October 17, 2004

LNS Countdown to Electoral Uprising -- 16 Days to Go -- More doubts about _resident's mental health, Scowcroft dissents, F911 blocks from pre-election pay per view, real journalism from Knight Ridder, Votergate, former Rep. Gov. calls Cheney "evil"

There are only 16 days to go until the national
referendum on the CHARACTER, COMPETENCE and
CREDIBILITY of the _resident and the VICE
_resident...At least seven more US soldiers have died
in Iraq over the last twenty-four hours. For what? The
neo-con wet dream of a Three Stooges Reich...
There *is* an Electoral Uprising coming. The race is
not as close as the US regimestream news media, with
its cooked polls, craven propapunditgandists and
besotted anchor men, want you to believe. As Theoden
said to the Rohirrim, just before they plunged into
the multitude of orcs who had already broken through
the outer walls of Minas Tirth and were beginning to sack
the city, "Fear no darkness."
Here are EIGHT very compelling pieces. Please read
them and share them with others. Please vote and
encourage others to vote. Please remember that the US
regimestream news media is a full partner in a Triad
of shared special interest (e.g., energy, weapons,
media, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, tobacco, etc.) with
the Bush Cabal and its wholly-owned-subsidiary-formerly-known-as-the-Republican-Party...

www.buzzflash.com: Every year for the last three years
President Bush has had his annual physical in August.
This year the Bush administration has announced that
the president will not be taking his physical until
after the election. Time constraints of his
re-election campaign are given as the major reason for
the change. Exactly how long does a physical take? Not
that long really. So is the President really skipping
his physical because of time constraints or is he
hiding something?
There are many reasons to suspect the President is
hiding something. First is the physical evidence
visible in the three presidential debates. In the
first debate the President was relatively subdued.
Most notable was a persistent scowl that seldom left
his face unless he was the one speaking. But in the
second debate there was a completely different version
of the President. He seemed overly aggressive and kept
making an odd side to side motion with his lower jaw.
Many, including doctors and other medical
professionals, suggested the changes were symptomatic
of someone who had been given cocaine or a drug with
similar effects.
The aggressive behavior and the jaw movement were gone
in the third debate but that time the President had an
odd white spittle in the corner of his mouth, seemed
to have a more reddish than usual complexion, and the
left side of his face seemed to droop
uncharacteristically. Many, again including doctors
and other medical professionals, wondered if the
President had suffered a minor stroke or perhaps
developed a heart condition. Some noted that the size
and placement of the odd bulge evident under the
Presidentís suit jacket at the debates were consistent
with a type of special defibrillator that can be worn
under oneís clothing. Others suggested that if the
President had been medicated at the second debate he
could have been given a different medication before
the third debate and that the flushing and salivation
could be side effects of that medicine.
If there were no other evidence besides what was
plainly visible during the debates, the Presidentís
decision to delay his annual physical until after the
election would definitely still give the appearance of
hiding something. But the questions about the
Presidentís health donít stop there. As noted by James
Fallows in the July/August 2004 edition of Atlantic
Monthly, the contrast between the President, as he is
today and the George W. Bush who debated Ann Richards
in 1994 is startling. Over the last ten years the
Presidentís speaking ability has declined
dramatically. Another video made recently by the
President for the Iraqi Survey Group was leaked to the
website dailykos.com. In that video the President
struggled even more than usual to speak clearly and
form complete thoughts. Something definitely seemed
amiss.
In addition to the Presidentís documented
deterioration in speaking ability there have been what
seem an unusual number of falls and bad bruises. The
President fell off a Segway scooter, which is
supposedly difficult to do. He reportedly choked on a
pretzel and then briefly passed out. He reportedly
fell off a bicycle on his ranch after hitting a slick
spot caused by rain (even though weather reports
contradicted the rain part of the official story). In
another incident he injured his knee and had to give
up running. And these are just some of the episodes
that have been reported. The President also has a
curiously low resting heart rate (43 bpm).
A piece by Ron Suskind published in the New York Times
Magazine on October 17, 2004 also raised anew
speculation about the Presidentís temperament. Insider
witnesses confirm that the President has a certainty
of mind that sometimes defies the facts and that he
often displays belligerent impatience with those who
tell him what he does not want to hear.
Previously, a handful of professional analysts had
publicly speculated in print that such behavior might
be a symptom of dry drunk syndrome and that the
Presidentís past alcohol and/or drug abuse might be
affecting his health. Along those lines, some doctors
have specifically noted that spider lesions, like ones
that have been removed from the Presidentís face, can
be evidence of liver problems.

Andrew Stephen, Observer: The evidence has been before
our eyes for some time, but only during the course of
this election campaign has it crystallised - just in
time, possibly, for the 2 November election. The 43rd
US President has always had a much-publicised knack
for mangled syntax, but now George Bush often searches
an agonisingly long time, sometimes in vain, for the
right words. His mind simply blanks out at crucial
times. He is prone, I am told, to foul-mouthed temper
tantrums in the White House. His handlers now rarely
allow him to speak an unscripted word in public.
Indeed, there are now several confusing faces to the
US President, and we saw three of them in the live,
televised Presidential debates with John Kerry that
culminated last Wednesday night in Tempe, Arizona. In
the first debate on 30 September, watched by more than
62 million viewers, we saw Bush at his most
unattractive: slouching, peevish, pouting, pursing his
lips with disdain at what his opponent was saying. But
he was unable to marshal any coherent arguments
against Kerry and merely spewed out prepared talking
points - in what, even his ardent supporters concede,
was Bush's worst-ever such performance.
In the second debate on 8 October in St Louis, Bush
could not stay on his stool and leapt up to dispense
what were - certainly in contrast to Kerry's cogent
recital of statistics and arguments - frequently
defensive, shouting rants. I assume that he was told
by his handlers not to show displeasure at Kerry's
words this time around, but, instead, he revealed his
anger by blinking repeatedly...
By the time of the third debate on 13 October, this
one witnessed by more than 50 million people, Bush had
adopted yet another baffling persona. This time, he
was peculiarly flushed, leading a colleague to
speculate whether he was on something. He had clearly
been told to look positive - that was his main thrust
of the evening, with frequent assertions that 'freedom
is on the march' - and spent the evening with a
creepy, inane grin on his face, as though he was
red-faced after a festive Christmas dinner.
So what is up with the US President, and why is this
election so crucial not only for America but for the
world? I have been examining videos of his first 1994
debate with Ann Richards, the Governor of Texas, who
he was about to supplant, and of his 2000 debates with
Al Gore. In his one and only debate with Richards a
decade ago, Bush was fluent and disciplined; with
Gore, he had lost some of that polish but was still
articulate, with frequent invocations of his supposed
'compassionate conservatism'.
It is thus hard to avoid the conclusion that Bush's
cognitive functioning is not, for some reason, what it
once was. I am not qualified to say why this is so. It
would not be surprising if he was under enormous
stress, particularly after the 9/11 atrocities in
2001, and I gather this could explain much, if not
everything.
But I have heard wild speculation in Washington that
he is suffering from a neurological disorder, or that
the years of alcoholism might finally be taking their
toll on his brain.
I think it unlikely that Bush was wearing a bug so
that he could be fed lines in at least one of the
debates, but it is indicative of how his capabilities
are regarded these days that the suggestion that he
needed advice is given credence, as well as passing
mentions in the powerful Washington Post and New York
Times .
It does not help that Bush now lives in a positively
Nixonian cocoon. He does not read newspapers; he sees
television only to watch football; he makes election
speeches exclusively at ticket-only events, and his
courtiers consciously avoid giving him bad news. When
he met John Kerry for their first bout on the debating
platform, it was almost a new experience for the
President to hear the voice of dissent.
A senior Republican, experienced and wise in the ways
of Washington, told me last Friday that he does not
necessarily accept that Bush is unstable, but what is
clear, he added, is that he is now manifestly unfit to
be President.
This, too, is a view that is widely felt, but seldom
articulated and then only in private, within the
Republican as well as Democratic establishments in
Washington. Either way, the choice voters make on
Tuesday fortnight should be obvious: whether he is
unstable or merely unfit to be President - and I would
argue that they amount to much the same - he should
speedily be turfed out of office.

HERB KEINON, Jerusalem Post: Brent Scowcroft, a former
US national security adviser, said in an interview
with London's Financial Times that Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon has Bush "wrapped around his little
finger."
Scowcroft, considered a mentor to US National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice, was also quoted as saying
that Iraq is a "failing venture." Sharon, Scowcroft
said he has Bush "mesmerized."

Ron Suskind, NY Times: The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Associated Press: A cable pay-per-view company has
decided not to show a three-hour election eve special
with filmmaker Michael Moore that included a showing
of his documentary ``Fahrenheit 9/11,'' which is
sharply critical of President Bush.
The company, iN DEMAND, said Friday that its
decision is due to ``legitimate business and legal
concerns.'' A spokesman would not elaborate.
Moore has just released his movie on DVD and was
seeking a TV outlet for the film.
Earlier this week, trade publications said Moore
was close to a deal with iN DEMAND for ``The Michael
Moore Pre-Election Special,'' which also would include
interviews with politically active celebrities and
admonitions to vote. The Nov. 1 special was to be
available for $9.95.
Moore said Friday he signed a contract with the
company in early September and is considering legal
action. He said he believes iN DEMAND decided not to
air the film because of pressure from ``top Republican
people.''
"Apparently people have put pressure on them and
they've broken a contract,'' Moore told The Associated
Press.
``We've informed them of their legal responsibility
and we all informed them that every corporate
executive that has attempted to prohibit Americans
from seeing this film has failed,'' Moore said.
``There's been one struggle or another over this, but
we've always come out on top because you can't tell
Americans they can't watch this.''
The New York-based iN DEMAND, owned by the Time
Warner, Cox and Comcast cable companies, makes
pay-per-view programming available in 28 million
homes, or about one-quarter of the nation's homes with
television...
This spring, Moore did battle with the Walt Disney
Co., which refused to release ``Fahrenheit 9/11''
through its Miramax Films because it was too
politically partisan for the company's taste...
Also Friday, Moore offered to let Sinclair Broadcast
Group Inc. air the movie for free. Such a deal would
likely get a chilly reception at Sinclair, a
broadcaster with a reputation for conservative
politics that plans to air a critical documentary
about John Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activities on
dozens of TV stations two weeks before the election.

Editors & Publishers: Knight Ridder's Washington
bureau, which in the past two years has produced a
string of important exclusives related to the Iraq war
(and pre-war), offered evidence today about poor or
"non-existent" planning for the U.S. occupation of
Iraq, as well as the failure to provide 100,000 more
troops military commanders had wanted.
The article carries the byline of Warren P. Strobel
and John Walcott but was also reported by Joseph
Galloway and Jonathan Landay. It was based on official
documents and on interviews with more than three dozen
current and former military and civilian officials who
participated directly in planning for the war and its
aftermath.
Some senior officials spoke about their concerns for
the first time, the story said.
"A Knight Ridder review of the administration's Iraq
policy and decisions has found that it invaded Iraq
without a comprehensive plan in place to secure and
rebuild the country," the article declares.
"The administration also failed to provide some
100,000 additional U.S. troops that American military
commanders originally wanted to help restore order and
reconstruct a country shattered by war, a brutal
dictatorship and economic sanctions. In fact, some
senior Pentagon officials had thought they could bring
most American soldiers home from Iraq by September
2003. Instead, more than a year later, 138,000 U.S.
troops are still fighting...."
The Bush administration's failure to plan to win the
peace was the product of many of the same problems
that plagued the administration's case for war, the KR
report continues, "including wishful thinking, bad
information from Iraqi exiles who said Iraqis would
welcome American troops as liberators and contempt for
dissenting opinions.
However, the administration's planning for postwar
Iraq differed in one crucial respect from its
erroneous pre-war claims: "The U.S. intelligence
community had been divided about the state of Saddam's
weapons programs, but there was little disagreement
among experts throughout the government that winning
the peace in Iraq could be much harder than winning a
war.

Terry McAulifee's Letter to RNC Chairman: In recent
weeks, all over the country, the Republican Party has
been engaged in systematic efforts to disenfranchise
votersóto impose unlawful i.d. requirements in New
Mexico, to throw eligible voters off the rolls in
Clark County Nevada and to deprive voters of their
rights to vote a provisional ballot in Ohio, among
other examples...You can either let this burgeoning
Republican scandal fester, or you can come clean with
the American people by giving the Election Officials
in Nevada and Oregon, the press and the public answers
to these questions immediately:
Why is the Republican National Committee funding an
organization that is ripping up voter registration
forms of Democrats?
Who's behind "Voters Outreach for America" and what is
their link to Sproul & Associates?
How much has the RNC paid for "Voters Outreach" and
similar groups to engage in voter registration?
Exactly what were these groups instructed to do about
voters they registered who freely chose to register as
Democrats?
Disclosing to Election officials, attorneys in Nevada
and Oregon and press immediately, all documents,
correspondence and invoices between the RNC and
"Voters Outreach," Sproul and all other groups
employed by the RNC to register voters;
Refusing to pay Sproul and any other groups engaged in
GOP "registration activities" until all questions can
be answered and information disclosed.
Voluntarily agreeing to make knowledgeable RNC
officials available for depositions in the litigation
being brought by the Democratic Party of Nevada
seeking a remedy for the victims of Republican voter
registration fraud in that state and any other state
or party seeking relief based on RNC funded efforts.

Elmer Anderson, Star Tribune: Throughout my tenure and
beyond as the 30th governor of this state, I have been
steadfastly aligned -- and until recently, proudly so
-- with the Minnesota Republican Party.
It dismays me, therefore, to have to publicly disagree
with the national Republican agenda and the national
Republican candidate but, this year, I must.
The two "Say No to Bush" signs in my yard say it all.
The present Republican president has led us into an
unjustified war -- based on misguided and blatantly
false misrepresentations of the threat of weapons of
mass destruction. The terror seat was Afghanistan.
Iraq had no connection to these acts of terror and was
not a serious threat to the United States, as this
president claimed, and there was no relation, it's now
obvious, to any serious weaponry. Although Saddam
Hussein is a frightful tyrant, he posed no threat to
the United States when we entered the war. George W.
Bush's arrogant actions to jump into Iraq when he had
no plan how to get out have alienated the United
States from our most trusted allies and weakened us
immeasurably around the world.
Also, if there as well had been proper and careful
coordination of services and intelligence on Sept. 11,
2001, that horrific disaster might also have been
averted. But it was a separate event from this brutal
mess of a war, and the disingenuous linking of the
wholly unrelated situation in Iraq to 9/11 by this
administration is not supported by the facts...
I am more fearful for the state of this nation than I
have ever been -- because this country is in the hands
of an evil man: Dick Cheney. It is eminently clear
that it is he who is running the country, not George
W. Bush.
Bush's phony posturing as cocksure leader of the free
world -- symbolized by his victory symbol on the
aircraft carrier and "mission accomplished" statement
-- leave me speechless. The mission had barely been
started, let alone finished, and 18 months later it
still rages on. His ongoing "no-regrets," no-mistakes
stance and untruths on the war -- as well as on the
floundering economy and Bush administration
joblessness -- also disappoint and worry me...
As taxes for the wealthy are being cut, jobs are being
outsourced if not lost and children are homeless and
uninsured, this administration is running up the
biggest deficit in U.S. history -- bound to be a
terrible burden for future generations.
This imperialistic, stubborn adherence to wrongful
policies and known untruths by the Cheney-Bush
administration -- and that's the accurate order -- has
simply become more than I can stand.
Although I am a longtime Republican, it is time to
make a statement, and it is this: Vote for
Kerry-Edwards, I implore you, on Nov. 2.

Support Our Troops, Save the US Constitution,
Repudiate the 9/11 Cover-Up and the Iraq War Lies,
Restore Fiscal Responsibility in the White House,
Thwart the Theft of a Second Presidential Election,
Save the Environment, Break the Corporatist
Stranglehold on the US Mainstream News Media, Rescue
the US Supreme Court from Right-Wing Radicals, Cleanse
the White House of the Chicken Hawk Coup and Its
War-Profiteering Cronies, Show Up for Democracy in
2004: Defeat the Triad, Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.buzzflash.com/buzzscripts/buzz.dll/sub2

BUZZFLASH REPORT Sunday October 17, 2004 at 8:00:02 AM


Why is President Bush skipping his physical? (As He
Did During His Nation Guard days.)
October 17, 2004

A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION

Every year for the last three years President Bush has
had his annual physical in August. This year the Bush
administration has announced that the president will
not be taking his physical until after the election.
Time constraints of his re-election campaign are given
as the major reason for the change. Exactly how long
does a physical take? Not that long really. So is the
President really skipping his physical because of time
constraints or is he hiding something?

There are many reasons to suspect the President is
hiding something. First is the physical evidence
visible in the three presidential debates. In the
first debate the President was relatively subdued.
Most notable was a persistent scowl that seldom left
his face unless he was the one speaking. But in the
second debate there was a completely different version
of the President. He seemed overly aggressive and kept
making an odd side to side motion with his lower jaw.
Many, including doctors and other medical
professionals, suggested the changes were symptomatic
of someone who had been given cocaine or a drug with
similar effects.

The aggressive behavior and the jaw movement were gone
in the third debate but that time the President had an
odd white spittle in the corner of his mouth, seemed
to have a more reddish than usual complexion, and the
left side of his face seemed to droop
uncharacteristically. Many, again including doctors
and other medical professionals, wondered if the
President had suffered a minor stroke or perhaps
developed a heart condition. Some noted that the size
and placement of the odd bulge evident under the
Presidentís suit jacket at the debates were consistent
with a type of special defibrillator that can be worn
under oneís clothing. Others suggested that if the
President had been medicated at the second debate he
could have been given a different medication before
the third debate and that the flushing and salivation
could be side effects of that medicine.

If there were no other evidence besides what was
plainly visible during the debates, the Presidentís
decision to delay his annual physical until after the
election would definitely still give the appearance of
hiding something. But the questions about the
Presidentís health donít stop there. As noted by James
Fallows in the July/August 2004 edition of Atlantic
Monthly, the contrast between the President, as he is
today and the George W. Bush who debated Ann Richards
in 1994 is startling. Over the last ten years the
Presidentís speaking ability has declined
dramatically. Another video made recently by the
President for the Iraqi Survey Group was leaked to the
website dailykos.com. In that video the President
struggled even more than usual to speak clearly and
form complete thoughts. Something definitely seemed
amiss.

In addition to the Presidentís documented
deterioration in speaking ability there have been what
seem an unusual number of falls and bad bruises. The
President fell off a Segway scooter, which is
supposedly difficult to do. He reportedly choked on a
pretzel and then briefly passed out. He reportedly
fell off a bicycle on his ranch after hitting a slick
spot caused by rain (even though weather reports
contradicted the rain part of the official story). In
another incident he injured his knee and had to give
up running. And these are just some of the episodes
that have been reported. The President also has a
curiously low resting heart rate (43 bpm).

A piece by Ron Suskind published in the New York Times
Magazine on October 17, 2004 also raised anew
speculation about the Presidentís temperament. Insider
witnesses confirm that the President has a certainty
of mind that sometimes defies the facts and that he
often displays belligerent impatience with those who
tell him what he does not want to hear.

Previously, a handful of professional analysts had
publicly speculated in print that such behavior might
be a symptom of dry drunk syndrome and that the
Presidentís past alcohol and/or drug abuse might be
affecting his health. Along those lines, some doctors
have specifically noted that spider lesions, like ones
that have been removed from the Presidentís face, can
be evidence of liver problems.

Many, perhaps even all, of the questions raised here
about the Presidentís health might have innocent
explanations. But taken together they raise a huge red
flag about the President delaying his annual physical
until after the election. If he has nothing to hide he
should take a short break from campaigning and spend a
few hours getting his official check-up.

A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION


http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,6903,1329254,00.html

Has Bush lost his reason?

The President's apparent mental fragility should give
US voters pause for thought at the ballot box

Andrew Stephen
Sunday October 17, 2004
The Observer

It will, we are confidently told, be the most
important American election for generations. In the
words last week of Dick Cheney, the voice of what
passes for gravitas in the Bush Administration,
Americans will have to make 'about as serious a
decision as anybody is ever asked to make' when they
go to the polls in 17 days' time.
The prophets of doom, whom Cheney exemplifies, are
precisely right about the importance of this election.
But the momentous decision awaiting Americans is not
whether they return to power a President who is
uniquely qualified to protect the US against
terrorism, as Cheney et al would have us believe. It
is whether they re-elect a man who, it is now clear,
has become palpably unstable.

The evidence has been before our eyes for some time,
but only during the course of this election campaign
has it crystallised - just in time, possibly, for the
2 November election. The 43rd US President has always
had a much-publicised knack for mangled syntax, but
now George Bush often searches an agonisingly long
time, sometimes in vain, for the right words. His mind
simply blanks out at crucial times. He is prone, I am
told, to foul-mouthed temper tantrums in the White
House. His handlers now rarely allow him to speak an
unscripted word in public.

Indeed, there are now several confusing faces to the
US President, and we saw three of them in the live,
televised Presidential debates with John Kerry that
culminated last Wednesday night in Tempe, Arizona. In
the first debate on 30 September, watched by more than
62 million viewers, we saw Bush at his most
unattractive: slouching, peevish, pouting, pursing his
lips with disdain at what his opponent was saying. But
he was unable to marshal any coherent arguments
against Kerry and merely spewed out prepared talking
points - in what, even his ardent supporters concede,
was Bush's worst-ever such performance.
In the second debate on 8 October in St Louis, Bush
could not stay on his stool and leapt up to dispense
what were - certainly in contrast to Kerry's cogent
recital of statistics and arguments - frequently
defensive, shouting rants. I assume that he was told
by his handlers not to show displeasure at Kerry's
words this time around, but, instead, he revealed his
anger by blinking repeatedly.

The moderator tried to stop him talking at one point
(both campaign organisations had agreed the order in
which the candidates could speak, with time limits
imposed on both), but Bush insisted on riding
roughshod over the briefly protesting moderator,
Charles Gibson. (What, I wonder, would have happened
if Gibson had kept to the rules and insisted that Bush
stop talking? We will never know.)

By the time of the third debate on 13 October, this
one witnessed by more than 50 million people, Bush had
adopted yet another baffling persona. This time, he
was peculiarly flushed, leading a colleague to
speculate whether he was on something. He had clearly
been told to look positive - that was his main thrust
of the evening, with frequent assertions that 'freedom
is on the march' - and spent the evening with a
creepy, inane grin on his face, as though he was
red-faced after a festive Christmas dinner.

So what is up with the US President, and why is this
election so crucial not only for America but for the
world? I have been examining videos of his first 1994
debate with Ann Richards, the Governor of Texas, who
he was about to supplant, and of his 2000 debates with
Al Gore. In his one and only debate with Richards a
decade ago, Bush was fluent and disciplined; with
Gore, he had lost some of that polish but was still
articulate, with frequent invocations of his supposed
'compassionate conservatism'.

It is thus hard to avoid the conclusion that Bush's
cognitive functioning is not, for some reason, what it
once was. I am not qualified to say why this is so. It
would not be surprising if he was under enormous
stress, particularly after the 9/11 atrocities in
2001, and I gather this could explain much, if not
everything.

But I have heard wild speculation in Washington that
he is suffering from a neurological disorder, or that
the years of alcoholism might finally be taking their
toll on his brain.

I think it unlikely that Bush was wearing a bug so
that he could be fed lines in at least one of the
debates, but it is indicative of how his capabilities
are regarded these days that the suggestion that he
needed advice is given credence, as well as passing
mentions in the powerful Washington Post and New York
Times .

It does not help that Bush now lives in a positively
Nixonian cocoon. He does not read newspapers; he sees
television only to watch football; he makes election
speeches exclusively at ticket-only events, and his
courtiers consciously avoid giving him bad news. When
he met John Kerry for their first bout on the debating
platform, it was almost a new experience for the
President to hear the voice of dissent.

A senior Republican, experienced and wise in the ways
of Washington, told me last Friday that he does not
necessarily accept that Bush is unstable, but what is
clear, he added, is that he is now manifestly unfit to
be President.

This, too, is a view that is widely felt, but seldom
articulated and then only in private, within the
Republican as well as Democratic establishments in
Washington. Either way, the choice voters make on
Tuesday fortnight should be obvious: whether he is
unstable or merely unfit to be President - and I would
argue that they amount to much the same - he should
speedily be turfed out of office.

But Bush and his handlers like Cheney are driven, if
nothing else, by a primal and overriding need to win,
to destroy enemies who are blocking their way (shades,
again, of Nixon?). Thus the speeches Bush now reads to
the Republican faithful at his campaign meetings
reflect their intent to demonise and annihilate
Kerry's character in the eyes of the electorate;
policy statements made by Kerry are wilfully distorted
and then endlessly repeated so that, in the end, the
distortions gain a credence among the majority who do
not follow such matters closely.

Whether the American electorate choose to see the
mounting, disturbing evidence about their President or
whether they rally to Cheney's obscenely manipulative
appeals for their patriotic support is still up in the
air.

Kerry is a poor candidate who has only recently woken
to the need to fight. Bush manages to maintain a
peculiarly American, ordinary bloke image -
mystifyingly so, given that he is the privileged
product of Andover, Yale and Harvard - that still
contrasts well, in the eyes of many Americans, with
Kerry's patrician manner.

The polls taken since Wednesday night's debate are
infuriatingly contradictory, too. The only consoling
thought is that soon we should know the result of that
very serious decision the American people have to make
on polling day. There are not many occasions when I
agree with anything that Dick Cheney says, but this is
one of the rare moments when I concur totally with
those chilling words.


http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1097915022656

Oct. 16, 2004 23:41
Former national security adviser blasts Sharon
By HERB KEINON

Brent Scowcroft, a former US national security
adviser, said in an interview with London's Financial
Times that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has Bush
"wrapped around his little finger."

Scowcroft, considered a mentor to US National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice, was also quoted as saying
that Iraq is a "failing venture."

Regarding Sharon, Scowcroft said he has Bush
"mesmerized."

"When there is a suicide attack [followed by a
reprisal] Sharon calls the president and says, 'I'm on
the front line of terrorism,' and the president says,
'Yes, you are...' He [Sharon] has been nothing but
trouble," said Scowcroft, who has also come out
against the Gaza disengagement plan.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/101704A.shtml

Without a Doubt
By Ron Suskind
The New York Times

Saturday 17 October 2004

Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to
Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first
President Bush, told me recently that "if Bush wins,
there will be a civil war in the Republican Party
starting on Nov. 3. " The nature of that conflict, as
Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one
raging across much of the world: a battle between
modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true
believers, reason and religion.


(Photo: Kevin LaMarque / Reuters)

"Just in the past few months," Bartlett said, "I
think a light has gone off for people who've spent
time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always
talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of
what he thinks God has told him to do." Bartlett, a
53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian
Republican who has lately been a champion for
traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's
governance, went on to say: "This is why George W.
Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic
fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill
them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're
extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands
them, because he's just like them. . . .

"This is why he dispenses with people who confront
him with inconvenient facts," Bartlett went on to say.
"He truly believes he's on a mission from God.
Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for
analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe
things for which there is no empirical evidence."
Bartlett paused, then said, "But you can't run the
world on faith."

Forty democratic senators were gathered for a
lunch in March just off the Senate floor. I was there
as a guest speaker. Joe Biden was telling a story, a
story about the president. "I was in the Oval Office a
few months after we swept into Baghdad," he began,
"and I was telling the president of my many concerns"
- concerns about growing problems winning the peace,
the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanding
of the Iraqi Army and problems securing the oil
fields. Bush, Biden recalled, just looked at him,
unflappably sure that the United States was on the
right course and that all was well. "'Mr. President,'
I finally said, 'How can you be so sure when you know
you don't know the facts?"'

Biden said that Bush stood up and put his hand on
the senator's shoulder. "My instincts," he said. "My
instincts."

Biden paused and shook his head, recalling it all
as the room grew quiet. "I said, 'Mr. President, your
instincts aren't good enough!"'

The democrat Biden and the Republican Bartlett are
trying to make sense of the same thing - a president
who has been an extraordinary blend of forcefulness
and inscrutability, opacity and action.

But lately, words and deeds are beginning to
connect.

The Delaware senator was, in fact, hearing what
Bush's top deputies - from cabinet members like Paul
O'Neill, Christine Todd Whitman and Colin Powell to
generals fighting in Iraq - have been told for years
when they requested explanations for many of the
president's decisions, policies that often seemed to
collide with accepted facts. The president would say
that he relied on his "gut" or his "instinct" to guide
the ship of state, and then he "prayed over it." The
old pro Bartlett, a deliberative, fact-based wonk, is
finally hearing a tune that has been hummed quietly by
evangelicals (so as not to trouble the secular) for
years as they gazed upon President George W. Bush.
This evangelical group - the core of the energetic
"base" that may well usher Bush to victory - believes
that their leader is a messenger from God. And in the
first presidential debate, many Americans heard the
discursive John Kerry succinctly raise, for the first
time, the issue of Bush's certainty - the issue being,
as Kerry put it, that "you can be certain and be
wrong."

What underlies Bush's certainty? And can it be
assessed in the temporal realm of informed consent?

All of this - the "gut" and "instincts," the
certainty and religiosity -connects to a single word,
"faith," and faith asserts its hold ever more on
debates in this country and abroad. That a deep
Christian faith illuminated the personal journey of
George W. Bush is common knowledge. But faith has also
shaped his presidency in profound, nonreligious ways.
The president has demanded unquestioning faith from
his followers, his staff, his senior aides and his
kindred in the Republican Party. Once he makes a
decision - often swiftly, based on a creed or moral
position - he expects complete faith in its rightness.


The disdainful smirks and grimaces that many
viewers were surprised to see in the first
presidential debate are familiar expressions to those
in the administration or in Congress who have simply
asked the president to explain his positions. Since
9/11, those requests have grown scarce; Bush's
intolerance of doubters has, if anything, increased,
and few dare to question him now. A writ of
infallibility - a premise beneath the powerful Bushian
certainty that has, in many ways, moved mountains - is
not just for public consumption: it has guided the
inner life of the White House. As Whitman told me on
the day in May 2003 that she announced her resignation
as administrator of the Environmental Protection
Agency: "In meetings, I'd ask if there were any facts
to support our case. And for that, I was accused of
disloyalty!" (Whitman, whose faith in Bush has since
been renewed, denies making these remarks and is now a
leader of the president's re-election effort in New
Jersey.)

The nation's founders, smarting still from the
punitive pieties of Europe's state religions, were
adamant about erecting a wall between organized
religion and political authority. But suddenly, that
seems like a long time ago. George W. Bush - both
captive and creator of this moment - has steadily,
inexorably, changed the office itself. He has created
the faith-based presidency.

The faith-based presidency is a
with-us-or-against-us model that has been enormously
effective at, among other things, keeping the workings
and temperament of the Bush White House a kind of
state secret. The dome of silence cracked a bit in the
late winter and spring, with revelations from the
former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke and also,
in my book, from the former Bush treasury secretary
Paul O'Neill. When I quoted O'Neill saying that Bush
was like "a blind man in a room full of deaf people,"
this did not endear me to the White House. But my
phone did begin to ring, with Democrats and
Republicans calling with similar impressions and
anecdotes about Bush's faith and certainty. These are
among the sources I relied upon for this article. Few
were willing to talk on the record. Some were willing
to talk because they said they thought George W. Bush
might lose; others, out of fear of what might
transpire if he wins. In either case, there seems to
be a growing silence fatigue - public servants, some
with vast experience, who feel they have spent years
being treated like Victorian-era children, seen but
not heard, and are tired of it. But silence still
reigns in the highest reaches of the White House.
After many requests, Dan Bartlett, the White House
communications director, said in a letter that the
president and those around him would not be
cooperating with this article in any way.

Some officials, elected or otherwise, with whom I
have spoken with left meetings in the Oval Office
concerned that the president was struggling with the
demands of the job. Others focused on Bush's
substantial interpersonal gifts as a compensation for
his perceived lack of broader capabilities. Still
others, like Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, a
Democrat, are worried about something other than his
native intelligence. "He's plenty smart enough to do
the job," Levin said. "It's his lack of curiosity
about complex issues which troubles me." But more than
anything else, I heard expressions of awe at the
president's preternatural certainty and wonderment
about its source.

There is one story about Bush's particular brand
of certainty I am able to piece together and tell for
the record.

In the Oval Office in December 2002, the president
met with a few ranking senators and members of the
House, both Republicans and Democrats. In those days,
there were high hopes that the United States-sponsored
"road map" for the Israelis and Palestinians would be
a pathway to peace, and the discussion that wintry day
was, in part, about countries providing peacekeeping
forces in the region. The problem, everyone agreed,
was that a number of European countries, like France
and Germany, had armies that were not trusted by
either the Israelis or Palestinians. One congressman -
the Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, a Democrat from
California and the only Holocaust survivor in Congress
- mentioned that the Scandinavian countries were
viewed more positively. Lantos went on to describe for
the president how the Swedish Army might be an ideal
candidate to anchor a small peacekeeping force on the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Sweden has a
well-trained force of about 25,000. The president
looked at him appraisingly, several people in the room
recall.

"I don't know why you're talking about Sweden,"
Bush said. "They're the neutral one. They don't have
an army."

Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a
gentlemanly reply: "Mr. President, you may have
thought that I said Switzerland. They're the ones that
are historically neutral, without an army." Then
Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss
do have a tough national guard to protect the country
in the event of invasion.

Bush held to his view. "No, no, it's Sweden that
has no army."

The room went silent, until someone changed the
subject.

A few weeks later, members of Congress and their
spouses gathered with administration officials and
other dignitaries for the White House Christmas party.
The president saw Lantos and grabbed him by the
shoulder. "You were right," he said, with bonhomie.
"Sweden does have an army."

This story was told to me by one of the senators
in the Oval Office that December day, Joe Biden.
Lantos, a liberal Democrat, would not comment about
it. In general, people who meet with Bush will not
discuss their encounters. (Lantos, through a
spokesman, says it is a longstanding policy of his not
to discuss Oval Office meetings.)

This is one key feature of the faith-based
presidency: open dialogue, based on facts, is not seen
as something of inherent value. It may, in fact,
create doubt, which undercuts faith. It could result
in a loss of confidence in the decision-maker and,
just as important, by the decision-maker. Nothing
could be more vital, whether staying on message with
the voters or the terrorists or a California
congressman in a meeting about one of the world's most
nagging problems. As Bush himself has said any number
of times on the campaign trail, "By remaining resolute
and firm and strong, this world will be peaceful."

He didn't always talk this way. A precious glimpse
of Bush, just as he was ascending to the presidency,
comes from Jim Wallis, a man with the added advantage
of having deep acuity about the struggles between fact
and faith. Wallis, an evangelical pastor who for 30
years has run the Sojourners - a progressive
organization of advocates for social justice - was
asked during the transition to help pull together a
diverse group of members of the clergy to talk about
faith and poverty with the new president-elect.

In December 2000, Bush sat in the classroom of a
Baptist church in Austin, Tex., with 30 or so clergy
members and asked, "How do I speak to the soul of the
nation?" He listened as each guest articulated a
vision of what might be. The afternoon hours passed.
No one wanted to leave. People rose from their chairs
and wandered the room, huddling in groups, conversing
passionately. In one cluster, Bush and Wallis talked
of their journeys.

"I've never lived around poor people," Wallis
remembers Bush saying. "I don't know what they think.
I really don't know what they think. I'm a white
Republican guy who doesn't get it. How do I get it?"

Wallis recalls replying, "You need to listen to
the poor and those who live and work with poor
people."

Bush called over his speechwriter, Michael Gerson,
and said, "I want you to hear this." A month later, an
almost identical line - "many in our country do not
know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those
who do" - ended up in the inaugural address.

That was an earlier Bush, one rather more open and
conversant, matching his impulsiveness with a can-do
attitude and seemingly unafraid of engaging with a
diverse group. The president has an array of
interpersonal gifts that fit well with this
fearlessness - a headlong, unalloyed quality, best
suited to ranging among different types of people,
searching for the outlines of what will take shape as
principles.

Yet this strong suit, an improvisational gift, has
long been forced to wrestle with its "left brain"
opposite - a struggle, across 30 years, with the
critical and analytical skills so prized in America's
professional class. In terms of intellectual
faculties, that has been the ongoing battle for this
talented man, first visible during the lackluster
years at Yale and five years of drift through his 20's
- a time when peers were busy building credentials in
law, business or medicine.

Biden, who early on became disenchanted with
Bush's grasp of foreign-policy issues and is among
John Kerry's closest Senate friends, has spent a lot
of time trying to size up the president. "Most
successful people are good at identifying, very early,
their strengths and weaknesses, at knowing
themselves," he told me not long ago. "For most of us
average Joes, that meant we've relied on strengths but
had to work on our weakness - to lift them to adequacy
- otherwise they might bring us down. I don't think
the president really had to do that, because he always
had someone there - his family or friends - to bail
him out. I don't think, on balance, that has served
him well for the moment he's in now as president. He
never seems to have worked on his weaknesses."

Bush has been called the C.E.O. president, but
that's just a catch phrase - he never ran anything of
consequence in the private sector. The M.B.A.
president would be more accurate: he did, after all,
graduate from Harvard Business School. And some who
have worked under him in the White House and know
about business have spotted a strange business-school
time warp. It's as if a 1975 graduate from H.B.S. -
one who had little chance to season theory with
practice during the past few decades of change in
corporate America - has simply been dropped into the
most challenging management job in the world.

One aspect of the H.B.S. method, with its emphasis
on problems of actual corporations, is sometimes
referred to as the "case cracker" problem. The case
studies are static, generally a snapshot of a troubled
company, frozen in time; the various "solutions"
students proffer, and then defend in class against
tough questioning, tend to have very short shelf
lives. They promote rigidity, inappropriate surety.
This is something H.B.S. graduates, most of whom land
at large or midsize firms, learn in their first few
years in business. They discover, often to their
surprise, that the world is dynamic, it flows and
changes, often for no good reason. The key is
flexibility, rather than sticking to your guns in a
debate, and constant reassessment of shifting
realities. In short, thoughtful second-guessing.

George W. Bush, who went off to Texas to be an oil
wildcatter, never had a chance to learn these lessons
about the power of nuanced, fact-based analysis. The
small oil companies he ran tended to lose money; much
of their value was as tax shelters. (The investors
were often friends of his father's.) Later, with the
Texas Rangers baseball team, he would act as an able
front man but never really as a boss.

Instead of learning the limitations of his Harvard
training, what George W. Bush learned instead during
these fitful years were lessons about faith and its
particular efficacy. It was in 1985, around the time
of his 39th birthday, George W. Bush says, that his
life took a sharp turn toward salvation. At that point
he was drinking, his marriage was on the rocks, his
career was listless. Several accounts have emerged
from those close to Bush about a faith "intervention"
of sorts at the Kennebunkport family compound that
year. Details vary, but here's the gist of what I
understand took place. George W., drunk at a party,
crudely insulted a friend of his mother's. George
senior and Barbara blew up. Words were exchanged along
the lines of something having to be done. George
senior, then the vice president, dialed up his friend,
Billy Graham, who came to the compound and spent
several days with George W. in probing exchanges and
walks on the beach. George W. was soon born again. He
stopped drinking, attended Bible study and wrestled
with issues of fervent faith. A man who was lost was
saved.

His marriage may have been repaired by the power
of faith, but faith was clearly having little impact
on his broken career. Faith heals the heart and the
spirit, but it doesn't do much for analytical skills.
In 1990, a few years after receiving salvation, Bush
was still bumping along. Much is apparent from one of
the few instances of disinterested testimony to come
from this period. It is the voice of David Rubenstein,
managing director and cofounder of the Carlyle Group,
the Washington-based investment firm that is one of
the town's most powerful institutions and a longtime
business home for the president's father. In 1989, the
catering division of Marriott was taken private and
established as Caterair by a group of Carlyle
investors. Several old-guard Republicans, including
the former Nixon aide Fred Malek, were involved.

Rubenstein described that time to a convention of
pension managers in Los Angeles last year, recalling
that Malek approached him and said: "There is a guy
who would like to be on the board. He's kind of down
on his luck a bit. Needs a job. . . . Needs some board
positions." Though Rubenstein didn't think George W.
Bush, then in his mid-40's, "added much value," he put
him on the Caterair board. "Came to all the meetings,"
Rubenstein told the conventioneers. "Told a lot of
jokes. Not that many clean ones. And after a while I
kind of said to him, after about three years: 'You
know, I'm not sure this is really for you. Maybe you
should do something else. Because I don't think you're
adding that much value to the board. You don't know
that much about the company.' He said: 'Well, I think
I'm getting out of this business anyway. And I don't
really like it that much. So I'm probably going to
resign from the board.' And I said thanks. Didn't
think I'd ever see him again."

Bush would soon officially resign from Caterair's
board. Around this time, Karl Rove set up meetings to
discuss Bush's possible candidacy for the governorship
of Texas. Six years after that, he was elected leader
of the free world and began "case cracking" on a
dizzying array of subjects, proffering his various
solutions, in both foreign and domestic affairs. But
the pointed "defend your position" queries - so
central to the H.B.S. method and rigorous analysis of
all kinds - were infrequent. Questioning a regional
supervisor or V.P. for planning is one thing.
Questioning the president of the United States is
another.

Still, some couldn't resist. As I reported in "The
Price of Loyalty," at the Bush administration's first
National Security Council meeting, Bush asked if
anyone had ever met Ariel Sharon. Some were uncertain
if it was a joke. It wasn't: Bush launched into a riff
about briefly meeting Sharon two years before, how he
wouldn't "go by past reputations when it comes to
Sharon. . . . I'm going to take him at face value,"
and how the United States should pull out of the
Arab-Israeli conflict because "I don't see much we can
do over there at this point." Colin Powell, for one,
seemed startled. This would reverse 30 years of policy
- since the Nixon administration - of American
engagement. Such a move would unleash Sharon, Powell
countered, and tear the delicate fabric of the Mideast
in ways that might be irreparable. Bush brushed aside
Powell's concerns impatiently. "Sometimes a show of
force by one side can really clarify things."

Such challenges - from either Powell or his
opposite number as the top official in domestic
policy, Paul O'Neill - were trials that Bush had less
and less patience for as the months passed. He made
that clear to his top lieutenants. Gradually, Bush
lost what Richard Perle, who would later head a
largely private-sector group under Bush called the
Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, had described
as his open posture during foreign-policy tutorials
prior to the 2000 campaign. ("He had the confidence to
ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much,"
Perle said.) By midyear 2001, a stand-and-deliver
rhythm was established. Meetings, large and small,
started to take on a scripted quality. Even then, the
circle around Bush was tightening. Top officials, from
cabinet members on down, were often told when they
would speak in Bush's presence, for how long and on
what topic. The president would listen without
betraying any reaction. Sometimes there would be
cross-discussions - Powell and Rumsfeld, for instance,
briefly parrying on an issue - but the president would
rarely prod anyone with direct, informed questions.

Each administration, over the course of a term, is
steadily shaped by its president, by his character,
personality and priorities. It is a process that
unfolds on many levels. There are, of course, a chief
executive's policies, which are executed by a staff
and attending bureaucracies. But a few months along,
officials, top to bottom, will also start to adopt the
boss's phraseology, his presumptions, his rhythms. If
a president fishes, people buy poles; if he expresses
displeasure, aides get busy finding evidence to
support the judgment. A staff channels the leader.

A cluster of particularly vivid qualities was
shaping George W. Bush's White House through the
summer of 2001: a disdain for contemplation or
deliberation, an embrace of decisiveness, a retreat
from empiricism, a sometimes bullying impatience with
doubters and even friendly questioners. Already Bush
was saying, Have faith in me and my decisions, and
you'll be rewarded. All through the White House,
people were channeling the boss. He didn't
second-guess himself; why should they?

Considering the trials that were soon to arrive,
it is easy to overlook what a difficult time this must
have been for George W. Bush. For nearly three
decades, he had sat in classrooms, and then at
mahogany tables in corporate suites, with little to
contribute. Then, as governor of Texas, he was graced
with a pliable enough bipartisan Legislature, and the
Legislature is where the real work in that state's
governance gets done. The Texas Legislature's tension
of opposites offered the structure of point and
counterpoint, which Bush could navigate effectively
with his strong, improvisational skills.

But the mahogany tables were now in the Situation
Room and in the large conference room adjacent to the
Oval Office. He guided a ruling party. Every issue
that entered that rarefied sanctum required a complex
decision, demanding focus, thoroughness and analytical
potency.

For the president, as Biden said, to be acutely
aware of his weaknesses - and to have to worry about
revealing uncertainty or need or confusion, even to
senior officials - must have presented an untenable
bind. By summer's end that first year, Vice President
Dick Cheney had stopped talking in meetings he
attended with Bush. They would talk privately, or at
their weekly lunch. The president was spending a lot
of time outside the White House, often at the ranch,
in the presence of only the most trustworthy
confidants. The circle around Bush is the tightest
around any president in the modern era, and "it's both
exclusive and exclusionary," Christopher DeMuth,
president of the American Enterprise Institute, the
neoconservative policy group, told me. "It's a too
tightly managed decision-making process. When they
make decisions, a very small number of people are in
the room, and it has a certain effect of constricting
the range of alternatives being offered."

On Sept. 11, 2001, the country watched intently to
see if and how Bush would lead. After a couple of days
in which he seemed shaky and uncertain, he emerged,
and the moment he began to lead - standing on the
World Trade Center's rubble with a bullhorn - for much
of America, any lingering doubts about his abilities
vanished. No one could afford doubt, not then. They
wanted action, and George W. Bush was ready, having
never felt the reasonable hesitations that slowed more
deliberative men, and many presidents, including his
father.

Within a few days of the attacks, Bush decided on
the invasion of Afghanistan and was barking orders.
His speech to the joint session of Congress on Sept.
20 will most likely be the greatest of his presidency.
He prayed for God's help. And many Americans, of all
faiths, prayed with him - or for him. It was simple
and nondenominational: a prayer that he'd be up to
this moment, so that he - and, by extension, we as a
country - would triumph in that dark hour.

This is where the faith-based presidency truly
takes shape. Faith, which for months had been coloring
the decision-making process and a host of political
tactics - think of his address to the nation on
stem-cell research - now began to guide events. It was
the most natural ascension: George W. Bush turning to
faith in his darkest moment and discovering a
wellspring of power and confidence.

Of course, the mandates of sound, sober analysis
didn't vanish. They never do. Ask any entrepreneur
with a blazing idea when, a few years along, the first
debt payments start coming due. Or the C.E.O., certain
that a high stock price affirms his sweeping vision,
until that neglected, flagging division cripples the
company. There's a startled look - how'd that happen?
In this case, the challenge of mobilizing the various
agencies of the United States government and making
certain that agreed-upon goals become demonstrable
outcomes grew exponentially.

Looking back at the months directly following
9/11, virtually every leading military analyst seems
to believe that rather than using Afghan proxies, we
should have used more American troops, deployed more
quickly, to pursue Osama bin Laden in the mountains of
Tora Bora. Many have also been critical of the
president's handling of Saudi Arabia, home to 15 of
the 19 hijackers; despite Bush's setting goals in the
so-called "financial war on terror," the Saudis failed
to cooperate with American officials in hunting for
the financial sources of terror. Still, the nation
wanted bold action and was delighted to get it. Bush's
approval rating approached 90 percent. Meanwhile, the
executive's balance between analysis and resolution,
between contemplation and action, was being tipped by
the pull of righteous faith.

It was during a press conference on Sept. 16, in
response to a question about homeland security efforts
infringing on civil rights, that Bush first used the
telltale word "crusade" in public. "This is a new kind
of - a new kind of evil," he said. "And we understand.
And the American people are beginning to understand.
This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a
while."

Muslims around the world were incensed. Two days
later, Ari Fleischer tried to perform damage control.
"I think what the president was saying was - had no
intended consequences for anybody, Muslim or
otherwise, other than to say that this is a broad
cause that he is calling on America and the nations
around the world to join." As to "any connotations
that would upset any of our partners, or anybody else
in the world, the president would regret if anything
like that was conveyed."

A few months later, on Feb. 1, 2002, Jim Wallis of
the Sojourners stood in the Roosevelt Room for the
introduction of Jim Towey as head of the president's
faith-based and community initiative. John DiIulio,
the original head, had left the job feeling that the
initiative was not about "compassionate conservatism,"
as originally promised, but rather a political
giveaway to the Christian right, a way to consolidate
and energize that part of the base.

Moments after the ceremony, Bush saw Wallis. He
bounded over and grabbed the cheeks of his face, one
in each hand, and squeezed. "Jim, how ya doin', how ya
doin'!" he exclaimed. Wallis was taken aback. Bush
excitedly said that his massage therapist had given
him Wallis's book, "Faith Works." His joy at seeing
Wallis, as Wallis and others remember it, was palpable
- a president, wrestling with faith and its role at a
time of peril, seeing that rare bird: an independent
counselor. Wallis recalls telling Bush he was doing
fine, "'but in the State of the Union address a few
days before, you said that unless we devote all our
energies, our focus, our resources on this war on
terrorism, we're going to lose.' I said, 'Mr.
President, if we don't devote our energy, our focus
and our time on also overcoming global poverty and
desperation, we will lose not only the war on poverty,
but we'll lose the war on terrorism."'

Bush replied that that was why America needed the
leadership of Wallis and other members of the clergy.

"No, Mr. President," Wallis says he told Bush, "We
need your leadership on this question, and all of us
will then commit to support you. Unless we drain the
swamp of injustice in which the mosquitoes of
terrorism breed, we'll never defeat the threat of
terrorism."

Bush looked quizzically at the minister, Wallis
recalls. They never spoke again after that.

"When I was first with Bush in Austin, what I saw
was a self-help Methodist, very open, seeking," Wallis
says now. "What I started to see at this point was the
man that would emerge over the next year - a messianic
American Calvinist. He doesn't want to hear from
anyone who doubts him."

But with a country crying out for intrepid
leadership, does a president have time to entertain
doubters? In a speech in Alaska two weeks later, Bush
again referred to the war on terror as a "crusade."

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an
article in Esquire that the White House didn't like
about Bush's former communications director, Karen
Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush.
He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then
he told me something that at the time I didn't fully
comprehend - but which I now believe gets to the very
heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we
call the reality-based community," which he defined as
people who "believe that solutions emerge from your
judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and
murmured something about enlightenment principles and
empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the
world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an
empire now, and when we act, we create our own
reality. And while you're studying that reality -
judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating
other new realities, which you can study too, and
that's how things will sort out. We're history's
actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just
study what we do."

Who besides guys like me are part of the
reality-based community? Many of the other elected
officials in Washington, it would seem. A group of
Democratic and Republican members of Congress were
called in to discuss Iraq sometime before the October
2002 vote authorizing Bush to move forward. A
Republican senator recently told Time Magazine that
the president walked in and said: "Look, I want your
vote. I'm not going to debate it with you." When one
of the senators began to ask a question, Bush snapped,
"Look, I'm not going to debate it with you."

The 9/11 commission did not directly address the
question of whether Bush exerted influence over the
intelligence community about the existence of weapons
of mass destruction. That question will be
investigated after the election, but if no tangible
evidence of undue pressure is found, few officials or
alumni of the administration whom I spoke to are
likely to be surprised. "If you operate in a certain
way - by saying this is how I want to justify what
I've already decided to do, and I don't care how you
pull it off - you guarantee that you'll get faulty,
one-sided information," Paul O'Neill, who was asked to
resign his post of treasury secretary in December
2002, said when we had dinner a few weeks ago. "You
don't have to issue an edict, or twist arms, or be
overt."

In a way, the president got what he wanted: a
National Intelligence Estimate on W.M.D. that
creatively marshaled a few thin facts, and then Colin
Powell putting his credibility on the line at the
United Nations in a show of faith. That was enough for
George W. Bush to press forward and invade Iraq. As he
told his quasi-memoirist, Bob Woodward, in "Plan of
Attack": "Going into this period, I was praying for
strength to do the Lord's will. . . . I'm surely not
going to justify the war based upon God. Understand
that. Nevertheless, in my case, I pray to be as good a
messenger of his will as possible."

Machiavelli's oft-cited line about the adequacy of
the perception of power prompts a question. Is the
appearance of confidence as important as its
possession? Can confidence - true confidence - be
willed? Or must it be earned?

George W. Bush, clearly, is one of history's great
confidence men. That is not meant in the huckster's
sense, though many critics claim that on the war in
Iraq, the economy and a few other matters he has
engaged in some manner of bait-and-switch. No, I mean
it in the sense that he's a believer in the power of
confidence. At a time when constituents are uneasy and
enemies are probing for weaknesses, he clearly feels
that unflinching confidence has an almost mystical
power. It can all but create reality.

Whether you can run the world on faith, it's clear
you can run one hell of a campaign on it.

George W. Bush and his team have constructed a
high-performance electoral engine. The soul of this
new machine is the support of millions of likely
voters, who judge his worth based on intangibles -
character, certainty, fortitude and godliness - rather
than on what he says or does. The deeper the darkness,
the brighter this filament of faith glows, a faith in
the president and the just God who affirms him.

The leader of the free world is clearly
comfortable with this calculus and artfully encourages
it. In the series of televised, carefully
choreographed "Ask President Bush" events with
supporters around the country, sessions filled with
prayers and blessings, one questioner recently summed
up the feelings of so many Christian conservatives,
the core of the Bush army. "I've voted Republican from
the very first time I could vote," said Gary Walby, a
retired jeweler from Destin, Fla., as he stood before
the president in a crowded college gym. "And I also
want to say this is the very first time that I have
felt that God was in the White House." Bush simply
said "thank you" as a wave of raucous applause rose
from the assembled.

Every few months, a report surfaces of the
president using strikingly Messianic language, only to
be dismissed by the White House. Three months ago, for
instance, in a private meeting with Amish farmers in
Lancaster County, Pa., Bush was reported to have said,
"I trust God speaks through me." In this ongoing game
of winks and nods, a White House spokesman denied the
president had specifically spoken those words, but
noted that "his faith helps him in his service to
people."

A recent Gallup Poll noted that 42 percent of
Americans identify themselves as evangelical or "born
again." While this group leans Republican, it includes
black urban churches and is far from monolithic. But
Bush clearly draws his most ardent supporters and
tireless workers from this group, many from a healthy
subset of approximately four million evangelicals who
didn't vote in 2000 - potential new arrivals to the
voting booth who could tip a close election or push a
tight contest toward a rout.

This signaling system - forceful, national,
varied, yet clean of the president's specific
fingerprint - carries enormous weight. Lincoln Chafee,
the moderate Republican senator from Rhode Island, has
broken with the president precisely over concerns
about the nature of Bush's certainty. "This issue," he
says, of Bush's "announcing that 'I carry the word of
God' is the key to the election. The president wants
to signal to the base with that message, but in the
swing states he does not."

Come to the hostings on Labor Day and meet the
base. In 2004, you know a candidate by his base, and
the Bush campaign is harnessing the might of churches,
with hordes of voters registering through
church-sponsored programs. Following the news of Bush
on his national tour in the week after the Republican
convention, you could sense how a faith-based
president campaigns: on a surf of prayer and righteous
rage.

Righteous rage - that's what Hardy Billington felt
when he heard about same-sex marriage possibly being
made legal in Massachusetts. "It made me upset and
disgusted, things going on in Massachusetts," the
52-year-old from Poplar Bluff, Mo., told me. "I
prayed, then I got to work." Billington spent $830 in
early July to put up a billboard on the edge of town.
It read: "I Support President Bush and the Men and
Women Fighting for Our Country. We Invite President
Bush to Visit Poplar Bluff." Soon Billington and his
friend David Hahn, a fundamentalist preacher, started
a petition drive. They gathered 10,000 signatures.
That fact eventually reached the White House
scheduling office.

By late afternoon on a cloudy Labor Day, with a
crowd of more than 20,000 assembled in a public park,
Billington stepped to the podium. "The largest group I
ever talked to I think was seven people, and I'm not
much of a talker," Billington, a shy man with three
kids and a couple of dozen rental properties that he
owns, told me several days later. "I've never been so
frightened."

But Billington said he "looked to God" and said
what was in his heart. "The United States is the
greatest country in the world," he told the rally.
"President Bush is the greatest president I have ever
known. I love my president. I love my country. And
more important, I love Jesus Christ."

The crowd went wild, and they went wild again when
the president finally arrived and gave his stump
speech. There were Bush's periodic stumbles and
gaffes, but for the followers of the faith-based
president, that was just fine. They got it - and "it"
was the faith.

And for those who don't get it? That was explained
to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior
media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting
firm and helps the president. He started by
challenging me. "You think he's an idiot, don't you?"
I said, no, I didn't. "No, you do, all of you do, up
and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks
in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue
you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2
to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy
working people who don't read The New York Times or
Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what
they like? They like the way he walks and the way he
points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith
in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his
jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know
what those folks don't like? They don't like you!" In
this instance, the final "you," of course, meant the
entire reality-based community.

The bond between Bush and his base is a bond of
mutual support. He supports them with his actions,
doing his level best to stand firm on wedge issues
like abortion and same-sex marriage while he
identifies evil in the world, at home and abroad. They
respond with fierce faith. The power of this
transaction is something that people, especially those
who are religious, tend to connect to their own lives.
If you have faith in someone, that person is filled
like a vessel. Your faith is the wind beneath his or
her wings. That person may well rise to the occasion
and surprise you: I had faith in you, and my faith was
rewarded. Or, I know you've been struggling, and I
need to pray harder.

Bush's speech that day in Poplar Bluff finished
with a mythic appeal: "For all Americans, these years
in our history will always stand apart," he said. "You
know, there are quiet times in the life of a nation
when little is expected of its leaders. This isn't one
of those times. This is a time that needs - when we
need firm resolve and clear vision and a deep faith in
the values that make us a great nation."

The life of the nation and the life of Bush
effortlessly merge - his fortitude, even in the face
of doubters, is that of the nation; his ordinariness,
like theirs, is heroic; his resolve, to whatever end,
will turn the wheel of history.

Remember, this is consent, informed by the heart
and by the spirit. In the end, Bush doesn't have to
say he's ordained by God. After a day of speeches by
Hardy Billington and others, it goes without saying.

"To me, I just believe God controls everything,
and God uses the president to keep evil down, to see
the darkness and protect this nation," Billington told
me, voicing an idea shared by millions of Bush
supporters. "Other people will not protect us. God
gives people choices to make. God gave us this
president to be the man to protect the nation at this
time."

But when the moment came in the V.I.P. tent to
shake Bush's hand, Billington remembered being
reserved. "'I really thank God that you're the
president' was all I told him." Bush, he recalled,
said, "Thank you."

"He knew what I meant," Billington said. "I
believe he's an instrument of God, but I have to be
careful about what I say, you know, in public."

Is there anyone in America who feels that John
Kerry is an instrument of God?

"I'm going to be real positive, while I keep my
foot on John Kerry's throat," George W. Bush said last
month at a confidential luncheon a block away from the
White House with a hundred or so of his most ardent,
longtime supporters, the so-called R.N.C. Regents.
This was a high-rolling crowd - at one time or
another, they had all given large contributions to
Bush or the Republican National Committee. Bush had
known many of them for years, and a number of them had
visited him at the ranch. It was a long way from
Poplar Bluff.

The Bush these supporters heard was a triumphal
Bush, actively beginning to plan his second term. It
is a second term, should it come to pass, that will
alter American life in many ways, if predictions that
Bush voiced at the luncheon come true.

He said emphatically that he expects the
Republicans will gain seats to expand their control of
the House and the Senate. According to notes provided
to me, and according to several guests at the lunch
who agreed to speak about what they heard, he said
that "Osama bin Laden would like to overthrow the
Saudis . . .

then we're in trouble. Because they have a weapon.
They have the oil." He said that there will be an
opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice shortly
after his inauguration, and perhaps three more
high-court vacancies during his second term.

"Won't that be amazing?" said Peter Stent, a
rancher and conservationist who attended the luncheon.
"Can you imagine? Four appointments!"

After his remarks, Bush opened it up for
questions, and someone asked what he's going to do
about energy policy with worldwide oil reserves
predicted to peak.

Bush said: "I'm going to push nuclear energy,
drilling in Alaska and clean coal. Some nuclear-fusion
technologies are interesting." He mentions energy from
"processing corn."

"I'm going to bring all this up in the debate, and
I'm going to push it," he said, and then tried out a
line. "Do you realize that ANWR [the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge] is the size of South Carolina, and
where we want to drill is the size of the Columbia
airport?"

The questions came from many directions -
respectful, but clearly reality-based. About the
deficits, he said he'd "spend whatever it takes to
protect our kids in Iraq," that "homeland security
cost more than I originally thought."

In response to a question, he talked about
diversity, saying that "hands down," he has the most
diverse senior staff in terms of both gender and race.
He recalled a meeting with Chancellor Gerhard Schroder
of Germany. "You know, I'm sitting there with Schroder
one day with Colin and Condi. And I'm thinking: What's
Schroder thinking?! He's sitting here with two blacks
and one's a woman."

But as the hour passed, Bush kept coming back to
the thing most on his mind: his second term.

"I'm going to come out strong after my swearing
in," Bush said, "with fundamental tax reform, tort
reform, privatizing of Social Security." The victories
he expects in November, he said, will give us "two
years, at least, until the next midterm. We have to
move quickly, because after that I'll be quacking like
a duck."

Joseph Gildenhorn, a top contributor who attended
the luncheon and has been invited to visit Bush at his
ranch, said later: "I've never seen the president so
ebullient. He was so confident. He feels so strongly
he will win." Yet one part of Bush's 60-odd-minute
free-form riff gave Gildenhorn - a board member of the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee and a former
ambassador to Switzerland - a moment's pause. The
president, listing priorities for his second term,
placed near the top of his agenda the expansion of
federal support for faith-based institutions. The
president talked at length about giving the initiative
the full measure of his devotion and said that
questions about separation of church and state were
not an issue.

Talk of the faith-based initiative, Gildenhorn
said, makes him "a little uneasy." Many conservative
evangelicals "feel they have a direct line from God,"
he said, and feel Bush is divinely chosen.

"I think he's religious, I think he's a
born-again, I don't think, though, that he feels that
he's been ordained by God to serve the country."
Gildenhorn paused, then said, "But you know, I really
haven't discussed it with him."

A regent I spoke to later and who asked not to be
identified told me: "I'm happy he's certain of victory
and that he's ready to burst forth into his second
term, but it all makes me a little nervous. There are
a lot of big things that he's planning to do
domestically, and who knows what countries we might
invade or what might happen in Iraq. But when it gets
complex, he seems to turn to prayer or God rather than
digging in and thinking things through. What's that
line? - the devil's in the details. If you don't go
after that devil, he'll come after you."

Bush grew into one of history's most forceful
leaders, his admirers will attest, by replacing
hesitation and reasonable doubt with faith and
clarity. Many more will surely tap this high-voltage
connection of fervent faith and bold action. In
politics, the saying goes, anything that works must be
repeated until it is replaced by something better. The
horizon seems clear of competitors.

Can the unfinished American experiment in
self-governance - sputtering on the watery fuel of
illusion and assertion - deal with something as
nuanced as the subtleties of one man's faith? What,
after all, is the nature of the particular
conversation the president feels he has with God - a
colloquy upon which the world now precariously turns?

That very issue is what Jim Wallis wishes he could
sit and talk about with George W. Bush. That's
impossible now, he says. He is no longer invited to
the White House.

"Faith can cut in so many ways," he said. "If
you're penitent and not triumphal, it can move us to
repentance and accountability and help us reach for
something higher than ourselves. That can be a
powerful thing, a thing that moves us beyond politics
as usual, like Martin Luther King did. But when it's
designed to certify our righteousness - that can be a
dangerous thing. Then it pushes self-criticism aside.
There's no reflection.

"Where people often get lost is on this very
point," he said after a moment of thought. "Real
faith, you see, leads us to deeper reflection and not
- not ever - to the thing we as humans so very much
want."

And what is that?

"Easy certainty."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ron Suskind was the senior national-affairs
reporter for The Wall Street Journal from 1993 to
2000. He is the author most recently of "The Price of
Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the
Education of Paul O'Neill."

http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/101704Y.shtml

Fahrenheit 9/11 Denied Cable Access
The Associated Press

Saturday 16 October 2004

New York - A cable pay-per-view company has
decided not to show a three-hour election eve special
with filmmaker Michael Moore that included a showing
of his documentary ``Fahrenheit 9/11,'' which is
sharply critical of President Bush.

The company, iN DEMAND, said Friday that its
decision is due to ``legitimate business and legal
concerns.'' A spokesman would not elaborate.

Moore has just released his movie on DVD and was
seeking a TV outlet for the film.

Earlier this week, trade publications said Moore
was close to a deal with iN DEMAND for ``The Michael
Moore Pre-Election Special,'' which also would include
interviews with politically active celebrities and
admonitions to vote. The Nov. 1 special was to be
available for $9.95.

Moore said Friday he signed a contract with the
company in early September and is considering legal
action. He said he believes iN DEMAND decided not to
air the film because of pressure from ``top Republican
people.''

``Apparently people have put pressure on them and
they've broken a contract,'' Moore told The Associated
Press.

``We've informed them of their legal
responsibility and we all informed them that every
corporate executive that has attempted to prohibit
Americans from seeing this film has failed,'' Moore
said. ``There's been one struggle or another over
this, but we've always come out on top because you
can't tell Americans they can't watch this.''

The New York-based iN DEMAND, owned by the Time
Warner, Cox and Comcast cable companies, makes
pay-per-view programming available in 28 million
homes, or about one-quarter of the nation's homes with
television.

In a statement, iN DEMAND said any legal action
Moore might take against the company would be
``entirely baseless and groundless.''

This spring, Moore did battle with the Walt Disney
Co., which refused to release ``Fahrenheit 9/11''
through its Miramax Films because it was too
politically partisan for the company's taste.

Moore found other distributors. The movie, which
attacks Bush's handling of the war on terrorists and
war in Iraq and the Bush family's ties to Saudi
royalty, earned more than $100 million at the box
office.

In an interview with a Maine television station
that aired this week, former President George H.W.
Bush called Moore a ``slimeball'' and an expletive.

Also Friday, Moore offered to let Sinclair
Broadcast Group Inc. air the movie for free. Such a
deal would like

Posted by richard at October 17, 2004 11:53 AM