jfmgmng The Memory Hole By Paul Krugman New York Times August 6, 2002 " When I first reported this remark, angry readers accused me of inventing it. Mr. Bush, they said, is a decent man who would never imply that the nation's woes had taken him off the hook, let alone make a joke out of it."
Winston Smith, the protagonist of George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four," was a rewrite man. His job was to destroy documents that could undermine the government's pretense of infallibility, and replace them with altered versions.
Lately, Winston Smith has gone to Washington. I'm sure that lots of history is being falsified as you read this -- there are several three-letter agencies I don't trust at all -- but two cases involving the federal budget caught my eye.
First is the "Chicago line." Shortly after Sept. 11, George W. Bush told his budget director that the only valid reasons to break his pledge not to run budget deficits would be if the country experienced recession, war or national emergency. "Lucky me," he said. "I hit the trifecta."
When I first reported this remark, angry readers accused me of inventing it. Mr. Bush, they said, is a decent man who would never imply that the nation's woes had taken him off the hook, let alone make a joke out of it.
Soon afterward, the trifecta story became part of Mr. Bush's standard stump speech. It always gets a roar of appreciative laughter from Republican audiences.
So what's the Chicago line? In his speeches, Mr. Bush claims to have laid out the criteria for running a deficit when visiting Chicago during the 2000 campaign. But there's no evidence that he said anything of the sort during the campaign, in Chicago or anywhere else; certainly none of the reporters who were with him can remember it. (The New Republic, which has tracked the claim, titled one of its pieces "Stop him before he lies again.") In fact, during the campaign his budget promises were unqualified, for good reason. If he had conceded that future surpluses were not guaranteed, voters might have wondered whether it was wise to lock in a 10-year tax cut.
About that 10-year tax cut: It basically takes place in two phases. Phase I, which has mainly happened already, is a smallish tax cut for the middle class. Phase II, which won't be completed until 2010, is a considerably larger cut that goes mostly to the richest 1 percent of taxpayers.
That two-phase structure offers substantial opportunities for misdirection. If someone suggests reconsidering future tax cuts, the administration can accuse him of wanting to raise taxes in a recession -- implying, falsely, that he wants to reverse Phase I rather than simply call off Phase II. On the other hand, if someone says that tax cuts have worsened the budget picture, the administration can say that tax cuts explain only 15 percent of the move into deficit. This sounds definitive, but in fact it refers only to the impact of Phase I on this year's budget; by the administration's own estimates, 40 percent of the $4 trillion deterioration in the 10-year outlook is due to tax cuts.
There is, however, an art to this sort of deception: you have to imply the falsehood without actually saying it outright. Last month the Office of Management and Budget got sloppy: it issued a press release stating flatly that tax cuts were responsible for only 15 percent of the 10-year deterioration. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noticed, and I reported it here.
Now for the fun part. The O.M.B. reacted angrily, and published a letter in The Times attacking me. It attributed the misstatement to "error," and declared that it had been "retracted." Was it?
It depends on what you mean by the word "retract." As far as anyone knows, O.M.B. didn't issue a revised statement, conceding that it had misinformed reporters, and giving the right numbers. It simply threw the embarrassing document down the memory hole. As Brendan Nyhan pointed out in Salon, if you go to the O.M.B.'s Web site now, you find a press release dated July 12 that is not the release actually handed out on that date. There is no indication that anything has been changed, but the bullet point on sources of the deficit is gone.
Every government tries to make excuses for its past errors, but I don't think any previous U.S. administration has been this brazen about rewriting history to make itself look good. For this kind of thing to happen you have to have politicians who have no qualms about playing Big Brother; officials whose partisan loyalty trumps their professional scruples; and a press corps that, with some honorable exceptions, lets the people in power get away with it.
Lucky us: we hit the trifecta.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)
By William Rivers Pitt t r u t h o u t | Opinion Thursday, 27 June, 2002 http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/06.28B.pitt.child.htm
American journalist Gail Sheehy once described the secret of leadership as the habit of action one develops after facing the tests of a lifetime. As a person handles whatever fate throws at them, a pattern of reaction becomes clear. It amounts to the quality of a person's integrity under the onslaught of the inevitable slings and arrows. A good leader's habit of action will carry them across rough passages. A bad leader will make those passages all the rougher. A fool will lay waste to everything with a stupid look fixed to their face.
Even at this late hour, it would be well for America to contemplate the habits of action displayed by George W. Bush. The voters will not be afforded the opportunity to make any substantial adjustments until 2004, and it must be duly noted that all the necessary data has been available for years. Yet here is the man they call the President, and on the shoulders of his rule tilts the fate of the world. What have we learned about him since the beginning of his movement through the crucible of leadership?
Bush often enjoyed touting himself as a leader in education reform before the necessities of war overcame him. He was fortunate enough to receive the opportunity to be educated at Harvard and Yale, thanks to the financial resources and powerful connections of his family. With this opportunity laid out before him, the Education President worked just hard enough to earn the C average he has since boasted of.
With Harvard MBA in hand, he went on to run a number of businesses - Arbusto, Spectrum 7, Bush Exploration and Harken - straight into the ground. It seems the business school lessons absorbed by Enron and Arthur Andersen executives were the same ones Bush doodled through during his student years. He did what they did, but on a much smaller scale. Imagine what he might have accomplished had he earned straight As?
Mr. Bush described his personal politics as being located within the precepts of something called "compassionate conservatism." As a clear definition of this has never been forthcoming, one must extrapolate the meaning of compassion by observing how Mr. Bush promulgates it in his work.
Certainly, compassion must encompass mercy. It is, therefore, a curious parsing of the word when mercy is not present. While Governor, Bush was presented with a plea for mercy from a woman on Texas' death row named Karla Faye Tucker. He refused to commute her sentence, as did former Arkansas governor Clinton when he was presented with a plea for mercy from a mentally damaged man on death row named Rickey Ray Rector.
Clinton never boasted of his decision to let Rector die, nor did he mock Rector's pleas for mercy. In an interview for Talk Magazine from August of 1999, however, Bush was more than willing to ridicule Tucker, who had aired her plea during a CNN interview. When asked by Talk to recount Tucker's plea, Bush pinched his face into a parody of tearful fear and whimpered, "Please...don't kill me." He then smiled and chuckled to himself. The humor of the situation was lost on many.
No President since FDR has been required to address the grave concerns that face Mr. Bush at this point in history. How he has dealt with current realities affords a perspective on his habits of action in this regard. After all, 3,000 American civilians and soldiers died in violence on September 11th, and thousands of Afghan civilians joined them in the aftermath. These are serious times, to say the least.
Mr. Bush has been traveling the GOP fundraising circuit in recent months. During his frequent stops, he often recalls the promise he claims to have made during the campaign: He would not allow the federal budget to slip into deficit unless and until the rise of war, recession or national emergency. After a greatd eal of research performed by a variety of journalists, no one has been able to pinpoint exactly when during the campaign Bush made this promise. Yet in several speeches made at these fundraisers, Bush has pointedly referred to the promise.
In horse racing, a trifecta is achieved when the bettor correctly chooses the first three horses to cross the finish line. Hitting the trifecta at the track is a most lucrative happenstance, and is considered to be extraordinarily lucky. Mr. Bush appears to have spent some time betting on the ponies, for he has parlayed war, recession and national emergency into a trifecta joke that never fails to elicit laughter from the audiences at those Republican fundraisers.
"You know, when I was running for President, in Chicago, somebody said, would you ever have deficit spending?" commented Bush at one of these fundraisers. "I said, only if we were at war, or only if we had a recession, or only if we had a national emergency. Never did I dream we'd get the trifecta." Delivered with that trademark smirk twisting his features, Mr. Bush made it clear to his audience that he was fishing for giggles, and he got them.
Bush repeated this joke fifteen different times between September of 2001 and June of 2002, using almost exactly the same language each time. Making a joke once about death, war and national catastrophe could be chalked up to nothing more than a rhetorical misfire by a man famous for mangling his scripts. Fifteen repetitions, however, makes it a standing part of his routine. The fact that this joke is used while he is asking for money makes it all the more unseemly.
Habits of action become clear after a time on this ground. When presented with the opportunity to receive an expensive education available only to a select few, Bush did just enough cross the threshold of average. When presented with business opportunities, he failed to capitalize. When presented with instances of woe and suffering, in the guise of Karla Faye Tucker and the murder of thousands of Americans, he resorted to crass jokes that fly in the face of any semblance of decency.
Bush's vision for America and this war can be shocking at times. Consider his solution for the sensation of horror that ripped through the populace after 9/11: "We need to counter the shock wave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates." Delivered on October 4th, less than a month after the Towers came down, Bush saw fit to exploit the national trauma by pushing more tax cuts for companies like Enron.
Consider his delineation of America's reasoning for making war on terror: "One of the great goals of this nation's war is to restore public confidence in the airline industry, is to tell the traveling public: 'Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots. Go down to Disney World in Florida, take your families and enjoy life the way we want it to be enjoyed.'" After revelations that our intelligence services were aware of serious terrorism threats in the months before 9/11, Bush claimed that security was not elevated because of the harm it would do to the airline industry. These comments from September 27, coupled with the massive bailout he engineered for the industry, demonstrate an odd set of priorities.
Bush heralded the passage of the PATRIOT Anti- Terror Act by proclaiming, "We're an open society, but we're at war. The enemy has declared war on us and we must not let foreign enemies use the forms of liberty to destroy liberty itself." Considering the manner in which the Act burns holes through our Constitution and Bill of Rights, Mr. Bush seems to be right on course. The enemy cannot destroy our freedoms when we willingly tear them up ourselves.
Families of 9/11 victims have been rallying on the Capitol steps for an independent investigation into how and why these attacks could have possibly taken place. They seek a hard look into the inner workings of our intelligence services to ensure that nothing like 9/11 can ever happen again. These families should have listened to promises made by Mr. Bush on September 26, 2001. "In order to make sure that we're able to conduct a winning victory, we've got to have the best intelligence we can possibly have," said Bush. "And my report to the nation is we've got the best intelligence we can possibly have." It is certain such strong and truthful words will help them overcome their grief and outrage, even if no one can quite understand what a "winning victory" is.
Bush's habits of action continue to develop. There are definite patterns to be seen. One cannot entirely fault him for being unsure of what to do in a time of war. He missed a golden opportunity to learn of these things by defending his nation as a soldier. Bush was granted a slot in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam conflict, a boon delivered once again by family influence. Records indicate that he simply failed to show up for a great portion of this non-combat duty.
It is too bad. Mr. Bush might have learned a thing or two about leadership in times of conflict had he seen his obligation to the military through to completion. At least he has a sense of humor about it all. Perhaps, under his leadership, America will develop similar habits of action that allow us to find it all worthy of a joke, too.
William Rivers Pitt is a teacher from Boston, MA. His new book, 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence,' will be published soon by Pluto Press.
always listed, throughout his campaign and since, the reasons
why the nation might depart from this policy, reasons he had given
as acceptable for running fiscal deficits: for war, recession,
or emergency. As he said to me in mid-September, "Lucky me.
I hit the trifecta."
(October 16, 2001)
-- no question, I remember when I was campaigning, I said, would
you ever deficit spend? And I said, yes, only if there were a
time of war, or recession, or a national emergency. Never thought
we'd get -- (laughter and applause.) And so we have a temporary
deficit in our budget, because we are at war, we're recovering,
our economy is recovering, and we've had a national emergency.
Never did I dream we'd have the trifecta. (Laughter.)"
(Remarks by the President at Meeting of the Leaders of the Fiscal Responsibility Coalition Room 450 Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building April 16, 2002)
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/04/20020416-8.html. June 14, 2002
Remarks by the President in Texans for Rick Perry Reception
Hyatt Regency Hotel
6:09 P.M. CDT
"You know, when I was one time campaigning in Chicago, a reporter said, would you ever have a deficit? And I said, I can't imagine it, but there would be one if we had a war, or a national emergency, or a recession. (Laughter.) Never did I dream we'd get the trifecta." (Laughter.)
June 13, 2002
President Discusses the Future Technology at White House Forum
Remarks by the President at the 21st Century High Tech Forum / Presidential Hall / Dwight David Eisenhower Executive Office Building, 3:28 P.M. EDT
"I remember campaigning and somebody said, would you ever deficit spend? I said, only if there was a war, or a recession, or a national emergency. (Laughter.) I didn't think we were going to get the trifecta." (Laughter.)
"I remember campaigning and
somebody said, would you ever deficit spend? I said, only if there
was a war, or a recession, or a national emergency. (Laughter.)
I didn't think we were going to get the trifecta. (Laughter.)"
- June 13, 2001, 21st Century High Tech Forum.
-- I remember campaigning in Chicago, and one of the reporters
said, would you ever deficit spend? I said only -- only in times
of war, in times of economic insecurity as a result of a recession,
or in times of national emergency. Never did I dream we'd have
a trifecta. (Laughter.)"
(President Discusses Importance of Homeland Security Department June 7, 2002)
I remember campaigning in Chicago and somebody said, would you
ever spend a deficit? And I said, only if we're at war or we had
a recession or there was a national emergency. Little did I realize
we'd get the trifecta. (Laughter.)"
(President's Remarks at Iowa Republican Dinner March 1, 2002)
in Chicago they said to me, would you ever have deficit spending.
I said, only if there was a war, or a national emergency, or a
recession. Never did I realize we'd get the trifecta. (Laughter.)"
(Remarks by the President at Simon for Governor Luncheon )
we've got budget matters. You know, when I was running for President,
in Chicago, somebody said, would you ever have deficit spending?
I said, only if we were at war, or only if we had a recession,
or only if we had a national emergency. Never did I dream we'd
get the trifecta." (Laughter.)
(Taft for Governor Luncheon, May 10, 2002)
I was campaigning in Chicago and somebody asked me, is there ever
any time where the budget might have to go into deficit? I said
only if we were at war or had a national emergency or were in
recession. Little did I realize we'd get the trifecta. (Laughter.)
But we're fine."
(GOP Luncheon, February 27, 2002)
campaigning in Chicago one time, and the guy said, would you ever
deficit spend? I said, well, only if we were at war, or the country
was in recession, or there was a national emergency. (Laughter.)
I didn't realize we were going to get the trifecta." (Laughter.)
(April 3rd, 2002)
campaigning in Chicago one time and a fellow said, would you ever
allow for deficit spending, would that ever enter your vocabulary?
I said, well, under certain circumstances: only if we're at war
or there was a national emergency or there was a recession. Little
did I realize we'd draw the trifecta."
(Greenville, SC, March 27, 2002)
never forget one time in Chicago when a reporter said, would you
ever deficit spend? And I said, well, only -- only if we were
at war, only if there were a national emergency, or only if there
is a recession. Never did I believe we'd get the trifecta. But
we're dealing with it."
(Remarks at Saxby Chambliss for Senate Dinner - Atlanta, GA, March 27, 2002)
when I was campaigning in Chicago, in the general election, somebody
said, would you ever deficit spend? I said, well, only if we were
at war, or there was a national emergency, or we were in a recession.
Little did I realize we'd get the trifecta."
(March 28, 2002)
when I was campaigning in Chicago one time, they said, would you
ever have a deficit? I said, I hope not. I said, I think it's
important for us to make -- to work hard to have a balanced budget.
But I said, yes, I'd have a deficit if I were the President only
if we were at war, or in a recession, or in times of emergency.
I didn't think I was going to draw the trifecta."
(Remarks at Heather Wilson for Congress Luncheon, April 29th, 2002)
vasvavbzvbd Hitting the Trifecta By Paul Krugman, The New York Times 12.7.01 "Mr. Bush hit the trifecta; the great majority of Americans lost, big time." vasvavbzvb
Shortly after Sept. 11, George W. Bush interrupted his inveighing against evildoers to crack a joke. Mr. Bush had repeatedly promised to run an overall budget surplus at least as large as the Social Security surplus, except in the event of recession, war or national emergency. "Lucky me," he remarked to Mitch Daniels, his budget director. "I hit the trifecta."
Lucky him, indeed. The Enron analogy will soon become a tired clichÈ, but in this case the parallel is irresistible. Enron management and the administration Enron did so much to put in power applied the same strategy: First, use cooked numbers to justify big giveaways at the top. Then, if things don't work out, let ordinary workers who trusted you pay the price. But Enron executives got caught; Mr. Bush believes that the events of Sept. 11 will let him off the hook.
Earlier this year Mr. Bush used projections of vast budget surpluses to push through a huge, 10-year tax cut. Most of that tax cut went to people with incomes of more than $200,000 per year. Now Mr. Daniels tells us that the budget--not just the budget outside Social Security, but the whole enchilada--will be in deficit through 2004. Since the administration's phony budget math ("fuzzy" just doesn't cut it at this point) gets phonier the further you go into the future, this means that we have effectively returned to a state of permanent deficit.
However, with television busy reporting from the caves of Tora Bora, this revelation--which shows that the tax cut was sold on utterly false premises--wasn't even considered headline news.
Administration officials insist that the economic slowdown and the war on terror, not the tax cut, are responsible for the red ink. But this is flatly untrue: antiterror spending is a minor factor, and the persistence of projected deficits into the indefinite future tells us that it's not caused by the recession either.
Anyway, they're missing the point. Opponents of the administration's plan always warned that it was foolish to lock in a giant tax cut on the basis of hypothetical surplus projections. They urged, to no avail, that we wait to see the actual budget results. Now their warnings have proved prophetic ó and ordinary Americans will suffer because they were ignored.
The administration now says that the tax cut was necessary to fight the current recession. But nobody is questioning the $40 billion in rebates actually paid out so far, and few would complain about another round of temporary tax cuts for the year ahead. It's the huge further tax cuts that will take place after 2002 --tax cuts that are now the law of the land --that are the problem. But we're supposed to accept those future cuts as a fait accompli. Hey, Mr. Bush hit the trifecta.
Meanwhile, the return of budget deficits has real, nasty consequences. Prescription drug insurance is, of course, dead. Bolstering Social Security? Don't be silly: payroll tax receipts are being used neither to acquire assets nor to pay down federal debt; instead, they are subsidizing deficits in the rest of the government.
And austerity rules, even in areas you might have thought were of the highest priority. Money to rebuild New York? Sorry, no. The government's own experts say we need $3 billion to guard against bioterrorism? Cut the number in half. Tax cuts are more important.
Meanwhile, state and local governments, savaged both by recession and by new security expenses, are firing teachers and slashing services. How about some revenue-sharing from the feds? Never mind.
Whenever they were asked, voters said that the "compassionate" parts of Mr. Bush's campaign promises--securing Social Security, providing more money for prescription drugs and education---were more important to them than tax cuts. But they were assured that there was enough money for everything. Those assurances were false--but the tax cut is sacrosanct, while the rest is expendable.
Mr. Bush could try to undo some of the damage, by canceling future tax cuts for the top income bracket. Instead, he wants to accelerate those cuts. That's the moral equivalent of the big bonuses Enron gave to executives just days before it went bankrupt.
Horse racing is a zero-sum game; so, it seems, is budget politics. Mr. Bush hit the trifecta; the great majority of Americans lost, big time.
Originally published in The New York Times, 12.7.01
Monday 16 February 2004
"The worst president in our lifetime" is how many Americans view George W. Bush. But Bush is not merely the worst president in recent memory. He's the worst in all US history. And he's won the distinction not on a weakness or two, but in at least nine separate categories, giving him a triple trifecta.
It's a record unmatched by any previous president.
Let's count the ways:
TRIFECTA ONE: Economy, Environment, Education
Until now, Herbert Hoover has been the president most closely associated with economic disaster. He presided over the 1929 stock crash, and choked while the economy collapsed around him.
Bush did not preside over the 2000 Nasdaq crash. But he's turned the biggest federal surplus into history's biggest deficit, which a nervous global banking community sees as a potential weapon of mass fiscal destruction. Bush has lost more jobs than Hoover. A top Bush advisor has called outsourcing "just a new way of doing international trade."
Bush has achieved the economic trifecta by simultaneously collapsing the dollar while gutting the industrial infrastructure and running up gargantuan trade deficits. Even GOP conservatives are petrified over a Bush Blowout that could make the 1930s seem a time of widespread prosperity. With Vice President Dick Cheney saying "deficits don't matter," the administration has introduced a form of "kamikaze economics" entirely new to the American presidency.
Bush's "No Tree Left Standing" attack on Mother Earth has transcended even Ronald Reagan's all-out anti-green assault. More people will ultimately die from the resulting climate chaos, toxic emissions and other eco-fallout than from anything Al Queda could imagine.
Simply put, Bush has trashed not only eco-progress dating back to Richard Nixon, but also the achievements of both Roosevelts, scorching the earth all the way back to US Grant and Yellowstone, our first national park, now being Bushwhacked.
Bush's "No Child Left Behind" scam has imposed massive new costs on state and local school systems with no tangible payback. Even Utah has just said no. Even Reagan's slash and burn of public education has been trumped by an administration for whom the three R's are "Religion, Reaction, and Revelations."
TRIFECTA TWO: Corruption, Constitution, Global Contempt
Until Bush, the friends of Warren G. Harding were the kings of White House sleaze. Nixon and Reagan's made a serious challenge. But with Enron, Halliburton, Bechtel and other Bush funders profiting from the slaughter in Iraq and the decimation of the electric grid and the natural environment, W has captured the crown of public theft.
Richard Nixon's repressive attack on the Vietnam anti-war movement outstripped even the Red Scare excesses of Woodrow Wilson after World War I and those of John Adams after the Revolution. But Bush and Attorney-General John Ashcroft have shredded the Bill of Rights with unprecedented glee. From the Patriot Act, Homeland Security and an escalated drug war, Bush has become George Orwell's Big Brother, making Nixon look like a civil libertarian.
American presidents from Washington to Lincoln to FDR to JFK have been loved around the world. Jimmy Carter, now an ambassador for peace, may have excited the most global contempt by preaching human rights while embracing the brutal Shah of Iran.
But no American president has incited such worldwide hatred as George W. Bush. He has turned the global sympathy from the 9/11 terror attacks into inexpressible rage over the attack on Afghanistan and Iraq, his contempt for the United Nations and his cynical, uncaring arrogance and global ignorance. By blatantly lying to both the United Nations and in the State of the Union, and then unleashing brutal violence, Bush has become the most polarizing president in US history abroad as well as at home.
TRIFECTA THREE: Military madness, Messianic delusion, Macho Matricide
About a dozen US presidents served in the armed forces. Three---Washington, Grant and Eisenhower---are among history's greatest generals. None ever advocated attacking countries that have not attacked us. All honored the firewall between military and civilian rule by avoiding wearing a military uniform while in office.
Bush trashed that tradition with his infamous flight suit. Bill Clinton occupied the short list of presidents known to have dodged the draft. But with an entire cabinet of chickenhawks, Bush gets the Congressional medal for having used his wealth and connections to avoid military service, for likely having gone AWOL and for lying about having ever been in combat. None has heaped such hypocritical praise on American soldiers while slashing their benefits.
Presidents from Washington to Lincoln to the Roosevelts to Reagan have invoked the name of God. Only Bush claims to speak directly to Him and for Him. Only Bush claims to have been elected by Him (the American people certainly didn't do it).
At least since the witch trials of Salem in the 1690s, no other president has ever attempted to impose his personal religion on the nation---or world---as has Bush.
Ronald Reagan ostensibly opposed a women's right to choose, but did little about it. Ditto George H.W. Bush.
But W. has launched an unprecedented crusade against women's rights, affirmative action and a whole range of social legislation supporting equality between the races, genders, communities of preference and classes.
Much more could be said. These modest nine points omit Bush's attacks on organized labor, health insurance, retirement benefits, renewable energy and much much more.
But if you ever have a pinge of doubt about Shrub being the worst president ever, just repeat the phrase "Triple Trifecta" three times. Then go out and organize, organize, organize.
Bush, in the weeks before September
11, pledged to honor the sanctity of the Social Security lockbox
except in the event of recession, war, or a national emergency.
But after "everything changed" on 9/11, he reportedly
gloated to his budget director, Mitch Daniels, "Lucky me--I
hit the trifecta!" At the time, this comment (a variation
of which is being recycled for laughs at current GOP fundraisers)
seemed merely offensive.
But in light of revelations that Bush's August 6 briefing memo was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S.," Bush's "luck" and weird prescience are worth more than passing scrutiny.
Whenever someone is suspected of a crime, investigators look for a motive in addition to actual proof of guilt to determine, a posteriori, whether there was malice aforethought. In cases of criminal negligence, motive must also be deduced, a priori, to answer the question: were preventive failures due to craftiness or mere cluelessness?
The serial apologists of the Bush Is Not Stupid crowd are rather incongruously opting for the latter, this in the wake of the scandal about pre-9/11 failures to issue precisely the kinds of public warnings and security directives that accompanied the also "non-specific" Y2K threats. For now, it is difficult to say who knew what when because the administration is not exactly being forthcoming, preferring instead to use the scandal as an excuse to broaden the FBI's snoop powers. However: there was a potential motive for the administration to sit on perceived terrorist threats.
Think back to the days before 9/11. The topic on everyone's lips (Condit aside) was: what will happen when budget realities force Bush to raid Social Security? He had explicitly promised during his campaign to establish a contingency fund for severe emergencies that would keep Social Security untouched. But the economy was tanking and the costs of the tax cut made the raid inevitable. Even Daniels acknowledged that the government would be forced to tap Social Security to the tune of $14 billion to fund pending legislation. Strangely, Bush kept insisting, "We can work together to avoid dipping into Social Security." But, beginning August 24, he gave himself an escape clause: "I've said that the only reason we should use Social Security funds is in case of an economic recession or war." (Three days earlier he had said that there should be "special consideration" in the budget for these contingencies. Otherwise, this was completely new rhetoric.)
September 4: businessman and commentator Ben Cohen ran a mock "help wanted" ad reading, "Serious enemy needed to justify Pentagon budget increase. Defense contractors desperate." Same day: a CBS poll found that 66 percent of Americans did not think a recession (extant, but not yet confirmed) was reason enough to tap Social Security. September 6: Bush invented another exception. "The only time to use Social Security money is in times of war, times of recession, or times of severe emergency." September 11: he had all three. Lucky Bush.
Then, on the morning of September 12, Bush announced his very first post-9/11 policy move. Because the attacks were "more than acts of terror; they were acts of war, this morning I am sending to Congress a request for emergency funding authority." On cue, pundits like Tim Russert chirped, "Suddenly the Social Security lockbox seems so trivial." Since then the trust fund has been strip-mined to subsidize pork barrel and deficit spending with no political fallout for the president.
These extraordinary coincidences have gone unremarked in the media, who have entirely missed that the terms of the "trifecta"--note that the word connotes something you bet on--was never mentioned until two-and-a-half weeks after Bush's August 6 briefing and days before 9/11. (He has since claimed the 'trifecta' was a campaign promise. This is a lie.) It is sickening to contemplate an administration intentionally looking the other way while terrorists scheme so that whatever havoc they wreak can provide cover for the president to raid Social Security. But we journalists are paid to have strong stomachs, and we should be hardy enough to admit that the scenario is conceivable, for three reasons.
First and most obviously, defense contractors contributed more than $8.7 million to Republican campaigns in 2000. They stood to gain billions from the fallout of a successful terrorist strike.
Second, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill advocated the abolition of Social Security and Medicare in a May 20, 2001 interview with the Financial Times. "Able-bodied adults should save enough on a regular basis so that they can provide for their own retirement, and, for that matter, health and medical needs," he said, adding, "The president is also intrigued about the possibility of fixing this mess."
Third, and by far most importantly, Bush needed to save his presidency, which by August was already in serious danger of sinking into fiscal chaos and one-term ignominy. This is a viable motive. Whether or not Bush or someone in his administration acted on it by winking at hijacking threats remains to be seen.
But it was unsettling, though still inconclusive, to read in the May 17 Washington Post , "Members of congressional committees investigating the pre-Sept. 11 warnings said yesterday that there is far more damaging information that has not yet been disclosed about the government's knowledge of and inaction over events leading up to Sept. 11."
Outrageously, the public is now being told that there aren't sufficient votes in Congress to approve an investigation by a blue ribbon panel. The alternative intelligence committee investigation is only pro forma public anesthesia. It will not do: the committee's oversight role potentially implicates its own members. To clear up all doubts, there must be an independent, public inquiry. It is well past time to insist on a return to open government.
Brad Carlton is an investigative reporter currently living in South Carolina.
Updated for the Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel by Allegro Web Communications on June 12, 2002.
New York Fire Fighter Locals Overwhelmingly Endorse John Kerry for President fbdbsfb FDNY Officers, Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, White Plains Among Over 100 Local Affiliates in the NYSPFFA to Endorse John Kerry http://uk.us.biz.yahoo.com/prnews/040901/dcw035_1.html nnfgsndnd
Wednesday September 1, 2004 1:19 pm ET George Bush failed to direct homeland security funding after 9/11 to high- threat areas, leading to an unexplainable discrepancy in homeland security funding of $5.42 per capita in New York, versus $37.94 for Wyoming* in 2003.
*Wyoming, coincidentally, is Dick Cheney's home state.
He Molests the Dead By Jimmy Breslin Newsday Saturday 06 March 2004
In his first campaign commercial, George Bush reached down and molested the dead.
But this only in keeping with both Bushes. George Bush, Sr., had the badge of officer Eddie Byrne, who was gunned down in South Jamaica, and he stood up at Christ the King High School in Middle Village and held it up and said he would have this badge on him forever. Some chance. Bush then led high school girls into insane cheers for the death penalty.
Now, right off, this second George Bush came up with the badge of a Port Authority cop, George Howard, who died. He was from Hicksville. His mother gave Bush the son's badge. When Bush came back to the trade center a year later, he reached into his pocket and whipped out that badge and he had a tear in his eye. What makes it worse is that this George W. Bush acts like he's entitled to treat the remains of a dead man like a souvenir. Now he shows a commercial with dead bodies, or body parts, covered with an American flag being taken through the smoke and flames of the world trade center attack. It caused people who had lost family members in the attack to complain about using the dead or parts thereof being used for a politician's gain.
"Bush is afraid to let us see the dead being brought back from Iraq," one fire fighter said yesterday.
The ad is nothing more than another George W. Bush fraud. First, arriving at the trade center, he was led by a flunkey to a retired fire fighter, Bob Beckwith, who had come down three days after the attack to take a look. Bush's flacks had Beckwith stand on a destroyed fire engine and Bush came up next to him and Bush put an arm around him and, two heroes, Bush called out "we're tough" to the television cameras.
He had all he wanted out of the place. A picture.
You all saw Bush play dress-up and land on the aircraft carrier and stand there, the helmet under his arm just like an Ace from the top of a bloody sky. The aircraft carrier had to be turned around so the skyline of San Diego wouldn't be seen.
Now he has his world trade center commercial out there and a lot of decent people regard it as an insult.
Right away, Rudolph Giuliani came out to defend him to the death. He said the commercial was true and right to put on because it was "appropriate." He was a nobody as a mayor and in one day he became a hero. This sudden career, this door opening to a room of gold, all started for Rudolph Giuliani when his indestructible bunker in World Trade Center building blew up. He had personally selected it, high in the sky, and with tons of diesel fuel to give emergency power.
And Guiliani walks on. He walks from his bunker, up Barclay Street and went on television. Went on and announced his heroism and then came back every hour or so until he became a star, a great figure, a national hero, the mayor who saved New York.
Most of this comes from these dazed Pekingese of the Press. As this was being written on Friday night, the television announcers kept saying that Martha Stewart would go to a country club federal prison. The fools. Try any jail on any day. At five o'clock, you can't go home. Giuliani was a hero with these news people. He did not pick up a piece of steel or help carry one of the injured off.
He made the trade center his private cathedral. Police commanders were terrified of letting you in. There was only Rudy, who flew his stars, Opra and the like, down to see it. Now he says a Bush ad is "appropriate."
That's Giuliani's word. As the mayor, he had a detective driving one of his girl friends out of the Gracie Mansion driveway while another detective was arriving with another girl friend and was waved off to prevent a domestic riot.
All the while upstairs there were his wife. and children.
Giuliani then showed appropriate behavior by walking in a parade on Fifth Avenue with his girl friend and all the while his children could sit and watch him on television.
How marvelous! It was appropriate to humiliate his children, and now it is appropriate to molest the dead.
Giuliani also had a flunkey, Bernard Kerik, rush on television and say, so earnestly, that the Bush commerical was appropriate. Kerik was a Giuliani campaign chauffeur who became police commissioner. How marvelous! At the world trade center, Kerik was in the back of his car dictating the last part of a book that was going to appear under his name. It had him writhing with delicious excitement. It was about his mother being a prostitute.
"That's what's going to make me all the money," he told a friend of mine.
That is only the start of the Bush campaign. He has plenty of money and unlimited personal cheapness.
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