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

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Three minutes is a winner

Those of you who had three minutes on the "When will President Bush mention 9/11 in his State of the Union address?" poll cash in your tickets now. Three minutes is a winner!

Here's the text of the speech if you, like me, don't really feel like watching it. I read most of it, and all I can say is so much for the party of new ideas. I think I've heard this all before, from the war on terror, to women and their relationship with their ob/gyns.

Think Progress is doing some good fact checking as well, so scroll up from here for that.

And, I must ask, is the really the priority of things for the country? The war on terror and its subsidiaries of it, and then AIDS/HIV, followed by domestic spying? Why do I feel that Americans are more concerned at this point with domestic spying, as well as health care and unemployment then they are about the President's AIDS policy? Again, I must be an out of touch Democrat.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Clinton's legacy

Former president Bill Clinton has been buddying up to both presidents Bush in what strategists right and left view as a bid to salvage his political legacy and boost the ambitions of his senator wife.

The article then goes on to quote a strategist from the right:
"It's definitely to help his wife, and it's certainly to rebuild his legacy which was basically left in shambles by the time he left the White House," said Alexandra Preate of Republican political strategists Political Capital LLC.

Guess how many strategists from the left get quoted?

And I should point out that Clinton was both very popular when he left office and remains popular since he has left, recently being hailed as the third best President in history by Americans, behind only Lincoln and JFK:
When Clinton left office, the huge deficit that piled up during the years of Reagan and Bush Sr. had been replaced by the largest federal budget surplus in history. Employment and homeownership had soared; poverty and unemployment rates had dropped.

What a shambles of a legacy to leave behind. No wonder Republicans still view Bush as a success.

Saving like there's no tomorrow

That's what Americans' seem to be doing:
Americans'’ personal savings rate dipped into negative territory in 2005, something that hasn'’t happened since the Great Depression. Consumers depleted their savings to finance the purchases of cars and other big-ticket items.

The Commerce Department reported Monday that the savings rate fell into negative territory at minus 0.5 percent, meaning that Americans not only spent all of their after-tax income last year but had to dip into previous savings or increase borrowing.

The savings rate has been negative for an entire year only twice before - in 1932 and 1933 - two years when the country was struggling to cope with the Great Depression, a time of massive business failures and job layoffs.

In that case, let's propose a health care program that pushes the burden onto the worker and costs more out of pocket for them! As Ezra points out here, HSAs don't work if people don't save money in them. So America's inability to save seems to bode poorly for the President's latest proposal. Well, his proposal might work, it's just that millions of Americans who think they have some sort of coverage will come up short when it comes time for medical care.

Because Exxon needs it

That's why:
Exxon Mobil Corp. posted a record quarterly profit for a U.S. company on Monday $10.71 billion in the fourth quarter as the world's biggest publicly traded oil company benefited from high oil and gas prices and demand for refined products.

The company's earnings amounted to $1.71 per share, up from $8.42 billion, or $1.30 per share, in the year ago quarter. The result topped the then-record quarterly profit of $9.92 billion Exxon posted in the 2005 third quarter.

Millions of low-income people would have to pay more for health care under a bill worked out by Congress, and some of them would forgo care or drop out of Medicaid because of the higher co-payments and premiums, the Congressional Budget Office says in a new report.

The Senate has already approved the measure, the first major effort to rein in federal benefit programs in eight years, and the House is expected to vote Wednesday, clearing the bill for President Bush.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Mr. Bush plans to recommend a variety of steps to help people obtain health insurance and cope with rising health costs. But the bill, the Deficit Reduction Act, written by Congress over the last year with support from the White House, could reduce coverage and increase the number of uninsured, the budget office said.

I'm not saying that Exxon benefits from the decision to cut low income workers from health care. But it seems odd that, in a time when more Americans are losing health care and falling into poverty, Exxon continues to post record profits, and the only response from Capitol Hill is tax cuts for the oil industry.

It must have something to do with me being a Democrat and not being in tune with moral values.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


While I appreciate the argument here that principle is a good reason to stand up to Samuel Alito, I find the arguments here and here much more persuasive.

The whole idea of filibustering Alito would work wonders for the Democrats had he said that he opposes abortion, or favors the killing of kittens with hammers by our President, or that the President should change his title to king and rule the land with an iron fist.

But they didn't. And the filibuster, which is pretty obvious headed to failure, is based on the pretense that Alito will do all those things above and more. And if he doesn't do those things, well, the Democrats will look even more foolish. In fact, it'd be a double failure, because they not only misjudged Alito, but they also launched an unsuccessful and ultimately worthless filibuster.

And don't think that the media won't point it out if Alito votes to uphold Roe, etc. They'll happily point to the confused Democrats who wasted the public's time blah blah blah forever.

Now, I fully believe that Alito will vote to overturn abortion, give Bush insulation from all lawsuits against him, and start the killing of kittens. And if this is true, Democrats can always point out that they tried, and ultimately failed to keep him off the court. The reason will be clear - the public trusted Republicans to protect their interests, and the Republicans have let them down.

And that, to me, seems like a good campaign issue to run on.

All you need to know about health care policies

New York Times:
Where Mr. Clinton was driven by a desire to guarantee health insurance for every American, Mr. Bush is focusing primarily on health costs, which he says are swamping employers and threatening economic growth. Where Mr. Clinton favored a larger role for government, Mr. Bush has a fundamentally different philosophy, built on the idea that placing more responsibility in the hands of individuals will create market pressure to hold down costs.

So to recap:
Clinton - driven by providing health care to everyone, and saw government as the vehicle to do this

Bush - driven by the idea that health care costs are bad for business, and sees risk driven markets as the way to accomplish lower costs.

Now, a few questions.

1) Which plan seems to be more concerned with the average American? Which plan seems to be more concerned with the effect of health care on business?

2) Which plan seems to favor equal coverage for all? Which plan favors putting more risk on the shoulders of those who are supposed to be protected?

I'm sure Ezra could add more to this. But the basic idea seems pretty obvious to me.


See Bush, George W.:
A majority of Americans are more likely to vote for a candidate in November's congressional elections who opposes President Bush, and 58 percent consider his second term a failure so far, according to a poll released Thursday.

Fewer people consider Bush to be honest and trustworthy now than did a year ago, and 53 percent said they believe his administration deliberately misled the public about Iraq's purported weapons program before the U.S. invasion in 2003, the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found.

Which makes me wonder how people like Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana can say this with a straight face (my emphasis):
"I think this president is a man of unimpeachable integrity," Pence said. "The American people have profound confidence in him. And as Abraham Lincoln said, `Give the people the facts and republican governance perhaps will be saved."'

It would seem that Republicans like Pence are the ones most out of touch with the country, and not the Democrats as a whole. But I doubt we'll hear that one mentioned anytime soon.

That liberal media

Houston Chronicle:
Bush is relying on progress in Iraq and his handling of the war on terror to ballast perceptions of his leadership, in what is likely to be his last year of uninterrupted legacy-making before the campaign to replace him begins.

ABC News, Jan 29, 2006:
On Iraq, 55 percent say the war was not worth fighting and 60 percent disapprove of how Bush is handling it. On the deficit, 64 percent disapprove of his work; on health care 60 percent; on immigration 57 percent; on ethics 56 percent (see separate Jan. 27 analysis on ethics). Six in 10 say the economy's hurting. Six in 10 don't think Bush understands their problems. Fifty-three percent don't see him as honest and trustworthy.

Considering that more people disapproved of his handling of Iraq that any other issue except his handling of the deficit, I'm thinking that "anchor" would be a better description than "ballast," and most liberals would no doubt agree.

Except, apparently, those in the media.

They're both happy we're in Iraq

That's one possible answer to the question, "What do Republicans and Iran have in common?" Their reasoning, however, is a little different:
"America is extremely vulnerable right now," said Akbar Alami, a member of the Iran's Parliament often critical of the government but on this point hewing to the government line. "If the U.S. takes any unwise action" to punish Iran for pursuing its nuclear program, he said, "certainly the U.S. and other countries will share the harm."

Iranians know that American forces, now stretched thin, are unlikely to invade Iran. And if the United States or Europe were to try a small-scale, targeted attack, the proximity of American forces makes them potential targets for retaliation. Iranians also know the fighting in Iraq has helped raise oil prices, and any attempt to impose sanctions could push prices higher.

In addition, the Iranians have longstanding ties to influential Shiite religious leaders in Iraq, and at least one recently promised that his militia would make real trouble for the Americans if they moved militarily against Iran.

All of those calculations have reduced Iranian fears of going ahead with their nuclear program — a prospect that frightens not just the United States, Europe and Israel, but many of the Sunni Muslim-dominated nations in the region, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

I've pointed out before that by our actions and lack of planning in Iraq, we gave Iran a golden opportunity to continue their push for nuclear weapons. It's disappointing, but unsurprising, to hear it from the other side as well.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Should go without saying

Getting back to Glenn Greenwald's post, it should go without saying that if there was a bill proposed to allow Bush to do what he wanted to do, and it was voted down (and opposed by the White House), then Bush and co. knew what they were doing was illegal, and they just didn't care.

Reid comes out firing

It's a start:
The PresidentÂ’s failed record speaks for itself.

Just over four years ago, Osama Bin Laden attacked America and took 3,000 lives. The President said at the time that he wanted Bin Laden "“dead or alive."

But four years later, Bin Laden is still on the loose and continues to threaten America. Meanwhile, the number of terrorist attacks across the world has increased, and we now face the risk that Iraq will become what it was not before the war: a haven and launching pad for international terrorism.

Four years ago, the President declared Iraq, Iran, and North Korea an "axis of evil,"” whose nuclear threats we needed to preemptively strike.

But four years... 23 hundred American lives... and more than 250 billion dollars later, we have found that Iraq had no nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the problem of Iran has been outsourced to Europeans, and North KoreaÂ’s nuclear weapons program has likely quadrupled.

Four years ago, the President said in his State of the Union: "America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity" which include the "the rule of law."

But four years later, we've heard that the President has ignored the rule of law in order to spy on Americans. We've also found that the White House given the green light to torture, even though it violated our laws and made our troops less safe.

After reviewing the Republican record, I know why Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove want to play politics with national security in 2006 instead of having an honest debate about who can keep Americans safe. It's because this is a debate Republicans cannot win.

Go read the whole thing, as they say.

And it's only a good start, because the predictable comeback will be, "What will Democrats do differently?" That's an answer that will need to be addressed soon.

Here's a suggestion/question: What if Democrats pledged, in conjuction with troop withdrawal from Iraq, a full military campaign to capture Osama? Assuming political differences could be hammered out with Pakistan and such, would it help boost their standing in the public eyes?

Against it before... you know

Glenn Greenwald:
So, in June, 2002, the Administration refused to support elimination of the very barrier ("probable cause") which Gen. Hayden claimed yesterday necessitated the circumvention of FISA. In doing so, the Administration identified two independent reasons for opposing this amendment. One reason was that the Justice Department was not aware of any problems which the Administration was having in getting the warrants it needed under FISA...

The Bush White House better get their talking points down soon, or the whole country is going to start to see them as untrustworthy, and not just the close to 60% that already do.

The first poll is one that I missed completely. It suggests that a plurality of the country has pretty much given up on the Bush presidency as a whole.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Where were you a week ago?

I can't seem to find a clip or quote, but Mike Pence was just shown on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer stating that getting Alito on the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Guess the 44% of Americans who base their approval of Alito on the idea that he won't overturn it are out of luck, huh? And not just them, but the 66% who don't think Roe v. Wade should be overturned are screwed, too.

Thanks, folks.

As seen on TV

Is Pat Buchanan really trivializing the war on terror by comparing it to a television show? You betcha:
The left may be right on the law, but the people seem to be standing by Bush. Believing the character of this war, where the enemy's preferred tactic is to slaughter civilians with terror bombings, people seem to agree that we have to follow Jack Bauer's rules, not ACLU rules.

As I've said before, it doesn't matter if people think it's okay to break the law, the law still stands. Whether it's wiretaps, speeding, or cheating on ones taxes, people who get caught still must suffer consequences, and they must be held to the rule of law or the country devolves.

Pat also uses '24' to justify torture, even though these situations often present themselves only in Hollywood, the same city that Republicans rail against as corrupting America. Go figure. But as Kevin Drum argued about last year's episode, torture doesn't really work on the show, either. And let's not forget that torture fails to produce any better results in real life, never mind the moral and ethical arguments of it all.

But now we know what Pat Buchanan thinks we should do to win the war on terror - sit around and laugh at '24.'

*UPDATE* Oh, and I should point out that the ACLU/terorrist battle is a straw man as best. The ACLU is not on the side of terrorists, but on the side of rule of law. Something, it seems, the current President has some serious problems with. And if you aren't with him, well, you know...

The psychology of medicine

People are a-talkin' about Airborne, the dietary supplement that, well, doesn't actually claim to do anything (Go check their website if you don't believe me. I'm not about to promote it, though). But look what's printed right there on the box:
As the package disclaimer notes, it is "not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."

There are people I know who claim this stuff really works, and they haven't had a cold since they started using it. But as a control, I haven't gotten sick since they started either. And I don't touch the stuff.

That aside, I can't help but wonder if this will be part of the President's health care plan - a placebo designed to make you feel better, but that actually has no real impact, or could make you worse.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Oh, Crap

If this is true, and Westly and Angelidies are forced into a knock-down drag-out battle for the Democratic nomination for Governor, Democrats may very well lose their best chance to take down an already weakened Arnold.

When will Democrats learn that fighting each other, especially when there's not much difference on policy, is a bad idea, and focusing on defeating opponents is the best strategy for victory?

Will the Westly camp realize this before it's too late?

Remember Afghanistan?

One of my main problems with the war on Iraq was that it clearly distracted the country from finishing the job in Afghanistan. You remember, the place that Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban lived, that group that attacked and killed thousands of Americans on Sept 11, 2001.

Instead, we took our eyes off the prize, turned over much of the military operation to local "allies," and left.

Bad move:
Two years after the Pakistani Army began operations in border tribal areas to root out members of Al Qaeda and other foreign militants, Pakistani officials who know the area say the military campaign is bogged down, the local political administration is powerless and the militants are stronger than ever.

Both Osama bin Laden, who released a new audiotape of threats against the United States this week, and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are believed to be living somewhere in the seven districts that make up these tribal areas, which run for more than 500 miles along the rugged Afghan border and have been hit by several American missile strikes in recent weeks.

The officials said they had been joined by possibly hundreds of foreign militants from Arab countries, Central Asia and the Caucasus, who present a continuing threat to the authorities within the region.

Again, this is something we might have been able to snuff had we stuck around. Instead, things seem to be going from bad to worse, and one has to wonder how long it will be before suicide bombings in Afghanistan become news again here in America.

White House spies

Looks like they've been illegally monitoring whoever they want.

Sleep safe America. Someone's watching you.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Legal and public support

Apparently, the Bush administration doesn't care about the difference. As long as the public supports them, they can blame the courts for not caring about the war rather than protecting every American's civil liberties.

And here's more lies:
Karl Rove, the president's deputy chief of staff, spoke at length to the Republican National Committee on the monitoring. "Let me be as clear as I can be," he said. "President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they are calling and why.

"Some important Democrats clearly disagree," he said, referring to a full-page ad in Friday's New York Times calling on Bush to leave office.

Democrats, too, believe that if Al Qaeda calls Americans, that the conversation should be tapped and monitored. They just think the proper warrants should be issued to monitor the calls so any evidence discovered will be admissible in court. Democrats also believe that Americans not talking to Al Qaeda shouldn't have to wonder if the government is listening to them.

I'd really like to see the media provide some response to these baseless allegations.

America's "nightmare"

It may be too late, but this may help frame the Alito debate:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told Republican Party activists on Friday night that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito was the "worst nightmare of liberal Democrats."

And what's one thing that liberal Democrats love, according to Republicans? Abortions! And what's the issue that could turn public sentiment against Alito? Abortions!

At the very least, Democrats should start talking about this, and soon.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Mehlman and Rove accused the Democrats of trying to weaken the USA Patriot Act and of embracing calls for a premature exit from Iraq. They defended Bush's use of warrantless eavesdropping to gather intelligence about possible terrorist plots. "Do Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean really think that when the NSA is listening in on terrorists planning attacks on America, they need to hang up when those terrorists dial their sleeper cells in the United States?" Mehlman asked.

If I may speak for Dean and Pelosi, the answer would be no. The FISA courts would no doubt authorize such an exchange, and there would be no need to break the law in order to listen in to what was being said.

It would have been nice to see the Post to go to Dean or Pelosi and ask them for a response, or at least explain the faulty logic in his argument. Instead, the Post leaves it untouched.

Defining "terrorist"

Taking a hard line:
The United States will not let up in the war on terror despite bin Laden's latest threats, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "We do not negotiate with terrorists," McClellan said. "We put them out of business." His sentiments were echoed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Except, of course, when we negotiate with terrorists:
Iraq's national security adviser complained bitterly in an interview published about secret US contacts with Iraqi insurgents, warning that the "policy of appeasement" would undermine security.

National Security Adviser Mowaffak Rubaie told the Washington Times that the contacts with so-called Iraqi "rejectionists" were being carried out behind the back of the Shiite-dominated government.

As I said yesterday, a certain amount of talking makes sense. Doing so behind the back of the Iraqi government, however, seems like the bad way to do it.

Taking down Arnold

Some members of California's GOP aim to do just that:
Republican activists disenchanted with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Thursday that they will try to strip the governor of the party's endorsement unless he fires his new chief of staff, Democrat Susan P. Kennedy.

Restive Republicans said they would rally conservatives behind a resolution, to be offered at the state GOP convention in San Jose next month, that may give Schwarzenegger an ultimatum: Dump Kennedy by March 15 or the party will withdraw its backing of his reelection bid.

Drafts of the resolution are circulating, and proponents of the idea are planning to meet in Palm Springs this weekend to discuss strategy.

First off, this isn't going to happen. Arnold is still the Republican's best shot to maintain the governorship of California. Without him, they may as well pack up and go home in 2006.

Some polls suggest that the appointment state Republicans hate most may have buoyed his approval ratings somewhat, although I'm personally not so sure. Falling out of the spotlight as a man who wants to take on teachers, firefighters, and the like I think has helped him more. But this move especially is an attempt to get Arnold to appeal to the center and left in a largely liberal leaning state. And if he caves in to party demands, he'll be viewed by the voting majority as a puppet of the right, something that would actually turn off a majority of voters. It'd be akin to political suicide.

The party would also miss out on his fundraising ability both here in the state and nationwide. While Arnold may not be the most liked Republican, he still holds a lot of power and a lot of draw. And, again, the Republicans will need all the help they can get to maintain election advantages in the upcoming election.

Having said that, I hope they're very successful, and I encourage more intraparty squabbles that will benefit Democrats in the future.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dick Cheney's balls

"The enemy that struck on 9/11 is weakened, fractured, but still lethal and still determined to hit us again," he said. "Either we are serious about fighting this war on terror or we are not."

For a guy who was instrumental in getting us involved in a war that had nothing to do with the enemy that struck us on 9/11, these are mighty big words. Maybe if we'd focused a little harder on the enemy that actually struck on 9/11, they would be both less lethal and less determined to hit us again. Instead, we're stuck with reminders of one of the Bush administration's biggest failures in the war on terror - bringing the guy responsible for 9/11 to justice.

And we're so serious about capturing Osama that we started a whole new war that had no connection to him, forcing our troops to be tied up in a different country and diverting resources to a new front in the war on terror.

Know thy enemy

I'm with Ezra on this one. I mean, what if all it takes to get Bin Laden to turn himself and his fellow terrorists in is a promise of fresh towels and a mint on their jail cell pillow? Are you saying that those demands aren't worth an end to the war on terror?

Of course, demands by Al Qaeda would be far more serious and more likely to involve things we would be unable to support. And I'm not here to suggest that we cave in to everything, because that would simply provoke further attacks by other organizations and be an appeasement style peace at best.

But there are reasons to believe that more knowledge leads to a better defense. And we can listen to the guy without acting on anything, still beat our chests and declare we don't negotiate with terrorists, and no one loses any sleep over the deal. But we would be able to better access the threat and move to protect any newly threatened interests that may arise because of it.

We've been trying the big stick approach for years now, with marginal success. Perhaps now is the time to speak softly and see where it can get us.

Bush's place in history

A Gallup Poll report said the average approval rating for Bush's fifth year, which ended on Thursday, was 45.8 percent. That is well behind the fifth-year averages of Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Harry Truman.

It was only slightly better than Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, who were both nearing unhappy ends to their presidencies in their fifth year due to the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, respectively.

We should be so lucky.

Who's this guy

And when did he run for President?
"You'd think the only focus tonight would be on destroying Osama Bin Laden, not comparing him to an American who opposes the war whether you like him or not. You want a real debate that America needs? Here goes: If the administration had done the job right in Tora Bora we might not be having discussions on Hardball about a new Bin Laden tape. How dare Scott McClellan tell America that this Administration puts terrorists out of business when had they put Osama Bin Laden out of business in Afghanistan when our troops wanted to, we wouldn't have to hear this barbarian's voice on tape. That's what we should be talking about in America." -- John Kerry

That's in response to Chris Matthews' claim that Osama reminded him of Michael Moore.

It's becoming more and more clear that Matthews was just a mole infiltrating the liberal media to take it over from the inside. I'm sure the rest of the liberal media will stand up and denounce him. In fact, I'm quite surprised no one's done it already.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

(Not) Helping those that help others

Star Tribune:
Minnesota on Wednesday began paying pharmacists $1.6 million for drugs they've given to low-income people who mistakenly were denied nearly free drugs by Medicare and their drug-insurance plans.

And that's just the bill for 24,451 claims filed by pharmacists through midnight Tuesday.

The state denied payment on 6,193 claims. In coming weeks, pharmacists likely will seek millions more.

Also Wednesday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty's executive council extended for 30 days his five-day emergency order issued Saturday approving the payments. State officials hope that by then, Medicare will solve problems that have left hundred of thousands of poor Americans struggling to get needed medicine.

Not to worry, Minnesota. Surely this money will be reimbursed by the feds since it was their mistake, right? Not so:
Medicare administrator Mark McClellan said the new Medicare legislation was clear: "Under this program, we don't have the authority to pay states directly. People are in Medicare drug plans, and it's the Medicare plans that are supposed to pay for the medications."

That could create an administrative nightmare for states such as California that stepped up to safeguard the health of low-income elderly and disabled people whose Medicare coverage has not materialized because of administrative problems and poor planning by Medicare officials.

As others have noted, these shortfalls in coverage had been foreseen for weeks. Rather than address the problems, the Bush administration said no such problem existed. And once again, their rhetoric failed to meet the reality of the situation.

This truly is the worst plan ever.

All hat, no reform

The Post describes the GOP's efforts to reform government lobbying:
According to lobbyists and ethics experts, even if Hastert's proposal is enacted, members of Congress and their staffs could still travel the world on an interest group's expense and eat steak on a lobbyist's account at the priciest restaurants in Washington.

The only requirement would be that whenever a lobbyist pays the bill, he or she must also hand the lawmaker a campaign contribution. Then the transaction would be perfectly okay.

So if you're a politician, you have to eat a free meal and take a campaign contribution as well?

Sounds like a real crackdown, doesn't it?

Shop Iraq

Remember this from a few days ago?
"The world is a competitive place," Tom Delare, economics counselor at the U.S. Embassy, said this month during a news briefing. "You have to convince the investor that it is worth his while to put his money in your community."

Delare is talking of rebuilding Iraq, something it seems the American government has had enough of since there is no new spending proposed as of now.

And what private investor wouldn't want to throw money into this:
An official assessment drawn up by the US foreign aid agency depicts the security situation in Iraq as dire, amounting to a "social breakdown" in which criminals have "almost free rein".

The "conflict assessment" is an attachment to an invitation to contractors to bid on a project rehabilitating Iraqi cities published earlier this month by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).

The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists" described by George Bush.

Sounds promising.


While you mat not agree with Paul Begala and James Carville's take on lobbying reform, I would think that these two initiatives would be almost universally approved:
The penalties for violation would be swift. If an incumbent accepts so much as a postage stamp, he loses his seat. If a challenger doesn't report contributions, he loses his shot. If you cheat, you are out on your ass.


What if a sitting congressman wants to run for senator, or a senator wants to run for president? Would he be allowed to raise funds? Sure. He'd just have to do what Bob Dole eventually did - —resign his Senate seat and hit the campaign trail like a regular citizen. If you want to run for higher office, you have to get off your current pedestal first.

Take these out of the context of Begala and Carville's no fund raising mantra, and you still have a couple of good ideas. Not allowing any violation should help keep Congressman on the up and up. If there is any doubt on Rep. DeA's part (to use a generic example) as to the legality of taking certain monies, he's more likely to err on the side of caution if he knows his job is at stake.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Suing in the name of...

Keep in mind as you read the spin that the Bushie's could very easily legally spy on the ACLU as long as the FISA court granted them permission. So when you read dreck like this, know it's just designed to make groups like the ACLU look bad. And this isn't about the rights of our "enemies," but the rights of average Americans who make phone calls overseas to be able to do so without having the NSA listen in.

The ACLU is not part of a lawsuit to outlaw all wiretaps on terrorists, just those that occur without court approval. You know, the ones that violated the law.

A sign of things to come

I'm sure we're going to see this paragraph appear a lot more in the future:
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., dissenting for the first time since he joined the court in September, sided with the two most conservative justices -- Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas....

Gore responds to the White House spin

I was going to refute the White House's latest spin on Al Gore's speech. Instead, I'll let the former Vice President speak for himself:
There are two problems with the Attorney General's effort to focus attention on the past instead of the present Administration's behavior. First, as others have thoroughly documented, his charges are factually wrong. Both before and after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 1995, the Clinton/Gore Administration complied fully and completely with the terms of the law.

Second, the Attorney General's attempt to cite a previous administration's activity as precedent for theirs - even though factually wrong - ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal.

The issue, simply put, is that for more than four years, the executive branch has been wiretapping many thousands of American citizens without warrants in direct contradiction of American law. It is clearly wrong and disrespectful to the American people to allow a close political associate of the president to be in charge of reviewing serious charges against him.

The bad hurt

What saddens me most about the SurveyUSA 50 state polls is how poor Bush's approval ratings sit in all those swing states that helped put him back in the White House.

I wish I could just shrug it off as a "you get what you pay for" kind of thing. But even those of us that knew better are paying for it.

And that's what hurts the most.

For the record:
West Virginia 46/51
Arizona 45/52
Colorado 43/55
Iowa 43/54
Virginia 43/55
Florida 42/55
New Mexico 42/56
Missouri 41/57
Nevada 39/59
Arkansas 38/59
Ohio 38/60

One can only hope that the Democrats can turn enough of these states on to their side by 2008, because the current administration has done more than enough to turn them off.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A vital tool...

NY Times, reporting on the NSA program involving wiretapping Americans without a warrant:
F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. The spy agency was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of phone and Internet traffic. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy.


More than a dozen current and former law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, including some in the small circle who knew of the secret program and how it played out at the F.B.I., said the torrent of tips led them to few potential terrorists inside the country they did not know of from other sources and diverted agents from counterterrorism work they viewed as more productive.


Here's a copy of the speech. Quite good.

And a story on the speech here. ABC News actually spoke with Gore afterwards:
Asked by ABC News following his speech whether President Bush's domestic spying program constituted an impeachable offense, Gore said it might be and pointed to one of the three Articles of Impeachment that the House Judiciary Committee approved against President Nixon on July 27, 1974.

"That's a legal determination for the Congress to make," Gore told ABC News. "But Article II of the impeachment charges against President Nixon was warrantless wiretapping that the President said was 'necessary' for national security."

"It can be" an impeachable offense, he added.

The President can claim just about anything is "necessary" for national security. I'd argue that the following the rule of law is tops on that list.


I'm not sure this is true:
Most of the 44 Senate Democrats and one independent are expected to vote against Alito. But no Democrat has threatened a filibuster, largely because they do not appear to have the 41 votes that would be needed in the 100-member Senate to sustain such a procedural roadblock.

While a majority of Democrats may vote to oppose Alito, they are not filibustering because they are afraid of losing. Instead, they must feel they will end up on the losing end of the political battle on Alito.

America shows a great amount of indifference to Alito's approval. Were they strongly opposed, Democrats would filibuster whether victory was assured or not. Then they claim they did all they could to stop Alito, Republicans take the party line approval track, and the country elects a new majority to the House/Senate.

But that's not the story line at hand. And that, in turn, is why the Democrats won't filibuster Sam Alito.

Unless, of course, they come up with something to change public view in the next week.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Fiscal cut and run

So much for the Pottery Barn rule in Iraq:
After more than 2 1/2 years of sputtering reconstruction work, the United States' "Marshall Plan" to rebuild this war-torn country is drawing to a close this year with much of its promise unmet and no plans to extend its funding.

The $18.6 billion approved by Congress in 2003 will be spent by the end of this year, officials here say. Foreign governments have given only a fraction of the billions they pledged two years ago.

With the country still a shambles, U.S. officials are promoting a tough-love vision of reconstruction that puts the burden on the Iraqi people.

"The world is a competitive place," Tom Delare, economics counselor at the U.S. Embassy, said this month during a news briefing. "You have to convince the investor that it is worth his while to put his money in your community."

And who wouldn't want to invest in this:
"If they say they have spent money, where is it?" asked Salah Qaragholi, 30, a barber in the poor neighborhood called Zafraniya. "Where are the projects? The electricity is only four hours a day."

Baghdad's roads are an obstacle course of barriers, potholes and debris. Many government and office buildings are either still gutted or strung with webs of electrical wire connecting to generators that run 12 hours on good days. A brown haze fouls the air and pools of sewage overflow dot the streets.

And thats to say nothing about the risks of car and suicide bombings, either.

Specter and the law

If I read this correctly, Arlen Specter, the man who heads the judiciary committee, thinks that while the President may have violated the law, he shouldn't be punished because what he did was in the best interest of the country.

I really wish I understood how the law works, because this defense seems a bit misguided. But I wouldn't be surprised to hear more of it if Bush's actions are, in fact, deemed illegal.

I'm noticing a trend

No Child Left Behind, Medicare reform, now Real ID:
An anti-terrorism law creating a national standard for all driver's licenses by 2008 isn't upsetting just civil libertarians and immigration rights activists.

State motor vehicle officials nationwide, including in California, have to carry out the Real ID Act, but say its authors grossly underestimated its logistical, technological and financial demands.

In a comprehensive survey obtained by The Associated Press and in follow-up interviews, officials cast doubt on the states' ability to comply with the law on time and fretted that it will be a budget buster.


I basically agree with what Atrios says here, but I think it behooves people to spend the greater part of their time emphasizing the degree to which Bush has made the situation worse rather than quibbling about exactly how bad the situation is.

I was just thinking that the fact we invaded a country based on an almost irrational fear that they would spread nukes (Iraq) has also helped lead Iran down this path. The only deterrent world wide from an American invasion seems to be nuclear weapons (and had we thought about it that way, we'd have known the Iraq/nuke hype was crap from the start). So now that we've shown Iran what we do to axis of evil members with no nukes, they certainly have the reason and desire to develop that deterrent.

Had we dealt with Iran first, and allowed the inspectors and airstrikes to continue to contain Sadaam in Iraq, well, it's possible none of this happens.

Full of sound and fury

In the end, signifying nothing:
Today, 44% of Americans believe the U.S. and its allies are winning the War on Terror. That matches precisely the level found on the two days leading up to the President's December 18 national address. However, a survey conducted on the two days after that speech found a 6-point bounce--50% of Americans believed that the U.S. and its allies were winning. That bounce has now faded.


Thirty-five percent (35%) of Americans now give the President good or excellent marks for handling the situation in Iraq. That's down from 40% following his December speech, but unchanged from 35% before the speech.

Miss-tater of the nation

Laura Bush, perhaps the only person left in the White House with a positive approval/disapproval spread, misstates the issue at hand:
First lady Laura Bush said Sunday that the U.S. government is right to eavesdrop on Americans with suspected ties to terrorists, and that President Bush worries that revelations about the domestic spying program will cripple efforts to foil terrorists.

"I think the American people expect the United States government and the president to do what they can to make sure there's not an attack by foreign terrorists," Mrs. Bush said just before landing here to begin a four-day stay in West Africa.

"I think he was worried that it would undermine our efforts by alerting terrorists to what our efforts are," she said.

As other have made quite clear, the matter is a legal one. Bush could have easily done what he did in the parameters of existing law. He could have protected the state of the nation while protecting the nation as well.

But he didn't.

The President instead has taken a position that a most of his supporters disagreed with before they knew he had done it. And now their opinion has swung a bit, and they are forced to justify something they will be vilifying Bill Clinton for.

And for the record, had Bill Clinton done it, I'd be against it just the same.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

28% delusion

That's Tom DeLay's approval rating in his district, according to the latest Houston Chronicle commissioned poll. And there's more:
In the general election, he would face former U.S. Rep Nick Lampson, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary and polls highest among the probable November candidates. DeLay also may be challenged by former Republican Rep. Steve Stockman, who has filed as an independent. Stockman will need to petition for a place on the ballot.

If the general election where held today, DeLay would get 22 percent of the vote, Lampson 30 percent, and Stockman 11 percent. The remainder are undecided or support other candidates. The ballot also will include a Libertarian Party nominee and possibly another independent.

While DeLay's district still leans right, it seems Lampson has a very good shot at unseating the now former house majority leader. And since he's running unopposed, shooting some funds his way will only help the cause. Help Nick Lampson restore a Democratic majority here.

Another reminder

It was just three months ago that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked California voters to approve a budget-reform measure he termed the "Live Within Our Means" act.

In releasing his state budget last week, the governor himself admitted that achieving such a goal was easier said that done. He succumbed to the state's chronic fiscal imbalance by offering a plan that spends more money than the state is expected to take in next fiscal year. In doing so, he admitted that balancing the budget was harder than he imagined when he took office.

It's clear that the focus of Arnold's new budget has less to do with "Living Within Our Means" and more to do with Arnold continuing to "Live Within the Governor's Mansion."

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Remember, this is one of Bush's "legacy" programs:
California officials ordered emergency action today to cover drug costs for hundreds of thousands of elderly Californians who have been caught in a maddening cycle of bureaucratic glitches in the new federal prescription drug program.

The action by California capped a day in which the new Medicare prescription drug program -- one of President Bush's signature domestic policy initiatives -- came under withering criticism across the country from governors and members of Congress of both political parties. Critics said the program, which Bush had touted as the most significant advance in Medicare in 40 years, was fast becoming a public health emergency.

In Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, ordered state funds to be used to provide emergency drug coverage for the elderly. So far, eight states, including California, have taken that action in the last several days.

Stupid headline of the night

CNN's front page:
Alito closer to confirmation vote

We are all closer to the confirmation vote. So is the nature of time.

I'm nitpicking, I know. But it seems the news media has already decided that Alito is in, so they no longer have to actually "report" on anything he's said or done, or any of his views or ideas, either.

Maybe if he'd gotten a blowjob from an intern...


Well, I wouldn't call him that:
Statewide, 40 percent of voters said they approve of the job Schwarzenegger is doing, with 51 percent saying they disapprove. That's slightly better than the 36 percent approval rating he received in the university's September poll.

It found that Schwarzenegger's standing has improved most among Democrats and independent voters. The survey found that Schwarzenegger's approval rating grew from 17 percent in September to 23 percent this month. Among independents -- that number grew from 26 percent to 39 percent.

Support from Republicans actually fell since the last poll, and if it drops much further one has to wonder whether another Republican will challenge him in the primary election.

Also note this poll took place before Arnold's new budget was unveiled.

Budget problems

The non partisan reviews are in on Arnold's budget:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's annual budget proposal spends too much of a one-time windfall on new or expanded programs, leading to higher deficits in future years, the state's nonpartisan legislative analyst said Thursday.

The review urges lawmakers to consider putting more of an estimated $4 billion in unanticipated income into reserve accounts or use it to pay off existing debts.

"Our concern is that the plan really puts the state on the wrong path in terms of its long-term goal of achieving fiscal balance," Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill told reporters. "We are concerned that the unexpected revenue increases, as noted in the governor's plan, are not being used to reduce our past borrowing debt but instead are ratcheting up ongoing spending by $2 billion."

I would suggest that Democrats would be right to criticize the budget precisely on these grounds. While infrastructure is important to the state, so is improving the state's financial future, and with billions of dollars of bonds proposed, it would seem that this budget fails to do that.

It's the new Republican budget plan. Spend 'til everyone's happy. Everyone except the children and grandchildren that inherit the debt.

And it does not look like this budget will sail through the state's legislature, even the Republican side of the aisle:
In their meeting with the governor, the Republican Assembly members said they wanted to ease some aspects of the state's signature environmental protection law, which requires environmental reviews before the state issues building permits. That law, called the California Environmental Quality Control Act, was enacted more than 35 years ago.

But destroying the environment isn't all the Republicans want to do. They also feared that Democrats would insist that rebuilding be done by - get this - union laborers. You know, laborers that would get a fair wage and good benefits to do the work.

Oh, and Democrats are not entirely on board, either. Part of last years budget froze Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cost of living increases to help balance the state's budget. And while Democrats went along with this gimmick last year, this year's proposal has not gone over so well:
"In a year when increased revenues are $3.7 billion, it seems particularly punitive to not give SSI/SSP recipients a federal increase when their cost of food and rent is going up," says Senate leader Don Perata (D-Oakland). "Is it responsible to hijack money from little old ladies? No."

In fact, Perata says he wants to "revisit" all the SSI/SSP decisions from last year.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) says that "Democrats, this time around, are not going to stand idly by while the poor take it in the shorts. It's totally unacceptable. It'll happen over my dead body."

Without help from both sides, Arnold's budget won't survive, and Democrats will no doubt make serious demands from Schwarzenegger if he wants his budget passed. It is, after all, what he's banking on for re-election this fall.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Yes Virginia, they do seem drunk with power

Seems House Republicans in Virginia have learned from their Washington D.C. counterparts that power is more important than integrity.

Throw 'em all out

Two House Republicans said Wednesday they will circulate a petition calling for elections to replace nearly all the top GOP leaders of the House, instead of just former Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Such a move would put Northern California Republican Rep. John Doolittle's leadership post in jeopardy.

Reps. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., and John Sweeney, R-N.Y., said wholesale changes were needed in the wake of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal that helped force DeLay to permanently relinquish his leadership post.

Their petition would not seek to replace House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., but would subject all seven leadership positions beneath him to a vote after House members return from their winter recess at the end of this month.

Whatever he says

Self identified Republican support for the government tapping personal phone calls has risen a whopping 15 percent since the Bush/NSA scandal broke.

That means that 15% of Republicans who once thought the government shouldn't illegally wiretap your phones without a warrant now believe it's okay, and all because their great protector says it should be.

Because when the President says march, the party is more than willing to fall in line.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

And it won't get better, either

The proportion of consumers behind on their credit card bills remained near record-high levels in the July-September period as high gasoline prices and rising interest rates continued to put stress on personal budgets.

The American Bankers Associated reported Tuesday that the percentage of credit card accounts 30 or more days past due dipped slightly to 4.74 percent in the July-September quarter after having hit an all-time high of 4.81 percent in the spring.

Even with the slight decline, consumer card delinquencies in the late summer and early fall were at the third-highest level on record, prompting concerns about more problems to come.

With rising interest rates and most credit card companies intending to increase minimum payments due, Americans already hip deep in debt are about to go in up to their eyeballs. Personal savings has hit negative levels, meaning that these folks aren't going to be able to help themselves anytime soon, either. And with it a whole lot harder to file for bankruptcy nowadays, a lot of these folks won't come up for air for a long time to come.

History repeats

So Governor Schwarzenegger's huge spending plan relies on continued better than expected tax windfalls and neverending economic expansion. That sounds somewhat familiar...

I guess it's only a matter of time now before Arnold gets his guest spot on CBS'sYes Dear.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The problem with polls

Another poll with a problem:
As hearings begin today in the Senate on his nomination, the survey found that 53 percent of the public says Alito should be confirmed to serve on the court--virtually identical to the proportion that supported John Roberts' confirmation as chief justice four months ago. One in four--27 percent--say Alito should be rejected by the Senate.

Republican bloggers will note that part of the poll and move on. However:
The survey also found that most Americans expect Alito, if confirmed, would not vote to strike down Roe v. Wade.

That, many liberals would suggest, is a false view of Alito's beliefs, and that belief, in turn, props up his support numbers. That idea is supported in this poll, which shows that close to 70% of Americans would oppose Alito if he would vote to make abortion illegal, a position he will no doubt be unwilling to put on the record.

The stock market and 9/11

News is everywhere that the Dow has passed the 11,000, and most news organizations note it's the first time since 9/11 that this has occurred. Essentially, that's true. But the market actually fell under 11,000 on June 8th, 2001, a full three months before the terror attacks occurred. The Dow was at 9,605.85 on September 10th, 2001, which suggests that there was much weakness already inherent in the market before the attacks, and that the market stagnated around 10,000 in the months that followed (numbers found here).

Why do I bring this up? Well, that so-called liberal media seems to think that the only thing that served as a drag on the market was 9/11:
The Dow last closed above 11,000 on June 7, 2001. Later that year, stocks were battered by the Sept. 11 terror attacks and lost ground for months, with the Dow falling to 7,286.27 on Oct. 9, 2002.

But the market actually crested after the 9/11 attacks at 10353.08 on May 23, 2002, a full eight months later. It was then the market began it's plunge into the 7000's that the Times notes.

As to the causes of the stock market fall, I'd guess it was the lack of job creation combined with massive deficit spending. But that's just me. Here's more from the BLS on the weakness in 2002.

Left a few behind, did ya?

The President was in Maryland today promoting his No Child Left Behind initiative at a school that, CNN notes, has actually seen a drop in some test scores:
...[T]he president did not mention some of the test's less flattering results. The fourth-grade reading performance was essentially flat, and in eighth grade, reading scores dropped.


With the President expected to push this year to expand the NCLB to high schools as well, it will be interesting to see both where he comes up with the extra funding that would be needed and if educators who feel slighted by the existing program will unite against it.

The fall of Tom DeLay

Tom DeLay whines to anyone who'll listen (FOX News) about the destruction of his political future:
DELAY: And because of that rule, the Democrats used this runaway District Attorney here in Austin, Texas to abuse that rule. Eight grand juries indicted me, and the only reason to indict me is to get me to step aside.


ANCHOR: You said just a moment ago you suspect that this was the real reason you were indicted because the Democrats wanted you out of the role of Majority Leader.

DELAY: It's the only reason, Brian.

I realize this may appease those on the right who feel that everyone is out to get everyone who supports Emperor President Bush and all, but does Tom DeLay really think that a majority of Americans are going to believe that the reason he was indicted was not because of evidence, but of an apparently wide reaching Democratic campaign, one that includes eight different grand juries? I mean, what are the odds that Democrats could stack those juries exactly like they wanted to? And what was DeLay's lawyer doing that whole time? Is he in on the conspiracy, too?

Tom, face it, you got caught. If you were really all that innocent, you wouldn't have stepped down from your leadership role, because standing up to witch hunting Democrats would do more for you than merely stepping aside. Even the White House wants to distance themselves from you.

So all those friends you thought you bought? Well, I guess now that the money's run out, you'll find out how close they actually were.

*UPDATE* Texas courts apparently don't watch FOX News:
The state's highest criminal court on Monday denied Rep. Tom DeLay's request that the money laundering charges against him be dismissed or sent back to a lower court for an immediate trial.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the requests with no written order two days after he announced he was stepping down as House majority leader. DeLay had been forced to temporarily relinquish the Republican leadership post after he was indicted on money laundering and conspiracy charges in September.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Arnold's new clothes

I was thinking it quite odd that a guy who campaigned so hard on strict budget limits and no deficit spending now thinks it's okay to propose tens of millions in bonds for the state to sell. The L.A. Daily News notes some other flip-flops inconsistencies as well.

By the way, I've heard that the state will have to pay out 78 cents in interest for every dollar spent. I'd have to think there is a better way to fund this sort of thing rather than paying almost twice the cost. Maybe not do it all in one chunk, for one thing.

But hey, Arnold's up for re-election. He's got to do something to appease the people his alienated up until now. I'm not sure complete reversals on policy are the way to accomplish that, though. Because, of course, there's no reason to think he won't flip his flop again.

Scandal, scandal everywhere

Abramhoff, DeLay, word of this gets out...

Not a good time to be a Republican in Congress, though if you ask me, there's never a good time to be a Republican in Congress.

Friday, January 06, 2006

While I was out...

It seems a lot has happened while I was away, most of which signals deep trouble for Washington fat cats. And by that I mean Republicans. I'm sure you've read it all by now.

I had all but decided to end the blogging experiment that has unfolded. It was a lot of fun, and I learned alot, too. We laughed a little, cried a little, and learned a lot about ourselves and each other. But I thought that I'd had enough.

Talks with my wife have concvinced me otherwise, who suggested the latest inbound link that drove traffic high the last few days was a sign that I was doing something right. And of course it would happen when I'm not actually here. It was a nice surprise.

Full scale blogging should return at least by Tuesday, if not sooner. It's a big weekend, what with the Bengals first playoff game since I was a kid and Aron's going out of business sale in L.A.

But I'll be around for you, my faithful, soon.

Take care.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Polling down Congress

Congress' image could emerge as an election topic, with 55 percent of respondents saying corruption will be "the most important" or a "very important" issue to consider when voting in November, when all 435 House seats, and 33 Senate seats, will be decided.

Thirty-two percent of people surveyed said corruption was moderately important, and 12 percent called it not important.

More than half the country thinks that corruption will be the number one issue come November? With all that faces the country - terrorism, health care, the war in Iraq - corruption is going to be the thing that helps people decide who to vote for?

Democrats must be pleased to hear that, in light of the Abramhoff flip yesterday. Of course, they need to make sure they have a message for the direction of this country, too. But their prospects for control of the House or Senate just got a whole lot brighter

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

This was going to pay for everything

Iraq's exports of oil hit their lowest level in December since the war, as the country's oil minister resigned Monday in the wake of protests and riots over soaring gas prices and lengthening lines at the pump.

Only 34.4 million barrels were exported last month, or about 1.1 million barrels per day -— the lowest average since Iraq resumed exports after the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, according to figures released Monday.

I'm not sure our forces, or even Iraqi led ones for that matter, will ever be able to protect miles and miles of pipeline from attacks. Anyone who thought we could probably expected chocolates and flowers from the populace as well.


If this report is true, then any credibility the President may have had on this issue is gone.

I guess that's the danger of claiming 9/11 as the reason to everything. When new evidence comes out that you wanted to spy on Americans before the thing actually happened, it paints you more as a ruthless dictator type than a guy looking to protect the freedoms of the country.

But some of us have felt that way for a while, now.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Lawful wiretapping

The President tries to whip up hysteria:
"If somebody from Al Qaeda is calling you, we'd like to know why," he said. "We're at war with a bunch of coldblooded killers."

And that makes perfect sense to most Americans. It is the same basis that this question from Rasmussen rests on, and 64% of Americans think it makes logical sense.

The problem arises here between what's justified and what's illegal.
And as more stories and information come forward, it becomes clearer and clearer that what the President has done, despite whether it protects America or not, is more than likely illegal. Despite the intentions of anyone involved, breaking the law is breaking the law - even Bush's own Justice Department knew it and it appears the courts knew it as well, forcing Bush to go around them.

I support keeping this country as safe as possible from terrorists attacks, but it has to be done within the parameters of American law. Whatever the intent, if the President violated the law, he should be punished. It's the way things should work in this country. But with the Presidents friends in charge all over the federal government, from Congress to the courts, that seems highly unlikey. And it would seem to be, at this point, another blow to American democracy.