Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Town wants its idiot back

(Crawford, Texas-NBC) Sept. 29, 2004 - The newspaper in President Bush's adopted Texas hometown is throwing its support to his opponent, Senator John Kerry.

The Weekly Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, criticized the president's handling of the war in Iraq and for turning tight budget surpluses into record deficits.

The editorial also criticized Bush's proposals on Social Security and Medicare. Its publishers backed Bush four years ago, but now say he didn't come through on campaign promises.

The editorial urged Texans not to rate the candidate by his hometown or even political party, but instead by where he intends to take the country.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

There's Lies and Then There's Lies That Get People Killed

On the one hand we have Dan Rather's forged documents with response: "...we have been misled."


* Hit to Rather's reputation
* Hit to CBS's reputation
* Hit to the media's (already questionable) reputation

Conservative response:

* Unmitigated, eye-popping outrage
* Calls for Rather's resignation
* Calls for an investigation by the House of Representatives

... And then there's the White House's forged documents with response: "We fell for it."


* American public misled and frightened into an invasion of a sovereign nation that posed no threat to the U.S.
* Hit to America's reputation
* Over 1,000 Americans dead
* Over 7,000 Americans injured
* Tens of thousands of Iraqis dead
* Iraq turned center for terrorist recruitment
* Hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayers' dollars gone
* Anti American sentiment at record highs
* Iraq on the verge of civil war

Conservative response:

* (Crickets chirping)
... How's that working for ya?

Blair Does Some Splainin

BRIGHTON, England (Reuters) - Tony Blair offered his Labour party on Tuesday a partial apology for waging war in Iraq, striving to pull angry supporters behind him ahead of an election next year.

But as two more British soldiers died in Iraq and a hostage remained under threat of death, the prime minister's hopes of drawing a line under two years that have wrecked his public trust ratings are far from secure.

"The evidence about Saddam having actual biological and chemical weapons ... has turned out to be wrong," Blair told Labour's annual conference, his nearest yet to a "mea culpa."

"The problem is I can apologize for the information that turned out to be wrong but I can't, sincerely at least, apologize for removing Saddam," he said. "The world is a better place with Saddam in prison not in power."

Blair's speech was interrupted twice by protesters, one yelling that the prime minister "had blood on his hands," others opposing a planned ban on fox-hunting. They were bundled out of the hall.


"I don't think this speech changed anything on Iraq," former minister Clare Short, who resigned over the war, told Reuters. "Iraq will go on being a mess but the party wants to win the election and will pull together for that."

Blair acknowledged terrorism would never be defeated unless Israelis and Palestinians were reconciled -- expressing frustration at a lack of progress ahead of U.S. elections.

"After November, I will make its revival a personal priority. Two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in an enduring peace would do more to defeat this terrorism than bullets alone can ever do," he said.

... but Jolly Old England may never be the same with all those foxes overrunning the heath.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Wadical White Wing, Bush's Best Buds

Sitting at the right hand of the Air Texas Chowder and Marching Society's Fearless Leader, the Wadical Whites are stalwart defenders of the the One True Faith, making them standard bearers for the Coalition of the Conniving and the Clueless ...

Grand Old Party Values for the New Millenium

God Gave U.S. 'What We Deserve,' Falwell Says (Wash Post, Sep14 '01)

"God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve," said Falwell, appearing yesterday on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club," hosted by Robertson.

"Jerry, that's my feeling," Robertson responded. "I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population."

Falwell said the American Civil Liberties Union has "got to take a lot of blame for this," again winning Robertson's agreement: "Well, yes."

Then Falwell broadened his blast to include the federal courts and others who he said were "throwing God out of the public square." He added:
"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.' "

People for the American Way transcribed the broadcast and denounced the comments as running directly counter to President Bush's call for national unity. Ralph G. Neas, the liberal group's president, called the remarks "absolutely inappropriate and irresponsible."

Robertson and others on the religious right gave critical backing to Bush last year when he was battling for the GOP presidential nomination. A White House official called the remarks "inappropriate" and added, "The president does not share those views."

Falwell was unrepentant, saying in an interview that he was "making a theological statement, not a legal statement."

"I put all the blame legally and morally on the actions of the terrorist," he said. But he said America's "secular and anti-Christian environment left us open to our Lord's [decision] not to protect. When a nation deserts God and expels God from the culture . . . the result is not good."

Robertson was not available for comment, a spokeswoman said. But she released a statement echoing the remarks he made on his show. An ACLU spokeswoman said the group "will not dignify the Falwell-Robertson remarks with a comment."¬Found=true

... but that ain't all. Not by a long shot mister!

On May 4, 2004 Alan Keyes said:

Now, you think it's a coincidence that on Sept. 11th, 2001, we were struck by terrorists an evil that has at its heart the disregard of innocent human life? We who have for several decades killed not thousands but scores of millions of our own children, in disregard of the principle of innocent human life — I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a warning. I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a shot across the bow.

I think that's a way of Providence telling us, "I love you all; I'd like to give you a chance. Wake up! Would you please wake up?

And on Aug 17, he elaborated:

As I often point out to folks, the evil is the same. And that means, quite frankly, in fighting the war against terror, as I have often put it to audiences, the evil that we fight is but the shadow of the evil that we do.

This kind of slimy rhetoric is typical in the Republican Party. Right now they are feverishly preparing to remake themselves for their prime-time show in New York — and their decision to put pro-choice Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Pataki, and Rudy Giuliani on the main stage during TV hour is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to cover up the real agenda of their party — an agenda set by Keyes's ideological partners and leaders in the party, like John Ashcroft, Tom DeLay, and Karl Rove.

And Keyes isn't the first Republican to link mainstream support of a woman's right to choose with terrorism.

[Here's the topper:]

On April 25, as more than a million women were marching on Washington in support of women's rights, influential Bush advisor Karen Hughes said:

I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life. President Bush has worked to say, "let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions." And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Bush-Cheney Ignored Numerous 9/11 Warnings

1/15/01 President Clinton and Nat'l Security Advisor Sandy Berger each tell Bush and Cheney al Qaeda planning "tremendous" and "imminent" attack, gives them plan of action (e.g., identify terrorists already in US, seize terrorist funding, bomb Taliban sites, etc.)

1/20/01 Bush & Cheney inaugurated.

1/25/01 Richard Clarke, Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG), gives Bush a similar plan, but is told the Energy Task Force is the priority. Bush pulls submarines, gunships from 6-hour alert in Arabian Sea. Clarke meets with Rice to emphasize threat. She asks him to prepare a policy paper and he does, but it "languished", Rice later admits, on her desk.

1/31/01 Bipartisan US Commission on National Security, issues report predicting terrorist attack in US, calls for urgent action. Co-chairs Gary Hart and Warren Rudman meet with Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell to emphasize the need for action. The report and their pleas are ignored. Bush says Cheney to "study the problem" and FEMA to handle domestic security but, instead, Cheney dissolves the Commission and reduces FEMA budget $200M.

4/30/01 Ahmed Ressam, foiled Y2K terrorist, tells investigators al Qaeda plans to attack the US using airplanes.

5/01 Cofer Black, CIA Counterterrorism Center, tells Bush administration about increased terrorist chatter about significant attack being planned.

5/01 Bush abandons Financial Action Task Force, which identifies sources of terrorist funding.

7/01 Egypt warns Bush that al Qaeda may try to "Kamikazee" a plane into any site where Bush might be. Bush sleeps on an aircraft carrier during the G-8 conference instead of on land with the other leaders.

7/01 CSG issues report entitled "Threat of Impending al-Qaeda Attack".

7/01 CIA Counterterrorism Center (CTC) announces al Qaeda is "planning something spectacular".

7/01 Senator Dianne Feinstein gives Dick Cheney draft legislation on counterrorism and urges swift action. (On 9/10/01, Cheney told her he needed more time to study it, to which Feinstein replies that there isn't time to spare.)

8/01 Bush goes on monthlong vacation.

8/6/01 Bush receives PDB "Bin Laden Determined To Strke in U.S."

8/15/01 Cofer Black tells the DOD's annual Convention on Counterterrorism "we are going to be struck soon, many Americans are going to die, and it could be in the U.S.".

Friday, September 10, 2004

Cheney was right

-- given this administration's success as the recruiting impetus for terrorism, a bad choice on Nov 2 could mean a bigger threat to us.

... How's that working for ya, Dick?
There are two kinds of walls: < RoughJustice > 09/10 05:47:36

Walls that keep people out, and those that keep people in. One kind is inherently bad, the other is just sensible...

(Reuters) - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon agreed Wednesday to changes in the route of Israel's West Bank barrier but insisted on keeping key Jewish settlement blocks inside, political sources said.

Israel's Defense Ministry had proposed changes after the Jewish state's highest court judged that the planned route of the barrier should take up less Palestinian land. The International Court of Justice ruled the barrier was illegal.

Israel says completed sections of the barrier, a network of razor-tipped fences and concrete walls, have already helped to prevent dozens of suicide bombings nearly four years into a Palestinian uprising.

Palestinians call it a grab for land they want for an independent state."

... well, yes, I suppose it is a de facto land grab. I'd be a bit more blunt about it if I were Ariel: "Kill a Jew, Lose a Mile -- It's the Law."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Inquiry Proposes Penalties for Hiding Medicare Data

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 - The Bush administration illegally withheld data from Congress on the cost of the new Medicare law, and as a penalty, the former head of the Medicare agency, Thomas A. Scully, should repay seven months of his salary to the government, federal investigators said Tuesday.

The investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said Mr. Scully had threatened to fire the chief Medicare actuary, in violation of an explicit provision of federal appropriations law.

Accordingly, they said, federal money could not be used to pay Mr. Scully's salary after he began making the threats to the actuary in May 2003.

The conclusion came in a formal legal opinion by the accountability office, an investigative arm of Congress formerly known as the General Accounting Office. The agency applied its interpretation of the law to factual findings previously made by the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Bush administration did not quarrel with those facts, but said on Tuesday that it was unconstitutional for Congress to compel the disclosure of data over objections from the executive branch.

Mr. Scully's salary in 2003 was $145,600, the department said. He would owe the government $84,933 under the legal opinion issued on Tuesday.

Asked in an interview if he would repay the money, Mr. Scully said: "No. I'm not required to. It's a matter of principle. I never did anything wrong, and I am proud of every minute of my three years at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.''

Mr. Scully, who now works for a law firm and a private investment firm, has registered as a lobbyist for Abbott Laboratories, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Caremark Rx and other health care companies, but says his actions in government were motivated solely by a desire to help Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers.

The White House had no immediate comment. William A. Pierce, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the department would not try to recover the money because Mr. Scully had "acted within his legal authority.''

But Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, cited the report as evidence that "the Bush administration broke the law by covering up the true cost of their phony Medicare bill.''

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey, one of 18 Democratic senators who requested the legal opinion, said the administration had purposely hidden information about "its flawed Medicare plan,'' and he asserted, "This was a corruption of the process at the highest levels.''

President Bush signed the Medicare law, widely seen as one of his major domestic achievements, on Dec. 8. Less than two months later, the White House said the law would cost much more than Congress had assumed - $534 billion over 10 years, as against $400 billion.

Lawmakers of both parties said the law would not have passed in its current form if Congress had known of the higher cost estimates, prepared by the chief actuary, Richard S. Foster, a career civil servant who has worked for the government since 1973 and received an award for outstanding service in 2001.

The law under which Mr. Scully could be penalized says that no federal money can be used to pay the salary of any federal employee who "prohibits or prevents, or attempts or threatens to prohibit or prevent, any other officer or employee of the federal government'' from communicating with Congress.

Similar laws have been on the books since 1912, when Senator Robert M. La Follette, a progressive Republican from Wisconsin, inveighed against "gag rules'' imposed by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

Laura Kopelson, a spokeswoman for the Government Accountability Office, said lawyers there were "not aware of any similar case'' in which a federal official was found to have violated the law. "This is the first time we have been asked to rule on this point of law,'' she said.

The finding is the latest development raising questions about the new statute, which offers drug benefits to all 41 million Medicare recipients and gives private insurers a huge new role in the program. The changes represent the biggest expansion of Medicare since its creation in 1965.

The Government Accountability Office said the Department of Health and Human Services should try to recover the money, just as it would try to secure payment of any debt owed to the department.

The department itself found that Mr. Scully had threatened to dismiss the actuary if he provided information and estimates sought by Congress last year in the heat of debate over Medicare.

But lawyers at the health department and the Justice Department said the law requiring the disclosure of information to Congress violated "executive privilege,'' the constitutional separation of powers and the president's right to control communications with Congress.

The Government Accountability Office rejected that argument. No court has ever held the law unconstitutional, it said, and the cost estimates were neither classified nor privileged. Indeed, it said, Mr. Scully's threats to the actuary were "a prime example of what Congress was attempting to prohibit'' when it outlawed "gag rules."

"Midlevel employees provide much of the information Congress needs to evaluate programs'' and legislation, the Senate said when it adopted the language of the 1912 law as part of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. Similar language was included in spending bills for 2003 and 2004.

Anthony H. Gamboa, general counsel of the Government Accountability Office, said the administration was "prohibited from paying Mr. Scully's salary after he barred Mr. Foster from communicating with Congress.'' The money appropriated by Congress was simply "unavailable for the payment of his salary,'' Mr. Gamboa wrote.

...Bad executive! No biscuit!

Arab Street may finally be getting the picture

"Muslims worldwide are the main perpetrators of terrorism, a humiliating and painful truth that must be acknowledged, a prominent Arab writer said today, as Middle East media and officials registered their horror at the bloody rebel siege of a Russian school.

Unusually forthright self-criticism followed the end of the hostage crisis, along with warnings such actions inflict more damage to the image of Islam than all its enemies combined could hope to do.

Arab leaders and Muslim clerics denounced the school seizure as unjustifiable and expressed their sympathy.

Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture,” Abdulrahman al-Rashed, general manager of Al-Arabiya television wrote in his daily column published in the pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper."

... How's that working for ya?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I think Michael Kinsley nailed it with this one:

"In four years, this small man had two historic opportunities to reach for greatness, to lead this country to a new and better place, and he passed up both. The first was when the Democrats patriotically bowed to a Supreme Court decision they believed to be wrong, if not corrupt, so that the U.S. could avoid a further constitutional crisis. What a moment for bipartisanship! Maybe put more than a token Democrat in the Cabinet? Not a chance.

George W. Bush's second opportunity came on Sept. 11, 2001. Past grievances suddenly seemed petty, current disagreements seemed irrelevant, and, even among Bush's opponents, desperate hope replaced sullen doubts that our nation's leader would be up to the task. Bush got this gift from the opposition—the suspension of dislike and disbelief—without doing anything to deserve it. He could have asked for and got anything he wanted in the weeks and months after 9/11. And he decided to invade Iraq.

For once, George W. Bush was tested. And he flunked. "

It's been a dreadful performance, a train wreck of an administration, and nobody to blame but themselves. Oh, yes, and Clinton. Dubya hasn't forgotten his A-B-C's -- Always Blame Clinton.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Politics of Anything Goes - Obama is behind the curve

"Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. "

... Wake up, Barack. They've already divided us. Now they're giving us the wedgie.

We're In Charge and We're Not Gonna Take It Anymore!

We've been in charge of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court for 4 years and we're not gonna take it anymore!

The Bush speech sounds like he's running against himself...

"My plan begins with providing the security and opportunity of a growing economy. We now compete in a global market that provides new buyers for our goods, but new competition for our workers. To create more jobs in America, America must be the best place in the world to do business. To create jobs, my plan will encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation, and making tax relief permanent. To create jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy. [I love that bit!] To create jobs, we will expand trade and level the playing field to sell American goods and services across the globe. And we must protect small business owners and workers from the explosion of frivolous lawsuits that threaten jobs across America."

... what were these bozos doing for the last 4 years?

Friday, September 03, 2004

See Paul Krugman's column at

"...a third [delegate] said, Mr. Soros "is a self-admitted atheist; he was a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust."
The suggestion that Mr. Soros, who has spent billions promoting democracy around the world, is in the pay of drug cartels came from Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, whom the Constitution puts two heartbeats from the presidency.

The claim that Mr. Soros's political spending is driven by his desire to legalize heroin came from Newt Gingrich. And the bit about the Holocaust came from Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of The [Moon-owned] Washington Times, which has become the administration's de facto house organ.

Why are the Republicans so angry? One reason is that they have nothing positive to run on (during the first three days, Mr. Bush was mentioned far less often than John Kerry).

The promised economic boom hasn't materialized, Iraq is a bloody quagmire, and Osama bin Laden has gone from "dead or alive" to he-who-must-not-be-named.

Another reason, I'm sure, is a guilty conscience. At some level the people at that convention know that their designated hero is a man who never in his life took a risk or made a sacrifice for his country, and that they are impugning the patriotism of men who have.

That's why Band-Aids with Purple Hearts on them, mocking Mr. Kerry's war wounds and medals, have been such a hit with conventioneers, and why senior politicians are attracted to wild conspiracy theories about Mr. Soros.

It's also why Mr. Hastert, who knows how little the Bush administration has done to protect New York and help it rebuild, has accused the city of an "unseemly scramble" for cash after 9/11. Nothing makes you hate people as much as knowing in your heart that you are in the wrong and they are in the right."

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Bush's ruinous economic plans

By Robert Kuttner | September 1, 2004

WE WILL shortly hear from the president himself, but the outlines of his domestic program for a second term are already all too clear. Take five key areas of economic policy -- health, Social Security, energy, taxes, and the deficit.

All five have this in common: In each case the administration program doesn't really address the underlying problem. Rather, the purpose is either to help an industry ally, stir up the party base, or advance an ideological goal (or all three).

Health Coverage. Health insurance premiums have risen by more than one-third since Bush took office, leaving more and more people uninsured or underinsured. Families USA calculates from Census Bureau data that one nonelderly American in three was without health insurance at some point from 2002 to 2003. Meanwhile, employers and insurers are moderating their own costs by increasing copays and deductibles paid by consumers.

The president's proposed health program, a massive expansion of so-called health savings accounts, doesn't address the twin problem of dwindling coverage and rising costs. It simply accelerates the shift of those costs onto consumers and gives affluent people one more tax break. Health savings accounts are useful mainly for the healthy and the wealthy because they don't buy coverage that is both comprehensive and affordable.

Social Security. The Bush plan to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part, is back. But there is no way that privatizing the system will shore up its finances. Rather, it will do just the opposite by diverting payroll tax revenue needed for Social Security payouts into new private accounts. To keep the promise of Social Security intact, Bush would need either massive new borrowing or massive tax hikes. But the more likely result is reductions in benefits. Of course, these cuts, like the damage from his deficits, would hit long after Bush left office.

Energy. There's a growing consensus among experts that the most recent wave of oil price hikes is not mainly the result of market manipulation, refining bottlenecks, or the Iraq occupation but the harbinger of the long-predicted depletion of the world's extractable oil reserves. With the huge populations of China, India, and other emergent economies joining the global consumer society, demand is simply outstripping supply.

Bush's program is essentially deeper and wider drilling, lubricated by friendly tax and environmental policies. His support for conservation or alternative energy sources is token at best. Last week three Bush Cabinet secretaries, just in time for the Republican National Convention, belatedly conceded that science has proven the reality of global climate change caused by carbon emissions. Bush said he was unaware of the report.

Taxes. The tax program for a second Bush term will be more of the same. One goal will be to make the tax cuts of 2001 to 2004 permanent. A new twist will be a shift to consumption taxes -- either a value-added tax, a national sales tax, or new tax breaks for money saved rather than spent. The result will be an overall reduction of taxes paid by those wealthy enough to save substantially and a shift onto workaday voters who spend most of what they earn. This will be advertised as a program to create jobs and reward entrepreneurship, but it sure didn't work in Bush's first term -- the only presidency since Hoover with fewer payroll jobs at the end than the beginning.

The deficit. Hardly anyone, Republican or Democrat, truly believes that the Bush tax-and-spending program will do anything other than make the deficit problem worse. The Congressional Budget Office, whose director is appointed by congressional Republicans, projects endless deficits in excess of $400 billion a year. If Bush succeeds in making recent tax cuts permanent and adding new ones, the deficits will be even more serious. With military outlay rising, the administration's only game plan is to backload the effect of tax cuts until after this president leaves office and cut domestic spending even further.