Wednesday, May 31, 2006

In their daily report yesterday morning, the esteemed (and hardly a left-wing mouthpiece) ISI Group had the following to say about the upcoming November elections:
A rule of the thumb for the election might be that with Bush's approval below 40% Republicans are in trouble and with his approval below 36% they are in big trouble. If Bush's approval rating is at its current reading on Election Day, administration officials can plan on spending a lot more time answering subpoenas from Congress.
Can anyone honestly think of something, anything, that would get GW's approval number above 36%, much less 40%? I believe it's safe to say that once lame duck presidents enter a death spiral in the polls, it's exceptionally difficult for them to reverse course -- esp. if facing a summer of indictment and scandal headlines.

ISI goes on to write:
The variable pollsters are watching most closely is Republican voter intensity. One GOP pollster told us last week that up until the time of the ports controversy several months ago, Republican voter intensity was close to Democratic figures, but since then Republican voter enthusiasm has dropped considerably.
This trend sounds about right. These days, any right-wing person I know would much rather talk about anything other than politics. To say they lack "intensity" is putting it lightly.

In the past, I could see where one might say, "yeah, but they'll hold their nose and vote Republican anyway." Maybe, but I'm sensing that this time around many of those hardcore Republicans have seen enough of this administration and privately realize for the sake of the country a change is sorely needed. BushCo is not just an embarrassment to 70% of us, but even more so is a proven debacle that has deeply impaired this nation for years to come -- and many who denied this fact in the past have begrudgingly come to realize it as truth.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

For this Memorial Day weekend, a quote from retired Lieut. General Greg Newbold:
I will admit my own prejudice: my deep affection and respect are for those who volunteer to serve our nation and therefore shoulder, in those thin ranks, the nation's most sacred obligation of citizenship. To those of you who don't know, our country has never been served by a more competent and professional military. For that reason, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent statement that "we" made the "right strategic decisions" but made thousands of "tactical errors" is an outrage. It reflects an effort to obscure gross errors in strategy by shifting the blame for failure to those who have been resolute in fighting. The truth is, our forces are successful in spite of the strategic guidance they receive, not because of it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy."

Lloyd Bentsen gave us perhaps the greatest -- and most deserved -- gotcha moment in the history of televised debates. He was a wonderful public servant as well as a valiant war vet (yes, another decorated Democrat, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters). May he rest in peace.
  • Along with everything else in Iraq, we recently learned BushCo botched the training of the Iraqi police force. Are we surprised or even outraged at stuff like this anymore? (Another reason the dunce must go -- we've become accustomed to incompetence in our highest office!)
    Before the war, the Bush administration dismissed as unnecessary a plan backed by the Justice Department to rebuild the police force by deploying thousands of American civilian trainers....During the first eight months of the occupation — as crime soared and the insurgency took hold — the United States deployed 50 police advisers in Iraq.
  • On May 7th, I wrote:
    For this November's elections, the Dems should coin a phrase using the well-worn Bush line, "Stay The Course". How many times did we have to hear this phrase in the run-up to the '04 election, implying not just stay put in Iraq but stay with GW? Well, now the Dems should truly pound it home hard! They should ask if Americans still think we can afford to stay the course with the GOP in charge (as Republicans flee from wanting any association with GW/Cheney). Throw back at them that hackneyed line, it will work.
    Now I learn that of all people Newt Gingrich recently said in Time that if he were a Democratic strategist he would advise that the Dems simply ask the voting public, "Had enough?" So Newt and I are on the same page (yikes!), just take BushCo's legacy and shove it back at the public (and then watch for faces of disgust and nausea). By the way, it should be fairly obvious to everyone that 1) Gingrich would like to run for president in 2008, and 2) unlike McCain & Giuliani, Newt is taking a different route, not sucking up to Bush Inc. but rather offering some harsh words of criticism.

  • In the latest New Yorker, with regards to the NSA program, Seymour Hersh wrote the following:
    A security consultant working with a major telecommunications carrier told me that his client set up a top-secret high-speed circuit between its main computer complex and Quantico, Virginia, the site of a government-intelligence computer center. This link provided direct access to the carrier’s network core—the critical area of its system, where all its data are stored. “What the companies are doing is worse than turning over records,” the consultant said. “They’re providing total access to all the data.”
    It's obvious that much more needs to come about this program -- conveyed info that goes beyond the USA Today story. What is going on here? To what extent exactly is this program invading our privacy and breaking the law?

    That said, General Hayden seems to be exactly the wrong guy for the CIA job. He's not only neck-deep in the program's operations, he continues to push the non-truths that everything about it is completely legal -- defying the opinions of many legal scholars who have arrived at quite the opposite conclusion (reminder, Hayden is not a lawyer). About Hayden, Hersh writes:
    [Hayden] is seen by many as a competent professional who was too quick to follow orders without asking enough questions. As one senior congressional staff aide said, “The concern is that the Administration says, ‘We’re going to do this,’ and he does it—even if he knows better.” Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, who was a member of the 9/11 Commission, had a harsher assessment. Kerrey criticized Hayden for his suggestion, after the Times exposé, that the N.S.A.’s wiretap program could have prevented the attacks of 9/11. “That’s patently false and an indication that he’s willing to politicize intelligence and use false information to help the President,” Kerrey said.
    Yeah, that's what's needed, another yes-man crony in a high office. As Thomas Friedman recently wrote, "I understand that loyalty is important, but what good is it to have loyal crew members when the ship is sinking? So they can sing your praises on the way down to the ocean floor?"
  • A belated sad farewell to a truly great singer/songwriter, Grant McLennan of the Go-Betweens. He died of a heart attack on May 6th at the age of 48.

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    Last night, Keith Olbermann was discussing the latest move toward fascism, that being AG Gonzales' threat to prosecute reporters concerning classified leaks. Legal scholar Jonathan Turley had this to say on the topic:
    What's amazing, Keith, is that you have the Attorney General who's been accused of participating in a criminal enterprise. Many experts, including myself, have said that the NSA surveillance program -- the one that he's making veiled reference to -- was a criminal act, committed with his assistance. Now he's saying that he may use his office to go after reporters who reveal such things about people like him.
    Yes folks, this is what fascism looks and sounds like. Paranoid, misinformed, twisting logic and reality as means to an end, using power to trash laws that prove to be inconveniently in the way, wielding rhetoric to threaten and instill fear -- yup, it's all there, textbook stuff.

    Sunday, May 21, 2006

    This complete embarrassment of a leader never stops. What he recently had to say about Australia's prime minister:
    And that's what I like about John Howard. He may not be the prettiest person on the block but when he tells you something you can take it to the bank.
    Surf around the right-wing blogosphere and you'll read the predictable pap regarding this statement ("It's how I talk about my good buddies," "Hope the PM has a sense of humor", etc.), all the usual excusatory crap that wouldn't pass in a second for a more intelligent president (say Clinton) making the same idiotic comments.

    At least he's apparently given up sizing up souls and now attempts to judge world leaders based in part on their physical beauty.

    Go ahead and dismiss this incident as trivial. It's not. Given how painstakingly BushCo tries to stay on-script, it's these moments of slipped-up truth that are most revealing. King GW hasn't a clue, hasn't a clue what he's doing, hasn't a clue what he's going to do the next two years -- he's without a compass and we, the entire world, are at his mercy (until this November anyway, hopefully).
    Some very hopeful news:
    Over the past week, a handful of once-safe Republican Congressional seats have come into play, and other Republican incumbents are facing increasingly stiff re-election battles, according to analysts, pollsters and officials in both parties. The change amounts to a slight but significant shift in the playing field, and a potentially pivotal change in the dynamics of this midterm election.

    ....The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which tracks Congressional races, increased the number of Republican seats viewed as competitive on Friday to 36 from 24, said Amy Walter, an analyst there...."The playing field is certainly expanding," Ms. Walter said. "Clearly what we are seeing is that the political environment is taking a toll and dragging down Republican incumbents; it's dragging down their polling numbers. The question is, What will the environment be in November?"

    ...."Everything is pointing to a pretty big Democratic victory if attitudes toward Congress remain as negative as they are and attitudes toward President Bush remain as negative as they are," Mr. Kohut [a pollster who is the director of the Pew Research Center] said. "It's hard to imagine any way that wouldn't happen."

    ....Mr. Kohut of the Pew Research Center said that 29 percent of Americans in his most recent poll said they would vote against their own member of Congress. That is the highest percentage since 1994, when Republicans swept Democrats out of power. The finding, Mr. Kohut suggested, should give pause to Republicans who argue that while most Americans have an unfavorable view of Congress, they approve the performance of their own member of Congress.

    In addition, Mr. Kohut said, 41 percent of Americans now say this Congress has achieved less than usual, and 34 percent say they view their Congressional ballots this year as an opportunity to vote against Mr. Bush. Both figures are record highs.

    Stuart Rothenberg, an independent analyst who tracks Congressional races, said his latest forecast, to be distributed next week, predicted that Democrats could make gains of 8 to 12 seats. That is an increase from a prediction last month that Democrats would gain 7 to 10 seats.

    "When we say Democrats are positioned to gain 8 to 12 seats, that certainly means the House is in play," Mr. Rothenberg said. "And those numbers are likely to go up. They are more likely to go up than they are to go down, that's for sure."

    Friday, May 19, 2006

    Worse than Nixon

    Keith Olbermann recently had on John Dean and this is what Dean had to say about the NSA program:
    OLBERMANN: Well, to some degree, obviously, this is familiar territory for you, because this seems like a 21st century update on some of the things that Richard Nixon tried in the early ‘70s. What—I‘m almost afraid to ask, what could be next?

    DEAN: Well, by Nixon standards, this is not—Bush has so outdone Nixon that Nixon almost looks innocent in this area. We‘re now reaching into such broad scale and widespread programs with just utter in-your-face defiance of the law that even Nixon himself didn‘t push the envelope nearly as far as this administration is.
    Regarding the deadline for Medicare, King GW has stated, “Deadlines help people understand there's finality and people need to get after it.”

    Ah yes, more hypocrisy from the mouth of King Moron. So the elderly are held to a firm, unyielding deadline and yet how many times have we learned of the House holding open a vote hours past when the final tally was due so that GOP leaders could twist arms and make deals to win votes? Hmm, don't recall the King getting upset over those "extensions".... And if anything should be on a deadline it's global warming, but funny how the King just keeps putting off any urgency on that subject due to lack of scientific evidence. Madness & hypocrisy.
    "And arsenic is not so bad either...."

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    That Karl Rove is always thinking. With Bush offering to share with Congress some of the secrets behind the NSA domestic spying program, one can make the strong case it's a ploy to keep key congressional folks quiet. Show them the details, much of it being classified, and therefore such folks must by rule remain quiet as per what they saw/heard. Call it the Medusa tactic.

    Speaking of quiet, Verizon technically may properly claim that it did not give phone records to the NSA, but this may be a bit deceptive in that they route long-distance calls -- the targeted calls -- through carriers such as AT&T, which by the way has remained very quiet....
    "Looks like the rattlesnakes are startin' to commit suicide."

    I've used the above quote before (from "Mississippi Burning") and once again citing it is appropriate. Richard A. Viguerie, a longtime staunch conservative activist, said Monday, "conservatives are beginning to tune the president out."

    What a shame.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    Only three states are now red -- wow, no wonder most Republicans are fleeing at the sight of BushCo.
    Who recently said the following?
    (Country XXX) needs an army that has every possibility for making an adequate response to all the modern threats we face. We need armed forces able to simultaneously fight in global, regional and—if necessary—also in several local conflicts. We need armed forces that guarantee (County XXX)'s security and territorial integrity, no matter what the scenario....
    An American government official? Rumsfeld? Rice? Cheney? Bush? Nope, try Russia's Putin, just last week.
    Bob Herbert's latest column is an absolute must-read.

    A taste:
    This is a road map to totalitarianism. Hallmarks of totalitarian regimes have always included an excessive reliance on secrecy, the deliberate stoking of fear in the general population, a preference for military rather than diplomatic solutions in foreign policy, the promotion of blind patriotism, the denial of human rights, the curtailment of the rule of law, hostility to a free press and the systematic invasion of the privacy of ordinary people.
    As I've been pointing out for months, in response to GW's quacking lame-duck status combined with policies that are at odds with much of the country, many states have been deciding for themselves what's best (a growing federalist movement). Some recent examples: minimum wage and global warming.

    Others are picking up on this trend, with E. J. Dionne Jr. recently writing a column about it.
    There appears to be quite a bit of confusion by the public concerning the recent NSA revelations. Depending on how the polling question is phrased, the answers can often be conflicting or at odds. Just give it some time, the public (hopefully) will digest the facts and come to realize the many wrongs here.

    At least at this initial stage regarding this unfolding issue, it's interesting to see many Americans willing to give up their rights out of fear. Wasn't that the case in Germany, pre-World War? A good deal of the public may not yet realize the extent to which this NSA program has violated the law and basic civil liberties, with most just assuming it's at least something worth sacrificing for the sake of increased safety.

    But a huge factor driving this fear is this administration's wonderful job of convincing Americans that our intelligence infrastructure is broken and that we're vulnerable because of it. The fact is it wasn't and is not. Our intel was pretty darn good pre-9/11 and post. We've seen all the evidence that did forewarn of an attack, and we know of all the good intel that warned against Iraq -- which BushCo buried and distorted. The "lifer" CIA agents did excellent work; it's the political operatives installed in high places who by design messed everything up and are to blame.

    The end result being Americans feel more vulnerable than they should. Yet, BushCo doesn't mind, not at all, if anything encouraging and pushing that paranoid feeling of fear any chance he gets. Thus, Americans are more willing to relinquish their rights and Constitutional freedoms. Don't forget that many Americans only a few hundred years ago fought and died to secure those same rights and freedoms for us. For shame to now give them up so easily at the hands of men who have a long track record of lies, deception and illegal activity.
    From Krugman's latest column:
    Today is the last day to sign up for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit. It appears that millions of Americans, confused by the array of competing plans or simply unaware of the cutoff date, will miss the deadline. This will leave them without drug coverage for the rest of the year, and subject to financial penalties for the rest of their lives.

    President Bush refuses to extend the sign-up period. "Deadlines," he said last week, "help people understand there's finality, and people need to get after it, you know?" His real objection to extending the deadline is probably that this would be an implicit admission that his administration botched the program's start-up. And Mr. Bush never, ever admits mistakes.
    A prime-time televised speech from Bush is always an opportunity to get red-faced as one imagines people around the world viewing, shaking their heads, wondering how is it this guy is the leader of the USA.... And last night was no exception, more fear-mongering and idiocy, targeted specifically at his dwindling and yet extremely upset hardcore base.

    A piece from this morning's NY Times editorial:
    President Bush's speech from the Oval Office last night was not a blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform. It was a victory for the fear-stricken fringe of the debate. These are the people who say illegal border crossings must be stopped immediately, with military boots in the desert sand. Never mind the overwhelming burdens of Iraq and Afghanistan, the absence of a coherent and balanced immigration policy, and the broad public support for a comprehensive solution. America must send its overtaxed troops to the border right now, they say, so a swarm of ruthless, visa-less workers cannot bury our way of life under a relentless onslaught of hard work.
    Will Gen. Hayden go the way of Harriet Miers?
    If this is true, what's stopping them from listening in on the Democrats and their election strategy? Where the hell are the Dems on this issue?? What the hell is going on???

    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    I recently wrote about how former Reagan official, Bruce Bartlett, has disavowed the starve-the-beast axiom. He wrote, "Most conservatives believe that the best way to downsize government is to take away its allowance, as Ronald Reagan once put it. In other words, tax cuts will lead to spending cuts. This is a theory I once subscribed to....Today, unfortunately, the evidence seems to point in exactly the opposite direction."

    A recent article in the Washington Post confirms Bartlett's suspicion:
    Everybody knows that the Reagan tax cuts did not actually cause spending to come down in the 1980s; most people have surely noticed that the Bush I and Clinton tax hikes were followed by spending constraint in the 1990s; and the Bush II tax cuts certainly have not stopped Congress from spending like a drunken sailor recently. But then the plural of anecdote is not data, and until the starve-the-beast theory is conclusively discredited, tax cutters won't stop hiding behind it.

    Well, now it has been discredited. Rauch cites William Niskanen, an economist who worked in the Reagan White House and now chairs the Cato Institute. Niskanen has crunched the numbers between 1981 and 2005, testing for a relationship between tax cuts and government spending, and controlling for levels of unemployment, since these affect spending and taxes independently. Niskanen's result punctures his own party's dogma. Tax cuts are associated with increases in government spending. The best strategy for forcing cuts in government is actually to raise taxes.
    Just consider the events of last week. On Monday the government reported that Medicare's trust fund would run out of cash in 2018, 12 years earlier than was estimated when Bush came to office. It further reported that Social Security's trust fund would run out in 2040....So what exactly did Bush do? He pressed Congress to extend his tax cuts....Right on cue, the Senate followed up its agreement to extend tax cuts with a $109 billion spending bill.
    What do you know, another supposed GOP truism proven incorrect. It's to the point where if they say "go right" you'd be much better off hanging a left.
    A terrific article in The New Republic about the immigration debate:
    "If I were in their shoes, I’d be doing the same thing—coming across that border and trying to better things for myself and my family." These are the words volunteered—almost verbatim, sooner or later—by just about every Border Patrol agent we have interviewed over the past decade....Border Patrol agents detain illegals wherever and whenever they find them, but an awareness of the moral ambiguity of the “crime” they are fighting pervades their efforts.

    ....To those leading the charge to seal our borders, illegal immigrants are lawbreakers who should be prosecuted and sent home. These restrictionists see no ambiguity in the situation, even though our economy depends upon the labor of illegals, and the millions of Americans who hire them are complicit in their offense.

    ....Immigrants do not typically arrive here intending to settle down....Migrants today, especially those who do not need to cross an ocean, move between the United States and their homeland with greater frequency. Most come here to work hard, save money, and then go home and invest their savings in a tractor, some land, or a house.

    ....University of California–Irvine anthropologist Leo Chavez reports that such sojourners are “target earners,” focused singlemindedly on maximizing earnings and minimizing expenditures. So they put up with overcrowded living quarters, sharing beds, and sleeping in shifts. And they work more than one job, often enduring substandard or dangerous working conditions. Many employers exploit such workers. But the well-kept secret about immigrants is that they are also willing to exploit themselves.

    ....What is bothering Americans most about immigration, legal or illegal, is that it frays—and threatens to rip—the social fabric; it makes them feel that things are out of control.

    ....Over time the opportunistic strategies of immigrants do change. Whatever their original intentions, many develop social ties on this side of the border. They start families, and their children born here are American citizens. They buy houses. A Pew Hispanic Center survey indicates that hundreds of thousands of illegals are homeowners.

    ....The best way of coping with immigration would be to encourage newcomers to settle down. Yet adjusting the formal legal status of immigrants won’t go very far toward meeting this goal. Indeed, the various guestworker proposals now being debated would actually institutionalize immigrant transience by facilitating constant movement back and forth across the border. Instead, we must address the behavior of immigrants and encourage them to become responsible members of our political community....We should avoid sending confusing signals to immigrants—with permissive policies on dual citizenship, for example.
    The fact is our immigration problem is a very complex one, in need of and requiring careful thought and study -- in other words, exactly what this administration has neglected to do time after time when it has come to crafting effective, sensible policy. Rather than assemble noted experts, methodically debate the issues on the topic, weigh the pros and cons, and design fact-based measures to best resolve the problem, BushCo instead resorts to what they know best: framing issues as a means to divide and conquer, to cause national uproar to purposefully excite their blood-thirsty base. Doing so also provides convenient fodder for the rightwing talk shows, all the while diverting attention away from other, more pressing problems. They don't wish to truly solve long-standing predicaments, choosing instead the more politically-motivated route of obtaining emotion-filled (and misguided) votes.
    It appears that if gas prices remain high heading into November, it's only going to help the Democrats:

  • Yes GW, Putin has a wonderful soul: "Putin speech compares America to a wolf that 'swallows without listening to anyone.'"

  • Three cheers for Qwest!

  • "It's legal because I say so...." Bush said the following, "the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful," but specified no source of statutory or constitutional authority.
  • It didn't take long for Tony Snow to make McClellan look good....
    Bush lies -- again

    In yesterday's USA Today (with my bold emphasis):
    The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

    ....The agency's [NSA] goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added. For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

    ....The NSA's domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged....In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. "In other words," Bush explained, "one end of the communication must be outside the United States." As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private. Sources, however, say that is not the case.
    Yes, surprise, Bush is caught in another lie (make that 8,904 at this point). But guess who else is neck-deep in the fibbing goo? From the NY Times (12/21/05):
    "The authorization given to N.S.A. by the president requires that one end of these communications has to be outside the United States," General Hayden answered. "I can assure you, by the physics of the intercept, by how we actually conduct our activities, that one end of these communications are always outside the United States."
    Thanks for that (wrong) reassurance, General. If he's willing to lie about this key issue, what else will he lie about if in charge of the CIA? 2008 can't come fast enough.

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Dems, don't be afraid of the fear-mongering

    John Dickerson is the very bland political writer for Slate. He recently wrote:
    It is important to investigate the ways the Bush administration has used and abused its executive power, but it is much more important not to talk about those investigations when you're trying to launch your policy agenda. It's unbelievably tactically stupid.
    Dickerson feels if the Dems wish to do well in November that it's best if they stay silent about any hint of investigations.

    Wrong. They should flat-out state it, be clear and forceful, and aggressively confront and answer any GOP attacks. Recall that this is how Clinton/Carville successfully fended off many a GOP ambush. Don't run from this need for investigations, pretending as if it doesn't exist or that it's not necessary. It's an election issue handed to the Dems on a silver platter by a president with record low poll numbers, several unfolding scandals, a public record of lies and deception -- it just doesn't get any more winnable.

    So don't misread this fact and try to play it safe -- go for the throat. With these guys, you have to!
    Why the Republican meltdown over the Hayden nomination? Kevin Drum surmises :
    My guess is that congressional Republicans are really, really not happy at the prospect of a drawn-out series of hearings focused on Hayden's support for the NSA's domestic spying program. But they don't feel like they can say that, so instead they're claiming they don't want a military guy in charge of the CIA.
    Yep, that seems about right. No need to remind the public that the guy proposed to head the top spook agency is a huge defender of an illegal spying program targeted at the public. Truth hurts.

    But also it suggests that more than a few Republicans secretly agree with Sen. Arlen Specter, that the NSA program has crossed the line and is a legal transgression. Even more so, many of these same Republicans may not be overly familiar with Hayden but they are knowledgeable about Negroponte's past and they're very uncomfortable with what they know. Hayden is likely to do Negroponte's bidding and odds thus favor more unpleasant surprises down the road.

    Of course, the GOP resistance to Hayden could also be stemming from his apparent association with the Cunningham/Hookergate scandal....

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    From Krugman's latest column:
    For the last few years, the term "conspiracy theory" has been used primarily to belittle critics of the Bush administration.
    The truth is that many of the people who throw around terms like "loopy conspiracy theories" are lazy bullies who, as Zachary Roth put it on CJR Daily, The Columbia Journalism Review's Web site, want to "confer instant illegitimacy on any argument with which they disagree." Instead of facing up to hard questions, they try to suggest that anyone who asks those questions is crazy.
    Rather than carefully consider the plausibility of anything that conflicts with their beliefs, wingnuts choose instead the easy route, to just abruptly dismiss and name-call (smear), typically using "conspiracy nut" or something close to it. The common-shared qualities: laziness and ignorance (the two often go hand in hand).

    It's much more convenient for them to live in their Walter Mitty realities and malign anyone who would dare disturb the comfort of their respective bubbles. After all, sources of fact are deemed "liberal" and not to be trusted. Yet, isn't that mindset the height of conspiracy theory? Don't trust anything -- unless it happens to support a preconceived notion, facts be damned. True conspiracy theory involves a great deal of fantasy, and for that look no further than this administration and their very vocal supporters.
    So the man who hopes to be the next head of the CIA does not know the Constitution very well. The times continue to be frightening....
  • It's quite a sad reflection on this country when you learn of less-developed nations doing more to conserve energy:

    Ukraine, which has a population of 50 million, has quickly produced a program to reduce gas consumption. It has set up a new energy-efficiency agency to direct the plan and is pouring government money into efforts to carry it out.
    Georgia, hit with a similar rise in gas prices, has mothballed plans to build new gas-fired power stations. It is going to build a hydroelectric plant instead. Armenia also has ordered up a plan targeting gas consumption.
  • Still think we have the best healthcare system per dollar spent?
  • A terrific editorial in the May 8th New Republic, discussing the degree to which Bush is lame:
    Often, it is difficult to know when a president has entered the state of political purgatory known as “lame duck” status. For this president, the question is no longer whether, but how lame....Our own qualitative analysis suggests that not since James Buchanan has a president been lamer....[Bush] has seen his agenda die from within, of its own accord. The last years of George W. Bush’s presidency are like watching a car resting on cement blocks in the front yard.
    This was, after all, an administration plagued by flashes of lameness from the get-go. Back in August 2001, the Bushies had cut taxes and were on the verge of passing an education bill, at which point it was clear to anyone paying attention that the president was fresh out of ideas. Not long after, Bush’s poll numbers plummeted to historic lows. True, September 11 saved ambitious White House aides from enduring years of monotony at the Crawford ranch with only the odd pickup game of Old Maid to pass the time. But it couldn’t wash away the fact that our big-ideas president had remarkably few of them — and that they were all pretty lousy to boot. (Whatever happened to that mission to Mars?)
    After this November’s midterm elections, the Bushies will be one of the most pathetic species in the popular imagination: a collection of political sharpies with no more campaigns to scheme over....Maybe they’ll still trot out some of their favorite tricks for old time’s sake — say, a constitutional amendment counting a gay voter as three-fifths of a straight voter, or a campaign accusing Democrats of operating a secret terrorist cell from the House cafeteria. But their hearts won’t
    be in it....Should the Democrats retake Congress, the end of the Bush era will consist of little more than fending off subpoenas and inventing new ways to say, “I don’t recall.”
    The next 900+ days don't just appear agonizingly long, but also very scary, indeed. These guys are power drunkards and we've seen over the last six years that they're capable of and willing to do anything, anything, to maintain power.

    Wake up people! Lying about intel, stoking the fear card, outing CIA agents, suppressing voters, distorting science and facts -- you ain't seen nothing yet!

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Incredible, more than half the streams in this country are polluted.
    On the heels of the Goss resignation, the CIA's #3 man, Kyle Foggo, resigned today. In the story: "Foggo has confirmed through the CIA's office of public affairs that he attended parties at the Watergate hotel suites maintain by Wilkes -- which federal investigators reportedly believe were also used to provide prostitutes to Cunningham and other members of Congress as part of Wilkes' corrupt enterprise." It's so good to see that Bush has truly cleaned up Washington over the last six years.
    This just about says it all when it comes to Bush. A German newspaper recently asked him what was his proudest moment since being in office:
    President Bush told a German newspaper his best moment in more than five years in office was catching a big perch in his own lake.

    "You know, I've experienced many great moments, and it's hard to name the best," Bush told weekly Bild am Sonntag when asked about his high point since becoming president in January 2001.

    "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5-pound perch in my lake," he told the newspaper in an interview published Sunday.
    Nothing more needs to be said. He actually does continue to astonish.
    In the latest USA Today poll, Bush hits a new low at 31% approval.

    A few weeks ago, I felt GW's poll figure would only get so low because there's a hardcore base that's simply brain-dead and will forever approve of Bush no matter the level of his incompetence. At that time it was 33%, so it's fast approaching my guesstimate of 30%.

    That said, this latest poll offers some revealing (encouraging) news:
    "You hear people say he has a hard core that will never desert him, and that has been the case for most of the administration," says Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin who studies presidential approval ratings. "But for the last few months, we started to see that hard core seriously erode in support."
    BushCo is so bad, so rotten, that the awful stench is awakening the zombies. There is some hope after all.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

  • For this November's elections, the Dems should coin a phrase using the well-worn Bush line, "Stay The Course". How many times did we have to hear this phrase in the run-up to the '04 election, implying not just stay put in Iraq but stay with GW? Well, now the Dems should truly pound it home hard! They should ask if Americans still think we can afford to stay the course with the GOP in charge (as Republicans flee from wanting any association with GW/Cheney). Throw back at them that hackneyed line, it will work.

  • It won't just be the flooding, drought, and violent storms and hurricanes that kill us, as global warming "is fueling the spread of epidemics in areas unprepared for the diseases, say many health experts worldwide. Mosquitoes, ticks, mice and other carriers are surviving warmer winters and expanding their range, bringing health threats with them....'Things we projected to occur in 2080 are happening in 2006.'"

  • Never believe it when those on the right proclaim that environmental improvements will hurt the economy due to excessive costs. Bull crap. In fact, it more often would save money and be good for the long-term health of the country.

    In today's Boston Globe editorial:
    WHEN IT comes to nonsolutions to the gasoline price run-up, the $100 rebate suggested by Senate Republicans takes the prize, but a close second is President Bush's plea to Congress to give him authority to change car fuel-efficiency standards. The country learned just how empty this gesture was when Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta admitted to Congress Wednesday that the president had no specific increase in the standard in mind and could promise no overall savings in fuel.

    Contrast that with a proposal studied by the National Academy of Sciences just as the Bush administration was beginning. That study concluded that the auto industry then had the technological know-how to raise average efficiency from the currently mandated 27.5 miles per gallon to 33 miles in 10 years, without compromising on safety. If this standard were set now, by 2025 it would be saving the country 2.6 million barrels of oil a day, about 14 percent of our current daily oil consumption for all purposes.
    Bush had the choice in 2001 to back the National Academy proposal as part of his energy plan. After Sept. 11 of that year, he could have presented this reform as a patriotic response to Islamic terrorism, which gets much of its funding indirectly from the oil revenues going to Mideast countries. If he had acted then, terrorists now might have less money and there would be less demand for oil pushing up prices at the pump.
  • And they just keep on lying, like pathetic cornered rats.... In today's NY Times editorial:
    It is bad enough that Mr. Rumsfeld and others did not tell Americans the full truth — to take the best-case situation — before the war. But they are still doing it. Just look at the profoundly twisted version of events that the defense secretary offered last week at a public event in Atlanta.

    Ray McGovern, an analyst for 27 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, stood in the audience and asked why Mr. Rumsfeld lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The secretary shot back, "I did not lie." Then, even though no one asked about them, he said Colin Powell and Mr. Bush offered "their honest opinion" based on "weeks and weeks" of time with the C.I.A. "I'm not in the intelligence business," he said, adding, "It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there."

    First, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Period. Second, neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Powell spent long weeks with the C.I.A., whose analysts were largely cut out of the decision making. And that was because, third, Mr. Rumsfeld was, and is, very much in the intelligence business.

    The Defense Department controls most of the intelligence budget and is the biggest user of intelligence. Mr. Rumsfeld also set up his own intelligence agency within the Pentagon when the C.I.A. and the State Department refused to tell him what he wanted to hear about Iraq. It was that office's distortions that formed the basis for what the administration told Congress and the public.

    In Atlanta, Mr. Rumsfeld denied ever saying flatly that there were dangerous weapons in Iraq. Actually, he did, many times, even as late as March 30, 2003. On Sept. 27, 2002, Mr. Rumsfeld said there was "bulletproof" evidence of ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq, including that Iraq had trained Qaeda agents in chemical and biological warfare, and he repeated that myth in response to Mr. McGovern.
  • Saturday, May 06, 2006

    I give you the party of family values

    Whereas the Hookergate scandal was once just simmering along under the radar, media coverage has since picked up just a little (!) thanks to the sudden resignation of Porter Goss as head of the CIA.

    Why the abrupt and unexpected exit? Could it be Goss is somehow connected to the above-mentioned scandal? (read here and here and here for back-drop, with the quote (dated April 27th) that the scandal could implicate "one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post.")

    We'll see how this latest scandal unfolds. But talk about hypocrisy and poetic justice! The supposed party of family values, that endlessly panders to those more righteous than the Pope himself, seemingly caught up in another repugnant scandal. And this one involves not just hookers but Watergate! Just too much.

    But of course, if this story involved Clinton or Dems, we would've seen it splashed all over Fox News and other outlets for the past several days. Yet, even with this resignation, let's see how often the MSM mentions this Hookergate scandal at all. Lord knows, it certainly doesn't rise to level of importance as Patrick Kennedy smacking up his car.
    When in trouble (which is often) you can count on BushCo to flout the Patriot card. The latest: singing our national anthem in Spanish.

    Given the many serious problems facing this country, does this subject really deserve coverage? Apparently it's not OK to show the death, destruction and incompetence that is Iraq, but there's no complaints on the rampant attention paid to this "pressing" issue....

    That said, we can always count on BushCo for hypocrisy and lo and behold, guess who regularly sang "The Star Spangled Banner" in Spanish while campaigning? Yup, you guessed right.
    So Cheney bashes Russia, but Rice talks moderate. It's either some odd good cop / bad cop ploy, or these folks are just clueless once again.

    Speaking of clueless, given Russia's recent overtures to Iran, I guess we can conclude that when it comes to judging souls, Bush -- as with most other things he attempts -- is a failure.

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

  • "Taliban Threat Is Said to Grow in Afghan South" Isn't it great we diverted attention and military resources away from where the Taliban has always resided to instead focus on Iraq? Just naked incompetence.

  • Regarding Frist's genius idea to send $100 checks to taxpayers due to higher gas prices, John A. Boehner, the GOP majority leader in the House: "Over the weekend, I heard about it from my constituents a few times. They thought it was stupid." The proposal is dead -- can we finally declare Frist's inane hope of one day being President as dead?

  • "President Bush last week announced that he wanted the authority to raise fuel economy standards on automobiles. One aide acknowledged the idea was devised on the fly, with almost no planning or discussion among relevant agencies."

    Another example of an administration that wouldn't know how to go about crafting effective, informed policy if Clinton or Gore showed them how.

  • Great news: "Last month, big S.U.V.'s and pickup trucks were among the vehicles that had the sharpest sales drops. The Ford Explorer was down 42 percent compared with April 2005. Sales of the Jeep Grand Cherokee declined 41 percent. Sales of Ford's top-selling F-Series pickup fell about 9 percent last month, as did sales of the Nissan Titan. The Chevrolet Colorado pickup was down almost 30 percent."

  • So BushCo has commissioned 21 studies to resolve the scientific evidence concerning global warming. Whelp, the first one has arrived and -- sound the horns -- it's in favor of the overwhelming consensus within the non-oil-industry-funded science community.

    Odds are the other 20 studies will be completed on a one-per-decade schedule.

    Meanwhile, BushCo will play up to the hilt this sponsored effort. Never mind the fact that tons of peer-reviewed evidence already exists. Bush is simply stalling as a favor to corporate special interests, and at the same time looking to be viewed as progressive & science-friendly. Quite the snow job.
  • Tuesday, May 02, 2006

  • Another former Reagan official offering up some fairly harsh words about King GW.

  • Speaking of the King, this past Sunday's Boston Globe reported how GW has conveniently ignored or disobeyed more than 750 laws since he took office. This story is one of the most outrageous so far in 2006 -- and that's saying something.

  • Same in Canada as it is here:
    OTTAWA — The media will be banned from CFB Trenton today when the bodies of four Canadian soldiers killed over the weekend in Afghanistan return home.

    The decision to mirror a practice that is controversial in the United States follows an announcement on Sunday that the flag on the Peace Tower will not be flown at half-mast to mark the deaths.

    The two events have some in opposition accusing the Conservative government of a deliberate attempt to limit public knowledge of the human cost of Canada's mission in Afghanistan.
  • Another GW crony now under criminal investigation -- when will it end?

  • More revealed bungling. Apparently, Bush had the chance to kill Zarqawi, with zero chance of killing innocent civilians, and instead he passed. The -- get this -- proposed reason: not wanting to annoy the French. Are you kidding me?

  • King Cheney: "As the Bush administration has dramatically accelerated the classification of information as 'top secret' or 'confidential,' one office is refusing to report on its annual activity in classifying documents: the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. A standing executive order, strengthened by President Bush in 2003, requires all agencies and 'any other entity within the executive branch' to provide an annual accounting of their classification of documents."

    Dick the dick just keeps giving us the big middle finger.

  • Hey, look who's for the possibility of a windfall profits tax: "Trent Lott of Mississippi, told CNN's 'Late Edition' that he was not dismissing the idea of a windfall profits tax. 'This may come as a shock to you, but I'm going keep my options open,' he said." Boy, what sucking up to voters will do to a partisan hack....

  • Oil lobbyist J. Bennett Johnson recently stated, "We'd see gasoline prices above $5 or $6, crude oil above $100 [per barrel] if we bomb Iran."

    Here's the conundrum for GW: wag-the-dog bombing of Iran pre-November election vs. doing so and further driving up gas prices, thus infuriating voters. And don't forget, the price of oil has been further elevated for years thanks to Iraq's decline in production (I thought we were told the Iraq war would pay for itself in petro dollars??).
  • USA Today has its poll out today showing President Bush's rating at just 34%, a new low for the poll. The paper points out that since 1950, Gallup (which conducted the poll) has documented six times when a president's approval rating was below 50% in the spring prior to a midterm election. In all six instances, his party lost seats in the House.

    Of course, these prior six times were pre-blackbox voting machines, so all bets are off on continuing the 100% perfect run. Re fishy, recall also that before GW, the taller presidential candidate was undefeated as voters always favored the taller candidate via TV viewing (debates, etc.). Kerry and Gore were both taller than Bush.

    The poll showed Democrats leading 54%-39% among registered voters who were asked which party they would prefer this November. A 15-seat switch would give the Democrats a majority in the House.

    And if as expected the price of gas continues to become a hot issue leading up to elections, then this question and result are quite interesting:
    Who do you trust more to deal with the issue of gas?

    Democrats 51%
    Republicans 28%
    That's huge. The old saying people always vote their wallets / pocketbooks....

    Monday, May 01, 2006

  • John Kenneth Galbraith passed on Saturday. A brilliant economist who's depth of compassion matched his magnitude of thought. At the top of this blog, I have featured for some time one of his many memorable quotes. Succinct and bracingly true.

  • Rush Limbaugh (finally) surrendered to authorities. Of course, his lawyer emphasized that no doctor-shopping was involved (uh, OK). The bottom line is he received a sweetheart deal; given the same charges very few people in this country would've been granted such a watered down settlement.

    Rush surrenders to authorities and cuts a deal -- but he's not guilty! O'Reilly pays reportedly $10 million in a sexual harassment suit -- but he's not guilty! Karl Rove testifies five (5) times -- but he's not guilty! Oh, and Tom DeLay continues to maintain his innocence -- despite stepping down from House leadership and balking on running again for office. And Kenny-boy Lay blames the media and maintains his innocence.... (see a pattern here?)

  • "The number of insurgent attacks on civilians in Iraq skyrocketed last year, resulting in almost 8,300 deaths and accounting for more than 50 percent of those killed in terrorist attacks worldwide, according to a State Department report released Friday. The figures for 2005, reported in the State Department's annual survey of global terrorism, showed a doubling from the previous year in both the number of major terrorist attacks in Iraq and the death toll from them. The overall tally of about 3,500 terrorist attacks in Iraq last year represented nearly one-third of such attacks around the world. The numbers do not include attacks against American or coalition troops."

    Yeah, but how about showing us some good news regarding Iraq....?

  • Who to trust? " a town where the local population is hostile to the American presence in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have developed a deep distrust of their Iraqi counterparts following a slew of incidents that suggest the troops they are training are cooperating with their enemies."

    How about some good news....?

  • How ironic, the U.S. wants to repatriate prisoners held at Guantanamo -- a place where U.S. torture has occurred -- but our State Dept. is concerned that released prisoners might be tortured upon returning to their home countries. Note the following, "United States officials at one point suggested that the prisoners be visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross, but the Saudi government does not now allow the Red Cross access to its prisons, and the proposal was set aside, officials said." Speaks volumes about the freedoms and system of justice in Saudi Arabia.

  • Total projected cost of the war per U.S. household, based on a January estimate: $19,600

  • Minimum number of times that Frederick Douglass was beaten in what is now Donald Rumsfeld’s vacation home: 25

  • An example of why Specter, despite his many flaws, is a far superior Senator than his state colleague, that K-Street ringleader hack Santorum.

  • Where is Harry Reid now? It's time for him to muster up again some much-needed chutzpah and call Roberts on this blatant postpone-until-after-November-elections BS.

  • Former top CIA official, Tyler Drumheller, a 26-year veteran of the agency: "I think over time, people will look back on this and see this is going to be one of the great, I think, policy mistakes of all time."