Saturday, June 05, 2004


I wasn't among his fans -- which will come as no surprise to any reader of this blog -- but I think John Kerry's tribute is entirely appropriate.

Friday, June 04, 2004

George Tenet: Fall Guy

George Tenet certainly shares some responsibility for the intelligence failures that occurred during his tenure as CIA director. The person in charge is ultimately responsible (a concept that seems to elude the current commander-in-chief).

But I really don't think it's fair for Tenet to be the administration's fall guy -- not when Dick Cheney made frequent trips to CIA headquarters to check out the intel relative to Iraq. The VP's presence and comments left no doubt among CIA staffers as to the conclusions he wanted them to reach. From what I've read, CIA analysts were intimidated -- precisely the result Cheney sought to achieve.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Tenet resigns

Keith Olbermann's take:

"Does jumping off the Titanic once the bow is out of the water count as a personal decision?"

War president

Bill Maher on "Larry King Live":

"If we're going to be at war and need a war president, I want a president who's been to war. John Kerry understands war in a way George Bush never will."

More here.

In 1944, we really were welcomed as liberators

George Bush is in France this weekend for ceremonies commemorating the the Normandy invasion -- and French officials are afraid he'll inflame anti-American sentiment by comparing the D-Day landings to the invasion of Iraq.

According to the London Guardian:

Advisers close to Jacques Chirac have let it be known that any reference to Iraq during the 60th anniversary of the Allied invasion of France on Sunday would be ill-advised and unwelcome....

"[Bush] had better not go too far down the road of making a historical comparison because it's likely to backfire on him," said a source close to President Chirac.

Laurent Fabius, head of Mr Chirac's governing UMP party, said of Mr Bush: "He represents the exact opposite of everything we admire about America."

I know just how you feel, Mr. Fabius. And remember: We didn't elect him.

Teresa tells it like it is

From AP via Boston Globe:

Teresa Heinz Kerry criticized President Bush yesterday, arguing that his push to invade Iraq "exacerbated, out of control, terrorism around the world" while alienating allies.

"The option was to do the job and finish Afghanistan, and then build a coalition to combat terrorism," the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry told relatives of servicemembers....

Heinz Kerry spent about an hour with nine residents who have husbands, sons, and a niece serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. They showed her photos of their loved ones, some still in their frames.

Joe and Barbara Wyatt talked about their two sons serving in the Marines. One survived a mortar attack in Karbala last year, just days after Bush's "bring 'em on" comment. Joe Wyatt contrasted the stance of Heinz Kerry and her husband with what he called the "dime store cowboy attitude" displayed by Bush and his top officials. "This war is a disaster," he said. "I'm so glad that John Kerry is taking the high road in his campaign." 

Our first MBA president*

Josh Marshall -- who's been all over the Chalabi mess for days -- updates us on the current state of the administration:

...beside the possibility that the White House's favored Iraqi exile was an Iranian agent, that the spy chief just got canned, that the OSD is wired to polygraphs, and that the president has had to retain outside counsel in the investigation into which members of his staff burned one of the country's own spies, I'd say the place is being run like a pretty well-oiled machine.

The media used to go on ad nauseam about our first MBA president* and the business-school management style he was bringing to the White House. Having worked with more MBAs than I care to remember, I'd say Dubya's done just that.

Bush lawyers up

From the Knight Ridder Washington bureau (via Liberal Oasis):

President Bush has held discussions with a private attorney about possibly representing him in an ongoing grand jury investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA officer to a newspaper columnist, the White House confirmed Wednesday.

Two questions immediately come to mind:

1) Why retain counsel? Atrios has the answer:

If after the fact he knew who [leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak], then he would likely be guilty of being an accessory after the fact for actively covering it up, depending on how his public statements, etc... diverge from the facts. And, even if not guilty of being an accessory, he could still face charges of "misprision of a felony" -- of knowing about it and not coming forward.

2) Why outside counsel? Back to Knight Ridder for the answer:

...the consultation of an outside attorney is likely related to a decision during the Whitewater investigation of the Clinton administration, in which White House attorneys couldn't assert executive privilege if asked about their conversations with the president on a possibly criminal matter. A private attorney, however, would be able to assert attorney-client privilege.

Remember, this is the guy who was gonna "restore honor and dignity to the White House." Dubya definitely has something to hide.

Another reason we'd be safer with Kerry in the White House

This week, columnist Thomas Oliphant explained the connection between oil and terrorism -- and described John Kerry's innovative plan to end the US petroleum habit. Highlights follow, but you need to read the whole thing.

For those who think Kerry thinks small, his determination to end nearly 40 years of dangerous dependence on imported oil from the Middle East is powerful refutation....For $20 billion a year or so, the United States is hooked on a substance as dangerous to its security as heroin. The two million barrels of oil we import from the Middle East every day does more than bleed our economy and produce periodic supply and price crises. It also gives clout to regimes (above all, Saudi Arabia) that continue to finance the fanaticism that is the other major, long-range incubator of terrorism.

Bush's Saudi pals will do their part to ease the current supply situation just enough to stop the price spiral and give the president something to crow about while he is running for reelection. Then, with the election behind him, the same, sad story will start all over again....

Kerry argues that, with the right mix of policies, the dependence can be eliminated in a decade, and that there is a bipartisan majority in Congress almost desperate to commit itself to this given real presidential leadership. Even before his presidential campaign began, Kerry and John McCain proposed a program to reverse the decline in fuel efficiency and raise the fleet average to 36 miles per gallon over the same decade.

Kerry has also made clear that the same political spirit can leave room for cleaner coal technologies and enhanced natural gas production. On top of that, he offers a crash program worthy of the term in order to boost production and use of renewables in electricity generation and move toward an automobile industry that promotes hydrogen over Hummers.

This kind of energy policy can produce a mature relationship with Saudi Arabia, one based on our interests and security instead of our dependence. The status quo, by contrast, only fuels the conditions that will continue to produce terrorists for decades.

Bush is well aware of the political power in Kerry's message. That is why, rather than respond to it, he blew several million dollars in campaign cash last month falsely claiming that Kerry favors higher gasoline taxes.

(Incidentally, Kerry's plan will create jobs, too.)

Class warfare: Tax cuts for management, job losses for employees

Last year, Dubya rolled into Canton, Ohio -- where he used the Timken Co. as a backdrop to tout his tax cuts and their alleged role in job creation. (It so happens that company chairman W.R. "Tim" Timken, Jr. is one of Bush's elite "Ranger" fundraisers.)

Now, Timken is threatening to close three factories unless workers represented by the United Steelworkers of America agreed to unspecified concessions.

"To me this is all about corporate greed and corporate terrorism," said Pat Eslich, a die setter/operator at Timken for 16 years. "We've made every [productivity] goal they've asked us for. The terrorism comes from scaring the workers that their jobs won't be around. They keep telling us, be competitive, be competitive, be competitive. We do that, and yet they still ship our jobs overseas."

Anybody want to take bets on whether "Ranger Tim" Timken's taken any pay cuts lately?

Once again, the chickenhawks have other priorities

In a previous post, I mentioned Jack Flynn -- the Democratic challenger running against Sue Myrick in North Carolina's 9th District.

In his keynote speech at the recent 9th District Democratic Convention, Flynn described his recent visit to the US military hospital at Landstuhl, where he saw everything the Bush administration doesn’t want us to see -- like the young enlisted man who'd lost his right eye, his right arm, and his right leg.

As Flynn pointed out, the VA used to lead the way in state-of-the-art prosthetics -- but even as our troops are losing limbs in Iraq, Bush is cutting the VA's prosthetics budget. When the Supreme Court foisted Bush off on us back in December 2000, the VA's prosthetics budget was 75 percent larger than it is today.

And while we're on the subject, let's not forget that this trigger-happy administration has also cut hazardous duty pay for troops in the war zone as well as funds for educating the children of military personnel. (The nation can't afford such luxuries -- not when the wealthiest Americans are in dire need of a tax cut.)

During the 2000 campaign, Dick Cheney (the same guy who had five deferments and "other priorities" in the Vietnam era) told military personnel that "help is on the way."

If this is his idea of help, I'd hate to see what hindrance looks like.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Bush-Cheney caught with pants ablaze

Some facts from the Washington Post:

Kerry did not question the war on terrorism, has proposed repealing tax cuts only for those earning more than $200,000, supports wiretaps, has not endorsed a 50-cent gasoline tax increase in 10 years, and continues to support the education changes, albeit with modifications.

Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is unprecedented -- both in speeches and in advertising.

Three-quarters of the ads aired by Bush's campaign have been attacks on Kerry.

There you have it: The Bush-Cheney campaign lies like a rug.

And when 75 percent of the BC04 advertising is negative, it simply proves their own record is indefensible: they can't run on it. So they're attacking John Kerry's record -- and lying about it as well.

Memorial Day

All morning, I've been thinking about the veterans in my family: my father (US Air Force, WWII), my Uncle Jackie (US Navy, WWII and Korea), and my significant other (US Army, Vietnam). All three have joined Veterans for Kerry.

My cousin Stephanie retired from the Army about a year ago. On September 11, she was working at the Pentagon; fortunately, she was in a meeting on the other side of the building when the plane hit. Stephanie's father is a retired Naval officer.

Dad's cousin David, who passed away a couple of years ago, served in the Navy -- and in December 1941, he was stationed at Pearl Harbor. The family endured two agonizing days before David was able to call home and let them know he was all right. David's wife, Frances, is still with us; she served as a codebreaker in the WAVES.

In short, several members of this family have served with distinction. I'm familiar with the hardships they endured. That's one reason I find it so appalling to see George W. Bush -- who sent American troops to die in Iraq under false pretenses when he wouldn't even honor his own National Guard commitment -- presiding over Memorial Day observances this weekend. His very presence at those ceremonies is an insult to America's veterans.

(Usually I like to offer something constructive along with the rant, but in this case I simply had to vent.)

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Shiite Republicans

That's what Molly Ivins calls 'em -- but the breed is not confined to Texas.

The NC House of Representatives is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, with 60 members from each party. A few days ago, the GOP state Executive Committee voted to ban Co-Speaker Richard Morgan from holding any party post for five years.

Morgan's crime? Forming a governing coalition with the Democrats. He led a group of five Republican House members in organizing the coalition, and he shares the speakership with Democrat Jim Black of Mecklenburg County. In addition to deciding which bills come up for votes, the co-speakers play a key role in deciding how the state's budget will be allocated. In other words, they found a way to break the legislative gridlock and get things done. Which is why we sent 'em to Raleigh in the first place.

When I was growing up, that kind of cooperation was the norm. Politics was the art of compromise. Now these Shiite Republicans are so hell-bent on screwing the Democrats, they don't give a rat's ascot about accomplishing anything.

If you didn't get anything done at work, you'd get fired. I only wish NC voters would have sense enough to fire the perpetrators of this idiocy.

Coming soon: My take on suckers who lack the sense to vote in their own best interests.

Trolling for fools

Hal Crowther's work appears in various alternative newspapers around the nation, and I only wish he had a wider audience. I don't think anyone musters up righteous indignation quite as effectively as Crowther. A sample, from his latest screed:

I don't think it's accurate to describe America as polarized between Democrats and Republicans, or between liberals and conservatives. It's polarized between the people who believe George Bush and the people who do not. Thanks to some contested ballots in a state governed by the president's brother, a once-proud country has been delivered into the hands of liars, thugs, bullies, fanatics and thieves. The world pities or despises us, even as it fears us. What this election will test is the power of money and media to fool us, to obscure the truth and alter the obvious, to hide a great crime against the public trust under a blood-soaked flag. The most lavishly funded, most cynical, most sophisticated political campaign in human history will be out trolling for fools. I pray to God it doesn't catch you.

Also worthwhile is his denunciation of Faux News.

Why, indeed?

Why is it that in our ports all across this country, we still don't have the inspection of containers that are coming into our nation? Why is it that our trains and other forms of transportation don't have the protection that we know would make us safer? Why is it that chemical plants and nuclear facilities still don't have the plans in place -- and the protections in place -- that are necessary?....

I'm not going to stand in front of you as a potential president and say that you can protect every single place and harden every single target in the country. All Americans know better than that....What we can do is protect against catastrophe. What we can do is protect the most logical places for the largest potential damage and danger.

And that's the responsibility of a president.
-- John Kerry

Just observe container ships entering the port of New Orleans or Charleston -- as I have -- and consider the implications of a nuclear device or dirty bomb in the harbor.

Then ask yourself if we can afford the Bush administration's inaction on homeland security. What we needed was inspection of containers and protection for nuclear plants; what we got was a color-coded "warning" system.

As my significant other observed, that color-coded crap is about as useful as the "duck and cover" routine we used to practice at school back during the Cold War...diving under our desks to avoid the fallout from a nuclear bomb.