Saturday, September 04, 2004

On the Meaning of Crusade

George and Ben

Democrat Says He Helped Bush Into Guard to Score Points
By Michael Dobbs
The Washington Post

Saturday 04 September 2004

A former senior politician from Texas has told close friends that he recommended George W. Bush for a pilot's slot in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War because he was eager to "collect chits" from an influential political family.

The reported comments by former Texas lieutenant governor Ben Barnes add fuel to a long-running controversy over how Bush got a slot in an outfit known as the "Champagne Unit" because it included so many sons of prominent Texans. Friends said that Barnes had recorded an interview for the CBS program "60 Minutes" that will address the question of whether Bush pulled strings to evade being sent to Vietnam.

Barnes, a longtime Democrat who works as a lobbyist and political consultant in Austin, has said that he is now "very ashamed" of helping "a lot of people who had family names of importance get in the National Guard." He made the statement during a meeting with John F. Kerry supporters in Austin on May 27, a video of which is now circulating on the Internet.

Friends said Barnes will expand on the remarks in his interview with "60 Minutes" while taking care not to contradict sworn testimony from 1999, in which he said that no member of the Bush family had directly asked him for help. Barnes was unavailable for comment yesterday.

The White House, which has been anticipating a Democratic counterattack on Bush's military record since a flurry of attacks on Kerry by former Vietnam War veterans funded by prominent Republican contributors, dismissed Barnes as a "partisan Democrat." In a CBS News interview last week, former president George H.W. Bush described charges that he used his influence to get his son into the National Guard as "a total lie."

According to a friend who has spoken with Barnes in recent days, Barnes is now willing to go public with a charge that he first made behind closed doors in September 1999, when he testified in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit brought by a former associate. In a sworn affidavit, Barnes testified that he had been approached by a longtime Bush family friend, Houston businessman Sidney Adger, for help in getting George W. Bush into the National Guard.

Barnes is now telling friends that he understood that Adger was making his request on behalf of the Bush family, even though Barnes has no memory of Adger explicitly saying he was. Barnes based his understanding on the knowledge that Adger was extremely close to the Bush family and Barnes's feeling that Adger would not have acted without the family's consent.

At the time, Barnes was speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and in close touch with the head of the Texas Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. James Rose. Adger and Rose are dead.

Barnes has told friends that he intervened with Rose to help a number of other prominent, young Texans into the National Guard. In addition to Bush, who was accepted for pilot training in May 1968, other recruits to the Texas National Guard during the late 1960s included the son of former Texas senator Lloyd M. Bentsen (D) and members of the Dallas Cowboys football team.

"I was collecting chits," Barnes told a friend, in explaining why he was willing to help Republicans as well as Democrats.

Lloyd M. Bentsen III, a Texas venture capitalist who joined the Guard at the same time as Bush, said that allegations of nepotism were ridiculous, at least in his case. He said that he applied for the post of accounting and finance officer in the unit, and was accepted on the basis of a master's degree in business administration from Stanford University.

"The short version of the story is that I heard there was an opening in the Guard, and I went and applied," he said. "I was obviously qualified. There were openings for officers, but there weren't openings for enlisted personnel."

Why Democrats Shouldn't Be Scared

USA Today

Friday 03 September 2004

NEW YORK - If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times from discouraged Democrats and liberals as the Republican convention here wrapped up this week. Their shoulders hunched, their eyes at a droop, they lower their voice to a whisper hoping that if they don't say it too loud it may not come true: "I...I...I think Bush is going to win."

Clearly, they're watching too much TV. Too much of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Zell Miller, Dick Cheney and Rudy Giuliani. Too much of swift boat veterans and Fox News commentators.

Action heroes always look good on TV. On Wednesday night, the GOP even made an action-hero video and showed it at the convention. There was White House political czar Karl Rove and other administration officials dressed up for "war" and going through boot camp on the National Mall in Washington.

I could only sit there in the convention hall and wish this were the real thing: Rove, national security adviser Condi Rice and Co. being sent to Iraq, and our boys and girls being brought home. But then the lights came up, and everyone sitting in the Bush family box was having a grand ol' hoot and a holler at the video they just saw.

For some reason, all of this has scared the bejabbers out of the Democrats. I can hear the wailing and moaning from Berkeley, Calif., to Cambridge, Mass. The frightening scenes from the convention have sent John Kerry's supporters looking for the shovels so they can dig their underground bunkers in preparation for another four years of the Dark Force.

I can't believe all of this whimpering and whining. Kerry has been ahead in many polls all summer long, but the Republicans come to New York for one week off-Broadway and suddenly everyone is dressed in mourning black and sitting shivah?

Exactly what moment was it during the convention that convinced them that the Republicans had now "connected" with the majority of Americans and that it was all over? Arnold praising Richard Nixon? Ooooh, that's a real crowd-pleaser. Elizabeth Dole decrying the removal of the Ten Commandments from a courthouse wall in Alabama? Yes, that's a big topic of conversation in the unemployment line in Akron, Ohio. Georgia Sen. Miller, a Democratic turncoat, looking like Freddy Krueger at an all-girls camp? His speech - and the look on what you could see of his strangely lit face - was enough for parents to send small children to their bedrooms.

My friends - and I include all Democrats, independents and recovering Republicans in this salutation - do not be afraid. Yes, the Bush Republicans huff and they puff, but they blow their own house down.

As many polls confirm, a majority of your fellow Americans believe in your agenda. They want stronger environmental laws, are strong supporters of women's rights, favor gun control and want the war in Iraq to end.

Rejoice. You're already more than halfway there when you have the public on board. Just imagine if you had to go out and do the work to convince the majority of Americans that women shouldn't be paid the same as men. All they ask is that you put up a candidate for president who believes in something and fights for those beliefs.

Is that too much to ask?

The Republicans have no idea how much harm they have done to themselves. They used to have a folk-hero mayor of New York named Rudy Giuliani. On 9/11, he went charging right into Ground Zero to see whom he could help save. Everyone loved Rudy because he seemed as though he was there to comfort all Americans, not just members of his own party.

But in his speech to the convention this week, he revised the history of that tragic day for partisan gain:

As chaos ensued, "spontaneously, I grabbed the arm of then-police commissioner Bernard Kerik and said to Bernie, 'Thank God George Bush is our president.' And I say it again tonight, 'Thank God George Bush is our president.' "


There were the sub-par entertainers nobody knew. There was the show of "Black Republicans," "Arab-American Republicans" and other minorities they trot out to show how much they are loved by groups their policies abuse.

And there were the Band-Aids. The worst display of how out of touch the Republicans are was those Purple Heart Band-Aids the delegates wore to mock Kerry over his war wounds, which, for them, did not spill the required amount of blood.

What they didn't seem to get is that watching at home might have been millions of war veterans feeling that they were being ridiculed by a bunch of rich Republicans who would never send their own offspring to die in Fallujah or Danang.

Kerry supporters and Bush-bashers should not despair. These Republicans have not made a permanent dent in Kerry's armor. The only person who can do that is John Kerry. And by coming out swinging as he did just minutes after Bush finished his speech Thursday night, Kerry proved he knows that the only way to win this fight is to fight - and fight hard.

He must realize that he faces Al Gore's fate only if he fails to stand up like the hero he is, only if he sits on the fence and keeps justifying his vote for the Iraq war instead of just saying, "Look, I was for it just like 70% of America until we learned the truth, and now I'm against it, like the majority of Americans are now."

Kerry needs to trust that his victory is only going to happen by inspiring the natural base of the Democratic Party - blacks, working people, women, the poor and young people. Women and people of color make up 62% of this country. That's a big majority. Give them a reason to come out on Nov. 2.


Jump to TO Features for Sunday September 5, 2004

Real Stories from Real Americans: A Plea for Help

By Spiros D - Baghdad
Straight Talk

Tuesday 31 August 2004

I am a soldier stationed in Iraq concerned about the role of private contractors in this war, and would like to ask for your help. How can you who are way over there help me way over here? Well, let me tell you how.

For those of you not aware, the US military is not the only US organization that is functioning over here in Iraq. A large US contractor called KBR (Kellog, Brown, and Root), a daughter company of Halliburton (once run by VP Dick Cheney), is operating on every US base in Iraq.

KBR manages many of the solider services that we have here on the base; things like running the food service, waste disposal, pumping the latrines, laundry services, movement and control, and the central distribution center. KBR is also scheduled to take over all fuel hauling and freight hauling in general. When things started to heat up earlier this year KBR put a hold on taking over hauling operations. Now that things are seeming to come back under some control KBR is looking at taking over again.

Now I know you are asking yourself what in the world this has to do with you.

Let me explain... KBR is now requesting, and the army is allowing, US soldiers to ride "shot gun" in KBR convoys hauling KBR goods all over Iraq. KBR is afraid to be out on the roads alone and want our US soldiers to risk their lives riding shot gun for their missions.

KBR is currently staffed by mainly non US international personnel along with a growing number of Iraqis. Most do not speak English, none have had military training on defensive driving, proper convoy operations, avoiding ambushes, navigating around IED's [hidden roadside bombs], proper procedure for calling in support or medivac or fire support, procedures to follow after taking enemy fire, the list goes on. These drivers are simply paid drivers that are making roughly 5 -8 times our wages and get paid whether the freight arrives or not.

KBR is requesting that US soldiers risk their lives at the hands of inexperienced and improperly trained individuals to provide them with security. Now there is no doubt that we need to protect KBR's missions but we have suggested and to date have been denied the opportunity to run the convoys with properly modified and equipped military vehicles.

We have suggested that we run in the convoys with every third vehicle being a US Army gun truck with proper drivers and fire support. With this arrangement KBR can still haul the freight in their vehicles but we would run the mission and deal with any situations as they develop the way we have been trained to. This is the only way that most of us want the missions to be run, the others are just afraid to be opposed to the decisions our leadership is making.

Here is where you come in. Out of a desire to honor the oath we took upon entering the army we do not want to disobey a direct order if and when the order comes for us to ride with KBR. We do however want to make all the lawmakers and politicians aware of the danger we are being unnecessarily exposed to on these missions.

Our hope is that each of our friends and loved ones back home will take a few minutes and send out emails to any local, state, and US congressman and senators and demand that they require the US military to stop this practice of allowing US troops in KBR vehicles.

The only ones who have the power to force the military to honor the wishes of the people are the lawmakers and politicians. So please take a moment and send a letter or email to one of your senators or congressman and ask or demand that they inquire into this matter and demand that it cease.

As of this writing, 3rd Platoon of the 283rd TC (my unit) is currently running these missions. We have been warned that it is only a matter of time and my whole unit will be running these missions. If nothing is done back home then more soldiers and myself in particular will be placed in unnecessary danger.

Please help.

Thank you for your time and help. I miss you all and look forward to seeing you all again upon my return.


NOTE: For additional on the ground stories from American servicemen and women, please check out

A Great LNG Website


Feds assert control over LNG terminal siting
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Staff Reporter
A two-fisted regulatory punch may have important ramifications for Alabama and all other coastal states when it comes to building liquefied natural gas terminals.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued official orders stating unequivocally that the federal government, not the states, has final say over where new LNG terminals can be built.

Also, a new bill in the U.S. House seeks to remove decision-making power regarding LNG terminals from the states.

Together, the regulatory moves may limit the impact of the intense local opposition that has thwarted a number of LNG proposals in the last two years on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts.

Only terminals proposed in heavily industrialized ports in Texas and Louisiana have received FERC permits since federal officials announced that LNG imports should become an important part of the nation's energy supply.

Some in Congress have said the permits issued by FERC over the last year may need to be reconsidered, because they were granted based on flawed federal safety studies that have since been discounted.

The new House bill reads "no State or local government may require a permit, license, concurrence, approval, certificate or other form of authorization with respect to the siting, construction, expansion or operation of a liquefied natural gas import terminal."

The bill was introduced by Rep. Lee Terry, R-Okla., who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Terry was quoted in Gas Daily, an oil industry trade publication, as saying that "parochial opposition and industry concerns about FERC regulation have delayed or derailed many" LNG projects.

Terry said his bill would speed federal review of LNG terminal proposals and better reassure LNG companies about the permit process. He told Oil Daily, another industry publication, that he is "trying to ride the line between giving more power to FERC without making them dictatorial and having them move without others' input."

Terry's bill does not contain any apparent mechanism that state officials could use to stop construction of an LNG terminal once FERC granted a permit.

FERC posted its new orders concerning "the State and Federal jurisdictional conflict" on the agency Web site. The controversy, according to a prepared statement from FERC, is "ripe for court litigation."

FERC's efforts to clarify its position stem from a simmering dispute between the agency and the California Public Utilities Commission.

California has challenged FERC's authority to site LNG terminals in the state, arguing that under California law, state permission is required to build such a facility.

"Regulatory authority for the siting and construction of liquefied natural gas import terminals rests exclusively with the federal government," reads an order issued by FERC in March that rebutted California's jurisdictional claims.

The order indicates that FERC will exert its siting authority even over the objections of states where terminals would be built.

"Provided that state and local representatives act under delegated federal authority ... and in a manner compatible with our policies and regulations, there will be no jurisdictional conflict. To the extent that state and local directives frustrate federal rights or requirements, federal provisions hold sway," reads a follow-up order issued by FERC on June 9. The order also says that states cannot "prohibit or unreasonably delay the construction of facilities approved by this Commission."

In January, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley employed a little-known provision of state law to block ExxonMobil Corp.'s proposed LNG terminal on Mobile Bay. He refused to allow ExxonMobil to use the "submerged lands" beneath Mobile Bay that are owned by the state until an independent safety study was conducted. The state claims that the company would need Alabama's permission to build a dock for LNG tankers on the underwater land.

ExxonMobil has yet to submit a permit application to FERC for the proposed terminal. If the company applies, FERC conceivably could consider Riley's action as an attempt to "prohibit or unreasonably delay" the project, based on its new orders.

Asked a general question about LNG permits in Alabama last week, a FERC official said the agency never received a permit application for a terminal in Alabama. The official did not wish to speculate on how the agency would view such an application.

When ExxonMobil announced its LNG project for Mobile Bay last summer, FERC, during public meetings, emphasized the importance of community involvement in the permitting process. But FERC's recent orders have led some to question the significance of the role that the public plays in the permitting process. For a terminal under consideration in the Long Beach, Calif., port, both the state and local community groups have been vocal in expressing concerns.

"It makes me wonder why FERC has stakeholder representation as part of the process at all. They came here and told us the public had a say," said Casi Callaway, director of the Mobile Bay Watch environmental group. "I think this is something that every legislator from city council person to federal senator should outright oppose, because if the public doesn't have a say in their own community, what is the purpose of having legislators?"

Asked for comment about the California developments and the House bill, U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, responded Friday that LNG safety is an important consideration, and people need the opportunity to comment and "get their questions answered regarding the safety issues."

He said in a statement that the current FERC process "guarantees this opportunity through numerous required public hearings and public comment periods."

"That said, some issues of national interest must be, and are, established as uniform national policies," Bonner said. "I think it is appropriate and responsible that siting of energy facilities remain in this category."

A spokesman for Sen. Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, said Thursday that the senator "continues to believe that community involvement is an essential part of the siting process for any LNG facility. Communities need to be assured that their citizens and their interests are protected."

Shelby previously expressed concern in letters to several federal agencies that federal officials were misusing science in an effort to site LNG terminals in places such as Mobile Bay.

In addition to the ExxonMobil proposal for a terminal just south of Mobile, Cheniere Energy has proposed a terminal just across the Mobile River from downtown Mobile. Officials with those companies say the proposals are on the back burner, but both companies still hold their land options and could apply for FERC permits at any time.

ConocoPhillips also announced its intention to build an offshore LNG terminal 11 miles south of Dauphin Island.

LNG terminals offload super-cooled, liquefied natural gas shipped from abroad. The gas is warmed, converted back to the familiar vaporous form used at power plants and in home appliances and injected into the nation's natural gas pipeline grid.

Terminals in Trinidad and in Skikda, Algeria, have experienced accidents in the last few months. The Algerian accident killed 27 people and destroyed equipment worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

LNG scientists say the proposals for terminals in populated areas, such as Mobile, pose a number of safety issues related to transporting tremendous quantities of highly flammable natural gas aboard ships.

Of particular concern to scientists is the possibility that terrorists could turn one of the tankers into an enormous fireball. In Boston, terror worries have prompted state officials to suspend all LNG shipments to a terminal in Boston Harbor late next month during the Democratic National Convention.

Shelby's December 2003 letter to federal agencies stemmed from Register reports quoting the author of a government safety study, who said his research was being misused by FERC and the U.S. Department of Energy.

"Recent comments from authors of at least one risk assessment currently in use indicate that this assessment is being used improperly by several government entities. I am troubled by this allegation and believe that the improper use of scientific papers anor documents does not provide the government or the community with a proper evaluation of the possible risks resulting from an LNG event," Shelby concluded in the letter.

In response to concerns about the misused study, FERC commissioned another study, released a month ago. The author of that study, conducted by Houston-based ABS Consulting, has acknowledged that his work contains several key flaws.

FERC has already used the ABS study in federal permitting documents for a terminal in Texas.

Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved.

Safety Considerations on LNG

LNG in California: Cause for Concern

More on Eastport LNG Terminal

Bangor Daily News - Print this Article

By Diana Graettinger, Of the NEWS Staff e-mail Diana
Last updated: Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Passamaquoddy opposed to LNG speak out

PLEASANT POINT - If the Passamaquoddy do not protect their land and traditional way of life, who will protect it for them?

That was the theme Monday discussed by opponents of a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal. An Oklahoma-based company hopes to build a $300 million natural gas terminal on tribal land.

The meeting was held at the home of Fredda and Leslie Paul. Fredda Paul began the meeting in the traditional way by preparing the smudging ceremony, a purification custom that the Passamaquoddy hold sacred.

Opponents fear that the community, which will vote on the issue today in a nonbinding referendum, may be seduced by dollar signs. The plan calls for yearly disbursements to individual tribal members. An LNG terminal could mean thousands of dollars in the pockets of the Passamaquoddy.

The only tribal governor to publicly oppose the plan is Hugh Akagi, chief of the New Brunswick band of the Passamaquoddy.

"My biggest problem about all of this is, number one, there's not a whole lot of information," he said. He said he had attended a meeting at Pleasant Point where questions were asked. "The message was there and it was very clear there were a lot of requests to take the referendum off the table," he said. He said he was disappointed when the Pleasant Point tribal leaders did not take that request to heart.

Akagi said he planned to ask tribal leaders to step back and reconsider their support of the plan. A few weeks ago tribal leaders voted 4-3 to place the issue before voters.

"I just need to make that phone call and ask if [delaying the vote] is possible, but I honestly do not believe I would have that kind of influence," he said. "But I would not mind making that phone call and ask if they would do something like that because to me it is respect."

Opponent Deanna Francis said tribal leaders, who should be listening to the people, have turned their backs on those voices. She said tribal elders and others have appealed to the council to delay the vote for one year to give members an opportunity to learn more about the proposed plan.

The LNG proposal already faces stiff competition from Canada.

Earlier this month, New Brunswick officials approved Irving Oil's plans for an LNG facility near Saint John. The proposed terminal would be at Mispec, a little more than an hour from Pleasant Point.

Nova Scotia moved one step closer to having its own LNG terminal after the province's Environment Department and the federal Fisheries Department approved a proposal by a company there to build a $415 million plant at Bear Head.

The numerous proposals would connect with the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, which carries natural gas from Sable Island off Nova Scotia through Maine and on to markets in the northeastern United States.

Tribal state Rep. Fred Moore said Monday the pipeline would be able to handle the three projects that are inching forward. "This pipeline is more than large enough to accommodate the quantity of gas that would come through. There are two scheduled for Nova Scotia, one for New Brunswick and Pleasant Point if they so decide to have one," he said. "The pipeline has the capacity to accommodate more."

Art MacKay, a biologist from St. Stephen, New Brunswick, talked about the pollution that for years has been so much a part of the Down East area because of the paper companies that are located upstream from the reservation. "He who poops upstream gets it down here," he told the small group. He urged the group to fight outside exploitation.

When Mike Collingsworth of Millinocket, who said he worked in the LNG industry, asked to speak in favor of natural gas, he was turned down. "I just came over here to offer my input to give a balanced perspective to this," he said. "I have seen these debates going on up and down the coast, and there doesn't seem to be a balanced perspective. It seems like it is all bashing the LNG industry."

After Collingsworth left, the group's second speaker, Lorin Hollander of Stockton Springs, talked about the problems attendant with an LNG terminal. He said security would have to be stepped up to protect tankers. He said in other communities where LNG terminals had been proposed it would have been up to the community to pay for security costs which he said would total around $80,000 per ship. "Will the tribe be prepared to pay for security?" he asked.

He also said that an LNG terminal would ruin opportunities to develop the county's ecotourism industry. "LNG can't compare," he said.

Moore, who did not attend the meeting, discounted Hollander's concerns. He said he did not believe Osama bin Laden was concerned about Washington County.

"If [ships] are going to be attacked, they won't be attacked here. LNG freighters are required to give notice to the U.S. Coast Guard 96 hours prior to their arrival in the port. They arrive under escort," he said.

Moore called demands for more information nothing more than a delaying tactic by opponents.

"Many tribal members are tired of hearing about it, and it is turning into information overload," he said. "No amount of information disseminated over the next few weeks will help anyone arrive at a decision other than what they have now."

LNG at Warp Speed

Developer ready to move on LNG
Monday, August23, 2004, 10:30 AM

PORTLAND (AP) - Maine's Passamaquoddy Indians have opened the door to construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal in the state.

And it's not a moment too soon for energy development partnership Quoddy Bay LLC, which hopes to build a terminal at Pleasant Point.

Four LNG terminals have been proposed in New England, and two in the Canadian Maritimes. Experts say there isn't enough demand to support all the proposed projects.

Quoddy Bay is racing against Irving Oil and Access Northeast Energy to be the first to get acess to the Maritimes and Northeast pipeline that serves New England.

Those two projects -- both in Canada -- are further along than Pleasant Point, and have recieved provincial environmental approvals.

But Quoddy Bay says its project is moving at "warp speed," and expects a definitive agreement with the Passamaquoddy will be ironed out within weeks.

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George W. Bush's Missing Year...Salon.Com

George W. Bush's missing year
The widow of a Bush family confidant says her husband gave the future president an Alabama Senate campaign job as a favor to his worried father. Did they see him do any National Guard service? "Good lord, no."

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Mary Jacoby

Sept. 2, 2004 | NEW YORK -- Before there was Karl Rove, Lee Atwater or even James Baker, the Bush family's political guru was a gregarious newspaper owner and campaign consultant from Midland, Texas, named Jimmy Allison. In the spring of 1972, George H.W. Bush phoned his friend and asked a favor: Could Allison find a place on the Senate campaign he was managing in Alabama for his troublesome eldest son, the 25-year-old George W. Bush?

"The impression I had was that Georgie was raising a lot of hell in Houston, getting in trouble and embarrassing the family, and they just really wanted to get him out of Houston and under Jimmy's wing," Allison's widow, Linda, told me. "And Jimmy said, 'Sure.' He was so loyal."

Linda Allison's story, never before published, contradicts the Bush campaign's assertion that George W. Bush transferred from the Texas Air National Guard to the Alabama National Guard in 1972 because he received an irresistible offer to gain high-level experience on the campaign of Bush family friend Winton "Red" Blount. In fact, according to what Allison says her late husband told her, the younger Bush had become a political liability for his father, who was then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, and the family wanted him out of Texas. "I think they wanted someone they trusted to keep an eye on him," Linda Allison said.

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After more than three decades of silence, Allison spoke with Salon over several days before and during the Republican National Convention this week -- motivated, as she acknowledged, by a complex mixture of emotions. They include pride in her late husband's accomplishments, a desire to see him remembered, and concern about the apparent double standard in Bush surrogates attacking John Kerry's Vietnam War record while ignoring the president's irresponsible conduct during the war. She also admits to bewilderment and hurt over the rupture her husband experienced in his friendship with George and Barbara Bush. To this day, Allison is unsure what caused the break, though she suspects it had something to do with her husband's opposition to the elder Bush becoming chairman of the Republican National Committee under President Nixon.

"Something happened that I don't know about. But I do know that Jimmy didn't expect it, and it broke his heart," she said, describing a ruthless side to the genial Bush clan of which few outsiders are aware.

Personal history aside, Allison's recollections of the young George Bush in Alabama in 1972 are relevant as a contrast to the medals for valor and bravery that Kerry won in Vietnam in the same era. An apparent front group for the Bush campaign, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, has attacked Kerry in television ads as a liar and traitor to veterans for later opposing a war that cost 58,000 American lives. Bush, who has resisted calls from former Vietnam War POW John McCain, R-Ariz., to repudiate the Swift Boat ads, has said he served honorably in the National Guard.

Allison's account corroborates a Washington Post investigation in February that found no credible witnesses to the service in the Alabama National Guard that Bush maintains he performed, despite a lack of documentary evidence. Asked if she'd ever seen Bush in a uniform, Allison said: "Good lord, no. I had no idea that the National Guard was involved in his life in any way." Allison also confirmed previously published accounts that Bush often showed up in the Blount campaign offices around noon, boasting about how much alcohol he had consumed the night before. (Bush has admitted that he was a heavy drinker in those years, but he has refused to say whether he also used drugs).

"After about a month I asked Jimmy what was Georgie's job, because I couldn't figure it out. I never saw him do anything. He told me it basically consisted of him contacting people who were impressed by his name and asking for contributions and support," Allison said.

C. Murphy Archibald, a nephew of Red Blount by marriage and a Vietnam veteran who volunteered on the campaign from September 1972 until election night, corroborated Allison's recollections, though he doesn't recall that the Bush name carried much cachet in Alabama at the time. "I say that because the scuttlebutt on the campaign was that Allison was very sharp and might actually be able to pull off this difficult race" against the incumbent Democrat, Sen. John Sparkman, Archibald said. "But then no one understood why he brought this young guy from Texas along. It was like, 'Who was this guy who comes in late and leaves early? And why would Jimmy Allison, who was so impressive, bring him on?'"

Bush, who had a paid slot as Allison's deputy in a campaign staffed largely by volunteers, sat in a little office next to Allison's, said Archibald, a workers compensation lawyer in Charlotte, N.C. Indeed, when Bush was actually there, he did make phone calls to county chairmen. But he neglected his other duty: the mundane but important task of mailing out campaign materials to the county campaign chairs. Archibald took up the slack, at Allison's request. "Jimmy didn't say anything about George. He just said, 'These materials are not getting out. It's causing the candidate problems. Will you take it over?'"

While Kerry earned a Silver Star and a Bronze Star after saving a crewmate's life under fire on the Mekong River in Vietnam, by contrast, the Georgie that Allison knew was a young man whose parents did not allow him to live with the consequences of his own mistakes. His powerful father -- whom the son seemed to both idolize and resent -- was a lifeline for Bush out of predicaments. After Bush graduated from Yale in 1968, his slot in the Texas Air National Guard allowed him to avoid active duty service in Vietnam. The former speaker of the Texas state House, Democrat Ben Barnes, now admits he pulled strings to get Bush his coveted guard slot, and says he's "ashamed" of the deed. "60 Minutes" will air an interview with Barnes next Wednesday, but George H.W. Bush denounced Barnes' claims in an interview aired on CBS. "They keep saying that and it's a lie, a total lie. Nobody's come up with any evidence, and yet it's repeated all the time," the former president said, in what could just as well describe the playbook for the Swift Boat Veterans ads.

Yet, after receiving unusual permission to transfer to the Alabama Guard from Texas, Bush has produced no evidence he showed up for service for anything other than a dental exam. Later, Bush would trade on his father's connections to enter the oil business, and when his ventures failed, trade on more connections to find investors to bail him out. Linda Allison's story fills in the details about a missing chapter in the story of how George Bush Sr.'s friends helped his wastrel son. The Bush campaign, decamped to New York for the convention, did not return a phone call by late Wednesday.

A graceful blonde with a Texas drawl, Linda Allison now lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in an apartment decorated in the dusky tones of Tuscany with a magnificent view of the high-rises framing Central Park. I visited her there Monday on the opening night of the Republican National Convention as she related publicly for the first time her long and ultimately painful history with the Bush family. On the table between us were two photographs of her late husband -- an elfin man with curly hair, shown in animated conversation. From her drawers she pulled out old letters and notes from Barbara Bush, George H.W. Bush and even one from George W. Bush, written to Jimmy in 1978 as he was dying of cancer.

Jimmy Allison's family owned the Midland Reporter-Telegram and other small-town newspapers, and they were part of the establishment in the West Texas oil town where Bush senior made his fortune and Bush junior grew up. Still, Allison has been almost completely forgotten in the semi-official stories of the Bush dynasty's rise; his role as political fixer and family friend has been airbrushed out of Barbara Bush's autobiography and other accounts. But he was one of the originators of what evolved into the GOP's "Southern strategy," helping George H.W. Bush win election to Congress in 1966 at a time when Republicans in Texas were virtually unheard of.

The Blount Senate campaign he ran against the Democrat, Sparkman, in 1972 was notable for a dirty racial trick: The Blount side edited a transcript of a radio interview Sparkman had given to make it appear he supported busing, a poison position at that time in the South. When Sparkman found an unedited script and exposed the trick, the Blount campaign was finished. But it was an early introduction for Bush to the kinds of tricks that later Republican strategists associated with the Bush political machine, from Lee Atwater to Karl Rove, would use against Democrats, often to victorious effect.

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After Bush won a House seat in 1966, Allison followed his patron to Washington as the top staffer in his congressional office and served as deputy director of the Republican National Committee in 1969 and 1970 under President Nixon. It was Allison who advised George W. Bush to return to Midland after Harvard Business School to seek his business fortune in the booming oil industry, advice that Bush recalled fondly in a 2001 speech in Midland. When Allison died at age 46, after an agonizing battle with lymphoma, both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush served as pallbearers.

"Aide, confidant, campaign manager, source of joke material, alter ego -- Allison and Bush were bonded by an uncommon loyalty," former Reagan White House deputy press secretary Peter Roussel, who got his start in politics when Allison invited him to work for Bush's 1968 congressional reelection campaign, wrote in a 1988 newspaper column dedicated to Allison.

Linda, too, had a long, though not as close, relationship with the Bushes. She remembers watching Bush in 1964 at a campaign appearance at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, when she was 32 years old and he was running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. "He was so appealing to me. He said all the things that I believed in, and he wasn't like all the other Republicans running in Texas at that time, who were real right-wingers. He had a bigger vision of what the Republican Party could be. I volunteered for his campaign that day, and that's how I ended up being his Dallas County headquarters chairman." Over the years, Linda kept volunteering with the local Republican Party. "And they gave me bigger and bigger things to do. They appreciated me. And I felt like I belonged to something," she said.

But it was also this sense of being connected to a larger, more powerful force that seduced the Allisons -- a trap that many aides and friends of important politicians fall into. The dynamic allowed the Bushes -- Barbara especially, Allison said -- to manipulate the friends and supporters they needed to further their ambitions, a lesson she says could not have been lost on the young George. "They had a way of anointing you, then pushing you out," she said. "It was like a mind game. It was very subtle, very hard to describe. But when you were out, you wanted desperately to be let back in." It was how she and Jimmy felt when, in 1973, they experienced a strange and, to Allison, never fully explained rupture with the Bushes, which took place against the backdrop of boorish behavior by their son that persisted during the time he was nominally under the Allisons' care.

The break happened not long after a boozy election-night wake for Blount, who lost his Senate bid to the incumbent Democrat, John Sparkman. Leaving the election-night "celebration," Allison remembers encountering George W. Bush in the parking lot, urinating on a car, and hearing later about how he'd yelled obscenities at police officers that night. Bush left a house he'd rented in Montgomery trashed -- the furniture broken, walls damaged and a chandelier destroyed, the Birmingham News reported in February. "He was just a rich kid who had no respect for other people's possessions," Mary Smith, a member of the family who rented the house, told the newspaper, adding that a bill sent to Bush for repairs was never paid. And a month later, in December, during a visit to his parents' home in Washington, Bush drunkenly challenged his father to go "mano a mano," as has often been reported.

Around the same time, for the 1972 Christmas holiday, the Allisons met up with the Bushes on vacation in Hobe Sound, Fla. Tension was still evident between Bush and his parents. Linda was a passenger in a car driven by Barbara Bush as they headed to lunch at the local beach club. Bush, who was 26 years old, got on a bicycle and rode in front of the car in a slow, serpentine manner, forcing his mother to crawl along. "He rode so slowly that he kept having to put his foot down to get his balance, and he kept in a weaving pattern so we couldn't get past," Allison recalled. "He was obviously furious with his mother about something, and she was furious at him, too."

Jimmy, meanwhile, had larger issues on his mind. According to Linda, he was hoping to use the visit in Florida to convince Bush to turn down the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee because he didn't trust Nixon or his palace guard. "He had been so appalled at the Ehrlichman, Haldeman, Colson group, and he thought they'd sacrifice George. He just wanted to warn him, as a friend," Allison told me.

Apparently, Jimmy Allison's advice was not appreciated. In Hobe Sound, Bush senior kept trying to avoid talking with Jimmy about the RNC, Allison said. Then later, as the Allisons took their leave, Barbara "thanked" them for their Christmas present with unexpected cruelty. "She said, 'I'm so sorry, but we've been so busy this year that we didn't have time to do anything for our political acquaintances.' I swear to God, I'll never forget those two words as long as I live. For her to say that was absolutely appalling. Mind you, Jimmy was an old, old friend. And I had stayed as a houseguest with the Bushes, been invited in my pajamas into their bedroom to read the papers and drink coffee while Bar rode her exercise bicycle.

"Big George was just stricken by this," Allison continued. "There was a wet bar in the hall on the way to the front door. He grabbed this moldy bottle of Mai Tai that he said had been given to him by the president of China, and he said we just had to have it. Then he plucked this ostrich egg in a beaded bag from a shelf that he said had been given to him by the ambassador to the U.N. from Nigeria or someplace, and gave it to us. Can you imagine how embarrassing that was?" (The alcohol was likely a bottle of Mao-Tai, a strong Chinese liquor.)

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The Allisons found they were no longer being invited to the Sunday cookouts the Bushes held to chew over the week's political events. And though Jimmy had once been deputy chairman of the RNC, when Bush chaired the committee, he "couldn't even get invited to a cocktail party there," Allison said. The freeze-out was subtle and surgical. "It took us some time to realize we'd been lopped off," she said. At home, the Allisons once decided to try that dusty bottle of Mao Tai from China that Bush had thrust into their hands in Hobe Sound. They were unable to drink the liquor. "It was so foul. The smell that came out of that thing! We just looked at each other," Allison said.

By 1978, Jimmy was dying. Whether out of guilt, genuine affection for old times or a desire to maintain appearances with a revered member of the Midland establishment, the Bushes responded with warmth. Jimmy's heart soared, Allison said.

George W. Bush, then running unsuccessfully for Congress, wrote his old mentor a letter. "Every person I see in Midland asks about you and sends their regards," Bush wrote. "Like a younger brother, I have treasured your advice, your guidance and most importantly your never selfish friendship." And shortly before he died, George H.W. Bush -– by then an executive at a bank in Houston after having served as head of the Central Intelligence Agency -– invited Jimmy back to his home. Elated, Jimmy persuaded the doctors to discharge him for the visit, Linda said. But Linda, who was not consulted, was incensed. Though she drove him to the Bushes, she refused to go in. "I was so furious. I had no way to take care of him. He was so weak, and they had taken him off the morphine, and he was in great pain," she said.

In a letter to the editor of Allison's newspaper in Midland after his death, Bush recalled that day: "He swam and relaxed. He was very weak but the warm water soothed him. He gave us hope. 'I'm going to make it,' he said."

But soon after Linda picked him up, Jimmy crashed. "He was in so much pain. It was unreal." At the emergency room, he waited 10 hours for medical attention. "I begged them to do something. I begged," she said, wiping tears from her eyes. "He was in so much pain. I was so angry." Jimmy died about a week later.

More than a quarter century later, George W. Bush is running for reelection as a "war" president. At the Republican Convention, delegates pass out Purple Heart stickers mocking Kerry's Vietnam wounds as "a self-inflicted scratch," and George H.W. Bush, speaking on CNN, lauds the Swift Boat Veterans' claims against Kerry as "rather compelling." Karl Rove tells the Associated Press that Kerry's opposition to a war that Bush avoided had served to "tarnish the records and service of people who were defending our country and fighting communism." Barbara Bush tells USA Today: "I die over every untruth that I hear about George -- I mean, every one."

Linda Allison watches it all from her New York apartment. About George W. Bush's disputed sojourn in Alabama, she asks simply: "Can we all be lying?"

James Wolcott on Zell Miller

Angry White Man Wigs Out
Posted by James Wolcott
The blue eyes of wrath. The gnarled hands gripping the air as if clutching a liberal in a lethal chokehold.

Zell Miller did not disappoint millions of disenfranchised Americans with Confederate flags decorating their basements when he delivered his rousing speech to the Republican National Convention last night.

His inner Bunsen burner was still ablaze when he hit the cable news shows afterwards to unlease additional Zellfire. There he met resistance. On CNN, Wolf Blitzer, in an apparent research mixup, asked actual reportorial questions regarding Miller's contradictory statements over the years regarding Kerry etc, and the old boy began babbling like Lionel Barrymore. Worse was to come on Hardball, where Miller had a complete cheddar cheese meltdown.

This raises a question. When did it become customary for speakers to give a speech and then make the rounds to be first responders to what they just said? It removes whatever dramatic punch the speech had to have the speaker participate in the postmortem cudchewing. It's much more Sinatrally powerful to have your say, take your applause, and then depart the stage and let the reaction unroll. Instead, politicians exit the stage to tour a series of smaller stages, spinning on their own behalf and annotating their own talking points, which become points of diminishing return.

Inviting Zell Miller to the Republican convention to give voice to lynch mobs who feel neglected by the Democratic Party will prove to be a prehistoric bonehead mistake and an early Christmas present of Schadenfreude to his former colleagues. I picture certain Democratic bigwigs reacting the way Brian Dennehy did in that wonderful made-for-TV docudrama about Three's Company as ABC chief Fred Silverman. Hearing the news of Suzanne Somers' latest contract tantrum, Dennehy's Freddie takes a rich puff on his cigar, smiles, and croons with satisfaction, "Not my problem anymore."

Zell Miller: Not our problem anymore.

P.S. Just now on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough described Miller's speech as a "barnburner," presumably intending a compliment. But any reader of Faulkner knows that there's few souls rottener than that of a barnburner, who leaves nothing in his wake than rage and destruction. In Faulkner Country, a barnburner is driven out of the county. In Bush Country, he's given a privileged timeslot.

09.02.04 11:22AM · LINK · Pings (4)

Bush Plans Could Raise U.S. Deficits

September 4, 2004
Bush Plans Could Raise U.S. Deficits

Resident Bush promised in his nomination acceptance speech to improve the lives of millions of Americans by expanding a variety of existing programs, but neither he nor his aides explained how they would pay for the proposals, some of which promised to accelerate the budget deficit over the next decade.

"We have cost estimates and those will be put forward in the coming weeks and months,'' said Trent Duffy, the deputy White House press secretary, declining to offer details. Whatever the costs, the proposals would not go to Congress for approval until February or March, when the presidential budget for the 2006 fiscal year is published. That year begins 13 months from now.

Congress has not approved a budget for the fiscal year 2005, which starts in three and a half weeks. Mr. Bush proposed spending increases in that budget, but last spring the Office of Management and Budget instructed federal offices and agencies to cut spending in the requests they submitted for the 2006 budget.

"We can't tell whether the president is now reversing course and actually planning to devote more resources to the areas mentioned in his speech,'' said Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "or whether he will remain with temporary increases now to be followed by substantial cuts in such areas as education and job training.''

In his speech Thursday night, Mr. Bush said he would expand job training programs "to help workers take advantage of the expanding economy to find better and higher-paying jobs.''

That would be a shift in policy: During the Bush years, money for a central part of the program, the retraining of millions of laid-off workers, has remained essentially unchanged at about $4 billion annually.

The most expensive proposals offered tax breaks for three types of savings accounts and various tax credits for health care. These would add roughly $50 billion to $100 billion to the $2.4 trillion in tax cuts now projected over the next decade, Mr. Greenstein estimated. But the trend would continue to be toward sheltering the income of wealthy people and putting more of the tax burden on wage earners.

During the Bush years, the tax rate on wages and on income from investments has declined, but the decline for investment income is roughly 4 percentage points while that for workers is 2 points, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.

"Some of the president's proposals at the Republican convention may not have immediate fiscal effects, but they are radical changes in the system of taxation that we have,'' said Peter Orszag, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a special assistant on economic policy in the Clinton administration.

The Bush administration, in a second term, would provide tax incentives to set up three types of savings accounts. A health savings account would encourage people to pay for their own health care out of these accounts, though the estimated tax breaks would be less than the actual average cost of health care, according to most estimates.

A new retirement savings account would in effect replace traditional I.R.A.'s. And a lifetime savings account would shelter up to $7,500 a year for each individual in a household, or $30,000 for a family of four. The savings and interest could be withdrawn at any time tax-free.

The retirement accounts might raise revenue initially, Mr. Greenstein said, as people cash out I.R.A.'s and switch the funds to the new accounts. New money going into these accounts would not be deductible and tax revenue would also rise as a result. But none of the earnings would be taxable and that would cut into tax revenue in later years. As for lifetime savings accounts, the accumulated tax savings for a wealthy family putting $30,000 a year into these accounts would increasingly shift the tax burden to wage earners, according to critics.

Concerning education, Mr. Bush said he would increase testing and reward teachers when their students do well, a proposal that Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, has also made. In particular, the president proposed spending $250 million more to require more statewide exams in reading and math and $200 million to monitor the progress of incoming high school students.

The increase would be significantly more than what the administration has requested in recent years, though experts deemed it far short of what it would take to conduct more standardized tests nationwide.

"It seemed like the right rhetoric, but not the right solution," said Keith Gayler, associate director for the Center on Education Policy, which generally supports testing. "This seems woefully underfunded and if it is not well funded, it will probably cause more harm than good."

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