Friday, March 31, 2006

He'll Do For Us What He's Done to the Federal Budget

With red ink as far as the eye can see, Josh Bolten has helped Bush destroy the federal budget. But, as notes, CBS allows Bush administration spinners to perpetuate the myth of Bolton's "accomplishments." As director of OMB, Bolten has helped create the largest budget deficit in US history. But the media let's Bush get away with hardly a mention of Bolten's (and Bush's) budget failures.

Yadda Yadda Yadda

Some things never change. Thanks to the Senate, we Americans are condemned to more lobbyist hell. Over at, David Donnelly wrote:

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Miami sentenced disgraced and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff to 70 months in prison. Within a few hours, some 900 miles away, the U.S. Senate passed a lobbying “reform” bill that sentenced America to ongoing scandal.

Donnelly goes on to say:
Meanwhile, back in Washington, senators passed a lobbying “reform” bill that would do almost nothing to reel in the next Jack Abramoff or, for that matter, themselves:

Read more here and here.

Will Al Run?
On Looking Beyond Favorite Sons

Howard Dean has taken himself out of the running for 2008. Russell Feingold is just about the only "alternative," to the same old names who brought us a rousing me-too to Bush's every Constitution and international lawbreaking whim. Despite his morale-deadening me-too-ism, Mark Warner has roused a substantial bandwagon effect among the state's party insiders. Am I the only Democrat in Virginia who wants to say: Not so fast! Are we so provincial that we succumb (again) to the "from-here" bias that blinds us to the rest of the slate?

At minimum the other me-too-ers deserve at least a look. But we don't have to settle. For example, Barack Obama is every bit as qualified as Warner, stronger in the spine department, charismatic, and actually inspiring to hear. Feingold has shown more spine than Mark Warner --or the others of the declared--ever had. And a new article in The American Prospect suggests, there is a strikingly familiar, but new possibility, one that may well stun the pundit class, which staked its reputation mis-defining Al Gore.

Al Gore has changed. Or rather he is more himself now, rejecting the handling and the consulting which bogged him down in the past. And if the past few years are any indication, letting Al Gore be Al Gore is the way to go.

It's important to note at the outset, Al Gore has one thing no one else does, proof that he can win. He did in 2000. And he did it with a largely hostile media. Had the party stuck with him through the recount, he would have been president.

We know our leaders by whether they are there when we most need them. And Al Gore has been there, speaking out with courage about the war, our constitutional crisis, spying on Americans, and more. And he's been the consummate statesman as he has done so. In 2004, it must have been surreal for Gore watching Howard Dean conduct the kind of campaign he had long envisioned. This article reflects on an important option for Democrats who want change, but also want the leadership that an inspired resume brings. There's even a draft Al Gore movement at

Whether you think Gore's running is a good idea or not, or whether you ultimately support him or not, I believe you owe it to yourself, and the country, to give him a fresh look. The man was the most accomplished Vice President, and most qualified presidential candidate, in US history. Let's give the 2008 election our full, not narrow or provincial, consideration.

Check out the American Prospect article here.

The Numbers Game

Thanks to Raising Kaine for it's blog article (read it here) on the latest Zogby Poll numbers for Congressional races this fall. RK notes a 7 point spread between Allen and Webb. But notice the trajectory. Allen's numbers are falling, while Webb's are rising.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Feingold's Petition to Censure

Is Anyone (of the Nationally Elected Democrats) Out There Besides Russ Feingold?

Our country is more upside down than ever. Bush is still trying to destroy a country to "save" it. While pretending to care about the economy, he's racked up the biggest buget deficits in history. He wants to protect Social Security by undermining it. He wants to protect our way of life with his drastic rewriting of the Constitution and violations of federal law on warrantless wiretaps. He continues to mislead Americans on everything from the Katrina response to his deceptive attempt to slip Social Security privatization into the budget. He's back on the road again trying to deceive with one-sided audiences. He'll keep trying to cram his on-your-ownership down our throats. And he's still trying to force employers to abandon traditional insurance in favor of medical savings accounts.

How much must George W. Bush do to get a rise out of Democrats? Where the heck are they?

Here's Senator Russ Feingold's take on the problem:

Gov. Tim Kaine, Embedded
It seems that Gov. Tim Kaine has been treated to the Rumsfeld Disinformation Tour. The Governor is now embedded. According to a Zogby poll, 72% of the troops don't agree with Tim, but here he is siding with Bush and Rummy anyway. I don't suppose he got to see many of those 72%. No doubt Bush's penchant for showcasing only those who agree with him, as in his on-more-time effort to market his Medicare and Social Security privatization schemes, pervades these tours as well. But it gets worse. In contradiction of most of those going on fact-finding trips there, Kaine now says he sides with Bush. Here's what WDBJ7 reported.
In an exclusive interview from Kuwait with Richmond Bureau Chief Jennifer Wishon, Kaine said he opposes calls by some fellow Democrats to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops. Instead, he supports Bush administration plans to gradually withdraw U.S. troops as more Iraqi troops and security forces are trained.

Read more here.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Molly Ivins is Ticked.

She's just about had it with what she calls "DC Dems." Read her here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Another View: Media Coverage of Shani Davis

During the recent Olympic Games, an unscientific AOL poll showed that, overwhelmingly, viewers want more stories about sports rivalries. Perhaps that's why the media overplayed a trumped-up story of such a rift time and again during the Games. But the mere bemusement of easily bored viewers doesn't justify the unfair harm done to an athlete's reputation. The rift, cunningly engineered by speed skating teammate Chad Hedrick, turned many in the nation against speed skater Shani Davis. And few have taken the time to sort out myth from reality. You can read an exception to that trend from writer Mike Celizic here.

You had to look pretty hard through dozens of articles to sort through the tripe. The story goes that Shani Davis selfishly (and unpatriotically) refused to skate in team pursuit. Ever loving an emotional story, however contrived and false, the media generally sopped it up. In Dec. Speed Skating USA informed skaters that they must file applications by the end of Dec. for their races and that they could NOT skate in events for which they hadn't filed. Shani Davis never filed for pursuit, was never a member of the Olympic team-pursuit squad, and never once practiced with them. Pursuit team captain, Chad Hedrick, didn't want him or invite him until it was expedient -- for Chad Hedrick.

Here was Hedrick, an athlete whose pursuit of Olympic gold surfaced a mere four years ago, while playing poker and simultaneously watching the 2002 Olympics. Hedrick, an inline skater (and a good one) had never competed on ice. On ice, he skated well, becoming a top-ranked ice speed skater. That is not in question. What is questionable is the way that Hedrick's own personal drama and his huge ego persuaded the national press that the entire Olympics was about him. But he masked the fact by feigning patriotism at every turn and trying to destroy another's reputation. A week before the pursuit event, Chad, who egotistically thought that, after a little over three years of training on ice, he could best Eric Heiden's record five gold medals, realized the team times weren't good enough. That's when he asked Shani to bump another skater. Had Shani done it, he would have jeopardized his performance and the gold is his specialty, the very reason he was sent to Turin. He'd also have to bump a legitimate skater from USA speed skating. (See the MSNBC article for particulars about the implications of this.)

It was Chad Hedrick, the aspiring actor wanting discovery and his press, who refused to congratulate Davis upon Davis's gold. In an obvious slight, before US and world television audiences, when an interviewer asked how he felt about the first-second finish of the US skaters, Hedrick said he was happy for Joey Cheek. That was far from the end of it. Hedrick was sharp tongued and derogatory other times as well. Here's a young man (Davis) who'd trained much of his life, only to have Hedrick try to vocally and self-centeredly try to ruin his reputation before the world. Shani Davis, on the other hand, cheered on his fellow skaters, even Chad Hedrick; showed good will to skaters of other countries; and was a gentleman in both victory and defeat. In one moment, when the nastiness had gone on for a week, Davis said that it would be nice if Chad congratulated Shani when he won, not just when he lost. Sure it'd have been better had he not said that. But given the contrived bashing Chad Hedrick orchestrated against him, Davis was remarkably resilient.

Another rant I read about concerned the fact that Shani wore different clothing from team members. But a Dutch company sponsored Shani Davis's training when others at home wouldn't. He was contractually obligated to wear the clothing. Americans should be asking instead why did Shani finally have to seek outside/foreign funding? Where were his countrymen and women?

Despite all Hedrick's manipulations, other skaters aren't mad at Shani. In fact, as noted in the MSNBC article linked above, Apollo Ohno is his best friend. Yet the media's fawning coverage of Chad would let you believe otherwise. Now Shani Davis has even received hate mail. The first African American speed skater in the history of the sport won gold and silver. He worked hard, stayed out of trouble, and did us proud. It was a big deal. He deserves our respect; training support; and, yes, endorsements. Shani Davis will be back in four years. I hope Americans show more appreciation next time.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

No Comment Necessary: Twilight's Last Gleaming, Column by John Cory

In his commtary for, John Cory aks, "Who are these people?" And then he says, "This is twilight's last gleaming. Attention must be paid. Democracy is dying." Indeed. Here's a sample:

Who are these people? These people who line their pockets with the lives of our loved ones? These gray men who lurk in shadows and kill the sunshine of democracy? These people who wear morality like a cheap suit pilfered from the collection plate of decency? Who are these people who have turned America into their own personal ATM machine?

Read the full commentary here.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Port Debate Backlash: Bush Grounds Republican Critic of Ports Deal

The New York Times Reports:

WASHINGTON, March 3 — Representative Peter T. King's prominent opposition to a proposal to allow a Dubai company to take over some terminal operations at American ports may have earned him some punishment from the Bush administration: He has been grounded.

George W. Bush doesn't like it when someone tells an inconvenient truth. A Republican was a hero on this subject. He cared more about the citizens of NY and the US than appeasing a country caring little for our safety. UAE housed the banks that laundered money to fund 9-11 and ports which passed through triggers for nuclear weapons, which the infamous Khan marketed to our enemies (read about it here.)

But in a unitary theory of government leadeship, even in a matter so grave, you don't cross the emperor. Now Bush has grounded King from a trip to Iraq. Clearly, Bush doesn't want the truth told about Iraq either.

Port Security Is a Big Deal: Halt the Ports Deal

The Blogosphere is saturated with opinion about the United Arab Emirates (AUE) Ports deal, by which the Bush administration plans to hand over operation of our ports to a UAE-owned company. But the so-called MSM has largely downplayed it. Meanwhile, the printed media has been a day late and a dollar short giving the topic full coverage. And the right wing-punditocracy and blogosphere would have you believe that those who opposed this deal are un-American, anti-capitalist, and bigots. None of those things are true. But you'd hardly see that mentioned on talk TV or radio. At a time when our government treats its own citizens as the enemy, this unbelievable security breech is, well, unbelievable. It is clear the man has no shame.

There are good reasons to halt the arrangement, which, among other things, violated the CFIUS procedure requiring a 45-day investigation. Sure, there's an "investigation" now, but it's being conducted non-transparently by the House of Bush. The Congress has been unconstitutionally blocked from its proper oversight role. And Bush keeps on keeping on, doing his level best to spend his time trying to work against the wishes of most Americans.

For an excellent read on the subject, jump to the article at The Village Voice.

It came as a surprise to many that Britain had the ports management deal most recently. And for not suspecting such things, shame on us. For the record, regarding the British deal, I don't agree with that either. We should have guessed that Bush would sell of everything important to the US, though. After all, Bush has wrecked the economy, with trade and budget deficits. Our huge and growing national debt has made us vulnerable to takeovers. And the effort to offshore American interests and jobs continues unabated. But no country should surrender its ports to the management of another country. That act makes a mockery of "Homeland Security."

Media Matters has refuted some myths and facts of the deal. I've condensed them and added comments below. You can get the full story here:

1. As suggested above, Dubai Ports World (DPW) is not just a Dubai-based company, but rather a UAE government owned entity. This fact kicks in the automatic requirement a 45-day investigation, but none was started until Republican Peter King, worried about port security in New York, raised a stink.

2. There is a huge difference between a British company and DPW managing our ports. Since DPW is government entity, Bush is handing over a foreign government to manage our ports. As Media Matters notes:

UAE does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state and was one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Also, they have cited a discovery by U.S. investigators that more than $120,000 was funneled through UAE bank accounts to the 9-11 hijackers, and the 9-11 Commission's finding that the UAE "ignored American pressure to clamp down on terror financing until after the attacks." These critics contend that because DPW is controlled by a member state of a country with what is arguably a "mixed" record on terrorism, CFIUS' review of the transfer was not in accordance with the law.

3. Contrary to administration claim, DPW did not decide on its own to request an extended security review. Assuming BushCo would leave reason on the shelf and knee-jerk approval of this deal, the review should have happened automatically. In fact, it only happened when Senators and Congresspersons cried foul.

4. The administration's review of the deal was not thorough, but rather extraordinarily casual. Indeed the Coast Guard voiced its concerns. Feb 21, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a key member of CFIUS, had minimal information about the deal. And when the story broke, we were told Bush himself didn't know that much about it. And the CFIUS review didn't examine the links between possible ties of the UAE and terrorist groups. It should be widely know by now that UAE was host to the money-laundering banks which financed 9-11. Two hijackers hailed from UAE. Prior attempts to attack Osama Bin Laden's base camp were halted because members of the UAE royal family were meeting at the camp.

5. It's untrue that the administration "exacted extra security concessions" from DPW. In fact, the "concessions" are more like a wink-wink between the parties. Articles from both the AP (read it here) and the New York Times (read it here) illustrate the point.

6. It's also untrue that US agencies conduct all port security. According to Carl Bentzel, a congressional aide who helped write the 2002 act requiring port security, that US Customs and Coast Guard are "in charge," but not usually present.

7. Democrats haven't just discovered the issue of port security, but have consistently raised this issue.

8. The claim that national security is (pnly) a right-wing value is absurd and that Democrats are merely "triangulating" on the subject is absurd and outrageous.

9. The Dubai Ports Deal is not a partisan issue, but a bipartisan one. It's also one which coalesces most Americans.

Those failing America are the Bush administration and its increasingly hysterical right-wing chattering class. The majority of Americans don't want this deal to happen. That should be the end of it. If Bush is is serious about securing our nation, he would rethink this arrangement. Instead, the administration sends in the attack-dogs to defame questioners, who merely reflect the view of the American people. Even if they reflected minority views, though, they should not be targeted by the radical right or enablers of the unitary theory (all-powerful executive) of the presidency. Critics and citizens are not the problem here. No man or woman is above scrutiny or above the law. And this applies to the president.

James Webb to Guest on "The Colbert Report."

James Webb, Democratic candidate for Senate, will appear on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" this Wednesday, March 8th at 11:30 PM. Reruns are typically the next day at 7: 30 PM.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ten Heroes

Akaka (D-HI)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Byrd (D-WV)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Murray (D-WA)
Wyden (D-OR)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Mark Warner and Harris Miller Don't Care About An auditable Paper Trail, BUT...

Evidently Bill Richardson does. Read the story here.

This is in no way an endorsement of Richardson for 2008, but it seems to me that supporting an auditable paper trail is the minimum requirement for a presidential candidate. (I'll blog of some of the other minimum requirements we ought to have for 08 later.) Meanwhile, either they support vote-count integrity or they don't. And if they don't, what good would they be in Washington? Why aren't more Democrats knuckling down and doing the basic work to shore up our political system?

Bush Lied; A City Died

For months, strong evidence suggested Bush was lying to the American people about what he knew about the levees in New Orleans and when he knew it. Now there's incontrovertible evidence that Bush was at a briefing elaborating on the danger the day before the hurricane struck.

If you haven't already done so, check it out here.

For the story and additional links, check here.

The celebrating in a small section of New Orleans earlier this week masks the real horror of miles and miles of debris along the gulf coast--wreckage beyond belief. As Lisa Ling reported last week, in one section in Mississippi, she only saw four buldozers in approximately a ten-mile stretch.