Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Zero tolerance 

Bush today said that he has "zero tolerance" for leaking from his administration staff. But obviously he has SOME tolerance for it, since Robert Novak's admission that he had been told by senior administration officials that Joseph Wilson's wife was an undercover CIA operative was made in July.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

This is all over the blogs... 

It seems the vindictiveness, arogance, and utter sliminess of the Bush administration may have finally caught up with it.

"Senior administration officials" illegally leaked the name of a CIA operative, the wife of a man who was critical of Bush's claims that Iraq was buying yellowcake in Africa. The CIA has urged the Justice Department to investigate and the JD has agreed to look into the matter.

This has caused quite the firestorm around the blogs and it seems the internet media do not want to let this one die.

Read about it here.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Socializing Iraq 

Take a look at what our administration is spending that $87 billion on. This makes the $700 hammer look like a wise investment.

Even Republicans are starting to sit up and take notice.

Those details include $100 million to build seven planned communities with a total of 3,258 houses, plus roads, an elementary school, two high schools, a clinic, a place of worship and a market for each; $10 million to finance 100 prison-building experts for six months, at $100,000 an expert; 40 garbage trucks at $50,000 each; $900 million to import petroleum products such as kerosene and diesel to a country with the world's second-largest oil reserves; and $20 million for a four-week business course, at $10,000 per student.

"If those are what the costs are, I'm glad Congress is asking questions," said Brian Reidl, a budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "If the White House wants to be portrayed as spending tax dollars in Iraq as cost-effectively as they spend [money] anywhere else, they're going to have to explain this."

Already, the administration's request for $400 million to build two 4,000-bed prisons at $50,000 a bed has raised enough questions in Congress to force Provisional Authority Administrator L. Paul Bremer to explain that cement must be imported to make concrete.

"We're not talking sanity here," Dyer said. "The world's second-largest oil country is importing oil, and a country full of concrete is importing concrete."

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Bush's Bad Karma 

This comes from the Washington Post, courtesy of Kicking Ass.

When Bush was stumping for his "jobs and growth" tax cut proposal in April, he went to Timken Co., a maker of steel bearings in Canton, Ohio. "The greatest strength of the American economy is found right here," Bush said then, predicting the tax cut would bring "more money for investment, more money for growth, and more money for jobs."

A month later, Bush signed a $350 billion tax cut, less than he wanted but still what he called "a bold package." And Timken? The company announced last week that it is cutting 900 jobs and lowering its earnings forecasts.

Republicans admit total failure of tax cut to create jobs, propose new package 

The Hill.

The dissatisfaction with the job they're doing is finally catching up with Republicans, who have proposed a new jobs creation package. That's certainly something they didn't think they'd need. According to them, we should be swimming in jobs by now, what with Bush's THREE gigantic tax cuts for the rich.

But the economy continues to hemmorage jobs, causing concern among Republicans who know they have no one to blame but themselves (although that won't stop them from trying).

Monday, September 22, 2003

Issa confirms Republican power grab 

Issa today said that the recall should be about installing a Republican governor or he would urge voters to reject the recall that he personally bank-rolled.

Also on Monday Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, who bankrolled the effort to get the recall on the ballot with $1.7 million, said he was adamant that either McClintock or Schwarzenegger drop out of the race. If not, he said he would urge voters to reject the recall because it would assure a Bustamante victory.

In other words, it isn't about removing Davis or the best interests of the state. It's about grabbing power for Republicans.

Issa confirms Republican power-grab 

Even when Bush tries to tell the truth, he gets it wrong 

But who can really blame him? He's just not that used to it.

From the Star Tribune via DNC:

Even in acknowledging the lack of a link [between Iraq and the September 11 attacks], Bush didn't get everything right. Referring to Vice President Dick Cheney's appearance on "Meet the Press" last Sunday, the president said Cheney was referring only to links between Al-Qaida and Iraq, not links between Iraq and Sept. 11.

Bush is wrong. He's trying to spin what Cheney said. It's true that the vice president didn't come right out and say the Iraq-Sept. 11 link exists. But he certainly implied it in ever so many ways. He said he wasn't surprised that 70 percent of the American people believe the link exists. He said, "We don't know" if there is a link, when he could and should have said, "We have no evidence of such a link." That would have been so much more honest.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Bush attacks the "discourse," but not the charges 

Bush responded to Kennedy's charges of fraud today by attacking the commentator, but not the comment.

"I don't mind people trying to pick apart my policies, and that's fine and that's fair game," Bush said in the interview that will air Monday night. "But, you know, I don't think we're serving our nation well by allowing the discourse to become so uncivil that people say — use words that they shouldn't be using."

"Words they shouldn't be using." Does this remind anyone of Ari Fleischer's "People had better watch what they say" comments in Sept. 2001? Why didn't Bush deny the charges that Kennedy was leveling against the administration. The attack on Kennedy's bluntness seems like a shoot-the-messenger defense Bush has employed many times before.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Clark's Views 

Thanks to The Yin Blog.

Forget the sound bites and the incompetent (or non-existent) media reporting. This guy actually met the man and had a nice long talk with him.

* On social security, he seems to think that the solution to the anticipated deficit was to raise the cap on the Social Security taxes (i.e., currently, only the first $87,000 or so of income is subject to the payroll tax). He is against raising the retirement age, because that is the same as a cut in benefits. At the same time, he recognizes that the "lockbox" concept is nonsense, because the government has a "unified" budget.

* On the kinds of judicial nominees he would aim for, he said that he would look for ones who bring balance and no ideological agenda; he identified Justices Breyer and Souter as examples.

* On terrorism, he favors focusing on the terrorists and funding, as opposed to countries. However, in probably the most controversial part of his speech, he singled out Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt as the "central fronts" -- Saudi Arabia because of "hatred spewing out of" the country, Pakistan because of its madrassas, and Egypt to a lesser extent.

* On whether U.S. soldiers should serve in U.N. missions led by non-Americans, he was skeptical. The U.N. was fine for observer or peacekeeping missions, but for missions with the serious potential for military conflict, the U.N. had no military command capability. He prefers a NATO command, because "we trust NATO commanders." But he emphasized the need for the U.N. imprimatur because around the rest of the world, what the U.N. says is law.

* He did realize that aspects of the U.N. were less than perfect. He refused to defend the fact that Syria is chairing the U.N. Disarmament Commission and that Libya is chairing the U.N. Humans Rights Commission, labeling those as "absurd."

He impressed many of my colleagues and me. Of course, considering that many (most?) of my colleagues are Democrats, perhaps that's not unexpected. But I have to say that given the breadth of questions he was getting, he showed remarkable command of factual matters and political issues. What I was most impressed with was his willingness to accept reality and to state clear opinions. The Social Security question was probably the best indication of this. You might disagree with raising the cap on the amount of income subject to the payroll tax, but the reality is that there are only four things that can be done: (1) raise the retirement age; (2) cut benefits; (3) raise the payroll tax (either the rate or the amount of income taxed); or (4) some combination of two or all three. Some people might think it is better to cut benefits, say, to the wealthy elderly by means-testing. Some might think we should all suffer a little and cut benefits across the board. But I give Gen. Clark immense credit for being, as far as I can tell, the first of the major candidates to select from that unpalatable menu.

What does $87 billion buy? 

From Tom Paine.com:

$87b Is More Than The Combined Total Of All State Budget Deficits In The United States

The Bush administration proposed absolutely zero funds to help states deal with these deficits, despite the fact that their tax cuts drove down state revenues. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

$87b Is Rougly The Total Of Two Years Worth Of All U.S. Unemployment Benefits

The U.S. spends about $50 billion a year on unemployment insurance. At least 1.1 million people have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits without finding a job, and yet Congress has refused to extend benefits. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

$87b Is Enough To Pay The 3.3 Million People Who Have Lost Jobs $26,363 Each

The unemployment benefits extension passed by Congress at the beginning of this year provides zero benefits to "workers who exhausted their regular, state unemployment benefits and cannot find work." All told, two thirds of unemployed workers have exhausted their benefits. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]


$87b Is Enough To Give Every Man, Woman And Child In America $300

"[We] want to control spending. And I hope Congress lives up to their words. When they talk about deficits, they can join us in making sure we don't overspend. They can join us and make sure that [they are] focused those items that are absolutely necessary to the American people." - President Bush, Jan. 6, 2003

Iraqi governing council member shot 

There are few details, like who shot her or her condition. In any case, that can't have very good political ramifications.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Oh Really Factor 

Tom Tomorrow recommends a new book from FAIR called "The Oh Really Factor." Here are some excerpts:

O'REILLY: Commenting on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that forcing students to say the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional: "The reason they're even sitting there is because they were appointed by liberal politicians. Conservative politicians would never appoint the pinheads sitting on the Ninth Circuit" (3/4/03).

OH REALLY: The opinion in the Pledge of Allegiance case was drafted by Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, who was appointed by Richard Nixon.

* * *

O'REILLY: Explaining free speech rights to a high school student, who backed the establishment of a Satanic club at school: "They don't have any First Amendment rights. As soon as they walk in the door . . . Yes, they don't have any. Joe, do you realize that, as soon as you walk in the San Mateo High School door, you don't have any rights, that you have to do what the teachers tell you to do?" (10/2/02)

OH REALLY: "It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech . . . at the schoolhouse gates" (U.S. Supreme Court, Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969).

For the record, O'Reilly already knows this. When a high school student was suspended by his school for putting up pro-war flyers, he sued the school and won. O'Reilly had him on the show to cheer his legal victory: "A federal judge has ruled the school violated the boy's freedom of speech rights. The school administrators were ordered by the judge to undergo constitutional rights training, and the school board has been ordered to pay Aaron and his parents $3,000" (11/30/01). Maybe O'Reilly could get some of the same training.

* * *

O'REILLY: "The Founders were not concerned with the minority rights, they were concerned with everybody's rights."

OH REALLY: "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression" (Thomas Jefferson, "First Inaugural Address," March 4, 1801).

* * *

O'REILLY: "I never heard Mr. Clinton once say, come out and say, we need more discipline in the schools, we need tougher standards, we need alternative schools because we don't want the student body to be diverted by just a few. I never heard any of that" (3/27/01).

OH REALLY: "I have laid before the Congress a number of proposals that will make education our number-one priority and result in dramatic improvements of our schools: smaller classes, better teaching, higher standards, expanded choice, more discipline, greater accountability" (Bill Clinton, speech, 5/7/98).

* * *

O'REILLY: "On Tuesday, we presented a story that said Senator Hillary Clinton has not attended any of the funerals of everyday victims of 9/11. The critical mail poured in. 'You don't like Hillary,' they wailed, 'leave her alone.' Nobody challenged the accuracy of the story" (11/29/01).

OH REALLY: Clinton attended the funeral of Sonia Morales Puopolo, who died at the World Trade Center (Associated Press, 10/6/01), and a memorial service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for seventy-nine workers missing from the Windows on the World restaurant (New York Daily News, 10/2/01).

* * *

O'REILLY: When Kathleen Willey came forward and accused Bill Clinton of having made an unwanted sexual advance towards her in 1993, O'Reilly suggested that the incident had led to her husband's suicide: "I believe Kathleen Willey when she says that private detectives hounded her, that they tried to break her, that they tried to threaten her, and her husband committed suicide. This is another example of all of it emanating from Bill Clinton" (1/15/01).

OH REALLY: Willey's husband killed himself the day that the alleged incident took place. According to Willey, an investigation suggesting that her husband had embezzled from clients at his law firm were what contributed to his suicide-not pressure from Clinton's "private detectives."

America's Rich Geting Richer 

At least someone is doing well under the Bush administration.

After two years of declining wealth, the aggregate net worth of the wealthiest 400 U.S. citizens climbed 10 percent in the past year to $955 billion, thanks largely to a recovering stock market, according to the annual list released by Forbes magazine.

The wealth also runs in tight circles. Among the top 25 richest, 12 are related, with members of the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame taking spots 4 through 8.

Bush's Lies 

Calpundit has an excellent analysis of the Bush administration MO and how it approaches its lying.

Kennedy calls the war a "fraud." 

In the most direct accusations yet against this administration by a prominent politician, Sen. Kennedy called the war a fraud and questioned the allocation of funds to Iraq, saying that $1.5 billion is unaccounted for.

“There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud,” Kennedy said.

Boycotting the debate? 

Four of the top California recall candidates have found some common ground. They've all threatened to boycott a debate with AH-nuld, complaining that the format is too scripted.

Gotta love this freakin' monkey circus!

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Another Vietnam? 

Unlike Bush (and Saxby Chambliss, the scumbag who attacked Cleland's patriotism), Max Cleland was actually there. He compares the current administration war against Iraq to that other debacle.

The war is started with an air and ground attack. Initially there is optimism. The president says we are winning. The cocky, self-assured secretary of defense says we are winning. As a matter of fact, the secretary of defense promises the troops will be home soon.

However, the truth on the ground that the soldiers face in the war is different than the political policy that sent them there. They face increased opposition from a determined enemy. They are surprised by terrorist attacks, village assassinations, increasing casualties and growing anti-American sentiment. They find themselves bogged down in a guerrilla land war, unable to move forward and unable to disengage because there are no allies to turn the war over to.

There is no plan B. There is no exit strategy. Military morale declines. The president's popularity sinks and the American people are increasingly frustrated by the cost of blood and treasure poured into a never-ending war.

Sound familiar? It does to me.

The president was Lyndon Johnson. The cocky, self-assured secretary of defense was Robert McNamara. The congressional resolution was the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. The war was the war that I, U.S. Sens. John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and John McCain and 3 1/2 million other Americans of our generation were caught up in. It was the scene of America's longest war. It was also the locale of the most frustrating outcome of any war this nation has ever fought.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

They Smear Because They Fear 

Joe Conason's editorial is just too good to pass up.

What is coming already -- as my friend Hesiod points out in a fascinating, thorough post on Counterspin Central -- is the predictable sliming of Clark by his moral inferiors, descending from Rush Limbaugh to David Horowitz. Hesiod lists the first tranche of right-wing accusations against Clark, which of course contradict each other (he was too tough, he's not tough enough, and so on). Logic, fact, relevance and decency will in no instance be permitted to intrude on the smearing that is about to begin. The radio gabblers and the Internet nutcases will smear Clark because they and their master Karl Rove fear him.

No one will be surprised by any of this, of course. It's par for the course for this rotten administration and its bag of unscrupulous cronies.

It's all France's fault. 

How creative.

A Soldier's Doubt 

This editorial appeared in the LA Times today and was previously pulished in the Peoria Star Journal.

Thankfully I have not been a personal witness to any atrocities, unless of course you consider, as I do, this war to be the ultimate atrocity.

So then, what is our purpose here?

Was this invasion because of weapons of mass destruction, as we so often have heard? If so, where are they? Did we invade to dispose of a leader and his regime because they were closely associated with Osama bin Laden? If so, where is the proof? Or is it that our incursion is a result of our own economic advantage? Iraq's oil can be refined at the lowest cost of any in the world. Coincidence?

This looks like a modern-day crusade not to free an oppressed people or to rid the world of a demonic dictator relentless in his pursuit of conquest and domination but a crusade to control another nation's natural resource. At least to me, oil seems to be the reason for our presence.

Tim Predmore is on active duty with the 101st Airborne Division near Mosul, Iraq.

Too Little Truth on Iraq 

The Star Tribune catches Dick Cheney in a couple of big lies on Iraq.

In his appearance on "Meet the Press" Sunday, Cheney fell woefully short of truth. On the subject of Iraq, the same can be said for President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. But Cheney is the latest example of administration mendacity, and therefore a good place to start in holding the administration accountable.

• Cheney said that "we don't know" if there is a connection between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. He's right only in the sense that "we don't know" if the sun will come up tomorrow. But all the evidence available says it will -- and that Iraq was not involved in Sept. 11.

Cheney offered stuff, but it wasn't evidence. He said that one of those involved in planning the attack, an Iraqi-American, had returned to Iraq after the attack and had been protected, perhaps even supported, by Saddam Hussein. That proves exactly nothing about Iraq's links to the attack itself.

Cheney also cited a supposed meeting in Prague between hijacker Mohamed Atta and a senior Iraqi intelligence officer -- but the FBI concluded that Atta was in Florida at the time of the supposed meeting. The CIA always doubted the story. And according to a New York Times article on Oct. 21, 2002, Czech President Vaclav Havel "quietly told the White House he has concluded that there is no evidence to confirm earlier reports" of such a meeting.

Moreover, the United States now has in custody the agent accused of meeting with Atta. Even though he must know how much he would benefit by simply saying, "Yes, I met Atta in Prague," there has been no announcement by the administration trumpeting that vindication of its belief in an Iraq-Sept. 11 link.

• In trying to make that link, Cheney baldly asserted that Iraq is the "geographic base" for those who struck the United States on Sept. 11. No, that would be Afghanistan.

What's especially interesting about Cheney's comments is how they directly contradict a couple of recent administration positions on these issues, namely Rumsfeld's recent denial of any connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Update: Bush himself just denied any connection between Saddam and 9-11.

Welcome to Fighting Back 

Welcome to Fighting Back, the political site for progressive Democrats and independents tired of the lying Bush administration machine.

You can visit some of my old posts at http://fightingback.blog-city.com. I've posted articles and comments that I hope will go some small way to bringing down the dangerous Bush regime and replace it with something more sensible (which, at this point, includes everything from jellyfish to blind monkeys).


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