Wednesday, March 24, 2004
But less than four months after he signed it into law on Dec. 8, Bush's Medicare-reform dream has turned into a nightmare and a potential drag on his bid for re-election.
-- The Bush administration deliberately didn't tell Congress that the measure could cost more than $100 billion more than advertised.
-- House Republican leaders abused House rules to push the measure to a narrow victory. There are also allegations of threats and bribes that are under investigation.
-- The Bush administration spent millions of taxpayer dollars on public service TV ads touting the Medicare reform law that look suspiciously like Bush campaign commercials. Those, too, are now under investigation.
-- Polls show that a majority of Americans don't like the Medicare reforms.
"It's something that's eating away at the credibility of the administration in an election year on a bill that he (Bush) thought was a building block for his re-election," said Stephen Hess, a political analyst for the Brookings Institution, a centrist think tank, and a former aide to President Eisenhower.
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The image of the United States is as negative as it was a year before, and even in the UK, arguably the closest ally of the US, approval of the world's lone superpower "tumbled".
And while the Pew Global Attitudes Project showed slight improvement in attitudes in the Muslim world towards the US, a great divide still exists.
And the report showed that those negative attitudes toward the US will fuel support for continued attacks against Americans.
Against All Enemies, released Monday, had an announced first printing of 300,000 copies and an additional 100,000 already have been ordered, according to the Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Anti-Bush books have been popular since last fall, when liberal pundits Al Franken, Joe Conason and Molly Ivins were among those with best sellers. Now the best sellers are being written by historians such as Phillips and former Bush officials such as Clarke.
"Conservative books still sell, but liberals are in the same place where conservatives were during the Clinton administration. They're not in power and they have extremely strong feelings about Bush."
Books unfavorable to Bush will continue coming out, including Worse Than Watergate, by John W. Dean, a former aide to President Nixon, and The Politics of Truth, by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who has criticized the White House's uses of intelligence before the Iraq war.
This fall, a book on the Bush family is due from Kitty Kelley, known for her gossipy best sellers about Nancy Reagan and Frank Sinatra. Former President Clinton's autobiography is also expected some time this year.
The former Vermont governor announced his plans Thursday for a new organization, Democracy for America, in an effort to channel the momentum from his now-defunct Dean for America presidential campaign into helping other Democratic candidates take back the White House and Congress.
'You have the power to make this new organization matter and to use it to change America,' he told an eager crowd in Seattle after outlining his plan to continue promoting his progressive, grass-roots agenda. 'You have the power to take back Washington for ordinary Americans and make this country great again. Let's make it happen, starting right here, right now.' "
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Here are a few pics I took this saturday in Los Angles M20. It was a good day.
Visit BBC News for more pictures from around the world.
Friday, March 19, 2004
17 March 2004 | Slate | Colo. Soldier Back from Iraq Kills Self:
MONUMENT, Colo. (AP) -- A Special Forces soldier shot himself to death during a confrontation with police about three weeks after he returned from Iraq, authorities said.
Chief Warrant Officer William Howell was following his wife around the front yard with a handgun when officers arrived Sunday night in response to a 911 call from the woman. When police officers ordered him to drop his weapon, Howell shot himself, authorities said.
A police officer also fired, hitting Howell in the right arm, Monument police Sgt. Richard Tudor said. An autopsy showed Howell was killed by his own bullet.
Howell's wife was treated for a head injury. Three children inside the home were not hurt.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Department and the Army are investigating Howell's death, and the district attorney's office is investigating whether the officer was justified in shooting Howell.
Howell, 36, was a Green Beret assigned to Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs.
02 Feb 2004 | Slate | Why is the White House underfunding armored Humvees?:
You've read the story countless times: An American convoy in Baghdad or Fallujah or Tikrit is attacked; a GI is killed and others are wounded. Nearly all those convoys include the all-purpose Humvee, which, it is becoming clear, lacks sufficient armor. Many feature no more than canvas roofs and doors. "We're kind of sitting ducks in the vehicles we have," one lieutenant colonel told Newsday.
The Army has acknowledged that it miscalculated the intensity of the guerrilla war in Iraq and subsequently goofed on the number of armored Humvees it needed. "We do not have as many armored Humvees as we would like," the Army's vice chief of staff testified before Congress in late September.
So how is the White House proposing to deal with this? By underfunding the program to armor Humvees.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
16 March 2004 | San Francisco Gate | Fear of terrorist attack grows in countries involved in Iraq after Madrid strike:
From Poland to Australia, countries with troops in Iraq fear they could be the next terrorist target as signs increase that Islamic extremists were behind last week's carnage in Spain.
Take Poland, once isolated behind the Iron Curtain and now a key U.S. ally in Iraq: Security officials here acknowledge they have virtually no experience dealing with terrorism, and leaders are warning citizens to wake up to the threat.
Honduras will withdraw its 370 troops from the Spanish brigade in June -- two months before they and 380 sent by Central American neighbor El Salvador were to return home.
Spanish investigators have arrested several suspects including a man linked to the alleged leader of the country's al-Qaida cell. European intelligence agencies are also trying to identify a purported al-Qaida operative who claimed in a videotape that the group carried out the bombings to punish Spain's backing of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Monday, March 15, 2004
15 March 2004 | This is London | Spanish troops to pull out:
Tony Blair and George Bush's Iraq coalition was in crisis today as Spain summoned back all its 1,300 troops.
"The Spanish troops in Iraq will come home," declared José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero after surging to a shock election victory on the back of the Madrid train bombings.
His decision came as a heavy blow to Mr Blair and President Bush at a critical moment, with only months before the deadline for handing power back to the Iraqi people.
Spain under former premier José Maria Aznar had been Mr Blair's most solid European ally in the Iraq invasion and the war against terrorism. But voters turned their back on Mr Aznar after the horror of the Madrid rush-hour slaughter in which 200 people were killed and 1,500 injured.
Mr Blair was desperately hoping to persuade Mr Zapatero to change his mind, in a congratulatory phone call this lunchtime. However, with ministers conceding that al Qaeda terrorism had succeeded in changing an election result, the fear was that the killers may strike in Britain during the next general election campaign, expected next year.
Sunday, March 14, 2004
MADRID, Spain (AP)--The opposition Socialists scored a dramatic upset win in Spain's general election Sunday, unseating conservatives stung by charges they provoked the Madrid terror bombings by supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq and making Spain a target for al-Qaida.
It was the first time a government that backed the Iraq war has been voted out of office. Incoming prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has pledged to bring home the 1,300 troops Spain has stationed in Iraq when their tour of duty ends in July.
Rodriguez Zapatero began his victory speech with a minute of silence for those killed in the terror attacks.
"Today voters have said they want a change of government,'' Rodriguez Zapatero said.
Pre-election polls had favored the ruling party to win handily.
But on election day voters expressed anger with the government, accusing it of provoking the Madrid attacks by supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which most Spaniards opposed.
The government had insisted that its prime suspect in Thursday's rail bombings was the armed Basque separatist group ETA, even as evidence mounted of an Islamic link in the railway bombings, which killed 200 people and wounded 1,500.
The government was accused of withholding information on the investigation to save the election.
Throughout Sunday, voters said they lost faith in the ruling party, in power since 1996.
Friday, March 12, 2004
Tuesday March 9, 2004 | Knight Ridder Newspapers | CIA director disputes Cheney assertions on Iraq:
WASHINGTON - CIA Director George Tenet on Tuesday rejected recent assertions by Vice President Dick Cheney that Iraq cooperated with the al-Qaida terrorist network and that the administration had proof of an illicit Iraqi biological warfare program.
Tenet's comments to the Senate Armed Services Committee are likely to fuel friction between the White House and intelligence agencies over the failure so far to find any of the banned weapons stockpiles that President Bush, in justifying his case for war, charged Saddam Hussein with concealing.
Tenet at first appeared to defend the administration, saying that he didn't believe the White House misrepresented intelligence provided by the CIA.
The administration's statements, he said, reflected a prewar intelligence consensus that Saddam had stockpiled chemical and biological weapons and was pursuing nuclear bombs.
But under sharp questioning by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Tenet reversed himself, saying there had been instances when he had warned administration officials that they were misstating the threat posed by Iraq.
Tuesday March 9, 2004 | TheGuardian UK | Just who is Karl Rove?:
The Brains Behind Bush & Co.
By Julian Borger
He masterminded George Bush's transformation from boozing brat to national leader, and has been called the most powerful adviser in the White House. Now Karl Rove is in charge of the $150m campaign to re-elect Bush. Who is the man the president calls his 'boy genius'?
Saturday, March 06, 2004
Here are some more pic's of creative people Bush has pissed off.
BUSH IN L.A. (by ANNA for LAIMC Thursday March 04, 2004 08:55 AM)
Driving into the fray of downtown rush hour traffic late after leaving my day job, I first came upon activists on a street corner a block or so away from the Shrine. There they were, aiming signs at the traffic that made their dissatisfaction with the policies of the current administration clear. The first sign I saw said, “Drop Bush not Bombs,” and I knew I was in the right place.
Wednesday, March 3, 2004. The Internet is burning with news of the Haitian Coup while the New York and L.A. Times scream the lie that there was no coup in the face of a world that knows the truth, the Venezuelan government has just accused the U.S. Government of spending unmentionable amounts of money to overthrow it’s Democratically elected government, Afghanistan is a shambles, Iraq is in utter chaos, people are suffering and living in misery all over the world to support the excesses of the United States, and Bush is in L.A. campaigning for a presidency slash emperorship he feels entitled to.
I am in awe of the blatant denial. Is it conscious? Does this guy know what he’s doing? Is there any awareness at all? It’s hard to believe anybody can be so clueless. Does he really think, in true ostrich tradition, that if he acts like it’s not happening nobody else will really notice? Does he think he can pull it off?
The several hundred people I see standing on the sidewalk chanting and wielding signs protesting the current policies don’t think so. And neither do the people driving by honking their support. I have to smile as I realize that people are getting it; people are catching on, and I feel hopeful. I love the spirit here. Yeah, there’s a battle to be fought; and people know it, having come here after hard workdays to stand in the street. But the spirit is high and festive. People are smiling and even the beat cops keeping an eye on things seem to have more a spirit of cooperation than of aggression towards the crowd, smiling and helping me out with parking advice.
This perception of the friendly neighborhood beat cop wasn’t to last long however; changing abruptly when the crowd marched around the block, supposedly to intercept the Pres’s motorcade and was met with a gaggle of soldier/coplets, complete in militia style riot gear with real scary looking weapons at the ready. There they were, standing in an intimidating geometric pattern in the middle of the street looking fierce and full of testosterone. You have to wonder what they’re thinking; standing there looking more like action figures than humans.
The activists, used by now to these displays were not in the least daunted and maintained their upbeat spirits; flashing peace signs at the automatons. Who knows; maybe one or two of them will get it. One can only hope.
If there were any limocades I didn’t see them; the pres probably left from a different exit. So the crowd marched back to the original space after listening to a few announcements from the organizers. Spirits were good and there was a sense of making a mark.
The next major worldwide demo will be on March 20; check with ANSWER and the Indymedia calendar at this site for more info about that and other ongoing vigils and demos.
Friday, March 05, 2004
March 3, 2004 | The Onion | Jesus Demands Creative Control Over Next Movie:
HOLLYWOOD, CA—After watching Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ Monday, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ announced that He will demand creative control over the next film based on His life.
"I never should have given Mel Gibson so much license," said Christ, the Son of God. "I don't like to criticize a member of the flock, but that close-up of the nails being pounded into My wrists—that was just bad."
Our Lord did not limit His criticisms to Gibson's Passion; He expressed frustration with historical inaccuracies in numerous film adaptations of His life.
"There have been a lot of films based on My life, and pretty much all of them have gotten it wrong," Christ said. "Just look at Godspell—what the heck was going on there? It's time I reclaim My image."
Christ said He considered returning to the physical world to make an accurate film depiction of His life for years, but seeing The Passion prompted Him to finally descend from heaven, meet with His agent Ronald Thatcher, and demand that He be attached as a producer on any future projects.
"Ron has a history of telling Me that the filmmakers 'totally understand' the Word Of God, and that the project is going to be 'fabulous,'" Christ said. "But when it comes out, it's all wrong, and Ron claims everything fell apart in post-production. At that point, there's nothing left for Me to do but say, 'Okay, fine. I forgive you all.' Well, next time, I'll be shepherding the project through from casting to final edit to marketing."
Describing one of His biggest complaints, Christ said that no film about His life has ever "made the apostles pop."
Thursday, March 04, 2004
March 4, 2004; 5:11 PM | Washington Post | Some 9/11 Relatives Angered by Bush Ads:
WASHINGTON - President Bush's campaign commercials - on the air just one day - have angered several relatives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and a firefighters union that has endorsed Democratic rival John Kerry demanded the ads be pulled.
The White House defended the commercials, which show images of the skeletal remains of the World Trade Center and firefighters bearing a stretcher through the rubble.
"It makes me sick," said Colleen Kelly, who lost her brother Bill Kelly Jr., in the attacks and leads a victims families group called Peaceful Tomorrows. "Would you ever go to someone's grave site and use that as an instrument of politics? That truly is what Ground Zero represents to me."