Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Posted by Steve at 12:50 AM
As for why Rockefeller and committee Dems decided to release the (Phase II Iraq Intelligence) report on a Friday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend ... well, I can't figure that one out.It's for the same reason the House Democrats, after getting beaten up in the press for delaying lobbying reform, finally passed their bill on Thursday -- the same day as the climatic Iraq funding vote and just before the holiday weekend, guaranteeing virtually zero publicity for moving on an important election promise.
It's for the same reason they were incapable of effectively charging Bush for not supporting the troops when he vetoed the funding bill, or when he threatens to veto a troop pay raise.
It's because they are entirely incapable of creating or sustaining rhetorical narrative. Quite simply, it's because the Democratic congressional leadership are political morons.
Posted by Steve at 12:19 AM
Saturday, May 26, 2007
But I have a quick follow up question: If opposing money for the troops in a time of war is necessarily anti-military and un-American, why did Bush reject war funding less than a month ago? If supporting the military means supporting funding measures, didn't the president deny those in uniform the resources they need?The better question is why Barack O'Clinton and the Democrats were totally incapable of effectively making and sustaining this charge against Bush?
Posted by Steve at 11:59 AM
Thursday, May 24, 2007
WILLARD: "They told me that you had gone totally insane and that your methods were unsound."Please tell me that as a matter of strategy our leaders didn't capitulate to avoid being bitch slapped...
KURTZ: "Are my methods unsound?"
WILLARD: "I don't see any method at all, sir."
Please tell me that as a matter of strategy our leaders our leaders don't believe this capitulation is victory...
Look, setting aside for the moment whether confrontation, supported by the majority of the American people, would be the better tactic at the moment, it appears our leaders have no effective rhetorical or political strategy whatsoever. If you're going to capitulate, if that is your short term strategy, at least embrace it and frame to your advantage. Atrios, as usual, sums it up succinctly:
I understand the leadership doesn't have the votes. So say that, and blame those responsible.If capitulation is their affirmative strategy, then, you know, they should actually use it as a strategy. They should get mad. They should be assigning blame. They should be seething that the GOP is playing a game of chicken with the troops. They should be hanging this no accountability bill around the GOP's necks.
Instead, there appears to be no strategy, no method at all. No short term strategy on the supplemental. No long term strategy to use the FY2008 Iraq authorization process, where we're quietly on track toward authorizing another $140 billion without any real guidelines or benchmarks to determine whether and when the appropriations should be for redeployment out of Iraq, as another tool to effect policy. Our leaders need to give us more than symbolic votes and incoherent strategy.
This is the endThere are no "elaborate plans." Just madness without method...
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Posted by Steve at 1:58 PM
Former Tennessee Senator and potential Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson has shut down a political action committee that paid out more money to his son than it did in political donations.Via TBogg.
Federal Election Commission records analyzed by the Blotter on ABCNews.com show Thompson's committee paid $178,000 to his son's political consulting firm, Daniel Thompson Associates, since 2003.
In contrast, the committee made only $66,700 in contributions to other campaigns and political committees in the four years since Thompson retired from the Senate.
The payments to Thompson's son were described as for management and consulting services.
Posted by Steve at 12:37 AM
Via Kevin, The Washington Monthly has a series of short essays from seven recent war veterans entitled "How A Democrat Can Get My Vote." Some are more resonant than others; all are interesting, even when I disagree. Give them all a read -- it doesn't take very long. However, this comment from Andrew Exum* was particularly good political advice:
When Republicans think of role models to follow for getting tough on defense, they inevitably think of Ronald Reagan. Democrats think of John F. Kennedy. Here the Democrats are better placed than their Republican peers. Reagan “won” the cold war by outspending his competitor—on weapons systems, advanced aircraft, tanks, and so on. Today, there is no Soviet Union to spend into submission, and stealth bombers and nuclear submarines are hardly the weapons of choice in a counterinsurgency fight.Republicans are much better at propping up mythology about their former presidents and leveraging it for political and rhetorical advantage. Democrats should make a more concerted effort to do this, including, in addition to the Kennedy suggestion above, reminding voters that things were better under Clinton (as starkly contrasted against the bookended Bushes).
Kennedy, by contrast, invested in weapons that are effective against insurgencies and guerrillas, supporting the Army Special Forces and fathering the Navy’s SEAL teams. These kinds of weapons—not bombers or warships—are best suited to fight a global insurgency. This provides an opportunity to a Democratic candidate. For once, they can argue, it’s the Republicans who are at sea on issues of defense policy and who don’t understand modern war. We get it, they can say. They don’t. (emphasis original)
* Andrew Exum is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the American University of Beirut. He led a platoon of light infantry in Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks and subsequently led a platoon of Army Rangers as a part of special operations task forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Posted by Steve at 12:04 AM
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The 16-man platoon from Ft. Hood, Texas, uses a decrepit Iraqi national police compound for its outpost. Chickens, turkeys and sheep laze on the lawn, drenched by an overflowing septic tank. Each day, the soldiers venture out for a few hours onto the dangerous streets of what was once a fashionable Sunni Arab neighborhood.
Led by a 24-year-old West Point graduate, the Americans weave their Humvees among villas commandeered by Sunni fighters who snipe at them from rooftops, bury bombs in the streets and evade searches with the help of two men dubbed the "moped twins," who relay the platoon's position by walkie-talkie at nearly every turn.
The troops stay overnight in makeshift quarters, nursing their wounds and attempting to hold onto any gains they've made through the day in the now-downtrodden Amiriya and Khadra districts.
Soldiers here now openly declare pessimism for the mission's chances, unofficially referring to their splinter of heavily fortified land as "the Alamo."
"Sometimes," said Brendan Gallagher, the captain who oversees Williamson, "we like to comfort ourselves when we are taking a lot of IEDs and casualties by saying that the enemy is desperate, they are doing this because they are scared. But how many times can they actually be desperate? I sometimes worry that this period will end up going down here as their surge, not ours."
Posted by Steve at 3:36 PM
On timelines and withdrawal, the fundamental politics are that although 70% of the country may support them Democrats do not hold 70% of the seats in Congress. What's irksome is none of the obvious narratives that derive from this were employed in any effective way:
- Injecting this into the 2008 presidential race -- if you want to change course we have to change presidents.
- Blasting the congressional GOP for opposing any real accountability; Not only did we capitulate, we exacted no political price from our opposition.
- Overtly playing the capitulation as just that -- this is Decider Codpiece's and his congressional GOP enabler's war. It's their fault the American people's wishes are being defied. Instead, somehow we've played this as our weakness and their strength.
Instead of all of the above, Democrats managed to played the supplemental into a defeat for themselves alone. It's as though they can't walk and chew gum at the same time, let alone craft a strategy for political chess. That is much more disturbing than the "capitulation" itself.
Posted by Steve at 1:39 PM
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Mitt Romney claimed he didn’t raise taxes when he was governor of Massachusetts, failing to note that he increased government fees by hundreds of millions of dollars and shifted some of the state tax burden to the local level.
Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado claimed scientific reports on whether humans are responsible for global warming are split 50-50, which isn’t close to being true.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee praised a "fair tax" but failed to note that it would ease the burden on the richest Americans while imposing a stiff retail sales tax of perhaps 34 percent.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani used more statistical dexterity to manipulate statistics, claiming adoptions increased 133 percent when he was mayor. Actually, they peaked and started a continuing decline.
Posted by Steve at 1:03 AM
Monday, May 21, 2007
Psycho Pammy Atlas Juggs is once again all genocidally a'twitter...
Carpet Bomb Gaza AlreadyLovely... Can't wait for her next video...
...Common sense dictates that in any war between the civilized man and the savage, you always side with the civilized man...
...Carpet bombing. All is fair in love and war and these barbarians mean to kill us all. WTF are we waiting for?
Posted by Steve at 11:48 PM
Elsewhere, Roger has a simpler answer...
Posted by Steve at 5:04 PM
Atrios:In fairness to Atrios, Digby's comment was off the Iraq topic, prompted by Sen. DeMint's whopper in support of Multiple Choice Mitt. However, I agree with Digby's assessment of the unrepentant, audacious, craven behavior of the GOP -- I have no doubt that the GOP nominee/congressional leadership can (and will if it's to their advantage) devise a way to reverse field on Iraq. Furthermore, is there any doubt that if/when it happens the Wise Old Men and their Broderella brides will laud the "bold leadership" while ignoring all the prior rhetoric...?I disagree, as I don't think there's any way they can climb out of the rhetorical trap they've placed them selves in (surrender dates, defeatocrats, have to fight them there, etc...) given that George W. Bush won't provide them with an opening for that.Digby:They are completely beyond embarrassment or shame, aren't they?
Posted by Steve at 1:00 AM
Friday, May 18, 2007
...Adding, regarding this from "a liberal House Dem staffer who is a sharp observer of Hill politics:"
Worse, (the Dem staffer) says, aside from the fact that the benchmarks-with-no-accountability measure would be a substantive failure, it also contains a serious political pitfall. If the final compromise has (meaningless) benchmarks that the White House initially opposed, the possibility is that Republicans in Congress, by supporting such a measure, would be the ones perceived as having been the bridge of compromise between Congressional Dems and Bush.Meaningless accountability should be a non-starter. The critical question is how badly does the congressional GOP want/need to separate themselves from Bush. The politics of the situation is that the American people want to troops to be funded for some reasonable, but not open-ended, period of time, AND they want some accountability from the Bush Administration. If they're willing to defy Bush in veto-proof numbers in favor of a bill with real accountability that's one thing, however there's no point in "rewarding" them for a fake pseudo bill.
"If the Republicans come across as brokering this deal, not only have we gained nothing, but they will have gained a lot," he says. "The Republicans will be the ones perceived to have brought Bush back into line. This is certainly not a gift we want to give them."
If the congressional GOP is unwilling to build some real accountability into the funding, then the funding should be limited to some reasonable period of time (more than two months, but not entire period they've asked for), and put the onus on Bush to justify the need for more money at the end of the period.
Perhaps we should let the Friedman Unit generator work for us. I see no reason why we need to fund more than an additional six months and that position should be politically defensible.
Posted by Steve at 1:07 PM
You do have to admire the near perfection of Mitt Romney as a candidate. It’s no easy thing to find someone with such poise, movie-star looks, high intelligence, family stability, and record of accomplishment. He is accused of being too smooth by those of us less gifted by nature....possibly setting herself up for an ugly Man vs. Beast confrontation with K-Lo.
Posted by Steve at 1:34 AM
letter tree Joe Klein gets it sort of right when he opines that Rudy Giuliani won the recent GOP debate in South Carolina. However, while giving a sly nod "to sane people everywhere else" Klein largely omitted reference to the true winners of the debate -- torture and waterboarding -- which both got louder audience reaction that any of the candidates. As striking as it was to see 30% of the GOP field indicate they don't believe in evolution in the Gipper Porn debate, the audience whooping and cheering for torture was the most revealing moment in this debate season and of just how depraved the GOP deadender base has become. Sadly, Joe Klein's readers won't know about it...
Posted by Steve at 12:50 AM
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
"Blazing apostles, guardians of light
The phone number's on the wall...
If you are needing a devil to fight
Why don't you give us a call?
Salvation brings a badge to wear
On the glad rags of your soul
Just keep up with the payments
and we'll make your misery whole
We've got albums of redemption and confessions on cassettes
All on easy hire from the following address
All on easy hire from the following address
Blazing Apostles Flat 99, South Revelation Row
City of Lost Souls, Land of the Blind
It's a wonderful place to go...
A wonderful place to go..."
Posted by Steve at 12:41 PM
Monday, May 14, 2007
Posted by Steve at 11:50 PM
Increasingly, political observers are whispering that Edwards seems to be running much as former Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) Did in 2004, wooing organized labor and recycling a class warfare message. Of course, I'm not suggesting that Edwards' message is entirely new -- in the previous cycle, his "two Americas" theme addressed issues of class and race as well -- only that, of the credible candidates, Edwards has filled the "Gephardt slot" in the current race.Set aside that Gephardt set about taking down the Dean campaign with him in Iowa last cycle, all of this "whispering" and "raising of eyebrows" about how Edwards must be filling "roles" and/or must be re-running previous campaign is just silliness. It's as though Rothenberg thinks a Democrat cannot be his/her own person and must be a posturing synthetic caricature. Furthermore, in today's political environment it's just bizarre to proffer the idea that combining an message of economic populism with forceful opposition to Bushism is outside the mainstream.
Edwards' campaign strategy and message may well be due to the presence and influence of his campaign manager, former Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.). Bonior, a national co-chairman of Gephardt's 2004 presidential campaign, always has been close to organized labor, and he was a leader in the fight against free-trade measures during his years in Congress.
When the Edwards campaign announced in April that it had signed consultant Joe Trippi as a "key member of the media team and senior adviser," it raised plenty of eyebrows. Trippi doesn't merely like to think outside the box; he prefers to take the box, rip it into little pieces, pour kerosene on it and set it ablaze.
These days, Edwards' campaign seems unable to pass up an opportunity to throw a political bomb, particularly about Iraq. Trippi's past presidential client, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D), was about as confrontational as anyone in the 2004 race, which inevitably leads to the question of Trippi's influence on the former Senator's message.
Since Edwards switched his position on Iraq long ago, far before Trippi joined the campaign, I'm not suggesting that Edwards is getting his voice on Iraq from Trippi. But the consultant's hiring at the very least suggests Edwards is seeking to fill the Dean role -- the angry, militant conscience of the party who eschews compromise -- in this campaign. (emphasis added)
But it gets worse. Edwards loves him some hippies too:
More troubling for mainstream Democrats may be Edwards' association with the innocuous-sounding Democrats.com, a shrill, pro-impeachment group that appears to be at the far end of the ideological spectrum.Yes, yes, those "mainstream Democrats" and those "liberal Democrats," where, you know, mainstream means DLC and liberal means TNR, are increasingly wringing their hands over Edwards flirtation with the dirty fucking hippies, using 'radical' rhetoric that comports with what the majority of Americans (read "rabble") actually believe. My guess is this is the beginning of a round of pieces from the likely suspects about whether Edwards is "going too far."
Democrats.com recently sent out an e-mail including a message from Edwards praising the group and urging its supporters to sign his petition demanding a "binding exit plan for the War in Iraq."
For the moment, Edwards' message of confrontation, confrontation, confrontation probably looks pretty good to grass-roots Democrats who are sick of the war, distrustful of the president and once again longing for some of the anger and feistiness that now- Democratic National Committee Chairman Dean demonstrated during the summer of 2003. And unlike Dean (and even Gephardt), Edwards has personal qualities that make him more appealing to voters.
The question is whether, in the long haul, mainstream Democrats -- and I'm certainly including liberal Democrats in that category -- will find Edwards' recent rhetoric and style too Dean-like for their liking. As we all saw four years ago, being angry and confrontational, and having the support of blue-collar union voters, isn't always enough.
If only Edwards didn't believe in evolution -- then he wouldn't have to worry about the beltway Rothenberg's thinking he's extreme...
Posted by Steve at 3:46 PM
Posted by Steve at 3:11 PM
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Posted by Steve at 2:06 PM
Saturday, May 12, 2007
The FY 2008 budget does not include the cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Those costs are covered in the $95.5 billion emergency-spending bill, part of a supplement to the FY 2007 budget, over which the White House and Congress are currently quarreling.) (emphasis original)The FY08 National Defense Authorization Act just reported out of committee on a 58-0 vote (pdf) includes some $140+ billion in "Authorization of Additional Appropriations for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom" (pdf - see Sections 1501-1517, starting on page 655).
It's astonishing that while all sides posture and preen for advantage over the supplemental, Congress is quietly on track, without so much as a peep from the anti-war groups or the reality-based community, toward approval of a benchmark- and timetable-free additional $140+ billion for Iraq and Afghanistan in the FY 2008 budget...
Posted by Steve at 1:16 PM
Without prejudging whether President Bush's "surge" policy will work, the administration and its critics ought to be seriously thinking about a Plan B, the "80 percent solution" - also known as "winning dirty..."Yea, sure our deft and clever Bush Administration team can thread the Shiite needle to ensure non-Iran friendly, anti al-Sadr governance. Not to mention the foolish inherent assumption that our "friends" in Saudi Arabia and Jordan will stand by and let this happen. Clearly, Mort has been pilfering Fred Barnes's stupid pills...
The 80 percent alternative involves accepting rule by Shiites and Kurds, allowing them to violently suppress Sunni resistance and making sure that Shiites friendly to the United States emerge victorious.
No one has publicly advocated this Plan B, and I know of only one Member of Congress who backs it - and he wants to stay anonymous. But he argues persuasively that it's the best alternative available if Bush's surge fails. Winning will be dirty because it will allow the Shiite-dominated Iraqi military and some Shiite militias to decimate the Sunni insurgency. There likely will be ethnic cleansing, atrocities against civilians and massive refugee flows.
Winning dirty would involve taking sides in the civil war - backing the Shiite-dominated elected government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and ensuring that he and his allies prevail over both the Sunni insurgency and his Shiite adversary Muqtada al-Sadr, who's now Iran's candidate to rule Iraq. (emphasis added)
Posted by Steve at 12:41 AM
Friday, May 11, 2007
Steve -- if you can explain why it is ok for us in the Clinton White House to make exactly this point about calls for Janet Reno's resignation but the double standard should apply to Gonzales, then you are entitled to live by a double standard. That is not my choice.Here is my reply:
You also may spend your time better expressing opinions based on my entire interview, in which I said if Gonzales is found to have fired a US Attorney for reasons relating to his investigatory activity (or lack thereof), then that would be a firing offense.
Thanks for taking the time to write. I usually don't respond but you seem at least thoughtful, although it says a lot that you hide behind anonymity in expressing your opinion. I don't.
Thank you for your response. With all due respect, your argument is flimsy on a number of fronts:
Your "double standard" argument omits any consideration of the merit or reasons underlying the calls for resignation. Evidently, because Democrats rejected GOP calls for Reno's resignation we must refrain from doing the same for Gonzalez, regardless of the underlying facts. Never mind that GOP charges against Reno were founded on wild Waco conspiracies, the Wen Ho Lee non-spying scandal, her unwillingness to appoint Independent Counsels for every GOP contrived "scandal" etc. Because Democrats rejected resignation calls based on accusations without merit then, we're somehow ethically prohibited from doing so now on an entirely different set of facts? Do you really believe that?
You appear to stand by your false construct of the Gonzalez issue -- that calls for his resignation are based on whether he can be "effective with Congress" -- and use that as foundation for your equivalence argument. While it is true that the GOP would use any and every non-issue to create "no confidence" arguments against Reno, you either deliberately ignore or simply don't know the foundations of the calls for Gonzalez's resignation -- including mounting evidence that he testified falsely under oath, politicized public corruption investigations, attempted to use the Justice Department to influence election outcomes and that his personnel administration has been, at best, incompetent.
Surely you don't believe that simple "no confidence" issues are the equivalent of possible perjury, obstruction and/or maladministration of justice, etc? Yet you must ignore these differences to maintain the (false) equivalence of your "double standard" argument; Conversely, if you review the Reno issues vs. the Gonzalez issues on their merits there is no "double standard."
You've created a false framing of the Gonzalez issues and created a false equivalence to the Reno issues in order to create an artificial moral high ground from which you've taken pot shots at your "fellow" Democrats. It is dishonest intellectually and unhelpful politically.
Posted by Steve at 1:02 PM
Dear Mr. Davis,
While The General has done a fine job dealing with your use of the six magic words you're so fond of ("The problem with us Democrats is..."), I want to address this comment from the same NPR interview:
"It's up to the president to decide whether he wants an attorney general who is effective with Congress. It's not up to Congress to decide," Davis says.Mr. Davis, do you seriously believe that the only thing at issue here is whether the attorney general "is effective with Congress?" You frame the issue more charitably than even the most sycophantic GOP spinmeisters.
More fundamentally, are you truly not aware that what is at issue is whether or not the attorney general has "faithfully" executed the laws; whether the AG has used the Justice Dept. to influence elections; whether the AG has lied under oath? If proven these are High Crimes and felonies. That, sir, is precisely for "Congress to decide."
I would suggest that in the future if you are as ignorant of the facts as your comment above reveals, you ought to refrain from commenting.
Posted by Steve at 12:30 AM
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Joe Klein on what drives him to drink:
Speaking for myself--and you can check it with my colleagues and bosses--I'm terrified each week when it comes to column-writing time. Need to be sure I haven't made any mistakes or taken intellectual short-cuts, need to be sure I'm saying something sorta new, need to be sure I haven't let my anger get the better of me...One of my first editors, in the underground press in Boston around the dawn of time, said: "You're only as good as your last column." He was joking, I think, but...I'm still biting my toes each week waiting to see if the editor likes it or not. (And if you want some real serious insecurity, try having a piece fact-checked and copy-edited at the New Yorker.)
Joe Klein's terrifying Editor after Joe confessed to screwing up:
The whole substance of Klein's assertion depended on the chronology, and the chronology was incorrect. But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...
So what do you do? This got printed in the actual dead tree edition of Time. So you get a correction, right?
Wrong, says Time editor Priscilla Painton. Priscilla, by the way, finally got into the act when we actually had the gall to pursue that correction. In an e-mail exchange with Markos, she first said that Joe's "correction" -- issued on the blog and not in the magazine -- was sufficient. And when pressed, said instead:
Date: May 10, 2007 11:18:57 AM PDT
Subject: RE: Correction
Dear Markos:After reviewing the facts, I don't believe Joe's
column was incorrect.
Got that? The online correction to the print piece is sufficient. And not only that, but what I just said wasn't even necessary, because there's nothing to correct.
Posted by Steve at 7:11 PM
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
The Bush administration is facing growing difficulties in filling a rising number of high-level vacancies following a recent spate of senior departures.Hard to decide what's worse -- understaffed or fully staffed incompetents...
In the last 10 days alone Mr Bush has lost four senior officials and more resignations are expected to follow. “I wouldn’t describe this as disintegration,” said one senior official. “But there are worrying large gaps opening up and it is very hard to recruit high-quality people from outside.”
Posted by Steve at 4:02 PM
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is threatening to take President Bush to court if he issues a signing statement as a way of sidestepping a carefully crafted compromise Iraq war spending bill.Why would Congress cede authority over this to the Supreme Court?
Pelosi recently told a group of liberal bloggers, "We can take the president to court" if he issues a signing statement, according to Kid Oakland, a blogger who covered Pelosi's remarks for the liberal website dailykos.com.
"The president has made excessive use of signing statements and Congress is considering ways to respond to this executive-branch overreaching," a spokesman for Pelosi, Nadeam Elshami, said. "Whether through the oversight or appropriations process or by enacting new legislation, the Democratic Congress will challenge the president's non-enforcement of the laws."
Someone might want to inform Pelosi that the Constitution empowers Congress, not the Judiciary, as the 'check and balance' against an Executive that fails to "faithfully" execute the laws. Not performing a Constitutional duty is a High Crime. Impeachment is the remedy. Congress should guard its powers and perform its duties under the Constitution.
Posted by Steve at 12:27 PM
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Andrew McCarthy goes on at some length propping up the current military effort by arguing that Iraq is now central to the the fight against al Qaeda, but in conclusion gives up the ghost of error:
On the need to fight al Qaeda, the argument is already won. But the jury is out, and increasingly skeptical, on how well Iraq serves that need. Victory is not about Iraqi democracy or stability. It is about killing and capturing jihadists who threaten American national security.If "victory is not about Iraqi democracy or stability" but rather "about killing and capturing jihadists" what are we doing with tens of thousands of troops in overt public appearance acting as policeman and nation builders, propping up failed democracy and false stability? Capturing and killing jihadists requires small groups of special forces acting on intelligence, with stealth and the huge American public footprint is entirely counterproductive to that enterprise. Even if its true that our disastrous adventure has enabled al Qaeda's entry into Iraq (where it largely wasn't before the Iraq invasion), it can't be used, as McCarthy does, as reason to support continuing our current, large scale, military presence in Iraq.
Posted by Steve at 11:38 PM
Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, is preparing to acknowledge that it should have known kickbacks were being paid to Saddam Hussein on oil it bought from Iraq as part of a defunct United Nations program, according to investigators.
The admission is part of a settlement being negotiated with United States prosecutors and includes fines totaling $25 million to $30 million, according to the investigators, who declined to be identified because the settlement was not yet public.
The penalty, which is still being negotiated, would be the largest so far in the United States in connection with investigations of companies involved in the oil-for-food scandal.
At the time, Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, was a member of Chevron’s board and led its public policy committee, which oversaw areas of potential political concerns for the company.
Posted by Steve at 11:55 AM
Less noticed is what's missing: a white guy on the right. You know the type: He would be the candidate blessed by the Democratic Leadership Council and would campaign on a promise to free the Democratic Party from its feuding interest groups, particularly those on the left, and would advertise his appeal in a general election to conservative Democrats in his native South or Midwest.
DLC Chairman Al From argues that the leading Democratic candidates are centrist in their domestic policies.
"As the candidates start laying out their agendas, you'll see enormous influence from the DLC," he said.
"The overall message of the Obama campaign has been the kind of message that we've tried to bring to this party for a decade and a half -- of hope and responsibility and opportunity," he said.
As for the notion of challenging Clinton from an "electable" right, From said, "the difficulty is that Hillary takes up that space. ... I don't think there's a lot of room to the right of Hillary in the Democratic Party."
So Clinton finds herself with what may turn out to be a blessing -- or a curse: She has the right of the Democratic primary field largely to herself.
Posted by Steve at 12:06 AM
Monday, May 7, 2007
Sunday, May 6, 2007
It's almost as if they think nobody has ever managed a war before...
Now that the White House is searching for a "war czar," it begs the question of who has been coordinating U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan the past four years.
A team of West Wing players led by national security adviser Stephen Hadley has tried to keep turf-conscious agencies marching in the same direction on military, political and reconstruction fronts. A few Bush aides say privately, however, that the White House probably should have recruited someone to oversee the war effort a year ago.
Critics say the administration's job of coordinating the war has never gone smooth enough or fast enough. And now two key members of the White House team focused on the war are leaving.
Hadley said he wants to make sure that if any request from the war zone bogs down among agencies, there is someone who can speak for the president to get it solved quickly.
"That's the kind of thing that I do, but I can't do it full time," said Hadley, who must monitor hot spots around the world.
"This is really more of a head cracker than a czar — a bureaucracy cracker," said Michael O'Hanlon, a foreign policy analyst for the Brookings Institution who likes the idea.
"They want one point person to contact everyone else to tell them that we need these 17 things by Tuesday to comply with the president's top foreign policy priority," said O'Hanlon, a former adviser to the Iraq Study Group. The panel concluded that duplication and conflicting strategies at federal agencies were undermining confidence in U.S. policy.
"It's the nuttiest idea ever," said James Carafano, a defense expert at Heritage Foundation.
He said a war coordinator at the White House would be outside the regular chain of command. "It confuses lines of authority. It's like adding a fifth wheel on a car."If only the Founders had foreseen this and designated a Commander in Chief...
Posted by Steve at 4:28 PM
Memo to Howard Fineman: It's not the Republicans...
From the just released Newsweek poll:
25. From what you know about them, would you describe any of the six major candidates in the 2008 presidential race as optimistic? Which one?
51% - Barack Obama
47% - John Edwards
46% - Hillary Clinton
45% - Rudy Giuliani
40% - John McCain
27% - Mitt Romney
Posted by Steve at 12:16 AM
Saturday, May 5, 2007
* Giuliani claimed that adoptions shot up 73 percent while he was mayor. In fact, the net increase over his entire tenure was 17 percent.
* Brownback hyped the medical potential of stem cells taken from adults and not embryos, failing to mention their limitations.
* Hunter claimed that 155,000 non-Mexicans were seized crossing illegally from Mexico last year. The actual figure is 98,153.
* Romney described a Massachusetts health care plan he backed as “a fabulous program,” when in fact it has not fully taken effect and only half the low-income persons who are eligible have signed up.
Giuliani: When I was mayor of New York City, I encouraged adoptions. Adoptions went up 65 to 70 percent; abortions went down 16 percent.
Actually, adoptions rose only 17 percent during Giuliani’s tenure as mayor, according to the New York City Administration for Children's Services.
Hunter: Last year we had 155,000 folks who came across from Mexico who were from other countries in the world — some from communist China, some from Iran, some from Korea.
Actually, only 98,153 non-Mexicans were arrested crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in fiscal 2006, which ended Sept. 30.... The Border Patrol won't say how many of the non-Mexicans were from China, Iran or Korea in the most recent year... (but) the Border Patrol will say is that in fiscal 2006, 98.6 percent of the non-Mexicans were from five other Latin American countries.
Hunter: I built that border fence. We brought down the smuggling of people and narcotics by more than 90 percent. ...
According to the Congressional Research Service, overall apprehensions in the San Diego sector declined by 76 percent after the fence was begun. Meanwhile, however, apprehensions increased in others sectors further east, most notably a 591 percent increase in the Tucson sector between fiscal 1992 and 2004.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called his state health care experiment "a fabulous program" accomplished without any "government takeover":
Romney: I love it! It’s a fabulous program. ... And this is a country that can get all of our people insured with not a government takeover...
In an April statement, the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector, the entity created to oversee the program, said that nearly 70,000 people had signed up for subsidized health plans available for low-income individuals and families. That number is half of those eligible. But the total estimate of uninsured Massachusetts residents is 372,000. The state has a long way to go.
Posted by Steve at 2:01 PM
Friday, May 4, 2007
Thursday, May 3, 2007
To Hammer His Points Home [Jonah Goldberg]
McCain should hold his hand over an open flame — like G. Gordon Liddy — for the duration of each of his answers just to prove his steely resolve and his willingness to go to eleven in defense of America.
Posted by Steve at 9:04 PM
" it shows how we mischaracterized, we willfully misunderstand Islam. Yes, on the face of it yes Arabic is a language in a sense there is would be no difference between opening a foreign language school - a Spanish language school or a french language school - but in fact Arabic is more than a language. It is explicated the language of Islam so in that sense it is part of the Islamic religious imperial project. Radical Islam advances through the Arabic language. And you go all kinds of places that aren't in the Arab world now like Pakistan, Indonesia, Central Asia, the Balk ins, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Canada and the United States and you will here those Imams preaching in Arabic. Arabic is not just another language like French or Italian, it is the spearhead of an idea logical project that is deeply opposed to the United States." (Emphasis original)Fortunately, we defeated Russian in the cold war...
Posted by Steve at 4:47 PM
In my view all of this is the wrong way to view the situation. It's divisive and sets factions of our caucus against each other instead of focusing on what unites us. Quite simply, there are two fundamental principles that should unite the caucus and represent why we were voted into the majority: Accountability and Enforcement.
Accountability and Enforcement. That's what we should be talking about; That's what should be the foundation any war funding proposal.
The American people voted in overwhelming numbers for this Administration to held accountable for its actions. They do not want any more blank checks given to Bush. Furthermore, it ought to be fairly obvious that without any means of enforcement, or penalty for non-performance, there can't be any real accountability.
Enforced Accountability -- it must be imposed on this Administration.
That means ruling out "full funding with benchmarks," which essentially discards any enforcement. What's the penalty for non-performance? They'll already have all of the money without having to justify themselves until next year. Even setting aside the fact that this proposal is a non-starter with the progressive wing of the party, as a matter of policy it fails to hold Bush accountable.
Partial funding -- whether every two months, four month or even six months -- which requires the President to come back to Congress is the only way to enforce accountability. If "benchmarks" have been met Congress can vote on new funding at that time, but the funding shouldn't be automatic; It should require a vote.
Furthermore, if we frame the debate as being about "accountability" instead of "pro war vs anti war," we make it harder for Republicans to oppose. The only thing worse than having to justify support for the Iraq war is having to justify unaccountable support for Bush.
So, let's stop using "benchmarks" and "timetables" as the lexicon of this debate. This about "accountability" and how to "enforce" accountability on this President.
No blank checks. No war money without enforced accountability.
Posted by Steve at 1:42 PM
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Ask Bill Kristol if he asks his children to loan him money. Then ask him why he has the government do it for him... (with borrowed money tax cuts)It's truly amazing how the GOP has turned on its head the old American credo that parents sacrifice so their children will be better off...
In fact, if you happen upon Tim Russert ask him if Big Russ ever hit him up for money when he was growing up ... and what Big Russ would think of those who do.
That's conservative governance in a nutshell -- asking our kids to sacrifice so they can have a better life today...
Posted by Steve at 12:20 PM
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
For one, hardcore Democrat types like to snicker at his (Hugo Chavez) third-grade level insults at our President. Regardless of what you think of our President’s performance, it’s just rude.Your liberal media...
Posted by Steve at 10:46 AM