Monday, October 31, 2005

U.S Agents Could Be in Jail or Dead Thanks to Libby, Rove & Cheney

The idea that the Bush administration, led by Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, plotted its revenge of a critic by endangering the life of his covert CIA agent wife is irresponsible and reprehensible enough. But this despicable, treasonous act also put at grave risk and danger the lives of countless other agents, presently stationed overseas on highly sensitive missions. And for this crime someone needs to go to jail. Let's hope that's what special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald meant after announcing the Libby indictment when he said the investigation "is not over."

Valerie Plame, wife of former Ambassador Joe Wilson, was outed in a July 14, 2003 column by conservative pundit Robert Novak. The outing was an act of revenge by Libby, Rove and Cheney in retaliation for Wilson's July 6, 2003 NY Times Op-Ed in which he refuted the Bushies' claim of an Iraq-Africa Uranium connection after his CIA-sponsored fact-finding mission to Niger proved nothing. Subsequently, it was inadvertently disclosed that Plame "worked" at Brewster Jennings & Associates, a front company set up in Boston for covert agents. Plame was surely not the only agent to have used Brewster as a cover, and its disclosure has likely put many in serious jeopardy. The company's identity became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records filled out in 1999 by Plame after contributing to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.

Plame, a specialist in WMD, and like many agents, was a "non-official cover" operative, or NOC. As one former CIA official, Larry C. Johnson, explained, "that meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. If caught in that status she would have been executed." NOCs are not attached to a U.S. embassy or the State Department. Therefore they have no diplomatic immunity if caught spying.

On CBS's 60 Minutes Sunday, correspondent Ed Bradley interviewed Jim Marcinkowski, a deputy city attorney in Michigan and former CIA agent who trained with Plame in the late 80's. According to Marcinkowski, NOCs "are out there, what they would call "naked." With diplomatic immunity, the worst that can happen to you is that you get kicked out of the country. You don't have that kind of protection when you're a NOC."

Bradley cited the case of Hugh Redmond, "a NOC who was caught spying in Shanghai in 1951 and died after 19 years in a Chinese prison. To this day, the CIA denies he was an agent."

Bradley also spoke with Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) about the potential harm that CIA agents worldwide now face resulting from the exposure of Plame's identity.

Bradley: "Have you had assurances that the agency is handling the fallout from this leak?"
Holt: "They have taken the usual procedures to protect the damage from spreading."
Bradley: "Is it possible that someone overseas, someone is going to jail because of this?"
Holt: "Sure, it's possible."
Bradley: "Is it possible that somebody lost their life?"
Holt: "It's possible. I don't know. There hasn't been a formal assessment. If there were, and I had been briefed on it, I couldn't talk about it."

The Plame outing could have serious lasting effects on the ability of agents to remain undercover. As Marcinkowski pointed out, Plame is the wife of a former ambassador, and that foreign intelligence agencies will be making the assumption that wives of other ambassadors could be CIA agents as well, exposing a large number of individuals to risk.

As for Plame's safety since she's been exposed, "There have been specific threats, beyond that I just can't go," said Wilson.

That these faithful, loyal U.S. servants, who put their lives at risk for the nation's security, have been undermined by the highest officials in their own country is a damn shame and one of the worst acts of treason imaginable.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Court Pick: Will Bush Pander to Right or Go Centrist?

It's expected that President Bush will announce early this week his next Supreme Court pick following the embarrassing defeat of his Harriet Miers nomination. But just what Bush's next move is is anyone's guess. Will he attempt to mend fences with his hardcore conservative base and name an experienced judge in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, as he promised during his 2000 campaign? Or will he make a bee-line for the center and attempt to unite the parties? Conventional wisdom says the latter, given the political hailstorm the White House is facing right now with scandal, policy failure, an unpopular war and precipitously declining poll numbers. But this is Bush we're talking about. His arrogance, stubbornness and intense loyalty to the base will likely result in a radical right-winger being nominated. Much speculation is on either Michael Luttig or Samuel Alito as the president's top two choices.

Alito, 55, is so close in ideology to Scalia that he's often referred to as "Scalito." He currently sits on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Luttig, 51, is also firmly in the mold of Scalia--whom he clerked for when Scalia was an appeals court judge--and serves the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. Both judges would surely satisfy the far right-wing of the party; those who wish to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

If Bush goes in this direction, the Democrats are sure to wage a holy war and filibuster the nominee, which could set off a bloody showdown in which the Republicans, led by Majority Leader Bill Frist, could drop the "nuclear bomb" and change the rules so that only a simple 51 vote majority would be needed to end the filibuster and bring a cloture vote. But the Republicans, who've just savagely opposed Miers and forced her to withdraw, would have a hard time using the advice and consent/"up or down vote" defense. The GOP never allowed Miers that same opportunity.

Also, with Bush using Miers' religion as the cornerstone of her "qualifications," the Repub's will also have a hard time preventing Dem's this time around from engaging in their own own religious tests.

To be sure, Bush cannot afford another battle and additional political fallout. But that's never stopped him before from making some really bad choices. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sean Hannity Blasts GOP as Pathetic & Weak

Pinch me. I never thought I'd live to see the day where irrepressible right wing radio and TV spinmeister Sean Hannity would criticize and condemn the Republican Party in much harsher tones than his Democratic counterparts. But that day has finally come, and its more than symbolic. Clearly the GOP is in serious trouble, especially when it's abandoned by normally loyal soldiers like Hannity.

On his radio program this week, Hannity went on the warpath over the GOP's failure to live up to its campaign promises. His mounting criticisms have aroused the ire and scorn of party officials, whom he lambasted for attacking him. He cited a recent Gallup poll showing voters' extreme dissatisfaction with the Republican-controlled Congress.

"My allegiance is not to you power-hungry, power-grabbing politicians in Washington," Hannity said. "My allegiance is to my audience, not you. It's frankly disgusting what you Republicans in Congress have done. You deserve these numbers." He urged them to stop calling with complaints, saying "you guys are pathetic."

His diatribe continued: "How can anybody turn around and turn on people like me who supported you and helped put you in power. I might as well support Ted Kennedy. You've been pathetically weak in your leadership. You stand for nothing."

He criticized Republicans' failure on the war on terror; border security and immigration policy; tax issues; growth of government and for "big-spending pork-barrel projects" recklessly pushed through Congress.

"You no longer stand for the principles you ran on, and it will ultimately be your downfall," he warned.

Week-Old Draft Gore Petition Nears 2000 Signatures we long for those days when these two ruled the land. The Draft Al Gore for President in 2008 petition which we started last weekend has roughly 1900 signatures. And we've received an outpouring of passion and excitement over a potential Gore candidacy. But there's been conflicting reports of what the former veep might do three years from now. "I have absolutely no plans and no expectations of ever being a candidate again," Gore told reporters recently at an economic summit in Stockholm, Sweden. But allies and backers later said he's just being coy, and is trying to avoid embarrassment. "He wants the whole thing set up for him," said an un-named source quoted by U.S. News & World Report. And since we believe Gore has the best shot at winning in '08, we're doing our best to send him a message.

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A White House Under Siege

For Democrats, this has been a week to remember. For President Bush, it's been a week he'd love to forget; probably one of the absolute worst in the history of the Oval Office. The Bush administration was dealt another huge political blow Friday with the indictment of VP Dick Cheney's chief I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. The White House is mired in embarrassment, distraction and scandal including the Harriet Miers retreat, the Tom DeLay and Bill Frist investigations, the Katrina/Rita/Wilma relief failures, the forged Niger/yellow cake documents, and the milestone reached with the 2000th U.S. soldier killed in the Iraq war. And Bush's poll numbers are sinking. It's hard to imagine it getting any worse.

The CIA Leak investigation, led by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, concluded its 22-month investigation Friday by handing down five indictments to Libby, charging him with two counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstructing justice. He faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines if convicted. Bush advisor Karl Rove was spared for now, with Fitzgerald saying the case was still under investigation. The question remains as to who was the original source of the leak--whom the indictments refer to as "Official A"--of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak in July of 2003. Much speculation is that Rove is Official A.

In his 2:15 PM press conference Friday a stoic Fitzgerald told reporters: "This is a very serious matter in compromising national security information....but the need to get to the bottom of what happened, and whether national security was compromised by inadvertence, recklessness, by maliciousness, is extremely important. We need to know the truth. And anyone that would go to a grand jury and lie, obstruct, impede the investigation, has committed a very serious crime." Many in Washington still cannot believe that someone as meticulous and obsessively detail-oriented as Libby could end up in this situation. As NBC's Tom Brokaw said, "This is the clumsiest case of lying I've ever witnessed."

But the Republican spin machine was quick to spring into action, criticizing the prosecutor for failing to indict on the underlying charge of outing Plame and instead focusing on the secondary charges. On MSNBC's Hardball, conservative pundit Patrick Buchanan said "It is not a bad thing that (the prosecutor) could not come up and prove the original charge that was made against the White House, against anyone. The underlying charge of deliberately outing Valerie Plame...the prosecutor has come in after 22 months and said, in effect, it didn't happen."

Sorry, Pat, that's not what Fitzgerald said. Buchanan's and the GOP spinners' talking points on this are ridiculous for several reasons. First, they ignore two very important facts: people don't lie, impede and obstruct unless they are guilty and have something to hide; next, what Fitzgerald did say is that he considered indictments on the underlying criminal charge, but that Libby's alleged lies made it difficult to prove intention in outing Plame. Exactly.

And let's not forget that the $60 million that special prosecutor Kenneth Starr spent in the 1990's to investigate the Clintons never ended with criminal charges, only the same perjury and obstruction charges Libby was hit with. But the CIA Leak case, unlike Clinton's ill-advised series of BJ's from an intern, ultimately involves White House falsification of documents and manipulation of intelligence to justify a war, and then lying to cover up the truth. And keep in mind Fitzgerald's investigation has cost U.S. taxpayers just $723,000, not $60 million. Can you say, cost-benefit analysis?

So now we're left with three key questions: where does Fitzgerald go from here, what happens to Rove, and will Cheney ultimately be implicated? If the case does go to trial as most expect, Fitzgerald will have carte blanch through discovery and depositions to dig deeply into the root crime. Many, including Rove and even Bush and Cheney, will likely testify for the prosecution. The trial could blow the doors off the White House.

Rove is by no means home free. U.S. News & World Reports' David Gergen, a former advisor to presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, said on Hardball "I thought earlier today, wow, Karl Rove dodged a bullet. But you know, the prosecutor is still firing at him...and Rove has been spared for now but I think it's too early to say he's in the clear. There is a shadow there and I'm sure he feels it."

That brings us to Cheney. It's hard to fathom Libby doing anything without it being directed by or known by the veep himself. The indictment says Libby learned about Plame's identity from Cheney. And we now know that Cheney is one half of the "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal" that highjacked U.S. foreign policy, according to statements last week by Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Colin Powell's chief of staff from 2001 to 2005. Cheney, the key mastermind behind the invasion of Iraq, certainly had a score to settle with former ambassador Joe Wilson over his July '03 NY Times Op-Ed which refuted the Bushies' claim that Saddam was seeking to buy uranium from Niger. Wilson was sent to Africa in February '02 by the CIA to investigate this claim.

Will Fitzgerald get Libby to "turn?" Facing 30 years in the slammer, will Libby find religion and open the floodgates about his boss, Rove and others? As Fitzgerald said, "This is not over."

Friday, October 28, 2005

DeLay's Poll Numbers Drop Again; Sends Desperate Letter to Constituents

It looks as though embattled Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) is getting more and more desperate each day. In the face of new poll numbers out this week, the former House Leader sent an email letter to conservative constituents in his home district #22 in a pathetic attempt to cry victim and absolve himself of any wrongdoing stemming from his recent indictment over his illegal fundraising schemes.

The email comes just two days after the latest SurveyUSA tracking poll which shows:

*51% Job Dis-Approval Rating, only the second time in 13 tracking polls conducted over the past 5 months that a majority of registered voters in DeLay's district has expressed disapproval.
*45% Job Approval Rating.
*42% of District 22 voters say DeLay should resign from Congress, the highest this number has been in 5 months of tracking.

In his letter, DeLay portrays his indictment as a result of a partisan witch-hunt: "It has been over a month since Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle acted out his political revenge and indicted me for crimes that don't exist. And over the last month, we have seen such a litany of prosecutorial misconduct that even the national media is questioning his motives. Look at who is studying this circus-like investigation and you'll see that journalists and legal experts are acknowledging these charges are baseless, partisan, and nothing more than revenge for my work to provide the people of Texas with a fair and constitutional congressional representation. I am being attacked not for doing anything wrong - I'm being attacked for being effective and standing up for what's right."

Not only is DeLay desperate, he's delusional. I believe most journalists and legal experts today would wholeheartedly disagree with DeLay's assertion that they agree with him that the charges are trumped up, baseless and partisan. He's stooping pretty low this time. DeLay's letter this week further proves that he's running out of options as he increasingly loses his base.

Libby To Be Indicted, Rove Will Not

CNN anchor Miles O'Brian reported moments ago that sources close to the CIA Leak investigation say that Bush's chief advisor Karl Rove will not be indicted and will instead "remain under investigation" by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. CNN also reports that VP Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby will be indicted for making false statements to the grand jury. If true, Rove has managed to escape a career collapse, and President Bush scores a victory in being able to retain his "brain." Another huge questionmark is Cheney's role in the leak, and whether or not he will at some point be implicated.

As we all know though from past erroneous news reports, everything reported above can be completely untrue. Stay tuned.

2000 Dead Soldiers Just a "Bogus Number" to Michelle Malkin

With the arrival of the 2,000th U.S. serviceman killed in Iraq this week, the right wing spin machine has gone into overdrive to portray this critical milestone as a meaningless statistic, and nothing more than a partisan ploy by the Democrats to attack the president and criticize the war. Well, they’re half right. You bet your ass we’ll use this number to continue condemning Bush for recklessly sending our troops to die in an unjust, ill-fated invasion of a sovereign nation that posed no real threat to America. But where we differ 1000% from the right is in our strong conviction that the 2,000 milestone is anything but insignificant. Witness conservative pundit Michelle Malkin’s column Wednesday in which she mocks this tragic milestone as a “bogus number.”

“The anti-war left couldn’t wait for the death of the 2,000th soldier in Iraq,” Malkin incredulously claims in her opening sentence, as if the protest movement’s been silent for the first 1,999 casualties. “Peace activists have been gearing up for protests, vigils and other events this week to mark the completely bogus milestone.” She’s building off the Republican talking point of the week, which is that the number 2,000 is no more or less significant than the 500th soldier to die or perhaps the 3,000th who will in the future. But that’s precisely the point that she and the legions of conservative hawks and neo-cons are missing in the anti-war movement: we do not want anymore soldiers to die.

To bolster her position, Malkin quotes an email sent to the media by U.S. Army Lt.-Colonel Steve Boylan, director of the force’s combined press center, to challenge what she calls the left’s use of the 2,000 milestone as a “phony excuse to protest.” In the email, Boylan wrote: “I ask that when you report on the events, take a moment to think about the effects on the families and those serving in Iraq. The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives.”

Diehard, delusional hawks like Boylan and Malkin just don’t get it that most of the country is now against the war, and the press’s treatment of it has shifted to the negative as well. Unlike the military elite, we are the ones “thinking about the families and those serving.” We are the ones who think 2,000 grieving families is 2,000 too many, and we do not wish to see even one more.

For Malkin to say that the “anti-war left” needs the 2,000 milestone as an “excuse” to protest demonstrates her ignorance over the movement’s increasing popularity and momentum, and is further proof that conservatives like her are grossly out of touch with mainstream America. Worse, relegating the 2,000 dead to a mere political statistic is a dishonor to those who put their trust in Bush and gave their life as a result.

The peace movement did not start with the death of the 2,000th U.S. soldier. Those of us against the war have been sounding the alarm for three years now. We saw Bush’s White House Iraq Group (WHIG) gearing up for war as a distraction and diversion from its failure to capture Osama bin Laden, and we never for a nano-second believed that mushroom clouds at the hands of Saddam ever threatened America’s homeland. We knew there was no WMD, no bin Laden/Saddam connections, and no shot of ever seeing a true Democracy in a country that's likely to be run by radical Islamists. We were against the invasion, we lamented the first soldier’s death, and we now see the number 2,000 as a frightening precursor to untold thousands more. And that is why the number 2,000 is so significant. It’s not for what it represents yesterday or today, but what additional horrors it will bring tomorrow unless the U.S. begins to develop an intelligent and timely exit strategy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New Poll Shows Further Decline for Bush and Congress

The sinkhole that President Bush and the Republican Party finds itself in these days is getting deeper and deeper. In a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll released today, Americans' dissatisfaction with the administration and with the GOP-controlled Congress is increasing, with the current crop of scandals making it much harder for Bush to accomplish anything in his second term.


-Poll finds next year's mid-term elections will be the hardest on incumbents since 1994
-54% polled say they'd vote for an anti-Bush candidate
-46% say most members of Congress deserve re-election
-50% say Bush lacks the personality and leadership qualities of a president
-42% approve of Bush's overall performance
-43% are against the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court, the first time in twenty years that a plurality has opposed the confirmation of any high court nominee.
-Almost 25% believe the Bushies committed crimes in the CIA Leak case, with another 40% saying they acted unethically but not illegally.
-57% say the Iraq war is going badly.
-55% would vote for an unnamed Democrat vs. Bush if he was up for re-election this year.

Certainly not a healthy report-card. And one can only imagine what these numbers will look like should the CIA Leak grand jury indict Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and/or other White House officials this week.

Has The NY Times' Kristof Lost His Spine?

To borrow from the wisdom of our great sage Donald Rumsfeld, you fight the enemy you have, not the enemy you want. In his column Tuesday, "Hurricane Fitzgerald Approaches the White House," NY Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof does the kind of over-intellectualizing and political cheek-turning that's symbolized the central weakness of the Democratic Party over the last several elections. Kristof laments the possibility of "mushier" indictments of key Bush Administration officials including Karl Rove and Scooter Libby and calls instead for discretion and fairness, hoping that Patrick Fitzgerald doesn't demonstrate the level of prosecutorial zealotry that Kenneth Starr was guilty of in his witchhunt of the Clintons for much of the 1990's. Kristof, like many Liberal apologists, fails to recognize the potency of the Republican machine and instead fantasizes of a rational and honorable opponent that clearly exists only in his head.

In short, Kristof, like so many before him these past several years, is saying "let's not stoop to the Republicans' dirty partisan antics." He seems to be echoing one of the latest GOP talking points that Fitzgerald should only indict on the original charge of a possible criminal breach of the 1982 law prohibiting the revealing of CIA agents' identities rather than on the "mushier" kinds of indictments for perjury, obstruction of justice or revealing classified information...But if the evidence is more equivocal, then indictments would mark just the kind of overzealous prosecutorial discretion that was a disgrace when Democrats were targeted. And it would be just as disgraceful if Republicans are the targets."

But that's just it. The Republicans have repeatedly done this sort of thing in the past, and they'll keep doing it. Haven't we yet learned that the GOP will go to any length, will do anything, and will attack anyone in order to win? Even after stolen elections, Swift Boat attack ads and PlameGate are we still unsure of the ruthless tactics our enemy employs to smear its rivals and win races? Does Kristof genuinely believe that taking the high road will cause the other side to do the same? Can he be that naive?

Republicans must be laughing when Liberals like Kristof get self-righteous. They must be thinking, "we'll just keep playing dirty while the Democrats play the honor card. And while they're basking in their own sanctimony we'll keep kicking their butts at the voting booth."

As for the ridiculous notion that charges of perjury or obstruction lack judicial credibility, let's keep one very important thing in mind: no one lies under oath or obstructs an investigation unless they have something to hide. Where there's smoke, there's fire. These are not innocent victims here.

Kristof is "repulsed by the glee that some Democrats show at the possibility of Karl Rove and Mr. Libby being dragged off in handcuffs." Well, I for one would be downright giddy. Actually, as my friend Alan said, seeing those two carted away would be "absolutely delicious."

The simple fact is this: the Republicans are ruthless, and they do play dirty. And they need to be stopped, however the means. According to Kristof, "It was wrong for prosecutors to cook up borderline and technical indictments during the Clinton administration, and it would be just as wrong today." He certainly is downplaying the gravity of the lying and conspiring that the Bushies have engaged in to cover up their catastrophic failure in Iraq which has killed 2000 soldiers and wounded and maimed tens of thousands of others, not to mention the scores of Iraqis killed. For Kristof to compare this to Bill Clinton's lying about sex with Monica Lewinsky is irresponsible and ignorant at best.

The Republicans are a brutal enemy, and you fight a brutal enemy with the same brutality and aggressiveness or you lose. These days, there's no honor in losing, especially when the costs, as we now know, are so high.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Gore Will Run, His Backers Say

Forget that half-hearted declaration Al Gore gave at an economic forum in Stockholm, Sweden two weeks ago about having "absolutely no plans and no expectations of ever being a candidate again." According to friends, family and political advocates, Gore's playing it coy and has every intention of entering the race. "I'm not discouraged at all by what he said," said one of the Gore backers who's recently spoken with US News & World Report. "He doesn't want to be embarrassed and he won't just slowly tip-toe into the race. He wants the whole thing set up for him and that will be easy to do."

Gore's supporters cite his strong, early anti-war stance and his concern over environmental issues, as well as his successful economic track-record and the fact that he won the popular vote in 2000. Many believe he won the Electoral College and the thus the presidency but had it stolen by the Florida GOP and the U.S. Supreme Court.

His advocates say Gore could get a groundswell of support from high-tech, media and corporate donors.

The DRAFT AL GORE PETITION started this past weekend has almost 1200 signatures*.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Impeach Bush? PlameGate is Bigger than Watergate

The grand jury investigating the CIA Leak case is scheduled to end on Friday. Depending upon who or what you believe, as many as 22 indictments, even more, could be handed down to a White House cast of characters including Karl Rove, VP Dick Cheney's chief Scooter Libby, Condi Rice, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Communications Director Dan Bartlett, Press Secretary Scott McClellan, former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, lower-level Cheney officials John Hannah and David Wurmser, and Cheney spinmeister Mary Matalin. The case could even go deeper, all the way up to Cheney and Bush.

We've all heard the question a million times now: what did Bush know and when did he know it? The same is true of Cheney. It's hard to fathom that these two supremely arrogant and controlling neocons did not fully know what their vengeful, unsavory operatives were doing to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his covert CIA agent wife Valerie Plame when they outed her to the press back in 2003.

But the real issue here is not Plame's outing per se, but whether or not Bush, Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the U.S. government lied about WMD to justify the Iraq invasion and then conspired to cover up the truth. For that reason, this case is so much bigger than the Watergate scandal of the early 1970's. No one died as a result of Watergate, however 2000 U.S. servicemen and 20,000+ Iraqis have died at the hands of the Bush administration. And let's not forget the tens of thousands of maimed and wounded U.S. soldiers.

What Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has up his sleeve this week is anybody's guess. But we can surmise from his past cases, as well as his zeal in investigating this case for two years, that indictments are coming. For whom exactly we do not know, but if Bush and Cheney are somehow implicated, Cheney needs to step down immediately, and Bush, depending upon what happens in next Year's mid-terms, could find himself on the wrong end of a Democrat-controlled House impeachment hearing. As the saying goes, No one died when Clinton lied. And we all know what happened to him. As for me, I'll be happy seeing Rove and Libby fingerprinted...for now at least.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

New Poll Shows it's Uphill for Hillary; More Good News for Gore?

When it comes to the 2008 election, a new Marist/WNBC poll released Friday shows that America may not yet be ready for a woman president, making a potential bid for the White House in 2008 that much harder for NY Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

According to the poll, only 26% of registered voters say they're likely to support a woman for president regardless of whether she is a Democrat or a Republican. At the other end of the spectrum, 28% would not support a woman candidate regardless of her party. 25% would support a woman if she became the Democratic nominee for president, and 21% would support her if she were the Republican nominee.

Among overall registered voters, Clinton's support comes from younger females; she faces more of a challenge among age 45+ males.

Among Democratic hopefuls, Clinton has a commanding lead (41%) over the pack which includes Sen. John Kerry (17%), former Sen. John Edwards (14%), Sen. Joe Biden (5%) and Fmr. Gen. Wesley Clark (3%). Former VP Al Gore was not included on the list, stating as recently as two weeks ago that he has no "intention" to run in '08.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

An Open Letter to Al Gore; Draft Gore Petition

Dear President Gore:

We the people of the United States of America are frustrated and angry with the present Republican leadership, and believe the country is headed dangerously in the wrong direction. There's been one colossal policy failure after another, and the current administration has perpetuated a culture of cronyism and corruption. We need to restore honesty, respect, integrity and accountability to the White House. And we need thoughtful, innovative, intelligent and moral leadership.

In 2000 you won the popular vote, and many believe the electoral college as well had it not been for political and judicial chicanery both in Florida and in the Supreme Court of the United States. Millions of us still think of you as our rightful president.

The country has changed drastically since 2000. The Iraq war has squandered $200+ billion, thousands of American lives, and untold political capital, with no end in sight. You were solidly anti-war from the get-go. The economy is challenged by unemployment, inflation, historic deficits and debt, skyrocketing gas and oil prices, declining consumer confidence and rising interest rates. You and President Clinton presided over one of the strongest economies in U.S. history. We've been shamed and embarrassed by woefully inadequate natural disaster and terror preparedness. You've been sounding the global warming alarm for years, and have worked hard to protect our precious environment. Your message would resonate quite well with a post-Katrina electorate. And we've been burdened by mounting moral, ethical and legal scandals from the current Republican leadership. Your character, integrity and family values speaks for itself.

There has been overwhelming grass-roots support for your candidacy, Mr. President. America is desperate for change. We want you to finish the successful mission that you and Bill Clinton began in 1992. We've started an online Draft Al Gore petition and we'll be amassing e-signatures from Americans nationwide who are very excited at the prospect of your candidacy. We'll contact you again shortly and keep you appraised of our progress.

Mr. President, America needs you. Please consider our urgent call for 2008. Thank you on behalf of Americans everywhere.

Andy Ostroy
Editor & Publisher
The Ostroy Report
New York, NY

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bush Gives Saudi Pals Free Ride on Slave Trafficking

It sure does pay to be a pal of President Bush these days. If you're Michael "Brownie" Brown and Harriet Miers, you can get cushy jobs at the White House, FEMA and possibly the Supreme Court. Or if you're Saudi Arabia, you get a pass on financial sanctions previously levied for failing to stop the slave-like trading of prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers.

According to the State Department, as many as 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are traded and trafficked across the borders of countries all over the world each year, while others are lured with false promises of work or other benefits.

The Saudis, despite an inadequate response to U.S. pressure to adequately address the trafficking problem, were given a pass on financial sanctions. The Saudis are oil-rich pals of the Bushies and have close economic and military ties to the U.S.

A total of 14 countries, including Sudan, Bolivia, Venezuela and Cambodia, had been warned back in June by the Bush administration to take appropriate measures to curb trafficking or face stiff financial penalty. However, most still receive all or part of their aid. Only Myanmar, Cuba and North Korea have been completely cut off from certain kinds of foreign aid in this effort.

Santorum Flip-Flops on Minimum Wage

As the November 2006 midterm elections get closer and his Pennsylvania seat grows more vulnerable with each passing day, Rick Santorum, the third most powerful Republican in the Senate, is apparently looking to score points with low-income workers and an electorate growing increasingly angry towards the GOP-controlled Congress. On Wednesday he cast a vote in favor of increasing the minimum wage after having previously voted 12 times against the wage hike. This major flip-flop followed another reversal the prior day with a vote to freeze Congressional wages. Santorum had voted in 2001, 2002, and 2003 against amendments to freeze House and Senate cost of living increases.

"With two flip-flops in two days, maybe we should buy Santorum a diving board," said Jay Reiff, campaign manager for Bob Casey Jr, Santorum's Democratic challenger. "Santorum must be worried about Casey if he's willing to reverse a ten-year voting record on the minimum wage."

Casey, the PA state treasurer, has maintained a steady double-digit lead over Santorum in the polls, and earlier this week announced he beat the incumbent Senator in third quarter fundraising, with over $2,000,000 raised.

The nation's minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour since 1997. The Democrats' proposal, led by Ted Kennedy (MA), called for an increase to $6.25 over an 18-month period. A Republican proposal provided the same $1.10 increase and added various tax incentives for small businesses. Both measures were defeated.

Kennedy said it was "absolutely unconscionable" that in the same period that Congress has denied a minimum wage increase, lawmakers gave themselves seven pay raises worth $28,000.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Americans' Satisfaction With Congress Hits New Lows

The Republican Party was hit with another stomach punch this week with the release of a new USA Today/Gallup poll showing Americans' satisfaction with the GOP-controlled Congress now at a pathetic 29%, the lowest since 1994 when an electorate fed up with scandal, corruption and policy failure gave the GOP a landslide win in the midterms, ushering in over 11 years of Republican rule that still exists on the Hill today. It's starting to look like deja vu all over again for the GOP. The poll found President Bush's approval rating at an all-time low as well.

Americans increasingly are saying they want change. The country has been rocked with both domestic and overseas turmoil including a highly controversial and unpopular war; ongoing terror threats and embarrassing homeland security failures; rising inflation; declining consumer confidence; record gas and oil prices; scandal on Capital Hill and in the White House; and the Harriet Miers debacle.

What's of most concern to party analysts is that the new poll also showed that 1 in 4 independents said they approved of Congress' performance, whereas about 7 in 10 said they disapproved.

"The Republican base can be as intense as it wants, but if you are going to lose independents nationally by 15 [percentage] points, it doesn't matter," said veteran GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio.

The Bush administration's strength has been its core conservative base, which could further alienate independents as the desperate Bushies try to appease the base even further. "He could lose all the independents in the process," said Democratic pollster Stanley B. Greenberg.

GOP Pollster Frank Luntz agrees that the party is facing mounting challenges it may not be able to overcome, and that anger towards the Republican leadership and a desire for change may result in a "wave that throws out incumbents," and added, "everyone's disappointed. I can't find a happy Republican out there."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bush Critic Gets Fired

It appears that the mighty sword of the Bushies' attack squad has swung again against yet another political enemy. Bruce Bartlett, who's been a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy, a conservative think-tank, was summarily dismissed after ten years of service. Bartlett, a former domestic aide in the Reagan administration, has been very critical of President Bush lately. His new book, "The Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy," is due out shortly and expresses concern over Bush's reckless fiscal policy. Bartlett's also been critical of Bush's choice of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court.

Tomorrow Bartlett will publish his latest column in which he says conservatives are growing extremely frustrated and disenchanted with Bush, who they believe "is not one of them and has never been,". He cites the president's fiscal, education, immigration and regulation policies as examples.

According to the Center, Bartlett was dismissed because his book, which was approved as a policy assessment, ended up being a critique of politicians, which is something the organization did not want to be a part of.

Whether Bartlett's firing is directly related to any type of retribution from the Bush administration is uncertain, but his dismissal certainly follows a pattern of attacks on Bush's most vocal critics. Andy

Monday, October 17, 2005

Texas Judges Say Miers Would Overturn Roe v Wade

Two weeks after President Bush nominated Texas crony and White House counsel Harriet Miers to replace the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, the controversy rages on, especially with what allegedly took place the day she was nominated, Oct. 3, during a teleconference between the heads of over a dozen high-profile religious conservative groups and two members of the Texas judiciary who stated she'd move to overturn Roe v. Wade if confirmed. The participants included the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Gary Bauer of American Values, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation and the Rev. Bill Owens, a black minister, and Justice Nathan Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court and Judge Ed Kinkeade, a Dallas-based federal trial judge.

Much prior focus has been on another call, between Dobson and Karl Rove, in which Dobson was allegedly "assured" by Rove of Miers' anti-abortion position. But new information points to the Oct. 3 teleconference as being the real smoking gun.

The call was to assure the group that Miers is solidly pro-life. As reported today by John Fund in the Wall Street Journal, who has obtained notes that were taken during the conference call, Dobson was asked to introduce Justice Hecht and Judge Kinkeade, informing the group that "Karl Rove suggested that we talk with these gentlemen because they can confirm specific reasons why Harriet Miers might be a better candidate than some of us think." Then, an unidentified voice asked the two men, "Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?" "Absolutely," said Judge Kinkeade. "I agree with that," said Justice Hecht. "I concur."

If this is true, if any of the participants of the call are asked to testify before the Judiciary committee, and if it is proven that "assurances" were given by Miers, Rove and/or another Bush official, it could spell even further trouble for an already embarrassed and embattled Bush administration.

As for the Texas judges, Kinkeade declined comment and Hecht repeated his public comments that Miers is pro-life but said he could not remember if he told the group that she'd overturn Roe. Andy

Bush "Democracy" In Iraq: More Smoke and Mirrors

It appears likely from early election returns that voters--including many Sunnis who were expected to vote No--have approved the proposed Iraqi constitution. On paper, it's a victory for President Bush, who called the apparent victory "progress towards peace." Bush has been a relentless, and often delusional, cheerleader since his vanity invasion in March 2003. But what ultimate effect the constitution will have on the country's move toward a real democracy is yet to be seen. More likely is no real democracy at all but instead an unstable country ruled by Iran-style religious clerics who'll be anything but friendly to the United States. Further, what effect it will have on America's ability to withdraw its troops is the biggest mystery of all.

The constitution, which falls far short or real rights protections for women, minorities and secular Iraqis--provides Iraq a framework for governance and the rule of law. Key provisions, as outlined in USA Today's coverage, include:

1. Government: "The Republic of Iraq is an independent, sovereign state. Its system of government is republican, representative (parliamentary), democratic and federal." The Baath Party and other groups promoting racism, terrorism or ethnic cleansing are banned.

2. Regional autonomy: The Kurdish area of northeast Iraq and its regional government is recognized. More autonomous regions can be approved in the future.

3. Individual rights: Iraqis have equal rights under the law, regardless of religion, sex or ethnic background. Among those rights are liberty, equal opportunity, security, personal privacy and privacy in the home. The state guarantees freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.

4. Islam: Islam "is the official religion of the State" and "a fundamental source of legislation." No law may be enacted that "contradicts the established provisions of Islam" or "contradicts the principles of democracy." Full religious rights are guaranteed to minorities.

5. National identity: Iraq is "a country of many nationalities, religions and sects," language inserted to satisfy non-Arab Kurds and Christians. Iraq also is declared "part of the Islamic world" and "a founding and active member of the Arab League," wording to ease Sunni Arab fears that the charter would dilute Iraq's Arab identity.

6. Women's rights: Men and women have the right to "participate in public affairs," vote and hold public office. Women are guaranteed one-fourth of parliament seats. However, some women fear language granting a major role for Islamic law will erode their rights in such areas as divorce and inheritance.

7. Oil wealth: Management of current fields must assure "balanced development" throughout the country; new fields must be managed to achieve "the highest benefit to the Iraqi people." Still, some Sunnis fear most oil revenue will go to Shiite and Kurdish areas, where most of Iraq's oil fields are.

8. Amendments: A parliamentary committee will consider amendments during the first four months of the next legislative session, a provision added to encourage the Sunni Arab minority to end its insurgency and take part in politics. Amendments need two-thirds approval in parliament before going to popular referendum.

It's this last provision that is most dubious, and was a last-minute bargaining chip in eliciting support for the proposed constitution from some key Sunni leaders. In essence, the constitution is little more than a short-term referendum that could either change dramatically in four months or be the cause of an intensified insurgency if changes are too little.

Should the constitution be officially approved, the country will choose a new parliament in national elections Dec. 15, and the legislature will select a new Iraqi government to take office by Dec. 31.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Gov. Terminator Pushes Abortion Restrictions

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has thrown his support behind a November 8 special election referendum that will severely restrict a minor's ability to get an abortion. Known as Proposition 73, the measure, if passed, would amend the state constitution and require parental notification before an abortion procedure could be performed on a minor. A mandatory 48 hour waiting period would follow the notification before a doctor could perform the procedure. Only under very limited circumstances--such as a medical emergency or if the minor receives a "judicial bypass"--could the parental notification requirement be bypassed.

The Governator's concern as a parent and for his own child is behind his support of the Proposition: "I have a daughter. I wouldn't want to have someone take my daughter to a hospital for an abortion or something and not tell me. I would kill him if they do that." Kill? C'mon Arnie, that's not a terribly Pro-life sentiment now, is it?

As expected, the Proposition has been widely opposed by politicians, abortions right's organizations and women's advocacy groups. Sen. Diane Feinstein has voiced opposition this week not only to Proposition 73, but to the entire November 8 agenda: "Feinstein believes that the special election is a mistake. It's a costly waste of taxpayer dollars," said spokesman Howard Gantman.

Sen. Barbara Boxer opposes the measure as well, expressing concern over its politically loaded wording which she believes would “set it up to overturn Roe v. Wade” in California.

NARAL Pro-choice California strongly defends a minor's need for privacy: "Despite their best intentions, parental notification laws put young women in jeopardy by placing barriers between them and safe medical care. While we hope and encourage all young women to talk with their families, there are times when teens just can’t talk with their parents. Some daughters don’t want to disappoint their parents. Other daughters know that telling their parents would get them kicked out of the house or beaten or worse. This amendment is a one-size fits all government mandate that does not help parents keep their daughters safe. No law can force a family to communicate and we believe that the government shouldn’t be in the business of forcing itself into sensitive family decisions. Parents need real solutions like honest sex ed for their teens, support for prevention programs, and access to birth control."

With his dreadful 36% approval rating and a recall movement on the rise, Schwarzenegger cannot afford yet another policy failure. Andy

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Texas Republicans Ok With Corruption But Not Gay Marriage

On November 8th Texans will go to the polls to vote on Proposition 2, a referendum to change the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The right-wing good ol' boys and gals of The Lone Start State have no problem faithfully supporting crooked politicians like Rep. Tom DeLay and his outlaw posse. Nor do local religious groups, such as the Texas Restoration Project, a network of conservative Christian clergymen and others, who've been pounding the pavement in a fervent get-out-the-vote campaign. Nope, corruption is just fine with these folks. They simply have a problem with homosexual union. In the past year, 14 other states including Michigan, Ohio and Kansas have amended their constitutions to prohibit gay marriage.

After the election last year, the Right gloated in victory: "This issue does not deeply divide America," said conservative activist Gary Bauer. "The country overwhelmingly rejects same-sex marriage, and our hope is that both politicians and activist judges will read these results and take them to heart."

That may be an aggressive supposition, but the Right has certainly been more organized and vocal in its opposition, and has mounted a very successful campaign to constituionally ban same-sex marriage across the nation.

To combat the Texas conservatives' efforts, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force says it's spent $200,000 to develop commercials against the Proposition, which they'll be running until next Tuesday. The ads feature religious and political leaders, diverse gay couples, and parents of gays.

Perhaps the same zealots who are hellbent on preventing gays from marrying might consider harnessing their energy, passion and resources to keep reprehensible crooks like DeLay and Karl Rove from retaining power and destroying the American political system. They are the real enemy of society, not gays.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Casey Raises More Q3 Cash Than Santorum

Pennsylvania State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. is literally and figuratively giving #3 man in the Senate Rick Santorum a run for his money. Casey's campaign plans to file a quarterly finance report Monday with the Federal Election Commission showing that it raised over $2,000,000 in the last 3 months. The Casey camp also stated that the Democratic challenger significantly out-raised the Republican incumbent during this period and has gained in the crucial cash-on-hand contest.

Casey has been doggedly pursuing Santorum's highly coveted seat, steadily maintaining a 10-15% lead in the polls. He's also had lots of help from Santorum who, in criticizing working mothers and public schools, has lately been suffering from a case of foot-in-mouth disease.

Santorum continues to be very vulnerable. The National Journal reported last week that it could only find one incumbent U.S. Senator in modern history--Jesse Helms in 1984--that won after being down by double digits in the polls. Andy

New Poll Shows DeLay Slipping in Texas District

Despite embattled Rep. Tom DeLay's aggressive attempt to spin his way out of his mounting legal troubles, his poll numbers are dropping in his home district, according to a SurveyUSA poll commissioned by Houston's KPRC-TV.

DeLay has blamed the Democrats, Travis County DA Ronnie Earle, and just about anyone else he can think of for the multiple Congressional admonishings and two conspiracy indictments he's been hit with. But it's not working. He's losing critical support among his constituents in the 22nd district, 40% of whom believe he should now resign from Congress, according to the poll conducted last week. This is the highest number recorded since polling began five months ago. His approval rating is at 42%.

The candidacy of Democratic challenger Nick Lampson gets stronger each day, and DeLay clearly is vulnerable. Lampson is a four-term Texas Congressman edged out in Delay's 2003 redistricting scheme. Andy

Thursday, October 13, 2005

"Restoring America's Greatness:" Time for a New "New Deal"

New polls released this week show President Bush's popularity sliding even further into the abyss, and America's dissatisfaction with the Republican-controlled Congress at an all time low. In next November's midterms, Democrats have an unprecedented opportunity to recapture the House and Senate, and perhaps even work their way back into the Oval Office in '08. The Left certainly has plenty of reason for optimism, but the challenges are still plentiful as well. Strategists and pundits have been pounding the table over the Democrats' need to create our own version of the "Contract with America," the brilliant Newt Gingrich/Tom Delay document that resulted in a Republican landslide victory in the 1994 elections. To win, Democrats need a coherent message that will resonate with the growing legions of dissatisfied, disenfranchised and frustrated voters, and we need a candidate who can best deliver this message.

The resounding success of "Contract with America" was that it was revolutionary in very specifically laying out both the Republicans' plans and subsequent actions if elected. In short, they very clearly said "Elect us and this is how we will make America and your life better."

But more importantly, the Democratic Party is the party of FDR and The New Deal, and it should immediately begin formulating a new major campaign theme/message/promise built on this historically popular legislative agenda. We can call it "Restoring America's Greatness." And like the GOP's Contract, our message should be one of government reform and policy change. The Contract worked, so let's learn from it and co-opt its success as we offer Americans a new New Deal .

Let's start with Reforms that need to be passed. If put back in power, the Democrats should promise voters that its "Restoring America's Greatness" plan will:

1. Demand that our elected representatives abide by the same laws as every other American;
2. Conduct a comprehensive and independent audit of Congressional waste, fraud and/or abuse;
3. Reduce the number of House committees; cut committee staff by one-third; ban proxy voting in committee; open committee meetings to the public; and impose shorter limits on committee chairs;
4. Require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase, tax decrease or repeal of other taxes such as the estate tax;
5. Require a three-fifths majority in order to pass changes to House rules that would benefit the majority party;
6. Allow only a zero based budget--no spending increases--until the deficit is appreciably reduced.

Now let's talk Policy. The Democrats should craft a clear platform that, as a start, includes the following significant domestic and foreign policy changes:

1. The immediate creation of an near-term exit strategy from Iraq;
2. A ten-point plan to protect America from acts of terrorism and/or natural disaster, to be coordinated with state and local governments;
3. The creation of a specific budget earmarked for resources and manpower to capture and bring to justice terror masterminds Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
4. A reduction in the term limits for Congressman from six years to four;
5. A ten-point energy conservation plan to dramatically reduce gas and oil prices as well as America's dependency on foreign fuel;
6. The creation of a Global Warming subcommittee to address this growing environmental problem that scientists say is causing an increased frequency of Category 4+ hurricanes and other natural disasters;
7. A ten-point plan to cut the record budget deficit in half by 2008 and have it balanced by 2010;
8. An immediate 25% increase in soldiers' pay and signing bonus to attract new recruits; the passge of a new bill to increase insurance and benefits for veterans;
9. The creation of a guaranteed government health plan for all Americans;
10. Immediate repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers;
11. Creation of a $10-billion jobs-creation program to put Americans back to work;
12. Legislation preventing government from tapping the Social Security Trust Fund;
13. Create a 10-point plan for improving the nation's education system, working closely with state and local governments.

It all seems so simple, this message. America is the greatest nation in the world; a nation that has protected its citizens and international allies; has cared for its young, its elderly, its sick, its destitute; has provided housing, food and education for those in need; and has created "the land of opportunity" for anyone with ambition, hopes and dreams for a better life. Throughout history we've used our immense power and influence to help change the world. That is the greatness of America, and that is what the Democratic Party in this country stands for as well.

"Restoring America's Greatness." It's a clear message we need right now. A message from the Democratic Party to all of America that we are the party of ideas, hope and change. That Democrats promise to deliver to Americans a better America. A message that, if coherently crafted, conveyed and confidently delivered, could resonate quite well with an electorate fed up with Republican failure and its culture of cronyism and corruption. It worked in 1994. History has a habit of repeating itself. Andy

The Bush Strategy of Mixing Politics and Terror

Ever since the horrific Al Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 the Bush administration has used terror as a political weapon to reinforce Bush's role as the critical wartime leader. They've also seemingly used terror alerts to call attention away from Democrats' momentum as well as any GOP bad press. In fact, had the Bushies not duped half of America into obsessing over another potential attack we likely would have President Kerry in the White House instead of unCurious George.

As irresponsible and reprehensible as it would be, is it really possible that there's been a systematic effort to pull a bait and switch every time the Bushies feel some sort of political heat? Prompted by last week's heightened alert for the NYC subway system, which has been purported now to have been a hoax, one journalist decided to run a parallel analysis of the other terror alerts against the political turmoil the Bushies have faced since 9-11. What he found is both frightening and infuriating: that this increasingly corrupt administration may have breached national security for purely political purposes.

On MSNBC's "Countdown" show Wednesday, host Keith Oberman's The Nexus of Politics and Terror piece compared the timing of the alerts to various events such as the disclosures of colossal intelligence failures; the DNC Convention; the John Edwards VP selection; and the Karl Rove Scandal. Coincidence or not, it sure appears as though there's been an ongoing, calculated strategy to deflect scandal and controversy, and to trump any successes by Democrats, by issuing terror warnings and/or raising the national threat levels.

Lending credence to this hypothesis is former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, who last May said of the threat-level increases: “More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it. Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don’t necessarily put the country on (alert)… there were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said ‘for that?’”

A synopsis of Oberman's analysis:

#1: May 18th, 2002. The details of the now-infamous “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.” PDB are made public as well as news that the FBI ignored a memo about terrorists training at an Arizona flight school. Two days later FBI Director Mueller warns of another attack and DHS issues a terror alert for NYC landmarks.

#2: June 6th, 2002. Minnesota FBI agent Colleen Rowley testifies before Congress about her warnings to superiors about "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui. Four days later Attorney General John Ashcroft announces that an American named Jose Padilla, in custody for over a month, has been arrested for suspected terrorism in the U.S.

#3: February 5th, 2003. Secretary of State Powell appears before U.N to justify first-strike on Iraq over WMD; anti-war demonstrations occur worldwide. Two days later, Ridge raises terror alert and the government advises Americans to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect against radiological or biological attack.

#4: July 23rd, 2003: The White House admits it knew the accuracy of the infamous "16 words" in the President's State of the Union Address concerning Iraq's attempt to buy uranium from Niger was suspect. Congress's 9-11 report is issued the next day, criticizing government at all levels, and stated that Iraq had no link to Al-Qaeda. Two days later U.S. troops are accused of beating Iraqi prisoners. Three days later, DHS issues a warnings about terrorists planning to use airplanes for suicide attacks.

#5: December 17th, 2003. 9/11 Commission Co-Chair Thomas Kean says the attacks were preventable. Three days later, DHS raises the threat level to Orange, again citing suicide-plane missions.

#6: March 30th, 2004. Chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer tells Congress no WMD has been found in Iraq. Two days later four American contractors working in Iraq are murdered in a horrific display of brutality. The next day, DHS issues a warning that terrorists are plotting to detonate fertilizer and fuel bombs on buses and trains.

#7: May 16th, 2004. Powell tells “Meet The Press” host Tim Russert that much of the information he had been given about WMD was “inaccurate and wrong, and, in some cases, deliberately misleading.” Five days later the first Abu Ghraib Prison photos hit the press. On the 24th, AP confirms U.S. forces mistakenly bombed a wedding party killing over 40 people. Two days later, Ashcroft warns that intelligence points to "Al-Qaeda’s specific intention to hit the United States hard,” and that “90 percent of the arrangements for an attack on the United States were complete.”

#8: July 6th, 2004. Kerry selects Edwards as his vp, causing a lift in the polls, and am increase in media coverage. Two days later, Ridge warns of possible Al-Qaeda attacks during the Summer or Fall.

#9: July 29th, 2004. The DNC convention in Boston dominates the news. Two days later, DHS raises the alert status for financial centers in New York, New Jersey, and Washington. The intelligence data is later proved to be four years old.

#10: October 22nd, 2004. The FBI and other agencies refute the Bushies' claim that terrorists may be planning to disrupt the November elections, citing no direct evidence of any plot. Seven days later--four days before the election--the latest Osama bin Laden video hits the Al-Jazeera Network. A Bush-Cheney campaign official calls the tape “a little gift.”

#11: October 6, 2005. Bush speaks to the National Endowment for Democracy and invokes terror once again and justifies the war in Iraq. Later that day, AP reports Karl Rove will testify again in the CIA leak investigation and faces possible indictment. Hours later, NYC Mayor Bloomberg warns of possible subway terror plot. based on questionable, and dated, DHS intelligence.

Perhaps we'll never know the truth about the political strategy behind the warnings and threat-level increases. But what we do know is that their timing is highly suspect. And in an administration that fosters, as Howard Dean said, a "culture of corruption," I guess where there's smoke there's a likely fire. Andy

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

More Buzz on Al Gore Running in '08

The buzz remains strong in Washington political and media circles over a potential Al Gore campaign for the presidency in '08. Insiders say that the climate is perfect for a Gore candidacy, underscored by President Bush's and the Republican Party's mounting troubles over the war in Iraq, the economy and the deficit, Hurricane Katrina and the wave of political scandals rattling the GOP core. "The Comeback Kid" has momentum, and has been turning up the heat in speech after speech loaded with the kind of passion, conviction and charisma that was missing in his 2000 campaign. He's starting to excite Democrats inside and outside the Beltway.

A blurb in U.S. News & World Report's Washington Whispers this week cites a former Bush 41 aide who's now seeking to lure Gore into the race: "It's Gore Time," says the political strategist and fundraiser. Gore's been building up an impressive donor base and constituency through his new venture, the Current TV network. And with his rock-solid anti-war and environmental/conservation positions--both of which are critical issues to Americans today--Gore's overall message could resonate quite well with a nation that's grown extremely frustrated and dissatisfied with the current Republican leadership. Possible running-mates being discussed include Fmr. Gen Wesley Clark and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Andy

Texas Rep. Kevin Brady Arrested for DWI

Another member of the Republican morality police, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, has run into trouble with the law. According to South Dakota authorities, Brady was arrested Friday night and charged with driving under the influence. Brady was born in S. Dakota and graduated from USD, which held its homecoming over the weekend.

Brady, the Deputy Whip who currently serves on the Ways and Means Committee, is a staunch conservative who has voted against stem cell research, abortion education, partial-birth abortions and is rated 0% by NARAL for his pro-life positions.

There's been no information released yet as to how much alcohol was in Brady's system. The legal limit is .08 in S. Dakota. Brady faces a fine of up to $1,000 and a year in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor charge, according to Clay County Sheriff Andy Howe. Andy

The Miers Nomination: Where the Hell are the Democrats?

President Bush's nomination of conservative crony Harriet Miers to replace the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court set off a hailstorm of protest not from the Left, but from Bush's own party. The chorus of disapproval comes from politicians, pundits and evangelicals alike. Right wing stalwarts in the Senate including Trent Lott (MI), Tom Coburn (OK) and Sam Brownback (KS) have expressed strong opposition and said they're likely to vote no. Grover Norquist (Americans for Tax Reform), Gary Bauer (American Values Coalition), Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Bill Kristol, George Will, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter and others have pounded the table in opposition as well. They're hammering Bush for nominating an unimpressive, unqualified blank-slate mystery-woman like Miers instead of a diehard conservative with solid bench experience such as Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown or Edith Jones who will further the Right's radical conservative agenda. It's not that they don't believe Miers is pro-life; they want certainty, not mystery. To say they're livid with Bush would be a gross understatement. As Buchanan said last week, "we've waited 12 years for this appointment," and the president is blowing "the opportunity of a lifetime."

Despite the opposition from many of the Right's most influential voices, many key evangelicals like Pat Robertson (Christian Coalition), Richard Land (Southern Baptist Convention) and Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family) are in full support of Miers, with Dobson dubiously inferring to the media last week that he's been "assured" by Karl Rove and the White House that she's solidly pro-life. Land and Robertson have also stated their confidence in Bush's decision and with Miers' likely position on abortion.

So where the hell are the Democrats? Why are they silent? Where's the aggressive opposition to the evangelical Miers, someone who has Bush's trust and faith; is most certainly pro-life (which is why he chose her); and who has the resounding support of some of the most anti-abortion militants in the country? Why is the Left sitting back and reveling in the Republican-on-Republican battling instead of diving in head first to defend liberal ideals and women's reproductive rights? They caved on John Roberts Jr. and vowed to wage war on the next Bush appointment. Where's the fight? When do the Democrats stop being the spineless, namby-pamby minority party and start standing up for what they believe in?

You want to talk opportunities of a lifetime? For the last 5 1/2 years, the Bushies have given Democrats everything they could possibly want: failed war, weak economy, woefully inadequate disaster preparedness, multiple scandals and presidential and congressional ineptitude. We have more rallying cries than we dreamed of. So when do we start rallying? When do we stand up to the Right and say enough... we're not going to let you destroy the country any longer. And we will not allow you to turn the Supreme Court of the United States into an evangelical playground. Sen. Harry Reid, if you're listening, get off your ass and start fighting. Andy

Monday, October 10, 2005

Can Bush and the GOP Survive Without Rove?

Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff and top advisor to President Bush, heads back to Pat Fitzgerald's grand jury this week to testify for the fourth time in the CIA leak investigation. It's quite feasible and perhaps likely that Rove will be among several Bush aides to be indicted when the investigation concludes, possibly later this month. The $64,000 question facing the Republican Party is this: can it survive without the man they call Bush's Brain?

Rove has faithfully and dutifully been attached to the Bush family's political hip since the early days in Texas. His climb up the ranks began at the age of 21 in the 1972 Nixon re-election campaign, working for dirty-trickster Donald Segretti, the top White House operative responsible for vicious smear campaigns on Nixon rivals including Edmond Muskie, George McGovern and George Wallace. Rove's skills didn't go unnoticed. A year later, Rove became chairman of the College Republicans when George Herbert Walker Bush was chairman of the Texas Republican Party. Rove also learned the tricks of his trade early on from Lee Atwater, who managed Rove's college campaign and went on to become the attack dog for the Reagan/Bush team. Bush 41 later hired Rove to run his failed 1980 presidential campaign, and he's been working with Bush Jr. since his 1993 Texas gubernatorial run.

Over the years, Rove has been connected to several acts of political chicanery targeting clients' opponents such Paul Wellstone, Tom Harkin and former Texas Governor Mark White. In the latter case, White ran against Rove's client Bill Clements, a Republican. Prior to a highly anticipated debate between the two candidates, Rove called the media to report that his office had been bugged, claiming, without proof, that it was the White camp who was responsible. The story distracted attention from the debates, Clements won, and Rove's political capital soared. However, the police ultimately determined that it was Rove himself who most likely planted the bug. And in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, Rove was the engine behind the potent smear campaigns against John McCain, Al Gore and John Kerry. In short, Karl Rove is a man who will do everything in his power, and then some, to get his clients elected and keep them in power. And that's exactly what has Bush and the GOP worried. He's been the master architect in virtually every Bush/GOP victory for the past 5 1/2 years and beyond.

As conservative activist Grover Norquist put it: "If you could clone Karl and bring in someone who had his talent and instincts, but not the relationship with Bush, it would be 50-60% as good."

To his detractors, Rove is the equivalent of moral bankruptcy. Former Texas Republican Chairman Tom Pauken calls Rove "Nixonesque" and lacking an "ethical compass."

To be sure, the success of George Bush and the GOP to-date has been inextricably tied to Rove. But with the CIA leak scandal hanging over him like an ominous cloud, some say Rove has been greatly distracted and marginalized, which could be why the president's popularity has dropped precipitously, and why his response to crisis and controversy has been inept at best. The Bushies have had a major PR fallout over Hurricane Katrina and the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination, for example, and Rove's lack of focus is a likely reason. How much longer they can float up the political creek without their paddle, Rove, is anybody's guess. Andy

Sunday, October 09, 2005

One Simple Reason For Senators to Vote No on Miers

Let's keep this very simple, folks. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers believes President Bush "is the smartest man I ever met." This is reason enough for 100 Senators to conclude that her intelligence, objectivity, judgment and ability to reason is grossly impaired, thus rendering her unfit to serve the most important, prestigious court in the world. Andy

Specter May Subpoena Dobson on Miers "Assurances"

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, plans to investigate whether Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, Karl Rove or other White House officials gave assurances to Focus on the Family head Dr. James Dobson that Miers would vote to overturn landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade if appointed to the court. Speaking on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Sunday morning, Specter, along with the committee's ranking Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT), vowed to investigate the charge, and will question Dobson, Miers and anyone else who they believe could help uncover the facts. Both he and Leahy said Dobson could also be called to testify at the committee's upcoming hearings.

In a radio address to his followers last week, Dobson raised pro-choicers' ire when he intimated he knows how Miers would vote on Roe: "It was leaked to the media that I've had conversations with Karl Rove and the White House, which is true. But I have not revealed those conversations, and the media is trying every which way from Sunday to get me to address the conversations. When you know some of the things that I know that I probably shouldn't will understand why I have said, with fear and trepidation, that I believe Harriet Miers will be a good justice." Coming from the evangelical, right-wing ideologue Dobson, this is code language for...Miers will vote to overturn Roe.

A visibly agitated Specter told Stephanopoulos that it's important to know "if there were back-room assurances and if there were back-room deals, and if there is something which bears upon a precondition as to how a nominee is going to vote. I think that's a matter that ought to be known by the Judiciary Committee and the American people."

On Rove and Dobson testifying, Specter said he's listed 30 possible witnesses and divided them equally between both parties. Stephanopoulos asked specifically if Dobson is on that list and if so would he be called to testify. Specter joked that perhaps Leahy will call Dobson, then grew very serious when challenged again: "Now wait a minute. If Pat Leahy doesn't call him, Arlen Specter may. I want to know what all the facts are. I'm very fact-oriented, and if Dr. Dobson knows something he shouldn't know or something that I ought to know, I'm gonna find out."

Leahy concurred: "I can tell you one thing right now. If assurances were given of how any nominee--whether this nominee or anybody else--if somebody gives assurances how they're going to vote in an upcoming case, I would vote against that person"...and he said that all 100 Senators should vote against confirmation as well. He added that the committee will call whichever witnesses necessary to determine the facts. Stephanopoulos: "We can assume that they're (Dobson and Rove) going to be questioned by the committee? Specter: "You bet."

In ackowledging Miers' tough road ahead, Leahy and Specter underscored the opposition from both sides of the aisle over her lack of judicial, and more important, constitutional experience: "I have no problem taking somebody who's not been a judge," said Leahy. "We've had some tremendous justices who were not there. I think the problem...the president says she's the most qualified person in America to be on the court...she says the president is the most brilliant man she's ever met. It's not being partisan to say there are some Americans who don't agree with either statement." Specter is quoted in a front-page NY Times story today that Miers "needs a crash course in constitutional law."

Stephanopoulos asked Leahy why he seemingly endorsed a Miers-like nomination when he previously told Bush to "consider somebody outside the judicial monastery." Leahy replied that he should've also advised Bush to "consider somebody outside the White House compound."

Leahy said Democrats will continue to push the White House for documents covering Miers' service as Bush's White House Counsel, while Specter said those documents are protected under executive priviledge. Both Leahy and Specter said they will ask for Miers' law school transcripts. "Academic standing is relevant," said Specter.

Should we ultimately learn that Miers' grades were as unimpressive as Bush's while the president studied at Yale, their mutual admiration society should then come as no surprise. Brilliant birds of a feather flock together. Andy

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bill O'Reilly: Miers a Victim of Persecution Against Christians

If you're Bill O'Reilly, you believe that Democrats cannot get behind Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers because she's a devout Christian, and Republicans are against her because she's not Christian enough. According to O'Reilly in his The Coming Faith Wars column Friday, Miers is the victim of the rising persecution against practicing Christians in America today. O'Reilly even claims that the chorus of disapproval in Washington over Miers is exclusively due to her religious beliefs and practices. This persecution of Christians, he suggests, is widespread and only getting worse. Forget the fact that most of our leadership--Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc--as well as the Senate, Congress, the Supreme Court, the media and Americans overall are mostly made up of Christians. We live in a Christian country, with Christian beliefs, Christian culture, public Christian religious displays, and Christian holidays, all of which dominate virtually every fabric of our society. So where's this alleged persecution coming from, other Christians? Jews? Muslims? Atheists? Hare Krishnas? Is O'Reilly suggesting that a Jewish woman with the same credentials as Miers, or lack thereof, would sail through the confirmation hearings and be gleefully embraced by pols on both sides of the aisle? Of course, this contention is about as preposterous as the other daily muck that spews out of O'Reilly's mouth and keyboard.

Rather than attempt to stir up trouble where none exists (America is divided enough right now, thank you), people like O'Reilly need to grasp the fact that Miers is lacking in support because she is lacking in credentials. Plain and simple. We in this country certainly have had zero problem electing and appointing Christians to virtually every major position of power possible. It's ludicrous to even have to defend this reality. Let me remind O'Reilly that John Roberts Jr., quite the practicing Christian, was recently confirmed as the high court's new Chief Justice. So it cannot be Miers' religion now, can it Bill? Perhaps it's her gender? (nope, Ginsburg and O'Connor kill that theory). Or, maybe it's that her name is Harriet? Or that she has bad hair or that she looks like she eats little children? Or maybe, just maybe, it's because she has about as much reason to be named to the world's highest court as my lawyer pal Glenn (GK...that's a compliment to you, good buddy!). Andy

Friday, October 07, 2005

The List of Bush's Lies and Policy Failures

President Bush's campaign mantra in the 2000 election was that he and the Republican Party would "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Five and one half years later, it's utterly mind-boggling the amount of lies, controversies and scandals that have been perpetrated by Bush and his closest aides. It's even more unsettling when we realize the dire straits America is in today at the hands of this incompetent, dangerous administration.

Let's review Bush's impact since 2000 at home and abroad, in no particular order:

1. Lied about WMD.
2. Unilaterally invaded a sovereign nation without provocation and justification.
3. Lied during State of the Union speech re: Niger Uranium.
4. Responsible for pre-9/11 intelligence failures in White House, CIA, FBI.
5. Allowed 9-11 murderers to remain free while diverting precious military and financial resources to his vanity war in Iraq.
6. Lied about Saddam/bin Laden connection.
7. Turned Iraq into a terrorist breeding ground.
8. Lied about nation-building.
9. Opposed creation of 9-11 Commission and Homeland Security Department.
10. Disrespected and alienated the U.S. from French, German and other key allies.
11. Lied to Americans about the real cost of war.
12. Fostered an environment of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
13. Lined Halliburton's pockets in Afghanistan and Iraq with fat no-bid contracts.
14. Under-manned and under-equipped our armed forces in Iraq, resulting in unnecessary death and injuries.
15. Ignored the nuclear build-up in both Iran and N.Korea; marginalized Kim Jong Il.
16. Shunned Kyoto Treaty.
17. Lied about effects of man-made pollutants on the environment to support corporate pals.
18. Lied about the insolvency of Social Security.
19. Gave huge cuts to the wealthiest taxpayers.
20. Lied about true cost of health care bill.
21. Lied about Free Trade stand.
22. Bitterly divided the nation along religious, party and sexual preference lines.
23. Guilty of numerous cronyism appointments (Homeland Security, Supreme Court, etc)
24. Rewarded failures of Condi Rice and other cronies with key promotions.
25. Dreadful energy policies lead to record gas and oil prices.
26. Responsible for the largest debt in U.S. history.
27. Colossal failure of preparedness, rescue and relief during Hurricane Katrina.
28. Fostered a culture of corruption among GOP and top leadership (Tom Delay, etc).
29. Allowed Donald Rumsfeld to keep job despite utter failure in Iraq.
30. Presided over the U.S.'s lowest popularity throughout the world.
31. Saw No Child Left Behind fail.
32. Lied last week about Iraqi troop strength during Saturday radio address. Directly contradicted by testimony given earlier in the week by Gen. Abizaid.

This is just a partial list, mind you. One can only imagine what our country will look like by the time he's done. Somebody please wake me up in 3 years. Andy

Scandal-Scarred Bush Thrusts Terror Back on Front Pages

What a coincidence. Yesterday we learned that Karl Rove's headed back to the grand jury to testify again in the CIA leak investigation, and that as many as 22 indictments could be forthcoming in a matter of days. Delay, Safavian and Abramoff have been indicted; Frist's being probed by the SEC; and Bush's approval ratings have pathetically sunk to 37%. The White House is knee-deep in muck, plagued by controversy, scandal and embarrassment. So as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the weak and immoral talk terrorism. It's right out of the Bush/Rove/Cheney handbook, and it's what they do best. How many times have we experienced the Bush bait and switch game before?

It's no surprise then to find on the front page of today's NY Times two lead stories regarding terrorism; one concerns yesterday's heightened subway alert in NYC and the other has Bush praising himself over the US's 10 thwarted terror plots since 9/11/01. It's also not shocking to see CNN and other news outlets focusing much of their airtime today to terrorism. Americans should be outraged; livid that the fear-mongering Bushies continue to use the threat or terrorism as a ruse to distract and deflect attention away from their colossal policy failures here at home and abroad. It's reprehensible, it's treasonous, and it must stop. Bush, Rove and Cheney are the biggest terrorist threats facing Americans today. Andy

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bush Claims to Follow Founding Fathers But Ignores Writings

President Bush consistently says he's a strict constructionist, guided by the intent of America's Founding Fathers as the basis for his judicial selections, yet his actions prove otherwise. A review of Federalist Paper #76 shows the writings of the Constitution's framers to be in direct conflict with the blatant cronyism Bush is guilty of with the Harriet Miers nomination. It should therefore come as no shock to Bush that most of Congress--both Democrats and Republicans--cannot get behind her.

The Federalist Papers were a series of articles written under the pen name of Publius by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution. He later became our fourth president, serving from 1809-1817. Jay would become the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Hamilton served in the Cabinet and was a major force in setting economic policy. The Federalist Papers were basically created as a PR tool in which to garner popular support for the then-proposed Constitution. The results were hugely successful.

Now consider an excerpt from #76, written by Hamilton, which so fittingly serves as a backdrop to the Miers nomination: ..."To what purpose then require the cooperation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment." Therefore a president "would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure."

My bet is that this president knows more about "My Pet Goat" than he does the Framers' Constitutional intent. Andy