Tuesday, October 31, 2006
So we don't torture -- but what we mean by torture is classified.
How can that possibly be acceptable to the American people?
Here are some questions that should be asked of every White House official, until they answer:
* How do you define torture?
* Name some interrogation techniques that are clearly illegal. Name some that you consider legal.
* Do you think it's acceptable, for either domestic or international consumption, not to define what you mean by torture?
* What sorts of interrogation techniques are and are not acceptable for use on our troops or intelligence agents?
It's all going to come down to how the 'toss-ups' break. So get out, get busy, work for your local candidates, give to the candidates, the parties, etc. Work on local GOTV efforts. Make it happen!
President Bush said terrorists will win if Democrats win and impose their policies on Iraq, as he and Vice President Cheney escalated their rhetoric Monday in an effort to turn out Republican voters in next week's midterm elections.
Faced with potential GOP defeat in both chambers, Bush and Cheney aimed to avert that by convincing voters that they cannot risk giving the opposition party any power in Washington.
"However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses," Bush told a raucous crowd of about 5,000 GOP partisans packed in an arena at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, one of his stops Monday. "That's what's at stake in this election. The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq."
Cheney, meanwhile, said in an interview with Fox News that he thinks insurgents in Iraq are timing their attacks to influence the U.S. elections.
"It's my belief that they're very sensitive of the fact that we've got an election scheduled," he said. Cheney said the insurgents believe "they can break the will of the American people," and "that's what they're trying to do."The increasingly combative tone from the White House signaled a coordinated GOP effort to use every channel to remind conservatives why they should turn out to vote, despite what many say is their disenchantment with the Mark Foley page scandal, anger over escalating federal spending and anxiety over the course of the Iraq war.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
On Sunday's The Chris Matthews Show, NBC Congressional Correspondent Chip Reed dropped a bomb during Matthew's "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" segment. "I'm going to be a little cryptic here," Reed began, then added, ""the Mark Foley scandal investigation is going to widen a little bit."
Saturday, October 28, 2006
"If there is a silver lining in all this, it's the re-emergence of a strong ethics committee," Dyer said.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Two things management never, ever wants to do: admit they're wrong, and spend money on anything other than paying management. This is the root of the screams of agony, since it goes to both points. Never mind that most of the horror stories are fiction, and that most of the most egregious rulings are overturned or reduced on appeal, it HURTS them, in the wallet.
Kevin, at washingtonmonthly.com, has a post about, and with a link to, an author who has written a book on the subject. VERY interesting anecdote on the site, and the linked site is okay, too.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The job of running America isn't like running a business (as the Repugs often postulate.) It's much more akin to the job of herding cats. And the requirements are the same: quick wits and a thick skin. Most of our elected officials, given the rigors of the primary and general election process, are not quick witted, they're solid plodders, not given to imagination, but to following the 'plan' and making sure all the bases are touched. We need to look at this and ponder how to get the grocery clerks out and the cat herders in.
Three words, boys! No Residency Requirments! ;)
Cheney indicated that the Bush administration doesn't regard water-boarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said at one point in an interview.
Cheney's comments, in a White House interview on Tuesday with a conservative radio talk show host, appeared to reflect the Bush administration's view that the president has the constitutional power to do whatever he deems necessary to fight terrorism.
And yet, the Repugs and Bush keep pushing in that direction. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. But is seems to be motivating the moderates and the left, while NEWS NOT POLITICS is demotivating the rightwing base. Keep it up, boys, keep it up!
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lashed out at the United States Wednesday, saying his popularly elected government would not bend to U.S.-imposed benchmarks and timelines and criticizing a U.S. and Iraqi military operation in a Shiite slum of Baghdad that left at least five people dead and 20 wounded.
Maliki's comments came a day after U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the prime minister had agreed to timelines for accomplishing several critical goals, including developing plans to deal with militias, amend the constitution and equitably distribute Iraq's oil revenues.
"I affirm that this government represents the will of the people and no one has the right to impose a timetable on it," Maliki said Wednesday at a nationally televised news conference. "The Americans have the right to review their policies, but we do not believe in a timetables."
With less than two weeks to go before critical midterm elections in the United States, Maliki accused U.S. officials of election-year grandstanding, saying that deadlines were not logical and were "the result of elections taking place right now that do not involve us."
Meanwhile, the office of Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. military official in Iraq, issued a statement Wednesday clarifying that he has not asked for more U.S. troops to be sent to Iraq. The statement said that news reports of Casey's comments at the joint press conference with Khalilzad on Tuesday "inferred" that Casey said more troops might be needed to quell violence in Iraq. "Quite frankly, that is the wrong impression," the statement said.
"There is no intent to bring more U.S. troops into Iraq at this time," the statement said. "The General was merely saying, as he has said consistently since taking command of the Multi-National Force Iraq, that all options are on the table. He will ask for what is needed. He has made no such request to date."
In his remarks Tuesday, Casey said that he did not want to go into specifics about how better security and services would be brought to Baghdad, adding: "Now, do we need more troops to do that? Maybe. And as I've said all along, if we do, I will ask for the troops I need, both coalition and Iraqi."
Casey elaborated later, saying if he needed more troops, he could draw them from Iraqi forces, U.S. forces already in Iraq or U.S. forces outside the theater.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
There are a couple of post at HuffPo on this too... several raising to the level of (my favorite level) of rants!
Monday, October 23, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Jamison Foser, at Media Matters, had a really insightful post yesterday, about the media perpetuating misconceptions about terrorism, it's impact on US politics, and how the media helps the Repugs bend that to their benefit. Great read.
Media promote mutually inconsistent themes on terrorism and the election, both of which benefit GOP
If you believe what you hear from prominent conservatives and political reporters, the following things are true:
1) Anytime terrorism is in the news, it plays to the political and electoral benefit of the Republicans.
2) Terrorists who are trying to destroy America are trying to help elect Democrats because they think Democrats are weak. The terrorists are doing so by increasing violence in Iraq and otherwise drawing attention to their existence, as the Osama bin Laden videotape released shortly before the 2004 election.
Those two things are obviously incompatible. The latter is based on the premise that increased news of terrorism benefits Democrats; the former is an explicit statement of the opposite. The two are fundamentally inconsistent. (OK, there is a way the two sentiments could rationally coexist -- but it requires us to believe that The Enemy has reached depths of incompetence previously explored by only Wile E. Coyote. And, in that case, why haven't we been able to defeat them yet? This possibility can be safely dismissed.)
The fact that the U.S. political media routinely tell us both of those mutually inconsistent things reveals almost everything we need to know about the state of the profession and the quality of the political information we receive. Almost everything.
But there's something else worth keeping in mind. Both of those sentiments just happen to be favorable to Republicans: The first because it suggests that the American people know Republicans are better able to fight terrorists, and the second because it suggests that the terrorists know it, too. As Thomas B. Edsall, author of Building Red America: The New Conservative Coalition and the Drive for Permanent Power (Basic Books, August 2006) and long one of the nation's most influential political journalists, says: conservatives' decades-long campaign against the media "has turned the press into an unwilling, and often unknowing, ally of the right."...
That's something of a specialty for Matthews, as he has shown lately. "Terror and taxes are the Republican strong points," Matthews keeps telling us, and damn the facts. Think that's an exaggeration? Here's what Chris Matthews said on Hardball last night:
MATTHEWS: Republicans know from the polls they got two strengths right now. One is terrorism. Anything that reminds us of 9-11 reminds us of Bush's leadership back them -- and since then. Taxes -- Republicans are good at cutting taxes -- Democrats are notorious for not cutting them, whether the current polls back that up or not.
Got that? Republicans know from the polls that taxes are a political strength for them, whether the current polls back that up or not. Incidentally, they don't.
If reporters are going to tell us The Enemy is trying to influence our elections, maybe they should tell us who the terrorists really want to win, and why.
According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind, CIA analysts believed that bin Laden's 2004 videotape was an attempt to swing the election in President Bush's favor.
How often have you heard that on television? How often have you read that in your newspaper? Somewhere in the neighborhood of "never," right? Excuse us, but why the hell not?
After all, the notion that The Enemy wants Republicans to win isn't merely consistent with the CIA analysts' take on the bin Laden tape, it's also quite logical. More than five years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration still hasn't managed to capture or kill bin Laden, the Taliban is making a comeback in Afghanistan, and it is increasingly clear to everyone except George Bush and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (CT) that things aren't exactly going well for the good guys in Iraq. The recently released National Intelligence Estimate indicates that Bush's Iraq war is creating more terrorists and making us less safe. Why would the terrorists want to change horses in midstream?
Yet rather than pointing any of this out, the media tell us things like "no one questions whether this president has been tough on terror," as NBC's David Gregory recently said. Bull. Many people question whether Bush has been tough on terror. Many people -- those who aren't employed by news organizations, at least -- increasingly understand that oversimplifying complex issues and speaking as though your audience consists entirely of third-graders and morons doesn't constitute "toughness." If the CIA analysts are correct, even Osama bin Laden apparently thinks Bush hasn't been tough on terror.
These are the things our media should be focusing on -- not baseless assertions of the Republicans' purported political advantage. The Bush administration and its congressional enablers have been shockingly inept, criminally incompetent, and, in many cases, simply criminal in their handling of everything from Iraq and national security and the hunt for bin Laden to Hurricane Katrina to the budget. They have auctioned off legislation to the highest bidder, and shunned any vestige of oversight and accountability.
And they've gotten away with it in no small part due to a political media that can be counted on to repeat -- perhaps, as Edsall says, unwillingly and unknowingly -- bogus GOP storylines almost without fail.
One glaring example of this is the way news organizations seem to bend over backward to pretend that both parties are equally guilty of corruption. With every week bringing new examples of prominent Republicans pleading guilty, being indicted, having their associates' homes raided by the FBI, and generally behaving more like an organized crime syndicate than a political party, it's been a struggle, but reporters -- seemingly under the mistaken impression that "balanced reporting" means making the news equally bad for both parties, no matter what the facts -- are giving it an impressive try.
CNN, for example, covered news that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV) may have made a minor technical error in disclosing a real-estate transaction as though it were the news of the century. Again and again, CNN breathlessly reported that Reid bought real estate (which he disclosed) and sold it years later (which he disclosed) for a profit of $700,000 (which he disclosed) -- but that he had neglected to disclose a technical transfer of the property to a limited liability company in which he was a partner. CNN had devoted more than 3,300 on-air words to the story by October 17, mentioning it nearly every day for a week. By the end of the next day, the total neared 5,000. Why did such a seemingly insignificant story merit such coverage?
By comparison, CNN has broadcast only 65 words about a land deal in which Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert (IL) made nearly $2 million. The Hastert story should have gotten much more coverage on the merits -- Hastert's land appreciated after he personally earmarked federal funds for a highway nearby, while Reid is not alleged to have taken any official action that increased the value of his property. Yet the Hastert land deal got only a tiny fraction of the attention CNN gave to the Reid deal. Perhaps because CNN is desperately trying to appease Republican critics by portraying congressional corruption as something Republicans and Democrats are equally guilty of?
Further suggesting a complete lack of appreciation for proportionality, World News ran a report on the Reid land deal and his use of $3,000 in campaign funds for Christmas bonuses for employees of the building in which he lives on October 17. But the program still hasn't gotten around to telling viewers that the FBI has raided the homes of Rep. Curt Weldon's (R-PA) daughter and her business partner, as well as four other locations, as part of an "intensifying corruption inquiry" into whether Weldon illegally used his office to enrich his daughter. To ABC, Harry Reid's Christmas bonuses, which are not under investigation as far as anyone knows, are news -- but the FBI's raids on houses as part of an "intensifying corruption inquiry" into Curt Weldon's possible misuse of his official position to enrich his daughter is not. (After Media Matters drew attention to this disparate treatment, ABC mentioned the Weldon raid on the October 19 edition of Nightline -- but it still hasn't found its way onto World News.)
Can journalists at ABC and CNN possibly believe that Harry Reid's reporting snafu is more newsworthy that Denny Hastert fighting for federal funding for a highway that increased the value of his property? Or that Reid's Christmas bonuses are more newsworthy than FBI agents raiding the home of a congressman's daughter as part of an "intensifying corruption inquiry" into that congressman?
Or are they "overly anxious, and inclined to lean over backwards not to offend critics from the right," as Thomas Edsall says?
Friday, October 20, 2006
OC Register update
Duke1676 @ dKos has a long post on the situation, with a lot of background and interesting info.
Josh weighs in on the ad thing....
The answer to this is not outrage. And the answer's not to say this sort of ad is out of bounds. The correct answer is contempt and ridicule. The president and his party just don't have any credibility on this issue left. And Democrats need to act with the confidence that voters know that too.
DHS is run like a joke.
Iraq, unquestionably, has increased the threat of terrorism rather than diminished it.
The president's whole approach to protecting the nation is a bust. He's spent hundreds of billions and thousands of lives on threats that didn't exist and ignored ones that did.
Doing some more cut and paste of bin Laden just doesn't cut it any more.
The key here is the meta-message behind the way the fight between Republicans and Democrats plays out. Do Democrats cower and complain? Or do they treat the president's gambits on national security with contempt, since that's actually the latent view of the majority of the country. This is another example of what a couple years ago I called the Republicans' Bitch-Slap theory of electoral politics.
Folks in the country know there's a bin Laden. They remember 9/11. That's not what this is about. The Republicans are trying to bait Democrats into looking weak by crying foul and expressing outrage. The best response politically is the truest substantively: ridicule and contempt. The president's policies on national security have been a joke. The country knows it. They're there. So just say it.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
WASHINGTON A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release information about who visited Vice President Dick Cheney's office and personal residence, an order that could spark a late election season debate over lobbyists' White House access.
The Washington Post asked for two years of White House visitor logs in June but the Secret Service refused to process the request. Government attorneys called it "a fishing expedition into the most sensitive details of the vice presidency."
U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled Wednesday that, by the end of next week, the Secret Service must produce the records or at least identity them and justify why they are being withheld.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Update: WaPo coverage
Monday, October 16, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
The Justice Department is investigating whether Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) traded his political influence for lucrative lobbying and consulting contracts for his daughter, according to sources with direct knowledge of the inquiry.
The FBI has formally referred the matter to the department's Public Integrity Section for additional scrutiny. At issue are Weldon's efforts between 2002 and 2004 to aid two Russian companies and two Serbian brothers with ties to former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic, a federal law enforcement official said.
Karen Weldon was 28 and lacked consulting experience when she and Charles Sexton, a Weldon ally and longtime Republican leader in Delaware County, Pa., created the firm Solutions North America Inc. in 2002. Both are registered with the Justice Department as representatives of foreign clients.
Word of the inquiry, which has been closely held within the Justice Department and the FBI, came from two people with specific knowledge of the existence of the investigation. They both spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of criminal investigations.
Spokesmen for the FBI and the Justice Department declined to confirm or deny that an inquiry is underway.
Two years ago, the Los Angeles Times examined Curt Weldon's parallel efforts in Congress on behalf of the Russian and Serbian clients of his daughter, prompting the House ethics committee to briefly explore the issue.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Congressman Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) pleaded guilty today to corruption charges arising from the influence-peddling investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, becoming the first elected official caught up in a scandal that may damage his party's chances in next month's midterm elections.
Ney emerged from a month in alcohol rehabilitation to appear in federal court in Washington, where he admitted he performed official acts in Congress for lobbyists in exchange for campaign contributions, expensive meals, luxury travel and skybox sports tickets.
Ney also admitted to taking thousands of dollars in gambling chips from an international businessman who sought his help with the U.S. State Department.
House Republican leaders immediately vowed to expel Ney in a post-election session if he has not resigned by then.
The government has recommended that Ney receive 27 months in prison for the two counts, conspiracy and making a false statement.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Five conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, "appear to have perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Senate investigators said in a report issued yesterday.
The report includes previously unreleased e-mails between the now-disgraced lobbyist and officers of the nonprofit groups, showing that Abramoff funneled money from his clients to the groups. In exchange, the groups, among other things, produced ostensibly independent newspaper op-ed columns or news releases that favored the clients' positions.
The Senate report released yesterday states that the nonprofit groups probably violated their tax-exempt status "by laundering payments and then disbursing funds at Mr. Abramoff's direction; taking payments in exchange for writing newspaper columns or press releases that put Mr. Abramoff's clients in a favorable light; introducing Mr. Abramoff's clients to government officials in exchange for payment; and agreeing to act as a front organization for congressional trips paid for by Mr. Abramoff's clients."
The report bolstered earlier revelations that Abramoff laundered money through the nonprofits to pay for congressional trips and paid Norquist to arrange meetings for Abramoff's clients with government officials including White House senior adviser Karl Rove.
The groups named in the report are Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform; the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, which was co-founded by Norquist and Gale Norton before she became secretary of the interior; Citizens Against Government Waste; the National Center for Public Policy Research, a spinoff of the Heritage Foundation; and Toward Tradition, a Seattle-based religious group founded by Rabbi Daniel Lapin.
A spokesman for Norquist, John Kartch, called the report "political nonsense" pushed by Democrats close to the midterm elections.
Norquist's attorney, Cleta Mitchell, had told the Senate panel that, as long as Americans for Tax Reform spends funds in keeping with its general purpose, "there is no 'abuse' of ATR's tax status." Officials with the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy denied wrongdoing. Citizens Against Government Waste said the group did not abuse its tax status and always adhered to long-held positions.
Amy Ridenour of the National Center acknowledged in an interview with investigators that donations can have some sway with think tanks but denied that they were made in exchange for positions.
A spokeswoman for Grassley said the chairman did not co-write the report because he had hoped it would include a broader range of groups that he believes also breached their tax status. A Baucus aide said the Democratic staff did not object to a broader review.
The Abramoff scandal has bruised the image of Norquist, a friend of Abramoff's since their days in the College Republicans. Often consulted by Rove, Norquist for decades has convened a key Wednesday morning strategy session for conservative leaders, lobbyists and Republican lawmakers.
Abramoff traded on Norquist's cachet, at one point referring to him in an e-mail as a "hard-won asset" of his lobbying empire. In exchange for Norquist's opposition to taxes on Brown-Forman products, Norquist recommended that a $50,000 donation be made to Americans for Tax Reform, according to an Abramoff e-mail.
"What is most important, however, is that this matter is kept discreet," Abramoff wrote to a colleague at the Preston, Gates & Ellis law firm. "We do not want the opponents to think that we are trying to buy the taxpayer movement."
The e-mails show that Abramoff and Norquist explicitly discussed client donations to Norquist's group in exchange for Norquist's support. The group's advocacy "appears indistinguishable from lobbying undertaken by for-profit, taxable firms," the report said.
Norquist wrote an op-ed piece, published in the Washington Times, as part of an extensive Abramoff campaign for Channel One, which broadcasts educational programming and advertising into public school classrooms. An Abramoff e-mail to Norquist offered him $1,500 for an op-ed, and another e-mail exchange suggested up to $3,000 to buy an "economic analysis."
The Council for Republican Environmental Advocacy, founded by Norquist and Norton, who resigned as interior secretary earlier this year, also appeared to have been used "as an extension of Mr. Abramoff's lobbying organization," the report said.
Abramoff directed his client Indian tribes to donate a total of about $500,000 to the group, telling them that the donation was a way to cultivate Norton at the Interior Department, which oversees the tribes and their casinos. E-mails show that Abramoff told the tribes that they would be CREA's "trustees" and that Norton would "host" a series of CREA dinners. Interior Department documents obtained by The Washington Post suggest that Norton was an invited guest at a CREA dinner, not a host.
Gott in Himmel! Zer are gayz in zee Republican pahty
by John in DC - 10/12/2006 08:59:00 PM
Okay, we got caught. It's no use hiding any longer.
We gays are everywhere.
We control everyone.
We control everything (except, of course, international banking, Hollywood and the media - that's the Jews).
It's no use denying it any longer. The Nazis and the Klan were right. We're very very bad people, and we must be stopped before we steal your children and use their blood in our holiday meals (oh, that's right, Jews again).
Uh, this is the first time they've noticed? Rick Santorum's press secretary is openly gay. There are scores of openly gay people working in the White House. The Republican National Committee looks like a Gay Disney Tea Dance. And don't even get us started on Senator George Allen's office (think San Francisco, circa 1970, but without the mustaches). To find an openly gay Republican embraced by the highest reaches of the GOP, one need look no farther than the Vice President's campaign director (also known as his daughter).
Yes, Virginia, there are gays in the Republican party, and you've known it for years. So why all the belly-aching now?
I'll tell you why. Because while gay and lesbian Americans have been increasingly welcomed into the fabric of the American family, including the Republican party, the religious right has increasingly exposed itself as a fringe movement of hateful bigots, and nobody likes them anymore.
So, it's no surprise the Republican party welcomes the religious right publicly, but then laughs at them behind their backs. And it's no surprise that the Republican party shuns gays publicly, but loves them behind closed doors. They like us. We're fun. They don't like you. You're not.
If Broder can see it, it must be REALLY big!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Even the GOP think they'll lose at least 7 seats, maybe as many as 30.
Repugs Dying in the Polls
Approval of Congress has plunged to its lowest level in more than a decade (32 percent), and Americans, by a margin of 54 percent to 35 percent, say they trust Democrats more than Republicans to deal with the biggest problems the nation is confronting. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said congressional Democrats deserve to be reelected next month, but just 39 percent said Republicans deserve to return to office.
Since Congress adjourned 10 days ago, Republicans have been swamped by bad news, particularly from Iraq. The Foley scandal, while not a dominant voting issue for many, nonetheless has contributed to dissatisfaction with the majority party's performance, the survey found.
President Bush's approval rating, which rose to 42 percent in September after an anti-terrorism offensive marking the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, registered 39 percent in the latest poll. The percentage of respondents who said they strongly disapprove of his performance is about double the number who strongly approve. This disparity in voter intensity could have implications for turnout on Nov. 7, since impassioned voters are most likely to go to the polls.
The president's approval rating reached a low of 33 percent in May, but he has since regained support from Republicans who had expressed unhappiness with his performance. In the current poll, 82 percent of Republicans said they approve of how he is handling his job, compared with 68 percent in May.
Bush's ratings on the war in Iraq are among the lowest of his presidency, with 35 percent approving of how he is handling the situation and 64 percent disapproving (54 percent strongly disapprove). On terrorism, a majority (53 percent) said they disapprove of his performance. That is the lowest rating Bush has received on his signature issue.
Asked whether the war in Iraq has been worth fighting, 63 percent said no, the highest recorded during Bush's presidency. Fifty-one percent agreed with Bush's argument that Iraq is a front in the global campaign against terrorism, the lowest of his presidency. Fifty percent of those surveyed said that the country is safer today than it was before Sept. 11, 2001, but 42 percent, a new high, said the nation is now less safe.
The Foley scandal has remained a key news item over the past 10 days and the poll shows that Americans are reading and watching. Seven in 10 said they are following the story "very" or "somewhat" closely. But only about two in 10 said the issue will be very important in their votes next month.
The political fallout is mixed. Almost two-thirds said Republican leaders tried to cover up the scandal, but about the same percentage said they think Democratic leaders would have done the same. More than three in five said Democrats are criticizing Republican leaders for political advantage. Voters are evenly split over whether House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) should step down from his post.
There is broad dissatisfaction among voters this fall, with one-third saying the country is heading in the right direction. Similarly, Congress has proved to be a disappointment to most Americans, with two in three saying they disapprove of its performance, the highest number in a Post-ABC News poll since November 1995.
As bad as these findings are, they are not as bad as they were in the months before Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994. Congressional approval hit 18 percent in October of that year.
The new poll suggests that there are few issues on which Republicans can hope to appeal to voters in the next four weeks. When respondents were asked which party they trust to handle various issues, Democrats led on every subject, by 33 percentage points on health care, 19 points for ethics, 17 points for the economy, 13 points each for Iraq and immigration.
Even on terrorism, which Republicans hoped to turn into a powerful issue this fall, Democrats led in trustworthiness by six percentage points, reversing a seven-point deficit in September.
There are also modest signs that Democrats have improved their posture among voters. For the first time, a narrow majority, 52 percent, said Democrats are offering the country a clear alternative direction to Bush and Republicans. While Americans are split on the performance of congressional Democrats -- 48 percent approve, 50 percent disapprove -- they are overwhelmingly negative about GOP performance, with 63 percent disapproving and 35 percent approving.
Republicans are closely monitoring Christian conservatives for signs of disaffection that might contribute to lower voter turnout next month. The Post-ABC poll shows that they are not as strong in their support for Republican House candidates as they were in 2004, but it is unclear whether that is related to the Foley scandal. Forty-eight percent of white evangelical Christians said that House GOP leaders took the proper steps in responding to Foley's actions, compared with 60 percent of all conservative Republicans.
Nearly five years after President Bush introduced the concept of an "axis of evil" comprising Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the administration has reached a crisis point with each nation: North Korea has claimed it conducted its first nuclear test, Iran refuses to halt its uranium-enrichment program, and Iraq appears to be tipping into a civil war 3 1/2 years after the U.S.-led invasion.
Each problem appears to feed on the others, making the stakes higher and requiring Bush and his advisers to make difficult calculations, analysts and U.S. officials said. The deteriorating situation in Iraq has undermined U.S. diplomatic credibility and limited the administration's military options, making rogue countries increasingly confident that they can act without serious consequences. Iran, meanwhile, will be watching closely the diplomatic fallout from North Korea's apparent test as a clue to how far it might go with its own nuclear program.
It doesn't get better from there.
Monday, October 09, 2006
10/20- Bob Ney Enters Guilty Pleas
10/27- Safavian to be sentenced (ongoing Abramoff)
now+ Ongoing Abramoff probes/news
Ongoing Foley Page-gate probe(s)/news
Republicans continue to breathe, thus ongoing slime and sleaze
11/7- Dems take House (and maybe Senate)
11/8- We all take the day off with incredibly happy hangovers!
(Note: some of the events listed are NOT mentioned in the WSJ, but should have been!)
From Washington Monthly:
Unfortunately, common sense was in short supply. After a few shrill diplomatic exchanges over the uranium, Pyongyang upped the ante. The North Koreans expelled the international inspectors, broke the locks on the fuel rods, loaded them onto a truck, and drove them to a nearby reprocessing facility, to be converted into bomb-grade plutonium. The White House stood by and did nothing.
Yet Bush has neither threatened war nor pursued diplomacy. He has recently, and halfheartedly, agreed to hold talks; the next round is set for June. But any deal that the United States might cut now to dismantle North Korea's nuclear-weapons program will be harder and costlier than a deal that Bush could have cut 18 months ago, when he first had the chance, before Kim Jong-il got his hands on bomb-grade material and the leverage that goes with it.
The pattern of decision making that led to this debacle--as described to me in recent interviews with key former administration officials who participated in the events--will sound familiar to anyone who has watched Bush and his cabinet in action. It is a pattern of wishful thinking, blinding moral outrage, willful ignorance of foreign cultures, a naive faith in American triumphalism, a contempt for the messy compromises of diplomacy, and a knee-jerk refusal to do anything the way the Clinton administration did it.
Now link to me so that we can spread the joy!
Thanks for your emails and (occasional) comments. They are appreciated.
DOBSON: We condemn the Foley affair categorically, and we also believe that what Mr. Clinton did was one of the most embarrassing and wicked things ever done by a president in power. Let me remind you, sir, that it was not just James Dobson who found the Lewinsky affair reprehensible. More than 140 newspapers called for Clinton's resignation. But the president didn't do what Mr. Foley has done in leaving. He stayed in office, and he lied to the grand jury to obscure the facts. As it turns out, Mr. Foley has had illicit sex with no one that we know of, and the whole thing turned out to be what some people are now saying was a -- sort of a joke by the boy and some of the other pages.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
A spokeswoman for Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) confirmed yesterday that a former page showed the congressman Internet messages that had made the youth feel uncomfortable with the direction Foley (R-Fla.) was taking their e-mail relationship. Last week, when the Foley matter erupted, a Kolbe staff member suggested to the former page that he take the matter to the clerk of the House, Karen Haas, said Kolbe's press secretary, Korenna Cline.
The revelation pushes back by at least five years the date when a member of Congress has acknowledged learning of Foley's behavior with former pages. A timeline issued by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) suggested that the first lawmakers to know, Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.), the chairman of the House Page Board, and Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), became aware of "over-friendly" e-mails only last fall. It also expands the universe of players in the drama beyond members, either in leadership or on the page board.
This may turn into more (sigh):
In interviews with The Post last week, multiple pages identified Kolbe as a close friend and personal confidante who was one of the only members of Congress to take any interest in them. A former page himself, Kolbe offered to mentor pages and kept in touch with some of them after they left the program, according to the interviews.
Kolbe once invited four former pages to make use of his Washington home while he was out of town, according to an instant message between Foley and another former page, Jordan Edmund, in January 2002. The pages planned to attend a first-year reunion of their page class. But because of a snowstorm, they did not take Kolbe up on his offer, according to one of the four pages.
Cline said one of the youths invited was a former page of Kolbe's. Because the congressman frequently travels on weekends, either to his Arizona ranch or abroad, the house is often available to friends, constituents, staffers and former staff members, such as a former page, she said.
Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in Congress, is retiring at the end of the year.
(NOTE: virtually every poster that has covered this has mentioned another shoe dropping... I think Josh at TPM has it best... it's not another shoe, it's Imelda Marcos whole damn closet spilling out.....)
Start Making Sense
By KEVIN DRUMPublished: October 8, 2006
THE American public loathes the bickering, deadlocked 109th Congress. Its approval rating was a subterranean 25 percent in September’s New York Times/CBS poll. That makes this year’s Democratic strategy simple: make sure the public knows exactly who’s in charge of this wretched assemblage. Not a speech should go by without the phrase “Republican Congress” being repeated at least a dozen times. Two dozen would be even better.
So that’s that. But Democrats also have an opportunity to do something more constructive in this fall’s campaign: they should package a common-sense foreign policy so that it sounds like the common sense it is.
That means taking seriously the idea that our national interest is served by easing tensions and reducing hatred of the United States. This in turn means remaking the United States military so it can fight insurgencies and conduct peacekeeping missions more effectively; making serious use of multilateral institutions instead of deriding them; once again acting as an honest broker in the Middle East; and using economic engagement to help bring the Muslim world into the global community.
Democrats need to learn how to make this case convincingly, because it’s the only way we’re going to win the war against militant Islamic jihadism. It might help the party win an election or two as well.
— KEVIN DRUM, writer of the blog “Political Animal.”
Saturday, October 07, 2006
TPM Reader BC suggests a "meme neutralizer":Don't you think that Republicans attacking Pelosi and CREW and bloggers over Foley is just like attacking Iraq when you know the crime was done by bin Laden? There they go again, Republicans attacking the wrong people when everyone knows who did the crime.
Not bad.-- TPM Reader DK
Friday, October 06, 2006
I'm not all that riled up about an older man having contact with 16 and 17 yos. Kids that age ARE old enough to know what they want, and as long as they weren't coerced or forced, I really don't give a rat's ass. Additionally, unless he had sex with them in a location where the Age of Consent is under 18, his criminality is pretty questionable (the AOC in DC is 16.) The federal law he's possibly guilty of violating is stupid in that assumes that anyone under 18 is incapable of making sexual decisions and therefore any sexual contact is a crime (of course, if they'd killed Foley, we prosecute them as adults... go figure!) The part that bothers me is that Foley was in a position of power/authority over these pages, and may have misused it to sexual advantage. The one saving grace in the IM/email scandal is that it seems mostly to be EX-pages that Foley was macking on.
The story here isn't Foley's guilt or innocence (he's a sleaze, good riddance), but, as usual, with DC and PARTICULARLY with the Repugs, it's about the cover-up. What did X (and Y and Z, for that matter) know and when did they know it? And why, when REPEATEDLY warned about Foley's behaviour, didn't they do something about it. And no, they didn't force Foley to resign; Hastert lied- Foley had already resigned at the time Hastert says he forced him out. And why was the first person alerted by someone not in the 'loop' (Rep Alexander) report it to the POLITICAL head of the Congressional GOP and not the Speaker or the head of the Page Program.
Drudge, Cannon, et al, can try and refocus this as a 'prank' by the pages (or whomever they're blaming this nanosecond), the folks in Florida can try and focus on poor Foley's youth and his defloration at the sanctified hands of the yet unnamed clergyman, Hastert can blame Boehner who can blame Shimkus who can blame whoever's next in the circle jerk, or they can just say my bad, we screwed up, we will turn over the reins to someone who is (relatively speaking) blameless and let the chips fall where they may, or they can continue to obstruct and obfuscate and look worse and worse. Neither one is very palatable, but the second option gives them an opening back to the moral highground (at least with their base). Given their historic venality and general cravenness, it's no doubt which route they'll take.
At this point, I say we've retaken the house. Now if we can just find a couple of Senators with Page jizz on their ummm hands.......
As usual, with SPIFFY news, Bu$hCo waited till almost 5PM on a Friday to announce it (take THAT! Gwen Ifel)
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Instead, Lieberman again reverted to his partisanship theme.
"I know some people are calling for [House Speaker Dennis] Hastert to resign, but the truth is that unless he knows what he saw and he saw something he should have acted on, he deserves to have essentially a fact-finder to come in," Lieberman said.
"The Foley case bothers people," he added. "If anyone thinks they can make this into another partisan flap, it's not. It's very real and human. The House Republican leaders and, frankly, the Democratic leadership, should not make it partisan."
Lamont said Lieberman has a "twisted definition of bipartisanship."
Deb Riechmann writes for the Associated Press: "President Bush on Wednesday signed a homeland security bill that includes an overhaul of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $1.2 billion for fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border to stem illegal immigration.
"Standing before a mountainous backdrop in Arizona, a state that has been the center of much debate over secure borders, Bush signed into law a $35 billion homeland security spending bill that could bring hundreds of miles of fencing to the busiest illegal entry point on the U.S.-Mexican border."
Here's the text of Bush's remarks at the bill signing. "This is a good bill," he said, in his brief remarks.
But what neither Riechmann nor Bush bothered to mention was that, when the cameras were no longer running, Bush issued another signing statement , 1,078 words long and objecting to a slew of the bill's provisions.
As usual, it's not entirely clear what Bush's objections really mean, or what effect they'll have. And as usual, no one bothered to ask anyone at the White House why they couldn't have taken a more up-front approach, and either worked with Congress to resolve their differences or vetoed the bill.
So many of the questions I raised about signing statements on NiemanWatchdog.org in June are still unanswered.
And what precisely was Bush objecting to? A lot of it seems awfully petty.
Here's the text of the bill in question.
Says the signing statement: "To the extent that provisions of the Act, such as section 558, purport to direct or burden the conduct of negotiations by the executive branch with foreign governments or other entities abroad, the executive branch shall construe them as advisory. Such provisions, if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, would impermissibly interfere with the President's constitutional authorities to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs, participate in international negotiations, and supervise the unitary executive branch."
All section 558 requires is that the administration designate three foreign seaports to pilot a scanning system for containerized cargo that includes nonintrusive imaging equipment and radiation detection equipment.
Says the signing statement: "The executive branch shall construe provisions of the Act relating to race, ethnicity, and gender, such as sections 623 and 697 of the Act, in a manner consistent with the requirement of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution to afford equal protection of the laws."
But all section 623 does is establish a graduate-level Homeland Security Education Program for senior government officials, and ask the administrator of the program to "take reasonable steps to ensure that the student body represents racial, gender, and ethnic diversity."Similarly, all section 697 requires is that the government create a registry of businesses willing to perform disaster or emergency relief activities -- and that the registry note, among other things, whether the business is a small business owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, women, or service-disabled veterans
Someone explain to me how the last three paragraphs relate to life as we know it! It's just gibberish.
Apparently roasting under the glare of media and public attention, the House Ethics Cmte. has decided it WILL investigate the Foley-gate charges, and has set up a sub-committee to do so. It's pre-January, so the House (and the committee) are still owned and operated by the Repugs, so who knows what will come out of this (who knew Lee Harvey Oswald was involved?!?!?), but at least they're pretending to care. Probably won't help them in November, but hey, they can go down swinging..... maybe go down was the wrong phrase to use here.....
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The Feebs are now involved, the judicial system has intervened, the statements are contradicting each other, almost before they're uttered. These can kiss their leadership positions goodbye, and hopefully, the Repugs won't have any leadership positions to offer, after November!
Nearly three years after hearing arguments in the case, a federal judge has ruled that an American Civil Liberties Union challenge to the constitutionality of the USA Patriot Act may proceed.
The ACLU's clients, including Muslim charities, social services organizations and advocacy groups, have shown they have been harmed by the anti-terrorism law adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood said in a 15-page ruling issued Friday.
The lawsuit was filed in July 2003 on behalf of the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor and five other nonprofit groups. The ACLU said its clients had been hurt by the Patriot Act because fear of the law has kept many people from attending religious services and making charitable donations.
The ACLU contended Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the FBI access to any "tangible things" such as books and documents through an order from a secret court, does not require investigators to show probable cause.
The group wants the judge to declare Section 215 unconstitutional, and block the Justice Department from using that part of the Patriot Act.
Hood's ruling had been awaited since a Dec. 3, 2003, hearing at which the government argued the lawsuit should be dismissed. Federal officials later argued that amendments approved by Congress in March 2006 had corrected any constitutional flaws in the Patriot Act. Hood's ruling gave the plaintiffs 30 days to amend their initial complaint in light of those amendments.
"The media would be quite disingenuous to try to make it a partisan issue. If anything, the Republicans didn’t know about these issues. And we are going to be very interested to find out who in the media or on the other side of the aisle knew about this and kept this from the public interest because our children were at stake."
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Things you can count on the Republican leadership to screw up:
The deficit. Body armor. Medicare reform. Social Security reform. The minimum wage. Port security. The National Guard. Diplomacy. The Geneva Conventions. Fair elections. Clean elections. Intelligence. Protecting the Constitution. Protecting the Bill of Rights. Government transparency. Oversight. Separation of church and state. The middle class. The poor. Tax reform. Tax cuts. Bankruptcy law. Global warming. Disaster management. Defeating terrorists. Saying no to lobbyists. Saying yes to public opinion. Pre-war planning. Post-war planning. Competence. Civil rights. Civil liberties. Civil debate. Veterans' benefits. Hiring based on ability. Legal surveillance. Morality. Energy policy. Energy independence. End-of-life decisions among spouses. Inclusion. Learning lessons from history. Learning, period. Drug policy. Fiscal responsibility. Trusting the generals. Trusting the spooks. Trusting the experts. Basic honesty. Basic health care. Education. Creating jobs. Keeping CIA operatives' identities secret. Catching Osama. Playing nice. Playing fair. Refilling ice cube trays. Making paper airplanes. Or coffee. Tying their shoelaces. Making friends. Blowing their noses. Counting to
ten fivethree. Sharing their toys. Telling the truth. Uniting the country. Protecting underage kids from a predatory congressman.
That House leaders knew Representative Mark Foley had been sending inappropriate e-mail to Capitol pages and did little about it is terrible. It is also the latest in a long, depressing pattern: When there is a choice between the right thing to do and the easiest route to perpetuation of power, top Republicans always pick wrong.
---The New York Times
Republican strategists said yesterday that public revulsion over the sexually graphic online conversations between Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and former House pages could compound the party's problems enough to tip the House to the Democrats in November -- and could jeopardize the party's hold on the Senate as well.
Republican operatives closely following the battle for the House and Senate said that they are virtually ready to concede nearly a third of the 15 seats the Democrats need to recapture control of the House, and that they will spend the next five weeks trying to shelter other vulnerable incumbents from the fallout of the Foley scandal in hopes of salvaging a slender majority.
Districts in which Republicans have effectively walked off the field include Foley's own in South Florida. House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a radio interview with conservative commentator Sean Hannity that the party's replacement candidate is all but doomed. Because of ballot procedures in Florida, "to vote for this candidate, you have to vote for Mark Foley," Boehner said. "How many people are going to hold their nose to do that?"
Others warned that the impact could be much greater. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and an important social conservative leader, said "there's a real chance" that the episode could dethrone the Republican majority. "I think the next 48 hours are critical in how this is handled," he said, adding that "when a party holds itself out as the guardian of values, this is not helpful."
Foley's sudden resignation came at the end of a week that had delivered a series of blows to Republican hopes in November. A National Intelligence Estimate asserted that the war in Iraq is fueling new threats from Islamic jihadists faster than the United States and allies can contain them, then a new book by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post said the administration's private assessments of Iraq are far worse than officials are telling the public. Taken together, GOP strategists said, the events of the past 10 days reversed what some Republicans had seen as a modest rebound in September after the worst days of the summer.
By yesterday, a number of GOP strategists reported widespread gloom about the party's prospects, combined with intense anger at the House leadership.
Depressed turnout would not only hurt vulnerable House incumbents but also make it more difficult for Republicans to hold the most competitive Senate seats -- many of those races are now virtually even, according to recent polling.
Leaders from about six dozen socially conservative groups held a conference call late yesterday afternoon, and participants were described as livid with House GOP leaders.
"They are outraged by how Hastert handled this," said Paul M. Weyrich, a conservative activist who participated in the call. "They feel let down, left aside. How can they allow a guy like [Foley] to remain chairman of the committee on missing and exploited children when there is any question about e-mails?"
Republicans say they are in grave danger of losing the seat of former House majority leader Tom DeLay (Tex.), as well as those held by Rep. Robert W. Ney (Ohio) -- who agreed to plead guilty to corruption charges in the investigation into the activities of convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- and Rep. Don Sherwood (Pa.), who has been embroiled in a scandal over an affair.
In addition, Republicans have largely given up on holding the seat of retiring Rep. Jim Kolbe (Ariz.), and strategists are pessimistic about retaining open seats in Colorado and Iowa and the seat now held by Rep. John N. Hostettler (Ind.).
Some Republicans also said Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (N.Y.), the NRCC's chairman and one of the GOP leaders who knew about a non-graphic communication between Foley and a former page, could face an even tougher challenge for his Buffalo area seat. Reynolds and Hastert sniped at each other over the weekend about who knew what and when.
Ted Kennedy better rape a goat on live TV or the Repugs are in trouble.
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
It is clear that our current Form of Government has met the criteria listed here. Our current government from the elected officials in the House and the Senate, to elected officals and appointees in the executive branch, to a number of judges and wannabe judges, are no longer interested in securing and protecting our rights.
They are pissing our rights away and they are squandering them.
it is time to abolish our current government. I do not mean we should get rid of it and start with a clean slate, but it's time to throw the bums out.
It's time to vote other people in, other people we think will give us a chance to turn this train wreck around.
November 7th is our last best hope to do this. It may be our only hope to do this.
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
OK...so President dumbass is not the King of Great Britian. But he definitely shares some things in common with the King of Great Britian.
His constant arrogance...his constant usurpation of our power...his constant abuse of the trust we've put in him...they have all served toward one end, and that's the subjugation of the American destiny toward the perverse ends of himself and his cronies.
I could talk about the Facts, but you guys all know them already.
I could talk about the individual offenses that George W Bush and his administration have made, but you all know about them already.
And nothing is going to stop the avalanche of truth that's starting to pour out now.
So here's the question.
What are we gonna do about it?
In my mind, it's crystal clear to me that we can beat our chests and holler for resignation after resignation, we can gnash our teeth and rail about scandal after scandal and lie after lie...and that's right and we should do it, but the real line in the sand is drawn on November 7th. Not just in how we vote, but whether we persuade others to do so as well.
Get people involved. Go get someone registered to vote. You gotta know one person who's not registered. Offer to take people to vote. Offer them a ride. Get one person or two people or five people you know are not gonna vote to go on Nov. 7th.
Make plans to all go vote together and then go out for dinner or something.
Encourage each other. Go out and canvass and just remind people to vote. Take voter registration cards with you. Leave them with people. Let them know where their local polling place is.
I hate to sound alarmist but this really is our last chance.
On November 8th, if we haven't siezed our own destiny, it's not in our reach any more.
I wrote yesterday in a comment that I keep thinking about how George W Bush stood on the rubble after Sept 11 and said "Pretty soon, the people that knocked these buildings down are gonna hear us all".
I keep thinking and hoping that on November 7th, the people who have knocked our greatness down are gonna hear us all.