Friday, September 10, 2004

Bush administration is "failing the test of protecting the American people from the terrorist threat at home and abroad."

Three years after 9/11, American Progress' report card
( ,
"Failing Grades," judges the Bush administration deserves a "C-" for its
prosecution of the war against terrorism, a "D" for its use of the
military, and a long stay in detention for its disastrous field trip to
Iraq. The Bush administration's key moments of failure in these three
subjects were, respectively, failing to secure Afghanistan or apprehend
Osama bin Laden, stretching the military thin by embarking on a war of
choice before Afghanistan was secure and, finally, misleading the American
people and rushing to Iraq on false pretenses without international
support. All in all, the report concludes the Bush administration is
"failing the test of protecting the American people from the terrorist
threat at home and abroad."


A Failed Investigation
A Failed Investigation

Friday, September 10, 2004; Page A28

A DAY OF congressional hearings yesterday confirmed two glaring gaps in the Bush administration's response to hundreds of cases of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first is one of investigation: Major allegations of wrongdoing, including some touching on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other senior administration officials, have yet to be explored by any arms-length probe. The second concerns accountability. Although several official panels have documented failings by senior military officers and their superiors in Washington, those responsible face no sanction of any kind, even as low-ranking personnel are criminally prosecuted. To use the phrase of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), this "is beginning to look like a bad movie."

Mr. Rumsfeld has frequently boasted of the number of Pentagon investigations into the abuse scandal and has maintained that no others are necessary. Yet the senior officer in charge of one of those probes, Gen. Paul J. Kern, told the Senate Armed Services Committee of two major areas that remain unexplored. One is the Army's accommodation of dozens of "ghost prisoners" held by the CIA and deliberately hidden from the International Red Cross in violation of the Geneva Conventions and Army regulations. Mr. Rumsfeld has acknowledged that at least one of those prisoners was held by his personal order -- an order that two former secretaries of defense, James R. Schlesinger and Harold Brown, testified was "not consistent" with international law. Gen. Kern reported that the CIA had flatly refused to provide his team with information about the ghost prisoners or their handling -- prompting Mr. McCain's acerbic comment.

The only investigation of those cases underway -- other than the internal review the CIA claims to be conducting behind its stone wall -- is assigned to the Army's inspector general, Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek. Yet Gen. Mikolashek has already delivered one report purporting to find no evidence of such detainees, and according to reporting by Elise Ackerman of the Knight Ridder news service, Gen. Mikolashek himself commanded ground forces in Afghanistan at a time when ghost detainees were being held.

Gen. Kern also acknowledged that the Pentagon has never answered the critical question of how harsh interrogation techniques promoted by Mr. Rumsfeld and other political appointees at the Pentagon and the Justice Department "found their way into documentation that we found at Abu Ghraib," the notorious prison outside Baghdad. As Sen. Lindsay O. Graham (R-S.C.) pointed out, those techniques were "way out of bounds"; "inappropriately" classified memos, he said, show that professional military lawyers opposed them from the beginning because "they violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, they violated international law and they would get our people in trouble."

Nevertheless, as Gen. Kern put it, tactics that were "being debated back here in the United States found [their] way into the hard drives of the computers that we found in the prison." No investigation has clarified that "migration," or why Mr. Rumsfeld and other senior officials allowed it to occur even after the methods they proposed were determined to be improper.

Nor has the malfeasance by senior officials so far documented been attached to any formal consequences. Investigators confirmed that senior officers in the headquarters of Iraq commander in chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, including two generals, knew of the illegal abuses at Abu Ghraib but failed to report them to more senior commanders. Gen. Sanchez himself twice signed off on interrogation policies that, the investigators found, contained illegal methods and opened the way to abuses. Yet none of these senior officers face the courts-martial of more junior personnel, or any other sanction. Rather, the Bush administration's investigators are striving to protect them: Gen. Kern insisted that Gen. Sanchez was "a hero."

To his credit, Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, refused to accept this dodge. Instead, he asked that Gen. Kern and his associates reexamine the cases of Gen. Sanchez and other senior officers, and he pledged to investigate the ghost prisoner affair. Yet it seems unlikely that a single congressional committee, buffeted by the pressures of an election year, will succeed in filling the holes it has uncovered.

The best solution is that recommended this week by eight retired generals and admirals, including a former U.S. commander in the Middle East: an independent commission like the one that which studied the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The former officers said the panel was needed "to investigate and report on the truth about all of these allegations, and to chart a course for how practices that violate the law should be addressed." As yesterday's hearings showed, the Bush administration has failed at both those tasks.


Remember the deficit

Boston Globe

Remember the deficit

By Scot Lehigh | September 10, 2004

IT'S A lamentable absence in campaign 2004: A serious discussion of the crippling debt this nation is accumulating.

"There are a bunch of goals about how we are going to cut the deficit in half, but no specifics on how we are going to do it," says former Commerce Secretary Peter Peterson, a leading deficit hawk and author of the newly published "Running on Empty," a cogent critique of the nation's fiscal situation.

That failure is worth contemplating during a week when we've just gotten our last pre-election look at the budgetary bottom line.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this year's federal deficit will hit $422 billion, a record in dollar terms. Further, on our current course, the nation will still rack up a deficit of more than $300 billion in 2009 -- and will add $2.3 trillion in new debt over the next 10 years.

Actually, the 10-year estimate will in all probability be low. Congressional budgeteers assumed, for example, that all the Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of 2010, when few believe that will happen. Further, the campaign proposals from either John Kerry or George W. Bush would add markedly to the river of red ink.

"Relative to that CBO baseline, both Bush and Kerry add something more than a trillion dollars to the deficit," says Robert Bixby, executive director of the deficit-battling Concord Coalition.

When it comes to the Republican incumbent, that's largely because the budget office assumes the sunsetting of the tax cuts, while Bush wants to make all those tax reductions permanent. If you include Bush's proposal to let workers keep part of their Social Security in personal investment accounts, he would swell the debt by more than $2 trillion over 10 years, Bixby says.

Although Kerry would repeal the tax cuts for couples making more than $200,000 a year, doing so wouldn't slash the deficit, since the Democratic nominee would use the revenue to fund new social programs. Kerry has also pledged to reimpose budgetary rules requiring new programs to be offset with new revenues or cuts in other spending.

"But even if he did that, he would still be at the same place with regard to the deficit," says Bixby.

Still, William Gale, a Brookings Institution economist who specializes in tax and fiscal policy, gives Kerry an edge on fiscal responsibility.

The president started his term with a projected 10-year surplus of more than $5 trillion, Gale notes, only to have his policies help turn it into a projected deficit of almost $3 trillion over the same period.

"Bush has a proven track record of fiscal irresponsibility," he says. "Kerry is focusing on this as a theme, even if the choices one has to make when governing haven't been made yet."

From an equity standpoint, Kerry also does Bush one better. Kerry's most expensive single proposal is his health-care plan, which he would fund by repealing some of Bush's tax cuts. That plan would deliver significant benefits to working and middle class families.

The Bush tax cuts, by contrast, are skewed toward upper earners. According to a new analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, the top fifth of households got almost 65 percent of the benefit, receiving an average tax cut of $4,669, while taxpayers in the middle quintile got an average break of $756.

And it gets even less equitable as incomes go up. The top 1 percent got a break of $33,864; the top half of one percent garnered $55,596; and the top one-10th of one percent received $170,459.

It's true, of course, that those taxpayers paid much more in taxes than taxpayers in the lower quintiles. But here's where an observation of conservative economist Milton Friedman's applies: A long-term tax cut is not a tax cut at all unless it is accompanied by long-term spending reductions. Rather, it is simply a deferred tax increase on future taxpayers, who must repay the borrowing required to finance today's spending.

So who will pay for a tax-reduction policy slanted toward the wealthy? "Our kids and grandkids," answers Len Burman, co-director of the center. And in any number of ways.

"It could be that they will face much higher taxes than we ever faced," Burman says. "They could also very well experience tremendous cuts in public services and very sluggish economic growth because of the taxes needed to pay off these obligations."

That's all the more reason why today's voters should demand a real discussion of our financial responsibilities to the future.


As war toll climbs, Bush still deceives

Boston Globe

As war toll climbs, Bush still deceives

By Derrick Z. Jackson | September 10, 2004

AS THE 1,000th American soldier perished in Iraq, President Bush dispatched his emergency crews to repair the downed wires that connect Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11 in the minds of many Americans. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz compared the ideologies behind Sept. 11 to Nazism, where "the two central fronts of course are Afghanistan and Iraq."

In the speech where he said a John Kerry presidency may mean "we'll get hit again," Vice President Dick Cheney said Saddam "had a relationship with Al Qaeda" and "had been a sponsor of terror." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said at a briefing, "As we commemorate the third anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, it's appropriate to honor the fallen and to reflect on how far we have come and to determine what more might be done. Consider three years ago Osama bin Laden was the co-conspirator of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. . . . Three years ago, Saddam Hussein and his regime were making a mockery of the United Nations. . . . The president faced a choice between confronting Saddam then or facing an even graver threat in the future."

Just to make sure the light of Sept. 11 continues to shine brightly on Saddam, Bush put on his political galoshes and waded out into streets awash in his deception. Hammering in what he said at the Republican convention, he said in Missouri, "Do I forget the lessons of September 11th and take the word of a madman, or do I take action to defend this country? Given that choice, I will defend America every time. Because we acted to defend ourself, because we took action to make America a safer place, more than 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq are now free."

As the 1,000th soldier died, it matters less than ever to Bush -- if that was possible -- that the Senate Intelligence Committee said there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the time of the invasion. It still does not matter that the bipartisan 9/11 Commission looked at past contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda and found "no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence that Iraq cooperated with Al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."

Most of all, it does not matter that it has been a year since Bush was forced to admit, "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th." He continues to electrify crowds with sizzling juxtapositions. If you say "Sept. 11," "madman" and "defend this country" enough, it clearly is enough to drive Americans mad.

Thirteen months ago, a Washington Post poll found that 69 percent of Americans believed that Saddam was "personally involved" in Sept. 11 and 82 percent thought Saddam "provided assistance to Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network." This overwhelming agreement was a natural result of an overwhelming public relations assault by the White House.

The assault was most noted by Cheney's televised assertion back then that Iraq is part of the "continuing operation on the war on terror." Cheney said victory in Iraq "will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."

The assault is still working. Despite the findings of the 9/11 Commission and a general decline in support for the war, the percentage of Americans who still believe that Saddam was involved in Sept. 11 or provided aid to Al Qaeda remains significant. In a Newsweek poll last week, 42 percent of Americans still think Saddam was "directly involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks." Only 44 percent say he was not directly involved, and 14 percent remain unsure. That is virtually unchanged from a June New York Times/CBS poll that found 41 percent of Americans still thought Saddam was tied to 9/11.

Despite the facts, America remains roughly split over whether the war was just, which Bush hopes will be just enough in November. All his reasons for invading Iraq are dead. The 1,000th soldier is dead. The downed cables of Iraq sizzle in the street. The Bush presidency hangs on whether he can keep Saddam a live wire, avoiding the fatal shock of truth.


Is there a Yale presidential conspiracy?

The Boston Globe
Is there a Yale presidential conspiracy?

By H.D.S. Greenway | September 10, 2004

CONSPIRACY theorists have noted that for the last 15 years every occupant of the White House has held a degree from Yale University. Indeed, there has been a Yalie on the ticket in every presidential race for the last 32 years, running either for president or vice president.

During the primary season, three of the Democratic contenders hoping to wrest the presidency from Yale man George Bush were also Yale men: John Kerry, Howard Dean, and Joe Lieberman. And Yale's run will continue no matter who wins in November. With Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush waiting in the wings, who knows how long this will continue? How about Barbara Bush, Yale '04, versus Anne Dean, '06, in a decade or two?

Furthermore, both John Kerry and George Bush were members of America's most famous college club, the secret society of Skull and Bones. Even though it takes in only 15 seniors a year, "Bones" can claim all of Yale's White House occupants: William Howard Taft, George H.W. Bush, and his son, fueling the conspiratorial fires of the secret manipulation of American society by sinister elites.

Yale and Harvard are neck and neck in the number of past presidents, albeit Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton had Yale law degrees and were not Yale undergraduates. If Kerry wins, Yale will surge ahead, although some might argue that Harvard's two Adamses, two Roosevelts, and John F. Kennedy might have a qualitative edge.

But, clearly, this is Yale's moment, and it is fair to ask why. When F. Scott Fitzgerald was looking at colleges he found Harvard sort of indoors. He found Yale brisk and energetic like a day in October. But Princeton, he wrote, was lazy and aristocratic like a day in June, and so he chose Princeton.

Fitzgerald's description of Yale was apt. Yale has often seemed more driven than its rivals. Alexandra Robbins, author of a book about Skull and Bones, quotes Italian scholar and Yale professor Thomas Bergin, who wrote in 1982 that while no one "seemed in a hurry" at Cornell, Yale was always in high gear. Yet "as much work seemed to get done in the one place as the other . . . The difference it seemed to me was that the old, puritanical imperatives of service, competition, and awards still linger in New Haven."

Yale was founded in 1701, 65 years after Harvard, by dissident Harvard men who thought that Harvard was losing its religious fervor. Old Yale encapsulated a tradition of manliness and honor. It is hard to imagine those ancient heroes of boy's literature, Dink Stover and Frank Merriwell, going anywhere but Yale. Whereas individualism might flourish at Harvard, Yale stressed team play, conformity, and the Roman virtues.

Although Yale owes much to Oxford and Cambridge, many of its traditions grew out of America's fascination with German education in the early 19th century. Yale's anthem, "Bright College Years," is the same tune, but not the words, that the German officers sing in "Casablanca" when they are drowned out by the rest of the customers singing the "Marseillaise" at Rick's Cafe.

Yale's secret societies, of which Skull and Bones is the oldest (1842), were born in the tradition of early 19th-century German romanticism that inspired Wagner. Although dueling with sabers never made it to New Haven, the Yale societies still share a lot with their German counterparts.

The secrecy part certainly has lent an aura to Yale's senior societies and to Yale's mystique. It is no coincidence that the statue of America's first spy, Yale man Nathan Hale, that graces the old campus in New Haven is replicated at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.

Yale was changing fast when Bush and Kerry were experiencing their college years. The university was becoming more egalitarian, more diverse, leading up to the admission of women in 1969, the year after George W. Bush graduated. Skull and Bones didn't follow suit until 1991.

Yale is more of a meritocracy and more intellectual now, but a faint penumbra of the old "puritanical imperatives of service" remains. On a bright autumn day in New Haven that last line of the college song, "For God for Country and for Yale," may not seem quite the classic definition of anticlimax that it is.


Rearming wrongdoers

Boston Globe
Rearming wrongdoers

September 10, 2004

THE UNITED States will become less safe on Monday if, as expected, President Bush and Congress allow the ban on assault weapons to expire. Opponents of the ban think they have politics on their side, but voters need to make it clear in November that they oppose increased lethality in a society already awash with guns.

The law, approved by Congress in 1994, bans 118 kinds of military-style assault weapons, both rifles and handguns, and prohibits the sale of large-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds. Gun violence dropped just after the law was passed. Much of this was coincidental, but reports from police departments around the country showed significant declines in the use of assault weapons in crime. Passage of the law showed that the United States was getting serious about the consequences of its lax attitudes toward guns. Even with the decline in violence, 11,348 people were murdered in 2001, the latest national tally available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The law contained loopholes limiting its effectiveness. Weapons manufactured before Sept. 13, 1994, were grandfathered in, which means that 1.5 million assault weapons and 25 million large-capacity magazines remained legal. And 4.7 million large-capacity magazines manufactured before the ban were imported into the country after the law was enacted. A study for the National Institute of Justice, an arm of the Justice Department, found that the use of these magazines in crimes increased in the late 1990s in four cities studied, probably because so many were sold legally.

Rather than letting the law expire, Congress should amend it so that large-capacity magazines are restricted further. The study for the National Institute of Justice found that these are far more likely to be used in crimes than the banned assault weapons.

Bush as a candidate in 1999 said, "It makes no sense for assault weapons to be around our society." Despite perfunctory expressions of support by his administration, the bill to extend the ban remains stalled in Congress. "I think the will of the American people is consistent with letting it expire," said Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Senate majority leader. Polls show overwhelming backing for the law, but many supporters lack the passion and clout of its opponents, led by the National Rifle Association.

The Massachusetts Legislature has acted to extend the ban in this state -- a good move. But with criminals and guns easily crossing state lines, this is really a federal matter. After 9/11, Congress and the president need to focus on domestic as well as foreign threats. Voters should hold them accountable for refusing to extend and improve this sensible law to protect Americans from gun violence.


Cheney's threat

Boston Globe

Cheney's threat

September 10, 2004

WHEN VICE President Cheney said Tuesday that voters would increase the chances of another terrorist attack on America if they vote for John Kerry, he crossed what should be an impermeable line separating democratic decency from the sort of demagoguery that disfigures politics in places like Belarus, Burma, or Iran.

Cheney said of the voters' choice in the coming presidential election: "If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States." This assertion was not only false and defamatory; it was irrational.

The logic of Cheney's remark is that every American who votes for Kerry will be exposing every other American to another Sept. 11 or something even worse.

Yet Cheney himself told Fox News in May 2002, "I think that the prospects of a future attack on the US are almost a certainty." Now he pretends to know that another terrorist atrocity would be more likely in a Kerry administration than in a second Bush term. Cheney is also pretending that Kerry voters will be responsible for inviting any such attack. This flight from reason suggests an effort to make the public forget the failure of the Bush administration before Sept. 11 to heed repeated warnings of Al Qaeda's intention to attack the US homeland.

Richard Clarke, former terrorism adviser on President Bush's National Security Council, described in his book "Against All Enemies" his strenuous efforts to persuade his superiors to focus on the danger from Osama bin Laden's network. Describing George Tenet's efforts to make Bush grasp the looming terrorist threat in the summer of 2001, Clarke said the former CIA director had been coming to the White House each morning with "his hair on fire."

According to Clarke and other insiders, Bush, Cheney, and their colleagues often appeared to dismiss the threat from Al Qaeda purely because that threat had been a primary concern of the Clinton administration. Indeed, Bill Clinton has said he tried to warn Bush that bin Laden would demand attention as the number one danger to US security.

Cheney was one of the foremost Bush advisers who took office in January 2001 clinging to Cold War habits of mind. Those old cold warriors found it hard to take seriously a threat that did not emanate from a nation-state such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a rogue regime endowed with an army, a defense industry, and intelligence agencies. In this flawed view of the world, bin Laden was belittled as a non-state actor incapable of interfering with US strategic interests.

Bush and Cheney are entitled to base their campaign on a claim -- however debatable -- that they are best suited to protect Americans from terrorism. They are not entitled to claim that a vote for Kerry is a vote to expose the United States to another terrorist attack. Cheney owes an apology to the voters.


Polls are deceiving - Stop the polling!

As any statistician will tell you, statistics can be twisted to say what you want them to say. The same is true with polling, especially when "who" was polled, "what" exactly was asked, "how many" were actually polled, and what the personal views of those polled were before being polled, are all pieces of information that are NOT INCLUDED in the publishing of poll results.

Here is an example:

A poll after the Republican convention was highly publicized as showing an 11 point lead by Bush. What was less reported was that this was a poll of only 1000 people. What was never made clear was who these 1000 people were. Were they all Republican Delegates? Were they all in a mostly Republican section of the country? Were they folks who were leaning toward Bush before the convention but had not previously been polled? We don't know any of these things, and so, polling reports should be totally ignored and should not be reported in the first place, because they are, at best, misleading.


Secret Service Not Coddling Hecklers
Secret Service Not Coddling Hecklers

By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 10, 2004; Page A08

COLMAR, Pa., Sept. 9 -- Secret Service agents are famous for their willingness to take a bullet for the president. Less famous is their willingness to take out a heckler for the president.

Officially, the Secret Service does not concern itself with unarmed, peaceful demonstrators who pose no danger to the commander in chief. But that policy was inoperative here Thursday when seven AIDS activists who heckled President Bush during a campaign appearance were shoved and pulled from the room -- some by their hair, one by her bra straps -- and then arrested for disorderly conduct and detained for an hour.

After Bush campaign bouncers handled the evictions, Secret Service agents, accompanied by Bush's personal aide, supervised the arrests and detention of the activists and blocked the news media from access to the hecklers.

The Bush campaign has made unprecedented efforts to control access to its events. Sometimes, people are required to sign oaths of support before attending events with Bush or Vice President Cheney. At times, buses of demonstrators are diverted by police to idle in parking lots while supporters are waved in. And the Secret Service has played an unusual role; one agent cooperated with a plan by the Bush campaign last month to prevent former senator Max Cleland (Ga.), a Kerry ally, from handing a letter to the agent outside Bush's Texas ranch.

The seven activists, with the AIDS group Act Up Philadelphia, signed up as volunteers and came to the event site, a warehouse here in suburban Philadelphia, the night before to set up with the other volunteers. The activists were admitted Thursday to the Bush speech, which they quickly disrupted with chants of "Bush lies, people die," and signs saying, "Bush: Global AIDS Liar."

Bush forced a smile as the seven interrupted his speech in waves. As the crowd drowned them out with chants of "Four More Years," the demonstrators were led roughly from the room by event ushers as a few attendees shouted "traitors." Outside, plainclothes Secret Service agents, joined by Blake Gottesman, Bush's personal aide, circled the demonstrators.

One uniformed Secret Service agent complained to a colleague that "the press is having a field day" with the disruption -- and the agents quickly clamped down. Journalists were told that if they sought to approach the demonstrators, they would not be allowed to return to the event site -- even though their colleagues were free to come and go. An agent, who did not give his name, told one journalist who was blocked from returning to the speech that this was punishment for approaching the demonstrators and that there was a "different set of rules" for reporters who did not seek out the activists.

In the confusion, even Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) had to cool his heels for 10 minutes before the Secret Service would let him leave the building.

The seven hecklers were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, then kept out of sight until Bush departed. They were left with instructions to call for a court appearance. One of them, Jen Cohn, said Secret Service agents interrogated the demonstrators and stood by as a police officer handled the arrests.

Tom Mazur, a spokesman for the Secret Service in Washington, said dealing with hecklers is the job of "the host committee and local enforcement" officers. "The Secret Service normally doesn't get involved." Mazur referred questions about the event to the Philadelphia field office, where Agent in Charge James Borasi was not available for comment.

A White House spokeswoman, Claire Buchan, said Bush's personal aide did keep a reporter away from the demonstrators but was not involved in the activists' detention.


The Dishonesty Thing

The New York Times
September 10, 2004

The Dishonesty Thing

It's the dishonesty, stupid. The real issue in the National Guard story isn't what George W. Bush did three decades ago. It's the recent pattern of lies: his assertions that he fulfilled his obligations when he obviously didn't, the White House's repeated claims that it had released all of the relevant documents when it hadn't.

It's the same pattern of dishonesty, this time involving personal matters that the public can easily understand, that some of us have long seen on policy issues, from global warming to the war in Iraq. On budget matters, which is where I came in, serious analysts now take administration dishonesty for granted.

It wasn't always that way. Three years ago, those of us who accused the administration of cooking the budget books were ourselves accused, by moderates as well as by Bush loyalists, of being "shrill." These days the coalition of the shrill has widened to include almost every independent budget expert.

For example, back in February the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities accused the Bush administration of, in effect, playing three-card monte with budget forecasts. It pointed out that the administration's deficit forecast was far above those of independent analysts, and suggested that this exaggeration was deliberate.

"Overstating the 2004 deficit," the center wrote, "could allow the president to announce significant 'progress' on the deficit in late October - shortly before Election Day - when the Treasury Department announces the final figures."

Was this a wild accusation from a liberal think tank? No, it's conventional wisdom among experts. Two months ago Stanley Collender, a respected nonpartisan analyst, warned: "At some point over the next few weeks, the Office of Management and Budget will release the administration's midsession budget review and try to convince everyone the federal deficit is falling. Don't believe them."

He went on to echo the center's analysis. The administration's standard procedure, he said, is to initially issue an unrealistically high deficit forecast, which is "politically motivated or just plain bad." Then, when the actual number comes in below the forecast, officials declare that the deficit is falling, even though it's higher than the previous year's deficit.

Goldman Sachs says the same. Last month one of its analysts wrote that "the Office of Management and Budget has perfected the art of underpromising and overperforming in terms of its near-term budget deficit forecasts. This creates the impression that the deficit is narrowing when, in fact, it will be up sharply."

In other words, many reputable analysts think that the Bush administration routinely fakes even its short-term budget forecasts for the purposes of political spin. And the fakery in its long-term forecasts is much worse.

The administration claims to have a plan to cut the deficit in half over the next five years. But even Bruce Bartlett, a longtime tax-cut advocate, points out that "projections showing deficits falling assume that Bush's tax cuts expire on schedule." But Mr. Bush wants those tax cuts made permanent. That is, the administration has a "plan" to reduce the deficit that depends on Congress's not passing its own legislation.

Sounding definitely shrill, Mr. Bartlett says that "anyone who thinks we can overcome our fiscal mess without higher taxes is in denial." Far from backing down on his tax cuts, however, Mr. Bush is proposing to push the budget much deeper into the red with privatization programs that purport to offer something for nothing.

As Newsweek's Allan Sloan writes, "The president didn't exactly burden us with details about paying for all this. It's great marketing: show your audience the goodies but not the price tag. It's like going to the supermarket, picking out your stuff and taking it home without stopping at the checkout line to pay. The bill? That will come later."

Longtime readers will remember that that's exactly what I said, shrilly, about Mr. Bush's proposals during the 2000 campaign. Once again, he's running on the claim that 2 - 1 = 4.

So what's the real plan? Some not usually shrill people think that Mr. Bush will simply refuse to face reality until it comes crashing in: Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman, says there's a 75 percent chance of a financial crisis in the next five years.

Nobody knows what Mr. Bush would really do about taxes and spending in a second term. What we do know is that on this, as on many matters, he won't tell the truth.


How Many Deaths Will It Take?

The New York Times
September 10, 2004

How Many Deaths Will It Take?

It was Vietnam all over again - the heartbreaking head shots captioned with good old American names:

Jose Casanova, Donald J. Cline Jr., Sheldon R. Hawk Eagle, Alyssa R. Peterson.

Eventually there'll be a fine memorial to honor the young Americans whose lives were sacrificed for no good reason in Iraq. Yesterday, under the headline "The Roster of the Dead," The New York Times ran photos of the first thousand or so who were killed.

They were sent off by a president who ran and hid when he was a young man and his country was at war. They fought bravely and died honorably. But as in Vietnam, no amount of valor or heroism can conceal the fact that they were sent off under false pretenses to fight a war that is unwinnable.

How many thousands more will have to die before we acknowledge that President Bush's obsession with Iraq and Saddam Hussein has been a catastrophe for the United States?

Joshua T. Byers, Matthew G. Milczark, Harvey E. Parkerson 3rd, Ivory L. Phipps.

Fewer and fewer Americans believe the war in Iraq is worth the human treasure we are losing and the staggering amounts of money it is costing. But no one can find a way out of this tragic mess, which is why that dreaded word from the Vietnam era - quagmire - has been resurrected. Most Washington insiders agree with Senator John McCain, who said he believes the U.S. will be involved militarily in Iraq for 10 or 20 more years.

To what end? You can wave goodbye to the naïve idea that democracy would take root in Iraq and then spread like the flowers of spring throughout the Middle East. That was never going to happen. So what are we there for, other than to establish a permanent military stronghold in the region and control the flow of Iraqi oil?

The insurgency in Iraq will never end as long as the U.S. is occupying the country. And our Iraqi "allies" will never fight their Iraqi brethren with the kind of intensity the U.S. would like, any more than the South Vietnamese would fight their fellow Vietnamese with the fury and effectiveness demanded by the hawks in the Johnson administration.

The Iraqi insurgents - whether one agrees with them or not - believe they are fighting for their homeland, their religion and their families. The Americans are not at all clear what they're fighting for. Saddam is gone. There were no weapons of mass destruction. The link between Saddam and the atrocities of Sept. 11 was always specious and has been proven so.

At some point, as in Vietnam, the American public will balk at the continued carnage, and this tragic misadventure will become politically unsustainable. Meanwhile, the death toll mounts.

Elia P. Fontecchio, Raheen Tyson Heighter, Sharon T. Swartworth, Ruben Valdez Jr.

One of the reasons the American effort in Iraq is unsustainable is that the American people know very little about the Iraqi people and their culture, and in most cases couldn't care less. The war in Iraq was sold as a response to Sept. 11. As it slowly dawns on a majority of Americans that the link was bogus, and that there is no benefit to the U.S. from this war, only endless grief, the political support will all but vanish.

(This could take awhile. In a poll done for Newsweek magazine this week, 42 percent of the respondents continue to believe that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.)

We've put our troops in Iraq in an impossible situation. If you are not permitted to win a war, eventually you will lose it. In Vietnam, for a variety of reasons, the U.S. never waged total war, although the enemy did. After several years and more than 58,000 deaths, we quit.

We won't - and shouldn't - wage total war in Iraq, either. But to the insurgents, the Americans epitomize evil. We're the crazed foreigners who invaded their country and killed innocent Iraqi civilians, including women and children, by the thousands. We call that collateral damage. They call it murder. For them, this is total war.

President Bush never prepared the nation for the prolonged violence of this war. He still hasn't spoken candidly about it. If he has an idea for hauling us out of this quagmire, he hasn't bothered to reveal it.

The troops who are fighting and dying deserve better.


No Accountability on Abu Ghraib

The New York Times
September 10, 2004
No Accountability on Abu Ghraib

After months of Senate hearings and eight Pentagon investigations, it is obvious that the administration does not intend to hold any high-ranking official accountable for the nightmare at Abu Ghraib. It was pretty clear yesterday that Senator John Warner's well-intentioned hearings of the Armed Services Committee are not going to do it either.

James Schlesinger, who was picked by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to head a civilian investigation of Abu Ghraib and seems determined to repay the favor, gave unhelpful testimony that included an incredible statement that there was no policy "that encourages abuse." He told that to the same senators who had heard earlier from a panel of generals that the Central Intelligence Agency was still refusing to account for its practice of hiding dozens of prisoners from the Red Cross. Mr. Rumsfeld personally approved that violation of the Geneva Conventions and other international treaties on at least one occasion.

At the hearing, Mr. Warner asked Mr. Schlesinger and Harold Brown, another former secretary of defense, to be specific about their report's talk of "institutional and personal responsibility at higher levels." Neither man had any intention of doing that.

Senator John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in the Vietnam era, asked Mr. Schlesinger with evident exasperation: "Isn't there some accountability? Isn't there some responsibility?" Mr. Schlesinger managed to come up with the colonel who read the first Red Cross report on the abuse of prisoners in late 2003 and decided that it was not credible. As for high-ranking officers and civilians, he intoned, "careers will be negatively affected."

Senator Edward Kennedy tried again. He read a list of naval officers fired for minor infractions committed by those under their command and asked why the same high standards of responsibility should not apply to, say, Mr. Rumsfeld. Mr. Schlesinger, who had earlier offered the bizarre theory that "what constitutes 'humane treatment' lies in the eye of the beholder," replied that "it's more complicated" when it came to holding a high-ranking politician accountable. He said a man like Mr. Rumsfeld must be judged on his "full performance."

We agree, enthusiastically. And with due respect to Mr. Warner - who has bravely continued his hearings and seems willing to keep going for months more - the answers are in.

Mr. Rumsfeld gave President Bush the legal advice that led to the president's famous memo declaring that the United States could, at his discretion, suspend the Geneva Conventions in the "global war on terror," and that prisoners with the newly minted designation of "unlawful combatants" were not entitled to the conventions' protections. Mr. Rumsfeld authorized the use of brutal interrogation techniques at the prison in Guantánamo Bay, some of which he later rescinded. His war plans left the Army without enough forces to face the uprising that followed Mr. Bush's ludicrously premature "mission accomplished" photo-op. Those policies - which commanders were afraid to challenge - left 97 untrained military police guarding some 7,000 Iraqis at Abu Ghraib who were not considered prisoners of war.

Mr. Rumsfeld's staff sent the chief Guantánamo Bay jailer to Iraq. There, he gave Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was under immense pressure from Washington to get intelligence on the Iraqi insurgency, a rundown on how the military forced information out of prisoners at Guantánamo. General Sanchez used that briefing, and the logic of the president's memo on unlawful combatants, to authorize the use of dogs and other illegal interrogation methods. He later tried to rescind the order, but every investigation has shown that the notion that the rules had changed was already widespread in Iraq, as well as at American military prisons in Afghanistan.

Most broadly, Mr. Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General John Ashcroft, has led the administration's efforts to justify the use of brutal interrogation techniques in the name of fighting terrorism.

Late in the day of hearings, Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, offered a wry observation on how Mr. Rumsfeld's future had become wrapped up in Mr. Bush's campaign. "I guess we'll get the real answer to that after the election," he said.

Perhaps so, but that will be a year after the Red Cross first told the Army that prisoners were being brutalized at military detention centers all over Iraq, especially at Abu Ghraib. The American public, and the rest of the world, should not have to wait that long.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Bush insults Viet Nam Veterans

NBC News has uncovered footage of President Bush insulting thousands of
Vietnam veterans who were killed or injured in combat. Bush said in 1988
that the government "probably should have called the National Guard up
in those days -- maybe we'd have done better in Vietnam."

This is the same George W. Bush who was AWOL from his National Guard service and only joined in the first place (with help from daddy) because joining the National Guard at that time guaranteed that he would not be going to Viet Nam.



TERRORISM -- SPINNING THE NUMBERS: Newsweek reports, "Without any
public explanation, President George W. Bush last week increased the
estimate of al Qaeda leaders who have been killed or captured." Bush claimed
for the first time that "more than three quarters of al Qaeda's key
members and associates have been detained or killed." In his previous
statements, Bush said the number was "nearly two-thirds." According to
Newsweek, "White House and U.S. intelligence officials declined to provide
any back-up data for how they developed the new number
( ?or even to explain
the methodology that was used." An official from the recently disbanded
9/11 Commission said, "It was meaningless when they said two-thirds and
it's meaningless when they said three-fourths. This sounds like it was
pulled out of somebody's orifice." The vast majority of the FBI's most
wanted terrorists
( are still at large.



(D), who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2002, has
published a new book asserting that "t he Bush administration and FBI
blocked a congressional investigation
( " into the
relationship between the Saudi Arabian government and the 9/11
hijackers. Graham objected to the White House's decision to classify 27 pages
of a congressional report that dealt with the relationship. While the
Republican National Committee
( and Fox News
anchor Brit Hume ( have
attacked the Florida Senator, he is not the only one who wants the 27
pages released. Top Republicans do, too. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who
was the ranking Republican on the committee, said on 7/27/03 that "I
think [the 27 pages are] classified for the wrong reason...My judgment is
95 percent of that information could be declassified, become uncensored,
so the American people would know." Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who is now
chairman of the committee, said on 7/27/03 that "I was upset with the
process, and I was upset with the amount of material that was redacted."
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said on 7/31/03, "I think it's in the interest
of this administration to have some of this opened up."


It's Only OK if the Republicans Do It

Bush has attacked those who have questioned President George W. Bush's
service record during the Vietnam War. Yet it was George H. W. Bush who
orchestrated a similar attack on his opponents in 1988. As reported in
the 8/23/88 Los Angeles Times, Bush campaign co-chairman John Sununu
"accused [Sen. Lloyd Bentsen] of helping his son get into the
National Guard." Bentsen' son "served in the 147th Fighter Group of the Texas
National Guard along with George W. Bush, the vice president's son."
Bush's allies on Capitol Hill at the time also charged Dukakis with using
student deferments to avoid service during the Korean War.

(Note: George W. Bush was part of George H.W. Bush's election team and was behind the attacks on Bentsen and Dukakis.)


REPORT CARD: An Indefensible Homeland Security Record

REPORT CARD: An Indefensible Homeland Security Record

The Bush administration receives a "D+" on Homeland Security
( .
Though it has spent billions to deal with an imaginary threat in Iraq, it
has not sufficiently funded
( , nor has
it put forth realistic strategies to deal with, threats to America's
ports, railways, chemical plants and other infrastructure. It has also
failed to secure America's borders or establish effective terrorist watch
lists. The Department of Homeland Security remains " grossly
underfunded ( " and the
color-coded alert system ( is
dysfunctional. Fundamentally, the administration seems to think it can defeat
terrorism by " taking the fight to the enemy
( ," but
as Homeland Security expert Stephen Flynn warns, "Targeting terrorism
at its source is an appealing notion. Unfortunately, the enemy is not

PORTS AND RAILWAYS: The administration has severely underfunded
( maritime security, imperiling
the safety of hundreds of thousands of people who live near ports. The
Coast Guard has projected the cost of implementing safety regulations
laid out by Congress at $7.3 billion over the next ten years, but the
administration has distributed just $441 million so far, and the
president's 2005 budget
proposes to spend only $46 million. Stephen Flynn, a retired U.S. Coast
Guard Commander, points out, "For the cost of two F-22 fighter jets and
three days of combat in Iraq...the nation's ports could be secured
against terror." Meanwhile, millions of train passengers also remain
unprotected and the administration has not forced the rail industry to
safeguard shipments of hazardous materials. Bush's 2005 budget allocation for
train security is $100 million
( , equal to
what the U.S. spends on eight typical hours in Iraq
( .

BORDERS: The 9/11 Commission
( concluded that
the Bush administration had failed to adequately secure America's
borders and track new visitors. Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton said,
"We need secure borders with heightened and uniform standards
( of
identification for those entering and exiting the country, and an
immigration system able to be efficient, allowing good people in while
keeping the terrorists out." The Department of Homeland Security currently
has no strategy for tracking down and deporting people who remain beyond
the conditions of their stay.

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Remarkably, Bush administration homeland security
cutbacks have meant fewer cops and first responders on the streets today
than there were on 9/11. And despite a supposedly high level of domestic
alert, the Bush administration's 2005 budget calls for a 31.9 percent
decrease in law enforcement funding from levels approved by Congress in
FY2004. Foreign Affairs reports that on average, "U.S. fire departments
have only enough radios to equip half their firefighters on a shift,
and breathing apparatus for only a third. Police departments in cities
across the country do not have the protective gear to safely secure a
site following a WMD attack. And most emergency medical technicians lack
the tools
to determine which chemical or biological agent may have been used."

ASSIGNMENT FOR ACTION: The Center recommends that President Bush give
new funding and priority to port and railway security and require the
chemical industry to adopt tighter security guidelines. The president
should also eliminate the color-coded threat alert system and order
Homeland Security to come up with a more focused and complete mechanism for
communicating threats to Americans. Finally, he should order the Office
of Management and Budget to draw up a national security budget that
includes appropriations for defense, intelligence, homeland security,
diplomacy and foreign assistance. The Belfer Center at Harvard
has developed solutions to "key gaps" in the administration's current
policy, including better funding for first responders in areas most
likely to be affected by terrorism and more widespread vaccinations.


Effort to Renew Weapons Ban Falters on Hill

The New York Times
September 9, 2004

Effort to Renew Weapons Ban Falters on Hill

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 - Despite widespread popular support, the federal law banning the sale of 19 kinds of semiautomatic assault weapons is almost certain to expire on Monday, the result of intense lobbying by the National Rifle Association and the complicated election-year politics of Washington.

While President Bush has expressed support for legislation extending the ban and has said he would sign it into law, he has not pressured lawmakers to act, leading critics to accuse him of trying to have it both ways.

Efforts to renew the ban, which polls show is supported by at least two-thirds of Americans, have faltered this year on Capitol Hill. Democrats are well aware that they lost control of the House of Representatives in 1994, the year President Bill Clinton signed the original legislation, and have shied away from the issue of gun control, while Republican leaders have opposed the ban.

"I think the will of the American people is consistent with letting it expire, so it will expire," Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, said on Wednesday.

The House majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, dismissed the ban as "a feel-good piece of legislation" and said flatly that it would expire Monday, even if Mr. Bush made an effort to renew it.

"If the president asked me, it would still be no," Mr. DeLay said. "He knows, because we don't have the votes to pass the assault weapons ban. It will expire Monday, and that's that."

Democrats decried the influence of the rifle association and said the ban could be renewed if the president wanted it to.

"If you support something, you have a responsibility to advocate for it,'' said Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat and chief sponsor of the ban's renewal.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who was a lead sponsor of the ban 10 years ago when he was in the House, blamed "a dysfunction of our politics'' for what he called "this Alice in Wonderland situation of repealing a law that everyone agrees has been overwhelmingly successful.''

The act prohibits, by name, the sale of 19 specific weapons that have the features of guns used by the military, and also outlaws magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. While backers acknowledge that the law is riddled with loopholes, they cite federal statistics showing crimes traceable to assault weapons have declined by two-thirds since the law went into effect.

But the N.R.A., which has made overturning the ban its top legislative priority, says the law bans only "cosmetic accessories" on guns, and does little other than place a burden on gun manufacturers. "We felt from the very start it was bogus legislation," Wayne LaPierre, the association's chief executive, said.

On Wednesday, in a last-ditch effort to persuade lawmakers to renew the law, supporters of the ban - including police chiefs from around the country and victims of gun violence and their relatives - converged on Washington for a news conference.

Tom Mauser, whose 15-year-old son, Daniel, was killed in the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, arrived wearing his son's sneakers and took them off while addressing reporters, a pointed physical reminder of his loss.

James S. Brady, the former White House press secretary who suffered brain damage after being shot in the head by a handgun during the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, sat, mostly silent, in a wheelchair.

"The assault weapons are coming, they're coming next week," warned Mr. Brady's wife, Sarah, who has been a vocal advocate for restrictions on gun ownership for the past two decades.

Noting that Mr. Reagan had supported the weapons ban in 1994, Mrs. Brady said she felt deserted by the party she and her husband had worked so hard for. "I am angry," she said. "I am angry at our president. I'm so disappointed."

The White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, repeated on Wednesday that ''the president supports the reauthorization of the current law.'' But when asked by reporters what, if anything, Mr. Bush was doing to make that happen, Mr. McClellan replied: "The president doesn't set the Congressional timetable. Congress sets the timetable. And the president's views are very clear.''

Democrats hit hard at Mr. Bush. "We cry out for leadership,'' said Senator Schumer, adding that, "The president talks about flip-flops. Well, flip: I'm for it. Flop: House, don't do anything, don't pass it.''

The Democratic presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, supports renewing the ban, and took a break from campaigning earlier this year to return to the Senate when it came up for a vote as part of a broader piece of gun legislation. Fifty-two senators voted in favor of renewing the ban, but the underlying measure was defeated.

On Wednesday, a senior adviser to Mr. Kerry, Joe Lockhart, signaled that the ban would become a campaign issue. He said that Mr. Kerry planned to discuss the ban Monday, at an event timed to coincide with its expiration. Mr. Kerry, he said, "believes the cynical deal between the president and the House Republican leadership, hiding behind procedure, is completely unacceptable.''

A poll released this week by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania found that 68 percent of Americans - and 32 percent of N.R.A. members - support renewing the ban. The findings, drawn from interviews with 4,959 adults, had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus one percentage point.

A separate national survey, conducted by Doug Schoen, a Democratic pollster, on behalf of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, found that 74 percent of voters support renewing the ban, but that support is highest - 79 percent - among independent voters who are being courted by President Bush and Mr. Kerry. That survey of 800 voters had a margin of error of three percentage points.

Mr. Schoen, who is not advising the Kerry campaign, also surveyed voters in the swing states of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania and concluded that support for the ban was high enough to make it a significant issue. "If Kerry wants to distinguish his position from Bush, this provides a very convenient vehicle,'' he said.

But over all, Democrats have not talked much about the weapons ban. Senator Patty Murray, the Washington Democrat who is in a tough re-election fight, said voters, unaware that the ban was set to expire, had not made it an issue, and that neither had she.

"There are so many issues, education and health care and jobs and the economy in my state right now,'' Ms. Murray said. "People are really focused on that.''

And over the years the ban has been a losing issue for Democrats. After Republicans took control of the House in 1994, President Clinton remarked that the ban might have cost Democrats 20 seats. Some believe that former Vice President Al Gore lost crucial states, including his home state, Tennessee, in the 2000 election because he came out too strongly for gun control.

Even the ban's chief Democratic backers in Congress, Senator Feinstein and Representative Carolyn McCarthy of New York, acknowledged that Democrats were afraid to be too vocal in their support. "In the small states in particular, and the rural states, the control of the N.R.A. is much greater,'' said Ms. Feinstein, adding, They will specifically target a member, including a House member, and go after them.''

The N.R.A. has also said it will not endorse a candidate for president until after Congress recesses for the fall election, a pronouncement that the ban's backers say is tantamount to a threat not to endorse Mr. Bush until the ban expires. Mr. LaPierre said the claim was "100 percent untrue.'' But he blamed Democrats for the bill's undoing, saying they had tried, unwisely, to use it to gain political advantage when Mr. Clinton was president.

"I guess you could say politics is what enacted it in the first place,'' he said. "Politics is going to be the undoing of it.''

On Wednesday, as the police chiefs and victims' relatives fanned out across Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers, a chief target was the House speaker, Representative J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois. In recent weeks, advocates for the ban have been approaching Mr. Hastert at bookstores around the country, where he has been signing copies of his new autobiography, "Speaker."

Several, including Mr. Mauser, said that Mr. Hastert seemed supportive. "He said yes, I support that,'' said Penny Okamoto, who said she saw Mr. Hastert on Aug. 16 at a Barnes & Noble store in Beaverton, Ore. "I was so surprised, I actually asked him twice.''

But on Wednesday, the speaker was noncommittal, saying that if the Senate was to adopt the bill, "then we'll take a look at it.''

Mr. Mauser said he was not satisfied with that, and would knock on Mr. Hastert's door on Thursday. He said that he had already spoken with an aide to his own congressman, Representative Tom Tancredo, a Republican who opposes the ban, and that the meeting did not go well.

"It ended on a pretty bad note,'' Mr. Mauser said. "Not even a shake of the hand.''


Cheney Spits Toads

NY Times
September 9, 2004

Cheney Spits Toads

WASHINGTON — George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have always used the president's father as a reverse lodestar. In 1992, the senior Mr. Bush wooed the voters with "Message: I care.'' So this week, Mr. Cheney wooed the voters with, Message: You die.

The terrible beauty of its simplicity grows on you. It is a sign of the dark, macho, paranoid vice president's restraint that he didn't really take it to its emotionally satisfying conclusion: Message: Vote for us or we'll kill you.

Without Zell Miller around to out-crazy him, and unplugged after a convention that tried to "humanize'' him with grandchildren, horses and wifely anecdotes about his inability to dance the twist, Mr. Cheney is back as Terrifier in Chief.

He finally simply spit out what the Bush team has been more subtly trying to convey for months: A vote for John Kerry is a vote for the terrorists.

"Because if we make the wrong choice,'' Mr. Cheney said in Des Moines in that calm baritone, "then the danger is that we'll get hit again. That we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war.''

These guys figure, hey, these scare tactics worked in building support for the Iraq war, maybe they can work in tearing down support for John Kerry. They linked Saddam with terrorism and cowed the Democrats (including Mr. Kerry, who has never been able to make the case against the Bush administration's trompe l'oeil casus belli) and fooled the country into going along with their trumped-up war. So why not link Mr. Kerry with terrorism and cow the voters into sticking with the White House they've got?

It's like that fairy tale where vipers and toads jump out of the mouth of the accursed mean little girl when she tries to speak. Every time Mr. Cheney opens his mouth, vermin leap out.

The vice president and president did not even mention Osama at the convention because of the inconvenient fact that the fiend is still out there, plotting. Yet they denigrate Mr. Kerry as too weak to battle Osama, and treat him as a greater threat.

Mr. Cheney implies that John Kerry couldn't protect us from an attack like 9/11, blithely ignoring the fact that he and President Bush didn't protect us from the real 9/11. Think of what brass-knuckled Republicans could have made of a 9/11 tape of an uncertain Democratic president giving a shaky statement that looked like a hostage tape and flying randomly from air base to air base, as the veep ordered that planes be shot down.

Mr. Cheney warns against falling back "into the pre-9/11 mind-set,'' when, in fact, the Bush team's pre-9/11 mind-set was all about being stuck in the cold war and reviving "Star Wars" - which doesn't work and is useless against terrorist tactics. The Bush crowd played down terrorism because Bill Clinton and Sandy Berger had told their successors that Osama was a priority, and the Bushies scorned all things Clinton. The president shrugged off intelligence briefings with such headlines as "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States'' because there was brush to be cleared and unaffordable tax-cutting to be done.

After the blue-ribbon graybeards declared the Bush administration's pumped-up W.M.D. claims and Saddam-9/11 links bogus, the White House went into a defensive crouch - especially the man in the undisclosed bunker, who had veered wildly between overly pessimistic predictions of Saddam's nukes and overly optimistic predictions of grateful Iraqis with flowers and chocolates.

For a time, it seemed that Americans were realizing they'd been flimflammed by the Bushies. But at the convention, the swaggering Bush juggernaut brazenly went back to boasting about its pre-emption doctrine, tracing imaginary connections between 9/11 and Saddam, and calling all our foes terrorists.

Why should the same group that managed to paint a flextime guardsman as a heroic commander - and a war hero as a war criminal - bother rebutting or engaging with critics?

As the deaths of American men and women fighting in Iraq topped 1,000, and with insurgents controlling parts of central Iraq, the White House trotted out the same old discredited line, assuming it can wear - and scare - everyone down by November.


Dick Cheney's early Halloween


Bush Flip-Flops on National Intelligence Director

President Bush yesterday flip-flopped and embraced the creation of a strong national intelligence director with ''full budgetary authority" over America's spy agencies. He had previously first opposed such a position, then later proposed the position but without any budgetary authority.


Memo: "Sugar Coat" annual officer evaluation for First Lieutenant George W Bush

Boston Globe

Bid cited to boost Bush in Guard
'73 memo tells of request to 'sugar-coat' report

By Walter V. Robinson and Francie Latour, Globe Staff | September 9, 2004

In August 1973, President Bush's superior officer in the Texas Air National Guard wrote a memorandum complaining that the commanding general wanted him to ''sugar coat" an annual officer evaluation for First Lieutenant Bush, even though Bush had not been at the base for the year in question, according to new documents obtained and broadcast last night by CBS News.

The commander, the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian, wrote that he turned aside the suggestion from Brigadier General Walter B. Staudt, Bush's political mentor in the Guard. But he and another officer agreed to ''backdate" a report -- evidently the evaluation -- in which they did not rate him at all. There is such a report in Bush's file, dated May 2, 1973.

''I'll backdate but won't rate," Killian apparently wrote in what is labeled a ''memo to file." Initials that appear to be Killian's are on the memo, but not his name or unit letterhead.

The August 1973 document, dated as Bush was preparing to leave Texas to attend the Harvard Business School, represents the first apparent evidence of an attempt to embellish Bush's service record as his time in the Guard neared its end.

The four pages of documents also contain an August 1972 order from Killian, suspending Bush from flying status for ''failure to perform" up to US Air Force and Texas Air National Guard standards and failing to take his annual flight physical. The suspension came three months after Killian had ordered Bush to take his physical, on May 14, 1972.

The documents also contain what appears to be Killian's memo of a meeting he had with Bush in May 1972, at which they discussed the option of Bush skipping his military drills for the following six months while he worked on a US Senate campaign in Alabama. During that meeting, Killian wrote that he reminded Bush ''of our investment in him and his commitment."

CBS, on its Evening News and in an in-depth report on ''60 Minutes," said it obtained the documents from Killian's ''personal files." Anchorman Dan Rather reported that the White House did not dispute the authenticity of the documents and said the network had used document authorities to verify their authenticity.

The disclosures by CBS follow a report in yesterday's Globe that Bush signed documents in 1968 and in 1973 promising to fulfill specific training requirements or face a punitive order to active duty. The records examined by the Globe, and verified by several former military officers, show that Bush did not meet his commitments. Nor was he penalized.

The White House, in response to the Globe report, ascribed political motives to two of the analysts quoted by the Globe. A third retired officer quoted in the Globe report who agreed with them has been a White House consultant on Bush's military records. Last night, Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, asserted in an e-mail to the Globe that Bush had no obligation to do Reserve duty in Massachusetts. And the White House reiterated its position that, notwithstanding the records, Bush fulfilled his military commitment. Bush received an honorable discharge.

Former military officers said last night that the four documents obtained by CBS, two of which should have been in Bush's publicly released file, contain evidence that political influence may have come into play as he sidestepped his training requirements in his final two years of service, from May 1972 until May 1974.

''These documents represent strong evidence that Lieutenant Bush didn't perform after April 1972, regardless of whether he received a paycheck," said retired Brigadier General David L. McGinnis, who was a top aide to the assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.

Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now a national security specialist at a liberal think tank, said after reviewing the CBS documents last night that if Killian and Lieutenant Colonel William D. Harris Jr. had written a truthful evaluation report on Bush, ''he would have been called to involuntary active duty."

Added Korb: ''For the commanding officer to suggest that his [Bush's] evaluation be sugar-coated is a clear indication of the political influence Bush had." Korb said the alleged suggestion by Staudt was also a ''violation of military ethics." An effort by the Globe last night to reach Staudt was unsuccessful. Harris, like Killian, has died.

On ''60 Minutes," CBS also aired an interview with Ben Barnes, the former Democratic speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, expressing regret that he helped Bush land a Guard slot in 1968 at the request of a Bush family friend. Barnes's intercession was first reported in a legal deposition he gave in 1999. Bush has denied there was political influence.

In his first public interview on the subject, Barnes, now a fund-raiser for Senator John F. Kerry, said he helped Bush and many other politically connected young men avoid military service in the Vietnam War to further his own political career, and that he now regrets his actions.

''I don't think that I had any right to have the power that I had, to choose who was going to go to Vietnam and who was not going to go to Vietnam," Barnes said. ''In some instances, when I looked at those names, I was maybe determining life or death, and that's not a power that I want to have." He added: ''I'm very, very sorry."

Yesterday, the White House dismissed Barnes's interview. ''The bottom line is that there's no truth to this," Dan Bartlett, Bush's communication director, told CBS.

The White House spent much of yesterday on the defensive on the issue. After the Globe report, Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, labeled Bush's National Guard service ''a very big issue," since it calls into question his credibility.

''These new documents show that the president did not serve honorably," McAuliffe said. ''How about you [Bush] for once owning up to your own record and tell the American people exactly what you were doing when you were supposed to be serving?"

Jim Dyke, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, dismissed McAuliffe's comments as ''false," ''reckless," and ''silly."

The White House made no such characterizations of the four pages of documents written by Killian, whom Bush described as a friend in his 1999 autobiography, ''A Charge to Keep." Dated during the controversial final 17 months of Bush's assignment to Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, the four pages begin with Killian's written order dated May 4, 1972, for Bush to report 10 days later for an annual flight physical required of all pilots.

The Aug. 1, 1972, document removing Bush from flight status for ''failure to perform to USAF/TexANG [US Air Force and Texas Air National Guard] standards" and failing to take the flight physical suggests that Bush did not comply with Killian's May order. The August document also calls for the convening of a ''flight review board" that would have assessed Bush's status. There is no record that such a board was appointed. In that memo, Killian also recommended that the unit he commanded, the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, replace Bush as a pilot with someone from a waiting list of pilots who had served in Vietnam.

The Aug. 18, 1973, memo might draw the most attention from the White House. Another ''Memo to File," it starts, ''SUBJECT: CYA" -- a venerable military acronym for ''cover your ass."

General Staudt, it begins, ''has obviously pressured [Colonel Bobby W.] Hodges more about Bush. I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job." He wrote that Lieutenant Colonel Harris ''gave me a message today . . . regarding Bush's [annual officer efficiency report] and Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it."

But, Killian wrote, ''Bush wasn't here during the rating period," and he didn't have any ''feedback" from the unit with whom Bush said he trained in Alabama. ''I will not rate," Killian wrote.

In the CBS news magazine report, Robert Strong, a friend of Killian who ran the Texas Air National Guard administrative offices during the Vietnam era and who reviewed the documents for ''60 Minutes," said he believed that Killian took his responsibilities as a pilot very seriously, but that in Bush's case, Killian found himself ''between a rock and a hard place."

In trying to satisfy commands from a superior to give a favorable evaluation to a soldier who had underperformed but had powerful political connections, Strong said Killian faced an impossible situation.

Globe staff reporters Rick Klein and Michael Rezendes contributed to this report.


New holes in Bush military record

In 1968, Papa Bush pinned
lieutenant bars on his son,
who suited up to fly for
the Air National Guard

NY Daily News
September 9, 2004

New holes in Bush military record


The Bush campaign was rocked yesterday by allegations that the Top Gun President was a substandard pilot who disobeyed a direct order while serving in the Texas Air National Guard.

President Bush's commanding officer complained of being pressured to "sugarcoat" Bush's review despite his "failure to perform" to Guard standards and that Bush "made no attempt" to maintain his flight status.

The picture of a privileged pilot getting preferential treatment at the height of the Vietnam War was the latest salvo in a political campaign where character and what happened 35 years ago have become an issue.

A battery of new documents obtained by CBS' "60 Minutes" and the Boston Globe allege that Bush:

# Escaped service in Vietnam because a Texas oilman pulled strings to get him into the Guard.

# Disobeyed a direct order to get a physical.

# Discussed how to skip drills for five months because he would be "too busy" working on a political campaign.

# Failed to fulfill a pledge to join a Massachusetts Guard unit when he moved to Boston.

The fresh charges came as the campaigns of Bush and John Kerry traded ugly accusations and questioned the honor of the candidates during the Vietnam quagmire.

Col. Jerry Killian, who was Bush's commander at Ellington Air Force Base, wrote that Col. Buck Staudt, a Bush family supporter and the head of the Texas Air National Guard, put the squeeze on him to go easy on Bush.

"I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job," Killian wrote in a 1973 memo obtained by CBS.

But Killian would not budge and his memos reveal why he clipped Bush's wings on Aug. 1, 1972.

"On this date, I ordered that 1st Lieutenant Bush be suspended not just for failing to take a physical, but for failing to perform to U-S Air Force/Texas Air National Guard standards."

Killian then added: "Bush has made no attempt to meet his training certification or flight physical."

The White House did not question the veracity of the Killian memos, but spokesman Dan Bartlett insisted again that Bush "served honorably and was honorably discharged" and said the new allegations "smacks of dirty politics."

"For anybody to try to interpret or presume they know what somebody who is now dead was thinking in any of these memos, I think, is very difficult to do," Bartlett said of Killian, who died in 1984.

Staudt could not be reached for comment.

Democratic National Committee head Terry McAuliffe said the memos prove that Bush "did not serve honorably."

"George W. Bush's cover story on his National Guard service is rapidly unraveling," McAuliffe said.

"According to these new military documents, political pressure was applied and strings were pulled for President Bush at every step of the process: to get in the Guard, to stay in the Guard, and to exit the Guard," he said.

The Democrats are trying to turn the tables on Bush and subject his record to the same kind of intense scrutiny that Kerry's service in Vietnam has come under.

Devastating commercials by a pro-Bush group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have undermined Kerry's war-hero image and eroded his standing in the polls.

Kerry, who volunteered to serve in Vietnam, also got some ammunition when the Boston Globe revisited Bush's National Guard records and concluded he fell "well short of meeting his military obligation."

Before leaving Houston to attend Harvard Business School, Bush signed a document in July 1973 vowing to transfer to a Boston-area Air Force reserve unit or face possible deployment to Vietnam. But the Globe found no evidence Bush ever did so.

Last night, the Democrats' claims that Bush used family connections to get into the Guard were buttressed by a "60 Minutes" interview with former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes.

Bush has denied that his father, who was a Texas congressman at the time, pulled strings to save him from going to Vietnam.

Barnes, a Democrat, said he was approached by the late Houston businessman Sidney Adger, a close friend of the Bush family, for help in getting Bush into the Guard.

"Oh, I would describe it as preferential treatment," Barnes said. " I'm not necessarily proud of that ... I thought that's what people should do when you're in office: You help rich people."

Earlier, a pro-Kerry group called Texans for Truth, unveiled a TV ad that questions Bush's attendance in the Alabama Air National Guard in 1972, after he transferred from Texas.

"I can't say he didn't do his duties, but I can say for sure I was there and I never met George Bush," says Bob Mintz, a lieutenant colonel in the 30-member unit when Bush was supposed to have been there. "You just can't come and go in a unit that small and not be noticed by someone."

Bush backers led by former Sen. Bob Dole fired back by unveiling a new anti-Kerry documentary called "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal."

In it, former Vietnam POWs Ken Courdier and Paul Galanti claim their captors used Kerry's anti-war statements against them. Courdier also appeared in the Swift Boat ads.

But in a Washington Post interview last month, ex-POW Phil Butler said Courdier and Galanti were "full of it." "We never heard a blooming thing about John Kerry while we were there," he said.

With James Gordon Meek


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Catastrophic Success


Cheney Threatens All US Citizens

Vice President Dick Cheney, Tuesday September 8, 2004:

"We're now at that point where we're making that kind of decision for the next 30 or 40 years, and it's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again."

The implication is meant to imply that anyone who votes for Kerry-Edwards is voting to be attacked again. For those with short memories, it was Bush-Cheney who were in charge when we were attacked on 9/11/01 because they ignored the advice and warnings of Bill Clinton, ignored the advice and warnings of Richard Clarke, ignored the PDB titled: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the United States," etc. So it is quite clear that the "wrong" choice would be to vote for Bush-Cheney.


"Hell was full": Right-wing radio on President Clinton's heart surgery

As reported at

"Hell was full": Right-wing radio on President Clinton's heart surgery

Right-wing radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and Mark Simone served up commentary on former President Bill Clinton's recent heart surgery. Limbaugh said that Clinton opted for quadruple rather than triple bypass heart surgery to increase his sympathy ratings; Savage said that Clinton would fully recover because "hell was full"; and Simone claimed that since the Clintons "don't want him [Kerry] to win," Clinton's surgery "works out perfectly."


Two candidates, two military records, two standards

August 26, 2004

Two candidates, two military records, two standards

Media extensively covers baseless allegations about Kerry's Vietnam service; ignores well-substantiated facts about Bush's service; unanswered questions linger about Bush's apparent failure to report for duty

Both current major-party presidential candidates served their country during Vietnam. Both candidates' service has been questioned.

The similarities end there.

John Kerry, according to every available piece of documentary evidence, including official U.S. Navy records, served bravely and honorably, won five medals (including three Purple Hearts), and saved a crewmate's life. Everybody -- everybody -- who served on Kerry's boats during the incidents that led to his medals agrees that he deserved them and praises his distinguished service.

President George W. Bush, according to the documentary evidence available, apparently didn't bother to show up for duty for a lengthy period in 1972-73 -- a period when, according to USA Today, "commanders in Texas and Alabama say they never saw him report for duty and records show no pay to Bush when he was supposed to be on duty in Alabama." In contrast with Kerry, who has shipmates who sing his praises, Bush hasn't been able to produce anyone who can credibly say they remember serving with him in the Alabama Guard.

Though much is known about Bush's Guard record -- that he was grounded from flying for failing to take a physical, for example -- some questions linger. Among those identified by USA Today:

Why did Bush, described by some of his fellow officers as a talented and enthusiastic pilot, stop flying fighter jets in the spring of 1972 and fail to take an annual physical exam required of all pilots?

What explains the apparent gap in the president's Guard service in 1972-73, a period when commanders in Texas and Alabama say they never saw him report for duty and records show no pay to Bush when he was supposed to be on duty in Alabama?

Did Bush receive preferential treatment in getting into the Guard and securing a coveted pilot slot despite poor qualifying scores and arrests, but no convictions, for stealing a Christmas wreath and rowdiness at a football game during his college years?


The Associated Press filed a lawsuit this summer requesting copies of Bush's military records stored in a Texas archive on microfilm. It sought information that might explain why Bush did not take his flight physical and whether he showed up for duty in Alabama in the fall of 1972, AP spokesman John Stokes said.

One might think -- since we already know that Bush skipped a required physical, causing him to be grounded, and that records give no indication that he showed up for duty for several months -- that media coverage of questions about the candidates' Vietnam-era service would focus on Bush's record. But that's not what has happened so far during this presidential campaign, according to a Media Matters for America review of media coverage of the candidates. Not only has the media given substantially more attention to baseless charges leveled against Kerry, they have repeatedly held Bush to a lower standard than other candidates.

OVERVIEW of Media Coverage of Questions Surrounding the Candidates' Military Careers:

2004 Media Coverage of the Candidates' Military Service
Media Type Bush/Ala. National Guard Kerry/Swift Boats
All News 752 1,924
U.S. Newspapers
and Wires 398 1,440

Methodology: Based on searches of the LexisNexis database conducted on August 25. Totals for "Bush/Ala. National Guard" include all hits in the given LexisNexis source files that return for the search: (George w/2 Bush) and (Alabama w/5 national guard). Totals for "Kerry/Swift Boat Vets" include all hits for the search: Swift Boat Veterans and Kerry

CASE STUDY: Baseless claims that Kerry lied get heavy coverage while media ignores Bush's proven lies

Baseless allegations that Kerry has lied about his military record have gotten heavy media coverage in recent months -- but lies we know that Bush has told about his own military record have gone virtually unreported by the media.

For example, Bush lied during his 1978 congressional campaign, falsely claiming he had served in the Air Force. The Associated Press reported on July 14, 1999:

A pullout ad from The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal of May 4, 1978, shows a huge picture of Bush with a "Bush for Congress" logo on the front. On the back, a synopsis of his career says he served "in the U.S. Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard where he piloted the F-102 aircraft."

Bush didn't serve in the U.S. Air Force; he served in the National Guard. When confronted with questions about the ad, Bush said, "The facts are I served 600 days in the Air Force," basing his claim on the assertion that National Guard service and Air Force service are the same thing. But the Associated Press reported that there is, in fact, a difference between the National Guard and the Air Force:

The Air Force says Air National Guard members are considered 'guardsmen on active duty' while receiving pilot training. They get active-duty pay, which is more than their Guard pay, during pilot training. They are not, however, counted as members of the overall active-duty force.

By claiming to have been in the Air Force, Bush may have been trying to create the impression that he was in -- or could have been sent to -- Vietnam. But when he had the opportunity to volunteer for "overseas" duty, Bush refused, as page 22 of these Bush military records reveals. Indeed, Bush once famously explained why he joined the National Guard: "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."

MMFA can find only one media mention on LexisNexis since January of this obvious Bush lie about the Air Force: an article on in February.

Another example of a clear-cut Bush lie about his military record that has gone almost completely unnoticed by the media this year is a false claim he made in his autobiography about how long he flew jets for the Guard. The Boston Globe reported: "Bush himself, in his 1999 autobiography, A Charge to Keep, recounts the thrills of his pilot training, which he completed in June 1970. 'I continued flying with my unit for the next several years,' the governor wrote."

But, as USA Today reported, Bush "stop[ped] flying fighter jets in the spring of 1972" -- less than two years after completing his pilot training. Not only did Bush stop flying in the spring of 1972, he was grounded from flying in August 1972, after refusing to take a required physical.

Clearly, Bush lied in his autobiography when he said he "continued flying with" his unit for "the next several years." He doesn't seem to have done so for even two years, much less "several."

But the media has ignored this clear lie that George W. Bush told in order to advance a political campaign. A search of the LexisNexis database yields only seven hits for 2004 -- three of which are versions of an Eric Alterman column that appeared in multiple newspapers, and one of which is a letter to the editor.

CASE STUDY on the media's double standard: Wesley Clark got negative coverage for remarks made at his campaign event; Bush has escaped similar scrutiny

In January, during the Democratic primaries, filmmaker Michael Moore, appearing at a rally for then-presidential candidate Ret. General Wesley Clark, called Bush a "deserter," referring to Bush's apparent failure to report for duty in Alabama. A firestorm quickly developed, and Clark was widely condemned in the media for not challenging Moore's comment. During a Democratic primary debate, moderator and ABC News anchor Peter Jennings even suggested that Clark's failure to contradict Moore was an example of poor "ethical behavior."

Jennings, to Wesley Clark during the January 22 Democratic debate in New Hampshire:

JENNINGS: General Clark, a lot of people say they don't know you well, so this is really a simple question about knowing a man by his friends. The other day, you had a rally here and one of the men who stood up to endorse you was the controversial filmmaker Michael Moore. You said you were delighted with him. At one point, Mr. Moore said in front of you that President [George W.] Bush, he was saying he'd like to see a debate between you, the General [Clark], and President [George W.] Bush, who he called a deserter. Now, that's a reckless charge not supported by the facts. And I was curious to know why you didn't contradict him and whether or not you think it was -- would have been a better example of ethical behavior to have done so?

Jennings flatly declared Moore's allegation "reckless" and "not supported by the facts," despite the fact that, as noted earlier, there is no evidence that Bush showed up for duty when he was supposed to. And Jennings wasn't alone in criticizing Clark; the condemnation of Clark's decision not to contradict Moore's comments was so great, the event has been blamed for Clark's defeat in the primaries. For example, on the June 30 edition of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly said:

O'REILLY: Kerry has a problem, and we discussed this last night. I don't know whether you saw The Factor last night. But he can't ally himself with Michael Moore, because you saw what happened to Wesley Clark, when Wesley Clark wouldn't even repudiate Moore. And that blew Clark right out of the race. He can't partner up with Moore, because as you said, there are a lot of independents who don't like this kind of stuff. It's disrespectful, is what it is.

A search of the "All News" category on LexisNexis finds 293 articles that mention Clark, Moore, and the "deserter" comment.

Fast-forward to August: At a Bush campaign event in Beaverton, Oregon, two Bush supporters attacked John Kerry's military record -- one even suggesting Kerry received his Purple Hearts for "self-inflicted scratches" -- in questions to Bush. Bush did not denounce the comments, or disagree in any way. Instead, he thanked the supporters for their comments.

Surely, then, the media has taken Bush to task the way they took Clark to task? And perhaps even more harshly, since there is no evidence that John Kerry's military record is anything less than exemplary, while there is considerable evidence that Bush didn't show up for duty when he was supposed to?

Well, not quite: The media has ignored the Bush event and ignored Bush's tacit endorsement of the attacks on Kerry's military record made in his presence (which, by the way, recalled the 2000 Republican primaries, when, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Bush stood on a stage and listened as a supporter accused McCain, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi, of turning his back on veterans").

A LexisNexis search shows only six mentions of the Beaverton incidents: two Washington Post articles, two articles, a column by Gene Lyons in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and a Scripps Howard article. The Bush event is perfectly analogous to the Clark/Moore event (except that Moore had considerably more evidence to support his position than did the questioners at the Bush event) -- and yet the news media, which covered the Clark/Moore event so thoroughly, has ignored the Bush event.

Below are the two exchanges that occurred during an August 13 Bush "Town Hall" event in Beaverton, Oregon:

Q: Mr. President, Mr. Kerry seems to have a lot of trouble remembering dates -- when and if he was in Cambodia; who was president -- Nixon or Johnson -- when he was assigned to Vietnam; what bills in Congress he worked for and when; cannot remember if he campaigned in Oregon or California for George McGovern. Your last opponent you exposed with fuzzy math. It's time to expose John Kerry with fuzzy memory.


BUSH: You got a question?

Q: I, too, want to say God bless you, Mr. Bush. My husband and my twins and I pray for you daily, as do many homeschoolers.


Thank you for recognizing homeschoolers.

BUSH: You bet. Thanks.


Q: On behalf of Vietnam veterans -- and I served six tours over there -- we do support the president. I only have one concern, and that's on the Purple Heart, and that is, is that there are over 200,000 Vietnam vets that died from Agent Orange and were never -- no Purple Heart has ever been awarded to a Vietnam veteran because of Agent Orange because it's never been changed in the regulations. Yet, we've got a candidate for president out here with two self-inflicted scratches, and I take that as an insult.


BUSH: Well, I appreciate that. Thank you. Thank you for your service. Six tours? Whew. That's a lot of tours. Let's see, who've we got here? You got a question?

— J.F.