Wednesday, March 28, 2007

GOP in serious bind on global warming opposition

Another day, another conflict between reality, voter perception, and Republican Party talking points. Yesterday came just the latest example of the increasingly bad news confronting the GOP in advance of the 2008 elections, this time in the form of a little-noticed post by Mark Mellman, pollster for John Kerry.

Mellman astutely observes in his article at The Hill that Republican voters in the critical New Hampshire primary are deeply concerned with the issue of global warming--contrary to the stance of the GOP overall. In fact, GOP presidential candidates will be in a serious bind when it comes to the issue: ignore it, and they lose the respect of their voters; make it an issue, and lose the respect of their wingnut base and the support of many of their big-money donors.

As Mellman says:

With Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) working overtime to convince America that the GOP is the vanguard of the Flat Earth Society, it is worth recognizing that Republican voters are far ahead of their elected officials, who are in danger of losing support as a result of embracing a Luddite position on global warming.

In December — long before Al Gore’s Oscar and the latest consensus scientific report — we surveyed 400 New Hampshire Republican primary voters for Clear the Air and Clean Air-Cool Planet and found them surprisingly enlightened, despite their conservative orientation. Unlike their leaders, Republican voters are concerned about the dangers posed by global warming and endorse immediate action to curb the carbon pollution that causes it.

Nearly eight in 10 Republican primary voters in New Hampshire believe global warming is a reality that is either happening now or will happen in the future. A solid 56 percent majority see global warming already occurring, while an additional 23 percent believe it will happen in the future. Just 14 percent think global warming will not happen.

Without getting into details, let me say that I've worked with Mellman before; while we have disagreements on policy and framing positions (and I believe he made serious mistakes in advising the Kerry campaign), the quality of his and his company's polling work is second-to-none and right on a par with that of Frank Luntz. Mellman is the closest thing the Democratic Party has right now to Frank Luntz in terms of accuracy and depth of their research. So I think it's safe to say that these numbers are truly indicative of the actual sentiments of New Hampshire voters, and that the polling was not biased.

But it gets worse for Republicans addicted to inaction on this critical issue. It turns out that a vast supermajority of New Hampshire Republicans want strong governmental action taken to curb emissions:

Moreover, this issue is of central concern to Republican primary voters. Nearly all (82 percent) say it is important to them that the U.S. take action to reduce the emissions that cause global warming....

Perhaps most strikingly, Newt Gingrich’s argument against the reality of global warming elicited extremely negative reactions from his fellow Republicans. When confronted with the former Speaker’s statement that “There’s no evidence to support global warming — none. It’s essentially cultural anthropology,” nearly half said it made them less likely to vote for the candidate who uttered it, including 34 percent who said it made them much less likely to vote for that candidate.

By contrast, the most compelling statements all carried clear calls to action. For example, 65 percent of GOP primary voters said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who said, “The Global Warming Plan I introduced in my state reduces greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 ...”

And what about Iowa? Well, there is no public poll available about Iowans' concern over global warming, it should be remembered that Iowa was the only red state to join in the 2004 lawsuit against the five largest global warming polluters in the United States--joining mostly deep blue states California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. This is partly because the probable effects of global warming/climate change on Iowa's economy have been shown to be quite severe (as shown here, here and here). In fact, the consequences of global warming are already hitting Iowa: As ISU Extension Climatologist and Professor of Agricultural Meteorology Elwynn Taylor said at the announcement of the 2004 lawsuit,
"The first sector to take a hit from global warming is agriculture. Iowa and Kansas could feel it hardest because of our dependence on agriculture. Erratic, sharp weather fluctuations - a likely consequence of global warming - leads to wide extremes in crop yield. I've estimated that global warming already consistently is costing about half a billion dollars a year in reduced corn yield to Iowa alone. And the effect on beans is likely similar."

It's safe to say, therefore, that the issue of global warming is going to be a significant one not only for the Democratic primary faithful (many of whom would vote for Al Gore in a heartbeat), but also for the Republican primary voters as well.

Moreover, this news comes just as major rifts are being created among evangelicals over the importance of global warming and climate change within the overall spiritual/religious debate. This issue is already traumatizing and splitting the TheoCon segment of the GOP; it will soon cause a rift between the average GOP early primary voter and professional deniers in the keep-my-exploitation-money-at-any-costs moneyed wing of the party.

And that alone should be enough to give any GOP operative or candidate serious heartburn--even if Iraq and the most corrupt administration in history weren't problems enough for them. Like they say, when it rains it pours. Hopefully, the ensuing storm will wash away the corrupt Republican ideology for a generation.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Clammyc was right; I was wrong

I figured that the GOP Senate would stand firm in support of Bush and the Occupation of Iraq--just as the leading GOP presidential candidates have done. Apparently, the self-preservation instinct of the honorable Senators is causing them to do right by the American people in spite of themselves. As Clammyc says:

The Senate republicans may be a lot of things. But they are not overly stupid - especially now that Cat Killer, MD George Allen and Rick Santorum (warning: gross) are out of the Senate. And Mitch McConnell may be a grade A douchebag, but if he was Majority Leader instead of "Fristie", then the republicans would never have lost the Senate.

They know that this occupation is an unmitigated disaster. They know that we all know it too. Some of them don’t agree at all (so, for argument’s sake, fuck ‘em – they don’t matter). Some of them kind of agree, but either don’t think their base agrees or they still think that "victory" is achievable. Some of them think that "enough is enough already, and, you know what else, Bush is a real stubborn motherfucker who doesn’t know what he is doing and is going to take down our party for a generation."

And there are enough of those on the republican side in the Senate, and they decided to toss their miserable bag of shit called "Iraq" back in Bush’s hands and run away, screaming "no backsies". Bush, being "The Decider™" that he is, said that he will veto anything that has a withdrawal timeline. The very same withdrawal timeline that more than 70% of our own troops favored A FULL YEAR AGO. The very same withdrawal timeline that the Iraqis are in favor of. The very same withdrawal timeline that most of We the People are in favor of.

Not to mention, by the way, that this supplemental bill needs to PASS in order for Bush and the republicans to not be branded as troop haters and defeatists. Knowing that Bush would show his hand real early on with his most charming trait – chest thumping, all of the heat was off the Senate republicans. They didn’t have to be put on the hotseat – even if they voted against the bill. Remember, if Kerry "voted to fund the war before he voted against it", then surely, a republican that votes for withdrawal might as well be a flip flopping, terrorist loving, God-hating faggot.

Why is this? Well, quite simply, if this doesn’t pass, then there is no 120 brazillian dollars for continuing George and Dick’s bogus journey.

The republicans could have made a huge deal about this. Hell, they make a huge deal about everything – even when they were able to do everything without any consequences or anyone else even knowing. They could have fought this bill and stomped up and down and tried to make the Democrats blink. They could have made a big stink about "not wanting to tell the terrorists when they can come out and kill again".

But they didn’t.

They hung Bush – "dear leader" - their leader out to dry. Twisting in the wind. Basically, by not giving him cover here, the message is, in no uncertain terms, "you can’t keep fucking us over like this anymore. If you want your funding, then you gotta figure a way out."


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Friday, March 23, 2007

The Biggest Loser Today? Senate Republicans

With news today of the passage of the Iraq Supplemental Bill has come a wide array of opinions from all sides of the political spectrum. The conventional wisdom on the supplemental goes something like this:

The battle is now joined between Democrats in Congress and President Bush; that Dems are playing a zugzwang on Bush, with three options:
1) Veto the bill, defunding his own war and setting up a battle royale before April 15, at which date the Occupation begins to be truly defunded;
2) Pass the bill, accepting the date-by-certains; or
3) Pass the bill, and simply "signing statement" away the oversight provisions.

But the truth is that the game is not really being played between Dems and President Bush, because everybody and their uncle who is being a realist about the situation knows that the bill will almost certainly not clear the Senate. And, of course, that's exactly what it has to do before it makes it to Bush's desk.

We can pressure as much as we want, but absent some very surprising shifts by some very key members of the Senate, Dems will not get the votes to pass this thing in its current form.

Johnson (D-South Dakota) is still recuperating from his illness, and will not be able to vote on the final bill. Thus, even if every Dem plus Sanders (and minus Lieberman) held their ground, the result in the Senate would be a tie--and ties are decided by Dick Cheney. Joe Lieberman (CfL-Connecticut) obviously won't vote for it. There will probably be at least one or two conservative Dems who bow to Administration and right-wing pressure, and perhaps even a progressive Dem (like Kucinich in the House) who think the bill isn't strong enough and vote that way. The GOP will stand as a bulwark of opposition to the bill, with perhaps one defection.

In other words, this bill is, barring a miracle, DOA in the Senate through Cheney's tiebreaking vote if nothing else.

But while this is bad news for our troops, for our country, and for Iraq, it's actually the best of all possible worlds politically. Here's why:

1) Bush is leaving office in 2008 regardless of what happens with this bill. His approval ratings are horrid, and there's very little he can do to make himself more odious, no matter what he does with this bill. There a presidential election on--and the GOP owns this war lock, stock and barrel. Furthermore, the Democratic and Republican nominees will be busy sniping at each other in 2008--not at Bush.

2) The Dem house has generated the headlines it needs to. While many of us feel the bill didn't go nearly far enough, to the average person not paying too much attention the news, it looks like Dems are standing very tough against Bush. This is a good thing.

3) The Senate GOP is extremely vulnerable in 2008--and unlike Bush, has to stand for re-election. They have a lot to lose--to the tune of 5 or 6 Democratic pickups or more. Senators are seen as national politicians, and the Occupation of Iraq is by far the biggest national issue.

If and when the Senate stands in the way of holding Bush accountable and setting timetables to end the war, it will not be Bush who stands in the crosshairs of the public's anger; it will be the Republicans in the Senate.

And the mantra, should the bill fail in the Senate, will be clear: as long as a Republican is president, the ONLY way to end the Occupation of Iraq is by getting rid of Senate Republicans. The election for President will stand and fall on its own merits, and that of the candidates (though any current Senators will be held to account for their own votes, of course). It is the Republican Senators, however, whose fate will be most impacted by this battle.

And here's a guarantee: if the vulnerable GOP Senators stand up for Bush and against the American people on this issue, they will be ousted in 2008 with near certainty. And that--if nothing else--is the most tangible accomplishment of today's victory in the House.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dem Congressional Approval Ratings DOWN: Failure to Address Iraq Cited

According to a new Gallup poll, public approval of the Democratic congress is down again after a brief honeymoon of a few months, with only a 28% approval rating against a 64% disapproval rating:

The modest uptick in approval of the job being done by Congress has dissipated for the most part after only two months. Congress job approval had risen over the last two months after the Democrats took over control of Congress in early January -- fueled in large part by a jump in approval among rank and file Democrats. This month, however, Congress job approval is back down to levels quite similar to where it was in 2006. Democrats have lost a good deal of the positivity exhibited in the first two months of the year after their party took over.

According to Gallup's monthly update on job approval of Congress -- in a March 11-14, 2007, national poll -- 28% of Americans approve of the job being done by Congress and 64% disapprove. This marks a substantial change from January and February, with approval down nine points and disapproval up nine points.

It would appear that after a few brief months of optimism about the new government, the American people have reverted to old pessimistic form, wallowing in cynicism about Congress. But what's worse, the approval ratings from Democrats went down substantially more than did those of Independents, while Republican approval ratings of Congress decreased only slightly this month versus the last few months:

This month, however, Congress job approval among Democrats has fallen back, and to a lesser degree among independents. Republicans -- already much less positive in January and February after their party lost control of Congress -- became only slightly more negative this month.

This means, of course, that Republicans have been happier with Congress of late than have Democrats. That's not a good sign.

While Gallup did not ask respondents for the reasons behind their answers, they did make an educated guess:

It is difficult to pinpoint precisely what is behind the drop off in optimism about Congress among Democrats. One possibility is that Democrats are disappointed that their party has been unable to do anything substantive about the Iraq war -- the dominant issue in last November's midterm elections. The increase in the price of gas and/or other economic concerns may also be a factor. Overall satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States and ratings of economic optimism are both down in the March Gallup Poll.

Honestly, I think the Gallup folks are right. Democratic and Independent voters put the Dems in Congress to do something--anything--about the Occupation of Iraq. Republicans--who by and large are okay with what Bush has done in Iraq, their only frustration lying with the lack of speedy "victory"--are fine with Congress of late because they haven't done much about the war.

What this means is that while the investigations and confrontations with the White House are quite pleasing to many of us activists, the bottom line for most Democrats was, is, and will remain serious action to end the Occupation of Iraq; anything less, and voters will express their displeasure in November of 2008.

Therefore, as we encourage Dems to do their investigatory duties, let us not allow the ending of the Occupation to take any less prominence in our minds: time is running out, and the voters are watching closely.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Markos sez...

Markos Moulitsas, proprietor of Daily Kos, has not exactly been a big proponent of impeachment. He has, in fact, stood against impeachment for over a year now even as most of his community has clamored and screamed for it. I myself jumped on the impeachment bandwagon a few months back in the face of Bush's belligerence on signing statements. Markos, however, has stood firm--even though it meant alienating much of his community, thereby endangering his livelihood.

So you know we've started to reach a tipping point when, in reaction to the mid-November to early-December gap in DOJ communication records reported by Politico, you see this from the big man himself:

The Bush Administration is working overtime to make this attorney scandal look more and more like Watergate by the day...Expect the phrases "constitutional crisis", "impeachment", and "inherent contempt" to start making the rounds.

Some of the last and most significant progressive holdouts against impeachment are falling by the wayside in the face of Bush's sheer brazenness and outright corruption. Watch for the political conservation in this country to turn ugly very quickly.

There is an epic battle on the horizon, and it's coming with greater haste than most realize.

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Impeachment on a Silver Platter--No Strings Attached!

What an extraordinary gift Bush has given the Democratic Party and the American People. For months if not years, Democrats and Progressives have wrung our hands and beaten our heads against the wall: should we move to impeach? Whom, exactly, should we impeach? How can we do it? On what grounds? Will the American people stand with us, or against us? Above all, how can we do it without making Republicans look like the victims of a partisan witch hunt?

These have been vexing questions: practical considerations of politics and process have hampered the morally imperative drive to hold this Administration accountable. Simply submitting articles of impeachment for crimes and scandals would, unfortunately, stink of partisan witchhunts. As I argued in my Dragged Against my Will... post, it would take a Constitutional Crisis of epic proportions (such as I originally envision signing statements being) to make impeachment proceedings a feasible reality. It would have to be not just a question of accountability or morality, but of the very future of the Legislative Branch as a government entity co-equal in standing with that of the Executive.

Thankfully for Democrats, the American People and the United States Constitution, George Bush's recalcitrance, petulance, and extraordinary loyalty to his corrupt cronies have already answered all those vexing questions for us. Rather than our bringing the confrontation to him, George Bush is bringing the confrontation of Constitutional crisis to us.

As anyone who has been paying attention knows from Bush's petulant press conference today, the Administration is doing no less than inviting upon themselves a governmental power struggle unseen since the days of Abraham Lincoln and his unilateral suspension of habeas corpus. The key quote is here:

The initial response by Democrats, unfortunately, shows some appear more interested in scoring political points than in learning the facts. It will be regrettable if they choose to head down the partisan road of issuing subpoenas and demanding show trials when I have agreed to make key White House officials and documents available. I have proposed a reasonable way to avoid an impasse. I hope they don't choose confrontation. I will oppose any attempts to subpoena White House officials.

What Bush wants, of course, is the right to have his aides lie through their teeth in private, un-recorded sessions with no transcripts (i.e., no accountability). Elsewise, what could possibly be the difference between testifying under oath and testifying privately? As the conservatives so often say, "if you've got nothing to hide, what are you afraid of?"

He can't afford to have his aides tell the truth under oath, because then his whole staff--from Rove to Miers to Gonzales to many others--would fall. And that's just on the Justice Department firings business alone. But as Kagro X so effectively points out, this business goes far beyond the attorney scandal:

Realize that the resolution of this stand-off will determine the extent to which the Congress is able to investigate everything that's still on their plate. If they lose this showdown, they lose their leverage in investigating NSA spying, the DeLay/Abramoff-financed Texas redistricting, Cheney's Energy Task Force, the political manipulation of science, the Plame outing... everything.

And that's why Bush is playing it this way. Remember, too, that his "administration" is populated by Watergate and Iran-Contra recidivists, chief among them Dick Cheney, who has wanted to relitigate the boundaries of executive power since forever. Cheney and others on the inside believe that this time, with a friendlier judiciary, these issues can be decided the "right" way, overturning the victories won against Richard Nixon's insane theories of executive power.

Their thinking is that they'll either win it in courts, or run out the clock trying.

And the day they get five Justices to say they're right, everything you thought you knew about checks and balances becomes wrong.

There is, of course, another option: the highest court in the land--even above the Supreme Court. That court is the U.S. Congress--the final recourse for the American People to wrangle and hold accountable an out-of-control president. If the President refuses to obey subpoenas; if the attorneys in their back pockets refuse to prosecute; and the courts they have stacked refuse to convict--then impeachment is the final and ONLY recourse for justice.

It must be remembered here that BushCo always had two options in dealing with all these issues--even after perpetrating their crimes on the American people: they could
1) take the money and power, run, claim executive privilege and plausible deniability, let their subordinates take the fall, and slink out of office in 2009 as the most scandal-ridden and inept administration in history; or
2) choose to officially turn the American constitutional republic into a quasi-dictatorship by refusing to give ground and fundamentally altering the balance of power between the Executive and Legislative branches.

The first option would have harmed the Republican party for a while--but also allowed them to paint themselves as victims of partisan witchhunts, while letting a new fresh face emerge from the field in 2008 or 2012 to revitalize the Conservative movement.

The second option would lead inevitably to an epic showdown leading to impeachment proceedings and, should impeachment fail, the disenfrachisement of the legislative branch regardless of party control, with the end result in Authoritariansim either way.

Had the Republicans chosen option #1, they could have avoided impeachment proceedings.

Since, however, they have chosen option #2, they cannot POSSIBLY avoid impeachment proceedings unless Democrats in congress show a complete lack of spine.

What is more, Republicans in the House and Senate will not necessarily oppose us on impeachment when it comes to this issue: they can see the handwriting on the wall; they can see that Bush is leaving them out to dry; and they will not easily fall in line to play pawns for a lame-duck administration willing to go balls-out to strip those very congressional republicans of their own checks and balances to help them stop President Hillary, Obama or what-have-you. Furthermore, they will be less and less likely to want to defend Bush and his cronies as the ugliness of other impending scandals and investigations begins to unfold over the coming months.

In sum, Bush has given us every possible political cover and excuse for impeaching him, on an issue for which he has little to no congressional support among Republicans. It's wrapped up in a neat little package with a bowtie. It is, frankly, a generous gift to our Party, our Nation, and our Constitution.

All we need is the courage to open it.

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¡Viva la Romney!

Now this is hilarious: in an attempt to pander to Cuban Republicans in South Florida, Republican hopeful Mitt Romney quoted one of Fidel Castro's favorite sayings in badly mangled Spanish:

Politicians in South Florida have lashed out at the former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential hopeful for describing the socialist saying "Patria o muerte, venceremos" as "inspiring" and for claimingthe phrase was swiped from liberty-seeking Cubans by leftist admirers of Castro.

The phrase, which means "Fatherland or death, we shall overcome," was bellowed as a political speech sign-off by the dictator for decades....

At another point in the speech to the Miami-Dade Republican Party, Romney bungled the names of prominent Cuban GOP politicians, referring to Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio as "Mario."

Romney also garnered criticism for his hard-line stance on immigration and ending the talk with the phrase "Libertad, Libertad, Libertad," a revolutionary saying made famous in the gangster movie "Scarface," which many Cubans feel plays on cultural stereotypes.

But it was the former Bay State governor's use of an infamous Fidel Castro line that sparked the most controversy.

"Hugo Chavez has tried to steal an inspiring phrase - Patria o muerte, venceremos," Romney said. "It does not belong to him. It belongs to a free Cuba."

But scholars and prominent Cubans contend the saying has always been a Communist rallying cry and that it represents the very essence of Fidel Castro's oppressive regime.

Gee--we knew he was one of them darned Taxachussets libruls, but didja know he was a pinko Commie???!!

Romney can, of course, recover from this: it's still quite early in the race, and Romney doesn't need to get Florida to win the GOP primary. Still, it will be amusing to watch him try to explain this gaffe away--and it will harm his credibility even further as a politico trying to be all things to all people.

Not a good step for a guy trying desperately to catch up with even a faltering McCain, much less a surging Giuliani for the quixotic 2008 Republican effort.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The dump that may finally put a stake through Gonzales' heart

It's a 2,000 page document dump.

There will be armies of bloggers and jouranlists scouring away at this--and if it's anything like the previous dumps, there will be gemstones of corruption galore. I have no doubt that it will sink mister "torture/habeas corpus/warrantless wiretaps/Mr. Cronyism" Gonzales.

The only question at this point is whether Miers and/or Rove go down with him.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Entire "Surge Is Working/Not Working" Debate is Bullshit

It is tiresome to watch Democrats and Progressives make the same mistakes time and time again when talking about the colossal nightmare that is our involvement in Iraq.  Even many smart folks I highly respect in the liberal blogosphere continue to make the same rhetorical mistakes based on the same false assumptions over and over again.  And again and again, I find myself screaming at my computer--wondering when people are going to finally start looking at the situation in Iraq as it actually is, instead of how Republican framing is telling us to see it.

The latest example of the farce that is our debate on Iraq is the "The Surge Is Working/No It Isn't" argument of the last week.  In case you missed it, the Kuwait News Agency (whatever that is) reported last week that U.S. troop deaths were down by 60%.  The Kuwait News Agency gave that story directly and exclusively to rightwing hack Matt Drudge; from there it has become the GOP talking point du jour, appearing everywhere from The Economist to a wide variety of stupid right wing blogs.  They are arguing, in other words, that the surge is working because U.S. deaths in Iraq are supposedly down--and that Democrats should get in line behind the brilliant Commander-in-Chief.

And what, pray tell, has been the Democratic and Progressive response?  That the surge isn't working, because U.S. troop deaths aren't really down, and that Drudge and the Kuwait News Agency are lying.  And, as usual, the truth is on our side, while the lies are on theirs.  The Drudge/Kuwait News lies are nicely debunked by Will Bunch at Attytood, and even by Kossacks quaoar and R o o k: the Kuwait News Agency is misrepresenting data by only taking a segment of U.S. troop deaths, and claiming it's talking about the whole country.

The problem is that this response--while necessary--is absolutely stupid, and sets the debate squarely on terms favorable to the GOP.  We do need, of course, to debunk lies where we see them--but to stop there and assume that we have therefore won the debate is the height of folly.  By accepting the GOP's framing on this issue, we have already lost the debate about the surge (new Out-of-Iraq opinion polls notwithstanding)--regardless of which lies we may or may not debunk.  The entire debate on the subject is bullshit.  That's a bold statement, but it's easy to prove.

The entire debate is bullshit because the success or failure of any "surge" or "escalation" of U.S. forces in Iraq does NOT hinge on the increase or decrease of U.S. deaths in Iraq.  It would seem that all sides--Progressive, Democrat, Republican, and Chiliastic Authoritarian Nutcase--have forgotten the very first reason that we ostensibly still have troops in Iraq in the first place: to stabilize Iraq as a sovereign, democratic nation and to get Iraqis to stop killing one another.  That is, after all, the reason proffered by weak-kneed Democrats and lying Republicans for the continued presence of U.S. troops.

It is a circular and deeply stupid argument to say that the presence of peacekeeping forces in an area is succeeding because fewer peacekeeping forces are being killed.  Think about that one for a second.  But it is even more stupid to validate that circular argument by saying that it's wrong because peacekeeping forces are in fact being killed.  In this context, both sides have completely missed the point and forgotten what the original objective was in the first place.

In case the point still isn't clear, let's use the visual example of the Pottery Barn Rule.  Let's say I deliberately break a jar full of scorpions.  Then I call my friends to help me put the jar back together.  My friends and I start getting stungs incessantly by the scorpions.  My friends get pissed with me for breaking the jar in the first place, and the scorpion stings are frankly starting to swell and cause respiratory failure.  So I call in more friends to help out--much to the chagrin of the friends I already have, who say I am abusing my friendships.  Later, because we have more hands to push scorpions away, the average number of stings per minute starts to decline.  I proclaim victory--while my friends deny it, because they say we're really getting stung at the same rate as before.  Meanwhile, every single goddamn person in the room forgot our objective: to put the damn jar back together!

And let me tell you, the jar is still very broken.  Iraqi civilians are still dying in droves in an unabated civil war.  Just look at the news: Baghdad attacks kill 11 just today, with a massive chlorine gas attack yesterday.  It's not working, and it's not getting fixed.

But perhaps worst of all, Democrats are setting themselves up for failure by conceding that a low to nonexistent number of U.S. troop deaths in Iraq would constitute success.  On these terms, Bush could maintain permanent bases in Iraq with no troop deaths--and Dems would be forced into silence.  Bush could theoretically, if we had the manpower, send 100,000 more troops into Iraq like Shinseki originally wanted--and violence against U.S. troops would doubtless decrease substantially--again forcing Dems into submission, since success has been redefined away from a stable Iraqi society into fewer U.S. troop deaths.  Meanwhile, Iraq as a nation would still be as far from self-sustaining and stable as ever before.


The only way we as a party and as a nation can have strayed so obviously and so fundamentally in our debate about this issue is by completely misreading the purpose of our presence in Iraq: most people--even in the progressive blogosphere--still act like we're waging a war, when we're actually engaged in maintaining an occupation.  We may be occupying a country in civil war, but it's still an occupation.

I have made this point again and again in posts such as It's Not Defeat, Dammit! and How Can You Surrender if There Was Never a War?, and will not belabor the details here.

In this context, we are using the language of war to describe success or victory.  We are talking about body counts; number of U.S. troops dead; number of insurgents dead; territory seized; incursions made.  All in the service of nothing--because the objective isn't to kill insurgents or take territory, but to create a stable and functioning country out of Iraq.

And on that count, we are failing miserably--no matter how many or how few brave U.S. soldiers lose their lives pointlessly in the unforgiving sands of Iraq.

It's time, at long last, to actually remember that when we debate the effectiveness of the "surge"/"escalation".  That we remember the ostensible reasons for our troops' being in harm's way in the first place.  And that we not fall into right-wing rhetorical traps again.  And again.  And again.

Because it's bullshit.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Straight Talk McCain?

The latest from the bumbling McCain campaign--covered by the Carpetbagger report and by BarbinMD at Daily Kos--shows just how much trouble McCain is in. Here's what happened at a Q&A with reporters:

Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. [Speaking to Press Secretary Brian Jones], would you find out what my position is on contraception — I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”

Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me [Sen. Tom Coburn’s] thing, ask [senior adviser John Weaver] to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”

There are only two options here:
1) McCain is either too senile to respond quickly and too aged and out-of-touch to have given these issues serious thought or to have learned about them; or
2) he's absolutely petrified at what the religious right will do to him if he doesn't answer just how they want, right in lockstep with Dobson.

Either way, it sure as heck isn't "Straight Talk." Politically, McCain is a man lost at sea, without a flag to put on his mast, drifting whichever way the wind blows--and with increasingly out-of-date maps.

If Dems are looking ahead to the general election, I'd suggest we target Giuliani, Romney, and Fred Thompson. McCain's through.


Friday, March 16, 2007

CORRECTED Kyle Sampson didn't resign--he was REASSIGNED by Gonzales

N.B. In the original diary, I claimed that Rove had to do with Sampson's reassignment. I have NO idea where I got that idea. He may well have been, but the article didn't actually say that. I read the article, and for some reason gleaned Karl Rove's involvement from it. That is apparently a figment of my's all Gonzales. My apologies--the point, however, remains the same...

These people just don't get it: even as reports arrive that Gonzales is about to be fired, and that it may take place in spite of Bush's stubborn loyalty to his lackey, and Tony Snow is now backtracking on the idea that Harriet Miers originally suggested the idea of firing the attorneys, claiming that ""At this juncture, people have hazy memories" (!), these Administration criminals still don't understand the severity of the scandal they have gotten themselves into.

Karl Rove et al. just believe that this scandal will just blow over, and that not even the heads of the little guys have to roll.

Don't believe me? Well, check out this report from Think Progress: Gonzales Gave Kyle Sampson New Justice Dept. Office After His Supposed ‘Resignation’.

That is, after a very public "resignation", Karl Rove Gonzales simply reassigned his criminal little lackey into a different position in a different office of the Justice Department--and figured he would get away with it. As Think Progress reports:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales planned to install his former aide Kyle Sampson as a lawyer in the Justice Department’s environment division even after Sampson’s “resignation,” NPR reported today.

Media outlets have reported this week that Sampson, Gonzales’ ex-chief of staff, resigned over the U.S. Attorney scandal on Monday. But as ThinkProgress noted, Gonzales on Tuesday made vague remarks during his press conference indicating that Sampson was still on the department payroll. “His transition — as a technical matter, he is at the Department as he transitions out and looks for another employment."

To paraphrase Jon Stewart, Karl Rove Alberto Gonzales must have enormous balls. Maybe it was his ability to escape the Valerie Plame business unscathed. Maybe it was the fact that he remained in his position in the WH after his dismal failure in orchestrating the 2006 elections. Maybe it was his ability to get away with all the rest of his dirty tricks during his career. Perhaps he believes that there really is no such thing as accountability. Regardless of the reason, however, Karl Rove apparently feels that not only will Gonzales' head not roll for this horrific abuse of government power, and not only will his or Harriet Miers' heads not roll for it--not even the people whose heads have already rolled for it need necessarily be off the Justice Department payroll. Gonzales just figured he would roll Sampson's head a short distance down the hall wihtout even knocking over any bowling pins...

Apparently, however, Alberto Gonzales has recently been feeling a little too much heat to be entirely comfortable wih that--but even he tried to hedge his bets.

In fact, Gonzales “started to set up a new office for Sampson” in the Justice Department, and Sampson only resigned on Tuesday when “the scandal surrounding eight fired U.S. Attorneys continued to grow.” A Justice official told NPR that “there were discussions about whether or not he would be detailed elsewhere as he was transitioning out and ultimately it was decided not to go that direction.”

So here's what we're looking at: as this business started to spiral out of Administration control, Karl Rove Gonzales was initially still so insouciant that he figured he could just reassign Sampson and get away with.

At his press conference, Gonzales indicated that Sampson was still on the payroll--even though he understood how totally unacceptable that was--hoping apparently to hedge his bets in case he didn't actually have to fire Sampson.

Finally, only today did an unnamed Justice Department official state that they just now figured that keeping Sampson on might not be such a good idea after all, given the depth of inquiry this matter has been receiving. That's not just cojones grandes: that's cojones the size of the world's biggest ball of twine.

These people will literally try to get away with ANYTHING, and they have absolutely NO concept of accountability. Like a small child whose parents never say "no" and stick to it, they believe that nothing can touch them or ever will.

And what's most infuriating is that the American Public actually pays Rove's and Sampson's salaries.

Well, it's time we said "no" and meant it. It's time these people finally learn the meaning of accountability. And time we took some air out of their overinflated testicles. And it's time some heads rolled--permanently and off the taxpayer payroll--into prison if possible, and into the even more morally deficient dens of K-Street iniquity in case convictions cannot be obtained.

Enough is enough--because they don't even pretend to act like they get it.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rahm Emanuel Tells Dems to Stay Off Colbert; Silent on Fox Debate (no joke)

If this doesn't prove the idiocy of DLC Democrats like Rahm Emanuel, nothing will: Emanuel is telling Dems to stay off of the Colbert Report.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the Democratic Caucus chairman, has told new Democratic members of Congress to steer clear of Stephen Colbert, or at least his satirical Comedy Central program, “The Colbert Report.”

“He said don’t do it ... it’s a risk and it’s probably safer not to do it,” said Rep. Steve Cohen. But the freshman lawmaker from Tennessee taped a segment that last week was featured in the 32nd installment of the “Better Know a District” series. Colbert asked Cohen whether he was a black woman. He isn’t.

And what career-ending, risky offenses is Emanuel referencing?

Eyes (but thankfully, not heads) roll in Emanuel’s office when other freshmen stumble, such as the time Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) got into a debate about the merits of throwing kittens into a wood-chipper, or when Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) explained that he is not his predecessor, convicted felon Bob Ney (R).

Yes, moves like this could seriously jeopardize Democratic majorities! The voters really care about what misstatements candidates might make on one of the most popular comedy shows on television. I bow before the political astuteness of Mr. Emanuel. May I be graced with 1/10th his wisdom and copious political acumen.

And what other bits of advice does Mr. Emanuel have for Democrats?

One freshman who has been on the receiving end of Emanuel’s “tough love” is Rep. Steve Kagen (Wis.), who boasted to a group of anti-war activists that he had dressed down President Bush’s top political adviser, Karl Rove, during a White House reception. The administration denied the story.

But Emanuel threw a fit. Kagen’s staff was hauled into the Democratic Caucus’s office for lessons on how to handle the media, Democratic sources said.

Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.) said, “It took [Emanuel] three weeks to come down off of the ceiling” after she refused to accept the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) assistance in her bid to win reelection in 2008.
Boyda said Emanuel would “worry until November 4, 2008, but he says it in a very caring, grandmotherly way.”

So let's see here. Emanuel has advised Dems to
1) not appear on Colbert lest they, too, receive the mojo of the Colbert Effect;
2) not dress down Karl Rove--or even dare to pretend to dress down Karl Rove (goodness knows, even if you don't have a spine, don't even appear to act like you had a spine);
3) not refuse the spineless "assistance" of campaign consultants like Bob Shrum.

I swear to the god of your choice--Emanuel must be the biggest concern troll in the Democratic Party at this point. He spends so much time telling Democrats what not to do--for their own sake, of course--that it would be nice to see him tell Democrats what to actually stand up and do for a change.

Actually, I don't want to see what Emanuel tells Democrats to do: according to Matt Stoller, Emanuel is apparently busy as a bee using his power to "train" our congresspeople in the mystical DLC arts:

From what I understand from talking to a few progressives on the Hill, the freshmen in Congress are being extensively 'trained' by Rahm Emanuel (news, bio, voting record)'s DLC band of consultants and pollsters, which is one reason they've been silent. Carol Shea-Porter is an exception, and notice how she was shut out of the DCCC's front line program. Also notice how our only real specific policy concern to protect our own ability to organize - net neutrality - just isn't really on the legislative radar right now (though this could change).

But what is most galling about Emanuel's advice to stay off of Colbert? His absolute silence about the Nevada Fox Noise debate. Seriously--do a search on Google for any keywords related to Emanuel, Fox, Fox News, Nevada or Debate: not a word. Nada. Zilch. It's a fairly good guess, though, that like most of his DLC pals, he fully supported Dems appearing on a program whose sole intent is their humiliation and defeat.

Honestly--How bizarro does your world have to be, and what kind of fantasy bubble must you be living in, for your advice as a leading Democrat to the Democratic faithful is go on Fox, but stay off of Colbert? What kind of total short-sighted idiocy is that?

I don't know, but I want no piece of it. And I hope with fervor that our elected Dems want no piece of it, either.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Ashcroft/Gonzales Lesson: Cronies are Always Worse than Ideologues

It seems like just yesterday that John Ashcroft was every progressive's worst nightmare: a Christian conservative fundamentalist, authoritarian, crackpot Attorney General with a megalomania complex, no respect for taxpayer dollars, and a moonlighting interest in jingoistic singing and songwriting so bad that it would make William Hung blush.

How naive we were. As bad as John Ashcroft was, there can be no doubt that Ashcroft's justice department was a veritable bastion of honesty and upright government compared to the travesty that is the department under the tenure of Mr. "soon-to-be-spending-the-rest-of-his-short-assed-term-under-agonizing-impeachment-threats-or-resignation-demands" Gonzales here.

Indeed, the enormity of Gonzales' transgressions against basic human decency and the principle of impartiality that is the foundation of our entire legal system is so overwhelming that mere words cannot do it justice. Such was the chutzpah of this weasel of a man in so obviously subverting the entire purpose of having a "justice department" that the entire politicization scheme is is becoming unraveled at a record pace. Hell, it's so blatantly transparent that they can't even keep telling the same lie from one day to the next.

What's frightening about all this, however, is that we can surmise fairly confidently that this would never have happened under Ashcroft's tenure. As evil and sick as Ashcroft's ideology may have been and continues to be, one gets the sense that he actually cares about America. That he would not have tolerated or condoned even half of this ugly business. Even Ashcroft's biggest detractors would, I am sure, admit that the man undoubtedly cares about the concept of "justice"; that he believes in the ideal of a just America; and that, in his own fucked up way, he actually has the best interests of America rather than just the Republican Party at heart. One gets the impression that, while Ashcroft may have been doing the wrong things and pursuing the wrong policies, that he at least tried to be competent, and was at least vaguely interested in the notion of what we might broadly call "justice"--even if he figured it didn't apply to terrorism suspects at Guantanamo.

But Gonzales? The creep was Bush's personal lawyer. And so far as anyone can tell, he really hasn't been interested in anything more than doing his client's/boss' bidding--just like Bush's other personal lawyer, the appalling Harriet Miers, who has also been implicated in the scandal. And do we really need to mention Karl "Turdblossom" Rove? These people aren't civil servants; they're just cronies of no value to anyone but the petty masters they serve.

You see, ideology is really beside the point here. Reasonable people can disagree about matters of public policy. Reasonable people can disagree about the balance between freedom and national security. Reasonable people can even disagree about whether Guantanamo detainees are actual prisoners or war, or deserve their own classification. Those disagreements can be strong; they can be virulent; they can be passionate--but they all rely on the common assumption that the arguing parties care even in theory about the health of the United States of America.

But these people--people like Rove, like Gonzales and like Miers--these people do not give a damn about justice or even about what's good for America. They really don't. And they never have. So when orders come straight from the top to turn the entire justice department into one big baseball bat with which to whack the Democratic Party, they just go right along with it with an obedience that would make even the most hardheaded right-wing nutcase cringe with shame. Because they're cronies who don't give a shit about their country, electing to serve their momentary patrons above all else. And what's most insidious about them is how much less dangerous they seem at first glance than the ideologues we tend to fear. They are, if anything, more dangerous to America and all it represents.

And this isn't just about Gonzales: it's about every crony that Bush and Cheney have nominated to positions of influence and power.

It goes for Roberts--an administration lawyer who seems so much more reasonable than does Alito or Luttig--but votes just as unreasonably and is, I imagine, even less likely to "grow" in office than is Alito.

It goes for Miers, a Sith of a woman whom Dubya attempted to install on the court with a wink and a nod to his base. Fortunately for the rest of us, his base was too stupid to realize what it would mean for Bush to appoint a crony to the Supreme Court--but Alito will be far more independent and likelier to vote our way than ever Miers would have been. Hell, I'd take the likes of Michael Luttig of Harriet Miers any day.

It goes for Brownie--a seemingly innocuous man who, when word came from Karl Rove to screw over a female Democratic governor by letting an entire American city drown, obeyed his masters like a sheepdog and said nothing--until that is, they sold him down the river as the fall guy. As evil as an ideologue like Grover Norquist is, I can almost guarantee you that he wouldn't have failed so spectacularly in allowing New Orleans to drown--no matter how badly he may wish to drown the federal government.

It goes for "Scooter" Libby--a seemingly serene and gentle man who is so indebted to his PNAC patrons that he is apparently willing to go to prison to protect them by outing a nuclear proliferations covert agent and then lying about it. I'd frankly rather deal with Ollie North--at least I know where he's coming from, and he can't stab me in the back.


The upshot is this: when evil bastards give you a choice between accepting the nomination of a scary-looking ideologue, or a moderate-looking crony, the choice is clear: pick the ideologue every time. Because quite frankly, there's nothing scarier than cronies like Gonzales and Brownie making you pine for the days of ideologues like Ashcroft.

Impeach the cronies. Then (if politically feasible) impeach their bosses. Keep a close watch on the ideologues. And then remove them ALL from power ASAP. But for the love of our country, start with the cronies--because at least the ideologues care bad enough about something besides their masters to try to do the jobs they were appointed for.

Cross-posted at MLW and at There Is No Blog

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Simple Proposal

Corruption in government--it's such an old and time-honored partnership that the very phrase government corruption has become a well-worn cliche. As Americans, we've come to expect a certain level of corruption when it comes to public officials in Washington.

This Republican Administration, however, has carried the level of brazen corruption to such jaw-dropping, dizzying heights--and the price of that corruption has become so high in terms of wasted treasure and squandered lives--that something structural really has to be done about it at this point.

Obviously, we can talk until we're blue in the face about campaign finance reform, and eliminating the money game from electoral politics. That's an enormous challenge, and one fraught with constitutional difficulties.

But when it comes to the fired attorneys case and the Walter Reed privatization case, the corruption is far more blatant. Usually, you see, corruption takes a little bit of work: special interest "X" gives you money for your campaign; you return the favor on the sly by giving handouts to special interest "X"; special interest "X" takes you on special junkets to keep your loyalty.

These assholes, on the other hand, don't even think they need to stoop to such effort. The corruption doesn't even happen in exchange for campaign contributions; it's a direct connection from policies of mass bloodshed to increased profits in their overly bloated personal bank accounts. The Republicans in this administration--from Cheney to Rumsfeld to everyone else--are content to own direct stock in companies that have direct interest in killing Americans, killing foreigners overseas, and letting our wounded veterans rot in substandard medical facilities. They literally make a DIRECT PROFIT from death and destruction, while they make decisions to lie the American people into creating even more death and destruction.

It's time to put an end to this. At least if they're going to be corrupt, force them to be corrupt in the form of kickbacks and graft. The taking of direct profits from the use of death-making institutions by those in control of the weapons of death is a moral outrage that screams out for immediate attention and eternal censure.

My proposal, therefore, is simple: DISALLOW ANY FEDERALLY ELECTED OR APPOINTED OFFICIAL FROM OWNING ANY INTEREST OR STAKE IN COMPANIES PROVIDING DEFENSE CONTRACTING OR MILITARY SUPPORT SERVICES TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. No exceptions. I would like, if I thought it constitutionally viable, to disbar any board members or high-level officials from a military contractor or support service from giving campaign contributions--but I don't think that would be possible.

But it's the very least we can do to try to stop in its tracks a military-industrial complex that is openly, brazenly bleeding us dry in more ways than we can count. It's time to end the madness. It's time that those in control of the dogs of war at least had to take an intermediary step if they want to be corrupt enough to unleash those dogs of war in their own economic self-interest. It's time to unhitch the profit caboose from the warmongering NeoCon train.

And in the wake of the upcoming Cerberus/Walter Reed scandal and the Cheney/Halliburton scandal, there's no time like the present.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Scooter's Fate Ties GOP to NeoCons' Sinking Ship

In the wake of Scooter Libby's conviction for lying and obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame case, most of the focus has been correctly centered on 1) whether the prospect of heavy prison time will encourage Libby to spill the beans on Cheney; 2) whether Bush will attempt to cut short any such speculation, or the threat of a lengthy sentence, by pardoning Libby; and 3) how much damage the scandal has caused and will cause to the GOP brand especially regarding public trust in the GOP with respect to national security issues.

I argue, however, that there is an even bigger underlying story here that is being severely underestimated--and it has to do with Libby's reasons for accepting the role of fall guy in the first place.

Libby, you see, is in a singular position of power over the Republican Party right now. He knows good and well that the information he has about the shenanigans that took place in the White House and the Office of the Vice-President could very well bring down the entire Administration if they were to become public. If Libby spilled the beans about it, it would destroy the GOP for the next half-decade at least. True, the GOP would attempt to vilify him as a known liar trying to save his own behind--but the support the GOP has given Libby until now (with everyone from Krauthammer to DeLay encouraging Libby's pardon) would make that difficult.

Where this gets interesting, though, is in figuring out Libby's motivations for accepting the role of fall guy in the first place. It takes more than a simple sense of duty or loyalty to one's employers to accept the possibility of spending the rest of one's life in federal prison: it takes a commitment to ideology, and a depth of feeling about the issue that can only derive from the deepest convictions. And while cynics might argue that he simply expects to be saved by a presidential pardon, I wouldn't trust Bush to do anything that my life and liberty depended on.

To understand Libby's possible motivations, we have to look at his record of public service. For that, a concise summary can be found at Wikipedia's entry on Scooter Libby:

After working as a lawyer in Philadelphia, Libby "accepted a job offer from his old Yale political science professor, Paul Wolfowitz, and went to work for Wolfowitz at the State Department, from 1981 to 1985," as a member of the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff. From 1982 to 1985, according to his official U.S. State Department biography, Libby served as director of special projects in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Although in 1985 "he left the government to enter private legal practice.... By 1989 he was working again for Wolfowitz, this time at the Pentagon, as principal deputy under-secretary of defense for strategy and resources....For his government service [in 1993] Libby was awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Award and the Department of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award. He also received the Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Award for Public Service [1985]." During the George H. W. Bush administration, Libby was also confirmed by the U.S. Senate as deputy under secretary of defense for policy. According to Curtiss, "When the Democrats took over in 1992, Libby crossed the Potomac to serve as legal adviser for the House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China." Libby co-authored the draft of the "Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994-99 fiscal years" (dated February 18, 1992) with Wolfowitz for then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney.

In 1995, as recounted by Curtiss, Libby "became managing partner at the Washington office of the Dechert, Price and Rhoads law firm, where he worked until 2001, when Vice President Cheney named him chief of staff and national security adviser."

According to Stephen Smith, in the previously-cited CBS News report of October 28, 2005, "Along with Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Wolfowitz, Libby became part of a network of neo-conservatives who many know as the 'Vulcans' – Mr. Bush's core national security team." In 1997 Libby became a founding member of the Project for the New American Century, and, while he was still a partner at Dechert Price, and Rhoads, he joined Wolfowitz, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, and others in writing its 2000 report entitled, "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century".

After becoming Vice President Cheney's chief of staff in 2001, Libby was reportedly nicknamed "Germ Boy" at the White House, for insisting on universal smallpox vaccination. His "constant presence behind the scenes in the Bush administration" reportedly also led to his nickname "Dick Cheney's Dick Cheney": "'He is to the vice president what the vice president is to the president,' said Mary Matalin, who worked with Libby as an adviser to Cheney during Bush's first term....Speaking before the indictments, she described Libby as a deep thinker and problem-solver who gives 'discreet advice.'

Libby was also active in the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee of the Pentagon when it was chaired by Richard Perle during the early years of the George W. Bush administration (2001-2003). emphasis added

Let's summarize this for a second: Libby came into public service through Paul Wolfowitz; went to the private sector before coming back into the government fold again for Wolfowitz; served in the defense department for George H. W. Bush during the first Gulf War; dropped out of Republican politics during the entirety of the Clinton years, serving as a legal advisor encouraging military buildup against China; and then comes back on board to serve under Cheney. He is a founding Vulcan and PNAC signatory.

This is not the picture of a Republican operative; this is the picture of a die-hard NeoCon aggressive foreign policy operative. His biography paints a picture of a man who only gets interested in public policy when it comes in the service of using America's military in an aggressive stance, either to annoy China or to steal oil resources in the Middle East. He is deep in with Wolfowitz; with Doug Feith; with Dick Cheney; and with the rest of his PNAC brethren. He doesn't, on the other hand, appear to care a great deal about tax cuts, abortion, or any other major piece of the Republican platform that doesn't involve dropping bombs on somebody somewhere.

And this is the man who holds the entire Republican Party by the balls.

What makes this singularly interesting is that with public approval of the Occupation of Iraq reaching new record lows almost every week, and with the PNAC agenda having been shown to be as pragmatically awful as it is morally repugnant, the only way for the Republican Party to salvage its image is by throwing the NeoCons overboard and trying to get back to some semblance of an actually conservative foreign policy. There are persistent rumors of a rift between Bush and Cheney himself, and prominent Republicans like Chuck Hagel are openly making their displeasure known with NeoCon foreign policy. And you can bet that the GOP will, toward the end of Bush's term, stick the knife in his back and declare him a liberal Wilsonian at heart, and not a "real" conservative--in fact, that process has already begun.

Scooter Libby, however, throws a monkey wrench into these workings. He is the walking, ticking time bomb that can destroy the GOP--and he knows it. And if I read Libby's character and history correctly, I don't think he'll submit to spending much of the rest of his life in prison to protect a party that has thrown him, his friends, and the ideology he has spent his life and career pursuing overboard.

On the contrary--Scooter's one single biggest bargaining chip is the threat that if the GOP doesn't toe the NeoCon line (or if Bush doesn't pardon him--and Bush hasn't made even a hint that he'll do that), he'll sing like a canary.

If I were a Republican operative, I would be more than a little bit nervous about my party's predicament right now...

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Reminder to Harry Reid: Joe Lieberman is NOT a Democrat

I cannot believe that circumstances have forced me to write this diary in the middle of my crazy work schedule (more on which, and why i've been absent for a while, in a diary later this week--I promise!), but here goes...

Apparently, Senator Reid has seen fit to give the Democratic weekly radio address to Joe Lieberman.  I didn't believe it when Markos posted it on the FP at DailyKos.  I still can't believe it as I type this.

Apparently, a little history lesson is in order for our Democratic Leadership.  Let me say it loud and clear.

Joe Lieberman is NOT a Democrat.  Joe Lieberman caucuses with Democrats.  Joe's position toward the party is what biologists call parasitic symbiosis: he attaches remora-like onto the Dems because we need him (temporarily), doing longterm damage to the host.  In this specific case, he is most like this revolting creature: a worm that slowly eats at the tongue of its host fish, eventually replacing the fish's tongue with itself.

Joe Lieberman, you see, stopped being a Democrat when he refused to obey the dictates of the Democratic primary.  He is now officially a "CfL", which best as I can tell translates roughly to either "chloroform" or "kerfuffle."  Not that he can really claim a home there, either, since the takeover of his joke of a party by those who are officially on the Democratic Anti-Parasite platform.

Having Joe Lieberman give the Democratic address is to the nation is, well, like having parasite replace your tongue and then proceed to speak for you, as if it gave a damn either about you or about anything else in the big wide political sea except itself.  You stand to gain absolutely nothing by doing it--and the parasite, despite its threats, wouldn't ever actually dare to try its luck in the shark-infested waters of the Republican opposition.  Because let's be honest: nobody likes a parasite--unless, of course, they have serious self-esteem issues.  Perhaps our leadership needs a group hug.

But since we don't have time for group hugs or lengthy therapy sessions in our supposedly "Mommy Party", allow me to make it clear in advance.

Joe Lieberman is not a Democrat.  Let me repeat that.  Joe Lieberman is not a Democrat.

Think I'm being unfair?  Think I'm singling Joe out for his position on Iraq?  Hardly.

To the best of my knowledge and every google search I could come up with, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has never given the Democratic weekly address.  That doesn't surprise me, of course.  You know why?  Because Bernie Sanders, while a progressive champion, isn't officially a Democrat!  He's a Socialist--and I'm sure our very careful "Leadership" has seen to it never to have a "Socialist" be the tongue of the Democratic Party.  So why is Mr. Chloroform okay?  What's the difference? 

Perhaps we should consider allowing Mr. Nader to give the next address--after all, he's just as much a Democrat as Joe is--and has sucked just about as much life out of the party in the process.

Meanwhile, last I checked, the GOP has never allowed anyone from the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party or the Natural Law Party to give their national radio address.  Their leadership obviously has either 1) superior brains, 2) superior common sense, or 3) superior moral fiber than our leadership, which will apparently sell itself out to parasitic vermin faster than a five-dollar whore.  Since #3 is not an option (it's impossible to divide by zero, after all), it must be a failure of common sense.

So perhaps those of us with a little more common sense--those of us who would like to speak with our own tongues, for a change--might want to beat a little bit of that common sense into Senator Reid.

His contact info is below.  Be polite, but be firm: you can't bestow moral or intellectual clarity on anyone if you sound like a firebreathing lunatic.  But do be candid.  Because it really comes down to one simple question: are you pro-Parasite, or anti-Parasite?

Email form here:

Carson City

600 East William Street, #302

Carson City, NV 89701

Phone: 775-882-7343 / Fax: 775-883-1980

Las Vegas

Lloyd D. George Building

333 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Suite 8016

Las Vegas, NV 89101

Phone: 702-388-5020 / Fax: 702-388-5030


Bruce R. Thompson Courthouse and Federal Building

400 South Virginia Street, Suite 902

Reno, NV 89501

Phone: 775-686-5750 / Fax: 775-686-5757

Rural Nevada Outreach Contact

Susan Lisagor

Phone: 775-686-5750 / Fax: 775-686-5757


528 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Phone: 202-224-3542 / Fax: 202-224-7327

Toll Free for Nevadans: 1-866-SEN-REID (736-7343) -Restricted to calls originating from area codes 775 and 702

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