual. Guess all that work down on the kneepads was a smart career move. And to be fair to Lizzy, she doesn't push Bush was hard as she might, but at least she seems to be standing on her own two feet.

One sentence caught my eye:

[BUSH] Well, I understand how Senator Kerry feels — I have been attacked by 527s, too.
(via NY Times)

This is false, and ingeniously false, on so many levels.

1. What about truth? The point is not whether there are attacks. The point is whether the attacks are true. The attackes on Kerry by Bush's SBVF[cough]T were demonstrably not true.

2. What's wrong with attack? Bush is running, in part, on his character; his "resoluteness," and so forth. So if a candidate runs on his character, as Bush has, what's wrong with attacking his character? Nothing, in itself. However, Bush's attacks on Kerry's war record are, again, have been proven to be false by an examination of the evidence. The attacks that Democrats have made on Bush's, um, service record could be proven false by examination of the evidence—but there are many unanswered questions, and Bush himself has refused to release the evidence. Leaving aside the point that Bush has already been shown to be guilty of payroll fraud (back>).

3. And lastly, a typical Republican behavior that, frankly, drives me nuts. It isn't the lying I mind; God knows we're all used to that.

But the Republicans hijacking the very emotions of their opponents, and distort them.

"Bush hatred," for example, is pure disinformation, since it implies that the emotions of those who opposed Bush are not motivated by real grievances; as we have said, outrage (back) is the proper word.

And Bush does the same thing here. "I understand how Senator Kerry feels," forsooth. Bush equates being attacked on TV with being wounded by shrapnel in a war. Is that narcissistic, or what? He totally distorts the emotion. Typical behavior from a POTL.

The definition of chutzpah 

Remember it?

The one where a boy (1) murdurs his parents and then (2) throws himself at the mercy of the court because he's an orphan?

So, Inerrant Boy (1) sets up a 527, the SBVF[cough]T, a "shadowy group" which promptly emits a stream of outright lies that try, and fail, to smear John Kerry's heroic war record.

Then Inerrant Boy (2) calls for the 527's to be outlawed (after He signed the bill into law that enabled them).

Am I missing something here, or is this chutzpah?

Could it be that Bush's 527, the SBVF[cough]T, backfired badly, and the Democrat's 527s are working, that Bush knows this, and that's why He wants to abolish them? Could that be it?

Live, from the Republican National Coronation Convention 

Via pirate radio.

Why not get the story without the, um, filter? Or be a correspondent....

Vets, Pets, Tits and Tots Friday 

VETS: This machine killed fascists. Stalinist liberal cultural Marxist hippy type - US Army Air Corp vet - Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross recipient - George McGovern circa WW2.
(center - below prop).

PETS: Leave no pampered pet behind! The unassailable advantages of George W. Bush's tax cuts for the "middle class". Throw me a milk-bone invisible hand, throw me a milk-bone!

TITS: Flags gone wild! The Right Hand of Old Glory. Patriotic fervor cops a feel circa 1896.
HELEN (Balcony crumbles beneath Helen.): My God, it is falling! Help! Help! (down she goes. Enter Warfield!)

WARFIELD Helen, hold! I'll save you! Ah, the flag! Hold! I am coming!

HELEN: I cannot. My hands are slipping. Good-bye. God bless you.

WARFIELD: Hold! I will reach you! (Rescued! Saved by the flag! Flag rises, curtain drops.)

Illustration detail above from show poster: "The War of Wealth; Warfield's Daring Rescue of Helen By The Aid Of The Flag."

TOTS: Bush ~ Goldwater 2004! Young Republican YAF commandos being briefed prior to raid on Manhattan Island. Fairfax, Virginia, August 27, 2004.
(Jonah Goldberg - second from left, standing) no, not really - but who cares.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Once again, dammit, I've gotten sidetracked from writing Abu Ghraib. This time by goats. Oh well. Nothing real is happening to the content of the story, although it has moved to the front page. Still, now 27 soldiers and some generals are being heaved over the side, and the buck would stop with Rummy if he'd let it. Yawn.

Meanwhile, here's some good jokes (scroll to "Late Night Humor").

And, Will Ben Barnes ever tell the real story of how Goat Boy joined the Guard?

Department of Vile Rumors: "My Pet Goat" 

Readers, here at Corrente we've labored tirelessly to bring a new tone to political discourse in America. And so it's particularly distressing when to us vile rumors about our Dear Leader begin to circulate.

Alert reader raison de fem encountered this especially vile rumor the other day, and forwarded it on to us, asking us to do our Corrente Best to suppress it.

And I think we'd better print it, in its entirety, so you can judge for itself just how vile it is. Naturally, we've highlighted the parts that simply can't be true, and black out the especially vile parts that would totally distress your sensitive spiritss. It seems to be some sort of transcript:


O'REILLY: So, you say that you were a goatherd working in Montgomery, Alabama, in the early 1970's? Is that right, Mr., um, "Jones"?

"JONES": Yep, that's right. Well, that was my full-time job. Been raisin' goats in Alabama since I was a teenager. I was also in the Air National Guard. I was a maintenance tech at Donnelly Field.

O'REILLY: And you claim that you knew one of the pilots there, a Lt. George Bush, around that time?

"JONES": Well, that's what he called himself. I never saw him fly a plane, though. Mostly I just saw him at the dentist, or when he came over to the farm. I just called him George.

O'REILLY: And you say that this was an unusual relationship?

"JONES": Well, I didn't mind at first. He found out I raised goats and asked if he could come over. So I said, sure. He liked to come over and play with the goats, and the goats didn't seem to mind, and he always brought a few beers and some pot when he came over.

O'REILLY: But things changed?

"JONES": Well, yeah. I, umm, well...this is hard to say. On teevee and all.

O'REILLY: Go ahead. Believe me, we've heard it all here.

"JONES": Well, I caught him, umm, diddling one of my does. And then, later on, one of my bucks. I mean, he had the zipper of his flight suit open and he was a-goin' at it.

O'REILLY: Flight suit? He wore a flight suit when he visited the goats?

"JONES": Hell, he always wore a flight suit. Never once saw him wear anything else.

O'REILLY: And you say you saw this man again recently?

"JONES": Yessir, I saw him on teevee in a flight suit on an aircraft carrier. I'd recognize that strut anywhere, believe me.

O'REILLY: So, are you claiming that—?

"JONES": I'm just telling you what I saw.

O'REILLY: You didn't call the cops on him? Or the Animal Rescue League? There's no record of this ever happening.

"JONES": We don't call cops when we catch someone outside the family diddling our goats. We just shoot 'em. Only reason I didn't shoot him was because the gun jammed.

O'REILLY: Now, Mr. "Jones," some people claim that you are being paid by the Heinz company to develop a new sauce for goat meat. And some people claim that you also have a John Kerry bumpersticker on your car, and have been seen handing out Kerry campaign information.

"JONES": Not true! Not true! I'm just interested in getting the truth out! I know what I saw.

Needless to say, this sort of rumor-mongering has no place in American politics, and here at Corrente we're proud to be pouring oil on troubled waters, instead of fanning the flames.

NOTE The one about the burusera isn't true either. Or the one about omorashi. Or the one about swine.

Henri And Julia, Goodbye, Or Perhaps It's Au Revoir 

First it was Henri Cartier-Bresson, then Julia Child, not to mention three of our greatest composers of movie scores, Jerry Goldsmith, David Raksin, and Elmer Bernstein. And now another loss, someone not as well known, but as extraordinary, I'd bet, in his own way; in fact, isn't that the great theme of the work of all five of those better known recent shuffler's off of this mortal coil - the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary?

Yesterday, T. Bogg lost his father to death. In a small, exquisite essay, this wittiest of bloggers commemorates his father's extraordinary/ordinary life, and makes observations, filled with grace and wisdom, about that universal moment of loss. Whether you've lost a parent, or anxiously avoid thinking about that inevitability, you will be made more mindful by reading it.

T., our hearfelt condolences and gratitutde.

It Doesn't Get Any Thicker Than This 

Fill in your own antecedent for that "it."

Another bold move by our war-time-uh-make-that-peace-pursuing president, as Lambert also discusses previously today.

According to the AP:
President Bush wants to work with Republican Sen. John McCain to pursue court action against political ads by ``shadowy'' outside groups, the White House said Thursday amid growing pressure on the president to denounce attacks on John Kerry's war record.

``The president said if the court action doesn't work, that he would be willing to pursue legislative action with Sen. McCain on that,'' Bush spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to New Mexico.

The AP does mention that Senator McCain had called on the president to disavow the content of the SwiftBoatVets ads, but not that nothing he does with McCain now will have any impact on the huge buys being made by those "shadowy" groups who will be attacking Senator Kerry on the president's behalf. Alas, Senator McCain appears content to let the president off the hook.
``I'm very appreciative of the president's effort to do that,'' McCain said in an interview with The Associated Press. ``I want to emphasize if I could that we're not saying that 527s should be abolished. We're just saying they should live under the same campaign finance restrictions (as hard money groups) because they are engaged in partisan activity.''

McCain added: ``I've said before I would like for the president to specifically condemn that ad, but the president has said John Kerry served honorably and also the president is now committed to acting to try to bring 527s into regulations that are appropriate.''

Everyone should note that O'Neil and his group love all this; they continue to say that they have no intention of stopping their campaign to paint Senator Kerry as a liar and a fabulist.

What Kerry supporters need to do is reframe the question: How long can this President continue to weasel out of taking a stand on a very specific issue by pretending he doesn't get it?

Max Cleland's attempt to deliver that letter was fine. Time now, though, for the Kerry campaign to cease and desist demanding that the Bush campaign get the Swift Vets to take their ads and themselves off the air. It could start to look like pleading. Already one is beginning to see an evolving right wing meme that suggests that the hit Kerry's taken from the Swift Vets suggests he might not be too swift in dealing with "the terrorists."

Time to make clear that the problem isn't that they are exercising their rights to free speech. The problem is that what they are saying is demonstratably untrue. This is a deliberate smear, even if none of the men making these accusations is aware of lying. They are insisting that their's is the only true version of who Senator Kerry is, in the face almost nothing in the documentary record, except their bizarre reading of it, to support their view of John Kerry, while all the men save one who were much closer to the action in question than any members of this Band Of Accusers have a different version of events, which also happens to be consistent with the documentary evidence.

Oh, gee, who to believe? In something as important, sacred even, as taking it upon oneself to besmirch the fundamental character of another human being, it shouldn't depend exclusively on your political bias.

Time for the Kerry campaign to make the issue President Bush's smarmy pretense that he honors Senator Kerry's military service to his country while a cadre of Bush supporters, including journalists, continues to spread what are essentially smears against the Senator's fundamental character. It's not about Bush's record in the National Guard, it's a question of presidential character. Start demanding that the President stop telling us what a straight shooter he is, and start being that straight shooter.

Its very simple. Make a public statement disowning the attacks on Kerry's character, the attacks that claim he is a liar, makes up story, is a coward, and perjured himself in front of the Senate and state categorically that you wish that all who support you, from bloggers, to voters, to pundits, to activist Republicans would stop a discussion which is a disservice to the American people, and is keeping both candidates from talking about what is really important to the American voter.

Does anyone else find it both odd and enraging that despite the fact that almost all the new revelations since the Swift Vets re-emerged with their sixty-second ad in hand support John Kerry and call into question the veracity of his accusers, none but the lucky with leisure, most well-informed independent voter probably realizes that? Please do avail yourself of the comments to elaborate.

It's no real mystery. This smear has been doggedly spread, from Swift Vets to Drudge to Fox News to the hard right blogs and back again; here we have the perfect vicious circle, and this weekend, the next step, expansion of the circle to include the respectable mainstream right-bowing pundits and their centrist comrades in the SCLM. And yes, as promised, I will be discussing in a series of posts my journey into the underworld to test my own ability to confront honestly their rhetorical challanges to the character of my candidate.

PLEASE NOTE: ON C-SPAN THIS EVENING: C-Span will be showing the tape made at the time of John Kerry's 1971 testimony in front of the Senate Foreign Relations, including, I hope, the questioning by the Senators, i.e., Chairman Fullbright (D) Symington, (D), Javitz., (R), Aiken, (R), Pell, (D). C-Span also has the fullest transcript of the Senate session I've seen anywhere, and the youthful John Kerry's dialogue with the Senators is easily as impressive as his opening statement. I wish it was possible to describe for you young 'uns what it felt like in 1971, watching this long-jawed, sad-eyed, modest, yes, modest Vietnam veteran speak truth to power in quiet, measured words. In this case, it was power that had begun to accept its own limits and wanted to listen.

Yes, I was anti-war; my efforts took the form of working with a group that counceled kids facing induction, and, increasingly, returning vets, to help them get their bearings and their benefits, medical and educational, (no GI Bill for these kids). John Kerry's appearance in front of the Senate was almost the first public statement of what kind of toll, other than being returned to one's loved ones in a body bag, the war had taken on the men who'd been called to fight it. The screening is scheduled for 8 PM EDS. Try not to miss it.

Bush's Alabama Transfer Shuffle - aWol Update 

The AWOL Project ~ Latest UPDATE:

Introduction and Summary

Summary: Contrary to the spin put out by the White House (and endlessly repeated by the mainstream media) Bush was never transferred to the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron in Alabama. Nor was this "transfer request" an attempt to find somewhere to do training temporarily while Bush worked on an Alabama political campaign in 1972. Instead, Bush was running a scam designed to completely sever his relationship with the Air National Guard, and eliminate the last two years of his obligation to train and serve as a pilot, by joining a unit that had no training, and for which Bush was specifically ineligible.

On the morning of Saturday, May 20th, 1972, the members of the 147 Fighter Interceptor Group at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, Texas assembled for the first day of one of their mandatory monthly training weekends. George W. Bush didn’t show up. Nor did he show up the next day, May 21st.

Three days later Bush signed a document signaling his intent to completely abandon the Texas Air National Guard, and instead join the Air Force Reserves as a member of the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron in Alabama. But the 9921st was not an ordinary Air Force Reserves unit. It was, in fact, a special kind of "unit" whose members were not required to do any training whatsoever.


MYTH: Bush did not know he was not eligible for a transfer to the 9921st ARS. (This, of course, is more than just a myth. It is Bush's "official" position, as expressed by his spokesman during the 2000 presidential election campaign [2]).

FACT: The documents themselves prove that Bush was fully aware that, as a member of the 9921st ARS, he would be unable to fulfill the requirements established for him under United States Law, and Air Force policy.

What George W. Bush was attempting to do was run a scam. He was trying to find a way to "legally desert" his post, by gaming the system under which transfers to Air Reserve Squadrons were processed. In the meantime, while waiting for his scam to come to fruition, Bush blew off months of training that he was required to do under the law, and didn't even bother getting the medical examination required of all pilots, whether they had planes to fly or not.

As we now know, Bush never got the orders that would allow him to forget about fulfilling his obligations to the United States Armed Forces. His little transfer scam didn’t work, and he should have been showing up for training, and maintaining his qualifications as a pilot, throughout the Spring and Summer of 1972.

There is a law concerning a member of the United States Armed Forces who :"quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away therefrom permanently" That law is 10 USC 885 of the United States Code, also known as Article 85 of The Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Article 85 is one of the "punitive articles" of the UCMJ.

And Article 85 has a name. It is "Desertion."



George W. Bush... he's a special kind of unit all right.

Continue reading THE ALABAMA TRANSFER SCAM: Full Details


NOTE Readers, Paul Lukasiak's stuff is an absolute must read. Not only is he from Philly, he's done stuff like master the '70s punchcard technology used to create the payroll records. This is not tinfoil hat stuff. This is the real deal. Please read it, and master it. Who knows, maybe someone, somehow, will connect this to the SCLM and it will turn into a real story part of the official sanctioned narrative of the election.—Lambert

I Am Now Officially Jealous 

So this "Juan Cole", IF that's his real name, he thinks he is just SO hot, just because he can, like, read Arabic, and knows the theological structure of Islam, and the history of the Middle East, and gets information from foreigners (if it was really important it would be on patriotic American TV, like Fox News, wouldn't it?) and thinks that just because of THAT he knows more than us common people. And THEN he has the nerve to write all of it down so that anybody can understand it, AND...oh, I could go on.

But now THIS! He gets written up in Wired magazine. I could just....spit. Excuse me while I go rend my garments and put on sackcloth and ashes:
In this month's Wired magazine, an article entitled "The Dean Machine Marches On" looks at the internet, blogging, and political campaigns. In the profile on p. 141 of Brad Carson, a Native American and Blue Dog Democrat running for an Oklahoma senate seat, it is written:

"But the new tactics can be risky. The National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a press release titled "Brad Carson: A-Blogging He Will Go," which attacked Carson for linking to "the Web sites of radicals," including DailyKos and Juan Cole.
This all happened a while ago, of course, but what is exciting to me is where it is reported. Many, many thanks to Carson and to the National Republican Senatorial Committee for getting me a mention in Wired, one of my favorite magazines.
Well Wired is one of my favorites too, one of the few I actually get delivered in dead-tree format. They get a little heavy on the flash-bang, gee-whiz, newer-and-shinier-must-be-better consumeristic shit from time to time, but still....I would think I had died and gone to heaven if I could get mentioned in their pages just once. Good job there Juan, you dirty rat fink.

Republican Looting: US Olympic officials call Bush on theft of their brand 

Hey, another opportunity for Bush to lawyer himself up!

The U.S. Olympic Committee has asked the campaign to re-elect President Bush to pull an ad that refers to the Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee said on Thursday.

The ad has angered Olympic officials because they feel it hijacks the Olympic brand -- a registered trademark -- even though it does not display the Games logo.

The U.S. Olympic Committee had asked the Bush election "campaign to withdraw the advertisement they are running," International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies told reporters.

"We own the rights to the Olympic name and nobody asked us," Gerhard Heiberg, head of the International Olympic Committee's Marketing Commission had said on Wednesday.
(via Reuters)

Well, Bush is all about just taking whatever he wants, when he wants it, so why on earth would they expect Him to ask them? Besides, Bush has been Chosen of God as Leader, so what right has the Olympic committee or anyone else to question Him?

The Wecovery: Jobless claims up, economists surprised, yet again 

Why is it that the economists are always surprised by how bad the job market is? Every time, they're surprised. Can't we outsource them?

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications for unemployment insurance increased by a seasonally adjusted 10,000 to 343,000 for the week ending Aug. 21. Half of the 10,000 rise was attributed to claims stemming from the hurricane, a Labor Department analyst said.

The increase in claims last week was larger than the rise economists were expecting. Some predicted that claims would increase by around 4,000. The 343,000 level of claims was the highest since July 24.

Thursday's report also showed that the number of workers continuing to draw jobless benefits rose by 5,000 to 2.9 million for the week ending Aug. 14, the most recent period for which that information is available. While the figure suggests that companies aren't on a major hiring spree, it is an improvement from the same period a year ago, when continuing claims stood at 3.6 million.
(via AP)

Wow... An improvement from a year ago. Boy, if I was one of the people newly unemployed last week, that would sure make me feel better!

Seems like Bush just doesn't want to talk about this, other than to repeat the tax cut mantra. I wonder why?

Swift boat smear: coWard to seek activist judges who will end 527s 

Portrait of someone who can dish it out but not take it:

Bush plans to seek a court order to force the U.S. Federal Election Commission to stop all political advertising by independent groups, said spokesman Scott McClellan.

Bush asked Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, to help end advertising by political organizations known as ["soft money"] 527 groups, named for the section of the Internal Revenue Service code that grants them tax-exempt status. McCain told the New York Times he disapproves of ads attacking Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, one of the 527 groups.
(via Bloomberg)

Well, I hope he hires a good trial lawyer for this extremely non-frivolous lawsuit.

And if Bush thinks the 527s are so bad, why did he sign the law that allows them?

"I guess I resent deeply the hypocrisy in all of this and people passing that law and now whining about the fact that both parties are trying to use that tool to defend their position," said former GOP chairman William Brock, who helped create the group known as the November Fund.
(via AP)

Could it be that when Bush signed the law, He, and Acting President Rove, thought it would help the Republicans? And how that it is hurting them, not helping them, they want to go to the courts that they've packed to get rid of the law?

NOTE MoveOn.Org—the bete noie of the Republicans is in fact a PAC, funded by millions of small donors, not a 527—despite the no doubt deliberately misleading term "independent" or "outside groups," they are not to be confused with the SBVF[cough]T.

UPDATE OK, I shot from the lip on MoveOn and it's PAC-ness and 5276-age. Alert reader clif sets me straight:

Let me see if I can add some clarity to this. I've been blogging on this point for a bit the past week or so.

MoveOn has both a 527 and a PAC. The PAC only takes hard money and can be used for activities directly related to the election of candidates.

The MoveOn 527 takes soft money and can use this for issue advocacy. It is required to disclose donations exceeding $200 on periodic reports.

McCain-Feingold limited the way 527s could use money from unions and corporations (basically forbidding 527s to use that money within specified periods before general and primary elections). But it didn't, and wasn't intended to, affect how soft money from individuals was used.

Clif | Homepage | 08.26.04 - 3:36 pm | #

The FEC opinion that just came out, and which the GOP falsely claims bans 527s starting in 2006, does not do that. It addressed an issue related to dealing with what ads directly call for election or removal of candidates by holding that money raised in response to solicitations mentioning a candidate were limited to $5000. (George Soros could still give as much as he wants as long as its not solicited). It also dealt with an accounting issue relating to organizations, like MoveOn, that have both 527s and PACs.

Does that clear things up or is it too much legalese? Short version: Scottie, Mark "Banana Bread" Racicot and W himself have all been lying about McCain-Feingold and the recent FEC decision

But don't you like "coWard"? I hope that one spreads.....

Patriots Ask: Why Do You Think They Call It Muslin? 

Atrios points us to the collected wit and wisdom of the RNC's answer to Bruce Springsteen, Charlie Daniels. Charlie, of course, penned these stirring words about the comparative haberdashery of A-rabs vs. Muricans:
This ain't no rag it's a flag
And we don't wear it on our heads
It's a symbol of the land where the good guys live ...

Which is interesting, because the the land where the good guys live includes this, this, this, this, this, this, and about 15,394 similar merchants...
Why do so many wingnuts hate America?

"You crashed a jet while you were in the National Guard... 

because you were drunk."

The Texas Monthly
June 1999.

Who Is George W. Bush?
The W. Nobody Knows.
What he's like in real life.
by Paul Burka

"Well, am I running?" George W. Bush demanded to know.

I happened to be sitting in my Suburban near the south door of the state capitol, discharging a passenger, just as the governor's silver-gray Lincoln Continental was doing the same. It was early February, well before he would announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, and a smidgen of suspense still lingered. I had waved at Bush as he went past, and he had swerved over to deliver the opening gambit in one of his favorite games: conversational one-upmanship. Having played it before, I knew I didn't have a chance.

"Sure," I said. "You'd be the wuss of all time if you didn't."

"But what about the rumors?" he shot back. Then, to my utter stupefaction, he proceeded to tick off everything the national press was investigating about his past: five or six of the most salacious things that could be said about anyone—including, in his own words, "I bought cocaine at my dad's inauguration"—plus intimate gossip about his family.

As he well knew, I had already heard all of it through the media grapevine. "You missed one," I said. "You crashed a jet while you were in the National Guard because you were drunk."

He spread his hands. "That's easy," he said. "Where's the plane?" Game over. He spun around and headed off.

When friends who have only a passing interest in politics ask me what Bush is really like, I tell them this story and others like it. On another occasion when his car was delivering him to the Capitol, he spied two well-heeled lobbyists walking down the steps among the throngs of tourists. He rolled down his window and shouted, "Show me the money!" They obediently flashed their wallets. One can only imagine what the common folk thought of this byplay. [More: The W. Nobody Knows]

About the author:
Paul Burka joined the staff of TEXAS MONTHLY one year after the magazine's founding. A lifelong Texan, he was born in Galveston, graduated from Rice University with a B.A. in history, and received a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. Burka is a member of the State Bar of Texas and spent five years as an attorney with the Texas Legislature, where he served as counsel to the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

Game over. Now watch this drive.


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