Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I keep telling you...

...that a premium subscription to Salon is a worthy investment, and today's interview with John Dean is just one more piece of evidence that I'm right.

Back in Watergate days (ahh, nostalgia!), Dick Gregory had a line in his act along the lines of "I don't know if John Dean's telling the truth, but if he ain't, he sure do lie pretty!"

Turns out John Dean was telling the truth all along, of course, and he still is. Here's just a taste of the truth he told Salon.

" every area one looks, Bush and Cheney are more secretive than Nixon ever imagined being."

"There has never been a vice president -- ever (and even including Spiro Agnew who was Nixon's) -- who needed to be investigated more than Cheney."

"Cheney knows how to play Bush so that Cheney is absolutely no threat to him, makes him feel he is president, but Bush can't function without a script, or without Cheney. Bush is head of state; Cheney is head of government."

"Decisions in the Bush White House are made not based on what is best for the public interest, rather what will get the president the most mileage with his base, and best political advantage."

"Colson, on the other hand, was as nasty a political operative as could be found...Karl Rove, from what I've seen, makes Colson look like a novice."

"No one died because of the abuses of power known as Watergate. Too many have died (and more in the future may) because of the abuses of power by this presidency. That's why their abuses are worse than Watergate."

Buy a sub or sit through the ad, but don't miss the whole thing.

Sounds wacky to me.

"Let's cut income taxes by 10 percent and finance it with a 50-cent-per-gallon hike in the gasoline tax … Cutting income taxes while increasing gasoline taxes would lead to more rapid economic growth, less traffic congestion, safer roads, and reduced risk of global warming -- all without jeopardizing long-term fiscal solvency. This may be the closest thing to a free lunch that economics has to offer."

John Kerry? Nope, Bush economic advisor Gregory Mankiw.

Guess wacky is who wacky hires...

(tip of the Upper Left oil patch gimme cap to War Room '04)

I could write the ads in my sleep...

...and I'm sure the Republican media weasels are sharpening their pens with glee.

This is the kind of stuff that turns into "Joe Democrat voted against our troops!" ads all across the country. The DCCC blog, The Stakeholder, reports that "Not a single Democrat voted for the GOP Budget resolution which was pretty close to Bush's request." The Republicans would like you to stop right there. But wait, there's more!

"A big part of the reason why we stood against it is that the GOP budget funds Veteran's Affairs by $1.3 billion LESS than what the House Veteran's Affairs Committee requested and $2 billion less than what groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion have pressed for."

That's right. It was a vote against shortchanging our veterans. The Republican ad copy won't say so, though, and they're counting on the ignorance of the American people. That's why it's important to be informed, and important to engage your friends and neighbors in discussion of who's really doing what in the government.

This kind of thing is the source of the ads running against Kerry, claiming he doesn't support a strong defense, or advocates some irrational tax. It's not true, but it doesn't matter. Our opponents are liars. They're lying about Kerry, they're going to lie about every Democratic candidate for every office, and it's up to us to stop them with the only weapon that can beat them.

The truth.

I guess it's not a flip-flop...

...if you just lie about what you said before.

While John Kerry gets accused of such sinister mind crimes as having second thoughts, or changing his views when new evidence is revealed, or even recognizing that there may be more than one side to some issues, George Bush isn't troubled by that kind of petty nuance.

Citing a piece in The Economist, Political Wire explains it all for you.

"This debate over image and inconsistency tells you something profound about the candidates. When Mr Bush reverses himself (in abandoning his promise to run a 'humble' foreign policy, for instance) he does so boldly, almost spectacularly. There is no attempt to explain the shift. One set of principles succeeds another, as if the earlier views never existed."

In other words, if you ignore the truth, it will just go away. Helluva principle for governance, huh?

Good catch, bad news

Tom Brown, blogging for the Seattle Times, noticed this item buried in a story about the plans for Condi Rice and the Bush/Cheney tag team to appear before the 9/11 commission.

“U.S. officials told NBC News that the full record of Clarke’s testimony two years ago would not be declassified. They said that at the request of the White House, however, the CIA was going through the transcript to see what could be declassified, with an eye toward pointing out contradictions .”

So that's the response to Clarke's call to open the record and clear the air. The CIA has been ordered to sift the transcripts, not on the basis of what can be declassified without national security risk, but what can be found for Bushco political advantage.

If you ask me, it's a scandal.

Good luck to 'em...

...even if I'm not invited to the party.

In fairness, the new home of liberal talk, Air America Radio, is apparently webcasting, but the antique technology I pound this thing out on is little more than a typewriter with a slow modem, so that's not an effective way to reach me. Frankly, I'm a little suprised they couldn't find some airspace in Seattle, but they probably figure we're all broadband equipped up here in Jim McDermott's Congressional district.

At any rate, if you're within the signal strength of any of these stations, tune in, and if you hear something real good, let me know...

New York, NY — WLIB 1190 AM
Los Angeles, CA — KBLA 1580 AM
Chicago, IL — WNTD 950 AM
Portland, OR — KPOJ 620 AM
Inland Empire, CA — KCAA 1050 AM
XM Satellite Radio — Channel 167

Just a reminder...

...that it's the last day of Q104, meaning that the Kerry campaign (or any other federal campaign you're supporting this year) has to report it's fundraising through this date, and the number will be widely reported and either critically or favorably reviewed.

There's still time to make those reviews more favorable, and if you choose to support the Kerry campaign through my Kerry Core page, you can click here and secure my great appreciation, along with the personal satisfaction that comes from doing the right thing.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Work hard, fight back and...

Sheesh. To hear some people talk, you'd think John Kerry had ordered Swiss cheese on a steak sandwich, or slipped behind Al Sharpton in the polls...

Of course, those of us that have been with the campaign for a year or so well remember the foreboding that accompanied both of those events, and many more that have occured over the months. While there seems to be a sense that Kerry just strolled into the nomination, there was, in fact, a long and hard battle that preceded the Iowa Surprise (and yes, it was a surprise - a shock, even). For months, every news item was a political obituary, every MeetUp brought forth a chorus of "Why doesn't the campaign (you fill in the blank). From the February '03 DNC meeting, where Howard Dean stole the show while Kerry was fighting cancer, to the eve of the Iowa caucus, we were a small but hardy band, often shaken in our confidence, but with a candidate who made suffering the disparagement of our odds somehow worthwhile.

And now it's all coming around again, from some of out longtime compatriots and many of our new found friends. Kos worries that the Kerry campaign will "...let the Bush campaign regain its composure." The Left Coaster demands that it's time to "Get a running mate, get the Tier Two operation with a political killer and surrogates going now..." Atrios warns that "...if the Dems can't get their media operation in place they're going to have big troubles." Everyone everywhere seems to be watching the early national polls, judging November prospects on the basis of March numbers that are swinging within the MOE.

Now, those are all valid concerns, to one degree or another. The campaign does need to be aggressive. Attacks require response, and Bushco's got to be held to account for their own liabilities. It's always better to be ahead than behind, even when the date is early and the margin statistically irrelevant. There's every reason, though, based on his political history and on the incredible come from behind effort waged in the primary contest, to believe that John Kerry is a candidate equal to the task, and that he has assembled a team capable of managing the effort.

Let's take a look at a few key concerns:

1. Fighting back - Basically, I agree with The Gadflyer's Sean Aday. While the handwringers were fretting about Kerry's crooked liars 'gaffe', Aday reminded us that "... he had a biker's brawling attitude. Because what's been lost in the press coverage are the sentences before he uttered the words "crooked" and "liars." Told by the workers to "tell it like it is" and "keep smiling," Kerry responded, "We're going to keep pounding, let me tell you. We're just beginning to fight here."

In fact, I think Kerry relishes the fight. No one likes dirty politics, but some people thrive on hard politics, and John Kerry seems to be one of those people. For all the talk about his 'patrician' or 'Senatorial' style, time and time again he's come out and given as good as he's taken, and a little more. Enough more to be where he is right now, which is where at least nine other Democrats wanted to be, some of them considerably lest than genteel.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the lengths Bushco is willing to go to in this campaign, or the skill they will apply to the task. It would be a mistake, too, to overestimate them. As Ann Lewis, a pretty tough operative in her own right, put it "...repeat after me: These guys are not so smart. We can do this. Bring It On."

2. The polls: Stephanie Cutter speaks sooth. "What is surprising is that after $28 million in negative, misleading ads (by Bush), that the race is neck-and-neck." And that was $28 million that the Bush campaign had no intention of dropping this early against a candidate who has demostrated his own ability to raise money at a million dollar a day pace. In fact, the only real message from the polls is that this race is even at the starting gate, and thanks to the early nomination decision by Democrats, the starting gate has been pulled back far enough to insure that the Kerry campaign will have time to refuel before the final lap. As Terry Lierman, a Montgomery County Democrat and Kerry fundraiser, told the Washington Post, ""I have no doubt in my mind John Kerry can raise between $80 million and $100 million. In my career I have never seen people join together this fast and furious." Over time, that will make a big difference in the national polling, and there is, in fact, plenty of time.

More importantly, the campaign is doing well in several battleground states, well enough that the tracking being done at Running The Numbers, which is based on relatively conservative assumptions, show that in an election held today, Kerry would have an electoral college margin of 307 to 231. In other words, in the metrics that really count, as opposed to the metrics that make headlines, this thing is going just fine, so far.

3. The pace: We made an early decision. We are facing a long campaign. As tempting as it is to think that we need to be balls to the wall all day every day, we're nominating a human being, not a super hero. Kerry needed his vacation this month, and he'll probably need another one along the way. He can afford it, and we all have to keep a grip. It's going to be awhile before there's enough money in the coffers to match Bush ad for ad in major markets, but the money is coming. Polls will ebb and flow, negatives will rise and fall, apprehension will set in and elation will suddenly appear. It's just going to be a very long, hard slog to victory.

Don't get too hung up in the day to day spin. Remember, if you're reading this, or any political blog, at this stage, you're a hack or a geek, not an ordinary citizen at all. They'll be along to play with us in a few months, and then this will get really fun, because, as David Wade said on behalf of the campaign, "All we have to do in this race is tell the truth, while the Republicans have to cover up their falsehoods. When we get back out there, the real question will be, what are George Bush and Karl Rove going to do when we hold them accountable for what they've done in the last four years?"

What are they going to do? Why, they're going to lose, of course.

So work hard, fight back, and Don't Panic!

Updating the Scandal Scorecard update

It's a never ending task with Bushco at the helm. This isn't exactly a new issue, but a new investigation earns it a place on the list.

Via the DCCC blog, The Stakeholder:

"NEW YORK, March 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Newsweek has learned that the General Accounting Office, Congress's investigative arm, is opening a probe into the Iraqi National Congress, led by controversial financier Ahmad Chalabi, and its use of U.S. government money received in 2001 and 2002. The issue under scrutiny is not whether Chalabi prodded America into a war on false pretenses; it is whether he used U.S. taxpayer dollars and broke U.S. laws or regulations to do so...

Well, sure. It's obvious that he prodded America into a war on false pretenses (although Buscho didn't need much prodding, and they wouldn't know a false premise from a real one if it slapped them upside the head). But the question of how much he finagled from the treasury while doing it is a very good one.

So, the only question is, does this go in the Executive Branch or the Congressional column? Or is it a two-fer?

Poor Billmon...

The Whisky Bar was down for a day and he succumbed to the digital withdrawal DTs...

"It gave me a chance to check out this place I've heard about called "outside" -- no screens, no keyboards, no fluorescent lights, just this enormously high blue ceiling with bits of fluffy white insulation sticking out of it, and a huge incandescent light bulb plugged in somewhere up near the top. Plus the shaggiest green shag rug I've ever seen, with all these big twisted wooden things sticking up out of it -- cubicle partitions, or something like that, I don't know..."

I don't know either, but it sounds like a scary place to me. Any of you ever seen it?

Bushco Caves

From the Washington Post:

"President Bush reversed himself this morning and authorized national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify in public and under oath before an independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House announced.

Bush capitulated on a second point and said he and Vice President Cheney will appear in one joint, private session with all 10 of the commissioners, backing off his previous demand that questioning be conducted only by Chairman Thomas H. Kean and Vice Chairman Lee H. Hamilton."

"...Bush reversed himself..." That's like a flip-flop, right?

And in many ways, the second point is a bigger story than the lede. Condi's not goint to tell us anything we don't know, really. Her story is pretty much set, and a little thing like an oath isn't likely to make her more forthcoming. A full panel hearing for Bush and Cheney, though, may turn up the heat somewhat, even if it happens out of sight. Kean's a hack, and Hamilton's an honest guy, but hardly the most aggressive inquisitor on the Commission. Tougher questions are bound to be asked - tough enough to make Bush angry, and Bush tends to do stupid stuff when he's angry....

...well, OK, Bush just tends to do stupid stuff. But still...

Wow, I made it through another year!

Yep, Mickey's big hand has rolled past the twelve and it's officially the annual anniversary of my birth. The brilliant and beautiful Bride of Upper Left will be preparing a celebratory feast and various progeny will be joining us for fine food and, doubtless, strong drink.

You, of course, may vicariously join in the festivities by visiting my Amazon wish list and making an appropriate selection, or my PayPal account and making an appropriate deposit or (less selfishly) my Kerry Core page and making an appropriate contribution.

Or not...hey, it's pledge week on NPR. It inspires begging.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Did you know...

...that Noam Chomsky has a blog? I didn't, but I was glad to find a pointer to it.

I have to admit that I respect Chomsky a lot more than I agree with him. I know it's popular in some circles to grouse about relatively weak kneed liberals being presented as 'the left' in the media while genuine left intellectuals like Chomsky are generally left out of public debate except in small press magazines and other 'alternative' media outlets. I'm sympathetic to that view, but in fact, most of what Chomsky has to say is simply beyond the acceptable range of the general American body politic, even when he's absolutely right.

He's not unconscious of that fact, either. One of the best things about the Professor is his self awareness and his acknowledgement that sometimes it's more important to do what you can do than to stridently demand that which can't be done, no matter how preferable.

He makes that point well in a recent posting.

"We have several choices to make. The first is whether we want to pay attention to the real world, or prefer to keep to abstract discussions suitable to some seminar. Suppose we adopt the first alternative. Then there is another choice: electing Bush or seeking to prevent his election."

Happily, he comes down on the practical side of the question, choosing to prevent Bush's election, and recognizing that that will only be accomplished by avoiding clashes on the basis of ideological purity. Perhaps his advocacy is against Bush rather than for Kerry, but he grasps that the only practical channel for that advocacy is supporting the Democratic nominee, regardless of the compromises that support entails for folks of Chomsky's ideological stripes.

As he points out, "Activist movements, if at all serious, pay virtually no attention to which faction of the business party is in office, but continue with their daily work, from which elections are a diversion -- which we cannot ignore, any more than we can ignore the sun rising; they exist."

The outcome of the election does matter, and the daily work of those activist movements will be enhanced by the election of John Kerry. Not advanced, necessarily, but enhanced.

I've generally ignored Nader, and tried my best to be respectful toward Dennis Kucinich, but it's time for them to take a lesson from Noam Chomsky and join the unity ticket to defeat Bush.

The (Baker's) Dirty Dozen

It's been a few days since the last update, but I haven't stopped tracking Republican scandals. Indeed, as I predicted, the list is growing (although I can't believe there isn't more going on in Congress. Sheesh, all I can find is theft, bribery and creative bookkeeping. Help me out here!)

Anyway, the (Baker's) Dirty Dozen, as it stants today.

Executive Branch:

1. Cheney's secret Energy Task Force

2. Ashcroft's illegal campaign contributions in 2000

3. The Boeing-Air Force tanker leases

4. Haliburton in Iraq

5. Haliburton in Nigeria

6. The Valerie Plame outing

7. The deliberate withholding of information about the Medicare bill costs

8. Daniel Montgomery, Executive Director of the Air Transportation Stabilization Board, accepting improper gifts from airlines.

9. John Korsmo, Federal Housing Finance Board chair and his wife Michelle, for illegal involvement in political fundraising from bankers who did business with the FHFB.

10. The retaliatory discharge of Parks Police Chief Teresa Chambers in violation of Title 5 whistleblower protections.


11. Senate Judiciary Committee computer theft.

12. The Nick Smith bribe

13. The DeLay Texas fundraising scandal

Again, this just scratches the surface of the evil doers among the governing Republicans in Washington, but these are the cases I think most likely to end up producing civil or criminal penalties, or at least driving people out of their jobs (a fate some of those mentioned have already suffered).

And as always, your suggestions for further expansion of the list are encouraged.

Search of the day

This is kinda fun, isn't it? Now let's see, how 'bout...

John Ashcroft + fanatic Results 1-10 of about 4,560. Search took 0.19 seconds.

Tough Case for a Top Cop

Ordinarily I line up behind Brendan Behan, who once observed "It's not that I hate the police. It's that all the big bellied bastards that I do hate love the police." After all, there's a great deal to be said in favor of a healthy public skepticism toward any expansion of police power in a democratic society.

On the other hand, it's nearly impossible to envision the survival of a democratic society without someone around to insure that the public will is enforced in an orderly manner and the public safety preserved against threat. It's precisely because the police function is both necessary and suspect that those who elect to make careers in that arena, when they do so with a professional respect for the rights of the citizenry, deserve our respect.

All this brings me to the curious case of Teresa Chambers, the embattled Chief of the United States Park Police, mentioned here in passing a few days ago. By all accounts, Chief Chambers has an exemplary record over a period of a quarter century of public service. After retiring from the Prince Georges County Police with the rank of Major, she became the Chief of the Durham, NC, Police and then, in 2002, the Chief of the Parks Police, charged with the the protection of public safety in National Parks, various monuments and federal parkways.

It's a career of impressive achievement, and, though it perhaps it shouldn't, it bears mention that it's a record particularly impressive for a woman in law enforcement. That record has been tarnished, though, by the actions of a bureaucrat who has placed the reputation of a department and its hierarchy over the safety of those who Chief Chambers was charged to protect.

Last December, the Chief was hit by a gag order issued by Assistant Park Director Don Murphy, who then suspended her and initiated proceedings to discharge her. Interestingly, Murphy's actions began a few hours after Chambers filed charges that he was maintaining a hostile workforce. That complaint, though, is not among the enumerated charges. (The Chief's detailed response can be found here.)

What it all seems to boil down to is that Murphy thought the Chief was overly aggressive in advocating for a budget she deemed necessary to accomplish the vital public safety mission of the Parks Police, and she embarrassed her superiors by talking about it out loud. As Tim Noah pointed out in a Slate item last month, this is exactly the kind of case that the whistleblower protections in Title 5 of the U.S. Code are designed to cover, and as a lay observer, I agree with Noah's assessment that the Title 5 provisions alone should put Chief Chambers back in her job.

A growing roster of organizational supporters ranging from the Fraternal Order of Police to the Feminist Majority Foundation agree, along with a key roster of Congressional supporters. One of those leading the fight for Chief Chambers on the Hill is Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, who puts the blame squarely on the atmosphere that pervades the White House. “The Bush Administration should disavow a culture of fear and retribution in the federal government that could prevent federal employees from speaking out and potentially put our nation’s security at home and abroad at risk," said Hoyer, "and, it should direct the National Park Service to re-instate Chief Chambers to her position.”

Virginia Congressman Jim Moran has also spoken out, saying "Four months ago, the Park Service indicated that Chief Chambers was going to be fired for the allegedly egregious crimes of telling the public the truth about security in the Washington, D.C. region and that the Park Police were understaffed. Yet, Chief Chambers is still on the federal government's payroll, indicating to me that either the Interior Department has a very thin case in trying to get her fired or they are waiting to let her go when the public isn't paying any attention."

Let's pay attention. Close attention. While the liberal blogosphere is crowded with lists of administration scandals, this case has recieved relatively little attention. When the Administration tries to silence a top cop for going the extra mile in protecting the people, it's something progressives should get mad about, and a bridge to reach those who too often confuse liberal with libertine.

Reinstate Chief Chambers. Re-defeat George Bush. And keep paying attention.

Clarke to Bush smear machine...


MR. RUSSERT: Is there any inconsistency between your sworn testimony before the September 11 Commission last week and two years ago before the congressional committee?

MR. CLARKE: No, there isn't. And I would welcome it being declassified, but not just a little line here or there. Let's declassify all six hours of my testimony.

MR. RUSSERT: You would request this morning that it all be declassified?

MR. CLARKE: And I want more declassified. I want Dr. Rice's testimony before the 9-11 Commission declassified, and I want the thing that the 9-11 Commission talked about in its staff report this week declassified, because there's been an issue about whether or not a strategy or a plan or something useful was given to Dr. Rice in early January....

...Let's declassify that memo I sent on January 25th and let's declassify the national security directive that Dr. Rice's committee approved nine months later on September 4th, and let's see if there's any difference between those two, because there isn't. And what we'll see when we declassify what they were given on January 25th and what they finally agreed to on September 4th, is that they're basically the same thing and they wasted months when we could have had some action...

...and Dr. Rice's testimony before the 9-11 Commission because the victims' families have no idea what Dr. Rice has said. There weren't in those closed hearings where she testified before the 9-11 Commission. They want to know. So let's take her testimony before the 9-11 Commission and make it part of the package of what gets declassified along with the national security decision directive of September 4 and along with my memo of January 25.

In fact, Tim, let's go further. The White House is selectively now finding my e-mails, which I would have assumed were covered by some privacy regulations, and selectively leaking them to the press. Let's take all of my e-mails and all of the memos that I've sent to the national security adviser and her deputy from January 20 to September 11 and let's declassify all of it.

Bluff called. Time for Bushco to put up or fold...

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Search of the day

It's Sunday, so let's apply a spiritual slant to our Google game...

Tom DeLay + Satan Results 1- 10 of about 10,700. Search took 0.18 seconds.

The truth...

...and nothing but the truth. This time it's Josh Marshall telling us all what we really knew all along...

"What this is about isn't Condi Rice or Richard Clarke or even George W. Bush. It's about what happened -- finding out what happened.

One side wants to find out; the other doesn't. This whole story turns on that simple fact. Why else try to destroy Clark unless what he has to say is profoundly damaging? Liars are usually easily discredited; it's the truth-tellers who need to be destroyed."

And he should know...

The title of John Dean's new book pretty much says it all:

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Credibility Gap

The Progress Report seems to have doubts about Condie Rice...

"National Security Adviser Condi Rice lied in 2002, saying there was no information about terrorists using planes as missiles. In early 2004, she admitted to the 9/11 Commission her statement was inaccurate. Yet, this week, she said the same lie again in a WP op-ed."

"Rice this week said the Administration had formulated a National Security Policy Directive (NSPD) before 9/11 "that called for military options to attack al Qaeda and Taliban leadership." But according to the 9/11 Commission, "There is nothing in the NSPD that came out that we could find that had an invasion plan, a military plan." Bush Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was asked whether Rice's assertions were true, and responded, "No.""

"Rice claimed this week that "No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration." But the 9/11 Commission reported, "On January 25th, 2001, Richard Clarke forwarded his December 2000 strategy paper and a copy of his 1998 Delenda plan to the new national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.""

Three separate items reported in one single day...just another one of those things that make you go hmmmm...

And that Google search? The hit count is up to 5200.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Search of the day

via Google

Donald Rumsfeld + useless

Results 1-10 of about 14,000. Search took 0.19 seconds

But you knew that...

I'll be tossing up a couple posts... between household chores and other duties, but this will keep you occupied for a bit while you wait.

No matter what you think of Bruce Reed's (ahem) organizational affiliations, his new Washington Monthly feature is a great description of the way things work (and don't) in DC, and in your state capitol and city hall as well.

A couple teasers...

"Strip away the job titles and party labels, and you will find two kinds of people in Washington: political hacks and policy wonks. Hacks come to Washington because anywhere else they'd be bored to death. Wonks come here because nowhere else could we bore so many to death."

"Wonks think the differences between hacks and wonks are as irreconcilable as the Hutus and the Tutsis. Hacks think it's just like wonks to bring up the Hutus and the Tutsis."

"Every week, Morris had at least one notion crazy enough to get us laughed out of town....(For all his faults, though, Morris was often a useful spur to the bureaucracy, because he enabled the White House policy team to deploy our own Madman Theory: If the agencies wouldn't go along with our sensible proposals, we warned them that the president might just listen to Dick Morris. Agency productivity soared as a result.)"

Read it, then come back and share. Are you a hack or wonk?


I Like To Write offers some eerily accurate analogies between my war and the new one...

"Bush is both LBJ and Nixon combined, Richard Clarke is Ellsberg, “Rummy” is McNamara and Tommy Franks was Westmoreland. The Viet-Cong are the “insurgents” and our kids are our kids. The lies are the lies..."

Wow, man.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Search of the day

via Google

Colin Powell + pathetic

Results 1-10 of about 14,300. Search took 0.13 seconds

Mighta guessed it would turn up a bunch...

Say what you will...

...but I say that Terry McCauliffe made this picture possible at this time, and deserves the thanks of Democrats everywhere...

The Passion of Howard Dean

The Stranger's Sandeep Kaushik takes a look at Dean's rollout of his post-campaign project in Seattle and pinpoints one of the reasons I was such a skeptic about the Doctor.

"In retrospect," he writes "it's clear that long before Howard Dean's bid for the White House ended, he had become more enamored with the passion than the presidency, more invested in the crusade than the campaign."

Now that he's a crusader instead of a candidate, I have to admit that I find Dean's act a lot more appealing. Especially since, as Kaushik also points out, "...But what was most interesting about Dean's announcement (which he later repeated in San Francisco and New York) was that he seemed genuinely determined --even passionate--about electing John Kerry president."

I didn't believe a lot of the message that came out of Dean for America, but I do believe that Howard Dean is serious about helping John Kerry win. I'm not taking back anything I said in the heat of battle, and I don't expect Dean to, but until he gives me a good reason not to, I'm cutting the Doc big slack around here in the future.

Digby nails it.

"Every single person who is called upon to defend Richard Clarke should just say, "He was right, wasn't he?"

It's really that simple. He said it was going to happen, nobody believed him and it happened. He's not the one with a credibility problem."

They caught us!

The Aberdeen, SD news is reporting that Democratic Congressional candidate Stephanie Herseth is using a "secret" web page to garner support from something called "blogs." It's so secret, in fact, that you have to "click" on one of the hundreds of "advertisements" she's purchased on the mysterious "blogs," which can only be accessed through the use of exotic technology known as "computers."

If you know someone that has a "computer," you could go to a "blog" by following a "link" like this one and give Stephanie Herseth money!

Wow, what will those Democrats come up with next?

(Tip o' the Upper-Left deerstalker cap to Kos)

They just won't quit...

...and we won't back down in the never-ending whack-a-mole business of combatting right wing smears against John Kerry.

This time it's Minneapolis attorney Larry Purdy, taking time out from his usual routine of defending pharmaceutical manufacturers, tobacco companies and making sure that racial preference is the exclusive preserve of white folk to crank out a little venom for David Horowitz' Frontpage.

It's a particularly nasty piece of work, with everything from a vague analogy between John Kerry and Benedict Arnold to specious claims that Kerry's post-Vietnam views were pro-communist and pro-Ho.

So what's the hook he hangs all this on? Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony - or at least the version of it that right wing hacks generally turn to. Although Purdy offers a footnote which claims that "All quotes are taken from the official transcript entitled “Legislative Proposals Relating to the War in Southeast Asia,” dated Thursday, April 22, 1971...", you may be unsurprised to learn that that claim is, in fact, a lie.

John Kerry never said, and the transcript doesn't claim he said, "...".

That's right. The return of the misleading ellipse, one of the more insidious ways the right has chosen to frame its lies. Perhaps what Mr. Purdy meant was that "All quotes are edited from the official transcript...". By selectively deleting Kerry's words in order to alter their meaning, Purdy sets up a straw man as the foundation for his arguement. An arguement built on a lie, though, only reveals the truth about the source, not the subject.

To make his attack appear credible, Purdy trades on his own credentials as a Vietnam veteran. A graduate of the Naval Academy, he was an officer at the same station in An Thoi that Kerry's swift boat operated out of, although Purdy's assignment was in a support role, rather than a combat command position like Kerry's. His willingness to use edited quotes and baldly false assertions to attack a fellow veteran make it very clear that Congress may be able to make an officer, but it's beyond their power to commission a gentleman.

Right Wing Boilerplate 24 - Anti-terrorism 0

That was the Bush scorecard in the months leading up to 9/11, according to Politus' review of the 24 Executive Orders the White House issued in the opening months of the Administration.

That's right. As Politus points out, "Even though he and his lackeys now claim they were consumed with UBL and counterterrorism was a top priority to them, there is not a peep of any of that in any of the documents Bush signed to set the direction and functioning of his government. And then?

September 11.

Suddenly, in a spectacular "Oops," Bush signed a plethora of executive orders related to terrorism, including calling up the ready reserves, seizing terrorist assets and financing, establishing the office of Homeland Security, establishing policies on critical infrastructure protection and citizen preparedness, and several others."

It's very clear. When George Bush moved into the White House, he didn't care about terrorism.

And George Bush doesn't care about you.

Thursday, March 25, 2004


The Lie: "It's a long-standing principle that the president's advisers do not testify in front of congressional committees," Rice said Tuesday on Fox News Radio's Tony Snow Show. "So, as much as I would like to be able to do this, it would really not be a good precedent."

The Truth: "(Richard) Ben-Veniste, who was a Watergate prosecutor, cited examples of non-Cabinet presidential advisers who have testified publicly to Congress. Among them: Lloyd Cutler, White House counsel under Clinton; Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Carter; and Samuel Berger, Clinton's national security adviser."

Another Lie: "Dick Clarke was counterterrorism czar for a long time with a lot of attacks on the United States. What he was doing was -- what they were doing apparently was not working. We wanted to do something different."

More Truth: (Joe Conason) "The vice president commented that there was "no great success in dealing with terrorists" during the 1990s, when you were serving under President Clinton. He asked, "What were they doing?"

(Richard Clarke) "It's possible that the vice president has spent so little time studying the terrorist phenomenon that he doesn't know about the successes in the 1990s. There were many. The Clinton administration stopped Iraqi terrorism against the United States, through military intervention. It stopped Iranian terrorism against the United States, through covert action. It stopped the al-Qaida attempt to have a dominant influence in Bosnia. It stopped the terrorist attacks at the millennium. It stopped many other terrorist attacks, including on the U.S. embassy in Albania. And it began a lethal covert action program against al-Qaida; it also launched military strikes against al-Qaida. Maybe the vice president was so busy running Halliburton at the time that he didn't notice."

It smells like victory!

We helped!

Now about that PayPal button...

Search of the day...

via Google

Searched English pages for Condoleezza Rice liar.

Results 1 - 10 of about 4,510. Search took 0.20 seconds.

(Bet this one grows like Pinnochio's nose...)

"Senator, I knew what the price would be."

That was Richard Clarke's response to Bob Kerrey's expression of concern about the assualt on his credibility and character that's poured out of the Bush administration.

I'm sure he did know. After all, he's seen the reponse of the White House to people like Gen. Eric Shinseki, Joe Wilson, Richard Foster, Paul O'Neill and John J. DiIulio, Jr. This is not an administration with a tolerance for bad news. As Clarke told Salon's Joe Conason, "...the Bush White House assumes that everyone who works for them is part of a personal loyalty network, rather than part of the government. And that their first loyalty is to Bush rather than to the people. When you cross that line or violate that trust, they get very upset."

How upset? This upset:

" an extraordinary move, the White House outed Clarke as the anonymous official who had defended Bush's anti-terrorism strategy to reporters in 2002."

The White House has gone to great lengths to try to discredit Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism czar,

"President Bush's top aides launched a ferocious assault on the former White House counterterrorism official."

Sounds like a group of folks with something to worry about, dontcha think?

'All or nothing' Republicans get...

...nothing, and stick American business with the bill.

Awhile back the Republicans went a little overboard in service to their corporate sponsors and passed some tax breaks related to international trade that got hauled up befor the WTO, resulting in trade sanctions that could run up to $4 billion a year.

Naturally, the Republicans want to fix their mistake, and in this case many, maybe most, Democrats agree. Why, then, is it so hard to get the job done?

Well, in the course of drafting the needed corrections (which replace the offending tax breaks with a new set that's expected to withstand WTO scrutiny), Iowa Senator Tom Harkin got unanimous consent to introduce an amendment designed to prevent the Bush administration from pursuing it's rollback of overtime pay for a variety of job classifications. When it came time to vote, though, the Republicans tried to block the amendment by invoking cloture.

When their attempt to kill the Harkin amendment through parlimentary manipulation faild, Senate Republican leader Bill Frist pulled the bill altogether, rather than allow a vote on the overtime issue. I can't imagine who he thinks he's helping with this legislative tantrum. Worker's overtime rights are still in jeopardy, American industry still faces punitive trade sanctions, and Bill Frist takes his ball and goes home.

There was no demand that the overtime amendment pass before a vote on the trade taxes. All the Democratic caucus was the vote that was promised by unanimous consent. Frist and his minions claim the Democrats are holding the bill hostage to political considerations, but who's kidding who here? The tax bill will pass in almost any form, with a bi-partisan coalition. The overtime bill may squeak through the Republican majority, but lots of R's will be voting against it at the bidding of their friends in the administration and corporate management, and it's a vote they don't want to run on in November.

47 Democrats hung tough on the side of American workers, though, and the Republicans left a $4 billion dollar tab on the table for American industry to pick up.

We need a new Senate majority, and this kind of incompetent intransigence by the Republican leadership can only help.

The war comes home.

The Seattle Times reports the saga of Dana Beaudine, who went to Iraq with his Reserve unit, picked up a Purple Heart and a mild case of PTSD, and came home to a life of unemployment checks while he struggles to get his old job back.

Beaudine was a security guard at the Federal Building in Seattle, where security responsibilities are contracted out to Securitas Security Services USA, a subsidiary of Swedish security conglomerate Securitas AB. Although he's been cleared for return to work by a series of doctors, Securitas sets up new hurdles at every step.

Beaudine is just one of the 3,200 returning veterans who have filed Labor Department grievances over their inability to return to employment when their Guard or Reserve duty is complete, and we've barely begun to scratch the surface of the problem. Most of the 361,000 Guard and Reserve members who've been mobilized to support Rumsfeld's inadequately manned regular forces have yet to return to civilian life. When that flood hits America's hometowns, watch out.

Of course, the story raises other question, like whether it's appropriate for the federal government to be contracting out security services in a time of heightened security concerns, and whether it's ever appropriate for the feds to contract out to a foreign-owned company, but first things first.

Give Dana Beaudine his damn job back!

The final stretch is here...

...and the Upper Left contribution is up to $150. Still time to help with the final push by logging in and making your donation to John Kerry here!

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The pace is picking up...

...and Upper Left did that part! (thanks Diane!)

There's still plenty of time to chip in!

Sounds pretty (Vanity) fair and balanced to me...

I knew that Vanity Fair magazine had a James Wolcott piece about bloggers, and since the brilliant and beautiful Bride of Upper Left enjoys the magazine, I was thinking about grabbing a copy before it disappeared from the shelves.

The Political Animal formerly known as Calpundit has a review of the piece up, and now I've gotta buy it. What sold me?

Wolcott's description of the warbloggers as "Punk-ass laptop Richard Perles..."

I so admire eloquence.

"He...never thought he could ever win..."

Wow. Dean for America stalwart Karl Frisch offers an advance peek at Dean pollster Paul Maslin's campaign autopsy coming soon to an Atlantic Monthly near you. It's interesting to watch the finger pointing coming out of a campaign that presented such a strong 'us against the world' image for so long.

It's an interesting look at some aspects of the campaign that didn't get much attention while it was active. One bit that stood out was this description of a meeting among the campaign leadership when the Gubenatorial records flap hit...

"Dean was increasingly uncomfortable with the discussion, and I felt some regret for pressing so hard when, in the end he lowered his head and said to us all, but mostly to himself, “I’d rather end the campaign than have the world see everything?” Seldom have I heard a candidate so open about his feelings (one of Dean’s refreshing qualities); more seldom still have I seen someone on the brink of political success be so conflicted about it. To this day I am convinced that no “smoking gun” exists in those records. What is probably there is an accumulation of cuts from a man who routinely made acidic or even profane comments to all around him, in conversation and in writing."

"I felt worse half an hour later, when - after Dean had left the headquarters having decided not to release the records - Trippi called McMahon, Squier, and me into his office. He shut the door and said in a compassionate voice, rare for him, “He just lost it in here. He basically told me that he never thought he’d be in this position. Never thought he could ever win. Never thought it would come to all this. He was just about in tears, and for once, I really feel for him. He said, ‘I don’t know why I say the things I do.’ He ain’t gonna release the records, even if it costs us everything.”

You've gotta give Dr. Dean some props for his willingness to put everything on the line for principle, however misguided the principle might have been.

Nobody, though, comes off very well in Maslin's tale, including Maslin himself, who seems willing to betray confidence and dis friends (although in Arlo's famous words, "They're not really your friends, are they?") in exchange for a byline...

Talk about mixed emotions... rage at Bush campaign flack Terry Holt's contemptuous dismissal of John Kerry's service in Vietnam, and by extension the service of every one of us that went there, is stirred up with my profound appreciation for Billmon's eloquent response.

As Billmon points out, this latest slap is just one more example of the Republican Party's gradual abandoment of concern about and growing disrespect for Vietnam vets. As John Kerry has wondered aloud, just what is it that the chickenhawks who didn't serve have against those of us who did?

Well, the bottom line is that they just don't care. That's right. If you're a veteran, George Bush doesn't care about you. Ignore the rhetoric. Look at the budget. Examine the policy. He just doesn't care.

As Billmon writes...

"In 1998, DNA testing allowed the remains of Vietnam's formerly unknown soldier -- Air Force Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie -- to be identified, and he finally went home to Missouri. Rather than pick a substitute from the dwindling supply of unknowns (and risk a future repetition of the interment/eviction cycle) the DVA left the tomb empty.

As empty, apparently, as the right's former solicitude for the soldiers of a lost war. You don't hear much of that old "noble cause" rhetoric from the Republicans any more -- particularly not when Kerry is trying so hard to draw a distinction between his band of brothers and the somewhat less, ah, heroic group around President Bush. After all, the GOP has a new bloody shirt to wave now, a new war to flog. The Vietnam vets are last century's model, ready for the political scrap heap..."

Well, I may be a relic, but I'm a relic with a vote, and I've got millions of brothers. A whole band of them, you might say. You wonder why so many of us have rallied around the Kerry campaign with such enthusiasm? It's pretty simple, really. I have a lot of reasons for supporting John Kerry, but certainly one of them, a big one, is a simple desire to have a President who will respect my service with the same level of appreciation that I had for my country when I walked into the recruiters office. We don't need brass bands and parades, just sincere respect, and policies that reflect it.

I can't say that the Democratic Party has always done a great job in that area, either. Too often, the veteran vote has been seen as something too likely to go the other way, although there's no real objective evidence to support the assumption. This campaign season I've drug out my old 'Vietnam Veteran' baseball cap, and I have to admit that this is the first time I've ever felt comfortable wearing it to Democratic Party functions, and John Kerry is the only candidate I've ever seen who routinely asks his audiences to recognize the veterans among them.

And you know what? Respect feels good.

And that's another reason that I'm proud to be a

(tip o' the faded Upper Left boonie cap to Diane and Cereffusion for the pointer)

And they thought Dick Clarke was a problem...

Via Political Wire:

"Washington author Kitty Kelley "is crashing to finish her latest book, a biography of the Bush family scheduled for publication by Doubleday on Sept. 15..."

Sic 'em, Kitty!


That's where the $10 Million in 10 Days campaign for Kerry stood at noon eastern on day 9. Looks like we'll go over the top, but to do my bit, I went ahead and started a Kerry Core page. If you were planning to give, you can do it through this link and help demonstrate the awsome power of the Upper Left readership!

Seriously, though, something, even five or ten bucks, matters more than most folks know, and I'd be honored if you chose my link to do your part.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

My crystal ball has a limited range

I did pretty well predicting primary outcomes, but it seems I've slipped up in projecting which federal department would show up on the Scandal Scorecard next.

I figured HUD or Education were easy picks, but I'd overlooked Joel Connelly's latest column in the Seattle P-I which points an accusing finger at Interior.

Here's the heart of the matter, with my emphasis.

"In an internal memo leaked last week, from the Northeast Region of the National Park Service, superintendents were told bluntly to cover up the cuts -- and cover the backside of the administration that has left these professionals short of resources.

'If you think that some of your specific plans will cause a public or political controversy, Marie (Regional Director Marie Rust) and I need to know which ones are likely to end up in the media or result in a congressional inquiry," wrote Chrysandra Walter, deputy director for the Northeast Region.'"

Joel also offers a look at the kinds of cuts they have in mind.

"Budget cuts suggested by the Northeast Region memo seem designed with the discomfort of America's families in mind.

'Close the visitor center on all federal holidays ...' was one 'service level adjustment.' Guess when families have time to visit parks? Another idea: 'Eliminate all guided ranger tours.' A third "adjustment": 'Close the park every Sunday and Monday.'"

And Parks employees who won't play along?

"Park professionals who speak out find themselves on the hot seat.

Last winter, Teresa Chambers, U.S. park police chief, in an interview with The Washington Post, revealed and discussed low staffing levels.

Days later, Chambers received a notice proposing her termination. Deputy Park Service Director Donald Murphy asked Chambers to surrender her badge and gun, put her on administrative leave and ordered her not to speak with the media."

There's a word for it.


Scandals? I've got yer scandals right here...

...and it seems like I've got more to track every day.

Actually, one is making a repeat appearance here. It nearly slipped my mind, because it's been a month or so since I posted about John and Michelle Korsmo, former chair of the Federal Housing Finance Board and former DOL official, respectively, and their troubles with the Justice Deparment over apparent violation of campaign finance laws. This is a good one, with officials of two deparments targeted in a single investigation.

Damfacrats offers the plight of Daniel Montgomery, the Bush appointee to the post of Executive Director of the Air Transportation Stabilization Board, who's come under fire for accepting various inducements from the airlines he's supposed to be overseeing loans for.

My list already has the Office of the Vice President, the Department of Energy, the Department of Justice, the Deparment of Defense and the Department of Health & Human Services. Now we can add the FHFB, Labor and Transportation. I just can't imagine that Education and HUD can be far behind.

And Colin Powell is the Secretary of State, which is scandalous enough in its own right.

This has to be the most scandal ridden Administration in American history.

Update: I've made a correction. Although they're charged with banking regulation, the FHFB is an independent agency, not part of the Department of the Treasury. I was right about one thing, though - HUD isn't far behind at all. The FHFB isn't part of HUD, but the HUD Secretary is a member of the FHFB board of directors...

Quote of the day

"The purpose of government isn't to make the President look good. It isn't to produce propaganda or misleading information. It is, instead, to do its best for the American people and to be accountable to the American people."

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle

Via atrios, who offers a lengthy and impressive excerpt from the Daschle speech.

What he is speaks so loudly...

...that I can hardly hear what he's saying, even though Colin Powell's voice is coming through the radio right now, as a local NPR station is running his 9/11 Commission testimony on tape delay for the west coast.

Every word out of his mouth is filtered through my increasing disdain for the pathetic hack, I'm afraid. I've never been a Powell fan, and never understood his appeal to so many folks I generally agree with on many other things. It was with some satisfaction, then, that I read Michael Steinberger's piece in The American Prospect. Steinberger nails Powell's toadskin to the wall, writing that "When Powell was appointed secretary of state, such was his stature at home and abroad that he was widely expected to be the new administration's vicar of foreign policy. Three years on, he finds himself the fig leaf of that foreign policy..."

"On almost every critical issue..." he notes, "...Powell has been the odd man out, his influence minimal to nonexistent.

Steinberger attributes Powell's failures to the Secretary himself, noting that in carving out a career as a bureaucratic functionary, he's consistently had a paucity of ideas, leaving him vulnerable to the people in the Administration who actually think, no matter how wrong-headed their thoughts may be. "The neocons, for better or worse, had a vision, and something usually trumps nothing."

And Powell? He's got nothing.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Scandal Scorecard Update

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm trying to knock this into some kind of manageable format, since maintaining an exhaustive list is a task that would require a staff of researchers, I'm afraid. There are dozens of outrages, but I'm not sure all of them rise to the level of indictable scandal

Right now, I've boiled it down to the ten that have or will caused someone to take a serious criminal, civil or career tumble. It will grow, I'm sure, and more pointers are richly appreciated...

Executive Branch:

1. Cheney's Energy Task Force

2. Ashcroft's illegal campaign contributions in 2000

3. The Boeing-Air Force tanker leases

4. Haliburton in Iraq

5. Haliburton in Nigeria

6. The Valerie Plame outing

7. The deliberate withholding of information about the Medicare bill costs


8. Senate Judiciary Committee computer theft.

9. The Nick Smith bribe

10. The DeLay Texas fundraising scandal

Come on, I know I'm missing a big one, or a bunch of 'em. Help me out here!

Ain't too proud to beg...

With a little spike in the hit count, it seems like an opportune time for an Upper Left pledge break.

Just a reminder that between my computer screen and yours, there's a food chain that involves an ISP, a phone company and an electric utility, and they're all hungry. Since my unemployment benefits ran out in December, my financial cupboard is pretty bare, so if you're in a position to, well, the PayPal button is right over there ---->

And if you're in the market for an experienced copywriter, speech writer and/or strategic consultant, there's an email link nearby, too.

Now back to your regularly scheduled rants...

Why does Justice Scalia hate Vice President Cheney?

The Progress Report notes that Scalia's refusal to recuse himself from the upcoming hearings on Dick Cheney's secret energy task force puts forward the notion "nothing the court says on those subjects will have any bearing upon the reputation and the integrity of Richard Cheney."

One can only presume that Justice Scalia holds his hunting buddy in such low esteem that he believes that even if the Court finds that Cheney conspired with his corporate patrons to engineer an energy profiteering scheme at the expense of the American people, Cheney's reputation and integrity have already sunken so low that it couldn't possibly hurt him.

Memo to Antonin - you might want to take a pass the next time you're offered a chance to be in the proximity of Dick Cheney while he has a loaded weapon...

An abundance of riches

I'll get around to blogging on some other subjects before the day is out, but the Richard Clarke appearance on 60 Minutes is bound to get lots of everybody's attention today. It may be the biggest story of the year, really, since the Bush campaign rests so heavily on the premise that he's an effective leader in the war on terrorism. Having a source with the experience and credibility of Clarke cut that notion off at the knees is simply a huge deal.

Lots of angles provide potential for oodles of bloggity goodness, but right now I'm especially taken with Oliver Willis' imagined White House scenario...

Q: Mr. President, what are we going to do about unemployment?
Bush: Look into Iraq, Saddam.

Q: Mr. President, your economic program is causing record deficits and spending is getting out of control
Bush: Look into Iraq, Saddam.

Q: Mr. President, we're underfunding homeland security and our citizens still aren't safe
Bush: Look into Iraq, Saddam.

Q: Mr. President, the guy who didn't get the most votes won the election. How did that happen?
Bush: Look into Iraq, Saddam.

Oh, enough already!

Over at DailyKos, DHinMI offers up Joe Lieberman's response to the Richard Clarke's revealations about Bush terrorism (lack of) policy in his new book and on 60 Minutes.

"Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said Sunday he doesn't believe Clarke's charge that the Bush administration -- which defeated him and former Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 election -- was focused more on Iraq than al-Qaida during the days after the terror attacks."

"I see no basis for it," Lieberman said on Fox News Sunday. "I think we've got to be careful to speak facts and not rhetoric."

You want facts, Joe? The fact is that Dick Clarke was the White House counter-terrorism czar. He was in the room, or tried to be, at least. His accounts are first hand, eyewitness testimony, and your dismissal is the 'rhetoric' here. You think he's a liar? Then call him a liar or shut up.

Better yet, just shut up. It should be abundantly clear to you by now that America just isn't interested in what you have to say, outside of the right-wing 'news' operations like Fox that use your blather as evidence of their 'balance' by airing the views of a Democrat who's views have been decidedly rejected by the Democratic electorate.

Like DHinMI, I spent some energy during the primary race defending Lieberman against 'R in D's clothing' charges. He does, in fact, vote with the caucus on a wide range of key Democratic issues. But enough, already. Surely Connecticutt can do better for themselves and our Party. He's not a Republican, but he's an embarassment.

DHinMI knocked of a fine email rant to the Senator and posted it at Kos. Take a look. I agree with every word.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Speaking of lists...

While I'm updating the Scandal Scorecard, you might spend some time with the Iraq On The Record database put together by the House Government Reform Committee at the request of Rep. Henry Waxman.

The database takes a look at public statements of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. What did they find?

Well, how about "...237 specific misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq made by these five officials in 125 public appearances in the time leading up to and after the commencement of hostilities in Iraq."

It's searchable just about every imaginable way, and an excellent resource for lovers of truth everywhere.

Of course, in order to bring it to Bush, Kerry needs your help. The $10 million in ten days fundraiser was at $4,654,094 at 6 pm on day 6. That's better than it looks, because these things tend to pick up at the end, like most pledge drives and telethons you've ever seen, but it sure wouldn't hurt if you were able to pitch in now.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Tomorrow's quotes today!

Usually a quote is a day or two old by the time I get around to making it the quote of the day, but this time I'm fast forwarding to tomorrow's 60 Minutes broadcast, wherein former White House anti-terrorism coordinator Richard Clarke will say...

"Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq....We all said, 'but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan' and Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.' I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with [the 9/11 attacks].'"

Tip o' the quote o' tomorrow cap to Talking Points Memo.

Of course, this is the day...

...they said would never come. As we observe a full year of continuing combat in Iraq, Change For America's Mark Sundeen reminds us of claims made, promises broken...

"Dick Cheney, who last week questioned John Kerry's credentials on foreign policy and national security, last year hastened the war with these words: "I think it will go relatively quickly, ... (in) weeks rather than months."

"Rumsfield sold us the same bill of goods: "It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

It's kind of amazing that these profiteers and buffoons are permitted any credibility at all. I don't, in fact, think that they are so patently stupid that they actually thought that Iraq could be conquered, pacified and converted to democratic governance in weeks or months.

Nope, I just think they're liars.

Happy anniversary...?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The first anniversary of the start of the war that ousted Saddam Hussein was a day like many others in Iraq: a mortar attack in a northern city, an attempt to kill a politician and news of a U.S. Marine cut down by rebel fire.

Of course, there are 568 Americans who won't be able to join in the festivities, including Sue Sapir-Niederer's son, Screaming Eagle Seth Dvorin.

(AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek)

Friday, March 19, 2004


Just a quick welcome to all the visitors from Salon. The regulars will be glad to make room for you, so feel free to poke around the archives, leave some comments, check the links, hit the PayPal button - just make yourself at home. And bookmark the joint, why don't ya? We're here every day.

And as always, I heartily recommend a premium subscription to Salon for those that don't have one!

Es las mentiras, estúpido!

Appeasement is an ugly word, and it's especially ugly when it's an undeserved accusation. There are a lot of apologies due the Spanish people, starting with Dennis Hastert, and working down through his minions and up through the Administration. While the neo-McCarthyites in the Republican Party may think that any disagreement with the current US regime borders on treasonous, it's still permissable for voters in a democracy to pick any leader they choose, for any reason they choose.

In fact, it seems that the Spanish elections didn't turn on any particular fear of terrorism, or capitulation to terrorists, but on massive resentment among Spanish voters toward a government that tried to manipulate their grief in the aftermath of a tragedy with a pattern of lies.

According to the New York Times, "In interviews, they said they did so not so much out of fear of terror as out of anger against a government they saw as increasingly authoritarian, arrogant and stubborn. The government, they said, mishandled the crisis in the emotional days after the attacks."

"Voters said they were enraged not only by the government's insistence that the Basque separatist group ETA was responsible, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, but they also resented its clumsy attempts to quell antigovernment sentiment."

Gee, a government turned out for clinging to lies "despite mounting evidence to the contrary" while it pursues "clumsy attempts to quell antigovernment sentiment." No wonder Bushco is upset.

Paul Krugman follows up today with a must read column on the subject, which makes a similar point.

"So there you have it." Krugman writes. "A country's ruling party leads the nation into a war fought on false pretenses, fails to protect the nation from terrorists and engages in a cover-up when a terrorist attack does occur. But its electoral defeat isn't democracy at work; it's a victory for the terrorists."

Well, if you believe that, the terrorists have already won.

So far, so good...

But everybody needs to do their part to keep this thing on track. You can do your part here.

Scandal Scorecard update

Thanks for your tips. It's true that there's so much outrageous Republican behavior that it would be easier to list what they're doing right, but the research needed to find something to put on a list like that just sounds like too much work.

The Carpetbagger Report has another list up today, with a couple items that I missed and a couple that don't really fall into the category I'm looking for (I'm trying to track criminal, civil or Congressional investigations that can lead to real consequence, like indictments or censure, between now and November, basically).

Here are some additions culled from the Carpetbagger and your tips:

Cheney's Energy Task Force

Attorney General John Ashcroft's acceptance of $110,000 in illegal campaign contributions in 2000

The Pentagon investigation of Lt. General William Boykin , Bush's pick for deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and his record of extreme religious rhetoric

The Carpetbagger offers honorable mentions to the Halliburton and Enron investigations, based on the companies' links to the Executive Branch, and there's a chance they may, in fact, bear fruit.

I'm certainly sympathetic to the invocation of the Iraq war and the Haiti coup, but I'm afraid expecting action there is about as likely as hoping for a Bush impeachment trial, no matter how richly deserved.

But keep 'em coming!


Political Wire offers a link to Newsday's report that President Bush's re-election campaign website "has sold clothing made in Burma, whose goods were banned by Bush from the U.S. last year to punish its military dictatorship."

According to the article, the offending item was a fleece jacket, which came in an order with a made-in-Mexico cap and a T-shirt of unknown origin. At least the cap is legal.

Could all this imported campaign gear be a Bush bid for some support from international leaders? I'm guessing Spain is off the order list...

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Scandal box score?

It's been suggested in comments that I should run a box reminding everyone of the range of scandals that are circulating around Bushco and the Republican Party. It's something I might do the next time I feel like messing with the Upper Left template, but meanwhile, let's work up a good list.

Outside the routine political lies, extortion and slander that are the day to day business of the Republican slime machine, here are some of the real, live, potentially criminal indictment-producing stories I've been tracking:

The Valerie Plame outing.

The Nick Smith bribe.

Senate Judiciary Committee computer theft.

The deliberate withholding of information about the Medicare bill costs.

The DeLay Texas fundraising scandal

Use of the House Committee on Resources public website for partisan purposes.

So, what am I missing...?

Same Drum, different beat.

Kevin Drum, the notorious CalPundit, has a new home over at the Washington Monthly, where he's blogging as the Political Animal, which should provide reason aplenty to adjust your favorites list.

He's off to a great start, as you'd expect. Looking through Dick Cheney's Reagan Library rant, he gleaned this tidbit. "And we are applying the Bush doctrine," said the veep. "Any person or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will be held to account."

Except, as Kevin points out, "...the idea that the current administration is applying the "Bush doctrine" is palpably untrue. Aside from toppling the Taliban, an action supported by enormous majorities worldwide, we haven't gone after a single country that "supports, protects, or harbors" terrorists. Iraq had probably the most tenuous ties to terrorism of any state in the Middle East, while Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria have remained untouched. There may be very good reasons for this, mind you, but the Bush doctrine is nonetheless little more than hot air."

"Palpably untrue". As in 'a lie'. As in Cheney, like the rest of the Bushco crew, is a liar.

Kevin's sentiments echo a recent Paul Krugman piece, in which the NYT columnist pointed out that "Polls suggest that a reputation for being tough on terror is just about the only remaining political strength George Bush has. Yet this reputation is based on image, not reality. The truth is that Mr. Bush, while eager to invoke 9/11 on behalf of an unrelated war, has shown consistent reluctance to focus on the terrorists who actually attacked America, or their backers in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan."

This is one reason that I'm a bit more sanquine about Kerry's November prospects than some folks seem to be. The entire Bush campaign seems to be focused on ramping up fear and then counting on the resulting insecurity to convince people to stay the course. What's already evident to millions, though, and is going to become clearer to millions more as the year goes by, is that Bush has failed in nearly every instance to effectively confront the actual source of the very real threats we face. To the contrary, he has pursued policies which have increased those threats, and left us increasingly isolated in a world where we need all the friends we can get.

They're liars, and they think most Americans are so dumb they'll fall for it.

I won't say that the electorate has never let me down, but I'm banking on 'em this time.

There are known names, there are unknown names...

...and there are the names that Colin Powell won't name.

Via Atrios, this gem from the Colin Powell pot/kettle catalog...

"Well, one, we didn't put together just the coalition of the willing. A coalition is always a coalition of the willing. And this particular coalition of the willing now has 47 nations; 47 nations are openly members of the coalition, and have asked to be identified with this effort. And there are many other nations that for a variety of reasons don't want to be publicly identified, but are also a part of the coalition of the willing."

Frankly, I'm more and more pleased as Powell is increasingly exposed for the pathetic hack that he is.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Why We Fight

Oliver Willis follows the path of Paul Sperry's New York Post editorial about information that John Kerry provided to the FAA about security lapses at Logan International through the right wing echo chamber. (Sperry's premise seems to be that FAA inaction means that Kerry is somehow responsible for 9/11.) It's an instructive post, worth your while.

Briefly, Sperry, whose main gig is with the Richard Scaife funded WorldNet Daily, got his piece into the Rupert Murdoch operated Post, and from thence it landed on Rush Limbaugh's desk and in the pages of another Scaife project, FrontPage. Then a gaggle of right wing bloggers took the bait, and voila! A story without substance spread hither and yon.

Tip o' the green derby to Oliver. It's critical that we support the Kerry rapid response team (so rapid that they're getting dubbed a 'pre-sponse' team) in their efforts to brand lies lies, and liars liars, because the bad guys have a pretty well oiled operation.

It would be so much easier...

...if BC04 could just tell the truth in the first place, but kudos to Craig Crawford of CBS' Early Show for doing a yeoman's job of analysis on the latest Bushco smear ad, noting that "The new Bush advertisement attacking Kerry's Iraq War votes distorts the truth without actually lying."

Some excerpts (ad copy in bold):

"Though John Kerry voted in October of 2002 for military action in Iraq ..." is not accurate to say Kerry voted FOR MILITARY ACTION.

"... he later voted against funding our soldiers."

...The White House and Republican Congressional leaders...refused to hold separate votes on funding for soldiers and less popular funding for reconstruction costs. Those, like Kerry, who were determined to vote against the "no-bid" reconstruction contracts for Halliburton and others were then forced to also vote against funding for soldiers.

"Body armor for troops in combat."

...The irony here is that this provision was only in the bill because military officials admitted to Congress during the war that the Administration had sent 40,000 troops into battle without the best-grade body armor.

"Higher combat pay."

"And, better health care for reservists and their families..."

...Like the body-armor claims, the above excerpts make it seem that Kerry cast separate votes against the most popular portions of the bill. There were no separate votes on these items. The main debate over the bill was the inclusion of "no-bid" reconstruction contracts, which is what provoked Kerry to vote against the overall package.

I've done quite a bit of clipping here. It's worth your while to click over and read the orginal.

I do have a small quibble with Crawford, though. Actually, I think they did lie.

It's nice to be noticed...

...and Washington State politics doesn't always get a lot of attention elsewhere, but since Atrios invited Washington residents to chime in on his post about the campaign in Washington's 8th District, here are my thoughts.

Atrios took note of a post on Alben's campaign blog but felt obliged to make mention of Alben's primary opponent, Heidi Behrens-Benedict. That's more than reasonable. He's not familiar with the dynamics of the race, and has no real reason to be. Touting any and all Democratic candidates for open US House seats is a good thing, to be sure.

Make no mistake, though. If we're going to pick up the 8th CD seat, Alex Alben should be the candidate we go into November with. Heidi's a great Democrat, and did some real hard slogging for the Party in her three runs against Jennifer Dunn. She kept the Democratic banner aloft, and deserves full appreciation for that effort.

But, while Democrats for the US Senate, County Executive and Governor were carrying the 8th District, Heidi's share of the vote diminished with each successive campaign. She wasn't a candidate this time until Dunn dropped out of the race. Alex Alben came out early, ready to face Dunn head to head, and ready to commit significant personal resources to the effort.

He's just the kind of mainstream, business oriented candidate we can win this seat with, and if that sounds like an Upper Left endorsement, well, I haven't posted a link to Heidi's website, now, have I...

A(nother) Lie

When asked by Wolf Blitzer if we should have given the UN inspectors more time before invading Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld replied, Rumsfeld answered, "Well, the U.N. inspectors were not in there. The U.N. inspectors were out."

Kevin Drum wonders "Can't these guys even be bothered to make up decent lies anymore?..."

The Truth

"It's so obviously the truth what Kerry said, and the Republicans are just having fun with it — everybody knows it's true. In the last six or seven months, I've been in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. I've met with leaders in all of those regions, and they have overwhelmingly — not unanimously but overwhelmingly — said that they hope that there's a change in leadership."

Former UN Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke

"But the idea that he's making this up is laughable. The question isn't whether or which foreign leaders don't want to see George W. Bush get another term. A better question is whether there are any outside of perhaps a half-dozen capitals around the world who do. (Powell knows this perhaps better than anyone.)"

Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

There's a little silver lining, at least...

...among the political storm clouds, with the appearance of a promising new progressive web magazine, The Gadflyer. They just debuted yesterday and they're off to a great start. Everybody should take a look, and you really don't want to miss the first column by Gadfly Editor In Chief Paul Waldman.

Waldman nails Bushco's hide to the wall, calling their opening advertising assault on Kerry exactly what it is.

"The Bush ad claims that Kerry wants to "raise taxes by at least $900 billion." A credulous viewer would hear this claim and conclude that John Kerry wants to raise taxes by at least $900 billion. But the claim is, simply put, a lie. Not an exaggeration, not a misrepresentation, but a lie." (my emphasis)

Yep. They are liars. Say it loud. Say it everywhere. Say it every day. It's true.

And they're at it again, with a new ad breaking today that carries the scurrilous accusation that Kerry "...did not support bills that would have ensured troops had body armor and earned higher combat pay, and would have given reservists and their families better health care."

That, of course, is a lie. Here's the truth.

'More leaders,' 'Foreign Leaders,'...

Mofo leaders. I don't much care who John Kerry said he talked to, really, and I can't imagine that I'm alone in getting sick to death of the story.

Here's the plain truth that every sentient being in the country knows. George Bush has damaged our relationship with many nations, allies and otherwise, and there is no doubt that there are leaders in many of those nations that would prefer to see someone else running this country. That's just the facts.

Some things are surmise, of course. Has John Kerry spoken to some of those people? Probably. Did some of them say encouaging things to him? Probably. Should he have mentioned those conversations, in any context? Probably not.

But does it matter? Not really.

Here's what matters. We have troops engaged in armed combat in three separate theaters of operation. The US economy has bled out over three million jobs in three years, and the replacements are nowhere on the horizon. People in this country will die this very day because they are unable to afford medical care that could save their lives. As I write these words, children are sitting in classrooms with outdated texts, obsolete equipment and over worked teachers. Those things matter.

So, what's the entire apparatus of the administration, from the Secretary of State to the White House Press Secretary, and on down through layers of bureaucracy into the lapdog press and right wing of the blogosphere all excited about?

A side comment, poorly recorded and widely misreported, made by John Kerry in a private setting. Big freaking whoop, right?

Well, right.

So, what's got me off on this rant? Well, since I can barely keep up with the people I actually want to read every day, I depend on a couple of regular sources to get a handle on what the right wing is up to. One of those is Memorandum, which tracks what's hot and what's not online, and which samples more right wing bloggers than I care to believe exist.

So what's the big new today? Among the twenty five stories they were tracking when I checked in this morning, ten were about the tragedy in Spain and the electoral fallout that resulted. Fair enough.

What's number two? The Kerry comment! Five separate news stories, dozens of blog entries, feigned outrage from the net's Drudgeophiles at every turn.

Over a comment that, let's face it, is simply true.

Hillary was right. There is a vicious right wing conspiracy, and it's primary job is distraction.

Well, they got my attention, anyway.

Talk about burying the lede... have to read all the way to the very bottom line of this AP report to get the real bottom line on the situation in Haiti.

"With Aristide militants threatening protests that usually turn deadly, Haiti appeared set for more turmoil."

It's pretty tough to set up Aristide as a champion of democracy in a country whose democratic institutions have always been tenuous at best, but there's no getting around the fact that he has a substantial base of support among his countrymen. Strong enough, in fact, that the opposition has never defeated him at the polls. His first removal was a military coup, plain and simple, and I've yet to hear another word that better describes his latest removal.

And now we have 1600 US Marines on the ground, Marines who have already killed at least six Haitians and suffered their own first casualty. Marines who have been dispatched to preserve the outcome of an armed rebellion against a democratically elected government. Marines who "...are seen as an occupation army by militants who believe Aristide's charges that the United States abducted him and forced him to leave the country."

I can't imagine a scarier or more senseless duty station than Haiti right now. I can't imagine the thought process of a Commander in Chief who will send troops to the wrong place at the wrong time to support the wrong side. I can't believe how easily this whole mess could have been avoided with appropriate economic and humanitarian support, not for the Aristide government, but for the Haitian people.

I can't believe how many people in how many places George W. Bush is willing to see killed in his ridiculous fits of ideological pique.

And I can't believe a single American is a bit safer because of a single thing the madman in the White House has done.

The bogeyman will get you...

...if you don't vote Bush. That's really the heart of the BC04 re-elect campaign, isn't it? Your fear is his greatest strength. But there's an internal contradiction there, pointed out succinctly by Politus:

"The question to be asked in November amid all the hysteria will be this: If Chimpy is doing such a good job protecting us, why is everybody so hysterical and frightened?"

Could it possibly be that John Kerry is right, after all? That real security lies in sound intelligence, effective enforcement and strengthening our first responders?

Well, as a matter of fact, yeah...