Homeland Security Begins with Babs

Remember my mention that Barbara Bush (one of the president's twins and not his pearl-wearing heavyweight champ of a mom) was dirty dancing by grinding into someone's thigh as reported in The NY Daily News on Thursday?

It turns out the object of Bab's grinding is wanted on a number of warrants dating from 2000 (mostly trespassing, motor vehicle and driving under the influence - a requirement in this family it seems - but in a number of different places). That seems really strange considering how many Secret Service people are with her constantly. They would have done a background check on this fellow and they would have known. Anybody else would have at least dropped a dime to the local cops.

I guess things really are different for the Bushes than for the rest of us.

More at Billmon

Billmon has some observations and additional news reports related to Bush's Alabama adventure in the National Guard that is definitely worth a perusal.

The Sole Voice to Substantiate Bush

In between nursing a very sick cat, I caught some of an interview (I believe it was MSNBC) conducted with Bill Calhoun, the one person who says he remembers seeing Bush on duty in Alabama.

Yet, as mostly other blogs have pointed out, his memory doesn't fit what is known about when Bush was supposedly in Alabama. He has Bush there far more frequently and... strangely.. voraciously reading flight manuals to study. I've never heard anyone describe Bush as a voracious reader or student. In fact, Mr. Bush's thirst for knowledge seems to be confined to the microscopic head of a pin.

But that aside, let me mention something. I was so busy with the cat that I at first missed what the interview was about. What I noted was that there was this man on TV, with clearly dyed auburn hair, wearing a red white and blue shirt, looking and sounding very evasive despite the fact that the interviewer was hardly asking hardball questions. Then I realized who I was watching and the subject being discussed.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Calhoun is in Florida to see the Daytona 500 when it's been widely reported that the prez will also be there. Want to bet Calhoun gets a good seat?

But if this man is supposed to be the missing link to sew up the case for Bush being in Alabama to serve when he should have been, wow... not good. A psychologist would make minced meat out of the man's body language, his facial expressions, and his manner of speaking. Nothing about him rang true. As I mentioned, the interview only got my attention away from the cat because there seemed to be something so odd about his overall demeanor and the way he answered questions. I came away with the distinct impression that he came up with this story and now he finds himself way in over his depth.

The Anybody But Bush Camp

Again and again, the media keeps referring to a large base of people who supposedly care little who the ultimate Democratic presidential candidate is so long as the ultimate winner in Election '04 is "anybody but Bush."

My standards are a bit higher than that.

I need a person I feel I can trust with many of the issues that have been trampled upon by the current administration (privacy and civil rights, the economy, our standing in the global community, American credibility, education, and so much more).

I want the person to be a thinker, a reader, and someone who can change his mind if the evidence suggests that is the correct thing to do.

I desire someone who doesn't force feed us a steady diet of American flag, mom, apple pie, and Christianity presented like it was cotton candy for mass consumption. A president is supposed to lead the country, not lead me in prayer.

We need someone who is brave enough to stand up and tell the American public things we won't like to hear - that tax revenue has to increase to reduce the deficit, that we need to balance our fears of terrorism with common sense, that corporations need to pay their taxes just as we do.

"Anybody But Bush" implies it simply doesn't matter the qualities of the particular candidate so long as they can win over Mr. Bush. Of course, we don't know what tricks will be in store for the election itself (they've had four years to plan the next potential Florida debacle and we're forced into these electronic voting machines with no paper record). But we desperately need someone we can respect.

Dems and the Gay Marriage Issue

I have to admit I find myself very disappointed in John Kerry for his stance against allowing gays to marry. It was an institution that he thought enough in to do it twice. Why should it be denied to someone else because of his or her sexual orientation?

Well, you might ask, how is this different from Howard Dean who helped bring about civil unions but not full gay marriage in Vermont? In many respects, it's not. I would have liked Vermont to have gone the full distance.

But Dean brought in the legislation nearly four years ago and, at the time, it was ground breaking. It was at least a good start in the right direction. What Kerry offers is what Dean got through four years back. I also feel like I don't know what Kerry's real stance on the matter is; I tend to think he'd support gay marriage if the polls were more in favor of it. Thus, he's being careful on the subject to keep from alienating some people. I understand why he would do this, but I don't much like it.

A Day for Lovers

Happy St. Valentine's Day. In honor of this festive and chocolate-laden occasion, let us give tribute to all the great lover couples, like:

    - Ann Coulter and her mirror (after Botox, of course)
    - George W. Bush and the fictional character he plays
    - Condi Rice and her president
    - Dick Cheney and his bunker, Lynne
    - Matt Drudge and Lucianne Goldberg in a love triangle with Karl Rove
    - Karl Rove and himself
    - Tucker Carlson and his hair weave
    - Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle
    - Rudy Giuliani and his ego
    - Scott McClellan and the WH press corps
    - Joe Scarbrough and his elusive lover, Bill O'Reilly's audience
    - Dennis Miller and his brown nose


More About Judge Silberman

He has a very colorful and ... uh, righteous past.

Mr. Bush, You Might Want to Have...

that abstinence discussion with your daughter, Barbara. Or perhaps pelvis grinding dances in public are part of the abstinence plan?

Remember, do as your president demands, and not how he and his do themselves.

The irony? If Babs gets knocked up, a very nice private abortion listed as a simple, benign GYN procedure will be made available to her, and John Ashcroft won't subpoena that record.

Speaking of Pregnancy

Did you know that the US infant mortality rate has gone up for the first time in something like three or four decades?

The percentage (3) may not seem significant, but in an industrialized country where good health service is available (if not to all), there is no good reason for the infant mortality rate to go anywhere but down. This is true even when you factor in the fact that many women are choosing to have children later in life and this can bring more risks.

It may be a dreaded indicator of the severity of the medical care crisis. It certainly does not bode well for the country as a whole. And you have to wonder if some of the Bush programs aren't directly responsible for this shift.

A Stupid Teen is a Good Thing

In an AP link provided by the Sludge... er... Grudge... uh Drudge Report:

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration is proposing to double spending on sexual abstinence programs that bar any discussion of birth control or condoms to prevent pregnancy or AIDS despite a lack of evidence that such programs work.

I have zero problem with those who choose abstinence. It worked for me.

But it's just that: a choice. To deliberately without information about contraception and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is just wrong. A stupid teen isn't a good thing because it also means a teen who may become pregnant or father a child unintentionally, who may develop a life-long sexually transmitted disease or they may get a death sentence through the introduction of HIV into full blown AIDS.

You Know It's Bad When

even David Kay (chief WMD detective - former) tells the WH they're being dense, that no WMD means no WMD and not we just haven't found any yet. Kay has done everything possible to protect the president on this matter, so when he feels pushed to speak out, you know things aren't going well.

And while we're on the subject, who here would like to see how the polygraph machine implodes when you hook Dr. Condoleeza Rice up to it? Listen to her speech pattern regarding almost everything, and it's so blatantly obvious that she never says a single word that is a)unfiltered and b)honest and forthright.

But hey, they named an oil tanker after her after Gulf War I.

Why I've Come to Love Helen Thomas

Long before most of the press corps learned how to ask a question and LONG after most of the press forgot what it was to ask a question and demand a full answer, Helen Thomas has been there. She's a classy lady, an excellent journalist, and she has a mind that's as sharp as they come.

Look at this press conference today where she endeavors to get a simple yes or no response from Scott McClellan (courtesy of the John Marshall at Talking Points Memo). But Scott isn't programmed for those.y

Airline Security in the Bush Era

Scared by nuns. Enough said.

Guardsman Accused of Leaking

Will this be like other charges of espionage and "terrorist" sympathizing, like those with James Yee, and others, where after this young man's life is ruined, it turns out the story amounts to nothing?

Ashcroft and company love to make these sound grievous and horrific, and yet... again and again... nothing. It's the worst sort of charge you can level against someone and it ought to be done only with careful consideration and analysis and not treated like a situation where you toss as much muck as you can at a wall and see what - if anything - sticks.

It's That Day

Happy Friday the 13th. Not that I'm suspicious, but I'm planning on buying a lottery ticket today. Considering my luck the rest of the year, I figure my odds have to better at almost anything on such an auspicious day.

(Now watch me get run over by a truck, abducted by aliens, or worse.)

Constitutional Amendment Unlikely to Pass

According to USA Today.

Calls for Scalia to Recuse Himself

re: the Cheney/Energy Task Force issue, as summarized by the wonderful Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft.

Blessings on Your Unions

I'm not sure what the ultimate ramifications will be, and there are bound to be measures in place before tomorrow to undo what was done, but San Francisco - in defiance of both a California law passed in 2000 as well as Mr. Bush's stated desire to go after a gay marriage ban - began to marry the first of some approximately 100 couples today.

But to these couples - especially the pair who had been together for 51 years - I say, "Many happy and committed years together." If marriage is such a blessing and a joy, we should actually encourage more people to do it when appropriate, rather than say heterosexuals can, homosexuals cannot.


Kerry's So-Called Female Problem

You may have already heard - either through the miserable Drudge Report (I don't link to sludge, sorry) or through a number of other, mostly online venues - today that rumors are going around that John Kerry has been involved with a woman either in the not-too-distant past or currently.

From what I've been able to read, there are certainly not enough details to determine whether this is true or not. More unfortunate is that Wes Clark is being faulted as the leaker of the tale.

My take on it is this: I still do not believe that a politician's entire private life is ours to pilfer and plunder as we wish. Human beings err and politicians are human beings.

There are exceptions. You can't yell "uphold family values" every two seconds and then expect me not to notice when you've had 3-4 families in the last 10 years (think Gingrich, think George S. Will, think so many of the GOPers). You can't be a fire-and-Brimstone former minister like Gary Condit who really faulted Clinton during the Lewinsky matter and not get noticed when an intern to which he appeared to be personally linked comes up missing (although it appears that he had nothing to do with her death).

To this day, I do not think it was our business to parade the Lewinsky matter through the media day after day. Monica may have been far younger than Clinton, but they were both consulting adults. And if Mr. Kerry has been involved with someone, that's a matter between him, his wife, and this other woman.

Does it speak to character? Yes. But we all sadly have blips in our character.

But I'd rather have someone lie to me to protect an affair than lie to me about everything from deficits to the reasons for wars. The latter is far more than a character flaw.

What may be more telling is the timing of this "bombshell". How convenient that this is disclosed during the first week in this president's 3+ years in office when he's actually taking real and consistent heat. And that Drudge is the first major outlet to divulge it seems strange since Drudge is (dis)credited by many as being an avenue for Karl Rove (Bush's brain) to smear people. Drudge will print anything outrageous and from the most scurrilous and despicable of sources.

A Man Who Can Think and Change

Considering how angry I was that the president could admire himself for never changing and never changing his mind (relative to his Tim Russert interview on 2-8-04), this Signs on San Diego piece - courtesy of Buzzflash - about author Chalmers Johnson ("Blowback" and "Sorrows of Empires") presented a refreshing change.

They Owe; We Pay

The federal government continues to pay on contracts held by 27,000 different defense contractors - or about 10% of the total number of defense contractors - who owe some $3 billion in back taxes, the Washington Post reports that the General Accounting Office has discovered. Yet the Defense Department and the IRS have done little to try to collect on the money owed.

Guess who has to make up that shortfall? Us. And guess what happens to us if we fail to pay the IRS? Right. They pin you to the wall and they keep you there until they're satisfied.

    Some cases involved substantial sums. One contractor, which provided "base support and custodial services," owed nearly $10 million in back taxes during 2002 -- a year in which it received $3.5 million in defense contract payments. The GAO found that the owner borrowed $1 million from the business, and bought a boat, several cars and a home outside the country with business funds. The business was dissolved in 2003 and its employees were transferred to a related business, which continues to receive payments from the Defense Department.

On Christmas Eve 2002, I received an "Intent to Levy" notice from the IRS on an amount they had never told me previously that I owed. They gave me 10 days to pay or have my assets seized without any prior contact from them. It was a merry little holiday gift during a year in which I'd been unemployed, let me tell you. We were able to work it out, but it's amazing to me that companies collecting money from the government can get by with failure to pay huge amounts, while ordinary taxpayers can be hit harshly.

Fail to pay a government-backed student loan, and I believe the law allows them to go after tax refunds, bank accounts, etc. Unless you're a doctor or other professional who may never have to pay that money back, even if they fail to go into programs they've agreed to work in to offset the loans. Last I knew, they accounted for the highest default loans and the highest default rates.

The Deficit According to Greenspan

I see the New York Times heard about the same thing from Fed Alan Greenspan's testimony about the economy and deficits I did: that contrary to Mr. Bush's predictions (and contrary to anyone not failing Economy 101), massive spending combined with drastically reduced tax revenue will not ease the debt burden.

While this thinking is no doubt how so many of Mr. Bush's businesses went belly-up, it sure doesn't bode well for us. I've read conflicting info recently that while our debt load, per household, was about $500 each when Mr. Bush took office, each household may now carry an apportioned $86,500 up to hundreds of thousands, of the overall national debt today. I've never owed $86,500 in my life, outside of my mortgage. Egads.

Update on Missing Russian Candidate

The New York Times has an editorial today telling us that the missing opponent to Vladimir Putin has resurfaced.

Quote the formerly missing man's wife:

    I feel sorry for Russia if people like this want to govern it.


President: "That's some bad pilot"

Read Gail Sheehy's article in The Observer and, despite how much you already know - or think you know - about what happened on 9/11, be prepared to be shocked and stunned all over again.

I'm still shaking, with sadness and anger over the blocking of the 9/11 inquiry.

Cleveland Plains Dealer's

Dick Feagler has an excellent piece regarding Mr. Bush's military period and feels that the president would have benefited from time in the trenches.

I think there's some validity in that statement, and it applies to any commander in chief rather than simply to Mr. Bush. I suspect those who have served in war overall would be far more thoughtful and deliberate in their exercise of military means because they would know what being in the trenches truly means.

While Mr. Bush can swagger around in a flightsuit, he'd long lost his pilot status to deserve to do so. And while others were serving and dying in Vietnam, this week's Village Voice states that the cocky Mr. Bush had his feet up in a candidate's office, talking about how much he'd had to drink the night before, and enjoying his status as "God's gift to women."

Thus, I'm not sure Mr. Bush had any way to perceive of what war means on the ground. He wasn't a conscious being when his father served, and he'd never served himself. In fact, none of his immediate family has known war from an enlisted man's - or woman's - perspective. He may have ordered people executed in Texas, but he was far from the switch.

I suspect it's a lot different when your finger is on the switch or the trigger and far different when the results of those actions lie before you, in blood, in fragments, and in horror. My peace stance was formed on stories of my father in WWII and my brother and cousins in Vietnam. They saw and through them, I feel I saw. As a child, I slept in a room where my father's Japanese sword ("taken off a dead Jap") hung in the closet not more than 10 feet from my bed. Few nights went by when I didn't wonder about the man who lost that sword and about his family.

Voices Unheard

It strikes me that while the media outlets are all racing to talk with this person and that - politician, pundit, candidate, and columnist - about Mr. Bush and the issue of his military records, we've heard almost nothing from GIs - ours and those of coalition members - and their families.

How are they responding to it? I think, in many ways, they have more credibility here than any of many of the rest of us. They're making huge sacrifices right now for their commander in chief.

Oh, I certainly don't expect all of them to be raging angry. Many of them, I believe, have a sense of commitment that goes far beyond this president, this war, this time in America's history. Unfortunately, however, I suspect many of them are in harm's way because there were not jobs or opportunities at home and many of those serving today began their enlistment before 9/11 and all it would come to mean. Few of them had the advantages that Mr. Bush - or even the far less affluently reared Mr. Clinton - had to, as Dick Cheney would say, "have other priorities rather than serve."

Why are we hearing nothing?

Bush "Military" Records - Yet Again

USA Today has a report that highlights the comments of Lt. Col. Bill Burkett mentioned here (from Dallas Morning News) yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe would like to know why Bush being pulled from flight duty did not spur the usual investigation.

While at the WH, they release Mr. Bush's dental records from 1972-73 as proof of his great service to his country. Who knew a picture of a molar was soooo informative? I guess forensics have come a long way baby.

Again, however, I suspect Mr. Bush would have continued to get a pass on all of this - 30 year old military records and why he was in the Guard rather than in Vietnam - if only he hadn't kept raising the issue himself (donning the flight suit, donning the CiC jackets, talking about his service).

I would argue against Scott McClellan's assertions that this is engaging in gutter politics. In fact, I don't think the Dems had a damned thing to do with it. Mr. Bush is responsible for this, and so are his handlers. Everytime the press wanted to beat down anyone - like Michael Moore, like Terry McAuliffe - who spoke out against it, the pressure inside the drum increased.

BTW, two of the best sources on this material are Kevin Drum's CalPundit - for deep background - and Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo for current color assessment. Both men are doing an exemplary job here.

And hey, even the WH press corps is actually doing something of their job for a change rather than salivating at Mr. Bush's every utterance like it's the gospel from the mount.

New Yorker piece

If you haven't read Jane Mayer's careful analysis of the relationship with VP Dick Cheney and Halliburton, famed no-bid-necessary defense contractor and formerly Mr. Cheney's place of employment, I recommend it.


World o' Crap

Sorry, but this pretty much summarizes the news today, with Scotty McClellan (WH press officer) calling anyone who dares question Mr. Bush as engaging in "gutter" politics - and, btw, courtesy of Atrios (I believe, but I can't get back there right now to verify that), an article in the Dallas Morning News, once a huge Bush backer - which quotes a Lt. Colonel as saying he saw Bush's folks destroy via wastebasket Mr. Bush's unflattering service records.


    Retired National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett said Tuesday that in 1997, then-Gov. Bush's chief of staff, Joe Allbaugh, told the National Guard chief to get the Bush file and make certain "there's not anything there that will embarrass the governor."

    Col. Burkett said that a few days later at Camp Mabry in Austin, he saw Mr. Bush's file and documents from it discarded in a trash can. He said he recognized the documents as retirement point summaries and pay forms.

From a Yahoo news article:
    But attendance records of the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in Alabama do not show that Bush ever was there. "I never saw the man, I never met the man," Kenneth Lott, the squadron's personnel officer at the time, told Newsweek.

There's also news that basically, we're not going to let the 9/11 investigatory panel do their job. Thank you, Mr. President. It's nice to see that you use 9/11 as an excuse for everything but refuse any accountability or proper investigation into how it happened on your watch.

Mr. Bush is also busy trying to make sure not even civil unions are recognized for gays. At this point, however, I'm not sure how many homosexuals - save perhaps for Andrew Sullivan - would like to acknowledge Mr. Bush either. But as Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo points out, how nice of Mr. Bush to interject this controversy flat out now when it can distract from his deep do-do over his military service.

And Kentucky Baptist ministers are having a pentecostal cow because a high school is no longer allowing them free access to students during lunch periods. Why the hell did they have access to the students during lunch in the first place? I'm sure these kids could find the ministers after school hours if they wanted to see them. Can't we even keep up the pretense anymore that school is for education and not for religious and corporate indoctrination? I suppose not.

We're also supposed to be excited that we have Osama's chaffeur at Guantanamo. What are we supposed to learn from him? That Osama liked to be a backseat driver or that Osama got motion sickness on long drives across the desert? Or hey, maybe we'll learn that Osama got big munchie cravings at 3 AM and had to be driven into Kabul for a meal of fried goat testicles.

Push for Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

It's been announced that Mr. Bush, trying perhaps to shore himself up with his key supporters, will indeed push for the passage of a marriage amendment to the US Constitution that defines marriage as strictly between a male and a female.

Do we really want to do this? Are we prepared to change the constitution to specifically deny 10-15% of the population the right to have their unions sanctioned?

Let's set aside the gay component of this for a minute. I happen to believe - and it seems many share my view - that the constitution should not be amended capriciously. It's an important document that relates to the very nature and operation of our country and any changes to it should be considered very carefully. Unfortunately, not all existing amendments have been all that carefully considered before passage.

As a very young woman in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I really debated whether the Equal Rights Amendment should be applied to the constitution. While I liked much of what it was about, I felt that our constitution should embrace this as part of the natural course of our progressive country rather than require a separate amendment.

This amendment, as proposed, seems both narrow and hate-inspired. Traditional marriage between a man and a woman is hardly endangered by the ability - perhaps as soon as this May - for same gender people to marry. Our children are not endangered by giving gays the right to create loving, acknowledged unions.

If we value marriage so much, shouldn't we want others to embrace it and to recognize its sanctity, and be willing to apply their relationships to it? And even if you don't happen to believe such marriage is right, do you think it's wise to push through a constitutional amendment to disallow it?

Bush Wants to Empower WMD Fight

Mr. Bush, learning nothing from the Iraq situation, now wants new money and powers to wipe out WMD (real or imagined?) throughout the world.

What's that quote by Santayana? Oh yes:

    Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it.

One huge issue with this - aside from the rather tattered credibility of this WH on the issue of WMD - is that probably the biggest owner and proliferator of WMD is right here in the US: our government. The concept that our WMDs are meant for good and everyone else's are evil and must be destroyed probably isn't going to fly.

Such a Success

In the words of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, we must be extremely successful in Iraq this week, because we've now had a 2nd car bombing (besides the first yesterday which took some 50 lives and caused 150+ injuries) that has killed 20 Iraqi soldier trainees. My God.

Last week, dozens were killed in car bombings at two different Kurdish political headquarters.

How much success can Iraq stand?

Wes Clark to Bow Out

With word tonight that he's placed third in the two major primaries held on Tuesday, we're sorry to hear that Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark expects to announce he is dropping out of the Democratic nomination race later today.

I'm still very tired and angry to hear the media demand that this contest be over well before all states have voted, and I'm sorry we've lost some of the good candidates along the way. I still hope, somehow, that Dean manages to blaze forward again. I continue to believe he has much to offer, as I felt Clark did.


Molly Ivins: Drawing the Line on Revisionist History.

Read here. I still want Molly to adopt me.

The Half-Assed Half Time Lawsuit

That brain trust in Tennessee who filed suit on behalf of all the American people for the grievous injury suffered as the result of seeing Janet Jackson's nipple covering has decided to hold back on her suit until she sees what the government does.

If I were litigious, I think I'd be inclined to sue her for daring to try to speak for all the American people.

More on Military Records

Kevin Drum at Calpundit continues to do a bang-up job trying to compile and assess the information coming out about Mr. Bush's military records. If you're interested, definitely check his log.

Second, for amusement and bewilderment, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has the transcript from the relevant portion of the WH press conference regarding the military records. I only saw part of it and what I did see made me want to bitch slap Scott McClellan (not really, but darn close).

When the Bush Admin Said

there would be 2.6 million new jobs before the end of this year, I guess they didn't mean American jobs. Read this Los Angeles Times article headlined, "Bush Supports Shift of Jobs Overseas."

Not only that, Mr. Bush's report says it will ultimately be a great thing for us.

If I could think of a country I truly despised, I'd be happy to consider shifting Mr. Bush's job overseas. But I don't hate any place that much.

Seriously, however, this echoes many of the articles I've read on the issue in the foreign press, where Bush Admin officials are actively working in other countries to help American corporations move their jobs. Such officials have said some truly disturbing things, such as, "Americans don't have any special rights to these jobs. They can learn how to do something else."

War Makes for Great Opium

So the UN is reporting that the Afghan opium yield has increased some 20-fold since we first attacked the country in 2001. Renders one rather speechless, doesn't it?

Another WP Column Worth Reading

EJ Dionne also has a thought-provoking take on Mr. Bush's Meet the Press appearance in which he indentified clearly as a war president:

    Do not for an instant underestimate the capacity of Bush and Rove to find ingenious ways of focusing our minds on terrorism by the last three weeks of the campaign. They played Democrats for chumps on security issues in 2002. They're certain they can do it again.

Richard Cohen's Column

If you haven't read Cohen's column today in The Washington Post, I urge you to do so.

I urge this not because it underscores some big issues about Mr. Bush's military service, but because here's a respected journalist who didn't have to tell us some of these rather unflattering details, but did so because it dispels some of the myths being bandied about. I was impressed by his candor.

Re: the release of Bush's military payroll records, however, I'm not terribly impressed. I don't think they resolve the issue. But again, I don't think the military service issue is the most important matter upon which Mr. Bush should be called. To the extent it is a huge deal, it's largely because of how Mr. Bush himself has framed the issue by pretending to be that military action hero of himself sold in WalMart (and made in China!).

Ashcroft Calls Up Private Patient Abortion Records

Apparently trying to make his case against a challenge by some in the medical community against the law banning partial birth abortions, John Ashcroft ordered subpoenas served on a number of doctors and hospitals to release private patient files. Northwestern in Chicago avoided having to do so because a judge intervened.

While I'm sure formerly pregnant women who felt tormented enough about their situation to agree to a later term termination of pregnancy are certainly major candidates for becoming terrorists (cough), what the (bleep) does this man think he's doing? None of the patients are known to be party to the suit alleging the unconstitutionality of the partial birth abortion ban, but if Mr. Ashcroft wants to make his case, he'll drag anyone's private records into it.

No one's privacy except Mr. Bush's and his matters, apparently.


Censure Mr. Bush

Those who want to request their lawmakers seek censure for Mr. Bush can use either the True Majority site or Moveon's action alert effort.

Remember Seth Dvorin and the many like him...

This is an exceptionally touching letter from the father of a fallen GI asking Mr. Bush where the WMD are.

At the end of the day, this is always what bothers me most. I can cope with wrong intel. I can deal with politicization of the intelligence to justify the war (so long as we remove the people who did it). I can handle the idea of the debt we carry as a result of all this unnecessary nonsense.

What bothers me in bed at night, when the house is quiet and my family is sleeping, is that humans like Seth and the hundreds like him in our military and the forces of the supporting coalitions, and thousands of citizens in Iraq and Afghanistan, have died in utter vain for companies like Halliburton, Bechtel, and the Carlisle Group's investment portfolio.

Say it, Brother Gore...

"He [Bush] betrayed our country."

Is it too late to write in Mr. Gore at the Democratic convention in Boston? I'd love to see Howard Dean as his VP.

"I Don't Change"

One more point before I try to stop shooting the downer cow named George...

I keep hearing pundits and real red-wing reverers like Michael Deaver credit Mr. Bush yesterday for showing how much of a "regular human being" he is and how wonderful it is to have someone who said he doesn't change, doesn't change his mind.

First, whether the "folksiness" is an act or not with Mr. Bush, I don't know. But what I do know is that George is NOT one of us. He was born in Yale-New Haven Hospital to privileged parents and living in one of the wealthiest communities on the CT Gold Coast: Greenwich. Not Crawford. Not Dallas. Not Houston.

He's never worked a regular job, he's never had the ordinary tough demands of work and family that most of us have had, and he's been handed everything - from stellar educational opportunities (that I'm not certain he used well, btw), to an officer's position in the Guard that his record did not merit, to bailouts for his many failed companies, to a part ownership in a Texas team that he paid less for than anyone else.. right through to the Supreme Court handing him the presidency and 9/11 handing him an excuse to reshape the world in his image.

But what offends me far more than pretending you're "one of the people" when you're not is that Mr. Bush should be credited for not being able to change or change his mind. The New York Times editorial today said it well: it's scary to have the leader of the free world be someone who cannot change his opinion even when the intelligence and the evidence indicates he's wrong. Someone who can't change even when much of the rest of the world has had to change since 9/11.

Thinking, learning, participatory people are apt to experience changes over a period of time, and are apt to change their minds on subjects occasionally. This happens as a natural consequence for learning, growing, and truth-seeking.

Anyone who flatly says that cannot happen is not someone I would want to trust with anything, from my super dog to my country to my world. As I recall, the DSM-III has a mental illness named for the condition Mr. Bush cited yesterday.

FDA: Let's Moo-oooove On!

Gee, did you know the USDA has solved the case of the US-based mad cow disease?

Neither did I. But they just ended their investigation.

We all feel safer. Right?

"This is our due."

Maureen Dowd has been something of a mixed blessing recently, but yesterday's NYT column is priceless. One hint: better duck because Dick Cheney is armed.

New Battle Over 9/11 Investigation

Although I'm no fan of Michael Isikoff, you may want to check out this Newsweek piece on the WH battling to keep so much 9/11 material secret from the official commission investigating same.

One wonders if the commission - considering how tightly the WH has tried to keep so much locked in a bunker with Cheney and Rove - will even be able to conclude that three planes struck the WTC and Pentagon that day.

To use a much overused phrase, "Where the hell is the outrage?"

You can't use 9/11 as an excuse for everything and then make certain you never answer a single question about how 9/11 was allowed to happen.

Good "60 Minutes" Followup

For those who weren't chilled enough by the segment with author Tim LaHaye on last night's "60 Minutes", this Rolling Stones profile on him should do it.

Now, notably, the rumor has always been that Bush is a LaHaye fan. While I really doubt Mr. Bush reads much although it's always possible Condi read them to him when she puts him down for his nap, it's still extremely scary prospect that someone like LaHaye is considered a "rock star" at right-wing national policy meetings. We've all heard rhetoric from the right-wing regarding Israel, regarding this presidency, etc., that sounds like material from this man's books.

Remember, these are people who refute what science we've been able to work out thus far in our knowledge, but want to bet the farm (everyone's farms, not just their own) that it's critical we (America, and specifically, a small subsegment of the population who revere this stuff) reshape the world to fulfill their end-times prophecy of the rapture.

When Peggy Noonan Calls You Bumbling...

Boy, you know you've given a bad MTP interview when Peggy "Loony" Noonan, who channels Mel Gibson reviews from the Pope and squirms and moistens with pure orgiastic delight at the very concept of anything Mr. Bush, says your performance seemed at times "bumbling", vague, and not well rehearsed.

Hell, Mary (hey, the WH hates me for being an aggressive, loud-mouthed bitch and I'm trying desperately to get back in their good graces after I pretended I left Dick Cheney's office for "family reasons") Matalin was so desperate to score points that she debunked Loony Noonan and refuted CNN's moderator's take on Mr. Bush's poor performance, calling Mr. Bush something like masterful.

Masterful at what? If Mary had only had less Botox and plastic surgery, we might have seen that it was hard for her to keep a straight face.

But here's a good overview from Greg Mitchell in Editor & Publisher covering the 10 questions unasked yesterday.

WH Predicts 2.6 Million New Jobs This Year

Uh huh. And I'm sure they won't want to count the new jobs until well after the election.

Well, as long as we're making hopelessly wonderful predictions here, let me predict that I'm going to be 5'11, 100 lbs, and speaking 27 languages by the end of the year. Oh yeah, and I'm going to put Oprah out of work and reverse global warming too.


Damning NYT Assessment of Mr. Bush

Read this:

    The only clarity in the president's vision appears to be his own perfect sense of self-justification.

    Some of Mr. Bush's comments yesterday raise questions even more disturbing than the idea that senior administration members might have misled the nation about the intelligence on Iraq. The nation obviously needs a leader who is always alert to the threat of terrorism from abroad. But it cannot afford to have one who responds to the trauma of 9/11 by overreacting to the possibility of danger.

Russian Prez Candidate Missing

Ivan Rybkin, a major critic as well as competitor of Russian president Vladimir Putin (Mr. Bush likes to call him "Putey-Poot"), has gone missing since Thursday, according to his family.

Read the text and you'll see this is a strange one. A murder investigation was opened and then just as quickly closed. Some Rybkin allies say he's alive and fine. I doubt Mr. Putin would be beside himself in tears if Rybkin failed to appear again.

But the presidential run-off is in just over one month (March 14th).

A Couple of Must-Looks

First, Dan Gillmor's eJournal provides link to an excellent fact-check analysis of Bush's appearance on "Meet the Press" today, available at the Center for American Progress.

Next, check on Kevin Drum's Calpundit link here for an analysis of some records that indicate that Bush's non-attendance in the Guard was referred for disciplinary action (although they apparently never disciplined him).


Thanks to Ezra Klein

at Pandagon for referring me to William Saletan's analysis of The Big Bush Interview with Tim Russert today on Slate.

My favorite part is this because it is so apt:

    That's the Bush syllogism: The evidence says one thing; the conclusion says another; therefore, the evidence is false.

For more than 3 years now, that's how life has been - a non-stop cycle of this kind of logic.
    * Economic disaster is really boom times.
    * Corporations are wonderful (I don't believe they're naturally Satan either but what's good for corporate America is usually bad for human America).
    * Our President is God's chosen one.
    * We love everyone who isn't a terrorist (and we'd love them more if they converted to Jerry Falwell's or Pat Robertson's religion).
    * Everyone who isn't a red suit or tie wearing Republican nut case is potential terrorist.
    * The best way to protect our freedom is to give it all up to Mr. Ashcroft.
    * The president deserves the Nobel peace prize for making non-stop war while Jimmy Carter doesn't deserve it for trying to effect peace.
    * We love our GIs and veterans and that's why we're underfunding them and cutting existing funds for their health care, their children's education
    * We don't need a draft but we aren't letting GIs end their service at their scheduled time
    * Global warming is good for you just like self-regulated industrial pollution helps the environment (Clear skies mean clearly toxic skies).
    * We (grudgingly) need a complete investigation into something, so let the president order up a panel made of questionable choices and then hamstring them so they can't investigate
    * It's bad for women to abort fetuses but it's FINE if you execute someone who committed a murder as a child.

It amazes me more heads haven't exploded. I've got to assume the statistic for mental illness rates is sky-high.

The Preaching Pilot

I read about this story yesterday and I was sure it was a mistake. But no. An American Airlines pilot supposedly asked passengers who were Christians to identify themselves to the rest of the plane so that non-Christians could talk with them about their faith.

Pardon me if I say that I think especially since 9-11, people have felt as if they have leave to interject their "faith" wherever they happen to be. I attended a highly secular government meeting a few years ago and was surprised when the moderator asked everyone to join hands in praying to the Lord.

When I was in the hospital, I saw ministers and chaplains almost as often as I saw my doctor (my housemate had said Religion None, the clerk transcribed this into "Religion Unknown" on the hospital emergency admission form, and as a result, I got everyone from the rabbi to the priest on down the line). Funny, but in ICU with tubes attached to me and the inability to shower normally for three weeks, I just didn't feel in the mood to chat with strangers anymore than necessary.

An editor recently, in feeling me out about a writing project, asked me what religion I was. When I hesitated in answering, because it had zero to do with anything we'd discussed, she said, "I always think it's so important to know information like one's religious affiliation because it helps you understand the person better." Really? The project was medical reporting. Was I going to know my stuff better if I was a Jew or a Methodist, than if I was a Catholic or a Muslim or a Pentecostalist?

Even before 9-11, I was flying on a no-name airline that offered service to a rather remote location I needed to visit, and I was on a tiny plane with just 7 other passengers and a single (one) pilot. Bad weather kept us circling the airport for almost two hours, lightning nice and bright in the windows, and we were so close to the pilot, we heard him say that we were running out of fuel. Then, suddenly, he turns around in his seat and announces that he wants everyone to join hands and pray to God for our safe landing. When a woman behind me balked, he yelled at her to do it. Strangely enough, I never wanted to fly that airline again, which is good since it was shutdown for safety violations soon thereafter.

Maybe it's my odd upbringing (raised a Catholic as well as a high Anglican while one parent was a real fundamentalist at heart) or the fact that I separated my faith out from formal religious practice fairly early on, but I've never felt it was my place - particularly in a professional or official situation - to bring God up in the workplace. Oh, to me, God is very much present because in my faith, his energy and possibility are there with us all the time.

Faith is a very private, personal thing. It shouldn't be intruded upon and no one should feel it his or her mission to proselytize others. And those who don't believe - or don't believe in the same notions of God - should not be placed in the unfortunate situation of feeling dragged into something for which they did not ask entry.

Last I knew, when we fly, we pay for safe transit from one destination to another. We don't need a sermon and we don't need a great time. We just want to get from Point A to Point B.

Perhaps I'm wrong

but I think the Bush interview this morning was largely worthless.

While I don't believe Tim Russert did a horrible job, he clearly wasn't inclined to push Mr. Bush on so many different issues he could have and should have raised or pursued. However, if we each got a dollar for everytime Mr. Bush said the word "context", we could make a dent in Mr. Bush's debt creation.

At the end, where he was asked about his military service, I grew pretty angry. For the record, or.. to use Mr. Bush's phrase... to put into context, I'm not sure Mr. Bush's military record is by itself a huge deal. However, when placed in the context in which Mr. Bush has donned military gear (when multi-star general Dwight Eisenhower did not), loved to bask in his role of Commander in Chief, and insist that hundreds of thousands of lives be put on the line for what seem (to me) to be questionable wars, the military record becomes a more important issue.

He said this morning (basically) that he doesn't have the evidence to prove that he served properly but that if he had not, he would not have been granted an honorable discharge. That's not true, however. Mr. Bush did not qualify to become a Lieutenant (his rating as a pilot was poor and he did the minimum necessary in any situation) but he was promoted anyway. Strings were pulled to allow Mr. Bush to get into the Guard rather than go to Vietnam. He got deference to leave the guard to work on a campaign that others wouldn't have been granted.

So to say that he couldn't have gotten an honorable discharge unless he fulfilled his duty is nonsense. Exceptions have been made for him throughout his privileged life.

And to say, as the nation's commander in chief and the ultimate holder of the keys to his records, that the press is welcome to investigate his records which now seem to be missing is ridiculous.

I was also struck by the times Mr. Bush said today, "I don't blame anybody." Perhaps he doesn't. But he takes no responsibility for anything. He wants all the power and none of the accountability. If someone has ever heard him say he was wrong about anything, I'd love to know. I certainly have never heard it. And I was annoyed that he called Vietnam a political war - different from his, of course - and that he would have been glad to serve if he'd been called up. If so, why did he work so hard to avoid that service?

I was a child during the Vietnam war and I saw several family members or the family members of school friends called up when some of them did not believe in Vietnam either. Not all of them came home. I watched what it did to my mother when she would hear a news report of GIs hurt or killed, as she wondered whether it was her son or the son of someone else she knew.

Popular Fable

Mr. Bush is repeating a falsehood that Russert is not calling him on, and that's that the action against Iraq wasn't preemptive because "the first thing he did" was go to the UN and ask the UN to act.

As I recall it, Mr. Bush had to be pushed to go to the UN. If you believe Ron Suskind, Paul O'Neill and others, the plan to take out Hussein predated 9/11 by many months.

I loathe revisionist history.

A Point on Which Mr. Bush and I Agree

"I don't think America can stand around and hope for the best with a madman."

This is from President Bush just now. I know exactly how he feels. Yet I doubt he perceives that he's the madman most of the world is worried about.

Bush on "Meet the Press" - hurm

Is it me or do other people feel that the President loves to present everything in terms that a reasonably bright four-year-old could understand but leave anyone with an IQ of 80 or above of adult age shaking their head?

He's not answering many of the questions ("will you testify before the WMD investigation commission?), and Tim does not appear to be following up. Isn't it nice to know that Mr. Bush "perhaps" would submit to questioning from the 9/11 commission. Name many people in this country who would need to hedge on this question. Pro- or anti-war, GOP or Dem, most of us - if we had any information at all - would gladly sit before the commission.