Hey, wait a minute ... I like George Will ... he's great fun on the Stehanopoulos show. But isn't it a bit of a bad idea to call someone a "pompous poseur" when you yourself are, in fact ... a pompous ... poseur...?
Ed Schultz, the nation’s largest progressive talk radio host, is moving head-to-head with Rush Limbaugh’s sometime in December, industry insiders familiar with the deal tell RAW STORY. The move – which puts Schultz in the choice noon to 3 p.m. window – will also bring him face-to-face with Air America’s flagship talker, Al Franken.
Two radio insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the move. Both characterized the decision to move The Ed Schultz Show from drive-time to early afternoon as one intended to bolster a rapidly growing national audience.
The decision to move Schultz to noontime eastern could put another nail in the coffin of Air America, which filed for bankruptcy Oct. 13.
A 2006 survey by Talkers Magazine pegged the Fargo talker’s listenership at 2.25 million, tying Schultz at #10 among radio hosts nationwide. Air America’s Al Franken rated #12, with an audience of 1.5 million.
Limbaugh still dwarfs all liberal radio hosts in popularity, with an estimated audience of 13.5 million, according to the Talker’s survey, down from 14.75 million in 2005. Sean Hannity pulls in roughly 12.5 million listeners.
A spokesman for Schultz said he couldn’t comment on the report, but confirmed that a major announcement would be made on Thursday’s show.
Schultz is expected to announce the change on the Thursday’s program.
Schultz's show is owned by Product First, which is headed by one of the same guys who launched Limbaugh, who some have say Schultz -- who was a conservative before he was a "progressive" (and who some think may have drifted for less than pure reasons) -- resembles.
After what I'm sure was a strong-arming to put Saddam to shame, Nouri al-Maliki finally stopped boycotting George W. Bush this morning (sure wish Moqtada al-Sadr would stop boycotting al-Maliki...) The two met for breakfast, and afterwords, Bush said:
2) Damn the memo! Maliki's "the right guy" for Iraq. Gee, thanks.
And check out this interesting line from the WaPo today:
Bush has a track record of changing policies on a dime, such as when he ousted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld only days after saying he would stay until the end of his term. But his comments today, coupled with other statements in the past few days, seemed to set firm lines on Iraq beyond which the president will not be pushed, despite growing discontent with his policy at home.
So does that mean he won't be listening to the Iraq Study Group, which will call for a troop drawdown ... someday...?
The adventures of Flat Bushie: One day, four disses
What a year President Bush is having...
First, he gets called "numb-nuts" by Danny Devito on "The View"...
Next, it surfaces that he was out-and-out dissed at his own White House event by former Marine and onetime Reagan Navy secretary, and now Virginia Senator Jim Webb...
Then he heads to Jordan to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, and gets stood up like a jilted bride standing alone at the altar in a full church in front of all the catty relatives. Maliki, who today saw his government reach the brink of collapse after Moqtada al-Sadr made good on his threat to withdraw his party's support from the government -- and he takes with him 30 members of parliament and 6 cabinet ministers, abruptly cancelled his confab with Bush and Jordan's King Abdullah. The official reason: he'd alredy met with the King. The real reason: a certain leaked memo portraying him as either "ignorant of the situation" in his own country, duplicitous, or incompetent. Not a good look on the day you're supposed to meet with a guy you previously dropped in on unanounced. Well now, it's Nouri al-Maliki that's doing the un-announcing. Could President Bush have been any more punked??? Damn.
Then, it keeps getting worse. Collin Powell continues his drive by assaults on the Iraq war, this time joining the small but growing chorus of people (and news organizations) that are openly calling the Iraq mess a civil war.
Whew. Kind of makes you want to chuck it all and get a job with Major League Baseball...
First, the lightest note. Appearing this week on "The View" -- Danny Devito started with a caveat: he'd been out drinking all night with George Clooney. Then, he let the other George have it, in an exchange that got the ABC censors leaning on their bleep buttons. Here's the report from the Bush bunker over at Newsbusters:
As Matt Drudge reported earlier, actor Danny DeVito seemed drunk when he went on an anti-Bush tirade on ABC’s The View on Wednesday. DeVito recounted how he last visited the White House during the Clinton years, warmly noting that "the place was, had that kind of Clinton feeling, you know," before denigrating President Bush as "numb nuts" (or something like that — ABC bleeped over the last part of that word).
DeVito then began what was supposed to be mimicry of Bush, making a variety of weird sounds and facial expressions.
... After his Bush-bashing, DeVito then asked the panel what they thought about "the hat trick last week — Rumsfeld, the House and the Senate," referring to the Democrats’ election victories and Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld’s stepping down. DeVito announced how he reacted to the news: "I took my clothes off."
Needless to say, Elizabeth Hasselbeck didn't look pleased...
Next, the exchange between Bush and Webb at a White House reception for in-coming freshmen, as reported by Bush's last remaining supporters, at Fox News:
The Washington Post reports— that Webb— who has a son serving in the Marines in Iraq and is a strong critic of the war— initially tried to avoid President Bush— but then had this brief conversation:
"How's your boy?" the president asked.
Webb responded, "I'd like to get them out of Iraq."
"That's not what I asked you," Mr. Bush answered. "How's your boy?"
Said Webb —"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President."
A source told "The Hill" newspaper— that Webb said he was so angered by the exchange— he was tempted to slug the president.
Next, Colin Powell plays throw Dubya from the train, telling an audience in Dubai that the president needs to wake up and smell the civil war:
CNN reporter Hala Gorani: Well, within the context of the leaders conference in Dubai and also within the context of this debate, this semantics debate, over whether to call what is going on on in Iraq a civil war, the former Secretary of State Colin Powell says he thinks we can call it a civil war and added if he were still heading the State Department, he probably would recommend to the Bush administration that those terms should be used in order to come to terms with the reality on the ground.
I’m paraphrasing what he told me. This was closed to cameras and this was something he said within the context of this academic debate with 2 or 3,000 people watching on in the region.
Make it plain, brother...
And now to the most serious issue: President Bush's incredible appearance of weakness following the Maliki snub (which comes at the same time rumors are flying that the White House could soon cave to the notion of a summit with Iran and Syria -- which would look rather like we were scurrying up the back gates to crash the kiddie party, wouldn't it, since Iran and Syria have launched talks with Iraq on their own ... without us...?
The WashPost is "No one should read too much into this," Bartlett said.
White House press secretary Tony Snow said that "there's no snub" by Maliki.
Two senior administration officials, at a contentious background briefing with White House reporters who repeatedly challenged their explanation, said all the parties involved believed it would be more productive to have two separate meetings, one on Wednesday between Bush and Abdullah and one on Thursday between Bush and Maliki. They noted that Bush and the king had a variety of issues to discuss, including broader Middle East peace initiatives and the situation in Lebanon. ... That would be Lebanon... where the other civil war is set to begin...
Hey there, Dubya, at least you can always count on Flat Stanley to be there for you...
It's a "no" for Alcee Hastings, but he has the quote of the day: "Sorry, haters, God is not finished with me yet." And another thing: why is it that impeachment hasn't slowed down Bill Clinton, and resigning in disgrace hasn't stopped Newt "down with free speech" Gingrich from plotting to run for fuhrer president, but Alcee Hastings has to pay for not being convicted of a crime for the rest of his career?
Indictments have been handed down in the Martin Anderson case. All 7 guards involved in the boot camp beating, plus the nurse who stood by. Here's the St. Pete Times version.
Update: Here's Mark Ober's 9-page report to the governor. 326 days and all we get is 9 pages washing some of the leading characters in this tragedy "whiter than snow." Still unanswered: why did the original state attorney in the Anderson case delete work emails while the investigation was under way? Did the former commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Guy Tunnell, who founded the boot camp where Martin died (he's the former sherriff of Bay County) and who is friends with Sheriff McKeithen, the current sherriff of Bay County, act to try and suppress the videotape of the beating, and did he have any hand in moving the autopsy to Bay County, when Martin died in nearby Hillsborough County? Did the sheriff's office err when they asked for the body to be moved? And why did it take so long for Ober to come up with the obvious conclusion that all seven guards and the nurse were culpable?
Anyway... we interviewed Katiadu Diallo, the mother of Amadou Diallo, this morning on the radio show. Her story -- 4 cops, 41 shots and no convictions in the killing of her son, unarmed, in 1999, reminds us that charges don't necessarily mean convictions, particularly when the defendants are cops and the victims are Black. Martin's parents have been getting so many racist death threats, they're moving out of town. And we're still waiting to see if they manage to find any African-Americans for that Bay County jury. Don't count on it. I hate to be cynical, but there we are.
A new Quinnipiac survey does the high school popularity rankings. Bottom line: Obama and Rudolph Giuliani (who Americans clearly don't really understand, even if they think they know him) are up, Dubya, Newt Gingrich and John Kerry are down -- way down. And no surprise -- Bill is more popular than Hill'.
Here are the rankings:
1) Rudolph Giuliani - 64.2. (9) 2) Sen. Barack Obama 58.8 (41) 3) Sen. John McCain 57.7 (12) 4) Condoleezza Rice - 56.1 (7) 5) Bill Clinton - 55.8 (1) 6) Sen. Joseph Lieberman - 52.7 (16) 7) NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg - 51.1 (44) 8) John Edwards - 49.9 (20) 9) Sen. Hillary Clinton - 49 (1) 10) N.M. Gov. Bill Richardson - 47.7 (65) 11) Sen. Joseph Biden 47 (52) 12) Nancy Pelosi 46.9 (34) 13) Gov. Mitt Romney - 45.9 (64) 14) Former VP Al Gore - 44.9 (3) 15) President George Bush - 43.8 (1) 16) Sen. Evan Bayh - 43.3 (75) 17) Newt Gingrich - 42 (15) 18) Sen. Bill Frist - 41.5 (53) 19) Sen. Harry Reid - 41.2 (61) 20) Sen. John Kerry - 39.6 (5)
The shooting occurred early Sunday morning as an undercover officer trailed three men -- Sean Bell, 23, Joseph Guzman, 31, and Trent Benefield, 23 -- as they left a bachelor party at the Kalua Cabaret club in Jamaica. The trio had argued with two men inside the club and left, trying to avoid trouble, witnesses said.
The officer told the three men to stop, although witnesses differ about whether the officer identified himself and flashed his badge.
Bell and his friends, witnesses told the New York Daily News, feared that the undercover officer was a friend of those they had argued with and that he was carrying a gun. The men tried to pull away in their car, scraping the leg of an officer. An officer fired a shot, and four more officers pulled out their 9mm guns and began shooting.
Three bullets fatally struck Bell, a delivery man and father of two, who died just hours before his marriage ceremony was to take place.
Benefield and Guzman were injured; the latter had 11 bullet wounds. None of the three men carried a gun, and police manacled the two survivors as they lay bleeding, a fact that concerned civil libertarians.
"It's not as if people so seriously wounded were a flight risk," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "Yet they were treated as criminals for having gotten shot by the police."
Kelly offered a carefully calibrated defense, noting that the Hispanic officer who opened fire was a 12-year veteran and apparently thought the car was trying to hit him. Three of the five officers who fired shots were black or Latino.
Kelly's spokesmen released data showing that New York officers now fire 40 percent fewer shots per incident than in 1995. Police killed 30 people in 1996, compared with nine in 2005 and 10 so far this year. ...
And this from the NYDN a slightly different account, complete with the obligatory police rep jumping to conclusions on the side of the officers:
Peering into a car, an undercover cop yelled, "Gun! Gun!" when he saw one of the passengers reaching for something in his waistband - and fired the first of 50 shots that led to the death of a bridegroom on his wedding day. When it was over, 23-year-old Sean Bell was dead, his two friends were badly wounded and no gun was found.
The Hispanic officer, whose name was not available last night, told other cops that he followed Bell and his buddies from a notorious Queens strip club to his Nissan Altima outside. He said he flashed his shield and yelled to "Show your hands!" before Bell clipped him with the vehicle.
Then he saw the front-seat passenger, later identified as Joseph Guzman, reach toward his waistband, police sources told the Daily News - prompting him to fire 11 rounds at the men, beginning the deadly fusillade.
The controversial shooting led community leaders to stage two emotional meetings yesterday, one with Mayor Bloom.berg and another last night with Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Emerging from his meeting, Bloom.berg denounced the shooting - even as he cautioned against rushing to judgment.
"It's hard for me to understand why 50-odd shots were taken," Bloomberg said at the City Hall news conference, where he stood alongside several black elected officials. "To me that sounds like excessive force."
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly also indicated that the five cops involved in the shooting broke NYPD regulations, including those concerning the use of deadly force.
Kelly said NYPD rules prohibit cops from shooting at a car, even when it's being used as a weapon. He also said this appears to be a case of "contagious fire."
"We stress, when officers go to the range, that they fire no more than three rounds," he said. "And, then, they look."
Although Bell and another of the wounded men, Trent Benefield, 23, were black, Bloomberg said it doesn't appear race figured in the early-morning shooting.
Two of the five officers who opened fire are black, two are white and the officer who fired the first shot is Hispanic. But Bloomberg acknowledged the mounting anger over the fatal shooting of yet another unarmed black man. "The community is outraged, and I am, to put it mildly, deeply disturbed," he said.
Bell's fiancée had stronger words for the five officers who took away her bridegroom.
"They murdered him," a sobbing Nicole Paultre told Brown last night at the emotional meeting with black leaders.
Police sources identified the white cops as Detective Mike Oliver, who fired 31 shots, and Officer Mike Carey, who fired three times.
Also on the scene was Lt. Jerry Napoli, a white 23-year veteran who ducked for cover under a dashboard when the shooting started, the sources said.
The names of the other officers who discharged their guns were not available last night. They have all been placed on administrative leave and ordered to surrender their weapons.
After the shooting, Detectives' Endowment Association President Michael Palladino called the shooting justified because Bell was using his car as a "lethal weapon." He continued to blame the victims yesterday.
"If the driver of the vehicle had responded to the detective's command this would not have happened," he said. "He would be a married man today."
The officer who fired 31 of those shots was 12-year-veteran Detective Mike Oliver, who was photographed yesterday by The Post leaving his lawyer's downtown office. ...
... The undercover officers involved in the shooting say they thought a man in Bell's group had a gun when one tried to stop him in his car outside the club, sources have said. Then, after Bell began ramming his Nissan Altima into one of the plainclothes cops, the officer started firing - and set off a deadly exchange of bullets between him and confused backup detectives who thought the gunfire was coming from the victim's car.
The shooting is still under investigation. Here in Florida, the media is going gaga over the fact that Coach Frank Haith of the U.M. men's basketball team is Sean Bell's uncle. We had Coach Haith on yesterday on the radio show and expect to talk with him again tomorrow.
As I said on the show this morning, as tragic as this case is, I wouldn't expect to see the cops indicted, or if they are, to see convictions. This is going to be chalked up to a mistaken shooting by police, and nothing more. There's no obvious racial animus at play, conflicting accounts of who hit whose vehicle, and a climate in which police fear that every man they encounter on the street is armed with an A-K. Bet on it. Stay tuned...
Bush Library Courts ‘Wealthy Heiresses, Arab Nations, Captains of Industry’ To ‘Polish’ History The New York Daily News reports, “President Bush and his truest believers are about to launch their final campaign — an eye-popping, half-billion-dollar drive for the Bush presidential library.”
Bush is attempting to raise $500 million to build his library and a think tank at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Bush fund-raisers hope to get approximately $250 million from what they call “megadonations” of $10 million to $20 million each. Among the candidates for “megadonations,” whose names will remain anonymous:
Bush loyalists have already identified wealthy heiresses, Arab nations and captains of industry as potential “mega” donors and are pressing for a formal site announcement - now expected early in the new year.
Bush allies feel they need enormous funds to shape how history views Bush’s legacy. A Bush insider said, “The more [money] you have, the more influence [on history] you can exert.” Much of the money will be used to build a “legacy-polishing” institute:
Okay, so Dubya, who supposedly doesn't care about what's in the papers or how his Iraq policy is viewed around the world, is trolling for $500 million to build his presidential library ... and think tank ... as if! ... so that he can "polish the way history views his ... (stiffling a serious belly laugh) ... legacy!"
Oh god! I think I need a sedative! Okay, okay, okay ... here's the best part:
Bush had earlier indicated his desire to create a think tank “to talk about freedom and liberty and the DeTocqueville model of what [French political philosopher Alexis] DeTocqueville saw in America.”
Hey Dubya! Spell "DeTocqueville...!" Ha!!! What a loon! This is almost as pathetic as dreaming up plans to invade Iraq, Syria and Iran as a way of sedating the Middle East into allowing Israel to be the lone nuclear and military power and expecting the populations to snuggle up at our feet like puppy dogs in supplicating gratitude for our having bombed the living snot out of them and then occupying their country for supposedly possessing WMD and nukes that any idiot with Google should have known they didn't have...! On second thought... this just might be a great place to stash all of the remaining neocons...
Still, what's the library -- which is strategically located at Bush's wife's alma mater -- going to have in it? Iraq: disaster ... Afghanistan: f'd up beyond all belief. ... World: hates us. ... Moral authority: gone. ... Surplus: ditto. ... Katrina: okay, so what had happened was... Economy: super rich really, really loved it. Everybody else? Not so much... war profiteering, domestic spying, secret gulags, authorized torture, kangaroo court trials at Gitmo, presidential power grabs, signing statements, the most corrupt, partisan, oversight-allergic Congress in modern history giving the White House everything but hookers through the goddamn front door and STILL managing to screw up even your own policy initiatives ... "no child left behind" and Donald Muthaf**in Rumsfeld...? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check. Dude, Why not just save $499 million and put up a pup tent next to the beer bong wing at Texas A&M's rowdiest frat house and let Bill Kristol man the beer pipe? Wouldn't that be more ... economical? Sheesh...
Laura can NOT have approved this. It must be Condi's idea...
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, trying to build on a shaky cease-fire in Gaza, offered Palestinians today a series of incentives including negotiations and a prisoner release if they turned away from violence.
There was little new in Mr. Olmert’s speech. But the timing was important, because both Mr. Olmert and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, are eager to bolster their own political positions, begin a serious dialogue and stop a bloody cycle of violence.
Mr. Olmert spoke just days before President Bush is to arrive in Jordan to discuss Iraq and other regional issues and one day after King Abdullah of Jordan warned of “the strong potential of three civil wars in the region, whether it’s the Palestinians, that of Lebanon, or of Iraq.”
Expectations are high that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may come here after Jordan to try to solidify the fragile rapprochement that Mr. Abbas and Mr. Olmert are discussing, which may include an extension of the cease-fire to the occupied West Bank.
In his speech, Mr. Olmert appealed to Palestinians to turn away from militant resistance and commit to peaceful negotiations that would result in an independent state. “You, the Palestinian people,” Mr. Olmert said, “are standing in these days at an historic crossroads.”
If the Palestinians can form a new unity government that satisfies international standards and they release a captured Israeli soldier, Mr. Olmert said, he would respond by immediately meeting with Mr. Abbas; releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, some of them serving long sentences; reducing checkpoints; and moving toward a further, unspecified withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the West Bank.
Mr. Olmert promised that Israel would also then release to the Palestinian Authority the $50 million a month in taxes and duties that Israel has collected for the Palestinians but withheld, arguing that the ruling Hamas faction is a terrorist group. The total so far this year is more than $500 million.
But all of these steps — essentially confidence-rebuilding measures — are far short of serious negotiations about a peaceful solution to the conflict, which is nearly 60 years old.
One of the new elements in the speech was more subtle, an Israeli official said, pointing to Mr. Olmert’s praise for Arab countries like Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states that “strive for a peaceful solution to the conflict between us.” Mr. Olmert said he found parts of a Saudi peace initiative to be “positive,” the first time that an Israeli leader has done more than declare the initiative an internal Arab document, the official said.
The 2002 Saudi initiative, supported by the Arab League, offered normal relations with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 boundaries, the establishment of a Palestinian state and a solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees. Mr. Olmert has said that Israel will not return to the 1967 lines, but is willing to negotiate land swaps.
“I intend to invest efforts in order to advance the connection” with those Arab states “and strengthen their support of direct bilateral negotiations between us and the Palestinians,” Mr. Olmert said.
Back when Rudolph Giuliani was the mayor of New York City, over-the-top-seeming police shootings happened on a fairly regular basis, usualy to unarmed Black men, usually at the hands on non-white police officers. In those halcyon days of the reign of "America's mayor," Rudy always -- and I mean always -- took the side of the cops, even before the investigations were done, and he rarely, if ever, bothered to talk with or visit the families of the dead. It just wasn't his style.
Fast forward to today, and the kinder, gentler, mayor of Gotham, Michael Bloomberg.
Today, he says the shooting of Sean Bell and his two car companions outside Bell's bachelor party looks like a case of excessive force. 49 shots and at least two clips emptied into a car that had crashed into an unmarked police van. ... ya think?
Mayor Bloomberg emerged from a meeting with the police commissioner and community leaders Monday and said that it seemed like "excessive force was used" when a groom was killed on his wedding day by a flurry of police gunfire outside a strip club. “I can tell you that it is to me unacceptable or inexplicable how you can have 50-odd shots fired, but that’s up to the investigation to find out what really happened,” Bloomberg said at a news conference after the meeting.
The groom, Sean Bell, 23, was killed and two of his friends were wounded Saturday at 4 a.m. after a bachelor party at the strip club. Suspecting that one of the men had a gun, police fired 50 rounds into the vehicle. The men were unarmed.
Bloomberg was joined by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Charles Rangel, and several other officials and community leaders at the meeting.
Sharpton called it a “very candid, a very blunt meeting.” He said the message to Bloomberg was: “This city must show moral outrage that 50 shots were fired on three unarmed men.” Bloomberg was steadfast in his support for Kelly, who has been denounced by some community leaders over the shooting.
“I think he’s the best police commissioner the city has ever had,” Bloomberg said. “Nobody takes this more seriously than Commissioner Kelly and I do.”
Bloomberg is standing by the police chief so far, and he's not rushing to judgment, as one would expect in the initial phase of such an investigation, but I have to admit that so far, it's a refreshing change from "Giuliani Time."
Meanwhile, NYDN plays the family angle... and columnist Michael Daly makes the point I made on the radio this morning: that the dread of a heavily armed young population who have little hesitation using their armadas is spooking police, over and above the small number of racist, malevolent Mark Fuhrmans out there. And just to max out our Daily News block, the mother of Amadou Diallo speaks out about this latest tragic incident involving cops and unarmed civilians.
Leave it to NBC News to waste not a minute of time after the Democrats sweep the elections to turn on a dime and begin stating the obvious about Iraq, after months of hemming and hawing about what the generals kinda sorta thing may any day now become a civil war, and three years of doing everything but marrying off Norah O'Donnell to Marvin Bush to try and crazy glue the administration's foreign policy disaster into a coherency for the viewers. And leave it to the other nets to report, not on the substance of the Iraq conflict, but on NBC's change of phraseology. I can't wait to hear Norah's brilliant elucidation of this latest "turning point..." Next thing you know they'll be telling us that it's time for the U.S. to talk to Iran and Syria and plan for a phased redployment of U.S. tr... hey, wait a minute...!
Leaving Iraq, Honorably By Chuck Hagel Sunday, November 26, 2006; B07
There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis -- not the Americans.
Iraq is not a prize to be won or lost. It is part of the ongoing global struggle against instability, brutality, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. There will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger made this point last weekend.
The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation -- regardless of our noble purpose.
We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government.
It may take many years before there is a cohesive political center in Iraq. America's options on this point have always been limited. There will be a new center of gravity in the Middle East that will include Iraq. That process began over the past few days with the Syrians and Iraqis restoring diplomatic relations after 20 years of having no formal communication.
What does this tell us? It tells us that regional powers will fill regional vacuums, and they will move to work in their own self-interest -- without the United States. This is the most encouraging set of actions for the Middle East in years. The Middle East is more combustible today than ever before, and until we are able to lead a renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, mindless destruction and slaughter will continue in Lebanon, Israel and across the Middle East.
We are a long way from a sustained peaceful resolution to the anarchy in Iraq. But this latest set of events is moving the Middle East in the only direction it can go with any hope of lasting progress and peace. The movement will be imperfect, stuttering and difficult.
And these might be the two most important paragraphs of all:
America finds itself in a dangerous and isolated position in the world. We are perceived as a nation at war with Muslims. Unfortunately, that perception is gaining credibility in the Muslim world and for many years will complicate America's global credibility, purpose and leadership. This debilitating and dangerous perception must be reversed as the world seeks a new geopolitical, trade and economic center that will accommodate the interests of billions of people over the next 25 years. The world will continue to require realistic, clear-headed American leadership -- not an American divine mission.
The United States must begin planning for a phased troop withdrawal from Iraq. The cost of combat in Iraq in terms of American lives, dollars and world standing has been devastating. We've already spent more than $300 billion there to prosecute an almost four-year-old war and are still spending $8 billion per month. The United States has spent more than $500 billion on our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And our effort in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, partly because we took our focus off the real terrorist threat, which was there, and not in Iraq.
Amen. Hagel goes on to say that for the sake of our Army, which we're destroying after taking 30 years to build it back from the ravages of Vietnam, and for the sake of our honor, we need to quit Iraq. Says the Senator:
We are destroying our force structure, which took 30 years to build. We've been funding this war dishonestly, mainly through supplemental appropriations, which minimizes responsible congressional oversight and allows the administration to duck tough questions in defending its policies. Congress has abdicated its oversight responsibility in the past four years.
It is not too late. The United States can still extricate itself honorably from an impending disaster in Iraq. The Baker-Hamilton commission gives the president a new opportunity to form a bipartisan consensus to get out of Iraq. If the president fails to build a bipartisan foundation for an exit strategy, America will pay a high price for this blunder -- one that we will have difficulty recovering from in the years ahead.
Not that he hasn't been saying this for a long time now, but at least now, the majority of Americans are listening.
Let's take a trip down memory lane with Geraldo Rivera's b-ball buddy, Fox News Channel's darling legal analyst, author, white supremacist, and the LAPD's infamous lying, perjuring, racist former homicide detective, Mark Fuhrman. This is the same guy who wouldn't answer a straight question about his own culpability in helping the prosecution lose the O.J. Simpson case on the ever-sympathetic Fox "news" outet's "Hannity and Colmes" program on November 16th...
COLMES: Hey, Mark, let me ask you a question. You -- you got into some controversy during your testimony. They tried to paint you as a racist and tear you apart because of what you said. Does that bear any relation to the acquittal of O.J. Simpson? Do you think anything you said and the way you were treated --
FUHRMAN: Oh, who cares, Alan? That's apples and oranges now. Now, we're talking about a guy that's going to make $3 million to come and play a fairytale for you about, "If I did do it, this" --
COLMES: I'm asking you a question, though, about whether your testimony bears any --
FUHRMAN: Well, I'm not answering that question, Alan. I'm not on the hot seat, Alan.
COLMES: I'm asking you a simple question.
FUHRMAN: This is O.J. Simpson's day. I know -- I'm not answering it. I'm done answering that.
COLMES: You -- you said, in the last segment, that these people will go and kill someone and go have chicken at KFC -- who are you talking about?
FUHRMAN: That's right. I'm talking about a murderer, whether they're white, black, or Caucasian, or they're Mexican. It doesn't make any difference; they have no emotion. You've never seen one, Alan. That's why you wrote that chapter in your book that said he's innocent.
COLMES: Do you think what you said -- do you think that comment could be interpreted as a racist comment -- they go have chicken at KFC?
FUHRMAN: I used to eat chicken at KFC. Alan, you know something? You've got a chip on your shoulder, and you want to find something wrong with everything that somebody --
COLMES: I don't have a chip on my shoulder. You're the one who won't answer my question about whether your testimony had anything to do with the acquittal of O.J. Simpson.
FUHRMAN: Alan, you haven't -- Alan -- Alan, you haven't asked a decent question yet.
COLMES: Well, maybe I haven't gotten a decent answer.
... and the same guy whose sordid history as regards the O.J. Simpson case my white friends in the media conveniently overlook today (note the lack of outrage as he appears on television as a legitimate analyst and interviewee time and again, without even making the number 5 story on "Countdown...") Well I haven't forgotten about Mark Fuhrman, my self-riteous media friends, even if you have.
During the trial, Fuhrman denied ever using the word "nigger" for the previous ten years, yet the defense was able to find an audiotape contradicting that testimony. Fuhrman gave a taped interview in 1985 to Laura McKinney, an aspiring screenwriter working on a screenplay about female police officers. Fuhrman bragged about his membership in the secret organization within the LAPD known as MAW (Men Against Women). In further interviews, Fuhrman bragged about beating and torturing gang members, and was quoted as saying "Yeah we work with niggers and gangs. You can take one of these niggers, drag 'em into the alley and beat the shit out of them and kick them. You can see them twitch. It really relieves your tension." He went on to say "we had them begging that they'd never be gang members again, begging us." Fuhrman's negative attitude toward African-Americans was also evident in the taped interview. He said that he would tell Blacks, "You do what you're told, understand, nigger?" See Fuhrman tapes for more details.
As a result, the prosecution labeled their main police witness as a "bad cop." With the jury absent on September 6, 1995, Fuhrman was asked questions as to whether or not he had ever falsified police reports or if he had planted or manufactured evidence in the Simpson case and he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Fuhrman later pled no contest to a perjury charge and was sentenced to probation and fined $200.
Fuhrman was the officer who found both gloves (one at the murder scene, the other at Simpson's home), much of the blood drops at Simpson's home, and who entered Simpson's estate without a search warrant due to exigent circumstances. Only very limited excerpts of the tapes were admitted as evidence in the 1995 murder trial against O.J. Simpson, yet the admitted portions were strong enough to cast doubts on Fuhrman's motives and credibility.
And there's more. Fuhrman told his friend the author that all niggers should be "incinerated" and that he couldn't stand to see a Black man with a white woman, or to see "niggers" driving fancy cars or living in fancy homes. And it didn't stop there. Fuhrman admitted to acting on his hatred for interracial couples by harassing them while in uniform, providing the defense with as clear a motive as one could think of for planting the glove at Simpson's home: to frame a nigger he hated for having more money than Fuhrman, and for sleeping with a white woman. Ne now gets rather piqued when confronted with his past credibility problems, but he was just one of the many seedy players in the Simpson trial, and one of the many factors in O.J.'s acquittal.
The station (WTPS 1080 AM) got the "scoop of the week" Wednesday, when we talked exclusively, for a full hour, as Larry King would say, with O.J. Simpson. The interview came just days after Fox backed out of the Judith Regan interview with "The Juice" and Regan backed out of the book that was the subject of the interview. In our interview, which was covered by St. Pete Times media columnist Eric Deggans (we had him on hold on one line for a while and then put him on to ask a question. He blogs about it here...) as well as all of our local media including our news partner CBS 4, (I sent audio from the interview to the Associated Press, which promptly took credit for the entire interview despite only having talked to him in the sense of possibly screaming at the mp3s of our interview...) Simpson answered "the question," (he says no, he didn't kill his wife or Ron Goldman), and he exploded some myths:
- No, he didn't confess to the killings in the Judith Regan book; In fact, O.J. said the title of the book was cooked up by the publisher, and that he had agreed to it solely for the money, and because he was told it would be a fiction book with a fictionalized account of a murder like the one that occurred at his Brentwood home in 1994. Simpson said he supplied no details of a hypothetical killing, "because he doesn't know any," and the male ghost writer (who reportedly got about $100,000 as a writing fee) came up with all the details in the book's controversial sixth chapter (which contains the death scene); - Yes, he got paid, but he wouldn't confirm how much; ("Don't be naive, of course I got paid!" was the way he put it...); - Yes, he can earn money without handing it over to the Goldmans; they are just one of his creditors, his children's trust being another, and the one he chooses to "pay first" when he does make money; - No, he isn't living off a $25,000 a month pension. Simpson pegged the figure at a far smaller $1,700 a month, while he said the tuition on his children's private schools amounted to $2,000 a month a piece; - No, he isn't dredging this horror up after all these years; it follows him around every day, and every time the Goldman's sue him afresh, whether over rights to his name, his Heisman trophies, etc. Simpson says he always wins the lawsuits, but each one drains him of tens of thousands of dollars.
Simspon came off in the interview as unapologetic, and insistent that he did not commit the crimes "no matter what anybody wants to say." He has known our host, James T, for some years, and the two have golfed together, as Keith Olbermann snidely spat out during his "Countdown" segment on our big get. (I still love you, Keith, even if we disagree on this one!)
So now to the question of why we did the interview, even at the cost of nationwide media appropbrium and yes, at least one death threat to our families that was called in to the station by one of those virtuous defenders of the innocent out there.
We interviewed O.J. Simpson because Fox backed down from a legitimate news story. What is or isn't in that book isnews, and backing down from airing an interview about it was cowardly and hypocritical on the part of the network family that continues to employ faux news hacks like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.
We interviewed O.J. Simpson because we're sick of being told what to think about the Simpson case by self-riteous white media types who seem to have infused an awful lot of personal passion and rather eerie certitude into this case, almost from the beginnig. Let's face it -- the mainstream media decided that O.J. Simpson was guilty of the murders of his wife and their friend, not after hearing all of the evidence at trial, but rather on the day of that slow-speed chase. The media had Simpson tried and convicted before he ever stepped into a courtroom, and no amount of fantastic lawyering by Johnnie Cochran, no amount of exploding the forensic evidence by the fabulous Barry Scheck, or by Michael Baden or the other defense experts; and not even the presence of a crooked, patently racist cop who took the Fifth on the rather important question of whether he planted a bloody glove at Simpson's home when he went over that wall (and who, by the way, remains a fixture as a legal analyst, even after disgracing himself in the Simpson case, having avoided the societal banishment that Simpson suffered -- even after being acquitted), will stay their smug sense of "knowing" that he did it.
You know he did it, Keith Olbermann? Is that the same Keith Olbermann who nightly lambasts the dangerous certitude of the Iraq-attacking neocons and their charge, George W. Bush?
Ditto for you, Tucker Carlson. You are certain that O.J. Simpson "got off because he was Black?" Really? I suppose that the jury that acquitted Robert Blake did so because he is Black as well... and not because prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt?
You know he did it, Harvey Levin? Is this the same Harvey Levin who as a member of the bar surely understands that our system of justice is dependent on a prosecution being able to prove to a jury, beyond any reasonable doubt, that a defendant has forfeited the presumption of innocence, and who nonetheless denied that presumption to Mr. Simpson, from day one of the trial?
At the end of the day, White America has invested itself emotionally in its certitude that Simpson committed these crimes. They are so emotionally invested, they can't stomach the idea of Simpson working, walking the streets, having custody of his kids, or for that matter doing anything other than blowing his brains out -- after handing over every dime he has to the Goldmans. That is the price they demand for having failed to get their pound of flesh during the "trial of the century."
I consider myself to be an intelligent person. I watched every day of that trial -- not the bites about the so-called "mountain of evidence" during the 6:00 news, the entire trial, since I was working from home at the time. I saw some evidence that looked bad for Mr. Simpson, but hardly overwhelming, and hardly open and shut. I also saw plenty of reasonable doubt, and a hell of a case put on by the defense (versus a very poorly tried case by the inept prosecution.) I was and am no fan of O.J. Simpson. I am a football fan, but not so much that it would color my opinion of the trial. And while Simpson is Black, he was hardly an icon of the African-American community, having made it clear that he preferred his coffee with straight milk, no coffee beans, if you know what I mean. But if I had been on that jury, I too would have voted "not guilty," because, sorry white people, but Barry Scheck tore huge holes in the DNA evidence, Mark Fuhrman came across as a racist and a liar and a man who damned sure would have planted that bloody glove, and Chris Darden is an ass for making O.J. try on that glove without checking to see if it would freaking fit his hand.
O.J. has a significant side of this story to tell, and I will not be lectured by white media harpies about how "obvious" it is that he's a murderer. I prefer to ask the man myself, and judge for myself. So we asked him. And now we, and our listeners, can make up our own minds, without the school marms of the MSM shielding our delicate ears and eyes. Grow up, MSM. And let let public grow up, too.
Also in politics, Hillary throws James Carville over the side on the subject of Howard Dean. Perhaps somebody in the Clinton camp knows something about the 50 state strategy they're not sharing with the Rahm Emanuel fan club...
The exposure of the Valerie Plame Wilson and her CIA non-official cover Brewster Jennings & Associates front company and her official cover Counter-Proliferation Division colleagues by neo-con elements in the Bush administration has taken a deeper turn down the rabbit hole of the CIA Leakgate scandal. While the neo-cons in Washington and Jerusalem continue to rattle sabers against Iran's nuclear program and were responsible for the phony intelligence on Iraq's non-existent nuclear program, the very same neo-con elements have not only turned a blind eye to Turkey's acquisition of nuclear technology but have been involved in the proliferation of such technology to and through Turkey. The interest of Brewster Jennings and the CIA in Turkish nuclear smuggling activities potentially involved moving up the food chain and stinging individuals close to Vice President Dick Cheney, including Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Denise Brown, who has made a career out of O.J. Simpson, was on the Today show this morning saying News Corp offered her family "hush money" to stay quiet about the O.J. interview, or something else that I don't really care about...
Last but not least, the GOP will leave a legacy to the in-coming Congress after all: bills, debt and crap.
And the Dems will have a legacy too: starting with ethics reform.
BTW, fellow comedian Paul Rodriguez, who co-owns the Laugh Factory where Richards went off, while being recorded by a cellphone cam, says the Black guys who were the target of Kramer's wack-attack weren't even heckling him. They were attending a private party and talking loudly, not even paying attention to his act. I guess Mikey felt disrespected. Poor thing. Eric Deggans of the St. Pete Times told us on the morning show today that Seinfeld asked his former cast-mate to appear by satellite on Letterman's show last night to help undo the damage that could be done to sales of the "Seinfeld" DVD, which goes on market today.
Blogger Rinsem says Richard, please kill the "afro..."
The Rush Limbaugh buddy co-creator of "24" (the right winger's anti-terrorism bible) says his new show will be funnier than a Bush-bot who still believes there were WMD in Iraq. Courtesy of ThinkP:
“Fox News Channel, a primary source of material for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, is teaming with the exec producer of “24″ to try its hand at a news satire show for conservatives to love.” “The way I look at it, almost every comedy show or satire show I see uses the same talking points against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney,” “24″ co-creator Joel Surnow said. “The other side hasn’t been skewered in a fair and balanced way.”
Yep. That should be funny. A satire show with talking points in support of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Maybe you could make fun of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid ... after you inform the 90 percent of Americns who don't have any godly idea who they are... Oooh! and you could make Dennis Miller the host! He's a laugh riot. ... (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz) Or maybe Rush Libaugh! Yeah! That's the ticket! Conservatives are funny, right? Right??? ... Right??? Am I snickering visibly? Sorry.
No, actually, kidding aside, I think it's a good idea. It will give Stephen Colbert something really juicy to make fun of.
The WaPo reports that a secret Pentagon report is giving the Bush administration three options on Iraq: "go big, go long, or go home." The main idea is that there may have to be a temporary increase in U.S. troop strength in Iraq in order to facilitate a less-messy exit. Here's the skinny:
The Pentagon's closely guarded review of how to improve the situation in Iraq has outlined three basic options: Send in more troops, shrink the force but stay longer, or pull out, according to senior defense officials.
Insiders have dubbed the options "Go Big," "Go Long" and "Go Home." The group conducting the review is likely to recommend a combination of a small, short-term increase in U.S. troops and a long-term commitment to stepped-up training and advising of Iraqi forces, the officials said.
The military's study, commissioned by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, comes at a time when escalating violence is causing Iraq policy to be reconsidered by both the White House and the congressionally chartered, bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Pace's effort will feed into the White House review, but military officials have made it clear they are operating independently.
The Pentagon group's proceedings are so secret that officials asked to help it have not even been told its title or mandate. But in recent days the circle of those with knowledge of its deliberations has widened beyond a narrow group working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"Go Big," the first option, originally contemplated a large increase in U.S. troops in Iraq to try to break the cycle of sectarian and insurgent violence. A classic counterinsurgency campaign, though, would require several hundred thousand additional U.S. and Iraqi soldiers as well as heavily armed Iraqi police. That option has been all but rejected by the study group, which concluded that there are not enough troops in the U.S. military and not enough effective Iraqi forces, said sources who have been informally briefed on the review.
The sources insisted on anonymity because no one at the Pentagon has been permitted to discuss the review with outsiders. The review group is led by three high-profile colonels -- H.R. McMaster and Peter Mansoor of the Army, and Thomas C. Greenwood of the Marine Corps. None of them would comment for this article.
Spokesmen for the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs did not respond to calls or e-mails seeking comment.
"Go Home," the third option, calls for a swift withdrawal of U.S. troops. It was rejected by the Pentagon group as likely to push Iraq directly into a full-blown and bloody civil war.
The group has devised a hybrid plan that combines part of the first option with the second one -- "Go Long" -- and calls for cutting the U.S. combat presence in favor of a long-term expansion of the training and advisory efforts. Under this mixture of options, which is gaining favor inside the military, the U.S. presence in Iraq, currently about 140,000 troops, would be boosted by 20,000 to 30,000 for a short period, the officials said.
The purpose of the temporary but notable increase, they said, would be twofold: To do as much as possible to curtail sectarian violence, and also to signal to the Iraqi government and public that the shift to a "Go Long" option that aims to eventually cut the U.S. presence is not a disguised form of withdrawal.
Even so, there is concern that such a radical shift in the U.S. posture in Iraq could further damage the standing of its government, which U.S. officials worry is already shaky. Under the hybrid plan, the short increase in U.S. troop levels would be followed by a long-term plan to radically cut the presence, perhaps to 60,000 troops. That combination plan, which one defense official called "Go Big but Short While Transitioning to Go Long," could backfire if Iraqis suspect it is really a way for the United States to moonwalk out of Iraq -- that is, to imitate singer Michael Jackson's trademark move of appearing to move forward while actually sliding backward. "If we commit to that concept, we have to accept upfront that it might result in the opposite of what we want," the official said.
The Pentagon official said this short-term boost could be achieved through three steps: extending the tours of duty of some units already in Iraq, sending other units there earlier than planned and activating some Army Reserve units.
Maybe we should check out what Bush thinks about all this while he's over there hiding from the Indonesian public ... but then again, who cares what Dubya thinks at this point.
Meanwhile over at the New Yorker, Sy Hersh has some disturbing news about the refusal of Dick Cheney and his neocon horde to go down quietly. Despite the disaster that is Iraq, and the nearly equivalent mess in poppy-strewn Afghanistan, these evil bastards, led by their fat, balding dungeon keeper, are still spoiling for war with Iran:
A month before the November elections, Vice-President Dick Cheney was sitting in on a national-security discussion at the Executive Office Building. The talk took a political turn: what if the Democrats won both the Senate and the House? How would that affect policy toward Iran, which is believed to be on the verge of becoming a nuclear power? At that point, according to someone familiar with the discussion, Cheney began reminiscing about his job as a lineman, in the early nineteen-sixties, for a power company in Wyoming. Copper wire was expensive, and the linemen were instructed to return all unused pieces three feet or longer. No one wanted to deal with the paperwork that resulted, Cheney said, so he and his colleagues found a solution: putting “shorteners” on the wire—that is, cutting it into short pieces and tossing the leftovers at the end of the workday. If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that victory would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The White House would put “shorteners” on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and thus stop Congress from getting in its way.
The White House’s concern was not that the Democrats would cut off funds for the war in Iraq but that future legislation would prohibit it from financing operations targeted at overthrowing or destabilizing the Iranian government, to keep it from getting the bomb. “They’re afraid that Congress is going to vote a binding resolution to stop a hit on Iran, à la Nicaragua in the Contra war,” a former senior intelligence official told me.
In late 1982, Edward P. Boland, a Democratic representative, introduced the first in a series of “Boland amendments,” which limited the Reagan Administration’s ability to support the Contras, who were working to overthrow Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinista government. The Boland restrictions led White House officials to orchestrate illegal fund-raising activities for the Contras, including the sale of American weapons, via Israel, to Iran. The result was the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-eighties. Cheney’s story, according to the source, was his way of saying that, whatever a Democratic Congress might do next year to limit the President’s authority, the Administration would find a way to work around it. (In response to a request for comment, the Vice-President’s office said that it had no record of the discussion.)
In interviews, current and former Administration officials returned to one question: whether Cheney would be as influential in the last two years of George W. Bush’s Presidency as he was in its first six. Cheney is emphatic about Iraq. In late October, he told Time, “I know what the President thinks,” about Iraq. “I know what I think. And we’re not looking for an exit strategy. We’re looking for victory.” He is equally clear that the Administration would, if necessary, use force against Iran. “The United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime,” he told an Israeli lobbying group early this year. “And we join other nations in sending that regime a clear message: we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.” ...
So much for the electoral rebuke of neocon strategy (why Bill Kristol is still listened to by anyone, I'll never figure out, but I digress...) But what of the removal of Rumsfeld, which is also widely seen as a dimunition of Cheney's power inside the White House, along with the return of the Bush I realists who by all reports have been flown in to mount a rescue operation for junior, by sidelining the neocon wack-jobs? (As Hersh put it, “the President’s father, Brent Scowcroft, and James Baker”—former aides of the first President Bush—“piled on, and the President finally had to accept adult supervision.”) It only matters if they care. If it's "we're out of here" and damn the rest, then it's to Iran we go.
More on the Democratic attempts to rescue the rule of law from ThinkP:
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced legislation yesterday that would amend the existing law governing military tribunals of detainees. Among other things, the bill “seeks to give habeas corpus protections to military detainees” and narrow the definition of “unlawful enemy combatant” to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States.
“The U.S. military called no witnesses, withheld evidence from detainees and usually reached a decision within a day as it determined that hundreds of men detained at Guantanamo Bay were ‘enemy combatants,’ according to a new report.”
The Guardian reports that President Bush wants to send in 20,000 more troops to try for "one last push" to win the warcivil war in Iraq. No word on whether winning means taking sides with the Sunnis or the Shia... (Bush has been cozying up to John McCain a lot lately, including Bush's latest statement in Vietnam, praising McCain for his service there, so could the president have decided on an annointed successor?) Here's part of the Guardian's original report:
President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make "a last big push" to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration's internal deliberations. Mr Bush's refusal to give ground, coming in the teeth of growing calls in the US and Britain for a radical rethink or a swift exit, is having a decisive impact on the policy review being conducted by the Iraq Study Group chaired by Bush family loyalist James Baker, the sources said.
Although the panel's work is not complete, its recommendations are expected to be built around a four-point "victory strategy" developed by Pentagon officials advising the group. The strategy, along with other related proposals, is being circulated in draft form and has been discussed in separate closed sessions with Mr Baker and the vice-president Dick Cheney, an Iraq war hawk.
Point one of the strategy calls for an increase rather than a decrease in overall US force levels inside Iraq, possibly by as many as 20,000 soldiers. This figure is far fewer than that called for by the Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain. But by raising troop levels, Mr Bush will draw a line in the sand and defy Democratic pressure for a swift drawdown.
The Guardian today is reporting that whatever the administration may face a showdown with the Democratically-controlled Congress, though it's not at all clear yet whether the Dems will stand with their base and fight, or cave to the Liebermen within them...
The new majority leader in the US Senate, Harry Reid, said yesterday the Democrats would do everything they can to stop George Bush sending more troops to Iraq. Mr Reid believed the president would not be able to find 20,000 US reinforcements for "one last push" in Iraq, a plan reported in the Guardian yesterday, because the armed forces were already stretched too thin.
"I'd rather doubt he'd do that, because we don't have the troops," said Mr Reid, who will become the most powerful figure in the Senate when the newly elected Congress convenes in January. "We don't have a single non-deployed army unit that is battle ready."
There is, however, little the new Democrat majority could do to stop the administration if it was determined to send more Americans into the fray in a final attempt to crush the insurgency and curb sectarian violence. Democrat leaders, fearful of being seen to betray American soldiers, have said they will not cut off war funding. Short of that, their power would be to pass resolutions and protest. "We are not going to back off this," Mr Reid said. "We are going to do everything we can to let people know that if Bush was to go in this direction, we're going to speak out loudly. The whole situation in Iraq is breaking down, and the president has to realise that."
Meanwhile, Fox's Shepard Smith continues to go off the reservation. First he leaves the ranch on Katrina and now this? Next thing you know, he'll quit to take a job with an actual news organization...
And one of the four U.S. soldiers accused of raping and killing a 14-year-old girl in Mahmoudiya and killing and burning her family to conceal the crime, has pleaded guilty, and will serve 90 years in prison, though he avoids a death sentence. Specialist James Barker will testify against the other defendants. The Guardian story contain a chilling picture: the photo ID if the slain girl from 1993.
Leave it to the Democrats to win back the Congress, and then immediately begin fighting like fish wives. If this is a sign of the way Nancy Pelosi is going to govern the House, it's not a good one. From The Hill:
House Democrats head to the ballot box today to elect their majority leader, with many of them fretting that the contentious race has split their caucus into two warring camps, one allied with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the other with Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), regardless of today’s outcome.
The race has reinforced longstanding divisions between different factions in the caucus, members and observers said, and has diverted their attention from a positive message they hoped to project just days after winning control of the House.
“We’re trying to say it’s a new day, and unfortunately, we’ve started a new day with unnecessary controversy,” said Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas), a Hoyer ally. “Members see this as something unnecessary, something counterproductive, something that is sucking up all the oxygen in the room when we really need to work on improving the functioning of the House.”
Elated by their victory last week at the polls, many House Democrats were further encouraged by the harmonious resolution last week of a battle brewing for the post of majority whip, praising Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for brokering the compromise.
But on Sunday, Pelosi took a decidedly different tack by stepping into the majority leader race on Murtha’s behalf, a move that escalated an already vigorous contest. Two hundred thirty-one House Democrats will meet this morning at 9 a.m. to vote for their entire slate of leaders, although the majority leader position is the only contested race. They will first vote on a motion to allow Christine Jennings and Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) to vote. Jennings’s Florida race is still contested. Jefferson still faces a runoff.
Could moderate "blue dog" Dems and moderate Republicans (who knew there were any after Linc Chaffee lost ...? ... oh right, Olympia Snowe is still there...) form a bi-partisan caucus to push centrist issues in the 110th Congress? Roll Call says signs point to quite possibly, but since I'm not a subscriber, this will have to do. (Thanks, RawStory!)
“Be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem controlled Congress.”
Yep. Fair and balanced.
Now you may wonder how Fox knows so much about what "the terrorists" are thinking? Maybe it's because they ever so occasionally do a little money business with them... According to WorldNet Daily:
Palestinian terror groups and security organizations in the Gaza Strip received $2 million from a United States source in exchange for the release of Fox News employees Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, who were kidnapped here last summer, a senior leader of one of the groups suspected of the abductions told WND.
The terror leader, from the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, said his organization's share of the money was used to purchase weapons, which he said would be utilized "to hit the Zionists."
He said he expects the payments for Centanni and Wiig's freedom will encourage Palestinian groups to carry out further kidnappings.
Officials associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and its security organization, the Preventative Security Services, confirmed to WND money was paid for the release of the Fox News reporters.
A senior leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, the declared "military wing" of Fatah, said the group received a small percentage of the $2 million, which all parties interviewed said was transferred in cash.
Centanni and Wiig were released last August after being held hostage by terrorists in Gaza for nearly two weeks. Shortly before their release, a video was issued showing the two dressed in beige Arab-style robes and appearing to convert to Islam. Wiig, a New Zealand citizen, gave an anti-Western speech, with his face expressionless. Centanni later explained he and Wiig were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint.
Staying on the same theme, what do you call a Freeper at the Post Office? A nut. Watch your mail! This was the same threat that wingers belittled Olbermann for earlier this year. And yes, it turns out Mr. Castagana is a FReeper. How shocking.
Who are the Iraq Study Group? In case you're interested, here's the list. You know it's James A. Baker III and Lee Hamilton, but there are also four Republicans:
Sandra Day O'Connor, former Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Eagleburger, former Secretary of State Edwin Meese III, former US Attorney General Alan K. Simpson, former Wyoming Senator
... and four Democrats:
Vernon Jordan, Jr., business executive Leon E. Panetta, former White House Chief of Staff William J. Perry, former US Secretary of Defense Charles S. Robb, former Governor of Virginia and former U.S. Senator
It's either really comforting or really disturbing to think that the fate of U.S. policy in Iraq is in the hands of these people, including the emissaries from dear old dad.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Gunmen clad in Iraqi National Police uniforms kidnapped between 100 and 150 people at a government research institute in Baghdad Tuesday morning, forcing the minister of higher education to order universities closed until security improves.
The daytime raid involved up to 80 gunmen and targeted the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research -- Scholarships and Cultural Relations Directorate building, Minister Abed Dhiyab al-Ajili told parliament.
He said he had "no choice but to stop the teaching in the universities in Baghdad, adding he is "not ready to see more professors get killed."
The directorate had a guard force that numbered about 20, with a handful of weapons among them -- not enough to resist the abductors -- al-Ajili said.
Authorities deplored the act, and the United Nations issued a condemnation.
The kidnappers surrounded the four-story building along Nidhal Street with at least 20 vehicles, taking captive guards, employees and civilians, al-Ajili said.
"They took 100 to 150 people, including employees from different ranks starting from manager and down to the cleaning workers and normal citizens," the minister said.
The gunmen separated the men from the women, locking the women in a room, while loading the men into vehicles before making their escape, al-Ajili said.
Al-Ajili said he had sent a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last week, asking for better protection for universities and education buildings. The defense and interior ministers had rejected earlier requests for 800 university guards, he said.
The U.N. secretary-general's special representative in Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, called the kidnapping "a nefarious crime," saying it "could dangerously and negatively effect progress and development in Iraq, a country long known for its literary and scientific tradition."
Qazi urged Iraqi officials "to immediately and inexorably pursue those responsible, free the abductees and ensure the sanctity of higher education."
Yesterday I listened to a bit of wacky Sean Hannity's radio show, in which he rather desperately demanded that his followers "push back" against any attempts to get the U.S. military out of Iraq "until victory is achieved," (among other things, including pushing back against universal healthcare...) Good luck with that argument, Sean, with Iraq in this kind of a mess.
Now that he's a lame duck Pentagoner, Donald Rumsfeld's neocon friends are in full retreat. Exhibit A: neocon godfather Ken Adelman, who was for Rummy's war strategy before he was against it:
... Within the confines of the policy board, Adelman became blunt about his disenchantment with the Pentagon’s management of the war. At the board’s meeting this summer, Adelman said, he argued that the American military needed a new strategy.
“I suggested that we were losing the war,” Adelman said. “What was astonishing to me was the number of Iraqi professional people who were leaving the country. People were voting with their feet, and I said that it looked like we needed a Plan B. I said, ‘What’s the alternative? Because what we’re doing now is just losing.’ ”
Adelman said that Rumsfeld didn’t take to the message well. “He was in deep denial—deep, deep denial. And then he did a strange thing. He did fifteen or twenty minutes of posing questions to himself, and then answering them. He made the statement that we can only lose the war in America, that we can’t lose it in Iraq. And I tried to interrupt this interrogatory soliloquy to say, ‘Yes, we are actually losing the war in Iraq.’ He got upset and cut me off. He said, ‘Excuse me,’ and went right on with it.”
What kind of Democrat is elected mainly by Republicans, then stiffs them by caucusing with Democrats, just so he can keep his committee chairmanship and seniority, then holds it over his former party that he could switch to the GOP at any time if they don't behave just right? An "Independent Democrat" like Joe "Shecky" Lieberman. [Excellent photo parody courtesy of Firedoglake by way of Alternet, where Joshua Holland argues that even if the Gates nomination falls through, that Lieberman will stay put in the Senate.)
... for House majority leader, dissing her current deputy, Steny Hoyer, in favor of her former campaign manager, John Murtha, the man many Democrats credit with turning the party's ship around on Iraq.
... is the collective sigh of relief being breathed by the whole world at the return of two-party government in the United States. Except this guy, who sees some reason for hope, but one reason for pessimism... Don't worry, pro-Bush British guy, the grownups are in charge, now.
SecDef nominee Bob Gates has his problems, to be sure, including his ties to Iran Contra, his alleged cooking of the books on the threat posed by the Soviet Union and the situation in Afghanistan, and his role in helping the CIA sell the falsehood that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist (back in the bad old days when then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted no on a resolution calling for Mandela's release from a South African prison,) to this little nugget:
Gates also was implicated in a secret operation to funnel military assistance to Iraq in the 1980s, as the Reagan administration played off the two countries battling each other in the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War.
Middle Eastern witnesses alleged that Gates worked on the secret Iraqi initiative, which included Saddam Hussein’s procurement of cluster bombs and chemicals used to produce chemical weapons for the war against Iran.
Gates denied those Iran-Iraq accusations in 1991 and the Senate Intelligence Committee – then headed by Gates’s personal friend, Sen. David Boren, D-Oklahoma – failed to fully check out the claims before recommending Gates for confirmation.
However, four years later – in early January 1995 – Howard Teicher, one of Reagan’s National Security Council officials, added more details about Gates’s alleged role in the Iraq shipments.
In a sworn affidavit submitted in a Florida criminal case, Teicher stated that the covert arming of Iraq dated back to spring 1982 when Iran had gained the upper hand in the war, leading President Reagan to authorize a U.S. tilt toward Saddam Hussein.
The effort to arm the Iraqis was “spearheaded” by CIA Director William Casey and involved his deputy, Robert Gates, according to Teicher’s affidavit. “The CIA, including both CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, knew of, approved of, and assisted in the sale of non-U.S. origin military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to Iraq,” Teicher wrote.
... But I can think of at least two good things about the guy, both of which give me at least a sliver of hope:
Tom Delay and the rest of the neocon nut bunch can't stand him (mainly because he doesn't appear to be down with their desire to attack Iran...)
Update: Let's add one more: Gates appears ready to align himself with moderate Republicans in Congress -- or what's left of them -- who up to now have been frozen out by the beguiled neocon believers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (a victory, by the way, for Andy Card, who apparently has been trying to steer his friend, the president, back from the brink for quite some time.) From the Times story today:
... A close friend of Mr. Gates’s described him as having been “clearly distraught over the incompetence of how the Iraq operation had been run.” The friend said Mr. Gates had returned from a recent visit to Baghdad expressing disbelief that Mr. Rumsfeld, whom Mr. Bush ousted Wednesday, had not responded more quickly to the rapid deterioration of security and that the president had not acted sooner to overhaul the management of the war.
Mr. Gates made his visit as a member of the Iraq Study Group, the commission that is preparing to make recommendations next month about overhauling Iraq strategy. Associates said that Mr. Gates had questioned military leaders there about whether more American troops in the capital could stem the violence, and whether the training of Iraqi troops could be overhauled.
“He didn’t take a view,” one colleague said of Mr. Gates. “But he understood the depth of the mess.” ...
Okay, now a prediction: the next resignation you will see will be Undersecretary of Defense for Inteligence Stephen Cambone, the man probably most responsible, after Rummy himself, for pushing the abusive tactics at Gitmo, and then exporting them to Abu Ghraib.
By the way, if you're unclear about the various options being weighed in Washington, the Independent has not only the options, but the pros and cons of each...
The Republicans lost the center, and are now essentially a Southern party. That's not a good thing for them. So what to do? Do they jettison the neocons to try and win back Independents? Do they flush the religious right for the same reason? But if they do that, don't they give up the bulk of their base?
I'll tell you, I'd much rather have the problems we Democrats face -- how to proceed with oversight in a way that doesn't overreach, how to bring back the middle class and end the corporate stranglehold on prosperity, achieve immigration reform and restore the Constututional balance between the executive and legislative branches. The Dems are poised for expansion, having won an opportunity to show the independents and moderates what they can do. We have a part of our base that wants things middle America doesn't care for, but I think that if the Dems can do job one: govern effectively, they can convince our own outliers that it's better to pursue the common good and leave things like gay marriage to the states.
On the other side, they have to fight their way out of the Confederacy, and deal with a lunatic fringe that can't afford to let them stray. Not a good look.
Flying way under the radar here in the U.S., where no one cares much about the Palestinians, is the recent battering of Gaza by Israeli artillery, including a recent strike that killed 18 civilians, including children. Now, Ehud Olmert finds himself in a familiar position, given the recent carnage in Lebanon -- he's explaining some pretty ugly realities...From the NYTimes:
BEIT HANUN, Gaza, Nov. 9 — Palestinians marched in anger and mourning on Thursday for 18 civilians killed by Israeli artillery — baring for cameras the battered faces of two dead children. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel offered to ease tensions by meeting the Palestinian president “anytime, anyplace.”
“I am very uncomfortable with this event,” Mr. Olmert said at a business conference in Tel Aviv. “I’m very distressed.”
Saying that he had personally investigated the artillery strike, which spurred Hamas to warn that it might resume suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, Mr. Olmert called the shelling Wednesday a “mistake” caused by technical failure. And he urged Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to meet with him immediately.
“He will be surprised when he will sit with me of how far we are prepared to go,” he said. “I can offer him a lot.”
He did not explain what he meant. But his words seemed to reflect deep embarrassment at the deaths, mostly of women and children. The strike was condemned around the world, but also by many Israelis who are concerned about the number of civilians killed in Israeli operations to curb rocket fire by Palestinian militants into Israel.
Mr. Olmert’s statement also seemed to reposition the deaths — the largest single loss of life among Palestinians in years — into the realm of politics.
Any discussion between the men would invariably center on the difficult question of prisoners. It is unclear, however, how far Mr. Olmert could move from his past insistence that an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants in June must be released before he would free hundreds of Palestinians from Israeli jails.
Mr. Abbas did not immediately respond to Mr. Olmert’s offer. But he has refused other such open-ended offers, saying that he wanted a concrete deal first on the prisoners and a meeting of “substance.”
On Thursday evening, the Israeli military issued its first detailed explanation of what went wrong with the shelling, saying an aiming radar had malfunctioned, causing the rounds to hit a cluster of civilians’ houses.
Maj. Avital Leibovich, an army spokeswoman, said that a first volley of 13 shells had been aimed at an orange grove concealing rocket launchers and landed just under a mile away from the houses. A second barrage of 11 rounds, she said, was “aimed 400 meters away from where they hit.”
“What we know from aerial photos is that two houses were hit directly,” she said. “Our estimate is that 5 or 6 shells of the 11 hit two houses.”
She added that, as is standard practice, the system was tested on targets before being used and that it had functioned properly.
Thousands of Palestinians, waving banners and shooting guns, returned to the shrapnel-scarred houses on Thursday with the bodies of the victims, carried on stretchers and wrapped in the yellow flags of the Fatah Party, led for decades by Yasir Arafat and now by Mr. Abbas. Women wailed and screamed for revenge: “Martyrs by the millions!” they chanted. “We are going to Jerusalem!”
Many of the dead were completely covered. But family members exposed the faces of two toddlers, the youngest victims — sisters named Maisa and Maram Athamnah, — as they held their bodies over their heads for the crowd and cameras to see.
“How was this baby guilty?” asked Kamal Hamdan, 43, after one of the bodies was paraded past him.
The bodies were carried to a new cemetery and buried in a single row, the two girls in the same concrete tomb as their mother, Manal, 25. The mood was furious, with many people saying they believed that Palestinians should intensify their attacks on Israel, civilians included.
William Safire has many talents. He's a quite good wordsmith, an excellent defender of the indefensible, and a master of neocon spin. Apparently, he's also a master illusionist. Consider Safire's latest NYT column, in which he abracadabra's "bipartisanship" into something altogether different: ramming through the same moldered, defeated agenda the American people soundly rejected on Tuesday...
Now the president should take the Democratic leaders up on their fine post-election expressions of bipartisanship. He’s headed to Asia for an economic meeting in Hanoi. In its lame-duck session beginning next week, Congress should pass the $67 million earmark to Vietnam called for by Bush primarily for AIDS treatment. Then he should seize the initiative to get some cooperation on domestic progress during the final days of the outgoing, unlamented 109th Congress. In addition to the usual budgetary housekeeping between Thanksgiving and Christmas, both parties should make a concerted effort to deal with the most doable urgent domestic need: to resolve the fears of 12 million Hispanic “illegals” living in the United States.
Bush has already proposed a comprehensive compromise: a guest worker program with earnable citizenship for those here now, as well as a border fence to stop the influx of Mexicans. But Republicans — fearful of nativist voters shouting “no amnesty” — passed only the harsh half, and that unfunded fence is a joke. Now Bush, with many Democrats already supporting his approach, should get recalcitrant Republicans to pass his fair-minded immigration package. It would be a test of both new Republican discipline and Democrats’ sincerity on bipartisanship.
The window of bipartisan compromise can also fit a minimum wage increase tied to inheritance tax reduction; energy drilling tied to mileage standards and alternative fuels subsidy. But the window won’t be open long. That’s because the committees of the 110th Congress will be headed by the liberal Old Bulls eager to pass “one-house bills” useful only to provide hearings and make headlines.
So... the president should "seize the moment" to glom an inheritance tax cut onto the minimum wage hike ... something he and his cronies in the do-nothing 109th Congres tried and failed ... then he should ram through his fundie friends' sham AIDS program to give those poor Vietnamese some good old fashioned abstinence training (no condoms, please...) and he should resuscitate the same immigration "reform" package he couldn't get passed the first time?
It would be funny if it weren't so insane.
Or maybe it's not insane. It seems Bush and his menagerie are thinking along the same lines. Yesterday, Bush kicked off his "bipartisanship" drive by calling on the current Congress to ram through the doomed Bolton nomination during a lame duck session the Bush team hops will be packed full of America-shredding goodness:
Bush, after meeting with congressional Republican leaders Thursday, urged Congress to pass spending bills, come together on pending offshore drilling legislation, act to legalize his warrantless eavesdropping program and approve a U.S.-India nuclear pact.
... you mean India gets the nukes and we get the mangoes? Mmmmmmm. And the government will be able to listen in on us as we much away! Goody!
And what would be the incentive of already DOA Republicans to help Bush out? After all, he committed the ultimate act of selfishness by hanging onto Don Rumsfeld only long enough to screw his own party for the midterms, and apparently the GOPers aren't pleased are pissed. So they should give him more power to wiretap, let his family members and friends drill up the Florida coastline and hand India the keys to the nuclear kingdom ... why?
Meanwhile on the other side, the Dems are mercifully making the necessary deals to spare the country a messy leadership fight to kick off their era of leadership. Good news.
Lose an election ... become the chairman of the RNC... is that the formula? And how can Michael Steele vie for the job as head of the Republican Party after running for the Senate as an undercover GOPer whose bumper stickers read "Steele Democrat"...? Not to mention the idea of putting a Black man in charge of a party that targeted Black voters for disenfranchisement and intimidation with abandon during Tuesday's elections... Update: apparently, Black voters in Maryland weren't exactly fooled by Steele, or his high profile Black supporters... I think it's time to retire the idea that you can poach 25%-30% of the Black vote by shoving a Black Republican out front.
Could there be any richer irony than a recount ... in Florida ... for the seat vacated by Katherine Harris?
THIS ONE IS PRETTY EASY TO EXPLAIN. Republicans lost the House and probably the Senate because of Iraq, corruption, and a record of taking up big issues and then doing nothing on them. Of these, the war was by far the biggest factor. Unpopular wars trump good economies and everything else. President Truman learned this in 1952, as did President Johnson in 1968. Now, it was President Bush's turn, and since his name wasn't on the ballot, his party took the hit.
The defeat for Republicans was short of devastating--but only a little short. The House seats the party lost in New York and Connecticut and Pennsylvania will be hard to win back. Just as Republicans have locked in their gains in the South over the past two decades, Democrats should be able to solidify their hold on seats in the Northeast, as the nation continues to split sharply along North-South lines.
What should worry Republicans most, however, is erosion of its strength in the West and in two states in particular: Colorado and Arizona. Fours years ago, Colorado was solidly Republican. Since then, Democrats have won a Senate seat, two House seats, the governorship, and both houses of the state legislature. At the state level, that's realignment.
Yes it is. (We have Dr. Larry Korb on the radio show right now, and he just said that had it not been for gerrymandering, the Dems would have won even more seats. I concur... And one good point Barnes makes is that the notion that Dems won by fielding "conservative" candidates across the board is so much hype. Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer did a great job of fielding the appropriate candidate for each individual race, including liberal, anti-war candidates for Maryland, Rhode Island and of all places Ohio, where the winner, Sherrod Brown, is also strongly pro-labor, and conservative ones for Pennsylvania, North Carolina and out West. And even I've got to admit that Howard Dean's 50 state strategy is looking pretty smart this morning...) And now that the "realignment" has occurred, what does Nancy Pelosi owe the Black Caucus? And if she denies Conyers, Rangel and Thompson, the chairmanships their seniority entitles them to, will African-Americans rebel?
Meanwhile, it now appears that young voters got 'er done. Nice! And If Drudge's leaked numbers are correct: 31,591,495 (D) vs. 25,054,569 (R) ... the Dems' 6 million vote advantage is proof positive that what happened on Tuesday wasn't a marginal victory, it was a clear message to the president, who now has just two years to salvage some scraps of a legacy.
Ivo Daadler of Brookings is looking hellafied prophetic today.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Triumphant U.S. congressional Democratic leaders began to flex their new political muscle on Wednesday by urging President George W. Bush to host a bipartisan summit on the Iraq war and find common ground with them on such domestic issues as education and health care.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said the American people voted for change in Tuesday's elections.
"I hope that he (Bush) will listen," Pelosi said at a news news conference after receiving a congratulatory telephone call from Bush, who also called Reid.
"I told him (Bush) what I said last night -- that I looked forward to working in a bipartisan way with him, that the success of the president is always good for the country and I hoped that we could work together for the American people," Pelosi said.
Reid said: "It is time to put partisanship aside and find a new way forward - at home and in Iraq. Today, I ask the president to convene a bipartisan Iraq summit with the leaders of Congress."
The left won't like it, ironically the right, which is licking its wounds right now, might. But the key is, the middle will love it. And that's what matters. This is about winning over the mainstream, and right now the mainstream wants bipartisanship and action, not partisanship and fighting. Bush's advisors have figured it out, too. I think the Karl Rovian strategy of hammering the opposition and constantly stoking the base -- making everything hardcore political, even 9/11 ... is basically over.
On the other hand... make no mistake ... the Democrats will not be allowed to shrink from their responsibility to do due oversight, and to provide answers to the American people on some of the most fundamental questions of what has gone wrong, particularly regarding Iraq, and the apparent profiteering of American companies in that theater. There will be hearings. But I think the Dems will wait a while, until after they've had some time to govern, and to get right to the issues that matter to the widest plurality of voters. They will hold hearings on Iraq, and on key economic issues. But don't expect impeachment to commence on January 22nd. The Dems want to start pulling America back from the brink, and they can't do it by stepping on the accelerator.
ow, I mentioned to you at the conclusion of the previous hour that people having been asking me how I feel all night long. I got, "Boy, Rush, I wouldn't want to be you tomorrow! Boy, I wouldn't want to have to do your show! Oh-ho. I'm so glad I'm not you." Well, folks, I love being me. (I can't be anybody else, so I'm stuck with it.) The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I'm going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, "Well, why have you been doing it?" Because the stakes are high! Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country's than the Democrat Party and liberalism does.
I believe my side is worthy of victory, and I believe it's much easier to reform things that are going wrong on my side from a position of strength. Now I'm liberated from having to constantly come in here every day and try to buck up a bunch of people who don't deserve it, to try to carry the water and make excuses for people who don't deserve it. I did not want to sit here and participate, willingly, in the victory of the libs, in the victory of the Democrat Party by sabotaging my own. But now with what has happened yesterday and today, it is an entirely liberating thing. If those in our party who are going to carry the day in the future -- both in Congress and the administration -- are going to choose a different path than what most of us believe, then that's liberating. I don't say this with any animosity about anybody, and I don't mean to make this too personal.
'm not trying to tell you that this is about me. I'm just answering questions that I've had from people about how I feel. There have been a bunch of things going on in Congress, some of this legislation coming out of there that I have just cringed at, and it has been difficult coming in here, trying to make the case for it when the people who are supposedly in favor of it can't even make the case themselves -- and to have to come in here and try to do their jobs. I'm a radio guy! I understand what this program has become in America and I understand the leadership position it has. I was doing what I thought best, but at this point, people who don't deserve to have their water carried, or have themselves explained as they would like to say things but somehow aren't able to? I'm not under that kind of pressure.
I was actually listening to a bit of this today, and it's really amazing. This guy really sees nothing ironic about admitting that he has been schilling for the GOP all these years, but that now that they're losers, he feels "free" to quit pimping his listeners by feeding them Republican talking points he apparently doesn't even believe in. Wow. A lucid listener might inquire of Mr. Limbaugh -- "just how much of what you've been feeding us over the last six years is GOP ass-covering bullshit ... exactly...?"
Now that we have a SecDef nominee, let's get a bit of reaction. First, Rand Beers:
Responding to the news of the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Network President Rand Beers called it a “welcome development that is long overdue.” Beers said, “It has been clear for some time now that Donald Rumsfeld was not the right man to lead the Pentagon. We need someone who is able to develop alternatives to the present failing strategy and Donald Rumsfeld had blinkers on and would not change course.”
“The National Security Network is pleased that the President has heard the message from yesterday’s elections about the need for new leadership at the Pentagon. While a change of personnel is important,” Beers pointed out, “what is really important is that we have a change in policy in Iraq.”
On the nomination of Robert Gates to replace Rumsfeld, Beers said, “We all look forward to the debate about how to move forward in Iraq. The country needs to hear from Bob Gates about his ideas as well as those of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group of which he is a member.”
Robert Michael Gates (born September 25, 1943) is an American intelligence official, currently nominated by President George W. Bush for the position of United States Secretary of Defense. Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council. Under President George H.W. Bush, he served as Director of Central Intelligence. After leaving the CIA, he wrote his memoirs and became president of Texas A&M University, serving on several corporate boards. Gates served as a member of the bipartisan commission headed by James A. Baker III, the Iraq Study Group, that has been studying the Iraq campaign.
It's clear that Gates is an old crony of his fellow former Company man, George Herbert Walker Bush (in fact, he served as director of the CIA during the end of Bush I's term.) And the Texas A&M connection shouldn't be missed. When in doubt, Bushes turn to the family, including extended family and friends. That's fine. Gates is likely someone Bush will feel comfortable with, and to be frank, I'd much rather see him draw from his family's coterie of advisors than from Dick Cheney's, which is where we got Don Rumsfeld. It's a sign that perhaps Dubya is, at long last, getting serious about wrestling his presidency out of the hands of Cheney and his band of warmongering neocons. Unless I hear something really horrible about this guy, I'm inclined to say "good show, Dubya," and now let's get on with it.
Update: The new guy may also come with some refreshing, non-neoconservative thinking on Iran.
President Bush is giving his 1:00 news conference now, and announcing the long-awaited end of the tenure of Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld. I'm sure the troops, and the vast majority of the country, are feeling a great sense of relief right now. Bush says he's going to nominate current Texas A&M president Bob Gates, whom I'll presume is yet another Bush family friend. Whatever. He can't possibly be worse than Rummy. (Update, Gates is also a member of the Iraq Study Group, along with Lee Hamilton and James Baker.)
Bush is talking about putting the partisanship behind us. Pity that he is the one who injected the partisanship into the debate on national security in the first place. (A reporter just point out that last week, Mr. Bipartisanship was saying that the Democrats strategy is "terrorists win, America loses.") If the president is serious, he should start by calling off his rabid dogs from Fox News, wingnut radio and the whackosphere. But indications that Rove and Co. are already fighting the next political war (2008) don't sound promising. American democracy has beaten this president once, yesterday. If he wants to keep on fighting, I think we the people can take him.
Bush is also admitting that he told reporters last week that Rummy was staying on ad infinitum just because it sounded good at the time, and plus he really hadn't thought about it. Oh, and Bob Gates was always going to be the nominee. Or maybe he didn't know that at the time. What a rube.
Bush also finally acknowledged that this election was a referendum on Iraq. So is it still "full speed ahead," election be damned, as Dick Cheney told ABC last week? David Gregory just pitched that one. Bush brushed off the Cheney comments and is now reiterating that he's never been about "staying the course," adding that maybe he should have explained himself better. Ya think?
Should we expect a different leadership style, a NYT reporter just asked? Bush started with "um" -- is that a no? Now he's saying that in order to get something done, "we've got to work with the Democrats." He adds that "no question Iraq had something to do with" the drubbing his party just took across the country (with the exception of the old Confederate states.) He's really not answering the question, and to tell you the truth, he's really starting to bug me. How much time are we required to spend listening to lame duck presidents?
One note of, I think, clarity. Bush says he had his first conversation with Rumsfeld on the latter's departure last night. He says he didn't announce his intent to leave earlier because Bush hadn't found a replacement yet. Does that mean Bush has been looking for a replacement and not sharing that fact with the SecDef? That would be interesting.
1:43 - Richard Wolffe just nailed Bush on saying now that Democratic leaders care as much about the security of the country as he does, while during the campaign he said just the opposite. Bush's response was basically a non-response, saying he disagreed with them and their "tactics" in "not giving us the tools" to fight terrorism. Blah blah blah.
The weekend before the election, conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan famously said that we were not so much facing an election on November 7 as an intervention. Now that the intervention has taken place in the House, big time, and apparently in the Senate too, the verdict from around the world is pretty damned clear:
America has spoken, George Bush told the nation this morning two years ago, and it had given him its trust and his confidence. He would continue his policies at home and abroad, buoyed by the public's endorsement. Now, two years further on, America has spoken again - but this time in a very different tone and with the opposite conclusion, issuing a direct warning to the leader it re-elected 24 months ago to change his policy in Iraq. The cheering can be heard not just in America itself but around the planet.
So will Bush remain inside the bunker, or will he accept the lesson of history -- that divided government isn't just good for the country, it's also good for the president (ask Bill Clinton, who got more done with the Newt Gingrich Congress than the Democratic one, even with the ridiculous spectacle of impeachment ... and Reagan didn't do too badly with a House of Representatives run by Tip O'Neil...) Or will he burrow into his inner mental prison, and continue to espouse delusional neoconisms about Iraq? Will he finally repudiate the psychotic neocons who have, by now, almost universally repudiated him? And will he finally embrace old fashioned conservative principles, like smaller government (as opposed to Orwellian government that listens to your phonecalls and sneek and peaks your home before whisking you off to a secret prison with no lawyer...) rather than outlandish BGC (big government conservative) ones?
We shall see.
The wingers are sneering this morning about what the Democrats think they're gonna do. My question is, WWDD... what will Dubya do?
President George W. Bush plans to respond to last night's Republican wipeout with a combination of conciliation and firmness that is unlikely to pacify an empowered and emboldened opposition. Aides say that beginning with an appearance in the East Room this afternoon, Bush will try to cast the blue wave as an opportunity rather than a defeat, and will vow to plunge ahead with transformative goals like reworking the Social Security system for fiscal longevity. "The same group of problems are there," White House Press Secretary Tony Snow tells TIME. "You just will have some different people in the leadership. We have an opportunity to have an activist last two years of this Presidency, which will be good for the country." Snow, who worked conservative talk radio for three hours yesterday afternoon, said Democrats now "have to decide whether they're going to be part of the solution, or are going to try to shut down the government for two years and point fingers at the President."
Snow said the President plans "an up-front focus on issues where we can get things done and on matters of significant shared interest, if not agreement." When Bush was Texas Governor and running for President back in 2000, supporters often pointed to his jocular and productive relations with Democrats in the legislature as signs that he could be what the campaign called "a uniter, not a divider."
"The accurate model for this White House will be the Texas experience, where he worked effectively with Democrats, to their mutual benefit," Snow said. But officials in both parties say that will be awfully hard to replicate in this atmosphere. The President does plan to have incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi over to the White House this week, but a broad charm offensive by White House officials is unlikely. "They're not in the mood for it, and they don't think it would work," said one close adviser.
One move that could buy the President good will with the Hill and the public would be the departure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and many people close to Bush hope that happens sooner rather than later. "He has screwed the President," said a loyal member of the Bush team who rarely speaks so bluntly. The President said when asked last week that Rumsfeld would serve the rest of the term, but officials say Bush really could not have said anything else, and that is in no way a guarantee that Rumsfeld will still be running the Pentagon at noon on Jan. 20, 2009, when Bush's successor takes office.
Fasten your seatbelts.
Update: The Wizbangers catalogue the winger pain. Hey, at least they're not threatening to move to Canada ... or is that "unfortunately..." And here's one reason why I love trackbacks: through them, I found this quite intelligent, if downhearted post from what appears to be an old fashioned paleoconservative. Boy, do I miss those guys...
All jokes aside, and putting aside my partisanship for just a second, George W. Bush has an historic opportunity to salvage the remaining two years of his presidency. A Congress that won't behave like a babysitter who fell asleep will help focus the administration's policies, by actually forcing them to debate them. Having a rubber stamp Congress that behaves as so many butlers and maids may feel good to the officious president, but it actually is harmful to the presidency. The checks and balances built into our system are there for a reason. They're there to modify the worst impulses of the executive, which unchecked will tilt toward tyranny, no matter who is in office. And it helps to put the breaks on a runaway Congress when the executive is willing to use the veto -- not signing statements -- to actually put a stop to bad law (as opposed to signing bills with your fingers crossed.) With a Congress in the opposition -- if they're willing to work with him rather than spend a lot of time exacting payback on the debauched, spendthrift, power-mad jackasses in charge of the other party, who amused themselves by doing things like consigning Democrats to the basement for hearings, or refusing to let them read bills before they went to the floor -- vindictive shit like that just cries out for payback ... then you might actually get one or two good ideas through. Otherwise, you could get gridlock, which believe me, is better than the stench of bad policy farting all over our Constitution.
If, on the other hand, the Bush administration continues to situate itself for war with the other party, thinking only of 2008 and not of the country, then we're in for a hell of an ugly showdown. What I actually hope is that Bush will finally listen to his earthly father, and get some help from the camp that actually has his interests at heart -- genuine conservatives and Bush I accolytes, rather than the claque of Cheney-led neocons who are mostly in it for themselves, their ridiculous ideology, which centers strangely on picking fights with Muslims, and all the lucre they can gwok. Rid yourself of them, Mr. President. You'll be glad you did.
Jim Talent conceded the MO Senate race to Claire McCaskill at around 2:00 a.m. One down, three to go. And the Canvass begins today in Virginia. I can't imagine Webb not winning it.
The biggest disappointment of the night: Harold Ford fell short. He remains the most impressive young Democrat in the country in my estimation, and I hope he continues to pursue national politics. Great race, man. Unfortunately, there's only so much you can do in Dixie.
The Massachusetts gubernatorial race produced a terrific outcome: congratulations to Deval Patrick and his campaign team.
I'll try to sleep lightly, though, in case Missouri and Montana come in soon. Plus I have to be up in two hours to get to the radio station. (sigh). But damnit, it was worth being tired!
James Carville (on CNN) is saying that he's hearing from the Webb campaign that there are 33,000 uncounted votes in Fairfax County, which apparently is a Dem stronghold. Either way, Webb goes into the morning on top, even by a little bit. As I'm closing out, it looks like both Tester and McCaskill are slightly ahead. (And yes, Harold Ford Jr. is a "rock star." No doubt.)
om WH spokesperson Emily Lawrimore: "Karl has informed the president that they've lost the majority in the House. He's obviously disappointed, but he's eager to work with Congress on his priorities and issues important to Americans." The president called NRCC chair Tom Reynolds tonight, but that was his only call. He's not talked to Hastert or Pelosi. He'll make those calls in the a.m.
And there will be lawsuits. Webb-Allen keeps flip-flopping and Michael Steele is preparing his sore loser lawsuits, to be sure, in the state where his party worked so hard to suppress the Black vote.
Meanwhile, Marilyn Musgrave is in a dog-fight, the marriage amendment appears assured of passage, the partner benefits bill will likely fail (if I know my Coloradans,) and the Dems could pick up a second House seat (besides Musgrave's.)
So far, the Dems have also picked up 28 governorships (Florida notwithstanding.)
NBC News is projecting that Democrats will pick up 29 seats (hm... I wonder what smart person projected that number ...) to retake control of the House of Representatives. Thus far, Dems have three of the six seats they need to take the Senate, although with Dixie holding strong for the GOP in Tennessee and Virginia, it'd not looking too damned likely.
CNN is being more cautious, only counting the 10 seats the Dems have in the bag for now. (BTW: Here's a good tracking chart courtesy of CNN.) The message of the night: the blue states are getting bluer, and the old Confederacy is almost all GOP.
We're still waiting on Montana and Missouri, as well as the probable recounts and lawsuits in TN and VA.
P.S., the House total could change ... upward.
Also, Michael Steele is refusing to concede the Senate seat in Maryland. The drama continues...
by the early returns. They aren't representative of how the races will ultimately shake out. That's especially for Florida voters who are seeing the early numbers for Crist v. Davis. I think it's fair to say that more affluent, "whiter" precincts tend to come in first, meaning most races skew in the early counting toward the GOP. That's not to say Davis will win -- I would still be surprised if he did (though pleasantly so). It's jus to say that the end isn't near. It isn't even close.
Update: Get rattled. Davis isn't going to pull it off.
In a Radio One interview on WKYS in Washington DC, Bill Clinton suspects that the literature that was handed to WKYS (host) EZ Street at a polling place in Maryland to be fradulent. In the attached interview, Bill Clinton requested that the Republican literature sent to his office for a thorough investigation.
Vermont - Sanders wins (I) in the Senate. Indiana - Richard Lugar (R) re-elected easily. Virginia - too early to call
Ted Strickland has given the Democrats one governorship they didn't have -- in Ohio.
Also, Robert Byrd easily reelected in West Virginia to his ninth term.
Sherrod Brown and Mike DeWine are too close to call.
No surprises here, Bill Nelson is projected to retain his Senate Seat in Florida, as will Olympia Snowe of Maine. Ditto Trent Lott of Mississippi.
It's also being projected that Deval Patrick of Massachusetts is set to become only the second African-American governor in U.S. history (shocking that that's true, but great news.) He wins after one of the nastiest, most racist campaigns run by a Republican this year. His opponent richly deserved to lose.
Bob Casey is now projected as the winner in Pennsylvania (bye-bye, Rick Santorum). That's 1 pick-up for the Dems.
And the Democrats have held onto the Senate seat in New Jersey, where Robert Menendez is now projected to win. Once again, New Jersey teases the reds, and then stays blue. So much for that strategy for attrition on the part of the GOP.
Sherrod Brown is now projected to have beaten Mike DeWine. That's +2 for the Dems.
And another point I think that will be made tomorrow, that the Democratic victories are also something of a repudiation of the left-wing base. That's not a dig at the netroots. I think it's just an emerging truth that the Dems repositioned themselves with much more centrist candidates, similar to the way Bill Clinton won it by triangulation in 1992 and 1996.
Maryland is in, and sorry, Michael Steele afficionados, he just didn't have it in him. Congratulatins to Ben Cardin, and to the Dems, who now have picked up 3 seats. My take: Steele didn't deserve to win for a party that has worked so hard to intimidate and disenfranchise Black voters. Good riddance to him, and to Ken Blackwell and Lynn Swann. That's not a net pick-up since it was already a Democratic seat, but it's a good win and I'm sooooo happy about it.
Breaker: The Webb-Macaca race has tightened the hell up. With 78.88% of precincts reporting, it's 49.72% for Allen to 49.08% for Jim Webb. And if you go down the ticket, this is a redder than red state. All of the Republican candidates down ticket are winning by two to one margins. So for Webb to be this close is extraordinary.
Hell yes! CNN is projecting that Sheldon Whitehouse will defeat Linc Chafee in Rhode Island. Chafee isn't a bad sort, but he is a victim of his party label tonight. It's just not good to be a Republican in the state that detests President Bush the most. That's Dems +3 folks. Two more's the charm! The Dems need three of four in Missouri, Montana, Virginia and Tennessee to take the Senate. It's going to be a tight squeeze, with Old Dixie hanging tough in Tennessee and VA.
Another update, here in Florida in the 16th District, where Mark Foley skulked out of Congress and into rehab, Joe Negron, Foley's stand-in, is behind Democrat Tim Mahoney with a small number of precincts reporting. But what's significant about that is that Florida's vote counting gets more Democratic the later into the night you go. That's because, as I said in another post, the northern, more Republican, whiter districts always come in first, with Democrat-leaning South Florida bringing up the rear. And you can't call anything until Miami-Dade and Broward come in, and that's typically late.
Back to Florida. NBC News is calling the governor's race for Charlie Crist. I'm sure his camp is feeling quite happy and gay tonight ... ahem. In Florida 22, Clay Shaw (the Republican whose final campaign ads touted his work with Bill Clinton, for god's sakes,) is behind the Democrat, Ron Klein 47% to 51% with 57% reporting, The Democrat, Tim Mahoney is just ahead of the Mark Foley stand-in, Joe Negron, 49% to 48%. It also looks like the Republican, Vern Buchanan, is on track to win Katherine Harris' old seat.
The Dems have picked up seats in North Carolina (Shuler) and Florida (Mahoney beat the Foley guy). They also have pick-ups in Kentucky, for a total of 8 at this count. One more just came in, as CNN projects the Dems will pick up a GOP House seat in Pennsylvania.
In Florida, we knocked off Clay Shaw and the Mark Foley seat to add two to the mix, and we picked up one statewide/cabinet office, the CFO Alex Sink. I guess Floridians are at least smart enough not to trust Republicans with their money. But voters here did deliver the governor's mansion into the hands of big insurance companies, big sugar and other mega-industries (Crist's backers). And they passed an amendment, Amendment 3, which will strip them -- the voters -- of much of their power to amend the state constitution by petition. Brilliant, guys. Oh, the joys of living in a red state.
I'm going with Democrats picking up 29 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate (Missouri, Montana, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, with a possible seventh seat in Virginia.) Unfortunately, I'm not too confident Harold Ford will overcome the underlying white backlash vote for Corker.
Courtesy of ThinkProgress, here are some early exit poll results for the U.S. Senate:
D: 52 R: 47
D: 53 R: 46
D: 57 R: 42
D: 57 R: 43
D: 52 R: 45
D: 53 R: 46
D: 50 R: 48
D: 53 R: 46
D: 48 R: 51
D: 46 R: 50
And not a good sign: early exit polls show 6 in 10 voters disapprove of the job President Bush is doing, and the c-word, corruption ... figures surprisingly prominently among voters. Not good signs for the GOP.
For whatever it's worth, I dropped by a couple of polling places in West Broward County -- a heavily Democratic area (with nothing but Crist signs along the roadways, interestingly enough...) and was told that traffic had been "phenomenal all day long" and "consistently heavy." Then I was listening to one of our winger local radio hosts, and he telephoned his wife to find out how her voting went, and she said there was no line at all, and she was able to get in and out. Given that he's a right winger, I'm assuming he lives in a conservative, Republican-leaning neighborhood. So that's good news, I think.
Meanwhile, we're hearing rampant stories of Republi-fraud down here, from flyers being circulated with a Democratic slate but all Republican punch numbers (the old bait and switch) to robo-calls telling Black voters to come out to the polls on Wednesday, (that from an African-American caller to the morning show today) to the robo-calls going on around the country with the "false flag" hang-up. The GOP is playing especially dirty this year, and once again, they're targeting Black precincts here in Florida. At this point, I'm about spitting mad, and embarassed for any Black person who has aligned themselves with this sorry, corrupt party. Shame on them, and if you're them, then shame on you.
Meanwhile, over on the Ditzbag Laura Ingraham show, you've got to wonder whether there are any lawyers in the building. I heard this on Ed Schultz's show today, but ThinkProgress has the goods:
DEAN (recorded): We have a hotline — 1 888 DEM VOTE — anybody can call that. If they feel like there are voting irregularities, we’ll send some folks over to the polling place in a matter of minutes.
(Phone ringing) OPERATOR: Leave a message with your question or press pound to be transferred at no extra charge to your local election protection team or the state Democratic Party. (Dialing) Your call cannot be completed at this time. Please try your call again later.
INGRAHAM: Wait a second! So — (Laughter) you call 1 888 DEM VOTE — otherwise ‘Dim Bulb Vote’ or ‘Dumb Vote’ — and all you do is get tranferred to muzak, then they cut you off. This is what I’m thinking. Tell me if you think I’m crazy. This is what I’m thinking. I think we all need to call 1 888 DEM VOTE all at the same time. And, by the way, when you call, when you call the number — and remember, it’s ‘Dem Vote’ not ‘Dumb Vote’ — when you call the number, as we did, and we got transferred, transferred, then we just got hung up upon. You know, we’re supposed to have these election teams within a matter of minutes, they’re supposed to be coming to the polls. Can you imagine what those people look like? Halloween all over again. So if you have trouble with the poll, you’re supposed to call, via 1 888 ‘Dumb Vote,’ and this is what you get.
Attention, Laura, you ignorant ... okay, let's leave it at that ... phone jamming is a felony, punishable by five to ten in the federal pen. Care to ask the last guy who tried it (in New Hampshire?)
I am now utterly convinced that the GOP is a party bereft of ideas, and left only with fraud, abuse and intimidation to try and sleaze its way to holding on to power. It's a disgrace.
Update: MoveOn is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to a voter fraud conviction related to this election.
Iran-Contra happened because Ollie North and others in the Reagan White House conspired, illegally, to help the Contras militant group overthrow Marxist then-president Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. Now, Ortega is poised to become the president of that country.
TPM Muckraker is all over this story, but here's a bit more information about Conquest Communications Group (courtesy of Google's glorious cached pages...)
Conquest Communications group was founded in 1997 with the goal of being the premier national provider of direct contact and message consulting services, and our talented staff continues to pursue this goal today.
Please read more about our management team in the bios section of our site. If you would like to find out more about Conquest, please call us at 804-358-0560 or contact us online.
Conquest's offices are located at:
2812 Emerywood Parkway, Suite 103 Richmond, Virginia 23294 Ph. - 804-358-0560 Fax - 804-213-0797
But then, I'm sure the Justice Department investigators already know where they are.
Also, New Hampshire has ordered the robo-calls there to stop.
The National Republican Congressional Committee agreed on Sunday to stop calling homes on the registry after a citizen complained to the state attorney general. Under New Hampshire law, political campaigns can contact people on the do-not-call list, but cannot use automated recordings.
The calls criticize Democratic congressional challenger Paul Hodes, who is locked in a tight race against Republican Rep. Charles Bass (news, bio, voting record).
Bass issued a statement Sunday asking all outside groups to stop the calls and said he was pleased that the NRCC had agreed.
But a spokesman for Hodes said the calls also violate a Federal Communications Commission rule that says automated calls must identify their source at the beginning of the message.
Cue the criminal probe. I mean, haven't these idiots ever heard of this guy?
Update: The FBI is investigating reports of voter intimidation in Virginia, stemming from yet more voter misdirection calls. Also, on the radio this morning, we talked to an African-American voter who said he got one of the calls, urging him not to forget to vote ... on Wednesday.
If you live in one of these districts, including Florida 13 and 16, beware of these fake robo-calls. The RNCC is up to its old dirty tricks, so beware! Here's the complete list of targeted precincts, courtesy of TPM Cafe:
1. Opposes Candidate: BROWN FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, California District 04 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $3838.98 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $5032.14 Purpose: Phone Banks
2. Opposes Candidate: MELISSA BEAN FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, Illinois District 08 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $3757.92 Purpose: Phone Banks Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $2785.50 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $3806.28 Purpose: Phone Banks
3. Opposes Candidate: CHRISTINE JENNINGS FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, Florida District 13 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $6679.98 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $4657.50 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $6697.08 Purpose: Phone Banks
4. Opposes Candidate: JOHN HALL FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, New York District 19 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $6460.08 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $3166.68 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $6496.86 Purpose: Phone Banks
5. Opposes Candidate: KELLAM FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, Virginia District 02 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $4128.84 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $3049.74 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $3049.74 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $4089.42 Purpose: Phone Banks
6. Opposes Candidate: WEAVER FOR CONGRESS 2006 Office Sought: House of Representatives, Kentucky District 02 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $1510.74 Purpose: Phone Banks
7. Opposes Candidate: FRIENDS OF JIM MARSHALL Office Sought: House of Representatives, Georgia District 08 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $1865.94 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $2703.42 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $4163.22 Purpose: Phone Banks
8. Opposes Candidate: FRIENDS OF DAN MAFFEI Office Sought: House of Representatives, New York District 25 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $4911.60 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $2491.92 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $4799.94 Purpose: Phone Banks
9. Opposes Candidate: FRIENDS OF JOHN BARROW Office Sought: House of Representatives, Georgia District 12 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $4533.18 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $2401.08 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $4538.52 Purpose: Phone Banks
10. Opposes Candidate: BOSWELL FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, Iowa District 03 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $3275.34 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $2613.00 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $3277.56 Purpose: Phone Banks
11. Opposes Candidate: FRIENDS OF TAMMY DUCKWORTH Office Sought: House of Representatives, Illinois District 06 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $3046.86 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $2496.24 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $3031.98 Purpose: Phone Banks
12. Opposes Candidate: HEATH SHULER FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, North Carolina District 11 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $2949.12 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $2936.34 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $2970.66 Purpose: Phone Banks
13. Opposes Candidate: LUCAS FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, Kentucky District 04 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $4059.66 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $3377.22 Purpose: Phone Banks Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $3623.40 Purpose: Phone Banks
14. Opposes Candidate: TIM MAHONEY FOR FLORIDA Office Sought: House of Representatives, Florida District 16 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $3877.20 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $6201.00 Purpose: Phone Banks
15. Opposes Candidate: COMMITTEE TO ELECT CHRIS MURPHY Office Sought: House of Representatives, Connecticut District 05 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $4247.16 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $3291.18 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/01/2006 Amount Expended = $4273.56 Purpose: Phone Banks
16. Opposes Candidate: NANCY BOYDA FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, Kansas District 02 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $4093.74 Purpose: Phone Banks
17. Opposes Candidate: FARRELL FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, Connecticut District 04 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $3348.18 Purpose: Phone Banks
18. Opposes Candidate: PAUL HODES FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, New Hampshire District 02 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $5725.50 Purpose: Phone Banks
19. Opposes Candidate: KAGEN 4 CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, Wisconsin District 08 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $4710.54 Purpose: Phone Banks
20. Opposes Candidate: LOIS MURPHY FOR CONGRESS Office Sought: House of Representatives, Pennsylvania District 06 Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/03/2006 Amount Expended = $3558.54 Purpose: Phone Banks Payee: CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Date Expended = 11/02/2006 Amount Expended = $3539.58 Purpose: Phone Banks
Public sector corruption is rampant in nearly half of the 163 nations included in the annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released today by Transparency International, a Berlin-based private sector group that has issued the composite report on pubic corruption data for more than ten years.
Among industrialized nations with a serious and growing public corruption problem is the United States.
Iraq has sunk to the bottom of the list, ranking among the worst three of the 163 nation states surveyed. Only Myanmar and Haiti fare worse.
"While the industrialized countries score relatively high on the CPI 2006, we continue to see major corruption scandals in many of these countries," the organization noted in releasing its annual report. "The presence of willing intermediaries -- who are often trained in or who operate from leading economies -- encourages corruption; it means the corrupt know there will be a banker, accountant, lawyer or other specialist ready to help them generate, move or store their illicit income."
Bribery scandals, such as the Jack Abramoff case in the United States, often contribute to the perception of corruption, Transparency International noted.
The CPI is comprised of data from multiple expert opinion surveys that polled perceptions of public corruption.
"Countries with a significant worsening in perceived levels of corruption include: Brazil, Cuba, Israel, Jordan, Laos, Seychelles, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the United States. Countries with a significant improvement in perceived levels of corruption include: Algeria, Czech Republic, India, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Mauritius, Paraguay, Slovenia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uruguay," according to the report.
You can read the complete corruption findings here, courtesy of ABC News.
According to the study, the least corrupt country is Finland, according to the survey, and the most corrupt is Haiti. Iraq scored second from the bottom (the scale is 1 to 10, with Finland scoring a 9.6, Haiti scoring a 1.8 and Iraq scoring a 1.9. The U.S. was somewhere in the middle, scoring a 7/3.)
The Republicans are pulling out all the stops to hold onto power, including their usual bag of dirty tricks. Let's start with the robo calls... According to an email sent out this evening form Democrats.com:
Karl Rove has been bragging for weeks about his "72-hour program" to swing the elections, which predict a Democratic takeover of Congress.
Now we know what it is: a dirty trick campaign using robocalls.
The calls are made to Democrats and swing voters at all times of day or night to make them angry. And they pretend to be from the Democrat ("Hello, I'm calling with information about Lois Murphy"). If you hang up, they call back 7-8 times, and each time you hear the Democrat's name, to get you angry at him or her. If you stay on, you get to hear a scathing attack on the Democrat.
And from Talking Points Memo's Muckraker team, word that a caught GOP is a temporarily chastened GOP:
Indianapolis Star reports that the Indiana Republican party has cut ties to one of the firms responsible for harrassing GOP-sponsored robocalls. The state GOP fired Conquest Communications not because the firm's calls were necessarily harrassing, but because they were automated -- a violation of Indiana state law:
The Star reports that the Indiana GOP is also refusing to pay the company, not because the calls were harassing ... or illegal ... but because they were automated, and "that's not what [they] contracted for... Under Indiana law, all automated calls have to be first introduced by a live operator.
TPMM has more on the so-called "false flag" calls, which are targeting voters in some 20 districts, paid for by the Tom Reynolds RNCC:
om Hayhurst (IN-03) Jason Altmire (PA-04) Nick Lampson (TX-22) Bruce Braley (IA-01) Patricia Madrid (NM-01) Angie Paccione (CO-04) Joe Courtney (CT-02)
And according to TPMM, there are not one, but two firms involved. TPM also has news that Dems have sent the GOP a cease and desist letter.
Here in Florida, I'll bet Charlie Crist never figured he'd make national news for dissing the president... but he did. I'd hate to be the guy taking calls for his campaign tonght. Lox Around the Clock, baby...
PENSACOLA, Florida (AP) -- The White House did not hide its irritation Monday at Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist for ducking President Bush at a campaign rally in the Republican-friendly Panhandle.
Crist said he considered the Pensacola area so firmly in his camp that it made more sense to campaign elsewhere in the state as the race to replace outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush tightened.
On a tarmac in Texas where the president boarded Air Force One for the trip east, Bush political strategist Karl Rove mockingly questioned what kind of alternate rally Crist could put together that would rival the expected 10,000-person crowd that Bush was expected to draw at the Pensacola Civic Center.
The White House already had distributed schedules saying Crist would introduce Bush at the rally.
Crist's opponent, Democratic Rep. Jim Davis, seized on the news.
"Now that the president is so unpopular, Charlie refuses to stand side by side with him," Davis said. "It says when the going gets tough, Charlie won't stand up."
Crist's chief of staff, George LeMieux, said the candidate already has strong support in the heavily Republican Pensacola area and thought his time would be better spent campaigning elsewhere. LeMieux said the decision had nothing to do with the president's job approval ratings.
Jeb Bush will attend the Pensacola event in Crist's place. Rep. Katherine Harris, who is mounting a lukewarm challenge to Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, will also be with the president. Before the September primary, Republican leaders failed to support Harris.
Okay, so how does Katherine Harris manage to look foolish even when the story isn't about her? By only getting invited to be in the audience, rather than on stage with even a Cristless Bush.
Meanwhile, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is out with early vote and absentee numbers from Broward, Dade and Palm Beach, which show that Republicans continue to kick ass in absentee, while Dems appear to be stronger in the early vote game.
And move over Maryland! My radio-mate, Rev. Al Sharpton, makes news for his efforts to keep the Black vote at home in the Democratic Party.
In Tennessee, who do you believe on those curious polls? Especially since Mason Dixon never factored in the early vote.
is one thing to feel uneasy about your nation's war, or even to move to a position of outright opposition. It is another to face the harsh fact that the only way out of the war is to accept defeat. The goal of "peace with honor" assumes that the nation's honor has not already been squandered. During Vietnam, for all the widespread opposition to the war, the American public was never ready to face the full truth of what had been done in its name, and so the martial band played on. And on. The war ended not with a bang, but with a whimper, with the United States whining that somehow it had been the victim. Not incidental to the present disaster is the fact that the men dragging out that shameful last moment of Vietnam, when our nation's abject defeat was made plain for all the world to see, were Ford administration honchos Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.
Rumsfeld and Cheney are prepared to do it to their nation again. The question now is whether America will let them? The general uneasiness with the war in Iraq is mostly tied to how badly it has gone. Tactical and strategic planning have been bungled at every level, and the elusive enemy is yet to be understood in Washington. If the Democrats take power with the elections tomorrow, congressional hearings will have a lot of such questions to consider. But what about the moral question? For all of the anguish felt over the loss of American lives, can we acknowledge that there is something proper in the way that hubristic American power has been thwarted? Can we admit that the loss of honor will not come with how the war ends, because we lost our honor when we began it? This time, can we accept defeat?
Expect the right to hammer the Democrats with this one. But you know what? The writer, James Carroll, is probably right.
The man, who ruled Iraq with an iron fist for 35 years, was visibly shaking as he waited to learn his fate in what some had billed the trial of the century over the execution of 148 Shia villagers from the town of Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt on Saddam’s life.
Judge Rauf Abdel Rahman ordered: "Make him stand," as Saddam pleaded to guards: "Don't bend my arms. Don't bend my arms."
Saddam, dressed in a dark jacket and white shirt, harangued the tribunal’s chief judge as the judgment was read.
"You can’t decide. You are slaves. God is great. Life is for us and death for our enemies. Life for the nation, death for the enemies of our nation," Saddam said, visibly shaking, his face wrapped tightly in a scowl.
A court official held Saddam's hands behind his back as Rahman, shouting to be heard over the defendant, declared: "The highest penalty should be implemented."
One of his lawyers shouted bitterly that marshal in the visitors gallery was chewing gum and laughing at Saddam’s reversal of fortune.
Next, Barzan Ibrahim, Saddam's half brother and Iraq’s intelligence chief at the time of the Dujail killings, appeared in court. He stood quietly as the judge sentenced him to death.
Before Saddam and Barzan Ibrahim appeared, Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of the Revolutionary Court that issued the execution orders against Dujail residents, was sentenced to death. He screamed "Allahu Akhbar" (God is Great) as Rahman delivered his verdict. The judge flicked his wrist and ordered the guards to drag Bandar back to his cell.
Saddam’s former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan received a life sentence, while three Baath party officials from Dujail received up to 15 years each and a fourth, more junior figure, was cleared.
Meanwhile, the EU finds the whole thing rather unseemly.
Europe is laser focused on the U.S. elections. If the Republicans win, look for more "how could so many people be so stupid" headlines.
Next week Americans will vote for candidates who have spent much of their campaigns addressing state and local issues. But no future historian will linger over the ideas put forth for improving schools or directing funds to highway projects.
The meaning of this election will be interpreted in one of two ways: the American people endorsed the Bush presidency or they did what they could to repudiate it. Such an interpretation will be simplistic, even unfairly so. Nevertheless, the fact that will matter is the raw number of Republicans and Democrats elected to the House and Senate.
It should surprise few readers that we think a vote that is seen—in America and the world at large—as a decisive “No” vote on the Bush presidency is the best outcome. We need not dwell on George W. Bush’s failed effort to jam a poorly disguised amnesty for illegal aliens through Congress or the assaults on the Constitution carried out under the pretext of fighting terrorism or his administration’s endorsement of torture. Faced on Sept. 11, 2001 with a great challenge, President Bush made little effort to understand who had attacked us and why—thus ignoring the prerequisite for crafting an effective response. He seemingly did not want to find out, and he had staffed his national-security team with people who either did not want to know or were committed to a prefabricated answer.
As a consequence, he rushed America into a war against Iraq, a war we are now losing and cannot win, one that has done far more to strengthen Islamist terrorists than anything they could possibly have done for themselves. Bush’s decision to seize Iraq will almost surely leave behind a broken state divided into warring ethnic enclaves, with hundreds of thousands killed and maimed and thousands more thirsting for revenge against the country that crossed the ocean to attack them. The invasion failed at every level: if securing Israel was part of the administration’s calculation—as the record suggests it was for several of his top aides—the result is also clear: the strengthening of Iran’s hand in the Persian Gulf, with a reach up to Israel’s northern border, and the elimination of the most powerful Arab state that might stem Iranian regional hegemony.
The war will continue as long as Bush is in office, for no other reason than the feckless president can’t face the embarrassment of admitting defeat. The chain of events is not complete: Bush, having learned little from his mistakes, may yet seek to embroil America in new wars against Iran and Syria.
Meanwhile, America’s image in the world, its capacity to persuade others that its interests are common interests, is lower than it has been in memory. All over the world people look at Bush and yearn for this country—which once symbolized hope and justice—to be humbled. The professionals in the Bush administration (and there are some) realize the damage his presidency has done to American prestige and diplomacy. But there is not much they can do.
There may be little Americans can do to atone for this presidency, which will stain our country’s reputation for a long time. But the process of recovering our good name must begin somewhere, and the logical place is in the voting booth this Nov. 7. If we are fortunate, we can produce a result that is seen—in Washington, in Peoria, and in world capitals from Prague to Kuala Lumpur—as a repudiation of George W. Bush and the war of aggression he launched against Iraq.
Meanwhile, Ledeen does his usual Snidely Whiplash act, and the other named neocons range from standing by their statements (Elliot Cohen) to trying to protect their White House pass (David Frum) back pedaling like hell (I was misquoted!!! ... says Frank Gaffney...)
In an election for Governor of Florida today, 11/5/06, 48 hours till polls close, Democrat Jim Davis has caught Republican Charlie Crist, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WFLA-TV Tampa, WTLV-TV Jacksonville, and WKRG-TV Pensacola. In September, Crist led by 8. In October, Crist Led by 13. Today, at the wire, Crist leads by 2, 49% to 47%, sufficiently within the poll's 3.8 percent margin of sampling error that the contest should now be re-classified as a toss-up. Momentum is with the Democrat, though neither SurveyUSA nor any other of the 8 other pollsters working this contest have shown Davis with a lead in 3 dozen opinion polls released since May 2006. Hold on to your hat. Among women, Crist had led by 9, now tied. Among men, Crist had led by 18, now leads by 4. Among older voters, Crist had led by 11, now tied. Among voters under age 50, tied. Among voters 50 to 64, tied. Crist leads among whites, and the Republican will need a lot of white votes to win. Davis leads among minorities. This final SurveyUSA poll assumes 82% of Florida likely voters are white. The more minorities who vote, the tougher it will be for Crist to take the Statehouse.
Good news for Davis, but with one day to go, turnout is still the key to this election. Does Davis have the ground game to pull it off? I still have my doubts.
Peter Hoekstra defines chutzpah, by blaming the New York Times for pointing out that he, Hoesktra, along with Bush lackey Pat Roberts of Kansas, had pushed for the publications of secret nuclear material.
From Section IIB of the 2000 election-ending majority decision in Bush v. Gore:
The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College. U. S. Const., Art. II, §1. This is the source for the statement in McPherson v. Blacker, 146 U. S. 1, 35 (1892), that the State legislature's power to select the manner for appointing electors is plenary; it may, if it so chooses, select the electors itself, which indeed was the manner used by State legislatures in several States for many years after the Framing of our Constitution. Id., at 28-33. History has now favored the voter, and in each of the several States the citizens themselves vote for Presidential electors. When the state legislature vests the right to vote for President in its people, the right to vote as the legislature has prescribed is fundamental; and one source of its fundamental nature lies in the equal weight accorded to each vote and the equal dignity owed to each voter. The State, of course, after granting the franchise in the special context of Article II, can take back the power to appoint electors. See id., at 35 ("[T]here is no doubt of the right of the legislature to resume the power at any time, for it can neither be taken away nor abdicated") (quoting S. Rep. No. 395, 43d Cong., 1st Sess.).
So who controls the state legislature matters. Incidentally, the slate of electors is signed by the governor of each state. And that means that whoever controls the governor's mansion matters, too.
... calling for Rumsfeld to get gone. Here it is and here's an exerpt:
For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don’t show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.
Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money.
And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand.
Now, the president says he’ll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.
This is a mistake. It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation’s current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.
These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.
And although that tradition, and the officers’ deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.
Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.
This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:
Donald Rumsfeld must go.
It will be interesting to see how many winger blogs even mention this editorial, and for those that do, how they spin this one to make their case that the military stands behind the war, behind Rumsfeld, and behind the president's strategy. After all, it's the Democrats who disdain the military, right? The right loves and listens to them. Right?
And by the way, winger faithful, before you decry the Military Times as the newest tool of the Bush-hating left, you might want to check out the Military City comment board, where most of the posters appear to agree with the editorial.
Meanwhile, the FReepers are in denial, and claiming that the editorial mentions only retired generals having had enough of Rummy. Note again...
For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don’t show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.
Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money. ...
...Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.
That's current serving military, guys, not just the retired generals. And the editorial mentions the criticism of the retired guys who remained silent "until safely on the sidelines," so that argument won't wash, either.
The attacks on the editorial are already taking shape (read the above FReeper link). They stem from the fact that the Army Times Publishing Group is a Gannett property, though how that is relevant is beyond me, since Gannett operates literally dozens of newspapers, none of which stand out as liberal rags. The papers within the Army Times media group consistently publish both "good news" and tough, factual stories about Iraq and Afghanistan, including no small number of stories sending up heroic efforts of those fighting in those conflicts. So dubbing them a pinko paper isn't going to wash with anyone other than the FReeper/wingnut faithful. But expect the attacks to come from that vein.
How successful has the Bush-Blair axis' non-proliferation policy been? Let's review...
When George W. Bush took office, North Korea was not enriching uranium. Now they are. They also were though to have no nuclear weapns yet. Now they do. Bush thought Saddam Hussein had nukes, or nuclear weapon-style programs, or whatever the lie is today, but he didn't. Now, thanks to the Bush administration, anyone who would like to have such a program can download the recipe from the "Internets." Nice.
Now, since the Bushies and their little friend, Tony Blair have been sooooo successful at reigning in Iran's supposed nuclear ambitions, at least a half dozen other countries in the volatile Middle East are sprinting toward the nuclear technology gates...
THE SPECTRE of a nuclear race in the Middle East was raised yesterday when six Arab states announced that they were embarking on programmes to master atomic technology. The move, which follows the failure by the West to curb Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, could see a rapid spread of nuclear reactors in one of the world’s most unstable regions, stretching from the Gulf to the Levant and into North Africa.
The countries involved were named by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Tunisia and the UAE have also shown interest.
All want to build civilian nuclear energy programmes, as they are permitted to under international law. But the sudden rush to nuclear power has raised suspicions that the real intention is to acquire nuclear technology which could be used for the first Arab atomic bomb.
So what next, Bushies? Do we invade all those countries and commit "regime change," too?
Just who were Mike Jones' "clients"? We now know about Pastor Ted Haggard, the married evangelical leader who is now disgraced by Jones' disclosure of their monthly gay sex and drugs encounters. But tucked away in this Denver Post story is a hell of a liner:
He says he continued to meet Haggard as late as August for paid sex because Haggard was a "holdover" from his old days. He claims that professional athletes, clergy, politicians and movie stars were his clients.
If that's true, I sure would like to see his little black book. And I just might. Why? Because of the very next paragraph in the story:
Jones filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in April with $100,000 in credit-card debt.
That would be one hell of a motive to write a tell-all book, while his name still has media currency, now wouldn't it?
Meanwhile, the Denver Post editorial board offers a more nuanced view of Haggard including his relative moderation on gay issues. Given that, you've really got to wonder whether Jones' motives were purely about the amendment, which Haggard co-authored, but which also could have been much, much worse if, say, Colorado marriage proponents had collaborated with fellow Coloradan James Dobson ... or whether it was about raising his profile before the elections, helping Democrats and gaining the sympathy of the left, and then writing a tell-all book. I have no evidence of that. Just wondering out loud. ...
Either way, the Haggard disclosure can't help but demoralize a lot of evangelical Christian voters. I grew up in Colorado, my brother still lives there, and I have a personal understanding of that state's cultural conservatism (it's probably part of the reason I'm not much of a "liberal's liberal.") And whatever Karl Rove tells you, this disclosure will hurt. But it would be nothing compared to the damage a bombshell book on Jones' high profile clients -- if they exist -- could do.
More neocons defecting on the war. Courtesy of Vanity Fair editor David Rose...
Richard Perle, neocon godfather, lawsuit provacateur who fails to prosecute, questionable financial adventurer and French chateau owner who hates the French (a/k/a, the "prince of darkness"):
"The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.… At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible.… I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."
Perle goes so far as to say that, if he had his time over, he would not have advocated an invasion of Iraq: "I think if I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, 'Should we go into Iraq?,' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.' … I don't say that because I no longer believe that Saddam had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction, or that he was not in contact with terrorists. I believe those two premises were both correct. Could we have managed that threat by means other than a direct military intervention? Well, maybe we could have."
But he also is careful to dodge personal responsibility for the outcome of a policy he has pushed for since the Clinton years:
"Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad. I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, 'Go design the campaign to do that.' I had no responsibility for that."
Nice dodge, Perle, but you need to know that no one excuses you and the other neocon wackos, including Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and the other die-hards who continue to advocate pouring more money, more men and more resources into the failed policy, of your responsibility for the blood on the floor. You guys are as responsible as the president and vice president, and Rummy, for all of the dead, both American and Iraqi. You will have to live with that until you go into your sullen, lonely grave.
David Frum, former White House speechwriter, co-author of the 2002 State of the Union address and coiner of the phrase "axis of evil" (a/k/a, the Canadian Bush-Bot):
... it now looks as if defeat may be inescapable, because "the insurgency has proven it can kill anyone who cooperates, and the United States and its friends have failed to prove that it can protect them." This situation, he says, must ultimately be blamed on "failure at the center"—starting with President Bush.
"I always believed as a speechwriter that if you could persuade the president to commit himself to certain words, he would feel himself committed to the ideas that underlay those words. And the big shock to me has been that although the president said the words, he just did not absorb the ideas. And that is the root of, maybe, everything."
Ken Adelman, uber-creepy, moustachioed neocon, frequent cable news commentator when he thought the war was going well, and the guy who first committed the words "Iraq" and "cakewalk" to print in hte same sentence (a/k/a, Marie Wrongtoinette):
"I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."
Wow. You've got to hate that if you're a Bushie. More from Adelman, just because it's so darned interesteing:
Fearing that worse is still to come, Adelman believes that neoconservatism itself—what he defines as "the idea of a tough foreign policy on behalf of morality, the idea of using our power for moral good in the world"—is dead, at least for a generation. After Iraq, he says, "it's not going to sell." And if he, too, had his time over, Adelman says, "I would write an article that would be skeptical over whether there would be a performance that would be good enough to implement our policy. The policy can be absolutely right, and noble, beneficial, but if you can't execute it, it's useless, just useless. I guess that's what I would have said: that Bush's arguments are absolutely right, but you know what, you just have to put them in the drawer marked can't do. And that's very different from let's go."
Thanks asshole. Thanks for telling us that now... There's more from Adelman:
"The most dispiriting and awful moment of the whole administration was the day that Bush gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to [former C.I.A. director] George Tenet, General Tommy Franks, and [Coalition Provisional Authority chief] Jerry [Paul] Bremer—three of the most incompetent people who've ever served in such key spots. And they get the highest civilian honor a president can bestow on anyone! That was the day I checked out of this administration. It was then I thought, There's no seriousness here, these are not serious people. If he had been serious, the president would have realized that those three are each directly responsible for the disaster of Iraq."
Took you that long, eh?
And now, a note from the author:
I spend the better part of two weeks in conversations with some of the most respected voices among the neoconservative elite. What I discover is that none of them is optimistic. All of them have regrets, not only about what has happened but also, in many cases, about the roles they played. Their dismay extends beyond the tactical issues of whether America did right or wrong, to the underlying question of whether exporting democracy is something America knows how to do.
Well at least they're capable of reflection. The results will be in VF in December. A highly juicy sneek peek:
"Ask yourself who the most powerful people in the White House are. They are women who are in love with the president: Laura [Bush], Condi, Harriet Miers, and Karen Hughes."
WTF??? That from even creepier neocon Michael "kill all Arabs and figure out which ones are Muslims later" Ledeen (and the guy who not only authored the neocon tome saying we'd need a "major event" a la Pearl Harbor ... or 9/11 ... to bring on the Iraq invasion, but who also may have helped peddle the yellowcake in Iraq forgeries that helped trigger this mess in the first place.
These neocons are priceless. Even their regrets are scummy. Although you've got to think there's something to the idea that Dubya has built for himself (or Karl Rove and Tricky Dick have built for him) a cult of personality with himself at the center, and a group of adoring women (the opposite of his ghastly, cold hearted mother) to remind him daily that he is the king. How sad that the American people fell for it, and for the war that the neocons served to this childlike figure, as Pat Buchanan said, as "pre cooked meal."
And then there's what might be the most damning criticism of all for a president who, more than anything else, has worked hard to put distance between his own record and that of his father:
Michael Rubin, former Pentagon Office of Special Plans and Coalition Provisional Authority staffer: "Where I most blame George Bush is that through his rhetoric people trusted him, people believed him. Reformists came out of the woodwork and exposed themselves." By failing to match his rhetoric with action, Rubin adds, Bush has betrayed Iraqi reformers in a way that is "not much different from what his father did on February 15, 1991, when he called the Iraqi people to rise up, and then had second thoughts and didn't do anything once they did."
The Bush administration has told a federal judge that terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the "alternative interrogation methods" that their captors used to get them to talk.
The government says in new court filings that those interrogation methods are now among the nation's most sensitive national security secrets and that their release -- even to the detainees' own attorneys -- "could reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage." Terrorists could use the information to train in counter-interrogation techniques and foil government efforts to elicit information about their methods and plots, according to government documents submitted to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton on Oct. 26.
The battle over legal rights for terrorism suspects detained for years in CIA prisons centers on Majid Khan, a 26-year-old former Catonsville resident who was one of 14 high-value detainees transferred in September from the "black" sites to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents many detainees at Guantanamo, is seeking emergency access to him.
The government, in trying to block lawyers' access to the 14 detainees, effectively asserts that the detainees' experiences are a secret that should never be shared with the public.
Because Khan "was detained by CIA in this program, he may have come into possession of information, including locations of detention, conditions of detention, and alternative interrogation techniques that is classified at the TOP SECRET//SCI level," an affidavit from CIA Information Review Officer Marilyn A. Dorn states, using the acronym for "sensitive compartmented information."
Gitanjali Gutierrez, an attorney for Khan's family, responded in a court document yesterday that there is no evidence that Khan had top-secret information. "Rather," she said, "the executive is attempting to misuse its classification authority . . . to conceal illegal or embarrassing executive conduct."
Joseph Margulies, a Northwestern University law professor who has represented several detainees at Guantanamo, said the prisoners "can't even say what our government did to these guys to elicit the statements that are the basis for them being held. Kafka-esque doesn't do it justice. This is 'Alice in Wonderland.' "...
In other words, the Bush administration is fighting to prevent the world from knowing that we "waterboarded" and otherwised tortured some, or hell, maybe all, of these prisoners, in contravention to both U.S. and international law. And of course if it did get out, it would be the men and women in uniform who would pay the price, not their civilian leaders, or their officers for that matter. Just the grunts. Welcome to the Bush war on terror. Sounds a lot like something Vladimir Putin would do. So how did we get here, people? Here's one way:
Government lawyers also argue in court papers that detainees such as Khan previously held in CIA sites have no automatic right to speak to lawyers because the new Military Commissions Act, signed by President Bush last month, stripped them of access to U.S. courts. That law established separate military trials for terrorism suspects.
Which is yet another reason why we need to change this oversight-allergic, Constitution-chucking Congress.
I tend to build up tremendous nervous energy as an election closes in. And the only cure for it is to gorge my brain with as many numbers and analyses as I can. Either that, or I have to watch a lot of TV. So over the next four days, here's where I'll be hanging out to get my political junke fix in the run-up to the big day (that and I'm SO going to see "Borat"...):
Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball. Forget the Senate and the House, where the conservative Sabato is predicting a veritable Democratic rout of the GOP. In the governorships, Sabato counts six currently Republican held state houses leaning, likely or solidly Democratic, and not a single Democratic-held seat even leaning Republican. And that includes possibly putting the red states of Colorado, Missouri, Arkansas and Ohio in Democratic hands during the crucial 2008 presidential run. That's important, because control of the governor's mansion is one key component of putting together awinning presidential race. Too bad Florida, which Sabato kindly puts in only "leaning Republican" rather than "likely Republican" where it more realisticallly probably is, won't be in the game in '08, given the weak campaign of the Democratic challenger.
The Rothenberg Report blog. Unfortunately, I don't have the cash to buy the real thing, but thankfully, Rothernberg, one of the most cautious and respective names in the prognosticating biz, posts a lot of the relevant stuff on his blogspot. I wonder if he hates Blogger as much as I do ...
Crawfordslist. Craig Crawford finally got off the blogspot chuck wagon, and his news site provides some of the top drawer political analysis you'd normally have to pay for at Congressional Quarterly. Plus, he reminds me of an adorable muppet on the Muppet Show. Don't ask me why. I think it's the eyebrows and the surprised look on his face whenever Keith Olbermann introduces him.
The National Journal's Hotline blog. One of my daily fixes. They will have some of the most detailed, frequently updated analyses of the big races. Plus, they post great stuff like this:
Then, those brave neo-cons who pined for a war with Saddam Hussein essentially regurgitate all over the entire Bush national security team in Vanity Fair. Vice President Cheney, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos yesterday, looked shell-shocked.
Hee hee ... and the veep wasn't even staring down the barrel of a loaded skeet hunting shotgun at the time... For the truly junkified, you can also check out Chuck Todd and John Mercurio on Hotline TV.
Talking Points Memo. Joshua Micah Marshall subscribes to all the good stuff, and between his main site, the Muckraker pages and the TPMCafe, he's also on my daily reading list.
MYDD. They're partisan, and at least as far to the left as Kos, but somehow for me they're far less annoying. Plus, you can't get more polling and race by race data than at this site. RedState tries to provide the same thing, but they use far too many Karl Rove talking points for my taste.
Here in Florida, I've really taken to the Dem-leaning, but poll-rich FlaPolitics blog. Good stuff there, and even with its partisan lean, its a great source of info on the key races here, especially for someone like me, who spends a lot of time following the national races, leaving less time to really focus on what's going on at home.) By the way, FLAP posted something everyone here in Florida should read and read again: if you're voting absentee because you're leery of the machines, make sure you really know what you're doing -- follow all the instructions to the letter, and SIGN THE OUTSIDE ENVELOPE! Otherwise, you might as well have traveled to Ohio and voted on a Diebold.
And of course, I can't get through the morning without RawStory and the Drudge Report, just to keep it balanced.
That's where I'll be. Any suggestions on other stuff to check up on, drop me an email or post in comments.
A 'Massage' ... So that's what they're calling it now?
Um ... okay, so Pastor Ted Haggard, leader of a 14,000 member evangelical church in Colorado Springs, and until he stepped down, the leader of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals, asks a hotel concierge for a reference for a masseuse, and he just happens to get a gay escort with meth connections instead? (The escort, who has recordings of Haggard leaving voicemail messages using his "stripper name," Art, in which in Rush Limbaugh fashion, Haggard says he'll pick up "the stuff" shortly, claims he never advertised with hotel concierges, and his services could only be found within the pages of gay publcations and on gay websites like "rentboy.com," where he supposedly hooked up with the heterosexually married Haggard...) Here's Haggard's incredible defense, made to a Denver reporter ... on tape ... in which he admits to a felony: buying methanphedamine, but denies that he was looking for anything other than a "massage" ... oh, and he threw the meth away. How Christian of him...
Down with Tyranny asks how long it will take before Fox News labels Haggard, who had weekly conference calls with the White House, as a Democrat. Good point.
Another good one: how long before the evangelical political movement looks itself in the mirror and figures out that they really have no credibility telling the rest of us what to do. They are led by as skeevy a bunch of wierdos as you'll find in public life. Do they really think they have the moral authority to push for any laws at all to be forced on the American people, whether those laws be about abortion, stem cell research, or god forbid, gay marriage? I'm not even in favor of gay marriage and this crap would make me vote no on that Colorado amendment, if for no reason other than to slap these hypocrites down.
Meanwhile, CNN has more video with Haggard, and the operative phrase here is "...with a man in Denver..."
Anybody up for 30 days in rehab?
Update: per the Denver Post... it looks like sex isn't quite just a massage after all...
Ted Haggard, the beleaguered pastor of a Colorado Springs evangelical church who had denied having sex with a male prostitute, has been fired by an oversight board, which found him guilty of "sexually immoral conduct." The board, called the "Overseer Board of New Life Church," said in a prepared statement Saturday afternoon: "Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct."
Ahem. Did I mention that Haggard is married to a woman named Gay...le? And I'll just bet she had no idea her husband is gay. Well, after five kids, who the hell can tell? ... You just can't make this stuff up.
The paper of record for America's uniformed military is officially calling for Rumsfeld to be fired if he won't step down. Wonder how the righties will work up the "Military Times hates America" meme... that's going to be a tough one, eh?
How to build an atomic bomb (no, really, how to build an atomic bomb)
How stupid do you have to be as a member of Congress to insist that thousands of secret documents be released over the objections of the directorate of national intelligence, the International Atomic Energy Agency and pretty much every intelligence expert on the planet, just so that you can say that the U.S. really did find evidence of a nuclear program in Iraq, and then have those documents actually contain information that could be used as a blueprint to build said nuclear weapon?
Pretty freaking stupid, Pat Roberts and Peter Hoekstra. Pretty ... freaking ... stupid.
By WILLIAM J. BROAD Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.
But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.
Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. A spokesman for John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, said access to the site had been suspended “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.”
Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearing that the information could help states like Iran develop nuclear arms, had privately protested last week to the American ambassador to the agency, according to European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. One diplomat said the agency’s technical experts “were shocked” at the public disclosures.
Early this morning, a spokesman for Gregory L. Schulte, the American ambassador, denied that anyone from the agency had approached Mr. Schulte about the Web site.
But former White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr. said today that senior officials had been cautioned against posting the information.
“John Negroponte warned us that we don’t know what’s in these documents, so these are being put out at some risk, and that was a warning that he put out right when they first released the documents,” Mr. Card said on NBC’s “Today” show, according to The Associated Press.
The documents, roughly a dozen in number, contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.
“For the U.S. to toss a match into this flammable area is very irresponsible,” said A. Bryan Siebert, a former director of classification at the federal Department of Energy, which runs the nation’s nuclear arms program. “There’s a lot of things about nuclear weapons that are secret and should remain so.”
The government had received earlier warnings about the contents of the Web site. Last spring, after the site began posting old Iraqi documents about chemical weapons, United Nations arms-control officials in New York won the withdrawal of a report that gave information on how to make tabun and sarin, nerve agents that kill by causing respiratory failure.
The campaign for the online archive was mounted by conservative publications and politicians, who said that the nation’s spy agencies had failed adequately to analyze the 48,000 boxes of documents seized since the March 2003 invasion. With the public increasingly skeptical about the rationale and conduct of the war, the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees argued that wide analysis and translation of the documents — most of them in Arabic — would reinvigorate the search for clues that Mr. Hussein had resumed his unconventional arms programs in the years before the invasion. American search teams never found such evidence.
This is the same document dump that right wing blogs and magazines, including NRO, have been hawking for months, trying to prove that the U.S. really did find evidence of WMD in Iraq.
Even today, the White House was trying to spin this two ways: first, as proof that the New York Times hates America, and second, as proof that the Bush administration was right all along about Saddam Hussein's Iraq. And the right just keeps on spinning.
Look, guys, this was stupid with a capital S, and it was blatantly political. Just admit that you really don't give a damn about non-proliferation and that it's been about politics all along and we'll call it square. Or not.
The world will run out of seafood by 2048 if steep declines in marine species continue at current rates, according to a study released today by an international group of ecologists and economists.
The paper, published in the journal Science, concludes that overfishing, pollution, and other environmental factors are wiping out important species across the globe, hampering the ocean's ability to produce seafood, filter nutrients and resist the spread of disease.
"We really see the end of the line now," said lead author Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Canada's Dalhousie University. "It's within our lifetime. Our children will see a world without seafood if we don't change things."
Who is more dangerous to the world: Osama bin Laden, Kim Jong Il or George W. Bush? Let's ask the British:
America is now seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbours and allies, according to an international survey of public opinion published today that reveals just how far the country's reputation has fallen among former supporters since the invasion of Iraq.
Carried out as US voters prepare to go to the polls next week in an election dominated by the war, the research also shows that British voters see George Bush as a greater danger to world peace than either the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, or the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both countries were once cited by the US president as part of an "axis of evil" but it is Mr Bush who now alarms voters in countries with traditionally strong links to the US.
The cautious prognosticator is predicting a whopping 34 to 40 seat pick-up for the Dems in the House, and a 6-seat gain in the Senate. As of yesterday, both Tennessee and New Jersey remained in the toss-up column, which is actually great news for Harold Ford, who has been trailing in every poll I've seen, but not so good news for Bob Menendez in New Jersey, who should be winning in this bluish state. By Rothenberg's math, DeWine and Santorum are as good as gone.
On the House side, what's incredible is that there are 20 "pure toss-up" seats, all of them Repbulican-held. Add tp that seven toss-ups that are currently Republican held but that are tilting Dem, and the three others that are currently R and leaning D, and my math says 30. And if I were in a predicting mood, that would probably be my up-side.
"It is very hard to look at the most recent Democracy Corps survey in the 50 most competitive Republican-held districts finished last night and not conclude that we are headed toward a 1994 election -- with the Democratic majority approaching that of the Gingrich Congress. The named Democratic vote for Congress has moved up from a 3-point lead to 7-point margin since Sunday, with the named Democrat for the first time moving over 50 percent (51 to 44 percent). For the first time, the Democratic candidate is ahead on average in the bottom tier of least competitive races."
Federal investigators have interviewed at least two more former chiefs of staff to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris as part of a federal inquiry into her relationship with a convicted defense contractor.
Dan Berger and Ben McKay, who both worked for Harris in her first term and are now lobbyists in Washington, confirmed the interviews this week and said it was their understanding all congressional staff would likely be questioned. The two spoke separately to three investigators from the FBI and the Defense Department in Washington several weeks ago.
The Justice and Defense departments are examining Harris' dealings with Mitchell Wade, who made illegal campaign contributions to Harris and paid for at least two dinners with her at a tony Georgetown restaurant that totaled about $6,000. Later Wade asked Harris to help secure $10-million in federal money for a company project in Sarasota.
Federal authorities have subpoenaed records from Harris' U.S. Senate campaign office and have interviewed several former staffers, including senior campaign consultant Ed Rollins, campaign manager Jim Dornan and Mona Tate Yost, a congressional aide who later went to work for Wade.
Harris, a two-term Republican from Longboat Key who has served in Congress since 2002, is running an uphill battle to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in Tuesday's election.
Meanwhile, did anybody bother to watch that debate? I know Tim Russert is secretly hating Chris Matthews for getting the good one and leaving him with the crazy lady who doesn't have a snowball's chance of hell of getting elected.
While he was still in Congress, Mark Foley appeared in a B-action movie that went straight to DVD. Despite bad reviews, hard-to-find copies of the movie are now in hot demand as word is spreading of Foley's forgotten cameo.
In New York City, one Barnes & Noble sold all four of their copies in the last day alone.
The movie, formerly titled "The Librarians" and retitled "Strike Force," is a thriller about the hunt for a kidnapper in South Florida. Then-Congressman Foley played a bit part as a -- surprise -- congressman who is reunited with his daughter after she is kidnapped.
Viewer reviews on the website imdb.com are less than stellar.
"This is a ludicrously horrible movie," wrote one reviewer. "It is not bad in a funny way, just painful to try to endure. Don't waste your time."
"Be warned," wrote another, "if you place this in your DVD be prepared to put your toe on the trigger of the shotgun you'll soon have between your teeth."
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Nov 2, 2006 (AP)— The leader of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals, a vocal opponent of the drive for same-sex marriage, resigned Thursday after being accused of paying for sex with a man in monthly trysts over the past three years.
The Rev. Ted Haggard also stepped aside as head of his 14,000-member New Life Church while a church panel investigates, saying he could "not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations."
The investigation came after a 49-year-old man told a Denver radio station that Haggard paid him to have sex.
Haggard, a married father of five, denied the allegations in an interview with KUSA-TV late Wednesday: "Never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I'm steady with my wife, I'm faithful to my wife."
In a written statement, Haggard said: "I am voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity. I hope to be able to discuss this matter in more detail at a later date. In the interim, I will seek both spiritual advice and guidance."
Haggard, a 1978 graduate of Oral Roberts University, was appointed president of the association in March 2003 and has been called one of the most influential evangelical Christians in the nation.
He has participated in conservative Christian leaders' conference calls with White House staffers and lobbied members of Congress last year on U.S. Supreme Court appointees after Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement.
I wonder why those allegations came out now ... hm...
The allegations come as voters in Colorado and seven other states get ready to decide Tuesday on amendments banning gay marriage. Besides the proposed ban on the Colorado ballot, a separate measure would establish the legality of domestic partnerships providing same-sex couples with many of the rights of married couples.
Mike Jones, 49, of Denver told The Associated Press he decided to go public with his allegations because of the political fight. Jones, who said he is gay, said he was upset when he discovered Haggard and the New Life Church had publicly opposed same-sex marriage.
ANNAPOLIS, Md., Nov. 2 (UPI) -- A Republican guide for Maryland poll watchers gives detailed instructions on challenging voters and urges poll watchers to be aggressive.
The guide says poll watchers should tell election judges they could be sentenced to 30 days in jail for failing to respond to a challenge, the Washington Post reported.
Maryland has tight statewide races for governor and U.S. senator, and black turnout in Baltimore could be critical to the outcome. A Washington Post poll found that Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley would beat incumbent Gov. Robert Ehrlich by 10 points if black turnout was 25 percent, but 19 percent turnout made the race too close to call.
Democrats charge that the Republican Party is trying to keep turnout down.
"The tenor of the material is that they are asking folks, if not directing them, to challenge voters," said Bruce L. Marcus, a lawyer for the state Democratic Party. "It's really tantamount to a suppression effort."
Republican leaders say their only interest is an honest vote.
The percentage of Americans who think we're winning in Iraq falls to 20 percent. And 7 out of 10 Americans say Bush has no plan to get us out of that hell-hole. This as the Pentagon finally ID's that kindapped American soldier.
Am I surprised by this allegation? No. Is it disturbing that this is even being alleged by an American citizen? Hell yes. Is it what you should come to expect from the neo-authoritarian crowd that's running our country at the moment? Yep. Anyway, here it is:
MIAMI (Reuters) - Lawyers for alleged al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla have asked a Florida judge to dismiss the terrorism case against him, saying he was tortured and force-fed psychedelic drugs while held at a U.S. military brig for more than 3-1/2 years.
"The torture took myriad forms, each designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and ultimately, the loss of will to live," Padilla's attorney's said in the motion for dismissal filed in Miami federal court earlier this month.
"Often he had to endure multiple interrogators who would scream, shake and otherwise assault Mr. Padilla," his lawyers said. "Additionally, Mr. Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations."
Presiding U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke on Monday gave the U.S. attorney's office until November 14 by to respond to Padilla's allegations, according to an order released by the court.
Padilla, a U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago in May 2002, was initially accused of plotting to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb."
He was held in a brig at the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, South Carolina for three years and seven months, without charge, before being abruptly transferred to a federal lock-up in Miami and brought into the official legal system.
While in the brig, Padilla was "tortured by the United States government without cause or justification," his lawyers said, adding that his treatment was "shocking to even the most hardened conscience."
The forms of torture included isolation, prolonged sleep deprivation, exposure to extremely cold temperatures and shackling in "stress positions" for hours at a time, they said.
Right wing talking point: good. Torture him again. WWJBD bitches (What would Jack Bauer do?)
What's a desperate party to do when they fear their control of Congress is slipping away?
Step one: hope for a miracle.
Step two: get one, in the form of an intelligent, but stunningly inarticulate Senator and would-be repeate presidential candidate who so lacks the common touch that he can't even insult the president succinctly.
Step three: count on the Associated Press and other media outlets to leave off the pre-amble and just reprint the part of the Senator's comments that can be twisted for maximum impact:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well," Kerry said. "If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
And presto! You've changed the conversation, shifting it away from the unmitigated disaster that is Iraq, the economy that's fattening the very wealthy and killing the middle class, the careening deficit, the corrupt, Republican-controlled Congress, the multiple scandals and felons emanating from the GOP and on and on and on ... and you've even made the president marketable again as a campaign spokeman.
Now, the risk to this strategy is that by overplaying the story, you also energize the base on the other side, including energizing your opponent, who apparently is taking his cue from Bill Clinton's combative stance with Chris Wallace. Here's Kerry's response.
“If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.
I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.
The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.
Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men. And this time it won’t work because we’re going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.”
Now, in the GOP's defense, they have to do what they have to do. They've fucked up the country, and hell, much of the world, and by all rights they should pay for their mis-deeds in November. But that would mean exposing the recalcitrant child they worship as president of the United States to actual oversight, and we can't have that, now can we? And John Kerry is almost an expert at this point at giving his opponents verbal ammo to use against him (though unlike in 2004, he has now figured out how to fight back.) What Kerry said is clear to me, but properly edited, it's perfect fodder for the right wing sound machine. He served it up, they're going to milk it for all it's worth. Good going, Kerry. Please stop talking.
But even worse than Kerry are the weak-kneed Democrats who are fleeing from Kerry like he has transmutable, airborne T.B. Rule number one, Democrats: your guy is ALWAYS right. Back him up, refuse to apologize, and tell the other side they hate America. And for gods sakes, get all your people on the same page.
Meanwhile, I come dangerously close to agreeing with something Jay Tea says:
He and his staff say he meant to say "you get US stuck in Iraq" -- it was an oblique cheap shot at President Bush, but Kerry omitted the "us." I find that plausible. ...
He then goes on to do the Kerry snark-attack you'd expect from Jay, along with putting forward some pretty silly stuff ("Bush volunteered to go to Vietnam" being the most hilarious, and the most Bushlovetastic...) So yes, Jay Tea is still Jay Tea.
"Is Kerry getting paid by the Republicans?" asked the young, cat-hating liberal who helps me with the column. "Did [White House strategist] Karl Rove pay him or what?"
What would you pay a guy to slice off his party's feet in the last week of a campaign that is the Democrats' to lose? By now, Kerry's foolishness will be all over the morning talk shows.
...including the one I'm on...
So Kerry's ridiculous elitism, burbling out of him as if he lives, as I suspect, entirely on a diet of lentils and club soda, is what the Republicans needed. It's a big chunk of wood floating just above Republican hands in deep water.
Yep. And they're grabbing onto it like Mark Foley on a teenager's Speedo.
Yes, Kerry is, at heart, an elitist -- so much so that he doesn't limit his feelings of superiority to ordinary Americans, he also extends it to his fellow elite Yalie, George W. Bush. And yes, in his zeal to insult the president, he made yet another Kerry-esque verbal blunder, which instead of having the desired derisive effect, just makes him look like a stuffy bastard. And yes, he has handed the desperate Bush-bots a rope they hope they can pull themselves out of the swamp with, at least for one news cycle.
Will it be enough to get the GOP over the finish line next week? I doubt it. But it's not helpful, and the Dems' weak response isn't either. Maybe they're ambivalent on Kerry like I am, but they need to get together, decide to fight or force Kerry to apologize -- pick one, get the message together, and do something.
Update: Don Imus tells JFKerry to just shut up already. Kerry appears to be heeding that advice, or perhaps Rahm Emanuel has finally beaten him down and locked him in a meat cellar.
Meanwhile, we just had former Senator Bob Graham on the radio show, and his take was that John Kerry probably wishes he hadn't flubbed that line, but Democrats have to find a way to get the conversation back to basics: Iraq, the middle class squeeze, and corruption in Washington.