Highlights of This Page
Bush lies by telling reporter that no one in his administration ever suggested that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. House Intelligence Committee issues "outrageous," "erroneous" report on Iran's nuclear capabilities and intentions. Rumsfeld compares war critics to Nazi appeasers.
See my Update Information page for an explanation of why this and other pages between September 2004 and September 2006 are not yet complete.
- August 3: Conservative radio host Neal Boortz displays his compassion for working-poor Americans trapped in minimum-wage jobs: "I want you to think for think for a moment of how incompetent and stupid and worthless, how -- that's right, I used those words -- how incompetent, how ignorant, how worthless is an adult that can't earn more than the minimum wage? You have to really, really, really be a pretty pathetic human being to not be able to earn more than the human wage. Uh -- human, the minimum wage." (MediaMatters)
- August 7: Conservative talk show host Michael Savage (Michael Weiner) engages in a tremendously offensive anti-Semitic rant against CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Larry King: "That's why the department store dummy named Wolf Blitzer, a Jew who was born in Israel, will do the astonishing act of being the type that would stick Jewish children into a gas chamber to stay alive another day. He's probably the most despicable man in the media next to Larry King, who takes a close runner-up by the hair of a nose. The two of them together look like the type that would have pushed Jewish children into the oven to stay alive one more day to entertain the Nazis." (MediaMatters)
- August 8: The American Bar Association calls on Bush and future presidents not to use "signing statements" to justify ignoring or flaunting the law of the land, and urges Congress to pass legislation designed to help the courts stop the illegal practice.
The unanimous resolution by the ABA's House of Delegates follows its June report that found signing statements such as those used by Bush to be unconstitutional power grabs. Under the Constitution, the report says, presidents have only two options when presented with a bill Congress has passed: sign it and enforce all its components, or veto it. In its resolution, the ABA declares that it "opposes, as contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers, the misuse of presidential signing statements by claiming the authority...to disregard or decline to enforce all or part of a law the president has signed, or to interpret such a law in a manner inconsistent with the clear intent of Congress." The ABA also urges Congress to pass a law giving the courts greater jurisdiction to review signing statements in which a president asserts that some parts of a bill unconstitutionally infringe on his executive powers and need not be obeyed; Republican senator Arlen Specter has already filed such a bill.
- Michael Greco, the outgoing president of the ABA, explains that the resolution is intended to protect the American system of checks and balances that divides power between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. "We're not saying a president doesn't have the right to express his opinion about what is constitutional," Greco says. "But what he doesn't have is the awesome power of declaring something unconstitutional and not enforcing it -- of accruing under himself the powers of all three branches." The ABA's Neal Sonnett says, "No president is above the law, and the president cannot decide to enforce a law or not to enforce a law at his whim."
- Some liberal law experts, such as Harvard's Laurence Tribe, wanted the ABA to go farther than it did and focus its criticism on Bush for his use of signing statements to advance a controversial view of his own powers. (Boston Globe)
- August 8: Fox News trumpets the following headlines during their broadcast: "A Lamont Win, Bad News for Democracy in Mideast?" "Have the Democrats Forgotten the Lessons of 9/11?" "Is the Democratic Party Soft on Terror?" (MediaMatters)
- August 9: Conservative commentator Ann Coulter explains why Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters supports Connecticut Democrat Ned Lamont over "independent" Joseph Lieberman in explicitly racist terms: "Congresswoman Maxine Waters had parachuted into Connecticut earlier in the week to campaign against Lieberman because he once expressed reservations about affirmative action, without which she would not have a job that didn't involve wearing a paper hat. Waters also considers Joe 'soft' on the issue of the CIA inventing crack cocaine and AIDS to kill all the black people in America." (MediaMatters)
- August 10: Syndicated columnist and Fox News host Cal Thomas says of Ned Lamont's victory over Joseph Lieberman in Connecticut's Democratic primary for the US Senate, "It completes the capture of the Democratic Party by its Taliban wing. ...[T]hey have now morphed into Taliban Democrats because they are willing to 'kill' one of their own, if he does not conform to the narrow and rigid agenda of the party's kook fringe." (MediaMatters)
- August 14: Headline during a Fox News broadcast discussing the Iraq war: "The #1 President on Mideast Matters: George W Bush?" (MediaMatters)
- August 16: Headline during a Fox News broadcast discussing the war on terror: "Is the Liberal Media Helping to Fuel Terror?" (MediaMatters)
Bush lies by telling reporter that no one in his administration ever suggested that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11
- August 21: Bush makes one of the most astonishing statements of his career as president when he flatly asserts, "nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack[s]" on 9/11. It is one of the most brazen lies of his presidency. A Toledo Blade editorial chronicles a raft of statements by him and his officials which stauchly declare that yes, indeed, Hussein was involved in 9/11. Bush said October 7, 2002, "We know that Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al-Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. ...We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases." In his January 2003 State of the Union address, Bush said, "And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda." In his "Mission Accomplished" photo op of May 1, 2003, he said, "In the war on terror, Iraq is now the central front." Dick Cheney was even more specific: In 2003, the vice president claimed that the government was learning "more and more" about links, before 9/11, between Iraq and al-Qaeda. This came even after the CIA had debunked any such claims. In 2004, Cheney said flatly that Hussein "had long-established ties with al-Qaeda." The Blade writes, "Now, you can argue all day about whether faulty US intelligence misled Mr. Bush, or about what the meaning of 'suggested' is, but this much is clear: The administration relentlessly blurred what was a clear distinction between the militantly secular regime of Saddam and Islamic extremists like the 9/11 hijackers so as to create a laser-beam connection in the public mind that they were one and the same. So for Mr. Bush to now claim that 'nobody has ever suggested' that the September 11 attacks were ordered by Iraq, as he did last week, is yet another lie in the chain of mendacity that shackles the Bush presidency." (White House, www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2006608310321)
House Intelligence Committee issues "outrageous," "erroneous" report on Iran's nuclear capabilities and intentions
- August 23: The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Subcommittee on Intelligence Policy, chaired by Republican Pete Hoekstra, releases a report entitled, "Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat." The report is based on unsubstantiated public reports, and is widely considered to be a transparent attempt to force a conclusion that Iran is an active threat to the United States. Some of the information may have been obtained by Hoekstra during his 2005 meetings with Iranian arms dealer and consummate liar Manucher Ghorbanifar.
- Shortly after the report is issued, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) slams the report, calling it "outrageous and dishonest," saying that it contains "erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated information," and refuting its central claims with hard evidence. IAEA officials are particularly incensed at a vicious little innuendo in the report that says the agency's head, Mohammed ElBaradei, has an "unstated" policy that prevents UN inspectors from revealing the truth about Iran's nuclear program. ElBaradei is a recent Nobel Peace Prize winner for his efforts at slowing nuclear proliferation.
- "This is like prewar Iraq all over again," says former UN weapons inspector David Albright. "You have an Iranian nuclear threat that is spun up, using bad information that's cherry-picked and a report that trashes the inspectors." Some committee Democrats, who had little input on the report, believe the report is being issued in part to undermine Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has recently advocated more serious attempts at diplomacy with Iran.
- Middle East expert Juan Cole calls the report "riddled with errors" and little more than "neoconservative propaganda" and "wild fantasies." He cites several examples. "On page 9, the report alleges that 'Iran is currently enriching uranium to weapons grade using a 164-machine centrifuge cascade at this facility in Natanz.' This is an outright lie. Enriching to weapons grade would require at least 80% enrichment. Iran claims...2.5 per cent. See how that isn't the same thing? See how you can't blow up anything with 2.5 percent? The claim is not only flat wrong, but it is misleading in another way. You need 16,000 centrifuges, hooked up so that they cascade, to make enough enriched uranium for a bomb in any realistic time fame, even if you know how to get the 80 percent! Iran has...164. See how that isn't the same?" The IAEA confirms Cole's assessment.
- Cole also notes that the report cherrypicks earlier reports by the IAEA, citing only the parts of the IAEA report that criticize Iran and leaving out its core conclusion from a March 2003 report: "After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq." It also fails to mention that in January 2006, the IAEA found, "Iran has continued to facilitate access under its Safeguards Agreement as requested by the Agency, and to act as if the Additional Protocol is in force, including by providing in a timely manner the requisite declarations and access to locations."
- The report goes on to massively misrepresent the strength and number of Iran's missile stockpile, even claiming that Iran possesses the Shahab-4 medium-range missile, which it does not. In all, Cole concludes, "we are being set up again."
- 27-year CIA veteran Ray McGovern calls the committee report "Hoekstra's hoax," characterizing it as an "unusually slick" piece of well-marketed, PR-savvy misdirection. He notes that Hoekstra, who invited real intelligence professionals to discuss the report's content "as a courtesy," ignored the conclusions of the US intelligence community, and contradicts virtually every finding of the CIA and other agencies in his report. Both McGovern and Cole note that the report was written primarily by Frederick Fleitz, a protege and former underling of John Bolton when Bolton was Undersecretary of State. Fleitz is a former CIA analyst, and for him to produce such a report is, in McGovern's words, "even more inexcusable. CIA analysts, particularly those on detail to policy departments, have no business playing the enforcer of policy judgments; they have no business conjuring up 'intelligence around the policy.'" McGovern concludes, "Hoekstra's release of this paper is another sign pointing in the direction of a US attack on Iran. Tehran is now being blamed not only for inciting Hezbollah but also for sending improvised explosive devices (IEDs) into Iraq to kill or maim US forces. There is yet another, if more subtle, disquieting note about the paper. It bears the earmarks of a rushed job, with very little editorial scrubbing. There are misplaced modifiers, and verbs often do not take enough care to agree in number with their nouns. One wag suggested that the president may have taken a direct hand in the drafting. My guess is even more troubling. It seems to me possible that the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal told Hoekstra to get the paper out sooner rather than later, as an aid to Americans in 'recognizing Iran as a strategic threat.'" (House Intelligence Committee [PDF file], Washington Post, Informed Comment, Antiwar)
- August 27: Bush officials have once again been caught lying about the way they are handling trials for suspected terrorists; this time the administration is defying a Supreme Court order as well. Officials have insisted that career military lawyers are helping design new trials for accused terrorists after the Supreme Court struck down the White House's idea for military drumhead trials in June, but the administration is refusing the detainees the right to see the evidence against them, a key element of the Supreme Court decision.
- Govenment lawyers have been drafting legislation that will set new rules for the trials of terror suspects; one of the key issues is whether or not prosecutors would be able to introduce secret evidence, which detainees would not know about and would be unable to counter. Such provisions fly in the face of the most fundamental provisions of the Constitution, of US criminal procedures, of international law, and of the Geneva Conventions. Defense lawyers argue that allowing such secret evidence to be presented would not only be rank violations of all of the above, but would create a precedent for enemies of the United States to use show-trials for captured Americans. Administration lawyers maintain that classified evidence may be crucial to a case, and revealing it would compromise national security.
- Members of Congress have pressured the White House to listen to the military lawyers as it drafts the legislation, and White House officials such as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have soothed lawmakers with assurances like his August 2 assertion that "our deliberations have included detailed discussion" with military attorneys whose "multiple rounds of comments...will be reflected in the legislative package." But the issue of secret evidence has never been up for discussion at any of those deliberations, except for a single meeting between Gonzales and a group of senior military lawyers, which ended in an impasse. The issue was then taken off the table entirely. Instead, lawyers in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, all political appointees of Bush, are drafting new guidelines. These OLC lawyers only met once with any military lawyers, on July 28, and have refused to continue exchanging information and views via e-mail. At the start of the July 28 meeting, the administration's lawyers announced that there was no point in debating the secret evidence issue at their level, so all their subsequent discussions were limited to more minor concerns -- mostly wording changes and procedural matters.
- The limits placed on the discussion with the military lawyers, called the Judge Advocate General corps, have angered a group of retired military attorneys. They believe that the administration's dismissal of JAGs' views has been a prime factor in such setbacks as the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. "The [Justice Department] should have learned that a failure to involve the JAG community can lead to problems," says retired Major General Nolan Sklute , who retired as the Air Force's top lawyer in 1996. "If they are talking to the JAGs only about superficial matters...that indicates that this is about form instead of substance, and nobody has learned any lessons out of this."
- Since November 2001, the White House and its lawyers have labored to exert greater control over military lawyers. In that month, when White House legal advisors drew up a presidential order authorizing an initial round of trials for accused terrorists, they allowed the JAGs to send one representative to look at the draft and then refused to let him take notes. The final order included none of the suggestions offered by the uniformed lawyers. And in early 2003, when a Pentagon working group came up with a report on detainee interrogations that said certain harsh interrogation techniques were legal, top JAGs insisted that such a stance would undermine the Geneva Conventions and put interrogators at risk of prosecution for assault. The civilians ignored their views.
- Many former JAGs trace the current disputes back to Dick Cheney's efforts to rein in the JAG corps in the first Bush administration. In 1991, when he was Secretary of Defense, Cheney asked Congress to pass a law to put politically appointed attorneys -- including the Army's general counsel, William Haynes, who is now the Pentagon general counsel -- in charge of the JAGs. But Congress refused. The following year, Cheney's legal team tried again to take over the JAG corps, this time using an internal Pentagon order. But they rescinded the plan after Congress made it an issue during the nomination of David Addington -- Cheney's longtime legal adviser and now his chief-of-staff -- to be the Pentagon general counsel.
- Cheney and his apparatchiks have tried again to control military lawyers once Cheney ascended to the vice presidency. In May 2003, the administration issued an order giving the Air Force general counsel supervisory authority over Air Force JAGs, essentially a resurrection of the plan Congress had rejected in 1992. And in February 2005, Haynes proposed letting political appointees select who would be the top military lawyers for each service. Neither plan succeeded. Congress forced the Air Force to rescind its order, and Haynes's proposal to change the way the top military lawyers are selected withered after generating an unenthusiastic response from service secretaries. Though administration spokesmen insist that military officials should be subordinate to politically accountable civilians, retired military lawyers insist that their independence is an important check-and-balance for what the military can be ordered to do. And legal scholars link Cheney's efforts to limit the influence of the JAGs to the administration's other efforts to expand executive power. "This didn't start with the torture fight," says Martin Lederman, a law professor who worked in the Justice Department from 1994 to 2002. "They've believed in this [eliminating JAG independence] as a matter of religious faith for a long time. They knew it was going to matter, even though they didn't yet know what it was going to matter for."
- Congress has tried fitfully to rein in the administration's attempts to marginalize the JAGs, only to meet with opposition from the White House. In October 2004, Congress -- led by Republican senator Lindsey Graham, himself a reservist military lawyer -- passed a law prohibiting Pentagon officials from interfering with the JAGs' ability to "give independent legal advice." But when Bush signed the law, he issued a signing statement saying that the legal opinions reached by his political appointees would still "bind all...military attorneys." Like so many of his other signing statements, this one announces Bush's intention to ignore the law he signed into effect. A House-Senate conference committee is now considering legislation to elevate the top lawyers in each service from two-star generals to three-star generals in order to increase their clout. But the administration has urged Congress to reject the proposal, saying in a policy statement that it would "undermine the president's flexibility" and "add unnecessary and rank-heavy bureaucracy." Backers of the proposal, including Ed Rodriguez , president-elect of the Judge Advocates Association, say giving the top JAGs a third star would make it harder to discount the military attorneys' views on such crucial matters as whether secret evidence should be admissible in a trial. If the JAGs' advice had been taken in the first place, he says, the Supreme Court might not have struck down the tribunals in this year's case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. "A third star will have a huge impact if it comes to pass," says Rodriguez. "This is a battle that is being fought under the surface, but we're trying to prevent the next Abu Ghraib and Hamdan from happening." (Boston Globe)
- August 28: Dick Cheney tells an audience at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, "I know some have suggested that by liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein, we simply stirred up a hornet's nest. They overlook a fundamental fact: We were not in Iraq on September 11th, 2001, and the terrorists hit us anyway." (Cheney made an almost-identical statement on January 19, 2006.) This is contradicted by years of evidence, culminating in the National Intelligence Estimate released in September 2006 which states that the US presence in Iraq has greatly exacerbated the threat of terrorism around the globe and particularly as focused on America. (White House/Democratic Underground, New York Times)
- August 28: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says that terrorist groups have successfully manipulated the media to influence Americans and Europeans to lessen the support of the war in Iraq and against terrorism. "That's the thing that keeps me up at night," he says. "What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is. They are actively manipulating the media in this country" by, for example, falsely blaming US troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said. "They can lie with impunity." At another speech the same day, he continues his broadside against the terrorist and the media, saying, "They portray our cause as a war on Islam when in fact the overwhelming majority of victims of their terrorism have been thousands and thousands of innocent Muslims -- men, women and children -- they have killed." (Seattle Times)
Rumsfeld compares war critics to Nazi appeasers
- August 29: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, speaking to an audience at the American Legion convention in Salt Lake City, compares critics of the war in Iraq to those who favored appeasement of the Nazis, saying, "Can we truly afford to believe somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?" He warns that "any kind of moral and intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can severely weaken the ability of free societies to persevere" against what he calls a "new type of fascism." Rumsfeld adds that those critics "blame America first" for terrorism. Democrats immediately react with anger and outrage. "It is a dangerous business to accuse those who disagree with you of moral and intellectual confusion," says Ike Skelton, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. "Debate in our democracy is based upon respect, not vilification." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi retorts, "If Mr. Rumsfeld is so concerned with comparisons to World War II, he should explain why our troops have now been fighting in Iraq longer than it took our forces to defeat the Nazis in Europe." Pelosi is particularly angered by Rumsfeld's smears, saying, "I have long thought that the Secretary of Defense's judgment has been impaired. Two and a half years ago, I called for his resignation. He speaks for the administration, so I can only assume that his words are the words of the president. If they are not, it behooves the president of the United States to reject this characterization of political debate in our country." And in a statement, Pelosi says, "secretary Rumsfeld's efforts to smear critics of the Bush Administration's Iraq policy are a pathetic attempt to shift the public's attention from his repeated failure to manage the conduct of the war competently." Democratic House candidate Eric Massa, a Navy veteran, says, "After 21 months of trying to find something I can agree with Secretary Rumsfeld on, it is true: the American people are being lied to and I totally agree with Secretary Rumsfeld. What I disagree with is the fact that he's the one doing the lying." Republicans retort that Democrats are merely playing politics with Rumsfeld's statements.
- The Los Angeles Times slams Rumsfeld for the accusations, calling his words "offensive" and snaps, "The Bush administration can and should respond to that argument without recourse to overheated analogies and straw men like the 'blame America first' crowd. Rumsfeld is obviously unwilling to step down. Could he at least pipe down?" A Newsday editorial says in response, "This is really outrageous. Of course the American people -- including critics of the war -- have no trouble understanding the difference between terrorists and the people we have elected to run our government. But you would have to be on another planet not to see that it was the likes of Rumsfeld who misled the country about the reasons for going to war and, even more damning, who've proven themselves incompetent in actually fighting the war. Every examination of what has gone wrong in Iraq has come to a basic conclusion: that it was Rumsfeld who grossly underestimated what it would take to secure Iraq and begin the process of nation building once the invasion succeeded. His culpability has been evident for years. And yet Bush has kept Rumsfeld and most of his team in place." Newsday concludes, "Contrary to what Rumsfeld had to say this week, free societies are endangered not when there is healthy examination of what a government has or hasn't done, but when there is no accountability for mistakes. Indeed, it's characteristic of the very totalitarian societies he correctly deplores to equate criticism of government leaders and their decisions with weakness. In truth, such criticism is a mark of a strong, healthy society, one that is capable of correcting its mistakes. ...Rumsfeld's credibility is shot, and the American people know it." A video of Rumsfeld discussing his pronouncement on Fox News can be seen at the AlterNet link below.
- On August 30, MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann, a centrist who has expressed more and more criticism of Bush's policies in Iraq and on terror, delivers a spectacular broadside against Rumsfeld. The video can be found at the Crooks and Liars link below. Olbermann says, in part, "Dissent and disagreement with government is the life's blood of human freedom, and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as 'his' troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq. It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile, it is right -- and the power to which it speaks, is wrong." Olbermann turns the Nazi comparison on its head, comparing Rumsfeld and the Bush administration to the administration of British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, which routinely savaged MP Winston Churchill for trying to alert Chamberlain's administration to the dangers posed by a nascent Adolf Hitler. "sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening," says Olbermann. "We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill. His government, absolute and exclusive in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis. It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain." Olbermann continues, "[T]o date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris. Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to flu vaccine shortages, to the entire 'fog of fear' which continues to envelope this nation -- he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have -- inadvertently or intentionally -- profited and benefited, both personally, and politically. And yet he can stand up in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emperor's New Clothes. In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?" Olberman concludes by quoting Edward R. Murrow's prescient 1954 criticism of Joseph McCarthy, where Murrow said famously, "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear -- one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were -- for the moment -- unpopular." (ABC News, CBS News, Newsday, Los Angeles Times, Raw Story, AlterNet [video of Rumsfeld's comments], Crooks and Liars [video of Olbermann's commentary])
- August 29: Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, convinced his election as president was stolen, refuses to recognize the victory of right-wing "victor" Felipe Calderon, and says he will create a parallel, "shadow" government. Lopez Obrador's party lacks the votes in Congress to block legislation, but he can mobilize millions of outraged Mexican citizens to pressure Calderon, or to fill the streets with protesters. Protest camps with thousands of Lopez Obrador's supporters fill downtown Mexico City, where he was once the mayor. While most of the protests are peaceful, Lopez Obrador supporters in Oaxaca rioted when Governor Ulises Ruiz sent police to evict striking teachers; protesters and citizens' groups joined to burn buildings and buses, seize radio and television stations, and force businesses to close. "Everything we do, from property taxes to permits to natural resources, will go through the 'legitimate government,'" says Severina Martinez, a school teacher from Oaxaca camped out in a tent in Mexico City's main Zocalo plaza. "We won't have anything to do with the official government." Lopez Obrador is encouraging his followers to disobey Calderon, whose 240,000-vote advantage was confirmed Monday by the country's top electoral court. "We do not recognize Felipe Calderon as president, nor any officials he appoints, nor any acts carried out by his de-facto government," Lopez Obrador said after the court ruling, which he claims ignored evidence of massive voter fraud in the July 2 elections. "There is no possibility that we federal legislators in Congress will start any dialogue with the government," said PRD Senate leader Carlos Navarette, considered one of the party's moderates. "We will never forget that the leader and director of the Mexican people's action and the left is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador." Lopez Obrador ran under the aegis of the progressive PRD party. Supporters plan on holding an alternative swearing in ceremony to rival the official inauguration on December 1. (San Francisco Chronicle)
- August 29: Of all the information coming out about Republican senator George Allen's pernicious racism, perhaps the most damning is Allen's association with the overtly racist Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor to the infamous White Citizens' Councils of the 1940s and 1950s. In 1996, Allen, then the governor of Virginia, attended the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Washington Hilton. Allen was attracted to a booth festooned with Confederate flags, a booth hosted by the CCC, then a co-sponsor of the CPAC. After speaking with CCC founder and former White Citizens Council organizer Gordon Lee Baum and two of his cohorts, Allen suggested that they pose for a photograph with then-National Rifle Association spokesman and actor Charlton Heston. The photo appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer. Baum confirms that Allen did not naively stumble into a chance meeting with unfamiliar people; he knew exactly who and what the CCC was about and, from Baum's point of view, was engaged in a straightforward political transaction. "It helped us as much as it helped him," Baum says. "We got our bona fides." In its "Statement of Principles," the CCC declares, "We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called 'affirmative action' and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."
- When asked about Allen's association with the CCC, his communications director, John Reid, responds, "I am unaware of the group you mention or their agenda and because we have no record of the Senator having involvement with them I cannot offer you any opinion on them." But not only is Allen quite aware of the CCC, he has appointed CCC sympathizers to state government positions and has worked to promote the CCC's ideology. In 1995, he appointed a CCC sympathizer, lawyer Jackson Garnett, to head the Virginia Council on Day Care and serve on the Governor's Advisory Council on Self-Determination and Federalism. According to the CCC's Citizens Informer, Garnett delivered a speech before a CCC gathering saying that the Federalism Commission was "created to study abuses by the Federal government of constitutional powers that rightfully belong to the states." Later that year, Garnett closed the Virginia Council on Day Care after accusing it, as he wrote in a letter to Governor Allen, of attempting to "form the minds of our young children with a radical ideology before they enter public schools." The Virginia Council had aroused Garnett's ire, according to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, for preparing an "anti-bias" curriculum for daycare teachers. Allen approved the shutdown.
- Allen's Advisory Council on Self-Determination and Federalism bore an eerie resemblance to the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, a state agency that engaged in lobbying and propaganda in support of "massive resistance" to integration. One pamphlet published by the Commission declared, "We do not propose to defend racial discrimination. We do defend, with all the power at our command, the citizen's right to discriminate." And in 1996, Allen wrote a gushing letter of support to the largest neo-Confederate group in Virginia, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, on the occasion of its centennial, writing, "Your efforts are especially worthy of recognition as across our country, Americans are charting a new direction -- away from the failed approach of centralized power in Washington, and back to the founders' design of a true federal system of shared powers and dual sovereignty." While at least twelve other Republican governors, and senator Trent Lott, also sent letters of congratulations, according to Ed Sebesta, a researcher of neo-Confederate groups, Allen's letter stood out. "The other governors wrote mostly sentimental blather to the SCV," Sebesta said. "But Allen's letter really expressed the neo-Confederate view of the Southern tradition and showed him to be a neo-Confederate in his thinking." In 1997, Allen issued a proclamation, drafted by the SCV, that made April "Confederate History and Heritage Month." April was chosen because it marks the Confederate assault on Fort Sumter, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Allen's proclamation was filled with neo-Confederate ideology, calling the Civil War "a four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights," and refusing to mention slavery whatsoever. The NAACP condemned Allen's SCV-inspired proclamation, and Confederate Memorial Association President John Edward Hurley called the SCV's celebration at the Capitol one of "the worst capitulations to white supremacy" since the Ku Klux Klan marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1920.
- Allen was also close to the SCV's sister organization, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, frequently appearing at their conventions and, in a 1997 letter, praising its members for "promoting historical accuracy and a clear understanding of the War Between the States." The term "War Between the States" is popular among neo-Confederate groups." In 1989, the UDC declared in an article in its magazine that "the worse [sic] suffering group among those engaged in the [slave] trade" was "the crews of slave ships."
- In 1995, then-Governor Allen was lauded by the CCC, reporting in its newsletter that "Residents of the Old Dominion are rejoicing." But by 1998, the CCC's support became less desirable for Allen, when links between the CCC and Republican representative Bob Barr became public knowledge. The head of CPAC, David Keene, ousted them from his conference, saying bluntly, "They are racists." According to the CCC's Baum, both Allen and Keene knew well what the CCC was all about. "David Keene, he knew who we were," says Baum. "I mean, you have Confederate flags on each sides of your booth -- like, duh. But after the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan, he didn't want us there." In 2006, Baum "finagled" tickets for the CPAC convention and promoted the CCC from behind the National Rifle Association's booth.
- In November 2001, Allen won election to the US Senate. Shortly thereafter, the flap over ancient, unrepentant racist Strom Thurmond, and Trent Lott's praise for Thurmond's racist views, became news. Initially, Allen spoke out in Lott's defense, but soon Lott was abandoned by his party's leadership, with Bush advisor Karl Rove seeing an opportunity to use the controversy to insert the more compliant Bill Frist into the post of Senate Majority Leader. Lott's own connections to the CCC became cause for his public ridicule, and Lott's fellow Republicans refused to come to his aid. Allen suddenly went from Lott's staunch defender to his loudest critic, calling for Lott's resignation and calling his remarks "offensive...to those touched by the viciousness of segregation." Allen, quite prematurely, then said that with Lott's resignation as Majority Leader, racism across the country was dead. Columnist Max Blumenthal acidly observes, "Allen clearly hoped questions about his own past would be buried as well."
- Obviously Allen's racism was still extant. In 2000, he explained that the noose hanging in his law office had "nothing to do with lynching;" he explained that the large Confederate flags hanging in his house were merely part of his flag collection. He never explained how his opposition to the 1991 Civil Rights Act, and his opposition to making Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday a holiday, did not jibe with his racist views. But after the Lott incident, Allen tried to make himself over as a champion of the civil rights movement. He bragged of his "civil rights" pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama, in 2002 in the company of former Freedom Rider John Lewis, now a US representative. He co-sponsored, with Democratic senator Mary Landrieu, a formal apology for slavery. Blumenthal writes, "He was carrying the banner of a new brand of Republicanism that compensated for its opposition to affirmative action and social spending with symbolic condemnations of what President George W. Bush deemed the baggage of bigotry.'"
- But it all blew up in his face on August 11, 2006, in Breaks, Virginia, a rural community in the Appalachian Mountains. Before an all-white crowd, Allen found himself in touch with his inner racist once again, calling S.R. Sidarth, a campaign aide to Allen's Senate opponent Jim Webb, "Macaca, or whatever his name is," and sarcastically "welcoming Macaca here" to "America and the real world of Virginia." Allen preened in the hoots and howls of the audience, but apparently did not realize that the videotape Sidarth was shooting would come back to haunt him and revive his long-time reputation as a racist.
- Blumenthal says Allen is in a political quandary. He must atone for his racist gaffe (gaffes, actually -- Blumenthal wrote the article in late August, before news of Allen's history of racial slurs and stuffing deer heads into the mailboxes of black families became public), but he cannot afford to alienate the neo--Confederates and their sympathizers who propelled his political career in the 1980s. So Allen asks forgiveness for his "mistake," and his spokesmen refuse to criticize the CCC or the SCV. "The neo-Confederates could break a Republican candidate, especially in South Carolina, where they're extremely organized," Sebesta observes. Allen, at least as of the writing of the Blumenthal piece, still had high hopes for a 2008 presidential run. Blumenthal writes, "Senator John McCain's misadventure with the neo-Confederate movement in the 2000 South Carolina primary provides a cautionary tale that must not be lost on Allen. Facing George W. Bush in South Carolina, McCain hired Richard Quinn as his state field manager. Quinn was an editor of the neo-Confederate magazine Southern Partisan, and a frequent critic of Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, who he once dubbed a 'terrorist.' Before the primary, Quinn organized a rally of 6,000 people in support of flying the Confederate flag over the statehouse. Quinn dressed up McCain volunteers in Confederate Army uniforms as they passed fliers to the demonstrators assuring them that McCain supported the Confederate flag. As soon as news spread that McCain had called for removal of the Dixie flag from the statehouse, the SCV's Richard T. Hines funded the distribution of 250,000 fliers accusing McCain of 'changing his tune' and describing Bush as 'the [only] major candidate who refused to call the Confederate flag a racist symbol.' Bush surged ahead of McCain and took South Carolina, dooming McCain's presidential hopes. 'People didn't buy it,' Baum told me about McCain's gambit. 'When he thought the flag issue would help him, he was for it. When he thought it wouldn't help him, going North, he denounced it. And you still have all these gullible liberals who think McCain's a saint.' Now, Allen is trying to lay the groundwork for his own Southern Strategy in 2008. On August 9, he took time out of his re-election campaign to keynote the South Carolina GOP's state convention. If he can overcome the controversies over his past in his Senate race, Allen may yet get to play his old game once again." (The Nation)
Allen in a 1996 photo with the racist Council of Conservative Citizens
- August 29: Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh explains America's "obesity crisis" in the following: "Because we are sympathetic, we are compassionate people, we have responded by letting our government literally feed these [poor] people to the point of obesity. At least here in America, didn't teach them how to fish, we gave them the fish. Didn't teach them how to butcher a -- slaughter a cow to get the butter, we gave them the butter. The real bloat here, as we know, is in -- is in government." Limbaugh does not explain his own well-documented problems with obesity, though he has admitted to drawing welfare himself in the past. (MediaMatters)
- August 30: Conservative pundit Ann Coulter, enraged at what she considers "liberal treason" by Republican senator Lincoln Chafee, tells an audience, "They shot the wrong Lincoln." (MediaMatters)
- August 31: Bush gives a speech to the American Legion National Convention, first telling the audience that he is a member of the Legion Post 77 in Houston, a claim that is in dispute considering that only those who have served on active duty in the military can legitimately be Legion members, then drawing a direct analogy between the Iraq occupation and the battle against fascism in World War II: "Victory in Iraq will be difficult and it will require more sacrifice. The fighting there can be as fierce as it was at Omaha Beach or Guadalcanal. And victory is as important as it was in those earlier battles. Victory in Iraq will result in a democracy that is a friend of America and an ally in the war on terror. Victory in Iraq will be a crushing defeat for our enemies, who have staked so much on the battle there. Victory in Iraq will honor the sacrifice of the brave Americans who have given their lives. And victory in Iraq would be a powerful triumph in the ideological struggle of the 21st century." The analogy also continues to merge Bush's war on terror with his occupation of Iraq, a dovetailing that has long been disproven by his own experts, though it is now proven that the occupation itself has created thousands of new jihadists who oppose American intervention in Muslim affairs. (White House/TomDispatch)
- August 31: GOP voter-registration workers created fake individuals in documents submitted to the California Republican Party, which says that it discovered the fraudulent activity through an internal review and forwarded its findings to Secretary of State Bruce McPherson. GOP spokesman Patrick Dorinson said the party caught the undisclosed number of falsified voter affidavits early enough that it avoided registering any fraudulent names with the state. The documents were filed two weeks ago by an unnamed Southern California subcontractor hired by the party's principal registration vendor, California Grassroots Mobilization. The party has since fired the subcontractor, and Dorinson said California Grassroots Mobilization is working with the party to expose the fraudulent actions. Dorinson refused to name the subcontractor or the workers, nor did he disclose how many fraudulent documents the party found because he said the matter is under investigation. "We felt it was necessary to come forward because we're trying to maintain the integrity of our program," Dorinson says. McPherson, a Republican, says he will conduct a full investigation, adding that "if credible evidence of wrongdoing is found, we will work with local prosecutors to vigorously prosecute to the fullest extent of the law." (Sacramento Bee)