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Posts tagged ‘George W. Bush’

THE GREAT AMERICAN PROMISE

By John Tully

Jul 4 2002

Americans are a good people and America is truly a great country. We are a tribe; like it or not. Los Angeles International Airport was the scene of a three-person murder this morning; the suspect and his two victims. Apparently fellow travellers stepped in to help stop the suspect before a security guard shot him dead. Twenty miles away in San Dimas California a small plane crashed into a picnic site at a local lake. Nearby Fourth Of July celebrants rushed over to help lift one of the plane’s s smoking wings and free a small child.

Firefighters and ordinary people in Arizona and Colorado have been battling massive wildfires in thier backyard this week. Drink a cup of coffee and read the paper on this day that we celebrate America’s independence.

There is another story about some shady business transactions from our top leader that are similar to the criminal acts of Enron and Arthur Andersen. The real story may be the lack of surprise by the American people to this newest revelation. Thirty years of American leaders lying cheating and stealing from the American public produced this heavy cynicism. Hundeds of thousands of people have lost their life savings and their jobs this year due to fraud from business leaders possibly helped by political leaders. Big business has always held a certain special place in American society. However, with the stock markets crashing, huge companies failing and the prospects that more will bust soon, confidence is low.

Will this nation’s leaders show leadership, step in and step up to the corruption in business and politics pulling the country away from this fire? The citizens of Colorado, Arizona and California have all shown this week that they are ready to help. The rest of the tribe must speak up.

©2002 New York Herald Sun

On The Death of Bin Laden

On The Death of Bin Laden
by John Tully

Now I lay me down to sleep while people cheer in the streets like creeps

Of course I love and respect our troops but wonder why they get treated like poop

Having to buy body armor-on their fifth deployment, while people fetishize them- a video game for their enjoyment

All those dead Americans-Iraqis and Afghans too, will the War on Terror ever be through

Ten years gone by-trillions of dollars spent, while ordinary Americans can’t even pay their rent

All this vengeance and all this hate, what have we accomplished, what is our fate?

Don’t feel any safer, we worry more than ever, while the politicians posture and try to be clever

The rest of the World wonders just what to say and thinks to themselves how our country lost it’s way

But I’m a true Patriot and so I ask questions, our Founders would demand this, that we learn our lessons

JT

New Leaked Report About Iraq War Shows 15,000 More Civilian Deaths ~ That's About Five 9/11's ~ Good On Us!!

GUARDIAN UK

Iraq war logs: secret files show how US ignored torture

• Massive leak reveals serial detainee abuse
• 15,000 unknown civilian deaths in war
Full coverage of the Iraq war logs

A grim picture of the US and Britain’s legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.

Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.

The new logs detail how:

• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.

• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee’s apparent death.

As recently as December the Americans were passed a video apparently showing Iraqi army officers executing a prisoner in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. The log states: “The footage shows approximately 12 Iraqi army soldiers. Ten IA soldiers were talking to one another while two soldiers held the detainee. The detainee had his hands bound … The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him.” Read more

From One Politico to Another

Caroline Palmer

Broadcasting and Cable

February 15, 2007

Mike Allen, chief political correspondent for Politico.com, the new online/print publication from TV station/cable news channel owner Allbritton, got a plug from an affable President George W. Bush.

In the President’s press conference Wednesday, he stopped Allen, former Time magazine White House correspondent, in mid train of thought to train a spotlight on his new digs.

Following is the transcript from of the exchange.

THe PRESIDENT: Michael. Michael, who do you work for? (Laughter.)

Q Mr. President, I work for Politico.com.

THE PRESIDENT: Pardon me? Politico.com?

Q Yes, sir. Today. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: You want a moment to explain to the American people exactly what — (laughter.)

Q Mr. President, thank you for the question. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Quit being so evasive.

Q You should read it.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it good? You like it?

Q David Gregory —

THE PRESIDENT: David Gregory likes it. I can see the making of a testimonial. (Laughter.) Anyway, go ahead, please.

Not surprisingly, the Web site did indeed turn the shout-out into a plug, running the video on its home page.

Nothing Sucks Worse Than The Post Office — Except for Kinko's

NATE SILVER IN FIVE THIRTY-EIGHT

Paul Krguman compares his experience at the Post Office to that at FedEx and UPS:

Art Laffer (why is he, of all people, on my TV?) asks what it will be like when the government runs Medicare and Medicaid.

But I’d raise a further question: he warns that when the government takes over these, um, government programs, they’ll be like the Post Office and the DMV. Why, exactly, are these public functions unquestioned bywords for “something bad”?

Maybe I’m living a sheltered life here in central New Jersey, but I don’t find the Post Office a terrible experience — no worse than Fedex or UPS. (Full disclosure: I worked as a temp mailman when in college.) And nobody likes going to the DMV, but the one on Rt. 1 I go to always seems fairly well managed.

Maybe things are different in New Jersey, but my couple of experiences at the Post Office since moving to Brooklyn a few months ago have been really awful. The first time I went, to mail out my tax forms on April 15th, I had to stand in line for the better part of 20 minutes to buy a couple of stamps. The second time, when I had to mail out some forms for a passport renewal, the clerk “serving” me decided literally without warning or apology half-way through processing my forms that it was time for her break; it took a good 15 minutes, with most of my personal documents slid conspicuously under her window, before someone came to relieve her. The third time, when I had to send some corporate documents to Albany for my consulting business, things were going smoothly enough — until I actually had to fill out the shipping receipt, and discovered that there were literally no working pens available in the entire building. I had to go across the street and buy one.

There’s probably only one customer service experience that is routinely as bad as the Post Office: FedEx Kinko’s.

The last time I went to FedEx Kinko’s, the black & white printer was broken, the fax machine was broken, and the “high-speed” Internet connection — which I was being charged for by the minute — was about as fast as a dial-up line in Ulan Bator. And then I had to stand in line for 15 minutes to pay an arm and a leg for the privilege of having my time wasted. The clerks at the Court Street Kinko’s are actually quite sweet — but the location is chronically understaffed and undermaintained on one of the busier commercial thoroughfares in the Five Boroughs. There are also the simple things that FedEx Kinko’s doesn’t get right: why do I have to fill out shipping forms by hand — invariably transposing the ZIP+4 or something and having to start over again — instead of by computer, when the clerk has to key in everything I’ve written down anyway? This is the nineties 21st Century, damnit. FedEx does an admirable job of delivering packages — but the retail experience is a real black eye for the company.

And apparently, I’m not alone in these experiences. Yelp.com has compiled 237 ratings for a total of 67 distinct USPS locations throughout the New York City area. The average rating, on a scale of 1 to 5, is a 2.29. As Yelp raters tend to be fairly generous with most things, this is really bad. But the ratings for FedEx Kinko’s are even worse: an average rating of 2.07 (n=78). The UPS Store, at least, gets somewhat more decent marks (an avergae rating of 2.70), which matches my experiences, although UPS has a somewhat hipper brand and Yelp is notorious for having a pro-hipster bias.

All kidding aside, I do think the Post Office creates some small, residual level of disdain for the idea of government-run services. The level of funding seems manifestly suboptimal and probably ought to be increased. But if every private-sector business were run as badly as FedEx Kinko’s, we’d all be frickin’ Communists in no time.

FreedomWorks President Admits it Urges People to be "Agressive" at Health Care Town Halls

Republicans Propagating Falsehoods in Attacks on Health-Care Reform

WASHINGTON POST

doughy pantload

By Steven Pearlstein
Friday, August 7, 2009

As a columnist who regularly dishes out sharp criticism, I try not to question the motives of people with whom I don’t agree. Today, I’m going to step over that line.

The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they’ve given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They’ve become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.

There are lots of valid criticisms that can be made against the health reform plans moving through Congress — I’ve made a few myself. But there is no credible way to look at what has been proposed by the president or any congressional committee and conclude that these will result in a government takeover of the health-care system. That is a flat-out lie whose only purpose is to scare the public and stop political conversation.

Under any plan likely to emerge from Congress, the vast majority of Americans who are not old or poor will continue to buy health insurance from private companies, continue to get their health care from doctors in private practice and continue to be treated at privately owned hospitals.

The centerpiece of all the plans is a new health insurance exchange set up by the government where individuals, small businesses and eventually larger businesses will be able to purchase insurance from private insurers at lower rates than are now generally available under rules that require insurers to offer coverage to anyone regardless of health condition. Low-income workers buying insurance through the exchange — along with their employers — would be eligible for government subsidies. While the government will take a more active role in regulating the insurance market and increase its spending for health care, that hardly amounts to the kind of government-run system that critics conjure up when they trot out that oh-so-clever line about the Department of Motor Vehicles being in charge of your colonoscopy.

There is still a vigorous debate as to whether one of the insurance options offered through those exchanges would be a government-run insurance company of some sort. There are now less-than-even odds that such a public option will survive in the Senate, while even House leaders have agreed that the public plan won’t be able to piggy-back on Medicare. So the probability that a public-run insurance plan is about to drive every private insurer out of business — the Republican nightmare scenario — is approximately zero.

By now, you’ve probably also heard that health reform will cost taxpayers at least a trillion dollars. Another lie.

First of all, that’s not a trillion every year, as most people assume — it’s a trillion over 10 years, which is the silly way that people in Washington talk about federal budgets. On an annual basis, that translates to about $140 billion, when things are up and running.

Even that, however, grossly overstates the net cost to the government of providing universal coverage. Other parts of the reform plan would result in offsetting savings for Medicare: reductions in unnecessary subsidies to private insurers, in annual increases in payments rates for doctors and in payments to hospitals for providing free care to the uninsured. The net increase in government spending for health care would likely be about $100 billion a year, a one-time increase equal to less than 1 percent of a national income that grows at an average rate of 2.5 percent every year.

The Republican lies about the economics of health reform are also heavily laced with hypocrisy.

While holding themselves out as paragons of fiscal rectitude, Republicans grandstand against just about every idea to reduce the amount of health care people consume or the prices paid to health-care providers — the only two ways I can think of to credibly bring health spending under control.

When Democrats, for example, propose to fund research to give doctors, patients and health plans better information on what works and what doesn’t, Republicans sense a sinister plot to have the government decide what treatments you will get. By the same wacko-logic, a proposal that Medicare pay for counseling on end-of-life care is transformed into a secret plan for mass euthanasia of the elderly.

Government negotiation on drug prices? The end of medical innovation as we know it, according to the GOP’s Dr. No. Reduce Medicare payments to overpriced specialists and inefficient hospitals? The first step on the slippery slope toward rationing.

Can there be anyone more two-faced than the Republican leaders who in one breath rail against the evils of government-run health care and in another propose a government-subsidized high-risk pool for people with chronic illness, government-subsidized community health centers for the uninsured, and opening up Medicare to people at age 55?

Health reform is a test of whether this country can function once again as a civil society — whether we can trust ourselves to embrace the big, important changes that require everyone to give up something in order to make everyone better off. Republican leaders are eager to see us fail that test. We need to show them that no matter how many lies they tell or how many scare tactics they concoct, Americans will come together and get this done.

If health reform is to be anyone’s Waterloo, let it be theirs.

Steven Pearlstein can be reached at pearlsteins@washpost.com.

We are the most powerful nation in the world. There is no excuse, only corruption.

We are the most powerful nation in the world. There is no excuse, only corruption.

Bill Maher | May 15, 2009 | Elizabeth Warren

Bill Maher | May 15, 2009 | Elizabeth Warren

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Bob Somerby on Maddow, Dowd, Matthews and Mission Accomplished

THE DAILY HOWLER

LIKE DOWD ON RICE: Good God. The history of an age could be found in Greg Mitchell’s post last Friday. Or could it?

inaug3

On the sixth anniversary of “Mission Accomplished,” Mitchell recalled the way big pundits recorded Commander Bush’s splashdown on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. The commander strutted about in his flight suit, producing some of the most god-awful “commentary” in the history of pseudo-journalism. We all recall the lunacy of Chris Matthews and Gordon Liddy, gaping at the commander’s manly assets on Hardball (text below). But thanks to Mitchell’s review, we could also recall what Maureen Dowd wrote, some four days earlier. Take the children—and the pets—to some distant chamber:

DOWD (5/4/03):The tail hook caught the last cable, jerking the fighter jet from 150 m.p.h. to zero in two seconds.

Out bounded the cocky, rule-breaking, daredevil flyboy, a man navigating the Highway to the Danger Zone, out along the edges where he was born to be, the further on the edge, the hotter the intensity.

He flashed that famous all-American grin as he swaggered around the deck of the aircraft carrier in his olive flight suit, ejection harness between his legs, helmet tucked under his arm, awestruck crew crowding around. Maverick was back, cooler and hotter than ever, throttling to the max with joystick politics.

Compared to Karl Rove’s ”revvin’ up your engine” myth-making cinematic style, Jerry Bruckheimer’s movies look like Lizzie McGuire.

This time Maverick didn’t just nail a few bogeys and do a 4G inverted dive with a MiG-28 at a range of two meters. This time the Top Gun wasted a couple of nasty regimes, and promised this was just the beginning.

Yes, that sounds like crazy stuff. But uh-oh! Missing from Mitchell’s post was a bit of elementary fairness. In her column, Dowd was actually mocking Bush for his manly, cock-of-the-walk presentation (to read the whole column, click here). Her attack on Bush begins at the point in the column where Mitchell stops quoting. Soon, she has an alter ego saying this to Bush:

DOWD: You can fly, Maverick. But you, Cheney and Rummy are strutting around on a victory tour when you haven’t found Osama or Saddam or WMD; you haven’t figured out how you’re going to stop tribal warfare and religious fanaticism and dangerous skirmishes with our soldiers; you don’t yet know how to put Afghanistan and Iraq back together so that a lot of people over there don’t hate us. And why can’t you stop saying that getting rid of Saddam removed “an ally” of Al Qaeda and was payback for 9/11? You know we just needed to jump somebody in that part of the world.

In fairness, that was salient stuff. Dowd had her Bush figure respond this way, using the kind of Dems-are-fems lingo she herself practically invented: “Hey, Miss Iceman, why don’t you head to the Ladies Room? John Kerry and John Edwards are already there, fixin’ their hair all pretty-like. Howard Dean’s with ’em, trying on a dress, and Kucinich is hemming it for him.”

We’d have to say that Mitchell’s quotation of Dowd was a bit unfair. But then, bungled quotation—and tortured paraphrase—are key parts of the modern landscape. If you could wave a magic wand and remove Bad Paraphrase from Campaign 2000, for example, there’s no way Bush could have reached the White House. The history of our modern politics is a history of this technique.

We humans love tendentious paraphrase! We see this again in Dowd’s new column, a column in which she actually gets something semi-right about Condi Rice. Dowd uses a tortured semi-paraphrase first—but lurking inside her central passage, Dowd does say something that’s basically accurate.

Even Dowd sees the basic framework here! Why can’t our progressive TV hosts?

Dowd is discussing the questions Rice took from some Stanford students last week. Before we get to her central passage, let’s enjoy a good solid laugh as she sets the scene:

DOWD (5/3/09): Condi Rice, who plans to go back to being a professor of political science at Stanford, got grilled by a student at a reception at a dorm there on Monday.

I’ve often wondered why students haven’t been more vocal in questioning the architects of the Iraq war and ”legal” torture who landed plum spots at prestigious universities. Probably because it would have taken the draft, like the guillotine, to concentrate the mind. But finally, the young man at Stanford spoke up. Saying he had read that Ms. Rice authorized waterboarding, he asked her, ”Is waterboarding torture?”

Too funny! Dowd often wonders why college students don’t question these people more! That’s odd! We’ve often wondered the same darn thing about our multimillionaire journalists! (And their young, millionaire-track colleagues.) Appropriate guffaws to the side, Dowd continues with her tale. In our view, she essentially misparaphrases Rice in the passage we highlight. But she makes a sound point in the process:

DOWD (continuing directly): She replied: ”The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations, under the Convention Against Torture. So that’s—and by the way, I didn’t authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency.”

This was precisely Condi’s problem. She simply relayed. She never stood up against Cheney and Rummy for either what was morally right or what was smart in terms of our national security.

The student pressed again about whether waterboarding was torture.

”By definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture,” Ms. Rice said, almost quoting Nixon’s logic: ”When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

She also stressed that, ”Unless you were there in a position of responsibility after Sept. 11, you cannot possibly imagine the dilemmas that you faced in trying to protect Americans.”

Reyna Garcia, a Stanford sophomore who videotaped the exchange, said of Condi’s aria, ”I wasn’t completely satisfied with her answers, to be honest,” adding that ”President Obama went ahead and called it torture and she did everything she could not to do that.”

In fairness, no—Rice really didn’t “almost quot[e] Nixon’s logic.” (Please note the slick use of “almost.”) She really didn’t say what Nixon is said to have said: If the president orders it, that makes it legal. But by the time Dowd typed her column, everyone else had enjoyed some good fun with this rather tendentious claim. So Dowd went ahead and typed it too—hiding behind her “almost.”

No, Candidate Gore didn’t say that he invented the Internet (the most consequential mis-paraphrase in American history). Candidate McCain didn’t say he wanted a hundred-year war (the press corps dropped that one quickly). And no: Condi Rice didn’t really say that if the president orders X, that means that X is legal. But in the midst of her fumbling fun, Dowd raised a very good point in this passage, which we quote again:

DOWD: This was precisely Condi’s problem. She simply relayed. She never stood up against Cheney and Rummy for either what was morally right or what was smart in terms of our national security.

Rice may not have made the decisions, Dowd said. But she didn’t push back either.

Dowd raises an excellent point in that passage, though her history may be imperfect. In this morning’s Times, Mark Mazzetti offers a history of the torture/enhanced techniques regime (just click here). Among other things, he attempts to report what Rice actually did about this regime at various junctures. His reporting could be wrong, of course. But in Mazzetti’s account, Rice offered “strong support” for the torture/enhanced techniques program at least until May 2004, when a critical internal report began to raise essential questions. He describes her pushing back against Cheney on several points during Bush’s second term, even winning at least one fight. (At other times, she accepts Cheney’s wins.) You can read Mazzetti’s full report for yourself. But his account of Rice’s conduct isn’t quite as one-sided as Dowd’s.

That said, Dowd raised an excellent point: By normal standards, serious questions should be asked about the role officials like Rice played in Bush’s regime. What role did she play in the move to war? What role did she play in the creation of the torture regime? Even Dowd understands that this is a basic, essential framework. That’s why we remind you again of the work which occurred when Rice’s number-one man, Philip Zelikow, appeared on our most liberal TV show.

Appearing on the Rachel Maddow Show, Zelikow was allowed to skate. No questions were asked about any of this—and the same policy obtained two nights later, when Colin Powell’s top aide appeared (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/27/09). But then, when Powell himself appeared on this show, he wasn’t asked the world’s most obvious question. Was water-boarding discussed in your presence? The question was screaming out to be asked. But your new imaginary best friend completely forgot to ask it.

Citizens need to lobby their journalists! More specifically, progressives need to tell people like Maddow that they expect her to ask these questions. That they expect her to challenge these public figures. That they want her to stop kissing up to every big star who drifts by.

Progressives need to lobby that way. Unless this nightly “journalism” is really just a social event, a way to define our glorious clan. A way to feel good for an hour each night. A way to feel good—and superior.

Even Dowd can see the shape of this problem! Why on earth does our new best friend keep giving big Bush aides a pass?

Yes, they actually said it: We think Mitchell’s quote is unfair to Dowd. But here’s what Liddy and Matthews said—and yes, the boys really meant it! In his opening question, Matthews refers to Democratic criticisms of Bush’s glorious splashdown:

MATTHEWS (5/8/03): Gordon, my buddy, thanks for joining us. I’m now giving you a shooting gallery of opportunity here.

LIDDY: Yes, you are.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of this broadside against the USS Abraham Lincoln and its chief visitor last week?

LIDDY: Well, I—in the first place, I think it’s envy. I mean, after all, Al Gore had to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man.

And here comes George Bush. You know, he’s in his flight suit, he’s striding across the deck, and he’s wearing his parachute harness, you know—and I’ve worn those because I parachute—and it makes the best of his manly characteristic.

You go run those—run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman’s vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn’t count—they’re all liars. Check that out!

Please note: Four years later, Liddy went straight to the smutty sexual trashing dished to Gore and Naomi Wolf—a sexual trashing which was thoroughly accepted by the “career liberal” world in real time. And make no mistake—Matthews took Liddy’s side on this program, ridiculing the silly folk who had been criticizing Bush’s splashdown. In fairness, that would have included Dowd, in her earlier column. Matthews thought they were all nuts:

MATTHEWS: And I’ve got to say why do the Democrats, as you say, want to keep advertising this guy’s greatest moment?

LIDDY: Look, he’s, he’s coming across as a—well, as women would call in on my show saying, what a stud, you know, and then guy—they’re seeing him out there with his flight suit, and he’s—and they know he’s an F-105 fighter jock. I mean it’s just great.

MATTHEWS: Let’s let him talk for himself. Here’s President Bush expressing his confidence that he did the right thing…

The boys were full of admiration for Bush’s manly splashdown. Of course, Matthews had always swum in this sea. Searching today on “Hardball and Bush and manly,” we hit this earlier bit of misery, from Campaign 2000. At this time, Hardball was soliciting and airing comments from insightful viewers:

MATTHEWS (4/27/00): Our second caller says that Al Gore and George W. Bush are both attractive candidates, but in very different ways.

CALLER: I really can’t believe that Chris Matthews thinks that Al Gore is the more attractive of the two presidential candidates. Al Gore is attractive in a sort of limp-wrist sort of way. However, George Bush is attractive in a manly sort of way.

MATTHEWS: Well, Susan, as I said last night, I’ve been polling women, by the way, on this subject, because I don’t know what—have any idea what the right answer is, which of these two bucks women find most appealing or least appealing. I’ll remember to include, however, your comments in my current tally. And if you want to play Hardball yourself, just call us at 202-824-6799, or e-mail us at hardball@msnbc.com.

Each candidate was attractive—Gore in a limp-wrist sort of way, Bush in a manly manner.

Of all the comments he had received, Matthews chose to read just two on the air. This was one of the comments he chose. Five months before, in November 1999, he had played an aggressive, leading role in the sexual trashing of Wolf and Gore.

Career liberals cowered and stared at all this. They still don’t discuss it, to this very day. Olbermann licks Matthews’ keister on air. Bush ended up you-know-where.

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