Friday, March 31, 2006
The Republican National Committee released a new video Friday in an effort to combat the negative press surrounding Sen. Russ Feingold's call for censure of President Bush, a measure whose Senate debate began today. The slick piece, a Karl Rove Joint produced in association with GOP Propaganda Films, is titled "Censure? Impeachment? Is this the Democrats' Plan?" It opens with images of presumably Arab terrorists shooting at nothing in particular and blowing up an unidentifiable object. The cheesy footage resembles a high-tech video game.
Bush has been on the hotseat over his authorization of illegal, warrantless wiretappings by the National Security Agency in the days following 9/11 and continuing to the present. The video is part of an email promotion sent out by RNC chair Ken Mehlman, which directs the recipient to the RNC's website.
"On September 11, Terrorists Declared War on Our Country," the video continues. "Today, the Terrorists Still Fight That War." Ok Ken, we kind of expected this sort of rhetoric from you. You've become so predictable we can almost recite your drivel before you do. Mehlman next gives us some good old fashioned patriotic (I almost wrote idiotic) footage of our fearless leader reaffirming his post-9/11 promise to protect America from this new enemy. "This nation will not wait to be attacked again" (yawn). We then see clips of Feingold, Al Gore and Sens. Harry Reid (NV) and Dick Durbin (IL) all basically saying they'd censure and/or impeach the hell out of Bush for his criminal behavior if given the chance. The video closes with "The President is Taking the Necessary Steps to Keep America Safe. Who Do You Stand With?" (another yawn). And throughout the video on the right side of the screen the RNC urges viewers to "Sign The Petition and Tell Democrats to Stop Weakening Our National Security."
Shame on you Mehlman. This sort of incendiary rhetoric is both irresponsible and reprehensible. Is it really necessary for Bush to break the FISA laws in order to defend America? Is the threat we face so grave and so immediate that Bush must circumvent the FISA court and Congress in order to monitor terrorist activity? Is the special FISA court, which can approve urgent warrant requests within an hour, not responsive enough for the Busheviks? And because Democrats don't condone law-breaking by Bush, that means they're weakening national security? This video is a stretch even for you, Kenny-boy.
The bottom-line? Bush broke the law, plain and simple. And Feingold's censure measure deserves passage. The current Republican-controlled Congress needs to know that history will be the ultimate judge of whether it best served America's interests or merely served to protect, aid and abet a criminal president.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
When you've lost Bob Novak, can it get any worse? The cranky conservative pundit lately has been about as critical of President Bush as those on the left. In his syndicated column Thursday, Novak said the replacement of White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card with "professional bureaucrat" Josh Bolten surprises no one, accomplished little, reaffirms Karl Rove's supremacy in the White House, and disappoints those in the party who desperately want a Reagan-esque cabinet-cleaning to combat Bush's abysmal approval rating. Back in 1987 facing 40% approval following the Iran-Contra scandal, President Ronald Reagan ultimately silenced his critics by firing many in his cabinet and bringing in fresh blood from Howard Baker as his new Chief of Staff, Kenneth Duberstein as Deputy Chief of Staff, Frank Carlucci as Defense Secretary and Colin Powell as National Security Affairs assistant.
According to Novak, Bush has blown a huge opportunity to pull off such a strategic coup, instead further igniting the ire of his GOP detractors and perpetuating the popular belief that he is incapable of doing or saying anything that could be taken as an admission of mistake and/or failure.
The move to Bolten reinforces Rove's dominance within the Bushevik Monarchy. Since the mid 90's, Novak said, Rove's been on a mission to rid the administration of those who had ties to Bush Sr (Card served in Bush 41's cabinet as Deputy Chief of Staff as well as Assistant to the President). Bolten is a Rove man, hired by "Bush's Brain" in 2000 out of Goldman Sachs to head the Bush/Cheney team in Austin, Tx.
Now a real shakeup would include Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Condi Rice, all of whom, along with the King himself, have committed more egregious misdeeds than any others in modern history, and should be kicked to the curb. Don't hold your breath.
Nancy Skinner is one cool cat. I had the pleasure of interviewing her on my TV show last night here in New York. Nancy's running for Congress in Michigan's 9th District. She's a tough, savvy and charming progressive Democrat who is precisely the type of candidate the party needs right now. She's looking to unseat Republican incumbent Joe Knollenberg in this 50/50 swing district.
So just who is Nancy Skinner? She's against the war and big deficits; is against Bush's failed prescription drug bill; seeks affordable healthcare; is pro-environment and energy efficiency; strong on national security; and will fight to protect the rights of women, minorities and seniors. She currently hosts a morning radio talk show on Detroit's 1310 AM. She's a frequent commentator on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, and has successfully duked it out with rabid right-wingers Sean Hannity, Neal Cavuto, Bill O'Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Joe Scarborough and Curtis Sliwa (you can watch clips on her web site). She's received the crucial endorsement of the United Auto Workers Union and a variety of state and local politicians, and has the support of the state's Democratic Party. She's told me more endorsements are forthcoming.
The seven-term Knollenberg is "arguably the state's most powerful Republican" in Congress, according to the Detroit News. He serves on the House Appropriations Committee, which controls the government's purse-strings. He's a big-spending Republican who voted for the Bush tax cuts for the rich, has voted for the Iraq war and has perpetuated the fear-mongering Saddam/9-11 connection rhetoric of the Busheviks. He's voted yes on restricting bankruptcy rules; voted yes on making the Patriot Act permanent; voted no on allowing human embryonic stem cell research; voted yes on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions; voted yes on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother's life; voted yes on funding for health providers who don't provide abortion info; voted yes on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad; and has a 0% rating by NARAL for his pro-life voting record. He also has an "A" rating by the NRA for his pro-gun rights voting record.
And as if that wasn't enough to make you want to send Nancy money, Knollenberg's voted with Bush 98% of the time and with indicted former House Leader Tom DeLay (TX) 96%. He's received $12,000 from DeLay's ARMPAC, and he's given $7K to DeLay's legal defense fund. Ok, convinced yet that you could/should spare some dough to help Nancy send Knollenberg packing?
This Friday, March 31, is the critical end to the first-quarter fundraising period, and Nancy needs to hit her goals to keep the DCCC and Emily's LIST behind her and to get matching funds. You can do your share to help Nancy and to help Democrats take back the House by visiting her web site and making a contribution.
Fed up with George Bush's Republican cabal and the whole GOP culture of cronyism and corruption? Want to send the DeLays and the Santorums and the Knollenbergs back home? Then take action. Go to www.SkinnerForCongress.com and help Nancy raise the money she needs to continue the fight. It's easy; just a couple of clicks of the mouse and you can help Nancy reach her fundraising goals.
"When Joe Knollenberg first ran he advocated term limits. Fourteen years later he is still in office. He wrote the biggest pork bill in history. It's time for change," said Skinner. As chair of the House Transportation Appropriations Sub-Committee, Knollenberg presided over the massive $286 billion Transportation bill passed last year, which included that now infamous $233 million "Bridge to Nowhere" pork-barrel project which was eventually removed from the budget.
When President Bush said that the new democracy he's creating in Iraq may not resemble the one we have here in the United States, he wasn't kidding. In fact, in Bush's convoluted world of political delusion, he serves not only as the high exalted King of America, but the supreme mullah of Iraq as well. How else do you explain his brazen demand of the Shiite leadership that they remove their interim Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jafaari, because he "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" the recently nominated candidate. The story was reported Wednesday in the NY Times.
The "personal message from President Bush" was delivered to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Shiite political bloc, by the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. The Shiite bloc had won a plurality in Iraq's parliamentary election last December. It nominated Mr. Jafaari in February to remain prime minister for four more years.
Now here's the real rub: Bush's 3-year-old debacle in Iraq has cost $350 billion, the lives of 2300 U.S. soldiers, the lives of 30,000 Iraqi citizens, and has seen 20,000+ soldiers seriously wounded and/or maimed in order to create a "democracy" where Bush, in heretofore unseen levels of arrogance, thinks he can dictate who leads the country. A different kind of democracy indeed.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Ladies and gentlemen, moms and dads, hurry, wake the kids. We have some startling news. It appears the U.S. government got hosed by Halliburton! Now who on earth could've imagined that, huh?
According to a story in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon issued a rare warning to Halliburton, Dick Cheney's alma mater, to shape up or ship out. News of this comes from a report issued to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) which seriously questioned the company's "Restore Iraq Oil 2" contract which was awarded in January 2004 to rebuild the country's southern oil fields. Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root billed and received $365 million, 12% of which was part of an investigation into questionable practices such as "intentional overcharging, exorbitant costs, poor cost reporting, slipping schedules, and a refusal to cooperate with the government," according to The Journal.
Pentagon officials on August 28, 2004 sent a "letter of concern" to Halliburton, essentially accusing it of padding cost and improperly tracking expenses. By year's end an independent contractor hired by the Pentagon to evaluate the project concluded that Halliburton had "misled" and "distorted" its reporting. By January 2005, Halliburton was issued a rare ultimatum, a "cure notice," to remedy the abuses or the contract would be terminated. The U.S. lifted the warning five months later, but due to Halliburton's misdeeds, cut the company's overall compensation and bonuses short by about 20%.
Waxman cites the Halliburton scandal as illustrative of the Busheviks' failure to successfully rebuild Iraq.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
If Pennsylvania state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. has his way, Republican Sen. Rick Santorum will be searching the help-wanted ads come November. The Democratic challenger to the controversial #3 man in the Senate just received some critical support, picking up the coveted endorsement of the Democratic State Committee over the weekend.
Casey also received the backing of nine female Democratic U.S. Senators who sent a letter to invited guests to a "Women for Casey" fundraiser Monday night in Philadelphia hosted by former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. The event raised $100,000 for his campaign. Though Casey is a bit controversial because of his pro-life stand, the female Senators, who include Hillary Clinton (NY), Barbara Boxer (CA), Mary Landrieu (LA), Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Diane Feinstein (CA), described themselves as "pragmatic" and "progressive," and urged attendees to throw their "full support" to Santorum's challenger. They also cited Casey's commitment to "children, the elderly and everyday Americans who don't have a voice."
Casey's been aggressively attacking Santorum these past several weeks as the election draws closer and the field narrows. He said Santorum is out of touch with constituents and represents the failed GOP agenda.
"Rick Santorum is not just a participant. He's a leader of the band," Casey said over the weekend.
Casey needed two-thirds majority to receive the Committee's endorsement over his Democratic rivals, Alan Sandals, a Philadelphia pension lawyer, and Chuck Pennacchio, a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The vote was just a handful shy of being unanimous.
Monday, March 27, 2006
The New York Times Monday reported in a front-page story a British memo from January 31, 2003 that's surfaced showing that President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair made the fateful decision to invade Iraq well before weapons inspections were completed and before the U.S. had presented its case to the United Nations Security Council. In short, Saddam's goose was cooked before he ever had a chance.
So says British author Philippe Sands, who reports this memo and other explosive pre-war revelations in his book "Lawless World". Back in 2002/03, Saddam was warned to lay out his weapons for inspection or face invasion. 2300 dead soldiers later, the tragic irony is that no weapons existed, and war thus became inevitable.
Appearing Monday on MSNBC's HardBall, Sands told host Chris Matthews that the decision to go to war was made "irrespective of whether or not weapons were found," and that Bush and Blair had "no real evidence and very limited material." Sands said that in the absence of such evidence, Bush and Blair sought means to provoke Saddam into a confrontation, even planning to use a U.S. surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire.
Sands told Matthews he believes that the plan to attack Iraq was first hatched right after 911 and gained momentum in the ensuing months. "I think by March 2002 a decision had been taken probably, I think, to show that the U.S. was tough on terrorism, tough on the causes of terrorism, and the easiest target was Iraq. As it turned out, it was the wrong target."
When asked by Matthews about Bush's recent denials of ever linking Saddam to the events of 911, Sands replied: "This is a president who seems to have a rather selective memory and a rather selective relationship with issues of competence. One of the most striking things I discovered in the memorandum was that when asked by the British Prime Minister what his plans were for once the real war was over, the U.S. president, Mr. Bush, replied that he didn't think there was going to be any internecine strife. There wasn't going to be any sort of insurgency. So what we're having here...is a re-writing of history. And when all of the material emerges, it will not show either the U.S. president or the British prime minister in a very good light."
Sands went on to discuss yet another memo, one even more revealing and significant than the January '03 memo, and which did not appear in the Times coverage of the story. The second memo, according the Sands, "recalls a conversation between then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and his counterpart in the United Kingdom, Jack Straw, which makes it clear that in Colin Powell's eyes, if there wasn't enough evidence for a 2nd Security Council resolution, then there wasn't enough evidence to justify the U.S. going it alone. So Colin Powell was spot-on, but it seems he was overridden by a president and others in the administration who were absolutely committed to taking the Unites States to war, tragically in erroneous circumstances, and irrespective of that the inspectors found."
Sands also refutes claims by the Bushies that they had little reason to expect anything but a welcoming as liberators by a thankful population of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds: "We know that they had received clear advice from people who know the region in the State Department, from people who know the region in the Foreign Office in London, that precisely what has happened was going to happen. I can direct you to reams of documents in the public domain of people saying, 'this is where it's going to go wrong.' So it's not that the president hadn't been advised. He had been told and chose to override that advice."
The real tragedy Sands said, is that with respect to the real and dangerous threat to the U.S. and U.K from Iran, the public of both countries have had their trust broken, and have lost faith in their leadership. Unfortunately this has occurred when the threat is very real.
"I said I looked into his eyes and saw his soul. We had just come from a very long conversation when we talked about family matters and we talked about our own lives. I found in Vladimir a very genuine person, somebody with whom I could place my trust."
That was President Bush back in February of 2003 speaking about Russian President Vladimir Putin as the two held a joint press conference marking the 300th anniversary of the founding of St Petersburg.
Jump ahead four years, as news came out this past week that the Russians gave top-secret intel to Saddam and Iraq as the United States carried out its invasion, according to a Pentagon report. The unclassified 210-page report by the U.S. military's Joint Forces Command cites an April 2, 2003 document Saddam received from his minister of foreign affairs stating that then-Russian ambassador to Baghdad, Vladimir Titorenko, had provided the Iraqis with strategic intelligence on U.S. troop movements and bombing targets. The intelligence provided by the ambassador, the report stated, pinpointed U.S. troop locations at or near cities such as Baghdad and Kerbala, the site of the heaviest troop concentration.
So while our ever-increasingly-inept Commander-in-Chief was man-bonding with his new soulmate Vlad, this "genuine, trustworthy" ally was providing secrets to the enemy which surely resulted in the death of U.S. soldiers.
On that day back in 2003, when he looked into his pal's eyes, what he saw was the soul of a liar. Sadly, Bush is so disconnected to reality he wouldn't recognize integrity if it walked up and smacked him in the face.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
The Bush administration's rationale for invading Iraq has changed more times in the past four years than most thinking people can stomach. It's been everything from WMD to Al Qaeda connections, humanitarian reasons, mass graves and nation-building. On NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice added yet another justification. One can only imagine just how many there'll be by the time Bush leaves office.
"We're in Iraq because the Unites States of America faces a different kind of enemy in a different kind of war," she told host Tim Russert, "and we have to have a different kind of Middle East if we're ever going to resolve the problems of an ideology of hatred so great that people flew airplanes into buildings. Iraq, Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a threat..."
With that she was interrupted by Russert with the obvious follow-up, one that's been asked of this administration countless times: "But Saddam was not related to flying airplanes into building..."
"No, and we have never said," Rice began to say (obviously about to lie about the bazillion times she Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have made that very connection)..."Saddam was not related to the events of September 11, but if you really believe that the only thing that happened on September 11 is people flew airplanes into buildings, I think you have a very narrow view of what we faced on September 11. We faced the outcome of an ideology of hatred throughout the Middle East that has to be dealt with. Saddam Hussein was a part of that old Middle East. The new Iraq will be a part of a new Middle East, and we will all be safer."
Well there you have it. Radicals in the Middle East attacked America on September 11. Radicals in the Middle East hate America. Iraq is in the Middle East. Saddam hated America. Therefore, Saddam was indirectly related to September 11 and was a threat that needed to be taken out.
Now we're in Iraq over hatred. Give these bastards credit. They're getting more and more creative.
Friday, March 24, 2006
The new GOP talking point being regurgitated ad nauseum is that the Iraq war is a smash success, chock full of progress, but that the biased American media is hellbent on only reporting the negative: death, civil war, suicide bombs and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), or, booby traps. Whether it's the president himself, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace or the right-wing talking-heads like Limbaugh, Hannity and Ingraham, it's blame, blame, blame the media. It's like everything else they do: bait, switch, lie and deceive. Oh, the progress is really there, they say. The success is obvious, they say. You can't actually see it though, they say, because the media hides it. It's like Richard Pryor's famous bit when caught cheating by his wife: "Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin' eyes?"
Consider some of the statements this past week:
Bush: "This is quiet, steady progress. It doesn't always make the headlines in the evening news. But it is real and it is important. And it is unmistakable to those who see it close-up."
Pace: (on NBC's "Meet the Press"): "I don't think we're getting the goodness out to the American people the way we should....The amount of coverage from the war zone is much less than it used to be... People don't get a chance to see or hear about all the good things that are happening."
Rumsfeld: (at Pentagon press briefing): "From what I've seen thus far, much of the reporting in the U.S. and abroad has exaggerated the situation."
Ingraham: (to NBC's David Gregory on "The Today Show"): "David, to do a show from Iraq means to talk to the Iraqi military, to go out with the Iraqi military, to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off."
As the latest polls show, voters are fed up with this irresponsible rhetoric and buck-passing. The accountability lies with this administration and no one else. The Busheviks and the American public need to remember a few important facts: the media did not manipulate WMD intelligence to justify the invasion. The media did not bypass the U.N. in a rush to war. The media did not attack a sovereign nation. The media did not grossly 'misunderestimate' the insurgency. The media did not promise us a short, inexpensive war. The media did not say we'd be greeted as liberators. The media did not promise that elections there would go smoothly and create a viable democracy. The media did not push Iraq into civil war. The media did not kill 2300 U.S. soldiers. No, Mr. President, the media is not why we're in Iraq, and it's not the media who needs to fix the problem. This is your mess. Your fiasco. Your quagmire. And if you don't like how it's being portrayed in the media, then you should've thought of that before you recklessly sent our soldiers to die in the streets of Iraq.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
"The word is out. Their position is clear. Last week, Sen. Russ Feingold floated a reckless plan to censure the President, and some Democrat leaders have ecstatically jumped on Feingold's bandwagon. And, if they gain even more power in November, they won't stop there." There you have it. RNC head Ken Melhman's aggressive campaign to use censure and impeachment to drive voters to the polls is in full swing. Mehlman sent an email to constituents Thursday morning in an effort to scare the bajesus out of them and to solicit money to fight the big bad Democratic beast.
"The Democrats' plan for 2006? Take the House and Senate, and impeach the President. With our nation at war, is this the kind of Congress you want? If your answer is a resounding "NO", I need you to make an urgent contribution to help us win this fight," Mehlman wrote.
Make no mistake. The censure/impeachment issue is going to be this year's gay marriage hot-button, and Mehlman & Co. will use it as contentiously and divisively as possible. It's going to get ugly. For the GOP and for Bush, it's about survival. And the Repuglicans have shown us time and again that they will use whatever means necessary, no matter how dirty, to attain and retain power.
Case in point, just take a look at the irresponsible rhetoric in Mehlman's email: "Democrat leaders' talk of censure and impeachment isn't about the law or the President doing anything wrong. It's about the fact that Democrat leaders don't want America to fight the War on Terror with every tool in our arsenal. Your immediate action will send these reckless Democrats a message and help preserve our Republican majorities."
This incendiary pack of lies is exactly the kind of swift-boating venom of which these criminals are capable. They'll continue to shamelessly distort the truth and, as demonstrated, even use 9-11 to connect the impeachment dots. Mehlman and his cronies, as well as his boss Bush, know very well that impeachment is indeed based on the law, and Bush's criminal behavior. It has nothing whatsoever to do with 9-11 and fighting the war on terror. It's another example of the Bushies' despicable exploitation of that horrific day in 2001 to satisfy their own selfish ends.
"The world is watching," writes Mehlman in his closing statement. "Using every tool at our disposal to fight terrorists should not be a partisan issue. Democrats should to be focused on winning the War on Terror, not undermining it with political axe-grinding of the ugliest kind." Well, look who just made the war on terror a "partisan" issue. Mehlman should be ashamed of himself.
But that's just the point. The Repugs have no shame. As I've written before, Democrats better get with the program and mobilize their own get-out-the-vote campaign based heavily on the impeachment issue or they'll be left in the political dust yet again. The Repug's are opening their playbook and showing their strategy. We can only hope that the Democrats are watching.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
President Bush seems to be touring more than The Stones these days as he desperately attempts to build support for his quagmire in Iraq. The man who hates public-speaking has suddenly become the man who hasn't met a microphone he doesn't like. The true propagandist that he is, Bush believes that if you say something enough times--that the Iraq war is a success--then it becomes the truth. Unfortunately for the president, this strategy isn't working. His approval ratings and his "handling of the war" numbers have plummeted to all-time lows. The American people see this war as the colossal failure that it is. And the public's vote of no-confidence only shows what the real truth is: that Bush is a colossal failure himself. No amount of spinning is going to change the harsh realities of this unjust war.
Whether he's speaking to political groups in Cleveland, to military families in Virginia, or to the White House press corps (where he was skewered Tuesday by the legendary Helen Thomas), Bush has been doggedly painting a picture of rosy progress and success in Iraq despite what the facts clearly demonstrate. The man is delusional, and is a monumental embarrassment.
Let's take a look at all this "success:"
1. Bush invaded Iraq because of WMD: FAILURE
2. No evidence of connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda: FAILURE
3. Bush based intelligence on Achmed Chalabi's claims: FAILURE
4. Bush sent in too few troops: FAILURE
5. Bush ignored advice of Gen. Shinseki and other experts: FAILURE
6. Bush grossly underestimated the insurgency: FAILURE
7. Bush believed we'd be greeted as "liberators:" FAILURE
8. Operation "Shock and Awe:" FAILURE
9. "Mission Accomplished:" FAILURE
10. Pre-war cost estimated at $50-$60 Billion: FAILURE
11. Bush sent under-equipped soldiers into battle: FAILURE
12. The insurgency would die with Saddam' sons Uday & Qusay: FAILURE
13. Handing over of sovereignty would change things: FAILURE
14. The elections would produce a functioning Democracy: FAILURE
15. Winning Fallujah battle would be a critical milestone: FAILURE
16. "Insurgency's in it last throes"(Cheney 6/05): FAILURE
17. IRAQ's become the new headquarters of terrorism: FAILURE
18. Iraq quagmire has destabilized the entire Middle East: FAILURE
19. 23,000 dead, 30,000+ injured/maimed, $250 Billion spent: FAILURE
20. IRAQ's been a major distraction from the war on terror: FAILURE
21. Reconstruction effort: FAILURE
22. Iraq breaks out into Civil War: FAILURE
23. More Iraqi deaths than ever before: FAILURE
24. Bush now admits troops will be there long after 2008: FAILURE
That anyone, especially the president, would call this war a success is highly offensive, amoral and utterly infuriating.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Repugs Plan to Use Impeachment/Censure as Rallying Cry for '06 Mid-Terms. Democrats Better Get With the Program and Do the Same
The mid-term elections are but a short eight months away, and the Democrats desperately need to figure out who they are, what they represent, and articulate this message in a way that resonates with voters. To that end, four weeks ago I wrote Impeachment Could Be the Democrats' Best Get-Out-The-Vote Message. Last Thursday the NY Times ran a front-page story on the Repuglicans' plan to use Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) call for a censure of the president, as well as Democrats' possible threat of impeachment, to drive their base to the polls next November. It's 'gay marriage' all over again, and it's a strategy straight out of the Rovian playbook. Essentially, their message will be, "Going to let liberals take back the House? If so, just wait and see what they do to our beloved Bush."
"Impeachment, coming your way if there are changes in who controls the House eight months from now," wrote Paul Weyrich, a veteran conservative organizer, in a newsletter last month. He suggested that the threat of impeachment was critical in getting the GOP's demoralized base to go out and vote. With "impeachment on the horizon," he wrote, "maybe, just maybe, conservatives would not stay at home after all."
As expected, the Repuglicans' loyal legion of media spinners and talking-heads have hopped on the bandwagon. "This is such a gift," said radio host Rush Limbaugh, claiming that the Democrats are making the precise political miscalculations he's predicted, and that they have little else to run on except "this impeachment thing." But he is right about one thing: this is a gift. For the Democrats. But in order to be a viable tool, impeachment must evolve out of the grass roots and blogosphere and into the offices of prominent national candidates and the party's leadership.
What President Bush has done is give operatives like DNC head Howard Dean and DCCC head Rahm Emanuel a golden opportunity to rally the liberal troops and even appeal to independents and moderate Republicans: he broke the law. If the Dem's fail to mobilize around this central theme, they'll be blowing one of the best political opportunites in decades.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
In his Saturday column, Al the Only Worry for Hill,, conservative pundit Robert Novak cites Democratic insiders who say Al Gore is likely to make another run for the White House in 2008, saying the former veep's online fundraising power could amass a greater warchest than that of the Sen. Hillary Clinton, the party's presumptive front-runner.
This would be The Goracle's third attempt at the presidency since 1988. As we've stated here many times before, Gore's primary appeal would come from his White House experience; his successful economic track-record; his pro-environment position; and his early staunch opposition to the Iraq war. Let's not forget in 2000 he won the popular vote, and he came within a hairline of the electoral college as well (though many believe he was robbed of that by the Jeb Bush Gang and the Supreme Court).
Gore's been a highly outspoken critic of the Busheviks over the past couple of years, and has been the only Democrat not afraid to go for the jugular. His speeches have been downright riveting and impassioned. He's more relaxed, and is no longer the stiff wonk that he was in 2000 when facing a camera or a microphone.
Mark my words, folks. Al Gore will be running. He's a smart politician, and he and his people have probably already recognized that this is the best chance he'll ever get. It's a telling sign when people like Novak start to smell the campaign coffee as well. Get ready for The Comeback Kid.
Friday, March 17, 2006
America has spoken, and for George W. Bush, it's not pretty. Asked to use one-word answers to describe how they felt about the president, an astounding 48%--virtually half the country--said "incompetent," "idiot," and "liar." The Pew Research Center survey released this week shows a stark contrast to how Americans answered the same question three years ago, when positive one-word descriptions of Bush, such as "honest" and "integrity," far outnumbered negative ones. In the current poll, only 28% used positive words. And previously used superlatives like "excellent" or "great" were virtually non-existent.
The survey casts Bush's overall approval rating at a pathetic 33%. With a few more dead soldiers and a civil war in Iraq, combined with a couple of more political blunders like Harriet Miers, the ports deal and illegal NSA wiretappings, the president just might find himself facing single digits in the not-too-distant future.
Other highlights of the survey include:
-Only 42% now approve of Bush's job in handling terrorist threats, an 11-point drop since February.
-Only 73% of Republicans approve of Bush, down from 89% in January 2005.
-Only 65% of moderate and liberal Republicans approve, down from 82%.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
At last week's American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Virginia governor and rising Democrat star Mark Warner worked the crowd, scoring major points in discussing their support for Israel and their tough stand on national security. According to U.S. News & World Report's Washington Whispers column, Gingrich, whose 2008 presidential aspirations have lately left him aggressively jockeying for media attention, made a strong impression on many top-dollar donors at an off-the-record lunch during the event. "Newt was a huge hit--HUGE," said one insider.
Gingrich hasn't formally announced that he's running, but every indication is that he will. He's been an outspoken critic of the Busheviks and the current Republican leadership, and he's posturing himself to be a viable alternative to folks like Mitt Romney, Bill Frist, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. To be sure, his pro-Israel stance, his tough-talk on Iran and his hawkish homeland security positions, combined with botaloads of charisma and a keen ability to put forth political doctrines that resonate with voters (see "Contract with America") make him an attractive Republican candidate.
At the AIPAC conference, Gingrich shared the limelight with Republican-Lite Warner, who appears to be believing all the D.C. hype that he's the only viable challenger to Hillary Clinton. According to WW, Warner was the big hit at the event's cocktail party. There's no question about Warner's intentions. He's clearly seeking the nomination, and his every move for the past year or more has been to solidify his base and reach across America to voters with whom he's had little or no name recognition.
Excuse me if I'm not excited. If Newt and Warner are the best their respective parties have to offer, both are in serious trouble.
"The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the--from a security standpoint--have the Iraqi security forces deal with it, to the extent they are able to." That was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld just a week ago. "There's a pilgrimage coming up. We may very well--General Casey may decide he wants to bulk up slightly for the pilgrimage." That was Rummy at Tuesday's Pentagon news briefing, suggesting an increase in troops is imminent due to an expected influx of Muslim worshippers in the coming weeks. The strategic gobbledygook from Rumsfeld is relentless: "And we're continuing to pull troops down." Kind of like John Kerry's "I voted for the war before I voted against it?" Which is it Don, are we pulling troops out or sending them in?
Rumsfeld's double-speak continued over the issue of whether or not Iraq is on the verge of civil war. He admitted that government agencies were assessing this possibility, but then issued the standard Bushevik denial of reality. "Is it true the people in the intelligence community are thinking about this and analyzing it and doing red team--A team/B team-type looks at it? Sure they are. And they should be. That's what people do. Do I think we're in a civil war at the present time? No."
The briefing coincided with the news that 85 bodies were found in Iraq, apparently killed execution style: bound, badly beaten, gagged, tortured, hung. The sectarian violence is clearly escalating, and the Iraqi police are either unable to control the mayhem or they may be condoning it or even behind it. But regardless, everyone except the Bushies seems to agree that there's mounting chaos there, posing a real threat to the stability of the country and to the U.S.'s goal of creating a democracy.
The NY Times Wednesday cites three officials involved in the troop increase discussions as saying the plan involves about 800 soldiers. Curiously, this is exactly the number Rumsfeld confirmed at the briefing that the British are pulling out of the coalition by May.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
The NY Times Sunday ran a cover story in its magazine section on the Democratic dark horse candidate, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, whose been creating a bit of a buzz within the left's Republican-lite circles lately. Warner, a NASCAR-loving Southerner who supports the NRA, parental notification for minors' abortions, and big business, is the favorite among some Hillary-fearing, victory-seeking Democrats. Sure, he satisfies those who seek to mirror the conservatives on values issues, and is surely someone who'll appeal to rich, white Southerners. But what about the rest of America? What about the base? Will they vote for someone who more often resembles a Republican than one of their own? Is that really what Democrats will want after eight years of Bush & Co? Can he ultimately win?
Most Democrats know two things: that they love the idea of Sen. Hillary Clinton running for president, and see her sailing through to the nomination; and that she has a minimal chance of winning the national election. Her financial warchest (estimated to be $75-million by '08), political clout and sheer momentum almost assures her easy victory over the current pack of presidential yawnabes, among them John Kerry, John Edwards, Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Wesley Clark, Russ Feingold, Bill Richardson and Warner. None of them--emphasis on none--stand a chance against Clinton. She's too powerful for the money-people and the DC insiders to go against; not with this current crop of choices. No one wants to be left out of the cold if she just happens to go all the way.
There's only one candidate who has the political capital and overall gravitas to not only win a showdown with Clinton, but to win the big prize as well. "This sounds absolutely strange coming from me, because I never in life thought I would utter these words again, but Al Gore," said Democratic consultant Donna Brazile in Sunday's Times story. Brazile, Gore's campaign manager in 2000, suggests that Gore has the national profile and fiery enthusiasm to generate excitement from the base. When you think about his staunch anti-war stand from the get-go; his years of environmental advocacy; his impressive political dossier; and the fact that he did win the popular vote in 2000 (and as many believe, the electoral college as well), it's not hard to imagine a Gore candidacy emerging sometime in the next year. The Times cites former advisors who say the former Veep is uninterested in running, but don't believe it for one nano-second. It's all part of his own momentum-building campaign.
Friday, March 10, 2006
My friend Bob is a die-hard, stuck-in-the-mud Republican. A serious red GOP-flag waving, NRA card-carrying right-winger all the way. We've been friends for 25 years and love each other like brothers. But when it comes to politics we're as far apart as Jay-Z and Andrea Bocelli. He hates everything liberal and loathes the Democratic Party. And like many GOP faithful, he's been more loyal to President Bush than perhaps his own family. For years, Bob has been piss-drunk on Bush Kool-aid. The president, he'd argue, could do no wrong. Until now. The love affair is officially over. Bob has grown increasingly frustrated with the president over Iraq, Katrina and the ports deal. Says the war's failing. Says the response in the Gulf was atrocious. And he's downright livid over Bush's bizarre decisions involving the now defunct Dubai deal. And when Bush loses Bob, the House and Senate Republican incumbents better take cover.
This past week we saw Bill Frist (TN), Dennis Hastert (IL), Peter King (NY) and so many others in the GOP leadership orchestrate a near showdown over the ports issue. With a keen eye on November's midterms, these survivalists finally threw up their hands and said "enough's enough....we can no longer support you, Mr President. We've stood by you on Iraq, Social Security, the economy, Katrina, the wiretappings, the Cheney shooting....but we cannot stand by you any longer. You're bad for our political health."
And why have they gotten to this point? Because Dubai Ports World is truly bad for our national security? Because foreign countries should not control our waterways? Not likely. Rather, they've bailed on the president because they have their ears to the ground, and what they're hearing is the chilling voice of Bob. And without Bob in November, the GOP doesn't stand a chance.
I'd like to extend my personal thanks and words of gratitude to the United Arab Emirates and Dubai Ports World for selling its interest in our waterways. In withdrawing from the deal so as to bolster our national security, the UAE did what our commander-in-chief could not. Yes, our self-anointed Darth Vader in the war on terror, in his infinite wisdom, had decided that an Arab nation with questionable ties to Al Qaeda, drug-traffickers and money-launderers would make a great choice to control operations at six major U.S. ports. But despite mounting pressure and threats from his own party leaders to kill the transaction, Bush refused to budge. But fortunately the UAE ultimately said, 'hey, even we think this is a kooky deal!' Thank goodness the UAE had the sense to figure out how to best tackle one of America's problems. Perhaps they'd like to take a stab at the economy, the Katrina mess and corruption in Washington?
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Man your battlestations! Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has teamed with war pals Max Cleland, former Georgia senator, and fellow ex-Swift boat skipper Wade Sanders in an all-out effort to support the Congressional campaigns of some 70 Iraq war veterans. And through an email last week, Kerry raised $250,000 in just one 24-hour period for three: $100,000 for Tammy Duckworth in Illinois's 6th District, and $65,000 each for Patrick Murphy in Pennsylvania's 8th District and Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania's 7th District. $20,000 went to support other candidates. Kerry has now raised over $1-million online in the last six months, according to aides. John Kerry reporting for duty!
Despite having lost his bid for president, Kerry has remained highly relevant and influential both inside and outside the beltway. Back in '04 he raised $80 million via the Internet and amassed a valuable email supporter list of about 3-million names. He uses that list aggressively to raise funds and build support for many viable candidates. Through his PAC, Keeping America's Promise, Kerry's raised more than $2 million for the upcoming mid-terms. Another new email seeks support and money for Tim Walz, who's running in Minnesota's 1st District seat, and Jay Fawcett, the only Democrat seeking retiring Rep. Joel Hefley's (R) open seat in Colorado's 5th District.
The apparent motivation for the trio's fundraising plan links back to the early 70's when Kerry and Cleland entered politics after returning from Vietnam frustrated and disillusioned with the Nixon administration's polarization of the military and its attempt to divide soldiers along party lines. To prevent that from happening with Iraq war vets, they plan to raise $500,000 for a "Fight Back Fund." Said Kerry: "Karl Rove's gonna come after these kids hard. It's Richard Nixon all over again. We're gonna make sure these vets have the ammunition to shoot back."
Monday, March 06, 2006
Back in 2000, a campaign mantra of George Bush was "I'm a uniter not a divider." In retrospect, he couldn't have been more off the mark. In his 5 1/2 years as president, Bush has succeeded in dividing just about everything and everyone he's come in contact with: our allies, Americans, religious groups, Congress and the media. And now he's very close to alienating himself from the last vestige of support he's enjoyed: his own party.
The United Arab Emirates ports deal has been the proverbial straw that broke the GOP leadership's back. With many facing re-election this year, House and Senate Republicans have been jumping ship faster than Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. The president has been curiously inflexible in his push for the sale to close, even threatening to use a first-ever veto to beat down Congress if necessary. Reluctantly, he's agreed to a 45-day investigation so that lawmakers can properly vet the deal (an investigation which just happens to be required by law, a little annoyance Bush initially overlooked).
When you add this Dubai Ports World deal to the 2005/6 Bush Greatest Hits album--torture, Harriet Miers, Katrina, Shooter and Scooter, illegal wiretappings and other PR disasters--it spells trouble for incumbants like Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, Dennis Hastert and John Boehner. I'm not sure who's been harder on him lately, them or Democrats. It's safe to say, the lame duck just got even lamer.
With his Republican brethren abandoning him in droves, The Great Divider has brilliantly completed the last link in the alienation chain. What's left, separate beds for him and Laura?
Kudos to Tim Russert, host of NBC's Meet the Press. Russert's guest Sunday was General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Like the good partisan soldier that he is, Pace defended the invasion of Iraq and offered up the usual spin that everything's going "very, very well." He also blamed the massive unpopularity of the war on the media for only showing America the negative news. Don't they ever get tired of regurgitating this inane rhetoric?
With great loyalty and courage, the General did his best to defend the administration's colossal miscalculations about WMD, the size of the insurgency, the level of initial troop strength and the likelihood of civil war. According to the Bushies and their Sunday spokesman Pace, no one--not the public, the media, politicians--has an ability to see what's really going on on the ground over there. Everybody's got it wrong, except them, Pace suggested. And we're supposed to believe them, when they've been dead wrong about everything so far? Give Pace points for trying. Like I said, he's a loyal soldier in Bush's army.
But the unintentional honesty came when Russert nailed Pace to the wall with a very simple question about overall safety in Iraq. Russert read Pace a quote from staunch conservative writer William F. Buckley, who recently said: "One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. ... Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans." Buckley said there were two postulates: "One of these postulates, from the beginning, was that the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom. The accompanying postulate was that the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers and policymakers to cope with insurgents bent on violence. This last did not happen. And the administration has, now, to cope with failure."
Pace's expected reply: "Mr. Buckley would probably do well to take a trip over to Iraq and walk the streets and talk to Iraqis, and talk to Iraqi government, talk to Iraqi army, talk to Iraqi police....This is not a failure."
The brilliant comeback by Russert: "Do you really believe it'll be safe for William F. Buckley to walk the streets of Baghdad?"
And the tail-between-the-legs-of-the-week award goes to (drumroll please)...General Pace: "I think not all the places in Baghdad, no, but I do believe that if he had a chance to get over there, properly escorted--I would want to be escorted myself..." Sure, all Buckley needs to do is strap on some body armour, hop in a humvee and surround himself with soldiers and he too can see first-hand all this amazing progress.
Beautiful, just beautiful.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Judging by the president's words and actions it's clear he's suffering from a condition called Bush Fatigue: being too tired to care what the hell you do or say. Unfortunately, Americans have been suffering from their own version as well. We're just really tired of Bush. Is there a doctor in the house?
From the Iraq war to Plamegate, to Harriet Miers to Dead-Eye Dick and the Birdshot Incident, to Katrina, warrantless wiretappings and the ports controversy, what else besides foot-in-mouth disease could possibly explain Bush's bizarre behavior? Lately, he's his own worst enemy. There seems to be no stopping him from reaping political havoc on his administration. He's a one-man wrecking crew.
Bush Fatigue . The president just doesn't seem to care anymore. He appears detached, disengaged and indifferent. Impatient, and unable and/or unwilling to fully digest the issues before taking stands and making policy. He's tired. Fed up. Crossing off the days on his calendar to when he can sail off into the sunset back to Crawford to fetch balls with Barney and clear some brush. And one look at the national polls tell us another thing: Americans would very much like to pay his gas-fare.
But Bush has three more years left. And we have three more years of Bush. I'm not sure who's going to crack first.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Much has been said about the January 25th Palestinian elections where an overwhelming majority of the people voted to replace Fatah with the terrorist organization Hamas, a group that proudly takes credit for the horrific suicide deaths of hundreds of innocent Israeli men, women and children, and whose primary mission is the destruction of Israel. In turn, Israel has cut off some $50+ million in tax payments to the Palestinian Authority, which is threatened with economic devastation if the payments are withheld long-term (since then the European Union has stepped in with $145-million in temporary aid).
Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his government will not deal with any Palestinian government which involves Hamas. He said Hamas' victory signifies that "the Palestinian Authority is, in effect, becoming a terrorist authority. ... Israel will not agree to that. The stopped payments include taxes and customs duties it collects on its behalf each month on imports and from Palestinian merchants and laborers working in Israel.
And the Israelis have been vilified over this hardline stance over everything from humanitarian reasons to its unwillingness to accept that Hamas was elected through a Democratic process, and that it should accept it as political counterpart. I don't think Israel has a problem per se with the election itself. Rather, the Palestinian people had a choice, and they have spoken, rewarding a 20-year-old terror organization with a landslide victory and the keys to their nation. Israel's stand is more like, Ok, you made your bed, now sleep in it.
Yes, in a Democracy one has the freedom of choice. And Israel surely recognizes that. But the Palestinian people could have just as freely kept Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in power and they didn't. That they decided to hand over the country to a ruthless band of suicide bombers does not in any way obligate Israel to turn the other cheek and recognize, or legitimize, this murderous bunch of terrorists hellbent on its destruction. The Palestinian people have spoken, yes, and so has Israel. Isn't Democracy a wonderful thing.
In its coverage Thursday of the latest White House Katrina scandal, the New York Times has unbelievably missed the entire main story that President Bush lied to Americans when, four days after the Hurricane hit, he declared on ABC's Good Morning America that"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." But a new videotape released Wednesday by the Associated Press clearly shows the president, along with Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, being warned the day before the storm struck that the levees in fact were in serious jeopardy. Yet the Times' story makes absolutely no mention of this contradiction. In fact, its opening paragraph is so way off the mark as to almost exonerate the Bushies over their inept response to the storm:
"A newly released transcript of a government videoconference shows that hours after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, federal and state officials did not know that the levees in New Orleans were failing and were cautiously congratulating one another on the government response."
What exactly is the Times saying here? What exactly is the point of this story? How on earth can they completely ignore what is the central point of this new scandal: another Bush lie.
Now some things in life are quite black and white, and the AP video is a pretty damning piece of evidence against the president. And quite ironically, it does a pretty good job of also making former FEMA head and heretofore scapegoat Michael "Brownie" Brown appear surprisingly efficient and quite prescient. Brown can be seen on the tape warning that Katrina would be "a bad one and a big one" and that he worried about the government's "ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe." He noted that the Superdome was about 12 feet below sea level, and he doubted its adequacy as an emergency shelter. That same day he even urged federal officials to cut through red tape to give timely help. "Go ahead and do it," he said. "I'll figure out some way to justify it. Just let them yell at me." My goodness, maybe ole Brownie did a heck of a job after all.
As for the tape itself, participating in a videoconference from his Crawford, Tex ranch, Bush appeared disengaged, sporting his all-too-familiar My Pet Goat look, as Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center warned that the hurricane would be among the worst ever. About the levees specifically, Mayfield said "I don't think any (computer) models can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that's obviously a very, very grave concern."
Now let's focus on those very significant final eight words: "but that's obviously a very, very grave concern," and pair them with Bush's statement five days later: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." If that isn't an outright lie, what is? And this is the Bush pattern of deception. Who can forget Condi Rice's May 16, 2002 declaration that "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile--a hijacked airplane as a missile." She apparently had forgotten about that pesky little August 8, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing titled: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike inside U.S." The very same PDB that discussed the use of hijacked airplanes as potential weapons.
"We didn't know" seems to be the popular refrain of this duplicitous administration. But they did know, and they do know. They always know. They just lie about it, that's all.
So now that we know that Bush clearly was aware of the levee situation in the days following the Hurricane, the question to be begged is, why did he remain at his ranch, then make a political swing through California and Arizona, as New Orleans was dealing with catastrophe? How could he remain on vacation and then make an irrelevant trip West while people were dying in the streets down South?
Lending new meaning to apathy and indifference, Bush did not ask a single question during the videoconference. Instead, all he could muster was an unconvincing assurance that "we are fully prepared."
Lies. Lies. Lies. When will it ever stop.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
For almost a year now, King George and the royal order of servants in his monarchy have mercilessly vilified grieving mom and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan as an unpatriotic left-wing crackpot who is not only out of touch with mainstream America but also someone who's dishonoring the soldiers who've been killed as well as those still fighting Bush's vanity project in Iraq. Well guess what? Sheehan apparently does speak for America, and for our troops as well.
A new poll released this week by Le Moyne College/Zogby shows some astounding contradictions to the relentless rhetoric that Bush has been spewing about our soldiers' desire to "complete the mission." 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, while 29% want an immediate pullout, with 22% calling for a withdrawal in six months (John Murtha, are you listening?). Only 23% believes the Bush mantra that they should stay "as long as they are needed." While 58% say mission is clear, 42% say our role is anything but. Most believe that the enemy we're fighting is comprised of Iraqi insurgents rather than outside terrorists. And perhaps most amazing is that 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly "to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks" and 77% said they also believe the primary reason for the war was "to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq." See how well propaganda works?
Additionally, in a new CBS poll released this week, public approval for Bush's handling of the war has fallen to 30% from 37% in January. What's more, 62% said U.S. efforts in Iraq were failing, up from 54% in January. When you factor all this in with the lack of support from the troops, the conclusion is clear: Cindy Sheehan speaks for America, and Clueless George does not.