Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Surge

The Washington Post reports that the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously oppose the idea of "surging" 15-30 thousand troops into Iraq in a last ditch effort to stabilize the country. Why? Because they think the White House is just casting around for plausible-sounding ideas and has no real plan for how to use the additional soldiers:

The Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military.

....The Pentagon has cautioned that a modest surge could lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda, provide more targets for Sunni insurgents and fuel the jihadist appeal for more foreign fighters to flock to Iraq to attack U.S. troops, the officials said.

....Even the announcement of a time frame and mission -- such as for six months to try to secure volatile Baghdad -- could play to armed factions by allowing them to game out the new U.S. strategy, the chiefs have warned the White House.

If the Chiefs stand their ground, it will be very difficult for Bush to buck them. But if he gives up on the surge, what possible alternative can he offer that even remotely seems like a serious change of direction? Rock, meet hard place.

(I stole the entire post from Kevin Drum)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

An understatement

In what might be the understatement of the new century, Jon Cohen writing in this morning's WaPo observes,
Negative assessments of the war in Iraq... Continue to hold down President Bush's job approval ratings and could cast a pall on the final two years of his presidency.

Ya think?

The new WaPo poll, of which Jon writes, is consistent with other recent polls. 70% of Americans disapprove of the way the president is handling the war and 60% (the highest ever) do not believe the war is worth fighting.

Bush's approval rating in the poll is 36%, which is only the second lowest it has ever been in the ABC/WaPo poll. That surprises me.

What I'm wondering is just how low his approval rating will actually go? I think Nixon's lowest was between 25 to 23%. It's hard to imagine any president going below that figure, but Bush might do it, for all the reasons I set out below.

What do you think? How low will he go?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Historic Times

As students of politics the next two years are going to be fascinating. Bush is never good under pressure and in the wake of the ISG Report Bush is completely floundering, and he has nothing to buoy him anymore. Bush never really stands on his own so much as he attacks others instead, but that dog won’t hunt anymore.

The Congressional Republicans are literally rats fleeing the sinking ship. And although this started before the election, it is now like a tidal wave with the ISG Report for cover. Bush’s people will come out with their self-serving reports that will meet with bipartisan scorn and only make the situation worse for Bush with him desperately clinging to that nonsense while Baghdad burns.

He and Cheney are completely alone now. We are going to see approval polls in Nixon territory probably by Feb. We are looking at historic lows and how will the DC world react?

I look for the White House to be surrounded by sandbags and barbed wire by spring with Bush and Cheney holed up inside like Howard Hughes.

When have we ever seen anything like this?

It’s like the proverbial car crash. I know I shouldn’t stare, but I can’t look away.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Vilsack's in

Vilsack Announces 2008 White House Bid

I believe Edwards will be the nominee but Tom Vilsack is his best competition and someone to keep an eye on.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Where should the new congress begin?

Kevin calls our attention to a couple recent suggestions on topics for Congress to investigate.

First, is Ron Suskind, writhing in the Washington Post, who thinks Congress should investigate,
  • GOP energy policy,
  • Lying to Congress about domestic issues like global warming and Medicare,
  • Lying to the public about Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman,
  • Nonterrorists who have been subjects of warrantless wiretaps, and
  • Continued incompetence in the intelligence community.
In response to Suskind, Mark Kleiman (who I don't link to enough) says, No, no, no, no, NO!

Mark thinks the investigative agenda should be thus:
  • Corruption and patronage in the CPA.
  • Corruption and crony capitalism in contracting in Iraq, especially for support of the troops but also for reconstruction.
  • Corruption and earmarking in the award of defense contracts.
  • Corruption and earmarking in the award of intelligence contracts.
  • Corruption and patronage in DHS and its White House predecessor office under Tom Ridge.
While I tend to be more in the Kleiman camp, Suskind has some very good ideas, such as investigation of Bush's energy policy and abuses of the Patriot Act, are a must on any list.

And good luck on the defense contracts earmarking. The GOP hardly invented that game, they just played harder.

Mark's wrong, by the way, when he says we could have succeeded in Iraq but for Bush admin corruption. The mission in Iraq was doomed to failure and unwinable from the very beginning. You cannot force a people to stay together in a Democracy who do not want to stay together in a Democracy.

But Mark's correct when he reminds us that just like in Vietnam, the GOP naritive for Iraq will be 'we could have won if the weak Dems had to guts to win' is spot on and thus, the goal of Dems must be:
For all their tough talk, the Republicans are too incompetent and too crooked to entrust with the national security.

An excellent point by Kevin.

It can get much worse in Iraq, and likely will.

Yes, Things Can Get Worse,
...Conventional wisdom tacitly assumes that the worst that can happen in Iraq is a continuation of the current low-level civil war, resulting in the loss of thousands of Iraqi lives and dozens of U.S. soldiers each month. But as bad as that is, it's worth keeping in mind that the American occupation has actually made the Iraqi situation worse every single year since it began, and will probably continue to make things worse as long as we're there. And the worse the violence, the worse the Iraqi theocracy that eventually takes root in its wake is likely to be.

But that's not all. The dynamics of violence are nonlinear in the extreme, and the odds of an Archduke Ferdinand moment continue to rise inexorably as our occupation continues to make things ever worse and ever more unstable. A year from now, we could end up in the middle of a full-blown civil war costing a thousand American lives a month. We could end up taking sides in a shooting war against Turkey, a NATO ally. We could end up fighting off an armed invasion from Iran. We could end up on the receiving of an oil embargo led by Saudi Arabia. Who knows?

All of these developments may be individually unlikely, but you're not trying hard enough if you can't dream up plausible scenarios leading to each one of them. Pundits and policymakers alike should keep this in mind when they're mentally totting up the costs and benefits of staying in Iraq and concluding that we might as well try a Last Big Push because, heck, it can't do any harm to try. In fact, it can. The longer we stay in Iraq, the worse things are likely to get.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bush wants his own policy review

This should be interesting.

Not surprisingly, the WH fears the direction of the Baker-Hamilton bipartisan ISG so they are going to have their own study.....to be completed at the same time as the other--for convenience sake, I'm sure.

My guess is that Cheney is preparing the report as we speak....or type.

From this morning's WaPo,

President Bush formally launched a sweeping internal review of Iraq policy yesterday, pulling together studies underway by various government agencies, according to U.S. officials.

The initiative, begun after Bush met at the White House with his foreign policy team, parallels the effort by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to salvage U.S. policy in Iraq, develop an exit strategy and protect long-term U.S. interests in the region. The two reviews are not competitive, administration officials said, although the White House wants to complete the process before mid-December, about the time the Iraq Study Group's final report is expected.

The White House review could give the administration alternatives so that it feels less pressure to fully implement the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group report, foreign policy experts said.

Is the admin finally so completely discredited that this obvious fraud will be seen for what it is by the here-to-for admin apologists in the MSM?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I wish I had written that

I've long wanted to collect my thoughts on Iraq into a post the explains why our efforts in Iraq are futile such that we need to leave. I've started this post in my head a dozen or more times but of course, I've not written a word of it.

Matthew Yglesias has now done a good job so I will quote him at length (just pretend I wrote this),

...It just doesn't stike me as credible at all to think that the imposition of a stable American-backed government in Baghdad with effective control over Iraqi territory is a matter of national survival for the United States of America. Indeed, I think that's a crazy thing to believe.

By contrast, most of Iraq's Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shiites seem to feel that the maintainance of ethnosectarianly specific military forces is a genuinely crucial matter of near-existential importance to their respective communities. This is a totally non-crazy thing for people to believe. Kurds and Shiites both have, in the very recent past, been subjected to incredibly brutal repression by a Sunni-dominated central government. They, not unreasonably, fear the return of such repression. Sunni Arabs, meanwhile, have an also-not-unreasonable fear that Kurds and Shiites will, in their desire to avoid a return to repression, engage in similar repression.

What's more, unlike the American military, the vast majority of Iraqis can't leave Iraq. Under the circumstances, any effort by the US government to demonstrate "resolve" to outlast the various militias and insurgent groups isn't going to be viewed credibly by anyone. Stuntz analogizes his proposal to poker, and it's not a terrible analogy, it just cuts the wrong way -- doing what he proposes would be like trying to bluff someone who's already gone all in. It's essentially impossible for countries -- even very rich, very technologically advanced and militarily adept countries -- to perpetually occupy foreign territory in the face of determined opposition for precisely this reason. The occupier can leave, and the occupied cannot.

What could break the dynamic in Iraq would be an intra-communal settlement. In principle, major Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish groups could reach a mutually acceptable agreement about how to organize the country at which point the violence would sharply diminish. Such an agreement would render US forces unnecessary. Meanwhile, absent such an agreement, US forces -- though perhaps keeping a lid on the killing -- are failing to actually solve anything and are doing so at enormous expense.

Meanwhile, back in Iraq

The conversion of Iraq from a secular Muslim state to an Islamic Fundalmentalist state marches on as we 'stay the course'.

Gunmen kidnap up to 150 in Baghdad,
Gunmen dressed as police commandos kidnapped up to 150 staff and visitors in a lightning raid on an education ministry office Tuesday, the largest mass abduction since the start of the U.S. occupation. Five senior police officers — including the neighborhood police chief — were later arrested, the government said.

At least 82 people were killed or found dead in murders, bombings and clashes nationwide.

Iraq's higher education minister ordered all universities closed until security improvements are made, saying he was "not ready to see more professors get killed." Hours after the abductions, the Interior Ministry said three of the victims were found unharmed, but the fate of the others remained unknown.

"I have only one choice which is to suspend classes at universities. We have no other choice," the higher education minister, Abed Theyab, told parliament. Theyab said he had repeatedly petitioned for more university security from the government, but had received none.

The abductions come amid a series of attacks on Iraqi academics that has prompted thousands of professors and researchers to flee to neighboring countries.

Recent weeks have seen a university dean and prominent Sunni geologist murdered, bringing the death toll among educators to at least 155 since the war began. The academics apparently were singled out for their relatively high public stature, vulnerability and known views on controversial issues in a climate of deepening Islamic fundamentalism.


While I admired Murtha's outspoken opposition to our involvement in the Iraqi civil war, I am not comfortable with him as majority leader. He's just too dirty.

I don't like his love of earmarks or his involvement in Abscam, but could probably get past both those objections. No one in congress is 'earmark free'.

But if this is true, Murtha's got to go,

In an excellent but little-noticed piece last month, the New York Times brought us up to speed:

In the last year, Democratic and Republican floor watchers say, Mr. Murtha has helped Republicans round up enough Democratic votes to narrowly block a host of Democratic proposals: to investigate federal contracting fraud in Iraq, to reform lobbying laws, to increase financing for flood control, to add $150 million for veterans' health care and job training, and to exempt middle-class families from the alternative minimum tax.

As Murtha put it, "deal making is what Congress is all about." Yessir -- blocking fraud investigations, stonewalling lobbying reform. That's what Congress is all about, isn't it?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Handover to Iraqi Army 'set?

End of 2007 according to the Times of London.

conveniently before the next election.

Only hours after Donald Rumsfeld was replaced as US Defence Secretary, American, British and Iraqi officials spoke openly about accelerating the handover process.

Baghdad made clear that it would use the Democrat victory in congressional midterm elections to push President Bush for concessions. Confidants of Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, said that they hoped defeat would make Mr Bush more open to ideas that he had previously rejected.

All sides said that Mr Rumsfeld’s departure provided an opportunity to set a clearer timetable for withdrawing all foreign forces.

Maliki wants us out, but we don't want to go,...

Allen finally concedes

Democrats take Senate

Deja vu in FLA

Paul Kiel at Muckraker fills us in on the most recent FLA undervote.

Looks like an undervote has cost Democrat Jennings the election to replace Kathrine Harris in Congress.

Jennings vows a recount and a court fight. No recount in the world can count ballots not cast, and short of forcing a new election, there is noting a court can do to fix a problem of voters not voting. It's hard to imagine a court ordering a new Congressional election.

And as a practical matter, the House isn't going to declare Jennings the winner despite her lack of votes. For one, it's way to 'in your face' at this time in history, and two, when it last happened (by I think Tip O'Neil) it caused a huge blow-up.

The only real solution -- which won't help Jennings -- is for Congress to fix these problems by legislation.

First, you need to get over it if you think electronic voting is going anywhere. It is here to stay. Too much has been spent nationwide on these machines and you can't stop progress.

Congress needs to set standards that must be met if eVoting machines are to be used. Minimum standards for the machines including paper trails (which we have in Missouri) minimum memory requirements, and minimum standards of training for those who sevice and maintain the machines at polling places would be a good start. If these standards are not met, require a re-vote.

The End of the GOP Empty Suit?

It is widely speculated that Allen will concede his Senate seat at a press conference this afternoon.

Regardless, stick a fork in him, he's done.

As Allen's campaign fell to pieces following one screw-up after another, and questions surfaced about his past, the similarities between he and Gdub became striking.

Both of them are empty suits, with no real smarts or abilities who were but up by GOP operatives based solely upon their family names. Both have turned out to be real failures.

It's hard to remember now the GOP desperation coming into the 2000 race to win back the White House. Clinton, despite his failings, was beating them at every turn, and hugely popular, even in the face of impeachment. The GOP's popularity, in contrast had sank and they lost seats in both houses every election after 1994. Many inside the GOP concluded they needed a figure head to rally the party around, almost as a unity candidate, if you will, to win back the WH who was outside DC and could pull off a claim of moderation. They choose the empty suit Governor of Texas and the rest, as they say, is history.

Really, Allen's story is the same, compete with repeated dumb comments (Macaca) and arrests in his past. Of course, we also find out that Allen has a history or racism, to boot. When the presure was on in this campaign, it was one screw up after another.

So will this end, at least for now, the GOP desire to put up these empty suits to win elections?

My guess is that Allen's political career is over, but I wouldn't bet on new empty suits surfacing for the next cycle.

UPDATE: Allen to Concede Election This Afternoon - washingtonpost.com

Religious Right took a beating,....

and I couldn't be happier.

From the AP,
From the country's heartland, voters sent messages that altered America's culture wars and dismayed the religious right — defending abortion rights in South Dakota, endorsing stem cell research in Missouri, and, in a national first, rejecting a same-sex marriage ban in Arizona.

Conservative leaders were jolted by the setbacks and looked for an explanation Wednesday. Gay-rights and abortion-rights activists celebrated.

The verdict on abortion rights was particularly clear. Oregon and California voters defeated measures that would have required parents to be notified before a girl under 18 could get an abortion, and South Dakotans — by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent — rejected a new state law that would have banned all abortions except to save a pregnant woman's life.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

AP: Webb wins VA

The AP has now called Virginia for Webb, and thus, giving the Senate to the Dems.

Look for Allen to concede in short order.

The Senate is ours,....

Burns has now been defeated in Montana.

And Webb's win in Virginia will hold. When the dust settles and the Viginia vote is certified reality will set in and Allen will concede.

Pretty big night, huh?


GOP says Rumsfeld stepping down

Northern Illinois Perspective

Well, we fought hard for Tammy Duckworth and she lost by just over 3,000 votes. Not bad for a solid Republican district where Henry Hyde had won with 75% of the vote for over 20 years. I don't think we have heard the last of Tammy...she raised a lot of money and generated a ton of media coverage.

On to Dennis Hassert. He won by 60-40. This is a very poor showing for the speaker of the house. His challenger was behind 80-20 just 6 weeks ago. Foley really hurt Hassert. I don't think he will resign since a democratic governor would appoint his replacement, unkess he resigns quickly and then we'd have a special election, with no certainty of the outcome.

Amendment 2

On stem cell research.

CNN just reported that it has passed by more than 50,000 votes, making up a 55,000 vote deficit from earlier in the evening. IF TRUE, these votes should be enough to fend off the "no" votes that will come in from Jasper County tomorrow.

Another big victory for the forces of light.

UPDATE: (9:30 AM) The AP has declared Amend 2 has passed. Unofficial statewide tallies gave the measure a 27,000 vote lead, with 96 percent of the state's precincts reporting. I could have sworn I heard CNN say 50,000 but given the lateness of the hour, I could have imagined the whole thing.

I believe Jasper County is still out with 40,000 votes. They are hand county and results are not expected until later today. 27,000 should be enough to survive a strong "no" vote from Jasper county.

Proposition B

Proposition B on the ballot would increase the minimum wage in Missouri to $6.50 an hours, and even more important, adjust that figure annually for inflation.

This prop as passed with nearly 70% state wide voter approval!

This is Huge! The GOP opposes any minimum wage increase for all it's worth and their defeat on this is crushing.

This should send a message to Dems nation wide about who they are and who they represent.

These are the kind of wedge issues that Dems need to ram down the throats of the GOP.

Grow some balls Dems, you're in the major leagues again.

South Dakota

Argus Leader Media - News,
South Dakota voters on Tuesday firmly rejected a law banning nearly all abortions, but supporters of the measure vowed to continue pushing to further restrict abortion in the state.

With 91 percent of the state's precincts reporting, 55 percent opposed the abortion ban while 45 percent supported it.
So much for the so-called new conservative majority. Don't let anyone tell you this isn't a blow to the Conservative cause. This is an example of the voters of a red state rejecting the over-reaching of ultraconservatives pushing their extreme agenda.


.....will be welcomed back into the fold like he never left.

Not just because the Dems need him (and they do), but also they never wanted to turn their back on him. They all love Joe. Joe will get his chairmanship and all will be well.

Sweet Victory

The Dems have taken the house by 32 or more seats. I'm not surprised by our retaking the house, but I am surprised by the number.

I predicted a pick-up of 4 senate seats, and am delighted to have been wrong. As I detailed below, the Dems now control the Senate as well. And although it's by one vote, the Dems now set the Congressional Agenda, control all committee and have subpoena power.

The last two years will not be happy ones for the Bushies. But don't think they will fold up. I expect Bush's approval ratings to improve. Bush needs an enemy. He hasn't one since the last election and his numbers tumbled. He's never lead the nation, but only attacked those who opposed him. They are going to hunker down at the White House and fight like hell.


Okay, I may live to regret this post, but I think Claire is going to pull this out. Saint Louis and KC are just now coming in, and it is being reported that Talent's votes outstate are already in.

And it looks like Talent has done worse than before in those areas,.....such that I think McCaskill's going to win.

So, If I'm right (who knows) and we get VA, that would mean control of the Senate too.

fingers crossed

UPDATE: (12:40 AM) At this point, it appears MO will decide control of the Senate. McCaskill is up by about 25k but more still coming in from Saint Louis County -- and I think in Democratic precincts from University City and North County.

Jasper County in Southwest MO is still out and likely will be til tomorrow. Reports are that Jasper county has 40k votes which means they could pump out a lot of votes for Talent but even if he gets 23k of the 40k , McCaskill should get a very narrow win...

This is unbelievable.

The Stem cell fight is just as close, and now slightly winning. But again, will the remaining St Louis County votes out weight the Jasper county votes....

UPDATE:(12:55 AM) McCaskill has just claimed victory. Seems like a lot of votes still out,...

UPDATE: (1:02AM) In a gracious and classy speech, Talent concedes and advises that he had called Claire to concede earlier, which explains her acceptance.

If the Dems hold on to victory inVA, they retake the Senate!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I think Webb is going to pull this out in a real nail-bitter.

Clearly the exit poll was wrong.

Looks like a recount no matter what.

As of this time, I have no Idea about MO.

UPDATE: (1:40AM) Webb now leads by 12,000 votes and counting. Those numbers will prevent a state funded recount and likely a big enough margin to survive any recount. So, Allen will have to think long and hard about paying for a recount he can't win.

What a Lovely Picture

Too bad you couldn't find an ugly picture of her.

With great sadness

The Ward Report declares Kathrine Harris the loser in her attempt to knock off Sen Nelson in Florida.

This utter defeat will end her political career and we at The Ward Report will miss her.

I love this picture and will likely not have an excuse to us it again.

National Exit Polls Leaked

With the same numbers posted in a few places, and show the Dems taking the Senate with 6 pick-ups.

Let me say that having been burned so many times now, I now longer believe these. People lie to exit pollers, it's that simple.

Never the less, here they are from The Washington Monthly,

Dems take:
MO: 50-48
VA: 52-47
RI: 53-46
PA: 57-42
OH: 57-43
MT: 53-46

The Dems don't lose any seats, and the GOP holds Frist's seat in TN with Corker and Kyl's seat in AZ.

Can't make this stuff up!

FRom the WaPo,

Inaccurate sample ballots describing Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Senate candidate Michael S. Steele as Democrats were handed out to voters in at least four polling sites in Prince George's County this morning....

Erik Markle, one of the people handing out literature for Ehrlich, who is seeking reelection, and Steele, the current lieutenant governor who is campaigning to replace retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D), said he was recruited at a homeless shelter in Philadelphia.

After a two-hour bus ride to Maryland, Markle said the workers were greeted early this morning by first lady Kendel Ehrlich, who thanked them as they were outfitted in T-shirts and hats with the logo for Ehrlich's reelection campaign....

Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver said the sample ballot was produced by a local branch of the campaign that targets Prince George's Democrats who support Ehrlich. She said it was not a deceptive effort.

Well, I guess they get credit for admitting they did it.

Monday, November 06, 2006

WaPo has robo story,...

too little too late.


This year's heavy volume of automated political phone calls has infuriated countless voters and triggered sharp complaints from Democrats, who say the Republican Party has crossed the line in bombarding households with recorded attacks on candidates in tight House races nationwide.

Some voters, sick of interrupted dinners and evenings, say they will punish the offending parties by opposing them in today's elections. But critics say Republicans crafted the messages to delude voters -- especially those who hang up quickly -- into thinking that Democrats placed the calls.

Republicans denied the allegation, noting that their party acknowledges its authorship at the recorded calls' end. After citizens' complaints in New Hampshire, however, the National Republican Congressional Committee agreed to end the calls to households on the federal do-not-call list, even though the law exempts political messages from such restrictions.

I just can't help but think this is yet another missed opportunity to have blown the GOP dirty tricks up in their face.

Does anyone agree with me on this? I feel like I'm the only one critical of the Dems lack of response.

Time to vote

Please vote. If you don't know where to go, you can find answers here.

I don't really have much else to say. I stand by my earlier prediction that the Dems will win back the House. My guess is that in the end, the total will be closer to a 20 seat pick-up than the 30+ seats of some predictions.

I think the GOP will hold on to the Senate, but boy would I love to be wrong.

I continue to be disappoint in the DNC for lack of an obvious national message, and more recently, the lack of a full scale assault on the RNC robo calling scandal.

But enough. Nothing left to do now but vote and wait for them to be counted.

So where is the response?

One of Josh's readers observed,

"...frankly it is just too late for something in tomorrow's papers to make a difference. We need ALL Dem talking heads and surrogates who will be appearing on cable TV tonight to raise this issue -- whether they are asked about it or not. Get it on the airwaves. Force it on shows tonight."
This reader is of course right, and his advice beyond obvious, yet it seems that the task of organizing such a thing is falling on TPM? Kos?

WTF? Where in the hell is the DNC in this and/or the DCCC? I'm so frustrated with the ineptitude at these levels that I could scream.

A quick trip to http://www.dccc.org/ reveals not a single mention of these robo calls.

Am I just naive to expect that either organization could act as a message clearing house and provide organization, talking points, documented evidence, etc. to all our talking heads to be on message and have an effective message?

Forgive the cliche, but it is long past time to 'think outside the box.' It is long past time to stop making excuses for our own failed institutions and start demanding competency. Winning an election because your not someone else is fine for one election but it doesn't build a lasting majority. When are the Dems going to realize the GOP plays for keeps and start fighting back?

This goes to the party’s real weakness with voters. We cannot expect the American people to believe the Democratic Party will protect them if it cannot even protect itself.

Josh has written about this, at least in the context of Kerry’s problems with the Swift Boaters and the subtext of their attacks which conveyed a message of weakness to the voters.

I am frustrated beyond words that yet again it would appear that the Democratic party is left without a solid response to dirty GOP tricks.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Robo Calling Dirty Tricks

Josh Marshall and the crew at TPM are documenting very disturbing examples of the RNCC sending out robo calls at annoying times claiming to be from the local Dem candidate.

As Josh notes,
We won't be able to get to the bottom of this operation until after Tuesday, which is the point. They'll happily pay the fines for breaking the federal regs on misidentifying calls.
Clearly these people have no shame, but this behavior is also nothing new.

The question is how do the Dems respond? They are wasting valuable time. They need to be getting ads on TV and stories in the news in every district accusing the GOP of this stuff, using the strongest possible language. Shine a light on them for what they are. If they can get a message out (I'm not holding my breath) the backlash will be harsh and severe.

As long as they get away with this, it will go on forever.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

‘Rumsfeld must go’

According to MSNBC.com, in an editorial on Monday the Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, and Marine Corps Times will call on Rumsfeld to resign. They received an advance copy or the editorial on Friday.
It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation’s current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.
This has to be unprecidented. It will be interesting to see what if any effect it has on Rummy's fate.

I don't think Bush will ever push him out. For Bush, that means admitting failure, and he just won't, no matter how many people die.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The myth of the 'Republican Plan' for Iraq

'Stay the course' isn't the plan for Deborah Pryce (R-OH for 4 more days). The soon to be unemployed Deborah, is the House Republican Caucus chairwoman, the fourth highest-ranking position in the House.

The legendary Mayor Daley of Chicago always gave the political advice, "Don't make no waves, don't back no losers". Sadly for Deborah, a promising House career is being cut short because she, like so many in her party, has backed the biggest loser to come along in a generation.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving group.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

New DCCC Ad: "New Direction"

This is the kind of ad the Dems need to be running nation wide. Ads that call the GOP to account and demand change.

Olbermann agrees with me

Bush owes us an apology for Iraq.

Here is the crux from last nights show.

Boehner blames the troops

The difference between the Dems and the GOP is that they would never let this pass,...and we are hapless,....

JOHN BOEHNER: Let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld.

WOLF BLITZER: But he's in charge of the military.

BOEHNER: But the fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge, and he works closely with them and the president.

So why aren't we demanding an apology? Granted, we don't have the bully pulpit, but still,....why should Boehner get a pass for such an outrageous statement?

Why we should be demanding an apology

Yesterday, the NYTs published a chart in information regarding a briefing prepared by US Central Command that demonstrates that Iraq is descending into "chaos".

This should have been a huge story but instead, the news was dealing with John Kerry, his apology and embarrassment of all of us -- again.

Of course, this whole time the admin has been insisting that things are going as well as can be expected.....

And the admin's response to what should be an embarrassing disclosure of THE TRUTH!

Pursue criminal prosecution of the leakers,......who dared tell the public what the admin knows to be the truth, but wants to keep secret.

Glenn Greenwald an excellent post up today to fill you in. Here is a taste,
As is always the case, what the Bush administration and its followers are furious about is not that there have been any disclosures of national security secrets which can harm the U.S. It is not exactly a secret that Iraq is disintegrating and spiraling towards civil war, any more than it was a secret that the Bush administration eavesdrops on the conversations of suspected terrorists or monitors their banking transactions. What they are furious about -- and want to threaten and even imprison people for -- is not any harm to national security, but harm to the political interests of the Bush movement.

This is what the ideal world of the Bush follower looks like: If the Government is waging a war and things are going horribly, the Government has the right to lie to its citizens and claim that things are going remarkably well. If a newspaper is furnished with documents prepared by the military that shows that the Government is lying and that things are actually going very poorly, the newspaper should then be barred from informing their readers about that truth -- and ought to criminally prosecuted, perhaps even executed, if they do so.

Kerry through in 08

Kerry issues written apology.

I am so tired of John Kerry. What a boob. First, he says such a dumb thing, and second, he then hands the WH what the cannot get on their own, a freakin victory in the run up to the election.

When we should be demanding Bush apologize for the lies in the run up to the debacle that is the war in Iraq-- where people are dying by the thousands with NO PLAN to improve or win -- Kerry is the on apologizing.

WTF! Do you know what the subtext of this is to the voters as a whole?

That Dems are weak and can't fight. They can't fight for themselves and they can't fight for America.

John Kerry, it's time you dried up and went away.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Off to Miami for a couple days

I'm leaving now to attend a conference in Miami for a couple days. I should be able to post from my hotel.

In Vegas I stayed at the Bellagio. They had the slowest Internets service I've encountered in years. I guess they want you in the casino. Anyway, it made posting--or really even reading the Internets--impossible.

Oct 31 Survey USA show McCaskill pulling ahead

Survey USA:

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McCaskill leads Talent 49% to 47%.

Good news. but don't put too much stock in it.

This is still a tied race that will be decided by the side that has the best GOTV infastructure.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This is a good sign for the Dems.

Race Pollster Released Candidates
IL-10 Const. Dyn. Oct 30 Seals (D) 48%, Kirk (R) 46%
IL-10 Const. Dyn. Oct 18 Kirk (R) 46%, Seals (D) 44%

When I saw this yesterday evening, I knew I had to post about it. Mark Kirk, the current Republican congressman form IL-10, was well respected in this district. It is a very republican district, consisting of some of the highest incomes levels in the state, stable communities and expensive housing - running in the $500K+ range for all new construction, with schools ranked in the top 10 in the state in every category.

If this poll is correct and an unknown Democrat, who the Kirk ads claim is a tax raising, carpetbagger, is ahead in this district, it does not bode well the Republicans. This has always been considered a safe race. I didn't even see an ad on TV until last week. And in Il6 (Duckworth vs. Roskam) and Il8 (Bean vs. McSweeney) the ads have been running for MONTHS. Kirk's main ads are apple pie and Americana, touting his service as a pilot in the US Navy, while the RNC runs the smear ads, as usual.

I hope this is a good sign that the reign of Dennis Hassert and his band of idiots will soon be over. By the way, Hassert is running ads- which is unheard of in the Chicago market. I don't think he has a chance of not winning reelection, but I bet his challenger gets more votes than anyone has in ages in this election cycle. And if he loses the house, I'd bet he will have a strong challenger from within the Republican party in the '087 primaries.

Vote for a Dem and the "terrorists win"

From this mornings WaPo
"However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses," Bush told a raucous crowd of about 5,000 GOP partisans packed in an arena at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, one of his stops Monday.
Wow, Sugerland Texas, proud home of Tom DeLay. Bush is really getting in there and mixing it up in this campaign to bring home the votes.

CNN has MO Sen race in tie

Among likely voters in Missouri, Republican Sen. Jim Talent and his Democratic challenger, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, were at a dead heat, each with 49 percent support. However, among the larger pool of registered voters, McCaskill led 51-43 percent. (Read the complete poll results -- PDF)
At this point, the race seems clearly tied which mean who wins will be determined by voter turnout.

Intellectually, a tie should go to the Dem this year with the GOP base disillusioned. But I just have this gut feeling McCaskill is going to fall short.

We have Amendment 2 on the ballot (stem cell research) which will bring out GOP voters who otherwise might have stayed home.

Also, a lot of Dems are still pissed at McCaskill for running against Dem incumbent Gov Holden two years ago and handing the Governor's mansion to the GOP.

I see the Dems picking up 4 Senate seats and thus falling short of retaking the Senate.

Monday, October 30, 2006

And the Cardinals won the World Series

(5'7 Yadi Molina jumping into the arms of 6'7 Adam Wainwright after the last out of game 5)

I see Tim helped me out on this one. I was in Los Vegas having given away a ticket to what the rained out third game and became the clinching fifth game.

We watched the games from Vegas, but it was not the same. It really still has not sunk in,....

Hopefully, in the next few days I will crystalize my thoughts on the post-season.

McCaskill v Talent a dead heat

The Post commissioned a poll from last week that showed McCaskill in a dead heat with Talent 47% to 47%.

This is consistent with recent polls. This election will be determined by turnout. I think in many states the GOP will stay home. Not sure about here, with the stem cell amendment on the ballot, etc.

Here is my prediction. I have no idea if McCaskill will win, but if she does, the Dems will retake the Senate.

Having said this, I don't think the Dems are going retake the senate. It's hard to imagine the Dems at this point not retaking the House, but never underestimate them.

Back from Vegas

But tired. 4 nights is too much!

Anyway, I will try to catch up some or at least start fresh tomorrow.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I'm in St. Louis for the weekend for a wedding. All I can say is, it took a long time,but we finally did it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Vegas, baby!

I'm off to Vegas on business and for pleasure. Home late Sunday night.

I'll be blogging from Vegas. At least for now, I've got my blogging legs back. I've decided that the Ward Report moving forward is going to be a little more personal as I at times blog on interests other than politics.


Why in the hell is Carpenter batting in the bottom of the eighth with a 4 zip lead when you may well need him to pitch again on short rest? Sure the pitch count was low at 82 pitches, but wtf?

By the way, the Cards are going to win the series.

Kevin Tillman

By now you've no doubt heard about the letter of Kevin Tillman, brother of Pat, posted on the web.

I thought I would link to the letter for those who might be interested. I also recommend it.

Truthdig - Reports - After PatÂ’s Birthday

Kevin is angry, and his letter is not just an indictment of our leaders, it is an indictment of all of us. Kevin concludes with some sobering words,

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

The RNC money machine

CQPolitics.com - RNC Money Flowing to Key Races.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) reported raising $14.4 million in September, bringing the national GOP political organization’s overall receipts this campaign cycle to just less than $200 million, according to campaign finance documents filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) took in $5.7 million last month and has taken in a total of $108.4 million for the cycle — or just more than half the RNC’s $199.5 million.

The RNC has outraised the DNC every month during this election cycle, and Republican strategists hope that fundraising edge will help them blunt a very determined Democratic campaign to win control of one or both chambers of Congress in a national political environment that is anti-Republican.

McCaskill down to the wire

Good news and bad news for Claire.

First the good news.

According to the latest poll (MSNBC) Claire has again pulled out front 46% to 43% with a whopping (and unbelievable) 9% undecided.

Now the bad news.

The RNC has dropped a staggering $1,773,765.54 into negative ads to run against Claire.

This is a huge race for the RNC (and the WH) because there is no scandal upon which to blame a loss. They lose Missouri and that is a repudiation of their agenda in a Red state that they could not deny.

(thanks to TPM for the tip on the ad buy)

Latino Voters

As I've noted here many times, demographics don't work for the GOP long term. No one understands this better than Karl Rove, who has worked to try and capture the Latino vote for the GOP. Of course, at the same time he has spent years stoking the fire of the racist GOP base.

Kevin Drum points to this story in the LAT,
The Latino backlash has grown so intense that one prominent, typically pro-Republican organization, the Latino Coalition, has endorsed Democrats in competitive races this year in Tennessee, Nebraska and New Jersey. The coalition is chaired by Hector Barreto, the former administrator of the Small Business Administration under Bush; its president is a former strategist for the Republican National Committee.

....In recent months, Democratic activists who marveled at Bush's success in courting Latino voters watched with amazement as Republicans pushed into law a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border....Despite Bush's lobbying for an immigrant guest-worker program, favored by many Latinos, conservative lawmakers in the House refused to bend, forcing Bush to endorse the fence legislation and dimming his popularity among Latinos.

The myth of the "Republican Plan" for Iraq

'Stay the course' insn't Rep. John Sweeny (R-frat house) plan for Iraq. At least not anymore.

Rep. John Sweeney (R), 6/8/06: "Zarqawi represents the insidious forces that we are fighting in the War on Terror. This is a critical example of why we must stay the course and finish this mission."

Rep. John Sweeney (R), 10/18/06 : "I think that the strategy of 'staying the course' is not a strategy at all. It doesn't work. There are going to have to be adjustments in any war if that is the case."

Monday, October 23, 2006

'Did I say that out loud?'

Recall Mr. Fernandez recent comments regarding US "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq?

He's reconsidered.
"Upon reading the transcript of my appearance on Al-Jazeera, I realized that I seriously misspoke by using the phrase 'there has been arrogance and stupidity' by the U.S. in Iraq," Alberto Fernandez said in an e-mail sent to reporters by the State Department and attributed to him.

"This represents neither my views nor those of the State Department. I apologize," the statement said.

'Iraq, The Real Story'

Mathew Gross brings our attention to this film by Guardian photographer Sean Smith, who spent 6 weeks with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq.

It's amazing.

'Stay the course' in Iraq

Think Progress.

Despite Bush's recent denials, for years, the White House has repeatedly described their Iraq policy as “stay the course.”

Think Progress has the video.

The myth of the "Republican Plan" for Iraq

'Stay the course' isn't Sen Specter's (R-PA) plan for Iraq.

In fairness, it may be again in an hour or two.

24 years

Enron's Skilling Sentence.

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

The myth of the "Republican Plan" for Iraq

'Stay the course' isn't Sen Lindsey Graham's plan.(R-SC),
...."We're on the verge of chaos, and the current plan is not working," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in an Associated Press interview. U.S. and Iraqi officials should be held accountable for the lack of progress, said Graham, a Republican who is a frequent critic of the administration's policies.

Asked who in particular should be held accountable _ Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, perhaps, or the generals leading the war _ Graham said: "All of them. It's their job to come up with a game plan" to end the violence

WaPo poll weighs in

From today's WaPo,
....Ninety-five percent of Democrats say they will support Democratic candidates for the House while slightly fewer (88 percent) Republicans said they plan to vote for their party's candidates.

The independent voters surveyed said they plan to support Democratic candidates over Republicans by roughly 2-to-1 (59 percent to 31 percent), the largest margin in any Post-ABC News poll this year. Forty-five percent said it would be good if Democrats recapture the House majority while just 10 percent said it would not be. The rest said it would not matter.

The poll also found that independents are highly pessimistic because of the Iraq war and the overall state of the country. Just 23 percent said the country is heading in the right direction compared to 75 percent who say things have gotten off track. Only a quarter of independents approve of the job Congress has done this year and only a third believe the Iraq war has been worth fighting.
And by the way, "independants" are not liberals. We need to remember this. We can't win elections without them.
Independent voters may strongly favor Democrats, but their vote appears motivated more by dissatisfaction with Republicans than by enthusiasm for the opposition party. About half of those independents saying they plan to vote Democratic in their district said they were doing so primarily to vote against the Republican candidate rather than affirmatively for the Democratic candidate. Just 22 percent of independents voting for Democrats are doing so "very enthusiastically."

'It was pine tar'

Jon Heyman spoke to a pitching coach who had the guts to say what all fans of baseball know. Of course it was pine tar.

"It was pine tar. It couldn't be anything else. Pitchers use pine tar, shaving cream and suntan lotion. Pitchers use them to help them grip the ball and make the ball move more. Bullpen guys sometimes keep suntan lotion in the ball bags. It's not for a tan. Pine tar works the best. It's been around the longest. But lately, more and more guys are using shaving cream and suntan lotion. There's no chance to be caught with shaving cream or suntan lotion.
Why isn't Tony complaining more?

"I bet Tony La Russa's pitchers are mad at him for saying anything, because a lot of guys do it, and I'd be surprise if there's a whole staff of guys who don't do it. In fact, I'd say a majority of guys use one of the three -- shaving cream, suntan lotion or pine tar. They can't like him ratting out the other team when everyone does it. Maybe he had to say something because it's the World Series, it's on TV and he probably has to answer to his owner.

"But you'll notice he didn't continue to talk about it, and he instructed his guys not to talk about it. They probably have no interest in catching Rogers because if they do then the umpire is looking at everyone.''

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Left would do good to think about Brooks column today

Thinning the Herd - New York Times

October 22, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

Thinning the Herd

“Tell us, why, again, Republicans need 55 senators?” Rush Limbaugh asked not long ago. “Why do we need 55 senators when we have so many malcontents and traitors in the bunch? And they all happen to be from the Northeast, and they all happen to be moderates, they all happen to be liberals.”

In that spirit, the National Federation of Republican Assemblies set out to rid the party of this threat. It set up a “RINO Hunters Club” to “root out and hunt down” the squishy centrists who are Republicans in Name Only. The Club for Growth ran candidates to defeat them. Last week on his radio show, Sean Hannity blasted the RINO’s again, saying they were costing good conservatives their jobs.

Well, this is one problem the Republican Party is solving. When the next Congress convenes, there will be many fewer RINO’s in town. You look at the vulnerable Republicans and it’s like a moderate Republican graveyard: Deborah Pryce, a bright and effective member from Ohio; Christopher Shays from Connecticut; Sweeney from New York; Gerlach from Pennsylvania; Reichert from Washington; DeWine from Ohio.

Why have 55 Republican senators? Why not 25? Why not 15 brave and true? Throw in a few dozen pure-minded Republican House members and you could hold the next Republican convention in a living room.

For the past several years, Republican elites have treated the moderates, upon whom their majority depended, as the deformed cousins of their movement. Congressmen from rock-ribbed Republican districts who’ve never had to confront a dissenting view applaud themselves for their manly courage while scorning the effete wispiness of Northeastern Republicans who go home and battle derision every weekend. The centrists themselves are so beaten down, they learned they can’t even utter the word “moderate” in the halls of Congress. Instead, they unveiled what they called their “Suburban” agenda.

But the suburbs happen to be where this election is being fought — around Philadelphia, New York, Denver, Minneapolis and Columbus. The general rule is that Democrats win in the more densely populated suburbs close to the cities and the Republicans win the more sparsely populated ones farther out. The central fight in American politics now is over where the line is demarking the two zones, and the central Republican problem is that every time the party mobilizes its exurban base it further alienates the marginal voters in traditional suburbs where Congressional elections are won or lost.

The Republican moderates come from Lands’ End and Eddie Bauer-rich tipping zones. The people in the office parks in these places may not be zillionaires, but they run the meeting planning firms that help HR executives facilitate sales force enrichment retreats.

They are looking for orderly places to raise their children. They are what you might call antiparty empiricists. They distrust partisans and can’t imagine why anyone would be sick enough to base an identity on a political organization. They don’t expect much from government but a few competently delivered services, and they don’t like public officials who unnerve them.

The Republicans used to do well in these areas, but now it’s as if they are purposely trying to antagonize the married moms at the pseudo-New Urbanist outdoor cafes. The deficits alarm them. Tom DeLay was a perfectly designed Northeastern alienation machine. As insular Democrats know little about what life is like in flyover country, so insular Republicans know little about how people think in the suburban Northeast, where blue New York Times delivery bags dot the driveways each morn.

The big issue is Iraq, but the core problem with suburban voters is not the decision to go to war; it’s the White House’s reaction to the mess afterward. As Robert Lang, the superlative suburban specialist at Virginia Tech, notes, when people mess up a project in an office park, there are consequences. But Donald Rumsfeld never gets fired. Jerry Bremer and Tommy Franks get medals.

This is not how engineers and empirically minded managers behave. The people in these offices manage information for a living, and when they see Republicans denying obvious trends, or shutting out relevant data, they say to themselves, “Those people are not like me.”

So there goes your majority. In the years ahead, Republicans can either reintroduce themselves to the blue-state suburbs or they can ask themselves the dittohead question: Tell us, why, again, do we need to be a governing party anyway?

Kinda says it all

I lifted this directly from the front page of this afternoon's WaPo on line:

Gunmen Kill 15 Iraqi Police Recruits, Wound 25
No Big Changes on White House Iraq Policy
U.S. Death Toll for Month Is Highest in a Year

Obama 08?

As recently as a couple days ago I very wisely explained to a co-worker that Barack was too young and new still to national politics for a Presidential bid and needed a couple terms in the Senate, etc before such a run. She nodded intently at my superior knowledge and wisdom on this subject.

The WaPo this afternoon,
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) opened the door to a 2008 presidential campaign today, saying he has begun to weigh a possible candidacy and will make a decision sometime after the November elections.

"Given the responses that I've been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility, but I have not thought about it with the seriousness and depth that I think is required," Obama said on NBC's "Meet The Press." "After November 7th, I'll sit down and consider it, and if at some point, I change my mind, I will make a public announcement and everybody will be able to go at me."
For what's it's worth (nothing if you haven't figured that out yet) I don't think Obama jumps in.

I won't tell the story of my dismissing Obama after I met him as someone going nowhere.

Why the Center Matters in [EVERY!] Election

Too many on my party's left eschew centrist politics, despite the fact that the ONLY time in many of their lifetimes that the Dems held the WH was with a freakin Centrist!

"Throw the bums out" will win one election but will not build the lasting coalition necessary to hold power. If the Dems want to hold power if these moronic Repubs the formula is easy: Become the party of moderation.

Anyway, bad news for the GOP from the latest WSJ poll,

...Polls suggest Republicans so far have lost the center -- in overwhelming proportions. To maintain their grip on power in Congress, they need to find some way to woo a big chunk of it back in the next 17 days.

Prevailing political wisdom holds that the only things that matter are each party's "base" -- that there is no center anymore, and no more swing voters worth chasing. But look at what has happened among independent voters in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll, taken this past week: Support for Republicans has collapsed. Just 24% of them say they want President Bush's party to control Congress after Election Day. Independents disapprove of Mr. Bush's job performance by 2 to 1.

Reyes' Transformation

In Game 4 of the NLDS v the Pond Scum, Reyes struggled through 4 innings before being pulled. Pitching out of the windup it was believed he was tipping his pitches in that game. Before being pulled he switched to throw out of the stretch and settled down some.

This was not the Anthony Reyes who one-hit the World Champ White Sox in Chicago last summer.

In WS Game 1, Reyes again throwing out of the windup again struggled in the first inning, with Yaddy making 3 trips to the mound. It was a miracle that Reyes got out of the inning with only 1 run, and it would appear we were in for a rough game.

Between innings Reyes had an animated conversation in the dugout with Tony and Duncan. After that conversation Reyes settled down and was near unhittable. He retired the next 17 hitters he faced, striking out four and getting the Tigers to fly out repeatedly. The Tigers got 3 hits of Reyes the through 8 1/3 innings.

Reyes continued to pitch out of the windup, so here is my question: What in the hell did Tony and / or Duncan say to him between the first and second innings to transform from Donovan Osborne to Bob Gibson?

Tom Timmermann writes feature on Reyes' performance in today's Post and offers not a single insight. Checking several other web sports outlets and I can't find anyone who seems to know or even care.

I want to know! Leave a comment if you have found something on this.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Matthew's right. Stop whinning and fight back

Easily my biggest disgust with the Dems is their forever whinning in the face of GOP Attacks.

How many times have I said here that the American people will not think you can defend them when you won't even defend yourself?

Matt has got this right,
The infamous anti-Cleland ad was legitimately scummy, presenting a seriously distorted and underhanded view of the issues at hand. That said, ....Democrats over and over again seem to think that biographical qualities either are or out to somehow immunize nominees from political attacks based on national security issues and they keep getting burned. They need to get over it -- the world doesn't work that way and the world shouldn't work that way. This is on a par with whining that Republicans are politicizing national security. Well, guess what, national security is a political issue. The Democratic Party is full of politicians. They need to learn to do politics -- the whining just looks weak and pathetic.
Weak and pathetic is exactly right.

I cut out Matt's assertion that Chambliss's attacks on Cleland were not on Max's personal bravery. As TPM Reader DK pointed out at least some certainly were just that.

As the nation yawns,...

Mathew Gross points to GWU Constitutional Law Johathan Turley's comments on Keith Olbermann's show:
[The Military Commissions Act of 2006 is] a huge sea change for our democracy. The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood of the president. In fact, Madison said that he created a system essentially to be run by devils, where they could not do harm, because we didn’t rely on their good motivations.

Now we must. And people have no idea how significant this is. What, really, a time of shame this is for the American system. What the Congress did and what the president signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values.

It couldn’t be more significant. And the strange thing is, we’ve become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. I mean, the Congress just gave the president despotic powers, and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to, you know, “Dancing with the Stars.” I mean, it’s otherworldly.

And remember, this didn't happen without cowardly Dems jumping on board.

The Dem sellouts who made this possible:
  1. Carper (Del.)
  2. Johnson (S.D.)
  3. Landrieu (La.)
  4. Lautenberg (N.J.)
  5. Lieberman (Conn.)
  6. Menendez (N.J)
  7. Pryor (Ark.)
  8. Rockefeller (W. Va.)
  9. Salazar (Co.)
  10. Stabenow (Mich.)
  11. Nelson (Fla.)
  12. Nelson (Neb.)

"Arrogance and 'stupidity' in Iraq

"Stay the Course" isn't Alberto Fernandez plan(R-soon to be unemployed).

Fom The AP,
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A senior U.S. diplomat said the United States had shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq but was now ready to talk with any group except Al-Qaida in Iraq to facilitate national reconciliation.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera television aired late Saturday, Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department offered an unusually candid assessment of America's war in Iraq.

"We tried to do our best but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq," he said.
Me thinks Mr. Fernandez will soon be leaving the State Department to spend more time with his family.

Fear it bitches!

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The base is cracking

In a recent conversation with a friend, I said that the Dem would win a race this election cycle that polled 50/50, on the eve of election because a lot of the GOP base, and specifically evangelicals, would stay home. They would tell any pollster who called that they are strong Rs, but come election day, some are going to stay home.

Apparently, a recent Newsweek poll actually has data to support my wild-ass speculation,
Oct. 21, 2006 - If the elections for Congress were held today, according to the new NEWSWEEK poll, 60 percent of white Evangelicals would support the Republican candidate in their district, compared to just 31 percent who would back the Democrat. To the uninitiated, that may sound like heartening news for Republicans in the autumn of their discontent. But if you’re a pundit, a pol, or a preacher, you know better. White Evangelicals are a cornerstone of the GOP’s base; in 2004, exit polls found Republicans carried white Evangelicals 3 to 1 over Democrats, winning 74 percent of their votes.
And remember what I said earlier today, I'll believe we take either house when I see it on election day.

(via DK @ TPM)

The myth of the "Republican Plan" for Iraq

It has long made me crazy that it is so widely accepted as a valid criticism of Dems that "they don't have a plan for Iraq". Even Dems seem to indulge this ridiculousness.

So what is the Republican Plan?

The White House plan is to "stay the course" what ever that means, but that's not "the Republican plan".

The WH plan is not Chuck Hagel's plan (R -NE); It's not John Warner's plan (R - VA); it's not Olympia Snowe's plan (R - ME),
Snowe said in a statement [Oct 10, 2006] that as conditions in Iraq continue to worsen, "there must be no question among the (Bush) administration, the Congress and the Iraqi unity government that staying the course is neither an option nor a plan."
It used to be Bob Corker's plan (R-Wannabe TN), but evidently is no longer,

And while 'stay the course' was once Sen George Allen's position (R - Macaca), it is no longer.

I could go on, but think I've made my point. Please leave a comment if you have examples of GOP polls deserting the WH plan.

And also leave a comment if you have any clue why even Dem talking heads and pols seem to indulge this bullshit.

So when a Republican says to you that the Dems problem is that they don't have a plan, ask them to explain to you the GOP plan.

Many Iraqis love the Mahdi militia

The New York Times,
....when the prime minister speaks of disarming militias — those mushrooming armies of men with guns that carry out most of the killing here — Iraqi brows begin to furrow.

“He’s just talking,” snapped Fadhil Sabri, a 37-year-old generator repairman in a grease-stained shop in Sadr City, a Baghdad stronghold of the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia.

“Not now. Not even in 10 years. You need arms to defend yourself,” he said.

Iraq is awash in killings, and many are blamed on the Mahdi Army, the militia commanded by a glowering Shiite cleric, Moktada al-Sadr....

Despite its new rogue fringe, Iraqi Shiites see the Mahdi militia as their most effective protector against the hostile Sunni groups that have slaughtered Shiites and driven them from their homes. Shiites say that as long as the government cannot keep them safe, they cannot support the disarming of militias.

That paradox confronts the American military as it presses the Iraqi government to contain militias like Mr. Sadr’s: how is it possible to control a militia when trust among Iraqis has vanished and the government is incapable of containing the spiraling violence?
This sounds eerily familiar but I can't quite place it,...

We Answer to the Name of Liberals

Have you seen this? Good stuff,
....The Bush debacle is a direct consequence of its repudiation of liberal principles. And if the country is to recover, we should begin by restating these principles.

We have all opposed the Iraq war as illegal, unwise, and destructive of America's moral standing. This war fueled, and continues to fuel, jihadis whose commitment to horrific, unjustifiable violence was amply demonstrated by the September 11 attacks as well as the massacres in Spain, Indonesia, Tunisia, Great Britain, and elsewhere. Rather than making us safer, the Iraq war has endangered the common security of Americans and our allies.

We believe that the state of Israel has the fundamental right to exist, free of military assault, within secure borders close to those of 1967, and that the U.S. government has a special responsibility toward achieving a lasting Middle East peace. But the Bush administration has defaulted. It has failed to pursue a steady and constructive course. It has discouraged the prospects for an honorable Israeli-Palestinian settlement. It has encouraged Israel's disproportionate attacks in Lebanon after the Hezbollah incursions, resulting in vast destruction of civilian life and property.

Make no mistake: We believe that the use of force can, at times, be justified. We supported the use of American force, together with our allies, in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. But war must remain a last resort. The Bush administration's emphatic reliance on military intervention is illegitimate and counterproductive. It creates unnecessary enemies, degrades the national defense, distracts from actual dangers, and ignores the imperative necessity of building an international order that peacefully addresses the aspirations of rising powers in Asia and Latin America.

There's more -- go read it.

Does torture work?

I've thought a lot about this topic the last several years trying to figure out what I really think about "enhanced interrogation".

Jim Henley sums it up well, the pragmatic reason to oppose torture,
It'’s not that you'’ll never get good information via torture. It'’s that you'’ll never be sure, absent checking and rechecking, whether the information you got was any use. Perhaps I should say, "was true."
Go read Jim's post for an example of what's he talking about.

Another reason to oppose torture is simple that how you act towards your enemies really defines who you as a person, or in this case, as a society.

And finally, there is the reason John McCain opposes torture: We can't ask the rest of the world not to torture our citizens while at the same time we are famously torturing people all over the world.

So take your pick of the reasons, bottom line: Torture is bad.

The Ward Report

I'm not sure than anyone even comes here anymore for obvious reasons. I haven't been posting for a number of reasons, but most significantly because I've just had nothing to say.

There are many great left of center blogs written by pros such that I feel there really is no place left for a blog like this.

My favorites, by the way, are of course Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo (and for those who didn't know, Josh is actually from St Louis, where he was born and spent the first 6 or 7 years of his life) and also Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly.

Josh's coverage of the upcoming election is second to none and Kevin is always the voice of reason on almost every topic.

Of course there are many more blogs worth reading -- too many to name. I assume that at this point those who come here read these other blogs every day and if all I'm doing is just sending people to them, what's the point?

Also, as this election approached I realized I was a little more shell-shocked by the 04 election than I had realized.

Every poll and indicator seems to say that the Dems should retake both the House and Senate albeit by small margins, but I just refuse to believe it. I just can't invest any more into a party that I feel far too often lacks the killer instinct to actually win.

For those of you in Missouri (and actually for those of you not), Claire McCaskill needs your help. I know a lot of you are still pissed at her run for Governor. So am I, but this is about bigger issues than that. It is about the future of our country, and defining who we are as a people. Are we the decidents of The Enlightenment or the Dark Ages?

Since I have this space, and it's free, I'm going to give blogging another go. I don't' think I will be posting anywhere like I was a few years ago, but as thoughts occur to me, I will try to post them.
As always, if you read this and have any thoughts to share, leave a comment or email.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Well, it only took 6 years

Dan Froomkin at the WaPo gets it to,
President Bush's angry nonanswers to two straightforward questions yesterday were among the best illustrations yet of his intense aversion to responding to his critics' actual arguments.

Rather than acknowledge and attempt to rebut the many concerns about his policies, Bush makes up inane arguments and then ridicules them.

"Q Thank you, sir. Even after hearing that one of the major conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate in April was that the Iraq war has fueled terror growth around the world, why have you continued to say that the Iraq war has made this country safer?"


"Some people have guessed what's in the report and have concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree. I think it's naive. I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe."

OK, that's straw-man number one. Nobody I've heard of is suggesting that going on the offense against terrorists is bad. The question at hand is whether going on the offense against Iraq -- which had nothing to do with 9/11 -- made us less safe. By using this absurd straw-man, Bush leaves that issue unaddressed.
So why has this just now become a news item? The practice by Bush dates to before the 2000 election.

Bush continues to chase windmills

David Sanger in today's NYTs,
Mr. Bush has grown increasingly insistent that nothing he has done in Iraq has worsened terrorism. America was not in Iraq during the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, he said, or during the bombings of the U.S.S. Cole or embassies in Africa, or on 9/11.

But that argument steps around the implicit question raised by the intelligence finding: whether postponing the confrontation with Saddam Hussein and focusing instead on securing Afghanistan, or dealing with issues like IranÂ’s nascent nuclear capability or the Middle East peace process, might have created a different playing field, one in which jihadists were deprived of daily images of carnage in Iraq to rally their sympathizers.
The straw man argument is the trademark of this admin and for far too long they've been given a pass on this.

Only recently has journalist started to press the WH for the names of those who make the outlandish claims the POTUS to which the POTUS always responds.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Allen just can't catch a break

And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

I don't know that the voters in VA care about these things, but the mere fact that his campaign must spend so much energy defending against them has to help his opponent.

Allen Denies Using Epithet to Describe Blacks - washingtonpost.com

Green Party out in PA Senate Race

This is good news!

From today's WaPo,
HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 25 -- A judge said Monday that he will remove the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate from the November ballot because the party did not have enough valid signatures in its nominating petitions.

Carl Romanelli's candidacy for the Pennsylvania seat had been challenged by state Democrats. Romanelli's bid was backed by Sen. Rick Santorum (R), who hoped that Romanelli could siphon votes from his Democratic opponent, state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr.
The Green Party candidacy was nothing more than a GOP effort to save Santorum's butt. Looks like they've wasted thousands for naught. Good.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat - New York Times

This should make things interesting.

From today's New York Times,

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

Now, on to Iran!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

U.S. Intelligence Community in a shambles?

Josh Marshall's Talking Points Blog has a great summary of an Australian Newpaper's story on the mess within the United States intelligence gathering. The link above is to the original story. It's a good read and gives a perspective on the US looks to the rest of the world. Remember, Australia is an friend of the USA. It is a good read that deserves your attention and is well worth the few minutes required to read it all.

I don't trust a word from this administration about the issues in the middle east, especially Iran

Friday, September 01, 2006

Dems Put Rummy in Crosshairs

Democrats Target Rumsfeld

So, there is hope yet that the Dems will engage the GOP on national security issues.

I had repeatedly said in the run-up to the last election that the Dems cannot expect the American people to believe the Dems will defend them, when the Dems wouldn't even defend themselves.

The favorite, indeed the only, attack the GOP seems to have is to attack the patriotism of the opposition. Rumsfeld's remarks were outragious and insulting and why should be dignified as anything but?

When this kind of rhetoric is met with only tepid or formal polite responses the actually message to everyone is that of weakness.

Josh got it right earlier this year,
....If you think back to the Swift Boat debacle of 2004, the surface issue was John Kerry's honesty and bravery as a sailor in Vietnam. Far more powerful, however, was the meta-message: George Bush slaps John Kerry around and Kerry either can't or won't hit back. For voters concerned with security and the toughness of their leaders, that's a devastating message -- and one that has little or nothing to do with the truth of the surface charges. Someone who can't fight for himself certainly can't fight for you. At the time I called it the "Republicans' bitch-slap theory of electoral politics."
In the face of Rummy recent attack on the patriotism all those that disagree with him, the Dems reaction should have been equally has harsh. I personally find nothing more insulting than someone who attacks my patriotism.

The response of every Dem should have been along these lines:
Donald Rumsfeld remarks before the American Legion are the outrageous lies a man who wouldn't know the truth if it bit him on the bottom. How dare he question the patriotism of any American who points out the obvious: he is a miserable failure whose lies and disastrous policies have cost our country dearly in blood and treasure.
He, whose reaction to foreign attacks on our liberty and way of life is to immediately demand the suspension of the very liberties that hundreds of thousand of brave soldiers and citizens have fought and died to defend since the founding of our great nations. The very liberties that define us as a people and great civilization.

How dare he question the patriotism of any American!

Donald Rumsfeld is a scurrilous coward and a liar who should immediatly resign!

And if Mr. Rumsfeld is offended by this response, he knows where he can find use.
But, it appears we will have to settle for this from this mornings WaPo,

In Rumsfeld, Democrats believe they have found both a useful antagonist and a stand-in for President Bush and what they see as his blunders in Iraq. This week, Democrats interpreted a speech of his as equating critics of the war in Iraq to appeasers of Adolf Hitler, an interpretation that Pentagon spokesman Eric Ruff disputed. But Democrats said the hyperbolic attack would backfire.

But even before that, Democrats and some Republicans had maintained that Bush has never held anyone in his administration accountable for decisions in the Iraq war that many military analysts say went disastrously wrong. The decisions include not mobilizing enough troops to keep the peace, disbanding the entire Iraqi army and purging all members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party -- including teachers and low-level technocrats -- from the Iraqi government.

Rather than change the subject to domestic issues, as they have tried in past years, Democrats are hoping to confront Republicans head-on.

"We will not be Swift-boated on this issue," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in an interview, alluding to the assault by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on the Vietnam war record of Democratic candidate John F. Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign. "We will fight them on national security."

Front and center of that campaign may be the attack on Rumsfeld. Some Democratic House candidates, such as Diane Farrell in Connecticut's 4th District, have been encouraging Democratic leaders to move formally for a vote of no confidence. And party leadership aides said they are canvassing Democratic members of Congress and exploring the parliamentary mechanism to do so. Before the move is set, the aides said, they want to hear from Democrats in tough races who may feel that the move would leave them vulnerable to Republican attacks.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


What was the WaPo thinking running this story on the front page?
....Bush suggested last week that Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war. Vice President Cheney this week said critics "claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone." And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that "many have still not learned history's lessons" and "believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased."

Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone. But White House and Republican officials said those are logical interpretations of the most common Democratic position favoring a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.