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12.20.2003

 

Lieberman Is Buddying Up To Clinton? Wait A Minute...


Joe Lieberman's sure been coming to Bill Clinton's defense lately when he feels that Howard Dean is slighting Clinton. Nothing like using Clinton to boost your own political standing among Democrats.

But as American Stranger asked me this morning: Wasn't Lieberman one of the most critical Dems back in the impeachment days?

Absolutely. In his speech during the impeachment proceedings, he was quite the good soldier in voting against it. But he still took the opportunity to spank Clinton several times (presented in small type since there's so stinkin' much of it):

As I have stated previously on this Senate floor, I have been deeply disappointed and angered by this President's conduct--that which is covered in the Articles, and the more personal misbehavior that is not--and like all of us here, I have struggled uncomfortably for more than a year with how to respond to it. President Clinton engaged in an extramarital sexual relationship with a young White House employee in the Oval Office, which, though consensual, was irresponsible and immoral, and thus raised serious questions about his judgment and his respect for the high office he holds. He then made false or misleading statements about that relationship to the American people, to a Federal district court judge in a civil deposition, and to a Federal grand jury; in so doing, he betrayed not only his family but the public's trust, and undermined his moral authority and public credibility.
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...I conclude that the appropriate question for each of us to ask is not whether the President committed perjury or obstruction of justice, but whether he committed a high crime or misdemeanor...
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I have no doubt that under certain circumstances such offenses could demonstrate such a level of depravity, deceit and disregard for the administration of justice that we would have no choice but to conclude that the President could no longer be trusted to use the authority of his office and make the decisions entrusted to him as Chief Executive in the best interest of the nation. It is because I hold this position that I found reaching a decision in this case such a difficult matter.
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I am puzzled by the President's including in his prepared grand jury testimony the statement that `I regret that what began as a friendship came to include this [inappropriate] conduct.' (Grand Jury Testimony of President Clinton p. 9.) As the House Managers pointed out, according to Ms. Lewinsky, she and the President engaged in `this conduct' on the first day they met.
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I am, of course, profoundly unsettled by President Clinton's irresponsibility in carrying on a sexual relationship with an intern in the Oval Office and by the disregard for the truth he showed in trying to conceal it from his family, his staff, the courts and the American people.
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My disappointment and anger with the President's actions were reawakened as I listened to the evidence the Managers have presented.
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I have observed that roughly two-thirds of the public consistently expresses its opposition to the President's removal. But I do not think we can leave this proceeding, especially those of us who have voted against the Articles, without also noting that roughly one-third of the American people have consistently expressed their belief that this President is unfit to lead this nation. That is a startlingly large percentage of our people who have totally lost confidence in our nation's leader.
And that was after THIS little stampy-feet tirade Joe had on the floor of the Senate as he cried about Clinton's morality. Some friggin' friend. I gotta think Clinton remembers as well, and must be seething every time he sees Joe invoke his name against another Democrat for political gain.

If Joe's still having a hissyfit over Gore's endorsement of Dean, too bad. That's politics - the game you're in. Gore gave him a golden opportunity in 2000 which he squandered by turning into a sweat puddle debating Dick Cheney. Get over it, Joe. Better yet - just go away.

Cross-posted at Hoffmania!


 

It's The Hypocrisy That Gets Me


I was wondering what the news item that would inspire my first post here at Points West, and those crazy experts over at the FDA have provided the perfect fodder.

Drugstore access for the "morning after" pill urged! And by a panel of FDA experts, no less! Finally, finally, finally -- a chance for women to have complete control over our bodies and our reproductive choices. While it's probably not something I am personally going to need, I was ecstatic when I read the headline.

Then I read the article. As it turns out, not everyone on that expert panel is in favor of making the morning after pill available over the counter. What could be the reason, you might be wondering? Is the pill too dangerous to dispense without a doctor's instructions and care? Are these dissenting experts concerned about the possible side effects on the health of the women who might take this drug? No! These experts are concerned because they think "the pill's action amounts to abortion" and that "wider availability would encourage couples to engage in casual unprotected sex." How that's for the scientific process?

Now, I'm going to make an intuitive leap here (OK, some might call it a stereotype) and assume that these dissenting panel members are Republicans, or at least conservative due to the fact that they are clearly allowing their moral beliefs to influence what should be a medical decision. So, what I want to know is -- why does the party that rails against "big government" because they don't want anyone sticking their noses into their shady business dealings think its OK for that same government to meddle about in my healthcare decisions for any reason other than a legitimate medical one?

And while I know it's only available with a prescription (not counting those pesky little promotional mailers), I'd like to close by pointing out that no one seemed to be worried that Viagra might encourage people to have unprotected sex.

Thanks to everyone here at Points West for the invite! I'm happy to be here, and I'm sure you'll be hearing more from me soon!

Now, back to the weekend! Cheers! - Sandy


12.19.2003

 

Dean = Dole?



Last night on FAUX news, Greta Van Susteren spoke with Laura Ingraham, and she tossed in a whole new comparison that I had yet to hear: Dean is like Dole. No transcript -- unlike CNN, FAUX picks and chooses -- but to paraphrase:

"Like Dole in 1996, Democrats really like the guy but he's not going to beat the incumbent. And like Dole, it looks like they are going to nominate him anyway."

What a great illustration as to why we shouldn't take campaign advice from the opposition. Ingraham obviously has zero clue what is happening right now in the Democratic Party. The battle, in my view, is to not make the Republican mistake of 1996 -- namely, nominatiing some old party hack-saw like Gephardt, Lieberman, or Kerry. Dean is nothing like Dole. Dole received a consolation prize for years of service, something the Democrats are poised to avoid by nominating Dean, or perhaps even Clark, not vice-versa -- thus their appeal. Dems don't just wanna fight Bush, as the pundits seem to claim -- we wanna win.

Now, as I count them, the pro pundits (and even yours truly) on both sides of the aisle have now compared Dean to: FDR, Truman, McCarthy, Goldwater, McGovern, Carter, Reagan, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton and Dole. Do you realize that the other Dems have been compared to, well, really not one single president that I can recall? Two exceptions: a short-lived JFK exception for Kerry -- and that a comparison his campaign pushed hard -- and the unavoidable Eisenhower comparisons for Clark. Dean has been compared to at least 11 presidents and nominees from both parties in the last few months, and with alarming -- quite frankly, frustrating -- frequency.

So, any doubts that we have a candidate who's "presidential" on our hands? Not me. Obviously, on this our critics and our supporters seem to agree if all the comparisons are to be believed, and the fact that they can't pin him down to any one of them is an encouraging sign -- very encouraging.

But ultimately, you know who he reminds me of most? President Dean.

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Dean Nation


 

Sucks Like Hoover


Interesting juxtaposition from Eschaton:
As the economy careened into deeper and deeper trouble, newspapers resorted to desperate cheerleading. "Optimism Gains as U.S. Speeds Jobless Relief," read one headline. "[Bush's] Drive to Aid Jobless Shows Results," read another. "President Declares Voluntary Cooperation of Industry Will Solve Problems."

[Karl Rove] joined [Bush’s] doomed campaign for reeelction. He helped line up experts to sing [Bush’s] praises, including a pair of Yale economists who predicted the economy was now on a "sound foundation" and "the run of the dollar had been stopped." He formed a "Non-Partisan Fact-Finding Committee" which issued a poll showing [Bush] trouncing his opponent, [any Democratic contender]. Outside the circle of businessmen and their sycophants, however, no one believed a word of it. The election of [any Democratic contender] brought new experts into power, with new and grandiose ideas about what could and should be done to secure the general welfare. For [Bush] and the old guard, it was the end of an era and everything that they believed in, but for [Karl Rove] and the propaganda industry, business was booming like never before.
Yet the year is actually 1932 and the replacements made were depression with [recession] Hoover with [Bush] Edward Bernays with [Karl Rove] and Franklin Delano Roosevelt with [any current Democratic contender]. Taken from this book pages 51 and 52.

But hey Trammell! Isn't this just more negative Democratic wishful bad news thinking, ya groundhog? Well, the "kitchen table" economy is gonna decide this election, not Bush's "kitchen cabinet" -- but for good measure, let's look at another view, this essay from economist Dean Baker:
After his failure regarding the largest financial bubble in the history of the world, it looks like Greenspan is now actively promoting the world's second-biggest bubble: the housing market.

The basic story is simple: Over the last eight years housing prices have outpaced the overall rate of inflation by more than 35 percentage points. There is no precedent for this sort of rise in home prices. In the past, home prices largely kept even with the general rate of inflation.

The housing bulls have a number of explanations for this increase in home prices: a growing population, a limited supply of urban land, environmental restrictions on development. But these stories are no better than the "new economy" yarns of those who defended the stock market bubble. We have always had a growing population and limited supplies of urban land, and environmental restrictions predated the mid-1990s. These factors never led to elevated home prices in prior decades, which is why experts are warning about a housing bubble.

Fortunately, it is not necessary to get into these details to prove that there is a housing bubble. If underlying factors, rather than irrational exuberance, are the basis for the increase in home prices, then these factors should be having the same effect on rental prices. Studies have shown that, historically, rents and home prices have appreciated together. In other words, underlying factors will drive up home sale prices and rental prices by roughly the same amount. The rental markets tell a different story.

From 1998 to 2001, rental prices rose more rapidly than the overall rate of inflation, but not nearly as fast as home prices. If higher home prices are the result of a real shortage of housing, then rental prices should continue to rise to catch up with homes prices. That isn't happening. Rental prices are barely moving as record vacancy rates nationwide force landlords to hold the line on rents. In bubble areas, such as Seattle and San Francisco, rents are falling.

Where does Greenspan fit in? He has promoted the housing bubble by reassuring people in public statements that there is no bubble. He also helped drive mortgage interest rates to 40-year lows earlier this year — allowing people to spend more money on houses, which adds to price inflation and to the bubble.

The health of the economy will be the key to George W. Bush's reelection. Over the last three years, the housing market has been the driving force in the economy. Greenspan appears determined to have it keep playing that role as long as possible. But the bubble will eventually burst, leading to another recession and destroying the main source of savings for tens of millions of families. Could a responsible public official possibly pursue such a policy?

When President Bush's first tax cut was being debated before Congress in January 2001, the public anxiously awaited Greenspan's views. He told Congress that the tax cuts were a good idea and that he was worried that without them the budget surpluses would be too large and that the government would pay off the national debt too quickly.

Three years later, we face huge budget deficits. There is no reason to ask whether Greenspan — who doesn't have to answer to anyone — would pursue a destructive economic policy for political reasons because he has already done so.
Selfish caviot: of course, I'd like to see home prices go down, though not at the expense of the larger economy -- heck, I'm gonna be in the job market in Los Angeles where housing is a huge part of the economic equation. But isn't it time to fire the magicians and the PR hacks and the advertising moguls and simply have some honest fucking leadership?

"Ah yes, my little naive one," you say, "and why do you hate America?"


 

If Bush Were a Stock....


The investment firm ISI Group has analyzed recent Gallup polling and gives us this little tid-bit about the 2004 race:

While President Bush's approval ratings one year out trail only Eisenhower's and Reagan's at similar points in their first terms, the currenet partisan divide in the United States gives Dubya a "very high floor" and an "unusually low ceiling." "As a result, if Bush were a stock, he would have an extraordinarily narrow trading range," the analysis says.

And so, those Bush-backers predicting Johnson-64 and Nixon-72 style landslides take note: This election is going to be quite close and the winner could very well be determined by which party succeeds in getting out their base vote next November. (And, if his re-election campaign is successful, it wouldn't surprise me if Bush won another popular vote-loss "victory" in the Electoral College.)

The always-wonderful-to-read Josh Marshall has the details.


12.18.2003

 

MISSION (not so) ACCOMPLISHED


Holy Crap and Merry Christmas:
Agents for deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein have penetrated the U.S. command in Iraq, ABCNEWS has learned. As a result, they have the potential to undermine U.S. authority.

Among the documents found in Saddam's briefcase when he was captured last weekend was a list of names of Iraqis who have been working with the United States — either in the Iraqi security forces or the Coalition Provisional Authority — and are feeding information to the insurgents, a U.S. official told ABCNEWS.

"We were badly infiltrated," said the official, adding that finding the list of names is a "gold mine." [...]

"They could conceivably disrupt operations directed against you. They can throw sand in the gears, they can spread disinformation," said Rosenau. "They are going to be able to tell you what those forces are trying to do, what their equipment is like, what their tactics are going to be and so on."
Clearly this Mission is (and continues to be not so easily) Accomplished.


 

Pathetic Joke


So, if John Kerry's going to give his campaign all that money, why should I, or anyone else for that matter, donate?


 

9/11 Chair: Attack Was Preventable


Why this story isn't saturating the airwaves on every single network and news channel in the country is beyond me. (Well, I guess I should know better. The media is so in love with the Bush boy they couldn't possibly broadcast such potentially devestating news. Three words: Hell, hand, and basket.)

For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented, CBS News reported yesterday. Former New Jersey Governer Thomas Keane, a Republican appointed by President Bush to head the commission, is now pointing fingers at the administration and laying blame.
"This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right. As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done. This was not something that had to happen. There are people that, if I was doing the job, would certainly not be in the position they were in at that time because they failed. They simply failed."
Kean promises major revelations in public testimony beginning next month from top officials in the FBI, CIA, Defense Department, National Security Agency and, maybe, President Bush and former President Clinton.

The Bush administration was warned about a massive terror plot in the months before September 11, 2001 by several countries, including Israel, Egypt, Germany and Russia. CIA Director George Tenet delivered a specific briefing on the matter to the administration on August 8, 2001. Sandy Berger, President Clinton's National Security Adviser, prepared a huge dossier on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden for transition meetings with Condoleezza Rice and John Ashcroft in late 2000 and early 2001 . Berger's moutain of data on the terrorist group, however, allegedly went completely unread until the attacks took place.

The attacks themselves managed, for almost an hour, to pierce the most formidable air defense system in the history of the Earth without a single fighter aircraft taking wing until the catastrophe was concluded. What on Earth happened there?

As much as the Republican right may try, this can't be fully dropped at Clinton's door. Starting in 1995, Clinton took actions against terrorism that were unprecedented in American history. He poured billions and billions of dollars into counterterrorism activities within the intelligence agencies. He poured billions more into the protection of critical domestic infrastructure. He ordered massive federal stockpiling of antidotes and vaccines to prepare for a possible bioterror attack. He order a reorganization of the intelligence community itself, ramming through reforms and new procedures to address the threat. Within the National Security Council, "threat meetings" were held three times a week to assess looming conspiracies. In 1996, Clinton delivered a major address to the United Nations on the matter of international terrorism, calling it "The enemy of our generation."

However, in the GOP-led Congress, Clinton was thwarted by the conservative majority every step of the way. His 1996 terror bill, which included many of the anti-terror measures we now take for granted after 9/11, was reduced to the point of uselessness by attacks from the Republican right. Jesse Helms and Trent Lott were openly hostile and dismissive of the threats mentioned by Clinton, accussing him of "Wag the Dog" tactics to repair a tarnished personal image.

The partisanship proved to be catastrophic. We would do well to remember that many of the Republican activists who pushed throughout the 1990s for the destruction of Clinton's agenda, not to mention his presidency, were the guys in complete charge of the government in the weeks and months leading up to 9/11; and they're still in charge today.

Thomas Kean admits he has plenty more questions than answers. Both the Clinton team and the Bush administration ought to lay it all out for the committee.

Anything less would be an insult to the 3,000 souls who spent their last minutes on Earth staring terror in the face on that horrible morning.


 

Fizzy Lifting Drinks


Oh, sweet delicious treat of a day!!! Of all things, Matt Drudge is calling Bill O'Reilly a liar. Sky is purple, water is dry, welcome to the GOP Chocolate Factory -- and O'Reilly's been partaking in some fizzy lifting drinks:
"We've outsold that guy [Franken] all over the place," O'Reilly claimed Monday on NBC's TODAY show. "We're running against Hillary for most copies of non-fiction books sold this year!"
Uh, nope -- you're not. Franken is outpacing you by nearly 250,000 copies! -- and Hillary by twice that amount! And so...
HOST UNHINGED AFTER SALES FIGURES REVEALED -- CALLS DRUDGE 'THREAT TO DEMOCRACY'

TalkerAuthor Bill O'Reilly lashed out against this space during his popular FOXNEWS O'REILLY FACTOR Wednesday night -- just hours after closely guarded book sales figures were splashed over the internet.

Sales figures show how, contrary to his claims, O'Reilly lags far behind rivals Al Franken and Sen. Hillary Clinton for nonfiction props!

Responding to an exclusive yearender DRUDGE dispatch, which presented NIELSEN's Top 20 BOOKSCAN list of 2003 sales, O'Reilly called the DRUDGE REPORT a "threat to democracy."

"I mean you can't believe a word Matt Drudge says," O'Reilly told the cameras. "Now you've got the Matt Drudges of the world and these other people, Michael Moore and all of these crazies, all right, no responsibility... that is a threat to democracy, I think." O'Reilly warned: "They'll just spin it and twist it and take it out of proportion every which way."
Heeheeeheeee! Oh, heaven, oh glee -- Drudge is calling O'Reilly a liar and O'Reilly's calling him a liar back!!! Delightful, delectable -- I bet Al Franken is rolling around in a pile of cash and wetting himself on this news! No Spin Zone my ass.
Last year, the host of Cable TVs most-watched newscast became unbuckled and turned unstable after this space first revealed how O'Reilly was plotting a new radio program to air opposite Rush Limbaugh [who had just lost his hearing] and how WOR-AM in New York would receive cash compensation from VIACOM to carry the program. [The broadcast launched several months later.]

"There is no other cure than to kill Matt Drudge," O'Reilly charged on the IMUS in the MORNING radio show.

"I just want to tell everybody that Matt Drudge is smoking crack - right now, in South Miami Beach on Washington Avenue... And the authorities should know it."
Oh my oh my oh my! How did O'Reilly know this, I wonder? Violet! You're turning vile-nt O'Reilly!!!!

See more on this and some hilarious comments at Daily Kos.


 

The Quest of Carol Moseley-Braun


During the Democratic campaign for the party's presidential nomination, one candidate has stood far and above the others in stature, decorum, and class: Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois. Yes, her chances of winning the nomination are, at best, remote. She raised just under $400,000 in 2003 (chump change compared to the top tier candidates) and her personal appearances can barely fill half a room. She narrowly lost her U.S. Senate seat in 1998 due to charges of campaign corruption; charges that were later voided when investigations failed to turn up anything substantial.

Braun's resume, however, is most impressive and it can be argued that she is a full-agenda candidate - she's an articulate critic of the invasion of Iraq and of the twisting of U.S. foreign policy by the Bush administration, and she's a consistent critic of the Patriot Act. During the numerous Democratic forums (they're hardly debates) the former United States Senator and Ambassador to New Zealand has come across as an able and seasoned contender. Her articulate and well-reasoned answers to questions contain much more depth & substance than the other eight candidates. In fact, if she were somehow able to break through the Dean-Kerry-Clark tier, I bet she'd give the Rove-Shrub machine absolute fits.

Carol Moseley-Braun had opposed going to war with Iraq initially but now that the military is there, she says the job must be completed so that soldiers can return home with honor and the United States' image can be repaired. Braun is no "lefty dove" though. Her critique of the Bush administration's foreign objectives comes across quite clearly in what has become one of the best campaign lines in this primary cycle: "Bin Laden? Remember him? Well, he's Bin Forgotten." As president, Braun's main focus in the war against terrorism would be the group responsible for the deaths of 3,000 innocent civilians.
"If anything the challenge for us would have been to hunt down, find and bring to justice bin Laden and those people who violated our country, who violated all of us. We had the entire civilized world all on our side. This administration in its arbitrary, preemptive, knee-jerk reaction managed to fritter away all the good will after Sept. 11. And stopped looking for the bad guys - that’s what’s so astonishing about it. I don't even think it’s debatable that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, but he wasn’t bin Laden, he wasn't al-Qaida, and it seems to me that while (Hussein) might have been an issue to get to as part of a continuing war on terrorism, you can’t stop looking for the guys that violated you first. ... By alienating the rest of the world community, we lost the capacity to work with them, to build on their strengths, to use their intelligence, to employ their assets in behalf of our objective of getting bin Laden."
With the recent capture of Saddam Hussein, the top tier candidates have jumped all over front-runner Howard Dean. During the entire campaign, Braun has kept her head above the fray. She's been the one class act in this circus. Richard Gephardt, John Kerry, and Joe Lieberman aren't worthy of sharing the same stage as Braun.

With little campaign cash and registering single digits in primary polling, members of the media keep asking Braun why she continues her run for the presidential nomination. Her answer:
"Because you love your country. As simple and corny and old-fashioned as that might sound, it really does come down to that."
As for being a woman in a male-dominated field:
"If I were not a woman - if I were a guy - with my credentials and my experience and what I bring to the table, there would be no reason why I wouldn't think about running."
Carol Mosely-Braun. A true patriot. A class act. And an experienced, well-seasoned Democratic candidate for the presidency.

Cross posted at Daily Kos.


12.17.2003

 

"Dean is Negative"


Well, by now you all know that meme. Guess what? The backfire has begun...I can feel it.

From Gephardt to Rove, folks are beating up on Dean so much, and it's so over-the-top, that the ultimate result will be that they will damage their own self-created "Dean is Negative" meme beyond repair, and ironically it's making him look more like a positive visionary all the time.

I predict that Mister Rove won't be able to help himself -- after all, Dean clearly has the GOP so worried that they have attempted to take him out in the primary. An utterly unprecedented act in a presidential race, their nasty TV ads seem to have had zero impact. And for all the damage the desperate Dems are hoping to do to Dean, they seem to be doing more to themselves. In yet another note of irony, the beneficiary, if any, of their sleaze campaign would be Clark -- also an opponent of the Iraq invasion as it was executed -- not them.

Enjoy the wind in your wings while you can Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt and Karl Rove -- because you are dangerously close to the sun, and you are too blind to see it.

CASE IN POINT: See Kev's inane post:
Now that Saddam Hussein has been captured, it’s rumored that one of his first statements was an endorsement of Howard Dean for President. Why wouldn’t Saddam endorse Dean? After all Dean was adamantly against Hussein’s removal from power. Also rumored was that Hussein’s capture was predicated by his appearance at the Dean Meet Up in Tikrit.
That's right, just keep on rubbing your hands together in glee, for victory shall be all the sweeter.


 

Speaking of Cowards...




12.16.2003

 

The Politics


For what it's worth, a new Gallup poll suggests that the capture of Sadaam Hussein hasn't changed how people might vote for president next November. The poll shows 45 percent would vote for Bush regardless, 43 percent would vote against Bush.

Memo to Karl Rove: Gallup says, "The fact that there is no immediate self-awareness of a change in position on Bush suggests the need for caution in assumptions that Sunday's events are going to recast the election in any substantial way."


 

The Capture


Upon hearing the news of the capture of Saddam Hussein I felt a great sense of joy for the people of Iraq. Hussein was a monster - one of the world's most vicious dictators, murdering and torturing hundreds of thousands, including children. He must be tried in a legitimate world court for the atrocities that took place under his regime.

I take my hat off to the military strategists who carried out this particular mission. That said, the administration would do well to remember that while Hussein's capture is absolutely, without a doubt, tremendous news, we need to keep our eyes on the real prize: A stable and democratic government in Iraq.

The guerilla attacks against our men and women could very well continue, however the hope is that the capture of Hussein may be just the thing to demoralize those who would like to cause such mayhem. There are, remember, still many Arabs in the region who will continue to lash out. The longer the administration takes to get a post-war game plan in place, the more our troops will continue to be targets.

But, for today, let us rejoice. The people of Iraq are free of a monster.


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