Saturday, July 31, 2004

PBD may be sketchy again for the next week or so, given uncertain Internet access while I'm travelling. It will be back on a daily basis after that. Let me leave you with these three tidbits for now.


Record-level deficit "not as bad as it looks"
Joshua B. Bolten, President Bush's budget director, presented the new forecast as good news, saying "the improved budget outlook is the direct result of the strong economic growth the president's tax relief has fueled."

Bush/Cheney practice racial profiling in granting interviews
President Bush's re-election campaign insisted on knowing the race of an Arizona Daily Star journalist assigned to photograph Vice President Dick Cheney....The Star refused to provide the information.....A rally organizer for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign asked Teri Hayt, the Star's managing editor, to disclose the journalist's race on Friday......Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the president's re-election campaign, said the information was needed for security purposes......"All the information requested of staff, volunteers and participants for the event has been done so to ensure the safety of all those involved, including the vice president of the United States," he said......Diaz repeated that answer when asked if it is the practice of the White House to ask for racial information or if the photographer, Mamta Popat, was singled out because of her name. He referred those questions to the U.S. Secret Service, which did not respond to a call from the Star Friday afternoon.

Coalition of the sort-of-willing
For the first time, administration officials are acknowledging the delicate nature of their "coalition of the willing" - the group of some 30 nations that lent their names and limited numbers of troops to the occupying force built mainly of American and British forces. The multinational force, which the administration stitched together as traditional NATO allies balked, is increasingly tattered.....Secretary of State Colin L. Powell acknowledged his dismay this week over the erosion of support...

[Watch for this: news here in London suggests that Bush Co. will soon reverse its policy of not granting contracts in Iraq to countries that didn't support the war -- an unbelievably arrogant and counterproductive pronouncement in the first place. But other than that, everything is going just great in Iraq now, thanks.]

Berger absolved of any serious wrongdoing (will this get the same coverage as the original accusations, including Tucker Carlson’s claim that he removed every copy of a particular document?)
Officials looking into the removal of classified documents from the National Archives by former Clinton National Security Adviser Samuel Berger say no original materials are missing and nothing Mr. Berger reviewed was withheld from the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.


Remember that LA Times story yesterday about massive corruption and misuse of funds in Iraq? Here’s a nice analysis of how the “liberal” Washington Post covered the same story

Bush’s early campaign strategy

1. Go negative early (it’s rare for the Presidential candidate to take on the personal attacks – usually this falls to the VP)
President Bush launched his counterattack against John Kerry on Friday, saying his Democratic rival has spent 19 years in the U.S. Senate with “no signature achievements.”……“My opponent has good intentions, but intentions do not always translate to results,” Bush told thousands of supporters who repeatedly interrupted his remarks with standing ovations. Over and over, Bush repeated a new refrain: “Results matter.”

[The problem is, the VP isn’t that good at it, and his own credibility is shaky right now:]

2. “Results matter,” eh?

3. Suggest that in an era of terror, there is no choice
The idea, of course, is to counter "We can do better," which was the unofficial theme of the Democratic National Convention that officially designated Sen. John F. Kerry as its champion this week…… Mike Allen writes in The Washington Post: "Aides said Bush's campaign-trail mantra will be: 'We have turned the corner, and we are not turning back.'"

4. Act negative, but keep promising to turn positive
Nicolle Devenish, the Bush campaign's communications director, said the president will deliver a retooled stump speech during stops in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio that will pivot away from tough rhetoric against Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry and focus more on "laying out a vision" for the next four years.


5. And when all else fails, a little extortion doesn’t hurt…
If you happen to be in New Mexico this weekend and you want to see the man who is paid with your tax dollars to be your Vice President you must sign this loyalty oath:

"I, (full name) ... do herby [sic] endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States." It later adds that, "In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush."

Why they’re right to be worried
The most recent Zogby poll shows deeper trouble for President George W. Bush beyond just the horserace. Mr. Bush has fallen in key areas while Senator John Kerry has shored up numerous constituencies in his base. The Bush team's attempted outreach to base Democratic and swing constituency has shown to be a failure thus far, limiting his potential growth in the electorate.


Economic growth lags behind rosy predictions


Tom Ridge about to step down: Has anyone noticed the pattern here? The people of more moderate sensibility and competence are quitting or forced out, the ideologues and true believers (despite a string of embarrassing failures) are re-upping their enlistment

The National Security State – here’s what happens when all government agencies, even the US Census bureau, get corralled into surveillance duties
Christiana Halsey, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection, said the requests were made to help the agency identify in which airports to post signs and pamphlets in Arabic. "The information is not in any way being used for law enforcement purposes," she said. "It's being used to educate the traveler. We're simply using basic demographic information to help us communicate U.S. laws and regulations to the traveling public."……But critics of the information sharing said general demographic snapshots could be derived without such detailed information and that the ZIP-code-level data with its breakdowns of ancestral origin seemed particularly excessive because for all of the groups only English or Arabic need be used……"The real question is to Homeland Security," said Samia El-Badry, an Arab-American member of the Census Bureau's decennial census advisory committee. "What are they hiding? Why do they need this?"……James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said the data sharing was particularly harmful at a time when the Census Bureau is struggling to build trust within Arab-American communities. "As this gets out, any effort to encourage people to full compliance with the census is down the tubes," Mr. Zogby said. "How can you get people to comply when they believe that by complying they put at risk their personal and family security?"

This is rich: Bush Co. excuse for opposing 9-11 Committee recommendations: “because they might weaken civil liberties”,1,1539843.story?coll=la-home-headlines
"We need to, in considering each of these recommendations, place a premium and real attention on how to protect civil liberties while better safeguarding our homeland," the official said……Civil rights advocates said they shared the White House's concerns, but questioned whether an administration that has been accused of weakening civil liberties was seizing on the privacy issue to delay action on proposals it dislikes……Rights advocates expressed surprise and suspicion about what they called the administration's sudden concern with privacy issues. They described the administration's argument as ironic in light of the rollback in civil liberties it pushed in the USA Patriot Act……"I wish they had had similar concerns about civil liberties before the Patriot Act," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "Of course, this newfound concern with civil liberties has to be taken with a grain of salt. The administration has shown a great disregard for civil liberties in the wake of 9/11, and it's a cynical ploy to trot out arguments on civil liberties when they don't like the findings of the 9/11 report."

Bonus item: Mostly speculation, but fascinating
Did al-Qaeda Game Bush into Iraq War?
Douglas Jehl of the New York Times explains how Ibn al-Shaykh Libi, a high al-Qaeda official of Libyan extraction, was captured in fall of 2001 and alleged to CIA interrogators that Iraq had provided al-Qaeda with training in chemical and biological weapons……When the CIA came back to Libi with these statements of his colleagues, he folded and admitted he had lied……What is going on here? It has been suggested that Libi told the CIA whatever they wanted to hear because they tortured him. But there is another possibility, which is that he deliberately misled them……I think Bin Laden and his lieutenants wanted to provoke wars between the US and Muslim states. I think they knew that the 9/11 attacks would guarantee a US war on Afghanistan, and that they were confident they could draw the US into the country and defeat it, as they had the Soviets……Libi's story about Iraq training al-Qaeda, delivered after 9/11, is of a piece with the rest of this strategy. It was aimed at instigating a war by the US on Iraq……All of these wars were intended to stir hatred of the US invader throughout the Muslim world, to weaken the "puppet" governments of the Middle East that were allied with the US and make them ripe for overthrow, and to mire the US in a series of Islamic quagmires that would sap its will and strength and ultimately force its withdrawal from the region……In form, the Libi strategy resembles the Maoist hope that the rural third world could be brought into a confrontation with the industrialized capitalist countries, one in which contradictions would be sharpened and the capitalist minority ultimately surrounded and overwhelmed by socialist villagers. Substitute "radical Islamist" for "socialist" and you have the Libi plan……Even though Libi recanted his earlier disinformation, Vice President Dick Cheney has continued to rely on his allegations. Note that it should no longer be necessary for the US to depend on a single unreliable source such as Libi, since it has captured the Baath intelligence files and should by now know pretty much exactly what the Baath government was up to with regard to terrorism. If the US does not know, it would be because it irresponsibly gave those intelligence files to Ahmad Chalabi……Chalabi was playing the US from the other side, feeding it disinformation about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaeda ties that was just made up out of whole cloth……Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz allowed themselves to be manipulated by Libi and Chalabi because it suited them.

Friday, July 30, 2004


Kerry’s speech: a good analysis

Well, TNR predicted they were going to do it, Bush Co. went ahead and did it, and STILL the networks fell for it
[TNR] This spring, the administration significantly increased its pressure on Pakistan to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri, or the Taliban's Mullah Mohammed Omar, all of whom are believed to be hiding in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan……The Bush administration denies it has geared the war on terrorism to the electoral calendar. "Our attitude and actions have been the same since September 11 in terms of getting high-value targets off the street, and that doesn't change because of an election," says National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack. But The New Republic has learned that Pakistani security officials have been told they must produce HVTs by the election. According to one source in Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), "The Pakistani government is really desperate and wants to flush out bin Laden and his associates after the latest pressures from the U.S. administration to deliver before the [upcoming] U.S. elections."……A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
This is just the latest, but perhaps the most blatant, example of how this administration has placed politics and, really, political dirty tricks above national security itself, and along the way persisted in defining political deviance down until tactics we used to associate with banana republics start to seem commonplace here.
Pakistan has arrested Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian al-Qaida suspect with a $25 million reward on his head, in connection with the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the interior minister said Friday……Ghailani was arrested on Sunday in the eastern city of Gujrat along with at least 15 others, Interior Mini Faisal Saleh Hayyat told Pakistan’s Geo television network.

They arrested him on Sunday and only announced it today, the day Kerry happens to be scheduled to give his prime time acceptance speech?
UPDATE: In fairness, here's the Washington Post's take on the timing of the announcement:
Pakistani officials have rejected allegations that they delayed the announcement for four days to obtain maximum publicity. Hayat said the delay was a result of "double checks and even triple checks in such cases.”…But in the arrests of other high-profile al Qaeda targets in Pakistan, including Abu Zubayida, Khalid Sheik Mohammad and Ramzi Bin al Shibh, the news media received word almost immediately.
Three important points to note:
1) US officials -- the CIA and FBI -- were in on the intelligence leading to the arrest, and have already been involved in his interrogation.
2) The timing of the announcement of the arrest was highly unusual, compared to previous Pakistani arrests of al Qaeda suspects.
3) And Ghailani is not "low level" at all - he is on the FBI's list of the 22 most wanted people in the world. As CNN notes here , "Ghailani was one of seven alleged terrorists who were highlighted by Attorney General John Ashcroft in a news conference in Washington on May 26. Ashcroft said Ghailani had 'the skill, ability to undertake attacks both against American interests overseas as well in the United States.'"

Iraq funds: a burgeoning scandal,1,2690769.story?coll=la-home-headlines
A comprehensive examination of the U.S.-led agency that oversaw the rebuilding of Iraq has triggered at least 27 criminal investigations and produced evidence of millions of dollars' worth of fraud, waste and abuse, according to a report by the Coalition Provisional Authority's inspector general……The report is the most sweeping indication yet that some U.S. officials and private contractors repeatedly violated the law in the free-wheeling atmosphere that pervaded the multibillion-dollar effort to rebuild the war-torn country……More than $600 million in cash from Iraqi oil money was spent with insufficient controls. Senior U.S. officials manipulated or misspent contract money. Millions of dollars' worth of equipment could not be located, the report said……"We found problems in the CPA's financial management, procurement practices and operational controls"

British govt report concedes the miserable failure of current Iraq policies
“Iraq has become a ‘battle ground’ for al Qaida, with appalling consequences for the Iraqi people. The coalition’s failure to bring law and order to parts of Iraq created a vacuum into which criminal elements and militias have stepped.”……“The insufficient number of troops in Iraq has contributed to the deterioration in security……“The failure of countries other than the US and the United Kingdom to send significant numbers of troops has had serious and regrettable consequences, not only for the Iraqis but also in terms of the burden placed on UK resources and perceptions of the legitimacy of operations in Iraq.”……“The alternative to a positive outcome in Iraq may be a failed state and regional instability.”……“Fine communiqu├ęs and ringing declarations are no substitute for delivery of the forces and equipment which Afghanistan needs on the ground.”……“There is a real danger if these resources are not provided soon that Afghanistan – a fragile state in one of the most sensitive and volatile regions of the world – could implode, with terrible consequences.”……At a news conference to launch the report, the committee chairman, Labour MP Donald Anderson, conceded that the invasion of Iraq had resulted in a heightened terrorist threat……“It would be difficult to resist the argument that the threat has increased,” he said.
”The Iraqi police and army remain a long way from being able to maintain security."……"However, we also conclude that the coalition's failure to bring law and order to parts of Iraq created a vacuum into which criminal elements and militias have stepped."……The report says the failure of countries other than the US and UK to send significant numbers of troops to Iraq has brought "serious and regrettable consequences”……"The fact is if there were not that support to help the Iraqi government in terms of security, in the short term there is a real danger of Iraq becoming a failed state that would be a danger not only to its own fragmented groups... but to the countries in the region," he said.

Tony Blair recently denied suggestions that Afghanistan had become a "forgotten" country amid complaints from some of the MPs on the committee who visited the country……Conservative committee member Sir John Stanley told reporters that security in Afghanistan was "on a knife edge"……"We could end up with a situation that everything we have tried to achieve could be set back almost to square one," added Sir John.

[You can call it the "failure" of other countries to come on board, but the actual failure is in the US (and UK) failing to frame Iraq policies in such a way that they could secure broad international cooperation]

Bush Co.’s bad penny: Chalabi just won’t go away,1,2955125.story?coll=la-home-headlines
Chalabi is a survivor. Snubbed by the Bush administration neoconservatives who once embraced him, and excluded from the interim government, he is building a grass-roots coalition of Shiite Muslim groups who lack a voice in the new Iraq……At the same time, he's reaching out to Iraq's most prominent anti-American Shiite cleric, Muqtada Sadr, whose followers come mainly from Baghdad's urban underclass and the impoverished south of the country. Political analysts here believe that the new approach will eventually win support from a significant segment of Sadr's followers if Chalabi chooses to run for office — and, as expected, Sadr chooses to wield his power from the pulpit instead……That would give Chalabi and his new organization, the Shiite Political Council, mass support that could yield considerable clout in the majority Shiite community.

Not news to millions of Americans: personal income drops 10% in 2 years of Bush economic policies
The overall income Americans reported to the government shrank for two consecutive years after the Internet stock market bubble burst in 2000, the first time that has effectively happened since the modern tax system was introduced during World War II, newly disclosed information from the Internal Revenue Service shows…….The total adjusted gross income on tax returns fell 5.1 percent, to just over $6 trillion in 2002, the most recent year for which data is available, from $6.35 trillion in 2000. Because of population growth, average incomes declined even more, by 5.7 percent……Adjusted for inflation, the income of all Americans fell 9.2 percent from 2000 to 2002, according to the new I.R.S. data.

Failings of the 9-11 Commission – a five-part series by Bob Dreyfuss

Keep an eye on Florida (again)

Tom DeLay has lost his mind (or maybe he’s looking for other battles to fight besides a losing Presidential election)

Bonus item: The segment of the conservative media still open to being shamed starts distancing itself from poisonous Ann Coulter

Thursday, July 29, 2004


More evidence that Bush is in trouble: the Reagan defections
Much to the dismay of the Bush campaign, Nancy Reagan has just said no to appearing at the Republican National Convention next month....GOP strategists had hoped the former First Lady and Hollywood actress would make a cameo appearance onstage after a video tribute to her late husband, particularly after her Bush-bashing son, Ron, agreed to speak at the Democratic convention last night.

Abu Ghraib? – what was that again?
The American general who headed the U.S. military prison at Abu Ghraib personally witnessed abuses there, an Iraqi man alleged in a federal lawsuit protesting his treatment.

More consequences of our prudent, well-thought policies in Iraq
Yesterday I wrote a little piece about Iraq in which I briefly mentioned that the U.S. is planning to spend $60 million dollars to get 30,000 "corrupt, violent or useless" members of the New [and Improved] Iraqi Police Force to resign....This left me to wonder about what other creative ways the Bush administration might develop to spend our tax dollars in Iraq....Well, how about that bribery program?

Even patrol leaders now carry envelopes of cash to spend in their areas. The money comes from brigade commanders, who get as much as $50,000 to $100,000 a month to distribute for local rehabilitation and emergency welfare projects through the Commanders Emergency Response Program....There are few restrictions on the expenditures, and officers acknowledge they consider the money another weapon...."I'm trying to give them something to do rather than take shots at someone," said Sinclair, who said he gets $50,000 every three or four weeks to distribute. "It's not bribery. It's priming the pump. And it works well."

Pretty cool, huh? I'm sure that none of that easy cash winds up in the black market or in the hands of the insurgents our men and women are fighting, aren't you? I imagine a portion of this slush fund finds it's way into the pockets of our underpayed and overworked soldiers, so it's not all bad.

Oh, and let's not forget Halliburton. Looks like Dick Cheney's company is as careful with government equipment as, say - Florida is with their electronic voting records:

Halliburton Co. has lost $18.6 million of government property in Iraq, about a third of the items it was given to manage, including trucks, computers and office furniture, government auditors claim.

Sibel Edmunds STILL being kept under wraps
A classified Justice Department investigation has concluded that a former F.B.I. translator at the center of a growing controversy was dismissed in part because she accused the bureau of ineptitude, and it found that the F.B.I. did not aggressively investigate her claims of espionage against a co-worker.....The Justice Department's inspector general concluded that the allegations by the translator, Sibel Edmonds, "were at least a contributing factor in why the F.B.I. terminated her services".....Ms. Edmonds worked as a contract linguist for the F.B.I. for about six months, translating material in Turkish, Persian and Azerbaijani. She was dismissed in 2002 after she complained repeatedly that bureau linguists had produced slipshod and incomplete translations of important terrorism intelligence before and after the Sept. 11 attacks. She also accused a fellow Turkish linguist in the bureau's Washington field office of blocking the translation of material involving acquaintances who had come under F.B.I. suspicion and said the bureau had allowed diplomatic sensitivities with other nations to impede the translation of important terrorism intelligence....The Edmonds case has proved to be a growing concern to the F.B.I. because it touches on three potential vulnerabilities for the bureau: its ability to translate sensitive counterterrorism material, its treatment of internal "whistle-blowers," and its classification of sensitive material that critics say could be embarrassing to the bureau.....The Justice Department has imposed an unusually broad veil of secrecy on the Edmonds case, declaring details of her case to be a matter of "state secrets." The department has blocked her from testifying in a lawsuit brought by families of Sept. 11 victims, it has retroactively classified briefings Congressional officials were given in 2002, and it has classified the inspector general's entire report on its investigation into her case. As a result, groups promoting government openness have accused the Justice Department of abusing the federal procedures in place for classifying sensitive material.

For those of you who have just been waiting for “Homeland Security” to be used as an excuse for monitoring and infiltration of domestic (and legal) protest groups

Bush Co. tries to co-opt the 9-11 committee recommendations
Hamilton said that he and other commission members will vocally oppose any attempt by the Bush administration or Congress to make major changes in their recommendations...."We believe that the reforms are a package and that if some are broken off, then the result is that you diminish the impact of our recommendations," Hamilton said in an interview Wednesday. "You end up with something of less value."

Bush/Cheney in no hurry to debate (and why should they be?)

Dems finally wake up, start to play offense and not just defense

The wizards of Bush’s education policy

Bonus item: The unbelievably lazy and ill-informed “professional” press corps, and how the Right manipulates them

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Illinois saves the Democrats! Blogosphere goes gaga over Obama!

[The Speech]

And how about the coolness of the first blogged convention? Even videoblogs:

Why Bush must lose

1. Even the defenses are starting to sound self-parodying
William Safire on why the Democrats are playing nice with each other:
The party-unifying target is That Man in the White House and his coldblooded coterie of warmongering neocon homophobic tax cutters.
Apparently, he thinks he's joking.

2. Bush’s greatest supposed weakness, according to the latest spin, is that he’s been such a SUCCESS

3. The deep political dilemma posed by Dick Cheney

4. Because “worst President in US history” doesn’t sound hyperbolic any more

5. Bush’s impossible choice on assault weapons

6. He’s reduced the Army and National Guard to begging (and draft talk refuses to go away)

7. Toxic waste out of control

8. Bush Co. trying to spin 9-11 Report as vindication for their policies (have they READ it?);ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland

[Just one reminder, from page 265 of the report]
“In sum, the domestic agencies never mobilized in response to the threat. They did not have direction, and did not have a plan to institute. The borders were not hardened. Transportation systems were not fortified. Electronic surveillance was not targeted against a domestic threat. State and local law enforcement were not marshaled to augment the FBI’s efforts. The public was not warned. The terrorists exploited deep institutional failings within our government.”

9. ‘Nuff said
The White House will project soon that this year's federal deficit will exceed $420 billion, congressional aides said Tuesday, a record figure….

Florida’s voting policies: a joke and a scandal

Bonus item: Goofy Kerry photo used to “Dukakisize” him,1,7586358.story?coll=la-home-headlines

[CNN’s increasingly shameful performance]

[But don’t forget THIS one]

Sunday, July 25, 2004


A closer look at the 9-11 report;ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland

Will Bush rush to implement its recommendations (do pigs fly)?

A closer look at those rediscovered National Guard records
Although, as many bloggers noted, the AP tried to whitewash the sudden Hilary-Clinton-like rediscovery of Bush’s military pay records by saying that they “shed no new light on the future president’s activities during that summer” it’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that in fact they do shed light on a dark corner. Like the curious case of the dog in the nighttime, the pay records speak volumes for what they do NOT say: they lack any indication that Lt. Bush met his service obligations......

The outrages just keep coming;ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland
The Bush administration has been going to court to block lawsuits by consumers who say they have been injured by prescription drugs and medical devices……The administration contends that consumers cannot recover damages for such injuries if the products have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In court papers, the Justice Department acknowledges that this position reflects a "change in governmental policy," and it has persuaded some judges to accept its arguments, most recently scoring a victory in the federal appeals court in Philadelphia.

Could Kerry become a great President, not just a good alternative to GWB?

Is “F911” having any impact?

Latest poll results, and a nice insight into how to interpret them
If the election for President were being held today, Sen. John Kerry would get 48% compared to 44% for President Bush, according to a Time magazine poll to be released tomorrow. Bloomberg has a story on the poll....A new Quinnipiac poll also shows Kerry leading Bush, 46% to 43%.
Charlie Cook looks at the poll numbers and notes that Bush and Kerry have been de facto dead even in the polls for months. And that's possibly fatal news for Bush:

given the fact that well-known incumbents with a defined record rarely get many undecided voters -- a quarter to a third at an absolute maximum -- an incumbent in a very stable race essentially tied at 45 percent was actually anything but in an even-money situation...The point is that this race has settled into a place that is not at all good for an incumbent, is remarkably stable, and one that is terrifying many Republican lawmakers, operatives and activists. But in a typically Republican fashion, they are too polite and disciplined to talk about it much publicly.

Here's the point of these comments. Don't read polls just for the spread between Bush and Kerry. Look for the spread between Bush and 50%. If Bush is much below 50%, he's in deep trouble in that state.

The tipping point?
For Mr. Bush, the country is about evenly divided on approval of his presidency, according to the latest poll. But there are some ominous signs that Mr. Bush is beginning to suffer from a Johnson-style "credibility gap" after sending the country to war to root out weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda, and being unable to prove either one. When asked by The New York Times and CBS News in June whether Mr. Bush was being completely honest about the war in Iraq, 20 percent of voters said he was mostly lying and 59 percent said he was hiding something. Only 18 percent thought he was telling the entire truth…..The question for Mr. Bush is how damaged is his bond with the voters? Has he tipped into a negative zone from which he cannot recover? Or can he win a second term?……"The bond can break, and in Bush's case the bond has broken for some previous supporters," said Thomas E. Patterson, a professor of government and the press at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "However, presidential support is based on multiple influences - including partisanship. It took a long time, for example, for certain groups of Americans to conclude in 1973-74 that Nixon had to go. Bush will have a lot of trouble regaining those that have become deeply dissatisfied with his leadership. But I don't have a sense yet that he's lost so many early backers that he's a goner."

On the incredibly polarized, partisan, electorate;ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland

Hey Nader supporters: just ask yourselves, why would the GOP do this?
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader's quixotic presidential campaign says it submitted about 5,400 signatures to get on the Michigan ballot, far short of the required number of 30,000. Luckily for him, approximately 43,000 signatures were filed by Michigan Republicans on his behalf, more than meeting the requirement.

Bonus item: Tucker Carlson, a real creep

Saturday, July 24, 2004


Complete 9-11 report, in more readable HTML format

If you can’t read all 600 pages, don’t miss Chapter 8

More analysis
The final report of the 9/11 commission confirms many of the panel's preliminary findings that have--or should have--embarrassed the Bush administration. The commission does note, "Our aim has not been to assign individual blame. Our aim has been to provide the fullest possible account of the events surrounding 9/11 and to identify lessons learned." And it is true that the report does point to screw-ups and negligent policymaking committed during both the Bush II and Clinton administrations. But George W. Bush is the incumbent president who has to face the voters in November. Although Republicans in recent days have been highlighting the mistakes of the Clinton years, it is not inappropriate for voters to focus on what report tells us about Bush and his administration. As a public service, here is a look at several of those critical portions…..

[A must-read]

Did Bush dodge a bullet, or is more trouble to come from 9-11 revelations?
Rather than focus criticism on the Bush administration, the commission spread the blame broadly and evenly across two administrations, the FBI and Congress. The panel, though hardly flattering of the Bush administration, did not endorse the view of star witness and former White House counterterrorism director Richard A. Clarke that the Bush administration cared less about terrorism than the Clinton administration did. And Chairman Thomas H. Kean even stood in the Rose Garden yesterday praising Bush's cooperation -- after months of complaints by the commission about a lack of access…..Bush, who originally opposed the commission's creation and then squabbled with the panel, rushed to embrace it after aides concluded that such a course was wiser than disputing with it. Bush's staff hastily announced yesterday morning's appearance in the Rose Garden, where Bush patted Kean (R-N.J.) and Vice Chairman Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.) on the back. Later, in Glenview, Ill., Bush highlighted the report's emphasis on "deep institutional failings" and said: "The commission's recommendations are consistent with the strategy my administration is following to address these failings and to win the war on terror." Bush read several recommendations, prefacing each by asserting: "We agree."
It was a very relieved White House yesterday…..The commission nobody there wanted in the first place issued its massive, searing indictment of a government utterly unprepared for the kind of attack unleashed on Sept. 11, 2001, and still not equipped to deal with the new realities of terrorism……But the report didn't overtly blame President Bush….At least no more than it blamed President Clinton and Congress and poor communication and structural issues and a whole host of other problems. It was an indictment without a defendant……But the sense of relief may be short lived…….Underneath its everyone's-to-blame veneer, the report includes some weighty assertions that are potentially very damaging to the White House……The report, for instance, criticizes the concept of the "war on terror" that has been the signature issue of Bush's presidency. It concludes that what is required to defeat Islamist terrorism is something more nuanced than that. And it does not support the argument that the war on Iraq was either related to or helpful in that quest…..And its activist list of proposals puts Bush in a reactive posture during a campaign season when he wants to convey a sense of steady and strong leadership…Bush is clearly cool to many of the specific recommendations, such as creating a national intelligence director position. But arguing that the system isn't broken is no longer really a political option....,3858,4977878-110340,00.html
The commission's 10 members said they planned to team up in pairs - one Democrat and one Republican - to campaign throughout the US for the adoption of their 41 recommendations to make the country safer….."All 10 of us have decided to do everything we can, whether it's testimony or lobbying or speaking or whatever's necessary, to let the American people know about these recommendations - know how important they are, our belief that they can save lives," Thomas Kean, the commission's chair, told reporters on Thursday…..Jamie Gorelick, who served in the Clinton administration, made the point even plainer. "Everyone who is running for office can be asked: Do you support these recommendations?"…..The strategy would mark the start of a new chapter in the life of a commission which has grown in credibility over the last 20 months. It has also accumulated moral force, thanks in large measure to the support of victims' families. Advocates for the families said they would also press for the adoption of the commission's recommendations…..That could prove an embarrassment to the Bush administration, whose officials have responded cautiously to the commission's call for a sweeping overhaul of the intelligence services….The Bush administration's immediate response to the commission's call for sweeping changes to the government's intelligence agencies was cool….."People should recognise that we're talking about pretty fundamental changes here," the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told reporters. "It only makes sense to try and understand the implications of them before you rush headlong one way."

“Calls for action”,1,1138576.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage

Swift action “unlikely”

But giving the APPEARANCE of swift action is VERY likely;ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland

Worth remembering....
Wouldn't it be appropriate, now that the 9-11 Commission has finally released its report, for some of the major papers to at least acknowledge in their reportage that President Bush and his staff kicked and screamed, delayed and fought, and pretty much dug in their nails for months and months to prevent this commission from coming into being in the first place? I see nothing in the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the other big dailies. Does anyone else?

Plame indictments may be on the way!

Bush’s “missing” military records suddenly reappear, do not support his claims of service
Like records disclosed earlier by the White House, the newly released computerized payroll records show no indication Bush drilled with the Alabama unit during July, August and September of 1972. Pay records covering all of 1972, released previously, also indicated no guard service for Bush during those three months.

Do the DoD Guantanamo hearings satisfy Geneva obligations? Maybe

GOP asks Catholic Church for parish directories

Bush failing to win over Hispanics

Friday, July 23, 2004


Another somewhat sketchy update of news stories – hoping to get back to a more regular daily schedule in a few days.

9-11 report: plenty of blame to go around, but only one of these guys is actually RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION

Some initial analyses:

GOP: trying to change the subject,44613639,5879,f/

Sandy Berger: too dumb to be part of Kerry’s cabinet anyway

But the story behind the story is how the Bush administration knew about the investigation and manipulated the timing of leaks to distract from 9-11 report

Beyond cynical: Bush Co. kills tax bill to preserve issue for campaign

Bad apples: Army investigates itself, decides that Abu Ghraib torture was “not a systemic problem” (just a hundred or so totally isolated and unrelated cases)

SSCI report: more good analysis

Where was George?

Bonus item: Scott McClellan is losing his mind

I'm not aware of any one in the White House who is aware of anyone who's aware that the President ever was aware of having made such a comment.

[No, it isn’t a real quote, but sounds awfully familiar…..]

Sunday, July 18, 2004


[T]he Louisville Kentucky Republican party (specifically, the Jefferson County Republican Party ) is handing out signs that read "Kerry is bin Laden's Man/Bush is My Man."……I put in a call to the head of the Jefferson County Republicans, Jack Richardon IV and asked him if this were true………"I believe that if you look at John Kerry's voting record in the senate," he told me, "why wouldn't bin Laden prefer Kerry over Bush?"……When I pressed Richardson on whether or not his party organization was distributing it, he acknowledged that they probably were handing it out on their campaign literature tables at recent events. And if it was being handed out, "I make no apologies for it."

The scariest part is, he MEANS it

"I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job."

-- President Bush, quoted in the Lancaster New Era, during a private meeting with an Amish group.

Our man in Baghdad (a suitable heir to his predecessor)

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings……They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held…….Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence…..Iraq's Interior Minister, Falah al-Naqib, is said to have looked on and congratulated him when the job was done……

Bush to identify nominee for CIA head AFTER the election

Senate puts off Abu Ghraib inquiry (until AFTER the election)

Abu Ghraib: Hersh describes “war crimes”

It’s a race: Can the phony DoD “hearing process” deflect criticism before the courts step in again to protect the rights of Gitmo detainees?;ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland

U.S. stonewalls U.N. inquiry on Iraq payments to Halliburton, etc.

Where’s Donaldo?,1,5442271.story?coll=sns-ap-politics-headlines
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, for years the most public face of the Bush administration's war on terrorism, has suddenly become scarce.

NEWS FLASH! We have finally found the nexus of state-sponsored terrorism between Al Qaeda and….Iraq?….hold on….wait a minute….ohhhhhh….IRAN! (Oops, sorry),8599,664967,00.html

Bush in trouble with undecideds….

….and not doing too well with conservatives either,1,5729665.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage

The Bush Cartel: “They Don’t Like Democracy”

Keep an eye on Florida (again)

We need a new word to replace “hypocrisy” – Bush’s cynical manipulation of the “Gay Marriage” issue

Remember that the foreign agents (Chalabi et al.) who duped us into war with Iraq could not have succeeded without active sponsorship by Defense and Intelligence officials
It's almost as if a network of neoconservative hawks and self-interested defectors inside and outside of the administration put together a system for piping unreliable information about the Iraqi threat straight to the top of the US government in order to bolster the case for war. And not only did the defectors have an obvious interest in getting the US to help them gain power in Iraq, but many of their helpers on the Defense Policy Board had financial interests in pushing for war. Maybe the whole thing wasn't just a screw-up by CIA professionals after all. Imagine that. . . .

Here they come: bogus “deficit reduction” numbers

Still trying to get the Bush military records

Is the world safer as a result of Bush's policies? (gee, how do YOU feel?)

Bonus item: “Outfoxed”? Fox News reveals its own true nature

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


All you need to know about Mr. Macho

Case #1: Blair: "I am responsible for mistakes";ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland

Case #2: Bush: "in denial"

SSCI report: Key intelligence documents withheld or altered
Today's LA Times notes that the SSIC report points to the fact that key revisions were made to the public version of this NIE , which is interesting because nobody knows who did it. Evidently, the public NIE was phrased in language that was much less ambiguous than the original CIA document:
The White House and the Central Intelligence Agency have refused to give the Senate Intelligence Committee a one-page summary of prewar intelligence in Iraq prepared for President Bush that contains few of the qualifiers and none of the dissents spelled out in longer intelligence reviews, according to Congressional officials.....Senate Democrats claim that the document could help clear up exactly what intelligence agencies told Mr. Bush about Iraq's illicit weapons. The administration and the C.I.A. say the White House is protected by executive privilege.......

SSCI report redactions: who is being protected?

When was the decision made to go to war in Iraq?

War advocates = war profiteers,1,278590.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Life in Abu Ghraib (hell on earth)

U.S. may still be hiding detainees from the Red Cross

"How Chalabi Played the Press"

The death of "compassionate conservatism"

Bush's anemic employment numbers

The utterly hypocritical and cynical "Marriage" amendment turns into an embarrassment even for its sponsors
Short on votes and beset by internal divisions, Senate Republicans struggled Tuesday to salvage a respectable defeat for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, an issue that President Bush pushed toward the top of the election-year agenda.

DeLay corruption update: is he in real trouble now?

What are these people doing to our country? Talk about "postponing" election won't go away

Bonus item:

Oops - didn't anyone look into this? Bush's lawyer is also Ken Lay's lawyer! ("Sharp" move, guys)

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

For the next month or so, I will be travelling in several locations, so I will not be online every day. I will try to maintain this blog intermittently, but it won't be a daily event for a while.

(Too bad, looks like the next few weeks could be pretty amazing.)

I'll be back home and hooked up again on August 9.


Thursday, July 08, 2004


Man, you couldn't MAKE IT UP to be any more outrageous than this
Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon......It said the payroll records of "numerous service members," including former First Lt. Bush, had been ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. No back-up paper copies could be found, it added in notices dated June 25.......The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush's claims of service in Alabama are in question.....

[Now, I ask you, what are the odds of that happening randomly?]

The loss was announced by the Defense Department's Office of Freedom of Information and Security Review in letters to The New York Times and other news organizations that for nearly half a year have sought Mr. Bush's complete service file under the open-records law.

There was no mention of the loss, for example, when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the President's military records last February
in an effort to stem Democratic accusations that he was "AWOL" for a time during his commitment to fly at home in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.......The disclosure that the payroll records had been destroyed came in a letter signed by C. Y. Talbott, chief of the Pentagon's Freedom of Information Office, who forwarded a CD-Rom of hundreds of records that Mr. Bush has previously released, along with images of punch-card records. Sixty pages of Mr. Bush's medical file and some other records were excluded on privacy grounds, Mr. Talbott wrote.

He said in the letter that he could not provide complete payroll records, explaining, "The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has advised of the inadvertent destruction of microfilm containing certain National Guard payroll records.".......Searches for backup paper copies of the missing records were unsuccessful.".......Mr. Talbott's office would not respond to questions, saying that further information could be provided only through another Freedom of Information application.......

For Mr. Bush, the 1969 period when he was training to be a pilot, is not in dispute. But in May 1972, he moved to Alabama to work on a political campaign and, he has said, to perform his Guard service there for a year. But other Guard officers have said they had no recollection of ever seeing him there. The most evidence the White House has been able to find are records showing Mr. Bush was paid for six days in October and November 1972, without saying where, and the record of a dental exam at a Montgomery, Ala., air base on Jan. 6, 1973........

The lost payroll records stored in Denver might have answered some questions about whether he fulfilled his legal commitment, critics who have written about the subject said in interviews....... "Those are records we've all been interested in," said James Moore, author of a recent book, "Bush's War for Re-election," which takes a critical view of Mr. Bush's service record. "I think it's curious that the microfiche could resolve what days Mr. Bush worked and what days he was paid, and suddenly that is gone."......But Mr. Moore said the president could still authorize the release of other withheld records that would shed light on his service record....
For the next month or so, I will be travelling in several locations, so I will not be online every day. I will try to maintain this blog intermittently, but it won't be a daily event for a while.

(Too bad, looks like the next few weeks could be pretty amazing.)

I'll be back home and hooked up again on August 9.


Ken Lay: another albatross around Bush's neck;ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland
Looking and sounding confident but with his face glistening with perspiration, Mr. Lay made a statement, and then told the gathered reporters that he would answer any of their questions........,1,4075915.story?coll=la-home-headlines
Lay lent Enron's corporate jet to the younger Bush eight times during the 2000 campaign, was co-chair of a gala tribute to him and was one of his top campaign contributors. Enron was also a major patron of Bush and the Republican Party.....Immediately after the first TV reports of Lay's indictment, the Democratic National Committee fired off a news release outlining these and other ties between the executive and the president. It was only the first shot in what is likely to be an extended effort....."The indictment plays right into the Democrats' populist theme that there are 'two Americas' -- that middle-class Americans are being left out of the riches of the last four years because of the greed of the people at top," said Bruce Cain, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley.......Reporters asked Bush about the indictment at a campaign appearance in Waterford, Mich., but he walked away without answering, Reuters reported.
The White House is trying to put at least an arm's length between President Bush and indicted Enron executive Kenneth Lay, a campaign benefactor Bush nicknamed "Kenny Boy" when the two were up-and-comers in Texas......It has been "quite some time" since Bush and Lay talked with each other, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Thursday, brushing off questions about whether the two were friends.

["A good start":]

The Bush-Lay letters

Is the press underplaying the Bush-Lay link?
[A] review of mainstream press coverage since news of the Lay indictment first broke Wednesday afternoon indicates most news outlets, minus the San Francisco Chronicle and a handful of others, have completely downplayed the Bush connection, or simply ignored it all together.....

Well, maybe not: amazing photo and press moment
US President George W. Bush walks away from a briefing with the media, refusing to answer questions after he was asked about Enron and the reported indictment of former CEO Kenneth Lay, who was a close adviser and fund-raiser for Bush and his father, earning him the presidential nickname of 'Kenny Boy.'(AFP/Paul J. Richards)

Yet another vague "security alert" that seems designed to do nothing to make anyone actually any safer
The United States has "credible" information indicating that the al Qaeda terrorist network is preparing a large-scale attack in the United States aimed at disrupting this year's electoral process, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said today...... But no specific intelligence has provided a target, date or location for the attack, and the department is not raising its security alert from the current elevated "yellow" level, Ridge said.;ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland
Mr. Ridge brushed aside any suggestion that the administration was trying to create a widespread sense of unease that might work to President Bush's advantage less than four months before the election........."It's a wrong interpretation," he said.
"Nothing has been done," said DeForest B. Soaries, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, which Congress created to help localities improve their voting systems. "It's embarrassing that the federal government hasn't taken this more seriously. . . . I won't be silent."

Once again, U.S. military tries to decide unilaterally what rights Guantanamo detainees do and do not have (some view this as a step forward -- I think it is a pitiful sham. Read on.)
The prisoner can choose to participate and present information in his defense.......He will be assigned a military officer, who is not a lawyer, to act as a personal representative, the officials said, and will have access to an interpreter...........It was not immediately determined whether the officer will be required to turn over information the prisoner might disclose that could work against him, the officials said.........The panels will operate on the presumption that the government is properly detaining the prisoners. Officials did not describe what would constitute proof of an illegal detention.

I hate to say it, but in Iraq, growing evidence of Israeli involvement with U.S. interrogations

Nearing 1000 U.S. deaths in Iraq

And more horrific violence to come

Senate intelligence report: it's all the CIA's fault (again)

Ashcroft: before recusing himself, was extensively briefed on details of the Plame investigation
Senior federal law-enforcement officials have expressed serious concerns among themselves that Ashcroft spent months overseeing the probe and receiving regular briefings regarding a criminal investigation in which the stakes were so high for the Attorney General's personal friends, political allies, and political party.

That couple arrested for wearing "anti-Bush" T-shirts at a W.Va. rally? One of them was a federal employee (and I do mean WAS)

Your "Patriotic" Congress at work
The Republican-led House bowed to a White House veto threat Thursday and stood by the USA Patriot Act, defeating an effort to block the part of the anti-terrorism law that helps the government investigate people's reading habits.......The effort to defy Bush and bridle the law's powers lost by 210-210, with a majority needed to prevail. The amendment appeared on its way to victory as the roll call's normal 15-minute time limit expired, but GOP leaders kept the vote open for about 20 more minutes as they persuaded about 10 Republicans who initially supported the provision to change their votes......."Shame, shame, shame," Democrats chanted as the minutes passed and votes were switched. The tactic was reminiscent of last year's House passage of the Medicare overhaul measure, when GOP leaders held the vote open for an extra three hours until they got the votes they needed.

Federal Marriage Amendment: Action Alert
This article in Roll Call is interesting, though, because it indicates that some Democrats in the Senate are thinking ahead instead of merely reacting to whatever traps the GOP leadership sets. What it says is that Democrats are thinking of letting the GOP push a vote on gay marriage -- that is, they're considering not blocking the vote on procedural grounds.

While the Democrats are still considered likelier to force a cloture vote that the GOP is expected to lose, some Democrats believe that an up-or-down vote on the issue would be more beneficial, according to three separate sources, all who requested anonymity....."Having a vote on the issue would put it to rest," said one of the sources, a senior Democratic aide.........Democrats who advocate this course said forcing a procedural vote would provide an inaccurate sense of support for the measure. Many GOP Senators who would be tempted to vote against the amendment itself, they say, might support the Republican leadership's right to proceed to the bill, which would become the only vote of record on the issue this year....... By contrast, allowing a direct vote on same-sex marriage would prevent Republicans from characterizing Democrats as obstructionists -- and would force some GOP Senators to take a difficult vote on the issue....... "It would put their hypocrisy on the record," said a Democratic source. "There are many Republican Senators who are embarrassed by the bill and would prefer not to vote to amend the Constitution."

I think they may be right. The support for this bill just isn't there. And religious right leaders in Washington may be pushing the GOP into a debacle.

[More on the politics of this:]

"Why Cheney Can't Leave"


I know that once the press gets hooked into a trope it doesn't matter any more whether it's true or fair or not (exhibit A: Gore the exaggerator: This time around it's Kerry the flip-flopper. But has any recent American politician reversed himself so frequently, with such serious consequence, as George Bush? There isn't even a close second

[And more:]
[And more:]

Bonus item: Two things Bush has in common with Herbert Hoover