Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Psst..Hey buddy...wanna buy some drugs?

Bush thinks he has a victory with this one. I kinda doubt it.

Analysts: Medicare Drug Costs Will Rise

WASHINGTON - Seniors will face annual increases in premiums and deductibles — and a growing gap in coverage — for the prescription drugs they buy under the new Medicare law, budget analysts say.

For example, the $250 annual deductible at the start of the program in 2006 is projected to rise to $445 by 2013.

The legislation that won final congressional approval Tuesday would allow seniors to buy coverage — at an estimated monthly premium of $35 — for their prescription drugs beginning in three years. After they agreed to the monthly premiums and paid their first $250 in pharmacy bills, the coverage would kick in, paying 75 percent of their bills between $250 and $2,250.

After that, there would be no further coverage until beneficiaries' drug bills for the year reached $5,100, leaving a gap of $2,850 that they would have to pay out of their own pockets. Above $5,100 the insurance would pick up roughly 95 percent of costs.

Those are the numbers supporters of the bill have used, with little mention that they would change in future years.

But after just one year, the Congressional Budget Office projects that seniors would see their $250 deductible and the $2,850 gap for which there is no coverage both jump 10 percent.

By 2013, the eighth year of the program, the deductible and the coverage gap are both projected to grow by 78 percent.

In other words, seniors would pay a $445 deductible and those with the largest drug bills would be entirely responsible for more than $5,000 in drug costs.

Bush family values

Room service takes on a whole 'nother meaning for well-connected, well-to-do.

HOUSTON (Reuters) Neil Bush, younger brother of President Bush, detailed lucrative business deals and admitted to engaging in sex romps with women in Asia in a deposition taken in March as part of his divorce from now ex-wife Sharon Bush.

According to legal documents disclosed on Tuesday, Sharon Bush's lawyers questioned Neil Bush closely about the deals, especially a contract with Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., a firm backed by Jiang Mianheng, the son of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, that would pay him $2 million in stock over five years.

Marshall Davis Brown, lawyer for Sharon Bush, expressed bewilderment at why Grace would want Bush and at such a high price since he knew little about the semiconductor business. ...

Bush said he was co-chairman of Crest Investment Corporation, but worked only an average of three to four hours a week. For that, he received $15,000 every three months.

Bush said he provided Crest "miscellaneous consulting services."

"Such as?" asked Brown.

"Such as answering phone calls when Jamail Daniel, the other co-chairman, called and asked for advice," Bush said. ...

Bush is the third of five children in the family of former President George Bush and wife Barbara.

He was involved in a business controversy in the late 1980s when he was director of Denver, Colorado-based Silverado Savings & Loan, which collapsed at a cost to taxpayers of $1 billion.

He denied any wrongdoing, but was sanctioned by the federal government for his part in the failure.

The Bush divorce, completed in April after 23 years of marriage, was prompted in part by Bush's relationship with another woman. He admitted in the deposition that he previously had sex with several other women while on trips to Thailand and Hong Kong at least five years ago.

The women, he said, simply knocked on the door of his hotel room, entered and had sex with him. He said he did not know if they were prostitutes because they never asked for money and he did not pay them.

"Mr Bush, you have to admit it's a pretty remarkable thing for a man just to go to a hotel room door and open it and have a woman standing there and have sex with her," Brown said.

"It was very unusual," Bush said.

Can you imagine being able to write a killer Penthouse letter almost every time you stay in a hotel? "I had just finished my room service hamburger and was watching World Sport on CNN International when a beautiful woman knocked on my door, entered my room and rocked my world without saying a word."

Apparently, this is standard practice when you stay at the Concierge Level of Bangkok's finest hotels. I hear you also get a free cocktail hour and a copy of USA Today during the week.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Kids say the darndest things

Don't know who to attribute this to, but I thought I would share.

John Ashcroft was visiting an elementary school. After fifteen minutes of speaking he says, "I will now answer any questions you have."

Robert stands up and says, "Mr. Ashcroft, I have four questions: 1] How did Bush win the election with fewer votes than Gore? 2] Why are you using the American Patriot Act to limit civil liberties? 3] Why haven't we caught Osama Bin Laden? 4] Where are the weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq?"

Just then the bell rang. The kids rushed out to play. Upon their return, Mr. Ashcroft said, "I'm sorry we were interrupted. I will answer any questions you have." A little girl named Julie stands up and says, "I have six questions: 1] How did Bush win the election with fewer votes than Gore? 2] Why are you using the American Patriot Act to limit civil liberties? 3] Why haven't you caught Osama Bin Laden? 4] Where are the weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq? 5] Why did the bell ring 20 minutes early? and 6] Where is Robert?

A Royal Trashing

Well, you can dress him up, but you can't take him out.

Remember the hullabaloo about the Clinton/Gore trashing of the White House in the finals days of American democracy that never really happened? Sounds like Dubya might need to some fence mendin' with our last remaining ally.

Queen's fury as Bush goons wreck garden

THE Queen is furious with President George W. Bush after his state visit caused thousands of pounds of damage to her gardens at Buckingham Palace.

Royal officials are now in touch with the Queen's insurers and Prime Minister Tony Blair to find out who will pick up the massive repair bill. Palace staff said they had never seen the Queen so angry as when she saw how her perfectly-mantained lawns had been churned up after being turned into helipads with three giant H landing markings for the Bush visit.

The rotors of the President's Marine Force One helicopter and two support Black Hawks damaged trees and shrubs that had survived since Queen Victoria's reign.

And Bush's army of clod-hopping security service men trampled more precious and exotic plants.

The Queen's own flock of flamingoes, which security staff insisted should be moved in case they flew into the helicopter rotors, are thought to be so traumatised after being taken to a "place of safety" that they might never return home.

The historic fabric of the Palace was also damaged as high-tech links were fitted for the US leader and his entourage during his three-day stay with the Queen.

The Palace's head gardener, Mark Lane, was reported to be in tears when he saw the scale of the damage.

"The Queen has every right to feel insulted at the way she has been treated by Bush," said a Palace insider.

"The repairs will cost tens of thousands of pounds but the damage to historic and rare plants will be immense. They are still taking an inventory.

"The lawns are used for royal garden parties and are beautifully kept. But 30,000 visitors did not do as much damage as the Americans did in three days.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

A few words of free advice for the General

Of course, we all know how much free advice is usually worth.

While Bush gets by with almost daily contradictions and outright falsehoods, the media is scouring anything Clark has ever said looking to feed the inconsistency meme that the Repugs are pushing. (I've heard he once complimented Dick Cheney on his tie, but I haven't found the videotape.) The latest is from Face the Nation regarding Clark saying nice things about Rumsfeld’s appointment early on juxtaposed against Clark saying to Rather that he would not have appointed him. I understood Clark’s answer, but I think it needs to be bit more clear. I suggest:

I knew Rumsfeld from when he served previously and knew him to be extremely bright and capable. But at the time I spoke highly of his appointment, I assumed that his world view was more in line with the realties of the world we find ourselves in. As he has demonstrated, clearly it is not. In 2000, if I was President, I might have considered him for a position. If I had, I would have interviewed him, discovered the discrepancy in our world views and would not have appointed him, just as I said to Dan Rather recently.

On the comment about the Iraq war resolution that will not die, and was brought up in every major media appearance this past week:

When I said I thought the conversation with those journalists was “off the record”, what I meant by that was that we were have a free wheeling conversation in which I was thinking out loud about a complex and hypothetical situation, not stating a policy position for the record. This issue is less cut-and-dried than many would want you to believe, which is why I don’t think one’s vote on this should be any kind of litmus test for Democrats.

Listen closely, because I want to clarify this once and for all. If I were President, I would have wanted the Congress’ clear support to strengthen my hand with the UN. This is what I assume my fellow candidates who voted for the resolution were trying to achieve. More specifically, perhaps, trying to strengthen Colin Powell’s efforts to work through the UN. I don’t fault them for their vote. The Neocons never wanted to go to the UN in the first place and anyone interested in a diplomatic solution may have felt that providing Colin Powell with greater leverage was the best bet to avoid war.

In an ideal world, if I were in Congress I would have hoped to have a resolution that would have required the President to come back to the Congress. But don’t kid yourself. At the point this President decided to go to war, he would have gone with or without a resolution, and the Republican congress was not going to tie his hands. What I have said is that I would not have voted to go to war. But to be fair to them, I don’t think every congressmen who voted for the resolution viewed themselves as voting for war.

By the same token, I don’t fault Dennis Kucinich for voting against the resolution and I don’t fault anyone who claims they would have voted against the resolution if they had had the opportunity. This war at this time was absolutely not necessary. This war distracted us from the war on terrorism. I have been very consistent on this. Howard Dean consulted with me at least four times about foreign affairs and he never thought my position was otherwise. That said, once it was imminent, I supported our troops and wanted them to have everything they needed to be successful—especially an effective strategy for success which this administration has never had.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Wonder how much time they spent talking about this plan?

Wow. If this doesn't get tons of attention, even with the Kobe, Michael and Laci obsessions, I'm not sure what will. I'm glad Clark didn't get Tommy's endorsement. This certainly lends insights to why he feels a kinship with an AWOL President.

Gen. Tommy Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government.

Franks, who successfully led the U.S. military operation to liberate Iraq, expressed his worries in an extensive interview he gave to the men’s lifestyle magazine Cigar Aficionado....

If that happens, Franks said, “... the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy.”...

“It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.”

Franks didn’t speculate about how soon such an event might take place.

If we have to give up our freedom to avoid losing our freedom, how do we come out ahead? And I thought not being free to travel to Cuba was bad.

It’s just politics, plain and simple

Clark continues to be questioned about Hugh “can I get some vodka” Shelton’s chickenshit cheapshot. Understandably, he’s kinda peeved by it. Frankly, I think he needs to resist the urge to consistently offer lengthy explanations about policy differences over Kosovo. The average voter needs something more brief and simple. I think he needs to cast that winning smile and laugh it off. The more serious he takes it, others will take it. Here’s how I wish he’d respond:

“Look, it’s pretty obvious that Hugh’s remark was just politics, plain and simple. I served in the military over 34 years and have an established record I invite anyone to examine. I’ve released my entire military record, and encourage President Bush to do the same by the way, and no superior officer that I served under ever questioned my character or integrity. In fact, it was just the opposite. And it wasn’t like I was pulled overnight as the Supreme Allied Commander. I continued to serve for months after the decision was made regarding my replacement and I was assured by Hugh that the only reason was because they had to assign my replacement on a particular timeline or he would have to be knocked back down to a two-star. And when I left I was awarded the highest medals possible for my service during that assignment.

You know, even though we had policy differences, I took Hugh Shelton at his word at that time, so if he is saying something different now both versions obviously can’t be true. But if has any real issue with me, I assume he’ll be man enough to tell me directly and not through some vague innuendo as a dinner speaker. I think he’s a better man than that. But any fair person who looks at my military evaluations will quickly conclude that his single remark is a non-issue. I believe the American people are fair and see through this kind of politics for what it is.”

Now others should raise this point: Hugh Shelton and William Cohen reportedly deceived Clinton into thinking Clark was on board with leaving his post early. Clinton was reportedly angry when he found out he had been duped by Shelton and Cohen. Character and integrity issues? Shelton should be called on to tell the truth about the deceitful way he and Cohen fooled the Commander-in-chief.

Moreover there is this gem from that integrity deprived little weasel Cohen on May 1, 2000:

Q: This is General Clarke's last visit to Kosovo today. Any word on how he has performed his job?

Sec Def.: He has done an extraordinary job. General Clarke is one of our most brilliant officers. He undertook a mission that is perhaps one the most complicated and complex and carried it out successfully. As I mentioned in my remarks, this air campaign was the most successful in the history of warfare. We had over 38,000 sorties that were flown. We had only two planes that were shot down and no pilots lost. That is a record that is unparalleled in the history of warfare. So, General Clarke and his entire staff and subordinates and all who participated deserve great credit.

Q: Why is he leaving office, then?

Sec Def.: He is leaving because we have General Ralston who will become the new SACEUR. We are now replacing many of our CINCs throughout the world.

Q: It is not a reflection on his performance?

Sec Def: No reflection at all. He has done an outstanding job as the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Southern Command, and he did an outstanding job here as EUCOM Commander and also as SACEUR.

Now, Cohen on October 15, 2003:

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: There was friction between General Clark and myself. And, frankly, I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on his political aspirations. I made a judgment during the time that he was serving as head of NATO, SACEUR. And I felt that the ax, as such, when it fell spoke for itself.

Really? Then what were the words you spoke at the time, then? Bald-faced lies?

An attorney doing a cross examination would pose the question like this:

"Mr. Cohen you have made contradictory statements about General Clark's removal as Supreme Allied Commander. So which is it, were you lying in the May of 2000 or are you lying now?"

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

So much for the flypaper theory

I thought one of the supposed benefits of being in Iraq was that we wanted to invite terrorists to attack our troops in Iraq so that they will forget about the rest us back in the states. Guess this general is not on board with that inane plan.

Few Signs of Infiltration by Foreign Fighters in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 18 — The commanding general of the United States Army division that patrols much of Iraq's western borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that his men had encountered only a handful of foreign fighters trying to sneak into the country to attack American and allied forces.

"I want to underscore that most of the attacks on our forces are by former regime loyalists and other Iraqis, not foreign forces," said the officer, Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., commander of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Sure, the Brits hate Bush now, but once they see him up close...

then they'll really wonder why the rest of us put up with the moronic, faux cowboy bastard.

Bush granted an exclusive to Rupert Murdoch's tabloid with boobs, The Sun:

Speaking on the eve of a two-day State Visit to the UK, the US President said: “I can’t imagine what it would be like if I were a mother or a dad to have lost a child.

That's why we're in Iraq, and why you're not qualified to be Commander-in-Chief.

You're also a contradictory liar:

“I understand how bad they hurt."

You're gonna have a hard time selling Europe on this one since they still have some semblance of a free press (outside of Rupert's holdings):

“I want your readers to know the military is my LAST choice, not first choice.”

Compassionate Conservatism: Promise hugs for the family members when you send their sons and daughters to die in a needless war.

See, I understand the consequences of war. I understand particularly when I go and hug the moms and dads and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters of those who died.

Not sure when this has happened, but we know it hasn't been at any soldier's funeral since he hasn't attended any.

Is the world a safer place since the war in Iraq? He replied: “Yes, much safer. The free world has recognised the threat.

Do you really think Bush said recognized with an "s"?

“In order to make the world safe, you’ve got to see reality.

“And the reality is that there are cold-blooded killers who are trying to intimidate, create fear and shape the will of the civilised world."

The problem is, most Europeans polled think that Bush tries "to intimidate, create fear and shape the will of the civilised world."

One of my vows to the American people is, I won’t forget the lessons of September 11, 2001.

That lesson for Dubya: Terrorism is great for poll ratings.

The Sun is beaming over its coup:

Sun beats the world

THE Sun scooped the world with its interview with Mr Bush — and it hasn’t gone down well with our rivals.

The President has given no one-on-one interviews this year with major US papers.

When asked why he chose The Sun, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told miffed reporters: “It has a large readership.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Well, they say she is a polarizing figure

Apparently Hillary is generating a little generational tension. Too bad. Since both are wasting their time, they have alot in common.

The Draft-Hillary Camps Push Their Buttons, and Each Other's

How divided is the race for the Democratic presidential nomination? Even the Draft Hillary movements can't stand each other.

"We're avoiding him," says Adam Parkhomenko, the 18-year-old leader of VoteHillary.org in Arlington, talking about Bob Kunst, leader of Miami Beach-based HillaryNow.com.

"I'm avoiding him," says Kunst of Parkhomenko. "The kid is on a total ego trip."

Not true, says Parkhomenko. "We wouldn't be in this situation if the guy had just returned my e-mails. And when he finally did, all he wanted was for me to help him to sell bumper stickers."

"I'm way too busy for this nonsense," Kunst declares.

The timing of this spat could not be worse. It coincides with Hillary Rodham Clinton's much-hyped appearance at the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner Saturday night. This is a momentous occasion for those who believe that the senator's presidential candidacy in 2004 is inevitable, like Santa Claus on Christmas, despite her numerous vows to the contrary. ...

Saturday's dinner is also a chance for the Draft Hillary movements to coalesce. But there's little coalescing going on between Parkhomenko and Kunst. They are selling their respective Hillary buttons and bumper stickers outside Veterans Memorial Auditorium. They are separated by about 50 feet but don't speak to each other. Only about each other.

"He's an 18-year-old kid," says Kunst, who is 61. "I don't trust him."

"Yeah, whatever," Parkhomenko says. ...

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Deja Vu?

I recall a helicopter crashing after hitting a military transport plane in Iran in 1980. Many people saw it as a turning point in Carter's presidency, supposedly reflecting a lack of competence and deepening the sense of American frustration over the Iran hostage crisis. What will the tipping point be in Iraq?

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) - Two Black Hawk helicopters collided and crashed Saturday night, killing 17 American soldiers in the U.S. military's worst single loss of life since the Iraq war began.

Five soldiers were injured and one was missing, the military said. One helicopter smashed into the roof of a house, witnesses said, and there were reports one of the aircraft was shot down.

As the U.S. death toll in Iraq passed the 400 mark, the Iraqi Governing Council endorsed a U.S. plan Saturday that would create a provisional government by June. The transfer of power would provide Washington with an "exit strategy" in the face of escalating guerrilla warfare.

Wonder who they were talking about?

Fresh from Iowa:

"We need to offer answers, not just anger," Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) told a boisterous party fundraising dinner. "Solutions, not just slogans. So Iowa, in January, don't just send them a message. Send them a president."

"We are all angry at George Bush, we should be angry at George Bush," said Sen. John Edwards (N.C.). But he cautioned that anger alone will not change the country. "If all we are in 2004 is a party of anger, we can't win."

Being pissed ain't enough? Ya think?

"Hi, I'm Wes Clark and I'm running for President."

Clark readies to spend a little cash on media:

Clark will spend a substantial portion of his resources on paid advertising, launching on Tuesday an ambitious two-month , $1.1 million media buy in New Hampshire that highlights his combat heroism and NATO leadership and keeps him on television through the Jan. 27 primary, with few down days. The ads will be launched with a $220,000 first-week blitz of 60-second spots. Campaign officials hope that the spots will help define Clark for the large percentage of undecided voters in the state who know little about him.

Soon after, the campaign plans major television buys in South Carolina and Arizona, states where Clark is popular. The later buys are part of an aggressive strategy that anticipates Clark doing well in New Hampshire, and breaking out of the nine-person pack in the Feb. 3 primaries, creating a two-man race with Dean.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Latest from Gallup

For those thinking Dean has somehow wrapped up the Dem nomination before a single vote has been cast, the latest numbers from Gallup make clear this race is far from over.

Howard Dean Still an Unknown Quantity to Many Americans
No front-runner among Democrats for their party's nomination

The lack of significant upward movement in the name identification of Dean is perhaps the most surprising finding here. He has been widely considered -- by pundits, columnists, and professional political observers -- to be the front-runner in the race, and he has certainly received a good proportion of the news coverage about the Democratic candidates. Still, as can be seen, only 46% of members of his own party say they know enough about Dean to give an opinion either way, slightly less than his name identification among all Americans.

And in a head-to-head with Bush, Clark still does best:

Bush 50
Wesley Clark 47

Bush 53
Howard Dean 44

Bush 52
Dick Gephardt 46

Bush 52
John Kerry 46

Bush 52
Joe Lieberman 46

Clark does best of the five leading Democrats; Bush beats Clark by only three percentage points among registered voters nationwide. Dean does the worst; Bush beats him by nine percentage points.

We are a long way from the finish line, folks. Support the candidate of your choice, and work for his or her election.

Clark to stay within financial limits

Guess these means Clark will need to rely on Moveon.org, Soros, and others to attack Bush if he gets the nomination. Expect to see even more free TV time for the General if that happens. Heck, he might even become Larry King's co-host. Good morning, Regis. Dave, how's the new baby? Don Imus, can we talk? Oprah, have you read my book(s)?

Clark to accept public financing

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic hopeful Wesley Clark, who flirted with the idea of skipping public financing of his campaign despite a late fund-raising start, announced Thursday he will stay within the system.

The decision means Clark will be limited to $45 million in overall primary spending and will face state-to-state spending caps. He will be eligible for up to about $19 million in government funding for his campaign.

Keep the truth to yourself, soldier. That's an order!

Commander-in-chief blasted on Rockford air waves

ROCKFORD -- An Illinois National Guardsman at home on leave blasted the President today on a Rockford area radio show, saying the President lied about his reasons for American military going to Iraq.

Sergeant Jessica Macek of Rockford, Illinois has been serving in Iraq for six-months with the National Guard's 333rd MP Company, and while home on leave, during an interview on WNTA 1330 AM Radio in Rockford said she believes that President Bush lied about the reasons for going to war.

"I believe it is in the forefront in the minds of many soldiers that we were lied to about the reasons for going to war," Macek told the radio audience.

The bulk of Macek's criticism comes over what she said was a lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction. "We have been there for six months now, and we have not found any weapons," said Macek. "If there were weapons it seems we should have found them by now."

In a subsequent interview Macek said she may not have used the best wording when she offered her criticism of Bush and that she "can't always think of the best words to use at the best times."

Macek was on leave for nine days and was scheduled to go back to Iraq on November 8th, where according to her she is located 80 miles south of Baghdad. She said she has seen much progress in the reconstruction of Iraq but that lately she has not seen the "smiles on the faces" of the Iraqi people.

"There has been a change since the first time I arrived, it is just different," said Macek. "It used to be welcoming but the attitude has changed to a more negative attitude toward American soldiers."

She offered no specific reason as to why there may have been a shift in their attitude but that it was just her feeling of the situation.

Macek's strident criticism of President Bush may have opened her up to disciplinary action according to US Central Command Spokesmen Major Pete Mitchell based at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa Florida.

The President lies, people die, but that's not the offense? Sure, I understand why soldiers aren't quite as free to speak their mind as the rest of us, but in the larger scheme of things, who holds the commander-in-chief accountable for his lies? (Other than the electorate years later.) What does the military code of justice say about placing troops in harms way for fraudulent purposes? Any military lawyers out there have any theories on this one?

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Reemerging as the majority party

Dems in Repug land see Clark as the best chance to take the country back. Get hyped up at a Dean rally, then work for Clark to make it happen.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, plans to endorse the Democratic presidential candidate Friday, according to Democrats familiar with his plans.

Baucus' spokesman, Barrett Kaiser, confirmed reports of the senator's plans to endorse Clark.

Clark, the newest candidate in the race, has already received the backing of Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Baucus, who promotes himself as a bipartisan Democrat, believes Clark can reach across party lines and be the best opponent of President Bush, say Democrats familiar with Baucus plans.

Misguided loyalty

Powell Suggests He Would Never Resign on Policy
Wed November 12, 2003 07:33 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell, talking on Wednesday about his 1940s predecessor George Marshall, suggested he would never resign on policy, however much he might disagree with President Bush.

Powell said in the interview: "I think any good subordinate accommodates himself to the wishes of his superior and, in effect, you determine how best to serve that individual."

Too bad Powell sees himself as serving a misguided individual instead of serving his country. Powell's resignation could be a powerful statement.

Monday, November 10, 2003

A closer look at Kentucky and Mississippi

The South is uphill for the Dems, but not out of reach with the right candidate and message. Only 45% of voters in these two states are definitely planning to vote for Bush-- and that number could conceivably go lower.

Looking ahead to 2004, pluralities of around 45 percent in both states said they definitely would vote for Bush if the presidential election were today while about 35 percent definitely would vote for someone else. Those who haven't firmly made up their minds comprised 20 percent of the gubernatorial electorate in Kentucky and 17 percent in Mississippi.

123 and still couldn't break free: Sexism follows woman to the grave

Have you been carrying around any lingering resentments that you should probably let go of? This poor woman was still resentful about something she had to do in the 1800's. And still no peace.

123-Year-Old Woman Buried Next to Hated Husband

TIRANA (Reuters) - The oldest woman in Albania -- and perhaps the world -- died at the age of 123 and was buried beside the husband she resented being forced to marry at 14.

Born on August 22, 1880, Hava Rexha breathed her last in the picturesque central Albanian village of Shushice, where she had spent her whole life.

Wrapped in a faded shroud which she embroidered for herself when her elderly husband died a few years after World War II, Rexha was buried in the wooded Shushice cemetery.

Hundreds of people, who saw her as an icon of longevity, joined her only surviving daughter, Vule, 80, and 120 other members of her family to pay their last respects at a Muslim ceremony local reporters described as "majestic."

Interviewed by Reuters a month before her 122nd birthday, Rexha still resented her forced marriage at 14 to a man who was "about 60 and married twice before as well."

"I did not want a wedding. I didn't love my husband. He was an old man," said Rexha, who had six children, four of whom died in childhood.

I've got someone in mind

Sometimes David Broder merely irritates. But once and a while, he makes a good point.

Today, only 121 veterans of the armed services are in the House -- barely more than one-quarter of the membership. A generation ago, in 1975, 318 of the 435 representatives had worn their country's uniform, and a good many of them had seen combat in World War II or Korea. Comradeship came more easily to them, and so did the kind of mutual respect that makes possible compromise and, ultimately, agreement.

None of the top leaders of either party today has been in the service. Most of those who aspire to be their successors also lack that experience.

It is not just politicians and legislators who would benefit from undergoing the discipline and experiencing the rewards of giving a period of their lives to tasks assigned by their country -- either military or civilian. That is the surest way we know to restore the sense of shared commitment so lacking today.

We need more veterans -- and we desperately need more people who know the difference between warfare and politics.

Thank God we're a nation of immigrants

Having personally experienced the repressive regime of an egomaniacal tryrant, Soros does not care much for the man from Crawford (by way of New Haven).

Soros's Deep Pockets vs. Bush
Financier Contributes $5 Million More in Effort to Oust President

NEW YORK -- George Soros, one of the world's richest men, has given away nearly $5 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet bloc, Africa and Asia. Now he has a new project: defeating President Bush.

"It is the central focus of my life," Soros said, his blue eyes settled on an unseen target. The 2004 presidential race, he said in an interview, is "a matter of life and death."

Soros, who has financed efforts to promote open societies in more than 50 countries around the world, is bringing the fight home, he said. On Monday, he and a partner committed up to $5 million to MoveOn.org, a liberal activist group, bringing to $15.5 million the total of his personal contributions to oust Bush.

Overnight, Soros, 74, has become the major financial player of the left. He has elicited cries of foul play from the right. And with a tight nod, he pledged: "If necessary, I would give more money."

"America, under Bush, is a danger to the world," Soros said. Then he smiled: "And I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is."

Soros believes that a "supremacist ideology" guides this White House. He hears echoes in its rhetoric of his childhood in occupied Hungary. "When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans." It conjures up memories, he said, of Nazi slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit ("The enemy is listening"). "My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me," he said in a soft Hungarian accent
Asked whether he would trade his $7 billion fortune to unseat Bush, Soros opened his mouth. Then he closed it. The proposal hung in the air: Would he become poor to beat Bush?

He said, "If someone guaranteed it."

Sunday, November 09, 2003

This should encourage other countries to stop developing nuclear weapons

I guess if we had this weapon we would have nuked Saddam's bunker at the start of the war and then...he'd still be out there.

With many bills in play, including a far-reaching energy bill and reform of Medicare, Republicans are also quietly using the spending bills to embark on new initiatives.

House and Senate negotiators last week completed work on a $27.3 billion energy and water bill that provides $13.5 million for research on a new kind of nuclear weapon, known as the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, or bunker buster.

Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, but Bushco doesn't appreciate irony

Bushco not pleased with it's handpicked Iraqi governing council:

Occupation authority officials complain that council members are frequently absent from meetings or send delegates to sit in while leaders travel or stay at home. In Washington, U.S. officials voiced complaints last week that council members are overly concerned about their own political and economic interests at the expense of acting decisively.

Wonder where they have picked up these traits? Why should the Iraqi governing council be any different than any other part of the Bush administration? Isn't this whole thing about promoting the self-interest of Bush and his backers?

The Bush administration is considering replacing the U.S.-appointed body with a large, representative assembly specifically tasked to move the constitutional and elections process forward.

Wish it that easy to replace our SCOTUS-appointed government.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Truth is more frightening than fiction

Maybe CBS should have skipped the miniseries and done a documentary.

Some true-life scenes: Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (calling it "humiliating to the South"), and ran for governor of California in 1966 promising to wipe the Fair Housing Act off the books. "If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house," he said, "he has a right to do so." After the Republican convention in 1980, Reagan travelled to the county fair in Neshoba, Mississippi, where, in 1964, three Freedom Riders had been slain by the Ku Klux Klan. Before an all-white crowd of tens of thousands, Reagan declared: "I believe in states' rights".

As president, Reagan aligned his justice department on the side of segregation, supporting the fundamentalist Bob Jones University in its case seeking federal funds for institutions that discriminate on the basis of race. In 1983, when the supreme court decided against Bob Jones, Reagan, under fire from his right in the aftermath, gutted the Civil Rights Commission.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Anything Dean hasn't changed positions on?

Dean's about to change his mind again. He does that, you know, when given new facts. This time the new facts are that he thinks it's to his advantage.

"Where's the principle?" Kerry asked of Dean's change of heart, which has come in part because of the extraordinary success the former governor has had in raising millions of dollars from small donations, many on the Internet.

Dean acknowledged changing his views but said he blamed it on a sudden realization that Bush, who abandoned public financing in the 2000 campaign, could financially overwhelm a Democrat who stayed within the system.

Dean told reporters, "I probably had no idea President Bush was going to raise $200 million." But Bush raised about $100 million in his first campaign and it was well known at the time of Dean's statement that he would seek nearly to double that this year.

"[P]robably had no idea?" Did you or didn't you? And if you didn't, are you a moron? Besides, can't a candidate stay within the limits for the primary and opt out in the general? If so, why not do that, if Bush's totals are what concern you?

More "straight talk" from the man that would be John McCain 2004.

Taking their ball and going home...

But wait a minute...In a government by the people and for the people, isn't it our frigging ball?

Frist Freezes Senate Probe of Prewar Iraq Data

Angry about a leaked Democratic memo, the Republican leadership of the Senate yesterday took the unusual step of canceling all business of the committee investigating prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) called on the author of the memo -- which laid out a possible Democratic strategy to extend the investigation to include the White House and executive branch -- to "identify himself or herself . . . disavow this partisan attack in its entirety" and deliver "a personal apology" to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Only if those steps are taken, Frist said, "will it be possible for the committee to resume its work in an effective and bipartisan manner -- a manner deserving of the confidence of other members of the Senate and the executive branch."

Roberts followed Frist on the floor and said that unless the Democratic members "properly" address the issue, "I am afraid that it will be impossible to return to 'business as usual' in the committee."

A committee meeting scheduled for yesterday was canceled, and none has been scheduled for next week, according to a senior committee staff member.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.), the committee's ranking Democrat, said he was "really disappointed" with the Republican action. "Whose advantage is it to derail asking the tough questions on prewar intelligence and the use and misuse of it?" he asked.

To whose advantage is it? Obviously the administration's.

The GOP move follows a month of extraordinary maneuvering by Democrats and Republicans to take political advantage of the committee's look at how the intelligence community collected and analyzed intelligence on Iraq over the past decade.

Yesterday, Frist appeared to close the door entirely on the Democrats' wishes. After discussions with Roberts, the majority leader said that "the committee's review is nearly complete" and "we have jointly determined the committee can and will complete its review this year."

"They can't do that," Rockefeller said, noting that hundreds of pages of requested documents have recently been promised by the State Department and Pentagon and more interviews have been scheduled.

In addition, he noted that the final report from David Kay, who heads the CIA's search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has not been completed. "What can we say about prewar intelligence without Kay's report?" Rockefeller asked.

If we had a fair, objective and responsible media, much less a liberal one, this would not stand.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Dean's Achille's Heel

Dean admitted today what some of us had already noticed-- his ability to be objective, suffers greatly when he is challenged. It is good to recognize this, but it is more than a minor flaw for the leader of the free world. Of course, the fact that Dean is at least capable of reaching this conclusion in a matter of days puts him light years ahead of the current President.

Throughout the day Dr. Dean, 54, appeared subdued and reflective, a sharp contrast to the defiant tone he struck at Tuesday night's debate.

He said that his main mistake had been not immediately condemning the flag during the debate, and that he had decided to change course as he came to understand that his comments had been personally offensive to two of his rivals, the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is black, and Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

"When people get in my face, I tend to get in theirs," Dr. Dean said in the interview at The Times. "Al Sharpton was in my face last night and I was not going to step one step, half a step, backwards, and I don't care who's in my face.

"I tend to be reflective rather later than sooner," he added. "Now, unfortunately, we all know that nobody's personality is perfect. So the things that make me a strong candidate are also my Achille's heel."

He said in several interviews that Mr. Edwards' suggestion at the debate that he was being patronizing to the South had played a "significant role" in his decision that he had to speak out further and clarify his views. "I came to the conclusion that he actually had been really wounded, that he felt the patronizing personally," he said at The New York Times....

"What concerned me was his staff up in Vermont reacted by saying, `Well, he said this before, these guys took him out of context,' " said Mr. Schmoke, the former mayor of Baltimore. "That was the wrong response. The right response was what he finally ended up with today — wait a minute folks, my heart is in the right place but I chose the wrong words."

This is one of the problems with the "Dean Movement." Any criticism is quickly dismissed and chalked up to unfair opponents. The spin many Deaniacs were giving the matter would have been comical if not so pathetic. Groupthink appears rampant among many in the movement and simply serves to enable Dean's greatest weaknesses. Take the average person with Dean's upbringing, send him to Med School and then make him a Governor for over a decade, perhaps particularly in a small state, and that person is likely to be off the hubris scale. Dean could use a daily dose of reality from someone he will listen to.

He would do well to put this quote on his blog:

"You can blame the media or blame my opponents, but the fact is, I've got to own my own words," Dr. Dean explained yesterday evening in Manchester. "And that's what I decided at about 3 o'clock this morning."own words," Dr. Dean explained yesterday evening in Manchester. "And that's what I decided at about 3 o'clock this morning."

Take a deep breath...

and try to hold it until January 20, 2005.

Lawyers at E.P.A. Say It Will Drop Pollution Cases

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — A change in enforcement policy will lead the Environmental Protection Agency to drop investigations into 50 power plants for past violations of the Clean Air Act, lawyers at the agency who were briefed on the decision this week said.

The lawyers said in interviews on Wednesday that the decision meant the cases would be judged under new, less stringent rules set to take effect next month, rather than the stricter rules in effect at the time the investigations began.

The lawyers said the new rules include exemptions that would make it almost impossible to sustain the investigations into the plants, which are scattered around the country and owned by 10 utilities.

The lawyers said the change grew out of a recommendation by Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, which urged the government two years ago to study industry complaints about its enforcement actions. The Bush administration has said its goal is to ensure cost-effective improvements to air quality.

Congressional critics, environmental groups and officials in some Northeast states described the change as a major victory for the utility industry and a defeat for environmentalists, who had viewed the cases as the best way to require the companies to install billions of dollars of new pollution controls.

Representatives of the utility industry have been among President Bush's biggest campaign donors, and a change in the enforcement policies has been a top priority of the industry's lobbyists.

In a statement, the E.P.A. said that it had not made a formal decision to drop all the investigations and that it would review each "on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it will be pursued or set aside."

I wonder if that case-by-case review will involve a comparison to donor records.

NH Clark team takes shape

Clark names leadership team

CONCORD, Nov. 5 -- Wesley Clark named his New Hampshire leadership team today, a group made up largely of former state officials and former members of the draft movement that encouraged him to enter the race in the first place.

Among the 19 names listed either as New Hampshire campaign co-chairman or or steering committee members are three members of the PoliticsNH.com list of 105 most important Democratic endorsements to receive this election cycle. Now only 27 people remain uncommitted and many of them have pledged to remain so for various reasons.

One of the most surprising of those coming forward to back Wesley Clark was Mark Fernald, the former state senator from Sharon and the state's 2002 Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

Throughout the year most of the nine Democrats running for office sought out Fernald's endorsement because he was seen as a significant gateway to campaigning the Southwestern part of the state.

In an interview, Fernald said he made up his mind Monday after watching Clark speak at a town hall meeting at Keene State College.

"I have seen most of the candidates in the same setting and I came away the most impressed by Clark," said Fernald.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Debate Quick Hits

Smart college students ask better questions than journalists.

Clark got his turtle neck at The Gap—Kucinich got his at Gap Kids

Dean rivals Dubya for smug, “I’m always right!” arrogance.

Edwards was genuinely pissed at Dean, but hopes to benefit from the squabble in the South.

Kerry got hometown softballs, and still answered his own questions.

Sharpton and Kerry went out for a beer afterwards with Kerry’s wife (she had a martini).

The “party questioner” gave Lieberman the slip and hooked up with Anderson Cooper at the Bull & Finch Pub where they talked about how "gross" Joe is.

Eight is better than nine.

Paula Zahn is a certified idiot.

Joe Klein should have signed his name to the novel, but give his political commentary anonymously.

Judy Woodruff was locked in the Green Room where she was comforted by Al Hunt who told her it was "for her own good."

Monday, November 03, 2003

Rock this

Wesley Clark has an ad that should run on the Daily Show and MTV. Sure, the Repugs have Dennis Miller, but I prefer leaders with a dry wit to those with a caustic one.

Clark reaches out to the Millenial Generation.

UPDATE: From NC Progressive, you can vote for Clark's video, if you haven't already, by clicking here.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Does that thing have a Hemi?

Dean courts Bubba:

I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.

Some folks are having a field day with this quote. Granted, it was a stupid thing to say, in my opinion. However, I don’t think Dean was saying he was courting the racist, KKK sympathizer vote. Rather, it illustrates Dean’s uphill battle with being competitive in, much less winning, a single Southern state. The South is foreign soil to Dean. In fact, Dean understands Canadians better than he understands the South. He also thinks more highly of Canada than he does the southern United States. Okay, some of you reading this might say, “Well, hell, so do I.” One is certainly free to have that view, I suppose, but it is hard to win folks “Hearts and Minds” if you have a patronizing view of them. (e.g. Gen. Boykin in Iraq.) Especially if you choose to articulate it. In short, Dean’s view of the South is so stereotypical I suspect he thinks one can’t take a walk in the woods without being told to, “Sqeal like a pig, boy!”

Dean said something similar months ago, actually. I thought it sounded stupid then, too, but at least it came with a bit more context.

White folks in the South who drive pick-up trucks with Confederate flag decals on the back ought to be voting with us because their kids don't have health insurance either, and their kids need better schools too.
Howard Dean, DNC Winter meeting, February 21, 2003

There are several assumptions in Dean’s repeated comment. One is that white folks in pickups are poor. The pickup is common mode of transportation in the South, and a good pickup ain’t cheap. For some, one’s pick up is a sign of status. Some white folks drive pickups they have no intention of getting dirty by hauling anything messy. And heaven forbid they do anything that scratches the truck’s bed.

Another apparent assumption, unless he truly only wants the white folks who embrace the Confederate flag, is that the people who lack health insurance and send their kids to poor schools are so attached to the Confederate flag that they don’t leave home without it.

If his argument is one of economic opportunity, then what is the point of the repeated references to the Confederate flag and the pickup as an identifying characteristic? Why not just make the case that it was the party of FDR that brought such things as the Tennessee Valley Authority to the South and that government has always had a role advancing the economic interests of a region. Why not simply draw the connection between policy positions and their impact on the people in the region? Why resort to stereotypical characterizations of people? How does Dean intend to characterize typically Republican voters in other regions?

Dean tells the world how he intends to win over the “white folks” in the South in a way that implicitly states they’ve been stupid enough to not recognize they have been voting against their interest. There may be truth in that, just as there may be truth in the view that the Republican’s have become masters of deception in getting significant numbers of Americans everywhere to believe Republican policies serve middle-class and working-class interests. However, to convince someone they have been duped in a manner that makes them change their position instead of feeling insulted and becoming even more deeply entrenched requires a certain deftness and subtlety which Dean seems to consistently lack. A message that resonates with the angry is typically rejected by the unconvinced. He’s already won a good portion of the angry. That was the easy part.