Friday, August 13, 2004

Chris Matthews plays Hardball

Chris Matthews bitchslaps John O'Neill of Smear Boat Veterans for Bush. Highlights from the transcript:

MATTHEWS: Gentlemen, first of all, according to this Associated Press story, Kerry got a Purple Heart for getting shrapnel in his left arm above the elbow.  If the shrapnel had hit him in the eye, the doctor said it could have blinded him.  No. 2, he was wounded with a piece of shrapnel on February 20, this time in the left thigh.  Doctors decided to leave the shrapnel in place—it is still in his leg—rather than make a wider opening to remove it. 

The third time, he got it from a dangerous situation in March of that year, life-threatening.  A mine exploded near Kerry‘s swift boat and enemy snipers were shooting around him.  He won the Silver Star for chasing—beaching his swift boat, chasing after some V.C. in V.C. territory and killing one of the V.C.  He won his Bronze for saving the life of Mr.  Rassmann, as he pulled him into the boat in enemy territory....

All of this is true.  And you‘re building a case against the guy on behalf of a guy running for president with absolutely no military experience in the field....

Well, I‘ve already heard enough that he‘s done more than I ever did for my country and a lot more than anybody else—and more than the president.

Oliver Willis has more. Unlike me, he even includes some of O'Neill's comments. (I would've -- but the lying a**hole is getting too much attention as it is.) I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Why is every GOP smear campaign against John Kerry treated as legitimate news? "Media whores" is an apt description.

This smear campaign may in fact be fizzling. The guy who cuts my hair is kind of a bellwether -- he's conservative, but not ignorant. (Yes, there are a few.) There's a chance he might even vote for Kerry, if he doesn't sit this one out altogether. And today he dismissed O'Neill and his gang as liars. John McCain's denunciation was enough for him.

Pierce thinks Laura Bush should put a sock in it

Pierce Altercates. Laura Bush's lecture on stem cell research didn't sit well with him:

We all recall that Hitlery tried to sneak the Russian Red Army into the country under the guise of reforming the health-care system, but shouldn't we be a bit alarmed as well that a back-country librarian from Level Crossing, Texas is out there explaining cutting-edge science to the nation?  Where in hell is the President's Council On Bioethics?  (Probably either bleeding people with leeches or booking tours to Lourdes.)  I mean, would I ask Gregor Mendel where the biography section is?.....

You do the research to find out IF the little critters will perform as advertised. What you don't do is choke off the inquiry because something MIGHT not work out, and might get Jesus pissed in the bargain.  And you damned sure don't send your wife, the librarian, out to run the ball on the issue for you.  God, it was insufferable.  All those devastated families, like mine, having our little heads patted, and being warned not to get our tiny hopes up, all the while being talked down to out of a family of failures, spoiled children, and international sex tourists.

If Laura chooses to come off the bench -- and she did -- then she's fair game for criticism.

Chris Matthews kicks John O'Neill's lying ass

Sometimes I get frustrated with Chris Matthews. It's as if, having worked for Democrats on Capitol Hill, he feels he has to bend over backward to prove he's not biased. When he interviewed Richard Clarke, I laughed out loud as Clarke kept steering him back on course: "Let's stick to the facts, Chris."

But tonight, ol' Chris really did play hardball with John O'Neill of Swift Boat Liars for Bush. When the transcript is available, I'll post highlights -- but for now, here's the Cliff's Notes version:

The Navy saw fit to give Kerry all those medals. Every man who actually served WITH him on those Swift boats says he displayed courage, leadership, and good judgment. None of you served with him, so why should I listen to you?

John Kerry served this country -- and did more for it than Bush ever did.

Way to go, Chris. (It's about time.)

Sensitivity training for the GOP

Over the last couple of days, we've been subjected to a lot of Republican snarking about John Kerry's comment on being "more sensitive" in how we operate in the war on terror.

(And he's bloody well right. Invading Iraq, p***ing off the entire Muslim world, boosting al Qaeda recruitment and making Osama bin Laden look like a prophet did NOT make us safer.)

Anyroad (as Kerry's friend John Lennon would say)......Over at Liberal Oasis, you'll find a handy compendium of all the GOPers in this administration who have employed the S-word. (Although they missed Commander Codpiece himself, using it in his bogus inaugural address.)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Swift Boat Liars for Bush

Digby sums it up:

Just keep in mind that the swift boat smear is being done to obscure the fact that our great wartime leader couldn't even fulfill his pathetic little obligation to guard the Alamo during the Vietnam war, which is emblematic of his terrible handling of the war in Iraq and the threat of Islamic fundamentalism. Character will out. That's all it is. And that all of these so-called patriots are willing to smear a man who volunteered and actually served in order to cover for this sad little fellow who never spent a minute outside the cozy comfort of his daddy's protection says a lot more about them than it does about Kerry.

'I don't really know what Kerry plans to do....'

I've heard that comment from quite a few people -- and I always tell them: It's not your fault.

Nor is it John Kerry's fault: he's out there on the campaign trail every day, telling people what he proposes to do as president.

Frankly, it's the media's fault. By and large, the "mainstream" media are NOT covering the issues. They're all over every GOP-sponsored smear campaign; when Chinless Ed Gillespie or Matt Drudge points in a given direction, our pack of newshounds dutifully goes tearing off as instructed, in full cry. But issues? Forget that.

So if you want to know where Kerry stands on the issues, you need to do a little research. Fortunately, this is not difficult. As the man himself said in his speech to the Democratic National Convention:

I've told you about our plans for the economy, for education, for health care, for energy independence. I want you to know more about them. So now I'm going to say something that Franklin Roosevelt could never have said in his acceptance speech: Go to

Whether you're looking for an overview or the details, it's all there. From the issues page, you can download a book that covers everything, or you can follow links to specific topics -- like Kerry's plan to improve health care and education while cutting the deficit, his proposed tax reforms, his health care proposal, and his strategy for achieving energy independence.

Kerry's telling the nation what he plans to do -- but it'll be a snowy day in hell before our trivia-obsessed news media covers that story. So go check it out for yourself.

Bookman examines the record

Contrary to popular belief, we're not all knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers here in the southeastern U.S. Here's Jay Bookman in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

When the president said in the aftermath of Sept. 11 that he wanted Osama bin Laden dead or alive, he didn't mean that he wanted bin Laden alive somewhere in Pakistan, out of U.S. reach and still plotting terror three years later. When Bush stood on an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, to declare victory in Iraq with a "Mission Accomplished" banner artfully placed in the background, he could not have imagined that 15 months later that mission would remain many American lives and many billions of dollars short of accomplished.

On the domestic front, the record isn't any better. Bush did manage to push two major tax cuts through Congress, but those cuts supposedly had a purpose beyond enriching the top 1 percent and adding trillions of dollars to the national debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay. By official White House estimates, those tax cuts were supposed to create several million jobs, but three years later, very few of those jobs have materialized. And to the dismay of true fiscal conservatives, Democratic as well as Republican, Bush has expanded nondefense spending more quickly than any president in 50 years.

Most voters know all that now, at least on some level. Some will vote for Bush in spite of that record, in many cases out of loyalty to the man they see as their side's leader in the culture wars. But others are looking for someone to lead the nation, not a cause, and if Kerry can convince a majority of those voters that he is capable of the job, he will be our next president.

That part about the expansion of nondefense spending has me stumped. What in the hell is Bush spending it on? It's not education; he hasn't funded his own "No Child Left Behind" mandate. It's not veterans' benefits; he keeps trying to cut those. It's not homeland security; just ask New York. Halliburton's backed up a fleet of armored trucks to the U.S. Treasury -- but that counts as defense spending. So where's it going?

Kerry nails Bush on prescription drug issue

There's a reason the big pharmaceutical companies have donated big bucks to the Bush campaign -- and John Kerry spells it out:

Kerry said Bush is standing in the way of bipartisan efforts in Congress to allow drug imports from Canada. He compared the prices of popular drugs in the United States and Canada, noting they were close to more than twice as expensive stateside.

"George Bush stood right there and said, 'Nope, we're not going to help people to have lower cost drugs in America, we're going to help the big drug companies get a great big windfall," Kerry said.

"It's a monopoly and it's been put in place by George Bush and his friends and it's costing you a whole bunch of extra money and it's wrong," he added.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

How much of a hack is Porter Goss?

In Slate, Fred Kaplan poses the question, "How much of a hack is Bush's CIA nominee?" -- and supplies some answers. For example, there's Porter Goss's reaction to the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative:

One would think that a former CIA spy might be appalled by reports that a White House official had publicly exposed the identity of an undercover agent, especially as an act of political retaliation against the agent's spouse. The blatant politicization of intelligence is, or should be, anathema to any professional spy—or prospective CIA director.

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

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

Jay Rockefeller got that right. If by some fluke Goss gets confirmed -- highly unlikely, since this ain't 2002 and congressional Democrats have located their cojones -- President Kerry will have to dismiss him on January 20, 2005.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Shame on the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush

From the Wall Street Journal:

Shame on the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush
John Kerry saved my life. Now his heroism is being questioned.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From me to you

Dear Sen. McCain:

Just last week, you called upon the White House to renounce the dishonest "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" smear campaign against your friend and colleague Sen. John Kerry.

Bush & Co. refused.

And yet you rewarded this behavior by campaigning with G.W. Bush in Florida today.

Senator, have you no principles?

Linda L. Whitener

Monday, August 09, 2004

Kerry's right

The new jobs aren't as good as the old jobs. From the LA Times:

Green Bay was the nation's fifth-fastest-growing job market in June. The previous month, it tied Laredo, Texas, for first place.

But Steve Anderson sees little to celebrate.

"Supposedly there's a whole mess of new jobs being created, but they're not jobs we can live with," said Anderson, a 50-year-old factory worker whose career in manufacturing will come to an end today.

"Look at this," he said, leafing through a stack of recent job postings. "They're paying $9 an hour. Five years ago, it would have paid maybe $18…. This one is paying $12…. Here's one for $8.75…. These are the great new jobs that are opening up in Green Bay."

While that's powerful anecdotal evidence, the numbers back it up. Yet the Bushies keep telling us we've turned the corner. What else could you expect from someone whose life has consisted of one soft landing after another? He wouldn't recognize financial difficulty if it bit him on the rump.

'Al-Qaida will do whatever it takes to assure Bush is re-elected'

According to the conventional wisdom, an al Qaeda attack prior to the November election would throw the election to Bush. British journalist Gwynne Dyer explains why al Qaeda might come to Bush's rescue: giving the Bush administration a reason to attack Afghanistan, and at least a flimsy pretext for invading Iraq, al-Qaida's attacks have paid off handsomely. U.S. troops are now the unwelcome military rulers of more than 50 million Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq, and people there and elsewhere are turning to the Islamist radicals as the only force in the Muslim world that is willing and able to defy American power.

It is astonishing how little this is understood in the United States. I know of no American analyst who has even made the obvious point that al-Qaida wants Bush to win next November's presidential election and continue his interventionist policies in the Middle East for another four years, and will act to save Bush from defeat if necessary.

It probably would not do so unless Bush's number were slipping badly, for any terrorist attack on U.S. soil carries the risk of stimulating resentment against the current administration for failing to prevent it.

Certainly another attack on the scale of 9-11 would risk producing that result, even if al-Qaida had the resources for it. But a simple truck bomb in some U.S. city center a few months before the election, killing just a couple of dozen Americans, could drive voters back into Bush's arms and turn a tight election around. Al-Qaida is clever enough for that.

Credit goes to The Bartender for the original link -- and for spelling it out in no uncertain terms: ...if al-Qaeda really means what it says -- and it always has in the past -- it wants to do whatever it can to defeat Kerry and keep Bush, the man who has done so much to create the conditions for al-Qaeda's success, in the White House.

This makes perfect sense to me. Bush has played right into bin Laden's hands, so why wouldn't al Qaeda want to keep him in the White House?

Reasonable doubts

From William Raspberry:

The president, locked in a tight race for reelection, has discovered that he is most vulnerable on matters such as the economy and other domestic issues -- and strongest in the polls on matters directly related to national security and fighting terrorism. Would the guy who was willing to serve up "cooked" intelligence to justify an avoidable war be reluctant to head back to the kitchen if his job were on the line? ....

When our president tells us that our security is at risk, that attack is imminent -- when the shepherd boy tells us that the wolf is already among sheep -- we need to be able to believe him, without doubt or reservation.

As I recall Aesop's fable, the shepherd boy survived his mendacity, losing only his job. It was the sheep that took the hit.

Bush & Co. are now peddling the notion that going to war in Iraq wasn't their mistake -- they were the victims of bad intelligence. That excuse works only if you ignore Cheney's repeated treks out to Langley -- to ensure CIA analysts produced intel that met White House specifications -- and Doug Feith's little custom intelligence operation over at the Pentagon.

Raspberry's right: We need a president we can believe. And Bush hasn't got a shred of credibility left.

Digby gets the details right

Digby notes a little-known fact:

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

So often in this election year, I've noticed bloggers getting their facts straight -- while the "journalists" who actually get PAID for their reporting just can't be bothered with trivial details. Such is the sorry state of the Fourth Estate.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Who's the flip-flopper?

Richard Cohen knows:

Bush also declared himself a determined unilateralist, kissing off treaties and understandings and even spurning NATO's help in Afghanistan. Now, though, the unilateralist of old is sending Colin Powell around the world, seeking alms and arms for Iraq. Flip-flop.

Bush would not negotiate with North Korea. He did. Flip-flop.

Bush told the United Nations to butt out of Iraq. Now he wants it in. Flip-flop.

The president opposed creating the Department of Homeland Security. Soon after, his strong opposition apparently slipped his mind and he flip-flopped his way to an embrace. Bush later opposed the creation of the Sept. 11 commission, but now he cannot thank it enough. He did not want his chief aides -- Condoleezza Rice, for instance -- to testify publicly before it but relented in the face of popular opposition. Flip-flop. He himself would not testify for all sorts of hallowed constitutional reasons and then, of course, did. Flip-flop. He insisted, though, on taking Dick Cheney with him, the functional equivalent of bringing the textbook to the exam -- not exactly a flip-flop, I grant you, but such a blatant admission of ineptitude that I am moved to include it nonetheless.