Saturday, September 18, 2004
Bush surrogates, including campaign chairman Marc Racicot and former Sen. Bob Dole, sought to distract attention from news reports yesterday that the consensus of the US intelligence community, contained in [a recently released] classified intelligence report, directly contradicts recent Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld public statements about prospects for US success in Iraq. Both Bush spokespeople attacked MoveOn PAC's ad without noting the obvious conflict between the Administration's rosy scenarios and the intelligence community's dire warnings that corroborated the central message of the ad.
As it began running, new evidence emerged of Bush's failure to tell the truth about Iraq. On August 5, President Bush told us, "(Iraq is) on the path to lasting democracy and liberty," at the White House as he signed the Defense bill.
Then on Aug 24, Vice President Cheney told voters in Iowa: "We're moving in the right direction (in Iraq)."
"So we have a President who has misled the American people on Weapons of Mass Destruction and the likelihood of nuclear weapons development in Iraq - claims that were refuted again in a draft report written by the top American weapons inspector in Iraq, made public in the media today," said Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn PAC.
"They told us our troops would be welcomed as liberators; now over 1,000 are dead. They told us the war would pay for itself, and now we've spent $150 billion. Americans deserve to see the N.I.E. in its entirety, so they can judge for themselves how truthful this President has been about the adequacy of his leadership on Iraq," Pariser said
If Bush supporters actually cared about the job he is doing as president, he wouldn't have any supporters. Unfortunately, all the Bush cult seems to care about is abortion, gay marriage, stem cells, and other sex-related issues that are not part of the president's actual job. As long as this is true, and as long as 42% of the people believe that Saddam masterminded 9/11, we'll never get rid of this guy.
Campaign mail with a return address of the Republican National Committee warns West Virginia voters that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry men if liberals win in November.
The literature shows a Bible with the word "BANNED" across it and a photo of a man, on his knees, placing a ring on the hand of another man with the word "ALLOWED." The mailing tells West Virginians to "vote Republican to protect our families" and defeat the "liberal agenda."
Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said Friday that he wasn't aware of the mailing, but said it could be the work of the RNC. "It wouldn't surprise me if we were mailing voters on the issue of same-sex marriage," Gillespie said.
The flier says Republicans have passed laws "protecting life," support defining marriage as between a man and a woman and nominate conservative judges who will "interpret the law and not legislate from the bench." It does not mention the names of the presidential candidates.
Jim Jordan, a spokesman for Americans Coming Together, described the mailing as "standard-issue Republican hate-mongering."
The sad thing is, the people they are aiming this at are the very ones most likely to be taken in by it. I like the way it combines fear, hate, and religious zealotry. How deft.
Thirty years ago a man who had honorably served his country in Vietnam came home. He saw the writing on the wall. As a man of conscience and a decorated war hero, he appeared before Congress and posed an appropriate and morally compelling question: "Who will you ask to be the last soldier to die in Vietnam?"
Not long thereafter, after years of negotiating the shape of the table, Henry Kissinger was able to secure "an honorable withdrawal of U. S. troops from the conflict." News flash: We lost! Not sort of — absolutely and unequivocally.
Our loss was not due to Jane Fonda or protesters, or liberals, and certainly not because of the actions and testimony of John Kerry. We lost because we thought we could impose American values and democracy on another country.
None of the leaders in the present Bush administration, with the exception of Colin Powell, had experience in Vietnam or learned the lessons from that defeat. As a result, and against the original advice of Powell, we now find ourselves engaged once again dividing a nation in two countries. It's a risky proposition with a clear history of failure. We are currently failing in both.
Friday, September 17, 2004
Perhaps never before has a president sought a second term by endlessly hyping the catastrophic failures of his first four years in office. On both 9/11 and Iraq, the Bush campaign team long ago decided that truth is a luxury American voters can no longer afford.
Instead of admitting that 9/11 was the biggest U.S. intelligence failure since Pearl Harbor, the Bush administration turned 9/11 into a moral Dunkirk. From the first days after 9/11, the Bush administration created a mythology that would spur reverence for both the president and the government. Bush wrapped himself in a flag drenched with the blood of Americans who died due to the failure of the federal government he commanded, and sadly the people bought it – and still continue to buy it. In a September 7-9 national poll, Bush led Kerry on who the people believed would keep the United States safe by 23 points.
It is tripe to claim that violence in Iraq is linked to violence everywhere in the world. Iraq was no hotbed of terrorism before the United States invaded. Bush has turned a California-sized country into the world's largest terrorist training camp. And the actions of American forces are creating the best recruiting advertisements for terrorist groups. Not only does Bush continue to trumpet the lie that his war has protected the U.S. from terror, but he boasts of "progress" in Iraq, while America's military experts see the war as "lost." Jeffrey Record, a professor of strategy at a U.S. war college recently told Salon, "I see no ray of light on the horizon at all... The worst case has become true."
And the Bush cult chants, "Four more years!"
The CIA report, which was prepared for Bush in July, cited a worst-case scenario of a slide into civil war and said the most optimistic outlook involved continued instability and security concerns, according to officials who have seen it.
"In Iraq, there's ongoing acts of violence," Bush told a rally in St. Cloud. But he added, "Freedom is on the march."
Bush did not mention the intelligence report while on the stump but White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "The Iraqi people are proving that those scenarios are wrong by the progress that they are making to build a better future."
What does "freedom is on the march" mean, anyway? And what planet are these people living on?
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Most people have long forgotten the crisis that erupted early in his term, when a U.S. spy plane landed in China after colliding with a Chinese fighter. When Beijing demanded an apology before it would release the crew, Bush refused, only to back down. In the end, the administration issued a letter saying it was "very sorry" for the plane's intrusion.
Early on, Bush met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and emerged glowing with admiration: "I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy... I was able to get a sense of his soul." Apparently his glimpse into Putin's soul missed the Russian leader's authoritarian tendencies. Those became hard to ignore this week when he proposed to strengthen his own power - dismaying democracy advocates in Russia, but drawing no rebuke from Bush.
Nor was Bush fiercely resolute in confronting Al Qaeda. He came into office only three months after the terrorist attack on the USS Cole. At first, it was uncertain who carried out the bombing, but by the time Bush arrived, the CIA had pinned the blame on Osama bin Laden. Yet Bush let the attack go unavenged.
That's what you get when incompetent political ideologues are in charge of military misadventures.
[Kerry] needs to hit the president - again and again and again - right smack in the middle of his supposed strength: Bush’s “strong,” “steadfast, “unwavering,” “decisive” leadership in the War on Terror. This frontal assault on Bush’s terror strategy centers on all the ways this president has failed us. So, let me review them:
For starters, there is his disastrous decision to invade - for all intents and purposes unilaterally - Iraq, an operation Bush termed a “catastrophic success.” More like a catastrophic diversion - of troops and money and focus that would have been better spent, oh, I don’t know, going after the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11.
Right after those attacks, Bush said that capturing Osama bin Laden was “our number one priority.” But three years later, bin Laden is still on the loose and plotting to attack us again, a fact that Bush and Cheney keep trying to make us forget - first by turning him into He Who Must Not Be Named, and second by continuing to trot out the lies connecting Saddam Hussein to 9/11. Lies so thoroughly discredited that even loyal soldier Colin Powell felt compelled last Sunday to shoot them down.
Yet, hard though it is to believe, a Newsweek poll last week found that 42 percent of Americans still think Saddam was “directly involved in planning, financing or carrying out the terrorist attacks.”
But, according to the US military's leading strategists and prominent retired generals, Bush's war is already lost. Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, told me: "Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." He adds: "Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends."
Retired general Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, told me: "The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options. We're conducting a campaign as though it were being conducted in Iowa, no sense of the realities on the ground. It's so unrealistic for anyone who knows that part of the world. The priorities are just all wrong."
Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, said: "I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true. There's no analogy whatsoever between the situation in Iraq and the advantages we had after the second world war in Germany and Japan."
The person responsible for this mess should be thrown out of office. Or impeached.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
He's strong. He's resolute. He looks evildoers in the eye and doesn't blink. He's our national daddy, standing in the doorway with a righteous six-gun and a steely gaze, striking fear in the hearts of all who would do us harm. By god, George W. Bush is a real man.
Or is he? We certainly know that Bush wants us to believe he's a real man - in fact, there are few things he works harder at. Sometimes it seems as if the entire might of the United States government is being wielded for the purpose of creating photo ops where Bush can look manly. We saw plenty of examples at the Republican convention; the video introducing Bush, narrated with the profound vocal stylings of actor/politician Fred Thompson, begins this way: "How do you tell the story of a presidency? How do you tell the story so far? The story is, in part, but inescapably, the story of a man."
And of course, he was a cheerleader in high school. How girlie is that?
The article provides numerous examples of "manly" Bush's cowardice and all-around sissiness. Jeez, he's an even bigger wimp than his father.
George W. Bush's aides apparently see him as a "transformational" president, but it remains to be seen what sort of transformation would result if Bush is given a second term.
A hint, which should be disturbing to Americans, is seen in last week's release of a transatlantic survey of Americans and Europeans, which shows a serious, widening gap between Europeans and the Bush administration on foreign policy.
The poll, for the German Marshall Fund of the United States, was conducted in the U.S. and 10 European nations by a Gallup affiliate and has a margin of error of 3 percent.
Europeans gave Bush foreign policy a 76 percent vote of disapproval, and even Poland and Italy, where U.S. policy had previously been favored, turned against us in the 2004 survey. The "disapproval rate" increased 20 percentage points in just two years. The survey validates anecdotal findings that the Bush administration has cut a very nasty trench between America and our traditional allies. Americans traveling in Europe find themselves welcome as individuals and on the defensive when it comes to politics.
We have come a huge distance from 9/11, when all of Europe rallied to our side, and even from the ensuing invasion of Afghanistan, which was well-supported in Europe.
Iraq was the turning point. If the president had kept his eye on Osama bin Laden instead of avenging old hates by going after Saddam Hussein, European views would have been dramatically different.
And if my aunt had wheels, she'd be a teacart.
US President George W. Bush downplayed on Tuesday the deadly unrest in Iraq after a car bombing in central Baghdad killed more than 50 people.
"Despite ongoing acts of violence, Iraq now has a strong prime minister, a National Council, and national elections are scheduled in January," Bush said at a campaign rally.
Bush vowed that the United States would help Iraq move towards the elections scheduled in January next year.
"We will help them move towards elections, we will get them on the path of stability and democracy as quickly as possible, and then our troops will return home with the honors they have earned," Bush said.
Over 50 people were killed in a car bombing blast near a police station in Haifa street in central Baghdad on Tuesday, and at least nine cars were destroyed in the powerful blast which sent thick plumes of black smoke into the sky.
Haifa street was the scene of a fierce battle between US forces and Iraqi insurgents on Sunday, in which at least 13 people were killed and 55 others wounded.
It takes a special kind of man to hear this kind of news and then go right out and say everything's on track. And by the way, I wouldn't count on those January elections.
The New York Times reports "Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency has fewer experienced case officers assigned to its headquarters unit dealing with Osama bin Laden than it did at the time of the attacks." The bin Laden unit is "stretched so thin that it relies on inexperienced officers rotated in and out every 60 to 90 days, and they leave before they know enough to be able to perform any meaningful work."
The revelation comes months after the Associated Press reported the Bush Treasury Department "has assigned five times as many agents to investigate Cuban embargo violations as it has to track Osama bin Laden's" financial infrastructure. It also comes after USA Today reported that the President shifted "resources from the bin Laden hunt to the war in Iraq" in 2002. Specifically, Bush moved special forces tracking al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and into Iraq war preparations. He also left the CIA "stretched badly in its capacity to collect, translate and analyze information coming from Afghanistan." That has allowed these terrorists to regroup: according to the senior intelligence officials in July of this year, bin Laden and other top al Qaeda leaders are now directing a plot "to carry out a large-scale terror attack against the United States" and are overseeing the plan "from their remote hideouts somewhere along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border."
We have to keep hammering on this point.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
The founder of the group Texans for Truth said Tuesday that he is offering $50,000 to anyone who can prove President Bush fulfilled his service requirements, including required duties and drills, in the Alabama Air National Guard in 1972.
The group made the announcement as Bush was in Las Vegas, Nevada, to address the National Guard Association's convention.
"Today would be a fine day for him to finally answer all the questions that have dogged him since he entered public life," the group's founder, Glenn Smith, said in a statement.
"Bush's dishonesty about missing from service during Vietnam goes to the heart of his presidency. He was dishonest then just as he is misleading us about why we went to war with Iraq. He dodges responsibility then just as he dodges responsibility for Iraq today."
A business school professor who taught George W. Bush at Harvard University in the early 1970s says the future president told him that family friends had pulled strings to get him into the Texas Air National Guard.
Yoshi Tsurumi, in his first on-camera interview on the subject, told CNN that Bush confided in him during an after-class hallway conversation during the 1973-74 school year.
"He admitted to me that to avoid the Vietnam draft, he had his dad - he said 'Dad's friends' - skip him through the long waiting list to get him into the Texas National Guard," Tsurumi said. "He thought that was a smart thing to do."
Bush had transferred to Air National Guard reserve status before he enrolled in the MBA program. He had enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1968 and trained to fly fighter jets until he was suspended from flying status in August 1972 for failing to submit to an annual physical, according to Bush's military records released earlier this year.
Tsurumi said he remembers Bush because every teacher remembers their best and worst students, and Bush was in the latter group.
"Lazy. He didn't come to my class prepared," Tsurumi said. "He did very badly."
That's our George.
On Sunday, a celebrating crowd gathered around a burning U.S. armored vehicle. Then a helicopter opened fire; a child and a journalist for an Arabic TV news channel were among those killed. Later, the channel repeatedly showed the journalist doubling over and screaming, "I'm dying; I'm dying."
Such scenes, which enlarge the ranks of our enemies by making America look both weak and brutal, are inevitable in the guerrilla war President Bush got us into. Osama bin Laden must be smiling.
U.S. news organizations are under constant pressure to report good news from Iraq. In fact, as a Newsweek headline puts it, "It's worse than you think." Attacks on coalition forces are intensifying and getting more effective; no-go zones, which the military prefers to call "insurgent enclaves," are spreading - even in Baghdad. We're losing ground.
And the losses aren't only in Iraq. Al Qaeda has regrouped. The invasion of Iraq, intended to demonstrate American power, has done just the opposite: nasty regimes around the world feel empowered now that our forces are bogged down. When a Times reporter asked Mr. Bush about North Korea's ongoing nuclear program, "he opened his palms and shrugged."
Yet many voters still believe that Mr. Bush is doing a good job protecting America.
I was sorry that I had not listened to him about George W. Bush and even sorrier that I had not listened to him about the war in Iraq, which he had opposed. Now, if it is not too late, I recommend that John Kerry do what I now do: Pay attention to Teddy Kennedy and what he has to say. On Friday, Kennedy delivered a Senate speech that’s worth a gaggle of campaign consultants of the sort Kerry has been hiring in lieu of plumbing his own gut. Kennedy accused the Bush administration of “arrogant ideological incompetence.”
It’s hard to be either more succinct or more on target. The little phrase sums up all that ails both Bush and his administration - everything from a misguided crusade to liberate Iraq (and the Mideast) from despotism to the strut of the president himself. It fingers the reason why Bush and his boys went to war in Iraq, expecting what Kennedy called “a cakewalk.” This was the triumph of ideology over common sense, a belief propounded by neoconservatives within and without the administration that beneath every Iraqi lurked the Music Man and U.S. troops would be greeted by, at a minimum, 76 trombones. A predisposition to believe your own fantasies makes a very sweet sound indeed.
No matter how big the federal deficit may appear to be, the economy can quickly grow its way out. That, anyway, is President Bush's claim. To his coterie of supply-side enthusiasts, tax cuts are the equivalent of a real perpetual motion machine. The faster you cut taxes, so the theory goes, the more revenue the federal Treasury should receive as the economy booms.
Considering what that theory did to the U.S. economy under Ronald Reagan, it's the triumph of hope over experience. Reagan scrambled to enact tax increases to ameliorate huge deficits.
Even as the current White House clings to the theory, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office projects a $422-billion deficit this year and $2.3 trillion over the next decade, even if the current tax cuts, technically set to expire over the next few years, are not extended. If they are, it projects a tab of $4.5 trillion. The $2.3 trillion is already higher than the office's previous estimate in March because of increased spending by Congress, which is stuck with paying for, among other things, prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In other words, this deficit, unlike previous ones, is not a blip, but a structural one. To make it look as though the deficit actually were on the mend, the administration is trumpeting the current record $422-billion estimate as lower than its original, deliberately overstated $445-billion prediction in July. It isn't as though Congress is resisting. To disguise the true costs of many tax cuts, Congress phases them out each year on paper, only to renew them in practice. Even the CBO's $4.5-trillion deficit over 10 years is almost surely too optimistic — it's based on the assumption that funding for domestic programs will not rise faster than inflation and not keep pace with population growth.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes declared Tuesday that Jesus, if he were able to vote in Illinois this year, would oppose Democrat Barack Obama because of votes Obama has cast in the state Senate against anti-abortion legislation.
"Christ would not vote for Barack Obama because Barack Obama has voted to behave in a way that it is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved," Keyes said.
The comments were the latest in a series of controversial remarks made by Keyes, a conservative former talk show host and presidential candidate imported from Maryland by the state GOP after primary winner Jack Ryan dropped out of the race.
"People will have to make that judgment for themselves," Keyes said.
Have you noticed how much faith-based political news there is these days?
Monday, September 13, 2004
A thousand dead in Iraq. For what? History's highest budget deficit. For what? George W. Bush has been so reckless with America's lives, wealth and reputation and so stupendously incompetent and untrustworthy overall as to defy belief that anyone but Halliburton and the House of Saud would want him to be elected.
And yet, if the polls are accurate, Bush is leading. Dismal as that news may be, what's more to be feared is the reason. Though they see through him in nearly every other respect, many people are convinced of his leadership, his courage, his sense of resolve.
This triumph for the art of propaganda - all we really know about his courage, after all, is how little of it he displayed during Vietnam - signifies mortal danger for American democracy.
The "man on horseback" mentality, the belief that a leader's strength is more important than where it leads them, defines a population that is vulnerable to dictatorship.
This is not to call Bush a dictator or suggest that he wants to be one. But let no one believe that it couldn't happen here, as has happened so often elsewhere.
I guess a country gets the dictator it deserves.
Busted! Like a teenager whose beer bash is interrupted by his parents' early return home, President Bush's nearly three years of bragging about his "war on terror" credentials has been exposed by the bipartisan 9/11 commission as nothing more than empty posturing.
Without dissent, five prominent Republicans joined an equal number of their Democratic Party peers in stating unequivocally that the Bush Administration got it wrong, both in its lethargic response to an unprecedented level of warnings during what the commission calls the "Summer of Threat," as well as in its inclusion of Iraq in the war on terror.
It was at this point, of course, that George W. Bush began the longest presidential vacation in thirty-two years. On the very first day of his visit to his Texas ranch, August 6, Bush received the now-infamous two-page intelligence alert titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in the United States." Yet instead of returning to the capital to mobilize an energetic defensive posture, he spent an additional twenty-seven days away as the government languished in summer mode, in deep denial.
I watched a PBS documentary this evening about the non-response of the Bush White House to numerous - seemingly endless - warnings about upcoming terrorist attacks inside the US. Watching Condoleezza sit there spinning lies to those Congressmen, hearing how John Ashcroft "didn't want to hear about it any more", and seeing Our Great Leader sawing wood on the ranch instead of DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT, had me shaking my head at the staggering, overwhelming incompetence of these people. How can we even consider returning them to power? The mind boggles.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
But a look more deeply at Cheney’s career shows our current vice president either suffers from amnesia, self-hatred, or a little bit of both. It was Congressman Cheney, after all - not Senator Kerry - who contradicted his own party during the height of the Cold War and called for President Ronald Reagan to "take a whack" at defense spending. It was Defense Secretary Cheney - not Senator Kerry - who in 1992 blocked critical intelligence reforms and bragged to Congress about gutting defense spending.
In fact, the vice president’s previous actions are remarkably consistent with behavior he now excoriates. His blustery rhetoric is designed not only to distort Kerry’s record but to hide his own.
[This article originally appeared in The American Prospect. It's interesting that it was picked up for the CBS News site. Is CBS our new friend?]
Harry Wettig, a lifelong Republican and retired public servant of 34 years who served in the Army Air Corps as a twin engine pilot in WW II, is outraged by Vice President Cheney's remarks two days ago in Iowa. Wettig says, "Dick Cheney made the ultimate threat to the American people when he said, 'If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States.'" In Wettig's view Cheney was really saying "If you don't vote for George and me, it is your fault when you get hit by the terrorists again."
Wettig asks "Mr. Vice President, how much more terror can you hope to inspire? Your remark is trying to undermine the democratic system of this country. It is clearly un-American." Wettig operates the web site RepublicansAgainstBush.info that has been tracking Bush administration actions and policies on issues important to moderate Republicans, including security. He believes that there is nothing in the Department of Homeland Security's current plans, or in the words of Bush or Cheney to make the American people feel any safer. "All we hear from them is that the level of terror for today is 'orange'. That is not protection"
Rich Fletcher, of Durango, CO, who calls himself "another Republican for common sense," agrees with Wettig. "Imagine the temerity of two draft-dodgers calling their Vietnam veteran opponent a threat to national security!" Fletcher believes that the writings of White House insiders like Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill show that in the period leading up to the 9-11 attacks, the administration’s attention was focused mainly on planning a Cold War-style strategic missile program, and as a result terrorists slipped past them. "Then when Mr. Bush used 9-11 as an excuse to launch America’s first unprovoked attack - against a nation that hadn’t had a hand in 9-11 and was under intense surveillance and inspections - he generated unprecedented hatred in the world toward the United States," Fletcher suggests. "Did that decision make us safer?"
How many Republicans feel this way? Are there some sensible moderates remaining in the party after all?
While working relentlessly to portray Democratic Sen. John Kerry as a "flip-flopper," President Bush has his own history of changing his position, from reversals on steel tariffs and "nation-building" to reasons for invading Iraq.
Most recently, Bush did an about-face on whether the proposed new director of national intelligence should have full budget-making powers as the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission recommended. Bush at first indicated no, then last week said yes.
• He opposed a Homeland Security Department, then embraced it.
• He opposed creation of an independent Sept. 11 commission, then supported it. He first refused to speak to its members, then agreed only if Vice President Dick Cheney came with him.
• Bush argued for free trade, then imposed three-year tariffs on steel imports in 2002, only to withdraw them after 21 months.
• Last month, he said he doubted the war on terror could be won, then reversed himself the next day to say it could and would.
• A week after the Sept. 11 attack, Bush said he wanted Osama bin Laden "dead or alive." But he told reporters six months later, "I truly am not that concerned about him." He did not mention bin Laden in his hourlong acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.
• "I’m a war president," Bush told NBC’s Meet the Press on Feb. 8. But in a July 20 speech in Iowa, he said: "Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president."
Bush also keeps revising his Iraq war rationale: the need to seize Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction until none was found; liberating the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator; fighting terrorists in Iraq not at home; spreading democracy throughout the Middle East. Now it’s a safer America and a safer world.
"No matter how many times Sen. Kerry flip-flops, we were right to make America safer by removing Saddam Hussein from power," he said last week in Missouri.
Bush has changed his positions on new Clean Air Act restrictions, protecting the Social Security surplus, tobacco subsidies, the level of assistance to help combat AIDs in Africa, campaign-finance reform and whether to negotiate with North Korean officials.
But remember, he's a "straight shooter", and Kerry is a "flip-flopper". Got it?
U.S. forces are working frantically to train Iraqis for the thankless job of maintaining public order. The aim is to boost Iraqi security forces from 95,000 to 200,000 by sometime next year. Then, using a mixture of force and diplomacy, the Americans plan to retake cities and install credible local forces. That's the hope, anyway. But the quality of new recruits is debatable. During recent street demonstrations in Najaf, police opened fire on crowds, killing and injuring dozens. The insurgents, meanwhile, are recruiting, too. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once referred to America's foes in Iraq as "dead-enders," then the Pentagon maintained they probably numbered 5,000, and now senior military officials talk about "dozens of regional cells" that could call upon as many as 20,000 fighters.
Yet U.S. officials publicly insist that Iraq will somehow hold national elections before the end of January. The appointed council currently acting as Iraq's government under interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is to be replaced by an elected constitutional assembly - if the vote takes place. "I presume the election will be delayed," says the Iraqi Interior Ministry's chief spokesman, Sabah Kadhim. A senior Iraqi official sees no chance of January elections: "I'm convinced that it's not going to happen. It's just not realistic. How is it going to happen?" Some Iraqis worry that America will stick to its schedule despite all obstacles. "The Americans have created a series of fictional dates and events in order to delude themselves," says Ghassan Atiyya, director of the independent Iraq Foundation for Development and Democracy, who recently met with Allawi and American representatives to discuss the January agenda. "Badly prepared elections, rather than healing wounds, will open them."
Well, we've got a little "bad election" problem ourselves. And every time Bush speaks, he tells us how well we are doing in Iraq and pledges to "stay the course". And the Republicans bellow "Four more years!" Obviously, our nation has gone insane.
Last February, White House spokesman Scott McClellan held aloft sections of President Bush's military record, declaring to the waiting press that the files "clearly document the president fulfilling his duties in the National Guard." Case closed, he said.
But last week the controversy reared up once again, as several news outlets, including U.S. News, disclosed new information casting doubt on White House claims.
A review of the regulations governing Bush's Guard service during the Vietnam War shows that the White House used an inappropriate - and less stringent - Air Force standard in determining that he had fulfilled his duty. Because Bush signed a six-year "military service obligation," he was required to attend at least 44 inactive-duty training drills each fiscal year beginning July 1. But Bush's own records show that he fell short of that requirement, attending only 36 drills in the 1972-73 period, and only 12 in the 1973-74 period. The White House has said that Bush's service should be calculated using 12-month periods beginning on his induction date in May 1968. Using this time frame, however, Bush still fails the Air Force obligation standard.
Moreover, White House officials say, Bush should be judged on whether he attended enough drills to count toward retirement. They say he accumulated sufficient points under this grading system. Yet, even using their method, which some military experts say is incorrect, U.S. News's analysis shows that Bush once again fell short. His military records reveal that he failed to attend enough active-duty training and weekend drills to gain the 50 points necessary to count his final year toward retirement.
The U.S. News analysis also showed that during the final two years of his obligation, Bush did not comply with Air Force regulations that impose a time limit on making up missed drills. What's more, he apparently never made up five months of drills he missed in 1972, contrary to assertions by the administration. White House officials did not respond to the analysis last week but emphasized that Bush had "served honorably."
So the president's response to being caught in a lie is to continue lying. How Cheney-esque. It's becoming clear that Bush shirked large portions of his military duty. This, of course, makes the Swift Boat Liars look even more grotesque than they already did - paid Republican operatives attacking a war hero on behalf of a shirker. Have they no shame?
President Bush misdiagnosed the reason that Mike Ditmore abandoned his medical practice in Missouri.
“He's a doc. He's a neurosurgeon,” Bush told supporters in Columbia while campaigning by bus last week. “He was, until his premiums went up to $108,000 a year. The lawsuits drove him out of business.”
Not exactly. Ditmore was sued eight times in more than two decades, by his count, but seven lawsuits were dismissed before trial without financial settlements, and the eighth ended with him found not liable after trial.
“I was not run out of business by lawsuits,” Ditmore said after Bush's visit. “I decided to retire because of the jump in my insurance premium, and there's not a direct correlation with lawsuits against me.”
Ditmore, of Rocheport in central Missouri, is running as a Republican for the Missouri Senate.
Of course, Bush's false statement had already been made. And how many of the "supporters" he told it to will hear (or believe) the correction?