Saturday, March 31, 2007



I lived in Holland for 4 years, 4 wonderful, glorious years. John Amato over at Crooks and Liars just told me he had a video from a Dutch TV show he thought I'd like. He was right-- and I think you'll like it too. The audience are all Dutch but you can tell from the applause that they totally get it-- maybe more than a lot of Americans.

Now O'Reilly and Snoop Dogg have some history. In fact, other than MC Rove, O'Reilly never met a rapper he could stomach. They're not fans of his either.

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Ahhh... can this clip be submitted as evidence in an impeachment hearing?

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I guess it's better that he bring whichever... woman he's married to at the moment to the cabinet meetings than any of his Mafia friends-- yes, real Mafia; we'd be trading in Bush's bad enough Mormon Mafia for the actual Cosa Nostra. (I guess even worse would be his Opus Dei pals.) But, come on, is this what the Republicans want to thrust on America next? Do they hate the country that much?

Actually, the answer to that is "no." Even Republicans are tearing out their hair at Giuliani's latest unmasking as an imbecile. Yes, all you Republicans who think he was invented on 9/11, you're getting to know the real Rudy Giuliani now. And there's more to the real Rudy than just fighting off the mythical Arab armies that stormed NYC on 9/11. In fact there's even more than appointing liberal judges, supporting gun control, gays and  women's choice; even more than the President of the United States of America going into conferences with world leaders who have been watching little films like this. Look, if habitual cross-dressing makes you happy, that is not a problem for me. It's not my cup of tea but it doesn't make you less a nice person. But I just keep wondering what the low-info Republican primary voters in states like South Carolina and Iowa are going to do when they realize the guy they think they support is a drag queen. Just asking.

Anyway, there is more to Rudy than just all that stuff. As radical right maniac Ramesh Ponnuru-- oh, gee, I hope he keeps away from George Allen-- wrote this week, Giuliani's subterfuge of posing as a supply-side tax cutter is as convincing as his portrayal of Marilyn Monroe.


Rudy is now promising not to make any of his wives Cabinet members. And his ex-partner, the Mafia-connected Bernie Kerik-- who proved to be even too corrupt for the Bush Regime-- will probably wind up in prison aferall. Kerik, one of Giuliani's closest associates-- who he personally recommended to Doofus-in-Chief as Secretary of Homeland Security-- went from being Giuliani's campaign security adviser, corrections chief, police commissioner and eventual partner in Giuliani-Kerik, a security arm of Giuliani Partners, which Giuliani established to cash in on his notoriety after 9/11. Supposedly, according to today's Washington Post Giuliani isn't going to be indicted along with Kerik.

About The Art: I'm not certain who Rudy's stylist or makeup artist was but the picture of him in drag is not photoshopped or changed in any way. Nor is the picture of him with his Mafia connection Bernard Kerik. The one up top, however... well all we know about that is that comes from Jesus' General.

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Today we welcome Jerry McNerney-- now Congressman Jerry McNerney back to Firedoglake. It's been 8 months since we last sat down with Jerry for a chat, at a time when Inside-the-Beltway pros were scoffing at the idea that an anti-war, grassroots, alternative energy expert with no support from the Party Establishment could take on a powerful and entrenched incumbent-- in a Republican district. Join us over at FDL on Saturday at 1PM Pacific Time and find out what's happened with Citizen McNerney since then.

If you know who Karl Rove is it certainly didn't surprise you to find out at this week's GSA hearings that he sits around in his White House office targeting Democrats for swiftboat campaigns. Nor should it have surprised you to find out that he illegally conspires with other Bush Regime functionaries inside the government to use taxpayer dollars to harm targeted Democrats and bolster unpopular Republican incumbents. And it probably came as no surprise to you that high on Rove's "kill" list is newly elected California congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11). He was #3 on the hit list Rove gave to the GSA in the hope that they would help him create an environment to make voters in the San Joaquin Valley disgruntled.

Their new congressman has been working very hard to make sure San Joaquin Valley voters wouldn't be. In fact, I've been very impressed by the difference in approach between a true grassroots Democrat like Jerry and some of the other freshmen who are perceived to be in for tough races. The Blue Dogs seem to think the way to win re-election is to behave and vote like a Republican. It is no coincidence that of Rove's 20 top targets, most are Blue Dogs; only 2 or 3 besides Jerry McNerney have proven themselves to be true progressives so far. Instead of going over to the Dark Side and betraying his supporters, in the vain hope of capturing GOP votes, Jerry has put his nose to the grindstone and methodically gone about making good on the campaign promises he made when he ran for office. He's been proving himself to be a hard-working, serious, constituent service-oriented representative who puts the job first and the politics... on a back burner.

He was the first congressman to author his own legislation-- The Healthy Community Water Supply Act-- and get it passed, with strong bipartisan support. Jerry was driven to seek office, not because of "politics" but to get things done. He's a national security hawk who, as an ex-military man with a son currently serving overseas, takes the safety of our nation very, very seriously. The catastrophic and dangerous approach that the Bush Regime has taken in terms of international relations is important to Jerry and he is a strong and vocal supporter of making sure the troops are properly trained and properly equipped-- and on their way home as soon as possible. The dangers America faces from fanatics is not something Bush made up, although it is something Bush screwed up-- and exacerbated. Jerry isn't a lawyer; he's an engineer. His engineer's mind is about solving problems and that's what he's been working at in Congress since he got there. His voting record is populist and progressive and his approach has been inclusive and open.

Congresswoman Hilda Solis, who I ran into at a McNerney rally last weekend, told me he's been one of the more outspoken freshmen on matters that impact the lives or ordinary people. The two of them were appointed to serve on the high profile Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. This is totally Jerry's cup of tea-- as much as any other factor that inspired him to run for Congress. It's on this committee and on the Transportation and Infrastruction Committee, on which he also sits, that he feels he can serve the interests of his constituents, dealing with local issues like the Sacramento River Delta levee system and creating desperately needed new industries based on bio-fuels, solar technology and new auto technology.

Meanwhile, when I asked the new congressman, a mathematics Ph.D., what he likes most about the gig, he was effusive. "I love the job. I love going out and meeting people and hearing about their issues and their ideas... their passions. It's one of the things I most enjoy." He's been back in the district every weekend, holding "Congressman At The Corner" sessions in Stockton, Tracy, Danville and Morgan Hill so far. These have been well-covered by the media and Jerry has built a good rapport with people who had grown used to Pombo's imperious and haughty manner. Jerry's media coverage has been excellent, showing him as engaged in the life of his district, an important factor for a freshman Democrat in a purple district.

He'll need that as the Republicans continue to pour millions of dollars into CA-11 to try to unseat him. The RNCC's swiftboat website, trying to paint him as some kind of a radical, already shows the direction they'll be heading in. The Berkeley Bubble deconstructs some of the lies the Republican swiftboaters are already hurling at Jerry.
For example, the site attacks McNerney for voting for new taxes on energy producers, for higher prices for consumers, to stifle domestic energy production, and further increase our dependence on foreign energy sources. In reality, the bill that McNerney voted for, HR 6, actually promotes energy conservation and research, development and production of alternative renewable energy sources.

Over at Daily Kos on Thursday Markos had to hold back his laughter when he analyzed the Republicans' limp efforts to smear Jerry. He breaks it down by asking the question: "But really, the GOP plan is to spam people with the charge that McNerney supports the popular speaker's popular agenda?" Good point, especially considering the polling data that shows the votes Jerry has backed-- stem cell research, cutting the interest rates on students loans, increasing the minimum wage, voting to enact the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, supporting benchmarks and a withdrawal deadline for Iraq, are all things residents in CA-11 approve of-- and all things they know Republicans do not support.

Two weeks ago at our little Blue America town hall meeting we picked 5 members of Congress to send $200 checks to in appreciation for sticking to their campaign promises. Jerry was one of them. At the same time John Kerry announced that Jerry had won his March Madness competition. Kerry wrote that "Jerry McNerney used grassroots energy to defeat Richard Pombo, a seven-term incumbent. Now delivering for his district, he's already being attacked by deep-pocketed Republicans."

Pombo isn't running again; he's now officially a lobbyist for the oil and gas interests. Instead, the Republicans are putting up a hard right lunatic, one of the most radical right kooks to have ever served in the state legislature, Dean Andal. He's far too extreme for this moderate district but he's connected to all the crooked developer interests that supported Pombo, so he'll have plenty of money at his disposal and, obviously, Karl Rove (unless he's in prison by then). Last year our community helped Jerry make history by retiring one of the most reactionary and corrupt Republicans in the House. 1,100 of us contributed $25,140.86 to his campaign in just 4 months. We should do much better in this cycle and today is a good day to start. It's the last day of the quarter on which the financial data the mass media salivates over is based. Jerry has chosen to spend 2 hours of the day with us at Firedoglake, answering whatever questions we want to throw his way.

To make it more interesting, I have a carton of beautiful Greatest Hits boxsets from one of Stockon's best known musical sons, Chris Isaak. It's a special edition with 18 songs and 18 videos on an accompanying DVD and it includes an incredible acoustic version of "Forever Blue" as a bonus. The first 25 contributions for more than the value of the CD will get thank you notes from Blue America-- along with the CD. Here's where to contribute. If you don't want the CD just add one cent to your contribution.


Yesterday's Tracy Press did an extensive piece on politics in the 11th CD and journalist John Upton went out of his way to talk about the importance of the grassroots and the netroots in Jerry's victory. He closed his story with a mention of the FDL chat.
The congressman will chat live at 1 p.m. today with supporters at the Fire Dog Lake blog. He last chatted live with supporters during his election campaign, according to his spokesman.
"It is a little bit risky because it’s uncensored," McNerney said, "(but) it was a lot of fun last time."

It was even more fun this time.

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Is there a story in the fact that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation on a fact-finding trip to the Middle East that will include Syria, a country the Bush Regime accuses of all kinds of things? The Bush Regime thinks so and their propaganda arm is out screaming that the sky is falling. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "probably really wants people to come, and have a photo opportunity, and have tea with him, and have discussions about where they're coming from. But we just think it's a really bad idea," according to Bush's current spokesperson, Dana Perino. Bad, Nancy! Bad! Why do you people need fact when you have the Bush Team to supply for whatever facts you need?

The State Department gave Pelosi's staff a pre-trip briefing and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad-- yes Bush still has an Embassy there-- is assisting. Among the congressmembers accompanying the Speaker are Congress' first Muslim member, Keith Ellison (MN), two Jewish members, Henry Waxman (CA) and Tom Lantos (CA) and a Bush rubber stamp Republican from Ohio, David Hobson. (Why do I call Hobson a Bush rubber stamp? Of the 44 votes related to Iraq between October 10, 2002 and May 25, 2005, Hobson voted the Bush line every single time. Not once did he ask himself if this knee-jerk support for Bush's policies might not be what his constituents in Springfield or in the suburbs of Columbus and Dayton might think about the escalating and catastrophic war he was blithely supporting.)

So what's the story? Probably just another story about more Bush Regime hypocrisy. Why hypocrisy? There's an all-Republican congressional delegation in Syria right now. It's led by Bush rubber stamp Frank Wolf (R-VA) and includes Bush rubber stamp Bob Aderholt (R-AL).

Tomorrow Speaker Pelosi is addressing the Israeli Knesset and she has pointed out that her stop in Syria is in line with the unanimous, bipartisan recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, recommendations that Bush has completely ignored. (He seems to have a visceral disdain for anything with the word "study" in it, a reaction that goes back to earliest childhood.) "As recommended by the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan delegation led by Speaker Pelosi intends to discuss a wide range of security issues affecting the United States and the Middle East with representatives of governments in the region, including Syria,'' is what Pelosi's office said to the press.

The right-wing press propagandists for Bush have, predictably, gone batshit crazy over the trip screaming like chimpanzees that Pelosi is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. If you want a sample, here's Tammy Bruce, one of the least intelligent of the right wing propagandists anywhere. After quoting the White House saying Speaker Pelosi's trip is "a really bad idea," a fuming and laughable Tammy went on one of her switched-on tirades:
Absolutely the most juvenile, asinine thing I've ever heard. A really bad idea?! That's the most they can come up with? The reason the president, and consequently this nation, is in such trouble is because neither the president nor the Republicans behave as though they have the moral high ground, or are even defending themselves or their policies enough to break a sweat.

How dare Pelosi give extraordinary legitimacy to a terrorist nation whose own foreign policy rests on the murder of Christian leaders in the region. And how dare the Bush Administration for not saying something as simple as just that.

And if you like reading this kind of uninformed right-wing blather, as stupid as Tammy Bruce is, few are as vitriolic and filled with pure hatred as GOP blogger Sister Toldjah. You wanna know what's in the craniums of that 28% of dead-enders who still think Bush is doing a good job? Sister Toldjah is the place to look; you'll never find someone more driven by hatred, ignorance and delusion: "Also, exactly what are Pelosi and co. planning on discussing with Assad? Maybe when Rep. Hobson leaves the meeting for a restroom break, the remaining group who are all Democrats will work to undermine the Bush administration's policies... Can we question their patriotism now?" Yes, honey, you can question whatever you like; make sure the tinfoil hat is on straight.

No wonder fewer and fewer people are paying these lunatics any attention. For the Bush Regime and their lackeys this kind of reaction is par for the course, tactics they've used before.


I don't think he heard the Blue America campaign theme song from last year but Texas Bush loyalist Matthew Dowd-- a member of the Bush inner circle for almost a decade-- has called it quits and went to the NY Times with his story. Instead of playing politics-as-usual with congressional good-will trips and catering to the narrow bigotry on the outer fringes of the GOP, Bush and Rove should be paying attention to serious and well-informed-- if self-serving-- figures like Dowd. "Dowd’s journey from true believer to critic in some ways tracks the public arc of Mr. Bush’s political fortunes... Dowd said he had become so disillusioned with the war that he had considered joining street demonstrations against it, but that his continued personal affection for the president had kept him from joining protests whose anti-Bush fervor is so central. Mr. Dowd, 45, said he hoped in part that by coming forward he would be able to get a message through to a presidential inner sanctum that he views as increasingly isolated. But, he said, he holds out no great hope."

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Yesterday CongressDaily brought up an interesting point to consider. There's a good chance that the next president of the United States is going to be someone who is will have an unexpired U.S. Senate term to fill. The last sitting senator to have been elected president was JFK in 1960. This time it would be the case with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or that crazy old Republican kook from Arizona. And some of the hometown pols pushing these guys the hardest are the ones interested in replacing them. The most optimum scenario would be Obama winning the presidency and solidly progressive Jan Schakowsky succeeding him. The nightmare scenario in Illinois would be ultra-sleazy and corrupt Rahm Emanuel getting into the Senate. There are also 3 progressive African-American congressmen who would like to follow Obama: Bobby Rush, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Danny Davis. Then there are Chicago's just re-elected Mayor Richard Daley, a potential embarrassment to the Democratic Party in terms of egregious and unbounded corruption on a scale as wide as a Tom DeLay or Jerry Lewis.

It's far more likely, though, that a Senate replacement will have to be found in New York since it's hard to fathom that Hillary won't be the next President of the United States of America. Best scenario: very progressive-- far more than Hillary-- upstate Congressman Maurice Hinchey. Other Democratic congressmembers who would like to move to the Senate include progressive Jose Serrano (from the Bronx) and two moderates, Gregory Meeks (from Queens), and Nita Lowey (from Westchester). And of course there's always Hillary's husband (from Harlem).

In the extremely unlikely event that McCain becomes president, Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano would be bound by Arizona law to name a Republican and it isn't likely she would appoint anyone but a caretaker to just ride out the remainder of McCain's term, setting up an open race for 2010. Three far right exremists, Jeff Flake, John Shadegg and Trent Franks, are all eager to get their hands on that seat as would moderate Democrat Ed Pastor. And then there's the state's wildly popular governor...

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Friday, March 30, 2007



In the last couple of days I've tried to cover the Waxman hearings on the politicization of the General Services Administration (GSA) and how Rove illegally uses the federal bureaucracy to advance a narrow partisan agenda. Yesterday I reprinted the entire letter than Waxman sent to Rove demanding truthful answers. Today this escalating story of gross political corruption made it into the Washington Post.

Waxman and the congressmen on his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were aghast at how blatantly the Bush Regime has been using the federal bureaucracy to push Republican Party electoral goals. This practice was made explicitly illegal by the Hatch Act. Keep in mind that this is not a reference to sleazy Bush Regime apologist Orrin Hatch (R-UT), but to principled Senator Carl Hatch (D-NM). The actual name of the law is officially "An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities." It was passed in 1939 to combat a perception of Democratic Party corruption, although it was proposed by a Democrat, and passed by Democrats and signed by a Democratic President. The Republicans, in the Senate, a thoroughly discredited-- but still pesky-- minority party at the time, wanted a much tougher version than the Democrats and the Democrats went along with them and let them have their way. Their addition legislates that anyone below policymaking level in the executive branch of the federal government must not only refrain from political practices that would be illegal for any citizen but must abstain from "any active part" in political campaigns. The Hatch Act was challenged, unsuccessfully twice before the Supreme Court (1947 and 1974).

With that in mind, think about Rove and his political shop in the White House sending over slide shows to government departments targeting vulnerable Democratic congressmen and asking for help in shoring up the electoral fortunes of unpopular Republican incumbents. As the Post puts it:
Six political appointees at the GSA who participated in the videoconference said [GSA Director] Doan asked at the conclusion how the agency could help GOP candidates win in the next elections, according to a letter Waxman sent to Doan.

During the hearing, Doan said at least 10 times that she does not recall asking employees to help the GOP or does not recall details about the presentation.

The matter is being investigated by the independent Office of Special Counsel.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the presentation was not out of the ordinary.

"There is regular communication from the White House to political appointees throughout the administration," he said.

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Before we get to the drug-addled radio propagandist, we have a new character, apparently another designated fall-guygal, to throw into the Purge-Gate mix, Sara Taylor. She's a top aide of Rove's and she's just been voted off the island in an attempt to save his fat ass. Facing a subpoena, she was "identified [by Sampson] in yesterday's hearing with a former top Justice Department official as seeking the resignation of a US Attorney in Arkansas." She, along with Scott Jennings, another of Rove's sleazy criminals inside the White House, were the ones who, at Rove's behest, got rid of U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins in Arkansas to place a completely incompetent political operative and Rove crony, Tim Griffin.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that 2 others from Rove's little shoppe of horrors, Peter Wehner (Bush calls his memos Wehner-grams) and Barry Jackson, although they're trying to paint them us unrelated to the Purge-Gate scandals. Just a coinkydink!

Reading the transcript of Limbaugh's show is excruciating since is just lie upon lie upon distortion upon half-truth upon lie. Let me save the rest of you the effort: "I'm at a loss to understand why it is that even some people on our side and the conservative media think throwing Gonzales away is going to stop this. Now, they'll say, 'Well, that's not what we're trying to do. We want competence. We are conservatives, and we have high values, and high standards.' This is a battle going on here. There's an election that's going to hinge on stuff like this, and everybody the administration throws overboard is a tantamount admission to people that pay scant attention to politics there's all kinds of corruption going on in there." So the hell with competence, high standards, a sense of values? Let's just win the election? LOL! What he smoking snorting?

Limbaugh, someone who hates democracy so much that he can't control himself from heaping disdain on it and on the "common folks." He must have had an extra dose of whatever he's on lately today: "USA Today's got a poll: 'Do you think something's wrong about the firing of eight US attorneys?' 72% said yes. 72% of the American people, a bunch of blithering idiots who have no idea what they're talking about, but yet they voted, so these polls matter." He's not alone The Carpetbagger Report calls some more right wing propaganda agents out on the carpet. Mark Levin "goes on to say that questioning Gonzales' fitness for office is 'throwing your own people to the liberal wolves,' 'disloyal,' and 'self-destructive.' He describes conservatives who take this scandal seriously as offering a 'pusillanimous' response." There's no end. Well... today's NY Times editorializes about the end that they see.
If Mr. Sampson was trying to fall on his sword, he had horrible aim. In testimony that got so embarrassing for the White House that the Republicans tried to cut it off, Mr. Sampson simply ended up making it clearer than ever that the eight prosecutors were fired for political reasons.

He provided more evidence, also, that the attorney general and other top Justice Department officials were dishonest in their initial statements about the firings.

Mr. Sampson flatly contradicted the attorney general's claim that he did not participate in the selection of the prosecutors to be fired and never had a conversation about "where things stood." Mr. Sampson testified that Mr. Gonzales was "aware of this process from the beginning," and that the two men regularly discussed where things stood. Mr. Sampson also confirmed that Mr. Gonzales was at the Nov. 27 meeting where the selected prosecutors’ fates were sealed...

The administration insists that purge was not about partisan politics. But Mr. Sampson’s alternative explanation was not very credible-- that the decision about which of these distinguished prosecutors should be fired was left in the hands of someone as young and inept as Mr. Sampson. If this were an aboveboard, professional process, it strains credulity that virtually no documents were produced when decisions were made, and that none of his recommendations to Mr. Gonzales were in writing.

It is no wonder that the White House is trying to stop Congress from questioning Mr. Rove, Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and other top officials in public, under oath and with a transcript. The more the administration tries to spin the prosecutor purge, the worse it looks.


Congressional Republicans have no faith in Bush as a man of his word. (LOL-- about time; join the rest of the human race.) He's asked them to go out and defend serial liar and cover-up artist Abu Gonzales and all they can remember about the last time he bothered them about defending one of his indefensible inner circle-- Donald Rumsfeld-- is that he waited 'til they had all made public spectacles of themselves and then fired Rumfeld, leaving them all looking even more clueless than usual. According to today's SFGate a former Republican aide claims GOP congressmen are responding differently this time: "Don't ask me to put whipped cream on that turd pile." Gonzales is said to be in talks with high-level officials (presumably Rove) about the most graceful-- useful?-- way of committing political hara-kiri.

Meanwhile Bush said today he has "100 percent confidence" in Gonzo, usually a sure sign someone is about to get shit-canned in this Regime. Snarlin' Arlen (R-PA) made a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association and he made it clear he'll probably urge Gonzales to resign after his April 17 testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee. "A number of Republicans, as well as all the Democrats, have called for his resignation, and I won't do that until he has a chance to testify. Attorney General Gonzales has his work cut out for him." (Giggles were heard throughout the audience.) Specter went on that he had told Gonzo last week that "you're going to have to explain why you said you weren't involved in discussions [about firing the U.S. attorneys] when the e-mails show you were at [the] meeting where the U.S. attorneys were talked about."

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Is it any wonder there was no one in the streets of NYC in 2004 to tell Rudy G, Zell Miller and all the other zany GOP conventioneers, "You're nuts"?


"The spied-upon included many groups that, agree with their views or not, engaged purely in political activity; they had no history of violence and no agenda other than a constitutional right to oppose the government. The Billionaires are a good example. The only bomb that they've been known to throw is a joke that falls flat."
--Clyde Haberman, in his NYT column today, "How to Tell a Billionaire From a Bomber"

I imagine everyone has heard by now about the massive campaign of spying the New York Police Department undertook in advance of the 2004 Republican National Convention here, as a tool for keeping the sensitive GOP-ers safe from, well, anyone who might utter an unkind word about them, or otherwise intrude on the festivities planned for the repeat coronation of their Tiny King George.

Among the citizens rousted by the NYPD, NYT metro columnist Clyde Haberman notes in his "NYC" column today, was the Bush-bashing band of satirists Billionaires for Bush, described by Wikipedia as "a culture jamming political street theater organization that satirically purports to support George W. Bush for those activities which are perceived to benefit corporations and the super-wealthy." Our favorite curmudgeon wasn't about to let this pass without comment:

March 30, 2007

How to Tell a Billionaire From a Bomber

The Billionaires, with a capital B, were delighted to hear that there are more superrich New Yorkers than they had thought.

Several Billionaires were sitting in Union Square Park the other day, and one of them remarked to us that 45 billionaires, small B, call New York home. Actually, we said, there are 50, judging from the latest Forbes magazine list.

Well, that touched off so many high-fives and shouts of "All right!" that you'd have thought the incredible had happened, like world peace or the Knicks making the playoffs.

"Ka-ching," said an exultant Andrew Boyd, also known as Phil T. Rich. Marco Ceglie, who at times calls himself Monet Oliver DePlace, had something of an "It's a Wonderful Life" moment. "Every time there's a new billionaire," he said, "a devil gets a new pitchfork."

All in all, they had to concede, these are not bad times for the rich and mighty, normally as unappreciated a minority as we have.

Speaking up for that put-upon class is a mission of the Billionaires, whose full name is Billionaires for Bush. You may have seen them in the streets, decked out in tuxes and gowns, praising Big Oil, proclaiming à la Leona Helmsley that only little people pay taxes and organizing events like Dick Cheney Is Innocent Day. In New York, they have circulated petitions demanding limousine lanes, freed "from the clutches of bicycles."

They are, as should be obvious, a band of satirists who don't think much of President Bush (or, for that matter, the never-met-an-unwelcome-developer climate of the Bloomberg City Hall).

They are also one of the many political groups that the New York Police Department spied on in advance of the Republican National Convention held here in 2004.

That the authorities have conducted covert operations in the wake of Sept. 11 is neither a surprise nor, many would say, a problem. These are dangerous times. Most New Yorkers probably accept that it would be derelict of the police not to keep tabs on potential threats, be they rampaging anarchists or — worse — terrorists. Courts have thus far agreed.

The only goal of the pre-convention surveillance was to keep the city safe, the mayor insisted this week. "We were not keeping track of political activities," he said. "We have no interest in doing that."

But as a report in The New York Times has disclosed, the spied-upon included many groups that, agree with their views or not, engaged purely in political activity; they had no history of violence and no agenda other than a constitutional right to oppose the government. The Billionaires are a good example. The only bomb that they've been known to throw is a joke that falls flat.

"Not only did we not do violence," Mr. Boyd said, "we did not profess doing violence or even pretend to profess doing violence. We see ourselves as a calming presence in demonstrations, getting out of that normal confrontational protest/police mode."

Melody Bates, a member whose nom de rire is Ivy League-Legacy, called humor one of the more effective ways to make a point. "A good joke is in essence a gift," she said, "and when you open with a gift, people are more receptive."

The question is whether City Hall and the police have struck a reasonable balance between security needs and the imperatives of free expression, or whether the authorities, in Mr. Ceglie's words, suffer from a post-9/11 case of "not knowing when to stop."

It isn't as if New York hasn't rethought other policies that were deemed absolutely essential in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks. With municipal blessing, hideous concrete barriers rose in front of one building after another across town. In recent months, most have finally been torn down — recognition that Fortress New York doesn't cut it.

Similar questions have been raised about the refusal of the National Park Service, in the name of security, to allow tourists to climb to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Such a restriction at this potent symbol of American freedom has been strongly criticized by the likes of Senator Charles E. Schumer and Representative Anthony D. Weiner, who hardly see themselves as soft-on-terror types.

When the police spy on law-abiding groups, "it's hard not to feel that it is an attempt to discourage free speech," said Elissa Jiji, a k a Meg A. Bucks.

And Mr. Boyd drew lessons from the past. "It's like that famous quote," he said. "First, they came for the billionaires, and nobody said anything. . . . "


Quote of the day: At times, if you keep your eyes above the fold, Iraq can look sort of how Holy Joe, Straight Talkin' John and Chimpy the Prez see it


“If anything happens to us, they’re the ones responsible.”
--Suaada Saadoun, a 49-year-old Sunni widow with seven children, to Kurdish and American soldiers who had stopped two Shiite men and forced them out of their car after they tried to "ethnically cleanse" Ms. Saadoun and her family out of their home in a Shiite area of western Baghdad

This would be the good news. If you don't want to hear the bad news, at least not yet, skip the next paragraph.

"The next day," Edward Wong reports in today's NYT, "Ms. Saadoun was shot dead while walking by a bakery in the local market."

What's fascinating is the way the story is presented. I don't recall seeing a newspaper layout quite like it. It's so careful that it's impossible to believe it wasn't planned to "read" this way.

If you begin by looking, as I assume most everyone does, just at the above-the-fold portion of the front page, you don't even see a headline on this story. All you see is a pair of big (three-column) photos stacked on top of each other, to the left of the one-column "lead" story (about Kyle Sampson's Senate Judiciary Committee testimony yesterday [see Howie's coverage yesterday]).

On top is the photo reproduced above, with the caption--

THE WIDOW Suaada Saadoun told Kurdish and American soldiers on Tuesday that two Shiite men had tried to evict her on false premises. Ms. Saadoun was head of one of four Sunni Arab homes in her neighborhood.

Below it is a wide-cropped version (with some onlookers off to the left) of the photo at right, with the caption:

THE ARREST The two Shiite men were stopped at a checkpoint. One of them, Abbas Radhi, right, said he and his companion had done nothing wrong, but the eviction papers they held were for another neighborhood.

And you think, my goodness, maybe there is some good news coming out of Baghdad.

Then you flip below the fold and find a third photo in the series:

THE DAY AFTER Ms. Saadoun's phone call to a nearby military base kept her family from being falsely evicted, but she was killed the next day at a market. Her granddaughters were among those in mourning.

Finally comes the head:

Iraqi Widow Saves Her Home, but Victory Is Brief

And the start of the story proper:
BAGHDAD, March 29--The two men showed up on Tuesday afternoon to evict Suaada Saadoun's family. One was carrying a shiny black pistol.

Ms. Saadoun was a Sunni Arab living in a Shiite enclave of western Baghdad. A widowed mother of seven, she and her family had been chased out once before. This time, she called American and Kurdish soldiers at a base less than a mile to the east.

The men tried to drive away, but the soldiers had blocked the street. They pulled the men out of the car.

"If anything happens to us, they're the ones responsible," said Ms. Saadoun, 49, a burly, boisterous woman in a black robe and lavender-blue head scarf.

The Americans shoved the men into a Humvee. Neighbors clapped and cheered as if their soccer team had just won a title.

The next morning, Ms. Saadoun was shot dead while walking by a bakery in the local market.

Wong explains that he met Ms. Saadoun while accompanying the Kurdish soldiers who participated in the arrest of the two Shiite men Tuesday. He seems to have taken the story personally (to his credit).

Later he reports:
After the new security plan began on Feb. 14, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a conservative Shiite, said the government would crack down on sectarian evictions and help families return to their homes, but the displacement is continuing all the same.

"The forced evictions started up again this month," said Capt. Benjamin Morales, 28, a Bronx native who commands a company of the 82nd Airborne Division that oversees a swath of western Baghdad taken over by Shiite militias last year. "In my area, that's the biggest thing that's going on."

Wong details the history of the attempted forced expulsion of Ms. Saadoun and her family, in which she had enlisted the aid of the nearby American-Iraqi military base. Captain Morales had been involved all through it.
Captain Morales heard the news about Ms. Saadoun the next day around noon. She had been shot in the market earlier that morning, just northeast of the base and within spitting distance of the same checkpoint where the two Shiite men had been stopped. The captain paced around the hallway inside his command center. His face was ashen.

"What can you do?" his first sergeant said to him. "It's their problem. This is their country, and they need to work it out among themselves. There's nothing we can do about it."

An American patrol rolled out to Ms. Saadoun's home at 2 p.m. More than a dozen women dressed in black sat wailing in the backyard, awaiting the arrival of Ms. Saadoun's body from the hospital.

"I told you, ‘Don't go out, they'll kill you,'" one daughter cried out. "I told you, my lovely mother, ‘Don't go out, they'll kill you.'"

By the next morning, everyone living in the house had fled.

I suppose Senators Lieberman and McCain will tell us that this is exactly why we have to stay in Iraq. They insist that now for the first time we are seeing grounds for hope. (Of course, as Keith Olbermann pointed out the other night, if this is the first time there are grounds for hope, what about all those other times they told us about?) In reality, aren't we really providing cover for factions in the Iraqi civil war to carry out atrocities?



I never had many right wing friends. I know a few Republicans; not many. But in business you meet some from time to time and some seem friendly. I live in L.A. and there are hardly any around. One of my favorite restaurants-- especially when I have fancy out-of-town guests-- is the Water Grill and it draws a pretty establishment-looking crowd and sometimes I get a mildly Republican vibe in there. Someone once took me to Mastro's Steakhouse and it reeked of them. It was loud and brassy and the portions were enough for a family of four. Everything was gross; I never went back.

I do have one friend who claims to be a "libertarian" but who I've worked on for years and as a result he's now a more respectable human being-- he's even stopped whoring around, getting drunk and using drugs, and he's married a lovely (and progressive) woman and they have two kids and he has totally turned against eating unhealthy food and supporting Bush and the Republicans. Unfortunately, primitive tribal identity politics has a strong hold on him and last week he invited me to come with him to a fundraiser for the guy he's supporting for president, Giuliani. "It's time for an Italian president," is all he could say in defense of the goomba he wrote a $2,300 check for.

I know how fed up he is with the Iraq War and how the Republicans have disastrously botched what they call the "war on terror." I argued that by supporting a stay the course Republican like Giuliani he would be condemning his two sons to eventually have to go fight overseas. "They're protected," he says, something many wealthy, selfish sociopaths think about their own situation. What about other people's sons and daughters? It doesn't matter; it's time for an Italian president.

Today's L.A. Times has a piece on who Angeleno celebrities are supporting. Will Smith is for Obama; wingnut Dennis Miller is for Giuliani; Oprah is for Obama, as are Ben Affleck, Ed Norton, Matt Damon, George Clooney and David Geffen; Quincy Jones and a lot of the old school Dems are sticking with Hillary.

The didn't mention which Republicans Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears are backing. But the article goes on to talk about a growing sophistication among celebrities who have learned that their support can be a "double-edged sword."
Clooney points to a deeply personal example of Hollywood backlash: His father, former television anchorman and game show host Nick Clooney, lost his congressional race in Kentucky in 2004 after his opponent blasted him for having "Hollywood values."

"It became an issue of Hollywood versus the heartland," said Clooney, who opted not to publicly campaign for his father. "I believed I could only do him more harm."

So when Obama, an Illinois Democrat, told Clooney last year that he was thinking about running for president, the actor was excited but cautious. "I told him I would do anything for him, including staying completely away from him," said Clooney, speaking recently on his cellphone from the South Carolina set of his latest movie, "Leatherheads."

Obama, however, welcomed Clooney's involvement and support. They got to know each other a year ago while attending a rally to raise awareness about the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan and have stayed in touch. When asked about Clooney at a recent event, Obama broke into a smile, gestured expressively and said simply: "He's a good friend."

I doubt Paris and Brittney are as politically astute as Clooney but I know for a fact that some Republican strategists are already asking them to keep their right-wing opinions to themselves. When the Bush-lovin' Brittney was asked to perform at the last GOP convention, some of the wingnuts went bonkers.
The belly-baring pop star is being courted to attend the Republican convention in New York next week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, and that has sparked outrage among some conservative groups.

"Through her immature antics, Spears has probably done more to undermine sexual morality than all the misguided legislation introduced in the United States over the last decade," the Illinois Family Institute wrote in an e-mail to members. "It would be the height of hypocrisy for a party that claims to represent wholesome values to celebrate her."

Citing Spears’ "lesbian" kiss with Madonna, her "general immodesty," and her annulled marriage to a childhood friend, the group is urging Republicans to call the GOP’s convention hotline to protest any appearance by Spears.

But whether the wingnuts want Brittney and Paris out there campaigning for McCain or Giuliani or whichever rightist they decide to sacrifice to Hillary-- or if they'd keep them locked up in a closet as tightly as Mitch McConnell keeps his sexual proclivities-- the GOP sure hates outspoken progressive celebrities. Although some of the biggest names in fascist propaganda, like Ann Coulter, Hannity and Scarborough, stayed away last night the Republican Party's Media Research Center had their 20th anniversary gala/hate-fest at Washington's Grand Hyatt. Greedily shoveling the grilled beef down their throats-- eat more, little piggies, eat more-- they were all hootin' and hollerin' as they let their hair down and took off their masks to reveal the monsters lurking beneath. The purpose of the night was to slander progressive media celebrities and independent voices who don't just regurgitate Rovian talking points and recycled tracts from Hitler and Mussolini.

Bottom of the barrel GOP spokesperson, Neal Boortz, for example went after Keith Olbermann, calling him a "void surrounded by a sphincter muscle... You know you've done something right when that footstool attacks you on national TV." Boortz also seems to have a bone to pick with Bryant Gumbel, calling him an "arrogant little jock-sniffer" and an "obtuse mindless person." Oooooooo.

One of the biggest Republican thinkers in the media-- not counting Brittney Spears-- is Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajek and although he was too almost drunk to make it to the podium on his own, he did manage to accept a large pointy phallus ("The I'm Not a Political Genius But I Play One on TV" Award) for Rosie O'Donnell, saying "I don't know if she has room for this, but I'd be happy to take it over to her and show her where to put it." Hic.

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The Bush family and the families of their retainers are close business partners with the al-Saud family and the families of the elites that rule Saudi Arabia. It virtually impossible for an outside to penetrate the meaning of the public fandango between these two groups, united in their arrogance, perfidy and their contemptuous and reactionary outlook on everything and everyone outside of their narrowest of worlds. Together they are the 21st Century version of the French aristocracy circa 1785.

In response to some rumblings from Riyadh-- including a peremptorily canceled dinner party the Bushes wanted to throw for King Abdullah-- today's Washington Post has taken a stab at deciphering the state of affairs between the two tribes-- and therefore, bizarrely, our two nations. The poor reporter, Faiza Saleh Ambah, was given just one column. How to explain Saudi Arabia to American readers in one column...

First of all, this is playing out in the context of the Arab League Summit in Riyadh, which the Post curiously forgot to mention. The kings and emirs and military dictators of the 21 Arab states meeting there offered an act-now-or-forever-face-the-consequences deal to Israel: trade the Palestinian land seized in 1967 in return for diplomatic recognition and "permanent peace." The Israeli's, diplomatically, said they weren't interested in an ultimatum but would like to sit and talk about it. That isn't what Abdullah told Bush he wanted the Israelis to reply.

Both the NY Times piece about the summit and the Post piece about the intricacies of the hideous Bush/al-Saud relationship are at the links. Read them but don't expect enlightenment. If you want that, let me suggest starting with Michael Scheuer's book Imperial Hubris: Why The West Is Losing The War on Terror which is, basically, about America's response to the Muslim world. Scheuer worked for the CIA for 22 years. In the preface Scheuer says his book is "overwhelmingly focused on how the last several American presidents have been very ill-served by the senior leaders of the Intelligence Community. Indeed, I resigned from an Agency I love in order to publicly damn the feckless 9/11 Commission, which failed to find any personal failure or negligence among Intelligence Community leaders even though dozens of serving officers provided the commissioners with clear documentary evidence of that failure." His book is also pretty damning of our political elite and our general officer class. It is, more than anything else a massive damning of the handling of U.S. Middle East policies by an utterly clueless and contemptible Bush Regime which, he feels, has put our country in the gravest of dangers. An old Slate from Bastille Day, 2004 has an excellent synopsis if you don't have the time to read the whole book.

So what was Abdullah's outburst all about? Who knows? It's too uncomfortable to appear as close to the Bushes as his family is? Surely. He realizes how lame and what complete losers the Bushes are and wants to distance himself from them now to get ready for what most people see as the inevitability of Hillary-- or whatever comes after this disastrous and incompetent crew? Likely. He wants to act the big shot in front of his primitive buddies and his big shindig? For sure. He's fed up with Bush's dawdling and bungling in Iraq and Israel/Palestine? No doubt. He's trying to figure out a way for his avaricious family business-- the governing of Saudi Arabia-- will not meet the fate that the Bourbons? Probably.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007



I have to ask my friend Jimmy how to spell the Yiddish word hegdish, since my grandma passed away and he's the only person I know who's fluent in Yiddish. And it's the perfect description for what the whole U.S. Attorneys scandal has degenerated into-- between kilograms of contradictory e-mails, lies from every direction-- well, actually all the lies are from one direction-- to Bush scheduling a snap press conference to get the media's attention off Sampson's testimony, and the wingnuts demanding the Senate hearings stop for no reason that even they were able to communicate... A hegdish Jimmy has confirmed is "a disorganized mess."

So let's see what I can make out of this whole... hegdish today. Fox "News" had a cute quote from Kyle Sampson (one of the Rove-controlled Mormon Mafia guys who used to be Gonzo's chief of staff and is the designated fall guy for this and was testifying today): "The decision makers in this case were the attorney general and the president." Ummpphh... that must've hurt but, did you notice, no Rove?

Roll Call says Sampson's testimony, when it wasn't being systematically interrupted by Republicans, is "likely to ratchet up the pressure" on Abu Gonzo to resign. "His former top aide, directly contradicted his old boss in testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee." Questioned by Schumer about Gonzo's assertions that he wasn't involved in any of the discussions about the firings, Sampson said "I don't think it's entirely accurate what he said... I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign." Schumer nailed him and John Cornyn's (R-TX) pathetic attempts at a whitewash were laughable and sounded rehearsed.

Oops! Dana Bash on CNN's American Morning thinks those... um.. Inaccuracies are at the root of all the fuss the senators are making. "That is really what is making Democrats and even many Republicans very upset here... the fact that they feel that they got misleading, even flat-out wrong information from top Justice officials about what went on." Well, everyone is supposed to tell the truth to make a democracy work right, right? Especially like the chief law enforcement officer.

CNN had David Igelsias, the fired U.S. Attorney from New Mexico on the air doing commentary. He was excellent and didn't agree at all with Sampson's assertion that "the distinction between 'political' and 'performance-related' reasons for removing a U.S. Attorney is, in my view, largely artificial. A U.S. Attorney who is unsuccessful from a political perspective, either because he or she has alienated the leadership of the Department in Washington or cannot work constructively with law enforcement or other governmental constituencies in the district important to effective leadership of the office, is unsuccessful." Iglesias pointed out that he's never been a U.S. Attorney and that, basically, he didn't have any idea what he was talking about."

I don't think Sampson wanted to come on and say that "the decision makers in this case were the attorney general and the president." He wanted to say-- and this was what was in his prepared remarks distributed to the press in advance: "The decision to ask [the U.S. attys to resign] was the result of an internal process that aggregated the considered, collective judgment of a number of senior Justice Department officials [groupthink]. I would be the first to concede that this process was not scientific, nor was it extensively documented. ... But neither was the process random or arbitrary. Instead, it was a consensus-based process based on input from senior Justice Department officials who were in the best position to develop informed opinions about U.S. Attorney performance."

Republican Senator George Voinovich told the Columbus Dispatch that Gonzales should resign "if politics had a role" in any of this. "This is a serious issue. We need to get to the bottom of it. If what some people say is true, then Gonzales should go." The Regime seems to have two related goals here-- making believe politics wasn't at play and shielding Rove (which is really just one thing, actually). So why, exactly, did Sampson want to fire Patrick Fitzgerald? He says he doesn't know why and that when he suggested it he may have been playing a joke on Harriet Miers. Ha Ha Ha.

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"GSA" sounds so unsexy. If you missed the story yesterday, maybe Waxman's letter to Rove today will help you to feel the importance.

March 29, 2007
Karl Rove
Assistant to the President,
Deputy Chief of Staff, and Senior Adviser
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Rove:
Yesterday, the Committee held a hearing into allegations of misconduct at the General Services Administration (GSA). One of the allegations involved a political presentation that your deputy, J. Scott Jennings, made to the GSA Administrator, Lurita A. Doan, and approximately 40 GSA political appointees in the GSA headquarters building on January 26, 2007.
The basic facts of this event are not in dispute. The GSA White House liaison scheduled Mr. Jennings to speak at a meeting that took place on January 26, 2007, at the GSA headquarters building, although some appointees participated by videoconference. After a brief introduction, Mr. Jennings presented a 28-page slide briefing that reviewed the 2006 election results and outlined the Republican Party's top electoral targets in upcoming federal and state elections. This slide presentation included:

* A list of the 20 Democratic House districts the White House views as the most vulnerable to Republican takeover in 2008;
* A list of the 36 Republican House districts the White House views as the most vulnerable to Democratic takeover in 2008; and
* A map showing the Senate seats up for election in 2008 and whether the White House believes Republicans will have to play "defense" or "offense."

After the presentation was over, Ms. Doan asked her staff to discuss how GSA resources could be used to help "our candidates" in the next election.
At the hearing, many questions were raised about the legality and appropriateness of Mr. Jennings's presentation and the discussion that followed it. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service issued an 11-page report that found that both the presentation itself and Ms. Doan's comments could be violations of the federal Hatch Act. According to CRS, the White House presentation alone may cross the line into being an impermissible "political activity" under the Hatch Act when "the sponsor or presenter is closely affiliated/identified with a partisan political campaign, invitations are directed only to 'political' employees of a department, and the objectives and agenda of the program appear to have a partisan slant."
As part of the Committee's investigation into Mr. Jennings's presentation, I ask that you answer the following questions:

* Did you approve of the slides in Mr. Jennings's presentation? Did you approve of Mr. Jennings's participation in this meeting?
* Does the White House Office of Political Affairs or the White House Counsel have a policy addressing when and where White House employees can make political presentations such as the one Mr. Jennings gave at GSA headquarters on January 26, 2007? Please explain the legal authority you believe allows you to make such presentations on federal property during business hours.
* Did Mr. Jennings, you, or any other employee of the White House Office of Political Affairs consult with the White House Counsel or the Office of the Special Counsel about whether delivering this presentation to federal government employees in a government building during business hours violated the Hatch Act or any other rules, policies or procedures?
* Have you, Mr. Jennings, or other employees of the White House Office of Political Affairs given this political briefing or any similar briefing mentioning future elections or candidates on other occasions? Please provide the Committee a list of the dates, times, and locations of any of these presentations at which federal officials were present, whether they occurred on federal property or not, as well as a list of the people and organizations who participated.
* Have you, Mr. Jennings, or other employees of the White House Office of Political Affairs provided Mr. Jennings's PowerPoint presentation or any similar presentation to federal officials mentioning future elections or candidates to people or organizations outside of the White House Office of Political Affairs? Please provide the Committee a list of who received the presentation, as well as the dates, times, and locations the presentation was provided.
* Who prepared the PowerPoint presentation given by Mr. Jennings? Did your office use federal funds to prepare this briefing? If so, please explain the legal authority that you believe allows you to use federal funds to prepare political briefings such as the one Mr. Jennings presented at GSA headquarters on January 26, 2007.
* Why did Mr. Jennings and his staff assistant use private "" accounts rather than their "" accounts to correspond with Administrator Doan's office about the PowerPoint presentation?

In addition, I ask that you provide the Committee with any documents and communications relating to (1) the presentation of the PowerPoint presentation or any similar presentation mentioning future elections or candidates to federal officials and (2) the use of federal agencies or resources to help Republican candidates.
I request that you answer the Committee's questions and provide the requested documents by April 13, 2007.
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee in the House of Representatives and has broad oversight jurisdiction as set forth in House Rule X. An attachment to this letter provides additional information on how to respond to the Committee's request.
I will appreciate your cooperation with the Committee's inquiry. If you have any questions about the Committee's request, your staff can contact David Rapallo or David Leviss of the Committee staff at (202) 225-5420.
Henry A. Waxman
cc: Tom Davis
Ranking Minority Member


Snarlin' Arlen, over on the Senate side, says he's not so concerned about under oath or not under oath; he just wants transcripts. If they can get Rove to testify and he lies, he'll wind up in prison, oath taken or not because, according to Specter, "false official statements carry a five-year jail sentence." He also favors public hearings but he's open to compromising on that if the Regime agrees to transcripts. Arlen knows these characters and their modus operandi well enough to know that the whole exercise is futile without transcripts. "If you do not have a transcript, no one will know for sure what was said... I think a transcript is indispensable, so on that I am in disagreement with the White House."

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If I had to guess on just one Republican most likely to be out looking for a job on K. Street after next year's election it would be John Sununu, the always-agonized reactionary rubber stamp from New Hampshire. (This isn't to say that Norm Coleman, Pete Domenici or Gordon Smith have much chance of hanging on; I just think that-- aside from the open Republican seat in Colorado-- Sununu is the most vulnerable.)

The most obvious reason can be seen by even the most cursory examination of 2006's election results. Outspoken, grassroots progressives, Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes, convincingly ousted the 2 entrenched Republican congressmen (New Hampshire only has two) while the Democratic governor, John Lynch was re-elected in a landslide (72%) and both houses of the state legislature went Democratic. Meanwhile the folks in the Granite State have been reminded every few months-- as another Republican operative is charged, indicted, found guilty and sentenced to prison for helping Rove and Mehlman steal their state's senate race for Sununu in 2002-- what their state's GOP has degenerated into. All this on top of a presidential election year that looks very grim for Republicans, as Fox News is reporting today.

Last year 298,000 NH voters cast their ballots for Lynch, while only 105,000 voted for the Republican. 209,000 voted for Shea-Porter and Hodes while only 188,000 voted for the GOP incumbents (Bradley and Bass). After a narrow NH victory in 2000, Bush lost the state in 2004, Kerry getting 340,000 votes and Bush getting 331,000. In fact, New Hampshire was the only state Bush won in 2000 that he lost as an incumbent. Those trends are all bad news for Sununu who managed to beat Jeanne Shaheen in 2002 only with the help of the massive voter fraud, since proven in several court cases.

On top of that, Sununu now has a voting record that is at variance with his constituents on almost all matters of importance. For all his recent hand-wringing on Iraq, he has been a down-the-line Bush rubber stamp from Day One, voting blindly with the Bush Regime on every one of the 23 Senate roll calls relating to Iraq with one inconsequential exception (and a whole bunch of important votes he managed to miss rather than go on the record for or against). This week he refused to join Republicans Chuck Hagel and Gordon Smith in voting for the legislation the Senate passed that would start the process to get us out of Iraq.

Even leaving Iraq out for a moment, Sununu votes more like some hard right lunatic from Texas or Alabama than like a northeast moderate. His overall voting record is radically right and absolutely abysmal-- unless you too, like Sununu, hate public education, fair taxation, the environment, a woman's right to choice, health care, civil rights, fair justice, and workers' rights.

Is it any wonder that the Rove slide show that was exposed at the GSA hearings yesterday show that the GOP is massively concerned that they will lose Sununu's seat next year? Rove's team was illegally urging the GSA to use its resources to help Sununu remain in the Senate, a clear violation of the Hatch Act.

Most Democrats are dying for Jeanne Shaheen to challenge him next year. She would probably kick his ass from Maine to Vermont, Quebec to Massachusetts. In fact a Republican polling outfit, ARG released polling data today that shows Shaheen is leading Sununu by a wide margin in a hypothetical re-match next year: 44-34%. She hasn't decided whether or not to run.

Yesterday's Boston Globe had a piece on ex-astronaut Jay Buckey who just launched an exploratory committee that could lead to a campaign for the seat. Buckey is currently a professor of medicine at Dartmouth.


And if the pressure on Sununu wasn't bad enough, the New Hampshire legislature is urging him to stop rubber stamping Bush's failed policies and to help end the war. Yesterday the N.H. House voted 214-151 to pass HR 10, the last thing in the world Sununu wanted to see coming out of his state.


Desperately fighting to retain his seat-- even though no Democrat has declared yet-- Sununu answered the North Andover Eagle-Tribune editorial board's question about whether or not he wants Bush to campaign for him in an uncharacteristically straightforward fashion: "Not if he's not going to be effective."

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Yesterday I mentioned how surprised I was-- pleasantly so-- that even a relatively reactionary red-state Democratic freshman like Heath Shuler had hewn to the Iraq War positions worked out by Nancy Pelosi and her team. The New York Times was just as surprised and, they say, so were the Democrats. Oh, not about Shuler specifically, but about the whole Big Tent.
Their aggressiveness and unity on a major foreign-policy challenge to the president is a striking change for a party that has, on many occasions over many years, seemed to be on the defensive on national security issues.

In fact, for much of the post-Vietnam era, the Republican advantage on those issues has been a defining feature of American politics. Many Democrats felt they needed to prove, again and again, that their party was tough enough to defend the nation’s interests-- to fight the notion, often stoked by Republicans, that Democrats were the party of George McGovern and the nuclear freeze.

Democrats feel newly emboldened not because they are unconcerned about security issues but for the opposite reason. America is facing grave threats and Bush and his greed-obsessed rubber stamp Congress have failed miserably. The Bush Regime's utter incompetence-- from allowing our country to be attacked on 9/11 to the failed response in Afghanistan (beyond a great first month) to an unprovoked and catastrophic war and occupation in Iraq-- is the worst thing that has happened to our nation since the Civil War.

Democrats of all stripes are cognizant that the American public has lost faith in Bush and his cronies and his agendas. They understand that the time to step up to the plate is now, for the good of the country.
Former Senator Gary Hart of Colorado, who played a key role in military policy during his years in Congress, said the intellectual challenge facing the Democrats was immense, but so were the potential payoffs.

"What challenges the Democrats now is fashioning-- not just muscular, not just more-- but a more sophisticated approach to security," he said, "and that requires you to comprehend the security needs of the 21st century. That’s the prize to be won, because the Republicans are in huge disarray now."

Democratic Congressional leaders say they are moving in the direction of an alternative foreign policy vision. They added money in the new legislation, for example, for the conflict in Afghanistan. And policy groups in various wings of the party are working on their own proposals.

Ultimately, though, the party’s foreign policy will be defined on the presidential campaign trail, by the candidates and eventually the nominee.

Of course, the Regime, even in it's last spasms, isn't without weapons-- and Bush is bellowing with rage and vowing to veto everything, even to the point of cutting off his own nose to spite his face. "Now, some of them believe that by delaying funding for our troops, they can force me to accept restrictions on our commanders that I believe would make withdrawal and defeat more likely. That’s not going to happen. If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible." He may be in for a very unpleasant surprise when he sees who the people blame. He certainly lost our collective trust long ago. Even the Mormons don't believe anything he says anymore.

As for unity in the Democratic Party, it is fairly powerful, but, obviously not perfect. Ex-Democrat Joe Lieberman, now a spokesperson for the Bush Regime is furiously pushing the Rove talking points and is sounding as delusional as his senile friend McCain. While McCain is misleading Americans about strolling down peaceful Baghdad neighborhoods, Lieberman was writing an OpEd for USAToday claiming everything's coming up roses and invoking-- as Bush and all his minions do incessantly-- General Patraeus as they he were the holy grail.

I hope regular DWT readers will recall last fall when I said that the Democratic Party would be far better off if they took the Senate without a treacherous reactionary like Harold Ford winning a senate seat in Tennessee. One Lieberman is bad enough! Not only did the Democrats win the Senate and not only did the execrable Ford lose his race for the open seat but-- best of all-- Ford's safe blue district went from being represented by an egomaniacal reactionary to having a genuinely progressive Democrat who's on the side of the people on every single issue, in other words, the opposite of Ford.

Why bring Ford up now. Isn't he a Merrill Lynch and DLC shill and out of people's hair finally? Well, he's definitely shilling for Merrill Lynch and the DLC but he's hardly out of everyone's hair. He still fancies himself a force. And he's still carrying water for the forces of reaction and doing all he can to sew Democratic Party disunity and confusion. This morning Washington's far right Moonie Times gets to portray the Democrats as being in disarray because the ex-congressman and bigtime loser decides he needs to shoot his mouth off about how he disagrees with the party on Iraq.

Echoing Karl Rove's GOP talking points, Ford sounds like he's applying for a job with the dying Regime looking to give itself a "bipartisan" face. "I think most Americans want to win, they don't want to see us leave early, and if we leave prematurely, we may create a broader set of conflicts and invite a bigger problem in that region than before leaving."

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007



I hope you watched yesterday's video du jour of John McCain flat out lying-- or else proving the frighteningly advanced state of his dementia-- on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. The Straight Talk Express is now a runaway freight train filled with nuts-- or piloted by one. Claiming that there's "significant progress," McCain told a radio audience-- and then reiterated the exact same thing on TV-- that "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today." That's a)- just not true and b)- a scary thing for a candidate for president to say because he's either consciously lying or utterly clueless and delusional.

Or does he know a neighborhood in Baghdad that no one else does? (It sure ain't the Green Zone, not that that's a neighborhood anyway. McCain who once was a hair-breath away from switching parties, was back on CNN today at first defending his positions and then, confronted with evidence to the contrary, denying they were his positions! Watch the video of a doddering and deceitful old fool committing political suicide.

Other Republicans are abandoning McCain's-- and Cheney's-- hopeless and confused position on Iraq as fast as they can. Our old friend Dr. Steven Porter, who is running for Congress against long-time Iraq War advocate Phil English (PA-03) has been tying to figure out where exactly English stands on the war. English has been the absolute perfect example of the ultimate Bush rubber stamp. Of the 44 Iraq-related votes between October 10, 2002 and May 25, 2005, English voted with Bush 44 times. His voting record is an abomination; no one in the entire Congress has a worse one. Now, though, English is feeling the heat and flipping around like a live trout on hot skillet. Here's what Porter had to say last week:
Now that he is drawing heat from Move-on, our Congressman, Republican incumbent Phil English, representing the beleaguered 3rd district of Pennsylvania, has seen fit to try to con us about his Iraq flip-flops.

English's position on the war has as many twists and turns as a corkscrew.  When Bush was riding high in the polls, nothing was wrong with Iraq, and English supported it-- lies and all-- from day one.

Then, as Bush's position began to crumble, in order to avoid the political fall-out, English began to distance himself from the President by equivocating about the war before the 2006 elections and by siding against the "surge" of troops afterward.

Now, no doubt under orders from the Republican leadership, he refuses to support the bill which might lead to bringing our troops home.

The flip-flops are, of course, purely political. It is doubtful that Mr. English has any reasoned position on the foreign policy he is directed to support, and if he has, he has never articulated it. He is just another Washington politician scrambling to make himself look good and to keep in favor with his party leadership.

By comparison, I opposed the invasion of Iraq from the get-go and did so because my study of history compelled me to reject Bush's arguments for the war. It was clear there were no weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq posed no threat to the U.S., that Saddam-- evil as he was-- had no link to the 9/11 terrorists or to Al-Qaeda, and that the tribal conflicts between Shiite, Sunni, and Kurd were centuries in the making. It was also clear to me that the invasion was far more about oil and money for the likes of Halliburton than the cause of democracy. I have never wavered from these conclusions.

Moreover, I believe that the only viable solution to the mess Mr. Phil and his brainless President have created is to seek a divided Iraq with Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni autonomous regions and with each sharing equally in the oil revenues which have evidently been "divvied up" by the likes of Exxon, Shell, BP, and Chevron through the production-sharing agreements in the new Iraqi constitution.

It is time to send English and his like-minded Congress men and women packing.  It is also time for the press to stop lauding him for his flip-flops and to get on board with a program which will end this horrible war.

Maybe McCain could take Phil English on that stroll through the magical Baghdad neighborhood-- or maybe he'd be too big a target even for the delusional McCain.

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