Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Let's play hardball
We had third party gubernatorial candidate Max Linn on the big radio show this morning, and I have one word to describe him: caffeinated. The guy's got energy. And I think he impressed as many callers to our show as he did viewers to last night's debate on MSNBC.

Linn made it into the debate literally at the eleventh hour, much to the chagrin of GOP candidate Charlie Crist, who literally looked like a cross between a deer in the headlights and a punch drunk boxer throughout the debate. Crist refused to even look at Linn, who would not stop breaking the rules abuot directly addressing his opponents. Linn was as aggressive as Crist seemed confused, and the result was, Crist came off as a bit of an empty suit. Davis, meanwhile, stood in the middle, probably gleefully watching the third party guy, who is working with veterans of both the Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura campaigns, tear apart the Republcan nominee. (Linn is a former Republican, who up to now was best known for outing Charlie Crist on a South Florida radio show. We also had on Bob Norman, who has made outing Crist and other supposedly closeted pols into a veritable artform.)

So how'd they do in the debate? Says the Miami Herald:
Just 20 minutes before the debate began, a federal judge said Reform Party candidate Max Linn could join in. Organizers dragged a third lectern into the Tampa television studio, and the major candidates braced for the unknown.

Linn lashed Crist at every opportunity, keeping him on the defensive and reinforcing Davis' more measured attacks against the longtime front-runner.

The punchy pace was not what Crist had in mind. He had objected to the original proposed format, an informal setting with the candidates and host Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball sitting around a table. Crist got his lectern -- but didn't bargain for the double-barreled attack from Davis and Linn.

Ouch. It really, really hurt.

It was clear to me yesterday after talking with two people in the campaigns that the Davis folks were much happier to have Linn around than the Repubs. The PB Post agrees:
Crist adviser Stuart Stevens grumbled that the campaign had not been notified that Linn had filed a lawsuit. Candidates will be unwilling to participate in future Florida NBC debates as a result, he said.

Davis was more charitable about Linn's presence: "He brought a little democracy. Democracy is a little sloppy, a little unpredictable. But the voters tonight won. They got to see the difference between the candidates."

Linn, though, wasn't Crist's only new antagonist. A candidate who relies on a steady drumbeat of sound bites, from "I'm a happy warrior" to "I'll be the people's governor," Crist was rarely able to utter those words during the debate. Matthews, of MSNBC's Hardball, seemed determined to live up to his reputation for rapid-fire interrogations.

In a key exchange, he badgered Crist about the state's murder rate and why Crist was claiming that crime was going down when murder was going up.

Here's the transcript of Matthews playing the Marion Barry card on Charlie:
Matthews: Mr. Crist did you say that crime has gone down? And led us to believe that violent crime has gone down, when violent crime has gone up?

Crist: Crime has gone down in our state.

Matthews: But violent crime?

Crist: Violent crime has gone down in our state as well. The only violent crime that’s up is murder.

Matthews: Well that’s what Marion Berry used to say in DC when I was there. He’d say crime is down but sorry murder is up, the only exception. For most people, murder is the big one.

Crist: It is the biggest one.

Matthews: Well why didn’t you say that. Why did you say crime has gone down when you knew that murder had gone up?

Crist: Because crime has gone down, Chris.

Matthews: That’s a technical point.

Crist: It’s not a technical point. Crime in our state has gone down. It’s a 35-year low right now. I’m telling you the truth.

Mathews: I’m sorry the only reason I’m saying that is because it’s exactly what Marion Berry said after his years in DC.

Crist: Well my name’s Charlie Crist.

Yes it is, and Mr. Crist, you have just been served.

More pain, courtesy of the Tampa Tribune:
Linn saved the worst of his vitriol for Crist. Matthews had to stop Linn twice from taunting Crist, saying the rules forbade candidates from talking to each other, as Linn said, "Answer the question, Charlie, for a change," and "I'm over here, Charlie. Can you see me or are you still ignoring me?"

With Linn acting in effect as a spoiler for Davis, the debate turned into what some considered the best moment so far in Davis' underdog campaign.

Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel's Scott Maxwell was not impressed:
Overall, I don't think anybody on stage looked spectacular tonight. Between Chris Matthews' intense questioning and Reform Party candidate Max Linn wailing away at everything and everyone in the room, it was kind of a melee. And both Jim Davis and Charlie Crist fumbled. But i think Crist fumbled more -- on everything from pretending not to know how much money he'd taken from the insurance industry to the Terri Schiavo and Mark Foley cases. I don't think Crist collapsed. So maybe, as the frontrunner, he still cleared the requisite low bar. We shall see in one week.

The Sun-Sentinel has video bytes, and analysis of the "flaying" suffered by Crist, who is starting to elicit my pity (not much, though, because he's still ahead in the polls.)
Near the end of the debate, Matthews directed the conversation toward the topic that has overwhelmed the campaign up until now -- homeowner insurance costs.

Davis used the topic to flay Crist for wanting to "stay the course" with Republican policies and for failing to stand up to powerful insurance lobbyists. Crist wants to eliminate Florida-only subsidiaries of national insurance companies. He also wants to force companies who sell auto and life insurance in Florida to also sell property insurance if they want to do business in the state.

Davis blasted Crist for reportedly accepting at least $2 million campaign donations from insurers and criticized Crist's proposal to stabilize the market, even suggesting that Jeb Bush, who attended the debate, has expressed doubts about the workability of his solutions.

"What Charlie Crist has been offering is what Gov. Bush has recently said is something that sounds good but wouldn't work," Davis said. "I will stand up to this very powerful insurance lobby, something Charlie Crist has failed to do for four years as attorney general."

After the debate, Bush told reporters that Davis mischaracterized Crist's remarks, and he blasted Matthews for directing the debate to issues like the war in Iraq that, he said, have little to do with the Florida governor's job.
Thanks, Jeb. Don't watch much Hardball, do you? Iraq IS Chris Matthews issue, full stop.


Tags: , , , , , ,

posted by JReid @ 9:40 AM  
The seven-day stretch
Congressional Quarterly asks, whither the battering ram or the bulwark...

This final overview of the political landscape finds the Nov. 7 elections shaping up as a collision between the Republican Party's fundraising and voter turnout proficiency with an ever-expanding field of competitive seats and a consistent decline in the GOPs support among voters on issues across the board. The result is a Congress up for grabs, and an energized Democratic Party trying hard not to seem overconfident. ...

... As of Oct. 27, CQ’s individual assessments of all 435 House races showed Democrats seriously contesting Republican holds on 72 seats (31 percent of the party’s current total) with seven of those races already leaning toward a Democratic takeover and 18 more considered genuine tossups — the result of a combination of Republican political weaknesses and the Emanuel team’s success at growing the roster of competitive Democratic challengers, many in districts that the party had not contested in years. By contrast, only 21 Democratic seats were in play, and only a handful appeared seriously at risk. The bottom line is that the Republicans are now ahead at least marginally in only 207 races, meaning that even if they hold on to all of those (which won’t happen) they must win 11 of the 18 tossups to retain power. The Democrats are now ahead in 210 races — nine more than the number of seats they have now — so if they hold all those leads they will need to win just eight of the tossups to gain control.

As they have throughout the campaign, the Democrats face their more daunting task in the Senate: They must gain a net of six seats to take control — an all-the-more-unlikely prospect just two years after they lost four seats. But their quest has now put them within striking distance.
So the question is, which will be more potent on election day:

Republicans claim the immovable object: a barricade of structural political advantages that, party leaders argue, will keep their majorities intact even as the public mood toward GOP rule has soured.

The biggest such bulwark — and the one casting the most doubt over the prospect of a historic Democratic sweep — is the massive voter turnout organization that Democratic strategists lose sleep over. Spearheaded by Ken Mehlman, the Rove protégé who now chairs the Republican National Committee (RNC), the mobilization centers on a database containing the names and personal preferences, gleaned from publicly available data sources, of millions of Republican voters. Between now and Election Day they will be subjected to repeated entreaties to get out and vote. The effort will culminate with the latest iteration of the Rove-Mehlman brainchild, the 72-Hour Project, a turnout blitz over the final three days of the campaign.

Also building the barricade is the Republican Party’s mastery of fundraising: The RNC and the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House campaign arm, have both greatly outdone their partisan counterparts — the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — in overall receipts. Only the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, run by Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, has taken in more money than its GOP analog, the National Republican Senatorial Committee. ...

...Democrats, though, assert that the supposedly immovable object protecting Republican congressional majorities has been eroded and undermined by an overwhelming demand for change among the majority of Americans, who tell national pollsters they have lost faith with Washington’s ruling party.

This, Democrats say, is because of an almost-ceaseless series of failures, frustrations and foibles in the two years since Bush won re-election and declared that the victory he won with 51 percent of the popular vote was a mandate to pursue his agenda and execute his open-ended commitment of U.S. military forces to Iraq — and since the declaration of a permanent Republican majority by the man who was then House majority leader, Tom DeLay, whose own ethics morass drove him from Congress in June and continues to contribute to his party’s travails even now.

Setting the stage for all Republican problems is Iraq. With an unsubstantiated original justification for the war — deposed dictator Saddam Hussein’s supposed caches of weapons of mass destruction and ties to the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 — U.S. troops find themselves grappling with a fierce domestic insurgency, the infiltration of international jihadists and the roiling possibility of an outright civil war between sectarian factions already inflicting mind-numbing atrocities on one another. ...
Meanwhile, Constituent Dynamics has a boatload of new statewide polls.

And Greenberg and Shrum release a strategy memo on how the House could turn on the blisteringly unpopular war.

Newsflash! President Bush says America loses if Democrats win!

Well, there go the states.

Or maybe not! The WSJ does its job helping out the Party of God with some good news on early voting. Assuming your early vote counts at all...

Tags: Republicans, , News, News and politics, , , , Government, Elections,
posted by JReid @ 9:10 AM  
Blogswarm the messenger
The Pentagon has set up a special unit to "shape the news coverage" of Iraq. Oh, goodie.

The US defence department has set up a new unit to better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet.
The Pentagon said the move would boost its ability to counter "inaccurate" news stories and exploit new media.

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said earlier this year the US was losing the propaganda war to its enemies.

On Monday, Vice-President Dick Cheney said insurgents had increased attacks in Iraq to sway the US mid-term polls.

The Bush administration does not believe the true picture of events in Iraq has been made public, the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says.

The administration is particularly concerned that insurgents in areas such as Iraq have been able to use the web to disseminate their message and give the impression they are more powerful than the US, our correspondent says.

'Correcting messages'

The newly-established unit would use "new media" channels to push its message and "set the record straight", Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff said.

Al-Qaeda figures like Ayman al-Zawahri issue video messages

"We're looking at being quicker to respond to breaking news," he said.

"Being quicker to respond, frankly, to inaccurate statements."
Looking forward to getting those briefings ... oh, I forgot ... I'm not on the list.

Tags: , Politics, Bush, War, Terrorism, News, Military, Middle East, Pentagon, Media, blogs
posted by JReid @ 8:42 AM  
Monday, October 30, 2006
Crashing through the floor
Just when you thought the GOP had hit its moral bottom, they fall even further ... Today, Rush Limbaugh declared that the Harold Ford attack ads in Tennessee are true ... wait for it ... because Harold Ford REALLY DOES LIKE WHITE WOMEN!!!


Tags: Republicans, , ,
posted by JReid @ 5:46 PM  
Don't shred on me
The boys at Wonkette play spot the shredders at Dick Cheney's crib.

Tags: Cheney, Republicans, , News, News and politics, , ,
posted by JReid @ 5:43 PM  
Crist the rock

Charlie Crist likes to take credit for being the civil rights guy, including getting this law passed. Nice work if you can get it, but Charlie hasn't done much with the law, which Gov. Bush signed in 2003. He could have prosecuted the people responsible for Omar Paisely's death with that law, and he could have done something about Martin Lee Anderson, the 14-year-old who was beaten senseless and suffocated to death at a Bay County boot camp. But he didn't. And accusing 4 dead Klansmen of a 1951 killing doesn't count. You might want to stop touting that law in your commercials, Charlie.

Update: By the way, it appears that the "vote for Charlie -- whether you want to or not..." electronic voting machine madness has already begun in ... surprise! ... the Democratic stronghold of South Florida -- the one region where Crist stands to lose to Jim Davis. Don't you just love Florida?

Florida has a rough history on the subject of race. And while Charlie Crist may have some good points, sorry, but civil rights isn't one of them.


Tags: , , , ,

posted by JReid @ 2:57 PM  
The campaign-o-matic
The news today is all about the 8-day stretch...

First, for the unitiated, let's define the Google bomb...
A Google bomb or Googlewash is Internet slang for a certain kind of attempt to influence the ranking (called PageRank) of a given page in results returned by the Google search engine, often with humorous or political intentions. Because of the way that Google's algorithm works, a page will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page use consistent anchor text. A Google bomb is created if a large number of sites link to the page in this manner. Google bomb is used both as a verb and a noun. The phrase "Google bombing" was introduced to the New Oxford American Dictionary in May 2005.[1]
You'll need that for later.

The New York times fleshes out the ground strategies of the centralized, disciplined Republican Party, and the decentralized, rather haphazard approach of the Democrats, who can't (or won't) unite under Howard Dean's DNC, and which are trying to hold together a disparate army of labor unions, online operations, and Googlebombers. Can the rather disorganized Dems (who are a shadow of the once machine-dominated party of New York, Philly and Chicago) outpace the sophisticated target marketing of the politically stumbling GOP? Will the president's scare tactics and rah-rah rooting for severely disabled Republican candidates outweigh the greater fervor of Democrats (combined with the outright pissed-offedness ... is that a word...? ... of registered independents)?

We shall see.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, it's Miss Corker if you're nasty...

The Hotline Sunday Brunch has more, including Karl Rove's rather unremarkable push to use the mechanics of government to help his party win an election. (A case of shock at finding gambling going on in Vegas?)

In today's NYT: Dems use the DLC strategy of running to the right. Plus, Pelosi becomes the issue.

Meanwhile, the WaPo bolsters Karl Rove's ego (subtext, the election is at least in part, about him.)
Even within Rove's own party, expectations are widespread that the Nov. 7 elections will mark a repudiation for the base-rallying, contrast-drawing brand of politics with which he and Bush have been so closely aligned. But it is a mark of the particular place Rove holds in the Washington psyche that even the most exuberant Democrats are wondering why he seems so confident.

There are two questions. Is Rove just acting cocky as a way of lifting GOP morale, or does he really believe it? And, if the latter, is he deluding himself, or does he once again know something that Democrats do not?

The answers have implications well beyond Rove's reputation. Midterm congressional losses for the GOP, some analysts and Republican veterans believe, could effectively end the Bush presidency two years ahead of schedule.

If the Republicans were to lose control of at least one chamber, those in the party who have long seen Rove's approach as polarizing would feel emboldened. At the same time, a new panel co-chaired by the man who exemplifies the GOP establishment, former secretary of state James A. Baker III, is preparing to chart a new course on the Iraq war -- which polls suggest is the single largest reason for the Republicans' current travails.

"The architect may find his engineering plans were faulty," said one former senior official of past GOP administrations, who has watched the current one with increasing dismay. "Turning out the base this year may not be a winning or a governing strategy. America seems to be looking forward to making things work together, rather than dividing people across the board."
Over to the Moonie Times. How to rally the bucketheads, ne'er do well Alabama National Guardsman? With a little rah-rah-rah! ka'ahhk!


Tags: Republicans, , News, News and politics, , , , Government, Congress

posted by JReid @ 7:33 AM  
And then we'll have a friendly splash in the pool
Our no brainer vice president, and his no brainer radio host, apparently have no idea what they meant when they discussed whether "dunking detainees in water" meant waterboarding, actual drowning, or a light swim after dinner. This one has more twists and turns than a episode of "Dancing With the Stars..."
Vice President Cheney said yesterday that he was not referring to an interrogation technique known as "waterboarding" when he told an interviewer this week that dunking terrorism suspects in water was a "no-brainer."

Cheney told reporters aboard Air Force Two last night that he did not talk about any specific interrogation technique during his interview Tuesday with a conservative radio host.

"I didn't say anything about waterboarding. . . . He didn't even use that phrase," Cheney said on a flight to Washington from South Carolina.

Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters that the vice president was talking literally about "a dunk in the water," though neither Snow nor Cheney explained what that meant or whether such a tactic had been used against U.S. detainees.

"A dunk in the water is a dunk in the water," Snow said.

The comments were aimed at calming a growing furor over Cheney's comments, which were taken by many human rights advocates and legal experts as an endorsement of waterboarding as a method of questioning.

Coming shortly before the midterm elections, the remarks prompted a wide range of political figures -- from Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to Cheney's wife, Lynne -- to weigh in on the issue, providing another unexpected controversy for Republicans as they fight to keep control of Congress. Reporters peppered Snow with questions about the interview during Snow's two daily news briefings.

Waterboarding, in which a prisoner is secured with his feet above his head and has water poured on a cloth over his face, is one of several methods of simulating drowning that date at least to the Spanish Inquisition. It has been specifically prohibited by the U.S. Army and widely condemned as torture by human rights groups and international courts.

"Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" Scott Hennen of WDAY in Fargo, N.D., asked Cheney on Tuesday. "Well, it's a no-brainer for me," Cheney responded.
And now that we've dealt with dumb, let's try dumber...
Hennen said in an interview yesterday that he did not know precisely which technique Cheney was referring to and was only passing along a question he had heard from a listener.

"It's impossible for me to say 'Did the listener mean waterboarding?' and 'Is waterboarding torture?' and that sort of thing," Hennen said. "I can't get in the vice president's head, and I can't get in the listener's head."
So ... you... didn't know ... what you were ... asking...? Uh-huh...
Human rights and legal experts said yesterday that even if Snow's version of Cheney's remarks is correct, Cheney's comments are troubling because dunking a terrorism suspect in water as part of an interrogation would actually be more physically dangerous than waterboarding. The tactic also would be illegal under U.S. and international laws, they said.

Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, noted that in the 1980s, Chadian forces led by military ruler Hissene Habre allegedly hung people upside down and dunked them in water during questioning. Habre was indicted by a Belgian court for torture and crimes against humanity and faces prosecution in Senegal.

Former CIA general counsel Jeffrey H. Smith said Cheney's comments were "irresponsible" and send a signal to U.S. interrogators that "the people at the top want you to get rough."

"It's clear that the vice president didn't mean a friendly swim at the country club," Smith said. "It would be designed to somehow frighten a prisoner and elicit information from them. Whatever it means, a dunk in the water is not harmless or innocent."

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, issued a statement saying the comments provided another reason that voters should "change course" by voting for Democrats. "This administration's determination to assert the right to torture has undermined our moral authority, put our troops at greater risk and made our country less safe," Kerry said.

Snow and other Republicans pushed back strongly, arguing that Cheney's remarks had been misinterpreted and that the vice president had been talking about the value of interrogations in preventing terrorist attacks.

"That is a mighty house you are building on top of that molehill," Lynne Cheney said during an appearance on CNN's "The Situation Room." "A mighty mountain. This is complete distortion. He didn't say anything of the kind."

The ambiguities in the waterboarding debate were most evident during two contentious news briefings yesterday as Snow was repeatedly questioned by reporters who did not accept his explanations of Cheney's remarks. Snow repeatedly insisted that Cheney was not referring to waterboarding or any other technique, although he was at a loss to explain how being dunked in water would not also qualify as a method of interrogation.

Snow joked at several points about needing to avoid water-related metaphors in his comments, as when he accused reporters of "fishing" for answers. He declined to say what Cheney meant by dunking terrorism suspects in water but said he would get back to reporters with a fuller explanation, which did not materialize yesterday.

At one point during the first briefing, a frustrated reporter asked: "So the detainees go swimming?"

"I don't know," Snow responded. "We'll have to find out."
Yeah. You do that, Tony.


Tags: War On Terror, News, Politics, , ,

posted by JReid @ 6:39 AM  
Saturday, October 28, 2006
America's man in Iraq
Nouri al-Maliki issues a declaration
of semi-independence
posted by JReid @ 1:22 PM  
Paglia 2
I earlier linked to Camille Paglia's Salon interview in which she weighed in on the Foley scandal. But here's another interesting thing she said:
PAGLIA: ... I'm not a Bush hater. I've always viewed him as a decent fellow who was pushed into the presidency because he was his father's son. But he's been out of his depth in foreign affairs from the start. He certainly lacks the basic verbal skills for the presidency -- reading speeches authored by others is no substitute. But I've become concerned about Bush's mental state in the past few months. Sometimes in his press conferences or prepared statements (which I listened to on the radio), I heard a sort of Nixonian tension and hysteria. His vocal patterns were over-intense and his inflections impatient, lurching and sarcastic. There was this seething quality to his speech that worried me and that seemed to signal that something major is being planned -- perhaps another military incursion.

SALON: Iran?

PAGLIA: What else? Yet another folly -- creating more generations of hatred against America. The feckless behavior of the Bush administration has been a lurid illustration of Noam Chomsky's books -- which I've always considered half lunatic. Chomsky's hatred of the United States is pathological -- stemming from some bilious problem with father figures that is too fetid to explore. But Chomsky's toxic view of American imperialism and interventionism is like the playbook of the rigid foreign policy of the Bush administration. So, thanks very much, George Bush, you've managed to rocket Noam Chomsky to the top of the bestseller list!

I'm worried about the future of America insofar as our academically most promising students are being funneled through the cookie-cutter Ivy League and other elite schools and emerging with this callow anti-American, anti-military cast to their thinking. How are we ever going to get wise leadership or sophisticated diplomacy from people who have such a distorted, clichéd view about everything that's wrong with the United States? Neither the intellectuals nor the Democrats have any answers to the problems we face. It's not as if the Democrats are offering a coherent and persuasive foreign policy -- they have no foreign policy! They just come across as small-minded politicos jockeying for power.

And we do face an international crisis of mammoth proportions. What should we do in the face of this ruthless and barbaric Islamic fundamentalism? Is there an answer to the problem of Israel? There was a time when the left's call for a transnational Israel made sense to me, but at this point does anyone really think that, if Israel stops calling itself a Jewish state and opens its borders to all Palestinians who wish to return, there would be instant peace? Because of the shocking upsurge in anti-Semitism in the last few years -- exacerbated by the American incursion into Iraq -- surely such a development would mean suicide for Jews who reside in Israel. Passions have become too inflamed among young Muslims all over the world. I think it will be a century before any of this is resolved.

...The country is being asked to take a gamble with the disordered Democrats or to choose nascent fascism on the Republican side -- the intrusion into personal files and phone records, the shadowy sweeps that may have imprisoned innocent people along with genuine terrorists. The electorate could be ready to accept abrogation of basic constitutional rights in a time of war. ...
There's more, but she gets a big self-contradictory and blathersome after that. If you want, you can read the whole thing yourself.
posted by JReid @ 1:03 PM  
Dick Cheney: Fighting the real enemy, and the enemy ... you (and your filthy germs)
Drudge loves this hilarious story from the New York Times, which proves that even the dark lord of the Bush administration has fears:
In Clean Politics, Flesh Is Pressed, Then Sanitized

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 — Campaigns are filthy. Not only in terms of last-minute smears and dirty tricks. But also as in germs, parasites and all the bacterial unpleasantness that is spread around through so much glad-handing and flesh-pressing.

“You can’t always get to a sink to wash your hands,” said Anne Ryun, wife of Representative Jim Ryun, Republican of Kansas.

Hands would be the untidy appendages that transmit infectious disease.

Like so many other people involved in politics these days, Mrs. Ryun has become obsessive about using hand sanitizer and ensuring that others do, too. She squirted Purell, the antiseptic goop of choice on the stump and self-proclaimed killer of “99.99 percent of most common germs that may cause illness,” on people lined up to meet Vice President Dick Cheney this month at a fund-raiser in Topeka.

When Mr. Cheney was done meeting and greeting, he, too, rubbed his hands vigorously with the stuff, dispensed in dollops by an aide when the vice president was out of public view.

That has become routine in this peak season of handshaking, practiced by everyone from the most powerful leaders to the lowliest hopefuls. Politics is personal at all levels, and germs do not discriminate. Like chicken dinners and lobbyists, they afflict Democrats and Republicans alike. It would be difficult to find an entourage that does not have at least one aide packing Purell.

Some people find that unseemly in itself.

“It’s condescending to the voters,” said Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat.

A fervent nonuser of hand sanitizer, Mr. Richardson holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark for shaking the most hands over an eight-hour period (13,392, at the New Mexico State Fair in 2002).

Indeed, what message does it send when politicians, the putative leaders in a government by the people, for the people, feel compelled to wipe off the residues of said people immediately after meeting them?

“The great part about politics is that you’re touching humanity,” Mr. Richardson said. “You’re going to collect bacteria just by existing.”

Still, politics can be an especially dirty place to exist.

“Every time you’re with big groups of people, you’re going to be exposed to rhinoviruses, adenoviruses and the viruses that cause gastroenteritis,” said Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and physician.

Mr. Coburn said he washed his hands whenever possible but did not use any antigerm lotions. Being a doctor, he said, he has been exposed to more bugs and, thus, enjoys greater immunity than most other people.

For what it is worth, Howard Dean, also a doctor and the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said he did not bother with the stuff, either.

“If you’ve had children, you’re immune to everything,” said Mr. Dean, a father of two.

As with most things, this places Mr. Dean at loggerheads with President Bush.

“Good stuff, keeps you from getting colds,” Mr. Bush raved about hand sanitizer to Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, at a White House encounter early last year.

Mr. Obama, who recounts the episode in his new book, says that after rubbing a blob of it on his own hands, the president offered him some, which he accepted (“not wanting to appear unhygienic.”)

Mr. Obama has since started carrying Purell in his traveling bag, a spokesman said.

It is not clear when politicians became so awash in the gel. In one semifamous cleanliness lapse in the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton, who had just shaken dozens of hands at a tavern in Boston, was handed a pie but no fork on his way to the car. The ravenous Mr. Clinton promptly devoured it using his unwashed hand. He eventually became a serious user of hand wipes and lotions at the urging of his doctor, an aide said.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said he learned about hand sanitizer from observing Senator Bob Dole’s abundant use of it in his 1996 presidential run. Mr. McCain remains vigilant today.

“I use it all the time,” he said through a representative. “I carry it with me in my briefcase.”

Purell, which is made by GOJO Industries of Akron, Ohio, came on the market as a consumer product in 1997 and became popular in campaign vans, holding rooms and traveling bags in the 2000 campaign. Donald Trump, the billionaire germophobe who contemplated running for president, even distributed little bottles of it to reporters.

“One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands,” Mr. Trump wrote in his book “Comeback.” “I happen to be a clean-hands freak.”

Al Gore is, too. He turned his running mate, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, onto sanitizer in 2000, and Mr. Lieberman became an evangelist.

“He said it was one thing he learned from Gore,” said an aide to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, Rebecca Kirszner, who became a popular dispenser of Purell on a senatorial trip to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Mr. Richardson said that if he ran for president, as he is considering, he had no intention of conforming to the norms of his antiseptic peers.

“I just won’t use the sanitizer,” he said. “I’ve been offered it, but I’ve turned it down.”

This positions Mr. Richardson as the early hygienic maverick of 2008.

“I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty,” he said.

Now THAT's a freaking news story.

Tags: Iraq, Bush, Cheney, Republicans, , News, News and politics, , , , Government, Purell
posted by JReid @ 12:54 PM  
Friday, October 27, 2006
Into hell
Wayne Madsen reports:
There is something afoot, in a very Shakespearean way, in the White House. Preparing for a post-election massacre of the GOP and the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary, two factions are emerging within the White House. One is the neo-con faction surrounding potential scapegoat Vice President Dick Cheney. This faction includes Cheney's own staffers and his and Rumsfeld's sympathizers in the Pentagon, National Security Council, State Department, and media and think tanks. The other is the faction coalescing around the other potential scapegoat -- George W. Bush. This is the most interesting faction as it consists of George H. W. Bush and his closest friends -- James Baker III, Lee Hamilton, former CIA Director Robert Gates, Alan Simpson, Sandra Day O'Connor, and other past luminaries of the George H. W. Bush administration. George W. Bush has had to admit that his presidency has been a failure and now must have his father and his father's friends bail him out. The Iraq Study Group of Baker and Hamilton, which is negotiating with the Iraqi Resistance, Iran, and Syria against the wishes of Cheney's faction, was a step in the direction of bailing out Junior.

This editor was recently approached by someone close to George W. Bush and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow who made it clear that George W. Bush was fighting elements "further to his right." Flabbergasted, I responded that I didn't think many people were further to the right than Bush. But that was before the impending scapegoating issue became clear. "Further to the right" means Cheney, some members of the Christian fundamentalist Right, and their followers.

long knives soon to be out for scapegoats -- what will happen in the White House will be one of the the nastiest political purges in U.S. history. Cheney, whose ideological fervor knows no bounds, is not about to concede that Iraq was a failure. He and his neo-con advisers do not intend to be scapegoated. The Bush faction, eager to protect the Bush family name during a series of intensive congressional investigations but more likely to admit to mistakes, does not intend to bear the brunt of blame for the Cheney faction's misadventures.

As part of the coming civil war, Madsen says that the Bush faction, with the help of Baker and Co., is seeking a clean (or clean enough) way out of Iraq, and that Don Rumsfeld will not be a George Tenet, falling on his sword. Madsen believes Rummy will bail after the election, leaving his protege Dick Cheney to fill the scapegoat chair. He cites the former wife of WaPo editor Ben Bradlee, who wrote a recent column in the paper that's interesting reading:
Rummy's Other Role
The Perfect Scapegoat

By Sally Quinn
Thursday, October 19, 2006; A29

Don Rumsfeld is the shrewdest person in Washington. He understands better than anyone that somebody has to be in line to take the blame when things go wrong. So far he has been willing to do so. But not much longer.

The drumbeat to get him out of the Pentagon has reached deafening proportions. Republicans and Democrats, the generals, the media, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Andy Card, the first President Bush, and even Laura Bush all want him gone. Until now George W. Bush has resisted all of the pressure to get rid of his defense secretary. But those in the know say that the president may have reached the point where he realizes that Rumsfeld has outlived his usefulness.

Still, the president must be aware on some level that once the pugnacious, outspoken and flak-attracting Rumsfeld leaves the stage, the focus will be on the president. Whether Bush realizes it or not, this is about a scapegoat.

In the Bible, the high priest would transfer the sins of the people onto a goat, and, as it was written, "the goat shall carry all the sins of the people into a land where no one lives, and the man shall let it loose in the wilderness."

(The word for scapegoat in Hebrew means, literally, "into hell.")

Rumsfeld has seen others take on the role of scapegoat. Look what happened to Nancy Reagan. When she was first lady, she rightly realized that Donald Regan, the chief of staff, was causing her husband enormous damage. What she hadn't realized was that Regan was filling the role of scapegoat for the president. When Don Regan was finally fired, Nancy herself was made the scapegoat. She then took the brunt of criticism for the errors of her husband's administration.

It is hard for the American people to turn completely against the president. It seems tantamount to patricide. We're much more comfortable being able to blame someone else for the president's mistakes. Laura Bush will never be the scapegoat. For now, it's Rumsfeld.

Vice President Cheney is not eager to replace him. And he would never fire Rumsfeld, who was his mentor and who hired him for three government jobs during the Ford administration, including as his deputy when Rumsfeld was chief of staff. (In fact, Cheney's Secret Service code name was "Back Seat.") In any event, Cheney is low-profile, secretive, nonconfrontational -- and presumably too experienced to allow himself to be easily made the scapegoat. But if Rumsfeld goes, the attention and criticism can be directed only to Cheney, or to Bush.

And it's improbable that Rumsfeld can last. He may not have an exit strategy for Iraq, but, old Washington hand that he is, he undoubtedly has one for himself.

I suspect that he has already told the president and Cheney that he will leave after the midterm elections, saying that the country needs new leadership to wind down the war. And he will resign to take a job in some sort of humanitarian venture, thereby creating the perception that he is a caring person who left of his own accord to devote the rest of his life to good works.

Bush and Cheney, who don't want him gone, will then have to contend with the reality of the new situation: One goat must be sent off into the wilderness. Who will it be?
Tags: Iraq, Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney
posted by JReid @ 11:06 PM  
Swing out, sister

"Let us go away together, away from the anger and imperatives of men. There will be only the two of us, and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement. In the evenings I shall read to you while you work your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl."
-- Passage from Sisters ... the novela Lynne Cheney would just as soon forget

If you thought Dick Cheney was scary, you haven't gotten a load of Lynne. The nation's Second Lady appeared opposite a rather timid Wolf Blitzer this afternoon, proving that the GOP did learn something from Bill Clinton's bravura performance with Fox News stoogie Chris Wallace -- confront the interviewer, a lot. (Lynne's signature line from the interview, "...what is CNN doing? Running terrorist tape of terrorists shooting Americans. I mean, I thought [Rep.] Duncan Hunter asked you a very good question, and you didn't answer it. Do you want us to win?"

Cheney was all over the place, defending her husband's ... er, President Bush's ... administration, slamming CNN for its excellent "broken government" series ("no, Wolf, this government is not broken. That's just your bias telling you that it is...") and raking Wolf over the coals for CNN's decision to broadcast that Iraqi sniper video. But the best part of the L.C. interview was her defense of her supposedly horrid novel, Sisters, written back when fancied herself a modern day Daphne du Maurier. Ostensibly there to talk about her new children's book -- something or other about the 50 states and some patriotic schmaltz thrown in to make the righties love it -- Ms. Cheney (and you cna't know you tempted I am to substitute the word "frau" for "Ms.") launched a blitzkrieg at Blitzer over his question about Jim Webb bringing up her lesbian love scenes and brothel prose in Sisters in response to George Allen's desperate campaign attack on a 20-something year old novel Webb wrote about Vietnam.

Said Ms. Cheney, "Mr. Webb is off base. That is false" (the stuff about her writing about chicks on chicks and hookers in rural Wyoming back in the frontier days.) Well ... sure wish we had a handy research tool that could ferret out quotes from that very tough to find novela... sure, wish we had something that could "google" up the information on that book of hers to verify Ms. Cheney's claims...

OK, here's something from one of the lucky, lonely few who seem to have read all three of Ms. Cheney's masterpieces:

... Sisters (published only in a Signet Canadian paperback edition) is a gothic female historical novel, in the tradition of Jane Eyre, with a strong dash of Gone With the Wind. Set in Wyoming in 1886, it tells the story of the beautiful, headstrong widow Sophie Dymond, an actress and magazine editor, who returns from the East to Cheyenne to discover the reasons for the death of her sister, Helen. The blurb on the book gives a good sense of the lurid and exciting plot: "Sophie had left the west to find success and independence. Helen had remained to wed a handsome, powerful cattle baron. Now Helen was dead -- and Sophie returned to find the reasons why ... in the secret world of frontier wives that most men never entered ... in the revelations of the town's most notorious prostitute ... in the passionate letters written to Helen by another woman ... and finally in the arms of the man whom Sophie had every reason to desire and despise ... her late sister's husband and possibly her killer. ..."
Uh-oh, looks like there's brothels and girl-love in them thar pages! Plus a hussy who gets hot and steamy with the man who killed her sister! Oh, Lynne, you scamp!

But what might prove even more damning for L.C., is the notion that some who have read her book consider it to be downright ... well ... feminist:

Following in the literary tradition of feminist writing of the 1970's, Sisters begins with a dedication to female kin: to Cheney's "mother and my grandmothers, at rest in the past, and to my daughters, who are running toward the future."

In her acknowledgments, Cheney also thanks "the men and women working to bring to light details of the daily personal lives of nineteenth-century women." In particular, she thanks Linda Gordon for her book on the history of the birth-control movement, Woman's Body, Woman's Right; G. J. Barker-Benfield for his study of obstetrics, gynecology, and sexual surgery, Horrors of the Half-Known Life; and Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, for her celebrated article in the first issue of Signs, "The Female World of Love and Ritual."

Those scholarly influences are clear in the novel. Carroll Smith-Rosenberg's article was among the most influential pieces of research and interpretation that came out of the early years of women's studies. Looking at correspondence between American women friends in the 19th century, Smith-Rosenberg hypothesized a female culture "built around ... an unselfconscious pattern of single-sex or homosocial networks ... institutionalized in social convention or rituals that accompanied virtually every important event in a woman's life." Those rituals were reinforced by intense bonds between mothers and daughters and by restrictions on intimacy between young men and women, and "devotion to and love of other women became a plausible and socially accepted form of human interaction," Smith-Rosenberg wrote. She placed such erotic friendships between women along the spectrum of 19th-century sexual and social relationships.

In Woman's Body, Woman's Right, Linda Gordon argued that, despite frequent childbirth, miscarriage, and maternal and infant death, women with feminist beliefs both advocated and resisted contraception: "The suppression of birth control ... was partly a means of enforcing male supremacy, but partly, too, a self-protection for women, a means of enforcing men's responsibility for their sexual behavior," Gordon wrote. ...
Oh, lord, can this patient be saved?

Cheney is ambivalent about Smith-Rosenberg's analysis of women's culture, and sympathetic to Gordon's argument. She acknowledges the emotional bond between women, and their fears of male sexuality; but she favors remedies that would allow women freedom to enjoy their own sexuality with male partners. Sophie discovers that Helen had suffered many painful miscarriages and had withdrawn from marital sex. She had also been converted to the values of the local Women's Christian Temperance Union, led by her beloved schoolteacher friend Amy Travers.

Through Sophie's eyes, we see a group of female fanatics convinced of female moral superiority to men, and conflating temperance with celibacy. They have become convinced of Woman's spiritual purity, expressed in tender friendships between women. Sophie first discovers the evidence of Helen's "affair" with Amy Travers in letters, journals, and underlined poems. "Let us go away together, away from the anger and imperatives of men. We shall find ourselves a secluded bower where they dare not venture. There will only be the two of us, and ... in the evenings I shall read to you while you go work your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl," Miss Travers had written to Helen.

Repelled by lesbian ardor veiled as spiritual fervor, Sophie nonetheless comes to sympathize with the women's grievances -- abuse, prostitution, rape, frequent unwanted pregnancies -- and to admire their intimacy, although she cannot identify with it. Listening to one W.C.T.U. member, Lydia Swerdlow, crippled by the rigors of childbearing, insist that only reproduction can transfigure and redeem the animality of sex, Sophie understands despite herself: "For a moment, just a moment, she had a sense of the pressures which molded Lydia's feelings, and she saw that the way the other woman felt was not perverse, but a right response to her life. It had to do with wanting control; it was a different path to a goal Sophie herself was always seeking."

Watching two women embracing in a wagon after a fire, she "felt curiously moved, curiously envious of them. ... She saw that the women in the cart had a passionate, loving intimacy forever closed to her. How strong it made them. What comfort it gave."

Such a world of female love and ritual is alien to Sophie, who is not even sure how she feels about her real sister, her mother, or her grandmother; who prefers men to women; and who defines control as the sponges, powders, and condoms she keeps in a lacquered box given to her by the actress Adah Menken.
The writer of this review, Professor Elaine Showalter of Princeton University (at the time the article was written, back in 2000) has some sympathy for Ms. Cheney, if grudging. So I don't think she would make up the details about the contents of the book. One thing is clear: there is a definite and deliberate campaign afoot -- in large part by Ms. Cheney herself -- to suppress the contents of this book and to prevent its reissue. You've got to wonder why. (Come on, dear, we all have a bad novel out there in the self-publish archives or laying about in the garage somewhere...)

Or maybe you don't.

At the end of the day, the bottom line is that a person's creative writing -- their narrative writing -- doesn't necessarily have anything to do with their politics. If that's true for Ms. Cheney, it's certainly true for Jim Webb. (Though in Ms. Cheney's case, you've got to wonder if when she was writing this book, she was working out some "issues" with having raised a certain gal-lovin' daughter...)

Oh, and George Allen is a putz. Did I mention that? I should have mentioned that.

Tags: Elections, News, News and politics, Politics, , , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 9:44 PM  
A day in the life of the very definitely NOT gay Charlie Crist
Today's episode: "Out of the woodwork, into the Bob Norman column."

Tags: , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 11:12 AM  
Senator rub-down
Surprise-surprise, Jim Kolbe is the other "problem" Senator when it comes to male Congressional pages. Meanwhile, Camille Paglia says what I've been thinking, and saying, though probably not to articulately, for some time: the Foley scandal risks bringing to the surface something many people already attribute to gay men: a rather decided "appreciation" for very, very young males:

SALON: It's also been interesting how both sides -- but the Democrats early on -- characterized Foley as a pederast. He's a dirty old man in the classic Washington tradition, going after teenagers. But there's no proof that he's a child molester.

PAGLIA: I kept hearing on the radio the stentorian voices of Democratic women politicians saying that Foley was "preying on children." When will this stop? This blurring of the line between teenagers and children -- who should be vigilantly protected by any society.

SALON: And in Washington, the age of legal consent is 16.

PAGLIA: Exactly! Therefore if it wasn't absolutely clear at the start who exactly Foley was flirting with, the Democrats should have been far more cautious about what they said. All that's been accomplished by this scandal is to call into question one of the central erotic archetypes of gay male tradition -- the ephebic beauty of boys at their muscular peak between the ages of 16 and 18. It goes back through Western iconography from Michelangelo's nudes to Hadrian's Antinous and beyond that to Greek sculpture. It's a formula at the heart of Plato's dialogues, as in the Symposium, which shows Socrates in love with but also declining sex with the handsome young Alcibiades. In ancient Greek culture, an adult man could publicly profess his love for a young man without necessarily having sexual contact with him.

The Foley scandal exploded without any proof of a documented sex act -- unlike the case of the late congressman Gerry Studds, who had sex with a page and who was literally applauded by fellow Democrats when they refused to vote for his censure. In the Foley case, there was far more ambiguous evidence -- suggestive e-mails and instant messages. Matt Drudge, to his great credit, began hitting this issue right off the bat on his Web site and radio show. What does it mean for Democrats to be agitating over Web communications, which in my view fall under the province of free speech? It's a civil liberties issue. We can say that what Foley was doing was utterly inappropriate, professionally irresponsible, and in bad taste, but why were liberals fomenting a scandal day after day after day over words being used? And why didn't Democrats notice that they were drifting into an area which has been the province of the right wing -- that is, the attempt to gain authoritarian control over interpersonal communications on the Web? It's very worrisome and yet more proof that the Democrats have lost their way.
Not a good look.


Tags: , , , ,

posted by JReid @ 9:51 AM  
Seven reasons why Karl Rove is optimistic
The Hotline has them. The shorthand: enough Republican candidates are within the margin of error in the polls to be succssfully pushed over the finish line by the GOP's vaunted "72 hour strategy" on turnout (which will receive unlimited funding -- including deficit financing, in order to git'er done.) Besides, you poll-happy national newspapers may be entitled to your math, but Karl is entitled to THE math.

Meanwhile, a conservative icon says the current iteration of the Republican Party has nothing to offer true conservatives.

Meanwhile here in Florida, one potty-mouthed state representative hopes that he has nothing to offer local authorities.

... and the Tennessee Republicans play the oldest race card in the book:
The Tennessee Republican Party has sent out a flier with the tag line “Vote early to preserve your way of life” across the top.

Among the recipients of the flier was Rabbi Louis Zivic of Knoxville’s Heska Amuna Synagogue, who described the phrase as racially charged.

"I think it’s a subtle message, but it’s well understood," Zivic told the Forward. “I think this is all pitched sub rosa to people who have a tendency to be discriminatory."

In earlier decades, some white leaders used similar language in opposing civil rights for blacks, though Zivic was reluctant to draw a direct connection to fights over desegregation.

"I’m not sure I’d put it in terms of Jim Crow, that seems a little bit strong, particularly here in East Tennessee," the rabbi said. But it "means that in Tennessee we live life in a particular way. We cherish values like heterosexual marriage, we cherish values like family, and I think the implication is we want to stop further change, and of course the racial situation is part of what changes."
The flyer doesn't mention Harold Ford Jr. by name, but come on, guys. Come the hell on...

Tags: Republicans, , News, News and politics, , , , Government, Congress
posted by JReid @ 9:04 AM  
Let's go to the movies
Three controversial movies in the news this morning:

From Drudge, it seems that NBC/Universal and the new CW Television Network are refusing to air the trailer for the new movie "Shut up and Sing," which chronicles the firestorm over comments by Dixie Chicks front-runner Natalie Maines back in 2003, when she told a London audience during their concert that, "just so you know," the trio were "ashamed that President Bush is from (their native) Texas." Nice way to treat a movie about ... er ... free speech in America. Sez Drudgiepoo:

NBC and The CW Television Network have taken a stand against the Dixie’s Chicks new documentary “Shut Up & Sing” a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible political and media fallout that occurred in 2003 after the Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines said that she was "ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." “Shut Up & Sing” opens in theaters in NY and Los Angeles on Friday and in theaters nationwide on November 10th.

NBC responded to a clearance report submitted by the Weinstein Company’s media agency saying that the network “cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush.”

The CW Television Network responded that it does “not have appropriate programming in which to schedule this spot.”

Famed litigator David Boies stated, “It is disappointing and troubling that NBC and The CW would refuse to accept an otherwise appropriate ad merely because it is critical of President Bush."

Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company stated, “It’s a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America. The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is sad and profoundly un-American.”

The Weinstein Company is exploring taking legal action.
You can view the commercials and read comments on both sides of the Chicks controversy here or at the new blog Shut Up and Post.

Next up, it's Black Jesus! It's sure to inflame the whitie-righties, and that's why I LOVE IT!

And finally, "Death of a President" opens today, if you can find it. Here's where it's playing in South Florida.


Tags: ,

posted by JReid @ 8:29 AM  
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Yeah, we did it, and what are you gonna do about it?
Dick Cheney and company have been holding conservatives-only confabs, with winger radio hosts arrayed on the White House lawn and winger columnists getting special treatment from the House of Bush. One Fargo, North Dakotan talk radio host got an earful from Veep Vader, who apparently now feels free to talk about America's use of torture:
WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called "water-boarding," which creates a sensation of drowning.

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.

The U.S. Army, senior Republican lawmakers, human rights experts and many experts on the laws of war, however, consider water-boarding cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment that's banned by U.S. law and by international treaties that prohibit torture. Some intelligence professionals argue that it often provides false or misleading information because many subjects will tell their interrogators what they think they want to hear to make the water-boarding stop.

Republican Sens. John Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have said that a law Bush signed last month prohibits water-boarding. The three are the sponsors of the Military Commissions Act, which authorized the administration to continue its interrogations of enemy combatants.

The radio interview Tuesday was the first time that a senior Bush administration official has confirmed that U.S. interrogators used water-boarding against important al-Qaida suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged chief architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Mohammad was captured in Pakistan on March 1, 2003, and turned over to the CIA.

Water-boarding means holding a person's head under water or pouring water on cloth or cellophane placed over the nose and mouth to simulate drowning until the subject agrees to talk or confess.

Lee Ann McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, denied that Cheney confirmed that U.S. interrogators used water-boarding or endorsed the technique.

"What the vice president was referring to was an interrogation program without torture," she said. "The vice president never goes into what may or may not be techniques or methods of questioning."

In the interview on Tuesday, Scott Hennen of WDAY Radio in Fargo, N.D., told Cheney that listeners had asked him to "let the vice president know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it, if it saves American lives."

"Again, this debate seems a little silly given the threat we face, would you agree?" Hennen said.

"I do agree," Cheney replied, according to a transcript of the interview released Wednesday. "And I think the terrorist threat, for example, with respect to our ability to interrogate high-value detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, that's been a very important tool that we've had to be able to secure the nation."

Cheney added that Mohammed had provided "enormously valuable information about how many (al-Qaida members) there are, about how they plan, what their training processes are and so forth. We've learned a lot. We need to be able to continue that."

"Would you agree that a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" asked Hennen.

"It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president `for torture.' We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in," Cheney replied. "We live up to our obligations in international treaties that we're party to and so forth. But the fact is, you can have a fairly robust interrogation program without torture, and we need to be able to do that."
Here's the problem, Dick ... the United States has considered water boarding to be torrue for quite some time now:
In a recent investigative report, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito of ABC News described the CIA’s use of an interrogation technique called "waterboarding."

The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda's toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess.

In an editorial dated November 12, 2005 the Wall Street Journal denied that waterboarding was "...anything close to torture." ...

... So, who’s right? Is waterboarding torture, or is it merely a stressful psychological technique?

Interestingly, the United States has long since answered that question. Following the end of the Second World War we prosecuted a number of Japanese military and civilian officials for war crimes. including the torture of captured Allied personnel. At one of those trials, United States v. Sawada, here’s how Captain Chase Nielsen, a crew member in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan, described his treatment, when he was captured, (and later tried for alleged war crimes by a Japanese military commission):

Q: What other physical treatment was administered to you at that time?

A: Well, I was given what they call the water cure.

Q: Explain to the Commission what that was.

A: Well, I was put on my back on the floor with my arms and legs stretched out, one guard holding each limb. The towel was wrapped around my face and put across my face and water was poured on. They poured water on this towel until I was almost unconscious from strangulation, then they would let me up until I'd get my breath, then they'd start over again.

Q: When you regained consciousness would they keep asking you questions?

A: Yes sir they did.

Q: How long did this treatment continue?

A: About twenty minutes.

Q: What was your sensation when they were pouring water on the towel, what did you physically feel?

A: Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning, just gasping between life and death.

The prosecutor in that case was vehement in arguing that the captured Doolittle fliers had been wrongfully convicted by the Japanese tribunal, in part because they were convicted based on evidence obtained through torture. "The untrustworthiness of any admissions or confessions made under torture," he said, "would clearly vitiate a conviction based thereon."

At the end of the Tokyo War Crimes Trial, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East of which the United States was a leading member (the Tribunal was established by Douglas MacArthur) convicted former Japanese Prime Minister Tojo and numerous other generals and admirals of a panoply of war crimes. Among them was torture:

The practice of torturing prisoners of war and civilian internees prevailed at practically all places occupied by Japanese troops, both in the occupied territories and in Japan. The Japanese indulged in this practice during the entire period of the Pacific War. Methods of torture were employed in all areas so uniformly as to indicate policy both in training and execution. Among these tortures were the water treatment...
More on the "water treatment" here. More on the internationally accepted laws of war here. Note to self: the U.S. no longer considers itself bound the latter (and we're teaching other countries to do the same.) We are now positioned exactly the way the Japanese government was when it sentenced the Doolittle Fliers after torturing them with "the water treatment."

Shameful. Unless, of course, you're a so-called "conservative."


Tags: War On Terror, News, Politics, , ,

posted by JReid @ 9:37 AM  
The ticker
MyDD has put up the latest Senate forecast. It shows a slight put perceptible shift toward the GOP. The bottom line, the Dems need 7 seats to take over the Senate, and aggregated polls show Pennsylvania a virtual lock for the Dems, Ohio, Montana and Rhode Island leaning Dem, Virginia and Missouri now toss-ups, and Tennessee and Arizona looking better for the GOP. That particularly sucks, because I SO want Harold Ford Jr. to take that Bill Frist seat. I still think Ford can pull it out. Come on, Tennessee! Put the lie to the Ken Mehlman faint that all white southerners are racists. You should be insulted by that -- insulted enough to vote for change, and to put a young, smart, dynamic Senator in place of Bill FEC Frist.

Tags: News, News and politics, Politics, Republicans, , , , Democrats, Government, Congress, 2006
posted by JReid @ 8:48 AM  
The October Su-prise
The New Jersey Supreme Court may have just delivered the GOP's October Surprise.

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey's highest court opened the door Wednesday to making the state the second in the nation to allow gay marriage, ruling that lawmakers must offer same-sex couples either marriage or something like it, such as civil unions.

In a ruling that fell short of what either side wanted or most feared, the state Supreme Court declared that gay couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual ones. The justices gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite the laws.

The ruling is similar to the 1999 high-court ruling in Vermont that led the state to create civil unions, which confer all of the rights and benefits available to married couples under state law.

"Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state Constitution," Justice Barry T. Albin wrote for the four-member majority.

The court said the Legislature "must either amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or create a parallel statutory structure" that gives gays all the privileges and obligations married couples have.

The vote was 4-3, with the three dissenting justices arguing that the majority did not go far enough. They asserted that gay couples should have the "right to the title of marriage" as well as its benefits.

Gay rights activists had seen New Jersey as a promising place because it is a largely Democratic state in the Northeast. The only state to allow gay marriage is Massachusetts. The only states allowing civil unions are Vermont and Connecticut. New Jersey is also one of just five states that have no law or constitutional amendment expressly banning gay marriage.
The ruling doesn't go as far as Massachusetts, but those kinds uf subtleties won't mean much to the Republican Qaida (that's Arabic for "the base" for those of you who, like me, are not quite wide awake yet this morning.)

If the court had legalized gay marriage outright, the effect could have been more far-reaching, and New Jersey could have become more of a magnet for gay couples than Massachusetts, which has a law barring out-of-state couples from marrying there if their marriages would not be recognized in their home states. New Jersey has no such law.

A clear-cut ruling legalizing gay marriage this close to Election Day could also have been a political bombshell, galvanizing Republicans and the religious right. Eight states have gay marriage bans on their ballots in November.
Bob Menendez is struggling in New Jersey. Harold Ford is on the razor's edge in Tennessee. Both of those states have marriage amendents on the ballot. See where I'm going with this? So do other states where Democrats have potential to win in November, like Colorado (where Marilyn Musgrave is, or was, in jeopardy,) Arizona and Wisconsin. Like it or not, sports fans, there are real races out there where this could make a difference for the GOP.

Andrew Sullivan says the president should be fine with this, in theory. He's loving this quote from Bush in 2004:

"I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so. I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between a union between a man and a woman. Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others."
Yeah, well tell it to this guy:

GOP Assemblyman Richard Merkt said he would seek to have all seven justices impeached. "Neither the framers of New Jersey's 1947 constitution, nor the voters who ratified it, ever remotely contemplated the possibility of same-sex marriage," Merkt said.
And explain this to your average voter, who may not care about gay relationships per se, but who is made queasy by the idea of changing what marriage means in America:

Gay couples in New Jersey can already apply for domestic partnerships under a law passed in 2004. Among other things, domestic partnerships give couples the right to inherit possessions if there is no will and health care coverage for partners of state employees.
Oh, right. Forgot about the tax benefits -- the benefits which, because they are federal, gay couples won't be eligible for anyway, even if the New Jersey legislature goes whole hog for marriage. And while the ruling doesn't make gay marriage imminent, in the end, this close to election, it really doesn't matter. So while you're analyzing the decision, Americablog and others, remember that in politics, timing is everything, and two weeks is a lifetime. The right now has 13 days to exploit the Sam Hill out of this ruling, and its implications for switching a Republican House and Senate (or "Congress and Senate" as George Dubya said in his snoozer of a presser yesterday) to a "liberal" House and Senate would be the confirmation of ... wait for it ... judges.

More of the text of the ruling:

Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this State, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our State Constitution....

To bring the State into compliance with Article I, Paragraph 1 so that plaintiffs can exercise their full constitutional rights, the Legislature must either amend the marriage statutes or enact an appropriate statutory structure within 180 days of the date of this decision....

We will not presume that a separate statutory scheme, which uses a title other than marriage, contravenes equal protection principles, so long as the rights and benefits of civil marriage are made equally available to same-sex couples. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.
The operative word, for conservative voters, guys, is "left to the democratic process." You'll get it someday, netrootsers. But you'll have lost a lot of elections between now and then.

Update: James Dobson says the ruling means one thing: get out the vote:
Dr. Dobson said the ruling highlights the need for voters to enact state marriage-protection amendments to place the institution out of the reach of activist courts.

"We only hope the residents of the eight states who will vote on such amendments on Nov. 7 recognize that their state may be only one court ruling away from being forced to accept gay marriage — just as we've seen in Massachusetts and New Jersey," he said. "Nothing less than the future of the American family hangs in the balance if we allow one-man, one-woman marriage to be redefined out of existence.

"And, make no mistake; that is precisely the outcome the New Jersey Supreme Court is aiming for with this decision."

Tags: , Politics, elections, 2006
posted by JReid @ 7:15 AM  
Of mice and men
Wee, sleeket, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,...
... But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
For promis'd joy.

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But, och! I backward cast my e'e
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
-- Poem "To a Mouse" by Robert Burns

Yet another literary reference (Dante's "Inferno", the collected works of John Locke and something by Stephen King, etc.) but of course, "Lost" made no sense again tonight. Apparently there are two islands, a submarine (which seems to be where Jack is imprisoned), and that awful Ben has a giant spinal tumor. He also has a rabbit, like big, simple minded Lennie in John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." (Actually, I suppose Ben would be George and Sawyer would be Lennie, right? Hell, I'm confused...) "M and M" is also quoted in the episode, adding yet another literary reference to the most complicated, maddening goddamned show on television (and also the best.) I still don't get what is going on, but it's making me want to re-read some Steinbeck.

More on the plot summary of "Of Mice and Men". See if it helps:

Lennie is a large, physically strong man with the mind of a child, and George is a smaller, feeble bodied man with quick wit. The men are wandering ranch workers who travel together in search of any available opportunities to earn money. Lennie depends on George as does George on Lennie for all different times in their travels. The ideal objective of most ranch workers is to amass a sizeable fortune and eventually purchase a small farm, and "live offa the fatta the lan'." Lennie is driven to reach this objective by the prospect of "tending the rabbits". However, this goal appears to be nothing more than a distant dream until Candy, another worker on the farm, offers to contribute his savings for a place on the farm.

While subjected to the loneliness and mediocrity of the life they presently lead, George and Lennie's prospect of their own farm attracts yet another hopeful, Crooks, the Negro stable buck. Despite their best efforts, however, the dream begins to collapse, completely falling apart when Lennie accidentally killed Curley's wife by breaking her neck,he said to himself, "I done a bad thing. I done another bad thing. After Curley's wife, who is a promiscuous woman with a wandering eye, dies in his arms, Lennie escapes to the river where the story had begun, the place where George advised him to hide should he ever get into trouble (Note the circular ending: it suggests that the workers are trapped in the cycle forever).

To spare Lennie from Curley's revenge, which would entail much pain on Lennie's part, George quickly kills Lennie with a Luger pistol which he had stolen from Carlson earlier. He does this by coaxing Lennie with a description of the dream of their own farm, which captivates his attention and allows George to press the pistol to the back of Lennie's unsuspecting head and shoot him. Slim then takes George for a drink to settle his nerves. The last line of the book is delivered by Carlson, the ranch worker who kills Candy's old dog in a fashion similar to Lennie's killing (which foreshadows his death.) He says to Curley, "Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin' them two guys?" reflecting the fact that both characters never learned the value of compassion.

Not that it helps much, but it's more info than the "Lost" writers provide each week! Too tired to do it myself, but Mama has a good summary of tonight's ep. Gnight!


posted by JReid @ 12:05 AM  
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Appeal for redress
I'm on a conference call now regarding a mass "appeal for redress" being organized by active duty servicemen (it's up to 125 so far) who oppose the continued war in Iraq. The call comes on the same day GWB pulled another fast one on the press, promising to make news on Iraq, but instead rolling out the same old "victory" talking points.

These troops should expect to be hit hard -- very hard -- by the winger faithful, who will accuse them of being every manner of vile traitor. In my opinion, however, they are twice patriots -- once for putting on the uniform, and again for having the courage to challenge civilian authority when they feel it's in the best interest of their fellow troops, and the country. One of the soldiers on the call is anonymous. One of the other people on the call says that he has gotten "95% positive response from other members of the military.)



Tags: , Politics, Bush, War, News, War On Terror, Military, Middle East, Media

posted by JReid @ 12:08 PM  
Not to sound like Tom Cruise, but...
Ritalin ... for toddlers???
posted by JReid @ 9:48 AM  
Crist v. Davis, round one
I watched the Charlie Crist, Jim Davis debate last night (you can watch it here). My take: Davis was more coherent and I think he came off as more prepared and more sincere (so far, I think the preponderance of editorialists agree.) Crist is very tan, and that's great for TV, but he also came off as more slick and used car salesman-like. Both were on their talking points:

Crist - Davis has had a poor Congressional attendance record this year, and his insurance and tax plans are a "risky scheme"

Davis - I am the married father of two kids ... Charlie? Oh, that's right, you're not a married father of two kids. And Charlie Crist represents the "stay the course" Republicans, while I'm the agent of change.

Advantage: Davis.

Whether or not that will help Davis in the end, I still tend to doubt. Crist has more money and he and the Florida GOP are spending it more wisely. Davis got on TV too late, and he's doing an abysmal job of rallying the African-American base in South Florida. So while I think he won the debate on the merits, he still heads into November 7 behind.

Related: Charlie Cook cautiously predicts Dems will get enough seats to take the House. A LAT/Bloomberg poll casts doubt upon the Dems' Senate prospects. And the Florida secretary of state is up to the old Republican tricks again in the Foley/Negron race.


Tags: , , , , ,

posted by JReid @ 9:38 AM  
A lighter shade of pale
Is the GOP losing its grip on the Blacks and Hispanics it began to woo back in 2002? Signs point to discontent.
WASHINGTON — A major effort to draw Latinos and blacks into the Republican Party, a central element of the GOP plan to build a long-lasting majority, is in danger of collapse amid anger over the immigration debate and claims that Republican leaders have not delivered on promises to direct more money to church-based social services.

President Bush, strategist Karl Rove and other top Republicans have wooed Latino and black leaders, many of them evangelical clergy who lead large congregations, in hopes of peeling away the traditional Democratic base. But now some of the leaders who helped Bush win in 2004 are revisiting their loyalty to the Republican Party and, in some cases, abandoning it.

"There is a fissure, and I doubt it will be closed in this election," said the Rev. Luis Cortes Jr., a Republican who founded the annual National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast that has featured Bush every year since 2002. His Philadelphia-based Esperanza USA boasts a national affiliate network of more than 10,000 churches.

The Latino backlash has grown so intense that one prominent, typically pro-Republican organization, the Latino Coalition, has endorsed Democrats in competitive races this year in Tennessee, Nebraska and New Jersey. The coalition is chaired by Hector Barreto, the former administrator of the Small Business Administration under Bush; its president is a former strategist for the Republican National Committee.

The disaffection comes as Republicans face a challenge in building enthusiasm for the upcoming election among white evangelicals and other conservatives, who have been the core of the GOP's political base.

Taken together, the unhappiness among these groups could threaten GOP hopes of minimizing losses in the Nov. 7 congressional election and may undercut the party's goal of keeping the presidency in 2008. The Latino Coalition, for example, has endorsed the presumed Democratic presidential front-runner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), in her reelection bid this year.

Complaints among black pastors who had been courted by the White House — while less pronounced than those of Latino leaders — have been fueled by a tell-all book by former White House aide David Kuo. The new book says that Bush, referring to pastors from one major African American denomination, once griped: "Money. All these guys care about is money. They want money."

A White House spokeswoman said Friday that nobody there recalled hearing such a comment from the president.

The Rev. Eugene Rivers, a Boston Pentecostal minister and one of about two dozen black clergy invited to a series of White House meetings with Bush, said Friday that black leaders had been wooed with assurances that their social service groups would receive money from the president's faith-based initiative. But, Rivers said, the bulk of the money had gone to white organizations, leaving black churches on the sidelines.

Rivers plans to send a letter early this week to the White House demanding to know how much social services money has been directed to black churches under the faith-based initiative, and requesting a "new conversation" with Bush.
We've had Rivers on the program, and I can tell you that he has been a proponent of giving the GOP a chance since 2000 -- a position that was incredibly unpopular in the Black community. For him to be reassessing his position (although I could have told him they were full of crap) is significant.

Tags: Republicans,
posted by JReid @ 8:34 AM  
The unraveling
This is your State of the Republican Party report for today:

Curt Weldon disses the entire Navy ...

Here in Miami, a state representative answers the question, "how do you respond when someone accuses you of being a racist?" Answer: you prove them right, and then you go to rehab.

Meanwhile, GOP flunkie (and resident drug expert) Rush Limbaugh claims Michael J. Fox is faking the Parkinson's for Democratic TV ads. Experts tend to disagree. Rush has since backed down on the fakey stuff, but he still thinks the gimpy thing is a Democratic ploy akin to the Jersey Girls schtick.

And what does this wheelchair-bound candidate-slapping GOPer have to say? "I sorry..."

Down in Tennessee, the RNC is running a race-baiting TV ad against Harold Ford Jr. that apparently, Ken Mehlman, the guy who paid for the ad, is powerless to stop. If you'll be listening to right wing talk radio today, the phrase for today is "indendent expenditure..." TPM reveals that the RNC ad has a lot in common with one by a guy named ... er ... Corker...

Oh the Republican Party. Restoring honor and dignity to the political process.

Tags: News, News and politics, Politics, Republicans, , ,
posted by JReid @ 7:41 AM  
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Dubya loves the Google
George W. Bush is so high tech:
HOST: I’m curious, have you ever googled anybody? Do you use Google?

BUSH: Occasionally. One of the things I’ve used on the Google is to pull up maps. It’s very interesting to see — I’ve forgot the name of the program — but you get the satellite, and you can — like, I kinda like to look at the ranch. It remind me of where I wanna be sometimes.

Tags: Bush
posted by JReid @ 11:08 AM  
The authoritarian follower
We have a new crank at the station. He calls himself Ralphie, and sometimes Art. He is the classic Bush-bot, calling in to scream about how Democrats and the media are treasonous by not supporting the president and undermining the war, supporting the terrorists and being evil racist somnabitches in general, Robert Byrd blah blah blah. He screeched the talking points for two straight days of useless screeds, and exhibited what I think is the classic authoritarian follower personality. To review: the authoritarian follower exhibits the following personality traits:

- excessive conformity
- submissiveness to authority
- intolerance
- insecurity
- superstition
- ridged, stereotyped thought patterns
And this:

Adorno identified the authoritarian personality type as having these characteristics.

The authoritarian personality does not want to give orders, their personality type wants to take orders. People with this type of personality seek conformity, security, stability. They become anxious and insecure when events or circumstances upset their previously existing world view. They are very intolerant of any divergence from what they consider to be the normal (which is usually conceptualized in terms of their religion, race, history, nationality, culture, language, etc.) They tend to be very superstitious and lend credence to folktales or interpretations of history that fit their preexisting definitions of reality (thus the Founding Fathers of the US are conceptualized of as supporters of white nationalism.) They think in extremely stereotyped ways about minorities, women, homosexuals, etc. They are thus very dualistic- the world is conceived in terms of absolute right (their way) Vs. absolute wrong (the "other" whether African American, liberal, intellectual, feminist, etc.)

... or Muslims, for that matter ... Recognize yourself, Bush-bots?


Tags: ,

posted by JReid @ 9:55 AM  
Active duty military members to speak out on Iraq
From U.S. Newswire:

News Advisory:

For the first time since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, active- duty members of the military are asking Members of Congress to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and bring American soldiers home.

Sixty-five active-duty members have sent Appeals for Redress to Members of Congress. Three of these people (including two who served in Iraq) and their attorney will speak about this on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. EDT.

Under the Military Whistle-Blower Protection Act (DOD directive 7050.6), active-duty military, National Guard and Reservists can file and send a protected communication to a Member of Congress regarding any subject without reprisal.

What: Three active-duty members of the military and their lawyer, a retired U.S. Marine Corps JAG, make comments and take questions from the media.
I'll get on that conference call and report back tomorrow. I will say this, though. For five dozen active duty military personnel to send such urgent messages to Congress, things really must be shitty for them in Iraq.

More on the Military Whistleblower Protection Act here and here.

Tags: , Politics, Bush, War, News, War On Terror, Military, Middle East, Media
posted by JReid @ 9:46 AM  
The abuse excuse
President Bush wanted to inspire the world to follow the U.S. model of democracy. Now, with his administration's embrace of secret detentions, kangaroo court trials and torture, he may have finally gotten his wish. Great work, Dubya!


Tags: , CountDown, MSNBC, War On Terror, News, Politics, , , ,

posted by JReid @ 9:36 AM  
The Tuesday groove
A new ABC/WashPost poll finds that independents now favor the Democratic Party over the GOP 59% to 31%. And Americans who cite the Iraq war as the most important issue determining their vote next month favor Dems 72% to 21%. Just 23% of indies feel that the country is headed in the right direction.

A new USAT/Gallup poll says just 19% of Americans believe we're winning the war in Iraq.

A group of housing activists have set up a tent city in the Liberty City neighborhood in Miami (the same neighborhood where the supposed Black not-quite-Muslim "terrorists" came from.) They're saying that if the city and county won't provide housing for the poor, they will. The group, led by folks we know well at the station, used a 1989 court rulling, Pottinger v. Miami, in which the city settled a case by agreeing to no longer harass or arrest homeless people who are engaged in "life sustaining" activities -- like squatting on public land. Novel approach to a growing housing crisis -- and I underscore crisis, in South Florida.

Inquiring minds in Latin America want to know: why would President Bush purchase 100,000 acres in Paraguay?

China continues to top the list of creepy countries when it comes to the Internet. releases its list of the top 49 men. Bill Clinton comes in at #10, Jay Z is #2 and George Clooney tops the charts.

Katherine Harris debated Bill Nelson last night. Sorry I missed that one ...

America drops to #53 on the rankings for global press freedom. We were #17 in 2002. We tied with Botswana, Croatia and Tonga. Great. This should help, right Duncan Hunter?

Tags: News, News and politics,
posted by JReid @ 9:18 AM  
Even Steven?
After trailing by double digits pretty much since the beginning of time, Tampa Congressman Jim Davis has suddenly pulled into a statistical tie with Jeb Bush's annointed successor, current A.G. Charlie Crist, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, which shows Crist up by just 46-44, with 8 percent undecided and an even more interesting 11 percent saying they could still change their minds before election day. What gives? Could be that Davis finally started airing television ads, which helped him drastically reduce the "who the heck is Jim Davis?" factor among registered voters. Davis' 15-second spots are hellafied late, and he still has no real presence on radio (including our radio station, where the Dems have yet to air a single spot) ... but at least he's on TV. Two interesting findings from the poll: the key to Davis' forward momentum is two-fold -- independents and women:

The change from an October 10 poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe- ack) University, showing Crist ahead 53 - 43 percent, is almost all because of a 21-point shift to Rep. Davis among independent voters who went from 50 - 43 percent for Crist to 50 - 36 percent for Davis. Davis leads among Democrats 74 - 19 percent, while Crist is ahead among Republicans 85 - 8 percent. ...

...There also is a large gender gap, with men backing the Republican 56 - 34 percent and women backing the Democrat 54 - 38. ...

..."Although women generally vote more Democratic and men more Republican, the size of the gender gap in the governor's race is extraordinary.

"In the last two weeks, Davis has hit a chord with women. He had been tied with Crist among female voters; now he leads by 16 points. It isn't enough to offset Crist's 22 point lead among men, but it has gotten him back in the game," said Brown.
Davis still has a major problem, that at this point, I still think will be fatal for his candidacy, and it's that 19 percent of Democratic voters who are crossing over to Crist. And that includes some Black voters, who are proving to be much warmer toward Chain Gang Charlie than they are toward the man whose handpicked successor he is -- Jeb Bush. Meanwhile, on the "I heard that!" tip, Alcee Hastings says Davis is just too nicey-nicey (in other words, he's a typical white-gloved Dem):

Democratic U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings of Miramar said Saturday that it's a good thing he's not running for governor against Republican Charlie Crist.

Some say that the Democratic nominee, Jim Davis, could be tougher on Crist.

"I'm not as nice as Jim Davis,'' Hastings told about 50 black elected officials and clergy members gathered in Lauderhill. "I would rip the hide off of him.''
I heard that!

Another interesting thing in the Q-poll: Democratis supporting Jim Davis are much more partisan than Republicans, with 46% saying they support Davis based on his stand on issues versus 39% who cite his party and just 2% who cite his experience, while 48% of Crist voters cite his stand on issues, with just 15% citing his political party and 22% citing his experience as their main reason for supporting the sitting attorney general for governor. Just 7% of Crist supporters cite his "personal qualities" versus a minuscule 3% of Davis backers.

And speaking of Jeb, the split is 46%-45% on whether Florida likely voters want to continue his policies or change direction. Among Republicans, the split is 81%-14% in favor of staying the course, for Dems it's 74%-20% the other way, and independents go 40% for continuing Jeb's policies, 45% for change, and a high 16% who aren't sure. Most men say stay the course (57%-34%) and women say no way (55%-36%).

So who has the advantage? I'd still say Charlie Crist, but the two men debate tonight, and Davis is clearly closing the gap, so anything could happen.

Tags: , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 6:10 AM  
Monday, October 23, 2006
Photo of the day: Happy Dubya

He may have driven the world off a cliff, but this guy's got a parachute. (Hat tip to Dependable Renegade, and kudos on the great headline.)

posted by JReid @ 9:50 AM  
Material support
A caller to the morning show to ask how the new Military Commissions Act would define "material support" given to terrorists. Here's a clip from testimony by constitutional expert David Cole back in 2004 on the subject:

In this testimony, I will briefly set forth the three federal legal regimes that penalize “material support” to “terrorist organizations,” and then discuss the principal constitutional objections that they raise. In summary, the constitutional problems raised by these schemes are threefold.

First, all of these statutes impose guilt by association, in violation of both the First and Fifth Amendments, because they hold individuals responsible not for their own terrorist conduct, not even for support of terrorist conduct, but for support of groups that in turn have engaged in terrorist conduct.
Second, 18 U.S.C. §2339B, as amended by the USA Patriot Act, is unconstitutionally vague and infringes on constitutionally protected speech, because it penalizes pure speech, without requiring any showing that the speech is intended and likely to produce imminent lawless action, as required by the Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969).

Third, all of these statutes infringe on basic due process protections, because they grant the Executive virtually unfettered discretion to blacklist disfavored organizations and individuals, without affording them any adequate process to challenge their designation.

1. The Legal Regimes that Regulate Support to "Terrorist Organizations"

Three different federal statutes authorize executive officials to designate “terrorist organizations” and punish “material support” provided to them. All three statutes share a common attribute – they penalize support of designated groups without regard to whether the individual who provided support did so to discourage or encourage violence, and without regard to the effect of the support in question. In addition, all three statutes afford the executive branch a virtual blank check in blacklisting disfavored groups.

Welcome to the new world order. Think at your own risk.


Tags: , CountDown, MSNBC, War On Terror, News, Politics, , ,

posted by JReid @ 9:48 AM  
The genteel revolution
Forget about the Democratic push for change. Whether or not the Dems win back one or both houses of Congress, there are indications that at least one Bush administration policy is going to change, whether the president likes it or not. That policy is Iraq. First from the Guardian's Julian Borger, with a hat tip to Steven Clemons of TWN, who is also quoted in the piece:
A "polite rebellion" is under way among previously loyal allies of President Bush aimed at persuading him to change course in Iraq and quietly abandon the foreign policy doctrine he had hoped would be the centrepiece of his legacy.
Many senior Republicans believe the "Bush Doctrine" has hit a wall in Iraq and lies in ruins. The rebels, including many foreign policy veterans close to the president's father, see it as an obstacle to stabilising Iraq and extricating US forces. But they have decided that earlier, head-on challenges have only deepened the president's resolve, and a less confrontational approach was needed that avoided blame for past mistakes if there was to be any hope of a fundamental rethink.

"It's a polite rebellion by moderate and military-minded Republicans," said Steven Clemons, a Washington analyst. "Any walk-away from the Bush line is going to be covered with a lot of cosmetics to make it look like it's not really a big change."

The focus of the new approach is the Iraq Study Group (ISG), a bipartisan commission co-chaired by the first President Bush's secretary of state, James Baker, which will present its recommendations after the November elections.

Those elections are another reason for urgency. If the Democrats capture the House of Representatives, as expected, they will be in a position to cut funding for the war if they are not listened to. Even if they fall short of an absolute majority in the Senate, there are now Republican senators signalling that they could side with the opposition if there is not a decisive rethink on Iraq. David Mack, a diplomat in the first Bush administration who helped rally Arab support for the Gulf War, said: "We are really at a point where any talk of victory is an illusion."
And now, straight from the Clemons' mouth:
These points are all speculative, but they are part of the roster of topics many senior foreign policy hands think may be in the Baker-Hamilton report.

I spoke with someone close to Senator John Warner last night who confirmed that the Senator has not been misunderstood by the media. He is determined to compel the White House to change course in Iraq if the Oval Office doesn't do it on its own.

The problem with the Baker-Hamilton Report is that it doesn't solve the internal policy management and implementation problems inside the White House. Baker becomes just another voice of other contending voices -- and even if elevated to be the President's Special Envoy for the Middle East, it's not clear that the deep dysfunction that exists now and which paralyzes the inter-agency process will be fixed.

Cheney's team must be neutralized and set to the side of the policy process -- clearly demoted and moved out of the way for any Baker type plan to succeed in shaping an alternative direction.

Many see Rumsfeld's days now being really, really, really numbered -- and that he'll be gone soon. But that is not enough.

Cheney controls the interagency process through his minions. They need to be identified, demoted, moved to desks with good views of the garden, and kept away from this next round of policy work, coordination, and implementation.
Clemons reports that Cheney remains the biggest roadblock to implementing changes in U.S. Iraq policy. But he is coming up against a growing list of disgruntled Republicans -- even Kay Bailey Hutchinson for god's sake, and she's about as big a Bush-bot as you'll find in Congress. She now calls herself clueless on the subject in the beginning.

Part of what this proves is that while Baker may have been willing to be Dubya's bag man in Florida in 2000, he was and remains Bush I's bag man first and foremost. This is the father working his will on the son, perhaps against the son's will. Or maybe Dubya is welcoming a way to get himself out from under Dick Cheney and the neocons.

We'll see what happens.

Tags: , Politics, Bush, War,
posted by JReid @ 9:34 AM  
Spin doctor smackdown
I wonder how tight the thumb screws were...
Spin doctor retracts US arrogance remarks

Staff and agencies
Monday October 23, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

Washington's top foreign affairs spin doctor today apologised for accusing the US government of "arrogance" and "stupidity" in its policy on Iraq.
A day after his remarks were broadcast on al-Jazeera television, Alberto Fernandez, the director of public diplomacy in the state department's bureau of near eastern affairs, issued a terse written apology through the department's press office.

"Upon reading the transcript of my appearance on al-Jazeera, I realised that I seriously misspoke by using the phrase 'there has been arrogance and stupidity' by the US in Iraq," Mr Fernandez said.


Spin doctor retracts US arrogance remarks

Staff and agencies
Monday October 23, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

Alberto Fernandez said the phrase did not represent his views or those of the state department. Photograph: Guardian

Washington's top foreign affairs spin doctor today apologised for accusing the US government of "arrogance" and "stupidity" in its policy on Iraq.
A day after his remarks were broadcast on al-Jazeera television, Alberto Fernandez, the director of public diplomacy in the state department's bureau of near eastern affairs, issued a terse written apology through the department's press office.

"Upon reading the transcript of my appearance on al-Jazeera, I realised that I seriously misspoke by using the phrase 'there has been arrogance and stupidity' by the US in Iraq," Mr Fernandez said.

Article continues



"This represents neither my views nor those of the state department. I apologise."
Mr Fernandez recorded his unusually candid comments during an interview with the Arabic satellite channel in Washington on Friday. Speaking in Arabic, he said the US had "tried to do our best [in Iraq], but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq".

"If we are witnessing failure in Iraq, it's not the failure of the United States alone. Failure would be a disaster for the region." The remarks were widely reported across the region.

US officials had sought to play down Mr Fernandez's assessment of the security situation in Iraq.

The state department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters that Mr Fernandez said after the broadcast he doubted reports of his comments were an "accurate reflection of what he said". Asked whether the Bush administration believed that history would show a record of arrogance or stupidity in Iraq, Mr McCormack replied, "No".

However, a transcript of Mr Fernandez's comments, translated into English by the Associated Press, revealed the accuracy of the reported quotes.
But wait, there's more:
Among several controversial statements, Mr Fernandez ruled out a military solution in Iraq. He said the US was ready to talk with any Iraqi group - with the exception of al-Qaida in Iraq - to reach national reconciliation and try to end sectarian conflict and the nationalist insurgency.

Again, the thumb screws...

posted by JReid @ 9:30 AM  
Damn, I need HBO
Bill Maher comes up with a great "new rule" (ht to C&L):
Maher: And finally, new rule in two parts: (A) You can't call yourself a think tank if all your ideas are stupid; and (B) If you're someone from one of these think tanks that dreamed up the Iraq War and who predicted that we'd be greeted as liberators, and that we wouldn't need a lot of troops, and that Iraqi oil would pay for the war, that the WMD's would be found, that the looting wasn't problematic, that the mission was accomplished, that the insurgency was in its last throes, that things would get better after the people voted, after the government was formed, after we got Saddam, after we got his kids, after we got Zarqawi, and that whole bloody mess wouldn't turn into a civil war, you have to stop making predictions.
I see you, Bill Kristol...!

Tags: , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 8:34 AM  
Shame on Israel
They admit to dropping white phosphorus bombs on Lebanon.


Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon

posted by JReid @ 8:21 AM  
A textbook case of 'grooming'
The WaPo describes how Mark Foley operated in Washington, and how he repeatedly and doggedly sought to groom "hot boy" pages into potential paramours.

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posted by JReid @ 8:18 AM  
God don't like ugly
John Spencer (don't feel badly if you don't know who he is. Nobody really does. He's the guy running for Senate against Hillary Clinton) couldn't debate his way out of a paper bag. So what to do? Sit next to a reporter on Jet Blue and suggest a paper bag for Hillary! Very classy. Deranged and stupid... yet classy.
Hillary Clinton's Republican challenger is getting personal and it's not pretty: He says the senator used to be ugly - and speculates she got "millions of dollars" in plastic surgery.

"You ever see a picture of her back then? Whew," said John Spencer of Clinton's younger days.

"I don't know why Bill married her," he said of the Clintons, who celebrated their 31st anniversary this month.

Noting Hillary Clinton looks much different now, he chalked it up to "millions of dollars" of "work" - plastic surgery.

"She looks good now," he said.
Gee, thanks. I'm sure she's grateful for the compliment.
Spencer's bizarre comments came during a conversation with a reporter seated beside him and his wife, Kathy, on the 10:30 a.m. JetBlue flight Friday to Rochester, the site of the race's first debate.

In the wide-ranging chat, he also declared that his GOP running mate, attorney general hopeful Jeanine Pirro, was going to lose.
Yep. That ought to endear him to the party. The RSCC money should come flooding in any minute now.

Fortunately, this loon never had a prayer of beating Hillary anyway. But his remarks show just how low in the barrel the New York Republican Party is scraping for talent these days.

Tags: , Clinton, Politics, HILLARY CLINTON, Elections,
posted by JReid @ 5:53 AM  
Friday, October 20, 2006
Blind, deaf and dumb
One more reason to vote, courtesy of The Hill:
Following a tumultuous summer of surging gas prices, war between Israel and Lebanon and more bad news from Iraq, Republicans returned from the August recess and watched President Bush’s approval numbers stabilize along with gas prices. National security dominated the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 and the weeks that followed. Despite grumbling from their conservative base, including activists who said the party needed the medicine of an electoral defeat, Republicans didn’t feel they were ailing. They looked forward to continued control of Congress.

“I don’t see the need for changes. We rise and fall with the president in this environment,” said Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee on the day before the Foley story broke. Davis said any significant loss would prompt an examination, but, “If we hold it together I don’t think you will see any change at all.”

Message: stay the course. My advice? These guys have learned nothing, and they won't change a thing if you leave them in place. Time to cut and run, folks.

Tags: , , Republicans, Government, Congress, 2006
posted by JReid @ 12:16 AM  
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The 'ick' factor
Reporter A.B. Stoddard of The Hill newspaper posited on Olbermann tonight that Mark Foley, whom she seems to have spoken to of late, may be deliberately using the drip, drip, drip of sexual revalations about his past to exact revenge on the GOP for throwing him overboard. Meanwhile, if there is a gay Republican backlash against the gay Republican backlash, it also involves the former clerk of the House, Jeff Trendahl (an openly gay Hastert appointee,) who apparently told the ethics committee that not only was Speaker Hastert's senior staff, including his chief counsel, "regularly briefed" on the party's Foley problem, the problem wasn't just Foley -- there may have been a "problem group of members" and staff who were spending too much time hanging around the pages, according to the latest scoop from ABC News' Brian Ross. Hm. Well that's never happened before...

Back to Foley, however. He has now outed the priest who allegedly molested him. And that extra creepy priest has copped to copping a few naked feels on the then-13 year old Foley. ...The priest, Rev. Anthony Mercieca (not to be confused with "macaca,") who makes Foley look positively un-creepy by comparison -- helpfully adds that, as in Foley's own adventures with under-aged males, there "was no penetration..." Okay, I'm feeling ill. Oh, and guess what? He was "taking pills" and having a nervous breakdown at the time. Rehab, anyone???

Unrelated (probably) but interesting: a judge has ordered the release of the infamous Cheney visiting logs. Wonder how many times Jeff Gannon's name will show up (and was he wearing buttless chaps?)

Tags: , , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 11:03 PM  
The authoritarian nightmare, day three
Day three of the end of habeas corpus and I'm still depressed. I said once, I think in a column or an earlier incarnation of my web-site, that we are living in a post-Constitutional era. I had no idea that would go from being figuratively, to literally, true. And still, I see very little outrage about the loss of our most fundamental freedom - the right not to be dragged off into a secret prison and put on triali in front of a kangaroo court at the whim of the president -- with death hanging over your head, simply because the American people are too afraid to bother questioning the extraordinary powers being amassed by this president with the consent of a feckless Congress only concerned with its own reelection. (Sigh.) And oh, by the way, that ridiculous dirty bomb plot on the football games? Not so much. As Keith Olbermann pointed out last night, one of the "targeted stadiums" doesn't even exist. When's the last time you've been to a football game in New York??? You can't even get a good October surprise out of these morons anymore.

Anyway, I thought in my doldrums I'd post Johnathan Turley's comments from Tuesday's "Countdown," only because he sounded even more downtrodden than me...

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, President Bush, happy Habeas Corpus Day. First thing this morning, the president signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which does away with habeas corpus, the right of suspected terrorists or anybody else to know why they have been imprisoned, provided the president does not think it should apply to you and declares you an enemy combatant.

Further, the bill allows the CIA to continue using interrogation techniques so long as they do not cause what is deemed, quote, “serious physical or mental pain.” And it lets the president to ostensibly pick and choose which parts of the Geneva Convention to obey, though to hear him describe this, this repudiation of the freedoms for which all our soldiers have died is a good thing.


BUSH: This bill spells out specific, recognizable offenses that would be considered crimes in the handling of detainees, so that our men and women who question captured terrorists can perform their duties to the fullest extent of the law. And this bill complies with both the spirit and the letter of our international obligations.


OLBERMANN: Leading Democrats view it differently, Senator Ted Kennedy calling this “seriously flawed,” Senator Patrick Leahey saying it‘s, quote, “a sad day when the rubber-stamp Congress undercuts our freedoms,” and Senator Russ Feingold adding that “We will look back on this day as a stain on our nation‘s history.”

Outside the White House, a handful of individuals protested the law by dressing up as Abu Ghraib abuse victims and terror detainees. Several of them got themselves arrested, but they were apparently quickly released, despite being already dressed for Gitmo.

To assess what this law will truly mean for us all, I‘m joined by Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University.

As always, sir, great thanks for your time.


OLBERMANN: I want to start by asking you about a specific part of this act that lists one of the definitions of an unlawful enemy combatant as, quote, “a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a combatant status review tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the president or the secretary of defense.”

Does that not basically mean that if Mr. Bush or Mr. Rumsfeld say so, anybody in this country, citizen or not, innocent or not, can end up being an unlawful enemy combatant?

TURLEY: It certainly does. In fact, later on, it says that if you even give material support to an organization that the president deems connected to one of these groups, you too can be an enemy combatant.

And the fact that he appoints this tribunal is meaningless. You know, standing behind him at the signing ceremony was his attorney general, who signed a memo that said that you could torture people, that you could do harm to them to the point of organ failure or death.

So if he appoints someone like that to be attorney general, you can imagine who he‘s going be putting on this board.

OLBERMANN: Does this mean that under this law, ultimately the only thing keeping you, I, or the viewer out of Gitmo is the sanity and honesty of the president of the United States?

TURLEY: It does. And it‘s a huge sea change for our democracy. The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood of the president. In fact, Madison said that he created a system essentially to be run by devils, where they could not do harm, because we didn‘t rely on their good motivations.

Now we must. And people have no idea how significant this is. What, really, a time of shame this is for the American system. What the Congress did and what the president signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values.

It couldn‘t be more significant. And the strange thing is, we‘ve become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. I mean, the Congress just gave the president despotic powers, and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to, you know, “Dancing with the Stars.” I mean, it‘s otherworldly.

OLBERMANN: Is there one defense against this, the legal challenges against particularly the suspension or elimination of habeas corpus from the equation? And where do they stand, and how likely are they to overturn this action today?

TURLEY: Well, you know what? I think people are fooling themselves if they believe that the courts will once again stop this president from taking over—taking almost absolute power. It basically comes down to a single vote on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy. And he indicated that if Congress gave the president these types of powers, that he might go along.

And so we may have, in this country, some type of ueber-president, some absolute ruler, and it‘ll be up to him who gets put away as an enemy combatant, held without trial.

It‘s something that no one thought—certainly I didn‘t think—was possible in the United States. And I am not too sure how we got to this point. But people clearly don‘t realize what a fundamental change it is about who we are as a country. What happened today changed us. And I‘m not too sure we‘re going to change back anytime soon.

OLBERMANN: And if Justice Kennedy tries to change us back, we can always call him an enemy combatant.

The president reiterated today the United States does not torture. Does this law actually guarantee anything like that?

TURLEY: That‘s actually when I turned off my TV set, because I couldn‘t believe it. You know, the United States has engaged in torture. And the whole world community has denounced the views of this administration, its early views that the president could order torture, could cause injury up to organ failure or death.

The administration has already established that it has engaged in things like waterboarding, which is not just torture. We prosecuted people after World War II for waterboarding prisoners. We treated it as a war crime. And my God, what a change of fate, where we are now embracing the very thing that we once prosecuted people for.

Who are we now? I know who we were then. But when the president said that we don‘t torture, that was, frankly, when I had to turn off my TV set.

OLBERMANN: That same individual fell back on the same argument that he‘d used about the war in Iraq to sanction this law. Let me play what he said and then ask you a question about it.


BUSH: Yet with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few. Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously? And did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?


OLBERMANN: Does he understand the irony of those words when taken out of the context of this particular passage or of what he perceives as the war against terror, and that, in fact, the threat we may be facing is the threat of President George W. Bush?

TURLEY: Well, this is going to go down in history as one of our greatest self-inflicted wounds. And I think you can feel the judgment of history. It won‘t be kind to President Bush.

But frankly, I don‘t think that it will be kind to the rest of us. I think that history will ask, Where were you? What did you do when this thing was signed into law? There were people that protested the Japanese concentration camps, there were people that protested these other acts. But we are strangely silent in this national yawn as our rights evaporate.

OLBERMANN: Well, not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but I think we‘ve done a little bit of what we could have done, and...

TURLEY: That‘s true.

OLBERMANN: ... I‘ll see you at Gitmo. Jonathan Turley, constitutional law professor at George Washington University. As always, greatest thanks for your time, Jon.

TURLEY: Thanks, Keith.
You can read Keith's special comment on the "beginning of the end of America", which he did on Wednesday, here. He sounds more depressed than me, too.


Tags: , CountDown, MSNBC, War On Terror, News, Politics, , ,

posted by JReid @ 10:38 PM  
Not so sweet 16
Americans' approval of Congress falls to an abysmal 16 percent -- a 14-year low. By that standard, President Bush is positively God-like. And what is Sir Dubya up to ... or down to ... these days? Why, he's putting his 30 percent approval ratings to work for the high brow candidates: "I cheated on my wife but didn't beat my mistress, no matter what that 911 call and police report say" Pennsylvania Don Sherwood and George "Macaca" Allen of Virginia. And here's the really funny part: Allen actually kind of acted like he was embarassed to be seen with Bush ... and spent their photo op pressing close to one of his "Black friends..."
Bush, whose low approval ratings and identification with the unpopular war in Iraq has caused some Republicans to see him as a liability, tried to keep the focus on his contentions that Democrats would go soft on the war on terror and raise taxes if handed a majority in the November elections.

But the pictures of the day were of Bush descending from Air Force One in Pennsylvania alongside Sherwood, his wife and one of their daughters, who were secreted onto the plane to set up the photo-op, and of the grinning foursome's appearance later at a local farmer's ice cream store.

Allen opted for a slightly less robust presidential embrace, merely greeting Bush at the bottom of his airplane's stairs and keeping a bit of a distance on their pumpkin-buying stop at a roadside stand. Sticking closely by Allen's side throughout was state Sen. Benjamin Lambert, who is black and a Democrat who has endorsed the GOP senator.
Ha! Now ain't that a kick in the head...

Tags: , , Republicans, Bush, Government, Congress, 2006, George Allen, macaca
posted by JReid @ 10:26 PM  
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Bet the farm
Katherine Harris is insane. Soon, she may also be homeless ... at least, in Washington.
posted by JReid @ 2:21 PM  
The Congress that lost the Constitution
When the history of the 109th Congress is written, they will go down in American lore as the body that swept us backward more than 200 years, handing George Bush Jr. the powers the Founding Fathers quite deliberately took away from King George III.

Under the newly passed Military Commissions Act of 2006 (Wikipedia version here), the president of the United States has the unilateral power, unchecked by any court, or even by the flaccid Congress itself, to arrest and detain any person, citizen or non-citizen, hold them as an "enemy combatant," subject them to "water boarding" and other torture techniquest to obtain a "confession," try them before a military commission without telling them why, or presenting evidence against them to their attorneys (assuming he allows them to be represented by an attorney of their choice,) obtain a conviction based on evidence derived from torture (indemnify the participants in that torture from prosecution,) and subject the detainee to the death penalty. And the president can do this, not only for suspected terrorism, but also for the crime of "providing material support to terrorists." If you are one of the many journalists routinely derided by the authoritarian crowd as stoking jihadis by not writing pro-Bush propaganda about the war or the so-called "war on terror," that last part should ring particularly bitterly in your ears.

This Congress, including the so-called "moderate" Republicans who capitulated to it, the rabid, right wing GOPers who pused it, the weaselly Democrats who supported it, and those who failed to stop it with a fillibuster (not to mention the Democrats who were strangely silent after its signing), will go down as the most feckless, the most cowardly, and the most brazenly disdainful of the Constitution of any that has sat on Capitol Hill. They threw away their power, and handed dictatorial powers to the president, not because it somehow makes the country better -- and despite the fact that this bill, by suspending habeas corpus, violates the plain language of the Constitution -- but because they believe it will help them stay elected. Our rights, and the one thing that separates this country even from our allies, making us special -- our Constitution -- tossed aside by a den of cowards and thieves simply for political expediency, and we have to suspect, to keep the doors open to their own hog-slovenly graft.

Among the few heroes in this sordid mess were Senators Russ Feingold, Patrick Leahy, Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Jay Rockefellar and Carl Levin, who pushed hard for amendments that would have sunsetted the bill, preserved habeas corpus, and outlawed waterboarding and other torture techniques. (Ole Arlen pushed an amendment too, but when it failed, he voted for the damned bill anyway...) They were also among the few Democrats who had the guts to come out against the bill publicly. For all his "liar liar" tough talk, I didn't hear a peep from once and future presidential also-ran John Kerry. (On the House side, I'm proud to say our South Florida congressmen, Kendrick Meek, Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman-Scultz, along with Tim Ryan in Ohio, Ben Cardin in Maryland and other Dems, were among the 170 patriots who voted no.)

Meanwhile, the likes of John Ashcroft says we'll just have to trust President Bush not to abuse his powers. And as awful a president as he is, I guess we'll also have to trust that we the voters don't do even worse than him, and that the next president, and the next, and the next, can be "trusted" to only waterboard the "bad people," too. And his successor? Oh, he's the guy who wrote a memo saying it's perfectly acceptable for the U.S. to put aside the "quaint" niceties of the Geneva Conventions so long as we don't cause organ failure in our detainees.

So now, under this mad president and this shameful Congress, the federal government has the power to:

Check your library reading and even access your credit report without your knowledge (USA Patriot Act II)
Conduct a "sneak and peek" search of your home without ever informing you they were there (Patriot Act II)
Compel others, including your frriends, employer and your ISP, to turn over information about you to the government (Patriot Act II)
Arrest you and hold you for trial as an "enemy combatant" on the whim of the president and his self-appointed "judicial board" (Military Commissions Act of 2006)
Subject you to the death penalty without ever telling you what you are being charged with or what evidence they have that you are a terrorist (Military Commissions Act)
Track your phone, cellphone or email account, whether or not you are an American citizen (NSA warrantless surveilance program)
And now, theye're coming for your ISP. The latest wrinkle is that the Bush FBI wants to track what you're doing on the Internet.

Oh, but only "the terrorists" will be targeted ... not the good people who support the president.

That's what we're down to, America.


Update:Just for posterity, here were the Senate "no" votes:

Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Chafee (R-RI)
Clinton (D-NY)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dayton (D-MN)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Leahy (D-VT)

Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island was the only Republican no voter. Even my favorite Republican, Chuck Hagel, voted for this monstrosity. What a disappointment. (Olympia Snowe sat out the vote).


Tags: , CountDown, MSNBC, War On Terror, News, Politics, ,
posted by JReid @ 1:25 PM  
Foley to name names
Mark Foley has only been an out of the closet gay man for a couple of weeks, and already he's exhibiting exreme diva-like behavior! The disgraced boy page chaser is putting a name to his excuse of record (besides the alcoholism) -- namely, the Catholic priest he says sexually abused him when he himself was old enough to be an irresistible Capitol Hill mail runner. Taking up the challenge thrown down by the Archdiocese of Miami's attorney more than a week ago, Foley will reportedly name his alleged abuser soon. Well that should clear up all that Instant Message stuff... So where to narrow down the suspects?
A lifelong Catholic, Foley served as an altar boy at Sacred Heart Parish in Lake Worth and attended Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach until transferring to Lake Worth Community High School in 1971.

Meanwhile, the GOP is wondering how to make old Mark just shut up and stop focusing attention on himself.

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posted by JReid @ 1:14 PM  
Monday, October 16, 2006
Counting the dead
This months death toll in Iraq threatens to set a record. Here's the total casualty list.

posted by JReid @ 10:07 AM  
Reasonable doubt
Maybe there's more to the case than I've been presented with so far, and it might not be a popular stand for a Black, female blogger these days. But after pretty much siding with the accuser in the case, mainly out of the principle that an alleged victim should be believed until proven to be a liar, I'm starting to have serious doubts about the Duke rape case.

No, I'm starting to have serious doubts. The idea that you can prosecute three men for rape without ever interviewing them, and after a very questionable lineup and the refusal to even look at exculpatory evidence, including evidence that one of the boys, Reid Seligman, wasn't even in the house when the supposed rape took place. Meanwhile, the prosecutor, Mark Nifong, has used this race-based case to win reelection, and stirred new racial hatreds in Durham. If these guys go to trial and are acquitted, you can almost predict the reaction in the Black community. And if there is tension, or worse, Nifong will be to blame. If he doesn't have a case, Nifong should drop the charges against these players. And increasingly, it's looking to me like he doesn't have a case. These guys don't strike me as Boy Scouts. They could very well be jerks. But if they didn't commit a rape, they shouldn't go to trial. And even the accuser and the other dancer stipulate that they weren't the ones who used the racial slur. They shouldn't be held accountable for that, either.

The more I think about it, the more disgusted I am. And if these guys were Black and the girl white, I can assure you the Black community would be demanding that the men be freed.

Tags: , Rape, Lacrosse, Race, duke lacrosse, Current Affairs, ,
posted by JReid @ 8:54 AM  
Political ticker: Monday
Joe Lieberman's identity crisis continues. Now, not only is he not a Democrat (sort of...) he can't even answer whether he'll vote for Connecticut Democrats in November, or, for that matter, whether it would be better for the country if Democrats control Congress after November 7th.

Meanwhile, if you missed the Meet the Press debate between Minnesota Senate candidates Kennedy and Klobuchar, you missed a man getting his clock thoroughly cleaned. Klobuchar mopped the floor with Kennedy. It was brutal. Transcript here.

When the going gets tough, the pols go to rehab. Just ask Bob Ney, Capitol Hill's latest alcoholic. Can Curt Weldon be far behind?

Here in the Sunshine State, GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is still avoiding a direct debate with rival Jim Davis. FlaPolitics speculates it's because Charlie's sitting on a big lead, and feels he's already got the race bought (he's also got a hilarious bit about Jebbie being shoved into a broom closet...) But could it be that something else is going on with coy Charlie...?

Meanwhile, things aren't looking good for crazy Kathy's old seat... The latest polls show that seat, and the one recently vacated by nasty Mark Foley, are trending slightly Democrat.

David Kuo gets his 60 Minutes debut, but on our morning show this morning, the Liberty Counsel's Matt Staver says he and his evangelical friends are staying the (GOP) course in November.

On capitol Hill, Fred Barnes isn't feeling optimistic about November, even if the White House is strangely optimistic. Maybe Karl Rove knows something about the voting machines that we don't know. Still, The Beetle throws in a line that should perk up the ears of conspiracy theorists everywhere:
The problem here is that national security isn't the leading campaign issue. And saying it should be won't make it so. What's needed is an event--a big event--to crystallize the issue in a way that highlights Republican strength and Democratic weakness. ...
An event, huh? Cue that orange alert, folks. Or maybe, a little execution?

Whatever the planned October surprise, the GOP appears to be getting pragmatic about its campaign spending.

Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 8:16 AM  
To the cleaners
If you missed the Meet the Press debate between Minnesota Senate candidates Kennedy and Klobuchar, you missed a man getting his clock thoroughly cleaned. Klobuchar mopped the floor with Kennedy. It was brutal. Transcript here.

Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 7:08 AM  
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Can you stop the bomb from spreading?
That's an increasingly salient question, as the U.N. Security Council passes unanimous and binding, but force-free, sanctions against nuclear North Korea, and an arms race that could give birth to as many as 40 new nuclear powers threatens to erupt and spread from Asia to the Mideast.

A good point was made earlier today, I think on Fox News' Beltway Boys, of all places, that North Korea's determination to have nuclear weapons likely traces back to the stationing of American nuclear weapons in the China Sea back during the Reagan administraiton, and the retraction of those nukes by the first President Bush likely paved the way for agreements made during the Clinton administration that backed NK down from its nuclear brinksmanship. So does that mean the wingers now should blame Ronald Reagan for Bush II's failures to halt Kim Jong Il's quest for the bomb?

Related: The Taipei Times editorializes that North Korea's quest for nukes is not irrational.

Tags: north-korea, North Korea, Nuclear
posted by JReid @ 9:31 PM  
You can't make this stuff up
Gerry Studds dies at 69. (And he still wasn't sorry he turned out a 17-year-old boy page.)
posted by JReid @ 9:28 PM  

A group of Marines take it off to raise money for their injured comrades who have served in Iraq, and who plainly aren't getting the help they deserve from Uncle Sam. This girl blogger's verdict: I'll take ten. They'll make great Christmas gifts. Here's where you can buy the calendar. And as a December baby (the pic above is Mr. December...) I say thank you, United States Marines!
posted by JReid @ 8:39 PM  
Friday, October 13, 2006
The worst ... party ... ever...

Is the current iteration of the Republican Party the worst there has ever been? Who knows. But the bucket of scandals just got slimier today, as Ohio Congressman Bob Ney pleads guilty to bribery charges, and announces he'll step down ... eventually. [My earlier error caught by an astute reader. Thanks!]

Update: And another one: Kurt Weldon ... mett the FBI.

Tags: Republicans, Connecticut, Government, Congress, 2006
posted by JReid @ 3:46 PM  
Breaking blue?

I still think Dems are being a little bit too optimistic about November, but MyDD has the latest on what looks like a general Democratic trend going into the midterms:

  • Minnesota: Klobuchar (D) 51%--40% Kennedy (R)
  • Washington: Cantwell (D) 50%--41% McGavick (R)
  • Pennsylvania: Casey (D) 48%--39% Santorum (R)
  • Maryland: Cardin (D) 47%--40% Steele (R)
  • Montana: Tester (D) 49%--43% Burns (R)
  • Rhode Island: Whitehouse (D) 46%--40% Chafee (R)
  • Ohio: Brown (D) 47%--42% DeWine (R). Note: this average reflects the new Survey USA poll on the race.
  • New Jersey: Menendez (D) 45%--41% Kean (R)
  • Tennessee: Ford (D) 47%--44% Corker (R)
  • Missouri: McCaskill (D) 46%--44% Talent (R). Note: this average reflects the new Survey USA poll on the race.
  • Virginia: Allen (R) 48%--42% Webb (D)
  • Arizona: Kyl (R) 49%--40% Pederson (D)
  • Connecticut: Lieberman (CfL) 50%--39% Lamont (D)

More to the point, I'm not sure the trend is so much Democratic as it is anti-incumbent. Perhaps, for a change, voters are thinking strategically, and deciding to change control of Congress, regardless of how they feel about their local pol. We'll see. And because these are midterms, the voters who participate tend to be more likely voters, larger numbers of committed "super voters" and in this year in particular, pissed off, super-motivated grassroots progressives. I think it goes without saying that progressives are feeling more motivated than fundies this year.

Tags: , , Chris Shays, Ted Kennedy, Republicans, Connecticut, Government, Congress, 2006

posted by JReid @ 10:40 AM  
Oh no he didn't!
The third party candidate for Florida governor puts Republican A.G. and gubernatorial front-runner Charlie Crist on blast (on a competing morning show, no less...)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida) Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist has been the subject of speculation for several years but on Wednesday a political opponent used National Coming Out Day to say he's known for years that Crist is gay.

Appearing on WFTL, a South Florida news-talk station, independent gubernatorial candidate Max Linn said it is common knowledge in Tallahassee that Crist is gay.

And, Linn said it is time Crist acknowledged it.

"Charlie come out, come out from wherever you are," Linn said during an interview on the station.

Linn said he has known Crist for 25 years and even worked to help get him elected to other offices and that he's "a good guy."

The Crist campaign said Thursday it would not comment. A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, the Democrat running for governor, also declined to comment.

In an August radio interview in Miami Crist denied rumors he is gay when the question was directly put to him.

"The point is, I'm not. There's the answer. How do you like it?" Crist said. "Not that there's anything wrong with that, as they say on Seinfeld. But I just happen not to be."
Crist had weathered attacks from state CFO Mike Gallagher, who ran to his right, that he is "soft" on homosexuality, even though he officially opposes gay marriage and gay adoption (Crist says he's for civil unions.) And with the Mark Foley scandal sucking the oxygen out of all other news stories in Washington, it was inevitable that Crist would again be confronted about his sexuality (he is also rumored to have once been roommies with Foley, though no one has implied that the rooming situation was anything other than platonic.)

Crist has been avoiding lots of public appearances lately, and appearing on the conservative leaning station, which also runs Neil Boortz and Dr. Laura, was probably designed to be a safe harbor. Apparently, it wasn't.


Tags: , , , , ,

posted by JReid @ 8:42 AM  
British Army Chief: 'We must quit Iraq soon'
Not a good look from our sole remaining major ally in Iraq:
The Army could 'break' if it is kept too long in Iraq and British troops should be withdrawn 'soon', the head of the Army has said today.

In a devastating broadside at Tony Blair's foreign policy, General Sir Richard Dannatt said: "I want an Army in five years time and 10 years time. Don't let's break it on this one. Let's keep an eye on time."

His comments come after an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, where Sir Richard warned that the continuing presence of British troops "exacerbates the security problems" in Iraq and added that a "moral and spiritual vacuum" has opened up in British society, which is allowing Muslim extremists to undermine "our accepted way of life."

The Chief of the General Staff believes that Christian values are under threat in Britain and that continuing to fight in Iraq will only make the situation worse.

His views will send shockwaves through Government.

They are a total repudiation of the Prime Minister, who has repeatedly insisted that British presence in Iraq is morally right and has had no effect on our domestic security.

Sir Richard, who took up his post earlier this year, warned that "our presence in Iraq exacerbates" the "difficulties we are facing around the world."

He lambasts Tony Blair's desire to forge a "liberal democracy" in Iraq as a "naive" failure and he warns that "whatever consent we may have had in the first place" from the Iraqi people "has largely turned to intolerance."

More on General Dannatt's explosive comments here.

Tags: , Politics, Tony Blair, War, Terrorism, News
posted by JReid @ 7:23 AM  
Fool me once...
Will the new book by former number two at the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, David Kuo, shake the Christian faithful? Kuo's book, "Tempting Faith," charges that Karl Rove and the Bush administration have been playing evangelicals for suckers all along (something I've said for a long time, but Kuo provides first hand evidence.) Somehow, I suspect that BBC's (Bible believing Christians are figuring out that they have been pouring out their votes to a man who, to use the Olbermann formulation this week, professes faith but has few works -- at least as regards the BBC agenda.) But that doesn't mean that they will abandon their marriage of convenience with the GOP. After all, even if the Bushies are laughing at them behind their backs, Rove and Company are funneling enough money to the "crazies" -- as Bush apparently calls the leaders of the fundamentalist Christian mega-movements -- to keep them towing the party line. What is most likely to happen is that many of the ground troops will lose their zeal to turn out the vote. That, if it happens, will be a crushing blow to the GOP.
posted by JReid @ 6:50 AM  
Thursday, October 12, 2006
The hot mess report
Big things:
The surging American death toll in Iraq...
The unbelievable Iraqi civilian death toll...
The useless Mustache quest for a meaningful U.N. resolution on North Koreamsnbc...
The high flying Dow that still doesn't help the average American... or the American manufacturing base...
The ethics committee springs back to life...

Small things:
The continued white, do-gooder celebrity African baby fetish...
The flog me like Pretty Jesus comeback gambit...
The K-Fed dancer angst irony...

Tags: News, Current affairs
posted by JReid @ 6:15 PM  
The bad news will not be televised ... at least until after the election
Fortunately, it will be leaked.

Republican consiglieri James Baker, probably at the urging of George Bush Sr., somehow managed to get the younger Bush to accept the idea of a panel to figure out a way out of the mess in Iraq. The conclusion of Baker's commission isn't pretty, although it won't be fully known until after the election. But here's the leak so far from today's New York Sun:
WASHINGTON — A commission formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course has ruled out the prospect of victory for America, according to draft policy options shared with The New York Sun by commission officials.

Currently, the 10-member commission — headed by a secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush, James Baker — is considering two option papers, "Stability First" and "Redeploy and Contain," both of which rule out any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.

More telling, however, is the ruling out of two options last month. One advocated minor fixes to the current war plan but kept intact the long-term vision of democracy in Iraq with regular elections. The second proposed that coalition forces focus their attacks only on Al Qaeda and not the wider insurgency.

Instead, the commission is headed toward presenting President Bush with two clear policy choices that contradict his rhetoric of establishing democracy in Iraq. The more palatable of the two choices for the White House, "Stability First," argues that the military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents. The goal of nurturing a democracy in Iraq is dropped.
And option two?
The "Redeploy and Contain" option calls for the phased withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq, though the working groups have yet to say when and where those troops will go. The document, read over the telephone to the Sun, says America should "make clear to allies and others that U.S. redeployment does not reduce determination to attack terrorists wherever they are." It also says America's top priority should be minimizing American casualties in Iraq.

Both Mr. Baker and his Democratic co-commissioner, Lee Hamilton, have said for nearly a month that the coming weeks and months are crucial for the elected body in Baghdad. More recently, Mr. Baker has said he is leaning against counseling the president to withdraw from Iraq. ...
Pointedly, also ruled out is the notion of partioning Iraq, although that by no means indicates that partition isn't coming, or that it might not be the only viable option. (It's also, increasingly, a fasionable notion in D.C. ...)

In fact, a new law passed in Baghdad this week, and slated for implementation more than a year from now, would achieve a de facto partition, by creating autonomous regions, and weakening that country's already fragile central government. Of course, not everybody believes that will work, either. For one thing, key Sunni groups sat out the vote, and its clear to even one with a passing understanding of Iraq that the last thing the Sunnis want is an Iraq divided in thirds, since what would be their third is bereft of oil, and teeming with sectarian violence and Shiite retribution. From Alternet:
Yesterday I spoke with Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi analyst with Global Exchange, (you remember Raed -- he was the guy who was harassed trying to get on a plane in DC with a peace t-shirt that had Arabic lettering) and he predicted that this would lead to a whole new wave of violence and called the law's passage "shocking." Even the Speaker of the Parliament -- a Sunni -- had boycotted the meeting.

The law says that 18 months from now the country's 18 provinces can choose to form into between 3-18 federal regions (obviously the three Kurdish provinces would remain a block, so it's more like 3-16 regions).

Raed said that the danger is that it will set off a whole new round of violence -- "street fighting" -- between different groups vying to be in control of each provincial government in a year and a half when the decision is to be made. While we like to oversimplify the situation in Iraq -- imagining that there are nice, discrete sectarian groups -- that's not the case. There are factions and sub-factions and there might be bloodshed between, for example, different Shiite groups -- something we haven't yet seen.

Some additional context is that there's a sharp debate going on about Iraq's Constitution, with provinces heavy in oil interpreting a rather vague clause to mean that they can keep oil revenues in the local government instead of sending them to Baghdad. That means that having control over provinces with a lot of oil revenues is even more crucial and, given the level of corruption, a person in the right place in an autonomous province might end up as rich as Croesus.

The only potential winner is Iran, who, as Raed put it, "stand to get a government in Baghdad that's friendly to Tehran and a regional government that's extremely friendly.
Nice work, George.

Tags: Iraq, Bush administration, James Baker
posted by JReid @ 5:50 PM  
Dear Jeb ... it's me ... Mark
The Palm Beach Post reports on a plaintive series of emails sent from disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley and Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The email exchange took place in the late fall of 2004, prior to the election and around the time aides to various Republican members of Congress now say they were alerting their bosses about the creepy Congressman's inappropriate contact with teenaged male pages. Here's a clip from the Post's story today:
E-mails from former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley to Gov. Jeb Bush reveal that Foley feared two years ago the White House was shunning him, and he called on the governor, President Bush's brother, to intercede.

Foley wrote to Gov. Bush on Sept. 29, 2004: "Have I done something to offend the White House ... I am always getting the shaft ... they came to ft pierce a few weeks ago and said I was not allowed to attend ... yet joe negron is there ...
Note that Negron, who has run for everything but dog catcher in the last several years (he's currently a State Rep,) is now running for Foley's seat. Continuing...
"Tomorrow Potus is in Martin County and I am told I am not allowed to be there either. I can't quite figure what I have done but this is a continuing pattern of slights ... I have constantly put the President in the best possible light on everything from haiti to hurricanes ... sorry to trouble you ... and I wouldn't if this wasn't so frequent ..."
Here, the occasion for Dubya's visit was the aftermath of Hurricane Jeanne...
Bush responded that day: "I will try to help. I know it is nothing you have done. Promise. I think it relates to debate prep time. Jeb." ...

The missives continued last year, as the 52-year-old instant message freak's contact with pages continued to heat up behind the scenes...
... Foley also sent Gov. Bush a cryptic message in the fall of 2005, roughly coinciding with the time a former Louisiana page complained to his former sponsor, Rep. Rodney Alexander, that Foley had sent him inappropriate e-mails.

The page, then 16, said Foley asked about the boy's birthday and requested a photograph. The disclosure of the exchanges with the teen ultimately led to Foley's resignation.

"I need your thoughts on something ... are you in south florida or somewhere we can meet up," Foley messaged Bush on Oct. 3, 2005.

"I am up in Tallahassee. Will a call suffice?" Bush responded.

Foley asked Bush to call him at his Fort Pierce office or on his cellphone.
What could Foley have wanted? Tips on what kinds of videogames kids like? Jeb does have young'uns who were just out of their teen years by then...
Bush and Foley have exchanged about 100 electronic messages since 1999, according to documents Bush's office released Wednesday evening. The bulk of the e-mails from Foley, who almost exclusively sent the messages from his Blackberry, concerned hurricanes, federal legislation and his recommendations for appointments.
Hm. Over the last couple of weeks, I've kind of gotten the feeling Jebbie didn't know Mark very well. Hell, it seems like no one knew this guy, once his prediliction for boy-toys came out! Let's continue...
The e-mails show a friendly relationship between Foley and Bush, in contrast to Bush's recent characterization of Foley's behavior as "despicable" and "disgusting."

In one e-mail in May 2004, Foley asked Bush to call in to a West Palm Beach radio station's on-air birthday celebration honoring local radio personality Jennifer Ross. Bush complied.

The day after the Nov. 2, 2004, general election in which President Bush was reelected, Foley messaged Gov. Bush: "Congratulations brother Jeb ... what a wonderful well deserved victory."

"Thank you so much. It was a great victory! Congrats to you as well," Bush responded.

In another exchange, Bush took a swipe at state Sen. Ron Klein, a Boca Raton Democrat who is seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale, in District 22.

Foley asked Bush whether Palm Beach County would receive disaster relief.

"Ron Klein said on tv last night that we were not part of the declaration," Foley wrote.

Bush confirmed Palm Beach County was included, saying of Klein: "Yes! And he knows it. What a slime."


Update: I'll bet Mark Foley wasn't invited on the Kolbe camping trips either...

Also, David Corn asks a damed good question: if Republicans knew of Foley's troubles as early as 2003, might the leadership have used his predilictions as leverage on the House floor?

Tags: , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 4:18 PM  
One less roadblock
Hillary won't have to worry about Mark Warner in 2008. One down...
posted by JReid @ 3:59 PM  
Chris Shays comes unglued
Blogger was giving me the usual problems this morning, so this is my second, now belated, attempt to post. (sigh). But I couldn't resist, even belatedly, commenting at Republican "moderate" Congressman Chris Shays, who finally went off the deep end this week, after falling behind his Democratic challenger in Connecticut's 4th District. Pissed off that Massachusetts elder statesman Sen. Edward "Teddy" Kennedy came to town to campaign for his opponent, and coming to the defense of his sister-girl, Denny Hastert (whose staring down the barrel of a two-time former Senatorial chief of staff, Foley/Reynolds, not Hastert ... and his grand jury testimony,) Shays let loose with a desperate volley:
"I know the speaker didn't go over a bridge and leave a young person in the water, and then have a press conference the next day," the embattled Connecticut congressman told The Hartford Courant in remarks published Wednesday.

"Dennis Hastert didn't kill anybody," he added.
Well yes, there's that. Very classy, Chris.

Why is it that whenever they're backed into a corner by facts or events, Republicans of all ideological stripes always default to what I call the Wizbang technique: attacking some prominent Democrat who is entirely irrelevant to the current problem, most often either Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy? And what's with side-swiping an old man over a tragedy that took place in 1969, for God's sake? This, from the party of "ideas" and Christian redemption, (which also happens to be led by a band of dry drunks, dysfunctional paternally-deprived misfits, former drug addicts, gothic trolls who shoot their friends in the face and lick their chops for homoerotic torture and degradation and creepy pedophiles?) To rerack, what is wrong with these people???

For Shays, the problem could be plain old fashioned frustration. Polls show him just barely ahead of Democrat Diane Farrell, with an uncomfortably high "undecided" count, in a seat that could prove to be one of the 15 Dems need to recapture the House. Apparently, Shays, who has been all over the place on Iraq, having found war critic religion on his 14th trip down the road to Tarsus, and who is in miserably company among the handful of GOP House members in his state (Connecticut Republicans are an increasingly endangered species...) has wandered four square into desperation territory.

It would be sad if it weren't so lowbrow.

Meanwhile, a Connecticut resident named Daniel Hudson makes the best case ever for regime change in Connecticut, and in Washington:
... Only about 40 of 435 seats are in play. Gerrymandering and big money have made most seats safe for incumbents.

Currently, U.S. Reps. Chris Shays and Nancy Johnson have smaller leads than expected for their length of time in office.

Change will not occur if Republicans keep control of the House but with smaller margins of victory than before in the various districts across the nation.

That would be a victory for current policies and their implementation; it would not send a message.

There are criticisms and defenses to be made of the records of Shays and Johnson. That is not important. If they win, and Republicans keep their majority, we will have more of the same. ...

Indeed we will. Those who think they can "send a message" by merely scaring Republicans, but not replacing them, is pulling a Hastert -- whistling past the graveyard.

Tags: , , Chris Shays, Ted Kennedy, Republicans, Connecticut, Government, Congress, 2006
posted by JReid @ 3:31 PM  
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
What's the matter with Virginia?
Newsbusters doesn't like it, but I LOVE Jack Cafferty. And he's right: what does George Allen have to do, defacate in public, to get behind in the polls in Virginia?

posted by JReid @ 11:05 AM  
The forever president
When will Bill Clinton ever stop being president of the United States? Clinton left office in 2000, and the Republicans are still blaming him for everything that happens under George W. Bush's watch! Hello, GOP! Bush is in his fifth year in office... going on six... at some point, you have to hold him responsible for the things that go wrong. Okay, John McCain? Tee-hee, Tony Snow? Could you ruminate on that for us, Don "sold 'em the reactors" Rumsfeld? Caring about this yet, Dubya? (Photo courtesy of the Atlantic Monthly)

Tags: north-korea, North Korea, Nuclear
posted by JReid @ 10:22 AM  
Thank you, Lt. Cmdr. Swift
The Mountain Philospher remembers and thanks the Navy lawyer -- the great American -- who won the landmark Hamdan case, and then lost his Naval career. I echo the thanks, and you should, too.

Tags: , Supreme Court, Guantanamo, Bush, Terrorism, Politics, SCOTUS, War On Terror, Terrorist, Al Qaeda, Gitmo
posted by JReid @ 10:01 AM  
That darned constitution
Keith Olbermann hit another one out of the park on Countdown last night (video and transcript here), this time commenting on the big story we missed while chasing down Mark Foley's nasty IMs, namely the elimination -- not just suspension, elimination -- of habeas corpus by the derelict Congress of the United States, which handed the president a dictatorial writ of absolute detention and tribunal powers through the passage of a disastrous "correction" to the Hamdan case.

What is habeas corpus? Wikipedia defnes it this way:

In common law countries, habeas corpus, Latin for "you [should] have the body", is the name of a legal instrument or writ by means of which detainees can seek release from unlawful imprisonment. A writ of habeas corpus is a court order addressed to a prison official (or other custodian) ordering that a detainee be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he or she should be released from custody. The writ of habeas corpus in common law countries is an important instrument for the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action.
Simply put: a writ of habeas corpus ensures that you can't be jailed or tried without at least being told why. Or at least, you couldn't be jailed or tried without being told why before the 109th Congress of the United States handed powers even President Lincoln wasn't permitted to wield, over to George W. Bush.

The passage by the Senate of legislation sought by the White House, giving the president the power to detain and try anyone he alone determines to be an "enemy combatant" was a low point -- perhaps THE low point, in the history of the United States. Because by passing that law, Congress simultaneously subordinated itself to the presidency, and freed the president from any resraints contemplated in the Constitution.

In fact, the bill, S.3930 (aka the Military Commissions Act of 2006) is probably unconstutional. With any luck, the Democrats will take over at least one house of Congress and have the good sense to try and reverse it. What does the bill do?
The legislation sets up rules for the military commissions that will allow the government to prosecute high-level terrorists including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, considered the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It strips detainees of a habeas corpus right to challenge their detentions in court and broadly defines what kind of treatment of detainees is prosecutable as a war crime.

The bill was a compromise between the White House and three Republican senators who had pushed back against what they saw as President Bush’s attempt to rewrite the nation’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions. But while the president had to relent on some of the key specifics, it allowed him to claim victory in achieving one of his main legislative priorities.
And what what was the compromise? So-called guardians of maverickdom John McCain, John Warner and Lindsey Graham traded the preservation of the Geneva Conventions, which is a very good thing for our troops and for our national honor, for the Constitution itself. Still sound like a good trade?

The framers of the Constitution found it important enough to write into the founding document that:

"The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." (Article One, section nine).
To my knowledge, we're not being invaded (in fact, we do the invading around these parts...) and we're not in the midst of a rebellion (and no, Dubya, Bob Woodward going from nice to naughty doesn't count.)

And as Olbermann pointed out last night, the right not to be detained and tried (with the death penalty on the table, no less) without getting to know why underpins every other right granted to us in the Constitution's Bill of Rights. As Keith pointed out, having the right to speak and assemble doesn't mean very much if you're imprisoned in some secret gulag on the sole discretion of the president.

And for the authoritarian stooges out there who worship this president and fear terrorism so much that they need daddy to have absolute power to "stop the terr'rists," it might be instructive for you to remember that God's little vicar won't be in office forever. The next president with the absolute power to detain you and yours without going to a judge might be Hillary Clinton.

Tags: , CountDown, MSNBC, War On Terror, News, Politics, ,
posted by JReid @ 9:31 AM  
Me and my boyfriend
"All I need in this life of sin, is me an my boyfriend..." -- from a remake of a Tupac song, by Beyonce and Jay Z

Who is Scott Palmer, and why did Denny Hastert go from praising him, to ignoring him? This was Scotty in 2005:

Hastert Directs Millions to Birthplace
Earmarked Money Skirts Procedures

By Dan Morgan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 29, 2005; A01

When Scott B. Palmer received an honorary degree in 2002 from his alma mater, Aurora University in Illinois, he urged the graduating class to "give back to our university, to our community and to our country."

As chief of staff to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Palmer runs a congressional office that has been able to do just that for Aurora, the birthplace of his boss and the largest city in his boss's home district.

Hastert has earmarked $24 million in grants for Aurora-based nonprofit groups since becoming speaker in 1999, using an obscure section of the big federal spending bills passed each year.

Nine months after the cap-and-gown ceremony honoring Palmer, Aurora University got $9.8 million to construct a teacher training institute. Aurora's Rush-Copley Medical Center, where Palmer is an unpaid trustee, captured a total of $5.5 million in 2002 and 2003. About $3.4 million has gone to another Aurora hospital where another member of Hastert's staff had worked.

Communities represented by powerful lawmakers have always had an edge in the scramble for federal funds. But Aurora's successful applicants have unusually close connections to members of its congressman's staff.

In addition, unlike a long line of big spenders before him -- including such masters of pork-barrel politics as the late speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) -- Hastert is a conservative Republican who favors smaller government and leaner domestic budgets. He has led the fight to enforce tough White House spending limits for the highway program and domestic spending bills, sometimes over the objections of GOP committee chairmen.

As the Bush administration applies the brakes to domestic spending, some are questioning the fairness of a system that enables powerful politicians to keep federal dollars flowing back home while districts represented by mere rank-and-file lawmakers are squeezed.

"The vast majority of [congressional] districts are getting below what they would get under any kind of a formula, and the big hogs are getting a disproportionate share," said Scott Lilly, former Democratic chief of staff on the House Appropriations Committee.

And this is what Lawrence O'Donnell reported about Scott this week:

Who is Scott Palmer?

He is Speaker Hastert's chief of staff, which makes him the key player in the what-did-Hastert-know-and-when-did-he-know-it drama. Scott Palmer has issued a statement flatly denying that Kirk Fordham, Mark Foley's former chief of staff, warned him that Foley was crossing the line with pages long before Foley's inappropriate email surfaced.

Palmer's denial of Fordham's headline-grabbing claim is the thread Hastert's Speakership is now hanging by.

In Hastert's brief, evasive press conference on Thursday, sharp reporters immediately zeroed in on Palmer's role in the Foley information flow. Did Hastert leap to the defense of his chief of staff's honor in the crucial credibility contest with Kirk Fordham? Did he say I know Scott Palmer and I know he's telling the truth? No. He avoided every question with Palmer's name in it. Hastert obviously does not want to talk about Scott Palmer.

If Fordham did warn Palmer about Foley a long time ago, what are the odds that Palmer did not tell Hastert? As close to zero as you can get. Many chiefs of staff are close, very close, to their bosses on Capitol Hill. But none are closer than Scott Palmer is to Denny Hastert. They don't just work together all day, they live together.

There are plenty of odd couple Congressmen who have roomed together on Capitol Hill, but I have never heard of a chief of staff who rooms with his boss. It is beyond unusual. But it must have its advantages. Anything they forget to tell each other at the office, they have until bedtime to catch up on. And then there's breakfast for anything they forgot to tell each other before falling asleep. And then there's all day at the office. Hastert and Palmer are together more than any other co-workers in the Congress.

For now, Hastert is holding on to the Speaker's office because the Republicans don't have anyone in the leadership who is squeaky clean enough to take the job. Every one of them is tainted by the Foley scandal or the Abramoff scandal or the DeLay scandal or, like Henry Hyde, has some ancient sexual indiscretion in his background. But if the press cracks Scott Palmer's denial of Kirk Fordham's bombshell, then Denny Hastert is going to have to pass the gavel to some freshman we've never heard of.

Hm. Ah, roommates. They can be such a liability...

And those pesky biking partners, too...

Related: Dennis Hastert literally whistles past the graveyard.

Tags: , , , , , ,

posted by JReid @ 7:46 AM  
Where we are
(Photo credit: Caricatures by Lisa)

A sobering look at the U.S. condition, from the conservative Times of London:

I REMEMBER a time when, following an event of international significance, the world would wait to hear what the president of the United States had to say about it. In Britain we would have an impatient few hours before America had woken up. Because until the President had spoken, you couldn’t be sure of even the shape of what might happen next.

On Monday we woke to the news of North Korea’s nuclear test, and to a banal commentary of people who didn’t really know what to say about it. Just when you wanted some real insight and even facts, the Today programme again indulged its tiresome obsession with Iraq, focusing upon whether Tony Blair’s actions there had made this move by Kim Jong Il more likely blah blah. That didn’t surprise me. What did was my instinctive reaction when George W. Bush did speak much later in the day. There he was gravely intoning on one or other news channel that this “constitutes a threat to international peace and security”, and “Oh sod off” I heard myself muttering, with no desire to hear any more. It was as much ennui as irritation: I didn’t believe he would have anything useful to say and found it faintly annoying that he spoke as though the world would care.

One reaction from a completely insignificant voice in the political process. Yet it reveals, I think, a sad truth: the 43rd President of the United States of America has squandered the political authority of a great country. Never mind whether world leaders still feel the need to check in with the US; ordinary people no longer expect from Washington international leadership of any use. So spent is the authority of the United States that even a foreign affairs ingénue such as myself recognises that there is little constructive it can do any more. So it doesn’t really matter what the President thinks. ...
The latter conclusion is not much better:
However murky these causes and effects, it is clear that the US cannot respond as it once might have to the test conducted in North Korea. Because of the muck it has made in Iraq, it lacks the political and moral authority to do so. Were it to have wanted to address North Korea’s nuclear pretensions, it should have prioritised it over Iraq; the world knew Kim was a brutal tyrant with a nuclear weapon within his reach.

And now we have this: a tinpot totalitarian with no economy to speak of, whose people are starving, thumbing his nose at the world. And we look to China to tell us what happens next.
And this from a Brit who is an admitted fan of the United States. Damn.

Meanwhile, a new analysis is placing the civilian body count in Iraq at an extraordinary 655,000.

"Deaths are occurring in Iraq now at a rate more than three times that from before the invasion of March 2003," Dr. Gilbert Burnham, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

The study by Burnham, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and others is to be published Thursday on the Web site of The Lancet, a medical journal.

Critics of the study are calling it political, coming so close to the election. But it's just another nail in the Bush administration's credibility coffin.

Tags: , Politics, Iraq, News, Republicans, War, Government
posted by JReid @ 5:43 AM  
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The secret candidate
Why won't Charlie Crist debate Jim Davis? Our boy "Chain Gang" Charlie Crist has gone into hiding, refusing so far to debate his opponent for governor, and apparently, even trying to pull out of one of the two debates he did agree to before the November 7 election.

FlaPolitics questions Charlie the Coward...
Color Charlie yellow:
[Charlie Crist]has declined recently to participate in two such events, forums on health care and child welfare issues, even after their organizers thought the campaign had agreed to them.

This week, Crist also threatened to withdraw from one of two planned televised debates with Davis. His campaign objects to the format of the event...
"Crist Leery Of Debate With Davis". And this will come as a shock - Charlie can't come up with an original idea; first he wants to copy Jebbie, then on the issue of health care (where Jebbie has done nothing), he copies Davis:
Crist's prescription drug plan and his proposals to negotiate with the drug industry to get volume discounts for Floridians, along with allowing businesses to pool together to get cheaper insurance for their employees are similar to proposals Democratic candidate Jim Davis presented in March.
"Crist Touts Program For Florida's Health". Or was he copying someone else? See "Crist's prescription plan: Copy Wal-Mart"
Why are you hiding, Charlie? Could it be a certain, embarassing former roommate...?

Previous: When Mark touches Charlie

Tags: , , , , ,

posted by JReid @ 11:48 AM  
Punish the lawyer
The Navy lawyer who won the Hamdan decision is punished by the Pentagon, Truthout reports:
Newark - The Navy lawyer who took the Guantánamo case of Osama bin Laden's driver to the U.S. Supreme Court — and won — has been passed over for promotion by the Pentagon and must soon leave the military.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, 44, said last week he received word he had been denied a promotion to full-blown commander this summer, "about two weeks after" the Supreme Court sided against the White House and with his client, a Yemeni captive at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

Under the military's "up-or-out" promotion system, Swift will retire in March or April, closing a 20-year career of military service.

A Pentagon appointee, Swift embraced the alleged al-Qaida's sympathizer's defense with a classic defense lawyer's zeal, casting his captive client as an innocent victim in the dungeon of King George, a startling analogy for the attorney whose commander-in-chief is President (George) Bush.

"It was a pleasure to serve," said Swift, who added that he would defend Salim Hamdan again, even if he knew he would have to leave the Navy earlier than he wanted.

"All I ever wanted was to make a difference — and in that sense, I think my career and personal satisfaction has been beyond my dreams," he said.

Swift, a Seattle University Law School graduate, also said he will continue to defend Hamdan as a civilian. The Seattle law firm of Perkins Coie, which provided pro-bono legal work in Hamdan's habeas corpus petition, has agreed to support Swift's defense of Hamdan in civilian life, he said.

Hamdan, 36, who has only a fourth-grade education, was captured along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan while fleeing the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, launched in reprisal for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He admits working as bin Laden's $200-a-month driver on a Kandahar farm but said he never joined al-Qaida and never fought anyone.

Still at Guantánamo as an enemy combatant, Hamdan halted his war-crimes trial by challenging the format's constitutionality through civilian courts.

The justices ruled in June that Bush overstepped his constitutional authority by creating ad hoc military tribunals for prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, sending the Pentagon back to the drawing board for the trials.

In the end, it developed a system very similar to those struck down, setting the stage for a likely new challenge this session.

In the opinion of Washington, D.C., attorney Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, Swift was "a no-brainer for promotion," given his devotion to the Navy, the law and his client.

But, he said, Swift is part of a long line of Navy defense lawyers "of tremendous distinction" who were not made full commander and "had their careers terminated prematurely."

"He brought real credit to the Navy," said Fidell. "It's too bad that it's unrequited love."
I wish this were atypical behavior on the part of the Bush administration. But it's not. And let's not forget, it's happening in the face of an unprecedented, likely unconstitutional impartation of dictatorial power to the president by the Congress, throwing habeus corpus out the window with the supposed maverick, John McCain, going along.

Tags: , Supreme Court, Guantanamo, Bush, Terrorism, Politics, SCOTUS, War On Terror, Terrorist, Al Qaeda, Gitmo
posted by JReid @ 9:41 AM  
Cue the floodgates?
Will the Democrats get their tsunami in November, sweeping the corrupt, inept, oversight-allergic, scandlized Republicans out of office in the House and Senate? Maybe, maybe not.

Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg sees the waters welling up:
After looking at the news for the past 10 days or so, I have to wonder how Democrats can possibly fail in their efforts to take both the House and the Senate.

The national atmospherics don’t merely favor Democrats; they set the stage for a blowout of cosmic proportions next month.

No, that’s not a prediction, since Republicans still have a month to “localize” enough races to hold onto one or both chambers of Congress. But you don’t have to be Teddy White or V.O. Key to know that the GOP is now flirting with disaster.

Let’s forget all of the niceties and diplomatic language and cut to the obvious truth: From the White House to Capitol Hill, Republicans look inept. And that assertion is based on what Republicans are saying. Democratic rhetoric is much harsher and, therefore, easier to dismiss as partisan claptrap.

The Iraq War is going poorly, with daily reports of mounting casualties and little evidence that American policy is achieving its goals. Bob Woodward’s book and the leaked National Intelligence Estimate give more fodder to critics of the White House, undercutting President Bush’s fundamental argument about the war against terror. If Iraq indeed is the front line of the war against terror, then the war on terror isn’t going well, is it?

Republicans failed to produce anything meaningful over the past couple of years on the president’s top priorities, Social Security reform and immigration. And now in the wake of the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), the House leadership looks like the Keystone Cops. ...
Apparently, a new Congressional poll concurs:
WASHINGTON — A Capitol Hill sex scandal has reinforced public doubts about Republican leadership and pushed Democrats to a huge lead in the race for control of Congress four weeks before Election Day, the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.
Democrats had a 23-point lead over Republicans in every group of people questioned — likely voters, registered voters and adults — on which party's House candidate would get their vote. That's double the lead Republicans had a month before they seized control of Congress in 1994 and the Democrats' largest advantage among registered voters since 1978.

Nearly three in 10 registered voters said their representative doesn't deserve re-election — the highest level since 1994. President Bush's approval rating was 37% in the new poll, down from 44% in a Sept. 15-17 poll. And for the first time since the question was asked in 2002, Democrats did better than Republicans on who would best handle terrorism, 46%-41%.

"It's hard to see how the climate is going to shift dramatically between now and Election Day," said John Pitney, a former GOP aide on Capitol Hill who now teaches at Claremont-McKenna College in California. He said Iraq remains the biggest problem for Republicans: "People just don't like inconclusive wars." ...
Maybe the RNC does too, which is why they're building a beach head in three Senate races: Tennessee, Ohio and Missouri:
The move reflects a desire on the part of Ken Mehlman, the Republican Party chairman, and other strategists to exercise more control over the drive to retain a majority, according to several Republican officials. They said the decision has caused friction with officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which historically has been the only party entity to run commercials on behalf of its candidates.

The move also raises questions about the priority assigned by the RNC to races in other states where Republicans are in jeopardy — Pennsylvania, Montana and Rhode Island among them.

... The RNC's targeted races are Sen. Mike DeWine (news, bio, voting record)'s re-election effort in Ohio; Sen. Jim Talent (news, bio, voting record)'s bid for a new term in Missouri, and Bob Corker's drive to hold the Tennessee seat of retiring Majority Leader Bill Frist.

It is not clear how they were chosen. All three races are close, according to public and private polls. They are among eight or nine competitive races around the country — most of them for seats currently in Republican hands — that will determine which party controls the Senate when it convenes in January.

The officials who described the firewall strategy did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to speak publicly.

... According to the reports on file, the RNC has spent roughly $2.8 million to help DeWine in his race against Rep. Sherrod Brown (news, bio, voting record) and nearly $1 million so far in Tennessee, where Corker is running against Rep. Harold Ford (news, bio, voting record) Jr. The party has put about $150,000 into Talent's race against Claire McCaskill.

The NRSC, chaired by Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., has also invested heavily in advertising and related expenses in those races, spending about $2.4 million so far in Missouri, $3 million in Ohio and $1.5 million in Tennessee.
The infighting isn't really anything that new, and it reflects the tensions on the other side between Howard Dean's DNC and the DCCC and DSCC. What's more important is that whatever the polls and analysts are saying, the GOP is worried about losing its majority.

Tags: , , Democrats, Bush, Republicans, News, Government, Congress, 2006
posted by JReid @ 8:24 AM  
Selling light water reactors to North Korea ... I ruminate on the words ... the words ... was it a bad idea? Yes. Did Don Rumsfeld sit on the board of a company that did it? Yes he did. Will the media focus on it? Who knows...

Tags: north-korea, North Korea, Nuclear, Rumsfeld, ABB
posted by JReid @ 6:41 AM  
Monday, October 09, 2006
Bush's 'nucular' screw-up
While we've been d***ing around in Iraq, North Korea has gone really, really nuclear. And while the Bushies are trying to talk tough, there's no getting around the fact that NK's nuclear coming out party happened on their watch (kind of like 9/11...) and amid Cowboy Bush's tough talk about not allowing "rogue states" like North Korea and Iran to have the weapons technology that we and our allies (including Israel) have.

So what to do now? And how to account for this clear, total failure of U.S. and allied policy on the Asian peninsula? Should we give Kim Jong Il the congratulations he's demanding?

Can we get sanctions when China doesn't seem willing to go along? (South Korea has already suspended aid shipments to the north, and tensions are clearly rising after those shots fired across the DMZ this weekend...)

Meanwhile, the Asia Times has a little backgrounder on NK's 60-year quest for the "doomsday weapon."

And the Times says NK has inadvertently united Japan, South Korea and China.

Tags: north-korea, North Korea, Nuclear
posted by JReid @ 1:17 PM  
Paging Chris Cillizza: candidate rummy
How's the poltiical landscape looking, Chris? Apparently, Harold Ford is up, George Allen is down and Robert Menendez is still troublesome.

Tags: , , Democrats, Bush, Republicans, News, Government, Congress, 2006
posted by JReid @ 1:11 PM  
Monday Foley folleys
From the New York Times, a secret meeting last fall could clarify just who knew what in the Foleygate case.

Plus, evangelicals in Virginia say they blame the man, not the party... In fact, curiously gay-obsessed evangelical leader James Dobson says it's all a big joke...

Meanwhile over at the WaPo, openly gay Republicongressman Jim Kolbe, who's retiring this year so he can afford to be honest, says he knew about Foley's page problems six years ago...

And even more meanwhile, are Republicans losing the mom vote? 29 days until we find out.

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posted by JReid @ 1:03 PM  
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Getting rude with Jebbie
Pittsburgh rolls out the welcome wagon for the president's baby brother .... not.
posted by JReid @ 3:22 PM  
Foleyus Escalatus
You knew this was coming...
Ex-Page Tells of Foley Liaison
The young man says the then-congressman eyed males in the program. He says he was 21 when he and the Florida Republican had sex.
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Times Staff Writer

October 8, 2006

A former House page says he had sex with then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) after receiving explicit e-mails in which the congressman described assessing the sexual orientation and physical attributes of underage pages but waiting until later to make direct advances.

The former page, who agreed to discuss his relationship with Foley with the Los Angeles Times on the condition that he not be identified, said his electronic correspondence with Foley began after he finished the respected Capitol Hill page program for high school juniors. His sexual encounter was in the fall of 2000, he said. At the time, he was 21 and a graduate of a rural Northeastern college.

"I always knew you were a player but I don't fool around with pages," declared one instant message from Maf54, a screen name Foley used in exchanges that have become public involving male former pages.

The former page's account is consistent with Foley's assertion that he did not have sexual relations with minors, an issue that will be key to determining whether he committed crimes. The legal age of consent varies from state to state; in the District of Columbia, where the pages live in supervised dormitories, it is 16.

Yet the former page's exchanges with Foley offer a glimpse of possible predatory behavior by the congressman as he assessed male teenagers assigned as House errand-runners.

In the messages, Maf54 described how years earlier, he had looked to see whether the former page had an erection in his tight white pants while the then-teenager was working near the congressman. Maf54 also speculated about the sexual attributes of other males in the same page class, including the observation that one young man was "well hung."

Foley abruptly resigned his House seat Sept. 29, after the disclosure of sexually oriented messages to former pages. Other messages were subsequently divulged, and questions concerning how much House Republican leaders knew about Foley and his interest in pages are being investigated by the House Ethics Committee. Foley is now in seclusion in an alcohol treatment facility, and his lawyer has declined to answer questions about specific pages.

The FBI has begun contacting former pages, and at least one — a deputy campaign manager for Rep. Ernest Istook, an Oklahoma Republican who is running for governor there — has hired a criminal defense lawyer, according to a published report. Istook issued a statement last week urging the media to protect the young man's privacy after his name was briefly posted on the ABC News website.

The former page interviewed by The Times said he had not been contacted by the FBI or the House Ethics Committee. He agreed to talk to The Times only if his identity was protected, because of his fear that exposure could hurt his job prospects.

The Times found the former page after others identified him as someone whose contacts with Foley went beyond graphic messages. At an interview, the former page brought a computer containing his communications with Foley, and allowed a Times reporter to review them. The young man, who now manages a suburban office of a national franchise, says that he is gay and that he had only one sexual encounter with Foley before the contacts abruptly ended. The Times agreed not to publish the year of his page class to protect his identity.

The young man said that while serving as a page, he and his fellow pages gossiped frequently about Foley's overly friendly behavior but did not complain about him to program supervisors or other members of Congress. They nicknamed him "Triple F," for "Florida Fag Foley." One evening, four of the boys made an unannounced visit to Foley's home.

"We knocked on his door and he let us in. Nothing happened, but he was very friendly," the former page said.

Foley's flirtations made the young man feel important at a time when he was struggling with his emerging sexuality. "It seemed cool that he was taking an interest," he said. "I knew he was gay, and he was attracted to me."

After leaving the program, the former page began receiving messages from Foley. He is uncertain how Foley knew his college instant-message name, but assumed the congressman had access to a directory listing former pages' whereabouts.

The exchanges quickly became provocative. In one 2000 message, Maf54 inquired about the length and direction of the youth's erection.

"I always thought you were gay," Maf54 commented.

"Is it obvious?" the former page asked.

Ultimately, the young man said, he had a sexual encounter with Foley at the congressman's Washington home.

Then 21, he was in Washington as an intern in an unrelated program.

The two had wine and pizza on a backyard patio and then retired to a spare bedroom, he recalled.

Ok, now note precisely when this is supposed to have happened...
The former page, who served during Foley's first term, said that he believed Foley became bolder in his behavior during his decade in Congress.
Foley was elected during the "Republican revolution" of 1994... the sexual encounter supposedly took place years later, in 2000.
"He clearly has used his position, but who hasn't?" the former page said. He still follows protocol in referring to the former congressman as "Mr. Foley."

He said Foley was really two very different people: a legislator "really devoted to his cause," and a sexual being.
Yeah... a really creepy, disgusting sexual being...
He and other former pages were surprised that it took so long for Foley "to get caught," he said.

"It most saddens me because of the damage it could do to the program," the young man said of the page system. "It was the most spectacular year of my life. I would love to do it all over again."
So now the question is, does the left defend Foley on this, or does the right demolish him?

Meanwhile, the St. Pete Times, which purposely slept on the Foley story, tries to catch up.

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posted by JReid @ 3:10 PM  
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Newsweek gets pessimistic
...on the GOP's prospects for fall (hell, they make me sound positively pollyannish!) Re their new poll:
A Political Limbo
How low can the Republicans go?

Oct. 7, 2006 - Come hell or high water-ran the conventional wisdom-Republicans could rely on two issues to win elections: the war on terror and values. Then came Mark Foley. The drip-drip-drip of scandal surrounding the former Congressman from Florida, which became a deluge this week, now threatens to sink Republican hopes of keeping control of Congress, says the NEWSWEEK poll out today.

And that was the good news for the GOP. More worrisome still, the Foley fiasco is jeopardizing the party’s monopoly on faith and power. For the first time since 2001, the NEWSWEEK poll shows that more Americans trust the Democrats than the GOP on moral values and the war on terror. Fully 53 percent of Americans want the Democrats to win control of Congress next month, including 10 percent of Republicans, compared to just 35 percent who want the GOP to retain power. If the election were held today, 51 percent of likely voters would vote for the Democrat in their district versus 39 percent who would vote for the Republican. And while the race is closer among male voters (46 percent for the Democrats vs. 42 percent for the Republicans), the Democrats lead among women voters 56 to 34 percent.

It's all bad, but I think the question on the candidate in the respondent's district rings loudest, and is potentially most dangerous, for the GOP. Again, if voters enter the booth thinking strategically, meaning they go in determined to change the makeup of Congress, regardless of what they feel about their own representative, then the GOP definitely loses the House. If voters go in thinking of their rep in isolation, and assuming the voters who show up in November even know enough about their representative to decide they like him, rather than being mostly influenced by advertising or events, then the GOP stands a chance.

A bit more from Newsweek:
Meanwhile, the president’s approval rating has fallen to a new all-time low for the Newsweek poll: 33 percent, down from an already anemic 36 percent in August. Only 25 percent of Americans are satisfied with the direction of the country, while 67 percent say they are not. Foley’s disgrace certainly plays a role in Republican unpopularity: 27 percent of registered voters say the scandal and how the Republican leadership in the House handled it makes them less likely to vote for a Republican Congressional candidate; but 65 percent say it won’t make much difference in determining how they vote. And Americans are equally divided over whether or not Speaker Hastert should resign over mishandling the situation (43 percent say he should, but 36 percent say he shouldn’t).

And Newsweek reminds us of how Iraq continues to play a role in the mood of the country -- basically having a Katrina-like effect on the public's confidence in the president and his party -- though I continue to believe that most Americans in red and purple states are too ambivalent about what to do on Iraq to make that the driving force behind their votes. Says Newsweek:
The scandal’s more significant impact seems to be a widening of the yawning credibility gap developing between the President, his party and the nation. While 52 percent of Americans believe Hastert was aware of Foley’s actions and tried to cover them up, it’s part of a larger loss of faith in Republican leadership, thanks mostly to the war in Iraq. For instance, for the first time in the NEWSWEEK poll, a majority of Americans now believe the Bush administration knowingly misled the American people in building its case for war against Saddam Hussein: 58 percent vs. 36 percent who believe it didn’t. And pessimism over Iraq is at record highs on every score: nearly two in three Americans, 64 percent, believe the United States is losing ground there; 66 percent say the war has not made America safer from terrorism (just 29 percent believe it has); and 53 percent believe it was a mistake to go to war at all, again the first time the NEWSWEEK poll has registered a majority in that camp.
And here's the grim bottom line:
Democrats now outdistance Republicans on every single issue that could decide voters’ choices come Nov. 7. In addition to winning—for the first time in the NEWSWEEK poll—on the question of which party is more trusted to fight the war on terror (44 to 37 percent) and moral values (42 percent to 36 percent), the Democrats now inspire more trust than the GOP on handling Iraq (47 to 34); the economy (53 to 31); health care (57 to 24); federal spending and the deficit (53 to 29); gas and oil prices (56 to 23); and immigration (43 to 34).

And even if the Republicans manage to bail out their ship before the midterms, they’ll have a hard time matching their one-time strengths to voters’ priorities. A third of registered voters, 33 percent, say the single most important issue that will decide their vote will be Iraq; compare to 20 percent who say the economy and only 12 percent who say terrorism, which ties with health care.

30 days and counting...

Related: Chris Cillizza of the WaPo breaks down the hot races...

Tags: , , Democrats, Bush, Republicans, News, Government, Congress, 2006
posted by JReid @ 6:21 PM  
Keeping it real
As we get closer to the election, I like everyone else am asking what all of the scandals, from the lies about Iraq to the phony terror alerts to the grabbing of breathtaking presidential power from a flaccid Congress to the stealing, corruption and now sex scandals of the GOP, will mean the day after the November election.

For what it's worth, here's how I think the various GOP ills will play in November.

1. Iraq

Voters seem genuinely ambivalent on this one. A clear majority now regret supporting the invasion, and in hindsight, think it was a mistake (duh, people...) But I think a lot of people are also afraid that if we simply pull out of there, it will leave an even bigger mess. The result: I think that the Democrats would be wise to coalesce, and do so firmly, around a combination of the Korb and Biden plans: in other words, redeploy the troops to Kuwait and Kurdistan to get them off the streets of Baghdad and Ramadi; force the Iraqi governmetn to take responsibility for its own internal security, while providing some sort of guarantee of its external security courtesy of the U.S. military, and allow the country to be divided in three, with automous regions and a weak central government, to keep them from killing each other. But as far as the election goes, I have a feeling most voters in red and purple states won't be voting directly on Iraq, even if they're now sick of the war.

Net impact on the Republicans in November: neutral.

2. The economy

Sorry, wingers, but only Wall Street insiders and tycoons think the economy is good. Those 51,000 jobs the economy just created are largely part-time, low paying or government gigs. Real people -- middle class people -- are struggling like crazy, and they're not going to believe the economy is great, no matter how many times you say that it is.

Net impact on the Republicans in November: negative ... big time.

3. Corruption

The Abramoff scandal stinks to high heaven, but most people just glaze over when they try to dig into it. Bottom line, people get that the GOP has been corrupted by lobbyists. Unfortunately, they also get that if the Dems had been in charge, the big corporations would have been taking them to Scotland for golf trips, too.

Net impact on the Republicans in November: slightly negative.

4. Terrorism

"There's an old saying in Texas ... I think its in Tennesee too... it says, fool me once, shame on ... you ... you fool me can't get fooled again." In other words, most of us (except for the really psychotic authoritarians, who seem to feed on fear of Muslims like Hummers feed on unleaded regular,) have figured out that the orange alerts and Osama videos are part of the strategic propaganda. The "security moms" have gone back to caring most about the economy. And yeah, we know we'll be on high orange right around November 1st. And those who do start hiding under the bed every time Al Gonzales announces that we've detained another bunch of karate-masters and paint ballers from the hood, are so far gone that they now bleed Kool-Aid ... and they'd be voting Republican, anyway.

Net impact on the Republicans in November: neutral.

5. Foleygate

The GOP's attempts to smear the pages, the media (including "Path to 9/11" network sibling ABC News), George Soros (apparently because he has given money to CREW), and whoever else they can think of on the fly is a wasted, stupid stragey. As Chris Matthews said on "Hardball" on Friday, the public doesn't care where the truth came from when it comes to the Mark Foley scandal. They just know they don't like what they're hearing, as the latest polling shows, and they "get" this sleazy sex scandal and the clear attempts by House leadership to cover it up, in their gut, perhaps more than they're able to sort out their feelings on, say, what we should do about Iraq.

At the same time, those on the other side who are up in arms over the Drudgy angle that at least one of the IM conversations now pinned on Foley were the result of a prank by young pages, rather than a simple predatory episode, I think doth protest too much (as do the lefties who are screaming that this isn't about Foley being a homosexual -- actually, you're damned skippy it's about Foley being gay -- conservatives are uncomfortable with the many gays in their very own closet, and the majority of Americans are, frankly, grossed out by the topic of male, gay sex... and especially by attempts on the part of some old coot to have it with teenaged boys...) Back to my point: if you are acquainted with any teenagers, or hell, if you ever were a teenager, you know that kids are pretty sophisticated when it comes to sex -- much moreso than adults give them credit for -- and I can imageine that there's nothing more hilarious to a teenaged kid, free from parental control in pre-college dorm conditions in the nation's capitol, than egging on the known House freakazoid -- a pathetic old queer whose near desperation to land a young, teen stud for sex, despite the fact that he's already in an adult homosexual relationship, is pure teenaged comedy gold -- to see just how much crazy stuff you can get him to say. I can completely imagine Foley sitting there in his boxers, eagerly IMing what he thought was one young man who, despite having a girlfriend, perhaps could be coaxed and groomed at least into cybersex, if not more, but actually sharing his innermost creepy thoughts with a room full of kids who wre not only laughing at him, but also passing the resulting IM conversations around to their friends. Remember, Foley had for years been known as the Congressman who liked teenage boys, and pages had been warned since as early as 1995 that he might get too friendly. Perhaps he got too friendly with Jordan Edmund, and Jordan and his friends decided to have some fun at Foley's expense. (Edmund's lawyer has opened the door to this scenario, backing off earlier claims that the prank scenario was impossible.)

That said, defenders of the GOP leadership's handling of the Foley mess don't have a moral or legal leg to stand on, even if the Edmund IMs turn out to be prank-driven. That's because Edmund isn't the only recipient of lurid advances or IMs from Foley. There are now between three and five victims, depending on which media accounts you read. And it's going to be tough to prove that every one of them were pranksters. In fact, allegations of Foley's inappropriate advances toward pages now appear to go back as many as ten years, and some former pages have now come forward to publicly accuse Foley of hitting on them when they were underage.

In other words, the prank scenario is perfectly plausible, and it doesn't matter a whit.

Next, though, the issue of political fallout. Jay Tea actually surprises me by mounting a pretty coherent, intelligent analysis of how this could all play out for the Republican Party:
...The effect on the November elections: I expect very little. There simply isn't a national election this year -- there are 435 state district elections and 33 or 34 (I don't feel like looking up the precise number) state-wide elections. The Democrats will TRY to hang Foley around the necks of Republicans, but the simple fact is that unless they can connect the voter's individual representative to Foley directly, he won't be a factor.
And he even managed to hold back his obligatory Bill Clinton reference until paragraph five!

I agree that for most members of Congress, the Foley scandal will have little direct impact on their election. But I disagree with Jay that the upcoming contest in November is not, in many ways, a national election. Republicans must contend -- as Democrats did in 1994 -- with an overall pall of scandal, a general sense that they, as a party, have become corrupt and immoral in large part because they are in posession of total power in Washington. If voters go to the polls believing that the GOP's problems are not that members are more immoral than Democrats, but that having no political check on their behavior has brought out the worst in them, some voters may pull the lever for divided government. Given the apathy and lack of political thinking by the vast majority of voters, we're really talking about a small number of voters who go into the polls strategically. But in midterm elections, fewer people vote overall, so small, determined numbers can do big things.

Second, in races directly tied to the Foley mess -- think Tom Reynolds in New York -- the effect on November could be to shift formerly safe seats onto the active playing field, meaning that the NRCC and NRSC will be forced to reduce its financial advantage versus Democrats in proportion to the money they hadn't planned on spending (in Florida and New York,) reducing the amount they could be spending targeting winnable seats like Bob Menendez's seat in New Jersey. With Republicans already having to spend extra to defend once safe seats like Allen's in Virginia and Santorum's in Pennsylvania, even before Foleygate, I'd wager that the overall electoral strategy for the GOP has been disrupted enough that they may be required to do more than is feasible nationwide when it comes to GOTV.

And then there is the issue of how to mobilize the most important new force in GOTV strategy for the party -- evangelical Christians -- when your party is being accused of covering for a freakish pedophile wierdo (who's also gay -- just to turn the screws in Tony Perkins' Frankenstein head even tighter...) Some Democrats have picked up on the possibilities that the Foleygate scandal brings to the table, and they're already using it the way Republicans would if the tables were turned.

Net impact on the Republicans in November: negative

6. Black voters

One factor that the Dems are missing, is that in key races where they have a shot at turning a Republican seat, Black turnout is going to be key, and Black turnout has underperformed expectations in every election since 2000, when the Supreme Court-directed outcome so demoralized Black voters, that I have argued that turnout has never recovered. Dems have been running on a promise of revenge ever since, but my first hand experience with Black voters and potential voters in Forida is that they largely disbelieve the idea that vengeance can be had at the polls, because many simply no longer trust the process. Given that, the Democrats should be doing a lot more to get out this vote. Trouble is, Democrats have this nasty habit of ignoring Black voters until three weeks out from Election Day, and then thinking that they can get out the vote simply by dragging Bill Clinton to a few Black churches here and there. Democratic candidates -- including the Dem gubernatorial candidate here in Florida (who has helped himself by nominating a Black running mate, even if he did so under fire for a racially sensitive vote he case in the state legislature during the 1990s, though he hasn't pressed the advantage by mounting a serious campaign to win the Black vote) -- have continued to neglect and take the Black vote for granted, failing to advertise to Black audiences through their media of choice, and using a "where have they got to go?" strategy that is both insulting and stupid. Message to white Democrats: don't assume that Black voters are going to turn out at the polls in November, if you haven't bothered to ask them to.

And then there is the growing foreign-born Black vote, which, contrary to what white Democrats tell themselves in their strategy sessions, is very much in play for Republicans who go after it.

Net impact on the Republicans in November: very, very hard to say, but if Blacks don't turn out in key counties like Broward County, Florida, the GOP will be breathing a sigh of relief on November 8th.

Regarding turnout, which is the whole ballgame in a midterm, there's also the issue of pissed off traditional conservatives and libertarians, who are mad at the GOP for other reasons, like spending and immigration. Will they turn out in force to help keep this fat, sleazy, corrupt bunch of spend-crazy pols in power? Only if they hate and fear Democrats enough, and I'm not convinced that they do, especially if divided government produces a two year cushion of gridlock, wherein the politicians can't f*** things up even more than they already have...

For all of those reasons, I think the political climate is a net plus for Democrats, although I hardly believe the hype that Foleygate alone could produce a 50 seat tsunami for the GOP. (And to be honest, I'm not sure the marginal power of a bare majority in the House or Senate is necessarily worth having, when it would be so much easier to take the White House in 2008 if you let the Republicans screw the country to the wall for another two years, as there's absolutely no doubt in my mind they would, but that's another post...) I assume that because the many-headed hydra of Iraq and scandal filling the news cycle throws off the spending and GOTV strategy (how to get the BE AFRAID OF THE TERRORISTS!!!! message in, between Anna Nicole's baby daddy drama and the pants-off Congressman...?) ... Democrats, even with a smaller pot and a lot less strategic savvy (Bill Clinton excepted), will be more financially and straegically competitive in a number of key races in November, while GOP seats are now in play that weren't in the game plan before (seats that it will cost Democrats comparatively little money to go after, given the fact that the media's saturation of the Foley scandal is doing the storytelling for them.)

The result: I see the Dems picking up enough seats to either narrowly take the House, or to put it into an effective tie (meaning the do-nothing Congress will live on -- and by the way, if the Repubs hang on, Denny Hastert is as good as gone as speaker...). In the Senate, the Dems have a surprisingly good shot at taking it back, but there again, I don't think it's a sure thing. If I had to predict it today, I'd say the Dems will wind up with a tied Senate and a bare majority in the House.

To be honest, if Terry McAuliffe were still running the DNC, I'd be ready to predict a House takeover, even 30 days out from E-day. But among the weaknesses Dems face, is the ineffectiveness, so far, of Howard Dean. Time will tell if his 50 state rebuilding strategy will pay off, but for now, his job was to raise a shitload of money and to help the party develop a unified, effective message machine. On those two fronts, he has failed. And because of that failure, he has made the party's chances of taking back the Congress that much slimmer. The big question, is which of these teetering parties will toddle past the finish with control of the committees.

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posted by JReid @ 4:28 PM  
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Foley, not a new perv
A former page says he received dirty IMs from Mark Foley back in the 1990s.

Rita Cosby has the video.

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posted by JReid @ 10:09 AM  
From the desk of: George F. Will
George Will continues to entertain the hell out of me. From his WaPo column today:
After the 1936 election, in which President Franklin Roosevelt shellacked the Republican nominee in all but two states, a humorist wrote: "If the outcome of this election hasn't taught you Republicans not to meddle in politics, I don't know what will." If, after the Foley episode -- a maraschino cherry atop the Democrats' delectable sundae of Republican miseries -- the Democrats cannot gain 13 seats, they should go into another line of work.
Read the whole column. It too is a delectable sunday.

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posted by JReid @ 9:56 AM  
Keep it in the closet?
A writer at the Hill asks the obvious question: is the GOP's political "don't ask, don't tell" policy tenable in this media age?

When are gay Republicans in Washington going to realize that they must either come out of the closet or retire from politics? The irresponsible tactic of living a lie isn’t a viable long-term political strategy. Democrats, from Bill Clinton on down, are all too happy to pull down gay Republicans’ trousers and expose their lifestyles. Some Democrats will deny this, but it is clear that partisan considerations have often played a role in clandestine efforts to out GOP gays.

The interesting question is why so many gay Republicans stay closeted. Perhaps it’s because they fear losing their positions. But is there conclusive evidence that would occur? Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe, representing a conservative Arizona district, was reelected several times after coming out in 1996. Earlier this month, a Minnesota state senator, Paul Koering, was narrowly re-nominated in a Republican primary after disclosing that he is gay.

Although a candidate’s homosexuality will always be a key issue, it will rank second to honesty. Honesty always scores near the top of any set of candidate traits that voters seek. Serial dishonesty is never acceptable.
Good points.

Related: Barney Frank talks about the D.C. closet.

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posted by JReid @ 8:18 AM  
Enter the pajamasphere
The bloggers are attacking! The bloggers are attacking! First, they go after Mark Foley's victims, and now, they're trying to sleuth out the blog that done him in. You see, there's this major league conspiracy, see, to bring down the Republican Party by outing Foley's nasty behavior. Therefore, it's not the behavior that's the problem... it's the Democrats. (And according to Fox News and the Associated Press, Foley is ... a Democrat!)

But back to the sleuthing:

Radar picks up on the winger meme questioning the authenticity of StopSexPredators, the blog that first reported on the Foley page correspondence. The idea, apparently, is to prove that the blog is somehow connected to the Daily Kos:

After running just six posts over the summer, the site picked up steam on September 21 when its author wrote, "the blog has been noticed and some shocking emails have been received!!!!" and posted four emails purportedly from "interns" outraged by the heretofore unmentioned Foley and his penchant for teenage boys.

(Of course, if these emails are legit, it means the "interns" somehow stumbled upon the blog, despite the fact that it had not yet been linked to by any other sites, and was virtually indetectible to Google, which ranks sites according to the number of incoming links.) ...

...One "intern" wrote:

"...I came to Washington because I care about the future of America. I wanted to be around good and decent men like President George Bush. Instead, I feel like a piece of meat. The worst part of it for me is there appear to be plenty of my fellow interns who don't mind Foley's particular 'path to power.'"

Three days later, the blogger posted the now infamous "Emails from Congressman Foley to 16 Year Old Page!!!!", claiming they'd been sent in by a reader (despite the fact that they appeared to be scans of faxed printouts). Persons unknown then seeded the link to various political sites—including Wonkette, which initially dismissed them as fakes. ABC, of course, took them more seriously.

Whoever promoted the story on DailyKos did so only 12 minutes after the fateful post went live at 11:06 a.m. ... (go to the site for the pic) Six minutes later, the same person, again writing under the handle WHinternNOW posted the following (ditto).
... Meanwhile, other bloggers are attempting to prove that at least one of the pages propositioned by Foley is 21 years old ... and that he wasn't underage at the time he corresponded with the horn-dog House member.

And another gambit coming down the pike, according to Joshua Micah Marshall, is to blame the whole mess on gay staffers who are pissed off at Foley for being closeted. According to Marshall, Kirk Fordham, who just quit as Tom Reynolds' chief of staff, is gay. More on the gay staff media purge to come, from David Corn:

There's a list going around. Those disseminating it call it "The List." It's a roster of top-level Republican congressional aides who are gay.

On CBS News on Tuesday, correspondent Gloria Borger reported that there's anger among House Republicans at what an unidentified House GOPer called a "network of gay staffers and gay members who protect each other and did the Speaker a disservice." The implication is that these gay Republicans somehow helped page-pursuing Mark Foley before his ugly (and possibly illegal) conduct was exposed. The List--drawn up by gay politicos--is a partial accounting of who on Capitol Hill might be in that network.

I have a copy. I'm not going to publish it. For one, I don't know for a fact that the men on the list are gay. And generally I don't fancy outing people--though I have not objected when others have outed gay Republicans, who, after all, work for a party that tries to limit the rights of gays and lesbians and that welcomes the support of those who demonize same-sexers.

And Republicans in the House (along with their media hit-people) have been blaming the Democrats for the disclosures, and even demanding that Nancy Pelosi and others testify under oath about what they knew about the emails, and when they knew it.

Hell, Hastert is even down to blaming George Soros...

But here's the problem: The Hill is reporting that the source of the email intel was ... like Foley ... a Republican. ... a lifelong Republican.

Update: Senior Republican seeks "serious investigation" of the Foley drunk at the page dorm story.

Update 2: The FBI now wants to question Jordan Edmund, the 21-year-old former page outed by a right wing blogger yesterday.


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posted by JReid @ 6:22 AM  
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Mr. Pathetic
It strikes me that Mark Foley probably isn't a pedophile (in the clinical sense of the word). He apparently lived a rather blatantly gay lifestyle, complete with a long term boyfriend (though Radar sure didn't give credit for the scoop where credit is due...) The only people he hid his homosexuality from were his constituents -- significant, given the general conservatism of his district, but hell, they didn't seem to care enough to spot the obvioius, now did they? But given the fact that he apparently didn't want for a relationship, Foley's hot and heavy, relentless pursuit of barely legal (or illegal) males seems more reminiscent of a rather desperate, pathetic old perv who liked 'em young (even if not pre-pubescent) and who repeatedly tried -- and failed -- to score with a teen. It must have been his special little fantasy to turn out some poor young, confused kid. Apparently, he saw the page service as a personal dating pool of sorts, where he could find, groom, and hopefully land himself a young'un, whom I sure he hoped would consider him to be a cool older guy who'd buy the beer, link to his MySpace page, and teach him how to do things his girlfriend never thought of (okay, I'm nauseous now.) ...

Instead, Mark Foley became the creepy teacher in school (or the creepy wrestling coach if you prefer... ahem...)

In other words, he became desperate, overeager and pathetic. No wonder he's in hiding ... I mean "rehab." Whatever happens next, and I personally am rooting for jail-time, Foley is finished. He will eventually skulk back into some sort of job, I suppose ... maybe as a camp counselor at that nudist camp he was so riled up about a year or so ago... but he is permanent persona non grata among the Republican Party, where he was apparently as desperate a social climber as he was a teeniebopper chaser -- after all, when the GOP looks back at the November election, if they lose big, they're not going to blame Iraq or the middle class squeeze or gas prices or their own corruption, profligate spending, and failure to enact a single meaningful piece of legislation in years. They're going to blame him.

And that's a shame, because there's so much blame to go around. Mr. Hastert, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Shimkus, Mr. Boehner and their staffs all knew that this guy was creepy, overly friendly with the pages, and thus, presented a danger to the teens' well being on Capitol Hill. They saw their responsibility as to the party, and to their own power, not to these teens and their families, who had entrusted their children to them. Mark Foley is responsible for his own actions (the "sex abuse victim, alcoholic with mental problems" gambit isn't getting him off the hook). But the leadership was in a position to stop him from insinuating himself into the lives of the teens on Capitol Hill. They failed to do so, and so they're just as much to blame for what he has wrought.

After all, who would you hold responsible if the creepy teacher in school started going after students? You'd blame the principal and the administration. Creepy priests molesting alter boys? You blame the diocese that moved him from parish to parish. Creepy congressman? You get the idea.

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posted by JReid @ 10:52 PM  
Throw Dennis from the train (plus: the wingersphere plays 21)
The latest drama to play out across the blogosphere in the Foleygate/Pagegate case involves a blogger, who in a rather self-congratulating and painstaking way, walked his readers through a rather tedious "outing" of a 21 year old young man alleged to have been one of the IM chattees with the disgraced former Florida congressman. Earlier this evening, RawStory linked to a post by someone called "Wild Bill", who blogs at Passionate America (link removed by chastened blogger). Since then, they have retracted the link, saying the young man in question is NOT the recipient of the original emails that alerted -- or failed to alert -- House leadership to Foley's taste for high school boys.

Drudge is now leading with the story that, as Wild Bill claims (though curiously, without crediting Wild Bill)... the young man in question was 18, and not underage, at the time of the dirty IM exchange with Foley. The question of how old the young man is (and keep in mind that even if he IS one of the recipients, he is only one of up to FIVE pages and former pages with whom Foley may have had inappropriate conduct) is the latest gambit by those on the right to drown the Foley scandal in the bathtub. With House Republicans forming a lethal circular firing squad and attacking one another with abandon at this point, a GOP blogswarm by pajama people trying to recreate their Rathergate "gotcha" at the expense of the interns, is apparently their only way out. ("Democrats are just as bad, look at Gerry Studds!" just didn't do it... and I'm not sure "that's why the gays shouldn't run for office" is exactly a winning strategy, either.)

(As of the last update, Wild Bill was quite excited about "being on TV soon. ... mind that 15 minutes, buddy, you could wind up on crystal meth and broke like all the other child stars...) Sadly, all he will likely accomplish with this "scoop" is to subject the young man he names (and whose picture and myspace page he exposes) to death threats from the wack-jobs who populate the right wing of the political asylum. Apparently, Mr. Bill, who apparently also outed the young man on his radio show this afternoon, is unaware of just how crazy the assorted gun nuts, religious wackos and angry Bush-bots on the right by and large are. He should read more LGF and Free Republic, so that he can truly appreciate who he's dealing with.

Meanwhile, RawStory posts this retraction of their earlier link-love:

The blog Passionate America has revealed the identity and published a photograph of an alleged victim of disgraced Rep. Mark Foley in a post that was pulled and later re-posted with additional information.

RAW STORY can verify that the young man in question is not the Congressional page from the emails that originally surfaced; with that in mind, a direct link to the Passionate America post is not provided here.

RAW STORY has learned that the recipient of the Foley emails is currently 17 (and was 16 at the time of the correspondence).

Passionate America contends that the young man they identified took part in some of the instant message conversations obtained by ABC news. In those messages, the boy explicitly identified himself as being under the age of 18.

If the boy was over the age of 18 at the time of the messages, Foley's communication with him would likely still be considered criminal. Sex predator legislation is generally written bearing in mind that law enforcement sting operations rely on undercover officers pretending to be minors.

However, even if he is now 21, the man identified could still have been as young as 16 at the time of the messages. ABC has stated that they are in possession of chat logs from as much as five years back.
Okay, let's say for the record that one of the pages in question is now of age. How does that help the Republicans to deal with the remainder of the scandal, including the fact that the page isn't said to be getting IMs from Foley now, but rather when he was, in fact, underage... which, by the way, puts the scandal back at least three, maybe four years. Is that helpful? I think not.

And then there's this:

The Hotline reported earlier today that Kirk Fordham, who was chief of staff for NY Congressman/NRCC chair Tom Reynolds, resigned, and he has an interesting pedigree:

Why did Kirk Fordham resign today?

Accounts vary. According to a senior Republican official in Washington, Fordham, in the spring of 2006, promised Rep. John Shimkus, the chairman of the page board as well as a staff member in Speaker Dennis Hastert’s office, that he would make sure Foley kept out of trouble.

Fordham had spent ten years as Foley's chief of staff and is one of his closest friends. He was acting here in two capacities: as a representative of Reynolds, the chair of the campaign committee, and as a friend to Foley. From the perspective of the GOP leadership, whatever assurances Fordham gave were enough to prevent Hastert’s staff from recommending any further action.

But Shimkus, in a statement to ABC News, said he did not speak to Fordham about the "overly friendly" e-mails. Fordham has also denied seeking to quash any investigation.

Fordham denies interfering with any investigation into Foley's conduct and told the AP that he warned a senior Congressional aide about Foley's behavior two years ago. His friends believe he is a scapegoat for others in the leadership who ignored warnings about Foley.
In his statement, Fordham said he would not "let the Democrats... make a political issue in (his) boss's race," and says he will fully cooperate with the FBI investigation.

Fordham had earlier in the day claimed that he informed Dennis Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, about Foley's page problem two years ago, a bomblet that can't have gone over well with fellow Hill staffers. And Brian Ross at ABC News had earlier reported that Fordham had been involved in trying to hush up the Foley emails and keep them out of the hands of Democrats, not to mention the full page board.

Long story short, I believe Hastert won't last much longer:

As the FBI investigation picked up steam, with agents contacting former pages across the country, there were new allegations that Foley's suspect behavior towards pages was no secret to the Speaker of the House and his top staff for at least three years.

Kirk Fordham, former chief of staff for Foley, told ABC News today that sometime in late 2003, he told the Speaker's chief of staff that Foley was getting too close to young male pages.

Fordham says the Speaker's aide, Scott Palmer, then met with Foley. Fordham also said the Speaker knew about the meeting.

Fordham says there had been a series of warnings from page supervisors that Foley was spending too much time with the pages in ways that were inappropriate and would not stop.

Pages themselves say they had been warned by Republican staff to be careful around Foley.

Reynolds says he personally talked to Hastert about Foley earlier this year. And all of these people will likely be talking to the FBI in the next several days. I sure hope their stories match up better by then.

So, as TIME asks, will Foley gate bring down Hastert? At this stage I would vote that somebody big has to resign over this, and if past is prologue, Republicans tend to sacrifice their speakers.

Related: At last! Evidence that Mark Foley may actually have been drunk ...! ... at least once (and in a dormatory...)

Update: Hastert's chief of staff fires back at Fordham.

And the Hotline Blog's conventional wisdom meter swings away from Hastert.

Update 2: Hastert says he would resign, but not because of principle. He'd do it only if it helps the GOP...

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posted by JReid @ 10:12 PM  
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Wait, wait, there's more...
Could the media's next target of opportunity be Mark Foley's alleged boyfriend, who could be a prominent Palm Beach dermatologist/plastic surgeon named Layne Nisenbaum? To whit: what did Layne know about Foley's potentially illegal soliciting of minors? And what did the GOP -- led by Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist, among others in Florida, know and when did they know it?

Oh, and check out this neat little trip down memory lane...
Letter to Governor Jeb Bush From Congressman Mark Foley
By Mark Foley Information Services
June 20, 2003

(Editor's Note: The following is a letter from Congressman Mark Foley to Florida Governor Jeb Bush asking to shut down a children's nudist camp in Tampa, Fla.)

June 18, 2003

The Honorable Jeb Bush
Governor, State of Florida
PL05 Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
The Honorable Charlie Crist
Attorney General, State of Florida
PL01 The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050

Dear Governor Bush and Attorney General Crist:

The New York Times today carried an article I found truly disturbing. Headlined "Old Enough to Make a Lanyard, and to Do It Nude," it is a story about a nudist camp for children - ages 11-18 - at the Lake Como Resort in Land O'Lakes, Florida.

Pasco County, according to the story, has long been a haven for nudists and nudist resorts. The reason is that, again according to the story, Florida''s laws permit underage nudity as long as there is no "lewdness."

Obviously, I have no way of knowing whether illegal behavior is taking place in this camp, but the situation clearly raises legitimate issues that should be addressed given that it involves minor children. I am also deeply troubled that these "camps" are businesses specifically exploiting nudity among minor children to make money.

The New York Times article also clearly raises safety issues concerning these children. For example, the article told of instances where men have made their way to the camp pool to get a "glimpse" of these naked children. I am sure this was not the first time someone tried to gain access illegally to this camp, and I am sure it will not be the last. The next time, these children may not be so fortunate: the trespasser may have more on his mind than just peeping.

As co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, I'm asking that current Florida law be reviewed to determine if this camp is indeed legal or if it has simply slipped under the radar screen of law enforcement for the past 10 years.

If Florida law is not sufficient to address these camps, you certainly can count on my support to pursue changes in the statutes.

Over the years, while working with John Walsh and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, I have come across many stories of children endangered in even less troubling situations than these camps represent. I have been fighting for years to eliminate both child pornography and so-called "exploitive child modeling" websites, and frankly, I would put these camps in the same mold: I believe they may be endangering these children.

I look forward to hearing from you to see what we can do to ensure the safety of our state's children.

Mark Foley
Member of Congress
Thank you, Democratic Underground... and don't think the nudists have forgotten! ... nor have they forgiven...

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posted by JReid @ 8:51 PM  
Could Democrats take it all?
McClatchy says it could happen, even in the Senate:
WASHINGTON — Democrats are within striking distance of taking control of the U.S. Senate on Election Day, a series of new polls for McClatchy Newspapers and MSNBC showed Monday.

Democratic Senate candidates are tied, have a slight edge or an outright lead in every one of 10 pivotal battleground states. No Democrat trails in those races; no Republican leads. Democrats must gain six seats to capture control of the 100-member Senate.

Democratic candidates have a strong chance to win all seven at-risk Republican Senate seats - with their candidates tied in Virginia and Missouri, holding a slight edge in Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee, and leading in Montana and Pennsylvania.

And they are in position to hold their three most vulnerable seats - with a slight edge in New Jersey and leading in Maryland and Washington.

This in-depth, state-by-state look at the political landscape of 10 Senate battleground states five weeks before Election Day Nov. 7 is based on a series of polls by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, Inc. Seven were conducted for McClatchy Newspapers and MSNBC, and three for other newspapers were made available to McClatchy. Each state poll was by phone of 625 likely voters in the final week of September. The error margin is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

"These numbers look very encouraging for the Democrats to take control of the Senate," said Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker.

Democrats are faring well and Republicans are on the defensive for several reasons: dissatisfaction with President Bush, disapproval of the war in Iraq, anti-incumbent sentiment, and some anxiety about the economy.

Aggravating those factors is the fact that several Republican strategies don't appear to be working well at this point:

Voters who don't like Bush are taking it out on the Republican candidates, regardless of whether Republicans run from or with the president.

Voters in all but one state rank Iraq as their top concern, above terrorism, despite Bush's campaign to link the unpopular war to the more broadly supported effort against terrorism.

A majority of voters think Iraq is going badly. Those who think that support Democrats by solid margins.

The fact that Democrats haven't spelled out clear alternatives on Iraq - a main complaint from Republicans - doesn't seem to matter.

"The Democrats haven't said anything that makes people say, `Yeah, that's the way to go.' People just don't like what the Republicans are doing," Coker said. ...

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posted by JReid @ 8:25 PM  
John don't fly no more
Remember when then Attorney General John Ashcroft stopped flying commercial aircraft in the summer of 2001? Ever wonder why?

Tags: Bush, Iraq, Politics, Bush, War, News, 9-11, ,
posted by JReid @ 8:21 PM  
When Mark touches Charlie

"What Foley represents is what these folks have rejected. It's '60s stuff and they think it's sick." -- Pat Buchanan on the conservative base.

I ask the question again: When (because it's not a matter of "if") does the Mark Foley scandal come home from Washington to Florida, and touch the man voted most likely to succeed Governor Jeb Bush -- one "Chain Gang" Charlie Crist?

Crist, you see, is the sitting attorney general of Florida.

He is a close associate of Florida Governor (and presidential baby brother) Jeb Bush.

As the chief law enforcement officer in Florida, he is drawn into the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's current investigation of Foley's behavior, at least tangentially.

And, and this is a big "and" -- a lot of people in Florida, and I do mean A LOT -- think Charlie Crist is a homosexual.

That's important, because as Pat Buchanan just said on "Hardball," the Foley scandal, if it does nothing else, will cause the evangelical core of the Republican base to recoil instinctively from anything that even looks like a homosexual. That means any politician on the margins -- any David Dreier, any Chris Shays ... any advisor on the margins -- any Ken Mehlman -- who gets too close to the taint of even rumored homosexuality, had better lay real low for awhile. That may sound crual, but then, politics is nothing if not cruel.

How do you get the evangelical base to turn out in Florida's 16th district to pull the lever for the dispicable Foley, even with the inducement that the votes would really go to someone named "Negron"? (Maybe if the someone was named, Smith...)

And now, let's wade a little deeper into the mud.

From today's Wayne Madsen Report:
October 3, 2006 -- Informed sources in Tallahassee, Florida have told WMR that Governor Jeb Bush was fully aware of ex-Rep. Mark Foley's conduct with underage male pages but sat on the information to protect Foley and another top GOP Florida official, Attorney General Charlie Crist, who is currently running for governor to replace Bush. Today, Jeb Bush said he had not previously known about Foley's behavior with the pages before being informed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert in a letter dated October 1, 2006. Bush said he was "dismayed and shocked to learn about Congressman Foley's unacceptable behavior."

However, according to our Florida sources, the FBI and Justice Department informed the Florida Governor's office, Attorney General Crist, and the Florida AG's Child Protection Cybercrime Unit at least a year ago about Foley's predatory emails and instant messages. WMR was told that Crist's conflict-of-interest in the case stems from Crist's and Foley's involvement in gay sex parties, some of which took place during 2003 in trendy Coconut Grove, Florida.

Informed Florida sources claim that up until now, Crist and Jeb Bush have been able to keep a lid on the once-divorced Crist's life style, touting his conservative Christian credentials, but that the Foley revelations will severely impact the Crist gubernatorial campaign. The links between Foley and Crist are certain to harm Crist with his conservative backers who admire Crist for his anti-gay rights stance. Floridians begin early voting on October 23.

And this:
October 3, 2006 -- WMR has learned from informed sources in the Justice Department that the salacious e-mails from Rep. Mark Foley were leaked to ABC News by career Justice Department prosecutors and FBI agents who are incensed that Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales covered up the House page scandal for political reasons. The back story of Pagegate is that there was a criminal conspiracy by the top political leadership of the Justice Department to cover up the predatory activities of Foley and other GOP members of Congress since at least 2003 and, likely, as early as 2001.

Other informed sources in the nation's capital report that Pagegate will soon implicate a number of GOP staffers in both the House and the Senate who intimidated and pressured male pages into inappropriate sexual relationships. One source confided that the staff members' contact with pages was "more egregious" than Foley's behavior.

The Pagegate scandal also involves senior officials of the Republican National Committee, located near the House Office Buildings, according to our Capitol Hill sources.

The bottom line is that the GOP is facing its worst political scandal since Watergate and the White House, already under assault from the revelations in Bob Woodward's insider account of the Bush presidency and the Iraq war, has told GOP members of Congress that they are on their own as far as Pagegate damage control is concerned.

If any of that is even kind of true, get ready for a long, sleazy ride.

But wait, there's more from Madsen:
WMR has also learned that Foley was responsible for earmarking tens of millions of taxpayer dollars for special projects having little or nothing to with missing and exploited children to political allies under the cover of providing assistance for abused or kidnapped youngsters and teens. In addition, Foley was privy to confidential U.S. government law enforcement information on the international trafficking and exploitation of children -- information that may have been misused by Foley and other influential Republican political leaders involved in the brewing scandal.

The consensus of Washington insiders is that the Foley scandal is merely the "tip of the iceberg" and when all the facts become known there will be a political tsunami that could wash away as many as 60 to 70 incumbent Republicans in the House. There is also evidence that the scandal may soon spill over into the ranks of the Republicans in the Senate (particularly the Senate office of embattled Virginia Senator George Allen) [note: the Senate Page program is overseen by the political patronage Senate Sergeant-at-Arms office, not a member oversight board such as that which exists in the House], the White House, and the Republican National Committee.

There's lots more, but you'll have to go to the site to read it for yourself. Suffice it to say that it's bringing back conspiracy theories involving real child prostitution in high level GOP circles in Washington, and those theories are revving up again.

Okay, time to get out of the rabbit hole.

Update: Add the Miami Herald and Fox News to the media cover up list.

Update 2: Okay, conspiracy theory stuff aside, proof I'm not completely crazy on the Foley-Crist thing. From Andy Marin in Florida:
...In a bizarre twist of fate, Foleygate is now likely to focus rapier-sharp attention on Crist’s peculiar lifestyle and in particular on the absence of any significant female figure in his life ("mom" doesn't count).

Crist was briefly married decades ago. To date, his former “wife” has never been quoted or even identified. I expect Florida media will be making massive efforts to locate the former spouse and to pose the question: did you divorce Charlie after seven months of “marriage” because you discovered he was gay? What did cause the end of your seven-month marriage?

As I indicated in my earlier column on Foleygate (see or I knew Mark Foley well in the 1990’s. Mark often had female arm candy on display. Crist is peculiar in that he has not even gone to the extent of brandishing a Foley-style female companion.

In the wake of the explosive and embarrassing impact of Foley’s resignation, are Florida voters more or less likely to support another Republican with a blank slate on human relationships? The answer is obvious and apodictic.

A simple Google search reflects that Crist’s sexuality has been a matter of intense concern for both the right and left. Gay rights groups, moreover, who were burned when Foley’s sexuality embarrassingly morphed from homosexuality into pedophilia, may take preemptive action to force Crist’s hand, to avoid another “Foley surprise.”

My prediction: Crist’s “lifestyle” is about to become the focal point of the Florida gubernatorial campaign, and Crist will inevitably be asked questions about his sexuality in campaign debates between Crist and his Democratic opponent. How the issue plays out will decide whether Democrats retake the Florida governorship. Crist's “lifestyle” may fuel the “hypocrisy gap” which has emerged from Foley's anti-gay posturing at a time when he was seeking the company of underage males.
And let's recall, Florida's gay community has a good reason to go after Charlie: he was a vocal supporter of the ill-fated Florida marriage amendment try (something sure to be reracked in 2008), and he was vocally supported by our lovable wack-job preacher, homophobic, anti-Islamic, mosque-fearing Reverend O'Neal Dozier.

The questions will be asked. Charlie won't be able to avoid them.

Even more updates: the Orlando Weekly tests its Charlie gaydar:
* Running mate has a mustache: GAY

* Has high cheekbones: GAY

* Prefers tailored suits: GAY

* Has Anderson Cooper hair: GAY

* Is down with civil unions: GAY

* Dots “I”s with stars on website: GAY
Well that clears that up.


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posted by JReid @ 7:50 PM  
Blame it on the rain (or the alcohol, the pedophile priest, Jim McGreevey's New Jersey press conference and your mama)
(Note: Breaking developments on the Foley lawyer's press conference farther down the post...)

The newly alcoholic Mark Foley now turns out to have conducted Internet sex with a former page while taking a break from doing the people's business on the House floor. From ABC News/Brian Ross:
ormer Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) interrupted a vote on the floor of the House in 2003 to engage in Internet sex with a high school student who had served as a congressional page, according to new Internet instant messages provided to ABC News by former pages.

ABC News now has obtained 52 separate instant message exchanges, which former pages say were sent by Foley, using the screen name Maf54, to two different boys under the age of 18.

This message was dated April 2003, at approximately 7 p.m., according to the message time stamp.

Maf54: I miss you
Teen: ya me too
Maf54: we are still voting
Maf54: you miss me too

The exchange continues in which Foley and the teen both appear to describe having sexual orgasms.

Maf54: ok..i better go vote..did you know you would have this effect on me
Teen: lol I guessed
Teen: ya go vote…I don't want to keep you from doing our job
Maf54: can I have a good kiss goodnight
Teen: :-*

The House voted that evening on HR 1559, Emergency War Time supplemental appropriations. [Emphasis added]

According to another message, Foley also invites the teen and a friend to come to his house near Capitol Hill so they can drink alcohol.

Teen: are you going to be in town over the veterans day weekend
Maf54: I may be now that your coming
Maf54: who you coming to visit
Teen: haha good stuff
Teen: umm no one really

Maf54: we will be adjourned ny then
Teen: oh good
Maf54: by
Maf54: then we can have a few drinks
Maf54: lol
Teen: yes yes ;-)
Maf54: your not old enough to drink
Teen: shhh…
Maf54: ok
Teen: that's not what my ID says
Teen: lol
Maf54: ok
Teen: I probably shouldn't be telling you that huh
Maf54: we may need to drink at my house so we don't get busted
I suppose he was drunk at that time, too? ... with no one around him able to tell...? Read transcripts of the newest email mother lode here if you can stand it.

Update (6:06): Foley's got a brand new defense...

Disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley now claims he was molested by a clergyman between the ages of 13 and 15. Foley, a Catholic, has gone to the well with the drunk defense, and now he is pulling out all the stops, throwing in clergy sex abuse and even trying the McGreevey gambit:

"Mark also wants you to know that he is a gay man," his lawyer, David Roth, just announced at his "bombshell" press conference (curiously timed just hours after the latest ABC news find ... 52 new nasty messages and counting...) Can a book tour and a stint on Oprah be far behind?

Giveth me a break...

Roth also vigorously denies that Foley is a pedophile (that I can agree with. He's more of a dirty gay old man who's into turning out teenaged boys.)

He says "categorically, Mark Foley denies ever having sexual contact with a minor."

The lawyer claims to be unfamiliar with the charge that Foley invited teenaged pages to his house...

Transcript of the presser to come.

Update 2: Throw Denny from the train...
House political climber John Boehner cuts bait, and throws Speaker Hastert under the bus, and then tries to pull the body out from under the wheels so it can be identified before Boehner walks over it to get himself into the speaker's chair...
Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- House Majority Leader John Boehner said Speaker Dennis Hastert was responsible for how the case of Mark Foley's inappropriate e-mails to pages was handled, while saying he disagreed with calls for Hastert to step down.

``I believe I had talked to the speaker and he told me it had been taken care of,'' Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told Cincinnati 700 WLW Radio this morning. ``It's in his corner, it's his responsibility.''

The Congressional Page Board and others overseeing the program, ``all report to the speaker,'' Boehner told the station.

Separately, Boehner wrote a letter to the Washington Times saying he disagreed with the newspaper's call for Hastert's resignation. ``Had Speaker Hastert or anyone else in our leadership known about Mr. Foley's despicable conduct, I'm confident the speaker would have moved to expel Mr. Foley immediately,'' Boehner wrote to the paper.

Hastert said today that he has no intention of leaving the House's top post, which he has held since 1999, and defended his office's response.
And Denny didn't even feel the knife going in...

Update 3:Here's the first dispatch on the Foley lawyer's presser, courtesy of the Palm Beach Post.
The rub: Foley was an altar boy at the same Catholic Church in Lake Worth, Florida where two priests are accused of stealing millions of dollars to pad a lavish lifestyle.

I continue to wonder out loud, as politically incorrect as it is, whether the Dems take the dark road and tag Foley and his newly declared sexual orientation, to single, super-tan, metrosexual Charlie Crist, who's currently in the lead for governor.

Update: TPMM has the presser video

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posted by JReid @ 6:07 PM  
Reynolds squirms
From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (ht to ThinkProgress):
Flanked by about 30 children of supporters and as many parents, Reynolds defended his actions at a news conference late Monday in Amherst.

The congressman said that like anyone who hears a complaint about a co-worker, he alerted his supervisor, in this case Hastert.

"I don't think I went wrong at all," said Reynolds. "I don't know what else I could have done. What's a good citizen to do?" ...

...When a reporter suggested to Reynolds that the children step outside in order to have a frank discussion of the sexually charged case, Reynolds declined.
Oh and there's this:
Congressional Quarterly, a nonpartisan newsletter that rates political campaigns, reclassified Reynolds' race from "safe Republican" to "leans Republican" on Monday as Democrats accused the congressman from Clarence, Erie County, of not doing enough after he learned about some of the less explicit e-mails last spring.

The change means that Reynolds — powerful chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee — has gone from "a shoo-in" for re-election to a "likely" winner who could still be vulnerable to an upset victory by Democratic businessman Jack Davis, the newsletter said.

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posted by JReid @ 9:53 AM  
Pray for Oaxaca
I have great memories of Oaxaca, Mexico, where my mom took my sister, my brother and I when I was about 12 years old. We spent a summer there, while my mother helped research a book with a colleague at the University of Northern Colorado, an anthropologist who was writing a book about disparities between the lives of Spanish descendants and the "Mestizos" and Indian descended Oaxacans who lived, impoverished, on the hillside or "Colonias" of the southernmost Mexican state. (My mom was a nutritionist and was contributing to the book's focus on nutrition and diet habits.) I can still remember being chased by a scorpion inside the palacial estate of a woman named Marielena, who owned an entire block in the city, buying fresh baked bread early in the morning at a local shop out of a bin (you really had to fight those old mamitas to grab it before they pushed you onto the floor), and eating the best tortillas and black beans I've ever tasted at a humble home in the Colonias. ... Not to mention the "lolipop heads" as my siblings and I called them -- dancers in huge, colorful headdresses at a local festival, where, by the way, pick pockets stole my baby brother's watch and slit my mother's purse to steal her wallet ... but there you go.

So now, to see Oaxaca racked by violence and turmoil is painful, to say the least. Oaxaca's problems appear to stem from political rancor and by organized crime.

Mark in Mexico, a very talented conservative blogger who is American, but who lives in Oaxaca, is following the story. He explains the organized crime problem here, the turmoil in Oaxaca here, and the political situation here.

posted by JReid @ 9:32 AM  
Corruption in the Republican court
Voters would be forgiven in November if they choose to dismiss the Republican Party as a debauched Roman court racked with greed, lies, thievery and illicit sexual behavior, corruption emanating from every pore and an arrogance of power that has totally disconnected them from their fundamental Constitutional role. But there's a lesson here for Democrats as well: be careful what you wish for. If Dems regain power in November, they would be well counseled not to abuse it.

Related: WaPo says "the redder they are, the harder they fall."

CultureKitchen: "Men gone wild" on Capitol Hill

Meanwhile, Mark Foley plays the drunk card.

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posted by JReid @ 8:16 AM  
Paging Chris Cillizza
The WaPo's political blogger adds the Foley seat to his great List of hot Congressional races. The Foley seat comes it at number 3 with just 35 days to go before E-day.

Tags: , , Democrats, Bush, Republicans, News, Government, Congress, 2006
posted by JReid @ 8:08 AM  
The president's ongoing delusions of regime change
Arnaud de Borchgrave writes for the Moonies about the dark speculation over President Bush's designs on Iran:
If and when Bush 'Iraqs' Iran

... Sam Gardiner, 67, has taught strategy at the National War College, Air War College and Naval War College. The retired Air Force colonel recently published as a Century Foundation Report "The End of the 'Summer of Diplomacy': Assessing the U.S. Military Option on Iran."

President Bush and his national security council believe seven "key truths" that eliminate all but the military option, according to Mr. Gardiner, who adds his own comments:

(1) Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction -- "that is most likely true."
(2) Iran is ignoring the international community -- "true."
(3) Iran supports Hezbollah and terrorism -- "true."
(4) Iran is increasingly inserting itself in Iraq and beginning to get involved in Afghanistan -- "true."
(5) The people of Iran want a regime change -- "most likely an exaggeration."
(6) Sanctions won't work -- "most likely true."
(7) You cannot negotiate with these people -- "not proven."

Mr. Gardiner says when Bush "Iraqs" Iran, air strikes will not be limited to the country's widely scattered nuclear facilities, but will also include military air bases (some of them only 15 minutes flying time from Baghdad); air defense command and control; terrorist training camps; chemical facilities, medium-range ballistic missiles; Gulf-threatening assets; submarines; anti-ship missiles, naval ships, including small, fast minelayers. He reckons "an attack of relatively high certainty on nuclear targets would require 400 aim points... 75 of these would require penetrating weapons." Air target planners believe this can be done after five nights of bombing.
All standard stuff. But then there's this:
Vice President Dick Cheney's is convinced "if there is even a 1 percent chance of a country passing WMD to a terrorist, the U.S. must act," Mr. Gardiner writes, which means, "The Bush administration finds itself obliged to reject nonmilitary options." Israeli pressure on Mr. Bush to act before he leaves the White House is also part of the equation, he argues. But the president has a larger agenda than simply retarding Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Iran's interference in Iraq is a major source of concern. It continues to supply weapons, funding and training to insurgents as well as militia armies in Iraq. Those who advocate attacking Iran say this justifies U.S. retaliation. But Israel and the Bush administration agree they cannot allow Iran to acquire the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon and that Iran is near "the point of no return."

"The case against [Iran's] regime is so forceful, and so multifaceted," Mr. Gardiner points out, "that it becomes clear the goal is not simply to do away with the regime's enrichment program... but to do away with the regime itself." ...

President Bush, writes Mr. Gardiner, sees himself like Winston Churchill standing against the appeasers, "believes the world will only appreciate him after he leaves office, talks about the Middle East in messianic terms, and is said to have told those close to him that he has got to attack Iran because even if a Republican succeeds him... he will not have the same freedom of action that Bush enjoys."
That's truly scary, because it reinforces the notion of an American president so disconnected from reality that he really needs to be medicated, not enabled. And there's this:
Mr. Gardiner reminds us air planners almost always fall short of promises -- e.g., World War II, Korea, Vietnam and more recently Israeli air attacks on Hezbollah. "No serious expert on Iran believes the argument about enabling a regime change," he says, and "it is far more likely such strikes would strengthen the clerical leadership and turn the U.S. into Iran's permanent enemy." Which is what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prays for five times a day.
My question is, precisely what is President Bush praying for?

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posted by JReid @ 7:46 AM  
The sound of shoes dropping
Lie: "No one knew that Mark Foley had an issue with pages..."
Truth: warnings about Foley go back, among pages and in the halls of Congress, at least five years. Oh, and apparently, the FBI knew about him too, as early as July 21, when the emails were turned over to them by CREW.

Lie: "Mark Foley was an aberration on the Hill."
Truth: He may be an aberration, or he may be one of several dirty old men pimping the page system in Washington D.C.

Lie: "No politics were played with the Foley case."
Truth: The GOP treated the Foley "problem" as a political issue, failing to inform the Democrat on the Page Board for fear of exposure, and if Dennis Hastert is to be believed, Tom Reynolds saw it as more of a potential campaign issue than a moral one.

Lie: Bay Buchanan is a partisan hack.
Truth: Like her brother Pat, Bay can keep it real when she's ready.

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posted by JReid @ 7:18 AM  
The Washington Times joins the parade
Their editorial today: Resign, Mr. Speaker:
The facts of the disgrace of Mark Foley, who was a Republican member of the House from a Florida district until he resigned last week, constitute a disgrace for every Republican member of Congress. Red flags emerged in late 2005, perhaps even earlier, in suggestive and wholly inappropriate e-mail messages to underage congressional pages. His aberrant, predatory -- and possibly criminal -- behavior was an open secret among the pages who were his prey. The evidence was strong enough long enough ago that the speaker should have relieved Mr. Foley of his committee responsibilities contingent on a full investigation to learn what had taken place, whether any laws had been violated and what action, up to and including prosecution, were warranted by the facts. This never happened. ...

...When predators are found they must be dealt with, forcefully and swiftly. This time the offender is a Republican, and Republicans can't simply "get ahead" of the scandal by competing to make the most noise in calls for a full investigation. The time for that is long past.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once. Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week's revelations -- or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away. He gave phony answers Friday to the old and ever-relevant questions of what did he know and when did he know it? Mr. Hastert has forfeited the confidence of the public and his party, and he cannot preside over the necessary coming investigation, an investigation that must examine his own inept performance.
...and then they mess it up:
A special, one-day congressional session should elect a successor. We nominate Rep. Henry Hyde, also of Illinois, the chairman of the House International Relations Committee whose approaching retirement ensures that he has no dog in this fight. He has a long and principled career, and is respected on both sides of the aisle. Mr. Hyde would preside over the remaining three months of the 109th Congress in a manner best suited for a full and exhaustive investigation until a new speaker for the 110th Congress is elected in January, who can assume responsibility for the investigation.
Henry Hyde??? You mean the Henry Hyde who broke up a Florida man's marriage by sleeping with the man's wife when he was "young and irresponsible"? The Henry "the hypocrite" Hyde who messed around on his wife for seven years, and was then forced to admit to his "youthful indiscretion" after vigorously seeking the impeachment of President Clinton over a consensual affair? THAT Henry Hyde??? Wow.


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posted by JReid @ 6:15 AM  
Monday, October 02, 2006
To catch a predator
While ABC News' Brian Ross is getting all the pub, the credit for exposing sicko Mark Foley's Congressional sexploits appears to go to a blogger, who posts to a site called StopSexPredators. The blog, which has been active just since July, posted screen grabs of the Foley emails on September 24th, following an initial posting of what seems to be emails to his (or her) blog from one or perhaps two former Congressional pages on September 21st. The emails were dated about two weeks earlier. Some of the content:
From: congress intern
Signed-By: Mailed-By:
Date: Sep 12, 2006 12:34 PM

I saw your article’s about Congressional sex scandals with interns. Let me share what happened to me.I was near the end of my internship for Congressman Foley’s office he asked me for my email. I was not sure why he wanted but I gave it to him anyway. A few days later I got an email from him in the middle of the night asking me for pictures. I sent him a few pictures of me and other interns at work. A few days later he emailed me asking for more pictures of me but not from work. He was looking for personal pictures of me. I ignored the email he started emailing me telling me that he was going to be visiting my area. H e said he wanted to get together with me. he wanted me to come up to his hotel romm. I think that he was looking to have sex with me. After\n that email I block him from my email address
[emphases mine]

Then there was this:
From: hill boy
Signed-By: Mailed-By:
Date: Sep 17, 2006 7:55 PM
Subject: Outraged by skinterns?
Reply Reply to all Forward Print Add sender to Contacts list Delete this message Report phishing Show original Message text garbled?

After reading your post on skinterns I wanted to fill you in on what really goes on in the halls of Congress.
I used to be a House LA on the Hill working.
When I was working up there, folks use to refer to the Terrible Three – Barney Frank, Mark Foley, and Jim Kolbe.
Everyone knows about Barney Frank’s exploits…living with a man who ran a gay prostitute ring out of Frank’s house…and how he how used to hit on men much younger than him.
And Jim Kolbe…everyone who works on the Hill has heard rumors about Kolbe. One of my friends even told me that Kolbe hit on him on several occasions.
Despite all the stories, Frank and Kolbe are well respected because when they got caught, they admitted that they were gay.
That and neither Frank nor Kolbe have anything on Foley.
People were always talking about seeing Foley lurking in locker rooms around DC looking for sex, how he especially likes teenage boys, and frequents gay bars around D.C. and in his district.

And then there's this one:
From: repub intern
Date: Sep 18, 2006 2:07 PM

My dad who gives a lot of money to republicans got me an internship capitolhill. I thought that I was hot shit, having such a good internship after myfreshman year of college.After a few weeks, I was finally learning my way around DC and I wasenjoying my job.One night, I decided to go out with my new fake ID to my first gay bar.I went to this bar named Coblot.There was old guy who would not leave me alone. He kept following me around.I tried to get him to leave me alone by going to the bathroom.Instead he followed me in and tried to grope me.A few days later my boss had me run something over to another congressmansoffice. It turned out that the guy who groped me was Representative MarkFoley.
Now, there's no way to confirm the authenticity of any of these emails, although the second one sounds a lot like the young Louisiana boy who is the subject of the first set of emails distributed by ABC and StopSexPredators. If the other two emails are authentic, it seems astounding to think that the Republican leadership -- and people on the Hill more generally -- hadn't heard about Foley's lewd behavior around town. Otherwise, when members of leadership reportedly "told him to stop," the obvious question would be, "stop what?"


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posted by JReid @ 6:29 PM  
Enemy of the state
Florida's Department of Law Enforcement gets into the investigative act.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has begun an inquiry into whether former congressman Mark Foley's sexually explicit Internet exchanges with congressional pages violated state law, an agency spokesman said Monday.

"We're trying to determine with some certainty whether a violation of Florida law may have occurred," FDLE spokesman Tom Berlinger said.

A key component of the probe will be to determine whether any of the emails or Instant Messenger exchanges occurred in Florida, he said.

"It seems apparent that some of the questionable activities may have occurred in Washington," Berlinger said. ...

The Florida Attorney General's office has offered to assist in the state investigation.

Berlinger said in Foley's case the FDLE had begun a "preliminary inquiry," an investigative designation used when FDLE is targeting public officials. He said calling it a "preliminary inquiry" spares public officials the humiliation of being labeled as "under criminal investigation," something that he said is "unfair to them in many instances."

But Berlinger was unable to explain any substantive difference between a "preliminary inquiry" and the early stages of a traditional criminal investigation.

"It's not a criminal investigation yet," he said. "It's a precursor to a possible investigation."
Potato ... po-tah-to...

Meanwhile, at least one page comes forward to contradict a chubby, media-attention grabbing colleague, and the GOP finds a replacement (yes, it's Negron).


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posted by JReid @ 5:57 PM  
A river in Egypt
Condi denies she got that 9/11 warning... whatever, girlfriend.

Update: Ms. Rice is proved a liar again, as the State Department admits that the meeting with Tenet and Copher Black did in fact take place.

Tags: Bush, Iraq, Politics, Bush, War, News, 9-11,
posted by JReid @ 5:49 PM  
What FoleyGate means
I don't buy into the meme that the Mark Foley controversy is proof that the Republican Party is a massive Washington pedophile cult, as some on the Internet have decided. But I do think that the non-response of the House leadership, from John Boehner to John Shimkus to Tom Reynolds (who chaired the Page Board) to Dennis Hastert, over the last eleven months that they knew they had a wierdo with an unnatural interest in Congressional pages in their midst, is telling.

What it tells me is that the Republican Party in Washington has become so fattened and bloated with uncontested power (not that they actually use it to, say, check the power of the president) and with lobbyist largesse and financial bloat, that they have completely lost touch with reality. The almost surreal corruption of this party, after a relatively short experience with absolute power, is stunning, and proves all the old axioms containing the word "absolute." (If Bush is like a mad Nero fiddling away while Iraq burns, these guys are like a debauched Roman court, reveling in mutton and whores and blowing the treasury on lavish feasts while the country sinks.) It's a sad commentary on the current state of politics that the Republicans in Washington are so fixated on bloating themselves with lobbyist cash, war profiteering contract gimmes for themselves and their families and the base accountrements of power (even while they give the only meaningful power -- the power of oversight -- away) that they lost the ability to even think like human beings, or like parents. Instead, they chose to think like the Catholic Church hierarchy did when faced with pedophile priests. They ignored the evidence of, as Bay Buchanan just said on The Situation Room (as she tore into the Republican leadership, not even pretending to debate Paul Begala on a single point), a known homosexual man paying undue attention to male pages -- all of whom are teenagers, all of whom are placed in the care of the Congress by their parents ("in loco parentis," as Chris Matthews likes to say) -- and covered up his behavior rather than taking action, just to make sure his seat remained safe, just so that they could continue to rake in the pork.


The Family Research Council says this proves you can't mainstream the gays...

The conservative call for Hastert's head begins (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan). ... and then it continues (ht to Sullivan again). To quote David Bossie of the right wing group Citizens United:
“If Speaker Hastert was willing to sacrifice a child to protect Rep. Foley’s seat and his own leadership position, then he surely does not share our American and conservative values.”

Meanwhile, Americablog has more snowballs to add to the avalanche:
[George Stephanopoulos On Good Morning America today.
Right now it's a category 3 hurricane and it's picking up steam. Republicans all across the country are getting questions about it. But here's the key question: Did any Republican leaders know about those x-rated emails? If they did, it's game over. The leadership will have to resign. It will cost Republicans control of Congress. As one top GOP aide told me this morning, 'the place will burn down.'

And while they're not talking about this specific issue, the Wall Street Journal's editorial slam on the GOP is right on target:
...too many Republicans now believe their purpose in Washington is keeping power for its own sake. The reform impulse that won the House in 1994 has given way to incumbent protection.


Enter The Corner:
If House Republican leaders really did avert their gaze from a problem they knew about, however, Foley could become the new Jack Abramoff. Except that whereas the details of Abramoff’s were always a bit complicated for the public to follow closely, the accusations now leveled at Foley are much simpler and more appalling. Foley is on the verge of becoming the poster child of a party that is concerned about little more than preserving its power. This could very well cost Republicans more than Florida's 16th congressional district, which at this point they probably deserve to lose even if they somehow manage to replace Foley on the ballot or come up with another candidate; it might be the Democrats’ October surprise.
And then again, somebody at NRO had to toe the GOP party line, so it might as well be this guy. A bit sad, I'd say.

But not as sad as the Wizbangers, who never miss an opportunity to pimp the party line (psst! Lorie! The inability to see unambiguous wrong, even when it involves predation and children, is rather amoral, doncha think? If politics and partisanship is really more important to you than the plain, lurid facts in this case and the safety of these kids on Capitol Hill, then you really should run for office. You'd make one hell of a GOP congresswoman.) By the way, for the winger wack-jobs in the bleachers, the IMs were provided to ABC News' Brian Ross on Friday, by between two and five former pages, after he broke the FoleyGate story nationally. Before that, the group Citizens for Responsibility in Government had filed a complaint after getting a tip from blogger StopSexPredators, who posted the emails on September 24th, following an initial posting on September 21st. Not sure he's part of the liberal hit team...)

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posted by JReid @ 5:02 PM  
Foley rides the lightning
You can't have thought that a sitting Congressman would resign over some benign emails, would you? Not unless he knew that something really big, really bad, was coming. Well, believe it or not, what you've heard about Mark Foley so far is not the worst. This, however, might be. Accoridng to the on fire Brian Ross at ABC, Foley's similarity to the nut-jobs who show up naked in random kitchens on MSNBC Investigates' "To Catch a Predator" don't end with nasty Internet chats:
In addition to explicit sexual language, former Congressman Mark Foley's Internet messages also include repeated efforts to get the underage recipient to rendezvous with him at night.

"I would drive a few miles for a hot stud like you," Foley said in one message obtained by ABC News.

The FBI says it has opened a "preliminary investigation" of Foley's e-mails. Federal law enforcement officials say attempts by Foley to meet in person could constitute the necessary evidence for a federal charge of "soliciting for sex" with a minor on the Internet.

In another message, Foley, using the screen name Maf54, appears to describe having been together with the teen in San Diego.

Maf54: I miss you lots since san diego.
Teen: ya I cant wait til dc
Maf54: :)
Teen: did you pick a night for dinner
Maf54: not yet…but likely Friday
Teen: ok…ill plan for Friday then
Maf54: that will be fun

The messages also show the teen is, at times, uncomfortable with Foley's aggressive approach.

Maf54: I want to see you
Teen: Like I said not til feb…then we will go to dinner
Maf54: and then what happens
Teen: we eat…we drink…who knows…hang out…late into the night
Maf54: and
Teen: I dunno
Maf54: dunno what
Teen: hmmm I have the feeling that you are fishing here…im not sure what I would be comfortable with…well see

Foley resigned Friday after ABC News questioned him about the Internet messages.

Mark Foley, to put it the way Maf54 might say it: dude, you're goin' to jail.

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posted by JReid @ 2:38 PM  
Throw Foley from the train
House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Page Board Chair Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois just held a press conference at which Hastert declared that "Mark Foley fooled a lot of people ... he fooled me." Shimkus and Hastert portrayed Foley as someone who tricked the leadership, who they want you to believe knew nothing of his conduct or his predlicition toward young men.

And yet, today, you have people coming out of the woodwork saying that Foley's sexual orientation was "no secret" (that moments ago on MSNBC by a GOP strategiest), and saying that warnings to "watch out for Foley" were rather well known on Capitol Hill. Hastert and Shimkus are doing their damndest to get out in front of the Foley freight train, but distancing themselves from him now is hardly convincing, given the fact that they've had eleven months to look into whether his constant emailing of former pages was appropriate, particularly once at least one former page -- still a teenager -- came forward to report that he was made uncomfortable by Foley's attentions.

From MSNBC: Denny Hastert: the Outraged and Disgusted tour.

Meanwhile, GOP candidates around the country, including Mr. Macaca himself, George Allen of Virginia, are scrambling to dump Foley campaign cash.

And Foley's Congressional web-site has been quickly and unceremoniously erased from history.

Who's on first?

Just to recap for those of you keeping score, let's review, courtesy of SourceWatch, just who may be in public relations jeopardy because of the dirty Congressman from Florida:
Following the resignation, it became apparent that many GOP leaders in Congress had been aware of the email correspondence between Foley and the young page as early as the fall of 2005. Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), who sponsored the sixteen-year-old page, stated that he first learned of the online exchanges from a reporter late in 2005. At that point, he contacted Hastert's office regarding the matter. After discussing the situation with Hastert’s deputy chief of staff and counsel, he was told to notify the Clerk of the House. When the clerk asked to see the text of the email, Alexander declined, citing that, “his (the page) parents said they didn’t want me to do anything.” [9] [10]

Page Committee Chairman John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said that in late 2005, information was passed along to him by the clerk’s office regarding the email exchange. Shimkus advised Foley to immediately stop contacting the boy, and Foley agreed. Shimkus never informed Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), the lone Democrat on the Page Committee, about the situation. Kildee, who has served on the page committee for twenty years, was not alone in his exclusion. No House Democrat, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was notified. [11] [12]

In the spring of 2006, Alexander notified Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee regarding the matter. Reynolds claims to have then informed Hastert that the matter was investigated by both the clerk and Shimkus. Hastert, however, had originally claimed that he had no knowledge of the emails until the week of Foley’s resignation. When confronted with the contradiction, Hastert did not deny that the conversation took place, but rather that he did not recall it. According to the Washington Post, “Republican insiders said Reynolds spoke out because he was angry that Hastert appeared willing to let him take the blame for the party leadership's silence.” [13]

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told the Washington Post the night of the resignation that he had first learned of the inappropriate contact between Foley and the page in the spring of 2006, and that he then contacted Hastert concerning the matter. Oddly, Boehner then contacted the Post to state that he could not remember whether or not he had spoken with Hastert. [14]

While many GOP leaders claimed that Foley’s actions came as a surprise to them, apparently it had been going on for several years. Following the resignation, a former page publicly said that a Republican staff member warned him and other pages five years ago of Foley and his odd behavior. [15]

Democrats sharply criticized GOP leaders for failing to properly address the matter sooner and involve them in the process. Doing so, some argued, may have led to an inquiry which would have uncovered the more sexually-explicit instant messages which apparently were never known by House leadership. This negligence, to many, was augmented by the fact that Foley was permitted to remain as co-chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. Democrats were joined in their criticism by some Republicans. Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) stated that any member of the GOP leadership who knew of the emails and took no action should resign. [16] [17]

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posted by JReid @ 2:16 PM  
Who wants to be a Foleynaire?
The Sarasota Tribune breaks down the dillemma for the Florida GOP, including the fact that there are now three -- not just one -- Republican seats in play:
Nathan Gonzales, of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, said it is a potential unexpected easy pickup for Democrats desperate to reassert their role in national politics.

"Foley was a strong incumbent with plenty of money," Gonzales said. "It was a long shot for Democrats."

But his resignation amid questions about explicit messages he exchanged with a teenage boy over the Internet has changed everything, Gonzales said.

Now, Highlands County Democrat Tim Mahoney becomes the favorite in the race because Republicans cannot replace Foley's name on the ballot.

"The ramifications of this could change the entire country," said Charlotte County Republican Party Chairman Bob Starr.

If Democrats win control of the House by one seat and Mahoney's seat is among those that turn Democrat, it will be hard to accept, Starr said.

It is not the only race that has changed the viewpoint of national political watchers.

The battle to replace U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key, in the 13th Congressional District had already emerged as an unexpected hot race. In that contest, Republican Vern Buchanan is trying to overcome a bruising primary and defeat Democrat Christine Jennings, a retired Sarasota banker.

Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district, which includes all of Sarasota and most of Manatee County. But Jennings had pushed ahead of Buchanan in some early polling, suggesting Buchanan may have been hurt by a barrage of negative attacks from his primary election foes.

The other top-notch race is in Fort Lauderdale, where Democrat Ron Klein is challenging incumbent Rep. E. Clay Shaw, a Republican.

Although the district is in Republican hands, voters there favored Democrats John Kerry and Al Gore in each of the last two presidential elections. ...

... Starr said Republicans will have to convince people to vote for the disgraced Foley with the idea that the vote will count toward a candidate not on the ballot.

"It's going to be very difficult to do," Starr said.

Although state party officials are leaning toward naming state Rep. Joe Negron as the replacement candidate, Starr said he would lobby for state Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda.

Regardless of who the replacement is, Sabato said the party will have a hard time convincing people to vote for Foley to keep the seat in Republicans hands.

"I'd say it's near impossible," [Larry] Sabato said. "Who's going to want to do that?"
We'll see...

Tags: , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 9:39 AM  
Rehab: The last refuge of scoundrels
Disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley plays the rehab card, as he lunges for sympathy in the wake of his scandalized emails and IMs to up to five former Congressional pages. I just confirmed the authenticity of this Drudge find, with WPBF, the ABC affiliate in West Palm Beach, Fla:

October 1, 2006

Painfully, the events that led to my resignation have crystalized recognition of my longstanding significant alcohol and emotional difficulties.

I strongly believe that I am an alcoholic and have accepted the need for immediate treatment for alcoholism and related behavioral problems.

On Saturday, with the loving support of my family and friends, I made arrangements to enter a renowned in-patient facility to address my disease and related issues.

I deeply regret and accept full responsibility for the harm I have caused.

Over the weekend, I communicated extensively with one of the most respected mental health experts in Palm Beach County, Florida, who has been instrumental in counseling and assisting me.

Attorney David Roth, my good friend of four decades has been requested by me to fully and completely cooperate regarding any inquiries that may arise during my treatment.

Words cannot express my gratitude for the prayers and words of encouragement that have been conveyed to me.


Mark A. Foley
As with Drudge, the desk confirmed to me a few minutes ago that a reporter went to Roth's house where a woman assumed to be his wife confirmed that such a fax had been sent.

Meanwhile, the FBI has opened a preliminary investigation into Foley's contact, to determine whether he has broken any laws (including any he helped write...) Brian Ross at ABC News has been doing yeoman's work on this case, but let's get a look at the politics, and the mad scramble by GOP leadership in the House to put a lid on the metastasizing controversy, from the Washington Post:

The FBI announced last night that it is looking into whether former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) broke federal law by sending inappropriate e-mails and instant messages to teenage House pages.

The announcement came hours after House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert asked for a Justice Department investigation into not only Foley's actions but also Congress's handling of the matter once it learned of the contacts.

In his letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Hastert (R-Ill.) acknowledged that some of Foley's most sexually explicit instant messages were sent to former House pages in 2003. That was two years before lawmakers say they learned of a more ambiguous 2005 e-mail that led only to a quiet warning to Foley to leave pages alone.

Foley, 52, abruptly resigned Friday, and Democrats have since been hammering Hastert and other GOP leaders. They have accused Republicans of covering up the matter and allowing Foley to remain as co-chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus instead of launching an inquiry and possibly uncovering the raunchier communications.

As the scandal broke, Hastert contended he learned of concerns about Foley only last week. But after Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.) said Saturday that he had notified Hastert months ago of Foley's e-mails to a 16-year-old boy, the speaker did not dispute his colleague, and Hastert's office acknowledged that some aides knew last year that Foley had been ordered to cease contact with the youth.

Republican leaders continued to insist yesterday that it was understandable that the "over-friendly" Internet e-mails they had seen did not set off alarm bells. But one House GOP leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, conceded that Republicans had erred in not notifying the three-member, bipartisan panel that oversees the page system. Instead, they left it to the panel chairman, Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.), to confront Foley.

Also yesterday, a former House page said that at a 2003 page reunion, he saw sexually suggestive e-mails Foley had sent to another former page. Patrick McDonald, 21, now a senior at Ohio State University, said he eventually learned of "three or four" pages from his 2001-2002 class who were sent such messages.

He said he remembered saying at the reunion, "If this gets out, it will destroy him."

House officials have already removed Foley's nameplate from his Cannon Office Building door and shut down his House Web site, while in Florida, GOP leaders prepared to meet at an Orlando airport hotel today to select a replacement candidate for the November election.

Foley has said nothing since announcing his resignation. Yesterday, a statement purportedly sent by Foley to news organizations, including The Washington Post, said he has entered an alcohol-treatment facility in Florida. The Post could not confirm the statement's authenticity, and none of Foley's former aides has responded to messages since his resignation.

In his letter to Gonzales, Hastert said Foley's electronic messages crossed state lines, so "there should be a complete investigation and prosecution of any federal laws that have been violated."

FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko declined to elaborate on his announcement of the agency's investigation of Foley. A law enforcement official who requested anonymity so he could discuss an ongoing case said the probe will be handled by the FBI's Cyber Division, and could involve agents from the Washington or Miami field offices.

Hastert also wrote that, because some of the more sexually explicit instant messages were written in 2003, "there should be an investigation into the extent there are persons who knew or had possession of these messages but did not report them to the appropriate authorities."
...yeah, Hastert, like YOU for instance!!!

Former page Matthew Loraditch said yesterday that he has known for years about the "creepy" messages three 2002 classmates received from Foley. He said Foley sent them after the boys had finished the House program. Each began innocuously but took a turn in tone, said Loraditch, a senior at Towson University.

"They became explicit and similar to what we are seeing on the Web sites right now," said Loraditch, 21, who runs the U.S. House Page Alumni Association's Internet message board. Those who received them "didn't do anything beside telling other pages about it."

Foley was known as an exceedingly friendly House member to young pages, most of whom are 16- and 17-year-old high school juniors who come to Washington for an intensive, year-long civics lesson. Unlike most House members, he memorized their names and talked politics with them during lulls in late-night sessions. Foley was the only House member to attend the Class of 2002's graduation, according to McDonald, and he wore a tuxedo.

McDonald and Loraditch said they received no improper messages from Foley. Loraditch said he had viewed several "cut-and-paste excerpts" of messages Foley sent to one of the three. "Some went along with it, others cut it off," Loraditch said. "I'm pretty sure none met with him."

None of the three former pages is yet willing to step forward, according to McDonald and Loraditch.

Loraditch said no one wanted to report Foley for fear of damaging his job prospects.

"That's part of your concern about coming forward," Loraditch said. "You take down a Congress member, and you can't end up trying to do something later."
And as for the meandering, then headlong, GOP rush for "investigation:"

On yesterday morning's "This Week" on ABC, White House counselor Dan Bartlett defended the House GOP leadership directing the investigation into how the scandal was handled.

"The leadership appear to be very aggressive in pursuing this investigation, and I think that's the best place is for the leadership to determine the way forward," Bartlett said.

But by midday, on CNN's "Late Edition," Bartlett had joined calls by Democrats and some Republicans for a criminal investigation of the matter. "If you take the allegations at face value, I think there would have to be at least a preliminary look to see if there's any breaking of criminal law," he said.

Hours later, Hastert called for the Justice Department investigation.

The changes in course were in keeping with a Republican plan to stay ahead of Democratic attacks and to show a willingness to let impartial investigators pursue the matter. On Friday night, when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took the House floor to demand an investigation by the ethics committee, GOP leaders quickly agreed and the motion passed unanimously.
Apparently, though, Newt Gingrich didn't get the memo, and Sunday he was still insisting that nothing could have been done ... wait for it ... because it would have looked like Republican "gay bashing." This for a Congressman who wasn't acknowledging to anyone publicly that he was gay... Witness Chris Wallace's attempt to appear as vigorous a questioner of Gingrich as he was on Clinton -- it's just adorable:

WALLACE: Speaker Gingrich, did House Republican leaders do all they should have?
GINGRICH: Well, I think if you look at what they actually knew, which was that the family did not want anyone involved, and the actual notes were relatively innocuous, there was nothing sexual in those notes. They had him counseled. They had the head of the page program, Congressman Shimkus, talk to him very directly. And I think they thought it was over. The newest incident only surfaced when ABC News interviewed Foley and he resigned within two hours, or I think the House leaders would have moved to expel him.

WALLACE: But, during all those months, they left Foley in the House Republican leadership. They left him as the head of the congressional caucus dealing with exploited children. No second thoughts about that?

GINGRICH: Well, you could have second thoughts about it, but I think had they overly aggressively reacted to the initial round, they would have also been accused of gay bashing. I mean, the original notes had no sexual innuendo and the parents did not want any action taken.

WALLACE: Well, how would it have been gay bashing?

GINGRICH: Because it was a male-male relationship. And it had no — there was no proof, there was nothing that I know of in that initial round that would have led you to say in a normal circumstance that this is a predatory person.
Well there you go.

And from TPM Muck, word is that Foley had a pattern: he'd wait for a cute page to complete the program before he started hitting on them online:

Matthew Loraditch, who now heads up the alumni association for former congressional pages, said that three of his fellow pages were contacted by Foley only after they'd gone home for the summer.

That made any recourse for his friends much less clear. While in the program, pages had been advised that if they felt they were being sexually harrassed, "you should go talk to someone you feel comfortable with," Loraditch said. Since his friends were at home and they didn't feel threatened by Foley's emails, Loraditch said, they didn't report them.

This seems to have been a pattern for Foley. The 2005 emails from Foley to a page that ABC News revealed on Thursday were also sent just after the close of the page program. In that case, however, the former page alerted a congressional staffer about the emails.

Loraditch's friends began receiving messages in July, 2002, he said. "The first few were kind of normal," he said, similar to the emails reported on Thursday. The program had ended in the first week of June, and Foley had given his email address to a number of pages then.

Eventually, he said, the messages became more sexual. Loraditch couldn't remember specifics, since he hadn't seen the messages since 2002, but said, "I remember them being quite sexual and explicit." He said that his friends, who'd shared the emails with him then, did not wish to speak about their experience, but did say that he'd spoken to two of them about their correspondence with Foley since Thursday.

Loraditch said that his three friends were the only other pages he had direct knowledge of who'd been contacted by Foley, "but in a situation like this," he said, "where there's three, there's more."
This guys is obviously pathological. And saying he's got a thing for alcohol won't clean things up.

Update: Drudge has Hastert's letter to Alberto Gonzales.

Tags: , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 6:12 AM  
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Foley's 'a wreck' ... film at 11
From Sunday's Palm Beach Post:
Mark Foley spent decades crafting a careful public image, one that was shattered Friday with revelations of Foley's sexually explicit Internet conversations with teenage boys.

His political career in tatters, the now-former congressman went into seclusion, leaving his friends to wonder: Who is Mark Foley?

Rumors that Foley is gay have swirled around him for years. Many believe it was one of the worst-kept secrets in Florida and Washington.

In 2003, during his brief run for the U.S. Senate, he was asked about his sexual orientation. He refused to answer and has not publicly addressed the question since.

But on Friday, whether Foley was a homosexual or a heterosexual no longer seemed to matter.

His sudden resignation as a Congressman, a position he loved, came only hours after he was confronted with e-mails and AOL instant messages he had exchanged with a pair of teenage boys. ABC News since has reported that as many as five boys — all congressional pages — have come forward.

Foley left Washington on Saturday for an undisclosed location. He is said to be an emotional wreck. His older sister, Donna, who always has been by his side during his political campaigns, is with him.

Mark Foley is obviously a very troubled individual. He also must know that it doesn't end here. With as many as five teenaged boys making accusations, he is in almost certain legal jeopardy. And then there's the backlash form his party, whom he has screwed out of a seat that was supposed to be safe -- forcing the party to find another candidate, contest his seat with his name still on the ballot, and spend national campaign money that hadn't been intended for Florida.

Nice going, Mark.


Tags: , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 2:38 AM  
'Fall on your damn sword and kill yourself, and I'll be happy, too.'
The WaPo has a fascinating, long account of Colin Powell's constant humiliation by the Bush team, including a lengthy recounting of Powell's lowest moment in public life: his now infamous Iraq speech before the United Nations (it's a clip from an upcoming book on Powell.) The piece contains nothing new, but it's a sad and rather pathetic account of just how badly Powell allowed himself to be used by the hawks inside the administration, who were bent on war, but cared nothing for what the drive toward war would do to America's standing in the world, let alone Powell's. On the infamous U.N. presentation, the piece reads:
In addition to proving the charges against Iraq, Wilkerson believed, they had to protect Powell's integrity against those within the administration who had long been out to tarnish it. There was a widespread belief among the secretary's loyal aides -- privately shared by Powell himself, although he brushed it off as meaningless political gamesmanship in conversations with them -- that both White House political adviser Karl Rove and Cheney had actively plotted to undermine him for the past three years. Powell had laughed when he described to his aides how the vice president, after a discussion of the upcoming U.N. speech, had poked him jocularly in the chest and said, "You've got high poll ratings; you can afford to lose a few points." Cheney's idea of Powell's U.N. mission, Wilkerson thought, was to "go up there and sell it, and we'll have moved forward a peg or two. Fall on your damn sword and kill yourself, and I'll be happy, too."

What must really eat away at Mr. Powell is the fact that he, not the president, is probably the person most responsible for selling a majority of Americans on the idea of going to war with Iraq. As the article points out:
The next day, opinion polls indicated that national opinion had shifted literally overnight; most Americans surveyed said they believed an invasion was justified to protect the nation. Those closest to Powell were relieved, but worried about both him and the nation. His wife, Alma, had a sense of foreboding; her husband, she thought, was being used by the White House. Powell's daughter Linda, who had listened to the speech on the radio, had found his performance unsettling. His voice was strained, she thought, as if he were trying to inject passion into the dry words through the sheer force of his will.

Wilkerson, who had left the United Nations immediately after the speech and returned to his hotel room to fall into a deep sleep, awoke depressed. Later, when it became clear that much of the speech on which he had worked so hard was based on lies, he would come to think of that week as "the lowest moment of my life." Back in Washington, he ordered special plaques with Powell's signature made up for the State Department aides who had worked so hard to make the presentation happen.

When they were handed out, Powell asked Wilkerson why he hadn't ordered one for himself. Wilkerson replied that he didn't want one.
(The piece also points out that Powell's wife, Alma, knew right away that her husband was being used.)

And Powell still won't speak up? (Unless you believe the story that most of the Bush bashing tell-alls have relied heavily on Powell as a source).

The good soldier thing is wearing thin, Colin. If you detest these people (like Mr. Wilkerson clearly does) just say so. It might even be liberating for you.

Tags: Bush, White House, Politics, Bush, Iraq, President Bush,
posted by JReid @ 2:07 AM  
Woodward ho!
The leaks from the Woodward book (which appears to be a retraction of "Bush at War," no? I mean literally, the president has gone, in Woodward's esitmation, from Lion in Wartime to punk-ass beeyatch in under 120,000 words... the only thing consistent about the two books is Woodward's positive portrayal of George Tenet) keep coming. Here are a few good nuggests from the NYDN:

JCS Chair Peter Pace still thinks Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 ... seriously ...

Collin Powell couldn't stand Don Rumsfeld...

Dick Armitage couldn't stand smarmy Doug Feith... (I've met him. Trust me, he's smarmy...)

Laura Bush is no Nancy Reagan... she can't get her husband to do anything...

Dubya's legs shake under the table during principals meetings.

Dubya's idea of personnel management is to coach Condi to be "playful" with Rummy in order to get him to return her phonecalls. (Makes you wonder if Rice's "promotion" to Secretary of State was more about removing an ineffective national security advisor without pissing off his girlfriend, then about putting the best person in the job. And hey, what a great way to get rid of that nuisance, Colin Powell without pissing off the Black people!)

Two great exerpts from book, also from the Daily News:
Vice President Cheney also disdained diplomacy. But when he found himself on the outs after Bush was reelected in 2004, he complained to Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, "Who do they think they are? I was reelected, too."

Retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who briefly ran Iraq after dictator Saddam Hussein was ousted, said the White House "resembled a royal court" presided over by a President who was not told bad news and did not want to know what really was happening in Iraq.

Back on that punk-ass beeyatch front. You've got to peep this, also from the NYDN:
A relieved President Bush burst into tears when he was finally declared the winner over John Kerry after a long nail-biting night.
"The President put down the phone and started to cry, a deep, convulsive cry," Bob Woodward writes in his new book "State of Denial." "As he tried to compose himself he went around and hugged each of the people in the room with him."

When Bush got to the gruff Vice President Cheney in a nearby hallway, however, the President straightened up.

"I know you're not the hugging kind," Bush said. He shook his veep's hand. ...
Before all the sobbing and the hugging, however, there was the uncertainty:
At 2:43 a.m., someone noted that Bush was ahead in the popular vote nationwide, prompting the President to sneer, "If the popular vote made it, I wouldn't be here."

The campaign was left to anxiously wait for a statement from Kenneth Blackwell, a former black power student leader who had morphed into Ohio's gadfly Republican secretary of state.

"I'm the President of the United States," Bush fumed, "waiting on a secretary of state who is a nut."

The tension didn't ease until 10:30 a.m. when Kerry finally called Bush to concede. And the floodgates opened.
I swear, I'm gonna miss this president. And how shitty is Ken Blackwell's life when a goober like Dubya is calling him a nut???

Tags: Bush, White House, Politics, Bush, News, President Bush,
posted by JReid @ 1:30 AM  
The talented Ms. Condi
Did Condi Rice get an explicit warning -- and ignore it -- two months before 9/11? From today's Washington Post:
Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice
Sunday, October 1, 2006; Page A17

On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was a mass of fragments and dots that nonetheless made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately.

Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away. There was no practical way she could refuse such a request from the CIA director.

For months, Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy, including specific presidential orders called "findings" that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden. Perhaps a dramatic appearance -- Black called it an "out of cycle" session, beyond Tenet's regular weekly meeting with Rice -- would get her attention.

Tenet had been losing sleep over the recent intelligence he'd seen. There was no conclusive, smoking-gun intelligence, but there was such a huge volume of data that an intelligence officer's instinct strongly suggested that something was coming. He and Black hoped to convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the government into immediate action.

He did not know when, where or how, but Tenet felt there was too much noise in the intelligence systems. Two weeks earlier, he had told Richard A. Clarke, the National Security Council's counterterrorism director: "It's my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one."

But Tenet had been having difficulty getting traction on an immediate bin Laden action plan, in part because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the National Security Agency intercepts and other intelligence. Could all this be a grand deception? Rumsfeld had asked. Perhaps it was a plan to measure U.S. reactions and defenses.

Tenet had the NSA review all the intercepts, and the agency concluded they were of genuine al-Qaeda communications. On June 30, a top-secret senior executive intelligence brief contained an article headlined "Bin Laden Threats Are Real."
Was this urgent meeting reported to the 9/11 commission? Signs point to "no..."
Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want to swat at flies.

As they all knew, a coherent plan for covert action against bin Laden was in the pipeline, but it would take some time. In recent closed-door meetings the entire National Security Council apparatus had been considering action against bin Laden, including using a new secret weapon: the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, that could fire Hellfire missiles to kill him or his lieutenants. It looked like a possible solution, but there was a raging debate between the CIA and the Pentagon about who would pay for it and who would have authority to shoot.

Besides, Rice seemed focused on other administration priorities, especially the ballistic missile defense system that Bush had campaigned on. She was in a different place.

Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated. Though Rice had given them a fair hearing, no immediate action meant great risk. Black felt the decision to just keep planning was a sustained policy failure. Rice and the Bush team had been in hibernation too long. "Adults should not have a system like this," he said later.

The July 10 meeting between Tenet, Black and Rice went unmentioned in the various reports of investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks, but it stood out in the minds of Tenet and Black as the starkest warning they had given the White House on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Though the investigators had access to all the paperwork on the meeting, Black felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn't want to know about.

Philip D. Zelikow, the aggressive executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and a University of Virginia professor who had co-authored a book with Rice on Germany, knew something about the July 10 meeting, but it was not clear to him what immediate action really would have meant. In 2005 Rice hired Zelikow as a top aide at the State Department.

Afterward, Tenet looked back on the meeting with Rice as a tremendous lost opportunity to prevent or disrupt the Sept. 11 attacks. Rice could have gotten through to Bush on the threat, but she just didn't get it in time, Tenet thought. He felt that he had done his job and had been very direct about the threat, but that Rice had not moved quickly. He felt she was not organized and did not push people, as he tried to do at the CIA.

Black later said, "The only thing we didn't do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head."

The article is a clip from Bob Woodward's new book, which had already been scooped by "60 Minutes" and the New York Times.

As for the merit of the book (which I haven't read yet, but plan to,) it could be Tenet (and others) trying to clean up his reputation with help from Woodward, and at Rice's expense. I expect there's a lot of that going on in Woodward's book. Or it could be Woodward's attempt to clean up his reputation after two soliicitous tomes about the Bush team. Either way, Woodward's revelations aren't good news for the Bushies, who will now have to fight their security fight on territory they're not familiar with -- defenseive territory.

As for the other 9/11 commission members -- the ones Condi Rice didn't give federal jobs to -- they seem to be taking the unreported meeting with something beyond Zellikow's befuddlement. Some apparently are pissed:
A counsel for the 9/11 Commission, Peter Rundlet, wrote late Saturday that the Woodward revelation filled him with a "mixture of shock, anger, and sadness" and suggested that a "coverup" had occurred.
Not a cover-up! Not from the Bush administration!!! Do tell... And how's Mr. Zelikow doing in his new job at State? His name resurfaces in a New York Times Sunday story about the attempt by Zelikow and another Bush advisor to bring the administration's detainee policy in line with Geneva. here's the link.

Other revelations from the Woodward book?

Dubya never tells Tony Blair anything... including how f**d up things are going in Iraq. According to the Times of London and other pubs, Rummy emerges as the book's chief villain.

Andy Card tried to get Rumsfeld booted (Laura did too), but Rummy was in place, according to Woodward, "in part to prove Bush's father wrong" ... Bush Sr. apparently can't stand Rumsfeld (who was with him on the short list to become Gerald Ford's vice president in 1972...)

The Bush White House isn't nearly as disciplined as ... well ... Woodward (and others) mythologized it to be. In this book, Woodward points to the infighting.

Also in the book: U.S. forces in Iraq aren't just being attacked every day, they're being attacked every 15 minutes ... and the administration is trying to keep that information from the American people.

Tags: Bush, Iraq, Politics, Bush, War, News, 9-11,
posted by JReid @ 12:19 AM  
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