Monday, July 31, 2006

The Space take

The Letter: It was Friday afternoon when I saw the latest Dick DeVos attack ad so I wrote to them challenging his claims in his ad one Granholm is running a nasty campaign against him when it was him that aired the first nasty attack ad and his cronies bank rolled an Michigan Chronicle ad comparing Jennifer Granholm to Hitler. And the other part of his ad when he cited personal bankruptices in Michigan so I had to burst he camp bubble when I told them that Michigan isn't the only place that has high number of bankruptices it's been going up in the nation wide since George W. Bush been in office so using the camp logic hell a lot of govs who are Republican should be out of a job this fall. And I got a letter back from the DeVos camp just spining and covering their butt regarding the Hitler ad and they didn't even bother to go after the bankruptices comment I wrote. I'm going to look into the names they used in the re done ad and come back with another letter.

GOP put conditions on wage increase: GOP makes conditions on wage increase By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press WriterFri Jul 28, 7:12 PM ET Republican leaders are willing to allow the first minimum wage increase in a decade but only if it's coupled with a cut in inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates, lawmakers said Friday. As the House pointed toward a session stretching past midnight, it was anything but certain that the plan would work. In fact, the move seemed unlikely to result in a hike in the minimum wage, which has been frozen at $5.15 per hour for a decade. Republicans hoped to put Democrats in the uncomfortable position of voting against the minimum wage increase and the estate tax cut — and an accompanying bipartisan package of popular tax breaks, including a research and development credit for businesses and deductions for college tuition and state sales taxes. But there was GOP discontent, too. Some conservative in the House were unhappy about the minimum wage vote while moderates in the party were restive about it being tied to cuts in the estate tax. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pledged to kill the hybrid minimum wage/tax cut bill if it got to the Senate. "The Senate has rejected fiscally irresponsible estate tax giveaways before and will reject them again," Reid said. "Blackmailing working families will not change that outcome." The GOP package would increase the wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour, phased in over the next three years, said Kevin Madden, spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. It would also exempt $5 million of an individual's estate, and $10 million of a couple's, from estate taxes by 2015. Estates worth up to $25 million would be taxed at capital gains rates, currently 15 percent and scheduled to rise to 20 percent. Tax rates on the remainder of larger estates would fall to 30 percent by 2015. The maneuver was aimed at defusing the wage hike as a campaign issue for Democrats while using the popularity of the increase to achieve the Republican Party's longtime goal of permanently cutting taxes on the estates of millionaires and small businessmen. Lawmakers did not rush to embrace the idea, which has backing from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. As part of the plan, the House and Senate would also pass a bill shoring up the U.S. pension system. That bill seemed more likely to succeed than the minimum wage/estate tax plan. "(Frist) is looking forward to bringing to the floor two bills that will strengthen pension funding rules, help to bring sanity to the tax code and offer a first step toward full repeal of the unfair death tax," said Frist spokeswoman Carolyn Weyforth. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, does not like the idea and wants to couple the business tax breaks with a bill to overhaul U.S. pension laws. Democrats expressed outrage at the GOP strategy, saying low-income workers deserved a straight vote on increasing the minimum wage uncoupled to other measures. "It's political blackmail to say the only way that minimum wage workers can get a raise is to give a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans," said Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass. "Members of Congress raised their own pay — no strings attached. Surely, common decency suggests that minimum wage workers deserve the same respect." The No. 2 Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said the move by GOP leaders — who actually oppose the minimum wage hike — was a cynical exercise to give political cover to GOP moderates while ensuring the wage hike does not become law. "They want on the one hand to appear to be doing something and on the other make sure that it doesn't happen," Hoyer said. The move comes after almost 50 rank-and-file Republican lawmakers pressed House leaders to schedule the measure for debate. Democrats have been hammering away on the wage hike issue and have public opinion behind them "We weren't going to be denied," said Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio. "How can you defend $5.15 an hour in today's economy?" It was a decade ago, during the campaign year of 1996, that Congress last voted to increase the minimum wage. A person working 40 hours per week at minimum wage makes $10,700, which is below the poverty line for workers with families. In advancing the tax plan, GOP leaders excluded a measure popular with small businesses that would make it easier for their businesses and the self-employed to band together and buy health insurance plans for employees at a lower cost. Democrats have made increasing the wage a pillar of their campaign platform and are pushing to raise it to $7.25 per hour over two years. In June, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to raise the minimum wage, rejecting a proposal from Democrats. Inflation has eroded the minimum wage's buying power to the lowest level in about 50 years. Lawmakers have won cost-of-living wage increases totaling about $35,000 for themselves over that time. Lawmakers fear being pounded with 30-second campaign ads over the August recess that would tie Congress' upcoming $3,300 pay increase with Republicans' refusal to raise the minimum wage. Republicans think Paris Hilton and Bill Gates need a break..

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Fight for the Party's soul A Fight for the Party's Soul by JOHN NICHOLS [from the August 14, 2006 issue] Never mind the internecine Democratic politics of Connecticut and the role that ethnic, labor and local sentiments will play in deciding the primary contest between centrist Senator Joe Lieberman and liberal challenger Ned Lamont. Never mind that the contest has made Connecticut the front line in an increasingly bitter brawl involving and the liberal blogosphere on one side and the Democratic Leadership Council and a substantial contingent of the party's Washington elite on the other. Never mind that both sides spend inordinate amounts of time debating whether George W. Bush thanked Lieberman for the senator's unwavering support of the Iraq War with a slobbering kiss or merely a peck on the cheek when the two embraced at a State of the Union address. When the votes are counted on August 8, the whole of the Connecticut primary, and much of the national debate over the direction of the Democratic Party, will be boiled down to a one-line pronouncement. It will either be "Antiwar challenger trounces Lieberman" or "Lieberman prevails over war foes." The reduction of this complex contest to a headline may not be entirely fair, or entirely accurate. Yet it will be understandable, because to the surprise of just about everyone, the man Democrats nominated for Vice President in 2000 is in a fight for his political life with a previously unknown candidate who decided a few months ago to surf the wave of anger stirred by Lieberman's emergence as the loudest Democratic defender of the occupation of Iraq. Of course, if Lieberman prevails, antiwar liberals will claim that Lamont took on an impossible task and did better than expected. But few who have paid attention to the dynamics on the ground in Connecticut--where a recent Quinnipiac poll found 73 percent of voters disapprove of Bush's handling of the war--or the broader national debate about how Democrats should address the occupation of Iraq will see it that way. Lamont may have started as a "nobody"--albeit a very wealthy and politically savvy "nobody"--but a smart, well-funded campaign, generous media attention and the hard work of a very attractive candidate and his energetic grassroots supporters will by election day have made the challenger Lieberman's match. Indeed, a mid-July Quinnipiac poll had Lamont ahead 51 to 47. As such, the Connecticut primary will be a no-excuses test of whether Democratic voters--who tell pollsters they desperately want a clean break with Bush and his war but who have not always embraced candidates who propose to make it--are now willing to hold prominent Democratic officials accountable for facilitating the madness of King George. If Connecticut Democrats reject Lieberman, Democrats in Washington, including 2008 presidential prospect Hillary Clinton, will have to take notice. If Lieberman prevails on August 8, or if he loses in the primary but wins as an independent candidate in November, then the DLC and its amen corner will argue more aggressively than before that the Democratic Party and its candidates must continue to eschew not just a tough antiwar stance but the general opposition to all things Bush that grassroots activists demand. "This is a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party," argues the DLC's Marshall Wittmann. That's what's riding on Connecticut. That's what's riding on Ned Lamont. So why is the challenger seemingly so at ease with just a few weeks to go before the primary? Why is Ned Lamont smiling? "I love being in this race," the candidate declares, without a hint of irony, to the crowd at an Indian restaurant in downtown Stamford after a long evening of answering questions he has answered a few hundred times before. That's the secret of Ned Lamont. He is not merely the "cable TV millionaire" reporters mention when seeking a shorthand description for the 52-year-old former newspaper editor, public radio host, local elected official, telecommunications entrepreneur and Democratic donor who was drawn into the race against Lieberman only after more prominent war foes begged off. Rather, he is a self-admitted political junkie who, like a rock critic who finally forms a band, has been waiting a very long time for this chance in the spotlight. Maybe a lifetime. After all, it's in his blood. Lamont's great-grandfather Thomas Lamont, whose partnership with J.P. Morgan created the family fortune that has provided a firm financial base for Ned's business and political endeavors, was one of Woodrow Wilson's negotiators on the Treaty of Versailles. Ned's great-uncle Corliss was a leading figure in the American Civil Liberties Union and a founder of the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee who successfully sued the Central Intelligence Agency in a groundbreaking challenge to domestic spying--and who would no doubt be proud of the Senate candidate's support of Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's proposal to censure Bush for authorizing warrantless wiretaps. Lamont's father, Ted, an economist, helped administer the Marshall Plan after World War II and served with George Romney--Massachusetts Governor Mitt's liberal dad--in Richard Nixon's Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Our family always has believed in international cooperation, that the way to achieve a safer and freer world is through hard-working diplomacy and a good respect for the opinions of other countries in getting the job done, rather than seizing the military option too soon," Ted Lamont told a Connecticut reporter after his son announced the Senate candidacy. For his part, Ned Lamont speaks about the broad sweep of American foreign policy over the past century in the familiar language of someone who sat down for family dinners with those who shaped it. So when he talks about the war in Iraq, it is not as a shrill critic but rather as an old-school liberal internationalist who cannot believe that George Bush and Joe Lieberman have rejected diplomacy and smart strategies like containment for cowboy adventurism and neglect of fundamental realities in the Middle East. "This war is way outside the historical norm," Lamont says, arguing that the Administration has adopted "a go-it-alone strategy, a sense that we don't need allies, we don't have to listen to the rest of the world. That's contrary to the American tradition, and it's really not in our self-interest." When Lamont offers his critique of "George Bush and Joe Lieberman's" foreign policies to the business owners who have gathered at the Indian restaurant in Stamford, several of whom make favorable references to "the House of Morgan," every head in the room nods. And when he quotes former Connecticut Senator Abe Ribicoff's Vietnam-era suggestion that America is strongest not when it brandishes arms but when it earns the respect of the world, the nodding heads are smiling. "This makes sense to me," says Pravin Banker, director of the Global Financial Network, who had introduced Lamont earlier in the evening. "It's refreshing to hear someone who knows about diplomacy, who recognizes that the US can do a better job of working with the world." This reaction to Lamont is one that Lieberman failed to anticipate when he noticed that a "Greenwich millionaire," as his increasingly shrill campaign ads label Lamont, was nipping at his heels. Shaken by the seriousness of the challenge, Lieberman has tried to dismiss Lamont as a "single issue" antiwar challenger backed by loony-left bloggers, while his backers have taken to hysterical grumbling, like that of the DLC's Wittmann and Steven Nider in a recent Hartford Courant column, about how "far too many Democrats view George W. Bush as a greater threat to the nation than Osama bin Laden." "They keep talking about how 'Ned and the blogger left are attacking bipartisan Joe,'" says Lamont. "That is so wrong. They've been so over-the-top about this that people don't take them seriously. When I meet people, when they hear me talk about these issues, they recognize that I'm coming at them from a very mainstream place." Lamont's a reasonably standard liberal who agrees with Russ Feingold and Ted Kennedy on most social and economic issues. But he is not a populist rebel in the mold of Paul Wellstone. His blood runs blue. Indeed, with his summer suit and Kennedy-perfect haircut, he looks for all the world like a Doonesbury extra. Maybe in some circles, that's an insult. But not in Connecticut, where the cartoon was born and where voters have sent their share of liberal patricians to Washington--including Lieberman's predecessor, Lowell Weicker, now an enthusiastic Lamont backer. Once upon a time, they ran and won, as Weicker did, on the Republican line. And Lamont is not shy about the fact that "my family were internationalist Republicans going back for generations." But as the candidate's father says, "The Republican Party, frankly, no longer [represents] my viewpoints. The so-called moderate Republicans are rare and declining, especially in recent years." The father says he stopped voting for Republicans in 1992; the son has been a Democrat a lot longer--inspired in his youth, he says, by Bobby Kennedy. It is that Bobby Kennedy connection that may be the most useful reference point for Lamont's candidacy. In 1968 two Democratic senators challenged President Lyndon Johnson's ambitions for a second full term. One was Minnesota's Eugene McCarthy, who ran a campaign primarily defined by his opposition to the Vietnam War. The other was Kennedy, who opposed the war but offered a far broader promise of reform and renewal--for the Democratic Party and America. Kennedy's 1968 campaign, with its emphasis on fighting poverty and making real the promise of the American dream for all Americans, argued that the expensive war in Southeast Asia was robbing this country of the resources and energy required to achieve progress at home. Lamont offers an updated version of the Kennedy message. "Rather than spend $250 million a day in Iraq, we've got to start investing in education," says Lamont, who has volunteered for years as a teacher in a Bridgeport high school and whose best campaign commercials feature former students, all of them African-Americans and Latinos, chanting: "Go for it, Mr. Lamont!" Lieberman finds himself forced into the Lyndon Johnson role, about right from an ideological standpoint. He's more conservative than most Democrats, but he's not Ann Coulter in drag--even if Coulter is backing him. Lieberman has been the most vocal Democratic backer of Bush's foreign policies, and he has also sided with Senate Republicans to block attempts to filibuster Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination, to explore Social Security privatization, to back free trade and corporate bailouts, to intercede in the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case and, of course, to engage in tiresome moralizing about Bill Clinton's extramarital shenanigans. Yet, he's got a lifetime AFL-CIO "pro-labor" voting record of 84 percent. Connecticut unions have split in this contest, with the labor federation backing Lieberman and the state's teachers unions backing Lamont. Lieberman's also got endorsements from Planned Parenthood, the League of Conservation Voters and liberal Democrats like California's Barbara Boxer and Connecticut's senior senator, Chris Dodd, as well as Hillary and Bill Clinton--although, notably, Feingold and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry have refused to endorse the senator, as has Lieberman's 2000 running mate, Al Gore. Even as he brandishes his endorsements, however, and declares, "I am running based on my record as a progressive Democrat and...Ned is running against me based on my stand on one issue: Iraq," Lieberman seems compromised and desperate--the embodiment of a Democratic Party that lacks fresh blood, ideas and energy. In the one televised debate between the candidates, Lieberman borrowed Ronald Reagan's "there you go again" presidential debate line, and he paraphrased Lloyd Bentsen's "you're no Jack Kennedy" jab from the his vice presidential debate. The senator interrupted Lamont constantly and attacked him with a venom that never surfaced in his 2000 vice presidential debate with Dick Cheney. "You get the idea that Lieberman has a sense of entitlement, that it's his office and no one has a right to take it from him," says Connecticut Democratic activist John Wirzbicki, who writes the Lamont-friendly blog Connecticut Blue. Lamont's counter to Lieberman in the debate was upbeat rather than defensive. He let the senator take his shots, then talked about what ought to distinguish Democrats from Republicans. It wasn't just the war. It was much broader, a vision of engagement with the world and a search for solutions to fundamental challenges at home. It's a liberal vision, to be sure. But Lamont, descended from all those generations of Republican internationalists and comfortable portraying himself as a Washington outsider--he opens just about every speech with the line: "My name is Ned Lamont, and I'm not a traditional politician. I started up a business from scratch"--believes it is a vision that has appeal far beyond the blogosphere and MoveOn meet-ups. That's essential, because if Lieberman loses the primary, he promises to mount a fall campaign for re-election on his own "Connecticut for Lieberman" line. The initial spin was that Lieberman would win a three-way race by isolating Democrat Lamont on the left and a Republican on the right. But sentiments are shifting. After Lieberman announced his sore-loser strategy, Hillary Clinton said she would back the party nominee in November, and it's no secret that Senate minority leader Harry Reid and other top Democrats have begun behind-the-scenes conversations with Lamont. Whether the AFL-CIO and other national interest groups stick with Lieberman will be a critical question, but the best bet right now is that if Lamont wins the primary, he'll have a reasonably united Democratic front behind him as he takes his campaign to suburbs where independents and Republicans predominate. "Don't tell me that being opposed to this war and saying that we could be spending money that's going to Iraq more usefully at home is a liberal message, or a Democratic message," he says. "There's nothing in that message that a lot of Connecticut Republicans would disagree with." Lamont's confidence about his ability to win more than just antiwar protest votes is well founded. It's common on the Connecticut campaign trail to run into Democratic voters like Harriet Scureman. "I used to be against Joe, because of the war and a bunch of other issues," says Scureman, a retired Xerox employee from Norwalk. "But as the campaign's gone on, I've realized I'm for Ned Lamont. You can't meet him, listen to him, and not come to the conclusion that he would be a great senator." If a majority of Connecticut voters reach the same conclusion in August and again in November, it will not merely be a defeat for a single centrist senator who supports the war. It will also be a win for a new Democratic mindset, one that displays the energy, enthusiasm and vision that the party will need if it intends to lead the country out of the wilderness of the Bush years.

NYtimes endorses Lamont over Lieberman New York Times endorses Lamont over Lieberman 07/29/2006 @ 1:46 pmFiled by RAW STORY (Updated with excerpts from Times endorsement of "a little-known challenger" over the incumbent who "forfeited his role as a conscience of his party" by, among other reasons, "suggesting that there is no principled space" for opposing a president during "a time of war") Advertisementhref="" target=_top> The New York Times is set to include an editorial endorsing challenger Ned Lamont over incumbent Joe Lieberman for Connecticut's Democratic primary race for the Senate, RAW STORY has found. An article also slated for Sunday's paper called "After sluggish start, Lieberman heeded warnings of trouble" written by Adam Nagourney mentions the endorsement in a bracketed sentence five paragraphs in. "The New York Times, in an editorial published on Sunday, endorsed Mr. Lamont over Mr. Lieberman, arguing that the senator had offered the nation a 'warped version of bipartisanship' in his dealings with President Bush on national security," the article reads. Some bloggers later noticed that the Nagourney article gained an additional paragraph this time marked with "round brackets" instead of "square" on its second Website page. "The Times has endorsed Mr. Lieberman for the United States Senate only once in his four campaigns," the article reads. "A 1988 editorial endorsed the incumbent, Lowell Weicker. In 1994, The Times endorsed Mr. Lieberman. In 2000, The Times endorsed the Gore-Lieberman presidential ticket but made no endorsement in the Senate race in Connecticut." It is unknown whether the bylined reporter Nagourney wrote the bracketed lines, or the New York Times editors. Excerpts from Times endorsement: # The race has taken on a national character. Mr. Lieberman’s friends see it as an attempt by hysterical antiwar bloggers to oust a giant of the Senate for the crime of bipartisanship. Lamont backers — most of whom seem more passionate about being Lieberman opponents — say that as one of the staunchest supporters of the Iraq war, Mr. Lieberman has betrayed his party by cozying up to President Bush. .... Mr. Lieberman prides himself on being a legal thinker and a champion of civil liberties. But he appointed himself defender of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the administration’s policy of holding hundreds of foreign citizens in prison without any due process. He seconded Mr. Gonzales’s sneering reference to the “quaint” provisions of the Geneva Conventions. He has shown no interest in prodding his Republican friends into investigating how the administration misled the nation about Iraq’s weapons. There is no use having a senator famous for getting along with Republicans if he never challenges them on issues of profound importance. If Mr. Lieberman had once stood up and taken the lead in saying that there were some places a president had no right to take his country even during a time of war, neither he nor this page would be where we are today. But by suggesting that there is no principled space for that kind of opposition, he has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party, and has forfeited our support. Mr. Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich, seems smart and moderate, and he showed spine in challenging the senator while other Democrats groused privately. He does not have his opponent’s grasp of policy yet. But this primary is not about Mr. Lieberman’s legislative record. Instead it has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction. We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut. # FULL TIMES ENDORSEMENT CAN BE READ AT THIS LINK

Think again Bush Bounces, Reporters follow Think Again: Bush Bounces, Reporters Follow by Eric Alterman July 27, 2006 Bob Woodward has made a career out of trolling the halls of power for the packaged (but not always on-message) scoop. His measured, non-judgmental style and marquee name have kept politicians and their embittered minions coming back for their respective close-ups for several decades now. But as Woodward’s own blinkered account of the alleged heroism of the Bush team’s response to 9/11 demonstrates as clearly as is humanly possible, access isn’t everything. It certainly isn’t the only thing. Take a look, for instance, at Newsweek’s cover story this week, where reporter Richard Wolffe was allowed to trail President Bush as he traveled to Russia for the G8 summit last week. The ghost of Woodwardian access haunts the piece, as does logical contradiction after logical contradiction. Describing the conference itself, we discover that “Bush huddles with presidents and prime ministers, showing how far he has traveled since 9/11—and also how little he has changed. Bush thinks the new war vindicates his early vision of the region's struggle: of good versus evil, civilization versus terrorism, freedom versus Islamic fascism.” Well, which is it? Has Bush changed or has he stayed the same? Time, no pun intended, will have to tell. Later, we learn: “Circumstances have taught him to speak the language of diplomacy more fluently. Yet he still trusts his gut to tell him what's right, and he still expects others to follow his lead. For Bush, diplomacy is not the art of a negotiated compromise. It's a smoother way to get where he wants to go.” Again, despite the big windup, we’re gently told that well, you know, while Bush might speak the “language of diplomacy more fluently,” he’s still well, let’s say, a big baby who expects to get his way every time or he’s taking his marbles and going home. And if you look at the President’s impromptu, miked comments at the summit, we learn just how spoiled and set in his ways Wolffe’s “fluent diplomat” has grown. Bush tells Tony Blair, “what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over,” and then whines about how long certain leaders plan to speak and how much he wants to go home because he has “something” to do. If that’s diplospeak for Bush, I’d hate to hear him when he was just being himself. The piece, while not wholly complimentary to the President, still falls apart when it comes to actual characterizing the catastrophic situation in Iraq. Consider this odd Daily Show-like line: “In Iraq, conditions on the ground have long conspired against Bush and driven allies away.” “Conditions?” Did these “conditions” simply fall from the sky? How about the administration’s incompetence, dishonesty, and ideological obsessiveness? Doesn’t that one line from Newsweek remind one uncomfortably of the now infamous Rob Corddry line, that the problem in Iraq is that “the facts are biased…the facts in Iraq have an anti-Bush agenda,” presented sans-irony. As the summit closes, Newsweek reports the President is “pleased with the summit and his handling of the crisis.” It’s an odd line, and Newsweek fails to explain just how the crisis was “handled,” since the President seemed to spend most of his time pouting about long meetings and boring speeches. (And does the reporter really think Bush is likely to tell him, “Damn, I really fu**ked things up in there. What was I thinking?”) Of course Newsweek is not exactly alone in its kid-glove handling of this failed presidency and its do-nothing response to the Israel-Hezbollah crisis. As The American Prospect’s Greg Sargent pointed out on Tuesday, Time magazine also offers its own breathless version of the President’s handling of the crisis. He highlights the magazine’s claim that the escalating violence has given the President “a second chance to be a peacemaker,” and to “make headway on his grand goal of leaving the Middle East more democratic than he found it.” Set up nicely, Sargent responds: “Anyone by chance recall Bush's first effort to be a "peacemaker"? Me neither. I do, however, vaguely recall him initiating a war of choice on false pretenses that has left over 2,500 Americans dead and many tens of thousands severely wounded.” But there’s more. Continue reading the Time article and the atmospherics and the stunts the administration uses to practice spin control are taken as gospel by the magazine, which should really know better. We learn that “the Administration is ever optimistic. In an e-mail titled "Setting the Record Straight" late last week, the White House declared, "The President's foreign policy is succeeding.” What policy that would be is hard to imagine. Then we’re given the standard “changed tone” line that reporters have fallen in love with: “Indeed, the West Wing is relatively upbeat. People close to Bush say chief of staff Josh Bolten and press secretary Tony Snow have given the place a desperately needed karmic injection.” The tone of the Time article, like Newsweek’s, paints a decisive and engaged President on the upswing, handling the newest crisis in the Middle East with a Midas touch – despite all evidence to the contrary. If one were to look at public opinion polls, however, the public appears to be tuning out the mainstream media’s hero-worship. A USA Today/Gallup poll released on this past Tuesday showed that the President’s approval rating has, in fact, dropped three points, from 40 percent in early July to 37 percent (the poll was take July 21-23). What’s more, only 37 percent of Americans approve of his handling of the Middle East conflict while 56 percent disapproved. Despite this, and despite other recent polls that show widespread disapproval with the President’s handling of the situation in the Middle East, some in the press keep pushing the situation as a win for the President. On July 21, CNN’s “The Situation Room” featured a clip of analyst Stuart Rothenberg opining, “There is this international, global terror threat that could actually help the president.” CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider then chimed in, “the war on terror is a Republican issue. Iraq is a Democratic issue. A recent poll showed Republicans with an 11-point lead on terrorism and Democrats with a 10-point lead on Iraq.” There they go again…. The Republicans may be polling ahead of the Democrats on the terrorism issue, but as the USA Today/Gallup poll showed, the President sure isn’t. So why all the armchair punditry and cheerleading? These guys would do well to look at the facts, rather than trying to jump out ahead on the latest ephemera about the elusive “Bush bounce” that we’ve been hearing so much about. Eric Alterman is a senior fellow of the Center for American Progress and the author of six books. His most recent, When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and its Consequences, was recently published in paperback by Penguin, and is the subject of a major historians’ online symposium here.

Mikey Steele's flip flop... Md. Republican Offers Two Views of Bush ANNAPOLIS, Md., Jul. 28, 2006 (AP) Republican Michael Steele's changing remarks about President Bush _ from criticism to calling him his "homeboy" _ left Maryland voters wondering what are the Senate candidate's true views."I can't tell what Steele thinks about Bush," Michael Jackson, 45, a cook from Annapolis, Md., said Thursday. "Does he like Bush? Not like Bush? I don't know," said Jackson, a Democrat who supports the president.Steele, the state's lieutenant governor and one of a handful of black Republicans running statewide for a major office, has confused some voters with his dichotomous comments this week.At a lunch with reporters Monday in Washington, Steele criticized Bush for his handling of the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, said he probably wouldn't want the president campaigning for him in Maryland and equated his Republican affiliation with the scarlet letter.The Washington Post reported Steele's comments without naming him, but Steele's campaign acknowledged Tuesday that he was the GOP Senate candidate.Steele then went on a talk show on WBAL-AM in Baltimore to say he is "proud to be a Republican" and called Bush his "homeboy." He took back his statement about the president campaigning for him and described himself as an independent Republican who's willing to disagree with the Bush administration."People think, well, you're running away from the president. Absolutely not," Steele said.The contradictory remarks left some voters wondering about Steele's strategy. Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 in Maryland, which is 29 percent black. The state hasn't sent a Republican to the Senate since Charles McC. Mathias in 1980.Victoria Sonnae, a black Democrat from Brooklyn, Md., said Steele's radio comments sounded phony to her, particularly his description of Bush as his "homeboy.""Couldn't he say, 'He's my friend?' Why did he have to say 'homeboy?' It's like he wanted to sound more black or hip or something," said Sonnae, 43.Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman, a Maryland native and one of the top GOP officials who recruited Steele, said Thursday that dissenting views within the party can be healthy, citing Steele's views in opposition to the administration on Katrina and the Iraq war."He's a good friend of mine," Mehlman said in an interview in Atlanta, after addressing the National Urban League. "The president wants him to win, I want him to win. His comments were taken out of context.Steele told WBAL radio that his independent streak makes him a good candidate and that's he's criticized Bush before."I've always been independent in my thoughts. My momma raised me that way," Steele said.Jean Ford, who is black, said Steele's independence has impressed her and she'll probably vote for him."He's a man. He stands on his own," said Ford, 55, of Annapolis. "He's going to say what he's going to say. Yes, indeed, I would vote for him."___Associated Press Writer Errin Haines in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Michigan Dem leader statement DeVos campaign Fiance Brewer Statement on DeVos' Campaign Finance Report DeVos personally provides nearly 75% of all funds raised LANSING- Today Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer releases the following statement regarding GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos' pre-primary campaign finance report."The fact that Dick DeVos has already raised over $17.5 million, of which more than $12.8 million is from his inherited Amway wealth, demonstrates that he is capable of spending $60 million or more on this election. The nearly $16.5 million that DeVos spent before an uncontested primary is nearly twice as much as any other Michigan gubernatorial candidate has spent on an entire election," said Brewer. "But because this is an election not an auction, all of the money in the world can't hide his history of cutting Michigan jobs, creating jobs in Communist China and supporting extreme right-wing groups and causes. All of DeVos' money will not be able to distort Governor Granholm's record of diversifying Michigan's economy with the nation's most aggressive economic plan, fighting for healthcare for everyone in Michigan and being a leader in public education for our state." ####

Hate groups rise to 33% The Year In Hate, 2005A 5% annual increase in hate groups in 2005 caps a remarkable rise of 33% over the five-year period that began in Mark Potok Fueled by belligerent tactics and publicity stunts, the number of hate groups operating in the United States rose from 762 in 2004 to 803 last year, capping an increase of fully 33% over the five years since 2000. The expansion of hate groups last year, documented by the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, seemed to be helped along by aggressive maneuvers that landed them on front pages and in national news broadcasts. The National Socialist Movement, for instance, repeatedly made national news with provocative attempts to march through black, inner-city neighborhoods. Other groups rallied with increasing fervor and frequency, and even undertook sure-to-infuriate campaigns like "Operation Schoolyard," an attempt in the 2004-2005 school year to distribute 100,000 free racist music CDs to schoolchildren. One anti-gay group, the Westboro Baptist Church, went so far as to picket the funerals of soldiers, saying God was punishing America for tolerating homosexuality. There were many other reasons for the continuing rise as well. Hispanic immigration, in particular, may have been the single most important factor in recent years, fueling a national debate and giving hate groups an issue with real resonance. The war in Iraq, seen by many hate groups as a struggle America was forced into by Jews, was another. Racist music and concerts continued to attract new young people into the movement. A growing Internet presence also helped groups' propaganda to flourish; there were 524 hate sites counted in 2005, up 12% from 468 in 2004. "Despite a large number of arrests and the collapse of several leading neo-Nazi groups, the movement continues to grow," said Joe Roy, chief investigator of the Intelligence Project. "It's a Hydra with a thousand different heads." Here's a more detailed look at several sectors of the hate movement: NEO-NAZIS Overall, the number of neo-Nazi groups in America barely changed, dropping by one to 157. But that masked some major changes on the scene. The National Alliance, just a few years ago the leading hate group in America, fell from 59 chapters in 2004 to 22 last year -- a 63% decrease. That precipitous drop reflected an exodus of members as Alliance leaders continued to attract movement criticism in a series of scandals that have sapped their credibility. "I hope you die miserable and broke," one former member wrote the Alliance bosses. "The days of drinking and going to strip clubs on members' dues money are over." Many former Alliance members have gone to relatively new groups like White Revolution, formed in 2002, and National Vanguard, which was started by a former Alliance leader last year. But White Revolution has fizzled, and National Vanguard, after a relatively strong start, this year lost its highly active Tampa and Denver units, which spun off as their own new group. At the same time, two groups that once were neo-Nazi heavyweights, Aryan Nations and the Creativity Movement (formerly World Church of the Creator), were reduced to mere remnants. The real beneficiary of the demise of the National Alliance has been the National Socialist Movement (see Nazis Rising), which increased its chapters by 44% last year, from 41 in 2004 to 59 last year. This was largely due to the attention it got as a result of its antagonistic protests, something that brought both publicity and new members. It was also a result of the energy of anarchist-turned-Nazi Bill White, a provocative NSM leader who claims to have $2 million in cash and real estate. All in all, it was a spectacular rise for a group almost unheard of just a few years ago. KU KLUX KLAN Overall, the number of Klan groups increased from 162 in 2004 to 179 last year. The two largest groups, the Imperial Klans of America and the Brotherhood of Klans, both continued to expand. Three new groups also appeared on the scene. One, the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was largely formed by a faction that left the Mystic Knights, while another, the Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, replaced the now-defunct Southern White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. A third new group, the Fraternal Knights, also was formed. Two older Klan groups disappeared. Both the Orion Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the most active Klan group in America in the late 1990s, showed no activity at all in 2005. RACIST SKINHEADS New life seemed to animate the Skinhead scene last year, as the number of groups rose from 48 in 2004 to 56. At the same time, a growing number of skins -- people who are typically highly migratory and poor organized -- made alliances with larger and more traditional neo-Nazi organizations. The key event of the year was probably October's Blood & Honour USA Council (see Snapshot), where more than a dozen groups formed an alliance against the powerful Hammerskin group and chose the National Alliance as its "political outlet." The racist music scene, which is largely dominated by Skinhead groups, also underwent some major changes last year. After the collapse of Panzerfaust Records and the near-crippling of powerhouse Resistance Records (owned by the National Alliance), a number of smaller labels (see White Noise) began scrambling for pieces of the lucrative business. At this point, the front-runners seem to be Free Your Mind Productions, ISD Records, Final Stand Records and Condemned Records. NEO-CONFEDERATES The principal neo-Confederate group, the League of the South (LOS), did not appear to do well last year. Its leaders are involved in various disputes with former members, including a group of "kinists" who are advocating the break-up of America into racially homogenous mini-states and another group that departed to form a new rival, the Confederate Alliance. And LOS' long-awaited "Southern National Congress," finally held this March in Georgia after two failed attempts, attracted fewer than 50 people and was marred by infighting. A strategy session was held last June to try to refocus the LOS, but did little more than create a mission statement and suggest more political activism. Meanwhile, the struggle to control the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a Southern heritage group that is not listed as a hate group but has been wracked by an internal civil war between moderates and racial extremists, continued (see Into the Wild). Under its new leader, extremists have solidified their hold on the organization even as some 9,000 people, a quarter of the SCV's members, quit the group. White supremacists last year also lost a key thinker when Sam Francis died unexpectedly in February. Francis edited the Citizens Informer, the periodical of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, along with writing for several other key racist publications. More than a dozen of the leading white supremacist and anti-Semitic thinkers in America attended his funeral in Tennessee. 1 1 --> Intelligence ReportSpring 2006

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Can we have another crack at it? Media Matters con pundits wrong about Iraq and now playing mid east analyst Conservative pundits made wildly wrong claims about how Iraq would turn out -- what are they saying now about the Middle East? Summary: Numerous conservative pundits offered highly optimistic predictions about the U.S. invasion of Iraq regarding the conflict's duration, difficulty, and human and financial costs -- nearly all of which have proven to be wrong. But rather than hold these "Pollyanna pundits" accountable for their past misjudgments, the media have again provided a platform for their views about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. And echoing their rhetoric on Iraq, these conservative pundits have advocated further military action by the United States and its allies. In its efforts to sell the American people on the Iraq war, before and after the invasion, the Bush administration has received the support of a cadre of conservative pundits who offered highly optimistic predictions regarding the conflict's duration, difficulty, and human and financial costs -- even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Indeed, the disastrous situation has proven nearly all of these predictions wrong. "Yet by some curious code of Beltway etiquette," American Prospect editor-at-large Harold Meyerson wrote in a September 1, 2005, article, "the war hawks are still sought out for their judgments on war and peace, geopolitics, and military and political strategy." Rather than hold these "Pollyanna pundits" accountable for their past misjudgments, the media have again provided a platform for their views as the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah has escalated in the past two weeks. And echoing their rhetoric on Iraq, these conservative pundits have advocated further military action by the United States and its allies. The following list juxtaposes the strategic advice recently put forth by seven such pundits on the Middle East crisis with the wildly inaccurate prognostications they earlier offered on Iraq. Weekly Standard editor William Kristol THEN ... "The larger question with respect to Iraq, as with Afghanistan, is what happens after the combat is concluded. [...] And, as in Kabul but also as in the Kurdish and Shi'ite regions of Iraq in 1991, American and alliance forces will be welcomed in Baghdad as liberators. Indeed, reconstructing Iraq may prove to be a less difficult task than the challenge of building a viable state in Afghanistan."The political, strategic and moral rewards would also be even greater. A friendly, free, and oil-producing Iraq would leave Iran isolated and Syria cowed; the Palestinians more willing to negotiate seriously with Israel; and Saudi Arabia with less leverage over policymakers here and in Europe. Removing Saddam Hussein and his henchmen from power presents a genuine opportunity -- one President Bush sees clearly -- to transform the political landscape of the Middle East." [Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 2/2/02] "The United States committed itself to defeating terror around the world. We committed ourselves to reshaping the Middle East, so the region would no longer be a hotbed of terrorism, extremism, anti-Americanism, and weapons of mass destruction. The first two battles of this new era are now over. The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably. But these are only two battles. We are only at the end of the beginning in the war on terror and terrorist states." [4/28/03 column] "There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular." [National Public Radio, 4/1/03] NOW ... "The deaths are worth it if it leads to Hezbollah being expelled from Lebanon, disarmed, the Lebanese government able to observe sovereignty, and then we will have a peaceful and democratic Lebanon that is perfectly happy to live in peace with Israel and its other neighbors. That's why this is a great opportunity. It's unfortunate that Lebanese get killed in the cross fire, but at the end of the day, this is really much better for Lebanon than them being forced to tolerate Hezbollah, as they were forced to tolerate Syria for all those years, occupying their territory." [Fox News' Big Story with John Gibson, 7/18/06] "We have to be ready to use military force against Iran, if it comes to that. [...] We have to stop them from getting nuclear weapons. We can try diplomacy. I am not hopeful about that. We have to be ready to use force. [...] [T]he Iranian people dislike their regime. I think they would be -- the right use of targeted military force, but especially if political pressure before we use military force -- could cause them to reconsider whether they really want to have this regime in power. There are even moderates -- they are not wonderful people, but people in the government itself -- who are probably nervous about [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad's recklessness. [...] This is the moment to set them back. I think a setback to Hezbollah could trigger changes in Iran. People can say, 'Wait a second, what is Ahmadinejad doing to us? We're alone. The Arab world is even against us. The Muslim world is against us. Let's reconsider this reckless path that we're on.' " [Fox News Live, 7/19/06] "The right response is renewed strength -- in supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel, and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran. For that matter, we might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions -- and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement." [Weekly Standard, 7/24/06] Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer THEN ... "Iran is not a ready candidate for the blunt instrument of American power, because it is in the grips of a revolution from below. We can best accelerate that revolution by the power of example and success: Overthrowing neighboring radical regimes shows the fragility of dictatorship, challenges the mullahs' mandate from heaven and thus encourages disaffected Iranians to rise. First, Afghanistan to the east. Next, Iraq to the west." [The Washington Post, 2/1/02] "[I]t's the beginning of the end of the bad news. I mean, we're going to have lots of attacks, but the political process is under way." [Fox News' Special Report With Brit Hume, 6/1/04] "The Administration went ahead with this great project knowing it would be hostage to history. History has begun to speak. Elections in Afghanistan, a historic first. Elections in Iraq, a historic first. Free Palestinian elections producing a moderate leadership, two historic firsts. Municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, men only, but still a first. In Egypt, demonstrations for democracy -- unheard of in decades -- prompting the dictator to announce free contested presidential elections, a historic first."And now, of course, the most romantic flowering of the spirit America went into the region to foster: the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, in which unarmed civilians, Christian and Muslim alike, brought down the puppet government installed by Syria. There is even the beginning of a breeze in Damascus. More than 140 Syrian intellectuals have signed a public statement defying their government by opposing its occupation of Lebanon." [, 3/7/05] NOW ... "The road to a solution is therefore clear: Israel liberates south Lebanon and gives it back to the Lebanese."It starts by preparing the ground with air power, just as the Persian Gulf War began with a 40-day air campaign. But if all that happens is the air campaign, the result will be failure. Hezbollah will remain in place, Israel will remain under the gun, Lebanon will remain divided and unfree. And this war will start again at a time of Hezbollah and Iran's choosing."Just as in Kuwait in 1991, what must follow the air campaign is a land invasion to clear the ground and expel the occupier. Israel must retake south Lebanon and expel Hezbollah. It would then declare the obvious: that it has no claim to Lebanese territory and is prepared to withdraw and hand south Lebanon over to the Lebanese army (augmented perhaps by an international force), thus finally bringing about what the world has demanded -- implementation of Resolution 1559 and restoration of south Lebanon to Lebanese sovereignty." [The Washington Post, 7/19/06] "Democrats can't understand -- if you're dealing with an existential enemy, an enemy who wants to kill you, and you're not arguing about territories or stuff over which you can have a compromise, you can't have negotiations that will succeed. All you can have is appeasement. And Israel appeased over seven years with the urging of the Clinton administration. It gave up territory, it armed its enemies, and what we have now is a direct result of that appeasement. A Trojan horse entered into Israel -- in Israel and Gaza and in Lebanon -- and what's happening is that that Trojan horse is striking back." [Fox News' Special Report With Brit Hume, 7/21/06] Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes THEN ... "[T]he good news is contrary to what you hear in the media, it gets easier now. The war was the hard part. The hard part was putting together a coalition, getting 300,000 troops over there and all their equipment and winning. And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war. [...] Hezbollah is a part of the war on terrorism. Syria harbors terrorists in the Biqa Valley, Hezbollah and so on. The Saudis export terrorism in terms of Wahabi Islam, and things can be done to crackdown on that. It doesn't mean sending troops into Riyadh or into Damascus or things like that. But certainly the U.S. now has leverage that it didn't have before winning this triumph in Iraq. [...] [L]ook, it is clear what victory in the war is. When you see those statues topple and you know that's victory." [Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, 4/10/03] "But these terrorists are hitting soft targets. I mean, the U.N., the hotel, the Red Cross -- these are relatively soft targets. And I think they have a bad strategy. What do they gain from killing a lot of Red Cross personnel and a lot of U.N. personnel? I don't think they warm the hearts of Iraqis. They certainly don't build up more support in Europe or the United States. It is a last-ditch -- I think it is a desperate effort by these terrorists. It's not representative of a significant guerrilla force that's fighting the United States there." [Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume 10/27/03] "I think he [Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA)] is just plain wrong in some of the things he said. And I certainly disagree with some of the others. But here is what he is wrong about, Brit. You raised one of them. And that is, he says the war is intensifying. It's not intensifying." [Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, 11/17/05] NOW ... "Right now, a cease-fire would be a huge mistake, because what would serve the U.S., what would serve Israel, what would serve the fledgling democracy in Lebanon would be for Hezbollah to be destroyed as a military operation and as a political force in Lebanon, or at least crippled. [...] [National Public Radio correspondent and Fox news political analyst] Juan [Williams] seemed to like what Senator [Christopher] Dodd [D-CT] was talking about, that golden age from 1967 to 2000 of diplomacy and negotiation. Look where we wound up after that. We wound up with an Iran aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons. We found Israel threatened by terrorists on two borders. We found Syria as a country that's now a client state of Iran and is a haven for terrorists. Iraq's better, but there's no improvement in the Middle East. It's probably worse off after this great age of negotiation and diplomacy." [Fox Broadcasting Co,'s Fox News Sunday, 7/16/06] "Look, there is one thing that has to happen now. And that is for a cease-fire not to take place and the Israelis allowed to continue to try to cripple Hezbollah. If that doesn't happen, we're worse off than we were before the war. One of the things that Condoleezza Rice says that was encouraging, she denied that it was absolutely untrue, an Israeli newspaper report, that the U.S. would give Israel one more week, obviously it needs more than one week to do the job." [Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, 7/24/06] Los Angeles Times columnist Max Boot THEN ... "Pity the poor Democratic presidential candidates. They're really in a bind: They have no choice but to join in the international rejoicing over the capture of the Butcher of Baghdad, but at the same time they can't simply offer blanket approval for President Bush's Iraq policy. With the economy picking up steam and Bush stealing their best issue with his Medicare bill, they can't afford to give up this all-important area in which to criticize the incumbent. But what can they say when the situation in Iraq appears to be looking up?" [Los Angeles Times, 12/16/03] "Iraq is starting to resemble the 1994 movie 'Speed.' Like the bus on which Sandra Bullock and company were trapped, the country is in constant danger of blowing up. To avoid disaster, it has to keep moving, crashing through some obstacles and avoiding others. As long as it maintains momentum, its occupants will survive. [...] More bombs, both real and metaphorical, are certain to go off in the days ahead, but Iraq already has confounded many Western 'progressives' who doubted that the Arab world could ever make progress. The bus may be rickety and it may have lost some passengers, but -- guess what? -- it's on schedule toward its final destination: democracy." [Los Angeles Times, 3/4/04] "At the time, this kind of talk was dismissed by pretty much everyone not employed by the White House as neocon nuttiness. Democracy in the Middle East? Introduced by way of Iraq? You've got to be kidding! The only real debate in sophisticated circles was whether those who talked of democracy were simply naive fools or whether their risible rhetoric was meant to hide some sinister motive."Well, who's the simpleton now? Those who dreamed of spreading democracy to the Arabs or those who denied that it could ever happen? Of course, the outcome is far from clear, and even in Iraq democracy is hardly well established. Yet some pretty extraordinary things have been happening in the last few weeks. [...] Maybe, just maybe, those neocons weren't so nutty after all." [Los Angeles Times, 3/3/05] NOW ... "The real problem is that Israel's response has been all too proportional. So far it has only gone after Hamas and Hezbollah. (Some collateral damage is inevitable because these groups hide among civilians.) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is showing superhuman restraint by not, at the very least, "accidentally" bombing the Syrian and Iranian embassies in Beirut, which serve as Hezbollah liaison offices. [...] Iran may be too far away for much Israeli retaliation beyond a single strike on its nuclear weapons complex. (Now wouldn't be a bad time.) But Syria is weak and next door. To secure its borders, Israel needs to hit the Assad regime. Hard. If it does, it will be doing Washington's dirty work. Our best response is exactly what Bush has done so far -- reject premature calls for a cease-fire and let Israel finish the job." [The Weekly Standard, 7/20/06] Former CIA director James Woolsey THEN ... "If Saddam uses biological weapons that have been genetically modified, in order to be resistant to vaccines for anthrax, or to antibiotics or to smallpox, and you find out, because you've waited, at some point, that it was this six-month period in which he was able to do that, who that is arguing for the delay will stand up and take responsibility and say, gee, you know, I'm really sorry? [...] I don't think it's hypothetical at all. And nor do people who work on biological weapons believe that it is hypothetical. I would submit to you that genetically modified work is going on in Iraq right now. It's clear that we know that. And I think people who argue for delay, need to take responsibility for the consequences of the delay they're alleging." [ABC's Nightline, 3/4/03] "It's really quite fitting at the end of this incredible year, 2003, that Saddam is captured by American soldiers hiding in a hole, together with other rats. And I think we ought to play it that way. Humiliation, not physical abuse or anything like that, but letting it be known that this was the way he was caught, humbled, not only captured, is I think an important part of all of this. And it will have an effect, also, on the Tikritis, other Tikritis and Ba'athist resistance. There could still or will still be some attacks. There was a bloody one today, killing 20, as your report said, 20 police. But this is, if not the beginning of the end, this is at least the end of the beginning of getting rid of the Ba'athist resistance." [CNN Live Event, 12/14/03] NOW ... "I think we ought to execute some air strikes against Syria, against the instruments of power of that state, against the airport, which is the place where the weapons shuttle through from Iran to Hezbollah and Hamas. I think both Syria and Iran think that we're cowards. [...] Iran has drawn a line in the sand. They sent Hezbollah and Hamas against Israel. They're pushing their nuclear weapons program. They're helping North Korea, working with them on a ballistic missile program. They're doing their best to take over southern Iraq with Muqtad al-Sadr and some of their other proxies. This is a very serious challenge from Iran, and we need to weaken them badly, and undermining the Syrian government with air strikes would help weaken them badly." [Fox News' Big Story with John Gibson, 7/17/06] "Syria has been deeply involved in what's going on with Hezbollah and Hamas. And I think that we can work together with the Israelis; we can't expect them to do everything. It might have been better for them to have gone after Syria than Lebanon, but nonetheless they are doing what they believe is in their national interest. And I think that we should not stand here and wait for Iran to come after us. [...] The Sunni Muslims, even in Saudi Arabia, but certainly in Egypt and Jordan and elsewhere, have not come to the support of Iran and Syria and Hezbollah and Hamas in this. So I think we would be not stretching at all to deal with this problem before it manifests itself in some Iranian strike against us in the West." [Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, 7/18/06] Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) THEN ... "I think that this is one of the most powerful cases we could make -- that, in fact, the entire process of peace in the region will become much easier once you don't have Saddam Hussein in Iraq. And I think, frankly, at that point, the Syrians will start backing down and the Iranians will start backing down." [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 12/6/02] NOW ... "The United States should do a couple things. First of all, we should indicate to the Lebanese government that we would be willing to back them if they were willing to take control of their own country, and that if they're not willing to take control of their own country, they need to stay totally out of the fight. Second, we should indicate that as long as there's a single missile in South Lebanon or a single Iranian revolutionary guard in South Lebanon, that Israel has total legitimacy in going in there and taking apart the entire Hezbollah structure as far north as they have to go, and as intensely as they have to go. Third, we should indicate to Syria and to Iran that we will take whatever steps are necessary to stop them from intervening in Lebanon. There's already been a U.N. resolution against Syria for assassinating Lebanese officials. And I think, frankly, we should send several fairly direct signals to Syria and Iran that we are determined that they withdraw from this." [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 7/20/06] "Well, first of all, it's very clear that the United States should have as goals to replace the North Korean, Iranian, and Syrian dictatorships with governments run by people in their countries as democracies who want to be prosperous and free and safe, and who don't want to spend all of their money trying to be military powers. I think there are ways, as Ronald Reagan did, to do that nonviolently, but I think that should be our goal." [Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, 7/26/06] Fox News host Sean Hannity THEN ... "You know what I find amazing -- one of the most successful military operations -- I mean, the left wanted to criticize the president so bad, 'It's a quagmire, we don't have enough troops, the battle plan needs to be written straight across the board.' [...] [T]he Democrats are bragging they think we didn't do the right thing here." [Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, 4/11/03] "[T]he proof will be in the pudding. Because they're going to see that their country is a lot freer, they'll have more liberty. [...] You keep mentioning these same naysayers. On every step of the way, they thought this military operation, they were lecturing us on how it wasn't well thought out. This rolling was a bad idea, we didn't have enough troops there, it was going to be a quagmire. All of these thousands, according to naysayers, of troops are going to die. [...] [T]hey've actually made fools of them themselves." [Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, 4/10/03] "Democracy may be alive in the Middle East. Now, over the weekend, various news outlets reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has ordered his country's constitution changed to allow for challengers on this fall's presidential ballot, a move that Mubarak himself had recently dismissed as futile. And earlier today, this was the scene in Beirut, Lebanon, where more than 25,000 protesters cheered the resignation of the pro-Syrian puppet government. Now, the question is, for the first time in decades, could Lebanon now be looking at the dawn of a possible peaceful day? And could either of these things have happened without the spread of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan? Well, maybe angry liberals should think about that when they criticize President Bush's foreign policy." [Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, 2/28/05] "We're close to being finished [in Iraq]." [Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, 11/21/05] NOW ... "We know that Iran and Syria, that they're responsible. They've been behind -- they've supported these terrorist acts from the very beginning, the kidnapping of these solders. They're surrogates for Hezbollah. They're surrogates for Hamas, Islamic Jihad. So now the question is raised, if it's really Syria and Iran, [former vice presidential candidate] Jack [Kemp], and we know that they're responsible, does that -- can reasonable people conclude that we're going to have to have a conflict with them and that we have to then judge whether or not that conflict would better to take place now than later, when perhaps they have nuclear weapons?" [Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, 7/16/06] "I think one of the questions for the United States is, 'Are we, the United States, going to have to in the future, near future, perhaps in the distant future, be at war with Islamic fascist terror regimes like Syria, like Iran?' And if the answer to that question is yes, we're going to have to be at war and that they're at war with us, that they attacked us on 9-11, you're dealing with these terror groups today. Isn't it better to make the decision -- for the United States to engage that before they have nuclear weapons?"[Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, 7/17/06] "But is the world defining peace as the absence of overt conflict? Isn't peace defined by the ability to defend yourself? For example, are we going to wait until we have a nuclear-armed Iran until we deal with a guy that denies the Holocaust, and wants to annihilate Israel, and wipe them off the face of the Earth?" [Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, 7/19/06] "But don't we have to defeat Syria and Iran? If they are a terrorist, they're fomenting terror, they want to annihilate Israel, ultimately, don't we have to defeat them? And if we do, wouldn't it be better before they got a nuclear capability of some kind?" [Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, 7/20/06] —J.K., R.M., K.D.,

Ann Coulter gotta be sleeping with the suits at MSGOP for air time On MSNBC, Coulter called Gore a "total fag," while Matthews said "we'd love to have her back" Summary: Chris Matthews asked pundit Ann Coulter, "How do you know that Bill Clinton is gay?" -- referring to her comment the night before on CNBC's The Big Idea that Clinton "show[s] some level of latent homosexuality." Coulter responded, "I don't know if he's gay. But Al Gore -- total fag." In concluding the interview, Matthews said of Coulter, "We'd love to have her back." On the July 27 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, "How do you know that [former President] Bill Clinton is gay?" -- referring to her comment the night before on CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch that Clinton "show[s] some level of latent homosexuality." Coulter responded, "I don't know if he's gay. But [former Vice President] Al Gore -- total fag." She went on to defend her theory about Clinton's sexuality by stating that "everyone has always known, widely promiscuous heterosexual men have, as I say, a whiff of the bathhouse about them." Coulter claimed she was "just kidding" about Gore, but said of her theory about Clinton, "It's not only not a joke, it's not even surprising." Further, Coulter remarked that when "most Americans" heard that an Israeli airstrike had hit a United Nations observer post in south Lebanon on July 25, killing four U.N. observers, they hoped to hear similar news about "the installation on 42nd Street" -- presumably a reference to the U.N. headquarters in New York City. Earlier in the interview, Coulter had said she would "not be averse to taking military action against Iran," adding that "we can take care of Iran so that they couldn't build a transistor radio." Matthews went on to ask her," So you would bomb them into the Stone Age?" Coulter responded, "It's either that or have a lunatic sitting on top of nukes. If that's what my choice is -- yes." At the beginning of the interview, Matthews had remarked that Coulter reminded him of "the young George Will." In concluding the interview, he said of Coulter, "We'd love to have her back." From the July 27 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews: MATTHEWS: You are a controversial lady. You write beautifully. You have a brilliant brain. I stayed up last night reading your chapter on Willie Horton which was absolutely stunning in its satire, it reminded me of the young [conservative columnist] George Will. COULTER: Thank you. [...] MATTHEWS: OK, Iran. How about Iran? It's a closer danger -- COULTER: It's a much bigger problem when they have nukes. MATTHEWS: It's a closer danger in the Middle East because you've got Israel, you got Saudi Arabia. Very fat targets. COULTER: That's when you have someone crazy -- MATTHEWS: What do you do there? What do you do in Iran? COULTER: -- who's claiming he's building nukes. You want to go in and take them out. MATTHEWS: What do you do in Iran, if you're president? COULTER: I don't know what they know, but I would not be averse to military action, and I know people keep saying -- MATTHEWS: You mean a strike against their nuclear facilities? COULTER: People keep saying, you know, the material itself -- it can be hidden in caves -- we can't find it. Oh, we can take care of Iran so that they couldn't build a transistor radio. Who cares if they have nuclear material. MATTHEWS: So you'd bomb them into the Stone Age? COULTER: Maybe. MATTHEWS: You would? Really, as president? COULTER: It's either that or have a lunatic sitting on top of nukes. If that's what my choice is, yes. MATTHEWS: Take 'em down. [...] MATTHEWS: I'm back in heaven. I think I'm on college tour again. This is the University of Hardball, here we are. We have Ann Coulter. Look at her, look at her, the picture of heaven. All brain, no heart. Just kidding! OK, let's go now to the first question. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. If we're fighting Islamofascism in the war on terror, I'm wondering if we can use American Muslims to fight the war on culture in the United States. [...] MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about your private life. How do you know that Bill Clinton's gay? COULTER: He may not be gay, but Al Gore, total fag. No, I'm just kidding. As someone, no -- MATTHEWS: That's based on your private life? COULTER: No, that's a joke. MATTHEWS: OK. COULTER: That's what we call in the writing business, a joke. No, I mean, I state a manifestly obvious fact. Someone pointed out on Free Republic, I think a little disgruntled yesterday, Ann's amazing capacity is to state the obvious and make it news. I mean, everyone has always known, widely promiscuous heterosexual men have, as I say, a whiff of the bathhouse about them. MATTHEWS: But, you know, you were on -- I was watching you on Deutsch [CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch] last night. I watched it because it was all over the blog sites, you can't miss it. COULTER: Yes! MATTHEWS: You were immortal in that interview by the way. And you said it because you were sort of pushed to say it. I just wonder if you believe it. COULTER This is standard -- MATTHEWS: It's a joke. It's a joke. COULTER I -- I -- MATTHEWS: It's not a joke. COULTER It's not only not a joke, it's not even surprising. If feminists were not so in love with Bill Clinton, this is like standard -- MATTHEWS: OK. COULTER For any feminist with the benefit of something beyond a community-college education, this is standard -- MATTHEWS: OK. COULTER -- feminist doctrine that wild promiscuity shows a fear-hostility of women. MATTHEWS: Well, thanks, Ann. You're great. COULTER Thank you. [...] AUDIENCE MEMBER: Ann, I want to get your thoughts on [U.N. Secretary General] Kofi Annan this week basically coming out and demanding that Israel abide by a cease-fire funded by the U.N. But meanwhile, Kofi Annan, after three years of Muslims beating down -- black Muslims in the Darfur area, all Kofi Annan has done is stood there and claimed that there'll be meeting after meeting -- they take out the word "ethnic cleansing," and then we're being lectured to from liberals about hatred, when I remember in 1994, when we had a liberal Congress and a liberal president, they did nothing in Rwanda. COULTER: Right. Well, Kofi Annan and the U.N. peacekeepers have done a terrific job keeping the peace. And as you know, Israel mistakenly bombed some of them a few days ago. I think most Americans are looking at that, hoping they can hear about the installation on 42nd Street. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Ann. COULTER: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming on. And a smart lady. Her book's called Godless. Sometimes being smart isn't enough for a civil discourse. We'd love to have her back. —J.K., K.D., R.S.K., & J.M. Couple of takes one Ann Coulter must be a demon in the sheets that the suits at MSGOP to give her unwanted air time.. For a woman who claims to be educated she sounds like one of those short bus kids that writes on the Free Republic message boards. Second take could you think what would happen if someone on the left said something nasty about a former Republican Vice President accusing them being gay or heaven forbid say something about Saint Ronnie of Reagan? I tell you Sean Hannity will be bitching about it on his radio show and his tv show, Rush will be bitching about it for 3 hours, Laura Ingraham would probably have to wait for her talking points to be faxed before she start bitching and Joe Scarborough after a session of fake outrage class will be whining about it for a week. Oh yeah O'Reilly will have his zombies emailthem or he tell them to boycott.

Pelosi: GOP minimum wage bill is a sham Pelosi: Republican minimum wage bill is a political sham RAW STORYPublished: Friday July 28, 2006 Print This Email This With House Republicans ready to push forward with a bill that will increase the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the floor to blast the measure, calling it a "political sham," RAW STORY has learned. "Mr. Speaker, the bill before us this evening is an insult to the intelligence of the American people," Pelosi said. "It is also an insult to the nearly 7 million Americans who depend on an increase in the minimum wage to live from paycheck to paycheck." "It is a political stunt," Pelosi added. "It isn't a sincere effort to give an increase in the minimum wage." Pelosi blasted Republicans for previously "boasting" that they've helped stall legislation to raise minimum wage for nine years. "Republicans boast that they have held out for nine years, keeping the minimum wage at $5.15 an hour," Pelosi continued. "That's their proud boast. Don't take it from me; it's in the public record." "So for them to come to the floor tonight to try to give the illusion that they are sincerely trying to raise the minimum wage when they know that it is dead on arrival at the United States Senate is an insult to the intelligence and hard work of the American people," said Pelosi. "We are robbing America's families who are struggling for a better future for their children in order to give a tax cut of $800 billion," Pelosi added. Meanwhile, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) called the bill "the best shot [they've] got." He predicts a "comfortable victory," the AP reports.

Whose' moral Clarity? Whose 'Moral Clarity'? By Robert ParryJuly 27, 2006 George W. Bush is polishing up his “moral clarity” argument as he and his chief diplomat, Condoleezza Rice, signal to the Israelis that they should press ahead in crushing “terrorist” organizations like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Yet if there is any place in the world that lacks “moral clarity,” it is the Middle East – which is why Bush’s vision of the region has proved so dangerous. Rather than perceiving shades of gray and finding areas of compromise, Bush insists that everything is black and white – and thus justifies the use of overwhelming force to destroy evil wherever Bush sees it. But even on issues where U.S. government officials and leading pundits speak in unison – denouncing “terrorist” groups like Hezbollah, for instance – there is far more ambiguity than Americans are being told. Take, for instance, the widespread agreement that Hezbollah earned the opprobrium as “terrorist” because one of its suicide bombers destroyed the U.S. Marine barracks in 1983 killing 241 American servicemen in Beirut. While this incident is routinely cited as the indisputable evidence that Hezbollah is an evil “terrorist” organization, the reality is much murkier. Indeed, under any objective definition of “terrorism,” the Beirut bombing would not qualify as a “terrorist” act. “Terrorism” is classically defined as violence against civilians to achieve a political goal. In the case of the Marines, however, their status had changed from an original peacekeeping mission in the midst of Lebanon’s civil war into the role of combatant as the Reagan administration allowed “mission creep” to affect the assignment. Heeding the advice of then-national security adviser Robert McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan authorized the USS New Jersey to fire long-distance shells into Muslim villages in the Bekaa Valley, killing civilians and convincing Shiite militants that the United States had joined the conflict. On Oct. 23, 1983, Shiite militants struck back, sending a suicide truck bomber through U.S. security positions and demolishing the high-rise Marine barracks. “When the shells started falling on the Shiites, they assumed the American ‘referee’ had taken sides,” Gen. Colin Powell wrote about the incident in his memoirs, My American Journey. In other words, even Colin Powell, who was then military adviser to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, recognized that the U.S. military intervention had altered the status of the Marines in the eyes of the Shiites. False History Yet, more than two decades later, senior U.S. officials continue to cite the Beirut bombing as Exhibit A on a list of past “terrorist” incidents that didn’t elicit a sufficiently harsh U.S. retaliation. “Over the last several decades, Americans have seen how the terrorists pursue their objectives,” Vice President Dick Cheney said in a March 6, 2006, speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). “Simply stated, they would hit us, but we would not hit back hard enough. In Beirut in 1983, terrorists killed 241 Americans, and afterward U.S. forces withdrew from Beirut.” But, in reality, the tit-for-tat violence in Beirut continued. Then-CIA director William Casey ordered secret counterterrorism operations against Islamic radicals. As retaliation, the Shiites targeted more Americans. Another bomb destroyed the U.S. Embassy and killed most of the CIA station. Casey dispatched veteran CIA officer William Buckley to fill the void. But on March 14, 1984, Buckley was spirited off the streets of Beirut to face torture and death. In 1985, Casey targeted Hezbollah leader Sheikh Fadlallah in an operation that included hiring operatives who detonated a car bomb outside the Beirut apartment building where Fadlallah lived. As described by Bob Woodward in Veil, “the car exploded, killing 80 people and wounding 200, leaving devastation, fires and collapsed buildings. Anyone who had happened to be in the immediate neighborhood was killed, hurt or terrorized, but Fadlallah escaped without injury. His followers strung a huge ‘Made in the USA’ banner in front of a building that had been blown out.” Historians trace the moral ambiguity between the West and Islam back even further, to the Crusades fought a millennium ago. Though the West has romanticized the image of chivalrous knights in shining armor protecting the Holy Lands from infidels, the Islamic world remembers a bloody Christian religious war waged against Arabs. In 1099, for instance, the Crusaders massacred many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. So, after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, when Bush called his “war on terror” a new “crusade,” al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden pounced on Bush’s gaffe to rally Islamic fundamentalists. A typed statement attributed to bin Laden called the coming war “the new Christian-Jewish crusade led by the big crusader Bush under the flag of the cross.” Israel-Palestine On the Israeli-Palestinian front, most Americans believe that the Arabs are the ones responsible for “terrorism” and the Israelis only react to unspeakable provocations, such as suicide bombings at restaurants and other civilian targets. But the deeper reality is that neither side has clean hands. During the Israeli fight for independence in the late 1940s, Zionist extremists, including later national leaders Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin, were members of terrorist groups that attacked Palestinian civilians and British authorities. In one famous case, Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, where British officials and other foreigners lived, was blown up. Zionist extremists also used terror tactics, including killing civilians, to drive Palestinians off land that became part of Israel. Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon – directed by then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon – led to the massacre of some 1,800 Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. The Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon continued for 18 years until Hezbollah militants using guerrilla tactics and suicide bombings forced Israel to withdraw in 2000. Ignoring this morally murky history, Bush and his neoconservative supporters have presented the ongoing bloodshed to the American people in a crystal “moral clarity.” Underlying some of these arguments also is a less-than-subtle appeal to anti-Arab bigotry. American politicians – both Republican and Democrat – have eagerly lined up behind Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman, despite his sometimes crudely anti-Muslim remarks. For instance, at that March 6 AIPAC conference where Cheney spoke, Gillerman delighted the crowd with the quip, “While it may be true – and probably is – that not all Muslims are terrorists, it also happens to be true that nearly all terrorists are Muslim.” On July 17, sharing the stage at a pro-Israel rally with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and other politicians, Gillerman proudly defended Israel’s “disproportionate” violence against targets in Lebanon. “Let us finish the job,” Gillerman told the crowd. “We will excise the cancer in Lebanon” and “cut off the fingers” of Hezbollah. Responding to international concerns that Israel was using “disproportionate” force in bombing Lebanon and killing hundreds of civilians, Gillerman said, “You’re damn right we are.” [NYT, July 18, 2006] Media Bias This overt pride in Israel’s “disproportionate” response to a Hezbollah raid on an Israeli military outpost – a reaction that has claimed the lives of some 400 Lebanese and dislocated about one-fifth of the nation’s population – has carried over into the Op-Ed pages of prominent U.S. newspapers. For instance, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote, “Israel may or may not be the land of milk and honey, but it certainly seems to be the land of disproportionate military response – and a good thing, too.” Cohen suggested that any criticism of Israel for killing excessive numbers of Lebanese civilians bordered on anti-Semitism. “The dire consequences of proportionality are so clear that it makes you wonder if it is a fig leaf for anti-Israel sentiment in general,” Cohen wrote. “Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that proportionality is madness. … It is not good enough to take out this or that missile battery. It is necessary to reestablish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights.” In effect, Cohen called for the collective punishment of the Lebanese population in retaliation for the actions of Hezbollah, including the capture of two Israeli soldiers in support of a proposed prisoner exchange and the firing of unguided rockets into cities in northern Israel. “The only way to ensure that [Israeli] babies don’t die in their cribs and old people in the streets [of Israel] is to make the Lebanese or the Palestinians understand that if they, no matter how reluctantly, host those rockets, they will pay a very, very steep price,” Cohen wrote. Overlaying his deconstruction of the Nuremberg principles, which prohibit the retaliatory killings of civilians, Cohen concluded his essay with a foul topping of racism, anti-Muslim bigotry and an implicit rationalization for ethnic cleansing: “Israel is, as I have often said, unfortunately located, gentrifying a pretty bad neighborhood. But the world is full of dislocated peoples, and we ourselves live in a country where the Indians were pushed out of the way so that – oh, what irony! – the owners of slaves could spread liberty and democracy from sea to shining sea. As for Europe, who today cries for the Greeks of Anatolia or the Germans of Bohemia?” [Washington Post, July 25, 2006] But one lesson of six decades of post-Nuremberg history is that there sometimes are consequences for world leaders and even propagandists who whip populations into frenzies of ethnic or racial violence. Granted, those brought to account – the Serb ethnic cleansers or the Rwandan killers – are often from relatively weak countries with few powerful defenders. But there may be lines even in the Middle East that – if crossed – could forever sully the names of the perpetrators and possibly their governments or armies.

Repuglicans: You can have minimum wage but Paris Hilton needs her tax cuts

Republicans tie minimum wage to tax cut - Yahoo! News Congress would pass an increase in the minimum wage before leaving Washington for vacation, but only as part of a package rolling back taxes on the heirs of multimillionaires, a Senate leadership aide said Friday. The move comes after almost 50 rank-and-file Republican lawmakers pressed House leaders — who strongly oppose the wage hike and have thus far prevented a vote — to schedule the measure for debate. Democrats have been hammering away on the wage hike issue and have public opinion behind them "We weren't going to be denied," said Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, a leader in the effort. "How can you defend $5.15 an hour in today's economy?" It was a decade ago, during the hotly contested campaign year of 1996, that Congress voted to increase the minimum wage. A person working 40 hours per week at minimum wage makes $10,700, which is below the poverty line for workers with families.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Dick DeVos is whinning about negative attacks?

Voice the Vote Fails to File Campaign Finance Report Hitler ad PAC, Mongo still hiding connections to DeVos and his supporters LANSING- Today Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer criticized the political action committee (PAC) Voice the Vote for failing to file a campaign finance report with the Secretary of State. The Voice the Vote’s failure to disclose its supporters comes on the heels of its leader Adolph Mongo flip-flopping on who paid for the infamous ad which compared Nazi leader Adolf Hitler to Governor Granholm and several former Democratic Presidents. Mongo originally said the PAC’s supporters paid for ad, but a week later said that he had paid for it. Mongo and the Dick DeVos for Governor campaign have also contradicted themselves on whether or not Mongo has ever met DeVos and Michigan Republican Party Chair Saul Anuzis has admitted to meeting with Mongo. “The cover up continues by Adolph Mongo and Dick DeVos,” said Brewer. “Mongo started Voice the Vote with the help of some undisclosed supporters and the group’s sole purpose has been to help Dick DeVos’ campaign. It’s time to for the public to finally who is paying Mongo and what their connections to DeVos are.” Voice the Vote has been working to elect Dick DeVos by gathering signatures in support of him. Nataki Harbin, Mongo’s stepdaughter and Voice the Vote political director, told WJR on July 6, 2006, “For the past month we’ve been collecting signatures in support for Dick DeVos.” Audio at: Adolph Mongo and DeVos spokesman John Truscott have contradicted themselves several times when asked about Mongo’s connection to DeVos. Who paid for the Hitler ad?: Flip Frank Beckman: Where did the money for the ad come from? Adolph Mongo: Donations. Frank Beckman: From? Adolph Mongo: From people that support voice the vote. Audio at: (Mongo with Frank Beckman, WJR, July 7, 2006) Flop Tim Skubick: Who paid for the ad? Adolph Mongo: Who paid for the ad? Well you know I had a credit. Tim Skubick: It’s a simple question. Who paid for the ad? Adolph Mongo: Me. Tim Skubick: You? Adolph Mongo: Me. I work for a living. I had a credit with the Michigan Chronicle. Video at: Adolph Mongo with Tim Skubick, Off the Record, July 14, 2006 Did DeVos meet Mongo?: Flip For his part, Mr. Mongo said he is not on the DeVos payroll, nor have any DeVos supporters contributed to Voice the Vote. … “He doesn't know me, and I've never met him," Mr. Mongo said. (Gongwer, July 7, 2006) “There was a pancake event Thursday sponsored by Crain's," Truscott said. "It was a public event that you paid to get in to. If he (Mongo) was there, it had nothing to do with us. I wouldn't even know him if I saw him. We had a table of people at the event. I'd say there were about 200 to 250 people there. If he was there, he wasn't part of our table.” (MIRS Capitol Capsule, July 7, 2006) Flop Peter Luke: So you’ve never met him Adolph Mongo: I met him over at pancake and politic [sic] at the DAC one time….I met him and I wanted to meet him... Video at: (Adolph Mongo with Peter Luke, Off the Record, July 14, 2006) As for allegations that a Mongo-DeVos connection is supported by the encounter at the Pancakes and Politics event, Mr. Truscott said it is plausible the two introduced themselves to each other when Mr. DeVos sat down "for three minutes" prior to speaking. (Gongwer, July 14, 2006) Immediately following the taping of WWJ-TV’s “Michigan Matters” with Brewer on July 13, 2006, Saul Anuzis was asked by Brewer if he had met with Adolph Mongo. He replied, “Yes I have.” Anuzis’ admission comes after he failed to denounce the Hitler ad. Tim Skubick: Why didn’t you comment at the time, everybody else commented? Anuzis: (long pause) You didn’t call me. Video at (Anuzis with Skubick at MIGOP press conference, July 11, 2006)

The Infallible President

The infallible president Sidney Blumenthal 26 - 7 - 2006 George W Bush's latest travails reflect the crisis of the paranoid style that has sustained Republican one-party rule, says Sidney Blumenthal. President Bush's first veto marks the first time he has lost control of the Republican Congress. But it is significant for more than that. Until now he had felt no need to assert his executive power over the legislative branch. Congress had been whipped into line to uphold his every wish and stifle nearly every dissent. Almost no oversight hearings were held. Investigations into the Bush administration's scandals were quashed. Potentially troublesome reports were twisted and distorted to smear critics and create scapegoats, like the Senate select intelligence committee's report on faulty intelligence leading into the Iraq war. Legislation, which originates in the House of Representatives, was carefully filtered by imposition of the iron rule that it must always meet the approval of the majority of the majority. By employing this standard, the Republican House leadership, acting as proxy for the White House, managed to rely on the right wing to dominate the entire congressional process. The extraordinary power Bush has exercised is unprecedented. Bill Clinton issued thirty-seven vetoes, George HW Bush forty-four, and Ronald Reagan seventy-eight. To be sure, they had to contend with Congresses led by the opposing party. Nonetheless, all presidents going back to the 1840s, and presidents before them, used the veto power, even when their parties were in the congressional majority. Just as the absence of any Bush vetoes has highlighted his absolute power, his recourse to the veto signals its decline. The vote in the Senate on 18 July in favour of federal support for medical research using embryonic stem-cells, which have the potential to cure many diseases and disabilities, while short of the two-thirds required to override a veto, was an overwhelming break with Bush, sixty-three to thirty-seven. The administration has struck back with false claims made by Karl Rove (assuming the role of science advisor) that adult stem-cells are equivalent to embryonic ones and the accusation, made by White House press secretary Tony Snow, that using the thousands of routinely discarded embryos for research would amount to "murder". On 19 July, Bush declared about the bill: "It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect. So I vetoed it." Sidney Blumenthal is a former assistant and senior adviser to President Clinton. He is the author of The Clinton Wars (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003) and writes a column for Salon and the Guardian. Also by Sidney Blumenthal in openDemocracy: "Bush's Potemkin village presidency" (September 2005) "Republican tremors" (October 2005) "George W Bush: home alone" (October 2005) "Dick Cheney's day of reckoning" (November 2005) "Dick Cheney's shadow play" (November 2005) "Condoleezza Rice's troubling journey" (December 2005) "Bush's surveillance network" (December 2005) "Bush's shadow government exposed" (January 2006) "The Republican system" (January 2006) "George W Bush: running on empty" (February 2006) "The rules of the game" (February 2006) " The imprisoned president"(March 2006) "Bush's world of delusion" (March 2006) "Bush's truth" (April 2006) "The secret passion of George W Bush"(May 2006) "The ruin of the CIA" (May 2005) "The president of dreams" (May 2006) "The Bush way of war" (June 2006) "The rule of law vs the war paradigm"(July 2006) The always-right president One-party congressional rule has been indispensable to Bush's imperial presidency. Its faltering reflects Republican panic in anticipation of the mid-term elections, the disintegration of Bush's authority and of his concept of a radical presidency. As the consequences of Bush's rule bear down on the Republicans, the right demands that he recommit to the radicalism that has entangled him in one fiasco after another. Bush's latest crisis is also a crisis of the paranoid style that has been instrumental in sustaining Republican ascendancy. The first principle underlying the Bush presidency was never more succinctly articulated than at the 12 July hearing called by the Senate judiciary committee after the Supreme Court had ruled in Hamdan vs Rumsfeld that the administration's detainee policy was in violation of the Geneva conventions and without a legal basis. Steven Bradbury, the acting assistant attorney-general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel at the department of justice, appeared to defend not only the discredited policy but also the notion that as commander-in-chief Bush has the authority to make or enforce any law he wants – the explicit basis of the infamous torture memo of 2002. Senator Patrick Leahy (Democrat, Vermont), asked Bradbury about the president's bizarre claim that the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision in fact "upheld his position on Guantánamo". "Was the president right or was he wrong?" asked Leahy. "It's under the law of war – ", said Bradbury. Leahy repeated his question: "Was the president right or was he wrong?" Bradbury then delivered his immortal reply: "The president is always right." Bradbury meant more than that Bush personally is "always right". He had condensed into a phrase the legal theory of presidential infallibility. In his capacity of commander-in-chief, the president can never be wrong, simply because he is president. Despite the Supreme Court's ruling in Hamdan that presidential powers in foreign policy do not override or supplant those assigned by the constitution to Congress, Bradbury instinctively fell back on the central dogma of the Bush White House. According to the doctrine, the rule of law is just an expression of executive fiat. The president can suspend due process of detainees, conduct domestic surveillance without warrants, and decide which laws and which parts of laws he will enforce by appending signing statements to legislation at will. The president becomes an elective monarch who is above checks and balances. On 18 July, attorney-general Alberto Gonzales appeared before the Senate judiciary committee, where he reiterated his belief in presidential infallibility. Under questioning, he admitted that Bush himself had denied security clearances to the justice department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), thereby thwarting its investigation into whether government lawyers had acted properly in approving and overseeing the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic surveillance, ordered by the president to evade the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Never before in its thirty-one-year history has the OPR been denied clearances, far less through the direct intervention of the president. But Gonzales insisted that the president cannot do wrong. "The president of the United States makes decisions about who is ultimately given access", he said. And he is always right. Case closed. The authoritarian landscapeBush's cover-up, legitimate because he says it is, and Gonzales's defence, smug in his certitude, are only the latest wrinkles in his radical presidency. "The president and vice-president, it appears", writes John W Dean, the former counsel to President Nixon, in his new book, Conservatives Without Conscience, "believe the lesson of Watergate was not to stay within the law, but rather not to get caught. And if you do get caught, claim that the president can do whatever he thinks necessary in the name of national security." The metastasising of conservatism under Bush is a problem that has naturally obsessed Dean. His part in the Watergate drama as the witness who stepped forward to describe a "cancer on the presidency" has given him an unparalleled insight into the roots of the current presidency's pathology. He recalls the words of Charles Colson, Nixon's counsellor and overseer of dirty tricks: "I would do anything the president of the United States would ask me to do, period." This vow of unthinking obedience is a doctrinal forerunner of Bush's notion of presidential infallibility. Dean, moreover, was close to Barry Goldwater, progenitor of the conservative movement and advocate of limited government. Dean had been the high-school roommate of Barry Goldwater Jr and had become close to his father. In his retirement, the senator from Arizona who had been the Republican presidential nominee in 1964 had become increasingly upset at the direction of the Republican Party and the influence of the religious right. He and Dean talked about writing a book about the perverse evolution away from conservatism as he believed in it, but his illness and death prevented him from the task. Now, Dean has published Conservatives Without Conscience, whose title is a riff on Goldwater's creedal Conscience of a Conservative, and intended as a homage. Conservatism, as Dean sees it, has been transformed into authoritarianism. In his book, he revives analysis of the social psychology of the right that its ideologues spent decades trying to deflect and discourage. In 1950, Theodor Adorno and a team of social scientists published The Authoritarian Personality, exploring the psychological underpinnings of those attracted to Nazi, fascist and rightwing movements. In the immediate aftermath of Senator Joseph McCarthy's rise and fall, the leading American sociologists and historians of the time – Daniel Bell, David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, Richard Hofstadter, Seymour Martin Lipset and others – contributed in 1955 to The New American Right, examining the status anxieties of reactionary populism. The 1964 Goldwater campaign provided grist for historian Hofstadter to offer his memorable description of the "paranoid style" of the "pseudo-conservative revolt." While Dean honours Goldwater he picks up where Hofstadter left off. "During the past half century", he writes, "our understanding of authoritarianism has been significantly refined and advanced." In particular, he cites the work of Bob Altemeyer, a social psychologist at the University of Manitoba, whose studies have plumbed the depths of those he calls "right-wing authoritarians." They are submissive toward authority, fundamentalist in orientation, dogmatic, socially isolated and insular, fearful of people different from themselves, hostile to minorities, uncritical toward dominating authority figures, prone to a constant sense of besiegement and panic, and punitive and self-righteous. Altemeyer estimates that 20%-25% of Americans might be categorised as rightwing authoritarians. According to Dean's assessment, "Nixon, for all his faults, had more of a conscience than Bush and Cheney … Our government has become largely authoritarian … run by an array of authoritarian personalities", who flourish "because the growth of contemporary conservatism has generated countless millions of authoritarian followers, people who will not question such actions." But it is Bush's own actions that have produced a political crisis for Republican one-party rule. In their campaign to retain Congress, Republicans are staking their chips on the fear generated by the war on terror and the culture war, doubling and tripling their bets on the paranoid style. To that end, House Republicans have unveiled what they call the "American Values Agenda". Despite the defeat of key parts of the programme – constitutional amendments against gay marriage and flag burning – and the congressional approval of embryonic stem-cell research, the Republicans hope that these expected setbacks will only inflame the conservative base. Their strategy is to remind their followers that enemies surround them and that the president is always right.