Wow. What a lot of pull former Halliburton CEO Richard "call me Dick" Cheney and former Harken CEO George W. Bush, Jr. have with their OPEC buddies - especially their best friends, the Saudis. "The Bush administration, in an election year, had pressed OPEC to lift export restrictions to help control U.S. pump prices and prevent energy inflation slowing economic growth. OPEC powerhouse Saudi Arabia led the push for the cartel to implement cuts of one million barrels a day from April 1, as first agreed in Algiers in February. 'The Saudis have gone from being a reliable OPEC price dove to OPEC's arch price hawk,' said energy consultant Mehdi Varzi. 'That's because of the demands of the Saudi budget. They need higher and higher oil prices every year to meet current expenditure for a larger and larger population.'" Thanks, Saudi Arabia! Thanks for those 19 lads who blew up 3000 innocent Americans. Thanks for Osama bin Laden. Thanks for ever-higher gas prices to prop up your failing, decadent regime. Bastards.
This truly is a brilliant recounting of just how deviously inept the Bush administration has been on the war in Iraq. Here's a taste: "Saddam Hussein poses an 'imminent threat' to the American people. Version 1.0 - Saddam Hussein is an imminent threat Version 1.01 - Saddam Hussein is a gathering threat Version 1.02 - Saddam Hussein poses a real and dangerous threat Version 1.1 - The smoking gun will be a mushroom cloud Version 1.2 - We can't afford to wait Version 1.3 - We never said imminent Version 1.3.1 - OK, maybe we did say it once or twice Version 1.4 - We should have been more precise " Go check out versions 2-10
I'm somewhat disappointed that the Clark meetup for Buffalo was automatically cancelled, because only 4 people voted for a venue. I sincerely hope that we local Clark people might meetup again in the future. I think that we should maintain our identities as Clark supporters as we help John Kerry win the White House in November. We took a candidate who had never before sought political office, and turned him into a front-runner in a mere three months. That's a pretty big feat. Wes Clark was the one who made it ok to be a democrat and strong on defense. After the near-miracle we pulled off with Clark, imagine what effect we could have on the Kerry campaign. Although I urge all of my fellow Clark supporters actively to join the Kerry effort, It'd be nice to strategize Clark-centric ways to get Kerry's message out there. Maybe in May.
Daschle doesn't get enough props, but go and read this statement from the Senate floor. Excerpt:: "If it takes intimidation to keep inconvenient facts from the American people, the people around the President don't hesitate. Richard Foster, the chief actuary for Medicare, found that out. He was told he'd be fired if he told the truth about the cost of the Administration's prescription drug plan. This is no way to run a government. "
I won't go into too much detail about Richard Clarke, simply because I don't have time to read his book and watch cable news 24/7 in order to find out who is accusing whom of what. I think everyone is pretty clear that some of the charges leveled by Clarke in his book and his 9/11 commission testimony eerily echo those raised by our own Wes Clark during his campaign: that the Bush team put terrorism on a backburner when they came to office, and that their invasion of Iraq was a costly and unnecessary diversion from the real war on terrorism. I also think Clarke makes an extremely valid point when he says that 9/11 presented a unique opportunity for us vis a vis state-sponsored terrorism. Not only was there a tremendous outpouring of international sympathy for the US after 9/11, but a lot of Arab dictatorships, as well as a number of average people on the street, decided that the Islamist radicalism had gone too far. By invading Iraq, we've only inflamed that radicalism, creating, as Hosni Mubarak forewarned, a hundred bin Ladens. Anyway, Soviet expert Condi Rice, the formerly well-regarded Colin Powell, and the petulant Don Rumsfeld have been vehemently defending the administration, insisting that terrorism was by no means on the back-burner or otherwise not a top priority during Bush's administration from January 2001 - September 2001. Calpundit finds these interesting non-Clarke tidbits from various sources to counter these latest weak attempts to defend inaction: The Washington Monthly: "General Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff: the Bush administration pushed terrorism 'farther to the back burner.' Bush administration terrorism report, April 2001, via CNN: When asked why the Administration had reduced the focus on Osama bin Laden, 'a senior Bush State Department official told CNN the U.S. government made a mistake in focusing so much energy on bin Laden.' Thomas Maertens, NSC nonproliferation director for Clinton and Bush: '[Clarke] was the guy pushing hardest, saying again and again that something big was going to happen, including possibly here in the U.S.' But Maertens said the Bush White House was reluctant to believe a holdover from the previous administration. 'They really believed their campaign rhetoric about the Clinton administration,' he said. 'So anything they did was bad, and the Bushies were not going to repeat it.' Lieutenant General Don Kerrick, Clinton deputy NSA who was held over for several months by Bush, comparing Bush's sense of urgency regarding terrorism to Clinton's: 'Candidly speaking, I didn't detect that kind of focus.' And this: 'I don't think it was above the waterline. They were gambling nothing would happen.' President Bush himself, quoted by Bob Woodward: 'I didn't feel a sense of urgency about al Qaeda. It was not my focus; it was not the focus of my team.'"
Kerry's proposal today takes care of three issues in one fell swoop. I think it's brilliant: He proposes a 5% overall corporate tax cut to encourage increased hiring and help businesses' bottom line. In addition, he will abolish tax breaks for corporations that take jobs and headquarters overseas. While the Republicans are running around in circles over Richard Clarke, (who, in case you forgot, happens to be registered Republican), the Democrats are looking for ways to improve the lives of average Americans. This proposal, from a supposedly liberal democrat, is the best and most effective response that Kerry could have provided to Bush's latest negative ad. And as for those negative ads - I think they're hilarious. They start out with a patriotic-looking GWB, with US Flag background with the voiceover, "I'm George W. Bush and I approve this message" and immediately fades into what can only be described as a Saturday Night Live-style parody of a cheesy negative political ad. Instead of tit for tat, Kerry gives us a solid, brilliant plan. Well played.
Check this out for some great points by Josh Marshall. Why, exactly, is it that Bush's terror aides (Clarke, Wilson) keep defecting? "The first possibility is that the Bush White House is so freewheeling, inattentive and just plain unlucky that it keeps appointing senior counterterrorism aides who actually turn out to be both policy incompetents and closet Democratic partisans. The second that these malefactors leave the White House, they show their true colors and start leveling all manner of baseless charges against the president." "The second possibility is that every counterterrorism expert the White House hires who isn’t (a) a hidebound ideologue or (b) a dyed-in-the-wool Bush loyalist eventually becomes so disgusted with the mix of incompetence and mendacity that is the White House’s counterterrorism policy that he eventually quits and then immediately sets about trying to drive the president from office." "Which seems more likely to you? Choice one or choice two?"
This, via Atrios. First, Condi says that: "[Richard Clarke] was in every meeting that was held on terrorism...All the deputies' meetings, the principals' meeting that was held and so forth, the early meetings after Sept. 11." Ms. Rice painted a distinctly different picture of the involvement of Mr. Clarke, who has prompted furious responses since he asserted in a new book and in testimony on Capitol Hill that President Bush did not heed warnings before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Yet, yesterday Scott McClellan said: 'Dr. Rice, early on in the administration started holding daily briefings with the senior directors of the National Security Council, of which he was one. But [Richard Clarke] refused to attend those meetings, and he was later asked to attend those meetings and he continued to refuse to attend those meetings.' Apparently, some meetings are more important than others. "
At a TV correspondents' dinner on Wednesday night, Bush the jokemeister appeared. He awkwardly read some nonsensical jokes about Rumsfeld and "Queer Eye". Then he launched an "Election Year Slide Show." MSNBC has the entire presentation here. A couple of minutes in, there's a shot of Bush looking under his desk. He voices over, "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." Glad he can rib himself over misleading us about WMDs. I'm sure all of these families thought the joke was just hilarious.
In the finest traditions of TASS, TANJUG, KCNA, and XINHUA, Bush's politburo is now using the Fox News Channel as its official propaganda outlet. "Republican commission members -- armed with fresh information on Clarke released by the White House yesterday through Fox News -- played defense lawyers determined to discredit the witness as a closet Democrat. " Honestly, instead of "Fair and Balanced" or "We Report, You Decide", FNC should just change its motto to: "The Official Organ of the Republican Party's Central Committee". I am more and more convinced each day that the new, theocratic GOP is simply fed-up with multiparty plurality. Using an overtly pro-Bush news channel as its official mouthpiece, as it did yesterday, is just another tick-mark in the antidemocratic (in both senses of that word) column for the GOP. They don't just want to defeat Democrats. They want Democrats to go out of business. Why else would they demonize Democrats like they do? Still think FNC is "fair and balanced" or somehow objective? Then please explain to me how it could keep Tony Snow as an anchorman when he regularly subbed as the host of Rush Limbaugh's radio program? Snow also writes columns for the conservative Jewish World Review. (Snow now does a radio show for Fox's own fledgling radio network. I think he would be heard by more people if he just yelled out of the window of a Manhattan office building.)
Need some ammo against Ralph Nader? He's not all he's cracked up to be. Some might even call him a bit cracked, himself. For what does Ralph Nader stand? Ralph Nader, and not much else. This article, by the New Republic's Jonathan Chait explains just how self-absorbed and self-interested Nader is. (Link goes to Free Republic. sorry). Ralph Nader, Inc. reveals that Nader is particularly blind to life's realities, and peoples' desires. Think that Nader, Inc.'s PIRGs are a good idea? Think again. the "public interest research" produced by the Nader groups was systematically fraudulent. Every time I actually got into an issue deeply enough to understand the details -- nuclear power, toxic waste, pharmaceutical regulation -- I discovered that the Naderites had no more respect for the facts than the industries they were fighting: in some cases, less. According to this former PIRGer, "The PIRGs are gigantic beasts that feed on money, which it turns into . . . pretty much the same end product as any other beast." Think Nader is against big money special interests? This cartoon makes a good point. Looks like there are a lot of repentant Nader voters out there.
Apologies to Atrios for appropriating that line, but I love it when he uses it ironically when pointing out Republican hypocrisy. The Kerry DBunker blog brings us this 2000 exchange between Dick Cheney and Tim Russert: "MR. RUSSERT: Do you regret not taking Saddam out nine years ago? MR. CHENEY: I don't, Tim. It was--and it's been talked about since then. But the fact of the matter is, the only way you could have done that would be to go to Baghdad and occupy Iraq. If we'd done that, the U.S. would have been all alone. We would not have had the support of the coalition, especially of the Arab nations that fought alongside us in Kuwait. None of them ever set foot inside Iraq. Conversations I had with leaders in the region afterwards--they all supported the decision that was made not to go to Baghdad. They were concerned that we not get into a position where we shifted instead of being the leader of an international coalition to roll back Iraqi aggression to one in which we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world taking down governments. [Meet the Press, 8/27/00, emphasis added]" To quote an oft-repeated right-wing phrase, if it were up to George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and others, Saddam Hussein would have remained in power between 1991 and 2003, and would have gassed a Kurdish village sometime in the 90s.
the most damning part of Bush's newest attack ad against Kerry points out that Kerry voted against sending body armor to troops in Iraq. That provision was part of the $87 billion package Bush demanded when our Iraqi "cakewalk" got a bit stickier than expected. Doesn't that beg the question, why didn't our troops have the latest and best body armor in the first place? The body armor provision represents 1/3 of 1 percent of the total bill. A newer version of Bush's ad shows Kerry seemingly contradicting himself. It's quite obvious that the quote is taken waaaay out of context, and I was quite curious to find out what, exactly, the context was. Here it is, from www.factcheck.org: Kerry: I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it Kerry was referring to a measure he co-sponsored that would have provided the $87 billion while also temporarily reversing Bush's tax cuts for those making $400,000 a year or more. That measure was rejected 57-42.
Here's a story about a politically active fellow we'll call "Bill": "Lito Pena is sure of his memory. Thirty-six years ago he, then a Democratic Party poll watcher, got into a shoving match with a Republican who had spent the opening hours of the 1964 election doing his damnedest to keep people from voting in south Phoenix. 'He was holding up minority voters because he knew they were going to vote Democratic,' said Pena. The guy called himself Bill. He knew the law and applied it with the precision of a swordsman. He sat at the table at the Bethune School, a polling place brimming with black citizens, and quizzed voters ad nauseam about where they were from, how long they'd lived there -- every question in the book. A passage of the Constitution was read and people who spoke broken English were ordered to interpret it to prove they had the language skills to vote. " That young lawyer named Bill is.... William Rehnquist. And now you know. The rest. Of the story. Good day.
Check out this letter from Cleveland's Plain Dealer. "Too high a price on naughty words? 03/22/04 Dennis Mulvihill Cleveland I was wondering why the Republicans believe that hearing a four-letter word on the radio is more damaging than death or catastrophic injury. Consider that the Bush administration wants to increase FCC fines for indecency up to $500,000 per violation per station, yet at the same time, it wants to restrict noneconomic damages in tort cases to $250,000 or $350,000. So if a DJ says a four-letter word on the radio, the harm is so appalling that a fine of $500,000 per word, per station is justified. But if someone is paralyzed, killed or otherwise catastrophically injured, the most the family could get for the (noneconomic) loss would be up to $350,000. Apparently, Republicans have reworked the children's adage about words never hurting to: 'Sticks and stones may break someone else's bones, but words will hurt me worsely.' "
It would appear that my candidate from 2000 doesn't buy the Bush/Cheney canard that Kerry would be weak on defense, or compromise National Security if elected president. "Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said today he did not believe Democratic candidate John Kerry, a friend and Senate colleague, was weak on defense or would compromise national security if elected president. " To paraphrase Atrios, and others, why does John McCain hate America?
This commentator at the Boston Globe seems to think so. "Since the FCC crackdown on media 'indecency' in the wake of Janet Jackson's Nipplegate incident, Stern has transformed his morning variety show into a rabidly anti-Bush talk forum. Every weekday, he has been devoting hours of his broadcast (locally on WBCN-FM, 104.1) to impassioned criticism of President Bush and support of Senator John Kerry. Railing tirelessly against the president, Stern has been attacking Bush's yoking together of church and state, the legitimacy of his National Guard service, his use of Sept. 11 imagery in his campaign ads, his stances regarding First Amendment rights, his handling of Iraq, and his stands on gay marriage and stem-cell research. 'Join me and friends of this show who are outraged,' Stern said on the air last Friday. 'Vote out every Republican you can find.' He has also been urging his listeners to send money to Kerry's campaign, calling him 'a good man' and praising his record in Vietnam as well as his later criticism of the Vietnam War." "With all the talk of liberal talk radio," says Michael Harrison, the editor and publisher of Talkers magazine, "we're seeing emerging from the ranks of `shock jocks' one of the most potent and articulate liberal talkers we've seen in years."
Congressman Henry Waxman has posted this searchable database of the Bush Administration's false and misleading public statements on Iraq. Definitely worth a look.
This, via Salon (view ad for daypass) (click here for print-friendly version) "He's got one of the biggest audiences in all of radio, and perhaps the most loyal," says Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, the nonpartisan monthly that covers radio's news/talk industry. Who, you might ask? READ ON. "And that's why he's so dangerous for the White House." "[Howard] Stern had strongly backed Bush's war on Iraq, but in the past two weeks, he has derided the president as a "Jesus freak," a "maniac" and "an arrogant bastard," while ranting against "the Christian right minority that has taken over the White House." Specifically, Stern has assailed Bush's use of 9/11 images in his campaign ads, questioned his National Guard service, condemned his decision to curb stem cell research and labeled him an enemy of civil liberties, abortion rights and gay rights. "In other words, it's the kind of free campaign rhetoric the Democratic National Committee couldn't have imagined just one month ago. "Our research shows many, many people in the 30- to 40-year-old range who were Bush supporters are rethinking that position and turning away from Bush because of what Howard Stern has been saying," says Harrison. [snip] "That's because of the bond Stern has built with his fans. "He's got a passionately loyal audience, which includes many extremely affluent and white-collar listeners," notes Paul Colford, who wrote an authorized biography of Stern, "The King of All Media." "However he wants to play his most recent grievance, he's got a nucleus of tens of thousands of fanatics who are willing make the phone calls and send e-mails and show up at Times Square to protest, whatever the course of action may be." "They're addicted to this guy and that's an awesome power," says Harrison. "Stern has moral authority with these people, in part because he has not been beating the drum for a political agenda for all these years." "It's that relative absence of political discussion on Stern's show in the past that might make the current anti-Bush barrage more influential. "The fact that his audience does not tune in to him to hear about politics means that he is not just preaching to a choir, in the way that most of the conservative talk-show hosts are doing," says David Barker, author of "Rushed to Judgment: Talk Radio, Persuasion and American Political Behavior." It's an audience, he suggests, that might be more open to persuasion from a broadcaster like Stern. "Approximately 8 million listeners tune in each week. And at any given moment during his four-hour program roughly 1.4 million people are tuned in. By way of comparison, that's more than the number of morning viewers at any given time watching Fox News, CNN and MSBNC -- combined.
For all you folks in the 26th, please throw your support to Kerry supporter and Candidate for the US House of Representatives Ayesha Nariman. Tom Reynolds is nothing more than a WNY version of Tom Delay. Let's send him back to the private sector and take back the House.
Clark was on Wolf Blitzer the other day. I missed it. Via Atrios, I find that Clark just hits home run after home run on the National Security / Iraq issue. "And, you know, one of the things I always saw in any large organization is it's not just the people in the middle, it's the people at the top that have to participate in getting a grip on what went wrong. "As Americans, we deserve an answer to what went wrong that enabled Osama bin Laden and the terrorists to come in and conduct the attacks of 9/11. If that does become the issue, I think it's a loaded gun pointed right back at the White House." Of course. Would that they had let Clark be Clark during the campaign. Honestly - any future campaign that hires Bennett, Fabiani, Lehane and/or any combination of them might as well write itself off from day 1.
Up on its site, the GOP has a list of "Kerry flip-flops". Leave it to Kos and his contributors to remind us of Bush's own flip-flops, including: BUSH FLIP-FLOPS • Bush is against campaign finance reform; then he's for it. • Bush is against a Homeland Security Department; then he's for it. • Bush is against a 9/11 commission; then he's for it. • Bush is against an Iraq WMD investigation; then he's for it. • Bush is against nation building; then he's for it. • Bush is against deficits; then he's for them. • Bush is for free trade; then he's for tariffs on steel; then he's against them again. • Bush is against the U.S. taking a role in the Israeli Palestinian conflict; then he pushes for a "road map" and a Palestinian State. • Bush is for states right to decide on gay marriage, then he is for changing the constitution. • Bush first says he'll provide money for first responders (fire, police, emergency), then he doesn't. • Bush first says that 'help is on the way' to the military ... then he cuts benefits • Bush-"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. Bush-"I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care. • Bush claims to be in favor of the environment and then secretly starts drilling on Padre Island. • Bush talks about helping education and increases mandates while cutting funding. • Bush first says the U.S. won't negotiate with North Korea. Now he will • Bush goes to Bob Jones University. Then say's he shouldn't have. • Bush said he would demand a U.N. Security Council vote on whether to sanction military action against Iraq. Later Bush announced he would not call for a vote • Bush said the "mission accomplished" banner was put up by the sailors. Bush later admits it was his advance team. • Bush was for fingerprinting and photographing Mexicans who enter the US. Bush after meeting with Pres. Fox, he's against it.
I guess this piece by Will Saletan is Slate's "equal time" to their hit-piece pointing out Kerry's inconsistencies. "How can Kerry persuade moderates to throw out Bush? By turning the president's message against him. Bush is steady and principled. He believes money is better spent by individuals than by the government. He believes the United States should assert its strength in the world. He believes public policy should respect religious faith. Most Americans share these principles and think Bush is sincere about them. The problem Bush has demonstrated in office is that he has no idea how to apply his principles in a changing world. He's a big-picture guy who can't do the job. "From foreign to economic to social policy, Bush's record is a lesson in the limits and perils of conviction. He's too confident to consult a map. He's too strong to heed warnings and too steady to turn the wheel when the road bends. He's too certain to admit error, even after plowing through ditches and telephone poles. He's too preoccupied with principle to understand that principle isn't enough. Watching the stars instead of the road, he has wrecked the budget and the war on terror. Now he's heading for the Constitution. It's time to pull him over and take away the keys."
I know Howard Stern isn't everyone's cup of tea. I've been a devoted listener since 1984. After 9/11, Stern was a relentless Bush-backer. Up until 2/23/04, that is. Upon returning from vacation, Stern mentioned that he had read Franken's "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them". He returned to the air a changed man. Atrios notes that Howard Stern's suspension from Clear Channel Stations seems to have coincided with Stern's decision to back "Anybody but Bush". Well, Clear Channel is in bed with GWB. Big time, to coin a Cheneyism. If you want Bush out in November and want a good laugh, you could do worse than tuning into WBUF 92.9 from 6am - 10:30 am every morning.
This is it, folks. Kerry is the presumptive nominee. Edwards is expected to drop out at a North Carolina press conference at 4pm. Bush called Kerry last night to congratulate him. Please visit www.johnkerry.com and volunteer, donate money, do whatever you can to help defeat George W. Bush in November. Democrats must unify to defeat George Bush AND Ralph Nader. And don't buy that "Ralph Nader is a good guy gone bad" nonsense. Ralph Nader is a bad guy who did a few useful things in his life. Nader, also, must be defeated. In battleground states like Florida and Ohio, Nader must be defeated swiftly and decisively. Perhaps he doesn't get on the ballot. That would be nice. George Bush has given us record budget and trade deficits. He has spearheaded tax break after tax break for the wealthiest among us, and no benefit has "trickled down" to the middle class and working class. Health care is still a shambles for everyone except the HMOs themselves, which made record profits last year. Prescription drug prices are still sky-high, and this administration has done everything in its power to ensure that pharma companies do not have to succumb to any sort of price controls, as they must in other industrialized nations. George Bush has joined a radical right-wing cultural war that truly threatens to take away rights guaranteed in our Constitution. This administration is up in arms about Janet Jackson's anatomy, but couldn't care less about real problems that regular people face. Most importantly, George Bush and his neoconservative handlers sold us a war based on absolute falsehoods. How can Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, Frum and Feith now tell us that the CIA OVERSOLD the threat that Iraq and its non-existent WMDs posed, when in February 2003 they were telling us that the CIA was UNDERESTIMATING that very same threat. This crowd is a bunch of liars that want the United States to impose democracy in other countries by force, rather than persuasion. Well, Iraqi democracy still hasn't come, and it is threatened by Sunni al Qaeda provocations against the Iraqi Shi'a majority. Neoconservatives, who see the Israeli far-right Likud party as their model, will not rest until the entire world is subjected to the sort of indiscriminate suicide bombings that Israel now suffers, and they expect to gain power and influence in this country as far-right Leninists. To coin a phrase - make no mistake. The neoconservative far-right Leninists want this country to be gripped by a constant fear of imminent terrorism. Just like Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Castro learned that the best way to consolidate their hold on power was to perpetuate the revolutions that brought them to power, the neoconservatives hope to consolidate their power by perpetuating the feelings and opinions that Americans held on September 12, 2001. Never before has the choice been easier. Never before has the race been so important. Never before has our very way of life been so threatened. JOIN JOHN KERRY'S CAMPAIGN RIGHT NOW.
Click here to see the unofficial Erie County-only tally. In the beauty contest, Kerry defeated Edwards 58% - 30%. I must say that Edwards did rather well. Kudos to him and his local team. Clark received the smallest number of votes - less even than Lyndon Larouche. 240 Erie County voters went for Clark. Of the local delegates, Dave Swarts received the highest number of votes, at 991. Congratulations, Dave!
Go vote. Go vote for Clark and his delegates. If you've pledged to vote for another candidate, vote for him in the beauty contest, but vote for the Clark delegates. Last night we had a glass-clinking at Buffalo Brewpub. It was a nice time, and thanks to all who were there. The Clark meetup will change to http://wesleyclark.meetup.com in the future, and I'll show up as long as they keep going on. I also recommend that we grow the ranks of the Democratic Party meetup. http://democrat.meetup.com