Thursday, June 30, 2005

Why are conservatives getting elected over progressives?

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest offers a rather insightful view. Here is a part of it:

"Let's examine why on the Right the elected officials all voice the RW talking points in unison and ours do not. Look at where the Right's people get their media training and those talking points from. That's how the RWers all know what Progressive ideas they aren't supposed to reinforce. They're educated, and that takes money and effort. They are provided with seminars on that very subject. Ours are not.

It is not that their candidates are so good. Jeeze, Bush better than Gore? I think that the Right's organizations out there "educating" the public-at-large on the Right's issues and ideology for decades paves the way for them to insert their clones into the election process. Their candidates just repeat the talking points. On the right it is the funded conservative movement that leads the way, not the party or the candidates.

Meanwhile, candidates on our side are largely on their own, and start from scratch at the start of election season. They have to "come up with issues for the campaign" and educate the public on those issues, from scratch, in a short campaign season. Their campaigns are largely independent of other Progressive campaigns, while the Right's are all coordinated.
The decades of the RW pounding away on their underlying ideology has a huge effect on the viability of candidates."

Then go look at what Robert Kuttner wrote a while back. I commented on his article here. Among other things he describes how Democratic Consultants tend to push candidates to take the positions that are more popular in the polls. These are positions candidiates need to take in the short run to win the election they are involved in. The difference is that the conservatives have a long-term well-funded machine to shift the views of the voters, so that the entire political spectrum is being pushed away from progressive views.

This is the result of a Democratic Party which has no national policy organization and few funds with which to extablish one.

An example is the current effort by Bush to destroy Social Security. Defense of Social Security is a long-range mission-critical progressive function. The main umbrella organization working to do this is Americans United to Protect Social Security. AUPSS has run short of funds, and is starting to lay off staff.

If a conservative long-range mission-critical function were to be short of funds, instead of laying off staff they would call Tom DeLay's office.

Tom's office wouild call a K-Street lobbyist who got his job because he was a staffer for a conservative Republican who referred him to Tom DeLay. Tom DeLay approved his hiring by the K-Street frim.

The lobbyist would call one of his clients and tell them to donate funds to the mission-critical conservative organization. The client is happy to do so becuse the lobbyist has shown that he has the ear of the politician, probably Tom DeLay or someone DeLay supports.

Long-term continuity of high priority items are never shorted funds for the conservatives.

Who does a progressive call??

What are progressives doing to change the overall attitudes of the voting public? More important, who is funding such actions? The main source of funds used to be unions, but especially since 1981 the Republicans have made America very unfriendly to unions and union organizing.

This needs to change.

And while you are trying to decide how to make such changes happen, click throught to Americans United to Protect Social Security. and donate to preserve their organization. The Repubicans are going to bring bills out of committee to create Private Accounts in July. This fight isn't over yet, and it is only one small fight in the overall battle for progressives to take back America.

Rove, Durbin and the Media inability to get the real story

Eric Alterman exposes the inability of the mainstream media to distinguish between the true statements Durbin made - but with the inclusion of the terms Nazi and Gulag as comparisons that set the right-wing into a frenzy, and the out-and-out McCarthyite lies made by Karl Rove.
The respective media flaps involving Senate Demo­cratic whip Richard Durbin and presidential consigliere Karl Rove invites a kind of admixture of awe and revulsion at the state of American political discourse and the media's inability to make the most fundamental kinds of distinctions to help citizens navigate it. [...]

Rove's [Republican] defenders, including White House press secretary Scott McClellan and New York Governor George Pataki, changed the subject to Durbin rather than offer even meek criticism of the second most powerful man in America (after Dick Cheney). But remember: Durbin paid tribute to America's ideals. Rove not only lied about liberals, he mocked the very concepts of "moderation," "restraint" and "understanding" as un-American. Durbin criticized no one but the torturers; Rove slandered more than 20 percent of Americans who proudly identify themselves as liberals.

And where were the mainstream media in all this? With just a few honorable exceptions they were passing along without prejudice Rove's slander and lies and the deliberate distortions of Durbin's words. Typically, Washington Post media cop Howard Kurtz adopted the White House spin with a report titled "Down­playing Durbin, Jumping on Rove." The smart guys at The Note explained that Democrats were asking for this kind of thing with their general wimpiness. Apparently, it's not a reporter's bus­iness to decide what's true anymore, just who sounds more macho.

There's a lesson for liberals in all this: American politics has become a game with no rules and no referee. Play by the old rules--fairness, honesty, good faith--and face political extinction.
This is the McCarthy Era again, but with a President who is the single most stupid man ever to hold that office.

The United States is being taken down the tubes by Bush, Cheney, and their henchmen in this administration. The U.S. is rapidly regressing militarily, economically, and socially, and the Republicans are working hard to destroy the Constitution to do it.

Politics Plus Stuff becomes an on-line Magazine

Without further notice the Blog Politics Plus Stuff will now cease publication. At the same URL there will be a new publication, Politics Plus Stuff - An On-Line Magazine. In this I join Talkleft The politics of Crime, "the online magazine for liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news." The Talent Show made this switch yesterday and explains the reasoning.

I will be attempting to get my printer working again soon and place the title "Magazine Publisher" on my business cards as my new occupation. That does have more cachet than "Retired" anyway, right??

And according to the FEC I will get all the priviliges of publishing a magazine instead of just a no-rights blog.

I am not the first in this trend, but I'm sure I will be one of the early adopters. For Fun, go to this Technorati search to see some of the other previous blogs who are up-grading to magazine status.

I do hope the paycheck is a little better.

Zogby - No bounce in Polls for Bush

Zogby has new answers about the result of Bush's speech on Vietnam Iraq. Short answer, no change in public opinion.

"Bush Job Approval Unchanged by War Speech; Question on Impeachment Shows Polarization of Nation; Americans Tired of Divisiveness in Congress - Want Bi-Partisan Solutions"

The discussion is interesting. Especially interesting to me is that 42% of respondents s replied that "...if Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment."

[My opinion - Since Congress is dominated right now by Republicans, that is not likely to happen. However, the House especially faces the 2006 elections with this hanging over it. Iraq could cause a change in control of Congress unless they act against Bush.]

Go read the discussion.

Iraq - this war demonstrates Bush's incompetency.

Richard Cohen gets it. Bush doesn't.

Bush repeats the mantra "9/11" as though that justifies the war in Iraq. The 9/11 Commission (which Bush resisted creating until he was forced to) clearly stated that there was no connection between Iraq and 9/11.

So Scott McClellan states that 9/11 merely caused a mind-shift in the administration. It made them realize that terrorism was a threat (after they had spent eight months downplaying it because Clinton and his people considered it a major problem) so that they had to take preemptive action.

So what preemptive action did they take? They attacked Iraq, as Bush had wanted to do since 1999. Iraq was a problem, but no threat. 9/11 was not the cause of our invasion of Iraq. It was the event that allowed Bush to do what he had previously wanted to do but knew that wiser heads would stop him. See also Why did Bush want war in Iraq?.

From an unreasonable and purposeless effort to demonstrate American military prowess, the Iraq War has been reduced to an international disaster. It has effectively destroyed the American military Reserve system, proven that the Volunteer Army cannot be depended on in wartime, placed severe and unnecessary strains on the American economy and isolated America from the rest of the world.

On the isolation of the U.S. take a look at what is happening in Italy. Kevin Drum describes the recent effort by an Italian Magistrate to arrest 13 U.S. CIA people, and expands on his description here. This is a reaction to the arrogance of the Bush Administration, and an example of how that arrogance works against our international efforts to deal with terrorists. Berlosconni has been one of Bush's staunchest allies, but he went against the Italian people. We are all paying the price for that arrogance.

All of this has shown that the Bush administration is ideologically-driven, in that facts are always subordinate to ideology, and unable to govern effectively.

The timing of the attack on Iraq was clearly based on using it to maintain the Republican control of both houses of Congress in 2002, so of course there was no time to fool with UN considerations. Why bother? America was The Superpower. The war in Iraq was to be a demonstration of that, a minor war in a small country that allowed America to flex it's military muscles and allowed Bush to gain the bump in the domestic polls that the Falklands War gave Margeret Thatcher.

Nor was there any time or need to be honest about why we were attacking Iraq. Every reason given to the public or to Congress before initiating war against Iraq has been proven wrong. As the Downing Street Memos have proven, both the U.S. and Blair had already decided to attack Iraq. Any reason given the public was just public relations to rope them into supporting the idiocy.

Listen to Bush's speech. Where Bush talks of fighting some imaginary monolithic threat called "Terrorism" in Iraq instead of in the U.S., LBJ spoke of fighting an imaginary monolith called "Communism" in Southeast Asia instead of in San Francisco. America came to realize that in Vietnam we were fighting a nationalistic movement that called itself Communist. That put us on the side of the French and Japanese as imperialist aggressors, so that for all three nations to cost of continuing the war was too high to be worth it. That's why the French quit Vietnam in 1954 and we quit it in 1974.

The insurgents in Iraq are a similar nationalistic movement. Because they face the most powerful conventional military in the world, they are practicing what is known as "asymmetric Warfare." Since al Qaida is well-trained in that form of warfare, the insurgents are happily taking training and Islamist volunteers to aid their cause, but the core of the Iraqi insurgency is nationalistic Sunnis who are attempting to force the invading and occupying U.S. military out of their nation.

In fact it is the American invasion of Iraq which created the mess that is today Iraq. Together with the unnecessary and unreasonable invasion, in which the Bush administration used too few troops for the post-invasion required actions, there is the utter incompetence with which the Bush administration had no plan for control of the cities and looting after the invasion and when advised they needed it by the CIA, State Department and Uniformed military refused to prepare such a plan, then they stupidly let Jerry Bremer of the CPA disband the military, police and border guards that would be required to stabilize the occupied Iraq since WE did not have to troops or skills to perform those tasks.

This litany of stupidity, arrogance, ideology and incompetence has turned Iraq from a nasty local despotic problem with no connections to international terrorism into the worlds' largest terrorist training camp. We are also stuck with maintaining 140,000 mostly Army and Marine Corps troops attempting to create some kind of stability while they also are so understaffed for the job that the insurgents cannot be defeated. At the same time, the presence of that foreign occupying force has become a massive recruiting tool for terrorists world-wide.

Richard Cohen also addresses the many things we are doing to rebuild Iraq.

"Bush sounded downright Johnsonian in talking about progress in Iraq. He cited rebuilt "roads and schools and health clinics," not to mention improvements in "sanitation, electricity and water." This, too, had a familiar ring. We got the same sort of statistics in Vietnam. Some of them were simply concocted, but most, I think, were sort of true. Roads were paved, schools were opened and village councils were elected -- and yet, somehow, it never mattered. The newly elected village council could meet in the newly opened school and get there on a newly paved road -- and spend the night planning an attack on U.S. forces. It is all so depressing."
For all that the American troops are doing for the Iraqi people, their standard of living this year is much worse than it was last year, and their health care system (which had previously been world class in many respects) is unable to provide basic medications. Just as Habitat for Humanity is little more than spitting into the wind of systemic poverty, the American efforts to rebuild "roads and schools and health clinics," not to mention improvements in "sanitation, electricity and water" are miniscule efforts in the face of the destruction caused by the insurgency and the American efforts to control it.

No. I don't have The Answer to Iraq. All I can say it that the current crew of arrogant, ideologically-driven incompetents who have created this mess out of a tin-horn dictatorship and their own desires for greatness have proven unfit to continue to lead the efforts in Iraq.

Army declares success in recruiting for June.

Washington Post June 29, 2005

What the Army did in May was reduce the monthly goal from 8,050 to 6,700 - then they only recruited a little over 5,000. They did expect better results in the Summer, so the goal for June was lowered to 5,650 and they recruited 6,150. This was an anticipated monthly increase because school let out.

But for all the games they are playing with the monthly goals, the annual goal is still 80,000 by September 30. To meet their annual goal they need to recruit almost 33,000 recruits in July, August and September. The 5,000 a month they had in May is a realistic goal, so they will end the fiscal year about 15,000 recruits short on their need of 80,000. That will be an 18% shortfall in recruiting over the year, and the big drop has been in 2005.

The key is that we do not have the troops required to continue the Iraq war much longer. Our choice is to go to a draft or get out of Iraq. The first is not going to happen, so no matter how effective the Iraqi troops are, we will be drawing down our numbers in Iraq beginning in about January 2006.

Kos at Daily Kos discusses this, but he links to the New York Times, a publication which promises to become a great deal more internet unfriendly soon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

American Financial Business philosophy outdated

What is the difference between GM and Ford on the one side, and Honda on the other? The difference is in the basic philosophy of the company. Ford and GM have the basic philosophy that they are companies which are in business to make money. In order to make money, they have traditionally made and sold cars, but the reason they do so is to make money.

This philosophy is not wrong. But it is one that goes back to the beginnings of the western industrial revolution and Adam Smith's 1776 book "Wealth of Nations." In the automotive industry it was the basis of Ford's automotive industrial line from over a century ago. Think about what this philosophy tells a company to do. It is purely a money decision to make a product that has lower cost than that of the competitors. Any other goal is secondary to this cost-revenue focus, and whenever the company gets into trouble the first move is always to cut costs. This has been the key to success for American car companies for over a century since Ford created the automotive assembly line.

As this interview demonstrates, Honda has a very different and much more modern philosophy. Low-cost production is a given. The philosophy focuses on qualities of the automobile and how it is used that are greatly different from simply producing it cheaply.

This interview is from Newsweek.

NEWSWEEK's Keith Naughton sat down with Baker [Charlie Baker, Honda's U.S. chief engineer] to discuss what drives the automaker to go for the green:

Naughton: Honda worried about gas mileage when gas mileage wasn't cool. Why?
Baker: Everyone at Honda views being in a company as being far more than just turning a profit. It's not that we're poor businessmen, but I think everybody at Honda is fired by the dream of creating great products that are the most efficient in their class.

How difficult was it to keep that principle in the '90s when the SUV boom was in full swing and gas prices were at record lows?
Well, it certainly caused us pain. For a long time our president was strongly against getting into the truck market because he could not see how it was consistent with Honda values. But after a long time of wrestling with it, we said, "There are other people who are developing these trucks with horrendous fuel economy and we can do better."

How did your rivals react when the MDX [Honda full-size luxury four-wheel drive] debuted in 2000?
We were criticized for being late to the party. People repeatedly told us we were going to fail.

How difficult was it to engineer the MDX to meet Honda's stringent mileage standards?
I'll never forget it. I was a rookie leading this MDX team. We'd done the research and we had an efficient package. But when we pitched our business plan to the board of directors, Mr. [Koichi] Amemiya, who was in charge of North America, his No. 1 comment was: "It should be more green." I made the mistake of saying, "But sir, nobody cares about the green issues." And he just smiled and said "I know."

Does your research now show that people care about gas mileage?
If you are talking about large SUVs, yes, they are giving some lip service to fuel economy. But that is sort of a "here today, gone tomorrow"-type phenomenon. The point is not that customers demand it or don't demand it, because that's absolutely not the viewpoint of Honda. When you are a philosophy-driven company, you don't ask the customer if they agree with your philosophy.

Would Honda ever build a full-size pickup truck?
We studied traditional pickup trucks till we were blue in the face. And we said, "Why would we be the sixth manufacturer to do the same concept of a pickup as Ford, GM and Chrysler? Let's think about it in a different way. Let's make a Honda pickup. Let's surprise people with things like a trunk in the bed and great fuel economy. Let's create a pickup the customer can't even imagine." And we think that's what we've done with the Ridgeline.

Honda starts with the last century of mass producing automobiles at low unit cost, then applies their unique philosophy to those automobiles. Their philosophy is a complex combination of knowledge of how people use cars and competitive marketing factors. It permeates their company.

The other thing is, there is no simple one-number goal [The bottom line - net profit per share] that drives decisions in the company like so many American companies have. Net profit per share is instead one parameter within which the decisions in the company are made.

America has become an extremely wealthy nation using simple financial business models to guide large companies. Now the rest of the world has caught up, and to remain competitive in the new global economy, American companies are going to have to become more like Honda or be left in the dust.

[Thanks to Bill in Portland at Daily Kos for directing me to this Newsweek article.]

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Washington Times Owner has close ties to North Korea

The American Prospect reports that the owner of the Washington Times, the Reverand Sun Myung Moon, is not only "a generous friend of the Bush family, and a patron of religious-right and other conservative causes", he has provided tens of millions in hard currency to North Korea to support the North Korean regime when lack of hard currency funds threatened its existence. Apparently some of this was provided before sanctions were lowered in 1999. Whose side is Moon on, anyway? Read the article.

See also Washington Times has close ties to racist hate groups.

Karl Rove claims that Liberals are threats to America? And then he gets his support from the Washington Times? Reminds me of the old statement "He who lies down with dogs will get fleas."

The Washington Times and its owner have some really nasty fleas, and the Bush administration, the Republican Party in general, and Karl Rove are all in bed with the Reverand Moon and the Moonie Times.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Bush collapsing in the polls

If you are like I am, a severe drop in Bush's poll ratings is a joy to behold. For as much joy as you can handle at the moment, go on over to the Emerging Democratic Majority where Ruy Teixeira explains what the new ARG (American Research Group, Inc) poll shows.

His final question - how will this effect the 2006 elections - is the really relevant question right now. It really is time for Democrats and progressives to get it in gear and be ready to take advantage of the fact that the Republican idiocies and criminalities of the last ten years are catching up to them.

ADDENDUM June 28, 2005
Kevin Drum offers another of his great graphs.

This shows the slide in the President's polls over time, with a variety of different polls grouped together. The graphic emphasizes the fact the the slide in the President's poll ratings is not a short-term thing, nor is it the artifact of a single poll. It is broad-based and the trend is clear.

The Republicans read these polls and take their own. I suspect that the reaction from the White House will be more "Red Meat" statements like the recent ones by Kark Rove which are designed to split Americans into "For the Administration" and "Against the administration" groups. This will force wavering Republicans to adhere more closely to the White House policies.

At the same time, the Senate and House Republicans will be looking at the 2006 elections. For many, the urge to separate themselves from the more extreme of the White House initiatives will prove overwhelming.

The Republicans are weakening. The question is, can the Democrats take advantage? The problems in the Democratic/Progressive camp are referred to at Why Social Security Will be destroyed and the Josh Marshall report it refers to at TPM Cafe.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

First Woman ever to get Silver Star for close combat

Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester given Silver Star for close combat during ambush by insurgents. Read this story and think about another American soldier doing the kind of job American soldiers are justly famous for.

Sgt. Hester is age 23, the floor manager at a Kentucky shoe store. She is also a member of the 617th Military Police Company, Kentucky Army National Guard.

Billy Graham endorses Hillary Clinton for President

This is a good one - from the The Next Hurrah.

DemfromCT quotes from a self-identified Christian source:
According to the Associated Press, when Bill Clinton joined him on stage, Graham "quipping that the former president should become an evangelist and allow 'his wife to run the country.'"

Rev. Schenck has considered Billy Graham his role model for over 25 years. That's why the Capitol Hill minister traveled from Washington, DC, to New York City this weekend to witness what may be the ailing evangelist's last crusade. But after he saw the Clintons exploit the aging Graham, he couldn't bear to stay and hear him preach.

"I was stunned and appalled," said Schenck, who left the Flushing Meadows Park as Graham was still complimenting the Clintons.

"This was a deliberate, cunning, purely political move by the Clintons to divide the Evangelical vote and assure Hillary of a victory in '08," said Schenck, a minister with the Evangelical Church Alliance and a missionary to elected officials.
Billy Graham is clearly aging, and he does have Parkinson's Disease, but Parkinson's Disease does not affect the mind and judgement.

Watching the conservatives fall out among themselves is fun. I expect to enjoy a lot more of this fun in the future.

What are we going to do about Iraq?

The war in Iraq involves two questionable decisions. The first was whether we should have invaded or not. Right or wrong, that decision was made and acted on. Now it is in the past. The Bush administration may have to answer for it, but we can't change it.

The second set of decisions was how to deal with the occupation of Iraq. Again, much of that consists of decisions already made that cannot be unmade. Of the two decisions, the second set seems to be the worst. The Bush administration has been incompetent in Iraq. [Click on "Losing Iraq: Inside the Post-war Reconstruction Fiasco" on the right side of this blog.]

What can be changed is the set of decisions yet to be made in Iraq. Essentially we have to get out while leaving behind a nation that does not collapse into civil war or become a Shiite-controlled theocracy. The indications are that the Bush Administration has no real clue how to do that.

So what does Cheney's recent statement that the insurgency is in its' final throes do to the debate?

It highlights the fact that the Bush administration, acting in perpetual political campaign mode, has either lied or shaded the Truth so much that they retain little or no credibility. Cheney's statements are completely outside of the facts we get from other sources, and his previous statements have repeatedly been demonstrated to be propaganda rather than honest Truth.

Now when we hear a statement from Cheney that doesn't square with what we hear from other sources, we grab our wallets and ask what he wants us to do because he only makes statements like that when things are not going well for the administration. Both Cheney and Rove have now made recent statements that make it clear they are feeling the heat and don't really know what to do next.

In the meantime, the polls show that public support for the war in Iraq is rapidly falling. That means that the options for successful American action in Iraq are rapidly narrowing.

This from the LA Times article:
"We will lose this war if we leave too soon. And what is likely to make us do that? The public going south," Graham told Rumsfeld. "And that is happening, and that worries me greatly."

Several recent polls have found that a majority of Americans now believe that the United States made a mistake in going to war in Iraq, and increasing numbers - but not a majority - said they want U.S. troops to be withdrawn immediately.

"What's interesting in this decline in support for the war is that it has sprung from the public itself," said pollster Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center. "It wasn't led by politicians or by an antiwar movement. It started back in May, when the focus in Washington was on other issues."

Bush acknowledged Saturday that maintaining U.S. public support for the war was critical. "The terrorists' objective is to break the will of America and of the Iraqi people before democracy can take root," he said
This isn't just a question of whether our over-stretched troops can successfully do what is needed in Iraq. Frankly I think they can.

The question is, does the Bush administration retain the credibility needed to successfully prosecute the war they started? This administration has failed to prosecute the war successfully on the political front in every way up to now. The failures of the CPA are clear, but the political failures of the administration here in America are only now coming home to roost.

Yet they still see the criticism of their actions as partisan political attacks by those who want their jobs, not as the result of perceptions of how they themselves have acted and continue to act. I seriously doubt that they can turn it around. They really need help from all Americans and from many foreign nations. Even if they realize that, they have burned their bridges. Who is left to trust them? I know for a fact that any politician they get to work with them now they will turn on in the most vicious ways (Max Cleland, anyone?)in the next election. Any Democrat who trusts members of the Republican Party for 10 seconds is a fool, and most Democrats are NOT fools.

The LA Times asks if they retain any credibility. I think it is deeper. I don't think anyone trusts them.

[For more on trusting the Bush Administration, read Kevin Drum and his discussion on how the administration treated our allies the Italians.]

Saturday, June 25, 2005

White House denies Cheney hospitalized for heart

Apparently Dick Cheney has checked into cardiac care at the hospital in Vail, CO for angina. Ariana Huffington has the story.

The White House says Cheney is in for orthopedic care.

Cheney has had several heart attacks already, and has an implanted defibrilattor. He is living on borrowed time, and has been for quite a while. Will this lead to Cheney's resignation as Vice President? America can only hope so.

Sort of reminds me of how Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President before pleading Nolo Contendre for taking a bribe as Maryland Governor. This allowed the Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Nixon without the fear that removing Nixon would elevate the even more (if possible) unsuitable Agnew to the Presidency. For some strange reason the Republicans have repeatedly chosen unsuitable Vice Presidential candidates who clearly were not reasonable choices to become President. First was Nixon as Eisenhower's Vice President, second was Agnew as Nixon's Veep. Reagan went against the grain by choosing Bush senior. but Bush returned to type with J. Danforth Quayle. Now we have Dick Cheney. Each of these vice Presidents can be viewed as impeachment insurance for the President. If you get rid of the President, would it really be worth it considering who was Veep?

It may be that the next big debate with the Senate is who they will approve to replace Cheney. I wonder what kind of sick candidate they can choose to replace him. Rumsfeld, maybe?

Bring in Hastert, and does Tom DeLay get elevated to House Majority Leader? I suspect even Tom doesn't want that job. Talk about being in the cross-hairs now!

An interesting set of speculations appear with Cheney hospitalized for angina. If Cheney is replaced by a viable candidate for President, then much of Bush's appearance of being a lame duck may disappear. Such a replacement Veep could well be the shoe-in front-runner for the Republican nomination for President in 2008. That instantly brings Frist to mind.

Summary of Stories on crooked Republican congressman Duke Cunningham

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo continues to report the latest on the purchase of Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham by the Defense Contractor Wade Mitchell. Earlier I summarized his reports on the unfolding story in Crooks in Congress. This is an update to bring it all in one location.
  • 06-18-05 San Diego Union-Tribune - Report that a federal grand jury has begun to look into the sale of Congressman Cunningham's house to Defense Contractor Wade Mitchell. Referred from Talking Points Memo.

  • 06-19-05 Boston globe - "Duke" lives on a yacht berthed on the Potomac owned by the president of a defense firm whose contracts Cunningham has supported. Referred from Talking Points Memo.

  • 06-20-05 Talking points Memo - Rep. Pete Stark runs satirical advertisement about "Duke" Cunningham's home sale. See the advertisement through the link at talking points memo.

  • 06-20-05 Talking Points Memo - "Duke"Cunningham reports on the floor of the House that he had just been served with four subpoenas.

  • 06-21-05 Talking points Memo - The Defense Contractor Wade Mitchell was forcing his employees to make political contributions to "Duke" and other Republicans. Many of the recipients are listed.

  • 06-21-05 Talking Points Memo - Josh Marshall discusses the fact that while the story has been out for ten days, neither "Duke" Cunningham nor Mitchell Wade has made any public statement in their defense.

  • 06-21-05 Talking points Memo Josh reports that Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Vista defended "Duke" to the North County Times. The problem, according to Issa, was that Mitchell Wade got a real estate agent to suggest a good price for "Duke's" home. "Duke" was merely an honorable Congressman who did not realize he was being bribed. [Issa is the politician who financed the California recall election that removed Gray Davis and elected Arnold Schwartzenegger. Issa was horribly disappointed that he didn't get the job.]

  • 06-21-05 Talking Points Memo - Josh discusses why Wade Mitchell was buying "Duke". Mitchell is a defense contractor providing a mix of (often classified) defense, homeland security and intelligence-related products or services to the government agencies.

  • 06-22-05 Talking points Memo Josh discusses what "Duke" can offer Mitchell Wade that is worth over a million dollars.

  • 06-22-05 Talking points Memo - Josh refers to some stories regarding what "Duke" did for his money. He also refers to a story announcing that Mitchell Wade resigned as CEO of the Defense Contracting company he established, MZM.

  • 06-23-05 Talking Points Memo - Josh reports that the LA Times has the story that the house "Duke" Cunningham bought for $2.5 million is a 8,000 square foot home in Rancho Sante Fe. The home was sold by Douglas Powanda, previously an executive of Peregrine Systems and currently one of eight executives under indictment by a federal grand jury and waiting trial n an alleged multibillion-dollar securities fraud.

  • 06-23-05 Talking Points Memo - The rules for the House Ethics Committee require that complaints can be made only by current House members and no House members can be found to file a complaint. The Republicans obviously don't want to investigate one of their own, and the Democrats don't want to start a tit-for-tat set of investigations in which each party attempts to destroy the members of the other party through ethics complaints.

  • 06-23-05 Talking Points Memo - "Duke" Cunningham explains that he was paying the dock fees for the 40 foot yacht belonging to Mitchell Wade that he lived on in Washington. Josh points out that those fees were well below the level of rent for a cheap Washington apartment.

  • 06-23-05 Talking Points Memo - Josh reports that the 7628 sq ft house in Rancho Sante Fe that "Duke" purchased for $2.5 million cash is in the same block as a 5290 sq ft home that a few months earlier sold for $3.45 million. It appears that Duke got a real good deal.

  • 06-23-05 Talking Points Memo Josh reports that the boat owned by Mitchell Wade on which he lived in Washington, D.C. was "...built in 1987 by Carver Boat Corp. Length is 42.2 ft. Fiberglass hull. Gross Tonnage 34, Net Tonnage 27."

  • 06-24-05 Talking points Memo "The house at 7150 Via Del Charro [next door to "Duke" Cunningham] is on sale for a mere $5 million."

  • 06-24-05 Talking Points Memo - By Josh's estimate, "Duke" Cunningham has paid $357 a month in lieu of rent for the last 14 months to live on Mitchell Wade's yacht.

  • 06-24-05 Talking points memo - Josh kindly offers a picture of a yacht similar to the $130,000 yacht "Duke" has been living on here.

  • 06-24-05 Talking Points Memo - Josh points out that his earlier statement that the indictee, Douglas Powanda, was not in fact the third-largest contributor to "Duke" Cunningham. The confusion was that Powanda's previous employer was Perigrine Software, and the contributor is the unrelated company, Peregrine Semiconductor.

  • 06-25-05 Talking Points Memo - Josh reports that "Duke" has hired lawyer K. Lee Blalack. This is the same attorney that "Duke" previously hired to defend himself in the "...2003 ethics case that alleged Cunningham and other lawmakers pressured Rep. Nick Smith to vote in favor of a Medicare reform bill." (reported by the North County Times.)

Is this simply the "Politics of Personal Destruction" with a media attack on an otherwise decent politician? Not likely. Randy "Duke" Cunningham is a poster child for Republican political sleaze. He got not one, but two sweetheart deals from a Defense Contractor, Mitchell Wade. One was $700,000 in overpayment for the house, based on an estimate by a person who had never before sold a house. The other was the essentially free rent on the yacht in Washingon, D.C. Wades' business took off right after the purchase of Cunninghams' home.

Then there was the clear bargain purchase on the home in Rancho Sante fe that the same real estate person brokered for $2.5 million. That was her first ever sale as a real estate person, the price was sharply below what smaller homes in the same area were going for, and it was purchased from an individual currently under indictment and waiting trial for fraud.

This is another example of the Republican sale of the government to the highest bidders. Cunningham got greedy and sloppy.

I wonder if Tom DeLay returns his phone calls?

Friday, June 24, 2005

From Billmon - Next 16 months to be nasty.

Billmon agrees with me that things are going to get and stay nasty.
It's hard to see how Rove and the gang can expect to sit down and negotiate seriously with the Democrats over Social Security after launching what looks to be a sustained PR campaign denouncing them as traitors and/or terrorist dupes. My guess is that the decision to launch Operation Scapegoat was based, at least in part, on a hardheaded calculation by Rove (although maybe not the meathead he works for) that Social Security reform is effectively dead, leaving only the question of how to position the GOP for the inevitable fallout.

The Rovian strategy, it appears, is to try to label the Democrats as "obstructionists." It's pretty a weak line, given the complete lack of a popular groundswell of support for trashing the existing Social Security system, but it at least keeps the GOP on the offensive, which is where Rove always wants to be.

The Dems-as-traitors meme is simply an attempt to extend the same strategy to the disaster in Iraq. Obviously, the Rovians would like to focus the debate on "liberal" attempts to expose or question the administration's policies -- such as the use of "practices tantamount to torture" -- rather than on the abject failure of those policies.

But once it becomes clear Rove has elected the path of total confrontation, all along the line, there will be no further incentive for the average hack GOP congress critter to put his or her neck on that line in order to advance the more controversial items (Social Security, a flat tax) on Bush's domestic agenda -- especially if the Democrats can remain relatively (i said relatively!) united.

Once set in motion, in other words, the strategy is largely self-reinforcing. Rove must be aware of that, which in turn must mean he's content to remain in campaign mode -- feeding a steady diet of red meat to the base and vicious lies to the public -- until November 2006.

It appears the next 16 months in American politics are going to be particularly ugly -- even by Rovian standards.

I was part-way there when I wrote the previous blog but I don't think I really wanted to see how bad it is going to get.

The Supreme Court nomination this Summer will be brutal. Bush is angry that he is being balked on Social Security and on John Bolton. Bush (and Rove and Cheney) hate being balked. They will react as they normally do and take revenge on those who got in the way. This time it will be the entire Democratic Party. To make their revenge satisfactory, the Supreme Court nominee will have as unappetizing as possible to the Democrats. Then Bush will try to shove whoever it is down their throats. The Republicans will pretend it is part of an overall strategy to govern, but it won't be. The basic reason is going to be revenge.

The only satisfactory revenge will be for the Democrats to grovel. Grovelling will destroy the Democratic Party, and I don't see Harry Reid or Howard Dean grovelling for the Bush people.

So we ain't seen ugly yet. But we will. And soon.

Hutchinson Supports Rove's remarks

The American Prospect "...called the offices of every Republican senator and asked their press staff the following: "Does Karl Rove speak for Senator X in his recent comments on liberals and September 11?" [...]

Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s staff told us she agrees with Rove’s remarks"

Well, now we know where she stands.

Bush is psychotic. The Dems must fight him tooth and nail.

The following is my comment on digby's blog. Digby's blog is the one I blogged on in my previous blog.

Bush is in trouble in the polls, especially over the War in Iraq. He is also looking at the Supreme Court nomination this Summer, and if he stays in trouble, he won't be able to get his truly obnoxious candidate through the Senate. That is what the whole filibuster and John Bolton things have been about.

If the Dems roll over for the garbage coming up the party is dead meat.

You (Digby) also are correct when you point to Russ Baker's article saying that Bush needed a War to become a great President.

Bush has had a habit from the early in his political life of taking a list of alternatives and deciding on the most extreme choice with the greatest possible favorable result. The likelihood of success for that decision is irrelevant, because in his grandiosity, Bush thinks that he will always be able to make the decision work. He therefore ignores the odds against that extreme decision.

This plays right into Bush's grandiosity in intending to be a great President. Invading Iraq based on the PNAC and the promises of Ahmed Chalabi is a decision of that type. It also explains why there were no plans for what would happen during the occupation. As far as Bush is concerned, all he has to do is decide something will be done, and lesser beings will carry out his will. (Again, grandiosity.)

He does not see his legacy as a result of being popular. He sees it as revamping American society (hence Social Security phase out) and leaving a socially conservative Supreme Court that will last for a generation.

Rove and Cheney have also bought into that fantasy.

The Democrats have to stop trying to deal with the White House as though the incumbent is a sane person. He is not. He is a dry-drunk with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, totally lacking in empathy and suffering from severe grandiosity.

What are Rove and the Republicans up to?

Digby has an interesting take on the Rove statement. It was not a mistake on Rove's part.
"I watched the Rove interview on Scarborough last night and it's quite clear that this is a coordinated public relations "rollout." The Bush administration clearly believes that creating this controversy will result in turning down the heat on Iraq and boosting their prospects on other issues. I think they are counting on the press and the distracted public to see "partisanship" running amuck, which is how the Republicans have already positioned themselves for the '06 elections. Bush and his speech condemning the Democrats as the "party of the stop sign" has already laid out the roadmap. But the immediate agenda is to rile up the base with red meat attacks on "liberals," re-brand Democrats as wimps on national security and intimidate ... wavering Republicans."
This explains why the Republicans en masse are refusing to back away from Rove's statement. The Monterey Herald published the following AP report:
Republicans, meanwhile, have recently condemned House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for calling the Iraq War a "grotesque mistake," and demanded and finally got an apology from Durbin for his linking detainee abuse and Nazis.

And they were unapologetic about Rove's comments.

Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman, speaking in Puerto Rico, said there was no need to apologize because "what Karl Rove said is true." White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, asked about the Rove dispute on CNN, noted, "We have seen pretty hot rhetoric from both sides of the aisle lately."

White House communications director Nicolle Devenish said Rove was speaking "very broadly about the liberal movement" and that he never referred to Democrats. "I think the Democrats are misguided in their attacks on Karl Rove," she said.

Increasing public doubts about the Iraq war have emboldened Democrats to challenge the president's policies. Republicans, in turn, contend that criticism undermines the war on terror.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican running for re-election in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, issued a statement urging both sides to keep politics out of the war on terrorism. "We owe it to those we lost to keep partisan politics out of the discussion and keep alive the united spirit that came out of 9/11," he said.
Digby think this is part of a plan by Rove to throw raw meat to the Republican base on the assumption that a revved up base give the public the impression that the Republicans are unstoppable. Then this Summer Bush is going to nominate a totally unacceptable candidate for supreme Court Chief Justice.

The timing on this Rovian statement is because Bush's polls are dropping over the Iraq War. They have to get those polls either up or made irrelevant before the Supreme Court nomination occurs. At the moment they are losing Republicans, so the strong attack on the Democrats is intended to counter that.

This is just a salvo in what is going to be a really hot Summer. When Bush gets into trouble he responds by becoming extremely nasty and pushing the limits of both legality and morality.

If the Democrats respond in kind, as they must if not to be painted as wimps, the media is going to be in a state of shock and the public is going to be saying that all politicians are nasty.

Look for nasy weather ahead.

The difference between Durbin and Rove

Peter Daou over at Salon clearly explains the difference between what Sen. Durbin stated last week about the FBI reported torture in Guantanamo and what Karl Rove said this week about Liberals after 9/11.
I'll keep it simple: I challenge any of those outraged by Durbin to demonstrate that the senator, in his heart of hearts, thinks our troops are Nazis. It's painfully obvious that he was illustrating a point and used a hyperbolic analogy. In Durbin's case the outrage is feigned, and a political tool. It defies common sense to think Durbin actually believes "all US troops are Nazis." Now the same reasoning doesn't hold true for Rove, who expressed a thought that actually is widely held on the right: that liberals can't or won't defend America. Despite the sheer imbecility of it, many on the right really believe it to be true
If there ever was a clear reason to remove the Republicans from political office everywhere, the two faces that should be placed on that reason are Karl Rove and James Dobson.

Of course, I would also add Congressmen Bob Ney, Randy "Duke"Cunningham, and Tom DeLay together with Dick Cheney. John Bolton seems to fit the same mold. Then there is Ralph Reed, and Newt Gingrich. Oh, and let's not forget Senators Rick Santorum and Trent Lott. Senator John Cornyn is the least liked Senator of the 100 Senators in the U.S. Senate, but that is merely being unlikable. He has no record of accomplishment, either favorable or unfavorable.

Where do they get these people??

Dems look good in governorships

Ruy Teixeira at the Emerging Democratic Majority paints a rather pleasant picture of the prospects for Democrats winning the governorships of New York, California, Ohio and Massachusetts.

Since those states include 40% of the population, Democrats should be in position to win the gerrymandering battles in 2010. He doesn't suggest any mid-decade gerrymanders of the type the Republicans have been forcing through. This may change the problem of the Republican advantage on the national electoral system.

Wish he had similar kind words for Texas. That's going to take longer.

Considering the gerrymandering situation along with the problems the Republicans are having with the war in Iraq, congressional ethics problems and the selling of government to the lobbyists and backlash against the social Republican attacks on the Judiciary and the Constitution, we may see another two generations in which the Republicans are locked out of control of the federal government.

For the long term, however, the international decline of America will continue no matter which party is in power. The Republican missteps in the last five years are only speeding up the inevitable process. Terrorism will continue to be a problem, but the largest issues will revolve around the collapse of the American University systems as competitive institutions internationally and the rise of China as the international economic powerhouse to replace what America was in the twentieth century. Deal with globalism will be the central issue for the next five decades.

We really need to get the Republicans out and the adults back into control of the government.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

My letter to Sens. Cornyn and Hutchinson

Senator [Cornyn/Hutchinson],

I have read Karl Roves' statement today that "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.

Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

I am retired military and a liberal. Besides the fact that Rove's statements are insulting and Un-American, they are pure McCarthyism. He is being divisive when America needs to be unified in the face of terrorism and the nasty blow-back caused by attacking Iraq with inadequate troops and then disbanding the Iraqi Army.

Does Karl Rove speak for you?

Richard Brewer

My letter to Senator Durbin

sent may 23, 2005 by email

Senator Durbin,

Your statement that the behaviors of the guards at Guantanamo resemble the actions of guards in the Gulag or the Nazi camps was completely correct. It took nearly ten years for the Nazis to move from internment camps with disorganized beatings to the organized torture and death camps for which they are justly infamous. This administration is merely in the early stages. Americans will stop them before they reach the extremes.

The mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo and abu Ghraib is counterproductive and un-American. The problem is not that a few rogue elements went beyond guidelines. Like the Nazi guards, the more zealous of the guards are going the direction that their leaders guide them.

This is not a problem of the troops. This is a problem of the leadership, and in particular it is a problem caused by the current political leadership of the U.S.

What you said was not wrong. It was your apology for the statement that was wrong.

Your apology, backing down from a statement that may have been inartfully presented, is what was wrong. You permitted Karl Rove to make his inflammatory statements to the New York Conservative Party.
I have had enough of the lily-livered cowardly Democratic responses to the nasty McCarthyite attacks of the Republicans. Either go after those SOBs for their un-American behavior, or resign and find a real Democrat who will fight for the America we are losing to the conservatives.

Do you get it??

Richard Brewer.

Fire Karl Rove

Here is a petition to sign demanding that Karl Rove be fired for his divisive, inflammatory and unamerican remarks. Karl Rove is a danger to America and needs to be removed from public activity.

Sign the petition

Pharmacists to quit working

If pharmacists decide they can't dispense prescribed medications because if violates their consciences, then what do we need them for??

This from Steve Gilliard

By Peggy Peck, Senior Editor, MedPage Today
June 20, 2005

CHICAGO, June 20-The American Medical Association's policy-making body voted today to press for state laws that would allow physicians to dispense medications when there is no nearby pharmacist willing to dispense the prescribed drugs.

The new AMA policy is an attempt to overcome what doctors say is a stampede of pharmacists who say they cannot in good conscience dispense certain medications. The issue of conscientious refusal was first raised when some pharmacists refused to fill prescriptions for the emergency contraception pill, called Plan B. Additionally some pharmacists refused to fill prescriptions for birth control pills.

But AMA delegates say the conscience-based refusals have now spread to psychotropic drugs and pain medications. The new AMA policy states that doctors should be allowed to dispense medications when there is no "willing pharmacist available within a 30 mile radius." That change would require change in state laws regulating both doctors and pharmacists.

The AMA House of Delegates' action went beyond initiatives that had been discussed at reference committee hearings.The doctors say that many pharmacists compound their refusal to fill prescriptions by not returning the unfilled prescriptions to patients, thereby stymieing efforts to turn to other pharmacists.

"It's not just contraceptives," said Mary Frank, M.D., a family physician from Mill Valley, Calif., during a discussion of the issue. "It's pain medications and psychotropics. And not only are the patients not getting prescriptions filled, but pharmacists are refusing to return the prescriptions and they are lecturing the patients about the drugs."

If the pharmacists are going to decide whether they WANT to dispense medications prescribed by licensed physicians, what do we need pharmacists for? We can just let the physicians prescribe the medications themselves.

Then the conscience-stricken ass-holes pharmacists can go find jobs that don't impinge on their tender little consciences. Nor will they screw up other people's lives.

Go read "The Bible Girl."

Amy Sullivan is blogging at Beliefnet. This looks like a short-term opportunity. Don't miss it.

How crooked is the Republican Party?

As is becoming more obvious every day, it is crooked from top to bottom. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Tom DeLay are just the tip of the iceberg. Go look at Bullmoose where he describes the lobbying scams pulled by superlobbyist Jack Abramoff (close frind of DeLay.) together with his partner and former spokesman for Tom DeLay, Michael Scanlon. Here is a fun statement from the Washington Post:

In three hours yesterday, Dorgan and John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, quizzed witnesses on what the lawmakers described as an elaborate web of fraud and greed -- "even by Washington standards," as Dorgan unkindly put it.

There were phony grass-roots Christian groups. Phony billing statements. Nonprofits with phony purposes. And, perhaps phoniest of all, a "premiere international think tank" called the American International Center, directed by two boyhood friends of Abramoff partner Michael Scanlon: yoga instructor Brian Mann and lifeguard-cum-excavator David Grosh.

Bullmoose also refers to the Washinton Post Article in which Ralph Reed (in addition to the Weekly Standard, here is Wikipedia on Ralph Reed) has been caught lying about whether he knew the $4 million he got from the Abramov/Scanlon scams came from funds the Chocktaw Indians were directed to donate as part of the requirements to get favorable legislation for their casinos. Here is a good quote:

Material released yesterday also appeared to undermine assertions by former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed, now a candidate for Georgia lieutenant governor.

Reed has acknowledged receiving $4 million from Abramoff and Scanlon to run anti-gambling campaigns in the South. Reed has said he did not know where the funds were coming from, but e-mails suggest that he was aware that some of the money he was getting came from the casino-rich Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Other e-mails presented at the hearing -- obtained from Abramoff's former law firm, Greenberg Traurig LLP -- showed that Abramoff and his lobbying team discussed how they would "pump up" their bills and expense accounts to the Choctaws by tens of thousands of dollars a month, raising new questions about the law firm's failure to rein in the lobbyists.

This is just a couple of crooks who went off the reservation, right?? No, this is standard Republican practice! Again, Bullmoose directs us to the truth. Do you want to get rich? Go to Washington as a Republican K-Street lobbyist. Here is the Washington Post article he refers to. It is called "The Road to Riches Is Called K Street

Karl Rove is a threat to American Values

Karl Rove wants to inflame conservatives against Democrats. He'll say anything, do anything, to achieve his goals. Josh Marshall responds to the New York Times report of Rove's anti-American remarks.

Karl accuses Democrats of not wanting to attack his partners, al qaeda, after 9/11. Yet Karl and his puppet Bush have done everything they could to impede capture of bin Laden so that they could carry out their utterly useless and stupid war in Iraq - a war in Iraq that they preemptively started with application of the Big Lie Technique.

Somehow, Karl seems to think that the appropriate reaction to 9/11 is to destroy Iraq and the U.S. military, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. His smears against Democrats are lies designed to shift blame for the utter incompetence the Bush administration had demonstrated in every decision they have made.

Then the gutter-slime named Karl Rove has the utter gall to blame Sen. Durbin for placing American troops in greater danger by criticizing the President's directed torture of prisoners in Guantanamo as demonstrated by reports from the FBI. So Karl is unhappy that al Jeezera is carrying Sen. Durbins' remarks on the illegal and useless behavior torturing prisoners in Guantanamo. Did he similarly complain that al Jezeera was carrying the pictures of the torture the U.S. government practiced at White House and Pentagon direction in abu Ghraib?

Karl Rove is a greater threat to America than any terrorist living! He is working hard to destroy everything America stands for just so that he can gain personal power and power for his sainted conservative movement. He doesn't seem to mind getting rich as he does it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Mitchell Wade resigns as CEO of MZM

Mitchell Wade, who has become well known as the CEO of the Defense Contractor MZM and who has rather clearly donated $700,000 to Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham for reasons that no one is admitting, has resigned as CEO of MZM.

The San Diego Union-Tribune also reports that during the Spring of 2002 he invited employees in and told them to write checks to his PAC or be fired. The PAC provided funds to Congressman Cunningham and other Republican politicians. It is illegal to force people to donate political funds under threat.

Besides soliciting bribes from Defense contractors, Randy Cunningham is also the main Congressman in the house pushing the anti-flag-burning Constitutional amendment.

Downing Street Memos expose "Big Lie" used to start the war in Iraq.

What do the Downing Street Memos (DSM) tell us about our government and the war in Iraq?

We were "had" by Bush and Cheney. They wanted a war in Iraq, so what did they do? They told the lie that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that he had connections to terrorists. They told the set of lies as often as possible, shouting as loudly as they could and ignored any and all statements that would debunk the lie. That is a classic application of the Big Lie Technique.

Here is a definition and description of Big Lie from Wikipedia.

Big Lie refers to a propaganda tool used by the Nazis, which refers to the tactic that a lie, told often enough and shouted loudly enough, ignoring any and all statements that debunk the lie, will eventually be believed by the masses.

The Big Lie technique refers to attempts by propagandists to use the frequent emphatic repetition of a lie as a means to get people to believe it. Though certainly a propaganda technique the Nazis engaged in quite frequently, it is by no means isolated to Nazis or to totalitarian systems, as we can see many employments of this technique even today in modern politics, and on talk radio.

Frequently attributed to Joseph Goebbels, the oft-cited "Big Lie Theory" also may have been Adolf Hitler's explanation for how people came to believe that Germany lost World War I in the field -- a "big lie" which Hitler attributed to Jewish influence on the press.

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." - Joseph Goebbels

Now we are in the stage in which the Republicans are working to repress dissent. This is from Molly Ivins.

The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have all gone way out of their way to deny that the Downing Street Memos (it's now plural) are news.
The right-wing bloggers are also working hard to denigrate the DSMs. Here are Powerline and The Strata-sphere as examples. They try to throw questions up about the sources, and totally ignore what the DSMs say. People who bought the original lies are going to feel upset if they decide they were fooled, so they will be easily swayed by such weak attempts to destroy the validity of the DSMs.

The question now is how long it will be until the facts stated in the DSMs destroy the lies the Republicans have been telling. My bet is that this will occur before the 2006 elections.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Republicans have a permanent lock on the electoral system. What will happen next?

Right now the Republicans have a lock on the U.S. electoral system. They can concentrate minorities in key locations so that they elect more representatives than do the Democrats. This is in spite of the fact that they have a minority of the total population as voters and that trends are against them.

How bad is it, and what is likely to happen in the future? Billmon has a superb analysis of the situation, with comparison to both the 19th Century British system and the more recent Japanese election system. He plays off the article from Donkey Rising and the article in Mother Jones.

Go read Billmon. He makes a lot of sense, and I can't add to what he says.

Why did Bush want war in Iraq?

Here is the answer given by Russ Baker based on interviews with people who know George Bush.
Bush wanted a war so that he could build the political capital necessary to achieve his domestic agenda and become, in his mind, "a great president." Blair and the members of his cabinet, unaware of the Herskowitz conversations, placed Bush's decision to mount an invasion in or about July of 2002. But for Bush, the question that summer was not whether, it was only how and when. The most important question, why, was left for later.
The Downing Street Memos clearly establish that he wanted to invade Iraq as early as March, 2002. There are news reports that he wanted to invade Iraq days after 9/11 even before the perpetrators of 9/11 were clearly identified.

Russ Baker in an earlier article reported that Mickey Herskowitz, a well-known Houston reporter and ghostwriter for celebrities told him the following based on Herskowitz' 1999 interview with G. W, Bush:
“He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.

Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father’s shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. “Suddenly, he’s at 91 percent in the polls, and he’d barely crawled out of the bunker.”
This explains the very poor and clearly contrived reasons given for the invasion of Iraq, even though the invasion drew resources needed badly in Afghanistan. The invasion of Iraq was clearly a decision made to take advantage of the opportunity that 9/11 gave Bush. The reasons presented for the invasion have obviously been dredged up after the decision was made.

It explains the timing of the Iraqi invasion. It was more than just the need to influence the 2002 elections. It was part of a larger plan. It explains the refusal to deal with other nations or the UN to try to resolve the problems with Iraq. Such solutions would not lead to Glory for Bush as President.

The only argument against such motivations are that no normal human being could be so insane as to start an unnecessary war in order to be viewed as a successful President. The insanity, horror, and stupidity of such an idea makes it immediately obvious that such a war in Iraq for domestic political reasons could not possibly succeed.

Nothing in Bush's history indicates that he would view it like a normal human being would. His choice of Dick Cheney as his vice President and his isolation from normal people in fact suggest that this is an idea that Bush would easily adopt. It would suggest that he suffers from a level of grandiosity that is truly psychopathic.

But I don't think he intended for Iraq to be a large war. Russ Baker also reports in his earlier article:
The notion that President Bush held unrealistic or naïve views about the consequences of war was further advanced recently by a Bush supporter, the evangelist Pat Robertson, who revealed that Bush had told him the Iraq invasion would yield no casualties.
I see no reason at all to doubt this article. It explains too much.

For more on the Downing Street Memos and how the decision to invade Iraq was made see also:

The Brits knew the al Queda-Iraq connection was a crock.

The latest reports out of Britain show that the British government was fully aware that the Bush administrations' case for war in Iraq was a total crock. The recent reports referenced by Kevin Drum at The Political Animal all show that the Brits knew there was "No recent evidence." "Frankly unconvincing." "No credible evidence." "Facts were being fixed."

It is no wonder that the Bush administration is the most secretive in American history. They are wrong or lying on so many things that they fear the complaints if people received decent reports on how completely incompetent they are.

More on buying the Republican Congress

Josh Marshall provides more information on which Congresspeople Mitchell Wade was donating to besides Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Rep. Virgil Goode (Republican, 5th District, Virginia) and Rep. Katherine Harris (Republican, 13th District, Florida) also got good sums.

Like Cunningham, Goode had the power to shift government contracts to Mitchell Wade. But what did Katherine Harris have to sell?

Here is a paragraph in Josh Marshall's report that I find interesting:
There's also this intriguing nugget: "A third former employee of MZM described being rounded up along with other employees one afternoon in the company's Washington headquarters and told to write a check with the political recipient standing by. The former employee didn't give the name of the politician receiving the donations."

Remember when Republicans argued that Unions were acting unfairly when they use a part of union dues for political purposes? I doubt that Mitchell Wade was asking anyone if they wanted to donate to Republican candidates. It was a case of "Write the check to the candidate of my choice if you like to keep your job."

The Republican Congress is a bought-and-paid for subsidiary of large corporate business. Just ask Tom DeLay.

See also Crooks in congress and More Republican criminal wrong-doing.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Mainstream media, the blogs, and news judgment

In the past a news story has had about 24 hours to break out and become important. If it didn't break out in that 24 hours, it died with no hope of recovery.

That was yesterday. Yesterday ended about two years ago when Josh Marshall (Talking points Memo) kept blogging on the dead-story of Trent Lott and his statement That America would be much better off today if Strom Thurmond had become President in 1948 on a segregationist ticket. Today, instead of being the Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott is a back-bench Senator carping about what real Senators do. TPM kept an important story alive and forced the mainstream media to look at it again.

Blogs are the new appeals court for what is news. Read Jay Rosen for a good description of what blogs are doing to (and for) journalism.

In my opinion, one of the greatest failures of the modern American mainstream media is its total inability to pick up on news from outside the U.S. Blogs such as The EuroTrib will make that a lot more difficult for the American media to carry off.

ADDENDUM June 21, 2005
Here is another discussion of the power of the blogs in politics at BELTWAY BLOGROLL - The Power Of The Blog.

Gee. Are the conservatives as bad as Nazis?

Look at the campaign of lies and blame they are orchestrating. Joseph Goebbels would be proud! Go see Billmon.

Lies, torture, abandoning habeas corpus, attacking nations which have done nothing to the U.S., more lies --- all that's missing is the black uniforms and the deaths head insignia, and they may have that hidden in their closets to bring out when the time is right. Kristallnacht, anyone?

Can anyone believe the Bush Administration?

Think you can believe the official statements from the White House?
  • Not on the effects of cattle grazing on public lands.
  • Not on bacteria given off by hogs that make people ill.
  • Not on the links between emissions and global warming.
  • Not on air quality at Ground Zero of the WTC.
  • Not on the toxicity of mercury.
  • Not on the effectiveness of condoms in disease prevention.
  • Non on a scientific analysis that concludes that abortions do not increase a woman?s risk of breast cancer.
  • Not on reliable scientific information that gives information on the spread of HIV.
  • Not on the fact that children under 2 years of age are 10 times more likely to get cancer from certain chemicals than adults who are similarly exposed.
  • Not on Dr. Blackburn's dissenting opinion on stem cell research.
  • Not if it calls for the EPA to regulate Halliburton's oil-drilling technique that can contaminate drinking water supplies with carcinogens. Such a technique is required by law to be regulated by the EPA. It isn't being regulated at this time and the government won't answer questions about why not.
  • Not on the effects of oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge .

This is reported by Think

This administration has not been honest about anything since Bush took office in 2001. There is no telling how many decades it will take for American to recover from this administration.

Lessons from Batman Begins

Stephen Burt over at Huffington Post has apparently had the time to go see "Batman Begins" and to actually take lessons from it.

It is a surprisingly interesting list. Go look at it.

Question: Would Batman vote Republican or Democratic today??

My apologies for my absence

If anyone was looking for my postings this weekend and missed them (Hi Mom), I have been prevented from doing them.

Sorry. My computer died a strange, painful, jerky death.

This is now a cheap workaround and may last until I get my next meager check, July 1st. But such as it is, I have returned!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Are the Downing Street Memos the new "Pentagon Papers?"

Read this excellent Editor & Publisher article on the importance of the Downing Street Memos.

Ralph Reed. Christian. Candidate. Crook.

Ralph Reed is running for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor of Georgia. Looks like it will be an interesting race. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published an open letter asking him to withdraw from the race. Matthew Continetti has an interesting article in the Weekly Standard on his candidacy.

He is quite typical of the activists the republican Party has been training for the last two decades.

Why is Congress becoming more involved in the Downing Street Memos?

Josh Marshall presents a really interesting comment from the Nelson Report. Here is a part of his comment that really interests me:

We can report, not as a partisan, but as an observer who happened to be working for a Congressman deeply involved in the Pentagon Papers fight of 1971, that old hands note eerie similarities to the start-up process of questions raised, and the potential for Congress to become more seriously involved.
He also suggests that Congress is in the process of getting more involved in the following questions:
DOD Secretary Rumsfeld’s pre-positioning of thousands of troops and large stores of equipment, months before the final decision was made; the top-level White House involvement in the “torture memo” process that led directly to the international humiliation of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, despite internal warnings from then-Secretary of State Powell and Deputy Secretary Armitage.

Since this administration is so clearly incompetent at running government, these are all very significant questions. The secrecy, lies and unresponsiveness to media questions they have not planted themselves are all symptoms of that incompetence and their recognition that they are aware many strongly disagree with them.

The members of the administration and their allies naturally believe (like most psychopaths) that anyone who disagrees with them must be wrong. Since they are worng, they are using those disagreements as political weapons. That makes those disagreeing people nothing more than enemies, not honorable opponents. The Bush people and conservatives are so certain that they recognize all truth that they cannot admit to being wrong.

The Republican leaders of Congress are not yet ready to give up the power they have with party control of both major branches of government, so they are putting up with the administration's incompetence. But the failure of the war in Iraq, its obvious lack of connection with the so-called War on Terror, and the stalling of the President's Social Security initiative all lead the more intelligent members of Congress to questioning whether the U.S. can really afford another three plus years of this incompetence.

This administrations' only defenses against these questions are tactical politics and administrative efforts to conceal the worst of the mistakes they have made. Reagan faced a similar crisis with Iraq-gate and the arms-for-hostages mess in the last two years of his second term, but Congress did not have to face an election before Reagan left office. They could let the problems ride. Besides, it was the Democrats who controlled Congress then, so they were distanced from the problems.

A Republican-controlled Congress that has to face the electorate in 2006 may not be able to face just letting the Bush administration drift to ignominiousius end the way the Reagan administration did.

Since the Bush administration has the habit of getting really nasty when it is pushed to the wall, this next sixteen months is likely to get really, really harsh.

Clear case of Fragging Reported

All of the reports of the high morale of the troops have been noted, and probably are true. But they are probably a lot less true for National Guard units. Now we get a report from the LA Times of a Sergeant First Class fragging his commanding officer.

As was usual in Viet Nam, this is a support unit, not a combat unit. This is another indicator that Bush and Rumsfeld has destroyed our Army Reserves and Guard with repeated deployments and stop-loss orders, also known as the Back Door Draft. The only thing that is surprising about this is that it has been reported to the public.

This incident is really sad. Not surprising, but really sad. It is the direct responsibility of conservative Republicans who have been enamored with the so-called American status as "The Superpower."

Direct responsibility? The SFC who fragged his commander, of course. But behind him is Sec of Defense Rumsfeld who overrode his military advisors when they told him and Congress that more troops would be required in Iraq after combat operations were over.

Also responsible is George W. Bush. "W" is an ignorant, biased man who had the advantages of wealth, family and personal social skills that allowed him to be made into a superb politician. Unfortunately, he knows nothing about society in general, government or the process of governing. Those were subjects that simply never interested him, and he learned nothing that did not interest him. His drug and alcohol abuse in the past clearly indicates that he had and currently has emotional problems. When, very likely through his ineptitude in managing government and the attitude of his government team that anything the Clinton administration had done was wrong, he permitted 9/11 to occur, he had no idea what to do. His only experience in the military was as a technician trained to fly an aircraft, and he ducked out on that. So it is obvious that he turned to the ex-Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney.

Dick Cheney is one of the PaleoConservatives whose clearest characteristic is that they are interested primarily in power and military force. When 9/11 occurred, and Bush was floundering for a response, he had one. Send in the military. Since the entire Bush team agreed with G. W. Bush that one of his father's major mistakes was to fail to finish the job in Iraq and because the 9/11 attack was clearly a terrorist attack on America by an Islamic cult, the entire Presidential team focused on the opportunity to use the military on the Arabs in the Middle East.

The refusal to consider foreign assistance against the terrorists after 9/11 and the ill advised invasion of Iraq, together with the refusal to manage government properly to pay for the war they started, all have led to the destruction of our military forces. The failure to get out of Iraq or expand the military to adequately handle the occupation have put severe strains on the members of the military and especially on the Guard and Reserve. These unfair strains on our military set the conditions in which some individual who is pushed beyond his limits feels his only solution is to kill his commanding officer.

Actually, the members of the Bush Administration should understand him and empathize with his actions. It was the fact that they were so totally out of their depth when Osama bin Laden sent the planes against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (as the representative institutions of America) that led them to a very similar irrational lashing out against anyone who might be related to the enemies who attacked America.

I wonder how many more people will have to die before the Bush administration admits how badly they have screwed everything up and returns control of America to the adults? Whenever, it is now too late for Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez, Capt. Phillip T. Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis E. Allen.

Iraq-Gate? Will Bush resign to give Republicans an advantage in the 2008 Presidential election?

This is beginning to remind me of the orchestrated events that led to Richard Nixon's resignation as President.

Bush Seeks to Calm Anxieties About Iraq AP Thur, June 16th 6:30 PM.

Democrats Urge Inquiry on Bush, Iraq AP Thur June 16th 6:31 PM.

According to Wikipedia, On October 10, 1973 Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President because he took a $20,000 bribe as Maryland Governor. Agnew resigned and then plead nolo contendere (no contest) to a criminal charge of tax evasion, part of a scheme where he allegedly accepted $29,500 in bribes during his tenure as governor of Maryland. Agnew was fined $10,000 and put on three years' probation. He was later disbarred by the State of Maryland.

In fact, many of us suspected that he resigned because the Republican Party realized that raising him to President after a Nixon resignation or impeachment would be taking the Nixon Watergate situation and making it even worse for the Republicans.

Dick Cheney is crooked and unlikable, but at least he is not as stupid as Agnew was. His acceptability as the replacement to a disgraced G. W. Bush is in doubt, much as was the acceptability of Spiro Agnew. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House and next in line after the Vice President is not a lot better. He just isn't as well known.

Cheney's heart is bad, so if he DOES remain as the new President after Bush's resignation or impeachment, it will be clear he will not run for election in 2008.

That suggests that the Republicans will rally around Dick Cheney, and appoint someone like Rudy Guiliani as Vice President with the hope that he will be able to use the power of incumbency to retain the Presidency for the Republicans in 2008.

Not a very attractive option for most of us.

American Press reaction to the Downing Street Memos

Why did the press not react initially to the Downing street Memo that essentially state that the head of British MI6 knew in July 2002 that the Bush administration had decided on war in Iraq and was going to "fix" the intelligence to convince people to support the war?

I think the answer is that the Press felt they had already adequately documented the lies of the Bush administration, they expected more lies (like the documents that Burned CBS over Bush's failure to complete his National Guard service,) they consider documenting Bush Administration lies to be bad for the bottom line, and they expected lies out of the Blair government to match those from the Bush administration.

Americans know the nature of this administration. The Republicans in the White House lie. The Republicans in the Congress lie. They have a whole large media wing of liars and propaganda shills out there lying for them, including FOX, The American Standard, National Review and the Moonie Times. They lie blatantly, and they lie subtly. They have made a high art of ensuring that everyone in the government conforms to their lies, and they have made an equally high art of silencing and ridiculing their critics outside government. All of this is quite well-known.

It is a common game to read the transcripts of White House press conferences to see if any Reporter actually asks a newsworthy question, how Press Secretary Scott McClelland will avoid answering it, and if there is any actual followup. Those events are so rare as to be newsworthy in themselves. Scott is given extra credit for adroit lies that are more than just old ones repeated. The Press is not expected to ask followup questions since that might make the White House angry.

Of course, the Press conferences are only the beginning of the administration lies. The former chief of staff to President BushÂ’s Council on Environmental Quality, Philip Cooney, quit and went to work for Exxon-Mobil, the well-known opponent of everything related to Global Warming, two days after it was learned that he has been rewriting the governments' scientific reports to remove all conclusions that human activity led to Global Warming.

Everyone knows that the speech that Secretary of State Colin Powell made to the UN to justify the invasion of Iraq was a set of lies. There have been no doubts of its lack of honesty. The only questions have been about who was responsible for inserting the lies that Powell presented to the UN.

Recently, in the effort to get the Patriot Act provisions madepermanentt the administration has stated "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted." but the Washington Post has looked at those charges and convictions and reported "But the numbers are misleading at best.

"An analysis of the Justice Department's own list of terrorism prosecutions by The Washington Post shows that 39 people -- not 200, as officials have implied -- were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security."

These are just a very few examples. Everyone expects this administration and anyone connected to them to lie, lie, and lie some more. They have an assembly line of lies and nothing else.

So when the head of British Foreign Intelligence, MI6, is reported as saying July 23, 2002 "C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action." the American Press had two reactions.

First what the "So? We knew that even before Congress voted to let Bush have his war." so what is the News here?

Second, the news media also realized that Blair was as deeply involved in lying to start the war as Bush was. He and his government supported and still support the Bushadministrationn and they lied and continue to lie to support the war in Iraq. Why should anything out of the Blair government be trusted any more thanmaterialn out of the Bush administration?

It is apparent that the newsmedia do not consider themselves out there to teach the public anything. They are not leaders. At best, they will ascertain what they think the public wants to know, and then try to find that out if they can do so cheaply.

So the answer to my question is that the American media did not consider the Downing Street Memo all that newsworthy because they felt it added little new to the debate, the decision to preemptively invade Iraq is old news, the sources were as likely to be out to burn the media as provide information, and they perceived no great clamor from the public to look more deeply into the allegations the DSM made. There may also have been a bit of American isolationism there, also. This was a report from outside the United States about the actions of the U.S. government. Jingoism mixes with the"Not in My Backyard" syndrome.