Friday, February 20, 2004

Bush Administration attempts to invent "Clinton Recession"

(W)hen economic history is rewritten -- with political consequences -- that's going too far. President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, chaired by Harvard economist N. Gregory Mankiw, is trying to get away with exactly such revisionist history. The CEA's Economic Report of the President, released Feb. 9, unilaterally changed the start date of the last recession to benefit Bush's reelection bid. Instead of using the accepted start date of March, 2001, the CEA announced that the recession really started in the fourth quarter of 2000 -- a shift that would make it much more credible for the Bush Administration to term it the "Clinton Recession." In a subsequent press conference, Mankiw said that the CEA had looked at the available data and "made the call."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Larry Flint claims to have proof that Bush paid for girlfriend's abortion

(T)he incorrigible Larry Flynt says he plans to market a Bush abortion story as genuine - in a book to be published this summer by Kensington Press...

. . .

Flynt claimed that Bush arranged for the procedure in the early '70s.

"I've talked to the woman's friends," Flynt said. "I've tracked down the doctor who did the abortion, I tracked down the Bush people who arranged for the abortion," Flynt said. "I got the story nailed."

Flynt wouldn't disclose whether he plans to name the woman.
Prosecutor at center of controversy in terror case sues Ashcroft

A federal prosecutor in a major terrorism case in Detroit has taken the rare step of suing Attorney General John Ashcroft, alleging the Justice Department interfered with the case, compromised a confidential informant and exaggerated results in the war on terrorism.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino of Detroit accused the Justice Department of "gross mismanagement" of the war on terrorism in a whistleblower lawsuit filed late Friday in federal court in Washington.

. . .

Convertino came under internal investigation last fall after providing information to a Senate committee about his concerns about the war on terror. His testimony came just months after he helped convict some members of an alleged terrorism cell in Detroit.

The government now admits it failed to turn over evidence during the trial that might have assisted the defense, including an allegation from an imprisoned drug gang leader who claimed the government's key witness made up his story.

. . .

Convertino also accused Justice officials of intentionally divulging the name of one of his confidential terrorism informants (CI) to retaliate against him.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Official White House Biography of Cheney Leaves out Halliburton

Vice-President Dick Cheney is well known for his discretion, but his official White House biography, as posted on his Web site, may exceed even his own stringent standards. It traces the sixty-three years from his birth, in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1941, through college and graduate school, and describes his increasingly powerful jobs in Washington. Yet one chapter of Cheney’s life is missing. The record notes that he has been a “businessman” but fails to mention the five extraordinarily lucrative years that he spent, immediately before becoming Vice-President, as chief executive of Halliburton, the world’s largest oil-and-gas-services company. The conglomerate, which is based in Houston, is now the biggest private contractor for American forces in Iraq; it has received contracts worth some eleven billion dollars for its work there.

From the New Yorker.
Medical evidence does not support suicide by Kelly

On February 10, Dr Rouse wrote to the BMJ explaining that he and his colleague, Yaser Adi, had spent 100 hours preparing a report, Hutton, Kelly and the Missing Epidemiology. They concluded that "the identified evidence does not support the view that wrist-slash deaths are common (or indeed possible)". While Professor Chris Milroy, in a letter to the BMJ, responded, "unlikely does not make it impossible", Dr Rouse replied: "Before most of us will be prepared to accept wristslashing ... as a satisfactory and credible explanation for a death, we will also require evidence that such aetiologies are likely; not merely 'possible'. "

Our criticism of the Hutton report is that its verdict of "suicide" is an inappropriate finding. To bleed to death from a transected artery goes against classical medical teaching, which is that a transected artery retracts, narrows, clots and stops bleeding within minutes. Even if a person continues to bleed, the body compensates for the loss of blood through vasoconstriction (closing down of non-essential arteries). This allows a partially exsanguinated individual to live for many hours, even days.

. . .

We believe the verdict given is in contradiction to medical teaching; is at variance with documented cases of wrist-slash suicides; and does not align itself with the evidence presented at the inquiry. We call for the reopening of the inquest by the coroner, where a jury may be called and evidence taken on oath.
Senate Computer Memo Theft Compared to Watergate

"Republican snooping through Democrats' tactical memos on President Bush's judicial nominees has grown into a full-blown Capitol Hill uproar - with comparisons to Watergate, accusations of court tampering and conservatives attacking senior GOP senators.

Already, two staffers implicated in giving newspapers and conservative groups the memos stored on a shared Judiciary Committee computer server have been forced to leave. Secret Service agents are prowling the Capitol interviewing legislative aides, and some senators are calling for an outside investigation - perhaps by the FBI - and severe punishment if warranted.
'We know that dirty tricks have long been infecting the nation's politics, but they haven't infected the Senate or our committee until now,' said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., learned that some of his staff memos had been taken off the shared computer.

Kennedy compared it to Watergate.

'In those days, break-ins required a physical presence, burglar's tools, lookouts and getaway cars,' he said Thursday.
'Today, theft may only require a computer and the skills to use it and the will to break in.'

Even some Senate Republicans are calling for heads to roll.
'Somebody needs to be fired,' said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the newest Judiciary Committee Republicans. 'Somebody in Washington needs to eventually lose their jobs, whether it's on weapons of mass destruction or this type of behavior."

Thursday, February 12, 2004


A STUNNING PLAYBOY MODEL has unleashed the opening salvo in a vicious smear campaign against George W. Bush -- claiming she had a torrid 18-month affair with the presidential candidate that ended last June.

. . .

(W)e learned that Tammy is a former stripper, who began dancing in clubs when she was only 14. She claims she was introduced to Gov. Bush by her uncle, a prominent Republican, in early December 1997 during a political function at a hotel in Midland, Tex.

"I was wearing a tiny miniskirt -- and it was instant combustion," she told The ENQUIRER.

Tammy alleges that she and Gov. Bush made passionate love that very day before leaving the hotel.

Okay, its from the National Enquirer. But is it any less trustworthy than the Drudge Report's claims that John Kerry had a sexual affair with an intern?

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Check out Eschaton today for these great stories

- Retired Lt. Col. Bill Burkett says he witnessed the scrubbing of Bush's military records

- Dick Cheney altered the structure of Energy Department in 2001 so it could coordinate war profiteering

- Rumsfeld and the Defense Department ready to punt Iraq

- The latest attempted smears on Kerry, and more . . .

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Bush Administration's Policy: Tank the Dollar

Treasury Secretary John Snow has tacitly but unmistakably abandoned Washington's longstanding support for a strong dollar in favor of a weak dollar that is getting weaker, though he continues to insist there has been no change in policy.

Stripped of the code words and elliptical references to "excessive volatility" in exchange rates, the message that Snow delivered over the weekend to finance ministers from Europe and Japan was that the dollar's plunge against the euro is just fine and that the dollar should now decline more rapidly against Asian currencies as well.

What does this mean to the economy? Businessweek had this to say in May, 2003:

A falling dollar, at least for the first year or two, is like a deflationary tax. It takes time for consumers and businesses, both in the U.S. and abroad, to adjust their buying behavior. Until then, money is simply sucked out the door in the form of higher import prices, just as if oil prices had spiked and stayed high. The result: A weaker dollar depresses real wages and profits in the near term and makes a robust recovery even more unlikely anytime soon.

. . .

But for the immediate future, the effect of a declining currency will be negative. Consumers will pay more for imported shoes, VCRs, cars, and other goods, and have less money for other purchases. Similarly, rising costs will hurt earnings at many businesses that rely on imported raw materials and parts -- an increasingly large group in an era of global supply chains. Retailers, especially, will find themselves in a double bind since they'll have to pay higher prices to stock their shelves with imported goods even as their customers are increasingly cash-strapped.

Perhaps most distressingly, the weaker dollar could turn out to be a drag on business investment. With the exception of autos and trucks, imported capital goods account for about 40% of business spending on new equipment. That means a drop in the dollar could push up prices for capital goods, discouraging capital spending by companies. That isn't the outcome we want if we are looking to continue the productivity gains of the 1990s.

In a nutshell; International investers will flee the dropping dollar. Interest rates must be raised to attract buyers for ballooning U.S. debt. Higher interest kills the housing market. Import prices rise, which, with rising interest rates, jacks up inflation. High interest kneecaps business investment. The stock market drops, as international investors leave, and interest rates make bonds more attractive. Dropping investment capital causes insolvency for weaker businesses. A shakeout occurs, and the economy contracts.

This could add up to a serious economic crisis.
More bad news for touchscreen voting

Six electronic voting machines used in two North Carolina counties lost 436 absentee ballot votes in the 2002 general election because of a software problem, raising increasing doubts about the accuracy and integrity of voting equipment in a presidential election year.

Election Systems & Software said problems with the firmware of its iVotronic touch-screen machines, used in a trial run, lost ballots in two North Carolina precincts during the state's early voting in 2002. ES&S, the largest U.S. maker of election equipment, is also the focus of attention into lost votes last month in Florida during a special election.
US, Britain break international law to spy on UN delegates

Britain helped America to conduct a secret and potentially illegal spying operation at the United Nations in the run-up to the Iraq war, The Observer can reveal.

The operation, which targeted at least one permanent member of the UN Security Council, was almost certainly in breach of the Vienna conventions on diplomatic relations, which strictly outlaw espionage at the UN missions in New York.

Translators and analysts at the Government's top-secret surveillance centre GCHQ were ordered to co-operate with an American espionage 'surge' on Security Council delegations after a request from the US National Security Agency at the end of January 2003. This was designed to help smooth the way for a second UN resolution authorising war in Iraq.

Mel Gibson casts his wife into the pit of fire

Mel Gibson has come under fire for being hard on Jews in his film “The Passion of the Christ” — but apparently, he feels that Protestants are also doomed to damnation. In fact, it looks like Gibson, a conservative Catholic, believes that his Episcopalian wife could be going to hell.

Gibson was interviewed by the Herald Sun in Australia, and the reporter asked the star if Protestants are denied eternal salvation. “There is no salvation for those outside the Church,” Gibson replied. “I believe it.”

He elaborated: “Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She’s a much better person than I am. Honestly. She’s, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it’s just not fair if she doesn’t make it, she’s better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it.”

Sorry honey, rules is rules.

Friday, February 06, 2004

More Evidence "Gulf War Syndrome" related to Depleted Uranium

A SCOTS ex-soldier has become the first veteran to win a pension appeal after being diagnosed with depleted uranium (DU) poisoning during the 1991 Gulf war.

A Pension Appeal Tribunal Service hearing in Edinburgh accepted medical evidence provided by Kenny Duncan, of Clackmannan, previously dismissed by the MoD, which revealed he had become ill after service in the Middle East.

Mr Duncan, 35, a driver with 7 Tank Transporter Regiment, helped move tanks destroyed by shells containing the poisonous dust.

He says he has evidence that his children's health problems are linked to his service. Kenneth, 10, Andrew, eight, and six-year-old Heather, have symptoms similar to those suffered by some Iraqi children, including deformed toes, and low immune systems making them susceptible to asthma, hay fever and eczema.

Mr Duncan has suffered increasing breathlessness and aching joints which he has linked to DU.

During the conflict, US and British troops fired an estimated 350 tonnes of DU weapons at Iraqi tanks.

Doctors in southern Iraq have reported a marked increase in cancers and birth defects, and suspicion has grown that they were caused by DU contamination from tank battles.

DU has been linked to a leukaemia cluster around the MoD range at Dundrennan, near the Solway Firth. Communities close to the range show the highest rate of childhood leukaemia in the UK.

Mr Duncan's case relied on blood tests carried out by Dr Albrecht Schott, a German biochemist, which revealed chromosome aberrations caused by ionising radiation.

Neocon Errand-boy Picked to Head Iraq Commission

From "This Modern World":

"I hear George W. Bush's hand-picked whitewashing of the Iraq intel failures will be co-chaired by Laurence Silberman.

Described simply as a retired federal judge by most news reports, Silberman was until recently one of the three judges of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which oversees sensitive domestic surveillance issues and approves of wiretaps of suspected terrorists. After 9/11, this became the judicial body which would uphold John Ashcroft's agenda in the Patriot Act and (in the words of the ACLU -- read down in the collection of articles) 'rubber-stamp government applications for intrusive surveillance warrants.'

In other words, Silberman hardly seems disinterested, and more like a full-fledged member of Team Death Star.

Silberman is also one of the two judges who threw out Oliver North's Iran-Contra conviction. Later, he served as a 'mentor' to American Spectator writer David Brock during the years of constant character assassination against Bill Clinton."

Whatta suprise . . .
Added to the blogroll: The Daily Outrage

From The Nation website. Matt Bivens has been producing some consistently strong material there. Check it out.
Indictments May Be Imminent in Plame Affair

"Federal law enforcement officials said that they have developed hard evidence of possible criminal misconduct by two employees of Vice President Dick Cheney's office related to the unlawful exposure of a CIA officer's identity last year.

The investigation, which is continuing, could lead to indictments, a Justice Department official said.

According to these sources, John Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff Lewis 'Scooter' Libby were the two Cheney employees.

'We believe that Hannah was the major player in this,' one federal law enforcement officer said.

Calls to the vice president's office were not returned. Hannah and Libby did not return calls.
The strategy of the FBI is to make clear to Hannah 'that he faces a real possibility of doing jail time,' as a way to pressure him to name superiors, one federal law enforcement official said."

From UPI. Major news media seems to be taking a pass on this story.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Bush Picks Commission to Investigate Bush

"White House officials said Monday that the commission being created to investigate intelligence shortcomings will decide for itself if it will examine a highly charged political issue: whether President Bush and other senior administration officials exaggerated the evidence that Iraq possessed large stockpiles of illicit weapons

. . .

On Monday, Democratic leaders in Congress sent a letter to Bush urging that the scope of the inquiry include 'the collection, analysis, dissemination and use by policymakers of intelligence on Iraq.' The Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., also said that members of the commission should be appointed 'on a bipartisan basis by the congressional leadership' rather than by the President himself."

Its like letting a grand jury target pick the jury members. Good deal, huh?
Al Sharpton Financed by the GOP

Roger Stone, the longtime Republican dirty-tricks operative who led the mob that shut down the Miami-Dade County recount and helped make George W. Bush president in 2000, is financing, staffing, and orchestrating the presidential campaign of Reverend Al Sharpton.

Though Stone and Sharpton have tried to reduce their alliance to a curiosity, suggesting that all they do is talk occasionally, a Voice investigation has documented an extraordinary array of connections. Stone played a pivotal role in putting together Sharpton's pending application for federal matching funds, getting dollars in critical states from family members and political allies at odds with everything Sharpton represents. He's also helped stack the campaign with a half-dozen incongruous top aides who've worked for him in prior campaigns. He's even boasted about engineering six-figure loans to Sharpton's National Action Network (NAN) and allowing Sharpton to use his credit card to cover thousands in NAN costs—neither of which he could legally do for the campaign. In a wide-ranging Voice interview Sunday, Stone confirmed his matching-fund and staffing roles, but refused to comment on the NAN subsidies.

Sharpton denounced the Voice's inquiries as "phony liberal paternalism," insisting that he'd "talk to anyone I want" and likening his use of Stone to Bill Clinton's reliance on pollster Dick Morris, saying he was "sick of these racist double standards." He did not dispute that Stone had helped generate matching contributions and staff the campaign.

Can you say "ratfuck"? I knew that you could.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Dennis Miller didn't just jump the shark - He joined it in holy matrimony . . .

Once upon a time, before CNBC's "Dennis Miller," before co-hosting "Monday Night Football," even before HBO's "Dennis Miller Live," the actual Dennis Miller, host of "SNL's" "Weekend Update," had the headline joke-extraction market pretty well cornered. And as sarcastic know-it-alls go, he was pretty funny.

But that was long ago, before "Saturday Night Live's" incisive Tina Fey revitalized his former franchise, before Jon Stewart remade "The Daily Show" into the only genuine source of political satire on American TV, and before Miller — whose political apostasy was so swift, categorical and absolute that it made St. Augustine's thunderbolt conversion to Christianity look like a passing fancy — became a man on a very particular, if very confusing, mission.

"Nine-eleven changed me," Miller said last week, by way of explaining how a guy whose living once involved impugning the intellect of the commander in chief could wind up across the table from David Horowitz, another liberal-turned-conservative-pundit, calling him "Davey" and tacitly agreeing to his suggestion that the CIA failed to do its job in Iraq because "the liberals in the universities" somehow prevented its agents from learning Arabic in college.

From the LA Times Online (link unavailable)
The Pentagon Planning for Weather Nightmare

Global warming may be bad news for future generations, but let's face it, most of us spend as little time worrying about it as we did about al Qaeda before 9/11. Like the terrorists, though, the seemingly remote climate risk may hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined. In fact, the prospect has become so real that the Pentagon's strategic planners are grappling with it.

The threat that has riveted their attention is this: Global warming, rather than causing gradual, centuries-spanning change, may be pushing the climate to a tipping point. Growing evidence suggests the ocean-atmosphere system that controls the world's climate can lurch from one state to another in less than a decade—like a canoe that's gradually tilted until suddenly it flips over. Scientists don't know how close the system is to a critical threshold. But abrupt climate change may well occur in the not-too-distant future. If it does, the need to rapidly adapt may overwhelm many societies—thereby upsetting the geopolitical balance of power.

Bush 2004 Campaign Pledges To Restore Honor And Dignity To White House

BOSTON—Addressing guests at a $2,000-a-plate fundraiser, George W. Bush pledged Monday that, if re-elected in November, he and running mate Dick Cheney will "restore honor and dignity to the White House."

"After years of false statements and empty promises, it's time for big changes in Washington," Bush said. "We need a president who will finally stand up and fight against the lies and corruption. It's time to renew the faith the people once had in the White House. If elected, I pledge to usher in a new era of integrity inside the Oval Office."

From The Onion, of course.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Diebold Voting Machines Still Suck

"Results tallied by Maryland's 16,000 new electronic voting machines can be trusted in their first statewide test during the March 2 presidential primary, but only with some added security measures, a state official and a consultant told legislators yesterday

. . .

(T)he review found that it is possible to vote multiple times, break into machines and disrupt results or get voters to select the wrong candidates. It's also possible to dial in to election headquarters and alter results or wipe out all of them

. . .

'You're more secure buying a book from than you are uploading your results to the Diebold server,' (said Michael A. Wertheimer, a Columbia-based consultant hired by the state)."
Perle Advises Terrorist Organization

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A top Pentagon advisor spoke at a charity event last weekend for a group that has been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

Richard Perle -- who as chairman of the Pentagon's civilian Defense Policy Board advocated the invasion of Iraq -- spoke at Saturday's fundraiser for the Iranian-American Community of Northern Virginia. That group is thought by U.S. intelligence agencies to have ties to Mujahedin-e Khalq and has been listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department since 1997.

The group was supported by Saddam Hussein's Baath Party regime in Iraq for its efforts to overthrow the current regime in Iran.