Saturday, December 31, 2005
Here's the scenario: our over-zealous, corrupt president flicks the switch some three-dozen times since 2001, authorizing the National Security Agency to use illegal wiretaps and other surveillance tactics on American citizens to supposedly intercept terrorist chatter and protect the nation from acts of terrorism. And when news of this flagrant violation of Congressional law finds its way to the front pages, as it did Dec. 16 in the NY Times, Bush's ire is raised and a special prosecutor is soon named to investigate the leak. Why? Because as we all know, Bush hates leaks and the leakers who leak them. Except of course when they're card-carrying Busheviks, in which case leaks are just fine. The hypocrisy is mind-blowing.
As reported in the Times Saturday, the Justice Department announced Friday that it had opened a criminal investigation into the leak about Bush's secret eavesdropping scheme. Incredulously, the DOJ finds it more appropriate to legally pursue the whistle-blowers than those who may have committed the original crime.
And further, where is Bush's outrage over his administration's reprehensible leaking of classified information in the form of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity back in 2003? How is it that Karl Rove is still allowed to stink up the halls of the White House given his boss's disdain for leakers?
Like everything else in this administration, it's "do as I say, not as I do." The hypocrisy is not only incredible, it's downright disgusting, especially when it involves breaching the safety of covert agents and the rights and civil liberties of American citizens everywhere.
Friday, December 30, 2005
Something astonishing happened in last month's local government election in the sleepy little upstate New York town of Rhinebeck. Voters, by a solid 15% margin, elected the first Democrat Town Supervisor since 1904. That's 101 years, folks, of Republican rule in this largely blue-collar and lower-middle class community of 2725 whose median household income falls just shy of $30,000.
Steven Block, who'll be paid $14,175 annually to preside over Rhinebeck's political system, may be just a small town legislator, but he symbolizes what could be a sweeping victory for Democrats in next year's Congressional mid-term elections fueled by a hugely frustrated and disenfranchised national electorate.
Democrats swept Rhinebeck's races, with party candidates winning town supervisor, town council and highway superintendent seats. Block had defeated two-term incumbent supervisor Dennis McGuire. After his victory, Block said, "Never before have the Democrats enjoyed this much responsibility" in town government.
And it is precisely these types of small town elections across America that could be a tell-tale sign of major trouble for the Republican party. The GOP has been rocked by scandal and failed policy, and has lost the trust and faith of Americans nationwide. Poll after poll has shown for a year now that voters want change, and want to see the Democrats take control of Congress next year. Combine that with Bush's abysmal approval ratings and you have a political perfect storm on the horizon. A storm that conservative pundit John Podhoretz wisely acknowledged in his column this week, but shot down in true delusional partisan form.
While the pundits may be spinning the party's talking points, Republican leaders, especially those up for re-election, are plenty worried. That's why staunch conservatives like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (TN) have been distancing themselves from the Bushies. It's called survival. The SS Bush is sinking, and Republicans on the hill are hellbent not to go down with it. They know how America feels, are shifting gears in order to stay alive, but it may just be a little too late.
So while Steven Block enjoys his success in Rhinebeck and few attach any national significance to it, this writer's radar is blinking wildly from the foreboding sense of doom facing Republicans next year.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Unbelievable: Bush's Illegal Spying Could Free the Very Terror Suspects It's Jailed and Hopes to Convict
As reported in the NY Times Wednesday, several captured terror suspects with ties to Al Qaeda are planning to challenge their cases and sue the government claiming the Bush administration used illegal wiretapping in criminal prosecutions that resulted in conviction. The challenges are being mounted in Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Oregon, and including cases involving Iyman Faris, who plotted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge.
At issue is the Busheviks' skirting of the courts and Congress in its post-911 power-grab under the guise of protecting America from the terrorist threat. Since 911, Bush, through the National Security Agency, has authorized some three dozen instances of illegal surveillance of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of U.S. and foreign citizens, both abroad and here at home. In order to have pursued his extreme terrorism and espionage spying, Bush was and is required by law to obtain warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was established by Congress in 1978 to uphold and protect civil liberties. But Bush has defiantly thumbed his nose at FISC, declaring that his aggressive spying tactics are "fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities."
"The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time," Bush said. "And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad."
But here's the rub: the very terrorists that sit in U.S. jails right now could be freed if their legal challenges are successful in claiming they've been denied due process and have been victims of illegal wiretapping. Incredulously, the Bushies' flagrant circumvention of the law could result in people like Faris back on the street to plot another NYC catastrophe. All because Bush refused to seek the warrants every legal scholar in America agrees he could've easily, and quickly, obtained.
So what we have is an administration run amok. There have been more requests for FISC warrants under Bush than in the last four presidential administrations before him. And most of them have been either amended or denied. So what do the Bushies do as a result? They say, 'screw you, courts, we'll just do whatever we want without you.'
One has to seriously question the ultimate motivations and intent of Bush, who willfully circumvented the legal process which he knew would not support his imperialistic pursuits. This is a very serious matter if the president intentionally broke the laws designed to protect U.S. citizens from undue search and seizure, invasion of privacy, and illegal government intrusion. We live in a society based on the rule of law; of checks and balances. In their quest to achieve supreme, unlimited power and create the first totalitarian regime in American history, the Busheviks blatantly disregard these sacred governing principles, and in the process, have actually made our nation less safe and secure, not more.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
For weeks, President Bush declared he would not accept a short-term extension of the Patriot Act. Then in a bi-partisan manner last week, prompted by the startling front-page news that Bush repeatedly authorized illegal NSA spying on Americans domestically, the Senate filibustered to prevent the legislation from being renewed. The Senate pushed for an extension, allowing lawmakers time to negotiate stricter civil liberties protections, but the Bushies rejected, and instead went on the PR warpath against Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV), Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA).
But Wednesday Bush backpedaled, as he's had to do so many times lately (Harriet Miers, McCain/torture, war mistakes). He blasted the Democratic leadership, choosing to deceive Americans yet again by ignoring the fact that this was a bi-partisan action.
"I appreciate the Senate for working to keep the existing Patriot Act in law through next July, despite boasts last week by the Democratic leader that he had blocked the Act," Bush said in a statement. "No one should be allowed to block the Patriot Act to score political points, and I am grateful the Senate rejected that approach."
But what's most appalling here is the fact that Bush has politicized this issue more than anyone, as evidenced by the above statement. The filibuster, and now the extension, is not about politics, at least to the Democrats. It's about stripping this president of the unlimited, unchecked power that the Busheviks so crave, and worse, have abused. It's about protecting Americans and foreigners from the political tyranny of this White House, which has co-opted the 9-11 tragedy to further its power/war-mongering self-interests.
Even as the Senate voted to literally save his ass on this issue, Bush hammered home the scare tactics and propaganda: "The senators obstructing the Patriot Act need to understand that the expiration of this vital law will endanger America and will leave us in a weaker position in the fight against brutal killers." The last time Bush peddled this extremist rhetoric we invaded a sovereign nation and killed tens of thousands of people, including 2100+ U.S. soldiers. And the killing continues.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Back in December of 1998, a highly partisan U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Bill Clinton, making him just the second U.S. president in history to be impeached since Andrew Johnson in 1868 following the Civil War. Clinton's offense? Lying under oath about his unimpressive high-school-quality sexual dalliances with intern Monica Lewinsky. Pretty tame stuff, and not quite a threat to anyone or anything except a flimsy red dress and a Rhodes Scholar's dignity.
But what about President George W. Bush? Surely, as compared to Clinton, not only should he face a similar political fate for his war crimes and law violations here at home, but he should be thrown in an 8 x 10 jail cell and be forced to listen to an endless loop of Howard Dean's 2004 campaign speeches.
Bush surely is deserving of impeachment. Here's a partial list of what should be ample ammunition for the House and Senate to serve justice on one of the most corrupt, tyrannical and treasonous presidents in history:
1. Falsifying intelligence and providing false information to Congress to unjustly and illegally invade Iraq, a sovereign nation.
2. Lying about Niger/Iraq uranium connection in 2003 State of the Union speech.
3. Diverting money appropriated by Congress for Afghanistan to planning the Iraq war.
4. Authorizing the use of taxpayer funds to pay for war-propaganda campaign in Iraq.
5. Authorizing of torture and Geneva Convention violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
6. Inhumane, illegal treatment of detainees in the "War on Terror"
7. Leaking a covert CIA agent's identity as retaliation against a political enemy.
8. Illegally spying on Americans within the United States.
9. Illegal use of taxpayer funds to pay for Armstrong Anderson/No Child Left behind propaganda.
Let's hope the Democrats win back the House next November, which would enable them to commence impeachment hearings. Until then, perhaps some Rove-like covert liberal operative should just arrange to have a hooker sent into the Oval Office so we can catch the prez with his proverbial pants down. Maybe that'll motivate this Republican leadership to go after Bush, since the current laundry list of impeachable offenses doesn't seem to be enough for them.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Never one to let the Democrats out-maneuver him, President Bush has decided that he can criticize the Iraq war better than his detractors. And thus we have the brand-new Rovian strategy: eating crow with a humble-pie chaser. For the fifth time in three weeks, Bush went before the cameras to sell his bungled war to the masses. But this time it should be called "The I screwed Up Tour."
Doing a political 180, Bush has finally admitted that the pre-war intelligence was all wrong and that he as president must take responsibility for sending the troops to war. No WMD, no AL Qaeda connections, so no threat to America, right? Guess again. Just when you'd think the president would make that very logical conclusion and admit the war was a mistake, he utters the same infuriating rhetoric we've heard ad nauseum since 2002:
"My decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision," the newly humbled one said this week. "Saddam was a threat and the American people, and the world is better off because he is no longer in power."
How can this be? How could the intelligence--the same intel used to justify the war--be wrong and yet the war still justified? Why offer a mea culpa if you completely negate it's impact by staying on message about this non-existent threat? I'll tell you why. Because Americans, at best temporarily, believe this crap. A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that 48% of the country believes the war was a mistake, as opposed to 54 percent of those polled last month. And, Bush's approval rating is 42 percent, up 4 percent from November.
But like all the other Bush bounces, this one will be short-lived, especially as the violence in Iraq continues to escalate and the fragile Democracy faces severe challenges, as many experts fear.
The Bushies' new strategy is to put some humility into their usually cocky, infallible president. To show that he is able to admit mistakes. Able to admit things are not going as planned. Able to admit the war has killed tens of thousands. But in true Bush fashion, none of this detracts from his rhetoric that the war is still a success and there's progress everywhere.
But what these masterful political operatives arrogantly keep failing to realize is that they'll eventually pay the price of lying and deceiving Americans. They already are. They're currently embroiled in a veritable litany of controversy, scandal and criminal charges. And it's only going to get worse.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Democrats Can Win in '06 on an Anti-Corruption Message. Here's Our top 15 GOP Scandals to Remind Voters
No matter how bad it gets for Republicans; no matter how blatantly corrupt they've become; no matter how miserably they seem to fail at almost every turn, their main rallying cry is that the Democrats are no better because they don't have a solid, unified platform. Well, I think the Democrats have a sure-fire winner in playing the morality card. Let's drill it home to America that the Busheviks are the most unethical, corrupt administration in modern history.
In an effort to win back the House in 2006, let's remind Americans of the Bushies' 2000 campaign promise "to restore honesty and integrity" to Washington, and of all the moral and ethical transgressions and criminal behavior that followed instead. We can relentlessly remind voters of the various scandals that have rocked and socked the GOP, including:
1-The indictment of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay
2-The SEC investigation of Senate Majority Bill Frist
3-The obstruction/perjury/false statements indictment of Cheney Chief Scooter Libby
4-The wire fraud/conspiracy indictment of top GOP lobbyist and crony Jack Abramson
5-The conspiracy indictment of Abramoff partner and DeLay aide Michael Scanlon
6-The bribery indictment of California Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham
7-The criminal indictment of Ohio Gov. Bob Taft
8-The ongoing Federal investigation (and hopefully soon-to-be indictment) of Bush guru Karl Rove in the CIA leak case
9-Bush's disastrous appointment of crony Michael "Brownie" Brown to head FEMA
10-Halliburton's no-bid contracts windfall, and VP Cheney's profiting from it
11-The Armstrong Williams paid propaganda campaign for No Child Left Behind
12-The Pentagon pay-for-positive-Iraq news propaganda scheme
13-The Geneva Convention violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo
14-The willful misuse and manipulation of pre-war intelligence to justify the war
15-Bush's authorization of illegal NSA spying on American citizens
And keep in mind, this is just the short list. Kind of makes Bill Clinton's lapses in Oval Office morality seem quite benign by comparison, no?
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
"We removed Saddam Hussein from power because he was a threat to our security. He had pursued and used weapons of mass destruction. He sponsored terrorists. He ordered his military to shoot at American and British pilots patrolling the "no-fly" zones. He invaded his neighbors. He fought a war against the United States and a broad coalition. He had declared that the United States of America was his enemy."
If you're thinking this is 2003-era Bush arguing his case for war, think again. This was the president on Wednesday in his address from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. As Yogi Berra used to say, "it's Deja Vu all over again."
How can this president stand before the American people with any shred of integrity and self-respect and hold firm on his 2002/03 war justifications, all of which have been proven either unfounded or outdated. The coalition forces (I'm being kind here) found no WMD. There's been not one iota of evidence linking Saddam and Iraq to Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization. He invaded Kuwait 16 years ago. He used chemical weapons against the Kurds in 1988. He was essentially neutered by the U.S. and the U.N. in the 90's and posed no direct credible threat to America's security. Mere facts, you say? Never stopped the Bushies before, and probably never will. The political posse that promised "to restore honesty and integrity to the White House" continues to operate instead as the most deceptive and corrupt in modern history.
But the Bush lies and deception hasn't worked in some time. In fact, Americans are not only wise to the misrepresentations, they're quite fed up. This week's CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that 58% of Americans "said they do not believe President Bush has a plan that will achieve victory in Iraq." And only 42% approve of the president's overall performance. Furthermore, a recent ABC/Washington Post poll found 58% believe the Bushies intentionally misled the American public in order to justify the war. So, all the spinning just makes the Busheviks appear even more underhanded. Let's hope Americans take out their frustration and mistrust next November.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
To most scholars of Western civilization, the re-establishment of an 'Islamic caliphate' would have calamitous consequences, essentially ushering in a return of seventh-century type radical fundamentalist Islamic domination over the Muslim world. The sort of rule associated with the Wahabist movement and sought by such violent regimes as the Afghanistan Taliban and terror organizations such as Al Qaeda. It reigned for over 500 years and spanned the Middle East, spread to Southwest Asia, North Africa and Spain. Needless to say, as a potential political weapon, throwing the term 'caliphate' around is akin to making unfounded threats about WMD and mushroom clouds. Which is exactly what the Bush administration is now doing in its desperate attempts to once again justify its colossal military blunder in Iraq.
As the NY Times reported this week, the caliphate bomb has been dropped repeatedly in speeches by various members of the Bush war cabal including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Eric S. Edelman, the under secretary of defense for policy; Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser; Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top American commander in the Middle East; and VP Dick Cheney. And while Bush himself has not actually used the term caliphate, he's essentially described it last week when declaring that the terrorists are seeking to establish "a totalitarian Islamic empire that reaches from Indonesia to Spain."
Also consider the following hyperbole and deception:
Cheney on Al Qaeda: "They talk about wanting to re-establish what you could refer to as the seventh-century caliphate...governed by Sharia law, the most rigid interpretation of the Koran."
Rumsfeld: "Iraq would serve as the base of a new Islamic caliphate to extend throughout the Middle East, and which would threaten legitimate governments in Europe, Africa and Asia."
Gen. Abizaid: "They will try to re-establish a caliphate throughout the entire Muslim world." He's also told the House Armed Services Committee in September that the caliphate's goals include the destruction of Israel. "Just as we had the opportunity to learn what the Nazis were going to do, from Hitler's world in 'Mein Kampf,' we need to learn what these people intend to do from their own words."
This sort of gloom and doom spinning is both irresponsible and reprehensible, and as usual, is right out of the Rovian playbook. But the Bushies' number-one Weapon of Mass Deception has always been truth-stretching and exaggerated threats. While re-establishing a caliphate is certainly a priority of Islamic radicals, there's virtually no chance of it ever happening, according to scholars and government foreign policy experts. There is a difference, they say, between the attacks that small bands of terrorists commit around the world and achieving large-scale global domination.
"It is certainly correct to say that these people have a global design, but the administration ought to frame it realistically," said John L. Esposito, an Islamic studies professor at Georgetown University and founding director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. "Otherwise they can actually be playing into the hands of the Osama bin Ladens of the world because they raise this to a threat that is exponentially beyond anything that Osama bin Laden can deliver."
And Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland, scoffed at the notion of an Al Qaeda-based worldwide Muslim domination. "There's no chance in the world that they'll succeed. It's a silly threat." He cited a recent Zogby poll of 3,900 people in six Arab countries which found just 6% supported Al Qaeda's goal of creating an Islamic state.
Reality and facts. You can bet neither will preclude the Bushies from further sounding the caliphate alarm.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Sen. Joe "Zell" Lieberman, the delusional Democratic hawk from Connecticut, has confidently walked up to the political roulette wheel and placed all his chips on the ever-fraying coattails of our historically unpopular president. In emphatically supporting the Bushies' dreadful Iraq military policy, he must be thinking this will either curry him favor with this bankrupt administration and/or with hardline voters next November. To the contrary, as the NY Times reported over the weekend, members of his own party are growing increasingly frustrated and angry with Lieberman. The backlash from his home-state constituents could soon follow.
To begin with, let's look at the likelihood of Lieberman amassing any real political capital from the White House as payback for his inexplicable support of what almost everyone else in D.C., as well as a majority of Americans, deems a colossal military failure. As they did with Zell Miller, they'll showcase his self-loathing Democratic tirades in the near-term until they don't need him anymore, or until he implodes, whichever comes first. Case in point: where are Miller's GOP friends today? After a near psychotic meltdown at the Republican convention this Summer, Miller became the butt of late-night TV jokedom, and a political pariah. With his impassioned support of the unpopular war and his risky embracing of the Bushies, Lieberman could soon face a similar fate.
But for now, the love affair is a two-way street. The Bushies have welcomed Lieberman into their dangerous cult with open arms. The president, vp Cheney, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld have publicly praised him in recent speeches.
"He is entirely correct," Cheney said. "On this, both Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree. The only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission."
However, this unyielding public support of the Iraq war coupled with his Bush-like morphing of Al Qaeda, terrorism and the Iraqi insurgency, has aroused the ire of key Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV). He's quickly becoming an outcast in his own party over these radical views.
As for whether or not he's alienating himself from the voters back home in Connecticut, it's probably unwise for any Democrat to think that an endorsement from Bush, Cheney and Rummy, especially when it comes to the war, will score them any points at the polls. Why Lieberman fails to recognize this shows just how out of touch he is with reality.
He's at the Roulette wheel, alright. The Russian kind.
Friday, December 09, 2005
The Bush spin machine was on overdrive this week, spreading more of its oligarchic gospel. Spreading more lies and deception, that is. And the Republican-controlled Congress lent its usual helping hand. Let's recap, in no special order, some of the more notable accomplishments this week in the Kingdom of Corruption and Cronyism:
Iraq: Despite mounting Sunni unrest which resulted in 66 Iraqi deaths and 100+ injuries from suicide bombings; despite mounting tensions and a possible splintering among the Shiites; despite the kidnapping of a Westerner; Defense Secretary Rumsfeld continued to sound the "progress" drum, even blaming the media for focusing too much on the negative news coming out of Iraq. Rummy also denied any senior Pentagon knowledge of the pay-for-news propaganda campaign.
War on Terror: The Bushies received an overall failing report card from the 911 Commission regarding protecting the nation against acts of terror. There were 17 F's and D's.
Pre-War Intelligence: The House GOP did its best to defeat the Democrats' request for White House documents concerning pre-war intelligence on Iraq's WMD. The Committee on International Relations vote ended in a 24-24 tie. For an administration that claims to have done everything by the book, it sure has a hard time allowing a public review of these actions. Democrat Gary Ackerman (NY) referred to "the president that lied" and "the lying administration." He was quickly rebuked by Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL), who read Ackerman's October 2002 remarks before voting to authorize Bush to use force: "We cannot simply hope that U.N. inspections will rout out Saddam Hussein's weapons of terror." Can you believe the arrogance of the Bushies? First they lie to Congress to get its support for the war, and then criticize these same lawmakers three years later for having trusted them on the pre-war intel.
Joe Lieberman: Congratulations to the Bushies for brainwashing the new Zell Miller, who's been sounding more pro-war than anyone in the White House these days.
Donald Rumsfeld: Asserted that he has no plans to take an early retirement. And why should he? He has the full support of the president, and besides, the war's going so well.
Torture: Despite loads of evidence to the contrary, including serious, multiple human rights violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, Secretary of State Rice declared "the United States does not permit, tolerate or condone torture under any circumstances." There. She said it, so it must be true.
Howard Dean: Vilified once again by the Bushies and the GOP for having the nerve to say we can't win the war in Iraq, even though everything leading up to this point, and history (can you say "Vietnam?"), are proving him more prescient than not. They can say what they want about Dean, but the simple fact is, unlike the Bushies, when it comes to the war he obviously knows what he's talking about.
USA Patriot Act: The Bushies saw House and Senate negotiators reach a "compromise" on an extension of its signature anti-terrorism law, but even Republicans like Sen. Arlen Specter (PA) say it falls way short of safeguarding civil liberties. A bi-partisan group of six Senators also denounced the compromise and said they were "gravely disappointed." Oh, and by the way, the deal drew lots of praise from Mr. Torture himself, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, who said the "comprehensive" bill should be passed quickly. What a surprise.
Air Marshals' Shooting: Two Miami marshals unloaded six bullets into American citizen and suspected bomber Rigoberto Alpizar as he ran off a plane into the jetway. No gun. No knife. No bomb. A little bit of an overreaction, perhaps? Hey, ya know what they say about the Patriot Act..."if you don't use it, ya lose it."
The Economy: Listening to Bush, one would believe the robust growth and prosperity of the 1990's is here once again, despite record gas and oil prices; record trade and budget deficits; rising interest rates; rising inflation; rising health-care costs; stagnant wages; weak job growth; declining consumer confidence; declining retail sales; and airline, steel and manufacturing bankruptcies. "The best days are yet to come for the American economy," Bush said. On that we couldn't agree more. But how long will we have to wait, and how much more fiscal damage will the Bushies do before then?
Tax Cuts: Thumbing its nose at future increases in the already historically high deficit, House Republicans decided that the nation's wealthiest Americans need another $95 billion in tax cuts even if at the expense of programs that help the poor: student loans, food stamps, child support, etc. Nothing like a little fiscal irresponsibility, I say. And Bush has expressed an intention to veto any bill that includes a provision to levy a $5 billion windfall profit tax on major oil companies, as well as one that calls for a penalty on tax-shelter abusers. Nothing like taking care of your own, I guess.
Dick Cheney's Defense of Tom DeLay: Despite embattled former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (TX) being one of the most crooked, unethical pol's to hit Washington in decades, VP Cheney managed to find his way to a Houston fundraiser and serve as the keynote in support of the little thief. Nothing like sticking to your guns on "restoring honor and integrity to the White House."
Post-Katrina Clean-up: As the NY Times' Paul Krugman wrote Friday, Bush has been woefully delinquent in living up to his post-hurricane promise to make the Gulf clean-up "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen." This guy makes Pinochio seem downright honest.
Lastly, I thought it fitting to end on yet another little piece of Republican hypocrisy: the outing of former Spokane, WA Mayor Jim West--one of the state's most conservative, anti-gay Republicans--for using his city computer to troll chat rooms in search of high-school-aged males to have sex with. The disgraced mayor was ousted this week in a rare recall election. Our naughty little internet surfer has a history of aggressive opposition to gay rights. When will these glass-house dwelling Republicans learn to stop throwing stones?
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Coming off his Monday night fundraiser with VP Dick Cheney, and just a day after a Texas judge upheld two of the three charges against him, embattled former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's poll numbers have dropped to their lowest levels yet.
In a brand new poll of DeLay's District 22 constituents, USA Today/Gallup asked voters: In the 2006 midterm election, are you more likely to vote to re-elect DeLay or vote for the Democratic Party's candidate for Congress?
Tom DeLay -- 36%
The Democrat -- 49%
It is worthy to note that DeLay was re-elected to Congress last year by a 55%-41% margin.
As for DeLay's new approval numbers:
Favorable -- 37%
Unfavorable -- 52%
Voters were also asked about the DeLay indictments, and whether they believe the charges are true:
Definitely or Probably True -- 55%
Definitely or Probably False -- 34%
Needless to say, DeLay continues to be in big trouble, facing mounting pressure and challenges from the House Ethics Committee and the judicial system. And now in his hometown, voters are increasingly voicing their disapproval of him as well. He is extremely vulnerable, giving Democratic challenger Nick Lampson a real opportunity to pull out a victory next year.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay has refused to state that he'll return over $30,000 in campaign contributions from several of Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-CA) co-conspirators. Cunningham, who resigned on Monday after admitting guilt in a $2.4 million conspiracy and tax evasion scandal involving defense contractors who lined his pockets in return for special treatment in D.C, named four co-conspirators, a few of whom have been large DeLay donors.
Speaking on behalf of DeLay, Jim Ellis, the indicted head of DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC (ARMPAC), when asked by The Hill newspaper, refused to say that DeLay would return the dirty money.
DeLay's Democratic challenger in his Texas District 22, Nick Lampson, said "It seems like every week someone connected to Tom DeLay is indicted or pleads guilty to corruption or bribery. Southeast Texans are getting tired of the same old tune from Tom DeLay and his cronies. We need someone who can spend their time making decisions on how this country can work to cut our record deficits and trade gap and keep our borders secure rather than spending time deciding whether or not to return funds from criminals and cronies."
DeLay himself has recently been indicted on conspiracy and for illegal campaign finance schemes. He has a 51% disapproval rating, and 42% of Texas voters think he should resign from Congress.
"It's just amazing," said Lampson. "You have the indicted head of Tom DeLay's PAC refusing on behalf of indicted Tom DeLay to return tens of thousands of dollars in tainted money from people named as co-conspirators in a bribery plea agreement. You couldn't make this stuff up if you wanted to. It sends a terrible message to Southeast Texans and shows once again that whoever Tom Delay is working for, it isn't them."
Others lawmakers facing similar scrutiny for funds donated by scandal-plagued lawmakers and lobbyists have given back money. These include Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo), who returned contributions received from indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff; and Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH), Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo), Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), all of whom returned money given by DeLay after he was indicted in September.
The Pentagon has just reported that a massive roadside booby-trap explosion yesterday outside Fallujah has killed 10 U.S Marines and wounded 11. The death count continues to climb, the insurgency appears to be consistently gaining strength, and the Bush administration continues to falsely cite tremendous progress. Any more progress like this and we soon won't have a military.
It's time Congress and the American people demand that Bush issue an honest and realistic assessment of the war and a timetable for a troop withdrawal. As Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) continues to stress, the war is a losing proposition and keeping our troops there to face death is the most dishonorable thing we can do.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Just when you thought the Bush administration couldn't possibly appear any more corrupt, another scandal surfaces that further demonstrates the unethical and possibly criminal lengths this unsavory bunch will go to to promote and protect its selfish interests. The latest controversy involves the Pentagon's $100 million classified contract awarded to Washington, D.C. public relations firm The Lincoln Group to write pro-war propaganda articles, translate them into Arabic and have them published in Iraqi newspapers, appearing to be written by legitimate reporters of the mainstream Iraqi press.
Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball Thursday, correspondent Ron Reagan Jr., a truly solid citizen, called this campaign of deception "a disaster," saying it undermines the entire mission in Iraq at this point to create a legitimate Democracy and a free and independent press. "We're supposed to be setting an example for these people. They've lived under a dictator for years who tortured people; for whom the news was whatever he said it was. These people are looking to us for something better, and what do we give them? We give them Abu Ghraib and this kind of nonsense."
Late Thursday Sen. John Warner (R-VA), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said an inquiry will begin Friday into the Pentagon's campaign to covertly plant stories and pay reporters for the bogus news. Warner issued a statement that said "A free and independent press is critical to the functioning of a Democracy." Exactly. Up to now we have the president, who's sent 160,000 troops into battle under the new justification of spreading Democracy (2100 of them to die), secretly undercutting his own mission by manufacturing and buying his own press coverage, and in the process severely undermining the goal of creating a legitimate, credible mainstream press in Iraq.
In his speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, Bush said: "We will help the Iraqi people lay the foundations of a strong Democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself." Apparently, Bush's idea of a strong Democracy is one where its citizens have little trust in the garbage they read in the so-called free press because its crammed with American propaganda.
What this administration is doing here is reprehensible, and adversarial to what we say we're doing in Iraq. And as Reagan Jr. pointed out, it's further inciting the insurgents, which ultimately places our troops in greater danger. "If you were part of the insurgency right now you couldn't have asked for a better story to undercut what the president was saying Wednesday, and you couldn't have asked for a better story to say to your constituency, 'I told you so.'
Additionally, editors of Iraqi newspapers that have published the Pentagon propaganda have been receiving death threats for appearing to be too close to, and controlled by, America. This will also hamper Iraq's ability to build a free and independent press. If editors are not safe, or if they cannot be trusted, and if the Iraqi people have little faith in the integrity and independence of its media, there's little hope for a legitimate press thriving in that country.
So far, senior Pentagon officials are saying little and denying involvement in the propaganda scandal. But it's hard to imagine that a $100 million classified contract's been doled out and the higher-ups don't know about it. Further, anything war-related that's released to the media must first be cleared by the Pentagon's Office of Public Affairs. This is not the sort of project that could've squeaked by unnoticed at the top.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday attributed the positive news to Iraq's burgeoning legitimate press, citing its 100+ newspapers, 72 radio stations and 44 television stations. "The country has a free media; it's a relief valve. They're debating things and talking and arguing and discussing." Sure. And Armstrong Williams was simply speaking his own mind too. Liars, liars, liars! Man, will it ever stop?
Regarding the alleged progress we're making in Iraq, the most salient point comes again from Reagan Jr.: "If there's so much good news coming out of Iraq, why do we have to pay Iraqi journalists to report it? They should be doing it on their own. Maybe there just isn't a lot of good news over there to report."
As for the Bush culture of corruption and cronyism, the head of The Lincoln Group, 30-year-old Christian Bailey, is a former hedgefund operator who's previously run four companies and is a director and NYC co-chair of Lead 21, an organization of young, affluent Republicans. Apparently his GOP connections helped bag him a nice fat $100 million contract.
The stench of corruption emanating from the White House is enough to make you sick.