Put aside the Bush-Rice-Clarke 9/11 commission fiasco aside for a moment. Please focus on something noted journalist Arnaud De Borchgrave said on Fox two weeks ago right after the pre-election Spanish bombings: “I think the next attack inside the United States will be to use shoulder-launched missiles to shoot down three planes. That will sink the world’s economy.”

Such an attack inside the US would indeed be devastating. It would effectively end all air traffic and commerce until a sure-fire defense system was implemented.

Who would get on a plane if it looked like these fanatical Radical Muslims - our enemy in this war - could easily launch a Stinger and blow your plane up?

After 9/11 our national economy was ravaged for over a year. The airline industry was severely damaged - and still has not totally recovered.

But simultaneous shoot-downs would be even worse economically. No one would fly; layoffs would ensue. The ripple effect would spread nationally and world-wide.

Such an attack could cripple the economy for years.

Could it happen?


Two weeks ago while in Las Vegas to play in a baseball tournament, a friend offered to take me to the gun show which was in town for the weekend. Although my schedule prohibited it, this fellow told me something that sent chills up my spine, “At this gun show, if you talk carefully to the right people, you can buy a Stinger missile.”

“You’re kidding me, right?”

“No, I am serious. Once the dealers are certain you are not from ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) or some other government agency, you can buy one!”

Coupled together with de Borchgrave’s prediction - and the effective use of Stingers by these Radical Muslims in Afghanistan and now in Iraq - it is clear that we must assume they will use these dreaded weapons here in the United States.

So what can and should we do?

Last week, the NEW YORK TIMES published a very, very hopeful report entitled : “ Missile Defense for Airliners Is Possible Soon, Makers Say.”

Author Philp Shenon wrote, “ Government contractors who were
asked to find a way to protect passenger jets from small
shoulder-fired missiles in Al Qaeda's arsenal have
determined that some planes could be outfitted with
antimissile technology as early as this summer, far sooner
than the Bush administration has suggested was possible.

“The contractors' assessment, revealed in recent statements
at industry gatherings and in interviews with executives,
is likely to increase pressure on the administration to
begin installing antimissile devices, particularly on
larger planes flying to foreign destinations where Al Qaeda
terror cells pose a clear threat. “

The technology has been installed on military planes for
years, offering laser-jamming equipment and decoy flares to
deflect small missiles that are known to be in Al Qaeda's

We MUST do this ASAP!!!

"Can we do it in 90 to 120 days and protect the aircraft?
Absolutely," said Paul Handwerker, a business development
executive at BAE Systems, a British military supplier that
is leading one of three groups of contractors selected by
the Department of Homeland Security in January to develop
the technology for passenger jets.

Mr. Handwerker said that while he agreed with the reasoning
behind the government's timetable, the company's engineers
"would find a way to do it much faster" if the request was

Jack Pledger, an executive who oversees antimissile systems
for Northrop Grumman, another contractor selected for the
program, said that laser-jamming devices installed by
Northrop on military planes could be quickly converted to
passenger jets. "We could do it right now," Mr. Pledger
said. "If it became necessary to provide this system
immediately, we're ready."

MEMO to G.W. Bush, Congress and the 9/11 Commission: GET GOING ON THIS - TODAY!!!!

Let us not repeat the mistakes leading up to 9/11. Let us get these devices into mass production and put them on every single flying craft in this country and all those coming into this country, too.

Nothing should be allowed to fly if it does not have this protection.


1) The Dick Clarke controversy indeed is hurting G.W. Bush: the new NEWSWEEK poll shows that Bush has lost 8 points on his positive rating for his handling of the War on Terror since this question was last polled one month ago. And Mr. Bush has lost 13 points on this question in the last two months.

This explains the furious reaction by White House staff to discredit Mr. Clarke. They feel that Clarke’s charges go “to the heart” of Bush’s re-election strategy: his handling of the 9/11 disaster.

2) National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice has become an issue now - and it is hurting the Bush image. White House refusal to allow her to testify in public and under oath before the 9/11 Commission is hurting Bush. The question people are asking - naturally - is: “What are they hiding?”

The invocation of the constitutional term Executive Privilege - while entirely appropriate - now connotes ‘cover-up’ - thanks to Nixon and Watergate.

Rice - and the White House - dug themselves a hole and can’t get out of it. And the more TV appearances Rice makes - like 60 Minutes last night - only makes it worse. People wonder: “if she can go on TV all the time why won’t she go under oath in front of the 9/11 commission?”

One unintended result: many of the 9/11 families - including some of the ones who voted for Bush in 2000 - are turning against Bush and may become important players in this year’s election. They were initially stunned when Bush himself tried to prevent the creation of the commission in the first place. Then they were put off by the stalling and refusal to allow the commission to see the PDFs (President’s Daily Briefs) and other key documents. The White House stalling and delaying also has made people wonder, “What are they hiding?”

And this is cutting into Bush’s key re-election attribute: his handling of the post 9/11 events.

3) Am currently half way through Clarke’s book - AGAINST ALL ENEMIES. So far it is riveting and encompasses the rising antipathy in the Muslim world against the west and against the United States. Clarke is no dove and no liberal; he castigates previous administrations for not hitting back when we have been attacked. He was always pushing for both bombing and covert Ops to attack radical Muslims.

4) On that subject, as has been previously written in this space, the so-called War on Terror is a total misnomer! Terror is the weapon - like guns, grenades and bombs. In WWII did FDR declare a war on “guns, grenades and bombs”? No! He rightly declared war on Nazi Germany and Imperialistic Japan.

Our enemies were not the German people but the Nazi philosophy. Similarly, the Japanese dictatorship was our target - not the Japanese people.

Today we need to re-define this misnamed War on Terror. Those who have repeatedly attacked us are ‘radical Muslims’ or ‘fundamentalist Muslims.’ This particular strain of Islam is our enemy - not all Muslims. These adherents of fundamentalism want to kill all non-believers and establish a world-wide Caliphate - or Muslim government.

So, the present enemy should be properly identified: we are fighting the War Against Radical Islam. Period.

5) How does CIA Director George Tenet survive so many screw-ups and cover-ups? It is amazing that not one head has rolled because of 9/11, the failure to capture Osama or to find any WMD in Iraq.

What keeps Tenet in power?

6) Conclusion: the Clarke book has further damaged President Bush’s credibility - especially coming on the heels of David Kay’s no-WMD pronouncement two months ago.

With job growth languishing, Team Bush had hoped to focus the 2004 election on the President’s foreign policy expertise and handling of the post-9/11 period. But Clarke and Kay and so many other revelations are undercutting that strategy.

Team Bush is reeling today. Their only consolation is that it is still a long, long way until November. And John Kerry will wear badly.


While Mel Gibson’s movie - THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST - soars to unprecedented box office heights, there is another passion that is still undetected in the American electorate: the pro or con passion of this years voters. An explanation:

The new NEWSWEEK poll - out this weekend - shows Bush and Kerry tied at 48% each among registered voters. (Pollsters will tell you a better measure is of ‘likely’ voters.) Yes, Ralph Nader gets 2% when he is added in.

A Bush supporter might ask this question, “How can we only be tied with the single most liberal Senator? How can our President - after no primary opposition - and with $170 million already raised and $60 million already spent - only be tied with a lefty from Massachusetts? How can G.W. Bush not be ahead of John Kerry - especially when Kerry has just had an awful 10 days ranging from his off-mike comments to his claim that foreign leaders are for him?”

The answer is twofold:

1) The anti-Bush passion is stronger than any other anti-incumbent passion including among the Nixon-haters;

2) The pro-Bush passion is waning and is much, much weaker than it was in 2000. (In fact, the 2000 pro-Bush passion was really anti-Gore/Clinton passion.)

It is axiomatic in politics that voters vote against someone more than they vote for someone.

But this year what the polls cannot yet measure is the Passion Differential between the white-hot anti-Bush passion and the lukewarm pro-Bush sentiment. This differential is Bush’s biggest problem.

Stemming in part from the 2000 Florida recount, the growing hatred for Bush is now electric. Iraq’s non-existent WMD and the souring economy and Bush’s seemingly arrogant attitude have fueled this anti-Bush passion to a degree unseen before in American politics. You can bet that every minority voter, every hard-core Democrat will vote on November 2, 2004. All the Deaniacs and Edwards supporters and yes, even most of today’s Naderites, will hold their noses and abandon their own preferences to vote for Kerry if only to get rid of Bush.

On the other side of the equation - the pro-Bush side - the GOP/conservative base is depressed today. He has turned off many of what should be his core supporters through his immigration proposal, his deficit spending, his Mars plan, his increased funding for NEA, his Medicare plan and now the idea that improper pressure was brought to bear to hide the true costs of that new entitlement program. More and more you hear talk of some conservative voters simply ‘not voting’ in November. They are never going to vote for Kerry but they just might not vote at all.

Let us say that Kerry - with the anti-Bush passion much stronger today than in 2000 - gets 2-3% more vote from his base than Gore did while Bush gets 1-2% less from his base and - presto - Kerry will win.

This Passion Differential is not being measured today in public polls. But it is a fact - and it explains why the White House has gone ‘negative’ already. They are in trouble - Big Trouble - and they know it. Their calculation: only a slash and burn strategy which virtually destroys Kerry can rescue their own campaign. That is why we have the President himself doing the attacking. This is a risky strategy because it will inflate the President’s already high negatives. In the NEWSWEEK poll already 50% of voters “want someone new in the White House.” Such a high number reflects the President’s desperation.

Yes, they will hope for job creation. And they will press on the Pakistani government to help find Osama. But - even with those developments - the Bush campaign has very little positive news to campaign on.

There are seven and one half months to go; much will happen between now and November including the very real possibility of a Spain-like last-minute terrorist attack. But the dye is already cast: Bush has frittered away all the good will he earned post-9/11. He is now back to his base support. And his oppponents will do anything to reverse the results of the 2000 election.


As the presidential race unfolds it may become more and more difficult to distinguish between truth and fiction - and between the ‘real’ men running for office and the caricatures their opponents want us to believe.

But let me pain a picture of John Kerry - the man - not John Kerry as he wants you to see him:

John Kerry is the consummate phony, pseudo-intellectual leftist who has scrambled all his career to hide his real liberalism as the country has moved steadily toward the right.

Kerry is a total hypocrite. His ‘we leave no one behind’ credo in this campaign is a joke. This from the Senator who used the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIAs to ram through normalization of relations by writing off the POWs his own committee acknowledged were left behind in 1973.

His campaigning around the country with Vietnam vets is yet another example of how gullible many voters are. For veterans to think a leftist like Kerry is one of them is a Big Mistake. He is anti-soldier and anti-military. He always has been. Yes, he went to Vietnam; and yes he got the hell out ASAP, too. One wonders if it wasn’t just part of his plan to be a newer version of JFK - just as G. W. Bush tries to copy - not his father - but Ronald Reagan.

Kerry is not Irish - yet has pawned himself off to Irish-Americans in Boston as if he was Irish.

Now he suddenly discovered 15 months ago that he is part Jewish - just in time to run for President against Joe Lieberman and to raise money from rich Jewish Democrats.

John Kerry is trying to be all things to all people. And guess what? That just cannot work.

Yesterday in West Virginia he admitted that he voted against the $87 billion for the occupation. And he admitted he voted for it, too!

That is the exact reason why Senators rarely make it to the White House. The language of Senatorial procedure and the back-and-forth voting gives so much ammo to a Senator’s opponent that he can rarely survive. The Bush-Cheney campaign is now attacking Kerry’s record - and effectively. And the truth is that Kerry has always been ‘ too cute by half’ in voting Left but trying to appear a Centrist. In fact, he is the most Liberal of all 100 Senators!

The fact that he is now tied or ahead of G.W. Bush in a country that is dominated by Republicans is a surprise. The GOP has the White House, House, Senate and majority of Governorships and is gaining more control of State legislatures, too. Being a Republican is no longer a ‘dirty’ word; in fact it is a good thing! Yet somehow this McGovernite is leading in the polls?

Yes, he is. Partly because the economy is not doing as well as was anticipated, partly because Iraq is a negative - and partly because George W. Bush is proving to be such a weak candidate that he almost makes his father look good. His immigration policy, deficits, NEA funding increase, Mars Mission, State of the Union speech and Meet the Press performance have all combined to make this previously invulnerable President into an embattled candidate.

The best thing Bush has going for him is that half the voters don’t yet know Kerry. And to know him is not to like him. He is a phony - plain and simple. Yes, he is a weasel trying to hide his extremely liberal record. He is clever, dangerous and will do anything to win this election.

But most of all he is a total phony to all who know him. He is rude, arrogant and condescending.

Bush’s best bet is that this side of Kerry emerges in the next 8 months.


The prospect of a fusion - Democrat-Independent - ticket this fall just increased with yesterday’s carefully revealed admission by Senator John McCain that he would “entertain” an offer from his friend, Senator John Kerry, to join his ticket.

This was first predicted in this space last April 9. It is a natural joining together of two mean, cruel, no-holds-barred strivers who will do anything to get power.

Plus they both loathe President George W. Bush. McCain hates Bush going back to the 200 race - especially the dirty attacks against McCain by Bush surrogates in the South Carolina primary.

Kerry signaled his hatred for Bush - and all Republicans - yesterday with his off-microphone remarks about the “crooked lying” people running the GOP campaign.

McCain leaked this out because he now sees Bush heading steadily downhill - and McCain thinks it might just be time to jump off a losing bandwagon onto a winning one. (Plus, McCain has no loyalty to anyone. He has no compunction about ditching the GOP. He only cares about himself and his massive ego.)

A Kerry-McCain ticket would be almost unbeatable: Kerry will have a near-united-against-Bush Democrat Party. McCain is the hero of the Independents - and the national news media. Combined together a Democrat-Independent ticket almost cannot lose.

President Bush may have a united GOP. But there is a decided lack of passion for him these days among those who ought to support him. He has ticked off many with his immigration proposals, his deficit spending and his attempts to ‘moderate’ his image.

Meanwhile the ‘passion index’ on the anti-Bush side is running at a fever pitch. They hate Bush - and will do anything to beat him.

Kerry-McCain together may be just their ticket.


This column is not for or against any candidate. Rather it is dispassionate political analysis and an effort to help explain Campaign 2004. The writer's personal views do not enter the analysis.

Panic has gripped the Bush White House and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign team. Oh, they won't admit it. But actions speak larger than words. Let us look at the most recent developments:

1) Jobs: the very, very poor jobs-creation report issued last Friday morning has undercut the President's ability to trumpet his tax cuts as the centerpiece of any economic recovery. With only 21,000 new jobs created in the entire nation - when economists and Wall Street had anticipated 125,000 - the Bush campaign is deprived of the podium to talk of a marvelous economic recovery. As odd as it sounds there actually is a good, strong recovery. But the one awful consequence of our dynamic economy is that companies can get more productivity out of fewer workers thanks to computers, automation and more efficient management. Part of these 'savings' is the new 2004 campaign buzzword: outsourcing. This may yet bedevil the Bush Administration - even though it is not their fault.

2) Ohio: this normally solid GOP state has lost 193,600 manufacturing jobs since the Bush Administration began. Polls show it neck and neck between Bush and Kerry. If the Democrats can win Ohio they can win the election. In fact, they will win the election if they win Ohio. GOP presidents always win Ohio. The very fact that Bush is in trouble there highlights how perilous his re-election is.

3) Florida: the latest poll there shockingly shows Kerry ahead 49%-43%. This is a total stunner - and has the White House in a tizzy. The President has been there 19 times since taking office. His brother is the very popular Governor who was just overwhelmingly re-elected 17 months ago. The Floridian economy is growing. And yet somehow Kerry is in the lead. Why? The White House wants to know.

4) Rust Belt: the swath of states from Pennsylvania to Michigan, including the aforementioned Ohio and also Illinois are all fertile territory for the Democrats this year. Precisely because of the loss of manufacturing jobs, these states are leaning toward the Democrats this year. Simply stated, Bush cannot win in the Electoral College if he loses all these states.

5) Attacks: the dire jobs and electoral situation explains why we are seeing something never before seen in American politics: an incumbent President personally - by name - attacking his Democratic opponent eight months before the election. Since last Tuesday’s clinching Super Tuesday sweep by John Kerry, President Bush has been going hard after Kerry and his Senate voting record. Normally these attacks are left to surrogates - especially the Vice President - and TV commercials. But for the President of the United States himself to even utter his opponent’s name is a departure from precedent. It tells us that Team Bush believes it cannot defend their economic record and instead wants to shift the focus to Kerry.

In any election the goal is always to make the other guy the ‘issue’ in the campaign. Then it is easy to demonize him and get the voters to vote ‘against’ him.

Right now the Democrats have had two and one half months of making Bush the issue. And as they have done so the President’s numbers have sunk to all-time lows. So he and his team are now desperately trying to shift the national focus off of him and back onto Kerry. It is their hope that the country - more conservative than ever before politically - will not accept a Kennedy clone from Massachusetts.

The problem is that there is an underlying sourness in our nation. Perhaps fueled by economic worries, 60% of the people in a new AP poll believe the nation is on the ‘wrong track.’ That is an alarming number for an incumbent president in an election year.

In fact, in most polls taken this week Mr. Bush is hovering around 44%. That is the base GOP vote. He cannot win if that is the sum total of his support. At present he barely wins the male vote; loses the female vote and is getting creamed among Independents.

Indeed, it is fair to ask: is it already slipping away for Mr. Bush?

Is this the explanation for TV commercials which try to shift the focus back to 9/11?

Is this the explanation for the sudden attacks on Kerry?

Indeed, panic is sweeping the upper echelons of the White House. And as their panic increases, so too will the attacks on Kerry.

The White House wants to pain Kerry as another Mike Dukakis, whom the first George Bush savaged in 1988. But guess what? Kerry is no Dukakis. Kerry is a tough, mean, no-holds barred campaigner who has not lost a race since the 1970's.

And the more the White House hits Kerry, the more Kerry hits back.

As long as the economic and jobs situation remains sour, Kerry can survive the attacks.

Can the President?


Now that the primaries are effectively over and John Kerry has won the Democratic Presidential nomination, everyone in politics is talking about the just-unveiled Bush-Cheney '04 campaign ads.

Every cable TV talking head, columnist, pundit and self-styled 'expert' is judging these advertisements. And you can even see these 3 commercials - plus last month's first 'internet' ad - online and judge for yourself.

Here are some observations about the entire subject:

1) In the Presidential race where both candidates get enormous amounts of free air time on the news all day and night long, TV commercials are vastly over-rated. Twenty years ago - before cable took over the nation - commercials were crucial in lesser races because the candidates were fighting just to be seen and heard. But a presidential nominee gets tons of news coverage - for free.

2) America has changed - radically: Many homes now have access to literally hundreds of satellite or cable TV stations. This means that the 'reach' of political ads is diffused. Fewer people see them.

3) American voters are also more 'immune' to the effects of commercials. Call it cynicism but voters have by now seen literally thousands of similar ads all crafted by the same handful of over-hyped 'campaign consultants' who use a basic formula to make political commercials. Mixed in with zillions of spots for kitty litter, lite beer and lingerie the actual power of these political ads is greatly reduced.

4) The new McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law mandates that all campaign ads have the candidate's voice on the spot claiming, "I am so-and-so and I have approved this commercial." The intended result of this is to reduce so-called 'attack ads' or 'negative ads.' The feeling being that a candidate will be afraid to be so closely linked to a spot trashing his opponent. Thus, it is predicted, ads this year - the first year under this law - will be more 'tame.'

5) All of the political world - including Team Kerry - is awaiting the beginning of the Bush Air War. It is almost like Saddam and his minions a year ago awaiting the inevitable 'Shock & Awe' bombing of Baghdad. With well over $100 million in the bank ear-marked for pre-convention TV advertising, the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign has a lot riding on these commercials.


1) These long-awaited TV spots are going to have much less impact than everyone anticipates.

2) Because everyone knew they were coming - especially the next round of anti-Kerry ads - Team Kerry will be ready to rebut them with their own spate of ads. And the rule now in politics is simple: any charge left unanswered is a charge that sticks. But if it is immediately answered it is neutralized. Kerry has learned from Clinton's 1992 War Room mentality. You'll notice all through this primary process that every time Kerry is attacked - by either a fellow Democrat or by a GOP official - Kerry is right on TV answering the charge in the very same news cycle - and firing back another charge.

3) Bush-Cheney should not have to reply on TV ads to save their presidency. If - after three years in office - things aren't headed in the right direction, TV commercials won't make a dime's worth of difference.

4) So-called 'negative ads' are the key to politics. Why? Because they show an opponent's real record - the part he or she does not wants the voters to know. McCain-Feingold's attempt to limit negative ads is all part of Congress' Incumbent Protection Act - a not-so-subtle attempt to keep their jobs forever. Limiting attacks on themselves only helps them keep their jobs longer. It is simply wrong to in any way limit the exposure of someone's public record.

5) Fall-out: as this column is being written it is clear that the national news media is going into a frenzy over today's revelations that 9/11 families and New York firefighters are up in arms over the use of Ground Zero photographs in these Bush ads. This may very well turn into a negative story for Bush-Cheney '04 - and they may have to back-track and remove those images from the spots.

6) Similarly, the soo-to-appear anti-Kerry spots will be closely vetted by the media. If there is one mistake, exaggeration or error, the ad will turn out to hurt the President's campaign more than Kerry.

7) Again, I repeat: this who focus on these ads is over-rated. The campaign is about the economy, jobs and Iraq. TV commercials won't and don't matter - except as a negative story.

Well, we have 8 more months of this. It is going to be a long, long year!