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Feb. 20, 2004 | 11:19 AM ET

I’ve got this small excerpt from The Book on Bush in the Nation, about science policy which dovetails nicely with the statement by those scientists yesterday.  It’s here.

Here’s Tomasky:
Danger ahead, Mary Beth Cahill.  The New York primary looms.  And the danger doesn't come from John Edwards.  His anti-NAFTA message may play well in beleaguered upstate New York, but in a Democratic primary, there aren't enough votes upstate to worry about.  No, your New York problem is going to be Al Sharpton, who will have you on his home turf.  I was a political writer in New York City for 15 years or so, and I had a front-row seat to the Sharpton theater.  You might even call me a repeat season subscriber, albeit by force rather than by choice.  Let me tell you a little bit about what I saw. Here.

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Here’s Pierce:
Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Eric --
It was getting crowded already in the grandstand of the Old Pundit's Dogtrack and here comes Mickey Kaus staggering down trackside, his name pinned to his sweater, and telling the same old jokes.

It was a tough week for the Mickster. At last report, he's sort of signed aboard the John Edwards thang, since John Kerry was revealed to have aides who planned to, like, you know, run an actual campaign. Thugs!  Hoodlums!  Mountebanks!  People start moving away from Mickey here and off toward the $2 window.

'Tweren't always thus, though.  Earlier in the week, Mickey was regaling folks about that silly Edwards and his silly concentration on those silly poor people.  First, through the NYT's John (Too Manly To Recycle) Tierney, Mickey informs us that poor children do not go without winter coats because they can buy them for $5 at most thrift shops, though not the ones at which all the Important Pundits shop.  "The problem of U.S. policy is...not one of abject material want," Mickey says, hanging his whole sorry-ass public career rather, well, abjectly, on the word "abject."  Later, he became very upset that Edwards expressed sympathy with the distressed unemployed.  "Are these people or sheep?" asks Mickey, who has never been unemployed nearly long enough.  And, all around him, other men in fishing hats and yellow sweaters bury their faces in the tout sheets and wait for Security to arrive.

Things I'm Supposed To Care About:

  1. A-Rod To The Yankees: Suck it up, Red Sox. The most important player in the AL East is Javier Vasquez, the young pitcher that the Yankees signed away from Montreal who, I think, wins 20 fronting that lineup.
  2. Mel's Movie: I will be avoiding "Heebie Jeebus" for as long as I can, having served as an altar boy on the endless Good Friday liturgies for 11 consecutive years.

Here’s Stupid:
Name: Stupid
Hometown: Chicago

Eric, it's Stupid to propose amending the Constitution.  And I'm not talking gay marriage.  Bear with me: We should change the 14th Amendment so that children born here to non-citizen parents are not automatically granted citizenship.

The left needs to put aside its anti-Pat-Buchanan reflex (hey, they did it for the war).  Illegal immigration is bad enough.  Do you really believe all those illegal immigrants working sub-minimum wage are doing "jobs that no American would do?"  In every recession I've lived through I've seen pictures of Americans lined up to apply for minimum wage jobs.  How about nannies?  I have an African-American friend who insists that if hiring an illegal alien nanny landed you in jail, wages would go up and far more African-American women would get hired.  Lax illegal worker enforcement acts as a huge regressive tax.

But at least those social costs are potentially controllable.  Citizenship is endless. Where is the racial justice in the comparative ease the desperately poor of Latin America have in securing citizenship for future generations compared to the desperately poor of Africa and Asia?  And what are the costs to our own poor, let alone working class (thanks to Dubya that's a dwindling distinction, but nevertheless...)?  Say we took all of the public money spent in California on the second and third generations of illegal immigrants and subtracted those oft-vaunted "contributions to the economy," but then ADDED BACK the contribution of the same income had it gone to American citizens, how much would California have?  What could it fund?  

In 1996 Michael Lind questioned the liberal orthodoxy on immigration.  He was attacked on grounds of principle (we're a nation of immigrants and all that) but he wasn't touched on substance.  What's frightening is the reason nobody in the mainstream talks about this anymore: fear of alienating the Latino-American vote.  And you thought Israel was a touchy issue!

I recognize I've made some huge oversimplifications above for the sake of succinctness - of course if this generates any response I'd be happy to go into more detail!  For the record, I do English language tutoring with immigrants and have never inquired as to legal status.

Here’s Everybody Else:
Another reader writes (anonymously):
Proof of another inconsistency in White House comments re National Guard - claiming that the F-102 was being phased out in Texas ANG 111th Squadron in 1972.

From a detailed history of the F-102 in regular Air Force and Air National Guard squadrons:

Scroll to "Air National Guard",  2nd line.  The F-102 was used by Bush's 111th Squadron until 1975, a year after his 6 years' service would have end.  A new aircraft replaced the F-102 in 1975.

Name: David Lloyd-Jones
For a great story on Administration incompetence in Iraq: most grunts are driving around in un-armored, suburban, Hummers.

Name: Matt Shirley
Hometown: Scott AFB, IL

Mr. Alterman,
I am down with all the criticisms of the current Administration from your current correspondents.  I am particularly encouraged to hear a fellow vet like Mr. Haywood say he is not voting for them again.  Hurrah!  I thought I was the only Donkey left in the career officer corps.

I am, however, concerned about the tone of our comments.  We have let our justified, but nonetheless bitter comments on the state of current affairs dominate our thinking.  First, this is making us unduly pessimistic.  The current Administration "won" a debatable majority of the electoral votes, despite the fact that they failed to win not only a majority but even a plurality of the popular votes, only because a profoundly fat-headed Third Party movement decided they wanted to throw the election.  Don't let the mid-term election fool you; the country was still in Sept. 11 post-traumatic stress mode.  That was then; this is now; these guys, after going back on every single "compassionate conservative" promise they made last time around, are eminently vulnerable.

Second, we absolutely have to offer the country something other than constant kvetching to make us all feel like we are voting FOR something.  Case in point: national health care. … (Edit note from Eric: Sorry dude, this part was too long.)

Another case in point: how much money are we losing in property values alone merely because large tracts of urban school systems suck?  Anyone who has ever shopped for a home can tell you how strong an influence on property values is the quality of the local school system.  How much could we regain just in rapidly escalating property values if we improve certain school districts, and wouldn't that be worth more than the current paltry sums being expended on public education in these areas?  …

To sum up, we Democrats have to articulate why we are NOT all rugged individualists, as the doctrinaire wing of the Republican Party would have us believe.  That we are all together in many of our current problems, and that the only way we can save ourselves individually, is to save us all through collective action.  We got to be for something, and until we are I fear we will continue to let the current Adminsration get away with lowered expectations for most of us, and run away perks and profits for a connected few.

Name: Jon Landau
Hometown: Greenwich, CT

So at this point, the following statements by Drudge and/or Brian Flynn of Murdoch's Sun appear to have been untrue:

  1. That an affair took place.
  2. That 3 or more major media outlets were close to printing something about any of this.
  3. That there is an explosive smoking gun interview sitting on some mainstream media
    producer's desk
  4. That the story came from Democrats (Chris Lahane and General Clark, take your pick)
  5. That the woman's parents called Kerry a "sleazeball"  (Does it not seem slightly preposterous that the parents would have picked Brian Flynn of the Sun to give this exclusive charecterization to?)

Question:  What form of press follow up is likely to follow?  Drudge acts like nothing happened, right wing radio complains that the story didn't get enough play, even though it turned out to be false, and the mainstream media pats itself on the back for mainting some distance but does not pursue how a story like this could gotten as far as it did. 

In the end, no one ever accused anyone of anything except for Drudge.  Who was he acting for, what was his timing based on, and did he have help in inventing all of this.

This just in: I suck
Name: Gina
Hometown: NH

I am disappointed that you would publish an e-mail such as Rebecca Sheir's which came to no real point about George Bush but served only to sling mean & meaningless insults. I don't agree that it was a 'good' e-mail.  Please show a little more responsibility.  Thank you.

Name: Cynthia Bazinet
Hometown: Worcester, Massachusetts
Howard Dean did all the heavy lifting while everyone--including you--sat around and watched. 

I suppose I should be grateful that you've grown to appreciate something the guy did, but I'm not.  Too little, too late.

Given the tenor of your comments over the past year about Howard Dean, it became clear to me that you're part of the problem, Alterman. 

Best of luck, nonetheless, with your new book.

Feb. 19, 2004 | 12:25 PM ET

Things Bush is not, according to Scott. M:

  1. A fact-checker
  2. A statistician

I’m on the road to Sebastopol today and doing zillions of radio interviews in between, so I don’t have much time for substance.  I did notice this this morning however, “60 leading scientists and former federal agency heads who released a statement yesterday accused the Bush administration of systematically suppressing and distorting scientific information to further its political goals.”  Need I add this is par for their course?

The one thing I learned in editing the domestic policy sections of the book that Mark Green wrote is that no matter what the area, the tactic is always the same.  Bait and switch.  It’s egregious how badly the media has allowed them to get away with it.  After all, this crap with science policy, buried inside the Washington Post—it’s going to kill people.

Congrats to Altercation Correspondent Bob Bateman for winning The 2004 Colby award for No Gun Ri for best military writing.  And thanks to Bob for calling our attention to these two sentences in a Washington Times article by Rowan Scarborough about the decision to allow the Green Berets to take on intelligence-related missions:

“One benefit of having the Green Berets do battle space preparation is that it would not require the administration to submit a "finding" or notification to Congress.  Under Title 50 of the U.S. code, which controls CIA operations, the administration would have to notify Congress if the agency took on that mission.”

New Think Again column here on the telling history of the media’s non-investigation of Bush’s National Guard duty when it might have made a difference. Archives, once again, are here and the Center’s home page is here Home I am a fascist. Read all about it here.  (And by the way, we are entering the Times extended best seller list next week at #20.)

Correspondents’ Corner: (Thanks to all the writers for picking up the slack.)

Name: S. Haywood
Hometown: Silsbee, TX

Hi thanks for publishing my e-mail a while back.  Here is another one for you.

Thanks for screwing the Veterans once again President Bush!

I received my Army Times dated 23 Feb 2004.  I was on page 60 in the editorials section and the title states, "Vets get home-loan shaft."  Interesting article, everybody should take a peek.  It states that, "President Bush's 2005 budget request contains a proposal to prevent any veteran from using the VA home loan more than once."  To paraphrase the article, it quoted certain congressional aides as saying that the mortgage industry doesn't like the idea that VA borrowers dont have to have private mortgage insurance.

The mortgage industry has stuck it to private consumenrs over the years by the misuse of mortgage insurance and even gotten into some hot water over it.  Hrmmm...sounds like a special interest to me.  Quoting the article again, "Ironically the VA program's self supporting design means limiting loans would cost the government money, something VA Secretary Anthony Principi acknowledged in testimony before the House Veterans Committee on Feb 4." To paraphrase again, second and third time home buyers are the safest bets for addtional loans and put a 2% origination fee into the VA Kitty that pays for defaulted loans.  Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

Is this administration willing to screw over the taxpayers and veterans in one fell swoop?  Sounds like pandering to the mortgage industry to me.  This administration has failed to ensure that soldiers were provided enough body armor, armored Humvees, and other essentials.  Now it wants to stick it to Veterans in the form of cutting back VA Hospitals, longer waiting lists in spite of the fact that the number of veterans will increase after our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As if that were not enough, another gift:

"Under the Bush proposal, if an employer determines that the training veterans have received in the military is equivalent to a four-year professional degree, that employer will now be allowed to deny those veterans overtime eligibility and refuse to pay them anything for overtime work. This proposal is offensive."
-According to an article on the AFL-CIO website.

I voted for you last time... not this time.  I was talking with some more veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom today.  They are not voting for you either.

This is why Mr. Bush will not get my vote again..and has to go!

Name: Jeff Weed
Hometown: Denton, TX
Dear Eric,
I'm Blue here in perhaps the Reddest of all Red States.  Not only is our former Guv now doing to the rest of the nation what he's done to us, his former franchise (and the team I've followed since childhood) just PAID the Yankee Empire of George III to take our best player--a move that a Yankees broadcaster likened to giving food stamps to Donald Trump. 

Admittedly, the original A-Rod contract was absurd to begin with. This was compounded by the subsequent undue influence of Baseball Anti-Christ agent Scott Boras upon team decisions.  (Failed pitching free-agent signee Chan Ho Park was--surprise!--a Boras client, too.) 

Current Rangers owner Tom Hicks revealed a Bush-esque approach to deferred salary payments that will be due to A-rod in 20 years.  He said that he'd let his grandkids worry about those payments.  Perhaps Mr. Hicks's grandkids could star in a spot.  It almost makes me long for the days of "Mad Eddie" Chiles--the late right-wing nut who used to own the team in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  Almost.

Feb. 18, 2004 | 12:10 PM ET

A few quick observations on Wisconsin as the rain follows me from Seattle to San Francisco.

  1. Howard Dean is like the old reel-to-reel tape in “Mission Impossible.”  He gave the rest of the candidates their instructions and then self-destructed.  In doing so, he may have helped save the party and the country. Thanks Howard.
  2. It’s also a great thing, thanks to Howard, that Trippi and company are planning to try to find a way to institutionalize the Dean movement.  This is exactly what past insurgent candidates—Jesse Jackson, Jerry Brown—have failed to do, at great cost to liberalism and progressive politics generally.  (And it is what Nader could have done if he weren’t bent on electing George Bush!)
  3. On Edwards: Is perhaps part of the reason tht he media keep missing his late surges because they treat with contempt his message about jobs, NAFTA, and free trade?  Damn right it is.  Edwards is an almost magical candidate once you get to see him up close.  In Wisconsin he showed his ability to bring in Republicans and independents which I believe is another way of spelling “electability.”  The big question becomes, will voters ever get to see him up close?
  4. But Terry McC and the other machers in the Democratic party designed this process in large measure to prevent something like a late surge for Edwards from happening.  This was self-defeating lunacy.

    Having a Democrat wrap up the nomination in the beginning of process prevents people form taking a good hard look at his flaws before deciding who to choose, and increases the likelihood of buyer’s remorse—a la Dukakis.  It also takes the Democrats and their framing of the issues out of the news. This primary season has done nothing but good for the party and for the nation’s debate.  The longer it goes on, the longer the Bush team will be incapable of defining things the way they want them defined.  (By the September convention, it will be Kerry who deserted his National Guard post.)  So the question becomes, is there enough oxygen, i.e. money and media attention left for Edwards’ candidacy to get an honest hearing?  Or has Kerry wrapped it up already by virtue of the big mo’? 

    The answer: I dunno; gotta catch a plane.

Here’s some good mail:

Name: Tom Reeves
Hometown: Evansville, IN

Dear Eric,
Wow, for once (and really mean once) you and I agree on something other than music.  This sex thing with Kerry is nuts.  I want Bush to beat Kerry but I want it to happen fair and square.  I really don't care if Kerry shacked up with an intern as long as he didn't harrass her or break any laws.  It doesn't look like either of those are the case -- or that he even shacked up with her.  However, when you play a game that is about throwing mud you can't get upset if you get a little muddy.  Everyone just needs to tone it down and be a bit more rational.

Name: Rebecca Sheir
Hometown: Iowa City

I am writing in response to a comment you made in your recent interview with Liberal Oasis.  As you remarked, "I can't tell you a single good thing [Dubya] has done for the country." 

Mr. Alterman, while I am a longtime fan and habitue of Altercation, I beg to differ. In fact, there's a veritable bounty of charitable deeds G-Dub has performed for this great land of ours...

  1. He's given a whole new sector of America a reason to feel smarter.
  2. He's given us a whole new reason to despise Texas.
  3. He's given hope to all those Andover cheerleaders out there with a history of substance abuse, mediocre to middling grades, and dodgy military records that they, too, can one day rule the world (talk about 'No child left behind'...!).
  4. He's exposed the potential dangers of salted pretzels, thereby pre-emptively saving the lives of millions of snack eaters the world over.
  5. He's done much to encourage personal expression, creativity and nonconformity -- especially in the realm of language.  Who says that you *have* to pronounce the second syllable in "terrORists"?  And why in the world *shouldn't* there be an extra syllable in "nuclear"?  Free your mind, people!  Free your mind!
  6. He's encouraged national cohesiveness.  After all, as the man himself has been known to say: "Our nation must come together to unite."
  7. He's promoted the fundamental basics of the golden rule.  To paraphrase his profound advice as uttered in "Time" magazine: Thou shalt not be "a revengeful" person.
  8. He makes even Lyndon Larouche look good right about now.
  9. He's increased access to health care, promoted education, fixed up the economy, created new jobs, protected the environment, stood up for minority rights, enacted foreign policy without losing American liv -- oh, wait, sorry, that was the guy who came *before* him...
  10. He's enabled the careers of scores of stand-up comedians, late-night talk show hosts, writers for 'Saturday Night Live,' and liberal punks like me, by selflessly giving them a plethora of new material to lampoon (hey -- perhaps he *has* created those new jobs, after all!).

Thank you for your time, and so sorry to quibble, but I just wanted to set the record straight -- or as straight as the record *can* be when you've got a conservative administration, congress, and media on your hands...

Down with Dubya,
Rebecca Sheir

Name: Michael Kenny
Hometown: New York City

Comments: I got a haircut with John Kerry.

Many years ago I was sitting in the chair at the Salpini hair salon on Newbury Street in Boston and when I looked over there was John Kerry getting a trim.  At the time I thought, "Hm. There's John Kerry," paid and left.

Now that this idiotic topic has somehow made the news, though thankfully not recently, I was reminded of it.  This was before he married into an ungodly fortune.  My haircuts cost 28 dollars.  While Salpini had, no doubt, senior stylists costing more, this was still basically a middle of the road salon on a street where you could, indeed, get a 200 dollar or more haircut (mid late 80's - adjust for inflation.)

Salpini closed when Sal and Pini split up, and no doubt Kerry went on to bigger and better coifs.  But, while this was no corner barber, it was just a regular haircut.

I'm not sure what that says. But I just wanted to point it out. I can't believe I even wasted my time on this.

BTW, where's the link to the Drudge Report?  There are links to all the other articles you mention.  Sure he's a no talent slimeball who got lucky and has a instinct for shameless self-promotion, but that's no reason to be a pussy about it.  Or perhaps it was just an "oversite?"

Keep up the good work.

Name: Todd Plofker
Hometown: Waltham, MA
Dear Eric:
I agree that Barry Bonds is a better player than Alex Rodriguez.  But the Times might be able to make a case that A-Rod is "perhaps the best player in the game."  After all, he's a shortstop, and a good glove there, and he's an all-around offensive threat.  Yes, Barry's got far more offense, but he plays a less important defensive position, and, for my money, plays it less well.  Anyhow, hearts are broken up here in Red Sox Nation.  Damn those Yankee imperialists!

Feb. 17, 2004 | 10:24 AM ET

The Kerry intern story seems to be over.  Drudge thinks it’s the rest of our business that the woman in question, currently in Africa and denying that she ever had anything to do with Kerry, may once have had a thing with someone who works on the campaign.  If true, this seems to me a new low.  Is everybody who ever did anything with anyone fair game merely because they work for a political candidate?  We have enough trouble already getting decent people to commit themselves to politics and this strikes me as a powerful reason to stay away.  Who the hell wants Drudge sticking his nose in your personal life, without even the pretense of any public interest whatever?

Mickey Kaus, who seems to have lost his grip entirely when it comes to Kerry, appears to be arguing that it’s OK to publish all this stuff because well, it’s about sex.  Clinton lied about sex and was impeached and since the Kerry story is about sex, well, … actually, to tell you the truth, I don’t follow it.  I thought the problem with Clinton was that he lied UNDER OATH.  Even if Kerry were lying about sleeping with an intern, it wouldn’t be anybody’s business, right?  Because there’s no grand jury, there are no oaths, there again, is no public interest whatever, save nosy busybodyism.

Glenn Frankel is dead right.  Mickey really ought to come back to earth.  He can hate Kerry all he wants.  He can even think that his personal likes and dislikes are more important than say, whether or not a candidate is likely to deliberately mislead the country into war.  But if it’s ok to pry into Kerry’s sex life because Clinton lied about sex, what is to stop us from prying into Mickey’s?  What the hell does the Clinton case—as weak as it is for prying journalists—have to do with Kerry?  Do candidates now have to pass a sex test?  And who is going to give it to them?  Drudge?  Kaus?  Andy?  Let he who is without sin….

Anyway, all the hoopla was for naught. The woman denies it and so there was no story.  Matt Drudge has further discredited himself—assuming that was possible—and in doing so has helped some journalists further debase themselves.  Congrats to those who resisted.

I’m in Portland, about to head to Seattle, where I’m speaking at Town Hall, I’m told, rather than at Elliott Bay.  We had a terrific turnout and a useful, encouraging discussion at the First Unitarian Church here, but the hall in Seattle seems awfully large so feel free to show up even if you think Bush is a great guy.  Then go over to see the interview Bill at Liberal Oasis was good enough to do with me for The Book on Bush, and learn about why you’re wrong. You can find it here.  Bring an umbrella.

Stop the Presses: MSNBC-TV Does Something Right:  I generally try to avoid the subject of MSNBC TV here, except when they do something so "Savage" I can't live with myself if I don't mention it.  I haven't been able to say anything positive about, really anything it's done, since I stopped working for it in 1998.  I mean Joe Scarborough is a nice guy, but that's as far as I could go--which was OK, because not much there ever really lasted.

But hey, Rick Kaplan is the perfect choice to take it over and turn MSNBC into something in which everyone associated with the network can (finally) take pride.  He helped build Nightline into the best news show on network television--(and the second best, and the third best) by hiring a crack staff and letting them do their jobs.  He paid attention both to news values and to production values. And CNN made a great deal more sense under his watch than it has in the recent past, though it's fair to say, not as much as it might have. At Harvard and at ABC during the war, Kaplan has had time to rethink what works and what doesn't and apply it to a place that has too much of the latter and precious little of the former.

With MSNBC he's got a near clean slate and plenty of resources to work with.  Not everything he tries will work, but I'm guessing the days of Faux-Fox are over.  Congrats to Rick and to whoever it was at NBC with the good sense to make this appointment.  Finally, it's a new day on cable.  Let's see what it's turns out to be good for.

Feb. 16, 2004 | 9:54 AM ET

It’s a holiday and I’m flying to Portland, so I really shouldn’t even be here, but Pierce got lost on Friday and then there’s this:

Deserter Update: The more things change: President George W. Bush earned the nickname "the Texas Souffle" in 1972 when he moved to Alabama to work on a Senate campaign of Winton M. (Red) Blount.  Murphy Archibald, a nephew of Blount’s who worked on the campaign that fall, recalled that a group of older Alabama socialites, who were volunteering their time, gave Bush the nickname because they thought that he  "looked good on the outside but was full of hot air," Archibald tells Time

And who says the National Guard is not the perfect training ground to be president?  Un-Americans, that’s who. Hey I figured it out. Maybe he drank that special invisible potion the professor made up accidentally for Gilligan and that’s why nobody saw him at the base. Seriously, this is who Bush was and is.  You knew it back in 2000 if you were paying attention (or reading my column.)  The media knew it too, but ignored it. Now it’s a big story. Had it been one four years ago, history would have recorded a much happier history for our nation and the world.

Speaking of which, Tomasky and I wrote the cover story for the American Prospect this month, on the media and Bush, and how to stop letting him get away with all the crap he got away with last time.  It’s here.

Don’t believe the SCLM, not about politics, not about sports.  Twice in Sunday’s Times, writers term A-Rod, “perhaps the best player in the game.” Excuse me. This is idiotic. Look at the stats. Barry may have pumped himself up a bit, but he’s not just the best in the game today, he’s in the top five of all time. wins one.

The Guardian offers 25 authors the opportunity to take sides on the war, here.

Alter-appearances this week:

  • Portland, 2/16, FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH, 1011 SW 12th Ave, 7:00
  • Seattle, 2/17, ELLIOTT BAY BOOK COMPANY 101 S. Main Street, 7:30
    CORRECTION:  This appearance is at the Town Hall in Seattle.  The event is sponsored by the Elliott Bay Bookstore.
  • San Francisco, 2/18 CLEAN WELL LIGHTED PLACE 601 Van Ness Avenue, 7:00
  • Sebastopol, CA 2/19 COPPERFIELD'S BOOKS & MUSIC 138 N. Main St. Sebastopol, 7:00

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Eric --
It was nice to get documentary proof from official White House files that, as we expected all along, C-Plus Augustus does, in fact, bite.

OK, so a while back, some Kerry op announced that if things got mucky, "everything is on the table."  Teresa H. K. also stated that, if they went after her man with sleaze, she would unleash the Great Condiment Treasure in response.

OK, kids. Now's the time.

The question, of course, is what "everything" really is.  If it's personal stuff -- in which I include, for the sake of this post, the AWOL material -- then I'll be disappointed.  However, Kerry's got Rand Beers on his staff who, I'm willing to bet, knows more than a little about the Sleepy Daze in Crawford immediately before Sept. 11, 2001.  In addition, Kerry spent the 1980's hip-deep in Iran-Contra, BCCI, Iraqgate, the October Surprise and a lot of the other spectres that come to haunt Poppy Bush if they spice his chowder a little too heavily at bedtime.  More than any other candidate, it's Kerry who can bring down the whole oily house of cards that Kevin Phillips describes with such vivid invective in one of the two books that everyone should buy.

Now is the time, though.  Even if this Drudgery came from another Democratic campaign  -- hell, even if it's true -- this administration nevertheless is built on 20 years of obvious lies.  It's teetering right on the brink.  Do it yourself, or arm the person who will.  One good shove...

Mini-Alter-Review: "Simple Twist of Fate -- Bob Dylan and The Making of Blood On The Tracks." In which the so-called "anonymous Minnesota musicians" finally get the credit they deserve -- and were apparently hosed out of by Bob's brother -- for creating the signature sound of The Master's masterpiece.  One quibble: Unwarranted disrespect paid herein to "Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts," the best Western written since "McCabe And Mrs. Miller."

Correspondents Corner:

Name: Rich Gallagher
Hometown: Fishkill, NY

Re: Bush Air National Guard Records

Several serious questions remain regarding President Bush's Air National Guard service, but most of the media seem to be missing the most important ones.

1. The White House has produced a retired Lt. Colonel named Bill Calhoun, who claims that he attended drills with Bush at the 187th Tac Recon Group in the summer of 1972. However, no one seems to have noticed that Bush's temporary, three-month transfer to the 187th Tac Recon Group wasn't approved until September 6, 1972. He couldn't possibly have been attending drills with the squadron in the summer of 1972 when he didn't have orders to report until September.

2. Dan Bartlett claims that Bush didn't take his annual flight exam in the late spring of 1972 because "he was in non-flying capacity in another state."  But this is demonstrably untrue. Bush applied for a transfer to the 9921 Air Reserve Squadron in Alabama on May 24, 1972, but his request was denied on May 31 by the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver. This means that Bush was still officially attached to the Texas Air National Guard until his transfer to Alabama came through in September.

3. The White House claims that Bush returned to Texas in November, 1972 after working on Winton Blount's unsuccessful campaign for the Senate.  However, the dental records produced by the White House show that Bush received dental treatment from an Alabama National Guard dentist on January 6, 1973.  If Bush returned to Texas in November, why was he back in Alabama two months later?

As far as #3 is concerned, my guess is that Bush did return to Texas in November but never reported for duty at Ellington AFB. He probably went back to Alabama for the dental treatment because he knew that if he showed his face at Ellington he would be expected to resume attending drills there, and he undoubtedly would have been required to take the flight exam that he skipped in 1972.

P.S. More on Bush in Alabama:

CBS News reports that Lt. Col. Calhoun is claiming that Bush was at Danneley Air National Guard base from May, 1972 through October, 1972.  CBS notes that there are no records that Bush was credited with any service during that time period, but they fail to note that Bush didn't have orders to report to Danneley until September. Obviously, Calhoun's story can't be believed.

Name: Michael Pastor
Hometown: Kittanning' PA

Did you read the article in the NYT about Koffi Annan's role in helping bring an end to hostilities in Cyprus?  As a graduate student in sociology, I spent years studying intractable conflicts in places like Cyprus, Ireland and Israel.  I am amazed at what Koffi Annan has accomplished in a place that many have written off as hopeless for a long time.  Who would have thought you could end a forty year conflict with patience and diplomacy?  Somebody forget to tell Turkey, Greece and Cyprus how ineffective and irrelevant the U.N. is?

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