Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bremer On Bush

Undoubtedly, the most talked about paragraph of the day today will be the one excerpted from Paul Bremer's book in the New York Times Review Of Books. From NYTROB:

Bremer says that Bush "was as vigorous and decisive in person as he appeared on television." But in fact he gives an account of a superficial and weak leader. He had lunch with the President before leaving for Baghdad —a meeting joined by the Vice President and the national security team—but no decision seems to have been made on any of the major issues concerning Iraq's future. Instead, Bremer got a blanket grant of authority that he clearly enjoyed exercising. The President's directions seem to have been limited to such slogans as "we're not going to fail" and "pace yourself, Jerry." In Bremer's account, the President was seriously interested in one issue: whether the leaders of the government that followed the CPA would publicly thank the United States. But there is no evidence that he cared about the specific questions that counted: Would the new prime minister have a broad base of support? Would he be able to bridge Iraq's ethnic divisions? What political values should he have? Instead, Bush had only one demand: "It's important to have someone who's willing to stand up and thank the American people for their sacrifice in liberating Iraq." According to Bremer, he came back to this single point three times in the same meeting. Similarly, Ghazi al-Yawar, an obscure Sunni Arab businessman, became Bush's candidate for president of Iraq's interim government because, as Bremer reports, Bush had "been favorably impressed with his open thanks to the Coalition."

While I don't doubt Bush was this myopic going into the Iraq war, it is important to remember that this comes from a CYA effort on the part of Bremer, and while he isn't as much to blame as Bush for this fool's folly, he did fuck up quite a few things in the post war occupation.

Conflicting Reports

The big story in today's Washington Post reports that sectarian violence in Iraq has actually claimed over 1300 victims since the bombing of the Askariya Mosque in Samarra. Ned Colt on MSNBC this morning puts the number closer to 400. Both claimed similar sources for their numbers, but that is a pretty wide variation. The actual number probably lies somewhere in the middle.

One thing is for sure, these numbers are larger than were known when administration officials gushed over progress in Iraq on the Sunday talk shows this past weekend.

You have to wonder if the administration purposely depressed these numbers to allow Bush some cover until he bolts for India and Pakistan this week to allow for a little cooling off time.

The Ports Deal

I appear to be in the minority of people who still believe that the DPW ports deal is going to go through. Sure, they'll go through the charade of a forty five day review, but for what ever reason, Bush wants this deal to go through, so it will.

The reality is that at least four key republican Senators (Frist, McCain, Santorum, and Allen) are eyeing a run for the White House in 2008, and know that only one of them is going to gain access to the vast fund raising ability of the Bush machine, and none of them is willing to let a little thing like national security get in the way of that access.

They should be able to stop any legislation from getting through the Senate.

We'll see.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Bush Off The Cliff

In the first polling I've seen since the port deal was made public, President Bush's approval ratings have fallen eight points from last month to 34% according to a new CBS news poll. Seventy percent of Americans disapprove of the ports deal.

The camel's back is broken.

DOJ Warns Congress

In what is not necessarily good news, the Department of Justice has warned Congress that they need to get the Ethics committee up and running, or they will clean house. From Time:

The Justice Department has a message for Congress: clean up your house or else we may have to do it for you. A senior federal law enforcement official told TIME that the paralyzed and often lax House ethics committee has created a vacuum that prosecutors won't hesitate to fill. The House’s internal mechanism for keeping corruption in check is "broken," says the official.

Sounds promising, doesn't it? It isn't. It all boils down to overturning the intent of the voter. What the DOJ is really saying here is look, if you don't start to deal with your problem, a lot of you are going to jail, and we don't want to do that, so you better get the ethics committee running so we can hand these investigations off to you and be done with it.

With the current scandals being almost entirely republican scandals, it would be a bad thing for us if the DOJ drops their investigations in return for the Ethics Committee to do the heavy lifting, which will probably not get done. For what it's forth, the Ethic Committee really doesn't like to overturn the intent of the voter.

This was always the danger as the depth of the Abramoff investigation began to reveal itself.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Too Illegit To Quit

Somebody planning to make the Ohio governor's mansion his home may have an illegitimate child, and apparently missed some payments. He's also really, really, really keen on Jesus.

You find out a lot in Canada.

I Live

Canada couldn't kill me.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Beyond Ridiculous

Something smells in Left Blogistan. It started with a letter from the United Steel Workers which has been republished here, here, and linked to here. The text of the letter reads as follows:

In addition, the USW calls on labor unions, the three Democratic national committees (DNC, DSCC, and DCCC) and other progressive organizations to follow suit and contact these consultants immediately. We ask you to call these consultants and ask them why they are under contract with Cuellar. We also ask that we collectively decide to support the decision to protect labor’s values and not hire political opportunists.

Henry Cuellar is an anti-worker, pro-CAFTA, a Democrat In-Name-Only. Cuellar actively campaigned for President Bush and sat on the Republican side of the aisle as Bush delivered his State of the Union address last month.

Anybody working for Cuellar’s reelection, therefore, is openly working against the interests of our members and the entire Labor Movement. Cuellar has consistently voted against working people by voting for CAFTA, against OSHA, supporting Bush’s budget and siding with Wal-Mart on child labor law, his close ties to anti-union groups such as the Club for Growth and BIPAC (Business Industry PAC) are more than enough reasons for the Labor Movement to urge that Democratic consultants Drop Henry Now. We urge you to join us by calling these consultants immediately and demanding that they Drop Henry Now. Together, we will send a strong message to Cuellar -- our values are not for sale. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter.In addition, the USW calls on labor unions, the three Democratic national committees (DNC, DSCC, and DCCC) and other progressive organizations to follow suit and contact these consultants immediately. We ask you to call these consultants and ask them why they are under contract with Cuellar. We also ask that we collectively decide to support the decision to protect labor’s values and not hire political opportunists.
Henry Cuellar is an anti-worker, pro-CAFTA, a Democrat In-Name-Only. Cuellar actively campaigned for President Bush and sat on the Republican side of the aisle as Bush delivered his State of the Union address last month.

Anybody working for Cuellar’s reelection, therefore, is openly working against the interests of our members and the entire Labor Movement. Cuellar has consistently voted against working people by voting for CAFTA, against OSHA, supporting Bush’s budget and siding with Wal-Mart on child labor law, his close ties to anti-union groups such as the Club for Growth and BIPAC (Business Industry PAC) are more than enough reasons for the Labor Movement to urge that Democratic consultants Drop Henry Now. We urge you to join us by calling these consultants immediately and demanding that they Drop Henry Now. Together, we will send a strong message to Cuellar -- our values are not for sale. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter.

Kos and Matt Stoller at MyDD went as far as to publish names and phone numbers of the various consultants for their readers to harass. It's not just wrong, it reeks of McCarthyism from the left. Look, I certainly would like to see Ciro Rodriguez defeat Henry Cuellar in the Texas-28 primary. I don't like Cuellar, but I don't think we should be in business of blacklisting people due to their clients. It only serves to hurt our overall movement.

Fuck it, I'm going to Canada to make sure the ladies of Windsor are equipped with the proper floatation devices should the Detroit River ever flood.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bush Didn't Know

ABC News is now reporting that President Bush didn't know anything about the Dubai Ports World deal which would allow them to operate six US ports until the deal was completed.

The whole story is not up yet, but I have to ask. Who's running the show at the White House?


In January, George Bush nominated David Sanborn to be our new head of the Maritime Administration in the Department of Transportation. Sanborn was previously an executive at DP World.

I'd have to think something nefarious is at hand here, he actually seems to be qualified for the job.

Six Ports In A Storm

I'm sure you've seen the coverage of the sale of the British company P&O to Dubai Ports World, who would then operate six US ports. Let's take a look at the political ramifications of the deal that has been approved by the Bush administration.

As far as the political side goes, Bush really stepped on his dick with this one. Republicans in Congress are rightfully pissed over the approval, because Bush really cut their throats in an election year. Now he's actually threatening to veto any legislation they may pass to stop the deal.

The polling shows it, and Karl Rove has actually stated it, the republicans have to run on national security this year. It's the ONLY issue people believe republicans have ANY credibility on. Now, they are being seen as giving the key to six American cities to the enemy. That's not going to sit well with many voters who simply aren't going to be able to understand this complex issue. They'll also probably be shocked to find out that a lot of our other ports are operated by foreign companies, including Chinese ones, who by the way, actually have nuclear weapons.

You see, that's what all the backlash from the American people is all about. They're worried that an Islamic terrorist could smuggle a nuclear weapon into this country through these ports, no matter that American customs agents and workers actually staff the ports, and that the odds of that happening are no better or worse than any other port in America.

This deal shines the light brightly on port security though, which the Democrats have been trying to make an issue ever since 9/11. Port security has been vastly underfunded by the republicans ever since then, but now the DPW deal gives us a canvas to paint this failure on that has now been burned into their minds by the news coverage of it.

This will also have the effect of making it harder for Bush to raise money for Congressional republicans, none of which should be wanting to have their picture taken with him right now. They're going to have to run far away from Bush or face diminished chances of winning re-election. All good.

Lastly, here in Ohio, we get a little added bonus. Remember Rob Portman, the rising star in the republican party that used to hold OH-02 before that wacko Jean Schmidt? He's now the US Trade Representative, and as a member of The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, he signed off on the deal. That's an albatross he will carry into any future campaigns he should choose to mount.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Latest Wiretap Triumph?

Three men here in Ohio have been indicted on charges that they planning attacks overseas to try to kill U.S. and coalition military personnel in Iraq and other countries. (Good thing they're federal charges, what with republicans clogging our state courts.)

This strikes me as very odd though. Why would terrorists want to recruit manpower in the US to attack in Iraq? If you had assets placed here, it would make much more sense to use them here. Getting their people into the US is the hardest thing for terrorists to accomplish.

It doesn't add up. After all, Iraq doesn't seem to have a shortage of manpower used to carry out attacks anyway.

We won't know for sure until more information comes out, but I see this as a bunch of guys who probably just ran their yaps a little too much. Probably all talk, much like those militia idiots in the nineties; however, I'm pretty sure this will be triumphed as a major breakthrough brought about by, you guessed it, Bush's illegal wiretapping program.

It's pretty sad that I even feel compelled to write this, that our government has inspired such a lack of trust that I just can't take it at face value, and to be clear, I can't. Given the lies that this administration perpetuates on a daily basis, I feel I have to scrutinize every single thing they say.

And The Lord Said, "Go Negative Early, Go Negative Often"

Ken Blackwell released scathing negative ads yesterday against Jim Petro calling his ethics "worse than Taft." From the Columbus Dispatch:

Using unflattering images of Petro and Taft, the ads refer to the "Coingate" scandal involving former Maumee rare-coin dealer Thomas W. Noe, who was indicted last week on 53 felony counts of corruption and theft, and note that Taft last year was "guilty of ethics violations."

"Petro gave $129 million in unbid legal contracts and expected campaign kickbacks in return," says the TV ad, flashing newspaper articles. "He’s used the special counsel program as a fundraising ATM. His ethics are worse than Taft’s."

All in all, nothing but good news for us Democrats. I loves me a nasty republican primary, especially given the dynamics here.

What Ken Blackwell's extremely negative ads will do is force Jim Petro to respond in kind. I know, everyone says they hate negative ads, but they do work. There is a side effect though. They also suppress turnout, and that favors Blackwell. The higher the turnout, the more likely Petro will win, so if Petro responds with negative ads, he could possibly end up hurting his own chances.

This is all good news. I don't think Blackwell can win in the general election. Too many moderate republicans simply will not vote for him, especially as the cult of George Bush continues to wane here in Ohio. Bush currently has a 37% approval rating in Ohio.

A primary can be a good thing for a party if it's done right, this one isn't going to be, it will be fought in the gutter.

Brent Wilkes

The Washington Post today has a pretty good profile on Brent Wilkes, the man implicated in convicted Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA). It looks like that as Wilkes influence with other republicans increased, he needed Cunningham less and less, which caused Cunningham to start demanding money, rather than just accepting it. From the Post:

Business was so good for Wilkes that he allegedly gave Cunningham $100,000 in 2000, according to the former congressman's recent plea agreement. And the following year he expanded his business by setting up his own lobbying firm, Group W Advisors, in the Washington suburbs, to pursue earmarks.

He became an active supporter of leading House Republicans and began flying Cunningham and several others around on a corporate jet. As he cultivated new political friends, he became less dependent on Cunningham to win him earmarks.


In a court filing Friday, prosecutors in the Cunningham case said that in May 2004 the congressman demanded that Wilkes give $525,000 to pay off a second mortgage on Cunningham's new home in Rancho Santa Fe. Wilkes agreed, the document said, on the condition he receive an additional $6 million in government funding, which he did through a Pentagon subcontract.

So, once he didn't need Cunningham, who was benefiting from Wilkes largess? Tom Delay, Roy Blunt, and John Doolittle received most of Wilkes' campaign donations. Doolittle received $85,000 in campaign cash for which Wilkes received $37 million worth of earmarks. Seems like a pretty straight forward pay to play to me.

Look for more indictments to come from this investigation.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Approval Ratings

In the latest Survey USA polling of sitting governors, Bob Taft is again running last in approval ratings with an anemic 14% positive rating. There no news there, but as I was perusing the cross tabs, one thing stood out.

Taft's approval rating ranged from 8% to 17% across all tabs with the exception of two. Taft received a 31% approval among Hispanics, and a 32% approval rating from "Other" races. Why?

I can't think of anything Taft has done to especially ingratiate himself to these minorities, so I don't think that's it. I think it's more likely that neither political party has managed to achieve a great deal of market penetration in these groups. It's something we need to look into.

While Hispanics and other minorities represent only about 4% of Ohio's population, it's a misleading number due to the fact that many African emigres list their race as African-American, or black. The fact that the African-American approval rating mirrored job approval numbers among whites underscores that point. I think the number of "New Americans" may in fact be twice that number. Consider this, in the 2000 census 6.1% of Ohioans lived in a home where a language other than English was spoken.

These are our voters for the taking. They hate Bush, and therefore we have an edge over republicans in wooing them. They also turn out to vote in unbelievable numbers. I worked in a precinct in the 2004 with a large Somali population and I think every single Somali on my voter role showed up to vote, and they voted straight ticket Democrat, at least all of them did that we could get a sample ballot. We have to do a better job of getting sample ballots out in these communities.

It should be noted that we didn't really do anything extraordinary to bring the Somali population into our fold. Michael Coleman was the mayor here when they arrived and they mostly like the guy. It could have easily went another way.

So, what's the answer to increasing our market penetration with New Americans? I'll let you think about that for a while, then give you my ideas in another post on another day.

Sour Grapes

Some former staffers of Paul Hackett's Senate campaign are dumping some of their opposition research into the press. That's very poor etiquette, although there is nothing in the research that republicans don't already know.

One piece of advise though, next time you try to stab somebody in the back, don't use a butter knife.

Israel Halts Payments

Israel's cabinet has decided to freeze monthly tax and customs duties to the Palestinian government in reaction to Hamas winning a ruling majority in the Palestinian Parliament. I think this will end up being counterproductive policy in the long run. There will never be peace in the region until the Palestinian government can serve as a fully functioning body for its people.

First of all, this is rightfully the Palestinian's money, it isn't aide funds that are being cut off, and it will be seen by people on the street as theft, plain and simple. That only stands to drive more people who will affected by the cash crunch this will cause to support Hamas.

It's pretty obvious that the United States and Israel are trying to squeeze the Hamas led government into failure, although they repeatedly make bogus claims that this is not true. In today's Washington Post Israeli acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "However, there is no intention of harming the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population." That's a fine thing to say, but this policy will end up doing just that.

The real problem this policy will cause is that Hamas isn't going to just lay down and say we're broke, they're going to go look for the money somewhere else, and they'll most likely get it from someone with little interest in the road map for peace.

I think Israel is forgetting that you keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Brown Is The New Black

I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh, to be honest, I don't listen to any political talk radio. I find most of it excruciatingly dull, liberal or conservative. Anyway, last week on Limbaugh's show he called out the New York Times. Why? From the San Jose Mercury News:

When Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett was forced out of the Democratic primary in the U.S. Senate race in Ohio, the conservative commentator criticized The New York Times for not saying that the Democrats' preferred candidate is black.

Limbaugh later found out from e-mails to his nationally syndicated radio show that the candidate, Rep. Sherrod Brown, is, in fact, white.

"Uh, Sherrod Brown's a white guy? Then I'm confusing him with somebody. OK, I'm sorry," Limbaugh said this week.

Sure, he's an idiot, and as e-mails continued to come in to his show, he said, "We have corrected this, and I, you know, I'm not gonna apologize because I don't think it's an insult to be black."

He's right there, it's not an insult. So, why did he bring it up in the first place? The fact of the matter is that by bringing up the issue, Limbaugh was signalling to the racist constituency of the republican party to watch out, there's a darkie running for the Senate.

Can you imagine the outrage Rush would have spilled on to the radio if a liberal would have said the same thing about a republican candidate?

Mega Iran

Megan K. Stack and Borzou Daragahi take a look at who's winning in Iraq in today's LA Times and come to the conclusion that the ultimate winner will be Iran and the Middle East's Shia population. From the LA Times:

The Islamic government in neighboring Iran watched with trepidation in March 2003 when U.S.-led troops stormed Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime and start remaking the political map of the Mideast.

In retrospect, the Islamic Republic could have celebrated: The war has left America's longtime nemesis with profound influence in the new Iraq and pushed it to the apex of power in the region.

Emboldened by its new status and shielded by deep oil reserves, Tehran is pressing ahead with its nuclear program, daring the international community to impose sanctions. Iran is a Shiite Muslim nation with an ethnic Persian majority, and the blossoming of its influence has fueled the ambitions of long-repressed Shiites throughout the Arab world.

I had always thought this would be the end result in Iraq and the reason why a civil war will probably happen. The Sunni leaders of the Western countries of the Middle East see the writing on the wall and are probably helping to foment the Iraqi insurgency. Also from The Times:

When Jordan's King Abdullah II warned a year ago with uncharacteristic bluntness that the emergence of a new government in Iraq could create a "Shiite crescent," Shiites in Iraq reacted angrily and Jordanian officials insisted the king had been misunderstood.

But many analysts believe he meant exactly what he said: that a fortified Iranian influence now stretches throughout Iraq, through the Kurdistan region into Turkey, to an ever weaker Syria and down into Lebanon's Hezbollah-dominated south, on Israel's border. Iran's hand also stretches into the heart of the Arabian peninsula through Shiite communities scattered in the Persian Gulf countries.


"We fought a war together to keep Iran from occupying Iraq. . . . Now we are handing the whole country over to Iran without reason," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York last year.

The worst part of all of this is that as we continue to "stay the course" in Iraq by fighting the insurgency, we are in fact, spending billions of dollars fighting to help out our probable end game enemies, which only makes sense if your long term goals are to spend billions more to provide a security blanket for the Saudis and other pro-US governments in the region. I doubt that was our plan, but it's where we're stuck now.

Cutting It Close

Charlie Wilson turned in at least 43 invalid signatures out of the 96 he filed in his campaign to replace Ted Strickland in the Ohio 6th Congressional District. They didn't happen to live in the district.

With seven signatures valid in Scioto County, 43 of his 46 signatures from Belmont County must be validated to make the ballot. That's pretty tight, and I would have to doubt that he is going to make it. Look for the republicans on the Belmont County Board of Elections to go over each signature with a fine tooth comb.

I consistently amazed at how often candidates screw up their petition drives. It is the most important aspect of any campaign, you can't win if you're not on the ballot. Yet, a lot of candidates from both parties seem to take a pretty lackadaisical attitude toward them.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Going Down To Rikers

Guess who went to Riker's Island to see Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello after his arrest in connection with the murder of Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis. It was Jack Abramoff associate Adam Kidan. From the Orlando Sun-Sentinel:

Adam Kidan saw Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello at Rikers Island jail in New York City on Sept. 29, making the businessman the only person outside Moscatiello's family and attorneys who visited the alleged mob associate his first 16 days behind bars, records show. Before Boulis' Feb. 6, 2001, drive-by execution, Kidan and Boulis had been locked in a bitter fight over control of the Dania Beach-based gambling ship fleet.

I wonder what they talked about? Perhaps Kidan went to see Moscatiello to make sure there wasn't a bullet out there with his name on it. Moscatiello had reportedly paid hit man Paul Brandreth $10,000 to clean up the Boulis situation, but Brandreth got pinched on another murder before he could do the job. Brandreth was supposed to hit James "Pudgy' Fiorillo, also charged in the Boulis case, and two other men whose names he could not recall.

Look, A Six Foot Quail

All in all, Harry doesn't look too bad for a guy shot in the face. Photo courtesy of Bloomberg News

Paul Hackett

Mother Jones has the skinny on Paul Hackett's withdraw from the Ohio Senatorial race. The article confirms the rumor that the DC beltway crowd was actively trying to shut down his ability raise money. From Mother Jones:

Hackett had demonstrated his ability to shake money from donors during a January fundraising roadshow in California and New York. But he soon discovered that top Democrats were attempting to cut off his money. The hosts of a Beverly Hills fundraiser for Hackett received an e-mail from the political action committee of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) that concluded, “I hope you will re-consider your efforts on behalf of Hackett and give your support to Sherrod.” Waxman’s chief of staff, Phil Schiliro, said the e-mail was only sent to a handful of people and that “it probably came from a suggestion from the Sherrod Brown campaign.”

Michael Fleming, who manages Internet millionaire David Bohnett’s political and charitable giving, was one of the recipients of the Waxman email. Bohnett has given to hundreds of progressive candidates, but Fleming says, “This was the first time I had ever gotten an email or communication like that. I find it discouraging and disheartening. It’s unfortunate that the powers that be didn’t let the people of Ohio figure this out. We should be in the business of encouraging people like Paul Hackett and viable progressive candidates like him to run. The message instead is don’t bother, it’s not worth your time.”

Sen. Schumer was also reported to be trying to turn off Hackett’s cash spigots. No one would confirm this to me on the record. But veteran political activist David Mixner, who described himself as “a fanatically strong supporter” of Hackett and who helped sponsor a New York fundraiser, confirmed that he “received calls from a couple people in Congress urging Paul Hackett to withdraw or not to contribute money to his campaign. The reasons ranged from he can’t win, to he’s too controversial, Brown has more money, is more centrist, and more appealing. It was that inner beltway circle crap,” said Mixner. “They are people who have no idea what’s going on in the country but believe they know everything.”

While these people were urged not give Hackett money, it doesn't look like any of them heeded the advise. Like I said before, if DC knuckleheads sway your support of a particular candidate, your support wasn't that strong in the first place.

The reality of the situation was that Hackett wasn't going to be able to catch up to Sherrod Brown moneywise, and he was behind Brown by about twenty points. It just doesn't make sense to continue the campaign unless you are using it as a stepping stone to improve your name ID for a future run, and Hackett has repeatedly said he wasn't a career politician.

There's still a lot of misplaced anger out there from the far left, which in the end got a candidate closer to their ideals. I've been getting e-mails inviting me to protest everything from Young Dems events to Franklin County Democratic Women's Club Campaign Kickoff.

There is an event tomorrow, so I'll check it out to try to get a better sense of this.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Arlen's Earmarks

Almost all members of Congress insert an earmark here or there to bring some pork back to the district. What they don't usually do is send millions home to the clients of one of your top aide's lobbyist husband. Arlen does. From USA Today:

Sen. Arlen Specter helped direct almost $50 million in Pentagon spending during the past four years to clients of the husband of one of his top aides, records show.

Specter, R-Pa., used a process called "earmarking" 13 times to set aside $48.7 million for six clients represented by lobbyist Michael Herson and the firm he co-founded, American Defense International. The clients paid Herson's firm nearly $1.5 million in fees since 2002, federal lobbying records show.

Herson's wife, Vicki Siegel Herson, is Specter's legislative assistant for appropriations. She deals with Specter's work on the Senate Appropriations Committee and its defense subcommittee, where all the earmarks originated. Siegel, who uses her maiden name at work, is a former lobbyist for defense contractors who has worked for Specter since 1999.

Later in the article Herson says, "I do not set foot in Specter's office as a lobbyist." Of course not, you don't have to when you have somebody working on the inside.

Nut Job

That's Deborah Owens Fink, one of the members of the State of Ohio's Board of Education that supports Intelligent Design. I feel pretty safe in saying that when a newspaper runs this picture of you, the general consensus is that you're nuts. The only thing that is missing is the coo coo bird coming out of her forehead.

Admission Of Guilt?

Dick Cheney claimed yesterday that he has the authority to declassify information, in other words, it's not a leak when he does it because he's allowed to do it. From ABC News:

But in the interview, Cheney said an executive order gives him, and President Bush, power to declassify information.

"I have certainly advocated declassification. I have participated in declassification decisions," Cheney said. Asked for details, he said, "I don't want to get into that. There's an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously it focuses first and foremost on the president, but also includes the vice president."

This certainly may be true, but it is still no excuse for outing a CIA agent for political reasons. It might not be illegal, but it certainly weakens our national security, especially when that agent was working on Iran's nuclear capabilities. That would be a nice thing to have right now, don't you think?

Cheney is basically saying, "I'll do want I want, and if you don't like it, fuck off." Unfortunately, we probably have to accept it for two more years.

Now, as a result of Cheney's poor handling of his trigger happy adventure, talk is starting to forment about his possible resignation. It isn't going to happen, and it shouldn't. As much as most of us want to see Cheney, and Karl Rove for that matter, tossed out on their collectively fat asses, it would probably be a bad thing for the country. We can't leave tard boy alone at the wheel. God knows what kind of shape we'd be in if that happened.

Also, think about this. Given Bush's recent appointments to key government positions, who knows what kind of nitwits would replace them.

Brain Fart

I had sort of a brain fart when I wrote this piece yesterday. A federal candidate only needs fifty signatures to get on the ballot. For some reason I was thinking about state wide candidates. Damn Jagermeister.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Anybody want to bet that Trigger cries tonight in his Fox News interview?

Update: No tears, in fact, no emotion at all. This guy does a piss poor remorseful act.

Any Question Who Runs The Show

There has always been a lot of speculation as to who really runs the country. Is it George Bush, or is it really Dick Cheney? Cheney's shooting of an old man has shed a lot of light on the issue. From ABC News:

Sources told ABC News that the vice president's team had debated issuing a statement early Sunday morning per the White House's request. But sources said Cheney's team decided it would be more credible to allow ranch owner and witness Katharine Armstrong to make the information public. [emphasis mine]

So, after the White House asked Cheney to make a statement, he merely considered it. Guess when you run the show, you call the shots. (Again, not an intended Cheney pun)

All in all, this has been a pretty enjoyable week for me. I love watching Scott McCellan twist in the wind while reporters question him about the incident. It's always pleasurable when the republicans fuck up such an inconsequential event, and by the standards of Cheney's fuck ups this is inconsequential event.

I guess it still remains true, it's never the big fuck up that sink you, it's always the stupid little shit that gets handled badly.

Cheney Speak, You Listen

Dick Cheney is going to pop his head out of his bunker tonight to give an interview on Fox News at 6:00pm. I'm sure by the time Fox gets done with the interview the accident will totally be Harry Whittington's fault and he should be sent to Gitmo for impeding the vice president shots as they attempted to fell an Al-Queda sympathizing quail.

Oh, and in no way was alcohol involved.


Jim O'Brien has won his lawsuit against The Ohio State University for his termination as men's basketball coach.

I didn't see this coming. The judge actually ruled that O'Brien had breached his contract by making a loan to a potential recruit, but that the infraction didn't merit dismissal.

Jeff, any comment?

Hackett Backlash

After perusing the blogosphere and talking with people last night, I've found a lot of backlash towards the Democratic leadership in what most see as them forcing Paul Hackett out of the race.

Look, Hackett dropped out on his own. Party leaders can't force you out of the race, anybody is free to run in a primary. As for the claim that party leaders were in fact calling your supporters to get them to stop giving you money and it works, then that support was shaky at best, although it is somewhat of a dirty tactic.

The bottom line is that you can't run as an outsider, then bitch and moan that the DC beltway crowd isn't behind you lock, stock, and barrel. (No Dick Cheney pun intended)

I've also heard as of yet unconfirmed rumors that Hackett was running short of signatures to make the ballot. I find that hard to believe as I attended a Hackett grassroots reception last week and there appeared to be no sense of urgency to get people out collecting signatures, but I'll look into it.

Anyway, it is what it is, and now Sherrod Brown is our man to unseat Mike DeWine, so keep your eyes on the prize and help take DeWine out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tales From Beyond The Defibrillator

A piece of birdshot migrated to Harry Whittington's heart and caused a minor heart attack. Cheney will have to teach him the secret handshake now.

Cheney's Other Hunting Follies

One of the things that has come out of the Dick Cheney manhunt fiasco is one of the veep's other hunting peculiarities. He likes to participate in canned hunts. A canned hunt is one where pen raised animals, almost always birds, are set out in a usually small area for hunters to wade through. It's basically hunting for lazy people, and Cheney enjoys gorging himself at the trough at these events. From WTAE-TV Pittsburgh:

Monday's [December 5, 2005] hunting trip to Pennsylvania by Vice President Dick Cheney in which he reportedly shot more than 70 stocked pheasants and an unknown number of mallard ducks at an exclusive private club places a spotlight on an increasingly popular and deplorable form of hunting, in which birds are pen-reared and released to be shot in large numbers by patrons. The ethics of these hunts are called into question by rank-and-file sportsmen, who hunt animals in their native habitat and do not shoot confined or pen-raised animals that cannot escape.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported today that 500 farm-raised pheasants were released yesterday morning at the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township for the benefit of Cheney's 10-person hunting party. The group killed at least 417 of the birds, illustrating the unsporting nature of canned hunts. The party also shot an unknown number of captive mallards in the afternoon.

Canned hunts for lazy people are one thing, but this is just ghoulish. That's an extremely high number of birds for a ten person hunting party. Cheney personally shot over 70 birds himself. Think about that. The daily bag limit here in Ohio is two. Cheney shot more than thirty five times the acceptable limit, although these limits do not count towards canned hunts, which are held on private property.

What else does Cheney do for fun, work in a Tyson slaughterhouse on the weekends?

I Shot The Sheriff, But I Didn't Shoot That Big Green Deputy

Hulk see speeder, Hulk issue citation. Lou Ferrigno has become a LA County reserve sheriff's deputy. What is it with celebrities wanting to be cops?

The Turning Tide

It is starting to look like Intelligent Design has run its course. I'm sure at some point it will come back, with another name, and its push will begin anew. From the New York Times:

A majority of members on the Board of Education of Ohio, the first state to single out evolution for "critical analysis" in science classes more than three years ago, are expected on Tuesday to challenge a model biology lesson plan they consider an excuse to teach the tenets of the disputed theory of intelligent design.

A reversal in Ohio would be the most significant in a series of developments signaling a sea change across the country against intelligent design — which posits that life is too complex to be explained by evolution alone — since a federal judge's ruling in December that teaching the theory in the public schools of Dover, Pa., was unconstitutional.

A small rural school district in California last month quickly scuttled plans for a philosophy elective on intelligent design after being challenged by lawyers involved in the Pennsylvania case. Also last month, an Indiana lawmaker who said in November that he would introduce legislation to mandate teaching of intelligent design instead offered a watered-down bill requiring only "accuracy in textbooks." And just last week, two Democrats in Wisconsin proposed a ban on schools' teaching intelligent design as science, the first such proposal in the country.

Good riddance to bad policy.

Ohio Governor: Fingerhut Out

Eric Fingerhut has dropped out of the Ohio gubernatorial race. Never really knew why he got in, I assumed it was because he wanted to build name recognition and could run safe, so dropping out doesn't make much sense. Hope he banked some campaign cash for a future run.

Ohio Senate: Hackett's Out

Paul Hackett is dropping out of the Ohio Senate race, leaving the nomination to Sherrod Brown. Hackett has also said he will leave politics altogether. I hope this isn't true, but I can see his point. From the New York Times:

"This is an extremely disappointing decision that I feel has been forced on me," said Mr. Hackett, whose announcement comes two days before the state's filing deadline for candidates. He said he was outraged to learn that party leaders were calling his donors and asking them to stop giving and said he would not enter the Second District Congressional race.

"For me, this is a second betrayal," Mr. Hackett said. "First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me."

For the record, I think that either Hackett or Brown would have won beaten Mike DeWine, and I hope that the people Hackett brought into the process will get behind Sherrod Brown.

It's probably a good time now to look at the things Hackett brought into this cycle, and it's a lot. In fact, his special election showing against Jean Schmidt is probably the singular most important accomplishment this cycle. Why? It set the narrative.

Look, a Democrat can't win that district once election turnout goes over about 22 or 23%. In a special election, however, turnout usually fall around those number. This is often overlooked. We parachuted in around 800 volunteers into that race to get it close. The result is that Hackett's close loss made national headlines. If the republicans are having a tough time in an election that is solidly GOP country, they must be in trouble. That's the narrative for this cycle, and it's been a few cycles since the last time Democrats were able to set the narrative.

Setting the narrative is very important for several reasons. First of all, it got a few of our candidates who had been sitting in their little fiefdoms to stop riding side saddle and step up to the plate. Selling your own candidates on stepping up is the most important, and sometimes most difficult thing to accomplish in politics.

Once quality candidates, which we have been sorely lacking in the recent past, got into the race, the narrative carried forward to the media. Seeing top notch Democratic candidates trying to make the jump to bigger and better offices gave them the impression that blood is in the water, and they starting writing articles to that affect which passes that narrative on to the public. This generally changes the public mood and actually end up putting blood in the water. Its one of those things you can't really see in early polling numbers, but it does show up in ballot box numbers.

I'd like to personally thank Hackett, and all the volunteers who helped him. You've given the Democratic party more than most people will ever know.

Getting Tough With Sharks

If you've watched the news for the last few years, you'd think that sharks have been walking out of the ocean and stealing babies from their mothers, but shark attacks have actually been declining over the last five years.

This is mainly due to declining populations of sharks from overfishing, but according to this Reuters article, it's also because people are fighting back, literally. Ah, Man show shark who boss. From MSNBC:

Humans are also taking greater care to avoid areas where sharks gather and fighting back when they get bitten, Burgess said. A surfer bitten by a great white shark off the Oregon coast on Dec. 24 drove it away with a punch to the nose, he said.

“If you’re being approached by a shark, you certainly want to act aggressively toward the animal. They’re a predator, they respect size and power,” Burgess said.

“If you can smack them on the nose, certainly do so ... sharks seem to respect pops on the nose.”

Those already in the jaws of a shark should “claw at the eyes and the gills to impress the animal that you’re not going to go down easily,” he advised.

This is just silly. I don't see how MSNBC draws the conclusion that shark attacks are down because of aggressive human behavior. Perhaps fatalities are down, but in the instances that are cited, a shark attack has already occurred.

With sharks getting so much media attention, can shark boxing be far behind on the next episode of Fox's Man vs Beast?

Monday, February 13, 2006

DomiNoe Muthafucker

The indictments are out in the scheme to defraud Ohio's Bureau of Worker's Compensation. Thomas Noe has been nailed with a 53 count indictment. From WCMH-TV:

The indictment against Noe included a charge alleging he engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity, 22 counts of forgery, 11 counts each of theft and money laundering and eight counts of tampering with records.

Hmm, that's only 42 counts, so I'm not sure what the other 11 are. Also getting swept up in the DomiNoe effect was Noe partner, Timothy LaPointe, who was indicted on engaging in corrupt activity and six counts of tampering with records.

That makes a total of five DomiNoes down so far, how many others will follow?

Dick "Trick Shot" Cheney

Overall, I think Dick Cheney shooting his friend is pretty funny. If you've heard any jokes involving this incident, leave them in the comments. The two funniest I've heard so far came from this top ten list of excuses.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

When Corruption Becomes Comedy

I've written about a good deal of corruption among Ohio and DC republicans, but the mayor and city council of Vernon, CA. could teach all of them a thing or two. Hell, the mob could learn from these guys. From the LA Times:

Twenty-five years after its elected officials last had a contested ballot, eight strangers took up residence in the tiny city four miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Last month, after just a few days in town, three of the newcomers filed petitions to run for City Council in the April 11 election.

Within days, city utility trucks had turned off their power. The building they shared was slapped with red tags by inspectors who said the property was "unsafe and dangerous" as a residence. Strobe lights flashed through their windows. They and some of their relatives were placed under surveillance. Shortly, city police and other officials drilled holes in the locks and evicted the would-be office-seekers.

At some point, you pass outrageous and go straight to comical, this is one of those situations. Go read the rest, it actually gets worse.

Found via Kevin Drum.

Lobbying, Ohio Style

The Columbus Dispatch points out today the shameless lobbying laws that are currently on the books in Ohio. Of course, Ohio republicans, the beneficiary of these lobbyist are in no hurry to change the law, which even if it was in any way enforceable, has no meaningful punishment. From the Dispatch:

Tony Bledsoe says Blockbuster has more power to enforce a late-return policy than he does to compel compliance with some state lobbying and disclosure laws.

Last year, for example, two companies that employ lobbyists refused to file required state forms that detail lobbying activity. But at the start of 2006, they were allowed to register again and keep lobbying because Bledsoe, the state legislative inspector general, has no power to stop them.

He couldn’t even fine them because, under Ohio law, the fine kicks in only after the company is officially notified of the offense — and both companies refused to accept the certified letters Bledsoe sent them. Even if he could fine them, the maximum penalty is $100.

The bottom line is that here in Ohio, we have no lobbying laws. It's no wonder the republican culture of corruption take such a strong foothold here. We need a long hard rain to wash the filth away, and only the election of Democrats is going to seed the clouds to bring that rain.


I'm rapidly concluding that military intervention is not a tenable solution to dealing with Iran's fledgling nuclear program. The repercussions are just to great, and are due to a great extent, the corner that past and current American policies have painted us into.

George Bush doesn't deserve all the blame here, but he has certainly exasperated the situation by making us into the world's enemy through his fool's folly in Iraq. The Boston Globe today lays out some of the possible retaliations Iran might take if a bombing campaign is launched to destroy sites identified to be a part of their nuclear program. From the Globe:

Iran is prepared to launch attacks using long-range missiles, secret commando units, and terrorist allies planted around the globe in retaliation for any strike on the country's nuclear facilities, according to new US intelligence assessments and military specialists.


A major worry: newly acquired long-range missiles. Obtained with the assistance of North Korea, the Shahab 3 could strike Israel and perhaps even hit the periphery of Europe, according to a recent report by the Pentagon's National Air and Space Intelligence Center.


Meanwhile, Iranian agents and members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, widely believed to have a large presence in Iraq, could attempt to foment an uprising by the their fellow Shi'ite majority in Iraq or join insurgents in directly attacking US troops there, Negroponte warned.

Sound pretty bad, right? Well, that's not the half of it. What the Globe doesn't mention is that Iran could launch those missiles into Saudi Arabia's Ghawar oil fields and production facilities.

That, combined with Iran shutting down their own oil production could take as many as eight million barrels of oil a day, or roughly ten percent, out of the world supply.

This is why we shouldn't needlessly piss off people like Hugo Chavez. He could also shut off the spigots and push the shortage to over ten million barrels a day.

The result of such an oil shock would be to send the world economy into a full scale depression including a resulting food shortages. It takes six barrels of oil to bring a single cow to market.

We'd better find a better way to deal with Iran.

Crawling Back

Much like a dog that is beaten by its owner, John McCain still needs to eat. McCain recently met with the same people who brutally ended his 2000 presidential bid to seek their support for a run in 2008. From The Washington Post:

A dozen or so people were in attendance. At least two were among Bush's major national fundraisers. Virtually all had been on Bush's side in the bitter 2000 South Carolina primary that badly damaged McCain's chances of winning the presidential nomination and scarred the relationship between the two men and their rival political camps. McCain was there to woo them.

That has to be tough, to go crawling back, to know that when you leave, they'll joke around about owning you, to know that you're their bitch. I wouldn't do it, but I don't have presidential ambitions in a party that sees me as soft.

I don't know whether or not these guys will support McCain in 2008, it probably depends on how hard the winds of change blow this year. If they blow hard, they will push for McCain, the result of which could lead to fissures in the republican party, because this is the business wing of the republican party, and the Christian right is certain to favor a more extremist candidate.

McCain can win without the Christian right, can they win without him? I don't think so.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Jack In The Box

In this picture featured in The New York Times, Jack Abramoff lurks in the backround while overseeing one of his clients meeting George Bush.

The Quiet Payoff?

Big Pharma invested a lot of lobbying dollars to get the new Medicare Part D legislation tailor made to their liking. It looks like they are starting to receive a quiet little payoff for their largess courtesy of US Customs and Border Protection. Since November, the Customs department has stepped up their seizure of Canadian drugs flowing in from across our northern border. From The LA Times:

"It's huge — we've had over 800 seizures in January," up from 15 in a typical month, said Barney Britton, president of Calgary-based MinitDrugs.

Other pharmacies reported four- to five-fold increases. An informal survey of 30 Canadian pharmacies that cater to American customers, conducted by a senior-citizen advocacy website, showed that the rise began in November, doubled in December and doubled again in January.

Although federal regulators say there has been no policy change in the interdiction of prescription drugs imported from abroad, these numbers seem to tell another story. It's clear to me that something is going on, and that something is putting American's health at risk.

Of course, the republicans run the show right now, and if they ever had any concern for American's, or your pocket book, they would have used the purchasing power of the US government to set drug prices so people wouldn't have to buy Canadian drugs. They didn't, because you didn't write thousands of dollars worth of checks to them, did you.

Play That Funky Music

Is everyone else as confused as I am over the choice of music played at the opening ceremonies to the Olympics as each country marched out? It was all early 80's and disco. Strange.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hitler, Who Said Anything About Hitler?

While meeting with Jewish leaders in Baltimore, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Michael Steele let the following shit slip out of his mouth as he tried to show off his pro-life credentials by talking about stem cell research. From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

“You of all folks know what happens when people decide they want to experiment on human beings, when they want to take your life and use it as a tool.”

Oops, about the only two words you can follow that up with are "check, please."

Credible vs Realistic

George Bush proudly announced yesterday that they had foiled a 2002 plot to hijack an airliner with a shoe bomb and fly it into Library Tower in Los Angeles. Whether or not this threats were credible, I don't know, but it certainly wasn't realistic.

What I'm talking about is the fact that neither of the two terrorists attacks that the Bush administration claims to have stopped ever had any realistic shot at succeeding. They may have been credible, as credibility in this case speaks merely to intent and to a lessor degree, ability, but not to whether or not the plot would work. I could be serious as hell about hatching a plot to topple the Empire State Building by crashing my car into it. (I'm not) The fact of the matter is that no matter what rate of speed I manage to get my big SUV up to, it's not going to be enough to bring down the building.

The foiled LA attack falls into this credible, but not realistic category. This plan was never going to work, not in a post 9/11 world. Even if they got into the cockpit, no pilot is going to cede control of their plane without a fight to the death, and I'm pretty sure some of the passengers might have a thing or two to say about it as well. They may have gone ahead and blown up the plane, which definitely would be bad, but Library Tower was never in any danger. That's probably why the mayor was never notified of the threat.

The other threat that the Bushies claim to have foiled involved a guy who was planning to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch. I'm pretty sure the police would show up long before he could have done any real damage.

I wonder if Bush can demonstrate any realistic threat that we have thwarted.

Woe Is Me

Here is another generic Congressional poll for "Senior Dems" to lament. In the new Pew Research Poll, the generic Democratic candidate leads the GOP candidate 50 - 41. Oh, the misery, why must these polls keep showing Dems at a twenty year high? It's such a terrible political landscape we face in the mid terms.

Do you think I've ridiculed these fuckwits enough yet?

A Day Late, A Leader Short

The skeletons are starting to fall out of the closet, or to be more precise, the attic. The New York Times has revealed that the White House was informed of the breached levees in New Orleans a day prior to what they had previously admitted. From the Times:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency official, Marty Bahamonde, first heard of a major levee breach Monday morning. By late Monday afternoon, Mr. Bahamonde had hitched a ride on a Coast Guard helicopter over the breach at the 17th Street Canal to confirm the extensive flooding. He then telephoned his report to FEMA headquarters in Washington, which notified the Homeland Security Department.

Now, it did take way to long for DHS to get the information to the White House, they received it close to midnight, but once the White House had the pertinent information they didn't understand the gravity of the situation. Also from the Times:

But the alert did not seem to register. Even the next morning, President Bush, on vacation in Texas, was feeling relieved that New Orleans had "dodged the bullet," he later recalled. Mr. Chertoff, similarly confident, flew Tuesday to Atlanta for a briefing on avian flu. With power out from the high winds and movement limited, even news reporters in New Orleans remained unaware of the full extent of the levee breaches until Tuesday.

The federal government let out a sigh of relief when in fact it should have been sounding an "all hands on deck" alarm, the investigators have found.

Cue up that video of Bush reading My Pet Goat on 9/11. He's totally useless in a crisis.

Middle East Security

You may be wondering what the Israelis think about our fool's folly in Iraq. Here's a couple of choice quotes from Yuval Diskin, the head of Shin Bet, Israel's domestic security forces. From the BBC:

Yuval Diskin said a strong dictatorship would be preferable to the present "chaos" in Iraq, in a speech to teenage Jewish settlers in the West Bank.


"When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos," he said.

"I'm not sure we won't miss Saddam."

I( guess the world is only a safer place without Saddam for those who never had to deal with him in the first place.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Scooter Just A Pawn In The Game Of Life

Scooter Libby will offer a surprising defense when he goes on trial for his role in the Plame case. Libby will testify that he was simply acting on orders from his superiors, namely Vice President Dick Cheney. From the National Journal:

Beyond what was stated in the court paper, say people with firsthand knowledge of the matter, Libby also indicated what he will offer as a broad defense during his upcoming criminal trial: that Vice President Cheney and other senior Bush administration officials had earlier encouraged and authorized him to share classified information with journalists to build public support for going to war. Later, after the war began in 2003, Cheney authorized Libby to release additional classified information, including details of the NIE, to defend the administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case for war.

Umm, that's nice, and I have little doubt that it's true, but Libby isn't on trial for releasing classified information. Libby was only charged with obstruction, perjury, and making false statements. I don't really see how this defense exonerates him.

Perhaps Jeff could chime in on this one.

Found via Kos

Brother, Can You Spare Three Bills An Hour?

Our favorite hack, Michael Brown, has turned to the White House to beg for legal fees. Brown is set to testify tomorrow in front of a Senate inquiry into the federal government's failings in the Katrina response. He wants the White House to cover his legal fees. From CNN:

"Unless there is specific direction otherwise from the president, including an assurance the president will provide a legal defense to Mr. Brown if he refuses to testify as to these matters, Mr. Brown will testify if asked about particular communications," the lawyer wrote.

So, if the White House doesn't couch up some coin for legal fees, Brownie is going to give up his correspondence he had with them. The White House is currently stonewalling the Senate on this issue. They can't be dumb enough to let him talk, can they?


Last night, I stopped by a grassroots reception at Paul Hackett's Columbus field office. There was a pretty good turnout of a hundred people or so, and Hackett stopped by to shake some hands and speak a few brief words.

I got the impression that most of the attendees were political neophytes. I heard a lot of background chatter, thing like, "Oh, Paul has a primary opponent? Who's that?" and "Who's Sherrod Brown?" This could be taken a couple of different ways. You could focus on the positive and say that Hackett is drawing more people into the process, or you could focus on the negative and say that his volunteers lack experience. There's probably a little bit of truth in both of those statements.

As far as Hackett himself, it was actually the first time I had ever heard him speak. He's pretty smooth.

More Proof "Senior Dems" Don't Know What They're Talking About

In a special election that took place on Tuesday in Missouri, Democrats fared very well in three House races in conservative districts. We retained one seat, picked up one seat, and came within 200 votes of picking up another. To put these districts in perspective, George Bush won all three by 52%, 59%, and 71% respectively.

I guess losing by a couple of hundred votes in one of the most conservative districts in Missouri is one of those missed opportunities that "senior Democrats" were bitching about in yesterday's Times. Or maybe, they were complaining that in the generic Congressional poll Dems are leading the GOP 51-37, the highest number in twenty years.

Now I will admit that I don't put much faith in generic polls, it's kind of like measuring temperature with your hand instead of a thermometer, but hot is hot, and this poll seems to indicate a heat wave for Democrats in the fall.

I think it's about time those "senior Democrats" climbed down out of their ivory tower to take a gander at what's going on outside of the beltway. We have built momentum all across the country.

Victory, smell it bitches!

Reform, Republican Style

Guess who just got appointed to the House Subcommittee that oversees the Department of Justice. It's Tom Delay. I wonder if they are going to hold hearings into the Abramoff scandal. That would be interesting.

Folks, this shit isn't going to stop until you vote these assholes out of office.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Michelle Malkin is pushing some sort of "Buy Danish" campaign to support Denmark in its controversy with Muslims over some stupid cartoons. These cartoons have offended some Muslims, but you can always find someone to be offended about damn near anything. I've seen the cartoons and I wasn't put off by them, but to be frank, I didn't get most of them. Anyway, that's not why I'm touching on this.

These cartoons ran in a newspaper, they weren't state sponsored. Why would buying Danish products be a statement of support? Subscribing to that newspaper would make a much better statement, don't you think?

Also, Malkin is always bitching about one thing or another in American newspapers. Using this logic, shouldn't she be boycotting American products?

The whole "Buy Danish" thing sounds like it was thought up by children. It's idiotic.

Stop Whining, Start Hammering

Several senior Democrats are supposedly lamenting missed opportunity in the upcoming Mid Term election. I hate these people. It's not their attitude that costs us elections, it's their mind numbing drum beat of wonkery that causes voters to tune us out.

It's only February, We don't need to roll out a 254 point plan to show America how we will turn the state of the nation around, but these guys want to march off that cliff yet again by spending ten months to muddle our message. From The New York Times:

"We're selling our party short; you've got to stand for a lot more than just blasting the other side," said Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee. "The country is wide open to hear some alternatives, but I don't think it's wide open to all these criticisms. I am sitting here and getting all my e-mail about the things we are supposed to say about the president's speech, but it's extremely light on ideas. It's like, 'We're for jobs and we're for America.' "

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Look, in 1994 when republicans took the House, they didn't roll out the Contract With America until six weeks before the election. (Thanks to Digby for reminding me of that a couple of weeks ago) Prior to that, they spent an entire year taking the hammer to Democrats, and that's what we need to do to them.

Right now we should be doing nothing but taking the meat mallet to them on Iraq, corruption, Katrina, Medicare, et al. Just because they aren't tender yet, doesn't mean they won't be come election day. It's a long slow burn, baby, and if we keep hitting them, they'll be nice and pulpy come November.

Do Over

Voters in Carlisle, OH will get a second chance today to vote for an EMS issue after the November election was compromised when a Diebold AccuVote TSX voting machine returned 225 votes in a precinct that contained 148 registered voters. Actual turnout was somewhere around fifty voters. They will use paper ballots today.

I haven't seen official results, but rumor has it there were 25 votes for the issue, 24 votes against, and 176 votes for George Bush.

Update: Forgot what day it is, this happened yesterday.

Another Hack Bites The Dust

For Bush hack George Duetsch, truthiness started with his resume.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


The Bush administration unveiled their budget blueprint this week and like most of their other policy initiatives, it's incomplete. The budget shows little connection with any form of reality and the Washington Post suggests that it would require "heroic assumptions" to be plausible. From the Post:

The president's budget acknowledges the cost of Bush's call to make his tax cuts permanent -- $1.35 trillion over the next decade and nearly $120 billion in 2011 alone. But beyond 2007, the budget assumes no military expenditures in Iraq or Afghanistan and no effort to address the unintended effects of the alternative minimum tax, a parallel income tax system that was designed to hit the rich but has instead increasingly pinched the middle class. It also assumes Congress will cut domestic spending every year after 2007.

Those factors led Goldman Sachs economists to tell clients yesterday that the deficit forecasts are "unrealistic."

"Unrealistic" has been a common theme of the Bush administration, and I have actually thought for a while that this is do to the fact that this is the laziest administration ever to govern America. We've all heard Bush say that his job is "hard work." Yes, it is, but this administration doesn't put in that hard work.

Let's take a look at some of this administrations greatest failures and how laziness contributed to them.

9/11: While anti-terrorism experts had their "hair on fire" warning of an imminent attack on America, the Bush team's response was to go on vacation. Richard Clarke's warning were repeatedly ignored, he couldn't get any meaningful meetings with the top brass in the administration. The result: Terrorists brought down the World Trade Centers and hit the Pentagon.

WMD: You can say that information was stove piped or that we were lied to, and to an extent, both of those statements are true, but the reality also is that once the administration had some evidence that Iraq might be in possession of WMD. The work stopped there. No further evidence was reviewed. The result: We launched an unnecessary war in Iraq.

Post war planning: Once the initial attack plan was conceived, Donald Rumsfeld ended any further planning. He "guessed" that we would be greeted at liberators and flowers would be thrown at our soldiers. The result: We're stuck in a quagmire in the desert.

Domestic spying: Look all you have to do is file a brief with the FISA court and everything is legal. It's that simple. Yesterday, during Senate hearings, Alberto Gonzales complained that he would have to do a lot of work if the administration was to follow the law and obtain warrants from the FISA court. Well, he does collect a paycheck from the US government to do such things. I'm sorry if it cuts into his minesweeper time, and given his past work record where he cut and pasted opinions about death row appeals while Texas AG, it probably wouldn't have cut much.. The result: The Bush administration decided to break the law rather than do the work.

Those are just a few examples, but let's return to the budget. This is just something sloppily thrown together just to move the process out of their hands. They'll let Congress worry about it, and if they don't like the results, eh, they'll live with it. Vetoes are hard work. To be honest, I doubt they even know how to fill out the paper work for a veto.

If a grade was being given to this administration, a lot of people on my side of the political spectrum would give it an F, but I don't think that's quite right. An F implies that the student tried and failed. I think I would give this administration an I for incomplete. They just haven't attempted the coursework.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Busy Day

I was extremely busy today with real world type stuff. Blogging should return to normal levels tomorrow. Congrats on that under bet, Nate. That missed field goal at the end of the half cost me a quarter.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Bowl XL

Time for a little lighter fare. Who do you like in today's Super Bowl? I think I'm going to play the contrarian and go with Seattle over Pittsburgh 17-14. If you are inclined to lay some coin on the game, I think the best bet of the day will be the under in a game between these two very well matched teams.

Lincoln's Wiretaps

Tomorrow, Alberto Gonzales will testify before the Senate Judicial Committee. According to Time, Gonzales will lay out an argument using a 166 year old precedent to make the case that president has the authority to conduct unconstitutional wiretapping. Lincoln ordered this during the Civil War. Yea, and that 1978 FISA law is outdated. Ridiculous. From Time:

According to the documents, Gonzales plans to assert in his opening statement that seeking approval for the wiretaps from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court could result in delays that "may make the difference between success and failure in preventing the next attack." He will compare the program to telegraph wiretapping during the Civil War.

One thing that should be noted though, during the wiretapping of telegrams during the Civil War, President Lincoln had suspended habeas corpus allowing the military to impose Martial law.

So, I guess I have one question. Has Bush suspended habeas corpus? It seems to me that he has, at least in selective instances. I'd like to see this debated.

Killing At Home

In a recent closed door session of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Diane Feinstein (D-CA) asked Steven Bradbury, acting head of the department's Office of Legal Counsel, whether or not President Bush had the authority to order the killing of an al-Queda suspect in the US. Bardbury answered yes. From Newsweek:

Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances.

Current and former government officials said they could think of several scenarios in which a president might consider ordering the killing of a terror suspect inside the United States. One former official noted that before Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, top administration officials weighed shooting down the aircraft if it got too close to Washington, D.C. What if the president had strong evidence that a Qaeda suspect was holed up with a dirty bomb and was about to attack? University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein says the post-9/11 congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against Al Qaeda empowered the president to kill 9/11 perpetrators, or people who assisted their plot, whether they were overseas or inside the United States. On the other hand, Sunstein says, the president would be on less solid legal ground were he to order the killing of a terror suspect in the United States who was not actively preparing an attack.

This is troubling for several reasons. What is the definition of actively planning a terrorist attack. I don't think that flight 93 fits this definition. Flight 93 was in the process of committing a terrorist act. Certainly, as horrible as it would be, I think the President would have the authority to shoot down an airliner in such a situation. That's certainly an abnormal situation though.

When most terrorist attacks occur in the world, law enforcement would be the first to interdict in the attack, and they certainly wouldn't have to wait on authorization from the President to use lethal force, so we have to assume we are talking about a situation where the attack is still in the planning stages.

The problem is that in a situation where planning is occurring, killing the suspect would be counter productive to rooting out the rest of the plot. Capturing the suspect would be far more preferential. Dead men don't talk.

However; lest we forget, this has happened before in the United States, although presidential authorization was not involved.

In 1985, the radical group Move was holed up in a Philadelphia row house. Then Police Commissioner Gregore J. Sambore ordered a bomb dropped on the row house after only a twelve hour stand-off. The result, the Move members were killed, and oh yea, 53 other houses burned down as well.

This method would only really work in context with the war on terror if all the terrorists were holed up in one house with a chemical or biological weapon where a bomb could vaporize the chemicals or germs. I think this technique would do the terrorists work for them if it was a dirty bomb, but I'm not entirely sure about that.

There may be other scenarios, but I can't think of any where the president would have to order a killing.

Know Your Hacks

You may have heard recently about NASA trying to silence their top climate scientist, James Hansen. The heat was coming from a NASA public affairs officer, so who is that? Why, it's 24 year old Bush appointee George Deutsch, a hack who was an intern in Bush's 2004 campaign.

Deutsch doesn't just try to silence climate science though. Check this out from The New York Times:

In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."

It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."

Why in the world would NASA be supplying the religious side of the debate? It's not a church. They do science, period.

I think Deutsch should be on the first manned mission to Mars. I should warn him though, we'll be using an experimental rocket powered by gasbag Pat Robertson's hot air. Should be safe enough for him.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Candidate Forum

I stayed until the lunch break of Blue88's candidate forum today so I missed Sherrod Brown and Paul Hackett who were to speak later. It was very crowded, standing room only in fact. I'd say close to three hundred attended. Let's get to the candidates I did see.

First up was William O'Neill, who's running for the Ohio Supreme Court. O'Neill is a pretty good speaker, but he's running on a insane premise. He's not accepting campaign contributions, or as he says, "No Money From nobody." He plans to print one million pieces of campaign lit in his garage. When are we going to stop doing stupid shit like this. The bottom line is that in a judicial race, the only thing that matters is name ID and TV ain't free.

Marc Dann and Jennifer Brunner couldn't make it so surrogates spoke for them.

Following the surrogates, AG candidate Subodh Chandra rocked the house. He's really good, and he really fired up the crowd. Out of all the candidates I saw, he probably did the best job. He promised that as AG, he would enforce the Supreme Court's ruling on education funding that the Ohio Legislature has currently been ignoring.

Ted Strickland was the last to speak before the break. He started slow, but picked up momentum throughout his allotted time. Of course, invoking some of bogeyman Ken Blackwell shortcomings drew load cheers, but Strickland also laid out some pretty good policy points on issues such as energy, agriculture, and education.

He promised an energy audit of all state facilities with a goal of lowering energy usage by ten percent in his first year if elected, and a total of twenty percent by the end of his first term.

Wish I could have stayed to see the rest, but I'm sure I'll catch them in the next few weeks.

Using A Thirty Year Old Ladder

The AP has discovered documents detailing Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney's desire conduct illegal domestic spying, in the Ford Administration! These guys have been longing to use the ladder to peek into your bedroom window for thirty years. This probably led to the creation of the FISA court to make sure American citizens Constitutional rights were protected in 1978 under the Carter Administration.

Of course, now we have a president who feels that the law doesn't apply to him, and with the likes of Rumsfeld of Cheney advising him, that ladder is being used again with no oversight at all.

So remember, when you look out the window, smile and hope it's only Allen Funt looking back.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Because Everybody Hates The Danes

While I'm sure every trinket store and carry-out in Nablus sells American and Israeli flags to burn, where in the hell do you find a Danish flag?


Channel 4 news in England has revealed based on top secret British documents that in a January 2003 meeting George Bush tried to hatch a scheme to get Saddam Hussein to become in material breach of previous UN Security Council resolutions.

Bush wanted to fly a U2 spy plane over Iraq painted in UN colors at a low enough altitude that the Iraqis could shoot it down. If they did, or at least shot at it, Iraq would be in material breach. These planes were regularly flying over Iraq, but at a higher altitude than Iraq anti-aircraft batteries could reach. In effect, Bush wanted to put US airmen in a piñata for Hussein to shake a stick at. The idea was eventually scuttled.

This is an example of the horrible disregard the Bush administration has for the value of human life, including our military. It's a suicide mission.

Go watch the video of the report here.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


It has always only been a matter of time before some right wing group called for a boycott of CITGO for Hugo Chavez's crazy statements. The American Family Association, who it seems is boycotting damn near every company in the US, has decided it will lead the way.

I'm not sure what effect a South American president has on American families, and it's an odd foray for the AFA, because they usually just spends its time bashing homosexuals.

The AFA are a bunch of nutjobs, and most of their boycotts never really accomplish anything. This one will not go anywhere either because if it does start to make any impact, Chavez will likely just lower the cost to users at the pump, and voila, the boycott will be smashed.

Ha Ha

Republicans can't even hold a honest election among themselves. The first ballot in the House Leadership race had to be discarded when the number of votes exceeded the number of Representatives present, proving yet again, there is no honor among thieves.

John Boehner

John Boehner has been chosen House Majority Leader. I guess Roy Blunt didn't have all the votes he thought he did.

Lip Service

This is funny. Yesterday, I wrote that the problem with Bush's speeches is that the policy never matches the rhetoric. Well, today the rhetoric doesn't even match the rhetoric. From Knight Ridder:

One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.

What the president meant, they said in a conference call with reporters, was that alternative fuels could displace an amount of oil imports equivalent to most of what America is expected to import from the Middle East in 2025.

Umm, if he didn't mean it, why did he say it?

"This was purely an example," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

He said the broad goal was to displace foreign oil imports, from anywhere, with domestic alternatives. He acknowledged that oil is a freely traded commodity bought and sold globally by private firms. Consequently, it would be very difficult to reduce imports from any single region, especially the most oil-rich region on Earth.

Asked why the president used the words "the Middle East" when he didn't really mean them, one administration official said Bush wanted to dramatize the issue in a way that "every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands." The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he feared that his remarks might get him in trouble.

In other words, we understand that the American people are concerned about this issue and we shall be the fore-bearer in paying only the greatest degree of lip service to it.

The reality is that the Saudis, who by the way, weren't to happy with this part of the speech, and Bush know that they both want to keep the American people held hostage to Middle Eastern oil.


Apparently the rest of the government is taking it's cues from George Bush now. The message? We're above the law. Lawyers at the Justice Department are now working on some sort of special exemption to allow government employees to be able to continue to use their BlackBerries if an injunction shuts down the system which could happen as soon as February 24th.

I don't use a BlackBerry so I'm not sure how they work, but I can't imagine it is technologically feasible to do this. I guess you could have technicians change the frequency BlackBerries use only for government workers only, but this would certainly leak out and you would have BlackMarketBerries on the network within weeks.

If I did use a Blackberry, I'd be pretty pissed about this.


I've written many times here about the Christian right and the effect they have had on the republican party. Today in the Washington Post, Jack Danforth, a former republican Senator from Missouri, makes a lot of the same points I've made, albeit in a much less shrill tone than I'm prone to use. From The Washington Post:

"The Republican Party has been taken over by something that it's not," Danforth says over a suitably austere lunch of steamed vegetables in a well-appointed 40th-floor St. Louis club overlooking the Mississippi. "How do traditional Republicans put up with this? They put up with this because it's a winning combination, for now. It won't last."

Why won't it last?

"It won't stand the light of day," Danforth says in one of several conversations. "The more people think about it, the more people will resist it. People do not want a sectarian political party, including a lot of people who are traditional Republicans."

Danforth has enough Christian credibility to back up his claims, he was dubbed Saint Jack during his time in the Senate where he was known as the most pious man in Washington.

I don't think most republicans want anything to do with the Christian right. They do however use them to get elected. It's just simply the in vogue approach to republican election tactics that is now preferred. It will pass, and when it does, republicans will send these people off to whatever rock they climbed out from under. Hopefully though, they will keep using the same formula for a few cycles after it runs out of gas.

When asked how it will come to pass, Danforth replied, "I'm counting on nausea."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Say Cheese

I know you have to be thinking, "Who's that asshole pictured with Abramoff client Beningo Fitial?" (It's our president) Raw Story is reporting that Fitial paid Abramoff $11.5 million for lobbying services from 1995 to 2002.

What did Fitial get for his money? A lot of quality face time with Bush, Tom Delay, Conrad Burns, Trent Lott, and Dennis Hastert. Oh, he also received some good old fashioned electioneering.

Fitial, who is now the Governor of the CMNI, (Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands) won a fixed election to become CMNI's Speaker of the House with Abramoff and Michael Scanlon promising US tax dollars for "bartering chips" to get two members of CNMI's House to switch their votes.

Go read the rest here.

Meet & Greets

There are a couple of candidate forums coming up at the IBEW hall here in Columbus, OH. Tonight at 6:30, DFA will be hosting Ohio House and Senate candidates and on Saturday, Blue88 will be hosting all statewide candidates from 10am - 3pm.

There is a pretty crowded primary field on our side of the aisle this year, and Saturday's event will be an excellent opportunity to size up the candidates in an intimate environment. I'll be there, so if you can't attend I'll give you a rundown of the highlights.

The IBEW hall is located at 23 W 2nd St. and there is parking available in the back.

Running On Empty

I'll be honest, I didn't watch President Bush's State of the Union address. It's not because I hate him, which I do. It's because the SOTU speech has become such a dog and pony show, and I just can't compel myself to watch such theatrics. It's just lame. I read the transcripts, it saves me a lot of time. I do want to touch on some of things from last night though.

I'll start with oil, Bush stated last night, "Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world."

Addicted to oil. No shit, welcome to the party. This is something that should have been addressed years ago. The problem is, that along with bush's other State of the Union addresses, the policy never matches the rhetoric. Saying doesn't equate to doing, and like tackling the AIDS problem in Africa, word don't pay the bills.

While trying to gin up support for the war, Bush had the following to say, "In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores." He went on to say, "America rejects the false comfort of isolationism."

Again the policy doesn't match the rhetoric, or at least it hasn't in the past. Bush is an unilateralist, and unilateralism is the new isolationism. Bush has been a great failure in getting the rest of the world on board with American policy, even though he was spotted the natural sympathy generated by 9/11. Bush squandered the opportunity granted him after 9/11 with his fool's folly in Iraq. I doubt he's learned his lesson.

Lastly, it was sad to see the plight of the Gulf Coast get a 51 second mention at the end of the speech as if it was thrown it at the last minute. This certainly deserves the full attention of the president, and he appears just as blase now as he was when he was when he was eating cake with John McCain while New Orleans drowned.

Overall, Bush seemed like a man bankrupt of ideas, that's the reason many republican pundits were pushing the meme of how important the tone of the speech was, with little to go on as far as new ideas are, tone is the only thing left. Bush seemed to be much like our gas tanks, running on empty.