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- July 22: Jack Idema, the American mercenary being held in Afghanistan on charges that he operated a private interrogation center in that country, says that he doesn't understand why the US military is so up in arms about their "discovery" of his facility, since Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld knew about Idema's facility all along. Idema is accused of running a makeshift jail where he and his colleagues tortured and abused Afghani prisoners. "We were working for the US counter-terrorist group and working with the Pentagon and some other federal agencies," Idema says. "We were in contact directly by fax and email and phone with Donald Rumsfeld's office. The American authorities absolutely condoned what we did. We have extensive evidence to that.... We're prepared to show emails and correspondence and tape-recorded conversations." Idema's lawyer, John Tiffany, says, "We have documentary evidence regarding the US government's knowledge of my client's intended activities in Afghanistan." Idema claims to be in Afghanistan for the purpose of hunting down Osama bin Laden, and, despite the testimony of several Afghanis whom he illegally detained, says he never abused anyone.
- Idema is a former Green Beret whom some suspect was working as a "bounty hunter" in Afghanistan with the blessing of the US military. He is known to have close connections to former Special Forces general William Boykin, who wields a great deal of authority over US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; in September 2004, during his trial in Afghanistan, the trial judge will refuse to allow Idema's lawyers to play a videotape that confirms his relationship to Boykin. The court did convict Idema and three of his cohorts, including two other former US soldiers, of crimes related to the charges of running an illegal detention facility. Idema receives 10 years in prison. During the trial, Idema shows video of him meeting with key commanders of the Afghan Northern Alliance and the Afghan Minister of Defense, Marshal Fahim. The video that Idema is not allowed to show confirms that the Pentagon is trying to distance itself from Idema in order to shield Boykin and the US military from criticism and possible investigations. To another official in Boykin's office, Idema angrily said, "What they have done is terrible [about the Pentagon's refusal to admit its complicity with Idema]. I'm gonna tell ya. Somebody's got to do some sh -- Twelve hours, or I'm going to email this...to Dan Rather, and I'm not trying to sound like an [bleep]. But I got to tell you something. You think Abu Ghraib prison is a problem? When they find out that [inaudible] captured all the terrorists that were going to blow up Bagram? You should be giving me a [bleep] DSM [Distinguished Service Medal]! Instead they're putting a wanted poster out for me." Boykin's official replies, "...So we were trying to put a firewall between your efforts and him because we didn't want to connect anything there...." It also shows that Idema's contact in Boykin's office, Jorge Shim, had put Idema in contact with officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency. (Guardian, Democracy Now)
- July 22: Comedian and pundit Bill Maher, a self-described libertarian, says for all of its pomp and plans for a glossy presentation, the Democratic convention will at least show its true face in its choice of speakers. The Republicans, in contrast, paint a much more moderate, temperate, multicultural picture that is not reflective of the party's control by hard-right elements. "You know, at least the Democrats keep it real in their convention," he says. "They put on the people who are their party. They're putting on Ted Kennedy. They're putting on Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton. You don't get that from the Republican party. ...They don't put on John Ashcroft. They don't put on Tom Delay. They don't put on the mean side of the Republican party, the Dick Cheney side, the real George Bush side. They put on Arnold Schwarzenegger. He doesn't represent what the Republican party is really going towards. Giuliani and Chaka Khan. You know, that's not the Republican party. They put on a fake Potemkin Village version of the Republican party. At least the Democrats are the Democrats." (CNN)
Republicans use Marriage Protection Act to undermine Constitutional separation of powers
- July 22: The US House votes 233-194 in favor of the "Marriage Protection Act," which would prohibit federal courts from legalizing "same-sex" marriage. The significance of the MPA is not merely in its prohibition of gay marriage, but in its attempt to wrench power from the federal courts under Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman calls the MPA "a power grab of breathtaking consequence," and explains: "If Congress has the authority to tell the Supreme Court that certain issues are off-limits, it would give legislators a free hand to do whatever they wished, without worrying about whether it violated the Constitution. The whole idea of a separation of powers could be rendered null and void if that happened. And unfortunately, it could. The provision in question, Article III, Section 2, gives the federal courts the power to decide a broad range of cases, including challenges to the constitutionality of federal laws. However, it also grants the courts that power 'with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.' Theoretically, that allows Congress to pass a law -- say, making it a felony to criticize members of Congress -- and then forbid the courts to review such a law. It could pass a law making Christianity the national religion, and bar the courts from hearing a challenge. It could allow government to tap our phones without a warrant, or toss dissidents into prison without trial, and refuse to allow the courts to intervene. That's why the provision has remained obscure and largely untested. Previous generations of politicians, even in the heat of intense battle, have understood and respected the potential damage it could do. They saw it as a Pandora's box that once opened could threaten not just our constitutional liberties but the whole concept of a balance of powers among the judicial, legislative and executive branches." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the MPA would "constitute the first time in the over 200 years of our country's history that Congress has enacted legislation totally eliminating any federal court from considering the constitutionality of federal legislation.... This bill will impact the very foundation of our government. It impedes the uniformity of federal law, it sets a dangerous precedent, and it does grave damage to the separation of powers." The New York Times calls the bill "a radical assault on the Constitution," a "radical approach" which "would allow Congress to revoke the courts' ability to guard constitutional freedoms of all kinds." The Times worries about the precedent the bill would set: "And although gays are the subject of this bill, other minority groups could easily find themselves the target of future ones." Democrat Sheila Jackson-Lee reminds us that had such a law passed in the 1950s, there would be no Brown v. Board of Education and no desegregation in public schools. Fellow House Democrat Carolyn Maloney adds that the bill "would deny judicial review to an entire class of citizens" and "is willing to trample on our Constitution in order to do so."
- But many conservatives are apparently not worried about the possible effect on constitutional liberties. In an October 6, 2003 op-ed in the Washington Times, former representative William Dannemeyer openly advocated using this method: "Congress should use Article III, Section 2, clause of the U.S. Constitution to recover what has been stolen," he wrote, listing egregious acts such as "Enacting a wall of separation between church and state; Banning nondenominational prayer from public schools; Removing the Ten Commandments from public school walls; and Removing God from the Pledge of Allegiance" as primary transgressions. In February, Republicans introduced the Constitutional Restoration Act of 2004 which says that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over "any matter" regarding public officials who acknowledge "God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government" -- in essence, destroying the balance between the legislative and judiciary branches, and shattering the Constitutional separation of church and state. Heralded as "the most important piece of legislation in the last fifty years" by conservative radio host Chuck Baldwin (who also cited Article III, Section 2) and reminiscent of Judge Antonin Scalia's Biblically-inspired contention that "government...derives its moral authority from God," the Constitution Restoration Act angers and dismays many civil libertarians. Former Christianity Today correspondent Katherine Yurica distinguishes between the stated purposes and hidden realities of the bill by explaining that it is "drawn broadly and expressly includes the acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law...," which could, in the worst-case scenario, turn America into a theocracy wherein judges could "institute biblical punishments without being subject to review by the Supreme Court or the federal court system." Valley Advocate columnist James Heflin underscores the hidden subtext: "The agenda of these Christians of the Far Right is brazen and clear. They have turned a zealous minority into a ruling class once, and they have learned from that success. This is not a wild-eyed conspiracy theory; their plans are preached in pulpits weekly, and have now taken shape as proposed legislation. Look no further than the recently introduced 'Constitution Restoration Act.' If we do not pay attention to their manipulation of American democratic processes now that they have gained remarkable power among Republicans, the principles of our democracy will eventually be as distant a memory as the kinder, gentler Southern Baptist Convention of my childhood.... If the Act passes, Iraqis would have stronger protection from religious extremism than Americans. It's a change with dramatic consequences, and our political landscape under Bush is ever more receptive to such ideas. Roy Moore and his fundamentalist brothers and sisters have far more in mind."
- The MPA was drawn up by Herb Titus, the founding dean of Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School and legal counselfor Judge Roy Moore. The Act draws its inspiration from the relatively obscure and as-yet-legally untested Constitutional provision: "supporters of the bill cite Article III, Section 2 of the US Constitution, which authorizes Congress to limit the jurisdiction of the US Supreme Court and other federal courts," the conservative WorldNetDaily explained last spring. Not only would the Act bar the Supreme Court from reviewing cases in which public servants acknowledge God as the source of law, but it would make judges who rule on cases such as Judge Moore's Ten Commandment debacle vulnerable to impeachment. But more importantly, notes Heflin, "It is unclear exactly what actions a public servant could get away with under the banner of invoking God as the source of law." And Bookman argues that, if enacted, the MPA could be used as a legal basis to allow Congress to "pass a law making Christianity the national religion, and bar the courts from hearing a challenge."
- Other bills also target the Supreme Court's authority to counter Congressional legislative excesses, including HR 3920, which specifically would "allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court." Not surprisingly, the Christian Coalition actively supports all three pieces of legislation. In March, the Washington Times reported that House Majority Leader Tom Delay was ready to "announce his own legislative agenda" in a closed door session. "One goal, he said, will be to re-establish what he sees as the rightful role of religion in public places...." Republican Mike Pence, one of the original sponsors of the Constitutional Restoration Act, was impressed. "What Tom's doing is pretty refreshing," he said. Though "the White House normally sets the agenda," DeLay's initiative, Pence said, "signals the dynamics of the president's second term, hopefully very different." Bookman is alarmed: "[If] implemented as House Republicans now intend, it would have enormous ramifications on the system of government and concepts of justice that have evolved over the last 200 years," he wrote. And Maloney put it bluntly: "The Republican leadership is trying to use a wedge issue to appeal to right-wing constituencies in a highly charged election year, and they are willing to trample on our Constitution. No issue is ever worth such a price." (BP News, Buzzflash)
- July 22: Commentator Sidney Blumenthal disproves the myth that John Kerry is weak on crime, an allegation used very effectively by the Bush campaign. Kerry's career is marked by toughness on criminal behavior. As a district attorney in Massachusetts, he helped dismantled several key elements of the local Mafia. In his first month as a senator, in January 1985, he found the elements that would bring the Iran-Contra scandal to light, and traced the threads to Florida drug-runners, the Colombian drug cartels, Panama dictator Manuel Noriega, and Saudi financiers. When Iran-Contra linchpin Oliver North began to feel the heat from Kerry's investigation, North told the Secret Service and the FBI that Kerry was protecting a possible presidential assassin (a Contra advisor dubbed "Colonel Flaco," who was, of course, not an assassin, but was a key source of information about North's involvement in running drugs and guns for the Contras). Republican staff members on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaked key details of Kerry's burgeoning investigation to the White House, enabling officials there to plan their responses and shred damning evidence. An assistant US attorney in Florida, prosecuting a case based on Kerry's leads, was ordered by the Justice Department to drop the matter. The Washington press corps, following the lead of the Reagan White House, treated Kerry's investigation as delusional. When Elliot Abrams, then assistant secretary of state, lied to Kerry during Senate testimony, Abrams's lies wound up forcing him to plead guilty to a felony; Abrams was pardoned by the first Bush, and is now chief of Middle East policy in the National Security Council. Three years later, Kerry unearthed damning information showing the myriad connections between the Contras, the South American drug cartels, and the Reagan administration. His continued investigation exposed the wealth of criminal activity surrounding the Italian bank BCCI.
- What the Bush campaign doesn't like about Kerry is not his supposed "weakness" on crime, but his penchant for digging out information about criminal behavior that strikes far too close to home for the Bush conglomerate. Blumenthal writes, "From Vietnam onwards, Kerry has probed the inner recesses of government, pursuing a persistent and cumulative investigation into the underside of national security and terrorism. If the Democrats had held the Senate for a sustained period of time, his proposal to regulate the netherworld of money laundering, which was not enacted, might even have helped stymie al-Qaeda. He has experienced the abuse of justice; had his patriotism impugned; battled enemies foreign and domestic; tried to restore accountability; and fought on, down to today - which is why he is running for president." (Guardian
- July 23: Florida governor Jeb Bush orders the elimination of paper applications for ex-felons to have their voting rights restored, a move that civil liberties groups say will deny access to thousands who want to vote in November. The move comes on the heels of a federal appeals court ruling that the state provide more help to felons who want their right to vote restored by providing them assistance as soon as they are released from jail. That would include a one-page application for a formal hearing before the Florida Clemency Board, the only way an estimated 85% of felons will ever get their rights restored. Instead of providing the application, Bush decides to scrap it altogether, deciding that felons will have to contact the Office of Executive Clemency when and if they want to apply for a hearing to have their rights restored. Bush argues that the policy reduces paperwork and, therefore, provides the ease and assistance demanded by the court. Civil rights advocates say the decision will disfranchise thousands of people in a state where more than 400,000 are already banned from voting. "You have to hand it to the governor. It's a very clever legal tactic and even more clever propaganda," says Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU in Florida. "It's done under the guise of trying to simplify the process and eliminate paperwork, but it just shows his true character. It's completely disingenuous." Randall Berg, executive director of the Florida Justice Institute, says, "I think the governor thumbed his nose at the court order and showed disrespect for the rule of law." Florida is one of just six states that permanently strip felons of the right to vote. The Florida Clemency Board -- composed of the governor and his cabinet -- can reinstate a felon's right to vote. (Miami Herald/Truthout)
- July 23: As the Democratic convention approaches, nominee John Kerry says he wants to keep the convention speeches positive and upbeat, avoid personal attacks on Bush and his officials, and intends to defuse the debate over his vote to give the president the authority to use military force in Iraq. Giving Bush the authority he sought "was appropriate and is authority I would have wanted as president," Kerry says. "He didn't use the authority correctly. ...The president broke his word. That's why I say he misled America.... He went back on his word with respect to an issue that involves the lives of our young Americans." About the tone of the convention, he says, "I don't know if you can ever control completely what anyone says, but obviously we are trying to encourage people to be as positive as they can be. Some may stray." (USA Today)
- July 23: San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford has a pretty accurate crystal ball: he predicts increasingly hysterical and desperate attempts by the Bush campaign and its associates in the White House and Congress to influence the November 2004 election as the election draws nearer. He writes, "This is the time of hysterical Orange Alerts and imminent al-Qaeda attacks coming from outta nowhere at any minute and violating our children and kicking our puppies and badly denting our Honda Accords. And, yes, this is the time of election-year political tactics coming from the increasingly anxious Right that will make Sun Tzu's Art of War look like a cupcake cookbook." Morford writes, "How about another 'imminent' terrorist threat? Pretty much a given, really. Followed, of course, by another. And then another. And then another and another until every other day the newscast features a thick-necked, panicky Tom Ridge saying yes, oh my God yes, we now have definitive proof that terrorists are more or less sort of maybe planning to strike the US maybe very soon and disrupt our shopping and screw with our TV reception and blot out the sun. We just don't know, you know, where, or when, or how, or what the hell to do about it. PS: Vote Republican." Morford is bleakly sarcastic: "There is a sense of lawlessness, of desperation, among the Republican Party right now. It is no longer a question of simply which party will run the show or which platform will have the most influence on policy. Rather, it's about a radically polarized worldview: Are we going to be an aggressive macho globally disrespected isolationist nation that has burned all bridges and molested all foreign relationships and mocked all global sympathy, or are we, as the GOP wants you to believe, going to become some liberal namby-pamby country where gays can marry each other and sexually deviant women can have abortions every day and everybody speaks French? Because there is no middle ground. This is the GOP message. You are either with us, or you are a terrorist. You are either on the side of the 'patriotic,' pro-war party of WMD lies and homophobia and violence toward the global community, or you're a liberal hippie 'Nam protester like that jerknose Kerry." What else might they do to guarantee a win in November, he asks, "in the wake of 2000's stolen election and the rigging of the Florida recounts and a sneering, despoiled Supreme Court? Just about anything, really." Anything from suddenly finding Osama bin Laden to massive election fraud using the voting machines supplied by big Republican donors.
- "Look," he warns. "This much is clear: It's not merely going to be dirty politics as usual. It's not going to be mudslinging and name calling and finger pointing and policy wonking, childish little claims of 'fuzzy math' and aww-shucks dumb-guy cowboy shtick to appeal to the lower intellects. It is not going to merely be BushCo spending millions of its enormous war chest, as it already has, to launch incredibly vicious attack ads against Kerry and Edwards that dare to question the veracity and validity of Kerry's many Vietnam War medals or of Edwards' political experience, although Bush himself is the least-qualified president in US history, one who ducked military service and went AWOL and makes all military service people wince in embarrassment. No, it's going to be far worse. And more nauseating. Who, for example, isn't sighing in appalled disgust as the Pentagon suddenly discovers that, oh my goodness, Bush's own military-service records were 'accidentally' destroyed? How amazing! And would you believe it, but the records in question just so happened to be the exact months of just those exact years that Bush was supposedly to have 'served.' What a crazy coincidence! Now we can never really know if he even bothered to show up for duty at all! Gosh, what a shame" Morford even wonders if the campaign might dump the relentlessly negative Dick Cheney for a more media-friendly VP candidate. "Anything to galvanize the ticket -- make it, you know, less ugly and old and warmongering, more palatable and sassy and Edwards-like. This is the new rule: If it might force a victory, the GOP will consider it."
- And finally, writes Morford, "if all else fails, well, why not just postpone the whole damn election itself? That's right, simply invent some (nonspecific, unsubstantiated) terrorist threat of sufficient hysteria so that BushCo simply has no choice but to delay the vote. The result? Give you gullible, timid voters more time to reconsider your choices and maybe vote based on your fear instead of, you know, your heart, or your soul, or your ethics, or your brain, or your general sense of universal humanitarian progress. Could it happen? Well, no. Most experts say such a delay is impossible, ridiculous, flagrantly antidemocratic. Doesn't matter. What matters is the fact that the GOP had the gall to float the idea in the first place. So, then, let this be a warning: Get ready. Expect the unexpected. Watch the skies, scrutinize the headlines, dust off your stash of duct tape. Because Karl Rove and the BushCo war hawks and the corporate cronies who run the show aren't about to go down without a screaming, sickening, fiery fight. And if BushCo has proven anything in the past four violent, budget-gutting, honor-molesting, nearly unbearable years, it's that there ain't no international law that can't be broken, no fear synapse that can't be hammered to death, no fraudulent power tactic that can't be abused. Anything is possible. You have been warned. God bless America." (San Francisco Chronicle)
- July 24: A US federal appeals court blocks the FCC's attempt to implement rules that would allow further media consolidation by the giant corporations that now own the vast majority of America's news and entertainment providers. In a 2-1 ruling, the court orders the FCC to provide detailed justification to support their decision to lift many caps on cross ownership that limit how many tv stations and newspapers a single company can own in a geographical area. Pete Tridish of the Prometheus Radio Project, which filed the suit, says, "What happened was that the FCC, once it was taken by the republicans in 2000, launched on very aggressive campaign to allow media corporations to dramatically increase what they could own, and accelerate the trend that we have been seeing for the past 20 years or so towards very large corporations being able to own a larger and larger share of the media on levels that we have never seen before...." He continues: "[T]he court looked about and they said, no, actually it, is your job as an agency to enforce rules that are not only going to prevent harm, but are actually good for the public. So, they clearly said that the FCC should be doing things that are not just necessary, but actually useful to the public. So, that set the bar higher for what the FCC is supposed to be doing when it's regulating the airwaves." Tridish says that the FCC, led by Bush appointee and industry maven Michael Powell, will almost certainly appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
- July 24: Ohio state representative Joey Papageorge acknowledges that his recent comment that Ohio Republicans would not win in the state if they did not work to "suppress the Detroit vote" was insensitive, but denies that the exhortation has any racial overtones. Detroit has a large amount of black voters who steadily vote almost exclusively Democrat. "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election," said Papageorge on July 16. State senator Buzz Thomas, a Democrat, says in response, "I'm extremely disappointed in my colleague. That's quite clearly code that they don't want black people to vote in this election." (Detroit Free Press/Poe News)
- July 24: Republican senator John Warner says that he did help arrange for the March 2004 use of a room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building by an organization headed by conservative financier and evangelist Sun Myung Moon, in which Moon declared himself to be the Messiah. However, Warner says that Moon operatives "deceived" him, and had he known Moon was involved, he wouldn't have authorized the room's usage. The room was requested by an organization called Christian Voice, and its letters to Warner are on the letterhead of the Washington Times Foundation. Moon is the owner of the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper that often prints pro-Moon editorials and sometimes slants its news coverage to favor conservative and pro-Moon viewpoints. "in this case, we were clearly deceived, as the letters show," says a Warner spokesperson. "Nothing in the letters suggest that this would be a Unification Church event or that it would involve Reverend Moon in any way personally, and certainly not in a bizarre, quasi-coronation ceremony using inflammatory rhetoric." Christian Voice has long been linked to Moon's religious and business empire over the years, with president Gary Jarmin and Christian Voice's chairman, the Rev. Robert Grant, described as supporters of Moon. A March 8 invitation to the March 23 event said the primary sponsor was the "Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace IIFWP, founded by Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon." (Washington Post)
- July 25: Speculation is rampant about whether or not Iran is trying to build an atomic bomb. Many diplomats and analysts say that Iran has at least two nuclear power production facilities that could be used to produce weapons-grade uranium, and Iran may have the wherewithal to build an actual weapon in relatively short order. A Western diplomat says the reason for Iran's nuclear push is easily understood: "Iranian leaders got together after the Iraq war and decided that the reason North Korea was not attacked was because it has the bomb. Iraq was attacked because it did not." IAEA analysts say that while there is no hard evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapon, the likelihood of it working towards building one is quite strong. Israel and some American officials insist that the assumption must be made that Iran either has a bomb, or can shortly build one, and action must be taken from that premise. As of now, the US has publicly indicated that it prefers diplomacy and UN intervention to any unilateral military action against Iran, though indications are strong that the US has plans in the works for invading Iran if it decides to do so. The IAEA is trying to play both sides of the aisle -- placate the Iranians in order to keep them involved in IAEA inspections and UN discussions for fear that they will emulate North Korea and withdraw almost entirely from the world community, but not allow Iran to develop a weapon unchecked. Israel has repeatedly indicated that if it feels threatened, it will attack Iranian facilities with or without UN or US support. (Reuters/Truthout)
Democratic convention nominates Kerry, focuses on positive values
- July 25: Democratic delegates and associates from around the country are gathering for the Democratic convention at the Fleet Center in Boston. While their anger is palpable, reports Adam Nagourney and David Rosenbaum of the New York Times, they are generally heeding John Kerry's call to tone down attacks on Bush over the next four days. "This should not be a bash-Bush party," says a Democratic party chairman from New Jersey. "It has to be positive -- people are sick and tired of negativity," adds a New Mexico delegate. "As far as I am concerned, the tone of the campaign's a positive one: what do the Democrats stand for, and how we are going to execute, what are we going to offer the people of this country that George Bush hasn't?" The party platform describes Bush's foreign policy as "dangerously ineffective," says the government is "not doing enough to make America safe from terrorism" and warns that "costs are soaring and ordinary incomes are sinking." In line with Kerry's beliefs, the platform does not call for a withdrawal from Iraq, as many on the party's left advocate, but instead calls for a more multinational approach for dealing with the myriad problems that country faces, and the problems it causes the US. On the economy, the platform promises to "cut taxes for 98 percent of Americans." It would retain the tax cuts adopted under President Bush for people with incomes below $200,000 but repeal the cuts for those with higher incomes. It pledges to reduce the budget deficit by half in four years, to raise the minimum wage, to secure labor and environmental standards in all trade agreements and to expand the number of jobs at home while limiting those that American companies have overseas. It favors guarding Social Security and Medicare against privatization, enacting environmental protections, making health insurance available to all and protecting abortion rights. It opposes vouchers for private school tuition and promises to end "loopholes in our tax code" and "corporate subsidies." Some Democrats say that the convention speakers should be more aggressive in attacking Bush and his policies. "It takes negative and positive to make electricity," says Jesse Jackson. And a Delaware delegate says, "I think they should attack Bush on everything from the war to No Child Left Behind. Our problem is that that we always have to be the nice guy." The response from the Bush campaign? "Any read of the Democratic platform is going to leave readers feeling they've entered an alternative universe," says spokesman Terry Holt. "The Democratic Party has moved ever more toward the left and is completely out of sync with the mainstream."
- Political satirist Al Franken later writes of the convention, "In Boston, the Democrats made the horrible mistake of responding to a very ironic attack from the Bush team, the claim that Democrats had nothing to offer but 'partisan anger.' Instead of hitting back with the obvious countercharge that, no, it's Republicans who were the party of partisan anger, the Democrats tried to internalize the message of their abuser and try to be nicer. The Republicans, on the other hand, ran a convention so partisan and angry that its fundamental dishonesty passed nearly unremarked. Even though Democrats almost to a man believed that President Bush was an unrivaled horror show who was driving the nation off a cliff, it was easy to watch the Democratic Convention and conclude that the Democrats thought everything was hunky-dory in America, and that their only motivation was the sunny belief that their nominee could do an even better job than the incumbent."
- This was no accident, Franken notes. Speechwriters for the convention were slated the job of "cleaning up" speeches to remove negative criticisms and replace them with more positive, upbeat statements. One speechwriter later recalls, "One of our primary responsibilities was to take out negative comments. We were very concerned about casting the party in a positive light. If there was a line like 'Bush has overseen a cataclysmic downturn in the economy and is running the country into the ground,' we would have to change it to something like, 'Kerry will strengthen our economy and put the country on the right track.' We'd flip all the attacks into positive messages. Specifically, we didn't mention George Bush by name. I'd be surprised if there was a single speech that went into the teleprompter that had the president's name in it. Some speakers said it, but they were going off-message. We weren't even allowed to say 'White House.' I remember somebody asking about that and being told to write 'some in Washington.' Franken asks the speechwriter how he felt when he saw the barrage of negative attacks from the Republican convention, and he says, "Boy I hope we didn't f*ck up. That was my reaction." The relentlessly positive message results in a mere 4% post-convention rise in Kerry's poll numbers, the smallest in Newsweek polling history, as opposed to a 13% rise in Bush's numbers after the Republican convention. (New York Times, Al Franken)
- July 25: Protesters on both sides of the divide are unhappy with the convention's provisions for protests. They are confined in a large, wired-in area a block away from the center, essentially divorced from the proceedings. A judge ruled in favor of the security measures, saying that the safety of the participants is important. "We don't deserve to be put in a detention center, a concentration camp," says Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin. "It's tragic that here in Boston, the birthplace of democracy, our First Amendment rights are being trampled on." Many journalists and participants are also unsettled by the heightened security measures inside and outside the convention center, part of a plan implemented by the Secret Service. Police and security officials armed with automatic weapons patrol the perimeter, and police helicopters drone overhead. Video cameras are everywhere inside the hall. Many of the protesters are angry at their confinement within what some call "the cage." "You can't have free speech inside a prison," he says. "It's the people with the guns who get to have free speech." The worst confrontation between protesters and police will occur on July 29, when protesters burn both Bush and Kerry in effigy, and one black-hooded demonstrator will be forcibly detained by police. On the last day of the convention, protesters will be allowed to march past the convention center. (AP/Boston Globe/Great Dreams)
- July 25: Veteran political and social commentator Frank Rich says he understands why the major networks are only broadcasting three hours' worth of coverage for the two upcoming political campaigns: "That's what both parties deserve for having steadily sanded down theirquadrennial celebrations into infomercials with all the spark and spontaneity of the televised Yule Log." But Rich warns that the Bush administration has a track record of stealing the limelight from Democratic announcements by issuing false, baseless warnings of terrorist attacks that ratchet up the alert level for a few days and ensure that the media lessens or ignores whatever the administration wants ignored, be it a Democratic initiative or the headlines of another Republican scandal. "In the fear game, the Democrats are the visiting team, playing at a serious disadvantage," Rich writes. "Out of power, they can't suit up officials at will to go on camera to scare us. Mr. Kerry is reduced instead to incessantly repeating the word 'strength' and promising to put 'a national coordinator for nuclear terrorism' in the cabinet. That will hardly cut itagainst these ingenious opponents. Every time a Bush administration official tells us the apocalypse is coming, the president himself brags that he has made America 'safer.' The message is in the bad news-good news contradiction: the less safe we feel, the more likely we'll play it safe on Election Day by sticking with the happy face we know." (New York Times/Evergreen State College [cached Google copy])
- July 25: Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, tells the editorial page editor from the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to "shove it" after the editor, Colin McNickle, apparently misquoted her in a recent editorial. The newspaper, owned by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, ran an editorial accusing her of advocating "un-American activity" after she told a Pennsylvania audience, "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics." McNickle confronts Heinz Kerry on the floor of the convention site and demands an explanation of her (mis)quote. She turns back to him and, after he confirms he works for the Tribune-Review, says, "Understandable. You said something I didn't say, now shove it." Although Republicans have decried Heinz Kerry's statement, Democrats have refused to repudiate her (she has denied using the term "un-American," though reports of her comments have her using the phrase as quoted above; McNickle did misquote her"). A spokesman for Heinz Kerry later tells CNN, "This was sheer frustration, aimed at a right-wing rag that has consistently and purposely misrepresented the facts in reporting on Mrs. Kerry and her family." The Tribune-Review was one of the news outlets that drummed up the false allegations that John Kerry had had an affair with an intern. Veteran columnist Joe Conason says that no matter what Heinz Kerry says or doesn't say, or how she says it, the press has already scripted its characterization of her. If she's careful in her words, writes Conason, "she may be 'perfectly poised' but risks being dismissed as 'overly scripted.' If she speaks her mind, she could be praised as 'refreshingly candid,' but will more likely be denounced as 'out of control.'" Like many Republicans, many reporters are put off by Heinz Kerry's obvious intelligence, her wealth, her independence, and her global viewpoint. Her remark to McNickle causes a small firestorm of outcries from the mainstream media pundits: "Who's in charge of keeping her on message?" demands David Broder. Conason reminds us of the double standed still in play for women. "Now the use of such direct language by a politician's wife is no doubt shocking to the sensibilities of most journalists, especially the older male contingent," he writes. "It's one thing for the Republican Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates to berate a reporter as an 'a*shole' when they think nobody is listening, as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did four years ago, or for the Vice President to growl 'Go f*ck yourself' on the Senate floor, as Mr. Cheney did a few weeks ago. Boys will be boys, even into late middle age, but girls must ever remain passive and demure."
- Heinz Kerry has had much experience with Scaife's Tribune-Review. When she was the wife of liberal Republican senator John Heinz, she found herself and her husband under repeated attacks by the editorial board for not being conservative enough. The newspaper has gone much farther in its attempt to smear John Kerry; it recently printed an unsourced, unfounded allegation against her husband that said he had enjoyed a "very private" relationship with a young female staffer. Scaife-owned Web sites such as NewsMax took the allegations, founded on nothing but "pure malice," as Conason writes, and ran with them. These same "news" sites have attacked, again without foundation, Kerry's patriotism and his war record, and misrepresented and distorted his voting record in the Senate. "They happen to be operated by the same discredited scribblers who once tried to convince America that Bill and Hillary Clinton were murderers and drug smugglers," Conason reminds us. Last spring, the Scaife media empire began slandering Heinz Kerry as well, accusing her of funding, through a charity, Islamic terrorists and other radicals. A single phone call disproved their tissue of accusations, showing that the money Heinz Kerry had raised went to support anti-pollution efforts in Pennsylvania. Conason writes, "Those are only a few brief examples among dozens. The Scaife disinformation conglomerate has churned out nastiness about Ms. Heinz Kerry by the carload for years, and finally she talked back. The guy she scorched last Sunday was meant to take that message back to his boss in Pittsburgh -- a man who has deserved the brunt of such refreshing candor for a long, long time." (CNN, New York Observer/Working for Change)
- July 26: Yet more allegations of fraud, waste, and mismanagement over Halliburton's Iraq operations surface, with one auditor, Marie deYoung, saying, "It's just a gravy train." Army chaplain deYoung formerly sympathized with the company against previous allegations, even e-mailing the company with suggestions as how to fight what she then called "political slurs." But after five months in Kuwait, deYoung has changed her mind. She audited accounts for Halliburton's subsidiary KBR. She claims there was no effort to hold down costs because all costs were passed on directly to taxpayers. She repeatedly complained to superiors of waste and fraud. The company's response, according to deYoung was: "We can be as dumb and stupid as we want in the first year of a war, nobody's going to care." DeYoung shows documents detailing alleged waste even on routine services: $50,000 a month for soda, at $45 a case; $1 million a month to clean clothes, or $100 for each 15-pound bag of laundry. "That money could have been used to take care of soldiers," she says. DeYoung also claims people were paid to do nothing. Mike West says he was one of them. Paid $82,000 a year to be a labor foreman in Iraq, West claims he never had any laborers to supervise. "They said just log 12 hours a day and walk around and look busy," he says. "OK, so we did." In December auditors complained of Halliburton's "serious deficiencies," including "lack of cost control and cost consciousness." Some examples include: the purchase of hundreds of high-end SUVs and pickups, loaded with options like CD players, which "most KBR employees do not need;" "Duplication...and gold-plating" in purchases of computers and high-tech equipment; and Halliburton employees living in 5-star hotels. The company declined an interview but states that critics are politically motivated: "When Halliburton succeeds, Iraq progresses. Sadly, a few people don't want either of those results." Halliburton also says the soda problem has been "corrected," and the laundry charges are being investigated, but insists it's "absolutely not true" the company is cavalier about taxpayer money. DeYoung thinks the problem is obvious. "They're using the war as an excuse, but it's not the war," she says. "It was very bad management." Pentagon auditors apparently agree. They're withholding $186 million from the company and threatening to hold back even more unless Halliburton corrects the problems. (MSNBC)
- July 26: Research scientist Elaine Kitchel writes of the methods in place to verify that electronic votes are accurately recorded and counted. The votes are supervised by the national Election Center, a self-described "national clearinghouse and resource for the comparison of information" on various matters involving voting machines and elections. The Election Center is a nonprofit organization, with a substantial grant to train machine users and advise Congress and government agencies on voting machine process issues. The Election Center also provides staff services to the National Association of State Election Directors. Unfortunately for transparency and objectivity, the Election Center is funded by the voting machine industry. It is headed by R. Doug Lewis, who once owned a used computer store that went bankrupt and has no expertise in computer programming or computer systems. Lewis claims he he once worked for "a president" but can't prove it. As Kitchel writes, Lewis "is accepting large payments from all the voting machine companies, while at the same time sending his employees out to assure election officials that the electronic voting machines they are considering for purchase are perfectly reliable and certifiable." The problems with electronic voting machines are far worse than the publicly acknowledged hardware problems of ballot jams, memory card corruption, and modem failure. Each voting site will have an industry representative, an employee of Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia, or whichever firm provides that site's machines, available for technical assistance. Election officials can, if they choose, have those representatives actually tabulate their voting tallies, allowing them to manipulate the data as they choose. These representatives can also take the memory card to the election headquarters themselves for tabulation -- giving them the opportunity, if they so desire, to swap the real memory card with another one prepared in advance, with the results they or their employers choose. "Do you want your election results tabulated by someone who works for a company that makes the machines?" Kitchel asks, and reminds her readers that the CEOs of both Diebold and ES&S have promised to work for the re-election of George W. Bush. (Intervention Magazine)
- July 26: Al Gore gives a powerful speech to the Democratic convention in Boston. He alludes to the stolen 2000 election by opening, "I'm going to be candid with you. I had hoped to be back here this week under different circumstances, running for re-election. But you know the old saying: you win some, you lose some. And then there's that little-known third category. ...Take it from me, every vote counts. In our democracy, every vote has power. And never forget that power is yours. Don't let anyone take it away from you or talk you into throwing it away. And let's make sure that this time every vote is counted. Let's make sure that the Supreme Court does not pick the next president, and that this president is not the one who picks the next Supreme Court." He then moves on to a studied reflection on the effect of Bush's four years as president on his listeners, both in the convention hall and on TV: "I sincerely ask those watching at home tonight who supported President Bush four years ago: did you really get what you expected from the candidate you voted for? Is our country more united today? Or more divided? Has the promise of compassionate conservatism been fulfilled? Or do those words now ring hollow? For that matter, are the economic policies really conservative at all? For example, did you expect the largest deficits in history, year after year? One right after another? And the loss of more than a million jobs? ...Do you still believe that there was no difference between the candidates? Are you troubled by the erosion of America's most basic civil liberties? Are you worried that our environmental laws are being weakened and dismantled to allow vast increases in pollution that are contributing to a global climate crisis? No matter how you voted in the last election, these are profound problems that all voters must take into account this November 2."
- Speaking after Gore is former president Bill Clinton, who calls himself a "foot soldier" in the fight to elect Kerry and reshape America. He candidly admits that he, along with Bush and Cheney, ducked service in Vietnam while Kerry volunteered for duty. Kerry strategists, unlike the Gore campaign of 2004, believe Clinton, whose approval ratings have soared in the four years he has been out of office, is a symbol of better economic tiimes, and have embraced Clinton as a key member of their campaign. Of course, some party strategists worry that Clinton will dissuade some conservative Democrats and independent voters from voting for Kerry. Clinton is introduced by his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, who tells the convention that Kerry will "'lead the world, not alienate it."
- Other key speakers include former president Jimmy Carter, long treated as a pariah by party insiders but who has rehabilitated his position within the party by decades of unsung work with, among other anti-poverty groups, Habitat for Humanity. Carter gives a thoughtful, emotional message, and criticizes the Bush administration for "'unilateral acts" that have isolated the United States around the world: "'Recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice," Carter says, accusing Bush of implementing a "'confused and disturbing strategy of 'preemptive war.'" (Midnight Flyer [text of Gore's speech], AP/St. Augustine Tribune, Boston Globe [cached Google copy])
- July 26: On the first full day of the Democratic convention, John Kerry reaches out to conservative and independent voters while wrapping up pre-convention campaigning in Florida. "If you're conservative, there's nothing conservative about piling debt on the shoulders of our children and driving the deficits up as far as the eye can see," he says. "stop and think. Think about what's happening." The convention's prime-time addresses are by former president Bill Clinton and his vice president, Al Gore. Democrats are still discussing the Gore campaign's controversial decision to distance itself from Bill Clinton in 2000; the Democrats have decided to embrace Clinton and seek his help in electing Kerry. Outside the convention, a judge refuses to void a Secret Service decision not to let the volatile anti-abortion group Operation Rescue demonstrate outside the convention center. (WTNH-TV)
- July 26: While the Democrats are doing their best to stay positive and inclusive during their convention, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich advises his Republican colleagues to go harshly negative during the campaign, and focus strongly on "wedge issues" that will divide the electorate. Some issues Gingrich recommends include school prayer, toughening welfare restrictions, and anti-United Nations appeals, ignoring the real issues that concern voters but appealing to the Republican base of voters. Part of Gingrich's recommended course of action includes painting Kerry and Edwards as far-left, old-school Democrats who are "out of touch" with the mainstream of voters. (The Hill)
- July 26: Conservative columnist Robert Novak, considered by many the ultimate Washington insider in journalism, launches an amazing stream of invective against the Democrats who have spoken, or who are slated to speak, at the convention in Boston. He accuses Al Gore of engaging in "rants where he's screaming and yelling," calls Hillary Clinton "mean...[i]t's very hard for Hillary to be nice," and, in a puzzling allusion, refers to "flesh-eating" Democratic delegates. The allusion to Gore's "screaming and yelling" is an obvious and ugly attempt to resurrect the attempt by the Bush 2000 campaign to paint Gore as mentally ill.
- In a related instance, USA Today drops conservative attack pundit Ann Coulter as its columnist from the Democratic convention after finding her first report from Boston unpublishable. The newspaper says it dropped Coulter over "different conceptions of what the column should be." Coulter publishes her column on her own Web site: it begins, "Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do. My allies are the ones wearing crosses or American flags. The people sporting shirts emblazoned with the 'F-word' are my opponents." She continues, "My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie-chick pie wagons they call 'women' at the Democratic National Convention." Liberal writer Eric Alterman says that USA Today found her first column a compendium of unreadable personal attacks and decided to sever ties with her. (Media Matters, CBS, American Progress)
- July 27: US aircraft drop leaflets on the city of Fallujah, warning residents that if they don't stop attacking US positions and allow US troops to enter the city peacefully, the US will withdraw $102 million in rebuilding funds. Since April, US troops have withdrawn from the city, a hotbed of Iraqi resistance, and have left responsibility for security to Iraqi forces. Critics say the move has turned Fallujah into a safe haven for insurgents and put the city under the control of guerrillas. "If the security situation does not improve you will lose $102-million, which is already allocated and approved. This amount of money will be transferred to peaceful and open towns," the leaflet says. (Reuters/IOL)
- July 27: "Rising star" Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for senate in Illinois, gives a rousing keynote speech at the Democratic convention that many feel is the best of the entire proceedings. He talks frankly about his father, a former Kenyan goat farmer who came to America and married his mother, a Kansas native, and how the two worked to send him to college; he earns roars of approval when he calls himself "a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too." His speech focuses on the concept of hope and rebirth, and confirms his status as a major player in the "next generation" of Democratic leaders. He is harsh in his criticism of "spinmeisters" who "like to slice and dice the country into red states and blue states. I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America. There's the United States of America."
- Also speaking is Senator Edward Kennedy, who ratchets up the anti-Bush rhetoric with a measured but stern attack on Bush's policies. Kerry "knows that a true leader inspires hope and vanquishes fear. This administration does neither. Instead, it brings fear." He adds, "Our struggle is not with some monarch named George who inherited the crown -- although it often seems that way. Our struggle is with the politics of fear and favoritism in our own time, in our own country. Our struggle, like so many others before, is with those who put their own narrow interest ahead of the public interest." Kennedy is the strongest speaker to date to come out in opposition to the Iraq occupation, which Kerry supports. Kerry's wife Teresa Heinz Kerry gives a speech that wins many sympathetic listeners with her straightforward, no-nonsense approach and her welcome to listeners in several other languages (French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish). "In America, the true patriots are those who dare speak truth to power," she tells the appreciative crowd. "The truth we must speak now is that America has responsibilities that it is time for us to accept again." And she evokes her husband's experiences in Vietnam: "John is a fighter. He earned his medals the old-fashioned way, by putting his life on the line for his country. No one will defend this nation more vigorously than he will, and he will always be first in the line of fire. But he also knows the importance of getting it right. For him, the names of too many friends inscribed in the cold stone of the Vietnam Memorial testify to the awful toll exacted by leaders who mistake stubbornness for strength." Many Republicans are angered with the address by Ron Reagan Jr., the son of the former Republican president, who calls on Democrats to "cast a vote for embryonic cell research:" Kerry fully supports such research, but Bush has refused to support it except in the most limited fashion, earning the ire of Nancy Reagan. Other speakers include Howard Dean, the favorite of the increasingly militant leftist wing of the party. Dean, considered a party maverick and in many ways the political successor to the late Paul Wellstone, publicly asks his 201 party delegates to cast their votes for Kerry.
- During Heinz Kerry's speech, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin unfurls a large banner reading, "End the Occupation of Iraq." The banner is only displayed for a few moments before Benjamin is hustled out of the convention center by police. As she is being removed, she shouts, "End the occupation! Bring the troops home! End the occupation! Bring the troops home! Where's free speech?" Police force her to leave the center.
- Vanessa Kerry, the youngest daughter of the presidential nominee, tells the press she personally is in favor of marriage for gays, a position her father does not hold. The convention organizers have tried to keep the issue of gay marriage out of the limelight, fearing it might cause divisiveness among the party faithful. John Kerry is in favor of civil unions for gays. (Democracy Now [includes transcript of Obama speech], Boston Globe [cached Google copy], AP/PhillyBurbs, AP/Newsmax, AP/Newsmax [text of Heinz Kerry's speech], New York Daily News, Democracy Now)
- July 27: Senate Democrats reveal that US archivist John Carlin was forced last December by Bush officials to resign without giving Carlin a reason for leaving his post. Carlin, a strictly non-partisan official, will be replaced by a Bush appointee. Many Democrats feel that Bush wants one of his own in the position of Archivist of the US in order to help keep his father's presidential papers, due to become public in January 2005, under wraps. Bush has nominated Allen Weinstein as Carlin's replacement. (Washington Post/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- July 27: Economist Paul Krugman writes a dour editorial warning of the potential of electronic vote tampering in November 2004, using as an example a race in Riverside, California, where one candidate won a local race after interference from a voting-machine company official, who apparently tampered with the results, but because the machines provide no paper trail, there was no possibility of a recount. Krugman reminds readers of the systemic voter fraud in Florida in 2000, where thousands of voters were denied their legal right to vote, and now the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, the president's brother, says he will refuse to allow any examination of voting machines currently in use in his state. "Why should anyone trust their verdict on the integrity of voting machines, when another convenient mistake could deliver a Republican victory in a high-stakes national election?" Krugman asks. "This shouldn't be a partisan issue. Think about what a tainted election would do to America's sense of itself, and its role in the world. In the face of official stonewalling, doubters probably wouldn't be able to prove one way or the other whether the vote count was distorted -- but if the result looked suspicious, most of the world and many Americans would believe the worst." (New York Times/Truthout)
- July 27: The Nation's David Corn says that, as is so often the case, Democrats are trying to have it both ways: they want to bash Bush's policies and agendas, but don't want to come across as indulging in personal attacks. "Instead, the Democrats are engaging in Bush-bashing without the Bush," Corn writes. "That is, they are going after the deeds and the decisions, not the man." Of all people to lead the way, Jimmy Carter fired the first salvo, by reminding listeners that Kerry "showed up" for service in the military (Bush, of course, did not), and repeatedly attacked the veracity of Bush administration claims without using the "L" word -- lie -- that Kerry has requested not be used. He gives the most credit for velvet-knife attacks to Bill Clinton, who lit into Bush's economic policies, handling of Iraq, fondness of assault weapons, attacks on Social Security, and even Bush's failure to serve in the military, without once stooping to the level of personal characterization. Corn writes admiringly, "Clinton pummeled Bush in a most sophisticated and effective manner. One need not be a Clinton fan to acknowledge that he showed his party how best to engage in Bush-bashing. ...[I]t is not necessary to call Bush a 'liar' to make the point. Clinton, who was pounded by the right and who had his own problems with truth-telling, demonstrated to his comrades how it is far better for them to wield a stiletto than a sledgehammer when trying to cut up a political foe." (Nation)
- July 27: Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg uses his first of four commentaries from the Democratic National Convention to revisit the conservative heyday of Clinton-bashing, using the former president's speech as a launching pad to attack all things Clintonian. After comparing the convention delegates to the "Children of the Corn" because of their enthusiastic response to Clinton, he begins attacking Clinton just like it was 1998 all over again. (Historical note: it was the slanders, lies, and crimes perpetuated by Goldberg's mother Lucianne that played a key role in the eventual failed impeachment of Clinton. See the extensive information on Lucianne Goldberg elsewhere in this site for more information. Most people on both sides of the political divide also credit her for getting her son a post as a political pundit. Jonah Goldberg makes no mention of any of this in any of his columns, not that one can blame him.) Goldberg attacks Clinton for claiming that "his ban of a few boutique brands of 'deadly' assault weapons contributed to the drop in the crime rate," ignoring the fact that under Clinton, the rate of violent crime, particularly those involving the use of firearms, dropped steadily under Clinton for year after year. (And is Goldberg, by his phrasing "'deadly' assault weapons," implying that these weapons are not deadly?) Goldberg also assails the Democrats for portraying the Republicans as divisive; I invite the reader to peruse the pages of this site for one example after another of such divisiveness from the GOP, from corralling protesters into "free speech zones" behind barbed wire to calling Democrats who oppose their policies "traitors."
- Goldberg also twists the facts into a pretzel, claiming that Democrats' claims of Bush officials' malfeasance have all been soundly refuted by impartial investigation, writing, "The Senate Intelligence Committee report, the British Butler Report and the 9/11 Commission report undermine every key allegation of the anti-Bush flat-earthers. The 9/11 Commission, which was being hailed as an oracular council of truth and light when it made Bush look bad, has essentially said the Patriot Act does not go far enough (and Ashcroft, by the way, never even poked his nose in a library); that Bush never lied and that several of Bush's more famous accusers did -- including those who, knowing otherwise, insisted that Bush's '16 words' about Saddam Hussein's pursuit of uranium were lies." Unfortunately, as has been documented elsewhere in this site, Goldberg's claim of Bush being exonerated are complete lies. Both the 9/11 Commission Report and the Butler Report are highly critical of the Bush and Blair policies. Ashcroft's Justice Department has investigated scores of libraries for "unAmerican" book borrowings. And the infamous "16 words" claiming that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium from Niger have long since been proven to be a deliberate, carefully crafted lie. Goldberg concludes by writing, "The Boston Democrats are running on the fumes of a Bush-record-that-never-was. They gripe about how he's cut education spending, when he's increased it by more than 35%. They claim he lied about WMDs when he didn't. They say he's violated civil liberties when he's been fighting for the survival of liberty. They're betting everything that they can cross the finish line before the American public realizes that the Democrats are coasting on an empty tank." Unfortunately for Goldberg's credibility, everything he says in that final paragraph, except for the opinion stated in the final sentence, is an easily disproven lie. While Goldberg calls leftist filmmaker Michael Moore a "modern-day Joe McCarthy," he forgets, or refuses to admit, that not only do many of his colleagues such as Ann Coulter publicly admire and revere the Republican McCarthy, it is Goldberg who is sinking to the depths of easily disproven historical revisionism, not Moore or the convention Democrats. (USA Today)