Friday, February 27, 2004

The March For Women's Lives

I received an email from NARAL asking for my support of the March For Women's Lives to be held in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2004.

I love these big marches on Washington. It is amazing to see so many people gather to fight for an issue. The media shows its right-wing bias during these marches, and always has used these events to diminish the importance of social change.

When an unpopular group marches, the national Park Service reduces their estimate of the numbers so that it appears that the demonstrators are so far out of the norm that they should be ignored. Then the media happily obliges them by printing the untruths. "25,000 Homosexuals March On Washington" read a headline after the first gay march. They might as well have said "Eleven Fags Disrupt Traffic," which is what you know Reagan wanted them to publish at the time. I was there. I know there were more than 25,000 because the organizers use the same equation as the National Park Service to estimate the size of the crowd. There were more than 25,000 people there!

The mail I received from NARAL was actually a letter from Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. Richards was one of my favorite politicians of the 1980s. She was loud and aggressive and sassy and liberal, a spectacular combination that has gone the way of bell-bottoms and common sense. Richards wrote:

"On April 25th, every major organization in the nation that works on behalf of a woman's right to choose when or whether to bear children, will march in Washington, D.C. Initially, I was reluctant to go. I thought, "been there, done that"... "time for the next generation to take up the battle"... etc.

Then I watched "Iron Jawed Angels", the HBO movie about the women's suffrage movement, and I was so moved by the tenacity and commitment of those women that I realized that I have not been doing enough in recent years for the Choice cause. Sure, I have written checks and made a few speeches... but I have not REALLY been fighting.

We cannot allow ourselves to think that we can rest: we must continue fighting for the rights of women, and we must be in Washington, D.C. on April 25th. Please put it on your calendar. Make hotel and plane reservations now. This is a crucial year for women. Our rights and freedoms are under attack as never before. Pass on this email or your own message to your email list. I will see you at the March on April 25th. --Ann"

I think she hits the nail on the head when she admits her reluctance and rationalizes why she needn't participate. As we get older, it is easier to become complacent. As we earn more money, it is easy to get sedated by sloth. The problem is: if we don't do something about the problems, who will?!?!?!

Abortion is a very difficult issue, it is the most divisive issue in our culture. The right-, er wrong-wing wants the argument to be: "If you are not against abortion, you are for abortion." That is patently absurd. I don't know anybody who is FOR abortion, or wants to promote abortion. So what is the argument? What are the ground rules for the debate?

I am a man, so it is very easy for me to have a position on abortion because I can't get pregnant. My position is a typical noble stance taken by someone who cannot really be directly impacted by the legal battle: "If I were a woman, it is unlikely I would choose an abortion; but, I think everybody should be able to decide for themselves." I am pro-choice.

I think people should make their own choices: tattoos, private schools, marriage, piercings, diet, botox, fundamentalism, plastic surgery, MTV, termination of unwanted pregnancy . . . these are all decisions we live with and we should each be allowed to make those decisions without interference from the government. It sounds crass and insensitive to have compared pregnancy to botox, and I don't mean to sound that way; but, I think we lose focus when the argument is presented as "If you are not against abortion, you are for abortion."

The argument is really: "If you are against abortion, don't have one."

I hope a million women march to Washington in April. It might be cold and wet, and it's possible the police could attack the crowd, but I hope people will join Ann Richards in this battle.

Please consider helping to defend reproductive rights by being more vocal about it, by supporting NARAL, and by marching on Washington in April.

The links below provide more information.

Remember, the argument is: "If you are against abortion, don't have one."


Explanation of the Women's March

NARAL Pro-Choice America

News about the March

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Here they go again!

The fundamentalists controlling the White House and the federal courts think the next patriotic mission of the Bush administration is to put forth a constitutional amendment that will guarantee an unpopular segment of the American citizenry will be denied equal protection under the law. Of course, as any thinking person knows, it is unconstitutional to pass a law that specifically denies equal protection to any particular group. Fundamentalists, however, don't pay any attention to actual law or facts, they play to your emotions.

If they convince you that athletes on steroids and Janet Jackson's breast are really what is important, then you won't think the illegal use of our armed forces for the procurement of oil reserves, and fraudulent plans to remove Americans' voices from the governing of their nation is the REAL problem.

Instead of discussing the failure of deregulation, and grand larceny committed by big money donors to the G.O.P., the president wants you to agree to pass a constitutional amendment making it illegal for homosexuals to marry.

Why marriage is defined by law is an important question in the first place. Marriage is a religious event, and should not be controlled by the government; and if the government doesn't want to allow everyone to marry, they should get out of the marriage business altogether.

Of course, the government wants to play some role in marriage, so they should follow the Constitution and guarantee the privilege of marriage for all citizens.

People for the American Way (an organization for those who use their brains for thinking) are publishing an online petition that reads:

"We, the undersigned, strongly oppose the adoption of an amendment to the Constitution that would require discrimination against any specific group of Americans. The Federal Marriage Amendment is a betrayal of the American principles of equality and fairness. We oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment."

People for the American Way is a very good organization. Fundamentalism is very bad. There is nothing good about fundamentalists. All fundamentalists, including the current president of the United States and the Ayatollahs in Iran, are the most evil people on the planet. You must speak out against them and all theocratic movements.

Please click the link to sign the petition:


Wednesday, February 25, 2004


A friend sent this list of anecdotes. I read them and laughed.

I was signing the receipt for my credit card purchase when the clerk noticed I had never signed my name on the back of the credit card. She informed me that she could not complete the transaction unless the card was signed. When I asked why, she explained that it was necessary to compare the signature I had just signed on the receipt. So I signed the credit card in front of her. She carefully compared the signature to the one I had just signed on the receipt. As luck would have it, they matched.

I live in a semi rural area. We recently had a new neighbor call the local township administrative office to request the removal of the Deer Crossing sign on our road. The reason: "too many deer were being hit by cars" and he didn't want them to cross there anymore.

My daughter went to a local Taco Bell and ordered a taco. She asked the person behind the counter for minimal lettuce." He said he was sorry, but they only had iceberg.

I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked, "Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?" To which I replied, "If it was without my knowledge, how would I know? " He smiled knowingly and nodded, "That's why we ask."

The stop light on the corner buzzes when it's safe to cross the street. I was crossing with an intellectually challenged coworker of mine when she asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red. Appalled, she responded, "What on earth are blind people doing driving?"

I work with an individual who plugged her power strip back into itself and for the life of her couldn't understand why her system would not turn on.

When my husband and I arrived at an automobile dealership to pick up our car, we were told the keys had been locked in it. We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver's side door. As I watched from the passenger side, I instinctively tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked.
"Hey," I announced to the technician, "It's open!"
To which he replied, "I know - I already got that side."

Remember to laugh and smile today!

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Lost Again!

Well, I don't really ever get lost. I have never been lost on the New York Subway System. Did you know that the MTA provides a page about How to Ride the subway?

The D replaces the W in Brooklyn was one of the phrases used to promote the restoration of subway service over the Manhattan Bridge beginning last Sunday. The MTA went to great lengths to advertise the service change, and they did a good job.

In 2001 the causeway on the bridge was repaired to upgrade the subway tracks. Three of the lines on Sixth Avenue (B, D, Q) were dramatically changed during the reconstruction, and two lines (V, W) were created to accommodate transit needs between Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.

I was living and working in Manhattan and London during that time, so the changes had nominal impact on my travels. The B and D were the Sixth Avenue Express lines so it was odd to have lost them, but it was always said that the service would return in 2004. Now that service is restored, I no longer live on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, but the Sixth Avenue lines get me to my new address in Brooklyn.

I was excited by the publicity that The D replaces the W in Brooklyn because it meant an express train out of Manhattan! I would be able to skip stops and switch from the D Express to the F Local at 4th Avenue/Ninth Street. The D replaces the W in Brooklyn, hooray!

After work, I got on the D at 47-50 Streets at 6:19 PM. I was thrilled when we skipped 23rd and 14th Streets, and even happier when the train ran from Grand Street right over the Manhattan Bridge to Pacific Street! Even though that stretch took an ungodly and unnecessary 15 minutes while crawling over the bridge, we were still making great time and I had a seat the whole ride -- everyone had a seat. I was reading an article on my PalmPilot about Kevin Keegan's happiness with Robbie Fowler following City's 3-1 defeat of Bolton over the weekend and I really paid no mind when the conductor's voice announced 36th Street as the next stop.

Oh no! The doors were already closing when I realized the D would not stop at Ninth Street for me to switch to the 4th Avenue F stop! It seems The D replaces the W in Brooklyn is not completely accurate, because the W ran local in Brooklyn and the D runs Express in Brooklyn! This is the old N train route.

I detrained at 36th Street, walked the length of the platform and crossed over to get the R three stops back to Ninth Street where I could climb the stairs to await the arrival of the F on the 4th Avenue platform. The R and the F both arrived promptly, but the excitement of a new route home was destroyed. There will be no simple Express train to and from work for me.

I got to my final stop at 7:06 P.M., which meant my normal 35 minute ride on the local train took 47 minutes using a combination of express and local trains.

"The D replaces the W in Brooklyn" is a lie! The D replaces the W in Manhattan and the N in Brooklyn and ends at the old W Terminal in Coney Island is more accurate. I checked the online subway maps and the D will only stop at Ninth Street late at night. One should read the fine print! (Please, God, do not let me ever have to be on the D late at night!)

Maybe I will try the D to the R at Pacific Street to the F at Ninth Street. The D train did have empty seats . . .


Monday, February 23, 2004

Ralph Nader Is An Ass

I have yet to forgive Ralph Nader and Michael Moore for electing George Bush president in 2000. Both of them are rich white guys who had nothing to lose in that effort. In fact, with Bush as president, they are likely both wealthier today than they were when Clinton left office because of the benefits Bush provides to men in their economic bracket.

I believe that Nader's votes in New Hampshire and Florida, with the support of Moore's millions, are the reason that Al Gore did not win the election. Had Nader's votes in either of those states gone to Gore, Bush would have had a harder time stealing the office.

I understand why he ran last time, and I was caught-up in the excitement for a short time, even writing an article about the excitement of his candidacy. During the campaign, I saw the folly of his candidacy and voted how I have always voted: Democrat.

Now Nader is telling the rich man's lie again: There is too little difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. This is only true for privileged people. If you have to actually work for a living, or God-forbid you should fall on hard times and need a helping hand, there is a huge difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.

The Democrats are very interested in ensuring that all Americans, rich and poor, get a fair shake. The Republicans don't care if there is a safety net for hard-working, honest Americans; they are only interested in ensuring that your tax dollars are funneled to the rich.

The rich don't need a helping hand, but if Ralph Nader gets his way, the Republicans will bring us another four years of christian fundamentalists whose only goal is to eliminate public service, deregulate all industries, and close the doors of justice to those with whom they disagree. Thanks, Ralph!

Ralph Nader was a hero of my generation. He changed the relationship of consumer to manufacturer, without destroying the economy. He changed the way consumers thought about products and the way manufacturers thought about consumers. He is one of the most important figures of the last century!

Ralph Nader is destroying his own legacy. Ralph Nader is the man who is ensuring that fundamentalists are kept in power another four years. I now forget all the good he did over the past forty years, while I watch him help elect men who are undoing all his work! Nobody will ever remember that he forced the hand of the automobile industry and we are safer for it. He will be remembered as the man who ensured that christian fundamentalism is crammed down the throats of our children for decades to come.

You're an ass, Ralph Nader. I hope you live a long, long, long life with your white man's privilege and all your millions, watching these men dismantle your legacy and erase you from history. You are an embarrassment to America and yourself.

AP Report

Reuters Report

AFP Report

Ralph Don't Run

Friday, February 20, 2004

Paintings And Phone Calls

Pears by Roger Swan, Oil on Canvas

This is one of my favorite paintings. As the light in the room changes, the pears change shape and color. This photograph does not do it justice!

Sometimes the phone rings and we don't like what we hear.

Sometimes we receive phone calls that cause a complete change of plans for a day or a week or a month or a lifetime.

Sometimes we make phone calls for reservations and arrangements we'd rather not make.

Sometimes a phone call changes everything.

Sometimes I just like to look at paintings.


Thursday, February 19, 2004

Wal-Mart Nation: the race to the bottom, by Floyd J. McKay

This article was sent to me by a friend in Seattle, and I thought it worthy of blogging (without permission, for which I beg forgiveness from The Times and Mr. McKay).

The common wisdom (or lack of wisdom) is that big business is good for America. We are told that deregulation will make for a more competitive marketplace. We are told that tax cuts for the super-rich will create more and better jobs. Of course, what has happened is that deregulation has brought conglomeration and sky-rocketing prices, while the super-rich are moving all the jobs off-shore to increase their profits that are now barely taxed. This is Reaganomics at its finest and it is destroying what is left of capitalism.

I have never shopped at a Wal-Mart and I hope to never have to do so. Wal-Mart represents everything that is wrong with post-Reagan capitalism; and when we shop there we tell the world that we support Wal-Mart's practices. Please consider a boycott of Wal-Mart and support your locally-owned businesses.

Wal-Mart nation: the race to the bottom
By Floyd J. McKay

Special to The (Seattle) Times

Los Angeles is not my kind of town. But the Angelinos are about to take a stand that ought to be applauded across the country.

That stand is to say "no" to a Wal-Mart "supercenter" that the retailing giant hopes to open in the city.

These superstores are not your father's Wal-Mart; they are monstrous, sprawling over some 25 acres and employing up to 600 workers. Their lure, of course, is lower prices.

Wal-Mart, it seems to me, epitomizes the race to the bottom that has the United States by the throat as the 21st century opens.

Why do people shop at these behemoths, when they know full well that they are driving out of existence small businesses owned and operated by their neighbors, employing other neighbors?

They shop because of price, and they are forced to do so by the declining standard of living we have offered working people for more than a generation. People who work for minimum wage, with little or no benefits, who cannot afford to fix their car or their kids' teeth have no choice but to search out the lowest price.

Wal-Mart buys offshore, without apology and for the cheapest possible prices, from companies paying the lowest-possible wages.

As jobs in America are lost to foreign sweatshops to feed the Wal-Mart engine, American workers are forced to accept jobs at lower pay, with bad working conditions. They are funneled to Wal-Mart's promise of cheap goods, in effect patronizing the very companies that caused their economic misery.

This is a cruel travesty on working people in this country.

Wal-Mart is currently being sued in some 40 cases charging various abuses of labor laws, and last fall it was reported the company extensively employs illegal aliens as janitors. Wal-Mart has successfully opposed unionization and frequently pays well below competing stores.

All of these practices -- alleged abuses of labor laws, hiring illegals, and the low rate of pay and benefits at Wal-Mart -- serve to depress the labor market in communities in which the giant is located. That is a major factor in Los Angeles' opposition to the supercenter.

We live in a nation in which the real-dollar income of an average family has declined for years, while corporate profits and executive pay have skyrocketed.

The gap between rich and poor has widened at an alarming rate in the past 20 years. In 44 states, the gap has increased not only between rich and poor, but between rich and middle-class families. None of the six exceptions is a Northwest state. Oregon has one of the worst gaps, Washington is about average.

In some states, the inequity is staggering. In three of the nation's largest states -- California, New York and Ohio -- families in the lowest 20 percent bracket actually lost real income from 1978 to 2000. In 1999 dollars, the loss was between 5 and 6 percent. In those same states, the real income gain for the top 20 percent of families ranged from 37 to 54 percent.

Nationwide, from 1978 to 2000, the lowest 20 percent of families gained only $972 annually, or 7.1 percent; the top 5 percent gained $87,779, or 58.4 percent.

These findings, by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, were before the Bush tax cuts and the current recession, both of which will further widen the gap.

You can't blame Sam Walton for this disparity, but operations like Wal-Mart feed off the impoverishment of America.

Sadly, there are byproducts in quality of life, often unseen until it is too late.

The greatest is the destruction of America's small and mid-sized towns, increasingly bereft of small businesses and dominated by big-box retailers -- acres of barren asphalt parking lots, corporate managers on their way to the next-larger store, employees scrambling to keep low-wage jobs.

My wife's recently deceased aunt could no longer shop in the small Iowa town where she and her late husband ran a feed store. The store is closed, as are the other small businesses. The elderly woman had to drive -- or be driven -- past the empty shops several miles to Wal-Mart, the nearest place to get the basics of life.

Wal-Mart is like a neutron bomb, sucking life out of small towns, leaving buildings without the essence of civic life.

Those of us fortunate to earn middle-class incomes can make a choice, and shun Wal-Mart. The tragedy is that for an ever-increasing segment of America, the despicable race to the bottom has left no other choice than to shop for cheap, regardless of the consequences.

Floyd J. McKay, a journalism professor at Western Washington University, is a regular contributor to Times editorial pages. E-mail him at

Full story:

Supporting locally-owned businesses will make America a better place. Supporting Wal-Mart makes America a worse place.


Wednesday, February 18, 2004

". . . and Howard Dean's candidacy appeared doomed after he came in a distant third. . . ."

So says the Associated Press this morning in an article running on their newswire.

Howard Dean's campaign for the Democratic nomination for President has been a remarkable roller coaster. Well, it seems to have been a short roller coaster with only one very big hill. We chugged slowly and purposefully up, up, up with the clicking sound of cameras and the oooohs and aaaaahs that accompany new and exciting and unexpected things. As the primary season has run its course, we have made it over the crest of the big hill and we are racing, no, we are hurtling down the steep incline to the waiting ground where the track is suppose to take us back up the Super Tuesday Hill. It seems, though, that the car will reach the bottom of the hill, and the train will quietly roll into the station, ending the hopes that a left-leaning Northern physician cum state governor might stake a claim in the White House.

In the past weeks, seventeen states have held primaries and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has won fifteen of those. That is a very impressive track record, and Kerry's roller coaster car is still clicking up up up while gathering more and more enthusiastic riders on his train.

This statement from the Dean campaign is on the front page of their website today, and it is important:

Let me tell you about the America I want back.

I want an America where mothers can take their children to a family doctor, instead of going to the emergency room every time because there's no health insurance.

I want an America where hard-working Americans don't live in fear of losing their jobs because that means losing their health care too.

Where corporations care as much about the communities that make their products and buy their goods as they do about their profit sheets.

Where CEO's don't make 531 times what workers earn, even as they ship their headquarters to Bermuda and their jobs to China.

I want an America where men and women have the chance to go to college, get good jobs, maybe even start their own businesses -- regardless of their background. Where the kitchen table is a place to share dreams -- not to worry and struggle over paying the credit card bills, the mortgage, the tuition payments.

I want an America where no child left behind is something we pay for and guarantee, not an empty promise sold by Washington politicians to the rest of us. I want a fair America that doesn't let soldiers risk their lives for us and then get told they can't get overtime pay for jobs that use the skills they learned in the military.

I want an America where we are more than cogs in a machine, where there is nourishment for our human souls. Where there is true community, and we recognize and affirm that we are all in this together.

That's the type of America I want us to take back.

Together, we can change this country's future.

Dean can't win because of these positions. In these days when it is considered unpatriotic to question the corporate takeover of all local businesses and the insertion of christian fundamentalism into all public institutions, Dean can't say these things without paying the price of marginalization.

It would be good for America if Dean stays in the race,becausee he brings these issues to the debate, discussions that men like Kerry and Edwards are happy to agree but unwilling to instigate.

Howard Dean is addressing issues that are at the heart of all that has made America a second-rate nation: health-care, corporate responsibility, equity, education, and war; and he has the correct position on all of them.

On Tuesday, I will vote for Howard Dean.

I hope you will, too.

In November, I will vote for the Democrat who is running against Bush.

I hope you will, too.


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Boston 2004

Everything is different now.

I was born and raised in Boston, and I think it's a rather nice city. Mrs. Mac and I used to go there quite a lot, but we don't get there as often anymore. Though Boston in 2004 is very much the same city as Boston in 1994, 1984, 1974 and 1964, it is (in many respects) completely different now.

The projects where I grew-up are gone, and there is something visceral about seeing that your childhood neighborhood has been razed and replaced by modern development. No matter how many things remain the same from the rest of my memory, the disappearance of my first home makes everything different.

Boston is an easy drive, a cheap flight, a comfortable train ride away, and we should probably go more often than we do. Last Friday, I left the office early and met Mrs. Mac at Penn Station for a long weekend visit to see our families and friends in Beantown.

I find the train to be rather comfortable, and we like to take the first-class car on the Acela Express. The seats are big and the service is good and they serve a meal. Generally, the passengers are quiet and discreet, and we can have an easy, comfortable journey. It's completely different from traveling coach class on the old regional train. We sat across the aisle from two Rothschilds on this trip. He was French and rather nice, she was English and loud and pompous. She talked most of the trip and had nothing nice to say. It wasn't that witty, sarcastic English humor, either. It was bitter unhappiness about all her money and all her problems. She complained constantly about the renovation of their Boston home and I don't think she realized how vulgar she sounded going on about economizing on this and that. I almost let the incessant rambling and complaining ruin my ride; but I didn't! Amtrak's failure to provide enough meals for everyone in the first-class car irritated me, but in the end I let that roll of my back, too. So, we arrived in suburban Boston a bit hungry and a bit tired, but we arrived.

Is there anything better than a happy occasion that brings family and friends together? Sometimes I think I will only be in these large gatherings for funerals, so it is nice to come together for joyous events! This past weekend, our families had a baby shower for us, and we were, appropriately, showered with gifts for the baby arriving in a couple months.

We spent the weekend laughing and eating and drinking and carrying-on with people we haven't seen in months and years.

At the end of the party, the departures were filled with "see you soons," and "let us know when the baby is born," and "when will you visit again?" and all the pleasantries that make parting such sweet sorrow.

When leaving a party or a faraway place, do you wonder when you will see those people again? I never did. In the past, I just said these things as pleasantries, not really paying attention to the meaning of the words.

This visit was the first time it struck me that everything is different now. When our baby is born, the minor inconvenience of traveling a couple hundred miles will become a HUGE inconvenience. I have no children yet, so I only know how complicated traveling can be by watching others do it. It looks hard.

This simple event of ending a party and wishing well has become a spiritual challenge for me. When I say, "See you later," how much later do I mean? Will I be in Boston again in 2004? Do I owe it to my family and friends there to visit after the baby is born? Is it mandatory? Can I expect them to visit Brooklyn?

Everything is different now. Everything.

See you later!

Monday, February 16, 2004

Travel Day

It is a holiday in the USA and I am traveling the Interstate Highway System. Later today I will be home, and I will prepare a proper blog for Tuesday.


Friday, February 13, 2004

But first, are you experienced?

George W. Bush currently runs his business (and most of the business of the United States government) out of The White House.

He is a man with an extraordinary curriculum vitae.

I received this collection of George W. Bush CV facts in the mail yesterday and found them amusing enough to become today's blog.

George W. Bush, President
The White House
Washington, D.C.

I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.

I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.

I graduated from Yale University with a low C average.

I ran for U.S. Congress and lost.

I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took private land using taxpayer money.

With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry I was elected governor of Texas.

As Governor, I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union.

During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.

I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.

I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.

With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.

As President, I have invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.

I have spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.

I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.

I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period.

After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.

I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster" which is by definition a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

In my State of the Union Address, I lied to you about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on the British.

I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a sitting U.S. President.

In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.

I set the all-time record for most home foreclosures in a 12-month period.

I appointed more convicted criminals to the administration than any President in U.S. history.

I set the record for the fewest number of press-conferences of any President since the advent of television.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.

I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families -- in wartime.

I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.

I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.

I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, preemptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community.

I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.

I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.

I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).

I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.

My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. history. My political party used Enron private jets and corporate Attorneys to assure my election by the U.S. Supreme Court.

I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the Biggest corporate rip-offs in history.

I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.

I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.

All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.

All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

Please consider my experience when voting in 2004.

I know that all of the above seems pretty unbelievable, so don't take my word for this. Do some investigating and please send me a list of good things George W. Bush has done for the world.


Thursday, February 12, 2004


Everyone knows about eBegging. Many internet sites are devoted to eBegging, or lists of eBegging sites, or reviews of eBegging sites.

As a joke one day I wrote the Help Dick Mac Live eBegging Page and posted it at GeoCities. Imagine my surprise when it started appearing on listings and getting (mostly negative) reviews. I have collected over a hundred dollars begging electronically in the past couple years. There have been some highlights in this experience:

One netizen used his PayPal account to transfer .02 US to my PayPal account. His email read: "I wanted to give you my two-cents, and I thought I'd send it in cash."

Recently, a netizen sent one cent through this blog site. No message was included, but I assume it was a "penny for my thoughts."

In 2003, a producer of the Montel Williams Show sent an email asking me to get in touch with her. I called and she wanted me to appear on the show to discuss eBegging. I asked the woman how much the gig paid and she said they pay nothing. I was incredulous! I explained in the MOST patronizing tone I could muster: "I have created a website where I ask you to give me money for nothing. Now you want me to do something and you are offering me nothing. Don't you see a problem here?" She agreed. I asked her to sing "I Am Woman" and I put her on speaker phone and she was kind enough to sing along with me. Nothing ever came of it, and I am reminded of the Jackie Kennedy School of Public Relations, whose motto is: "Grant no interviews. Endorse no products."

If you look to the right, you will see that I have a PayPal link that makes sending me money very very easy. I even accept credit cards!

Today's blog is not actually about eBegging, though. It is about F-begging. This is not an abbreviation for vulgarity. This is a style of begging I have seen perfected on the F line of the New York City Subway.

"Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen," the polite voice announced loudly enough for everyone on the train to hear. "You may have heard me before . . . "

Though none of the hundred sighs were terribly audible, every person on the train offered some physical display of dismay. Begging and busking on subway cars has become pretty commonplace. My favorite is the elderly androgynous blind person who moves from car to car singing Temptations songs. "Ain't To Proud To Beg" is the perfect busking song, and this busker does well with it.

This morning's polite beggar is more insidious. He boards the F train at East Broadway, the first stop in Manhattan, is relatively clean and well-spoken. His voice is clear and he is well-mannered as his schpiel continues: " . . . I was recently released from the hospital. I have been diagnosed with AIDS and I am very hungry. I have no food and I am homeless. If anyone can spare some food or some change, it would be gratefully appreciated." He then moves from one end of the train to the other. A young man hands over a small handful of change, the train pulls into Delancey Street and the beggar departs. Harmless. How can you complain about that?

Next stop is Second Avenue and when the doors close to continue the journey, a voice calls out:

"Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, you may have heard me before . . . "

A handful of people laugh out loud and the young man who handed over his change earlier looks up with his jaw dropped.

" . . . I was recently released from the hospital. I have been diagnosed with AIDS and I am very hungry. . . ."

Commuters are now hysterical with laughter. The beggar is dressed almost exactly the same as his compatriot who departed at Delancey Street and if his beard wasn't a slightly different color, you'd swear he was the same guy.

I thought about this, but there is no way that the guy could have gotten out of the subway and traveled from Delancey Street to Second Avenue and back into the subway on time to deliver his pitch again. This is a completely different person!

The new beggar looks a bit confused by the laughter as he continues his well-rehearsed speech: " I have no food and I am homeless. If anyone can spare some food or some change, it would be gratefully appreciated."

Verbatim! His rap was identical!

The generous young man laughs and shakes his head, the beggar moves to the other end of the car receiving no hand-outs, and we all look around at each other. When he departed the train at Lafayette, strangers actually spoke to each other! I have never seen such camaraderie on a morning subway car. These guys made everyone laugh, and for that I am grateful.

I wonder how many of them are working together and I wonder if they are making more money than me!


Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Sex, Lies & Videofilms

It's your typical baseball story, really: "I made a mistake, I'm really sorry, can't I be forgiven so I can become a multi-millionaire, too." All is generally forgiven. Pete Rose has not been allowed into the Hall of Fame, but he is making millions from baseball and that is what matters in America today.

I haven't watched much baseball since Dale Petroskey, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, made it abundantly clear that there was no room in his enterprise for free speech or dissenting opinions, and the lords of baseball backed him up. Either you accept carte blanche that the president of the United States should be allowed to do anything he wants, or you can't participate in the National Pastime. This is what those who own baseball think of us.

Remember, the men who run baseball are geniuses and philanthropists like George Steinbrenner, who hired private detectives to follow Dave Winfield and then used the garnered information to smear his star employee during contract negotiations, and Rupert Murdoch, publisher of a newspaper that out-ed Sandy Koufax, the greatest living legend of his own team, in a manner that set gay liberation back decades. The list of geniuses and philanthropists goes on, of course; but, I really didn't intend to write about this load of scumbags that make Enron executives look like angels. Hell, Enron officials only stole money. These bastards take tax dollars to build their stadia shrines to shit-headedness, then insult their staff and trample on the Constitution!

Baseball has never been a bastion of intellectual progress. It's a sport. As much as baseball wants to market itself as different than, or better than, the other sports, it's still just a sport with very little to offer the world.

In fact, baseball is such a closed little club that it is mostly ignored on this planet and is soon to be eliminated from the Olympics. Why? Because the geniuses and philanthropists who own the sport are too stupid to showcase their talent on the international stage when there's a few extra bucks to be made selling advertisements for booze and bad food. Why should the rest of the world care about baseball if the geniuses and philanthropists who own the sport don't care about it!?!?!?!

In case you don't know, the USA baseball team has been eliminated from 2004 Olympic competition because the owners didn't want to let the professionals take a couple weeks off to compete, and our children got a right spanking from much better players during the qualifying rounds. This fits into Dale Petrovskey's nationalistic plan for baseball, though. We are a fundamentalist, isolationist country that requires no input from other nations or cultures, baseball is OUR national pastime and who cares if the rest of the world ever embraces it! A closed little sport for closed-minded little people with small ideas on a small stage.

Well, fortunately for the American citizenry, baseball thinkers of an earlier era forged paths to South America and Asia and planted the seeds of baseball in places that have grown athletes with names like Vladimir and Jorge and Oh and Hideki and Kazuhito. Early pioneers of baseball wanted to include outsiders in baseball and worked diligently to bring baseball to the international stage.

It took until 1984 to get baseball included in the Olympics, but it was done! It has taken the fundamentalists only twenty years to bring baseball to the brink of elimination from the the Olympics! But, as usual, I digress . . .

The international flavor of baseball that mushroomed during my youth has been wonderful. Handsome, talented, strong men from Cuba and Santo Domingo and Venezuela and Korea have played on American baseball teams and they have made the sport better.

A young Japanese man named Kazuhito Tadano has been banished from his country's baseball community and landed here in the United States. He is a prospect with the Cleveland Indians and he brings with him talents previously untold in the storied annals of baseball lore and statistical purgatory.

While a college student, young Kazuhito ran short of cash. Not an unusual story. He decided to use some Japanese ingenuity to raise cash and he acted in a porno film. (Is that acting?) No big deal, college students have acted in porno films in the past and will again in the future. College students have prostituted themselves and will again in the future. College students have taken part-time jobs in law firms and will again in the future. As vulgar as these three decisions might be, they are not terribly earth-shattering. Having appeared in a porno film while studying law wouldn't make you a bad lawyer after graduation. Selling your ass while in journalism school wouldn't make you a bad journalist after graduation. Working in a law firm while a college baseball player wouldn't make you a bad ballplayer after graduation.

Japan is not known for its open-minded, warm, all-embracing culture. It's a rather repressive, closed, misogynist, homophobic, racist culture much like American and European cultures. OK, so it might be a tad more repressive than ours; but, who's counting. Like most repressive cultures, Japan has a love-hate relationship with pornography and sexuality. Nobody wants to talk about it, but everyone knows it's there.

Kazuhito made a porno film. Kazuhito made a gay porn film. I have not seen the film, but I understand he performed well. Does a good performance in a gay porno film mean you are gay? Does it matter if he is gay or straight? When news of the film became public in Japan, Kazuhito was banished from baseball. He could not get a job with a Japanese club.

Had Kazuhito made a hetero porno film, I think would things have been different. I know that apologists and liberals will say that porn is porn is porn and he is being punished because it is porn, not because it is gay porn. I don't buy that for one second! Had Kazuhito made a hetero porn film, he would have been made a cult hero. Do I have proof of this? No; but, it doesn't take a body of evidence to know that we treat homosexuals as lesser citizens, and we are more appalled by gay porn than straight porn, and that people believe that no wholesome athlete would really ever engage in homosexual activity. Those lies are continually propagated and nobody stands up and says STOP.

The only way Kazuhito can get a fair shake is to apologize for making the film and saying it was a mistake and that he isn't gay. The only thing that will appease the Steinbrenners and Murdochs and other geniuses and philanthropists who own baseball is a total condemnation of himself and his past. If he wants to earn a living in baseball, he better be straight and he better apologize for having been gay.

I accept that Kazuhito may not be gay, but I also believe that he might be gay. The only reason he can't ever be honest about it is that baseball would banish him if he was openly gay. Baseball is a horrible industry that is closed to anyone who doesn't fit into a very narrow mold. There is nothing more unAmerican than that!

Baseball maintains a constant witch-hunt against homosexuals, and nobody says anything about it. Ballplayers have to hold press conferences to deny their homosexuality, or risk being benched, demoted, and eventually run out of the game.

Read Dave Pallone's book "Behind The Mask" for an inside look at the treatment of homosexuals in baseball. Pallone knows first-hand what happens to homosexuals in the bastion of bigotry and closed-mindedness that is passed-off as the sport of baseball.

If Kazuhito wants to be sorry about something it should be that he hasn't the spine to stand up and tell the fundamentalists running baseball that they are liars and hypocrites and bigots! That is his only dereliction. It's not wrong to be gay or straight, and it's not wrong to have worked in the porno industry. It is wrong to regret your past and let billionaires tell you how to apologize for your life in the hope that they will make you a millionaire.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe the Cleveland Indians plan to use Kazuhito's predicament to change the sport and the attitudes of the people involved, and make the sport a more open and accepting work environment. Maybe this can be the beginning of a change in that community. Can you imagine?

Don't get your hopes up, though, because baseball is a horrible business filled with men who want to keep women and homosexuals and anyone they don't like out of their industry. They want to keep it a closed industry enjoying an anti-trust exemption so they can control the entire market. Is there anything more unAmerican than that?

I want to feel sorry for Kazuhito, but I don't. Those who shun their past in the hope of future profits have no integrity. Baseball will be perfect for him! But, if he fails to make the grade in baseball, will he return to become the world's most famous Japanese gay porn star?

Here are some links I found about this story:

About Baseball
New York Newsday UK
ESPN Columnist
Japan Radio News
Gay Japan
Utopia Asia
Gay Porn Blog
Gay Videos
Freak Factor
Bi-Latin-Men Message Board


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The Steeple-Jack

by Marianne Moore

Dürer would have seen a reason for living
in a town like this, with eight stranded whales
to look at; with the sweet sea air coming into your house
on a fine day, from water etched
with waves as formal as the scales
on a fish.
One by one, in two's, in three's, the seagulls keep
flying back and forth over the town clock,
or sailing around the lighthouse without moving their
rising steadily with a slight
quiver of the body--or flock
mewing where

a sea the purple of the peacock's neck is
paled to greenish azure as Dürer changed
the pine green of the Tyrol to peacock blue and guinea
grey. You can see a twenty-five-
pound lobster and fish-nets arranged
to dry. The

whirlwind fife-and-drum of the storm bends the salt
marsh grass, disturbs stars in the sky and the
star on the steeple; it is a privilege to see so
much confusion.

A steeple-jack in red, has let
a rope down as a spider spins a thread;
he might be part of a novel, but on the sidewalk a
sign says C.J. Poole, Steeple-Jack,
in black and white; and one in red
and white says

Danger. The church portico has four fluted
columns, each a single piece of stone, made
modester with white-wash. This would be a fit haven for
waifs, children, animals, prisoners,
and presidents who have repaid

senators by not thinking about them. One
sees a school-house, a post-office in a
store, fish-houses, hen-houses, a three-masted schooner on
the stocks. The hero, the student,
the steeple-jack, each in his way,
is at home.

It scarcely could be dangerous to be living
in a town like this, of simple people
who have a steeple-jack placing danger-signs by the church
when he is gilding the solid-
pointed star, which on a steeple
stands for hope.

Marianne Moore is one of my favorite poets, and The Steeple-Jack is a copyrighted poem owned by her estate. All copyrighted work published at Dick Mac (alive!) is published without permission, and forgiveness and mercy are begged.

You can purchase The Poems of Marianne Moore at


Monday, February 09, 2004

The Weekend

What makes one weekend better than another?

I don't mean those special weekends that include a quick trip to a new place for forty-eight hours of fun! I am talking about those regular old weekends when you leave the plant after five and commute home and start that magical time-off.

What makes one weekend better than another?

Most people don't appreciate that Americans used to work six or seven days a week, ten or twelve hours a day, with time-off only to go to church, and that labor unions changed all that in the early part of the last century. Before the labor movement, people didn't work seventy or eighty hours a week because they loved their job or wanted to excel or were bucking for a promotion; they did it because it was required. There was no overtime pay, there was no real advancement from labor force to management, dedication was not rewarded. You were born rich or poor and that was pretty much your lot in life.

The labor movement changed that. The labor movement created that ladder from abject poverty to working class to middle class to upper class to wealthy. The labor movement made it possible for the children of immigrants to become CEOs!

Prior to men risking everything to make the world a better place, men who were marginalized or killed or imprisoned to make workplaces safer and more equitable, there was no weekend. That's right! The weekend was invented by the labor movement. So next time you're enjoying your time off and you want to complain about unions, remember that it was labor unions who made the workplace, YOUR workplace, all workplaces, safer and better and more profitable for YOU! How can dismantling unions be good for America?

So, you have a weekend. Every week you get one, and that is the thrust of my blog today. What makes one weekend better than another? Again, I am not talking about special weekends or long weekends, just a regular old weekend like the one just past. How did your weekend go?

Mine was spectacular, and I don't know why! It didn't seem any different from any other weekend while it was happening.

I got home a little late Friday night, had dinner with Mrs. Mac, played Age of Mythology online, watched a little television, and went to bed. Nothing special, but I awoke feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and excited about the day ahead.

On Saturday, I published my weekly OMG!™ post. Mrs. Mac and I continued unpacking boxes from our recent move and setting-up the house and decorating a bit. I watched Arsenal beat Wolverhampton in an away match on television. Then I went to the grocery store and the butcher and the green grocer. When I got home I made meatballs and sausages and a big pot of tomato sauce, and I baked a meatloaf. After dinner we took the subway into New York for a birthday party and was home by eleven feeling great and having had a fun day.

Sunday morning I awoke and made pancakes and eggs, continued unpacking some more, did some housework, watched Manchester City draw with Birmingham, then went to Home De(s)pot for rugs and tools and supplies and those sundry items always lacking after a move, then did more housework, baked a veal parmigiana and served dinner, chatted online with some friends and my niece, then answered email and played another round of computer games and went to bed.

Now it is Monday and I feel like I have had the best weekend ever! I wonder why?

Did you have a good weekend?


Friday, February 06, 2004

There They Go Again!

CBS is at it again! Even though they insist they will not sell commercial airtime to broadcast "issue" ads, like MoveOn's "Child's Pay," they continue to sell airtime for "issue" ads to the fundamentalists destroying our nation.

I received this from MoveOn:

Dear MoveOn member,
We didn't think the hypocrisy at CBS headquarters could get any worse. But it just did.

As you know, CBS refused to run MoveOn Voter Fund's "Child's Pay" ad -- perhaps the most tasteful and uncontroversial advocacy ad in history -- during the Super Bowl. CBS executives claimed they had a blanket policy against all so-called "issue" ads.

Yesterday, we learned that the network plans to broadcast an ad promoting the Bush Medicare prescription drug law. This is part of a $13 million taxpayer-financed TV campaign to take the heat off the White House for pushing through a drug plan that benefits drug companies and insurance companies more than Medicare recipients.

The White House ad features the tagline "Same Medicare. More Benefits." But a report by Consumers Union last month said that most people covered by Medicare will wind up spending more for prescription drugs, as a result of the provisions in the law which favor drug companies. According to the Washington Post, the campaign is intended "to counteract Democratic criticism that changes to the (Medicare) program will harm older Americans."

If that isn't a controversial issue ad, we don't know what is. But since CBS appears to be changing its policy, our Voter Fund has submitted our own Medicare ad which exposes the facts behind this spin campaign to run on CBS. So far, we haven't heard back. Please give CBS a call today to let them know that they need to either pull the White House ads or run ours.

You can reach CBS at:

CBS Comment Line
(212) 975-4321


Web form

After you've called or emailed, please help us track the number of calls and emails that are pouring in by going to:

We're spreading out the calls across a number of relevant CBS numbers, so hopefully you won't get a busy signal. Also, we have no quarrel with CBS News or any CBS journalists, who have actually given fair coverage to CBS Corporate's unfair decision. Please don't call the CBS news desk.

There's another issue involved here that needs to be taken very seriously: if Bush's Medicare ad is intended to function as a campaign ad (and that clearly appears to be the case) then this may constitute a criminal election law violation. In fact, the ad company which made the ad which will air on CBS also works for the Bush/Cheney re-election committee. We've put in a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Health and Human Services to begin the process of establishing the facts in this case.

For now, help us hold CBS accountable by asking them to stop running the Bush Medicare ad -- or to accept ours.

--Adam, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Laura, Noah, Peter, Wes, and Zack
The Team
February 5th, 2004

P.S. Our friends at the Center for American Progress have done an incredible job documenting the links between the Bush administration, the ad company which is creating these Medicare ads, and the drug companies. Today's Progress Report is online at:

The Progress Report is a free, daily e-mail by the Center for American Progress. You can subscribe here:

The airwaves do not belong to CBS, they belong to the taxpayers. Networks have historically aired all points of view, and it is only since the rise of fundamentalism and the fundamentalist takeover of Washington, that networks have begun manipulating information so blatantly.

We all like to laugh at the Orwellian tone of the modern American media, and it is funny to see the irony of it all; but this is serious stuff. If you don't take action, who will?

Do you think CBS should manipulate your airwaves like this? I don't.

So, I wrote the following to

In your refusal to sell advertising time to to broadcast their “Child’s Pay” advertisement, you have said that you do not accept “issue” ads for broadcast on CBS.

Now you are accepting taxpayer dollars for what amounts to a campaign ad from the White House featuring the tagline "Same Medicare. More Benefits."

The White House's Medicaid plan will actually cost elderly people MORE money for prescription drugs, is an “issues” ad if ever there was one, and you are broadcasting it. This is an “issues” ad that, according to the Washington Post, is intended "to counteract Democratic criticism that changes to the (Medicare) program will harm older Americans." And it is not a great leap to call this an illegal campaign ad by the White House.

Though you have the Constitutional right to run your business as you see fit, your constant manipulation of the information “market” is unAmerican and I will boycott your broadcasts, ALL your broadcasts, and speak vociferously about my position until this unAmerican trend changes.

You should be ashamed of yourself for behaving this way.

The thing that will stop CBS from doing this is a boycott; but, I know Americans are unwilling to inconvenience themselves with a boycott. So, if you won't boycott CBS, I hope you will at least write or call them and tell them you think they are wrong in refusing to run "issue" ads from MoveOn while running "issue" ads from the republicans.

We can take back our nation from the fundamentalists, but you have to do some of the work!


Thursday, February 05, 2004


I dislike hearing or reading a word I do not know. It makes me feel stupid! I had never heard the word atramental until 0650 this morning, so I looked it up. The definition at says this:

Of or pertaining to ink; inky; black, like ink; as, atramental galls; atramentous spots.

I still had no idea what it really meant! What the hell is atramental galls!?!?!?! So I followed the link that started the whole problem in the first place.

My friend Lori has launched a site that is, on the one hand, a tribute to Louise Brooks (who is one of her heroes) and, on the other hand, an online gallery of her own photography. It is called

When I looked at Lori's photos and the pix of Brooks, I understood!

I never knew Brooks was so adorable:

Photo used without permission

I know little about Louise Brooks, so I found fascinating. It is loaded with pictures and the brief bio of Brooks' is definitely worth a surf over.

Lori's photography is tres atramental!

Photo used without permission
I might have to add this one to my art collection!

Visit and tell them Dick Mac sent you! (They'll give you a good seat near the screen!)


Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Lieberman Out

From Reuters - 03 FEB 04 - Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who had counted on a win in Delaware but finished a poor second to Kerry, planned to withdraw from the race, campaign aides said.

Could there be better news? Joe Lieberman, the wolf in sheep's clothing, has announced he will drop out of the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Good riddance!

Lieberman's constant pandering to fundamentalism and conservatism has been an affront to all tax-paying democrats. I hope the people of Connecticut will now see fit to unseat him and remove him from the Senate.

Some New England states used to elect liberal Republicans, old-fashioned American Constitutionalists who believed in freedom. These Republicans were more to the left than Lieberman! I am so done with well-educated millionaires who know that fundamentalism is bad and still pander to the billionaire Southerners perpetrating some phony brand of morality.

If Connecticut wants an apologist for fundamentalism as a representative, they might as well elect an actual modern-day republican instead of an idiot like Lieberman.

Good riddance!

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The Deserter

One of the best tricks played by the fundamentalists and their puppets in the Republican Party is the presentation of something as wrong when done by non-fundamentalists, but defined as a smear campaign when one of their own is exposed.

If a liberal had deserted the National Guard during a time of war, the fundamentalists running Fox, CBS, your White House and Congress, and controlling just about every government agency and court in the land, would report the horror as if it was an atrocity on the level of genocide. Since it was the current poster boy for fundamentalism (not Osama binLaden, silly, his American counterpart President Bush) who committed this crime against all taxpayers, it is being ignored and belittled and decried by the wrong-wing as a smear tactic by the (non-existent) liberal media.

Since the current president and his apologists refuse to be forthcoming about the situation, one can only surmise that there is something they are hiding.

I received this piece in the mail last week and I have decided it is worth posting in full (and without permission). I believe it originated at The Progressive Trail.

Bush's Military Record Reveals Grounding and Absence for Two Full Years
by Robert A. Rogers
(ret. 1st Lt. Mission Pilot)
October 4, 2000

With two years left in his six-year obligation to the Texas Air National Guard, 1st Lt. George W. Bush was mysteriously suspended from flight - and never again reported for a single day of duty.

Robert A. Rogers is a self-employed Northern Virginia businessman and an Air National Guard veteran of eleven years, 1954 through 1965. After this he had a 30-year career in the commercial airline industry, including independent consulting with various US Government civilian agencies and military services.

Major Findings

"I think that people need to be held responsible for the actions they take in life. I think that's part of the need for a cultural change. We need to say that each of us needs to be responsible for what we do." – George W. Bush in the first Presidential debate, October 3, 2000.

"I did the duty necessary ... That's why I was honorably discharged" – George W. Bush, May 23, 2000

From the beginning of his Presidential campaign, George W. Bush has forcefully and repeatedly insisted that he faithfully fulfilled all his military obligations by serving his time as a member of the Texas Air National Guard.

But the first independent investigation of Bush's military record by a former Air National Guard pilot has revealed the following:

Pilot George W. Bush did not simply "give up flying" with two years left to fly, as has been reported. Instead, Bush was suspended and grounded, very possibly as a direct or indirect result of substance abuse.

The crucial evidence – a Flight Inquiry Board – that would reveal the true reasons for Bush's suspension, as well as the punishment that was recommended, is missing from the records released so far. If no such Board was convened, this raises further questions of extraordinary favoritism.

Contrary to Bush's emphatic statements and several published reports, Bush never actually reported in person for the last two years of his service – in direct violation of two separate written orders. Moreover, the lack of punishment for this misconduct represents the crowning achievement of a military career distinguished only by favoritism.

This in-depth investigation and analysis of Bush's apparent misconduct over the last two years of his six year obligation suggests that Bush did not fulfill all of his military obligations to the Texas Air National Guard and to his country, contrary to his repeated assertions.

Moreover, Bush's misconduct could have resulted in significant disciplinary action by his Commanding Officer, ranging in severity from temporary or permanent grounding, a career-damaging letter of reprimand, to forced reenlistment in the US Army (including active duty in Vietnam), to a less-than honorable discharge.

These issues are not trivial, nor are they ancient history. This cloud of questions goes to the heart of George W. Bush's promises to restore honor and integrity to the White House, to strengthen the military, and to speak the plain truth on the campaign trail.

If Bush had received a less-than honorable discharge, it is safe to say that he would not be the Republican candidate for President today. But the absence of any sign of severe disciplinary action in the records we obtained raises serious questions that can only be answered if Bush himself requests the release of his full military service record.

Avoiding Vietnam through Preferential Treatment

George W. Bush graduated from Yale in May of 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War when half a million young American men were fighting for their country and dying at the rate of 350 per week. Bush, who mostly distinguished himself at Yale through his social activities, vocally supported the war. But he was not prepared to put his own life on the line. He had no desire "to be an infantry guy as a private in Vietnam," he said.

Instead, Bush wanted to become a fighter pilot like his father, who flew heroic combat missions in the Pacific during World War II. "I wanted to fly, and that was the adventure I was seeking," he told the New York Times in July. Bush denies that he was trying to avoid combat. "One could argue that [I] was trying to avoid being the infantryman but my attitude was I'm taking the first opportunity to become a pilot and jumped on that and did my time," he said.

But Bush did not join the full time active duty military. Instead, he chose to enlist for "weekend warrior" duty in the Air National Guard, where he could fulfill his military obligation far away from the risk of combat and pursue his civilian career, including working in several Republican Senate campaigns. "Had my unit been called I would have gone ... to Vietnam," he said. But like everyone else at the time, he knew the chances of that happening were slim. And when his application form asked about an overseas assignment, he checked "do not volunteer."

Competition for the few openings in the National Guard was intense, and there was a waiting list of 100,000 nationally at the time. Bush took the Air Force officer and pilot qualification tests on January 17, 1968. He scored 25%, the lowest possible passing grade on the pilot aptitude portion. On his application form, he listed his "background qualifications" as "none." But despite the waiting list, his low score and his lack of qualifications, Bush was given a highly-coveted spot and was sworn in on May 27 for a six-year commitment, taking a solemn oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution and the United States of America.

Bush and his father have adamantly denied that he received preferential treatment, despite the fact that his father was then a U.S. Representative from Texas and his grandfather Prescott had been a prominent U.S. Senator from Connecticut. But the Speaker of the House in Texas at the time, Ben Barnes, admitted under oath last year that he had received a request from a longtime Bush family friend, Sidney Adger of Houston, to help Bush get into the Air National Guard. Barnes further testified that he contacted the head of the Texas Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. James Rose, to pass along Adger's request.

When asked about this sworn testimony, Bush was evasive: "I have no idea and I don't believe so," he said. But according to the Boston Globe, Bush "vaulted to the top of a waiting list of 500."

This preferential treatment in gaining entry to the Air National Guard set the pattern for Bush's treatment throughout his six-year obligation, including his rapid promotion to pilot and 1st Lieutenant, his sudden disappearance from the skies with two years left to fly, and his failure to report for a single day of duty in his final two years contrary to two specific orders.

After he completed only six weeks of basic airman training, Bush received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard. This was by means of a 'special appointment' by the commanding officer of his squadron, with the approval of a panel of three senior officers. This 2nd Lt. commission was extraordinary, since it normally required eight full semesters of college ROTC courses or eighteen months of military service or completion of Air Force officer training school. It was so unusual that Tom Hail, the Texas National Guard historian, told the Los Angeles Times that he "never heard of that" except for flight surgeons.

Despite a score of only 25% on his pilot entrance aptitude test, Bush was then assigned to flight school, a posting that was normally reserved to pilots graduating from ROTC training or Air Force officer training. That was immediately followed by further favoritism in being 'fast tracked' over those on the existing pilot applicant waiting list into the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, a standby runway alert component of the 143rd Group, one of several tactical Guard units responsible for defending the Southern coast of the Continental U.S. against attack.

Along with the rest of his squadron, Bush was trained to fly the missile-equipped supersonic F-102 Delta Dart jet interceptor fighter. By July of 1970, Bush had earned his wings and racked up approximately 300 hours of training flight time in the F-102. This qualified him to fly the F-102 without an instructor, but was far short of the 500 hours of experience required for volunteer active duty combat operations in Vietnam.

At this point in the Vietnam War, the US Air Force desperately needed additional F-102 pilots to fly the dangerous reconnaissance missions so important to the fate of American troops on the ground. With only a small amount of solo flying experience, Bush applied for a voluntary three month Vietnam tour, perhaps counting on preferential treatment once again to overcome his lack of readiness, or perhaps safe in the knowledge that his request would certainly be rejected.

When Bush was summarily turned down for this volunteer active duty option, he was left to fly as a "weekend warrior" in the Texas Air National Guard out of Ellington AFB near Houston Texas. On November 3, 1970, while Bush's father was being re-elected to Congress from Houston, Bush was promoted to 1st Lieutenant by Brig. General Rose, the same man who got Bush into the Texas National Guard at the request of the Bush family friend.

The Clouds Set In

The newly-released records reveal that 1st Lt. Bush was credited with 46 days of flight duty from June 1970 to May 1971, expected Guard weekend duty and 'extra' runway standby alert time for that year. However, that would be the last time that Bush fully met his qualified jet fighter pilot obligation to serve four complete years as a fully trained and qualified fighter pilot.

Beginning sometime after May of 1971, Bush stopped living up to his sworn obligation to the Texas Air National Guard and thereby his country. By May of 1972, he was credited with only 22 flight duty days, 14 days short of the minimum 36 days he owed the Guard for that year. And then things went from bad to worse.

Astonishingly, Bush suddenly disappeared from the skies altogether near the start of his fourth year. Bush flew for the last time in the cockpit of an F-102 in April of 1972. From that point on, Bush never flew again, in spite of the fact that he still had two full years remaining of his six-year pilot service commitment. And on May 15, 1972, Bush simply "cleared this base" according to a written report by one of his two Squadron supervising officers, Lt. Col. William D. Harris Jr.

On May 24, Bush requested in writing a six-month transfer to an inactive postal Reserve unit in Alabama, for the stated purpose of working on the campaign of a Republican Senate candidate. If Bush had been temporarily transferred there, he would not have continued flying until he returned to Texas, because the Alabama unit had no airplanes.

In fact, Bush's transfer request was denied by National Guard Bureau headquarters on May 31 1972, and Bush should have returned to his base in Houston and continued with his flying duties. Instead, he remained in Alabama until late in the fall. And something critical happened on August 1, 1972 – George W. Bush was summarily suspended from flying duties.

1. Was pilot George W. Bush suspended and grounded with two years left to fly as a direct or indirect result of substance abuse?

"George Walker Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn't get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed ... As far as kicks are concerned, Lt. Bush gets his from the roaring afterburner of the F-102." Texas Air National Guard press release, March 1970.

There is no dispute that George W. Bush stopped flying with two years left in his commitment to the Texas Air National Guard and to his country at the height of the Vietnam War. The big question that has never been satisfactorily answered is: Why?

According to the Boston Globe – the only major publication that has examined the last two years of Bush's military service in depth – Bush simply "gave up flying" to spend six months on a Republican Senate campaign in Alabama.

But this explanation is highly suspect, because fully trained and currently qualified pilots with two remaining years of flying obligation are rarely permitted to simply "give up" without some form of disciplinary action beyond just suspension.

A pilot's completion of his six-year obligation is especially important because of the heavy investment the Government makes to provide jet fighter pilots with two full years of active duty training. In today's money, the US Government paid close to a million dollars to train 1st Lt. Bush in a highly complex supersonic aircraft.

One of Bush's newly-released service documents provides a significant clue to his sudden disappearance from the skies. In a confirmation memo to the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force dated September 29, 1972, Major General Francis Greenleaf, then Chief of the National Guard Bureau in Washington DC, confirmed the suspension of 1st Lt. George W. Bush from flying status. This written confirmation cites an earlier August 1, 1972 verbal order of the TX 147th Group's Commanding Officer that suspended and grounded Bush from flying duty for "his failure to accomplish annual medical examination."

There are two ways to interpret this crucial memo: either 1st Lt. Bush took his mandatory annual flight physical for pilots and failed it for some as-yet undisclosed reason, or he refused to present himself in the first place to an Air Force Flight Surgeon, who were readily available in almost every state.

Campaign officials originally brushed off this crucial event by suggesting that Bush was simply unable to travel to Houston to visit his family physician. But the Boston Globe reported that Air Force Flight Surgeons were assigned to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery Alabama, where he was then living.

More recently, campaign officials claimed that Bush did not technically need to take his flight physical. "As he was not flying, there was no reason for him to take the flight physical exam," campaign spokesman Don Bartlett told the London Times in June. But this assertion is false, because Bush was technically still qualified to fly until after his "failure to accomplish annual medical examination," which led to his suspension and grounding. Moreover, Bush should have been flying from his home base in Texas at the time of his scheduled annual physical in August, because his request for a transfer to Alabama had been rejected on May 31.

Bush's spokesman admitted that Bush "knew the suspension would take place" if he failed to complete his mandatory annual flight physical. But he writes it off to mere red tape, saying "it was just a question of following the bureaucratic procedure of the time."

But this suspension meant, at least momentarily, the end of his dream to be a pilot. This was something he worked hard to achieve, something he was proud of and bragged about, something important to his family, and something that senior Texas Air National Guard officials had gone to great lengths to make possible. Therefore, Bush's "failure to accomplish annual medical examination," could not have been either casual or accidental.

Moreover, Bush had to have known that this suspension could subject him to a punishment beyond just temporary suspension. In fact, Bush could have been permanently suspended or even reprimanded for his actions.

Why would a physical exam present a problem for 1st Lt. Bush? A little-know fact reported in the London Times and the New York Post on June 18, 2000 gives a powerful clue. In April 1972 – the same month that Bush "gave up" flying – all the overseas and stateside military services began subjecting a small random sample in their ranks to substance abuse testing for alcohol and drugs. The Pentagon had announced its intention to do so initially back on December 31, 1969. If Bush reported for his scheduled physical in August 1972, he could have been subject to selection for a random substance abuse test.

Bush's spokesman told the London Times that Bush "was not aware of any changes that required a drug test." But this does not hold up under scrutiny. In 1969 – the year following Bush's enlistment – the Pentagon notified every unit in the military that it would implement random drug testing at some point in the near future. When that moment arrived – April 1972 – every enlisted person and officer throughout the military, both overseas and stateside, would have been aware of this dramatic change. After all, the whole purpose of the random drug testing was to make it absolutely clear to everyone in the Armed Forces that the Pentagon would not tolerate substance abuse of any kind by anyone.

There is circumstantial evidence pointing to substance abuse by Bush during this period. On the campaign trail, Bush has stated that he has not used drugs or alcohol in excess since 1974. But this chronology makes it possible that he was in fact abusing one or more of these substances in the summer of 1972.

Moreover, interviews with friends during this period reveal that Bush partied and drank regularly, and Bush admits he was a hard drinker at the time. And over the Christmas holidays, Bush got into a widely-reported emotional showdown with his father after taking his 16-year-old brother Marvin drinking, hitting garbage cans while driving home.

Thus, the September 29 memo is a "smoking jet" which points to a potentially devastating interpretation: that Bush stopped flying two years short of his obligation because of substance abuse – either directly, because he failed his physical exam, or indirectly, because he refused to take it out of fear that he would fail it.

Is it unreasonable to raise the possibility that 1st Lt. Bush was suspended from flying as a direct or indirect consequence of substance abuse? It might be if there was no way for Bush to prove his innocence. But George W. Bush can readily defend himself, if he so chooses, simply by voluntarily releasing his complete military record.

A voluntary disclosure of this kind is not without precedent. During the South Carolina Republican primary this campaign year, rumors were spread by fellow Senators about Senator John McCain's mental health as a result of his imprisonment as a POW. McCain immediately quashed those rumors by voluntarily releasing his entire military record, which confirmed no indications of adverse physical or mental conditions.

Thus, Bush could easily put to rest the questions surrounding "his failure to accomplish annual medical examination" – and his subsequent suspension – if he would simply release his complete military service record, which cannot be released by the Air Force without Bush's explicit consent.

2. Was a Flight Inquiry Board of senior Air Force officers convened to determine the appropriate punishment for Bush's misconduct?

Regardless of the explanation for Bush's suspension, there is another crucial question: Was this suspension sufficient disciplinary action for such a flagrant dereliction of duty at a time when the Air Force was reeling from a serious pilot shortage at the peak of the Vietnam War?

In the Air National Guard, expensively trained pilots are not casually suspended. There is normally a Flight Inquiry Board, which exercises the military chain of command's obligation to insure due process. If one had been convened, its three senior officer members would have documented why such a severe action was justified in relation to the country's military objectives at the time, as opposed to the simple desire of a trained pilot to just "give up flying".

In the event of serious misconduct, such as substance abuse, a Flight Inquiry Board would have determined the appropriate punishment. The punishments could have included temporary or permanent 'grounding,' a career-damaging letter of reprimand, forced reenlistment in the US Army with active duty in Vietnam, or a less-than honorable discharge.

In fact, there is no evidence now in the public domain that a Flight Inquiry Board was convened to deal with Bush's official reclassification to a non-flying, grounded status. However, the records of such a Board would not be subject to an ordinary FOIA request because of privacy protections under FOIA.

This absence of a Flight Inquiry Board is of particular interest to veteran pilots who are intimately familiar with normal disciplinary procedures. In the absence of Bush's releasing his complete service record, the implication is that Bush's misconduct in regards to "his failure to accomplish annual medical examination" was handled like everything else in his military service: aided and abetted by powerful family connections with total disregard for the needs of the military as well as Bush's solemn oath.

Once again, the only way to get to the truth would be for George W. Bush to personally request the release of his full military records.

3. Did Bush altogether dodge his subsequent scheduled Guard duty obligations for two years after his grounding, and should he have received additional punishment for this misconduct?

"I spent my time and I went to the Guard. It's just not true. I did the duty necessary...any allegations other than that are simply not true." (George W. Bush, May 23, 2000, CNN)

The questions about Bush's unfulfilled service record do not end with his suspension and effective grounding on August 1, 1972. The central question for the remaining two years is whether he fully and legitimately completed his original six-year attendance obligation to the Texas Air Guard and his country, as sworn under oath upon his enlistment, or if he simply dodged his remaining non-flying duties.

Bush has said repeatedly that he completed his service obligations. But a careful review of his record tells a very different story.

On September 5, 1972, more than three months after his transfer request to an inactive Alabama unit was refused, Bush was finally ordered to start serving three months in an active but non-flying administrative Guard unit, the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group in Montgomery, Alabama, for four certain duty days in October and November.

Despite this direct written order, there is no official notation in his service record that Bush ever showed up for any of this duty. General William Turnipseed and Lt. Col. Kenneth Lott, who commanded the base at the time, told the Boston Globe that Bush never appeared. "To my knowledge, he never showed up," Turnipseed said in May.

Bush insists he did, according to the Dallas Morning News. "I was there on temporary assignment and fulfilled my weekends at one period of time. I made up some missed weekends. I can't remember what I did, but I wasn't flying because they didn't have the same airplanes. I fulfilled my obligations," he said while campaigning in Alabama on June 23.

But the Bush campaign conducted its own search of Bush's military records, and could not find evidence that Bush performed any duty in Alabama, the Dallas Morning News reported. The only published reports were from personal friends who say they remember Bush telling him that he planned to report for duty, but no reports of anyone in the Guard who actually saw him. Moreover, Interceptor Magazine, a monthly official National Guard publication distributed nationwide, ran advertisements asking for anyone to step forward who remembered seeing Bush on duty. This inquiry came up empty-handed.

This raises the next question of whether 1st Lt. Bush was intentionally absent from assigned duty contrary to a specific written order, which is the civilian/Guard Airman equivalent of AWOL. This absence could normally result in disciplinary action beyond a slap on the wrist by his parent Squadron's Commanding Officer.

When the three-month term of his apparently unfulfilled temporary order in Alabama ended in November 1972, Bush returned home to Houston Texas until the fall of 1973. However, he again did not report in person for non-flying duty to his parent Texas 111th Squadron during this whole time.

Bush offers a different excuse for this period: that the 111th Squadron was switching to a newer jet, so he could not fly. But the unit's commander told the Boston Globe that Bush could have continued to fly the F-102, which remained in service in his unit past the end of Bush's six-year commitment. "If [Bush] had come back to Houston, I would have kept him flying the 102 until he got out," he said. "But I don't recall him coming back at all." Given that this Commanding Officer used Bush extensively for publicity and recruiting purposes during his flying days, it is unlikely that he would have simply forgotten Bush from the day he wrote that Bush "cleared the base" in May 1972.

Still, Bush reappeared on the Texas Air Guard's radar screen in May 1973. Bush was ordered to attend nine certain duty days in person during Summer Camp at Ellington AFB between May 22 and June 7. But 1st Lt. Bush did not do so – making him apparently absent contrary to a specific written order for a second time in less than a year.

According to the Boston Globe, Bush "spent 36 days on duty" from May until July of 1973, but this is a clear misunderstanding of the record. Our more recent FOIA request produced an unsigned and undated one page listing of 35 inactive Reserve temporary duty credit days starting May 25 through July 30, 1973. This document is a paper confirmation that Bush did not actually report for duty in person at the Texas Air National Guard on any of these days. In addition, no one in the Texas Air Guard at the time, from the top command down, has stepped forward to say they saw Bush in person on a single day between May 22 and July 30, 1973 – just as no one saw Bush during his three month assignment in Alabama.

Instead, Bush in fact was credited with 35 "gratuitous" inactive Air Force Reserve points – in other words, non-attendance inactive Reserve credit time. The proof that this time was "gratuitous" is the absence of any Bush duty time of any kind on his official Texas Air National Guard record all the way from the May 26 1972 entry of 22 pilot duty days for the prior year. This is because "gratuitous" time does not count as scheduled Texas Air Guard duty. This leaves Bush without a single legitimate Texas Air National Guard service day for his fifth and sixth years of service to his Texas Air National Guard discharge on October 1, 1973 – a critical fact that has been misunderstood in several previous reports of this period of Bush's service.

On October 1, 1973 – fully eight months short of his full six-year service obligation and scheduled discharge on May 26, 1974 – Bush was prematurely discharged with honors from the Texas Air Guard, in spite of his failure to report in person for any for duty over the prior 18 months. This is the very last entry on his official half-page Texas Air Guard service record. Another Reserve archive record released under our FOIA request goes on to indicate eventual final inactive Reserve discharge with honors in November 1974, but civilian Bush was attending Harvard Business School as a full-time student by that time.

There was no record received under our FOIA request that indicate any more Reserve credit beyond July 30, 1973. This is also puzzling, but does not add any further insight into the fractured Texas Air National Guard attendance pattern after April 1972.


Anyone seeking to be President of the United States and its Commander in Chief, and who has campaigned specifically on a promise to restore honor and integrity to the office, strengthen the military, and tell the plain truth, should be prepared to discuss his past record of service to his country. Candidate Bush has a duty to the American people, as well as his fellow military comrades-in-arms, to fully and accurately answer all of these grave questions about his exceedingly convenient and prematurely short military service.

Bush's available service records raise very serious questions that reflect heavily on his qualifications for President. By disclosing the full contents of his official service record, Bush could clear up the cloud of questions that still linger 32 years after his first oath to the United States.


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