Friday, October 31, 2003

Palmetto State receptive to Clark

Clark may be better postioned than conventional wisdom's pundits seem to want to believe.

Clark visits South Carolina where he tops latest poll

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Retired Gen. Wesley Clark made his first stop in Columbia as a presidential candidate Friday, talking about the universal health care plan he unveiled Tuesday and how President Bush erred by going to war in Iraq.

Clark spoke for about 45 minutes in a University of South Carolina Law School classroom packed with a standing-room-only crowd of about 250.

It was Clark's second visit to the home of the first-in-the-South Democratic presidential primary since he declared his candidacy in September. His other visit was to The Citadel military college in Charleston.

The former NATO commander had little to say about his campaign's big news of the day: a new poll that shows him leading the Democratic pack - including surging ahead of U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, a Seneca native.

When pressed, all Clark would say about the poll was, "I feel good about the reception I'm getting in South Carolina, that's what I feel good about."

The American Research Group poll of 600 likely primary voters put Clark ahead of Edwards, 17 percent to 10 percent, with 36 percent of the voters undecided. The poll had a margin of sampling error of 4 percentage points.

The effects of the wanton Clinton years come home to roost

Right-wingers scoffed when Clinton said he wanted abortion to be safe, legal and rare.

Atlanta-(AP) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says pregnancy, birth and abortion rates dropped from 1990 to 1999.

Pregnancies fell seven percent, to six-point-28 (M) million in 1999. The birth rate declined nine percent, to 64-point-four per one-thousand women ages 15 to 44. And the abortion rate went down 22 percent, to 21-point-four per one-thousand women.

Teen pregnancy rates reached historic lows, dropping 25 percent. The teen birth rate dropped 19 percent, and the teen abortion rate was down 39 percent.

Although currently not well liked, America still influential

American influence continues to spread, one doughnut at a time-- make that a dozen with chocolate.

Europeans said eating like Americans LONDON, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- As it is in the United States, obesity is a problem in Europe, too -- in part because Europeans are eating more like Americans.

Fast-food restaurants and jumbo American-style portions appear to be to blame, coupled with fatty foods that are not only plentiful, but often cheaper than fresh, healthful food. For example, Krispy Kreme doughnuts arrived in England this month at the food section of the upscale Harrods department store -- evidence, the New York Times said, of how familiar American-style eating habits have become in most of Europe.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The master of overstatement

I have really wanted to like Dean, but he just continues to irritate:

"It's possible that I am the only Democrat who can get elected," he said. "And let me tell you why: Every other Democrat in this race believes that the way to beat George Bush is to be like George Bush. I believe the way to beat George Bush is to bring a lot of new people into this process."

Dean logic:


I can't listen to Dean for long without thinking he is like an obnoxious, know-it-all teenager. Disagree with Dean on any point and you're a Republican or Bush-lite. Dean still asserts he's the only Democrat to talk about race to white audiences. On C-Span the other night, he referred to talking about race to Southern White audiences, because "they" don't discuss race "directly" in the South. (Apparently, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and his native New York have every thing worked out-- but that's another post.)

So he's from the Democratic Wing of the party, and yet he's all alone. Strange.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Dean expands the party...uh, sorta.

Dean in the debate:

I started out this campaign saying I was from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, which Paul Wellstone said. And I didn't meant that I was a big liberal, I was a big conservative, I was a big moderate. What I meant was, just like Paul Wellstone, I say what I think, and I don't care if 70 percent of the people in this country disagree with me, as long as I believe it's the right thing to do.

Got that? The "Democratic Wing" of the party has nothing to do with ideology or belief. It is just a matter of saying what you believe. I guess this means Pat Buchanan can say he's from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, then. And so can Jesse Ventura. And that crazy guy on the street corner you pass by who says whatever foolish idea that comes into his head-- he too, can claim membership under Dean's new logic.

Watch closely from this point forward. Now that he has gotten his legs under him by appealing to the more liberal Dems, Dean will begin his move back to the middle. If he gets the nomination you will hear few references to Wellstone, and more references to "Give 'em Hell, Harry Truman."

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Kerry is NOT Dukakis

He prefers to be compared to McGovern.

“I haven’t attacked anybody,” he said. “I happen to believe personally that it matters if you voted for Richard Nixon. I don’t think that’s an attack.”

Johnny, 61% of the electorate voted for Nixon. After you attack everyone, who is going to be left to vote for you?

I think I prefer Clark's contribution

As a taxpayer making contributions to their salaries, I think I got more bang for my buck from Clark's contribution than from Kerry's "independent-minded" slaving over crafting policy. I suspect that any one year of Clark's service required a greater degree of leadership than any ten years of Kerry's congressional service. I used to like Kerry, but he has become increasingly pathetic.

Kerry draws distinction between he and Clark’s pasts

MANCHESTER, Oct. 24 -- After explaining to a house party attendee that he hasn’t attacked any of the other candidates, Sen. John Kerry drew a very clear line between he and Gen. Wesley Clark’s lives of service and military pasts.

At a party at the home of state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro and his wife Pat, Kerry said that though, yes, they both have military pasts, Kerry has spent a lifetime since then creating policy while the General has spent that time taking orders.

“Last time I looked, generals do what they’re told by the civilians,” Kerry said. “They don’t write policy. They do as they’re told.”

Kerry responded to one question regarding his attacks on other candidates by explaining he had done no such thing, but had instead been trying to make distinctions between he and the other candidates so that the American people can make a clear choice.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

What Clark should say- Part I

It would be nice if the last debate had put the matter to bed, but given the lack of creativity and the desperate nature of his rivals, don't count on it. How I wish he would respond to questions regarding Democratic credentials:

“My opponents have kicked this issue to death. Here are the facts: I haven’t voted Republican since the 1980s; I’ve never contributed to a Republican candidate; My local Republican organization asked me to speak in 2001 and after saying a few polite words about some people in the administration, I made the case that our foreign policy lacked the proper direction. Read the whole speech, my view regarding our foreign policy has been quite consistent. In January of 2002, I praised our troops and their commander-in-chief for taking out the Taliban in Afghanistan. That action made sense and I, like most Americans, always supported it. I reject the politics of pure negativism in which people are criticized for ever being polite about our leaders, even if they didn’t vote for them. When I disagree with this administration, I say so. But I don’t feel compelled to constantly carp and I was not raised to be disrespectful or discourteous as if to do so somehow shows the depth of one’s commitment to this country or one’s values.

As I travel the country I find most Americans don’t really care how somebody voted in the 70’s and 80’s. In fact, most people, including life-long Democrats who voted for Reagan, are concerned about their lives now and in the future. They’re concerned about the state of the economy, they’re concerned about health care, they are concerned about America’s place in the world and when we engage in petty squabbling over issues like this, they tune out because they think we ‘don’t get it.’ Well, I do ‘get it.’ I’ve listened to Americans all over this great country and they are hungry for leadership that looks forward, not backward and that addresses their problems.”

He needs to avoid sounding defensive, and turn the issue around on 'em. Successful politicians' learn the trick of turning every question into a positive.

Just in time for Halloween...

Robert Novak has gotten a new pair of choppers. Of course, they look like they came from the dimestore. They're whiter-- well, he's paying for 'em-- and they protrude a bit much. Sounds like he's having to learn to speak all over again. Hope he doesn't scare the kids too much!

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I wanna see Dubya's military record

Several months, of course, would be blank.

There's been some carping from apparently embittered men with small minds about Wes Clark's character and military performance. Many are anonymous cowards, and the most prominent has been Hugh "Can I get some vodka" Shelton, who attacked with innuendo and then crawled back into his hole.

This move should provide some additional perspective:

Clark's Campaign Releases Glowing Accounts of His Military Career
October 16, 2003

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 — The campaign of Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who has based his Democratic presidential bid on his career in the United States Army, this week released 200 pages of internal military evaluations from his commanding officers, who repeatedly used only superlatives to describe his skills, energy and leadership abilities.

The comments of his commander when he oversaw a tank battalion in Germany in 1977 were typical: "The most brilliant and gifted officer I've known." The commander, Col. Charles G. Prather IV, added: "I have never been more impressed with an officer's talent and dedication." He added that he should rank with men like Douglas MacArthur.

A year later, the future General Clark, now 58, had advanced to assistant executive officer to Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr., then Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. In his evaluation, General Haig wrote: "Major Clark is an officer of impeccable character with a rare blend of personal qualities and professional attributes which uniquely qualify him as a soldier-scholar."

The records include high praise from Colin L. Powell, now secretary of state and then an assistant division commander at Fort Carson, Colo., who called then-Lieutenant Clark an officer of "the rarest potential." The evaluations end in 1993, when General Clark earned his second star; officers at or above the rank of two-star general do not receive such performance reviews.

The campaign plans to release the documents widely on Thursday when it will be making available for comment several officials who served in the Army with General Clark, including Gen. Don Kerrick, who is retired; Lt. Gen. Dan Christman, who is also retired; and Cris Hernandez, who was General Clark's security officer when he commanded the allied forces in Kosovo.
Gen. John Shalikashvili, who is retired and who is also a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ...called General Clark an outstanding commander who was "quick of mind and an extraordinary strategic thinker." He said General Clark would not have been promoted repeatedly if most of his commanders did not agree. ...

The years of evaluations released by the campaign show a cadet who rose through the ranks with ease. His superiors consistently described him as confident, imaginative, organized, an inspiration to his troops, a trusted adviser to his commanders and an officer with unlimited potential.

One commander took note of the superlatives frequently used in such reviews but said that then-Lieutenant Colonel Clark deserved them.

"Every once in a while, one is privileged to encounter an officer so uniquely gifted that the overworked superlatives commonly utilized on evaluation reports are inadequate to effectively describe his duty performance," the commander wrote in 1981. "LTC Clark is that officer. A brilliant, dynamic and exceptionally innovative commander, his battalion has been characterized by superb esprit, discipline and professionalism."

The next year, Colin Powell similarly noted the penchant for the "raters" on performance reviews to exaggerate. But in this case, he said, "The rater does not overstate." He added, "Wes Clark has been a superb battalion commander and will be a superb brigade commander. He is an officer of the rarest potential and will clearly rise to senior general officer rank. He will be one of the Army's leaders in the 1990's."

One recurring trait that appears in the evaluations is that General Clark always spoke his mind. The evaluations are replete with mentions that he "was not a yes-man," and "says what he thinks."

General Clark has made such qualities a theme of his presidential campaign. In almost every speech, the general, who has sharply criticized President Bush's conduct of the Iraq war, urges audiences to "challenge authority" and asserts that dissent is "the highest form of patriotism."

Through most of his career, his willingness to question served him well.

"Completely candid," one evaluator wrote in 1977. "Exceptionally stable," he added. "Never careless or irrational in his judgment."

It was the following year that General Haig wrote his evaluation.

"Major Clark's earnestness, sincerity of purpose and absolute dedication convey a moral force in his work which gives him a significant voice in this headquarters."

Must be the fault of network news

I blame Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather. Let's get some more "friendly" local news "personalities" to tell the troops things ain't so bad.

Many Troops Dissatisfied, Iraq Poll Finds

Thursday, October 16, 2003

A broad survey of U.S. troops in Iraq by a Pentagon-funded newspaper found that half of those questioned described their unit's morale as low and their training as insufficient, and said they do not plan to reenlist.

The survey, conducted by the Stars and Stripes newspaper, also recorded about a third of the respondents complaining that their mission lacks clear definition and characterizing the war in Iraq as of little or no value. Fully 40 percent said the jobs they were doing had little or nothing to do with their training. ...

In the survey, 34 percent described their morale as low, compared with 27 percent who described it as high and 37 percent who said it was average; 49 percent described their unit's morale as low, while 16 percent called it high.

In recent days, the Bush administration has launched a campaign to blame the news media for portraying the situation in Iraq in a negative light. Last week, Bush described the military spirit as high and said that life in Iraq is "a lot better than you probably think. Just ask people who have been there."

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Just wondering

Have all the dittoheads checked themselves into rehab for the next thirty days?

The soldiers' families may beg to differ, Congressman

Didn't this joker promise to limit himself to six years back in 1994?

Nethercutt hails Iraq's recovery

Rep. George Nethercutt said yesterday that Iraq's reconstruction is going better than is portrayed by the news media, citing his recent four-day trip to the country.

"The story of what we've done in the postwar period is remarkable," Nethercutt, R-Wash., told an audience of 65 at a noon meeting at the University of Washington's Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs.

"It is a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day."

Just because its a story you and your neocons prefer, doesn't mean its a more important story, does it?

Good Soldier, yes. Good Citizen, maybe not

I used to respect Colin Powell. I guess he used to respect himself. If he still does, he's delusional. Colin, listen to me. The first step back to genuine self-respect is coming clean. Do for yourself. Do it for your country. This sounds like real Must See TV.

Ex-Aide: Powell Misled Americans
Oct. 15, 2003

(CBS)The person responsible for analyzing the Iraqi weapons threat for Colin Powell says the Secretary of State misinformed Americans during his speech at the U.N. last winter.

Greg Thielmann tells Correspondent Scott Pelley that at the time of Powell's speech, Iraq didn't pose an imminent threat to anyone not even its own neighbors. "I think my conclusion [about Powell's speech] now is that it's probably one of the low points in his long distinguished service to the nation," says Thielmann.

Pelley's report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes II, Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Thielmann also tells Pelley that he believes the decision to go to war was made first and then the intelligence was interpreted to fit that conclusion. "The main problem was that the senior administration officials have what I call faith-based intelligence," says Thielmann.
"They knew what they wanted the intelligence to show. They were really blind and deaf to any kind of countervailing information the intelligence community would produce. I would assign some blame to the intelligence community and most of the blame to the senior administration officials."

Steve Allinson and a dozen other U.N. inspectors in Iraq also watched Powell's speech. "Various people would laugh at various times [during Powell's speech] because the information he was presenting was just, you know, didn't mean anything -- had no meaning," says Allinson.

Pelley asks, "When the Secretary finished the speech, you and the other inspectors turned to each other and said what?" Allinson responds, "'They have nothing.'"

Allinson gives Pelley several examples of why he believes Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction. One time, he was sent to find decontamination vehicles that turned out to be fire trucks. Another time, a satellite spotted what they thought were trucks used for biological weapons.

"We were told we were going to the site to look for refrigerated trucks specifically linked to biological agents," Allinson tells Pelley. "We found seven or eight [trucks], I think, in total, and they had cobwebs in them. Some samples were taken and nothing was found.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Winning back "natural" Democrats

Clark/Edwards could be one heck of a ticket:

But here's the secret of the Democratic primaries: They are no longer dominated by millworkers and milkmen. Steadily, the Democratic Party is becoming the party of the educated upper middle class.
This year's Democratic primary fight is, with its relentless focus on Iraq and foreign policy, pushing candidates even more toward the concerns of the educated class. Yes, it's far better for Democrats to talk about foreign policy than to be tongue-tied on the subject, as so many of them were in the 2002 election. Voters of every class care about national security.

But there also could be a push-pull effect: A campaign that fails to focus enough on bread-and-butter concerns might aggravate the Democrats' middle-class problems by burying the very themes that could draw such voters away from President Bush in the fall.

Of course, all the candidates talk about taxes, health care and jobs. And this is no longer FDR's electorate. In the three elections from 1992, Democrats won the popular vote partly because they did so well among the highly educated. This group has become ever larger as people -- John Edwards among them -- have climbed the class and education ladders.

Still, the Republicans who regularly condemn "class warfare" have shown great skill at playing the class card. They have condemned "liberal elitists" on cultural and moral issues to make deep inroads into once-Democratic constituencies.

The class war could play itself out in the Democratic primaries. Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, says his analysis of recent Gallup polls finds that while former Vermont governor Howard Dean's constituency is rooted among "upscale, antiwar social liberals," retired Gen. Wesley Clark "does really well among middle- to low-income voters."

Dean, to gain ground, and Clark, to hold his, could usefully study up on the speeches of John Edwards. Without the votes of America's working-class heroes, the Democrats can't win.

John Edwards: Clark's personal attorney

Okay, not that John Edwards. But he did run for Congress once-- as a Democrat.

Clark's Aide Called to Military Duty
Monday, October 13, 2003; 8:07 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark is losing his personal lawyer and campaign driver, who has been summoned to active military duty in the Middle East, possibly Iraq, campaign officials said Monday.

John C. Edwards, a lieutenant colonel in the 39th Infantry Brigade of the Arkansas National Guard, is to leave Friday for Jordan, then expects to go to Iraq "or wherever, as directed," Edwards said. Clark has sternly criticized the U.S. military action in Iraq.

"I've spent my whole life preparing for this day. It's what you do when you're in the Guard. When it's your time to serve, you serve. And I'm proud to serve," Edwards said.

Edwards was among the first people to sign on with the Clark campaign, having handled Clark's legal affairs since the candidate left military service in 2000 and returned to Arkansas to become a businessman.
Asked about his present situation in light of Clark's criticism of the war, Edwards chuckled and said: "I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America and I'm on active duty."
A former congressional aide, Edwards was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Congress eight years ago.

Evidence of time travel?

How else does one explain that after only three years of the Shrub, we'll need at least 50 years to make up for lost ground?

Describing EU integration as "irreversible", Beijing marvelled at Europe's 25-35 per cent share of the global economy and its projected 450 million population after expanding into the former communist bloc next year.

The white paper follows a flurry of Sino-EU ventures, including the Galileo global satellite system, described as a direct challenge to the American GPS monopoly in space.

The two sides are also working together on nuclear research.

France and Germany have been pushing hardest for closer ties with China, hoping to cash in on a lucrative market but also to develop a strategic alliance as a counterweight to American power after the diplomatic trauma of the Iraq war.

Last June, the French defence minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, proposed sharing sensitive military technology with Beijing. She called for a softening of the arms embargo imposed on the country after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

The Chinese already have the world's second biggest defence budget, £40 million annually, but they have to rely on outdated weaponry bought from Russia and Ukraine.

Yesterday's white paper said the ever-closer military ties rendered the EU embargo a relic from the last century.

China's efforts to court Brussels reflect a new mood of respect for the EU across Asia. India is also rushing to upgrade its ties with Europe, recruiting extra staff to lobby EU officials and MEPs.

Keep pissing off the whole damn world, Dubya. We don't need allies or trading partners.

Investigative journalism at its best

Ace journalist Tooney Bin has unearthed an early draft of the infamous "Open Letter".

This is the defining moment for the Clark Campaign. Either he will show he can take charge, or he will continue to not return my phone calls, unable to understand the enormity of my ego. A man who cannot fill a campaign, cannot fill my prescription for Xanax. A man who cannot run a campaign the way I want him to, cannot come to my next poorly attended piano recital. A man who cannot obey my laws, cannot stop me from buying more domains with the word "Clark" in them.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

What about the ones who don't come back?

Iraq apparently looks good from New Hampshire-- at least to Bush:

It's a lot better than you probably think. Just ask people who have been there. They're stunned when they come back -- when they go to Iraq and the stories they tell are much different from the perceptions that you're being told life is like.

The Army appears to be amongst the doubters:

Army probes soldier suicides

Alarmed by the number of suicides among soldiers in Iraq, the Army has asked a team of doctors to determine whether the stress of combat and long deployments is contributing to the deaths.

"The number of suicides has caused the Army to be concerned," said Lt. Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, a psychiatrist at the Army's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. Ritchie is helping to investigate the suicides in Iraq. "Is there something different going on in Iraq that we really need to pay attention to?" (Related story: Soldier's suicide shocks Pa. town)

In the past seven months, at least 11 soldiers and three Marines have committed suicide in Iraq, military officials say. That is an annual rate of 17 per 100,000. The Navy also is investigating one possible suicide. And about a dozen other Army deaths are under investigation and could include suicides.

The numbers suggest the rate in Iraq is above normal. Last year, the military services reported 8 to 9 suicides per 100,000 people. The Army rate is usually higher, 10 to 13 per 100,000. That mirrors the rate for the same age group in the general population.

This statement gave some folks hope that Bush was resigning:

I acted because I was not about to leave the security of the American people in the hands of a madman.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Trippi seeks a teaming with the "Beltway Boys"

I don't think Joe Trippi has ever been part of a winning presidential campaign, although he and Jerry Brown did do their best to weaken Bill Clinton for the general election in 1992 long after Brown was toast. Many Deaniacs seem to love him better than their candidate. Some of them also seem to hate Chris Lehane so much you would think he was Satan's even more evil twin. I wasn't impressed with Lehane in 2000, but if he's so dirty, I sure didn't see it against Bush. Hell, most Americans still don't even know Dubya deserted the National Guard, which would have sunk him for sure. Still, the meme continues. But here's a peek at Trippi's attempt to partner with those "Washington insiders":

"It's the Beltway boys hanging out together," said Joe Trippi, Dr. Dean's campaign manager. "This is the kind of inside Washington politics that people are sick of."

But Steve Murphy, the Gephardt campaign manager, said Mr. Trippi was being "totally hypocritical," adding: "Two weeks ago he ran into me and some of my staffers at Dulles airport and suggested that instead of attacking Howard Dean on Medicare, we should help him and Howard Dean attack Wesley Clark. This was a lengthy conversation."

Trippi's a political operative working to get his politician client elected, while trying to convince their following that they are oh, so different. Please.

Bartender! This calls for another round of tax cuts!

Damn borrow and spend Republican deadbeats.

Tax Revenue at 44-Year Low In Proportion to U.S. Economy

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Federal tax receipts relative to the overall economy have reached their lowest level since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, while government spending has climbed to the highest point since Bill Clinton declared the era of big government over, according to new figures released by the Congressional Budget Office. …

"We still have the same outlook for the future," he said, referring to the CBO's August projection of deficits totaling $1.4 trillion between 2004 and 2013.

Tax revenue has now fallen for three successive years, which hasn't happened since the Great Depression. Since receipts peaked in 2000, they have fallen by $242 billion, or 12 percent.

With wildlife, Bush says less is more

As with everything this administration does, it claims it is doing the exact opposite.

U.S. May Expand Access To Endangered Species

Saturday, October 11, 2003

The Bush administration is proposing far-reaching changes to conservation policies that would allow hunters, circuses and the pet industry to kill, capture and import animals on the brink of extinction in other countries.

Giving Americans access to endangered animals, officials said, would feed the gigantic U.S. demand for live animals, skins, parts and trophies, and generate profits that would allow poor nations to pay for conservation of the remaining animals and their habitat.

This and other proposals that pursue conservation through trade would, for example, open the door for American trophy hunters to kill the endangered straight-horned markhor in Pakistan; license the pet industry to import the blue fronted Amazon parrot from Argentina; permit the capture of endangered Asian elephants for U.S. circuses and zoos; and partially resume the trade in African ivory. No U.S. endangered species would be affected.

Conservationists think it's a bad idea. "It's a very dangerous precedent to decide that wildlife exploitation is in the best interest of wildlife," said Adam Roberts, a senior research associate at the nonprofit Animal Welfare Institute, an advocacy group for endangered species.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Cheney continues to piss on us and tell us it's raining

Cheney is so arrogant he believes that if he just keeps lying, Americans will believe him again. The gigs up, Dick. Cat's outta the bag.

The sanctions/no fly zone/inspections/occasional bombing policy worked. Iraq was not a meaningful threat to the U.S. It required patience and prudence, however, which are adult qualities Bush and his supposed "grown ups" just don't have. Let's bring those crazy Clinton kids back and order up some pizza and some relative peace.

Cheney Goes on Offensive Over Iraq

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Vice President Cheney capped a White House effort to regain its equilibrium over the Iraq occupation by delivering a blistering rebuttal yesterday to critics of the administration's foreign policy and arguing that a consensus-based foreign policy is obsolete.

After several weeks of domestic and international criticism of President Bush's policy of attacking potential threats, Cheney struck back forcefully by calling the U.N. Security Council's 50-year tradition of giving permanent members a veto a "policy of doing exactly nothing."

The vice president's acerbic speech went well beyond milder versions delivered in the past two days by Bush and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. The address, to the Heritage Foundation in Washington, was the last of a trio of speeches designed to rebuild public support for the occupation of Iraq, which has been slipping because of ongoing violence, a lack of international support and a failure to find weapons of mass destruction.
But while Bush asked the nation on Thursday to be more optimistic and look beyond the negative headlines from Iraq, Cheney barely mentioned the hardships in Iraq. Instead, he took aim at Democrats and foreign leaders, such as French President Jacques Chirac and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who have raised objections to U.S. "unilateralism."
"Though often couched in high-sounding terms of unity and cooperation, it is a prescription for perpetual disunity and obstructionism," Cheney said, adding that this would "confer undue power" on dissenters, "while leaving the rest of us powerless to act in our own defense. Yet we continue to hear this attitude in arguments in our own country -- so often, and so conveniently, it amounts to a policy of doing exactly nothing."

Cheney's speech was an uncompromising argument that far exceeded what other figures in the administration have asserted. Cheney, for example, dismissed a dozen years of inspections, patrolling of no-fly zones and strikes against military targets in Iraq, saying "all of these measures failed."

David Kay, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, presented a different view in his congressional testimony last week. For example, he said: "Information found to date suggests that Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW [chemical weapons] munitions was reduced -- if not entirely destroyed -- during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of U.N. sanctions and U.N. inspections."

Freedom ain't free

Sometimes, it's not even freedom. If you're an American reading this, you have the distinction of being from perhaps the only westernized country that doesn't allow its citizens to travel to Cuba. Even before the Iraq war, you could travel to Iraq. Canadians are free to travel to Cuba. So are Germans, Britons, Spaniards, Italians, Swedes, Danes, the French, the Japanese, and so on, and so on.

Bush thinks you should see Texas instead:

"U.S. law forbids Americans to travel to Cuba for pleasure," Bush said. "That law is on the books and it must be enforced."

Bush said his administration would be increasing the number of Cuban immigrants allowed into the country and would help inform Cubans of safe routes by which they could enter.

So they can come here and live, but we can't go there to visit. That makes sense. This embargo has worked brilliantly for 50 years. Why stop now, just because the rest of the world has moved past the Cold War. This policy saves Castro. If Americans flooded that beautiful island 90 miles to our south, he could not hold on to power. But even if he did, why should our freedom continue to be curtailed?

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Beyond the manufactured news, Clark making headway behind the scenes

Although a disgruntled blogger with a big ego managed to get his name in a number of reports lately, this story is real news.

Clark May Give Dean a Run for His Money
Late-Starting Democrat Forages for Funds in Hollywood and on the Web

Friday, October 10, 2003

Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark has conducted successful forays into two important sources of financial support for Howard Dean -- Hollywood and the Internet -- and is trying hard to enlist Dean's donors in his newly launched presidential campaign.

Early in his campaign, Clark has demonstrated considerable fundraising prowess. From Sept. 17, the day of his announcement, to Sept. 30, Clark raised $3.5 million, substantially more than Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) raised during the three months of the third quarter. But Dean is expected to report he raised $14.8 million during the quarter that ended Sept. 30, the most of any Democratic candidate.

The former Vermont governor has been more successful than his rivals in using the Internet, raising about half of his third-quarter total that way. But Clark may prove equally adept. Before he even announced his candidacy, the Draft Wesley Clark operation on the Web had gathered $1.9 million in pledges. Although campaign officials do not know how many of those pledges became actual donations, two-thirds of the money that Clark raised this quarter came via the Internet.

The Clark campaign has signed up about 100,000 supporters, half of whom enlisted through the Draft Clark Web site, according to John Hlinko, who ran the site and now runs Internet operations for the campaign. Hlinko said the campaign is trying to overtake Dean, who as of yesterday had enlisted 461,206 people through the Internet.

Most major fundraisers and donors in California are remaining uncommitted, waiting to see how well the candidates do in the early jockeying, debates, polls and fundraising. But Clark's initial success has eaten away at some of Dean's potential support, especially in the Los Angeles area. According to many political activists there, Clark has supplanted Dean as the star attraction and the main focus of political attention, and Clark has won the likely backing of at least one prominent fundraiser, television director Norman Lear, who had been leaning to Dean.

On a recent swing through Los Angeles, Clark was the beneficiary of a $2,000-a-head fundraiser hosted by Lear and his wife, Lyn, Larry and Lauri David and Mary Steenburgen. Lear, who gave Dean $2,000 last April, said, "Both Dean and the general are the ones closest to what needs to be said." After spending time with both candidates, Lear said, "I'm inclined to the general," adding, however, "I want them both out there."

Jeremy Bernard, one of the founders of ANGLE (Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality), a political action committee based in Los Angeles, said, "I'm surprised about the amount of interest there is in Clark. It's like he's a rock star; people want pictures with him, they want him to sign things."

In what many California activists described as a significant development, Eli Broad, a businessman and major philanthropist of the arts and education in the state and nationally, is supporting Clark and indicated he is likely to raise money for him. Broad, the activists said, gives Clark access to the California business community, which is substantially more moderate than the liberal entertainment community.

Broad, in an interview, said he does not want an official fundraising role in the campaign, but "I'll be helpful to Wes Clark," whom he described as "clearly the most capable in the areas of foreign policy and domestic security."...

In this environment, and with the pressures of the new McCain-Feingold campaign finance law to raise money not from large donors but from thousands of smaller ones, the crucial test is whether candidates can convert well-known donors into active fundraisers, willing to tap into larger constituencies of givers....

In Clark's case, in addition to Broad, and possibly Lear, the candidate has lined up a solid commitment from Peter Morton, founder and chairman of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Inc. Morton said he plans to host a dinner for Clark in Las Vegas later this month and a November fundraiser in Los Angeles. Co-chairing the Los Angeles dinner with Morton are producers Jordan Kerner and Steven E. Tisch....

Quick Debate Summary

Person most out of place on the stage

Judy Woodruff

Best Smile

Tie: Carole Mosley-Braun/Wes Clark

Biggest Ears (proportionally)

Dennis Kucinich

Holds his mouth like Garth (from Wayne’s World)

Howard Dean

Most appealing target

Wesley Clark

Most grating voice

Joe Lieberman

Best defense

Al Sharpton (of Edwards)

Best line

John Kerry – “There are two ways to lower your pharmacy bill…”

Second tier candidate that should be first tier

John Edwards


People watching Scrubs.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Clark decides in favor of "free speech(es)"

Good move. Even if it is not a violation, arguing the merits of the case just provides a distraction.

Ex-Gen. Clark Gives Up Paid Speeches, Returns Fees
Thu October 9, 2003 12:17 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Retired Gen. Wesley Clark will give no more paid speeches, the Democratic presidential candidate's spokesman said on Wednesday after the Washington Post reported he may have broken the law by touting his 2004 run for the White House.

The Federal Election Commission prohibits candidates from accepting speaking fees from corporations, labor unions, individuals or universities for campaign-related events.

Since Clark announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sept. 17, he has made several paid speaking appearances on college campuses, but FEC officials said it was unclear whether he had done anything wrong.

"Based on our review of the FEC guidelines, we believe that the paid speeches Gen. Clark delivered since he announced his candidacy were appropriate," campaign spokesman Mark Fabiani said. "From here on, Gen. Clark will give no more paid speeches."

Fabiani said Clark would return the payments for speeches he had given since he entered the presidential race "to avoid any distraction from the real issues that matter to Americans." ...

Stand and Deliver

Oops! Not an Arnold movie. Okay, Arnie, you are not allowed to take this project over budget. No taxes. Fine. Cut services without "hurting the children." How about hefty fines for gropers?

Schwarzenegger Budget Tough Without Taxes-Democrats
Wed October 8, 2003 07:14 PM ET
By Michael Kahn

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - California's top financial officer and the leader of the state senate, both Democrats, said on Wednesday they doubted Republican governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger could cure the state's fiscal ills without raising taxes.

Treasurer Phil Angelides and Senate President John Burton said at separate news conferences the political novice would be hard-pressed to make good on campaign promises such as protecting education, fully funding public safety and resolving California's long-term budget shortfalls without new taxes.

Schwarzenegger, in his first press conference since being elected governor, repeated his campaign pledge not to raise taxes and pledged furthur to repeal an unpopular car tax.

Angelides, who is considering a run for governor in 2006, has said tax increases are a necessary part of fixing the state's fiscal problems and lifting California's rock-bottom, triple-B credit rating. "If he has a way to do it without taxes, he should lay it out," said Angelides. "I think it is going to be a very difficult task."...

Someone has some explaning to do

Maybe there is an excellent reason that a Bush appointed US Attorney ordered the bugging of a Democratic mayor's office. There damn well better be.

Electronic 'Bug' Heats Up Philadelphia Mayor Race
Wed October 8, 2003 09:36 PM ET
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Philadelphia's bare-knuckled mayoral campaign between Democratic incumbent John Street and Republican Sam Katz lapsed into turmoil on Wednesday after police discovered a sophisticated electronic listening device in the mayor's office.

The bug, described by police as having multiple microphones, prompted Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Edward Rendell and Republican Sen. Arlen Specter to call on federal authorities to say whether the device was part of an FBI investigation.

You may need to rethink those vacation plans

New budget travel book needed: Europe on $300 a day

Dollar declines further amid fears on deficit

The dollar faced renewed downward pressure on Tuesday, falling to fresh three-year lows against the yen and within sight of record lows against the euro, amid mounting concern over the scale of the US current account deficit.

Economists believe stronger US growth will not prevent the slide in the dollar, since it would lead to a further widening of the current account deficit, expected to reach $570bn this year.

Say what?

Don't Count Gray Davis Out, Calif. Democrats Say

Bob Mulholland, campaign advisor to the California Democratic Party, said Davis may be down but should not be counted out, adding that the only other U.S. governor to be recalled won a U.S. Senate seat shortly after his ouster.

"He's got a future," Mulholland said. "I wouldn't dismiss the fact that this governor will be back."

Yeah, uh huh. He may have a future, but I don't think it is in elective politics. The focus on Davis for all of California's woes may have been unfair, but the man is remarkably weak as a politician.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Be careful what you ask for

Many prominent Republicans have eagerly jumped on the Arnold bandgwagon seeming to think that his victory will somehow broaden the party, particularly in California. Arnold professes to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative, although he has not discussed any tough fiscal medicine for his state. He states that California's deficit is proof that Davis has failed which is a message that could come back to bite Bush. As wrong as I think this recall is, however, I don't see the upside for which many Republicans hope. Arnold isn't on the verge of possibly, if not probably, becoming Governor because of his views. Perhaps the message is that an aging action movie star with big biceps is the strongest option the Republicans have, even if he is a serial misogynistic groper who routinely humiliates women for kicks and dreams of being hailed like Hitler, regardless of what crap comes out of his mouth. Exactly which demographic does Arnold bring into a mythical Republican big tent?

California is going to have to close a huge budget deficit next year and whoever is governor is not likely to be popular regardless of what his or her past box office totals may have been. As an office-holder, the gloves will be off in regard to Arnold, and he should be prepared for regular stories from those in his past, as well as law suits. And so should California. Should Arnold win, and I think the chance for recall has lessened significantly in recent days, the circus is really just beginning. For him to win re-election in a two-person race he will need to have had strong success, which seems unlikely.

Should Bush choose to embrace Arnold, any of Arnold's "positives" will not flow to Bush or any other Republican. He is not about party or platform. More likely is that true conservatives will lose enthusiasm for those who have trampled over McClintock in their embrace of the former body builder. Come next November you are likely to have an unpopular Republican President who sees no benefit in any close alignment with a scandal-plagued unpopular California Governor who never gets above a 50% approval rating.

As bad as this recall is for Democracy, it probably isn't bad for Democrats, even in California. Arnold may think he's gonna be the new sheriff in town, but he will also be the new whipping boy.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Al Sharpton leads the pack… name recognition. Listen up, fellow web geeks. We need to get over ourselves. Any talk about any candidate having locked up the nomination overlooks one key point. We are the only ones paying attention. The electorate has not engaged. Now, if you’re reading this, don’t be offended. This next comment is not about you. Not only has the electorate not engaged for the 2004 election cycle, they never engaged in the 2000 election cycle. Proof? Exhibit A: 51% have not heard of Lieberman (as opposed to 90% of the blogosphere who wish that they had never heard of Lieberman.) Exhibit B: George W. Bush is President.

And people who are convinced that Dean’s position on the war (which was more flexible than many of his supporters seem to think) will make him the clear choice among fellow Dems? Only 29% prefer a candidate that opposed the war. Another 41% can pretty much go either way which, given our choices, is probably a good sign. Their choices?

(Democratic primary voters)
Clark 12%
Gephardt 10%
Lieberman 9%
Dean 9%
Kerry 8%

This thing is far from over.

Party of Drunks and Gropers

In the fall of 2002, the entire Bush smear machine focused on Mary Landrieu, LA (D), in her fight to keep her senate seat.  RoveCo chose Suzy Haik Terrell as their vessel and they let Mary have it.  Mary fought back and prevailed, perhaps signaling that the aura that arose around Dubya post 9-11 was not impregnable.

Well, Suzy Terrell is back and running for Attorney General and the LA GOP has released a 242 page indictment against her opponent, Charles Foti. Don’t know much about him, but I know Suzy likes wallowing in filth.

Republicans dubbed their study "The Foti Report." It contains news stories that date back to 1979 about Foti and his office. "The people of the state of Louisiana deserve the right to know the truth about Charles Foti," Hebert said. "And today we are going to give it to them."

Foti, in a prepared statement, disputed the comments and said they are a continuation of negative campaigning by and for Terrell.

Hebert cited a 1985 story in which Foti pleaded guilty to drunken driving. Foti said in a recent interview that he made a mistake and that he has not consumed alcohol since then.

Hebert said voters are entitled to know about the incident.

"This is a very serious charge," he said. "This is a man that is seeking the office of top cop of the state."

Interesting how serious this old charge seems to be to Mr. Hebert.  I guess he didn’t vote for the first all-DWI ticket in 2000, Bush-Cheney.  Rumor has it that Cheney was chosen because his two DWI convictions made Bush seem less tainted with only one such conviction.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Straight talk?

I respected Dean more last June when I heard him say he would entertain raising the retirement age to 68. Not that I necessarily favor it, but clearly he wasn't saying it for political expedience. Well all that has changed. Along with several other positions. When I hear Dean supporters describe this guy I'm sure that there must be a case of mistaken identity. I realize many of them have maxed out their 21.9% credit cards to fund this child of Park Avenue's presidential ambitions, so they are really invested, so to speak. Still, I'm afraid the awakening, whenever it comes, will be brutal-- which is too bad. There is a ton of passion behind Dean.

Rivals Target Dean's Blunt Comments

Dean's rivals and some Democratic strategists see the former Vermont governor's comments past and present as among his biggest liabilities. Sens. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) are turning Dean's words against him almost daily, calling into question his commitment to Democratic causes such as Medicare and the Middle East, and portraying him as a flip-flopper on other issues. Since running for president, Dean has switched his position on at least three politically sensitive topics: Social Security, free trade and the Cuba trade embargo. In all three cases, his new position comports with the views of the key voters he is courting.
"He'd have to go a long way to alienate" his committed supporters, many of whom are new to politics, said Democratic strategist Joe Lockhart, a former spokesman for President Bill Clinton. "The problem for him is he can't win with just those people. He needs some of the people who regularly participate in the process. Those people still have reservations, and this back-and-forth plays into those reservations."
Dean's comments over the past decade show that, perhaps more than any other candidate in the field, he has switched or modified key positions as a presidential contender. Because he rarely speaks from scripts, he also tends to make more off-the-cuff statements that land him in hot water. Kerry recently said Dean makes way too many verbal "gaffes" to be president.

Dean is getting hit the hardest over Medicare. Gephardt and others have accused Dean of siding with then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in the 1995 fight to slow the growth of Medicare from 10 percent to 7 percent. Dean last weekend said the charge is false, but it is not.

Although Dean never explicitly said he was siding with Gingrich, he did endorse a GOP proposal, backed by the then-speaker, to slow Medicare's growth. He told a Vermont newspaper in 1995 that he could "fully subscribe" to slowing the rate of the program's growth to 7 percent, which would have been tantamount to cutting Medicare spending.

NEWSFLASH: Journalist with sense of humor

A journalist who got the joke! Guess he can't work for Newseek.

His critics refuse to give him credit for a sense of humor, too. He told the governor of Colorado he would have become a Republican instead of a Democrat "if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls."

This obvious joke resulted in at least a half-dozen columns in conservative magazines and websites denouncing Clark for having no political principles and for "lying" about any such call. Clark has made numerous appearances on CNN criticizing administration policy regarding the Iraq war. So voter registration is probably the last thing Clark and Rove might talk about on the telephone.

Here's a twist on 2004

The USC Daily Trojan proposes a possible matchup that would be interesting. Powell once was Clark's Commanding Officer and recently disputed negative quotes attributed to him, actually praising Clark as a "gifted soldier." Now, the biggest problem with this scenario is that the Republicans could never put forward a pro-choice, pro-affirmative action candidate for President. Governor of California, yes, but not President. The base would implode. Unless they get particularly desperate...Hmmm.

Colin Powell v. Wesley Clark (or, "From the Pup Tent to the White House") Suffering from the lack of resolve in Iraq and our nosedive economy, Bush's current approval rating is the lowest it's been since he entered office.

If the Republicans know what's good for them, they will demote him to giving White House tours and designate sure-fire victor Colin Powell as their man. Despite his connection to the unpopular Bush Administration, Powell is still as popular with the American public as peanut butter and bad television.

If the Republicans pick him, the Dems would have no choice but to enlist the only similarly respected war veteran on their side, Wesley Clark.

This scenario is good for a number of reasons. Beyond the fact that they are both well-educated, highly decorated military generals, we mustn't lose sight of that one wonderful prerequisite that makes them most qualified of all: lack of political experience. From four-star general Dwight Eisenhower to haberdasher Harry Truman, America has been well served by presidents who did not have their roots in the slimy world of public administration and bureaucracy. And let's face it: whether it is picking up guys in a bar or electing them to civic office, there's just somethin' about a man in uniform.

Clark scores well with Arizona Hispanics

It's early, but this can't hurt.

Poll shows Arizona Hispanics favor Wesley Clark among Democrats for president

Despite his late entry into the Democratic presidential sweepstakes, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark is the favorite among Hispanics in Arizona, according to a new poll.

Clark, who became the 10th Democratic presidential hopeful in late September, is the choice of a quarter of Hispanic voters who have decided who will get their vote, which is half the state's registered Hispanic voters, according to the Phoenix-based Rocky Mountain Poll.

Pollster Earl de Berge of the Behavior Research Center, said Clark's edge may be a reflection of "the generally conservative and patriotic/pro-military profile of many Latino voters."

Whatever the reason, the former NATO supreme allied commander in Kosovo is six points ahead of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean - the leading fund-raiser in the race - who is the choice of 19 percent of Hispanic Democrats in the state. ...

It takes a big man to fill a big tent

Well, Gary, it appears that you've been listening to the deceptive Howard Dean and have picked up that "Republican" thing, but the basic concept is right. When you seek to broaden the party, you embrace those who can do so.

Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York said he went to the meeting to see if Clark had the moxie to stand up to people who accuse others of being unpatriotic for questioning current U.S. policy. "We don’t usually have fourstar generals who are Republicans who become Democrats. To some of us, that has a lot of appeal," Ackerman said. "When you search for converts, and you find one, you’re supposed to be happy."

Clark said Tuesday’s meeting was not designed to gather congressional endorsements, but to learn from lawmakers and to give them an idea of where he stands on the issues.

Berry and Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas both said, however, that they suspected he picked up supporters. Berry said two lawmakers approached him after the meeting to let him know they would serve as a Clark campaign chairmen in their respective states. "For him to connect with so many members the way he did on his first official [campaign] visit to the Hill, I thought was just amazing," Ross said. "He got some very tough questions. I mean, you had 70 members of Congress who peppered him with questions on just about every foreign-affairs and domestic-affairs issue you can think of."