Saturday, October 28, 2006

From The Mailbag

I received an email from Mr. Doggity (who really should have his own blog...or at least a guest spot here) over night, and wanted to share it with my audience.
Please deal with Cheney.

This torture thing is insane. Dick Cheney does not represent me, and does not represent any America I -- a former Marine -- recognize or ever fought for.

I have never said this before. I have stated some outrageous things before in order to get a rise, but this time I'm serious.

Dick Cheney is a bona fide war criminal. A war criminal on the level of Milosevic, Taylor, Tojo and Donitz. Nobody who knows anything about history could possibly make a case now that Cheney should not be included in this august assembly.

I would support the Hague calling Dick Cheney before a tribunal today. Not as a political vendetta, but in a real effort to restore what tiny shreds remain of America's integrity. I do not support the death penalty for anyone, including Cheney. But the noble and respectful process of impeachment is far too decent for him.

History will place him on the list of tyrants, only slightly less deplorable than Hussein -- and if left in power much longer, he could make a run at surpassing him.
If ever there was a visualization of the old Actonian saw, "absolute power corrupts absolutely," it is this government. Run into ruin by Republicans in charge of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, with barely a whimper from the opposition, this sad state of affairs doesn't just reflect badly on Republicans, but it reflects badly on Americans. History will determine that this period of lunacy was more dangerous for the way laws were played fast and loose with, rather than the tipping point of terror attacks.

Many months ago, as the torture bill was being discussed, I posted a series of quotes from perhaps the greatest movie of all time, A Man For All Seasons (if you get HDNet on Dish, you can see this in rotation this month, along with Judgement At Nuremberg).
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
I don't think Robert Bolt ever anticipated that the Devil would actually be the one to cut down the laws, however.

Which is why it becomes imperative to garner as many votes to move Congress to Democratic control as possible. It's a Hobson's choice, to be sure, the lesser of two poisons, but it is the ONLY choice right now, to hope that once in power, the Democrats will take a close, long look at the abuses of power that have occured over the past six years of unfettered tyranny, and put a stop to them and to bring the evil-doers to justice.

Cheney has long had a free hand to deal with governance as he sees fit, unsupervised and unaccountable to even Congress, which has rubber stamped just about everything he's proposed. Even the staunchest conservative Republicans ought to see that this is a horrible situation, that without any dissent, we may as well just close up shop as a democracy and move directly into an imperialist oligarchy.

Cheney and Bush MUST be held to account for their actions (and inactions) since January 2001, and if found guilty, punished with the full weight of the law. They hold a fiduciary responsibility not to their party, not to their contributors, not to their cronies, but to the people of the United States, to the Constitution of the United States, and to the future of the United States. I fear these priorities were lost on these men once the Supreme Court selected them in 2000.

Dogg is right: these are war crimes that have been committed, and I'd go one step further and claim that it was deliberate and intentional genocide, to wipe out the Iraqi people by fomenting a civil war, that there was never in anyone's mind any serious thought that we'd be greeted with "flowers and candy," but that we'd get what we have, an opening to invade the Middle East without actually invading it. This administration, this "Project For A New American Century" is far too cold and cynical and calculating for anyone to believe this was an accident.

"Genocide." "America." I would never in a hundred years imagine that those two words could even be remotely connected, and yet, here we are, if only for a semantic quibble, committing genocide.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Music Blogging

Cranberries - Zombies

Yea, this is for Halloween, and yea, I know, it has nothing to do with Zombies and everything to do with the British occupation of Northern Ireland.

Friday Kitten Blogging!

A Lesson In Karma

A few months back, New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi made some rather ridiculous comments at the graduation ceremony at Queens College:
Hevesi said, "I shall carry with me the image of Senator Chuck Schumer getting dumped at the airport. ... We really feel bad for poor Chuck -- United States senator. The man who, uh, now how do I phrase this diplomatically, will put a bullet between the President's eyes if, ah, he could get away with it. The toughest senator, the best representative. A great, great member of the Congress of the United States."
Alan, meet karma. Although your comments were far from the visciousness we've come to expect from morons like Ann Coulter, or Rush Limbaugh, they are highly paid to put their karmic lives on the line. You are not.

So your recent troubles point up how big a price we pay for our actions in this world:
mbattled state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, now the subject of an intensifying criminal investigation, lost the support of one of his chief political patrons yesterday when Democratic gubernatorial front-runner Eliot Spitzer withdrew his endorsement.

Spitzer's move to sever his public support came as Gov. George Pataki was seriously considering whether to recommend to the State Senate that it take steps to remove Hevesi from office, a process that usually involves a trial before the Senate's 62 members.

Pataki's aides insisted the governor had not made a final judgment about a course of action, but people close to the situation said they expected Pataki, a Republican who leaves office at the end of the year, to ask the GOP-controlled Senate as early as today to remove Hevesi. Pataki is scheduled to hold an afternoon news conference in Manhattan about the case.
Now, you're probably thinking, "But Carl! What does one have to do with the other?"

Hevesi is under investigation for having a state employee chauffeur his wife to and from various medical facilities:
A former administrator of volunteer services at Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital in Queens, Carol Hevesi grew up in Woodside and has a sister, Marcia, who was a detective sergeant in the NYPD's Missing Persons Bureau -- among the first women to attain that rank. Carol Hevesi was an energetic woman until surgery to repair four herniated discs nearly 30 years ago left her suffering from chronic back pain.
...which of course would be fine if Hevesi reimbursed the state. He has made a partial payment of some $80,000, but state officials have said this is barely half of what he would owe.

Still, what reason was it that he couldn't just have her take cabs?
[H]e had received several death threats and said his work as comptroller of New York City and later of the state had led him into a number of controversial arenas, including canceling “contracts with companies that were connected with organized crime.” He said he had received such threats as a live shotgun shell and a dead bird in the mail.

“My own security people told me that a threat against me is a threat against my wife,” he said.
I'm betting more than one of those threats came in response to his comments at Queens College.

Alan Hevesi has a 35 year record that was, up to this point, unimpeachable, and given his wife's condition (she has attempted suicide because of the pain and is currently residing in a nursing home), it's somewhat understandable that he'd try to fix the problem first, and deal with the fallout later.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Get Ready To Spike The Ball

"They're dancing in the end zone. They just haven't scored the touchdown," - GWBush

When it comes to Congressional races, conventional wisdom has it that the trouble with most national polls is they tend to overstate general feelings while neglecting individual races, therefore you can't call a Congressional election ahead of the vote. That maybe true, but:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Voters strongly favor Democratic candidates over Republicans in the Nov. 7 congressional election and harbor growing doubts about the Iraq war and the country's future, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released Thursday.

Two weeks before voters decide which party controls the U.S. Congress, Republicans trail Democrats among independents and are still struggling to shore up their base conservative supporters, the poll found.

Democrats have an 11-point edge, 44 percent to 33 percent, when voters are asked which party's candidate they will support, up slightly from a 9-point lead in the last Reuters/Zogby poll a month ago.

The increase is within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Note the subtle change in questioning. Not, who would be a better choice, but who would you vote for, is the focus of the questioning. This bodes very well for Democrats, even if the numbers are slightly deflated from the 55-16 percent spread of "who would do a better job governing?" mode of quesitoning.

This also makes clear what the two parties strategies will be in the next two weeks: voter turnout. Clearly, the Democratic base is far angrier and far more committed to seeing the bastards turned out and replaced. There's a significant undecided population to be captured, to be sure, but that might also, probably does, include a significant number of people who simply won't vote anyway.

The polling data breaks out this way:
Independents favor Democrats by 12 points, and just 56 percent of self-identified conservatives and 68 percent of Republicans say they will vote for the Republican candidate. About 81 percent of Democrats plan to support the Democratic candidate, the poll found.
Now's the time for Democrats across the country to start contacting friends and acquaintances who are Democratic around the country and get them out to vote. It's that simple.

Or, I can let John Zogby speak to this issue:John Zogby on Voter Turnout

Oh...the overwhelming issue for voters right now is Iraq. This poll showed that anything else, even the Foley and other corruption scandals plaguing the Republicans, had little impact on voter decisions.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hump Day Marx Brothers

Today's Episode: The Marx Brothers Explain The Bush Response to 9/11

The Chips Must Be Really Down...

Bush and the GOP are in serious trouble, despite their happy, peppy talk of late, what with the economy tanking again in such a robust growth period and the conflict in Iraq turning into a turkey shoot of American troops being turned over to the Iraqi forces.

Bush, Republicans turn to talk shows for help

[...]Analysts said the rise of other populist media -- most notably the Internet -- along with growing schisms among conservatives over immigration, the Iraq war, budget deficits and social policy will make it tougher this year for talk radio to help Republicans chalk up an election win.

"Talk radio is still predominantly a conservative phenomenon, but it's getting smaller in scope and if it's going to be effective for conservative Republican candidates, it's going to have to be more intense than it used to be," said Michael Frank, vice president of government relations at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think-tank.

"The conservative base itself is not exactly united and cheering on behalf of one party this time ... and that may blunt some of the effectiveness of talk radio as a kind of organizing tool for Republican candidates."

Still, radio hosts are hoping the political activism of their audience will result in another strong Election Day turnout for Republicans. A study by Talkers magazine found 74 percent of talk radio listeners voted in 2004 -- well above the average U.S. election year turnout.
Which of course, might explain this:
Rush Limbaugh accused actor Michael J. Fox, who has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, of "exaggerating the effects of the disease" in a recent campaign advertisement for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill. Limbaugh added that "this is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two."
I tend to take Limbaugh's word on this, frankly. He has far more expertise with medication than I do.

Or this:
Savage ridiculed Ethiopians, declaring they "have flies around their eyes"; labeled Islam "a bloodthirsty religion"
Yea, always fun to make sport of poor people with inadequate sanitation and food supplies when you're trying to win an election.

Or this:
Fox News guest Simmons claimed stadium terror hoax is "the perfect example" of "how vital" the detainee bill and warrantless domestic spying program are
In other words, the Republicans, realizing they've run the rope on the "terror-scare" tactic, are turning it over to the talk-radio "stars". One can only imagine the quid pro quo that is going on there. Or maybe we don't have to:
"If all of us go out to the polls and get every person we know to go out the poll ... the great thing that will happen on election day is we will confuse and confound the pundits and confuse and confound the liberal media," [Sean] Hannity told the Republican rally in Cincinnati.

His audience was enthusiastic.

"I'm old, I'm tired, I've got diabetes, and I'm freezing to death, and yet I'm glad I came here -- it makes me want to work harder," said Zip Jaycox, 79, a self-described "strong Bush supporter and strong Republican" volunteer who goes door-to-door with her husband to rally party voters.

"We're going to get out and work like the very dickens."
They're helping the administration reduce the Social Security program, too...

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Another Brick From The Wall

As if things weren't bad enough for the Republicans, comes this story:
Republicans losing crucial swing voters: poll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Independent voters overwhelmingly favor Democrats to take over the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 7 election and back them on major issues, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said on Monday.

The independents surveyed said they plan to support Democratic congressional candidates over Republicans by a roughly 2-to-1 margin -- 59 percent to 31 percent -- the largest gap in the poll this year, The Washington Post said.

Forty-five percent said it would be good if Democrats recaptured the House majority, 10 percent said it would not and the rest said it would not matter, the newspaper reported.
In 2004, independent voters favored Democrats (which was reflected in the significant gains made in the House and Senate races) by a narrow majority. It would have meant something in the Presidential elections, as well, if Karl Rove hadn't motivated the core Christian Conservative base in opposition to this trend. One imagines a comfortable Kerry win by three percent or so.

Some troubling points in this poll for the Dems, however:
About half of the independents who said they plan to vote Democratic in their district said they are doing so primarily to vote against the Republican candidate rather than to affirmatively support the Democratic candidate, the Post said.
It will be imperative for the Democrats to cobble together a legislative agenda that is both effective, and more important, passed, in order to keep these votes in 2008. This is not a wholly-likely scenario, especially given a hostile Republican president and much bad blood in the mix, overall. It will be a challenge, then, to avoid legislative gridlock.

Too, the temptation to go subpoena-crazy must be avoided as well, which will help prevent this. Yes, there are some issues raised over the past six years that demand thorough and immediate investigation.

Like September 11. Like Katrina. But we also need to do some triage, because there are just so many damned issues that need to be investigated that it would diffuse our focus and inhibit our ability to govern effectively. Like Cheney's energy task force. Like Enron. Like vote counting.

And there may even be issues that we simply need to acknowledge we got screwed on and move ahead, allowing the judicial proceedings now going on to uncover whatever truths there are. Like Valarie Plame. Like Tom Delay.

Remember, we only have two years to prove ourselves to the American people. If we are successful, we can have the legislature AND executive branches as long-term legacies.

And wouldn't that be something?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Time To Dig In And Get To Work

Just two years after George W. Bush defeated John Kerry, and four years after Bush defied expectations to prevail in the 2002 midterms, Democratic control of Congress may be within reach. For weeks, leaders of both parties have said Democrats would likely take the House of Representatives, but now the six seats the Democrats need to wrest control of the Senate may well be winnable. Republican strategists are privately bracing themselves for the loss of Senate seats in Rhode Island, Montana, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The GOP is hopeful that a cloud of corruption charges surrounding New Jersey's incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez could give Republicans a rare shot at picking up a Democratic seat, but Menendez's Republican challenger, Thomas Kean Jr., is struggling to separate himself from Bush and Iraq. The remaining Senate battles lie in border states like Tennessee, where Ford and the GOP nominee, businessman and former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker, are polling neck and neck. Republicans know the race is a must-win to retain control of the Senate.
Six seats for the Senate, in which the Republicans will concede four but might pick up one from the Dems (why Menendez doesn't squash these corruption allegations by pointing out all this was vetter ahead of time by a Republican-controlled Congress is beyond me).

The Dems will likely take the House, according to strategists from both parties. That means at least two more, and possibly three more, seats must be grabbed.

Harold Ford leads in his race, but that lead has see-sawed back and forth, and has included some intrafamilial bickering (his brother has been talking smack about Harold), and some blood-relation corruption (his aunt was kicked out of the state Senate for vote fraud). Mind you, all this is taking place against the backdrop of a state that's never been too welcoming to blacks, apart from the sweat off their backs.

Ford's greatest strength is that he comes off as bucking the system, and not toeing the Democratic party line. He shows glints of conservativism, even if his voting record suggests somewhere in the neighborhood of an 85% affirmation of Democratic positions.

Too, his opponent, Bob Corker, has his own troubles, most notably his staunch support of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

That's one more pick up for the Dems, should he win, and polls suggest a one or two point margin of victory, and possibly more if the Ford machine can get the vote out heavily in places like Memphis, with a heavily-skewed population of blacks.

In Missouri, Claire McCaskill has narrowed what was an 8 point gap earlier in October to bare percentage points, and might have the momentum to carry her past incumbent Jim Talent, in what should have been a safe seat for the GOP based on past trends. The Republican strategy this week will be to focus on the economy as booming and stronger than it's ever been, to which the Democrats should point out that none of this has impacted the wages and paychecks of workers. This should be a slam dunk argument to make.

Some more good news for Democrats came in the form of a poll conducted this weekend by Reuters, which showed that 31 percent of evangelical Christians would prefer to see Democrats take back Congress, as well as Catholics, two groups which heavily supported Bush in 2004. One imagines David Kuo's book as well as the Foley scandal had quite an impact here.

It's nail-biting time, but please do that only in between working the phones and getting the vote out.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert