Saturday, April 8


A KOS must-read.

Senator John Kerry made a slashing attack on the Bush administration yesterday, comparing it to the faltering government in Iraq and equating its war strategy with its planning for Hurricane Katrina, while also invoking Jesus as he criticized federal Medicaid policy. [...]

"The Bush administration is wondering when Iraq will have a functioning government. I want to know when we're going to have a functioning government," Mr. Kerry said, according to a transcript of his remarks.

Ouch. Those are fighting words. Senator Kerry continued by laying out "a little 10-point plan":

Tell the truth. Fire the incompetents. Find Osama bin Laden and secure our ports and our homeland. Bring our troops home from Iraq. Obey the law and protect our civil rights," Mr. Kerry said in ticking off his list, which also included supporting health care, education, lobbying reform and alternatives to oil, as well as reducing the deficit.
I tell you one thing I know well, and I'll remind the Senator from Colorado, half the names on the wall of that Vietnam Memorial, half the names on that wall became names of the dead after our leaders knew our policy wouldn't work. Well, our policy isn't working today, and I'm not going to be a United States Senator who adds to the next wall wherever it may be put that honors those who served in Iraq so that once again people point to a bunch of names that are added after we knew something was wrong. We have a bigger responsibility than that.

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Other presidents have been content to preside over a weapons buildup without feeling any temptation to actually use them. Not Dubya. He reminds me of a child who, with nothing else to DO, just can't resist unwrapping hidden-away presents and playing with them.

Bush just keeps escalating world tensions like a kid with attention deficit hyperactive disorder who agitates everyone around him to a peak anger and/or frustration simply because he has to fill every moment with excitement or suffer the boredom of the damned.

The burning fear of the nuclear age has been, "What if someone insane or irresponsible got their hand on the button?"

We just may find out. God help us all.

UPDATE: Born At The Crest Of Empire has more.

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This vision of uninhibited executive power is damaging both in practice and in principle. Lack of respect for the rules has colored his entire administration, leading to abuses at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere. Lack of respect for the truth has demoralized the U.S. intelligence community and led to numerous flawed decisions.

The violation of principle may do damage that is more far-reaching. The United States is at war in Iraq in the defense of democracy, yet the policies of the president have destroyed the credibility of the United States as a proponent of democracy. Actual torture is bad, just as actual spying and lying are bad. But Bush compounds that damage by clinging to legal justifications, suggesting that he doesn't believe in democracy at all. For him to argue that he can spy, leak, torture and imprison as he pleases is to put himself forward, not as the president of a real democracy, but as a strongman in the mold of Hosni Mubarak or Vladimir Putin.

The people of Iraq and other struggling nations are not going to listen to lessons about democracy from a hypocrite who says one thing and practices another. Respect for the law is what distinguishes democracies from the autocratic regimes that are the norm in many places. People in Iraq and elsewhere are used to hearing platitudes about democracy as they are carted off to jail. Richard Nixon's downfall was brought about because of the activities of his plumbers, a secret unit whose mission was to plug leaks. It is rueful irony that Bush now has been named as the master of the leaks in his administration. It is scorn for the truth and an affinity for secret dealing that has been the undoing of both.


Ted Kennedy seems to think that Harry Reid went too far in negotiations with Senate Republicans over a compromise immigration bill.

From what I've been able to read, the Hagel-Martinez compromise sounds like an acceptable solution. But Reid's primary concerns (1. that allowing unlimited amendments by dozens of Republicans who fiercely oppose the bill would likely gut it; and 2. that a guaranteed bipartisan committee should be appointed to work on reconciliation with the House version) are the result of five years of experience with Republicans shutting Dems out of the process, and demonstrate Harry's realistic assessment of how the Rethugs work and a healthy skepticism about their promises.

"I think politics got in front of policy on the issue here, and there's plenty of blame to go around," Kennedy said. "I know there were some members of my caucus who wanted more assurances. My own sense is that it would have ultimately happened."

Hey Ted, Harry's politics are an attempt to PROTECT the policy. You should know better than to trust Bill Frist an inch. We've had five years of Rethuglican assurances, and they're vaporware. Now we want guarantees.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum says the same thing, in more detail.

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I had lunch with a Republican businessman friend of mine today. We always get to the subject of politics even though ours are so different. He's brilliant, a Mensa freak, a really good person and active in Republican and intellectual circles (he hosts a monthly salon at a local sushi place where the likes of former city council members, activists of diverse organizations, and regular people meet to discuss topics like RACE). But he's a Republican. I always find conversations with him extremely enlightening.

Illegal Immigration. He thinks the McCain-Kennedy bill looks like a decent solution. But he's not hot on the topic. I can understand why. He's big on outsourcing jobs to foreign countries (in his case, South Africa). He travels the world and thinks globally. [That makes me think of a related subject. I'm old enough to remember that the GOP used to be the party of isolationism, while Democrats promoted international cooperation. Now the Rethugs want to sell the country to foreigners as long as they make the profits on the sale.]

He heard a woman arguing against the breakup of families in the form of shipping undocumented parents out while their U.S. citizen children remain here. That's bogus, he says. The families of criminals are always affected by their actions. Dads or moms go to jail and are separated from their kids. He thinks the bestowing of citizenship by virtue of birth on U.S. soil needs to be changed. He tells me of a practice that is being increasingly commonplace among South Koreans: a couple books a vacation to the U.S. during a woman's third trimester so she can give birth here and give her child U.S. citizenship, and then they don't go home, they stay here. He thinks children should be given citizenship only if at least one parent is a legal resident. That seems reasonable to me.

(You know, if I didn't listen to broadcast news and talk I'd never know that illegal immigration was THE hot topic now. I haven't heard it brought up in conversation at work or play by anyone, right or left, until this.)

The Massachusetts Health Care Act. He watched a show with Mitt Romney explaining the program, and it sounds pretty good to him except for one big thing. He has a problem with the state requiring everyone to have health insurance. It's a slippery slope, he points out. What other things could the state require of its citizens?

Iraq. The war has gone on way too long and cost way too much. He laughs embarrassedly and turns a little pink. Who would have thought...? I don't answer because I know what he's thinking. Before the war we sat at exactly that same table on the patio at Avanti as I explained my reasons for opposing the war. His unspoken thought is, "YOU thought it, didn't you?"

Tom DeLay and the "Culture of Corruption." Thank goodness he resigned so a decent Republican can take the seat. Campaign finance reform is a joke. The lobbyists are the problem. There's a legitimate role for lobbyists, but it's been distorted and needs to be redefined and codified.

Do you approve of the president's job performance? I've been wanting to know the makeup of that hard-core 36% who support the president. So here goes. Pretend I'm an AP pollster. "Do you approve of the job performance of the president?" Well, he says, I approve of a lot of the things he's done and I don't approve of others. Answer the question, I say, just as it's asked. Yes or no. Well then, I suppose I'd have to say no, he speaks quietly. All right then. But I wouldn't vote Democrat either. Ouch.

GOP Candidate Prospects. He didn't know who Sen. George Allen was. And he watches Fox News and listens to right-wing talk radio!

Said Condi Rice would be his first choice to run for president, but he knows she won't because she's gay. How do you know THAT? I exclaimed. I've always thought she had a huge crush on Dubya! That's just smoke and mirrors, he replied. Everyone knows she always travels with a female State Department official who's her not-so-secret lover. Gossip, I scoff. I oppose her because she's an ineffective, lying failure who's given cover to the most irresponsible president in history. Its just like Harriet Miers, my friend continues. Harriet MIERS is gay? I choke out. Okay, she's local. Do you know that for a fact? Well, he said, it was told to me by a close friend of hers so yes, I'd say I have no doubts about it. In fact, he went on, I wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't the strategy when Bush appointed her, to scare the jizzims out of the base by threatening to put the first gay justice on the court so that whatever friend-of-big-business he picked next would get an easy ride in. I don't quite get that, but we've just rolled in to the parking lot at my office.

Friday, April 7


Buck at Bad Attitudes has posted a link to a video of an Eliot Spitzer speech. Here's how Buck describes it:

Spitzer starts speaking about one hour and fourty-five minutes into the program, so skip through the other speakers to get to see one of our next Presidents speaking to ordinary people.

..and remember Spitzer’s famous words said about the Republicans:

"No party has ever done so much for so few who need so little."

Sounds like a good anti-slogan for the Democrats to me.

(It reminds me of a phrase I coined a few months ago. Discussing a company that over the past 6-7 years has declined from being #1 in its industry to #4, I said, "Never have so many been paid so much to take a company down." Now everyone who talks about the company's prospects, at some point in the conversation, will say, "Never have so many...")

You know, in advertising we often use the technique of "showing the pain of a bad decision." Don't just list the benefits of Tylenol, remind consumers that they'll damage their stomachs if they take aspirin instead. Don't just say, "We're a really reputable roofer," tell consumers how many of them have been ripped off by fly-by-night contractors and how much money those people have lost, how their homes were ruined, etc. It's remarkably effective, and it's been a mainstay of Republican branding for years. It drove the Willie Horton ads of George H.W. Bush -- vote Dukakis and we'll have murderers getting off and raping and murdering their way across America!" It's driven all of Dubya's campaigning since 9/11 -- vote Democratic and you'll get terrorists blowing up every school, church and mall in the country. Vote Democratic and gays, atheists and abortionists will destroy our families and make us pledge allegiance to the ACLU.

Democratic consultants are constantly urging our politicos to "present a plan," but the fact is, in our current sound-byte environment, a comprehensive plan gets boiled down to a few short bullet points. We have to do it, but it's not going to get Dems elected to Congress and it won't get a Dem elected president in 2008. Instead, we need to be hard-hitting in our advertising -- if you vote for Rethugs, you'll get more of the same:

(1) gross incompetence -- an utter lack of ability to govern or administer ANYTHING;
(2) instead of a few wacko terrorists hating us and plotting against us, we now have half the world doing so;
(3) all war all the time -- i.e., more and more bodybags;
(4) an economy that only works for the rich -- e.g., declining real wages, jobs instability, skyrocketing costs of living (including healthcare), a shrinking middle class.

Speaking about the new AP-IPSOS poll, GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said, "the good news is Democrats don’t have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one.”

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Thursday, April 6



Can't something be done about this woman?

Sean Hannity, the king of changing the subject every time he can use it to his own advantage, hypocritically said “I love how we’re doing a segment on Al Gore and it becomes a referendum on Ann Coulter’s views on liberals. I find that pretty entertaining.”

“I’m more powerful and influential,” Coulter claimed.

That's like Paris Hilton saying she's more powerful and influential than Steven Spielberg. In other words, a fringe player in the business (Ann:government/politics = Paris:film industry) has gained fame (infamy?) and fortune by virtue of long blond hair, an anorexic body with boobs, and a facility for using her eyes and moves to enslave the minds of men who should know better and those who don't. The result, tragically, is that she, the dilettante, acquires power and influence to an extent that it can be compared to that of the most prominent and respected among their chosen field (e.g., Gore and Spielberg).

What a horrible reflection on our current culture.

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Didn't we always know or at least suspect that it went to the top?

President George W. Bush authorized disclosure of classified information on Iraq's weapons program to rebut war critics, a former top administration aide told a grand jury, according to documents filed in federal court.

The documents filed by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald don't allege the president authorized aides to divulge the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose naming in a July 2003 newspaper column prompted a Justice Department investigation. The court papers also don't suggest Bush violated any rule or law governing the handling of classified material.

The document describes federal grand jury testimony by Vice President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, who was indicted last October of charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to FBI agents investigating the Plame case. Libby has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Libby testified that Cheney ``advised him that the president had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions'' of a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's pursuit of nuclear weapons to former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, the court filing says.
Libby ``testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was `pretty definitive' against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the vice president thought it was `very important' for the key judgments of the NIE to come out,'' Fitzgerald wrote in the document, a motion filed in response to Libby's request for government documents for his defense.
Bush acted under a 1995 executive order governing the distribution of classified information that was signed by then- President Bill Clinton and modified by Bush in March 2003.

The order essentially made it easier for the government to keep classified documents from the public eye as well as authorizing declassification of information. The modification signed by Bush extended to the authority to the vice president.

It appears that Dubya didn't do anything illegal; he can classify info and he can declassify it at will. But I don't think the American people will take this favorably in light of his oft-expressed indignation at government whistleblowers who leak to journalists.

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Tuesday, April 4


[Editor's note: It must be noted that DeLay sported his Botox-like grin throughout the interview. That must take some training and practice, maintaining that spooky smile. Eeewwww.]

CM: What one reason would you give for your resignation?

TD: The Repulican majority. I worked a long time to build that, to help build it.

CM: Did you bet too much on the Party?

TD: No, I believe in the party. it's the party that will advance the conservative cause.

[Editor's note: Does it sometimes strike you that movement conservatives sound exactly like "true believers" -- e.g., communists, fascists, religious fanatics. "I pledge allegiance to the Party, and to the republic for which it stands; one exclusive Party, speaking for God, with a permanent majority in order to rule all."]

CM: Why wasn't the Pres more flattering when he announced your retirement? He quotes Bush's tepid acknowledgement of DeLay's resignation.

TD: (He looks really gratified, jubilant.) I thought he was very gracious on the phone. I was very proud of what he said. The Veep was very gracious on the phone. I think they have a little sadness about me leaving, but at the same time they're not shocked. They know I can do more outside the House than locked in a reelection campaign in Sugar Land, TX.

CM: Texas pastor Rick Scarorough said of you, "God always does his best work after a crucifixion." He said you were brought down by your faith.

TD: Those remarks were taken out of context. He's a great friend, and he understands what I've been through. My faith has been strengthened after these attacks. My faith in the Lord is stronger than ever.

I was a target of Dems for many reasons. We changed the culture of this town.

[Whoo boy! Changed it from a culture of "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow" to "Yesterday..."]

We changed the country, we changed the world. Dems hate that. They hate that what they believe in has been rejected by American voters. Hate that we did what we said we would do, turn the country back from 40 years of Dem control.

They just hate it and they zeroed in on me and announced publicly that they were going to destroy me personally, destroy my character.

[I don't think he meant to say that. No one can destroy another's character; only the possessor has that ability. In DeLay's case, I believe it's a case of "destroy my reputation, which is only the public perception that I have a good character, which I don't, as evidenced by the proof that I'm a rules-bending, law-breaking, greedy, manipulating power-mad politico."]

CM: There's a contradiction in your last statement. You said earlier you were fearful of losing another Repub seat. If you guys won your cultural battle, why are you concerned that the Dems would take back Congress?

TD: Every seat is precious to the Republican majority and this one is to my constituents. They deserve a Republican representing them, not a Democrat.

CM: Supoena power. What if the Democrats gain control of the House and Waxman, Conyers got control of it? Will they go after the President?

TD: Sure. They've been after him forever.

CM: You believe they'd try to impeach him?

TD: Of course they will.

They'll try to go for his head. More reasonable Dems will try to stop it, but you've gotta know these people. Conyers is the left of the left. They'll try to reverse every thing that we've done. I wanted, before the end of my career, to end abortion as we know it. But maybe I'll be able to do more on the outside.

CM: How can you do more outside the government?

TD: I have a lot of friends in the conservative movement who value my talents and listen to me. I think I can help unify that movement. I actually envy the Democrats because they work together. [All kinds of leftist movements] work together on this or that. We Republicans are fractured and always have been, mainly because we are individualists.

[Editor's note: Oh that's such a hoot I can't let it pass without mention. I usually don't comment on the obvious; my few (discriminating!) readers don't need me to point out what is evident on the surface. But this is one of those silly statements that are so often uttered by wingnuts ("We never indulge in personal attacks!") INDIVIDUALISTS? FRACTURED? After four years of near lock-step unity? Who on earth do you think you are fooling? I suppose it's evidence that DeLay, at least, believes Chris' audience is the 25% of Americans who get all their information from Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.]

CM: When you won't be able to offer government appointments, direct campaign contributions, etc.? What can you do on the outside that enforces your will? You won't be The Hammer any more.

TD: I never was a hammer. Because Dems use those kinds of methods, they assumed I did. I use the "row the boat" method.

[Editor's note: Oops, here comes my daughter needing help with her term paper. Darn. What's the "row the boat" method?]

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Monday, April 3


Remember the roars of laughter from the wingnuts when AirAmerica was launched? Now just two years old, the progressive radio network is doing very well and is seeking to buy its own radio stations.

Anita and Sheldon Drobny, two of the founders of Air America Radio, are taking the next step to ensure that liberal programming stays on the air: obtaining radio stations.

The couple has announced plans to begin buying or leasing radio stations across the United States through their new company, Nova M Radio.
Air America programming is broadcast on 89 stations around the country. Sheldon Drobny said Nova M planned to acquire control of 20 to 25 stations in its first year and he said he thought the number could grow to more than 100 stations in three years.

I, for one, look for reasons to leave the office during the afternoon so I can hear a bit of Ed Schulz. And thank goodness for Randi Rhodes who drives home with me and consoles me that there are signs of intelligence on the radio again (you should have seen Lou Dobbs totally fall for Randi a couple of weeks ago!). Kudos also to Sam and Al and Janeane and Jerry and the whole gang.


Sunday, April 2


Liveblogging Anthony Zinni on MTP:

We are paying a price for lack of credible planning, or the lack of a plan, or throwing 10 years of planning away, in effect; for getting distracted from Afghanistan and the war on terror; for rejecting the advice we were given.

We can’t let Iraq fall apart. It is part of a whole myriad of issues we have re stability in the ME. We have to get this government to form a unity government. We have to make a decision on the militias – they’re part of the problem.

It’s a classic insurgency. We haven’t given the people a reason to turn against them. We’ve wasted three years here. We let all these snakes come out.

Disturbing parallels to Vietnam. The little successes aren’t solidified into a national plan, a strategic set of policies coming from Washington and Baghdad.

The American media is being made a scapegoat for what’s going on over there. Journalists killed, kidnapped. Hard to blame them for not telling good stories when security is such that they risk their lives to go out to get those good stories.

Lying, incompetence and corruption. Yes, I saw it all. Spin, cherry-picking facts, use of metaphors, walking away from 10 years of planning, lack of cohesive approach to aftermath, belief in these un-credible exiles, a series of disastrous mistakes. Rice said “tactical mistakes,” no they were strategic mistakes, policy mistakes that were made back here.

Rumsfeld should resign, to begin with. Those responsible for the non-planning, those that stood by, they shoul be held accountable. Those in power now find their time must be spent defending the past, rewriting history.

Every president in history has held people accountable, Lincoln went through every general until he found Grant, when MacArthur screwed up, he was dismissed.

I never saw any solid proof that Saddam had WMD, sure he had some leftovers but over time these degrade. We were watching Saddam with an army that had caved in. He was at our mercy. To say that this threat was grave and gathering seemed preposterous to me. To say he wasn’t contained is an insult to all our forces that did just that for ten years. The containment worked remarkably well and was a tribute to our troops how they handled it.


ThinkProgress has the transcript.

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Condi Rice admits to "thousands of mistakes" in Iraq.

"I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them, I'm sure," Dr Rice told a gathering of 200 foreign policy experts, local officials and journalists organised by the Chatham House foreign policy institute.
"This could have gone that way, or that could have gone that way. But when you look back in history, what will be judged is did you make the right strategic decision."

"If you spend all of your time trying to judge this tactical issue or that tactical issue, I think you miss the larger sweep."

Condi later explained her surprising statement:

"First of all, I meant it figuratively, not literally. Let me be very clear about that. I wasn't sitting around counting," she replied. "The point I was making to the questioner ... is that, of course, if you've ever made decisions, you've undoubtedly made mistakes.

"The important thing is to get the big strategic decisions right, and that I am confident that the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein and give the Iraqi people an opportunity for peace and for democracy is the right decision."

"The other point I was making to the questioner is that I'm enough of a historian to know that things that looked brilliant at the moment turn out in historical perspective to be mistakes, and the things that look like mistakes turn out to have been right decisions."

I heard the following reactions to those statements today on TV news shows,

Evan Bayh (on Wolf Blitzer's Late Edition): "They were for candor before they were against candor. She should have stuck to her original statement."

Zinni: Spin, cherry-picking facts, use of metaphors, walking away from 10 years of planning, lack of cohesive approach to aftermath, belief in these un-credible exiles, a series of disastrous mistakes. Rice said “tactical mistakes,” no they were strategic mistakes, policy mistakes that were made back here.

I also heard excerpts from an interview of Condi on BBC (Jonathan Dimbleby was the interviewer). I'd forgotten what aggressive questioning from the press was like. It's such a missing element in American journalism these days.

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Timmeh didn’t give John McCain a hall pass this morning. I had distractions, but I got this much.

It got pretty good when he turned to McCain’s presidential aspirations. He quoted James Pinkerton, EJ Dionne and Washington Times pieces questioning whether the “straight-talking maverick” Republican is performing his own flip-flops to further his ambitions. Refers to the ugly attacks on McCain in the race for the Rethuglican presidential nomination in 2000. Now he's embracing Bush, after refusing to say to Tim way back when that Dubya ran an honorable campaign?

McCain says he doesn’t believe Bush was behind the offensive things done in campaign 2000. He points out that he supported Bush as president of the U.S. in 2000. He disagreed with Dubya on several issues and still does, but the transcending issue in 2004 was who was best equipped to run the war on terror, and that's why he campaigned for Bush.

Little Russ says you flipped on tax cuts, said we should teach Intelligent Design in our schools, now you’re giving the commencement address at Liberty University. In 2000 you said Jerry Falwell was an “agent of intolerance,” lumped him with Louis Farrakhan and Pat Robertson. Do you still believe he is an agent of intolerance?

McCain wants to back up. Yes, he voted against Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy before he voted for them. But now the tax cuts are there, so to vote not to extend them would be a tax increase, and he’s never voted for a tax increase in his life … except (crosstalk, lost it). He declares, I do things because they’re right. Re Falwell, we agreed to disagree on certain issues and to move forward. Speaking at Liberty is no different from the other colleges I speak at, I’m pleased to speak to young people. I speak at Ivy League colleges, but I disagree with their attempts to bar military recruiting on campus.

Tim asks, do you now think Jerry Falwell’s ideas are good for the GOP?

I believe the Christian right has a right to speak, it’s an important part of the GOP, because they’re so active.

Tim repeats, do you believe Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?

No, I don’t.

Are you concerned that McCain the straight-talking maverick is trying to make himself more appealing to the GOP base?

I take positions I believe in, my credibility stands on that, most Americans will judge me by my record as a whole.

Tim thanks McCain for his appearance.

“I haven’t had so much fun since my last interrogation,” McCain retorted.

I'll bet. The man came off as a wanker, a waffler, a man whose presidential ambitions are such that he'll ride the tiger's tail just to get a chance to replace him. Where's the uber-patriot now?

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