Friday, June 04, 2004

1 George down, 1 to go

CIA director George Tenet resigned his post late Thursday, in time for the weekend "take out the trash" Friday bad news dumping of the Bush administration. Tenet claims it was for "personal reasons" which one blogger really goes to town with this Washingtonian cop-out. So while Bush is in Italy visiting the pope to get more Catholic voters, the other George fell on his sword.

The question is, why did it take so long? [Slate's Chris Suellentrop has also wondered this for a long time] Why wasn't this man fired on say September 12, 2001? Or right after the 6th month of no WMDs? Why now, when it is painfully obvious he did a horrible job, presiding over two of the Agencies biggest intelligence blunders in history. And if you count Chalabi (which I don't blame him for) there's three.

Douglas Jehl of the New York Times thinks that the 700-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on all the failings of Tenet's CIA is what prompted Georgie to high tail out of there. The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler hints that Tenet is going to be the Administration's scape goat for Iraq and 9/11.

If Bush and his pals decide to do that, I just can't wait for the 60 minutes interview and series of articles on what he told Bush and Bush told him back. There has to be a reason, other than how cool it is to know secret stuff, that George Tenet stayed on all this time. He must have a couple Aces up his sleeve. Some public comments on this event are semi-revealing.

Former CIA Director Stansfield Turner said, "I'm very surprised. I certainly thought that the president was not going to acknowledge that there were problems in his own inner circle. I certainly thought that Tenet, being a very loyal-type of civil servant, would not walk out on the president in the middle of an election campaign. I think the president feels he's in enough trouble that he's got to begin to cast some of the blame for the morass that we are in in Iraq on to somebody else and this was one subtle way to do it."

Fred Kaplan of Slate makes a point few have noticed: "So, what would happen if the 9/11 commission or any of the other boards of inquiry dealing with the various intelligence scandals were to re-call Private Citizen Tenet to testify? Would he suddenly remember meetings and conversations that had earlier slipped his mind? Years ago, Tenet worked as a staff member for Sen. John Heinz, whose widow is now married to John Kerry. Do they keep in touch? (Just asking.)" Will Saletan coins the phrase "Informer Without Results" for Tenet.

AP has this: "A year and a half before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a British Muslim [named Niaz Khantold] the FBI that he was trained to be a hijacker for Osama bin Laden and was in the United States to carry out attacks, NBC News and The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday"

So all it all, I am looking forward to the fall of Bushism and the end of this charade of his "sucessful" War on Terror and "leadership" after 9/11.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Fun facts

  • Bush "has consulted" an outside attorney "in case he needs to retain him in the grand jury investigation of who leaked the name" of Valerie Plame last year. Sounds like this crime goes all the way to the top.

  • Minutes before leaving for Europe this a.m., Pres. Bush, announced CIA dir. George Tenet is resigning for personal reasons: "Today George Tenet, the director of the CIA, submitted a letter of resignation. I met with George last night in the White House. I had a good visit with him. He told me he was resigning for personal reasons. I told him I'm sorry he's leaving. He's done a superb job on behalf of the American people. I accepted his letter. He will serve at the CIA as director until mid-July at which time the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John McLaughlin, will serve as the acting director. George Tenet is a the kind of public servant you like to work with. He's strong, he's resolute. He served his nation as director for seven years. He has been a strong and able leader at the agency. He's been a strong leader in the war on terror and I will miss him. I send my blessings to George and his family. I look forward to working with him until the time he leaves the agency and I wish him all the very best" Two words: Yeah right

  • Monica Lewinsky "is denying a report that she wants to make a movie" about her WH affair with ex-Pres. Clinton, "in which she hopes she'd be played by Mandy Moore." I am sorry but not only is Mandy Moore too thin and pretty to play Monica, she is also a blond. What has America come to when they can't find an actress with moderate talent who looks like Lewinsky to play her in the trashy made-for-TV movie? Why do all roles have to go through Britney Spears and her clones?

  • ex-Washington DC Mayor and former crack addict Marion "The B*tch set me up!" Barry "would not confirm" on a radio show whether he is running for City Council, but he "urged listeners" to call 678-6979. Callers to that number are told to press 3 if they are calling for "Marion Barry for Ward 8 City Council." Ward 8? Isn't that the "I wish we were in Montgomery County, Maryland" section of DC where my Uncle lives? I don't think they will go for you Barry. Afte all, last time there was a "big" snow storm in DC and you were mayor, you were on vacation and didn't help out all those morons who can't handle the snow.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Playing the role of "Dumb Blond"

James Fallows writes an interesting article for the 7-8/04 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, noting that Pres. Bush "has been far more skillful in his debating career than is generally appreciated, and his successes in that realm put his widely noted lack of eloquence in a different light. During his career George Bush's speaking style has changed significantly. ... But his underlying approach to political communication has been constant -- and extremely effective."

Fallows watched "dozens of hours' worth" of Bush and John Kerry "in action." But he writes, "it was the hour in which Bush faced Ann Richards" in '94 "that I had to watch several times. The Bush on this tape was almost unrecognizable -- and not just because he looked different from the figure we are accustomed to in the White House. ... This Bush was eloquent. He spoke quickly and easily. He rattled off complicated sentences and brought them to the right grammatical conclusions. He mishandled a word or two ... but fewer than most people would in an hour's debate. More striking, he did not pause before forcing out big words, as he often does now, or invent mangled new ones."

"The man on the debate platform looked and sounded smart and in control" in '94. If you had to guess which of the two candidates had won the debate scholarship to college and was about to win the governorship, you would choose Bush." So the question is, what happened? Did Bush suddenly, like Algernon become stupid [again]?

I think Dubya is again much smarter than liberal Bush-haters give him credit for. He knows what people like, and that is a simple man with a clear vision. He appeals to what many Americans think he is "like them" and average by talking simply and having trouble with big words, especially foreign ones. By seeming dumb, Bush has made winning debates easy. Because no matter how good Gore (or Kerry) is/will be, Bush is still the mouse that can talk, and his performance is pretty good for a mouse.
Plan C

The FDA overruled its own scientists last month, preventing the "morning after" pill known as Plan B to be available over the counter. So far so typical for the Bush administration, who favors ideologs over actual science [please read the article; he is an old friend of mine from the DLC]

Today's Slate points out a large fallacy in the FDA administrator's logic for blocking Plan B: that sex is very rare for 11-14 year olds after all, despite his claims.

"A North Carolina research group called Family Health International placed ads in public places, announcing a hot line that anyone could call to have an EC [the shortened, chemical name for Plan B] prescription phoned in to a pharmacy. Over two years, 121 calls came from women 40 or older; 845 from women 30 to 39; and 4,000 from women 20 to 29. There were 783 calls from 19-year-olds, 840 from 18-year-olds, 612 from 17-year-olds, 409 from 16-year-olds, and 167 from 15-year-olds. From there the call volume plummeted: Just 31 calls came from 14-year-olds and four from 13-year-olds. No 12-year-olds called in. One 11-year-old did. Combined, girls ages 11 to 14 made just 36 out of 8,000 EC requests, less than .5 percent of the total." Of course, that number may get higher if you can get it like aspirin instead of calling in for it, but other studies show it to be pretty small.

Well how about the CDC's own study, then? A 2003 report, called Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, "just 7 percent of today's adolescents have sexual intercourse before the age of 13. Among these, the vast majority are boys. For girls-- the population Galson [the FDA Administrator] is talking about [when he decided not to let Plan B go over the counter]-- the figure is much lower: The 2003 data show that only 4 percent of girls have sex before they are 13." Slate's Lisa Mundy points out that most of these girls are in the most need of the morning after pill. They are less likely to use condoms (partially because many of their encounters at this age consists of forced sex by older men) or other birth control and are unlikely to get abortions because of parental notification laws, which means they will become teen mothers and high school dropouts.

During the Clinton years, teen pregnancy dropped dramatically; during the Bush presidency, you guessed it, it is going up. This not only reflects the worsening economic conditions but further hinders our future competitive ability. High School dropouts don't usually found successful, dynamic 21st century companies, let alone industries. In fact, they will probably be more of a drain on public funding than support to it. Isn't it worth a little effort now to save big bucks in the end?

And just so you know, Plan B is actually a combo of several birth control pills and not is RU-486. "B" is something people used to make at home until a company started making it is cheap large batches. So if you think Abortion is murder, but take the pill, you can't have any qualms with Plan B. But if you are stricter pro-lifer, then perhaps it is still murder to you to prevent a fertilized zygote from attaching to the lining of the uterus.

The reason it is called the morning after pill is of course because it is most effective immediately afterwards or the next morning. And precisely because sex is the type of activity that doesn't comply with doctor's hours, getting a prescription is overly burdensome.

Due to Galson's ruling, the company that manufactures Plan B is now going for plan C: asking for it to be sold "semi-over the counter" to 16 year olds and up. This will make the morning after pill like cigarettes and condoms in some places, you have ask for them and show ID. This just another way of discouraging their use, really counteracts the whole point of making them over the counter anyway. Then again, our more liberal neighbor to the north, Canada, does the same thing.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The Affair that wasn't

Alexandra Polier, (see above) the woman who was accused of having an affair with Democratic Presidential Nominee-to-be John Kerry writes her story in the latest New York magazine: "I met John Kerry for the first time in January 2001, in Davos, Switzerland." She says she introduced herself, "and he looked pleased to hear a familiar accent." Kerry asked "What are you doing here?" and ordered her "a drink. We moved swiftly through American foreign policy to his political ambitions." Polier, "with a confidence that probably seemed very forward": "I think you're going to be the next president of the United States." He asked if she "had any desire to work on a political campaign, so I ran through my resume." He "seemed impressed, and after sharing Davos gossip for fifteen minutes, he shook my hand and said": "Get in touch with my office. Maybe there's something you can do for the campaign."

More Polier: "I called the senator's office the week I got back and was invited to a fund-raiser in New York later that month. His assistant assured me that the $2,000 ticket would be comped. When Kerry eventually arrived, everything seemed glamorous. At first I was afraid that he wouldn't recognize me. 'Alexandra, so glad you could make it,' he said when he reached me. Beckoning to a handsome aide who'd walked in with him, he introduced me to his finance director, Peter Maroney. We were the youngest people in the room by fifteen years, and after discovering the coincidence of growing up in the same hometown, we hit it off. I found him charming, smart, and charismatic -- a cuter version of his boss."

More Polier: "As the last guests were heading out, Kerry came back and suggested we all go to dinner at Churrascaria Plataforma, a Brazilian restaurant nearby. I was surprised to be invited, and flattered when I was seated between Peter and the senator. I hoped it was my wit and enthusiasm, not my blonde hair and long legs, that got me a seat at the table. --Her picture tells me it was at least a little bit of both (looks couldn't have hurt)

Yet more Polier: "I felt like a serious player. Four mojitos later, the conversation was animated. Plans for a Kerry presidency were punctuated by platters of skirt steak and roasted salmon. The senator was flirtatious and funny. I felt I held my own with the other dinner guests, and Kerry announced to them that he hoped I would be coming onboard the campaign soon. And after dinner, as Peter put me into a cab, I knew I would be hearing from the senator's finance director again. A phone friendship with Peter followed, and we started dating that spring. I contemplated moving to Washington and spoke a few times on the phone with Kerry, who indulged me by offering advice about my career. The presidential race was still three years away, and by then I'd been accepted at Columbia. Peter was a little nervous about dating a fledgling reporter, but our relationship was fun." She adds: "Eventually the relationship fizzled out, but we remained friends, talking often. When I left the States last fall, we stayed in touch via e-mail, and Peter would send me links to articles mentioning his successes." According to Polier, one email she received read: "Al, there's a rumor going around the office that you slept with my boss."

Still more Polier: "Peter recommended I talk with Kerry's spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter. Several hours later, the two of them called me back, telling me they also had a lawyer in the room. Cutter sounded young and hard, and I imagined her like Lara Flynn Boyle on The Practice. She peppered me with questions. When had I first met the senator? 'Davos.' Were there any pictures of us together? 'No,' I said. 'Think back, Alex, think hard,' she said, both stern and unsympathetic. I thought, Wait a minute, I'm the victim here. 'Have you ever been alone with the senator?' she continued. 'No.' 'Are you sure?' she drilled. 'Yes. I'm sure,' I said, trying to joke a bit. 'I think I would remember!' No response. Had I spoken with anyone in the press? 'No.' 'Okay,' she said, pausing, sounding slightly relieved."

"I began by calling political reporters and strategists, who told me that as early as the New Hampshire primary, on January 27, two weeks before the story appeared on Drudge, there had been rumors swirling that Kerry had an intern problem. ... I had assumed that the story, like much of the initial reporting, was part of a Republican dirty-tricks campaign to break Kerry's momentum. ... As I began to trace the rumor, I learned that the vaguer it was, the easier it was to spread. Without a specific intern's name attached, the story was initially impossible to disprove. ... As I continued to dig, it occurred to me that Bush wasn't the only one with a motive. Clark, Dean, and Edwards all stood to gain if Kerry imploded." Says a reporter who covered the Clark camp: "This story played into so many agendas, everyone wanted it to be true."

More Polier, on then-Clark strategist Chris Lehane: "I wondered if Lehane had been the source, especially since he had switched horses mid-race. ... Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's former campaign manager, told me he'd also heard Lehane had been shopping the rumor -- presumably on Clark's behalf. Drudge claimed Clark himself had told reporters on his campaign bus that Kerry was going to 'implode' over a scandal, but when I called Wesley Clark Jr., a screenwriter in L.A., who had helped out on his father's campaign, he told me Drudge had ignored the context of his father's quote. 'He was reacting to the latest issue of The National Enquirer, which had just run a front-page story about Kerry and possible scandals, when he said that.'"

More Polier, on calling Lehane herself: "I asked him where he'd first heard the rumors about Kerry and me. He blamed political reporters. I asked him if he had used the rumors to try to help Clark. He denied it. 'There are just so many media outlets out there now, Alex, that these kind of baseless rumors can easily get turned into stories,' he said smoothly, and then the phone went dead. I called him right back, but he didn't answer. I called again less than an hour later, and this time his outgoing message had been changed to, 'Hi, you've reached Chris. I'm traveling and won't be able to retrieve my voice mail.' I wondered how he was able to run a PR company without retrieving voice mail. Our conversation was unsettling, but it was hardly conclusive." According to Polier, Matt Drudge told her: "In retrospect, I should have had a sentence saying, 'There is no evidence to tie Alex to John Kerry.' I should have put that." He added: "If Clark had not gone out there and said, 'Kerry is going to bomb,' I never, ever, would have gone anywhere near this'"

I'm sorry, but as much as I don't believe Lehane, he is still more believable than Drudge. Clark had nothing to do with this, other than hiring the scumbag Lehane and maybe listening to his bad advice.