August 24, 2004

How Low Can They Go?

  • Robert Dole seemed to gain some stature in his later years. He went from being Gerald Ford's hatchet man in 1976, leaning on one arm on the podium, talking out of the side of his mouth, to the voice of doom who promised to block Clinton at every turn, to an older man who had a sense of humor and showed some humanity. Maybe it was just because the radical right became so screamingly extreme that he looked good in contrast. It was embarrassing when he started doing Viagra commercials and then followed it with a Pepsi commercial in which he was shown getting hot for Brittany Spears, but he still seemed to have gained some humanity in his later years. But now he's dropped back into the gutter with remarks about Kerry that are lower than low. Dole has done a classic Republican inversion in saying that Kerry brought all this slander on himself, the reasoning being, apparently, that since Kerry had the audacity to draw attention to his war record as a campaign theme, he deserved to be torn down with lies. Smear campaigns seem to be the only kind of politics the Republicans understand. So if one raises a campaign issue -- implicitly in this case George W. Bush's obvious unfitness for command -- then to them that makes it fair game for a smear campaign.

  • Dole may have a mangled arm and some medals himself, but nothing gives him the right to say that Kerry "never bled that I know of." That is an unbelievably crass and undignified statement to make about anyone who was wounded in war, especially coming from a combat veteran, but it's also just stupid and defies logic. How could Kerry get schrapnel in his leg without bleeding? Is Dole accusing Kerry of being an inhuman blimp, a wad of flesh without veins and capillaries? How can people get away with such ludicrous statements? Then, with a degree of hypocrisy few are capable of, he says Kerry is "a good friend..." I wonder what kinds of daggers Dole sticks into the backs of his enemies.
  • Dole's war record itself, by the way, is not quite perfect.
  • To Maureen Dowd, it all makes perfect sense: surrogates fight for Bush now as they did in Vietnam.
  • Chicago Tribune editor William Rood came out with a vengeance against the lies of the Swift Boat Goons.
  • Veterans who support Kerry are striking back. La Crosse Tribune
  • Big Lies for Bush: Boston Globe
  • An editorial in Business Week, called "Flinging the Foul Mud of Vietnam" says: "It's time for Bush in particular -- and Americans in general -- to get on the right side of this issue once and for all. No moral equivalency exists between Kerry and Bush on the issue of service in Vietnam. Kerry served in combat. He was shot at. Not Bush. If you don't think it's important for a President to have served in combat, fine, make your choice on other grounds. But if you do, Kerry is your man, at least on this one issue. The Bush campaign and editorial writers are calling on Kerry to distance himself from the MoveOn ads in the same breath that the Kerry campaign and editorialists are asking Bush to renounce the Swift-boat vets' ads. Kerry has repudiated the MoveOn ad (after some prodding from McCain)."
  • Bush won't disavow the Swift Boat Bullshitters, but instead says all political ads outside of the main parties should be outlawed. Perfect Bushian answer. AP
  • The Not-So-Swift Vets
  • Veterans join the chorus telling Bush to denounce the Swift Boat ad. Boston Herald
  • Ian Matthews on Bush the AWOL guardsman. Working for Change
  • Oliphant: When it's all over, the smear may hurt Bush. Let's hope so. Boston Globe
  • Cowards Every One -- Why isn't the media looking at the Republican side of the military service issue? This is the white brontosaurus in the middle of the teepee that none of those respectable institutions are commenting on. According to Michael Tomasky of American Prospect, "The larger story here is clear: John Kerry volunteered for the Navy, volunteered to go to Vietnam, and then, when he was sitting around Cam Ranh Bay bored with nothing to do, requested the most dangerous duty a Naval officer could be given. He saved a man's life. He risked his own every time he went up into the Mekong Delta. He did more than his country asked. In fact he didn't even wait for his country to ask. George W. Bush spent those same years in a state of dissolution at Yale, and would go on, as we know, to plot how to get out of going to Southeast Asia. On that subject, here's a choice quote. 'I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment,' Bush told the Dallas Morning News in 1990. 'Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes.'"
  • The Mind of a Republican Sociopath -- When Bush's religion adviser was forced to quit because of allegations of sexual harassment, he gave us a rare glimpse into the psychology of Bush-style Republicans. The basic modus operandi is: lie, lie, deny, blame someone else. But in some of the less practiced members of the group, it's sometimes a little more transparent. When Deal W. Hudson announced Wednesday on the National Review website that he was leaving his position in the Bush campaign, he said it was because "a liberal Catholic newspaper" was about to publish an investigation detailing "allegations from over a decade ago involving a female student at the college where I then taught." No matter how unjustifiable his own position, he goes on the offensive. This was the strategy Nixon perfected. It's not me, it's those damn Catholic liberals. Never miss a chance to use hatred and bigotry to divide your enemies to your own advantage. It's always good to try to muster a little bit of fake humility and sanctimoniousness: "No one regrets my past mistakes more than I do," Hudson wrote (now that they are out in the open). Then of course, the Bush answer to every charge. It's "political." The incident, he said, is "now being dug up, I believe, for political reasons." Washington Postl

    LINKS TO SHARE

    August 25, 2004

  • The Rambo Coalition, by Paul Krugman -- It's all in their minds. New York Times
  • Attack on Kerry's war record riles GOP rep. jsonline.com
  • Bush's phony medals. He was photographed wearing a medal he didn't earn. In his family, you didn't have to tell the truth. You could make things up as you went along and people would go along with it. Your family would cover for you, or someone else would. Democratic Underground
  • Phony Claim of Air Force Service -- When he ran for Congress in 1978, Bush claimed to be an Air Force veteran. According to David Corn of The Nation, "In 1978, Bush, while running for Congress in West Texas, produced campaign literature that claimed he had served in the US Air Force. According to a 1999 AP report, Bush's congressional campaign ran a pullout ad in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that declared he had served 'in the US Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard where he piloted the F-102 aircraft.' Bush lost that congressional race, but twenty-one years later, the AP questioned him about the ad. The news outlet had a good reason to do so. Bush had never served in the Air Force. He had only been in the Air National Guard. But when AP asked Bush if he had been justified in claiming service in the Air Force, Bush, then the governor of Texas and a presidential candidate, said, 'I think so, yes. I was in the Air Force for over 600 days'... "
  • LA Times: The Accusations Against Kerry Are False. LA Times
  • Questions about Bush's Guard service still unanswered -- USA Today
  • Vets call on prosecutor to resign because of statements in anti-Kerry ad. ABC News
  • Rumsfeld "approved techniques" at Abu Ghraib, was "indirectly responsible" for abuses, according to a panel chaired by former Sec of Defense James Schlesinger. "Shortly after the scandal erupted President Bush rejected calls for Rumsfeld's resignation, saying the defense secretary was doing a 'superb job.' Bush also described the abuse as the work of 'a small number' of soldiers. The Schlesinger panel however said in its report that 300 cases of abuses being investigated, many beyond Abu Ghraib. 'So the abuses were not limited to a few individuals.'" Reuters
  • Fear and Smear -- "The Bush campaign and its allies have turned to the tactics of fear and smear because they can't talk about jobs, health care, energy independence and rebuilding our alliances - the real issues that matter to the American people," said Kerry. News24
  • Slanderer Worked for Bush (uniter not divider...) -- Kerry aides note that one of the veterans in the group's ads served until late last week as a coordinator for veterans issues for the Bush campaign. They also point out that a Bush headquarters in Florida was caught organizing rallies touting the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." They also point to a New York Times report that several backers of the group's ad campaign have close ties to the Bush family. Yahoo
  • More connections with Bushes and Swifties. Dallas News
  • Fahrenheit 911: The Beginning of History, an eloquent piece on Moore's film. The Guardian

    MEDIA ROULETTE

    August 26, 2004

    Why Did He Say It?

  • Now Cheney says he opposes Bush's gay marriage ban. What is this? It was crazy enough when Cheney supported the bizarre amendment proposal. His turning against it is weird. Are they getting a little desperate? Is this a ploy to sweeten the deal a little bit? As if putting a dash of sugar in a very sour broth? (See MTV)

    So what is his game? Nothing these guys do is not carefully crafted political strategy. Certainly nothing we ever hear about them saying or doing in public falls out of that category. So it's irrelevant what Cheney really thinks about this absurd non-issue. All that matters is what is the strategy?

    He will say whatever is politically expedient. Why then is this statement considered advantageous? To soften Cheney's image. Play those words again, real slow: soften Cheney's image. Doesn't it grate on the nerves? As if it embodies a contradiction, an irresolvable contradiction in terms within a single expression. This is the guy, remember, that wanted to keep Nelson Mandela in jail. He's barely up to the 18th Century in social evolution. He's back with the Medieval fiefdoms.

    So of course it's a ploy to broaden "the base," the abiding obsession of the Bushies. But it may not be possible. These guys are not likely to win too many people over at this point to the idea that they are nice. That may just not be an idea that can sell at this point. Yes, it appears that they are getting desperate. If the Swift Boat trick backfires on them -- or worse (better) if there is a big backlash against "negative campaigning" i.e. slander and smearing -- then the Bushies won't have much left to pull out of their stinky barrel, except maybe some convenient deaths attributable to lone nuts. Then look out.

    God how happy this country will be to see them wave goodbye! USA Today

  • Republican BigWig Goes After Central Intelligence -- What is this about? Is this more of that theater: (pretend to) divide and (actually) conquer. Like when Bush shot out a very theatrical criticism of the Republican party back in his "Compassionate Conservative" days, "Congress is balancing the budget on the backs of the poor!" It was striking! Oh what a compassionate man! It was a classic political slogan, repeated many times in history, but of course it meant nothing but to position Bush in the gullible public mind as a compassionate man. All of this turned out to be a major bait-and-switch, if you recall. Now the NY Times tells us: "The very idea of dismantling the Central Intelligence Agency, Senator Pat Roberts concedes, is one that he could not have conceived of proposing even a year ago. But the overhaul now being pressed by him and seven other Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee is very much the product of accumulated frustrations, Mr. Roberts said. On the issue of Iraq in particular, but also Sept. 11 and other setbacks, repeated intelligence failures have transformed even Mr. Roberts, a Kansan long regarded as a dependable defender of the C.I.A and a loyal ally of President Bush, into a vociferous critic of intelligence agencies and an impatient second-guesser of the White House's own overhaul plan."
  • Kerry Renews Calls for Rumsfeld to Resign -- Right on! The guy who couldn't be found on the morning of September 11, 2001, when for once his services were needed. He was too busy calculating plans for the conquest of Iraq and with devising legal strategies by which to get around the Geneva Convention laws against torture. Yes! Donald Rumsfeld go back to from where you came from! Farther in fact! CNews
  • No Connection? Plenty of Connections -- Though Bush said he had no connection to the "swift boat" monkeys, we are seeing a lot of people suddenly resign from the Bush machine because of their connections to the group. According to ABC, "One of President Bush's top lawyers resigned from his campaign Wednesday, a day after disclosing that he had given legal advice to a veterans group airing TV ads against Democrat John Kerry. The guidance included checking ad scripts, the group said. Benjamin Ginsberg, who also represented Bush in the 2000 Florida recount that made the Republican president, told Bush in a letter that he felt his legal work for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth had become a distraction for the re-election campaign." Gee, that's a sort of a "connection" isn't it? One of your campaign's lawyers? Oh well, can't expect The President to be aware of all those kinds of details. He's so busy thinking of more important things! Like Running The Country (into the ground). ABC CBS
  • But That's Not All -- "Houston home builder Bob Perry, a key bankroller for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, is listed as the co-host of a New York City fund-raiser next week for the Harris County GOP, whose guest list includes President Bush's top political adviser. Mr. Perry, who has given $200,000 to the veterans' group to help launch the anti-John Kerry ads that question the Democrat's Vietnam War record, has denied any links to Mr. Bush or the national Republican Party regarding the Swift Boat Veterans' campaign." Dallas News
  • George Bush Has Given Us an America that Tortures -- "The general who compiled the latest report on the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military personnel at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison said Wednesday that some of the 44 instances of abuse uncovered in the investigation amounted to torture," reports CNN "There were some instances where torture was being used," Maj. Gen. George Fay said in a news conference about the report the Pentagon released Wednesday.
  • "Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) with the White House asking it to detail its contacts with individuals connected to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT). " Yahoo
  • Another Ex-Swift Boat Skipper comes out for Kerry "For 35 years, Rich Baker seldom talked about Vietnam, Swift boats or John Kerry's ability as a young naval officer... 'George Bush has two silver dental fillings in his teeth to show what he did during the Vietnam War,' Baker said. 'John Kerry has a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.'" Post Gazette
  • A Kansas-based swift boat Veteran backs Kerry "Wayne D. Langhofer, now an employee at a Kansas gunpowder plant, told the Washington Post in yesterday's editions, 'There was a lot of firing going on, and it came from both sides of the river.' Reflecting on the battle in the Bay Hap River, which resulted both in Kerry being awarded the Bronze Star and receiving a third Purple Heart, which allowed him to end his combat tour after just four months, Langhofer said he distinctly remembered the 'clack, clack, clack' of enemy AK-47s, as well as muzzle flashes from the surrounding riverbanks. Langhofer manned a machine gun aboard PCF-43, the boat that was directly behind Kerry's. Rassmann said in an interview with the Post that members of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth "are not just questioning Kerry's account, they are questioning my account. I take that very personally. No one can tell me that we were not under fire. I saw it, I heard the splashes, and I was scared to death. For them to come back 35 years after the fact to tarnish not only Kerry's record, but my veracity, is unconscionable." Boston Globe
  • Bush lied about his service record a number of times It's hard to be a liar when your whole life is on the record. The Nation
  • Cleland: Where is George Bush's honor? Where is his shame? CNN
  • The Vietnam debate breaks in Kerry's favor -- He went. He got shot at. He risked his life. When he got back, yeah, he said it was wrong. Tried to lend a hand to the forces for peace, to stop the war that put people into situations that force them to do things they have a hard time living with for the rest of their lives. Look at the record. Bush used influence to get into a safe place where he would never be sent to Vietnam. He said he did it instead of shooting out his eardrum or going to Canada. No crime, but why are we disputing John Kerry's war record? It's unbelievably weird. Chicago Tribune
  • Dole on his first purple Heart (from his book): "As we approached the enemy, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. I took a grenade in hand, pulled the pin, and tossed it in the direction of the farmhouse. It wasn't a very good pitch, remember, I was used to catching passes, not throwing them. In the darkness, the grenade must have struck a tree and bounced off. It exploded nearby, sending a sliver of metal into my legůthe sort of injury the Army patched up with mercurochrome and a Purple Heart." Village Voice
  • They Can't Afford Bush -- It costs too much money on security when Bush visits small towns. They don't want him. Telegraph
  • The Olympics committee wants Bush to stop infringing on its trademark in his political ads. Yahoo
  • Thatcher's son in court over allegedly participating in a coup. That's an appropriate thing for the son of a neofascist prime minister to be involved in. ABC Matamat
  • Showdown at the Lazy B Ranch -- Max Cleland and Jerry Rassmann want to deliver a letter to Bush in person in Crawford. Yahoo
  • Bonnie Raitt and Howard Zinn on "The Impossible Will Take a Little While" Buzzflash

    PERUSING THE WORLD'S HORROR STAGE

    August 27, 2004

    It may be Pavlovian conditioning from being burned so many times, but just turning on the TV brings an oppressive feeling into the room. Sometimes it feels like the medium itself is malign, issuing some sort of electromagnetic poison. I put it on and start my routine of spinning through 100 channels, stopping at the channel listing to look at the titles, and as soon as I see one of those reality show formats, switching back and forth between baby crisis dramas and big face commentary; or a game show with the contestants behaving like trained rats shot up with dirty speed; or one of those vacant-faced "news" celebrities talking like a machine; or some dullwitted sitcom with rhythmic, hypnotic splashes of canned laughter -- immediately the feeling descend upon me like an anvil on my forehead. It feels like someone has put a metal band around my forehead and his tightening it with slow turns of a finely machined wingnut.

    But maybe it's just me. Flipping around I come onto CSPAN, the only news channel I can think of on the major cable networks that counts as real, and there is a presentation about the 9/11 report with a couple of members of the commission. I thought, "I should listen to this, this is important..." And it is. They were talking about Al Qaeda, how Osama bin Laden and this particular faction is hell bent on destroying America unless we convert to Islam, among other things, like getting out of the Middle East, which to me would be negotiable, though the other requirement is not on the table. And they correctly said that the "War on Terror" is misnamed, that terror is a strategy not an enemy. But they did still drift off into that area of blind "patriotism", really chauvinism and cultural narrowness, getting into one of these sanctimonious rants about how "we" are so fair and reasonable and generous and so forth. There is some sense in which that is true, surely, but it's not a very credible argument to put forth to the rest of the world after what they have seen since the Bush administration came into power: pre-emptive brutal war on false pretenses; shock & awe; torture and torture memos... Talking about how nice and fair and generous we Americans are is not something that will play very well on anyone outside of America. It's only for the American audience. And I'm sure a lot are seizing to be soothed by hearing how great we are as Americans.

    So, important or not, the feeling became so oppressive I had to turn it off.

    Here are some interesting links in case you haven't seen them:

  • Bush overtook Kerry in an LA Times poll after the Swift Boat boys took their pound of flesh. That scum. How can the American people let him get away with this stuff? Bloomberg
  • Always gracious, Bush refused to accept a letter delivered by hand from Max Cleland demanding Bush denounce the Swift Boat lies. Cleland was turned away by Secret Service men. CNN
  • Neo Cons Re-think Iraqi Fiasco -- Steve Weissman Truthout
  • NYTimes flatly dismisses Swift Boat charges. Editor & Publisher
  • Bush Three Card Monte -- "The White House announced this morning that Bush campaign would take legal action to force the Federal Election Commission to crack down on so-called 527 organizations that use a loophole in campaign-finance law to spend unregulated funds... The action promised today by McClellan is largely symbolic. There is virtually no chance that a lawsuit could be resolved before the Nov. 2 election. But the Bush campaign is eager to regain its footing on the issue after Benjamin L. Ginsberg, the chief outside counsel to the campaign, resigned Wednesday after revealing that he had done work for the Swift Boat group. The campaign had denied any ties between it and the Swift boat veterans group. Washington Post
  • Smear Effort Not The Most Swift Of Ideas Daniel Ruth: "If the Swiftboat Veterans Shilling For Karl Rove had any less credibility they'd make Jayson Blair look like Diogenes. Perhaps the political lesson here ought to be that if you are going to attempt to launch a cheesy smear campaign, especially against a presidential candidate, it's probably a good idea not be more tainted than Monica Lewinsky modeling for the Gap. For weeks now, the Swiftboat Veterans For Rent have been flitting about the landscape trying to portray Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry as being more gutless under fire during Vietnam than Robert Vaughan in `The Magnificent Seven.' Gracious, if you believed merely half of what the Swiftboat Veterans For W have been alleging, you might think Kerry had really spent the entire Vietnam War sitting around the Cote d'Azur sipping Campari and reading Marcel Proust in the original French." Tampa Tribune
  • Anti War Iraq veterans, the new kids on the antiwar veterans block. Boston Globe
  • Rove changed his story over contact w/ Swift Boat moneybags Perry Buzzflash
  • Cheney draws fire for bizarre gay comments from whacky rigid conservatives who HATE that point of view, as well as from the other side who knows he's full of it. AOL
  • 9-11 and the 'second Pearl Harbor' By Margie Burns Online Journal
  • Swift boat guy tells different stories about Cambodia -- Democratic Underground
  • Sex pros gear up for Repub convention NY Daily News
  • Father of killed Marine snaps, burns himself and his van. CNN
  • Canadian MP calls Americans idiots -- To quote George H.W. Bush, "I'll never apologize for the United States of America, I don't care what the facts are!" CNN
  • 1.3 million more in poverty, 1.4 million more uninsured last year, the third straight increase for both categories NY Times
  • Chilean Court Lifts Immunity for Pinochet, the butcher of Chile, the comrade of Kissinger and Nixon. Let the trials begin. NY Times
  • Clinton in Dublin. Thousands line the streets to greet him. When Bush goes anywhere, he is protested. How strange it all is. UTV

    WEEKEND REPORT

    August 28, 2004

    Barbarians at the Gate

    The View from Across the Hudson -- Now the Republicans descend upon New York. What a riot! Let me rephrase that. The idea of the Republicans holding their convention to recrown their king in New York City is ludicrous. The Republican spinsters -- namely Rove and the minds that extend from his like tentacles -- have been spinning so furiously for so long, piling so many blatant lies on top of each other, that they seem to practically believe their own fantasies.

    They got this idea that Bush was a great hero after 9/11, and somehow they have gotten a huge portion of the country to believe it. At least up to now, but that number is steadily diminishing as sure as Bush Senior's aura melted after the Gulf War in the middle of his term. New Yorkers didn't see the Trade Center burning on television squeezed in between commercials and narrated by CNN or Fox goons, they saw it with their own eyes, they smelled it, they felt the grime of human destruction collecting in the sweat on their arms. Their policemen and firemen died and many who survived have developed chronic health problems. 9/11 isn't a photo op to be used to re-elect the creep, as it is for Karl Rove and his followers. It is real life.

    While Bush was sitting like an idiot in a grade school classroom in Florida, people in New York were burning and falling 100 stories onto the concrete below. While he was cruising around to Alabama and Nebraska, New Yorkers were dealing with the reality of massive death and destruction. While New York went through its hellish ordeal, Bush and Rumsfeld were missing in action. When Bush came and made his speech at Ground Zero a few days later when his handlers had finally gathered their wits and decided how to utilize the disaster as a political opportunity, people were desperate to believe in a leader, any leader who may help them, protect them. Bush played the role and many people bought it, many still do. But it played much better on TV than it did to New Yorkers.

    They saw Bush promise a big aid package to New York to help it recover from the catastrophe, then later renege without a word of explanation, as his spin-driven administration does with almost every promise. But in New York, people remember like they still remember Gerald Ford's "Drop Dead" during the fiscal crisis in the 1970s. This is not Republicanville, USA.

    They saw the Bush administration use their suffering to promote every brutal program the far right dreamed of, to slash funding for programs that help people survive and to drop the struggle to capture the perpetrators of the crime and channel everything into a crackpot idea to invade Iraq, which had nothing to do with any of the above.

    Hence the CNN poll showing only a 25% approval rating for Bush in New York, 70% disapprove. And approval ratings are the most minimal measure of approval. It's been shown over and over in opinion polls that Bush gets approval ratings from people who dislike everything his administration does. He gets "approval" from many who also say they don't want to re-elect him. Negative approval ratings might better be called loathing ratings.

    Bush's simplistic, fear-based, anti-science, anti-humanistic, far right fundamentalist Christian Medievalism may work for someone in Alabama, but it's not selling too well in Manhattan.

    New York is the most unBush place in the US. If the anti-Bush states are blue, New York is ultraviolet. Republicans who, unlike Bush do not have armored limousines and military escorts are likely to be a little intimidated. These are the people whose world views are dictated by Fox News, who actually believe it, and studies have shown what is obvious: they are scared of almost everything. They think their enemies are all around ready to leap out from behind every corner. New York is not imagined to be a very congenial environment to the Red State types anyway, so now that they are trying to use it as a backdrop to celebrate Bushism, they must be nearly in a frenzy of Fox-inspired panic.

    It's going to be interesting indeed. There will, as always, be the TV fantasy, and then the reality on the street, which people in the Red States will never see. They will see New York through the eyes of Fox.

    Norman Mailer said the Republicans probably want violence to occur so they can use it in their propaganda. Just think, he said, why did the Republicans choose New York for their convention? But Naomi Klein countered that when they chose it, they probably thought they were going to be on a big roll and it would be a glorious setting for their triumph. Support for Bush has unraveled dramatically in the last year.

    Sure, there are plenty of Republicans in New York. Wall Street is a Republican bastion, or rather, the Republican party is a subsidiary of Wall Street. The giant corporate office buildings that cluster in Midtown are the capitol buildings of the corporate state. There are plenty of rich people in New York, although fewer of them are swayed by Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest 5% than in the rest of the country. Here they see in highly concentrated terms what the dismantling of New Deal liberalism means to the quality of life.

    No one knows how this high drama will play out. Bush, in spite of his theatrical bravado, is also a timid little soul in real life, so it's unlikely he will personally see a lot of New York, or it him. He'll stay cloistered and armored in his little Bush fantasy. But for the rest of it, it could be quite a show.

    August 28, 2004

  • Former Texas Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes talks about getting Bush into the Guard. (see Salon) "Let's talk a minute about John Kerry and George Bush and I know them both. And I'm not name dropping to say I know 'em both. I got a young man named George W. Bush into the Texas National Guard when I was Lieutenant Governor and I'm not necessarily proud of that. But I did it. And I got a lot of other people into the National Guard because I thought that's what people should do. If you're in office you help a lot of people, and I walked to the Vietnam Memorial the other day and I looked at the names of the people that died in Vietnam and I became more ashamed of myself than I have ever been because the worst thing that I did was that I helped a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names get into the National Guard and I'm very sorry about that and I'm very ashamed and I apologize to you as voters of Texas." Barnes explained more here: "I was Speaker of the Texas House when George W. Bush went into the National Guard. He got preferential treatment. I know. I gave it to him. His family sent a representative to my office and asked me to move their son up on the waiting list. And I did. It was wrong. He was jumped over hundreds of others in line. Some of them went off to Vietnam and died. I made a mistake supporting that war. And as other, less-privileged kids were going off to be killed, I helped the son of a congressman avoid combat. I wish I had not. But I think it's time people know. And it's time for George W. Bush to stop attacking the people who did serve." See Buzzflash See the video at Austin for Kerry or here.
  • Speaking of Military Records -- Ian Williams, author of Deserter: George W. Bush's War on Military Families, Veterans, and His Past, writes in The Nation "Even allowing for the usual military-bureaucratic incompetence, records relating to George W. Bush's National Guard Service have a suspiciously low survival rate, so there has been understandable incredulity about the recent revelation that a crucial quarter's pay records from 1972 did not survive the Pentagon's alleged attempt to transfer the microfilm to a more durable medium. That incredulity was enhanced rather than allayed when they eventually were discovered behind whichever filing cabinet they had been dropped. At issue is whether Bush was, technically at least, a deserter in his fourth year of National Guard service, when he requested a transfer to Guard duties in Alabama so he could assist a Republican senatorial campaign there. Bush asserts that he turned up and did his duty. However, no one on the base remembers seeing him, including the commanding officer and several other officers who say they were actively looking to network with the hot-shot Texan with the influential father--but waited in vain. The paper record does show that he was ordered to report for a flight medical exam in July 1972, but that Bush 'failed to accomplish' it, and that in September he was ordered to report for an inquiry into why he had not passed. His memories of these momentous events which grounded him and made him unfit for flight duties seem very hazy. The White House says that since the plane he flew was about to be phased out of service, he felt he did not need to maintain his pilot rating. Normally, the Armed Forces do not take kindly to such executive decisions being made by junior officers--and in reality, the Texas Air National Guard was still flying the Delta Dagger that Bush was trained on even after he had gone to Harvard Business School.
  • Bush and Rummy's Crime in Torture's Chain of Command -- Steve Weissman at Truthout
  • Why did Dole get into the sewer slime with Rove? Buzzflash
  • Impeachment Over Iraq War Lies -- According to The Guardian, "Eleven MPs are planning to impeach Tony Blair for 'high crimes and misdemeanours' in taking Britain to war against Iraq, reviving an ancient practice last used against Lord Palmerston more than 150 years ago... Mr Price said he believed the case was compelling. 'To dust off Victorian constitutional histories and examine precedents from the time of Charles I and Chaucer may seem bizarre. But the conduct of the prime minister has left people and parliament with no alternative if we are to preserve the very basis of democracy.'"
  • Right wing protests planned for New York. rightmarch.com
  • The State of the Union 2004 by Gore Vidal in The Nation
  • How Far Will Bush Go to Hold Onto Power? By William Greider. "The Bush campaign strategy is already in play before the GOP convention. The President runs on fear and character assassination--big fear and big lies. ... What this farfetched smear demonstrates for sure, however, is the President's desperation. The man will do anything (didn't we already know that?)." The Nation
  • Save Johnny Cash from the Republicans! John Nichols wrote the Nation, "Though he was not known as an expressly political artist, Cash waded into the controversies of his times with a passion. Like the US troops in Vietnam who idolized him, he questioned the wisdom of that war. And in the mid-1960s, at the height of his success, he released an album that challenged his country's treatment of Native Americans." But, according to The Nation: "But it was his songs which really marked him as a man of the people. He took sides in his songs, and he preferred the side of those imprisoned by the law--and by poverty and hard luck. Yet, this Tuesday the GOP and the American Gas Association, a network of 154 utility multinationals, are shamelessly trying to appropriate the singer-songwriter's legacy by hosting an exclusive 'celebration' of Cash for the Republican delegation from Tennessee inside the elite corridors of Sotheby's auction house. In response, an ad-hoc group of activists have created a website to honor Cash's memory (www.defendjohnnycash.org) and to express what is safe to say would be Cash's outrage over the Bush Administration's malign neglect of the poor in this country. Do you think Cash would be supporting the President's economic policies? How about the Iraq war? If you think the answer is 'no,' then come join other Johnny Cash defenders at 4 p.m. (dressed in black if you'd like) on Tuesday, August 31st, at Sotheby's at 1334 York Avenue in Manhattan."
  • A Failed Presidency -- from the Nation at Common Dreams

    August 29, 2004

    New York Protests the Republicans

    New York turned out in full force for the protests today, in spite of blistering heat. Official estimates are in the hundreds of thousands. Although the protests are fundamentally fueled by anger, the release of that anger was such a relief, the chance to gather on the street with countless other people who shared the same outrage made the overarching feeling one of celebration. (See stories in New York Times story, New Zealand Herald, BBC, Reuters, Washington Post)

    The streets were so full of people it was impossible to move until about an hour after the march was supposed to start. The route started at 14th Street and Seventh Avenue, went north passing Madison Square Garden at 31st Street, turned right on 34th, over to Fifth Avenue and then down Fifth to Union Square at 16th Street. The protestors were young and old, all ethnicities, people of great vitality from many geographic regions and social backgrounds.

    The magnitude of the gathering was amazing. The human power was enormous, parading by the site of the convention it must have been strange to the few Republicans standing at the front of the convention center. What must they think? They could never gather that many people in favor of them. They could never stir that kind of enthusiasm.

    The signs, displays, costumes, chants, all kinds of expressions showed the great creativity of the humanistic, anti-war, pro-justice movement, in contrast with the cold corporate war machine, whose followers seem nearly devoid of the spark of creativity in their eyes. One of my favorite signs was "Swift Boat Veterans for Draft-Dodging Cokeheads".

    Meanwhile, while a broad cross section of Americans expressed their disgust with the Bush administration, sick **ck Cheney made his "grand entrance" to New York, as the TV news was proud to show, on Ellis Island. Popular Dick decided to put New York Harbor between himself and Manhattan as he emerged from his most recent undisclosed location to enter the world of the peons for the GOP theater event this week. Elite Dick never likes to risk getting too close to the commoners.

    So there he was, in the perfect photo op, with Big George Pataki, and Rudy Giuliani, in a carefully staged event proving there are still people in New York who like Cheney.

    Being out there today, seeing that energy face to face was exhilarating. Republicans absolutely can't create that kind of passion with their pro-slaughter and plunder agenda. Their base is robot-like in its dedication, usually held in place by deception and not really understanding the issues at stake. Knowing that, and seeing the passion of the anti-Bush movement in person today made it seem very possible that Randy Rhodes' prediction will come true: "Kerry by a landslide."

    MEDIA ROULETTE

    August 30, 2004

  • Bush is Faltering as the Republican Convention opens -- The Guardian
  • Iran Contra II? According to Washington Monthly.com, "On Friday evening, CBS News reported that the FBI is investigating a suspected mole in the Department of Defense who allegedly passed to Israel, via a pro-Israeli lobbying organization, classified American intelligence about Iran. The focus of the investigation, according to U.S. government officials, is Larry Franklin, a veteran Defense Intelligence Agency Iran analyst now working in the office of the Pentagon's number three civilian official, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith. The investigation of Franklin is now shining a bright light on a shadowy struggle within the Bush administration over the direction of U.S. policy toward Iran. In particular, the FBI is looking with renewed interest at an unauthorized back-channel between Iranian dissidents and advisers in Feith's office, which more-senior administration officials first tried in vain to shut down and then later attempted to cover up."
  • George W. Abortion? On October 20, 2000, Larry Flynt on Crossfire said that one of GWB's girlfriends in 1971 got pregnant and George arranged an abortion. At that time it was illegal. Now it isn't, but Bush wants to make it illegal again. CNN apparently scrubbed the transcript from its site. But here's an excerpt: "[ROBERT] NOVAK: Mr. Flynt, never let it be said that we censor any of our guests here on CROSSFIRE, and you said you wanted to talk about the election. Tell me what you wanted to say. FLYNT: Well, during the impeachment debacle, we did an investigation which resulted in the resignation of Bob Livingston and others and we have continued this investigation and for eight months we've been looking into George W. Bush's background. And we've found out in the early 1970s he was involved in an abortion in Texas, and I just think that it's sad that the mainstream media, who's aware of this story, won't ask him that question when they were able to ask him the drug question without any proof at all, and we've got all kinds of proof on this issue."
  • Two Faces -- As the home stretch approaches, Republicans will now try to put a "moderate" face on their right wing agenda. The Guardian

    August 31, 2004

    Giuliani Time

    As I write, Rudy Giuliani is doing a hatchet job on John Kerry. He has two elements in his speech. The first is September 11, rousing the emotions with an invocation of the horrors of that day. That was his moment. That's when he gained his authority at the very end of a term that had not been very good to most New Yorkers. He had done a couple of impressive things at the beginning. He pushed the mob out of the South Street Seaport and out of the garbage business. That was an extension of his work as a prosecutor. He knew that business. So in the areas where policing was concerned, he knew the turf. He may have abused power to get the mob, but no one cared since it was the mob, and prosecutors abuse power every day. Giuliani did another good thing, he lowered the hotel tax and helped the tourism business in New York. Then he ran out of ideas, except more policing ideas.

    The good trends in New York during his term were the trends of the whole country under Clinton, including not only the economic prosperity, but the reduction in crime. To Giuliani it was all about policing. He started new policing agencies with undertrained, overzealous agents who overreacted and killed people constantly. Certain incidents stood out, the broomstick sodomizing of Abner Louima, the murder by four of Giuliani's drug cops of a guy who was pulling out his wallet to show is identification and they shot him over 30 times because they said they thought it was a gun. These were only two of an ongoing series of similar incidents. And Giuliani's reaction was always supportive of the aggressive actions of the police, never stressing moderation, never saying the law should prevail but always just that the police were right because they were the police instead making efforts to smear them, rarely expressing sympathy for the families of the unjustly murdered, even when there was no evidence they had committed any crime.

    After he cleaned up the docks and the garbage collection trade, he looked around for other things to police. He had few other ideas. He wanted to crack down on jaywalkers. He cracked down on the Brooklyn Museum and pulled its funding because he found an exhibit offensive. Later the city lost the lawsuit by the museum and the taxpayers lost, not Giuliani.

    Other than 9/11 and how great Bush allegedly was at that time (a total fantasy), the speech was all about ridiculing John Kerry. They have to ridicule Kerry because Bush's record is so abysmal. Giuliani's speech was pretty effective, but it breaks down to those two elements, and there is nothing more for him to say.

    They had one of the widows from 9/11, allegedly, but I found myself not even sure whether to believe that. She was talking about the cell phone calls, four of them from her husband, and I'm not sure that was possible. If she was a total fraud, it would only be one more in a long tradition, like the woman who claimed to have seen Iraqis pulling babies out of incubators in Kuwait and killing them, who turned out to be a PR person from New York making up the whole thing, or like Paula Jones, who posed for a nudie magazine and was a contestant on a celeb boxing show after she was one of the principal witnesses to bring down the president for allegedly coming on to her. Maybe the widow was for real, but I can't make myself take anything on faith with these people.

    McCain gave his obligatory speech, and that's exactly what it looked like. He's giving a speech for the guy who slandered him and his wife and his daughter and his balls must have been shriveling up as he did it. A guy does what he has to do, he's got a political career to tend to. But he delivered it without passion, in a flat monotone, as if in the middle of a prolonged wince. He looked wilted, almost ill. He did get some emotion going at the very end. That was when he had gotten off of the Bush promo and was talking about how great Americans are. That was something he could get some enthusiasm for.

    To be a good Republican you have to be a good liar, especially now when you have to sell George Bush, whose presidency has been such a disaster. People like McCain and Bloomberg aren't so good at it. They falter. They are compromised and it shows. Giuliani, like Rush Limbaugh, can pull off a good lie, and very cleverly. Very convincingly. McCain got through it. But it's not the end of his duty to the mob. He'll have to go out on the campaign trail now. He must be withering inside. He looks like it.

    August 31, 2004

    The Republicans are here! They have brought the medieval world to New York. How exciting! Monday they worked on their platform, vowing to outlaw abortion and gay marriage and every social innovation that has been introduced since 1800. The rest of the platform is about Bush's war on terror, that is a war against anyone Bush chooses and a commitment to outlaw the use of terrorism by everyone except Bush and those he deems worthy. It's the world through a distant mirror...
  • 5,000 Republicans at the convention, half a million protestors outside -- The New York Times now acknowledges that half a million people attended the demonstration. "The Police Department, as is customary, offered no official estimate," said the Times, "but one officer in touch with the police command center at Madison Square Garden agreed that the crowd appeared to be close to a half-million."
  • Newsmedia by Default -- Today the traditional news media has become so pathetically irrelevant as news media that the function has spilled over into other non news media. So you get more relevant political reporting on The Daily Show, supposedly a comedy show, than on the supposed "news." And you get better political discussion in magazines like Performing Songwriter than in Time or Newsweek, which are lapdogs of the corporate oligarchy. Rolling Stone is running a fascinating article called "The Curse of Dick Cheney," which lays out the series of failures and sellouts that constitutes the man's career. No administration has ever survived long with **ck Cheney in it. Rumsfeld brought him into the Nixon administration, which soon collapsed. He made it into the Ford administration and was influential in some of the decisions that led to Ford's defeat by Jimmy Carter. Reagan didn't hire Cheney and Reagan won a second term. Then Bush I brought Cheney in and was defeated for re-election. Now he's with Bush, and is largely responsible for the colossal failures that have brought Bush to the point of fighting for his political life as an incumbent.
  • Bush's vision of endless war: "When we succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan itís the beginning of the end for extremists," he told NBC television in an interview. "I think if we are strong and resolute, itís less likely that your kids will live under the threat of al-Qaeda for a long period of time. I donít have a definite end..." When we succeed? If we succeed. Times Online
  • The puppet prime minister of Iraq says the oil attacks "hurt Iraq badly". Who is it hurting again? Who is Iraq? The oil profits have been stolen from Iraq anyway, so what difference does it make to the miserable Iraqi people if the flow of oil stops now while the Americans are in control? CNN
  • Hack conservative columnist Robert Novak champions the book "Unfit For Command", the Swift Boat Liars book his son works as the publicist for. Novak, the creep, was the one who leaked Valerie Plame's name, too. These people are so used to committing their crimes right out in front of everyone, he seems not to have considered that someone may have realized he was plugging the book his son was promoting. NY Times
  • Bush was a risk-taker when he drilled for oil in places where there was none. He usually lost in his bets and used his perceived influence with his father to attract more money to bail him out after he lost what he had. Now he's playing the same games of risk with the resources of the U.S., our tax money, and failing just as miserably. Boston Globe
  • Will the exploitation of 9/11 by the Republicans backfire? What is it based on? What did Bush ever do that was so great in regard to terrorism? He let it happen in the first place, ignored warnings, instead went on vacation, sat like a ragdoll while it played out on September 11, flew around like a frightened chicken for most of the day, then finally gave a couple of good speeches, launched a war in Afghanistan that most supported and then turned away before resolving it to instead start a war in Iraq based on lies that only diverted resources from the threat of Al Qaeda. Christian Science Monitor
  • Gore campaign manager: How to beat Bush. MSNBC
  • Arab Americans are now 3 to 1 for Kerry -- Is that a surprise to anyone? Pacific News
  • Bush's southwest Ohio campaign chairman is caught in sexual harassment scandal. It's a battleground state too. Enquirer
  • Leaked CNN Late Edition video shows Dole saying McCain was right, Bush should have been ashamed. And he should be ashamed now, doing it again to Kerry. And Dole is helping him. Slate
  • Documents from senior officials helped promote torture, says army report.
  • Daily Mail online poll: 88% say Blair should be impeached. (Up to 92% after article posted.)
  • Bush, not Kerry, should receive scrutiny for his military record -- "It's not surprising that Republicans have tried to smear Democratic candidate John Kerry's impressive war record. It's clear that no smear is beneath them. They proved that in 2002, when they attacked Senator Max Cleland for lacking patriotism ů when all he really lacked were the three limbs he lost in Vietnam. Kerry, without a single missing limb, was clearly a sitting duck for the Republican attack machine. Furthermore, Kerry had the audacity to run as a war hero, an image that had to be demolished in order to preserve the already far-fetched notion that George W. Bush is the appropriate man to lead the country in these war times.One can only imagine the fretting that must have gone on inside the Republican camp as the sheer difficulty of the operation was contemplated: How to take down Kerry's exemplary war record without allowing the media spotlight to stray onto their own candidate's truly abysmal war record. If there were any Republican fears that a feisty media might turn the tables on Bush, there needn't have been. With astonishing passivity, the media have allowed the Republican-driven focus on Kerry's war record to become the central issue in the campaign in the last few weeks.The Toronto Star

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