Saturday, September 11

Skippy reminds us that "you can't spell GOSSIP without G-O-P."


Great New Yorker article about Al Gore today.


Just as I grew up with the question, "Where were you when JFK was assassinated?" our children will hear forever, "Where were you on 9/11?"

I was dressing for work (running late) and, as is my routine, listening to the news with one ear. My college-aged son came into my room to remind me that I had promised to give him a ride to class before going to the office, when we both were suddenly riveted by the news that a plane had flown right into the World Trade Center. Both of us threw ourselves down in front of the
TV for a few minutes and then realized that we had to get going. We turned on the radio in the car and listened to the news as we drove through Dallas morning traffic. We speculated almost immediately that it was a terrorist attack, and then suddenly the radio was telling us that reports were coming in that there'd been an explosion, or possibly another plane crash, in the vicinity of the Pentagon. That decided us -- America was under attack by terrorists.

After dropping Silmarill off, I raced for my company's Board Room, which has an enormous video projection system. I found there about a dozen of my coworkers, among them my CEO and most of the senior management team. Together we saw the second plane hit the WTC, then later watched in horror as the Towers began to collapse. Almost all of us had some personal connection to the events we were witnessing. My CEO's daughter, a CBS news producer, had an assignment that put her in the vicinity. My own daughter's Russian college friend, who had spent holidays with our family, was an investment banker officed in the WTC. Cantor Fitzgerald, which suffered such horrendous human losses that day, was our company's broker. Through our shock and our grief, a constant refrain was, "Where's the President?" Other questions included, "Why weren't the second and third planes shot down?" and "Is everybody in the government sleeping?" It wasn't until the next day that we'd all been able to account for the safety of all those we were concerned about.

The next few days are kind of a blur in my mind, a montage of images and events. People were kind to one another and briefly, our differences seemed not to matter so much as our common victimhood. My oldest daughter bought out the Army/Navy store's supply of gas masks and chemical suits (they're stored now in our garage in a box marked "End of the world gear"). My CEO gave instructions for us to set up a relief fund for the victims (the company ultimately contributed more than $1 million). People in the office (I'm famous for being a Democrat in an enclave of Republicans, and my dismay at Gore's loss was well known) started coming up to me and saying, "Now aren't you glad that Gore lost and Bush is president?" I didn't get that one. As far as I could see, Bush had done exactly nothing, so why should I be glad he was president? It was a bewildering experience; it was almost as if they thought the events of 9/11 had validated their vote.

On 9/12 and again on 9/14, I had to take a cab. On both occasions my driver was an Arab-American and both of them made a point of telling me how much they loved the USA and how committed they were to the American way of life. One of them went so far as to show me his mortgage papers -- he was in the process of buying a house. The other gave me a detailed account of his conversion to Christianity. I was both moved by their stories and saddened that they might think I'd object to an Arab driver unless he could prove his loyalty to things American. Being a bleeding-heart liberal, of course, it never crossed my mind.

I bought a window-mounted American flag for my car. I directed our art department to design a poster for our employees -- the final product was simple and masterful, a scene of the NYC skyline with the Twin Towers still standing superimposed over a waving American flag screened to a pale shade, and the words "--------- (company name) remembers." I wept and prayed for the families and took pride in the heroic and selfless actions of our firefighters, police, construction workers, medical professionals and volunteers.

My psychologist sister-in-law spent more than a month near Ground Zero offering free counseling services to the grieving.

I don't have any ennobling thoughts to illuminate the history of that day. It was a tragedy of gargantuan proportions. But tragedies of that nature bear more similarities than not. Could we feel worse than we did after the Oklahoma City bombing? How can you grieve more than completely?


Professor Cole should be required reading for the Defense Department.

Bin Laden's dream of a united Muslim state under a revived caliphate may well be impossible to accomplish. But with the secular Baath gone, it could be one step closer to reality. If you add to the equation the generalized hatred for US policies (both against the Palestinians and in Iraq) among Muslims, that is a major step forward for al-Qaeda. In Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda has emerged as a dissident political party. Before it had just been a small group of Bin Laden's personal acolytes in Afghanistan and a handful of other countries.

Oh, I do love Jeanne of Body and Soul:

Shorter Donald Rumsfeld:

Torture means chopping people's heads off. I didn't do that. Leave me alone.


AmericaBlog has more good news:

Bush's record on just about everything in Iraq is so soft I don't know why the Dem's are not more aggressive on the issue. How many of us have heard the wingnuts talk about how great the Iraqi forces have been now that we brought them into the fight? It looks as though yet another neocon theory is going down the drain and the people that we recently armed will soon be fighting against US troops. WE HAVE ARMED AND PAID THE OPPOSITION AND THEY WILL BE TRYING TO KILL US TROOPS. Since Dubya likes to say that he lets the military run operations, I would be interested in hear why exactly the military pulled back from Falluja in the past only to go back in now. Surely it wasn't a political move from above, was it? After all we know that Dubya does not like to interfere with military plans.

The Iraqi military force formed by the Marines in a last-ditch effort to pacify the restive city of Fallouja has been disbanded in the face of continuing violence, assaults on government security forces and evidence that some members have been working openly with insurgents.

"The Fallouja Brigade is done, over," said Marine Col. Jerry L. Durrant, who oversees the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit's involvement with Iraqi security forces. "The whole Fallouja Brigade thing was a fiasco. Initially it worked out OK, but it wasn't a good idea for very long."

Marines remain based as close as two miles from Fallouja, but the insurgents — local and foreign fighters backed by firebrand Sunni Muslim clerics — have had several months to dig in and make it more difficult for American troops or Iraqi government forces to launch a ground attack.

Judging by members' comments, it seemed likely that some would openly rejoin the insurgency, in which many had been involved before joining the brigade. In doing so, they would be able to fight with weapons provided to them by the Marines, who also paid them monthly salaries.

The brigade made no effort to restrict insurgent activities, members and the Marines said. Fallouja became even safer for insurgents, who could take refuge, plot attacks and run manufacturing centers for car bombs and other explosives.


You said it, chums:

"Looks like he used his daddy's pull to avoid the draft, then was derelict in his duty, and to top it all off, he even failed to show up for 5 months--AWOL from light, non-lethal, even fun, duty hotrodding around in a supersonic Jet wearing a sexy flightsuit (his official "report card" says he was not rateable because he was never around!!! ). Take it from someone (me) who has written nearly 50 of these reports, those are the words you use when rating a scofflaw). Black kids and Hispanic kids didn't get this kind of favor during Vietnam, and many white kids, too.

GWB's performance of his patriotic duty is a spit in the eye of America. For his shirking of his duty they shoulda court-martialed his ass or shipped him off to fight as an infantry grunt hauling the M60 machinegun or a mortar baseplate on the frontlines deep in the dark, hot, steamy, deadly jungles of the SE Asia theater, like they would have done to any black kid who was lucky enough to avoid combat by joining the National Guard and then going AWOL .

Thats what would have happened if I was in charge. That AWOL yellow-bellied coward sure talks tough talk, but he can't and didn't walk the walk. And my bet is that he woulda never made it anyhow. He probably would have cowered sniveling in his foxhole like most trash-talkers do. He woulda been a perfect candidate for what back then was known as "fragging!"

Bush and his spineless cronies (including that other never-served Karl Rove) got NO business talking about John Kerry's service or Kerry's valor under fire or Kerry's wounds of war. Or anybody's service in war for that matter. And that other yella-bellied draft-dodger, Cheney, with his unprecedented 5 military deferments, got no room either. In my book, both of them Cheney and Bush, are chickenhearted, yellow-bellied, silver-spoon-in-their-mouths, DRAFT-DODGERS, no better than those yellow-bellies who slinked off to Canada...Shameless trash-talking cowards, the both of them!
And how dare they get up on their bully pulpits and preachify about their PATRIOTISM and war records. They ran and sought refuge in the alternative to combat when called upon. Neither one is a Warrior. They ain't been, didn't go and don't know nothing about that stuff. They are just WARMONGERS who got no personal stake in the matter. For those folks with no stake in the matter, it's easy to talk all that tough nonsense. Those kinda folks with no personal stake are the most dangerous and reckless. And I find no merit in someone important going around saying things like "Bring it On" and posing in a flight suit goading on our enemies in war when we got solid Americans, boys and girls, over there doing their duty and getting seriously wounded or dying by the numbers. Nor do I find merit in our leadership camouflaging the horror of innocent civilian deaths by invoking the sterile impersonal phrase that "there is certain to be 'collateral damage'." What utter bullshit and it is no excuse.
(Courtesy of The Smirking Chimp)

A generation has passed, and approximately the same amount of time separates Iraq from Vietnam as separated Vietnam from Munich. Those two precedents define the paradox of intervention. Munich will forever exemplify the consequences of appeasement, but Vietnam serves as a reminder of the dangers of over-commitment.

Curiously, however, now that it has ascended to power, the generation that lived through Vietnam no longer seems to be influenced by it. President Bill Clinton was initially cautious about using military force. But by the end of his presidency he had initiated war in the Balkans. President Bush has been even more emphatic about the need to use military force. "In the new world we have entered," he argued in the September 2002 National Security Strategy, "the only path to peace and security is the path of action."

Yet for all his talk about sacrifice, Bush never served in Vietnam. He spent the war flying National Guard aircraft over Texas. "I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well placed ... managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units," Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote in his memoirs. "Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country." (Hat tip to Cato.)


Well, it's official. WE DIDN'T LEARN ANYTHING FROM THE VIETNAM WAR. Once again, if you criticize or even question the official government line, you're giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Taken to its logical end, such a view would have resulted in the Vietnam War never ending, tens of thousands of more troops dead or maimed, and the same goes for Iraq.

This particular conservative mantra -- America, right or wrong, love it or leave it -- bewilders me. Aren't conservatives supposed to be the champions of family values? Isn't it a core value that parents are to admonish and correct their children, while still loving them no matter what? I love my country with a fervor I'd put up against that of any chickenhawk. Yet my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I were perfectly willing to pull up stakes and flee to Canada if he got drafted (he applied for conscientious objector status but when the draft lottery awarded him a high number he withdrew his application so there'd be another spot for someone else) rather than participate in an unjust, feckless war not in America's short- or long-term interests. We saw no conflict with our patriotism -- we still loved our country, as we do now, but unlike our detractors, we also have FAITH in it, in our public institutions, and we knew then, as we know now, that nothing can defeat us except ourselves. Blind adherence to governmental policies not consistent with America's values is not love, it's partisan politics.


Stumbled into the middle of a fascinating Hardball last night. Chris Matthews had a panel of 9/11 commissioners on the show to discuss how they conducted their work, their findings of fact, and their conclusions. When Chris asked why they didn't name names, point the finger of blame at specific people, the panel's explanation was that that wasn't their job -- "it's the president's." Consensus was that "the buck stops there" (Richard Ben Veniste chortled, "Harry Truman is looking better all the time, isn't he?"). They agreed that yes, it is pretty unbelievable that no one has lost his/her job or faced any adverse consequences for their non-performance in the disaster. It was the 9/11 families, they said, who really wanted to name names and take prisoners, but when it was explained to them that only a unanimous, bipartisan report would bring about the changes that the families want to see happen, the families "pivoted."

When reporting on their "conversation" with Bush and Cheney, one of the panel (I think it was Slade Gorton) pointed out that Bush started off well by graciously stating that he didn't agree with Ashcroft's attack on Jamie Gorelick and had expressed his displeasure with "the Justice Department" (why didn't he just say "Ashcroft"?). Tweety jokingly pointed out that that seems to be Bush's standard method -- apologize for what terrible things others have said and assert, "I don't agree with them."

Friday, September 10


One quick comment on the Killian family disputing the CBS-revealed documents of their father and husband.

Beyond that, surviving relatives of Bush's then commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, the author of the purported documents, insist they are fake. They say Killian always believed Bush was an excellent pilot and that he never wrote these documents. Killian died in 1984. Link here.

When GWB was training as a pilot he received mid-level evaluations and even some praise as a natural pilot. But he gave up flying amazingly soon after a $1 million government investment in his training, before TANG could really benefit from his service. A dedicated military man like Jerry Killian is reputed to be could never have countenanced such a cavalier attitude toward his commitment. So why would he be telling his family that GWB was an "excellent pilot?" And Killian's unit was so full of impressive "names," including Dallas Cowboy football players, why would he single out GWB, whose father was a lowly Congressman at that time? Even if he did, his praise was so ebullient that his family has never forgotten how much he admired him? Let's not forget, GWB at this time in his life was constantly missing drill, getting drunk (and/or loaded on cocaine), bragging about his party-going -- does this sound like the kind of pilot that a sound, dedicated commander like Jerry Killian would ADMIRE so much that his family would never forget this one young trainee among thousands of others?

No, I don't believe it. Killian's own commander has vouched that the memos sound consistent with what Killian had expressed to him at THE TIME.

UPDATE: Salon has a good summary of the Killian memos/forged documents/Bush AWOL story:

As for the memos in which Killian complained about the pressure he was getting from his superiors to "sugarcoat" Bush's spotty service record, Killian's superior told CBS producers that Killian had made similar contemporaneous statements to him in the early 1970s, according to the Washington Post.

The forgery flap has created a firestorm among mainstream media, but it is merely a sideshow in the larger National Guard controversy. The disputed Killian documents represent just a fraction of what is known about Bush's Guard duty. To date, the voluminous information about the issue comes from Bush's own Texas Guard file, none of which has been called into question. And in fact, the veracity of the contents of the Killian memos remains undisputed. For instance, one memo dated May 4, 1972, ordered Bush to obtain a physical exam. There has been no controversy whatsoever about the fact that Bush was required to take a physical that year and failed to do so.

In April 1972, with 770 days left in his military commitment, and unwilling to have his physical, Bush was suspended from flying and walked away from his required duties. Though he says he subsequently served in the Guard in Alabama, Salon reported last week that according to an eyewitness, Linda Allison, a Bush family friend whose husband was in charge of overseeing Bush's activities in Alabama, Bush never gave any evidence of having done any Guard duty. This week, the Boston Globe reported that after leaving the Texas Air National Guard in 1973 to attend Harvard Business School, Bush again shirked his responsibility by failing to serve the remaining nine months of his commitment with a Massachusetts Guard unit. And to this day, not one member of Bush's Alabama unit has come forward with a credible recollection of having served with the future president. Whether or not the Killian memos turn out to be forgeries, those facts are irrefutable.


Just heard Bob Barnes' daughter Amy explaining to radio talk host Gary MacNamara why she called a Dallas talk radio station to claim her father lied about getting George W. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard. I was not impressed.

Amy (I didn't catch her last name) told how she just "fell in love" with Ronald Reagan in 1980 when she was 18 and voting for the first time. It was because of Reagan, she said, that she became a conservative.

When MacNamara asked why she came forward to say that her father had lied, he suggested some answers: was it personal, because she felt his lie was wrong? No, Amy accused her father of lying to the whole world (even though he's been telling the same story so long, and under oath, that the Bushes sent him a thank-you note in 2000 for being honest enough to say that although he DID get GWB in the "champagne unit," he was never contacted directly about it by any Bush family member -- it was a Bush family friend that made the request) because "I want to do anything I can to help George W. Bush get re-elected; I think he deserves it." She elaborated by saying that she volunteered for the Bush-Cheney campaign but hadn't been contacted, but she'd be glad to do anything she could do. Her father was motivated by partisan politics to say what he did -- (but she's motivated by "love"?)

The interview closed with MacNamara commiserating with her about the awful 36 hours she's had to endure since her public pronouncement. Amy confessed that if she'd known how it would be, she probably wouldn't have done it. MacNamara asked if that was because she's worried about it messing up her relationship with her father. Oh no, she hopes that won't happen because she loves and admires her father. It's because it's raised such a fuss or some such lame reason.

So we have it straight from the accuser: it's all about partisan politics. Little Amy loves George Bush so much that he's worth a family schism and branding her father a liar. "Somebody please explain it to me like I'm a fourth grader" -- where does this devotion come from, for a man who never did anything for anybody that cost him anything?

UPDATE: Here's the link to Amy Barnes' initial call-in to WBAP in Dallas.


Oh goody. George is getting so cocky he's got MSNBC (who'd-a thunk it!) actually correcting his lies:

In a harsh new attack on rival John Kerry, President Bush said Friday that if the Democratic presidential candidate “had his way,” Saddam Hussein’s regime would be running Iraq and threatening the safety of other nations.

In response to what it described as “George Bush’s distortions,” the Kerry campaign said, “Dick Cheney crossed the line earlier this week, so it’s no shock that George Bush is following his lead today.” Cheney had remarked that “the wrong choice” by voters could lead to another attack by terrorists.
“The newest wrinkle is that Sen. Kerry has now decided we are spending too much money in Iraq even though he criticized us earlier for not spending enough,” Bush said. “One thing about Sen. Kerry’s position is clear ... if he had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power and would still be a threat to our security and to the world.”

Kerry has not chided Bush for spending too much money on the war but has criticized the president for engaging in “a war of choice” without obtaining more financial support from allies.
[emphasis mine] The war has cost nearly $200 billion that, according to Kerry, could have been used for domestic programs.

At a question-and-answer event in Portsmouth, Ohio, where the unemployment rate this year has hit double digits, a Bush supporter told the president that Kerry attended “the school of flip flops.” Bush said that Kerry and running mate John Edwards were among only four senators who voted yes to “use force but ’no’ when it comes to funding the troops.”

Kerry has said he voted for the $87 billion appropriation for the war when it was to be paid with revenues from rollbacks on some of Bush’s tax cuts. When the Republican-controlled Senate rejected that version, Kerry and Edwards voted against it.


More and more I'm becoming convinced that many, many of those voters declaring themselves "undecided" are really Kerry supporters who can't bring themselves to confess it. Every single day at work, at lunch, even in my personal life, I keep talking to people who clearly don't have a reason to back Bush other than the fact that he's nominally a Republican and they're of the same party registration. But they don't offer any positives about the man other than his charisma -- and few intelligent, decent, patriotic, educated people, I have to believe, will vote for a man solely on the basis of his personality! I'm a very vocal progressive, and everyone who meets me finds that out in the first five minutes of our conversation. These people are FASCINATED to meet a "real-live Democrat" and eager to talk about the upcoming election. What they're NOT eager to talk about is George W. Bush. No, they want to talk about Kerry. They talk about what bothers them (flip-flopping is the usual bag), but they're not overly negative and the relief they express at being able to be candid (I presume they're not with their Repug cronies) about their doubts about Bush is impressive.

These people -- all business executives, except family members -- are reluctant to embrace Kerry, but I know them well enough to read the signs: either they'll vote for Kerry or they won't vote at all.

Either way, John Kerry wins.

BTW, I've lived in Texas for 20 years and have even met Georgie when he was Governor, and I'm completely unaffected by the "charm" so many describe.

UPDATE: Then again, maybe I'm wrong. Read this post by Digby.


A reader requested this repost:

This fear thing puzzles me. The Christian right, which is overwhelmingly Republican, swoons with rapture as Bush and Cheney pour a thick coat of fear over everything they say and do. Listening to talk radio, the verbal diarrhea of professing Christians Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck et al is full of screeds about us Democrats "not getting it" because we don't act or sound fearful enough. This morning Darrell Ankarlo and Laura Ingraham played tape of Russian children relating their experiences in the school held hostage by Chechen rebels and kept reminding listeners that these are evil people who can't be negotiated with, as if the Democrats would disagree! (After all, it was the Bush administration that cautioned Putin not to get carried away, that a diplomatic solution to his problem was necessary.)

The thing that puzzles me is that Christians are not SUPPOSED to live in fear. We're told repeatedly in The Bible that God is our refuge and our defender -- "in whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 23) As a devout Christian, I refuse to walk and cower in fear even in the face of my enemies. THAT's the American way too. Americans AREN'T all cowboys, but we do have a history and culture that supports determination, but also confidence, in the face of the gravest and most serious of challenges. This overwhelming fear that the Republicans are fostering among the citizenry is not only anti-American, it's anti-Christian, and Democrats need to be reminding our fellow citizens of this loudly and strongly.

Look, people, Hitler, Tojo, and the Soviets had a lot more powerful weapons (and delivery systems!) than do the international terrorists, plus they had a much more plausible chance to actually TAKE OVER our country, and we didn't cower then. We stood up to them and our cause was won, and while we were doing it we actually LIVED OUR LIVES without trembling.

Awareness, yes. Defiance, yes. Determination, yes. Readiness to sacrifice, yes. These are all proper responses to the threats currently facing us. Fear and trembling, no! "They wouldn't bend, they wouldn't bow, they wouldn't burn," the old song relates the tale of Daniel's friends in the fiery furnace. They trusted God, as did Daniel when he was in the lion's den, to preserve their lives and safety. Defiant they were. Aware of the horrific nature of the threat to them, they were. Determined to obey their God rather than bend their knee to a false god they were. And, being human, they might have suffered a few pangs of fear -- but they didn't show it to the enemy. They were saved by their faith in their God and the righteousness of His cause.

Where's your faith, Christian right? Has it been suffocated by your fear? Or is it that you doubt the righteousness of your cause?

UPDATE: The Bush campaign's TV commercial if he was running against Jesus. (Hat tips to Atrios and Daily Kos.)


Had an extended phone conversation last night with my brilliant nephew, who has a responsible position with Kerry-Edwards '04. He reports that there's no sense of panic in the Kerry campaign, that on the contrary, the mood is confident and upbeat. I'll be in Washington, D.C. for business next week and plan a visit to campaign headquarters. I'll relate my own observations when I get back.


You must see this ad.

Hat tip to No More Mister Nice Blog.


Why didn't the 9/11 Commission ask about this?

On November 9, 2001, when you could still choke on the dust in the air near Ground Zero, BBC Television received a call in London from a top-level US intelligence agent. He was not happy. Shortly after George W. Bush took office, he told us reluctantly, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the FBI, "were told to back off the Saudis."
We knew that. In the newsroom, we had a document already in hand, marked, "SECRET" across the top and "199-I" - meaning this was a national security matter.

The secret memo released agents to hunt down two members of the bin Laden family operating a "suspected terrorist organization" in the USA. It was dated September 13, 2001 -- two days too late for too many. What the memo indicates, corroborated by other sources, was that the agents had long wanted to question these characters ... but could not until after the attack. By that time, these bin Laden birds had flown their American nest.

Back to the high-level agent. I pressed him to tell me exactly which investigations were spiked. None of this interview dance was easy, requiring switching to untraceable phones. Ultimately, the insider said, "Khan Labs." At the time, our intelligence agencies were on the trail of Pakistan's Dr. Strangelove, A.Q. Khan, who built Pakistan's bomb and was selling its secrets to the Libyans. But once Bush and Condoleeza Rice's team took over, the source told us, agents were forced to let a hot trail go cold. Specifically, there were limits on tracing the Saudi money behind this "Islamic bomb."

Then we made another call, this time to an arms dealer in the Mideast. He confirmed that his partner attended a meeting in 1995 at the 5-star Hotel Royale Monceau in Paris where, allegedly, Saudi billionaires agreed to fund Al Qaeda fanatics. We understood it to be protection money, not really a sign of support for their attacks. Nevertheless, rule number one of investigation is "follow the money" -- but the sheiks' piggy banks were effectively off-limits to the US agents during the Bush years. One of the men in the posh hotel's meeting of vipers happens to have been a Bush family business associate.
And what about the bin Laden "suspected terrorist organization"? Called the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, the group sponsors soccer teams and summer camps in Florida. BBC obtained a video of one camp activity, a speech exhorting kids on the heroism of suicide bombings and hostage takings. While WAMY draws membership with wholesome activities, it has also acted as a cover or front, say the Dutch, Indian and Bosnian governments, for the recruitment of jihadi killers.

Certainly, it was worth asking the bin Laden boys a few questions. But the FBI agents couldn't, until it was too late.

In November 2001, when BBC ran the report on the spike of investigations of Saudi funding of terror, the Bush defenders whom we'd invited to respond on air dismissed the concerns of lower level FBI agents who'd passed over the WAMY documents. No action was taken on the group headed by the bin Ladens.

Then, in May this year, fifty FBI agents surrounded, invaded and sealed off WAMY's Virginia office. It was like a bad scene out of the 'Untouchables.' The raid took place three years after our report and long after the bin Ladens had waved bye-bye. It is not surprising that the feds seized mostly empty files and a lot of soccer balls.

Why now this belated move on the bin Laden's former operation? Why not right after the September 11 attack? This year's FBI raid occurred just days after an Islamist terror assault in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Apparently, messin' with the oil sheiks gets this Administration's attention. Falling towers in New York are only for Republican convention photo ops.

The 199-I memo was passed to BBC television by the gumshoes at the National Security News Service in Washington. We authenticated it, added in our own sleuthing, then gave the FBI its say, expecting the usual, "It's baloney, a fake." But we didn't get the usual response. Rather, FBI headquarters said, "There are lots of things the intelligence community knows and other people ought not to know."

Ought not to know?

What else ought we not to know, Mr. President? And when are we supposed to forget it?

I haven't posted much about the Swift Boat Vets or Bush's irregular TANGuard service because it's been everywhere and I haven't had much to add to the discussion. But a reader on Eric Alterman's Altercation raises a good question:

Quite aside from the current crop of newly-released records, here's a question about Bush's National Guard service I don't see anyone else asking.

Bush's story: He missed a bunch of drills, but he made them all up. So he met his obligation.
Never mind that making up drills six months late isn't allowed - let's just look at the numbers.
Bush is credited with performing either regular or make-up sessions on the following dates:

January 4-5, 1973
January 13-14 1973
April 7-8 1973
May 19-20 1973
June 23-24 1973
July 21-22 1973
July 18-19 1973

But WHERE?  Even Bush doesn't claim he was in Alabama at that point.  And his commanding officer, Killian, says in August of 1973 that "Bush wasn't here during rating period and I don't have any feedback from 187th in Alabama.  I will not rate."  (according to the recent memo) and If he wasn't on the base in Texas, where could he have performed his makeup duty?

Another commenter had this to say:

After seeing the latest info on Shrub's guard service I just have to comment.  I was in the WV Air National Guard in the early 70's.  At the same time Shrub was pulling his no show performance, we had a young enlisted man who didn't show up for drills for about eight months.  He was arrested, handcuffed and escorted to base by Army MP's.  Then they court marshalled him, activated him and transferred him to the Army for the rest of his enlistment.  I guess it pays to have political connections.

Amen to that.


My middle daughter is a Republican, and most of my extended family vote Republican. But golly gee, if one of them ever went on the public airwaves and outright called me a liar and a cheap promoter, I think we'd be having a serious discussion about the old will and testament...

Ben Barnes' daughter:

BARNES: I love my father very much, but he's doing this for purely political reasons. He is a big Kerry fund-raiser and he is writing a book also. And [the Bush story] is what he's leading the book off with. ... He denied this to me in 2000 that he did get Bush out [of Vietnam service]. Now he's saying he did.

CROWLEY: Did he tell you, Amy – and I'm glad I have you on the line with me – did your father tell you that he was prepared to do this on behalf of John Kerry – go after President Bush like this?

BARNES: He told me he was going to do it. In fact, I talked to him a couple of months ago. He told me he was writing the book. He told me that he was going to be talking about this. And he knows that I – we have very diverse political opinions. He knows my opinions and we get into this debate every time I see him. But, you know, he said that he was going to be talking about it.

CROWLEY: Now you're saying, Amy, that he has had two separate stories on President Bush's Guard duty during the Vietnam era?

BARNES: Yes, yes. This came out in 2000 and I asked him then, at the time, if he [helped get Bush into the Guard]. He said: "No, absolutely not. I did not do that." -

CROWLEY: So, I hate to put you in this position, but I will ask you, do you think your father, Ben Barnes who was on "60 Minutes II" with Dan Rather last night – do you believe that he lied on the air to the American people last night about President Bush?

BARNES; Yes, I do. I absolutely do. And I think he's doing he's doing it for purely political, opportunistic reasons – trying to get John Kerry elected and trying to make Bush look like the bad person. ... Like I said, he's going to be trying to promote his book that he's got coming out.


CJR Campaign Desk brings us this welcome election analysis by National Journal:

"President Bush is less popular at this point in his term than were recent presidents who went on to win re-election, but ... more popular than those who eventually lost. ..."

Despite that,

"... today's unprecedented level of partisan polarization -- which cleaves the nation almost exactly in half -- means that there [are] few Democrats left for Kerry to pick up. Virtually everyone in his party [has] already "come home" . ... Kerry isn't likely to gain many Republican defectors. Rather, whatever gains Kerry makes are likely to come from the ranks of independents. ...

Well-known, defined incumbents wind up getting at most only one-quarter to one-third of the undecided vote. ...

Voters who now consider themselves "undecided" have [by definition] already made a tentative decision not to support the incumbent. What's left for them to decide is whether to vote for the main challenger. ..."

Cook writes that Clinton White House political director Doug Sosnick has determined that in the four most recent presidential re-election campaigns (Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton) the incumbent's job-approval ratings were showing clear and unambiguous by June, at which point the public had its mind made up about whether to re-elect the incumbent. If that theory holds up ... President Bush's 48 percent approval rating (the number has not wavered since March) will not be enough to win re-election in a two-way race and may not be enough to win even in a three-way race.

"Polls suggest that Americans have come to see the war with Iraq and U.S. policies in the Mideast as inadvertently increasing the threat of terrorism in the United States. ...

[Democrats] will gain little by attacking Bush's character. Among swing voters, there is a real openness to attacks on Bush's decisions and priorities. Attacks on Bush's character, however, can backfire and shift undecided voters to his side .... Bush's re-election is in extreme dangers because of the decisions, priorities and actions of his administration, not because of strategic or tacticial missteps made at the Bush-Cheney '04 headquarters in Arlington, Va. ..."

Offsetting that,

"Some observers think that if Kerry had as much personality as most ashtrays, he would have been ahead by 10 points even before picking Edwards or holding his national convention. Although that assessment is probably a bit harsh, Kerry has had trouble connecting with voters on a personal and emotional level. ...

[A] simple test tells us a lot about how this race may unfold in the coming months. Ask yourself how many people you know who voted for Gore in 2000 but who are planning to vote for Bush this year. Then ask yourself how many Bush 2000 voters are planning to vote for Kerry. Outside of the pro-Israel community, there are very, very few Gore voters who appear likely to defect to Bush. But most people can name Bush voters who appear ready to switch their allegiance to Kerry. ..."


Great read. John Dean thinks Bush-Cheney are Osama's Dream Team:

Bush and Cheney seek to make complex problems simple, and describe them as black and white, good versus evil. Kerry and Edwards (maybe because they are trained as lawyers) appreciate that the real world is varying shades of gray, nothing is simple, and the complex problem of terrorism will not be solved by tanks and troops, and pretending we can keep terrorists from America by fighting wars in the Middle East.

Experts on terrorism, as well as military analysis, have repeatedly pointed out this truth: "A strong military force, by itself, does not deter terrorism -- in point of fact, terrorism has developed as a response to strong governmental powers." Other nations might think twice when facing the force of overwhelming strength. But not sub- or trans-national terrorists, who don't fight on battlefields. Nor do casualties trouble the terrorist leaders whose religious beliefs postulate that death is a great reward.
Despite these truths, however, Bush and Cheney continue to think in these terms. If anyone ought to be accused of having a pre-9/11 mind-set, it is they. Their tactics might have worked well in the Civil War, but they are failing in the fight against modern terrorists groups.

Read between the lines of the 9/11 Commission Report. It is saying that the Administration's choice to focus on troops and tanks, at the expense of diplomacy and other measures, makes us vulnerable to terrorism - rather than protecting against it. These are the views of a bipartisan body that looked extensively at the facts and sought the wisdom of the most knowledgeable people in the nation.

Examine, if you will, the progress that has been made in apprehending terrorists thus far, for it has come largely because of the work of other nations. Despite all the effort Bush and Cheney have made to alienate them, others have come through to make crucial arrests abroad.

Bush and Cheney remain insensitive to what the "Arab street" thinks of them and this nation. They have only covered up the failures of their military command with its consequences at Abu Ghraib, which has embittered (at a minimum) a generation of Muslims against America.

Arab- and Muslim-Americans should have been a primary weapon in the war on terrorism. We need their knowledge and language skills. A program to recruit numerous patriotic Americans of Arab descent into the FBI will be essential to winning the battle with Islamic terrorists.

Yet this Administration's abusive tactics - including FBI interviews that have delved into religious practices, mass detentions that were clearly based on religion and national origin, and the like - have seriously damaged the Administration's image in Arab- and Muslim-American communities.

In short, for the past three years the Bush Administration has utterly ignored the approach that the 9/11 Commission recommended. It is not that this approach has not been conspicuous. The Commission stated the obvious when it said that "long-term success demands the use of all elements of national power: diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public diplomacy, and homeland security. If we favor one tool while neglecting others, we leave ourselves vulnerable and weaken our national effort."
As prolific writer Joseph Coates explains, terrorists have clear goals: they "seek to prove that governments cannot protect their people." By committing terrorist acts, they hope to provoke an extreme response, "the more extreme the better" - for such a response aids them in recruitment, and arouses hostility toward the responder.
In his recent essay, law professor Oren Gross described a similar dynamic: he believes that by forcing excessive response, terrorists seek to destroy the fabric of democracy, discredit the government, alienate citizens, and undermine the moral basis of the government's actions.

What better way to convince other Islamic fundamentalists that the West shouldn't be in the Middle East, than for a Western country - in an extreme response only tenuously connected, if at all, to a terrorist attack - to wage a preemptive bloody war in the Middle East? Even better, that this war would be justified by the need to prevent the use of dangerous weapons that turn out not to exist.

Bush and Cheney have to be Osama's dream team for November. They have all but promised even more extreme responses in the future, which surely must please Osama.

"It's the dishonesty, stupid"

Paul Krugman reminds us of Bush's pattern of lies:

Two months ago Stanley Collender, a respected nonpartisan analyst, warned: "At some point over the next few weeks, the Office of Management and Budget will release the administration's midsession budget review and try to convince everyone the federal deficit is falling. Don't believe them."

He went on to echo the center's analysis. The administration's standard procedure, he said, is to initially issue an unrealistically high deficit forecast, which is "politically motivated or just plain bad." Then, when the actual number comes in below the forecast, officials declare that the deficit is falling, even though it's higher than the previous year's deficit.

Goldman Sachs says the same. Last month one of its analysts wrote that "the Office of Management and Budget has perfected the art of underpromising and overperforming in terms of its near-term budget deficit forecasts. This creates the impression that the deficit is narrowing when, in fact, it will be up sharply."

In other words, many reputable analysts think that the Bush administration routinely fakes even its short-term budget forecasts for the purposes of political spin. And the fakery in its long-term forecasts is much worse.

The administration claims to have a plan to cut the deficit in half over the next five years. But even Bruce Bartlett, a longtime tax-cut advocate, points out that "projections showing deficits falling assume that Bush's tax cuts expire on schedule." But Mr. Bush wants those tax cuts made permanent. That is, the administration has a "plan" to reduce the deficit that depends on Congress's not passing its own legislation.

Sounding definitely shrill, Mr. Bartlett says that "anyone who thinks we can overcome our fiscal mess without higher taxes is in denial." Far from backing down on his tax cuts, however, Mr. Bush is proposing to push the budget much deeper into the red with privatization programs that purport to offer something for nothing.

As Newsweek's Allan Sloan writes, "The president didn't exactly burden us with details about paying for all this. It's great marketing: show your audience the goodies but not the price tag. It's like going to the supermarket, picking out your stuff and taking it home without stopping at the checkout line to pay. The bill? That will come later."

Longtime readers will remember that that's exactly what I said, shrilly, about Mr. Bush's proposals during the 2000 campaign. Once again, he's running on the claim that 2 - 1 = 4.

So what's the real plan? Some not usually shrill people think that Mr. Bush will simply refuse to face reality until it comes crashing in: Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman, says there's a 75 percent chance of a financial crisis in the next five years.

Nobody knows what Mr. Bush would really do about taxes and spending in a second term. What we do know is that on this, as on many matters, he won't tell the truth.

Cost of Insuring Workers' Health Increases 11.2%

This is not good news:

The cost of providing health care to employees has risen 11.2 percent this year, according to the results of an authoritative national survey reported yesterday.

It was the fourth consecutive year of double-digit increases in health insurance premiums, which has resulted in a steady decline in the number of the nation's workers and their families receiving employer health care coverage.
Health premiums are rising faster than the underlying cost of doctor and hospital care, as consolidation in the insurance industry has given insurers greater clout.
Small businesses are being especially hard hit as the average family coverage in preferred provider networks, the most common type of health plan, has risen to $10,217, with employees paying $2,691 of the total. In response to the soaring costs, many small companies are simply no longer offering coverage of a worker's spouse and children.

Compare John Kerry's healthcare proposals with those of George Bush:

Kerry: Give small businesses tax credits to cover up to 50% of premiums for low to moderate income workers.

Bush: Supports Associated Health Plans that will increase health care costs for small businesses.

Kerry: Allow individuals to buy into the Congressional Health Plan to ensure access to quality coverage, as well as provide tax credits to make it more affordable.

Bush: Create Health Savings Accounts that would increase out-of-pocket costs for workers.

Read the rest for yourself and see who's addressing the real issues faced by most Americans.

Thursday, September 9

I've said it before...

I love Teresa :

In an interview with the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Intelligencer Journal, his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, promoted her husband's health care plan.

'Only an idiot wouldn't like this,' she said. 'Of course, there are idiots.'

Hat tip to [the amazing] AmericaBlog.


Editorial in The Nation:

Indeed, since the "handover of sovereignty" at the end of June the resistance has grown in intensity and sophistication--August was the bloodiest month of the occupation, with 2,700 attacks on US troops and 1,100 soldiers wounded--and has come from more sectors of Iraqi society, both Sunni and Shiite. Reconstruction in many parts of the country has ground to a halt, and the last fifty or so international aid agencies operating in Iraq are said to be likely to leave, following the abduction of two Italian aid workers. At the same time, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has told the Security Council that the violence in Iraq could make it more difficult to go ahead with the planned elections.

Faced with this situation, the Allawi government and American military commanders have had no choice but to effectively cede more and more areas to various resistance groups, including the cities of Ramadi, Falluja, Baquba and Samarra. They have been forced to do so not just to avoid American casualties but to avoid further inflaming Iraqi opinion, particularly over military actions in or near Islamic holy sites.

At this point, there is no military solution in Iraq. Nor is there a political solution as long as the American military presence and intentions remain the issue. Confronted with these realities, supporters of the war have argued that we must nonetheless soldier on through the bad times; otherwise, the argument goes, Iraq will be reduced to chaos and will become a breeding ground for terrorism and Islamic extremism. But Iraq is already a breeding ground for terrorism and is nearing chaos, with more than 10,000 Iraqi civilians dead, not to mention the many thousands more without jobs or basic services.

A continued American occupation will only accelerate that disintegration by further fusing Islamic radicalism with the cause of nationalism--not just in Iraq but throughout the region. In that sense, Iraq is not a quagmire; it is, rather, a massive explosion that threatens to destroy much of the political fabric of the region and with it any prospect for real peace and political reform.

We urge political and other leaders to join us in calling for Washington to begin to withdraw US forces and to renounce any interest in maintaining military bases or in exercising control over Iraq's economy and oil resources, instead leaving the future of Iraq to the Iraqi people. Contrary to the views of those perpetuating the occupation, US disengagement from Iraq would not be a victory for terrorism or jihadism but for international law and the principle of popular sovereignty.

In going to war, many people in and around this Administration underestimated the power of nationalism and overestimated the power of the United States to shape the future of another people. In deciding whether to stay, they should not make the same mistake.

Face it, we've replaced Saddam Hussein, a thug and bully, with one of his old buddies, another thug and bully, but he has much less support among his countrymen than the old guy did. We're not doing anyone any favors by continuing this conflict, least of all Americans. We're not rebuilding Iraq, children are still dying because of malnutrition and dirty water, THERE IS NO GOOD NEWS for any journalists, even Fox!, to tell.

Oh, the Vietnam War flashbacks I'm enduring. Did we learn NOTHING?



Red Scare, Updated:

The problem with Cheney's assertion about terrorism is that it makes no sense. Nothing in John Kerry's record, and certainly nothing the senator has said recently, suggests he would be any less tough on terrorism than George Bush. There is ample evidence to suggest, however, that he would not have gone off half-cocked into Iraq before finishing the job in Afghanistan. Opening up a supposed second front has not made the United States any safer. Hussein is in jail, but bin Laden is not and terrorists are striking all over the world. Under the gallant leadership of President Bush, the Marines hit the wrong beach.

The other night on the Jim Lehrer "NewsHour," former secretary of state Madeleine Albright called Iraq a mess and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger said it wasn't -- and then proceeded to describe a mess. At the moment, the United States has lost more than 1,000 service members, and whole hunks of that country are under the control of one militia or another. The situation has deteriorated so much that when Kerry promised he would try to get U.S. troops out of the country within four years, neither Bush nor Cheney quibbled. Four years? But this was supposed to be a liberation. Did we somehow miss the parades, the inauguration of Ahmed Chalabi, Martha Stewart re-creating the hanging gardens of Babylon? (A hanging garden is a good thing.)

Sorry, Henry, Iraq is a mess. And Cheney is one of the chief architects of that mess -- pride of place after Bush himself. But rather than answer for what they have done, they both prefer to resort to odious scare tactics, an updated version of the old soft-on-communism charge. Even before McCarthy, this was standard stuff in politics. As Cheney knows, when you don't have any answers, it's best not to have any shame, either.


AP Gets New Bush Military Records:

Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs in the Reagan administration, said after studying many of the documents that it was clear to him that Bush "gamed the system."

"It appears that no one wanted to hold him accountable," Major General Paul A. Weaver Jr., who retired in 2002 as the Pentagon's director of the Air National Guard, told the Globe. [emphasis mine]


Sometimes Mo Dowd strikes just the right note:

The vice president and president did not even mention Osama at the convention because of the inconvenient fact that the fiend is still out there, plotting. Yet they denigrate Mr. Kerry as too weak to battle Osama, and treat him as a greater threat.

Mr. Cheney implies that John Kerry couldn't protect us from an attack like 9/11, blithely ignoring the fact that he and President Bush didn't protect us from the real 9/11. Think of what brass-knuckled Republicans could have made of a 9/11 tape of an uncertain Democratic president giving a shaky statement that looked like a hostage tape and flying randomly from air base to air base, as the veep ordered that planes be shot down.

Mr. Cheney warns against falling back "into the pre-9/11 mind-set,'' when, in fact, the Bush team's pre-9/11 mind-set was all about being stuck in the cold war and reviving "Star Wars" - which doesn't work and is useless against terrorist tactics. The Bush crowd played down terrorism because Bill Clinton and Sandy Berger had told their successors that Osama was a priority, and the Bushies scorned all things Clinton. The president shrugged off intelligence briefings with such headlines as "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States'' because there was brush to be cleared and unaffordable tax-cutting to be done.

After the blue-ribbon graybeards declared the Bush administration's pumped-up W.M.D. claims and Saddam-9/11 links bogus, the White House went into a defensive crouch - especially the man in the undisclosed bunker, who had veered wildly between overly pessimistic predictions of Saddam's nukes and overly optimistic predictions of grateful Iraqis with flowers and chocolates.

For a time, it seemed that Americans were realizing they'd been flimflammed by the Bushies. But at the convention, the swaggering Bush juggernaut brazenly went back to boasting about its pre-emption doctrine, tracing imaginary connections between 9/11 and Saddam, and calling all our foes terrorists.

Why should the same group that managed to paint a flextime guardsman as a heroic commander - and a war hero as a war criminal - bother rebutting or engaging with critics?

As the deaths of American men and women fighting in Iraq topped 1,000, and with insurgents controlling parts of central Iraq, the White House trotted out the same old discredited line, assuming it can wear - and scare - everyone down by November.

Wednesday, September 8

Boy oh boy, Harold Meyerson is good:

But if there's one enduring motif in the life of George W. Bush, it is that he's always been sheltered from the consequences of risk -- that is, of failure. Exposed to the draft, he had business and political associates of his father get him a slot in a National Guard unit far from Vietnam. As an oil bidness entrepreneur, he would have gone belly-up on several occasions but for the intervention of more such associates, for whom the notion of helping out the vice president's boy had a certain je ne sais quoi. And when he was a presidential candidate, even a defeat at the polls could be reversed by the Republican majority on the Supreme Court.

No wonder risk and opportunity are all jumbled up in the mind of George W. Bush. Privilege has trumped risk at every turn in his life.

But it's not Bush alone who suffers from this confusion. Republican members of Congress, who also preach the gospel of opportunity, nonetheless cling to their defined-benefit pensions rather than replace them with a congressional 401(k) plan. I don't know how many, if any, have renounced their congressional health insurance for a private account they themselves own and shell out for, but I suspect it would be a small caucus indeed.

The dirty little secret of Bushonomics is that risk -- excuse me, opportunity -- is for suckers. Like the American people.

Food for thought.


Wow. I already adored Teresa Heinz Kerry (and appreciated John Kerry as one of those men manly enough to marry a smart woman), but reading this interview with her environmentalist son, Andre Heinz, my respect went up a couple of more notches, as the mother of this remarkable son. Excerpts:

People often say the biggest concern is that Bush puts industry interests first at the expense of public interest. But I would clarify it this way: Bush does the bidding of certain industries and certain voices within industry. There are some who would be ready to make the move toward sustainability with the right leadership or a few incentives.
More importantly, for all industry, Bush is their gravedigger. He's the worst business leader as a president we've had. He sticks his head in the sand. He doesn't realize that the markets of tomorrow are already being defined and will continue to be increasingly defined by the indisputable fact that we have fewer and fewer resources, and more and more pollution on our planet, and the dynamic is being accelerated as a function of more people with higher standards of living at high levels of certain kinds of materialization worldwide.

Q: What would four more years of Bush mean?

A: It would mean another four years of Americans dragging their asses with respect to modernization. Imagine the rest of the world gets to a level four years from now where they go, OK, we've got huge purchase orders for clean technologies from India and China, the economies of the other countries have grown. America is all of a sudden the one that can provide only the dirty services, only the dirty products.
Four more years of Bush would mean less and less regulation; more and more localized pollution; more and more globalized pollution; more and more externalization of problems in other nations; less and less international goodwill.
Q: Kerry seems to have gone out of his way to avoid oversimplification, to talk in shades of gray -- and of course he gets slammed by the other side for flip-flopping.

A: Despite the pressures, despite the pundits, despite the hammering in the press that he takes for not slinging crap and mud back at the other side, for not being exciting, despite it all he doesn't buckle. He believes that people deserve to be told clearly what they're being offered. I think he believes in people making informed choices and taking responsibility for those choices.
Q: Still, we are the consumers who are driving the demand for clean products and moving sustainable markets. Shouldn't we be held accountable for our personal decisions?

A: Sure, and I try to do my part in that. Let's put it this way: I'm somewhat ashamed to have a gas guzzler, but I'm relieved that I never get a chance to drive it. [Laughter.] My point is there are still those who say you can't talk to the environmental issue unless you live in a cave and wear a hair shirt. But I'm not sure that that's the best poster child for recruiting people to this movement. The future of the environmental movement is going to be less about asking people to change their lifestyle, and more about changing the rules that cause the footprint.

Q: In other words, we have a design problem.

A: Yes, we have a design problem. Once you get that, once you see it, once you know it, it really alters the way you think. You always want to relate everything that's being done back to the overall question: Is this moving us closer to or farther from the goals for a sustainable society? What we need to do is get our leaders in industry and policy to see that. And despite the tremendous obstacles posed by the current administration, I think we're on our way.

Daniel Gross of Slate explains how the Bush tax cuts have depressed employment growth.


Read Rolling Stone's fascinating profile of Dick Cheney:

But the following year, another powerful person decided to confer great nonelective power on Cheney. When President George H.W. Bush named him to head the Defense Department, the Senate unanimously confirmed the choice. Not a single senator seems to have considered it anomalous that control of the strongest armed forces on earth was being conferred on a person who had gone to notable lengths to avoid service in those same armed forces.

Appointed to another powerful position, Cheney promptly went about screwing it up. He pushed to turn many military duties over to private companies and began moving "defense intellectuals" with no military experience into key posts at the Pentagon. Most notable among them was Paul Wolfowitz, who later masterminded much of the disastrous strategy that George W. Bush has pursued in Iraq. In 1992, as undersecretary of defense, Wolfowitz turned out a forty-page report titled "Defense Planning Guidance," arguing that historic allies should be demoted to the status of U.S. satellites, and that the modernization of India and China should be treated as a threat, as should the democratization of Russia. "We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role," the report declared. It was nothing less than a blueprint for worldwide domination, and Cheney loved it. He maneuvered to have the president adopt it as doctrine, but the elder Bush, recognizing that the proposals were not only foolish but dangerous, immediately rejected them.

By the end of the first Bush administration, others had come to the conclusion that Cheney and his followers were dangerous. "They were referred to collectively as the crazies," recalls Ray McGovern, a CIA professional who interpreted intelligence for presidents going back to Kennedy. Around the same time, McGovern remembers, Secretary of State James Baker and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft counseled the elder President Bush, "Keep these guys at arm's length."

In November 1992, when George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton, Cheney had his second president shot out from under him. He knocked around Washington at various neoconservative think tanks for two years, and the old pattern repeated itself: Powerful benefactors once again gave Cheney a big break. As Dan Briody recounts in his book The Halliburton Agenda, Cheney was on a fishing trip in New Brunswick, Canada, with a group of high-powered corporate CEOs. "The men were discussing the ongoing search for a CEO at Halliburton," Briody reports. "Cheney was asleep back at the lodge and, in his absence, the men decided that Cheney would be the man for the job, despite the fact that he had never worked in the oil business."

Halliburton was Cheney's first real chance to get rich; he grabbed it with both hands. His principal action was his acquisition of a subsidiary called Dresser Industries. Dresser struck lucrative deals with Saddam Hussein; Halliburton did business with Muammar el-Qaddafi and the ayatollahs of Iran. By the time Cheney left in 2000, Halliburton's stock was near an all-time high of fifty-four dollars a share. Then it turned out that Dresser had saddled Halliburton with asbestos lawsuits that could cost the company millions, and the stock plummeted to barely ten dollars a share. Even with the bounce Halliburton stock has received from the war, an investor who put $100,000 into the company just before Cheney became vice president would have less than $60,000 today.
Since Cheney lived in Texas at the time, choosing him led Bush into a situation that, if the words of our Founding Fathers still have any meaning, is unconstitutional. The Constitution forbids a state's electors from voting for candidates for president and vice president who are both "an inhabitant of the same state as themselves." Yet by voting for Bush and Cheney, electors in Texas did precisely that. Cheney lived in Texas, had a Texas driver's license and filed his federal income tax using a Texas address. He had also voted in Texas, not in Wyoming, a state where he had not lived full-time for decades. [emphasis mine: How do these guys GET AWAY WITH IT ALL?]
As vice president, Cheney has been the decisive force pushing America into war. In the inner councils of the administration, it was he who emasculated Colin Powell, cut the State Department out of effective policymaking, foisted fake reports on the intelligence agencies and supplanted the National Security Council. It was also Cheney who placed appointees personally loyal to him, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, in charge of the Pentagon and speckled the warmaking bureaucracy with desk officers culled from neoconservative Washington think tanks -- ideologues with no military experience.
Over at Defense, competent intelligence professionals were purged in order to ease the way to war. Douglas Feith, brought in under Rumsfeld to serve as undersecretary of defense for policy, applied an ideological test to his staff: He didn't want competence; he wanted fervor. Col. Pat Lang, a Middle East expert who served under five presidents, Republican and Democratic, in key posts in military intelligence, recalls being considered for a job at the Pentagon. During the job interview, Feith scanned Lang's impressive resume. "I see you speak Arabic," Feith said. When Lang nodded, Feith said, "Too bad," and dismissed him.
As the disaster has unfolded in Iraq, he has continued to insist against all evidence that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction, that the dictator was aiding Al Qaeda, that nothing the Bush administration has done was a mistake. Those who have known him over the years remain astounded by what they describe as his almost autistic indifference to the thoughts and feelings of others. "He has the least interest in human beings of anyone I have ever met," says John Perry Barlow, his former supporter. Cheney's freshman-year roommate, Steve Billings, agrees: "If I could ask Dick one question, I'd ask him how he could be so unempathetic."

It's a question Cheney is unlikely ever to answer. Throughout the years, he has sealed himself off from the possibility of such inquiries. The most famous example is his draft evasion during the Vietnam War. He has never candidly discussed his feelings about the war, the traumatic, formative event for American males of his age. Only once, in fact, has he even answered a question as to why he avoided serving.

"I had other priorities," was all he has ever said.


Why isn't this on the front page, above the fold?

The Bush administration illegally withheld data from Congress on the cost of the new Medicare law, and as a penalty, the former head of the Medicare agency, Thomas A. Scully, should repay seven months of his salary to the government, federal investigators said Tuesday.

The investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said Mr. Scully had threatened to fire the chief Medicare actuary, in violation of an explicit provision of federal appropriations law.

Accordingly, they said, federal money could not be used to pay Mr. Scully's salary after he began making the threats to the actuary in May 2003.

The conclusion came in a formal legal opinion by the accountability office, an investigative arm of Congress formerly known as the General Accounting Office. The agency applied its interpretation of the law to factual findings previously made by the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Bush administration did not quarrel with those facts, but said on Tuesday that it was unconstitutional for Congress to compel the disclosure of data over objections from the executive branch.
Mr. Scully, who now works for a law firm and a private investment firm, has registered as a lobbyist for Abbott Laboratories, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Caremark Rx and other health care companies, but says his actions in government were motivated solely by a desire to help Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers.

The White House had no immediate comment. William A. Pierce, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the department would not try to recover the money because Mr. Scully had "acted within his legal authority.''

But Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, cited the report as evidence that "the Bush administration broke the law by covering up the true cost of their phony Medicare bill.''

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey, one of 18 Democratic senators who requested the legal opinion, said the administration had purposely hidden information about "its flawed Medicare plan,'' and he asserted, "This was a corruption of the process at the highest levels.''

President Bush signed the Medicare law, widely seen as one of his major domestic achievements, on Dec. 8. Less than two months later, the White House said the law would cost much more than Congress had assumed - $534 billion over 10 years, as against $400 billion.

Lawmakers of both parties said the law would not have passed in its current form if Congress had known of the higher cost estimates, prepared by the chief actuary, Richard S. Foster, a career civil servant who has worked for the government since 1973 and received an award for outstanding service in 2001.

The law under which Mr. Scully could be penalized says that no federal money can be used to pay the salary of any federal employee who "prohibits or prevents, or attempts or threatens to prohibit or prevent, any other officer or employee of the federal government'' from communicating with Congress.
The Government Accountability Office said the Department of Health and Human Services should try to recover the money, just as it would try to secure payment of any debt owed to the department.

The department itself found that Mr. Scully had threatened to dismiss the actuary if he provided information and estimates sought by Congress last year in the heat of debate over Medicare.

But lawyers at the health department and the Justice Department said the law requiring the disclosure of information to Congress violated "executive privilege,'' the constitutional separation of powers and the president's right to control communications with Congress.

The Government Accountability Office rejected that argument. No court has ever held the law unconstitutional, it said, and the cost estimates were neither classified nor privileged. Indeed, it said, Mr. Scully's threats to the actuary were "a prime example of what Congress was attempting to prohibit'' when it outlawed "gag rules."
[emphasis mine]

"Midlevel employees provide much of the information Congress needs to evaluate programs'' and legislation, the Senate said when it adopted the language of the 1912 law as part of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. Similar language was included in spending bills for 2003 and 2004.


This fear thing puzzles me. The Christian right, which is overwhelmingly Republican, swoons with rapture as Bush and Cheney pour a thick coat of fear over everything they say and do. Listening to talk radio, the verbal diarrhea of professing Christians Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck et al is full of screeds about us Democrats "not getting it" because we don't act or sound fearful enough. This morning Darrell Ankarlo and Laura Ingraham played tape of Russian children relating their experiences in the school held hostage by Chechen rebels and kept reminding listeners that these are evil people who can't be negotiated with, as if the Democrats would disagree! (After all, it was the Bush administration that cautioned Putin not to get carried away, that a diplomatic solution to his problem was necessary.)

The thing that puzzles me is that Christians are not SUPPOSED to live in fear. We're told repeatedly in The Bible that God is our refuge and our defender -- "in whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 23) As a devout Christian, I refuse to walk and cower in fear even in the face of my enemies. THAT's the American way too. Americans AREN'T all cowboys, but we do have a history and culture that supports determination, but also confidence, in the face of the gravest and most serious of challenges. This overwhelming fear that the Republicans are fostering among the citizenry is not only anti-American, it's anti-Christian, and Democrats need to be reminding our fellow citizens of this loudly and strongly.

Look, people, Hitler, Tojo, and the Soviets had a lot more powerful weapons (and delivery systems!) than do the international terrorists, plus they had a much more plausible chance to actually TAKE OVER our country, and we didn't cower then. We stood up to them and our cause was won, and while we were doing it we actually LIVED OUR LIVES without trembling.

Awareness, yes. Defiance, yes. Determination, yes. Readiness to sacrifice, yes. These are all proper responses to the threats currently facing us. Fear and trembling, no! "They wouldn't bend, they wouldn't bow, they wouldn't burn," the old song relates the tale of Daniel's friends in the fiery furnace. They trusted God, as did Daniel when he was in the lion's den, to preserve their lives and safety. Defiant they were. Aware of the horrific nature of the threat to them, they were. Determined to obey their God rather than bend their knee to a false god they were. And, being human, they might have suffered a few pangs of fear -- but they didn't show it to the enemy. They were saved by their faith in their God and the righteousness of His cause.

Where's your faith, Christian right? Has it been suffocated by your fear? Or is it that you doubt the righteousness of your cause?

Tuesday, September 7


U.S. death toll passes 1,000.


No More Mister Nice Blog brings our attention to a little-noticed passage from the Big Dog's memoir, in which Clinton recounts a July 1991 conversation he had with Roger Porter, a Bush domestic policy aide. Porter explicitly warns Clinton that Repugs will conduct a campaign of personal destruction on him if he runs for president in '92, but say they'll give him a pass if he waits until '96. An excerpt:

Here's how Washington works," he said. "The press has to have somebody in every election, and we're going to give them you." He went on to say the press were elitists who would believe any tales they were told about backwater Arkansas. "We'll spend whatever we have to spend to get whoever we have to get to say whatever they have to say to take you out. And we'll do it early."
I tried to stay calm, but I was mad. I told Roger that what he had just said showed what was wrong with the administration. They had been in power so long they thought they were entitled to it. I said, "You think those parking spaces off the West Wing are yours, but they belong to the American people, and you have to earn the right to use them." I told Roger that what he had said made me more likely to run. Roger said that was a nice sentiment, but he was calling me as a friend to give me fair warning. If I waited until 1996, I could win the presidency. If I ran in 1992, they would destroy me, and my political career would be over.

Nobody's surprised, are they? This is straight from the Bush family playbook. If you can't achieve, tear down the achievements of others. If you have something to hide, expose the other side's dark secrets (or make them up) to distract the media and the public from your own failings.

Feel ready to strike back? Read Silmarill's latest post below.


As anyone who reads this blog is aware, we are a huge sprawling family in which one of our common ties is the Florida State University Seminoles. Long-time beloved coach Bobby Bowden and his lovely wife Ann lost their 15-year-old grandson and former son-in-law in a fatal accident Sunday when their car was hit by a utility truck that was helping restore power outages caused by Hurricane Frances.

Bobby was a pallbearer at my uncle's funeral and is one of the finest men in the world. He and Ann are an inspiration to many, and we send our love and fervent prayers of support to their whole family.

West Virginia’s top Army Reserve spokesman says the Iraq war was a mistake, and President Bush should be voted out of office.

The retired colonel said his troops in Iraq wondered “what we were doing there,” and he was forced to change his answer repeatedly. An invasion must have a clear mission and an exit strategy, but “those things didn’t exist” in the Iraq attack, he said.

At first, Tyree said, he trusted Secretary of State Colin Powell’s assertion that Iraq possessed illicit weapons of mass destruction. But that pretext soon faded, and the next reason for the war was “to liberate the Iraqis from tyranny.” Later, he heard that “we were there to gain a foothold in the region,” but he couldn’t tell that reason to his troops, so he “went back to the liberation mission.”

The ex-reservist told Wells that throwing so much military manpower into Iraq has left fewer forces to deal with terrorist threats, “so America is at a greater risk than before.”

He said part-time reservists such as those in his group aren’t trained enough for the chaotic complications of warfare. He added that America’s full-time soldiers and officers in Iraq tend to look down on reservists, and refuse to cooperate with them.

As for the Bush administration, Tyree concluded:

Tyree said he can’t understand veterans who “continue to support a leader who would lead us in this direction with these kinds of miscalculations.”
- advertisement-

“I believe in this country, and I’m concerned about where this country is heading,” he said. “I want to be part of the change, vs. the part that will allow us to continue on the path of destruction.”

He added that he’s doing the same as John Kerry, who fought in the Vietnam War then returned to oppose it.

Hat tip to BuzzFlash.


Time magazine warns us to expect more pre-emption (let's say it again, "endless war") in a second Bush term:

Some democrats on the Hill claim that they are worried a second Bush Administration may prove more militarily aggressive than the first. One reason: a Democratic official tells TIME that a leading Pentagon hawk recently hinted that the doctrine of pre-emptive war could soon apply to potential new targets. During a private Aug. 19 conference call with Capitol Hill aides from both parties, sources say, senior Pentagon policy official William Luti said there are at least five or six foreign countries with traits that "no responsible leader can allow." An outspoken proponent of the Iraq war, Luti had declared at an October 2002 conference that the U.S. has "the right to ... hold accountable nations that harbor terrorists." In his recent call, Luti did not name the nations he had in mind but said they are led by dictators with weapons-of-mass-destruction programs and close ties to terrorists. His remarks suggest that the Administration is looking well beyond the current "axis of evil," which includes Iran, Iraq and North Korea; this might put countries like Syria in the spotlight. A Pentagon spokesman declined to release a transcript of the call, saying Luti was stating "well-established official policy," not advocating pre-emptive strikes. The U.S., he added, has many other policy options at its disposal. They would presumably include measures like supporting opposition groups in suspect states.

Monday, September 6

The Right-strategy

I wanted to mention one of the most ingenious strategies employed by the talking heads representing the Right-Wing Republican agenda in the hopes that either democrats will adopt the tactic, fire with fire and all that, or that it will become common knowledge rendering the tactic ineffective and open to public ridicule. Is it wishful thinking that either of these outcomes will manifest? I would think so. Has anything happened recently to change your minds about the state of the American people and their ability to tell fact from fiction? Truth from lies? Illiusion from reality? Me either. That being the case let us continue our losing battle.

When the Republicans are guilty, they accuse the democrats of precisely what they themselves are guilty of. If the Republicans candidate GW was AWOL during Vietnam, they see to it that the Democratic candidate's war record is questioned, distorted, lied about, and destroyed. This makes AWOL's, aka GW's, scandalous past fairly moot. Now they both seem like screw-ups. If the news cycle seems to be questioning Republican policies because the evidence of their failure is so striking even the television news-media can no longer ignore it, the Republicans cut into their Democratic opponents at every opportunity, in the strongest terms of outrage, for the very things they themselves are guily of. Where they have bungled, the democrats are at fault. Where they are weak they say the democrats are weak. They turn the truth on its head, meaning they lie, confusing everyone that is not aware of what they're up to. Therefore the Democrats must do the same. Attack the republicans everywhere they are strong, everywhere they are weak, everywhere all the time for everything, guilty or not. The Democrats should not need a real-life stimulous to attack the republicans on any issue(or any candidate on any issue). WHERE THERE IS NO ARGUMENT THERE IS CONSENSUS! They say GW is doing well fighting th War on Terror. We should say he is doing a horrible job. Then when they try to cite facts, as we are so fond of doing, we ignore them, as they are so fond of doing, and talk about GW's personality. The Republicans learned a long time ago that facts play a cold and boring second to stereotypes and fear. So we talk about his cowboy persona that everyone accepts as some infallible mythos, and break the damn thing down.

Where can bush be made to seem shady? Bush doesn't listen to the people around him. Not bad. Neither refutable, nor provable. Just what we're looking for. Statements of fiction, though for Bush many may be true, that play on people's urge to think the worst about others while fulfilling the necessary requirement of not being refutable by any evidence. Isn't playing with unreason fun?

Bush is a liar I know what you're thinkin. "That's true!" Well, yes it is true. But truth without marketing. You're still locked in that 20th century way of thinking that says just because something is true or factual it should be backed up with truth or facts. Silly rabbits, truth is for kids. This is advertising. Bush isn't a liar because he said there were weapons of mass destruction when there weren't. Bush is a liar because in a private conversation between him and (democrat name here) Bush lied about his golf game the previous day. But we don't stop there. Another nameless democrat has another private anecdote to share that gives insight into the bigoted liar that is GW Bush. See how it just flows? And so on and so forth until the public gets the perception that GW is a liar.

Where are all the black people that Bush called the N word back in the day that are willing to testify George knows nothing about compassion? He should demand an apology. Quote the black man, "If a man wants to call himself a Uniter, not a Divider, then he should apologize for the divisions he caused in the past. He divided me from my humanity." This is the kind of sleeze the media loves. To all the weak of heart I give this battlecry: Remember the Swift Boats! If you wrong us, shall we not revenge? This is politics, not ping pong. They have no shame and play by their own rules, thus must we also. We have one ace in the hole. Our party is not the party of the Elite. It is the party of the worker and the environmentalist, women, and men of more than average compassion. The party of the poor, the oppressed, and the middle-class. The party that cares more for others' welfare than the way they live their lives. What we wish to do is good. It matters more that we are at the helm, then how we got there. We live in a world of hard choices, and politics presents some of the hardest. I'm afraid the stakes are too high. The future too important. And the Bush administration too dangerous to our country for us to squabble anymore over the morality of campaigning. They show us no mercy. They set the terms. It is ours to liken ourselves to men of grosser blood and teach them how to war.

Fill the media with irrefutable anecdotes destroying the public perception of the president. Take him down! Have no fear! Show no mercy! It is of more importance to defeat this man, then hold ourselves to standards that will arrange his triumph. He is a poison to our republic. As was translated by Seneca, "There is no sacrifice to God more acceptable than an unrighteous and a wicked king." Get George Bush out of the Presidency, and get the people some damn healthcare! I'm tired of being uninsured! I'm sick of watching boys die in Iraq! I'm tired of not funding research for stem cells one-seven-billionth the size of a human life to save the ones we love from sickness, pain, and death. I want the price of tuition to stop rising so I'm not in debt till I'm 40 years old! I want to see our veterans benefits increased not cut! I want the fish I catch in my local Texas lakes to be edible and not choked with mercury. I want the few wild places in our country left alone, so that they can continue to inspire the dreams and imaginations of children and adults alike all across our country. I want government to stop throwing non-violent drug offenders in jail, and releasing violent criminals and sexual predators. I want the people in the White House to care something for the people that sleep on the street just outside it! I want my country to be the best. Get Bush out. Get Kerry in. It's so very important to us all.


Oh my gosh, this is so awful I can't believe it. Read for yourself at AmericaBlog. The PENTAGON IS GOING TO INVESTIGATE JOHN KERRY'S MEDALS. What is happening to this country? Prissy little George W. Bush gets away with desertion (yes! what else can you call it?) and the military reevaluates whether or not John Kerry deserved the medals THEY AWARDED HIM (he didn't find them under a bushel) 35 years ago???? This is so outrageous, if Bush, McCain, Dole, EVERYONE OF THE LYING HYPOCRITICAL YOU-KNOW-WHATS, don't speak out loudly against this action, they will have established their lack of character and integrity to the permanent satisfaction of all fair-minded Americans.


Beth Shulman's response to Alan Greenspan's remarks that growing pay inequality and wage sluggishness is due to too many workers lacking skills:

A key to turning this around is understanding what made "good jobs" good. There is nothing inherent in welding bumpers onto cars or manufacturing steel girders that makes those better jobs than caring for children or guarding office buildings. Workers organizing through unions, and the passage of social legislation, raised wages and created paid leave and health and retirement benefits in these initially "bad" manufacturing jobs, changing them into good middle-class positions.

Fortunately, we can make choices as a society to make today's "bad" jobs "good" ones.

First, we can raise the minimum wage. Its earning power has not kept up with inflation. Frozen at $5.15 an hour since 1997, its value is 30 percent less today than in 1968, leaving millions of workers and their families well below the federal poverty line.

Second, we can clear the way for workers to unionize. Recent Labor Department statistics show that, on average, unionized service jobs pay nearly twice as much as nonunion service jobs. Compare the same positions in hotel-casinos in Reno and Las Vegas. They vary by more than $5 an hour, depending not on the skills of those who hold them but on whether they are unionized.

Third, we can reward businesses that provide their employees a living wage and basic benefits by offering taxpayer subsidies, contracts or grants.

Finally, we can provide access to health insurance for all Americans. Workers in the growing low-wage service sector are the least likely to get health insurance from their employers.

As a nation, we can decide to ensure that the people who protect and help our families can support themselves and their loved ones by making service jobs the good jobs of the 21st century. We must not simply label certain jobs "unskilled" and sentence a quarter of our population to a life of poverty just for doing their jobs.


Bob Herbert describes "an economy that turns American values upside down":

What is happening is nothing less than a deterioration in the standard of living in the United States. Despite the statistical growth in the economy, the continued slack in the labor market has resulted in declining real wages for anxious American workers and a marked deterioration in job quality.

From 2000 through 2003 the median household income fell by $1,500 (in 2003 dollars) - a significant 3.4 percent decrease. That information becomes startling when you consider that during the same period there was a strong 12 percent increase in productivity among U.S. workers. Economists will tell you that productivity increases go hand-in-hand with increases in the standard of living. But not this time. Here we have a 3.4 percent loss in real income juxtaposed with a big jump in productivity.

"So the economic pie is growing gangbusters and the typical household is falling behind," said Jared Bernstein, the institute's senior economist and a co-author of the new book.
American workers are in an increasingly defensive position. In a tight labor market, when jobs are plentiful, workers have leverage and can demand increased wages and benefits. But today's workers have lost power in many different ways - through the slack labor market, government policies that favor corporate interests, the weakening of unions, the growth of lower-paying service industries, global trade, capital mobility, the declining real value of the minimum wage, immigration and so on.

The end result of all this is a portrait of American families struggling just to hang on, rather than to get ahead. The benefits of productivity gains and economic growth are flowing to profits, not worker compensation. The fat cats are getting fatter, while workers, at least for the time being, are watching the curtain come down on the heralded American dream.


I have some quiet time to reflect and have started mulling over John Kerry's advertising efforts -- well, not just John Kerry's but's, etc. as well. Might as well apply my marketing expertise to politics since it's Labor Day and I'm not supposed to think of business. Some thoughts:

One of the most effective tactics in advertising is to demonstrate the pain of a bad decision. Some of the Dem's ads have attempted this, such as the DNCC ad depicting an empty factory and playing Bush quotes about how well the economy is doing. We need more of these, and we need them especially on the national security issue. Kerry's ads should be hitting at the mess in Iraq side-by-side with news quotes about Al Qaeda/Taliban reclaiming Afghanistan, terrorists recruiting like mad, bad news in North Korea and Iran, the costs of these expensive forays of the pRes -- then the announcer asks who'll keep us safer and more prosperous, Kerry or Bush with his wild imperialistic mission to bring the Gospel to the heathen; er, I mean liberty to the oppressed nations of the world.

I also think we need to sprinkle the heavy dire stuff with some "morning in America"-type lifestyle ads. Under a Kerry/Edwards administration, we'd say, Social Security will be safe, the middle class will get a tax cut, good jobs will increase, the justice department will stay out of your bedroom and your library, healthcare will be available to almost all, air and water will be fresher, and guess what else? the stock market will improve (it always performs better under democratic presidents).

My daughter has a box she's stored in our garage labeled "end of the world gear." Honestly! In it she has the chemical suits and gas masks she bought right after 9/11. I'd love to see her throw it away after John Kerry gets elected...that could happen if there are no more "orange alerts" but a real sense that the nation's business is being cared for.

My middle daughter, a Republican-leaning independent, and I had a lively discussion yesterday. She has a finely developed knack for spotting the weakness in an argument and zeroing in on it, so debates with her are a real challenge. Our talk yesterday helped me see that a fundamental weakness of the Bush plan for our future is the endless quality of the "war on terror" or "war to bring liberty to the world." If Bush really desires the latter, the American people better be reminded that we've got a lot of work to do here at home before we start trying to improve the lot of the whole world, and it begs the question, if "faith-based initiatives" are good enough to procure social improvement domestically, why shouldn't religious organizations be the ones to bring charity to those oppressed nations Bush is talking about? As far as the former, the "war on terror," is concerned, I'd love to see the ratio of the number of terrorists (not insurgents) convicted-or-killed to the amount of money we've spent on the war. "Imprisoned" isn't good enough -- we're letting prisoners go in swarms because we can't prove they've done anything wrong. After 3-1/2 years, I think we should have some convictions to show for it all, don't you?