Documentary Planned On Questions Surrounding Bush’s Military Service

The New York Observer reports that Meghan O’Hara, who has worked with Michael Moore on previous documentaries, is working on a documentary about the controversy over George Bush’s military service:

The former president was originally admitted into the Texas Air National Guard more than 40 years ago, in 1968, with the American military already deeply engaged in the war in Vietnam. In 1973, Mr. Bush officially departed the Guard, without having seen any combat, to attend Harvard Business School. What, exactly, transpired in between has since become the subject of much heated debate.

Questions about Mr. Bush’s service in the Guard—did his family use its political connections to help him avoid combat in Vietnam? Did he eventually skirt the requirements of his service?—first began to surface during his successful 1994 run for the governorship in Texas.

Several years later, in the fall of 2004, with Mr. Bush locked in a heated presidential reelection campaign against U.S. Senator John Kerry, the topic exploded into a four-alarm national controversy, thanks to a flawed story on the subject by CBS News’ 60 Minutes II. The story, produced by Mary Mapes and reported by Dan Rather, featured the first on-camera interview with Ben Barnes, the former Texas lieutenant governor, explaining his role in helping Mr. Bush leapfrog a long waiting list to land a coveted spot in the Texas Air National Guard. The story also featured a number of documents ostensibly detailing Mr. Bush’s failure to live up to the requirements of his military duty.

Afterward, reporters and bloggers challenged the veracity of the documents, and CBS News was unable to fully verify the origin or legitimacy of the documents in question, resulting in the so-called Memo-gate scandal and the eventual dismissal of several top CBS News producers, including Ms. Mapes.

Since then, questions about Mr. Bush’s military service have largely dropped out of the national conversation. That said, intense interest in the topic continues to smolder in certain corners of American military and journalistic life.

In 2005, Ms. Mapes wrote a book about Mr. Bush’s military service and the controversy surrounding her reporting on it, called Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power.

Unfortunately this is a little late. With George Bush out of office and not likely to run for any other office, the political significance of this  (and potential audience of such a documentary) is considerably reduced. It does remain of some historical interest to clarify these issues. Unfortunately the story died during the 2004 campaign when questions were raised regarding the documents given to Rather by one source but the case against Bush did not rely on the questionable memos. The story should have been pursued in 2004 based upon the evidence beyond the questionable documents.

Conservative Religious Leaders Issue Declaration Opposing Gay Marriage Rights and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Conservatives love to play the victim, even when they are engaged in denying the rights of others. A group of  conservative religious leaders have issued the Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience. This declaration says “they oppose laws that would compel them to recognize gay unions or marriages, among other social issues.”

The document says, “We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other antilife act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent.”

The document’s language also takes aim at other gay rights laws, including a recently approved law that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of federally recognized hate crimes and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would ban workplace discrimination against gay men, lesbians and transgender people.

Social conservatives have argued that such measures would have a chilling effect on religious liberties.

The declaration confuses the issues and clearly shows why we need separation of church and state to defend religious liberties. The point of changing the law to allow marriage equality is to provide gays the same right to marriage that the rest of us enjoy. While gays would legally be allowed to be married, this would not compel any church or religious institution to perform gay marriages, participate in abortions, or any other acts that violate their religious principles.

The principle of separation of church and state, which the religious right often denies, is what protects churches from participating in activities they oppose. In return, churches and other religious bodies not have the right to impose their religious views upon others.

Bush Discussed Invasion of Iraq With British Officials Two Years Before War

George Bush took advantage of the 9/11 attack to invade Iraq even though there was no connection. There has already been considerable evidence that Bush and other neoconservatives had wanted to invade Iraq long before the 9/11 attack and ceased upon this as an excuse. The Times of London reports on an enquiry which as found that American officials were secretly discussing an invasion of Iraq with British officials two years before it occurred:

British and American officials secretly discussed overthrowing Saddam Hussein two years before the invasion of Iraq, the public inquiry into the war was told today.

Foreign Office officials said they feared that United Nations sanctions against Iraq were losing support amid growing concern about weapons of mass destruction in 2001.

Sir Peter Ricketts, then chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, told the opening day of the inquiry that he was aware of a “background noise” of discussion in the United States about overthrowing the Iraqi regime after the election of President George W. Bush.

He said a review of the Iraq policy was already under way in Whitehall in anticipation of the arrival of the new Bush Administration.

Media Matters Debunks Glenn Beck Conspiracy About Global Warming Theory Based Upon Stolen E-Mail

A few days ago I noted how conservative bloggers were distorting material in stolen emails to support their conspiracy theory that global warming is a hoax. If there is a conspiracy theory going around in the right wing, Glenn Beck is bound to pick it up. Media Matters has reported on the distortions being spread by Beck.

Update: More on the issue from Climate Progress.

Republicans Considering Purity Resolution

It was bound to happen. Cults just cannot resist demanding purity. The Caucus reports that Republicans are considering a purity resolution:

Republican leaders are circulating a resolution listing 10 positions Republican candidates should support to demonstrate that they “espouse conservative principles and public policies” that are in opposition to “Obama’s socialist agenda.” According to the resolution, any Republican candidate who broke with the party on three or more of these issues– in votes cast, public statements made or answering a questionnaire – would be penalized by being denied party funds or the party endorsement.

The ten items are:

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care;

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

(4) We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.

Republicans sure have not adhered very well to number one when in office. Number two is nonsensical considering that Obama is not proposing government-run health care (as the American Medical Association pointed out in their endorsement of health care reform).  At least they aren’t requiring a pledge of support for torture, although that certainly is a common characteristic of pure Republicans.