Saturday, October 16, 2004
As a former Reagan administration official, registered Republican, born-again Christian and traditional conservative, I am going to vote for John Kerry. So are many other old line Republicans. Here's why.
While the Bush administration calls itself "conservative," its use of the term is frankly Orwellian. It not only deprives the word of meaning, but presents the administration's philosophy as the opposite of what it actually is.
Conservatives have always and everywhere believed in fiscal responsibility, in being sure you could pay your way and in providing for the future. Conservatives pay down debt rather than adding to it. This doesn't necessarily mean balancing the budget every year, but at a minimum it means striving toward balance as a top-priority objective.
The Bush approach is completely at odds with such thinking. If any proof were needed, it was amply provided in the president's acceptance speech at the Republican convention. With Congressional Budget Office projections by a very Republican former member of his own administration showing oceans of red ink for the indefinite future, President Bush promised more tax cuts. His audience cheered.
These are fine sounding words, but they are not the words of conservatives. Thus, when Bush promises to democratize the Middle East, conservatives cringe. So much so, in fact, that several former high ranking officials of the Reagan and first Bush administrations have told me recently that they are not supporting the president for re-election.
This is because they know that, administration rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, we are not safer today than we were three years ago. Far from destroying al-Qaida and cutting its alleged (but actually non-existent) links with Saddam Hussein, we have made Iraq into a magnet for terrorists.
If the Conservatives don't support him, and the Liberals don't support him, then who is supporting him?
As head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency for eight years in the Clinton administration, Browner helped create some of the toughest air pollution laws in the country - laws that she says President Bush has diluted since the day he took office.
"They've moved away from the practice of having polluters who cause the problem pay to clean it up. They've taken us out of international discussions on climate change and global warming. The Bush administration fails to enforce environmental laws," she said, during a stop in New Hampshire designed to promote Sen. John Kerry.
"The current administration has simply been the worst ever environmental administration, without a doubt," she said.
Browner was joined by a Hopkinton doctor and a Hillsboro woman whose son has asthma, a disease that is quickly on the rise in New England. All three said Bush's decisions to weaken clean air rules have directly affected the health of the country.
We've been getting a lot of that Orwellian double-speak lately.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) rebutted statements made by President Bush in the third presidential debate on two key election issues: securing America's borders and funding veterans' programs. AFGE represents 600,000 federal workers throughout the United States in agencies including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
"Government employees know the reality of America's porous borders and the care veterans are not getting. That reality directly refutes the assertions made by President Bush in last night's debate," said John Gage, AFGE national president.
In August of this year, AFGE conducted a poll among the frontline federal workers who secure U.S. borders, Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection inspectors. Almost two-thirds said they have not been given the "tools, training and support" they need to successfully complete their mission, which includes preventing terrorists from entering the country, and nearly half said the nation is no safer today than it was on September 11th, 2001. Adding to the difficulty of protecting Americans from terrorism is a hiring freeze throughout DHS, which has directly impacted the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection divisions.
Friday, October 15, 2004
Witnesses said Bush supporters were on one side of California Street chanting "Four more years," and supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry were on the other chanting "Three more weeks." Police began moving the crowd away from the Jacksonville Inn, where the president was to arrive for dinner and to spend the night following a speech.
"We were here to protest Bush and show our support for Kerry," said Cerridewen Bunten, 24, a college student and retail clerk. "Nobody was being violent. We were out of the streets so cars could go by. We were being loud, but I never knew that was against the law."
Bunten said she was pushed by police as she held her 6-year-old daughter.
Jeff Treadwell, 37, an auto mechanic from Medford who joined the protesters, estimated about 500 people were assembled, counting both Bush and Kerry supporters.
Jacksonville City Administrator Paul Wyntergreen said the protest was peaceful until a few people started pushing police. Police reacted by firing pepperballs, which he described as projectiles like a paintball filled with cayenne pepper. Two people were arrested for failing to disperse. There were no reports of injuries.
Protester Richard Swaney, 65, of Central Point, said he was walking with the crowd away from the inn when he was hit in the back with three separate bursts, one of which knocked him down.
You want to see protests? Wait till Bush gets "re-elected".
A collaborative polling exercise involving 10 newspapers around the world, including the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, showed hostility is directed not only at the Bush administration but also at the image of the United States.
The project, initiated by Canada's Quebec-based La Presse newspaper, also included France's Le Monde, The Guardian of Britain, Japan's Asahi Shimbun, Russia's Moscow News, Mexico's Reforma, Israel's Haaretz and Spain's El Pais.
They found that voters in eight out of the 10 countries - excluding Israel and Russia - want to see Kerry, the Democrat challenger beat the Republican Bush in the November 2 presidential election.
Their findings, the product of identical polls taken in September, also suggested the Bush administration was facing isolation and hostility rarely seen among its closest allies.
In most of the countries surveyed, including Australia, opinions towards the United States deteriorated over the first Bush term.
"Only Israel, lockstep with the US in terms of foreign policy objectives and delivery, ran against the trend," the Herald said.
Am I the only one who finds it dangerous to have our allies turning against us because of our wretched, failed leader? Do Bush cultists ever ask themselves, "Could it be that the entire world is right and I am wrong?" I doubt it.
South Dakota campaign official who resigned after questions arose over absentee-ballot applications will work in Ohio for the Bush-Cheney campaign, an internal Republican Party memo indicates.
Larry Russell, who was chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party's get-out-the-vote operation, resigned this week after questions were raised about the validity of some of the 1,400 absentee-ballot applications gathered, largely on college campuses, by the program Russell led.
Students on campuses in Brookings, Vermillion, Yankton and Spearfish have questioned the absentee-ballot application process, saying young men obtained their applications, but the notarization of the documents carried the signature of a woman.
But an internal Republican Party memo obtained by the Argus Leader said Russell would be going to Cleveland "to lead the ground operations" for President Bush and Vice President Cheney there.
Zero tolerance for what?
That was the sum and substance of the president's pitch for re-election in the third and final debate.
After three matchups between Bush and Democratic challenger Kerry, one thing we know: It is never morning in George W. Bush's America. If we're not scared of terrorists, then we're supposed to be scared of liberals. Fear is the president's running mate.
It's awfully hard to run for re-election on a record that has brought us neither peace nor prosperity. So after a catastrophic terrorist attack, two wars, a sluggish economy that saps the middle class and energy prices that will likely have us wrapping ourselves in blankets this winter, Bush is still trying to make Kerry unacceptable to voters.
And this is precisely why the debates have shifted the ground on which this campaign is being fought.
Kerry belatedly figured out that this contest, like all elections involving an incumbent, is about the person who holds the office and asks voters to rehire him. The debates have moved the discussion from the particulars of how Kerry served in Vietnam three decades ago to the particulars of how Bush has governed in America, here and now.
This - not the format or the lighting or the podium height - explains the infamous Bush debate demeanor. The president was awkward and uncomfortable in two of the three sessions because he is awkward and uncomfortable when he's confronted with information that ranges outside the boundaries of his campaign stump speech, or forces him to answer for what he has or has not done.
I am constantly amazed by the similarities between Bush and a typical teenage boy. Could his emotional development have been arrested at some point?
In President Bush's worldview, everything is "post-9/11" except his campaign tactics. When it comes to the tired, shopworn ways in which he's attacking John Kerry, the president is, as Dick Cheney likes to say, in a "pre-9/11 mindset."
The debates altered the campaign in Kerry's favor because Bush could no longer run and hide from his own record and cast Kerry as a cardboard character. The debates showcased Kerry as presidentially consistent. Bush kept changing his act. He scowled in the first debate. He practically shouted in the second. He pasted a strange smile over the scowl in the third.
And Bush's new message is so old that it is as if he ran across a tattered catalogue for Republican political consultants from the 1980s or early '90s and ordered up a pre-owned campaign plan. You could imagine the text: "Falling behind your Democrat opponent? Don't know what to say? Just call him liberal, liberal, liberal. Compare him with Ted Kennedy. It works every time -- especially if your opponent is from Massachusetts."
Pardon the word, but that's a lie, because Kerry has "suggested" no such thing. As Kerry quickly noted, families that could afford to buy into the federal plan under his proposal would have to pay for it. "We're not giving this away for nothing," Kerry said in one of his most effective counterpunches.
It's hard to argue logically with someone who is given free rein to simply make things up.
When President George W. Bush spoke of importing Canadian flu vaccine during Wednesday's election debate, many in the U.S. public health community were struck by the irony of an administration that slams the door on cheaper Canadian drugs, but looks north for help with an embarrassing vaccine shortage.
"It seemed ironic to many of us who were watching that the president had kind of disparaged the importation of Canadian (prescription) drugs but seemed to be interested in exploring the possibility of importing Canadian vaccine," Dr. William Schaffner, a member of the U.S. advisory committee on immunization practices, said in an interview Thursday.
"They've been disparaging the Canadian drug system, saying how it's a buyer beware situation, completely unsafe, can't guarantee the safety," said David MacKay, executive director of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. "Then the moment that they need to go to Canada to find our flu vaccines, all of a sudden, magically, things are safe."
The association represents Internet pharmacies that have earned the ire of the U.S. administration by shipping cheaper Canadian prescription drugs to American consumers.
"It's absolutely ironic and ludicrous to think that (U.S. regulators) can assure safety for flu vaccines ... but they won't do it for life-saving Lipitor (a cholesterol-lowering statin) as well," MacKay said.
"What's the difference between flu vaccine and Lipitor?"
Follow the money. Which one makes more profit for Bush's beloved pharmaceutical industry?
In his final debate with Sen. John Kerry on Wednesday night, President Bush reiterated his pledge to cut the nation's record budget deficit in half by the end of one more term in office.
"It requires pro-growth policies that grow our economy and fiscal sanity in the halls of Congress," he declared.
A day later, Bush's Treasury secretary, John Snow, told the halls of Congress that he's taking the extreme step of using government workers' pension money to avoid increased borrowing that would push the Bush administration past a $7.38 trillion debt ceiling.
In a dazzling display of fiscal sanity, Snow said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee that "it is imperative that the Congress take action to increase the debt limit by mid-November," which would be, as luck would have it, after the Nov. 2 election.
So let's recap: The Bush administration finds itself unable to operate within the boundaries of the highest debt ceiling in U.S. history, so its solution is to get by on other people's money until it can secure approval to run up even more debt.
Pro-growth policies indeed.
"It certainly highlights the disconnect between rhetoric and reality," said Harry Zeeve, national field director for the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan budget watchdog group.
And yet today's polling news has Bush pulling ahead of Kerry after losing the third debate. Incredible.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
OK, we give up. After defending the mainstream news media as basically objective for years, we now have to cry uncle and acknowledge that there really is a bias driving news judgment.
It's time to come clean...and drive all those right-wing ideologues out of the newsrooms. Only then can the publicly owned airwaves be free of the pro-Bush swill that will soon be spewed by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group.
In a stunning act of hypocrisy, the same television network that refused to air a "Nightline" report on soldiers killed in Iraq, has ordered its 62 television stations, including two in Pittsburgh, to show, commercial free, a documentary highly critical of John Kerry and his anti-war stance following his return from Vietnam.
The documentary Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal was produced by Carlton Sherwood, a former Washington Times reporter who made another highly questionable documentary on the Moonies. He received financial aid from veterans in Pennsylvania and the documentary stars vets who appeared in the infamous Swift Boat ads of the summer, which slimed Kerry with lies and innuendos.
In other words, this "documentary" is nothing of the sort. It's a Swift Boat ad disguised as news and it's an in-kind contribution to the Bush re-election campaign. Sinclair should either back down or be prepared to give Kerry equal time this close to the election.
The executives who own Sinclair - CEO Donald Smith (recently arrested for hiring a prostitute) and his brothers - have donated all that they could legally give the Bush campaign. So now they are handing over the public airwaves.
We say again: the public airwaves.
I wish more people in the media would point out that one party - guess which - is responsible for virtually all of the dirty tricks and chicanery that are preceeding this election. Whose campaign gets free advertising time from major media corporations? Whose campaign signs get stolen? Whose new-voter registrations get crumpled up and thrown away? Who benefits by restrictions on voting imposed in Ohio, Florida, and elsewhere? Who owns the companies that provide the special voting machines that make a recount impossible? Whose Representatives are under investigation for unfair gerrymandering of congressional districts? And while we're at it, who stole the 2000 election? And who spent 8 years trying to force a popular, competent, twice-elected president out of office?
don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear the president and vice president slamming John Kerry for saying that he hopes America can eventually get back to a place where "terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance." The idea that President Bush and Mr. Cheney would declare such a statement to be proof that Mr. Kerry is unfit to lead actually says more about them than Mr. Kerry. Excuse me, I don't know about you, but I dream of going back to the days when terrorism was just a nuisance in our lives.
If I have a choice, I prefer not to live the rest of my life with the difference between a good day and bad day being whether Homeland Security tells me it is "code red" or "code orange" outside. To get inside the Washington office of the International Monetary Fund the other day, I had to show my ID, wait for an escort and fill out a one-page form about myself and my visit. I told my host: "Look, I don't want a loan. I just want an interview." Somewhere along the way we've gone over the top and lost our balance.
That's why Mr. Kerry was actually touching something many Americans are worried about - that this war on terrorism is transforming us and our society, when it was supposed to be about uprooting the terrorists and transforming their societies.
The Bush team's responses to Mr. Kerry's musings are revealing because they go to the very heart of how much this administration has become addicted to 9/11. The president has exploited the terrorism issue for political ends - trying to make it into another wedge issue like abortion, guns or gay rights - to rally the Republican base and push his own political agenda. But it is precisely this exploitation of 9/11 that has gotten him and the country off-track, because it has not only created a wedge between Republicans and Democrats, it's also created a wedge between America and the rest of the world, between America and its own historical identity, and between the president and common sense.
History will show W to have been the worst president we've had so far, by any measure.
The first two presidential debates went so very poorly for George W. Bush that it was no wonder that he wanted to get out of his third face-off with John Kerry as quickly and painlessly as possible. Indeed, one Bush aide admitted before Wednesday night's final debate in Tempe, Arizona, that the president's only goal was to "check the box" - i.e., go through the motions of debating for an hour and a half without doing himself any damage.
With that goal in mind, Bush did his best to sit out the last debate.
The president avoided answering questions - even when it made him look ridiculous.
Asked about the minimum wage, Bush defended his "No Child Left Behind" education initiatives.
Asked about the "backdoor draft" that has forced National Guard troops to go through repeated rotations in Iraq and prevented members of the military from returning home when their tours of duty were supposed to be done, Bush launched into a discussion about whether Kerry would apply a "global test" before defending the United States.
Asked about affirmative action, Bush affirmed that he had met with the Congressional Black Caucus.
Asked whether gays and lesbians choose their sexuality, the president who has sponsored a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage said he did not know.
Asked whether he would like to overturn the Roe-v-Wade ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, the most outspoken anti-abortion president in history simply dodged the question. Bush's "answer" was so obtuse that the first question television interviewers asked former White House aide Karen Hughes attempted to clarify Bush's stance on the issue. For the record, Hughes also dodged.
Bush just doesn't act like someone who should be leading our country. Even with Karen there to clarify things.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
It doesn't matter who you are or what you believe, George W. Bush has betrayed you, specifically and repeatedly.
Are you a law-and-order type? Then you should probably know that Bush has an arrest record (see reason No. 24). Are you a devout Christian? Millions of people just like you think Bush is defiling God's creation with his ruinous environmental policies (reason 20); and God's man on earth himself calls Bush's war wrong and immoral (reason 21). Perhaps you voted for Bush because you fondly recall the days when Republicans stood for fiscally conservative government? Those days are gone, friend (see reasons 64 to 71). Do you think of yourself as an intelligent, rational adult capable of making your own decisions about the world around you? Bush doesn't (No. 28). Maybe you're scared that the terrorists are coming, and think W. is the one who will stop them. Read reasons 1 through 16.
Unless you are the CEO of a large corporation (that donated heavily to Bush's campaign), Bush does not have your best interests at heart. Those are the facts.
Consider the material below a primer, the Reader's Digest version of why you shouldn't vote for Bush. There are thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – of similar facts not included here for space reasons. Whole topics had to be cut; there's no mention of Bush's assault on civil liberties via the USA PATRIOT Act, for example, and no mention of the fact that he cannot explain why he didn't fulfill his commitment in the National Guard.
So pick a reason, any reason, and don't vote for Bush Nov. 2.
After this introduction, the article does in fact present 94 separate, solid reasons why this president does not deserve your vote. Tell a friend.
Pressures also increased in Britain on Prime Minister Tony Blair to apologize for co-launching the war on a “false premise” after Foreign Secretary Jack Straw withdrew the notorious 45-minute claim.
The US letter was released by “Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy,” a nonpartisan group, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP) Wednesday, October 13.
The scholars signing the letter belong to more than 150 colleges and universities in 40 states.
They include former Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council staff, as well as six of the last seven presidents of the American Political Science Association.
“I think it is telling that so many specialists on international relations, who rarely agree on anything, are unified in their position on the high costs that the United States is incurring from this war,” said Professor Robert Keohane of Duke University.
“The current American policy centered around the war in Iraq is the most misguided one since the Vietnam period, one which harms the cause of the struggle against extreme Islamist terrorists,” the letter said.
The experts said the war has distorted “public debate on foreign and national security policy (with) an emphasis on speculation instead of facts, on mythology instead of calculation and on misplaced moralizing over considerations of national interest.”
“We're advising the administration, which is already in a deep hole, to stop digging,” said Professor Richard Samuels of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Like Bush is going to take advice from some nerd at MIT.
[The text of the letter, a list of signers and details about Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy are available at http://www.sensibleforeignpolicy.net.]
Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.
Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected.
The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats. Thee focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.
The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.
Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.
"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assistant to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.
Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.
It's the Republican way: cheat, cheat, cheat, "win".
The candidates were positioned behind lecterns in the first debate.
Section 9, subsection (a), sub-subsections (iv) and (vi) of the debate rules clearly state that "TV cameras will be locked into place" and "the camera located at the rear of the stage shall be used only to take shots of the moderator."
But the good people at Fox filmed a rear view of the man who is clearly their candidate. They could not have anticipated that a purportedly undoctored freeze frame would flash around what our President would call the Internets showing what became known as "Bush's mystery bulge."
In the second debate, the candidates moved about the stage and Bush's back more than once came into view. A freeze frame again appeared to show a bulge, all the more mysterious for seeming a different shape and dimension than the first.
At the third debate tonight, the candidates again will be at lecterns and we may not get even a glimpse of Bush's back. Those who will be looking prominently include Edward Hayes, a New York lawyer and man about town who terms himself, with considerable justification, "the world's leading expert on suits."
Before he became the best-dressed lawyer in all New York, Hayes was the best-dressed homicide prosecutor in all the Bronx. He has studied the freeze frames from the first two debates with an eye both forensic and sartorial.
"As a man whose first experience with lumps in suits was in homicide in the Bronx and then went on to Saville Row, I'm telling you that is not a tailor's mistake," Hayes said. "Unless somebody doctored the photos, he's got something under there."
Maybe someone can explain how Mr. Bush rates higher in the polls for his fight on terrorism.
He lost the war on terrorism when he invaded Iraq. A senseless war, the reasoning for it built on lies, a war that has taken thousands of lives, cost billions of dollars and is getting uglier each day. In the process, Bush managed to turn most of the world against us.
We now have Mr. Bush presiding over a giant mess. A no-win situation in Iraq, a monstrous deficit, a failed economy, a failed war on terrorism. Because of Mr. Bush's arrogance, most of our allies have left the ranks, still you hear people say they don't like the war.
Bush has [mishandled] the job, but they're going to vote for him anyway because they don't think John Kerry can do the job.
I think it's time to try someone else. Bush has already proven himself a total failure. Four more years of this nonsense and we may have every gun in the world trained on us.
President Bush may not be dumb, but he sure does think the rest of us are.
You have to assume your audience is a bunch of borderline morons to tell as many whoppers as he does. True, short-term memory loss is creeping up on a lot of us, but even I can remember what Bush told us about why we had to invade Iraq.
I especially enjoyed this gem: "And yet, think where we are. Added 1.9 million new jobs in the last 13 months." Excuse me? The new employment numbers came out just before the debate -- 95,000 new jobs last month, not even enough to keep up with the 150,000 newbies who come into the labor market every month. In other words, a net job loss of 55,000 in September, for a grand total of nearly 1 million jobs lost under Bush. How dumb does he think we are?
Also in the lies/damn lies category, how nice that 75 percent of "key members" of Al Qaeda have been captured, according to Bush. According to independent terrorism experts, the figure has no meaning at all.
First Lady Laura Bush admitted in a TV interview that her husband had made some mistakes as President of the United States .
But she would not be drawn into saying exactly what he had done wrong.
In the hour-long talk with CNN chat show host Larry King, Mrs Bush also said she feared another close call in next month's presidential election.
When asked if it was strange that her husband had never admitted making mistakes, she replied: "Well, no, I mean, he said, of course, he made mistakes. And that's what he said.
"He said 'I'm human and I've made a lot of mistakes, there's no doubt about it and history will judge what they are'."
She told King that being asked to name the mistakes was "a trick question".
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Even though his own report stated that U.N. sanctions had worked to defang Saddam, Mr. Bush decided to stand firm on nonsense, insisting in the debate Friday night that "sanctions were not working. The United Nations was not effective at removing Saddam Hussein."
When a questioner named Linda asked the president to give three bum decisions he had made in office, Mr. Bush took a pass. Lincoln could admit mistakes. J.F.K. could admit mistakes. But W. thinks admitting mistakes is for powder puffs. Of his decision to invade Iraq, he said: "Sometimes in this world you make unpopular decisions because you think they're right." Or you stick to them even after you know they're wrong.
The president's living in a dream world. He kept insisting that 75 percent of Al Qaeda has been "brought to justice," even though such a statistic is misleading, since counterterrorism experts say that the invasion of Iraq was a recruiting boon for Osama and that Al Qaeda has metastasized and spawned other terrorist groups.
Mr. Bush tried to pretend the devastating Duelfer report backed him up, noting after the report came out that Saddam "retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction and could have passed this knowledge to our terrorist enemies."
W. should have followed his father's policy on hypotheticals. As Poppy Bush would say, when someone asked him to be speculative: "If a frog had wings, it wouldn't bump its tail on the ground."
Sounds like something Dan Rather would say.
The president's answer was notable in two ways. First, he spent many words not answering at all. He spoke vaguely about how historians might second-guess some of his decisions and that he'd take responsibility for them. He also asserted: "I'm human."
Second, when Bush finally did admit something, he said this: "I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV."
There, in brief, are the core reasons why polls suggest that undecided and independent voters are having a problem with this president. His tactic of never admitting mistakes is backfiring in light of events. And when asked to take responsibility, his first instinct was to direct attention to others by speaking of his supposedly mistaken appointments.
You wonder if the president was thinking about people such as former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, one of the first Bush insiders to call the president to account for his style of governing. Maybe Bush regrets naming Larry Lindsey as his top economic adviser because Lindsey was honest in saying the war in Iraq would be expensive at a time when the administration was trying to suggest otherwise.
Did you ever think we would reach the point where speaking honestly to the president became a sure way to get fired? It's hard to believe this is still America.
Bush has taken us from a surplus to a record deficit in four years. As for his much-touted tax cuts, 88 percent of American citizens will save less than $100 on their 2006 federal taxes as a result of the 2003 cut in capital gains and dividend taxes; 31 percent of all taxpayers get nothing at all.
Members of Bush's cabinet are expected to enjoy an average of $42,000 this year from the same cuts (an obscene amount, considering the median U.S. household income is $43,318 and dropping). Bush himself saved $30,858 on his taxes last year.
But beyond that, George Bush has never succeeded at any business venture. With a little of his own money but several million dollars from his family's Wall Street friends, George W. launched the first of three business ventures. All failed. In every case, he was bailed out by rich Republicans. Each time Bush got richer, while banks and ordinary stockholders lost money. With the help of his friends, Bush invested $600,000 in the Texas Rangers; when the team sold, Bush emerged with more than $14.9 million. He is doing the same with the U.S. economy. Bush and his friends will make millions, and the rest of us will pay for it.
The reality is that George Bush has no more of a plan for saving the U.S. economy than he does for rebuilding Iraq. He's gutting environmental protections; his education plan has benefited only the educational testing corporations; and he has bungled his foreign policy so badly that 71 percent of Europeans think that he is the greatest threat to world peace. What would he do in a second term, when he no longer has to maintain even a pretense in order to be re-elected? God forbid.
It's maddening to watch someone who fails at everything be elevated step by step until, finally, he is the most powerful man in the world - and then he fails at that, too. Sheesh.
It's not hard to predict what President Bush, who sounds increasingly desperate, will say tomorrow. Here are eight lies or distortions you'll hear, and the truth about each
[The article goes on to specify likely Bush lies on Jobs, Unemployment, the Deficit, the Tax Cuts, the Kerry tax plan, Fiscal responsibility, Spending, and Health Care.]
By singling out Mr. Bush's lies and misrepresentations, am I saying that Mr. Kerry isn't equally at fault? Yes.
Mr. Kerry sometimes uses verbal shorthand that offers nitpickers things to complain about. He talks of 1.6 million lost jobs; that's the private-sector loss, partly offset by increased government employment. But the job record is indeed awful. He talks of the $200 billion cost of the Iraq war; actual spending is only $120 billion so far. But nobody doubts that the war will cost at least another $80 billion. The point is that Mr. Kerry can, at most, be accused of using loose language; the thrust of his statements is correct.
Mr. Bush's statements, on the other hand, are fundamentally dishonest. He is insisting that black is white, and that failure is success. Journalists who play it safe by spending equal time exposing his lies and parsing Mr. Kerry's choice of words are betraying their readers.
This article serves as a good preparation for Wednesday's debate. Make a printout and check off the lies as they occur!
Monday, October 11, 2004
So the president and his chief supporters have resorted to the odd tactic of claiming that the bad news is good.
The double talk reached a fever pitch last week after the release of two devastating reports - the comprehensive report by Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons inspector, which destroyed any remaining doubts that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; and the Labor Department's dismal employment report for September, which heightened concerns about the strength of the economic recovery and left Mr. Bush with the dubious distinction of being the first president since Herbert Hoover to stand for re-election with fewer people working than at the beginning of his term.
Mr. Bush turned the findings of the Duelfer report upside down and inside out, telling crowds at campaign rallies that it proved Saddam Hussein had been "a gathering threat." It didn't matter that the report, ordered by the president himself, showed just the opposite. The truth would not have been helpful to the president. So with a brazenness and sleight of hand usually associated with three-card-monte players, he pulled a fast one on his cheering listeners.
How do the Bush cultists keep themselves from seeing what is going on? I assume it is a form of willful blindness brought on by denial.
In the second presidential debate George Bush performed far better than he had in the first debate. This, however, doesn't mean the debate was a draw. If debates were judged only on style, then this might be true, but if we look at the substance, it is clear that John Kerry was the winner.
Kerry is the candidate who presented real plans for real people and backed them up with facts. Bush, on the other hand, frequently didn't bother to present factual evidence to buttress his claims. Too often he merely claimed that we are making progress, or things are improving, as though the act of saying it was enough to make it true.
When he did try to use facts, they were blatantly false. According to the nonpartisan FactCheck.org, Bush made many claims that have been repeatedly proven to be untrue. This means that Bush is either intentionally misleading the public, or that he is completely out of touch with reality.
Bush, Hersh said, has blindly followed a misguided "utopian ideology," driven by neoconservatives, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. The so-called neocons believed the United States could win the war and establish democracy in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries in short time, leaving the Palestinians with no support in their feud with Israel, he said.
Hersh, who has been promoting his new book, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, does not agree.
"I think fighting terrorism by going to Iraq is a horrible mistake," Hersh said after his speech. "Half of Americans think so, too. (But) he's a true believer, and I find that very scary. How many body bags is he willing to take before he gives up?"
In the May 5 issue of The New Yorker, Hersh detailed the story of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison scandal, in which American soldiers tortured and abused Iraqi detainees. The scandal erupted because no one counseled interrogators to treat Iraqi prisoners with the same respect expected of American prisoners, Hersh said Sunday.
"It morphed into madness very quickly," he said.
As did the Bush presidency.
These are heavy losses to achieve freedom for another nation.
But President Bush last week, in his Wilkes-Barre, Pa., speech, escalated the mission another notch by declaring that Iraq should become not only a "free society at the heart of the Middle East," but an ally in the war on terror and "a model of hopeful reform in a region that needs hopeful reform."
If Iraq can be free, he said, "every free nation will be more secure."
Those were not the goals he originally set.
Going into the invasion, the objective was more limited and specific: to disarm Iraq and rid it of weapons of mass destruction. But last week, a final report from Bush's own disarmament inspectors confirmed that there were no such weapons.
Nonetheless, Bush and Cheney said that finding no weapons made no difference. Saddam Hussein was a state sponsor of terror who eventually would have acquired unconventional weapons, they predicted.
With an active terrorist insurgency and rockets falling on a Baghdad hotel last week, it is hard to see how Iraq will become a model to the Arab and Muslim world in the near future.
And for U.S. military services, the model is beginning to look a lot like the "falling domino" theory of the Vietnam War, in which some American officials felt U.S. forces needed to make a stand to stop the spread of communism throughout Southeast Asia and into the Pacific.
Freedom modeling sounds bottomless.
I hope the Treasury is bottomless as well.
The Bush administration has promoted its education law with a video that comes across as a news story but fails to make clear that the reporter involved was paid with taxpayer money.
The government used a similar approach this year in promoting the new Medicare law and drew a rebuke from the investigative arm of Congress, which found that the videos amounted to propaganda in violation of federal law.
The Education Department also has paid a private firm to provide rankings of newspaper coverage of the No Child Left Behind law, a centerpiece of the president's domestic agenda. The criteria include whether stories say President Bush and the Republican Party are strong on education.
The video and ratings documents emerged through a Freedom of Information Act request by People for the American Way, a liberal group that contends the department is spending public money on a political agenda. The group sought details on a $700,000 contract Ketchum received in 2003 from the Education Department.
One service the company provided was a video news release geared for television stations. The video includes a news story that features Education Secretary Rod Paige and promotes tutoring now offered under law.
The story ends with the voice of a woman saying, "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting."
I smell a Rove.
A bulge in the back of President George W Bush's suit jacket during the first TV debate with John Kerry has triggered rumours that he was wired to get help. Internet websites alleged the apparent bulge, during last week's debate in Miami, was a radio receiver feeding him answers from an offstage aide.
The Bush campaign dismissed the claims, saying it was just a wrinkle in the presidential jacket.
It also denied some web reports that Mr Bush was wearing a bullet-proof vest.
"People have been spending too much time dealing with Internet conspiracies. It's ridiculous," Bush campaign manager Scott Stanzel was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
Another campaign official said it was nothing more than a question of tailoring.
"There was nothing under his suit jacket," Nicolle Devenish, the Bush campaign's communications director, told the New York Times newspaper.
"It was most likely a rumpling of that portion of his suit jacket, or a wrinkle in the fabric," Ms Devenish added.
Maybe it's just me, but my clothes don't usually "rumple" in neat rectangular shapes.
Sunday, October 10, 2004
Every candidate's wife has an impossible role. Of all the women who have tried it this year - from Judy Steinberg Dean to Teresa Heinz Kerry - the most traditional is the least controversial. Part of the wifely tradition is "humanizing" the candidate as if he couldn't do it himself. In that way, Laura has become the fabric softener for George's flight suit.
On Wednesday, Mrs. Bush told an audience of Fortune 500 women about a kindergarten student who was asked to describe the first lady's responsibilities. "A little girl named Shelby wrote that I help the president with his paperwork and then I help him clean his office and I take care of him when he's sick and put cold cloths on his head." They all laughed politely at the things kids say.
But I wonder about the librarian who doesn't defend libraries against the Patriot Act. What about the woman who wouldn't overturn Roe in an administration that would? How can a woman who clearly cares about schoolchildren act as if there is No Child Left Behind? And what did she feel when one New Jersey mother who lost a son in Iraq, Sue Niederer, tried to confront her and ended up in handcuffs?
Only four out of 10 Americans believe that George W. Bush has governed compassionately. The woman who doesn't influence policy is brought in to influence image.
But it takes more than a first lady to cook up compassion in this White House.
For some reason Laura doesn't bother me as much as she does some of us. But she isn't being especially honest about her hubby.