Saturday, March 27, 2004

Over the next few days...

I'll be out of town and unable to blog. Count on the inept and desperate Repugs to keep Clarke relevant, in the news, and fighting back. Sit back and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

It is time for Moveon to play hardball

Don't get me wrong-- I appreciate the efforts of, but I simply don't think most of their ads have a tremendous visceral impact on most swing voters. The latest they want to run uses Richard Clarke's quotes. Not bad, I guess, but I don't think they will grab most folks. They need to step it up a notch. Maybe something like this:

Narrator: 3,000 Americans dead. Could it have been prevented? What could we have done differently? That's the question the 9/11 Commission is trying to answer. Its not about blame. Its about answers-- truthful answers. President Clinton has agreed to testify before the entire commission-- no time limits. President Bush refuses to testify under oath. Dick Cheney refuses to testify under oath. Condi Rice questions other people's credibility, but even she refuses to testfiy under oath. What are they hiding? Why won't they swear to tell the truth-- the whole truth? Call the White House. Tell them it is time to fully cooperate with the Commission so Americans can finally know the truth.

Condi takes her eye off of the ball again

The person whose foremost responsibility is to keep us safe is in full-time political shill mode for the Shrub. Can there be any time left for her supposed "day job" that we are paying her for? Now she's complaining that when she took him to lunch to thank him, he didn't grab her by the collar and bitch-slap her. Shut up and testify, Condi.

Rice Accuses Clarke of Conflicting Stories

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A fuming U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice accused former counter-terrorism aide Richard Clarke on Wednesday of shifting positions from backing President Bush's war on terrorism to now questioning it.

Clarke has accused Bush of a fixation on Iraq, but Rice said Clarke did not raise those concerns with her. She said after his resignation 13 months ago, she invited him to lunch three weeks before the start of the U.S.-led war against Iraq to thank him for his years of service.

Clarke had "not a word about concerns that Iraq was going to somehow take us off the path of the war on terrorism. It would've been easy to do, kick the others out, close the door, say 'I just want you to know I think you're making a mistake.' He didn't do it," she told reporters in her West Wing office.

Rice, in normal circumstances an even-keeled top White House aide, was unusually incensed during a half-hour briefing for reporters in her West Wing office, as she castigated her former employee. She also went on television to make her case.

Her comments reflected ongoing White House frustration with Clarke, who has threatened the underpinning of Bush's re-election strategy as an activist in the war on terrorism.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Shameless bastards

Tax Gap Attack

President Bush's campaign rolled out a curious new line of attack on Sen. John F. Kerry this week, highlighting a $1 trillion "tax gap" -- that is, the cost of his proposals and the money available to pay for them -- in the Massachusetts senator's economic platform.

"John Kerry's tax gap of $1 trillion would result in higher taxes on every American and is the wrong prescription for our economy," Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said this week. "Kerry's new government spending will put a burden on every American family."

In a nutshell, the Bush campaign says that Kerry so far has proposed about $1.7 trillion in new spending over the next 10 years while proposing to increase taxes by about $650 million by rescinding the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

Why is the attack curious? Because the Bush campaign accuses Kerry of doing nearly the same thing Bush did in 2000. In his campaign for president, the Texas governor went from campaign stop to campaign stop proposing hundreds of billions of dollars for new environmental, social and educational programs without ever outlining one major cut in any federal program.

Bush did all of this while proposing a $1.35 trillion tax-cut plan.

The reporters following the Bush campaign (I was one of them) pushed the candidate to explain how he planned to balance the books with huge tax cuts, massive infusions of new spending for education and social programs and no significant cuts in existing programs. The candidate's answer was always the same: The expanding economy and a predicted $4.6 trillion budget surplus would more than pay for tax cuts and spending increases. Even when it became clear in mid-2000 -- the heat of the campaign season -- that the economy was slowing down, the Bush campaign stuck by its story.

It was a smart political strategy, one that played off of a contemporary phenomenon -- the irrational exuberance of the era -- and a traditional one -- the certainty that voters will reward politicians who promise them it's possible to have everything.

Bush endeared himself to conservatives in 2000 by promising historic tax cuts. And, unlike his Newt Gingrich-era predecessors, he didn't alienate liberals and moderates with constant talk about slashing popular government programs.

As the rosy economic predictions that underscored the Bush campaign's economic platform evaporated in 2001, the president proposed even greater tax cuts while overseeing what the libertarian Cato Institute calculates to be the largest annual increases in discretionary spending since the Great Society programs of the Johnson administration in the late 1960s.

The result: a tax gap of more than $5 trillion in spending over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

"While George W. Bush has claimed to support deficit reduction, his policies and plans have led us from a $5.6 trillion surplus to an expected $5.2 trillion deficit -- a $10 trillion difference," the Kerry campaign responded on Monday. "Since George Bush has said he cares about the deficit, we can only assume that there is a $10 trillion tax gap that he will charge the American people."

In other words, the Bush tax gap is bigger than our tax gap.

I've concluded that these guys are so dishonest to their core that they can't even see their own hypocrisy. The sheer volume of dishonest crap that they throw at you-- depending on the ignorance of the average American voter to not be able to see through it on his or her own-- makes it almost impossible to effectively rebut it all in 30 second ads.

Well I certainly hope so

Bush said he would've acted quicker if he knew attack was imminent

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush said Tuesday he would have acted more quickly against al-Qaeda if he had information before Sept. 11, 2001, that a terror attack against New York City was imminent.

"We have been chasing down al-Qaeda, ever since those attacks," Bush said.

In his first direct response to criticism raised in a new book by his former counterterrorism adviser, Bush denied that he ignored Osama bin Laden and the threat of the al-Qaeda terror network before the attacks while focusing on Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

"The facts are these, George Tenet briefed me on a regular basis about the terrorist threat to the United States of America, and had my administration had any information that terrorists were going to attack New York City on Sept. 11, we would have acted," Bush said.

In the same interview, Bush said that had he known the Mets would win the World Series in 1969, he would have bet his entire cocaine allowance on the "bastards."

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

How Kerry should respond to Bush's latest attack ad in WV

Something along these lines:


George W. Bush is misleading us again. The Bush administration told us that Iraq would finance its own reconstruction from seized assets and oil production.

(show articles and headlines and pictures of a scowling Cheney and Smirking Bush)

That wasn't true. In a misleading attack ad, George Bush now claims the 87 billion dollars he asked for last fall was for our troops. What does he not tell you?

$20 billion was actually intended for reconstruction and for training Iraqi security forces. But there was also $82 million to protect Iraq’s 36 miles of coast line; new prisons at a cost of $50,000 per bed; a witness protection program at a cost of $1 million per family; $2 million for museums and memorials, and a whopping $9 million for a state-of-the-art postal service.

And who has made out like bandits-- literally? Companies with close ties to President Bush, like Halliburtion, a company that still pays Dick Cheney, have gotten contracts without bids. And according to Pentagon audits, have grossly overcharged the American taxpayer.

John Kerry thinks its time this administration is held accountable. Our troops need a real plan that provides true international support. And we deserve a President that tells us the truth.

Friday, March 12, 2004

What's tens of millions between such close friends?

Ah, the benefits of friends and former CEO's still on the payroll in high places.

(CBS/AP) Pentagon auditors found a Halliburton Co. subsidiary gave faulty cost estimates on a $2.7 billion contract to serve American troops in Iraq and Kuwait, and company officials acknowledged making mistakes, Defense Department documents show.

The estimate problems included a failure to tell contract managers that Halliburton had terminated two subcontracts for feeding troops, which affected costs on $1 billion worth of that work, the Defense Contract Audit Agency found. Halliburton also did not tell contract managers it had already awarded subcontracts worth $141.5 million for work it said would cost $208.8 million, the auditors found.

Hey, The Donald...

You're fired.

Trump may be television's most effective boss, but there's some question if his ranking on Wall Street is more akin to a series deserving of the ax after its first season. Trump, the TV star, has achieved eye-popping ratings. But Trump, the CEO, appears to have rating problems where they matter most — with the stock market and corporate debt-rating services. Trump Hotels & Casino's stock sells for little more than the cost of a ride on the New York City subway. Standard & Poor's and Moody's both recently cut their rating on Trump Hotels & Casino's debt. S&P called it "vulnerable," and Moody's called it "high risk.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

When crime is noble

Well, we know Republicans aren't Robin Hood fans with him engaging in class warfare by robbing the rich to give to the poor. In fact, in Republican folk lore he would be the bad guy. Once upon a time, Fox News show host, and former convicted felon, Oliver North proudly stood before Congress and explained how his crimes were heroic. Now we see the little bastards who pilfered Dem memos making similar claims. When is crime noble? Apparently when it advances a Republican president's agenda.

Pickle last week released a report detailing how two Republican staffers, who have both since left their jobs, exploited computer security weaknesses to access more than 4,600 documents. Republicans and Democrats alike have condemned the staffers' actions as improper, but they say prosecutors must decide whether actual crimes were committed....

Lawyers representing one of the former aides who took the documents, Manuel Miranda, released two lengthy documents criticizing Pickle's report. They said Miranda was a whistle-blower, not a thief, taking advantage of a computer security glitch to fulfill his duty to further the president's agenda on the judiciary.

Do Republicans see Dubya as a drag on their ticket?

Senate? Senate anyone? Apparently big name Repugs in Colorado don't think winning a Senate seat is a sure thing in 2004. Beauprez says it is "not the right time." How many chances does one get? Just two years ago, a loser named Wayne Allard won re-election in Colorado. Should be even easier in an historically red state with a Republican incumbent President leading the ticket, shouldn't it? Think back to November 2002 when all the silly pundits were tripping over themselves saying how Dubya had transformed the political landscape, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, that's what I'm counting on, too.

Second Top Colorado Republican Says No to Senate

DENVER (Reuters) - Rep. Bob Beauprez said on Thursday he would not run for the U.S. Senate seat from Colorado being vacated by fellow Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell, leaving his party still without a strong candidate to defend a crucial seat.

Republicans hold just a one-seat majority in the 100-member Senate, and Colorado party officials began scrambling for a successor to Campbell after Republican state Gov. Bill Owens -- their first choice -- dropped out of contention on Tuesday.

Owens even mentioned Beauprez twice when he said he would not run for family reasons.

In a conference call with reporters, Beauprez said this was not the time to run for the Senate and he hoped instead to be re-elected to his House seat for a second term.

"At some point in the future I may feel compelled to run for the U.S. Senate, but this is not the right time for me," Beauprez said from Washington.

Republicans need to find a big-name candidate soon. On Wednesday, Attorney General Ken Salazar, Colorado's highest- ranking Democrat, announced he would run.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Veep Choices

There is much speculation these days about who Kerry’s VP choice will be. There is even speculation about who Dubya will have on his ticket. This post isn’t about prognostication. Instead, it is about the relative merits of possible Kerry choices.

Gephardt- Conventional wisdom suggests that Geppy will shore up labor support and play well in the entire Midwest. The reality is that Gep didn’t command labor support as a Presidential candidate and placed a pathetic fourth in Iowa after practically living there. Okay, but Gep secures the battleground state of Missouri, right? Who knows? He has never won a statewide race and may not be popular outside of his district. The truth is Gephardt is a good man who would be a miserable failure as a VP candidate. He is deadly dull, and provide no meaningful help anywhere, outside of the possibility of Missouri. Plus, it would piss off all the Deaniacs. Even without that consideration, however, from an electoral standpoint he brings little to the table. Most pundits though he would emerge as the anti-Dean, which shows how incredibly out of touch some of these folks are.

Edwards- The conventional wisdom criticism of Edwards is that he can’t even guarantee NC. That may be true, but I think misses his real attraction. Voters find the guy likeable. He creates positive buzz and energy and God knows, someone in the Kerry campaign has to be able to consistently enthuse people. Edwards may be the strongest choice. I think he would be well received in the rust belt and would help place some key Southern states in play. No, I don’t see him bringing Alabama and Mississippi into the Dem fold, but he could be a difference maker in LA, AR, FL, NC, TN, and WV. Ultimately, synergy is more important that geography and I think these two fit better that Kerry may realize. Kerry may not like the guy, but Kennedy does and might argue for him.

Graham- Good guy, lousy candidate. May not really help in FL and certainly won’t help anywhere else. Sure, he has great credentials, but people have to care about what you’re saying before they check your vita. And the excessive notetaking is just damn weird.

Richardson- Another blogosphere favorite that is way, way off. The guy is dull and uninteresting. Even worse, he probably has more baggage than any other top name being kicked around. The sloppy security around Los Alamos will only serve to enhance the Repug attacks on Kerry’s security credentials. Do you doubt it? Remember how much anti-war bloggers were loving Robert Byrd last year? Here is what he said to Richards in 2000:

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: I have to say, I am not calling for your resignation at this moment, but you have shown a supreme, a supreme contempt of the committees of this Congress. When you decided that you would go-- if the newspaper stories are correct-- when you decided that you would go before the Intelligence Committee when you were ready... you weren't ready yet…that was a supreme act of callous arrogance, and I resent it. I think it's a rather sad story that you had a bright and brilliant career that you had never, that you would never again receive the support of the Senate of the United States for any office to which you might be appointed. It's beyond... you have squandered your treasure, and I am sorry.

I was stunned when I watched Byrd eviscerate a cabinet member on the floor of the Senate like he did. And he’s a Democrat. Fuggetaboutit.

Conventional wisdom says Richards will energize Latinos in the Southwest. Don’t count on it. Tony Sanchez didn’t sufficiently mobilize Latinos in Texas and Cruz Bustamante didn’t mobilize Latinos in California. It’s a pipe dream. Let it go.

Cleland- I respect his sacrifice. I respect his service. I deeply resent how he was treated in 2002. That said, if he hadn’t been treated so shabbily, would this one-term Senator be on many lists? No superstar during his short Senate career, not a particularly strong campaigner or speaker. Not a good candidate for Vice President. Maybe Veteran’s Affairs.

Clark- Conventional wisdom is that Clark may have lessened his VP stature with his run for the Presidency. Well, the mystique is certainly gone, but he grew as a candidate, is quite capable of ripping Bushco a new one, and has a support base that while relatively small, is quite broad. Clark can be great on the stump or in an interview, and would be much better in a one-on-one debate than he was in the 9-10 member events referred to as debates in the fall. He can also be rather flat on the stump which, honestly, makes him no worse a campaigner than most politicians. He’s better than Graham, Gephardt, Richardson or Cleland, IMHO, He also shores up Kerry’s security credentials which seem to be the target of choice for Bushco. He may help in the South and Southwest, and certainly wouldn’t hurt. His biggest drawback is a tendency to say the wrong thing from time to time and then have to explain himself too much. As he adapts more to politics this should improve. He probably best serves Kerry as the Secretary of State or National Security Advisor, however.

McCain- Yeah, I know. Rumored as early as last summer, McCain didn’t really slam the door last Sunday. He said he couldn’t see not being a Republican. A Dem/Rep ticket could really allow Kerry to sell himself to independents as a true uniter. The problem is it would not play terribly well with the base who would fear an Anti-Choice candidate, albeit an unenthusiastic one, being next in line and McCain’s support for the Iraq war would also be problematic. Also, even though I can see McCain pulling the lever for Kerry before Bush, whom I still believe he despises, I’m still not sure McCain has given up on running for President in 2008 and would not want to damage himself with Republicans or assure a Dem victory. Don’t see it happening, but maybe…

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Should Bush be reminding us of 9/11?

Republicans are fond of saying how Bush has "kept us safe" since 9/11 and that we should be thankful Gore was not President. Many Americans seem to have fallen for this, perhaps because they have a vested interest in believing it whether it is true or not. These same Republicans like to indicate that 9/11 happened due to some failing of the Clinton administration. It is time we put this in the proper perspective for folks.

Less than 5 weeks into his Presidential term, Bill Clinton presided over the most significant foreign terrorist attack in the USA up to that time. On February 26, 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed by Islamic fundamentalists. What followed? Arrests, convictions and 7 years and 11 months of relative safety on our shores. Millenial threats were thwarted and America went about its business. Yes, there were Al Qaeda attacks elsewhere in the world, but not here. Does Clinton get credit for this? Does that fact that our feeling safe from foreign terrorists came to a screeching halt less than 8 months into Bush II's administration raise questions of a collossal failure on his behalf? Why aren't these views at least equally common? Because the Repugs have framed the discussion, up until now. It is time to reframe it.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Republican philosophy stripped bare

The Republican party can no longer credibly cling to the fiscal conservative label-- Dubya's rapid dismissal of "what should we do with the surplus?" argument has proven that Reagan and Bush I's astronomical deficits were not merely anomalies or the result of a Democratic Congress. Any thinking Libertarian no longer can feel at home in Bushco's party, and any other genuine anti-Big Government type must have considered slitting his wrists by now. What's left to the conventional Republican mythology? Apparently not that "law and order" thing.

GOP Aides Blamed for Leaking Documents
Report: Thousands of Files Were Accessed

The report released yesterday by Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William H. Pickle noted that two former Senate GOP staff members -- including the Republicans' top aide on judicial nomination strategy -- were primarily responsible for accessing and leaking computer memos on Democratic plans for blocking some of President Bush's judicial nominations.

Pickle made no recommendations about whether to pursue criminal prosecutions in the case, but he cited several federal laws that might be considered, including statutes involving false statements and receipt of stolen property.

Pickle and his investigators said forensics analyses indicated that 4,670 files had been downloaded between November 2001 and spring 2003 by one of the aides -- "the majority of which appeared to be from folders belonging to Democratic staff" on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said at least 100 of his computer files were also accessed by the GOP aides.

The report identified the two former staffers as Jason Lundell, a nominations clerk who originally accessed the files, and Manuel Miranda, a more senior staff member and later the top aide to Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) on judicial nominations. Miranda, the report said, advised Lundell and was said by other aides to have been implicated in leaking the documents to friendly journalists or other parties outside the Senate. Miranda had previously denied leaking the materials....

Some Republicans on the committee -- and many conservative groups on the outside -- said the Senate should have probed the contents of the memos, which they contended demonstrated the collusion between Democrats and liberal advocacy groups, rather than how the memos ended up in Republican hands.

Okay, what are we left with? Pro-death penalty, anti-gay, pro-unnecessary war, disrespectful of veterans, ruining the environment, saddling the next generation with debt to pay off wealthy contributors and frat brothers, and a policy making process that is shrouded in secrecy. If the Terry McAuliffe can't beat that collection of positions, I'd like a shot.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

George Bush in 60 minutes

As of yet, there is no indication that the White House has changed it's position on this one:

Bush to Limit Testimony Before 9/11 Panel

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 — President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have placed strict limits on the private interviews they will grant to the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that they will meet only with the panel's top two officials and that Mr. Bush will submit to only a single hour of questioning, commission members said Wednesday.

The commission, which has 10 members and is bipartisan, said in a statement that it had also been informed by the White House that Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, had rejected its request that she testify in public about the intelligence reports that reached her desk before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Fine. This will make one helluva commercial:

Narrator: "George W. Bush says he's committed to fighting the war on terror. He says he's the kind of leader who will do what it takes to protect us. As long as it isn't incovenient. President Bush actually refused to testify before the independent commission investigating the the tragedy of 9/11. He simply refused. Bill Clinton did. Al Gore did. Bush wouldn't. Cheney wouldn't. Condolezza Rice wouldn't. Bush said he would try to meet with only two of the members of the commission for an hour. Just an hour. He excercises more each day than that. He takes month-long vacations. He attends more fundraisers than any President in history. But when it comes to looking into what it will take to prevent another 9/11 tragedy, President Bush simply could not make time. What do you think of that?"

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Where are we now?

It is all over but the shouting...and there has even been a little shouting in some quarters (not mine). Barring something really wierd, Kerry is the nominee. Edwards is reportedly dropping out tomorrow. How to stay in the news? I would like to see Edwards and Clark join Kerry on the campaign trail for the upcoming primaries (and send Gore overseas) and have big-ass rallies the media has to pay attention to. Clark can slam on Bush for foreign policy idiocy, Edwards for domestic policy callousness and Kerry can stay a bit more "positive." Lots of veterans. Add a little star power to increase media interest. Have Dean crank up his netroots followers and focus on winnable congressional seats, and I mean think liberally about what seats are winnable. Bushco could utterly collapse in the coming months and the Dems need to be ready to shock the punditry world. I'm not even ready to concede the redistricted Texas seats. Not saying it will happen, but I see possibilities.

Have the Big Dog under the radar raising money with base and, perhaps, with business folks who prospered under Clinton and were receptive to his economic message, but may have wandered into the Repug fold in 2000. We need to chip away at Dubya's vulnerabilities.