The Peach

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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Bush Backer Behind Attack on CBS Documents

Questions about the authenticity of newly-discovered memos regarding President Bush's National Guard service surfaced first on the Drudge Report. Rather than look into the sources of these claims, most of the mainstream media (CBS the glowing and inspirational exception) raced for the cameras.

Both ABC and NBC breathlessly reported that questions were "swirling" around the documents authenticity with "experts" saying that they were forgeries. Now the truth comes out. The source of the attack on the documents is none other than Brent Bozell, fringe right-wing Bush supporter, chairman of the Conservative Victory Party and founder of the Media Research Center, a far-right media watchdog group.

Meanwhile, the documents themselves have withstood the scrutiny. It turns out that yes, there were typewriters in the 70's that could produce a -th superscript. Yes, there were fonts that resembled Times Roman. Yes, those same typewriters featured proportional spacing. But muddied and lost, in the minutiae of vintage typewriters and arcane secretarial lore, is the truth: That Bush did not serve his country. That he took advantage of his family connections so that he did not have to face danger. That he lied and lied and lied and lied again.

The mainstream media has us bewildered. Aren't they professionals who routinely do actual investigative work into the documents and claims and sources on which they base their stories? Apparently not when those stories are unfavorable to Bush.

Friday, September 10, 2004

What Would Jesus Do in A Bush Campaign Ad? Look like a big loser, that's what. Here's how Mad Magazine envisions it. Hope the Christian Family Values crowd takes it to heart. Posted by Hello

A Word on the National Guard Documents

We are not document authentication experts, and so are not qualified to render a judgement about the authenticity of the documents presented on 60 Minutes -- documents which, to the joy of Democrats and consternation of Republicans, seriously called into question not only Bush's Guard service, but his honesty on every statement he's ever made about it.

There are three possibilities -- all the documents are authentic, some of them are or none of them are. If none of them are authentic, then someone has perpetrated a hoax on the American people. We would expect the media to turn their attention to who and why. Personally, we would not be surprised if it was the Republicans. It would be so like them.

It seems likely that at least some of the documents are authentic. According to the Wash Post, CBS contacted retired Maj. Gen. Bobby W. Hodges, the immediate superior officer of the documents' alleged author, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, and he indicated that the content of the documents was similar to things that Killian had verbally expressed to him at the time. Hodges is a Republican who told CBS that he did not want to hurt Bush.

It also continues to be possible that all the documents are authentic. You will see a lot of arcane posts flying back and forth on the blogs filled with details about typewriters of the 60's and 70's, old typefaces, vintage secretarial practices and more. It gets a bit bewildering after a while, but a couple of questions could be answered definitively by someone in the media, and we wish they would get to it. E.g.:

1. Did any electric typewriters exist at the time that had a font more or less resembling Times Roman? My mom, a professional editor and typist of that day, says there was at least one called Testimonial and perhaps others as well.

2. Did any electric typewriter exist that could type a superscript in a smaller font than the one used in the main document? Mom, again, says that any secretary worth her salt knew how to do this, even with a manual typewriter, and that they did indeed have at least two different sized fonts.

3. Did Killian own or have access to such a typewriter?

The jury is still out. And regardless, we still all know that Bush was AWOL from the guard, and that Kitty Kelley is probably telling something pretty near the truth.

The Waking-Up-and-Finally-Smelling-the-Coffee Award To . . .

U.S. News and World Report, for finally asking the obvious question about Bush's National Guard service. How the hell did he get an honorable discharge, given everything we know? We hope the "mainstream" media stays on this long enough to provide some answers.

Cheney's EBay Economics

Dick Cheney made the following astonishing claim today about our nation's economy: The accepted economic indicators, such as unemployment figures and consumer spending, can't be trusted because they don't include the money people make by selling stuff on eBay. "That's a source that didn't even exist 10 years ago," His Creepiness told an Ohio audience. "Four hundred thousand people make some money trading on eBay."

Well, er, that's true, but eBay's revenues are in fact included in the Commerce Department's estimates of GDP. And according to a poster on DailyKos, the average income people earn from eBay is around $300 a year, which only counts as employment if you live in Nepal.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Why Red-Staters Freak Us Out

So we're watching episode 9 of Da Ali G. Show, and his Borat character (the Khazakstan TV reporter) is going around Nashville, ostensibly learning how to become a country-western singer. After getting expert song-writing tips from country-music great Porter Waggoner, he heads off to a local bar to perform his original tune -- A foot-stomping, rip-roaring exhortation to "Throw the Jew down the well/So we can set my country free./First you must grab him by his horns/Then we'll have a big part-y."

People in the bar are clapping and stomping and singing along. One or two are looking at each other, like, "is he for real?" Most are going right along with it.

You could argue that Americans, of whatever regional stripe, are just too polite to embarass a guy in the middle of his musical performance by going all confrontational on him. But given the apparent willingness of the audience to not just listen, but energetically join in, you have to wonder. Is unreconstructed anti-Semitism part and parcel of being a Red-Stater? Is that depth of profoundly scary bigotry part of what Bush taps into?

The segment was meant to be funny, and it was. But we could not stop thinking about it for a very long time.

Dick Cheney Unplugged

I mean, the guy is losing it. "Vote for us or you will die." In a speech to supporters in Des Moines this week, Cheney actually said, "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States."

First of all, if Bush is keeping us so safe, then what is with the constant terror alerts and announcements to the effect that an attack is coming at any moment? I mean, Bush is president now and we are supposed to be terrified and watching our backs all the time. So what gives?

And none of this is really new in the sense that this has been Bush's campaign subtext all along, the insinuation that a vote for Kerry is a vote for terrorism. But to hear Cheney put it in such starkly literal terms is to realize how truly extreme and nutty the Republicans have become. This isn't politics. It's the shrill edge of hysteria. Will American voters recognize it in time?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A Satisfying 60 Minutes

As shallow as TV journalism invariably is, and yet tonight's 60 Minutes II, featuring the much-publicized interview with Ben Barnes, successfully punched holes in virtually every aspect of Bush's account of his national guard service. In case there is anyone who even still entertains serious questions on the subject, you heard it here first: He used influence to get in. He did not show up for duty. He violated direct orders from superiors who told him to fulfill his obligations. It seems inevitable we will learn that his "honorable discharge" was bought with influence as well, or rubber-stamped by someone who did not know the facts of the matter.

Barnes was very credible in his description of the favors that he did for sons of the wealthy and powerful, including the Bush family, back when he was an ambitious young politico. And Bush's spokesperson, Dan Bartlett has never looked sillier or more at a loss for words than when called upon to explain the official Bush account in the face of incontrovertable facts to the contrary, including memos from a former commanding officer indicating that he was being pressured to give Bush a pass when in fact, he had never shown up for duty.

This is our commander in chief? Puh-leese.

George's Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day

Is it possible that the media is finally coming to its senses about what a disastrous failure Bush has been? Read here and judge for yourself.

Prophetic Onion

This is really scary. Remember that Onion headline from January 2001, which read: "Bush: Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Finally Over"? Well, practically every over-the-top, supposedly satirical "promise" it attributed to Bush has come true. See the annotated version here, which hyperlinks to the real-life fulfillment of practically every word. Eerie.

Another Broken Promise -- Deficit Reduction

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that if Bush convinces Congress to make his tax cuts permanent, the federal deficit will increase to $500 billion by 2009, rather than being cut in half as Bush has insisted. If we had to guess about whose math is more likely to be correct, we'd have to go with the CBO.

The CBO reached its conclusions even taking into account extremely rosy assumptions about war costs and robust economic growth. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, director of the CBO and former chief economist on Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, was quoted as saying "You cannot grow your way out of this." We worry about Mr. Holz-Eakin -- no doubt he's seen as a turncoat by the Republicans. Can nasty allegations about his military service or his sex life be far behind?

Records Prove "Girlie Man" George Avoided Call-Up

The Boston Globe reports that records made public by the White House to prove that George W. Bush fulfilled his military service commitment, in fact prove the opposite. Bush apparently signed documents promising to meet training commitments or be subject to a "punitive call-up to active duty." Surprise, surprise, "he didn't meet the commitments or face the punishment the records show." Click here to read the whole story.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Bush's Quagmire

On the very sad occasion of the 1000th casualty of the Iraq war, it seems appropriate to post this unbelievably damning perspective on administration policy from an unnamed senior figure at a military sponsored thinktank, in the latest Atlantic Monthly:

"If I can be blunt, the administration is full of shit. In my view, we are much, much worse off now than when we went into Iraq. That is not a partisan position. I voted for these guys. But I think they are incompetent, and I have had a very close perspective on what is happening. Certainly in the long run, we have harmed ourselves. We are playing to the enemy's political advantage. Whatever tactical victories we may gain along the way, this will prove to be a strategic blunder."

-- From "Bush's Lost Year," James Fallows, The Atlantic, October 2004 (requires subscription)

Equally illuminating: this source will not allow his name to be printed and explains why by reference to Joseph Wilson, Richard Clarke and Generals Eric Shinseki and Anthony Zinni in order to, as Fallows puts it, "illustrate the personal risk of openly expressing his dissenting view."

And More Fizzling

Today's Rasmussen poll has Bush and Kerry dead even at 47-47. Happy to report that for our home-sweet-swing-state of Michigan, Kerry is ahead 48-44. Go Blue!

The Borrow-and-Spend President

The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the federal deficit will reach a record $422 billion this year.

Click here for the details on why you can't trust Bush with your money.

Unemployed? It's The Lawsuits, Stupid!

Apparently in response to the record-deficit announcement by the CBO, Bush has fired back with the incredible contention that "junk lawsuits" are to blame for negative job growth.

A related news item may help illuminate why Bush is so concerned. Reuters reports that at a rally of cheering supporters in Missouri, Bush gave his usual anti-medical malpractice spiel, adding, "We've got an issue in America. Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."

Practice their love?!? If the Reuters report isn't enough for you, click here to watch it on video.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Bush's Bounce Fizzles

Latest numbers from Rasmussen's daily poll have Bush barely a point ahead. So much for the big bounce.

Kerry's Message

As poll numbers vary wildly -- some showing a 10 point Bush Bounce, others a Kerry lead, some Democratic leaders have fallen into the trap of publicly offering critiques of Kerry's campaign and message. Given the subtle conservative bias of even the most mainstream media, this is not helpful.

Yesterday on Hardball, for instance, Chris Matthews asked whether Kerry "has what it takes to turn this around" (a question born from the assumption that the campaign is in some kind of huge nosedive to begin with and laced with the old "right stuff" implications of unmanliness that we've heard constantly from the right). His "liberal" representatives, Maureen Dowd and Sam Donaldson, were only too happy to begin speculating, "hmmm, gosh, I don't know . . ." In short, affirming, rather than questioning Matthews fundamental, false premises and biases in front of millions of viewers. Meanwhile, of course, the real conservatives on the program trashed Kerry left and right.

We want to propose instead that Democratic commentators (and all of us) take up the mantra suggested by DailyKos this week -- saying to anyone who will listen, "Bush is a miserable failure and fortunately, Kerry has a plan that will really make life better . . ." Continually and relenlessly hammer Bush's record of disastrous failure, abroad and at home. Follow each point with highlights of Kerry's plan.

And (this is mostly addressed to media commentators and talking heads but some of us hear these things on the street too), when Republicans make statements or ask questions that are laced with lies, hypocrisy or false assumptions, POINT IT OUT FIRST. Then go on to tell them why Bush is a miserable failure and how Kerry will make life better.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Reality Check on Polls

Okay, the post-RNC polls are being presented in the mainstream media as portending no good for John Kerry. The latest Newsweek poll has Bush up by 52% to 41%. Revoltingly, both Bush and Cheney's favorability ratings are up. Click here for details.

Most troubling is the way that Newsweek and similar "mainstream" media outlets are cranking out headlines that make it sound like the game is over.

Reality Check: A bounce should be expected and they don't call it a bounce for nothing. What goes up tends to come down -- especially in the face of the realities of Bush's failed economic and foreign policies. Viewers may be briefly buoyed up by the triumphalistic rhetoric but ultimately, they will get back to noticing that they still don't have jobs or healthcare, that their children ARE being left behind and that the death toll in Iraq continues to rise without any discernable progress being made there.

Another Reality Check: We can help move this process forward, one conversation at a time. Keep talking to your undecided friends. For some great facts and figures on the record of Team Bush, check out "Bush By the Numbers" from Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter.

Dems continue to outnumber Republicans in this country. If we all vote, we will win.