Saturday, September 11, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

It was interesting riding the train homeward today, out of touch with any form of media—wondering if New York would still be there when I reached Penn Station.

Bush AWOL: Digby sums up the state of play 

The summing up:

First, contrary to the malarky that the Wurlitzer began circulating almost immediately, every single so-called anomoly in the douments that made them questionable could have been produced by typewriters in use at the time. The press jumped the gun and the "experts" were wrong.

Second, CBS had every reason to be extremely careful with its quotes on this story. Hodges, the Bush supporter, has every reason to lie about what he told CBS now that the documents have been called into question. His babbling about handwritten vs typewritten makes no sense. He admits that Killian had very high standards and didn't hold with pilots not meeting them. Therefore, it's not reasonable to assume that Hodges saying that he told CBS "if he wrote it, it must be true" is more credible than CBS's original quote. Indeed, it is ridiculous.

Third, the statements of Killian's family are irrelevant compared to the statement of Strong who handled Killian's work documents and others like it at the time. Unless you believe that spouses and children have better direct knowledge of workplace events than co-workers, that is the only conclusion to which you can come.
(via Hullaballo)

Read the whole thing.

However, here is Digby's summing up, with which I must disagree:

This whole pushback by the right, from the blogosphere to the Wurlitzer to the Whitehouse, is absolutely masterful. And, it should give everyone pause if they think there is even a snowball's chance in hell that any member of the Bush administration will ever get justice for the crimes they have committed while in office. Clearly, the press and much of the public are so willing to be used that it is hopeless. This entire episode is nothing but a pathetic reminder of how easily they manipulate perceptions.

We'd better be content to congratulate ourselves for having integrity because it's clear that we do not get any public credit for it. Indeed, we are perceived as being just as bad as they are. If that's the case, does it even matter that we aren't?

This is a counsel of despair. Never forget that Clinton's ratings were never higher than when the wingers were impeaching him. If we can get the message through, the American people will hear and understand.

This is perhaps the first time that we have joined battle with the Mighty Wurlitzer and the wingers who transmit their memes into it. They hold the high ground, and we're firing upward. But we have to keep fighting. This is one battle in a long war. Fighting the POTL is tiring. But we're in the right, and we have to remember that.

Wingers commemorate 9/11 

go fuck yourself, chica la gash. you must have one sorry life to be agreeing with the corrente fuckwit

Move Along, Nothing to See Here... 

You ever get the feeling they've trained us TOO well? What, I kept wondering, was going to be so explosive they had to run the "Fontgate" play right now to get everybody all hot and bothered and occupy the gasbags on Sunday morning?

Seymour Hersh's book comes out Monday.

Don't even bother with this miserable excuse of a "story" (via ho-hum NYT), just make plans to be at your local bookstore come opening time.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 - Senior military and national security officials in the Bush administration were repeatedly warned by subordinates in 2002 and 2003 that prisoners in military custody were being abused, according to a new book by a prominent journalist.

Seymour M. Hersh, a writer for The New Yorker who earlier this year was among the first to disclose details of the abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, makes the charges in his book "Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib" (HarperCollins), which is being released Monday.

Mr. Hersh asserts that a Central Intelligence Agency analyst who visited the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in the late summer of 2002 filed a report of abuses there that drew the attention of Gen. John A. Gordon, the deputy to Condoleezza Rice, the White House national security adviser.

But when General Gordon called the matter to her attention and she discussed it with other senior officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, no significant change resulted.

Mr. Hersh also says that a military officer involved in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq learned of the abuses at Abu Ghraib in November and reported it to two of his superiors, General John P. Abizaid, the regional commander, and his deputy, Lt. Gen. Lance Smith.

Mr. Hersh's thesis is that "the roots of the Abu Ghraib scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists" who have been charged so far, "but in the reliance of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on secret operations and the use of coercion - and eye-for-eye retribution - in fighting terrorism."

In particular, Mr. Hersh has reported that a secret program to capture and interrogate terrorists led to the abuse of prisoners.
Let's see how our pet Anonymous handles this....have they handed out the flip chart of talking points and denials for this filthy stinking mess yet or are they going to keep yammering nonsense about kerning?

Cheney Spits Toads 

This MoDo is a couple of days old but it seemed appropriate to hold it for today. Anybody yet seen a promotion for "Patriot Day Mattress Sale & Used Car Extravaganza"? I haven't either but...maybe next year.

In 1992, the senior Mr. Bush wooed the voters with "Message: I care.'' So this week, Mr. Cheney wooed the voters with, Message: You die.

The terrible beauty of its simplicity grows on you. It is a sign of the dark, macho, paranoid vice president's restraint that he didn't really take it to its emotionally satisfying conclusion: Message: Vote for us or we'll kill you.

Without Zell Miller around to out-crazy him...Mr. Cheney is back as Terrifier in Chief.

It's like that fairy tale where vipers and toads jump out of the mouth of the accursed mean little girl when she tries to speak. Every time Mr. Cheney opens his mouth, vermin leap out.

Mr. Cheney implies that John Kerry couldn't protect us from an attack like 9/11, blithely ignoring the fact that he and President Bush didn't protect us from the real 9/11.

Think of what brass-knuckled Republicans could have made of a 9/11 tape of an uncertain Democratic president giving a shaky statement that looked like a hostage tape and flying randomly from air base to air base, as the veep ordered that planes be shot down.
Just like Presidents Day sales feature George Washington sitting on a mattress with an axe and a bowl of cherries, future Patriot Day sales ads will feature George Bush sitting on top of Air Force One reading "The Pet Goat" while Cheney frantically tries to aim a Star Wars laser cannon at it. It will become traditional as a day of deep discounts on dark glasses, ball caps, unattractive swimwear and other traditional vacation items which remain unsold at the end of the season.

Forgery follies 

Not sure what will come of the great 60 Minutes memo scare of 2004. One things for sure though, the White House, and the SCLM, weren't going to let Dan Rather and gang scuff up the Bush boy's latest symbolic public relations stunt - "Patriot Day". Not a chance.

Anyway, i do think that it's rather interesting that so many thumbs ups were given early on to the charge that those CBS memos are forgeries. Esspecially since the forgery charge at this point is based almost entirely on pretty flimsy unfounded notions. Such as the notion that typewriters could not perform such marvels as proportional spacing and superscripting in the early 1970's. Points that are simply false.

IBM Executive typerwiters could do both. Many manual typerwiters had superscript keys at the time as well. (aren't ya sick of hearing about this shit) BTW: IBM Executive models, and others, could also apparently be used as terminals for early computers. So the basis for calling the memos forgeries seems to rest on points that don't add up. For instance: Via Kevin Drum's Washington Monthly post:
Kevin, I worked in the IBM Office Products Division field service area fixing typewriters in NYC for over 13 years in the 70s. I can tell you that the Model D can produce those documents, not only did it do proportional spacing, you could order any font that IBM produced AND order keys that had the aftmentioned superscripted "th." Also you could order the platen, thats the roller that grabs the paper, in a 54 tooth configuration that produced space, space and a half and double spacing on the line indexing, this BTW was popular in legal offices. The Model D had to be ordered from a IBM salesmen and was not something that was a off the shelf item, typical delivery time were 4-6 weeks. Also, typewriter keys were changed in the field all the time, its not that hard to do. I wish I had saved my service and parts replacement manuals to backup this claim but I'm guessing a call to IBM with a request for a copy of their font and parts replacement manuals would put this to rest ASAP. Posted by: BillG NYC on September 10, 2004 [...] FYI, but I have found nothing that contradicts this information. It would appear you could order the humble IBM Executive with a wide variety of typestyles and characters, especially if you were a large, important client. - comment permalink

"letter quality"
Similarly, with regard to the charge that the typeface appearing in the CBS memos, curlicues and apostraphes, etc.. etc.. blah blah... which some have attempted to claim was not available on typewriters prior to 1973 - and - which resembles later computer word processor font faces instead - might find this item below interesting. It's written by a programmer who worked on early versions of WordPerfect:
It would take a couple of years before people would consider it a status symbol to show off the fact that they were using a computer. The professional typewritten look was called "letter quality" in the industry, and one of our goals for WordPerfect 3.0 was to print a letter that looked as good as one typed on an IBM Executive typewriter. - excerpt from "Almost Perfect", by W. E. Pete Peterson, 1993link

In other words, even early word processor programmers were trying to replicate the type face found on older typewriters. Specifically, in this case, the IMB Executive (which could also perform proportional spacing and superscript duties). Aside from the knowledge that New Times Roman typeface has been around since 1931 this disclosure may help some people out there (you know who you are) understand why some typefaces included with modern computer programs resemble the typefaces on old typewriters. Curlicues and all! Okie dokie?

BTW: Philip D. Bouffard, the "forensic document examiner" who looked at the documents and told the New York Times he was originally skeptical of their authenticity, now, after discovering the wonders of old IBM Selectric typewriters, has apparently changed his tune. - See: Authenticity backed on Bush documents Boston Globe, Sept 11, 2004

Therefore it would appear that the charges of forgery are pretty much unfounded, at this point anyway, and largely little more than excitable media hype. Seems to me the real questions should now involve the specific allegations contained within the memos themselves. That would seem to be the real issue which needs further examination. Afterall, the same old questions concerning Bush's wereabouts still remain regardless of the authenticity of the CBS memos. Bush still can't (or won't) produce documention accounting for his comings and goings at the time.

He said she said:
So, who can answer the question of whether or not these memos CBS unleashed are authentic or not? Who would know if what is being discussed in these memos is even remotely plausible or factual? Who would possibly know if Col. Jerry Killian had indeed spoken with or "...ordered that 1st Lt. Bush be suspended not just for failing to take a physical….but for failing to perform to U.S. Air Force/Texas Air National Guard standards." (?) Who would know if George W. Bush had or had not made any "...attempt to meet his training certification or flight physical." (?) Who would know if he had been instructed to seek a position with the Massachusetts Guard upon scurrying off to Hahvahd Yahd? Who? Why that would be George W. Bush himself wouldn't it.

But Commander SkyBox Pilot apparently ain't talking one way or another. Not in this case. One would think that if there were no possibility whatsoever that these latest memos might contain some shred of truth George W. Bush himself, or one of his trained seals, would be sliding back and forth across the political stage barking about the outrageous libel of it all. Perhaps even challenging Dan Rather to a duel at sunrise! Or showering the masses with firmly resolved declarations stating that the memos were certainly fakes because any such accusations contained within would never ever have been discussed with respect to Mr. Bush's TxANG service. No seh, never, because Mr. Bush had never ever found himself embroiled in any such messy misunderestimated tangles in the first place.

But nooooooo. That's not what has happened. Rather: The Bu$h, lost in his fabulous labyrinth, relies on Scotty McClellan to go hopping off to scratch at his noggin and mutter to the supple Press, "we don’t know if the documents are fabricated or authentic." - "We don't know?" You mean they might be authentic? Gee golly Scotty, that doesn't sound particually resolved-like.

Which begs the question....why don't you, Scotty, ask Commander Codpiece if there is anything valid or authentic-like to the charges contained in those memos? See, I'm sure, being the plain spoken forthright reg'lar kinda hero guy that he is, W would cack up the whole simple truth and nuttin' but the whole simple truth right there before God and country and Saddam's little hidey-hole gun and Scotty McClellan too! Right there in the Oval Office. Preznit would probably sum it all up right there in one short snappy symbol-like buzzphrase belch. Heck yeah Scotty.

But that would never really happen would it. Nope, it wouldn't. Because in the faith based bubble-fantastic of make believe that Bush43 inhabits, which is protected 24/7 by the palace guard thunder-dolts of the SCLM and other willing champagne unit fetchlings, it's understood that the delicate membrane surrounding the gas filled personality cult of the 'W' must never spring an ugly hissing leak.

I also find it ironic that so many in the SCLM devoted so much time over the course of one day attempting to discredit and deflect the CBS memos. Too bad those same excitable worthies hadn't expended as much energy and vigor and powers of skeptical inquiry when confronted with the fake claims made on behalf of the Bush administration's fabulous whizz-bang flower tossing Iraq cakewalk strut in the sand. Eh? Imagine that.

Beside the thousands of innocent Iraqis that have been killed in George W. Bush's fake-based experiment in "creative destruction" there'd be at least 1000 more US soldiers alive today. Soldiers who did actually show up for duty when and where they were asked to do so.


Friday, September 10, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

September 10, one day before September 11, and I'm engaged in a massive collective polemic about typography. How jejeune. Or maybe not. As Walter Benjamin writes in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction:

The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity. Chemical analyses of the patina of a bronze can help to establish this, as does the proof that a given manuscript of the Middle Ages stems from an archive of the fifteenth century. The whole sphere of authenticity is outside technical-- and, of course, not only technical-- reproducibility.<2> Confronted with its manual reproduction, which was usually branded as a forgery, the original preserved all its authority...

The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced. Since the historical testimony rests on the authenticity, the former, too, is jeopardized by reproduction when substantive duration ceases to matter. And what is really jeopardized when the historical testimony is affected is the authority of the object.

Our post-modern wingers...

Really, the whole controversy is non-trivial. The wingers say that the documents are not authentic. We say that Bush is not authentic, and that one one reason to believe this (there are many others) is the documents. A question of character...

Bush AWOL: Winger meme transmission relentless, but CBS does not cave 

You know, this election has always been about character, but until I scanned the blogosphere today, I hadn't realized how much it was about characters—specifically, the t and the h. [Rim shot. "Thanks. I'll be here all week!"]

And I have to say (as I said before, more politely, back) that it's fucking amazing the level of cluelessness in the wingerly tempest over the Killian memos.

Forensic Document Examination 101: It isn't possible to determine the authenticity of a paper document by examining a digital copy of it! If that were possible, every winger on the face of the planet would be taking digital copy of a ten dollar bill to the package store and loading up the new cooler they got with their GOP Gauleiter Points. And that's all the wingers have been doing.

Making it even more fucking amazing the savage efficiency with which the winger attack machine operates. Guy like Paul Lukasiak devotes months of his life to serious analysis of the Bush payroll record punchcards (why, oh why, didn't CBS go with this?) and we crow that we manage to get him mentioned in Froomkin's column. Then some winger shows it's possible to make one digital document look kinda like another digital reproduced document using software (wow!) and in 12 hours they're in the Standard, and in one news cycle they've got the network anchors repeating their talking points. "Liberal" "news" media my sweet Aunt Fanny.

Anyhow. CBS News didn't cave. Maybe Unka Karl shouldn't have left a horse's head in their bed over that Reagan biopic after all. Here's what CBS says:

"This report was not based solely on recovered documents, but rather on a preponderance of evidence, including documents that were provided by unimpeachable sources, interviews with former Texas National Guard officials and individuals who worked closely back in the early 1970s with Colonel Jerry Killian and were well acquainted with his procedures, his character and his thinking," the statement read.

In other words, CBS not only has documents, CBS has witnesses. Contrast Bush—we will, since His hapless apologists won't— who is missing documents, constantly finding them when they are "lost," and has no witnesses (not even for $10,000, back).

"In addition, the documents are backed up not only by independent handwriting and forensic document experts but by sources familiar with their content," the statement continued. "Contrary to some rumors, no internal investigation is underway at CBS News nor is one planned."

And now we come to the first winger talking point: the famous superscripts:

CBS News Anchor Dan Rather says many of those raising questions about the documents have focused on something called superscript, a key that automatically types a raised "th."

Critics [now that's being generous!—Ed.] claim typewriters didn't have that ability in the 1970s. But some models did. In fact, other Bush military records already released by the White House itself show the same superscript – including one from 1968.

It would be nice if CBS mentioned Josh Marshall (back), who first pointed this out, but we'll take what we can get.

And now we come to the second winger talking point: The Times New Roman.

Some analysts outside CBS say they believe the typeface on these memos is New Times Roman, which they claim was not available in the 1970s.

But the owner of the company that distributes this typing style says it has been available since 1931.

"Times New Roman" is a red herring. It isn't possible to tell from the PDFs online what typeface is being used (look for yourself). Serifs, sure, but not only Times, a particular brand of Times? Forget it. Note also that many of us have enough experience to remember the days before desktop publishing, and plenty of us can remember IBM typewriters with both kerning and serif fonts, from the early 70s. In fact, I owned one.

Making the next point all the more crucial: The only way to authenticate a document is to examine the document, not a copy of it; that's Forensic Document Examination 101, as we say above. And that's why all the "experts" making pronouncements on copies of the documents are violating their own professional ethics (as we show here). CBS puts the same idea in words that are far more polite:

Document and handwriting examiner Marcel Matley analyzed the documents for CBS News. He says he believes they are real. But he is concerned about exactly what is being examined by some of the people questioning the documents, because deterioration occurs each time a document is reproduced. And the documents being analyzed [Heh.—] outside of CBS have been photocopied, faxed, scanned and downloaded, and are far removed from the documents CBS started with.

Translation: All the wingerly analysis and footstamping about "forgery" is "sound and fury signifying nothing" because they aren't working from the originals.

Matley did this interview with us prior to Wednesday's "60 Minutes" broadcast. He looked at the documents...

Note once more that if the documents were created with impact technology like a typewriter, this instantly destroys the wingerly argumentation, since all their claims of forgery depend on digital reproduction.

Note to CBS: It would be nice to hear you take up this point.

Note to readers: A tip of the Ol' Corrente Hat to the first reader to link to wingerly frothing about Marcel Matley's French-sounding name.

...and the signatures of Col. Killian, comparing known documents with the colonel's signature on the newly discovered ones.

"We look basically at what's called significant or insignificant features to determine whether it's the same person or not," Matley said. "I have no problem identifying them. I would say based on our available handwriting evidence, yes, this is the same person."

Matley finds the signatures to be some of the most compelling evidence.

Reached Friday by satellite, Matley said, "Since it is represented that some of them are definitely his, then we can conclude they are his signatures."

Matley said he's not surprised that questions about the documents have come up.

"I knew going in that this was dynamite one way or the other. And I knew that potentially it could do far more potential damage to me professionally than benefit me," he said. "But we seek the truth. That's what we do. You're supposed to put yourself out, to seek the truth and take what comes from it."

Don't go up in any small planes, Marcel.

And now the witness:

Robert Strong was an administrative officer for the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam years. He knew Jerry Killian, the man credited with writing the documents. And paper work, like these documents, was Strong's specialty. He is standing by his judgment that the documents are real.

"They are compatible with the way business was done at that time," Strong said. "They are compatible with the man I remember Jerry Killian being. I don't see anything in the documents that's discordant with what were the times, the situation or the people involved."
(via CBS)

In a world where Enlightenment values like "evidence" and "reasoning" counted for something, CBS (modulo conspiracy theories, of course) has a strong prima facie case that the documents are real. (Note that what the documents reveal goes to character and unlawful acts, since they show that Bush disobeyed a direct order.)

1. The only examiner to have looked at the original, physical documents confirms their authenticity to CBS.

2. Independent witnesses confirm the content of the documents to CBS.

3. Independent researchers (Paul Lukasiak) reinforce the context of the Killian memos—that Bush was given special treatment—besides

4. proving that Bush was guilty of payroll fraud (never addressed by wingers) and didn't meet his sworn commitments.

In addition, 5, the White House never disputed the authenticity of the Killian memos. This could be, of course, part of the pattern of Bush always letting others do the dirty work. But it could also mean that the reason the White House didn't claim forgery is that they thought that the memos were true.

Finally, 6, the essential point of the story—now in the process of being covered up by wingerly frothing and stamping—is not that Bush disobeyed a direct order, juicy though that is. The essential point is that Bush disobeyed a direct order to take a medical exam, after the medical exams began to include drug testing. Why didn't he? The Bush answer is that He didn't need to, but in the military, the person being given the order doesn't get to decide whether or not to follow it. Eh?

Now, I know there are lots of people—Xan among them (back)—who want to talk about "the issues." The worthy Canadians think we've gone nuts.

I disagree. The wingerly response to this story is the sharp end of the Republican sword. This is how they govern, and if we don't stop it, it's only going to get worse.

Further, Digby makes the excellent point (citing a New Yorker article) here that people often use stories as proxies for reasoning. Expecially undecided people:

These little dramas in campaigns, which seem to be about everything but what we informed voters believe are the essential issues, actually serve as character and issues proxies for the electorate to come to its gut reasoning.

That is why blunting the Swift Boat Smear was so important—heck, if we can't blunt a political smear, how can we defend the country? That's the proxy style of reasoning, and who's to say it isn't good enough?

With the Killian memos, we have a great, great story. Not only did Bush pull strings to get into the Guard, he disobeyed a direct order once he was in. Oh, what was the order? To take a medical exam. Heck, why didn't we want to do that?! And Kitty Kelley has the answer to that. And now he's commander in chief?! Get out!

We have a great story. It could tip the undecideds, who use proxy reasoning, to us. The wingers know that. That's why they're trying to take it away from us.

Worse, the story they're trying to replace it with is a tale of forgery, and the Mighty Wurlitzer is constantly pumping that line out.

So, if we don't want President Superscript to win in 2004, we have to win this one.

UPDATE I think Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall have gone native on us. Asking Hodges whether he was pressured is exactly not the right question, since it's back to he said/she said. The right question is: Were the original documents created on a typewriter? If so—and it's hard to believe that CBS and a professional document examiner, under contract, would have missed this—then all the winger claims collapse. When they do, then it's case closed that Bush disobeyed a direct order. Then, we can ask why He did that? (Snort!)

And The Poor Man has it exactly right:

Let me save everyone a whole lot of time. They are genuine. How do I know? Because the internet is currently awash in wingnuts claiming the memos are fakes. Ergo, they are for real. Q.E.D.

UPDATE Hunter at Kos nails the font arguments with solid technical analysis. Go read. Winger meme sounds good on first look, falls apart when Enlightenment values like "evidence" and "reasoning" are applied. Film at 11.
As Hunter says in the update:

A number of people point out that this debunking of a debunking is a colossal "waste of time". Perhaps, perhaps not. But one of the points of the cooperative blogosphere, and of political blogs in particular, is that different individuals can choose their targets. A very few people managed to track down irrefutable evidence that the rationales underpinning the "forgery" cries were simply false, and were able to do so in a short time. The rest of the blogosphere didn't have to lift a finger.

And I don't like lies. And I especially don't like lies that make it into the mainstream media with such astonishing ease. And I choose to do something about it.

There are more interesting things coming out of this than merely the full and certain knowledge that conservatives can't perform either logical analysis or basic Google searches. We also have been given a prime example of how the mainstream media obtains its information, and where they get it from.


Mr. Matley, the documents expert, said in an interview after the program, that he had examined documents and handwriting since 1985 and had testified in 65 trials. Mr. Matley said the documents the network sent him were so deteriorated from copying that it was impossible to identify the typeface. As a result, he said, he focused on the signatures.
(via The Times

One the one hand, all the winger font analysis is out the window. On the other, it would have been nice to have the orignals (where are they?) So what we have now—and notice that this would be admissible in court—is the signatures and the testimony of witnesses. The case is still prima facie in CBS's favor.

Please don't feed the trolls [encore presentation] 

Alert Readers:

Based on our experience with The Man in the Gray Turtleneck, there's one rule for handing trolls: Don't feed them. On the other hand, if the troll makes a real argument—even if you don't agree with it—don't personalize it and insult the troll. Instead, answer the argument: It's fun, it's good practice, and it sharpens our discourse.

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC: The URL on how GOP Team leaders can win points toward a beer cooler is here, and other points you can win for performing an aktion. Amazing stuff.

NOTE Originally published 2004-03-06.

NOTE Revisd 2004-08-08.

Pvt. Henhouse, Meet Gen. Fox 

It would have been nice to see this some time back, and louder, and sharper, and on the front page. But after praising with those faint damns, I must at least give them credit for not falling for the whitewash. The prisoner abuse scandal is NOT going away.

(via WaPoEditorial)
A DAY OF congressional hearings yesterday confirmed two glaring gaps in the Bush administration's response to hundreds of cases of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first is one of investigation: Major allegations of wrongdoing, including some touching on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other senior administration officials, have yet to be explored by any arms-length probe. The second concerns accountability. Although several official panels have documented failings by senior military officers and their superiors in Washington, those responsible face no sanction of any kind, even as low-ranking personnel are criminally prosecuted. To use the phrase of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), this "is beginning to look like a bad movie."

Mr. Rumsfeld has frequently boasted of the number of Pentagon investigations into the abuse scandal and has maintained that no others are necessary. Yet the senior officer in charge of one of those probes, Gen. Paul J. Kern, told the Senate Armed Services Committee of two major areas that remain unexplored. One is the Army's accommodation of dozens of "ghost prisoners" held by the CIA and deliberately hidden from the International Red Cross in violation of the Geneva Conventions and Army regulations. Mr. Rumsfeld has acknowledged that at least one of those prisoners was held by his personal order -- an order that two former secretaries of defense, James R. Schlesinger and Harold Brown, testified was "not consistent" with international law. Gen. Kern reported that the CIA had flatly refused to provide his team with information about the ghost prisoners or their handling -- prompting Mr. McCain's acerbic comment.
Other stories today suggest that Rumsfeld is being kept off TV and out of the public/investigative eye as much as possible not, perhaps, out of well-deserved shame but because he is losing it:
(AP via WaPo)

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, responding to allegations that he fostered a climate that led to the prisoner-abuse scandal, said yesterday that the military's mistreatment of detainees was not as bad as what terrorists have done.

Asked at a National Press Club appearance whether he contributed to a climate that led to abuse, Rumsfeld said he had approved new techniques for Guantanamo but then rescinded them
Hmmm, flip-flopping, Rummy? Troubling...
and gathered lawyers to study the subject after military officers questioned them.

He said the procedures "were not torture" and were approved for use on only two people.

But Pentagon investigations in recent months have said there have been about 300 allegations of prisoners killed, raped, beaten and subjected to other mistreatment at military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay since the start of the war on terror.
He also made comments about the latest videotape released yesterday in which he repeatedly confused "Sadaam" and "Osama" as being the source. Maybe it makes it hard to concentrate when in the back of your mind you can't forget that everything you say is going to be used against you, very soon, at The Hague.

The Cape and the Sword 

Okay, I want everybody to take a deep breath.

Put down the typewriter, be it IBM Selectric, Olympia, Underwood, Remington or whatever, and back slowly away from the cast-iron monstrosity. Cease any talk of font analysis, kerning, superscripts or anything else of a typographical nature.

You are playing right into Karl Rove's hands with this shit. I think we can all agree that is not a place we want to be, esthetically, morally or most especially politically.

Let's get back to the important point. It is Friday night for starters. It's 9-11 Weekend, "Patriot Day" in the Bushian world of emotion-playing, string-pulling bullshittery. You're supposed to spend all day tomorrow feeling bummed out, or feeling guilty for not feeling bummed out enough, or some such manipulative rubbish.

There's yet another hurricane coming in, to Florida, which seems to me conclusive proof that God has not yet got their attention on the matter of the Diebold voting machines, and She intends to keep sending hurricanes until Jebbie orders them all cast into the sea. Or else She will make sure they don't have power to run them anyway, hah!

Here's my bet, FWIW, and it has nothing to do with typewriters. The "forged documents" claim is being waved as a distraction, just like that guy is waving the cape in front of the bull. The bull, of course, is supposed to be us. I resent that.

More importantly, it is not our job to prove George Bush is a liar on the matter of his TxANG service. It is his job to prove what happened, then and now.

The Coalition of the Shrill 

From Krugman today...and if I could get one sentence from his keyboard (screw whether it's kerned New Times Roman or chiseled hieroglyphics) to the Kerry speechwriting staff, it would start like this:

via NYT

It's the dishonesty, stupid. The real issue in the National Guard story isn't what George W. Bush did three decades ago. It's the recent pattern of lies: his assertions that he fulfilled his obligations when he obviously didn't, the White House's repeated claims that it had released all of the relevant documents when it hadn't.

It's the same pattern of dishonesty, this time involving personal matters that the public can easily understand, that some of us have long seen on policy issues, from global warming to the war in Iraq. On budget matters, which is where I came in, serious analysts now take administration dishonesty for granted.

It wasn't always that way. Three years ago, those of us who accused the administration of cooking the budget books were ourselves accused, by moderates as well as by Bush loyalists, of being "shrill." These days the coalition of the shrill has widened to include almost every independent budget expert.
Krugman's an economist so this is the particular aspect he looks at. But the same pattern of dishonesty pervades everything this administration does, from run National Parks to the space program to the military to defense of civil liberties (yeah, feel free to laugh about THAT one). Healthy Forests and Clear Skies, anyone?


I can cite experts from across the spectrum who will attest that:

1) The creation of matter out of nothing is unlikely.

2) The existence of an environment capable of sustaining life is also unlikely.

3) The emergence of life from inanimate matter is even more unlikely than that.

4) The emergence of human intelligence from animal life is super duper unlikely.

The implication of all these combined improbabilities is clear: we don't exist. We are nothing more than a simulacrum in a mad scientist's laboratory. No other explanation is possible. If I existed, I would be a genius. I now expect to be booked on cable TV to expatiate on my brilliant findings without interruption.

ABC World News This Morning: we're full of shit... 

we don't know what we're talking about....but we don't care...we'll talk about it anyway.....

Unbelievable. The dewy-eyed yearlings at ABC World News This Morning are repeating the blither blather of some clucking hen (includes video clip) who is repeating the claim that typewriter subscript "th"s didn't exist on typewriters at the time the allegedly forged Killian memo(s) (cited by CBS) would have been written. Some people apparently (ABC News) will swallow any shiny come-hither -- hook line and sinker -- that so called "experts" on video tape dangle before their hungry wet maws. Obviously, for the perky freshly spawned pod-dolts at ABC World News This Morning, real investigative journalism, is, like totally dead as a totally yicky landed pod-carp. Like totally. Yicky. Moving along.....

More details on the hanging death of Winston Carter in Tuskegee Alabama. See: Hungry Blues
Crucial details to note: the family members feel so strongly that Winston Carter's death was not a suicide that they are ready to formally contest any coroner's report finding suicide as the cause of death. Also, the crime scene was never sealed off, and the local news weekly for Macon County has not made any mention of the hanging death of a local resident.

And here: Hungry Blues
At this second link I have a comment to Hungry Blues from Winston Carter's aunt from northern Virginia. In short she says that a) she, like the Tuskegee family members, does not believe Winston Carter would commit suicide and b) the police have not allowed the family to see the crime scene photos or to have access to information about the investigation.

More on commander G. W. Make Believe's sky-box pilot adventure(s): Bush's military service in question – again; Records appear to show that the president failed to fulfill his duty to the Air National Guard.
James T. Currie, a retired colonel who is a professor at the Industrial College of The Armed Forces and the author of an official history of the Army Reserve, said that while the Guard had a reputation as being a "good old boy's club" during Vietnam, that didn't mean regulations shouldn't apply. "You make a commitment, and in return for what is a fairly minor inconvenience, you avoid getting drafted and sent to Vietnam, so I think the least you could do was fulfill the letter of that commitment," he said. "Clearly if you were the average poor boy who got drafted and sent into the active force, they weren't going to let you out before you had completed your obligation."

Vote Bush or Die by Judd Legum & David Sirota, The Nation, September 27, 2004 issue.
By May, CNN Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena "reported" that there was "some speculation that Al Qaeda believes it has a better chance of winning in Iraq if John Kerry is in the White House."

Yes, Kelli Arena, I'll bet there sure was "some speculation". Hey, they don't call CNN the (George) Creel News Network for nuttin'! And, by the way, no respecatable parent names a real live kid Kelli Arena. That isn't a name for a human being. It's a name for a convention center. Or a porn star who caters to corporate business junkets. Get a real name... you idiot. How about Idiot Arena? That would do nicely.

Judd Legum is also with American Progress. org which keeps a running count of Bu$hCo's growing Flip Flop porfolio.

Speaking of "flip flops" ---- on Sept., 08 Judy Woodruff's CNN "Inside Politics" show-program page sported this nifty summation:
Kerry - Iraq War Hurt Economy at Home; Bush Reverses Position on National Intelligence Director;... See: CNN/Inside Politics transcript
Wow-wee! I was very excited because usually Dame Judy can't tee up a single verbal probe without including the RNC talking point/buzz phrase/all purpose question..."how do you respond to critics who accuse John Kerry of being a flip-flopper....". But, alas, sadly, Miss Judy let me down. Not one utterance of "flip flop" or flip floppery or anything closely related with respect to our vaulted messianic Texan's latest flip flop. Alas, flip flops are penned in for lowly democracts. Manly take charge "Reverses" are for Judy's mucky-muck Beltway dinner party pals.

Finally: 'Call a Coward a Coward' - go visit "Big Dog" at Dog Fight 04.

Update: Don "Boat Show Cowboy" Imus and NBC mumble-peg Tom Brokaw are (as i write) reinforcing the claim that old typewriters didn't have subscript "th" abilities in the early 70's. Unbelievable. I'd invite each of these pampered enclave society millionaire celebrity geezer shut-ins to visit with my old Olympia, in my attic, but, I'm afraid I'd be tempted to beat each one of them bloody with an old hockey stick or a broken chair leg. Hmmm. On the other hand... c'mon over and visit with me you stupid blind bastards. heh heh heh...


"forgery" diversions and typewriter tales 

Bob Fertik at Democrats.com has a new blog: Bob Fertik.com. Registration is required to comment, which drives me nuts because me is not a joiner-upper type. But, nevertheless, you can still read the posts. Fertik's most recent entry titled The false forgery diversion is a good place to start. BF discusses subscripts and MS Word etc. BF also attempts to reproduce the CBS/Killian document using his own MSWord program. You can take a look at the results for yourself. One point noted by Fertik is the use of subscripts in the CBS/Killian letter. In some cases the subscript is smaller and raised. While at other points in the letter the subscript "th" is line level.

Me and my Olympia (pre-dating the corporate cabletv "news" crotch crickets and their "Alex Keaton" cheeky-boy sitcom Reagan Revolution wannabe sidekicks.)

As I noted in comments (earlier thread), I have an old Olympia manual typewriter. A great big heavy steel shelled anvil of a thing that was common in business offices and newspaper rooms years ago. Its circa 50's or 60's vintage. As a matter of fact it once lived on a desk at a newspaper. It sounds like this when you type with it: Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!... just like that. But, what is interesting here is that this particular industrial strenght beast has subscript keys. Including "th" - which is raised and underlined - as well as "1/2" and "1/4" subscript keys. It also has curlicue apostrophes - despite the claim noted by the Bu$hCo. goal-tenders at the Weekly Standard that such curlicue-like occurences were of rare occurence - and a little arrow-thingee key which allows you to perform a kind of crude maual kerning.

Bob Fertik notes that on some lines of the Killian letter the "th" is raised and in some cases at normal line level (for instance, "111th Fighter...."). Perhaps the typist simply used the usual "t", and "h" key to produce the "th" on some lines while resorting to the subscript key to produce the raised "th" on others. I dunno, but it's certainly possible, since both options would be available on an old typewriter such as the Olympia. What's more the type face on the old Olympia looks an awful lot like the typeface in those Killian letters. Curlicues and all. Did Olympia produce an electric typewriter later on which used a similar typeface as their older manual machines? Hell if I know.

Anyway, I don't know shit about the intricate personality traits of old typewriter models and typeface designs etc... and so forth... and my fingers are bleeding... all over my supple wimpy soft touch Micron computer keyboard... after violently poking at that old battle axe... so... I'll probably pass out at any moment. But, I thought I'd share that exciting typewriter adventure story with you anyway - oh..., i feeel weak... just go see what Bob Fetik has to say and uh, again, my fingers hurt... and I'm loosing (as well as losing) blood fast...Ooooo...mommy.......


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Bush AWOL: Winger meme transmission in action on the Killian memos 

Tinkers to Evers to Chance....

Wingers to Drudge to Standard

And now to AP, in one news cycle! Are these guys good, or what?

Independent document examiner Sandra Ramsey Lines said the memos looked like they had been produced on a computer using Microsoft Word software, which wasn't available when the documents were supposedly written in 1972 and 1973.

"I'm virtually certain these were computer-generated," Lines said after reviewing copies of the documents at her office in Paradise Valley, Ariz. She produced a nearly identical document using her computer's Microsoft Word software.
(via AP)

Well. Let's leave aside the fact that "independent" Sandra Ramsey Lines is a contributor to a "shadowy" 527 group (here) (Republican, though pro-choice, here).

What's important is that Sandra Ramsey Lines is a member of the South Western Association of Document Examiners (SWAFDE, here). And SWAFDE's Constitution has a code of ethics:

Section 4. All professional opinions shall be rendered after a thorough examination of the physical evidence under scientific and absolutely impartial conditions.

Obviously, Sandra Ramsey Lines didn't examine the physical evidence; she compared the PDF versions of the Killian memos to her own printouts. It will be up to SWAFDE to determine whether, by violating Section 4 of SWAFDE's code of ethics in a highly charged political atmosphere, she also violated section 6:

Section 6. Members shall strive to maintain an attitude of fairness and shall treat all cases equally.

We can't know why Sandra Ramsey Lines violated her own code of ethics by rendering a judgment, not on the basis of physical evidence, but on the basis of digital copies. But the point is a crucial one:

If we believe that the Killian memos are forgeries, we have to believe that CBS either (1) couldn't tell the difference between a letter printed from a laser- or ink-jet printer, and a typewritten letter, or (2) CBS didn't examine the physical evidence.

All of the wingerly speculation also hangs on the same point; they are examining images and digital reproductions only, at second and third hand; and there is no hope of determining the authenticity of a physical object using digital reproductions. Of course, they, unlike Sandra, have no code of ethics (though one can applaud their energy and ingenuity).

Why does the SWAFDE Code of Ethics insist on examining the physical evidence? For this reason:

There are people (like me) old enough to know that it is very easy to tell when a letter has been produced with impact technology, by striking a piece of paper with an inked metal key, and a letter has been produced with digital technology, by spraying bits of toner or ink. So let's hope CBS had such a person look at the Killian memos. I'm going to assume that they did; and that my liberal habits of giving all arguments respect have led me to give the winger's case for forgery more credence than it deserves.

Still, I'd like to know that the ink and paper were tested for age. And in the back of my mind is the chilling notion that salting false memos among true ones would be a highly Rove-ian ploy, since it would have the effect of discrediting all the work done disentangling Bush's young and irresponsible days. Not that I'm paranoid...

With that, goodnight moon!

UPDATE Not so fast... WaPo has its own expert, William Flynn, past president of the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners (the ABFDE, here). Here is the AFBDE's definition of "scientific":

Forensic science is the application of various sciences to the law. The application of allied sciences and analytical techniques to questions concerning documents is termed forensic document examination. The examination of questioned documents consists of the analysis and comparison of questioned handwriting, hand printing, typewriting, commercial printing, photocopies, papers, inks, and other documentary evidence with known material in order to establish the authenticity of the contested material as well as the detection of alterations.

The science of document examination, then, consists in the analysis of actual documents, not physical copies. So it appears that Flynn, too, violated the code of ethics of his professional association:

h. A diplomate or candidate of the ABFDE will only render opinions which are within his/her area of expertise, and will act, at all times, in a completely impartial manner by employing scientific methodology to reach logical and unbiased conclusions.
(via Here)

Again, rendering an opinion on the authenticity of a physical object by examining a digital copy of it is hardly scientific.

Very odd that these "experts" are so willing to offer unqualified judgments. Eh?

Bush AWOL: Is there a typographer in the house? 

About Those CBS memos from Killian (back):


The Standard...



The Standard frames the issue this way:

There are several reasons these experts are skeptical of the authenticity of the Killian memos. First the typographic spacing is proportional, as is routine with professional typesetting and computer typography, not monospace, as was common in typewriters in the 1970s. (In proportional type, thin letters like "i" and "l" are spaced closer together than thick letters like "W" and "M". In monospace, all the letter widths are the same.)

Second, the font appears to be identical to the Times New Roman font that is the default typeface in Microsoft Word and other modern word processing programs. According to Flynn, the font is not listed in the Haas Atlas--the definitive encyclopedia of typewriter type fonts.

Third, the apostrophes are curlicues of the sort produced by word processors on personal computers, not the straight vertical hashmarks typical of typewriters. Finally, in some references to Bush's unit--the 111thFighter Interceptor Squadron--the "th" is a superscript in a smaller size than the other type.
(via The Standard)

And there are also several reasons to be skeptical of what the Standard is saying:

1. Proportional fonts were used in the 1970s. IBM made typewriters that had not only proportional fonts but interchangeable ones; I know, because I bought and used a second-hand one around 1975.

2. I don't see how anyone could say the font is identical to Times New Roman. Look at the half-size image or download the PDFs (back) , type out some lines of the memoes for yourself, and compare. The digitized images are simply too coarse and too aliased for a definitive judgement to me made. Proportional, however, the fonts are.

3. The apostrophes issue is dealt with in point 1.

4. The superscripting is also dealt with in point 1. See also Josh Marshall.

Issues not raised by the Standard:

1. The baselines of the memoes certainly vary. That is, some of the letters are a little higher than others, some a little lower. This is characteristic of the typewriter, a mechanical device. Though this effect could be duplicated with a typesetting package, it's hard to imagine someone working hard on a sophisticated effect like that, and then messing up a simple issue like fonts.

2. The "counters" of the letters (for example, the hole in the donut of an "o") are filled in, at least as far as I can tell in the digital reproduction). This too is characteristic of the typewriter, and a sophisticated effect.


3. The winger scenario—the CBS memos were "crude forgeries" ginned up in Word—would depend on the documents being laser printed, yes? But a laser printed letter, with toner laid down on top of the paper, and a typewritten letter, which shows the physical impact of keys striking the paper, would take a layperson about two seconds to distinguish. (There would probably also be carbon paper smears on the paper as well.) Presumably, someone at CBS took two seconds to look at the letters, and saw that they weren't laser printed, but were done on a typewriter. (Incompetent as they are, they can hardly be that incompetent.) The alternative theory is that CBS knew they were forgeries and went ahead anyhow, but that enters Protocols of the Elders of Zion territory.

Kevin Drum notes that CBS is very confident of the authenticity of the memos. It would be nice if we all could share that same confidence, if only because the wingers are dragging the debate back into "he said/she said" territory. The Standard has a series of suggestions that boil down to setting up people so that that Karl Rove can put horse's heads in their beds. I don't think so. It would be nice to know that the age of the ink on the memoes had been tested.

NOTE Interestingly, the White House didn't claim they were forged, and indeed released copies of them—that is, copies of CBS's copies (here). It would be like Rove to plant forgeries for CBS to find; perhaps through an associate of Killian that they got to. If that is so, CBS is in possession of an even bigger story.

UPDATE Then again, I'm no Photoshop expert. See Stirling Newbery at Kos.

UPDATE What Kerry should say:

If asked, only if asked:

"These are VERY serious charges. If there is any doubt if these documents are authentic, CBS needs to let us hear from the experts authenticating these memos. Because there is nothing more scurilous than degrading an honorable soldier's service record."
(via alert reader SusanG at

Election Fraud 2004: California joins Bev Harris in whistleblower suit against Diebold 

Excellent! The big guys are jumping in!

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer joined a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that voting equipment company Diebold Inc. sold the state shoddy hardware and software, exposing elections to hackers and software bugs.

California's Alameda County also joined the false claims case, originally filed by a computer programmer and voting rights advocate. Faulty equipment in the March primary forced at least 6,000 of 316,000 voters in the county east of San Francisco to use backup paper ballots instead of the paperless voting terminals.

The lawsuit is the first e-voting case to rely on an obscure legal provision for whistleblowers who help the government identify fraud. Programmer Jim March and activist Bev Harris, who first filed the case in November, are seeking full reimbursement for Diebold equipment purchased in California.

Because the lawsuit relies on an obscure provision called "qui tam," March and Harris could collect up to 30 percent of a reimbursement. The state could collect triple damages from Diebold, or settle out of court.

The attorney general's decision to join the e-voting lawsuit is unusual. The government declines to participate in about 70 percent of all qui tams filed, said Bob Bauman, a private investigator and former government consultant.

"The state clearly believes there's merit to the case," said Berkeley, Calif., attorney Lowell Finley, who represents March and Harris. "This is a significant event and good news for us."

Earlier this year, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley banned one Diebold system after he found uncertified software that "jeopardized" the outcome of elections in several counties, and state voting officials began considering filing a criminal lawsuit against the company.

Lockyer spokesman Tom Dresslar said the decision to join the lawsuit came after months of investigating problems with Diebold equipment. In the March primary, 573 of 1,038 polling places in San Diego County failed to open on time because of computer malfunctions.

Qui tam -- often used to find fraud involving Medicare or defense contracts -- is a provision of the Federal Civil False Claims Act. Some states have similar acts. Individuals tip off the government to embezzlers or shoddy contractors, and the whistleblowers collect as much as 30 percent of the reimbursement.
(via Newsday)

Interesting... Wonder if some Army private could use qui tam to cut 30% of Halliburton's no-bid billions?

Abh Ghraib torture: Army "loses" evidence 

Unbelievable? All too believable!

The military has lost key evidence in its investigation into the death of an Iraqi man beaten by Marine prison guards, throwing into doubt the status of a court-martial of one of the guards.

The missing evidence includes bones taken from the throat and chest of Nagem Hatab, attorneys said Thursday at a hearing for Maj. Clarke Paulus.

Hatab, 52, died last year at a makeshift camp in Iraq that was run by Marines. He had been rumored to be an official of Saddam Hussein's Baath party and part of the ambush of a U.S. Army convoy that killed 11 soldiers and led to the capture of Pfc. Jessica Lynch and five others.

The missing bones are just one of several errors in the investigation that came to light at Thursday's hearing.

Hatab's organs, which were removed during autopsy, were subsequently destroyed when they were left for hours in the blazing heat on an Iraqi airstrip. A summary of an interrogation the Marines conducted with Hatab shortly before his death at the camp also is missing, as is a photo of Hatab that was taken during questioning.
(via AP)

Well, well, well. There is, I believe, such a thing as military honor. The torturers have defiled it. So has anyone aiding them by, oh, "losing" body parts, records, etc. This administration really does corrupt whatever it touches, doesn't it?

Darfur: Powell Says It's Genocide 

Reporting today to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the results of current U.S. fact-finding in Darfur, Secretary Of State Powell finally uses the "g" word. This comes at the beginning of scheduled debate at the UN on whether to use sanctions against the government in Khartoum; the Bush administration's willingness to use that word should be an indication to all involved that Khartoum's policy of successive false concessions with no other purpose than delay, delay, delay is no longer viable.

I know that all of our attention is rightly focused on the presidential campaign, but it makes me feel better to be able to applaud Colin Powell and even the Bush administration for something. Don't worry, I'm not suggesting that the responsibility for the lethal partisanship that disfigures our political discourse resides anywhere else but at the doorstep of the current American right wing and the Republican party which it dominates.

You can find the BBC on Powell here, and and a photojournal of a first-person account by an actual refugee here; in fact, the BBC has a lot of that kind of thing about Darfur.

I know there's a tendency not to want to know specifics, but I've talked to too many refugees forced from their homes, their very lives, by the deliberate use of terror and violence and I know too well the real if inadequate comfort they find in the thought that the world outside will one day know what has and is happening to them, and that the world will care, not to look at the photographs, or not to read the personal accounts that help restore to the sufferers a fuller human identity than is contained in the word, "victim."

Don't forget the blog, "Sudan, The Passion Of The Present," the place to look for the most up-to-date reporting and analysis of this gathering tragedy. Of particular interest, getting back to politics, is this posted editorial by Fred Hyatt of the Wa Po discussing why the what's to be done about a situation like Darfur and the Sudan hasn't become a subject of debate, or at least discussion in the presidential campaign.

The strongest link between this exotic distant tragedy and our obssession with our own national politics is in the performance of the press, which Jeanne at Body & Soul lays out in this wonderful don't-miss essay that examines different kinds of press silences from Darfur, to the Beslan tragedy in Russia, to Iraq and here. And take a look at her not unrelated brilliant comparison of "Putin And Bush" and their war on terror.

When you've finished with all of the above, then and only then can you collect your postive reinforcement for such studious diligence by paying a visit to Fafblog, where you will find the Medium Lobster quite upset with the quibbling of Will Saletin and Paul Krugman about the greatness of George Bush, as well as Fafner's harrowing account of being taken for a terrorist by Tom Ridge himself.

More props for Paul Lukasiak 

Kudos (or do we say "mad props") to Froomkin for giving kudos to Salon for giving Kudos
to Paul Lukasiak
the Jedi Master of the Bush payroll records (back).

Wish I had time to check the new, exhaustive examination of Bush's payroll records from Useless News against what's been up on Paul's AWOL Project site for months, sigh... Readers?


did Cheney push the panic button the other day?

I think we all know the answer to that question now, don't we?

This White House's political strategy is cratering before our very eyes as lie after lie is uncovered.

I'm assuming Americans are smart enough to recognize it when they see it.


That last statement may be a mistake. I'm sure the media whores will try to convince us there's nothing to see here. Move along.

UPDATE: Oh yeah. As expected, Glenn's blog over in hacktopia already has links to some pretty pathetic attempts to defend the regime from these latest charges of mendacity.

I especially love Glenn's comment that "it seems [Bush] put in more hours in the air than Kerry did in Swift boats." Pitiful.

That's true, Glenn. All those hours flying around protecting Galveston from seagulls have to be taken into account I guess.

Glenn really is just a Bush-loving hack, isn't he?

Lee Are Not Amused 

Lee's Summit is a Kansas City suburb on the Missouri side of the line. It's the next city down from Independence MO--you know, where Harry Truman was from?

(via KansasCityStar)
Some Lee's Summit residents upset that Republicans were allowed to hold a Bush campaign rally at a public high school will take their objections up with the school board tonight.

The meeting was requested in a letter sent to the school district Wednesday.

President Bush and several other Republican politicians spoke at Lee's Summit High School on Tuesday morning. The by-ticket-only event was attended by 15,000 people; 2,000 were students and school staff. Only students with parental permission could opt out of attending. Nine chose not to go.

In the letter, residents complained that a partisan rally “should not have been held in a facility that was paid for and is maintained by taxpayers' dollars during student instruction time.

Jane Gibler, author of the letter, said hundreds of residents have signed the letter objecting to the rally for a variety of reasons.

Board president Patti Buie and Superintendent Tony Stansberry defended the district, saying they felt that having a president speak at the high school posed a once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity.

Residents want the board to apologize for the partisan nature of the event and for any offense it caused. The letter also asks “that in the nature of fairness,” the board invite the Democratic Party and John Kerry to use the high school for a similar event, and to consider a policy against holding any other political campaign events during the school day in the future.
Since the KCStar requires registration, this is pretty much the whole story. Note the questions neither answered nor asked: did the RNC pay the school district for the use of this building? How about covering costs for security?

And damn but I hope the DNC is on the phone even as we speak, arranging an appearance for JFK in this hall.

UPDATE: I just realized after looking at the Washington Chestnut below, that this is one of the stories on that page! Look at "Bush Weighs Opt-Out Options in Missouri" down in the lower right.

I'm still looking for the "attentive hens" piece, I bet that's a blockbuster. And we know we can count on Lambert for more on the Goat of Alabama. I'm sure all that talk about possible involvement in Satanic rituals is just vile rumor of a partisan nature. The fact that the goat bears a scary resemblance to Zell Miller is a clue. Troubling....very troubling.

Your Morning Chestnut 


The Vice of Impunity 

As long as we're talking about impunity, it is worth looking at the works of the guy who assured us today that a vote for Kerry makes it more likely that we will be attacked by terrorists.

Via Juan Cole
Cheney, Halliburton and Iraq:
The Purloined Letter

Why was Dick Cheney so eager to invade Iraq? Why did he repeatedly link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda after September 11, and why did he maintain that not only did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction but that he, Cheney, knew exactly where they were?

Cheney clearly came into office wanting a war on Iraq, as revealed by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil.

Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton in 1995-200. Halliburton is a corporation that does a number of things, including energy and oil and military contracting.

In 2001, Halliburton won a contract from the Department of Defence to provide "emergency services" to the Pentagon. The contract was above-board. Bids were taken from five competitors, and Halliburton won with the low bid. There was nothing illegal or irregular about such a process. But that contract may explain Cheney and his gang on Iraq.

In Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter," the blackmail note that the police are looking for is in plain sight. It isn't hidden, just crumpled as though it were trash. The police don't bother to examine it for that reason.

It is the contract itself that is the scam. It is quite simple. A standing contract to provide "emergency services" to the Pentagon is a potential gold mine under exactly one circumstance. If a major war breaks out, the need for "emergency services" will inevitably be enormous. The contract was worth billions. But only if there was a war. If there was peace, the need for "emergency services" would be small. Halliburton was not doing that well. It needed the big bucks.(snip)

Part two of the scam is also in plain view. It is the very idea that "emergency services" should and could be supplied to the US military by a private company.

The fact is that civilian employees of private firms cannot be ordered into a war zone. Halliburton, and its subsidiary Kellog, Root and Brown, was to supply air-conditioned quonset huts to the US troops for summer, 2003. It did not do so. It could not do so. Once the guerrilla war broke out, it was impossible to get enough civilian workers out to the troop positions to build the quonset huts and put in airconditioning. As a result, US troops "looked like hobos and lived like pigs" in the words of one, with their shaving cream cans exploding in the 140 degrees heat.

If, on the other hand, US troops had been assigned to build the quonset huts and put in the airconditioning, that could easily have been accomplished.

So, the "emergency services contract" was a boondoggle only in the case of a war, but in case of a war, many of the services contracted for could not actually be supplied, at least in a timely manner.
Do go read the whole thing. Professor Cole has links in great abundance, many dots are connected. If you should be talking to anyone, particularly one old enough to remember World War II, about the basic goodness of the Bush/Cheney team, just ask them how they could bring themselves to vote for a war profiteer.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


So, here's the document; Bush disobeyed a direct order. I wonder why?

NOTE CBS has posted the four memos that show this; this is from the August 1 memo (see the sidebar at left).

NOTE Three points:

(1) the story is no longer "he said/she said" (back).

(2) On the new documents: There are three versions of the dish.

The mild version is that Bush was a mediocre pilot, based on his points. The spicy version is that Bush used political influence to get into the guard, and to get out of it. The extra spicy version is that Bush disobeyed orders—for reasons we don't (yet) know. The beauty part is that all the versions are true! But I think the extra spicy dish, as always, is the one to go for.

(3) Bush then is Bush now ("Culture of impunity" (back)—meaning that Bush's claims to have been "born again" are the same old load of Bushwa, since He behaved the same way before, and after. The master narrative of Bush's life is the same as everything else about the man: a fake and a fraud.

Goodnight, moon 

Mmmm, popcorn. In the immortal words of Marlon Brando, "Get the butter" ...

The interesting thing about the Bush AWOL saga, now grinding to some sort of hideous climax, is that at its heart there is an unanswered question:

Why did Bush disobey a direct order and refuse to take a medical exam?

Wouldn't it be one of life's beautiful little ironies if Kitty Kelley's long-awaited book gave the answer to that question?

Bush AWOL: "Failed to follow a direct order" 

Well, well. My understanding is that usually the military takes a dim view of this sort of behavior. I wonder why they treated Bush differently? And why Bush felt he could disobey with impunity? And why he disobeyed?

WaPo's headline:

Records Say Bush Balked at Order

Note well that this takes the story out of the "he said/she said" "balanced" mode.

Bush failed to carry out a direct order from his superior in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1972 to undertake a medical examination that was necessary for him to remain a qualified pilot, according to documents made public yesterday.

Documents obtained by the CBS News program "60 Minutes" shed new light on one of the most controversial episodes in Bush's military service, when he abruptly stopped flying and moved from Texas to Alabama to work on a political campaign. The documents include a memo from Bush's squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, ordering Bush "to be suspended from flight status for failure to perform" to U.S. Air Force standards and failure to take his annual physical "as ordered."
(via WaPo)

You know, it's kind of like the Iraq war, isn't it? That was "controversial" too—except the blogosphere, using those old-fashioned and oh-so-unbalanced Enlightenment tools called "evidence" and "reasoning" got to the story a lot earlier than the SCLM did. (Atrios gives a well-deserved shout-out to Paul Lukasiak here (see also here).

And readers! It couldn't hurt to drop Kristoff a line and remind him of Paul Lukasiak's work. Just to keep the story alive, you know....Heck Salon did..

The Boy in the Bubble 

I'm having a little cognitive dissidence on this one:

President Bush may skip one of the three debates that have been proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates and accepted by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Republican officials said yesterday.

The officials said Bush's negotiating team plans to resist the middle debate, which was to be Oct. 8 in a town meeting format in the crucial state of Missouri.

The audience for the second debate, to be at Washington University in St. Louis, was to be picked by the Gallup Organization. The commission said participants should be undecided voters from the St. Louis area.

A presidential adviser said campaign officials were concerned that people could pose as undecided when they actually are partisans.
(via WaPo)

Weird. I mean, it's weird that Bush is heroic enough to defend the country against evil, but he isn't heroic enough to take questions from someone he's afraidconcerned might be a partisan. WTF? I mean, how could there be any questions that The Chosen One could be unprepared to answer?

Even weirder is the fact that Bush has the solution to people posing as partisans—after all, if Bush has people at his own rallies sign loyalty oaths (back) that they're going to vote for Him (not that voting for Him is really necessary, you understand), why not just have people at the debate sign a loyalty oath that they're still undecided?

And anyhow, if a partisan somehow sneaks into the debate and does something like wear a Kerry button or T-Shirt or act in any way that is not suitably worshipfu, Bush can just have them arrested! (back) Or stomp them (back)

So what's the deal here?

Bush AWOL: The culture of impunity 

I think the media needs to stop being so mean to Dear Leader. It's mean to say that Bush was a deserter—but to back it up with documents? That's really crossing the line. CBS:

What has never surfaced before, reports CBS News Anchor Dan Rather, are four documents from the personal files of Col. Jerry Killian, Mr. Bush's squadron commander. They could help answer lingering questions on whether Lt. Bush received special consideration during his military service.

Mmmm... Forget the special considerations—that's a given (see Ben Barnes). What we want to know is whether Bush broke the law.

The first memo is a direct order to take "an annual physical examination" – a requirement for all pilots.

The impunity: Bush disobeys the order. This would be the medical examination Bush didn't take—after taking the exam would have involved a drug test (back).

Another memo refers to a phone call from the lieutenant in which he and his commander "discussed options of how Bush can get out of coming to drill from now through November." And that due to other commitments "he may not have time."

The impunity: Normally, in the military, you make the time for it, not the other way round. "commitment"?

On August 1, 1972, Col. Killian grounded Lt. Bush for failure to perform to U.S. Air Force/Texas Air National Guard standards and for failure to take his annual physical as ordered.

The impunity: Grounding is a penalty for disobeying a direct order?

A year after Lt. Bush's suspension from flying, Killian was asked to write another assessment.

Killian's memo, titled 'CYA' reads he is being pressured by higher-ups to give the young pilot a favorable yearly evaluation; to, in effect, sugarcoat his review. He refuses, saying, "I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job."

[T]wo official memos seem to contradict previous White House statements.

One "orders" the president to report for a physical. The White House has said the physical was "not necessary" because the president stopped flying.

The impunity: Bush decides what is "necessary," not his commanding officers.

And where the White House says the president's flying status was revoked simply for missing that physical, the memo points to both the missed physical and "failure to perform to (USAF/TexANG) standards."

It's not just the newly discovered memos causing trouble. There are new questions as to why, when he moved to Massachusetts to attend Harvard Business School, Mr. Bush did not sign up with a reserve unit there, as he promised in a letter when he left the Texas National Guard.

Because He could?

And why, with his erratic attendance record, he was subject to neither discipline nor active duty call-up as provided for in his contract with the Guard.

Because He had juice?

Larry Korb, an assistant Secretary of Defense under President Reagan has reviewed the Mr. Bush's record and believes he did not fulfill his contract.
"Essentially, Bush gamed the system to avoid serving his country the way that most of his contemporaries had to," Korb said.
(via CBS)

The impunity: Bush "gamed the system." (Of course, Reagan DOD officials are all in the tank for the Democrats...)

The money quote in Walter Robinson's story sums up Bush's impunity nicely—yes, all the way at the end:

''It appears that no one wanted to hold him accountable," said retired Major General Paul A. Weaver Jr., who retired in 2002 as the Pentagon's director of the Air National Guard.
(via the Boston Globe)

Throughout Bush's life, (1) people never hold Him accountable for anything, and (2) He doesn't believe they have any right to.

That's the story of Bush's "service" in the Guard; that's the story of Bush's term in office. The fact that between them Bush was "born again" makes no difference to his character or his behavior. Classic example: Try (1) to hold Bush accountable on the missing WMDs, and what (2) does He answer? "What's the difference?" Subtext: You have no right to question me.

It's a culture of impunity that is rapidly taking hold in this country, and Bush is doing everything He can to foster it.

Fortunately, in November, we have the opportunity to hold him accountable... We hope....

Another Corner Turned: 1002 And Still Counting 

And that's just counting deaths among the liberators. Among the liberated, estimated deaths range from 7 to 10,000, and not only the deaths of young men and woman, but also of children of all ages, adult civilians of all ages, people who are mothers, and fathers, sons and daughters, uncles and aunts, grandparents, cousins, friends and neighbors.

The numbers for the wounded Americans and Iraqis are higher by a factor of seven, or even ten, as far as I can tell. And we are talking about greivous injuries.

The turning of this particular corner of over a thousand Americans having died in Iraq is a fairly arbitrary milestone, but it deserves its moment of respect and contemplation. I believe there is a sacramental element threaded through our everyday life that demands of us, as Arthur Miller would have it, that we pay attention, and that such attention sometimes requires a ceremonial expression.

That is not an entirely comfortable position to hold for someone like myself, a non-believing Jew whose connection to the 5000 years old "faith of her fathers" is focused on history and tradition, but not formal religious participation. I'm aware, too, that having to concoct your own ad hoc ceremonies on an "as needed" basis lacks a good deal of the dignity and resonance offered by the great traditional world religions. I'm not uncomfortable being in a synogogue, or a cathedral, or a church, or a Quaker meeting hall, or a mosque, or a zen monastary, or at a Hindu puja, all places that at various points in my life I've found friends and solice. But one believes what one believes.

So today, I will take time to think about this war of ours in Iraq, how we got there, and what we do now, and in the future. I hope to be as critical of my own positions and choices as I am of others.

But mostly I will pay attention to specific stories about the sacrifice and suffering of particular people, Americans and Iraqis, who have and continue to struggle to keep the reality on the ground in Iraq from slipping into irredeemable tragedy

And while I'm on this subject, something I've been wanting to say about the nearly universal criticism of Michael Moore aabout his inclusion in "Farhenheit 911,"of scenes of Iraqis in the ordinary tasks of daily life, without any mention of Saddam Hussein. John McCain referred to it in his speech at the RNC, noting that this disingenous filmmaker seemed to have an idyllic view of life in Saddam's Iraq. The MSNBC pundit panel really groved on that one.

Nonsense. Astonishing isn't it, the phillistinism present among our elite gasbags, who are as unfamiliar with documentary film as a form as they are unaware of their own ignorance? What, a "documenatary" with staged elements? That's right, Mr. Scarborough and allow me to introduce you to Robert Flaherty, whose great "Nanook Of The North" was almost enirely staged. What, a documentary with a subjective point of view? Allow me to introduce Alain Resnais, whose "Night & Fog" used footage of the Holocaust in a subjective examination of whether or not it is possible to make a documentary about the Holocaust.

Hardly surprising, then, that Senator McCain has no idea how to read Moore's documentary, nor understood that Michael Moore was under no obligation to directly reference the point that Saddam Hussein was a monstrous tyrant. Detailed knowledge of Saddam's tyrannies over the Iraqi people had become common knowledge in the world for which Moore was making his film; after months of almost obssessive public discussion of those facts, Michael had every right to assume all members of his audience would be throughly acquainted with them.

The point of the shots of ordinary Iraqis in the act of being human, neighborhood kids playing, women hanging up the wash, was precisely to insist on their full identity as human beings, against their proscribed identity as singularly Saddam's victims in most pre-invasion discusions, as if pre-invasion Iraq was a concentration camp and Iraqis were helpless inmates.

Americans and Iraqis. Are they "them," as against our "us." Or, are "they" part of our "we?" It's that conundrum Moore's film confronts, with a good deal more honesty than do any of the writings of Andrew Sullivan or David Brooks.

For a sense of Iraqis as specific people who take their place in a specific, complex culture, I can think of nothing better than Riverbend's "Baghdad Burning." She hasn't posted since early August, but you can read her archives, as I did this morning; you'll find them to be as fresh and instructive as when you first read them.

For a sense of what it is like for American troops on the ground in Iraq I know of no better reporting than Nir Rosen's in this five part series from October 2003 that was published in the AsiaTimes. Rosen is rightly getting wider attention, and if you missed his Report From Fallujah from a July issue of The New Yorker, it's not too late to get to it.

In addition, if you haven't developed the habit of checking in on a regular basis at Occupation Watch, you should. The material there is remarkable. It's point of view is essentially Iraqi, even though it is made up of supporters from around the world. It opposes the occupation, but non-violently and with compassion, even for the American soldiers who are called upon to carry it out. Right now, they have up a plea for the release if the Italian and Iraqi aid workers just abducted in Baghdad:

Another book I'll be reading today is one I've mentioned before. "TWILIGHT OF EMPIRE: Responses to Occupation" a collection of essays published in 2003, that is lavishly illustrated with some extraordinary photographs taken in Iraq that are both beautiful and disquieting. The book was edited by Mark LeVine, a professor at UC-Irvine, who speaks Arabic and seems to have an amazing background on the ground in the Middle East and by the actor, Viggo Mortensen, whose Perceval Press is also the book's publisher, something I hadn't realized when I first recommended it.

There are some well known names among the essayists, Naomi Klein, Mike Davis, Amy Goodman, Medea Benjamin, and members of her group, Code Pink, whose political choises I don't always agree with, but whose work forging global links between people who are committed to non-violent, radical, in the best sense of that word, change, I admire and support. Christian Parenti has an eye-opening essay about being on the ground with our troops in Iraq, "Stretched Thin, Lied To, And Mistreated." The most compelling voices belong to Iraqi's and Arab journalists.

There is something healing about the care and even love with which the book has been produced; it feels beautiful in one's hands, as well as to look at and read. It's available at Amazon, although the last time I looked, (I've bought it as a gift for a number of people), several of its marketplace associates will get it to you faster than Amazon itself)

And finally, since the sacred needn't exclude humor, if you missed the night in December of 2002 when Peter Jackson and members of his cast were gathered on The Charlie Rose Show to discuss the second installment of "The Lord Of The Rings," but Rose, whose war intoxication was evident on any show where politics was the subject, couldn't keep himself from asking what political point Viggo Mortensen was raising by the t-shirt he was wearing under his jacket, that displayed the phrase "No More Blood for Oil" apparently painted on it by the actor himself. Mortensen quietly explains that normally he wouldn't be making a political point in such a context, but that he's been disturbed by the number of comments he's heard the use the films and the Tolkein book as an inspiration/justification for American policy in the world after 9/11. While you can see that Mortensen is torn, taking up time meant to discuss a film about which he cleary cares deeply, but wanting to keep the record straight about too facile self-serving interpretations of the films' emphasis on war, CharlieRose lets the segment get away from him because he's itching to take on Mortensen's arguments, and he does manage to get in that classic meant-to-be-a zinger - "Well, what kind of response should we have had to 9/11?" It's fun to watch it with hindsight, and one of the few times it's possible look back at how we got to where we are today without descending into rage.

You can find a video clip of the first half of the show here; the portion in question is about nine minutes into the show. The second half is confined to discussion of the film, but for anyone interested it can be found here.

corrente SBL - New Location
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~ Since 2003 ~

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