Sunday :: Aug 29, 2004

Tartuffe's Truths


by pessimist

Tartuffe, a satire by the famous French playwright Moliere, was about a notorius hypoocrite who would say whatever it took to get what he was after. Just the other day, we got yet another example that the Republicans have many 'Tartuffes' within their ranks:


What Bob Dole really thinks about Bush's tactics
For Shame - A leaked video reveals what Bob Dole really thinks about Bush's tactics.

Democrats now have an unlikely ally in their quest to prove that Bush has a history of these kinds of dirty tricks: Bob Dole.

No one has done more to lend establishment respectability to the falsehoods being peddled against Kerry than Dole. The former Senate majority leader and 1996 presidential nominee of the Republican Party made several demonstrably false statements about John Kerry's war record this past Sunday on CNN's Late Edition before saying that "not every one of these people can be Republican liars. There's got to be some truth to the charges."

For pretty much the duration of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth controversy, the Kerry campaign has been trying to demonstrate that the smear campaign being conducted against the Democratic presidential nominee is all the more loathsome because it is part of a pattern of behavior by George W. Bush: the use of front groups to damage his campaign opponents by putting false statements into the political bloodstream. Particularly salient, Democrats believe, is the 2000 campaign conducted against John McCain during the South Carolina primary.

But Dole also made another statement that day, one that hasn't been aired until now. Of McCain's charge to President Bush during a 2000 debate — "You should be ashamed" — Dole told Wolf Blitzer, "He was right."

Dole made the remark off-air, while CNN broadcast the Kerry ad called "Old Tricks," the one featuring McCain's 2000 debate remarks. (The campaign stopped airing it recently at McCain's request.) [See below - ed]

Although the remark was made off-air, it wasn't made off-camera. A CNN employee who asked not to be named made a digital file of the raw camera feed from the Late Edition studio. The footage does not include the graphics or other video, such as the McCain ad, that was shown during the live broadcast. "Once the control room punches the ad, it automatically kills the mics in the studio," the CNN employee told me. "He knows he can speak to Wolf and no one will hear him." Slate has posted the video, so you can see Dole's remark for yourself.

Click either link to see the clip
56K - for dialup modems - 510kb
100K - for broadband - 3006kb

Question for Bob Dole: If President Bush should be ashamed of his behavior four years ago, why aren't you ashamed now?

Yeah, Bob - Why aren't you ashamed now?

One person who confuses me is Senator John McCain. At times, such as when he campaigns with George Warmonger Bu$h, he seems the typical Republican Party loyalist to a fault and I feel he should be ashamed as well. But then there are other times when he rises to his obligation to fulfill his role as a True Conservative and stand to what's right, as he did defending John F. Kerry's Vietnam War service, and I feel that he is worthy of respect well-earned.

Remembering his obligation to the nation to stand for what's right regardless of party advantage, John McCain has once again spoken out.


Bush, Kerry agree to McCain's ad wishes

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry bowed to the wishes of popular maverick John McCain on Thursday, as the president embraced the Republican senator's legal fight against big-money special interest groups airing negative ads and the Democratic nominee scrapped a commercial that featured McCain.

"I am absolutely telling you the God's honest truth about what happened and what took place over there," Kerry told supporters in Minnesota. He has been on the defensive since a group financed by Bush supporters, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, aired a television commercial this month accusing Kerry of exaggerating his wartime experience. Calling the group a front for the Bush campaign, Kerry unveiled an ad this week that features 4-year-old footage of McCain accusing Bush of smear tactics in their bitterly contested 2000 GOP primary race.

The fierce response reflects concerns inside the Kerry camp that the debate could undercut his signature political theme - as a decorated Vietnam veteran, Kerry argues, he is capable of replacing the incumbent Republican while the nation is at war. It is too early to tell by polls whether the debate has hurt Kerry, or whether it has exposed Bush, who [allegedly - ed] served stateside in the Texas Air National Guard during the war, to voter backlash.

Three weeks ago, the Arizona senator asked Bush to condemn the anti-Kerry ad. This week, he asked Kerry to withdraw the anti-Bush ad. With their actions Thursday, Bush and Kerry satisfied McCain's demands. Announcing that Kerry had yanked his ad, spokesman David Wade said, "It's long past time that Bush also take McCain's advice and do the right thing by putting an end to the smears and lies on John Kerry's service."

McCain sought to take Bush off the hook, suggesting that the president had gone far enough in condemning the accusations. The political reprieve came only after the White House said Bush will join forces with McCain in legal action to crack down on political ads aired by outside groups, dubbed "527s" because of the section of the tax code that covers them. "The president said if the court action doesn't work, that he would be willing to pursue legislative action with Sen. McCain on that," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said after Bush called McCain with the news.

McCain, an advocate of campaign finance reform, welcomed the White House embrace and said he would soon press forward with efforts to force Democratic and Republican groups to live within fundraising limits. The 527s raise money with few limits under so-called "soft money" rules.

McCain suggested, and associates privately confirmed, that he had accepted Bush's statements as proper condemnations of the anti-Kerry ad. "I've said before I would like for the president to specifically condemn that ad, but the president has said John Kerry served honorably and also the president is now committed to acting to try to bring 527s into regulation," McCain said.

The only obvious winner is McCain, a former Vietnam War hero who emerged from his 2000 defeat as one of the nation's most popular politicians, beloved by independent voters and courted by both presidential candidates. He has welcomed the attention, often instigating it, with an eye toward a possible run for the presidency in 2008.

There is a reason Bu$h is willing to play ball with McCain (a man who knows from experience how much damage this sort of ad can cause to a candidate's campaign when Bu$h used a scurrilous ad against him in South Carolina in 2000) on this issue, and Greg Palast just might be ferreting it out:


Still Unreported: The Pay-off in Bush Air Guard Fix

In 1968, former Congressman George Herbert Walker Bush of Texas, fresh from voting to send other men’s sons to Vietnam, enlisted his own son in a very special affirmative action program, the ‘champagne’ unit of the Texas Air National Guard.  There, Top Gun fighter pilot George Dubya was assigned the dangerous job of protecting Houston from Vietcong air attack.

This week, former Lt. Governor Ben Barnes of Texas 'fessed up to pulling the strings to keep Little George out of the jungle. "I got a young man named George W. Bush into the Texas Air Guard - and I'm ashamed."

That’s far from the end of the story.

In 1994, George W. Bush was elected governor of Texas by a whisker. By that time, Barnes had left office to become a big time corporate lobbyist. To an influence peddler like Barnes, having damning information on a sitting governor is worth its weight in gold – or, more precisely, there’s a value in keeping the info secret. 

Barnes appears to have made lucrative use of his knowledge of our President’s slithering out of the draft as a lever to protect a multi-billion dollar contract for a client.  That's the information in a confidential letter buried deep in the files of the US Justice Department that fell into my hands at BBC television. Here's what happened.

Just after Bush's election, Barnes' client GTech Corp., due to allegations of corruption, was about to lose its license to print money: its contract to run the Texas state lottery. Barnes, says the Justice Department document, made a call to the newly elected governor's office and saved GTech's state contract.

The letter said, "Governor Bush ... made a deal with Ben Barnes not to rebid [the GTech lottery contract] because Barnes could confirm that Bush had lied during the '94 campaign." In that close race, Bush denied the fix was in to keep him out of 'Nam, and the US media stopped asking questions.

THE PAY-OFF

What did the victorious Governor Bush's office do for Barnes? According to the tipster, "Barnes agreed never to confirm the story [of the draft dodging] and the governor talked to the chair of the lottery two days later and she then agreed to support letting GTech keep the contract without a bid." And so it came to pass that the governor's commission reversed itself and gave GTech the billion dollar deal without a bid.

The happy client paid Barnes, the keeper of Governor Bush’s secret, a fee of over $23 million. Barnes, not surprisingly, denies that Bush took care of his client in return for Barnes’ silence.  However, confronted with the evidence, the former Lt. Governor now admits to helping the young George stay out of Vietnam.

Take a look at the letter yourself - with information we confirmed with other sources.

For more on our president’s war years and the $23 million payment, read this excerpt from the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

Frankly, I don’t care if President Bush cowered and ran from Vietnam.  I sure as hell didn’t volunteer … but then, my daddy didn’t send someone else in my place.  And I don’t march around aircraft carriers with parachute clips around my gonads talking about war and sacrifice. More important, I haven't made any pay-offs to silence those who could change my image from war hero to war zero.

"Time Warner Won't Let Us Air This"

By the way: I first reported this story in 1999, including the evidence of payback, in The Observer of London. US media closed its eyes. Then I put the story on British television last year in the one-hour report, Bush Family Fortunes. American networks turned down BBC's offer to run it in the USA. "Wonderful film," one executive told me, "but Time Warner is not going to let us put this on the air."

However, US networks will take cash for advertisements calling Kerry a Vietnam coward.

The good news is, until Patriot Act 3 kicks in, they can't stop us selling the film to you directly. The updated version of Bush Family Fortunes, with the full story you still can't see on your boob tube, will be released next month in DVD. See a preview.


Okay, end of blatant commercializing in this post. Be assured that I don't include this plug without thought. I only included it because there has been excellent information from Palast in the past, and I expect that there is also in this video.

'Blatant Commercializing' is what this active-duty military officer has done - illegally:


Report: Fort McCoy commander's appearance at Bush rally violated rules

The commander of the Army's Fort McCoy,,violated regulations of the military by appearing in uniform at a campaign rally for President Bush in La Crosse May 7, an investigation that was ordered by Brig. Gen. James Kelley, chief of staff of the Army Reserve, has found.

A group called Coulee Region Concerned Citizens, whose members protested against Bush's appearance, had asked for an inquiry because of the hundreds of soldiers from Fort McCoy who were at the rally. The soldiers did not appear in uniform but wore donated T-shirts that identified them as military personnel.

The investigation, overseen by Col. Gustav Kaufmann of the Army Reserve's 84th Training Division in Milwaukee, found that the soldiers' attendance at the rally didn't violate any rules. But the investigation found that Col. Daniel Nobles, Fort McCoy's commander, violated military rules by appearing in uniform on stage near Bush at the rally.

Major Michael Stella, an Army Reserve spokesman, said Nobles faced "personnel actions" that could not be released due to privacy rules. "Participation of soldiers in political activities that associate (the military) with any partisan political campaign or election, candidate, cause or issues, including attendance at political rallies while on duty or in military uniform, is strictly prohibited," Kelley said in a statement.

I wouldn't be holding my breath that anything will happen, for I expect that the 'good' Colonel will be the willing recipient of a generous pResidential pardon for his faux pas.

This is just another example of the corruption and cronyism the defines the Bu$h (mis)Administration. It's enough to make a person take a drastic step in protest - like this man:


GOP Convention Delegate Drops Out Over Bush

One of the 2,509 delegates to the Republican National Conventions has dropped out because of dissatisfaction with President Bush. Congressional Quarterly reported Friday that, after attending four previous conventions, Philadelphia's Jesse Walters was chosen as a delegate to this year's GOP convention in New York - only to resign the position, saying he could not support Bush, and expressing concern with the rightward move of the Republican Party.

Calling the decision to drop his position one of the five hardest he has had to make in his life, Walters said he plans to cast his first-ever vote for a Democrat for president in November.

And our wrong-winger friends still think W is going to win this fall?After reading this next post, they just might want to change their opinions:


Bush's Cuban-American support slips

He won 81 percent of the group's vote in South Florida in 2000, but some are switching sides because of tighter travel restrictions. They say limiting travel, restricting the amount of goods people can bring to their relatives and cracking down on money sent there only hurts their poor relatives in Cuba.

If the presidential race is as tight in Florida as it was four years ago, peeling even a few more Cuban-American voters away from Bush could prove crucial. "Florida is so divided, even losing half a percentage point of the Cuban electorate could tip this election one way or another," said Dan Erikson, director of Caribbean projects at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank.

In May, Bush followed the recommendations of hard-line Miami Cuban exiles and tightened restrictions on Cuba, hoping to strangle President Fidel Castro's fragile economy.

But many Cuban-Americans don't agree with the changes. Standing in line Thursday for her charter flight to Havana, Zaida Fuentes fumed as she thought about President Bush's tougher restrictions on travel to Cuba. "It's not right," she said of the new rule allowing Cuban-Americans to visit their families on the island once every three years instead of once a year. "Everybody has the right to see their family."

The tighter restrictions have created cracks in the once rock-solid support among Cuban-American voters for President Bush, who will hold a campaign rally today [8/27/04] in Miami. Most Cuban-American voters still back Bush, but the president has lost Fuentes. "Before I liked him," Fuentes said of Bush. "But now - forget about it." A lifelong Republican, the 57-year-old retiree has changed her party affiliation to Democrat. She plans to vote for Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kerry in November.

Bush's support in Florida's Cuban-American community has fallen to 66 percent, according to a poll of 812 Cuban-American voters conducted in July by the William C. Velasquez Institute-Mirram Global. The poll underscores that the new Cuba policy has turned some former critics of the Clinton administration into Bush critics.

Jose Basulto, head of Brothers to the Rescue, and Ramon Raul Sanchez, head of the anti-Castro Democracy Movement, have come out against the policy. "We believe that the government is utilizing the Cuban people to harass Castro, and that is unacceptable," Basulto said. After Hurricane Charley hit Cuba, Sanchez wrote to Bush asking for a moratorium on the policy so that Cuban exiles could help their families rebuild. He has not received an answer.

Miami's influential Cuban American National Foundation also has expressed doubts about the new measures, while welcoming Bush's efforts to boost transmission of TV Marti, the federal government's broadcast directed at Cuba. In letters to Bush and Kerry Wednesday, the foundation said Miami Cuban-Americans were "most impatient" for tougher measures against Castro.

Other influential Cuban-American Republicans also have rejected the new measures.

Miami beverage company owner and art collector Carlos de la Cruz called for the White House to reconsider the restrictions on family travel and remittances. He said those are important to building bridges for a future political transition. De la Cruz won't say how he plans to vote in November, but he has met with Kerry more than once. "I support what he's saying on Cuba," de la Cruz said.

Another lifelong Cuban-American Republican, Fernando Amandi, switched his voter registration to become vice chairman of Kerry's campaign finance committee. The 55-year-old retiree and former New York-based Fortune 500 executive recently returned to Miami to campaign for Kerry. Amandi says Cuban-Americans want Castro out but disagree on how to help make that happen. "What these people have is a preconceived notion about the senator," he said, describing how Kerry's critics have claimed Castro would be walking the streets of Miami if he is elected.

Kerry pledges to keep the four decades-old embargo but advocates expanding travel to the island and lifting restrictions on remittances. Kerry has been to Miami twice and will return Sept. 30 for a presidential debate at the University of Miami. Amandi's hopes for Kerry center on what analysts describe as the generational shift in Miami over the last decade, as older, hard-line Cuban-Americans die. But analysts say that while older exiles make up 40 percent of Miami's Cuban-American population, they still represent 67 percent of registered Cuban-American voters.

Among the most affected by the new regulations are travel companies doing business with Cuba. "I'm losing money like you wouldn't believe," said ABC Charters vice president Tessie Aral, who plans to vote for Kerry. The company used to fly eight planes a week to Cuba, with a maximum of 900 passengers and an 80 percent occupancy rate. Now it has three flights and an occupancy rate of 20 percent.

'Pass The Kool-Aid, Please!

Other Cuban-Americans in South Florida say Bush is the only candidate who will bring down Castro. They say the new measures will help Bush win re-election. "They were significant steps in the right direction," said state Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami. "And they are greatly appreciated by the Cuban-American community." This week, Rivera proposed a bill for the 2005 legislative session that would penalize Floridians who travel to Cuba legally by stripping them of food stamps, state health insurance and housing assistance.

Hialeah schoolteacher Lizbet Martinez left Cuba on a raft in 1994 at age 11. She made headlines when she pulled out a violin aboard the Coast Guard cutter that rescued her family and started playing The Star Spangled Banner. She recently went back to Cuba for the first time to visit relatives. Even so, she supports the president's greater restrictions. "We have to accept there are sacrifices for the greater good," she said.

Ninoska Perez, a radio host on one of Miami's most popular Cuban stations, said the only people protesting the changes were making money by ferrying Cuban-Americans to and from the island. "It really has nothing to do with whether you came in 1959 or 1999," she said. "The main goal of everybody should be to end the suffering of the 12-million people in Cuba, not of your own personal family."

For Lester Palma, a 31-year-old respiratory therapist in Miami, the situation is clear: Bush's policy will help dethrone Castro, and that's why Palma will vote for Bush. "Everyone has family over there," Palma said. "But we need to support (the measures) for the greater good. In order for the government to fall, we need to restrict Castro."

Palma talked admiringly about Bush and the evils of Cuba's communist system just before he said goodbye to his parents at the airport. They were boarding Thursday's charter flight to Havana to visit family.

Hypocrite! If he really felt as he claims he does, he would have convinced his parents not to go - but then, saying one thing and doing another is something Republicans are past-masters at!

For instance, they claim to support everyone's right to vote as they strive to prevent people from voting any way they can. We've looked at the electoral shenanigans that have gone on in Florida and Ohio. Now, we can look at California and see why the GOP worked so hard to oust Gray Davis and make room for Der Gobernator:


Election money off-limits to Shelley

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Department of Finance decided to freeze $17.6 million of the money Friday, pending a state audit. Another $17.5 million for counties to upgrade voting machines will be released. "We believe it's a prudent move on our part, given what's come up," said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance. Most of that money would have gone to county elections officials who are racing to hire and train poll workers and voter-education aides in time for the November presidential election.

"It's very much a problem," said Tony Miller, special counsel to Shelley. "With the election 67 days away, the counties need that money immediately to do poll-worker education and monitoring." They also need to implement tough security measures on new electronic voting machines mandated by Shelley's office. Some $5.5 million of the now-frozen money would have gone to that purpose.

State Auditor Elaine Howle said the audit, ordered by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee on Thursday, will take 60 to 90 days to complete. That means the federal money would be released too late to be used for the Nov. 2 election. "All of us feel the end of August is the absolute deadline to get that money or we're going to have to retract how we're going to improve the election process with that money," said Conny McCormack, election registrar in Los Angeles County and head of the association of state election officials.

McCormack's county had hoped to get about $2.5 million in Help America Vote Act funds. Among other things, the money would have been used to train poll workers, hire poll watchers, conduct voter outreach and buy cell phones so each of the county's 4,602 polling places could communicate easily with each other in case of an emergency.

Like intimidating minority voters who aren't likely to vote for George Warmonger Bu$h? Where WOULD I have gotten such an idea! The GOP isn't into intimidation, right?


Bush protester acquitted

A former state representative was acquitted yesterday in a case that tested the police’s authority to remove protesters during a Presidential visit. Judge Clifford Kinghorn said he could not find 83-year-old Betty Hall guilty because she had not substantially interfered with the police’s traffic and pedestrian management efforts, as the state’s criminal code requires for a conviction.

He ruled that Nashua police acted unlawfully when they arrested Hall of Brookline for refusing to back away while protesting President Bush’s last trip to the city in March. Police physically carried her into a squad car after repeatedly pleading with her to leave the designated "safety zone," where Hall sat on a portable stool and propped up a sign reading "Bush is bad for America." Before the President’s motorcade arrived, she was hauled to the Hudson Police Station and charged with disorderly conduct.

Hall, who had earlier defined her case as a matter of civil rights, called the judge’s decision an affirmation of her right to speak freely. "I still live in a free country and a free state," Hall said after the ruling.

The case comes just days before Bush’s expected return to Nashua. Bush is scheduled to campaign Monday at Nashua High School North, where he will be joined by his wife and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. As usual, police are expecting a healthy gathering of protesters. Hall hasn’t made up her mind, but it’s likely she’ll be in the thick of it again come Monday, holding a sign for the President to see. "Chances are excellent that I will," she said.

Deputy Chief Donald Conley of the Nashua Police Department said his officers will enforce the safety zone just as aggressively this time around and will not hesitate to press charges. The difference, he said, will be in the types of charges they press. "There won’t be any additional state charges forthcoming," Conley said, "but there could very well be federal charges as a result of anybody violating the safety zone of the President." Conley said the department would work with the U.S. Marshals office or the Secret Service to ensure they have legitimate grounds for arresting disobedient protesters.

Federal charges? Nope! No intimidation here!

The March 25 arrest was a first for Hall, who has a long record of public service in New Hampshire. Hall served 11 terms in the State House and has held several elected positions in Brookline. Outside the district courthouse, as Hall made her entrance, a pair of supporters displayed signs accusing the police and President Bush of squelching free speech. Inside, Hall found support from more than two-dozen friends and like-minded activists.

Hall’s attorney, Michael Pignatelli, questioned the officers who arrested Hall about their reasons for asking her to relocate. Hall had already complied twice when officers asked her to move back for her own safety, he said. But she had her limits, he said, when the officers asked her to get up yet again after she had already settled on the far side of Amherst Street, about 70 feet from Bush’s expected entrance point to the Nashua Community Technical College. Officer Daniel Mederos said he wanted Hall to move back another 75 or 100 feet, to the limit of the safety zone.

Go, Granny, go Granny, go Granny, go!

Hall walks with the help of a cane and told the officers it would be hard for her to move again, she testified. In any case, she said, it wasn’t fair. "I didn’t think it was lawful to make me move," she told the court. "I was all by myself. I wasn’t threatening anybody."

"Sorry, Ma'am, but you are threatening something - the pResident's 'beautiful mind'!"

But Hall said she didn’t see how Bush could notice them from so far away. "I just feel our country is going down the wrong road, telling people they can’t stand up for what they believe in," Hall said, prompting her supporters in the pews to applaud.

At least the judge didn't cite her for disorderly conduct!

Two other protesters were arrested during Bush’s visit: Howard Morse, 73, of Amherst; and Valerie Farrell, 54, of Merrimack. Whereas Hall initially conceded to police requests to move the protesters, Morse and Farrell resisted from the start. Both are scheduled to face trial in Nashua District Court Sept. 30. Morse, who came to court yesterday to support Hall, said Kinghorn’s ruling yesterday bodes well for his own case. He’ll be out of town when the President returns Monday, though. "I think I made my point," he said.

Good thing that the GOP doesn't intimidate - it might have worked on this guy. But then, as this blogger points out, the GOP doesn't need to intimidate - not when they make up the rules as they go!


Why this election may be decided by the Supreme Court again

I haven't seen anyone writing about this, but it's mind-bogglingly evident. I mentioned last week that Colorado (9 electoral votes) will have an amendment on the ballot that would change the state's electoral vote award from winner-take-all to proportional. What I didn't mention is that the amendment, if passed, specifies that it will take effect in the current election!

Think about it!

If the electoral vote difference is within 9 votes, and if the Colorado amendment passes, there is going to be a legal challenge like no other. Furthermore, the party making the challenge, of course, will be the losing party, and the position they take may be either to affirm or to deny the amendment, depending upon the popular vote outcome.

What this implies is that both parties are going to have lawyers lined up to take either position: that the amendment is or is not valid, and if valid, that it may or may not take effect for the current election.

Let's say that Kerry wins 271 to 267 and that Bush barely carries Colorado, which gives him 5 votes under the proportional system. But under winner-take-all Bush gets 9 votes, changing the tally to 267 to 271 in favor of Bush.

As in Florida, the Colorado Supreme Court will be called upon to rule on the validity of the amendment, but whichever way the court rules, you may be sure that the party losing under that ruling will take the matter on to the U.S. Supreme Court. My hunch is that the Supremes will let the Colorado Supreme Court ruling stand, but then who could have guessed their action in the last election.

Who would have guessed? Only those who understood the stakes - and the players. In 2000, we made certain assumptions that we now know in 2004 were way off the mark. I don't think it will be quite so easy for the GOP to take it one more time - and not without repercussions, either.


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pessimist :: 7:27 AM :: Comments (0) :: Digg It!