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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Saturday, 28 August 2004

Topic: Couldn't be so...

News Cycles: Friday Afternoon Follies

Why does the interesting news break late Friday afternoon after the press put their Saturday newspapers to bed and the nightly newscasts were over, and the weekend television programming turns to sports? Sometimes if you have bad news you hold release of it for the least possible exposure. Maybe no one will notice. Then too, sometimes life just doesn't follow the news cycle.

Bush and the Texas Air National Guard

Is Ben Barnes, the former Speaker of the House in Texas, the person who got President Bush into the Texas Air National Guard? Late Friday a video clip [Windows Media] started going around, and the wire services started picking it up.

If you have a slow connection or cannot stream the video, Barnes says this -
Let's talk a minute about John Kerry and George Bush and I know them both. And I'm not namedropping to say I know `em both. I got a young man named George W. Bush in the National Guard when I was Lt. Gov. of Texas and I'm not necessarily proud of that. But I did it. And I got a lot of other people into the National Guard because I thought that was what people should do, when you're in office you helped a lot of rich people. And I walked through the Vietnam Memorial the other day and I looked at the names of the people that died in Vietnam and I became more ashamed of myself than I have ever been because it was the worst thing that I did was that I helped a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get into the National Guard and I'm very sorry about that and I'm very ashamed and I apologize to you as voters of Texas.
Oh man, this is trouble

Jeff Horwitz adds this -
Barnes then condemned the Republican attacks on John Kerry's war service: "And I tell you that for the Republicans to jump on John Kerry and say that he is not a patriot after he went to Vietnam and was shot at and fought for our freedom and came back here and protested against the war, he's a flip-flopper, let me tell you: John Kerry is a 100 times better patriot than George Bush or Dick Cheney."

The video of Barnes was filmed by Todd Phelan and Mike Nicholson, organizers of a political group called Austin4Kerry. Phelan is currently an organizer for the Travis County Democrats. The video first appeared on the Austin4Kerry Web site on June 25, but was widely overlooked until Friday. The video also includes a separate interview conducted by the same two filmmakers in which Barnes speaks with admiration about Kerry's valor.

Phelan and Nicholson recall they were surprised by the candor of Barnes' remarks while they were filming him at the rally. "To be honest with you, my eyes lit up instantaneously," Phelan told Salon. "I looked at Mike, he looked at me, and it was like 'Did he just say that?'"
Yep, he did.

But is he lying? Did he help a rich white kid take the coward's way out of fighting in a war the kid said he totally supported? We shall see if this is so.

Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, wants the facts.
I'd like to hear him give some details as to how he did that. Who approached him? Is there evidence that George W Bush was aware it was happening? Was his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, demonstrably aware? What strings did Barnes have to pull?
Yep, Rick has the instincts of a newsman. This is just one guy saying he did this, and a lifelong Democrat at that. He is not happy with the younger Bush, but is he making this all up?

Did the younger Bush receive special favors? As noted here by James C. Moore, the fellow who wrote "Bush's Brain" - the recent book about Karl Rove - the answer from Bush is no, and Moore provides a direct quote from Bush: "I certainly didn't ask for any. And I'm sure my father didn't either. They just had an opening for a pilot and I was there at the right time."

If Barnes is telling the truth? Bush can always say he had no idea Barnes did anything. Bush will say he didn't ask for any favors, nor did his father. Barnes must have been freelancing or something.

If Barnes is lying? Well then Bush looks good. Some guys are just lucky, as I'm sure you understand.


More interesting is the Friday late-breaking news that someone high up in Douglas Feith's office at the Pentagon has been feeding Israel top-secret planning documents and got caught. CBS broke the story late in the afternoon, Pacific Time.

The most detailed version of this mess is here, from an investigative reporter who has been working this story for many months and was going to publish soon - but got blindsided.

Of course this Isreali-mole-in-the-Pentagon expos? confirms everything the Muslim world knows, or think they know. This won't play well in all the capitals from Amman to Cairo to Islamabad. We are, it seems, really the Likud Party West and Israel is the fifty-first state. More fodder of the evil-doers who hate us. The only word is, for now, a "high level official" turns out to be a spy for Israel, and Sharon has had all our planning documents and details of our military array for some time. The word going around this is an employee at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, one Larry Franklin, reporting up through Douglas Feith to Rumsfeld. My money would have on Richard Perle, the former head advisor to Rumsfeld. Perle ran the Jerusalem Post for Conrad Black, and Perle was the chief advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu way back when. Oh well. The story will play out early next week, and it may have to do with how the US and Israel plan to deal with Iran and its nuclear threat - bomb them, or invade and occupy the place, or fund a coup? Whatever.

Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, adds this -
I do hope we nail and jail whoever is responsible. (Remember Jonathan Pollard? Is my recollection correct that Clinton would not pardon him during the mid east talks, nor would he as he left office?)

If Bush takes this lightly, which may help him in Israel and certain segments of the American Jewish community, it will definitely further hurt America's image around the world - which, of course, this crowd has heretofore not given a flying fart.
And as I said to Ric, yes, Pollard is still in jail. Clinton wouldn't let him out. And Israel is still protesting his sentence. And by the way, all polling I've seen shows Bush is not getting any more of the Jewish vote than he ever got - which is not much. Kissing Sharon's ass these last three years hasn't moved the figures at all. It must be frustrating.

As for America's image around the world, these guys prove they're tough by ticking off the number of former allies who are appalled and scornful of what we now do or say - their objections are a badge of honor.

This just gets more interesting all the time.

Posted by Alan at 12:38 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

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