Friday, September 03, 2004

Welcome to Bushville: Where Up Is Down and Wrong Is Right 

At a campaign stop today, President George W. Bush lauded his administration's handling of the economy, citing among other things a report indicating that unemployment had declined by one-tenth of a percent in the last month.

But the vast amount of that decrease is attributable to people whose unemployment benefits have expired. They're still unemployed -- they're just not counted for statistical purposes by the Labor Department.

The real unemployment rate in the United States is unknown, but it's safe to estimate that its in the double digits.

Meanwhile, Medicare premiums for elderly Americans will rise by more than 11 percent next year, the biggest hike in the 40-year history of the program.

As for job creations during Bush's tenure, there has been a net loss of at least one million jobs. The four-year lag in the jobs numbers is the first net decrease since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Bush claims that his tax decreases for the wealthiest Americans have spurred the economy. But, as usual, he's lying.

The inability of half the American electorate to see through these lies is more disturbing than Bush's abysmal performance.

Four more years of this guy and the country will be ruined well into the 21-Century. Wake up, people.

Billie Roberts 1910-2004 

I met the late Wilhemina Roberts in 2000, when I visited her in the nursing home. At the time, I was gathering background for a Riverfront Times profile of MSD critic Tom Sullivan. Roberts' obituary, which appeared in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch mentioned that she suffered from Alzheimer's disease. But when I interviewed her, she was still sharp as a tack. I'd even go so far as to say she had a sixth sense. Roberts was hesitant to divulge any personal information on Sullivan to me, suspecting my motivations. I hadn't told her that my editor, Safir Ahmed, had ordered me to dig up as much dirt on Sullivan as possible. When I didn't find any, Ahmed persisted in wanting to malign Sullivan by using the headline "Septic Crank." I argued that none of the dozen or more sources I interviewed for the story saw Sullivan as a "crank." That didn't matter to Ahmed. On deadline, the dummy showed up on my desk with the orginial distorted headline. I then told managing editor Roland Klose that if the story ran with that headline I demanded my byline be withheld. They changed the headline, but my days at the RFT were numbered after that.

Here's my tribute to Roberts, which comes from a draft of my Sullivan piece:

She is hesitant to talk about her old friend and ally, as if to do so would be a betrayal of confidence. They fought together a long time, longer than she can sometimes now remember. In sharing a common enemy, the two were like foot soldiers, comrades in an undeclared war. That the battles have often gone unrecognized makes their bond that much closer. As with war veterans, an unspoken pact exists, a connection, something larger than either of them. So when she talks about Tom Sullivan, Wilhelmenia "Billy" Roberts speaks in almost reverential tones, measuring her words carefully, pausing from time to time to collect her thoughts.

"Tom is very kind. Tom is concerned about my husband. He comes to visit me and brings nice things," she says. "But his personal life, he wouldn't want anyone to be writing about in the paper." A nurse opens the door, briefly interrupting Roberts' recollections. Her small room at the Altenheim nursing home on South Broadway is crowded with a bed and dresser, leaving 90-year-old Roberts, barely enough space to negotiate her wheelchair. Roberts' husband Ted, who lives upstairs, has cancer. Because of his declining health and her own frailty she has retired from the social activism that kept her busy over the last several decades.

Roberts is the local dean of a dwindling school of old liberals, who truely believe in democracy. Not the text book form taught at the elementary school, but the kind that goes on day-to-day in the halls of local and state government. Voting is not enough for this bunch.They write letters, attend public meetings, initiate petition drives, meet with elected and regulatory officials, help draft legislation and, as a last resort, file lawsuits. Their ranks are filled not with wild-eyed radicals, but individuals who are concerned about accountability in government. In the past, they were often women who shunned garden clubs and tea parties in favor of a cause. Their middle-and-upper-class status provided them both time and money to devote themselves to important issues such as prison reform, utility rate hikes and radioactive waste.

Typically, such watchdogs organize into coalitions or ad hoc committees. But Roberts was a little different. Though she forged countless alliances, for the most part, she operated alone. Her solo status helped protect her integrity and prevented her positions from being compromised. During the legislative session, she drove to Jefferson City on Sunday evening and checked into at a small hotel a couple blocks from the capital. Over the course of the next week, Roberts would meet with state senators and representatives to discuss pending legislation."If you're really serious about what's going on in the Senate or the House, you don't have time to call back to the people you are representing and see what their board says before you can make a decision," Roberts says. "I wanted to be free to act quickly." To act quickly, Roberts made a habit of thoroughly preparing herself by studying bills in advance, and, in some instances, helping write or revise the legislation.

When the sewers started clogging up in her Webster Groves neighborhood in the early 1980s, the citizen lobbyist directed her attention at the Metropolitan Sewer District, where she first crossed paths with Sullivan. The two shared a mutual dislike for the district's intransigent policies and they made a habit of expressing their dissatisfaction at MSD's monthly board meetings. Roberts was impressed both by Sullivan's zeal and his ability to articulate the issues. But she worried that her young protege sometimes hurt himself by going off half-cocked. "I said, Tom don't talk about the law until you understand it," Roberts recalls. "I said, there's a law library over here in Clayton. You can go over there and start reading the law. By golly, he did."

Heeding his mentor's advise, Sullivan has been dogging MSD ever since, citing state laws and district ordinances whenever he feels the agency has violated its statutory authority. With Roberts in ill health and other activists gone from the scene, Sullivan, in many ways, is now fighting a one-man crusade. At 50 years of age, he shows no signs of letting up. ...

"Tom is an extremely smart young man, and an extremely kind man," Robert says. "He's really a many-faceted person. Not only is he a fighter against things like MSD, but he's a lover of beauty. Just out of the clear blue sky one time, Tom Sullivan brought us the most exquisite book that he saw in a little store in Clayton. It is so beautiful. Very little text, but page after page of colors."

Roberts remembers another thoughtful gift that Sullivan gave her at Easter time last year. "I think he probably went to Catholic school. I know there are religious holidays that he likes to celebrate," she says. " He has family here. He's very fond of his sisters and he talks about things that they will be doing together. And there's a young lady that he sees once in a while. But he never married. Just why it's hard to know. He's never given me his address. He's a very private man about his personal life, very private." Roberts then wishes she hadn't revealed so much about her friend. MSD's misguided decisions are much more important and that's what Sullivan would prefer that she address, she says. "I love Tom and I wouldn't want to cross him up." ...

[read more]

The Party of Goldwater 

New York Times, Sept. 3:

by Paul Krugman

I don't know where George Soros gets his money," one man said. "I don't know where - if it comes from overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from." George Soros, another declared, "wants to spend $75 million defeating George W. Bush because Soros wants to legalize heroin." After all, a third said, Mr. Soros "is a self-admitted atheist; he was a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust."

They aren't LaRouchies - they're Republicans.

The suggestion that Mr. Soros, who has spent billions promoting democracy around the world, is in the pay of drug cartels came from Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, whom the Constitution puts two heartbeats from the presidency. After standing by his remarks for several days, Mr. Hastert finally claimed that he was talking about how Mr. Soros spends his money, not where he gets it.

The claim that Mr. Soros's political spending is driven by his desire to legalize heroin came from Newt Gingrich. And the bit about the Holocaust came from Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of The Washington Times, which has become the administration's de facto house organ.

For many months we've been warned by tut-tutting commentators about the evils of irrational "Bush hatred." Pundits eagerly scanned the Democratic convention for the disease; some invented examples when they failed to find it. Then they waited eagerly for outrageous behavior by demonstrators in New York, only to be disappointed again.

There was plenty of hatred in Manhattan, but it was inside, not outside, Madison Square Garden.

Barack Obama, who gave the Democratic keynote address, delivered a message of uplift and hope. Zell Miller, who gave the Republican keynote, declared that political opposition is treason: "Now, at the same time young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief." And the crowd roared its approval. ...

[read more]

Miller Unhinged 

Earth to Miller: Bush called U.S. troops "occupiers," you dumb shit.

Philadelphia Daily News, Sept. 3:

... His convention showcased in its keynote speech an unhinged Zell Miller, who screamed about Kerry's use of the words "occupier" to describe American forces in Iraq as if this were somehow unpatriotic, when Bush himself has used the same terms. Miller charged that Kerry has voted to strip the armed services of necessary weapons when Dick Cheney, as defense secretary, proposed many of the cuts and voted for others. ...

[read more]

Zell Miller Was Aide to Gov. Lester Maddox 

The Progressive, Sept. 2:

by Matthew Rothschilde

... He (Sen. Zell Miller) slandered Kerry and other Democratic leaders by saying they "see America as an occupier, not a liberator." Even President Bush has admitted that the United States is an occupier in Iraq, and that no people likes to be occupied.

So where was Miller getting off?

Then, echoing rhetoric that could easily have stumbled out of the mouth of Francisco Franco or Augusto Pinochet, Miller recited a little ode to the military:
"It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.

"It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

"It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.

"It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom he abuses to burn that flag."

This is nothing but martial disgust for those who exercise our most precious freedoms.

The shriller Miller became, the more it became clear that he was doing damage not to Kerry but to Bush himself.

Miller provided ugly echoes of Pat Buchanan and Barry Goldwater.

Such rhetoric will end up turning off more voters than it attracts.

To give you an idea of how rightwing Miller actually is, he served as executive secretary to Lester Maddox, the crude segregationist governor of Georgia. Miller himself was a segregationist. "As a Congressional candidate in 1964, Miller not only pledged to vote against the Civil Rights Act, he attacked those who were pushing it," according to the American Progress Action Fund. "He said President Lyndon Johnson 'is a Southerner who has sold his birthright for a mess of dark porridge.' "

If the Republicans like Miller so much, they can have him. ...

View from the Outside 

Picture of Pier 57 concentration camp in New York City, where some of the more than 2,000 protestors who were arrested have been jailed.

Inside the Pier 57 Concentration Camp 

Indie Media Champaign-Urbana, Sept. 1:

IMC Reporters Arrested in NYC.

Hi everyone,

Yesterday afternoon 5 Urbana Champaign Independent Media Center (IMC)
reporters were arrested in New York City while collecting audio and
video footage of the War Resisters march at Ground Zero. The police
cordoned off an entire city block and arrested everyone (including the elderly,
nun, and our reporters). Breaking news is updated on the UCIMC website
www.ucimc.org. Conditions in the razorwire-encased incarceration pens
where the reporters are being held are horrible -- one of our
reporters was able to use a cell phone that was smuggled into the pen to phone
in this report:

The reporters are being held without access to our National Lawyers
Guild representatives and without any charges being filed against them (they
have now been detained for 20+ hours -- since 3pm yesterday). All of
the people arrested are local community members and personal friends of
mine. However, as described in the audio report above, roughly 2000 other
people are also being held at the Pier 57 Incarceration Center -- these
people exist in a legal limbo and are not being accounted for in official
arrest tallies.

Stay tuned to www.ucimc.org for more information as it develops and
please help spread the word (and your outrage) that UCIMC reporters have been

Sascha Meinrath
Urbana-Champaign IMC

[read more]

One Big Eye 

New York Times, Sept. 2:

Justice Is Blind, but a Court Surveillance System Sees All

By Seth Schiesel

In a fluorescent-lit, slightly dingy room on the ground floor of the hulking courthouse at 111 Centre Street in downtown Manhattan, Sheng Guo was showing off. And for good reason. There were no windows in the room, but Mr. Guo, chief technology officer of the New York State court system, could see for miles.

On one of the six flat-screen monitors connected to the PC beside him last Thursday, Mr. Guo opened a Web browser to a colorful map of New York City. He clicked on Brooklyn and revealed a diagram of most of the courthouses in the borough. As the cursor rolled over each building, its name and address was revealed.

At a visitor's prompt, Mr. Guo clicked on Brooklyn Civil Court at 141 Livingston Street, and up popped detailed floor plans, highlighting the location of surveillance cameras throughout and around the building. With one click on a camera icon, the screen filled almost instantly with images of oblivious civilians walking along the sidewalk outside.

Just a few more clicks and Mr. Guo was checking out a stairwell at the state court system's data center at the Rensselaer Technology Park, 150 miles to the north. A few feet to Mr. Guo's right, a security officer turned to his own version of the system, opened a drop-down menu and selected "RNCarraignment." Up came vivid images of an entrance to a separate Manhattan courthouse where protesters arrested during the Republican National Convention were scheduled to be processed. ...

[read more]

Pentagon Ballot Stuffing? 

Missouri's Secretary of State to allow troops in combat zones to e-mail their ballots to the Pentagon, which will relay them to their home states.

Over the past four years, I have watched as the current administration has squandered our nation's surplus, alienated our allies, and vigorously espoused a far right-wing agenda all without an actual mandate from the electorate. I knew that in 2004, the Bush administration would have a difficult time winning a second term in the White House and would need to resort to unscrupulous means in order to remain in power. We have all witnessed the depths to which the Bush administration will stoop in order to achieve its goals. I have been keenly observing the political landscape for signs of brazen, dirty tricks Bush allies might use to help him steal another election. Two days ago, a New York Times editorial revealed that Missouri's secretary of state Matt Blunt has quietly agreed to a completely untested method by which military personnel in combat zones could submit their ballots. They would send ordinary e-mail, with their selections to the Pentagon, which would then relay them to their home states. Because I have a degree in computer science and specialize in data security, I can say with absolute confidence that such a system would make vote tampering as easy as using a word processor. Ordinary e-mail is no more secure than a regular post-card. Any interested parties can intercept and read it in transit. Malicious persons with the correct technical knowledge could intercept and change the e-mail "ballots" before they reach their destination. However, suppose that neither of these possiblities occur. It would still be possible for Pentagon officials, who are all under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's chain of command, to alter the e-mail ballots before delivering them to the troops' home states. It would be no more difficult than to copy the e-mail text into a text editor, change the a vote for an unfavored candidate, and send this compromised ballot as though it were still legitimate. Now, suppose that even this possibility did not occur. Because Pentagon officials would be able to read each soldier's vote, individual soldiers could feel pressure to vote for certain candidate because their chain of command, which ultimately ends with the President himself could scrutinize the votes and punish people who cast their ballots for unfavored candidates. Taken all together, all of these possibilities represent the total subversion of democracy. What makes this all the more perverse is that soldiers in combat zones deserve nothing less and much more than to have their vote accurately counted on election day without fear of reprisal. Currently, these soldiers can vote using absentee ballots delivered by regular mail. Even soldiers on the front lines can send and receive U.S. mail. It is a widely accepted way to vote and avoids the conflict of interest of having the President's own subordinates processing the votes in the election, in which he is a candidate. Your secretary of state is Republican Matt Blunt, who currently has designs on Missouri's Governor's mansion. If Bush were to "win" Missouri's electoral votes in November, he might be willing to help Blunt win his election too or extend other political courtesies during a second Bush administration. Having a majority of active-duty combat personnel supposedly voting for Bush might give him enough advantage to take all of Missouri's coveted electoral votes. Thinking that the original article ( in the New York Times would provoke alarm and outrage, I have stood by for the last couple of days watching the mainstream and independent media waiting for someone else to pick up this thread. No one else has. I ask the people of Missouri who care about the integrity of our democracy to speak out against this brazen and cowardly scheme, which would make stealing the votes of our troops no more difficult than whiting out a typo. A voting system which could make this kind of corruption so easy to perpetrate must not be allowed to stand. I have sent a letter to both of my senators and my congressman. I urge you all to do the same. Congress.org makes this task very easy. We need to give the issue of ballot integrity the utmost importance. If every vote were counted and Bush emerged the victor, then we could at least accept that our democracy has worked as intended and that our president actually has a broad mandate. I believe, however, that because of Bush's dismal record and extremist agenda he can only remain in office through the use of subterfuge. People of Missouri, speak out. Contact your local ACLU. Write to your representatives in congress. Protest. Use the full extent of your power and capabilities to counter this threat. Do it as soon as you can. Our democracy might depend on it.

[read more]

Bush Cooks the Books, Again and Again and Again 

Last week, the Census Bureau released statistics showing that for the first
time in years, poverty had increased for three straight years, while the
number of Americans without health care increased to a record level. But
instead of changing its economic and health care policies, the Bush
administration today is announcing plans to change the way the statistics
are compiled. The move is just the latest in a series of actions by the
White House to doctor or eliminate longstanding and nonpartisan economic
data collection methods.

In a Bush administration press release yesterday, the Census Bureau said
next week it "will announce a new economic indicator" as "an additional tool
to better understand" the economy. The change in statistics is being
directed by Bush political appointees and comes just 60 days from the
election. It will be the first modification of Census data in 40 years.

This is not the first time the White House has tried to doctor or manipulate
economic data that exposed President Bush's failed policies. In the face of
serious job losses last year, the Associated Press reported "the Bush
administration has dropped the government's monthly report on mass layoffs,
which also had been eliminated when President Bush's father was in
office." Similarly, Business Week reported that the White House this year
"unilaterally changed the start date of the last recession to benefit Bush's
reelection bid." For almost 75 years, the start and end dates of recessions
have been set by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private
nonpartisan research group. But the Bush administration decided to toss
aside the NBER, and simply declare that the recession started under
President Clinton.

Kerry's Response to Republican Attacks 

The election comes down to this. If you believe this country is heading in the right direction, you should support George Bush. But if you believe America needs to move in a new direction, join with us. John and I offer a better plan that will make us stronger at home and more respected in the world. And we need your help to do that.

For three days in New York, instead of talking about jobs and the economy, we heard anger and insults from the Republicans. And I'll tell you why. It's because they can't talk about the real issues facing Americans. They can't talk about their record because it's a record of failure.

We all saw the anger and distortion of the Republican Convention. For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as commander in chief. Well, here's my answer. I'm not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into Iraq.

The vice president even called me unfit for office last night. I guess I'll leave it up to the voters whether five deferments makes someone more qualified to defend this nation than two tours of duty.

Let me tell you what I think makes someone unfit for duty. Misleading our nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit to lead this nation. Doing nothing while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting 45 million Americans go without health care makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting the Saudi royal family control our energy costs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Handing out billions of government contracts to Halliburton while you're still on their payroll makes you unfit. That's the record of George Bush and Dick Cheney. And it's not going to change. I believe it's time to move America in a new direction; I believe it's time to set a new course for America.

And we have a specific plan to do just that. So tomorrow morning, John and Elizabeth and Teresa and I are hitting the road across America's heartland. From here, we'll go out and talk with Americans in towns across Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan. And because a stronger America begins at home, we'll talk about our plan to create jobs, cut taxes for the middle class, lower health care costs, and make America safer and more secure.

Zell's Opponent 

Denise Majette is a bright, charismatic African-American Congresswoman from Atlanta, running for Zell Miller's U.S. Senate seat. Although she was not in Congress at the time of the original Iraq war resolution, Majette courageously opposed a second resolution on the Iraq war, voting against it and declaring, "I cannot in good conscience support such a deceptive resolution.² Majette has already made history in Georgia by becoming the first black woman to capture her party¹s nomination for U.S. Senate.

Michael Moore's Open Letter to President Bush 

August 26, 2004

It Takes Real Courage to Desert Your Post and Then Attack a Wounded Vet

Dear Mr. Bush,

I know you and I have had our differences in the past, and I realize I am the one who started this whole mess about "who did what" during Vietnam when I brought up that "deserter" nonsense back in January. But I have to hand it to you on what you have uncovered about John Kerry and his record in Vietnam. Kerry has tried to pass himself off as a war hero, but thanks to you and your friends, we now know the truth.

First of all, thank you for pointing out to all of us that Mr. Kerry was never struck by a BULLET. It was only SHRAPNEL that entered his body! I did not know that! Hell, what's the big deal about a bunch of large, sharp, metal shards ripping open your flesh? That happens to all of us! In my opinion, if you want a purple heart, you'd better be hit with a bullet -- with your name on it!

Secondly, thank you for sending Bob Dole out there and letting us know that Mr. Kerry, though wounded three times, actually "never spilled blood." When you are in the debates with Kerry, turn to him and say, "Dammit, Mr. Kerry, next time you want a purple heart, you better spill some American red blood! And I don't mean a few specks like those on O.J.'s socks -- we want to see a good pint or two of blood for each medal. In fact, I would have preferred that you had bled profusely, a big geyser of blood spewing out of your neck or something!" Then throw this one at him: "Senator Kerry, over 58,000 brave Americans gave their lives in Vietnam -- but YOU didn't. You only got WOUNDED! What do you have to say for yourself???" Lay that one on him and he won't know what to do.

And thanks, also, Mr. Bush, for exposing the fact that Mr. Kerry might have actually WOUNDED HIMSELF in order to get those shiny medals. Of course he did! How could the Viet Cong have hit him -- he was on a SWIFT boat! He was going too fast to be hit by enemy fire. He tried to blow himself up three different times just so he could go home and run for president someday. It's all so easy to see, now, what he was up to.

What would we do without you, Mr. Bush? Criticize you as we might, when it comes to pointing out other men's military records, there is no one who can touch your prowess. In 2000, you let out the rumor that your opponent John McCain might be "nuts" from the 5 years he spent in a POW camp. Then, in the 2002 elections, your team compared triple-amputee Sen. Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden, and that cost him the election. And now you are having the same impact on war hero John Kerry. Since you (oops, I mean "The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth!") started running those ads, Kerry's polls numbers have dropped (with veterans, he has lost 18 points in the last few weeks).

Some people have said "Who are you, Mr. Bush, to attack these brave men considering you yourself have never seen combat -- in fact, you actively sought to avoid it." What your critics fail to understand is that even though your dad got you into a unit that would never be sent to Vietnam -- and even though you didn't show up for Guard duty for at least a year -- at least you were still IN FAVOR of the Vietnam War! Cowards like Clinton felt it was more important to be consistent (he opposed the war, thus he refused to go) than to be patriotic and two-faced.

The reason that I think you know so much about other men's war wounds is because, during your time you in the Texas Air National Guard, you suffered so many of them yourself. Consider the paper cut you received on September 22, 1972, while stationed in Alabama, working on a Senate campaign for your dad's friend (when you were supposed to be on the Guard base). A campaign brochure appeared from nowhere, ambushing your right index finger, and blood trickled out onto your brand new argyle sweater.

Then there was the incident with the Crazy Glue when your fraternity brothers visited you one weekend at the base and glued your lips together while you were "passed out." Though initially considered "friendly fire," it was later ruled that you suffered severe post traumatic stress disorder from the assault and required certain medicinal attention -- which, it seems, was provided by those same fraternity brethren.

But nothing matched your heroism when, on July 2, 1969, you sustained a massive head injury when enemy combatants from another Guard unit dropped a keg of Coors on your head during a reconnaissance mission at a nearby all-girls college. Fortunately, the cool, smooth fluids that poured out of the keg were exactly what was needed to revive you.

That you never got a purple heart for any of these incidents is a shame. I can fully appreciate your anger at Senator Kerry for the three he received. I mean, Kerry was a man of privilege, he could have gotten out just like you. Instead, he thinks he's going to gain points with the American people bragging about how he was getting shot at every day in the Mekong Delta. Ha! Is that the best he can do? Hell, I hear gunfire every night outside my apartment window! If he thinks he is going to impress anyone with the fact that he volunteered to go when he could have spent the Vietnam years on the family yacht, he should think again. That only shows how stupid he was! True-blue Americans want a president who knows how to pull strings and work the system and get away with doing as little work as possible!

So, to make it up to you, I have written some new ads you can use on TV. People will soon tire of the swift boat veterans and you are going to need some fresh, punchier material. Feel free to use any of these:

ANNOUNCER: "When the bullets were flying all around him in Vietnam, what did John Kerry do? He said he leaned over the boat and 'pulled a man out of the river.' But, as we all know, men don't live in the river -- fish do. John Kerry knows how to tell a big fish tale. What he won't tell you is that when the enemy was shooting at him, he ducked. Do you want a president who will duck? Vote Bush."

ANNOUNCER: "Mr. Kerry's biggest supporter, Sen. Max Cleland, claims to have lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam. But he still has one arm! How did that happen? One word: Cowardice. When duty called, he was unwilling to give his last limb. Is that the type of selfishness you want hanging out in the White House? We think not. Vote for the man who would be willing to give America his right frontal lobe. Vote Bush."

Hope these help, Mr. Bush. And remember, when the American death toll in Iraq hits 1,000 during the Republican convention, be sure to question whether those who died really did indeed "die" -- or were they just trying to get their face on CNN's nightly tribute to fallen heroes? The sixteen who've died so far this week were probably working hand in hand with the Kerry campaign to ruin your good time in New York. Stay consistent, sir, and always, ALWAYS question the veracity of anyone who risks their life for this country. It's the least they deserve.


Michael Moore

Business as Usual: Neil Bush Cashes In on War  

Financial Times, December 12, 2003:

A company hoping to help win contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq links controversial business associates of Neil Bush, brother of the US president, to some
Republican heavy hitters.

By Thomas Catan and Stephen Fidler

In the summer of 1992, while his father was still president of the US, Neil Bush took his family on a trip to Disneyland in France. The flap over his role in the collapse of the Silverado Savings and Loan bank, which had cost the taxpayer Dollars 1bn, had died down. According to a person who recalls seeing photographs showing the president's second-youngest son and his family surrounded by various Disney characters, the Bushes seem to have enjoyed themselves.

The trip had been arranged and paid for by the Paris office of Jamal Daniel, a Syrian-American businessman who keeps a low profile but who boasts important connections with leaders and their families throughout the Middle East. Mr Daniel's name surfaced this month when court papers from Neil Bush's acrimonious divorce proceedings found their way into the press.

While many newspapers focused on the lurid revelations of "sex romps" on his trips in Asia, Mr Bush's deposition also gave important insights into his business dealings. Among other things, Mr Bush said he was co-chairman of the Houston-based Crest Investment Corporation and was paid Dollars 15,000 every three months for providing "miscellaneous consulting services . . . such as answering phone calls when Jamail (sic) Daniel, the other co-chairman, called and asked for advice".

Mr Daniel started cultivating his relationship with the Bush family at about the time that Neil was caught up in the Silverado scandal and facing a lawsuit, according to a US businessman who knows him. Mr Bush denied any wrongdoing but was reprimanded by federal regulators and paid Dollars 50,000 in a court settlement.

"Jamal likes to ingratiate himself with family members of whoever's in power," the US businessman says. "He squired Neil Bush around . . . Then he also got close to Pappa Bush, George H., when he came back to Houston . . . Socially there were pictures together and he was very supportive of George W's campaign when he ran for governor."

Another person, a Jordanian lawyer who works on international business transactions in the Middle East, describes Mr Daniel as "a wheeler-dealer, somebody who uses the name of the Bush family to get business and to encourage people to do business with him".

Working closely with Mr Bush and Mr Daniel has been a third man: John Howland, a Houston businessman whose companies have suffered bankruptcy and who, on one occasion, was alleged by the owner of a company he ran of self-dealing and of misusing company funds - an allegation he denies. The three have worked together at Crest, where Mr Howland acted as executive vice-president.

Mr Bush, Mr Howland and Mr Daniel have also been directors of a Swiss company called Silvermat, a financially troubled subsidiary of Crest that was set up in 2000 to supply the hospitality industry. Mr Howland is listed as the chairman of Silvermat and Mr Bush and Mr Daniel as having retired from the board.

There is evidence that Mr Bush has received financing and contacts for his personal business ventures from Mr Daniel. Crest's company secretary, Joseph Peacock - a man involved in many of Mr Daniel's other companies - was listed as one of the original investors in Ignite!, Mr Bush's educational software company.

According to a businessman in the Middle East, Mr Daniel sometimes introduces himself as one of the founding members of Ignite! and has lobbied potential investors on Neil Bush's behalf. Mr Bush went on a Middle East trip in early 2002 to seek contributions for his company. He has successfully secured funds from people connected to at least three ruling families in the Middle East.

Other Middle Eastern businessmen said Mr Daniel or others in his family had used Mr Bush's name to secure investors in projects. Some of these have ended in disputes among the investors. Mr Bush had written letters, including to Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of Yemen, recommending investments.

The businessman said Mr Bush opened doors with prominent figures in the Middle East, but they did not see him getting involved in details of the projects he was promoting. "They fly around in private planes and get big meetings. When they hire Neil Bush, I don't know if he knows what's going on," said one.

Today, Neil Bush's business partners have a new venture, in keeping with the times. New Bridge Strategies was set up this year to help companies secure contracts in Iraq following the war. Mr Howland is chairman and chief executive of the company, while Mr Daniel is a member of the advisory board.

The company briefly hit the headlines this autumn because of the impressive roster of Republican heavyweights on its board, most of whom are linked to one or other of the Bush administrations or to the family itself. The company's website has not been shy about advertising its contacts in both the Middle East and Washington.

"The opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington DC., and on the ground in Iraq," it said. That phrasing has since been changed.

The list of directors and advisory board members is indeed impressive. Joe Allbaugh, the chairman of the company, was head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) until March 2003 and before that, chief of staff for George W. Bush while he was Texas governor. As national manager for the Bush-Cheney election campaign in 2000, he was one side of the "Iron Triangle" of aides credited with propelling him into the presidency.

Ed Rogers, the company's vice-chairman and director, was a top aide to George H. W. Bush while he was in the White House. Lanny Griffith, another director, also worked in Mr Bush senior's government and on his election campaigns. Haley Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who was elected last month as governor of Mississippi, was on the board of Milestone Merchant Partners, a Washington-based private equity fund affiliated with New Bridge, according to the New Bridge website.

A spokesman for Mr Barbour, who is also close to the Bush family, said he resigned from that position in February.

All three are partners at Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, a Republican lobbying firm in Washington, DC. The firm shares an office with New Bridge at 1275 Pennsylvannia Avenue, on the 10th floor.

Milestone, meanwhile, is hardly bereft of political contacts itself. Richard Breeden, former chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the man appointed to sort out the mess at WorldCom, is on the company's advisory board. So is Ed Mathias, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, the world's best connected private equity firm, which some people have seen as a forerunner of New Bridge. ext to those names, John Howland and Jamal Daniel are relatively unknown. Together in many business transactions connecting Texas with the Middle East, they have been linked to contentious deals, some of which have ended up in court.

Mr Howland is a former US air force officer. He failed to become a pilot because of a slight eyesight problem and ended his military career as a launch control officer in nuclear missile bunkers.

He said he had met Mr Daniel in about 1989. Mr Daniel's family, Christians originating from northern Syria, is said to have been involved in the founding of the Ba'ath Party and sustained links with it in both Syria and Iraq even after being expelled from Syria in about 1966 after Hafez al-Assad came to power. Mr Daniel has told friends that when he was young Tariq Aziz, later foreign minister of Iraq, was a visitor to the family home.

Mr Daniel attended Pepperdine University in the US and then was awarded an MBA from the University of Texas at Arlington, before settling down in Houston. With much of his family still in Geneva, where they settled after leaving Syria, he leads the family's US-based wing and represents its businesses there. The family holds a sizeable US property portfolio via a range of interlinked companies - Uniteg, Finial, Carnavon and Grailwood - as well as some energy businesses.

According to businessmen who know him, Mr Daniel boasts connections with the families of the rulers of at least five Middle East countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. At a conference in Washington in April 2000, Mr Daniel was introduced as a person "proud to call (Yemeni) President Saleh a friend."

Before he became president and chief executive officer of New Bridge this year, Mr Howland's business career had met controversy.

In 1997, he was embroiled in a bitter dispute with his then employer, Mohammed Bin Issa Al-Jaber, a Saudi businessman, over allegations that more than Dollars 12m went missing from his company while Mr Howland was in charge. In a lawsuit filed in Houston, Mr Jaber said he had originally been approached with a business proposal by Mr Howland while the latter was president of the Texas-based company, American Rice Inc.

The idea had been to set up a company in Saudi Arabia that would import rice from American Rice and then package it at a plant to be built in Jeddah, enabling the owners to sell it more cheaply than rival companies. In 1992, Mr Jaber set up Rice Milling Trading Investments (RMTI) and hired Mr Howland and another Houston associate, George Prchal, giving them full authority to run it.

"I placed full trust in John Howland to the extent that he was the sole signatory on RMTI's bank account and expenditure made through him on RMTIs projects was in excess of Dollars 50m," Mr Jaber said in a 1997 statement, according to court documents.

Mr Howland drew up a contract with American Rice to be the company's exclusive supplier. What Mr Jaber did not know was that his top two executives were still working for American Rice, meaning that they were on both sides of the negotiating table. Mr Jaber stated that Mr Howland was receiving Dollars 250,000 a year for running RMTI and a further Dollars 100,000 from its supplier, American Rice. The result, industry experts told the court, was a highly unusual 50-year contract heavily biased in American Rice's favour.

At the same time, Mr Howland had a third role working for another company that RMTI saw as a potential competitor and which Mr Daniel represented in the US. RMTI's investigators found business cards showing Mr Howland and Mr Prchal as representing this company, Levant Grain, which was constructing a rice mill in a free zone at the Syrian port of Tartous.

Mr Howland said yesterday he had been an officer of Levant, and that Levant was wholly owned by Crest, Mr Daniel's company. But he said there had been no conflict of interest. However, Mr Daniel told the court he was an unpaid adviser to Levant, which was owned by a company linked to relatives of his.

When the Jeddah plant was nearing completion, Mr Howland set up a Dollars 12m credit facility, on behalf of RMTI, with the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, to finance American Rice's sales. In 1996 a banker working for NCB informed Mr Jaber, to his surprise, that the Dollars 12m letter of credit had been exhausted.

In 1997, according to court documents, Mr Howland told NCB that Mr Jaber had financial problems but that he and Mr Prchal would be willing to take over RMTI once it had gone bankrupt. He had found, he said, interested financial backers.

"Howland indicated that he would do so only after the equity interests of Mohamed bin Issa al-Jaber had been wiped out," Donald Prescott, the banker he approached, said. "This concerned me since I knew Howland was still the senior officer of RMTI, whose major shareholder was Mohamed bin Issa al-Jaber."

Through Mr Howland and Mr Prchal, RMTI also invested in two projects in the Caribbean of which Mr Jaber said he was unaware. In one, it took a minority stake in the Antillean Rice Mills, which operated a rice mill in Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles, at a price other company officials later judged to be far too high. It also financed construction of a butter plant in nearby Curacao that was built but stood idle because it was never allowed to export to the European Union.

RMTI subsequently found more than a dozen offshore bank accounts linked to these companies, in the Queensgate Bank in the Cayman Islands, in Panama and elsewhere. Mr Jaber estimated his losses in these ventures had run into a further several million dollars.

The case was settled after negotiations - with payments to Mr Jaber totalling more than Dollars 3.5m - and the judge ordered many of the documents sealed. Parties to the case say they are still constrained from talking about it because of a gag order. American Rice went bankrupt soon after.

American Rice, together with Mr Howland and Mr Prchal, countersued RMTI. Kerry Blair, a lawyer for John Howland, described the allegations in the suit as "totally frivolous". Mr Howland said yesterday he did not know what happened to the Dollars 12m letter of credit. He said RMTI alleged that American Rice took some of the money - which to his knowledge was not true - "but they never made (the allegation) against me".

American Rice is now under new management following its emergence from bankruptcy. How did some of the best-connected Republican figures in Washington end up in business with this controversial pair of Texas businessmen? The answer seems to be: Haley Barbour.

Like many agricultural firms, rice companies benefit from political connections. Mr Howland met Mr Barbour while the latter was at the Reagan White House. When Mr Barbour left the administration, one of his first jobs as a consultant was for American Rice. He was hired by Mr Howland. It was through him that Mr Barbour got to know Mr Daniel. Through a spokesperson, Mr Barbour declined requests for an interview.

What is clear is that he helped make the connection between Mr Howland and Mr Daniel and the Washington heavyweights that give New Bridge its political heft. His firm was also instrumental in bringing other companies into New Bridge's fold, including Diligence, a security firm set up by former US and British intelligence officers that is affiliated to the company.

Barbour, Griffith & Rogers provided initial funding for Diligence, said Nick Day, a former UK intelligence officer and co-founder of the company. Like New Bridge, Diligence was given also space at BGR's office in Washington DC. BGR also provided the company with its well-connected chairman, Richard Burt, former US ambassador to Berlin, as well as its impressive advisory board. Many of the names on that advisory board - including Carlyle's Ed Mathias - overlap with those of New Bridge and Milestone.

The relationship between the companies became even closer after New Bridge found the investor for Diligence's new business in Iraq. In return for finding the investor - the Kuwaiti businessman and member of parliament, Mohammed Al-Saqer - New Bridge got a minority shareholding in the new Iraqi security firm. Diligence Iraq had already escorted some of New Bridge's clients into Iraq, he said.

The idea behind the founding of New Bridge shows an odd symmetry between Washington and the Middle East: that in both places what matters is the ability to exploit connections to well-placed individuals.

According to Middle East specialists, the disclosures about New Bridge will not help US efforts in the region. "In the Middle East, it will be received as confirming the weary cynicism prevailing in the area about US intentions in launching the attack on Iraq in the first place," said Richard Murphy, senior fellow on the Middle East at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York.

Cheney Led Dismantling of US Defense Under Bush Sr. 

At the Republican National Convention earlier this week, Sen. Zell Miller, a Georgia Democrat, castigated his fellow lawmaker Sen. John Kerry for voting against military items during his long legislative career. Miller was followed to the podium by Vice President Dick Cheney, who attacked Kerry's ability to lead the nation during a time of war. What both speeches didn't mention is the fact that Cheney himself oversaw the biggest reduction in military expenditures in modern U.S. history as Secretary of =Defense under the first President Bush. And those same spending cuts came in the wake of the first Gulf War. The only thing Cheney advocated keeping was the pork-barrel Star Wars Defense initiative, which had absolutely no practical application even if it was a functional program because of the break up of the former Soviet Union. During Miller's keynote rant Wednesday night, he specifically accused Kerry of not supporting the funding of the Patriot Missile, when in fact Cheney oversaw the cutting the defense program. What are we supposed to use, Dick, "spitballs?"

Boston Globe, Feb. 15, 1991:

... Apart from nuclear weapons, Bush and Cheney seem to be moving toward their goal of cutting US military forces by 25 percent over the next few years - though, again, the war in the gulf could change that.

The budget kills 81 programs for potential savings of $ 11.9 billion next year and $ 90 billion over the next five years.

Major weapons killed include the Army's M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Navy's Trident submarine and F-14 aircraft, and the Air Force's F-16 airplane. Cheney decided the military already has enough of these weapons. The budget also formalizes Cheney's cancellation a few weeks ago of the Navy's A-12 Stealth attack plane.

The Army's cupboard is left particularly bare. Coming in the wake of last year's killing of the M-1 tank and the Apache helicopter, the death of the M-2 means the Army will soon have virtually no major weapons in production.

The budget asks $ 400 million next year for research and development of a new tank, but it is not expected to be built until well into the next century.

Even a program to improve the Patriot missile has been taken out of the Army's hands and moved into a division of the SDI program.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

It's the Economy, Stupid 

I kept wondering why the backdrop on the stage at last night's Republican Convention referred to "Land of Opportunity." The GOP was supposed to be showcasing the great job Bush did on the national economy. Of course, the stats released last week show that poverty in the U.S. has increase every year that he's been in office. In St. Louis, where I live, the poverty rate is now 22 percent. Since the Republicans couldn't find anything they could even reasonably lie about, they decided to trash Kerry instead, unleashing a rabid Zell Miller for their howling entertainment. Anybody who would fall for this crap has to be dumber than a sack of rocks. Unfortunately, there are a lot of rocks among the voting public.

NewDonkey.com, Sept 2:

On an evening supposedly devoted to defending the administration's economic record, the two big prime-time speakers, Zell Miller and Dick Cheney, unloaded a truckload of bile against John Kerry's national security record. I'm not sure I've ever heard so many slurs, misleading inferences, and bold-face lies in the course of an hour of rhetoric. Miller didn't bother to even mention the economy or any other domestic issue. Cheney barely did, and even then just trotted out the usual BC04 talking points with a notable lack of enthusiasm. This night was about destroying John Kerry, period. ...

[read more]

Swift Boat Vet Condemns Use of His Name to Attack Kerry 

Billings (Montana) Gazette, Sept. 1:

Swift boat veteran Bob Anderson of Columbus is ticked.

It bothers him that Sen. John Kerry's swift boat history has become such a political hot potato. But he's even more irritated that his name was included - without his permission - on a letter used to discredit Kerry.

"I'm pretty nonpolitical," the 56-year-old Anderson said Tuesday. So, when he found out last week that his name was one of about 300 signed on a letter questioning Kerry's service, he was "flabbergasted."

"It's kind of like stealing my identity," said Anderson, who spent a year on a swift boat as an engine man and gunner. ...

[read more]

1001 Things to Hate About RNC 

New York Press:

1001. City’s collective IQ drops eight points, temporarily tying us with Seattle. ...

[read more]

I'd Rather Be in Philly 

Associated Press, Sept. 1:

Philadelphia - For about $10 million, city officials believe they can turn all 135 square miles of Philadelphia into the world's largest wireless Internet hot spot.

The ambitious plan, now in the works, would involve placing hundreds, or maybe thousands of small transmitters around the city — probably atop lampposts. Each would be capable of communicating with the wireless networking cards that now come standard with many computers.

Once complete, the network would deliver broadband Internet almost anywhere radio waves can travel — including poor neighborhoods where high-speed Internet access is now rare.

And the city would likely offer the service either for free, or at costs far lower than the $35 to $60 a month charged by commercial providers, said the city's chief information officer, Dianah Neff. ...

[read more]

Bush Never Stops Thinking ...  

Early last month, President George W. Bush pledged the following:
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Bush's Ultimate Flip Flop 

Those who favor everlasting war are encouraged to vote for George W. Bush, the man who lies every time he opens his mouth.

Read word-for-word how George W. Bush changed his position on the war on terror within hours.

Aug 31, 2004:

I don't think you can win it but I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.

Sept. 1, 2004:

"We meet today in a time of war for our country, a war we did not start, but one that we will win."

Micael Moore on McCain's Speech 

USA Today, Aug 31:

Here's a guy I've always sort of liked, a courageous war hero reduced to carrying water for the Bush campaign. (Related stories: Moore index page)

So it was Monday night, as I sat in the press section — unbeknownst to Sen. McCain — when he switched from pro-war convention speaker to film critic. Out of nowhere, he began to attack my movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, calling me a "disingenuous filmmaker." The problem is, he hasn't seen the movie, a fact he later admitted to Chris Matthews on MSNBC.

I know Republicans are mad that my film may have convinced just enough people to tip the balance in this election. Yet with all the serious issues facing our country, and right smack in the middle of an important speech about the need to catch the terrorists and continue the war in Iraq, McCain decided to turn the convention into the Ebert and McCain Show. He claimed that I portrayed Saddam's Iraq as an "oasis of peace."

Some of the 20 million who have seen the film must have wondered, "Did I miss that scene? I knew I shouldn't have gone out for those Goobers." All I can imagine McCain was referring to was a brief cutaway just as President Bush announces the commencement of the bombing of Baghdad on March 19, 2003.

[read more]

Zell Miller Crosses the River Styx  

If there was any doubt about the insanity that has taken hold in the Republican Party, there is none now.

But it took a Democrat to expose the zenith of the GOP's craziness. In his keynote speech before the Republican National Committee last night, Georgia Sen. Zell Miller accused John Kerry and the Democratic Party of treason for not supporting President George W. Bush's inept handling of the war in Iraq.

Meanwhile, outside the convention hall yesterday, thousands of protestors lined up for more than three miles in a symbolic unemployment line. More than 1,700 demonstrators have been arrested in New York City since the GOP convention convened, which dwarfs the numbers held during the unrest that coincided with the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. But so far the most violent act has been setting a paper mache puppet on fire.

Despite the relative calm, neo-conservative commentator David Brooks told the PBS viewing audience that he would be wary of joining in any protest that included extreme leftists.

The real radicals, of course, are inside the convention hall, rattling their sabers and applauding ultra-right wing rants that advocate U.S.global supremacy. For his part, Brooks enjoyed Miller's invective-filled attack on Kerry and the Dems, grinning like ejaculating jackal. This finally led Mark Shields, his counterpart, to call Miller a liar and accuse Brooks of exhibiting a "perverted glee."

Shields, as usual, understated the situation. Where is Hunter Thompson when you need him?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Old Navy: McCain Anchored Senate Since 1977 

Washington Post, Jan. 21, 2000:

... But McCain's real political baptism came in 1977, when the Navy assigned him to be its liaison to the Senate, the same job that his father once held.

The young naval officer entered easily into the traditionally clubby world of the Senate. He developed an especially close relationship with the late Sen. John G. Tower (R-Tex.), and on long overseas trips, McCain's outgoing personality made him popular with younger senators such as William S. Cohen (R-Maine), now the secretary of defense, and Gary Hart (D-Colo.). Hart remembers McCain as "funny, gregarious. . . . He's got a bad boy streak to him that's just wonderful. Mischievous is the word. There's a little boy inside there trying to get out."

As the Navy's liaison, McCain developed a keen interest in the workings of the Senate. "He wanted to talk about what we were voting on," Hart said. "Why did you do this? He studied how the committee worked and how the system worked."

McCain confirmed that as the Navy liaison, "I saw the enormous ability to influence events that a serious and thoughtful member of the Senate can have. That really was what got me very interested" in elective office.

At this point, McCain's long-cherished career in the Navy was coming to an end, and so was his first marriage. He and his wife, Carol, had been married in July 1965, and McCain had adopted her two children from a previous marriage. They also had a daughter. The dashing naval aviator and former model made a strikingly handsome couple. Then the war in Vietnam intervened in their lives.

During McCain's captivity, his wife was grievously injured in an automobile accident that left her essentially crippled. After he returned from Vietnam, McCain has acknowledged, he pursued other women, engaging in extramarital affairs. The couple that former Reagan aide Reynolds remembers as "absolutely delightful, charming and funny" drifted apart.

"I was mad at him for a while," Reynolds said. "I just couldn't believe it. But it happens in life all the time."

Carol McCain told Robert Timberg, author of "The Nightingale's Song," a highly regarded book about McCain and four other Naval Academy graduates who served in Vietnam, that her injuries had nothing to do with the end of the marriage. "I attribute it more to John turning 40 and wanting to be 25 again than I do to anything else," she said. ...

McCain Member of Keating 5 

USA Today,

Five Senators Face Probe

USA Today, Nov. 21, 1989:

The Senate Ethics Committee is investigating five senators who were asked to intervene with federal regulators on behalf of the failing Lincoln S&L, while receiving political contributions from Lincoln Chairman Charles Keating Jr. and associates. (Cover story, 1A) The five:

John McCain, R-Ariz.

McCain, 53, a former Navy fighter pilot who spent 5 1/2 years as a POW in North Vietnam, got $ 112,000 in campaign contributions from Keating and his associates. Keating also provided free trips, including vacations to the Bahamas for McCain and his family. McCain later reimbursed Keating's firm $ 13,000 for the travel and conceded the meetings with regulators may appear to be improper. But he denied any conflicts of interest. He appears to be the most troubled by questions and says, ''Even the Vietnamese didn't question my ethics.'' ...

Floating Their Boats: GOP 9/11 Commissioner Backs Bush and McCain 

Call it fuzzy reasoning or another blind alley, but I'm starting discern a pattern. Sen. John McCain received $31,350 in political contributions this year from the U.S. Navy, according to campaign finance records compiled by Opensecrets.org.

Earlier this year, former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman was found to have donated both to President George W. Bush's presidential campaign and McCain's Senate campaign. Nothing wrong with that. But Lehman, of course, was then a commissioner on the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the circumtances surrounding the attacks three years ago. Although it shows a direct conflict of interest with his duties as a 9/11 commissioner, supporting the president's reelection is at least understandable. Lehman is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, a Cold War dinosaur, who headed the Navy during the Reagan administration. But why would Lehman contribute to McCain's campaign, whose reelection is virtually assured? I guess it's just out of loyalty to an old friend, right?

Newsday, April 15, 2004:

9/11 Commission Political Contributions;
Members defend donations;
Move sparks criticism from some victims' relatives who say panel should avoid partisan activities

by Thomas Frank

Two Republicans on the 9/11 Commission have given money to President George W. Bush's re-election campaign while serving on the panel, and a Democrat has donated to three of her party's presidential candidates.

In total, half of the 10 commission members have made contributions to federal candidates or organizations since their appointment in late 2002.

Most commission members defended the donations, which total $27,250, according to federal records. Though the donations are allowed, several relatives of people killed on Sept. 11 were sharply critical, saying commissioners should avoid public partisan activity while handling the politically charged task of investigating what allowed the attacks to occur.

"While they're on a commission like this, they should refrain from supporting anybody, particularly when the administration's actions are under investigation," said Terry McGovern of Manhattan, whose mother was killed in the World Trade Center. Giving money "raises questions about how thorough and independent a job you can do."

Kristen Breitweiser of New Jersey, whose husband was killed in the trade center, rolled her eyes when told of the donations. "I would have hoped they would have held themselves to the highest standard," said Breitweiser, who leads a 9/11 survivors group monitoring the commission.

Commission members have been accused of partisanship recently as Democrats sharply questioned national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and other Bush officials, while Republicans attacked Richard Clarke, Bush's former counterterrorism chief who has criticized the administration.

Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, one of the toughest questioners, stopped making contributions when Democrats appointed him. "My view personally is that I ought to stay away from any kind of activity that raises any question about partiality," said the former Watergate prosecutor.

John Lehman, a former Navy secretary who gave $2,000 last June to Bush-Cheney '04, brushed aside criticism.

"I'm a Republican. I don't give up being a Republican," said Lehman, who last year also gave $2,000 to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and $1,000 to a Republican political action committee.

Doing it For the Gipper with Muscles Between His Ears 

Addressing the Republican National Convention last night, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former body builder and B-grade Hollywood actor, told the assembled delegates that those who question the dismal Bush-era economy are "girly men." The Terminator also lauded immigrants for their optimism and ambition, using himself as a model for achieving the American Dream through hard work.

Of course, Arnold himself never really worked a day in his life. He didn't get his muscles slaving away in a foundry or steel mill in Pennsylvania or the New York docks. No, Arnold built his muscles at gyms in Southern California. He's a notorious party boy, who snorted cocaine and coroused with the decadent Hollywood orgy crowd, which the Republicans at once spurn and worship. How American of them.

[read more]

McCain Takes $31,350 Contribution from U.S. Navy 

Those of you who had the stomach for it, may have watched Arizona Republican John McCain address the Republican National Convention on the PBS television network Monday night. McCain is the darling of the political set, wooed by both sides of the aisle. Thought to be an honest politican by many Americans, his candor and forthright assertions are valued. In his convention speech, McCain linked the 9/11 attacks to justify the invasion of Iraq even though that reasoning has been completely debunked over and over again by McCain, of course, championed campaign finance reform and has railed against the influence of special interests on Congress. ow.

But McCain himself is the recipient of millions of dollars in contribution this year alone. In a year when he faces little or no opposition in retaining his Senate seat, McCain has raised more than $2.5 million. Most of that money came from individual contributions. But more than $370,000 came from political action committees, some 85 percent of which represent major corporations in the financial and telecommunications sectors, including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Verizon, Time Warner, Citicorp, ATT, Bell South, SBC Communications and Credit Suisse First Boston.

But perhaps the most intriguing of McCain's PAC contributions is the $31,350 he received from the U.S. Navy, according to OpenSecrets.org.

This has gotta be some kind of mistake, right? The U.S. military can't contribute to political candidates, can it? If it's true, however, it means that taxpayer dollars allocated to the Navy are rerouted to bolster a politican's campaign. Shouldn't U.S. citizens be a tad concerned about such cozy relationship?

[read more]

Monday, August 30, 2004

Gulliani Global Terrorism Expert 

God Bless George Bush. -- former Mayor Rudy Gulliani

Former Mayor Rudy Gulliani spent his entire speech before the Republican National Convention tonight talking about the threat of global terrorism and President George W. Bush's inept response to it, which he endorsed, of course.

At the same time, Gulliani trashed Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry for his Senate record, which includes membership on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

What exactly are Gulliani's international policy credentials? Well, he doesn't appear to have any. Prior to his tenure as mayor, he was a federal prosecutor. He has no experience in international relations or intelligence at all. He was a mayor.

Missing from Gulliani's rant was any mention of domestic issues, which as a former mayor he would have some knowledge and expertise in addressing.

"If You're Not With Us, You're With the Terrorists" 

Quoting President George W. Bush, former New York City Mayor Rudy Gulliani told the Republican National Convention tonight that those who oppose U.S. foreign policies are themselves allies of terrorists. Then he turned around later in his speech and called for a spirit of unity and bi-partisanship for Americans. Does that sound like double talk? It does to me. In other words, we're all one big happy family as long as you agree with the demented patriarch. Shove it up your ass, mayor.

Gulliani Calls Bush a Hero 

Speaking at the Republican National Convention tonight, former New York City Mayor Rudy Gulliani proclaimed George W. Bush a hero for coming to New York three days after the 9/11 attacks.

On 9/11, however, Bush sat incapacitated in an elementary school classroom in Florida, after he learned of the attacks. He then got on Air Force One and flew in the opposite direction of the White House, first to Louisiana and then Nebraska.

Does that sound like a hero to you? The president has is the commander-and-cheif. He has the entire U.S. military at his disposal. What did he do? He cut and ran.

Rudy Gulliani Delusional 

Former Mayor Rudy Gulliani lauded President George W. Bush tonight at the Republican National Convention, commending him for war on global terror.
During his speech, Gulliani criticized Europeans for coddling terrorists in the past. Gulliani then went on to condemn Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, for waffling on his voting record, misstating through omission and over-simplification Kerry's position.

Left out Gulliani's speech was any reference to Bush's comment today that the war on terror could never be won.

So far, the U.S. has spent more than $130 billion on the war in Iraq, while New York City has received less federal funding than promised to rebuild and defend the city in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

McCain Lies Out His Ass 

At the Republican National Convention tonight Arizona Sen. John McCain defended President George W. Bush's misguided foreign policy decisions, deceitfully tying the 9/11 attacks to the war in Iraq. In his support of Bush's invasion, McCain criticized Michael Moore, the director of the film Farenheit 9/11, as a "disingenuous film maker."

Vice President Dick Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton, a company that received billions of dollars in no-bid contracts to supply services to the military, stood up and applauded McCain for his endorsement. Halliburton has now been sanctioned by the U.S. government for not upholding the contracts and its misuse of taxpayer dollars.

The people who didn't stand up and applaud were the nearly 1,000 U.S. service men and women who have died as a result of the war.

Previously I thought McCain was a man of reason. I know better now.

Brooks Is a Closet Fascist 

On tonight's PBS News Hour neo-conservative commentator David Brooks of the New York Times, opined that if he were in a parade that included fascists he would question his involvement.

Brooks' comparison was made in an effort to raise the issue that hundreds of thousands of anti-war demonstrators who protested yesterday in advance of the Republican National Convention in New York City included radical leftists.

His remark was made to cast the anti-war movement as being influenced by fringe elements that are a danger to United States national security.

Brooks, of course, is the real danger because he continues to be a supporter of the Bush administration foreign policies, including the invasion of Iraq. In most quarters of the world, the U.S. invasion is seen as fascist in nature.

Obviously, he doesn't recognize what he and his ilk represent to others. He can dress up in a suit and tie and act mild mannered, but Brooks' disguise fails to cloak his promotion of Bush's policies of unilateral intervention in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Whether he knows it or not, or chooses to admit it, Brooks is part of a fascist parade whose number lag far behind the diverse group that protested yesterday in New York.

They represent the majority of Americans who come from all walks of life.

Republican Paranoia Reaches Fever Pitch 

from Greg Palast's blog:


[I couldn't make this up ... direct from the Republican National
Committee website ....]

"NEXT WEEK, people who hate Republicans plan to release swarms of mice
in New York City to terrorize delegates to the National Republican

"Republican-haters plan on dressing up as RNC volunteers, and giving
false directions to little blue hair ladies from Kansas, sending them
into the sectors of New York City that are unfit for human habitation.

"They plan on throwing pies and Lord knows what else at Republican
visitors to the city. Prostitutes with AIDS plan to seduce Republican
visitors, and discourage the use of condoms ...."

I do hope the RNC can stop these evil doings in the Big Apple: the idea
of people dressing up as Republicans gives me the creeps. And denying
Republicans condoms only encourages them to reproduce.

For GOP-gazers who want more pop-eyed paranoia in party hats, ...
(click here)
read. and click on "protesters supporting Kerry."

Iraqi Pipeline Attacks Reek Havoc 

CNN, Aug. 30:

An attack on Iraq's main southern pipeline has seriously hampered critical oil exports in the struggling country, Iraqi officials say.

The attack took place Sunday, officials said, and repairs will take about a week.

Such attacks, Iraq's Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said in an exclusive interview with CNN's Walter Rodgers on Monday, were "hurting Iraq quite badly."

"The revenues, the oil prices have increased dramatically, and this is causing great loss for the Iraq people in terms of revenues which could be used for the reconstruction of the country, and to pay the people and get the economy cycle back again," he said. ...

[read more]

Tail Wags Dog 

Associated Press, Aug. 30:

Jerusaleum -- A senior Israeli diplomat in Washington has met with a Pentagon analyst being investigated by the FBI on suspicion he passed classified information to Israel, Israeli officials confirmed Monday.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the meetings were well within the norm of diplomacy and that no laws were broken. Israel has flatly denied it has a spy at the Pentagon.

The Israeli diplomat was identified as Naor Gilon, head of the political department at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and a specialist on Iran's nuclear weapons program.

U.S. officials say the FBI investigation focuses on Lawrence A. Franklin, an analyst of Iranian affairs who works in a Pentagon policy office headed by Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary for policy. Feith has been accused by Democrats of seeking to manipulate intelligence to help make the case for going to war in Iraq. Congressional investigations have found no evidence of that.

[read more]

Street Politics 

Prediction: If Bush is "re-appointed" president, all hell is going to break loose in this country.

World Socialist, Aug. 30:

Hundreds of thousands of people marched Sunday past New York City’s Madison Square Garden, site of this week’s Republican National Convention, in a massive repudiation of the policies of the Bush administration.

March organizers put the size of the crowd at 400,000, a far more credible figure than the gross underestimate of 120,000 given by some officials in the New York City Police Department (NYPD). When the first marchers had completed the nearly 40-block trek through Manhattan, large numbers of demonstrators had yet to start off. Solid crowds surged up Seventh Avenue, west on 34th Street and back downtown on Broadway for a full five hours. ...

The huge demonstration expressed the immense social opposition that has built up to the Bush administration over the war in Iraq, attacks on democratic rights and policies of social reaction. Its militancy stood in sharp contrast to the desiccated liberalism and half-hearted opposition to the Republicans exhibited by the Democratic Party and its presidential candidate John Kerry. Under conditions in which Kerry is supporting the war, the hundreds of thousands who marched—and many millions more who share their views—find themselves politically disenfranchised.

The huge turnout was all the more significant given the ham-fisted efforts of both the city authorities and national agencies such as the Homeland Security Department and the FBI to intimidate those planning to protest.

Activists faced surveillance and harassment from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, threats of mass arrests from the NYPD and the denial by New York City billionaire Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg of a permit for a rally in Central Park after the march. Moreover, the city remains on so-called “orange alert,” with near-daily warnings from Washington of supposedly imminent threats of terrorist attacks.

Thousands of police were deployed along the route of the march. At 34th Street, helmeted riot cops and mounted units were massed in a show of force designed to dissuade demonstrators from attempting to continue marching north to Central Park.

[read more]

"President Bush, You Killed My Son." 

Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 29:

There were the pallbearers, spread out over six blocks, who carried 600 cardboard coffins draped with homemade flags as symbols of soldiers killed in Iraq.

Then there were those for whom the dead were much more than a symbol, such as Sue Niederer of Hopewell, N.J., who marched with a sign that read: "President Bush, You killed my son."

The massive antiwar march filled dozens of city blocks for nearly five hours Sunday, a slow-moving but noisy procession that offered hundreds of thousands of protesters the chance to vent their anger as they passed the site of the Republican National Convention, which opens Monday.

Blocked from holding a rally in Central Park, thousands of marchers headed there anyway, forming human peace signs and spelling "no" on the Great Lawn and continuing to protest into the evening. ...

[read more]

Terrorist Troika in Kirksville, Mo. Nabbed by G-Men 

Obviously, the FBI still believes in the cartoon of anarchists as bomb-throwing rabble.

New York Times, Aug. 28:

Chris Scheets, a part-time cook and full-time anarchist in a college town in Missouri, piled into a van on Friday with some friends to make the trek to New York City to protest the Republican National Convention.

It was a trip he had not figured he would be making.

Late last month, F.B.I. agents followed him for days, Mr. Sheets said, and he and two friends were subpoenaed before a federal grand jury to tell what they knew about possible violent protests in New York. That led the three to cancel a trip to Boston to demonstrate that day at the Democratic National Convention, and Mr. Scheets said he was so frazzled that he scrapped plans to go to New York.

He changed his mind, he said in an interview, because "I still think it's necessary to protest things going on in this country."

Mr. Scheets, 20, now finds himself at the center of a brewing debate on security at major political events and maintaining civil rights, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation has mounted an extensive effort to identify and question people who it suspects may be planning acts of violence at political demonstrations.

Mr. Scheets and his friends, Ben Garrett, 24, and Daniel Coate, 22, have maintained low profiles since their case surfaced last week, with their lawyers refusing to identify them publicly. Breaking their silence, the three men insisted in interviews that they were not planning any violence at the conventions and that they could not explain the F.B.I.'s interest in them.

The three, all from Kirksville, Mo., received letters from federal prosecutors last month informing them that they were targets of an investigation into domestic terrorism. A federal law enforcement official said this week that the inquiry was active.

Federal law enforcement officials in Missouri and Washington refused to comment specifically on the inquiry or say why the men were subpoenaed, because it is a grand jury case. They repeated that the inquiries in Missouri and elsewhere were just focused on identifying violent demonstrators, not chilling political protests.

Attorney General John Ashcroft was asked about the official interviews last week at a news conference. Mr. Ashcroft defended the inquiry and added that it was "an outrageous distortion to suggest that any interviews we conducted were designed to thwart freedom."

The attorney general said "a very few individuals" had been questioned. Law enforcement officials placed the number at no more than about 24. Civil rights monitors and protest leaders said they believed that at least 50 people, and perhaps many more, had been contacted in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Kansas City, New York, St. Louis and elsewhere. In the Missouri case, Mr. Garrett said he knew of 25 or 30 friends and relatives contacted by the F.B.I.

Several people questioned by the bureau said agents never asked specifically about a possible bomb plot in Boston. Instead, the people said they had generally been asked the same set of questions: whether they were planning violence at the conventions or other major political events, whether they knew anyone who was and whether they realized it could be considered a crime to withhold such information.

Although the three from Missouri described themselves as anarchists intent on creating a "nonhierarchical" structure in American society, they said they opposed violence. Their recent experience, they said, has only intensified their concerns. ...

The attorney general said "a very few individuals" had been questioned. Law enforcement officials placed the number at no more than about 24. Civil rights monitors and protest leaders said they believed that at least 50 people, and perhaps many more, had been contacted in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Kansas City, New York, St. Louis and elsewhere. In the Missouri case, Mr. Garrett said he knew of 25 or 30 friends and relatives contacted by the F.B.I.

Several people questioned by the bureau said agents never asked specifically about a possible bomb plot in Boston. Instead, the people said they had generally been asked the same set of questions: whether they were planning violence at the conventions or other major political events, whether they knew anyone who was and whether they realized it could be considered a crime to withhold such information.

Although the three from Missouri described themselves as anarchists intent on creating a "nonhierarchical" structure in American society, they said they opposed violence. Their recent experience, they said, has only intensified their concerns. ...

[read more]

Every Move You Make 

Police surveillance in New York City during the Republican National Convention this week is unprecedented. See a map of the hundreds of surveillance cameras in Times Square. [say chesseburger]

[read more]

Doing Business With the Enemy 

Leslie Stahl took a break from CBS' mystery theater long enough last January to delve into how your 401K retirement and pension funds invest in companies such as Halliburton, General Electric, and Conoco, all of which use off-shore shell companies to do business with "rogue nations" such as Iran. Her 60 Minutes segments aired again last night.

If you discern a pattern here, you're not alone. Ahmad Chalabi, the former Pentagon darling now accused of aiding Iran, appears to be part of the same club along with VP Cheney, who led Hallibuton before being appointed second in command by the Bush Bund.

Not surprisingly, General Electric, a mega defense contractor, slammed CBS for its one-sided reporting. GE owns CBS' competing television network, NBC.

CBS, Aug. 29:

by Leslie Stahl

Did it ever occur to you that when President Bush says, "Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations," he's talking about your money -- and every other American's money?

Just about everyone with a 401(k) pension plan or mutual fund has money invested in companies that are doing business in so-called rogue states.

In other words, there are U.S. companies that are helping drive the economies of countries like Iran, Syria and Libya, all places that have sponsored terrorists. Correspondent Lesley Stahl reported on this story last January.

"The revenue that is generated from the work that these companies are doing, we believe, helps to underwrite and support terrorism,” says William Thompson, the New York City comptroller who oversees the $80 billion in pension funds for all city workers. ...

[read more]

Hersh Speaks Not 

Seymour Hersh, the acclaimed Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist, has cancelled his Sept. 15 lecture at Washington University's Gramham chapel. Bummer. Hersh broke the Abu Ghraib story in New Yorker magazine.

[read more]

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