As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Quick Hits

Getting some blogging done early today as I'll be out on GOTV operations and also visiting the newly-restored Griffith Observatory, an iconic building here in LA that just re-opened to the public. So here's some stories:

• Hope you don't like fish that much.

An international group of ecologists and economists warned yesterday that the world will run out of seafood by 2048 if steep declines in marine species continue at current rates, based on a four-year study of catch data and the effects of fisheries collapses.

The paper, published in the journal Science, concludes that overfishing, pollution and other environmental factors are wiping out important species around the globe, hampering the ocean's ability to produce seafood, filter nutrients and resist the spread of disease.

"We really see the end of the line now," said lead author Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Canada's Dalhousie University. "It's within our lifetime. Our children will see a world without seafood if we don't change things."

About 1 in 6 people on this planet depend on fish as their main source of food. The dirty secret here is that it probably has as much to do with overpopulation as it does pollution. But cleaning the world's oceans has to be a top priority.

Yet another article on how US healthcare lags behind the rest of the globe. You can pretty much not get an after-hours appointment in this country. Because physical health goes by a schedule. Healthcare needs to be one of the major campaign issues for 2008, as it wasn't this year. It's a life-or-death issue.

• Bob Ney finally takes the hint and resigns, seven weeks after he was convicted of corruption charges. This is known as "eventual Republican ethics."

• PA-10: Soon-to-be lame-duck Congressman Don Sherwood tried to buy the silence of his ex-mistress with half a million dollars, as long as she didn't reveal the long-standing affair or the fact that he allegedly choked her until after the election. Needless to say, she didn't take the bait, as I am telling you that Sherwood choked his former mistress.

• Statehouse races don't get the publicity, but considering most state legislatures set the boundaries of Congressional districts they're incredibly important; just ask Texas. And this article suggests that Democrats will do well in those local races as well, riding the national wave. That could have good implications for redistricting in 2010, although I'd like to see that procedure go nonpartisan.

• MT-SEN: "Brokebank Democrats".

But Republicans aren't playing on anti-gay themes at all, no, it's just a movie parody.

• Wal-Mart's "always low prices" have to go even lower to attract business this holiday shopping season. Wal-Mart had close to 0% growth in October. If you want to know how the economy is really performing, don't look at the Dow or the unemployment numbers, look at how much Wal-Mart has to slash their prices to get people to shop there.

Police arrest naked man with concealed weapon. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.


The Saddam Gambit

It's clear that Saddam Hussein's verdict was scheduled for Sunday to give the party in power a boost before the election. What's not clear is what the reaction in Iraq will be. The Iraqi government is nervous enough to go into emergency mode:

Iraq canceled leave Friday for all military officers two days before an expected verdict — and possible death sentence — in the trial of Saddam Hussein. For the second time this week, a top Bush administration official huddled with the Iraqi prime minister.

Many of Saddam's fellow Sunni Arabs, along with some Shiites and Kurds, are predicting a firestorm of violence if the court sentences the ex-president to death, as is widely expected. Bloodshed is already high, with police finding the bodies of 87 torture victims throughout the capital between 6 a.m. Thursday and 6 p.m. Friday.

But most Shiites, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, are likely to be enraged if he escapes the gallows. Al-Maliki declared last month he expected "this criminal tyrant will be executed," saying that would likely break the will of Saddam's followers in the insurgency.

Cheers followed the death of Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay, as well as his capture. But that was an eon ago, and the sectarian strife was practically non-existent compared to now. The government has also set up new checkpoints and put the country under curfew for Sunday. If mass violence breaks out, would that be good for the Republicans? Would it have been worth it to time such an explosion before the election?


Why Do The Troops Hate The Troops?

This astonishing editorial, set to appear in the Monday edition of all four military service newspapers (Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, and Marine Corps Times), calls for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. It's the closest thing you can have to an outright military coup in this country. The troops do not support the man who bungled them into war with too few, who provided them with no plan to win the peace, who kept assuring that everything was all right as Iraq slid into chaos. An excerpt:

For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don't show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.

Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money.

And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand.

Now, the president says he'll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.

This is a mistake.

It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.

These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.

And although that tradition, and the officers' deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.

Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.

This government has completely lost the confidence of the military it all-too-readily implements to send into battle. It will not be able to restore it so long as Donald Rumsfeld is at the helm. I've never seen anything like this, the entire military en masse saying that, for the good of the country, their incompetent leader must resign.

November 7th is a choice between those who would protect our troops and those who protect the President from criticism. Make the right choice.

UPDATE: Billmon, as usual, gives some very good perspective.

Now I despise Donald Rumsfeld as much as any commie pinko, but this kneejerk habit the generals have gotten into of blaming Rummy for all their problems in Iraq is getting pretty old. The Army's own failures -- most particularly, in deciding that because it doesn't like to fight guerrilla wars, it wouldn't prepare to fight one -- are well documented in Tom Ricks' Fiasco and elsewhere. The ossified bureaucracy obsessed with budgets, rank and military ceremony (in roughly that order), which led defense gadfly Chuck Spinney to label the Pentagon "the Versailles on the Potomac," had grown deeply dysfunctional long before Donald Rumsfeld came back to town. If anything, he at least tried to reform it -- even if most of his ideas went in diametrically the wrong direction for the "fourth generation" war the military now finds itself fighting.

That Rumsfeld needs to go is self-evident to everyone but Dick, Shrub and Don himself. Based on this Vanity Fair article, I'd say it's the one thing both the neocons (who have their own sins to atone for) and the generals can agree on. But trying to make Rummy the sole scapegoat for America's failure in Iraq is as big a lie as Shrub's insistence that the SecDef has done, and is still doing, a great job. It looks to me like the Times papers are simply pandering to their special constituency (something that was also their editorial bread and butter when I was there.)

The Dems may applaud now, but if I were them, I'd be extremely wary of the precedent. As a group, the joint chiefs are developing a taste for bureaucratic blood -- they're trying to destroy Rumsfeld just as they destroyed Les Aspin and emasculated Wesley Clark. Only now they're doing it openly (or at least semi-openly) and in the middle of an election campaign.

That's usually not a good sign for a republican government -- and I'm not talking about the political party.

I had a whiff that this was highly unusual, and anytime you see this kind of "come to Jesus" moment there could be blame-shifting involved. So yes, while I agree with the sentiment I don't want to see the military taking the law into their own hands.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Picture Gallery

Here you go, and then I'm off to the Borat movie.

1-These guys, the Bush twins, are going around Nevada in support of Senate candidate Jack Carter.

I didn't put Carter in my Senate preview because I've seen no reason for optimism in his race to unseat Sen. John Ensign (that's the other guy pictured). But he's run a bold and strong race. He doesn't have a lot of institutional support in the state. I don't know if the Harry Reid/John Ensign "deal" still holds or not.

2-Will you look at that...

Haggard has always bragged about having direct access to the President, and he's been quoted as saying his only disagreement with the President is what kind of truck he likes.

3- A call to action.

The election comes down to this: will you vote for enablers, or will you vote for change?

By the way, I wanted to say thanks for the biggest traffic week of my short blogging career. It'd be a blip on the radar screen to the major-league guys, but for me it's significant, so thanks for reading.


Full Speed Ahead, Says The Titanic Captain

Why in God's name would you put Dick Cheney out in front of independent voters the Sunday before the election, knowing that he'd say something like "the public be damned" regarding the most important issue to the electorate?

Four days before the election, as Republican candidates are battling to save their seats in Congress amidst a backlash over the war in Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney told ABC News the administration is going "full speed ahead" with its policy.

"We've got the basic strategy right," Cheney told George Stephanopoulos in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on "This Week." [...]

Cheney said that even with pollsters predicting Democrats will likely make gains in both houses of Congress on Tuesday, voter sentiment would not influence Bush's Iraq policy.

"It may not be popular with the public — it doesn't matter in the sense that we have to continue the mission and do what we think is right. And that's exactly what we're doing," Cheney said. "We're not running for office. We're doing what we think is right."

What this actually shows is that the Cheney Administration is prepared to not accept the role of an oppositional Congress as legitimate, and that they would simply dismiss anything a Democratic-controlled Congress does. The next two years could make Watergate look like The Era of Good Feelings.

My favorite part of this sneak preview, however, is Cheney's reaction to his neocon buddies deserting the sinking ship in an article for Vanity Fair, with stab-you-in-the-back paragraphs like this:

Perle goes so far as to say that, if he had his time over, he would not have advocated an invasion of Iraq: "I think if I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, 'Should we go into Iraq?,' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.' … I don't say that because I no longer believe that Saddam had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction, or that he was not in contact with terrorists. I believe those two premises were both correct. Could we have managed that threat by means other than a direct military intervention? Well, maybe we could have."

Cheney's reaction to such disloyalty? All together now...

Cheney said, "I haven't seen the piece I'm not going to comment on it. I think there is no question that it is a tough war but it is also the right thing to do," he said. "And it is very important that we complete the mission."

As usual, any time discouraging information comes to light, Dick Cheney hasn't seen it.



You have to love the BBC for calling the Ted Haggard situation a sex-row.

I toured with Sex-Row back in the late 80s. Pretty good hair band.


Some Straight Talk On Gay People

The continued pandering of Mr. Straight Talk continues. John McCain, who twice voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, who claimed two years ago that banning same-sex marriage is un-Republican and "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans," this week stars in two commercials promoting the anti-same-sex marriage amendment on the ballot in Arizona.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a likely 2008 presidential aspirant, is starring in two new television spots for Proposition 107, a proposed state constitutional amendment that would ensure that same-sex marriages or civil unions are never legal in Arizona and ban governments, such as cities or towns or universities, from providing benefits to unmarried domestic partners.

The ads can be seen here.

This amendment, as described here, is FAR FAR WORSE than a gay marriage ban, as it infringes on American citizens' civil rights by applying a different standard of benefits to couples based on sexual orientation. John McCain, the maverick, SUPPORTS that.

The dodge for McCain on this will be that it is a state Constitutional amendment, and as a states-rights Republican he objected to the FMA on the grounds that it forced a solution on the states instead of them making up their minds on their own. How, then, to explain this:

McCain: "I think that gay marriage should be allowed, if there's a ceremony kind of thing, if you want to call it that."

No politician has talked out of both sides of their mouth this much since Zachary Taylor capitalized on the isolation of various parts of the country by saying contradictory things in stump speeches depending on where he was. We seem to have the same kind of bifurcation today, where the DC media has nothing but stars in their eyes over McCain as a principled moderate, while he speaks as a committed Republican ideologue outside of the Beltway.

By the way, he's backing the losing horse:

The amendment may need McCain's superstar help. An Arizona State University Cronkite-Eight Poll released last month found voters are poised to reject the measure. According to veteran ASU pollster Bruce Merrill's statewide survey, 56 percent of respondents said they'd vote no, 30 percent said they'd vote yes and 1 percent was undecided.

This is the latest evidence that the "bash the gays" strategy used in 2004 is simply not working in 2006, that it's irrelevant in an age when there are so many more important issues. Of course, not to serious policy thinker John McCain.

AmericaBlog has more:

The really sick part is that McCain has always had gay staff in high-level positions, going back to the early 90s at least, and yet he's still an anti-gay bigot. His staffers even had long-term partners, and McCain had no problem with that. But now he does. Well, again, to be fair, it's Friday, so TODAY McCain is an anti-gay bigot because he's now wooing the religious right. The past five years, McCain was actually pro-gay (though before that time, he was again anti-gay). So, we might get lucky, by the time McCain runs for president in 2008 he may be pro-gay again. Just need to catch him on the right day.

What this says to me is that John McCain thinks conservatives are stupid. He feels the best way to reach them is to go along with their gay-bashing ways in the hopes that they'll reward him with the nomination. He also thinks all other Americans are stupid because he thinks we won't be able to figure out his little game.

It's very important that we loudly proclaim who John McCain is and what he's about. He's making a concerted effort to woo the basest, most radical element of society in order to run for President. He's a man without principle and without shame. He'll step on his own staffers in his mad climb to the top.

At this point, I WANT to face McCain in 2008. I'll get to buy some flip-flops.


I Didn't Inhale The Meth

Ted Haggard is digging himself a hole:

The Rev. Ted Haggard admitted Friday he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a gay prostitute who claims he was paid for drug-fueled trysts by the former head of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Mike Jones, the 49-year-old Denver man who raised the allegations this week, quickly refuted Haggard’s denial.

Shortly after Haggard told reporters outside his home, "I bought it for myself but never used it. I was tempted, but I never used it,” Jones told MSNBC-TV’s Rita Cosby that Haggard snorted meth in front of him about once a month for two years.

Haggard said he received a massage from Jones after being referred to him by a Denver hotel, but Jones told MSNBC, “He always came to my place.”

Haggard, 50, said he never had sex with Jones. On Friday, as he was leaving his home with his wife and three of his five children, he said he bought the meth because he was curious.

Bi-curious, I believe is the term.

I bought meth but didn't inhale has to be the least believable scenario since... I smoked pot but didn't inhale. This is one to put in the memory banks and use for the next decade. What's good for the goose...


Sense of the Senate

A lot of the pundits are suggesting that the Democrats can take the six seats they need to regain control of the Senate. Here's the landscape as I see it.

Strong Dem: Pennsylvania and Ohio. It seems like the two Rust-Belt states have finally crapped out on Bushonomics and the war in Iraq. Sherrod Brown is running a straight populist campaign and pounding Sen. Mike DeWine on jobs and the economy, and Bob Casey simply has to mention the name Rick Santorum to get Pennsylvania voters on his side (even Atrios, who was not Casey's biggest supporter). Both candidates are helped by strong campaigns in the governor's races at the top of the ticket, as Ed Rendell and Ted Strickland appear to be cruising to victory. These races look real real good.

Likely Dem: Rhode Island. Lincoln Chafee, whose bewildered, out-of-it visage always reminds me of Norville Barnes from The Hudsucker Proxy ("You know, for kids!"), has tried vainly to run this race into the gutter but it doesn't appear to be working against former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse.

"Eight years as a top law enforcement official in Rhode Island and not a single successful conviction of a public official," Chafee said during a debate Monday night with his Democratic challenger, Sheldon Whitehouse. "He's always looking after the power brokers and his own political career."

The attack left the former state attorney general seething. Chafee is "just making this stuff up entirely out of whole cloth," Whitehouse shot back. A similar onslaught knocked Stephen Laffey off course in the final weeks before the GOP primary, forcing the Cranston mayor to deny that he had taunted firefighters and doctored his résumé. Robert A. Weygand got a dose of nice-guy negativism in 2000, when Chafee accused the Democratic former congressman of "embroidering the truth" about the age of his dog.

What happened to the affable fellow who drives a hybrid and studied classics at Brown University? Well, his political career is on the line, and the gutter seems the best hope for salvation. Chafee has slogged through two tough campaigns this year, against a conservative primary opponent and now in the general election against Whitehouse. He survived the first round. Next week, polls suggest, he may not be so lucky.

The most brilliant ad Whitehouse made was the one he made saying how important it is to elect a Democratic Senate and saying "A vote for Chafee is a vote for Bush." In a state where Bush has a 22% approval rating, that's powerful.

Leaning Dem: Montana and Virginia. The national party is apparently freaking out about Montana, but polling and early voting shows a tight but measurable advantage for organic farmer Jon Tester over Sen. Conrad "Bush and I have a secret plan for Iraq but we're not telling you" Burns. In Virginia, Sen. George Allen seems to be in free fall, between the thuggish beating of Mike Stark incident and rumors that his campaign is out of money. Jim Webb is running a great campaign, and popular Democratic governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are surgically implanted at his side. Tester and Webb in the Senate would be great for the country, they are both men of intergrity and purpose. They were the first two candidates I gave money to this election season.

Toss-Up: Missouri. This race between Sen. Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill has been neck-and-neck for 6 months. It's almost exactly even, and control of the Senate could hang in the balance. I hope the stem cell research issue will help McCaskill, especially after the ugliness of the Michael J. Fox/Rush Limbaugh dust-up.

Hopeful: Tennessee and Arizona. Jim Pederson has seemingly come from nowhere and Harold Ford Jr. appears to be losing steam. I still believe that the miscegenation "Playboy party" ad hurt him and this country is not nearly over race as much as anyone thinks. Pederson I wrote about yesterday.

I don't think any Democratic-held seats are currently in trouble. I think New Jersey and Maryland will stay in Democratic hands.

So the projection is 5-6 seats, with hope for a miracle in Tennessee or Arizona pushing it up to 7. Historically in the Senate close races typically all go to one side or the other, as they reflect the national mood of the country (hard to gerrymander a whole state). The wildcard here, of course, is Connecticut. If Joe Lieberman holds control of the Senate in his hands I think he isn't to be trusted. He's bolted the party once and is holding it up for seniority; if the Republicans make a nice, fat offer I could see him switch parties. Ned Lamont, simply put, HAS to win. And I'd put his chances below Missouri but ahead of Tennessee. I got an email from someone on the ground there who had this to say:

I was talking to Tim (Tagaris, Lamont's online guy) and told him about a friend of mine who is no dummy and I
wouldn't really consider him a low information voter yet he was confused about the Lamont Lieberman thing. He thought lamont was the independent. so that of course got me off on this whole thing where now I'm convinced that all sorts of people are confused about that and Tim concurred and said he thinks Ned will get a lot of straight Dem voters who thought Joe was the Dem nominee and Alan (Schlesinger, the Republican nominee) will get a lot of straight Republican voters who thought Joe was their only option (especially as Alan is right next to (Republican Governor) Jodi Rell on the ballot.) and even my father today was like "that ballot position is pretty rough for Joe." Joe even has an ad about how to find him on the ballot.
Let's just say it involves a bloodhound.

Anecdotal but it does make sense, as Lieberman's run a low-information campaign designed to promote himself as the guy who saved the Naval base and works hard for the locals, and now he might get burned by the same low-information voters who punch the Democrat's name without even thinking.

I will not be doing this for all 435 House races.


Quick Hits

Couple things I'd like to get out of the way:

• Ann Coulter: felon?

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter has refused to cooperate in an investigation into whether she voted in the wrong precinct, so the case will probably be turned over to prosecutors, Palm Beach County's elections chief said Wednesday.

Knowingly voting in the wrong precinct is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Elections Supervisor Arthur Anderson said his office has been looking into the matter for nearly nine months, and he would turn over the case to the state attorney's office by Friday.

I know exactly what the conservosphere reaction will be to this, that "they're singling out one person for election fraud when the Democrats do so much more," which shows that they don't care about the rule of law or voting fraud in anything other than political terms. That's a straw man that I'm certain will be filled with a live human within minutes. Et viola!

• George Bush complains about the nasty tone in Washington and then goes on the air with a guy who mocks victims of Parkinson's disease and claims they're faking their symptoms.

• So, Santos Cardoza was a dog handler convicted of crimes of abuse at Abu Ghraib. He's out of jail and the military sent him back to Iraq to serve. Are we out of our friggin' minds? Felons convicted of abusing Iraqis returned to work with Iraqis?

• More on Republican hypocrisy: they screamed when the DCCC put up an ad showing flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq. Now, two ads from the NRCC, the Republican campaign committee for the House, show flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq. Irony, thou art dead.

Great story from Salon. The culture of corruption extends to the judiciary:

At least two dozen federal judges appointed by President Bush since 2001 made political contributions to key Republicans or to the president himself while under consideration for their judgeships, government records show. A four-month investigation of Bush-appointed judges by the Center for Investigative Reporting reveals that six appellate court judges and 18 district court judges contributed a total of more than $44,000 to politicians who were influential in their appointments. Some gave money directly to Bush after he officially nominated them. Other judges contributed to Republican campaign committees while they were under consideration for a judgeship.

Hey, free speech, judges can give money to whoever they want. But the timing is ridiculously obvious. As they were up for a promotion, they were handing out cash to those who were in a position to promote them.

Iran's giving out money to US tourists who visit. I'm sure they'll chip in a few bucks to the US government for helping them further their nuclear program by posting secrets on the Internet for them to read.

• Another story that makes me somewhat hopeful due to technology, although I'm sure the intelligence agencies will find a way to screw it up: They're using wikis to collectivize information on their cases.

The system, dubbed Intellipedia because it is built on open-source software from Wikipedia, was launched earlier this year. It already is being used to assemble intelligence reports on Nigeria and other subjects, according to U.S. intelligence officials who on Tuesday discussed the initiative in detail for the first time.

After being criticized for downplaying dissenting views on Iraq's alleged weapons programs, "we're trying to transform the way we do business," said Michele Weslander, a senior official overseeing the initiative for National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte.

We need better intelligence and this seems to be a step in the right direction. The question is, how long until they make it public inadvertently and give away secrets to the rest of the world?

• And finally, a cringe-inducing story from CNN, where they look at the views of a FICTIONAL CHARACTER and relate them to current politics. What would Alex P. Keaton say about stem cell research? I don't know, let's ask the writers who created him and then throw the videotape in the trash can where it belongs! CNN - The Most Irrelevant Name In News.


Dumber Than I Thought

I mentioned last night that the idiotosphere would probably make the mistake, when confronted with the reality that the Bush Administration put nuclear secrets in Arabic on the public Internet, of saying that the disclosure PROVES, proves I tell you, that Saddam had an active weapons program before the war! Of course, these were pre-1991 documents about weapons that everybody agrees Saddam dismantled in the 1990s, and as Scott Lemieux points out, will does not equal capacity.

Whether or not Hussein had, or could plausibly acquire, nuclear weapons is beside the point because he really wanted to have them. Similarly, if I announced that I really wanted to marry Gretchen Mol, you should send the wedding gifts immediately!

For the record I really want to marry Gretchen Mol.

But not only have the usual suspects like Charles Johnson and others made this mistake, according to Digby so is the goddamn Secretary of State!

Wow. Andrea Mitchell just reported that the Secretary of State went on Laura Ingraham's wingnut propaganda show and said the "Army of Davids" documents proved that Saddam was working on a nuclear program. Lucky for us that Mitchell pointed out that the documents were from before the first Gulf War [...]

Update: Dan Bartlet's out there right now saying exactly the same thing. Mitchell corrected him, but this looks like the official party line. They really do think their base is completely braindead. They would know.

They really are intentionally stupid. What contempt they have for their supporters.


CA-SoS: Bowen up in the Field Poll

Great news for a true defender of democracy. NPR's LA affiliate reported that Debra Bowen has a 6-point lead in the latest Field Poll for Secretary of State against Republican Bruce McPherson. Bowen is running an underfunded campaign against an incumbent in an environment where it's incredibly hard for the downballot races to get their message out. The race couldn't be more important: McPherson has allowed Diebold voting machines that failed certification into the state, lets pollworkers take machines HOME on overnight sleepovers before the election, and dismisses any talk of voting concerns time and again. There's almost nobody in the country as knowledgeable about voting issues as Debra Bowen, and making her in charge of elections in the largest state in the country would have a ripple effect that could get us a true voter's bill of rights and protect our electoral process.

I'll report the findings of the poll when I find them. Incidentally I did some phonebanking for Bowen last night through People for the American Way, and pretty much everyone I talked to was excited about her candidacy. We need to get her and all of the downballot Democrats into office. OK, maybe not Cruz "I used to be really fat" Bustamante. Hands down the worst ads I've ever seen.

I went on a diet... your car insurance will drop! Vote for me!


Random Ten Pre-Election Edition

If election outcomes are decided by how good the ten songs are that randomly come up on my iPod, Democrats are in for a good night:

Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye
Untitled - Interpol
Sleep Tonight - Stars
When I Paint My Masterpiece - The Band
Venus As A Boy - Bjørk
Undertow - Tool
Hey Ladies - Beastie Boys
Gotta Understand - Jurassic 5
Napalm Brain/Scatter Brain - DJ Shadow
Buggface - Outkast

Terribly exciting.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

A look at all the great foreign policy victories of the Bush era

Let's start in the Sudan, where 3 years after the eruption of violence, with hundreds of thousands dead and millions in refugee camps, the President is "readying" a plan for Darfur.

Speaking to reporters at the White House after meeting with his special envoy to Sudan, Andrew S. Natsios, Bush said his administration is working on a proposal that he hopes will stop the bloodshed in the region. The conflict has claimed as many as 450,000 lives and displaced 2 million people since 2003.

"The United States is going to work with the international community to come up with a single plan on how to address this issue and save lives," Bush said. "And Andrew is going to work with other partners in peace, and they'll take that plan to the current government of Sudan."

Yeah, get right on that, will you? I mean, we need to use the world's bully pulpit here and force our way into the situation to save lives. We have no problem being the bully anywhere else.

Further into the Horn of Africa, there is a terror warning due to the Islamist state that set up shop on this President's watch:

The US has issued a warning to its citizens in the Horn of Africa about the threat of suicide attacks from Somali extremists.

The US embassy in Nairobi said public landmarks in Kenya and Ethiopia could be targets for suicide bombers.

The alert follows the collapse of peace talks between rival factions in Somalia vying for control of the country.

Somalia became an Islamic state within the last year because we were completely inattentive to the deteriorating situation there, indeed funding the warlords who were oppressing the people while the Islamic Courts bought loyalty through social programs. We backed the wrong side and now we have a failed state which could easily be harboring Al Qaeda and is threatening the region and US interests with terror attacks.

But that's not all. Turns out the Cedar Revolution could be going to hell:

The White House said today that there was “mounting evidence” that Iran and Syria are involved in a plot to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of Lebanon, but senior officials refused to describe in any detail the intelligence they said they had collected.

In an unusual statement, the White House said it was “increasingly concerned by mounting evidence that the Syrian and Iranian governments, Hezbollah and their Lebanese allies are preparing plans to topple Lebanon’s democratically elected government.”

American officials who were pressed today about the assertion on Lebanon said they had evidence that Syria and Iran were trying to engineer the creation of a new “unity” government that they could control, partly through the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. One senior American official, who did not want to be identified because he was discussing an intelligence issue, said there were also indications of “planning for a more violent” attack on the government, but he gave no details.

But I thought Hezbollah was so broken by the summer war with Israel that they were "utterly defeated," to use the President's words. It couldn't be that they gained national stature through the conflict, and strengthened their hold on the southern part of the country by, again, buying loyalty through reconstruction payouts? It couldn't be that they are now more popular than the central government because they give the perception of having fought back against the Israelis? Could it be? Could it?

By creating a mess in Iraq that empowered Iran, we allowed Hezbollah to get more and more influential, and now they could potentially take over the Lebanese government. The hits just keep on coming!

And meanwhile, even when we "go on the offense" these days, we end up with little to show for it.

Pakistani forces using helicopter gunships killed around 80 alleged militants today in a pre-dawn attack on a religious school near the Afghan border in a tribal area notorious for its al-Qaida sympathies.
The madrasa in Chenagai village in the Bajaur tribal area was a "terrorist training camp" run by a pro-Taliban cleric who had been warned to close it down, the military spokesman General Shaukat Sultan said.

Between 80 and 100 men aged between 20 and 30 were inside the building when the first rockets struck at 5am (midnight GMT). No women or children were present, he said.

But reporters at the scene said that several children, one as young as seven, were pulled from the rubble. Distraught locals collected the remains of the victims in fertiliser bags, while others took part in angry street protests in nearby villages.

That doesn't quite tell the whole story. The US launched the missile, and Ayman al-Zawahiri was the target. Clearly this was an attempt by the White House to make news instead of being controlled by events, which is fine. But they missed. And the claims that all 80 casualties were militants is contradicted by other reports that only 2-5 were terrorists. Steven D, who follows Pakistan closely, seems about right here:

To the extent Musharraf may have been trying to come to a separate peace with Pakistan's militant Islamists, that now appears to have been swept aside in the wake of this tragedy. This may have been the goal of the US, to drive a wedge between Musharraf and the militants, but if it was, it's a poor strategy. Musharraf's regime is shaky enough. This attack and the resultant slaughter will likely result in a hardening of the Islamist militants' attitudes toward negotiating a deal with the dictator, and will make it all the more likely that future coup attempts, or even a full blown revolt against the regime may come to fruition.

Considering Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, and its ballistic missile systems, that isn't an outcome that would bode well for our national security. Nuclear tipped missiles in the hands of a regime which fully and openly supports the Taliban, Al Qaeda and jihad against the West would be a disaster. Despite the odious nature of the Musharraf regime, he isn't ever likely to provide nuclear weapons to terrorist groups. The same can not be said about those who might assume power after he is deposed.

And we end our journey in Tehran, where this insanity is likely to be all the news tomorrow:

Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.

But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.

Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said access to the site had been suspended “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.”

Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearing that the information could help states like Iran develop nuclear arms, had privately protested last week to the American ambassador to the agency, according to European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. One diplomat said the agency’s technical experts “were shocked” at the public disclosures.

Yeah, you read that right. Hoping to capitalize on the "Army of Davids" the US government made public all of these documents, hoping that some Cheeto-eating pajamahadeen would find the ultimate connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda, or Saddam and WMD, that would take them off the hook. But it turns out, probably because they didn't bother to translate the damn documents before tossing them online, that THEY GAVE AWAY NUCLEAR SECRETS to literally anyone who wanted them. I can't wait until some idiot on the right goes "This means Saddam HAD nuclear weapons!" Yeah, and now so does the rest of the world. Anyway, the nuclear plans predated Gulf War I, so they're nothing we didn't already know.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed your journey around the globe, a mini-tour of the aftermath of the biggest clusterfuck in foreign policy maybe in the history of the world. I'm sure there'll be a lot of Congressional Medals of Freedom to give out because of this stuff!

And we should be scared of the DEMOCRAT'S approach to foreign policy? Sheesh...

UPDATE: The answer to the question of how long it'd take for some dumbass on the right to say "See, this means Saddan DID have nukes!" would be five minutes.


Picture Gallery

Take out your monocle:

1) OK, the question is, which one is Big Pussy?

2) How dare the Muslim God reveal the Koran to the prophet Mohammed at PRECISELY the time to coincide with the 2006 midterm elections! What was He thinking?

3) This picture accompanied a story about the 0% rise in productivity for the past month. 0. I guess it was designed to give us hope that there will be some jobs still around, even in a recession.

"Come back-a McSoon."
-Robin Williams, Moscow on the Hudson

UPDATE: Found a couple more. Consider this the racy late-night edition.

4) From the always great Keyboard Kommando Komics from The Poor Man Institute:

5) I've got your purple finger right heah!



I don't know if it'll affect the election, but this is as big as the Jimmy Swaggert/Jim Bakker downfall in the 80s. Actually, maybe bigger, because Ted Haggard is more powerful. Or was.

Ted Haggard, one of the most prominent evangelical pastors in the nation, resigned today as president of the National Association of Evangelicals amid allegations that he carried on a three-year sexual relationship with a male prostitute.

Haggard, founder of the 14,000-member New Life Church, has denied the accusations but said in a statement released by the church today that he could "not continue to minister under the cloud created by accusations made on Denver talk radio this morning."

He has placed himself on administrative leave pending investigation, spiritual counsel and a decision by the church's board of overseers, the church's legal counsel said. Haggard founded the church in 1985.

"I am voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity. I hope to be able to discuss this matter in more detail at a later date," Haggard's statement said.

The former prostitute, Mike Jones, 49, of Denver, went public with the accusations on Tuesday, saying he felt compelled to do so because he believes Haggard, a strong opponent of same-sex unions, has been hypocritical. Haggard is married with five children.

"I made myself cry and I made myself sick," Jones said about his decision to come forward. "I felt I owed this to the community. What he is saying is we are not worthy, but he is."

This article shows how big Haggard is to the evangelical movement. He also shows up in the movie "Jesus Camp." He's a major force in America today.

And the accuser apparently has voicemails and letters.

To think, there's a gay marriage amendment on the ballot this year in Colorado (watch this great ad opposing it that makes the point that it's all a meaningless distraction), and the leading proponent of banning it turns out to be allegedly gay himself. Go figure.

At this point, should we assume every conservative is actually secretly gay?


CA-GOV: Dead Issue for a Braindead Media

I had to laugh at this. At least the Times is honest about where the candidates stand, but the blithe dismissal is breathtaking.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promises comprehensive healthcare reforms but says he's saving the details for after the election.

His challenger, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, is proposing to expand coverage of children and require large companies to pay for workers' insurance, but his ideas, mostly Democratic standbys, aren't getting much attention.

Healthcare would seem to be a big issue in California, where more than 6 million residents are uninsured, urban emergency rooms teeter on the brink of closure and rising costs are pinching the state budget as well as taxpayers.

It is not, however, much of an issue in the gubernatorial campaign.


It's "not much of an issue" because the media literally won't talk about any issue in favor of the horse race. And this line from Mark Baldasseri has to get the award for chutzpah of the year:

One reason is voters themselves, said Mark Baldassare, survey director of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. In a recent poll, just 4% of those likely to cast ballots ranked healthcare as their No. 1 concern in the governor's race.

Most voters have insurance and are "generally satisfied with the kind of healthcare coverage that they're getting personally," Baldassare said.

Most voters, perhaps. Statewide we had 6 million uninsured residents in 2003, a percentage above the national average. In 2005 that number climbed to 6.5 million, and the percentages remained steady. Emergency rooms are closing all over the state. This is a CRISIS, and the media (as well as the voters) are letting the Governor get away with saying "I'll tell you my plan after the election"?



Just Push The Yellow Button

Boy do we need Debra Bowen as our Secretary of State. And all the election protection groups need to be aware of this:

It seems there's a little yellow button on the back every touch-screen computer made by Sequoia Voting Systems, that allows any voter, or poll worker, or precinct inspector to set the system into "Manual Mode" allowing them to cast as many votes as they want.

Concerns about the flaw were first reported some thirty days ago to California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's office by Ron Watt, a Tehama County, CA precinct inspector who has been a poll worker in the county for the last fifteen years. And yet, as recently as a radio interview last Tuesday, McPherson -- who has been crowing about having the country's most stringent security process for voting systems -- denied he was aware of any security issues with Sequoia systems.

"They didn't care about it," Watt told us tonight about his "late September or early October" discussion with McPherson's voting systems chief Bruce McDannold. "He said he didn't think it was an important issue. He said I don't believe this is really a vulnerability."

Read the whole thing from Brad Friedman. Election issues are getting attention, but only in the immediate run-up to the election when nothing can be done about it. HBO is running Hacking Democracy tonight, a movie Diebold tried to get shut down. So the visibility is greater. But the threat of stealing elections is real without awareness.

Again, this is why Debra Bowen's campaign is so important. Bruce McPherson knew how easy it was to hack voting machines and did nothing about it. I'll be phonebanking for Debra via People For the American Way tonight, and I'm charged up to continue helping her. I don't think it's an existential threat to democracy as long as we pay attention to it and elect officials who will do the right thing.


Come HOME, California

From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America. From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America ... Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.

-George McGovern, 1972 DNC acceptance speech

I've actually been happy to see a number of California diaries on the big group sites over the past couple days. As the most populous state, it's clear we have a large number of progressives in the netroots working for change. But it's critical that we start building that progressive infrastructure internally. California is a large and unwieldy state and it's on the verge of giving the Republicans their only bright spot on Election Day. We can try to stop that now but we MUST ensure that this doesn't happen again by coming home and taking care of the Golden State.

John Kerry made his now-infamous gaffe (which is what happens, as Howard Dean said, when a politician tells the truth) not in Montana, or Pennsylvania, or Connecticut, or Indiana, or Kentucky, or Ohio, or any of the other states poised to ride the Democratic wave on November 7th. He said it at a community college in Pasadena, California, and it was actually the second time he has been here in support of Phil Angelides. California, in fact, has hosted pretty much every major candidate for the 2008 election, as well as President Clinton (who was in Stockton for Jerry McNerney and John Garamendi just yesterday), Vice President Gore, and so on. What do these politicians know? Why involve themselves in what increasingly looks to be a quixotic gubernatorial campaign?

Of course, they understand that California is a giant ATM machine. But at some level I have to think that they also understand that who runs California MATTERS. We're the 6th-largest economy in the entire world, with a population of 39 million, larger than all but 33 countries. We routinely initiate legislation that gradually makes it across the country and even into the Congress. With a robust (and, admittedly, broken) intiative process we are an idea factory for dozens and dozens of public policy ideas, good and bad, that also whip around the nation.

And we are NOT a guaranteed blue state. Not by a long shot. Until 1992 California had delivered for the Republicans in 6 straight Presidential contests. Incidentally, it was Phil Angelides, as head of the California Democratic Party, that helped bring the state into the Democratic column, in the same year electing two women Senators, unprecedented in our nation's history. We are staring in the face at a 16-point deficit in this year's gubernatorial election, where a flip-flopping actor without principles or a guiding philosophy save for protecting his corporate contributors, who's raised $113 million in special interest money while pretending to be a moderate, is blowing away the most progressive candidate we've had a chance to elect in the past 30 years. Phil Angelides has run a terrible, flailing campaign, in many ways because he had to in order to get any attention from a star-struck, lazy media who refuses to cover issues in favor of personality. This is impacting the downballot races, where outside of the Attorney General and the Treasurer are all threatening to sweep to the Republicans. With all the money in the hands of the top of the ticket and the propositions, it's literally impossible to put up an air war in a downballot race unless you have millions of your own (like Republican Insurance Commissioner candidate Steve Poizner). Coattails have historically had a major impact on those races. We're in severe danger of losing them, including races with great progressives like Secretary of State nominee Debra Bowen, the most important candidate IN THE ENTIRE NATION. Who runs the elections in the largest state in the Union MATTERS.

And yet, despite all that, were you aware that Arnold Schwarzenegger has pumped $5.5 million dollars of his own money into his campaign IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS? If the race hasn't significantly moved in the last month, which it probably hasn't, why would Schwarzenegger waste a fortune like that?

The answer is pretty simple once you understand that you're dealing with a megalomaniac to whom image is everything. Arnold doesn't just want to win, he wants to blow out the competition. I'm thinking he really wants to get over 50% to claim a broad mandate (remember there is a Libertarian running a single-issue anti-immigration campaign and a Green in the race). That way he won't have to govern from the center anymore. He can return to the "good ideas" of the 2005 special election and crush the unions who attacked him once and for all. He can take away the job security of teachers and privatize state pensions and undercut budget priorities and institute union-busting policies like "paycheck protection." Anyone who thinks he won't do this, that he's learned his lesson, is out of their minds.

The other reason Arnold lent himself that money recently is because he means to build up his war chest, and now is a good time to quietly do it. He will be term limited after 2010, the same time that the next Senate race in the state will occur. There will be tremendous pressure for him to challenge Barbara Boxer in that race. Boxer was not seriously challenged in 2004, and while a darling to the progressives and liberals in the state, is not especially well-liked in the many deep red pockets here. It would take a lot of money, but I don't think Boxer is invulnerable. Schwarzenegger will be seen as a successful two-term governor and a rock star, the only survivor of the 2006 wave. It would be a formidable race that would garner national attention. And if he wins, you can very well expect to see legislation on a 25th Amendment allowing non-citizens to run for President.

And the sad thing about all of this is it all could have been avoided. This chart from the Field Poll shows the shift in Arnold's favorability ratings:

Table 5
Trend of voter image ratings of Arnold Schwarzenegger
(among likely voters)

Favorable Unfavorable No opinion
Late October 2006 55% 37 8
Late September 2006 49% 41 10
July 2006 51% 44 5
Late-May 2006 46% 46 8
February 2006 44% 49 7
October 2005* 38% 54 8
February 2005* 62% 33 5

After an extremely successful 2005, we let Schwarzenegger up off the mat, and he gradually built his ratings back up to where you see them today. After the election he'll match where he was in February 2005, I guarantee it.

The California Democratic Party, though seemingly successful in 2005, wasn't the reason for Arnold's fall. It was the union coalition of Alliance for a Better California who hounded the governor from day one, facing him down at every event, forcing him into hiding to fundraise, putting up ads months in advance, going broke in the process but winning and winning big.

But we in the netroots were not there to back them up. Sure, California is home to some of the best progressive bloggers in the nation, including the proprietor of this website. But they are practically all nationally focused. Jane Hamsher, Kevin Drum, Maryscott, Digby, Tbogg, Kos, Howie Klein, John Amato, and dozens more. I don't begrudge them; they're great at what they do, and obviously who controls the White House and Congress is very important. The problem is that nobody ever bothered to ensure that the state's progressive infrastructure was robust. We have Calitics, and Brian does a great job, but IMO the California blogging scene consists of a bunch of freelancers who don't connect to form any kind of cohesive message. We aren't closing Daou's Triangle in this state, and as such we're probably on the lower tier in terms of local blogging. I think it's because of our cosmopolitan outlook in California and the fact that we have so many transplants. But it's unacceptable.

While I am also guilty of this national focus, I have tried to do something about this. I was happy to be asked to write for Governor Phil and try to generate buzz for his candidacy. The point is that there is so much creativity and talent in this state and we outsource it to the national scene. We need bloggers to come home and take care of their communities.

Kid Oakland is a tireless promoter of local blogging and this post largely comes out of discussions we've had of late. His open letter to Californians treads upon the same ground. We clearly need to communicate, offer critiques, and figure out how to get this state back. We have a broken Democratic Party with a lot of old-pro hacks who don't understand how to compete in the modern environment. They rely on labor because they are clueless as to how to do it themselves. It leads to corruption and a Sacramento that's bought and paid for. They don't care because their legislative majority is safely gerrymandered and they're fat and happy. But it's killing us in statewide races and will continue to do so.

We need to both help build progressive infrastructure in the state and inject new talent into the state party, changing the system from within. Only then will the nation's biggest electoral prize be safely blue.

UPDATE: Continuing to fund-raise, this time with John McCain behind closed doors. McCain-Schwarzenegger 2008? Could happen. So we clearly have a lot of work to do to stop this.


CT-SEN: Old School Vote-Buying

Democrats are poised to take the Senate but will need a lot of breaks and a lot of elbow grease to get the 6 seats required. But if they do so, and end up with a 51-49 majority, they'd have to make sure Joe Lieberman caucuses with them if he wins his Lieberman for Lieberman independent bid for re-election. This is not a guy I want to count on. This is not a guy who I want controlling which party has command of the Senate. This is a guy who buys votes on the street corner like he's Boss Tweed at Tammany Hall:

A review of the use of consultant services by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman’ campaign, which in turn dispensed large amounts of petty cash, etty cash, raises questions about the practice.

Lieberman’s Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over the $387,000 in petty cash the senator spent in the waning days before the August Democratic primary.

Political committees may make expenditures of not more than $100 to any person or for a transaction out of the petty cash fund and are required to keep a written journal documenting the payments.

But interviews with some of the people who were brought in to help get out the vote for the campaign in the two weeks before the hotly contested Aug. 8 primary described situations that appear to be at odds with some campaign finance requirements [...]

The report lists (Thomas) Reyes as getting two checks for $8,250, one on Aug. 4 and one on Aug. 15. Brooks received $12,200 on Aug. 11 and another check for the same amount on Aug. 15, according to the Lieberman report. Both men said this was inaccurate.

Several young men, who were paid $60 a day out of petty cash to canvass in Bridgeport, said they were paid in cash for aggregate earnings over $200.

Rob Dhanda, 18, or Stratford, said he earned $480 in cash over several weeks, while Walter Ruilova, 18, also of Stratford, said his total was an estimated $360 in cash. Ruilova estimated there were about 30 teenagers working out of the Bridgeport office, each earning $60 a day in cash, over a few weeks [...]

The size of the petty cash involved raised eyebrows with the nonpartisan Public Campaign Action Fund, which asked the campaign to go beyond the legal requirements and disclose the particulars of the expenditures.

"No other senatorial campaign that we know of has ever left undisclosed to the public a sum as large as this," said the fund’s board Chairman Pete MacDowell, in a letter to the senator this week.

He said the issue could impact future elections if the campaign found a new loophole and is setting a precedent "of opening up a serious breach in the campaign finance disclosure laws."

The guy's an old-school pol who engages in old-school dirty tricks to try and win an election, like putting $387,000 on the street. Meanwhile we have Jimmy Damn Stewart:

Controlling the Senate will not happen without Ned Lamont being victorious in Connecticut. Bank on it. Not only would Ned make a reliable public servant, he would take a step toward ending the corrupt old-boy's network in Washington, where people look the other way at thievery.



I didn't need to see this poll to know the findings:

The poll found that just 29 percent of Americans approve of the way President Bush is managing the war in Iraq, matching the lowest mark of his presidency. Nearly 70 percent of Americans said Mr. Bush did not have a plan to end the war, and an overwhelming 80 percent said Mr. Bush’s latest effort to rally public support for the conflict amounted to a change in language but not policy.

The poll underlined the extent to which the war has framed the midterm elections. Americans cited Iraq as the most important issue affecting their vote, and majorities of Republicans and Democrats said they wanted a change in the government’s approach to the war. Only 20 percent said they thought the United States was winning in Iraq, down from a high of 36 percent in January.

And it should be. Sure, there's a lot in the background: Katrina, corruption, rising healthcare costs, the environment, alternative energy. But Iraq is clearly the driving force. And it's not going away no matter how many jokes are botched. Even the mercenaries are bugging out of Iraq. The contractors don't think it's secure and are wrapping up operations. Bechtel just doesn't leave a moneymaking factory unless they have to. Which is where we're at.

The real question is whether the tidal wave we may see on Tuesday can possibly break through the ice at the White House and actually impact public policy.


AZ-SEN: Last-Minute Drive

Arizona has been off the radar screen pretty much this entire election year. Governor Napolitano is safe, the NRCC pulled out of AZ-08, giving Gabrielle Giffords the race after pro-Klan candidate Randy Graf won their primary, and Sen. Jon Kyl looked to not be in danger of losing his re-election campaign against self-funded businessman Jim Pederson. All of a sudden, however, seemingly out of nowhere, the DSCC is buying up any spare air time, because the early numbers look amazing:

According to our October 29 to 31 survey of 745 likely Arizona voters, fully 30% of the Arizona electorate has already voted. We expect that perhaps up to two-fifths of the voters in this election will vote early or by absentee ballot.

In our October 8 to 31 tracking polls (since early voting started) we have interviewed a total of 594 early voters. Among these early voters, Jim Pederson is leading Jon Kyl by 4 points: 44% for Pederson compared to 40% for Kyl, with 4% for other candidates and 12% refused.

This 4% Pederson lead is all the more remarkable since registered Republicans and Democrats are equally likely to have voted early, and in fact there are more Republicans than Democrats in this early-voting sample of 594 respondents.

Furthermore, our latest tracking poll shows that Jim Pederson’s margin among early voters is growing as we get closer to the election and as this bloc of early voters expands to virtually one-third of the electorate.

Apparently Pederson has been using his war chest to put up a ton of ads and make sure his name ID is up. With a Democratic wave criss-crossing the country, that was probably a decent strategy. Having a shot in Arizona would really help, as it expands the margin of error for taking back the Senate. Kyl is a reliable rubber-stamp for the Bush Administration. As if there needs to be a reason beyond that, he was involved with Sen. Lindsay Graham in sending a fake debate to the Supreme Court in an amicus brief:

Apparently this entire 8 page colloquy--which is scripted to read as if it were delivered live on the floor of the Senate, complete with random interruptions from other Senators--never took place. It was inserted into the Congressional Record in written form just prior to passage of the bill.

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog--who appears to have been the first to pick up on this juicy story last Thursday--noted that the authenticity of the floor debate was disputed by Hamdan's attorneys in their reply to the Government's brief. Hamdan's attorneys pointed out that the C-SPAN footage for Dec. 21, 2005--the date this debate supposedly took place--shows no sign of Senators Kyl or Graham (or, for that matter, the other Senators who appear in the record) [...]

What we have are two Senators falsely suggesting--to the highest court in the land--that an imaginary dialogue inserted in the Congressional Record was in fact a live floor debate which reveals the definitive intent of Congress. If all this is true--and it certainly appears to be--Senators Kyl and Graham have some explaining to do.

I would again be amazed if Pederson managed to pull this rabbit out of the hat, but the fact that a popular Democratic governor is also on the ballot will help him. And in this quirky year, with the wave building, anything can happen.

UPDATE: Looks like Arizona Rep. J.D. Hayworth, the grade-A asshole whose surrogates said "No wonder there are anti-Semites in a SYNAGOGUE, is down two points in his re-election race. A wave in the desert!


Sully and Hitch

I'm not inclined to be partial to what either of these guys have to say, but I have to give them credit for their honesty and directness in this spot which should have had somebody other than Paula Zahn asking the questions, breathlessly going "But John Kerry! But John Kerry!"

Andrew Sullivan is right. Leaving an abducted soldier, abandoning him to Shiite militia behind enemy lines is an outrage. It's maybe as great an outrage as I've seen in Iraq. How can any upstanding member of the military approve of this President or his enablers after he left one of their own to die in Sadr City?

And how could any member of the military support a party whose Majority Leader blames them for the situation in Iraq?

House Majority Leader John Boehner: Wolf, I understand that, but let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld.

Wolf Blitzer: But he's in charge of the military.

House Majority Leader John Boehner: But the fact is the generals on the ground are in charge and he works closely with them and the president.

This wasn't a bad joke. This was the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives saying Donald Rumsfeld doesn't have control of the military, and it's the generals' fault (and by extension the troops) for the failures in that country. The Secretary of Defense doesn't control the military? The commander-in-chief is not to blame for military action? Is this a democracy or a junta?

Harry Reid and Howard Dean pounced on this and they were right too. But I'd prefer to keep talking about policy. And the fact is that the President, and his enablers in Congress, ARE accountable for the war in Iraq. And on November 7th they will be held to account.


CA-50: NRCC Bugs Out?

I'd still be very surprised if this seat flipped, but the NRCC is either overconfident or they've pulled out:

It seemed like the NRCC became worried about the 50th once again... and they began spending their money in North SD County once again. However, notice who's missing in the latest NRCC list of "final push" candidates.

Now Bilbray's never had a strength for fundraising... In fact, the NRCC had to spend over $5 million just to salvage him from a strong Democratic upsurge. So why isn't the NRCC throwing additional last-minute money into the 50th? Perhaps, the national GOP is really afraid that Bilbray won't be able to weather this latest scandal over the GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION INTO BILBRAY'S MULTIPLE RESIDENCES?

Francine Busby has an ad up about this that tries to play off the scandal fatigue in this district formerly held by Duke Cunningham:

Look at the commenter on atdnext's blog and his shake-and-bake maneuver:

I once moved three times in one year. Registered in California. Moved to Iowa, registered in Iowa, voted in the primary. Moved to Texas, registered and voted in the primary and general. Moved back to California, registered and voted in a special election. All perfectly legal. Never voted more than once in any election -- unlike many Democrats. ("early and often")

Hey, guess what, you're not a Congressman, dude. Congressmen need to live in the same state they serve. It's a little thing called the law. It actually still applies to Republicans.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Picture Gallery

Here's the result of today's gold-panning:

1) CT-SEN: A little hypocrisy from the Connecticut for Lieberman party.

(incidentally, I heard from some people out in Connecticut that the state party is not devoting the kind of resources to Lamont that they would normally do for a Senate nominee. I keep hearing about Lamont's great GOTV campaign, and the race is tightening, but every damn muckety-muck in the state is hedging their bets. I'm hopeful, but it's tough to fight City Hall. In a way it makes me want to fight more, though)

2) CA-GOV: This is some bullshit.

Prop. 85 would endanger children. Everybody wants to reduce abortions, but not every family has the same level of communication. You'd be asking kids to confront abusive parents. The waiver from a judge is ridiculous. You find me the teen that would be able to face a court, or that would even want to do so. Oh yeah, and the voters already defeated this last year. Why am I voting on this AGAIN? Incidentally this is being put out not by the Yes on 85 people, but the California Republican Party. That's where they are. They are not so-called moderates like their standard-bearer governor.

3) This is the joke I've been making for 2 years.


Youth Movement

I would think this development would seriously impact poll numbers, as a rise in the youth vote would change their overall voter modeling and skew their results.


• Almost 32% of 18-24 year olds report tat they will "definitely be voting" on November 7th. Previous turnout records for midterm elections stands at 26.6% in 1982.

Partisan Views

• 68% of young voters disaprove of the job that the President is doing.

• 52% would prefer that Democrats control congress vs. 29% who prefer Republicans. 19% see no difference.

• 60% believe the country is on the wrong track.

• 46% favor withdrawal from Iraq within the next year.

Faith in the System

• 75% believe that elected officials don't share their priorities.

Perhaps putting to rest the old saw that young people are apathetic because they don't see politics as relevant to their lives:

• 70% of 18-24 year olds believe that politics is relevant to their lives

The full press release can be found here.

I remarked when I saw Barack Obama speak last week that I was inclined to reconsider his Presidential bid, although I feel like he's a leader who hasn't yet shown the capacity to lead, because I saw first-hand his impact on college students. Maybe it's not so much Obama as the fact that kids who have grown up under the shadow of terrorism understand the importance of who's in power. They understand that elections have consequences. They understand that we're all connected and we all have a responsibility to one another (they see that in their everyday lives through MySpace and Facebook and YouTube). And they understand that they have the power to make a major difference which would almost certainly cause a seismic change in Washington.

Or, maybe it's not even that complicated. Maybe they just don't want to be shipped off to war:

The prospect of putting on a uniform and shipping out to a foreign land fosters a certain kind of clarity.

By the way, the Vote Vets ads have been some of the most amazing this cycle. They are visceral, powerful and lucid.


George Bush Speechwriter

Via Hooper in the comments, the most satisfying time-waster evah.

I just had Bush say "Tony Blair systematically deceived the UN Security Council, including the Iraqi people. And may God continue a slaveholding society."

Seriously, I could spend 4 hours on that thing.


Even Rove Is Running Away From These Guys

Beyond the bravado, it looks to me like Karl doesn't want his genius reputation tarnished, so he's shifting the blame:

Check out this passage at the end of today's Washington Post piece on Rove:

"Associates say Rove is privately frustrated that individual candidates have not been more aggressive in drawing contrasts with Democrats on national security. In Buffalo, Rove dished out red meat with relish...

Rove this summer signaled his desire that the war could be neutralized or even turned into an asset for Republican candidates who cast Democrats as defeatist. Instead, many candidates have been distancing themselves from Bush on the war."

Assuming that the Rove "associates" were authorized to leak Rovian spin or that the "associates" are Rove himself speaking on background -- a pretty safe assumption, given that Rove cooperated for the piece -- the emerging Rove line on a possible GOP loss is this: The GOP is losing not because Rove's strategy is a failure, but because Republican candidates didn't implement Rove's game plan of painting Dems as weak aggressively enough. Yet this notion is beyond ridiculous. As we've been documenting over at Election Central for months, scores and scores of GOP candidates in all sorts of districts have been using Rove's basic rhetorical construct -- staying in Iraq is strong and patriotic and represents eventual victory, while calling now for any sort of plan to begin withdrawing represents weakness, defeatism and surrender -- to paint Dems as weak. And the GOP is still on track to what may be a catastrophic defeat.

You have to look at this as Rove managing the post-election spin early. In truth, Republican candidates are to blame. But not because of their message; because they're some of the most sorry lot of people I've ever had the misfortune of knowing a lot about.

Let's just tick off a few examples:

• ID-01: Republican candidate Bill Sali faked a brain injury to collect money in a lawsuit.

• NY-20: Republican Congressman Mike Sweeney's wife had to make a 911 call because she alleged that Sweeney was "knocking her around".

• NV-Gov: Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Gibbons may have assaulted a cocktail waitress after a night of drinking in Vegas.

Dozens more exist. And the personal character stuff pales in comparison to the fact that none of these lesgislators are doing the business the American people sent them to Washington to do. They're spending like drunken sailors, failing to engage in oversight of the executive branch, giving large portions of the national treasury off to corporate special interests, remaining silent on the rising cost of healthcare and the imminent threat of global warming, and allowing the Bush Administration to bungle through a foreign policy that has made us less safe.

Karl Rove's right. I'd run away from these guys too.


You Don't Get To Leave This Sinking Ship I Torpedoed!

'Til the end, 'til the end, 'til the bitter end.

President Bush said Wednesday he wants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney to remain in his administration until the end of his presidency, extending a job guarantee to two of the most criticized members of his team.

Bush, in an interview, also said he was determined that sanctions imposed against North Korea must be applied even though Pyongyang has agreed to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.

And Bush said he did not foresee a change in the immediate future in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. "They've got what they can live with," Bush said [...]

He said he valued Cheney's advice and judgment. "The good thing about Vice President Cheney's advice is, you don't read about it in the newspaper after he gives it," the president said.

Bush credited Rumsfeld with overseeing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while overhauling the military. "I'm pleased with the progress we're making," the president said. He replied in the affirmative if he wanted Rumsfeld and Cheney to stay with him until the end.

Actually I think this Presidency is in its last throes. Which, by Cheney-logic, means it'd go on forever, so I'd better come up with a new term.

How remarkable is it that the QUALITY of the Vice President's advice is completely unimportant compared to the LOYALTY factor? It could be "bomb Spain" as long as it doesn't get leaked to the press. Secrecy is more important than competency to these guys.

The real legacy of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld co-presidency will be felt ages and ages hence. This graphic is truly amazing.

(Click here for a larger version)

Basically whoever is President when you turn 20 has a major impact on how you vote for the rest of your life.

So, history will judge. Because the people in their formative years living through this part of history won't forget it when they go to the ballot box for the next 5 or 6 decades.

UPDATE: A musical tribute.


The Young Turks Hire Mike Stark

This is great news for Mike and great news for the progressive movement.

In light of the fact that Mike has shown an ability to ask questions others are not willing to ask, for the benefit and education of the public, I am proud to announce that "The Young Turks" on Air America Radio has hired Mike Stark to be a reporter for the show.

I've known Mike for awhile now. He is attending the University of Virginia law school and he is a United States Marine. Once a Marine, Always a Marine. Semper Fi means something to Mike Stark. George Allen ought to look it up (perhaps in his divorce records).

Mike is smart, tough, well educated, dedicated and obviously courageous. This country needs more reporters like Mike Stark. I am proud to be part of an organization that is going to give people like Mike an opportunity to ask more tough questions of our elected officials. The people have a right to know.

And we're not done. We plan to hire more reporters in the future to cover political events around the country for us. If the mainstream press won't ask the questions, then we will.

Obviously this needed to happen about 15 years ago. The traditional media doesn't even really report the news anymore, just various people's reaction to it. An alternative progressive media beyond the Pacifica/Nation/Mother Jones (not to demean them in any way) outlets, one that can be distributed to the entire country, one where actual questioning of assumptions goes on, where leaders are actually held accountable, is growing and growing. It's not simply an online phenomenon.

Air America had a bad funding structure because of deception by their initial investor. Anyone in media knows that you accept losses for a new national rollout for 3-5 years. Ask money-losing Fox News. Ask money-losing magazines like National Review and the Weekly Standard. Because of the initial dry-up in funding, Air America couldn't sustain the money-losing years. But they're still on the air. And there are other progressive radio networks and hosts.

Magazines and blogs offer plenty of progressive writing out there. Brave New Films has remade the distribution system for films, and their product is getting better and better each time out. In an age of YouTube, video is being distributed widely, more so than on cable in many cases. This Kerry story may be getting a lot of play on the 24-hour news, but the big story here is that they're IRRELEVANT. I'll replay my comment from yesterday:

I just run a simple blog, and I put up a post about the Stark situation a half-hour or so after it happened. My traffic has skyrocketed, and everyone's coming off of google searches like "University of Virginia blogger" and "fight George Allen staffer blogger" and stuff like that.

The MSM may be yelling their head off about Kerry, but people online are searching for information on Mike Stark. This is HUGE right now.

The Allen campaign actually gave Mike Stark a gift. They gave him a megaphone. He will be among the progressive media heroes who use a 21st-century approach to counteract the lazy traditional media and the partisan bomb-throwers of the wingnut welfare right.

UPDATE: To borrow a phrase from Keith Olbermann, Heidi Collins is the worst person in the world.

The really scary thing I saw though - because you just don't know who you are dealing with anymore - because he had a backpack on".

Damn dangerous terrorist book-carrying law school students.


Behind Enemy Lines

It's staggeringly outrageous that we're talking about a bad joke in America when we just abandoned one of our own soldiers on the battlefield. Let's be very clear about this. A Shiite militia group captured a US soldier. Countries GO TO WAR over something like this. We set up checkpoints and blockades and instituted curfews in order to find him. The Iraqi government took the militia's side. And we acceeded to their demands and withdrew before finding our soldier. An American was left behind enemy lines yesterday.

I have to give it up to conservative Andrew Sullivan for being on the right side on this:

The U.S. military does not have a tradition of abandoning its own soldiers to foreign militias, or of taking orders from foreign governments. No commander-in-chief who actually walks the walk, rather than swaggering the swagger, would acquiesce to such a thing. The soldier appears to be of Iraqi descent who is married to an Iraqi woman. Who authorized abandoning him to the enemy? Who is really giving the orders to the U.S. military in Iraq? These are real questions about honor and sacrifice and a war that is now careening out of any control. They are not phony questions drummed up by a partisan media machine to appeal to emotions to maintain power.

And where, by the way, is McCain on this? Silent on Cheney's "no-brainer" on waterboarding. Silent recently on Iraq. But vocal - oh, how vocal - on Kerry. It tells you something about what has happened to him. And to America.

This is a scandal. America cannot look for its own soldiers in Iraq. Anyone who looks at this and does not understand the implications needs to look again. Iraqi MILITIAS are in control of our military positions.