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Step off, old man!
Friday, 9 July 2004
Convenient destruction
So, the records that supported Bush's contention about his service were OK, but ones that may have challenged his assertion just happened to be destroyed?

Ha! Ha!

"Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.

It said the payroll records of "numerous service members," including former First Lt. Bush, had been ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. No back-up paper copies could be found, it added in notices dated June 25.

The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush's claims of service in Alabama are in question."

Posted by brettdavey at 9:05 AM EDT
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Thursday, 8 July 2004
Wish I saw it...
This was on Yahoo news, with a picture of Bush walking away from the podium. I wonder which member of the press (Helen Thomas, maybe?) actually had the balls to ask the President a tough question.

"US President George W. Bush walks away from a briefing with the media, refusing to answer questions after he was asked about Enron and the reported indictment of former CEO Kenneth Lay, who was a close adviser and fund-raiser for Bush and his father, earning him the presidential nickname of 'Kenny Boy.'"

Posted by brettdavey at 1:22 PM EDT
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Watch Hitchens sweat
Ever see writer Christopher Hitchens on television? He always looks like he's sweating out the booze from the night before. Maybe he's drinking so much because he's one of those pundits who went "all in" on Bush.

Anyway, this comes from

"The New York Daily News peeks at Christopher Hitchens's Vanity Fair column and finds the Johnnie Walker enthusiast looking on the bright side: "That Bush did not surrender to the need for a colossal bourbon on Sept. 11 stands, I think to his credit." Right. So let's go to the official Bush presidency scoreboard. Pros: Did not get stinking drunk on 9/11. Cons: Started a war that has yet to be proven necessary. Could you send that Johnnie Walker over our way now?"

Good point. I've always wondered why people go so nuts about Bush's leadership after 9/11. What did he do that Clinton, Gore, Kerry, or Bush the Elder wouldn't have done? So basically, it's because he didn't break down crying? Or because he didn't start drinking again?

I don't get it.

Posted by brettdavey at 9:35 AM EDT
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This story about Tom Scully, former head of Medicare is disturbing and of course, it's garnering little attention. It's just further proof of the media's dereliction of duty. Hey, American people: it's your money! Don't you think your elected officials should know how much this bill was going to cost before voting on it. Anyway, here it is:

The former Medicare chief pressured an agency official to keep secret his high cost estimates for prescription drug coverage for the elderly but did not break the law, government investigators said Tuesday.

The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services HHS) confirmed allegations that former Medicare Administrator Tom Scully, appointed by President Bush, worked to keep the estimate from lawmakers as they considered whether to pass the bill last year.

Scully left the government last year for a private law firm.

Some congressional Democrats called for a congressional probe, saying the report lacked independence and relied on the administration's own legal reasoning.

Months after its enactment, the Medicare bill remains controversial, in part because of the flap over cost estimates. Whether the bill could have passed if conservative Republicans knew that Medicare's chief actuary thought it would cost $534 billion in 10 years -- a third more than congressional budget officials estimated -- is an open question.

The report said Scully, then head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, failed to meet congressional requests for information and threatened his top actuary, Richard Foster, if he did not withhold the estimate. Foster has said he thought he would be fired if he defied Scully.

"Scully warned Foster that he would take disciplinary action if Foster failed to conform," the report said.

The report found Scully acted "within the scope of his authority" and did not violate the law. However, investigators said they would have referred the matter for possible disciplinary action if Scully still worked for the government.

(This is the part that kills me -- blame it on the 'vicious election cycle.') "I am glad my public service, which I thoroughly enjoyed, ended before we got into (the) current, vicious election cycle," Scully e-mailed in response to a request for comment.

Several Democrats said they wanted to know if anyone in the White House had been involved.

"Unfortunately, the chances of the public ever learning the whole story are dim. ... The need for a full congressional investigation is clearer than ever," Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, said in a statement.

Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said Scully's conduct was "inappropriate" even though the probe concluded he did not break the law.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:54 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 7 July 2004
Is Edwards the answer?
Kerry's selection of Edwards is a good one. Either Gephardt or Vilsack would have produced a collective groan from the general populace and wouldn't have done a whole lot for the ticket.

The selection might not swing people to the Dem side, but it might energize people who were going to vote for them anyway. It's sort of like "Fahrenheit 9-11". It's not going to change many minds since the people who are going to see it can't stand Bush anyway.

The GOP had their attack dogs ready, allowing Bush to do what he's always done: sic the attack dogs while not getting his own hands dirty. It's been a trend his whole life, not just in politics. When he's in a jam, someone bails GW out.

I liked the whole "McCain wouldn't be his running mate" stuff. I think Kerry was dead serious about McCain, but in reality, there is no precedent for two politicians so diametrically opposed philosophically joining up on a presidential ticket. And don't forget: McCain said back in the 2000 election that he wouldn't serve with GW either.

I'm intrigued by the debate between Cheney and Edwards. They both have built-in problems that will be highlighted when there on the stage together. Cheney looks like the mean landlord who want to kick the old lady out into the snow; Edwards looks like the eager kid who's there to shovel the snow.

Despite Edwards persona of Mr. Positive, RNC chairman Ed Gillespie tried to paint him as a pessimist hiding behind a Southern drawl and a smile. I'm paraphrasing, but he actually used those words. As a famous former Southerner used to say, "That dog ain't going to hunt."

And what's so optimistic about the Bush-Cheney vision for America? Here is is: slightly lower taxes, a never-ending war, a booming deficit, lower employment levels, and an incredibly secretive government whose motto seems to be 'None of your business.'

The last one has been bothering me a lot lately. It seems Attorney General Ashcroft is less concerned with national security than with covering the Administration's ass. There was an article in the Boston Globe the other day about a woman who is a translator for the government. She basically said there were a lot of missed clues before 9-11 that were ignored. Now, Ashcroft has retroactively classified her testimony. To clarify, her testimony was already part of the public record, but now it's off-limits. And there's nothing in there that anyone could argue is dangerous to the country; they just don't want it out there.

Please get these people out of the White House.

Posted by brettdavey at 10:09 AM EDT
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Sunday, 27 June 2004
Fahrenheit, Army recruiters, and changing the tone
I saw Fahrenheit 9-11 on Friday night. It was, at turns, funny, poignant, and difficult to watch. Some of the war footage was tough to take, as well as the footage of war dead. Also, it was pretty sad to see the family of a dead soldier and servicemen with missing limbs, terrible wounds, and nerve damage that makes even talking a chore.

It's worth seeing.

Bush supporters who remain staunchly behind the President remind me of Texas hold-'em poker players. Basically, they went all-in on a hand they believed was a winner. Now that they see the results, they are trying to bluff their way out of it.

There was a scene in the movie where Marine recruiters go to a rundown mall in Michigan to recruit young men and women into the service. They are incredibly aggressive, literally chasing people around the parking lot. Most are minority and look like they come from tough circumstances.

There's a kid named Sam who I'm friendly with. He's a 19-year old black kid who lives in a housing project in Providence. Army recruiters have been calling him relentlessly because he once indicated interest in the service when he was in high school. By their language, the recruiters have given him the impression that he has no choice but to sign up. I told him otherwise. It shows how desperate the Armed Services are for new recruits.

Nice to see Dick Cheney is part of changing the tone in Washington. Of course, Bush doesn't think he did anything wrong. But of course, this is the super-Christian President who believes God selected him to lead the country at this time in history and who is proud of putting more people to death than anyone in the history of Texas.

Heaven help us.

Posted by brettdavey at 6:42 PM EDT
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Friday, 25 June 2004
Moore vs. Cheney
I'm going to see "Farenheight 9/11" tonight. I know Michael Moore is a pariah to everyone on the right. The level of anger at him from the right is equal to the level of support from the left. Hey, it's a polarized country, baby! Just say to yourself: uniter, not divider.

I saw Moore on the Jon Stewart show last night. He's always been a fat guy but he looked especially huge, to the point where I was actually concerned for him. I mean, the guy looks like a heart attack waiting to happen.

So, here's the question: who will suffer the next heart attack -- Cheney or Moore? You make the call!

Posted by brettdavey at 1:16 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 23 June 2004

The "Nope, we never said it..." rationale offered by the Bush Administration when it comes to the Iraq-9/11 connection is sickening. People like to laugh at Clinton's "depends on what the definition of 'is' is.." but if he ever tap danced as hard as the Bush Administration, he'd be the next Savion Glover.

This letter, from President Bush to the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate, is another example of a sentence worded to make it look like Iraq was an accessory to 9/11. Sad.

March 18, 2003

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.


Posted by brettdavey at 8:57 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 22 June 2004
Repubs gone wild!
No doubt, there are flawed, imperfect people on both sides of the aisle. I guess what gets me is the Republican claims of moral superiority (special shout out to Bill Bennett!)Here are a few examples from today's papers about Republicans acting badly:

1) Actress Jeri Ryan accused ex-husband Jack Ryan of insisting she go to "explicit sex clubs" in New York, New Orleans and Paris during their marriage -- including "a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling." Jack Ryan wanted her to have sex with him while others watched, the star of "Boston Public" alleged. The Republican U.S. Senate candidate dismissed his ex-wife's allegations as "ridiculous accusations" and "smut" that she was dishing out without concern about how it would make their young son "feel about his parents or himself."

2) Gov. John G. Rowland of Connecticut announced this evening that he was resigning from office, six months after questions about his relationships with people doing business with the state prompted an impeachment inquiry and refocused a federal corruption investigation on him. "I acknowledge that my poor judgment has brought us here," Governor Rowland said in a brief address outside the governor's mansion as his wife, Patricia, stood at his side.

3) Former conservative radio talk show host Jon Matthews pleaded guilty today to a charge of indecency with a child in a plea agreement with prosecutors. Matthews, 59, who resigned from his position at Houston's KSEV-AM 700 last year, was to go to trial June 28 but decided to accept the agreement after rejecting it last week, said Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey.

Like I said, I'm always suspicious of people who are so damned moral publicly. (Hi, Rush. Sorry to hear your third marriage fell apart.)

Posted by brettdavey at 9:33 AM EDT
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Monday, 21 June 2004
The death of journalism
The coverage of Ronald Reagan's death may indeed have been the death knell for legitimate journalism. There are a number of factors that have contributed to the decline of journalism -- the 24-hour news channels, the rise of interest groups willing to lie about their opponents, the laziness of reporters -- but the single biggest factor may be the unwillingness of reporters to question a popular concept.

The Iraq war was one case of that. Any reporter who dared to question the rationale for going to war was blasted as unpatriotic or denied access by the Administration. Again, don't underestimate the laziness of today's reporter. There's an old joke that a current headline would probably read: "Politician claims Earth is flat: opponents disagree." That's the case today; almost everything is: he said, she said.

Reagan's death, funeral, and legacy deserved widespread coverage. It also deserved honest coverage. But that's not the way it happened.

One of the best things to come out of rap music is the term "hater." The political equivalant of a "hater" was anyone who dared to say anything negative about Reagan. All you needed was Sean Hannity saying, "Don't be hatin'."

Reagan was not a perfect man, and I'm sure he'd be the first to acknowledge. His first marriage failed, at a time when many outside of Hollywood didn't just casually dump one wife for another. He wasn't a perfect father, as evidenced by the estrangement of two of his children. He wasn't a perfect leader, either, but heaven forbid anyone dare utter even a single negative phrase about it.

Reagan was an important figure at an important time in history. At the time of his death, he should have been analyzed respectfully, but honestly. The fact that so many reporters were afraid to do so does not bode well for the future of journalism.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:27 AM EDT
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