January 2004 Archive
January 31, 2004
White House (Bush) Stonewalls 9/11 Commission
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the "9/11 Commission"), is an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation (House vote 366-3, Senate voice vote) and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002. The Commission is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks.
The 10-person commission is made up of five Republicans and five Democrats. The chairman was appointed by the Bush administration and the vice chairman chosen by Democrats. Initially, Bush appointed Henry Kissinger to chair the Commission; however, Kissinger resigned within days because of concerns with possible conflicts of interest. Bush replaced Kissinger with the former governor of New Jersey, Thomas Kean, a Republican.
The law creating the Commission required the investigation to begin quickly and produce a final report not later than 18 months after its inception, May 27, 2004. This deadline was a concession to the White House, which wanted a final report well before the 2004 presidential election.
The Commissionís work got off to a slow start. First there was the unexpected problem with the chair. However, most of their work has been frustrated by the Bush administrationís tactics toward the work of the Commission (Bush initially opposed the creation of the Commission but changed his position in the face of its broad, bi-partisan support).
Next, the Administration opposed a request from Governor Kean to increase the original $3 million funding by $11 million (Commissioner Tim Roemer drew comparisons with the $50 million provided to investigate the Columbia shuttle tragedy in which seven people died. "If we're looking at well over $11 million for that, we certainly should be looking for at least the same vicinity of money for how 3,000 people died and how to strengthen our homeland security," he said.)
More importantly, Bush and his staff have put roadblock after roadblock in the way of the Commissionís access to key documents and key people in the administration (all members of the commission have been cleared by the government for the highest security classification). As recently as this week, the White House was still withholding its approval for full Commission access to the Presidentís Daily Briefings for the months before 9/11 (these are the documents which are reported to have warned of a terrorist attack using airplanes).
A senior aide to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice insisted that "Dr. Rice and the White House continue to work amiably with the commission, consistent with the President's desire to make staff available in accordance with his ability to fight the war on terrorism."
Kristen Breitweiser, widow of World Trade Center victim Ronald Breitweiser and a member of a group of victims' families who monitor the Commission's work, called the White House position "unacceptable." She said the panel should subpoena the documents it needs. "The White House needs to stop being all talk and no action," Breitweiser said. "They say they're cooperating. It's time to show that."
"As a Republican, I can't for the life of me understand why this administration is so negative on this commission," said Commissioner John Lehman, Navy chief under President Ronald Reagan.
In May of 2003, Kean was still hopeful that the Commission could meet its deadline. "We're going to work with this deadline in mind." Kean said that, even though the panel had lost "considerable time," he adamantly opposed seeking an extension ó unless "we simply couldn't do our job" without one. "My belief is that we will not be doing that.... It's not going to be easy and we're going to be under the gun, but I think we can do it." He added that a "two or three months' delay would put us right in the middle of the election season, and that's not when we want to report."
However, this week, with four months remaining before the May 27 deadline, the Commission (apparently without dissent) decided to ask for an extension. "We are telling the Congress and the president what we need to do the best possible job," said Chairman Kean, in announcing the panel's decision to seek an extension of at least two months. "Much work remains, and some hard work in finalizing our report."
An extension of the commission's deadline would need to be approved in Congress in the next few weeks, and the Senate authors of the bill that created the panel last year, John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, have already said that they are willing to try to shepherd an extension bill through Congress, although both have said they expect a fight with Republican Congressional leaders. "I fully support an extension to ensure that the commission's work is not compromised by the Bush administration's delaying tactics, secrecy and stonewalling," Mr. Lieberman said Tuesday from New Hampshire, where he was campaigning in that day's Democratic presidential primary. "Clearly the president is not interested in a complete and thorough investigation."
Prospects for legislation to extend the deadline were uncertain. The White House, which in previous statements had suggested that it strongly opposed an extension, said Tuesday that the final decision would be left to Congress. Newsweek reported that White House aides floated the idea of a possible trade: The Commission could have its extension if it would promise to delay release of the report until after the November election.
"Bush doesnít want his re-election subject to any informed judgment about the disaster that reshaped the nation and his Presidency. But why should such crucial facts be withheld from the voters? What does the President fear?" - author Joe Conason
January 30, 2004
The following are excerpts from the October 11, 2000 Presidential Debate between Bush and Gore, moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS:
BUSH: I am worried about over-committing our military around the world. I want to be judicious in its use. You mentioned Haiti. I wouldn't have sent troops to Haiti. I didn't think it was a mission worthwhile. It was a nation-building mission. And it was not very successful. It cost us billions -- a couple of billions of dollars and I'm not so sure democracy's any better off in Haiti than it was before.
LEHRER: Some people are now suggesting that if you don't want to use the military to maintain the peace, to do the civil thing, it's it time to consider a civil force of some kind that comes in after the military that builds nations or all of that? Is that on your radar screen?
BUSH: I don't think so. I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm missing something here. I mean we're going to have kind of a nation-building corps from America? Absolutely not. Our military is meant to fight and win war. That's what it's meant to do and when it gets overextended, morale drops. Well, listen I strongly believe we need to have a military presence in the Korean peninsula not only to keep the peace in the peninsula but to keep regional stability. And I strongly believe we need to keep a presence in NATO. But I'm going to be judicious as to how to use the military. It needs to be in our vital interest. The mission needs to be clear and the exit strategy obvious.
BUSH: I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be. We can help. And maybe it's just our difference in government, the way we view government. I mean, I want to empower people. I want to help people help themselves, not have government tell people what to do. I just don't think it's the role of the United States to walk into a country and say, we do it this way, so should you. I think we can help. And I know we got to encourage democracy in the marketplaces.
I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying, we do it this way, so should you. Now, we trust freedom. We know freedom is a powerful, powerful, powerful force, much bigger than the United States of America, as we saw recently in the Balkans. But, maybe I misunderstand where you're coming from, Mr. Vice President, but I think the United States must be humble and must be proud and confident of our values, but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course.
I'm also on record as saying, at some point in time, I hope our European friends become the peacekeepers in Bosnia and in the Balkans. I hope that they put the troops on the ground so that we can withdraw our troops and focus our military on fighting and winning war.
No further editorial comment needed.
January 29, 2004
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Senator Joseph I. Lieberman vowed Tuesday night to go forward with his presidential campaign, putting the best possible light on an apparent fifth place finish in New Hampshire, telling supporters that "we are in a three-way split decision for third place." Lieberman supporters in the room reacted exuberantly to Liebermanís promise and the news that, because of a scheduling conflict for actor Hugh Grant, Lieberman would be starring in a new musical comedy opposite Meg Ryan. Producers of the movie ("Just Two Kids In Love") have targeted a release date to coincide with Liebermanís inauguration in January 2005.
From the Producers of When Harry Met Sally
Just Two Kids In Love
Coming January 2005!
January 28, 2004
25 Rules For Being A Good
1) Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you are millionaire conservative radio jock, which makes it an "illness" and needs our prayers for your "recovery".
2) You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own.
3) You have to believe that the US should get out of the UN, and that our highest national priority is enforcing UN resolutions against Iraq.
4) You have to believe that government should stay out of people's lives but it needs to punish anyone caught having private sex with the "wrong" gender.
5) You have to believe that pollution is ok, so long as it makes a profit.
6) You have to believe in prayer in schools, as long as you don't pray to Allah or Buddha.
7) "Standing Tall for America" means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.
8) You have to believe that a woman cannot be trusted with decisions about her own body, but that large multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind with no regulation whatsoever.
9) You have to believe that you love Jesus and Jesus loves you, and that Jesus shares your hatred of AIDS victims, homosexuals, and Hillary Clinton.
10) You hate the ACLU for representing convicted felons, but they owed it to the country to bail out Oliver North.
11) You have to believe that the best way to encourage military morale is to praise the troops overseas while cutting their VA benefits.
12) You believe that group sex and drug use are degenerate sins that can only be purged by running for governor of California as a Republican.
13) You have to believe it is wise to keep condoms out of schools, because we all know if teenagers don't have condoms they won't have sex.
14) You have to believe that the best way to fight terrorism is to alienate our allies and then demand their cooperation and money.
15) You have to believe that government medicine is wrong and that insurance companies only have your best interests at heart.
16) You have to believe that providing health care to all Iraqis is sound government policy but providing health care to all Americans is socialism personified.
17) You believe that tobacco's link to cancer and global warming are "junk science", but Creationism should be taught in schools.
18) You have to believe that waging war with no exit strategy was wrong in Vietnam but right in Iraq.
19) You have to believe that Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney was doing business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.
20) You believe that government should restrict itself to just the powers named in the Constitution, which includes banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.
21) You have to believe that the public has a right to know about the adulterous affairs of Democrats, while those of Republicans are a "private matter".
22) You have to believe that the public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades but that Bush was right to censor those 28 pages from the Congressional 9/11 report because you just can't handle the truth.
23) You support state rights, which means Ashcroft telling states what locally passed voter initiatives he will allow them to have.
24) You have to believe that what Clinton did in the 1960's is of vital national interest but what Bush did decades later is "stale news" and "irrelevant".
25) You have to believe that trade with Cuba is wrong because it is communist, but trading with China and Vietnam is just dandy.
January 27, 2004
The Bush administration is fighting hand-in-hand with the pharmaceutical industry to prevent the discounting of prices for prescription drugs in the United States. Consider the following:
Where is the outrage?
January 26, 2004
has a way of demonstrating that the most stubborn are the most
- Yevgeny Yevtushenko
January 25, 2004
Friday, September 27, 2002
HOUSTON (CNN) - In discussing the threat posed by Saddam, the current president offered his staple list of complaints about Iraq's defiance of the United Nations and his contention that Iraq is working aggressively on chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. "This is a man who continually lies," Bush said. He said the Iraqi leader's "hatred" was largely directed at the United States and added: "After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad." In his speech September 12  to the United Nations on Iraq, Bush mentioned the alleged plot to kill a former U.S. president but did not mention that it was his father.
Sunday, January 11, 2004
WASHINGTON (CBS) "From the very beginning [of the George W. Bush presidency], there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said in a "60 Minutes" interview scheduled to air on Sunday. O'Neill also stated that the president was determined to find a reason to go to war and he was surprised that nobody on the National Security Council questioned why Iraq should be invaded. "It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it," said O'Neill. "The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this."' According to OíNeill, none of the documents circulated at the NSC meeting ever contained evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Saturday, January 24, 2004
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former chief U.S. arms hunter David Kay told Reuters by telephone shortly after stepping down from his post on Friday he had concluded there were no such stockpiles [of WMD] to be found. "I don't think they existed," Kay said. "What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last (1991) Gulf War, and I don't think there was a large-scale production program in the '90s," he said. "I think we have found probably 85 percent of what we're going to find," said Kay, who returned from Iraq in December and told the CIA he would not be going back. "I think the best evidence is that they did not resume large-scale production and that's what we're really talking about," Kay said. Kay's comments dented the credibility of the administration's case for the war, which was presented most extensively by Powell at the U.N. Security Council on February 5, 2003. Asked which was right -- Kay's statements or Powell's argument then that Iraq had failed to account for vast quantities of chemical weapons -- Powell replied, "I think the answer to the question is, I don't know yet."
Saturday, January 24, 2004
LACONIA, N.H. (Reuters) - Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards called on Saturday for an independent commission to investigate if the Bush administration misled the U.S. Congress in making its case for war with Iraq.
If you still think that the Administration did not mislead Congress, the American people, and the world about its reasons for attacking Iraq, I have a portfolio of domain names for sale...
January 24, 2004
Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan) died yesterday. Todayís younger adults had more of a connection with Mr. Rogers and the Sesame Street gang. For me and millions of baby boomers, it was Captain Kangaroo who started our day with his gentle "Good Morning!". I was three when the Captain and Mr. Green Jeans and Bunny Rabbit appeared on CBS and, for several very impressionable years, watched the Captain every morning. (I was shocked to learn that he was only 76 - he seemed so old to me at the time.) It was impossible for children to be unhappy when Captain Kangaroo was on the tube; he was comfort food (a phrase not in use then) for our spirits. Indeed, most mornings of my childhood were spent in flannel pajamas, eating oatmeal or cereal, while watching the Captain pull surprises from his coat pockets. Even though I have not seen the Captain on TV for decades, learning of Bob Keeshanís death brought me both a wave of nostalgia and a bit of sadness.
Good night, Captain.
January 23, 2004
January 21, 2004 - George W. Bush delivers the State of the Union Address.
January 22, 2004 - The Chinese Year of the Monkey begins.
A coincidence? You be the judge.
January 22, 2004
"I am not a member of any
organized political party. Iím a Democrat."
- Will Rogers
I keep waiting for my party (or one of its candidates) to "find its voice". I listened to Nancy Pelosi and Tom Daschle deliver the Democrat's response to the State of the Union. I also listened to Kerry, Clark, Dean, and Lieberman on both CNN and MSNBC late into the night. None of them is able to crystallize issues in a speech as well as a politically mature Clinton (remember, in 1988, Clinton was the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention and he bombed). Actually, for my money, the most articulate Democrat in the country is retired from politics - Mario Cuomo. I wish the party would use him as a "senior statesman" without taking the limelight away from our contenders.
January 21, 2004
What I didn't hear mentioned in the State of the Union Address
Global warming (or anything else about the environment)
The administration's efforts to bar the purchase of prescription drugs from Canada
The money spent (about $120 billion and growing) in Iraq
The American casualties (over 500 dead and thousands injured) in Iraq
The importance our founding fathers placed on the separation of church and state
Our Bill of Rights (he did mention one for Iraq)
The money in the education budget which has not been released by the Administration
The failure to find WMD in Iraq
How much money Halliburton (and Cheney's blind trust) have profited from the war in Iraq
3 million private-sector jobs that have been lost in the first three years of his administration
and so on...
January 20, 2004
Preview of tonight's State of the Union Address
WMD - President Bush has been stung by the fallout from his own statements and those of other members of the Administration regarding weapons of mass destruction. Let me recap:
"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction...What he wants is time, and more time to husband his resources to invest in his ongoing chemical and biological weapons program, and to gain possession of nuclear weapons."
- Vice President Cheney on August 26, 2002
"It [Iraq] possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons... And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons."
- President Bush on October 7, 2002 in Cincinnati
"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons... Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon."
- President Bush on September 12, 2002 to the UN General Assembly
"There is no doubt in my mind but that they currently have chemical and biological weapons."
- Secretary Rumsfeld on January 7, 2003 at a press briefing
"We know for a fact that there are weapons there [in Iraq]."
- White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer on January 9, 2003 in his daily press briefing
"The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world."
-President Bush on January 28, 2003 in the State of the Union Address
"We believe he [Saddam Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. El Baradei frankly is wrong."
- Vice President Cheney on March 16, 2003 on "Meet The Press"
"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
- President Bush on March 17, 2003 in his Address to the Nation
"Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly...all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes."
- White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer on March 21, 2003 in his daily press briefing
"We have seen intelligence over many months that they have chemical and biological weapons, and that they have dispersed them and that they're weaponized and that, in one case at least, the command and control arrangements have been established."
- Secretary Rumsfeld on March 24, 2003 on "Face the Nation"
"We know where they [weapons of mass destruction] are, they are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad."
- Secretary Rumsfeld on March 30, 2003 on ABC's "This Week"
President Bush will use the 2004 State of the Union Address to put the WMD criticism to rest once and for all. Bush will display irrefutable photographic evidence that Iraq not only had a chemical arsenal but, in a particularly insidious scheme, had a plan to use children to shield the chemical arsenal. A highly-placed administration source has disclosed one of the photos Bush will show to Congress and the American people. If you have "Top Secret" clearance, click here for a preview.
January 19, 2004
Iowa - Kerry 38%, Edwards 32%, Dean 18%...
Dean lost it after losing!
Was Dean a flash in the pan?
How many people has my wife been talking to about my penis? A lot, I'd guess, based on the number of them who e-mail me every day offering to make it bigger and harder.
I'm glad I don't bet on football - would have picked the Colts and the Eagles yesterday.
January 18, 2004
Has anybody else noticed the resemblance between Joseph Lieberman and character actor Austin Pendleton, Jr.? The similarity is more striking if you are familiar with Pendleton as an actor. In addition to their appearance, both men sound like the voice behind the cartoon character, Snaglepuss. Lieberman, Pendleton, and Snaglepuss all have the same chance of being elected President.
January 17, 2004
Yesterday, Michael Jackson entered a not guilty plea to child molestation charges. I am here to remind you that he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
January 16, 2004
Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas is responsible for the war in Iraq, soaring national deficits, and the systemic devaluation of civil liberties in this country.
A brash rant? You bet. But, if you agree that our country would be on a markedly different course today if Gore were president, this assertion is right on.
In the end, Bush won the election in 2000 because of a 537 vote victory in Florida. Earlier in 2000, Mayor Penelas, a Democrat, broke ranks with the Clinton administration over the Elian Gonzalez issue. Penelas publicly declared that:
"The federal government is provoking the community. We do not condone inappropriate behavior. But I have a responsibility to tell the federal government when they've gone too far. And they've gone too far. If the Justice Department's handling of this matter leads to civil unrest and violence, we are holding the [federal] government responsible."
Time magazine said Penelas "all but tossed a match into the city's powderkeg."
By September of 2000, Penelasís public support of Gore had vanished. Indeed, in mid-October, several weeks before the election, Penelas led a two week trade mission to Spain. There can be no doubt that had Penelas actively campaigned on behalf of the Gore-Lieberman ticket, his influence would have far exceeded 537 votes.
Now, in 2004, Penelas is campaigning for the Democratic nomination to succeed Bob Graham in the U.S. Senate. He apparently understands that many Democrats have their concerns for him as a result of his betrayal in 2000. Penelas recently told a St. Pete journalist that
"the Alex Penelas of today would have treated that situation a lot differently. I recognize today that my responsibility when I was standing there was not to express my personal feelings about the issue, but I should have expressed the position as the mayor of Miami-Dade County. That's where I went wrong."
Certainly no one, not even Penelas, could have foreseen all of the consequences of Penelasís conduct in 2000. However, Penelas did know that he was withholding support for his partyís ticket in a very close race and he did know that a George W. Bush presidency would lead to many decisions which Democrats fervently oppose.
Penelas has not earned nor can he be trusted with the responsibility of being the Democratic Senator from Florida.
January 15, 2004
Maybe it's a sign of getting old, but I strongly prefer to go to movies late in the afternoon and then having dinner afterward. Why? I am increasingly intolerant of the rudeness of people during movies. Late in the afternoon, the theaters tend to have few patrons and it is like having a private screening.
I have two honest-to-goodness movie experiences which are examples of the mentality of many movie-goers:
1. During a movie, the man next to me got a call on his cell phone. He not only answered but carried on a conversation. After about 30 seconds, I firmly asked the man to please take his conversation outside to which the man said to his caller, "I've got to hang up now. The guy next to me is being rude."
2. My wife and I took our seats in a crowded theater one row in front of a family with several young children. When the movie began, the parents were explaining the movie to the youngest child. When I turned around and asked that they not talk, the father angrily answered, "We were here first."
Reason and courtesy are beyond the grasp of some people.
January 14, 2004
For almost a year, I
have been predicting that Florida Senator Bob Graham will be the Democratic Vice
Presidential nominee. (I am not the first or only person to make this
Graham did not have the charisma to contend in the race for the Presidential nomination. However, he is well-qualified to be the second person on the ticket. Graham was a popular two-term governor of Florida before his present position as a three-term Senator. When the Democrats had a majority in the Senate, Graham chaired the Select Committee on Intelligence.
More importantly, Graham is still very well-liked in Florida and, absent a meltdown of the Democratic ticket, would deliver Florida and its important 25 electoral votes.
Remember, you heard it here first (maybe).