Friday, July 09, 2004

Dubya Asks: Ken Lay Who?

A mountain of BS flowed from the White House yesterday in the wake of former Enron CEO and Bush crony Ken Lay's indictment on numerous charges of fraud. Reducing Kenny Boy's relationship with Dubya to that of "a supporter in the past" who hasn't been in touch with the President in "quite some time," Scott McClellan did his best to sweep under the rug the evidence that this crook is a big time Bush crony.

McClellan even went so far as to try to dirty Democrats in the Enron mud, saying that Lay "has certainly supported Democrats" as well as the GOP. But the facts don't really support that. It's true that Ken Lay and his wife gave $86,470 to Democratic candidates from during the nineties, but during the same time, they gave $796,110 to Republicans. More specifically, Lay gave Bush $139,500. On top of that, Lay and his wife donated $100,000 in 2001 to help pay for Bush's inaugural.

So let's get this straight... In one year, for one event, Ken Lay gave George W. Bush $13,530 more than he'd given all Democrats combined over the course of a decade, but Lay is supposedly not partial to one party over another? Wow! Fuzzy math and fuzzy logic all in one.

Bush, for his part, has kept quiet on Lay's indictment. Actually, he's pretty much stonewalled the media on the matter, refusing to answer any questions (maybe he wants his lawyer present?) and sulking off stage when the questions persist.

Even the ultra-conservative New York Post called bullshit on Bush, pointing out that Lay was "a sometime pal of President Bush -- who called him 'Kenny Boy'." Okay, so they spun it a bit, but at least they were factually correct!

Perhaps the most absurd claim made by anyone, either in the media or in government, concerning the Lay controversy is the Boston Herald's "CEO tied to Kerrys, too".

Talk about a stretch -- Teresa Heinz and John Kerry owned $250,000 worth of Enron stock before the company imploded. Even more dastardly, Kerry received a $1,000 donation from an Enron executive in late 2001, which he returned. So they got screwed by the Enron collapse as shareholders, refused a donation from someone at the company, and this is somehow guilt by association?

It gets better... It turns out that Teresa served on the board of the Heinz Center with Ken Lay "even after he was implicated in the alleged fraud."


I suppose Teresa should have resigned her position on the board of her former husband's family charity in protest of the Enron debacle? WHAT?!?! The "connection" is absolute nonsense.

For a while now, I've been asking myself what it would take for the American people to wake up and realize that the Bush administration and their flunkies in the media are doing the best they can to pull the wool over their eyes. I think I'm finally starting to get my answer. The lies and deceptions are getting more outlandish with each passing day. It's now just a matter of time before this leaky boat goes belly up for good.

posted by Scott | 7/09/2004 | |

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Edwards And Experience

The GOP talking point being shoved down everyone's throats at the moment is the one that says John Edwards is not experienced enough to be Vice President. Well, more specifically, it's that he's not experienced enough to be President and therefore shouldn't be elected Vice President. They're talking about it with such urgency that I'm starting to wonder if the GOP is actually planning on whacking Kerry if he's elected. Because if not, I'm not quite sure why they're so worried. But I digress.

Once again, hypocrisy is proving the order of the day in the RNC. As E.J. Dionne points out in today's Washington Post, it was Bush who was being chided for his lack of experience just over four years ago by fellow Republicans. During a debate in December of 1999, Orrin Hatch hit Bush with an interesting proposition. "Frankly, I really believe that you need more experience before you become president of the United States. That's why I'm thinking of you as a vice presidential candidate."

What was Bush's governmental experience level at that point? He had served as the Governor of Texas for just under five years. During another debate in 1999, Bush explained that he "had foreign policy as the governor of Texas, with Mexico." Fair enough, I suppose...

So what about John Edwards' governmental experience? Interestingly, Edwards has just over five years experience representing North Carolina in the US Senate. In terms of foreign policy experience, Edwards has served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

So when I hear the president blurt out that the difference between Dick Cheney and John Edwards is that "Dick Cheney can be President," I wonder if he knows just how stupid he sounds. By his own criteria, he's not even qualified to be the Vice President!

Besides E.J. Dionne, Rude Pundit points out that Woodrow Wilson, the architect of the League of Nations, had only served as the Governor of New Jersey for two years and that Franklin Roosevelt, the political hero of WWII, had only served as Governor of New York for four years. But then I guess they were not experienced enough to serve as Vice President, either.

It sounds to me like the GOP is pretty damn scared.

posted by Scott | 7/07/2004 | |

The Edwards Bounce

I realize it's probably temporary, but the announcement that John Edwards will be John Kerry's running mate has really tipped the scales in favor of the Dems.

According to a poll conducted for NBC News last night, if the election were held today, Kerry/Edwards would beat Bush/Cheney 49% to 41% with Nader/Camejo running at 4%. In this poll and an overnight Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll, 24% say that the Edwards choice will make them more likely to vote for Kerry.

As Tim Russert pointed out this morning on the Today show, Team W has been saying for quite a long time that their man will finish in November with numbers consistent with his approval rating. At 45%, you start to understand why the GOP is sounding so scared and desperate.

posted by Scott | 7/07/2004 | |

Evil Trial Lawyers?

In the coming days, weeks, and months, we are going to hear a lot of bunk from the GOP and their partners in big business about how trial lawyers like John Edwards are ambulance-chasing, money-grubbing maggots.

From The Washington Monthly by way of Atrios:

The defining case in Edwards' legal career wrapped up that same year. In 1993, a five-year-old girl named Valerie Lakey had been playing in a Wake County, N.C., wading pool when she became caught in an uncovered drain so forcefully that the suction pulled out most of her intestines. She survived but for the rest of her life will need to be hooked up to feeding tubes for 12 hours each night. Edwards filed suit on the Lakeys' behalf against Sta-Rite Industries, the Wisconsin corporation that manufactured the drain. Attorneys describe his handling of the case as a virtuoso example of a trial layer bringing a negligent corporation to heel. Sta-Rite offered the Lakeys $100,000 to settle the case. Edwards passed. Before trial, he discovered that 12 other children had suffered similar injuries from Sta-Rite drains. The company raised its offer to $1.25 million. Two weeks into the trial, they upped the figure to $8.5 million. Edwards declined the offer and asked for their insurance policy limit of $22.5 million. The day before the trial resumed from Christmas break, Sta-Rite countered with $17.5 million. Again, Edwards said no. On January 10, 1997, lawyers from across the state packed the courtroom to hear Edwards' closing argument, "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen," recalls Dayton. Three days later, the jury found Sta-Rite guilty and liable for $25 million in economic damages (by state law, punitive damages could have tripled that amount). The company immediately settled for $25 million, the largest verdict in state history. For their part, Edwards and Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's national award for public service.
Now try to square that away with this:

Tax cuts aside, nothing is closer to George W. Bush's heart than dismantling the current legal system. Long before there was "compassionate conservatism," Bush was attacking the excesses of trial lawyers. In Texas, demonizing lawyers is a hallowed tradition long predating Bush's governorship. In the mid-1980s, state Republicans and conservative Democrats began targeting what they considered predatory litigation, passing laws to limit consumers' rights to sue businesses, and electing justices to the Texas Supreme Court who shared this point of view. Bush merely tapped into this sentiment when he ran for governor. "Probably the first and most important thing I will do when I am governor of this state," Bush promised during the campaign "is to insist that Texas change the tort laws and insist that we end the frivolous and junk lawsuits that threaten our producers and crowd our courts." And his first major accomplishment after being sworn in was to call an emergency session of the legislature to take up tort reform. Within weeks he'd signed business-friendly legislation capping punitive damages, limiting class actions to federal courts (which are more expensive and harder to navigate than state courts), and making it easier for judges to impose sanctions on plaintiffs who file frivolous suits.
So you see, as much as we're going to hear about the evils of trial lawyers and "frivolous and junk lawsuits," it's important for us to keep the story balanced. I have no doubt that "frivolous and junk lawsuits" exist. But the Republican enemies of all trial lawyers aren't looking to stop "frivolous and junk lawsuits". They're looking to make sure that negligent corporations never have to accept responsibility for their own actions. Otherwise, they'd be promoting the same type of smart tort refrom proposals pitched by Edwards himself, who advocates for a balanced approach involving increased policing of irresponsible lawyers, hack doctors, predatory corporations, and price-gouging insurance companies. The baby does not need to be thrown out with the bathwater.

Those who will attack John Edwards as a trial lawyer aren't trying to save small business owners or doctors. They're doing their damndest to help negligent corporations dodge responsibility for their actions, period.

posted by Scott | 7/07/2004 | |

Hmmm... What Else Does GB Stand For?

I don't normally do this, but I've pretty much given up on things like politeness and decorum.

Did you know that George W. Bush is rich as hell? How about just rich? Well, at the very least, you had to know that he was wealthy, right? Just a little tidbit of info I thought you might want to know about our President, the miserable failure.

posted by Scott | 7/07/2004 | |

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Kerry-Edwards 2004

Man, I am psyched! Not only do we have an awesome ticket for November, I also don't have to eat crow this morning. I've been pulling for Edwards as Kerry's veep for some time now and I'm glad something I was advocating has finally come to pass.

I'll have more thoughts on this later...

posted by Scott | 7/06/2004 | |

Edwards Logo On Kerry Plane?

Good Lord, you never know who your sources are going to be. In the Daily Kos diaries, about five minutes ago, the user valabor posted the news that a story has been popping up on an aviation message board that one of John Kerry's 757s has been outfitted with a John Edwards logo.

Here's the dirt in fully aviation speak:

John Kerry's 757 was in hgr 4 pit tonight John Edwards vp decals were being put on engine cowlings and upper fuselage... Also stars on vertical changed from red white & light blue to all red.
The poster also reports of attempting to photograph the plane, but being stopped but either Kerry aides or Secret Service. Further down in the thread, there is also secondary confirmation on the story from a pilot who heard discussion about the plane on his radio.

Let me just remark that I have no idea whether or not this is true. It's just that, with the official announcement probably only five or so hours away, a juicy little tidbit like this is way too much fun not to post.

We'll find out the truth soon enough...

posted by Scott | 7/06/2004 | |

Monday, July 05, 2004

Gephardt As Veep?

It's not official, but all the little birdies are singing the St. Louis Congressman's name as Kerry's pick for VP. I still think Edwards makes more sense, but as I've pointed out before (and Josh Marshall has discussed more recently), the VP choice isn't always the one that makes the most sense.

I'm betting this thing is made public tomorrow to stop the rumor flow.

(Wouldn't it be funny it the Gephardt chatter were just misinformation to make Edwards seem like less of a sure thing?)

posted by Scott | 7/05/2004 | |
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