As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, September 17, 2004

It's ALL About Iraq

I love talking about IBM Selectric typrewriters and exactly where the Mekong River reaches Cambodia as much as the next guy. But over the past week, this election is getting back to the heart of the issue: Iraq, George W. Bush's colossal failure, the mess of a war that will write his political epitaph.

The New York Times revealed a CIA National Intelligence Estimate from late July, which included dire predictions for Iraq's future.

The estimate outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war, the officials said. The most favorable outcome described is an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms.

This should come as no surprise. Insurgent attacks are at their highest level yet (an average of 87 attacks per day in August). Infrastructure improvements are slow going, and still not at pre-war levels, 19 months after the invasion. Security is so bad that the Administration is converting money earmarked for reconstruction back into security. And the consensus among the Iraqi people is that the American occupiers have got to go. You can add to this chorus of these intelligence officials the increasingly cacophonous voices of the experts in the military.

Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, told me: "Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." He adds: "Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends."

Retired general Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, told me: "The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options. We're conducting a campaign as though it were being conducted in Iowa, no sense of the realities on the ground. It's so unrealistic for anyone who knows that part of the world. The priorities are just all wrong."

Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, said: "I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true. There's no analogy whatsoever between the situation in Iraq and the advantages we had after the second world war in Germany and Japan."

W Andrew Terrill, professor at the Army War College's strategic studies institute - and the top expert on Iraq there - said: "I don't think that you can kill the insurgency". According to Terrill, the anti-US insurgency, centred in the Sunni triangle, and holding several cities and towns - including Fallujah - is expanding and becoming more capable as a consequence of US policy.

This is simply reality. Even Republicans are acknowledging it.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., a Vietnam veteran who supports Bush, joined Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind, in calling it a mistake to gloss over the violence in Iraq.

"The worst thing we can do is hold ourselves hostage to some grand illusion that we're winning," Hagel said.

"Right now we're not winning, things are getting worse. Measure that by any measurement you want - more casualties, more deaths, oil pipeline sabotage - you pick the measurement standard and it's worse than where it was six months ago or 12 months ago," Hagel said.

After months and months of talking about taxes and healthcare and Swift Boats and National Guard records and the like, the conversation has returned to Iraq. And that's right where it should be. The President's only explanation for his failures in this war is to say that Kerry doesn't have a position (a stance which has been meekly picked up by some of the national media). Well, that's not good enough. As Digby points out, you have to hold Bush accountable for this mess:

Suppose you hired a contractor to put on a new roof and he ended up creating a huge hole in it instead. The contractor simply denies that a hole exists and keeps telling you to relax that your new roof is coming along just fine. The other contractor in town drives by and says he can fix that hole in your roof. You ask him how and he says, "well, I'll have to take a look at it and see how much damage is done but I have years of experience and a lot of good workers and I can get the job done for you. I'll tell you one thing, that guy you've got working on it doesn't know what he's doing. The hole's getting bigger while we stand here looking at it."

Gergen, Woodruff and Carlson would pick the first contractor because they know his work. (And he's a blast to have a beer with at the end of the workday.) The second guy refused to say exactly what he would do without looking at the damage up close so he can't be trusted.

Bush owns this war. Kerry has picked up on this theme, saying the other day, in so many words, "The President has been talking about an ownership society. Well, you own it, Mr. President." And Kerry's attacks on Bush on Iraq has brought him right back into the race. In the end, people will pick the contractor who might be able to fix the roof over the contractor who made the giant hole.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

Gillespie on CNN: Bush served in the Air Force

Misspeak, lie, or deliberate misspeak?  You be the judge.

Gillespie and McAuliffe debated on Inside Politics today, and the conversation veered to the Bush/TANG controversy.  Gillespie says "President Bush served honorably; 50 service points, what I understand, is required. President Bush racked up 300 service points. He was on active duty as a fighter pilot for over a year in the Air Force."

Here's the transcript. McAuliffe did not correct him.

Fits a pattern, no?  After all, Bush and his surrogates have been lying about his being in the Air Force for years.

As Kos commenter eafredel notes: "Bush did not serve in the Air Force. A member of the Texas Air National Guard who is called to active duty (or who is on active duty status during pilot training or otherwise) is a member of the Texas Air National Guard on active duty.  This is what the Pentagon says. Service in the National Guard is military service, but it is not Air Force service."

Another day, another lie.


Tales of Freedom of Speech, Pt. MCMXXVIII

Today in our great free country, a woman was arrested for asking a question:

HAMILTON, N.J. - A woman wearing a T-shirt with the words "President Bush You Killed My Son" and a picture of a soldier killed in Iraq was detained Thursday after she interrupted a campaign speech by first lady Laura Bush.

Police escorted Sue Niederer of Hopewell, N.J., from a rally at a firehouse after she demanded to know why her son, Army 1st Lt. Seth Dvorin, 24, was killed in Iraq. Dvorin died in February while trying to disarm a bomb.

As shouts of "Four More Years" subsided, Niederer, standing in the middle of a crowd of some 700, continued to shout about the killing of her son. Secret Service and local police escorted her out of the event, handcuffed her and placed her in the back of a police van.

America, Love It and Shut Up!

It's wonderful, too, that after authorities arrested a woman for asking about her son that died in Iraq, the First Lady decided to tell everyone about the sons and daughters that died on September 11:

Mrs. Bush made several references to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks during her speech. She said that many in New Jersey, including some in neighborhoods near the firehouse, lost family members that day.

"Too many people here had a loved one that went to work in New York that day," Bush said. "It's for our country, it's for our children, our grandchildren that we do the hard work of confronting terror."

I guess that lady was guilty of talking about the wrong dead people.


Bush: Either a Drunk or an Idiot has now picked up the story of the Bush picture at the G8 Summit, showing him with a beer in front of him. I'm in the midst of a major flame war with a Republican friend, who dismissed the pic as proof only that Bush is drinking non-alcoholic beer.

Even if Bush is drinking non-alcoholic beer, he's drinking alcohol. And he's definitely drinking non-alcoholic beer.

Here's a link to a story in the Scotsman from November 2003. It distinctly says that "Mr Bush’s Bitburger Drive non-alcoholic beer was £1.75."

Now, a word about nonalcoholic beers:

They're not nonalcoholic. It's a misnomer. They're reduced in their alcoholic content, but they are in no way nonalcoholic. Bitburger "nonalcoholic" beer, in
fact, has a 0.50% ABV (which is like 10 times as muchas "near beer" stateside).

Link to the Bitburger ingredient list.

If I had an alcohol problem, I'd steer as far away from anything with alcohol content as possible. That shows pretty damn poor judgment from someone who claims to
lead the free world. There's a reason most alcoholics don't drink fake beer: because they have alcohol in them. I'm not so nutty as to believe that Bush is a
drunk (at least not yet, although there are telltale signs: slurring words on the stump, a couple incidents of falling off his bike), but drinking near beer with his history is
playing with fire and pretty fucking stupid. The problem with alcoholic beer is not necessarily the minute amount of alcohol - it's that it can be a trigger to relapse. The taste, the smell, and the packaging can remind the alcoholic of what it was like
and get them more in touch with the desire to drink. Thus it is frowned upon by most people in AA and treatment professionals.

In addition, a recent study in California has shown that both alcohol and the anticipation of alcohol (in other words, anything that smells like it) may raise dopamine levels, which conceivably could lead to similar attitudes and behaviors drinking near beer as when drinking the real thing.

The fact that Bush actually thinks it's OK to drink low-alcoholic beer proves that he's even more deluded than I thought.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Out of the Woodwork

Yet another one comes out:

Yoshi Tsurumi, in his first on-camera interview on the subject, told CNN that Bush confided in him during an after-class hallway conversation during the 1973-74 school year.

"He admitted to me that to avoid the Vietnam draft, he had his dad -- he said 'Dad's friends' -- skip him through the long waiting list to get him into the Texas National Guard," Tsurumi said. "He thought that was a smart thing to do."

I've had CNN on for a few hours and haven't seen this guy, even during a long piece about the Bush/TANG flap. But you combine this with the other avalanche of information, and the story is clear: Bush pulled strings to get in, and didn't fulfill his duty on the way out. And that's without the four documents from CBS.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Russia deserved it

You know, I think the White House is fitting Dick Cheney for a Hannibal Lecter-style muzzle right about now:

"I think some have hoped that if they kept their heads down and stayed out of the line of fire, they wouldn't get hit. I think what happened in Russia now demonstrates pretty conclusively that everybody is a target. That Russia, of course, didn't support us in Iraq, they didn't get involved in sending troops there, they've gotten hit anyway." —Dick Cheney

I guess America deserved to "get hit" too, then, after BushCo ignored warnings of impending terror attacks in 2001.


Is all this a forgery too?

Go look at this.

Very comprehensive, and as Bob Harris points out, Bush starts to go missing from his unit right around the time that the Air Force instituted a random drug-testing program. What timing!

Another thing that makes for interesting reading is this post by Glenn Smith, founder of Texans for Truth, which reveals that the Nixon-era Justice Department was investigating the Texas State Legislature for selling slots in the Texas Air National Guard. If I was a ranking officer in TANG at the time, that'd certainly get me to write some "CYA" memos about the sons of the powerful. Here's a sample:

Fear and paranoia overwhelmed those involved in the investigation of the National Guard in Texas. “One day everyone wanted credit for getting these rich kids into the Guard,” one source said. “The next day (after news of the investigation spread) no one was taking credit for anything anymore.”

Some news stories have questioned why Col. Walter “Buck” Staudt is mentioned in the memos as pressuring Killian after Staudt had retired. One source said even if you had left the guard you were concerned about the investigation. “You were worried about going to jail, you weren’t worried about your reputation.”

The White House's stance on the matter remains that the President was honorably discharged, and that's that. Well, considering that The Beltway Sniper could get himself an honorable discharge, I don't think they were so hard to get:

Sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad exploded a grenade in an Army tent during his military service in Saudi Arabia and earlier stole an M-16 rifle on a base in Germany, according to a commanding officer who now lives in north suburban Lincolnshire.

"He was a screwball then and a screwball now," said former Capt. Rick Martin, the executive officer of the 84th Engineer Company in the early 1990s when the alleged incidents occurred. "He was not a good soldier. On a scale of one to 10, he was a three at best."


Investigators grew suspicious and interviewed Muhammad--whose stuttering grew worse under questioning, Martin said. He admitted he hid the weapon, apparently to get another soldier in trouble, Martin said.

Muhammad faced a hearing, but he was not demoted, Martin said, adding that he was not sure whether any discipline was meted out.


Martin thinks a grudge that Muhammad held against another soldier led to his pulling the pin on an incendiary grenade in an Army tent near the Iraq border in January 1991.

"Someone yelled, 'Fire!' and his platoon scattered out of the tent," Martin said. No one was injured in the blast.

Martin said investigators found the grenade pin near Muhammad's bunk and determined the grenade exploded on the other side of the tent. They interviewed Muhammad, and he was arrested, Martin said. He said he does not know what happened to Muhammad.

Records show Muhammad entered the Louisiana National Guard in the late 1970s and was disciplined for striking an officer and demoted from sergeant to specialist. He entered the regular Army in 1985 and left active duty in 1994 with an honorable discharge.

That's excellent company the President's keeping there.


Monday, September 13, 2004

We received a letter from Batman today

He was on top of Buckingham Palace at the time.

Story. Weird.


Both Sides Of Mouth Talking At Once

From Yahoo today:

MUSKEGON, Mich. - President Bush chided Sen. John Kerry and fellow Democrats on Monday for asserting that Republicans will undermine Social Security, calling the strategy "the most tired, pathetic way to campaign for the presidency."

Yeah, they're saying we're going to take your money away! That's disgusting and pathetic! I would never campaign by saying the other side would take your money away!

Two paragraphs later:

"I'm running against a fellow who has got a massive, complicated blueprint to have our government take over the decision making in health care," the president said. "Not only is his plan going to increase the power of bureaucrats in your life, but he can't pay for it unless he raises your taxes."

Yeah, they're going to take your money away! And that's not tired, or pathetic, either... oh, never mind, just vote for me or the terrorists'll get ya, OK?


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Sunday morning blues

If you read today's Kerry/Bush cover stories in the LA Times, you'd think the President was up 30 points. The Kerry story was all about confusion of message and internal infighting, while the Bush story (by Ron Brownstein) was about how he has EFFECTIVELY promoted a theme of change (itself being a flip-flop) and turned Kerry's ideas into "the failed policies of the past." The notion that the incumbent is running on change, when he had four years in office and two years of a GOP Congress to change anything he wanted, should be smacked down hard, but they painted it as an asset. You can read both of them here, but they're not recommended for the faint of heart.

Oh well, at least California's not a swing state.