George W. Bush

So Many Ways To Derail Bush's Legacy Rehabilitation

It was impossible to avoid coverage of the George W. Bush presidential library opening yesterday (a Thursday, always a good day to invite weekend visitors).

It was also painful having to watch three Democratic presidents (two former and one current) say generic, nice things about the man. But this is what politicians do. They are good actors. But then again they are all part of the same club. It doesn't get any higher for these guys. So members of that club can and do get along. How else could Clinton honor Nixon when he passed away, or Obama say anything positive about Bush 43?

There has been at least one great book about his presidency.

Here's a very recent blog post by Jonathan Chait, reminding everyone of how the library treads lightly over so much that went so wrong. Namely, he was never good, and he was never smart.

There are countles ways to deny Bush any positive legacy. There is no positive legacy to be found anywhere in his two terms. 

Actually, he was the worst president in my lifetime, and arguably the worst EVER.

As the linked post above makes clear, he was not smart.  One only has to remember the following true story.

In 2000, candidate Bush asked former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney to conduct a search for a suitable vice presidential candidate for the ticket. Cheney came back a few weeks later, presumably after an exhaustive review of the Republican Party's luminaries, and told Bush that he had discovered the perfect running mate.

And who was this paragon? Right, Dick Cheney!

And what did Bush do? Did he laugh in Cheney's face, tell him this suggestion must be a joke, point out that if he had thought Cheney was the right match he would have asked him in the first place? No, he named Cheney as the man who would be a heart beat from the presidency. Smart?  I rest my case.

And so will many, many others, for years to come.

Another Astonishing George W. Bush Interview

I think a wise man named Ice Cube once said, "It ain't over motherfuckers." Bush ain't done yet. True, we've had astonishing interview moments from this president. He told Bob Woodward that 'we'll all be dead' by the time history judges him. He told xxx xxx that he had given-up golf in response to the prolonged occupation in Iraq and the higher-than-expected number of US military casualties. But now we have this. It is so revealing, sad, infuriating, and shocking all at once:

Chris Matthews: Joan I'm not sure what the message there is. Is the President saying in retrospect that he would not have invaded and occupied Iraq as a matter of geopolitical policy had there been no weapons of mass destruction? Is he saying that that was the single definitive reason why we went into that country and occupied it? Is that what he's saying?

Salon's Joan Walsh: Yes. It seems like it. Charlie Gibson did follow up with that question Chris and he wouldn't quite answer it. But I just have to say that is the most astonishing, buck passing, self pitying answer I could have imagined. He acts as though the Intelligence agencies where some wholly owned subsidiary of some other administration, rather than his, his responsibility. He acts like people outside the administration agreed when he was responsible for pushing that faulty intelligence, for stove piping it and ignoring everything. That any kind of doubt, any kind of dissent and really cooking the books in terms of the case for WMDs. I mean it's really scandalous how he's distancing himself.

They Knew

They Damn Knew

The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.

Today's Required Viewing

You may have heard back in June 2004 that an Irish journalist, Carol Coleman, was inturruptive and unfair to President Bush in an RTE interview held in the White House library. It was so unfair, in fact, it was never broadcast in the US. The transcript and video have been available on the Internet since June 2004. But it made its way to You Tube in November, 2006. And it is even better than it was originally described.

It is an incredible look at a man who is either brainwashed by his handlers or certifiably insane. This is George W. Bush at the peak of his arrogance, just months before his narrow reelection.

Watch it. Oh, and let the man finish, please. Finish away.


John Nichols: Pampered Bush meets a real reporter
By John Nichols
June 29, 2004

On the eve of his recent sojourn in Europe, President Bush had an unpleasant run-in with a species of creature he had not previously encountered often: a journalist.

He did not react well to the experience.

Bush's minders usually leave him in the gentle care of the White House press corps, which can be counted on to ask him tough questions about when his summer vacation starts.

Apparently under the mistaken assumption that reporters in the rest of the world are as ill-informed and pliable as the stenographers who "cover" the White House, Bush's aides scheduled a sit-down interview with Carole Coleman, Washington correspondent for RTE, the Irish public television network.

Coleman is a mainstream European journalist who has conducted interviews with top officials from a number of countries - her January interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell was apparently solid enough to merit posting on the State Department's Web site.

Unfortunately, it appears that Coleman failed to receive the memo informing reporters that they are supposed to treat this president with kid gloves. Instead, she confronted him as any serious journalist would a world leader.

She asked tough questions about the mounting death toll in Iraq, the failure of U.S. planning, and European opposition to the invasion and occupation. And when the president offered the sort of empty and listless "answers" that satisfy the White House press corps - at one point, he mumbled, "My job is to do my job" - she tried to get him focused by asking precise follow-up questions.

The president complained five times during the course of the interview about the pointed nature of Coleman's questions and follow-ups - "Please, please, please, for a minute, OK?" the hapless Bush pleaded at one point, as he demanded his questioner go easy on him.

After the interview was done, a Bush aide told the Irish Independent newspaper that the White House was concerned that Coleman had "overstepped the bounds of politeness."

As punishment, the White House canceled an exclusive interview that had been arranged for RTE with first lady Laura Bush.

Did Coleman step out of line? Of course not. Watch the interview (it's available on the www.rte.ie Web site) and you will see that Coleman was neither impolite nor inappropriate. She was merely treating Bush as European and Canadian journalists do prominent political players. In Western democracies such as Ireland, reporters and politicians understand that it is the job of journalists to hold leaders accountable.

The trouble is that accountability is not a concept that resonates with our president. The chief executive who gleefully declares that he does not read newspapers cannot begin to grasp the notion that journalists might have an important role to play in a democracy. And, if anything, the hands-off approach of the White House press corps has reinforced Bush's conceits.

Bush would be well served by tougher questioning from American journalists, especially those who work for the television networks. And it goes without saying that more and better journalism would be a healthy corrective for our ailing democracy.

Come to think of it, maybe one of the American networks should hire Carole Coleman and make her its White House correspondent. It would be Ireland's loss and America's gain.

Complete Keith Olbermann Special Comment, May 14 2008

Twelve unforgettable minutes (and 2,000 words) of American television news. It is my hope that this is remembered by historians and media scholars as one of the most important and visceral TV news moments of this decade. Time will tell.


President Bush has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration and public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations. And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and John McCain lurk.

Mr. Bush has predicted that the election of a Democratic president could "eventually lead to another attack on the United States." This ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong statement came during a May 13 interview with Politico.com and online users of Yahoo.

The question was phrased as follows: "If we were to pull out of Iraq next year, what's the worst that could happen, what's the doomsday scenario?"

The president replied: "Doomsday scenario of course is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States. The biggest issue we face is, it's bigger than Iraq, it's this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives."

Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes "cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives?" They are those in — or formerly in — your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.

Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives? "This ideological struggle," Mr. Bush, is taking place within this country.

It is a struggle between Americans who cherish freedom, ours and everybody else's, and Americans like you, sir, to whom freedom is just a brand name, just like "Patriot Act" is a brand name or "Protect America" is a brand name.

But wait, there's more: You also said "Iraq is the place where al-Qaida and other extremists have made their stand and they will be defeated." They made no "stand" in Iraq, sir, you allowed them to assemble there!

As certainly as if that were the plan, the borders were left wide open by your government's farcical post-invasion strategy of "they'll greet us as liberators." And as certainly as if that were the plan, the inspiration for another generation of terrorists in another country was provided by your government's farcical post-invasion strategy of letting the societal infra-structure of Iraq dissolve, to be replaced by an American viceroy, enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country by hiding behind your skirts, sir.

Terrorism inside Iraq is your creation, Mr. Bush!

***

It was a Yahoo user who brought up the second topic upon whose introduction Mr. Bush should have passed, or punted, or gotten up and left the room claiming he heard Dick Cheney calling him.

"Do you feel," asked an ordinary American, "that you were misled on Iraq?"

"I feel like — I felt like, there were weapons of mass destruction," the president said. "You know, 'mislead' is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional — I don't think so, I think there was a — not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was."

Flawed.

You, Mr. Bush, and your tragically know-it-all minions, threw out every piece of intelligence that suggested there were no such weapons.

You, Mr. Bush, threw out every person who suggested that the sober, contradictory, reality-based intelligence needed to be listened to, and fast.

You, Mr. Bush, are responsible for how "intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment."

You and the sycophants you dredged up and put behind the most important steering wheel in the world propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat of every intelligence community across the world and punished anybody who didn't agree it was really chicken salad.

And you, Mr. Bush, threw under the bus, all of the subsequent critics who bravely stepped forward later to point out just how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy you had embraced, and adopted as this country's policy in lieu of, say, common sense.

The fiasco of pre-war intelligence, sir, is your fiasco.

You should build a great statue of yourself turning a deaf ear to the warnings of realists, while you are shown embracing the three-card monte dealers like Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

That would be a far more fitting tribute to your legacy, Mr. Bush, than this presidential library you are constructing as a giant fable about your presidency, an edifice you might as well claim was built from "Iraqi weapons of mass destruction" because there will be just as many of those inside your presidential library as there were inside Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

***

Of course if there is one overriding theme to this president's administration it is the utter, always-failing, inability to know when to quit when it is behind. And so Mr. Bush answered yet another question about this layered, nuanced, wheels-within-wheels garbage heap that constituted his excuse for war.

"And so you feel that you didn't have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?"

"No, no," replied the President. "I was told by people, that they had weapons of mass destruction …"

People? What people? The insane informant "Curveball?" The Iraqi snake-oil salesman Ahmed Chalabi? The American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney?

"I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction, as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

"And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes."

Mr. Bush, you destroyed the evidence that contradicted the resolution you jammed down the Congress's throat, the way you jammed it down the nation's throat. When required by law to verify that your evidence was accurate, you simply resubmitted it, with phrases amounting to "See, I done proved it" virtually written in the margins in crayon.

You defied patriotic Americans to say "The Emperor Has No Clothes," only with the stakes — as you and the mental dwarves in your employ put it — being a "mushroom cloud over an American city."

And as a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense, when the incontrovertible truth of your panoramic and murderous deceit has even begun to cost your political party seemingly perpetual congressional seats in places like North Carolina and Mississippi, you can actually say with a straight face, sir, that for members of Congress "the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes" — while you greet the political heat and try to run and hide from your presidency, and your legacy — 4,000 of the Americans you were supposed to protect — dead in Iraq, with your only feeble, pathetic answer being, "I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction."

***

Then came Mr. Bush's final blow to our nation's solar plexus, his last reopening of our common wounds, his last remark that makes the rest of us question not merely his leadership or his judgment but his very suitably to remain in office.

"Mr. President," he was asked, "you haven't been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?"

"Yes," began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans on our history. "It really is. I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander in Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

Golf, sir? Golf sends the wrong signal to the grieving families of our men and women butchered in Iraq? Do you think these families, Mr. Bush, their lives blighted forever, care about you playing golf? Do you think, sir, they care about you?

You, Mr. Bush, let their sons and daughters be killed. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you gave up golf? Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn't give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war.

Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn't even give up talking about Iraq, a subject about which you have incessantly proved without pause or backwards glance, that you may literally be the least informed person in the world?

Sir, to show your solidarity with them, you didn't give up your presidency? In your own words "solidarity as best as I can" is to stop a game? That is the "best" you can do?

Four thousand Americans give up their lives and your sacrifice was to give up golf! Golf. Not "Gulf" — golf.

And still it gets worse. Because it proves that the president's unendurable sacrifice, his unbearable pain, the suspension of getting to hit a ball with a stick, was not even his own damned idea.

"Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?"

"I remember when [diplomat Sergio Vieira] de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life. And I was playing golf, I think I was in central Texas, and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it's just not worth it any more to do."

Your one, tone-deaf, arrogant, pathetic, embarrassing gesture, and you didn't even think of it yourself? The great Bushian sacrifice — an Army private loses a leg, a Marine loses half his skull, 4,000 of their brothers and sisters lose their lives — and you lose golf, and they have to pull you off the golf course to get you to just do that?

If it's even true.

Apart from your medical files, which dutifully record your torn calf muscle and the knee pain which forced you to give up running at the same time — coincidence, no doubt — the bombing in Baghdad which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello of the U.N. and interrupted your round of golf was on Aug. 19, 2003.

Yet CBS News has records of you playing golf as late as Oct. 13 of that year, nearly two months later.

Mr. Bush, I hate to break it to you 6 1/2 years after you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people, but the war in Iraq is not about you.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your grief when American after American comes home in a box.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about what your addled brain has produced in the way of paranoid delusions of risks that do not exist, ready to be activated if some Democrat, and not your twin Mr. McCain, succeeds you.

The war in Iraq, your war, Mr. Bush, is about how you accomplished the derangement of two nations, and how you helped funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to lascivious and perennially thirsty corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, and how you sent 4,000 Americans to their deaths for nothing.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your golf game! And, sir, if you have any hopes that next Jan. 20 will not be celebrated as a day of soul-wrenching, heart-felt thanksgiving, because your faithless stewardship of this presidency will have finally come to a merciful end, this last piece of advice:

When somebody asks you, sir, about Democrats who must now pull this country back from the abyss you have placed us at ...

When somebody asks you, sir, about the cooked books and faked threats you foisted on a sincere and frightened nation …

When somebody asks you, sir, about your gallant, noble, self-abnegating sacrifice of your golf game so as to soothe the families of the war dead.

This advice, Mr. Bush: Shut the hell up!

Bush's Sacrifice


I'm speechless. Not surprised. Just aghast. The full transcript of the latest Bush interview is here.


Q Mr. President, you haven't been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it really is. I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as -- to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.

Q Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life. And I was playing golf -- I think I was in central Texas -- and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it's just not worth it anymore to do.

The US Has No Plan To Defeat al Qaeda


Yes, that's the title.

So there you have it. This report was released today by the General Accountability Office. It couldn't be more plain. The report is drawn from several government agencies. Although the primary role of the GAO is to track government expenses, this extraordinary report details hhow billions have gone to Pakistan to help us exterminate al Qaeda, and virtually nothing has been done to accomplish that goal.

The executive summary couldn't be more plain:


The United States has not met its national security goals to destroy the terrorist threat and close the safe haven in Pakistan's FATA region.

FATA is the region along the 373-mile-long Pakistani-Afghan border. It stands for Federally Administered Tribal Region. It is over 10,000 square miles.

The report concludes:


We conclude that the National Security Advisor and the Director of the NCTC, in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense and State, and the Administrator of USAID, the intelligence community, and other executive departments as deemed appropriate, implement the congressional mandate to develop a comprehensive plan using all elements of national power to combat the terrorist threat and close their safe haven in Pakistan's FATA region.

Bush and Rice had six years to exterminate al Qaeda. Six years. We have seen the largest, most inexcusable failure to defeat an enemy of the United States in this country's history.

And the wingnuts think we're 'winning.' And they boast the we liberals want to offer al Qaeda counseling and therapy, rather than destruction. The truth is now clear. The Bush administration never had a plan to win. What say you now, wingnuts?

UPDATE: Emptywheel has an excellent timeline outlining the failures of Bush's War on Global Terrorism.

We're So Screwed


Let's recap to see how we got to this point, with Bush telling Wall Street that everything will be fine prior to the fire sale of Bear Stearns to JP Morgan / Chase.

Warren Buffett stated the obvious on March 3rd.

Daniel Gross at Slate explains why neither Republicans nor Democrats on the hill dare say the R-Word.

Economists Stiglitz and Blimes have a new book called The Three Trillion Dollar War. I assume you heard of it. It confirms that the Iraq occupation spending has had a direct impact on the Treasury and the US economy. Here is the Reuters story linked to the book's release.

And then we had the very quick demise of Bear Sterns. If an employee had his or her nest egg in company stock, then it is all gone.

In the opinion of this layperson, we're just another financial crhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifisis away from a self-sustaining stagflation cycle. Think about the price of oil, the global credit crunch, the sharp fall of the dollar, and now runs on smaller financial markets. It all contributes to unemployment, inflation, and credit crunch for both consumers and businesses. Add-in the tax dollar money brings used to bail-out smaller markets and corporations, ad we have a serious crisis already. It has all the ingredients to be the worst recession since World War 2.

And in case you needed further proof, Jim Cramer is the last man anyone should be listening to. He should be retired. He made his money as a hedge fund manager and he has zero credibility. Ignore him if you aren't ignoring him already.

And it looks like Australia might be screwed, too.

A Risky Plan


This seems like a crazy idea, but then again, it is the solution "preferred by the Bush administration." The Pentagon is going to attempt to 'shoot down' its disabled, experimental spy sattelite, which is due to re-enter Earth's atmosphere in March. Rather than let the odds play out and let it come down to an unpopulated area or ocean, we're going to blow it up into fragments of dangerous orbital debris / space junk. Bravo!

China proved that it can be done in January 2007, and they successfully made a lot of dangerous orbital debris, which of course, can damage other satellites, spacecraft, and possibly the International Space Station.

I'd love to see the missle miss its target. Let's see how this clever idea plays out...

Great Question, Great Answer

The question, from today's editorial in the LA Times:

The interesting question is why the U.S. economy, beneficiary since 9/11 of the largest military spending binge in history, now requires $150 billion more in the form of a short-term stimulus package. Why hasn't the $1 trillion in defense spending, in addition to the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, been sufficient to keep the economic boom going?

The answer, from Economist's View commenter, James Kroeger:
The answer should be apparent to any Democrat[ic] Economist. The incredible borrowing spree of the past several years has really been the only thing that kept the economy from collapsing into a Greatest Depression Ever as a direct result of the massive tax cuts Bush et al. gave to the rich. Reducing the income tax rates of rich people is always CONTRACTIONARY.

I strongly recommend reading Kroeger's entire comment here. One of this country's biggest exports has been money.

Late-Breaking Bad News


Photo by Flickr user XISMZERO used under a Creative Commons license

Senator Jay Rockefeller has confidently predicted that immunity for the telecom corporations who participated in the NSA domestic spying program will be approved by Congress. How is he so confident? Because he's a sponsor, and he made sure the bill was swiftly approved through his committee.

Thanks for nothing, Democrats. And Senator, fuck you and your family. You're one of the only "Democrats" in that corporate-sponsored family anyway.


"I think we will prevail," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat and a chief sponsor of the bill, told reporters.

Who the fuck are "we"? We're not AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint (the three companies which stand to be protected by the bill). We're being spied upon by the Bush junta. "We" are fucked. Would it surprise anyone that AT&T has contributed $20,000 to Jay Rockefeller in the last 6 months (up from $300 in the previous 6 years)? He also voted to repeal habeas corpus. And he was one of only two Congressional Democrats briefed about the administration's torture policies. Also, he knew about the CIA torture videotapes before they were destroyed, but doesn't support a Senate investigation of their destruction, saying that it is up to the CIA to investigate itself. Like I said....fuck him.

Not all Democrats are against their own constituents. Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, Patrick Leahy, and Christopher Dodd are going to try to stop it. Please support Senator Dodd in his attempt to stage a filibuster that would kill the bill on the Senate floor. He was able to block it on December 17th. But with Harry Reid and Jay Rockefeller pushing it through, I don't think he can stop it again.

And in other news tonight, if you own oil or gold, you are sitting pretty. Note, I didn't say you are sitting pretty if you own oil stocks. Although some oil stocks are doing quite well. One is Exxon Mobil. The street is getting excited because it is expected the Exxon Mobil will report a new record for biggest annual profit ever for any corporation. If they report 4th quarter earnings of $10.37 Billion as expected, they will have made $39.2 Billion for all of 2007, a new record. That would mean that Exxon collected $75,000 in profits each minute of calendar year 2007. If Exxon Mobil beats street estimates, it could even beat its own record for largest quarterly profit ever.


Exxon is likely to have record quarterly earnings," said Fadel Gheit, a senior energy analyst at Oppenheimer. "For every $1 [increase] in the price of oil, Exxon makes [another] $125 million for the quarter.

Now contrast that to your current economic situation,and how much you pay for gasoline. I think most of you would be a little upset. Considering the pinko-commie content of this blog, and you're still reading it, I think you would be.

Her's a question, do you think the Supreme Court is going to let a the $2.5 Billion in remaining unpaid punitive damages stand for the 1989 Exxon Veldez oil spill when it rules on the case this year? They took the case. You know what that means....the fix is in. At least Justice Alito has recused himself from the case, because he owns an estimated $200K in Exxon Mobil stock.

Jenna Bush's 2008 Wedding: Will It Help Her Dad's Ratings? Does It Matter?


First of all, if Jenna's wedding is in October 2008, what difference does it make if it raises W's ratings by 10 points? He and the American public both want him out of office. Will it help the Republican nominee at all? Doubtful. Will it remind Americans that kids the same age as Jenna and Harry are stuck in Iraq, losing limbs and lives each day? Peggy Drexler hopes so. I just hope Ms. Drexler is simply being ultra-cynical when she argues that a White House wedding will entertain and captivate even the most liberal women out there. Now that's cynical. This potential White House wedding can't possibly glue women to a TV screen the way a classic episode of Sex And The City can, right?......Right?


Here's to the Happy Couple -- and a 10 Point Bump
Peggy Drexler
The Huffington Post
Tue Aug 21, 8:21 PM ET

Jenna Bush and Henry Hager plan to marry. And there is already buzz of a spectacular White House wedding that will gather society, power and politics around these two cute kids.

Ordinarily, I'm a sucker for such things. I've cried when the groom kissed the bride -- and I didn't really know either of them.
But this time I have to say to Jenna and Henry: don't do it. The sixteen months to go as this administration ebbs away is not too long to wait.

The bigger the wedding, the sweeter the music of the Marine Band, the greater the
contrast with what is happening to some other kids in the 110 degree hell of a far away desert country.

They can try to keep it simple. But a White House wedding is going to be big. It will be the first one since the coming of cable. It's a union of Republican royalty. It could be Philip and Di -- without the carriage ride. Or, wait, the carriage might make great TV.

The thing I find most disturbing is that there is already talk that a White House Wedding will be great politics. It could be a terrific way to hook women -- who are the angriest about the war, and one of the biggest problems for Republicans going into the election.

Women -- even the angry ones -- are going to eat this up. We can't help it. It's what we do.

The father of the bride is responsible for the loss close to 4,000 American lives, the lives of uncounted Iraqis, and many thousands of injured and maimed. He has had the big boy office in an organization that has lied, manipulated and ultimately failed at every turn. But on this day, he is the proud and loving papa walking his daughter down the aisle.

Eyes will grow moist, and approval ratings will rise.

Can I possibly be cynical enough to suggest that this is timed around the election? Could it be that the children's book Jenna Bush wrote with her mother is a bit of pre-wedding character repair for a girl who seems well-versed in the difference between shots and shooters?

The administration gives great and ongoing credence to the old saying: just when you think you're too cynical, you realize you're not cynical enough.

Let's run down just a partial list: the swift boaters, the smearing of John McCain in South Carolina, the mythical WMD, the phantom National Guard service, Brownie at the levees, Valerie Plame, secret torture sites, Pat Tillman, the stem cell veto, the fired federal attorneys, an attorney general with the memory of a gold fish, the surgeon general who was tossed out of the club house for taking on causes that upset the Republican right, and assorted other assaults on our trust in this administration's motives, methods and competence.

With that body of evidence on the record, I'm not discounting anything. Hey, if international state visits don't work any more because much of the world hates us, a White House wedding just might.

Ok -- politics is politics. And this president would not be the first to make use of photogenic offspring.

But we have this inconvenient problem of young people the same age as the happy couple dying on the roadsides and in the alleyways of Iraq. I wonder if those at risk will be gathered around the television to watch the festivities.

One who won't be watching is Army Reserve Sergeant Jose Velez, a young man from the Bronx who asked his girlfriend Naomi to marry him the day he left for Iraq. She was busy planning the wedding when she got word he was killed by a roadside bomb.
I didn't know Jose Velez. I just read about him in a magazine. I don't know the hundreds of other young women who were engaged to be married, went to Iraq, and never returned [sic]. I can't speak for them. I have no standing in their lives or their families' grief.

All I can do is wonder. As the proud parents bask in their child's very special day, as current and past members of the administration clink their champagne glasses, will they think about all those who will never have that day -- and why?

It Was Seven Years Ago Today



Photo copyright 2000 Stephanie Sinclair.

On Thursday, August 3rd 2000, George W. Bush accepted his party's nomination, and delivered this shameful speech at the GOP convention in Philadelphia. This is a sad document,and a dark foreshadowing of what was to come. I have added emphasis on comments that I find interesting in the light of the events and developments that followed this speech. Note his amazing line about how World War II was a good reason to maintain high taxes, and compare that to his 'wartime' tax cuts.

Every nomination acceptance speech contains false promises, embellishments, and grand ideas. But just look at what he said, and compare it to where we are today. It is far more significant and revealing than either of his two inauguration speeches.


Mr. Chairman...

(APPLAUSE)

Mr. Chairman... (APPLAUSE)

Thank you all.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you very much. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Mr. Chairman -- Mr. Chairman, delegates and my fellow citizens, I proudly accept your nomination.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you for this honor.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you for this honor. Together, we will renew America's purpose.

Our founders first defined that purpose here in Philadelphia. Ben Franklin was here, Thomas Jefferson and, of course, George Washington, or, as his friends, called him, George W.

I am proud to have Dick Cheney by my side.

He is a man -- he is a man of integrity and sound judgment who has proven that public service can be noble service.

American will be proud to have a leader of such character to succeed Al Gore as vice president of the United States.

I'm grateful for Senator John McCain. I appreciate so very much his speech two nights ago. I appreciate his friendship. I love his spirit for America. And I want to thank the other candidates who sought this office, as well. Their convictions have strengthened our party.

I'm especially grateful tonight to my family. No matter what else I do in my life, asking Laura to marry me was the best decision I ever made.

And to our daughters, Barbara and Jenna, we love you a lot. We're proud of you. And as you head off to college this fall, don't stay out too late.

And e-mail your old dad once in a while, will you?

And mother, everybody loves you and so do I. Growing up -- growing up, she gave me love and lots of advice. I gave her white hair.

And I want to thank my dad, the most decent man I have ever known.

All of my life I have been amazed that a gentle soul could be so strong.

Dad, I am proud to be your son.

My father was the last president of a great generation, a generation of Americans who stormed beaches, liberated concentration camps and delivered us from evil. Some never came home. Those who did put their medals in drawers, went to work and built on a heroic scale highways and universities, suburbs and factories, great cities and grand alliances, the strong foundations of an American century.

Now the question comes to the sons and daughters of this achievement, what is asked of us? This is a remarkable moment in the life of our nation. Never has the promise of prosperity been so vivid.

But times of plenty like times of crises are tests of American character.

Prosperity can be a tool in our hands used to build and better our country, or it can be a drug in our system dulling our sense of urgency, of empathy, of duty. Our opportunities are too great, our lives too short, to waste this moment.

So tonight, we vow to our nation we will seize this moment of American promise. We will use these good times for great goals.

We will confront the hard issues, threats to our national security, threats to our health and retirement security, before the challenges of our time become crises for our children.

And we will extend the promise of prosperity to every forgotten corner of this country: to every man and woman, a chance to succeed; to every child, a chance to learn; and to every family, a chance to live with dignity and hope.

For eight years the Clinton-Gore administration has coasted through prosperity. The path of least resistance is always downhill. But America's way is the rising road. This nation is daring and decent and ready for change.

Our current president embodied the potential of a generation -- so many talents, so much charm, such great skill. But in the end, to what end? So much promise to no great purpose.

Little more than a -- little more than a decade ago, the Cold War thawed, and with the leadership of President's Reagan and Bush, that wall came down.

But instead of seizing this moment, the Clinton-Gore administration has squandered it. We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, "Not ready for duty, sir."

This administration had its moment, they had their chance, they have not led. We will.

This generation -- this generation was given the gift of the best education in American history, yet we do not share that gift with everyone. Seven of 10 fourth graders in our highest poverty schools cannot read a simple children's book. And still this administration continues on the same old path, the same old programs, while millions are trapped in schools where violence is common and learning is rare.
This administration had its chance. They have not led. We will.

America has a strong economy and a surplus. We have the public resources and the public will, even the bipartisan opportunities to strengthen Social Security and repair Medicare. But this administration, during eight years of increasing need, did nothing.

They had their moment. They have not led. We will.

Our generation has a chance to reclaim some essential values, to show we have grown up before we grow old. But when the moment for leadership came, this administration did not teach our children, it disillusioned them.

They had their chance. They have not led. We will.

And now they come asking for another chance, another shot. Our answer: Not this time, not this year.

This is not the time for third chances; it is the time for new beginnings.

The rising generations of this country have our own appointment with greatness. It does not rise or fall with the stock market. It cannot be bought with our wealth. Greatness is found when American character and American courage overcome American challenges.

When Lewis Morris of New York was about to sign the Declaration of Independence, his brother advised against it, warning he would lose all his property. But Morris, a plain-spoken founder, responded, "Damn the consequences, give me the pen."
That is the eloquence of American action. We heard it during World War II when General Eisenhower told paratroopers on D-Day morning not to worry. And one replied, "We're not worried, General. It's Hitler's turn to worry now."
We heard it in the civil rights movement, when brave men and women that did not say, "We shall cope," or "We shall see." They said, "We shall overcome."

An American president must call upon that character.

Tonight in this hall, we resolve to be the party of -- not of repose but of reform. We will write not footnotes but chapters in the American story. We will add the work of our hands to the inheritance of our fathers and mothers and leave this nation greater than we found it.

We know the test of leadership. The issues are joined. We will strengthen Social Security and Medicare for the greatest generation and for generations to come.
Medicare does more than meet the needs of our elderly; it reflects the values of our society. We will set it on firm financial ground and make prescription drugs available and affordable for every senior who needs them.

Social Security has been called the third rail of American politics, the one you're not supposed to touch because it might shock you. But if you don't touch it, you cannot fix it.

And I intend to fix it.

To the seniors in this country, you earned your benefits, you made your plans, and President George W. Bush will keep the promise of Social Security, no changes, no reductions, no way.

Our opponents will say otherwise. This is their last parting ploy, and don't believe a word of it.

Now is the time -- now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to end the politics of fear and save Social Security together.

For younger workers, we will give you the option, your choice, to put part of your payroll taxes into sound, responsible investments.

This will mean a higher return on your money in over 30 or 40 years, a nest egg to help your retirement or to pass on to your children.

When this money is in your name, in your account, it's just not a program, it's your property.

Now is the time to give American workers security and independence that no politician can ever take away.

On education, too many American children are segregated into schools without standards, shuffled from grade to grade because of their age, regardless of their knowledge. This is discrimination, pure and simple, the soft bigotry of low expectations.

And our nation should treat it like other forms of discrimination: We should end it.
One size does not fit all when it comes to educating our children, so local people should control local schools.

And those who spend your tax dollars must be held accountable. When a school district receives federal funds to teach poor children, we expect them to learn. And if they don't, parents should get the money to make a different choice.

Now is the time to make Head Start an early learning program to teach all our children to read and renew the promise of America's public schools.

Another test of leadership is tax relief.

The last time taxes were this high as a percentage of our economy, there was a good reason; we were fighting World War II. Today our high taxes fund a surplus. Some say that growing federal surplus means Washington has more money to spend. But they've got it backwards.

The surplus is not the government's money; the surplus is the people's money.

I will use this moment of opportunity to bring common sense and fairness to the tax code. And I will act on principle. On principle, every family, every farmer and small-business person should be free to pass on their life's work to those they love, so we will abolish the death tax.

On principle, no one in American should have to pay more than a third of their income to the federal government, so we will reduce tax rates for everyone in every bracket.

On principle, those with the greatest need should receive the greatest help, so we will lower the bottom rate from 15 percent to 10 percent and double the child credit.

Now is the time to reform the tax code and share some of the surplus with the people who pay the bills.

The world needs America's strength and leadership. And America's armed forces need better equipment, better training and better pay.

We will give our military the means to keep the peace, and we will give it one thing more: a commander-in-chief who respects our men and women in uniform and a commander-in-chief who earns their respect.

A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming.

I will work to reduce nuclear weapons and nuclear tension in the world, to turn these years of influence into decades of peace. And at the earliest possible date, my administration will deploy missile defenses to guard against attack and blackmail.

Now is the time not to defend outdated treaties but to defend the American people.
A time of prosperity is a test of vision, and our nation today needs vision.

That's a fact. That's a fact. Or as my opponent might call it, a risky truth scheme.

Every one of the proposals I've talked about tonight he's called a risky scheme over and over again. It is the sum of his message, the politics of the roadblock, the philosophy of the stop sign.

If my opponent had been at the moon launch, it would have been a risky rocket scheme.

If he had been there when Edison was testing the light bulb, it would have been a risky anti-candle scheme.

And if he had been there when the Internet was invented...

He now leads the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but the only thing he has to offer is fear itself.

That outlook is typical of many in Washington, always seeing the tunnel at the end of the light.

But I come from a different place and it has made me a different leader.

In Midland, Texas, where I grew up, the town motto was, "The sky's the limit," and we believed it. There was a restless energy, a basic conviction that with hard work, anybody could succeed and everybody deserved a chance.

Our sense of community -- our sense of community was just as strong as that sense of promise. Neighbors helped each other. There were dry wells and sand storms to keep you humble, life-long friends to take your side, and churches to remind us that every soul is equal in value and equal in need.

This background leaves more than an accent, it leaves an outlook: optimistic, impatient with pretense, confident that people can chart their own course in life.

That background may lack the polish of Washington. Then again, I don't have a lot of things that come with Washington. I don't have enemies to fight. I have no stake in the bitter arguments of the last few years. I want to change the tone of Washington to one of civility and respect.

The largest lesson I learned in Midland still guides me as governor of Texas: Everyone, from immigrant to entrepreneur, has an equal claim on this country's promise. So we improved our schools dramatically for children of every accent, of every background. We moved people from welfare to work. We strengthened our juvenile justice laws. Our budgets have been balanced with surpluses. And we cut taxes, not only once, but twice.

We accomplished a lot.

I don't deserve all the credit, and I don't attempt to take it. I work with Republicans and Democrats to get things done.

A bittersweet part of tonight is that someone is missing, the late lieutenant governor of Texas, Bob Bullock.

Bob was a Democrat, a crusty veteran of Texas politics, and my great friend. We worked side by side, he endorsed my re-election, and I know he is with me in spirit in saying to those who would malign our state for political gain: Don't mess with Texas.

As governor, I've made difficult decisions and stood by them under pressure.
I've been where the buck stops in business and in government. I've been a chief executive who sets an agenda, sets big goals, and rallies people to believe and achieve them. I am proud of this record, and I am prepared for the work ahead.

If you give me your trust, I will honor it. Grant me a mandate, I will use it. Give me the opportunity to lead this nation, and I will lead.

And we need a leader to seize the opportunities of this new century: the new cures of medicine, the amazing technologies that will drive our economy and keep the peace. But our new economy must never forget the old, unfinished struggle for human dignity. And here we face a challenge to the very heart and founding premise of our nation.

A couple of years ago, I visited a juvenile jail in Marlin, Texas, and talked with a group of young inmates. They were angry, wary kids. All had committed grownup crimes. Yet when I looked in their eyes, I realized some of them were still little boys.

Toward the end of the conversation, one young man, about 15 years old, raised his hand and asked a haunting question, "What do you think of me?" He seemed to be asking, like many Americans who struggle: Is their hope for me? Do I have a chance? And, frankly, do you, a white man in a suit, really care about what happens to me?
A small voice, but it speaks for so many: single moms struggling to feed the kids and pay the rent; immigrants starting a hard life in a new world; children without fathers in neighborhoods where gangs seem like friendship or drugs promise peace, and where sex sadly seems the closest thing to belong. We are their country too. And each of us must share in its promise or the promise is diminished for all.

If that boy in Marlin believes he's trapped and worthless and hopeless, if he believes his life has no value, then other lives have no value to him, and we're all diminished.

When these problems are not confronted, it builds a wall within our nation. On one side are wealth, technology, education and ambition. On the other side of that wall are poverty and prison, addiction and despair. And my fellow Americans, we must tear down that wall.

Big government is not the answer, but the alternative to bureaucracy is not indifference. It is to put conservative values and conservative ideas into the thick of the fight for justice and opportunity.

This is what I mean by compassionate conservatism. And on this ground, we will lead our nation.

We will give low-income Americans tax credits to buy the private health insurance they need and deserve.

We will transform today's housing rental program to help hundreds of thousands of low-income families find stability and dignity in a home of their own.

And in the next bold step of welfare reform, we will support the heroic work of homeless shelters and hospices, food pantry and crisis pregnancy centers, people reclaiming their communities block by block and heart by heart.

I think of Mary Jo Copeland, whose ministry called Sharing and Caring Hands serves 1,000 meals a week in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Each day, Mary Jo washes the feet of the homeless and sends them off with new socks and shoes. "Look after your feet," she tells them. "They must carry you a long way in this world, and then all the way to God."

Government cannot do this work. It can feed the body, but it cannot reach the soul.

Yet, government can take the side of these groups, helping the helper, encouraging the inspired. My administration will give taxpayers new incentives to donate to charity, encourage after-school programs that build character, and support mentoring groups that shape and save young lives.

We must give our children a spirit of moral courage because their character is our destiny.

We must tell them with confidence that drugs and alcohol can destroy you, and bigotry disfigures the heart.

Our schools must support the ideals of parents, elevating character and abstinence from afterthoughts to urgent goals.

We must help protect our children in our schools and streets, and by finally and strictly enforcing our nation's gun laws.

But most of all, we must teach our children the values that defeat violence. I will lead our nation toward a culture that values life -- the life of the elderly and sick, the life of the young and the life of the unborn.

Good people can disagree on this issue, but surely we can agree on ways to value life by promoting adoption, parental notification. And when Congress sends me a bill against partial-birth abortion, I will sign it into law.

Behind every goal I've talked about tonight is a great hope for our country. A hundred years from now this must not be remembered as an age rich in possession and poor in ideals.

Instead, we must usher in an era of responsibility.

My generation tested limits, and our country in some ways is better for it. Women are now treated more equally.

Racial progress has been steady; it's still too slow. We're learning to protect...
we're learning to protect the natural world around us. We will continue this progress, and we will not turn back.

At times we lost our way, but we're coming home.

So many of us held our first child and saw a better self reflected in her eyes. And in that family love, many have found the sign and symbol of an even greater love, and have been touched by faith.

We discovered that who we are is more than important than what we have. And we know we must renew our values to restore our country.

This is the vision of America's founders. They never saw our nation's greatness in rising wealth or in advancing armies, but in small, unnumbered acts of caring and courage and self-denial.

Their highest hope, as Robert Frost described it, was to occupy the land with character. And that, 13 generations later, is still our goal, to occupy the land with character.

In a responsibility era, each of us has important tasks, work that only we can do.

Each of us is responsible to love and guide our children and to help a neighbor in need. Synagogues, churches and mosques are responsible, not only to worship, but to serve. Corporations are responsible to treat their workers fairly and to leave the air and waters clean.

And our nation's leaders our responsible to confront problems, not pass them onto others.

And to lead this nation to a responsibility era, that president himself must be responsible.

So when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.

I believe the presidency, the final point of decision in the American government, was made for great purposes. It is the office of Lincoln's conscience, of Teddy Roosevelt's energy, of Harry Truman's integrity and Ronald Reagan's optimism.

For me, gaining this office is not the ambition of a lifetime, but it is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I will make the most of it.

I believe great decision are made with care, made with conviction, not made with polls.

I do not need to take your pulse before I know my own mind.

I do not reinvent myself at every turn. I am not running in borrowed clothes.

When I act, you will know my reasons. And when I speak, you will know my heart.

I believe in tolerance, not in spite of my faith, but because of it.

I believe in a God who calls us not to judge our neighbors but to love them.

I believe in grace because I've seen it, and peace because I've felt it, and forgiveness because I've needed it.

I believe true leadership is a process of addition, not an act of division.

I will not attack a part of this country because I want to lead the whole of it.

And I believe this'll be a tough race, down to the wire. Their war room is up and running, but we are ready.

Their attacks will be relentless, but they will be answered. We are facing something familiar, but they're facing something new.

We are now the party of ideas and innovation, the party of idealism and inclusion, the party of a simple and powerful hope.

My fellow citizens, we can begin again.

After all of the shouting and all of the scandal, after all the bitterness and broken faith, we can begin again.

The wait has been long, but it won't be long now.

A prosperous nation is ready to renew its purpose and unite behind great goals, and it won't be long now.

Our nation must renew the hopes of that boy I talked with in jail and so many like him, and it won't be long now.

Our country is ready for high standards and new leaders, and it won't be long now.

An era of tarnished ideals is giving way to a responsibility era, and it won't be long now.

I know how serious the task is before me. I know the presidency is an office that turns pride into prayer.

But I am eager to start on the work ahead, and I believe America is ready for a new beginning.

My friend, the artist Tom Lea of El Paso, Texas, captured the way I feel about our great land, a land I love. He and his wife, he said, "Live on the east side of the mountain. It's the sunrise side, not the sunset side. It is the side to see the day that is coming, not to see the day that has gone."

Americans live on the sunrise side of the mountain, the night is passing, and we're ready for the day to come.

God bless. God bless America.

It's August. Brace Yourselves.


Cartoon by the great Ted Rall. (Yes, I said great).

It is August, the month with a very bad rap. While I don't agree with all of his assessments, this article by David Plotz has become somewhat famous since it does sum-up a lot of reasons to dislike August (and it helps that Slate re-posted it in 2006). But what makes it worth reading each year for me is the context in which it was written. Look at the original date. Remember those times? Those were the days, right?

What were we talking about by the water cooler seven Augusts ago? We had a missing, white, female intern in Washington (what was her name again?). We had rumors that Bobby Fischer was resurfacing in Internet chat rooms. We were content with our economy, despite the dot-com bust. And according to our president, we lived under the false notion that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans protected us. But George W. Bush knew better. He was working hard to protect us from attack, right?

He was in Crawford, Texas all that month. But make no mistake, it was a working vacation. On August 6th, he was handed a Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) that sprung him to action. It had an unmistakable warning in its title. What was the title, again? Anyone?

Dr. Rice, maybe you remember? You weren't there in Crawford, but you were the NSA Director. You might know.

Riiiiiiight. Bin laden Determined to Strike in US. Thank you for feigning the recall of that title, Doctor. Nice effect.

And George W. Bush applied his success in August 2001 to other crises that occurred in future Augusts. Like this one in late August 2005. Imagine the catastrophe that would have ensued had FEMA not recognized that the citizens of New Orleans were unable to evacuate, and that the levees were likely to break. Imagine that.

So sleep tight, America. There's no need to worry about our leaders. They are waking-up every morning with our safety and security as their top priority. They will protect us. I have no doubt.

Pat Tillman Was Murdered

This explains a lot, doesn't it? It's horrific. Pat Tillman was shot by more than one soldier, with standard M16 rifles, in the head, from a distance of less than 35 feet. He was delibrately targeted and fired upon by his own men. Then superiors covered it up and even congratulated each other via e-mail for preventing a criminal investigation. And while the Tillman family was lied to, the heroic story of Pat Tillman was sold to the American public to drum-up support for the occupation of Iraq, Army enlistment, and the War on Terror.

I am not shocked much in Bushworld, but even this story has me shocked. And knowing that Tillman was a left-leaning atheist, and seeing how he affirmed it in his very last words, has me furious. He was in Afghanistan for the same reason I would have gone - to kill the guys who trained and financed those who killed our people (and nearly killed me) in 2001. He wasn't there to promote Bush's 2004 reelection, but that's how he was used in the end. It it outrageous. And since the Bush administration took steps to prevent the truth from coming out, claiming broad executive privilege, then they must be held accountable for the cover-up.

The NFL needs to shut the fuck up about how one of their stars kicked Taliban ass. The Bushies and warhawks need to shut the fuck up about how we need to enlist and fight their war. And the wingnuts just need to shut the fuck up. I want justice. The Tillmans deserve justice.


AP: New details on Tillman's death

By MARTHA MENDOZA
AP National Writer
July 26, 2007

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

"The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors — whose names were blacked out — said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman's comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. The Pentagon eventually ruled that Tillman's death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident.

The medical examiners' suspicions were outlined in 2,300 pages of testimony released to the AP this week by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Among other information contained in the documents:

• In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."

• Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.

• The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.

• No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene — no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.

The Pentagon and the Bush administration have been criticized in recent months for lying about the circumstances of Tillman's death. The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. Only weeks later did the Pentagon acknowledge he was gunned down by fellow Rangers.

With questions lingering about how high in the Bush administration the deception reached, Congress is preparing for yet another hearing next week.

The Pentagon is separately preparing a new round of punishments, including a stinging demotion of retired Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., 60, according to military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the punishments under consideration have not been made public.

In more than four hours of questioning by the Pentagon inspector general's office in December 2006, Kensinger repeatedly contradicted other officers' testimony, and sometimes his own. He said on some 70 occasions that he did not recall something.

At one point, he said: "You've got me really scared about my brain right now. I'm really having a problem."

Tillman's mother, Mary Tillman, who has long suggested that her son was deliberately killed by his comrades, said she is still looking for answers and looks forward to the congressional hearings next week.

"Nothing is going to bring Pat back. It's about justice for Pat and justice for other soldiers. The nation has been deceived," she said.

The documents show that a doctor who autopsied Tillman's body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army's Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army's Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.

"He said he talked to his higher headquarters and they had said no," the doctor testified.

Also according to the documents, investigators pressed officers and soldiers on a question Mrs. Tillman has been asking all along.

"Have you, at any time since this incident occurred back on April 22, 2004, have you ever received any information even rumor that Cpl. Tillman was killed by anybody within his own unit intentionally?" an investigator asked then-Capt. Richard Scott.

Scott, and others who were asked, said they were certain the shooting was accidental.

Investigators also asked soldiers and commanders whether Tillman was disliked, whether anyone was jealous of his celebrity, or if he was considered arrogant. They said Tillman was respected, admired and well-liked.

The documents also shed new light on Tillman's last moments.

It has been widely reported by the AP and others that Spc. Bryan O'Neal, who was at Tillman's side as he was killed, told investigators that Tillman was waving his arms shouting "Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!" again and again.

But the latest documents give a different account from a chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman was killed.

The chaplain said that O'Neal told him he was hugging the ground at Tillman's side, "crying out to God, help us. And Tillman says to him, `Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God's not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling ..."

___

Associated Press reporters Scott Lindlaw in Las Vegas and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press.

Gonzales Cannot Be Fired

So he must be removed for lying to Congress. We have found the Administration's defensive wall. Take down Gonzales and we can discover the other scandals and violations of the constitution that are going on in the White House.

And speaking of Whitehouse, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island rocks. We don't see much of him here, but he has pretty much researched and has proven the solid, unprecedented political links between the White House (Cheney's office and Rove's office) and the DOJ. Ted Kennedy is becoming more and more silent by the month. He has lost his teeth, it seems. So Whitehouse, Feingold, and now Schumer have to take-up the slack. Chuck also rocked on Tuesday.

Thanks to TPM Muckracker for posting these video clips.

Highlight Reel:

His dangerous exchange with Schumer. If he goes down for perjury, it will be for this clip: