Get Your Blog Up

“This administration is populated by people who’ve spent their careers bashing government. They’re not just small-government conservatives—they’re Grover Norquist, strangle-it-in-the-bathtub conservatives. It’s a cognitive disconnect for them to be able to do something well in an arena that they have so derided and reviled all these years.”

Senator Hillary Clinton

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The speech

As I expected, mostly. The AP sums up:
Bush's speech did not break new ground or present a new strategy.

Of course, most of us realized there would be nothing new. The speech probably reaffirmed the message his supporters already hear and fell upon deaf ears on the other side. There is nothing that will unite the country in Bush's speech. And none of us expected that either, really.

Some of us were hopeful, however.

Bush's speech, essentially, was a "trust me and stay the course" kind of thing. And since he is in charge,we have little choice but to watch events unfold and pray that he's right, even as it looks
less and less that he is. And it's hard to stay the course when our resources have become so limited that there are questions as to how much longer we can do just that.

Think Progress, of course, has more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Truth in Iraq

Rumsfeld, Tuesday November 29th, 2005 (my bold):
The Iraqi security forces, as I mentioned, are making solid progress, and that's a big deal. The country is -- has a free media, and they can -- it's a relief valve. They could have hundred-plus papers. There's 72 radio stations. There's 44 television stations. And they're debating things and talking and arguing and discussing.

L.A. Times, November 29th, 2005:
As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. . The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents, and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

While the articles are basically truthful, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles -- with headlines such as "Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism" -- since the effort began this year.

We're desperate

Regardless of whether this is a good idea or not, it's clearly a sign of how desperate the Army is becoming for soldiers.

I wish them the best of luck in their endeavors.


Bush is scheduled to make a Wednesday address that will launch a new series of speeches aimed at bolstering public support for the increasingly unpopular conflict.

As MSNBC reminds us:
In June, Bush delivered a prime-time address from Fort Bragg, N.C., on the first anniversary of Iraq's sovereignty. Later in the summer, the president tried to blunt the message of anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who camped outside his Texas ranch.

And that doesn't mention his speeches during the campaign last year, either. You remember, the set of five major speeches that were going to sway public opinion on the war?

I'm not sure why the President and his staff think another round of speeches which will no doubt feature many of the same themes is really going to help. As I've argued before, it's not the repetition that's important, but the message that gets repeated. Bush's message has fallen pretty flat with most of the public as of late. There's no reason to think this latest volley is going to give him any air.

*UPDATE* These reports, which will no doubt be mixed with news stories of the President's speech, ceratinly won't help his case:
Gunmen opened fire on a minibus north of Baghdad on Wednesday, killing eight people, police said.

Running on what you believe

I wasn't going to post again on Marilyn Musgrave again. Really. I felt that campaigning with George Bush would be punishment enough for her.

But I couldn't resist commenting on this:
Musgrave, a second-term congresswoman, is considered by some GOP analysts to be among the party’s most vulnerable lawmakers in next year’s elections.

She became a lightning rod for criticism by promoting a constitutional ban on gay marriage, a campaign she said she has put on hold while she runs for re-election.

Clearly she feels so strongly about gay marriage, she's willing to not do anything about it while she desperately runs for re-election. That's dedication to a cause.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Musgrave ties on anchor

Already targeted as a top ten pick up by Democrats, Colorado Rep Marilyn Musgrave has tied her re-election hopes to the president - and his 58% disapproval rating in Colorado.

Her plan is to raise enough money to scare out potential opponents. But with the power of the internets and the high hopes of Democrats everywhere to unseat her, I don't see this as a winning strategy. Whoever the Democrats settle on in opposition will be well funded and well supported by the grassroots.

As an example, Progress Now Action will have a nice gift for Bush when he arrives.

*Corrected a spelling error or two. In fairness, I just had my eyes dilated. Frickin' awesome.

The politics of Iraq

Since the beginning:
Tom Daschle, the former Democratic senator from South Dakota, remembers the exchange vividly.

The time was September 2002. The place was the White House, at a meeting in which President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney pressed congressional leaders for a quick vote on a resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

But Daschle, who as Senate majority leader controlled the chamber's schedule, recalled recently that he asked Bush to delay the vote until after the impending midterm election.

"I asked directly if we could delay this so we could depoliticize it. I said: 'Mr. President, I know this is urgent, but why the rush? Why do we have to do this now?' He looked at Cheney and he looked at me, and there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: 'We just have to do this now.' "

Nothing like using a war for political advantage. And what was the White House afraid of? That the Senate would get more information and make a reasonable vote on invading Iraq?

Heaven forbid.

It's not about winning

This seems to me to be a telling exchange between Bush and an advisor sometime after his re-election:
The former senior official said that after the election he made a lengthy inspection visit to Iraq and reported his findings to Bush in the White House: "I said to the President, 'We're not winning the war.' And he asked, 'Are we losing?' I said, 'Not yet.'" The President, he said, "appeared displeased" with that answer.

At the time, Bush saw his re-election and his power draw from the war. As long as we weren't losing in Iraq, he could claim his mandate and try to draw political capital from it. As long as we weren't losing.

I would think a leader, when told the country's not winning a war, would look to revisit strategies on the ground and make new plans for victory. Bush, instead, asked if we were losing, and since has maintained a course which continues to put us somewhere in the middle - not winning, and not necessarily losing, either.

The Duke pleads guilty

L.A. Times:
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham will plead guilty today to tax evasion in a political corruption case, according to a source close the investigation.

The veteran Republican from a conservative north San Diego County district called close supporters last night to tell them of his decision.

"It's over. I can't fight anymore," Cunningham was quoted as saying.

Cunningham sold his home to a defense contractor at an inflated price, sparking a wide-ranging federal corruption investigation.

*UPDATE* The San Diego Union reports Cunningham plead guilty to one count of tax evasion and four counts of conspiracy.

Culture of Corruption, anyone?

*UPDATE* He's resigned.

Where we should have been

There are a number of reasons that the President's rhetoric of "finishing the job" should have applied to Afghanistan first. Instead, we quickly drew down soldiers to prepare for the invasion of an overhyped Iraq.

Despite that, everything seemed to have been going fairly well. Sure, we let Osama Bin Laden, the guy actually responsible for 9/11 get away as we focused on a guy who had nothing to do with the attacks, but things were relatively peaceful and elections seemed to go fairly well.

Now, however, violence is on the rise in Afghanistan:
An onslaught of grisly and sophisticated attacks since parliamentary elections in September has left Afghan and international officials concerned that Taliban guerrillas are obtaining support from abroad to carry out strikes that increasingly mimic insurgent tactics in Iraq.

The recent attacks -- including at least nine suicide bombings -- have shown unusual levels of coordination, technological knowledge and blood lust, according to officials. Although military forces and facilities have been the most common targets, religious leaders, judges, police officers and foreign reconstruction workers have also fallen prey to the violence.

Of course, we couldn't have stayed in Afghanistan forever, just like we can not remain in Iraq indefinitely. But another two years in a place like Afghanistan may have been able to flush out the members of Al Qaida that remained while maintaining stability and dealing with the problems of drug lords.

If things continue to deteriorate in Afghanistan, it will put Republicans and Bush in a tough position. Having the public perceive a failure on one front is hard enough, but two perceived failures in the War on Terror will almost doom the GOP to minority status for years - unless the Democrats screw it all up, too.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A man, no plan, withdraw!

Thank goodness Democrats are finally coming around to that plan the the White House never announced to anyone.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Friday Random Ten

Mr. Cleanhead, Huh? edition (memed):
1. Certain Stars - Superchunk
2. Some Women Do - Eddie "Mr. Cleanhead" Vinson & His Orchestra
3. Standing In a Corner - The Godrays
4. Executive Slacks - Possum Dixon
5. State of Love and Trust (Live) - Pearl Jam
6. Thumbtack - Bob Mould
7. Big Boat - M. Ward
8. Who Died - Hot Snakes
9. A Page From the Desert - The Pinetop Seven
10. Road - Nick Drake

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy early Thanksgiving

It's dinner with the family, then a hard night of work for tomorrow. I hope you are home safe with family and friends this Thanksgiving weekend.

Be back soon.

Happy Thanksgiving.

We'll answer later

NY Times:
Mr. Padilla's lawyers filed an appeal in the Supreme Court last month, asking a fundamental question: "Does the president have the power to seize American citizens in civilian settings on American soil and subject them to indefinite military detention without criminal charge or trial?"

The administration says there is no need to answer that question just now.

No, of course there isn't. Why would Americans want to know if they can be seized and detained indefinately without Constituional rights?

Confusion on Iraq

President Bush on November 19 rejected Democratic calls to begin steps to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, in part because Iraqi forces are not yet able to defend the country on their own.

From the AP:
The Bush administration and military leaders are sounding optimistic notes about scaling back U.S. troops in Iraq next year, as public opposition to the war and congressional demands for withdrawal get louder.

Contingency plans for a phased withdrawal include proposals to further postpone or cancel the deployment of a Fort Riley, Kan., brigade and an option to put a combat brigade in nearby Kuwait in case it is needed, said a senior Pentagon official.

While military leaders would not confirm the size of possible withdrawals, conversations with defense officials and analysts suggest troop levels could drop below 100,000 next year, contingent on the progress of the Iraqi government and its security forces. There are currently about 155,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

The official, who asked not to be identified because plans are not final, said stresses on the National Guard and Reserves are also factors.

Does Bush not know what the rest of his administration is doing, or does he choose to willfully ignore it altogether? And I still have to wonder how this administration, without a signifcant signpost, is going to convince America that they waited for the right moment to pull out the troops as opposed to any moment at all.

Will they just say one day that we won, and expect the country to believe it, even if there has been no noticibale change?

Lip service

The GOP led Senate passed a bill that would give the military new benefits. But it looks like they forgot to fund them:
The lack of committed budget dollars likely dooms, at least for this year, some of the more popular initiatives endorsed by the Senate, even as their inclusion in the bill raised expectations, particularly among reservists, survivors and a special group of disabled retirees.

Why would they do something like this? Because they can now say they voted for all these things. Of course, if they hadn't given away the funding for such things in the forms of tax cuts to the wealthy or tax breaks to the oil companies, some of these things might have actually come to fruition.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What the President knew

Here's something Congress (and apparently no one else) has seen: a PDB that admits, 10 days after September 11th, that there was no connection between Saddam and the attacks or Al Qaeda in general:
The information was provided to Bush on September 21, 2001 during the "President's Daily Brief," a 30- to 45-minute early-morning national security briefing. Information for PDBs has routinely been derived from electronic intercepts, human agents, and reports from foreign intelligence services, as well as more mundane sources such as news reports and public statements by foreign leaders.

One of the more intriguing things that Bush was told during the briefing was that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime. At one point, analysts believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks of Al Qaeda with Iraqi nationals or even Iraqi intelligence operatives to learn more about its inner workings, according to records and sources.

The September 21, 2001, briefing was prepared at the request of the president, who was eager in the days following the terrorist attacks to learn all that he could about any possible connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Not only does this lend credence to a manipulated intelligence claim, but it also shows how gung ho Bush was to go after Iraq. We had a clear enemy after 9/11 - Al Qaeda. And yet Bush was looking in the days that followed for reasons to go to Iraq instead.

You'd think this would be the sort of thing that Congress would want to investigate. And they do since they learned of it's existence in 2004, three years after it came into existence and almost a year after the war itself began. But the White House refuses to offer up the document even on a classified basis. So we may never know exactly what they knew and when they knew it, or why they chose to ignore it's contents and peddle claims they knew were dubious at best.

Frank Luntz, total tool

Just watch.

Chris Whitley, R.I.P.

I have Din of Ecstacy. It's a darn fine album. I listen to it once every three months or so. Chris Whitley's voice had a quality that was undefinable, and it mixed well with his clangy guitar.

Chris Whitley died today of lung cancer. He was only 45, and apparently still has an album unreleased. I can't wait to here it. I'm sure he's doing duets with Elliot Smith as we speak.

McCain joins the Democrats call

This won't make it any easier for him to win a primary in 2008:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has emerged as a leading opponent of the Bush administration’s policy on interrogating detainees in the war on terrorism, wants Senate investigators to interview senior administration officials about their statements regarding the threat posed by Saddam Hussein before the war.

McCain backed Democratic calls for interviews of top-level administration officials in an interview last week. But his position is at odds with many in his party, including Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), whom McCain may face in the 2008 GOP presidential primary.

Quite honestly, I don't see as difficult a road as some do for McCain to be the GOP nominee in 2008. While he is alienating the base a bit, he is casting himself as the moderate with the best chance to win. And every time he cast away from the base on one issue, he looks to cast back on another. But until we get closer, it's all fun to watch.

If they ask us, we'll leave

So we asked them to ask us to leave.

Funny, that, if true.

Midterm reports

I'm not sure how many competitive candidates the Democrats have running in North Carolina, but the latest Elon poll certainly sounds good for their prospects:
More than 40 percent of respondents to last week's poll say their confidence in the Bush administration has decreased lately. The poll also revealed a gap between the number of people who said they voted Republican in last year's presidential election and those who said they will vote for the party in next year's congressional election.

And if it can happen in North Carolina, it can happen everywhere.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen's latest is good news for Maryland Democrats, with both Mfume and Cardin beating their Republican opponent for U.S. Senate and Democrats in the lead for the governorship as well.

And finally, it looks like Jon Corzine should pick acting Gov. Richard J. Codey to fill his Senate seat:
Codey was the choice of 43 percent of voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. The runner-up, Rep. Robert Menendez, was a distant second, at 14 percent. Fellow Congressman Rob Andrews got 10 percent of the vote among those polled, followed by Rep. Frank Pallone, with 8 percent.

Like Corzine, all four are Democrats.


In an early look at that 2006 U.S. Senate race, Codey would handily beat Tom Kean Jr., the Republican state senator who has declared his candidacy, by 55 percent to 32 percent, according to the survey. Other theoretical matchups have Menendez, Andrews, and Pallone all in close races with Kean Jr.

Things are looking good for Democrats all around.

*UPDATE* Hotline reports that Codey's not interested in the job and suggets that Robert Menedez is the favorite.


I've read a few posts here and there claiming that the Bush administration's latest problems with the war on Iraq come from a lack of repetition - that is repeated claims that the left is smearing the White House, that the intelligence was correct believed by everyone, etc. Jim Geraghty even has an article up at the National Review suggesting as much.

To those people, I ask them to cast back to earlier this summer when the President repeated his message over and over again and failed - during his campaign to change Social Security.

Folks, it's not how many times the message gets repeated, it's how well that message resonates with the public. And as that public starts to doubt the messenger, it's a lot harder for him to overcome that doubt with a new message.

Bush probably isn't going to win over a lot of people with his latest campaign. By suggesting we all fell for the same intelligence, he implies that the reasons we went to war in Iraq was wrong. That's not a winner for his side. And Democrats can refute in a logical manner that this isn't true. Wouldn't the President, after all, get more info that Congress? On a basic level, that makes sense to the American public. And that's why this message, no matter how many times it's repeated, simply isn't going to take.

The only way out of this for Bush is a bit of pander. Find something the people want and figure out a way to give it to them. Bush won't be able to raise his approval ratings by fighting his way out of the debate on Iraq. He will, however, be able to change the debate once he gets his approval ratings up.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Going to the polling well

Isn't it time the guys at Powerline posted about Bush and the GOP rising out of their bad poll numbers?

(background here and here)

Breaking down torture

From the Wall Street Journal last week:
No one has yet come up with any evidence that anyone in the U.S. military or government has officially sanctioned anything close to "torture." The "stress positions" that have been allowed (such as wearing a hood, exposure to heat and cold, and the rarely authorized "waterboarding," which induces a feeling of suffocation) are all psychological techniques designed to break a detainee.

So let me ask you this. If other of these techniques were used on you, would you admit to anything and everything your torturers technique artists asked you to?

Ask yourself that the next time you think that one of these techniques is a positive for American intelligence.

Link, and more, from Andrew Sullivan.

Kerry takes on Cheney
--Bush said Iraq had a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical and biological weapons, but the U.S. Air Force disagreed "and the Air Force's dissent was kept secret, even as the president publicly made the opposite case before the vote.

"Congress wasn't told that," Kerry told reporters at his Boston office, a line he would repeat after outlining each charge.

--Bush and Cheney told Congress asserted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could launch a chemical or biological attack in under one hour, but they did not clear it with the CIA, "which mistrusted the source so much they refused to include it in the National Intelligence Estimate."

--The administration said Saddam was attempting to acquire nuclear fuel for weapons, even though the CIA told it three times in writing and verbally that was not true.

--Bush said Iraq had trained al Qaeda members in bombmaking and the use of poison and deadly gases, but the Defense Intelligence Agency had previously concluded that the source was a fabricator.

"The fact is that they're now trying to rewrite the rationale for the administration going into Iraq," Kerry said. "Instead they really ought to be trying to fix the problems that they've created with their incompetence over the last few years."

Despite how you feel about Kerry, it's nice to see a prominet Democrat come forward and refute Cheney point by point.

Attacking the holidays

Dear Jerry Falwell -

Happy Holidays


I propose a campaign where you and I send Falwell messages of Happy Holidays, just to get under his skin. Because his latest is just ridiculous:
Evangelical Christian pastor Jerry Falwell has a message for Americans when it comes to celebrating Christmas this year: You're either with us, or you're against us.

Falwell has put the power of his 24,000-member congregation behind the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," an effort led by the conservative legal organization Liberty Counsel. The group promises to file suit against anyone who spreads what it sees as misinformation about how Christmas can be celebrated in schools and public spaces.

I remember when it was the right that was all amped against trial lawyers. Now, they're the right's new best friends:
"It's a sad day in America when you have to retain an attorney to say 'Merry Christmas,' " said Mike Johnson, an Alliance Defense Fund attorney in Louisiana who will push the Christmas cause.

And it's a sad day in America when Mike Johnson must resort to undue hyperbole.

Anyone can say Merry Christmas. I just did there. And no one is threatening suit. If stores want to wish people Happy Holidays, that's their right, too. It's called free speech. I think it's covered here. Somewhere near the top. And it makes sense from a business standpoint, too. Being more inclusive of customers will encourage all customer's patronage, which means the latest from Falwell and company is more anti-business than anything else.

The latest stores they have their sights on is Target. Or rather, they are focusing on Target once again because their stores do not have Merry Christmas prominently displayed in their stores:
"[People who aren't Christian] can walk right by the sign," [American Family Association President Tim] Wildmon said. "It's a federal holiday. If someone is upset by that, well, they should know that they are living in a predominantly Christian nation."

Apparently, however, Wildmon and company can't walk on by Happy Holidays signs and understand that Christmas is, in fact, a holiday that the stores want him to be happy on. And that people of all denominations need to shop during what's known as the "holiday season."
Where's Wildmon shopping next weekend? "Wal-Mart," he said.

But Wal-Mart just issued a statement declaring that they, too, will continue to say Happy Holidays rather than honor Wildmon's wish of Merry Christmas.

And I wish I could be there when his greeter does as much this weekend.

It's not torture, it's "unique"

The CIA's interrogation methods are "unique" but don't involve torture, agency chief Porter Goss says, although he won't specify just what techniques are used to extract information from prisoners.

In an interview published Monday in USA Today, Goss reiterated the Bush administration's defense of its interrogation practices in the war against terrorism.

"This agency does not do torture. Torture does not work," Goss said. "We use lawful capabilities to collect vital information and we do it in a variety of unique and innovative ways, all of which are legal and none of which are torture."

Iraq must be pro terrorist

I guess it's time to invade Iraq, right, Dick and George?
Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis, seeking common ground for their political future together, agreed Monday there should be a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops, and that resistance was the right of all -- but that acts of terror should be condemned.

After hours of negotiations at the Arab League, the participants in a national accord conference reached a final statement aimed at showing the points of agreement between the communities.

The three-day gathering was held to prepare for a wider conference due to be held in February in Iraq, part of a U.S.-backed league attempt to bring the communities closer together and assure Sunni Arab participation in a political process now dominated by Iraq's Shiite majority and large Kurdish minority.

The participants in Cairo agreed on "calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces ... control the borders and the security situation" and end terror attacks.

So who's in charge of the country, Iraqis, or Washington D.C.? I have a feeling the answer will remain the later.

But what does it say that those on the ground in Iraq agree with Democrats in what's best for their country?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday night reading

Powell aide: Torture 'guidance' from VP

Reconstruction isn't going so well in Afghanistan, either. Maybe if we weren't distracted...

And a story that has been linked everywhere about the Bushfriends ignoring German warnings that one of their oft used sources was less then reliable.

I'm still a bit under the weather and worn out from work. I'm not making promises...

The Tacoma News Tribune gets it

Tacoma News Tribune:
It really is time for the administration to start spelling out terms for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.


As of New Year’s Day 2007, the United States will have been trying to beat down the Sunni Arab resistance in Iraq for nearly 33/4 years. That’s more time than it took America to win World War II. It’s almost as much time as it took the U.S. government to crush the Confederacy – a powerful, resourceful, determined enemy – throughout the South.

If the world’s most formidable military can’t rid a few Iraqi provinces of guerrillas over the course of 33/4 years, then – just maybe – there’s something fundamentally wrong with the American strategy.

Friday, November 18, 2005

So what's the goal?

Watching (well, listening) to the debate on the Murtha Amendment in the House and reading that the Pentagon is actually planning for troop withdrawals in Iraq has me wondering it Republicans aren't backing themselves into a corner.

They keep saying we need to win, see this through to victory, etc. While it sounds good to the ears, doesn't that mean they will need a specific and rather large event that would mean the end of the war? Even the capture or death of Zarquawi wouldn't count, because obviously we did not invade Iraq to deal with him, but "terrorism" in general.

As Bush conceded in the election, there's no real way to win the war on terror. And, understanding that, there is no real endgame in Iraq, either. So what happens then when nothing happens and Republicans suddenly decide that it's time? While Democrats may take a slight hit on the war now, it seems Republicans are being set up for a much larger fall down the road.

Listening to the GOP, their side of the debate is how wrong this resolution is for the troops and how anti-American it is. If that's really the case, then why did they bring this version up for a vote in the first place. Why don't Democrats ask that question on the floor?
*UPDATE* From The Corner:
BACKFIRE IN THE AIR [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I have a very bad feeling about this GOP vote-force tonight. Listening to the emotional debate on the floor now...well, there was just some screaming, to give you an idea. Prediction: Dems vote no on a Republican resolution for immediate withdrawal. Dems easily frame the whole exercise as Republicans caricaturing sensible concerns about Iraq--and more specifically a mocking of Vietnam vet Marine Jack Murtha (witness John Kerry below).

Wow. Never thought I'd agree with Kathryn Jean Lopez.

Note the debate on the floor. Republicans are arguing that the bill should be voted down. Democrats, however, aren't arguing for the passage of the bill, but rather arguing this bill cuts off debate on the policies that led us into and currently lead us in Iraq.

If Republicans really feel that they can win that debate, why are they so afraid to engage in it?

The answer, I think, is they don't think they can.

Friday Random Ten

Never to Sick To Rock Non Stop edition (here's the idea):
1. Said It Too Late - Silkworm
2. You're All I Need to Get By - Marvin Gaye & Tammy Terrell
3. Modern World - Wolf Parade
4. I Know Your Little Secret - Afghan Whigs
5. My New Town - Jack Logan
6. White Tales - Bettie Serveert
7. Ceiling Fan In My Spoon - The Lemonheads
8. Pole Position - Folk Implosion
9. Beach Party - Annette Funicello
10. Shrunken Head - Jack Logan

Quite the mix this week.

Still under the weather

Sorry, folks, it's another down day. I'm not saying I'm done for the day, but here's a few links to read if you haven't already on some of the days events.

MyDD and Steve Clemons on the Murtha Amendment. Nothing like changing a bill and then suggesting it's just what was proposed. Even the New York Times gets it:
Murtha offered a resolution that would force the president to withdraw the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq "at the earliest practicable date." It would establish a quick-reaction force and a nearby presence of Marines in the region. It also said the U.S. must pursue stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

But House Republicans planned to put to a vote -- and reject -- their own resolution that simply said: "It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

And Michael Hiltzik has a blog over at the Los Angeles Times called "Golden State." Today, he discuss the impact of Arnold's Prop 49, which created mandated after school programs. The full effect hits next year.

Taken to school

This is just ridiculous:
Republicans are raising fees and interest rates for middle class students, cutting taxes on corporations and the rich, and allowing special interests to keep a special privilege that allows them to lock in higher rates on kids for years regardless of what the market does. That's a pretty sweet deal. For someone.

Certainly not for me.

Read the whole thing to find out what, exactly, he's referring to. And watch the video, too.

*UPDATE* "You’ve got to be kidding me" is going to become my new catch phrase when it comes to Congress.

Remember America, that cutting taxes on the wealthy while cutting entitlement programs to the poor and needy is, in the words of Dennis Haestert, "fiscally responsible." If you agree with that, by all means vote Republican.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Welcome to DISH

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

On one hand, free stuff is always cool. But I'd hate to live in a town called iPod or Powerbook...

GOP Legislative accomplishments?

I've been thinking of bills in the Republican House and Senate that have generated news.

Here's what I recall. Terri Schiavo, a bankruptcy bill that hurts the middle and lower class, a bunch of tax giveaways to the oil industry, the "bridge to nowhere" as an example of runaway spending championed by a Republican Senator, Iraq war oversight, and now the failed education and health spending cuts that still generated a lot of support by the GOP. Oh, and how could I forget their push for Social Security reform that was hated by the public?

If you ask me, that's not really much of a legacy for Republicans to lead into the 2006 elections, is it? At any rate, it's a poor use of "political capital," no?

How to tell when you are ill

When stories of Republican failures, a strong Democrat giving a strong speech, and another debunking of the Bush White House can't get you excited about blogging, you must be too sick for the world.

Until then, go over and weigh in on Ezra's debate. While these are always fun in theory, it's hard to know what kind of success and failure John Kerry may have experienced while in the White House. But certainly he's right when he suggests that Bush being forced to soak in his own mess is a good thing for Democrats. Until, that is, Saudi princes come and buy out yet another failed career attempt.

*UPDATE* Okay, this actually got me going a little bit:
Seldom overtly political, Murtha uncharacteristically responded to Vice President Dick Cheney's comments this week that Democrats were spouting "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges" about the Bush administration's use of intelligence before the war.

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done," Murtha said.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pennsylvanian lawmakers repeal pay raise

Back on September 11th, I wrote a little blurb on Pennsylvanian lawmakers decision to give themselves pay raises:
I'm not sure how big of an issue this will be in Pennsylvanian politics, but it seems a little crass to claim to be more important than a certain sector of workers in order to justify spending taxpayers money, especially from the conservative sector who wants to yell and scream about the government spending your money.

Since then, voter backlash has risen and been credited in the defeat of a judge running for re-election in the state, which local groups warned was a warning shot to lawmakers. Recent poll numbers showed more than half the state would not vote for those in the general assembly who approved the pay raise.

Looks like lawmakers in Pennsylvania have finally gotten the message:
After bringing four months of abuse down on their heads, Pennsylvania lawmakers Wednesday repealed a pay raise they gave themselves in the middle of the night.

Gov. Ed Rendell signed the repeal legislation less than three hours after the state Senate approved it 50-0. It passed the House 197-1 on Monday.

The question now is will it be enough, or will voters still be bitter come 2006, and what effect will it have on the state races, including Ed Rendell's bid for re-election. Stay tuned.

David Roth for Congress

This article in the Desert Sun tipped me off (finally) to the Democrat who seeks to defeat Mary Bono as Representative of the 45th Congressional District here in California. And it seems big names in the state are already lining up to support him:
In a small, by-invitation-only reception at the Falls Prime Steak House in downtown Palm Springs on Sunday, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer gave Roth a $1,000 check from her PAC for a Change.

"I think it's time for a change in Congress; a change in Iraq; a change from soaring deficits; a change so that Social Security will be secure; a change so that our families know that education, clean air, clean water, and good jobs are a national priority," Boxer said Tuesday.

PAC for a Change is a leadership Political Action Committee, which Boxer formed and leads. It is designed to change the direction right-wing extremists in Congress are taking the country. Boxer's contribution to Roth's campaign is significant in that the PAC is designed primarily to help Senate candidates but she made an exception for Roth.

A diverse mix of Democrats and Republicans were on hand for the dinner, further proof that Roth actually stands a good chance of defeating incumbent Bono. Roth's real challenges will be name recognition and overcoming the Republican leanings of the district. Bono has won the past two elections for her seat with close to 2/3rds of the vote.

Bono features a picture of her with the President on her webpage, which should show you who she aligns herself with. She also recently donated $5,000 to the Tom DeLay defense fund.

Read more about David Roth here, and while you're at it, go ahead and donate, too. And look forward to hearing more about Roth in the weeks and months to come.

*UPDATE* Here's more information on Roth and his opponent Mary Bono.

Supporting 9/11 workers is just too expensive

Congress is expected to approve a bill cutting $125 million that was supposed to go to sick Sept. 11 aid workers, lawmakers familiar with the continuing negotiations said yesterday.

A bipartisan bloc of New York legislators had sought to stop the Bush administration from stripping the funds, which were part of a $20 billion package promised by the president in the days after the terror attacks.

The money was to be used to recompense the state for workers' compensation and other insurance claims related to 9/11.

So the Bush administration has decided that one of the best ways back from the road to financial ruin is to take from the workers who rushed to help after the 9/11 attacks and instead help make some more of those tax cuts for the wealthy permanent. And this isn't future money to be spent, mind you, but money already handed out to aid these heroic people.

The Bush White House - remembering 9/11, but not those people affected by it.

Bernie Kerik sighting

And to think he was almost in charge of the Department of Homeland Security:
New Jersey officials said yesterday that Bernard B. Kerik abused his position as New York City correction commissioner in the late 1990's by accepting tens of thousands of dollars from a construction company that he was helping to pursue business with the city. They say the company has long had ties to organized crime.

The accusations against Mr. Kerik, who had to withdraw his nomination as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security last year, are in court papers filed by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Speaking of breaking the law

Looks like the former chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the man who decided to start a short lived campaign to make Sesame Street more conservative, could be in trouble as well:
Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting said on Tuesday that they had uncovered evidence that its former chairman had repeatedly broken federal law and the organization's own regulations in a campaign to combat what he saw as liberal bias.

A report concluded that Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, shown here testifying on funding for public broadcasting in July, repeatedly broke federal law in a campaign to combat what he saw as liberal bias.

The former chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who was ousted from the board two weeks ago when it was presented with the details of the report in a closed session, has said he sought to enforce a provision of the broadcasting act meant to ensure objectivity and balance in programming.

But in the process, the report said, Mr. Tomlinson repeatedly crossed statutory boundaries that had set up the corporation as a "heat shield" to protect public radio and television from political interference.

Good thing they weren't under oath

Apparently lying to Congress is no big deal when you're worth billions:
A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.

Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP's chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force's work; that meeting is not noted in the document.

I doubt this is a big shokcer to anyone.

Arnold: Let's sink this state

Peter Schrag in the Sac Bee:
Four days after his wipeout in last week's special election, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was letting the world know he's thinking bigger than ever.

The big thinking is not in wowing the Chinese, but in talking about a humongous $50 billion bond to fund a vast array of infrastructure projects - highways, ports, bridges, levees - "everything," as he said in one interview, "that has to do with infrastructure that will upgrade the state." In one statement he also talked about housing, hospitals and schools.

This is a big change of pace for Arnold. Before the special election, state spending was out of control, and Arnold tried to use tax hikes to scare voters into voting his way. But now that that's failed, we may as well go for broke in this state - literally.

Granted these improvements are needed. But these changes have to be paid for as well, and until a way to fund this massive bond bill that will double the state's structural deficit can be found, it should be little more than wishful thinking by Arnold.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Chuck Hagel speaks out

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) strongly criticized yesterday the White House's new line of attack against critics of its Iraq policy, saying that "the Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them."

With President Bush leading the charge, administration officials have lashed out at Democrats who have accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. Bush has suggested that critics are hurting the war effort, telling U.S. troops in Alaska on Monday that critics "are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that's irresponsible."

Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and a potential presidential candidate in 2008, countered in a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations that the Vietnam War "was a national tragedy partly because members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the administrations in power until it was too late."

"To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic," Hagel said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in Vietnam because of silence by political leaders. "America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."

Hagel said Democrats have an obligation to be constructive in their criticism, but he accused the administration of "dividing the country" with its rhetorical tactics.

I just can't see this being a successful strategy for the Bush administration, but they seem more than willing to pursue it.

Kenendy on Alito

It's a fair question, and one that Alito may hear over and over again:
"I was somewhat troubled by the 1985 memorandum that has been made public," Kennedy said shortly after the one-on-one session with the federal appeals court judge in his Senate office.

Alito's abortion views from 20 years ago stoked fresh controversy as he made courtesy calls on Kennedy and other senators on Capitol Hill.

"I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government argued that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion," Alito wrote in the memo, citing his previous work helping the government prepare cases.

Kennedy said Alito, 55, told him he wrote the memo as someone "who was interested in getting a job" in the Justice Department as deputy assistant attorney general.

"So I asked him, 'Why shouldn't we consider that the answers you are giving today are an application for another job?" Kennedy said.

What they voted for

In all this talk about the build up to the Iraqi war, let's not forget what it is Senators actually voted for:
...Congress did not vote for the definite use of force, let alone for the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. It authorized the use of force if necessary to ensure that Iraq either gave up its weapons of mass destruction or proved it didn't have any.

In October 2002, when Congress passed the resolution, even Bush saw it (or at least indicated he did) primarily as a tactic for putting maximum pressure on the U.N. Security Council to pass a second, tougher resolution warning Iraq that it faced punitive action if it did not cooperate better with U.N. weapons inspectors. In a typical comment, two days after the resolution passed, Bush said, "But I am very firm in my desire to make sure that Saddam is disarmed. Hopefully, we can do this peacefully. The use of the military is my last choice, is my last desire."

While it seemed obvious to me at the time that we were headed for war if this vote passed, it did not mean that we unilaterally had to go to war. It simply gave the President the ability to do so if and when it proved necessary. And many of those who voted on the resolution then can argue that the President simply jumped the gun on the whole idea.

The only guilt that Democrats have to admit to is one of trusting the President. And that's something that most of America is feeling right now.


Is it odd to anyone else that, in a story headlined "Senate steps up pressure on Iraq" that this is the opening sentence:
The Republican-controlled Senate easily defeated a Democratic effort Tuesday to pressure President Bush to outline a timetable for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Then there's this:
Republicans countered with their own nonbinding alternative that the Senate approved on a 79-19 vote. Five Democrats sided with the majority party.

The last time I checked, there were 55 Republican Senators. Five Democrats siding with all of them would get you to 60 votes. Not all Republicans voted for the bill, either. So either I'm confused or they are.

Either way, the Republican measure would not have passed if the Democrats hadn't proposed theirs in the first place. And the Republican version is largely the same as the Democratic one anyway. But you wouldn't really get that from the AP version of the news at all.

Covering their asses

Don't think that this:
Fewer than one in 10 adults say they would prefer a congressional candidate who is a Republican and who agrees with Bush on most major issues, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday. Even among Republicans, seven of 10 are most likely to back a candidate who has had at least some disagreements with the president.

and the latest decision by Republicans to take a Democratic proposal to hold the Bush White House accountable for the war in Iraq and make it their own aren't related.

Here's what Harry Reid had to say:
As stated in the amendment, the Senate just voted overwhelmingly to change the policy of the United States with regard to Iraq. Republicans admitted what Democrats have been saying all along -- the administration's strategy is aimless and rudderless. It's a victory for our troops and the American people. If Democrats hadn't acted, our Republican colleagues would have been fine going along with the administration's "no plan, no end" approach.

The contrast between Democrats and the Bush Administration could not be clearer. Democrats offered a clear way forward and a strategy for success in Iraq. Rather than trying to score political points and mischaracterizing the Democratic amendment with language that isn't even in there, we think the top priority of Republicans should be succeeding in Iraq.

Appealing to the minority

Since Howard Fineman pointed out last night on Countdown that Bush in his latest argument concedes faulty intelligence led us into Iraq but also hints at the fact that knowing what we know now that Bush would invade Iraq again, I've had to wonder how Bush thinks this will improve his image when, according to the latest USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, only 38 percent of the public agrees with that stance.

Funny how closely that mirrors his approval rating, no?

As long as the President is perceived as dishonest and untrustworthy (52% of the public feels this way), how is he going to convince this group anything he says is true?

Oddly enough, a mea culpa moment may be the best thing to start healing Bush's still hemorrhaging poll numbers. None of these partisan attacks on Democrats that concedes what we already know, but a bold statement of admittal, acceptance, and an attempt to make things right.

Lucky for Democrats, that's not the President's style. So instead of healing the divide, we'll continue to see it grow in the weeks to come.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Restoring... never mind

Dick Cheney had kind words for George Bush when he first accepted his party's nomination back in 2000:
George W. Bush will repair what has been damaged.

He is a man without pretense and without cynicism. A man of principle, a man of honor.

On the first hour of the first day...he will restore decency and integrity to the oval office.

I guess everything from hour two on has lead to this:
A 53% majority say they trust what Bush says less than they trusted previous presidents while they were in office. In a specific comparison with President Clinton, those surveyed by 48%-36% say they trust Bush less.

Tossing cookies and stories

Republican rule seems to be, when caught misleading the public, you blame those who doubt you for being "revisionist:"
Speaking on Stateline with the Governor on WBAL-AM yesterday, [Gov. Robert L.] Ehrlich said he would not tolerate questions about the veracity of the incident.

"This revisionism is real dangerous. And to the extent anyone is out there now saying, 'Well, no, those Oreo cookies really weren't thrown at Mike Steele, that's now an urban legend, whatever, made up by the Republicans,' I mean these people have got to get real," Ehrlich said.

So what's the problem? Oh:
Several debate attendees, however, could not corroborate Ehrlich and Schurick's version of events.

"It didn't happen here," said Vander Harris, operations manager of the Murphy Fine Arts Building at Morgan State. "I was in on the cleanup, and we found no cookies or anything else abnormal. There were no Oreo cookies thrown."


Clint Coleman, a spokesman for Morgan State who was at the event, said he saw lots of unseemly behavior but no Oreos.

"There were a lot of things, disturbances, by this group of outsiders who were bent on disrupting the debate," Coleman said. "But I never actually saw Oreo cookies being thrown at him."

As for "raining Oreos," Coleman said, "I can tell you that did not happen."

Neil Duke, who moderated the event for the NAACP, said last week that he didn't see any cookies.

The article continues to quote people who were at the debate, but who never saw any cookies thrown.

What I have never understood about politics is why, when it is so easy to get caught up in a lie like this, it seems that a politician would be willing to tell the story nevertheless, or at least allow the story to perpetuate. Now Steele and the seemingly bogus story are linked in history. And Steele won't respond to the story anymore.

I'm not fully read on Maryland politics, but I do know a story about a lying politician is not going to be a boon for his poll numbers. He's already behind in the polls to Democratic front runner Ben Cardin, and I can't believe this is going to help him close the gap.

Powerline's wishful thinking

The folks at Powerline over the weekend wrote:
The conventional wisdom is that President Bush is in the doghouse with the American people, his poll ratings plummeting farther every time they are reported. However, some of those polls, like this one by CBS, seem designed to generate those very headlines. To get any reliable sense of the trend, you almost have to follow a poll that is done on a consistent basis. One of the best of such polls is Scott Rasmussen's.

Rasmussen shows President Bush climbing from his low point in October, to a current approval rating of 46%. That's his best this month, and, as Rasmussen says, it might be statistical noise. If it's for real, it's good news; 46% isn't great, but it's well out of the sub-40% danger territory. But, in any event, the upward trend since last month is good news for Republicans.

And at the Weekly Standard today, they remove the claim about "statistical noise," noting:
Polls that are administered consistently over time are starting to show a significant rebound in the president's standing. In the >Rasmussen Poll, Bush's approval rating hit its nadir in October, but has rebounded steadily since. Currently, it stands at a respectable 46 percent. More important than the number, however, is the trend: There can be little doubt that the administration is on the upswing.

Hmmm... The Rasmussen approval rating for George Bush on Monday, November 14th? Back down to 43%, near his low point for his presidency. So much for that rebound, eh guys? Or maybe this is some sort of reverse rebound, and for two days, the public came around to the President and then remembered why they didn't like him again.

The folks at Powerline are clearly trying to create some false momentum for their man at this point. You may recall an earlier post from the 3rd of November discussing their view of the coming Bush bounce in polls do to the withdrawal of Harriet Miers. That, as you can tell by the numbers, did not happen either.

But, I think, it's only a matter of time before they get it right, and Bush's numbers start to rebound for one reason or another that we just haven't seen yet. So keep forecasting a bounce, Powerline. One of these days, you'll get it right.

*UPDATE* Chris Bowers at MyDD has another take:
When asking their new favorite question about how Bush can or will recover, it is important for members of the media to be aware of the historic nature of Bush's unpopularity. No President to reach these lows has ever recovered. It is just as important for Democratic officials and activists around the country to realize this as well. When faced with the persistent pundit question as to how Bush can or will recover, the Democratic response must be simple, accurate, and to the point: Bush can't recover. No President to reach these lows has ever recovered to once again have a functioning presidency. All of his political capital has been spent. By all historical comparisons, Bush's Presidency is over.

Go read the whole thing.

Forrester blames Bush

First off, Doug Forrester is dreaming if he thinks that his is true. But he came out yesterday and blasted George Bush as the reason things went wrong for him in the campaign for Governor of New Jersey:
In an interview published yesterday in The Star-Ledger of Newark, the state's largest newspaper, Mr. Forrester said his campaign had done "all the right things we were supposed to do." Still, he said, he could not overcome a spate of bad news for Mr. Bush, like the administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina.

There was a lot more going against Forrester than President Bush, including New Jersey's Democratic leanings and Forrester's willingness to bring his opponent's ex-wife into the battle.

But if Republicans want to pin the blame in George Bush, I'm not against it. It certainly won't be bad for Democrats to have Republicans weary and spreading the word that Bush will bring them down in 2006.

Alito against abortion before he pretended to be moderately for it

MSNBC Oct 31, 2005:
[Pennsylvanian Republican Senator Arlen] Specter seemed to go out of his way to try to persuade abortion rights supporters, of whom he is one, that Alito is not beyond the pale.

He said Alito’s dissent in a 1991 abortion case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, "does not signify disagreement with Roe v Wade" the 1972 ruling which legalized abortion nationwide. Specter said that nothing in what Alito had written in that case "suggests disagreement with the underlying decision in Roe v. Wade."

I wonder if Arlen reads the Washington Times:
Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, wrote that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion" in a 1985 document obtained by The Washington Times.

"I personally believe very strongly" in this legal position, Mr. Alito wrote on his application to become deputy assistant to Attorney General Edwin I. Meese III.

So how does Arlen feel about that? And how will he, as head of the judiciary committee, reconcile this with his own feelings on abortion rights? Maybe the coming Alito confirmation battle won't be so boring after all.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A second look at Arnold

I hope any day now that I stop reading about how Arnold was elected to enact change in the state of California. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Voters choose the guy 'cause he was "The Terminator," man. The frickin' "Terminator." They really did not focus on his politics or promises. They just thought it'd be cool to have an action star as governor. How wrong they were.

I think a big reason there is so much shock in Arnold's poll collapse is that people are viewing him as a politician, rather than the political sideshow that he was. Of course, an incumbent anything always has the edge on the outsider, so it's too early to assume that Arnold will be gone in 2006. But unless he becomes more skilled on the political side of things, it's a good chance that Democrats will take the over his house in the next election.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I'm with Edwards

In the weeks to come, I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more arguing on both sides about whether or not Bush and co. used intelligence to push for war in Iraq. I think at this point, however, Jon Edwards has the right attitude:
The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate. The information the American people were hearing from the president -- and that I was being given by our intelligence community -- wasn't the whole story. Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war.

George Bush won't accept responsibility for his mistakes. Along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, he has made horrible mistakes at almost every step: failed diplomacy; not going in with enough troops; not giving our forces the equipment they need; not having a plan for peace.

Because of these failures, Iraq is a mess and has become a far greater threat than it ever was. It is now a haven for terrorists, and our presence there is draining the goodwill our country once enjoyed, diminishing our global standing. It has made fighting the global war against terrorist organizations more difficult, not less.

The urgent question isn't how we got here but what we do now. We have to give our troops a way to end their mission honorably. That means leaving behind a success, not a failure.

Americans are already believing that Bush manipulated intelligence to get the war that he wanted. But after that argument is won or lost, we will still be in Iraq, still be unable to defend our troops from roadside bombings, and still looking for a milepost that we can claim as victory so we can leave Iraq behind.

The problem now is not how we got there. That will settle out in the shakes of history, and I believe that settling will not be favorable for Bush and co. But what's more important is a plan to get us out of Iraq. The Democrat that can come up with that becomes an instant front runner in 2008.

Durbin on the Iraq intelligence

St. Louis Post Dispatch:
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., served on the Senate Intelligence Committee before assuming a party leadership post this year. He recalled committee meetings at which the CIA and Energy Department voiced "completely different views on what the aluminum tubes could be used for."

"And then I'd walk out and listen to (Rice) and Vice President Dick Cheney say that these tubes show the Iraqis are building nuclear weapons to threaten the Middle East and the United States. And because you're a member of the Intelligence Committee you can't say what you've heard in closed sessions," Durbin said. "I was angry. The American people were being misled into believing that the evidence was clear, and it was not."

Asked about the views of Bond and Voinovich that there was no evidence of misdeeds, Durbin said, "I couldn't disagree more. There are specific circumstances where the intelligence agencies advised the White House that certain information was wrong - and the president and vice president continued to repeat those statements to the American people."

Neither Assertion is Wholly Accurate

So says Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus:
President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.

Neither assertion is wholly accurate.

The administration's overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements.

But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Random Ten

This One Will Really Turn the Public Around, I Mean It edition (guidance here):
1. Coastal Cities - The Secret Handshake
2. Munich Eunich (Demo) - Thin White Rope
3. Big Bossa Man - The Mooks
4. If I Knew Now (What I Knew Then) - Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys
5. For the Sake of Mary - Richard Thompson
6. Anorexorcist - Nirvana
7. Mr. Soul - Matthew Sweet
8. No Fun - Teen Idles
9. 1000 Pounds (Duck Kee Style) - Superchunk
10. OMC - Lois

FEMA still fails in New Orleans

Despite a month-old pledge, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has yet to reopen four of its biggest no-bid contracts for Hurricane Katrina work and won’t do so until the contracts are virtually complete. A promise to hire more minority-owned firms also is largely unfulfilled.

The no-bid contracts for temporary housing, worth up to $100 million each, were given to Shaw Group Inc., Bechtel Corp., CH2M Hill Inc. and Fluor Corp. right after Katrina struck. Charges of favoritism helped prompt last month’s pledge by FEMA acting director R. David Paulison, but now officials with the Homeland Security Department, which oversees FEMA, say the contracts won’t be awarded again until February.

The disclosure dismayed some lawmakers and business groups that believe the Bush administration has not done enough to ensure Katrina contracts are spread around. In particular, they say small and minority-owned businesses in the Gulf Coast have been shortchanged.

Bush speaks, America more than likely yawns

Feels like I've heard it somewhere before.

Since I slept through much of the day (still working nights), there is enough rebuttal here, here, here, and here to go around.

What I'm tired of more than Bush's speeches themselves is the right sided blogs crowing after everyone of them about how great they are and how they will change the public's perception. They won't. Most of the public probably didn't watch the speech. And the same he said/he said news reporting that drives Democrats nuts works against the President on this one, as rebuttal is just a paragraph away.

Let's be clear. The President's repetition is not going to drive sudden support for the war. Misleading statements made to defend his actions are just going to draw more attention to the fact that he's making misleading statements in the first place. And that what the American public is now taking issue with.

It's times like these I forget how out of touch the blogging world can be with the common man.

*UPDATE* Reid's reponse. Where's the "Reid forcefully rebuts President" headlines?
Attacking those patriotic Americans who have raised serious questions about the case the Bush Administration made to take our country to war does not provide us a plan for success that will bring our troops home. Americans seek the truth about how the nation committed our troops to war because the decision to go to war is too serious to be entered into under faulty pretenses. While the Bush administration continues to stonewall the Congress from finding the truth about the manipulation of prewar intelligence, Democrats will continue to press for a full airing of the facts. We stand with our troops when we ask the hard questions, and with their families when we fight to get them, their families and our veterans the benefits they deserve.

Arrested Development cancelled


*UPDATE* Sign some petitions here

Mortgage intrest deduction DOA

That ends that:
A Republican lawmaker said changes to the mortgage interest deduction won't get through Congress.

Rep. Jerry Weller of Illinois said he has enough support to kill the idea in the House Ways and Means Committee if it even gets that far.

Arnold speaks

Arnold now says he's taking full responsibility for the $50 million dollar special election. I think most of the voters realized he's the one to blame already, and that's reflected in his dismal poll numbers.

Schwarzenegger adds:
"If I would do another 'Terminator' movie, I would have Terminator travel back in time to tell Arnold not to have a special election." He also said his wife, Maria Shriver, had warned him not to go ahead with the election.

It wasn't just Maria that warned him. The entire state, in multiple polls, told Arnold to call things off. The Democrat-led legislature passed a bill that would have allowed him to pull the plug on this side show and get some real work done. And Arnold took political misstep after misstep to get himself to where he stands today - an unpopular and partisan governor.

Well Democrats let him up? Well, to a degree the ones in the legislature have little choice. Their approval ratings aren't any better than Arnold's, which reflects the publics desire to see something come out of Sacramento rather than partisan bickering. But legislative Democrats need to get out in front of this, presenting their agenda for helping California so that Arnold appears to give in to them rather than waiting for Arnold's next move.

*UPDATE* Well this is certainly an odd turn of events:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has dropped the fight against one of his most vocal critics, deciding to stop battling the California Nurses Association over hospital staffing ratios.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed a motion late Thursday on behalf of the governor's office withdrawing the state's appeal of an earlier court ruling.

"The governor is going to stop going after registered nurses and patient ratios. For us, it is an enormous victory," nurses union executive director Rose Ann DeMoro said Friday, after the motion was made public.

Of course his big loss at the polls had a lot to do with this move, as Arnold now tries and makes friends with the group he's vilified and promised to kick the asses of. My guess is that nurses have never seen an ass kicking so good.

Politically, this is problem the wrong time to make this kind of move. Arnold's willingness to relent is a sign of his weakness in light of Tuesday's debacle. My only thought is Arnold is trying to get all his mistakes atoned for now so they don't loom as large come 2006.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

So it's begun

Remember from last year that Happy Holidays is insult to Christianity. Wal-Mart apparently didn't get the memo.

So do I want the boycott to succeed and bring down Wal-Mart, or do I want it to fail so people who find Happy Holidays offensive remain out of power? And if Target doesn't renege on it's pledge last year, where will these folks be force to shop? Mom and pop stores?

Republicans fail again

This should give the base fits and starts.

As reported last night, moderate Republicans forced out the ANWR drilling provision from the latest budget bill. Today, the more extreme have spoken out and force the GOP leadership to scrap the bill for now:
Unable to ensure a majority for a contentious budget-cutting bill even after jettisoning a plan for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, House Republican leaders this afternoon pulled back from a floor debate.

Democrats and other House officials said they had been informed that the budget vote that had been promised repeatedly by the leadership would be postponed. The turmoil was the latest sign of Republican dissension and represented a major embarrassment for the Republican leadership, particularly Roy Blunt of Missouri, who is serving as temporary majority leader and would like the job on a full-time basis if legal troubles persist for Representative Tom DeLay.

Anything that reminds voters of the GOP's problems is alright with me.

Frist in the forest

Which do you think concerns the average American more: the leak of information that America runs clandestine prisons around the world, or what goes on in the prisons themselves. Bill Frist is banking on the former:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says he is more concerned about the leak of information regarding secret CIA detention centers than activity in the prisons themselves.

Frist told reporters Thursday that while he believed illegal activity should not take place at detention centers, he believes the leak itself poses a greater threat to national security and is "not concerned about what goes on" behind the prison walls.

While leaks should be investigated, this sounds like Frist missing "the forest for the trees" as one of his colleagues so aptly put it, and is a bit of a pander to those who feel torture is perfectly acceptable as American policy.

Anything that continues to push the idea that America condones torture is going to be bad news for the Republicans in charge who have mandated this policy. Therefore I encourage Frist to continue to take the stand that he has, because the media continue to question his rather bizarre stance.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hillary should wait 'til 2012

So should Obama and Bill Richardson at least according to the latest Zogby poll:
...[W]hen asked if a woman would be elected president in 2008, 61.3 percent of the survey respondents declared it was not likely (29.7 percent said it was slightly likely). Respondents were more optimistic about the future, though. Fifty-two percent said it was slightly likely that a woman would be elected in the 2012 election, with 17 percent saying they thought it was highly likely.

Respondents had similar thoughts about the chances of a minority politician occupying the Oval Office. Almost 65 percent said it was unlikely a minority candidate would be elected in 2008, but 54 percent thought it was slightly likely and 15 percent thought it highly likely in 2012. Forty-three percent believe an African-American will be the first minority president, while 42 percent believe a Hispanic-American will be the first.

ANWR safe... for now

This is a victory for Democrats and moderate Republicans and a blow for the President, who has made ANWR drilling a top priority now that everything else has fallen apart for him. It also shows the extreme disarray that the GOP currently is in.

Granted it is entirely possible when the House and Senate meet to reconcile their bills that ANWR drilling will be reinserted and become an issue once again. But for now, ANWR is safe:
House leaders late Wednesday abandoned an attempt to push through a hotly contested plan to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil drilling, fearing it would jeopardize approval of a sweeping budget bill Thursday.

They also dropped from the budget document plans to allow states to authorize oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts - regions currently under a drilling moratorium.


Marnie Funk, a spokeswoman for Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said that Domenici considers the ANWR provision, which the Senate approved, "one of the most critical components" in the budget package. "He is committed to coming back to the Senate from the conference with ANWR intact," she said.

It will be interesting to see how the 25 moderate Republicans would react to that. Hopefully they will maintain their current stance. It not, it's a question of how long the floor vote will remain open until Tom DeLay can work his wicked ways.

Tying another lead balloon on in Maryland

First Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele fundraises with a guy under investigation for possible perjury and outing a CIA agent, and now he's willing to take on the weight of George Bush's dismal approval ratings by having the President make an appearance at his next fundraiser.

Bush's latest approval rating in the state of Maryland? 33%. Don't think the other 2/3rds of the state won't be hearing about the Rove/Bush/Steele endlessly as the campaign heats up.

Trees, what trees?

I think a lot of Americans would agree with Senator Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) response to the Frist-Haestert probe into who leaked information of clandestine prisons to the press:
Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. The real story is those jails.

The thing about an investigation is the people are only going to care if they think what's being investigated is worthwhile. And people will probably care more about the idea that the C.I.A. may be violating international treaty in secret prisons worldwide than the actual leak itself.

If Democrats want to push this and take a look at the prisons themselves, it sounds like both Graham and Republican Chris Shays would fully support that as well. And with Trent Lott's revelation that it may be a Republican Senator behind the initial leak, it may not be a bad idea.

A bad night for Arnold

It's a final - Arnold lost. And big. In fact, the two initiatives he pushed the hardest (budget and redistricting) did the worst out of the four he championed.

So what does it all mean? Arnold is certainly not the political force he once was. His threats to end-run the legislature if they do not bow to his will become a lot more hollow and should embolden the Democrats in Sacramento to do the people's work with a little less fear.

Arnold needs to figure out how to reconnect with the people, perhaps by actually governing. And you can tell that he knows he'll have to eat a lot of crow in his message to voters at his "victory" party last night:
"We ... need more bipartisan cooperation to make it happen," Schwarzenegger said to loud cheers, "and I promise I will deliver that because Californians believe we need reform.

If Arnold follows through on this pledge, and actual progress comes from Sacramento next year, we may be talking of Governor Arnold in 2007. For now, Arnold needs to take away some humility from this debacle and quickly learn his lessons.

More good news

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley announced that Social Security reform is dead until at least 2009. Which should be a great campaign issue for Democrats when they note that a vote for Republicans in 2008 will be a vote for the destruction proposals we witness throughout the past year.

We don't do torture

But we do find loopholes that allow it (my emphesis):
A classified report issued last year by the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general warned that interrogation procedures approved by the C.I.A. after the Sept. 11 attacks might violate some provisions of the international Convention Against Torture, current and former intelligence officials say.

The previously undisclosed findings from the report, which was completed in the spring of 2004, reflected deep unease within the C.I.A. about the interrogation procedures, the officials said. A list of 10 techniques authorized early in 2002 for use against terror suspects included one known as waterboarding, and went well beyond those authorized by the military for use on prisoners of war.


In his report, [C.I.A. inspector general John L.] Helgerson also raised concern about whether the use of the techniques could expose agency officers to legal liability, the officials said. They said the report expressed skepticism about the Bush administration view that any ban on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under the treaty does not apply to C.I.A. interrogations because they take place overseas on people who are not citizens of the United States.

Which also explains why big Dick is so hardcore on exempting the C.I.A. from the McCain amendment prohibiting torture.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Initiative fatigue

I can't help but wonder as Arnold's special election proves to be a phenomenal waste of time and taxpayer money if the people of California are finally getting tired of rule by initiative. It will be interesting to see how props perform next year when coupled with an actual campaign, but the general feel I get from folks I talked to is that everything will be a hard sell come 2006.

It would be nice to hear one of the Democratic candidates for Governor pledge to avoid the initiative process and actually governor the state rather than resort to these showy financial nightmares. I won't hold my breath.

The California initiatives

Results continue to trickle in, but as of 12:47 PT, I'm calling it a night. Congrats to Californians. I wonder how well Arnold's sleeping right now.

California results (83.9% reporting)
Prop 73 (Teenage Abortion)
No 51.8 Yes 48.2

Prop 74 (Teacher Tenure)
No 54.0 Yes 46.0

Prop 75 (Public Union Dues)
No 51.9 Yes 48.1

Prop 76 (Governor Budget Control)
No 61.0 Yes 39.0
*UPDATE* Sac Bee reports this has been "decisively rejected" by the voters.

Prop 77 (Redistricting)
No 58.2 Yes 41.8
*UPDATE* The "nays" have it. AP calls this one defeated as well.

Prop 78 (Drug Company backed discounts)
No 58.4 Yes 41.6
*UPDATE* Failed. I'm reasonably sure the drug companies aren't oo upset about this one. And it sounds like it's something they could've done without voter approval anyway.

Prop 79 (Mandatory drug discounts)
Yes 38.6 No 61.4
*UPDATE* Failed. $80 million dollars in drug industry money will do that.

Prop 80 (Energy Regulation)
Yes 34.1 No 65.9
I wonder if this is losing because of the complete lack of coverage, or the fear that Californian's must now have when talking of energy regulation.
*UPDATE* AP reports this one's rejected.

Guess all those reports of Arnolds internal numbers were way wrong.

San Diego Mayor (93.7% reporting)
Donna Frye (D) 45.85% Jerry Sanders (R) 54.15%
*UPDATE* The San Diego Union-Tribune reports at 11:00 PTthat Frye has conceded. Here's the story.

Election returns while I was out

*UPDATED throughout the night until I have to leave*

Virginia Governor (99.05% reporting)
T Kaine (D) - 51.82% J Kilgore (R) - 45.91% H Potts (I) - 2.18%
Congrats to Tim Kaine, the new Democratic Governor of Virginia! Guess that Bush stopover last night did nothing to help Kilgore.

Ohio State Issues
Issue 2 (Absentee Balloting)
Yes 36.40% No 63.60%

Issue 3 (Contribution Limits)
Yes 32.67% No 67.33%

Issue 4 (Redistricting Future)
Yes 28.85% No 70.15%

Issue 5 (Role of Sec. of State)
Yes 29.41% No 70.59%
A disappointing night for Ohio.

New Jersey Governor (259/6310 reporting)
Corzine (D) 53.03% Forrester (R) 43.64%
Congrats to Jon Corzine, new Democratic Governor of New Jersey!

Election returns, 5:57pm PT

*UPDATED throughout the night until I have to leave*

Virginia Governor (72.30% reporting)
T Kaine (D) - 50.80% J Kilgore (R) - 46.95% H Potts (I) - 2.17%

I would think the bigger the number for Potts, the worse the news for Kilgore. Offered as proof, the Democrat candidate for Lt. Gov is almost equal to Kaine's, while the Republican is carrying Kilgore + Potts. *UDPATE* (4:49 Pacific) That's not the case anymore, as the Democrat for Lt Gov. and Att General now lead their Republican opponents.

Ohio State Issues
Issue 2 (Absentee Balloting)
Yes 36.09% No 63.91%

Issue 3 (Contribution Limits)
Yes 32.87% No 67.13%

Issue 4 (Redistricting Future)
Yes 28.21% No 71.79%

Issue 5 (Role of Sec. of State)
Yes 28.61% No 71.39%

New Jersey Governor (259/6310 reporting)
Corzine (D) 52.22% Forrester (R) 45.55%