Sunday, November 28, 2004

I wrote the following on Nov. 21st:
Another very revealing item being reported: Hastert wanted to avoid passage of a bill that relied excessively on Dem support. We know that the House is not enormously tilted to one side, so are we expected for the next four years to ONLY see things passed that rely mainly on the GOP-majority? That if the proportion of Dems supporting a bill is not to Denny's (DeLay's) liking, than it stands a good chance of getting defeated? If so, then the power has truly gone to their heads and increases the odds of a future implosion.

In yesterday's (Nov. 27) Washington Post, this was the topic in a news analysis piece:
Speaker J. Dennis Hastert last week enunciated a policy in which Congress will pass bills only if most House Republicans back them, regardless of how many Democrats favor them.

Hastert's position, which is drawing fire from Democrats and some outside groups, is the latest step in a decade-long process of limiting Democrats' influence and running the House virtually as a one-party institution. Republicans earlier barred House Democrats from helping to draft major bills such as the 2003 Medicare revision and this year's intelligence package. Hastert (R-Ill.) now says such bills will reach the House floor, after negotiations with the Senate, only if "the majority of the majority" supports them.

Senators from both parties, leaders of the Sept. 11 commission and others have sharply criticized the policy. The long-debated intelligence bill would now be law, they say, if Hastert and his lieutenants had been humble enough to let a high-profile measure pass with most votes coming from the minority party.

I stand by what I wrote on the 21st. And trust me, with House Republicans apparently being steered by never-to-be-mistaken-for-a-rocket-scientist Hastert (now that perhaps DeLay preoccupied with saving his own skin), the GOP implosion is on course.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

President George W. Bush, meanwhile, said charges of voter fraud have cast doubt on the Ukrainian election. "The only good deal is one that's verifiable," Bush said outside his home in Crawford, Texas. (AP, 11/27/04)

Meanwhile, back in the USA:
Congress to investigate complaints of voting irregularities (AP, 11/24/04)

(thanks iddybud)
Sign o' the times: penis/vagina worse than assault.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Terrific editorial in today's NY Times. A piece:
To the extent that voters registered an opinion on environmental issues, they did it in local settings, and they consistently asked for more environmental protection than Mr. Bush has been offering them. With rare exceptions, the administration's operating mode has been to remove or roll back legal safeguards without putting much in their place, including the free-market solutions advertised as a substitute for regulations. This was true whether the issue was clean air, clean water or protecting the public lands from logging, destructive mining practices, overgrazing, and oil and gas drilling.

The voters sent a different message. In Colorado, a healthy majority approved a ballot initiative requiring electric utilities to generate 10 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2015, a more aggressive approach than any so far offered on the federal level. In Montana, despite heavy industry lobbying, an even greater majority upheld a prohibition on mining practices that pollute rivers and streams with toxic wastes - a brave vote in a poor state that needs jobs.

Nationwide, voters in red states as well as blue approved $2.53 billion worth of new bond issues to preserve open space - a clear rebuke to a Congress that has dramatically cut financing for land acquisition and to an administration that insists on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.

Of course, the environment will not play a role in GW's so-called "mandate." And yet it's well-documented that any time the environment ends up on a poll, it always receives a 70+% positive response, so the above local results are not surprising.

It also hints at a trend that will likely continue for the next four years, that of a more locally-driven America. Given the stark divide in the country, it makes sense for the blue states to increasingly legislate in accordance with what makes sense to their respective electorates, given GW/Cheney will more than likely rule in red-state fashion. Blue states should see an explosion of initiatives and propositions on their ballots over the next four years, working to provide for state-centric mandates that better fit the majority opinion.

Of course, I'm describing forms of Federalism. You always hear the right crowing about the virtues of Federalism -- let's see if they continue to sing its praises when it's used against King George.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Two more senior officials departing the CIA (well, it's one way to overhaul the agency -- have longtime vets exit). Oh, and soldiers to be shipped to Iraq have stated they haven't been adequately trained. From the LA Times, "a number of the soldiers said, is that the training they have received is so poor and equipment shortages so prevalent that they fear their casualty rate will be needlessly high when they arrive in Iraq early next year. 'We are going to pay for this in blood,' one soldier said." Moving on, a front page story in the Washington Post about the lack of funding for EPA's Superfund program, "Lawmakers recently voted to give the program $1.257 billion, $8 million less than last year's budget. Rep. James T. Walsh (R-N.Y.), who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees Superfund, said that the White House did not actively lobby for the extra $150 million Bush requested, and that appropriators could not devote more money in light of the tight budget. 'We can only spend what we have,' he said." Ah yes, another in a gazillion instances where Bush publicly states support for something but then does very little to actually lobby for its passage.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Many Republicans I know are what I would call habitual dismissers. Present to them anything that they happen to disagree with and rather than provide a cogent, well-reasoned come-back in return (which may include at least one or two facts), instead they simply sweep it aside as just nonsense or alarmist thinking. Why spend time trying to meaningfully rebut anything when you can just ignore it, or better yet dodge the whole thing entirely by attempting to steer the focus in a different direction?

As an example, in trying to point out what is more or less a statement of fact, that to a large extent the current GOP is in bed with the highly-organized, staunch religious right, such a statement is most often met with indignant, "I beg to differ" retorts. The GOP has been closely aligned with the religious right for many years, however the difference now is the degree to which they have influence within the party. Whereas in prior years, party operatives would bait them along, throw them some bones in the form of a few key concerns that they held dearly -- whatever it took to insure delivery of their votes as a block and yet not allow them to go too far in terms of having any significant impact.

With the increased reliance on this group to help deliver the Bush/Cheney victory (thanks to the dead-aim focus and tireless effort of Rove to motivate Evangelicals et al), it's apparent these folks will no longer tolerate being the loyal sideshow of the party. They fully grasp the effect they had on this election outcome and their mounting outcry is now apparent with regards to directing the course of this country.

The right-wingers can quibble and debate all they want as to just how big of an impact the religious right had on Bush's victory -- whatever, it's not the point. What is the point is that they did indeed have a sizeable impact, period, and that in their mind whatever that impact was they're inflating it and are running with it full force. Ergo, they will continue to make themselves known in the legislation process as well as all other governmental areas, believing that this is their time, they deserve it, and they're not going to squander it. And in this struggle for power will come an increasing resistance by more moderate, less strident Republicans (some still exist!) and in time the implosion of the party.

But just to step back a bit, regarding the tone in the country and to what extent this intolerant, overly-puritanical wave of sanctimony has made inroads into many aspects of our lives, I offer a list of just some examples:

* Monday Night Football / Nicolette Sheridan outrage (FCC likely to investigate and fine)
* Arlen Specter (recently forced to grovel and fetch water for the conservative religious right)
* Sen. Rick Santorum (a senator who in more moderate times would've served a specific, minor role in the party, but instead has been allowed to become a front-and-center spokesperson for the GOP with several rumors that he's readying to run for president in 2008)
* Howard Stern (not just fined, like in the past, but this time tossed off in six key election-day markets thanks to right-wing Clear Channel)
* Saving Private Ryan (many ABC affiliates refuse to air it for fear of being fined by FCC)
* Dr. James Dobson (he makes Jerry Falwell look liberal)
* Sen. Coburn, Okl. (felt the Holocaust movie "Schindler's List" was too obscene for television, those who perform abortions should be subject to the death penalty)
* Sen. DeMint, SC (called for firing gay teachers in public schools, and said the same should occur against single women teachers who became pregnant)

Oh, and this one just out yesterday:
Religious Conservatives Demand Changes at Nation's Parks

For roughly a decade, a film has been shown to visitors at Washington's Lincoln Memorial, depicting historic events that have taken place there — from civil rights marches to antiwar demonstrations. The film shows a number of marches with liberal themes like gay rights and abortion rights, intercut with older clips of historical figures like former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Marian Anderson.Then, one day the Rev. Lou Sheldon saw it. "It showed only those liberal, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marches," said Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition. Sheldon's influential Christian conservative group took its complaint to the government's top levels — "so they could reach down and work their system and cleanse in a proper manner and make it fair and balanced," he said.

I could list more but you get the point (I hope).

Recall that in 1974, during the Oscar TV broadcast, David Niven was the presenter and a nudist ran across the stage, displaying everything for the world to see. I don't recall then the country rising up with outrage, demanding fines from the FCC, the Falwells and Dobsons at the time taking to the airwaves, etc. No, instead I believe it was taken for what it was (a fairly humorous goof) and life went on.

Can you imagine what would happen today?

Monday, November 22, 2004

It appears as if my suspicion about the sincerity of Bush's "disappointment" with the failure of the intel bill (see below) was not too far off the mark:
The chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), said that more than some House Republicans opposed a compromise measure that was generated by recommendations made in July by the Sept. 11 commission.

"There's been a lot of opposition to this from the first," Roberts said on "Fox News Sunday." "Some of it is from the Pentagon. Some of it, quite frankly, is from the White House, despite what the president has said." (Washington Post)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Rogue Congress?

There's something very strange about this defeated intel bill, but then again it could possibly signify further proof of the impending GOP implosion.

Are we to believe that Bush, AND Cheney AND Hastert were defied? By some no-names, no less? Sorry, too much to be believable. And in all the news stories, DeLay is nowhere to be mentioned.

Why do I get the feeling that in reality-based world, Bush/Cheney/Hastert likewise did not wish for this bill to pass. Yet, they'll be able to claim that they did all they could -- but alas to no avail. In the end, the higher-ups have cover and the special interests (defense/Pentagon) get what they want.

Then again, if we imagine that GW/Cheney/Hastert truly were as embarrassed as its being reported, then it could be construed as further cracks in the otherwise unified GOP front. More and more fissures are appearing. As the NY Times reports, Dems can gain from this as it shows "House Republicans killed a bill that had widespread, bipartisan support and that would have allowed the government to protect the public better against terrorist threats." Those moderate Republicans that seek reelection next November may not appreciate this hurdle they'll have to now overcome. The Times bluntly states it reflects "a sharp split between Republicans in the House and Senate."

Another very revealing item being reported: Hastert wanted to avoid passage of a bill that relied excessively on Dem support. We know that the House is not enormously tilted to one side, so are we expected for the next four years to ONLY see things passed that rely mainly on the GOP-majority? That if the proportion of Dems supporting a bill is not to Denny's (DeLay's) liking, than it stands a good chance of getting defeated? If so, then the power has truly gone to their heads and increases the odds of a future implosion.

Oh, by the way, the EPA's budget was slashed again -- what else is new? Some things don't change.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Who Needs The Supreme Court?
House and Senate negotiators have tucked a potentially far-reaching anti-abortion provision into a $388 billion must-pass spending bill, complicating plans for Congress to wrap up its business and adjourn for the year.

The provision may be an early indication of the growing political muscle of social conservatives who provided crucial support for Republican candidates, including President Bush, in the election. (from NY Times)

And yet we heard from many R-wingers after the election that the GOP was not hijacked by the religious right, that we were being alarmist, overblown, etc. Well, as Colin Powell learned, be careful who you choose to associate with -- it can come back to bite you, hard.

You more moderate Republicans out there (yeah, I'm talking to you two!), get ready for the staunch, unyielding religious sect in the party to move in and take over. Here we see they've muscled enough legislators to slip a provision into a spending bill (gutless, slimy), we've also seen them take Arlen Specter out back to the woodshed and give him a good whipping (reportedly, now he'll behave!). And yet many a R-winger continues to live in non-reality-based denial -- which is fine, the same was generally true when Newt was running their party into the ground. By the time they wake up, it will be too late. They just don't learn.

It's similar to the species of bird that lays an egg in a smaller bird's nest. The offspring is larger than the others and over time crowds out the nest, getting all the food. Eventually, this fat "baby" is the only living thing left, all other offspring long dead from neglect.

Meanwhile, to show their class, Daschle gave his goodbye speech and only a few Republicans showed on the floor to be respectful and listen. In fact,

Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, who broke with Senate tradition to campaign against Mr. Daschle in his home state, South Dakota, did not appear until after Mr. Daschle finished speaking. The scant Republican showing provoked Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, to speak out. "I don't know why, why in the closing days, some element of comity, some element of grace, some element of respect for a human being, could not have gotten some of our friends out of their offices," Mr. Lautenberg said. (NY Times)

Uh, Frank, that's easy: because they're arrogant, power-crazed ASSHOLES!

Friday, November 19, 2004

As justification for altering party rules in the House of Representatives in order to allow Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) to retain his leadership position if indicted by a Texas grand jury on political corruption charges, Republicans have claimed that Travis County, Texas, District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who is investigating DeLay, is doing so for purely partisan reasons. This charge was dutifully echoed on FOX News Channel, and most other news outlets have reported it -- without noting that Earle has, in fact, prosecuted more Democratic politicians than Republican politicians.

While Earle is an elected Democrat, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, a June 17 editorial in the Houston Chronicle commended his work: "During his long tenure, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has prosecuted many more Democratic officials than Republicans. The record does not support allegations that Earle is prone to partisan witch hunts." This assertion supports Earle's own claim about his record; a March 6 article in the El Paso Times reported: "Earle says local prosecution is fundamental and points out that 11 of the 15 politicians he has prosecuted over the years were Democrats."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Beautifully Poetic.

Tom DeLay is complaining that his legal troubles are nothing more than a "political witch hunt." OK, but when this same thing was said to describe the MUCH more obvious and real targeted witch hunt when they were putting the screws to Clinton over Whitewater and impeachment hearings, well, that was all dismissed at the time as just a bunch of whining nonsense. But with shoe on the other foot, now we're supposed to feel DeLay's pain. Christ, where does the disgusting hypocrisy end with these guys?

U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), in making the "political witch hunt" argument to The Hill newspaper yesterday, made the House GOP's real beef pretty apparent: The potential indictment of DeLay, he said, represented a rearguard action by Democrats who have not yet come to grips with the fact that "Republicans are a permanent majority."

A permanent majority! This is a pretty good summary of the Congressional Republican attitude these days, and it's the very epitome of the arrogance of power. As The Hill's Jonathan Kaplan pointedly noted, way back in 1987, the avatar of the Republican Revolution, Newt Gingrich, said this about the ethics lapses of the Democrats who controlled Congress at that time: "[You] now have a House where it is more dangerous to be aggressive about honesty than it is to be mildly corrupt.... You now have a situation where I think people feel almost invulnerable."

Get ready for the implosion!
With the opening of the Clinton Library today, American Progress thought it would be an opportune time to contrast Clinton vs. GW:
Here is a look at life in the 1990s, compared to how things are today.
POVERTY: During the Clinton years, poverty fell by 25.2 percent. Poverty climbed steadily under President Bush, however. According to the most recent data from the Census Bureau, the number of Americans living in poverty has "risen ten percent since 2000." That means "nearly 36 million Americans – one in eight – now live in poverty and tens of millions are considered working poor."

WAGES: Wage growth has fallen dramatically over the past four years. In 2000, median weekly wages grew by 4.9 percent. This fell to a mere 2.0 percent in 2003, meaning that adjusted for inflation, "wages fell slightly in real terms in 2003 for the first time since 1996." For those who have found work, the recovery is of questionable value in an "upside down" economy where profits have soared yet families' benefits are nullified by the rapidly rising costs of housing, education, and medical care – all of which jumped at double digit rates.

UNEMPLOYMENT: There are more people unable to find work than four years ago. In 2000, the unemployment rate was 4 percent. During his terms, President Clinton created 22.7 million jobs. Putting that in historical perspective, that's "the most created under any single president since the 1920s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics." Under President Bush, 490,000 jobs disappeared, making him the first president since Herbert Hoover to have fewer available jobs at the end of his term than at the beginning.

DEFICITS: Under President Clinton, the U.S. government had "its first budget surpluses since 1969, and its largest surpluses on record." Not only was there a total budget surplus of $176 billion, the Clinton Treasury "actually paid off $362.5 billion of debt held by the public." President Bush reversed this trend, racking up a record $422 billion deficit. Instead of paying down the debt, the Bush Treasury has needed three debt ceiling increases over the past four years and is calling this week for a fourth. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, there's no end in sight; if President Bush succeeds in passing his 2005 budget – with the extension of his tax cuts – there will be $6.2 trillion in additional debt between now and 2014, nearly doubling our current debt ($7.38 trillion) for a total of $14.5 trillion.

ABORTION: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the Clinton years, the abortion rate fell by about 27 percent. A new independent study by an ethics professor at Fuller Theological Seminary finds that today, "contrary to popular assumption, abortion has risen in the U.S. during George W. Bush's presidency."
Maureen Dowd writes today on same theme I wrote about yesterday:

Now, in the 21st-century reign of King George II, flattery is mandatory, dissent is forbidden, and erring without admitting error is the best way to get ahead. President Bush is purging the naysayers who tried to temper crusted-nut-bar Dick Cheney and the neocon crazies on Iraq.

First, faith trumped facts. Now, loyalty trumps competence. W., who was the loyalty enforcer for his father's administration, is now the loyalty enforcer for his own.

Those promoted to be in charge of our security, diplomacy and civil liberties were rewarded for being more loyal to Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney than to the truth.

The president and vice president are dispatching their toadies to the agencies to quell dissent. The crackdown seems bizarre, since hardly anyone dared to disagree with them anyway and there were plenty willing to twist the truth for them.
Mr. Bush doesn't want any more leaks, like the one showing that he was told two months before invading Iraq that such a move could lead to violent internal conflict and more support for radical Islamists.

Mr. Goss has managed to make the dysfunctional C.I.A. even more dysfunctional. Instead of going after Al Qaeda, he's busy purging top-level officials who had been going after Al Qaeda - replacing them with his coterie of hacks from Capitol Hill.

Mr. Cheney is letting his old mentor, Rummy, stay on. What does it matter if the Rummy doctrine - dangerously thin allotments of forces, no exit strategy, snatching State Department occupation duties and then screwing them up - has botched the Iraq mission and left the military so strapped it's calling back old, out-of-shape reservists to active service?

Bush is promoting those individuals who have not only remained loyal, but even more so who have career paths that have mirrored his own. The more you screw-up and fail professionally, the more likely you are to be rescued and promoted. To the family-values-ridden Republicans: what a wonderful message to send to our kids!
Calling Mr. President....

The United States has intelligence that Iran is working to adapt missiles to deliver a nuclear weapon, further evidence that the Islamic republic is determined to acquire a nuclear bomb, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Wednesday.

Separately, an Iranian opposition exile group charged in Paris that Iran is enriching uranium at a secret military facility unknown to U.N. weapons inspectors.

Uh, if memory serves, Iran is one of those "Axis of Evil" nations and I believe we invaded one of those three due to suspicions of harboring WMD -- right? By all accounts, the evidence that Iran is building nuke weapons is every bit as credible (!) as the pathetic stuff that passed as intel re Iraq. What do we do now? Thanks to getting bogged down in Iraq (reminder: the AofE country that didn't have WMD), we now don't have the resources to actually do something about this serious problem facing us. And don't think Iran hasn't known this fact all along.

Way to go GW, Cheney, and the neocon lunatic fringe in power! Why is Powell choosing to mention this in the press, soon after his resignation announcement? Could it be an "FU" from him to the administration, a subtle "I told you so" to further make known his reluctance concerning Iraq?
It's official:
House GOP OKs Rules Change to Allow DeLay to Keep Post if He Is Indicted on Corruption Charges

Revolting. However, the idiot right neglects (as usual) to see the full ramifications of what this might involve. If DeLay were to be indicted, the Dems (if they had any spine left at all) would be able to use this fact strategically, pounding the message home repeatedly on talk shows, newspapers, etc., that the Republican-controlled House is led by someone who is under indictment. Let DeLay and Rove spin it any way they like, the fact is the crux of the truth will finally get out there for the public to digest. The key is to make it known. The goal is to have Letterman, Leno and The Daily Show making fun of it, for that is when you know it's registered and the farce and hypocrisy has truly struck a chord.

As Lord Acton once said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." It occurred with Newt Gingrich when he overstepped and I believe with this rule change, it's happening again. Yes, a repugnant maneuver, but in the end perhaps a very just outcome.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Josh Marshall sums it up:
With the nomination today of White House Domestic Policy Adviser Margaret Spellings as Education Secretary the pattern is now unmistakably clear. As was the case with Gonzales and Rice, President Bush is transposing his White House staff out to head their analogous federal departments and agencies.

Gonzales goes from White House Counsel to Attorney General; Rice goes from NSC to State; Spellings goes from Domestic Policy Advisor to Education Secretary.

Each of them defined mainly by their loyalty to President Bush.

The first noticeable aspect of GW's second term is the fast & furious consolidation of steadfast loyalty, with the ouster of all those who perhaps conveyed even the slightest straying from the plantation during the first term. Yet, leave it up to this president to move forward with this decision as it's exactly the wrong way to go.

If the last four years didn't prove anything else it was that he needed more variety or diversity in the voices speaking to him, and then for him to actually listen to those voices. All too often, he ignored those opinions that he simply disagreed with -- and yet so often turned out to be correct. Instead, he usually opted to go with those who were simply most loyal, irregardless of the logic or authority of the source.

He is supposed to be the "MBA President" and yet as he has shown over the years, GW has been an awful CEO. Is there any wonder why? I study stocks/companies for a living and over the years one very bad sign that I've observed is when top management gets too cozy or insulated. When the CEO is overly comfortable with his/her board, when the norm is to be surrounded by yes-people who don't want to rock the boat in any way, it typically does not take long for that company to head south. Disney is a good recent example of this scenario as over the years as CEO, Michael Eisner stacked management with his loyal cronies and in the process the stock price suffered as corporate malaise set in.

This sort of behavior is actually a sign of weakness, not strength. Only a weak, insecure person cannot accept advice or feedback that may differ from one's own opinion(s). Another very relevant analogy is that of the alcoholic in deep denial: rather than listening to the tough-love advice from friends, he/she simply gets new friends.

If I were a betting man, I would wager that these latest moves in the administration spell deep trouble for the next four years. It's going to get even worse than it was in the first term (I know, hard to believe that's possible). Get ready for lots of dumb, big scandals and screw-ups. He should've learned, but that would be asking too much from a man who seems incapable of doing anything right.
"Hey, hey, he's our man, let's give him a great big hand!!"

New C.I.A. Chief Tells Workers to Back Administration Policies

ASHINGTON, Nov. 16 - Porter J. Goss, the new intelligence chief, has told Central Intelligence Agency employees that their job is to "support the administration and its policies in our work,'' a copy of an internal memorandum shows.

"As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies," Mr. Goss said in the memorandum, which was circulated late on Monday. He said in the document that he was seeking "to clarify beyond doubt the rules of the road." (NY Times)
House Republicans proposed changing their rules last night to allow members indicted by state grand juries to remain in a leadership post, a move that would benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, according to GOP leaders.

The proposed rule change, which several leaders predicted would win approval at a closed meeting today, comes as House Republicans return to Washington feeling indebted to DeLay for the slightly enhanced majority they won in this month's elections. DeLay led an aggressive redistricting effort in Texas last year that resulted in five Democratic House members retiring or losing reelection. It also triggered a grand jury inquiry into fundraising efforts related to the state legislature's redistricting actions.
House Republicans adopted the indictment rule in 1993, when they were trying to end four decades of Democratic control of the House, in part by highlighting Democrats' ethical lapses. They said at the time that they held themselves to higher standards than prominent Democrats such as then-Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (Ill.), who eventually pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to prison. (from WP)

What A-holes. The Gang of Morality and Values (Republicans) will stop at nothing to impeach the "heinous" Clinton, yet they will excuse and easily forgive their own House leader if he ends up getting indicted. On top of that, they wish to reward him for the slimy & unprecedented redistricting he orchestrated in Texas.

Just more of the same from the GOP, hypocrisy of the highest order. Yet what does it matter since the public is -- sorry to say -- stupid enough to buy into Republicans being the more righteous political party. If Republicans wish to solely possess morality as their own, it's high time they show that it's deserved. As it is, that notion is laughable.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Amazing. From Juan Cole:
But insiders in Washington have told me enough stories about Powell victories behind the scenes that I am not sure the marginalization argument is decisive. Powell had an alliance with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the two of them could sometimes derail the wilder plans of the Department of Defense. Blair, and probably Powell, convinced Bush to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan before going on to an Iraq war. Imagine how dangerous the situation would be if the US were bogged down in Iraq as it is now, but Bin Laden's 40 training camps were still going full steam!

Incredible to think that Bush had to be talked into, convinced, to do Afghanistan first (!), before Iraq. Lord help us.
More Proof of Her Incompetence

Condi Rice was going to give a speech on 9-11-01, but for obvious reasons did not. What was the topic of this speech? Based on excerpts, she was to contrast money spent on counterterrorism (on Clinton's watch) versus that spent on the "Star Wars" missile defense system, making the tired and dumb-on-arrival point that more should be allocated to the latter. She eventually gave the speech about a year later, but the text was radically revised.

Here's an excerpt of the original text:
"And yes these new threats also require us to pay attention to other means of delivery besides missiles. We need to worry about the suitcase bomb, the car bomb and the vial of sarin released in the subway. That is why last year the federal government spent about $11 billion on counter-terrorism efforts, about twice as much as we did on missile defense. That is why we're working closely with friends, allies, and the broader international community on counterterrorism initiatives.

"And that is why in May the president appointed Vice President Cheney to oversee a coordinated national effort to better protect the U.S. homeland against a terror attack using WMD. But why not missile defenses as well?

"Why put deadbolt locks on your doors and stock up on cans of mace and then decide to leave your windows open? At the end of the day, do we really want to choose a course of action that gambles with America's security by choosing not to explore the additional measure of security that limited missile defenses could provide?"
Oh wonderful. This really bodes well:
Condoleezza Rice, who will be named as Colin L. Powell's replacement as early as today, has forged an extraordinarily close relationship with President Bush. But, paradoxically, many experts consider her one of the weakest national security advisers in recent history in terms of managing interagency conflicts.
Powell was considered a hero to the State Department bureaucracy because he won increases in funding and personnel, and many State Department officials are furious that the Bush White House frequently undercut Powell.

"State Department officials dislike her intensely because they love Powell and believe her staff demeaned the State Department," said one former State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he frequently interacts with Rice. (Washington Post)

Rice's "managerial skills were often called into question when running the NSC" and Richard Armitage "privately complained to Rice that the interagency process was dysfunctional," and as if this was not bad enough, now she heads an agency where her underlings apparently do not like her with a passion -- how can we expect anything good to come of this? As it was, Rice already proved her incompetence in her prior position and now she will face new challenges that we can only conclude will be absolutely beyond her capabilities to manage.

As a bonus, the article lists some of the dropped balls by Condi (which alone should've resulted in her dismissal.... instead, Richard Clarke resigns!):
The Sept. 11 commission report was particularly tough on Rice, portraying her as failing to act on repeated warnings in the first part of 2001 about the likelihood of a major terrorist attack on the United States.

For example, it noted that on Jan. 25, 2001, a few days after Bush took office, Richard A. Clarke, who had been held over from the previous administration as the counterterrorism coordinator for the NSC, wrote to Rice stating that "We urgently need . . . a Principals level review on the al Qaeda network." The report noted that Rice did not respond directly to Clarke's memo, and no such meeting of principals, or top officials, was held on terrorism until Sept. 4, 2001, although they met frequently on other issues, such as the Middle East peace process, Russia and the Persian Gulf.

The report also detailed several more specific warnings from Clarke to Rice in the spring and summer of 2001:

• On March 23, he told Rice that he thought terrorists might attack the White House with a truck bomb and also that "he thought there were terrorist cells within the United States, including al Qaeda."

• On May 29, Clarke wrote to Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, about possible assaults by a Palestinian associate of al Qaeda, adding that, "When these attacks occur, as they likely will, we will wonder what more we could have done to stop them."

• On June 25, Clarke informed Rice and Hadley that "six separate intelligence reports showed al Qaeda personnel warning of a pending attack," the report said.

• Three days later, he added that the pattern of al Qaeda activity indicating preparations for an attack "had reached a crescendo."

• On June 30, a briefing was given to top officials titled, "Bin Ladin Planning High-Profile Attacks."

The spike in reported al Qaeda activity ended in July, but senior intelligence analysts continued to be deeply concerned, the report noted, causing them to include in the Aug. 6 "President's Daily Brief" an article titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US."
Regarding Powell's exit, this choice line in today's Washington Post:
Powell's departure is also a victory for conservatives, removing the administration's most forceful advocate for negotiations and multilateral engagement on such issues as Middle East peace and curbing nuclear activities in Iran and North Korea.

That about says it all. To think this administration had a guy who had the audacity to advise against the Iraq invasion AND favored multilateral negotiations (vs. gun-slinging go-it-alone) AND had a great interest in Middle East peace and curbing the #1 danger facing our future security: nuclear weapon threats. Yes, absolutely, this guy just had to go, HE'S CRAZY!

As I wrote yesterday, Powell has very much himself to blame for his sad situation. Granted, he may not have seen what faced him early on in this administration, which is further testament to just how extreme things quickly became with Bush/Cheney after 2000 as even an inside guy like Powell did not foresee how abruptly things would turn for the worse. It did not take long for Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the like to marginalize Powell's influence. Powell quickly fell into quicksand and spent the better part of 3+ years reaching for a tree branch that remained always just out of reach.

Again, I don't wish to make excuses for Powell because there were plenty of opportunities for him to do what Paul O'Neill and Christie Whitman did, and yet for whatever reason he stayed put. This despite his falling from grace with the near complete loss of respect and eventually becoming a non-entity. As I wrote in September, he could've made one of the biggest statements in election-year history by resigning a month or two prior to Nov. 2nd, in effect having a degree of impact that was never afforded him during his tenure as Sec. of State. I believe he would've turned the tide in the election, creating enough stir to attract many undecided voters and leaving Rove with very little for spinning.

But it was not to be, and now we're likely to have to hear about his criticisms and regrets in a "60 Minutes" special or a soon-to-be-rushed-out book. Sorry Colin but I at least don't want to hear it now! A day late and a dollar short. Now that the terrible deed is done, do we really need to hear how bad it was for you? You will simply be confirming much of what is now already known, so what's the point? For shame.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Shocker! (Not)

Colin Powell announces he's outta here. Well it's about time. They've had him locked up in the basement for so long I'm surprised he's still alive.

It will be interesting to see if he'll remain fairly quiet in the weeks/months after his exit, or will he immediately begin the long and necessary process of repairing his well-tarnished reputation. Powell has no one to blame but himself for the ruin of his credibility; it's what happens when you associate with a bunch of incompetent buffoons. I'm sure he fully realizes he was in much better hands with Clinton/Gore, but all of that is past history.

What's truly frightening are the names being tossed around for his replacement, namely Rice or Wolfowitz. As with Goss, who stated he was not qualified to head the CIA before he was installed as head of the CIA, we'll see if this administration rewards those officials who should've been fired!

Side note, I wrote the following about Powell on Sept. 28th:
One Way For Kerry To Win, Instantly....

How? If Colin Powell were to suddenly resign. Think about it. It’s universally understood and accepted that Powell has lost all credibility and respect since being a part of this administration. Whereas prior to the Iraq debacle, most people, no matter the political persuasion, could at least take what he had to say at face value and believe that he was telling us the truth (at least as much as a political figure can tell the truth). Despite the fact he was not for the Iraq invasion and has labeled the Neocons in power “f*cking crazies,” he nonetheless complied and helped to shuck the crap that passed as intel. His willful negligence in this regard can never be forgotten or forgiven. At least others, like Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill, had enough dignity and self-respect to say enough is enough with this pack of psychos, but not Colin. For whatever reason(s), he has remained, though his whereabouts in the last several months remains in question (he’s currently serving the role of the crazy aunt locked in the cellar).

Powell could regain much of his stature and respect if out-of-the-blue, without consulting anyone, he called for a press conference and announced his resignation. Such news would be unprecedented in an election year and absolutely drive home a strong message, namely that to reelect GW given the state of affairs in the world would be a dire course of action for this country. Kerry/Edwards would be able to jump on this obvious implication of “no confidence,” hammering away to the point where even Karl Rove would be at a loss to spin it.

It would be a beautiful thing. We would be able to forgive Colin for many of his past indiscretions as we could assume this was his devious but righteous plan all along (even if he denied it). He’d be forever remembered for such a move. Granted, many would hate him with a passion and others would dedicate their lives to making sure his life was ruined, but it’s the price he should pay given what he’s done over the last few years. Ultimately, he has time to make amends.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

And now for some terrifically wise words (as usual) from Michael Kinsley, as he with tongue-firmly-in-cheek puts into perspective just which side of the political aisle the arrogant, judgmental elite reside (hint: not the Dems side), by addressing the GW base:

At the moment, though, one side of the great divide is being called upon for something closer to abjection than mere reconciliation.

So, yes, okay, fine. I'm a terrible person -- barely a person at all, really, and certainly not a real American -- because I voted for the losing candidate on Tuesday. If you insist -- and you do -- I will rethink my fundamental beliefs from scratch because they are shared by only 47 percent of the electorate.

And please let me, or any other liberal, know if there is anything else we can do to abase ourselves. Abandon our core values? Pander to yours? Not a problem. Happy to do it. Anything, anything at all, to stop this shower of helpful advice.

There's just one little request I have. If it's not too much trouble, of course. Call me profoundly misguided if you want. Call me immoral if you must. But could you please stop calling me arrogant and elitist?

I mean, look at it this way. (If you don't mind, that is.) It's true that people on my side of the divide want to live in a society where women are free to choose abortion and where gay relationships have full civil equality with straight ones. And you want to live in a society where the opposite is true. These are some of those conflicting values everyone is talking about. But at least my values -- as deplorable as I'm sure they are -- don't involve any direct imposition on you. We don't want to force you to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same gender, whereas you do want to close out those possibilities for us. Which is more arrogant?

We on my side of the great divide don't, for the most part, believe that our values are direct orders from God. We don't claim that they are immutable and beyond argument. We are, if anything, crippled by reason and open-mindedness, by a desire to persuade rather than insist. Which philosophy is more elitist? Which is more contemptuous of people who disagree?

He makes the point I recently made to a right-wing friend. The primary difference between the two sides is one wants to allow for freedoms to conduct oneself as one sees fit, whereas the other side wants to restrict such freedoms simply because that side believes they are wrong, and therefore all citizens should be forced to comply. Call me crazy but I thought true conservatives once stood for allowing more freedoms through less restrictions. I wonder where and when things deviated (hmm, could it have something to do with -- religion?).
I mentioned more than once prior to the election that Cheney's health was fair game. Four heart attacks and quadruple bypass surgery are, uh, nothing to sneeze at. Less than two weeks after Nov. 2nd, Cheney feels shortness of breath, undergoes 3 hours of test (he's fine, apparently).

On a separate note, many groups in Ohio continue to call for a recount there, given widespread news reports of irregularities that have surfaced in many of the counties. Meanwhile, NC has a semi-fiasco brewing, with thousands of votes wiped out due to computer error, and many more missing thanks to "procedural error." Here's a classic quote, "When you shine a brighter light on something, you're going to see problems there that you didn't see before," said Justin Moore, a computer scientist and consultant to N.C. Verified Voting.

That's just great! What a testament to the greatest democracy on earth. Shine some light on its voting system and like roaches, the problems appear and attempt to scurry away. Just lovely. Let's see if GW makes a concerted effort to get his GOP-controlled Congress to move swiftly on this HUGE mess -- hah! And rather than recognize that any problem exists at all, we'll continue to hear from the right-wingers that all is fine and we just need to stop whining.

I suppose that's what Bank of America or Citibank would say to their millions of customers if they from time to time would experience check-clearing problems. Oh sure, these mega-banks could proclaim that they have a 98% success rate and hope that sits fine with people. Well, the truth is I'm fairly certain the success rate is damn near 100% -- it would be an obvious nightmare for them if it wasn't! In fact, Bank Of America airs a TV commercial where they categorically state that of the billions of checks they process each year, they have a zero-tolerance policy for even ONE problem or mistake.

Why is it such banks are able to handle BILLIONS (not millions) of computer-operated transactions without one problem, and yet this same foolproof, never-in-doubt outcome appears to be out of reach for our voting system? Isn't the very essence of our democracy worth insuring that it be as seamlessly accurate as clearing a personal check?

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Oh Nicholas, Nicholas, how naive can one be?

In today's column, Kristof implores Democrats to change their approach to many issues, to rethink how they've approached things in the past and modify those ways as an attempt to make inroads into what he regards as a solidly red-state America. He uses gun control as an example.

I can't say I'm a die-hard reader of Kristof's column and I must say, given the few I have read, I don't feel I'm missing much. His prose is fluffy and light and very unimpressive. Just read any of Krugman's columns, and then one by Kristof, and you'll know what I mean.

Kristof's idea of the Dems modifying their tactics on this issue is to stress the health side, as opposed to the bans specifically. He wonders why things like child-proof guns are not currently in use, stating "We routinely make aspirin bottles childproof, but not guns." Hey, he's got something there! Why, no one's thought of THAT before! Wow, let's run with that one! Gads.

This idea is not new and has been proposed in the past. The problem? Yup, the NRA. You see Nicholas, it's not so much the Dems approach on this that's the #1 problem but rather the enormous power of lobbyists and money in our political system. Recall that in 1997, when President Clinton supported "trigger lock" legislation and issued an executive order mandating them for firearms of all federal law enforcement officers. The NRA was against this sensible action, stating, "Everyone knows that firearms must be stored safely, but most Americans feel that it is not the government`s business to dictate how people store things in their homes. There is no compelling need for such invasions of privacy for the following reasons:" and they went on to list several nebulous reasons. Their statement ends with this gem, "Separately, NRA`s award-winning 'Eddie Eagle GunSafe®' education program for children in grades pre-K through 6th grade has reached nearly 17 million students nationwide." The fact is the NRA plays hardball and they've been staunchly against such commensense measures -- where has Kristof been?

He then goes on to state, "One poll showed that 88 percent of the public favors requiring that guns be childproof. And such measures demonstrate the kind of fresh thinking that can keep alive not only thousands of Americans, but the Democratic Party as well." You've got to be kidding me. He actually feels that because a fat majority of the public favors something, that there's a good chance for political action to be taken. Huh? Does he know that for decades the environment has always scored over 75% positively on such polls when the public is asked about their concern for this issue and whether or not regulation is good? Yet, environmental legislation has been dramatically weakened on all fronts since 2000. Oh, and go ahead and search for polls on the internet about stem cell research. I found one by ABC News (June 2004) that had the public in favor of this research by a 58-30 margin, and yet that landslide opinion didn't seem to sway Bush or many other elected officals.

Since November 2nd, Democrats have been getting AMPLE advice on how they must change else never win an election again. Personally, I think such dire warnings are just a tad overblown for a number of reasons, but that aside, if the Dems are going to take advice from anyone, I would strongly recommend that they be very selective in lending their ear. The likes of Kristof can safely be ignored.

Deputy Chief Resigns From CIA
Agency Is Said to Be in Turmoil Under New Director Goss

Recall Goss telling Michael Moore, "I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified." Can you imagine saying this in a job interview, and getting the job!

The incompetence continues to display itself in full glory....

Friday, November 12, 2004

Facts Are A B*tch

The following will serve as both a helpful reminder as well as a factual history lesson for some regarding the Reagan legacy. There exists many a Republican voter who -- for whatever reason -- believe a vote for GW is equivalent to an approving nod to Reagan. Granted, GW himself has worked endlessly to foster this inaccurate image, whether it be living on the ranch, donning the cowboy hat, attempting to appear as a regular dude, etc., and too many in the base eat this up as truth.

It's worthwhile to read the article Josh Green wrote last year as it helps to clear the air concerning the widely accepted belief that Reagan was 100% a true-blue conservative. It's simply not true. In fact, in many ways, Bush makes Reagan look like McGovern! More than one Reagan groupie (and that is a fair descriptor as the Cult of Reagan has grown exponentially over the last several years, interestingly picking up speed as the GW era as proven to be a complete failure) will contest this article as they've come to embrace and worship much of the folklore surrounding Reagan. As time passes, his stature grows and the facts get white-washed and even expunged.

When reading the piece, make sure to note these passages:

* Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. His assault on entitlements never materialized; instead he saved Social Security in 1983. And he repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised.

* Rather than abolish the departments of Energy and Education, as he had promised to do if elected president, Reagan added a new cabinet-level department--one of the largest federal agencies--the Department of Veterans Affairs.

* [Re smaller government]: the number of workers on the federal payroll rose by 61,000 under Reagan. (By comparison, under Clinton, the number fell by 373,000.)

* The following year, Reagan made one of the greatest ideological about-faces in the history of the presidency, agreeing to a $165 billion bailout of Social Security. In almost every way, the bailout flew in the face of conservative ideology. It dramatically increased payroll taxes on employees and employers, brought a whole new class of recipients--new federal workers--into the system, and, for the first time, taxed Social Security benefits, and did so in the most liberal way: only those of upper-income recipients.

* Raising taxes is exactly what Reagan did. He did not always instigate those hikes or agree to them willingly--but he signed off on them. One year after his massive tax cut, Reagan agreed to a tax increase to reduce the deficit that restored fully one-third of the previous year's reduction. (In a bizarre bit of self-deception, Reagan, who never came to terms with this episode of ideological apostasy, persuaded himself that the three-year, $100 billion tax hike--the largest since World War II--was actually "tax reform" that closed loopholes in his earlier cut and therefore didn't count as raising taxes.)

* Faced with looming deficits, Reagan raised taxes again in 1983 with a gasoline tax and once more in 1984, this time by $50 billion over three years, mainly through closing tax loopholes for business. Reagan raised taxes a grand total of four times just between 1982-84.

* The historic Tax Reform Act of 1986, though it achieved the supply side goal of lowering individual income tax rates, was a startlingly progressive reform. The plan imposed the largest corporate tax increase in history--an act utterly unimaginable for any conservative to support today. When Reagan's conservative acting chief economic adviser, William Niskanen, was apprised of the plan he replied, "Walter Mondale would have been proud."

* In 1975, the Democratic senator from Louisiana had passed into law the earned income tax credit (EITC), essentially a wage subsidy for the working poor. Long's measure was tiny to begin with and had dwindled to insignificance by the time Reagan agreed to expand it in 1986 as part of the tax reform act. Despite years of opposing social insurance programs, Reagan's support of the EITC gave rise to what has become one of the most effective antipoverty measures the federal government has ever devised--by the late 1990s, the EITC was lifting 4.3 million people out of poverty every year. As evidence of its popularity with liberals, Clinton dramatically expanded the EITC in 1993.

* Reagan embraced Mikhail Gorbachev and initiated a series of negotiations that ultimately alarmed everyone in his administration. Hardliners like Patrick Buchanan, Richard Perle, and Caspar Weinberger reacted in horror to the very idea of engaging the Soviets in such talks, warning against the "grand illusion" of peace.

* As with other conservative media efforts--Rush Limbaugh, Fox News Channel, The Washington Times--the purpose of the Reagan legacy project is not to deliver accuracy, but enhance political leverage. But, as Reagan himself liked to cite from John Adams, facts are stubborn things.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

(thanks Oliver Willis)
It's sort of pathetic. With stridently religious and rights-stripping Ashcroft now out the door, I feel relieved. However, with the announcement of Alberto Gonzales as his replacement, my initial reaction was "OK, he's not the best choice, he authored the infamous memo that was linked to the Abu Ghraib atrocities and he's been a strong backer of the extremely flawed Patriot Act, but he just CAN'T be worse than Ashcroft!"

The fact is nearly anyone Bush chose would've looked moderate in comparison to the guy exiting. In that respect, many may get duped into giving Gonzales a pass rather than putting him through the grilling he deserves. Yet, if this is a pathetic attempt by GW to offer up someone he at least believes to be less divisive than Ashcroft, well I don't know how to react. On the one hand, he could've nominated another person who was more moderate and also more deserving, but perhaps in his own shallow, delusional way he is trying to install someone who he at least believes to be less of a lightening rod. Perhaps.

My initial reaction here reminds me a bit of when he "won" in 2000. I didn't know quite what to make of things. Obviously, I was disappointed and frustrated that Gore got screwed, but once realizing GW was to be dealt with, I actually thought there at least was the chance he could be a moderate president. His father wasn't exactly off-the-charts to the right, and then there was all that talk about being a uniter and not a divider.

The first sign to me that all of that was bunk and we were in for four years of extremism and hardcore right-wing partisanship was when GW nominated Ashcroft for AG. With this recent nomination, I find myself wanting to think he might actually work to crank it down a bit in the next four years. I know it's likely folly, and if anything things will get worse, not better, but unlike most of the screwy right-wingers who read this blog who refuse to give anyone a break on the other side, I'm willing to allow for the possibility of this happening.

To me, the real key will come in how he handles the environment. For the last four years, under the radar, legislation on this front has been weakened on a massive scale. Industry lobbyists have been installed in positions of governmental power to reward their former employers. Let's see if GW does anything in this lower-profile yet enormously important area to show that he'd like to change. I'll be watching -- closely.

Note Thomas Jefferson's quote above -- truly a man of genius and a founding father who was light years ahead of his time.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Daily Kos the day after the election:
The assertion by pundits/Bushies that exit polling was 'way off', and thus, exit polls, which showed an easy Kerry victory in both Ohio and Florida, were incorrectly skewed and did not represent the electorate, is completely bogus.
This is disproved in minutes by simply noting the entire rest of the suite of exit polls conducted by AP and distributed to the news media.

Notice, if you will, that states with a narrow or wide Bush margin of victory NOT called Ohio or Florida, project perfectly. Missouri leans to Bush in exit polls, and leaned to him in the vote. Tennessee likewise was favorable to Bush in exit polls, and it showed in the final results with a clear Bush margin of victory. Pick a state, any state, there is not one single exit poll off by more than a few percentage points in any semi-competitive race. Not one.

Except 2. Ohio and Florida, the latter of which has already been "awarded" to Bush, and the former, which appears to nearly be a lock for him as he is up 3 percentage points with 80 percent of the electorate tallied. George Bush's win in each of these 2 states is nowhere near what exit polls suggest. In Ohio, Kerry had a small but noticeable lead with both male and female voters, a rare thing for him as males have tended to favor Bush in this election by a small margin. Likewise, independent voters clearly broke for Kerry, by a 21 percent margin, 60-39. This is not anywhere near the result we are seeing now, and along with Florida, whom I will get to in a moment, it is a clear and blatant sign of voter fraud. I don't use that most dangerous of "F" words lightly, but I must call a wolf a wolf and a sheep a sheep, and this whole setup stinks like Karl Rove after he's ran 15 feet.

... While Mr. Kerry had 6 percent less support from his party than Mr. Bush did, he scored among woman yet again (54 percent of Florida's electorate) by a 52-48 margin, small but important, while losing men (46 percent of the electorate) 47-52, essentially the same margin. Independents, however, broke heavily for John Kerry, favoring him a staggering 60-38 over Mr. Bush. At the very least, this would suggest a very close race, and certainly not the lopsided blowout it turned out to be.
At the risk of appearing to beat a dead horse, when I've discussed the importance of the evangelical/deeply-religious vote turnout for Bush this past election, I thought I was simply stating a fact. It was a very big factor in the result. But also it's important to point out (as I have) that typically this type of voter focuses on just a few issues (abortion, gays, stem cell) and appears to ignore many other perhaps more important issues.

Tom Tomorrow writes this:
But the most important advantage Republicans have may be their base of support among Christian evangelicals. The task of getting out the vote is made much easier when you have local institutions in place through which to actually reach the vote.
Democrats used to have a similar base—it was called organized labor.

I've written about this before and it remains an outrage. It's not enough to say that Republicans have an advantage due to locally-based churches that work to "reach the vote" and then compare it to labor unions. There's a huge difference here! Churches are tax-exempt organizations which last time I checked are not allowed to participate in politics and take sides in election races. If that were the case, they are supposed to lose their tax-exempt status. I do not believe labor unions fall under the same legal constraint.

Of course, if shoe was on the other foot and ministers and preachers were voicing support for Democrats, we'd hear the Republicans scream bloody murder about this obvious wrong doing. But instead, Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly -- the whole lot of them -- not a peep.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Ah, Now That's Better (And More Accurate).

The electoral map, drawn according to what matters during elections -- population, not acreage:

Sunday, November 07, 2004

EMAIL OF THE DAY: "Have to disagree with David Brooks and evidently you. To point out that the evangelicals voted in the same proportion for Bush as they did in 2000 gets a fact right and misses the point. What matters is that the Bush vote by these folks did not erode in the face of catastrophic management of post-invasion Iraq, prisoner atrocities, transformation of the surplus into a suffocating deficit and terrible job performance. It seems to me that their religious views trump everything. You switched your vote - why didn't they? The answer is complex, but you can bet it includes homophobia deftly catalyzed by Mr. Rove et. al." He's got a point, no?
Yes, he does. That's what I've been writing about here for days. It's not just that the evangelical/born-again vote was a big contributor to Bush's win, but also that this block of voters is like money in the bank. Karl Rove is fully aware of how to nail down their votes, quick and easy. Throw them some red-meat Bible issues (gay marriage, abortion) and presto, you have their vote no matter what else may happen in the world. It's robotic in nature. The economy, Iraq, the environment, healthcare -- it all means zilch to this voting block as long as you line up correctly on those few religious issues. That's exactly what the emailer is saying, that in 2000, voters at least had a blank slate with regards to GW and there still remained some hope with his administration. But four years later, after a laundry list of failures, this same % of evang. voters showed up to vote for GW. Exactly my point! I've seen figures that say the % is even higher than in 2000 (as Rove had hoped), but irregardless my point remains -- "their religious views trump everything."
With the GOP preaching comes their bedrock belief it's all about winning. They generously offer us a list of items on why we lost and what we should do about it. What they don't see (much because they see trees for forest, i.e. they're too close) is whereas their side (ala Rove) is all about winning at all cost, any way possible, we however are not. Yes, we want to win (duh), but we want to do so playing fair, using facts not lies, not resorting to hatchet jobs on candidates (see McCain in SC).

See, we wouldn't be able to sleep at night if we conducted ourselves like the way the GOP/Rove operated. It appears Karl Rove sleeps like a baby (he's been doing this stuff for many years) and perhaps much of the Republicans are simply ignorant to the truths about their own party (or wish to remain in denial). So be it, they can win and yet be wrong and have behaved wrongfully about many things, it simply doesn't bother them. As has been said for some time (and was shown by Newt Gingrich when he was in charge), power (or winning) is everything to the GOP, period. Machiavelli is #1 to them (even before God or Jesus). I assure you, Karl Rove is reading "The Prince" each night before bed, NOT the Bible.

So please right-wingers, enough of the lecturing and gloating. We just don't play the game like you folks. (Trust me, that fact by itself annoys many a right-winger; they want us to likewise play dirty so they don't "look" (feel?) bad, like the bully who pummels away at the guy who refuses to fight back). Sure, we'd perhaps have a better shot of winning if we distorted more, lied more, enforced secretive laws and restrictions more (to hide things), had a 100% (not 96% or 98%) partisan TV network (Fox) at our beck and call, appealed to the publics most vulnerable emotions (fear, going to Hell, hatred). But alas, we don't, certainly not in any way to the degree that we've seen from the Republicans. Why do you think Bush supporters more often than not don't even know what GW truly stands for re the issues? (answer: because the GOP machine (Rove) are so good at twisting and distorting). Look, when was the last time you heard of a Dem in office who spoke out against his/her party because it was drifting too far off course? But we've heard many more Republicans muttering such language, further showing that all is not lost and that there are still some moderate folks in the GOP ready to make waves (note: during first term, intense pressure is there to behave; this pressure is greatly diminished in second term, lame duck possesses MUCH less going-forward power).

Sure we'd like to win, but to do so according to the GOP playbook?? No thank you, would rather be a "loser." As my blog title clearly states, I'm about informing of the truth -- not circulating whatever garbage it takes to manipulate enough votes to achieve electoral victory. A BIG difference, but the right-wingers undoubtedly scratch their head in befuddlement....

Saturday, November 06, 2004

More "elitism" (written with pinky firmly extended):
The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry.
Here is how ignorance works: First, they put the fear of God into you—if you don't believe in the literal word of the Bible, you will burn in hell. Of course, the literal word of the Bible is tremendously contradictory, and so you must abdicate all critical thinking, and accept a simple but logical system of belief that is dangerous to question. A corollary to this point is that they make sure you understand that Satan resides in the toils and snares of complex thought and so it is best not try it.

Next, they tell you that you are the best of a bad lot (humans, that is) and that as bad as you are, if you stick with them, you are among the chosen. This is flattering and reassuring, and also encourages you to imagine the terrible fates of those you envy and resent. American politicians ALWAYS operate by a similar sort of flattery, and so Americans are never induced to question themselves. That's what happened to Jimmy Carter—he asked Americans to take responsibility for their profligate ways, and promptly lost to Ronald Reagan, who told them once again that they could do anything they wanted. The history of the last four years shows that red state types, above all, do not want to be told what to do—they prefer to be ignorant. As a result, they are virtually unteachable.

Third, and most important, when life grows difficult or fearsome, they (politicians, preachers, pundits) encourage you to cling to your ignorance with even more fervor. But by this time you don't need much encouragement—you've put all your eggs into the ignorance basket, and really, some kind of miraculous fruition (preferably accompanied by the torment of your enemies, and the ignorant always have plenty of enemies) is your only hope. If you are sufficiently ignorant, you won't even know how dangerous your policies are until they have destroyed you, and then you can always blame others.

The reason the Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections is simple: A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know, decided to make use of the religious right in their class war against the middle class and against the regulations that were protecting those whom they considered to be their rightful prey—workers and consumers. The architects of this strategy knew perfectly well that they were exploiting, among other unsavory qualities, a long American habit of virulent racism, but they did it anyway, and we see the outcome now—Cheney is the capitalist arm and Bush is the religious arm. They know no boundaries or rules. They are predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant. Lots of Americans like and admire them because lots of Americans, even those who don't share those same qualities, don't know which end is up. Can the Democrats appeal to such voters? Do they want to? The Republicans have sold their souls for power. Must everyone? (Jane Smiley,
Robert Reich:
Democrats used to talk in moral terms—about fighting for civil rights, for example. What should Democrats say now and in the future about public morality? That it's morally wrong to give huge tax cuts to the rich while cutting social programs for the poor and working class—especially when the gap between the rich and everyone else is wider than it's been in more than a century. That we have a moral obligation to give every American child a good education and decent health care. That it's morally wrong that millions of Americans who work full time don't earn enough to keep their families out of poverty. That corporate executives who steal money from their investors and employees are morally reprehensible. And that it's morally wrong to kill over a hundred thousand Iraqis and send over a thousand young Americans to their deaths for a cause that is still undefined, in a war that was unnecessary.
In catching up with some reading, this from the Nov. 8th New Republic:
Bush last week approved a grotesque and completely indefensible corporate tax bill. If anybody needs a final reminder of this administration’s lack of concern for the national interest—indeed, the lack of a policy process that could even conceivably
advance it—this is it.
One lobbyist involved in drafting the bill confessed to The Washington Post that the whole thing represented “a new level of sleaze.” In the end, the breaks given out will substantially exceed the cost of the rescinded subsidy, driving the deficit even higher.
But the ultimate responsibility lies with the Bush administration. It is in Congress’s nature to act like a pig at the trough.The reason this sort of spectacle is so rare is that most presidents have some sense of responsibility to the national interest.
Previous presidents have done things that have alienated conservatives or moderates or liberals. But is there any president in recent memory who has enacted major legislation that is universally regarded, excepting its direct beneficiaries, as bad public policy? If so, there certainly can’t be one who, like Bush, has done so over and over again. (We’re referring here to the farm subsidies, the Medicare bill, and other giveaways listed above.)
From, the high IQ states apparently voted for Kerry and the low for Bush. Not surprising.

Oh, and this nugget, "there is a direct correlation that has been pointed out by the Boston Globe between the divorce rate per state, and who they voted for, as it turns out, the higher the percentage of people voting for Bush, the higher the divorce rate. That is very interesting considering many people voted based on 'morality'." And this ties in with the fact that the abortion rate went down every year in Clinton's 8 years (declined 17% in total), but has reversed and risen during GW's reign. Do the moralists know this, or even provide this info? Me thinks not. Another fact conveniently held secret.
Kristof's column today is another in a series of articles of late that attempt to offer advice to Democrats on how to reverse things -- as if they lost this past Tuesday by 20+%. The gist of his message has to do with packaging or message conveyed, as opposed to an appeal to reason when it comes to embracing the red-state concerns. In other words, Dems don't have to really agree with these red-state issues, but they must compromise and throw them some bones. Oh great, what a solution.

He makes some fairly obvious points, and delivers them in a 1-2-3 fashion as if it's a no-brainer fix, but really, who are we kidding? Part of the problem (if you want to call it that) with the Dems (vs. the GOP) is our so-called base is comprised of a wider-net, more complex set of voter groups. The DNC cannot simply bag at least half the base by throwing them two issues (abortion and gays) and then focus strictly on the other 50+%. Fortunately, we don't have that luxury. We need to win over folks more so via reason, facts, and truly showing them why we're for or against something. We don't use symbols like God, Jesus, or Reagan to quickly win over entire voting blocks, as if they're mindless robots. Our "problem" is simply not that easy to solve.

So, according to much of the advice floating around, we're to put aside any hostile sentiments or opinions. As Kristof writes,
The Democrats need a similar rebranding. But the risk is that the party will blame others for its failures - or, worse, blame the American people for their stupidity (as London's Daily Mirror screamed in a Page 1 headline this week: "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?").

Even though many of us believe there is a HIGH level of sheer ignorance running through the red states (more than one poll has shown GW supporters were more uninformed -- by far -- about what there guy actually stood for than did Kerry supporters), we're supposed to repress that knowledge and make nice-nice, or "compromise" more with the likes of Tom DeLay. Many a snide right-winger gripes, "to not do so is to just keep losing."

My ass! To drift over to the dark side now is likely to be a huge mistake. Yes, we need to sharpen our message(s) and continue to better organize and mobilize, but as per guns and abortion and gay marriage, or even tax cuts, Iraq, and social security, I believe the key is to be patient. Stick with pointing out right from wrong based on the FACTS and in time (a year? two?) their stack of cards will come tumbling down. When that inevitably happens, we want to have established some stark contrast (vs. anything wishy-washy they can nail us on, e.g. Kerry's record on voting for or against anything Iraq-related).

Kristof assumes this continued rightward drift in the country is a done deal, not likely to reverse, no way no how. I disagree. We'll never appeal to the hard Evangelical types, but so be it, we don't have (want?) to. There are plenty of reasonable, more moderate Republicans who are just looking for a reason NOT to vote for GW, at least enough to easily reverse Tuesday's 51%/48% "mandate" win.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Kevin Drum:
CHRISTIAN EXTREMISM....Today in the LA Times, we are treated to the dulcet tones of local Christian talk-radio host Frank Pastore:
The left bewitches with its potions and elixirs, served daily in its strongholds of academe, Hollywood and old media. It vomits upon the morals, values and traditions we hold sacred: God, family and country. As we learned Tuesday, it is clear the left holds the majority of Americans, the majority of us, in contempt.

Read the whole thing. Really. I wish the Times and other mainstream big-city newspapers would publish this kind of thing more often. Christian extremists mostly talk amongst themselves, and it would help galvanize liberals to actually hear the way they talk more often.

Last night I wrote a post suggesting that there were some cultural conservatives we could reason with, and there were some we couldn't. This is an example of the latter. Our job isn't to compromise with these guys in any way, it's to persuade a majority of our fellow citizens to reject their brand of theocratic hatred. Publicizing their spittle flecked rantings is a good way to start.
Get Ready For The Implosion
Bush himself is likely to suffer the malaise and confusion that has beset every second-term president since Franklin Roosevelt. The suppressed revolt over foreign policy in his party is likely to break out. As a lame duck, he will have to contend with a House leadership unwilling to be pushed around. And he will be faced with decisions--including appointments to the Supreme Court--in which he will have to choose between infuriating his core constituencies or inciting more GOP defections in states like Colorado and Virginia. Bush got himself elected by waging a successful culture war; but that is not going to help him in Washington--or around the world--for the next four years. (

And as Krugman wrote:
This election did not prove the Republicans unbeatable. Mr. Bush did not win in a landslide. Without the fading but still potent aura of 9/11, when the nation was ready to rally around any leader, he wouldn't have won at all. And future events will almost surely offer opportunities for a Democratic comeback.

I don't hope for more and worse scandals and failures during Mr. Bush's second term, but I do expect them. The resurgence of Al Qaeda, the debacle in Iraq, the explosion of the budget deficit and the failure to create jobs weren't things that just happened to occur on Mr. Bush's watch. They were the consequences of bad policies made by people who let ideology trump reality.
Does this mean that the Democrats are condemned to permanent minority status? No. The religious right - not to be confused with religious Americans in general - isn't a majority, or even a dominant minority. It's just one bloc of voters, whom the Republican Party has learned to mobilize with wedge issues like this year's polarizing debate over gay marriage.

Rather than catering to voters who will never support them, the Democrats - who are doing pretty well at getting the votes of moderates and independents - need to become equally effective at mobilizing their own base. In fact, they have made good strides, showing much more unity and intensity than anyone thought possible a year ago. But for the lingering aura of 9/11, they would have won. What they need to do now is develop a political program aimed at maintaining and increasing the intensity. That means setting some realistic but critical goals for the next year.

Get ready for the GOP to implode as the second term becomes unglued as the incompetence truly catches up with GW (word is many in his first term administration are lined up at the door to leave / resign). In addition, we should heed Paul Krugman's advice and just continue to organize and pour it on. He is so right about 9-11 for if it were not for the lingering tragic memory of that day, Bush would've got demolished. Oh sure, the religious anti-gay/abortion folks would've voted for him, but likely not the millions of more reasonable Republican voters who went with him this time due to fear and terror threat. The country has a short memory but try to recall the fate of GW on Sept. 10, 2001 -- he was toast. What the Dems should NOT succumb to is what will undoubtedly happen to the GOP (they're known for this) and that is infighting & power struggles.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Josh Marshall:
It would be up to the president, I thought of writing, to show concrete signs of a willingness not to govern in the divisive and factional spirit from which he's governed in the last four years.

And then there's this from his comments today: "We've worked hard and gained many new friends, and the result is now clear -- a record voter turnout and a broad, nationwide victory."

This is the touchstone and the sign. A 'broad, nationwide victory'? He must be kidding. Our system is majority rule. And 51% is a win. But he's claiming a mandate.

"A broad, nationwide victory"?

It would almost be comical if it weren't for the seriousness of what it portends. This election cut the nation in two. A single percentage point over 50% is not broad. A victory that carried no states in the Northeast, close to none in the Industrial midwest is not nationwide, and none on the west coast is not nationwide.

And yet he plans to use this narrow victory as though it were a broad mandate, starting right back with the same strategy that has already come near to tearing this country apart.

Worst president in history.
Andrew Sullivan:
A MANDATE FOR CULTURE WAR: That's Bill Bennett's conclusion. He won't be the only one. What we're seeing, I think, is a huge fundamentalist Christian revival in this country, a religious movement that is now explicitly political as well. It is unsurprising, of course, given the uncertainty of today's world, the devastating attacks on our country, and the emergence of so many more liberal cultures in urban America. And it is completely legitimate in this country for such views to be represented in public policy, however much I disagree with them. But the intensity of the passion, and the inherently totalist nature of religiously motivated politics means deep social conflict if we are not careful. Our safety valve must be federalism. We have to live and let live. As blue states become more secular, and red states become less so, the only alternative to a national religious war is to allow different states to pursue different options. That goes for things like decriminalization of marijuana, abortion rights, stem cell research and marriage rights. Forcing California and Mississippi into one model is a recipe for disaster. Federalism is now more important than ever. I just hope that Republican federalists understand this. I fear they don't.
For those who doubt my assertion that the religious vote was BY FAR the biggest reason or factor in GW's win, this from one of their own:
Exulting in their electoral victories, President Bush's conservative supporters immediately turned to staking out mandates for an ambitious agenda of long-cherished goals, including privatizing Social Security, banning same-sex marriage, remaking the Supreme Court and overturning the court's decisions in support of abortion rights.

"Now comes the revolution," Richard Viguerie, the dean of conservative direct mail, told about a dozen fellow movement stalwarts gathered around a television here, tallying up their Senate seats in the earliest hours of the morning. "If you don't implement a conservative agenda now, when do you?"

By midday, however, fights over the spoils had already begun, as conservatives debated the electorate's verdict on the war in Iraq, the Bush administration's spending and the administration's hearty embrace of traditionalist social causes.

Conservative Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, were first in line to stake their claims, citing polls showing that a plurality of Bush supporters named "moral values" as the most important issue and arguing that a drive to ban same-sex marriage boosted turnout in Ohio.

"Make no mistake - conservative Christians and 'values voters' won this election for George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress," Mr. Viguerie wrote in a memorandum sent to other prominent conservatives. "It's crucial that the Republican leadership not forget this - as much as some will try," he said, underlining the final clause.
Here comes all the advice, usually from the right (you want to listen to the "enemy"?). Tim Noah makes some very good points:
The process of moving the Democrats rightward has no end point, because every time the Democrats shift rightward the Republicans respond by shifting a little further rightward so they can continue to denounce the Democratic position as radical leftism. That explains why the GOP of today is so much further right than the GOP of the Reagan era, when Republicans were still willing to support expansion of the earned income tax credit for low-income workers; more progressive taxation of Social Security benefits; arms control; and promotion of human rights abroad. (This rightward shift was documented compellingly by Joshua Green in "Reagan's Liberal Legacy" in the January/February 2001 Washington Monthly.) In theory, there ought to be a point where the GOP has moved so far to the right that nobody will vote for its candidates. But in practice, I'm not confident that such a point exists.

By the time I had gone to bed, the chorus of pundits had fixed on a single tune, as they always do, and remarkably quickly, too. (Do they watch one another's feeds in the green room?) They had dusted off the old theme that the Democrats need to "reach out" more to the "heartland." Reach out? How, exactly? Forget that these folks blindly ignored all objective reality -- and their own best economic and national-security interests -- and voted for Bush. Look what they did at the Senate level. In Kentucky, they refused to use even basic sanity as a litmus test, and reelected a guy with apparent late-stage dementia; in Oklahoma, they tapped a fellow who wants to execute doctors who perform abortions, who was sued for sterilizing a woman against her will, who pled guilty to Medicaid fraud, and who largely opposes federal subsidies, even for his own state; in Louisiana, they embraced a man who has made back-door deals with David Duke and who was revealed to have had a long-running affair with a prostitute; in South Carolina, they went with a guy who thinks all gay teachers should be fired; and in Alaska, they reelected a woman who was appointed by her father to the job after a spectacularly undistinguished career as an obscure state senator. And compared with the rest of the GOP Class of '04, she's the freaking prom queen. These are the stellar elected officials that the "heartland" has foisted on the rest of us.

"Reach out" to these voters? Yeah. Then boil your hand till it's sterilized.

So what are their issues, anyway? They're "cultural and moral values," we keep hearing. Well, they voted in a president who ran up the largest deficits in history, saddling our children and grandchildren with mountains of debt to pay for a tax cut that largely skewed to the wealthiest Americans; underfunded his own education initiative by $9 billion; threw more than a million more families into poverty; lost more jobs than any president since Hoover; saw 5 million Americans lose their healthcare on his watch; demoted the office of counterterrorism and ignored months' worth of dire warnings about an attack in the months running up to 9/11, and after 9/11, fought the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, fought the formation of the 9/11 Commission, and diverted hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of troops away from the war on terror to fight a war of choice in Iraq, where we've lost more than 1,000 young Americans. Those soldiers who are lucky enough to make it home face cuts in their benefits and combat pay, as well as veterans' hospital closures.

Oh, and on a personal note, Bush and Vice President Cheney have been convicted of drunken driving three times between them, and both evaded the draft while hawkishly supporting the Vietnam War; huge questions still remain about Bush's National Guard tenure, while Cheney's story -- five deferments -- is a bit neater and more straightforward. But they do oppose gay marriage, affirmative action and a woman's right to choose. Ah -- now we're getting somewhere on what these "cultural and moral issues" are out in the "heartland." Bush and Cheney hate and fear the same people they do.

And how, exactly, are the Democrats supposed to counter this? Out-pander Karl Rove? Out-lie Dick Cheney? Out-fearmonger George Bush? Even if the Democrats were inclined to do all three -- and after this election, I'm betting they'd be willing to give it their best shot -- what are the odds, really, that they, or anybody, could succeed?
To me, the heartland of this country is anywhere that people work their asses off to make their lives better for their families. They stay true to their better angels no matter how miserable things get or how much easier it would be to succumb to hate and irrational fear. They read, and listen, and look for the truth and stay informed about what's really going on, no matter how grim the news. They don't live in Fox News cocoons, they don't blast Rush Limbaugh from their pickups, and they don't vote blindly for the guys whose prejudices most neatly line up with their own. Their concerns are genuine, their values are consistent, their principles are rock-solid, and their hearts are true.

They may not go around saying, "God bless America," but these days, they're probably praying that He'll save America. Because God knows the people in the "heartland" won't. (Janet Sullivan,

Or rather, America needs to be saved from these people in the "heartland." Have faith, stay vigilent, the day will come.