Saturday, March 13, 2004

Bush keeps pissing off the WRONG people 

It's a rare talent he has. From the hill, via blah3.com:

Firefighters to go after Bush 'loudly and aggressively'

By Klaus Marre

When, in the future, the Bush campaign is “using firefighters for their photo op,” the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) “will loudly and aggressively” make known the administration’s cuts to federal funds for first responders, Harold Schaitberger, the group’s general president, told The Hill.

Schaitberger, responding to a controversial campaign ad featuring fire fighters, said President Bush has “the right to focus on his performance and leadership during a catastrophic and disastrous day.”

But he added that the use of images in the ad, “by any candidate, for any reason, is unacceptable,” especially for “partisan, purely political reasons.”


Schaitberger said the administration had “failed the profession,” and he listed initiatives for first responders that the administration cut, including programs to add staff and equipment to firehouses.

The IAFF has called on Bush to apologize for including the images in his ad campaign and to pull it from the air. Schaitberger said a delegation of local firefighters submitted a resolution passed on the issue to Bush’s campaign headquarters, but was left waiting for 45 minutes and departed without meeting any campaign officials.

ha ha

Bush promises them "Help is on the way" and promptly vetoes the package to help them? What the fuck do those fire fighters EXPECT Bush to do--

--keep his word?

Even I know better than that. It doesn't take more than a few kicks in the head for me to get the message.


The lighter, more mobile, more easily deployed and seriously understaffed Army 

Army sent mentally ill troops to Iraq

By Mark Benjamin

WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) -- The Army appears to have "inappropriately" deployed soldiers to Iraq who already were diagnosed with mental problems, according to documents obtained by United Press International.

More than two dozen suicides by U.S. troops in Iraq, and hundreds of medical evacuations for psychiatric problems, have raised concerns about the mental health of soldiers in Operation Iraqi Freedom. An Army Medical Department after-action report obtained by UPI suggests that the Army sent some soldiers to war who were mentally unfit in the first place.

"Variability in predeployment screening guidelines for mental health issues may have resulted in some soldiers with mental health diagnoses being inappropriately deployed," the report said. That could "create the impression that some soldiers develop problems in theater, when, in some cases, they actually have pre-existing conditions."

The October 2003 report said the Army should consider quickly changing course to prevent deploying more soldiers with mental problems. In a massive troop rotation now under way, more than 100,000 troops are heading to the region.

Well, then, I guess they'd better stop that troop rotation and make sure they don't make THAT mistake again...

Yeah, right.


A clear violation of military regulations 

From blah3.com.

To any experts on military law: When do we impeach Bush? For THIS?

New Bush ad violates military regs

My friend Picosecond at BartCop Forum notes that the 'Forward' ad commits a military no-no.

The latest Bush-Cheney TV ad "Forward" features several military personnel performing duties while wearing their official uniforms;. There are several shots of soldiers carrying rifles, a shot of seaman launching a plane from a flight deck, a shot of a soldier flying a helicopter, etc.

It's a blatant violation of military regulations for any military personnel to promote any sort of political message while wearing an official US uniform. And as Commander-in-chief, it's a violation of military regulations for President Bush to direct or cause any member of the military to violate those regulations.

The specific Army rule that covers this issue can be found on page 8 of Chapter 1 in Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia:

Army Regulation 670­1
1­10. When the wear of the Army uniform is required or prohibited


j. Wearing Army uniforms is prohibited in the following situations:
(1) In connection with the furtherance of any political or commercial interests, or when engaged in off-duty civilian employment.

The specific Air Force rule that covers this issue can be found in
Table 1.3 on page 8 of Chapter 1 in AIR FORCE INSTRUCTION 36-2903,

Table 1.3. Wearing the Uniform.
Members ... Do not wear ... When...furthering political activities, private employment,or commercial interests.

These ads should be pulled, or the military members appearing in them should be disciplined. Or maybe the President himself should be disciplined, since he has obviously used these soldiers for his own political purposes, against a regulation that has been on the books for decades.

High Crime, or Misdemeanor?


Just help yourself--no one's looking 

Maybe you thought those 9-11 ads were in poor taste? Read THIS:

AP: Rumsfeld, FBI official kept 9/11 items

By John Solomon

March 13, 2004 | WASHINGTON -- The removal of souvenir debris from the scenes of the Sept. 11 attacks reached the highest levels of government, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and FBI Director Robert Mueller's chief of anti-terrorism, a Justice Department investigation has found.

The practice was so widespread inside the FBI that it even forced prosecutors in Minnesota to drop plans to prosecute a company that had taken a fire truck door from the World Trade Center, according to a still-confidential report obtained by The Associated Press.

The report said the Justice Department inspector general confirmed that Rumsfeld "has a piece of the airplane that flew into the Pentagon" inside his Defense Department office.

Chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said Friday night that Rumsfeld has a shard of metal from the jetliner that struck the Pentagon on a table in his office and shows it to people as a reminder of the tragedy Pentagon workers shared on Sept. 11, 2001.

"He doesn't consider it his own," Di Rita said. "We are mindful of the fact that if somebody has an evidentiary requirement to have this shard of metal, we will provide it to them."

Asked whether Rumsfeld's possession of the shard was similar to FBI agents who have been criticized for taking mementos from the World Trade Center, Di Rita said: "It was never that kind of thing. ... It seemed perfectly appropriate."

The Justice Department investigation also collected testimony that Pasquale D'Amuro, Mueller's executive assistant director for terrorism until last summer, asked a supervisory agent to "obtain a half dozen items from the WTC debris."

D'Amuro told investigators that he asked for pieces of the building for himself and possibly others who worked the investigation "as a memento." He added he was aware that agents had taken such items from other terrorist crime scenes over the years.

D'Amuro left FBI headquarters last July to become an assistant director in charge of the New York office. Joe Valiquette, a spokesman for the New York FBI office, declined comment Friday.

The report also divulged that the FBI supervisor for evidence recovery at the landfill where World Trade Center debris was taken failed a lie detector test and that agents' removal of items like a Tiffany crystal globe gutted a criminal case the bureau was building against a Minnesota contractor that had taken a fire truck door from the same rubble.

Prosecutors told the FBI they "might not indict the crime regarding the fire truck door due to government misconduct involving the Tiffany globe," the report said.

Surviving family members were disappointed by the news.

"Unbelievable," said William Doyle, whose son was killed in the World Trade Center.

"Everybody has things that they probably should not have from the World Trade Center site," added Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son died in the towers.

The Justice Department's report has not been officially released, but heavily deleted versions of the report began circulating around Washington last month showing 13 FBI agents had taken rubble, debris and items such as flags and a Tiffany crystal globe paperweight.

The bureau announced it was banning agents from taking items from crimes scenes, but no agents were being charged with crimes because the bureau did not have such a policy during the Sept. 11 investigation.

A lawyer for retired agent Jane Turner, who blew the whistle on the FBI's removal of souvenir debris, said agents should have been charged.

The amount of theft from Ground Zero by federal officials is shocking," attorney Stephen M. Kohn said. "Every federal employee who stole or converted property from that crime scene must be held fully accountable under the law."

The full report obtained by the AP divulges some senior FBI managers were among those cited for having authorized or asked for mementos.

Besides D'Amuro, the report said the now-retired head of the New York FBI office, Barry Mawn, asked for and received an American flag and a piece of marble from the debris. And the agent in charge of FBI in Knoxville, Tenn., Joe Clark, requested and received a 100-pound piece of steel to display in an exhibit dealing with hate crimes, the report said.

The report stated FBI agents who worked in New York repeatedly expressed their disgust that visiting colleagues and supervisors would "want to take items, including pieces of the building which were contaminated with blood and human body parts."

The report disclosed that among the items taken, agents had cut World Trade Center security patches from the sleeves of shirt pieces found in the rubble.

"It was a ghoulish prospect that anyone would want things from a crime scene where people have died," one agent was quoted as telling investigators.

Two senior FBI lawyers from New York told investigators they were never consulted by FBI managers about the propriety of taking items, and would have objected.

The FBI New York office's ethics officer, Steven Carolotto, "emphatically stated FBI agents could not profit from working any location" and the "calamity of the event was inconsistent with the taking of items for personal use."

Investigators also stated the agent who ran the recovery effort at the landfill, Richard Marx of Philadelphia, gave "inconsistent" answers during the investigation after several colleagues claimed he had given them permission to take items. Marx failed a polygraph last summer, the report said.

I guess this means that 9-11 really DID change everything.

Looting and helping themselves to World Trade Center security patches from the sleeves of dead security officers? Oh, my fucking GOD...

And Rumsfeld as a role model...that should explain everything right there.


Bush's strong leadership 

Reason # 2 for posting this: It shows that other bloggers--including smackdown superstars like kos--borrow and spread the word from their brother bloggers. Like atrios.

Reframing Bush's national security record

by kos
Sat Mar 13th, 2004 at 15:47:16 GMT

Atrios gets it right. To defeat Bush on the issue of national defense, the issue must be reframed. No more talk about Bush's "strong leadership" post-9-11. There was none.

1. Bush took power

2. Bush ignored the threat of terrorism

3. 9-11 occured

4. Bush was indecisive in that kindergarten class

5. Bush then hid out in Nebraska while his staff invented a "threat" to Air Force One to justify his absence

6. Bush went to war against Afghanistan (so far okay)

7. But instead of finishing the job, he let Bin Laden, Omar Mullah, and lots of Taliban and Al Qaeda escape

8. Why did they get away? Because they diverted intelligence and military assets to fight a non-threat in Iraq

9. And how do we know Iraq was a non-threat? Because they invented evidence to justify the war and lied to Congress and the American people

10. They botched the occupation of Iraq, and close to 700 allied and countless Iraqis have paid the ultimate price, and more continue to do so*

11. They botched the occupation of Afghanistan, as the US-backed government controls nothing more than Kabul, and the rest of the country is a haven for terrorists, religious fanatics, opium producers, and regional warlords

12. And now, over two years after 9-11, the administration is finally training all of our intelligence and military resources toward capturing Osama Bin Laden

I wouldn't call that a successful run.

*Let's not forget that the only parts of Iraq that are truly "under control" are the Green Sections--15-foot-high walled-off blocks with razor wire, tank sentries and 'round the clock armed patrols. Just like Kabul.


Medicare cost estimate scam 

Daschle is calling for a re-vote on the Medicare bill because of THIS article.

Imagine that; an article written by a journalist starting an interest in lies and deceptions by the Bush administration.

Bush administration ordered Medicare plan cost estimates withheld

By Tony Pugh

Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The government's top expert on Medicare costs was warned that he would be fired if he told key lawmakers about a series of Bush administration cost estimates that could have torpedoed congressional passage of the White House-backed Medicare prescription-drug plan.

When the House of Representatives passed the controversial benefit by five votes last November, the White House was embracing an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that it would cost $395 billion in the first 10 years. But for months the administration's own analysts in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had concluded repeatedly that the drug benefit could cost upward of $100 billion more than that.

Withholding the higher cost projections was important because the White House was facing a revolt from 13 conservative House Republicans who'd vowed to vote against the Medicare drug bill if it cost more than $400 billion.

Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, one of the 13 Republicans, said she was "very upset" when she learned of the higher estimate.

"I think a lot of people probably would have reconsidered (voting for the bill) because we said that $400 billion was our top of the line," Myrick said.

Five months before the November House vote, the government's chief Medicare actuary had estimated that a similar plan the Senate was considering would cost $551 billion over 10 years. Two months after Congress approved the new benefit, White House Budget Director Joshua Bolten disclosed that he expected it to cost $534 billion.

Richard S. Foster, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which produced the $551 billion estimate, told colleagues last June that he would be fired if he revealed numbers relating to the higher estimate to lawmakers.

"This whole episode which has now gone on for three weeks has been pretty nightmarish," Foster wrote in an e-mail to some of his colleagues June 26, just before the first congressional vote on the drug bill. "I'm perhaps no longer in grave danger of being fired, but there remains a strong likelihood that I will have to resign in protest of the withholding of important technical information from key policy makers for political reasons."

Knight Ridder obtained a copy of the e-mail.

Foster didn't quit, but congressional staffers and lawmakers who worked on the bill said he no longer was permitted to answer important questions about the bill's cost.

Cybele Bjorklund, the Democratic staff director for the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, which worked on the drug benefit, said Thomas A. Scully - then the director of the Medicare office - told her he ordered Foster to withhold information and that Foster would be fired for insubordination if he disobeyed.

Health and Human Services Department officials turned down repeated requests to interview Foster. The Medicare office falls under the control of HHS.

In an interview with Knight Ridder, Scully, a former health-industry lobbyist deeply involved in the administration's campaign to pass the drug benefit, denied Bjorklund's assertion that he'd threatened to fire Foster. He said he curbed Foster on only one specific request, made by Democrats on the eve of the first House vote in June, because he felt they'd use the cost estimates to disrupt the debate.

"They were trying to be politically cute and get (Foster) to score (estimate the cost of the bill) and put something out publicly so they can walk out on the House floor and cause a political crisis, which is bogus," Scully said.

"I just said, `Look, (Foster) works for the executive branch; he's not going to do it, period,'" he said.

Otherwise, Scully said, Foster was available to lawmakers and their staffs.

" ... I don't think he ever felt - I don't think anybody (in the actuary's office) ever felt - that I restricted access. ... I think it's a very nice tradition that (the actuary) is perceived to be very nonpartisan and very accessible, and I continued that tradition."

Scully said Liz Fowler, the chief health lawyer for the Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, could confirm the actuary's independence. Fowler didn't.

"He's a liar," she said of Scully.


At a Ways and Means Committee hearing last month, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson all but repudiated Scully's tactics.

"I may have been derelict in allowing my administrator, Tom Scully, to have more control over it than I should have. ... And maybe he micromanaged the actuary and the actuary services too much. ... I can assure you that from now (on), the remaining days that I am secretary you will have as much access as you want to anybody or anything in the department. All you have to do is call me."

Democrats asked Thompson on Feb. 3 and March 3 for a complete record of Foster's estimates. They've yet to get it.

Said HHS spokesman Bill Pierce: "We respond to all inquiries in time and we will do the same" with these.

Scully left the administration and in January took a job with Alston & Bird, an Atlanta-based law firm that represents numerous hospitals and health insurers. He was exploring jobs in the private sector while he was pushing for passage of the prescription drug bill, thanks to a waiver from Thompson that allowed him to conduct job interviews while he was still a federal employee.


In February, the White House announced that President Bush's appointees no longer would be permitted to job-hunt while on the federal payroll.


Members of Congress and congressional staffers complained that Scully's handling of Foster has deepened congressional mistrust of the Bush administration and that withholding information makes it harder for Congress to draft good legislation.

Myrick didn't think the episode was an effort to "pull the wool over our eyes."

But Democratic Rep. Pete Stark of California felt otherwise. "This `need to know, our eyes only' stuff is getting too restrictive for us to do a decent job," said Stark, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means health subcommittee.

For years before Scully's arrival in 2001, key lawmakers had direct access to Medicare actuaries.


Faith-based missile defense 

God will protect us from the heathen North Koreans. Bush knows, because God Himself told him. God said it, he believes it, and that settles it. I think I saw that on a bumper sticker.

From kos:

Faith-Based Missile Defense Collects Election Year Boost

by Meteor Blades
Fri Mar 12th, 2004 at 21:15:26 GMT

As early as July, and definitely by September, the Department of Defense may slip ICBM interceptors into five silos at Fort Greely, Alaska.

September 11, 2001 underscored that our Nation faces unprecedented threats, in a world that has changed greatly since the Cold War. To better protect our country against the threats of today and tomorrow, my Administration has developed a new national security strategy, and new supporting strategies for making our homeland more secure and for combating weapons of mass destruction...

I have directed the Secretary of Defense to proceed with fielding an initial set of missile defense capabilities. We plan to begin operating these initial capabilities in 2004 and 2005, and they will include ground-based interceptors, sea-based interceptors, additional Patriot (PAC-3) units, and sensors based on land, at sea, and in space.

- George Bush, Dec. 17, 2002

"It would be a very preliminary, modest capability. It would be in a testing and learning mode. But also in the event it were needed, it would be able to provide you some limited capability to deal with a limited number of ballistic missiles."

- Donald Rumsfeld, Dec. 18, 2002

Predictions of how well the system will defeat long-range ballistic missiles are based on limited data. No component of the system to be fielded by September 2004 has been flight-tested in its deployed configuration. Significant uncertainties surround the capability to be fielded by September: [Missile Defense Agency] will not demonstrate in flight tests a critical radar called Cobra Dane before that date or conduct a system-level demonstration, and has yet to test its three-stage boosters as part of a planned intercept...

The MDA is not currently considering conducting flight tests under unrehearsed and unscripted conditions.

- Report on Missile Defense by the General Accounting Office, March 10, 2004. (GAO-04-254)

Senate Armed Services Committee hearing and interviews, March 11, 2004:

Senator Carl Levin: "Is there any relationship between the fact that the president made a decision to deploy in December of 2002, and shortly thereafter you decided to cancel all these tests?"

Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish
, Missile Defense Agency director: "Senator, we didn't cancel those tests, we reoriented, and rescheduled them, put their objectives in different pots."


Lisbeth Gronlund of the Union of Concerned Scientists: "Every other piece of the time line has slipped. The one thing that has remained constant is the deployment date. That's completely political."


Senator Jack Reed: "So at this time, we cannot be sure that the actual system would work against a real North Korean missile threat?"

Thomas P.Christie, the Pentagon's director of Operational Test and Evaluation: "I would say that's true."

Philip E. Coyle, Christie’s predecessor: "Ever since the president made his decision, the priority of the program has been on deployment, not on understanding whether the system works."

"The only thing holding back a terrorist detonating a nuclear bomb in the US is the lack of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium needed to make a nuclear device operational. The second they get that capability, they will have no difficulty smuggling that bomb into a US harbor. Fortunately, there are ways to keep this nightmare from becoming a reality.”

- Charles Schumer, January 17, 2003

FY 2005 Budget Request for Missile Defense: $10.2 billion

FY 2005 Budget Request for Port Security grants: $46 million

The Bush Administration: Wrong on faith-based defense. Criminally negligent on security.


Friday, March 12, 2004

Bush lies again, to seniors receiving Medicare, and in BLACK AND WHITE 

This is serious enough to get the legal head of the GAO involved. Sure, my little headline is outrageous. Sure, it looks wild and unsubstantiated. Too bad it's true.

These are LIES. They are spending OUR MONEY to TELL THEM, in order to help Bush win the election.

A Watchdog Sees Flaws in Bush's Ads on Medicare


WASHINGTON, March 10 — The General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said on Wednesday that advertisements and brochures prepared by the Bush administration to publicize a new Medicare law, although not illegal, misrepresented the prescription drug benefits that would be offered to millions of elderly and disabled people.

The fliers and advertisements do not violate restrictions on the use of federal money for "publicity or propaganda purposes," but they are flawed by "omissions and other weaknesses," said the legal opinion by Anthony H. Gamboa, general counsel of the accounting office.

For example, Mr. Gamboa said, the administration did not point out that beneficiaries might be charged up to $30 for drug discount cards that become available in June. Likewise, he said, the administration incorrectly suggested that the law set a premium of $35 a month for drug coverage, beginning in 2006. That amount, he said, is only an estimate and ignores the penalties that could be imposed on people who delay enrolling.

The administration plans to spend more than $22 million on the advertisements and brochures, which publicize drug benefits, new coverage for preventive health services and new insurance options. Medicare officials said the advertisements and fliers were a way to educate beneficiaries, as the law requires.

Democrats said the advertisements were campaign commercials for President Bush, who has taken credit for delivering drug benefits long promised by lawmakers of both parties.


We're back to calling it "Freedom Bacon" 

In the days running up to the war in Iraq, the evidence proving Bush's case was less than convincing. Sure, they couldn't just whip out everything they had--there are security steps in place for very good reasons, and some things will never reach the public's scrutiny. In effect, they said, "Trust us." Some of us knew better; others did not.

There had to be proof that could only be seen by intelligence agencies, and that would have had to have been shared between other countries' agencies, too, if Bush wanted to convince THEM to go along for the ride. Other allies. Like France. And Germany. And Canada.

Story here, via atrios:

Proposed Iraq briefing had Canada skeptical

Ottawa — Canadian officials say they challenged the U.S. to share secret intelligence showing that the Baghdad regime had dangerous weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraq war, but Washington failed to deliver, thus cementing the Chrétien government's resolve to stay out of the conflict.

Washington's refusal to share raw intelligence with its close ally seemed puzzling at the time, one senior official said. But a year later, the reason now seems clear: "They didn't have any evidence."

The Americans were trying hard to draw Canada into the military coalition poised to attack Iraq, or at least win the political support of then-prime-minister Jean Chrétien and the Liberal government.

At least twice President George W. Bush's advisers said they would come to Ottawa "to present the case" for war, says this Ottawa official, who worked with Mr. Chrétien on the Iraq file in the Prime Minister's Office.

"We weren't interested in 'the case.' We were looking for the evidence," the PMO official said, dismissing the U.S. offer as nothing more than a "PowerPoint slide show."



Via CAP:

COWING CRITICS WITH THREATS: Foster is just the latest in a long list of people the Administration has bullied or fired for telling the truth about policies it was trying to hide. For example, top White House adviser Larry Lindsey was fired when he revealed the war in Iraq could cost $200 billion, at a time the Administration was trying to lowball the price.

General Anthony Zinni, President Bush's Middle East mediator, was not reappointed after he angered the White House by acknowledging that there were bigger priorities than attacking Iraq.

Even U.S. troops have been intimidated: Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the troops in Iraq, said, "None of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the Secretary of Defense, or the President of the United States. Whatever action may be taken, whether it's a verbal reprimand or something more stringent, is up to the commanders on the scene."

(For more on the strong-arm tactics taken by the Administration to keep critics quiet, read this pdf file American Progress backgrounder.)


A league of his own 

Story here.

I had no idea Kerry had that much power--and he hasn't even been sworn in yet. Via atrios:

WASHINGTON - A Nebraska business executive withdrew from consideration to be President Bush's point man on manufacturing Thursday after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry raised questions about his stance on shifting U.S. jobs to foreign countries.

The Bush administration said Anthony Raimondo's withdrawal was related to Nebraska political issues and not the flap raised by the Kerry campaign.

[ha ha]

But the nomination had appeared in doubt after Kerry's campaign had raised questions of why the Bush administration was picking someone to guide government efforts to halt the hemorrhage of American manufacturing jobs who had laid off 75 of his own workers in 2002 after announcing he was constructing a $3 million plant in China.

Raimondo, the chief executive of Behlen Manufacturing Co. of Columbus, Neb., could not be reached immediately for comment after the White House announced late Thursday that he was withdrawing from consideration for the post.

Who else but Bush would nominate a robber baron to look after lost manufacturing jobs?

Who else? Nobody. Bush is in a league of his own.


Burnt bridges 

Does your jaw still drop open in shock when you hear about the latest Bush story? Mine did this time.

It looks like Bush & CO have even managed to piss off the Speaker of the House, who has been in their pocket since Day One. Via atrios:

Q You met with the administration yesterday [concerning the highway bill working through Congress]. Did they say they would support the target number?

Speaker Hastert. We need to go forward, we need to go to conference with the Senate, and then if they want to be involved in that conference, they certainly will be able to be involved in it.

Q But did they say they would sign?

Speaker Hastert. They didn't make a commitment.

Q Did they say they would veto it?

Speaker Hastert. They didn't say they would veto it.

Q Is that with the President or with the people?

Speaker Hastert. That is with the President. I don't deal with his people anymore.

Q Mr. Speaker, do you anticipate the assault weapons ban renewal? It expires in September.

Speaker Hastert. The Senate was going to go through the bill first. It kind of fell away over in the Senate. I am not sure what is going to happen.

Q Sir, what did you mean by that last comment: That was with the President; I don't deal with his people anymore?

Speaker Hastert. Well, we weren't getting straight numbers from his people, and they changed their mind in the middle of the process. So we are going to do what we feel we need to do.

Q Just on this issue or on --

Speaker Hastert. On this issue.

Q Or in general?

Speaker Hastert. On this issue.

Q Sir --

Q What kind of numbers were you getting from them?

Speaker Hastert. Different numbers.

Q Different from?

Speaker Hastert. Where they added up.

Kind of like...how those Medicare numbers didn't add up? Different numbers, like that?


The Founding Fathers' wisdom 

I cannot tell you how many times I've been lied to by conservatives about the Founding Fathers. They speak of them as though they were divinely inspired and could do no wrong. Of course, religion often falsely creeps into their arguments. Many conservatives are convinced that all of them were devout protestant Christians--Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Monroe, Hamilton, Franklin. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is, the vast majority of them were Deists. They believed in God, but as a result of thinking on the subject, they came to the conclusion that God was MIA in their modern times. They believed that faith in logic and reason would be the real salvation of mankind.

Try telling this to someone who thinks they know better. It's impossible. I've read the essays and the writings myself. Everything from an outright denunciation of Christianity to Jefferson's Bible. None of it will sway a True Believer that needs to think their nation is built on their religion. THEIR religion.

But here's Today's Lesson: If the Founding Fathers were so...immortal and wise and all-knowing...then why does George W. Bush want to change their life's work? He's supported no less than SEVEN amendments, and that's just in the last four years.

Why doesn't he just trash the Constitution and start over? Wait...let's not give him any ideas.


Like father, like son 

Willie Horton is back. And he means business.

From Ryan Lizza's campaign journal/blog at TNR. Go there to see an image from this ad.

Bush's first round of ads became immediately famous for using images of Ground Zero and a flag-draped body being carried away from the rubble of the World Trade Center.

His newest spot, "100 Days," might soon become famous for another campaign first. It is the first ad to use the image of a dark-skinned man who is obviously meant to be a terrorist...

And on the bottom there is a close-up of a swarthy, somewhat sinister-looking man with darting eyes who slowly turns toward the camera. He is clearly the terrorist in this scary montage...

UPDATE: James Zogby tells the Associated Press he wants Bush to pull down "100 Days":

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, urged Bush to withdraw one of the new ads because it illustrates the section on terrorism with a picture of an olive-skinned man with bushy eyebrows.

"If they wanted to put Osama bin Laden up there that's fine, but using just a face stereotypes," Zogby said.

What's interesting is that Bush's team must have known that by using this actor they would probably ignite a debate about race, ethnicity, and terrorism. You have to wonder about why they did it.

We know EXACTLY why they did it. No wondering needed. Not for one second.


Crowd control, Bush-style 

Via atrios, from Newsday:

Potemkin Crowds

Security people kept reporters from interviewing the workers at U.S.A. until the president was on the way to his next stop.

But when workers were finally interviewed -- these people who made up the bulk of the president's cheering audience in New York -- Bush's performance turned out to be, if anything, even more impressive.

"No speak English," said the first worker, smiling apologetically.

"No speak English," said the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth workers way-laid in the crowd.

But you think the tax cuts should be made permanent, as he says?

"Sorry, no English," said another.


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

After you're done checking out the news... 

Go get yourself some laughs.

The very latest from Get Your War On.

I met this guy at a book-signing. It was the strangest place; an abandoned storefront in an older residential urban area with a stage built between the front room and the back room...he just put his cartoons on an overhead projector and read them out loud.

This guy's website, begun in a semi-drunken stupor on the night of the bombing in Afghanistan in 2001, was getting a half a million hits--A DAY. Soon, everybody was calling him--Hollywood wanted to develop a movie; TV show; book deals; magazine offers; syndicated cartoon, the works. He wanted none of it.

He doesn't want to work on a deadline, although since Rolling Stone hired him, he more or less IS on one. And he's not after the money--obviously. The only thing that trips his trigger is removing land mines, specifically in Afghanistan. Now that he's "sold out", and has the gig for RS, I would bet that every single dime he makes is going to that effort.

Good man. And he signed a copy for my son's Christmas gift that year, too. Something hilariously punk-rock and cynical like: "See what happens when you stay in St. Louis?"

Mine he signed: "Best wishes, Under God, David Rees". What a man.


Give 'em hell, Kerry! 

If you've been paying attention, Kerry has been playing hardball ever since he won the nomination.

He has to stay out of small planes.

Hell, the last thing I saw on a blog (bartcop), he was railing about COMPUTER VOTING. The guy is plugged in. He knows what's going down. He is going to win the Presidency unless the Bush people take him out.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised. Before or after he's sworn in...

Kerry promises vigilance at polls


Kerry directly accused Republicans of stealing the 2000 election for Bush.

"What can you do to prevent them from stealing the election again?" Kerry asked a crowd at the MLK Center in Hollywood [FL], his first stop in a three-city Florida campaign swing Monday.

"We're going to pre-check it, we're going to have the legal team in place," said Kerry.

"We're going to take injunctions where necessary ahead of time. We'll pre-challenge if necessary."

"I'm often asked how it feels to run for the highest office in the land," Kerry said. "I don't have a clue. I'm not running for secretary of state of Florida."

Democratic crowds roared at the reminder of Cruella Harris, who gave the initial order to stop the recounting of votes in 2000. Harris is now a Sarasota-area Congresswoman.

Damn, even Al Gore hasn't done THAT--accused those fucks of STEALING THE ELECTION!

You gotta like this guy. He's really givin' 'em hell. Harry S would be proud.


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

9-11 Commission scores a minor victory 

UPDATE: Bush cracks under pressure

Can you really call it "doing the right thing" when you only do it under intense scrutiny and pressure? Does that really count?

Isn't that the giveaway as to the real character of this so-called President?

I used to give Bush the benefit of the doubt. I used to, really, I did. I can't do that any more. He's wrung me out, kids.

Bush Softens 9/11 Commission Stance

WASHINGTON - President Bush will answer privately all questions raised by a federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the White House said Tuesday, softening its insistence that Bush's testimony be limited to an hour.

"Nobody's watching the clock," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

Still, he said an hour was "a reasonable period of time to set aside for a sitting president of the United States." [...] The commission urged Bush to meet with all of its members, not just the chairman and vice chairman.

You really should read the transcript from the source for this news story. I'm not sure if Scott McClellan meant to say what he said--that the president would answer ALL questions from the commission--as much as it was BEATEN OUT OF HIM.

Go read it. It's a scream.



See, what you're supposed to do is this:

Click on Comments.

When the box pops up, put in a name--any name will do. Think up something funny, or just put "Anonymous". Or you can even just leave it blank.

Type in a comment. Hit me. Stroke me. Give us new information. Make a joke, preferably at the expense of George W. Bush. It could be anybody, but make it funny.

Then hit the "Submit" button, or whatever it is, and stand back and admire your work.



My best Ben Stein imitation 

Can anyone tell me why George W. Bush strong-armed the U.N. into lifting sanctions on this country?

Can anyone tell me why Pakistan is "with" us and not "against" us?

Can anyone tell me how the Bush administration can possibly rationalize the fact that Musharraf has presided over his own scientists' selling nukes to Iran and North Korea? Why have they not condemned this nation and its President-for-life?

Anyone? Anyone?

Pakistan Tests Longest-Range Nuclear-Capable Missile



Monday, March 08, 2004

A man who stands as his own lawyer has... 

Body & Soul puts the perfect headline for this post:

A fool for a client

She writes:

Lots of people have commented on the fact that, so far, George Bush's campaign has been surprisingly inept. The New York Times may have discovered the reason why nothing seems to be going right this time: Bush is running the show himself.

I read the article, and I couldn't get through it without giggling. Try it yourself.

Bush Ready and Bursting to Bring It On

George W. Bush: I thought he was our worst enemy, but it turns out he's HIS OWN.


The hunt for bin Laden intensifies: New hi-tech employed 

The most important question I asked in 2002 before the Iraq War that has gone unanswered is this:

Why now?

Here it comes again.

High-tech snooping for bin Laden

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. forces searching for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden along the mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan will soon implement high-tech surveillance tactics in the region, enabling them to monitor the area 24 hours a day, seven days a week, CNN has learned.

It's believed that the constant surveillance of the border region and the "squeeze play" by U.S. and Pakistani forces surrounding the mountainous frontier will present the best chance ever to net the world's most-wanted terrorist.

Bin Laden has eluded capture since U.S. troops launched a search for him in late 2001.


Among the devices that will be in place within days are U-2 spy planes flying at 70,000 feet, taking pictures, using radar and intercepting communications.

Unmanned Predator drones, flying closer at 25,000 feet, are equipped with cameras that can spot vehicles and people and special radar that can operate through clouds. Some of the Predators may also carry Hellfire missiles.

Ground sensors may also be placed along mountain passes to listen for vehicles.

Data from the planes and sensors will be sent via satellite to analysts for quick action. The U.S. military has bought up satellite transmission capacity in the region, to ensure it can respond quickly.


[General John Abizaid:] "I think that we will make it very painful for al Qaeda between now and the end of the year."

Or, until the election.

Question: Why haven't the techniques described here in this article been used until now?


Nothing but the best for our troops in Iraq 

Earlier I reported that Halliburton sees Dick Cheney as a liability to its profits and the status of its stock price.

But from the looks of this article, Halliburton could be a liability for Cheney AND Bush.

From NBC News:

Halliburton has a multi-billion dollar contract to feed and house the troops in Iraq. But there are problems. A food subcontractor that runs 10 percent of the dining facilities in Iraq claims it hasn't been paid by Halliburton for months, and is threatening to stop serving hot meals.

The company, Event Source, serves 100,000 meals a day in Iraq under a contract with a Halliburton subsidiary. Event Source claims Halliburton owes it $87 million, including payment for President Bush's Thanksgiving dinner with the troops.

"When you get stuck out there for $87 million dollars," explains Event Source Chief Executive Officer Phil Morrell, "it's a question of economics."

In an interview with NBC News, Morrell says he's already laid off employees in the United States and soon will have to feed sandwiches to the troops, instead of hot meals, because his company is running low on money.

Last month, Halliburton was accused of overcharging the government for feeding troops and agreed to forego further payments until the issue is resolved.

Morrell says he believes Halliburton and its other food service contractors did overcharge, billing the government not for meals actually served, but for meals a facility could have served.


CNN/Gallup: Kerry is way out--in front 


WASHINGTON — After locking up the Democratic presidential nomination, John Kerry leads President Bush 52%-44%, largely because people say Kerry would handle domestic issues better.



U.S. "disappearing" Iraqi men and boys 

It's an old Argentine tradition. It's against international law and the Geneva Convention. And it's just what I would expect from Rumsfeld and his minions.

As U.S. Detains Iraqis, Families Plead for News


Iraq has a new generation of missing men. But instead of ending up in mass graves or at the bottom of the Tigris River, as they often did during the rule of Saddam Hussein, they are detained somewhere in American jails.

Although the insurgency has cooled, with suicide attacks against civilians now eclipsing armed clashes with American troops, American forces are still conducting daily raids, bursting into homes and sweeping up families. More than 10,000 men and boys are in custody. According to a detainee database maintained by the military, the oldest prisoner is 75, the youngest 11.

Just like guarding the Oil Ministry and letting the Baghdad Museum get looted, you can depend on Rumsfeld and Bush to keep their priorities straight. Dependable? Like a ROCK.


Iraq War Intel Commission: Very confusing 

Go read this entire article and see if you don't end up with more questions than answers at the end of it. For instance:

If this commission is "independent", but was created by President Bush, and he has the power to fire the chair of the commission, how exactly is that "independent"? Don't fit MY definition.

If John McCain wants subpoena power so badly, why doesn't he get Frist to create a CONGRESSIONAL Iraq War Intel Commission, and subpoena whoever they want? Why dance with Bush if he refuses to cooperate?

In a conversation with Bush prior to his appointment, Robb assured the president he would not support examining the administration’s use of intelligence, said a Senate source familiar with the meeting.

Why on earth would they bother investigating the intel failures if they're not going to look at the White House's use of intelligence? Can you think of a single better example of the meaning of the word "whitewash"?

How can anyone take Bush's word for anything, for as long as he lives?


Happy International Women's Day 

Via atrios:

Progress in Afghanistan

Happy International Women's Day from Hamid Karzai:

KABUL (CP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai offered Afghan men a trade today in an attempt to convince them to let their women vote in upcoming elections.

"Please, my dear brothers, let your wives and sisters go to the voter registration process," Karzai told a gathering to mark International Women's Day. "Later, you can control who she votes for, but please, let her go."

Karzai's plea set off a murmur in the crowd of about 500 women and illustrated the fragile grip the democratic process holds in Afghanistan.

You remember Hamid Karzai. He's the man who was a corporate officer for Unocal who was placed in power by George W. Bush AFTER the Afghan loya jirga selected SOMEONE ELSE as the interim leader of the country.

The George W. Bush Puppet Show--a worldwide production.


I am rubber and you are glue 

Everything Bush says bounces off Kerry and comes back to stick to BUSH.

Bush Blasts Kerry Over Intelligence Bill


Bush, during a fund-raiser in Dallas, called attention to a 1995 bill that Kerry sponsored to trim intelligence spending by $1.5 billion over five years. The cut was part of what Kerry called a ``budget-buster bill'' to strip $90 billion from the budget and end 40 programs that he said were ``pointless, wasteful, antiquated or just plain silly.''

Kerry's proposal, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and calls for a peace dividend after decades of spending to thwart the Cold War opponent, never came up for a vote...

Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton said the senator's bill was about opposing ``business as usual in our intelligence community'' and that he has supported $200 billion in intelligence funding over the past seven years - a 50 percent increase since 1996.

``He voted against a proposed billion-dollar bloat in the intelligence budget because it was essentially a slush fund for defense contractors,'' Clanton said. ``Unlike George Bush, John Kerry does not and will not support every special spending project supported by Halliburton and other defense contractors..."

Kerry, who has accused Bush of impeding a federal commission investigating the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said Monday while campaigning in Florida, "If the president of the United States can find time to go to a rodeo, he can spend more than one hour before the [9-11] commission.''


Defending the smears: Smokin' Joe Conason 

I met Joe Conason in April of 2002. We attended bartcop's JulieFest, a benefit fundraiser for Julie Hiatt Steele. She was one of Ken Starr's victims in his witchhunt on the Clintons. She lost everything in defending herself in court--her house, her job, and almost lost her adopted son, Adam.

She was, of course, completely innocent and a roadbump on the way for Starr to drag Clinton's name through the mud.

Joe Conason details every bit of this and more in his book The Hunting Of The President, co-authored by Gene Lyons. Their documentary movie of the same name has yet to receive a major release, and that is what Joe and I talked about when I met him, struggling for a subject we could both talk about, a subject I hoped I could share the least bit of knowledge on.

Got his autograph, too.

Here's Joe's latest column about the dirt flying in the 2004 Presidential campaign. Joe makes it look so easy. He has the facts at his fingertips, and brushes away any and all spin.



Sunday, March 07, 2004

They're not messin' 'round no mo' 

GOP wants MoveOn.org ads pulled


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Republican National Committee on Friday asked about 250 television stations to pull a liberal group's ads critical of President Bush.

The RNC sent the stations a letter Friday suggesting the outlets may be complicit in breaking campaign finance laws if they air the MoveOn.org Voter Fund ads. It asked them to decline to broadcast the ads.


In the letter, RNC chief counsel Jill Holtzman Vogel wrote, "As a broadcaster licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, you have a responsibility to the viewing public and to your licensing agency to refrain from complicity in any illegal activity, specifically in this case, violations of our nation's federal election laws."

They're playin' for KEEPS.

I've always been on the outside of most Lefties' arguments FOR campaign finance laws. I strongly believe that restricting campaigns from how much and what they can raise, etc, was bound to backfire sooner or later. I also felt that the Republicans' advantage in raising money was just a matter of which Presidential cycle we might happen to be in, and even a moot point altogether.

What are the Republicans going to do with all that money if Bush is so dirty, it doesn't matter how many commercials they buy? This idea has been borne out even this early in the campaign. Look at what's happened to Bush's ads ALREADY!

But now it appears that campaign restrictions have come back to bite the Dems where it could hurt the worst. I hope MoveOn.org gets to air their ads, but who would bet on that horse?

Not me.



From the daily Kos:

So, Bush has a site somewhere that tracks Kerry's "flip-flops". Reader TK probably spent three seconds coming up with this list of Bush flip flops. It's not like they're hard to find:

Bush was against campaign finance reform; now he's for it.

Bush was against a Homeland Security Department; now he's for it.

Bush was against a 9/11 commission; now he's for it.

Bush was against an Iraq WMD investigation; now he's for it.

Bush was against nation-building; now he's for it.

Bush was against deficits; now he's for them.

Bush was for free trade; then he was for tariffs on steel; now he's against them again.

Bush was against the U.S. taking a role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; now he pushes for a "road map" and a Palestinian State.

Bush was for states' right to decide on gay marriage; now he is for changing the constitution.

Bush first said he'd provide money for first responders (fire, police, emergency); then he didn't.

Bush said 'help is on the way' to the military ... then he cut benefits.

Bush--"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden." Bush--"I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care."

Bush claims to be in favor of the environment; then he secretly starts drilling on Padre Island.

Bush talks about helping education and increases mandates while cutting funding.

Bush said the U.S. wouldn't negotiate with North Korea. Now he will.

Bush goes to Bob Jones University. Then says he shouldn't have.

Bush said he would demand a U.N. Security Council vote on whether to sanction military action against Iraq. Later Bush announced he would not call for a vote.

Bush said the "Mission Accomplished" banner was put up by the sailors. Bush later admits it was his advance team.

Bush was for fingerprinting and photographing Mexicans who enter the U.S. After meeting with Pres. Fox, he's against it.

Anything we missed? I'm sure there is. PLENTY.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com