Thursday, November 30, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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?
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.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
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.
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.
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
conveniently before the next election.
Maliki wants us out, but we don't want to go,...
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 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.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.
With 91 percent of the state's precincts reporting, 55 percent opposed the abortion ban while 45 percent supported it.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
The Dems don't lose any seats, and the GOP holds Frist's seat in TN with Corker and Kyl's seat in AZ.
Well, I guess they get credit for admitting they did it.
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.
Monday, November 06, 2006
I just can't help but think this is yet another missed opportunity to have blown the GOP dirty tricks up in their face.
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.
Does anyone agree with me on this? I feel like I'm the only one critical of the Dems lack of response.
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.
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
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
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 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
JOHN BOEHNER: Let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld.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?
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.
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.
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
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.