Today’s Tinfoil Hat Link

Is Bush Wired?, a web site dedicated to exploring the odd bulges in GW Bush's jackets…was he wearing some sort of electronic prompter during the first debate?

I'd dismiss this as pure nutso fantasy but for this Salon article (ad view req.) which includes this tidbit:

“Repeated calls to the White House and the Bush national campaign office over a period of three days, inquiring about what the president may have been wearing on his back during the debate, and whether he had used an audio device at other events, went unreturned.”

The failure to deny it may be due to the view it's beneath contempt. Or…

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21 Responses to Today’s Tinfoil Hat Link

  1. Steve says:

    Could it be a bullet proof vest?

  2. Ruidh says:

    Steve, have you seen the photos? The bulge is between the sholder blades. Every bulletproof vest I;ve ever seen goes up to the back of the neck.

    But I do have to say it’s in an odd place if it is a wireless receiver. One would think that the small of the back would provide better cover for a receiver then the middle of the back.

  3. Ugh says:

    Someone pointed out the other day on another blog that it was for a wireless microphone, the ones on the podium being just for show. It was pointed out that the candidates voices didn’t fade in or out despite turning their heads while speaking.

  4. wcw says:

    The campaign has, however, denied it.

    Per Mark McKinnon, Media Director:

    I love this. Am tempted to say, ‘I cannot confirm or deny,’ and
    let the story get some legs. Or, how about, ‘Since we put the
    metal plate in his head, we have had some measure of success
    with audio transmissions to the President.’ Or, ‘Yeah, but it
    clearly broke down during the debate.’ Unfortunately, the truth
    is not nearly as interesting. The answer is, ‘The President has
    never been assisted by any audio signal.’

    If only someone had videotape of the purported D-Day broadcast.

  5. Chris says:

    I don’t think the idea that Bush was wired up during the debate is too plausible. Just look at the results.

    One of my students described the debate as coming across like an argument between a rational person and a senile old man. If Bush was getting instructions, he was badly served. Then again, it would give him something tangible to blame his stumbling around on, given his penchant for passing the buck…

  6. Nasi Lemak says:

    OK, I think the two recent tinfoil-hat threads need to breed here. Perhaps what is on his back is not an “audio signal” device but some sort of medical device? Perhaps this is related to the postponement of the (publicly released) physical?

    (i’ve tried to parse “never been assisted by any audio signal” but can’t see that any other signal would be of use.)

  7. Bill says:

    Nasi, I tried to parse the denial, and came up with a different possibility. The answer is, ‘The President has never been assisted by any audio signal.’ It’s such an odd way of saying “no,” that is sounds like legalese. As in, “Well, technically the signal was a digital comunication translated into audible wavelengths by the receiver taped to the President’s back, so we are technically correct in saying there was no audio signal.” Why can’t McKinnon just say “no” if he’s supposed to be the straight-forward one in the Administration?

  8. psetzer says:

    It could be a reciever, but it sure is a bit big for that. You can go to Target or Walmart and pick up an FM reciever, and tweaking one so that it picks up some other frequency. The thing would be about the size of a watch, at most. Airplane communication radios are in the frequency band just above FM radio, and there are plenty of frequencies not in use in the Coral Gables area, so just pick something like 120.15, just pop out the potentiometer and put in a resistor of about the right size, and then you’ve got a radio that will only pick up one frequency, which is nice if your listener is prone to fidgeting with little things like frequency selector knobs.

    Frankly, his performance was just too bad to have been coached, and If you’re going to hide something like that, just popping it in a pocket is more reasonable. More likely it would be some sort of bullet proof vest. The armor worn by troops in Iraq isn’t meant to be worn under normal clothes, and if you were for some reason wearing it under a normal suit, then you’d be really hot and very damn irritable. It protects you primarily by being thick and bulky. As for why he would wear such crap, it beats me. I don’t think that anybody’s going to be able to smuggle an assault rifle into the auditiorium, that’s for sure.

  9. Brett Bellmore says:

    Is he wired? Only when the White house staff forget to give him decaff.

  10. Brett Bellmore says:

    You’d think that nobody could smuggle a weapon in, but it’s easy enough to make a bomb that will get past metal detectors. I expect that’s what concerned them, not rifles.

  11. TomR says:

    I agree that ‘never been assisted by any audio signal’ is a non-denial.

    If you are listening to an FM radio through headphones nobody I know would say that you are listening to an audio signal. There is a radio signal part, and an audio part, but there is no audio signal part: signal implies encoding or ‘standing for’ something else. Normal technology uses radio signals and plain-old it-is-what-it-is sound waves (audio).

    Would I consider the technicalities so closely if not dealing with known inveterate liars?

    Obviously not.

  12. psetzer says:

    Well, the lecterns could stop anything short of a tank, if they hauled the usual ones down from Washington, and you can never be too safe, but I’m pretty certain that they checked for bombs very thoroughly. Explosives detectors aren’t that expensive in the big government scheme of things, and I doubt that any handbags are let in unsearched. Furthermore, we’d see him with bulges like that wherever he went. I honestly have no idea what it is, since thinking about it, body armor that bulky would make him look much bigger than he does in the pictures and require a new suit while he was wearing it, a reciever would be much smaller, and I thought that wireless mike transmitter is much smaller than the one shown.

  13. Ok, what the hell is that. Did you see this picture?

    They had it linked on salon…on that one its either for a mic, or the president is clearly packing a .45.

    But out of curiousity, as a lot of people here and on Salon suggested maybe it was a kevlar vest, I checked out the web for the thinnest, lightest, and most expensive versions. But even the basic design would be way off. They all seem to catch at the shoulders or around the love handles, nothing has any sort of ridge, bulge, or protrusion between the shoulderblades like that.

    And, in all seriousness, the kind of thing you’re talking about can’t even be seen in the ear. Here’s one:

    that you don’t even have to know the CIA to buy that uses a tiny, tiny piece of teflon wire so that it is literally placed inside the ear, out of even direct view. However, even in this day and age you need an earpiece driver. Typically in a belt pack. Here’s a picture:

    Now yes, its tin foil hat time. But I have to admit, this could be exactly what’s producing that bulge. I can’t imagine what else it would be. What truss, back brace, or anything would be up that high….

    Could it be some sort of corset/girdle type thing? Too many bbqs at the ranch?

  14. fiat lux says:

    I think it is more likely to be some sort of bulletproof vest or flak jacket than it is a wireless receiver.

  15. thuvia of barsoom says:

    no, bill, it’s legalese for “we sure as hell sent a signal, but if you saw the debate you know it didn’t help him any.” this has the same meaning as “was never assisted by a signal.”

    /goes back to original theory involving creatures from outer space.

    “nutso fantasy” and i go way back

  16. thomas says:

    “The body lay face down; the back of the jacket heaved as if the chest were rising. I first pulled on gloves―agent’s gloves. I could have stirred boiling acid, yet I could feel a coin in the dark and call heads or tails―once gloved, I started to turn him over and undress him.
    The back was still heaving; I did not like the look of it―unnatural. I placed a palm between the shoulder blades.
    A man’s back is bone and muscle. This was soft and undulating.
    It pulsed . . . “

    Copyright © 1951 by Robert A. Heinlein

  17. I think this idea is probably nonsense. He wouldn’t *need* to be wired to have a prompter. In the late 1980s, James Randi investigated a televangelist called Peter Popoff, whose claim to fame was that he could pick people apparently at random out of the audience and God would tell him their names, addresses, and ailments, after which he would “heal” them. One of Randi’s assistants noticed that Popoff was wearing a hearing aid…which turned out to be a radio reception device. The information about the audience members was collected by Popoff assistants before the show in apparently casual conversation (they would open the doors an hour early), and then read out to him from backstage by his wife.

    Examine the video for earpieces — even if he *is* antedeluvianally wired, he’s got to have something in his ear or the prompter is of no use.


  18. Actually, if you look above, you’ll see the picture I posted of a very nice IFB earpiece you can buy that uses invisible teflon wire as a sort of handle to disappear completely inside your ear. Can’t be seen. However, after last nights 2nd debate, I will admit I saw no bulges whatsoever.

  19. Altoid says:

    If he were getting a feed, he’d be using a very tiny, deep-canal hearing aid with an audio reception antenna for an FM audio-loop signal. Phonak makes them, and they’ve used them to instruct models on a catwalk. No one would be able to see it. Clinton used that kind of instrument (without the antenna, presumably) and no one ever saw them.

    This was some kind of back brace to try to get him to stop looking like a hunchback, or it was some kind of electrical back stimulator for pain or for muscle stimulation/relaxation. My two cents, anyway.

  20. Altoid says:

    Or, considering how low down it was, a cinch on a corset.

    Guy’s always beating himself up, maybe he busted a rib or his sternum.

    And come to think of it, his torso has *always* looked unnaturally stiff and immobile.

  21. Cédric says:

    We only have a poor evidence: a blurry photo, which generated an internet rumor.
    But something struck me during the debate, and led me to think he was in some way “connected” to his staff: When, after one or two questions on Iran, he came back to this topic (even if the moderator moved to another one) and said something like “by the way, it’s not my administration that sanctioned Iran, it’s Clinton’s”. I wondered where that sudden “remembrance” came from…

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