August 17, 2004
6:38 PM CST
Sen. Tom Harkin finally took the gloves off and gave Cheney the sucker punch he roundly deserved: he cited the five deferments old Blood & Guts "GFY" Cheney got during the Vietnam era. He called "GFY" Cheney "Cowardly". And of course, he's correct. It's nice to see someone finally smack the Veep around a bit regarding this whole shameful attack on Kerry's war record. According to the CNN article:
He said Cheney has little standing to question the war record of Kerry, who was repeatedly wounded and decorated while serving as a swift boat commander in Vietnam.
The issue first arose when Harkin joined with Des Moines police officials protesting the call-up of a police officer who already had completed his eight year military commitment.
Harkin said that it angered him to hear tough talk from Cheney.
"When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil," said Harkin.
"He'll be tough, but he'll be tough with someone else's kid's blood," said Harkin.
August 10, 2004
9:16 PM CST
Unfortunately, I've been pulled away from things again the last several days. A fair amount of it was music-related, though, so that's a good thing, I suppose. Since my last entry, it seems a certain Anti-Kerry ad has been stirring some controversy (CBS 4, Denver).
...a wealthy Texan and prolific Republican donor is helping bankroll the anti-Kerry ad campaign. Houston homebuilder Bob J. Perry has donated at least $100,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Perry's other donations in the 2003-04 cycle include $10,000 to the pro-Republican Club for Growth and at least $19,250 to federal candidates and party committees, including $2,000 to Bush's re-election effort.
The group that has paid for this ad is a "527 group" called "Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth" (SBVT). Just today, three campaign finance watchdog groups filed suit against them, arguing that they were PACs instead of 527s. If true, $135,000 of its fundraising would be deemed illegal.
But what's the real story behind this? I think Gary Jacobson might have hit the nail on the head with his commentary in The Washington Dispatch. Evidently this goes back some 33 years, at least:
This bitter old fight still rages in the dirty tricks squad orchestrated three decades ago by a deceitful shill, John O’Neill, a man who didn’t even meet Kerry until 1971. He was recruited by “Watergate plumber-burglar,” Chuck Colson, to augment Nixon’s call to wage a counter-attack on anti-war groups like John Kerry’s Vietnam Veterans Against the War. O’Neill first took on Kerry in a debate on the Dick Cavett show in 1971, and has been feuding ever since with unfounded shots across Kerry’s bow to sink whatever ship he might be on, whether running for Congress, or President of the United States. That his ship hasn’t sunk yet is a testament to Kerry’s integrity and longstanding truth.
As Jacobson points out, some of the "Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth" saw things a bit differently decades ago:
Lt. Commander Grant Hibbard: was only Kerry’s commander for two weeks, and stated he could not evaluate him properly, but noted for the record that Kerry's initiative, cooperation, and bearing ranked among the top few.
Captain Allen W. Slifer: evaluation, October 19, 1967,"A top notch officer in every measurable trait. Intelligent, mature, and rich in educational background and experience, ENS Kerry is one of the finest young officers I have ever met and without question one of the most promising."
Admiral Walter F. Schlech - March 2, 1970: “one of the finest young officers with whom I have served in a long naval career."
Captain E.W. Harper, Jr - evaluation September 3, 1968, "LTJG KERRY is an intelligent and competent young naval officer who has performed his duties in an excellent to outstanding manner."
Interesting. Why, they sound like...FLIP-FLOPPERS!!!
August 4, 2004
11:02 PM CST
Like many, I find "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" to be more useful than most "real" TV news shows. You may recall that not long ago there was a bit of a flap over local campaign officials requiring that voters sign a Bush endorsement before getting passes to a rally? Tonight's "Moment of Zen" was a copy of the Loyalty Oath form Republicans were using to screen the audience for Dick "GFY" Cheney's campaign rally in Rio Rancho, NM late last month. It included this lovely little gem:
"I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States."
George W. Bush is herby declared "The Educashun Prezident". Well, at least they spelled his name correctly. But what the hell does "for reelection of the United States" mean???
August 4, 2004
6:02 PM CST
Today's entry could open with the same three words as yesterday's: "Yep, it stinks."
A "must read": still more details are emerging about the use of U.S. vs. Iraqi funds that I wrote about briefly on 7/16. The short story: $1.9 billion worth of Iraqi funds went to U.S. contractors, with the lion's share of that ($1.66B) going to Halliburton subsidiary KBR under a no-bid contract. Halliburton...Halliburton...where have I heard of that company before? Oh yeah, they're the ones who were just fined $7.5 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission for illegally using creative accounting in 1998. Seems the CEO then was a guy named Cheney. Dick Cheney. Wait, isn't he the Vice President? With an emphasis on "Vice"?
Oh well, at least Halliburton and their KBR subsidiary have enough of Iraq's money to cover it. From the Washington Post/MSNBC article:
But why would the CPA do that, one wonders?
For the first 14 months of the occupation, officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority provided little detailed information about the Iraqi money, from oil sales and other sources, that it spent on reconstruction contracts. They have said it was used for the benefit of the Iraqi people and that most of the contracts paid from Iraqi money went to Iraqi companies. But the CPA never released information about specific contracts and the identities of companies that won them, citing security concerns, so it has been impossible to know whether these promises were kept.
...Analysis and several audit reports released in recent weeks shed new light on how the occupation authority handled the Iraqi money it controlled. They show that the CPA at times violated its own rules, authorizing Iraqi money when it didn't have a quorum or proper Iraqi representation at meetings, and kept such sloppy records that the paperwork for several major contracts could not be found. During the first half of the occupation, the CPA depended heavily on no-bid contracts that were questioned by auditors. And the occupation's shifting of projects that were publicly announced to be financed by U.S. money to Iraqi money prompted the Iraqi finance minister to complain that the "ad hoc" process put the CPA in danger of losing the trust of the people.
Most of the money is for two controversial deals that originally had been financed with money approved by the U.S. Congress, but later shifted to Iraqi funds that were governed by fewer restrictions and less rigorous oversight.
There it is again, the Bush Administration's love of doing things in a way that avoids any kind of oversight. And Cheney's favorite charity (Halliburton) wasn't the only company chowing down Iraqi money at the all-you-can-eat piggy trough:
Harris Corp., a Melbourne, Fla., company, got $48 million from the Iraqi oil funds to manage and update the formerly state-owned media network, taking over from Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego. The new television and radio services and newspaper have been widely criticized as mouthpieces for the occupation and symbols of the failures of the reconstruction effort. When it was being financed with U.S.-appropriated funds, the contract drew scrutiny because of questionable expenses, including chartering a jet to fly in a Hummer H2 and a Ford pickup truck for the program manager's use.
Damn, using a chartered jet to fly a Hummer H2 over to Iraq so some idiot would have a nice ride? I'll bet that was done for security purposes as well. Since the program manager could only be in one vehicle at a time, perhaps they needed the Hummer to tow the Ford so they had a spare vehicle in case they got a flat tire or ran out of gas (which is easy to do in an H2). At least that was U.S. money, and I'm sure Congress is very proud they funded Operation HummerLift.
Anyway, there are many, many more interesting items in this article. It's just that I'm tired of quoting them at the moment. Read the whole (somewhat lengthy) article and see for yourself all the "humanitarian" goodwill we've been racking up with the Iraqi people. In my opinion, all of the things I didn't quote are as sickening as the things I quoted.
August 3, 2004
11:42 PM CST
Yep, it stinks. Regarding the "orange" terror alert that many are suspecting came suspiciously close to the heels of the Demo Convention, it seems the information is old. But just as telling:
Mr Ridge rejected suggestions that the high alert was politically motivated. "We don't do politics in the department of homeland security," he said.
Oh, really? From the transcript of his actual declaration of CODE YELLOW (note--I misquoted this yesterday from memory; here's the correct quote):
Yes, it is, in that we're to believe you just got your hands on something you should have had a long time ago. And it sounds like an election-year plug to me, "doing politics" wrapped in the cloak of 9/ll just to juice some polls. Wolf.
But we must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the President’s leadership in the war against terror.
August 2, 2004
11:35 PM CST
The 372nd MP Company Unit is home. About 100 members of the Military Police reserve unit, which found itself in the middle of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, arrived on U.S. soil today. Welcome home, scapegoats. Five soldiers remain in Baghdad to face criminal charges, Pfc. Lynndie England is being held in Fort Bragg, and Spec. Jeremy Sivits has already been convicted. What do you want to bet that these seven take nearly all the blame, the other 100-ish are tarnished in one way or another for life, and the REAL criminals go largely untouched (forced retirement at the worst, re-election at the best?)
Meanwhile, here we go again: "orange alert" this time, seemingly timed for political gain. At least they sound more specific this go around, but Director of Homeland Security Ridge included a Bush re-election plug while outlining the threat. "C'mon, folks, this time we aren't foolin', you can believe us. WOLF!!!!!!" All of this seemingly comes from two arrests in Pakistan. It seems to me that Ridge would have left out the "capable leadership of President Bush" part of the dire statement if it were totally on the up-and-up.
And that whole "wolf" thing might not be the only angle to this. Isn't it possible that this computer (I'm picturing a laptop, though I may be wrong) loaded up with all this supposedly incredible info winds up in our hands ON PURPOSE? I mean, think about it, how many millions of dollars in both the financial sector and government will be spent on increased security? With possible Wall Street jitters added in besides? If economic disruption is a goal of our enemies, wouldn't it make sense to expend a little bit of energy coming up with some "recon" info for a few high-profile targets and load it up on a laptop that somehow falls into the wrong hands?
I wouldn't have been thinking along these lines if I hadn't seen Ridge with my own eyes giving the Bush plug. But then, isn't that what 3,000 deaths have been turned into by Team Bush? A big re-election plug?
It didn't have to be this way. BushCo could have reacted honestly, with virtually the whole world at our side, to confront this VERY REAL threat. Instead, we're bogged down in Iraq, virtually alone, and looking at a world where EVERYTHING is coming through the prism of Re-Election '04. If Bush REALLY cared about this country, he would have taken a different approach on 9/11/01 and in the days immediately following. What he should have said was this:
"You know what? I don't care if I get a second term or not. Because all I care about is this country and our friends around the world and our well-being. I'm going to devote the remainder of this term to working towards making certain this never happens again. Not on my watch, not on the next President's watch, not fifty years from now, and not two hundred years from now.
"Some of the things that will need to be done will be unpopular, so I'm not going to work under the assumption that I'll be granted a second term. But my administration will do whatever is needed to make America and the world safer. And we will be both honest and diligent. Because this is too important of an issue to risk global safety for something as insignificant as a second term for me."
Unfortunately, Bush took the opposite approach. Too bad for him, because I bet he'd have a 70% approval rating right now if he'd uttered something along those lines AND followed through with it faithfully...