Downing Street Memo picks up traction

Not to revisit recent topics, but I must say that I really am amazed that the mainstream press has finally started talking about the Downing Street Memo. More than two months after the memo was leaked, the so-called “liberal” media has finally gotten around to covering it, albeit not with much enthusiasm.

Not that they came to it on their own, mind you. Bloggers have bee covering it since it came out and congress has taken note with many House and Senate Republicans demanding an explanation from the White House. Democracy For America even has a petition with more than a half a million signatures calling for an independent investigation, yet somehow, up to now, the major news sources have fallen silent.

When bloggers, and the United States Congress cover a political scandal like the Downing Street Memo long before the major news sources we are supposed to be trusting for independent, objective reporting, we have to start asking ourselves about the integrity of our Nation’s media. We are living in a time when multinational conglomerates control both our politicians and our news sources. They used their money to finance the campaigns of their pocketed politicians, and their news channels to ensure the public maintains a favorable opinion of them. While voters maintain an illusion of the electoral final say, the truth is a disturbing flourish of Orwellian smoke and mirrors.

Sign the petition! >
Read the Memo! >

Gannon Guckert Gate

Since George W. Bush took office his secrecy with respect to the media has been unprecedented. He rarely holds press conferences, and on the rare occasions when he does, his answers are constantly obfuscated by double-speak and misdirection. Thus it is for good reason that the blogosphere and independent media became suspicious when little known reporter Jeff Gannon was called on by President Bush at one of these rare conferences, and ended his question with the softball: “How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?” referring to Senator Hillary Clinton and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

After some digging, it turned out that “Jeff Gannon” is really an alias for an individual named James D. Guckert, who represented a conservative news site called “Talon News”. Somehow, within a short time of entering “journalism,” Guckert, masquerading as Gannon was able to get credentialed and attend numerous White House briefings, where he lobed softball questions at White House officials. According to DemocraticUnderground.com, “Gannon was actually in the White House as early as February 28, 2003 — a month before Talon News even existed”.

Whenever one goes digging, the most interesting details usually buried the deepest, and this story is no exception. It turns out that by day, Guckert was merely a half-credentialed “journalist” planted by the Bush Administration to ask easy questions, but by night was transformed into a high dollar male escort and gay porn star! Guckert appeared on a wide variety of websites that feature homosexual pornography, including HotMilitaryStud.com and MilitaryEscorts.com. These sites have now been taken down and are listed for sale in the Adult/Porn category.

One would think that when the White House plants a fake reporter who is also a gay porn star and male escort, the religious right would be outraged, but interestingly they have not. In an article by Bill Berkowitz entitled “Christian Right Mum on Gannon Affair Why have the “traditional family values” folks erected a wall of silence around the Gannon scandal?” a long list of religious news organizations and Christian political action committees were contacted, with not so much as one willing to comment on the scandal. Apparently, the same individuals who are so up in arms against gay rights have no problem with the President allowing a homosexual male prostitute to meander around the west wing of the White House so long as it serves their agenda.

This scandal does not seem to be going away nearly as quickly as the President would like. With so much buzz in the blogosphere, even extremely conservative media sources such as Fox News have been browbeaten into covering it. What is truly disturbing to me is not the fact that Guckert is a male escort and gay porn star, but the fact that the Bush Administration has taken to planting fake journalists who simply repeat GOP talking points and ask questions that advance the neo conservative agenda.

Christian Right Mum on Gannon Affair
A Man Called Jeff… More than you really want to see of Guckert

Bush Audio tapes Leaked

The quotes below are taken from a New York TImes article from Feb 19, 2005. Doug Wead is a personal friend of George Bush. During the course of writing a book about then future president he secretly recorded some private conversations.

NOTE: We are currently trying to acquire the entire transcripts of these tapes, as well as the audio files themselves. Check back regularly for updates.

>>Variously earnest, confident or prickly in those conversations, Bush weighs the political risks and benefits of his religious faith, discusses campaign strategy and comments on rivals. John McCain “will wear thin,” he predicted. John Ashcroft, he confided, would be a “very good Supreme Court pick” or a “fabulous” vice president. And in exchanges about his handling of questions from the news media about his past, Bush appears to have acknowledged trying marijuana.

>>Preparing to meet Christian leaders in September 1998, Bush told Mr. Wead, “As you said, there are some code words. There are some proper ways to say things, and some improper ways.” He added, “I am going to say that I’ve accepted Christ into my life. And that’s a true statement.”

>>But Bush also repeatedly worried that prominent evangelical Christians would not like his refusal “to kick gays.” At the same time, he was wary of unnerving secular voters by meeting publicly with evangelical leaders. When he thought his aides had agreed to such a meeting, Bush complained to Karl Rove, his political strategist, “What the hell is this about?”

>>Bush, who has acknowledged a drinking problem years ago, told Mr. Wead on the tapes that he could withstand scrutiny of his past. He said it involved nothing more than “just, you know, wild behavior.” He worried, though, that allegations of cocaine use would surface in the campaign, and he blamed his opponents for stirring rumors. “If nobody shows up, there’s no story,” he told Mr. Wead, “and if somebody shows up, it is going to be made up.” But when Mr. Wead said that Bush had in the past publicly denied using cocaine, Bush replied, “I haven’t denied anything.”

>>He refused to answer reporters’ questions about his past behavior, he said, even though it might cost him the election. Defending his approach, Bush said: “I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.”

>>He mocked Vice President Al Gore for acknowledging marijuana use. “Baby boomers have got to grow up and say, yeah, I may have done drugs, but instead of admitting it, say to kids, don’t do them,” he said.

>>Bush threatened that if his rival Steve Forbes attacked him too hard during the campaign and won, both Bush, then the Texas governor, and his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, would withhold their support. “He can forget Texas. And he can forget Florida. And I will sit on my hands,” Bush said.

>>Bush also regularly gripes about the barbs of the press and his rivals. And he is cocky at times. “It’s me versus the world,” he told Mr. Wead. “The good news is, the world is on my side. Or more than half of it.”

>>”I believe tomorrow is going to change Texas politics forever,” he told Mr. Wead. “The top three offices right below me will be the first time there has been a Republican in that slot since the Civil War. Isn’t that amazing? And I hate to be a braggart, but they are going to win for one reason: me.”

>>When Mr. Wead warned him that “power corrupts,” for example, Bush told him not to worry: “I have got a great wife. And I read the Bible daily. The Bible is pretty good about keeping your ego in check.”

>>Preparing to meet with influential Christian conservatives, Bush tested his lines with Mr. Wead. “I’m going to tell them the five turning points in my life,” he said. “Accepting Christ. Marrying my wife. Having children. Running for governor. And listening to my mother.”

>>…apparently ruling out potential vice presidents including Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and Gen. Colin L. Powell, who favored abortion rights. Picking any of them could turn conservative Christians away from the ticket, Bush

>>…”Look, James, I got to tell you two things right off the bat. One, I’m not going to kick gays, because I’m a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?”

>>…convention of the Christian Coalition, a conservative political group: “This crowd uses gays as the enemy. It’s hard to distinguish between fear of the homosexual political agenda and fear of homosexuality, however.”

>>”This is an issue I have been trying to downplay,” Bush said. “I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays.”

>> “No, what I said was, I wouldn’t fire gays.”

>>Bush had already identified one gay-rights issue where he found common ground with conservative Christians: same-sex marriage. “Gay marriage, I am against that. Special rights, I am against that,” Bush told Mr. Wead, five years before a Massachusetts court brought the issue to national attention.

>>”Sovereignty. The issue is huge. The mere mention of Kofi Annan in the U.N. caused the crowd to go into a veritable fit. The coalition wants America strong and wants the American flag flying overseas, not the pale blue of the U.N

>>”I don’t like it either,” Bush said of the Clinton investigations. “But on the other hand, I think he has disgraced the nation.”

>>When Mr. Wead warned that he had heard reporters talking about Bush’s “immature” past, Bush said, “That’s part of my schtick, which is, look, we have all made mistakes.”

>>He said he learned “a couple of really good lines” from Mr. Robison, the Texas pastor: “What you need to say time and time again is not talk about the details of your transgressions but talk about what I have learned. I’ve sinned and I’ve learned.”

>>”I said, ‘James’ – he stopped – I said, ‘I did some things when I was young that were immature,’ ” Bush said. “He said, ‘But have you learned?’ I said, ‘James, that’s the difference between me and the president. I’ve learned. I am prepared to accept the responsibility of this office.’ “By the summer of 1999, Bush was telling Mr. Wead his approach to such prying questions had evolved. “I think it is time for somebody to just draw the line and look people in the eye and say, I am not going to participate in ugly rumors about me, and blame my opponents, and hold the line, and stand up for a system that will not allow this kind of crap to go on.”

>>…used illegal drugs in the past …”I am just not going to answer those questions. And it might cost me the election,”

>>”It’s unbelievable,” Bush said, reciting various rumors about his past that his aides had picked up from reporters. “They just float sewer out there.”

>>”I like Ashcroft a lot,” he told Mr. Wead in November 1998. “He is a competent man. He would be a good Supreme Court pick. He would be a good attorney general. He would be a good vice president.”

>>When Mr. Wead predicted an uproar if Mr. Ashcroft were appointed to the court because of his conservative religious views, Bush replied, “Well, tough.”

>>”I want Ashcroft to stay in there, and I want him to be very strong,” Bush said. ” I would love it to be a Bush-Ashcroft race. Only because I respect him. He wouldn’t say ugly things about me. And I damn sure wouldn’t say ugly things about him.”

>>Evangelicals were not going to like him, Bush said. “He’s too preppy,” Bush said, calling Mr. Forbes “mean spirited.”

“Steve Forbes is going to hear this message from me. I will do nothing for him if he does to me what he did to Dole. Period. There is going to be a consequence. He is not dealing with the average, you know, ‘Oh gosh, let’s all get together after it’s over.’ I will promise you, I will not help him. I don’t care.”

>>When Mr. Wead suggested in June 2000 that Mr. McCain’s popularity with Democrats and moderate voters might make him a strong vice presidential candidate, Bush almost laughed. “Oh, come on!” He added, “I don’t know if he helps us win.”

>>Bush could hardly contain his disdain for Mr. Gore, his Democratic opponent, at one point calling him “pathologically a liar.” His confidence in the moral purpose of his campaign to usher in “a responsibility era” never wavered, but he acknowledged that winning might require hard jabs. “I may have to get a little rough for a while,” he told Mr. Wead, “but that is what the old man had to do with Dukakis, remember?”

More as we try to acquire the transcripts….

Clarke’s al-Qaeda Threat Memo Leaked

Yeserday, the National Security Archive posted the widely-debated, but previously unavailable, January 25, 2001, memo from counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke to national security advisor Condoleezza Rice.

The document was central to debates in the 9/11 hearings over the Bush administration’s policies and actions on terrorism before September 11, 2001. Clarke’s memo requests an immediate meeting of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee to discuss broad strategies for combating al-Qaeda by giving counterterrorism aid to the Northern Alliance and Uzbekistan, expanding the counterterrorism budget and responding to the U.S.S. Cole attack.

Despite Clarke’s request, there was no Principals Committee meeting on al-Qaeda until September 4, 2001. The memo has been declassified for some time, but only became available yesterday.

Bush gives us the finger

Nobody is going to pretend that I am a fan of the Bush administration, but no matter what your party affiliation, or how you feel about his leadership, you have to admit that this video, which shows Bush flipping the bird, and then laughing about it, really does illustrate just how little class the man has.

Always wanting to keep Spiralbound clean, the decision to post an article with a video showing such a tasteless gesture was a somewhat difficult one. I did, however, decide to write it up for two reasons. First, I fundamentally believe that this shows us something important about the President. From his reluctantly withheld contempt for the UN, to his outright hatred of anything French, this is a man who sees the world in black and white terms, and genuinely feels that if you are not "with" him you’re not only "against" him, but that you are evil. I’m sure he issued the same immature gesture to the television when Hans Blix was reading his reports to the UN back before the war with Iraq.

Secondly, and much more simply, I believe that this shows a distinct lack of professionalism. Even though I don’t like it, this man represents my country, and me wherever he goes, and whatever he does. Even if he thinks it’s funny, it is not professional or appropriate. If you would like to see the video, you can click the picture above, or "Read More" to check it out.

Howard Dean speaks at Plymouth State University


Howard Dean Speaks at PSU from Cliff Pearson on Vimeo.

Today at 2:30 EST, on the eve of the most important election of my lifetime, Howard Dean came to Plymouth State University and delivered a most rousing speech. Since I work at the University, the staff handed me a Kerry sign and asked me stand right up front and wave it high for all the news media to see. This was great since it put me in a prime location to capture some pictures and video.

Even though we were all there to show our support for Kerry, I couldn’t help noticing how many Dean t-shirts, stickers and buttons were scattered throughout the audience. I have to admit that, watching him speak, I began feeling saddened that it wouldn’t be his name I’d be seeing on the ballot tomorrow. Maybe it’s because I’m a Vermonter, or maybe it’s just because I admire Howard Dean’s honesty and integrity, but he is, and always will be, my political hero! DEAN 2012!

World Apology

I would like to add my voice to the millions of Americans who wish to remain in good standing with the rest of the world by distancing themselves from the conservative radicals who are running this country. This morning a friend sent me a link to a website called sorryeverybody.com, and while I am deeply disturbed that it has become necessary for half of our country to broadcast our regret and disillusionment to the rest of the world, I am glad it is being done.

I would like to ask two things of the world community.

First, please accept my deepest apologies. I do not, in any way, identify with this county’s president, or those who elected him. I value and respect the opinions of other countries, and regret the erosion of US involvement in constructive, multilateral foreign policy.

Secondly, please don’t give up on us. Even though our president refuses to accept it, we are still a part of the world community, and other nations do have a voice with respect to US policies. There is a "global test" and we MUST pass it, or risk falling under a dictatorship worse than any our so-called leaders warn us about. Please continue to vocalize your disgust for this administration’s arrogant disregard for healthy international discourse.