Thursday, November 30, 2006

Colin Powell is seemingly popping up out of obscurity to make a statement on a key issue and then fading away until he suddenly reappears with something else to say.

In September, he came out on the side of the three senators (Warner, Graham, McCain) who at the time (before they caved) were at odds with Bush's detainee torture bill.

Recently Powell has stated that indeed Iraq is in a civil war, and it's high time people recognize this fact.

Meanwhile, a five-page secret report, written by Col. Peter Devlin, a senior and seasoned military intelligence officer with the Marine Expeditionary Force, states that in Anbar "nearly all government institutions from the village to provincial levels have disintegrated or have been thoroughly corrupted and infiltrated by Al Qaeda."

Yes, Al-Qaeda is now running the show in parts of Iraq. Just incredible. And Sadr's Mahdi army has approximately 50,000 members, making it a larger, more unified force than the official Iraqi army.

But for Bush, the important thing is to battle the war of words and labeling.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

After a much-needed holiday hiatus, I'm back.

How bad does it need to get in Iraq before it's finally labeled a "civil war"? I realize this administration will always opt for taking what is real and then try its darndest to frame it in a fictional way for public consumption.

Just the day after Thanksgiving, car bombings killed over 200 people. I thought Cheney et al said the pre-Nov. 7th violence was purposefully orchestrated to influence our elections, of course implying the mayhem would subside once Election Day passed....? Hmm, go figure.

Many experts have stated that Iraq has been in a civil war (click here, here, here). However, Tony Snow disagrees, stating it's not a civil war since "it's not clear that they are operating as a unified force. You don't have a clearly identifiable leader."

What, like our North vs. South? So if there's no General Lee, then no civil war? These guys are truly nuts.

Meanwhile, Dan Froomkin noticed that Robin Wright wrote in the Washington Post, ""In the history of U.S. foreign policy, there's been nothing like it: a panel outside government trying to bail the United States out of a prolonged and messy war."

Doesn't this "revelation" regarding the Iraq Study Group in and of itself signify Bush's war is a failure? It is indeed Daddy shoving Junior aside, looking to once again bail him out of trouble. Only this time the mess GW made is resulting in thousands upon thousands of deaths not to mention the spending of hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer money.

I've written several times here before about how it should never be forgotten how we got into this war to begin with, the lies, the Downing Street memos, the WMD and "yellow cake", etc. etc.

Mark Danner has an excellent take on this:
As the war's presumed ending—constructed from carefully crafted images of triumph, of dictators' statues cast down and presidents striding forcefully across aircraft carrier decks—has flickered and vanished, receding into the just-out-of-grasp future ("a decision for the next president," the pre-election President Bush had said), the war's beginning has likewise melted away, the original rationale obscured in a darkening welter of shifting intelligence, ideological controversy, and conflicting claims, all of it hemmed in now on all sides by the mounting dead.
The result is that the wave of change the President and his officials were so determined to set in course by unleashing American military power may well turn out to be precisely the wave of Islamic radicalism that they had hoped to prevent.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

As GW continues to remain very unpopular to say the least, I continue to come across the occasional "reformed" far right-winger who has harshly condemned Bush for not being a true conservative, one more like Ronald Reagan.

Can we stop this already. I've written here before about how it's somewhat of a distortion to have Reagan stand for all things ultimately conservative. While yes, he was not exactly a moderate, but in comparison to Bush he was, and with regards to GW and conservative values, Bush is much closer to being a true conservative than Reagan ever was.

It's about a month old, but Peter Beinart wrote about this subject in TNR. Regarding this growing consensus that GW has strayed far from the ways of Reagan, Beinart writes:
Rarely has so widespread a view been so wrong. In fact, Bush is not merely conservative; he is more conservative than Ronald Reagan, the man whose ideological legacy he has supposedly betrayed....To listen to Bush's critics, you would think that discretionary, nonsecurity-related spending has exploded on his watch. But it hasn't. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has shown, when you take account of inflation and population growth, it grew a mere 2 percent between 2001 and 2006. And, as a percentage of GDP, it actually fell. What has exploded -- rising 32 percent after inflation and population growth -- is spending on defense, homeland security, and international affairs. And the people most responsible for those increases are conservatives themselves, who demanded an expansive war on terrorism.
Compare all this with Reagan. For starters, domestic, nondefense discretionary spending was higher, on average, under the Gipper. Reagan made no effort to privatize Social Security, even though its 1983 fiscal crisis offered him a golden opportunity. Instead, he raised the retirement age and raised taxes. In fact, while Bush followed his initial 2001 tax cut with three more, Reagan followed his large 1981 cut with tax hikes in 1982, 1983, and 1984. Today, conservatives remember Reagan as an anti-government crusader. But, at the time, many called him a coward.
Bush has now appointed two Supreme Court justices whom the Christian right adores. By contrast, Reagan stuck by his 1981 nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor even after Jerry Falwell said that every good Christian should oppose her. Viguerie himself attacked Reagan for siding with the liberal establishment, and his fears proved well-founded. Not only did O'Connor support abortion rights, but Reagan's third Supreme Court appointee, Anthony Kennedy, also voted to uphold Roe v.Wade.
The latest [issue] is immigration, where Bush has been widely scorned for supposedly backing amnesty for illegal immigrants. Where on earth could he have gotten that idea? From Reagan, of course, who, in 1986, signed a bill granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Then there is foreign policy....As National Review's Romesh Ponnuru noted in June 2003, when Bush launched the Iraq war almost everyone who considers himself a conservative did support it. In fact, Bush's foreign policy has proved more faithful to conservative principles than did Reagan's. When terrorists killed 3,000 Americans on September 11, Bush responded by invading two countries. When terrorists killed 241 American servicemen in Lebanon in October 1983, by contrast, Reagan promptly cut and ran. (The month before, when the Soviets shot down a South Korean airliner, killing 269 civilians, Reagan responded just as weakly: He did nothing.) And what about evil regimes? Bush shuns them. Reagan, by contrast, sold arms for hostages with Iran. And he placed so much faith in Mikhail Gorbachev that prominent conservative intellectuals called him a dupe. "Reagan," declared [George] Will, "has accelerated the moral disarmament of the West by elevating wishful thinking to the status of political philosophy."
Conservatives aren't turning on Bush because his policies aren't conservative. They are turning on him because his policies, from Iraq to Hurricane Katrina, have dramatically failed -- and failed policies, by definition, cannot be conservative.
And so with this past election, failed conservative policies were rejected. What voters chose was not some better form of conservatism (?) but rather a more moderate and reasonable of political ideology.

With Bush, you're staring at raw, naked conservatism in all its glory -- and the problem is many conservatives don't like to look in the mirror. Their solution? Morph history and facts to fit their Walter Mitty reality, attempting to have us believe that Reagan was a 100% pure conservative. It's simply not true.
Fox News is planning on debuting a rip-off of Comedy Central's "Daily Show." I know, I too thought Fox News was already a comedic version of the news, but alas they plan to offer a right-wing satirical program.

This venture will certainly fail. Why? Due to lack of material.

Jon Stewart actually has a fairly easy job. Those on the far right provide his writers with ample comedic nuggets from which to work, in most cases the laughs come by just showing the video tape or repeating a quote. The punch lines are not so much written by Stewart or his staff as they are simply inserted as tag-on one-liners or intro set-ups for the main features: true-to-life, idiotic items from the right.

Good luck to Fox in depending on the left to provide on a daily basis such a steady flow of moronic occurrences. The supply will be scant and thus the writers will have to work that much harder in drumming up hilarity. And anyone knows that the harder one must work to make people laugh, the more likely one will bomb.
Rummy's failures have prompted the need for revisions in an Army manual:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld may be leaving under a cloud of criticism over his handling of the Iraq war, but his invasion plan -- emphasizing speed over massive troop numbers -- has consistently been held up by the administration as a resounding success.

With Iraq near chaos 3 1/2 years later, a key Army manual now is being rewritten in a way that rejects the Rumsfeld doctrine and counsels against using it again.
Oh, and this item will likely come as a huge blow to the neocons:
Military victory is no longer possible in Iraq, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a television interview broadcast Sunday.

Kissinger presented a bleak vision of Iraq, saying the U.S. government must enter into dialogue with Iraq's regional neighbors -- including Iran --— if progress is to be made in the region.
Wow, even Kissinger is advising against "stay the course" stubbornness. Telling.
Keep going John, contort your long-held positions until they're so convoluted they'll be laughably meaningless. You've gone from so-called "straight talk" to blurred vision -- unable to see the dramatic change in political direction -- all in less than a year. Those high-priced advisors on staff are apparently taking you down the road to ruin -- again.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Does anyone truly take WaPo columnist Charles Krauthammer seriously? His Friday column ("Why Iraq Is Crumbling") is so filled with holes, questionable logic, and convenient exclusions that it borders on the absurd.

With regards to what went wrong with Iraq, he states, "I have my own theories. In retrospect, I think we made several serious mistakes -- not shooting looters, not installing an Iraqi exile government right away, and not taking out Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army in its infancy in 2004."

So Iraq would be much better off now if 1) we gunned down looters (because we know they're an enormous reason for so many of Iraq's troubles), 2) shoot everyone in the Mahdi Army (as if that would've put a complete and final end to any new insurgency efforts), and 3) quickly throw together an "exile" government ("exile" meaning like in Greece??).

Oh yeah, these proposed shoulda-coulda fixes would've gone a long way to solving everything.

He then states, "Our objectives in Iraq were twofold and always simple: Depose Saddam Hussein and replace his murderous regime with a self-sustaining, democratic government."

That's just bullsh*t. He's of course leaving out the biggest reason for going to war at the time and is the sole reason which frightened the American public into backing the war: WMD. Remember Charles, that little item of Saddam/Iraq possessing WMD? That we needed to invade before it was too late...?? No, can't recall can you? Well, as Brendan Nyhan (along with Andrew Sullivan) point out, Krauthammer spent the better part of 2002-2003 writing about the supposed WMD in Iraq.

Ahh, but that's past history, right Charles? Best to just exclude such a small proved-wrong issue and shift the argument or debate. Good old selective memory and framing. It's what neocons and the far right do.

He then writes, "Are the Arabs intrinsically incapable of democracy, as the 'realists' imply?....The problem here is Iraq's particular political culture, raped and ruined by 30 years of Hussein's totalitarianism. What was left in its wake was a social desert, a dearth of the trust and good will and sheer human capital required for democratic governance. All that was left for the individual Iraqi to attach himself to was the mosque or clan or militia."

Let's just assume that what he says is true, then what hope was there to begin with Iraq? All of what he says did not have to be learned after the fact, with 20/20 hindsight, but that's exactly what this cheerleader for the war is doing. Now that his experiment has not worked out as desired, Krauthammer is going to characterize the Iraqi people as incapable of ever embracing democracy due to the damage inflicted by Saddam (similar to battered wife syndrome). And in effect, Krauthammer attempts to absolve himself and the neocons of any blame and instead throw all things Iraqi under the bus.

Give me a &*%$# break! Will these guys ever except any blame for any of the Iraq mess? Or will they continue to just revise the past in hopes that people forget how things were then, what was being said and written? Get ready, in due time they'll shift the blame to the Dems, criticizing them for not coming up with the right solutions to the problems that originated under the thorough ineptness of the former majority party.

Oh, and whatever happened to Colin Powell's uttered truism, "you break it, you bought it"? And does Krauthammer consider an exit strategy as one simply comprised of booting Saddam and "installing an Iraqi exile government"? If so, he simply makes the case that in fact there was no exit strategy and for that reason among many others the fault lies with them (GW, Cheney, Rumsfeld, neocons, GOP, etc.) and not the Iraqi people.

Friday, November 17, 2006

From the very wise Richard Russell:
The verdict is in. The majority of the American people by their vote have said "enough" to Bush and the neo-cons. The House went to the Democrats and as I write the Senate is in doubt. Was it Iraq, was it the economy, was it the lies, was it the sleaze, was it the incompetence? It was probably all of these. The vote has rendered President Bush a "lame duck." The nation now faces gridlock. But Iraq will continue, and the deficits will continue.

Much power has now been transferred to the Democrats. They don't deserve it. They went along passively, cowardly, and cluelessly with the Bush caravan. Their real claim to power is not courage or intelligence, their real claim to their new power is simply that they are not Bushies or neo-cons. In all, it's a sad story. But it's a story, less sad than it was a day ago.

Effectively, the reign of Bush and the neo-cons is over. Today there is one less neo-con, Rumsfeld is gone. What turned the tide? Actually, it was the belated back-stiffening of the press. The newspapers, early on, were cowed by the Bush crowd. Later, Iraq, lies, and the administration's arrogance was too much for the press. The press regained its courage. With the recovery of courage by the press, the truth emerged, and the Bush people were doomed.
Yes, not much has been written about the MSM's regained courage as reason for the election outcome. The reasons are many (Iraq, corruption, incompetence, Katrina, Foley, etc.) but the fact the media got some spine back and began to let the people know about truth, facts, and "real life" helped in a very big way.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Ahhh, c'mon Dad!! I can do it, trust me...."

Presidential redux: the last six years were (unfortunately) Bush 43, the next two will be more of Bush 41. Yes, daddy to the rescue -- again!

How many times must George Sr. rush in to get Junior out of another mess? Only this time the screw-up is not some private business deal but rather the direction of our country.

Does this mean will see the return of "read my lips" tax hikes and "voodoo economics" sanity?
From Newsweek:
President Bush’s job approval rating has fallen to just 31 percent, according to the new NEWSWEEK Poll....Worst of all, most Americans are writing off the rest of Bush’s presidency; two thirds (66 percent) believe he will be unable to get much done....There’s massive support for much of the Democratic Congress’s presumed agenda. For instance, 75 percent of Americans say allowing the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices for seniors should be a “top priority”....Increasing the minimum wage comes next (68 percent) on the public’s list, followed by investigating government contracts in Iraq (60 percent).
With just two years before the next presidential election, the Republicans have some rebuilding to do. Today 48 percent of registered voters would generally like to see a Democrat elected in ’08...compared to 28 percent who want a Republican.
If Bush decides to repel and stonewall bipartisan compromise, something he's done for the last six years, then his party will suffer the brunt of the damage come 2008. Junior may be quite childishly stubborn, but as these next two years dwindle away, look for the GOP party leaders to really make it crystal clear how the president is to act. No more Mr. Not-Nice Guy.
I'm sure the Dems will not stoop to the Republicans' level of forcing them to have meetings in basements, but wouldn't it be sweet justice to see a little bit of come-uppance?

From Steve Benen:
The way in which the Republican majority would operate the mechanics of government was truly embarrassing. It’s not that they’d mistreat the minority party; it’s that they decided that the minority party was literally irrelevant. Dems were, in the eyes of the GOP, annoying children to be ignored.

Legislation was written without Dem input; bills were passed without letting Dems read it; Dems’ bills were denied hearings and votes; Dems weren’t allowed to offer amendments to legislation; Dems weren’t even allowed to use hearing rooms. If Dems managed to win a key vote on the floor, Republicans would simply keep the vote open — literally for hours, if necessary — until enough arms could be twisted and/or lawmakers bribed. Being a congressional Democrat in recent years was frequently nothing short of humiliating.

Now, of course, Republicans are the minority party on the Hill. The question is obvious: does the Democratic majority treat the Republican minority the way they were treated?
A few days ago, Bush alluded to the fact that he considered calling off or postponing the elections due to the war.

Oh c'mon! If he cancelled the elections due to this deemed "time of war," the public would've went ballistic, finally seeing GW for what he truly wants to be: a fully-empowered ruling king.

If this "time of war" potentially jeopardized our elections -- signifying enormous sacrifice, than how does Bush square this with cutting taxes during wartime, a first in history?
Unfortunately, the Iraq Study Group won't have much to offer:
There are few, if any, good options left facing the country. Many of the ideas reportedly being considered...have either been tried or have limited chances of success, in the view of many experts on Iraq.
Just wonderful. Thanks to GW/Rummy's "stay the course" idiocy, we now have much fewer options to choose from in trying to reverse the runaway train which is Iraq.
From Dan Froomkin:
How did Karl Rove get everything so wrong? And shouldn't we take anything he says from this point forward with a big grain of salt?

Rove's divide-and-conquer political strategy, his insistence that Republican candidates embrace the war in Iraq as a campaign issue, his supremely self-assured predictions of victory -- all were proven deeply, even delusionally wrong last week.

His prediction that Republicans would retain both houses of Congress, in particular, is hardly explicable by "bad math" and Mark Foley.

Either Rove lied or he's clueless. Or both.
I would assume he lied -- just like his boss lied about Rummy staying. Pathological lying runs deep in this administration but one can't discount a good amount of cluelessness also circulating in and around the White House. Look for Daddy Bush's people to begin to change much of this....

Monday, November 13, 2006

Many conservative outlets have been saying that last Tuesday's election results really said nothing about the conservative movement, that the base was still rock solid and their "values" were intact and invigorated.

I say yes, encourage them on! Plod onward with your delusions oh clueless ones, as more Americans wake up and fewer choose to live on Walter Mitty island.

The fact is GW/Rove cost the GOP in moderate blood, with many centrist Republicans losing last Tuesday. Voters realized that to change power in Washington they had to change as many letters from "R" to "D", thus sacrificing the likes of Jim Leach and Lincoln Chafee. So be it, there was no other way.

But in effect, the existing smaller group of Republicans in power is that much more extreme to the right. Thankfully, they now have much less power and yet it will make reasonable compromise that much more difficult.

However, if the GOP wants to remain extreme heading into 2008 despite what this election meant (to most of us anyway), I say go for it!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Uh, isn't this story HUGE?! Can we expect more such suits in the near future?
Apparently Robert Gates played a substantial role in the Iran-contra mess.

Big deal, so did current Bush administration figures Hayden and Negroponte. Next up, Ollie North for a top post!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

In his post-election press conference, Bush said, "I thought when all was said and done that the people would understand the importance of taxes, and the importance of security."

In other words, Bush/Rove thought they could go to the well one more time and win another squeaker by appealing to the wealthy via greed and the rest of the public via fear. Didn't work this time.

It's amazing (not) how Bush equates taxes and security. For most people in this country the tax cuts amounted to very little, and yet for all people security is the difference between life and death. Quite a difference (!). But then I suppose to GW life is all about money....

Friday, November 10, 2006

Many on the right are convincing themselves that the Dems elected are actually conservative -- not true if you look at their positions.

The country is not conservative or liberal, but rather moderate/centrist. Look at the polls, they were much against Schiavo intervention, much against Social Security tampering, much against cutting services for them, much for pro-environment laws and issues, they're for raising the minimum wage, they're for stem cell research, they're against interfering with a woman's right to choose -- the list goes on and on and which party is on the same side of those issues? It ain't GW/Rove's GOP.

It will come to be historical fact that the past few years were an aberration due to 9/11 & terror paralysis, voting for the president you have (vs. an unknown) in part based on fear and the primal need for certainty. But that's over and if heaven forbid we're ever attacked again, the public has already been through this once so any lasting such effect will be less from here on in for future presidents. Of course, I would hope that no future president ever attempts to manipulate the masses the way this one has.... But the point being with any luck we're back to normal in the USA and this brief time made fertile for extremism is now over, for good.
Uh oh, there goes the GOP base.... And assuming those Dems are really going to take every last cent from the rich in tax hikes (gads), then what does it say about the severity of the Bush blowback for the wealthy to vote in favor of getting financially screwed?!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Noam Scheiber at The Plank makes the case that if Bush apparently is edging away from his strident "stay the course" path and will look to hear the advice of Gates and Baker, where does that leave McCain? Will he be forced to accuse Bush of getting weak in the knees? With Rummy gone, Cheney assumed knocked down a notch, and enter "realists" Gates and Baker, does this mean Bush is finally seeing more clearly now (the rain is gone), leaving McCain as the sole survivor on Walter Mitty island?
Make no mistake, now begins a time to suggest and implement alternative solutions for the Iraq mess. But never forget that it will always be Bush's debacle. Various ideas will be tried with varying degrees of success, however all will be for the sole purpose of cleaning up what Bush/Cheney have wrought.

Always, always remember this fact when the GOP will undoubtedly look to blame any future Iraq problems on the attempted solutions by the Democrats. Don't let them get away with it, don't let them forget which man and which party is ultimately responsible for invading Iraq and making it a tragic example of incompetence, cronyism, and brutish pride repeatedly chosen over sane prudence.
With Allen caving fairly quickly, conceding to Webb and declining demands for a recount, one wonders to what extent, if any, this terrific insight had anything to do with his decision?
Some quick thoughts:

  • The Tenn. race offered proof that sadly sleaze still works.
  • South Dakota's ballot measure that reversed the enacted abortion law offered proof that populism works.
  • With Dems now holding a majority of the governorships, they gain the upper hand for the most fruitful breeding ground for future presidential candidates.
  • The exit polls showed the Democrats (vs. 2004) gained voters across all incomes ranges, proving tax cuts were not enough to bribe the rich.
  • Lincoln Chafee lost; despite being a reasonable moderate, this election was about rejecting all things "R" in an effort to change control.
  • Get ready to see the GOP slime machine do to Nancy Pelosi what they did to Bill Clinton for eight years.
  • As I've mentioned here a few times in past weeks, the independents made the difference yesterday.
  • Another very good outcome from the election: ended presidential aspirations for many far-right GOP contenders (Frist, Allen, ...Lieberman), as well as any remaining motives for John Kerry (good guy, good senator, honorable soldier -- but it's over).

    But wait minute, I thought Karl Rove had super-duper, secret poll numbers that said quite the opposite would happen....??

    UPDATE: Webb wins in VA, Dems now control Congress.

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    The terrific web site projects the new House to be 239 Democrats to 196 Republicans and projects the new Senate to be 50 Democrats to 49 Republicans with one senate seat (Virginia) too close to call.

    However, the latest poll today for Virginia has Democrat Jim Webb surging ahead, leading Allen by a 52%-44% margin. It's key to obtain the 51-49 Senate majority to avoid the need for Darth Cheney's tie-break vote.

    Lastly, EVERYONE VOTE TOMORROW! No change will come if we don't get out and make sure it happens.
    Paul Krugman has a fitting pre-Election Day column (note: TimesSelect has free access all this week):
    President Bush isn’t on the ballot tomorrow. But this election is, nonetheless, all about him. The question is whether voters will pry his fingers loose from at least some of the levers of power, thereby limiting the damage he can inflict in his two remaining years in office.
    At this point, nobody should have any illusions about Mr. Bush’s character. To put it bluntly, he’s an insecure bully who believes that owning up to a mistake, any mistake, would undermine his manhood — and who therefore lives in a dream world in which all of his policies are succeeding and all of his officials are doing a heckuva job....In other words, he’s the sort of man who should never have been put in a position of authority, let alone been given the kind of unquestioned power, free from normal checks and balances, that he was granted after 9/11....The results have been predictably disastrous.
    The public, which rallied around Mr. Bush after 9/11 and was still prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt two years ago, seems to have figured most of this out. It’s too late to vote Mr. Bush out of office, but most Americans seem prepared to punish Mr. Bush’s party for his personal failings.
    The Constitution says that Congress and the White House are co-equal branches of government, but Mr. Bush and his people aren’t big on constitutional niceties. Even with a docile Republican majority controlling Congress, Mr. Bush has been in the habit of declaring that he has the right to disobey the law he has just signed, whether it’s a law prohibiting torture or a law requiring that he hire qualified people to run FEMA.

    Just imagine, then, what he’ll do if faced with demands for information from, say, Congressional Democrats investigating war profiteering, which seems to have been rampant. Actually, we don’t have to imagine: a White House strategist has already told Time magazine that the administration plans a “cataclysmic fight to the death” if Democrats in Congress try to exercise their right to issue subpoenas — which is one heck of a metaphor, given Mr. Bush’s history of getting American service members trapped in cataclysmic fights where the deaths are anything but metaphors.

    But here’s the thing: no matter how hard the Bush administration may try to ignore the constitutional division of power, Mr. Bush’s ability to make deadly mistakes has rested in part on G.O.P. control of Congress. That’s why many Americans, myself included, will breathe a lot easier if one-party rule ends tomorrow.
    Kevin Drum writes about the despicable (and most likely illegal) GOP tactic of robo-calling:
    So here's a good question: is the mainstream media even going to bother reporting on the saturation robo-calling currently being funded and coordinated by the National Republican Congressional Committee? As you may recall, the tactic here is to call people multiple times, at odd hours, whether or not they're on the Do Not Call registry, with messages that sound like they're from the local Democrat. The purpose is to get people annoyed with the Democratic candidate, even though the annoyance is really coming from the Republican side.

    This kind of tactic is only going to get more common unless the media trumpets it loud and clear and the Republican Party pays a price for it on Tuesday. Conversely, if it flies under the radar and helps produce a few GOP wins, they'll do it again. And again. And again.

    I don't care if reporters are jaded by this kind of thing. It's a revolting practice and ought to be the lead story on tonight's network news programs. Instead, what do you want to bet that it barely gets mentioned?
    Thankfully, Keith Olbermann did a feature story on it, but he'll likely be the lone outfit. I guess it's not as newsworthy as Kerry flubbing a joke.
    Even the military have had enough: published in the latest issues of Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times, the editorial ‘Rumsfeld must go’.

    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    Wonderful but completely unsurprising news: Saddam has been convicted and will hang.

    Yeah, the same guy Donald Rumsfeld appeared quite friendly with at one point....

    The Republicans specifically, not the Democrats, are terminating the services of Stuart Bowen and the federal agency that oversees the rooting out of waste and corruption in Iraq:
    Tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen'’s supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.

    The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.
    The only accountability surfacing from the Iraq debacle is in the form of punishing those who are exposing it for the inept and corrupt boondoggle it has become.

    The bolded part above is exactly why a power change is needed in government. The GOP has for too long protected Bush, shielding him from answering for anything or to anyone, standing in the way of truth for the American public. Enough, and hopefully by Wednesday morning this will all change.
    It doesn't say much for credibility to see a columnist go from being so wrong to so right (and often back again), but that aside here's some of the latest from Thomas Friedman:
    George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you’re stupid. Yes, they do.

    They think they can take a mangled quip about President Bush and Iraq by John Kerry — a man who is not even running for office but who, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, never ran away from combat service — and get you to vote against all Democrats in this election.

    Every time you hear Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney lash out against Mr. Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, “They must think I’m stupid.” Because they surely do.
    What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men....What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment....What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there....This administration never had a plan for the morning after, and we’ve been making it up — and paying the price — ever since.
    Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century — to bring out the best in us. His “genius” is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

    And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country’s health, prove him wrong this time.

    Let Karl know that you’re not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has — through sheer incompetence — brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.
    A classic move of the right-wing: for those issues they're against to spread false-based fear. Examples: environmental regulations reduce or hamper economic growth, cheaper pharma drugs reduces R&D research, and a hike in the minimum wage reduces employment.

    On Friday, the Wall Street Journal had this article:
    If Democrats succeed in retaking one or both houses of Congress next week, a top priority will be increasing the minimum wage for the first time since 1997. That raises a persistent question: Does lifting the minimum wage destroy so many jobs that it hurts more than it helps?

    In 2002, voters here [Oregon] raised the state's minimum wage -- and mandated automatic annual increases to keep up with inflation. Oregon's 100,000 or so minimum-wage workers are paid at least $7.50 an hour, a rate that will increase to $7.80 in January, well above the federal $5.15 minimum....During the 2002 debate in Oregon, foes of a minimum-wage increase argued that it would chase away business and cripple an economy that traditionally had higher unemployment than the national average.
    Oregon's experience suggests the most strident doomsayers were wrong. Private, nonfarm payrolls are up 8% over the past four years, nearly twice the national increase. Wages are up, too. Job growth is strong in industries employing many minimum-wage workers, such as restaurants and hotels. Oregon's estimated 5.4% unemployment rate for 2006, though higher than the national average, is down from 7.6% in 2002, when the state was emerging from a recession.
    I recently wrote, "Hey, has anyone ever asked him [Bush] what if 'when' becomes 20 years from now? Or 100 years? What should the U.S. do then, what are his (gulp) ideas on the matter, or are those just problems for future generations to resolve -- all thanks to him? You talk about faith-based, this is nothing more than faith-based military policy."

    In related fashion, Dan Froomkin wrote:
    President Bush's foremost political liability going into the mid-term elections is that the American people aren't happy he took the nation to war in Iraq and don't believe he has a way out.

    In other words, they think Bush made a mess and has no idea how to clean it up.

    Now, in what may be the ultimate show of Karl Rovian chutzpah, Bush is righteously attacking Democrats for not having a plan to clean up the mess he himself made.

    It's a classic Rove technique to attack his opponents' strengths from a position of weakness -- no matter how deficient his own candidate's position may be.
    Bush makes an enormous mess, has no clue/plan how to clean it up, yet blames everyone else for not having a fix to the mess he made.

    Remind me again why this guy has even a 34% approval number?

    Friday, November 03, 2006

    A recent Bush statement: "The good thing about Vice President Cheney's advice is, you don't read about it in the newspaper after he gives it."

    What the hell is he talking about? Cheney's advice is good because he's an ultra-secretive guy and doesn't leak his advice? That's the litmus test?? And which past VPs in history failed this exceedingly low bar?

    How could Kerry have flubbed it, this guy is grade-A dumb.
    Click here to watch some great video of conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan with staunch Iraq war supporter Christopher Hitchens. It's great viewing. Sullivan categorically states that Bush has "lost his mind" and this Tuesday is "not an election anymore, it's an intervention."

    Pro-Bush Hitchens defends Kerry stating, "I don't remember anything being as shamelessly distorted as Kerry's hapless attempt to tell a feeble joke about Bush's I.Q. But it seems to be quite Nixonian what the White House and the Republican Party's been doing. It's self-evident that Kerry wouldn't have tried to equate stupidity with military service, and it's an attempt to change the subject in the crummiest way....It's almost degrading to have to discuss it."

    Well, self-evident to the non-stupid.
    The inane Kerry slip-up continues to get coverage, of course at the expense of truly important matters such as more discovered voting machine problems. Just how accurate will Tuesday's election be?
    Dan Froomkin aptly sums up the current state of things:
    There is a war going on -- and I don't mean the fake one between the White House and John Kerry. I mean the real one, in Iraq.

    And each and every day, there's more evidence that President Bush's strategy for winning that war isn't working.

    Bush's plan calls for American troops to remain in the country as long as it takes for a democratic central government to take hold. But there's little sign that the government has been able to exercise any authority whatsoever outside the fortified Green Zone. The rest of Baghdad is in the throes of civil war. The Kurdish north is essentially independent, the south is ruled by Shiite militias and the Sunni center is in a state of anarchy.
    On June 28, 2005 , Bush proudly announced: "Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."

    He repeated it over and over again, at least 40 times , until the phrase was retired almost exactly a year later. His last unprompted use of the phrase was on June 26, 2006 : "And as you well know, our standards are, as Iraqis stand up, the coalition will be able to stand down."

    At his September 15 press conference , about 10 weeks after he had mentioned it last, Bush was asked if the strategy was still operative. He said it was.

    But he put it this way: "We all want the troops to come home as quickly as possible. But they'll be coming home when our commanders say the Iraqi government is capable of defending itself and sustaining itself and is governing itself."
    The policy (or outcome) isn't changing, just the words. Hey, has anyone ever asked him what if "when" becomes 20 years from now? Or 100 years? What should the U.S. do then, what are his (gulp) ideas on the matter, or are those just problems for future generations to resolve -- all thanks to him?

    You talk about faith-based, this is nothing more than faith-based military policy.

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Yes, of late Keith Olbermann has had many must-see "Special Comment" segments, but tonight's was an absolute gem, truly his best yet. Click here to view.

    Some choice bits from the transcript:
    There is tonight no political division in this country that he [Bush] and his party will not exploit, nor have not exploited; no anxiety that he and his party will not inflame.

    There is no line this President has not crossed — nor will not cross — to keep one political party, in power.

    He has spread any and every fear among us, in a desperate effort to avoid that which he most fears — some check, some balance against what has become not an imperial, but a unilateral presidency.
    Senator Kerry, as you well know, spoke at a college in Southern California. With bitter humor, he told the students that he had been in Texas the day before, that President Bush used to live in that state, but that now he lives in the state of denial.

    He said the trip had reminded him about the value of education — that quote "if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you can get stuck in Iraq."

    The Senator, in essence, called Mr. Bush stupid.

    The context was unmistakable: Texas;the state of denial;stuck in Iraq. No interpretation required.

    And Mr. Bush and his minions responded, by appearing to be too stupid to realize that they had been called stupid.

    They demanded Kerry apologize — to the troops in Iraq.

    And so he now has.
    A brief reminder, Mr. Bush: You are not the United States of America.

    You are merely a politician whose entire legacy will have been a willingness to make anything political — to have, in this case, refused to acknowledge that the insult wasn't about the troops, and that the insult was not even truly about you either — that the insult, in fact, is you.

    So now John Kerry has apologized to the troops; apologized for the Republicans' deliberate distortions.

    Thus the President will now begin the apologies he owes our troops, right?

    This President must apologize to the troops — for having suggested, six weeks ago, that the chaos in Iraq, the death and the carnage, the slaughtered Iraqi civilians and the dead American service personnel, will, to history, quote "look like just a comma."

    This President must apologize to the troops — because the intelligence he claims led us into Iraq proved to be undeniably and irredeemably wrong.

    This President must apologize to the troops — for having laughed about the failure of that intelligence, at a banquet, while our troops were in harm's way.

    This President must apologize to the troops — because the streets of Iraq were not strewn with flowers and its residents did not greet them as liberators.

    This President must apologize to the troops — because his administration ran out of "plan" after barely two months.

    This President must apologize to the troops — for getting 2,815 of them killed.

    This President must apologize to the troops — for getting this country into a war without a clue.

    And Mr. Bush owes us an apology… for this destructive and omnivorous presidency.

    We will not receive them, of course.

    This President never apologizes.

    Not to the troops.

    Not to the people.
    And in leaving him out of the equation, Senator Kerry gave an unwarranted pass to his old friend Senator McCain, who should be ashamed of himself tonight.

    He rolled over and pretended Kerry had said what he obviously had not.
    He was speaking of how often he had been to Walter Reed Hospital to see the wounded Iraq veterans, of how, quote "many of the have lost limbs." He said all this while demanding that the voters of Illinois reject a candidate who is not only a wounded Iraq veteran, but who lost two limbs there: Tammy Duckworth.

    Support some of the wounded veterans. But bad-mouth the Democratic one.

    And exploit all the veterans, and all the still-serving personnel, in a cheap and tawdry political trick, to try to bury the truth: that John Kerry said the President had been stupid.

    And to continue this slander as late as this morning — as biased, or gullible, or lazy newscasters, nodded in sleep-walking assent.

    Senator McCain became a front man in a collective lie to break sticks over the heads of Democrats — one of them his friend; another his fellow veteran, leg-less, for whom he should weep and applaud, or at minimum about whom, he should stay quiet.

    That was beneath the Senator from Arizona.

    And it was all because of an imaginary insult to the troops that his party cynically manufactured — out of a desperation, and a futility.
    There, we have chaos: joint U.S./Iraqi checkpoints at Sadr City, the base of the radical Shiite militias — and the Americans have been ordered out by the Prime Minister of Iraq… and our Secretary of Defense doesn't even know about it!

    And here — we have deliberate, systematic, institutionalized lying and smearing and terrorizing — a code of deceit, that somehow permits a President to say, quote, "If you listen carefully for a Democrat plan for success, they don't have one."

    Permits him to say this while his plan in Iraq has amounted to a twisted version of the advice once offered to Lyndon Johnson about his Iraq, called Vietnam.

    Instead of "declare victory — and get out"… we now have "declare victory — and stay, indefinitely."
    Oh, the incompetence:
    The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded....The American military did not even take the elementary step of recording the serial numbers of nearly half a million weapons provided to Iraqis, the inspector general found, making it impossible to track or identify any that might be in the wrong hands. Exactly where untracked weapons could end up — and whether some have been used against American soldiers — were not examined in the report, although black-market arms dealers thrive on the streets of Baghdad.
    Just incredible.

    Meanwhile, we're not likely to "stand down" anytime soon (!):
    On Sept. 20, Iraqi and U.S. officials held a ceremony in the main square here to mark the transfer of authority from American troops to U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi police....Fifteen days later, on Oct. 5, U.S. troops had to return to Saba al-Bor to restore order. Most of the town's police had fled, Sunni and Shiite residents were at war with each other, and sectarian death squads roamed the town. The progress built over months had evaporated.
    “We simply overestimated the capacity of the Iraqi people to defend their democracy,” Thompson said [Loren Thompson is a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank based in Arlington, Va.]. “If Iraqi security forces can't be counted on, we have no strategy for winning.” Miscalculations have been costly. The 7th Squadron lost eight soldiers in two days this month as Saba al-Bor lapsed into chaos.
    Despite the fact it's all empty rhetoric, as has been documented by David Kuo's book, Bush is looking to throw more red meat to the religious right in hopes of insuring they vote Republican next Tuesday.

    The government will now target adults, not just teens, as part of its abstinence-only programs, funded by taxpayer money. Never mind the fact that 90% in the group they're targeting (ages 20-29) has already had sex -- talk about a waste of taxpayer money.

    Steve Benen writes:
    Remember, this isn't just about the federal government believing it should help shape families, it's also about giving tax dollars to groups that share the administration's worldview.

    "They've stepped over the line of common sense," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. "To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It's an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health."

    Go ahead, libertarians, keep voting GOP.
    That last sentence is a good point. I've always felt most of those who regard themselves as "libertarian" are really just Republicans in disguise. Perhaps they're ashamed of being Republican and want a more a more snazzy name in which to disassociate (though ultimately voting GOP come Election Day). Regardless of the reason, how is it even logically possible for true libertarians to be for Bush's version of the Republican Party?! They are supposed to be about getting the government out of our lives, out of our bedrooms, out of our schools, etc. They want limited government involvement in nearly everything and yet over the last six years, Bush has done quite the opposite. In order to win over the religious vote, it's been constant overstepping with regards to hoisting the government upon us. Recall Terri Schiavo? Gay marriage bans? Abortion rhetoric?

    It makes no sense. Ryan Sager has written a book about just how this relationship is unraveling, but I ask how could it ever have existed given the core tenet beliefs of libertarians? They simply cannot side with the religious right given the latter's call to get the government overly-involved in our lives.

    The only way it makes any sense is if both libertarians and the religious right are really just other words for Republicans, that in truth it's all about politics and not core beliefs. It's a charade.

    Oh wait, I think I might be on to something....