The Aeration Zone: A liberal breath of fresh air

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Walldon in New Jersey ---- Marketingace in Pennsylvania ---- Simoneyezd in Ontario
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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bush digs deep in attack on Kerry. Will the desperation heave work with enough idiots?

How low will they go? Apparently there is no depth of slime for which the Republicans and George Bush have enough decency not to reach. The idea that John Kerry was insulting the troops in Iraq is beyond absurd. The mere suggestion that anyone in this country would do that or believes that, much less someone who actually saw combat himself, is sick.

What’s the real story here? Not whether Kerry was suggesting such a thing, but that Bush is so desperate and so utterly lacking in principle that he would use the troops he has abused so badly for political gain in this manner. Truly disgusting.

A side story is the extent to which CNN and other supposedly objective media channels are willing to prostrate themselves and serve as pure shills for the Republican National Committee. The sorry level of relentless character assassination to which political campaigning by the Republican Party has descended, fueled by hundreds of amoral right-wing-funded post-graduate elves hunkering in darkened rooms scouring words by the thousands for nuggets of language they can twist into an attack on Democrats -- is a gigantic threat to this country. The sorriest part of the spectacle is that it has been enabled by pusillanimous media minions who are a disgrace to the very concept of a free press.

Want to go to college? Become a prostitute, it pays.

In a preview of things to come in the United States, one study concludes that as many as 40,000 female students in France are financing their education through prostitution or related sex trade activities because of cuts in government funding of education.

Increasing numbers of young women in France are turning to sex work to help pay the bills while they are at university, according to one of the country's leading students' unions.

According to the SUD-Etudiant union, 40,000 students in France - or nearly 2 per cent - fund their studies through the sex trade.

This could create a strange structure for the "educated" class of society if it goes on long enough.

Why not just shoot the guy instead of roughing him up?

The George Allen campaign is trying to turn this into a physical attack on the candidate, but the truth appears to be that Mike Stark, a student at the University of Virginia and a blogger, approached Allen after a campaign rally had concluded and asked him why he spat upon his first wife. Allen's thugs then tackled Stark to the floor, appearing to rough him up a bit in the process.

My guess is that Allen wins the on this - albeit it's a close call. People tend to think of students as rabble rousing nut cases to begin with, and the question isn't real pleasant either. With that combination, I suspect the press and the public will treat this as an attack on Allen that justified bringing in the goon squad. Hell, under Florida law, Allen could have had Stark shot to death and still walked away the winner.

No ads allowed on Air America Radio

I guess there's really no surprise that this is happening, but still:

An internal ABC Radio Networks memo obtained by Media Matters for America, originally from a listener to The Peter B. Collins Show, indicates that nearly 100 ABC advertisers insist that their commercials be blacked out on Air America Radio affiliates. According to the memo, the adverstisers insist that "NONE of their commercials air during AIR AMERICA programming." Among the advertisers listed are Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, Federal Express, General Electric, McDonald's, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and the U.S. Navy.

Don't get too euphoric

I'm not making any election predictions. I'm already afraid I'm getting too euphoric. I fear the inevitable let down that's going to come if the Republicans succeed in keeping both Houses.

Meanwhile, let me just deflate things one bit for those of you who aren't watching the serious prognosticators. As far as I can tell, no one, not a single knowledgeable observer is predicting that the Democrats will take over the Senate. The standard forecast seems to be a gain of four, which, assuming Lieberman wins in Connecticut, is really only a gain of two, since Lieberman is either going to switch parties or become Secy. of Defense. Either was, a Republican will hold his seat. The Dems need to pick up six to control the Senate. Short of a miracle (we can always pray), it isn't going to happen.

Right now, it looks as though we'll get pick ups in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Montana, and Rhode Island. No certainty there, but pretty good leads for the Dems.

There are two Democratic seats that look dicey. New Jersey is one, although right now, it looks like the Democrat, Menendez is pulling in front of Junior (Tom Kean, Jr.). The other is Maryland, where the Republican, Steele, an African-American who is very articulate, seems to be catching up quickly. This one looks really dangerous to me.

Then, there are the three toss-up states where Democrats have a chance to pick up a seat. They are Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri. It looks as though Webb, the Democrat, has a chance in Virginia, where he is now leading slightly in most polls. I very much doubt Ford can beat Corker in Tennessee. And, the McCaskill v. Talent race in Missouri is too close to even speculate. Nevertheless, I doubt there is much chance for the Dems to gain more than two of these three, and it's more likely they'll gain only one.

That's it folks. There are no real opportunities anywhere else this year. So, don't be too dismayed if we don't take the Senate.

Unfortunately, of course, it's in the Senate where the next Supreme Court appointment will be heard.

Want to be a judge? Just pay me enough

It sounds as though our government is now selling judgeships to the highest bidder. I don't know whether this has been going on widely before, but it's pretty despicable. From Raw Story:

An investigation reveals that two dozen federal judges contributed thousands of dollars to Republicans who "helped place them on the bench," Salon is reporting.

"A four-month investigation of Bush-appointed judges by the Center for Investigative Reporting," writes Will Evans, "reveals that six appellate court judges and 18 district court judges contributed a total of more than $44,000 to politicians who were influential in their appointments."

Some contributed money directly to the President after being officially nominated by him, the article reports. "Other judges contributed to Republican campaign committees while they were under consideration for a judgeship."

Evans lists several Republicans who "received money from judges en route to the bench," among them Sen. Arlen Specter (PA), Gov. George Pataki (NY), and Sens. Rick Santorum (PA) and Mike DeWine (OH), both of whom are struggling to win re-election in their respective states.

Negative campaigning, I

Heard on the radio this morning that Sen. John McCain was in the area yesterdayto support a pair of local Republican candidates for Congress, David McSweeney (challenging Rep. Melissa Bean) and Peter Roskam (competing with Tammy Duckworth for Rep. Henry Hyde's seat).

In the radio report, I heard McCain commenting on how terrible it is that negative campaign ads have become so pervasive. Then one heard one of the candidates (McSweeney, I think) whining about how negative his opponents ads are. Watching TV last night, I know I saw Roskam ads hitting on Duckworth as supporting tax raises on, among others, "families with children"-- and of course the dreaded "death tax". But we don't like that negative campaigning, now, do we John?

To be honest, I haven't seen enough TV or analysis of Chicago-area ads to judge for myself whether any ads are excessively negative ads or not. (The Roskam ads above are negative primarily in that they participate in the GOP Big Lies-- which includes McCain, I reckon) about their tax policies.) If I have time, I may check that out a bit and post on it.

In the meantime, a little lightness in the discussion. Why do I think that Florida Sen. Ben Nelson doesn't have to bother with negative ads about Kathleen Harris? She seems to be a walking, talking negative ad for her own self. See today’s MSNBC article, “Campaign gone south”:

Katherine Harris . . . says she is writing a tell-all about the many people who have wronged her. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to: the Republican leaders who didn't want her to run, the press that has covered her troubled campaign, and the many staffers who have quit her employ, whom she accuses of colluding with her opponent.
She is vague about what, precisely, makes her a victim, but she says she has it all documented.
"I've been writing it all year," she says in that kittenish voice. She often smiles and cocks her head as if she's letting you in on a secret. "It's going to be a great book."
Oh, yes. A great book indeed; here's a title for our favorite election thief: Meine Dumbkampfe.

Rethughlicans are charitable to big business

You will recall some time ago when the Justice Department declined to pursue its own suit against Big Tobacco and settled the case for pennies on the dollars their own expert was prepared to testify to as damages.

Today, the Interior Department has done the same for Big Oil:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 — The Interior Department has dropped claims that the Chevron Corporation systematically underpaid the government for natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision that could allow energy companies to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.

The agency had ordered Chevron to pay $6 million in additional royalties but could have sought tens of millions more had it prevailed. The decision also sets a precedent that could make it easier for oil and gas companies to lower the value of what they pump each year from federal property and thus their payments to the government.

... The reversal in the case, which involves Chevron’s accounting of natural gas sales to a company it partly owned, has renewed criticism that the Bush administration is reluctant to confront oil and gas companies and is lax in collecting royalties.

“The government is giving up without a fight,” said Richard T. Dorman, a lawyer representing private citizens suing Chevron over its federal royalty payments. “If this decision is left standing, it would result in the loss of tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars in royalties owed by other companies.”

In return for the right to drill on federal lands and in federal waters, energy companies are required to pay the government a share of their proceeds. Last year, businesses producing natural gas paid $5.15 billion in government royalties.

But the Bush administration has come under fire on Capitol Hill for its record on collecting payments. While the Interior Department has sweetened incentives for exploration and pushed to open wilderness areas for drilling, it has also cut back on full-scale audits of companies intended to make sure they are paying their full share.

Administration officials knew that dozens of companies had incorrectly claimed exemptions from royalties since 2003, but they waited until December 2005 to send letters demanding about $500 million in repayments.

In February, the Interior Department acknowledged that oil companies could escape more than $7 billion in payments because of mistakes in leases signed in the 1990s. Top officials are trying to renegotiate those deals, but some Republicans and Democrats have complained that the administration is dragging its feet.

In addition, four government auditors last month publicly accused the Interior Department of blocking their efforts to recover more than $30 million from the Shell Oil Corporation, the Kerr-McGee Corporation and other major companies.

“This latest revelation proves that the Bush administration is incapable of preventing big oil companies from cheating taxpayers,” said Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, a senior Democrat on the House Committee on Resources. “The public has been systematically fleeced out of royalties that these companies owe for the privilege of drilling for oil and gas on lands belonging to all of us.”

The Chevron case offers a glimpse into what is normally a secretive process. To protect what energy companies consider proprietary information, the Interior Department does not announce that it is accusing companies of underpaying royalties nor does it announce its settlements in these disputes. The government also does not disclose how much money each company pays in royalties.

In theory, companies are required to pay the government a royalty of 12 percent to 16 percent of their sales. In practice, the definition of sales is as convoluted as a Rubik’s Cube.

I weep for my grandchildren who will have to pay the bill for all this.

One week left, folks. And, people are already voting

One more flaw in the Medicare Prescription Drug Program

Some readers may recall my posts back in April or May on the idiocies of the new Medicare Part D prescription drug program. Well, I've just learned about one more -- or at least I suspect I have.

Here in New Jersey, regulations require all drugs dispersed through nursing care facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and other similar institutions, to be purchased by the facility itself. We learned this when my mother first moved into a nursing care facility here. At first, when she needed prescription drugs, we took the prescription to our own pharmacy and purchased the drugs there, and, for awhile, she was able to take her own medications. However, her Altzheimer's soon progressed to the point where she was missing her meds, or worse still, over medicating. It was at that point that the home advised us that if we wanted their nurses to distribute meds to Mom, they had to be purchased by the home through the pharmacy with which the home had contracted.

I assume the State regulations requiring this are intended to minimize dosing mistakes, and they probably make sense. Indeed, they may not be unique to New Jersey.

In any event, because of that, we are "locked in" to buying drugs through the pharmacy chosen by the nursing care facility.

Along comes Medicare Part D. As you may recall, each insurance vendor participating in the program has its own list of accepted pharmacies, which the vendor can change from time to time, more or less at will. Of course, participants can only change vendors once per year, between November 15 and December 31.

When we sat down to select an insurance vendor for my mother, we made sure that the pharmacy used by her nursing facility -- call it "Drugstar" -- was on the vendor's approved pharmacies list.

Now, here we are, seven months later, and I receive a letter from Mom's insurance company -- call it "BigNameInsurer" that they are dropping "Drugstar" from their list of approved pharmacies, effective January 1, 2007.

Initial inquiries of the nursing home indicate this came as a big surprise to them. In fact, my inquiry is the first they knew of it. They are pursuing it with Drugstar. I suppose they may decide to switch pharmacies if enough of their clients are covered by BigNameInsurer. Otherwise, Mom will have to switch insurance companies. Those are the facts.

Now, I move on to the suppositions. It is reasonable to suppose that some pharmacies, such as Drugstar, attempt to cultivate the nursing care business. In fact, I happen to know that Drugstar serves several nursing care facilities in the northern New Jersey area, and it may serve many others. After all, once on contract with a nursing care facility, you have a pretty stable, continuing source of business, no problems with bad debts, and an easy and predictable delivery schedule. You also have a customer base of very sick patients who are going to need lots and lots of meds. What could be better for a pharmacy?

Enter the Rethuglican's Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan. As I said earlier, each insurance vendor was given the right to pick and choose among pharmacies it would support. Now, as an insurer, you certainly don't want a pharmacy on your approved list that happens to have an unusually sick group of customers. So, which pharmacies are you going to drop from your list once you have a few months' experience with claims. Of course, you're going to drop the ones who have the largest claims, and those are likely to be the ones like Drugstar having nursing care facilities as a large part of their customer base.

I have a feeling we're just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg here. My guess is that all the vendors are going to start cutting off the pharmacies that do business with hospitals and nursing care facilities, and that ultimately there will either be no pharmacies willing to sell to hospitals and nursing homes or no vendors willing to insure through them.

Three cheers for the Rethuglicans. I guess they knew something the rest of us didn't know when they said the plan would be cheap. They knew that the plan would fail to insure the sickest amongst us -- i.e., those who need it most.

Heck of a job, Brownie.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Santorum sinks into his own slime

Rick Santorum has accused his opponent for the Senate in Pennsylvania of aiding and abetting terrorists by investing state pension fund money with terrorist sympathizers:
PITTSBURGH -- U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum accused state Treasurer Bob Casey of "aiding and abetting terrorism and genocide," saying yesterday that state pension funds are invested with companies linked to terrorist-sponsoring states.
Now, that should be sufficient to have Bush declare Casey an enemy combattant and have him deep sixed in Guantanamo without right to trial. Maybe that's Rove's October surprise.

Cheney must have been talking about dunking for apples?

Last week a radio talk show host asked Dick Cheney about "dunking a terrorist in water" and describing it as a “no-brainer,” to which Cheney agreed by repeating that it seemed like a “no brainer” to him. Most people interpreted the approval of “dunking” as an express endorsement of the technique known as "waterboarding."

When the White House found Cheney’s callousness towards what is widely considered to be torture a bit embarrassing, Tony Snow decided to try another snow job on reporters, claiming it is ridiculous to think Cheney would be stupid enough to approve of waterboarding.

There is one single question that one would think the media would ask: what other dunking-in-water technique has been used in connection with interrogations, to the point that the radio personality would have no need to explain what he was talking about either to Cheney or his audience?

Of course, the answer no doubt is “none,” but heaven forbid to catch the Press Secretary in a flat-out lie.

So no, nobody appears to have asked and the moment passed – or at least the media outlets chose not to show that exchange if anyone did ask it.

So I hear there’s going to be a new movie, starring Tom Cruise interrogating Jack Nicholson as Dick Cheney, that goes something like this:
Cheney: You want answers?
Fitzgerald (Tom Cruise): I think I'm entitled to them.
Cheney: You want answers?
Fitzgerald: I want the truth!
Cheney: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has terrorists. And those terrorists have to be guarded against by men who aren’t afraid to do what they gotta do. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for some Islamic nobody and you curse the CIA. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Kareem's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me making the rules for that room. You need me making the rules for that room.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the safety I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a whip and get in that room. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!

Fitzgerald: Did you order the waterboarding?
Cheney: I did the job you sent me to do.
Fitzgerald: Did you order the waterboarding?
Cheney: You're goddamn right I did!!

It seems Cheney begins massive document shredding effort

Wonkette reports that a Mid-Atlantic Document Shredding Services truck made its way up the driveway into the Cheney compound this morning.

Hmmmm. Do you suppose Cheney sees the possibility Democrats will take back the House or the Senate and begin investigations? Best to shred the documents before the subpoenas arrive.

A new light on Tom Friedman

Regular readers of this blog (assuming there are any) know that I am no fan of NY Times columnist Tom Friedman, who spends about half his time arguing the merits of free trade and the other half pontificating about the Middle East from what I consider to be a mindlessly knee-jerk pro-Israeli perspective that distorts almost everything he has to say.

Today, I learned one more thing about him that may help to explain why he is so unwilling to look beyond the supposed benefits of free trade to the problems with opening our doors to goods produced with essentially slave labor. He is among the wealthiest 100 families in the entire country according to this article. Now, I have nothing against wealth, per se, but you do wonder whether his wealth may have led him to underestimate the problems of American labor having to compete with the slaves in China.

Florida voting machines flipping votes

Florida voters are already going to the polls, and the voting machines are already starting to flip votes to the Republicans:

Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist.

That's exactly the kind of problem that sends conspiracy theorists into high gear - especially in South Florida, where a history of problems at the polls have made voters particularly skittish.

A poll worker then helped Rudolf, but it took three tries to get it right, Reed said.

"I'm shocked because I really want ... to trust that the issues with irregularities with voting machines have been resolved," said Reed, a paralegal. "It worries me because the races are so close."

Broward Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney said it's not uncommon for screens on heavily used machines to slip out of sync, making votes register incorrectly. Poll workers are trained to recalibrate them on the spot - essentially, to realign the video screen with the electronics inside. The 15-step process is outlined in the poll-workers manual.
Some liberal bloggers have deliberately decided not to blog about voting machine problems until the election is over for fear it will demoralize potential voters and cause them not to turn out.

My feeling is the opposite. In my mind it means we just have to work even harder to have an overwhelming turnout, one large enough to dominate even a fixed machine. And, if the fix is still in, at least the fact of a fix might make the news for a change.

I don't see any bouncing

Updated below:

I doubt it has much significance, since this poll has routinely moved up and down by three or four points for the past month or so, but the Rasmussen poll (a Republican polling organization) shows Bush having fallen from 43% approval several days ago to just 40% now.

However, for the past few days I've sort of had the sense things were drifting the wrong direction since there have been no controlling news events. Certainly, the conclusion that the Iraq war is a disaster has now become almost universal, but the Republican meltdown at the time of the Foley scandal seems to have abated, and I had begun to fear that maybe the Republicans had turned the corner and begun to close the gap. In that sense, this result is very comforting to me.


Another poll, by Opinion Research, is out showing a drop in Bush's favorability ratings from 39 to 37 percent since last week.

Corruption charges brought against Berlusconi

Back when he was premier of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi had his packed parliament vote to shield him from all corruption charges brought against him. Now, he is no longer premier, and perhaps these charges will stick. Who knows?

An Italian judge has ordered that Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister, stand trial on corruption charges along with British lawyer David Mills.

Milan magistrates had accused Berlusconi of paying Mills, the estranged husband of Tessa Jowell, the British culture secretary, a $600,000 kickback for not revealing details of Berlusconi's media empire when he testified in two court cases.

Berlusconi's lawyer confirmed that judge Fabio Paparella had ordered both Berlusconi and Mills to stand trial after preliminary hearings that started earlier this year. With the judge's order the two men were officially charged with corruption.
There are any number of people around the world who I would like to see brought to justice. Certainly George Bush and Dick Cheney are at the top of the list, but Silvio Berlusconi was pretty far up. I certainly hope justice is served here, whatever the facts prove, but I know which side I'm rooting for.

Surprise attack

Glenn Greenwald has a post up in which he discusses the absurdity of Wolf Blitzer's surprise at being called a traitor by Lynne Cheney. As Greenwald points out, this has been a standard tactic of the Bush administration from the very outset. Anytime anyone does anything they find inconvenient, they label him a traitor. So, why should Blitzer be surprised?

Greenwald argues that the real reason Blitzer was surprised is because a) he's wealthy and important and b) he's sucked up to the Administration long enough that they know he's a "good guy." He thought he was in an especially protected position, insulated from such attacks by his prominence and subservience. It wouldn't have surprised him if the Bushies had labeled a Democrat a traitor, but Blitzer was above that -- or thought he was until Friday.

All this brings to mind an argument I had with a friend the other day about politics. The friend was saying, "Hey, I'm doing just fine, and everybody I know is doing just fine. Why should I vote for change? Furthermore, I'm not doing anything wrong so even if Bush is wiretapping me, what do I care? They're not going to come after me. So what if Bush can throw people in prison without trial by just calling them enemy combattants. He's not going to do that to me, so why should I care? So what if he tortures them. He's not torturing me, so what do I care?"

Perhaps my friend should think about the surprise attack on Wolf Blitzer.


Today's NY Times had another story illustrating the total incompetence of the people handling our Iraqi war effort:

The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded.

... The answers came Sunday from the inspector general’s office, which found major discrepancies in American military records on where thousands of 9-millimeter pistols and hundreds of assault rifles and other weapons have ended up. The American military did not even take the elementary step of recording the serial numbers of nearly half a million weapons provided to Iraqis, the inspector general found, making it impossible to track or identify any that might be in the wrong hands.

Exactly where untracked weapons could end up — and whether some have been used against American soldiers — were not examined in the report, although black-market arms dealers thrive on the streets of Baghdad, and official Iraq Army and police uniforms can easily be purchased as well, presumably because government shipments are intercepted or otherwise corrupted.

Not only can't they keep track of weapons. They don't even know how many people they've trained. I just love the excuse. It sounds exactly like the excuses I used to get when students were late handing in their term papers -- the dog ate it:

Mr. Bowen found that the American military was not able to say how many Iraqi logistics personnel it had trained — in this case because, the military told the inspector general, a computer network crash erased records. Those problems have occurred even though the United States has spent $133 million on the weapons program and $666 million on Iraqi logistics capabilities.

Dirty tricks

'Tis the season for dirty tricks, so sure enough, here they come. Now we have a pretend-liberal group attacking Rick Santorum's Democratic opponent from the LEFT. TPM Muckraker has the dope:

Well, I think we have our answer as to who is behind the Progressive Policy Council, the phony group behind a mailer that's gone out to an untold number of Pennsylvania voters in an apparent attempt to sour liberal voters on Democrat Bob Casey.

Records with the Virginia State Corporation Commission show that the group's charter was filed by a man named Jason Torchinsky of Holtzman Vogel. And who is he?

His bio at his law firm gives a good idea:

Jason Torchinsky recently joined Holtzman Vogel PLLC with a primary focus on campaign finance and election law. During the 2004 election cycle, Jason served as Deputy General Counsel to Bush-Cheney '04 and Deputy General Counsel to the 2005 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Immediately before joining the firm, Jason was Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the United States Department of Justice. Jason has also served in other positions at the White House and at the United States Department of Justice. At the White House, he worked for now-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the Counsel's Office. At the Department of Justice, Jason served as a Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and in the Eastern District of Wisconsin as a Special Assistant United States Attorney....

Jason's prior political experience includes the Republican National Committee Counsel's Office, the Dole-Kemp campaign, the 1996 Republican National Convention, and Congressman Herb Bateman's re-election campaign.

Actually, it turns out that diminishing voter turnout is somewhat of a hobby for Torchinsky. Torchinsky is also affiliated with the American Center for Voting Rights, a conservative organization working to pass Voter ID laws in several states.

Will we learn about George Allen's arrest record?

As you may not have heard unless you have been reading the blogs religiously, Virginia Republican Senate candidate George Allen has been arrested at least twice in the past, but the record of these arrests has been purged. Naturally, the "liberal" main stream media, which have been so eager to jump on the dirty passages from his opponent's novels, have had nothing to say about these arrest records, just as they have had nothing to say about the fact that he won't release his divorce records.

Today, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee asked the Virginia Bar Association to release Allen's bar application, which may include information about these arrests. I'm not holding my breath while we wait to see whether the Bar Association releases the records.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My advice

My advice to TV viewers: Ignore any charges made by any party in any political ad during the last two weeks of the campaign. The grains of truth become more and more microscopic and the distortions become collossal.

War with Iran to cover theft of election?

I sure hope this scenario, articulated at the Left Coaster, doesn't pan out, but it certainly seems to me to be within the realm of plausibility for this White House:

Despite the pre-election polls and expert analysis by folks like those at Congressional Quarterly, the GOP steals enough close races through electronic voting fraud to keep the House and Senate. To deal with the immediate backlash from Democrats and the media stemming from these discrepancies and the charges of another stolen election, Bush springs a November surprise to distract the public through an attack on Iran. To suppress the reaction to this Wag the Dog maneuver here at home, he uses newly-granted and just-discovered powers to mobilize the National Guard here at home to implement martial law under the pretense of national security while we are at war with Iran. So Bush steals the election and then ensures that no one can do anything about it.

Taliban planning major offensive

It sure doesn't sound like we're making any progress in Afghanistan if this article is true:

The Taliban are planning a major winter offensive combining their diverse factions in a push on the Afghan capital, Kabul, intelligence analysts and sources among the militia have revealed.

The thrust will involve a concerted attempt to take control of surrounding provinces, a bid to cut the key commercial highway linking the capital with the eastern city of Jalalabad, and operations designed to tie down British and other Nato troops in the south.

Halliburton at it again still Redux

Extending Walldon’s recent piece, in a recent documentary that Rethuglican’s would term “propaganda”, but which in fact is being 99% corroborated by an ongoing investigation in the Washington Post called IRAQ FOR SALE, the following facts were discovered:

Close to half of US government expenditures in Iraq are on private contractors who are gouging the tax paper with little to no oversight. Attempts by Democrats in Congress (Dodd, Waxman, Levin) to attach oversight systems defeated by GOP House majority. The Boards of the companies involved are populated with the usual suspects from the Pentagon and Congress, i.e. ex-military officers, senators, congressmen, and congressional staffers with access to decision makers.

-Managers lived at luxury hotels
-drove $40k autos
-billed trucks for $250k
-sent supply convoys into the line of fire killing drivers to save on cost of shipment
-refused to stagger military mess hall service to minimize sniper detection to save money
-failed to provide clean water (infested with bacteria) causing disease in military barracks.
-charged $99 per load to do soldier’s laundry
-charged $45 for a six-pack of Coca Cola, reminiscent of the $600 toilet seats and the $100 hammers

-supplied half of AbuGraib interrogators who ran roughshod over rules due to
1) no accountability to the military
2) no supervision by CACI

-supplied private armies that could not fight

To corroborate all of this consider the program AIR on PBS, 10/27 covering the Homeland Security rip off by Accenture

-awarded $70 mil for an airport security screening system that did not work and was not compatible with FBI systems.

-set up junkets based in luxury hotels to recruit TSA workers even at the lowest level.

Makes viable content for a textbook entitled: "How to Steal Taxpayer's money from the government legally," and another new low in the conduct of government by the current Administration.

Something is deeply wrong with our press corps

I was just watching Chris "Tweety Bird" Matthews interviewing several reporters. At one point, he asked them who they thought would take the House and Senate. Several gave their views. Then, Matthews turned to the last reporter and said, "I know you have to be careful what you say about this because you cover the Hill." The reporter agreed, and instead of giving his view, he told us what he thought the "inside-the-beltway" view was.

Now, just tell me why it is that a reporter has to be "careful" not to tell us who he believes is going to win an election? Retribution or something?

Something is deeply wrong with our press corps.

Who owns the voting machine companies?

After reading this:

In the debate about the reliability of electronic voting technology, the South Florida parent company of one of the nation's leading suppliers of touch-screen voting machines is drawing special scrutiny from the U.S. government.

Federal officials are investigating whether Smartmatic, owner of Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems, is secretly controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, according to two people familiar with the probe.

it crossed my mind that it would the perfect irony if, after having pushed for so long to protect the rights of voting machine manufacturers to fix the vote, the Republicans lost this election because the vote was fixed against them by Hugo Chavez.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Convert or die

A new religious wars video game is going on the market to teach our evangelical youth that if you can't convert the heathens to your view of Christianity, you need to exterminate them.

The countdown to the launch of Left Behind: Eternal Forces into minds of evangelical youth to prepare them for the coming religious war, is now underway.

While many will no doubt play the new video game, like any other game, others in the game's target market will unwittingly experience an indoctrination in the idea that the failure to convert the targets of religious prostylitization justifies killing them.

Nevertheless, the game's release is tied to the Christmas shopping season, suggesting that the evangelical Christian commercial marketplace is being harnessed to drive a dangerous form of Christian supremacism: Dangerous to religious minorities, as well as members of incorrect sects. Arguably, it undermines and prepares for aggression against constitutional democracy itself, and foundational ideas of religious equality under the law. [emphasis added by Walldon]

I guess the next time the Jehova's Witnesses come sidling up to my door, I'm going to get my gun out of the closet.

Oops, I don't own a gun.

Israel using uranium-based weapons?

This article suggests that the Israelis may have used uranium-based weapons in Lebanon, one more atrocity against a largely passive and somewhat friendly (heretofore) population.

We know that the Israelis used American "bunker-buster" bombs on Hizbollah's Beirut headquarters. We know that they drenched southern Lebanon with cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the war, leaving tens of thousands of bomblets which are still killing Lebanese civilians every week. And we now know - after it first categorically denied using such munitions - that the Israeli army also used phosphorous bombs, weapons which are supposed to be restricted under the third protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which neither Israel nor the United States have signed.

But scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbollah guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August, suggests that uranium-based munitions may now also be included in Israel's weapons inventory - and were used against targets in Lebanon. According to Dr Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, two soil samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures". Both have been forwarded for further examination to the Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire for mass spectrometry - used by the Ministry of Defence - which has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples.

Dr Busby's initial report states that there are two possible reasons for the contamination. "The first is that the weapon was some novel small experimental nuclear fission device or other experimental weapon (eg, a thermobaric weapon) based on the high temperature of a uranium oxidation flash ... The second is that the weapon was a bunker-busting conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium rather than depleted uranium." A photograph of the explosion of the first bomb shows large clouds of black smoke that might result from burning uranium.

I note that this article appeared in the UK's Independent. It's unlikely you will see articles of this ilk in the American press. They're scared to death of the repercussions from those inclined to label anyone criticizing Israel as anti-Semitic.

Single sex education

As you are probably aware, there is a lively debate going on right now about the merits of single sex education in public schools. Many argue that girls are intimidated, particularly in math and science classes, when boys are in the same class. And, apparently some studies have indicated that girls do better in single sex environments.

Last night Kevin Drum weighed in to the debate by sitting on the fence.

I find it strange that no one ever seems to talk about whether this is good or bad for boys. Maybe that's because the subject is sort of looked at through the distortion of a feminist lens. The evil boys dominate the girls in a co-educational environment and prevent them from attaining their full intellectual potential.

Whatever the reason, I thought I'd make a few comments, mostly from my own experience.

From fifth grad on, I attended all male schools, first a country day school in my home town in Ohio from fifth through eighth and then a boarding school in Massachusetts for the four years of high school. As I think back on it now, I am easily convinced that the cloistered environment of the boarding school, and, to a lesser extent, the all male environment of junior high served me very well in the strict sense of gaining a "formal" education. I have no doubt that, had there been girls in my classes and in the surrounding environment, that would have been a massive distraction during those years when the hormones were raging. Every bare ankle (we didn't get to look at bare thighs in those days, so a bare ankle would have to do) would have drawn my attention away from whatever the instructor was doing or from my homework in study hall.

Had I remained at home in a co-ed school, I'm convinced that my evening hours would have been devoted entirely to endless phone calls to "sweet hearts" rather than focused on reading the textbook, writing the term papers, and completing the problem sets.

There's little question my studies would have suffered.

Or, is there?

The other side of the coin is the impact that total isolation from the opposite sex had on my ability to socialize with women. Because of the total isolation at school, I knew few girls and had even less contact with them. I really didn't know how to look at a girl as a friend or a buddy or a colleague. On the few times I did have an opportunity to interact with girls, there was one object and one object only in mind -- sexual conquest. The first once over when I met a girl was to determine whether the girl was attactive enough to be worth pursuing. If not, forget her. There was no time to just fraternize. There were only five more days left to the holiday, and I had to move on to find someone and make things happen quickly. Once the girl passed the first screen, then the sole object of further contact was conquest.

Now, I sense that was a totally warped view of things, distorted largely by the fact of isolation. And, to some degree, it still influences my dealings with women even now at my advanced age of 64. Even today, I find it very hard to meet any woman and not at least consider the thought of going to bed with her. Luckily, since most of the women I now meet are roughly my age, most don't pass the first screening, so we can go on to be friends without being bothered by further pipe dreams. But, there is always that first, quick once over where the question crosses my mind.

Perhaps, even my first comments about girls being a distraction in the classroom grows out of that warped background. Perhaps, had I been enrolled in a co-educational environment, I would have gotten over all that stuff quickly, and not been distracted from my studies by the presence of women. Who knows?

How does sexual isolation affect girls' ability to socialize with men? Is it similar? I haven't the foggiest. But, I'm sure there has to be some effect. And, in today's environment with men and women working together as (hopefully) equals in the workplace, it's surely important to know whether earlier isolation from the opposite sex warps the working relationship.

At any rate, it seems to me that there are considerations here that go well beyond the simple question of the impact on formal classroom learning.

So, perhaps for very different reasons than Kevin Drum, I too am a fence sitter on this question. I'm sure this should be a fertile area for serious research.

Blogger acting up

So what else is new?

Blogger does not seem to be accepting posts at the present time -- at
least not from me. I have several posts by e-mail waiting in the queue
and I'm about to add this one to express my sense of frustration.

It's not my fault folks.

What's the greatest threat to our democracy?

Here's Denny Hastert on what Democrats think:

Embattled Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL), still reeling from press scrutiny over the Foley scandal, has 'blogged' at a conservative website in which he writes that Democrats think the GOP is America's primary threat.

"In short, Democrats do not believe in the Global War on Terror," writes Hastert at the site, Redstate. "I don't mean that they don't support it, though they don't. What I mean is Democrats don't believe the war actually exists."

I don't know about Dems in general, so I'll speak for myself. Yes, Dennis, I do think that the GOP, at least as embodied in those GOPers now in power, is the biggest threat to America -- if you mean by that, the Constitutional form of democratic government we have lived under since our great revolution.

And, no, I don't disbelieve in other threats, such as the threat of terrorism. As 9/11 demostrated so clearly, they are both real and very, very dangerous. What Hastert doesn't seem to get is that I can believe both that terrorism is a very, very serious threat and STILL believe that the GOP is an even more serious threat to our democracy.

Why do I say that? Because they have proven time and time again that they are willing to throw out the Constitution willy nilly for political gain. As long as they remain in power, they will continue to do so until there is nothing left of constitutional democracy in this country. Indeed, it may already be too late. The powers this president has grabbed will set the precedent for all presidents to come. It is in the nature of people, and particularly of politicians, to want to keep the powers they have already acquired. That's why our founding fathers set up the checks and balances of the Constitution -- to prevent the kind of power grab that this president has pulled off. Now that he's pulled it off, it may be too late to put the genie back in the box.

Another cover up at Hastert's office?

It seems that Republicans are addicted to cover ups. Every time you turn around, you find another one:

Two former House committee investigators who were examining Capitol Hill security upgrades said a senior aide to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert hindered their efforts before they were abruptly ordered to stop their probe last year.

The former Appropriations Committee investigators said Ted Van Der Meid, Hastert’s chief counsel, resisted from the start the inquiry, which began with concerns about mismanagement of a secret security office and later probed allegations of bid-rigging and kickbacks from contractors to a Defense Department employee.

Ronald Garant and a second Appropriations Committee investigator who asked not to be identified said Van Der Meid engaged in “screaming matches” with investigators and told at least one aide not to talk to them. Van Der Meid also prohibited investigators from visiting certain sites to check up on the effectiveness of the work, the investigators said.

Van Der Meid oversaw Capitol security upgrades for Hastert, R-Ill., and worked closely with the office that was charged with implementing them, the investigators said.

Fair weather friends

Corporate America, seeing the handwriting on the wall is beginning to shift its contributions away from Republicans to Democrats. Happy to take your money folks, but let's just hope the Democrats remember who their REAL friends are.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 — Corporate America is already thinking beyond Election Day, increasing its share of last-minute donations to Democratic candidates and quietly devising strategies for how to work with Democrats if they win control of Congress.

The shift in political giving, for the first 18 days of October, has not been this pronounced in the final stages of a campaign since 1994, when Republicans swept control of the House for the first time in four decades.

... An analysis by The New York Times of contributions from Oct. 1 to 18, the latest data available, shows that donations to Republicans from corporate political action committees dropped by 11 percentage points in favor of Democratic candidates, compared with corporate giving from January through September.

Republicans still received 57 percent of contributions, compared with 43 percent for Democrats, but it was the first double-digit October switch since 1994. “A lot will hold their powder for now,” said Brian Wolff, deputy executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “But after the election, we will have a lot of new friends.”

What is not Clinton's fault?

From the Albany, NY Timesunion:

[Rep. John] Sweeney [R-NY], meanwhile, made stops around the district. After an announcement at the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta, he defended his record.

"The deficit is actually a result of a recession that began in his [Clinton's] administration," he contended. "We are exponentially paying down the deficit in an accelerated time frame."

Yes, and the death of my last dog, back in '88, was Clinton's fault too because he hadn't invented a cure for old dog aging.

Halliburton at it again still

According to today's NY Times, Halliburton is ripping off the taxpayer by withholding data on its contract performance from auditors on the grounds that it's performance data are proprietary. You couldn't get away with that kind of crap with any client other than a patsy government run by your former CEO:

A Halliburton subsidiary that has been subjected to numerous investigations for billions of dollars in contracts it received for work in Iraq has systematically misused federal rules to withhold basic information on its practices from American officials, a federal oversight agency said yesterday.

The contracts awarded to the company, KBR, formerly named Kellogg Brown & Root, are for housing, food, fuel and other necessities for American troops and government officials in Iraq, and for restoring that country’s crucial oil infrastructure. The contracts total about $20 billion.

The oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, said KBR had refused to disclose information as basic as how many people are fed each day in its dining facilities and how many gallons of fuel are delivered to foreign embassies in Iraq, claiming that the data was proprietary, meaning it would unfairly help its business competitors.

Friday, October 27, 2006

One more Republican investigated

This time, it's Duke Cunningham's successor. They're falling like pins in a bowling alley:

NORTH COUNTY [Carlsbad, CA]----- A neighbor of Republican 50th District Rep. Brian Bilbray said Thursday that he was subpoenaed to testify before a San Diego County grand jury in August and spent about an hour and a half answering questions about whether Bilbray lived in his Carlsbad neighborhood.

…Speculation has swirled around the Bilbray's residence issue for days, with Democrats and Busby's campaign claiming they had received calls from several of Bilbray's Carlsbad neighbors, saying they had been called to testify before a grand jury investigating the congressman's residence.

The economics of global warming

Bush keeps arguing that we can't afford to address the global warming problem because programs to reduce greenhouse gases are too costly. Perhaps he should think again:

Global warming could cost the world's economies up to 20 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) if urgent action is not taken to stop floods, storms and natural catastrophes.

That stark warning was given to Tony Blair and his cabinet yesterday by Sir Nicholas Stern, a former World Bank economist, and is said to have left cabinet ministers chastened by the magnitude of the threat posed by climate change.

In a preview of a report he is to deliver next Monday, Sir Nicholas told the Cabinet the world would have to pay 1 per cent of its annual GDP to avert catastrophe. But doing nothing could cost 5 to 20 times that amount. He told them: "Business- as-usual will derail growth."

Gosh. Who'd uv thought?

Rural voters shifting in favor of the Democrats

This is incredibly good news. The rural districts tend to go heavily Republican. In fact, David Brooks often talks about the correlation between the distance from the inner cities and the percentage of Republicans. Well, that's changing rapidly:

The rural vote has shifted in favor of Democratic congressional candidates in the last month, indicating Republicans are losing ground with a key constituency, according to the Center for Rural Strategies Poll.

The poll of rural voters in 41 contested congressional districts found that likely voters preferred Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives by a margin of 13 points, 52 percent to 39 percent. In mid-September, the same population of voters was evenly split between the two parties at 45 percent each.

Rumsfeld to the press: Just back off.

You can't say it much better than Billmon did here:

You ought to just back off, take a look at it, relax, understand that it’s complicated, it’s difficult. Honorable people are working on these things together. There isn’t any daylight between them.

Donald Rumsfeld
Press Conference
October 26, 2006

The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Conduct of Life

If you want to see Rumsfeld blow his stack at the press, Crooks and Liars has the video here.

Oh my, another terrorist threat

Oh my, we have another terrorist threat. Hmmm. It's ten days to the elections. I get it.

RIYADH (Reuters) - Top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia said on Friday it was taking measures to protect its oil and economic installations from a "terrorist threat".

Western naval forces in the Gulf have been deployed to counter a possible seaborne threat to its Ras Tanura oil terminal.

"The terrorist threat to the kingdom's economic installation exists and it is a declared goal of the straying faction to affect the interests of the Saudi citizen," an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

It's not your grandparents' America

Terri Shiavo's husband tries to attend the debate between Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) and challenger Angie Paccione, and here's what happened:

Just minutes after taking my seat, I noticed a flurry of activity around my seat including about four uniformed police officers who were - I would learn later - called in by Musgrave staffers and asked to remove me from the building.

At this point, I had made no speeches, I had no signs, had made no attempt to disrupt or cause any commotion. I only came into the auditorium, spoke to a dozen or so reporters and took a seat.

To their credit, the police refused the Musgrave campaign's appeal to have me removed.

It gets even worse. Read the whole thing here.

I mean, this wasn't even a campaign rally. It was a debate between two opposing candidates. So, what makes Ms. Musgrave think she has the right to have an opponent thrown out?

Call in the storm troopers, this isn't my America.

Slime bucket-in-chief

With clock-like predictability, our slime bucket-in-chief jumped on the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling on same sex unions yesterday, even though he has not the slightest idea what the New Jersey Constitution guarantees or whether the Court correctly interpreted that Constitution.

Wednesday’s ruling, in which the New Jersey Supreme Court decided that gay couples are entitled to the same legal rights and financial benefits as heterosexual couples, had immediate ripple effects, especially in Senate races in some of the eight states where voters are considering constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage.

President Bush put a spotlight on the issue while campaigning in Iowa, which does not have a proposal on the ballot. With the Republican House candidate, Jeff Lamberti, by his side, Mr. Bush — who has not been talking about gay marriage in recent weeks — took pains to insert a reference into his stump speech warning that Democrats would raise taxes and make America less safe.

“Yesterday in New Jersey, we had another activist court issue a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage,” Mr. Bush said at a luncheon at the Iowa State Fairgrounds that raised $400,000 for Mr. Lamberti.

No disparaging the president allowed

Network television is now rejecting ads that "disparage" the president. Jesus, what have we come to in this country? Read Glenn Greenwald's response.

Scooter Libby's "memory" expert destroyed on the stand

Since I used to do quite a bit of expert testimony in the courts and always feared this would happen to me, this story about how Patrick Fitzgerald utterly destroyed Scooter Libby's "memory" expert in a pre-trial hearing yesterday had special interest for me:

With withering and methodical dispatch, White House nemesis and prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald yesterday sliced up the first person called to the stand on behalf of the vice president's former chief of staff.

…Fitzgerald's target in the witness box was Elizabeth F. Loftus, a professor of criminology and psychology at the University of California at Irvine. For more than an hour of the pretrial hearing, Loftus calmly explained to Judge Reggie B. Walton her three decades of expertise in human memory and witness testimony. Loftus asserted that, after copious scientific research, she has found that many potential jurors do not understand the limits of memory and that Libby should be allowed to call an expert to make that clear to them.

But when Fitzgerald got his chance to cross-examine Loftus about her findings, he had her stuttering to explain her own writings and backpedaling from her earlier assertions. Citing several of her publications, footnotes and the work of her peers, Fitzgerald got Loftus to acknowledge that the methodology she had used at times in her long academic career was not that scientific, that her conclusions about memory were conflicting, and that she had exaggerated a figure and a statement from her survey of D.C. jurors that favored the defense.

…There were several moments when Loftus was completely caught off guard by Fitzgerald, creating some very awkward silences in the courtroom.

One of those moments came when Loftus insisted that she had never met Fitzgerald. He then reminded her that he had cross-examined her before, when she was an expert defense witness and he was a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office in New York.
Somehow, demonstrating her point by exposing her deficient memory does not seem to me to be the best way to proceed.

Digby on Michael J. Fox

Digby is on a rant, and rightly so:

This Michael J. Fox controversy is making me more angry than I can remember being in a long time. There is something wrong with people who think like this:

LAUER: And you brought up Michael J. Fox. Let me just ask you: You know, Rush Limbaugh started a lot of controversy when he said perhaps Michael J. Fox was exaggerating or faking these effects of Parkinson's disease in that ad promoting stem cell research. Didn't Rush Limbaugh just say what a lot of people were privately thinking?


LAUER: But also, Susan, last word. If Michael Fox goes out there politically and puts himself in the fray, he has to expect to be, you know, taken to account, correct?

ESTRICH: Correct. And he is being taken to account.

If Michael J. Fox could still act he would be making millions of dollars acting in paying TV commercials, films or sitcoms. He's only 45 years old for God's sake and he still has young kids. He is suffering from a horrifying disease and he deserves for people to respect his sincerity if nothing else. He does actually have Parkinson's, after all, and I'm sure he really does believe that stem cell research provides a hope for a cure --- unless they think he's lying about that too.

I was never an avid fan of The Today Show but I never knew that Matt Lauer shared the same privileged, cynical sophomoric worldview as the talk show pig, Rush Limbaugh. Now I know. I won't be bothering with him anymore.

* And Susan Estrich is typically obtuse for agreeing that Fox should be "called to account." What exactly does he have to account for? Being struck by a debilitating disease and campaigning for a cure?

Jesus this political establishment is a bunch of heartless, useless creeps. No wonder most poeple in this country are turned off to politics.

Bush is trying to figure out a matrix to lie about the war

Before we invaded Iraq, Bush didn't even know there was a cleavage between Shiites and Sunnis or that the two groups existed at all. Now, he demonstrates his ignorance again, this time about Ramadan. This is from the interview he held with right-leaning reporters yesterday:

"And I'm trying to figure out a matrix that says things are getting better. I think that one way to measure is less violence than before, I guess. We'll have to see what happens here after Ramadan. I believe these people -- oh, I was going to tell you Abizaid believes Ramadan, no question, caused them to be more violent because he says there's some kind of reward during Ramadan for violence."
Ramadan is a period of fasting (at least during the daytime) and peace and family gatherings. It is not a time when violence is rewarded.

Further, as Editor and Publisher points out, Ramadan ended three days ago, and the violence has not abated. Five GIs were killed in the last day.

I do think the grasping at straws line, "I'm trying to figure out a matrix that says things are getting better ..." is quite telling. It's clear he's really struggling to find some way to paint lipstick on the pig.

Tripped up by their own lies

It seems the Republicans are getting so desparate that they are stumbling on their own lies. Here's a case in Maryland:

Cameras rolled and clicked yesterday as Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele strolled off a Red Line Metro train at the Grosvenor-Strathmore station and took his place before the microphones.

His Democratic opponent for the U.S. Senate, the Republican said, was so out of touch with the Washington suburbs' transportation woes he couldn't even locate a proposed link in the Metro system known as the Purple Line. It was a criticism Steele raised in a televised debate the day before.

The only problem: Steele held his media event on the "need for a Purple Line" at a Metro station two stops from where the proposed line would go. It turns out that the Grosvenor-Strathmore station in North Bethesda was part of an old proposal, called the "outer line," that Maryland dropped two years ago. The only path being studied now, the "inner line," would start in downtown Bethesda -- four miles from where Steele stood.
Then, there's this one in New York (curtesy of Atrios):
A new television ad paid for by the campaign of Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, R-8, claims that Democrat Patrick Murphy has lied about his employment as a federal prosecutor in New York.

... The ad, which features the standard deep-voiced narration and ominous music, claims Murphy’s frequent statement that he “prosecuted some of the toughest criminals in New York” is untrue.

“He claims he was a U.S. attorney, but the Justice Department confirms he never worked there,” the ad said. “Murphy says he prosecuted some of New York’s toughest criminals. Court records prove he never did.”
Murphy quickly produced his appointment letter and court documents proving he had prosecuted cases in New York.


Today's NY Times has an article saying the Democrats are afraid the black vote won't turn out because black voters disproportionately believe their votes won't be counted accurately. Fixed voting machines, long lines at the polls, and poll challenges by Thuglican hacks are among the reasons.

As regular readers of this blog know full well, I too share these fears. But, the remedy is not to stay at home. The remedy is to come out in such overwhelming numbers that no amount of fixing can tip the scales back to the thugs.

Someone needs to start shouting that from the rooftops.


Bush delays the Rapture

Juan Cole's blog led me to this gem:

Voters should oust congressional Republican leaders because U.S. foreign policy is delaying the second coming of Jesus Christ, according to a evangelical preacher trying to influence closely contested political races.

K.A. Paul railed against the war in Iraq on Sunday before a crowd of 1,000 at the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, his first stop on what he hopes is a 30-city campaign.

The Houston-based preacher said he believes that the Bush administration has delayed the second coming because U.S. foreign policy has blocked Christian missionaries from working in Iraq, Iran and Syria.

If he's lost the evangelical nut cases, he's really down the tubes.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

They're all alike -- bull tweeties

From TPM Muckraker, here's the list of Congressmen who are publicly identified as being under investigation by Federal authorities or have family members under review. It's 15 Rethuglicans v. 2 Democrats. Yet, everytime one Republican is mentioned on the mainstream media -- think Chris (Tweety Bird) Matthews or Tim (Pumpkin Head) Russert, these guys have to say, yes but it's also Democrats. Think of Jefferson with the $60,000 hidden in his freezer. As if this were equivalence. They're all alike. Bull tweeties.

The Daily Commute

Just for the fun of it, this photo is courtesy of Simoneyezd in Ontario. It's a shot of a road in the Bolivian Andes. I wonder what a good average speed is on this road.

The pressure to legislate

This article claims there will be enormous pressure on the Democrats to produce legislation if they take back the Senate. Frankly, I'm not so sure.

In my own case, at least, the first and foremost priority is not to pass new legislation. It's to STOP Bush from pushing any more damaging crap down our throats. In so far as the Senate goes, it's to STOP Bush's court appointees, particularly any Supreme Court nominations he may get to make.

The second priority is to begin the whithering investigations that almost certainly will lead to indictments of many high level Bush appointees, will tarnish the image of the Thuglican Party for years, perhaps decades, to come, forcing them back into minority party status, and may well lead to impeachment proceedings.

The third priority is to try to bring a stop to Bush's irresponsible antics abroad by bringing some control to the purse strings.

The fourth priority is to finally establish some oversight into what the administration is doing and how it is doing them by bringing some transparency back to government.

Finally, the last priority is to try to pass legislation that will undo, in so far as possible, the terrible things that this administration has already done. Reinstate taxes on the rich. Reinstate programs for the poor and needy. Reinstate habeas corpus. Stop torture. Stop warrantless wiretapping. While these things are not low priorities in their own right, there is not a chance that we will have veto-proof majorities in both Houses, so none of these things will get done while Bush remains in power. Since they won't get done, I don't rank them high on my priority list.

And, finally, I just want to add one final thought. I suppose it's in the nature of things for legislators to want to legislate. It's their job. But, this urge to place their mark on something often leads to people trying to fix things that aren't broken. It's frequently better just to do nothing than to fix something that's not broken.

I used to see this tendency regularly back when I did a significant amount of teaching for large corporations in their executive development programs. Everytime a new program director would come in (and, in many companies, this was a regular event every year or two as a new person was rotated through the position), the new director would want to change things in order to put his/her mark on the program. Sometimes, these changes were useful, but more often they were just changes for the sake of change and often were counter-productive.

Right now, the most important thing we can do, in my view, is bring the march over the cliff to a screeching halt, and to a large degree that means shutting down the legislative program of Bush, not producing new legislation.

Republican melt-down in Ohio

The sweeping political changeover in my birth-State of Ohio is truly remarkable. Brown is now up 20 points over DeWine:

CLEVELAND -- A SurveyUSA poll for Channel 3 News shows Democrat challenger Sherrod Brown winning over ncumbent Republican Mike DeWine. Brown unseats DeWine 57% to 37% according to Ohio voters likely to vote, interviewed October 23 through October 25.

Brown led by 14 in an identical SurveyUSA tracking poll on 10/12/06. Today, Brown leads by 20.

Brown's lead among males is up from 1 point on 10/12/06 to 13 points today; up from 12 points among white voters to 18 points today.

In Western Ohio, DeWine led by 18 2 weeks ago, trails by 10 today, a 28-point swing to the Democrat.
But, what's really remarkable is that 28 point swing in Western Ohio in only two weeks.

A quiet day on Lake Woebegon

Is it a quiet day on Lake Woebegon, or is it just that this administration has committed so many atrocities that I've become desensitized to them?

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that many of the reconstruction projects in Iraq were running way over budget because overhead costs were running as high as 55% when they were expected to be around 10%. The main reason was not that cost of protecting the workers were high. That had been expected. The main reason was we sent the teams over nine months before the projects were slated to begin. Poor contracts, lack of supervision, and fraud all contributed.

What was my response? It was, "so what else is new?" I didn't even blog about it yesterday, even though it was the lede story in the paper.

Over the past few days there have been at least five Republican Congressmen newly accused of wrongdoing in one way or another.

What was my response? It was, "so what else is new?" I haven't even blogged about it.

Over the last few days there have been multiple over-the-top attack ads put out by Republicans around the country. Among them is the, "watch out, he's an uppity nigger trying to take your white girl friend," ads against Democratic Senate contender, Harold Ford. Then, there's the "Sherrod Brown is sucking up to uber-radical, Hollywood evil doer Al Franken" ad that displays a photo-shopped picture of Al Franken wearing Playboy ears and diapers, lying back with his legs spread as if he's inviting a male sex partner. There's also the second ad aimed against Harold Ford that plays jungle drums everytime Ford's name is mentioned, just to remind folks that, "he's an uppity nigger trying to rise above his station." Then, there's the ad accusing Michigan Governor of contributing to the muders of three people. I could go on and on.

What was my response? It was, "so what else is new?" I haven't even blogged about it.

Well, now I've blogged about it.

Sabre rattling?

If this is only sabre rattling, I have no objections. In fact, Iran should know that we do have a last resort (of course, we don't actually. Everything we have is alread committed.) However, I don't trust this administration even when I can see them.

There is a massive concentration of US naval power in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Two US naval strike groups are deployed: USS Enterprise, and USS Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group. The naval strike groups have been assigned to fighting the "global war on terrorism."

War Games

Concurrent with ths concentration of US Naval power, the US is also involved in military exercises in the Persian Gulf, which consists in "interdicting ships in the Gulf carrying weapons of mass destruction and missiles"

The exercise is taking place as the United States and other major powers are considering sanctions including possible interdiction of ships on North Korea, following a reported nuclear test, and on Iran, which has defied a U.N. Security Council mandate to stop enriching uranium.

The exercise, set for Oct. 31, is the 25th to be organized under the U.S.-led 66-member Proliferation Security Initiative and the first to be based in the Gulf near Bahrain, across from Iran, the officials said.

Winning their hearts and minds

This looks like a very good way to win the hearts and minds of the Afghanis:

Kabul- Airstrikes and artillery fire by NATO-led International Security Assistance Force killed at least at least 85 civilians and around 48 Taliban insurgents in volatile southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Thursday. Over 85 civilians including women and children were killed in Zang Abad village of Panjwayi district, 20 kilometres west of Kandahar Province Tuesday evening, said Bismillah Afghanmal, a member of Kandahar provincial council.

It must be April

A screen capture of a public service announcement from Associated Press today.

Deeper into the red: more warfare ahead?

Looking for another reason to vote Democratic? How about this, from Glenn Greenwald: The Regime looks likely to escalate US military activity in Iraq--
This seems a critically important issue to note. Escalation of this war -- not a draw-down of it -- will become the new strategy after the election. There are simply no other choices. What we are doing now simply isn't working, so much so that not even the White House bothers to deny that any more. At the same time, the President yesterday made expressly clear what has been obvious for some time -- we aren't leaving Iraq. And we don't have nearly enough additional troops to make a meaningful difference in the troop strength we have there or to enable new strategies by increasing our military presence.

What other real option is there for trying to change the course of the war there other than to try to bomb and kill our way to "victory"? That is clearly what the President's hardest-core supporters are demanding, and the history of this administration is that it ultimately adheres to the views and demands of the extremists who comprise its base (largely because those who control the administration are themselves extremists in that mold). Nobody knows for certain, but it is a clear possibility that our post-election strategy in Iraq will entail a substantial escalation in violence, attacks, killings and resources. That is what the President's supporters believe is the missing ingredient to allow them to finally achieve Victory in this great war.
We need a Congress that can and will staunch the flow of money for and therefore the flow of blood (at least by our hands) from this dishonest, dishonorable, inimical war. Otherwise, The Regime seems determined to pursue a Final Solution.

GOP frothing over corruption probe leaks

The GOP is now frothing at the mouth about all the corruption probe leaks coming out of the Justice Department naming one new Republican investigation target after another. They believe it must be some rogue Democrat on the inside that's leaking this stuff.

Republicans are mad about corruption probe leaks before the election and are privately grumbling that "rogue elements" within the Department of Justice are trying to help tip the election to Democrats, according to Roll Call.

"For House Republicans, it seems that every week brings a new report about a GOP lawmaker under investigation by the Justice Department for alleged corruption," John Bresnahan writes. "And with the elections just 12 days away, Republicans are crying foul, complaining bitterly that the negative press spurred by the public disclosure of those criminal probes could help cost them their House majority."

"While a Justice Department run by Republican appointees who were nominated by a conservative Republican president would normally get the benefit of the doubt from GOP lawmakers and staffers, some party insiders are privately wondering whether 'rogue elements' within the department — and more specifically the Public Integrity Unit, where corruption cases are handled — are trying to tip the election to Democrats by leaking news of these investigations so late in the cycle," the article continues.

A top political operative for the GOP tells Roll Call that it appears as if "the Public Integrity Unit of the Justice Department is running wild," and that they are "trying to have some effect" on the midterm elections.

Whine and cry. I, on the other hand, firmly believe that many of these investigations are being deliberately delayed by the Republican controlled Justice Department in order to hide them from the voters until after the elections.

I ask you, which do you believe is more likely?

Or, if you answer, "both," then I ask which do you think is likely to have the greatest impact on the election, the delaying of indictments or the leaking of investigations?

Just think how long it's been known that Tom DeLay is a target of federal investigators. Yet, there have been no federal indictments of DeLay -- yet. That enables the GOP machine to argue that the only indictments against DeLay are partisan motivated slaps from a Democratic Party hack in Texas.

The Democrats do have a plan!

Via Andrew Tobias, I was directed to this post at Bryan's Blog:

I think what everyone desperately wants to see is Nick standing up and being tough, and responding aggressively to all the allegations in Shelley's ads; the same thing we wanted from John Kerry that he never did.

If the Democrats win the congress, it will not be because of the Democrats, it will be because of the Republicans. I'm sick and tired of our national party leaders not giving America what it desperately needs: a plan. Instead, they spend millions of dollars on stupid, poorly researched, political tricks.

And the sad thing is, a plan exists.

Few people know about the Democrats' "First 100 Hour Plan." Here's some details:

Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority
The problem is, this information can only be found in news articles and on a few blogs. No where is this on any websites for the DCCC, the DNC, or any of the national congressional leaders' websites.

They should be yelling and screaming this at the tops of their lungs.

Yesterday I had a few of our "gloomy Democrats" come through the headquarters. These are people who don't think Democrats will win, but they come to get their yard signs because they are loyal Democrats. I asked each of them if they had heard of the "First 100 Hours Plan," and they all said "no."

When I told them of it, their eyes all of a sudden got bright, and they all said "Wow. Now that's good stuff." And then of course they asked why haven't we heard of it.

Why indeed.
Of course, the answer to "why indeed?" is that it doesn't fit into the "Democrats are weak and disorganized" meme that the "liberal" mainstream media have been trying to sell.

The only way around it is to get this news out in other ways. I've posted the "first 100 hours" several times on this blog. Now I urge you to copy and paste this into an e-mail and send it to all your friends. The Democrats DO HAVE A PLAN!

Things to remember on election day

Just received this e-mail from a friend:

Abu Ghraib
Unwarranted Phone Taps
Unprecedented Powers
Unmatched Incompetence
Unparalleled Corruption
Governor Bob Taft
Representative Tom Delay
Representative Roy Blunt
Representative Ken Calvert
Representative John Dolittle
Representative Tom Feeney
Representative Katherine Harris
Representative Jerry Lewis
Representative Gary Miller
Representative Marilyn Musgrave
Representative Richard Pombo
Representative Rick Renzi
Representative John Sweeney
Representative Charles Taylor
Representative Curt Weldon
Representative J.D. Hayworth
Representative Don Sherwood
Representative Bob Ney
Representative Duke Cunningham
Representative Tom Reynolds
Representative Chris Cannon
Jeff Gannon
Representative Mark Foley
Representative Dennis Hastert
Senator George Allen
Senator Bill Frist
Senator Conrad Burns
Senator Rick Santorum
David Safavian
The Vice Presidential Energy Task Force
Three bucks a gallon
Record oil company profits
Anwar Pipeline
Anbar Province
Arthur Anderson
Global Crossing
Global Warming
Global Boiling
Adam Kidan
Timothy Flanigan
Ralph Reed
Harriet Miers
The Supreme Court
John Bolton
Florida, 2000
Ohio, 2004
North Korea
Stem Cell Research
Scooter Libby
Valerie Plame
Golden Parachutes
Shrunken Pensions
Bernie Kerik
Eminent Domain
Social Security
Habeas Corpus
Ahmad Chalabi
The Baghdad Museum
Tora Bora
Taliban Resurgence
Iraqi Insurgents
General Eric Shinseki
General Anthony Zinni
Mission Accomplished
Illegal Immigration
Intelligent Design
Kenneth Tomlinson
Claude Allen
Swift Boat Hit Squads
Ari Fleischer
Scott McClellan
Tony Snow
Ann Coulter
Expiration of Assault Weapons Ban
John Ashcroft
Alberto Gonzales
George Tenet
Paul Bremer
Paul Wolfowitz
Richard Perle
Kissinger Redux
Duck Cheney
Donald Henry Rumsfeld
Turd Blossom

...and finally, the
Uniter-Decider-Reader of
Camus, Shakespeare and "My Pet
Goat," who describes the party
that successfully prosecuted
two world wars as people who
cut and run.