Happy Valentine's Day to Planet Swank's loyal readers (all three of you)! My lovely wife and I are about to go out for a night of dinner and dancing. We hope everyone is having a wonderful time with his or her spouse, significant other, or own bad self.
I wanted to take this opportunity to wish my lovely wife a wonderful and very happy birthday. For her birthday dinner, I made sushi. Crystal is a joy to come home to after work and to wake up next to in the morning. I look forward to sharing many, many more birthdays together, darling.
Despite the efforts of Bush Administration apologists to wish the Bush AWOL scandal away, the normally somnolent White House Press Corps seemed to notice immediately that the pay documents released by the White House hardly put the issue to rest. The New York Times takes note of the fact in this editorial (registration required).
If President Bush thought that his release of selected payroll and service records would quell the growing controversy over whether he ducked some of his required service in the Air National Guard three decades ago, he is clearly mistaken. The payroll records released yesterday document that he performed no guard duties at all for more than half a year in 1972 and raise questions about how he could be credited with at least 14 days of duty during subsequent periods when his superior officers in two units said they had not seen him.
Investigative reporting by The Boston Globe, our sibling newspaper, revealed in 2000 that Mr. Bush had reported for duty and flown regularly in his first four Texas Guard years but dropped off the Guard's radar screen when he went to Alabama to work on a senatorial campaign. The payroll records show that he was paid for many days of duty in the first four months of 1972, when he was in Texas, but then went more than six months without being paid, virtually the entire time he was working on the Senate campaign in Alabama. That presumably means he never reported for duty during that period.
Mr. Bush was credited with 14 days of service at unspecified locations between Oct. 28, 1972, and the end of April 1973. The commanding officer of the Alabama unit to which Mr. Bush was supposed to report long ago said that he had never seen him appear for duty, and Mr. Bush's superiors at the Texas unit to which he returned wrote in May 1973 that they could not write an annual evaluation of him because he had not been seen there during that year. Those statements are so jarringly at odds with the payroll data that they demand further elaboration. A Guard memo prepared for the White House by a former Guard official says Mr. Bush earned enough points to fulfill his duty but leaves it unclear whether he got special treatment.
The issue is not whether Mr. Bush, like many sons of the elite in his generation, sought refuge in the Guard to avoid combat in Vietnam. The public knew about that during the 2000 campaign. Whether Mr. Bush actually performed his Guard service to the full is a different matter. It bears on presidential character because the president has continually rejected claims that there was anything amiss about his Guard performance during the Alabama period. Mr. Bush himself also made the issue of military service fair game by posturing as a swashbuckling pilot when welcoming a carrier home from Iraq. Now, the president needs to make a fuller explanation of how he spent his last two years in the Guard.
Indeed, that's just what we need -- a fuller explanation from the President. Citing his honorable discharge simply won't do; indeed, if memory serves me right, that very discharge -- or contemporaneous documents -- indicate that Bush was at least six months shy of a six-year commitment. And that's relevant because of Bush's own claims about his service in his 2000 campaign autobiography.
CalPundit has been the go-to guy on the Bush AWOL scandal; see his comments about Bush's pay records here. Mark Kleiman makes the spot-on observation that this scandal may help blunt -- not prevent, but blunt -- the inevitable smear attacks on the eventual Democratic nominee. Josh Marshall also points out the White House's furious backpedaling from Bush's blurted promise to release "absolutely" all relevant records.
Which indeed gets to the heart of the issue. Bush could indeed put all questions to rest by releasing his full military record, as apparently every President before him has done, including his own father. It's high time he did so. So why won't he?
My review of the unusual science fiction anime DVD A Wind Named Amnesia is now up at Destroy All Monsters. And Musashi has posted my editorial that lays out a clever plan for Disney's triumphant return to traditional 2-D animation, along with a swell banner he created.
Conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly once said the Bush Administration had to be right about its repeated assertions of proof os Iraq's weapons of mass destrcution program related activities, so much so that he pledged to apologize if the weapons weren't found within six months.
Conservative television news anchor Bill O'Reilly said on Tuesday he was now skeptical about the Bush administration and apologized to viewers for supporting prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
The anchor of his own show on Fox News said he was sorry he gave the U.S. government the benefit of the doubt that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's weapons program poised an imminent threat, the main reason cited for going to war.
"I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all and I think all Americans should be concerned about this," O'Reilly said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America."
First, let's be very clear about one thing: whatever weapons program Saddam may or may not have had on the eve of war posed no threat at all to the United States, imminent or otherwise. Let's not forget that part of Bush's case was an utterly bogus speculation that Saddam would provide said weapons to al Qaeda.
There's no dishonor in having taken Bush at his word, nor for having chosen to be skeptical -- that is, insist that the Administration furnish the proof it claimed to have before launching a war. O'Reilley has taken the honorable path and admitted Bush's deceptiveness. How long before his fellow conservatives do the same?
Addressing guests at a $2,000-a-plate fundraiser, George W. Bush pledged Monday that, if re-elected in November, he and running mate Dick Cheney will "restore honor and dignity to the White House."
"After years of false statements and empty promises, it's time for big changes in Washington," Bush said. "We need a president who will finally stand up and fight against the lies and corruption. It's time to renew the faith the people once had in the White House. If elected, I pledge to usher in a new era of integrity inside the Oval Office."
Bush told the crowd that, if given the opportunity, he would work to reestablish the goodwill of the American people "from the very first hour of the very first day" of his second term.
"The people have spoken," Bush said. "They said they want change. They said it's time to clean up Washington. They're tired of politics as usual. They're tired of the pursuit of self-interest that has gripped Washington. They want to see an end to partisan bickering and closed-door decision-making. If I'm elected, I'll make sure that the American people can once again place their trust in the White House."
Bush said the soaring national debt and the lengthy war in Iraq have shaken Americans' faith in the highest levels of government.
"A credibility gap has opened between the Oval Office and America," Bush said. "The public hears talk, but they don't see any result. But if you choose me as your next president, the promises I make in my inaugural address will actually mean something. The president of this country will be held accountable for his promises, starting Jan. 20 of next year."
As a long-time fan of arcade video games, I enjoy the opportunity to replay some of my favorite games from my younger days on the computer courtesy the MAME emulator. The other day, I took quick break to enjoy one of my favorite video games of all times, Star Wars, in the comfort of my own home. The only drawback was that the mouse doesn't steer my tructy X-Wing as well as the arcade game's controller did.
You can pick up the ROM here (warning: possibly NSFW banner ads).
Bret passed along via email a link to this story by the Washington Post's Walter Pincus and Dana Priest. It really doesn't say much we all didn't already know -- Bush's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction exceeded what his intelligence services were telling him. But it lays out the case in a particularly
In its fall 2002 campaign to win congressional support for a war against Iraq, President Bush and his top advisers ignored many of the caveats and qualifiers included in the classified report on Saddam Hussein's weapons that CIA Director George J. Tenet defended Thursday.
In fact, they made some of their most unequivocal assertions about unconventional weapons before the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was completed.
Iraq "is a grave and gathering danger," Bush told the United Nations on Sept. 12, 2002. At the White House two weeks later -- after referring to a British government report that Iraq could launch "a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order" is given -- he went on to say, "Each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX -- nerve gas -- or someday a nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally."
Three weeks later, on the day the NIE was delivered to Congress, Bush told lawmakers in the White House Rose Garden that Iraq's current course was "a threat of unique urgency."
On Thursday, summarizing the NIE's conclusions, Tenet said: "They never said Iraq was an imminent threat."
The administration's prewar comments -- and the more cautious, qualified phrasings of intelligence analysts -- are at the heart of the debate over whether the faulty prewar claims resulted from bad intelligence or exaggeration by top White House officials -- or both.
Former chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay told senators last week that caveats often fall by the wayside "the higher you go up" the bureaucratic chain. At the top, he said, "you read the headlines, you read the summary, you're busy, you've got other things to do."
Given the unenviable situation that Bush led us into in Iraq, the notion that this Administation had "other things to do" than even attempt to learn the turth about the feeble non-threat Iraq posed are outrageous. But then, any honest observer of Bush's march to war -- in particular, his resistance to the resumption, and then continuation of, the weapons inspections -- could only conclude that the truth was the last thing Bush wanted, as it would have undoubtedly dampened the war fever he and his minions worked so tirelessly to whip up.
It's been a while since I last posted about the hit counter . That's because frankly, my friends, it's gone simply haywire, as you can see from the accompanying graphic. Since the last time I checked on January 25, the hit counter has spiked yet again, from roughly 550 a day to its current more than 1,000. The total visits have jumped from 62,329 on the 25th to its current figure of 71,667 I've had 5,167 hits this week alone. I wish it could say it's because this humble blog has at last been discovered, but the current slack period simply doesn't justify it.
No, most of the hits come from Google searches for an image (fairly SFW) I posted some time ago from a mention of the hentai game "Three Sisters Story." Although I took the image down back on the 25th, the hits keep coming. I can only figure someone has linked to the image, but I haven't tried investigating yet. Any advice from my tech-savvy readership would be welcome. What gives?