Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Man on top

Guess who's going to raise the most money among the GOP presidential wannabes this quarter? Yep. Ron Paul (unless Willard buys it out from under him...)

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posted by JReid @ 10:36 PM  
The Four Bobs
Teh HuffPo uncovers a previously unheard story of how the late Henry Hyde tried to put the kaibosh on the Bill Clinton impeachment.

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posted by JReid @ 10:26 PM  
Arrests in Taylor homicide
The arrest of two very young men -- aged 19 and 21 -- and the police search for a third suspect who's just 17, caps the tragedy in the Sean Taylor homicide. The killers apparently were a few young thugs who knew Taylor's younger sister, and who came to Taylor's house for a birthday party. Apparently, you can't open your house to the hood. It's a lesson a lot of brothas who come into money, based on their talent, need to learn. And soon. From today's Miami Herald:

Relatives of Jason Mitchell, 19, told The Miami Herald that he attended a birthday bash for Sasha Johnson, who is Sean Taylor's sister. Johnson dates Christopher Devon Wardlow, 21, Mitchell's family said. His brother, Charles Wardlow, 18, was also being interviewed by Miami-Dade homicide detectives. No one has been charged.

An unidentified 17-year-old was also being questioned at Florida Department of Law Enforcement Headquarters in Fort Myers. Police were looking for two other men, but no one has been charged.

According to Scottie Mitchell, 19, Jason's twin brother, Johnson and Christopher Devon Wardlow invited Jason Mitchell to the birthday party within the past two months. He even did work around Taylor's house, Scottie Mitchell said: ``He cut his grass and everything.''
The Herald also has chilling details of the murder:

Police believe bragging about Taylor's wealth may have attracted the intruders to the NFL star's home. Taylor was shot early Monday by a burglar who surprised him in the bedroom of his Palmetto Bay home.

Taylor wielded a machete as he tried to protect his fiancée, Jackie Garcia, and their 18-month-old baby girl. The two were hiding under the covers as Taylor was shot.

One bullet pierced the wall. The other struck Taylor in the groin, severing his femoral artery and causing massive blood loss. He died at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

It's a tragic story, and one that a lot of young men launching lucrative sports and entertainment careers should pay attention to. Why do you think so many rappers live in the freaking Hamptons???

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posted by JReid @ 8:24 PM  
Sheikh Rudy al-Chutzpah
Rudy Giuliani is a very bad man. I think we've more than established that. He's also a charlaitan who has enriched himself on the graves of nearly 3,000 people who died in the World Trade Center towers (the two that stood alongside his apparent Judy love-nest inside WTC 7, where he also, I'm sure quite coincidentally, housed his city's emergency response center...) And he has a list of clients for his various consulting interests that read from ironic (Hugo Chavez' state-run Citgo) to bad (Cintra, the folks behind that very real, thank you Jeffrey Toobin, NAFTA superhighway), to worse, according to Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice:

Three weeks after 9/11, when the roar of fighter jets still haunted the city's skyline, the emir of gas-rich Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah al-Thani, toured Ground Zero. Although a member of the emir's own royal family had harbored the man who would later be identified as the mastermind of the attack—a man named Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, often referred to in intelligence circles by his initials, KSM—al-Thani rushed to New York in its aftermath, offering to make a $3 million donation, principally to the families of its victims. Rudy Giuliani, apparently unaware of what the FBI and CIA had long known about Qatari links to Al Qaeda, appeared on CNN with al-Thani that night and vouched for the emir when Larry King asked the mayor: "You are a friend of his, are you not?"

"We had a very good meeting yesterday. Very good," said Giuliani, adding that he was "very, very grateful" for al-Thani's generosity. It was no cinch, of course, that Giuliani would take the money: A week later, he famously rejected a $10 million donation from a Saudi prince who advised America that it should "adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause." (Giuliani continues to congratulate himself for that snub on the campaign trail.) Al-Thani waited a month before expressing essentially the same feelings when he returned to New York for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly and stressed how important it was to "distinguish" between the "phenomenon" of 9/11 and "the legitimate struggles" of the Palestinians "to get rid of the yoke of illegitimate occupation and subjugation." Al-Thani then accused Israel of "state terrorism" against the Palestinians.

But there was another reason to think twice about accepting al-Thani's generosity that Giuliani had to have been aware of, even as he heaped praise on the emir. Al Jazeera, the Arabic news network based in Qatar (pronounced "Cutter"), had been all but created by al-Thani, who was its largest shareholder. The Bush administration was so upset with the coverage of Osama bin Laden's pronouncements and the U.S. threats to bomb Afghanistan that Secretary of State Colin Powell met the emir just hours before Giuliani's on-air endorsement and asked him to tone down the state-subsidized channel's Islamist footage and rhetoric. The six-foot-eight, 350-pound al-Thani, who was pumping about $30 million a year into Al Jazeera at the time, refused Powell's request, citing the need for "a free and credible media." The administration's burgeoning distaste for what it would later brand "Terror TV" was already so palpable that King—hardly a newsman—asked the emir if he would help "spread the word" that the U.S. was "not targeting the average Afghan citizen." Al-Thani ignored the question—right before Giuliani rushed in to praise him again.

In retrospect, Giuliani's embrace of the emir appears peculiar. But it was only a sign of bigger things to come: the launching of a cozy business relationship with terrorist-tolerant Qatar that is inconsistent with the core message of Giuliani's current presidential campaign, namely that his experience and toughness uniquely equip him to protect America from what he tauntingly calls "Islamic terrorists"—an enemy that he always portrays himself as ready to confront, and the Democrats as ready to accommodate.

The contradictory and stunning reality is that Giuliani Partners, the consulting company that has made Giuliani rich, feasts at the Qatar trough, doing business with the ministry run by the very member of the royal family identified in news and government reports as having concealed KSM—the terrorist mastermind who wired funds from Qatar to his nephew Ramzi Yousef prior to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and who also sold the idea of a plane attack on the towers to Osama bin Laden—on his Qatar farm in the mid-1990s. ...

There's much more in the article. It's long and detailed, and worth the read. The only remaining question is just how much conservatives are willing to tolerate. They've looked past Rudy's womanizing, his dumping his wife, his pimping 9/11 for personal financial gain, his lapsed morality on issues like abortion, and his partisans are even shrugging off his use of the NYPD as his mistress' personal taxi service, at taxpayer expense. Are the moralistic hypocrites like Glenn Beck (Mr. "I like Rudy because he'll shoot Muslims in the head") and Pat (The Nutjob) Robertson willing to even overlook Rudy's ties to terrorism?

I await the RedState walkback.

Back to the love-nest for a sec. The link in the first paragaph is to a post yesterday by Joshua Micah Marshall. It's worth giving you a taste:
Before 9/11, the city of New York set up an emergency command center in the World Trade Center complex, actually in building 7. After 9/11 this was a matter of some controversy since it obviously wasn't usable on the day of the attacks. (Building 7 eventually collapsed late in the day on 9/11.) And while no one could have predicted 9/11 precisely, there was a certain gap in logic in building the command center in what had already proven to be a top terrorist target.

However that might be, earlier this year it emerged that Rudy actually spent a lot of time in his personal quarters in the command center pre-9/11 because that's where he took Judi for their snogfests while their relationship was still a secret.

In fact, it gets better. While it's difficult to prove, there was a decent amount of circumstantial evidence -- and some city officials believed -- that Rudy's reason for wanting the center in building 7 was so that he could walk there easily from city hall for his trysts with Judy.

So just how do we judge the price NYC paid for the Judi affair?
How, indeed.

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posted by JReid @ 7:03 PM  
Obama leading in another Iowa poll
ARG has him in a statistical tie with Hillary in Iowa, but a two point lead is still a lead. The ARG poll has Hil still ahead in New Hampshire and South Carolina. It gets interesting...

Incidentally, Hillary is talking to the cameras now about that hostage situation today at one of her campaign offices in NH.

Meanwhile on the other side, Romney is now just one point ahead of Mike Huckabee in Iowa and only three points up on Huck in South Carolina.

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posted by JReid @ 6:48 PM  
Hostage situation at Clinton NH campaign office ends
A kook claiming to have a bomb took several people hostage inside a Hillary Clinton for President office in Rochester, New Hampshire this afternoon. The situation has come to an end, now, after a five-hour ordeal, but it was pretty high drama throughout the day.
A woman with a baby was released by the hostage-taker early on, she told a witness, Lettie Tzizik, who spoke to WMUR.

"A young woman with a 6-month or 8-month-old infant came rushing into the store just in tears, and she said, 'You need to call 911. A man has just walked into the Clinton office, opened his coat and showed us a bomb strapped to his chest with duct tape,' " the Web site reported.

Apparently, 46-year-old Leeland Eisenberg was distraught over the state of mental healthcare. He also has a prior arrest for alleged stalking.

New Hampshire's WMUR is getting a lot of attention today, and they have lots of info, including a statement from Camp Clinton.

Blogger HistoryMike has a good, comprehensive post with possible aliases for Eisenberg, and more about his Freeper-like ideology...

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posted by JReid @ 6:27 PM  
The I (heart) Hagel reader: les incompetents
Damn, I love Chuck Hagel! My favorite Republican lawmaker (and a man who should be running for president) is at it again, calling out the Bushies in no uncertain terms:
"This is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I've ever seen personally or ever read about," the always blunt and frequently quotable Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said yesterday during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

"This administration in my opinion has been as unprepared as any administration I'm aware of," Hagel added, "not only the ones that I have been somehow connected to and that's been every administration -- either I've been in Washington or worked within an administration or Congress or some way dealing with them since the first Nixon administration. I would rate this one the lowest in capacity, in capability, in policy, in consensus -- almost every area, I would give it the lowest grade. ...

"And you know, I think of this administration, what they could have done after 9/11, what was within their grasp. Every poll in the world showed 90% of the world for us. Iran had some of the first spontaneous demonstrations on the streets of Tehran supporting America. They squandered a tremendous amount of opportunity."

Hagel, who toyed with the idea of running for president himself, also said:

He would be open to the idea of either working in a Democratic administration or even running as the vice presidential nominee on a Democratic ticket -- though, he conceded, "I probably won't have to worry about it" because he's unlikely to be asked.

"If there was an area that I thought I could make a difference and influence policy, leadership, outcome ... then I would entertain" those possibilities, Hagel said. ...
Don't count on not being asked, Chuck. You're one of the few clear-thinking, independent-minded Republicans in Congress, and one of only a handful of people who truly embody the term "Senator" -- quite the opposite of the kow-towing, royal boot-licking Joe Liebermans around you. If you ran for president, I would seriously consider crossing political lines to support you.

The full transcript of Hagel's remarks can be found on the CFR website.

Previous I (heart) Hagel readers:

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posted by JReid @ 6:12 PM  
Thursday, November 29, 2007
A cad and a liar

So not only is Rudy Giuliani a terrible guy to be married to (you'll find out when he throws you over for a NEW socialite, Judith...) he's also a bald-faced (no pun intended) liar, when it comes to his citation of statistics.


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posted by JReid @ 11:26 PM  
Stop or I'll ... cut my budget!
Now here's a tactic that won't work...
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Thursday called on Congress to approve billions of dollars in additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before lawmakers leave for their Christmas break.

He said the Army will have to shut down bases and start furloughing between 100,000 and 200,000 civilian workers by mid-February if Congress does not clear the funds.

"Pentagon officials have warned Congress that the continued delay in funding our troops will soon begin to have a damaging impact on the operations of this department," Bush said Thursday. "The warning has been laid out for the United States Congress to hear."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates already has ordered the Army and Marine Corps to plan for cutbacks, including civilian layoffs, termination of contracts and reduced operations at bases, The Associated Press reported. ...
Congress should tell Dubya "go ahead, make our day." If the DOD can't live on more than $400 billion a year, then it SHOULD cut back, just like the rest of us have to do when we go over budget. The Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Act named for Virginia Senator John Warner, and signed by Bush in October of 2006 handed the Defense Department $500 billion for military operations this year. In addition, there have been numerous supplemental "emergency funding" bills authorizing still more money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And yet, the president is whingeing that Bob Gates is running out of cash? What is he, a college freshman with a new credit card?

Bottom line, Bushie; use the money you've already got. If the Democrats who control the House have half a brain (and this is not verifiable at this juncture...) they will fold their arms and put away our wallet.

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posted by JReid @ 11:08 PM  
Don't call it a hit job
or do ... Rudy is beeyatching and moaning about alleged "attacks on his personal life" ... a supposed "hit job," otherwise known as belated journalistic interest in the part of Rudy's record in New York City that predated September 11, 2001. (Photo courtesy of Cox & Forkum).

Well, Rudy, you can crumple up that bald brow all you want. Shag Fund-Gate isn't going away.

Today's installment of "How I Met Your Mother (While I Was Still Married To Someone Else's Mother)" is entitled: "Taxi!" The script, not written by picket-line crossing scabs, is instead penned by Richard Esposito of ABC News' The Note:

Giuliani's Mistress Used N.Y. Police as Taxi Service

Well before it was publicly known he was seeing her, then-married New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan, former senior city officials tell the Blotter on

"She used the PD as her personal taxi service," said one former city official who worked for Giuliani.

New York papers reported in 2000 that the city had provided a security detail for Nathan, who became Giuliani's third wife after his divorce from Donna Hanover, who also had her own police security detail at the same time.

The former city officials said Giuliani expanded the budget for his security detail at the time. reported yesterday that many of the security expenses were initially billed to obscure city agencies, effectively hiding them from oversight.

The former officials told the extra costs involved overtime and per diem costs for officers traveling with Giuliani to secret weekend rendezvous with Nathan in the fashionable Hamptons resort area on Long Island.

When the New York City comptroller began to question the accounting, Mayor Giuliani's office declined to provide details to city security, officials told today.

"The Comptroller's Office made repeated requests for the information in 2001 and 2002 but was informed that due to security concerns the information could not be provided," a spokesperson for the comptroller's office said. ...
Ah, yes, the old "security" excuse...

For the record, former NYC mayor Ed Koch is questioning Rudy's explanation of his billing practices associated with his Hamptons shenanigans with the former mistress who's now the missus... Said Koch of Giuliani's 'splanation of his "routine" police expenses:

Former mayor Ed Koch and current city officials said Thursday that charging travel and security expenses to obscure mayoral agencies was not routine at City Hall before or after Rudy Giuliani took office.

"That this was past practice is absolutely wrong," Koch said. "It didn't happen under me and I don't think it happened with David Dinkins, either."

For the record, the Bloomberg people say that's not their standard operating procedure, either.

This isn't the first time Koch has called Rudy out. Back in April, he told the NY Post's Page Six:

"In my opinion, it would be very harmful to our country if Rudy were to become president. Rudy simply does not tell the truth when it suits him not to," Koch says in a mass e-mail. He's writing a new intro to his book, to be reissued by Barricade. Koch cited four instances where he says Giuliani lied, and, "There will be much more on Rudy's record as he is examined by the national media."
Prescient words, Ed.

BTW, Ed's book on Rudy, which came out in 1999 and is being re-released on the occasion of Rudy's run for czar president, is called "Giuliani: Nasty Man."

Somebody call Larry Craig!

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posted by JReid @ 9:41 PM  
Oh the joy of tech problems in the morning...
Ever have one of those days when it seems like everything electronic in your life is in revolt? And then you have to spend minute after wasted minute talking on the phone with some guy in Mumbai who thinks you really believe his name is Harry?

Yep... this is starting out to be one of those days...
posted by JReid @ 9:59 AM  
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Bookie of Virtues strikes again
Okay ... CNN chose to put Bill Bennett on as a post-debate commentator tonight, and he just used ... wait for it ... a gambling reference to express his enthusiasm for Mitt Romney, whom he described as having been "all in ... as they say in Texas Hold 'em." That's what you call, forgetting your weakness...

From the vault:

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posted by JReid @ 10:19 PM  
The Elderly White Man Talking Show, starring Anderson Cooper
I thought this thing would be boring as hell, but ...

Willard (Romney) just cold cocked Rudy Giuliani on illegal immigration and "sanctuary cities." After Rudy punched back on his Sanctuary City record in NYC by accusing the Mittster of having a "sanctuary mansion" because he allegedly employed illegal immigrants, Romney called Rudy on the carpet by asking a very pertinent question: to paraphrase, "are you telling me that if you hire a company to perform a service at your home, like painting your roof, that you should be responsible for going out and asking any workers employed, not by you, but by the company you hired, and who don't look like you or who have a foreign sounding accent ... are you saying you should go out and ask them to show you their papers?"

Rudy couldn't answer.

Next up was Sleepy Fred, who said he found it interesting that Rudy would attack another candidate based on poor hiring decisions ... ouch. Had he delivered that line while wide awake, it might have been a keeper.

Incidentally, when Rudy tried to hit Romney again, the crowd booed ... and I mean booed Rudy. These guys are debating in Tampa, in what should be the heart of Rudy Country. The mayor is putting all his cards on Florida. Not a good look so far.

Update: John McCain is in the process of boring my husband...

Full coverage of the debate on CNN here.

Update 2: Romney is following up on a good McCain answer on GOP overspending. Romney is still the most polished slick (sorry, I must have been dozing off when I wrote that...) of these losers... I mean, candidates, although pound for pound, I think Rev. Huckabee is the best candidate (no formerly fat joke intended... He's the most authentic and despite being the most fundamentalist, he's also the least wierd, Ron Paul excepted...) Anyway, Rudy just used his first Ronald Reagan. I wonder if any of the Youtubers will ask him about voting for George McGovern (because he wanted to vote for Richard Nixon... but ... forgot ... ?)

Update 3: Okay, these guys are now officially boring me to tears. I guess the first five minutes were a clever Republican deception. Best answer so far, Ron Paul just answered the question about cutting programs by saying cut the Department of Education and bring the troops home from Iraq. Huckabee says get rid of the IRS by switching to the Fair Tax.

Revised: best answer so far -- Mike Huckabee said we should get rid of the IRS because "most people are more afraid of an audit than a mugging."

Update 4: Uh-oh, look at John McCain trying to step up ... McCain just hit Ron Paul on Iraq, saying of his views on Iraq: "that kind of thinking got us into World War II." and he used the "a" word (appeasement). Mick got a few applause on that one, but Ron Paul hit back, saying McCain doesn't even understand the difference between isolationism and non-interventionalism.

Okay, now they're doing their tax cut pledges. Going back to sleep now...

Update 5: waking back up. Anderson Cooper just asked Rudy about his taxpayer paid police detail to the Hamptons in the most dismissive, namby pamby manner possible, not even mentioning that the trips Rudy took were allegedly getaways with his mistress. Of course, Rudy dismissed it, and said he can't discuss his security needs because "there were threats that I don't often talk about..." Oooh, suspense. How un-journslistic of you, Anderson. He even responded to Rudy's answer by snapping, "good."

Update 6: the ultimate GOP billboard. Some hickbilly just asked the candidates to describe the guns they own. Never has there been a more irrelevant, backwater question in a debate (okay the UFO thing was pretty bad, too...)

Update 7: Reverend Huckabee is trying to explain how you can be both pro-life and pro-death penalty. The question was, "regarding the death penalty, what would Jesus do?" Huck didn't answer. He just added that "Jesus was too smart to run for public office." Tancredo dropped the ball on the question, too. This is one of those questions that no winger can answer credibly, because it exposes a core hypocrisy of the conservative movement. The answer is that Jesus was in the business of saving people, not killing them.

Now Rudy is answering a pretty creepy Internet guy's question about whether the candidates believe every word of the Bible by saying he doesn't believe it literally, but he "reads it a lot..." His answer was way too long to be credible, although I guess it makes sense since the Bible has stuff in there about not committing adultery.

Another emblematic moment for Republicans and conservatives. Many of their followers are almost robotic in their literalism and lack of complexity. What they want in a candidate is someone with a lot of guns, who believes literally in the Bible, who wants to jail abortion providers (and in some cases, the women getting abortions, too) but who matches being pro-life with a zeal to kill convicts and Arabs. They're so obtuse, they're almost South Park characters...

Update 8: another question Republicans simply can't answer. A questioner act how would you repair America's image in the Muslim world?

Rudy Giuliani - "by fighting the Islamofascist hoarde"

John McCain - "by continuing the surge in Iraq and never letting the Dems surrender!"

Duncan Hunter - "we save your asses when it floods in your God forsaken countries you foreign bastards!

And another - "do you oppose waterboarding?"

Romney - "we don't discuss our torture methods. ... and long live Gitmo!" (Romney also said he wants "what happened to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to happen to other terror suspects." So ... you want them to be waterboarded?

McCain - "I'm astonished that you haven't found out what waterboarding is, and that you would want that to happen to anyone in our capture. It's torture, it's a violation of the Geneva Conventions ... we're not gonna do what Pol Pot did ... how in the world anybody could think that that kind of thing could be inflicted on anyone in our custody is absolutely beyond me." Finally, someone who can answer the question. Romney is trying to recover, but why?

Wow. Mick just told his base that "I hope that we would understand, my friends, that life is not '24' or Jack Bauer." He just took a firm stand saying we should never allow torture to be countenenanced in our country. Good answer.

Okay, now some mook is blathering on about staying in Iraq forever and ever and ever... how long does this thing go, again ...?

Update 9: On Iraq, Ron Paul just followed up on a boring Fred Thompson shpiel by saying "the best thing we can do for the people of Iraq is to give them their country back." And Mick just missed Paul's point that after we left Vietnam (which McCain seems to think we won...) they became a modern trading partner rather than an enemy. "Vietnam achieved in peace what the French and the Americans couldn't achieve in 20 plus years of war." The troglodytes in the audience just booed him, but hey, they're Republicans...

Update 10: Ha! Rudy just answered a question about whether he's using 9/11 to enhance his political prospects by using the phrase "September 11,2001" four times. Oh, and he touted his record as a federal prosecutor in addition to his role as America's Mayor. Funny thing about that proscutorial record, though ... funny thing... From a July 1989 article in the New York Times:

In the midst of his Republican-Liberal campaign, a review of the Giuliani record, interviews with current and former prosecutors, law-enforcement officials, judges, defense lawyers and law professors, and a long interview with Mr. Giuliani present a profile of a skilled prosecutor who won some exceptional victories.

But the 45-year-old Mr. Giuliani is also coming to be seen by some as an ambitious prosecutor who used questionable judgment in several episodes at the Justice Department, both before and during his tenure as United States Attorney, and whose personal accomplishments may have been exaggerated by critics and supporters alike.

Even as Mr. Giuliani reaches for greater stature, many people - including some admirers - are urging that his larger-than-life image be reconsidered.

''People were caught up in the view of him as a superman or a devil,'' said Burt Neuborne, a professor at the New York University Law School and former national litigation director of the Amer-ican Civil Liberties Union.

''The truth is he was neither. He was a pretty good prosecutor who made some mistakes,'' Professor Neuborne said.

The Record Major Cases And Recognition

...Several of the most-noticed prosecutions begun in Mr. Giuliani's tenure are not complete. So they cannot be counted as his accomplishments. It is not clear whether the plea agreement Mr. Giuliani approved with Ivan F. Boesky, the arbitrager, will lead, as prosecutors hoped, to a conviction of Michael R. Milken, the former chief of high-yield bonds for Drexel Burnham Lambert.

Because of the ill health of Ferdinand E. Marcos, a Federal judge suspended the Government's case against the former president of the Philippines, and prosecutors have not had to test their charges against him; his wife, Imelda, and others.

The trial of the case against Leona Helmsley and two former aides under another major indictment filed in Mr. Giuliani's tenure has just begun. Attack by Judge

If there were major triumphs, there were also major setbacks, many of them recently. The divorce-fixing prosecution of Bess Myerson for supposedly trying to influence a State Supreme Court Justice ended in December with an acquittal. Shortly afterward, a Federal judge ruled that the Government had failed to prove, as Mr. Giuliani had charged, that the Genovese crime family controlled the main union at the Fulton Fish Market.

In March, another Federal judge threw out the charges against seven of 14 defendants in the Pizza Connection 2 heroin-trafficking case. The judge, John E. Sprizzo, ridiculed the caliber of the office Mr. Giuliani had recently left, calling the prosecutors incompetent and improperly trained.

Behind many headlines Mr. Giuliani generated, there was sometimes less substance than there appeared to be. He speaks frequently, for example, about his ''Federal day'' project, in which a day is chosen occasionally, without notice, when street drug dealers answer charges in Federal, instead of state, court. Because Federal drug enforcement is perceived as more punitive, the aim is to keep drug dealers off balance, not knowing where they might have to appear.

In 1986, the last year for which statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons are available, Mr. Giuliani's office sent 351 people to jail on controlled-substance and narcotics charges, including many who would have been arrested on Federal charges even without the special program.

That was 64 more people than were sent to prison by the Federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, who had no special project, and a small fraction of the 67,000 people arrested on narcotics charges in the city that year. Mr. Giuliani said he always warned that the program processed few people. The Image Out in Front When Camera's On.

... Some critics said Mr. Giuliani's flair sometimes overstated his accomplishments. He has long asserted he invented the use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, to pursue the Mafia commission. In his interview, Mr. Giuliani repeated an account he has told many times about formulating the idea before becoming United States Attorney, when he read a book by Joseph Bonnano Sr. about his life in the mob.

''Using it against the commission,'' Mr. Giuliani said, ''that was an idea that no one had until I developed it and went down to Washington and started talking about it. And I came to the office with it.''

That is flatly disputed by others who suggest the strategy was evolving. Mr. Martin said he had heard the approach discussed by highly placed people in the Federal Bureau of Investigation while he was a prosecutor. Mr. Goldstock of the state agency recalled that before Mr. Giuliani took office, Mr. Goldstock had fully briefed officials on bringing a RICO case against the five families.

Mr. Giuliani said the others' recollections were simply incorrect. ''Absolutely, totally not true,'' he said. ''Those people are now trying to recreate a good idea.''

And one more piece:

Mr. Giuliani's drive and self-assurance may have contributed to his few clear debacles as prosecutor. Campaign opponents question whether his strong commitments were motivated most by expediency.

They have questioned Mr. Giuliani's role as the main defender of the Justice Department policy of detaining illegal Haitian immigrants while he was the third-ranking official in the department in the Reagan Administration, which focused on control of illegal immigration. Human rights groups criticized the detention camps, saying many internees were political refugees trying to escape the repression of Jean-Claude Duvalier.

Mr. Giuliani said in the interview he still considered the policy justifiable, considering the problems caused by illegal immigration. McDonnell Douglas Case

Update 11: Mike Huckabee just blew Rudy out of the water on the question of why more African-Americans don't support the GOP. Rudy trotted out some tripe about reducing crime and giving out school vouchers. Huck on the other hand, said that 48 percent of AA voters in Arkansas supported him, "because I asked for their vote." He went on to talk about reaching out by way of appointments to his cabinet, and spending on things like diabetes and low income targeted healthcare.

Mittster and Sleepy Fred just took strong positions against the public display of the Confederate battle flag. Surprisingly un-pandery.

And Ron Paul has a quite good little Youtube commercial.

Sidebar: I'll tell you what, if the GOP had any sense, Huck would be the nominee. He would be the toughest candidate to beat, because shockingly, he comes off like a real "compassionate conservative" who is religious, but not looking to turn the country into a religious police state. What's also remarkable about Huckabee is that he, and Ron Paul, are the only two guys standing up there who seem to actually believe everything they're saying, which is why they don't have to pause or parse their words.

Okay, the debate is over. Rudy just tried to explain rooting for the BoSox.

CNN is focusing on the retired gay general who never got an answer to his question.

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posted by JReid @ 8:18 PM  
The Rudy and Judy Show! Sponsored by, the Taxpayers of New York City

File this one under, "I could have told you that..."

The mainstream media finally catches up with a seedy story New Yorkers have known about for years: that Bernie Kerik wasn't the only sleazebag using public resources for his private sexual affairs. Here's the headline from today's NY Post:


November 28, 2007 -- America's mayor reportedly dipped into various city agencies' budgets to pay for extra security while kicking off his extramarital affair with now-wife Judy Nathan, a political blog reported today.

The Post reported more than six years ago that the trips were costing New York taxpayers $3,000 a day.

Rudy Giuliani, previously undisclosed government documents show, used funds from small government agencies to pay his tab, alleged in a report.

It has previously been reported that Giuliani would sneak off to Hamptons to rendez-vous with then-girlfriend Nathan, and these trips incurred extra costs for the police officers assigned to protect the former mayor.

When the large expenses were found by the city comptroller months after Giuliani left office -- such as $34,000 of travel expenses billed to the New York City Loft Board's account -- the mayor's office simply cited "security," Jeff Simmons, spokesman for the city comptroller, told
The Post indeed did break the story years ago, when Bushie was running for Senator, that he used taxpayer funded security details to protect his then mistress, Judith Nathan, who is now his wife (until he finds something better, of course ... paging the Special Dispensation Cardinal!...) Perhaps the Post could look into who footed the bill for Rudy's rent when his then wife Donna Hanover kicked him out of Gracie Mansion for cheating, and he went to live with those gay guys and their dog...

Oh, sorry, I forgot ... the media doesn't talk about Rudy's private life. It's not relevant...

Anyway, here's the full report from Politico, including these juicy tidbits about the agencies that were paying for Rudy's Hamptons booty calls:

The documents, obtained by Politico under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.
In other words, Rudy screwed crippled people and indigent folk accused of crimes, in order to get his groove on. Now, here's Rudy acting like George W. Bush:

The expenses first surfaced as Giuliani's two terms as mayor of New York drew to a close in 2001, when a city auditor stumbled across something unusual: $34,000 worth of travel expenses buried in the accounts of the New York City Loft Board.

When the city's fiscal monitor asked for an explanation, Giuliani's aides refused, citing "security," said Jeff Simmons, a spokesman for the city comptroller.
And here's Rudy playing Tax Mooch Cassanova:

But American Express bills and travel documents obtained by Politico suggest another reason City Hall may have considered the documents sensitive: They detail three summers of visits to Southampton, the Long Island town where Nathan had an apartment.

Auditors "were unable to verify that these expenses were for legitimate or necessary purposes," City Comptroller William Thompson wrote of the expenses from fiscal year 2000, which covers parts of 1999 and 2000. ...

... The receipts tally the costs of hotel and gas bills for the police detectives who traveled everywhere with the mayor, according to cover sheets that label them “PD expenses” and travel authorizations that describe the trips. ...

... Many of the receipts are from hotels and gas stations on Long Island, where Giuliani reportedly began visiting Nathan’s Southampton condominium in the summer of 1999, though Giuliani and Nathan have never discussed the beginning of their relationship.

Nathan would go on to become Giuliani’s third wife, but his second marriage was officially intact until the spring of 2000, and City Hall officials at the time responded to questions about his absences by saying he was spending time with his son and playing golf.
So Rudy wasn't above using his son as an excuse to see his girlfriend ... sounds very presidential.
For those on the right, including kooks like Pat Robertson and self-riteous airheads like Glenn Beck, to justify their support for Giuliani by calling his libidinous behavior "irrelevant", I would ask the following question: how can you say that Rudy's affair isn't relevant when it involved the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for security? Just sayin' ... and I don't want to hear the words "Bill Clinton." Clinton never used the Secret Service to shuttle Monica around, and his fooling around had absolutely no connection to his public office. Not so in the case of Rudy, who conducted his affair with the help of New York City taxpayers -- some of the most heavily taxed people in the country.

Even after his term as mayor ended, Rudy continued to receive taxpayer funded security to the tune of $1 million per year, with more than a dozen cops protecting him, his former wife, and his kids (and probably his mistress, too.) The New York press has covered Rudy's marital soap opera for years, and this story is NOT news to those of us who have lived in NYC.

We remember, for example, back in the spring of 2001 when Rudy, in his move to push Donna Hanover out the door, cut her security detail. Note the interesting detail about Judy in this humdinger from the NYT's Elizabeth Bumiller:

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani cut in half the office staff of his estranged wife, Donna Hanover, yesterday as police officials announced separately that they had reassigned three members of Ms. Hanover's security detail to other jobs.

Mr. Giuliani's actions made it clear that he would continue to use the powers of his office to sever his wife from her public role as the city's first lady and to isolate her as much as possible during his final months in office.

A police official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said three police detectives assigned to Ms. Hanover to make security arrangements in advance of her public appearances had been reassigned on Friday. Ms. Hanover will still be protected, the official said, by an undisclosed number of detectives traveling with her. ''She has an adequate security detail,'' the official said.

Helene Brezinsky, Ms. Hanover's divorce lawyer, said she had no comment. ...

... Last week, aides to Mr. Giuliani said he was stripping Ms. Hanover of her public duties and giving the role of his hostess to Irene R. Halligan, the commissioner of the New York City Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol. Mr. Giuliani filed for divorce from his wife last fall.

... ''To the extent that Donna is no longer performing a function derived from the mayor, she doesn't need a public relations person,'' said a senior City Hall aide.

... The police official added that Judith Nathan, Mr. Giuliani's friend, was no longer receiving security protection. In January, police officials disclosed that Ms. Nathan had been receiving police protection since she was threatened a few days after Christmas, when a man confronted her on the street not far from her Upper East Side apartment. Officials said at the time that it was probable that the man had approached her because of her relationship with the mayor. Ms. Nathan's security protection, the official said, ended a few weeks later.

Mr. Giuliani announced last May that he was seeking a separation from Ms. Hanover and that Ms. Nathan had become increasingly important to him. Ms. Hanover and the couple's two children continue to live at Gracie Mansion, and Mr. Giuliani uses a guest room there. Earlier this month he had his divorce lawyers argue that he should be allowed to bring Ms. Nathan there. A judge disagreed and barred Ms. Nathan from Gracie Mansion. Mr. Giuliani is appealing.

Mr. Giuliani has grown increasingly angry that Ms. Hanover continues to play a first lady role as their marriage has crumbled and he has chosen Ms. Nathan as his public companion.
Update: Wolf Blitzer actually covered the story. Just teased it on CNN. Wow. Next thing you know Chris Matthews will be paying attention...

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posted by JReid @ 6:10 PM  
Musharraf sheds the uniform
Pervez Musharraf finally steps down as head of Pakistan's Army. Stepping down as dictator? Don't hold your breath...

No, seriously, now that he has been safely installed as civilian president, thanks to a little maneuver called "suspend the constitution," Our Man Pervez now says OK to lifting the state of emergency. After all, the emergency -- the Supreme Court attempting to prevent him from taking office as president -- has officially passed.

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posted by JReid @ 5:44 PM  
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Three hours of diplomacy
George W. Bush didn't stick around long enough to find out if his girlfriend Secretary of State's lil' old peace initiative got off the ground. But he did stay at the (laughs here) Bush administration Middle East peace summit in Anapolis long enough to butcher the names of the two men he theoretically hopes to bring together.

Watch ... and cringe ... here.

And you've got to love the part at the end where Ehud Olmert (that's "OHL-mert" for you White House phonetic spellers) instructs the Prez that if they would just step out from behind the podium, (you shmuck...) the cameras could actually capture the photo op for which they came -- featuring the American, Palestinian and Israeli leaders shaking hands ... an op btw that seems somehow to have had a lot more resonance during previous administrations... you know, back in the days when presidents spent more than three hours working on this stuff.



T minus thirty minutes to the three martini lunch ...

All jokes aside, I said back in 2000 that perhaps the only up-side to a Bush presidency might be a solution to the Mideast conflict, which I've always believed would be more likely to come with the help of a Republican president than a Democratic one, given their wider latitude to get tough with the Israelis. That was true with Bush's father, who for all his faults, wasn't afraid to take a hard line with the Likudniks, particularly given all the money he and his family make with the Arab world... ahem ...

Well, fool me once. Bush Jr. has turned out to be a dud in that regard, possessed with a zeal to nestle into the pockets of the Likud that is unlike anything this side of a neocon (or Pat Robertson). And whether or not George actually succeeds in bringing on the Armageddon (that'll show dad who's a failure!) it seems more likely than not that he will fail to create a Mideastern counterbalance to the legacy killing adventure in Iraq.

Of course, stranger things have happened, and hell, they have set a convenient deadline that would make peace a lovely parting gift for the Worst President Ever...

Ah, diplomacy.

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posted by JReid @ 9:45 PM  
Sunday, November 25, 2007
The homecoming
The man whose government Pervez Musharraf overthrew in 1999 comes home. So who is Nawaz Sharif? Here's the Times' take, and here's the BBC's profile from back in 2000. Excerpt:
Before his dramatic overthrow in a military coup in 1999, Mr Sharif appeared to dominate the political landscape.

He had convincing majorities in both houses of parliament, and exerted a powerful hold over all the country's major institutions - apart from the army.

But when the army seized power, Mr Sharif was arrested, and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of hijacking and terrorism.

He was also convicted of corruption and banned for life from political activities.

Well now he's back in Lahore. Next move, Musharraf...

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posted by JReid @ 11:27 PM  
Down goes Howard
Another member of the "coalition of the willing" goes down. John Howard follows in the footsteps of Jose Maria Asnar of Spain and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy in defeat, not to mention the ultimately fatally damaged Tony Blair, who went quietly into that good political night after an agonizing near year of promising to finally go. The message: as Jesse Jackson said, "stay out of the Bushes."

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posted by JReid @ 6:43 PM  
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Ye Olde Primary Calendar
Courtesy of the Freep:

Jan. 3: Iowa caucuses

Jan. 5: Wyoming GOP caucuses

Jan. 8: New Hampshire primary

Jan. 15: Michigan primary

Jan. 19: Nevada caucuses, South Carolina GOP primary

Jan. 26: South Carolina Democratic primary

Jan. 29: Florida primary

Feb. 1: Maine Republican caucuses

Feb. 5: Alabama primary, Alaska caucuses, Arizona primary, Arkansas primary, California primary, Colorado caucuses, Connecticut primary, Delaware primary, Georgia primary, Idaho Democratic caucuses, Illinois primary, Kansas Democratic caucuses, Minnesota caucuses, Missouri primary, New Jersey primary, New Mexico Democratic caucuses, New York primary, North Dakota caucuses, Oklahoma primary, Tennessee primary, Utah primary

Feb. 9: Kansas Republican caucuses, Louisiana primary

Feb. 10: Maine Democratic caucuses

Feb. 12: District of Columbia primary, Maryland primary, Virginia primary

Feb. 19: Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Washington primary, Wisconsin primary (Hawaii Republicans will have no primary or caucus.)

March 4: Massachusetts primary, Ohio primary, Rhode Island primary, Texas primary, Vermont primary

March 8: Wyoming Democratic caucuses

March 11: Mississippi primary

April 22: Pennsylvania primary

May 6: Indiana primary, North Carolina primary

May 13: Nebraska primary, West Virginia primary

May 20: Kentucky primary, Oregon primary

May 27: Idaho Republican primary

June 3: Montana primary, New Mexico GOP caucuses, South Dakota primary

Thanks to the machinations, mainly of the DNC, Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the least diverse, least representative states in the Union, have an even more outsized influence on who the next president will be. This thing is over after February 5th.

The WaPo offers a handy map, complete with clickable state delegate counts.

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posted by JReid @ 7:23 PM  
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The Oprah effect
Obama is not only getting a boost in the Iowa polls, he's also getting ... "A BASKET OF ALL MY FAVORITE DESIGNER THINGS!!!!" ... no, actually Oprah's just campaigning for him. Not a bad deal, for the Barackster, though...

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posted by JReid @ 11:04 PM  
Mr. Know-it-all?

Every so often, something happens -- sometimes big, sometimes small -- that forces you to contemplate the possibility that George W. Bush isn't a stupid as he seems to be. ... that somehow, he actually does know what's going on around him, and that worse, he is in on it. This used to happen to me with Ronald Reagan from time to time -- those moments when you got the feeling that he may have only seemed senile, but in fact, was the mastermind behind all the bad things being done in his name (Iran Contra was such a moment, but looking back, I'm leaning more toward his being used by people like Ollie North and Elliot Abrams...)

This is that kind of moment for GWB, and it comes courtesy of a doughey, sweaty little Texan named Scott, who used to work at the White House... Today, the company that's publishing his "tell all" book issued a couple of tantalizing paragraphs related to Scott's role in the cover-up following the outing of CIA covert agent Valerie Plame. Bloomberg picks it up from there:

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a memoir that he unintentionally misled the public about the leak of a CIA operative's name because of misinformation given to him by President George W. Bush, political adviser Karl Rove and other top officials.

A three-paragraph excerpt from the book released today by the publisher doesn't give details of what the president told McClellan. The case eventually led to the indictment and conviction of Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

``I stood at the White House briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby,'' McClellan, 39, wrote. ``There was one problem. It was not true.''

McClellan wrote that he ``unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff, and the president himself.''
The White House, through its current flaks, has of course denied that Georgie would EVER ask anyone to lie, much less about the leaking of classified information -- something he claimed back in 2003 he knew not a thing about. As for McClellan -- the White House is implying that "he thinks the paragraphs were taken out of context." How Dana Perrino knows what Scott McClellan thinks is not explained, unless of course Dick Cheney is somewhere in a secret location, to which poor Scott has been dragged, bound and gagged, and is now telling him what he thinks.

What's intriguing about the McClellan eruption is that it brings us back to the fundamental question that Patrick Fitzgerald was never able to answer for us during the Plame leak investigation, because of the sand thrown in his eyes by the perjurious Scooter Libby: namely, who inside the White House knew that Scooter Libby was peddling classified information that the White House hoped would discredit Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had blown the whistle on the Bush administration's foreknowledge of the emptiness of their charges about Iraq and yellowcake from Niger. Who knew, and who may have ordered Libby, and perhaps others (Newsweek's new golden boy Karl Rove comes to mind... kudos to the editors at Time, by the way, for having higher standards...) to leak Plame's identity, outing and endangering her and anyone who worked with her, and blowing years of weapons intelligence that had been gathered by her through the CIA front company Brewster Jennings.

Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby clearly suggests that he believes that the vice president was involved -- perhaps even the key player in the treasonous game of hardball. But McClellan's little paragraphs open the door to the possibility that the culprits in the unprecedented betrayal of a covert agent by her own government -- something brand new in American history -- may have gone all the way to the top.

Funny, that.

A reporter on MSNBC tonight suggested that the book is "Scottie's revenge," and says that McClellan left the White House bitter and angry at having been misused by the White House in the Libby affair. David Gregory disagreed with the revenge thing (he would, he doesn't often go out on a limb when it comes to politics...) but he did agree that McClellan left the White House a bitter man. He certainly seems to be putting some distance between himself and the 22 other administration officials involved in either the leak itself, or the cover-up. ... including one rather dim, but maybe not-so dumb ... George W. Bush. More on the case against Bush in the Plamegate affair from Thinkprogress here.

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posted by JReid @ 10:12 PM  
Monday, November 19, 2007
He said it
Former New York City Fire Chief Jim Riches on his former boss, Rudy Giuliani:

"This guy will do anything to get elected."


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posted by JReid @ 10:17 PM  
How to win a primary and lose and election
The latest skirmish between the Democratic front-runners, who are apparently determined to immolate each other so thoroughly that it won't matter which one of their charred corpses emerges as the nominee, because his or her fellow Democrats will have already written that candidate's obituary in Primary blood, has me believing that the Democratic Party might just be terminal.

The latest proof that Democrats are more interested in winning primaries than general elections: Barack Obama is now attacking Hillary Clinton, in person and by name, using material gleaned from one Robert David Sanders Novak.

...the same Robert Novak who knowingly outed covert CIA operative Valerie Plame...


It all started when Novak penned a gossip column entry so thin and nebulous that it almost has to have come, not from secret sources within the Clinton campaign, but from Novak's scumbag Republican friends. Get a load of this idiotic piece of gossip:
Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.
Did I mention that Novak, who is in close running with Rudy's pal Pat Robertson for Most Likely to Actually Be The Devil... had the temerity to do his publishing on a Sunday? Oh, irony...

Anyway, the key line in this waste of words is the following: "The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed." And the purpose of the blind item would be ...??? Exactly.

The Novak column did contain one piece of wisdom that even the Dems should be able to figure out:
Experienced Democratic political operatives believe Clinton wants to avoid a repetition of 2004, when attacks on each other by presidential candidates Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt were mutually destructive and facilitated John Kerry's nomination.
Indeed, which I suppose is the last, best hope of John Edwards.

This entire "scandal" is pathetic, but it does prove something I've believed for some time, which is that Democrats are good at only three things:

1. Capitulating to Republican presidents
2. Capitulating to Republican members of Congress; and
3. Decimating each other in primaries in order to ensure a Democrat can't win the White House

Enter Barack obama, who incredibly, not only apparently believes what he reads in a freaking Robert Novak column, but who appears more than willing to act on it, John Edwards style, to the detriment of a political rival who ... and this is the important part ... is a member of the same party he is, and who could eventually become the nominee, as could he. Meaning that if he destroys said political rival, the results in the general election will be predictable, and most helpful to the GOP.

Said Obama at a presser responding to the unsourced rumor:
"We don't want anybody to have any doubts that when it comes to these kinds of practices, I won't tolerate it," Obama said, responding to reporters' questions on the controversy. "In the era of the blogosphere…if you don't get on this stuff quick, then it starts drifting around."
And he added this:
“I am prepared to stand up to that kind of politics, whether it's deployed by candidates in our party, in the other party or by any third party,” Obama said. “The cause of change in this country will not be deterred or sidetracked by the old ‘Swift boat’ politics. The cause of moving America forward demands that we defeat it.”
Nice flourish, but one has to wonder whether the appearance of toughness on Obama's part is somewhat misdirected.

If the ongoing Democratic fratricide had some purpose, other than to satiate a media elite that has been virtually demanding internecine war between the Dems in order to satiate their Clinton fetish without actually appearing to slime the Hated Couple THEMSELVES, then I could understand it. But alas, there is no point to it. John Edwards is on a search and destroy mission against those he sees as standing between him and a White House he will never occupy...

Barack is caving to the media demands that he destroy Hillary for them, only to find himself in the position of being the one Democrat who still reads Novak's column (maybe it's a Chicago thing...) and doing the bidding of Clinton jihadists like Chris Matthews.

And after all the dirt has been thrown, what will we be left with besides a series of neatly produced GOP attack ads for the general election, written not by Karl Rove, but by other Democrats.

To quote Bill Cosby, "come on, people!"

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the 11th Commandment states that "thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Democrat." Recall that of all the nasty things that were said about Reagan, the one that has really stuck: the notion of "voodoo economics," came from one of his own: his future vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush.

I find it stunning that the Dems who are running for president are getting busy attacking one another, while virtually ignoring the big, fat elephants in the room, starting with the president and working your way down through the his sycophant courtiers in Congress, and those crackpot geezers running for the nomination of the GOP. Ya think the Dem first tier guys could find SOMETHING about any of those clowns to attack?

Earth to Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama: one of you will be the Democratic nominee for president. And before you take on the job of "uniting the county" -- an idea that assumes that most Republicans want to unite with you ... you will have to start by uniting your party, and consolidating the support ... and this is the big one ... of your present rivals. If you make it your business to destroy those Democratic rivals, then good luck doing THAT.

Figure out who the enemy is, fellas. Hint: it's not Hillary and Bill Clinton.


That said, there is a reason why candidates fall into the negative campaign trap: it works. At least in primaries. The latest Iowa polling bears that out, showing Barack Obama pulling every so slightly ahead of Hillary (though still within the margin of error. Still, perception is important.)

The new polling doesn't take the Novak nastiness into account, but it does reflect at least three weeks of continual Hillary pounding. Bottom line, the poll does suggest that the negativity against Clinton is working, not for the main peddler of it, John Edwards, but for Barack:

At the heart of the Democratic race has been the dichotomy between strength and experience (qualities emphasized by Clinton, Richardson, and Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut in their appeals) and the ability to introduce a new approach to governing (as Obama and Edwards have promised to do).

Iowa Democrats are tilting toward change, and Obama appears to be benefiting from it.

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed reported that a "new direction and new ideas" are their top priority, compared with 33 percent who favored "strength and experience." That is a shift from July, when 49 percent sought change and 39 percent experience.

Nationally, Clinton is viewed as a candidate of change, with support from 41 percent of Democrats seeking a new direction in a recent Post-ABC poll. But in Iowa, Obama dominates the "change" vote, winning 43 percent of that group, compared with 25 percent for Edwards and 17 percent for Clinton.

Still, Clinton retains a comfortable lead among Iowa voters who consider strength and experience more important, with 38 percent compared with 19 percent for Edwards, 18 percent for Richardson and 12 percent for Obama, according to the new survey.

She appears more vulnerable on questions of character. Thirty-one percent found Obama to be the most honest and trustworthy, about double the percentage who said the same of Clinton. While about three-quarters credited both Obama and Edwards with speaking their minds on issues, only 50 percent said Clinton is willing enough to say what she really thinks. Forty-five percent said she is not sufficiently candid.

Overall, the poll points to some strategic gains for Obama. His support is up eight percentage points since July among voters 45 and older -- who accounted for two-thirds of Iowa caucus-goers in 2004. He also runs evenly with Clinton among women in Iowa, drawing 32 percent to her 31 percent, despite the fact that her campaign has built its effort around attracting female voters.

In the end, the personal attacks may bring down Hillary. Democrats who want to win next November ought to hope that if the attacks continue, that they DO take her down. Otherwise, Mrs. Clinton will limp into the general thoroughly decimated by members of her own party, and possibly fatally so. If she does go down hard, Obama (most likely the beneficiary) will have a hell of a time bringing her supporters into the fold. And he will foreclose the possibility of utilizing the major campaign asset called William Jefferson Clinton. (though clearly, given his message, Obama wouldn't want to have Clinton campaign for him.)

It's a major gamble on the part of Edwards and Obama. A desperate gamble that can only hurt their party's chances in the general.

Update: My point exactly...

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posted by JReid @ 9:18 PM  
And the endorsement goes to...
Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey, and former chair of the 9/11 Commission -- you know, the commission charged with getting to the bottom of the intelligence failures that allowed the worst terror attack on this country, which happened to take place in the city where Giuliani was mayor, thus becoming the entire raison d'etre for his presidential campaign, and a nice little money maker for the Rudester to boot -- THAT Tom Kean has endorsed for president, the man he believes can best keep this country safe:

John McCain.

Whether Kean's nod will help McCain remains to be seen, but it sure doesn't help Rudy to continue peddling his 9/11 wares, a hawk job so tacky even the New York Post is picking up on it.

Meanwhile, a group of 9/11 families and New York firefighters are saying, "not so fast, Rudy."

A group of 9/11 families and firefighters who oppose Giuliani's candidacy were outraged.

"Giuliani is running on 9/11 and portraying himself as a hero. It's disgusting. It's horrible," FDNY Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches said.

"This guy will do anything to get elected."

"He's misleading voters and distorting the truth. He didn't prepare the first responders for a terrorist attack. The Office of Emergency Management was a joke that day. There was a lack of communication. People died unnecessarily."

The mailing also says Giuliani "refused to raise taxes after the attacks - refuting calls from Democrats to do so."

The group of 9/11 families and firefighters will be in New Hampshire today to argue that he failed to adequately prepare for a terrorist attack.

The group has also questioned Giuliani's management of the cleanup effort, claiming thousands of Ground Zero workers got sick because they weren't given protective masks.

"I understand the emotions surrounding Sept. 11, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that it was the terrorists who attacked New York City," said firefighter and Giuliani campaign adviser Lee Ielpi, whose son, Jonathan, died on 9/11.

Giuliani has repeatedly challenged accusations that his candidacy is based solely on the attacks, saying during a recent debate, "The reality is that I'm not running on what I did on Sept. 11."
To quote Chris Matthews: "Ha!!"

So, will Rudy's News Corp coziness convince the media to give up its public relations flacking for "America's Mayor?" (a fact very well documented here...) After all, this is a guy running on his supposed "leadership" after the 9/11 attacks, but who spent more time at baseball games than he did at Ground Zero ... (you won't here that on Fox News Channel...) whose only religious endorsement is from a nut-job who spends time predicting the end of "Its a Small World" at Disney World... and whose last remaining Catholic pall is an alleged pedophile priest, and whose top priority after 9/11 was making money, off 9/11 ... an endeavor so important to him he quit the Iraq Study Group in order to pursue it full time.

Yeah, sounds like a guy who should be president.

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posted by JReid @ 8:37 PM  
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Oops he did it again
Part of the flawed rationale for supporting George W. Bush, for those who did in 2000 and 2004, was that he "knows who he is," is "comfortable in his own skin," and that he makes up for his lack of international experience and book knowledge with good old fashioned cowboy sense.

Well, call it the "brokeback presidency." Instead of using common sense. Dubya falls in love with some of the world's most undemocratic leaders, and like many people who make bad relationship choices, he misjudged his paramours ... repeatedly.

He holds hands with the Saudis. ... the Saudis who send allllll that money to al-Qaida ... and to George W. Bush ... ok, he's getting something out of that relationship...
Then there's Vladimir Putin -- Bush looked into his eyes and saw a strong friend and democratic leader, rather than a guy who's even more blatant than Bush himself at crushing dissent and scuttling democracy. This despite having a Russia expert on the payroll.

Bush has backed a series of failed leaders in Iraq (after completely blowing the analysis of Saddam Hussein, the supposed scariest man on earth before we found out he was more honest than Dubya about WMD...) He listened to Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and backed lying, thieving Ahmad Chalabi. Then he had his viceroy place former CIA asset Ayad Allawi in the prime minister's chair. And he has repeatedly praised incompetent Shiite militia ... I mean government ... leader, P.M. Nouri al-Maliki, despite the latter's many failings.

So it's little wonder that Bush also got it wrong ... very, dangerously wrong ... when it came to General Pervez Musharraf -- a man Bush couldn't even name before he took office. The New York Times has more:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 — In the six years since Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, joined President Bush in the fight against Al Qaeda, it has been an unlikely partnership: a president intent on promoting democracy and a military commander who seized power in a bloodless coup.

Mr. Bush has repeatedly called Gen. Musharraf “a friend.” In 2003, the president invited the general to Camp David, a presidential perk reserved for the closest of allies. Last year, at the general’s insistence, Mr. Bush risked a trip to Pakistan, jangling the nerves of the Secret Service by spending the night in the country presumed to be home to Osama bin Laden.

But now that the general has defied the White House, suspending Pakistan’s Constitution and imposing martial law, old tensions are flaring anew. Mr. Bush is backing away from the leader he once called a man of “courage and vision,” and critics are asking whether the president misread his Pakistani counterpart.

They said Mr. Bush — an ardent believer in personal diplomacy, who once remarked that he had looked into the eyes of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and had gotten “a sense of his soul” — was taken in by the general, with his fluent English and his promises to hold elections and relinquish military power. They said Mr. Bush looked at General Musharraf and saw a democratic reformer when he should have seen a dictator instead.

“He didn’t ask the hard questions, and frankly, neither did the people working for him,” said Husain Haqqani, an expert on Pakistan at Boston University who has advised two previous Pakistani prime ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. “They bought the P.R. image of Musharraf as the reasonable general. Bush bought the line — hook, line and sinker.” ...

Another clip:

Experts in United States-Pakistan relations said General Musharraf has played the union masterfully, by convincing Mr. Bush that he alone can keep Pakistan stable. Kamran Bokhari, an analyst for Stratfor, a private intelligence company, who met with General Musharraf in January, said the general views Mr. Bush with some condescension.

“Musharraf thinks that Bush has certain weaknesses that can be manipulated,” Mr. Bokhari said, adding, “I would say that President Musharraf doesn’t think highly of President Bush, but his interests force him to do business with the U.S. president.”

In his autobiography, “In the Line of Fire,” General Musharraf writes glowingly of the trust Mr. Bush placed in him. But he passed up a chance to praise Mr. Bush on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” where he was promoting the book. Mr. Stewart asked who would win a hypothetical contest for mayor of Karachi, Mr. Bush or Mr. bin Laden.

“I think they’ll both lose miserably,” the general replied.

Mr. Bush, by contrast, was “favorably impressed” with General Musharraf, according to Ari Fleischer, the president’s former press secretary. Mr. Fleischer recounted one session where the general had been warned in advance not to ask the president for F-16 fighter jets, because the answer would be no.

“Musharraf brought it up anyway,” Mr. Fleischer said, “and Bush told him the answer is no. But I think Bush liked the fact that he does what he wants to do, and says what’s on his mind.”

... wouldn't it be nice if it were surprising?

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posted by JReid @ 5:19 PM  
If you've lived anywhere near Boston...
You know this is a horrible idea. It's got everything a bad policing idea needs: the potential upswing in racial tensions and a complete degradation of civil liberties...
posted by JReid @ 5:16 PM  
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The Rudy files does a colonoscopy on Rudy Giuliani's rather extensive ties to Roger Ailes' GOP friendly "news" outlet, Fox "News" Channel. Read it here.

Meanwhile, the Romney and McCain camps finally pick up the cudgel, leaning on Rudy over his sordid ties in NYC. The New York Observer reports that one McCain aide told reports:
"Obviously there are some very serious charges involved for a guy who was his protégé and one of his closest friends. And for Rudy to go out and say this is not worthy of discussion when it directly involves him and his decision making, and in the case of department of homeland security, the security of our country - it's disturbing that Rudy would think it's not something he is going to have to address. "
And then the aide said more:
Referring to remarks Tony Carbonetti recently made to me that there was no way Giuliani or any of his aides could have known about Kerik's alleged crimes, the aide said, "That was shocking. It is just revisionist history. Rudy is the godfather to two of this guy's kids--he is as close as you can get."

The aide also said that the Giuliani campaign's sharp response to recent remarks by McCain showed how vulnerable he felt on the Kerik issue.

"They clearly came unhinged," said the aide. "What's going to happen when the discussion turns to Rudy's friend Msgr. Alan Placa?"
Placa is the alleged pedophile priest who married Rudy G to his cousin. Ahem ...

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden had this to say:
"Voters grow very weary of story after story after story having to do with public officials who have not adhered to higher ethical standards," said Madden. "Right now it is very important to Republican primary voters that we have a candidate who can draw a very clear contrast between a Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton. If you have a nominee who is distracted by this type of narrative, you lose the ability to contrast yourself with Hillary Clinton and past Clinton administrations. It cancels out any advantage you would have."
Meanwhile, Rudy was in Tampa today and wasn't asked a single question about Kerik by the crack media folks down here. Oh right, Flawrida is Rudy's firewall state. Why rock the boat?

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posted by JReid @ 11:17 PM  
Bonds indicted
Down goes Barry. He faces up to 30 years in prison after being indicted today on obstruction of justice and perjury charges, and according to NBC News, there is a positive urine test to back up the prosecution's case that he lied to investigators in the Balco case about taking steroids. BTW according to Lance Williams of the San Francisco Chronicle, one of the guys who broke the original story on this, Bonds and every other athlete interviewed in the Balco case, had an immunity deal that could have allowed him to admit steroid use and not go to jail. The immunity deal did not cover lying. Major league problem...


posted by JReid @ 11:12 PM  
When an idea's this bad...
Quietly ... oh, so quietly ... Condi drops her plan to force U.S. diplomats to risk their lives in "The New Iraq."

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posted by JReid @ 10:57 PM  
The round-up
Okay, the debate is done. So how'd they do?

Hillary -

She improved her performance 100 percent over the last debate. She was extremely effective at backing down the attacks on her, particularly from Edwards, with her line about his "personally attacking her" and "throwing mud." Hillary was prepared (good line: "I'm not playing the gender card here in Las Vegas, I'm trying to play the winning card,") and she capped the night with a nice answer to an audience question about whether she preferred diamonds or pearls: "I want both" said Hillary. Not an important question, but very important in that she continues to humanize and soften herself, while remaining tough and resolute on the issues. Most important, she maneuvered herself into a position in the first 20 minutes where any attacks on her were met with audience boos. Best 20 minutes in a debate for any candidate so far, and Hillary won it hands down. My grade for Hil: A

Barack -

Not a bad night for my man Barack. He found a good timbre for most of the debate, balancing the professor thing with the candidate thing. He has a problem going forward, though, in that the first 20 minutes not only defanged Edwards, but it also turned his much more gentle digs at Hillary into boo-lines. That complicates things for Barack. And his long, drawn out answer on driver's licenses will take the air out of his attacks on Hillary in that regard. It also highlights HIS very unpopular position on licenses for illegal immigrants -- an issue on which Hillary has since gotten right. (David Gergen is saying that Hil's camp pressed NY Guv Spitzer to drop the plan before the debate.) Barack is still the top second banana. My grade: B


Hands down, his worst night so far. His overheated attacks on Hillary Clinton got the royal smackdown tonight, from Hillary herself, from some zinger questions by the moderators, and by, of all people, Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd, who's one-two punches on his switcharoo positions on the Patriot Act, the war, and China, and his "shrillness" -- the Dodd line that will live on for at least a news cycle. He tried to recover at the end by -- and here's a novelty -- going after "Bush, Cheney and the neocons" for a change, but in my opinion, it was too little, too late. Sorry, folks, but Edwards is done. Stick a fork in him. Iowans don't like nasty, and they don't like shrill, and Democrats don't like Democrats who eat their own. My grade: F


Biden is my favorite candidate that I'm not supporting. Seriously, if Hillary and Barack weren't in the race, Biden would be my guy, as he was the first time he ran for president. He's witty, hella-knowledgeable, and thorough in his answers. Biden helped himself tonight. If he doesn't go up in the polls, it's only because people don't believe he can win. And he's learned to be succinct. I will be so as well. My grade: B+


Dodd was actually quite good tonight. His answer on the Supreme Court was in my view the best of the bunch, and he has strong, well thought out positions on Iran and Pakistan. Dodd also nailed the "human rights or national security" question cold. He impressed me with his Espanol (que fluencia!) and he's lost all that weight! My grade: B


Bill Richardson is sooooo out of his depth. His answer that human rights sometimes trumps national security is a classic rookie mistake, falling for a leading, gotcha moderator question. Wolf tagged him on that one. He's not ready for primetime. My grade: D


Besides the fact that he reminds me of a gnome, I thought Kucinich managed to tone down the crazy factor tonight, and he had that great line about being the only one to vote against the Patriot Act, "because I read it." He still has no better chance of being president than I do, but Lil' Dennis did well tonight, for what it's worth. My grade: B

Overall, I think Hillary was the clear winner tonight, with Barack coming in a strong second.

Update: CNN is up with their top ten debate zingers video. Meanwhile the MSNBC headline says it all: Clinton fires back. That's your headline for tomorrow.

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posted by JReid @ 10:21 PM  
That darned transcript
Politico is up with the Obama stumble on ID cards for illegal immigrants. Chris Matthews should enjoy it:
BLITZER: Well, let's go through everybody because I want to be
precise. I want to make sure the viewers and those of us who are here
fully understand all of your positions on this barring -- avoiding,
assuming -- there isn't going to be comprehensive immigration reform.

Do you support or oppose driver's licenses for illegal

OBAMA: I am not proposing that that's what we do.

What I'm saying is that we can't...


No, no, no, no. Look, I have already said, I support the notion
that we have to deal with public safety and that driver's licenses at
the same level can make that happen.

But what I also know...

BLITZER: All right...

OBAMA: But what I also know, Wolf, is that if we keep on getting
distracted by this problem, then we are not solving it.

BLITZER: But -- because this is the kind of question that is
sort of available for a yes or no answer.


Either you support it or you oppose it.

Not a good look in an otherwise solid performance tonight by Barack. He seems to be doing better at finding a balance between professor and candidate. With the exception of a few rather John Edwards-esque barbs, like "I think I can do it better, that's why I'm running..." He has done well, in my estimation, as have Hillary and a couple of the second-tiers: Biden and Dodd. More oo that later...

BTW Hillary is doing the best so far at portraying a positive candidacy. She seems to have largely defanged John Edwards, as I said before, with considerable help from the moderators, the quite good tonight Campbell Brown, and the testy, impatient Wolf Blitzer.

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posted by JReid @ 10:13 PM  
Back to the debate
The candidates were asked what they would look for in a Supreme Court Justice, and whether they would insist that a nominee support abortion rights. On that topic, Politico's Ben Smith, who is liveblogging the debate, just pointed out something interesting about Joe Biden:
For some reason it doesn't get mentioned a lot these days, but Biden was, in large part, the guy who Borked Bork, back when he was running for president in 1988.

"I have taken on those justices," he said, saying the country has had enough ideologues and professors -- Bork is both -- on the bench.

Biden just helped himself with women by saying that the next SupCo Justice should be a woman.

Hillary just praised Biden for his knowledge of the constitution, and called it "one of the great tragedies of our history that George W. Bush didn't understand the way our government is supposed to work."

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posted by JReid @ 10:07 PM  
Rudy, Rudy, Rudy
In this post, I pointed you to an interesting investigation by Taylor Marsh into those nasty push polls in Iowa, attacking both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards as "weak candidates," and the suspicion that the trail could lead to our friend, Rudy Giuliani? Well get a load of this:
Anti-Romney, anti-Mormon calls being made in Iowa

In an apparent push poll, a research firm has called Iowa Republicans this week praising John McCain and critcizing Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith.

An individual in Manchester, Iowa, contacted me on Wednesday night saying he received a call with information about McCain's military service and anti-spending record.

Then there were "lots of negatives on Romney," said the recepient of the call in an e-mail, including mentions of his "flip-flops," hiring illegal immigrants as landscapers and extensive discussion of Mormonism.

"Statements were on baptizing the dead, the Book of Mormon being on the level of the Bible, and one about equating it to a cult," said the Iowan, deeming them "common criticisms of Mormonism."

"I think they asked twice if being a Mormon would be an issue," this person added.

The person conducting the call said he didn't know who they were polling for, said the source.

McCain's campaign, which has fielded calls into their Iowa headquarters complaining of similar such calls, emphatically denies responsibility.

"Senator McCain strongly rejects this style of campaigning and we have absolutely no involvement whatsover," said Jon Seaton, McCain's top aide in Iowa.

Another McCain source, however, said tonight that the calls had been traced back to a number linked to the Tarrance Group -- Rudy Giuliani's pollster.

Of course, Rudy's camp vigorously denies having any part in this. However...
Calls to Ed Goeas, Giuliani's pollster and a principal at the Tarrance Group, and Mitt Romney's campaign were not immediately returned.
I mean if he called back, he might have to lie. Just ask Judith Regan.

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posted by JReid @ 9:46 PM  
Best debate yet
The Dems are debating in Vegas (on CNN,) and I've gotta tell you, it's the best one yet. As usual, Joe Biden is bringing the funny, but right off the bat, John Edwards is being made to answer for his personal attacks (Hillary nailed him on that one), his mudslinging (Hillary again), and his shrillness (credit Chris Dodd for that zinger.) Plus, John-boy got called out, big time, via a John Roberts question, on his own position switching (and the attendant hipocrisy.) Well deserved, and it appears to have shut him up. ... for now.

Update: About twenty minutes in, and Barack just got tripped up on the same driver's licenses for illegal immigrants question as Hillary did. Interesting. His answer was longer than hers was in the last debate. Edwards just gave a nuanced answer, too, saying he doesn't support the licenses, except for those on this nebulous "path to citizenship" under equally nebulous "comprehensive immigration reform."

So where ARE these guys on the issue?

  • Edwards: No, unless we have immigration reform
  • Dodd: No
  • Barack: Yes, followed by long, complicated answer. Duck and cover, Barack, Edwards is in the room...
  • Hillary: No (firmly this time)
  • Kucinich: I resent the way you framed the question
  • Richardson: Yes, and I did it.
  • Biden: No

Update 2: 47 minutes in ... OK, Bill Richardson just completely flubbed a major question about Pakistan. After Joe Biden laid out a sensible case that we have to condition U.S. military aid on Musharraf ending his dictatorial stance, Richardson was asked by Wolf Blitzer whether at times, human rights trump U.S. national security. He answered "yes." Yes??? And you want to be president of THIS country? Dumb answer, Richardson. It was a gotcha question, and he gotcha.

Chris Dodd just nailed the question, pointing out that when a president takes the oath of office, he promises to do two things: protect and defend the Constitution, and protect the country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. He added that it's ironic that Bush is now asking Turkey not to invade Iraq, and lecturing Musharraf about restoring the Constitution when he's stepping all over our Constitution here at home. Best I've seen Dodd to date.

BTW, Wolf Blitzer is kind of an ass, isn't he? He won't let any of the debaters finish an answer...

Update 3: 1 hour 15 minutes in. It strikes me that tonight's debate might be the nail in John Edwards' coffin. He just got booed for trying once again, even after being completely defanged during the first 15 minutes of the debate, to attack Hillary Clinton. The audience reaction should tell Johnny that his style of politics -- the politics of fellow Democrat destruction -- is done as a strategy. 11th Commandment, beeyatch. No more attacking your fellow Democrats, and doing so for the sole purpose of feeding your own ambition.

BTW, I really, really like Joe Biden. He's the most articulate, direct and knowledgeable guy on the stage. I wish he had more of a realistic path to the nomination, and the White House. Otherwise, this guy needs to be somebody's secretary of state. And he reminds me of Mr. Sims, one of my favorite high school english teachers (along with Ms. Jacoby. But I digress...)

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posted by JReid @ 8:44 PM  
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Ok this is just pathetic
Camp McCain tries to get all Bill O'Reilly on CNN, and raise a little dough in the process. Check out the email McCain campaign manager Rick Davis sent to supporters today (courtesy of The Hill). As you read it, remember, Rick Davis is the campaign BOSS, second only to the candidate himself:

“The CNN Network, affectionately known as the Clinton News Network, has stooped to an all-time low and is gratuitously attacking John McCain for not sufficiently defending Hillary Clinton enough when a South Carolina voter used the 'B' word to describe her when John McCain stopped into a luncheon yesterday at the Trinity restaurant in Hilton Head, S.C. ...

... The liberal media has figured out that John McCain is the only thing that stands between a Hillary Clinton presidency, and they are therefore trying to stop the McCain comeback,” Davis said. “Simply put, CNN is scared that John McCain will beat Hillary Clinton. They are right to be scared.”

Oh where to begin...

First off, Ricky darling, "not sufficiently defending Hillary enough" is redundant. You could have left off either "not sufficiently defending" or "enough" and your statement would have been much more fitting for a man of your station.

Second, the idea that the media is "scared" of John McCain because they fear he "stands in the way of a Hillary Clinton presidency" creates two problems for you. First, you appear to have capitulated to the notion of Hillary's inevitability as president, which should come as a pleasant surprise to her. Second ... um ... the only thing about Senator McCain that scares members of the public AND the media is this:

oh, and this ...

... your boy looked really stupid in that one... um, and this one too...


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posted by JReid @ 10:21 PM  
My new favorite website

Their big get: interrogation procedures for Gitmo's Camp Delta. Read the leaked doc here.

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posted by JReid @ 7:36 PM  
Another bite at the O.J.
A judge in Nevada just ruled that O.J. Simpson must stand trial on armed robbery, kidnapping and other charges. Looks like the media will have their O.J.2 trial. Goodbye, news coverage...


posted by JReid @ 7:29 PM  
Kind of a tabloid sort of story

Rudy Giuliani has responded to the allegation by Judith Regan that News Corp executives told her to lie about issues surrounding Rudy's pal Bernie Kerik, with whom she was having an affair (canoodling in a downtown apartment that was supposed to be used to rest rescue workers working on "the pile" at Ground Zero, no less ... the same rescuers Rudy has dissed by suggesting he was as much in respiratory danger as they were...) to protect Rudy's presidential ambitions.

On MSNBC a few minutes ago, Rudy responded to a reporter's direct question of whether he knew that his boy was having an affair with Judith (hm... wasn't Rudy having an affair with a woman named Judith at the time, or was that after his television-announced divorce from the woman he was cheating on ... namely his wife ... but I digress...) Again, did Rudy know that Bernie was sleeping with Judith #2?

Rudy's answer was less than definitive. He said "um, that sounds like a gossip column kind of story .... I don't know anything about it."

Which means that every New York reporter worth a damn will now be scrambling to find out what Rudy knew about his pal's bedroom antics, and when he knew it.

Hang on ... the New York Times front page is a gossip tome?


Read the intro to the Judith Regan lawsuit courtesy of The Smoking Gun.

Update: BTW, Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice, and author of "The Grand Illusion" an unauthorized biography of Rudy Giuliani, was just on Countdown. He's read the Kerik indictment and confirms that on around page 61, the indictment makes it clear that the "senior executive" who told Judith Regan to lie to spare Rudy and Bernie the rod, was indeed Roger Ailes, Rudy's good friend and lifelong pal.

Barrett also talked about how back when nobody wanted to carry Fox News Channel, then Mayor Rudy strong-armed Time Warner Cable into carrying the channel, on pain of serious problems with the city. Cronyism ... crooked pals ... poor decisionmaking ... and the two Judiths ... yeah, Pat Robertson, you're going straight to hell, papi.


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posted by JReid @ 11:52 AM  
Quick take headlines: shootin' and spyin'
An FBI inquiry finds that Bush and Condi's private army in Iraq killed 14 of 17 civilians without cause in September.

The nation's new attorney general gets something right, finally giving up the security clearances needed for the Justice Department to investigate his predecessor's -- and those he was lacky to -- domestic surveillance. We await word on whether the Dems will cave on immunity for the telcos that helped out with the government's giant information shovel.

The WaPo has an interesting -- if a bit "duh" -- article on oil as a geopolitical weapon.

Bush's GOP lackeys on the Hill (I make the distinction to separate them from the Democrat and Independent lackeys on the Hill) demand that the Dems retract their Iraq war cost report putting the cost at $1.5 billion. After all, that report might turn Americans against the war ... HA!!!

Good news for the Clinton campaign: NY Guv Elliot Spitzer drops his licenses for illeal immigrants plan.

A new Pew Poll finds Black America more pessimistic than at any time in the last 20 years.

And Kanye West's mother's death following plastic surgery is sad ... and should sober people up about how dangerous plastic surgery can be. Earth to ladies: it's not your mother's Botox brunch. Meanwhile, Kanye issues a statement. ... and the doctor who says he refused to operate on Donda West says she ignored medical advice and that doing so may have led to her death.

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posted by JReid @ 9:14 AM  
Life's a bitch ... and then you're John McCain
First, his suspiciously Barbara Bush-like mother dissed the Mormon folk (a diss to which the Mitt Romney campaign had the world's dumbest response) ... and now, John McCain plays it less than classy when a supporter goes all trailer park on him. The Carpetbagger Report reports it this way:

Obviously, presidential candidates aren’t responsible for comments made by their supporters. Candidates are, however, responsible for showing a little class. It’s apparently something that John McCain has forgotten.

At a campaign event in South Carolina, a McCain backer stood up to ask the senator, “How do we beat the bitch?”

In response, McCain said, “We have our differences with our Democratic rivals, but I believe in treating people with respect. It’s why I don’t refer to women as ‘bitches,’ even when I disagree with them. I’m sure all of us believe we can debate the serious issues of the day without name-calling and degrading language.”

No, no, I’m just kidding. He actually responded, “That’s an excellent question.”

Stay classy, John.

Meanwhile, looks like the other John that isn't going to be president has gotten himself into the middle of a little push polling scandalette in Iowa (where voters like nice, not "not nice.") The calls that have been received by an unknown number of voters sound like traditional polls, and then ask why Hillary Clinton is "such a weak candidate" followed by several choices. The poll then asks why John Edwards is such a weak candidate, and then gives a number of choices including, incredibly, "should be home with his sick wife." Ouch.

On "Morning Joe" this morning, Scarborough said that an MSNBC campaign embed is saying that the firm that has been linked to the push poll is owned by a guy also known as Edwards' pollster. Not a good look, John.

The Edwards camp is claiming that no, no, it's the Obama camp that's push polling against them in that now Iowa-notorious push poll. From the Edwards blog:
Guess what folks, I just got pushed polled by the Obama campaign. The caller asked for either me or my husband by name. First tip off. The poller said they were with Central Research. Asked the requiste who are you supporting? Who is your second choice?

Then why do you think Hillary Clinton is a weak candidate and gives 3 choices. A) Is a weak general election candidate. B)Is too dependent on lobbyist money. C) Won't bring change.

Then why do do think John Edwards is a weak candidate with 2 choices A) a weak general election candidate because his positions are too liberal B) He should be home with his wife who has cancer.

This is the lowest form of paid campaigning. there is only 1 candidate that hopes to benefit from this call. Obama.

I expect this from the Republicans in the general but for a so-called Democrat to do this the primary is unforgiveable.

Obama is showing his real character. He cannot be trusted and it will be a cold day in Hell before I ever caucus for him. He isn't fit to carry John Edwards shoes let alone be President.
Hm. He sounds almost as nasty as ... well ... John Edwards. Of course, a bit further down, "Doridc" posts an "update" admitting that he or she cannot prove that the Obama camp is responsible for the call.

Meanwhile ... on the other side of the two Americas ... the Obama bloggers are doing their own detective work, posting (without linking to) this post by Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic Monthly blog:
... First, don't be so quick to blame (or credit) Barack Obama's campaign.

Campaign often test negative messages against themselves -- they want to poll their negatives.

Come to think of it, the "negatives" cited by the telephone poll-taker are the Edwards campaign version of HRC's negatives, not the Obama campaign's version of negatives. (An Edwards campaign spokesman chastizes me for the speculation and absolutely denies that the campaign has anything to do with the calls). Or maybe Hillary Clinton might want to test the effectiveness of John Edwards's messaging. Both Clinton's campaign spokesman, Phil Singer, and Obama's spokesman, Bill Burton, said their respective campaigns had nothing to do with the calls either.

"Central Research" is the name of the phone farm.

No disbursements have been paid to a firm of that name this cycle or last cycle, so "Central Research" -- a real company based in Arkansas -- is in itself, sort of a front for a front for the guilty campaign.

Here's how it works:

A campaign pays a consulting firm X amount of dollars. It's required to divulge the payment. The consulting firm, in turn, pays Central Research 1/X dollars. Since the consulting firm is a private business, it doesn't have to disclose much about its contracts.

BTW: This might not technically push-polling. Push-polls aren't polls -- they're widely distributed pseudo-polls that are only used to spread negative messages. If these calls turn out to be widely distribured --if, say, 50,000 caucus goers received them -- then, perhaps, they're push-polls. But if only 500 received them, then you're probably looking at a message-testing poll. ...
So who done it, Camp Obama or Camp Clinton? The most interesting analysis so far comes from Taylor Marsh, who traces the origins of the suspect firms to none other than ... Rudy Giuliani. Check it out here.

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posted by JReid @ 8:43 AM  
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Burning qustions: is dictatorship the new democracy?
Will George W. Bush see the irony in these two scenarios:

GAZA,: Hamas police officers rounded up scores of supporters of the rival Fatah movement here Tuesday, a day after a mass rally in honor of Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader and founder of the Fatah, ended in violence.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, also threatened a political crackdown, saying in a statement that their leaders would "take measures" to ensure the "protection of internal security."
and two...

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Police and soldiers emboldened by state of emergency powers swept up hundreds of activists and opposition members Sunday, dragged away protesters shouting "Shame on you!", and turned government buildings into barbed-wire compounds.

Gen. Pervez Musharraf's government said parliamentary elections could be delayed up to a year as it tries to stamp out a growing Islamic militant threat – effectively linking two of the greatest concerns of Pakistan's biggest international donors: the United States and Britain.
What makes one an ally and the other an enemy? Hamas, though Sunni, aren't down with al-Qaida ... Musharraf's security forces are down with al-Qaida ... Hamas members were democratically elected ... Musharraf took power in a military coup and is refusing to stand down, even after being term limited out of office ... both are cracking down on opposition parties and leaders, and behaving most undemocratically. Oh, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons, is teeming with al-Qaida sympathisers, is an enemy of Israel, and is currently in an armistice with the Taliban.

How do the neocons keep it all straight?

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posted by JReid @ 11:31 PM  
Rudy TV
It's been clear for some time to anyone who has been paying attention that the Fox News Channel is carefully migrating its operations from full bore support for any word or policy that emanates from the person of George W. Bush, to equally manic support for Rudy Giuliani, the friend and candidate of Fox chief Roger Ailes (have I mentioned that Ailes golfs with Tim Russert lately...?) Now, apparently, there's proof that the collusion is more than just extra air time with chief fundraiser Sean Hannity. From Bloomberg:

Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Judith Regan, who was fired last year from News Corp.'s HarperCollins unit, sued the companies, claiming to be the victim of a ``deliberate smear campaign'' aimed at protecting presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani.

Regan, former president of HarperCollins' ReganBooks division, seeks at least $100 million in damages in a complaint filed today in state Supreme Court in New York. Regan claims in her complaint that News Corp. tried to destroy her reputation because she has information about former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik that would be harmful to ex-New York Mayor Giuliani and his presidential campaign.

``The smear campaign was necessary to advance News Corp.'s political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giuliani's presidential ambitions,'' Regan said in the complaint.

Regan, who published Kerik's autobiography ``The Lost Son,'' was fired from HarperCollins in December 2006 after she backed O.J. Simpson's book, ``If I Did It.'' In the book, Simpson described how he could have killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. ...
Regan had a sexual affair with Bernie Kerik around the time he was being offered up, at Rudy's behest, as chief of "Homeland Security" (doesn't that name just make you think "Der Fuhrer...?") Anyhoo, it's the NYTimes' scoop, so let's let them pick it up from there:

In the civil complaint filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Ms. Regan says the company has long sought to promote Mr. Giuliani’s ambitions. But the lawsuit does not elaborate on that charge, identify the executive who she says pressured her to mislead investigators, or offer details to support her claim. ...

... Ms. Regan had an affair with Mr. Kerik, who is married, beginning in the spring of 2001, when her imprint, ReganBooks, began work on his memoir, “The Lost Son.” In December 2004, after the relationship had ended and shortly after Mr. Kerik’s homeland security nomination fell apart, newspapers reported that the two had carried on the affair at an apartment near ground zero that had been donated as a haven for rescue and recovery workers.

Mr. Kerik claimed in 2004 that he had withdrawn his nomination because of problems with the hiring of a nanny. He was indicted last week on federal tax fraud and other charges.

“Defendants were well aware that Regan had a personal relationship with Kerik,” the complaint says. “In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”

One of Ms. Regan’s lawyers, Brian C. Kerr of the firm of Dreier L.L.P., said she had evidence to support her claim that she had been advised to lie to federal investigators who were vetting Mr. Kerik and who might have sought to question her about their romantic involvement. But Mr. Kerr declined to discuss the nature of the evidence.

The lawsuit does not say whether Ms. Regan was, in fact, interviewed as part of the inquiry into Mr. Kerik’s fitness for the federal post, and if she was what she told investigators. ...
I don't know which is more disturbing -- the idea that a senior executive at a purported news outlet would attempt to suborn perjury, or the idea that a purported news outlet has for years been attempting to engineer the presidency of it's top executive's friend. Makes Joe Kennedy seem like an amateur.

Meanwhile, you've got to wonder why the other GOP presidential candidates aren't kicking up a stink about the clearly preferential treatment Rudy is getting from the Republican Network of Record, not to mention going after Rudy for the numerous, creepy scandal points in his dubious resume. Do these guys want to win, or what? To pull a Chris Matthews for a second, where is the fight for the nomination of the Republican Party?

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posted by JReid @ 10:37 PM  
And now, the price tag
The latest estimate of how much we're paying to keep U.S. troops in GWB's private military training grounds in Iraq and Afghanistan: $1.8 trillion. That's TRILLION ... with a T. Dems say the figure includes the cost of veterans' healthcare, increased interest on the U.S. debt and the costs of higher oil and other prices here at home as a result of Bush's wars.

Dubya wants to add another $200 billion to that pricetag, even as he finally finds his veto pen to put the kaibosh on anything that remotely resembles assistance to the people who live in THIS country. That said, the history of this supine Democratic-led Congress (which is still filled with sycophant Republican courtiers -- including Joe Lieberman on the Senate side...) will more than likely back down from their $50 billion showdown try (with withdrawal demands to boot) and give Bush whatever money he wants to continue the wars.

The sad thing is, we've known for more than a year that the Iraq war's real cost would ultimately cost more than $1 trillion. Remember this brief headline? And the Democrats have done nothing -- nothing -- except capitulate and cower at the feet of a president who is at his nadir. It makes no sense, except that I have this sneaking suspicion that the reason the Dems keep caving is that they want the war to be full on, and Bush to be firmly in place -- when votes pull the lever next November 4th. In other words, they'd rather run against him that stop (or impeach) him.

That's where we are, folks.

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posted by JReid @ 10:28 PM  
Pervez W. Bush
Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf sits down with the New York Times and posits a novel excuse for suspending his country's constitution and firing the members of Pakistan's high court so they couldn't rule his continued rule illegal: he's doing it for the sake of democracy !!! (and because the terrorists hate our freedoms...) Grey Lady: hold forth!
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 13 — Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to lift his state of emergency, insisting in an interview that it was the best way to ensure free and fair elections.

He vigorously defended the emergency decree issued 10 days earlier that suspended the Constitution, dismissed the Supreme Court, silenced independent news stations and resulted in the arrests of at least 2,500 opposition party workers, lawyers and human rights advocates.

“I totally disagree with her,” General Musharraf said in an interview with The New York Times at the presidential building here in the capital. “The emergency is to ensure elections go in an undisturbed manner.” He said Sunday that elections would go ahead by Jan. 9.
In other words, he had to suspend the rule of law for the sake of democracy. Very Bushie...
Dressed in a dark business suit rather than his military uniform, General Musharraf spoke in a confident tone, saying the decree was justified because the Supreme Court had questioned the validity of his re-election, and because of the seriousness of threats from terrorists.
Very nice ... he's taking Dubya's fashion advice, AND ... he's fighting the "terr'rists...!"
He refused to say when he would step down as army leader and become a civilian president, a demand that President Bush has made publicly and, in a telephone call last week, privately. “It will happen soon,” he said.
Ok but the other Bush advice? ... not so much...
General Musharraf, who has been criticized as being increasingly isolated and receiving poor advice from a shrinking circle of aides, insisted he was in touch with the mood of Pakistanis.

Dismissing consistent reports that a vast majority of Pakistanis oppose his emergency decree, he said he had information from “several organizations” and feedback from politicians and friends that the move was popular.

“I know what they feel about the emergency when all these suicide bombings were taking place,” he said, speaking of the rising number of suicide bombings in Pakistan. “Their view is, Why have I done it so late.”
Oh my god this guy is as nutty as the wack-jobs at the Weekly Standard and the National Review! He probably thinks the Iraq war is going gangbusters, too!
He sharply criticized the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto...
Oh, here we go...
... saying she was confrontational and would be difficult to work with. Ms. Bhutto returned to Pakistan last month in a deal brokered by the Bush administration, which hoped that the two could find a way to share power, in order to increase public support for General Musharraf’s increasingly unpopular military government.

The understanding was that she would take part in elections that could make her prime minister, while he would run for re-election as president. Instead, they have engaged in increasingly public sparring, and Ms. Bhutto has come in for criticism that she is an American pawn who is not mounting serious opposition to the general.

Early Tuesday, 900 police officers surrounded the house where Ms. Bhutto was staying in the eastern city of Lahore, preventing her from leading a march to Islamabad to protest what opposition groups say is martial law. After waiting for more than a week, on Tuesday she joined other opposition leaders and called for General Musharraf to resign.

“You come here on supposedly on a reconciliatory mode, and right before you land, you’re on a confrontationist mode,” he said in the interview, conducted in English. “I am afraid this is producing negative vibes, negative optics.”

Damn you, Bhutto and your negative optics!!!

Oh, and the article goes on to point out that Pakistan has received more than $10 billion in mainly military aid from the Bush administration. The new, obedient Supreme Court in Pakistan is expected to ratify his illegal election soon, which Musharraf apparently can't say will end his "emergency rule" (funny that the emergency seems to be the fact that the court ruled against him...)


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posted by JReid @ 10:03 PM  
While I was taking a wee blogging break ...

Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf took the bright, shiny wrapping off his dictatorship, placing former P.M. Benazir Bhutto under house arrest to stop her from leading a peaceful protest against his brazen junking of his country's constitution and supreme court (which had ruled his run for president, again, even though he's term limited... unconstitutional...) Bush's man in the Near East is still sending his police forces into the streets to squash anti-government protests. So what say you now, George "Mr. Democracy" Bush?

So far, Bush's response has been rather tepid. He firmly but politely asked the General to doff his military uniform and dress in civilian clothes. Dictatorships go over so much more nicely that way ... And he says he "hopes" that Musharraf will end his state of emergency and hold elections soon, "while remaining a staunch ally in the war on terrorism." Said the neocon's favorite goofy sock puppet to his fellow puppets at the Fox Business Network:
"He understands the stakes of the war, and I do believe he understands the importance of democracy,''
How adorable. What else is the Dubster up to?

He's sending John Negroponte to "talk" to the man he used to refer to solely as ... "General" (back when he was a candidate and couldn't remember Musharraf's name.) Hold on, he's sending John "Death Squad" Negroponte? Hm. Well luckily Pakistan already has a violent military prone to raising up illicit, violent terrorist armies and harming people who dissent from the government...

And then there's this little nugget from the Daily Times of Pakistan:
WASHINGTON: The US appears to be preparing for different eventualities as the political crisis in Pakistan deepens, according to a report in the New Times on Tuesday.

One US official told the newspaper, “Nobody is ready to cut him (President General Pervez Musharraf) off at the knees yet.” But another official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly on the issue, said that many people within the administration were worried that General Musharraf’s missteps would soon erode his base at home that he could be forced to give up power.” ...
The Times also picks up a report on the latest Benazir Bhutto goings on, courtesy of the Washington Post:
BB still ‘in’: The Washington Post, however, reports that while Bhutto has “warned that she would hold no talks with Musharraf as long as the Constitution was suspended, analysts say that, despite those remarks, Bhutto is still open to a power-sharing deal with Musharraf.” The Financial Times writes, “Western diplomats in Islamabad said the seemingly harder line taken by Bhutto was unlikely to mark a complete end to several months of behind-the-scenes discussions between negotiators representing her party and the Musharraf government.”

The Christian Science Monitor says in a report that “some US officials and South Asia experts are doing what they say the US has failed to do: envision and prepare for a post-Musharraf Pakistan.”

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posted by JReid @ 11:05 AM  
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Beware the media narrative
The mainstream media (of which I have been a part for many years) has some bad habits, but among the worst, is a herd mentality that coincides with a tendency to create what you might call an "internal conventional wisdom." To explain, remember after 9/11, when George W. Bush became "an enormously popular president?" You couldn't listen to a newscast about the POTUS without hearing that phrase -- it was literally written into the anchors scripts, and into nearly every newspaper article. That narrative by the members of the elite media persisted, for years, even as Bush's poll numbers began to come down. It persisted even after he dipped below 50% approval ratings in most polls. I can still hear Chris Matthews braying about how much the American people "like this guy," even when they stopped liking the war, the economy, his cabinet, his vice president and his policies.

The trouble was, the polling didn't support the narrative. It doesn't have to. The Washington reporting set are a tight clique who reinforce each other, and the narrative, at all costs. It's why you hear the phrase "you're absolutely right" so much on your favorite news chat shows.

Okay, fast forward to today. I was watching MSNBC this morning as Chuck Todd was chatting with one of MSNBC's morning spokesmodels about the latest presidential polling. The poll of the day, as it should be on MSNBC, is the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that shows Hillary Clinton with a 22-point lead over Barack Obama on the Dem side (nasty old John Edwards has dropped 5 points to 11 percent on the strength of his desperation attacks on the front-runner...) and Rudy Giuliani ticking up 3 points to a 33-16 lead over surprise second place finisher John McCain, with sleepy Fred Thompson cratering from 23 points in September to 15 now. The Mittster is down to 11 points.

And now for the narrative. The poll also shows that a generic Democrat leads a generic Republican in the head-to-head match-up by a whopping 50 percent to 35 percent, while a Hillary-Rudy race is a dead heat (she leads by a single percentage point.) MSNBC writes it up thusly:
Yet given those advantages, Clinton — as well as the other top Democrats in the race — finds herself in a dead heat in a general election match-up against Rudy Giuliani, who leads the GOP presidential field in the poll.
Sounds OK so far. The writer acknowledges that Hillary is just one of the Dems who hold a slim lead over the potential GOP nominee, Giuliani. It's all Hillary -- and all downhill -- from there:
“Her primary numbers are certainly strong, and that is where the game is being played [right now],” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. But in a general election, Hart adds, Clinton “obviously has a lot of troubles and challenges ahead.”

“She has a lot to do to win the presidency.” ...
Okay, so Hillary has a lot to do to win the general? Let's compare how her rivals do against the same challenger, Rudy, and against the other GOPers. From

Hillary - 46
Rudy - 45

Barack - 44
Rudy - 42

Hang on ... the media's argument is that Barack is sooooo much more likable, lovable, and by inference, has less headwind against a Rudy candidacy than Hil, right? MSNBC sez:
One of the reasons, it seems, why Clinton commands this lead over Obama is the perception of experience. Seventy-six percent of Democrats surveyed in the poll give Clinton high marks for being knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency. By comparison, just 41 percent of Democrats say the same about Obama.

Similarly, 63 percent give Clinton high marks for her ability to be a good commander-in-chief. That’s compared with 43 percent who give Obama high marks on this question.

On the flip side, however, Obama is seen as more likeable than Clinton (72 percent of Democrats give him high marks here versus 49 percent for Clinton), as well as more honest and straightforward (65 percent versus 53 percent).

And yet, Barack statistically does no better against Giuliani than Hillary does... could it be that a generic Democrat beats a generic Republican, but ANY specific Dem varies the outcome depending on which Republican they face? Hm. More numbers:

Hillary blows out Mitt Romney, 50-39
She tanks Fred Thompson 51-37
She edges John McCain 47-43 (also within the margin of error, meaning McCain is just a strong a candidate as Rudy is...)

But wait ...

Barack also beats up on the Mittster, 48-36
And John Edwards does just as well against Rudy as the others, 45-44
In fact, the only Democrat Rudy can beat is one who isn't running, and he only beats Al Gore by one point, 47-46

What is clear in the poll is that Americans are disgruntled, unsatisfied with the way things are going (67 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 57 percent say the country is in a "state of decline) and they're not happy with either the president or the Congress. They want change, but they're not sure what kind of change that should be.

If they were sure, neither Rudy nor Hillary would be front runners. 

Why do I say that? Because Hillary essentially represents a return to the good old economic times and international support of the 1990s ... and Rudy represents no change at all, particularly on foreign policy, domestic spying, the war in Iraq, a war in Iran, torture, etc., etc. ... even on the domestic side, Rudy agrees with VIRTUALLY EVERY POSITION HELD BY GEORGE W. BUSH. If voters are telling pollsters the truth about wanting change, then why are either of these candidates in the lead?

And speaking of Rudy, his "lead" is rather meager, in that it has yet -- in any poll -- to get out of the 30s. That isn't what you call solid support.

At the end of the day, all that you can say about the mood of the electorate is that it's bad. The American people say they want change, but history suggests that what most Americans prefer is "change with safety" -- predictable, marginal change, rather than major, radical change -- EVEN ON IRAQ (otherwise, the frontrunners should be Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.)

My read: Hillary and Rudy are out front because for Democrats, Hillary represents a "change back" to the time when things were good in the country and for the Democratic Party. For Republicans, who operate from a "fear base," if you will, Rudy probably represents change in terms of competency (hell, he ran big old New York ... that's hard, right??? ... but the status quo in terms of America's radical war footing against "the terrorists." That, and he's not Hillary Clinton -- something that only matters to the GOP base, which has been fed a steady diet of Hillary as boogeyman melodrama, by the party, and by the press.

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posted by JReid @ 9:16 AM  
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
The candidate of crazy
So Rudy Giuliani is the candidate of left-over neocons, genocidal radio nut-jobs and ... um ... Pat Robertson, a man only the truly insane still listen to. This means one of three things:
  1. Pat Robertson loves politics more than he loves The Lord... (I mean, how many divorces does a guy get a pass on just because he's leading in the GOP polls, anyway? And if God was going to strike Florida with a tsunami over Gay Days at Disneyworld, won't the fact that Rudy was roommates with a couple of gay dudes bring on the Armageddon? ... oh ... that's what Pat wants to happen... ooohhhh......)
  2. Pat Robertson hates Muslims more than he loves the Lord ... The only sane (and I use that world loosely, given who we're talking about here) explanation for Robertson's break from his evangelical brethren to support the pro-abortion, pro-gay rights former mayor of Sodom and Gamorrah is that he believes that if elected president, Rudy will continue, or even escalate, George W. Bush's war on the Islamic foes of Israel -- a place Pat wants to conquer for Christendom and build a theme park ... where he can ride the Til-o-Whirl and await the Armageddon. Oh, there we go with that Armageddon thing again... The two weirdos apparently got to know each other on a flight back from Israel, a place they both cleve to like Likudniks on steroids. And in his endorsement speech, Robertson left little doubt which he cared about more, between loving the unborn and hating the Ay-rabs: "To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists..." lest they try to blow up Disneyworld AFTER gay days...
  3. Pat Robertson is insane ... goes without saying. 
This of course, does beg the question, which even Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is asking, of whether Rudy now believes, as Robertson does, that America had 9/11 coming because of the gays and the abortionists, and ... well ... everybody Rudy supports ... OR ... has Pat Robertson flip-flopped, Rudy style, on issues like gay rights, abortion, cousin marrying, philandering, divorce and all the other stuff Rudy can't get communion in his own church because of ... OR ... does Rudy's new anointing mean he'll never wear that dress again... 

The world waits.

Update: The reviews are in! The religious right, and other parts of the GOP hothouse, are officially flummoxed by the Pat Robertson-Rudy Giuliani axis of weird...

Gary Bauer (himself the Earl of Odd) says it's all about Hillzilla:
“I did have some sense it was going to happen, so I wasn’t completely surprised,” Bauer said. “Those leaders who are endorsing are going through the same thought process that a lot of conservatives around the country are wrestling with, which is that whatever one thinks about the field, it’s clear to everybody that a Hillary Clinton presidency with Democratic control of the House and Senate would be a disaster no matter what kind of conservative you are.”
The Huffpo's Michael Roston made the rounds of other evangelical operatives of the GOP:
A spokeswoman at the Christian Coalition said that Robertson had made the endorsement "in his personal capacity" and so the group wasn't commenting. A spokesman at Focus On The Family similarly told us, "Anything about Pat Robertson we're not talking about." The group's leader, Rev. James Dobson, had warned last month that Christian groups might pick a third party candidate to represent social conservatives if Giuliani was nominated to head the Republican ticket.

Similarly, OneNewsNow, a news website linked to the Christian Coalition of America, published an article headlined "Pro-Family leaders mum on Robertson's endorsement of Rudy." It noted, "OneNewsNow contacted several pro-family leaders to get their reaction to the Robertson endorsement. Some did not return calls, while others said they did not want to comment."

Still, OneNewsNow's Jim Brown was able to find "a close personal friend of Robertson" who "believes the endorsement is "tragic," and that if Giuliani wins the nomination, it "will destroy the Republican Party." So you have to imagine they'll be speaking out in some way soon.
Meanwhile, John McCain, who himself picked up an endorsement from Sam Brownback today and who probably was referring to Robertson when he talked about the looney toons on the right back when he was a maverick in 2000, declared himself "speechless" regarding the endorsement.

Okay, funniest line of the day, courtesy of the WaPo's Chris Cillizza:
"I thought it was important for me to make it clear that Rudy Giuliani is more than acceptable to people of faith," said Robertson. "Given the fractured nature of the process, I thought it was time to solidify around one candidate."
Okay not that part, THIS part:
[Robertson] insisted that while some on the "fringe" of the social conservative movement may see Giuliani as an unacceptable nominee, the "core know better."

How can you tell who's on the fringe when you're insane...?

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posted by JReid @ 9:19 PM  
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Preachers on the hot seat
The ranking Republican on the Senate finance committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, is turning up the heat on six televangelists, according to CBS News:
Letters were sent Monday to the ministries demanding that financial statements and records be turned over to the committee by December 6th.

According to Grassley's office, the Iowa Republican is trying to determine whether or not these ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles.

The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of the six - Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar - also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.

A spokesperson for Joyce Meyer Ministries provided CBS News with an IRS letter to the ministry dated October 10, 2007, that stated: "We determined that you continue to qualify as an organization exempt from Federal income tax." The letter could not be independently verified in time for this story. The ministry also pointed to audited financial statements for the last three years that are posted on the organization's Web site.
Hm. Can someone say "pimps in the pulpit" ... I mean, alleged pimps in the pulpit? More...
In a statement to CBS News, Creflo Dollar called his ministry an "open book" and said he would comply with any "valid request" from Grassley. But he noted that the inquiry raised questions that could "affect the privacy of every community church in America." ...

... The letters sent Monday were the culmination of a long investigation fueled in part by complaints from Ole Anthony, a crusader against religious fraud who operates the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, which describes itself as a watchdog monitoring religious media, fraud and abuse. "We've been working with them for two years," Anthony told CBS News. "We have furnished them with enough information to fill a small Volkswagen."

Anthony said after twenty years of working with media organizations to expose televangelists, he saw little reform. He says that's why he turned to another tactic, going straight to Grassley. He is confident that Grassley's inquiry will be different, "What we hope is that this will lead to reform in religious nonprofits."

The structure of many televangelist organizations - in which the leadership is often concentrated in one person or one family - has itself been the target of criticism. "Churches like these are ruled as a dictatorship," says Rod Pitzer, who directs research at Ministry Watch in North Carolina, which provides advice for donors to Christian organizations.
Wow. And isn't Paula White going through a mega-divorce right now that threatens to split her massive financial piggybank?

Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Perhaps not the best choice of exclamation, but you get the picture...

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posted by JReid @ 4:40 PM  
Oil up, dollar down
Oil hit $97 a barrel today, while the dollar sank to a new record low against the Euro and other currencies, partly fueled by the U.S. mortgage crisis. The crisis especially acute at Citigroup, which is the subject of "breakup" chatter. And analysts fear banks could be holding as much as $1 trillion in bad debt. Yikes...

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posted by JReid @ 3:50 PM  
Steeee-rike one!
The Writer's Strike is in its first full day (it started on Monday), with WGA members walking the picket line in New York and L.A. for the first time since 1988. Back then, it cost the industry $500 million. This time, some experts are putting the potential price tag at $1 billion.

What's behind it? In a nut shell, you know when you miss your favorite primetime show (like I very rarely did with "Lost" or "Prison Break," when the damned Tivo failed to record...?) Well you can normally go online to the network's website and download an episode (or stream it) ... but before you get to watch, you have to watch an interstitial advert. In most cases, trying to skip the ad will only cause the whole bloody thing to start over again, until you relent. Writers who work on those shows feel that if the studios are making money on those ads, then they should get a cut. In principal, I think they're right. Also at stake, writers (there are about 12,000 in the Writers Guild, of whom 7,000 work regularly,) want to re-open the DVD contracts. Alex Strachan of explains:
- The [studios] want the already negotiated DVD formula - 0.3 per cent of sales, or roughly four cents for each DVD sold - to apply to new media like online downloads and Web streaming. The writers say that is unacceptable. Furthermore, they want to re-open the DVD clause, noting that consumers spent more than $16 billion on DVDs last year.

- The [studios] want status quo for at least two years, while they analyze the economic effects of a changing media landscape. The entire economic model is changing, they say, and they don't want to be locked into a long-term deal until they know how the future will play out. Costs are rising faster than new revenue streams are coming in, they say.
The writers, for their part, want what they consider to be a fair percentage of any profits from new revenue streams, regardless of the overall picture.
The site has a great explanation of the strike and the potential fall-out here. A clip:
Moviemaking and TV production is a cutthroat business at the best of times. And if the dispute turns nasty - and there are indications it will - all bets are off as to how it will play out in the end.

An extended strike will have lingering after-effects, too, as it will take the writers several weeks at least to pen new scripts once a new deal is reached.

Until then, the striking members of the Writers Guild of America, which represents some 12,000 writers on the U.S. east and west coasts, will be without a paycheque.

And because the actors, directors and production crews - the people who actually make the TV shows and movies - are obligated to report to work until their own contracts expire next June, the show will go on.
For now, anyway.

Here's why: The networks and movie studios, anticipating today's crisis, have been stockpiling scripts for the past six months.
Moviegoers won't notice a shortage of new big-budget studio movies at their local theatre for at least a year.
TV viewers won't be affected until the beginning of the February sweeps period, except for those late-night talk shows and weekly sketch-comedy programs like Saturday Night Live and MADtv.

Nothing will happen, in other words, until the actors and directors join the writers on the picket line.
More on the specific implications from Sunday's Variety:

Latenight shows:
NBC's "Tonight Show" and "Late Night," along with CBS' "Late Show" and "Late, Late Show" are all expected to go dark today. Ditto Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report." ... ABC still wasn't saying what would happen with "Jimmy Kimmel Live," though odds suggest it'll shut down, too.

Robert Morton, the former Letterman producer who was at the helm of NBC's "Late Night With David Letterman" during the 1988 WGA strike, said Letterman and Leno feel compelled to back their union --even though, as performers, they could still be on the air Monday if they wanted.

"I think they have to show support for their writing staffs," said the producer, who now heads Panamort Prods. ("The Mind of Mencia"). "Even if they want to go back, they have to give their writers due respect."

It's widely expected the major latenight skeins eventually will return to the air, as they did in 1988.

"You want to be supportive of your guild, but when you have people making $600 a week possibly losing their jobs, you have to think of them, too," Morton said.
Current TV series:
Right now, studio execs say they've got a month of production left to go on single-camera dramas and comedies -- that is, if scripts are in tip-top shape and can shoot without any changes.
Most have a backlog of completed episodes and scripts that should keep viewers in a lather through year's end.
After that, it's possible network execs and producers could use existing story outlines to write scripts themselves, as happened in 1988.
Game shows:
Most shows don't have WGA scribes or can get along without them. Exceptions: syndie powerhouse "Jeopardy" and the daytime version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" are WGA shows.
However, as with many quizzers, both shows tape episodes far in advance.

It's understood producer Sony has enough segs in the can to keep the show in originals through April. And "Millionaire" will tape its final seg of the current season this week, ensuring no repeats this season.
Reality shows:

... well, let's just say you're going to be seeing a lot of them.

The other interesting twist is the impact the strike could have on the political season. As we lead up to Iowa and New Hampshire in January, many of the Democratic candidates in particular, but also Republicans like John McCain, are making the rounds of the late night comedy shows, including Leno, Letterman, and the must-do Comedy Central duo of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. With the writers on strike, there'll be no doing that. That could be particularly bad for candidates like Obama, who just did SNL this past week, and who is counting on younger voters to put him over the top. It probably won't affect frontrunners like Hillary and Rudy as much, since they take more incoming from the late night talkers than anything.

Meanwhile, the powerhouse producers of hits like Fox's "The Shield" and ABC's "Desperate Housewives" -- the so-called "show runners" who both produce and write their hot series, are in a bind, and Variety reports most of them will respect the picket line, meaning that if the strike runs long, and the networks run out of their stockpiles of shows, viewers of some of the most popular shows on television could be in jeopardy.

Hey, more time to read, I suppose...

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posted by JReid @ 3:28 PM  
Monday, November 05, 2007
JAGs make it plain
Four retired military generals write to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy to put some clarity to an issue that should have long been clear. From Leahy's website:
The letter was written by Brigadier General David M. Brahms, United States Marine Corps (Ret.); Major General John L. Fugh, United States Army (Ret.); Rear Admiral Donald J. Guter, United States Navy (Ret.); and Rear Admiral John. D. Hutson, United States Navy (Ret.). Admiral Hutson testified before the Judiciary Committee Oct. 18 as part of the Mukasey confirmation hearings.

“In the course of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of President Bush’s nominee for the post of Attorney General, there has been much discussion, but little clarity, about the legality of ‘waterboarding’ under United States and international law,” the generals wrote. “We write because this issue above all demands clarity: Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture, and it is illegal.”
The full letter is available here.

The most important part of the letter reads as follows (it's the part you won't likely see teletyped on your favorite cable news show):
This is a critically important issue -- but it is not, and never has been, a complex issue, and even to suggest otherwise does a terrible disservice to this nation. All U.S. Government agencies and personnel, and not just America's military forces, must abide by both the spirit and letter of the controlling provisions of international law. Cruelty and torture -- no less than wanton killing -- is neither justified nor legal in any circumstance. It is essential to be clear, specific and unambiguous about this fact -- as in fact we have been throughout America's history, at least until the last few years. Abu Ghraib and other notorious examples of detainee abuse have been the product, at least in part, of a self-serving and destructive disregard for the well-established legal priciples applicable to this issue. This must end.

The Rule of Law is fundamental to our existence as a civilized nation. The Rule of Law is not a goal which we merely aspire to achieve; it is the floor below which we must not sink. For the Rule of Law to function effectively, however, it must provide actual rules that can be followed.
Never better said.

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posted by JReid @ 5:09 PM  
Sunday, November 04, 2007
On Pakistan
Things continue to go from bad to worse in Pakistan, as the Musharraf government continues to crack down on judges and lawyers, and with his police forces beating protesters led by the latter yesterday and today.

The government has closed down all but the state run newspapers and television stations, and are now broadcasting only government propaganda in which Musharraf promises to shed military uniform and rule as a civilian, some time in January, when parliamentary elections are supposed to happen. I was listening to NPR this morning and a dispatch said that Pakistani reporters are now posting their stories directly to the Internet in order to get the truth out to expats, Pakistanis abroad and interested parties around the world.

In short, Pakistan is devolving into a pure military dictatorship, with an American "ally" at the head.

Pakistan, almost more than Iraq, represents the abject failure of the "Bush doctrine" that includes the ludicrous notion that we can separate the world into two types of countries: those who are "with us" and those who are "with the terrorists." Pakistan, to put it bluntly, is both with us AND with the terrorists, depending on which member of the government or secret service you're dealing with. The country is teeming with truly scary militants, including al-Qaida and al-Qaida sympathizers (the Pakistani Security Services helped create al-Qaida) and in order to put down the radical elements, Mushrarraf feels he needs to exert an iron hand. If he relaxes it, there is a good chance -- a very good chance -- that the extremist forces could take over the government, including in a truly democratic election. Therefore, there can be no truly democratic elections in Pakistan.

And that brings us to the even more ridiculous precept of the Bush doctrine: that the institution (or imposition) of democracy always brings peace and stability, and that we should promote free elections everywhere (properly influenced by us, of course...) The truth of the matter is, democracy sometimes brings chaos and instability, or worse, puts governments in place that are an anathema to us, and to our, using Bushie's favorite word, interests (see Iran, Palestine, Iraq, Venezuela, etc., etc., etc.)

And Musharraf in particular has the vexing habit of being both with George W. Bush in the war on terror (to our knowledge) and both lenient with terrorists (he pardoned A.Q. Khan out of internal political necessity) and a blatant flouter of Bush's stupid, pre-school notions of "democracy." For Bush, that's a real dilemma -- how can he cling to the heavenly, neocon dreamscape of global democracy (run ... democratically, of course ... by the U.S. and Israel...) AND be for an emerging dictator like Pervez? (Same way he can be friends with the Saudis and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak -- who faces a parallel problem to Musharraf's with the Muslim Brotherhood running around... I guess...)

It would be an absolute conundrum ... if George W. Bush knew what "conundrum" meant ...

Meanwhile, from the BBC, Bushie isn't embarrassed alone... And the Guardian has former P.M. Benazir Bhutto's take on the chaos in her home country.

posted by JReid @ 2:30 PM  
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Pakistan on the brink
The tug of war between dictatorship and chaos continues in Pakistan, as General Musharraf declares a state of emergency in order to ensure the extension of his rule. From the Wash Post:
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule Saturday, suspending the constitution amid a heavy security presence, including armored personnel carriers, in parts of the capital.

"The chief of army staff has proclaimed a state of emergency and issued a provisional constitutional order," a newscaster on state television said in announcing the decrees, which referred to Musharraf as head of the army and did not mention his dual role as president.

In an emergency session, the Supreme Court ruled the move unconstitutional. But Musharraf reportedly suspended the entire panel when the justices refused to sign new oaths. He was expected address the nation later and cite continuing fighting in the turbulent Swat Valley as his reason.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry and the other judges remained in the courthouse Saturday evening as police blocked the road to the building. Chaudhry had been removed from the court by Muharraf earlier this year, but the court reinstated him in August.

"This is a very fateful day for the country. Pakistan is in deep, deep crisis," said Aitzaz Ahsan, Chaudhry's attorney. "It is one man against the nation." Ahsan said that he expected to be arrested later Saturday night.

Ahsan said Musharraf had declared emergency rule because he expected to lose an upcoming Supreme Court ruling on the future of his presidency. ...

... The United States had tried to pressure Musharraf on Friday to avoid declaring emergency rule or martial law, as violence continued in the country's troubled northwest with an explosion at a suspected insurgent hideout that killed 10.Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday sent a warning to Musharraf not to take authoritarian measures to hold on to power. "I think it would be quite obvious that the United States would not be supportive of extra-constitutional means," Rice said. "Pakistan needs to prepare for and hold free and fair elections."

That message was followed by a previously scheduled meeting between Musharraf and Adm. William J. Fallon, chief of the U.S. Central Command.
Way to send a message, Condi. Then again, what else can the U.S. do? We're fighting a war next door, and Pakistan is a regional ally, such as they are. So what's behind the conflict between Musharraf and the court?
Musharraf won election last month to a new, five-year term as Pakistan's president. But the Supreme Court is still reviewing whether he was eligible to run in the first place.

Meanwhile, an op-ed in the Post today suggests a radical alternative: dissolve Pakistan altogether:
The Middle East and Near East are littered with put-together countries (Pakistan, Iraq,) and former British and French tributaries (Syria, Jordan...) which emerged from the wreckage of two world wars. However at the stage, there is no preeminent power that can alter these countries' courses. It wouldn't be wise to even try, as we'lve learned, painfully, in Iraq. All that the West can do now is seek to mitigate the blowback.

Unfortunately, we haven't done too good a job at that, either.

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posted by JReid @ 12:46 PM  
The company you keep
Rudy with his pal and supporter Sean Hannity on Fox News, the network
run by Roger Ailes -- who is also an advisor to ... Rudy's campaign
They say you're known by the company you keep. Here's a bit of the company Rudy Giuliani has been keeping:

1. "Vulture" capitalists:

As ABC News' Brian Ross reports, leaders of the Congo are blasting a key financial backer of the Giuliani presidential campaign for his rape of African economies.
The African Republic of Congo has launched a lobbying and PR blitz in Washington, D.C., targeting "vulture" investors who buy up third-world debt cheaply and then apply legal muscle to force them to pay, according to the Washington, D.C. newspaper The Hill.

One such investor is Paul Singer, they say, whose $8 billion hedge fund controls an investment group which owns $118 million in Congolese debt -- and wants to collect.

Singer and his employees have given more than $180,000 to Giuliani's campaign this year, according to the Los Angeles Times. And as chairman of Giuliani's fundraising in the Northeast, Singer has helped raise over $10 million for the former New York mayor's presidential bid, the paper reported in September.
More on Singer in this previous post.

2. Pedophile priests:

ABC News has been hitting it out of the park, and this time they've dropped the bomb on Giuliani's latest hire for his disreputable consulting firm (which he's still working for, despite a pledge to walk away to avoid conflicts of interest during his campaign): a defrocked priest accused of molesting teenage boys. The former priest, Alan Placa (pictured with Rudy and his mistress third wife Judith here, was the best man at Rudy's marriage to his first cousin, and performed Rudy's second marriage, to Donna Hanover (the woman Rudy later dumped via TV press conference so he could marry the mistress.) Wonder if Tim Russert will ever get all red faced and ask Rudy about Placa in a presidential debate...?

3. Hugo Chavez

Through another of his business interests, Bracewell & Giuliani, Rudy has been a paid lobbyist for Citgo Petroleum Corp., the oil and gas company that's wholly owned by the government of Venezuela, which is of course, run by dictator in training Hugo Chavez. (Note to Dick Cheney, Chavez hasn't gotten around to running Peru...)

4. Bernard Kerik

The Giuliani campaign would like you to forge about Bernard Kerik, Rudy's longtime pal (whom Rudy tried to get installed as Homeland Security secretary back int he day.) But Rudy-Bernie is the relationship that just won't go away, as the NYTimes reminds us in a 3,000 word article today (print version here).

Rudy is officially no longer standing by his crimie friend, former New York police chief Bernard Kerik, ... but he definitely is keeping an eye on him. From a recent story in the New York Post:
October 22, 2007 -- Rudy Giuliani's law partner has been told to monitor the criminal probe of disgraced ex-NYPD boss Bernard Kerik, which threatens to muddy up the former mayor's bid to become president.

As part of his sensitive assignment, Marc Mukasey has thwarted Kerik's lawyer from interviewing witnesses who might help his defense, sources told The Post yesterday.

5. Michael Mukasey

The probable next attorney general of the United States, who like Rudy is ambivalent on torture (no, actually not like Rudy. Rudy is pretty definitely pro-torture...) is an old Giuliani pal. From the same New York Post article:
Mukasey is the son of former federal Judge Michael Mukasey, a longtime Giuliani friend nominated by President Bush to become the next U.S. attorney general. Michael Mukasey is awaiting Senate confirmation.

Marc Mukasey's task to keep an eye on Kerik's criminal investigation shows Giuliani's concern with how the legal fate of his former NYPD and correction commissioner could affect his presidential campaign, sources said.

A source familiar with the Kerik probe said Mukasey's role in monitoring the Kerik case is "obviously trying to distance Giuliani from all [the allegations about Kerik], although obviously it all occurred on Giuliani's watch."

And the refusal to make witnesses linked to Giuliani and his consulting firm available to Kerik's lawyer underscores the frayed relationship between the once-close friends. Those witnesses are people who have spoken to prosecutors and a grand jury investigating Kerik.

"Once there was this sense [in the Giuliani camp] of 'Bernie's a great guy,' even after he became embroiled in scandal," a source said. "Now, Mukasey's taking a different approach with him."
6. The Neocons

Rudy is being advised by the same cadre of crackpot neocons who bedazzled George W. Bush, including neocon don Norman Podhoretz, who today, is probably somewhere praying to God for a U.S. war with Iran. Even some right wingers are raising the alarm on Rudy's neoconservative leanings, which appear to be deep:

...what's left of the neocon movement does seem to be converging around the Giuliani campaign, to some degree, because he embraces their common themes: a willingness to use military power, a tendency to group all radical Islamist groups together as a common enemy, strong support for Israel and an aggressive posture toward Iran. "He's positioning himself as the neo-neocon," jokes Richard Holbrooke, a top foreign-policy adviser to Hillary Clinton.

Among the core consultants surrounding Giuliani: Martin Kramer, who has led an attack on U.S. Middle Eastern scholars since 9/11 for being soft on terrorism; Stephen Rosen, a hawkish professor at Harvard who advocates major new spending on defense and is close to prominent neoconservative Bill Kristol; former Wisconsin senator Bob Kasten, who often sided with the neocons during the Reagan era and was an untiring supporter of aid to Israel, and Daniel Pipes, who has advocated for the racial profiling of Muslim Americans. (He's argued that the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was not the moral offense it's been portrayed as, though he doesn't say Muslims should suffer the same.)

Some traditional conservatives are wary of the Giuliani team. "Clearly it is a rather one-sided group of people," says Dimitri Simes of the Nixon Center, a Washington think tank. "Their foreign-policy manifesto seems to be 'We're right, we're powerful, and just make my day.' He's out-Bushing Bush." ...

7. Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes used to make a living as an advisor to Republican politicians, including candidates named Nixon, Reagan and Bush, but theoretically, he is now busy being a "news man," running the "news" network he founded -- the Fox "News" Channel. He and Rudy have been friends for decades, with Rudy having presided over Ailes' wedding (not to a cousin, or to my knowledge, to a mistress...) and Giuliani is the name of another former candidate that Ailes has advised. So far, Rudy has benefited from the friendship with more face time on Fox than any other candidate.

8. NAFTA truckers

Among Rudy's questionable business ventures is his law firm Bracewell & Giuliani's exclusive deal to represent a company called Cintra, the Spanish firm providing the financial backing to build party of the infamous NAFTA superhighway.

9. Race baiters

Giuliani's media team (the official part, not Roger Ailes,) includes the consulting firm Scott Howell & Company -- the same folks who made the race-baiting "Call me!" ad against African-American Senate candidate Harold Ford of Tennessee. This one's a no-brainer for Rudy, who has, shall we say, issues with Black people.

and last but not least...

10. Dick Cheney

Asked recently what he'd look for in a vice president, Rudy had an especially disturbing answer:

I would want a vice president who was a partner. Someone who was in on everything that was going on, so that that person could take over if, God forbid, something happened. […]

How do you pick a vice president? … I think Vice President Cheney and President Bush’s pick of Vice President Cheney is a good example of picking someone who is qualified to be president of the United States. That is number one — it’s paramount.

Memo to Rudy: Dubya didn't pick Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney did.

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posted by JReid @ 11:16 AM  
The Orwellian bargain
If the Bush administration is an Orwellian send-up of the former Soviet Union, complete with domestic spying, secret prisons, disappearing of U.S. citizens into military detention, manipulation and intimidation of the media, wars of aggression, and now apparently, the use of torture, then the Democrats are playing Benjamin to George Bush's Napoleon. In Orwell's "Animal Farm," Benjamin -- a donkey, no less -- is, in the Wikipedic formulation, "as knowledgable as and wiser than the pigs," who are led by the dictatorial Napoleon, "and is the only animal who sees the pigs for the tyrants they are, [but] he never makes an attempt to change anything.

And so it goes. The Democratic Benjamins will not put a stop to the war in Iraq. They will not hold George W. Bush accountable using the Constitutional tool of impeachment, even for his blatant defiance of both the Congress and the laws he is sworn to faithfully execute. They will not fight his vetoes or follow through on opposition to his policies.

And they WILL allow the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey, a man who cannot say that waterboarding -- a crime against humanity for which we prosecuted Japenese soldiers after World War II ... a crime John McCain has called a "horrible torture," and "no different than holding a pistol to [a prisoner's] head and firing a blank" -- is torture, to go to the Senate floor. And they will confirm him. They know that the administration has likely used waterboarding, and probably other torture techniques more suitable for the former U.S.S.R. or 1970s era Panama or Chile. They know that the president authorized it, and that his former attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, greenlighted it. And they know that the administration will not allow Mukasey to respond to the simple question for which he can find clear answers inside the Army Field Manual, which expressly prohibits waterboarding and calls it torture, because as attorney general, he might have to prosecute people inside the Bush administration for ordering the torture of terror detainees.

And yet, Diane Feinstein on Friday joined Chuck Schumer, who suggested his fellow New Yorker Mukasey, in voting to send Mukasey's nomination out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in defiance of the committee's chairman, Pat Leahy, who plans to vote no. (Feinstein attempts to explain herself today in an op-ed to the L.A. Times. Her excuse: Mukasey is all we're going to get from Bush, and if we don't confirm him, he'll just do a recess appointment. In other words, we can't stop George from doing whatever it is he wants to do, so why try?)

A recent column in the Charlotte Observer referenced "a Sept. 5, 2006, letter to Attorney General Gonzales signed by 100 prominent law professors, including John Charles Boger, dean of the University of North Carolina law school." The letter included the following:

"We are particularly concerned about your continuing failure to issue clear statements about illegal interrogation techniques, and especially your failure to state that `waterboarding' -- a technique that induces the effects of being killed by drowning -- constitutes torture, and thus is illegal. We urge you to make such a statement now.

"...If uninterrupted, waterboarding will cause death by suffocation. It is also foreseeable that waterboarding, by producing an experience of drowning, will cause severe mental pain and suffering. The technique is a form of mock execution by suffocation with water. The process incapacitates the victim from drawing breath, and causes panic, distress, and terror of imminent death. Many victims of waterboarding suffer prolonged mental harm for years and even decades afterward."
Surely, the Democrats know about that letter.

Surely by now, they know about the former senior Justice Department official who answered his own questions about waterboarding by trying it himself, as ABC News' Brian Ross reported yesterday:

Daniel Levin, then acting assistant attorney general, went to a military base near Washington and underwent the procedure to inform his analysis of different interrogation techniques.

After the experience, Levin told White House officials that even though he knew he wouldn't die, he found the experience terrifying and thought that it clearly simulated drowning.

Levin, who refused to comment for this story, concluded waterboarding could be illegal torture unless performed in a highly limited way and with close supervision. And, sources told ABC News, he believed the Bush Administration had failed to offer clear guidelines for its use.

The administration at the time was reeling from an August 2002 memo by Jay Bybee, then the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, which laid out possible justifications for torture. In June 2004, Levin's predecessor at the office, Jack Goldsmith, officially withdrew the Bybee memo, finding it deeply flawed.

When Levin took over from Goldsmith, he went to work on a memo that would effectively replace the Bybee memo as the administration's legal position on torture. It was during this time that he underwent waterboarding.

In December 2004, Levin released the new memo. He said, "Torture is abhorrent" but he went on to say in a footnote that the memo was not declaring the administration's previous opinions illegal. The White House, with Alberto Gonzales as the White House counsel, insisted that this footnote be included in the memo.

But Levin never finished a second memo imposing tighter controls on the specific interrogation techniques. Sources said he was forced out of the Justice Department when Gonzales became attorney general.

And then there's this, also from Brian Ross: apparent confirmation from within the CIA, that waterboarding has been used by Americans, "but only on three bad-guys..."

For all the debate over waterboarding, it has been used on only three al Qaeda figures, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials.

As ABC News first reported in September, waterboarding has not been used since 2003 and has been specifically prohibited since Gen. Michael Hayden took over as CIA director.

Officials told ABC News on Sept. 14 that the controversial interrogation technique, in which a suspect has water poured over his mouth and nose to stimulate a drowning reflex as shown in the above demonstration, had been banned by the CIA director at the recommendation of his deputy, Steve Kappes.

Hayden sought and received approval from the White House to remove waterboarding from the list of approved interrogation techniques first authorized by a presidential finding in 2002.

The officials say the decision was made sometime last year but has never been publicly disclosed by the CIA.
And so, Mr. Mukasey could be face with very real evidence of illegal torture of detainees at the behest of the Bush administration, and he will have to decide whether to enforce the law, or to be Alberto Gonzales -- Bush's Pinkeye, whose position on the Animal Farm was to taste Napoleon's food.

Why the Democrats have entered into this Orwellian bargain with the administration -- he pushes, they appease, even as Bush fades into history, is perhaps the most vexing question facing the country today. The Democrats are so wedded to the appeasement of this president, one almost wonders if they truly oppose his policies at all. They are rudderless, leaderless, and incapable of displaying even minimal unity in opposition to even the most outrageous Bushian assaults on the United States Constitution. They stand for nothihng, and they stand up for nothing.

And I couldn't tell you why.


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posted by JReid @ 10:08 AM  
The Condi backlash
The State Department goes into revolt over Condi Rice's plan to force diplomats to serve in Iraq.

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posted by JReid @ 9:51 AM  
Friday, November 02, 2007
Mukasey says
By now I'm sure you've figured out the simple reason Michael Mukasey cannot state the obvious fact that waterboarding -- something expressly outlawed under both U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions (we prosecuted foreign troops for doing just that during World War II and the U.S. was crucial to the process that declared waterboarding a crime against humanity) -- is torture.

Mukasey cannot state the obvious because should he do so and then become attorney general, he might have to prosecute members of the Bush administration for ordering the waterboarding torture of terrorism detainees, up to and possibly including the President of the United States. After all, Mukasey has stated during Senate hearings that the torture memo authored by former A.G. Alberto Gonzales authorizng the president to break U.S. law in that regard, was in error, meaning that Bush has no authority to go around the law and order "special detainees" to be treated with that particular kind of specialness.

So let Bushie whinge. Let him moan that the quite simple question put to Mr. Mukasey by his would-be confirmers in the Senate are unfair. Let him threaten to leave the spot vacant. He cannot thread this needle.

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posted by JReid @ 8:00 AM  
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Quick take headlines: big babies of the oval office
From the desk of: George W. Bush...

Two days later, Chris Matthews is still spitting up about Hillary's supposed candidacy-killing mistake on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants in New York. Well ... tonight, Elliot Spitzer dismantled the Mattster on "Hardball," backing his defense of HIS -- not Hillary's, as Matthews said last night -- plan with endorsements from former terrorism czar Richard Clarke, members of the Bush cabinet, and the 9/11 Commission. Matthews was left all a-stutter.

Meanwhile, Matthews continued to try and press forward with his Clinton jihad, actually penning one of his new-fangled "advice columns" for Democratic candidates -- this one for Hillary herself! Matthew's suggestion: tell voters to ignore the fact that she's a woman, and that the attacks on her by other candidates are a good thing -- proves she's winning! In other words, Chris looks to justify his own call for more attacks on Hillary by suggesting that she wants it ... she really wants it ...

... and Tim Russert is getting attention from the debate for all the wrong reasons...

... Meanwhile, down in Florida, the GOP is nursing its own Clinton obsession -- they can't find a candidate who's as good as the former first lady...

... Hey, remember that Osama bin Laden video that I told you looked like a major fake? Looks like I might have been on to something...

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posted by JReid @ 10:25 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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