Saturday, September 25, 2004

NYT Ed Board: GOP Campaign Tactic 'Un-American'

Finally, the collective media spine seems to be strengthening:

President Bush and his surrogates are taking their re-election campaign into dangerous territory. Mr. Bush is running as the man best equipped to keep America safe from terrorists - that was to be expected. We did not, however, anticipate that those on the Bush team would dare to argue that a vote for John Kerry would be a vote for Al Qaeda. Yet that is the message they are delivering - with a repetition that makes it clear this is an organized effort to paint the Democratic candidate as a friend to terrorists.
This is despicable politics. It's not just polarizing - it also undermines the efforts of the Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency to combat terrorists in America. Every time a member of the Bush administration suggests that Islamic extremists want to stage an attack before the election to sway the results in November, it causes patriotic Americans who do not intend to vote for the president to wonder whether the entire antiterrorism effort has been kidnapped and turned into part of the Bush re-election campaign. The people running the government clearly regard keeping Mr. Bush in office as more important than maintaining a united front on the most important threat to the nation.
The GOP is so desperate, they know the only way to win in November is by exploiting fear. Bush has been a complete failure, so he has to claim that Kerry won't just fail, he'll throw the game.

As a matter of fact, I actually called this back in March:

The Bush re-elect gang will, subtly and not so subtly, put forth the idea that a vote for John Kerry is a vote for al Qaeda. If you vote for Kerry, in other words, the terrorists will have won. This will become especially true in the terrible event that there is another terrorist attack on US soil before November.

My only concern in writing this is that people start waking up to the reality that recent events in Spain hold all sorts of indications of things to come here in America. It may seem painfully obvious to most that al Qaeda is no better off with either a socialist government in Spain or a Kerry government in America, but you can bet that's the campaign script being written by Rove & Co. as you read this.
Little did I know how true or how widespread the problem would be. Fear was always going make up a big part of the Rove playbook. I had no idea that it would give rise to absurd claims that the Democratic party trying to ban the Bible or any other such nonsense.

What I really don't get is how honest-minded Bush supporters can accept this kind of crap from their own side. Don't they wonder what Bush is trying to hide by sending up this kind of smokescreen? Doesn't this garbage bother them?

The president has claimed, over and over, that criticism of the way his administration has conducted the war in Iraq and news stories that suggest the war is not going well endanger American troops and give aid and comfort to the enemy. This week, in his Rose Garden press conference with the interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, Mr. Bush was asked about Mr. Kerry's increasingly pointed remarks on Iraq. "You can embolden an enemy by sending mixed messages," he said, going on to suggest that Mr. Kerry's criticisms dispirit the Iraqi people and American soldiers.
Take a look back though history at the leaders who have told their people that any criticism of their leadership is wrong, unpatriotic, and even dangerous. Trust me -- you won't like what you find.

posted by Scott | 9/25/2004 | |

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Bush Steadfast On Keeping His Head Lodged Firmly In The Sand

From today's joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi:

Q Mr. President, you say today that the work in Iraq is tough and will remain tough. And, yet, you travel this country and a central theme of your campaign is that America is safer because of the invasion of Iraq. Can you understand why Americans may not believe you?

Yeah, I edited it. I'll admit that he did go on speaking after that. But I didn't change it. Go look for yourself. There were no caveats, no explanation. Just Bush sticking his fingers in his ears and denying the obvious.

The man isn't steadfast and strong-willed -- he's stubborn and obstinate! And he's contemptuous to boot. Check out this next segment that was scrubbed from the official White House transcript, from the LA Times's version:

Q But, sir, may I just follow because --


Q -- I don't think you're really answering the question.

In the White House version, Bush doesn't interrupt by trying to call on someone else and he doesn't laugh at the assertion that he's ducking the question:

Q Sir, may I just follow, because I don't think you're really answering the question. I mean, I think you're responding to Senator Kerry, but there are beheadings regularly, the insurgent violence continues, and there are no weapons of mass destruction. My question is, can you understand that Americans may not believe you when you say that America is actually safer today?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein were still in power. ...
No one is saying that they wish Saddam was in power! I don't care how many times Team W say it, it still doesn't make it true. Some of us -- okay, most of us -- just think that it may have once been possible to reach some happy medium between Saddam in power and total f'ing chaos. Is that seriously so hard for Bush to understand? Isn't that what he was hoping for? Or was he content leaving Iraq in complete disarray as long as it meant getting the guy who tried to kill his dad?

But let's go back for a minute to the White House transcript editing out Bush's snarky interruption and chuckling. Absolutely despicable! What does it say to people that this is what the White House doesn't want us to hear? It reinforces everything so many people already suspect of being true about Bush -- the leader of the free world is a spoiled brat... and a dumb one at that.

posted by Scott | 9/23/2004 | |

McGreevey Cleans House In New Jersey

On August 18th, I wrote this of the confirmation that Governor Jim McGreevey would not be stepping down in time for a special election:

Here's why, despite my appeal to Corzine to run for Governor, I think this is a good idea.

The people who want McGreevey to step down the most are the old-school bosses who run the Democratic Party in New Jersey -- John Lynch and George Norcross. They've been flirting with the edges of scandal themselves throughout McGreevey's tenure. It really seems that the Governor sees this as an opportunity to free himself -- and the state -- of the control that the party bosses exert over New Jersey.

McGreevey came into office pledging good governance and a rejection of business as usual in Trenton. He quickly found himself mired in the muck of scandal, making his pledge seem like little more than a hollow promise. What McGreevey did manage to get done -- job creation, environmental protection, the domestic partnership bill, progressive taxation, state support for stem-cell research -- was fantastic and Jersey Democrats (and many, many independents) love him for it. In our minds, McGreevey would have been perfect... if he could just stop muddying the waters with patronage and scandal.
Well, Governor McGreevey had let me down in the past, but certainly not this time. The Governor has signed a wide-ranging executive order banning 'pay-to-play' in New Jersey.

For those of you who aren't familiar, 'pay-to-play' is the absurdly blatant -- and overly common -- practice of awarding state contracts to businesses and contractors who donate large sums of money to candidates and political committees. It's as simple as the name suggests; in New Jersey, if you want to play, you've got to pay. Essentially, it's a system befitting the home of Tony Soprano.

But as of October 15th, this system will be a thing of the past, a political relic. The new rules will halt the awarding of contracts worth $17,500 or more to any business or individual contractor that has donated to a candidate for Governor or either state or county political committees.

As I wrote in August, I really saw McGreevey's resignation "as an opportunity to free himself" from some of the political pressure he'd faced to not clean up Trenton. In signing the executive order, McGreevey said as much himself. "Recent events have been a catalyst," he explained, "providing me with a personal and political freedom that has enabled me to confront challenges I have avoided in the past."

So here's to McGreevey's new-found freedom... and his courageous willingness to act on it.

posted by Scott | 9/23/2004 | |

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Surprise! Energy Lobbyists Caught Rewriting EPA Rules... Again!

Imagine for a second that we let rapists review and even rewrite the laws regarding sex crimes. Ridiculous, right?

So why, then, is the Bush administration allowing lobbyists for energy companies rewrite the rules regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants? Isn't it basically the same thing -- handing the fox the keys to the hen house?

The saddest part of the story is that this is the third time Bush's cronies have been caught, red-handed, doing the same thing. Sen. Jim Jeffords, calling this "just one more example of how [the Bush administration] abuse the public trust," he admitted that it "no longer comes as much of a surprise."

Here's more from The Washington Post:

The Aug. 5, 2002, memo from Latham & Watkins, submitted during the public comment period on the rule, said hazardous air pollutants other than mercury did not need to be regulated. It made multiple references to statements by Rep. Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio) that "Congress provided a distinct regulatory mandate for utility [hazardous emissions] because of the logic of basing any decisions to regulate on the results of scientific study and because of the emission reductions that will be achieved and the extremely high costs that electric utilities will face under other provisions of the new Clean Air Act amendments."

The EPA used nearly identical language in its rule, changing just eight words. In a separate section, the agency used the same italics Latham lawyers used in their memo, saying the EPA is required to regulate only the pollutants under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act "after considering the results of the study required by this paragraph." The memo uses the word "subparagraph" instead of paragraph but is otherwise identical.
These new rules are set to go into effect next March. Hopefully, a new President and a new EPA administration will step in and fix this mess before that happens.

posted by Scott | 9/22/2004 | |

Wall Street Journal: Hometown Paper Of Bush's Fantasy World

When it comes to Iraq specifically, Mr. Kerry's picture of the country is unrealistically bleak.
So reads this morning's lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal. I'm going to avoid delving into the other mischaracterizations of Kerry's Iraq policy proposals as no one with an ounce of integrity really buys them anyway, but that particular statement stood out to me as a blindingly obvious example of the rampant head-in-the-sandism so symptomatic of Bush and his supporters.

One wonders what the WSJ editorial board heard in Kerry's speech that they thought was "unrealistically bleak"? To be sure, the current picture of Iraq is bleak. But Kerry certainly isn't exaggerating the situation.

Let's go to Kerry's speech to hear what he actually said.

Security is deteriorating, for us and for the Iraqis.

42 Americans died in Iraq in June -- the month before the handover. But 54 died in July... 66 in August… and already 54 halfway through September.

And more than 1,100 Americans were wounded in August –- more than in any other month since the invasion.

We are fighting a growing insurgency in an ever widening war-zone. In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times. In August, they attacked 2,700 times –- a 400% increase.

Falluja... Ramadi... Samarra... even parts of Baghdad -– are now "no go zones"... breeding grounds for terrorists who are free to plot and launch attacks against our soldiers. The radical Shi'a cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, who's accused of complicity in the murder of Americans, holds more sway in the suburbs of Baghdad.

Violence against Iraqis... from bombings to kidnappings to intimidation... is on the rise.

Basic living conditions are also deteriorating.

Residents of Baghdad are suffering electricity blackouts lasting up to 14 hours a day.

Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees. Children wade through garbage on their way to school.

Unemployment is over 50 percent. Insurgents are able to find plenty of people willing to take $150 for tossing grenades at passing U.S. convoys.

Yes, there has been some progress, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our soldiers and civilians in Iraq. Schools, shops and hospitals have been opened. In parts of Iraq, normalcy actually prevails.
So not only is Kerry sticking to the facts, but he admits that all hope is not lost, that "normalcy actually prevails" in sections of the country.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Bush's fantasy world of spin, where facts are unrealistic, failure is success, and broken policies are meant to be adhered to.

posted by Scott | 9/22/2004 | |

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Nixon Dirty Trickster Doesn't Deny Involvement With Killian Memos

One of the borderline loony theories that has been floating around about the source of the Killian memos is that someone in the GOP forged the memos to muddy the waters when it comes to questions about Bush's National Guard service and/or frame the Kerry campaign for the forgeries. Even though this is a theory I myself have indulged in, I've got to admit it's a little too head-spinning to be very credible.

Or is it?

Roger Stone, a GOP operative who took part Richard Nixon's dirty tricks operation, refused to deny to the New York Post that he is the actual source of the Killian memos.

Lest anyone think that Stone has been reformed of late, it should be noted that he gave a great deal of financial and logistical support to the primary candidacy of Al Sharpton this year. It was speculated at the time that Stone's goal was to increase Sharpton's stature in the race in order to scare off moderate white voters from voting Democratic.

Terry McAuliffe and the DNC are demanding answers. I hope they get some, but I'm not holding my breath.

posted by Scott | 9/21/2004 | |

Kerry Makes The Case

Today at NYU, I think we saw Kerry turning the boat around, headed for shore.

This President's failure to tell the truth to us before the war has been exceeded by fundamental errors of judgment during and after the war.

The President now admits to "miscalculations" in Iraq.

That is one of the greatest understatements in recent American history. His were not the equivalent of accounting errors. They were colossal failures of judgment – and judgment is what we look for in a president.

This is all the more stunning because we're not talking about 20/20 hindsight. Before the war, before he chose to go to war, bi-partisan Congressional hearings... major outside studies... and even some in the administration itself... predicted virtually every problem we now face in Iraq.

This President was in denial. He hitched his wagon to the ideologues who surround him, filtering out those who disagreed, including leaders of his own party and the uniformed military. The result is a long litany of misjudgments with terrible consequences.

The administration told us we'd be greeted as liberators. They were wrong.

They told us not to worry about looting or the sorry state of Iraq's infrastructure. They were wrong.

They told us we had enough troops to provide security and stability, defeat the insurgents, guard the borders and secure the arms depots. They were wrong.

They told us we could rely on exiles like Ahmed Chalabi to build political legitimacy. They were wrong.

They told us we would quickly restore an Iraqi civil service to run the country and a police force and army to secure it. They were wrong.

In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the President has held no one accountable, including himself.

In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth.

General Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq. He was retired. Economic adviser Larry Lindsey said that Iraq would cost as much as $200 billion. He was fired. After the successful entry into Baghdad, George Bush was offered help from the UN -- and he rejected it. He even prohibited any nation from participating in reconstruction efforts that wasn't part of the original coalition – pushing reluctant countries even farther away. As we continue to fight this war almost alone, it is hard to estimate how costly that arrogant decision was. Can anyone seriously say this President has handled Iraq in a way that makes us stronger in the war on terrorism?

By any measure, the answer is no. Nuclear dangers have mounted across the globe. The international terrorist club has expanded. Radicalism in the Middle East is on the rise. We have divided our friends and united our enemies. And our standing in the world is at an all time low.
Again, read the whole thing. It was truly incredible.

I apologize for the lack of in-depth analysis on this, but I'm fighting off a nasty ear infection at the moment. Anyway, my analysis of this speech would just consist of randomly strung-together 'uh huh's, 'right on's, and 'you tell 'em, John!'s, so it wouldn't be all that interesting to read.

Oh yeah, and Kerry looked good on Letterman. Not too stiff, a few good jokes aimed at Bush, himself, and seemingly even Dan Rather. The crowd was very receptive to boot.

I could be wrong, but it looks like the closer is finally starting to close.

posted by Scott | 9/21/2004 | |

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Killian Memos "Expert" Really A GOP Legal Operative

The Killian memos story absolutely refuses to go off and die a quiet death. Of course, it doesn't necessarily help that people like me are keeping the fire burning, but whatever... I'll be damned if it isn't interesting.

It turns out that the Freeper 'expert' who -- within four hours of '60 Minutes' airing the Killian memos had managed to brilliantly lie his way through an analysis of the memos as forgeries -- is really GOP lawyer Harry W. MacDougald. Almost everything he wrote in that analysis has since been proven false, but the idea the documents are forgeries (which they may well be) is now conventional wisdom.

So who is Harry W. MacDougald? The LA Times points out that he is "a Republican appointee to the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections." And on his bio at the website of his law firm, some of the "significant cases" he highlights are quite telling:

Duckworth v. Whisenant, et. al., U.S.D.C. N.D. Ga., Obtained defense verdicts for three officers in 8 day bench trial of excessive force claims, limited verdict against DeKalb County to $500.
Alford v. Osei-Kwasi, 203 Ga.App. 716, 418 S.E.2d 79 (1992). Successfully defended jail officer who used a taser on a six month pregnant inmate.
Wow... Quite a guy, huh? I'm not saying that the defendants in both cases were not worthy of good defense. I'm just saying those are kind of odd accomplishments to brag about. Call me crazy, but defense of police brutality and rabid attacks on affirmative action suggest something about a person.

Oh yeah, and there was this.

Drafted petition to disbar William Jefferson Clinton filed by L. Lynn Hogue.
Long story short, MacDougald is little more than a partisan hack whose 'expertise' on typography really ought to be questioned. And while we're asking the questions, how did MacDougald so quickly compile such a laundry list of complaints about the Killian memos? There are two possible explanations here. One -- he was making it all up; or two -- he was told what to look for by someone in the know. Either way, it doesn't look good for the GOP.

Oh yeah, and Bill Burkett, the source of the Killian memos, tried to pass them along to the Kerry campaign. What happened?

Burkett, who lives just outside of Abilene, wrote that no one at the Kerry campaign called him back.

posted by Scott | 9/19/2004 | |
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