Saturday, August 14


The opinions of Josh Marshall and other journalists I respect notwithstanding, I think the L.A. Times speaks perfectly for my sentiments:

Here we have an uncomfortable contradiction. You can believe that people who reveal the names of CIA agents deserve exposure, vilification and punishment. You can believe that people who leak secret information to journalists deserve confidentiality, praise and protection from punishment. But you cannot easily believe both these things in this case because the good and the bad people are the same people. The purpose of allowing journalists to protect the identity of leakers is to protect and encourage leaks. But there are leaks and there are leaks. It makes no sense for the government to encourage leaks that it rightly outlaws.
Journalists would prefer not to make this kind of distinction. A clear and simple principle that you never reveal a source would encourage leaks more effectively than a policy with a lot of provisos. Of course, any journalist is free to promise anonymity to a source, with or without a "get out of jail free" card. But the belief that a journalist is willing to go to jail to protect a source's identity will never be as reassuring to potential sources as certainty that he or she won't have to.
In the haze of self-righteousness about protecting sources, though, it is easy to lose sight of the cost. The cost of giving absolute legal protection to journalists' secrets is to make the government's secrets impossible to protect.

Maybe it's time for journalists and judges to stop staging these 1st Amendment melodramas. Journalists — who are citizens too — could help by being less promiscuous with offers of anonymity in the first place. If it is information you believe should not be out there — because it endangers lives (of a covert agent's contacts, for instance) or because it is wrong or deeply misleading — why should you even consider going to jail to protect the source?

You gotta go where the oil is.


Reading the most recent polls, I believe a majority of Americans evidently recognize Bush's focus is not on the needs of ordinary people, but on making it easier for the profit-makers to screw their customers and the public in general, easier for the super-wealthy to increase their fortunes without effort of productivity. But that's not the half of it. Bush is firmly committed to establishing a permanent elite of the connected and well-funded, financially handicapping the middle class and disabling the productive lower class from advancing to the next economic tier. Our preoccupation with the war on terra has enabled BushCo to dismantle, roll back or eliminate regulations benefiting or protecting working Americans, seniors, the environment, and consumers. Much of Bush/Rove's cynical and manipulative use of 9/11 to advance their agenda has been under the radar.

Out of spotlight, Bush overhauls U.S. regulations:

Allies and critics of the Bush administration agree that the Sept. 11 attacks, the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq have preoccupied the public, overshadowing an important element of the president's agenda: new regulatory initiatives. Health rules, environmental regulations, energy initiatives, worker-safety standards and product-safety disclosure policies have been modified in ways that often please business and industry leaders while dismaying interest groups representing consumers, workers, drivers, medical patients, the elderly and many others.
Some leaders of advocacy groups argue that the public preoccupation with war and terrorism has allowed the administration to push through changes that otherwise would have provoked an outcry. Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club, says he does not think the administration could have succeeded in rewriting so many environmental rules, for example, if the public's attention had not been focused on national security issues.

"The effect of the administration's concentration on war and terror has been to prevent the public from focusing on these issues," Mr. Pope said. "Now, when I hold focus groups with the general public and tell them what has been done, they exclaim, 'How could this have happened without me knowing about it?' "
Bush administration officials and their allies say they use regulations because new laws are not needed for many of the changes they have made and going to Congress every time would be needlessly complicated. But Representative David R. Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who is the ranking minority member of the Appropriations Committee, said regulatory changes did not benefit from the "checks and balances and oversight" that Congress provides.

New regulations first appear as notices of proposed rule-making in the Federal Register, which is published every weekday. Generally, government officials and others directly concerned with government business read this dense publication.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published the new rule on the public release of auto-safety information on July 28, 2003, but outside the industry hardly anyone took notice. In the following months, allies of tire manufacturers and automakers flooded the agency with comments, and all of them "contended that the release of early warning data is likely to cause substantial competitive harm," the agency said. At the same time, consumer groups argued that the data "should be released because it is important to the identification of potential defects," the agency added.

When the agency published a revised final rule on April 21, 2004, it exempted from public release warranty-claim information, industry reports on safety issues and consumer complaints, among other data, saying that releasing that information would cause "substantial competitive harm."

Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, filed suit, saying consumers needed the data to inform themselves about unsafe vehicles and tires. But Ray Tyson, the chief spokesman for the highway safety agency, said: "The suggestion that the American consumer is missing out is off the mark. I can't believe this information would be of much interest to the general public."

A Pro-Business Tilt

The overall regulatory record shows that the Bush administration has heeded the interests of business and industry. Like the Reagan administration, which made regulatory reform a priority, officials under Mr. Bush have introduced new rules to ease or dismantle existing regulations they see as cumbersome. Some analysts argue that the Bush administration has introduced rules favoring industry with a dedication unmatched in modern times.

"My thoughts go back to Herbert Hoover," said Robert Dallek, the presidential historian. "No president could have been more friendly to business than Hoover" until the Bush administration.
The administration, at the request of lumber and paper companies, gave Forest Service managers the right to approve logging in federal forests without the usual environmental reviews. A Forest Service official explained that the new rule was intended "to better harmonize the environmental, social and economic benefits of America's greatest natural resource, our forests and grasslands."

In March of 2003, the Mine Safety and Health Administration published a proposed new regulation that would dilute the rules intended to protect coal miners from black-lung disease. The mine workers union called the new rules "extremely dangerous," while a mine safety administration official contended, "We are moving on toward more effective prevention of black-lung disease."
Consumer and driver-safety groups, including Public Citizen and Parents Against Tired Truckers, started lobbying the new agency to shorten the number of hours drivers could stay behind the wheel. But trucking industry officials argued that shorter shifts would disrupt delivery schedules, which in turn would raise prices on thousands of products delivered by truck.

Last year, the Department of Transportation finally issued a new rule, saying in a prepared statement that it would "save hundreds of lives" and "protect billions in commerce." The change would increase allowable driving time from 10 hours without a break to 11 hours. But after 11 hours, drivers would have to take 10 hours off instead of eight.

Trucking companies said they were satisfied with the rule while truck drivers deplored it, saying the added hours of driving time would increase driver fatigue.
Last August, for example, the administration relaxed its clean-air rules by allowing thousands of corporations to upgrade their plants without having to install expensive pollution-control equipment, saying that would allow plants to modernize more easily, leading to greater efficiency and lower consumer costs.
Still, the administration is pleased with its overall record of regulatory change. Mr. Graham, the budget office official, eagerly acknowledged that the regulatory tilt had been toward business. "The Bush administration has cut the growth of costly business regulations by 75 percent, compared to the two previous administrations," he said.

Representative Obey said he believed most Americans remained unaware of many of the changes.

"Most people are busy just trying to make a living," he said. "And with all the focus on Iraq and bin Laden, it gives the administration an opportunity to take a lot of loot out the back door without anybody noticing."

Friday, August 13

The Seattle Times: Skeptic scorns mercury risk from coal-fired power plants

The Seattle Times: Local News: Skeptic scorns mercury risk from coal-fired power plants

Some more false science from another of Bush's false scientists. For those that think success is more important than integrity, this is the article for you. You have to admire Willie Soon, and for more than just becoming a scientist with a name more properly bestowed upon a pig farmer, but for abandoning the most basic tenets of science: Objectivity and Proof - And all with a straight face. How does he sleep at night after attempting to lull the American people into a false sense of security that might kill their beautiful child-to-be or elderly members of their family? To borrow a phrase from McBain of the Simpson's, "How do I sleep at night? On top of a pile of money with many beautiful women." Oh.....yeah I guess that could get you thru the night.

Skeptic scorns mercury risk from coal-fired power plants

By Ian Ith
Seattle Times staff reporter

Recent concerns about toxic mercury spewing from coal-fired power plants have been overblown by environmentalists in an effort to attack the energy industry, a Harvard University scientist told a convention of conservative state lawmakers in Seattle yesterday.

Willie Soon, a physicist also known for asserting that global warming is a myth, told his audience at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center that proposals to crack down on mercury emissions in the United States are based on erroneous science and might harm people's health by scaring them away from eating fish.

"No babies are being poisoned," Soon told about four dozen members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of state legislators and conservative policy experts meeting this week to share ideas and political strategies. About 2,000 members are in town this week. Interior Secretary Gale Norton is scheduled to speak today.

"I'm a scientist, and I don't approve of the popular headlines on mercury," Soon said. "They're trying to create the notion that mercury can only come from a power plant. Mercury has been here from time immemorial."
This is laughable. Soon is accusing environmentalists of a geological smear campaign. I can see it now: Environmentalist as far as the eye can see passing out pamphlets that inform the reader, "Mercury is a dangerous poison created in the unique confines of Coal power plants. Without Coal power plants there would be no mercury!" What a crock of steaming...The naturally occurring mercury in the earth is fine where it is and believe me environmentalist are all for the earth. It's the mercury that comes from the coal burning power plants, however, that is a threat to all Americans today and now. That's the mercury they care about. And that's the mercury they are talking about. BTW I must also take issue with his use of the most excellent word immemorial. It's too good for him. Mercury hasn't been digging itself out of mountains and jumping into the part of the earth that directly affects humans...topsoil, lakes, rivers...Energy Corporations like the ones who purchased his principles had to dig it up and burn it w/o precautions or protections. It would be so easy for men that did not care so little.

Soon contends that less than 1 percent of the world's mercury comes from American power plants, with the vast majority coming from natural sources such as volcanic eruptions, supernovas in space and forest fires.

But Soon has drawn fire recently because his studies on global warming have been partially funded by the petroleum industry. And the group he represented yesterday, the conservative Center for Science and Public Policy, is a wing of the Virginia-based Frontiers of Freedom, which in 2002 received nearly one-third of its $700,000 budget from ExxonMobil, according to The New York Times.

Yesterday, local environmentalists fired back.

"If you pay enough money, you can get anyone to say anything," said Robert Pregulman, executive director of Washington Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit environmental group.

"It is very clear this organization, and this guy in particular, have an ax to grind about any sort of regulation. To say it's not a problem is shortsighted, it's disingenuous and it's flat-out wrong."

Soon, who was joined at the podium by John Wootten, a retired vice president of Peabody Energy of St. Louis, one of the world's largest private coal producers, took direct aim at recent proposals by the Environmental Protection Agency to curb mercury emissions from U.S. power plants by up to 70 percent.

How dare he? There is no end to which this man and his dark-hearted friends will stoop for profit. No pain they will not inflict...No injury long as is inflicted on another.

Airborne mercury settles in water, where it turns into a toxic form that is stored in fish and passed on when people eat them, the EPA says.
The problem, Soon contended, is that the EPA's proposal doesn't look at the global picture.

Meaning they disagree with his faith-based belief that all is well and all is well and all manner of things are well.

Foreign countries, especially China, are pumping out more and more mercury from coal-fired power plants. So even if the U.S. plants completely stopped emitting mercury, it would be trivial to the overall world mercury situation, while financially harming the power industry, Soon said. "We're really talking about something that is very minute compared to what is already out there," Soon said.

This is the same argument against global warming badly repackaged. They say volcanoes produce more CO2 in a year than all the burned fossil fuels in a year. As though doubling the amount of CO2 every year had no effect whatsoever! Now they say China is producing so much mercury, it makes our contribution to illness and death negligible. Damn Commies! As though the coal burned in China accumulated in the US every bit as much as it does over thousands upon thousands of miles away in the Far East. So not only has mercury learned to extract itself from coal and spread itself throughout the part of the environment that affects the health of human beings, it has now also learned to teleport. That's one smart metal. Makes human intelligence seem superfluous. We're gettin beat by the inanimate. Soon does, however, mention the true reason he espouses such junk science and health-endangering conclusions: Putting limits on the amount of mercury polluting the environment is "financially harming the power industry." Actually it's a small inconvenience. But nothing that shrinks the bottom line of the most greed-corrupted sector of human profit is permissible. Rather poison than lose profits. BTW the US consumed 1.06 million short tons (2001E) Big Bad Red China consumed 1.31 million short tons (2000E) Does that sound like they are polluting the world with mercury disproportionately to the US? I think not.

Soon said mercury levels in yellowfin tuna, for example, have not increased since 1971, according to one study, suggesting that mercury is a constant in the environment.

Do you know why Soon doesn't tell you the name of the study or who conducted it? Because he doesn't want you to know that Francois Morel, PHD, a professor of geochemistry at Princeton and an author of the study, studied the ocean fish species yellowfin tuna and only yellowfin tuna. He then speculates that this could mean that the mercury in yellowfin tuna and other ocean fish may not be, "coming from pollution, but from natural sources. He suggests these could be hydrothermal vents and deep ocean sediments, but cannot pinpoint specific sources." This is what Dr. Morel, whose study was cited by Soon as proving coal burning does not pollute the environment had to say about fresh-water fish: "Lake fish are also a different situation, Morel says, since scientists have established a strong link between pollution and mercury levels in lakes." If Soon respected Morel enough to base his belief in coal, in part, on his study, wouldn't he re-think the endeavor when he found out Morel believes lake-fish are being contaminated by mercury produced by pollution? No. And the reason is simple: Soon believes and tries to prove what he's paid to. Some scientist. What about his reasoning? Even a simpleton should recognize that mercury produced from burning coal is likely to rain down into the lakes, rivers, and soil close to where it was produced. Hence the Mercury produced by burning coal in China is likely to affect the lakes, rivers, fish, marine life, and land animals that depend on them in China. The mercury produced in America's coal burning power plants is likely to affect our land, animals,waters, and people. And isn't it maybe possible that since the ocean is the largest single feature of the earth that it might do a better job of diffusing mercury throughout it the the lakes and rivers that pale in size by comparison? It's apples and oranges for heavens sake. Soon says that, "mercury is a constant in the environment." Everything in the environment is a constant in the environment. All that means is that mercury is present. What Soon insinuates, and the unwary hear, is that the clear and present danger of high mercury levels in our environment is always there. Totally normal. And nothing to fear. And that is a bald-faced lie for which he should, and most likely one day will, beg for forgiveness. His lies are dangerous. Shouting, "Fire!" in a crowded theatre only affects a hundred people, whereas his sickening deceit affects the lives of hundreds of millions.

Wootten, the coal-industry representative, said mercury emissions have been decreasing from U.S. plants using current technology, and requiring new, unproven and expensive mercury-removal devices would drive up electricity prices and prohibit plants from being built.

How have mercury emissions been decreasing if the technology is current? The technology hasn't changed yet the mercury has decreased? This guy wouldn't last a day as a salesman. I'm not buyin. He expects you and me to believe mercury emissions are falling using yesterdays technology. What an insult. The guy just doesn't want to buy new equipment and he doesn't care who it hurts. Curse words are too good for him.

Environmental groups counter that even if U.S. emissions provide a small slice of the mercury load, it still amounts to tons of mercury in the air, and "it only takes a teaspoon of mercury to contaminate a lake," Pregulman said. "To say that mercury emissions have no effect on human health is ridiculous."

Lord, if this is the best the guys that get paid to think about this stuff can do, it's no wonder Rich-Wing America is so easily able to direct the thoughts of average Americans.

For its part, the EPA maintains that mercury is proven to have damaging effects on fetuses. And it points out that its proposal would be the first time mercury emissions have been regulated.

For all the world as though the Bush Administration hadn't allowed more harm to come to the environment on its watch than any other administration in modern times.

"It's a potent neurotoxin," said Bill Dunbar, the EPA's spokesman in Seattle. "It's done damage to people over many centuries. It's certainly the position of the agency that it's a harmful metal."

Theres these guys called the EPA that exist and are paid to protect the public(you and me) from being poisoned by another group of guys that are scandalous bastards who prefer their lavish lifestyle to morals, integrity, and the health of your family and friends. Which are you going to believe?

If you believe the energy industry and their bought and paid for cronies, then maybe the stupidity tax idea applies to you and you deserve some neurotoxin poisoning. I just wish your ignorance didn't affect the health of those of us who care about the health of those we love. Stop helping the enemies of the common man. We can't all afford to buy everything from Whole Foods and wherever else the rich buy their no hormone-having, no mercury containing, no genetically engineered food the rest of us are forced to buy because we have no other options. I have to say to the other common men out there that agree with Soon and his agenda: "You don't know who your friends are."

Still though...stupidity, gullability, and ignorance aren't hanging offences, even though they are often the tree from which innocent people are daily hanged.

John Kerry's quietly radical school reform plan

Just read this article in the Washington Monthly regarding John Kerry's centerpiece education reform proposal. Fascinating stuff -- and like his "quietly revolutionary" health care proposal of the government assuming catastrophic care coverage, it seems workable, acceptable, fair and even SIMPLE. That is to say, John Kerry may be a deliberative man who considers all the complexities of an issue, problem or opportunity -- but his solutions are often breathtakingly simple! Some might suspect that that is the result of superior study and planning.

The truth that motivated Lopez was the same one that presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has made the main plank of his education platform: In schooling, a good teacher matters more than anything else. In June, Kerry gave a series of speeches on education that set him up for a battle with George Bush over what has become the president's signature domestic-policy issue. Many liberals had hoped that Kerry would attack the testing requirement set forth in Bush's No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which has become increasingly unpopular, especially among teachers' unions. But Kerry, who had voted for NCLB, instead challenged two longstanding, and fiercely defended, union prerogatives: seniority-based pay increases and rules virtually guaranteeing veteran teachers tenure. The candidate proposed a "new bargain"--a $30 billion, 10-year plan of federal grants which would allow districts to raise the pay of teachers whose students consistently test above average, while at the same time making it easier for schools to fire bad teachers. "Greater achievement ought to be a goal," Kerry said, "and it should be able to command greater pay, just the way it does in every other sector of professional employment."

As the campaign moves forward, Kerry's teacher plan may prove to be very clever politics. By challenging the teachers' unions, Kerry gains centrist credibility in an area where he's bucked the liberal line before. (During his 1998 Senate race, he called for an end to teacher tenure.) It also gives Kerry a signature reform that contrasts him with Bush. And his plan ought to resonate with a lot of parents like Lillian Lopez, who know from experience that better teachers are the key to truly improving schools.

But if the plan makes for good politics, is it good policy, too? Is it focused on the big problem? Would it be a credible solution? And is there more Kerry should be doing? The answer to all four questions is yes.

Now if only the media would pay attention and give his platform some air time, the citizens of the U.S.A. just might be heartened to know that there ARE solutions to our challenges out there -- we just need to "hire" some serious, solutions-oriented people to look for them.


Chris Matthews is a puzzlement. Two nights ago I was literally screaming at his nonsense on Hardball. He was swallowing everything the Swifty Vets were saying in the most "oh my God I can't believe it, this is going to hurt Kerry SO BADLY" manner, challenging them on next to nothing (does this guy EVER do his homework?). Last night he was all over John O'Neill, cutting him off, demanding specifics, questioning his motives, giving John Hurley, National Director of Veterans for Kerry, the last word (and boy is that guy good! the Kerry folks should have him on every broadcast on every channel). While Chris was as obnoxious as always, asking a question and then cutting the responder off before they've hardly begun to answer in order to ask another, at least night he was cutting off the right guy! But when I go to Tweety's web site to look for the transcript, what do I see? AN EXCERPT FROM O'NEILL'S BOOK!!!!!

I realize Chris must be panicking at the thought of Microsoft selling off MSNBC and forcing him to beg Fox for a job, but what the hey? At any rate, I fired off an e-mail asking in the name of "fairness and balance," that he add an excerpt from Doug Brinkley's book Tour of Duty to his site until he removes Unfit for Command.


Oh yeah. I do love that man. Give the General a round of applause:

General Wesley Clark, USA (ret) released the following statement today in response to Vice President Dick Cheney’s attacks on John Kerry:

“I spent almost all of my adult life in uniform serving this great nation in the United States Army. I have led American soldiers into battle and led an international coalition in the Balkans where diplomacy, backed by force, was the winning formula.

“George W. Bush failed to learn the lessons from his predecessor or history. His ideologues who control American foreign policy have squandered much of our credibility with our allies and failed to achieve victory in the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. They gambled with a go it alone policy and our soldiers are paying with their lives.

“Today we Americans are shouldering the overwhelming costs of rebuilding Iraq without sufficient help from our allies. The administration’s incompetence in protecting our security effectively is rightfully a key issue in this campaign

“Today, Dick Cheney took the lowest road in politics -- it was a cheap shot unworthy of the office of Vice President.

“The truth is that this administration has over-relied on the military in the war against terror – if we are to win, we must use all the means at our disposal – diplomacy, international law, economic development, law enforcement, and only as a last resort, military force.

“But then, maybe that’s to be expected. Neither George Bush nor Dick Cheney has ever heard a shot fired in anger. Never worried whether he’d ever see his family again or seen the destruction caused by the weapons he’s wielded. The losses of war are permanent. The consequences are unpredictable. That’s why John Kerry has always said force should be a last resort.

“John Kerry understands the risk and sacrifice that American soldiers undertake every day, in a personal way that neither George Bush nor Dick Cheney ever will. John Kerry has the physical courage, tested in combat, to hunt down and kill our enemies. He also has the moral courage and humility to avoid the arrogance, which has doomed this administration. John Kerry will make us safer at home and restore our credibility around the world.”


Letters to the NY Times re "Senator Kerry's Fateful Vote on Iraq." Are the Kerry people listening? These are very good:

To the Editor:

The war authorization resolution, which John Kerry voted for, gave the president authority to use military force if he determined that other means were not adequate to defend United States national security and to enforce Security Council resolutions concerning Iraq ("Stumping Bush Calls Kerry a Reluctant Ally on Iraq," news article, Aug. 11).

The president said he would choose war only as a last resort.

Millions of Americans who had deep reservations about the war hoped that a united front against Saddam Hussein might somehow make war unnecessary. President Bush chose war while weapons inspections held Saddam Hussein in check; before an international coalition agreed that it was necessary; with poor planning for the aftermath; and in the face of warnings that war could further empower extremists.

Mr. Kerry could put this question to Mr. Bush: "Mr. President, by going to war in the manner you did, do you believe that you honored the public trust?"

Todd Buchanan
Eldora, Colo., Aug. 12, 2004

To the Editor:

As one of the Democrats who hate the war, I fully support John Kerry's decision to give the president the authority to invade Iraq if Saddam Hussein failed to comply with United Nations resolutions ("For Now, Bush's Mocking Drowns Out Kerry's Nuanced Explanation of His War Vote,'' Political Memo, Aug. 12).

Without that power, the ultimatum to Saddam Hussein would have been meaningless.

President Bush's characterization of Mr. Kerry's position as "he now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq" is not only a flagrant misconstruing of that position, but it is also damaging to the public interest and is indicative of the president's inability to understand the issues.

Jason Delaney
Baltimore, Aug. 12, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "For Now, Bush's Mocking Drowns Out Kerry's Nuanced Explanation of His War Vote" (Political Memo, Aug. 12):

In response to President Bush's challenge, John Kerry should point out that insisting on simple yes or no answers to complex and grave issues is precisely what's wrong with this president.

Bold isn't always to be preferred to caution, or quick decisions to careful deliberation.

Jo Anne Ray
Lewistown, Mont., Aug. 12, 2004

And don't forget to read this.

U.S. Trade Gap Surges to a New Record

I don't know how much more good economic news we can take.

Wholesale prices edged up just 0.1 percent in July as a big drop in food costs offset the biggest increase in energy prices in six months while the nation's trade deficit soared to an all-time high in June.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the trade deficit surged to a $55.82 billion in June, a sharp 19.1 percent increase from a May imbalance of $46.88 billion.

Thursday, August 12


What's with the new Bush TV ads? Have you ever seen anything more disconnected, more ineffective, more creepy? What does he mean, "I can't imagine the great agony of a mom or a dad having to make the decision about which child to pick up first on September the 11th"? If he means, we all had a renewed awareness of the preciousness of life, of love, well I don't get it. The Sage and I have five kids, and we didn't wrestle with that question. We grabbed the closest and all at once, and added as the others showed up.

If he means a Sophie's Choice, as in which child would you save from death, ick. Who could think that posing such an unthinkable question would create anything but debilitizing fear in the intended audience.

Wow. What a leader. More and more, Bush seems like the Dark Side, and I don't mean it metaphorically. If he can persuade enough educated and wealthy people who think, like the German elite who thought they could "control Hitler," that he may be terrible and scary sometimes, but God help us, we can't elect Democrats just out of tradition and principle; if he can persuade enough just-barely-not-poor Southerners and residents of American's rural areas that they are more threatened by "Yankee elites" who want to make them the nation's spit-upon class while they elevate the n-word's above good-decent-God-fearing-people-like-me; if he can, through his proxies (I don't doubt that he would never countenance such moves; like a good mob boss, he will always just count on his loyal minions to "do what has to be done"), manipulate the electronic voting system in key states and/or precincts; then he will survive his own discreditable record as pResident and secure power for another four years.

God help us. And I know He will. The Repugs may have co-opted the religious right, but I'm religious left.

IRIN Web Special on child soldiers

IRIN Web Special on child soldiers

What would it feel like to know that our government was focused on ending tragedies such as this rather than moving swiftly past as though nothing were going on and no one needed their help? We may never know. Mercy, Father. Mercy.

Child soldier in Sierra Leone
Credit: IRIN

His comrades in the transit camp run by Save the Children-UK in Bunia, a town in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), called him 'Kadogo', which means "small" in Kiswahili. The name suited him for he was tiny, much too tiny, in fact, to be involved in anyone's war.

But at 12, Kadogo was already a veteran of a vicious bush war between ethnic militias in eastern DRC. So were his comrades at the transit camp, victims like him of a practice that has drawn widespread condemnation, including from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Dubbed "an illegal and morally reprehensible practice" by UNICEF, the use of children in violent conflicts continues in many war situations around the world.

The last few years have seen heightened interest in the problem at the highest level of the international community, and landmark developments to strengthen and broaden the scope of international measures to protect children from this scourge. For this reason, says Olara Otunnu, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict, we are now at "a watershed moment" when international attention can be coupled with new mechanisms and instruments to end impunity for those using child soldiers.

It is time over the next three years, according to Otunnu, "to switch from talking the talk to walking the walk … for a critical mass that could come together to change the behaviour of parties in conflict and prevent them getting away with abuse of children."

The nature of the problem

More than 500,000 children under-18 have been recruited into state and non-state armed groups in over 85 countries worldwide, according to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers []. At any one time, more than 300,000 of these children are actively fighting as soldiers with government armed forces or armed opposition groups worldwide, says the coalition.

Most child soldiers are between the ages of 15 and 18 years, but some are as young as seven. Most, but not all, soldiers under 15 years of age are believed to be part of non-state armed forces. Those children who are not fighters, are typically runners or scouts, porters, sex slaves, cooks or spies.

The recruitment and use of children for combat is outlawed by various measures of international human rights law, humanitarian law, labour law and criminal law but a chasm exists between these standards and their application.

Most observers agree that the practice continues because children make for cheap and obedient fighters, and are easier - because of their youth and inexperience - to mould into effective and expendable combatants. In some areas subject to persistent violent conflict, there is a shortage of "eligible men" so belligerents widen the recruitment base by using girls and boys, some observers say. The proliferation of light weaponry has also fed into the problem, making it possible for very young children to bear and use arms, others add.

But all agree that the most obvious reason armed forces take on children as soldiers is because they can. Despite the regulations outlawing the practice, little effective action has been taken against those who violate the conventions and international agreements.

Child soldiers are often abducted from their homes, schools or communities and forced into combat, whether by government forces, rebel groups or paramilitary militias. Sometimes they are accepted as 'volunteers', although UNICEF makes the point that few children who join armies are really 'volunteers': minors who are forced to fight are often poor, illiterate and from rural or otherwise marginalised communities. In such circumstances, signing up with fighting groups may seem more attractive than the dismal alternatives.

Zaralam, a 14-year-old military policeman near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, told IRIN that life was tough but that he had had to join the "army" to earn some money for his family. He is one of at least 8,000 children believed to be under arms in Afghanistan, many in the pay of regional warlords.

Even a little education, vocational training - and therefore opportunity - can make children more independent and less susceptible to military recruitment, according to UNICEF. Propaganda and ideological 'brainwashing' can also lure children into the ranks of armed forces.

In conflict situations, orphans whose parents have been killed or have disappeared are particularly vulnerable to coercion or volunteering for service as child soldiers.

Among other things, protection involves developing strategies to make children less vulnerable to military recruitment, and identifying non-violent ways for them to contribute to their families and communities. Resources and capacity are particularly needed to extend education and vocational training, as well as to revive agriculture and provide other economic opportunities, according to the UN.

"Unless children demobilised from armies are given alternatives to soldiering, they are likely to be recruited again into armed groups," Graca Machel, an expert on children in armed conflict, noted in a September 2000 report on The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.


Daily Howler today finds the perfect sound-byte-size responses to Kerry's two greatest vulnerabilities IN THE UNLIKELIEST PLACES.

(1) Kerry's vote on the Iraq "war resolution."

On Tuesday, Bush was out playing the rubes, pretending that Kerry had said things he didn’t on Monday. Indeed, Brit Hume just flat-out said so, chatting last night with the all-stars:

BUSH (shown on videotape): [Kerry] now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq. Knowing everything we know today, he would have voted to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. I want to thank Senator Kerry for clearing that up.

HUME (8/11/04): Well that line got a big cheer, as you saw yesterday when the president said it. But what Senator Kerry has said is not quite as the president has characterized it...Basically what Kerry has said, correct me if I'm wrong, is, Look, I would have wanted the authority if I'd been president. That's why I voted to grant this authority to go to war to the president...But he said he would have used it differently. He would have used it to as more of a lever for diplomacy. He would have used it to bring more allies aboard. He would have used it to as a threat behind inspections, to leave them going longer.[emphasis mine]

(2) Kerry's vote on the $87 billion war-funding bill.

On Monday, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer seemed deeply kerflubbled by something Kerry rep Susan Rice said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/11/04). Rice mentioned a notable fact. Bush constantly trashes Kerry for voting against that $87 billion funding bill—the one the Congress passed last October. But six days after Kerry’s “no” vote, Bush began threatening to veto the bill! Had Kerry failed “to support the troops” by his vote? Bush was willing to veto the very same money! ...Last October, Blitzer interviewed Colin Powell—nine days after Kerry voted “no” on a form of the bill he didn’t like. But by now, Bush was saying he’d veto the bill if it passed in a form which he disfavored. In particular, Bush said he would veto the bill if its $20 billion in reconstruction money was made in the form of loans, not grants. [emphasis mine] And Blitzer knew all about the threat. Indeed, he asked Powell about it:

BLITZER (10/26/03): As you know, the Senate wants half of that $20 billion to be in the form of loans, half in grants. The House says all of it should be in the form of outright grants. The president is threatening to veto the entire $87 billion unless all of that $20 billion is a grant. Is that a hard-and-fast position, as the House and Senate conferees resolve this issue?

POWELL: Yes, it is. The president feels very strongly that it should be a grant. We need to get this country up and running quickly. And I was quite taken, at the Madrid conference I attended, where the U.N. representative, Mark Malloch Brown, from the U.N. Development Program, said it should be a grant. We need this infusion of dollars as we structure, over a longer period of time, the influx of grants and loans on a long-term basis.
Bush’s threat was “hard-and fast,” Powell said! If the bill was passed with loans, Bush was going to kill it.

Let’s say it again: There was nothing wrong with Bush’s preference for grants. There was nothing wrong with his veto threat, either. But there is something wrong with Bush’s dissembling when he goes out on the campaign trail. Bush trashes Kerry, every day, for voting against one form of this bill. “There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops,” Bush says. But alas! This statement is plainly fake, given Bush’s own veto threat. Given the way Bush keeps pounding this point, is it time for Wolf Blitzer to notice?

Final note: “We need to get [Iraq] up and running quickly,” Powell said. That’s why Bush insisted the money should be in grants. But a year has gone by, and almost none of this money has been spent. Any chance that Kerry (and others) were right when they said they wanted a plan before they gave Bush the $20 billion? And now that he knows the facts once again, can someone explain why Blitzer himself shouldn’t be asking this question?

Memorize the bolded portions and spread the word!

Wednesday, August 11

Las Vegas SUN: Former GOP Sen. Hecht owes life to Democratic candidate Kerry

Las Vegas SUN: Former GOP Sen. Hecht owes life to Democratic candidate Kerry

Former GOP Sen. Hecht owes life to Democratic candidate Kerry

By Kirsten Searer


Former U.S. Sen. Chic Hecht of Nevada is a staunch Republican, but he thanks his lucky stars for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

On July 12, 1988, Hecht was attending a weekly Republican luncheon when a piece of apple lodged firmly in his throat.

Hecht stumbled out of the room, thinking he might vomit but not wanting to do it in front of his colleagues. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., thumped his back, but Hecht quickly passed out in the hallway.

Just then, Kerry stepped off an elevator, rushed to Hecht's side and gave him the Heimlich maneuver -- four times.

The lifesaving incident made international news, and Dr. Henry Heimlich, who invented the maneuver in 1974, called Hecht to say that had Kerry intervened just 30 seconds later Hecht might have been in a vegetative state for life.

"This man gave me my life," the 75-year-old Hecht said Thursday.

Hecht said he was amazed that Kerry acted so quickly -- some people were assuming that he was having a heart attack.

"He knew exactly what to do," he said. "But a lot of people know what to do. They just don't size up the situation immediately."

The story has a twist of irony: Hecht was up for re-election that year, and Kerry, who was serving as the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, had pegged Hecht as one of the most vulnerable Republican seats.

Indeed, the Democratic nominee for Hecht's seat, then-Gov. Richard Bryan, beat Hecht, who served just one term in office.

"Only in America can this happen, where he's working against me to get me defeated and then saves my life," Hecht said.

Hecht, who prides himself on having one of the most conservative records on the books during his six years in the Senate, said he and his wife, Gail, see politics as "a secondary issue" when it comes to Kerry.

"We've had a wonderful life, and it would have all been down the tubes," said Hecht, who is about to celebrate his 45th wedding anniversary with his wife.

Every year the Hechts call Kerry's longtime personal secretary, who tracks down Kerry wherever he is.

Then they recount some of their experiences in the last year. Hecht and his wife thank Kerry for thinking so quickly in the Senate halls that day. And Kerry tells them that their phone call is one of his favorites of the year.

"He's so nice and appreciative," Hecht said.

This year Kerry was taking a day's vacation from campaigning, and he told them that he thought his campaign was finally gaining momentum.

Some of the Hechts hope so. Both of Hecht's daughters have attended Kerry events, and Gail Hecht hopes to travel to California the next time Kerry is there to voice her support, Hecht said.

Still, Hecht points out that he and Gail have given the maximum possible contribution to President Bush's campaign ($2,000 each). Hecht, a longtime businessman and banker, served as President George H.W. Bush's ambassador to the Bahamas.

Soon after the Iowa caucuses, a former Los Angeles county deputy sheriff and Republican Jim Rassmann stood with Kerry at an event to tell the story of when Kerry saved his life in the jungles of Vietnam.

Rassmann, a Green Beret, was ambushed along Bay Hap river, but Kerry, who also had been injured in the attack, grabbed Rassmann's arm and pulled him to safety, according to Kerry's website.

On Wednesday, Roll Call wrote a story about Hecht's incident. So far, Kerry hasn't asked Hecht to appear at a campaign event, but Hecht said he would if he were asked.

Hecht won't, however, say who he would vote for in November if Kerry wins the Democratic nomination.

"Only the Good Lord and myself will know how I'm going to vote," he said.


It's been bothering me a lot lately that it's "all terra all the time." This constant state of fear that BushCo uses so effectively to advance their agenda and win elections, and our response to it, are going to haunt us in future years, and we're witnessing the fallout even now. Our losses are already considerable -- nearly 1,000 American lives, civil liberties, trust of our leaders, confidence in our future, the world's admiration and respect. We've even lost that wonderful God's-in-His-Heaven-all's-right-with-the-world feeling as the fam heads off to DisneyWorld or the Big Game -- we have to have a discussion on whether or not it's "safe" to go to large public assemblies.

Yesterday I actually heard a Dallas talk-radio host advising his listeners to pack guns and blow away any suspicious-acting Middle Eastern males. His name is Darrell Ankarlo, and although he's your usual wingnut yahoo, he's not Michael Savage. To be fair and balanced, I have to tell you that he stressed that he's not advocating we all become vigilantes, oh no! He's definitely going to cooperate with the authorities while he's blowing a hole through some guy's forehead. He just doesn't believe (and it appears that his callers agree) we can afford to wait to find out if that weird-looking briefcase is really a bomb, so we have to take action. Is this what Bush-Cheney have brought us to?

When I was a little girl growing up in Florida between two strategically important military bases, the Cuban missile crisis scared us to death for a couple of weeks. My mother bought tons of canned food and water jugs and hid them in the "dirty clothes closet" (don't ask). One day (still during the crisis) I noticed she'd moved it all into the kitchen. When I asked why she replied, "Oh you know, I just got to thinking. What if we WERE bombed and a neighbor came begging at the door. Was I going to lie and say we didn't have any food? Of course not. So I didn't see any point in hiding it. I just couldn't live that way. If the bombs fall, I'd rather die with my neighbors."

Now THAT's a more American (and Christian!) attitude.

Holden at First points us to this:

To understand the nature of our domestic response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, we must understand the nature of government. Government naturally expands, and any crises – whether real or manufactured – serve to justify more and more government power over our lives. Bureaucrats have used the tragedy of 9/11 as an excuse to seize police powers sought for decades, such as warrantless searches, Internet monitoring, and access to bank records. It should be no surprise that the recently released report of the 9/11 Commission has but one central recommendation: bigger government and more spending at home and abroad.

Every new security measure represents another failure of the once-courageous American spirit. The more we change our lives, the more we obsess about terrorism, the more the terrorists have won. As commentator Lew Rockwell of the Ludwig von Mises Institute explains, terrorists in effect have been elevated by our response to 9/11: "They are running the country. They determine our civic life. They shape our private life. They decide how public resources are spent. They may dictate who gets to be the next president. It should be obvious that the government doesn't object. Not at all. The government benefits, by getting ever more reason for ever more money and power."

Every generation must resist the temptation to believe that it lives in the most dangerous time in American history. The threat of Islamic terrorism is real, but it is not the greatest danger ever faced by our nation. This is not to dismiss the threat of terrorism, but rather to put it in perspective. Those who seek to whip the nation into a frenzy of fear do a disservice to a country that expelled the British, fought two world wars, and stared down the Soviet empire.

Liberty is lost through complacency and a subservient mindset. When we accept or even welcome automobile checkpoints, random searches, mandatory identification cards, and paramilitary police in our streets, we have lost a vital part of our American heritage. America was born of protest, revolution, and mistrust of government. Subservient societies neither maintain nor deserve freedom for long.


Demagogue catches MSNBC admitting they only have ONE opinion show (Scarborough Country), and it's anchored by a Republican ("What's my dead secretary doing in my office?"), Joe Scarborough.


Okay, I'm listening to talk radio yesterday on my commute home and I hear not one, not two, but three yahoo hosts assert that the reason the Swift Vets attack is fair is because John Kerry made his military service a rationale for electing him presdent. Also, they said lying demonstrates poor character, so we've just GOT to know if he lied about being in Cambodia Christmas 1968.

If that's the case, then it's perfectly fair for us to revive the point about W lying about watching the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Remember? He said he thought, "That's some bad pilot." We all know he didn't watch it because NO ONE SAW THAT LIVE -- the film wasn't available until the evening. It's a fair issue to bring up because Bush has made his handling of 9/11 and the war on terra a rationale for electing him president. And lying demonstrates poor character, so we've just GOT to know if he lied about playing varsity rugby at Yale.

UPDATE: Atrios points us to a great photo and story on This Modern World: George W. Bush sucker-punches a rugby opponent at Yale.

UPDATE:Kevin Drum (formerly CalPundit and now The Political Animal) has a good post about the Christmas in Cambodia thing.

Tuesday, August 10

Spies Like Goss

Who's the enemy?If Porter Goss becomes the next CIA director (a big if, by the way), two predictions can be made with confidence. First, to the extent possible, he will return the agency's clandestine branch to its adventurous, gun-toting days of yore. Second, he will be ruthlessly loyal to George W. Bush.

This morning, President Bush named Goss to succeed George Tenet as the nation's spymaster, and the appointment seems logical on several counts.

Goss, who has been the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for the past eight years, was himself a CIA spy from 1962-71, stationed in Miami during the Cuban missile crisis, then in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Western Europe.

At least as pertinent from the vantage of the White House, he has been a fierce combatant in the battle against Democratic critics of the Bush administration.

Last June, when John Kerry gave what was heralded as a major speech on national security issues, the Bush-Cheney campaign tapped Goss to write the official critique. "John Kerry's speech today," Goss wrote in a fusillade that appeared on Bush's Web site, "amounted to little more than political 'me-tooism.' " He added that Kerry "neglected the president's historic achievements" and "remarkable progress" while at the same time embracing "the goals that the president has already laid to make the world a safer place."

Goss also came to Bush's aid a few months earlier, during the Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame scandal. One would think that a former CIA spy might be appalled by reports that a White House official had publicly exposed the identity of an undercover agent, especially as an act of political retaliation against the agent's spouse. The blatant politicization of intelligence is, or should be, anathema to any professional spy—or prospective CIA director.

But Goss waved off the whole business. In an interview with his hometown paper, the Herald-Tribune of southwestern Florida, Goss said the uproar was the result of "wild and unsubstantiated allegations, which are being obviously piled on by partisan politicians during an election year." There was no need to mount an investigation, he said, because there was no evidence of "willful disclosure" (though how he reached that conclusion without an investigation, he didn't say). Then, in a jab against Bush's favorite target, Bill Clinton, Goss cracked, "Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation."

It is for such reasons, perhaps, that John D. Rockefeller IV, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has described Goss to his aides as "too political" to be placed in charge of the CIA.

That Senate committee would have to confirm Goss' nomination before he could take the job. And here's where the picture gets strange. It is extremely doubtful at this late date that the committee would—or physically could—hold confirmation hearings before the November election. Even if hearings were somehow rushed (say, for "national security" reasons), and if Goss won the vote, he would be essentially powerless at least for a while: Any big changes he might order would be ignored until after the election, because everyone at Langley would know that Goss would get the boot if Kerry won.

Finish the article here: Spies Like Goss - How much of a hack is Bush's CIA nominee? By Fred Kaplan It only gets better...meaning worse.


Old smear campaigns never die, and sometimes they just won't fade away...CNN is reporting that three south Florida House Republicans are doing their best to link Teresa Heinz Kerry to Fidel Castro. This is part of an old campaign to link Heinz Kerry's philanthropic activities to every imaginable objectionable group, and been thoroughly debunked.

Meanwhile in Miami, three Republican members -- Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, his brother Mario and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- will charge that Teresa Kerry's foundation has "connections" to and has helped finance "Fidel Castro's Internet network."

A Diaz-Balart spokeswoman would not elaborate, but she did say it involved the Heinz Endowments' financial ties to a group called the Tides Center and the Tides Foundation.

There is a financial connection between the Heinz Endowments and the Tides organization, and between the Tides organization and an Internet project based in Cuba. But the connection between the Heinz Endowments and the Cuban project is very tenuous.

The Heinz Endowments have issued approximately $8.1 million in grants in the last 10 years to the Tides organization, a San Francisco-based group that funds a variety of socially progressive environmental, economic and social justice projects.

About $230,000 was issued to the Tides Foundation between 1994 and 1998 and the remainder issued to the Tides Center. All grants were issued for environmental and economic development projects in western Pennsylvania, where THK has spent much of her adult life. The Heinz Endowments money was specifically earmarked for these projects.

One organization that also hired the Tides Center to manage its financial and administrative affairs is the Institute for Global Communications (IGC), which promotes "peace and social and economic justice" around the world by helping countries develop Internet and computer networks. IGC says it has had projects in the former Soviet Union, Nicaragua, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina, among others.

It also once had a project in Cuba which involved helping the island nation establish an Internet connection. IGC has another connection to the Tides organization: It received $13,000 in grants from the Tides Foundation between 1993 and 2002 for general support, but not specifically for the Cuba project.

"I seriously doubt that any money from Teresa Heinz Kerry or the Heinz Endowment would have gone to this [Cuba] project," said IGC Director Mark Graham told CNN. "I wish that were the case. We could have used the money."

"In recent weeks, the Heinz Endowments has been accused of using its funding of the Tides Center of Western Pennsylvania to advance a laundry list of partisan causes and fringe political groups. This accusation is simply wrong," Maxwell King, president of the Heinz Endowments, said in a written statement.

I suppose this article in Canada Free Press (yes, even Canada has wingnuts) contributed to this latest absurd attack.


For those who don't subscribe to the WSJ, here's Jim Rassmann's opinion in full:

I came to know Lt. John Kerry during the spring of 1969. He and his swift boat crew assisted in inserting our Special Forces team and our Chinese Nung soldiers into operational sites in the Cau Mau Peninsula of South Vietnam. I worked with him on many operations and saw firsthand his leadership, courage and decision-making ability under fire.

On March 13, 1969, John Kerry's courage and leadership saved my life.

While returning from a SEA LORDS operation along the Bay Hap River, a mine detonated under another swift boat. Machine-gun fire erupted from both banks of the river, and a second explosion followed moments later. The second blast blew me off John's swift boat, PCF-94, throwing me into the river. Fearing that the other boats would run me over, I swam to the bottom of the river and stayed there as long as I could hold my breath.

When I surfaced, all the swift boats had left, and I was alone taking fire from both banks. To avoid the incoming fire, I repeatedly swam under water as long as I could hold my breath, attempting to make it to the north bank of the river. I thought I would die right there. The odds were against me avoiding the incoming fire and, even if I made it out of the river, I thought I'd be captured and executed. Kerry must have seen me in the water and directed his driver, Del Sandusky, to turn the boat around. Kerry's boat ran up to me in the water, bow on, and I was able to climb up a cargo net to the lip of the deck. But, because I was nearly upside down, I couldn't make it over the edge of the deck. This left me hanging out in the open, a perfect target. John, already wounded by the explosion that threw me off his boat, came out onto the bow, exposing himself to the fire directed at us from the jungle, and pulled me aboard.

For this actions that day, I recommended John for the Silver Star, our country's third highest award for bravery under fire. I learned only this past January that the Navy awarded John the Bronze Star with Combat V for his valor. The citation for this award, signed by the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam, Vice Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, read, "Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry's calmness, professionalism and great personal courage under fire werre in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service." To this day I am grateful to John Kerry for saving my life. And to this day I still believe that he deserved the Silver Star for his couragte.

It has been many years since I served in Vietnam. I returned home, got married, and spent many years as a deputy sheriff for Los Angeles County. I retired in 1989 as a lieutenant. It has been a long time since I left Vietnam, but I think often of the men who did not come home with us.

I am neither a politician nor an organizer. I am a retired police officer with a passion for orchids. Until January of this year, the only public presentations I made were about my orchid hobby. But in this presidential election, I had to speak out; I had to tell the American people about John Kerry, about his wisdom and courage, about his vision and leadership. I would trust John Kerry with my life, and I would entrust John Kerry with the well-being of our country.

Nobody asked me to join John's campaign. Why would they? I am a Republican, and for more than 30 years I have largely voted for Republicans. I volunteered for his campaign because I have seen John Kerry in the worst of conditions. I know his character. I've witnessed his bravery and leadership under fire. And I truly know he will be a great commander in chief.

Now, 35 years after the fact, some Republican-financed Swift Boat Veterans for Bush are suddenly lying about John Kerry's service in Vietnam; they are calling him a traitor because he spoke out against the Nixon administration's failed policies in Vietnam. Some of these Republican-sponsored veterans are the same ones who spoke out against John at the behest of the Nixon administration in 1971. But this time their attacks are more vicious, their lies cut dep and are directed not just at John Kerry, but at me and each of his crewmates as well. This hate-filled ad asserts that I was not under fire; it questions my words and Navy records. This smear campaign has been launched by people without decency, people who don't understand the bond of those who serve in combat.

As John McCain noted, the television ad aired by these veterans is "dishonest and dishonorable." Sen. McCain called on President Bush to condemn the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush ad. Regrettably, the president has ignored Sen. McCain's advice.

Does this strategy of attacking combat Vietnam veterans sound familiar? In 2000, a similar Republican smear campaign was launched against Sen. McCain. In fact, the very same communications group, Spaeth communications, that placed ads against John McCain in 2000 is involved in these vicious attacks against John Kerry. Texas Republican donors with close ties to George W. Bush and Karl Rove crafted this "dishonest and dishonorable" ad. Their new charges are false; their stories are fabricated, made up by people who did not serve with Kerry in Vietnam. They insult and defame all of us who served in Vietnam.

But when the noise and fog of their distortions and lies have cleared, a man who volunteered to serve his country, a man who showed up for duty when his country called, a man to whom the United States Navy awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts, will stand tall and proud. Ultimately, the American people will judge these Swift Boat Veterans for Bush and their accusations. Americans are tired of smear campaigns against those who volunteered to wear the uniform. Swift Boat Veterans for Bush should hang their heads in shame.

Mr. Rassmann, a retired lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, served with the U.S. Army 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam 1968-69.


The Smirking Chimp directs us to this tribute to some real national heroes. Read the whole thing. Excerpt:

While our president rushed us into an unnecessary war, many people around our nation worked to expose the truth about what was to come in Iraq--citizens of great character,and a deep love of our nation. It is a long, long list of citizens, some that have risked their careers, and even their lives, in order to tell the truth about the Bush Administration's catastrophic rush into war in the Middle East. Real Heroes.

Thank you, Scott Ritter--the weapons inspector who knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He looked in every nook and cranny of that country, and as one of Bush's own men, said there was nothing to be found. His own boss would not believe him.

Thank you, Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame: I'm sorry I even know your names--a husband/career diplomat married to a wife/CIA agent whose secret identity was carelessly and criminally released to the public, because her husband would not falsely report that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy the materials necessary to make phony nuclear weapons. Someone in the White House released her identity, and hopefully the truth will be told.


As long as we're talking about Paul Krugman...

So have we returned to prosperity? No: jobs are harder to find, by any measure, than they were at any point during Bill Clinton's second term. The job situation might have improved somewhat in the past year, but it's still not good.

Second, the apologists give numbers without context. President Bush boasts about 1.5 million new jobs over the past 11 months. Yet this was barely enough to keep up with population growth, and it's worse than any 11-month stretch during the Clinton years.

Third, they cherry-pick any good numbers they can find.

The shocking news that the economy added only 32,000 jobs in July comes from payroll data. Experts say what Alan Greenspan said in February: "Everything we've looked at suggests that it's the payroll data which are the series which you have to follow." Another measure of employment, from the household survey, fluctuates erratically; for example, it fell by 265,000 in February, a result nobody believes. Yet because July's household number was good, suddenly administration officials were telling reporters to look at that number, not the more reliable payroll data.

By the way, over the longer term all the available data tell the same story: the job situation deteriorated drastically between early 2001 and the summer of 2003, and has, at best, improved modestly since then.

Fourth, apologists try to shift the blame. Officials often claim, falsely, that the 2001 recession began under Bill Clinton, or at least that it was somehow his fault. But even if you attribute the eight-month recession that began in March 2001 to Mr. Clinton - a very dubious proposition - job loss during the recession wasn't exceptionally severe. The reason the employment picture looks so bad now is the unprecedented weakness of job growth in the subsequent recovery.

Nor is it plausible to continue attributing poor economic performance to terrorism, three years after 9/11. Bear in mind that in the 2002 Economic Report of the President, the administration's own economists predicted full recovery by 2004, with payroll employment rising to 138 million, 7 million more than the actual number.

Finally, many apologists have returned to that old standby: the claim that presidents don't control the economy. But that's not what the administration said when selling its tax policies. Last year's tax cut was officially named the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 - and administration economists provided a glowing projection of the job growth that would follow the bill's passage. That projection has, needless to say, proved to be wildly overoptimistic.

What we've just seen is as clear a test of trickledown economics as we're ever likely to get. Twice, in 2001 and in 2003, the administration insisted that a tax cut heavily tilted toward the affluent was just what the economy needed. Officials brushed aside pleas to give relief instead to lower- and middle-income families, who would be more likely to spend the money, and to cash-strapped state and local governments. Given the actual results - huge deficits, but minimal job growth - don't you wish the administration had listened to that advice?

Oh, and on a nonpolitical note: even before Friday's grim report on jobs, I was puzzled by Mr. Greenspan's eagerness to start raising interest rates. Now I don't understand his policy at all.


You can't make stuff like this up.

Bush criticized Kerry's plan to eliminate the tax cuts for those making more than $200,000 a year, saying that the "the rich in America happen to be the small business owners" who put people to work.

Bush also said high taxes on the rich are a failed strategy because "the really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."

UPDATE:Commenters at Daily Kos say the comment wasn't a gaffe -- it's part of Bush's regular stump speech! Aw c'mon...

UPDATE:Susan at Suburban Guerrilla asks the right question:

So, George. If the rich don't really pay any taxes, why would you think cutting their taxes would stimulate the economy?

And why aren't the members of the Corporate Press Corps asking this question?


Watched the great Paul Krugman-Bill O'Reilly rumble last night. It was hysterically funny, mostly because Bilious was so pleased with himself. He didn't even know what a fool he appeared to be! When they'd cut for commercials, Bill would be fatuously watching the monitor with a self-satisfied smile on his face.

Krugman was interesting to watch. He nearly always had a little private smile as if he were watching aliens dancing on the ceiling and while he didn't get it, he couldn't help being a little amused. Sometimes, though, his eyes would be as wide and round as an innocent cherub handcuffed to the devil -- he'd almost appear to be physically leaning away from O'Really as if not quite sure of his physical safety. He just plain outclassed O'Really, and I loved the line, "This is not your show, you can't turn my mike off."

Tim Russert, by the way, just let it play...he was obviously getting a charge out of it.

Score: a knockout for Krugman.

UPDATE:Daily Howler has more!

Monday, August 9

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO...

Fire Hazard:

Just when nuclear power plants need better protection from terrorist-triggered disasters and fires, the Bush administration is relaxing all the safeguards.

On June 16, the commission charged with investigating the events of September 11 announced that Al Qaeda's early attack plans had included "unidentified nuclear power plants." You might think the Bush Administration would respond by doing all it could to prevent a terrorist-triggered disaster at these plants.

Think again. The Bush Administration is actually relaxing the fire safeguards there.

Instead of insisting that the plants have heat-protected mechanical systems in place that will shut down reactors automatically in case of fire, which is the current standard, the Bush Administration would actually let the power companies rely on workers to run through the plants and try to turn off the reactors by hand while parts of the facilities are engulfed in flames.


I've been taking an informal poll amongst my more intelligent Republican friends (mostly co-workers) regarding why they support George Bush for President. They all know I'm a liberal Democrat, but not one has evidenced any anxiety or discomfort with the subject. At least not in the beginning.

I've played this like a straight interview, taking notes but not saying much. It's been a sort of stream-of-consciousness thing with them. The most interesting thing, is that it's almost identical from person to person. (I should explain that I spoke at length with people holding the following titles: CEO of a small internet company, VP-Corporate Development of a Fortune 250 company, SVP of the same company, CFO of same, VP-Communications of same, CEO of a small incentives company, Chairman of a different publicly held company). I respect these people not for their titles, but for their intellect and humanity.

Results: "I haven't absolutely decided to vote for Bush yet. There are a lot of things about his administration that bother me. But you know, it's kind of the devil you know. He's really decisive. And I'm not sure Kerry is. And you know, I always feel more comfortable with the Republicans running the economy. Except they've made some really bonehead moves lately. The deficit really bothers me. And all that religious stuff, that's weird and inappropriate. But I don't know about Kerry. He's so liberal. Democrats just like to throw money at things and make it tough to do business. And you know, the devil you know..." And they'd slink out kind of embarrassed because they hadn't anything better to say. Know what? To a man (two women), they every one came back sometime later to add something (also lame).

I have been so shocked and dismayed by the level of thinking here! These are people from "the best" business schools, who speak on "Kudlow and Cramer," "Neil Cavuto," "Power Lunch," and the like. They can read a balance sheet like I read a video script. If that's all that's tipping them towards Bush, then they're TIPPABLE. I encourage everyone to JUST SAY WHY? to their friends, neighbors and co-workers to GET THEM THINKING. As I've said before, GWB himself is our best campaign advantage.


Asked by James Carville today on Crossfire why there was no outcry about Keyes of Maryland running for Senator from Illinois when there was so much outrage when Hillary ran from New York, faux journalist Bob Novak replied, "Because Alan Keyes is a principled conservative and Hillary Clinton is an opportunist."

Taunted by Novak about the latest Democrat to convert to the Republican Party, Carville shot back, "Rodney Alexander [D-LA] was known as the stupidest Democrat in Washington, which should make him the smartest Republican."


The Nation argues that Bush's economic record would appear even worse if not for the housing bubble.


Sounds like the GOP's wish list for America. From "Bremer's 100 Orders" on

A sampling of the most important orders demonstrates the economic imprint left by the Bush administration: Order No. 39 allows for: (1) privatization of Iraq's 200 state-owned enterprises; (2) 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses; (3) "national treatment" - which means no preferences for local over foreign businesses; (4) unrestricted, tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds; and (5) 40-year ownership licenses.


Orders No. 57 and No. 77 ensure the implementation of the orders by placing U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector generals in every government ministry, with five-year terms and with sweeping authority over contracts, programs, employees and regulations.

Order No. 17 grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, full immunity from Iraq's laws. Even if they, say, kill someone or cause an environmental disaster, the injured party cannot turn to the Iraqi legal system. Rather, the charges must be brought to U.S. courts.

Order No. 40 allows foreign banks to purchase up to 50% of Iraqi banks.

Order No. 49 drops the tax rate on corporations from a high of 40% to a flat 15%. The income tax rate is also capped at 15%.

Order No. 12 (renewed on Feb. 24) suspends "all tariffs, customs duties, import taxes, licensing fees and similar surcharges for goods entering or leaving Iraq." This led to an immediate and dramatic inflow of cheap foreign consumer products - devastating local producers and sellers who were thoroughly unprepared to meet the challenge of their mammoth global competitors.


Send Susan some money. Suburban Guerrilla is such a great site, and Susan does a fantastic job with grace in the face of considerable adversity. So please send her some love and, yes, money -- especially you other female bloggers!


Stop it. Juan Cole confirms that the U.S. did, indeed, blow the cover of a double agent in current e-mail contact with an Al Qaeda cell:

The Bush administration revealed Khan's name to US journalists on Sunday August 1 on background, and it appeared in the US press on Monday. The Bush administration thus effectively outed Khan as a double agent (he sent emails to his London contacts as late as Monday).

The British MI5 was forced to have the London cell of 13 arrested immediately on Tuesday, fearing that they would flee now that they knew Khan had been arrested two weeks earlier. The British do not, however, appear to have finished gathering enough evidence to prosecute the 13 in the courts successfully.

It now turns out, according to Neville, that "Reports last week also claimed that five al Qaida militants were on the run in the UK after escaping capture in last Tuesday’s raids." If this is true, it is likely that the 5 went underground on hearing that Khan was in custody. That is, the loose lips of the Bush administration enabled them to flee arrest.
One of the 9, Abu Eisa al-Hindi, is a high al-Qaeda official also wanted by the US. Because Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan's identity was prematurely released, however, the British may not have enough evidence to extradite him.

WHY IS THIS STORY NOT ALL OVER THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA????? Is it just because it wasn't included in the daily Republican Talking Points memo?

UPDATE: Spencer Ackerman has more. I'm really almost paralyzed by this story. I thought I was pretty cynical, but this is such a clear example of acting against the interests of the American public as well as the world community in favor of short-term political gain, that it takes my breath away. It makes me want to snatch the flag out of their hands lest they foul it any further!


Washington Monthly has a great response to the question: Who polarized America?

It is a cliché to observe that the parties have drawn further apart, the center no longer holds, and partisans on both sides have withdrawn further into mutual loathing and ever more-homogenous and antagonistic groupings. Where the analysis goes wrong is in its assumption, either explicit or implicit, that both parties bear equal responsibility for this state of affairs. While partisanship may now be deeply entrenched among their voters and their elites, the truth is that the growing polarization of American politics results primarily from the growing radicalism of the Republican Party.

This is the sort of reality that most journalists know perfectly well to be true but cannot bring themselves to say, though this increased polarization drives them crazy.

I've been meaning to blog about this, but Digby beat me to it:

For assholes like the Fox Allstars who claim that Kerry only spent four months in Vietnam and that makes him a pussy, it should be known that while it is true he only spent four months getting shot at and saving lives and winning medals for bravery in swift boats -- he had previously done a full tour onboard the USS Gridley stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin. Swift boat duty was his second tour.


Ha! And don't forget to read #5. It has a copy of the endorsement form used by Bush-Cheney 04 to admit Republican-only ticket holders to New Mexico rallies:

What's interesting about the endorsement form is that clearly it was not just approved by the White House but drafted by George W. Bush himself. If you look closely at the copy below, you'll notice that the signatory must "herby endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States." Presumably the Bush-Cheney Victory Office then weeded out people who weren't real Bush supporters by gauging their reaction to this appalling use of the English language. "Notice anything wrong with the form sir? No? Very good, here are your tickets."


The next time some winger starts screeching about the INCIVILITY and OUTRAGEOUSNESS of Democratic and progressive charges of "lying" by BushCo, just remind them of this little Cheney "misstatement" during his Friday appearance in East Grand Forks, Minnesota:

And I think if I look at the views of George Bush, the way he operated as governor of Texas, the way he's operated since he became president, I contrast that with John Kerry, I just think there are basic, fundamental differences of opinion about how this society ought to operate. I'm trying to think how to be a statesman in terms of my comments here. I think there are just an awful lot more—I'm much more comfortable with the values and the ideas and the concepts that I find in the middle of the country than I am in what I find in Massachusetts, if I can put in those terms.


John Kerry is, by National Journal ratings, the most liberal member of the United States Senate. Ted Kennedy is the more conservative of the two senators from Massachusetts.


It's true. All you got to do is go look at the ratings systems. And that captures a lot, I think, in terms of somebody's philosophy. And it's not based on one vote, or one year, it's based on 20 years of service in the United States Senate. Perfectly legitimate view of the world, if that's the way he wants to view it. It's just that if I were to lay down my voting record, the ten years I was in the House, versus his, there’s not a lot of overlap.
[emphasis mine]

The Daily Howler has more:

That was the end of Cheney’s appearance. All the voters applauded the veep. Cheney had praised the president’s values. And then he had lied in their faces.

What had Cheney told these voters? He told them that Kerry is the most liberal member of the Senate. That’s based on National Journal ratings, he said. And it isn’t based on just one year—it’s based on twenty years of service! But Kerry isn’t the most liberal senator, as the Journal made expressly clear in March, when other people—people like Cheney—began using their data to mislead the voters. As we noted last week, Journal rankings show that ten current senators have more liberal lifetime records than Kerry. And yes, Ted Kennedy is one of the ten. Every claim that Cheney made was blatantly, baldly untrue.

Bernard Weiner: 'Bush's AWOL scandal: Let's break through the media barrier'

Bernard Weiner (link courtesy of Smirking Chimp) encourages progressives to get involved in getting the updated story of Bush's AWOL scandal into the mainstream media:

"When considered within their proper legal and policy context, the Bush records effectively rebut the White House claim that Bush 'fulfilled his duty.' When considered as a whole, these documents reveal that Bush spent the last two years of his six-year Military Service Obligation in an active effort to avoid fulfilling the obligations and commitments he incurred upon entering the Texas Air National Guard.

"They also show that while some Texas officials aided and abetted Bush's efforts (and others apparently acquiesced to what was happening), there is no reason to question the character of Alabama officials, or Air Reserve Forces personnel as a whole. Finally, the only conclusion that can be reached from an examination of Bush's records for the period after he quit the Air National Guard is that the Air Force attempted to take punitive measure against Bush, but that political pressure prevented those measures from being carried out."

Lawrence Korb -- who was Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Logistics under Reagan from 1981-85 -- appears to agree with the conclusion based on the key five-month period of Bush's service when there are no records that he reported for duty: "If you don't show up, you're absent without leave, by definition."
No money is being asked for here. You don't need to write a check to anybody in order to move this AWOL issue forward. All you need to do -- and it may well affect the outcome of this election, and thus the future of our country for the next decade -- is to devote an hour or so of your time, and some 37-cent stamps, in the service of your country.

William Rivers Pitt:

Two years after the talk began, the invasion is completed. There are no weapons of mass destruction, there is no connection to September 11, and the Iraqi people have in no way welcomed us as liberators. The cosmetic rationales for the attack have fallen by the wayside, and all that remains are the PNAC goals, some of which have been achieved in spectacularly profitable fashion.

    The stock in trade of Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root is the construction of permanent military bases. The Reuters reporter I spoke to had been to several KBR-built permanent American military bases in his six month tour of Iraq. "That's where the oil industry money is going," he told me. "Billions of dollars. Not to infrastructure, not to rebuilding the country, and not to helping the Iraqi people. It's going to KBR, to build those bases for the military."

    According to the Center for Public Integrity, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root has made $11,475,541,371 in Iraq as of July 1. So that's one PNAC goal checked off the list.

    As for the corporate takeover of the Iraqi oil industry, that has become the prime mission of the American soldiers engaged there. Kellogg Brown & Root also does a tidy business in the oil-infrastructure repair market. "The troops aren't hunting terrorists or building a country," said the Reuters photographer. "All they do is guard the convoys running north and south. The convoys north are carrying supplies and empty tankers for the oil fields around Mosul and Tikrit. The convoys south bring back what they pull out of the ground up there. That's where all these kids are getting killed. They get hit with IEDs while guarding these convoys, and all hell breaks loose."


Listening to the news, you'd think it's "all terror all the time." So I got to thinking: just what are the odds of an American being killed in a terrorist attack? Guess what -- they're less than they are for getting struck by lightning. So why is that all we seem to think about these days? Could it be that fear and uncertainty are BushCo's best -- and only -- campaign techniques? Fear paralyzes us, making us unwilling to challenge our "fearless" leaders, making us loathe to take on other problems and solve them. We can stand here and shake in our boots, knowing we've got a tough hombre who doesn't fear anything and will fight to protect us so we don't have to.

Don't pro-Bush voters realize what the pResident is doing? One minute he scares us to death, the next minute he pats us on the back for being fearless Amer'cuns who'll never give in and never give up. Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 made this point brilliantly -- Rove and Bush are deliberately keeping us unsettled because it's their one great advantage.

But it's starting to backfire. Bush campaign is crying wolf. Political analyst sees Kerry victory.

UPDATE: More on the subject here:

For George W. Bush's reign of fear, it was a fitting declaration. With his narcissistic strut, he tries to project strength. But how does a president project anything but weakness in having the world's greatest power tremble over evidence of file-updating by an enemy with a tiny fraction of his military capacity?

It's probably the response that Osama bin Laden and his network of savages would have desired. It's as if they're toying with the United States. They can be pictured in their caves or Saudi palaces, feet up, chuckling. "What American city should we petrify with a leaked document today? Chicago? Miami? Or need we even bother? It's been three years since 9/11, and they're still paranoid. They're right where we want 'em -- in an eternal state of fear."

Having handed the enemy its first gift by attacking a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, Mr. Bush now bestows on them a second: victory on the battlefield of psychological warfare. The President's terror alerts, whatever their motivation, are enough to do it. Osama bin Laden is like David, slingshot at the ready, in the center of the ring. His Goliath, George Bush, cowers in the corner, repeatedly sending out warnings to his people to run for cover.

Ernest Hemingway defined courage, rather incompletely, as grace under pressure. Mr. Bush demonstrates something approaching the opposite. History tells us that the last thing strong leaders do is send a signal that their side is frightened. Can anyone imagine a Churchill or Napoleon demonstrating this kind of fear over documents that spell out no plot but that -- O heavens! -- have been updated?

Sunday, August 8

"Where the Bushes are concerned, liberals and conservatives should be on the same side."

Mahablog has a well-written essay on The Betrayal of Conservatism:

American conservatism has always been characterized by the desire to be able to make one's own choices, while at the same time limiting other people's choices.
On the other hand, America needs conservatism. As Mr. Byrk says,

American conservative politics championed private property, an institution sacred in itself and vital to the well-being of society. It favored limited government, balanced budgets, fiscal prudence and avoidance of foreign entanglements.  
It is a good thing to have people in government who respect property rights, who want to be tight with the people's money,  and who drag their feet about going to war. We could use more of such people right now. When both liberals are conservatives are true to their own principles, they balance each other. Liberals counter conservative tendencies to ignore injustice in favor of maintaining the status quo. Conservatives curb the tendency of liberals to rely too much on government programs to solve problems. Sometimes people do need to work things out themselves.
The problem with what passes for "conservatism" today is that it's reactionary.  The wingnuts care less about traditional conservative principles (younger wingnuts probably couldn't even tell you what those principles are) than about lashing back at liberals.  Liberals in their eyes are reckless people who will force Americans to respect multiculturalism and ecumenicalism and all progressivism since the McKinley Administration.
In other words, wingnuts have no principles of their own. They believe in whatever will stop social and civil progress, period, because they fear social and civil progress.  If they have to stomp out republicanism itself  itself to be safe from the hated and feared liberals, they will do so.
But it's important to remember that traditional conservatives, although we may disagree with them on many issues, are not the threat to our nation that the wingnuts and neocons and Bushies are. Where the Bushies are concerned, liberals and conservatives should be on the same side.

First Draft has a hilarious collection of pResident Bush's remarks to the Unity Conference.


The always-dead-on Digby has the goods on Sen. Richard Shelby's (R-AL) hypocrisy re leaking of classified informationhere.