Saturday, August 21, 2004
The ad in question features a devastating indictment of Kerry by thirteen other officers who also claim to have served with Kerry in Vietnam. The officers make statement such as: "I know John Kerry is lying about his first purple heart because I treated him for that injury" and "John Kerry lied to get his bronze star . . . I know, I was there, I saw what happened."
Or, as comedian Jon Stewart so aptly puts it, these statements would be devastating indictments, if they happened to be true.
The ad is funded by a major Bush campaign donor, and the accompanying book Unfit for Command that has just been released by the right-wing Regnery Press and is shooting to the top of the best-seller lists is co-written by an extreme right-wing activist who has been quoted as referring to Bill Clinton as an "anti-American communist" and describing Islam as "a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion."
Enough said about the credibility and decency of those who are associated with this attack on Kerry's record.
Well, they can see the truth OK in Bangladesh. Now if only they could see it in Kansas.
It's a line in his campaign speech that usually draws laughs, but supporters and critics alike say President Bush is distorting what should be a serious discussion of tax policy by dismissing his rival's call for higher taxes on the rich with a quip that "most rich people are able to avoid taxes."
Bush has made that or similar remarks in more than half of his stump speeches across 10 swing states this month.
Critics in a range from the conservative side of the political spectrum to backers of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry say that although the wealthy use many legal techniques to minimize their taxes, Bush's broad-brush characterizations of tax avoidance are inappropriate and simply untrue.
"It's just something he made up himself," said Len Burman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute and co-director of the Tax Policy Center, operated jointly with the Brookings Institution.
"Rich people pay a lot of taxes, which is why they were so anxious to get tax cuts," he said. "The more coherent question is whether they're paying too much or too little."
It reminds me of that arrogant "only the little people pay taxes" remark from Leona Helmsley. Didn't she end up in jail?
To understand the Bush GOP Swift Liars, you have to first understand that America has walked through the looking glass. Watching the Bush GOP Swift Liars receive credibility from the press is kind of like looking at a nightmarish wall of distorted fun house mirrors.
Except this isn't fun. This is a tragedy for America.
In Bush's Fun House of dirty tricks, cowards are packaged as brave men - and brave men become victims of contemptible character assassination.
So the Bush GOP Swift Liars throw up some flak to defame a man, John Kerry, who served his country bravely in Vietnam - and to protect a coward, George W. Bush, who lets others do the dying and fighting for him.
That's not just wrong, it's un-American, unpatriotic and downright despicable.
And, apparently, it works.
[Also check out this Newsweek article by Eleanor Clift on the Swift Boat Tale-Tellers.]
Friday, August 20, 2004
The next salvo in the cinematic campaign war of 2004 is "The Big Picture," a documentary film attacking John Kerry sponsored by David Bossie's Citizens United, the right-wing group that unsuccessfully sued to stop national advertising of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." But Bossie's latest project could create legal problems for him and his organization - in part because Lionel Chetwynd, the award-winning director, is working not only on the documentary but also on two shorter films to be screened at the Republican National Convention.
The director's simultaneous involvement in both the convention films and the Bossie documentary raises eyebrows among campaign finance experts, because Citizens United is a tax-exempt foundation legally restricted from "coordinating" its "independent" political broadcasts or messages with the Bush-Cheney campaign or the Republican National Committee. If Chetwynd, Bossie, or anyone else working on "The Big Picture" discussed that project with RNC officials or the Bush-Cheney reelection committee, they could be violating the law.
The structure of the film, assuming that it follows the outline obtained by Salon, will be a methodical and ham-handed refutation of the "Anybody but Bush" arguments attributed to Moore, from the issue of the "stolen" 2000 election to the debate over the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks. The true villains in all those controversies, it claims, are Democrats Bill Clinton, Al Gore and, of course, John Kerry.
Don't forget Barbra Streisand. And Hillary!
It’s obvious that no mainstream news reporter has the gumption to seriously question Vice President Dick Cheney’s ethics when he was chief executive of Halliburton, the oil-field services company that is currently embroiled in a scandal with the Pentagon due to its questionable accounting practices related to its work in war-torn Iraq.
Pity those journalists because this is the stuff Pulitzers are made of. What’s even more remarkable is that there are reams of documents in the public domain showing how Cheney cooked the books when he was CEO of Halliburton, which makes the vice president look like Ken Lay’s twin brother. The evidence is beginning to collect dust. To tell the story of how Cheney’s Halliburton used accounting sleight of hand to fool investors all you need to do is connect the dots, which is what this story will do.
“The developments at Halliburton since Cheney's departure leave two possibilities: Either the vice president did not know of the magnitude of problems at the oilfield services company he ran for five years, or he sold his shares in August 2000 knowing the company was likely headed for a fall.”
Either way, the more evidence that surfaces related to Cheney’s role at Halliburton the more it becomes clear that the vice president is unfit to serve a second term in the White House.
I wonder if we'll ever be able to nail this guy on anything.
As former lawyer for former President Richard Nixon, author John Dean has seen his share of scandals.
Dean testified to Congress in 1973 that Nixon had helped cover up the Watergate burglary, in which agents for his re-election campaign tried to break into the Democratic National Party campaign office in the Watergate building. The cover-up led to Nixon's resignation as president.
Yet after 40 years of studying presidencies, Dean writes in his latest book [Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush] that the administration of George W. Bush has been the most secretive.
"I was (prompted to write this book) because I saw what the mainstream media was not covering: that is, the excessive secrecy in this presidency," Dean said in an interview Thursday.
Dean gave a speech Thursday night for an annual fund-raiser for the Foundation of Monterey County Free Libraries at the Embassy Suites in Seaside.
Dean said the Bush administration has blunted the press and has not been challenged enough by Congress on key issues from Sept. 11 to Bush's questionable reasoning for the use of force in Iraq. Dean said that the upcoming election in November could be susceptible to election rigging or scandals.
"Could you have another Watergate? Sure you could," he said.
Every time they mention Watergate I get nostalgic for Nixon.
His temperature-raising comments came in an interview with the Associated Press, in which Harkin responded to Cheney's recent criticism of Kerry.
Kerry said earlier this month that he would fight "a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror." Cheney and Bush have seized upon Kerry's use of the word "sensitive," suggesting that it indicates that the Massachusetts senator is too soft to adequately defend the country.
"When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil," said Harkin, who, like Kerry, is a veteran. "He'll be tough, but he'll be tough with someone else's kid's blood." Cheney received five deferments of military service.
Harkin added: "What he is doing and what he is saying is cowardly. The actions are cowardly."
I am pleased to hear a new voice speaking out on the alarming duplicity of Vice President Dick.
During a campaign rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday, President Bush recognized a series of local business owners and singled them out as beneficiaries of the three big tax cuts he has pushed through Congress since 2001. "Because they are dreamers and doers, people are working," the president said. It's the same folksy sales pitch Bush has used since the 2000 presidential campaign, linking his tax proposals with Main Street prosperity and the nation's "hard-working families."
But it's hard to square that Middle America rhetoric with a new study which shows that fully one-third of this year's federal tax cut went to the richest 1 percent of taxpayers, and that the Bush tax cuts since 2001 have actually shifted the federal tax burden off the very rich and onto the middle class. The data, contained in and derived from a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), shows how three years of tax cuts have squandered national wealth that could have gone to better purposes and reveals a yawning gap between White House packaging and tax reality.
Granted, the wealthy pay more taxes than other Americans, so it's inevitable that they'll get the biggest tax cuts. But these numbers are all out of proportion to the nation's actual tax burden. The top 1 percent of households pay about 22 percent of all federal taxes, according to the CBO, but got nearly nearly 34 percent of this year's tax cut. If the tax cut had been proportional - if the top 5 percent of households had simply received the same percentage tax relief as those in the middle - the Treasury would have saved $90 billion this year alone, according to Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. That's money that could have been better spent at a time of rising deficits and war in Iraq.
Gee, and if we hadn't had the tax cuts or invaded Iraq, how much more money would we have then? And how many fewer dead soldiers?
Deal Hudson, publisher of the conservative Catholic magazine Crisis and a close ally of the Bush administration, has resigned as an adviser to the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign because of allegations that he sexually harassed a Fordham University student a decade ago.
Hudson, 54, had been a key player in the Republican Party's effort to attract Roman Catholic voters. Because of his connections to the White House and friendship with senior presidential adviser Karl Rove, he was widely regarded as a Catholic powerbroker in Washington.
Hudson announced Wednesday in the online edition of National Review magazine that he was leaving his unpaid position in the Bush campaign 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 one regrets my past mistakes more than I do," Hudson wrote. But the incident is "now being dug up, I believe, for political reasons," he said.
Whenever these right-wingers get caught in their little sex crimes (and what is the story on the conservative obsession with sex?), they say two things: (1) "liberal media"; (2) "political smear". This Hudson character used both lines, right on cue. Bad Deal.
A poll conducted this summer for the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found nearly 80 percent of people receiving Medicare benefits favored changing federal law to allow drug importation from Canada if it meant lower costs for their prescription medicines.
At the same time, the survey found large majorities saying they did not think drug importation would lead to a reduction in drug quality or safety, or less research and development by pharmaceutical companies.
But despite the efforts of Illinois and other states and municipalities to push for drug importation programs for public workers, retirees and the elderly, the Bush administration, and the Clinton White House before that, had staunchly resisted such moves.
Earlier this week, however, Bush appeared open to considering drug importation.
While Blagojevich urged Bush to "stop studying and to start helping," Kerry's campaign questioned the president's sincerity on the issue as a campaign ploy to seniors.
"With less than 80 days until the election and most seniors saying they don't like his sham of a Medicare bill, it looks like George W. Bush has told his friends at the big drug companies, `Hey don't worry, I got to sound like I'm for it, but I'm still with you,'" said Kerry spokesman Phil Singer.
That would be a very Bushlike thing to say.
Monday, August 16, 2004
The press corps appears to have had about enough of those hokey "Ask President Bush" events.
Instead of taking questions from reporters, President Bush has become increasingly partial to playing talk-show host to an audience of sycophantic fans.
There were four "Ask President Bush" events last week and in each case, after a long speech and staged interviews with prepped guests, Bush opened the floor to some incredible softballs.
The format allows the president to come off as very smooth.
Maura Reynolds writes in the Los Angeles Times: "At town hall-style events from Niceville, Fla., to Albuquerque to Beaverton, Ore., many supporters posed the president with religiously themed questions and comments about faith, prayer and issues such as abortion and stem cell research.
"And although the president does not usually shy away from discussing his personal faith, he sometimes found himself in an awkward position -- trying to validate his supporters' views without endorsing them in a way that would alienate more-moderate swing voters. . . .
"Which is why the president deflected the comment with a joke when a 60-year-old man in Niceville, Fla., said Tuesday, 'This is the very first time that I have felt that God was in the White House.'"
The mind boggles at the sacrilege and irreligiosity in this believer's inane remark. How many of these people are there again? Is there somewhere they could all go?
In his recent speech to the UNITY Journalists of Color Convention, John Kerry said, "I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history." Sounds pretty sensible. But it didn't take long for Team Bush's top attack dog - uh, I mean, the vice president - Dick Cheney to cherry-pick Kerry's comments. At a campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio, Crashcart told the crowd, "America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive ... A sensitive war will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more. The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity."
Nice spin, Dick. Perhaps you should mention some of that to your boss though, because here's Dubya at the UNITY convention the day after John Kerry: "Now in terms of the balance between running down intelligence and bringing people to justice obviously is - we need to be very sensitive on that." Whoops! Oh, and here's Dubya at the USS Reagan ceremony in March 2001: "Precisely because America is powerful, we must be sensitive about expressing our power and influence ... In all our dealings with other nations, we will display the modesty of true confidence and strength." Oh no! Tsk tsk, Dick will be disappointed that the Boy Blunder just made him look like a total buffoon. No supper for you, Georgie!
But the Florida lawmaker stands by her statement that based on classified information, the United States has thwarted more than 100 potential terrorist attacks.
Harris, who was at the center of the political storm over the disputed 2000 presidential election, made the comments about terrorism and the plot on Monday at a rally for President Bush in Venice, Fla., and a subsequent interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
She told the audience that while in the Midwest recently, the mayor of Carmel told her how a man of Middle Eastern heritage had been arrested and hundreds of pounds of explosives were found in his home.
"He had plans to blow up the area's entire power grid," she said, according to the newspaper.
City officials in Carmel said they know of no such plot.
"We're aware of the comments we read in the paper," said Tim Green, assistant chief of police in Carmel, a town about 10 miles north of Indianapolis. "We're not aware of any plans to blow up Carmel's power grid."
Nancy Heck, a spokeswoman for Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, said, "The mayor never talked to Katherine Harris. They never had that conversation."
Why do we need Ann Coulter when we already had Katherine Harris? As far as I can tell, Ms. Harris simply made up this story about the power grid in Carmel. How bizarre.
[Swift Boat smear artist] John O’Neil may be a lot of things but a seeker of truth, as he puts it, is not one them. He is, first and foremost, a conservative Republican of the neo-con persuasion and an ardent supporter of Bush; Seeker of truth — not by any stretch of the imagination.
What John O’Neill is is a Houston lawyer whose law firm “Clements, O’Neill, Pierce, Wilson & Fulkerson, L.L.P. handles “Commercial, Oil & Gas, Securities, Intellectual Property & Employment litigation.” In fact, one of his law partners, Margaret Wilson, was the general council for Bush from 1998 to 2000 while he was Texas governor. It just gets better from here.
It seems as though prior to working for Bush, Wilson layered for the law firm of Venson & Elkins, Enron’s main law firm. Interesting side note: Steven Cambone, the current Bush general council whose memo’s told Bush how to circumvent the law on the torturing of prisoners, also worked for Venson & Elkins. Does anyone smell a foul odor yet?
Joe Conason, writing in Salon, May 4th of this year, quoted O’Neill’s own public relations man stating, O’Neill is sounding like a “crazed extremist.” And that comes from someone in his camp!
Wake up people! John O’Neill is one of the Houston Oil/Gas, corporate Republican good old boys. What he and his supporters are attempting to do in this baseless smear campaign directed at John Kerry is nothing more than an attempt to divert our attention from where it should be, and that’s on George W. Bush. Did I mention that in 1991, papa Bush considered O’Neill for a federal judgeship?
This stroke of political genius recently appeared in New Mexico prior to another flawless appearance by the vice president. A Bush-Cheney spokesman said loyalty oaths were necessary to avoid Democrats' disruption of the event. I think he was referring to difficult questions about Halliburton and secret meetings between Cheney and the Enron guys.
But just think of the possibilities with this thing. Local governing bodies would finally operate smoothly without the mettlesome naysayers who raise uncomfortable questions during public meetings. Judges could rule without fear of reversal. And presidents might declare war just because they could.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Dick Cheney and John Edwards have a few things in common: They are both running for vice president and they are both Homo sapiens.
But you would struggle to find two greater stylistic opposites in American politics.
Edwards is a populist outsider; Cheney is a capitalist insider.
Edwards, who is 51 but looks younger, is known for his oratorical flair and exuberance. Cheney, who is 63 but looks older, is known for his reticence and discretion. He takes as a mantra, "You never get in trouble for something you don't say." (A quote he attributes to former House speaker Sam Rayburn.) Edwards's wife, Elizabeth, calls her relentlessly sunny husband "the most optimistic person I know." Cheney once took a personality test that found him best-suited to a career as a funeral director.
Edwards runs four miles a day. Cheney has had four heart attacks.
As he walked out a back door, the vice president vigorously rubbed his hands with sanitizing lotion provided by an aide.
He's a real man of the people, isn't he?