Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Bush Deception Continues

In his address to the nation last evenining it only took President Bush about 30 seconds before he invoked the tragedy of 911. And there you essentially have the entire speech, including its emotional, tearful end. Once again, the president shamefully exploited this horrific event for political purposes and to justify and maintain support for his quagmire in Iraq. Once again he drew a direct link from Iraq and Sadaam to Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists who attacked us on that fateful day in 2001. Once again he very blatantly implied that the war we're fighting in Iraq is against those who attacked us. The Bushies sold us that balony 2 years ago, and as evidenced last night, they're hell-bent on peddling the same lies and deception for as long as anyone will listen. It is morally reprehensible and irresponsible to keep telling us Iraq is payback for 911. It is also political suicide, as indicated by both Bush's and Congress's recent poll numbers. Americans will have their say next November. But moreso, the lies and deception this war was founded on, and are still being perpetuated, should be an impeachable act by Bush. As the recent flurry of "Downing Street" memos clearly establish, Bush, Rummy, Cheney, Condi, Wolfowitz, etc intentionally exaggerated, misused and perhaps even lied about intelligence in order to carry out its neo-con fantasy of invading Iraq. And then they went before the UN, Congress and the American people and lied to us. My God, Bill Clinton was impeached for having extra-marital sex. Surely Bush should face a similar fate for doctoring evidence and intelligence to justify a war that's so far cost 1700 US soldiers' lives; seen 20,000 injured/maimed; 100,000 Iraqis killed; $200 Billion spent; and immeasurable worldwide goodwill lost. Please George, spare us the tears. There's over 100,000 families out there who've been crying a helluva lot more than you. Andy

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tune in to Tonight's "Bush Comedy/Magic Hour!"

Quick...get the kids! Go get grandma! Start poppin' the popcorn! My favorite comedy/magic show's on tonight! At 8PM EST President Bush will go before the cameras presumably to tell Americans how wonderful everything is in Iraq. How Democracy is taking shape, and how the insurgency--to quote the indisputable king of BS Dick Cheney--is in its "last throes" despite looking like a colossal military fiasco to anyone else with an ounce of intelligence. Oh yeah, tonight's speech promises to be a real doozy! There'll be more smoke and mirrors than at a David Copperfield show. And like Copperfield, Bush will magically make the truth disappear. Yup, this promises to be quite a show! "It's all good," Bush'll report, beaming like the little kid still searching for mommy and daddy's approval. He'll talk about all the wonderful progress that no one but he and his posse seem to see. Little will be said, I'm sure, of the dead bodies flying through the Iraqi air every day from the ever-increasing insurgents' bombs. No mention will be made of the 1700 dead US soldiers, or the 20,000 injured and maimed. Or the 100,000 Iraqis killed. Nor will he admit to finding no WMD, therefore shattering the entire justification for war. No siree. All these meaningless "facts" would only spoil the fun. What we'll get tonight instead is pure theatre. A staged production that would make Harry Houdini proud. Andy

Monday, June 27, 2005

Iraq: Heavy Price for the Bush Family Dysfunction

The quagmire in Iraq is the result of one of the biggest father/son emotional crises known to man. Sadly, we are all paying for it. George W. Bush, the prodigal son who's coasted through life despite academic and business failure at almost every turn--the quintessential underachiever whose saving grace was unprecedented political nepotism--was obsessed with upstaging his father and proving that it is he, the son, who will ultimately be viewed by history as the more virile, successful president. In what is sure to become one of the biggest political and military miscalculations in American history, and in one of the most egregious displays of offspring independence and rebellion seen on the public stage, Bush 43 gambled his reputation on overthrowing Saddam and creating a quick, painless Democracy in Iraq--something the 43 posse accuses 41 of failing to do 14 years ago during Operation Desert Storm. In short, the heretofore black sheep of the family--the perennial frat boy--needed to flex his mojo and show pops who the better man is. Problem is, the Bush administration's "shock and awe" campaign backfired big time. The only ones shocked and awed were, and still are, us. Shocked by the strength, resilience and sheer determination of the insurgency, and awed by how clueless the Bushies were in post-war planning. Contrary to what the 43 posse believed, we were not greeted as liberators. The "mission" was not "accomplished" in just 3 weeks. Things did not get better after Saddam's fall; after Uday and Qusay's death; after Fallujah was taken; after Iraq declared sovereignty; after the January election. In fact, things got appreciably worse. We now have spent over $200 billion, and over 1700 US soldiers have been killed. Tens of thousands more injured/maimed, and upwards of 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed. Incredulously, VP Dick Cheney recently declared that the insurgency was in its "last throes." What's more, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on NBC's Meet The Press yesterday, one-upped his boss in the ridiculous-statement department by saying he agrees with Cheney while also saying the insurgency will probably last another 12 years. Sound like conflicting statements to you? Wait, can it be true? Rummy's a flip-flopper? Or is he just plan mad? Personally, I think they're all mad. While this war spirals out of control, our leaders increasingly lie, deceive and misrepresent. They're delusional and dangerous. That Bush invaded Iraq to show up his dad is one thing we cannot change; that decision is yesterday's news. But the chief architects of this fiasco are still pulling the levers, and starting with Rumsfeld, they should be removed from office. Cheney, the biggest liar of them all, should be next. Sadly, we're stuck with Dubya for another 3 years. Andy

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Swift Boats Gassed and Ready to Go

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (what an oxymoron, huh?) have gassed up the boats and set sail once again. The target this time is not John Kerry, but 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY). The behind-the-scenes mastermind and bankroller of the literary (stretch) attacks on Kerry last Summer and Fall, Richard Mellon Scaife, the right-wing Pittsburgh billionaire who's been gunning for the Clinton's for years, is also providing the much-needed financial and media support for the controversial new Ed Klein book, "The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President." Klein the author attempts to portray Sen. Clinton as ruthless, cunning, manipulative and ambitous, with an insatiable political appetite. Klein the smut peddler makes outlandish, reprehensible accusations about the Clintons' sex lives, going so far as to claim that daughter Chelsea was conceived after Bill admittedly raped his wife. This book lowers the bar on decency, and it is an insult to every American who cherishes their loved ones and values their privacy. Voters are already fed up with this kind of distraction from the real issues of the day. They're concerned about the war, the economy, their jobs, their home heating bills, their gas tanks, their health care and their kids' education. The stakes have changed, as have the times, since the Swifties first put pen to paper last year with their "Unfit for Command" trash novel. Have you seen the latest Bush approval ratings (42%)? Americans' satisfaction with Congress (just 40%)?. I suspect that this new companion piece to last year's attack on Kerry will backfire on its conspirators and add another layer to Americans' growing disatisfaction with the direction in which the country is heading, and its distaste for those putting us there. Andy

Bolton: Off to Recess?

Civil rights. Women's rights. Gay rights. What they have in common is that at one point or another in our great country's history the "majority" fought hard, often violently, against them becoming a part of society's fabric. As proven many times, the majority is often quite misguided and just plain wrong. So it is with little attention I pay to the Republicans' claim that a majority of Senators wants John Bolton approved for the UN Ambassador job. Who cares what the majority wants? Right now, the majority is comprised of power-hungry peddlers of political and religious dogma. We have a process here in the US that allows the minority, the little guy, to stall the nomination of an undesirable candidate until those in the majority submit another name that can pass the compromise test. And so once again yesterday the Democrats defeated the cloture vote, shoving John Bolton back into the arms of his chief benefactor, President Bush. And once again Bush has a decision to make: stand firm and send him back again and face almost certain defeat unless he hands over the Bolton documents requested by Sen's Joe Biden (D-DE), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and the Foreign Relations Commitee, or pull the ultimate power play and appoint Bolton during either the Fourth of July recess or sometime in August when the Senate shuts down. A recess appointment would allow Bolton to hang onto the job until August '06 when the 109th Congress adjourns. If history is any relevant indicator, Bush will not back down. His stubbornness and arrogance won't let him. In fact, my money's on him bristling with even greater anger and frustration that the Democrats just simply aren't lying down and letting Bush, Frist & Co. do whatever the heck they want with this country. Bush most likely will sneak Bolton through as an attempt to save face and that of his hand-picked successor, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). As if Bush's approval and performance ratings weren't low enough, a recess appointment of Bolton would be yet another sign of his second-term failure and careen him further into lame-duckville. Andy

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Bush, Bolton, Delay and Phillip Cooney

There are a few subjects I'd like to address today. Taking yet another First Prize For Arrogance, President Bush, in PA this week to raise campaign funds for Sen. Rick Santorum, blamed Democrats, not himself, for his failed policies like Social Security privatization. If Bush paid more attention to those public opinion polls he so disdains, and to most key lawmakers in his own party, perhaps he'd realize how "out of touch with mainstream America" he is. The blame rests squarely on his shoulders.

Next for the displaced blame and arrogance department is the Bush administration's continued refusal to provide the Senate with the documents it's requested about UN Ambassador nominee John Bolton's controversial work activities. In question are his verbal attacks on the UN; his harsh treatment of State Department subordinates (that is, of course, if you believe chasing a woman around a Russian hotel screaming and throwing things at her "harsh"); and his requests for the names of U.S. officials whose communications were picked up by the secret National Security Agency. The stalemate has all but doomed Bolton's nomination, according to several key Democrats. One major problem for Bush is Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), who's previously supported the cloture vote on Bolton. Pryor now says he may abandon the Republicans, which would dig an even deeper hole for them. So, instead of providing the Senate with the info, after which the Dem's said Bolton could be quickly confirmed, the Bushies are standing firm like a bunch of spoiled five-year-olds. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), a leading opponent of Bolton, said the info in question has been viewed by many in the executive branch, and that the administration is disrespecting the Senate by not providing it to them as well. "They're filibustering their own nominee," Dodd said. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the chamber's second-ranking Democrat, added: "Clearly, there is something in those documents which is so damaging to Bolton, they don't want to release it."

Now, if the above wasn't enough arrogance and displaced blame for ya, how about our favorite poster-child for unethical behavior, embattled House leader Tom Delay (R-TX)? Delay now claims the current Ethics Committee stalemate is caused not by chairman Doc Hastings' (R-WA) insistence on breaking house rules by appointing his personal (and therefore highly partisan) assistant to Staff Director of the committee (a position that would ultimately oversee the impending investigation of Delay's alleged ethics transgressions). To the contrary, says Delay, it's the Democrats' calculated strategy to stall the investigation to coincide with the mid-term elections next year. Yawn.

Lastly, good things come to those who wait, I guess. Philip A. Cooney, Bush's former Chief of Staff of the White House Council of Environmental Quality, who repeatedly altered government reports linking greenhouse gases and global warming, quietly "resigned" late last Friday night when the news media is practically asleep and gone for the weekend...saving the administration further embarrassment over the growing fallout from this controversy. Cooney, a former lawyer and lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, the main lobbying group of the oil industry, was immediately rewarded with a cushy new job by Exxon Mobil, the company that fought long and hard against legislation to protect the environment. What a surprise. Andy

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lay Off Howard Dean!

What do you get when you cross a firey, outspoken DNC chair with a bunch of arrogant, angry, hypocritical Republicans? A lot of Howard Dean bashing, that's what. The GOP can dish, but it surely cannot take it in return. They've come to expect us on the Left to be like frightened sheep. A bunch of wimps who'd rather make nice-nice with the Right than stand up and fight the good fight. So it comes as no surprise that Republicans--those in politics, the media, academia--are "shocked" and "outraged" by Dean and his rhetoric. He's an "extremist" they say; someone who's "out of touch with mainstream America." Well, if these are the standards for which we judge our politicians, then that disqualifies about 90% of the Republican leadership today. Bush, Cheney, Delay, Frist, Santorum, Coburn, Lott, Rove...these guys wrote the book on extremism. Howard Dean pales in comparison. But they don't like it one bit when someone like Dean takes aim squarely at the GOP's faults, lies, deception, manipulation, screw-ups and cover-ups. No siree. The Right thinks it has a lock on all that. But are they really trying to convince us that former national and local party leaders such as Lee Atwater, Ralph Reed and Ed Gillespie never ratcheted up the partisan rhetoric and tossed the occasional inflammatory comment? Never sucker-punched the Left? And what about current RNC chair Ken Mehlman? He's surely not in the midst of a lovefest with the Left either. I guess there really is no end to the Republicans' hypocrisy. True, Howard Dean plays rough. And that's exactly what this party needs right now. He stands for something, and he's not spineless like so many in our party. Let the Republicans bash him. It only shows that they're afraid of him. Afraid of his ability to fire up voters and raise funds. Maybe if there were a few dozen more like him in Washington we'd win more elections. Andy

Monday, June 13, 2005

Jackson Not Guilty!

What does a celebrity have to do in Southern California to get convicted!? First OJ, then Robert Blake and now Michael Jackson all walked free after seeming as guilty as sin. I don't know who's more inept, the various District Attorney's offices or the feeble, star-struck juries they keep coming up with. SoCal desperately needs to overhaul is criminal justice system. Andy

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Is Iraq Out of Control: Key Republicans Think So

If you listen to President Bush and VP Dick Cheney, it's all good in Iraq. They'll tell you the insurgents are being defeated, albeit slowly, and the country is on its way to being a healthy, safe Democracy. Listen to key Democrats, such as Sen. Joe Biden (DE), and they'll tell you a very different story. But, now we're starting to see influential Republican lawmakers grow increasingly frustrated with this war ( careful not use that word too much because, as Bush says, "it's not really a war." It just looks that way, with all the dead soldiers and all) and with the Bush administration. One such GOP'er, Rep. Walter Jones, (R-NC), who was so pro-war two years ago that he insisted that French fries sold in the Capitol be renamed "freedom fries" after the French government failed to support our invasion of Iraq, has come out against the war, demanding that Congress create an exit strategy for getting our troops home. The House did vote May 25 on such a measure, but the amendment failed by a 300-128 vote, with Jones being one of only five Republican's who voted for it. Either Jones has his eye on the re-election clock or his conscience has caught up with him, but he has become seriously anti-war. In his stirring speech May 25 at the House session, Jones explained "This is about a policy, that I believed when I voted 2 years ago to commit the troops that I was making my decision on facts. Since that time I have been very disappointed in what I have learned about the justification for going into Iraq." He continued with ". .. all this amendment does is just say that it is time for the Congress to meet its responsibility. The responsibility of Congress is to make decisions whether we should send our men and women to war or not send them to war. What we are saying here tonight is we think it is time for the Congress to begin, to start the debate and discussion of what the exit strategy is of this government . . ." Pretty amazing words coming from the head chef at the I Hate France Cafe. And then there's Rep. Curt Weldon
(R-PA), the highest ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, who said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others are misleading Americans about the number of functional Iraqi troops and said Bush should cut the Syrian and Iranian umbilical cords feeding the insurgency. "We don't want to raise the expectations of the American people prematurely," he said. Now, if only we could get our president and vice-president to be so logical and realistic. Andy

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Separation of Church and State: R.I.P

Earlier in the week Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed a bill requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions, and another bill supporting the move to put a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the state's Nov.8 ballot. Surprising? Not really. Republicans just love to stomp on abortion and gay rights. But what does make these bills so noteworthy is that they were signed by Perry before 1000 gleeful, church-going evangelicals at the Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Worth. That he chose to sign them in church symbolizes where the party as a whole stands today, and the narrow constituency it's pandering to. Perry had promised to sign these bills in a "Christian celebration." So much for the separation of church and state. It is both irresponsible and reprehensible for Perry to use a house of worship to showcase his hate bills. The politicization of religion in this country today is shameful. The Republican party has hijacked God and faith, and it's getting worse. Today in Washington, you're devotion to God is measured by your support for anti-abortion and anti-gay legislation; and support for the Iraq war, judicial extremism, and President Bush. Part of the opposition? Then you're sacrilegious, unpatriotic and un-American. Look how far we've come after 230 years. Our founding fathers are probably cringing in their graves. Andy

Friday, June 10, 2005

Hastings Rescues Delay

Our favorite poster-child for unethical behavior, House Majority Leader Tom Delay, has dodged a bullet once again, narrowly escaping the gavel of justice. This time, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-VA), chairman of the House Ethics Committee, has thrown the panel back into stalemate, thus making sure it'll be a good long while before Delay gets that independent/non-partisan investigation he so publicly craves. The trouble is that Hastings, thumbing his nose at the House rules book which requires the committee to hire "professional, non-partisan staff," insists that his personal chief of staff, Ed Cassidy, be appointed to oversee committee operations. But, like many other influential Republicans in Washington these days, Hastings doesn't like being told to follow rules (they much prefer telling us to follow them instead...and then bash the hell out of us when we don't) and has shut down the committee in retaliation, the second time this year that the panel's been brought to a standstill over contentious partisan politics. What's even more troubling is the fact that Hastings has been in bed with the lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis, that's been the focus of Delay's ethics scandal, according to a report published this week in the NY Times. PG&E was also home to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, accused along with Delay back in the 90's of showing the Marianas Islands how to avoid U.S. labor laws. Workers there are in low-paying sweatshop jobs and are subject to often brutal working conditions including alleged forced prostitution. Of note is that Hastings has received $14,000 from PG&E since 1996. Can you say conflict of interest? No wonder Delay so earnestly seeks the investigation into his own behavior. With friends and cohorts like Hastings running the show, why worry? Perhaps Delay should not be the only one in this scandal to step down. Andy

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Ken Mehlman on Meet The Press

Watching Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman on Meet The Press this morning was akin to watching a 6-year-old deny playing ball in the house and breaking the lamp. Wide-eyed, repetitive and evasive, Mehlman has become quite masterful at talking a whole lot and saying nothing. And, host Tim Russert has become quite good at letting these partisan hacks waste our time and insult our intelligence. According to Mr. Chairman, everything is just honky-dory. The economy, the war in Iraq, the Bush's all terrific. Everything is wonderful in MehlmanWorld, where there is no bad news, no mistakes and no regrets. And apparently, no straight answers either. Ask him to comment on the the president's 45% approval rating and he'll boast what a great job Bush is doing and that most Americans are firmly behind him. Ask him about Bush's stalled Central America Trade Pact, Energy bill, Bolton nomination, Social Security privatization plan and Stem-cell and judicial nominee losses and he'll spiritedly declare that the president is getting done everything he wants. And what does Russert do during this charade? Simply asks the next question. No follow-up, no challenges, no..."hey Mehlman, what are you smokin?" (which is what we'd all like to ask). What is the point of Meet The Press, to merely give a soapbox to every shameless promoter and partisan quack? Russert 's a very bright guy and an excellent student of politics. But he desperately needs to brush up on his interviewing skills. Perhaps take a page out of the Chris Matthews book and start playing hardball. Matthews has no problem interrupting these spin monkeys mid-sentence, taking back the mike if all he gets is talking points. Russert, however, was utterly useless today. It was painful to watch. Andy

Thursday, June 02, 2005

"I'm the guy they used to call Deep Throat"

Thirty-one years after the historic resignation of President Richard Nixon, the identity of "Deep Throat," the legendary informer to then-Washington Post baby-faced reporters Bob Wodward and Carl Bernstein, has finally been confirmed, closing the books on the infamous Watergate scandal, and one of the great political mysteries of all time. At 91 and suffering from a debilitating stroke and memory loss, Mark Felt, the #2 man at the FBI under L. Patrick Gray during the early 70's, (the former assistant attorney general appointed by Nixon to replace the deceased J. Edgar Hoover), confirmed in an exclusive story in the July issue of Vanity Fair magazine, the news of which broke this week, that he was indeed the one who held 2 am clandestine meetings with Woodward to leak critical information that ultimately brought down an entire administration and sent many in it to Federal prison. Not surprisingly, he's been villified by the Right, accused of being a financial opportunist; an angry sore-loser; a law-breaking criminal; and a traitor. Sure, why cash out in '75 to buy a fancy car, beachfront house, flashy suits and live comfortably for the next 30 years when you can do it in 2005 and be big pimpin' on wheelchairs and Depends? Its reprehensible and utterly absurd to claim he's motivated by money. Next, Felt was supposedly miffed at being passed up for the #1 FBI spot. Rather, this career lawman was outraged at the supreme arrogance with which the Nixon gang defiled the Constitution and committed outrageous, unprecedented abuses of power. Lastly, Felt was a Hooverite; a hard line, old-school G-man who viewed the actions of these political thugs as an affront to all Americans and a threat to our Democracy. A traitor? Hardly. To the contrary, Felt was and is a true American hero. He served his country well, put his life and career on the line to defend the Constitution and history will judge him accordingly. Andy