Wednesday, June 30


This is the most comprehensive look at Bush's military records I've yet seen. The introduction:

For the eighteen months prior to his quitting the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG), George W. Bush had ignored his obligations to the US Military, statutory and regulatory US Law, and Air Force regulations and policies.   And for as long as he was being “supervised” by TXANG, he got away with it.
Very little attention has been paid to the period of Bush’s “service” after he left Texas and was assigned to the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) in Denver, Colorado.  But it is during this period that Bush’s dereliction of duty—including his failure to participate in mandatory training, and his failure to maintain his flight status—came home to roost. 
Unlike TXANG, ARPC took America’s national security—and the role played by Guardsmen and Reservists in maintaining US security—quite seriously. 
The proof of this  is the “ARF Retirement Credit Summary” dated January 30, 1974, which shows that Bush was placed in an “Inactive Status” effective September 15th,1973.  This document is the proverbial “smoking gun” which proves that the Air Force considered George W. Bush to have been a deserter. 


Under Air Force policy in force at that time, the only way that someone in Bush’s position could be placed in an “Inactive Status” was if they were being “completely severed from military status.”   And the only way that could happen is if someone had become permanently disabled, or deserted.  Bush was not disabled.
Instead, consistent with contemporaneous laws, regulations, and procedures, ARPC had reviewed Bush’s records, and found that he had failed to “satisfactorily participate” as a member of TXANG.  Bush was then ordered to active duty, for which he did not show up.  ARPC then certified him for immediate induction as a “non-locatee” (e.g. a deserter) through the Selective Service System.
This is the only explanation that is consistent with Bush’s military records and Air Force policy of that era. 
It is also clear that the Bush records were tampered with to hide this fact.  Many documents were thrown out that should have been kept, and there is indisputable evidence that at least one key documents has been altered. 
The documentary evidence also strongly suggests that when news of Bush’s situation reached Texas, strings were pulled that resulted in Bush being “rehabilitated” in a manner completely inconsistent with Air Force policy. 
The paper trail is incomplete, and in some cases ambiguous.  But “clerical error” is not sufficient to explain the anomalies, because the level of “coincidence” required for a “clerical error” explanation is well beyond any rational possibility.
Because Bush’s records are incomplete, a full understanding of what Bush’s records represent, and how they must be interpreted, can only be achieved through an understanding of what each document means within its specific context.

Voters in the armed services should be aghast at this and vote accordingly in November. That is, if they ever get a good look at it. I'm sending the link to all my military family and friends. Shouldn't you?

Thanks to Atrios for the link.


Molly Ivins is a national treasure. This column is so good I'm reprinting it in its entirety:

When it comes to religion, it's more important to walk the walk than to talk the talk. I come from a tradition (Episcopal) that considers it rather in bad taste to wear your religion on your sleeve, presumably from Matthew, Chapter 6, Verses 5 and 6:

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

Cheers and amen!

Of course, I also had some Baptist input and so am fond of making a joyful noise unto the Lord. Texans even like to sing hymns around campfires while drinking beer -- I'm not sure if that counts.

I long ago learned to shy away from the stink of sanctimony. We are all familiar with pietistic hypocrites and spiritual humbugs wearing dog collars. I doubt that the clergy is more afflicted with canting Pharisees than the legal profession is with sleazy chiselers, but neither type is exactly rare.

When you throw politics into the religious mix, or vice versa, you get some real beauts in the hypocrisy department. Just to take a recent example, Jack Ryan of Illinois, the one who had to drop his campaign for the Senate after his divorce papers revealed that he had forced his wife to go to sex clubs with him, was one of the "family values" crowd who opposes gay marriage because it's such a threat to the institution. Please. And although Bill Clinton was too polite to mention it in his book, quite a remarkable number of Republican leaders who were hell-bent on impeaching him for his folly were themselves adulterers.

A pointless argument

Back in the 1950s, when the late Rep. Bob Eckhardt was still in the Texas Legislature, a bill to cut off all state aid to illegitimate children was under debate. After listening to some of his "Christian" colleagues explain why illegitimate children should be left to starve, Eckhardt rose and said, "I am not so much concerned about the natural bastards as I am about the self-made ones." I consider that one of the most Christian things I've ever heard said during legislative debate.

We've gotten ourselves into a pointless argument, as we often do, by exaggerating the extremes. We are not faced with a choice between imposing some Christian version of Sharia law on the one hand, or "driving religion out of the public square" altogether on the other.

Avoid religious strife

Two hundred years of not terribly rigid separation of church and state has given us one precious gift. As a quote attributed to James Madison (never been able to find the correct citation on it) put it, "The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries." Religious strife is still soaking the soil with blood, isn't it, in Kosovo and elsewhere.

To the extent that politics should be based on moral and ethical considerations, of course it has religious foundations. But dragging God into partisan politics is a sin.

Is it Christian to cut money for Head Start? Is it Christian to cut poor children off healthcare? Is it Christian to cut old people off Medicare? Is it Christian to write memos justifying torture? Is it Christian to cut after-school, nutrition and AIDS programs so multimillionaires can have bigger tax cuts?

Historically, the Bible has been used to justify some stupefying crimes, including slavery and genocide. I see no indication that we are any better at divining the Lord's intent now than we ever were.

Ruining God's reputation

As regular readers know, I call upon the Lord rather frequently myself, often for patience in dealing with those who presume to speak in His name. To whatever extent each of us is affected by religion, I suppose we inevitably bring that into the public sphere. But I seriously question the wisdom of doing so in any organized or deliberate fashion. Drag God into politics, and you'll ruin His reputation in no time.

Again, this may be a matter of taste, but I have seen too many Psalm-singing, Bible-quoting, Holy Joe hypocrites in politics to think that these frauds improve the moral tone of our public life. Getting snookered by some canting humbug is even more depressing than getting snookered by a plain old crook.

Beware those who make a show or a parade of their piety: Keep watching for the ones who walk the walk.

Here's the link.


Left in charge as prime minister is a smooth-talking former Baathist, Ayad Allawi, groomed in exile by the Central Intelligence Agency since the early 1990s. Unlike his erstwhile rival, Ahmad Chalabi (who was groomed by the Defense Department, but always remained a bit too much the wily oriental gentleman for American public tastes), Allawi comes across as more of a regular guy, maybe even a potential golfing partner. He understands what the Americans want, and as long as we're behind him with our troops and our billions, he may be able to get it. But let's not pretend he's a nascent democrat, even if he manages to hold some cosmetic elections.

Allawi is best understood as the anointed dictator in waiting. His job is to do whatever needs doing to impose order on the current chaos. Martial law, ruthless repression, you name it. With American firepower to back him up, he's more than ready to take the blame for any rough stuff. Allawi's defense minister proudly vows to chop off the hands and heads of terrorists. As Franklin Roosevelt is supposed to have said about an infamous Nicaraguan dictator, "He's a son of a bitch, but at least he's our son of a bitch."

Problem is, these SOBs, once they've solved our immediate problems, create new ones. They aren't ours at all. They're in this for themselves. And they become the vehicles of disillusionment with everything that we Americans think we represent.
Nazis, Communism, Islamism--the threats varied, but the responses were the same down through the decades. After our SOB the Shah was overthrown by radical Islamists in 1979, we started looking for a new strongman who would stand with us against the commies and the Islamic tide now represented, not by the mufti, Haj Amin Husseini, but by the Ayatollah Khomeini. That new SOB, you might recall, was Saddam Hussein.

I'd like to think we could break out of this cycle, and that's precisely what President Bush says he wants to do: stop supporting dictators just because they say we share the same enemies; start to build real democracies (after the enemy is eliminated, and a few hands and feet are cut off). But we shouldn't be surprised if the rest of the world remains deeply skeptical. We may have forgotten all this history. But they haven't. And when they look at it, the phrase that leaps to mind is not "let freedom reign." It's "yanqui go home."

The whole article is here.

Harold Meyerson has a great op-ed piece in today's Washington Post:

Hey, you! The snarl in the suit! Yeah, you, Dick Cheney: Go **** yourself!

Phew! I feel better already, and I used only asterisks. Our vice president gets a rush when he goes in for the stronger stuff, the kind of words to which we columnists would never expose our thoughtful readers. But we have it from Cheney himself that after he encountered Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy on the Senate floor and told him what to do, he "felt better afterwards."

If that justification came from the mouth of a Democrat, of course, it would be a sign of moral laxity and lack of seriousness. How many conservatives have told us that Bill Clinton was a feel-good guy devoid of all discipline? And how many have chastised Dick Cheney for invoking the justification they constantly accused Clinton of succumbing to?

Besides, this isn't the sole instance of Cheney justifying himself in the manner of Clinton in his recent "60 Minutes" interview. When Dan Rather asked Clinton why he had involved himself with Monica Lewinsky, the former president allowed as how he did it "because I could" -- a justification he acknowledged as the worst imaginable.

Consider now Cheney's case for last year's dividend tax cut, a budget-busting giveaway to the rich that came on top of the administration's previous budget-busting giveaways to the rich. In his memoir, Paul O'Neill -- the longtime Cheney buddy whom the veep had recruited to be Treasury secretary -- recounted his attempt to convince Cheney that yet another tax cut would spell fiscal ruination. "We won the [2002] midterms," Cheney responded. "This is our due."

The answer gives a whole new meaning to the term "entitlement program," but then, so does the Bush presidency.


I've been rather on-again, off-again in my blogging the past couple of weeks and probably will continue to be spotty through the end of this week. Visits from family and stresses at work are the culprits.

Tuesday, June 29


U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer has issued a raft of edicts revising Iraq's legal code and has appointed at least two dozen Iraqis to government jobs with multi-year terms in an attempt to promote his concepts of governance long after the planned handover of political authority on Wednesday.

Some of the orders signed by Bremer, which will remain in effect unless overturned by Iraq's interim government, restrict the power of the interim government and impose U.S.-crafted rules for the country's democratic transition. Among the most controversial orders is the enactment of an elections law that gives a seven-member commission the power to disqualify political parties and any of the candidates they support.

The effect of other regulations could last much longer. Bremer has ordered that the national security adviser and the national intelligence chief chosen by the interim prime minister he selected, Ayad Allawi, be given five-year terms, imposing Allawi's choices on the elected government that is to take over next year.

Bremer also has appointed Iraqis handpicked by his aides to influential positions in the interim government. He has installed inspectors-general for five-year terms in every ministry. He has formed and filled commissions to regulate communications, public broadcasting and securities markets. He named a public-integrity commissioner who will have the power to refer corrupt government officials for prosecution.

Some Iraqi officials condemn Bremer's edicts and appointments as an effort to exert U.S. control over the country after the transfer of political authority. "They have established a system to meddle in our affairs," said Mahmoud Othman, a member of the Governing Council, a recently dissolved body that advised Bremer for the past year. "Iraqis should decide many of these issues."

Bremer has defended his issuance of many of the orders as necessary to implement democratic reforms and update Iraq's out-of-date legal code. He said he regarded the installation of inspectors-general in ministries, the creation of independent commissions and the changes to Iraqi law as important steps to fight corruption and cronyism, which in turn would help the formation of democratic institutions.

The irony is just too great to bear.

The rest is here.


David Brooks opines that our "age of political segregation" is the result of higher education, a quest for self-validation, and geographical isolation:

To a large degree, polarization in America is a cultural consequence of the information age. This sort of economy demands and encourages education, and an educated electorate is a polarized electorate.
Once you've joined a side, the information age makes it easier for you to surround yourself with people like yourself. And if there is one thing we have learned over the past generation, it's that we are really into self-validation.

We don't only want radio programs and Web sites from members of our side — we want to live near people like ourselves. Information age workers aren't tied down to a mine, a port or a factory. They have more opportunities to shop for a place to live, and they tend to cluster in places where people share their cultural aesthetic and, as it turns out, political values. So every place becomes more like itself, and the cultural divides between places become stark. The information age was supposed to make distance dead, but because of clustering, geography becomes more important.

The political result is that Republican places become more Republican and Democratic places become more Democratic.
People lose touch with others in opposing, now distant, camps. And millions of kids are raised in what amount to political ghettoes.

Boy, David needs to get out more. Here I am, a lifelong progressive Democrat married to a reformed Republican (now a progressive Democrat), experiencing every day a work environment where, I'd estimate, the Republican-to-Democrat ratio is about 10 to 1, living in a gated community where I'd guess the same ratio is about 2 to 1, raising two Democratic sons, one independent daughter, and two Republican daughters. (The independent is the most highly educated -- our family is nothing if not free-thinking.) I listen to right-wing talk radio every morning and afternoon on my daily commute so I will better understand the opposition view, but I never watch Fox and am an obsessive CNN and MSNBC watcher (if there were an AirAmerica for TV, I'd opt for that, but my choices are limited). I read progressive blogs and foreign newspapers, but I keep up with conservative publications when I can.

Maybe David hasn't noticed, but Democrats tend to be much more open to bipartisanship than his Republican/conservative cronies. Maybe his circle clusters among like-minded people and aren't interested in opposing viewpoints, but my Democratic acquaintances are. We continue to expose ourselves throughout our lives to new and different ideas and experiences. That's education, too, not just four (or six or eight) years we spent in college in our youth. And maybe that's why research indicates that better-educated people vote Democrat.


Paul Krugman, as usual, gets right to the heart of it:

Let's say the obvious. By making Iraq a playground for right-wing economic theorists, an employment agency for friends and family, and a source of lucrative contracts for corporate donors, the administration did terrorist recruiters a very big favor.