Thursday, September 30, 2004

 

The Debate

Watched it...great debate.

I think Mr. Kerry did very well and came in with a solid victory in the debate. He was calm and made his points well.

On the other hand, Mr. Bush was defensive and stumbling.

The very picture of his presidency.

Most of the night I felt like I was watching the flash cards in Mr. Bush's brain actually flipping to find the right word or phrase he'd been coached about.

And while that sorting process took place, he stood there mumbling random things until the caught an odd phrase or bit of talking point to say.

All in all, a good night for Mr. Kerry and another bad public performance for Mr. Bush.

 

Mirror Universe

This whole misadventure in Iraq has been one colossal screw-up. Nearly all of which is the fault, in whole or in part, of Mr. Bush and his administration.

Remember back in 2000 when people were saying, ‘well, Mr. Bush ain’t all that bright but things will be ok, he'll surround himself with thoughtful reasoned people.’ Well, how’d that turn out? Mr. Bush still ain’t all that bright, he makes unthoughtful decisions based on advice from the ideologues he’s surrounded himself with, makes no attempt to gather information from outside his crony bubble, and then lives in a fantasy world when reality refuses to meet expectations.

I’ll tell you something else, if Mr. Kerry is elected, at least we’ll stop having our foreign policy dictated by the likes of these bozos.

All in all, I’d say this Administration is comprised of a bunch of incompetent fools at the highest levels. If it weren’t for the fact that we apparently now live in some strange mirror universe where they are not responsible for any of the incompetent, foolhardy things they’ve done, they’d be thrown out on their collective ear.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

 

Write-In Republicans

I was thinking about this story of late.

It reads in part:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee (news, bio, voting record), a Republican moderate from Rhode Island, said on Monday he might not vote for President Bush (news - web sites) in the Nov. 2 election.

Ok. Fair enough. There are grown-up Republicans who don't like what Mr. Bush is doing.

But the next paragraph adds a certain twist:

Chafee stressed, however, that he has no plans to bolt his party, and that if he does not back Bush he will write in the name of another Republican.

What it points out is that clearly there are Republicans out there who would rather drink glue than vote for Mr. Bush.

Find and dandy. I came to that conclusion a long time ago and I welcome them to the club.

However, on a serious note, this could be an important factor in this election in that it could syphon votes away from Mr. Bush...and while not giving them to Mr. Kerry, I think we can agree that any vote not for Mr. Bush is good.

It could be the left's version of the Ralph Nader factor.

Thing is, these folks either have not been positively swayed into voting for Mr. Kerry by his campaign rhetoric, or voting for a Democrat is prevented by partisan allergies....

So, I hit upon an idea. I have created a wedge group I call the Write-In Republicans.

Blogs need to spread the word...it's ok not to support Mr. Bush, his failed policies, and his incompetent Administration.

If you're a Republican and the thought of voting for Mr. Bush causes you to question your own sanity, and if, for some reason, you just can't bring yourself to vote for a Democrat, well, the Write-In a Republican name you do like!

For example, write in John McCain's name...everyone likes John McCain!

Or Colin Powell, he might still have some shred of reputation left. Maybe.

Write-in someone...anyone.

Anyone other than George W. Bush.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

 

Undermining The Troops

Publius at Legal Fiction writes about what and who might be undermining our troops.

And it's not John Kerry.

I’ll tell you what undermines our troops – getting troops killed undermines troops, Mr. Hatch – not criticizing the failed policies that got them killed in the first place. Bumbling an occupation and having no plan undermines troops. And Mr. Cheney, I’ll tell you what’s destructive to our effort in the global war on terror – your invasion of Iraq, which was Osama’s wet dream. And Mr. Bush, I’ll tell you how to embolden an enemy – invade the second-holiest land of Islam for no reason and then execute the war without a shred of competence. Lying about our progress also sends the wrong message to the people who are actually fighting your terrorist-aiding war. Let’s not forget that. We know exactly who – and what policies – have emboldened our enemies and undermined our troops. And it’s not John Kerry, or his criticisms of your failure. Nice try, though.

Via Kevin Drum.

Friday, September 24, 2004

 

Campaigning On Distortions

E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post writes:

Twisting the Truth

There is one good thing about President Bush's new advertisement showing John Kerry windsurfing: Kerry does enjoy windsurfing.

That alone puts the ad on a higher plane of truthfulness than many of the statements the president regularly makes on the campaign trail. A press corps that relentlessly nitpicked Al Gore in 2000 in search of "little lies" and exaggerations has given Bush wide latitude to make things up. I guess the incumbent benefits from the soft bigotry of low expectations.

----

....Kerry gave a tough speech attacking Bush's policies there. Bush fired back, as he had every right to do, and denounced what Kerry said.

"Incredibly," Bush said of his opponent, "he now believes our national security would be stronger with Saddam Hussein in power, not in prison." Then Bush quoted Kerry. "Today he said, and I quote, 'We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.' He's saying he prefers the stability of a dictatorship to the hope and security of democracy."

Now, to have a Democratic nominee preferring dictatorship to democracy would be big news indeed. But here is a full rendition of the passage from Kerry's speech that Bush partially quoted: "Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, that was not in and of itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction that we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."

----

A very intelligent political reporter I know said the other night that Republicans simply run better campaigns than Democrats. If I were given a free pass to stretch the truth to the breaking point, I could run a pretty good campaign, too.


 

This Administration Has To Go

From a Washington Post editorial:

What remains objectionable -- what looms as more objectionable than ever, now that the government has acknowledged Mr. Hamdi's unimportance -- is the unnecessary assault on civil liberties that the administration led in his case. For three years the administration insisted that Mr. Hamdi be held incommunicado and without any semblance of normal legal process or rights despite his citizenship. For most of his detention he was prevented from meeting with his lawyer. In 2002 the government contended in court that merely allowing him to meet with counsel "jeopardizes compelling national security interests" and would "interfere with if not irreparably harm the military's ongoing efforts to gather intelligence." Mr. Hamdi, it warned, might even "pass concealed messages through unwitting intermediaries."

The government insisted that the courts authorize Mr. Hamdi's detention purely on the basis of a two-page affidavit from a mid-level Defense Department bureaucrat who claimed no personal knowledge of the case. An American citizen could be plucked out of all of the protections of the civilian justice system with no significant judicial review and no opportunity to rebut the facts behind the decision, the administration argued -- and it pushed this view all the way to the Supreme Court, where it received the rebuke it deserved.

----

Apocalyptic justifications for needlessly aggressive positions that have gross consequences for liberty cannot be wiped away with a blithe "never mind."


 

I Don't Care About Polls...But This Poll Says...

We also learned yesterday, that Mr. Bush, the steely-eyed, resolute, plain-spoken, non-poll watcher, watches polls:

Bush Shrugs Off Bad Polls on Iraq Outlook

Thu Sep 23, 5:24 PM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) on Thursday shrugged off polls that suggest most Iraqis see Americans as occupiers not liberators. "I saw a poll that said the 'right track-wrong track' in Iraq (news - web sites) was better than here in America," he told reporters.

"It was pretty darn strong," Bush told a Rose Garden news conference with interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. "I mean, the people see a better future."

If you claim not to care about polls, why are you citing them as evidence of anything?

 

The Politics Of War

Kevin Drum writes the following as part of a good post:

That election, and the political considerations that go along with it, have been driving our military strategy for the past two years. Before the war, we passed up a chance to take out terrorist mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi — for political reasons. We invaded with too few troops — for political reasons. We lowballed the cost of the war — for political reasons. We ignored the UN and then turned around and pleaded for their help — for political reasons. Then we installed Iyad Allawi as president behind the UN's back — for political reasons.

And just recently we've learned that the Marines were yo-yoed in and out of Fallujah — for political reasons. The president has bizarrely dismissed his own intelligence agencies' analysis of Iraq as "guessing" — for political reasons. He's ignored the advice of his own generals about troop requirements for the upcoming elections — for political reasons. And assaults on Baathist enclaves have been postponed until December — for fairly obvious political reasons.

Everything is politics with this Administration.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

 

Cause It Worked So Well The First Time

The New York Times reports that the Administration is considering taking it's traveling Regime Change Road Show one country over.

With Iran policy in a state of flux, there is a drive among conservatives to reach out to Iranian dissidents and exiles seeking to overthrow the government, much as efforts were made with Iraqis in the 1990's. Senator Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, is sponsoring legislation favoring "regime change," with what some say is the tacit backing of administration conservatives.

Last year, when it was trying to reach out to Tehran for cooperation on Iraq, the administration stated that it did not support regime change in Iran, though President Bush also spoke out in favor of greater democracy there.

Administration officials say that there was an internal debate last year but that the idea of giving aid to dissidents who might try to overthrow the Iranian government had been dropped for lack of any credible groups to support.

Yet the cause of regime change in Iran is expected to be revived if President Bush is re-elected, administration officials say....

----

Via Dan Froomkin.

Yet another reason why no one should vote to elect these people to office.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

 

Mr. Bush's Top Ten Tax Proposals

CNN writes about John Kerry's Top 10 list on David Letterman's show:

Kerry's "Top 10 Bush Tax Proposals" are:

10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. presidents.

9. W-2 Form is now Dubya-2 Form.

8. Under the simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton.

7. The reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it just makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair.

6. Attorney General (John) Ashcroft gets to write off the entire U.S. Constitution.

5. Texas Rangers can take a business loss for trading Sammy Sosa.

4. Eliminate all income taxes; just ask Teresa (Heinz Kerry) to cover the whole damn thing.

3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent.

2. Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce it "nuclear" instead of "nucular."

1. George W. Bush gets a deduction for mortgaging our entire future.

Via Pandagon.

 

Mr. Bush, Advocating Retreat And Defeat In The Face Of Terror

Nick Confessore at The American Prospect Online makes note of Mr. Bush and his campaign's inconsistencies.

Mr. Bush said that John Kerry's plan for Iraq was "...exactly what we're currently doing."

Except, of course, for the part about being incompetent fools.

Anyway....

Steve Schmidt, Bush-Cheney '04 Spokesman, writes this about Mr. Kerry's position on the Bush-Cheney '04 website:

John Kerry's latest position on Iraq is to advocate retreat and defeat in the face of terror.

As a result, it is clear that Mr. Bush's Iraq policy, since it is the same policy advocated by John Kerry, is one of retreat and defeat in the face of terror.

If they said it...it must be true. Because we know, that to question the Bush Administration is to be unpatriotic.

 

It's The Other Way Around

It's not so much that Mr. Kerry has come to Mr. Bush on how to deal with the aftermath of the Iraq of the invasion...rather, it's Mr. Bush coming to Mr. Kerry.

And people should understand that.

It seems that Mr. Bush has decided...finally decided that is...that things should be done due to the fact that so much of what has happened has gone so wrong.

Paul Krugman writes:

The Bush administration fostered the Iraq insurgency by botching the essential tasks of enlisting allies, rebuilding infrastructure, training and equipping local security forces, and preparing for elections. It's understandable, then, that John Kerry - whose speech yesterday was deadly accurate in its description of Mr. Bush's mistakes - proposes going back and doing the job right.


Monday, September 20, 2004

 

Speaking Of Today's Right-Wing

James Wolcott puts hammer to nail head:

Yesterday, C-SPAN II, as part of its regular weekend books coverage, ran a reading/q & a with Ben Ferguson, the young conservative author of It's My America Too. The plaintive whimpering of that title--in particular that "too"--is typical of the phony underdog position conservatives insist on taking to make themselves look like insurgents. Republicans control the presidency, the Senate, the House, and much of the judiciary, Fox News is #1 in cable news, the rightwing rules talk radio, and yet here's little big Ben, who at the age of 22 hosts his own rightwing radio show, pouting about feeling like an outsider in his own country, boo hoo.

----

At one point in his talk, he made light of John Kerry's war medals and wounds, snickering that Kerry's decision to go to Vietnam to be shot at was pure "opportunism," and that if he'd been wounded as badly as all that he'd be in "a real nice wheelchair" now. Of course, if Kerry had been crippled and reduced to a wheelchair, that wouldn't spare him further mockery, as Max Cleland has learned.

Now at this point a certain type of liberal will quote Joseph Welch's famous question to Joe McCarthy at the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Liberals of a certain age love quoting that stirring heroic retort. When Anthony Lewis was a Times columnist, he used to quote it every other week it seemed, and I saw Richard Cohen pull a Joseph Welch a few columns ago.

But I won't. The question is no longer worth raising, even rhetorically. Because we know the answer.

They have no decency. Not a sliver, not a shred. Look at how Max Cleland has been treated, look at how George Soros has been smeared as some sort of Jewish intriguer who oozed his way out of Nazi Germany by Tony Blankley* and a drug kingpin by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, look at--oh, we know what the examples are.

Ben Ferguson can snicker that if John Kerry had incurred real injuries he'd be in a nice wheelchair today and the middleaged white fools sitting in the bookstore don't even raise a peep, which makes you wonder if ten years from now it'll be open season on any American vet from the Iraq campaign who's missing limbs or carrying shrapnel and gets out of political line. There is a myth that the Left spat on returning Vietnam vets in the Seventies. Well, the Right spits on Vietnam vets every day with impunity, and will spit on future vets. Conservatives support the military only in the vague abstract; beneath their patriotic bluster and sentimentality, they basically think soldiers are chumps, risking their lives when they could be staying home, making money, and carving out a neat career, as Ben has done.

Do you really think that Rush and Newt and Dick Cheney and the rest of them regret that they didn't serve in Vietnam, that they didn't do their part for a war they supported and whose cause they still think was just? Do you really think Ben Ferguson wishes he was in uniform fighting for democracy in Iraq instead of plastering his Lumpy Rutherford face on TV?

They have no conscience, they have no decency, so let's stop fake-pretending that they do.

*Emphasis added.

Via Atrios.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

 

Turns Out...

Mr. Bush was not telling the truth when he said this about his National Guard records:

Russert: Would you authorize the release of everything to settle this?

President Bush: Yes, absolutely.

We did so in 2000, by the way.

Eric Boehlert at Salon writes:

Under order from U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer Jr. to find and make public any of President Bush's military records that had not already been released, the Pentagon late on Friday released yet another batch of documents.

Via Atrios.

 

On My Mind

For somebody with any political savvy, beating Mr. Bush in this election should be as close to a slam dunk as it gets.

Will Mr. Kerry pull it out.

Given the direction the current incompetent Administration is taking the country, I certainly hope so.

 

Republicans Criticize Mr. Bush

I'm sure this atricle is going to get the same sort of media play that the 'John Kerry campaign is being critized by Democrats' or the 'Kerry campaign is in trouble' stories.

Republicans Criticize Bush 'Mistakes' on Iraq

Sun Sep 19, 1:12 PM ET

By Randall Mikkelsen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leading members of President Bush (news - web sites)'s Republican Party on Sunday criticized mistakes and "incompetence" in his Iraq (news - web sites) policy and called for an urgent ground offensive to retake insurgent sanctuaries.

In appearances on news talk shows, Republican senators also urged Bush to be more open with the American public after the disclosure of a classified CIA (news - web sites) report that gave a gloomy outlook for Iraq and raised the possibility of civil war.

"The fact is, we're in deep trouble in Iraq ... and I think we're going to have to look at some recalibration of policy," Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record) of Nebraska said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"We made serious mistakes," said Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), an Arizona Republican who has campaigned at Bush's side this year after patching up a bitter rivalry.

McCain, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," cited as mistakes the toleration of looting after the successful U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and failures to secure Iraq's borders or prevent insurgents from establishing strongholds within the country.

He said a ground offensive was urgently needed to retake areas held by insurgents, but a leading Democrat accused the administration of stalling for fear of hurting Bush's reelection chances.

The criticisms came as Bush prepared this week to host Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and focus strongly on Iraq after stepped up attacks from Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites).

After the CIA report was disclosed on Thursday, Kerry accused the president of living in a "fantasy world of spin" about Iraq and of not telling the truth about the growing chaos.

McCain said Bush had been "perhaps not as straight as maybe we'd like to see."

"I think the president is being clear. I would like to see him more clear," McCain said. He said Congress was expected to hold hearings on Iraq soon.

Sen. Richard Lugar (news, bio, voting record), an Indiana Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also criticized the administration's handling of Iraq's reconstruction.

Only $1 billion of $18.4 billion allocated by Congress for the task has been spent, Lugar said. "This is the incompetence in the administration," he said on ABC's "This Week."

GROUND OFFENSIVE

A ground offensive was essential to clearing insurgents out of strongholds such as Falluja, McCain said. He joined other lawmakers from both parties who said Iraqi elections scheduled for January would be impossible unless this were done.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that the U.S. military intended to retake Falluja by the end of the year.

"We've got to take out the sanctuaries. We're going to have to sustain, tragically, some more casualties. Airstrikes don't do it; artillery doesn't do it. Boots on the ground do it," McCain said.

"And the longer we delay ...the more difficult the challenge is going to be and the more casualties we will incur," he said.

Sen. John Kyl, like McCain an Arizona Republican, said, "Allowing the Iraqis to make the decisions not to go into some of these sanctuaries, I think, turns out to have not been a good decision, which we're going to have to correct now by going in with our Marines and Army divisions."

Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, speaking on ABC, accused the administration of delaying an offensive out of concern it would hurt Bush's bid to win reelection on Nov. 2.

"The only thing I can figure as to why they're not doing it with a sense of urgency is that they don't want to do it before the election and they want to make it seem like everything is status quo," Biden said.

But Kyl said on CBS that time was also needed to train Iraqi troops to help secure areas recaptured from insurgents, and he disputed accusations Bush had not been open about the difficulties in Iraq.

McCain also called for enlarging the U.S. Army by 70,000 soldiers and the Marines by 20,000 to 25,000.

Kerry and other Democrats have said Bush plans to call up more part-time National Guard and Reserve troops after the November election to compensate for thinning ranks in the full-time military due to Iraq. The Bush campaign denied this.

Biden said disappointment with Bush's policies was bipartisan. "Dick Lugar, Joe Biden, Chuck Hagel, John McCain -- we are all on the same page. It is us and the administration. This has been incompetence so far," he said. (additional reporting by Sue Pleming)



Friday, September 17, 2004

 

Shrill Saletan

William Saletan at Slate writes about the candidates speaking to the National Guard Association....

----

Most Guard officers, however, refuse to admit that their institution is being abused. They gave Bush standing ovations on Tuesday when he told them that "you're fighting terrorist enemies in Iraq" and that the war was "necessary to defend America."

Kerry brought them a different message. "Far too many of you have been on the ground for far too long, much longer than was expected or promised," he reminded them Thursday. "Many of you are our first responders here at home: fire fighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians. To take you out of your communities is to take down our critical first line of defense. That's no way to protect America."

What response did Kerry get? Silence.

Those brave, loyal, hoodwinked Guardsmen. They think Bush is one of them. They don't understand that the only presidential candidate who's done the job they're doing now—risking life and shedding blood—is the guy on the other side.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

 

It's All About Priorities

The Associated Press has this story....

White House Wants to Cut FAA Budget

Thu Sep 16, 6:18 PM ET

By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration wants to trim the Federal Aviation Administration (news - web sites)'s budget for buying new air traffic control equipment at a time when more planes are in the air.

Air traffic controllers argue that more backup equipment could have mitigated the shutdown of a radio system at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday that left controllers unable to talk to pilots and caused a ripple effect of delays across the country.

Controllers have been asking the FAA (news - web sites) for another backup radio system for years, said Hamid Ghaffari, president of the local air traffic controllers union in Los Angeles.

"The response was, 'We don't have the funding,'" Ghaffari said.

The loss of voice contact with pilots caused at least five incidents where planes flew dangerously close to each other and delayed or canceled hundreds of flights.

FAA spokesman Greg Martin said the Los Angeles air traffic control center already has two backup systems.

Sept. 2 was the busiest day ever for the U.S. air traffic control system. The FAA forecasts a 24 percent increase in the number of planes in the sky — including passenger and cargo planes, general aviation and military aircraft — between this year and 2015.

But the administration has proposed cutting next year's FAA budget for equipment and facilities by 12.6 percent, from $2.862 billion to $2.5 billion. Both the House and the Senate have gone along with that figure so far in the budget process.

----

Air traffic controllers fear if Congress goes along with the cut it will force them to work with outdated equipment longer and prevent new backup systems from being installed.

Tom Brantley, president of the Professional Airways Systems Specialists union, said the systems that keep track of the planes in the centers between airport towers will soon reach their capacity.

"Cutting the budget by almost 14 percent is insane," said Brantley, who represents the people who maintain air traffic control equipment. "Seventy percent of the systems out there are in need of upgrade or replacement."

----


 

Oh, Those Details

The Washington Post has this story about some of the details Mr. Bush left out of his convention speech.

$3 Trillion Price Tag Left Out As Bush Details His Agenda

By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 14, 2004; Page A01

The expansive agenda President Bush laid out at the Republican National Convention was missing a price tag, but administration figures show the total is likely to be well in excess of $3 trillion over a decade.

A staple of Bush's stump speech is his claim that his Democratic challenger, John F. Kerry, has proposed $2 trillion in long-term spending, a figure the Massachusetts senator's campaign calls exaggerated. But the cost of the new tax breaks and spending outlined by Bush at the GOP convention far eclipses that of the Kerry plan.

Bush's pledge to make permanent his tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of 2010 or before, would reduce government revenue by about $1 trillion over 10 years, according to administration estimates. His proposed changes in Social Security to allow younger workers to invest part of their payroll taxes in stocks and bonds could cost the government $2 trillion over the coming decade, according to the calculations of independent domestic policy experts.

And Bush's agenda has many costs the administration has not publicly estimated. For instance, Bush said in his speech that he would continue to try to stabilize Iraq and wage war on terrorism. The war in Iraq alone costs $4 billion a month, but the president's annual budget does not reflect that cost.

Bush's platform highlights the challenge for both presidential candidates in trying to lure voters with attractive government initiatives at a time of mounting budget deficits. This year's federal budget deficit will reach a record $422 billion, and the government is expected to accumulate $2.3 trillion in new debt over the next 10 years, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported last week.

----

Via Eric Alterman.

 
Newsweek has this story:

It's Worse Than You Think
As Americans debate Vietnam, the U.S. death toll tops 1,000 in Iraq. And the insurgents are still getting stronger

----

U.S. forces are working frantically to train Iraqis for the thankless job of maintaining public order. The aim is to boost Iraqi security forces from 95,000 to 200,000 by sometime next year. Then, using a mixture of force and diplomacy, the Americans plan to retake cities and install credible local forces. That's the hope, anyway. But the quality of new recruits is debatable. During recent street demonstrations in Najaf, police opened fire on crowds, killing and injuring dozens. The insurgents, meanwhile, are recruiting, too. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once referred to America's foes in Iraq as "dead-enders," then the Pentagon maintained they probably numbered 5,000, and now senior military officials talk about "dozens of regional cells" that could call upon as many as 20,000 fighters.

Yet U.S. officials publicly insist that Iraq will somehow hold national elections before the end of January. The appointed council currently acting as Iraq's government under interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is to be replaced by an elected constitutional assembly—if the vote takes place. "I presume the election will be delayed," says the Iraqi Interior Ministry's chief spokesman, Sabah Kadhim. A senior Iraqi official sees no chance of January elections: "I'm convinced that it's not going to happen. It's just not realistic. How is it going to happen?" Some Iraqis worry that America will stick to its schedule despite all obstacles. "The Americans have created a series of fictional dates and events in order to delude themselves," says Ghassan Atiyya, director of the independent Iraq Foundation for Development and Democracy, who recently met with Allawi and American representatives to discuss the January agenda. "Badly prepared elections, rather than healing wounds, will open them."

----

It's not only that U.S. casualty figures keep climbing. American counterinsurgency experts are noticing some disturbing trends in those statistics. The Defense Department counted 87 attacks per day on U.S. forces in August—the worst monthly average since Bush's flight-suited visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003. Preliminary analysis of the July and August numbers also suggests that U.S. troops are being attacked across a wider area of Iraq than ever before. And the number of gunshot casualties apparently took a huge jump in August. Until then, explosive devices and shrapnel were the primary cause of combat injuries, typical of a "phase two" insurgency, where sudden ambushes are the rule. (Phase one is the recruitment phase, with most actions confined to sabotage. That's how things started in Iraq.) Bullet wounds would mean the insurgents are standing and fighting—a step up to phase three.

Another ominous sign is the growing number of towns that U.S. troops simply avoid. A senior Defense official objects to calling them "no-go areas." "We could go into them any time we wanted," he argues. The preferred term is "insurgent enclaves." They're spreading. Counterinsurgency experts call it the "inkblot strategy": take control of several towns or villages and expand outward until the areas merge. The first city lost to the insurgents was Fallujah, in April. Now the list includes the Sunni Triangle cities of Ar Ramadi, Baqubah and Samarra, where power shifted back and forth between the insurgents and American-backed leaders last week. "There is no security force there [in Fallujah], no local government," says a senior U.S. military official in Baghdad. "We would get attacked constantly. Forget about it."

----

As much as ordinary Iraqis may hate the insurgents, they blame the Americans for creating the whole mess. Three months ago Iraqi troops and U.S.-dominated "multinational forces" pulled out of Samarra, and insurgents took over the place immediately. "The day the MNF left, people celebrated in the streets," says Kadhim, the Interior spokesman. "But that same day, vans arrived in town and started shooting. They came from Fallujah and other places and they started blowing up houses." Local elders begged Allawi's government to send help. "The leaders of the tribes come to see us and they say, 'Really, we are scared, we don't like these people'," Kadhim continues. "But we just don't have the forces at the moment to help them." Last week negotiators reached a tentative peace deal, but it's not likely to survive long. The Iraqi National Guard is the only homegrown security force that people respect, and all available ING personnel are deployed elsewhere.

*Emphasis added.

Via The American Prospect Online.

Which calls to mind this quote quote:

My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.

Dick Cheney, Sunday, 14 September 2003 on Meet The Press

Based on that little piece of incompetence, I do not see how anyone would vote to let this Administration serve another 4 years.

 

Pessimism?

Dan Froomkin points to this article in the New York Times.

THE RECONSTRUCTION

U.S. Intelligence Shows Pessimism on Iraq's Future

By DOUGLAS JEHL

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 - A classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President Bush in late July spells out a dark assessment of prospects for Iraq, government officials said Wednesday.

The estimate outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war, the officials said. The most favorable outcome described is an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms.

"There's a significant amount of pessimism," said one government official who has read the document, which runs about 50 pages. The officials declined to discuss the key judgments - concise, carefully written statements of intelligence analysts' conclusions - included in the document.

The intelligence estimate, the first on Iraq since October 2002, was prepared by the National Intelligence Council and was approved by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under John E. McLaughlin, the acting director of central intelligence. Such estimates can be requested by the White House or Congress, but this one was initiated by the intelligence council under George J. Tenet, who stepped down as director of central intelligence on July 9, the government officials said.

----

The new estimate by the National Intelligence Council was approved at a meeting in July by Mr. [John E.] McLaughlin and the heads of the other intelligence agencies, the officials said.

Its pessimistic conclusions were reached even before the recent worsening of the security situation in Iraq, which has included a sharp increase in attacks on American troops and in deaths of Iraqi civilians as well as resistance fighters. Like the new National Intelligence Estimate, the assessments completed in January 2003 were prepared by the National Intelligence Council, which is led by Robert Hutchings and reports to the director of central intelligence. The council is charged with reflecting the consensus of the intelligence agencies. The January 2003 assessments were not formal National Intelligence Estimates, however, which means they were probably not formally approved by the intelligence chiefs.

 

Are You Pre-screened Enough?

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing for Wednesday 15 September 2004 contains this:

The White House can be a lonely place these days, particularly if you're a reporter trying to ask the president a question.

----

And don't bother trying to ask the president a question -- unless of course you're part of a pre-screened audience at a campaign event.

As far as I can tell, Bush hasn't actually answered a single question from a reporter since the several interviews he did in late August, just before the Republican National Convention. That's more than two weeks ago.

At least twice in the past week, reporters have resorted to shouting questions, and he's ignored them.

And of course Bush hasn't held anything remotely like a news conference since Aug. 23, when he took some questions on his Texas ranch.

----

Why is Mr. Bush afraid of the American people?

 

Good Editorial

The New York Times has a good editorial about Florida's election system.

September 16, 2004

The Return of Katherine Harris

very state has an obligation to run elections that are not only fair, but also appear fair to the average voter. After the debacle of 2000, Florida's officials should understand this better than anyone. But its top elections officer, Glenda Hood, is acting in ways that create a strong impression that she is manipulating the rules to help re-elect her boss's brother. After her maneuvers this week to try to put Ralph Nader on the ballot, she cannot be trusted to run an impartial election.

In Florida's 2000 election mess, Katherine Harris served simultaneously as Florida's secretary of state and as co-chairwoman of the state's Bush-Cheney campaign committee. In her official capacity, she repeatedly took actions that favored the campaign. This year has turned out to be more of the same. When Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Ms. Hood as secretary of state, he chose someone with a history of partisanship, as a Republican officeholder and as a Bush-Cheney elector in 2000. Now Ms. Hood's politics appear to be influencing her election duties.

She recently conducted a highly suspect voting-roll purge of felons. The voters who were to be taken off the list included more than 22,000 African-Americans, who generally vote heavily Democratic, but just 61 Hispanics, who tend to favor Republicans in Florida. She was forced to scrap the list.

In last month's primary, some people without photo identification were turned away without being told that they could vote if they signed affidavits affirming their identities. After the same thing happened in South Dakota this year, the Board of Elections there told every polling place to post signs advising people of their rights. Ms. Hood's office insists that voters need not be told of the affidavit option. Voter ID is often a partisan issue because poor people and members of other groups that are less likely to have identification often vote Democratic.

Most recently, Ms. Hood has played a suspect role in helping Mr. Nader get on Florida's ballot, where he would be likely to weaken John Kerry. A court has ruled against Mr. Nader's claim to have met the requirements to be on the ballot.

Last night, the state was again involved in suits and countersuits over a presidential election in Florida. Ms. Hood's role has been a disturbing one. Instead of waiting as an impartial bystander for the court's direction, she seems to be trying to thwart any ruling that would take Mr. Nader off the ballot. At one point, while the court ruling eliminating Mr. Nader was under appeal, Ms. Hood's office hurriedly directed every county to add Mr. Nader's name to the ballots that will soon be sent to overseas voters.

Granting legitimate candidates access to ballots is important, but officials should obey the law. Ms. Hood had no right to try to proceed with her own preferred outcome. It is hard to believe that she would have done the same thing if the candidate had been one likely to hurt President Bush.

The nation cannot afford another tainted election. Governor Bush should quickly find an elections professional or academic of unquestioned neutrality to run Florida's elections.

----

 

Hold Them Accountable

The Hold Them Accountable 2004 web site encourages us to hold this administration accountable for the incompetent way they have handled the Iraq situation.

I join them in their call for accountability.

Via Paul Glastris, guesting at Political Animal.

Given what we know now about Mr. Bush and his Administration, I don't understand how any reasonable person would vote to send this bunch back to Washington D.C. for another chance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

 

Why Is It...

...that we don't really care that much about teachers?

This article just makes you wonder what we're thinking about as a country.

Teachers Lose Tax Breaks for Supplies

By ANDREA ALMOND, Associated Press Writer

----

Because of a budget crunch, California has suspended a tax credit that reimbursed teachers up to $1,500 for classroom supplies. Meanwhile, a $250 federal tax deduction for teachers that helped defray out-of-pocket spending expired this year.

----

For young teachers at the lowest end of the pay scale, the loss of the tax credits is particularly hard.

"The end of the tax benefits is effectively a tax increase for teachers — people who spend thousands of their own dollars each day for their classrooms and who don't deserve a tax increase," said Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association.

Nationwide, teachers spent an average of $458 on school supplies, according to the National School Supply and Equipment Association, a Maryland-based trade group.

The National Education Association and some lawmakers are working to reinstate the federal teacher deduction, which was introduced in 2002 but expired at the end of 2003. Teachers are still entitled to write off business expenses, like other taxpayers, but the amount they spend often does not meet the threshold for taking a deduction.

By ditching its tax break, California joined most of the rest of the nation. National teacher organizations do not keep track, but it appears few states now offer teachers any relief at all.

It's just pathetic how we treat the people who teach our children.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

 

"...Bush did not comply with Air Force regulations...."

Newsweek weighs in on the Guard issue with this article.

Nation & World
The service question
A review of President Bush's Guard years raises issues about the time he served
By Kit R. Roane

Last February, White House spokesman Scott McClellan held aloft sections of President Bush's military record, declaring to the waiting press that the files "clearly document the president fulfilling his duties in the National Guard." Case closed, he said.

But last week the controversy reared up once again, as several news outlets, including U.S. News, disclosed new information casting doubt on White House claims.

A review of the regulations governing Bush's Guard service during the Vietnam War shows that the White House used an inappropriate--and less stringent--Air Force standard in determining that he had fulfilled his duty. Because Bush signed a six-year "military service obligation," he was required to attend at least 44 inactive-duty training drills each fiscal year beginning July 1. But Bush's own records show that he fell short of that requirement, attending only 36 drills in the 1972-73 period, and only 12 in the 1973-74 period. The White House has said that Bush's service should be calculated using 12-month periods beginning on his induction date in May 1968. Using this time frame, however, Bush still fails the Air Force obligation standard.

Moreover, White House officials say, Bush should be judged on whether he attended enough drills to count toward retirement. They say he accumulated sufficient points under this grading system. Yet, even using their method, which some military experts say is incorrect, U.S. News 's analysis shows that Bush once again fell short. His military records reveal that he failed to attend enough active-duty training and weekend drills to gain the 50 points necessary to count his final year toward retirement.

The U.S. News analysis also showed that during the final two years of his obligation, Bush did not comply with Air Force regulations that impose a time limit on making up missed drills. What's more, he apparently never made up five months of drills he missed in 1972, contrary to assertions by the administration. White House officials did not respond to the analysis last week but emphasized that Bush had "served honorably."

Some experts say they remain mystified as to how Bush obtained an honorable discharge. Lawrence Korb, a former top Defense Department official in the Reagan administration, says the military records clearly show that Bush "had not fulfilled his obligation" and "should have been called to active duty."

Bush signed his commitment to the Texas Air National Guard on May 27, 1968, shortly after becoming eligible for the draft. In his "statement of understanding," he acknowledged that "satisfactory participation" included attending "48 scheduled inactive-duty training periods" each year. He also acknowledged that he could be ordered to active duty if he failed to meet these requirements.

Slump. Bush's records show that he did his duty for much of the first four years of his commitment. But as the Vietnam War wound down, his performance slumped, and his attendance at required drills fell off markedly. He did no drills for one five-month period in 1972. He also missed his flight physical. By May 2, 1973, his superiors said they could not evaluate his performance because he "has not been observed."

Albert C. Lloyd Jr., a retired Air Force colonel who originally certified the White House position that Bush had completed his military obligation, stood by his analysis. After a reporter cited pertinent Air Force regulations from the period, he complained that if the entire unit were judged by such standards, "90 percent of the people in the Guard would not have made satisfactory participation."

Some other experts disagree. "There is no 'sometimes we have compliance and sometimes we don't,' " says Scott Silliman, a retired Air Force colonel and Duke University law professor. "That is a nonsensical statement and an insult to the Guard to suggest it."

The regulations must be followed, adds James Currie, a retired colonel and author of an official history of the Army Reserve. "Clearly, if you were the average poor boy who got drafted and sent into the active force," he says, "they weren't going to let you out before you had completed your obligation."

Via Brad DeLong.

 

What The Button Says


Do I really need to say anything more?

Monday, September 13, 2004

 

My Dinner With Ricky

Ok, so this is one of those Los Angeles things.

While eating at Jerry's Famous Deli, Ricky Jay sat at the table across from my wife and I.




The details are as follows:

So, oooo, ahhh.

Friday, September 10, 2004

 

Inflating Crowd Numbers

Dan Froomkin links to this article by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post...

Wall-to-Wall Supporters: It Sure Is Crowded in Here -- or Is It?

This is the time in the political calendar when soothsayers point to the size of crowds at rallies to see which candidate is producing more enthusiasm. The campaigns, well aware of this practice, can't resist putting their thumbs on the scale.

On Tuesday, correspondents from The Washington Post and the Washington Times counted the crowds at President Bush's three stops in Missouri, then compared the actual figure with the official Bush campaign figure:

• Lee's Summit: Actual attendance, 8,500. Bush count, 14,000.

• Sedalia: Actual attendance, 2,200. Bush count, 3,200.

• Columbia: Actual attendance, 8,000 to 9,000. Bush count, 14,000.

It seems that the Bush campaign is inflating its crowd counts by 45 to 75 percent. Some of this may be the result of people walking through metal detectors more than once, but there's clearly some old-fashioned crowd padding going on.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

 

Conflation Made Easy

As if to prove that everything with this Administration starts with 9/11, today, Dan Froomkin writes about White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan conflating the 1000th death in Iraq with 9/11.

Conflation Watch

Here's how Scott McClellan handled the questions about the milestone yesterday:

"Q Senator Kerry is calling it a tragic milestone, reaching 1,000 deaths in Iraq.

"MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we remember, honor and mourn the loss of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom. And we also remember those who lost their lives on September 11th. The best way to honor all those who have lost their life in the war on terrorism is to continue to wage a broad war and spread freedom throughout a dangerous part of the world so that we can transform that region of the world and make the world a safer place, and make America more secure.

"Q And you're convinced each one of those lives is worth it, Scott?

"MR. McCLELLAN: Each one -- well, let me say, when I say we remember, honor, mourn the loss of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we do so for those in Iraq and Afghanistan. We also remember those who lost their lives on September 11th, nearly three years ago today. And that's why I said it's important that we continue to wage a broad war on terrorism and that we work to spread freedom throughout the Middle East and transform that region so that we defeat the ideologies of hatred and tyranny.

"Q But the question is, for -- each of those families lost someone, a loved one, and each one of those is worth it -- that's the question.

"MR. McCLELLAN: Mark, I think -- I think of the cost we paid on September 11th, and September 11th changed the equation, as you've heard the President say."


 

Apparently, Mr. Bush Thinks He's Running For Dog Catcher

Two debates?

This article says the Mr. Bush is talking about having only two debates for the office of President of the United States.

How can he get away with this stuff?

Bush Likely to Bow Out of 1 Debate

By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 8, 2004; Page A08

President Bush may skip one of the three debates that have been proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates and accepted by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Republican officials said yesterday.

The officials said Bush's negotiating team plans to resist the middle debate, which was to be Oct. 8 in a town meeting format in the crucial state of Missouri.

The Bush-Cheney campaign announced that its debate negotiation team will be led by James A. Baker III, who was secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush. Baker headed the Bush campaign's Florida recount response in 2000 and is the current president's personal envoy on Iraqi debt resolution.

Baker negotiated debates in 1980, 1984, 1988 and 1992. As chief of staff to Bush's father in 1992, he took a cautious stance with the view that a sitting president has little to gain and much to lose in debates, according to accounts at the time.

Bush aides refused to discuss their opening position. Officials familiar with the issue said he plans to accept the commission's first debate, which is to focus on domestic policy, and the third one, which is to focus on foreign policy.

The audience for the second debate, to be at Washington University in St. Louis, was to be picked by the Gallup Organization. The commission said participants should be undecided voters from the St. Louis area.

A presidential adviser said campaign officials were concerned that people could pose as undecided when they actually are partisans.

"It's not a fear of the format," said the adviser, who refused to be identified to avoid annoying Bush. "They want two debates that are focused on clear differences on foreign and domestic policy. We benefit from the differences."

The Democratic team is led by Vernon E. Jordan Jr. The Republican team includes U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and campaign advisers Karen Hughes and Mary Matalin.

Washington University has set up a Web site saying the community "welcomes the nation and the world," has recruited 471 student volunteers and is holding weekly lectures on campaign issues.

The university was host for debates in 1992 and 2000. The commission picked the university in 1996 for a debate that was canceled after President Bill Clinton, an incumbent with a commanding lead in polls, accepted just two.

"That's kind of what we're hearing about the Bush thing right now," said Steve Givens, chairman of the university's debate committee.

Bush plans to accept debates at the University of Miami in Coral Gables on Sept. 30 and at Arizona State University in Tempe on Oct. 13. The campaign also plans to participate in a vice presidential debate Oct. 5 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Via Atrios who notes what he thinks the reasons are that the Mr. Bush's campaign team wants to duck a debate.

Atrios thinks that Mr. Bush just scared and can't handle questions from an actual, unscreen private citizen.

They might ask tough questions.

 

This Should Be A Huge Story

This is one of those articles where one starts out wanting to put important sections in bold to emphasize their importance, but if that happened, the whole story would be in bold.

Bush fell short on duty at Guard
Records show pledges unmet
September 8, 2004

This article was reported by the Globe Spotlight Team -- reporters Stephen Kurkjian, Francie Latour, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Michael Rezendes, and editor Walter V. Robinson. It was written by Robinson.

In February, when the White House made public hundreds of pages of President Bush's military records, White House officials repeatedly insisted that the records prove that Bush fulfilled his military commitment in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

But Bush fell well short of meeting his military obligation, a Globe reexamination of the records shows: Twice during his Guard service -- first when he joined in May 1968, and again before he transferred out of his unit in mid-1973 to attend Harvard Business School -- Bush signed documents pledging to meet training commitments or face a punitive call-up to active duty.

He didn't meet the commitments, or face the punishment, the records show. The 1973 document has been overlooked in news media accounts. The 1968 document has received scant notice.

On July 30, 1973, shortly before he moved from Houston to Cambridge, Bush signed a document that declared, ''It is my responsibility to locate and be assigned to another Reserve forces unit or mobilization augmentation position. If I fail to do so, I am subject to involuntary order to active duty for up to 24 months. . . " Under Guard regulations, Bush had 60 days to locate a new unit.

But Bush never signed up with a Boston-area unit. In 1999, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett told the Washington Post that Bush finished his six-year commitment at a Boston area Air Force Reserve unit after he left Houston. Not so, Bartlett now concedes. ''I must have misspoke," Bartlett, who is now the White House communications director, said in a recent interview.

And early in his Guard service, on May 27, 1968, Bush signed a ''statement of understanding" pledging to achieve ''satisfactory participation" that included attendance at 24 days of annual weekend duty -- usually involving two weekend days each month -- and 15 days of annual active duty. ''I understand that I may be ordered to active duty for a period not to exceed 24 months for unsatisfactory participation," the statement reads.

Yet Bush, a fighter-interceptor pilot, performed no service for one six-month period in 1972 and for another period of almost three months in 1973, the records show.

The reexamination of Bush's records by the Globe, along with interviews with military specialists who have reviewed regulations from that era, show that Bush's attendance at required training drills was so irregular that his superiors could have disciplined him or ordered him to active duty in 1972, 1973, or 1974. But they did neither. In fact, Bush's unit certified in late 1973 that his service had been ''satisfactory" -- just four months after Bush's commanding officer wrote that Bush had not been seen at his unit for the previous 12 months.

Bartlett, in a statement to the Globe last night, sidestepped questions about Bush's record. In the statement, Bartlett asserted again that Bush would not have been honorably discharged if he had not ''met all his requirements." In a follow-up e-mail, Bartlett declared: ''And if he hadn't met his requirements you point to, they would have called him up for active duty for up to two years."

That assertion by the White House spokesman infuriates retired Army Colonel Gerald A. Lechliter, one of a number of retired military officers who have studied Bush's records and old National Guard regulations, and reached different conclusions.

''He broke his contract with the United States government -- without any adverse consequences. And the Texas Air National Guard was complicit in allowing this to happen," Lechliter said in an interview yesterday. ''He was a pilot. It cost the government a million dollars to train him to fly. So he should have been held to an even higher standard."

Even retired Lieutenant Colonel Albert C. Lloyd Jr., a former Texas Air National Guard personnel chief who vouched for Bush at the White House's request in February, agreed that Bush walked away from his obligation to join a reserve unit in the Boston area when he moved to Cambridge in September 1973. By not joining a unit in Massachusetts, Lloyd said in an interview last month, Bush ''took a chance that he could be called up for active duty. But the war was winding down, and he probably knew that the Air Force was not enforcing the penalty."

But Lloyd said that singling out Bush for criticism is unfair. ''There were hundreds of guys like him who did the same thing," he said.

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 is clear to him that Bush ''gamed the system." And he agreed with Lloyd that Bush was not alone in doing so. ''If I cheat on my income tax and don't get caught, I'm still cheating on my income tax," Korb said.

After his own review, Korb said Bush could have been ordered to active duty for missing more than 10 percent of his required drills in any given year. Bush, according to the records, fell shy of that obligation in two successive fiscal years.

Korb said Bush also made a commitment to complete his six-year obligation when he moved to Cambridge, a transfer the Guard often allowed to accommodate Guardsmen who had to move elsewhere. ''He had a responsibility to find a unit in Boston and attend drills," said Korb, who is now affiliated with a liberal Washington think tank. ''I see no evidence or indication in the documents that he was given permission to forgo training before the end of his obligation. If he signed that document, he should have fulfilled his obligation."

The documents Bush signed only add to evidence that the future president -- then the son of Houston's congressman -- received favorable treatment when he joined the Guard after graduating from Yale in 1968. Ben Barnes, who was speaker of the Texas House of Representatives in 1968, said in a deposition in 2000 that he placed a call to get young Bush a coveted slot in the Guard at the request of a Bush family friend.

Bush was given an automatic commission as a second lieutenant, and dispatched to flight school in Georgia for 13 months. In June 1970, after five additional months of specialized training in F-102 fighter-interceptor, Bush began what should have been a four-year assignment with the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.

In May 1972, Bush was given permission to move to Alabama temporarily to work on a US Senate campaign, with the provision that he do equivalent training with a unit in Montgomery. But Bush's service records do not show him logging any service in Alabama until October of that year.

And even that service is in doubt. Since the Globe first reported Bush's spotty attendance record in May 2000, no one has come forward with any credible recollection of having witnessed Bush performing guard service in Alabama or after he returned to Houston in 1973. While Bush was in Alabama, he was removed from flight status for failing to take his annual flight physical in July 1972. On May 1, 1973, Bush's superior officers wrote that they could not complete his annual performance review because he had not been observed at the Houston base during the prior 12 months.

Although the records of Bush's service in 1973 are contradictory, some of them suggest that he did a flurry of drills in 1973 in Houston -- a weekend in April and then 38 days of training crammed into May, June, and July. But Lechliter, the retired colonel, concluded after reviewing National Guard regulations that Bush should not have received credit -- or pay -- for many of those days either. The regulations, Lechliter and others said, required that any scheduled drills that Bush missed be made up either within 15 days before or 30 days after the date of the drill.

Lechliter said the records push him to conclude that Bush had little interest in fulfilling his obligation, and his superiors preferred to look the other way. Others agree. ''It appears that no one wanted to hold him accountable," said retired Major General Paul A. Weaver Jr., who retired in 2002 as the Pentagon's director of the Air National Guard.

Via Brad DeLong.

In light of the Right-Wing hoopla over the war record of Mr. Kerry this story should be huge.

But most likely, it won't be.

Monday, September 06, 2004

 

The New Teflon President?

Admittidly, I do hold partisan political views, but nothing seems to stick to Mr. Bush.

Nothing at all.

Matthew Yglesias writes:

....In a rational universe, like the one I thought I lived in before these books were released, the following things would be true. When the man the president of the United States appointed to be his chief economic policy advisor resigned from the administration and wrote a book about how the president's economic policy was terrible, this would be terribly damaging to the president. It also would be the case that when the man the president of the United States appointed to be his chief counterterrorism advisor resigned from the administration and wrote a book about how the president's counterterrorism policy was terrible, this would be terribly damaging to the president. It also would be the case that when the president of the United States unveiled a second term economic policy agenda his administration's economists think is a bad idea that that would be terribly damaging to the president. It also would be the case that, when the president's deputy counterterrorism advisor decided his counterterrorism policy was so bad that he needed to resign and become his opponent's chief national security advisor that this would reflect poorly on the president. Last but by no means least, it would be the case that if the man the president appointed to be his chief envoy to the Middle East resigned in disgust and started wandering around town talking about how, in fact, "the f***ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth" (CORRECTION: That was Bush-supporter Tommy Franks, Bush's former envoy was General Tony Zinni who, without using profanity, said the whole gang in the Pentagon "ought to be gone and replaced". Apologies for the error, thanks to P.D. for noting it.) was making policy, well, that would damage the president.

Sadly, though, we don't live in that world. Instead we live in the world where no one cares about expertise, the capital's premiere newspaper is edited by a man who doesn't believe in judging the credibility of his paper's sources, and small inconvenient realities like the disgust felt for Bush's policies by all the top Republican experts goes almost unnoticed.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

 

The CEO-In-Chief

Mr. Bush ran as the CEO president, because, as we know, his previous stints as CEO were so successful.

Can we now add his current office to his list of CEO failures and move on?

Because if the CEO president does not listen to people who are trying to warn him, AND surrounds himself with incompetents who can neither do the task the CEO president has delegated to them or refuse to pass up pertinent information from other subordinates, AND refuses to replace these incompetents – WHY would anyone vote to give the bumbler another try at the office.

This ain’t Arbusto you know.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

 

Foreign Policy, Bush Administration Style

Matthew Yglesias reminds me of one serious bit of foreign policy in the news in recent days.

Nonproliferation Notes

Readers may recall that about a month ago I was dumbfounded by reports that the Bush administration was scuttling the verification component of the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. The Treaty would, if properly enforced, damage US interests not at all while making it harder for terrorists and rogue states to acquire nuclear weapons. The administration's official line on why they'd done this -- that it was too expensive -- seemed to seriously call into question their sanity. Verification may be expensive, but it could hardly be too expensive to reduce the single greatest security threat facing the nation.

The current issue of the Economist has a seriously buried lede explaining that the main motivation was, in fact, "the worries of Israel and Pakistan, two allies that want to keep the option of adding to their stockpiles." We scuttled a treaty that will keep bombs out of the hands of terrorists so that Israel and Pakistan (!) can build bigger arsenals? Israel and Pakistan! The same Pakistan whose chief nuclear scientist was operating a global proliferation market. The same Pakistan whose intelligence services built the Taliban and nurtured al-Qaeda in its early days. The same Pakistan whose military runs terrorist training camps. That Pakistan? Apparently so.

What Matthew was dumbfounded by was this article:

US backs out of nuclear inspections treaty

By Dafna Linzer in Washington
August 2, 2004

In a significant shift of US policy, the Bush Administration has announced that it will oppose provisions for inspections and verification as part of an international treaty to ban production of nuclear weapons materials.

For several years the US and others have been pursuing the treaty, which would ban new production by any state of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons.

At an arms control meeting in Geneva last week the US told other countries it supported a treaty, but not verification.

US officials, who have demonstrated scepticism in the past about the effectiveness of international weapons inspections, said they made the decision after concluding such a system would cost too much, require overly intrusive inspections and would not guarantee compliance with the treaty.

However, they declined to explain in detail how they believed US security would be undermined by creating a plan to monitor the treaty.

Arms control specialists said the change in the US position would greatly weaken any treaty and make it harder to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. They said the US move virtually killed a 10-year international effort to persuade countries such as India, Israel and Pakistan to accept some oversight of their nuclear production programs.

----
The Sydney Morning Herald

Matthew links to Laura Rozen's thoughts on the issue:

----

This administration is insane. I have no words.

Hard right conservatives and neocons have always disdained arms control treaties saying "Why bother? They can't be verified." But by killing the verification component of this treaty which would ban production of nuclear materials, they have surely made that a fait accompli. To what end? It surely couldn't hurt, and it's not like the US has such a good track record of intelligence on WMD issues in India, Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, or Libya.

And, in one of those moments where movies speak volums about real life, Matthew links to Brad DeLong:

Kurtz: "What did they tell you?"

Willard: "They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound."

Kurtz: "Are my methods unsound?"

Willard: "I don't see any method, at all, sir."

Friday, September 03, 2004

 

So, There Was No Connection

This is just classic.

WASHINGTON - Two former Vietnam prisoners of war who appear in ads attacking Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry were appointed by the Bush administration to a panel advising the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The former POWs in the ad, Kenneth Cordier and Paul Galanti, serve on the VA's 12-member Former POW Advisory Committee. VA Secretary Anthony Principi appointed Cordier in 2002 and Galanti in 2003.

Matt Kelly, Associated Press

It's so brazen.

Of all the Vietnam vets that could be on the committee, 2 of the 12 are from the Swiftboat Partisans for Mr. Bush.

Yeah, I'm so sure there was no connection.

You're left with your mouth open watching these people operate.

 

Mr. Bush Is Clearly Not Running On His Record

William Saletan at Slate has a few problems with Mr. Bush.

NEW YORK—For $2.4 trillion, guess what word—other than "a," "and," and "the"—occurs most frequently in the acceptance speech George W. Bush delivered tonight.

The word is "will." It appears 76 times. This was a speech all about what Bush will do, and what will happen, if he becomes president.

Except he already is president. He already ran this campaign. He promised great things. They haven't happened. So, he's trying to go back in time. He wants you to see in him the potential you saw four years ago. He can't show you the things he promised, so he asks you to envision them. He asks you to be "optimistic." He asks you to have faith.

"Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb and found the strength to climb them," said Bush. "Now, because we have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach and greatness in our future."

Recession. Unemployment. Corporate fraud. A war based on false premises that has cost us $200 billion and nearly a thousand American lives. They're all hills we've "been given to climb." It's as though Bush wasn't president. As though he didn't get the tax cuts he wanted. As though he didn't bring about postwar Iraq and authorize the planning for it. All this was "given," and now Bush can show up, three and a half years into his term, and start solving the problems some other president left behind.

Via Atrios at Eschaton

Thursday, September 02, 2004

 

The Republican National Convention

So, here’s how I see the Republican National Convention going up to this point...

  1. Wrap yourself as tight as you can in the memory of 9/11. In fact, hold your convention in New York just days before the 3rd anniversary of those attacks.

    No one will notice or think it’s crass or inappropriate or anything.

    And if someone asks what about how to fund education, remind them that everything changed that day in 2001 and that George W. Bush is a war president who makes decisions.

  2. Say you’re going to be optimistic and then don’t be...use the old tried and true bait and switch tactic. You’re getting good at it.

    In fact, be downright angry at the podium.

    Wild-eyed is even better!

    Republicans need learn how to embrace their inner John Kerry hatred. How dare he challenge Mr. Bush in this election?!?!

  3. Attack John Kerry.

    Attack, attack, attack.

    Only wimps run on their record.

  4. Avoid discussing policy.

    In fact, avoid even the slightest hint of policy discussion. If someone asks about an actual policy, remind the questioner of 9/11 and the president’s steely resolve.

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